This week was a good one. Yesterday, Jose received the priesthood and will be going to the temple on Wednesday!! So cool!!
AND ONE YEAR AGO TODAY REBECA AND CHRISTOPHER WERE BAPTIZED! I am soooooooo excited to go to the temple with Rebeca on Saturday!
The Silver Lakes sister (that live with us) white-washed in so it is a party every night.
The part of the week that I wanted to share is from yesterday. A brother stood up to give a talk and briefly mentioned the experience Christ had with the woman taken in adultery. He took it one direction, but a domino effect took place in my head and I remembered that Christ said that whoever was without sin could cast the first stone. Everyone else walked away because they knew that they too were imperfect and sinful. But Christ also refused to throw a stone. And He, according to the law, was justified in doing so because He was without sin.
It hit me really hard that I never have any right or justification in holding a grudge or belittling someone else because no matter how right I think I am a. I'm probably wrong and b. I should just get over it.
Okay, that's a lot more eloquent when I explain it in more detail but I'm down to 3 minutes sooo...sorry about not dividing the time properly. haha.
I also liked a quote by an apostle I didn't get the name of: "patience is resisting the impulse to catagorize someone".
I love you all! I promise I'll explain things better in person.
This week was AWESOME! The highlight of the week was definitely watching Jose be baptized. Before the baptism we went out to dinner at Olive Garden and it was simply incredible to see the load that has been lifted off of him in the past month and a half. On Sunday, after he was confirmed, he stood and gave each man in the circle a hug. It was beautiful.
I've already said how much I loved women's conference last month, but this week as I've been re-reading the talks, I was hit all over again by the story shared from Mark 14:6,8..." She hath wrought a good work, she hath done what she could." I love that God doesn't ask us to change the world. He asks us to serve where we are, to do what we can, and to love those around us. It is those small moments of selflessness that shift the tide and change everything.
I also liked a quote from Carlos E. Asay in his devotional talk "Heavenly Powers"...."Peace of conscious is synonymous with joy. (See Alma 29:5)" Man, is that true!!! It does not matter what is happening around you, if you know you are good with God you can find peace and happiness. I have seen that more than ever on my mission.
Transfer calls came yesterday and I am staying in Pines for another transfer and "killing" Sister Abad (meaning that I will be her last companion before she goes home). That means that I will probably serve in this ward until I go home...weird!!! I am excited though. I love this ward and I am excited to see what happens!
I love you all tons! Have a good week!
-Sister Bren Scadden
Happy Mothers' Day to my amazing mom and grandmas and happy birthday to my fantastic dad! I love celebrating Mothers' day and my dad's birthday together every year because it makes me doubly grateful to have the parents that I do.
This week I had to stop the car to allow a peacock to cross the road. Only in Pines. haha.
I also got to spend a day with my hijita, Sis. Soza in Lauderhill!!!! I absolutely loved it! My jaw started hurting about 3 hours into the day from speaking Spanish so much. I haven't done that in a long time. But it was super good to be with Spanish members again and to catch up with Sis. Soza and meet all her Chilian families that she is so excited to be with. I also met someone who just came from BYU and talked to Sis. Bradley (Melanie, whatever your name is now. ;)) two weeks ago!
We also had an awesome MLC this week. Every time we have a training, I am grateful all over again for the chance I have to be surrounded by so many humble and hard-working people. We talked about the importance of talking to everyone, while acknowledging and respecting their agency and being excited about all the opportunities we have to help people understand more about the gospel, even if they do not immediately accept.
I am re-reading and studying the past general conference and liked a quote shared in the women's session:
"I desire the Spirit of God to know and understand myself, that I might be able to overcome whatever tradition or nature that would not tend to my exaltation." -Emma Smith There is a great power in acknowledging our weaknesses and shortcomings and working to overcome them.
I love you all so much!
(NOTE FROM MOM: Hopefully we will get pictures today and I'll add them once we do. I'm not holding my breath as it has been 3 weeks since I've gotten any.)
So earlier this transfer S. Abad pointed out that I am the absolute worst at saying "Bless you" when someone sneezes...I just don't do it. I have no idea why. It is so bad that she will sneeze, look at me, and I'll say "Are you okay?" My brain does not connect that a sneeze=say bless you. It's a problem. So it has turned into her counting the number of times every day that I do not say it, and doing burpees at night according to how many I missed.
I am also trying to teach S. Abad Spanish, which has been really good because by teaching it, I am reviewing it and it is helping me retain some of it (which is good because I will be with S. Soza tomorrow and she will kill me if my Spanish is not up to par. haha)
But anyway, this week was AWESOME! We did a zone-wide exchange on Friday and I got to be with S. Haws, who is a boss. We had the craziest day ever but it was awesome. Then on Saturday we met with Joe, who we've been teaching the whole transfer. He has read almost all of the Book of Mormon and can't stop talking about how much more peace he has. We've been reminding him every lesson that he needs to get his own answer and he told us that he has! Then we told him at the end of our lesson that we wanted to take him on a temple tour sometime in the next week. (The temple is at the edge of our area. :D) His response: "Perfectly well. Why not today? Let's go. Right now." Us: ....."We need to leave for some other appointments, what about tonight?" Him: "Perfectly well. I'll tell you what I'm going to do. I'll take my grandkids to McDonald's and then buy you two some water to put in your car because you need water, and then we will go."
Needless to say, the next 3 hours were spent frantically trying to find a member that was willing to a temple tour with us so last minute. We prayed really hard and finally found someone that could do it, and at 7 we met the member and Joe at the temple. It was absolutely incredible and I was overwhelmed with gratitude for my mission. Joe has basically been teaching himself this weekend and is only wants to learn more. He looked at us and said "I understand. This (the temple) is your goal for me. It is a sacred place. It is my goal too. I will be here." The sun was setting behind the temple and it was beautiful. Moments like that remind me not only why I am on a mission, but also why I am on the earth.
But wait. It gets better. Joe came to church for the first time yesterday and it was fast and testimony meeting. We explained that to Joe and he said "I'll just sit here quietly and listen." It was one of those meetings with a lot of breaks as people hesitated going up, but then Joe turns to me and double checks the bishop's name. Then he stands. And walks to the front. And goes up to the pulpit. AND THEN HE SHARED HIS TESTIMONY AND ALL THAT HAS HAPPENED TO HIM THE PAST MONTH! It was one of the greatest moments of my mission so far. After he stood up, suddenly all the members wanted to share their testimony. haha. It was amazing.
Lastly, I wanted to share some scriptures I read this morning that hit me really hard. When I left on my mission, my stake president shared Alma 17 with me. It is about the sons of Mosiah leaving on their missions. In Alma 26 they all meet up again and talk about what has happened during the course of their mission. Ammon says in vs 3 that the greatest blessing they have been given is the chance to be instruments in the hands of God. Then he says:
5 Behold, the field was ripe, and blessed are ye, for ye didthrust in the sickle, and did reap with your might, yea, allthe day long did ye labor; and behold the number of your sheaves! And they shall be gathered into the garners, that they are not wasted.
6 Yea, they shall not be beaten down by the storm at the last day; yea, neither shall they be harrowed up by the whirlwinds; but when the storm cometh they shall be gathered together in their place, that the storm cannot penetrate to them; yea, neither shall they be driven with fierce winds whithersoever the enemy listeth to carry them.
7 But behold, they are in the hands of the Lord of the harvest, and they are his; and he will raise them up at the last day.
I loved these verses a lot because it is a promise that all those I care about will be cared for by the Lord. He will guide them and protect them in the same way that he guides and protects me. My job is to "labor all the day long" and His job is to "raise them up".
I love you all tons!! Have a good week!! I'm excited to see my family is 6 days! ;)
-Sister Bren Scadden
This week was super good. I got to spend lunch with Sis. Soza and Sis. Cottrell one day which was great! A new Spanish branch broke off from our ward at the beginning of the transfer so we have been working hard to get the ward list sorted out and help the Silver Lakes branch know what missionary work they have.
We've also continued teaching the man I talked about last week. He is awesome! We asked him to read Alma 40 to answer some of his questions on resurrection and he read through Alma 51! He is really engaged and I love watching him find answers to things he has wondered for a long time. Teaching is the greatest!
Also, I got a letter from S. Gailey this week and she told me that they had a bible referral come through for someone S. Morrow and I knocked into and shared a prayer with! I have thought about her a lot and I am so glad she re-connected with the missionaries and was able to go to church. She has a baptismal date!!
The lesson I wanted to share this week happened in Panda Express. Our meal appointment had to cancel and we were pretty far from our house, so we decided to go to Panda Express. When we walked in, the staff was obviously overwhelmed because someone had not shown up for work. The manager asked one of the guys to call someone in, so the guy was in the corner quickly making phone calls. The manager yelled at him to come back and was super stressed. I saw irritation briefly cross the guys face but then he came back to the counter with the biggest smile and proceeded to calmly single-handedly put the shift back in order while also making every single customer feel listened to and patient. Meanwhile, all around him, the manager was going crazy and did not look like he was enjoying work very much.
So thank you, Panda Express guy, for teaching me the power of staying calm and letting go of offenses instead of holding a grudge. He had plenty of people to be irritated with- the person who missed their shift, his manager, the complaining customers, etc. But instead he just peacefully went about doing what he could, controlling what he could, and brushing off the rest. Props.
With that, I re-read an account of Joesph Smith this week. A woman came to him upset about rumors another woman was spreading about her, because she felt they were untrue. His advice to her was to go home and think about the rumor. Could she think of ANYTHING she had done to provoke it? Was there anything she had said or done that could have been mis-construed to become the rumour? Joseph said that if he had truly searched and could not find anything, he brushed it off and moved on because the truth would sort itself off and he was good with God. However, if he did find something, even if it was small, he was grateful instead of angry because he was now aware of a weakness or fault he did not know he had, and could now fix.
Isn't that the greatest attitude ever? It is something I am working to apply to my life and I have already seen a difference! It is the best.
I love you all so much and hope you have a good week!!!
-Sister Bren Scadden
How is everyone doing?? Ready for school to be out?
This week we got to do service at a wildlife sanctuary called Flamingo Gardens. It is the coolest place of all time. There were peacocks just walking around..which is actually pretty common in all of Florida, oddly enough. There are huge trees and basically it's the best service in all the mission.
I also got to spend a say with Sister Jess, who was trained by my last companion. We live together and she is a real bro. We had a super good day together and prayed with a woman who recently lost her husband. I am also excited to get to spend a day with my "daughter" Sis. Soza during this transfer. :) :)
We are currently teaching a man that we OYMed while contacting a referral and he is super cool! We are having an FHE with him tonight.
A personal commitment that I will be working on this week comes from a BYU Devotional (Seriously, those things are the greatest!) I am going to be working on improving my prayers and asking "What can I do to...?" instead of "Please bless me that..." I liked a quote from the same talk:
"Instead of murmuring, Nephi simply went to work and made another bow. Murmuring wastes time, lengthens one's journey, and hardens one's heart. God may not always stop bows from breaking, but he does always help in the construction of new ones." -Dennis L. Largey
So, stop complaining and work on what YOU can control!
Love you all tons!
I absolutely loved conference this weekend, and I don't have much time, so I am going to get to the point.
I sustain the leaders of this church. I don't believe they are perfect, but I have watched them give their lives to the cause of bettering the world. And after serving a mission, I can understand in some very, very, very small sliver the absolute exhaustion they face. And what I do is easy compared to them, and I'm doing it in the body of a 20 year old. I don't care if you don't support all of the doctrine of the gospel, you have to respect that these men have devoted their ENTIRE lives to lifting people up and making this world a better place. I believe that they are prophets. I believe that God talks to them, because God has spoken to me. I know that revelation is a real and current and modern thing. And I know that God's love is available to all.
A common theme I saw in conference was daily conversion. I LOVED Elder Renlund's talk about Laman, Lemuel, and Nephi. He said that Lamen and Lemuel "dared to demand answers to questions they had not asked." To all the people that are frustrated at church doctrine, or church history, or church people: Laman and Lemuel said that "God did not speak to them." But they didn't ask the right sources....they never went to God! I'll be the first to agree with you that there are aspects that are over my head. There are things I would have done differently, and there are plenty of people that I want to sit down and yell at because they are missing the whole point of church!
However, I also know that despite all my efforts, there are several people that could hand you a list of my faults. The times that I messed up, didn't have the appropriate perspective, or didn't act according to what I know and believe to be true. How can I possibly hold someone else to a standard I cannot hold myself? I would bawl for days if someone I have taught on my mission found something in my past, or a flaw in what I said while teaching them, and walked away from all that is good and true in the church simply because of me! I am not the gospel! I am someone that is trying to follow my Savior and someone that fails at it every single day. But through my failures I have come closer to Jesus Christ. I have felt peace when everything screams at me to give up and give in. I have felt hope. I have felt direction and received specific answers.
I guess what all of these all-over-the-place thoughts are trying to say is that The Church is not true, but the gospel is. There is a huge, and very important difference in that. As I have come to believe that the gospel is true, my desire to be active in the church has increased because the church is where I get to practice, and mess-up, and re-practice the gospel! And it is where I get to serve others as they too practice, mess-up, and re-practice the gospel. It no longer bothers me when members say something I don't agree with or are hypocritical in their approach because I recognize that I have also been that member that lacked perspective.
I wanted to also share a letter from Hugh B. Brown (when this letter was written he was an apostle) that my mom and dad sent me at the beginning of my mission. I read it about every other week because it has reshaped my testimony and it helped me know where I could re-build my foundation. I hope it helps someone else.
I was really glad to get your letter of October 25, and I appreciate your confidence. The revelation of your mental and spiritual struggles does not come as a surprise, as I had felt for some time that the waters of your usually placid soul had become somewhat roiled and disturbed.
Would you be surprised if I should tell you that I, too, have had periods of perplexity, uncertainty, and doubt; that I, too, have known the darkness, fogginess, and chill of the valley which lies between illuminated peaks of faith and confidence, and that only the memory of the hilltops along the road over which I have come coupled with the somewhat misty vision of others still ahead has given me the courage to plod on when I was tempted to “chuck it all,” to wrap myself in the comfortless blanket of doubt and self-commiseration and just quit the field. Well I have had that experience. But this I can say positively, that each peak which I have climbed has seemed higher and more inspiring than the last, due at least in part, I think, to the dark background of the valley through which I came. Sharp contrasts are sometimes most revealing.
In view of the above admission, you will not expect an argument or a brief on faith in God and immortality. However, and I hope it may be so, a relating of some personal experiences and observations may give you a fellow-feeling and bring comfort, courage, hope, and faith, may renew in you the spirit of adventure, of zest for the quest of truth.
First, I have found that periods of doubt and skepticism, of negative reactions and disbelief have always been characterized by darkness, refrigeration of spirit, pettiness, cynicism, and general misery, even to a point of wishing for oblivion. Whereas, periods of faith, hope, and positive reactions have been times of buoyancy and cheerfulness filled with a desire to be and to become, to lift and encourage, and to point with confidence to something even more about to be. Here, life had cadence and lilt and zest and value, and I gloried in the thought that I could extend these benefits and joys and possibilities to my children.
From the selfish standpoint of personal satisfaction then, I have chosen to swim in the clear, cool stream of faith rather than wallow in the turbid, enervating, stagnant swamp of doubt and cynicism. In other words, faith pays dividends of joy as we go along.
I like Fosdick’s definition of faith: “Faith is vision to believe what as yet one cannot demonstrate and valor to act on the basis of that insight.”
At times I have had to take myself in hand and command my knees to bend, my head to bow, my spirit to become contrite. But of this I bear witness, that I have beheld more distant vistas when on my knees than when standing upright. Somehow the bending of the knee has seemed to open the shutters of the soul and to bring the lens of faith into focus.
Many more before you and I have wondered if praying were not merely a soliloquy and its only answer the echo of its sound. On the other hand, however, prayer has been a vital principle–the central faith of millions of noble men and women. The fact that it has been an age-long rapture certainly attests its value–it endures. It’s faithfully recurrent like the sunrise. It’s not a private vagary nor is it mere wishful thinking or rationalizations. I have come through my own experiences with the conviction that prayer is comradeship with God; indeed, I doubt if I could have endured some recent experiences if I had not had that refuge.
As to whether there is in fact a God, I shall not argue. But I, like you, have looked about me and seen the myriad evidence of plan and purpose and design and have chided myself for ever doubting the existence of the Designer.
I am told, and there seems to be ample evidence to support it, that matter is indestructible, that it is eternal. As a youth, if I had been told by my teacher in school that the desk on which I wrote was indestructible, and then when the schoolhouse burned had seen the mocking ashes where my desk had been, I doubtless would have lost faith in my teacher. Clearly, and before me, was the evidence of his folly. But later in High School and University, where in the laboratory, I learned how to catch and weigh the gases, oils, and ashes that resulted from burning wood and found that the process of burning had not in fact destroyed anything, I concluded that my youthful skepticism was but evidence of the narrow limits of my knowledge. From then on, humility bade me hesitate before questioning the truths which witnesses of research and observation had established. My questing soul still questions, but my questions had to do with ways and means of deciphering and getting at the truth and finding the relationship between observation and intuition, between knowledge and faith.
There are many things I cannot explain, there are many things I cannot understand, but of this one thing I am positively sure, that God does live, that death will not end my conscious existence. I cannot bring myself to believe that while my desk, mere inanimate matter as it is, is indestructible, that far more valuable, in fact the most valuable thing I know, human personality and love, is but transitory and temporary and must be destroyed and come to an end when I cease to react physically to my surroundings in this world.
The little logic I have mastered, what little knowledge I have gained forbids me to accept the hypothesis that individuality will entirely be wiped out.
Just why God does not move closer to me or enable me to come closer to him, that through my physical senses I may apprehend him, I do not know. But this I know, He has so tuned my spirit that I am sensitive to and respond when certain impulses emanate from Him.
I assume that if the unborn babe could speak, he would rebel at the prospect of birth; he would say, “I cannot live if you take me out of my present environment beneath my mother’s heart. My life is so definitely a part of her life that if you separate us I am sure I will die and cease to be.” And yet, that babe, when born, finds himself in an environment suited to his undeveloped organs and functions. He finds that someone has made provision for his coming, that there is water and food and air to satisfy his stomach and lungs which, though present, were not needed in his pre-natal state.
I wonder if when we die, we are in fact just born into another sphere. Personally, I am quite content to leave the outcome with the same good God who made provisions for my coming here, and personally I believe that I might have certain spiritual organs which will function fully only when I am born into an environment suited to them.
Well, this letter is already much too long. I promised at the beginning that I would not argue, and yet I fear that I have verged at least onto the edge of argument. I want you to know, my dear son and brother, that I am intensely interested in your future. I believe that the violent attacks that have been made on your faith, upon your reasoning powers, upon the hope you have held in the past were made as a test. I firmly believe that you have an unusual future, and that because of your possibilities, the Adversary, and I think there is an Adversary, is making a determined attack upon you. I know you too well to feel that you will give up and quit the field while that attack is on. I counsel you to assume the positive attitude in your talks to others, that you undertake to convince them of the reality of the things in which you have believed, that you search for evidence to support that faith, and I think you will be surprised to find that there is far more evidence in support of faith than can be marshalled to support the negative side.
I look forward to the time when we can visit again, and hope it may be possible to get together often, as I have appreciated your comradeship and association in the past. My love to your wife and baby and to you, and may God bless you to see through the fog and glimpse the sunshine.
Sincerely your friend and brother,
Hugh B. Brown
Moral of the story: I thought a lot this conference about needing to once again re-evaluate my own conversion and remind myself that I am converted to God. I gained a relationship with God by pouring out my soul to Him in prayer, spending countless hours in the scriptures trying to understand Him, asking questions when I did not understand (I have a huge testimony of asking questions!) and then ultimately choosing to believe. And I have felt an inexpressible amount of happiness and guidance in my life as I have made that choice.
I hope I can continue to make that choice, and that all of you can too.
I love you all a lot!! Miss you tons!
-Sister Bren Scadden
P.S. I am transferring! That's a bit of news! I am going to Pines, north of Miami. My companion is Sis. Abad from the Philippians. I am super excited, but sad to leave PSL. I have absolutely loved it here and can't wait to come back!