Hello Hello! I apologize for not writing last week. It was transfer day, which always turns out to be much more hectic than I either anticipate, or that I would like it to be. I was not transferred, but my companion was so once again I got a new compatriot (not literally, but spiritually-our country is the Church of Jesus Christ). For those of you who have either lost count, or haven’t felt the need to keep a tally, this will be my fourth companion in four transfers. So far I don’t seem to have staying power. Perhaps there is something someone isn’t telling me... regardless, we have lots of fun.
In addition to my companion leaving me, both of the elders in my area were replaced too. Hence, I was left the lone soul who was to help all the new transfers find their way around our little part of Jeju. Frankly I wanted to cry a little bit. I could feel little tears start to well up but I took a deep breath and tried to remember that I wasn’t really alone. However, I felt like I was not prepared to be the only person with all the information about the area. I did not know nearly enough. In hindsight I should have paid attention more to some details that will not escape me again. Surprisingly, I found myself acting and speaking like I knew exactly what I was talking about. Now I am not saying that the past week ran the smoothest, but it wasn't a complete train wreck. I was able to traverse our way to most of the places that we needed to go (though sometimes we took the scenic route, but I made it seem like they were getting the extended tour), and we always made it home at days end. This is a new me. I use to believe that as far as navigating goes that I would always be the co-pilot, as I am directionally challenged, but no more.
About a week and a half ago we were lucky enough to have Elder Scott D. Whiting come and speak to all the missionaries in Busan. There was something he said that I remembered as I was reflecting on my new found ability. The general idea of what he spoke about was to be careful about thinking you can't change. Just like we can muster the ability to find our way through unfamiliar places, we can also summon the ability to climb out of life’s pits that we find we have fallen or jumped in. To say that we can’t change is like saying that the sacrifice Jesus made for us was not adequate.
I had never thought about it that way before. So many times when I find myself facing a challenge that requires me to make changes in my thinking or my actions I use the excuse that “I can’t change-this is how I am-this is how I have always been-this is how I was born-I do not have the potential to change-and so it is hopeless to even try”. As I thought about this idea I came across Isaiah chapter 53. It is a beautiful chapter that describes how each of us “like sheep have gone astray: we have everyone, turned to his own way”. It explains how Christ, being both the son of God and the son of man knows what we are capable of and in spite of our refusal to change our errant behavior, He “hath laid on him the iniquity of us all”. Nonetheless, “…he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities…and with his stripes we are healed”. When I read this it moves me in a way that I feel guilty, but these feeling are not bad, rather, they encourage me to grow. I see that when I say that I cannot change because it is too hard, or insist that I am not capable of change, then I have shown disdain for His silent and willing sacrifice. The entire message of the atonement is that we can change. Otherwise, Christ’s sacrifice would not have a purpose, and since the atonement is infinite it must mean that we can always change. Although this doctrine is relevant to sin, we can also apply the principles to any aspect of our life that we recognize needs modifying or revising. No matter what it is about our character, habits or traits that we want to improve, we are divinely instilled with the capability to change. We have been so endowed in order to create more distance from our “natural” self, and reach closer to our “divine” self. Really, when you think about it the whole purpose of our being here is to change. We should constantly be trying to change. That doesn't mean that we will never have set backs. But it is comforting to know that it is our nature to change, and that we can do it. It is through the Atonement of Jesus Christ that we can accomplish this. We should never tell ourselves that we are stuck the way we are. That goes against everything we have learned about our Heavenly Father's plan for us. He wants us to progress and improve and has provided the way for us to do so, and our Savior has given Himself to fulfill His Father’s plan.
Since I began serving my mission I am often overwhelmed by the insuppressible desire to shout that I know our Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ live and they love us more than we could ever comprehend. There is nothing in this life that we cannot overcome if we turn to them and let them lift us up and guide us through the process.
I love you all and hope you are happy and well.