The Path of Christian Discipleship

The Path of Christian Discipleship

Monday, 29 September 2014

Grateful in Every Circumstance

Hello again,
Another birthday! Happy Birthday Ben! :) Luckily, I have a calendar, else I would not be able to keep up with all of these birthdays! That calendar that you send me last year is awesome! I love it! :)
I heard about the Korean children in the General Relief Society broadcast! As you know I'm sure, sister Burton is the wife of the last mission president in the old Seoul West mission, which is now the Seoul South mission, so they quite enjoyed their visit to Korea a while ago. I quite enjoyed both of the talks they gave when they visited our mission. Did they sing in English?
We also studied President Uchtdorf's talk in Priesthood on Sunday, "Grateful in Every Circumstance." Although, I made the mistake of making a joke when I was asked a question; the teacher drew a glass half full of milk on the board, then asked me if I thought it was good that there was milk in the glass, or if I thought that milk was missing, to which I replied that we never seemed to have milk in our house, so it was good that there was milk in the glass. Following my comment, there was a five minute discussion in which we had to convince the ward that we were not starving to death... oops! :)
In all seriousness, however, I really appreciated that talk and lesson, as I felt it was the completion of a more general lesson I seem to have learned recently. In the experience of certain events this week, I again, unfortunately, yet temporally allowed my emotional disposition to reflect a discouragement that is perhaps naturally generated in response to these specific circumstances. I attempt now to convey in writing some emotions that I have experienced in the past few weeks, yet most intensely over a span of a few days this week, keeping as an excuse for my probable insufficiency the fact that I have not attempted such a venture in my native tongue for a significant period of time in mind.
As a matter of certainty, I have come to understand and appreciate the Atonement on a much more personal and comprehensive level; yet intricately entwined with this heap of fresh knowledge is also a better understanding of the great suffering that fundamentally underlines this expiating sacrifice. Of course, I do not make the blasphemous assertion that I now empathize with this suffering the Saviour experienced as a result of some of my recent obstacles; what I have been called upon to bear does not in any way compare to the monumental feat of the Saviour. Yet, I suppose, I have seriously ventured for the first time in my life toward the riotous waves of discipleship, upon which many much nobler than I have been tossed, buffetted and abused.
Indeed, these waves tenaciously and seemingly unceasingly assault the heart and soul and in moments of desperation, the common cry of frustrated agony seems to fluster unheard amidst swirling winds that agitate the drowning influence of life's greatest sorrows: "where is the dawn?" In such moments, the invariable response to our plight is recognized only as we discipline ourselves to look up, to see the Master's warm smile and beckoning, outsretched hands. Contrary to my initial understanding, I have come to discover that perhaps the influence of the Atonement is not to relieve us of trial, or even to bear us up noticeably at all times. As we rely in faith on the Saviour, He will not let us fall, yet at times, it seems, He will allow us to experience, in a very small way, what He experienced as He took upon Himself the pains and afflictions of the world.
A basic purpose of this life is to learn, and often, He who knows how to succor His people will see fit to let us learn through our suffering, for it is in such suffering that we discover two basic, yet eternal decisions: we can chose to succumb to the buffettings of the adversary, or we can look to the Lord for relief. The former may temporarily relieve some opposition at best, yet in most cases an abandonment of God will simply sever our principle line of hope, thus plummetting us to the depths of despair, as we frantically seek to replace such influence with other temporary sources. The latter, however grants us the chance not necessarily to be lifted immediately, but to be filled with hope as we look up, distracted from the trials that surround us and allows us to see the chances the Saviour gives us to find spiritual respite, with the treasures of knowledge we have gained in our journey. In His great wisdom and mercy, the Saviour will not always calm the storms of our lives, for such is needed to grow; yet He will never let us fall. Armed with such knowledge, I find such great peace every day, regardless of circumstance.
President visited our ward this week and he and his wife gave two excellent talks. I immediately appreciated sister Morrise's talk, as I recoginzed it addressed our investigator's current struggle to read the scriptures. I came to fully appreciate president Morrise's talk yesterday evening, as we visited a part member family. We planned to visit them to follow up on a service challenge we gave them last week, and as we got talking, the less active husband mentioned one of his primary concerns, namely, he felt he did not have as much faith as he once had. We began to talk about faith, referrencing some scriptures, then began to talk about why we came on missions. Elder Anderson talked about his decision, then I began to talk about my decision. I had planned to talk about how my faith grew mostly after I made the decision, then acted on it and started serving, yet something strange happened that I had never experienced before. I said one sentence at most, before my mind went utterly blank. I could not remember anything I had planned to say, even in the slightest. I struggled for several moments, then finally, the topic was changed.
Moments later, the sister missionaries, unaware of our presence, knocked on the door to visit the family, after which we left and the sisters went in. They talked to the couple, especially to the wife, who is an active member, but expressed the concern that she did not know how to recognize the spirit, the very topic president Morrise talked on. The sisters were then able to talk with her and help her. Though it was terribly frustrating at the time, I am very grateful for the experience that I had of a "stupor of thought." I know that God knew exactly what that couple needed to hear and that what I had planned to say was not it! It brings such comfort, knowing that God is in charge and will direct us in this His great and marvelous work. 

Have a wonderful week ... Love you all so much!
Elder Higham

Tuesday, 23 September 2014

The Price Paid

Hello all:

Happy Birthday David!!!! Again, It is not your birthday in Canada yet, but it is here in Korea, so happy birthday! I hope you all had a great week! I don't have much to report on and I have no emails yet from home, from which I can form this email, so I apologize if this email is not very interesting!

This week, I came to understand to a greater extent the blessings available through the atonement of the Saviour. I first read in Mosiah chapter 3, verse 7: "And lo, He shall suffer temptations and pains of body, hunger, thirst and fatigue, even more than man can suffer,

except it be unto death; for behold, blood cometh from every pore, so great shall be His anguish for the wickedness and abominations of His people." It is truly humbling to read of the Saviour's atonement. To think that someone so great willingly suffered so much for people so imperfect, that He might know exactly how to succor them and eventually lift them up to exaltation fills my heart and soul with such great joy. I find great comfort in knowing that He is perfectly capable and willing to help us in all of our specific challenges and concerns.

We fasted this tuesday, for our investigator 이희용 (ee hee yong), specifically to discover how we could best help him prepare for baptism. Fasting as a missionary is hard, I have discovered, particularly when you have no appointments, most of your members work until 11 at night and the weather is not as cool as you are used to! I was a little worn out and felt, more than I normally do, the pain of so many rejections and preconceived hatred on the street as we endeavored to talk to people. I fervently prayed for strength, yet my burden did not seem to be lifted in any degree. We had an appointment scheduled with our bishop, so we ventured to his house at the appropriate time and enjoyed a fabulous meal his wife made (she is an awesome cook!), after which we talked to him about how we could better serve the ward members. As he responded, giving us a few names of people to visit, I felt such an overwhelming feeling of peace and sense of contribution, which I had struggled to feel prior to our appointment with him.

Fast forward a little to Sunday. Again, we had no appointments. I was again feeling slightly discouraged. To be honest, I was feeling quite discouraged. All but one investigator dropped us, and we had to postpone his baptismal date indefinitely, since he struggles to keep all the commitments needed for baptism, and has gotten sick, so is unable to meet very frequently. We watch 'The District' videos as part of our 12 week training program for Elder Anderson, which are normally very inspiring and helpful, but for some reason, watching them this week stimulated some discouragement, as I watched one companionship struggle for two or so months without a baptism, then after hard work, having the opportunity to help someone receive baptism. I selfishly compared myself to him and got frustrated, as I have been working diligently for a year and have still not had the opportunity to see someone progress toward baptism.

So, Sunday afternoon, was a little hard for me. I again prayed fervently, but to no avail, it seemed. I wondered why I did not receive help immediately, as I have before. Nevertheless, I recognized my selfishness in the feelings that I was experiencing and continued to pour out my soul to God. Hours later, as we were about to return home, I received two simple, yet very clear promptings. The first was to work on our member book during dinner, which I had been procrastinating to do for a while, as opposed to watching a conference talk which I had been planning to do. I thought this was a little silly, as I deemed I could find much more encouragement from the words of the prophets and apostles, than from working on a member book. As I started to update information in the member book, and to write notes about the members, I was overcome with such a tremendous love for them, which spread to the Korean people in general. I was lifted beyond what I was initially expecting, which allowed me to perform cheerfully my duties for the rest of the evening.

The second bit of inspiration I received was to write in my journal in English. Lately, I have been writing in Korean, in an effort to improve my writing skills in Korean, yet I felt strongly that I needed to write in English. I found this also to be very beneficial, as it allowed me to freely express some of the feelings that had weighed me down throughout the day.

Through the Atonement of Jesus Christ, we do not only receive salvation, but we can be lifted to overcome every single trial that we face in this life. I have come to know this fact this week. As I noticed, we are not always lifted immediately; Elder Holland, in his talk "missionary work and the atonement" that mom sent me a few weeks ago (I have no doubt that this was also inspired, as it too played a key role in my discoveries of the atonement this week), says that he feels that in missionary work, we are often called upon to, in some very minor extent "walk the road to Gethsemane," that we might know, at least to some degree that price that was paid to lift us through life's adversities ... I know this to be true.

Thank you for your emails, I just read them :) Also, thank you so much for the package that you sent me this week, with all of your letters! I quite enjoyed reading them and feasting on the chocolate that you sent :)

Love you all so much!

Elder Higham

Tuesday, 16 September 2014

Sushi Saga

Hello again!

So, I am not going to talk about the fact that I have been out a year already, save to tell you that I have not received your package yet, but I am sure it will come soon! We go to the temple this week, so perhaps it will be there. Time goes too fast!!

I will supplement my weekly Korean culture fact for an interesting experience I had this week. To preface this story: Elder Anderson visited some more members this week, as part of our goal (to visit a member, or at least have some contact with a member everyday), which miraculously resulted in a referral from one of our young men! We planned to eat sushi together with him and his friend on Saturday, but his friend had another commitment come up, so he could not make it.

We told our young man that we would take him out for sushi instead, where we got closer with him and had the chance to talk a little bit about his friend as well. Then came the time to pay for the bill, which despite the sign in front, indicating a much cheaper price, the total for three people came to $60 dollars!! Thankfully, I had a little extra money saved up for emergencies! :P I did not realize sushi was so expensive! Its not even incredibly tasty! Perhaps my view of Japan is a little biased being in Korea, but I don't think I will ever eat sushi again... It was a good experience though! :)

This week, I conducted my first district meeting. Upon reflection of some of the recent trainings President Morrise has given, I set a theme for our district this transfer of lifelong learning, specifically in the areas of Korean learning, and the development of humility and patience. So, to begin every district meeting, we each share a Korean word/expression/grammar form that we have found to be useful recently, a tip on Korean culture, or report on individual progress in the attributes of humility and patience, all on a rotational basis. I will admit, I was a little nervous at first to give a training, but I was blessed to be supported by the spirit and presented the material much more clearly and more organized than I normally am capable of doing.

I will talk a little bit about our investigator, 이희용 (ee hee yong). As I previously mentioned, he has a baptismal date on the 28. One of my great fears, however, is to baptize someone who is not prepared to make the covenant of baptism, and as Elder Anderson and I were talking about him today in companionship study, we feel that perhaps he might not be ready. We are going to fast tomorrow, striving to discover whether we should postpone his baptismal date, or whether we should push for the 28th.

He is accepting everything very well; we flew through the two big committments that normally prove to be an obstacle for most investigators, namely the law of chastity and the word of wisdom; yet we have not been able to notice any change of sign of true conversion in his disposition, as of yet. Perhaps this stems from a lack of understanding; this past Sunday, for example, we were in our gospel principles class, where he was asked if he knew what the plan of salvation was, to which he responded he did not, despite our having already taught him the entire lesson... He does understand things a little bit more slower than most, which also makes Book of Mormon reading a little bit of a challenge. I have no doubt that he can get to baptism, but perhaps we simply need a little bit more time, to make sure that he understands the extent of the implications associated with baptism.

I was quite dismayed to hear of the death of M. Malenfant. I have learned many things on my mission, several of which I feel to have lacked in High School. Ever since being in his social studies class, I have regretted the pride that I was plagued with, resulting in my frustration with him in the way that he marked exams, as I deemed it to be against my style of learning. He was, in fact, a wonderful teacher and a good man and had a tremendous impact on the french program at Lindsay Thurber, as well as the French exchange program, which he executed impressively well! He will be missed by many, including me.

I hope you all have a great week, love you all very much!

I can't wait for General Conference next month!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Love, Dallin

From the mission talent show

Monday, 1 September 2014

Exact Obedience

Hello all:

I'm sorry this is a tad late, we decided to clean the apartment quickly before we left this week, as opposed to after. Thank you for your emails, I enjoyed reading them! I especially appreciated dad's words of advice and mom it was additionally interesting to hear about your experience at a korean bbq. Do you remember what you ate??

This week, I would like to report on the smells of Korea! As I was endeavoring to notice some things that are different about Korea on the street one day, I suddenly came across a very terrible smell; then two seconds later, it vanished. I think it must have something to do with the humidity, and the food trash but there are some terrible, concentrated smells here that you pass by suddenly and that vanish just as quickly!

During personal study every Monday morning, I review some of the experiences I have had the previous week, as well as some of the things I have studied. I have discovered this simple practice to be quite the enjoyable and spiritual experience, and helps me notice some of the miracles that I quickly tend to forget.

This week, for example, while we were proselyting, I received a subtle prompting to walk down a certain street. I followed the inclination and moments later talked to an atheist man, who gave the multitude of churches as the main reason for his lack of belief in God. Following another subtle prompting, I began to compare his experience with the experience of Joseph Smith, who too felt overwhelmed in a sea of diverse opinion. After that man expressed his interest to meet again, we talked to another man on the same street, who said he felt warm as we were talking to him. We got his number as well. I am truly pleased and grateful for the privilege I have to be serving the Lord and for the situations as those, in which He uses me as an instrument in bringing this great joy to others.

This week, I finished my lesson plans for the 5th lesson. As I was studying the principle of Eternal Marriage, I stumbled upon a verse in the Book of Mormon that impressed me. Alma 57:21 talks of the stripling warriors being taught of their mothers to be exactly obedient. Reading that verse, my mind was summoned to another quote I heard in the MTC. It is as follows: "obedience brings blessings; exact obedience brings miracles."

Perhaps the greatest morsel of wisdom I have gained thus far in my mission experience is the eternal truth that exact obedience (which of necessity is predicated on faith) brings miracles. Often, particularly at the beginning of my mission, I would set aside some principles I considered to be of less importance in Preach My Gospel, favoring instead my personal opinion and knowledge. Despite what logic dictated at the time, I was always wrong! The miracles I have seen on my mission thus far, almost without exception, have been the direct result of my striving to perform missionary work as closely to Preach My Gospel standards as I possibly could.

Before I close, I would like to thank you for the packages that you sent me! I just finished my jar of peanut butter and started trying to read the ensign that you sent me! (I got it last week). It is so nice to get packages and letters from you and I feel so grateful every time you do! With regards to a Christmas package, since you asked, my heart's second most profound desire is to eat more Nutella and peanut butter! My trainer also used to have his family send him brownie mixes, which we thoroughly enjoyed. My heart's most profound desire, however, is to read letters from all of you! I don't care much for the food, but I do quite enjoy getting letters from you :)

Love you all so much!