This week was an interesting one. Working with Young Single Adults is not exactly the cream of the crop when it comes to spring break. All of the members in one ward went on a cruise and the other ward had most of its members hanging out in California. There were not very many people around at all. We made due however.
The family of seven I was teaching in my last area was baptized on Saturday. It was a great experience and one that I'm grateful that I had the chance to participate in. That's most likely the last time I will be back for Baywood ward until after my mission. I will definitely miss the incredible people I served with in that area.
YSA is still as interesting as ever. I enjoy it but it's hard to be a missionary here. It comes with very cool opportunities though. Being in Mesa has made me realize something that I never would have in Hermiston. It's possible to actually do something with my life. Yesterday I got the chance to meet the founder of Coldstone Ice Cream. It was interesting listening to him and how he got where he is now. I also had the chance to listen to the architect of the new temple in Gilbert speak. That was amazing and I learned tons from it. There are amazing people here that have gone out and done things with their lives. It helps me to realize that I can do the same.
One man that I continue to hear things about, even here in Mesa, is my dad. I can't even begin to give him the praise he deserves from me. I know I wouldn't be here in Arizona without his guidance and without his example of doing the same thing I'm doing when he was my age in Brazil. I have gained an appreciation for the word intentionally this week. I feel as though it's a word that has been skewed to have a bad connotation but I feel like it shouldn't. I feel like there's some things I never did as intentionally as I should have back home. If there was one thing I could do at home right now I would tell my dad how much I love him and how big of an impact he's had on my life. I would want him to realize how intentionally I said that. I literally am who I am because of how much love I was shown by my dad growing up and I've been too caught up in my life to realize it. I hope I'm who my dad intended me to be at this point in my life. I love him.
I had some other thoughts this week that really caught my attention. I was sitting in our Toyota Corolla riding down McKellips when I noticed the insane amount of street lamps lining the road. There were just enough to keep the entire street lit once the sun goes down. There was no room for darkness. It made me think about how obsessed we are as human beings with light. It made me question why. Why is a fire a necessity when camping? Why does there have to be a flashlight in the emergency kit at our house? Why do we have to pay so much as a city just to keep all of those street lamps running? Is it for security reasons? If so then why do crimes happen so often in the dark? Why do we all retire for the night until it's light again? Why are we so obsessed with light?
Light brings security. It brings warmth. It helps us to see. I suppose that's why Jesus Christ is sometimes referred to as the Light. He brings us security. He brings us warmth. He helps us to see. But the point I want to make is the necessity that light has for maintenance. If you don't feed a fire, it will burn out. If you don't replace batteries in a flashlight then it won't matter how much you shake it, you still won't have light. If the street lamps are not properly maintained then the result will be a city where light has ceased to exist.
There's a scripture in the Book of Mormon that I really like. It's 1 Nephi 17:13. It's at the point I mentioned in an earlier email where Nephi and his family are in the wilderness and The Lord tells them to build a ship so that they can make it safely to the promised land. As Christ speaks He says, "And I will also be your light in the wilderness; and I will prepare the way before you, if it so be that ye shall keep my commandments; wherefore, inasmuch as ye shall keep my commandments ye shall be led towards the promised land; and ye shall know that it is by me that ye are led".
Jesus Christ is our light in the wilderness. We all have to suffer through our own individual wilderness in order to make it back to Him. We are commanded to maintain the relationship we have with Him. We are commanded to keep His light shining in our lives so that through Him we can succeed in this life. If we don't maintain that by doing what he tells us to do then his light will cease to shine in our lives. We need to place street lamps in a way where there is no room for darkness. Only then can we be led by the light he so lovingly shines. He invites us to see through that light. We honestly don't have to. We have the choice. We can choose whether to sit in the dark and hopelessly wait for a light to shine on us or we can move to where the light will shine. I would encourage the latter.
Sincerely, Elder Earl
P.S. Don't worry Mom. I love you too.