I hope that everyone had a great Thanksgiving! It sounds like there was quite a lot going on at home. Hopefully everything went well. Thank you everyone for the updates, its nice to know how everyone is doing at home.
Things have been going fairly well here. Thanksgiving was great, I had a really nice time. The Smith family invited us over. They live right up on the northern edge of our branch and area boundaries, on a big piece of land. They have a decent sized house set back away from the road. They also invited a few other families from our branch who were younger with small children and didn't have any other family in the area to visit. Apparently they do that each year, and I think that's really nice of them. We were over there for several hours, and enjoyed playing games and eating an amazing dinner, followed by more games and talking and then dessert. We had such a good time with everyone and the little kids. It was a real treat and a great way to wind down a little bit.
We shared a thought afterwards about gratitude and we went around the room with each person talking about one thing they were thankful for. I said that that day I was particularly thankful to be able to be there with all of them and get to know them better. Getting to know all the members and people here is just one of my favorite parts of this work. After that we read a few scriptures. I read Moroni 10:3 and D&C 78:17-19. They seemed particularly fitting for that occasion. I felt the spirit strongly, and it was a great ending to our afternoon there.
The work is continuing to move along here as well. We're following the counsel of Elder Nash of the Seventy from last week and we're working together more closely with the branch. This last Wednesday I had a trade-off with Elder Collins and got to spend the day with him (He's our district leader). That was fun because we came out together and I was with him in the MTC, and it was great to get to catch up and talk. We talked a lot about what we could do to help the work in the St. Johns area, and he had a lot of good ideas. This next Wednesday I'll be going on a trade off to Lansing. It'll be my second time on a trade-off there, so that should be fun. There is a lot of work going on there and a lot of people they're teaching, so it'll be pretty busy.
Here's a quote from last General Conference that I've found meaningful over the last few weeks:
“To give the priesthood service the Lord expects of us will take more and more self-discipline every day of our lives. We can be prepared for that test by building faith through service as we go.
"The Lord has given us the opportunity to prepare by something He has called “the oath and covenant [of] the priesthood.” It is a covenant we make with God to keep all His commandments and give service as He would give it if He were personally present. Living up to that standard as best we can builds the strength we will need to endure to the end.
"Great priesthood trainers have shown me how to build that strength: it is to form a habit of pushing on through the fatigue and fear that might make you think of quitting. The Lord’s great mentors have shown me that spiritual staying power comes from working past the point when others would have taken a rest.”
-President Henry B. Eyring “Preparation in the Priesthood: ‘I Need Your Help’”. October 2011 General Conference
Being out here doing this work and serving the Lord is the most strenuous thing I've ever done. It definitely isn't easy. Joseph Smith once said something about how his life was like a rough stone rolling down the hill of adversity that polished him and helped him become a man of God. I do feel like a rock in a rock tumbler some days, but I know that the process is polishing me. I know that the Lord is teaching me and shaping me and helping me become the man he wants me to be. And though it is difficult, I'm thankful for it. I'm richly blessed, and I know that the Lord loves me so much that he wouldn't put me through anything that hurts me unless he knew it would help me.
I hope you all enjoy the beginning of the Christmas season and get all your shopping done soon! Speaking of which... in case anyone wants to know, I would love EFY or Mormon Tabernacle Choir CD's. And I've also come to the conclusion that a Garmin GPS would be very helpful out here.
Love you all, have a great week!
Elder Trevor Casper