Hey! Had a really good week this week! I am so excited for this next week cause there are so many things going on! Okay to give you the run down of this last week, it was pretty hectic! Haha missionary life, hectic? what? Believe it! We found a few more investigators, which is awesome. A couple and a young girl who's friend is in the ward! Okay to the really crazy stuff..... So we went over to Diana and Tony's house on Tuesday and talked about their baptismal logistics and stuff. They told us they couldn't get baptized on the 13th cause Tony was going out of town. So we were like oh shoot and no we don't want to push it back another week. But they both said they wanted to push it up a week so they are getting baptized this week on the 6th! What?!?! Yup.... So we were all just high fiving and yelling, (just kidding that's what I wanted to do!) Very spiritual and awesome moment for all of us. Then they asked me if I would baptize them, and I was like heck ya! Then I realized that we kind of have an unwritten rule in our mission where our mission president wants the investigators to be baptized by members so they have a friend in the ward, and they told us they had plenty of friends! So we called our mission president and asked, he said it was cool, so I’m on top of the world stoked right now as you could probably imagine! Then to put the icing on the cake we get to go to the temple on Wednesday! So I'm pretty excited for this next week, it’s going to be sweet!
We had an awesome lesson last night with a family in our ward named the McCaffery's. They are one awesome family. They also had Leo's parents over (Brother McCaffery's parents) who are not members. The lesson went great! We talked about the Character of Christ, and for my message this week I just want to write down some of the things we talked about. First I shared a story from the talk by Elder Bednar (and its kinda long but I promise that as you read it, your heart will be touched, as ours was).
Let me now briefly share with you two memorable experiences from my service as a stake president that highlight the relationship between our actions and a Christlike character.
Early one summer morning I was showering. My wife called to me in the middle of my shower and indicated that I was needed immediately on the telephone. (This was before the day of cell and cordless phones). I quickly put on my robe and hurried to the phone. I next heard the voice of a dear sister and friend informing me of a tragic automobile accident that had just occurred in a remote area involving three teenage young women from our stake. Our friend indicated one of the young women had already been pronounced dead at the scene of the accident and that the two other young women were badly injured and presently were being transported to the regional medical center in Fayetteville. She further reported that the identity of the deceased young woman was not yet known. There was urgency in her voice, but there was no panic or excessive alarm. She then asked if I could go to the hospital, meet the ambulance when it arrived, and assist in identifying the young women. I answered that I would leave immediately.
During the course of our telephone conversation and as I listened to both the information being conveyed and the voice of our friend, I gradually became aware of two important things. First, this friend's daughter was one of the young women involved in the accident. Our friend lived approximately 35 miles from the hospital and therefore needed the assistance of someone who lived closer to the city. Second, I detected that the mother simultaneously was using two telephone handsets--with one in each hand pressed to each of her ears. I became aware that as she was talking with me, she was also talking with a nurse at a small rural hospital who had initially attended to the three accident victims. Our friend was receiving updated information about the condition of the young women in the very moment she was informing me about the accident and requesting my help. I then heard one of the most remarkable things I have ever heard in my life.
I faintly heard the nurse telling this faithful mother and friend that the young woman pronounced dead at the scene of the accident had been positively identified as her daughter. I could not believe what I was hearing. I was listening to this good woman in the very moment that she learned of the death of her precious daughter. Without hesitation, and with a calm and most deliberate voice, our friend next said, "President Bednar, we must get in contact with the two other mothers. We must let them know as much as we can about the condition of their daughters and that they will soon be in the hospital in Fayetteville." There was no self-pity; there was no self-absorption; there was no turning inward. The Christlike character of this devoted woman was manifested in her immediate and almost instinctive turning outward to attend to the needs of other suffering mothers. It was a moment and a lesson that I have never forgotten. In a moment of ultimate grief, this dear friend reached outward when I likely would have turned inward.
I then drove to the hospital with a concern in my heart for the well-being of the two other beautiful young women who had been involved in the accident. Little did I realize that the lessons I would learn about Christlike character--lessons taught by seemingly ordinary disciples--were just beginning.
I arrived at the hospital and proceeded to the emergency room. After properly establishing who I was and my relationship to the victims, I was invited into two different treatment areas to identify the injured young women. It was obvious that their respective wounds were serious and life threatening. And the lovely countenances and physical features of these young women had been badly marred. Within a relatively short period of time, the two remaining young women died. All three of these virtuous, lovely, and engaging young women--who seemed to have so much of life in front of them--suddenly had gone home to their Eternal Father. My attention and the attention of the respective families now shifted to funeral arrangements and logistics.
A day or so later, in the midst of program planning and detail arranging for the three funerals, I received a phone call from the Relief Society president of my home ward. Her daughter had been one of the victims in the accident, and she and I had talked several times about her desires for the funeral program. This faithful woman was a single mother rearing her only child--her teenage daughter. I was especially close to this woman and her daughter having served as both their bishop and stake president. After reviewing and finalizing several details for the funeral of her daughter, this good sister said to me, "President, I am sure it was difficult for you to see my daughter in the emergency room the other day. She was severely injured and disfigured. As you know, we will have a closed casket at the funeral. I have just returned from the funeral home, and they have helped my daughter to look so lovely again. I was just wondering . . . why don't we arrange a time when we can meet at the mortuary and you can have one last look at her before she is buried. Then your final memories of my daughter will not be the images you saw in the emergency room the other day." I listened and marveled at the compassion and thoughtfulness this sister had for me. Her only daughter had just been tragically killed, but she was concerned about the potentially troublesome memories I might have given my experience in the emergency room. In this good woman I detected no self-pity and no turning inward. Sorrow, certainly. Sadness, absolutely. Nevertheless, she reached outward when many or perhaps most of us would have turned inward with sorrow and grief.
Let me describe one final episode related to these three tragic deaths. On the day of her daughter's funeral, this Relief Society president from my home ward received a phone call from an irritated sister in our ward. The complaining sister had a cold and did not feel well, and she basically chewed out the Relief Society president for not being thoughtful or compassionate enough to arrange for meals to be delivered to her home. Just hours before the funeral of her only child, this remarkable Relief Society president prepared and delivered a meal to the murmuring sister.
We appropriately and rightly speak with reverence and awe of young men who sacrificed their lives to rescue stranded handcart pioneers and of other mighty men and women who repeatedly gave their all to establish the Church in the early days of the Restoration. I speak with equal reverence and awe of these two women--women of faith and character and conversion--who taught me so much and instinctively reached outward when most of us would have turned inward. Oh how I appreciate their quiet and powerful examples.
I noted earlier in my remarks that the letters A, C, and T form a central component in the word character. Also noteworthy is the similarity between the words character and charity--as both words contain the letters C, H, A, and R. Etymologically there is no relationship between these two words. Nevertheless, I believe there are several conceptual connections that are important for us to consider and ponder.
My Notes: In essence the Character of Christ is the service of others. Never was there a moment when Christ thought about himself, but constantly looked outward. He literally took on the pains and sicknesses of the world. He may have been scared, we know that He was definitely not looking forward to it, but in His hour of agony and tribulation, He thought of others rather than thinking of himself. He thought of others and prayed for them. That is the Character of Christ, looking outward when the only option seems to be to look inward.
"Recognizing that He himself was about to intensely and personally experience the absence of both comfort and peace, and in a moment when His heart was perhaps troubled and afraid, the Master reached outward and offered to others the very blessing that could and would have strengthened Him."
The fact of the matter is that in times of stress, times of discomfort, and crucial moments when anyone else would have thought of themselves He thought of others.
Selflessness, That is the Character!
That is the Character I want, I need, I desire. The greatest service we can give to our Father in Heaven is the selfless act of Missionary work. Bring those that are lost back into the fold. As we are in the service of our fellow man surly we are in the service of our God.
"Perhaps the Greatest indicator of Character is the capacity to recognize and appropriately respond to other people who are experiencing the very challenge or adversity that is most immediately and forcefully pressing upon us."
We have all heard the quote "it is 10% of the time the things that happen to us, and 90% of the time how we react to it.” So the question is, are we responding to the 10% appropriately? Do we recognize what needs to be done? I think we know what we need to do we just do not act upon it. Are we agents of Action or are agents to be acted upon. The Savior knew His weaknesses he just knew what needed to be done. I hope that we can each reflect and adjust to have a more Christ Centered character. I know that as we do, our yoke's will be easy and our burdens will be light. In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.
Love, Elder Shouse