Well that statement isn't entirely true, but the others ones need to be saved for later.
This morning finds me enjoying a rare and much appreciated 21C (70F) in Port Augusta, which is more than welcome as far as I'm concerned. Mild summer as it has been, no one really likes consecutive days of 40C (104F) and sunny. Thankfully it's not gotten much warmer than that in my own part of the world, but I do still envy that blizzard you're all experiencing, or experienced.
As far as updates go, we had a brilliant lesson with Phil and Lynny about the Law of Chastity, and President and Sister Armstrong were present for it. In fact, they did a lot of the teaching, which was fine by me- having been the older, senior missionary for quite a while now, it's nice to be able to remain engaged in the lesson yet let someone else do the talking. Do I sound lazy? I think I'm just tired of hearing my own voice- I talk too much during lessons. I prefer listening, and I think Heavenly Father does as well; just think about how much listening He does compared to actual speaking.
Anyways, Phil and Lynny are excited to continue progressing in their knowledge, but it sounds as though their minds are fixed. Despite the importance of such covenants, I've decided to not concern myself with it. I want them to make their covenants sooner than later, as I should, but I also respect their right to exercise their own freedom of choice and they have chosen to wait. All I can do now is continue to teach as powerfully and sincerely as I can, and the Spirit will do the rest.
We made a trip down to Clare this week. I like Clare because it's very hilly and covered in trees and even has a few orchards; it looks a lot like Mildura in some aspects, which might be why I love it so much. We went to church at the Clare unit which was an interesting experience. There were 20 of total, including the children, which is the most they've ever had there. Mostly because a lot of Port Pirie members came. There was some kind of excitement at the prospect of missionaries going out of their way to attend church in Clare. We thought we'd be gaining a new investigator, but that didn't really happen. Whilst in Clare, we had a good lesson with Alex again, whose missionary mate in the US asked him to wait until the end of the year so that he could baptize him.... (ask me how I feel about that one later; I don't want this to turn into a rant) so we'll be addressing that in, hopefully, a Skype lesson with Alex. It's not conducive to his spiritual progression to have one lesson a month with him, so we're going to attempt to expand our horizons and do something intelligent. But he is just as solid as ever, which is a good thing.
Now what have I been learning recently by way of spiritual nature? My Mum actually sent me something relevant to what I've been learning just as the week was ending, which is in regards to forgiving.
I had an interesting dream last night, one that involved two very close friends of mine back home. I don't usually pay attention to dreams, but sometimes I feel impressed to, just because I've heard not a few tales of people receiving answers to prayers via dreams. I'll spare some details, but suffice it to say that it sparked some deep thinking. I'm going to end up seeing the family members of at least one of these old mates fairly soon, and I was just envisioning going by and dropping off a gift I procured for them. As this scenario played in my mind, I mused that I would probably be invited in for at least a short time, time enough to share a tale or two of the Never Never (outback, specifically the Outback). And I found myself disliking the idea because this friend in particular and I had a bit of a falling out and I'm still feeling a subtle sting from it; I wasn't partial to remaining in a familiar environment where lots of feelings were developed -that are now a bit damaged- for longer than necessary. And then I opened my scriptures to the very scriptures I had read whilst such a falling out was occurring, in Doctrine and Covenants 112, in which I was exhorted to not be partial in any amount of love displayed, but to love my friend as I love myself (depending on the day, that could be a varying amount of "love") and basically to love all people the same way and forgive.
Forgive. Well... I thought I had managed that already. My friend had never asked for it, but I was hurt, so I had to forgive anyways. But if I couldn't even fathom lingering at my friend's house for longer than a few moments, how could I say I had done any amount of forgiving? I pondered about when terribly bad things happen to others that are brought about by people, and how they were not exempt from forgiving their wrongdoers either; could a victim of abuse wish to forgive, yet desire to never see the transgressor ever again, and still say they forgave completely? Would it be a full forgiveness? I asked myself the question, "Is it possible to forgive, yet feel uncomfortable with the idea of visiting old places that bring about carefully hidden memories that I have no desire to access?"
I'm not sure. It sort of sounds like a grudge has taken hold, and yet I don't desire for anything bad or evil to occur to my friend. I hope my friend is happy, and is experiencing blessings from Heavenly Father and finding joy in every day. But even if I could see my friend upon returning, if it was an available option, how long would it take before I could actually do it, face-to-face?
It's one of those things where I just need to square my shoulders and face it someday. I don't like being a dying missionary. I have 4 weeks left to soldier on and it seems that as the time passes, I keep getting distracted by various "soon-to-be's", whatever they are. It doesn't help that other missionaries are asking me how it feels (because even I haven't figured that out yet) and if I have any "potentials" or "investigators" that need to be taken to "the mountain of the Lord" in short time, or what it is that I'm going to do, what I'm going to study or what my career path will be. I don't rightly know the answer to any of those questions and sometimes I wish I wasn't asked about it. At the end of the day it doesn't bother me- this is just one of those days. I usually work through it by just concentrating on being where I am in the moment; if I am on my bike headed to a lesson, then that is where my mind is, too. I am currently in a library emailing home, thus that is where I am and am not at the same time... paradox? Hence the torn feelings.
But all is well. As I was driving in the evening hours from Clare back to Port Pirie last night, the sun was blazing in a brilliant display of gold, which splashed with almost liquid-like quality over the scores of harvested wheat fields that splayed over the surrounding hills. The clouds, storm clouds to our aft, were a glorious scene of power and darkness, which contrasted superbly with the blue skies and white, tempered clouds to our left. We were playing a rendition of "Nearer My God to Thee", and I can honestly say that sometimes I feel closest to Heavenly Father when I am immersed in His creations. I have been exceptionally blessed with being able to see a lot more of 'Stralia than your average tourist, and I did the driving, not some trekky. Getting a good glimpse at that scene -storms and calm clashing in the most mild of ways- spelled out an interesting visual lesson that we've all been taught before: God is in control. "All flesh is in my hands; be still, and know that I am God. My ways are higher than your ways, even as my thoughts are higher than your thoughts." That's enough for me to get past all of the uncertainties that lie ahead.
I don't want this to turn into something that just drones on, though, so I think I should stop there on that subject. I am excited to see you all soon, but I'm trying not to get distracted by those thoughts. Something I learned from reading all those military books before I came out is that soldiers start making mistakes just before an operation finishes; they take it easy as their helicopters come in to pick them up, or they let their guard down when they see the armor roll in, and that's when they usually get killed. Relevant to missionary work, I can see the "chopper" coming in- it's up to me to be aware that the "fight" is almost over and I need to get ready for whatever comes next after I get on that chopper, but it is equally important for me to "keep my rifle down range and watch my sector" up until the last second, because if I don't, I might botz it hard.
There's my geek moment for the day, as well- some things don't change ;D
Love you heaps and hug you heaps!
[The following message arrived about three hours after the one above. It was titled, "MIRACLES!"]
Okay, sorry so this just happened and I needed to tell you! Phil and Lynny just called up and asked us what more they had to do to be baptized. I explained that we needed to teach them a few more things, and that because they were reading, praying, attending church, and committing to live gospel standards that they were qualified and would be qualified for baptism after their next lessons.