Sights from the hike around a lake & Elder Potter and I by the waterfall
June 20, 2016
Hello Family & Friends!
In a very broad generalization of the entire human race, there are two types of people. The first type sees the glass as half empty, and the other sees it as half full. Regardless of how we look at the glass, it is still only contains half of the possible volume.
This coming Thursday will mark one year that I've been serving a mission. One year having passed by me in just the blink of an eye, with another year approaching. It's a very weird feeling. At times, I can see it all as if the glass is half empty, that half of my mission has felt as though it just slipped through my fingers, as if it passed without me noticing. Sure, the day to day can feel as though it will never end, but for some strange reason, the weeks and months fly by. Other moments, I feel as though the glass is half full, as if I've lived this previous year to it's fullest. But no matter how I choose to look at it, come Thursday, 365 days would have passed since I stepped foot into the Missionary Training Center.
I like to look at this last year as the year which I experienced the most growth. I feel like I am a greater person now than I was just one year ago. I don't think that I'm still a punk teenager, but that I've grown up in a way. I guess when you move halfway across the world, you manage to change, quite quickly I might add.
It leads me to reflect on how I've changed. Day to day, I feel like the same person. Week to week, it feels like an up or down in life, with the occasional life lesson thrown in. That life lesson can be anything from "Don't buy something when you don't know what it is. Then, you end up stinking up your apartment with the rancid fumes of seared pork liver." to something on the opposite end of the spectrum such as "God loves me. I am a child of a loving Heavenly Father and He wants the best for me". Week to week comes with it's own lessons, but on a month to month basis, I think I start to see change. But coming up on the year mark. Wow. Boy, how the time flies! Talk about being different.
A year of experiences can do a lot for a person. A year is full of 365 days, packed full of conversations, trials, and triumphs. That will mold a person. But it's not the experiences in life that change us. Experiences are just moments. They are just a realization of what happened. It is what we do with our experiences that change us, that forge us into who we want to become. If we take a closed door in life as the end, if we just give up then and there, and just walk home, we give up. We take each closed door as a chance to move on to the next opportunity. So what if you win a race, if when you're done, you quit working for the next. It was a triumph, but if you do nothing with the experiences you have, you don't improve. Our experiences don't shape us, just like our circumstances don't shape us. It's what we do with that which we have that will refine who we are.
There's a great analogy in the scriptures about how we go through the refiner's fire. All of us as some point or another, and I'm willing to say that this is a life-long process, not just a moment's experience, will go through the refiner's fire. Our loving Heavenly Father is the refiner. Our challenges and experiences, both good and bad, is that fire. If we allow our challenges to soften us, so that we can be refined, we can be forged into something greater. But we have to be willing to move forward and look forward to the future and continue striving to be better. We need to choose to make the best of our different "fires" that we run into and allow it to soften us so that we can be shaped into the people that our Heavenly Father knows that we can become.
In this last year, I've seen and experienced some incredible things. I've experienced everything from the Northern lights, it being light 24/7, mørketid with absolutely no sun for a month, to climbing peaks, seeing the most Northern point of Norway, visiting memorials, seeing a bit of Sweden, being in several of Norway's most major cities, experiencing some of the most rural places Norway can offer, helping build a bunch of stuff, knocking on people's doors when it's freezing outside and also hotter than I can imagine (not at the same time), talking to the most interesting people on the streets, having Christmas in Norway, and countless other things.
Yes, all of things were incredible, they make lifetime memories that I can never forget, but things like this don't change us, it's what we do with our experiences that do. I feel like at times I've taking my experiences in stride, and other times with resistance, but it's SOOOO much easier to embrace our experiences and move forward. Accept what has happened, realize that there are things in this life that we don't have control over, and move on. Take the next step. We don't go anywhere in life if we stand still. Our experiences are our opportunities to make something happen, to change ourselves, to be better.
Although, when I think about everything that I've experienced, the greatest things that happened in my life weren't experiences that affected me directly, but those where I got to see other people's lives change. This life isn't all about us. In a way, we all play a part, and we are all important, but it doesn't revolve around us. It is those people who are around us that matter. They are the ones that we need to reach out to and help. The moment we forget about ourselves and begin to think about others, that's when we make real change. That is when we become changed people. We don't change by thinking about ourselves, you only get frustrated by doing that. We change for the better when we think about others. We will see the greatest change in ourselves when we try doing things for other people.
I've seen many lives changed in the last year. Thankfully, mine has too in the process. But I've met people who came to Christ, found the truth, and went after it. I've loved every moment of seeing other people become changed over time, coming to an understanding of God's endless love for them, and seeing them become something greater, becoming that which God knew they had potential to be. Those have been the greatest moments I've experienced, it was seeing other people come closer to God.
I hope that we all move forward with the experiences that we have. That we take a step forward, quit worrying about the past, and do something about it. I hope that we all come to a deeper understanding of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, that we all come to a greater understanding of our own potential, and work. Go and become what God wants us to become.
My testimony in the Gospel of Jesus Christ has been strengthened more than I can really express. I left with a foundation of belief, a foundation that I felt was ready to be built upon, and in this last year, something great has been built on it. The construction is never over, it is a lifelong process of building upon that which we have already learned and experienced.
It is my witness that we are all sons or daughters of a loving Heavenly Father. He is the Father of all of our spirits. All of us existed before we came to earth. That we are all remembered. God doesn't forget us, it is us who forget Him. But because He loves us, He sent us His only begotten son, Jesus Christ, who came into the world so that we would be able to be saved and return to our Heavenly Father. Through Jesus Christ, we can become perfected through Him. Because of Him, we can receive forgiveness, strength, and be able to move forward. We can change because of Christ. I know that he suffered and died for us, and that he arose as a resurrected being. We will all be resurrected after we die because of His sacrifice. Jesus Christ and our Heavenly Father truly did visit Joseph Smith to begin the restoration of Christ's church, to not just become any other church, but to be the same that Christ established when He was on the earth. The scriptures are true. The Book of Mormon truly is the word of God, it was written as another testament of Jesus Christ. Throughout the entire book it testifies of Christ, and it will help us come closer to God by living its teaching than by living the teachings of any other book. God loves us. He hears and answers the prayers of those who believe in Him. We all have a purpose on Earth. We all have potential. I pray that we can all work together, and help each other so that we can be able to return to God again someday.
I hope all of you have a wonderful week! Happy Father's Day yesterday to all of the Fathers around the world!
|Old books at a member's home.|