Sister Olla and I helped four children of God enter the waters of baptism this week - three primary-aged children (Bea, Maxwell, and Barbara) and one Young Woman (Brenda). The baptism was great and we had chocolate cake afterwards!
I was reading an Ensign from April 2011 the other day and I found a couple articles that I really enjoyed. One article ("Rescued by the Gospel" - Lionel Hougnon) contained a poem that particularly touched my heart and I wanted to share it with you.
Twas battered and scarred, and the auctioneer
Thought it scarcely worth his while
To waste much time on the old violin,
But held it up with a smile;
"What am I bidden, good folks," he cried,
"Who'll start the bidding for me?"
"A dollar, a dollar"; then, "Two!" "Only two?"
Two dollars, and who'll make it three?"
"Three dollars, once; three dollars, twice;
Going for three -" But no...
From the room, far back, a gray-haired man
Came forward and picked up the bow.
Then, wiping the dust from the old violin,
And tightening the loose strings,
He played a melody pure and sweet
As a caroling angel sings.
The music ceased, and the auctioneer
With a voice that was quiet and low,
Said, "What am I bid for the old violin?"
And he held it up with the bow.
"A thousand dollars, and who'll make it two?
Two thousand" And who'll make it three?
Three thousand, once, three thousand, twice,
And going, and gone!" said he.
The people cheered, but some of them cried,
"We do not quite understand
What changed its worth." Swift came the reply:
"The touch of a master's hand."
And many a man with life out of tune,
And battered and scarred with sin,
Is auctioned cheap to the thoughtless crowd,
Much like the old violin
But the Master comes, and the foolish crowd
Never can quite understand
The worth of a soul and the change that's wrought
By the touch of the Master's hand.
As I read the story of a man with a life destroyed by alcohol and the things of the world who thought that the only way to end his misery was to end his life until he was rescued by the restored gospel of Jesus Christ, I thought of all of us and our fellow brothers and sisters in this world. All of us have difficulties and challenges; all of us go through times of trial and turmoil; at times it is hard to see the light; at times it is hard to recognize our worth. On my mission, I see and speak with many of these people. It is so hard for me to listen to them tell me that there is no hope for them, that they are not like us (Crent daughters of God who keep the commandments and go to church every week and read the scriptures everyday), that they just can't do it. As a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints it is amazing to see people change as they are reminded of their worth as a daughter or son of God.
I have been studying the Atonement of Christ a lot recently, which leads me to the second article in the same Ensign I read that I really enjoyed - "His Grace Is Sufficient" - Brad Wilcox. I especially liked this article because it compares Christ's Atonement to a mother providing music lessons for her child.
"Christ's arrangement with us is similar to a mom providing music lessons for her child. Mom pays the piano teacher. Because Mom pays the debt in full, she can turn to her child and ask for something. What is it? Practice! Does the child's practice pay the piano teacher? No. Does the child's practice repay Mom for paying the piano teacher? No. Practicing is how the child shows appreciation for Mom's incredible gift. It is how he takes advantage of the amazing opportunity Mom is giving him to live his life at a higher level. Mom's joy is found not in getting repaid but in seeing her gift used - seeing her child improve. And so she continues to call for practice, practice, practice."
Our Savior already paid the price for our sins. We will never be perfect in this life, but we must practice so that someday we may be perfected (D&C 67:13). We are strengthened as we work with others to become "more perfect". Here in Brazil, people are very scared to promise us that they will come to Church on Sunday; that they will live the Word of Wisdom this week; that they will read the scriptures every day; because they are scared that they might not and they feel they are making a promise to God when they promise us.
After realizing this, I have changed the way I ask people to make commitments. Instead of saying, "Will you come to church on Sunday?” I ask, "Will you try with all of your heart, might, might, and strength to come to church on Sunday?" Although this may seem dramatic, it works (people are more likely to commit). We must first try to be perfect, then practice perfection, and eventually we will be perfected.
The World Cup starts this week so things are going to change a bit around here. Presidente Soares sent out an email to all the missionaries saying that we should not watch TV but because of the large influence of the cup, those who do watch the games, or in other words those who want to be fubecas (slackers) need to be with a leader of the church. Sister Olla and I have decided that we will concentrate on the mission work here and not watch any games.