Tuesday, 12 August 2014

Why Go To Church?

Sorry for the really long post.  I was making up for forgetting to post in so long;

     I was 18 years old, living at university.  I thought I had the best life I could possibly have.  One Saturday night I decided I would play video games late into the night (as I  often did).  I played game after game and got more and more engrossed as the pile of wrappers and soda cans piled higher and higher.
     Patrick walked slowly down the long road that led to his small flat.  After another 12 hour shift at the burger factory he was very tired.  He was living in a place where he shared a kitchen with 5 other people, he had been away from his family for quite some time and lived alone. He lived in London while his family was spread throughout the world, his wife was in Jerusalem while his children were going to college in his homeland of Nigeria.  He worked over 50 hours a week for about 7 pounds an hour in order to send his children to school.  
     He was horribly alone and was deep in thought as he unlocked his front door and stepped inside and walked upstairs to his flat.  While he felt very blessed to be living in the United Kingdom, and able to make far more money than he would have been able to if he had been living in Nigeria in order to give more opportunity to his children, he still was not very happy.  He was not happy to be living away from his family, he was not happy to be living in a foreign country, and he especially was especially not happy that he felt all alone.  
     After sitting on the edge of his bed pondering, and trying to keep the loneliness at bay, Patrick decided he would have yet again another early night.  He wished that he had someone to just speak with, just one person who was a true friend to him.  His flat mates were just that, flat mates and nothing more.  He sighed; he could handle it, he had to, for the sake of his children getting a quality education. He knelt to the side of his bed and prayed for some heaven sent help. 
     I played late into the night, not really giving any thought to the morning.  When the last round of my game ended I looked at the clock and gasped at the time.  It was 6 am!  I had church in just 4 hours.  I had wasted away all evening and I realized I was going to have a rough morning when I woke up.  I quickly slipped into bed, not even bothering to change my clothes.  
     The next day, I slowly opened my eyes to see light pouring in the window.  I sat up straight and then turned towards the clock.  Church starts at 10 am and goes until 1 pm... and it was 2 pm!  I had slept right through my alarm and right on through the whole of church!  I sighed, it was too late now, so I figured I might as well enjoy my mistake and went back to bed.  
     About an hour later one of my good friends named Brandon stepped in and realized what I had done started laughing his head off at me.  I blushed in embarrassment. After more than a few jokes we finally left to go get some food.  I didn't really think much of my mistake the rest of the week if I'm completely honest.
     Finally a break!  Patrick woke up to his alarm at 8 am, nearly 3 hours of extra much needed sleep compared to normal.  His boss at the burger factory had told him that he couldn't come into work because he hadn't used up his vacation time for the year.  He was given a 1 week paid vacation, and he was planning on using every ounce of it.  
     The thing he feared was to spend all week just sitting in his flat thinking of his family but being unable to do anything more than give them a phone or skype call.  He normally had to wake up at around 5 am and then ride a long bus to work and work late into the evening.  Feeling rather happy about how rested he felt, Patrick went for a trip to the market to keep himself occupied.  He decided he might buy himself a new pair of shoes if he could find one he liked.  He opened up the door and stepped out into the world, the busy city of London.
     The week past like any other, and Sunday came once again.  This time I was prepared, I arose and went to church, I showed up about 5 minutes before it started which meant basically no one was there yet.  But I was happy that I had woken up on time and that I could repent of missing church the week before.  30 minutes past and a bit into the meeting I realized I didn't see Brandon anywhere.  
     After the meeting I raced to his room and knocked on the door "Boom, Boom, Boom!" Just like a police officer in the movies, I was going to get to the bottom of this!  Brandon opened the door a few seconds later, he looked like he had woken up very recently.  I asked him where he was for church and his answer was that he had woken up a little late and decided he would just play video games instead of going to church.  I blushed and then hypocritically chewed him out for missing church.  In turn he let me have it for not going the week before.  
     After squabbling like pigeons over a piece of bread for a while we both apologised and made a pact to go together to church the next week.  I was shocked that someone would choose to skip church largely because of my failure to go to church.  There is a scripture in Isaiah 58:13+14 that says; 
"13 If thou turn away thy foot from the sabbath, from doing thy pleasure on my holy day; and call the sabbath a delight, the holy of the Lord, honourable; and shalt honour him, not doing thine own ways, nor finding thine own pleasure, nor speaking thine own words:
 14 Then shalt thou delight thyself in the Lord; and I will cause thee to ride upon the high places of the earth, and feed thee with the heritage of Jacob thy father: for the mouth of the Lord hath spoken it."
     I know these words are true, but I had always been confused at how vague this promise is for keeping the Sabbath day holy.  Usually I find promises for keeping commandments are very specific.  I realized the promise is very specific here after this experience.  I saw that the words of Matthew 5 are true where it says that we are the light of the world, that a city set on a hill cannot be hid.  In other words, I know that there is always someone watching, someone learning from the things I do.  
     In this experience I did not feel the blessing was to ride in a high place though, I might have already been a "city set on a hill" where people were noticing the things that I did, I'm not too sure of that.  But I am sure that the promise came into effect that I was blessed with the heritage of Jacob.  His blessing was to have a very numerous group of righteous people come about as a result of his righteous example.  The blessing being the father of all of the children of israel.  I saw this heritage of Jacob because as I kept the Sabbath day holy I have seen how it affects others around me to make better decisions and to be better.  But the blessings don't end there, because us both having a willingness to keep the Sabbath day holy, we were both able to be on missions to teach others about Christ.
     I was really blessed by Brandon's example as well, that he was willing to go to church so that we could sort of team up in order to encourage each other to wake up on time.  So I guess in that when I think when you keep the Sabbath day holy, you really bless the lives of those around you.  
     It was the 3rd day of Patrick's vacation and it was already getting a little old, of course he loved the break, But work helped keep his mind off any loneliness he felt and off the other problems he was facing.  As he walked along he was running just a few errands, he was deep in thought.  So deep that he wasn't really watching where he was going.  He pondered on the usual things he tended to think about, he prayed in his mind as he walked and asked God if he could send some help as he had done countless times already.  
     He decided he would take a shortcut home, usually he avoided the route because Peckham had a bad reputation.  But because the sun was shining and there were a decent number of people out and about he though it would be perfectly safe to cut through a rougher part of town.  
     On my mission I was standing outside the house of one of the people we had been teaching about the church.  He had been very nice in the past (unlike many others)  it was a long day and I had been hoping to finally have a set appointment with someone go through that day.  Unfortunately it didn't go through, the man never answered the door, he must have forgotten our appointment, or maybe decided he wasn't interested anymore without even fully hearing us out.  We walked slowly away from the door and down a few flights of steps.
     We decided we would speak to people in the area on the street in that area and see if we could have any better success there.  We walked slowly down the path trying to stop people along the way. 
     Patrick practically ran headlong into 2 mormon missionaries.  1 was from Spain and the other was American.  Because he still had about a weeks worth of vacation he decided to have them over that Week.  That missionary was me.  On our first visit to his home we taught him about the gospel and shared the Book of Mormon with him.  We could tell that something was bothering him but we couldn't tell what because he hid it well.  After a few Sundays of coming to church, I could see that he seemed to be doing much better.  We talked to him about it and he said, "As I was alone, now I am not" Church had a personally uplifting effect for him.  The blessings of church attendance are personal, that much was clear to me.  I also know that they can apply to many of the people around us.  I know that attending church has helped me to "Ride in the high places".  Patrick did end up joining the church and is fully active today.
     As a last scripture I am reminded; Matthew 6:26 "Behold the fowls of the air: for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are ye not much better than they?" God knows our needs and wants to help us, many times he can only give us that help if we are willing to accept it.  One of the ways that we can accept that help is through follow the commandments, including keeping the Sabbath Day Holy to the best of our ability.  Coming to church may often be hard, but it's always worth it. 


Sunday, 3 August 2014

Pooh Sticks

     This past past preparation day we decided we would go to the 100 acre wood (yes that is an actual real place).  So after getting permission we picked up some other elders and as the 4 of us we went searching.  Along the way we had some trials, we got lost about 34812903812 times, we almost ran out of fuel, then the nearest petrol station was about 6 miles away and we were running out of time (the 100 acre woods are in the middle of no where).  Anyway, by the end of it I was really tired and just wanted to go home.  We saw the bridge though that is the bridge in Winnie the Pooh where they play Pooh Sticks.  We played a round of Pooh sticks, and I came out with the win which I was very excited about.
     When you play Pooh sticks what you do if you aren't familiar to the game is you each take 1 stick and go to the bridge.  Then determine which way the water is flowing.  You all then throw your sticks in the water at the same time on the upstream side of the bridge and then go to the other side of the bridge and wait for your stick to come out the other side.  Then comes the tricky part, you have to remember what your stick looks like because if the stick that comes out the other side first belongs to you then you win!  It is a childs game but because that is what the bridge is famous for we all had to play.
     So if I'm being honest, there aren't really that many appropriate parallels to Pooh sticks and Baptism, I really did end up enjoying the trip out the the 100 acre wood, but I wanted to take this opportunity to talk about baptism which is very important.  In preach my gospel lesson 3 under where it talks about baptism it says; "Baptism by immersion is a symbol of the death, burial, and resurrection of the Savior. In a similar way, it represents the end of our old life of sin and a commitment to live a new life as a disciple of Christ." (bold added) I am struck by the word disciple.  When I think of a disciple I think about the word discipline.  I have found that it is often not easy to be a disciple of Jesus Christ.  To me the word disciple means a follower.  In other words when we are a disciple of Jesus Christ we do not just listen to him, but we do the things he would want us to do.
     When we are baptised we promise to be disciples of Jesus Christ, I love the words in the New Testament "Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls." (Matthew 11:29) I love it because to me a yoke is a symbol of discipleship.  When we are baptised we take his yoke upon us, if we are willing to do this then it will be huge in increasing the quality of our lives.

Pooh Bridge