Sunday, August 25, 2013

From August 13, 2013: Trocadilhos, Wrestlings, and Spiritual Hashtags

Well, hello all.  It's me again.  First off allow me to say that you are all the best.  How do I know this?  Well, for one thing I got 9 letters yesterday.  So like, there's that.  Thank you for giving of your time and selves to support me; I really do appreciate it.  As you know I said goodbye to Justin yesterday.  It was hard and yet I didn't feel the wave of sadness I was expecting because I know we are both going where we are supposed to go.  Love you bud.  Stud.

So you may be wondering about the title (Trocadilhos, Wrestlings, and Spiritual Hashtags).  I figured if I had to sum up my experiences this week, I would call it that.  So I did.  But first, let's get to the quote of the week, which is translated into English for your convenience.  First, the back story.
So we teach our teachers at the MTC as they play investigators based on people they know or taught on their own missions.  We had a sub this week named I.R..  Picture the smiliest ray of Portuguese sunshine you've ever met and then make him about 6' 5"  and you've got him nailed.  So we are teaching this particular ray of sunshine, who is playing the role of "Paulo."  We're roughly 5 minutes in to our discussion.  I'm talking about how the Book of Mormon testifies of Christ.  Naturally, this is all going down in Portuguese.  So I'm talking and suddenly the fire alarm begins to sound.  This perturbs me.  I sit there for a moment unsure of what to do about this strange and unplanned development.  Paulo pauses for a moment and then, says in Portuguese without breaking character, smiling while he says it: "I'm sorry Elders.  My house is on fire.  We need to leave now." Picture it and perhaps you may understand the hilarity of it all.  
But you know, on to things of eternal importance.
Elder L. is District Leader and he has been doing a great job.  Our district is in shape and moving forward.  The great thing about the MTC is that you're constantly surrounded by people who lift you up and bear testimony in ways you've never thought of.  There truly is something to learn from everyone you meet.  You just have to care enough about them to find out what it is.
So I suppose I'll start with the language first.  It struck me this week how much learning another language is not about learning another way to communicate.  Portuguese is another mode of existence.  That tree is NOT a tree in Portuguese.  That it has a different word means it has a different meaning.  It IS a different thing.  It's another mode of thinking and another way of becoming.  Consider the parallels that has with the gospel.  I have not the time to pen all of my thoughts on the matter so I will leave it up to you to study out in your minds the parallels that do exist.
It also strikes me how vocabulary and the way we speak defines our world and who we are.  The language we fill our minds with defines the extent to which and the subjects that we have the ability to think about.  Consider the language you hear and choose to listen to and how that influences your life.  Consider how some inventions exist and some ideas are created BECAUSE of the language to which the creator of that invention or idea has exposed him or her self.  It's not just that some things and ideas only exist in one language or culture because they've only been dreamed up there, they exist there BECAUSE of the structure that language imposes on the brains and worlds of the people who speak and understand it.  
Now with that hypothesis, consider the gospel not as a religion, but as a language.  And consider how that changes your perception of EVERYTHING about the gospel.  We must have the correct gospel vocabulary and understanding in order to be fluent in the language of the Spirit.  I won't pursue this line of logic further but I leave it to you brave souls to attempt to continue the metaphor and the shift in perception that it leads to.  Swim deeply my friends.
Ok, so more on to things I've studied and experienced this week.  Had some great devotionals and classes as always.  But the thing that has stuck out to me more than anything else was prayer. So what is prayer? There are tons of definitions and they are all fairly valid.  Or most.  It is communication with God.  Check.  But my favorite definition is found in the Bible Dictionary, which says, "Prayer is a form of work."  Now my philosophy since I've been here has been, "The answer to most questions and problems is ' solution through meaningful work' ."  And prayer is a major component of this meaningful work.  I have prayed more fervently and desperately here than anywhere else.  And reflecting on my prayer record from before, I am slightly disgusted with myself.  Perhaps a portion of my reflections on Enos 1: 1-12 (in the Book of Mormon) might serve to express my ideas on the matter.  Open up Enos now if you please, and follow along with me.  If you're willing to work, we might both learn something.  All right, so Enos.
I love the book of Enos.  More so today than ever before.  It occurs to me that the answer to most of our struggles IS to struggle.  To struggle with our spirit.  Not Against it, mind you, but with it.  We find purpose and relief more on our knees than anywhere else.  Prayer must not be a checklist item.  'Well, I read and prayed, nothing happened, what's next?'  No.  Prayer is work.  If your prayers aren't a little difficult for you, if you don't come out feeling like you've unloaded things, if you don't feel humbled, if you don't feel like "wow, there's so much I need to improve and I have been blessed with so much anyway," you might want to give it a try.  
Someone here compared the ordinary nature of prayers (something I was oh so guilty of before my mission) to ordering a pizza.  You get on the phone and order what you want and then sit around going, "Where's my pizza?"  That's not how it should be but unfortunately for me and maybe for you, that's far too often how it ends up going.  I didn't realize before how amazing a gift prayer is to us.  We are given the opportunity to speak with God, to express our hopes and fears and sadness and weaknesses and trials and to ask for help and strength.  And it's so, so necessary because the truth is we are all called to go through things and get through trials that we can't obtain on our own.  We all have questions of the soul that will never be answered without earnest study, serious pondering, and fervent prayer.  
The two main keys to prayer are openness and honesty.  Those imply humility and seeking for forgiveness.  Express your sorrows, doubts, fears.  Pray for others.  Demonstrate faith, which includes closing your prayer in the name of Jesus Christ.  Prayer SHOULD be a struggle to find out for ourselves the most important answers we will ever seek for.  
Look at Enos: 
* verse 4 He wrestles, his soul hungered.  
Does your soul hunger?  What does it hunger for?  
* He kneeled before his Maker.  Look at the implied humility there.  He recognizes the relationship and the disparity that accompanies it.
* He CRIES in MIGHTY prayer.  What makes prayer mighty?  
* And he prays, as Ashley would say, "All day, all night, no sleep." (a quote from her first Primary talk at 4 years old).
* His FAITH, the faith with which he seeks for the welfare of his soul, is what makes him whole. He is made more than he can be alone through prayer.  
* He pours out his WHOLE soul.  Not just the pretty parts.  He gives an accounting of everything.  He STRUGGLES in the spirit.  And he receives more blessings, receiving revelation and being brought PEACE.
Who doesn't want those things?  Then he prays again, with many long STRUGGLINGS for his enemies, whom he calls his brethren.  He then receives another blessing: his desires are given to him AFTER he labors with all diligence.  

I'm aware that was somewhat incoherent, but that was a partial sampling of the study I invite you to make of Enos 1:1-12, which is a study of how we should pray, why we should pray, and how we can receive answers to our prayers.  Just go through and take note of the activeness with which Enos prays.  Look at the active verbs he uses and the sequence of when he receives answers, personal revelation, and blessings.  As Ether 12:6 notes, it comes after the trial of his faith.  In Enos's case, this faith is expressed through struggling in the spirit for the things his soul hungered for.
I have a testimony of prayer.  I have seen the hand of God in my life at the MTC.  In words I don't know that I've been given, in comfort I've been given, in priesthood blessings I've had the opportunity to give, and in lessons I've taught and questions I've asked.  I know Christ lives and that through meaningful work, which must include prayer, we can come unto Him.  I invite you all to do that.

Additional thoughts to ponder:
* For whom are you laboring and why?
* How can you improve your prayers?  Where has God's hand been visible in your life recently?  Are you doing your part to receive the answers you desire?  Are you searching for the right answers and asking the right questions?
* How can you become more fluent in the language of the Spirit?

I love you all.  You are the best and I am proud to know each of you.  I hope you will continue to grow with me.  Thank you for the support and love.

Love, Elder Molinaro

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