Stepping into the Darkness

"You must learn to walk to the edge of the light, and then a few steps into the darkness, then the light will appear and show you the way before you."

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Image result for light images
Light and color are interesting things. When you mix colors of paint, at first they make varying shades and new colors. As you continue to add paint, the colors will get muddy and dark. When you mix colors of light, the light will shift colors and get brighter until with all colors of light, the light will be blindingly white and show everything with clarity.

When you look at sheet of white paper, you are seeing a blank slate. The absence of all color. When you walk outside in the bright light of day, you are seeing a combination of all colors. If our lives are the clean white page, what will we put there in the bright light of all color? In the presence of all light, we can better see the effect of our actions. The scriptures talk about light, truth, and knowledge together and interchangeably. They also talk about letting our light shine.

The eye adds a different dimension to this story. Light shines on an object and absorbs the color it is, reflecting all other colors, as light enters the eye and interacts with the nerves in the retina, the brain detects the missing color and reports that to the cortex as the color of the object. This is why the mixing of paint which with all colors added, absorbs all light and only darkness is reflected. A mirror on the other hand is a surface designed to reflect rather that absorb, and we can then see by it. I think of the words of the song, “Have you received his image in your countenance? Does the light of Christ shine in your eyes?”

In life, the knowledge, the truth, even the light we gain, shines in our eyes. The truth, the spirit acts as light and as more is combine, the brighter we become. Lies, errors, deceptions are the paint on the page, and the more we add, the less we can see. The knowledge (truth) we gain, the more light we have to share. It is in the sharing (reflecting light) that we can become like our Savior and our Father.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Pete's Story

Tonight, Sister Christensen and I were privileged to attend our first baptism. When we arrived here two months ago, we were told that the Assistants had recently found and began teaching an investigator. President assigned us to attend the same ward as the assistants and we were introduced to Pete. He is a tall slender gentleman in his mid-forties. He seemed like his interest was genuine and sincere. After Gospel Principles class that first Sunday, Pete stopped and asked me a couple of questions that I answered and then gave him my phone number and told him to feel free to call me anytime if he had more questions. Over the next several weeks, Pete would call two or three times a week, sometimes with questions, and sometimes just to say hi. Pete called and asked us for a ride to church. He didn't have a car, which is not unusual here in Eugene. They have excellent public transportation. I soon learned that he was living with a girlfriend and she had no interest in the church. She also had no interest in marriage. He was left with a choice he didn't want to make.

Tonight, we learned more of his story. He had been best friends with two other boys since junior high school. One of them was a member. Through their association, one other had joined the church in high school. Pete wasn’t interested, but they continue to be friends to this day. He continued to read the Book of Mormon, he studied what the missionaries gave him. He prayed. He even got on the train and went to Salt Lake, because, as he told the elders, he wanted to see the temple. The temple square missionaries taught him, and he returned to Eugene. He made the decision to be baptized. It meant he had to move. In the process, he also had to find a new job.
Through it all, Pete continued to read and study, talk to the missionaries, the members in two wards now, and to pray. He made the commitment to be baptized. He moved with the help of two wards. Over the past few weeks, by my count, he has been taught by nine elders, two senior couples, the mission President and his wife, and a general authority who was in town for training, and went with the assistants and another senior couple to teach Pete when he was struggling a couple of weeks ago. Pete watched all five sessions of conference at the chapel. He attended two wards, that’s six hours of meetings for the past six weeks. He would ride to church with us, and then home with someone from the other ward. Tonight, in company with two wards and around 100 people who have come to love this gentle spirit, Pete was baptized by one of his best friends who flew out from Utah to be a part of it all.
I have been thrilled, humbled, and impressed at all the Lord has done for this good man. I am glad we were able to be here to be a small part of it. There is no where I would rather be. I love this work. I love this church. I love my Savior and being able to be a part of His work. I can’t wait to see what is next.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Mexican Pozole and the Gospel

We've had an eventful week-end.  I'll cover Saturday and let Greg talk about Sunday.  Since Saturday is our "P" day, I usually spend some time in the morning getting the laundry done for the week.  Usually the laundry room at our apartment complex is empty and it's a pretty quick process - throw in 2 loads of clothes, go back in 30 minutes and put them in the dryer.  This week, when I got there our next door neighbor was just putting her clothes in the dryer.  I met her last week as she was leaving her apartment to go to the broadcast of General Conference with a member from the Spanish Ward.  The Elders assigned to that ward have been teaching her, but we hadn't met yet.  I said "Hi", she said "Hi" and then she went on her way.  When I went back a little later to move my clothes to the dryer, hers were still going, I checked back a couple of times and then finally happened to catch her there finishing up.  As we both worked on our laundry I asked her how she enjoyed Conference.  That started a conversation that allowed her to ask some questions.  One thing she wanted to know was why these young missionaries are making the sacrifice of time away from their families and schooling to serve missions.  Because her first language is Spanish and mine isn't - I try to keep my answers fairly simple and to the point. She seems to understand better that way.  In short I told her that we serve missions because we believe the message we have is true and we want to share it.

Fast forward a few hours.  As we were getting ready to sit down to dinner and thinking about maybe going to a movie after, the Spanish Elders called and said they had an appointment to teach our neighbor, the couple from the ward that was supposed to go with them had cancelled at the last minute - would we be available in about 15 minutes to go with them?  Of course we said "YES!!"

It was so interesting to listen to a discussion in Spanish.  I took a couple of years of Spanish in High School and wouldn't even pretend to say that I can speak it - the best I do is "How much does it cost? and "Where's the bathroom?" (important things to say when traveling in Spanish speaking countries!)  But I do recognize words and can generally follow the basics of a conversation.  But the Spirit speaks in a voice that is often felt but not heard.  The Spirit was there and it was wonderful.  Rosario had the Elders ask us some questions because of our "life experience" (a polite way to say "Old").  Our different teaching styles were evident - I give Primary answers and my companion expounds on the gospel.  It was fun!  And we were able to assist the Elders in answering questions she had.  When the lesson was over, she asked if we would all like to stay and have some Pozole that she had made for us.  There was no hesitation is our answer, "Yes!"  That simple meal gave us a chance to connect on a different level.  I left feeling that we were now friends.  We talked about food and connected because I spoke her language - tamales, chili, pozole, etc.  And Elder Christensen loved her VERY hot, but delicious salsa (some of it even came home with us.)

Teaching the Gospel is what we thought we would be doing on our mission until we got our calls to work in the mission office.  It is so exciting to have these opportunities to share our testimonies and the Gospel of Jesus Christ with those around us.  We love the missionaries and any opportunities we have to support and help them.