Monday, December 30, 2013

Was That Really Christmas?

I forgot the cord for my camera this week, but then I realized I only took one picture the whole week anyway. I will be sure to have a picture for next week.

Christmas felt way different this year, that is for sure. Without my family to spend the whole day with, it felt so weird. It was still great though! I did get to see most of my family over Skype for 45 minutes. We had a lunch of waffles with a family from the church, then we had smoked pork with another family for dinner. However, there was no ceremonial present-opening or family mad-libs from my brother Tom. I'm not saying those things are bad, but maybe it will be good for me to have a couple of Christmas seasons out in the mission field. It really helped me to focus more on turning my heart to Jesus Christ, though my family was not forgotten. When we are truly converted to His gospel, well will naturally take the Christmas season as an opportunity to serve and help others in any way possible. This practice, even if it interrupts family traditional relaxation (especially if it does), will actually bring our families much closer together.

This week, apart from Christmas activities, we also moved apartments, so it was very busy. One night, we were surprised to find a cat in our new apartment. Then we looked at the front door and saw that we had left it open. Oops. Another funny thing that happened this week was on our way home from I don't remember where. My companion, who was driving, said a few things like "were they honking at me?" and "woah, that car just about hit us!" What I'm trying to say is: Casper is not lacking one-way streets. It was hard not to laugh and cry at the same time when we recognized that we were going backwards on one of them. By the way, this is my new address for at least a month:

Elder William Dudley
1025 S David St Apt A
Casper, WY 82601

Or, to be safe, you can always send things to the South Dakota Rapid City Mission address, and they will be forwarded to me.

Back to work. We have found a few Spanish speaking families to teach the gospel to, which is a relief, because it means we don't have to wander around the city the whole day looking for people. I am very excited to see them accept the teachings of Jesus Christ and find peace and direction in their lives. I know that if they accept His message, their lives will be able to continually improve. No matter how great or horrible life is, turning to Jesus Christ will always make it better, and following His gospel guarantees eternal life with God. 

Yesterday at church, I had the opportunity to speak in front of the congregation of the Spanish group. I'm not sure how my grammar was, but that doesn't matter as much as whether or not the message was felt. This is not exactly what I shared, but here's the general idea: I shared Mosiah 3:19 to introduce the principle of becoming child-like as essential to conversion. Jesus Christ told His disciples in the Bible that they must humble themselves as little children to enter into the Kingdom of God. There are attributes we possess in childhood that we should put away as we grow older, but there are many that will help us throughout life. Just think of how sincere a child is. But how can we possibly become as children? 3 Nephi 9:20 teaches that we must offer as sacrifices to God a broken heart and a contrite spirit. Imagine trying out for a sport team or applying for a job. After tryouts or interviews, you feel completely confident that you are qualified for the position. Now imagine the feeling you get if the coach or employer tells you that you didn't make it. Not the discouragement, but the humble desire to know what you can do better. This is the feeling we should have before God. Often in life we start to think of ourselves as qualified individuals. At these times, we do not rely on God, and we may ignore His counsel. He may not tell us during our life "you didn't make it," but that's why we have to be extra careful. We have to come before God, recognizing that we can always do better and sincerely wanting to know what we can improve on. When we do this, He will show us our weaknesses in a perfectly patient, loving way. Only through this process can we truly become childlike. He will change our hearts.


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