Sunday, January 17, 2016

Learn to Be Grateful!

December 14, 2015

This week was another eventful one. We didn't teach as many lessons as we would have liked, but the work takes its turns and sometimes you just have to go with it. After all, we're not even in control of it. We do our part and the Lord takes care of the rest.

Since I've gotten here, I've really come to realize something. We all go through trials! Even if we think we're not going through some type of trial, we are. But that's nothing new. Just a small realization. What really amazes me is the way some of these people handle their trials. Here's a few examples...

B is less active member in his fifties. Come to find out he's from Murray, Utah where I was born! Small world haha. But his situation is very unique. Three years or so a ago he accidentally swallowed some Drain-o and it just destroyed his throat. So he had some surgery and they ended up removing his stomach. So now he can't swallow anything, has a feeding tube running through his intestines, and he has a tracheotomy for breathing purposes. And his digestive system continues to break down so he can only eat like two cans of Ensure a day. Needless to say, he's losing weight rapidly as he tries to stay alive. On top of that, his wife decided to divorce him after twenty-six years of marriage and is not making it easy for him. So his life is hanging on by a thread and the only hope he has is a surgery either in PA or in Utah. If the surgery doesn't work, he's done for. What amazes me about B is his attitude. He's in constant pain and barely has enough strength to lift himself out of a chair, but I never see him get down on himself. He knows that he's doing all he can and trusts in God to make things right. We go visit him once a week and he always attends us well and makes sure our needs are met. Wouldn't it be easy for B to just throw in the towel and give up? Couldn't he just be the most bitter man in the world? Well he's not. He fights and he continues to be grateful and positive. He's an example to me of how to withstand our trials. We have to look to the lighthouse of the Lord. We have to trust that things will be better, even though we can't even see that light at the end of the tunnel sometimes.

The next one is M. I'll save the details, but she had a very rough childhood. Her parents were in some corrupt cult and they traveled all over the world evangelizing. Well, she got abused and mistreated in the process and so she's naturally a little bitter toward her parents, particularly toward her mother. She struggles to forgive, but she doesn't let that get in the way of her relationships with others. She's looking to get married to a nice guy (who is in jail for some things) and she has two adorable daughters from her last marriage. We helped her change a flat tire on Sunday during church and she wasn't negative at all. She took care of her daughters and focused on being positive. Every time we do something nice for her, we get a text of gratitude a few hours later. Because of our love, she is now active in the church again and her fiance has agreed to come to church with her when he gets out of prison. Things are difficult, but she holds on to what she knows to be true and the people that show her love. She's an example to me.

The next one is our investigator A. He has a baptismal date for the twenty-third of January and is progressing nicely toward that date. So here's his current situation. We were eating dinner with some members and another youth member, A's friend F, called us four times, so we went ahead and answer it. Turns out something had happened to A and that F needed us to take him over there to see what happened. So we wrapped up dinner and quickly got over there. When we got there, A's mom and sisters were outside and A and his dad were on the clear other side of the yard. We went and talked to A and he told us what had happened. He and his mom got in an argument and she tried physically attacking him. He grabbed her to defend himself and then she kicked him out of the house, threatening to call the police if he and his dad wouldn't leave the property. So A got out of that abusive situation and was just looking for a place for him and has dad to stay for the night. So we spent three hours with them last night trying to arrange things and we finally were able to this morning. A and his dad slept in their van last night, but a member from the ward has graciously offered to house them tonight. What blows me away about A is his attitude. He could be angry and bitter about the situation, but he's not. He has an abusive mother and a less than ideal home life, but he continues to hold on to the strong relationships he has with us and with his friends. We were laughing and joking last night and he didn't show an ounce of anger toward the situation.

These people are examples to me! They're circumstances aren't ideal, but they acknowledge the blessings they have and our Heavenly Father who loves and takes care of them. I learned this week that we can't mope around because of our trials. There will always be someone who is going through a harder time than we are. It's our job to recognize our own blessings and be of support to those who stand in need of our help and love. And after we overcome our trials, we're able to empathize with those who may be going through similar situations. It's just a big cycle and if we do it right, we'll be happy and blessed in the end!

I know that this Gospel is true. People try to argue with me about the truthfulness of our message and the controversies in the church's past and present, but I continue to hold on to what I know to be true and the experiences I've had. I'm grateful for what I'm learning as a missionary and I wouldn't trade these experiences for the world.

Go out there and spread some Christmas spirit. Make somebody's day. Lift someone up. Be an example. Go get em.

-Elder Landon Carroll

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