Zdravo family and friends!!
Hope all is well back home. School is starting up I heard soon. Here in Slovenia all the kids have exams today and tomorrow (they have two final exam periods, one at the end of the semester, and then the other right before the start of the next semester.) The weather has been warming up again after the rain a week or two ago, but it hasn't gotten anywhere near as hot as it once was before the storms rolled through. September will be here before too long too and it will get and stay cooler soon too.
The success of this week is that we finally were able to meet with a less active member we've been trying to get in touch with for a long time, who isn't difficult to have contact with, but is impossible to sit down and talk with him. It was the strangest experience. He came to the Friday night activity we usually have here in Celje, and when Elder Baldwin and I were alone with him he asked, ˝So, you want to meet tomorrow morning?˝ Of course we said yes. It was strange when we arrived the next morning though, as he already had a board game laid out. And so what do we do? Say we won't play and leave, or play and talk? Play and talk of course. It took a bit of time, but before long we began talking about his concerns. It was an amazing breakthrough. He still has a bit to go, a journey he has to take on his own, but he will return.
In other news, I gave a talk this last Sunday. It was my third real talk I've given in Slovene (testimonies don't count). So, here is an abbreviated version of what I said.
After praying about what I should exactly talk about, one idea came to my mind, the phrase that We as saints of the latter days, can and must do hard things. I've broken these hard things we must encounter into a few simple categories, the first, that we must over come the darkness, both the darkness around us, and within us, and then we must be able to spread the light we receive.
When we came to this earth, we did not enter into perfection. This is obvious as we look at the fallen world around us. Many people have unfair situations, and struggle with many things. In spite of this however, we are promised the manner to perfection, which runs through difficult things, and only through Jesus Christ. Darkness exists around us and also inside of us. However, the darkness doesn't have to be our prison.
President Uchtdorf spoke of this light and darkness at the last May general Conference. There are two sides to his story he shared, the first I want you to pay attention to is how the woman he described had the darkness all around her, but she was able to escape. President Uchtdorf said,
˝I’d like to tell you about a woman who grew up in a room filled with darkness—I’ll call her Jane.From the time Jane was three years old, she was repeatedly beaten, belittled, and abused. She was threatened and mocked. She awoke each morning not knowing if she would survive until the next day. The people who should have protected her were those who tortured her or allowed the abuse to continue.
...There was no light in her world, so she became resigned to the darkness....
Then, at age 18, Jane discovered The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The joy and hope of the restored gospel penetrated her heart, and she accepted the invitation to be baptized. For the first time, light entered her life, and she saw a bright path before her. She left the darkness of her world and decided to attend school... At last she felt liberated from an environment of darkness and evil—free to enjoy the Savior’s sweet peace and miraculous healing.˝
As we can see, Jane was born into a world of bleak imperfection and swallowed up in darkness. However, when she came to know the light of the restored gospel of Jesus Christ, it showed her a different option, and offered her the power to be able to make the choice and action to leave the darkness which surrounded her. However, once she had left her dark conditions, she still had darkness inside of her, the next difficult thing we must constantly work to over come. President Uchtdorf continued,
˝However, years later, after her abuser had died, Jane was again troubled by the horrible events of her youth. Profound sadness and anger threatened to destroy the wonderful light she had found in the gospel. She realized that if she allowed that darkness to consume her, her tormentor would have a final victory.
...She began to realize that, for her, the best path for healing was to understand and accept that darkness exists—but not to dwell there. For, as she now knew, light also exists—and that is where she chose to dwell.
Given her dark past, Jane could easily have become vindictive, venomous, or violent. But she didn’t. She resisted the temptation to spread the darkness, refusing to lash out in anger, hurt, or cynicism. Instead, she held fast to the hope that with God’s help she could be healed. She chose to radiate light and devote her life to helping others. This decision enabled her to leave the past behind and to step into a glorious, bright future.
Jane learned that healing comes when we move away from the darkness and walk toward the hope of a brighter light. It was in the practical application of faith, hope, and charity that she not only transformed her own life but forever blessed the lives of many, many others.˝ (Italics inserted, For the full talk and story, go to this link The Hope of God's Light)
Jane overcame the darkness around her, and then inside of her. With Jesus Christ, we receive the vision of our own potential and opportunities, a vision of the path of achieve our opportunities, and the strength to bringing ourselves to our opportunities. We can leave the darkness because of Jesus Christ, because he is the light. Christ told Jospeh Smith in D&C 11:28, ˝Behold, I am Jesus Christ, the Son of God. I am the life and the light of the world.˝ He also said when he ministered on the Earth in John 8:12, ˝I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.˝
Our lives become brighter when we live like Jesus lived, this is a promise. However, this light he brings doesn't just start with us, but rather is infectious. When we receive the light, we can't hide the light. In the sermon on the mount, he taught, ˝Ye are the light of the world˝ (Matthew 5:14). Also however, when he came and taught the sermon on the mount to the Nefites, he said, ˝I give unto you to be the light of this people˝ (3 Nephi 12:14) And so, the next hard thing we must do is not to hide our light, not to hide ourselves, but rather to shine.
The light Christ is giving is hope and the matter to overcome our nightmares. The nightmares around us and also inside of us. We have the power and strength from Him to change our conditions. We are never, not ever cast off, too far gone, to be saved by Him. Everyone around us also is searching for this light. Many don't know specifically that that is what they are looking for, but still, they are searching for freedom.
I hope all is well back home and you are having lots of success in your endeavours. Happy days and well wishes from Slovenia!
PS We had transfers this week. We're now on a 6 week schedule instead of a 9 week schedule. Elder Baldwin and I are staying, Elder Hardy, Grover, and Mills, and Sister Flanders the older (we had two sister Flanderses) are going home. We are getting 3 new elders, Elder Burdette (in Ljubljana), Simon (in Maribor), and Wilson (Zone leader in Ljubljana) are training, and Sister Legro in Celje is training the new sister coming in. Sister Porter is moving to Maribor. Yep, a new missionary in every area in Slovenia. Fun times up ahead!!
Also Pics!! We had zone conference in Zagreb this last week and said good bye to a few missionaries. Here is me and Elder Hardy, my trainer. Like the only good picture of the two of us. And also me and Sister Flanders. She was in Ljubljana when I started in Kranj nearly a year ago and was like a bigger sister for me back in those days. Now all that's left is for Sister Legro to go home in November, and then I will be the oldest in Slovenia.