I find I don't have much to write today. I think we pretty much talked about everything! I really enjoyed my time talking, it was great to hear each of your voices, and catch up a little!
So instead, I'll just share a little something I learned from the Book of Mormon the other day. I was reading it in Spanish, like usual, but I found that things were still jumping off the page to me! I'm reading in the war chapters right now, and I find that I love them! Living in this world every day is a battle, so I think these chapters are just so applicable! I've enjoyed reading about the fortifications before, and pondered how to fortify my own weaknesses. ... chapter 49 verse 3 talks about how the Lamanites (after preparing for years) return to attack the Nephites. But where should they start?! Well, naturally they go to Ammoniah, because they had taken that city before. To their utter dismay and deep disappointment, the Nephites had completely fortified the city! While reading this time, in my mind, I connected the word "city" with "sins." We each have sins or weaknesses that we may feel can't become fortified because we've been defeated there before. This may be because of continued weakness, which causes discouragement. We might mess up in something again, pledge to never do it again, but then we do. Then with renewed prayer and conviction, we say "never again!" But then, we mess up again, and some may eventually think "well, that's it! I'm done." I likened the Lamanites to the adversary. When he's got us once (like the Lamanites had destroyed Ammoniah before) he'll come again and again. But we can be strong and fortified in that thing and Satan with be dismayed and surprised just like the Lamanites!
Well, what did the Lamanites do next? Yup, went to the next weakest spot (just as I believe Satan does-he is bent on our destruction). They went to the city of Noah (verse 12), because they figured that was the next best place. What they didn't know is that Moroni had fortified and strengthened every city (verse 13). So much that they couldn't even enter to fight with the Nephites. We must not give the tempter a place to even enter! Well, it was the same with the city of Noah. The adversary does the same thing. He goes from spot to spot trying to tempt us. Personally, he can't usually ever get me in the really big things, I notice it too much, I'm too obedient there. So what does he do? Tries to get me with doubt, usually self doubt. But that is a sin and weakness that can be strengthened! I know we must continually work to strengthen ourselves in every aspect so that when those Lamanites (or Satan) march from city to city (sin to sin or weakness to weakness) that "behold, great will be his disappointment."
Something else I just thought of while writing this is that I wonder how the Nephites felt after Ammoniah had been defeated the first time? Did they beat themselves up? Maybe. "We're so dumb! What were we thinking?!" Then they recognized their mistake, repented, and listened to and followed Moroni (latter day prophet), I'm sure he was inspired in teaching them how to strengthen the city. My thought is here at this point. With each sandbag they threw down, or each shovel-full of dirt they moved while digging trenches, were they still beating themselves up? Constantly reflecting on how dumb (or prideful or lazy or whatever) they were when the city had been defeated the first time? Reflecting on the pain, grief, and remorse they must have felt? Or were they excitedly doing it, urgently? In other words, even if we're following the prophet and trying our best to strengthen our weaknesses so we don't sin in that thing again, are we urgent, excited, and grateful that we have the tools and truth to repent and become stronger? Or do we beat ourselves up the whole time thinking, "is this going to work? Is it possible that I can overcome this? Is Christ's grace sufficient for me? Not just everyone else, but me?"
The whole thing is making me think of that landmark talk given my Brad Wilcox at BYU- "His Grace is Sufficient" that I've been studying recently. I have so many favorite quotes that I'd like to reference that I think are applicable. Bascially the whole talk! But here's a couple specifically: "Elder Bruce C. Hafen has written, “The Savior’s gift of grace to us is not necessarily limited in time to ‘after’ all we can do. We may receive his grace before, during and after the time when we expend our own efforts” (The Broken Heart [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1989], 155). So grace is not a booster engine that kicks in once our fuel supply is exhausted. Rather, it is our constant energy source. It is not the light at the end of the tunnel but the light that moves us through the tunnel. Grace is not achieved somewhere down the road. It is received right here and right now. It is not a finishing touch; it is the Finisher’s touch (see Hebrews 12:2)." -I know grace is there to help us with each effort to strengthen our weaknesses. Just like it was with the Nephites and each trench of defense they dug.
And another... "Come, come, ye Saints, no toil nor labor fear; But with joy wend your way.
Though hard to you this journey may appear,
Grace shall be as your day.
[“Come, Come, Ye Saints,” Hymns, 2002, no. 30]
“Grace shall be as your day”—what an interesting phrase. We have all sung it hundreds of times, but have we stopped to consider what it means? “Grace shall be as your day”: grace shall be like a day. As dark as night may become, we can always count on the sun coming up. As dark as our trials, sins, and mistakes may appear, we can always have confidence in the grace of Jesus Christ. Do we earn a sunrise? No. Do we have to be worthy of a chance to begin again? No. We just have to accept these blessings and take advantage of them. As sure as each brand-new day, grace—the enabling power of Jesus Christ—is constant. Faithful pioneers knew they were not alone. The task ahead of them was never as great as the power behind them."
One of the greatest overall things I took from that devotional is that many people might be pulling for us. Parents, bishops, mission presidents, siblings, mission districts, friends, etc. And in that effort to pull for us, they truly do help us. But there is one who truly pulls with us, and that is our Savior Jesus Christ. He's not just there, waiting at judgement day, hoping we'll use his atonement correctly. I believe He is doing that. But it's more. He's truly there every step of the way, pulling with us. That's what I'm learning much deeper right now than in the past. It's wonderful that I can testify strongly and boldly to the people we teach that the Savior is there, with His hand outstretched to them, His grace sufficient for them. I must accept it deeper for myself. I must fight my self doubt or discouragment by allowing my Savior to be there every step of the way, no matter how many steps, and how long it takes to become what my Heavenly Father sees in me. My Redeemer is infinitely more patient that I am, so he doesn't get exausted with my weaknesses (like I do). He is there. I know it to be true.
Thanks for letting me share! I'm open to thoughts... :) Oh! I guess I should tell you neither of us is being transferred! I almost forgot! Rather, we are getting and training 2 visa waiter sisters. I don't really have any idea how it's going to work (or where they'll sleep) but we'll double work our area. So we're kinding of being split because each day Sis Carolan and I will work with one sister (and switch back and forth different days) but at the end of the day we'll plan together and study together and everything. Interesting. Just when I thought I was getting decent at planning- a new challenge! I'm sure it'll bring good things! We're trying to look at it as the opportunity it is, instead of wondering how we're going to fill two companionship's time! :) And there will be lessons taught to Claudia, or Vanessa or Judy or Patty or whoever that I'm not there for (it'll be Sis C and one of the other sisters), so it's a little distance from some people which is a little difficult, but it'll all work out.
Love y'all! Hope you have a great week!