This email will probably be rather long. I am grateful that our mission president allows us 2 hours to write. I will have to admit that this was probably the hardest week for me in the mission. Harder than even the first month or so when I wanted to go home. I am not really sure how to start this email. On Tuesday afternoon, in a meeting that we had with other missionaries I was informed of a very tragic accident that happened in my last area. I was informed that the oldest son of a family that I worked with there killed himself on Sunday afternoon of last week. I knew that he was passing through some problems but the news still caught me off guard. I love this family so very much. The mother and her daughter accompanied us often. I had talked with him a few times about his mission experience. I could feel the pain in his eyes. As I was told this news, millions of feeling rushed through, around, and into me: saddness, guilt, regret, confusions, hope... There were two occasions in which I felt the impression that we should visit them more often, and not because I didn't want to but because the other requirements of missionary work eventually absorbed these feelings. I will be honest, I lost it. I felt very guilty. Later I came to a very clear understanding that there probably wasn't much that I could have done. I would have wanted to share experiences with him and talked to him about other things that maybe could have helped but I as a missionary certainly would have never been found one on one with a male in those kind of circumstances. I could go on and on about what I felt but it truthfully would distract from the things that I learned. I will tell you though, I truely feel that what happened to me in the time after knowing this information was a very humbling experience. I truthfully compare what I felt to what Alma felt when the angel came unto him.
"Oh, thought I, that I could be banished and become extinct both soul and body, that I might not be brought to stand in the presence of my God, to be judged of my deeds."
I know that that sounds really dramatic but I had never in my life felt the way that I did. I realized that I knew nothing. My whole body hurt. I got a grip of myself. The mission president was aware of the situation and so his wife came to speak with me. She really helped me out. I still worked that day, I never took any rest days. BUT my body felt so very sore and weak for the next two days. I felt tired. And in the next week I was faced with a lot of challenging people and a lot of experiences that helped me learn. I tried writing down all the things that I had learned but I couldn't. I have been on a pondering spree. I pondered so many things this week. I studied so many different subjects. I wanted to understand so many things. I feel as if there are two things that I really learned this week and I would like to share them with you all.
1. How we choose to react to situations will either free us or bind us.
I will start with my reaction to the news that I recieved. Although it was necessary because it gave me a taste of something I had not tasted before, it also was very unnecessary. As we are fronted with "news" we have the choice to react or ponder. Reacting is a very dangerous thing. I will give two examples. With a boaconstrictor (I think that's how you spell it, but those huge snakes that squeeze their pray to death), for what I understand if the prey of the snake struggles when it finds itself in the grips of the snake, the snake begins to squeeze faster not allowing the animal to have a chance to escape. It's the same concept with quick sand. The more that you struggle in reaction to it or in desperation in the quicksand the quicker it pulls you down.
For the last 4 or 5 years I have found myself so very "bound" with anxiety. In one point of my life, I allowed my anxiety to bring me to a very dangerous situation. As I have grown in these years with it I realize the my anxiety is a purely spiritual problem primarily because I react instead of ponder then act. When a difficult situation enfronted me I reacted with frustration. God had given us the beautiful gift of free agency. This agency allows us to 100% choose in every single situation. He has given us this agency "to act for (ourselves) and NOT to be acted upon." (2 Nephi 2:26) If we allow ourselves to ponder with an prayer in hearts to the situations that we come to we ultmately will be more free. We will be ably to glory in this liberty that we have been given. If we simply react to situations we will be bound by the consequences of them and find ourselves in a very deep hole that we can not get out of ALONE.
2. Love is THE MOST POWERFUL source that is on this planet.
I would like to share the story of Lehi and his dream first with you guys. In a story in the Book of Mormon, a prophet named Lehi had a dream. In his dream he saw a tree that had fruit that was the most desireable and most delicious of all fruit. When he partook of the fruit it filled him with the most happiness he had ever felt. The tree was called the Tree of Life. Lehi told his children about this dream. Later on, one of his children, Nephi wants to know what the whole dream meant so he asks the Lord. This is what the angel that spoke to him said about the tree and what it represented:
21 And the angel said unto me: Behold the Lamb of God, yea, even the Son of the Eternal Father! Knowest thou the meaning of the tree which thy father saw?
22 And I answered him, saying: Yea, it is the love of God, which sheddeth itself abroad in the hearts of the children of men; wherefore, it is the most desirable above all things.
23 And he spake unto me, saying: Yea, and the most joyous to the soul.
All of the problems in this world are caused by our misunderstanding or lack of love. Love is freely given without expecting anything back. I could have easily hid myself up in our apartment waiting for the pain to go away. As a missionary came up to me to see what was wrong I could have shunned her away but the only have found the happiness and peace that I looked for was by allowing others to help me through the process because in others, whether they are good or bad, is where we will find the love of God. The best cure for what I was going through that day was to go out and love and let people help me as well. We came to know a lot of people who are certain the the humanity is so awful and that God doesn't love them so why should they love others... and they are miserable. But they will never be able to taste of the love of God if they do not allow Him to love them through others. As I have suffered with anxiety the number one thing I would do in my attacks was shut everyone else out. We can literally feel the love of God as we let others in and love them despite their imprtfections. And I testify that I know the love of God. I have felt it in very small but powerful occasions. We do not find love in cars, money, our job, or anything else. We find love in the people that sell us that cars, that lend us money, that we work with in our job. We find love in loving others without expecting anything back. We find love and happiness when we allow others to enter our lives without jodgement. We find love in being humble and understanding that God put us here TOGETHER to love one another despite our differences. We find love when we understand others and put their needs before ours. AND WHEN WE FIND LOVE WE FIND THE MOST RIGHTEOUS HAPPINESS IN THE WHOLE UNIVERSE.
I invite you all to ponder before you act and to love someone you never thought you could love. I love you all so much. I hope that this made sense. Everything is really good.