Hello my dear Family,
This week was great. We met a new investigator on Saturday who was a referral from Temple Square. We talked with him for about 10 minutes and then invited him to church on Sunday and said we would have someone pick him up. He said, "Sure". He came to church and afterwards told us that he learned a lot and really liked it so we will set up a time to meet again with him really soon. I love you all and I don't have much time left. I will talk to you next week. Here is what I learned this week.
This week I studied about Virtue. My companion and I have been doing some service at a less active member's home by doing yard work. Their yard really needed a makeover and so we have been helping them with it. Just this week I thought of how our minds can be related to a garden. Think of the prettiest garden you have ever seen. Now, think of the worst garden you have ever seen. These two gardens are able to be related to the space of our minds.
The beautiful garden. "Garnish thy thoughts" (Doctrine and Covenants 121:45). What does the word garnish mean? My Branch President in Hong Kong was a banker and so he taught me about how you can garnish your funds. If someone is not paying a loan the funds of that person can be garnished so that their paycheck is divided and part of the paycheck goes to the loaner. I am sure that you have heard of this term. So with this definition in mind we look at "garnish thy thoughts with virtue" (D&C) What is virtue? I see it as a word much like temperance. You take the time to restrict yourself in certain areas. For the garden to look beautiful the weeds must be restricted and pulled out. All of the trees that you see are planted for a specific reason and the ground is prepared with waterlines and sprinkler systems that give the trees and plants water. Drip lines are set for the trees and sprinklers are set for the grass. Every so often weeds come up and are easily seen and taken out. These weeds can be related to bad thoughts. If our garden is cleared with space then we see the weeds come up and can easily remove them because we have tamed the garden of our minds. We then take the weeds to a section of the garden for trash. If we don't take out the trash then eventually all of the trash will fill our beautiful garden and clutter our minds. How do we take out the trash? It is through the Atonement of Jesus Christ. We can only take the trash so far but we will always know where the trash is unless someone else moves it when we aren't looking. If we know where the trash is then we can very easily be like the "dog returning to its vomit" (Bible) and the "swine wallowing in the mire" (Bible). But we give this trash to our Savior and "garnish [our] thoughts" to Him giving Him the ability to take away all of our trash to a furnace. Through this our garden is given the ability to only produce good fruits in their season.
The ugly garden. A wild, untamed place of ground that is filled with weeds that have become trees. The fruits of these trees are still slightly sweet but with a bitter after taste. We are trapped in a corner of the garden with vines and branches restricting our movement. The thorns are big and the ever growing branches and trees are cutting off all light that you see. When you are trapped in sin all you can do is try to run away from the pain. What is the only way to do so in this situation? You eat of the sweetness of the fruits more and more to try and hide the bitter after taste that follows. There is no hope. Your choices of escape are almost gone. You have no tools as they are inside of the growth. How do you get out? The Atonement of Jesus Christ! You see only a sword sitting just a few feet from you. Surrounded by thorns and rodents. You finally gain the courage to grab the sword. There is pain but you now have the ability to cut back at the weeds. You do all you can and with each swing you are pocked and abused but, you continue in Faith. You have decided to tame your mind and you will not stop. You continue to find more light as you cut. Eventually you find your tools and are able to dig up the roots of those trees that bear bitter fruits. You work each day to create more space and you till the ground. All of this work eventually leads to the beautiful garden but all along the way you are pocked and abused by those thorns. The Atonement works but we need to have the faith, hope, charity, love, knowledge, virtue, diligence, and other traits to press forward with a plan for the end. As you cut back trees and things you are given seeds and plant them. You nurture the seeds and constantly build your garden with patience. Knowing that it will take time to bear fruit that is sweeter "above all other fruits" (Book of Mormon).
I am out of time but I hope that this was helpful :) I know that this gospel is TRUE. I know that the Atonement works and has true power to free us. I know that Jesus Christ lives and that He and our Heavenly Father love us. In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.
I love you all very much and I know that your Heavenly Father loves you too. I sure hope this knowledge I have gained was helpful and spoken clearly. You are the best family ever :)