So I get a couple more days in the USA! I'll actually be here in Arizona 'til the 29th. So I ship out for Brazil. Yes, I'm going back to the MTC (Mission Training Center) for 2 weeks. The one in Brazil. I'm also flying through Atlanta. That will be strange beyond belief. Makes me feel even more like my mission is coming to an end. A whole new world awaits. Isn't it always interesting how that works?
This week, we focused a lot on teaching prepared people. Which is another way of saying we had to drop just about everyone we were teaching; they weren't choosing to progress. District meeting was all about characteristics of prepared people and how it is the Lord, not us, who prepares the people. It's like us trying to make fruit grow off a branch. We can create the right environment, but in the end it is miraculous forces that make the fruit grow, not us. It made me turn my scrutiny inward and ask what it is that we need to be prepared people ourselves. Prepared to be taught by the Spirit, prepared to be taught by those who speak by the Spirit (see General Conference where the Lord's prophet and apostles taught us).
I have also been pondering on Simon, the Cyrenian, particularly yesterday on Easter. What an experience it must have been -- to do for Christ something that at that point He may not have been able to do for Himself. Or at least was not permitted to do for Himself. And Simon, the Cyrenian, likely was not converted until later -- he must have thought of carrying the cross as a demeaning chore, an unjust burden to be bourn. Especially since we read that he was coming in from the hills and perhaps had not heard of the events at Jerusalem. He carried the cross of a criminal, pressed into service by centurions. It may not have been his favorite job, he likely would have passed if he could have. But think of the honor it was, when viewed in the context of the larger picture. He did something for Christ. Bore a portion of His burden, eased, for a moment, a measure of His pain.
How often are we faced with similar tasks that we do not fully comprehend, burdens that we would choose to avoid, if possible? How many of us have bourn the crosses of others without knowing what their real burden was? How many of us could be Simon, if only we would be? I love the unsung heroes in the scriptures. And Simon, the Cyrenian, is one of my favorite.
Think of Pilate's wife in the story we all know. What did she say to him when he got home, after having sent to him on the judgement seat to "have nothing to do with that man" or some such, because of revelation she received in a dream? What if Pilate had listened to his wife? What if we listened more carefully to our own counterparts? What travesties would be averted? What hymn did the disciples sing before they trouped out to the garden of Gethsemane? What irony was contained therein? What terror must have struck those who came to arrest Him with torches and staves, as He, having bled from every pore, inquired, "Whom seek ye?" and, with bloody beard and a tear-worn face stepped into the torchlight, declared, "I AM." No wonder they fell back in fright. What sobs must have racked Peter's body as the cock crowed? But what would have become of him had they not?
And when we declare, as the apostles did, that we would follow Him into prison and even unto death, how quickly do our thoughts or words betray that covenant, as well as our former confession that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God? How much of the scriptures do we care to read? How much more is there than what we see? Why do we need the Book of Mormon if we have the Bible? Well, why did we need John if we had Mark? Or why do we need the other gospels at all, for that matter? Because if we had them not, we wouldn't know of Simon, or of Pilate's wife, or see the imagery of Christ stepping into the torchlight. Imagine how much another account could add -- that's the Book of Mormon. Imagine how much could be added if Christ came to the Americas -- which He did. Imagine how much more evidence that He is the living Son of the Living God. Which He is. He is.
Christ lives. He does not only live, He reigns and He guides. His church is not dead. It, too, has risen. It had it's time in the tomb, but by angels and miracles and even new scripture, His church is here as well. Funny that the Book of Mormon came out of a stone box, just as Christ did. With more parallels than I have time here to account. We will never see these things unless we look for them. Unless we search the scriptures every day. Unless God is our first priority. Unless our temple recommend is the first thing we see at the front of our wallet and isn't buried behind the credit cards and cash. The symbolism there isn't too hard to find, but it's worth noting.
Well, I didn't intend that to end up as an Easter sermon but there you go I suppose!
Yes, Momma, I did get the Easter basket and loved, loved, loved it! A new Nashville tribute CD!!! I was overjoyed. The egg dying things were awesome too, I got to dye marshmallow eggs with "A" (recent convert) in the hospital when we went to see her yesterday! You always find the neatest things! We also worked on another roof this week. That was awesome. It's legitimately enjoyable to work on roofs and stuff like that. I'm doing a lot of exchanges and planning for a crazy last week here. Mixed emotions about going to Brazil. More than anything, it doesn't feel real yet. I'm sure it will soon.
Thank you all for the notes and the love. You're so great to me and I'm so glad that you're all part of my eternal family!
Quick thought. The more exactly you are obeying the commandments, the more exact the revelation you are seeking will come. Feel like that one is an answer to a question someone has been praying about.
Love you all and happy Easter! Can't believe I missed Passover dinner but everyone here sure thought it sounded cool!
We got to go to the Easter pageant twice. It is HUGE. You can't even imagine the crowd. 15,000 people on the night we went, or so we hear. We'll have to come see it some time!
I love you all, miss you all, hope all is going well wherever you are.