The Blessings of Heartbreak

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Moses!
This week, to the visible outsider’s view, was exceptionally good. Moses is all set for baptism, soaking up the gospel like a sponge. We found a plethora of new investigators this week and now do more sit down teaching than anything else, and we had eight investigators in sacrament meeting. Things ought to be sunshine for me, right? But physical good fortune does not always correlate with emotional well being. (Hence why money does not buy you happiness)

This week it felt like the whole world was simply one big heartbreak. As if it finally became too much. It was in large part an accumulated 18 months of emotionally taking in every refugee’s story that I listen to; their slaughtered parents, their slaughtered children, their slaughtered brothers and sisters and wives and husbands. You start to understand a portion of Mormon’s anguish at the genocide of his people that he bleeds out onto the page of Mormon chapter 6. (Really one of the most beautifully heart harrowing passages of holy scripture)

James said in the New Testament;  “Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world.

So, I’ve always figured this is one of my most important purposes out here, if I really want to live my religion and want to follow Christ, but it all just came crashing down on me this week. Every burden from all these shattered wonderful people from the last 18 months just made me snap. It hurts. It really really hurts

For some reason, it seems my whole mission has been working with the most war torn and heart broken of people. But, I got a rather unique response this week while praying; one I was not expecting. I guess I was, in my self centred way, hoping God would say “I know it hurts. Good job. You can stop now and I’ll heal you.” But that was not what I felt when I prayed. Instead, the answer  that came clearly was,  “I know, keep going.”

What?

How can it be the the answer to my prayer was to keep going, when I feel  I can’t?

But,  Heavenly Father is not the sort of parent that smothers and spoils you. He is the parent that loves you more than you can ever comprehend and He knows your potential. He knows that I could continue. He knows I absolutely cannot let myself go hollow. He knows I need to keep my heart out in the open. Why? How can this possibly be for my benefit? Well, without proper knowledge, one would probably think ripping muscles is a stupid thing to do…. But if you do it in the correct way it is what we call weight lifting and that is what builds strong muscles. Same principle applies to the heart. The strongest hearts are those that have been ripped apart and healed through the atonement of Christ. Your capacity to love and your quality of love increases from heartbreaks, because of the heartbreaks. They strengthen you if you apply the right healing methods.

Of course, King Benjamin counsels “And see that all these things are done in wisdom and order for it is not requisite that a man should run faster than he has strength. And again, it is expedient that he should be diligent, that thereby he might win the prize therefore, all things must be done in order.”

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Sometimes we use that as our excuse to do nothing at all. It is the most common scriptural excuse to avoiding charity or any form of sacrifice. Anti-welfare advocates love that scripture, but that is not what King Benjamin is getting at at all. He is saying work with your whole heart but make sure you do not become rendered useless, then you are not much good for anybody. He is not saying, do nothing, live for yourself…..  God did not tell me to take an emotional vacation. He told me to keep going, because He knows my capacity. He knows how much is too much and even though I thought this was too much, He tells me to keep going….. Because this is one of the greatest gifts He can ever give me- a better heart. This may seem like nothing but pain and suffering right now for me but this will give me a better, stronger, purer heart at the end of this.

Sometimes, we forget what is most important in life. It goes deeper than that. The overarching purpose is not just to physically go from point A. to point B. It is to grow. To become more like Christ and the absolute most important thing to grow in obviously is love. Love is the means of obtaining perfection. Love is the fabric of the universe. Love is the why and how to our existence. Therefore, there is nothing more important than growing in our love. I cannot stress this enough. We can get caught up in the fine details but “without charity (we are) nothing.” Truly. Simply. It was therefore base and narrow minded and silly of me this week to want God to say I can just finish feeling love, lock up my heart, and go into robot missionary mode. Love is the reason why I am here. I am here to feel this heartbreak and pain. It isn’t a trial of my missionary experience. It is my missionary experience. It is my purpose. This is what life is for. Tearing my heart apart and healing it up stronger. Not getting bitter. Not getting cold. But seeking healing from the words of God in prayer and scripture study and then going out and loving more. So, when your world seems to only be heartbreak, thank God. This is His way of helping you grow. Keep loving. Not just even when it hurts. Especially when it hurts. Trust in God’s promises. Look to Christ’s example. Always keep loving. I love this gospel. I’d give everything to it.

My mind has been on “The Happy Prince” by Oscar Wilde this week. If you haven’t read this short story—read it, right now. (You can read it online here ) .If you’ve already read it, read it again. I wish I could read it on my mission so very much….but seriously read it, and remember what it is at the end of the story that God values as the greatest two things in the town………and then live your life to be likewise. The paradise of heaven is worth breaking your heart on earth.

Much love,

Ä Scott

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I found my long lost apartment. Strangely the man who answered said it was not my apartment and that he was not all too interested in my message of his salvation.

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The Prince of Egypt

IMG_1968[1]First and foremost, Samir and Roleen, my first ever investigators, my first ever lesson, my first ever baptismal dates, are getting baptised this week. Very few things could make me happier. I knew they were going to be baptised, but it was a matter of when. And when is now!
So 18 months of this missionary stuff under my belt and the transfer call was made and I’m………………staying here.
It is good because we found a whole load of new investigators including a blind lady named Eva, (so cool to teach someone who relies on the tone of our voice rather than the expressions on our face) a wonderfully humble truth seeker named Gosie, whose brother was just killed in war in eastern Africa, and Moses.Moses. Moses. Moses. Miracle miraculous Moses. The hope of Israel!
IMG_2009[1]The Royal Sheep. Seriously, these are the royal sheep. As in, these sheep belong to the King of Sweden. This is the King’s Uppsala palace..

 

 Moses is simply one of those miracles that just happen and you find yourself rather lucky to witness it. He is the sort that is so prepared and so good down to the core that it really does not matter all that much which missionaries teach him, he would accept the gospel and convert to it himself. We could just hand him the Book of Mormon and a few pamphlets and he would do all the work to prepare for baptism…..Of course we will be doing much more than handing him reading materials though. We will be pouring everything into him to build his faith, for a far from ordinary future most certainly awaits such a soul as Moses.
He was born in Eritrea but has been a wandering refugee from that violent dictatorial state just about his entire life. On the way, he lost his mother and now Moses, having ironically moved last from Egypt (it was not a 40 year exodus fortunately) is completely alone in Sweden at age 18. Remnants of his family he believes are in Ethiopia, Eritrea, the Netherlands, etc.. He never has had a normal peaceful life. He literally grew up running. And here is the thing—he is absolutely brilliant. He is fluent in 5 languages, (not just able to communicate….I mean fluent),  is a geography wiz and now he wants to go into theology. And, he is just a good human. Straight down to the core he is goodness. There is a light in his eyes of pure goodness. Despite all that he has been through, or perhaps because of all that he has been through, he is one of the kindest, happiest, deepest and spiritually in touch souls you could ever meet.
So, as we began teaching him he had two questions for us 1. Why are there so many different Christian churches? And 2. Why do we no longer have prophets and miracles like the bible times?
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Yet another district family coming to a close.
 

You could not ask for two better questions to prepare someone for the message of the restored gospel and he just embraced it with joy, with absolute joy. We invited him to be baptised on the 18th of June but we had to change the date…. to the 11th. hahaha. Not a problem for me.
Those last three months of working through nothing but rejection and heartbreak and disappointment finally produced something. It shows how little of it has to do with me. How little is in my power. To take success in the mission as glory on yourself is idiotic…. It is the Lord and the prepared that you find who should receive all the glory. I did not make Moses want to be baptised. I certainly am here to help him be baptised and converted, but ultimately baptism and conversion are in the hands of the Lord and Moses himself. I can hopefully be a tool to help sculpt but never should I take the credit as the artist. As Isaiah asked “Shall the ax boast itself against him that heweth therewith? Shall the saw magnify itself against him that shaketh it?” (Isaiah 10:15)
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So this recent lovely series of rather fortunate events led me to pondering on what, as mortals, is in our control and what is not. To suggest we control everything is commonly agreed upon foolishness. You do not need to look further than the weather forecast and the gambling casinos to see that we, mortals, do not control everything. We can influence, inspire and teach people in a positive light, or we can manipulate, enslave and brainwash people in a negative light, but ultimately it is they themselves who make the change, influenced upon their surroundings but ultimately up to their free agency. But, saying we cannot change people does not mean that every event of our life is outside of our control either. We are not helpless pooh stick just drifting down the preverbal river of the Roman concept of fate. We are, as a better allegory, more of a canoe with paddles. There will come rapids and waterfalls and stones as obstacles in the metaphorical river, and sometimes with the flow of the water, we will meet such dangers and no amount of paddling could prevent such, but more commonly the rapids in this particular river can be avoided by proper paddling in advance to the danger. Often times, when we go through such problems we tend to confuse (or convince ourselves that we are confused) the avoidable rapids with the unavoidable ones. Though Cassius, from William Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar was not much more than a dirty, rotten, slimy, selfish, cowardly villain,  he did offer some wisdom when he observed (and correct this quote if I am wrong mum…. I have no way of looking it up) “the fault, dear Brutus, is not in the stars but in ourselves.”
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The first real Mexican food  in 18 months!
 How often do we blame the stars, or fate, or someone else for our follies? Furthermore, how often do we take all the credit for a blessing that really did come from the stars, was really fate or was due to the actions of someone else? How do we recognise what is our fault or our good work or really just something complete out of our control? I think it has a great deal to do with finding the beautiful balance between humility and self worth.
It is a common, if not almost omnipresent, mistake of mankind to either be too deep in self pity or too deep in self arrogance, that we end up being neither humble nor self valued.  Pride is the adversaries rendering of heaven’s self worth. Self pity is the adversaries rendering of heaven’s humility. It is pride and self pity that masks what good or poor fortunes on the preverbal river of life are our fault or out of our hands. Therefore, it is mastering power over these two that clarifies what we can and cannot control in our life. C.S. Lewis once noted that “humility is not thinking less of yourself, but  thinking of yourself less.” And likewise I cannot think of any better cure for narcissism than getting out of yourself and thinking about others.
So, the cure to these polar plagues is simply what seems to be the cure to almost every spiritual predicament: love. When you serve others, you think less of yourself and so your arrogance goes down, and in turn you find more of yourself, for there is more of yourself to find, and your self worth increases. It must be noted that I am talking about real love and service. It is very possible to do “charitable things” without an ounce of charity, and when the heart is in the wrong place it can even inflate your ego even more, but that is a discourse for another week.
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As for this week, the message is there are things you cannot control, such as the conversion of a soul. You can influence and inspire and teach and these will certainly be key in the conversion process, but ultimately the conversion is in the hands of the convert. Likewise, there are things that we do control that we sometimes deny to ourselves. For example, you can say the mediocrity of your essay was not your fault because you were so busy throughout the week. But, chances are that you could’ve begun the assignment earlier and been more organised with your time. The way of recognising what we do and do not control is through balancing our humility and self worth and denying the presence of self pity and pride to creep in.
And that is the message for this week, folks.
Loving it here in trevlig Svergie.
Much love and peace,
Erik

Raising the Title of Liberty

IMG_1822[1]This week was wonderfully warm! It was summer for a few days, and it was most blissful. I had the delightful opportunity to serve in both Gävle and Uppsala this week in the fantastic weather. Those cities are most beautiful and the people are most kind (probably on account of the weather) and all of it was simply splendid. (Is that too Anne Shirley again for you Jessica?)
Back in Borlänge, we kept on fighting on, but throughout the last several weeks I’ve been awfully troubled and have to return to the topic of bigotry again. I’m sorry…. I have to again…. It seems the reoccurring topic of my mind here in Borlänge, probably because there is a great deal of it in this town particularly and seeing it every day gets under your skin until you have to release it all out in a blog post or some other medium. My medium is the written word. So……….I am a full-time missionary for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and as such I will say no political statement whatsoever……. but I will defend Christian morals….the things I try my best to live and preach every day.

IMG_1818[1]I’m not supposed to report anything negative in emails but when a Nazis banner is hung over the pedestrian tunnel outside your apartment you feel sick to your stomach. When refugee hate slogans are spray painted in the town centre and you meet white supremacist skinheads on the streets, you have a battling mixture of downheartedness and passion to stand against such evil. I can’t simply say nothing. Of course, I am contained within my calling in what I can do about this, but I can’t pretend everything around me is wildflowers and red painted farm houses…. well it is, but under that lovely layer there is a disease growing in the shadows. We thought we killed it with the last Nazis punished for his war crimes……but you can’t kill an idea….and seventy-one years later that sick idea is spreading again because of one of Satan’s greatest tools; fear. There is no ounce of God in the emotion of fear.  Certainly greed, lust, and sheer nihilism are responsible for a great deal of the world’s tragedies, but if Satan cannot get us with the lure of gaining something he most certainly finds power through our fear of losing something. Fear of losing what we hold dear can lead good men to wicked actions. Fear of losing one’s current state of paradise leads nations to bigotry, to war, to holocaust, to genocide, to sins they would never dream of doing just for good sport, but nonetheless find themselves committing under the harness and whip of fear. This increase of white supremacy and neo-Nazis activism in this iron platted factory town has everything to do with fear. This town has a great many refugees. War-torn refugees. They come with their foreign cultures, their foreign customs, and through the lens of narrow minded unchristian selfishness, this invasion of Somalians and Eritreans and Syrians and Iraqis is scary. It will create a most certainly different future. Life will not just be classic peaceful Swedish paradise.

IMG_1871[1]Any act of Samaritanism, whether on a personal or a national level, requires a degree of sacrifice. Good works always require such and life will never be the same again for anyone in perfect presumably problem-free Sweden…… and so fear steals the hearts of some of the people. Orphan refugee camps have been burned down, children have been massacred, and every day the works of darkness grow in numbers and what do I have to say to this dreadful news? I only have to say the words of Albus Dumbledore:

Remember Cedric. Remember, if the time should come when you have to make a choice between what is right, and what is easy, remember what happened to a boy who was good, and kind, and brave, because he strayed across the path of Lord Voldemort. Remember Cedric Diggory.”

IMG_1866[1]Now is the time to stand for the right, raise Moroni’s title of Liberty against bigotry, and “maintain the courage to defy the consensus. (and) Choose the harder right, instead of the easier wrong.” as President Monson put it last General Conference. Remember, Moroni’s title of liberty was not originally crafted against the foreign enemy (the Lamanites) but the oppressive and persecuting within his own people.  We must conquer our fear before we can conquer our enemy. That does not call for fighting fear with fear of fear or holocausting those who wish to holocaust, but it does mean taking a stand, fearlessly. As Elder Patrick Kearon, my area president, said last general conference in regards to bigotry against refugees; “ We must take a stand against intolerance and advocate respect and understanding across cultures and traditions.”  We must be the ensign to the nations as advocates for righteousness, justice, love, charity and our Saviour, Jesus Christ who preached:

“Inasmuch as ye have done it unto the least of these my bretheren, ye have done it unto me.” Otherwise, to our horror, we will discover one day that we are only as the Pharisees who “pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have omitted the weighter matters of the law, judgement, mercy and faith.” (Matt 23:23)

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As of here and now, I must reserve any strong Gryffindor defiance against these death eaters for after my mission and in the meantime smile at the faces of such malicious hate and preach the gospel with my whole heart to all who will listen for as President Ezra Taft Benson preached; “Only the gospel will save the world from the calamity of its own self-destruction. Only the gospel will unite men of all races and nationalities in peace. Only the gospel will bring joy, happiness, and salvation to the human family.”

Sometimes I find myself frustrated that I am not allowed to do more to stand up and advocate against the surrounding evil forces of bigotry and racism but in those times I forget that I really am doing the greatest thing I can possibly do against the works of darkness- I’m spreading the light of the Gospel! And, where any light is lit, darkness must flee.
I am spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ who “inviteth (…) all to come unto him and partake of his goodness; and he denieth none that come unto him, black and white, bond and free, male and female; and he remembereth the heathen; and all are alike unto God, both Jew and Gentile.” (2 Nephi 26:31)
I love my mission, I love the message I have to spread, and I love my Saviour and redeemer Jesus Christ.
Much love and peace,
Äldste Erik Scott

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A Few Things I Learned This Week:

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In Stockholm for training.
  1. I really really miss Bob Marley. I was on an hour long bus ride to a far off fringe town of Dalarna with the driver playing Bob Marley the whole ride and it was incredible how much peace and happiness he spreads through his music. Of course, Mormon tabernacle choir is lovely and all….but 18 months of only being able to choose between Mormon tabernacle choir and Mormon youth pop (which I’d rather not listen to…sorry, we all are entitled to different preferences and “EFY 2008” will never be mine)   and you can do with a little variety.  There truly is power in music. Just as a bad song (whether bad in content or bad in quality) has the ability to force the spirit out of the room and fill you with darkness, angst or irritation, a good song can bring the spirit, uplift, inspire and make even the dreariest of rainy days filled with sunlight. This ability is not limited to the Christian music world. If you watch the “12 steps to Change” addiction recovery videos on Mormon channel (super well done but very heartbreaking and then uplifting) it was the lyrics of “Fix You” by Coldplay.. “lights will guide you home / and ignite your bones / and I will try to fix you” that inspired one addiction-wracked man to begin the repentance and recovery process. Indeed, that very song has helped me through some of my dark days. The gospel can be found through the lyrics written by inspired individuals inside and outside of our faith. There are few powers stronger than quality music.

2. Church policy has changed so I can no longer write about or post pictures of my Muslim or former Muslim friends on this blog in case they may be targeted by extremists and be put in danger. None of the former Muslims I’ve seen baptised or taught have been affiliated with any jihadi extremists so they are all quite safe, but this is a general rule for the entire world so I will honour it. I’ll let you know about how they all are doing and all the wonderful Persians and Arabs I will befriend, after my mission. Until then, for security sake, I will not be able to write about them or post pictures with them.IMG_1717[1]

3. In my personal study, the parable of the sower and the seeds from the 13th chapter of Matthew really came to life for me and had significance on my soul this week.

In the parable the seeds are cast  into four  places- by the wayside, on stony soil, amidst thorns and in good soil. The first seeds by the way side profit nothing, being compared to the people who straight up reject the gospel.

The stony soil Jesus says is, “He that heareth the word, and anon with joy receiveth it, Yet hath he not root in himself, but dureth for a while: for when tribulation or persecution ariseth because of the word, by and by he is offended.”

This can be applied in modern day to falling away from the gospel when we face hardships in life and expect the Lord to magically fix everything and He doesn’t, or leaving the gospel because it is politically incorrect or not what we want it to be and so “persecution ariseth because of the word” so “by and by (they are) offended”.  Essentially, only wanting the things which are personally appealing and rejecting the rest. Or, as C.S. Lewis put it: “Every one is attracted by bits of it and wants to pick out those bits and leave the rest. That is why we do not get much further: and that is why people who are fighting for quite opposite things can both say they are fighting for Christianity.” Which leads to either apostate practicing of Christianity or complete rejection.

And then the seeds choked by thorns;

As Jesus explained “He also that received seed among the thorns is he that heareth the word and the care of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, choke the word, and he becometh unfruitful.” It is the fall of millions and the most constant message of the Book of Mormon. Every mass turning of the people to wickedness in history begins with pride and greed. “but they grew proud, being lifted up in their hearts, because of their exceedingly great riches; therefore they grew rich in their own eyes, and would not give heed to their words, to walk uprightly before God.” (Alma 45:24) Of course, it isn’t really about the amount you have, but rather the percentage you are willing to give away. One can be incredibly wealthy but free of thorns while one can be incredibly poor and encased with thorns…. True, with the increase of wealth comes the increase of temptation, but the heart of the faith destroying thorns is in desires of the heart. True charity is, to quote C.S. Lewis again, when there are “things we should like to do and cannot do because our charitable expenditure excludes them.”  remembering that it isn’t the amount, but the percentage of us we pour in and avoiding Pharisaic charity which C.S. Lewis explains as when “our pride hinders our charity; (and) we are tempted to spend more than we ought on the showy forms of generosity (tipping, hospitality) and less than we ought on those who really need our help.”

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Lots of door knocking…
Finally Jesus speaks of the good soil as “he that received seed into the good ground is he that heareth the word, and understandeth it; which also beareth fruit, and bringeth forth, some an hundredfold,some sixty, some thirty.”

What makes this soil prepared to receive the word and let the seed grow? It is in what they are willing to do for the seed, letting it’s roots sink deep and willing to change their life for it. To sacrifice for it. For as Christ said in a latter parable in the same chapter; ” the kingdom of heaven is like unto treasure hid in a field; the which when a man hath found, he hideth, and for joy thereof goeth and selleth all that he hath, and buyeth that field.”

IMG_1728[1]-2Often, we think for the word to grow we need to be perfect, to love perfectly, to live perfectly……..but that is the fruit of the word, what comes from letting the word grow, not the growth itself…. The growth is in our sacrifice. The stony soil and the thorny soil does not adjust it’s obstacles to let the roots grow and change their composition. Sure, they will let the seed grow, but they are not willing to move their rocks and thorns away so the roots can dig deep. It is when we willing alter our lives, sacrifice our selfish desires, that the roots can grown deep and strong and the fruit of perfection will eventually grow from us.

 

Anyhow, that is all I’ve got for you this week.

Just another week of knocking and contacting and walking and walking and walking and more knocking……..and testimony building.

Much love and peace,

Äldste Scott

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The Greatest Work We Can Do

DSC_8294You know, I am awfully tired of dwelling in self pity. Borlänge continues to be the refiners fire, but this week, that is absolutely okay, if not perfectly and precisely what I need. It takes a great deal of humbling to sculpt me…..but I am getting there! I love this clear view I’ve been given under this beautifully big Dalarna sky.

Mothers’ day is this upcoming week and nowhere is quite like the mission field to bring the full weight of this day upon me. It is in the physical absence that I have come to comprehend but a sliver of the worth of my wonderful mum. There is no being in this universe after my Heavenly parents and Saviour Jesus Christ who is greater to me than my mother (matched only with my equally wonderful father.)  Truly, not until I find my own spouse and become a father will I ever find anyone who means as much to me as my parents…. And not until I create a family for myself will I properly understand the level of love they possess. The love held by parents and within a family is of Heaven. It is not a thing of this earth. As the lovely Avett Brothers sing “always remember there was nothing worth sharing like the love that let us share our name.”…. The love a husband has for his wife, a brother has for his sibling, and above all, a mother has for her child, is the closest form of God’s love for us to witness on the earth. Jeffrey R. Holland put it beautifully when he said “no love in mortality comes closer to approximating the pure love of Jesus Christ than the selfless love a devoted mother has for her child.”

DSC_8336Of course, yes, sadly I cannot pretend that every family shares equal bonds of love. There are increasingly more and more broken homes and severed relationships between spouses, siblings and children with there parents as this world hurtles into the last days. Fatherlessness and motherlessness and fractured family units are growing at such a harrowing rate that it steadily is becoming less of an unfortunate exception and more of a social expectation. The gospel may be practiced in the chapels and temples, but it is in the home that it should be learned. Principles can be taught and applied outside of the family unit most certainly (why else do we have missionaries?) and the sincere service of a single mother or a single father can certainly build children into kind and charitable people.

IMG_1575[1]So, as I continue on talking about my mother, I do not mean to make anyone feel less for any case of parent-child connection cut due to forces beyond their control…. God does not ask us to have perfect families. He simply asks us to love the ones we are given. Maybe you cannot mend your relationship, and would give everything in the world to do so, and you are just like those King Benjamin spoke of who “say in your hearts that: I give not because I have not, but if I had I would give.” And to such I promise that God listens to your prayers and weeps with you, and as surely as you will follow Him, He will provide peace to your soul and you can, somewhere, someday, build the strong loving home you’ve always dreamed of….

But back to my dear mum.  Jesus Christ taught “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” I would like to alter the text ever so slightly to “Greater love hath no woman than this, that a mother lay down her life for her children.” Now, I do not mean that my mother should die for me and my siblings, though she probably willingly would, but she does truly lay down her life for us. She has laid down her life for me for the last 20 years.  She has given her life for me….Set aside her wants for my needs. Sacrificed years of physical, emotional, and spiritual effort, whole heartedly for her children. You see, my mother is brilliant. She could’ve been a successful journalist or any slew of other wonderful things in her life, but selflessly she gave her life to us.

Anyone who degrades a woman for having children and putting them first in her life misunderstands what motherhood is. It isn’t an escape from the world. It isn’t a lifelong vacation for lazy women. It is the highest, noblest, and equally most soul demanding calling upon the face of the earth. It is second only to Godliness. Perhaps there are women out there who ware away their mortal existence on frivolous idleness, while their children are at school, but this minority should not become society’s vision of motherhood and therefore prove to cast a false image on the mothers who far too often are far too unappreciated for the selfless, ceaseless service they render.  It is profane to look at the countless wonderful mothers I know, including my very own mother, and possibly even suggest that being a mother is an easy exit from life’s responsibilities. Such a notion is rejecting the entire plan of salvation. Motherhood is life’s highest responsibility. It is an honour requiring greater character and love than any other occupation conceivable. I cannot ever begin to comprehend the time, energy, patience, passion, and ever flowing love my mother poured  into me, without a care for herself. I repeat myself.  My mum has poured her soul, and certainly has wept, for my welfare. Her life is for me and my siblings.IMG_2414

Of course my appraisal of mothers  does not mean I for once look down upon mothers who work, whether out of necessity or talents that just can’t be left to waste away. The world needs you. Do not step away. We need more woman in all our faculties of society. Just as I ask for no one to look down upon any woman who chooses to sacrifice her selfish desires to be a mother, I ask that no one look down on a mother, dedicated to her family, who works. Just as girls are much too clever to fall out of their prams, as young Peter Pan acknowledged, they are far too clever to be kept in the kitchen. It is, in part, on account of their cleverness that they are intended to be the chief nurturing source for children.  For a woman’s brain has the intellect to the complexity of raising a child properly that I can never have, even with the most full hearted dedication. We need that same intellect in our political, literary, civil, educational and scientific worlds. Leave the world to be run by men and you’ll have the terrible dark ages all over again. We are given talents. We are expected to share them. We need to do all, in order with God, and of course with constant consideration of family first are foremost, to share them.

My mother represents the perfect balance of family and sharing her talents, to me.  She was given the talent of directing theatre and inspiring greatness out of teenagers and used this talent, working long tiresome nights my entire childhood to create the most beautifully directed play productions. In doing so, she changed and blessed hundreds of lives. How did she balance this and raising four children? The key- just as she did not let children be a reason to not add her talents to the world, she did not let her talents be an excuse to neglect her children. We were always the top priority to her. This means the universe to me looking in hindsight. This principle was not only lived by my mother, but by my father. He too always held family before all else. All of us, father or mother, must hold family first.

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With my Mom in Scotland in 2014.

As missions probably often do to missionaries, my mission has given me a greater appreciation for my mother. I cannot understand how she directed multiple plays every year, managed a theatre company, served in her numerous church callings from in young womens to organising yearly girls camp with all it’s complexities, while having four children in ballet, soccer, both Autumn and Spring, cross country, track, trumpet lessons, art lessons, guitar lessons. She taught us  to read, write, cook, ski, think for ourselves, and a whole host of other things, while maintaining a large garden on a large plot of land while raising sheep, goats, chickens, border collies. She turned a 100 year old drafty house in disrepair into a warm, beautiful home, always clean, with the wildest of wind storms and raging tempests trying to beat it down year after year, while battling all degrees of adversity from religious persecution to recently Parkinson’s disease.

She fed us (the best food ever cooked) clothed, cleaned, raised, and taught us, at times being our teacher for all subjects, (except math was left to dad to teach) giving solid time to talk with us, counsel with us, really know us, be our trustworthy friend, inspire us, sacrificing to have us see the world, go to acting seminars, soccer camps, ballet camps, a dozen other expenses, multiple universities and two missions.

Above all and atop everything else, teaching us the Gospel of Jesus Christ in such a way, through her sincere living of it and selfless Christlike service, that she honestly inspired us to follow Christ, not by force or guile or manipulation but by giving us true desire. She stressed how to be civil, humble, virtuous, selfless, polite, brave, charitable, modest, adventurous, knowledgeable, peaceful, avoiding all violence, being spiritually sensitive, holding to faith, serving others, being creative, well read and far from ordinary and loving God with all our heart and equally loving our neighbour as ourself.

How did she do it and is still doing it? She is, alongside my dad, my greatest hero and I cannot fully express my love for her and her infinite love for us. Who I am today is thanks to many people including church leaders, school teachers, siblings and other family members, my dear father and most of all, my mother. From the temporal things such as a love for the Beatles, Bob Dylan, Shakespeare, Scotland and quality classical literature, to the eternal things such as faith, hope, charity, and goodness. The two people I must thank are my parents and on this week most especially my mother.

DSC_8367To all mothers everywhere, both grandmothers, young mothers and future mothers, and above all, my own beloved mother, I hold you with the highest of respect. Each and every mother who earnestly is doing her best to love her family and help her children is beyond the mere comparison of angelic. I miss my mom.  I love her infinitely, and I am so very excited to skype her next Sunday.

In the words of one of my favourite human beings, who wisely understood who are the most important of human beings: ” Homemaker is the ultimate career. All other careers exist for one purpose only — to support the ultimate career!”  -C.S. Lewis

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