How is everybody?! We had a nice a crazy full week here. Between interviews, and being a taxi service, and MLC on Wednesday with prepping and instruction for Zone Training on Friday, it was a full week. A ton of our appointments fell through, but we taught some. We taught Marquetta and family once, but Marquetta was feeling kind of under the weather so it wasn't the best and we cut it kinda short. Even though she was still feeling sick yesterday, Tim and Robert brought all the kids to church and stayed for all three hours so that's a good sign! We found them through a media referral from their sister who is a member in Detroit. William, did you ever contact people (like her sister in this case) who submitted the referral? If I was this sister, who I think is a fairly strong member, I'd want to talk to the missionaries who were teaching my family!! What do you think? I think Marquetta would be fine with it so that's something we might try to do.
Something that was focused on a lot during MLC, and is going to continue to be a focus, is unity and obedience. The ZL's asked us to instruct on the heavy stuff during Zone training :) We picked 2 Nephi 5 to use. No common or obvious scriptures there about unity and obedience, and it made it so much fun to teach out of! I love teaching out of the Book of Mormon like that! Really applying it. We started with v. 27: "They lived after a manner of happiness," who doesn't want that?! Then we went back to the beginning of the chapter and talked about where Nephi and his people had been and what they were going through. Then we went through the chapter and discussed some of the things they did. The first is leave the bad environment. It's interesting to note that in v. 1 and 2, Nephi actually prayed (I'm sure with much faith) to Heavenly Father for help. But instead, what happened? The persecution of his brothers became even worse! Side note about faith and God's will: I've discovered very strongly that I think the greatest happiness, or at least contentment in life, comes from learning to reconcile faith in Christ with the inevitability of His will. They aren't mutually exclusive, and sometimes the great tests in faith come when we feel we exercised strong faith, but something contrary to our will and prayers of faith occurs. Rather, strong faith I think is better defined as submissively accepting God's will in our lives, even (and maybe especially) when it is opposite to our will. It can sound very contrary, but I believe there can be POWER in submissively accepting. ANYWAY! Back to Nephi. The Lord's will was that they should leave, so they did. They separated themselves far from their brethren. In verse 8 they named the place Nephi (or Baton Rouge) and they gave themselves a name. They chose to unite themselves! They took upon themselves the name of "people of Nephi," (or Baton Rouge Zone). PMG says that, "We are commanded by God to take this gospel to all the world. That is the cause that must unite us today." Unity has to come first.
Then, in v. 10 we learn that they chose to be obedient. And, I would add, they were united in that obedience. To me, obedience is learning, accepting, and doing the Lord's will. I know that faith and diligence are very connected to obedience, but this week I've been learning how much humility and obedience are interconnected. Under "humility" in PMG it says, "humility is willingness to submit to the will of the Lord and to give the Lord the honor for what is accomplished." Willingness to submit to the will of the Lord.... huh. So then I was thinking about how I can increase that willingness. Immediately, prayer in the bible dictionary popped into my head. It says something to the affect that "prayer is the act by which the will of the Father and the will of the Child come in accordance with each other." Something like that. Prayer is the answer. I think always in my life, and in the lives of many, "prayer" is an easy answer to give. And I've absolutely always believed that, but if became more real to me this week in terms of humility and obedience. Prayer is power. That's all there is to it!
There is so much good stuff in this chapter that I could probably go on forever about! In verse 12 we learn that they took the scriptures and the Liahona. In missionary life I'd probably equate the Liahona to Preach My Gospel, although it could be many things. In v. 16, Nephi constructs a temple. He tried to build it after the manner of Soloman's, but he didn't have all the materials he needed. But he didn't let it stop him! He gave his best effort and his whole heart. In v. 17, it says that the people were very industrious and labored, a lot! They worked hard!! I'm a big advocate of hard work! (thanks be to you mom and dad :) There's a lot of awesome quotes in PMG, but my favorite always has been and probably will be by President Ezra Taft Benson:
"I have often said one of the greatest secrets of missionary work is work! If a missionary works, he will get the Spirit; if he gets the spirit, he will teach by the Spirit and if he teaches by the Spirit, he will touch the hearts of the people and he will be happy. (live after a manner of happiness...) There will be no home sickness, no worrying about families, for all time and talents and interests are centered on the work of the ministry. Work, work, work - there is no satisfactory substitute, especially in missionary work."
Nephi taught his people to do their best, to give their whole heart, and he taught them to work hard. And I think he did it simply by doing it with them. Example and love is always more powerful than words in my opinion. Always. And that's what Nephi did.
So there's some of what I learned! I love how the Book of Mormon can teach some of the same things over and over but in a different way that allows the spirit to teach us more. I applied all of it to missionaries, but I know it can be, and maybe should be more importantly applied to families. I'm grateful to have a family who strives for unity, obedience, as well as always giving our best effort and hard work to everything we do.
Other things are going well. I loved hearing about Garrett's game and cannot believe he's a freshman!! They won, or Spokane won? I love hearing about football so thanks for relaying that! Any pictures of him in his uniform or action shots or anything yet? I'm glad y'all are getting back nicely into a routine. I'm glad William is healing well, but was so sad to hear about his toe!! Uh! Mine's healing slowly but surely. I'm just always watching out to make sure it doesn't grow back, but stays deadened! haha.
And on that note, I love you all and hope you have a great week! :)
P.S. the photo is the one Sister Wall has us take at the end of MLC.