Wednesday, September 25, 2013

An Empty Bag Is A Good Day

My week organized itself into a few themes.

1. The attributes we act to require are found following the powerful principles of God's gospel. 

In God's "GPS gospel," he gives us the coordinates, and we have to follow them to find the geocache, which is replete with attributes we all desire to acquire. I really miss geocaching, by the way--what a fantastic way to spend one's time. 

My brothers will appreciate the references to a few "good ole days" memories to try to explain what I've learned about this topic.

In Tony Hawk Pro Skater, as you progress through the game, you learn tricks, tips, moves and principles. One of your objectives is to find "hidden skate tapes." These tapes are usually hidden in hard to reach places and almost always require the use of some cool maneuver. If you use the tricks, tips, and principles that you have learned, your intuition will guide you to those tapes. 

In Midnight Club, a street racing game for PS2, you are assigned certain races depending on your distance in the game's story. Many of these races are optional, but there are always races you must race to progress, and those are normally the hardest ones. As you do the assigned races, using tips you have learned, you gain credit to tune your car's attributes. 

Tapes, car tuning, and geocaches. These three memories and this week's events somehow helped me understand the way in which God leads us to develop Christ like attributes. If we simply follow the guidelines given, which are the principles of the gospel, we will eventually, no matter how far off we were at the beginning, find ourselves in the service of others, doing what Christ did and would do. 

One more direct example is can be drawn from Family History Work. We are counseled to search out our family's history and go to the temple to perform ordinances and covenants for those who have passed away. Sometimes I have wondered why, if during the millennium things will be so much more efficient and error-free, so much emphasis is put on family history. Just as daily scripture reading and daily prayers lead us to develop Christ like attributes, so does researching our family history and going to the temple. In the same way that duties at home are divided between family members to help them learn, God's work (which he could very well do himself in an instant) is administrated among us, so that we can learn and acquire attributes that He has. 

2. Going back to what we know

Music is a language, so during our language study time, I've been teaching Elder Santos, my companion, to play piano. It's been great to learn how to teach better and to observe how people approach the piano. It's been so long since I was introduced to the piano, that I had forgotten some basic things and how to teach them. (one of them is how to teach fingering and build hand strength). I also observed many beginners want to learn fast, and want to practice fast, and want to play an entire song fast. After learning the first line of a certain song, E. Santos started with the second line, but every time that he made a little mistake, he started at the beginning again to be able to hear what he already learned linked with what he was trying to learn next. Instead of starting on the second line and going straight to the problem, he started at the beginning every time. He was very anxious, as all beginners are in any learning effort, to go back to what he knew. 

I learned that there are, in my mind, different kinds of "Going back to what we know." There's a good side and a bad side. Elder Holland talked about the good side in his talk entitled "Lord, I Believe" (

He said "In this Church, what we know will always trump what we do not know."

During the times of trouble, when we feel like we are lost or confused, it is comforting and appropriate to go back to what we know. Many times we need reassurance to be able to continue on. Neal A Maxwell explained that we should take advantage of these secure moments in which we on flat ground that we know well.

"The flat periods of life give us a chance to reflect on what is past and to be readied for stirring climbs ahead. Instead of grumbling and murmuring we should be consolidating and reflecting."

We cannot always live on the confusing side of things. If we do, we run the risk of being led into broad roads (1 Nephi 12:17).

On the other hand, some unknown roads can be healthy for our progress, if we endure them well. The Savior took an unknown road as he took all of our sins upon himself as part of his infinite atonement. His perseverance made our eternal progress possible. Lehi and his family took an unknown road as they traveled in the wilderness being led to a land they did not know. The were led to the promised land The Jaredites took an unknown path, putting their barges in the water, trusting they would be led to safety, and were. Every day we take unknown roads as we leaps in faith, acting in Christ like conduct in the risk of derision. Our trials are traveled on unknown roads that have no shortcuts. If we don't take those roads, we can't progress.

3. Memories, like talents, are to be shared

I have tried to apply the parables of the talents to memories, and it's been helpful on many occasions. The parable teaches us to invest in our talents and to use them. If we invest our memories in the lives of others by sharing them, memories can be multiplied as well. 

For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also. (Matt. 6:21)

In my mind, I have switched two words to give this verse another meaning.

For where your heart is, there will your memories be also.

If we put our heart in something, we will reap memories. 

It's a little bit jumbly to try to talk about how the people we visited this week taught me these lessons, but an overview of what's going on is here:

Luziene got married at her church, but not legally, so we have to wait for her to get married or separated. Her husband doesn't want to get married. She is going to church every Sunday though. We still haven't gotten in contact with Romilda, but one of our investigators, Vanessa, is progressing a lot and will probably get baptized soon. Her teacher at school gives her are hard time about receiving the missionary lessons and going to church, but it doesn't bother her much. We had a cool experience finding new people to teach. We were looking for an old investigator named Lucicleide. A super rare name. We started asked around for her. Someone told us that she new a Lacicleide that moved her a little while ago. We found her house and it turns out that it's not the person we were looking for, but she has basically the same name. She had never talked to missionaries before. It was crazy. She enjoyed the 1st lesson. 

Elder Young

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

In Palmas for a zone conference

I'm sorry to say that today I won't have much time again. We're in Palmas for another zone meeting and we are all using the same lan house, so we have to be quick. 

To answer a few of mom's Q's:

This week went well. Luziene (Loo-zee-ay-nee) has a goal set to get baptized this Sunday. Yesterday in church we asked her when we could teach her again this week. She said "I want to be prepared. 5:30 everyday until Sunday." She is very determined. We're excited to have a firm appointment set every day and to see her progress. We haven't gotten to talk to Romilda again. She hasn't answered her phone. We passed by her house and happened to see her relatives there. They said she's having a hard time but would benefit from a visit. We are going back this week. Hopefully we find her at home. Antonio has been reading but he doesn't want to commit to anything. He said some day he'll visit the church. Yes, I got the ping pong game. I don't really have time to use it though. People enjoy playing it at zone activities. Yes, I got the pants. Can you send me some new shirts from mission mall?

It's so great to hear from Brandyn. I didn't even need to see the email address to know who it was from. No one uses exclamation points as frequently as Brandyn. Thanks for your shared excitement! Haha.

I apoligize for my brevity! Next week I'll include more.

Elder Young

Monday, September 9, 2013

Staying in Porto Nacional!

Hey family,

I'm staying in Porto Nacional! My exclamation is positive, because I want to stay here. Elder Santos is my new companion. And no, he hasn't already been my companion. And yes, it's just us here. Many people have this last name in Brazil. He's excellent. He's always in a good mood and we get a long very well. This week was very successful. We found a ton of new people to teach. We don't have control over whether they will progress or not, but at least we're finding people that are curious enough to hear the message of the Restoration. 

Our priority right now is Luziene, a member's friend, who is loving the Book of Mormon and has gone to church 2 times. She participates in the classes at church and has already gone to a family night in the ward. We will hopefully teach her the restoration tomorrow. 

Romilda is traveling this week so we haven't been able to teach her again.

This week we had many days in which we didn't know where we were going but found many great people. I have gained a much better sense over the last few months of how to know what to do when you don't know what to do. Following this new understanding of inspired thoughts, we found a man, Antonio. We taught him the restoration and he agreed to be baptized this month when he receives an answer that the church is true. We went back yesterday to see how the reading of the Book of Mormon went/was going. He told us that he wants some time to read it. We explained again the importance of pondering and praying about what he reads. He didn't seem as excited as he was the first time, but at least we have invited him and explained what he needs to do to get an answer. I remembered just now that he mentioned to us that he had a dream the night before we came of some discussion about religion on his front porch. He said he knew it would happen but didn't know it would be us. Pretty cool.

As we have found success in finding many people, I have become almost too conscious of how often we are going to find people who don't want to go after our invite to learn more. Logically, it makes sense that as we find more people, we're going to run into this sort of thing more often. But also, it means that are chances of finding more gems (which are people prepared to hear us) increases. It's a nice little gospel math lesson. When more is given, more is required. When more opportunity for teaching is given, more effort and sacrifice is required. There is no easy way out. I'm grateful for having learned this lesson.

I'm glad my companion is funny. His first day here, we found a garage remote control on the ground in front of a house. No one was home so we determined to come back another day. As we walk around the city, he clicks the little remote control to see if it will open any of the garage doors around us. We joke that whatever door opens is clearly a door that we should enter.

Yesterday I was asked to give a talk in sacrament meeting. My subject was huge--Jesus Christ. In part of my talk I talked about attributes of Christ that we can all acquire by observing examples of people around us. The Light of Christ shows us all what is good and what is bad. It is this influence that teaches us through our experiences. As I studied to prepare the talk, I thought about my brothers and parents and how each of them emanate an attribute of Christ. It enjoyed being able to use examples from my family to describe the attributes of Christ, such as humility, knowledge, diligence, charity and love. I'm glad that you have all shared parts of your lives with me so that I could share parts of your lives with others to teach about Jesus Christ.

I'm looking forward to hearing from Brandyn soon! 
Have a good week!

Elder Young

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Elder E. Santos is Elder Young's new companion

So I'm in Aureny right now, close to Palmas. I'm stayed here last night and I will stay here until tomorrow. I found out this morning that my new companion will be Elder E. Santos. I'll meet him tomorrow and then go back to Porto Nacional.

We haven't been able to visit Romilda again. We're going to visit her the first chance we get this week. Her niece, who lives in Palmas told me that the last time she talked to her (Romilda) she seemed a lot better than she was the week before. 

I'm super excited for Brandyn. He's lucky that his last meal will be In and Out. 

I've gotta go,
Elder Young