Wednesday, May 30, 2012

May 8, 2012

Querida familia,
I have my exit interview tomorrow with President Cook. That is all I wish to say on that unpleasant subject.
Another great week in the Lord's service. The Rancho Santa Margarita elders had a baptism on Saturday (the first baptism in that area in over a year!). We had a new investigator there and she loved it.
We translated for a funeral last Saturday for the Spanish-speaking relatives of a member of one of the English wards who had passed away. It was a lot of fun, but it got very difficult when one of the speakers pulled out a sheet titled "24 things to remember and 1 to never forget" -- basically, 25 clever phrases and idioms that don't translate well, at all. Hopefully the listeners got the idea.
We had two new people show up at Church unexpectedly on Sunday! One is a man who has been coming to our English classes pretty regularly. After sacrament meeting we set up an appointment for right after Church, and he is now officially an investigator. Same thing happened with a cousin of Dasy (recent convert from Guatemala)--her cousin is here for 6 months to work, and he showed up unexpectedly with them to Church and loved it, and after Church we set up an appointment for later that night. He understood everything really well (by pure luck, he was able to see a testimony meeting, a confirmation, and someone being ordained to the priesthood...not to mention the fact that this week's Gospel Principles lesson was about the Restoration!).
I really don't know what to make of my situation. When I entered the MTC I felt like I had an eternity ahead of me. The more I don't want to stop being a missionary, the faster it seems to go. I really have grown to like President Monson's talk "Finding Joy in the Journey":
"Day by day, minute by minute, second by second we went from where we were to where we are now. The lives of all of us, of course, go through similar alterations and changes. The difference between the changes in my life and the changes in yours is only in the details. Time never stands still; it must steadily march on, and with the marching come the changes.
"This is our one and only chance at [being a missionary]—here and now. The longer we [serve], the greater is our realization that it is brief. Opportunities come, and then they are gone. I believe that among the greatest lessons we are to learn in this short sojourn upon the earth are lessons that help us distinguish between what is important and what is not. I plead with you not to let those most important things pass you by as you plan for that illusive and nonexistent future when you will have time to do all that you want to do. Instead, find joy in the journey—now."

I especially have come to appreciate President Uchtdorf's words as well in "Your Potential, Your Privilege":

"During my career as an airline pilot, I had the opportunity to be a check and training captain. Part of this job was to train and test experienced pilots to ensure that they had the necessary knowledge and skills to safely and efficiently operate those magnificent big jets.

I found that there were pilots who, even after many years of flying professionally, never lost the thrill of climbing into the atmosphere, having “slipped the surly bonds of Earth and danced the skies on laughter-silvered wings.” They loved the sound of rushing air, the growling of the powerful engines, the feeling of being “one with the wind and one with the dark sky and the stars ahead.” Their enthusiasm was contagious.

There were also a few who seemed to be merely going through the motions. They had mastered the systems and the handling of the jets, but somewhere along the way they had lost the joy of flying “where never lark, or even eagle flew.” They had lost their sense of awe at a glowing sunrise, at the beauties of God’s creations as they crossed oceans and continents. If they met the official requirements, I certified them, but at the same time I felt sorry for them.

You may want to ask yourself if you are merely going through the motions as a priesthood bearer—doing what is expected but not experiencing the joy that should be yours. Holding the priesthood gives us abundant opportunities to feel the joy that Ammon expressed: “Have we not great reason to rejoice? … We have been instruments in [the Lord’s] hands of doing this great and marvelous work. Therefore, let us glory … in the Lord; yea, we will rejoice.”

Brethren, our religion is a joyful one! We are most blessed to bear the priesthood of God! In the book of Psalms we read, “Blessed is the people that know the joyful sound: they shall walk, O Lord, in the light of thy countenance." We can experience this greater joy if we but look for it.

Too often we fail to experience the bliss that comes from daily, practical priesthood service. At times assignments can feel like burdens. Brethren, let us not pass through life immersed in the three Ws: wearied, worrying, and whining. We live beneath our privileges when we allow worldly anchors to keep us away from the abundant joy that comes from faithful and dedicated priesthood service, especially within the walls of our own homes. We live beneath our privileges when we fail to partake of the feast of happiness, peace, and joy that God grants so bountifully to faithful priesthood servants.

Young men, if coming to church early to help prepare the sacrament feels more like a hardship than a blessing, then I invite you to think about what this sacred ordinance might mean to a ward member who perhaps has had a challenging week. Brethren, if your home teaching efforts don’t seem to be effective to you, I invite you to see with the eye of faith what a visit from a servant of the Lord will do for a family that has many unseen problems. When you grasp the divine potential of your priesthood service, the Spirit of God will fill your hearts and minds; it will shine in your eyes and faces.

As bearers of the priesthood, let us never become hardened to the wonder and awe of what the Lord has entrusted to us."

I know that there is a reason that the Lord doesn't let missionaries go on as long as they want. First of all, some of us might never go home! And there are other things that He needs for us to do. But even knowing that doesn't make it hurt any less to have it coming to a close.
There are always a few things that we hear as we go through life that really hit us and stick with us. Probably the one thing that I most remember about this past week was said as we were driving away from an appointment with Pablo, a 19-year-old in our ward who is leaving for his own mission in June. He comes out with us a lot and we have gotten to know him really well. I mentioned my frustration at the fact that I was about to hit my 15-month-mark and I felt like I had just hit my 14-month mark, and Pablo asked me, "Elder Gibbons, you really love your mission, don't you?" I looked back and said, "Yeah, I do." And he told me, "I can tell."
Next week I will send pictures. I look forward to seeing all of you again! If I sleep for 2 straight days when I come home it is because I am going to work Elder Chavez to the death this last week.
Talk to you on Sunday!
Elder Gibbons


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