Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Bryce's Medley of Hymns

Warmest greetings, dear family,

From this past Friday until this Wednesday, people here celebrate Carnaval, which is basically an excuse to go crazy and do whatever you want. Needless to say, it can get dangerous sometimes. Thus, missionaries are advised to be home earlier than normal. Since Friday we've spent more time at home than normal. It can drive you crazy if you don't find something to do. Most of my time has been spent studying lately. BUT IT'S AWESOME! I was looking at hymns in my nifty difty (notebook) little hymn book that you guys sent me and happened upon a neat sequence of hymns that, together, create a cool medley of lyrics.

Dear to the heart of the Shepherd,
Dear are the "ninety and nine"; 
Dear are the sheep that have wandered 
Out in the desert to pine. 
Hark! he is earnestly calling, 
Tenderly pleading today: 
"Will you not seek for my lost ones, 
Off from my shelter astray?"

Make us thy true under-shepherds;
Give us a love that is deep.
Send us out into the desert,
Seeking thy wandering sheep.
(221 - Dear to the heart of the shepherd.)

O Savior, if thou wilt be my guide,
Tho dark and rugged the way,
My voice shall echo the message sweet:
I'll say what you want me to say.

I'll go where you want me to go, dear Lord,
Over mountain or plain or sea;
I'll say what you want me to say, dear Lord;
I'll be what you want me to be.
(270 - I'll Go Where You Want Me to Go)

Does the journey seem long,
The path rugged and steep?
Are there briars and thorns on the way?
Do sharp stones cut your feet
As you struggle to rise
To the heights thru the heat of the day?

Let your heart be not faint
Now the journey's begun;
There is One who still beckons to you.
So look upward in joy
And take hold of his hand;
He will lead you to heights that are new
(127 Does the Journey Seem Long?)

I like thinking about all these three hymns in the same context because together, they display the journey of a follower of Christ seeking to bring lost ones "back to the fold". The first part invites us to seek for the lost ones. What follows is a petition for strength, courage, guidance, and a conviction of the seeker. The last song "Does the Journey Seem Long?" conveys how the journey of the seeker of the lost ones really is. Then the last verse of that song offers comfort and hope. I like that the hope and comfort is at the end, following two verses (not mentioned here) that describe the roughness of the way. We have to act first and have to experience hard things to be able to appreciate the joy in the end. When seeking someone who is lost, you lose yourself in service and don't realize the length of the journey you've been on until it's ending (while a even newer journey is beginning). The very last verse is cool because it applies to the lost sheep being helped by the seeker of lost sheep, but it also applies to the seeker being lifted up by the Lord.

I've been thinking lately on what it means to treasure up in your minds continually the words of life (DC 84:85) If you treasure something, you know exactly what it is and where it is and you take care of it. I like to think that treasuring up the words of life, or the scriptures, involves thinking about them often, memorizing them, and applying them. It's easy to do this with hymns because they have melody, so that's where all this hymn craziness comes from. It was cool to see how as I started to keep more scriptures in my mind, I was able to use them effectively in my teaching. One person we were teaching had an excuse to go to church the first time we invited her, but within 30 minutes she had a strong conviction to go. It was because of one scripture. Romans 10:17. She was wanting to develop more faith and realized that she needed to hear the word of God to do so, so she became determined to go to church. I believe that whatever righteous effort we engage ourselves in will be builded upon by the opportunities God will place before us. If I am determined to memorize scriptures to teach better, He will place perfect opportunities to use those scriptures before me. I just have to prepare and set goals and then present my plan to Him in prayer. I like what Grandpa Royce said in his journal. "Prepare your prayers, and they will prepare you."

Mom, I hope you had a good birthday. I hope you are having time every now and then to rest from all you do for everyone around you. I never knew being away just for 9 months would teach me all it has about how amazing you are as a mom. All the dishes and clothes you washed for me without saying anything, all the grand feasts of food you brought up to my room while I was studying, all the notes you layed out for me, the encouragement you gave me, and all the trust, I hope I can pay back in portion by being the person you want me to be and by teaching the gospel you taught us at home to people who don't yet know it. I love you!

I'm doing great, so don't worry about me. Have a great week everyone!
Here are some other parts of letters he sent to his family members I thought I would include

Recently I studied the account of Nephi's experience with the spirit in 1 Nephi 11 and the succeeding chapters with a deeper intent to study. It reveals a lot about how the spirit teaches. I really enjoy analyzing how the spirit teaches because it's the best way to teach. There's an identifiable pattern in how he teaches. He shows, he doesn't tell. He invites, he doesn't obligate. And he explains and doesn't over speak. He is simply the guide. And his role isn't to catch your attention, it is to teach you when you choose to pay attention.

Our zone leaders challenged us to memorize 15 scriptures over 5 days. There is a holiday here that goes on for about 5 days and we are encouraged to go home at 6pm, so we have a lot of extra time. I decided to do it and I'm really enjoying the added perspective/understanding you receive upon memorizing scriptures. I like to think of memorizing scriptures as a way to treasure up the words of life. If you treasure something up, you know exactly what it is and where it is. Treasuring the scriptures involves knowing them in and out, in my mind. There's always a temptation to memorize scriptures in English instead of Portuguese, because I'll use the English ones the rest of my life. But I know that if I forget about my own wants and memorize scriptures in Portuguese so I can help investigators, the Lord will bless me with more capacity to memorize whatever I want to after my mission. Little covenants like this that you make with the Lord are really neat. Because I have no doubt that if I focus on memorizing in Portuguese, even though sometimes English is more appealing, God will make it easier to memorize the same scriptures in English and my ability to memorize will improve. I'll be blessed more than I realize.

Elder Young

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