Saturday, October 10, 2009

Adversity is the diamond dust heaven polishes its jewels with.

We thought we might do something a little different and share with you a couple of things we have learned in conferences recently, both missionary zone conference and General Conference. These are thoughts about adversity and how we deal with it.

During the Saturday morning session of General Conference, Elder Clayton of the Seventy spoke about what he called 'burdens'.

He quoted a familiar scripture in which Heavenly Father told Adam that he and Eve must leave the Garden of Eden and that the ‘ . . . ground will be cursed for thy sake.' There are two ways to look at that scripture. One is that the ground was cursed as a result of the choices Adam and Eve made. But the second (and both are likely correct) is that the ground was cursed for the benefit of man.

Work is a principal of the Gospel. It is good for us to work and labor, for by so doing, we learn and grow and become stronger. Those who do not work, are generally not the stronger members of our society.

Just the same, much of what we experience here, can be difficult. But our struggles (those things we often refer to as adversity) can become easier if we approach them correctly. Our burdens will not often be removed but they can be made lighter - or, at least our capacity to bear them can increase. That’s what happened to Alma and those who fled from wicked King Noah while they were temporarily burdened with captivity and were heavily taxed. The heavy burden remained but their capacity to bear it increased.

It is interesting how people face difficulties differently. A particular circumstance may seem to be a huge obstacle or even a downfall to one, but seems to make another stronger, ultimately lifting them higher.

I became a poetry enthusiast during my first full time mission as a young man and seemed to come across many poems and short stories which became special to me as they conveyed a strong message and from which I learned much. I still remember one which became a favorite:

“One ship drives east, another drives west
with the selfsame winds that blow.
‘Tis the set of the sail and not the gale,
Which tells it the way to go.

“Like the winds of the sea are the trials we face
as we journey along through life.
‘Tis the set of the soul that determines the goal,
And not the calm nor the strife.”

Often, we do not understand why things happen. Sometimes, even when we are trying to do something good, something goes awry and we become discouraged. There is a sign hanging in our office in the mission home. It is a quote from President Hinckley and has come to mean much to us as we, too, face our share of challenges. It reads: “Keep trying. Be believing. Be happy. Don’t get discouraged. Things will work out.” We have been slowly learning that he is right. Things really do work out, if we are patient and trust in the Lord.

There is a story told of a man who became shipwrecked and lived alone for sometime on a deserted island. It was a struggle just to survive, but he managed to build a hut and did his best. One day, he had a small accident and his hut burned to the ground. Deep in despair, he complained to Heavenly Father, “How could you let this happen! It is so hard here!”

A ship suddenly appeared on the horizon and pulled close to the island. Rescued at last, he asked the captain how they knew he was on the island. “We saw your smoke signal,” he responded.

It seems to be easy for us to become discouraged when things don’t go as we think that they ought to or as we had planned. But sometimes, the Lord knows things we do not. It has been said that trouble has no necessary connection with discouragement. Discouragement is a seed all its own. Don’t let that seed grow!

A shipment of shoes was once delivered to an island. One of those who would process the shipment said, “No one here wears shoes! Send these back!”

However, another said, “Hey, no one here has any shoes! Send more!”

It’s often in how we look at it.

When Joseph Smith was in the Liberty Jail, he became concerned and even somewhat discouraged. He petitioned the Lord and received this answer. “My son, peace be unto thy soul. Thine adversity and thy afflictions shall be but a small moment. And then, if thou endure it well, God will exalt the on high.”

And then He added a note of more immediate encouragement.

“Thy friends do stand by thee . . .”

Marcia Geilmann, sister to Sister Caldwell, wrote us a little card a while ago. She noted that the adversary would, indeed, do all he could to interfere with this work. But then she asked us to remember that she prayed for us everyday. Then she reminded us that all of our children and grandchildren pray for us. She also pointed out that we have many friends and extended family who add their prays, as well. And she also noted that prayers are offered several times every day in all of the temples world wide, in behalf of the missionaries.

No wonder we are succeeding! Thanks!

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Zaisan - Part 2

Thought we'd better try to continue our post about the Zaisan monument (see September 24th post).

Once you manage to climb the 650 or so stairs to get to the top of the hill, you find the main part of this memorial. It is rather well done and interesting to look at. It is, obviously, a circle with the inside of the circle containing the mural, part of which we are showing here. The mural is actually a mosaic of tile pieces, with different colors of tile used to form the actual images.

It seems to be a popular place and we saw a steady stream of people visiting here.

As mentioned before, this was built by the Soviets to commemorate the battles and victories the two countries fought during World War II. It is also here on top of the hill that Elder Maxwell dedicated this land for missionary work (see a copy of the dedicatory prayer in September 26th post). That prayer contains many promises which we are seeing come to pass even while we are here. Many think Mongolia will likely be the staging ground from where the Gospel can really be taken to other Asian lands which still remain closed to the Church.

And the view from up here is pretty spectacular, too! This is the view of the city from up top -- Ulaanbaatar (don't bother trying to pronounce it!), the capital city where we live and serve.