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 PriesthoodAlthough, 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.