Monday, November 30, 2015

No Room to Sit At Stake Conference!

Hello, Everyone!
   This week was pretty awesome, let me tell you about it!
   First, it rained like crazy!  They don´t get regular rainstorms here, they´re full on monsoons.  We left the office on Thursday, walking in the rain to get to our proselyting area, when suddenly it started hailing.  My companion and I ran across the street to take cover in a barber´s shop, but not before I got nailed in the arm by a hail stone that left a bruise!  We waited there for a few minutes, contacted the barber, and then the other mission secretaries ran over to where we were.  We then went along making goals for our next stop point and running through the rain to our next source of cover!  The hail didn´t last too long, so that helped.  

   Second, we saw a lot of miracles this week with the stake conference.  The Lord wanted his children there!  We had two families there, as well as another girl and several of her friends that we found a few days ago.  Aside from that, an Ex-investigator that we´d invited 3 or 4 weeks ago showed up too!  Everyone loved the conference!  First a young woman leaving for her mission spoke about how she decided to serve a mission, then a young man who had just gotten back talked about how all of us, before, during, and after the mission have people prepared to here the gospel from us.  After that another woman spoke about the liahona, and what our liahonas are and how we should always look for direction from the lord.  After that the stake president spoke and bore testimony of the blessings of the gospel, then Sister K.!!  She´s so incredible!  She shared a story of a sculptor in china who decided to scuplt a piece of stone that didn´t have a uniform color, and such uniformity is highly valued in this kind of chinese art.  Any other sculptor would have thrown the piece out, but he used it and made a beautiful scuplture now admired by many.  She talked about how we are often that piece of stone, even looking like we have no potential.  But God sees within our rough form a beutiful sculpture, and if we give him our hearts to mold and time to do the molding, he´ll make of us what we´d never imagine.  Then President K. spoke!!!  He spoke about his conversion and shared a powerful testimony of the savior and his atonement.  After them, an area 70 who was visiting, Elder L., spoke to finish the session.  He spoke a lot about the book of mormon, and how important it is that we continuously seek to strengthen and renew our testimony´s of the book of mormon by consistently reading and praying to know if it´s true.  He spoke of how this will bless our lives in many ways.  One of our investigators who went to chruch for the first time this Sunday said "It was incredible!  I just wished it had lasted longer, it ended so fast!"  It was so cool to see the church so full that we didn´t even have room to sit!  There were so many members and investigators, the Lord did a great work in the Goiânia stake!
   I love you all tremendously!  Remember that the gospel of Jesus Christ is a way of life, and as we live God changes our hearts and our minds and makes us like his oldest son!
Love you guys and I look forward to reading your letters next week!
Elder Sweet
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Here's a similar story about a Sculptor.
Posted on March 23, 2015
In ancient India lived a sculptor renowned for his life-sized statues of elephants. With trunks curled high, tusks thrust forward, thick legs trampling the earth, these carved beasts seemed to trumpet to the sky. One day, a king came to see these magnificent works and to commission statuary for his palace. Struck with wonder, he asked the sculptor, “What is the secret of your artistry?”
The sculptor quietly took his measure of the monarch and replied, “Great king, when with the aid of many men I quarry a gigantic piece of granite from the banks of the river, I have it set here in my courtyard. For a long time I do nothing but observe this block of stone and study it from every angle. I focus all my concentration on this task and won’t allow anything or anybody to disturb me. At first, I see nothing but a huge and shapeless rock sitting there, meaningless, indifferent to my purposes, utterly out of place. It seems faintly resentful at having been dragged from its cool place by the rushing waters. Then, slowly, very slowly, I begin to notice something in the substance of the rock. I feel a presentiment…an outline, scarcely discernible, shows itself to me, though others, I suspect, would perceive nothing. I watch with an open eye and a joyous, eager heart. The outline grows stronger. Oh, yes, I can see it! An elephant is stirring in there!
“Only then do I start to work. For days flowing into weeks I use my chisel and mallet, always clinging to my sense of that outline, which grows ever stronger. How the big fellow strains! How he yearns to be out! How he wants to live! It seems so clear now, for I know the one thing I must do: with an utter singleness of purpose, I must chip away every last bit of stone that is not elephant. What then remains will be, must be, elephant.”
When I was young, my Grandmother, my spiritual guide, would often tell just such a story, not only to entertain but to convey the essential truths of living. Perhaps I had asked her, as revered teachers in every religion have been asked, “What happens in the spiritual life? What are we supposed to do?”
My Granny wasn’t a theologian, so she answered these questions simply with a story like that of the elephant sculptor. She was showing that we do not need to bring our real self, our higher self, into existence. It is already there. It has always been there, yearning to be out. An incomparable spark of divinity is to be found in the heart of each human being, waiting to radiate love and wisdom everywhere, because that is its nature. Amazing! This you that sometimes feels inadequate, sometimes becomes afraid or angry or depressed, that searches on and on for fulfillment, contains within itself the very fulfillment it seeks, and to a supreme degree.
Indeed, the tranquility and happiness we also feel are actually reflections of that inner reality of which we know so little. No matter what mistakes we may have made – and who hasn’t made them? – this true self is ever pure and unsullied. No matter what trouble we have caused ourselves and those around us, this true self is ceaselessly loving. No matter how time passes from us and with it the body in which we dwell, this true self is beyond change, eternal.
Once we have become attentive to the presence of this true self, then all we really need do is resolutely chip away whatever is not divine in ourselves. I am not saying this is easy or quick. Quite the contrary; it can’t be done in a week or by the weak. But the task is clearly laid out before us. By removing that which is petty and self-seeking, we bring forth all that is glorious and mindful of the whole. In this there is no loss, only gain. The chips pried away are of no consequence when compared to the magnificence of what will emerge.
–  by Eknath Easwaran,
from the introduction of 
God Makes the Rivers to Flow

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