Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Parable of the Pen

Dear Familia,                                                                                                                                         

I guess summer is a happening time of year there. Seems like a lot of changes are coming, but the constant is still there, mom is proud of her kids. There´s something in that which has always motivated me and deterred me from doing wrong at the same time. Whenever I think about doing something I shouldn´t, I think of the many many mom, dad, and now-elder Nelson councils in the den in the old house and in the hobby room in the current house, and how I don´t want that to happen again, and then I don´t do it. On the flip side, I can always think of when you´ve taken me aside when things aren´t going the way I wanted and assured me that things will be okay, that I need to take a step back and see the bigger picture.

Before I forget, I have to wish Braden a happy late birthday! I´m sure it must happen a lot, being at the beginning of the month, but it´s no excuse. You´ve been an example to me and a friend, you show me that the work doesn´t stop when you get off a plane, but continues onward without skipping a beat. Thanks, and I hope your birthday was grand!

Also happy father´s day to dad. This year because I’m in a more commercial sector of the city, I´m noticing that the holidays or father’s day and mother’s day are a little more even than I thought last year. You also have been an example to me forever, and I hope that with Kolby and Melissa home somebody got you a pair of gloves :). (for some reason I think that’s what I got you for 5 straight years or something)

Well, Elder Dallin H. Oaks and his wife, President L. Whitney Clayton and his wife, Elder C. Scott Grow and his wife, and Presidente Erickson and his wife held a conference today in the Limatambo stake (if you remember that´s where Elder Russel M Nelson went as well. We sent 4 large buses and several minibuses the hour and a half to Limatambo at 7 in the morning and got back around 3:00 PM. We got there and then organized the zones to sit together, the sisters up front and the choir (zona san felipe) directly behind the sisters, then we helped the sound guy from the area set up the sound because we had brought ours as a backup, but it turns out that ours produced a lot less echo. We felt glad that we had brought it just to be prepared and we were able to use it. A lot of what I do is that, it´s being prepared for the little eventualities so that things go smoothly despite the human element of things.

The major topic of the conference was commitments. In terms of missionary work, the commitment starts with the missionaries themselves and then it extends to the people they teach. If we as missionaries aren´t willing to commit to something and follow through, how can we ever expect the members we teach to do the same, or even investigators for that matter? It reminded me a little of the lesson you taught me the summer I decided it was a good idea to go to the Boise State wrestling camp. Boy was I in for a rough time. When I called you at lunch the first day to take me home because it wasn´t what I thought it was, you tried very very hard to convince me not to give up, and forever after, I would point to it as one of the very few things that I was allowed to walk out on before finishing the minimum. One of the notes I wrote today while listening to Elder Oaks was a commitment to never do anything halfway. We aren´t members in the church just so we can "try" to get to the terrestrial kingdom. We don´t pay 8% tithing because that’s all we can do. Christ himself didn´t get to the end of His prayer in Gethsemane just to look at Peter and say, well that´s all there is. He came back to show us that the resurrection had to be complete and full, suffering on the cross and ministry in the spirit world included. Faithful members pay 10% because they know that blessings don´t come in fractions, it´s all or nothing. It reminds me of a quote attributed to Elder Eyring, though I believe it´s by an evangelical preacher. It´s called "The Fellowship of the Unashamed":

 "I am part of the fellowship of the unashamed. The die has been cast; I have stepped over the line. The decision has been made. I am a disciple of Jesus Christ. I won´t look back, let up, slow down or be still. My past is redeemed, my present makes sense and my future is secure. I´m finished with low living, small planning, smooth knees, colorless dreams, tamed visions, worldly walking, cheap living and dwarfed goals. I no longer need pre-eminence, positions, promotions, or popularity. I don´t have to be right, first, recognized, praised, or rewarded. I now live by faith, lean on His presence, walk with patience, am uplifted in prayer, and labor with power. My pace is set, my gate is fast, and my goal is heaven. My road is narrow, my way is rough, my companions few, my guide reliable, my mission clear. I cannot be bought, compromised, detoured, lured away, divided, or delayed. I will not flinch in the face of sacrifice, hesitate in the presence of the adversary, negotiate at the table of the enemy, ponder at the pool of popularity or meander in the maze of mediocrity. I won´t give up, shut up, or let up until I have stayed up, stored up, and paid up for the cause of Christ. I must go until He comes, give until I drop, preach all I know and work until He stops me. And when He returns for His own, He will have no problem recognizing me. My banner is clear."

I´ve bolded a pair of the parts that i feel fit best to this quote. Elder Oaks wasn´t nearly as fiery today, but he did show us the apostles and other general authorities of the church are committed. There´s no doubt in my mind that we are guided by the Lord´s chosen few, and that following their leadership is the only hope the world has to restore the values and doctrines that Christ established two millennia ago. He told us to be instruments in the Lord´s hands and showed us a very nice pen that he had.

The thing about his pen is that without an ink cartridge, it doesn´t work very well. He compared that to our studies, we must fill ourselves with the truth before we can express it to others, for all that we want to just burst (he also mentioned that as an apostle he isn´t entitled to a personal opinion, by a direct mandate of the spirit during one of his first conferences as an apostle. To prepare for conferences he just studies and prays for guidance. His ink cartridge gets full and then he begins to "write.") He also mentioned that even if the body of the pen is okay and the ink cartridge is full, if the mechanism to put the point out doesn´t work, forcing it will break the pen. We must be spiritually, emotionally, and physically prepared to share the gospel with others, and we accomplish that by being obedient to the standards and rules of the mission. That preparation extends before and after the mission. Pre-missionaries ought to start living mission guidelines little by little as directed by the spirit and your willingness. Post-missionaries should continue to apply many of the things they learned to respect and follow as a missionary. The last thing he mentioned was part of what makes Elder Oaks human, he was comical in a lot of what he said, and it made us feel good not to just receive a talk from him. He said that the pen never turns around at the hand that is trying to write and says " I just don´t feel like writing today", and therefore we should go forward with a willingness to do the will of He whose instruments we are.

This is His mission, it is His message, and we deliver it in His way. Si desviamos aun lo más minimo de esa manera, tomamos la responsabilidad sobre nosotros, sin poder cumplir con las bendiciones prometidas. (If we divert even the most minimal that way, we take the responsibility on us, unable to meet the promised blessings)  He left an apostolic blessing on us that we would remember what was said during the conference and apply it in the mission and afterwards.

I love you all, I hope that something that I´ve written impacts you personally and that it inspires you to make changes. It´s only by changes that we truly become more similar to Christ!


Elder Nelson

PS Questions section!

What is the mission-wide laundry service?  We haven't heard of this before.  If they wash all the white shirts, how do they not get them mixed up??
There’s an RM and his wife that run a laundry service that washes the clothes for half the mission. His name is Jorge Lopez and he lives in San Felipe Stake (he goes by a nickname Yoyi) They have a staff of all endowed members and so they can wash the missionaries´ clothes. They mark everything as it comes in, including new stuff, in very inconspicuous places. They also separate clothes pieces that will need extra washes or treatment (service clothes) and double check every clothes bag by numbers of pieces of clothing(e.g. 8 shirts, 2 ties, 3 pants, 8 pairs of socks) before sending them back. It’s a turnaround of about 2 days and the service does a preliminary ironing job, which promptly is undone when they are folded and put into the laundry bags, though it means things don´t come back wrinkled like they were wadded up. Hermano Yoyi is incredible, and a great influence in my mission. He was the stake high council member over the missionary work as well as the stake young men’s first councilor when I was in Collique (part of san felipe stake). 

When you travel to different areas, what do you travel in?  bus? taxi? train?
The mission has used a member who owns a taxi for the past 4 or 5 years to transport the oficinistas to do the work visits, shopping for supplies for the mission, and whatever other transport needed by the offices. His name is Hermano Ortega (also goes by Cholo, a regional name for the people from the sierra, though with the emigration of the terrorist era, it´s come to mean all Peruanos.) He can get us to anywhere in the mission within 45 minutes or so as well as waits for us to finish if it’s just a check-up visit. He´s awesome, and it means I won´t be driving in Lima, which is disappointing and relieving at the same time :)

Photos next week! 

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