Happy May, folks. (Yes, that means Mother´s Day. YES!)
This was a good week. In February, we baptized Maria and yesterday her husband was FINALLY baptized! We found them in January, and are super happy that he finally decided to take this important step. It was a miracle.
Really don’t have much news for now... this transfer is flying. The area is great. We are working hard.
Easter has come and gone, but it’s a message we always hold in our hearts. As such, I found a really beautiful story, a glue-in in my scriptures from seminary.
``It was obvious that 8-year-old Stephen´s mental retardation was becoming even more severe. His Sunday school teacher did her best to include Stephen in the classroom activities and to avoid situations which might prompt his classmates to make fun of him. In April, she gave each of the 8 children in the class an empty L´eggs pantyhose container (plastic egg) and instructed them to place inside the container an object that represented new life in spring. Fearing that Stephen might not have caught on, and not wanting to embarrass him, the teacher had the children place all the containers on the desk so that she could open them. The first had a tiny flower in it. “What a lovely sign of new life,” the teacher said. One of the students couldn’t help but erupt, ``I brought that one!”
“Next, came a rock. The teacher assumed this must be Stephen´s, since rocks don’t symbolize new life. But Billy shouted that his rock had moss on it, and moss represented new life. ``Very good, Billy,” agreed the teacher. A butterfly flew from the third container and another child bragged that her choice was the best of all. The fourth container was empty. This must be Stephen´s, thought the teacher, quickly reaching for a different one. ``Teacher, please don’t skip mine,`` interrupted Stephen. ``But its empty, Stephen,” said the teacher gently. “That’s right,`` said Stephen. ```The tomb was empty, and that represents new life for everyone.”
“Later that summer, Stephen´s condition worsened and he died. At his funeral on his casket, mourners found 8 L´eggs pantyhose containers- one from each of his classmates- and all of them empty.”
I love little Stephen´s perspective. The Savior provided the path for “new life” for each of us. He made it possible for us to really live, this life and in the next. We have hope in the life to come, but that doesn't mean that we shouldn't have hope and joy and love and laughter in the life we live in now. As 2 Nephi 2:25 reads, ``men are that they might have joy``. Christ made it possible for us to be happy. I want you to ask yourself this question, ``Am I happy?” And if you are, good! You are an example to us all- keep on keeping strong, and do your best to help those of us who haven’t quite made it there yet, or just aren't feeling so bright and cheery today. And if you can’t say ``yes`` to my question, a second one follows: ``Why not?``
I’m going to be very honest with you and I don’t want anyone overreacting. I hit a rough few months. The lowest I’ve ever been in my life. The words of Jeffrey R. Holland in his talk, ``Like a Broken Vessel`` became very alarmingly real to me. I had never been so afraid or hopeless or apathetic in my life... These are not numbered among my characteristics- virtues or vices, it was never me. Regretfully I tell you that I thought I´d nearly forgotten what it meant to be happy and thought I´d never make it there again. But God sent me an angel. (I have many in my life, you know :) ) A member took us into a small shop on the street corner and had my companion and I each choose a bracelet- a small gift. My companion immediately selected the red on with the word, ``LOVE`` lettered in cursive across the band. I chose a bracelet not paying much attention to color or wording. The member told me he didn’t like my choice and said, ``Pick the pink one (with the word ``happiness``). I don’t know what motivated his decision, but it was an answer to prayer. I looked at the word ``happiness`` and felt something spark in my mind and my heart. I slipped the band on my wrist and we went back to work.
A bracelet is a silly thing, really, and this is a silly story... but I learned something, and I think that’s always what counts. I learned that the choice to be happy is as easy as the choice to slip a simple band on your wrist. The keyword here is ``choice``. So every morning when I put the band on, I make the choice that today I AM going to be happy. President Uchtdorf teaches this principle in his talk, “Of Resolutions and Regrets” in the section, “I wish I’d let myself be happier.”
He said, “So often we get caught up in the illusion that there is something just beyond our reach that would bring us happiness: a better family situation, a better financial situation, or the end of a challenging trial. The older we get, the more we look back and realize that external circumstances don’t really matter or determine our happiness. You and I are ultimately in charge of our own happiness... sometimes in life we become so focused on the finish line that we fail to find joy in the journey... doesn't it seem foolish to spoil sweet and joyful experiences because we are constantly anticipating the moment when they will end?... We shouldn't wait to be happy until we reach some future point, only to discover that happiness was available all the time! Life is not meant to be appreciated only in retrospect. ``This is the day the Lord hath made…” the psalmist wrote. “Rejoice and be glad in it”... No matter our circumstances, no matter our challenges and trials, there is something in each day to embrace and cherish... Let us resolve to be happy, regardless of our circumstances.``
AMEN. I testify that we can be happy. We can be grateful, hopeful, joyful, patient, merciful, selfless and giving, meek, and even understanding. We can be better listeners, quick to forgive and slow to anger. We can be examples, better Christians, better neighbors, and better friends. I’m not saying it’s easy, but the phrase, ``attitude is everything`` isn't a joke, and not much of an exaggeration either.
I LOVE you guys, and as such, my heart breaks for you in your heartache and rejoices with you in your success. My invitation to each of you this day and always is that you make the choice. Make the choice each day- no matter how difficult each coming day may seem. And if you establish this goal with Christ as your center, focus, foundation, and inspiration, I promise you that no force in earth or hell with have power to knock you down. Christ always wins. That means that we get to win, too.
With this in mind, may we always remember the words of David O. McKay, “Mans greatest happiness comes from losing himself for the good of others.”
I love you all. Be good. Be safe. Be happy. SMILE! You all have beautiful smiles :)
Clau- a friend of mine.
Who says you can’t be a missionary AND a rockstar? Fun fact: my nickname here is Miley Cyrus. People here think I look like her.