My Dear Family,
To start off my email I have three stories. All of which came up this week. The first one was in a spiritual thought that Elder Bodell gave at the office meeting. The second one was in a spiritual thought that was given by a member here at friendship night on Friday. And the last one was an old story that I heard a while ago, but that I was reminded of by another elder on Wednesday. I think that each of theses stories have a lot that we can learn from so I wanted to share them with you. I hope you enjoy them. I did very much so. After the stories I will continue my email.
1. The Torchbearer
The God of High Endeavor
Gave me a torch to bear.
I lifted it high above me
In the dark and murky air;
And straightway with loud hosannas
The crowd proclaimed its light
And followed me as I carried my torch
Through the starless night,
Till drunk with the people's praises
And mad with vanity
I forgot 'twas the torch that they followed
And fancied they followed me.
Then slowly my arm grew weary
Upholding the shining load,
And my tired feet went stumbling
Over the dusty road.
And I fell with the torch beneath me.
In a moment the light was out.
When lo! from the throng a stripling
Sprang forth with a mighty shout,
Caught up the torch as it smoldered
And lifted it high again,
Till fanned by the winds of heaven
It fired the souls of men.
As I lay alone in the darkness
The feet of the trampling crowd
Passed over and far beyond me,
Its praises* proclaimed aloud,
And I learned in the deepening twilight
The glorious verity,
'Tis the torch that the people follow,
Whoever the bearer may be.
To me the torch can be a lot of things. The priesthood, the gospel, the Savior. It is humbling to know that I am part of something much bigger than myself. I am just a bearer of the torch. It is good to be reminded about that lest we let pride creep in and we think we are doing these amazing works by our own power.
2. The Story of a Son
A wealthy man and his son loved to collect rare works of art. They had everything in their collection, from Picasso to Raphael. They would often sit together and admire the great works of art. When the Vietnam conflict broke out, the son went to war. He was very courageous and died in battle while rescuing another soldier. The father was notified and grieved deeply for his only son. About a month later, just before Christmas, there was a knock at the door. A young man stood at the door with a large package in his hands. He said, "Sir, you don't know me, but I am the soldier for whom your son gave his life. He saved many lives that day, and he was carrying me to safety when a bullet struck him in the heart and he died instantly. He often talked about you, and your love for art. The young man held out his package. "I know this isn't much. I'm not really a great artist, but I think your son would have wanted you to have this." The father opened the package. It was a portrait of his son, painted by the young man. He stared in awe at the way the soldier had captured the personality of his son in the painting. The father was so drawn to the eyes that his own eyes welled up with tears. He thanked the young man and offered to pay him for the picture. "Oh, no sir, I could never repay what your son did for me. It's a gift." The father hung the portrait over his mantle. Every time visitors came to his home he took them to see the portrait of his son before he showed them any of the other great works he had collected.
The man died a few months later. There was to be a great auction of his paintings. Many influential people gathered, excited over seeing the great paintings and having an opportunity to purchase one for their collection On the platform sat the painting of the son. The auctioneer pounded his gavel. "We will start the bidding with this picture of the son. Who will bid for this picture?" There was silence. Then a voice in the back of the room shouted, "We want to see the famous paintings. Skip this one." But the auctioneer persisted, "Will someone bid for this painting? Who will start the bidding? $100, $200?" Another voice shouted angrily, "We didn't come to see this painting. We came to see the Van Goghs, the Rembrandts. Get on with the real bids! "But still the auctioneer continued, "The son! The son! Who'll take the son?" Finally, a voice came from the very back of the room. It was the longtime gardener of the man and his son. "I'll give $10 for the painting." Being a poor man, it was all he could afford. "We have $10, who will bid $20?" "Give it to him for $10. Let's see the masters." "$10 is the bid, won't someone bid $20?" The crowd was becoming angry. They didn't want the picture of the son. They wanted the more worthy investments for their collections. The auctioneer pounded the gavel. "Going once, twice, SOLD for $10! A man sitting on the second row shouted, "Now let's get on with the collection!" The auctioneer laid down his gavel, "I'm sorry, the auction is over." "What about the paintings?" "I am sorry. When I was called to conduct this auction, I was told of a secret stipulation in the will. I was not allowed to reveal that stipulation until this time. Only the painting of the son would be auctioned. Whoever bought that painting would inherit the entire estate, including the paintings. The man who took the son gets everything!"
God gave his Son 2,000 years ago to die on a cruel cross. Much like the auctioneer, His message today is, "The Son, the Son, who'll take the Son?" Because you see, whoever takes the Son gets everything.
Today I read Alma 33 as I was waiting in a barber shop for my companion to finish getting his hair cut, because we all know that I do not need one. It is where Alma is rehearsing the words of Zenos and Zenok to the Zoramites (wow... a lot of Z's). I was impressed that about every other verse it talks about how we btaine mercy "through the son" or God blesses us "through the son." You should read it!
3.ONE EVENING, AN ELDERLY
CHEROKEE BRAVE TOLD HIS
GRANDSON ABOUT A BATTLE THAT
GOES ON INSIDE PEOPLE.
HE SAID "MY SON, THE BATTLE IS
BETWEEN TWO 'WOLVES' INSIDE US ALL.
ONE IS EVIL. IT IS ANGER,
ENVY, JEALOUSY, SORROW,
REGRET, GREED, ARROGANCE,
SELF-PITY, GUILT, RESENTMENT,
INFERIORITY, LIES, FALSE PRIDE,
SUPERIORITY, AND EGO.
THE OTHER IS GOOD.
IT IS JOY, PEACE LOVE, HOPE SERENITY,
HUMILITY, KINDNESS, BENEVOLENCE,
TRUTH, COMPASSION AND FAITH."
THE GRANDSON THOUGH ABOUT
IT FOR A MINUTE AND THEN ASKED
"WHICH WOLF WINS?..."
THE OLD CHEROKEE SIMPLY REPLIED,
"THE ONE THAT YOU FEED"
I think that it starts with our thoughts. We begin to choose which wolf we will feed with our thoughts. Then it shows in our words, later in our actions, then later in who we are as people. Feed the right wolf!
So here is some information that I need to make sure to let you know. First of all, next Monday we have mission conference, so do not expect an email from me on Monday. Instead we will have our P-day on the 7th of May (Wednesday) so I will send you my next email them. We have transfers on the sixth. We found out about them already and I will be going to Lutsk to serve with Elder LeBaron. He is in his second transfer right now. I was asked to be the district leader there. I will be sad to leave L'viv but I am excited for Lutsk and what I can do to help out there. Also some more information that you should know, we were asked to Skype on Saturday night instead of on Sunday. I don't think this will be a problem and it might even work out better for you if dad needs to leave. I can do it on Saturday night anytime. That would be Saturday morning for you. Please let me know in your next email what time would be good for all of you and I will arrange to make it happen. Thanks so much!
Let me tell you a little bit about my week!
This week we had a big Family History day of open doors that was on Saturday. It was for anyone to come and learn how to do family history and it was put on by specialists. We just helped out set up, clean up, and all other stuff like that. On Tuesday we went on exchanges with members to hand out fliers (invites) to the Family History day. We met a lot of nice people. I went with the branch president. He wore his cool traditional Ukrainian dress shirt called a wishywanka and I wore my normal missionary clothes. Everyone took invites from him, but people were suspicious with me as I had a name badge on for a church. That day I was yelled at for being a Jehovah's witness (which I guess I really am if you think about it because I testify about Christ every day), a seventh day Adventist, a baptist, and finally for being a Mormon. One older lady even started screaming that I was a devil when I tried to talk with her. Haha. It was a little discouraging. Then I met a nice old man, who asked me which person I would be voting for in the upcoming presidential elections in Ukraine (a very popular question now of days). I told him that I was a foreigner and that they would not let me vote. The man then leaned over to me, gave me a hug, and said "we love you, thank you for your support." It made me feel very warm inside after being yelled at for the better part of the day. Even when we seem to have trials, it is cool how God reaches out to let us know that He loves us.
On Sunday we went to Ternopil. It was a very rewarding trip. In the hotel where we have church one of the candidates for president was staying so there were a bunch of really jacked guys in suits who looked at us all really funny when we came in. It was funny. I gave a talk on the atonement.
Sorry I am a little out of order here, but let me tall you about last monday. In western Ukraine it is tradition to throw water on each other the monday after easter. The more water that gets thrown on you then the happier you are supposed to be. Well, let's just say I should be pretty happy. We got a lot of water thrown on us. Most of it was by church members. Don't worry, you can be sure that we got them back!
Elder Vandermark and I also got really good at planing trips because a senior couple from Kiev came down (they are new on their mission) to visit out branches to audit them. They did not plan their trip before they came down to L'viv so we ended up doing that for them (train tickets, hotels, meetings). We did such a good job we should have charged. It took us about two full days to get everything set. They were really grateful and they took us out to dinner on Saturday night after the meeting (to go over the audit) with the L'viv branch president and the clerk (me).
I had a good week! I love you all very much!