Saturday, September 12, 2015

Week Eighteen - Thoughts

Here are some other things Elder Lovgren has said in his messages to us:

The Atonement Is Real
Yesterday I felt tremendous guilt to the point of not being able to eat and feeling sick. I prayed and had an impression to read the scriptures. Praying brought me peace and tears. Upon turning to the scriptures, the first thing I read was exactly what I needed -2 Nephi 32:3 Angels speak by the power of the Holy Ghost...feast upon the words of Christ...for the words of Christ will tell you all things that ye should do.
Purpose of MTC Accomplished
I feel like the MTC prepared me for the mission field; now that I'm in CA I get to apply what I learned.

My New Companions
On the day of transfers all the missionaries were at the mission home and the new missionaries were at the front. I looked at the missionaries sitting there and thought "one of those guys is going to be my companion". The Mission President was reading our bios then I heard him say, "Well this is something you don't usually read ... he makes films and music for his films" (one of the missionaries shouted out, "He made a skateboarding documentary.") My companions are 1) Elder Cedeńo (has skated for 10 years, gave me a tech deck when we first met and said, "This is going to be the coolest transfer ever!") and 2) Elder Cannon.
God and Art

Before going on my mission I always focused on being an individual, not conforming, doing things that had never been done before, being an explorer - an innovator, and being one with others. What it comes down to is that whenever I'm doing a project, making music, or making films I'm creating. God is a creator, an artist, and making art is being like God. Brainstorming, God (G) is in the middle of the circle. One thing God is is art, so I'll draw a line from the circle with a G and call it 'Art'. (Art can be nothing or everything. Anything can be art because it's our perspective. There's no right or wrong, it's both imperfect and perfect, and that, to me, is entirely God. All of who God is can't be understood and He had no limits put on him.)
Mission Time Flies
I've been so busy this week (a bbq, a bunch of service projects) ... The weeks go by so fast! ... Monday is p-day and Friday is weekly planning ... The time from Monday to Friday flies - then it's soon Monday again!
A Spiritual Thought
Spiritually, this is an amazing week! I'm so much more strong and have come close to the scriptures (especially D&C.) The verse in D&C that speaks so much to me is one that God sent: …for my commandments are spiritual; they are not natural nor temporal, neither carnal nor sensual. –D&C 29:35

I've been pondering that scripture a lot and realize the commandments are spiritual. It's not striving to become something of man but of God. When you go to church, or read the scriptures, or pray you progress so much farther than this life; I've never seen it that way. We talk to so many people on the streets who say, "I can't stand organized religion" or "Organized religion isn't for me" and I think "Okay, but can you see how coming to church makes you get closer to God? You don't see God - He's not presiding at church, the church is run by men. But the power and authority there is from God. Coming to church builds you spiritually." All the commandments are meant for us to grow beyond our temporal needs. That means so much to me and gives me a different perspective on why I go to church, why I take the sacrament, why I pray, why I read the scriptures, and why I do all these things.
This week has been another awesome week! l'm continuing to grow - the week before was a changing moment about pride and forgetting myself, and this week was "put it to the test, now it's your turn" as I tried not to focus on myself. The days when I forgot about the past and my desires and focused on what the Lord wanted me to be as a missionary were the best days. I woke up psyched, I went to bed with a smile on my face, and I talked to everyone. The days when I focused on other things my faced showed that my mind was on other things, my demeanor changed, and I didn't want to be that guy! I want to be a good missionary and it's time to work on it!
First Transfer Is Over
This is the end of my first transfer. I cannot believe that it's already been one transfer - six weeks that I've been here! Wednesday five missionaries in our zone go home and I've grown close to a couple of them so it's gonna be sad to see them leave. I'm staying in Irvine another six weeks.

The Key - Obedience
I feel solid about being the missionary I want to be, and it's about being obedient. There's a line in the middle and on one side is darkness and on the other side is light. When I make an obedient choice I move toward the light and when I make a disobedient choice I move toward the darkness - it's as simple as that. I want Christ always in my life. 
The work out here is doing super good - super super super good! We've got two investigators getting baptized at the end of this month.

A Great Book
I've been reading the Book of Mormon - never have read it cover to cover - and right now I'm in the middle of 2 Nephi. Every morning I can't wait to read the book. There's something about it - when I'm seeking and having faith the book is for me and I feel so peaceful and happy. This morning I read 2 Nephi chapter 4 and I have to say that's probably one of the most beautiful chapters. Nephi is expressing how much this gospel means to him, how much God means to him, and I love the way he asks questions and is pleading. He says I've felt God in my life before why do I keep falling into temptation? Awake my soul - what am I doing? He asks all these questions, I'm seeing him go through this, and I'm thinking "Wow, this is so beautiful." That is an amazing chapter!

I Understand
Growing up, when I'd hear 'the pure love of Christ' I'd interpret it as the pure love of me loving Christ, but on my mission I learned it's the pure love of Christ loving me. Knowing the Savior loves me and focusing on my love for Him has put me in tune with acting like Him. I can love others and it starts with loving Him first. I've seen blessings come from that ... like being so much more enlightened this week. 
First lesson that changed my life 
The Lord reveals his plan step by step. It is so true! Step by step. Precept upon precept. Little by little. When we are directed to do something (the spirit guides us, "Go and do this") he reveals the thing, then the next thing, then the next thing. He doesn't reveal our entire life's plan. We have a plan, but knowing it is step by step. It's been amazing to have the spirit lead me to one place, then another, and then to look back and think "Wow! How did I get here." It's amazing to know "That was the spirit the entire time. That was God's direction and his hand in my life."

Second lesson that changed my life 
Focusing on investigators is most important. True happiness comes when I study for investigators, when I pray about them, and when I think about them all the time. I become more in tune with the spirit when I serve these people. Losing myself in the work like "this isn't about me at all" isn't a struggle any more. I don't struggle with or think about myself. Of course, I'm prideful in certain ways, but I'm making improvements - I know I am because I'm happier during the day and not ranting about who I am and what I've done. What a blessing that's been!
When the Lord asks me to give up something it's usually something that means a lot to me - because he wants to know where my heart's at. It's like that scripture that men look on the outward appearance but God looks on the heart. It's true. I think an honest heart is a godly heart. When my honest intention is to give up anything in this life to do the Lord's will, that's what He wants - to the point that He strips away things I hold dearest to me. 

Giving Up Something Dear
My camera broke. I thought my camera was gonna present an opportunity to create memories and exercise exploring my creativity. (Every day I walk around and see photos I should be taking but my camera's broken.) I bought my camera because I knew it wouldn't break, and I'm like "Why did this break?" I think the reason it broke was because the Lord knows I find peace in shooting photos, but He wants to know if I'm willing to give it up to let Him fill me instead.

Giving Up Another Thing
It's the same with music. I find so much peace in the music I listen to, but having to give that up and let it seem like I'm empty handed and just have the scriptures tells Him I'm willing to give it up. He knows my heart and I can tell of the blessings. 
It's Only Hard Until We Choose
It's easier to be 100% obedient than to be 99% obedient because when we're 99% obedient we're constantly having to remember God's will and then decide if we're gonna obey it or not. But if we decide to be 100% obedient, every time we're faced with a decision we already know and don't have to remember! If we decide to obey all the commandments we don't have to decide again when faced with the choice to obey or disobey, but if we decide to obey 99% of the time, whenever we're faced with the decision we have to re-choose.

I've had to decide whether or not to be obedient out here. When I choose to be less than 100% obedient I sit there and wonder "Am I gonna choose to do this or not?" Then my mind starts to stir and stir and stir, and I let in a little bit of darkness-the adversary pushes me away from the light, then my countenance changes and the look on my face is focused on trying to choose, and then I'm bummed. The adversary is in my life when I'm trying to focus on the light, and all that confusion wouldn't be there if I'd just make the commitment to be 100% obedient. Complete obedience is thinking "I'm gonna do everything I can to obey" and making the commitment NOW! 
Peace of Mind
Obedience isn't taking away control but giving us more control, because when we have peace of mind we're out more - we're out talking with people, loving people, and being better at work. Being a missionary is the same as me having a career at home. If I didn't have to constantly choose it would make making a film so much easier because I wouldn't have to constantly discern things. It's all about obedience. Obedience is actually loving Heavenly Father and that's the first commandment - love Heavenly Father then love our neighbor. When we love God we love our neighbors and when we love our neighbors we love God. We need to just love God.

Sister Luft and Elder Lovgren at the MTC

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