Monday, October 1, 2012

Becoming as little children! (#55)

Studying with our Sunday school class in 3 Nephi has been a great experience for us. We have learned so much and we hope that the youth have too.  We have talked about the Savior’s teachings in the Sermon on the Mount. Each principle brings us to a higher and higher level. We want to become more like the Savior, and we know we have to start somewhere. We like the idea of becoming like little children.  “Except you become as little children, ye cannot enter into the kingdom of heaven.”

We love the little children here in Palau. They are so beautiful, sweet, and innocent. How can we be more like they are?

One of the ways is by turning our will over to our Heavenly Father. This quote says it very well: “Yielding one’s heart to God signals the last stage in our spiritual development.  Only then are we beginning to be fully useful to God! It is only by yielding to God that we can begin to realize His will for us. And if we truly trust God, why not yield to His loving omniscience? After all, He knows us and our possibilities much better than we do.” (Willing to Submit, May 1985 Neal A. Maxwell)  Elder Johnsen told his Sunday School class this week that he thought “blessed are the meek” meant “blessed are those who defer to the will of God”.  President Gordon B. Hinckley said, “Meekness implies a spirit of gratitude and opposed to an attitude of self-sufficiency, an acknowledgment of a greater power beyond oneself, a recognition of God, and an acceptance of his commandments.”  

This is our one year mark in the mission field, and to be perfectly honest, we have learned serving a mission for 18 months with no breaks is HARD work.  At ExxonMobil Elder Johnsen had 6 weeks of vacation, 10 holidays with nights and weekends off every year, and they paid him a salary.  On a mission we’re up at 6:00 a.m. and fall exhausted in bed every night at 10:00. It is a relentless schedule, seven days a week, and we pay for the privilege to serve.  

This last week we were facing some personal challenges, and had questions about how to handle those problems, so we opened a fast on Saturday night. We were seeking to know the Lord’s will about our mission here in Palau. We went to church with one very strong opinion, hoping the Lord would validate that. Instead, he showed us in very interesting ways what He wanted us to do.

Sister Johnsen was teaching about how the Nephites heard a sound, but they had to hear it three times before they “Opened their ears to hear it.” (3 Nephi 11:5) Sister Johnsen and the class decided that opening our ears meant listening with our hearts. She felt that maybe she was being reminded that she needed to open her heart as well.

Then Sister Johnsen went into Relief Society, and Elder Johnsen went into Priesthood. Both groups were studying the talk by Elder Holland, called “Laborers in the Vineyard”. Sister Johnsen had prepared the opening song a month in advance, so as she lead and sang the song, she was surprised to hear the words as though the Lord had spoken to her. “The time is far spent, there is little remaining, to publish glad tidings, by sea and by land. Then hasten ye heralds, go forward proclaiming: Repent for the kingdom of heaven’s at hand. Shrink not from your duty, however unpleasant, but follow the Savior, your pattern and friend. Our little afflictions tho painful at present, Ere long, with the righteous, in glory will end. Be fixed in your purpose, for Satan will try you; the weight of your calling he perfectly knows. Your path may be thorny, but Jesus is nigh you. His arm is sufficient, tho demons oppose.” (The Time is Far Spent, Hymn #266)

Elder Johnsen was listening to the lesson in Priesthood, but was beginning to feel a little drowsy (as High Priests are sometimes known to be) and felt as though someone shook him and said, “Pay attention. You need to hear this:  “The formula of faith is to hold on, work on, see it through, and let the distress of earlier hours-real or imagined-fall away in the abundance of the final reward.” (Labor’s in the Vineyard, Jeffrey R. Holland, Ensign May, 2012. Pg. 32.)

When we came home to talk and pray and break our fast, we felt we knew what the Lord wanted us to do, and we just needed to align our will with His to accomplish the work that he sent us to Palau to do. We felt grateful for the opportunity to know what He wanted us to do, and are praying for the strength to do it.

Sometimes we have to learn this lesson of deferring to the will of God over and over again. It is not usually a one and done situation. Just as little children have to try and fail sometimes several times, we also need to develop these attributes over time. This is advanced discipleship! These things seldom are accomplished in a straight line.

Speaking of straight lines, you should see the work we did in the parking lot of the church this week. To paint a truly straight line we had to tape every line first and then we could paint. It was hard work and hot. But we finished all the yellow lines and curb markings in one morning. Surprisingly the Elders were sorer from the stooping and kneeling than were the old timers.

 In addition to painting, Elder Johnsen and Fullmer hung a bulletin board in our primary nursery.
We are grateful to be reminded that we need to become as little children and that we can trust the Lord-- He always knows the right thing to do!

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