Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Putting God first will always bring joy and clarity to your life.

September 12, 2016 

Hey Mom thanks for the letter.  I appreciate you filling me in on all the things happening at home and all of the changes. Our mission is also having a lot of changes.  Things are really different here now. 
We found a piano to play on pday

We used to have 26 zone leaders, as of tonight now we only 14. There used to be 13 zones, now there will only be 7.  We used to have 12-16 people in each zone, now there will be 25+ missionaries in each zone.   They are combining a lot of zones, and creating more districts.  Elder Matos just got called to be the secretary in the office.  So he will be moving to Barranquilla.  And I will stay here as the zone leader in Valledupar.  My zone is now going to get a lot bigger.  We are now going to have 26 missionaries and some new areas added into the zone.  They combined our zone with the Guadeda zone sp?, a zone that is out in the red-neck land.  Now we are all going to be one big huge zone. And my new companion is Elder Compos.  He’s pretty cool.  I’m really excited to work with him. 

The changes are pretty crazy, and so many new things are happening. Lots of changes. 

Today we spent all day long, on our pday, trying to fix up this house for a new area that is being opened in our zone-lo parena.  It’s a very large area now, and they are dividing it in two.  So we had to find the house, get the contract, buy everything for the house, and today we had to move everything in.  We did the entire thing all by ourselves.  We got them a fridge, a stove, set up their beds, we even made their beds, and got everything ready.  We had to put together desks and fix all the water filters and stuff like that.  It was pretty exciting. We’re still not all the way finished yet, but there have been lots of good stuff to do.  Elder Matos is really excited, and partly nervous about going to the office. 
Buying furniture for the new apartment
Working hard setting up the new furniture

Celebrating our good work!
 After reading your letter, I’ve been thinking about a lot of stuff.  I’m still mostly weirded out to hear that my cousin Courtney is getting married.  I don’t even know who this guy is.  But she’s always been a pain, so it will pretty much be the same, only now it’s her real name. : ) Haha—Courtney Payne.  That’s hilarious. 

I’ve been thinking a lot about what I want to do after my mission.  But I’m so glad I am here, and am able to see what it more important in life.  This experience has really changed my perspective on what matters most. I have learned a lot about priorities.  Well, priorities and excuses.  There is a big difference between these two things.  We all seem to make a priority list of things in our lives. And usually when you ask people what their priority list has on it, they will say: God, Family, work, school, etc.  But Shakespeare said, “Those that don’t show their love, don’t love.”  And the scripture: “Faith without works is dead.” Everything that you really believe is actually shown by your actions.  
So you can SAY what you want, but if your actions don’t actually show it, then it’s all just a lie. I have found as a missionary, that doing what you say you’ll do is so important.  

When we give readying assignments or any type of homework to the people we teach, there is a big difference between what people make their most important priority.  There is always time, we all have the same amount of time in a day.  But it’s always about how you want to spend that time.  And that is determined by what you really think is your first priority.  If you think your first priority is to do the things that God tells you to, then you’ll do it.  If your first priority is ANYTHING else, then you’ll do that.  A reason is when we don’t do something because we had to do something that was actually more important.  An excuse is when we make up a reason, and there is no truth behind it, or it is not a valid reason.  Excuses are just another way of saying, we messed up and put something dumb in front of what we really knew was more important. We have to be mindful of what we are doing and why—priorities, reasons, excuses. 
This is a picture of Elder Burk, Harold Ayala, and Elder Matos
Here we are with Gonzalo in his taxi. He's pretty awesome!
 This week we did divisions with Melvin Lance.  We were teaching in a lesson and he said something that really hit me.  He’s an artist and I was asking him how he started, and what made him want to be a an artist.  I told him what I thought about music. And he said, that I should probably go forward with music if that is what I really want to do. But as he was talking in the lesson he said a phrase that really got me.  He asked, “We’re all good at something.  We all have different skills and talents, and abilities.  Whether it’s to play music, or sports, climb mountains, be a doctor, or whatever it is. But we need to ask ourselves: “Am I better at music than I am as a Priesthood holder?  Am I a better doctor than I am a Priesthood holder?  Am I better mountain climber than I am a Priesthood holder?”  If we every say YES to these questions, then we are FAILING.  We are definitely doing something terribly wrong, and our priorities are MESSED UP.

We should look to make our talents and abilities better, and we should always be improving the talents God gives us. But these talents should never be better than our talent to be a worthy, solid priesthood holder.  Wow.  This is incredible stuff!!  If you find that you have become better at some worldly form of talent, more than what God has wanted you to become, then be humble enough to accept that your priorities are messed up.  Stop right now and and figure it out. This is when, as a missionary, we have to invite people to repent, and try again.  It’s a lifetime principle to always do what we can to be a better priesthood holder and follow God first, before anything else. 

The best way to do this is by doing the little daily things that help connect us to our Heavenly Father—like reading our scriptures, saying our personal and family prayers, helping your spouse, and family.  Putting God first will always bring joy and clarity to your life.  Putting anything else first will only lead to an empty life with a sad dead end.

Thankfully, because of our Savior, we can all repent, and try again…over and over in this wonderful game of life.  I promise that God will help you!  And your life will change for good. 

This is my wish for everyone. 

This was our last district meeting before all of the big changes. 
Big Breakfast with Elder Burk
This is a picture that Harold drew for Elder Crapos

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