Hello, everyone! I got some letters this week with some questions I decided to answer in a chain-letter before I get to a cool experience this week.
First question: Is it bad to use words as a substitute for swear words? I am going to tell you MY OPINION. Do not take this as scripture, please. And also, please don't be offended. SO! Yes. I believe from the very bottom of my heart that substituting words in stead of swear words is just as bad. Why? Because swear words are taboo not because of the certain sound you make as you say the word. They are bad because of the negative and angry feelings you say them with. For example, as a missionary, I sometimes have to talk about where you go when you are bad. Since not all people understand what the spirit prison is, I have to use a word that is considered a swear word nowadays. But, it's not bad because I use it properly and without the anger one has when a person swears. Also, along with this, saying swear words in another language and thinking it's ok because it's not your native tongue? I find that utterly ridiculous. YOU ARE SWEARING. I had a lot of friends in high school and college use German swear words. I'd ask if they knew what it meant. They'd giggle and say yes, but it's German so it's ok. Then I tell them I speak German and suddenly they feel bad. o.O? what? As if the people hearing what you say change that you're swearing?
A twist on a paradox: If a person is alone in a forest, and no one is around to hear him be contentious, is he still chasing the Holy Ghost away?
Anyway! I need to apologize for not sending pictures, because I lost my camera. Please forgive me.
Story of the week: So this week I was utterly frustrated. Not with myself. Not with my investigators. With my district. In my mind, we were not doing all we could in order to become representatives of Jesus Christ. There was a football (intended for class use and forcing participation) that became a game most of the time while others were trying to study; there was joking, laughing, and unrelated storytelling; there is a sister that spends a lot of her time focusing on her physical appearance and worrying about her weight (which doesn't matter, because she's going to a humid country and riding a bike every day for 18 months straight). All in all, I was frustrated by the fact that we were not altogether trying to serve God with ALL our hearts, ALL our might, mind, strength, and ALL our souls. I mean sure, I wasn't utterly perfect. In fact yesterday, I took half an hour during PMG study time and didn't study. I felt horrendous after. Anyway, we aren't supposed to be perfect. D&C 10:4 says, "Do not run faster or labor more than ye have strength and means provided to enable you to [insert duty here]; but be diligent unto the end."
(sorry about the sudden change in size and font. Dunno how to control that.)
Anyway, I had a breakdown on Tuesday. My companion had fallen asleep during some study time, and I was trying to focus. But, this was gnawing at my soul. So I began to pray. I prayed in a way I never have before. I apologized to God on behalf of my district. I begged for forgiveness for wasting the privilege we were given to serve Him in such a dedicated way. I poured out my soul, and eventually got to this: "I don't get it. I don't get it, Father. Why don't they want to serve you more? Why aren't they trying harder? Do they not realize that Jesus is the Christ? Do they not remember it in every hour of every day? Do they not remember they are set apart from the world now? Yet they dive back into it day by day; they do not put off childish things; they break rules they should know; they aren't on time; they aren't putting forth every effort to become someone new. Why? I know Jesus is MY King. My experiences have taught me He will do anything for me. So I am doing my best to change who I am. I went from studying maybe 20 minutes a week at school to studying about 10 hours in a single day. I have attempted to change who I am. In fact, my district jokes about how I always ask people to focus; how I am so incredibly diligent. I almost snapped once, too. When someone said they wanted to be diligent like me, I told them it was hard. They were shocked. They didn't know how to react. But they STILL DO NOT TRY TO BECOME YOUR MISSIONARIES. Why? Why? What do I do? I feel like I can't tell them. They're on a mission; they're trying. I am imperfect. I am no longer district leader. I have no right to invite them to Christ when I am not closer to Him than they are. I'm simply trying more often and more consistently. But why? Why... It hurts, Father. It hurts to see those who took upon them the name of Christ bear it with such light-mindedness. It makes me angry. But I can't say anything. I am not Christ-like enough. What should I do? I don't know..."
This prayer continued like this for a good 45 minutes. My building confusion, anger, and sorrow burst out. It only stopped when a couple of the sister missionaries came into the room really fast and saw me weeping (hahaha). But that night, we had devotional. We had an apostle come. Neil L. Anderson told us this: "You sacrifice for the things we love, and we love the things we sacrifice for." So I decided I would try to sacrifice for my district. But I wondered how I could begin to love them enough to sacrifice for them. Where does love begin, I wondered. Elder Anderson told us:
"In the beginning, the Father decided to sacrifice His Son for us. Jesus chose to sacrifice His life for us. Love begins with them."
Take that quote into your souls and decide how it will change your life. I will end on this note and pray that each of you can grow half as much while I am on a mission as I grow in a single day.