January 1, 2018Hey y'all!
On Tuesday I had my first District Meeting as District Leader here in Memphis. I was a little nervous going into it for two reasons, one because I had never conducted a District Meeting in Spanish before, and two because I was supposed to instruct on making plans, something that I personally struggle with because it's been hard for me to know exactly how to plan effectively.
We as a mission no longer use chapter 8 of Preach My Gospel, instead we have a document called How Do I Fulfill My Purpose? It really simplifies the planning process, basically there are five steps:
Pray for inspiration of the Holy Ghost
Pray again for confirmation of the Holy Ghost
So my job was to teach about step number four. When Elder Robbins visited, he said something pretty profound:
Imagine that you are stranded out in the middle of the ocean, in a small rowboat with two paddles.
Elder Robbins said that this represents our vision, we have to have a why, we have to have an island that we can see, something that we can work towards. The goal is the what. The plan is the how. And the vision is the why. Then he taught about Heavenly Father's vision, goal, and plan.
His goal is outlined in a scripture with which most of y'all are familiar: Moses 1:39 "For behold, this is my work and my glory--to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man." What is His plan as to how to accomplish this goal? The Plan of Salvation. What is his vision? His perfect love for us.
What? The eternal life of man. How? Through the Great Plan of Happiness. Why? Because he loves us.
So I based my instruction off of this principle, of how plans are a means, or specific actions we will take to accomplish our goal. I said that Christ-like Charity should always be our vision. My instruction turned out alright I think. I'm nervous for tomorrow because the Zone Leaders sent out the material I'm supposed to instruct on Saturday night, so I haven't had any time to prepare so far. I really dislike having to throw District Meeting together the morning of, but it seems that's what always ends up happening. It's all good, my procrastination skills I learned from high school have prepared me to be able throw something decent together last minute and still have it turn out alright.
So this week I got another flat tire on my bike. It made me reflect on how when I was serving with Elder Merrill, I popped three brand new tubes while trying to change the tube. I then remembered that Dad had written three pages of notes with tips on tuning up the bike. Until over a year into the mission, I had never bothered to read any of it. It turned out that Dad wrote some very helpful advice about removed and putting on tubes that have saved me from wasting three brand new ones. I likened this experience to the scriptures. We have been given the greatest instruction manual of all time, written specifically for our day and the unique circumstances and struggles of the world in which we live. We have been so blessed that this instruction manual is literally at our finger tips, and the best teachers are constantly explaining what it says and how it applies to our lives. We have the agency to ignore it and face the consequences of ignorance, or we can be blessed with a flood of newfound understanding and purpose.
|In his new Christmas "jammies"|
“‘He made me mad.’ This is another phrase we hear, also implying lack of control or agency. This is a myth that must be debunked. No one makes us mad. Others don’t make us angry. There is no force involved. Becoming angry is a conscious choice, a decision; therefore, we can make the choice not to become angry. We choose!" This is absolutely true. There have been a few times with Elder Diaz where he might do something that might be considered obnoxious, and I find myself almost automatically reacting with anger. As I do so, I find myself asking "why am I allowing myself to get angry right now?" I think it's just second nature to get upset at every little thing that we don't understand why people do them. If we take the time to try and understand where people are coming from, and understand that our circumstances do not determine our reactions, nothing can upset us.
Anyways I learned at midnight this morning that people in Memphis celebrate the New Year by firing shots into the air. This city is crazy haha.
Anyways I'm out of time! Right now our investigator Jose Calderon is progressing nicely, he loves the Book of Mormon, so keep him in your prayers please! Other than that the rest of the people we are working with have started being difficult to contact, which is tough because I love them so much and want them to know the joy of the Gospel, but all should be according to their agency and the will of the Father.
I love all y'all, have a wonderful week!
Elder Jonathan Spencer Smalley
Arkansas Little Rock Mission