Saturday, February 20, 2016

Random thoughts and other spiritual experiences

Brendan sent us an email not long ago that started out with a story about meeting a new investigator that seemed to get it and then just as quickly, finding out that the same investigator had decided not to move forward.  The rest of Brendan's email was a reflection on that experience.  Many of the things that Brendan said, shows how much he has changed over the last year.  Well, maybe not how much he has changed but more about how much of a different side of Brendan is showing through.  Rather than trying to paraphrase what Brendan said in his email, I will just let Brendan say it all:
"So is the life of a missionary. You win some and you lose some. I read today a verse in 1st Nephi that I had never noticed before and it is in chapter 17 Verse 21. "Behold, these many years we have suffered in the wilderness, which time we might have enjoyed our possessions and the land of our inheritance; yea, and we might have been happy." This is Laman and Lemuel complaining about their journey into the wilderness and the afflictions that they encountered.

Now it is interesting to see their words. "yea and we might have been happy" Now they went through the same things as Nephi. The exact same things. All the afflictions, struggles, trials were felt by both parties and some could say that Nephi had it worse. But compare their statements. How many times can you find Nephi saying something along the lines of "my joy was full" or "my heart was filled with exceeding joy" in First Nephi. Hint: IT IS EVERYWHERE!

Whats the difference between the two? Humility and gratitude. And that is what I have learned it great abundance thus far on my mission. I am coming up on my year mark this week and in all reality it is quite surreal. I feel weird. I have been out for what feels an eternity and also a total of a week at the same time. I don't get it.

I have come to find that if happiness for you is only found in the past, then you are limiting your opportunity to feel happiness in the future. Luke 17:32 "Remember Lot's Wife" It is as simple as that. DON'T LOOK BACK! Happiness is found not in simply getting through hard times but in enduring with an attitude of gratitude. What a silly rhyme but what a profound thought.

My challenge to all of you this year is to take that to heart. Live it. 2016 may already be off to a bad start, but it won't get any better the more you think of 2015. Happiness is a choice and it is in store for all of those who endure well. Choose to be happy today. You won't regret it"
It seems that these past few weeks for Brendan have been some of the most spiritual and difficult times that he has had so far.  Just a couple of weeks after sending us the email that talked about losing a very good investigator, we get another email detailing an experience that Brendan had while giving a blessing to a Ward member.  I won't go into detail about why Brendan was giving a blessing to one of the Ward members, except  to say that this member had just come through a very frightening and intense experience.  As a result, Brendan's mission president had asked Brendan to join them in the Bishop's office.  Here is how Brendan described what happened next:
"But we laid our hands on his head and I have never had an experience like that with a blessing in my life. I have never felt like an oracle for the spirit in such a real way in my life. And it was powerful. I couldn't tell you a word I said. Not one. But the spirit filled the room and next thing you knew I was giving this Ward Member a hug after. What power is had in the oath and covenant of the priesthood. What an incredible experience to be the conduit for the spirit in such a real life moment."
I think I mentioned this before but Brendan's emails home tend to contain a lot of random thoughts.  In one paragraph he will be talking about a very spiritual experience and in the next paragraph he is talking about slurpees.  That's right, slurpees.  In fact when Brendan gets into is random thoughts mode, those thoughts are almost always pretty funny.  Take this one for example:
"Last thing, this has been a long one. But I have to get this off my mind. Straight up, Winnipeg is the slurpee capital of the world. More slurpees are bought and drank here then anywhere else. Whats up with that? I kid you not, you will drive around and you will see people with their coffee cups in their hands and that makes sense. But then you will see people in -7 degree weather, with a slurpee in their hand. ARE YOU KIDDING? no gloves either. They are just bare handing that thing. Whats up with that? These people are nuts."
 There you have it.  Apparently the Canadian people in Winnipeg are tough as nails.  Who else would bare fist a slurpee in -7 degrees?  Those must be some mighty good slurpees up there.  Oh and if you thought that random story was good, check out how Brendan started out his next email:
"Well, well, well. I can't feel my fingers right now. I just got done helping an old sweet man break all the ice off of the library side walk. And jeez, in Utah we have snow shovels. But in Canada, they got a whole new assortment of winter tools. We used this big ice breaker thingy. Just a long pole with a metal dull blade on the end that you just ram into the ground and all the ice shatters. It's crazy. My hands feel like that one time I used a jackhammer for 4 hours straight. Jiggly.  Oh and its like -16 out with like 60 km an hour winds. sooooo, yeah. Winnipeg.  So I will try my best to type even though my hands are toast.

But this week has been fantastic haha. hah hah. Well, it has been alright. I have enjoyed it for the most part. Nothing overly crazy. Except I have just been destroying my white shirts lately. Those things have just been practically battle ridden casualties. I have gone through three in like three weeks.  The first two I ruined by accidentally leaving a pad of neon green post it notes in the pocket. Those got straight murdered."
The third white shirt that he destroyed had more of a story behind it.  It all had to do with being out tracting in -18 degree weather with the wind blowing at about 80 kph.  Then they spotted a man waiting at a bus stop in shorts.  Did I mention that the Winnipeg Canadians are tough as nails?  About the time when Brendan was getting the man's contact information, the bus pulls up and the man rushes to get on.  Brendan, in his haste, put the uncapped sharpie in his shirt pocket.  Once they finally got home and Brendan noticed what had happened to his shirt, he said that it looked like he had been shot in the chest and was bleeding green blood.  Let's just hope that the contact information was worth the destruction of another white shirt.  If anybody is thinking about sending a package to Brendan any time soon, a new white shirt might be a good thing to send.

OK, random thought time again.  Check this one out:
"BUT our ward organist didn't show up for church. Sooooo guess who played the organ for church yesterday. THIS GUY! And it was super fun. I loved it. Mom you would be proud of me. I play the piano for everything out here. I end up having to play at church every week in gospel principles, and I play about every week at FHE and in district meetings and even for zone conferences and baptisms. So it is great fun. I'm better at piano right now on my mission with no practicing what so ever than I have ever been in my life. And heck, I even chucked in some pedals when I was playing the organ on Sunday. I felt like the man. haha. I loved it!"
On one of Brendan's recent P-Days, they did a little sight seeing around Winnipeg.  Brendan sent home a few pictures of the things he saw.  He also sent a few pictures of himself.  Check out the picture of the ice-sickle that froze going up rather than hanging down.  There actually is a perfectly logical explanation for this.  Enjoy the sights of Winnipeg.


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