This week was so great. We have seen miracle after miracle out here. There are so many people out in the world that are being prepared by God to recieve the fulness of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. I was able to go back to a baptism this week in Edmond 3rd ward (where i was "born") for a lady named Noreen Champlain. She is 79 years old and we first started teaching her when I was in Edmond. She was baptized Sunday night and it was a spiritual outpouring at the baptism. She came up to me and just started crying. I couldn't help but tearing up and feeling so much love for her. I was so happy for her. She is going to the temple in a year and I will definitely be there. After being out for awhile, it is so awesome to have these kinds of experiences and go back to baptisms for people you found and first taught. The Lords timing is perfect, He knows His children better than we do. :)
Living after the manner of happiness. (2 Nephi 5:27) What a beautiful concept that is taught so simply in the Book of Mormon where the Gospel of Jesus Christ is found. I am so appreciative of the Gospel and everything that it means to my life. I am so grateful to know that our Heavenly Father loves us enough and trusts us enough to give us our agency, or the ability to act for ourselves as individula agents. Because of the Atoenment of Jesus Christ, we have "become free forever". We have two options. We can choose life eternal throught the Great Mediator, or captivity and death according to the power of the devil. What does that really mean to me? It means that today I have the choice to choose to be happy or miserable. I can choose to be acted upon, or I can choose act upon my circumstances and be happy....whatever those circumstances may be.
As I have been in Shawnee, I have learned a great lesson. We have faced trial after trial and mountain after mountain. I found myself to be very unhappy at the beginning. I missed old companions, I missed old areas, I missed old investigators that I had grown to love. I started to wonder what was so different about this area. I loved the people, I loved my companion and I was still a missionary. I couldn't see a huge difference in what I was doing or who I was around. I didn't know why I wasn't as happy as I used to be. Then one morning I turned on a conference talk and this is what I heard from our Prophet, President Thomas Monson.
"We have all experienced times when our focus is on what we lack rather than on our blessings. Said the Greek philosopher Epictetus, “He is a wise man who does not grieve for the things which he has not, but rejoices for those which he has.”
I have come to learn the importance of perspective and gratitude. If we look at things with "spiritual eyes" we will always see the blessing in the trials we face. We will begin to see as our Heavenly Father sees with an eternal perspective. That hopeful eternal perspective will allow our trials, depressions, frustrations and stresses be swallowed up in the "joy of the Son", knowing that one day we will rest from all afflictions "to go no more out". Once we focus on what we have instead of what we don't have, we begin to feel overwhelemed with gratitude for the many blessings our Father in Heaven gives us daily even though more often than not, those blessings are not always material things.
"Do material possessions make us happy and grateful? Perhaps momentarily. However, those things which provide deep and lasting happiness and gratitude are the things which money cannot buy: our families, the gospel, good friends, our health, our abilities, the love we receive from those around us. Unfortunately, these are some of the things we allow ourselves to take for granted."
How true that can be. There are so many people in the world today that don't have what we would call "materialistic blessings"....yet, they choose to live after the manner of happiness. Gratitude is the root of all happiness. As President Monson puts it, "it is the nobelest of virtues and the parent of all others".
Find time to aknowledge the Lords hand in your life. You will see light and peace come into your life the instant you choose to express your gratitude and focus on what you have instead of what you don't have. Its just a matter or MANNER of how you look at things. Thus, we can all choose to live after the manner of happiness, no matter what we are going through.
Love you all. Be happy and keep loving.
Elder Dallin Cutler
p.s these are the pics from weeks before that i wasn't able to send