Good morning!! Fun update on the MTC - although the sun may look shiny and beckon you to come study in its glorious warmth, don't be deceived!! It's been sunny/freezing here the past few days - y no me gusta :)
Sometimes, I have strokes of brilliance and remember to actually keep note in my planner of all the things that I want to include in my email home; sometimes I don't and forget to bring my planner with me. Oops :) Hypothetically speaking, if I remembered anything, I'd be a genius.
However, I do have my journal, and there are a few things in there that I feel would be good to share this week!!
This week's message is brought to you by Alma 26 - a wonderful chapter that reminds us all to keep perspective amongst trials. For background, the Book of Mormon is a record of the ancient inhabitants of the Americas - similar to how the Bible is a record of the ancient people in Jerusalem. Same as the prophets that the Lord called to lead his people in the Bible (Moses, Abraham, etc.), the Lord called prophets in the Americas to guide his people as well, since He loves all children equally. Although the Book of Mormon has many accounts and messages from such prophets, I want to focus on a man named Ammon. Ammon, though not called as a prophet, was a very righteous man who gained a strong witness that the only way to attain happiness in this life, is through abiding by the Lord's gospel and maintaining the covenants found within, and decided to serve a mission to share this message. However, Ammon was a Nephite, a group of people who was sorely hated by another group, the Lamanites. Ammon had such a desire to share the gospel message with his brethen the Lamanites, that he was willing to go into their lands to try and share this message, knowing that he would likely be hated and even killed on the spot. However, Ammon knew that with the Lord, he could do all things!! So, he was promised safety and left to go serve the Lamanites. For times sake, I cannot share all of the miracles and wonders that the Lord was able to work through Ammon, but he ended up bringing thousands to the Lord's true gospel, and helped them see that through Christ, their Savior, they can always change and feel His love. As he is recounting his experience to his brethen later on, we read in Alma 26:
27) Now when our hearts were depressed, and we were about to turn back, behold, the Lord comforted us and said; go amongst thy brethern the Lamanites, and bear with patience thine afflictions, and I will give you success.
This scripture alone is fascinating to me, for it is a reminder of a couple reasons.
1- no matter how strong or faithful of a missionary you are, you will always have hard times - for truly, Ammon is arguably one of the best missionaries in this record, and even he had times when he felt down.
2- I love the order in this scripture - the Lord comforts Ammon, then quickly follows it up by saying "go amongst thy brethern, the Lamanites" - aka, "go preach to those who have hated your people for hundreds of years, and who will likely try to kill you on the spot". Sometimes, the Lord doesn't coddle us when we are feeling down - He challenges us! Difficulties aren't an excuse to back out of the fight or to forget our purpose - none showed this principle better than Christ himself, who even on the very day of atonement and crucifixion - the longest and darkest day of His life - He never backed down or acted in a way contrary to His divine purpose. He showed love and mercy, even up until His last moments on the cross.
3- The Lord doesn't promise lack of afflictions - rather, the opposite! He promises that you WILL have afflictions - but with that acknowledgement, He gently promises that if we bear such afflictions with patience, He will give you success. What a wonderful reminder!!
If we continue reading, we learn that Ammon did indeed face great afflictions - they were "cast out, mocked, and spit upon, and smote upon our cheeks; and we have been stoned, and taken and bound with strong cords, and cast into prison; and through the power and wisdom of God we have been delivered again" (Alma 26:29). However, amongst all these difficulties, Ammon's attitude mirrored that of our Savior - he never forgot his purpose or lost eternal perspective.
30) And we have suffered all manner of afflictions, and all this, that perhaps we might be the means of saving some soul; and we supposed that our joy would be full if perhaps we could be the means of saving some.
Sometimes in life, we will have occasions when we might have every excuse to forget our purpose, mistreat another, or justify our poor actions with "I'm just having a really bad day". However, this statement cannot be said without offending the Spirit; for, in the Lord's darkest hour, the occasion when He would have had EVERY excuse to speak shortly with those that mocked His perfection or hated Him, He still suffered silently, and with love in His heart. Some of His last words before His miraculous resurrection was asking forgiveness on behalf of those who mistreated Him so. What a challenge to us, and what examples both Ammon and Christ are to us - in our daily lives, we will NEVER have an occasion when we can justify speaking shortly or treating another wrongly. Christ allowed no such exception for Himself, and He truly suffered more than any of us. I know that He suffered for all of us.
What a reminder to me, and what a challenge to all of us! This week, and for our lives, may we resist the urge to justify our short comings with excuses of "he/she started it", "he/she treated me so badly", or even "I'm just having a bad day". We don't get "freebie bad days" - our Savior didn't, and nor do we :)
I love you all! I love my Savior, and know that there is nothing of more worth in this life than the true gospel of Jesus Christ, and the saving covenants contained within! May we all accept the Lord's challenge for us to be better - for we are promise that if we "bear with patience [our] afflictions, the Lord will give [us] success".