Monthly Archives: September 2015

Van Gogh Forth With Faith

This past week has been different since we lost an elder. His former companion joined us, and we operated as a trio. It may have been slightly more intimidating with not two, but THREE Mormons at the door. Wednesday is transfers, though, so we’ll be back to normal soon enough.

I probably should have brought a jacket with me. It hasn’t been cold, but it’s been quite wet the past few days. But I found a worn jacket in the closet, so that’s mine for the time being. I can probably patch up the tears in it at some point.

Anyway, other than that, it’s been a rather uneventful week. Uneventful meaning most of our appointments fell through. On the bright side, we found a couple of new solid potential investigators.

It’s become clearer and clearer recently how integral member missionary work is to the Work in general. People are far more likely to listen to their friends than to a couple of strangers with nametags. Invite your neighbors to meet with you and the missionaries at the same time. Productive team-ups are highly effective.

And to those of you who are planning on serving missions:
Remember to be righteous, and remember the dignity of your calling. You aren’t coming out here to say that you did it, you’re doing it to serve the Lord. You are here to help others to see the good that comes of living a Christlike life. In order to do that, you have to be living your own life in as Christlike a fashion as possible. It will make you the most effective missionary you can be.

“There is a law, irrevocably decreed in heaven before the foundations of this world, upon which all blessings are predicated–
And when we obtain any blessing from God, it is by obedience to that law upon which it is predicated.”

–D&C 130: 20-21

We live in a world that is gradually moving from governed to turbulent. Consider Vincent van Gogh’s famous painting, Starry Night. Mathematically, those swirls tumbling through that night sky are considered a perfect example of the principle of turbulence. As the world moves ever further from the ways of God, there is eventually an absence of what society would consider right or wrong. Tolerance of the beliefs of others is golden; we all have our agency, and are free to make whatever choices we will. But as disciples of Jesus Christ, to accept everything as “good” from a relative standpoint is to permit anarchy. Some things truly are black and white. Turbulence is beautiful in paintings, but as a loss of standards spreads throughout the world like oil in water, or like each spot of paint in Starry Night does through the sky, it is important to stand in holy places and be not moved. Move to higher ground, and make your stand there.

Anyway, I guess that’s about it. Forgive me if the mathematical turbulence thing wasn’t the right example.


The Gospel of Starbucks and a Pyramid Scheme?

Still lots of biking. Here’s one for the Mistborn readers out there: If you see a pale Koloss with the majority of the tears around the leg areas riding around on a bike in two years, it’s probably me. Still lots of troubles with megachurches.Talk about great and spacious buildings. Throw a Starbucks in there, and the people will come. I’m pretty sure whatever they do in there is non-denominational enough to be taxed by the federal government.

Haha, but whatever. My purpose is not to disparage other organizations. My purpose is to *breath*

(That’s just a little something they taught us in the MTC.)

There was a man we met who thought he was rather close to the “truth.” He had researched many other religions, read various holy books, and had come to the conclusion that all religions point toward a single, underlying set of truths untainted by the dogmas of men.

He visualized it as a pyramid. We were at the bottom, so he said, along with the rabbis, and priests, and other people who professed to preach the truth. Above us were what he considered prophets, which consisted also of rabbis, priests, and other preachers, but was limited to those who had brought forth some sort of holy book. And at the top of the pyramid were those bare, underlying truths. Things that more or less all of us believe to be true items of morality.

I considered this for a moment. I’ve talked to atheists and agnostics like this man before, those who lead honorable lives but do not adhere to a certain religion but believe in a central code of living. But when I placed the restored Gospel of Jesus Christ at the top of this pyramid, everything fell into place. Suddenly all those people just below the top of the pyramid were closer to God than this man thought. Lower on the pyramid were the many seeds of that underlying truth that had belonged to the Gospel but were lost during times of apostasy, which found root in other philosophies and faiths which in turn help people to live as honorably as they can.

So in considering dilemmas of morality, I would invite everyone to place God at the top of that pyramid, and get as close to it as you can.

“Yea, come unto Christ, and be perfected in Him, and deny yourselves of all ungodliness; and if ye shall deny yourselves of all ungodliness, and love God with all your might, mind, and strength, then is His grace sufficient for your, that by His grace ye may be perfect in Christ; and if by the grace of God ye are perfect in Christ, ye can in nowise deny the power of God.” –Moroni 10:32

If that makes any sense.

Things are, well…different.

We’ve been having a lot of trouble getting people to Sacrament Meeting
because of the mega-churches out here. They aren’t really even church.
They’re more like concerts with unoffensive, non-denominational
messages at the end. There’s really something to be said about the
reverence of Sacrament meeting. In order to receive the Spirit, you
have to prepare a place for Him to dwell.

Yesterday was interesting; I met a Hindu, a Sikh, a Buddhist, and a
Catholic, most of them from different countries, all on the same
street. There were some creepy folks there, too. I’m glad to have the
normalcy of most of the ward to offset the weirdness.

Anyway, there’s not much to say this week. Although we got our
eight-year-old investigator’s baptism set!

“I want to ride my bicycle! Bicycle! Bicycle!”

Biking. All the time. It’s really exhausting sometimes. My thighs are tight like unto a dish. It sure would be nice to have a comfortable bed, because every morning my back pops like bubble wrap.

We’re hoping that we can set up appointments with our eight-year-old investigator more than once per week so we can get him baptized soon. One of our other investigators had a stroke, but we gave her a blessing, and she’s getting better. She can’t wait to come to church.

I’m excited because I finally bought some snack food. Ritz Bits! Cookies! I don’t know how I’m going to eat all my cereal before it gets stale, though.

This week our P-Day got moved from Monday to Tuesday because of Labor Day. At least that means we have a shorter work week.

Eh… I really don’t know what else to say this week. It’s been pretty tiring.


Settling in with an iPad and Good Butta!

It’s starting to get a bit stressful out here. There’s a lot of biking, and a lot of talking, which I am still not accustomed to. Introverts have it rough out here in the field. I’m still buying off-brand bread and cereal, but I got some good butter this week, and I’m now allowed to use my iPad, so that’s been helpful. Or did I mention that before? And there are mosquito bites. All the time.

One of the most difficult things (besides talking to people) is remembering everyone’s names. I get paranoid about calling people I’ve just met the wrong name anyway, so that’s been no help. It’s going to be a challenge when I get moved to a new area and have to get to know a new ward.

Eating well

Speaking of the ward, I’ve met some more people, and I feel like less of a stranger now. I think I’m getting a bit better at teaching as well. My companion recommended that I spend the first few weeks studying only the Book of Mormon and Preach My Gospel. That’s been a bit difficult because I REALLY want to read Jesus the Christ and go through pretty much everything in the Gospel Library instead. It would be great to just be able to watch the Bible videos or something.

A lot of people here are Christian, but they think that all you have to do is “a’cept Him inta your heart,” and you’re good, so that makes it difficult. We do sometimes find some good potentials when we’re out tracting, though.

We had someone commit to baptism, but she has a hard time getting to church. Hopefully that works out.

I guess that’s about it for this week.