Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Give the Best Gift

Just your friendly missionary reminder to share the gospel with at least one person before Christmas. This challenge was issued by Elder Ballard in his talk during our recent General Conference. Did you catch the promise he made? Pretty outstanding! Christmas time makes this very easy.
The church has made it easy. They've released a lot of mormon messages you can share, the 12 talks of Christmas, and there's always the cute pictures on Pinterest. My personal favorite is caroling.
It's so easy. You might get extreme anxiety attacks before pressing the "publish" button. That's normal. Think of what you are sharing! Salvation! Happiness! Answers! Truth!
This means the adversary will do what he can to prevent you from sharing. God has made it easy, but the adversary will make it hard. God rules over darkness. So how do you overcome the trials and excuses?
You can do what I did my first time. I shut my eyes and pushed the button. True story. This is after I came home, too. I was so nervous, I have no idea why. It was only a small scripture from the bible. Every possible negative scenario went through my head. The worse one was, what if nothing happens? For me, everyone not caring about my beliefs was worse than having people question it. Questions are good. Question leads to inquiry and conversation.
I'll tell you one of the secrets that helped me to step out in the mission. People automatically assume that because you're a missionary you have some magic power to talk to anyone and everyone. That's not true. It's a miracle, not magic. This miracle comes more like a gift or a reward. People are scary! Everything you learned about stranger danger had to be forgotten just like that. Everyone is a stranger. You're a stranger. You're companion is usually someone you just met. Not to mention everyone has already decided in their mind not to like you before they meet you. American? Missionary? Youth? Gross. Get out. You're crazy.
Photo Credit: missionary;me Mormonova Knjiga;Croatia
Photographer; Katie Higbee Photography
And we are.
Where there is great good there is great opposition. But do not despair! Never despair! EVER!!!!! Okay?
I remember reading my scriptures after a particularly difficult day. It was one of the gospels in the New Testament, so I probably read a few times, but this time it really hit home.
My mission's saying is "Skoći sa broda!" (said sk-O-chi sa br-O-dah) which means "Jump out the boat." This refers to the story of Peter and Jesus walking on  the water. I was reading this story (again) and one scripture stood out. It's as if it was talking to me. "Fear not. Only believe." 
When ever I started to think "What if they get mad? What if they don't like me? What if they won't listen? What if they beat me up? What if? What if? What if?" I would think to myself over and over "Only believe." It gave me strength. Just repeat it, over and over. Pray over and over. Only believe. It works.
The more I study the gospel, the more I want to share it. Do you have someone in mind? Maybe they just keep coming to your mind? Read your scriptures before sharing the gospel. Study something new. It will get you excited!
I'm reading The Infinite Atonement by Tad Callister. He was the only General Authority to speak while I was at the MTC. I love this book. I LOVE it. If you have not read it, I urge you to do so. Make time for it. It will change your life. I promise you.
The more I learn about the atonement, the more desperately I want to share it.
The gospel is an anomaly in this way. Went it comes to precious things, it is common sense you want to protect it, keep it out of harms way, and share it only with a special selected few. The gospel, however, is very precious. It's the most precious thing I have ever come upon in my life, by far. Yet, unlike most things, the more precious it becomes, the more I want to share it.
There's a seminary video I watched while I was in the field about a girl who receives a gift from her friend. It's a shirt or something cool like that. It comes time for the friend's birthday and the girl doesn't know what to give. So, as you would expect from a seminary video, she gives the gift of the Book of Mormon. In junior high or high school I probably would have rolled my eyes thinking "Like that would actually happen." You might be doing so right now. My eyes would have then rolled right back at the note she writes inside. (Note: I'm paraphrasing.)
"Since you are a special friend, I wanted to give you something very special. This book is the most precious thing I possess. It has helped me through hard times and times of joy. It's the greatest gift I could give."
Doesn't that just make sense? What better gift could you give this season?
You can read Pres. Eyering's thoughts on this matter here.
What's the best gift you've been given? How have you shared the gospel?
How can you not share the greatest thing you have? Only believe.

Enjoy this gem.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Advice From a Friend: Customer Service

You might remember me mentioning once or twice how wearing my missionary tag in Utah Valley gave me new friends. A lot of the time it was someone else who had also come home on either medical leave or medical release.
One of these people I met while out for a meal. He was our waiter. We talked a little bit, he wished me good luck, and we parted ways. That's how most of my "tag earned" friendships went. 
Not long after I was release, a month or two after getting off the plane, my family took a friend to the same restaurant. Just to clarify on some details, ("Or else nothing that follows will seem wondrous." -Charles Dickens.) this is the kind of place where you are assigned to a table by a host. Lo and behold, it was my waiter friend from last time! Not only that, but his waiter helper had been on medical leave twice! The first time he broke his leg in Peru, and he served the rest of his mission in Bolivia. 
The meal was good, the salsa extra hot. Before we left, our waiter brought a special guest check for me.
He explained the podcast was helpful and had some good things in it. He explained where the group therapy took place and who was involved (My Wednesdays are usually spent at the Family History Center) and that was not up and running yet but would be soon. He mentioned he was working with a MYU professor. Before leaving he restated he understood how tough it could be, and how these are just a few things that helped him.
It was a little thing really. I'm use to hearing advice, mostly medical based. I've been told everything from eating 40 cloves of garlic a week to drinking a bottle of magnesium. So it's nothing uncommon for me. I'm sure he must have been nervous. It's never easy to just step out of the norm and do something like that.
Earlier this week, my mom pointed out an article that was making the rounds in social media. Many of my friends had posted it and shared it. The title going around includes the name "Ryan". I'm not 100% certain this is the same Ryan, but I'm 99.9% sure it is. 
Honestly, I don't feel guilty. At all. What happened, happened. It's the strangest thing, but there wasn't and isn't anything I can do about it. I do feel help and hope. Always.
My family has been extremely supportive! I really couldn't ask for anything better! The first time I saw them I was expecting the "so unfortunate look" that people get after something bad happens. I was blown away by their excited smiles! My nephews and nieces were so excited to see me, I don't think they could have cared less what prejudices and stigmas could exist.
As for friends, they're all married, dating, or on missions! I couldn't be more excited for them! My brothers and their families have been taking good care of me, and I spend time with friends as my health will allow. I've made new friends and I've gone on adventures! 
Sometimes people will say weird things to me, and I just roll my eyes and laugh it off. 

The most important thing to remember is that God is in charge. Be honest with yourself and with him. He will help you through trials.
My sister-in-law talked about the little things He is aware of. This conversation happened midday yesterday. By the end I had seen old friends, received a lovely little note from an english student, got a letter from a sestra, found an email from a starješina (elder), danced with my niece, hung out with my a couple brothers, and I didn't have to use any stairs! These are only a few "little things." Honestly, there were too many things to count. I tried.
Faith, Hope, and Charity are always present. I promise you. And each is available to you no matter who you are.
God will help you with your down moments. If you really need friends, and you ask Him through prayer and faith, He will deliver. 

Peace and Blessings!

Matthew 6
 28 And why take ye thought for raiment? aConsider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin:
 29 And yet I say unto you, That even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.
 30 Wherefore, if God so clothe the grass of the field, which to day is, and to morrow is cast into the oven, ashall he not much moreclothe you, O ye of little bfaith?
 31 Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed?
 32 (For after all these things do the Gentiles seek:) for your heavenly Father aknoweth that ye have need of all these things.