January 6, 2020


Punto Mogotes, Mar del Plata


Elder Harz

Elder Ben: my midlife crisis

This week I turn 20.......

And I only have six months left........

I´m just now consolidating all of this in my head. I sometimes think of the mission as life in miniature, and I think that I'm either going through my mid-life crisis a little late or I ́m just looking back and realizing that youth doesn´t last forever:

Nature´s first green is gold,
her hardest hue to hold.
Her early leaf´s a flower,
but only so an hour.
Then leaf subsides to leaf,
then Eden sank to grief.
So dawn goes down to day.
Nothing gold can stay.

-Robert Frost

I went on divisions this week with a leader who has a year and a month. He's only four months younger than I am, but he has the energy of a brand new up´n coming missionary. As I worked alongside him, I saw that he passed up no opportunity to serve, from pushing a woman in a wheelchair to picking up trash. He didn't just hand out pass-along cards, he connected with people and invited them to take actions that would bring them closer to Jesus Christ. In short, he was doing what missionaries should do.

I understand that people are given different gifts, but being there I wanted to be more like him. Several times I felt prompted to share with someone, but I kept walking, excusing the prompting. That was the point when he ́d turn around, having felt the nudge too, and share with them. Even when the person didn't listen, the attempt would lead to the next in a trail of spontaneous circumstances in which God used us to bless His children in small and powerful ways. Finally, I decided to take part in what was clearly a train of miracles, and I talked to a family that rationally speaking wouldn't even have called my attention. We ended up talking to them for more than an hour and setting an appointment for another visit there.

I'm convinced that the lesson that God had for me that day was that the only difference between him and I that day (at least at first) was that he had prepared himself to work alongside the spirit, and I wasn't prepared to listen at that moment. I had walked a long while and was missing opportunities that God was placing right under my nose. Never miss an opportunity to serve.

As for the poem I shared, I want to talk about the word restoration. To restore is not to renovate. Renovation throws out the old and builds something new, but restoration puts things back as they were. A great example of this is Jesus healing Lazarus, who had fallen prey to death, one of the key obstacles that we face in life. If you read the poem with the frame of gold as our fragile mortal life, it depicts the fall from lively to dead. Truly, nothing gold can stay...without help. On our own, we shrivel as the second law of thermodynamics tolls in our ears that one day, all we have and all we are will be gone. Dust.

Now consider the poem again, but instead of death, depict it around the loss of purity. A clear pond dirtied, a fabric stained. Once again, that golden light evades us. Restoration: back to what it was. Jesus Christ restores us. It should be impossible to return to gold, but through grace, it isn ́t. There is hope. We can obtain the wisdom of a fallen raindrop and still live among the clouds. God really does love us. This is his work. Gold can stay.

With love, Elder Sheffer


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