(A little explanation for you dear readers: Ian refers to himself as a little sweaty kid in Primary. When he was around 3 - 6 years old he always looked like he had been under a hose when I went to pick him up from preschool or school or playing -- such a sweaty kid. I think he outgrew it. Also, in a separate email to me he described always being tired, which is common among hard-working missionaries, but I'm sure he would appreciate your prayers. And just a personal note, I opened and read this email while waiting for my car to be serviced. With no Kleenex. Live and learn.)
Forgive me for the short letters that I have been sending home, folks. I think it has been because my Portuguese has been improving and it is kinda difficult to find the words I really want in English.
Watching it in Português was a different experience. But I still felt the same spirit that I always feel when I hear the voice of the prophet.
If there was one point that hit me the hardest during general conference, it was when President Thomas S. Monson, the prophet of the Lord, began to speak of his dear wife who passed away just a few weeks short of six months ago. I watched it all in Portuguese so the translation is a little rough but he explained: that the phrase "missing her" doesn't even begin to describe the feelings that enter his heart when he ponders of all of the wonderful times and adventures that he had with her. Her life was well-lived and centered in Christ. He knows where she is, waiting for him in the spirit world to greet her again, but even then the pains of missing someone dear to your heart strike the prophet of the Lord just like they would strike any man. He has a perfect knowledge of the Lord and the authority to speak for him. As he spoke of the loss of his dear Francis, he went on to describe the adversities that each one of us will encounter. This poem was just too perfect for a missionary who was missing his dad, too,
The tree that never had to fight
For sun and sky and air and light,
But stood out in the open plain
And always got its share of rain,
Never became a forest king
But lived and died a scrubby thing.
The man who never had to toil to live,
Who never had to win his share
Of sun and sky and light and air,
Never became a manly man
But lived and died as he began.
“Good timber does not grow at ease,
The stronger wind, the stronger trees.
The further sky, the greater length,
The more the storm, the more the strength.
By sun and cold, in rain and snow,
in trees and men good timbers grow.
Where thickest lies the forest growth
We find the patriarchs of both.
And they hold council with the stars
Whose broken branches show the scars
Of many winds and much of strife.
This is the common law of life.”
Poems make me think of my dad. Especially The Road Less Traveled by Robert Frost. He loved poems so much that he made me memorize that one while we were in line for a Disney ride. That's my dad. :)
Whether we receive the hardest blows to the soul or the slightest paper cut, every trial from the smallest to the biggest will make us better than we were before. From mistakes to conflicts that we can't control. Because Good Timbers grow within these. The more the wind the better the trees.
With the loss of his dear wife, the prophet knows that he is stronger than he was before. In my life, when my father passed away I didn't have the firm testimony of the atoning sacrifice of Christ I thought I had. It was extremely tough for me to face the reality that I would not see my father ever again in this life. I cried in our downstairs bathroom for what seemed like hours, not wanting to talk to the people that were on the other side of the door, waiting to show me their love. I didn't know how to face the reality, but a still small voice entered my heart to get on my knees and pray. Ever since I was a little sweaty boy in primary I was taught to always be ready for the "still, small voice" by little songs I always sang and by little lessons each Sunday that I always heard. Also, I was taught that families were forever and by the atoning blood of Christ it was possible to live forever with those that you love. As I prayed, I pleaded for an answer. "Why did this have to happen to me...will I really see my father again?" An angel didn't descend from heaven to answer my cry, but the still small voice was all that I needed. I felt my heart rise and pump a little quicker. I didn't feel any more tears running down my face. I felt happy because I knew that my Heavenly Father loved me so much to send the comfort that I needed in that time of need. I just felt so good inside. Missing my father doesn't begin to describe the feelings that I have. Probably because I can't describe them with words. But I know that I can see him again. I wouldn't be here in Brasil helping others recognize this same love if I didn't have a surety. As we missionaries love to say, "We leave our families for just two short years so that others can live with theirs, forever."
We have found so many great families these week -- people that have been waiting for the missionaries to knock on their door. The words that will never leave my head are those like, "We have been waiting for this message for a long time. I think God has just been preparing us for this right moment in time. For these young men to enter into our house and show immense amount love for people they don't know at all, like us!"
I don't really like writing down the names of the people we teach, but I promise that when the baptisms come, I will write down their whole story. From when we found them to when they leave the waters of baptism.