Thoughts from My Personal Study

 

DSC_8289This week my letter will be shorter than my usual drawl but a few things to say;

First off, this week was utterly insane. We lost our phone and lost all the contacts on our phone. I got sick from some delicious yet sketchy Eritrean food. Our District leader had to go back to the States for back surgery so I am a district leader again, and everything just collapsed in front of our eyes. It ended up being quite hilarious and painful, discouraging, rejection after rejection after rejection, but all bearable and all strengthening. .I’m just laughing at the whole rollercoaster of a week now. I am as happy as ever and all is well. Just a week I will never forget. hahahaha. I just love the Lord. He sends me the most uniquely comical trials my way. I love it!

Second off, I love the book of Mosiah. It is my favourite book in The Book of Mormon. It starts with the beautiful sermon from King Benjamin and then opens up to one of my favourite stories ever told; The book of Zeniff and the records of Alma the older.  One thing that I loved from this reading of the book in relation to the current events of the world today is King Mosiah’s response to the large masses of refugees that came into the land of Zarahemla. Just like today, the people of the Book of Mormon faced multiple refugee crisis. The books of Alma and Helaman tell us of asylum seeking Anti-Nephi-Lehites and war torn Nephites, and in the book of Mosiah, literally within mere days of each other, two entire cities full of people come to the gates of Zarahemla. First, the people of Limhi, having escaped the bondage of the Lamanites, preformed their mass midnight exodus from their city, traveled through the wilderness and arrived battered, weary and with hundreds of widows whose husbands were slain in battle, into the land of Zarahemla. Undoubtedly, Zarahemla had it’s own economic, political, social, and needless to say, population size problems….and yet the scripture says that immediately after receiving this influx of poor refugees that “it came to pass that Mosiah received them with joy” (Mosiah 22:14) He not only received them… He received them with JOY. Then, with this already great task of caring for this entire city of homeless, jobless, lost and weary refugees, the people of Zarahemla received yet another entire city of asylum seekers!

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Alma’s followers, after escaping wicked King Noah, had flourished into the land of Helam, becoming a peaceful, industrious and swiftly growing people…..until the Lamanites took force over the land and enslaved them. Though the people remained faithful “submitting cheerfully and with patience to all the will of the Lord.” (Mosiah 24:15) God did not release the Lamanite’s reign over them but instead commanded them to flee from their land to seek asylum in Zarahemla. And what did King Mosiah do? “and after they had been in the wilderness twelve days they arrived in the land of Zarahemla; and king Mosiah did also receive them with joy.” (Mosiah 24:25)

 

What a lesson for our present day! Like righteous King Mosiah, one of my greatest heroes, we ought to receive the latter-day people of Limhi and Alma “with joy” as they escape their latter-day Lamanites. Yes, this great mass of refugees changed the land of Zarahemla forever. Zarahemla would never be the same again…. Mosiah knew this…. He knew the temporal problems the crisis would give his nation, but he was a righteous king, following the Lord, and he looked past the temporal set backs and understood the things of eternal importance. If it had not been for King Mosiah’s charity in welcoming in the refugees, Alma would’ve never become high priest.  Alma’s son, Alma the younger, with the sons of Mosiah, would’ve never converted the Lamanites. Literally millions of people would’ve never been saved, and honestly, the Book of Mormon would’ve never been…..there would’ve been no Moroni to bury the record, and with no Book of Mormon there would’ve been no restoration.

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Essentially, I am here in Sweden, serving a mission today because around 2150 years ago one righteous people had Christ-like compassion upon two nations of refugees and undertook the seemingly impossible by welcoming them in with loving open arms and esteeming them as equal to themselves. Just think about that! We have the same opportunity today! Hundreds of years from now the people on this earth could be attributing their happiness and eternal salvation to our decisions to welcome in and serve the refugees of today. The refugees that came to Zarahemla bore with them future prophets and leaders who changed the course of eternity and saved thousands upon thousands… could that not likewise be true today?

Anyhow, just some personal study poderizing!

Have a lovely week.
Much love and peace,
Äldste Scott
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But If Not…

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New missionary comp: Elder Schultz

So Elder Barnes ran off to Norrköping and Elder Schultz came in from way down south in Lund. ch-ch-ch-cha-changes (turn and face the strange) ch-ch-changes! and Borlänge is proving to be stubbornly stuck in winter, both in weather and mood. It snowed this week, even. But strangely, despite how this hands down is the lowest amount of success in my mission since I came into my first area with ZERO investigators, I feel happy and energised. Why? I don’t rightfully know. I am working until I get blisters every day (thank goodness for Doc Martins…all my other shoes have worn through the soles…) and come home beat every night, having talked to as many people as possible, having testified as much as possible, having poured my whole heart into the work, to receive nothing tangible in return.

Every area in the past, we would work a few weeks super hard and in due course find some wonderfully prepared people and baptise them. That was my general expectation for how missionary work goes because that is how it went up to this point. But 7 weeks in Borlänge, and still hardly anything….. I realise I have been spoiled my whole mission. I got a baptismal date on my first lesson and since then,  would just stumble upon prepared people…. people who would be baptised regardless of what I did as a missionary. This was wonderful. Wonderful for my dear friends who have been baptised and are still experiencing the blessings of this gospel. The wonderful converts I have seen baptised have changed my life….built me up. Particularly Ghazanfar and Mesomeh have taught me what pure Christian love really is, and what real sacrifice for the gospel means. They have aided my spiritual progression undoubtedly……but the Lord wanted to teach me a lesson that only can be taught when success is absent….that can only be heard in the silent drab apartment in a silent drab city….. the lesson of faith despite adversity. Faith continuing when miracles are not present.

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walking where kings walked.

It is good to build faith, believing in miracles………but could there possibly be much more than that? Could there be another level? How about building faith regardless of miracles? To believe miracles will come, but furthermore determining to hold on through even if they do not come. In my past areas, I would hold onto hope for miracles and that would power me. and the miracles came…and my faith was strengthened….but here in Borlänge, with more faith, more diligence, more obedience, and most importantly what I hope to be more love, The miracles have shown no sign of coming. At first, I looked at it as a “well, this just means it is an extra big miracle for it to take this long” which can very well be true, but I have, as of late, realised I should not place my fate in rewards…..I should place it in the Lord. I must mature from the “please give me this” level of faith to the “not my will but thy will be done” level of faith. It is the higher level of faith that Shadrach, Meshak and Abed-nego had when they told King Nebuchadnezzar  If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of thine hand, O king.

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Erik’s bit of missionary work..crossing out the NOT.

  But if not, be it known unto thee, O king, that we will not serve thy gods, nor worship the golden image which thou hast set up.”

We need to have a “But if not” faith. Not just faith that God will bless us and send us miracles “BUT IF NOT” still follow him. 

So …… believe The Lord has prepared people in Borlänge to find, teach, baptise, and ultimately bless their lives and give them the sweet gift of the Gospel and Eternal life, BUT IF NOT I will still serve and work with all my heart might mind and strength, regardless. This

 

is the higher level of faith I am hoping to achieve. 

Much love and peace,

Äldste Scott

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Carl Larrson museum

Children

IMG_2196First things first, Elder Barnes, my wonderful compy comp, is transferring to Norköping and I’ll be receiving Elder Shultz, who I know hardly anything about so it will be exciting! Borlänge had a mighty fine week this week after ages of hardship. We found 5 very positive new investigators in just a few days. The work is still quite hard and humbling, but ever so lovely. I would not want it to be any more easier. I need these hardships to make me better, after all.

This week one very specific subject has been impressed upon my soul more than anything else; Children.  Every day of personal study I stumbled upon another scripture about children, it seemed all of my dreams were about children, and I had the greatest honour of becoming friends with a nice little gang of neighbourhood children.
“But Jesus said, Suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 19:14)IMG_0504
Why? What is it about children? Any decent human being, and indeed even many indecent human beings, can soften their hearts and give of themselves liberally, for the welfare of a child. Even many vulgar, immoral, violent people I have seen hold back their crude language and terrible actions when a child is present.  They would watch and listen to the most vile of filthy content but absolutely forbid their children to see or listen to it. Why? What is it about children that can get many of the gruffest men to be tamed gentlemen, and many of the coldest selfish adults to soften?  It is their innocence.
 We have all lost it, even when we try to be the best we can be……….it is just a sad fact of doing that awfully bothersome required activity of growing up. Our faith, our imagination, our optimism, our simplicity, our joy, our innocence, by default of aging, lowers. While many good attributes such as knowledge, diligence,  patience and charity for the most part increases as we grow older, the attributes of a child can all but vanish away entirely from our character if we do not work to maintain them.image
We are to be humbled and become “as little children” to enter the kingdom of God, meaning, as I am to forsake the childishness of my boyhood, (i.e. my temper tantrums, incessant need to be the centre of attention and stubborn avoidance of memorising the times tables) I need to reclaim the child-like attributes of my boyhood. (i.e. my humble faith in Christ, my humility and my innocent nature) And the best place to look for an example is the children!
Never underestimate children. This week a seven year old in my ward here in Borlänge gave one of the best testimonies I have heard in a very long time. All by herself, she stood boldly at the podium in front of the whole congregation and said (in Swedish of course) “I love my family and Jesus and…..I have a suggestion! I want you all to be much more nicer to each other. Sometimes you may have a reason to be mean but you should still be nice. In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.” The power of her young sermon surpassed any conjuring of words an adult could say. I could speak at the pulpit for hours on end, quoting from every book from God and from mankind on how and why we ought to love one another, but the simple words from that one brave little girl left a far deeper impression upon the hearts than I could ever give. Children can speak from the spirit, and often pick up what adults cannot….and the words from their sweet innocent mouths can change hearts and change the world.
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In everything, it is the children that matter most. If you find it hard to find reason to help the refugees, just remember half of them are children.  Say and think whatever you wish about their parents, about their cultures, but could you turn away an innocent child? Can you let a child die?
I can honestly one of the  happiest  single moments in my life,  was in Karlstad, playing barefoot soccer with several dozen Syrian 6-12 year olds at a refugee camp. The sun would set over the beautiful Swedish  countryside, as our feet would kick up dust into the evening golden glow. The air was filled with young laughter and my heart felt like it would burst with joy. These adorable children (and believe me, nothing save my future children will I ever find to be more adorable than Syrian children) had seen horrible terror. Many had seen death. Their lives were torn absolutely to shreds before they even reached the age of accountability……and yet, because of the truly heaven-given power of their childhood goodness, they were still so innocent, so good, so happy. They had nothing to call their own but a few miss matched  dirty outfits……..it did not matter if they had to wear a little girl’s coat as a little boy……it was warmth and that was good enough… they slept on the floor in cold empty rooms with sobbing and screaming always coming from some other’s nightmare in some other room. IMG_3649They did not have any of the luxuries of the Swedish kids who would always watch them in curiosity from the other side of the fence. Some had lost a mother or a father or both to gunfire or explosives or the harsh journey north through desert and over sea……..and yet, they were so happy and content with their raggedy half inflated soccer bag and sticks and pebbles to be called toys….so happy with beautiful life, even when life for them had been worse than we can ever imagine. Why? How? It has baffled me.
Their parents are going to live with emotional scars which will never fully heal in this life, which is heartbreaking. Their parents will work day and night for their children, pushing through language barriers and racism and persecution and trial after trial after trial in their seemingly hopeless lives. The cold, painful truth is not every refugee will find a happy new life. Many of the parents will have to wait until heaven to receive a full reward of rest for their labours and goodness…… but let us look to the children. There is the hope. These young refugee children, with their muddy second hand clothes and brightly shining eyes, can be tomorrow’s doctors and poets and politicians; to make the world a better place, because they will not forget their humble childhood as a refugee in a dreary camp in Sweden, where they were empty pocketed outcasts in a strange new world. What is now a world destroying tragedy can, 30 years down the road, prove to create one of the greatest generations of mankind. A generation of humility, empathy, modesty, love and respect. A generation molded by the sorrows of their childhood….If we do our part to help them, serve them, give them light and a way up and out of their dark hole of war-torn pain, we can help create a truly incredible generation……because today they are still children, and children are blessings from God.
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Erik at three.

I wish so  dearly I could escape back into childhood for a quick day every now and then…..Back when there were real faeries and elves and trolls in my forest, my Hogwarts acceptance letter was coming soon and the cliffs in my backyard were really castle ruins. Those endless barefoot summer days with my siblings in the woods that surrounded my house , back when responsibilities were minimal and practicality was irrelevant,  will always be looked back on with the dearest of fondness. My wise parents raised us with very little television and a great deal of imagination, and for that I will be eternally grateful.

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Scott kids in the backyard.
I can not dwell forever longing the past…..what I, and all of us for that matter, must do is provide the same childhood for our children.  A childhood lived in such a way that those precious child-like attributes of humility, faith and innocence, can be maintained as they inevitably grow into adults. Only through nurturing our children with love, imagination and God can this world ultimately become a better place….whether they be our children or the children we can influence……the refugee children we can nurture and provide for…
I would highly encourage you to look to the children, whether they be your children, your future children, or the refugee children, and ponder what you can do to give them the necessary childhood to help them create a better world. Jesus Christ was passionate about this.  Nothing on this earth is of greater value.
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With  a new friend.
Therefore, no, I do not view it as ineffective use of proselyting time to take a break from knocking on doors to kick around a soccer ball or climb trees with the Iraqi and Syrian kids in the neighbourhood……in fact, that is one of the most effective things I could be doing. I will keep on knock on doors of course…..but equally, I will keep on playing with the children.
Much love and peace,
Äldste Scott
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By Serving Our Fellowman, We Serve Christ:

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General Conference weekend is quite simply the best weekend of the year as a missionary, and it came with most perfect timing for me this year. It seemed I was nearing my wits end when it so lovingly came to serve as a sore labour’s bath and balm for my hurt mind. There are very few tangible things that can cure a weary soul better than the words of living prophets and apostles. It is as if they are speaking directly to you; to speak to your needs and bandage your wounds.

This week, prior conference, it seemed only the gloomy presence of the adversary was upon the people of Dalarana. Investigators fell away, all potential investigators decided to not meet with us, and a strange air of apathy was rampant on the street. We went days with every door slammed in our face and every “hejsan!” on the street replied with a cold “nej tack” before we even got to say a word. The once friendly, sociable people of Dalarana who were so often custom to listening to our message, even if they were not interested in finding faith, throughout the course of this week seemed to dramatically warp into disinterested cold hearts. The work seemed to disintegrate in our hands despite our best efforts to keep it alive.

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What is more, I received heartbreaking bad news from past investigators, converts and friends in past areas who are facing deportation, family members killed, and frightening uncertain futures…. And complete disappearance, allowing my mind to dread the worst.  So, with disheartened slouching shoulders, I sat down, emotionally and spiritually drained, for General Conference. And oh, how it comforted my soul and energised my spirit! I can not express my full gratitude for the Lord’s true prophet and apostles upon the earth today, who serve to bring hope and light and strength to us and inspire us to be better.

Of course, as you may well guess, my absolute favourite talks were the ones on the church’s strong invitation for us, the members, to truly follow Christ by doing our part to help in the refugee relief effort. This really is of highest importance as disciples of Christ. Maybe it is hard to see in every corner of the world, but living and serving in the heart of this worldwide crisis, with these good hearted refugees as my neighbours, and in many cases my close friends, the church’s call for our service in this cause is of the greatest importance. Do not take it lightly. Even if there are no refugees in your community, find a way to help. Now is the time the Lord is calling the Swedish members of the church to action. We here in this blessed northernmost haven need to wake up from our centuries of decadence and turn outward. Only then will we find any lasting increase inward. Many Swedish members are doing just that. Many are giving there time, talents and hearts to these good refugees….

This is a work unlike any that has been performed before. We cannot rely on a great Berlin airlift to reoccur. We cannot rely on bombs to cease dropping and their victims to stop running to us for safety. We cannot rely on the world leaders to fix all of the refugees’ problems for us. We can no longer lean upon the expectation of someone else saving the world. We need to be the means of saving the world ourselves. We need to be the open arms and open hearts. We can be the means of great miracles, one soul at a time. We can be the personal Berlin airlift to the individual. We can truly live the words of Jesus Christ when he said: “For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in: Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me. (…) Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.”

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We cannot miss this opportunity to serve our fellow man and, in doing such, truly serve our Saviour.    The Gospel is not  always convenient, nor should it be, as Elder Renlund pointed out in general conference. C.S. Lewis posed that true Christian charity ought to mean that there are things that we would like to do or buy but can’t because of our charity.

If we are too comfortable, perhaps we have too little charity in our lives. There are more than 60 million refugees in this world, half of which are children, and obedience to Christ entails us by discipleship default to sacrifice our wants for others’ needs.There are more in need than we can ever fully give, so we should never cease giving up our wants for their needs.

So……a rather negatively strong emotion arose from me this week in regards to this refugee crisis. A not very good emotion at all. For the first time, in a very long time, I was sincerely angry; probably more furious than I’ve ever been in my life. It was bottled in side me. I made no outward action of my inner passions, but regardless, I was wrong for hosting such anger. My anger was because of this; as of late, the bigots of this country have taken to graffitiing nazis symbols across the town, and on the apartments of refugees, with the words “refugees not welcome”.flat,800x800,075,f

They’ve turned the phrase into stickers with a cross mark over a running refugee child. These stickers have littered the whole city. On the bus stops, on the busses, on the buildings, on the foreheads of statues. Some witty opposer decided to respond by plastering light blue stickers in classy cursive writing saying “please don’t be racist. Thank you.” But these stickers have only been purposefully shredded to now read “please be racist. Thank you”.ca903fe8691bd640c8524421b0627ec0_grande All of this I handled well until someone put “refugees not welcome” stickers in front of our church.

Now, one is  free to harbour opinions, free to express your opinions, no matter how  racist, unkind, or evil they may be….. But no message of hate  directly in front of the church as no message of hate will ever be shared by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.One  may believe what apathetic belief or reject whoever one wishes. One may live life like Mr. Potter from It’s a Wonderful Life, as a warped old man who cares only for himself and his money. And though I cannot expect all to magically soften  hearts and realise their gall of bitterness, I do hope for respect toward a  house of prayer, where we who choose to serve the refugees, because we choose to serve the Lord.

Of course, this anger that grew inside of me from seeing this display of hate in front of our church is by no means justified. If we are to fight against the fires of the adversary we’d be awfully foolish to fight with fire. Anger is never justified in any circumstance. ever. Though anger can come when one is passionate about a good cause, the good cause does not condone the anger. Ever. It’s basic Sermon on the Mount doctrine. Only love, kindness and peace are weaponry allowed on the Lord’s side.

So back to me outside the church, tearing the hateful neo nazis stickers to shreds…… as long as I was fighting with anger in me, I realised I will only ever be fighting alone. I can only make a difference, I can only soften hearts, I can only help these refugees with LOVE. No other weapon is fit for the battle.  I could shake my fist  at the heartlessness of the world, but what good will that do for the refugees? I must put aside my often too Gryffindor fiery passion, and exercise all my energy into service. Cursing the sun isn’t going to stop it burning your skin. You have to find shelter to save yourself. Likewise, cursing the bigots is not going to stop the refugees from suffering, I have to go and serve refugees myself.. We all do.

 

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I have a firm, unshakable testimony that the words from our living prophets and apostles are true. They have spoken and have told us to care for the refugees among us. Therefore, if we believe they are the prophets and apostles of the Lord,  we must obey their invitation. We must serve these refugees,  as it’s a  direct invitation from our Saviour and redeemer, Jesus Christ. The very Jesus Christ who, as the premortal Jehovah, commanded the children of Israel “The stranger that dwelleth with you shall be unto you as one born among you, and thou shalt love him as thyself.” This same commandment he gives us today. It will require no small sacrifice on our parts but as Linda L. Burton promised in General Conference “Sometimes reaching out is inconvenient. But when we work together in love and unity, we can expect heaven’s help.”

So, rejoice in the inconvenience. Inconvenience is a sure sign that you are doing the good work of the Lord.. No act of Christlike charity is any great sacrifice ultimately if we but maintain a perspective of eternity. No trial of my mission, no door rudely slammed in my face, no helpless stranger in desperate need of a lift. We must wake from our Eden and think about the souls to save and lives to bless.

Much love and peace,
Äldste Erik Scotter Scott,