How's it going? Fun fact about Oklahoma: this past week, Oklahoma was the hottest place in America! A few days ago, it was a new level of "HOT!" Yeah, it was really hot here, but I guess that means more all-natural sweat detox! Good stuff! :)
We had a baptism on Saturday! His name is Brother Eddie Johnson. He's about 50 years old and is really firm in the gospel. It was cool to hear him talk with other members after his baptismal service. They'd say stuff like, "Oh! You used to go to that Baptist church over there? I used to go there too!" Hahaha it's fun to be around so many converts from the big melting pot of Christian religions that make up Oklahoma. So that was a good time :)
We also had an awesome show on Friday! It was "Weaving the Tapestry of Faith through the Heartland." The youth from all 7 stakes in Oklahoma had a youth conference this past weekend and part of it was a free show in the Lloyd Noble Center (OU's basketball arena). We've been giving tickets to people and promoting over the past few weeks. It was a huge show (over 900 youth participated in various ways!). It was full of singing and dancing and Preston Taylor! Preston is President and Sister Taylor's son (I think he's 16), and he can sing like it's nobody's business. He had a solo and sang, "I'm Proud to Be an American." It was AWESOME! Anyway, I'm pretty sure everyone in Oklahoma knows who he is by now because no one else can sing like he can. So that was cool!
The big lesson I learned this week was about trials (the God-given type, not the type that we sometimes bring upon ourselves through disobedience or being unwise). I learned that trials are opportunities in disguise.
Growth can only come after and through opposition (a muscle cannot grow stonger unless it is worked out first). If we were to go through life without trials, what would we learn? How could we grow? And so, life is full of trials.
When the trials come, there are a few ways of reacting to them. The first way is to rely on our own strength, or "the arm of the flesh." When we do this, we use our own understanding, reasoning, and intelligence to work out a solution to our problem. We try out different methods of relief. We do what we can to make it all seem less painful. When we only do this method, not much is learned (if anything), there is little growth (if any growth at all), and at the end of the trial, we are exactly the same way we were before, if not worse.
Another way of dealing with trials is to turn to God. We turn to God, hearken to His word, and do His will. That's right! TURNHEARKENDO! Instead of focusing solely on relieving the pain that has been caused by the trial, the focus turns to God. We continue to do everything He has asked us to, even if it seems contrary to what would relieve the pain.
Perhaps the test isn't only to see if we'll turn to God for help when a trial comes, but if we will continue to turn to God throughout our trial. (It's "Endure to the End" on a smaller level).
Here's the way I imagine it: If we rely on the arm of the flesh, we don't really get anything out of it except a lot of pain. If we turn to God, it's as if God is standing a little down the road with a big slice of "Atonement" to give us. If we make it down the road, He gives us the slice of "Atonement," which not only heals us but exalts us and makes us more. And so, trials are opportunities to take advantage of the Atonement on a deeper level than we could otherwise. When we take advantage of the Atonement, we grow more than we could otherwise. I'm convinced that God often gives us trials to correct our character flaws. He loves us :)
I also learned that God answers prayers through other people. I've had multiple prayers answered through other people lately, and it's neat to see how it all works.
That's all for this week. Thanks for all the prayers and love! I love you! :)
A group of youth from the OKC South stake (my stake). Preston is standing front and center (the tall one). He looks a lot like President Taylor.
Elder Goodrich, Elder Glazier, Brother Johnson, and Me