Tuesday, October 30, 2012

The Captain of Thy Soul

I memorized a poem by Orson F. Whitney. I thought you might like it. It is a reply to the Poem “Invictus” by William Henley and is titled “The Soul's Captain”. President Monson also likes it and related a little more about it. I'll post President Monson's remarks below the poem.

Art thou in truth? Then what of him
Who bought thee with his blood,
Who plunged into devouring seas
And snatched thee from the flood

Elder Record in a Fairbanks Autumn
Who bore for all our fallen race
What none but him could bare
That God who died that man might live
And endless glory share

Of what avail, thy vaunted strength
Apart from his vast might
Pray that His light may pierce the gloom
That thou mayest see aright.

Men are as bubbles on the wave
As leaves upon the tree
Thou, captain of thy soul? Forsooth,
Who gave that place to thee

Free will is thine – free agency
To wield for right or wrong
But thou must answer unto him
To whom all souls belong

Bend to the dust that “head unbowed”
Small part of life’s great whole
And see in him and him alone
The captain of thy soul.

When I was a boy, my father would offer me a coin now and again to memorize a poem or a piece of scripture. Memorization was easy then. It is well nigh impossible now.

I remember his offering me 25 cents to memorize William Ernest Henley’s poem “Invictus.” I can still remember it. I will repeat two verses:

Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the Pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.

It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll,
I am the master of my fate;
I am the captain of my soul.

(R. J. Cook, comp., One Hundred and One Famous Poems [1923], 95)

It is a great poem. It places upon the individual the responsibility for what he does with his life. Through these many years, when I have been faced with difficult choices I have repeated these stirring words.

But on the other hand, it may sound arrogant and conceited in terms of the Atonement. Orson F. Whitney, of the Quorum of the Twelve of many years ago, so regarded it and wrote a marvelous response using the same poetic meter and entitling his verse “The Soul’s Captain.”

I repeat three of the verses from his writing.

Art thou in truth? Then what of him
Who bought thee with his blood?
Who plunged into devouring seas
And snatched thee from the flood?

Free will is thine—free agency,
To wield for right or wrong;
But thou must answer unto him
To whom all souls belong.

Bend to the dust that head “unbowed,”
Small part of life’s great whole!
And see in him, and him alone,
The Captain of thy soul.

(Improvement Era, May 1926, 611)" [as Quoted in Ensign, Feb 2011, First Presidency Christmas Devotional: “My Redeemer Lives”]

I love Alaska.  I love Fairbanks. It's snowing quite a bit. It's snowing pretty heavy right now. Life is good.  Snow is awesome.  And the cold isn't that bad.  I have a warm coat and am taking my vitamins.  I'm happy, healthy, and strong =).

Elder Record 2nd from the right and his Fairbanks district.
This week we had a pretty good day Saturday. We had a zone tract in the morning from ten until noon. We were in our area this time. It was pretty fruitful. We got nine referrals from the other missionaries for people to go and visit. We went on our first street which is kind of short, and no one was really interested in listening to us. We went to a different street and it was the second house we knocked on and the first house that answered. She was very receptive. We gave her a Book of Mormon and taught her about it. She seemed to really appreciate it. Normally she doesn't open the door, which was pretty cool she told us, so that made us feel good. We gave her our card and number and told her when church was, and she said she might stop by. That was really neat, and it felt good to be able to do that. I have never had that happen before while I was tracting, where somebody was just that open and receptive. I definitely felt the Spirit there, and hopefully we will be able to catch her again and talk to her. She's not around much, and I was kind of praying that we would be able to at least plant some seeds. It seems like we definitely planted some seeds there. So we will go back again and follow up.

There is a less active sister who came to church this Sunday. We were excited about that. She's excited about coming back. It was neat to get to know her because she is someone that acts. A lot of times when we talk with people they are kind of lukewarm and don't really want to do anything like read or find out. Or if the do, they are just kind of slow about it. But she was ready to act. She said, “yeah, I'm going to talk with the bishop.” So she met with the bishop like she said she would (haha). Things seem to be going well there.

We had one of our investigators, who is pretty shy, come to church. That was good that she was there. We were pretty happy about that. The week kind of started off a bit slower because of various things, but towards the end it really started to pick up.

A snowy river in Fairbanks, AK
I set a goal to read the Book of Mormon by the end of the transfer, which is in three weeks. So far I am on track. I got an 1830 edition of the Book of Mormon because it's setup like a novel. There are not verses, so it reads like a novel; like it's a lot faster to read it. So I'm reading that, and it's fun. I'm getting the bigger picture. I think the Spirit is able to be with me a little bit more because I'm focusing more on that and those basic principles. It's just the way the Book of Mormon is written; it's specific and plain, and it's all about people's experiences and coming closer to Christ. So, the Spirit is there stronger when you read it. That is what I like about reading so far. But anyway, I'll read 28 pages per day. It takes me about 45 minutes to an hour. I borrowed another missionary's copy – I'm going to have to get my own copy of the 1830 edition of the Book of Mormon. I'd really like that. It is a lot easier to read. Granted, it still has those spelling errors or punctuation errors and things like that in it, but that's okay.

Elder Beirne had a neat miracle. He felt like he needed to not go to a certain restaurant, so he went to a Quiznos, and there was somebody there that paid for him (haha). So that was neat for him. Elder Wadell got sick this week, which wasn't fun. I kind of stayed with him for the day. Anyway, he's feeling better, so that's good. It kind of reminded me when I got sick. I had a fever of 102.7. This was while I was in Anchorage. I got sick on a P-day, so I was laying in bed for the whole day (haha). After I emailed, I went home and just died on the bed and was there for the whole entire day. Elder Wright was very patient and stayed there in the apartment with me. He's a good guy.

We have had some interesting experiences the past week too. One of them is inappropriate and I won't talk about it, but (haha).... When you are tracking and you knock on a door, or even in general when you knock on a door, you are never quite sure what's going to answer (haha).

I know the Book of Mormon is true. I know we can have the Spirit with us more, if we will read it regularly because it is so direct and specific and focusing on those things that Christ would have us know. I know it will help us be more happy and focused because it helps me be happy and more focused. I know that the Church is true. I know that you guys are awesome, and I hope everything is going well at home. I hope Chris is excited and getting ready for a mission (haha), because it's not too far away. Stay in Seminary. Read the scriptures. As soon as I get off my mission, I am going to dig into the Old Testament. I love the Old Testament. I would love to go to Jerusalem too, and do the study abroad thing. But anyway, that is kind of the highlights of the week, and it was a good week.

Love, Elder Record

Monday, October 22, 2012

Awesome Miracles

I decided to just share my weekly letter to President Beesley with you all. Please don't share any of the names. I hope all is well. It sounds like everyone is doing good and excited for the move. I would like to see some pictures of the new house if you could send me some.

By the way, It's starting to get cold and a polyester coat just doesn't cut it, the cold just rips through it. I broke down and bought a down parka this week. I checked a few places and with a few members and I got a pretty good deal. It will keep me warm in -40 if it hits me. And one of the missionaries broke a member's guitar string so I spent money to replace that. Just as kind of a fun side note. Just about all my dreams at night have to do with missionary work and I'm always a missionary in my dreams. Last night I had a very fun time playing basketball in my dream. I'm getting pretty good. =)

I think that's everything. =) Talk to you next week.

Love, Elder Record

Hi President Beesley:

This week we had a couple of awesome miracles. On Sunday we went to a lesson, but they canceled. As backup we had planned to go see a less active member and also to tract a nearby street to look for a less active member who just moved in and showed up at church a few times. Anyway, we’d been looking for them for like a month. We knocked to the house of the member and Brother [Name Withheld 1], who’s not a member, answered the door. It was amazing! We were surprised when he answered the door because that was the one place we didn’t consider looking. He said his wife would really like to meet with us and that they would have us over sometime. It was pretty cool to see how the Lord put us where we needed to be when we needed to be there.

Speaking of being where we needed to be. We had another lesson cancel later in the evening and Elder Beirne had the thought to go see the [Name Withheld 2]'s, but didn’t think that was a good idea because it was getting late and it’s getting darker and darker. Usually when I feel that way it’s the devil tempting me not to listen, so I listened to Elder Beirne and we knocked on their door. They’ve been expressing desires to come back to church and this night just before we showed up they started talking about it again. Sister [Name Withheld 2] said our timing was uncanny because we keep showing up right after they have been talking about coming back. It feels so good to know that you are being guided by the Lord to help those in need. We had a very good conversation about how the Lord can strengthen us in times of need. We just need to wait on the Lord and be patient with his timing. Her and her boyfriend, Brother [Name Withheld 3] from 2nd ward, really opened up and trusted us as servants of the Lord. I love it when people open up like that and allow us to help them because that’s all we want to do is help. The first time I was able to relate to them through family history, this time I was able to relate again because she has a special need child and I used to work at a nursing home before my mission. We also know quite a few people in the ward whose children are special needs. [Name Withheld 4] is my favorite. He has Down syndrome and is the nicest guy you’ll ever meet. He is so funny and could laugh with you all day. Anyway it’s just neat to see how the Lord places us where we need to be as we are obedient to him and how he prepares us to be ready to help them.

We had another lesson with [Name Withheld 5] and she is praying to know that everything is true. It’s so nice that she listens to us and wants to find out for herself. Since I know that she will get an answer that it is true if she puts the effort into studying it out, I can see her getting baptized this year. She is a very nice lady. We take Brother and Sister [Name Withheld 6] with us to the lessons.

There is a sister in the ward is kind of stranded here in Fairbanks, Alaska right as winter is starting. She needed some help splitting wood. We had the opportunity to help her Saturday morning. I love splitting wood =). Some people talk about getting a “runner’s high”. Personally I’ve never run that far, haha, but when I split wood… It feels great =).

There are many more people we see, but these were the ones I was most excited about this week.[Name Withheld 7] is doing well, and so is [Name Withheld 8]. They both seem interested and are starting to progress.

I like Mormon 8:34-35 in the Book of Mormon. He saw our day and took out of the records of the people those things that he thought would best help us. This week has really shown me that our Father in Heaven loves his children. He knows us and knows what we go through. He knows how to help us, and if we trust in him and lean not to our own understanding he will show us what to do and give us that comfort that we need. I know he lives. I know that Jesus Christ lives and atoned for our sins. I know that “the tender mercies of the Lord are over all those whom he hath chosen, because of their faith, to make them mighty even unto the power of deliverance.” I know the Book of Mormon is true. I know it was written for our day and to testify that Jesus is the Christ. And I say that in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

“34 Behold, the Lord hath shown unto me great and marvelous things concerning that which must shortly come, at that day when these things shall come forth among you.
35 Behold, I speak unto you as if ye were present, and yet ye are not. But behold, Jesus Christ hath shown you unto me, and I know your doing.” (Mormon 8:34-35)

I hope all is well with you and Sister Beesley. Your advice in interviews in response to my question about listening to the spirit and focusing on others really helped. When you prayed for me that I would be able to discern the spirit and be guided by it was very much appreciated and is proving to be quite prophetic. It makes sense that to have a testimony of Christ is the spirit of prophecy because as we understand and gain testimony of the savior and his teachings we begin to recognize and understand the consequence of actions. As we have the spirit with us and are in line with God’s will, we then begin to see as he does and can know how the Lord will respond to us. Anyway it’s pretty cool to think about. I had faith that I could learn and be guided and since I asked for that help from my father in heaven and did my best to learn and understand he has been helping me. Stake conference was really good and I gained a lot of insights that I could distinctly tell came from the spirit.

Thanks for everything.

Love, Elder Record

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Service is the Key

So this week was kind of fun. We got to help out this one family. The husband is not a member, the wife is, but she hasn't been to church for a while. Anyway, we went and helped them. There was this wood shed that they had built. But we were helping them pull some nails out of some boards that they needed, and helped them stack their firewood. The husband was chopping down trees with a chainsaw, and then he would cut them into sections, and we would pick up the big logs and haul them over to the wood shed and stack them. It was quite the workout, but it was really fun (haha). It was 20 degrees outside, and I was wearing a short sleeved shirt. But, that's because I got really hot. Apparently that's what you want to do in Alaska; when you get hot, instead of sweat, just take a layer off. I would have put on another layer, if I wasn't sweating. But, no, I'm staying safe and pretty warm.

I will probably need to get a new coat; one that is like a down coat. Some other material besides the polyester, because the cold just cuts right through it. It can't hold in the heat, but down coats can. So I might need to get one of those.

We try to work with the ward pretty closely, and associate with people as much as we can, especially some of the less active members. It is really nice to be able to be in ward council and have people ask, “oh, what about this person”, or “I heard this about these people, do they need help?” It is really nice to be able to have the answer (haha). It's kind of funny sometimes, because we will be in ward council and they will ask about somebody, and we will tell them how they are doing. It's nice to be of help, because you just see relief flood over them; at least for the bishop. It helps relieve some of his burden. In Preach My Gospel we learned that we need to be a blessing to the bishop and not a burden, because he is the key holder and can receive special inspiration for the ward and how to help them out. So if we stay close to him, help him out, and develop a “how can I help?” attitude; then things go a little bit faster. It's nice to be appreciated and to work hard.

We had a fun day on Wednesday. We were able to teach a few people. We have a couple of people who are looking like they are going to progress pretty well. The best way to find people to teach is through members. These people that we are teaching are either referrals from one of the members or a part member family. Those are the people who are most interested. People with their influence, preach the gospel at all times; or they can without words. Example is a pretty big thing.

I flipped open last night to the scriptures and read a verse that I thought was pretty cool. In John 14:31 it's talking about the Savior and says, “But that the world may know that I love the Father; and as the Father gave me commandment, even so I do. Arise, let us go hence.” I like that because later in chapter 15 it talks about “if ye love me, keep my commandments.” I like how in John 14:31, the Savior says, “I love the Father,” and he says, “as the Father gave me commandment, even so I do.” So, I (haha) love how firm he is in his obedience.”

It has been a good week. It's getting colder, that's for sure. There is much, much colder weather to come. I'm taking vitamin D and vitamin C, and trying to stay healthy. I'm exercising, so I'll probably be fine. I thought I was getting sick for a little bit, but I don't think I am. I think it was just a temporary thing that day, because I haven't felt it since. Unfortunately, Elder Beirne has been sick, and it has not been fun for him (haha). He is way tough. I would (haha) probably (haha) be like dieing on the couch, but he has stuck through it. Fairbanks is a beautiful place.

We were driving down the road, and we saw a moose lying in the road. Somebody had hit it, and it was dead. It was a pretty big deal, and traffic was kind of affected. It was at night time too. Well, night time is relative because it gets dark really early. It was at dark (haha).

I am thankful that you two are my parents, mom and dad, because you are amazing. It has made a big difference for me, and helping me gain my testimony of the gospel, and I know it's true. In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

Love, Elder Record

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Great Men that Do Good

Here is an excerpt from my weekly letter to President Beesley. These are just some of my thoughts.

I was very happy to hear the announcement about the age change for coming missionaries, but even more happy when President Monson said that it was because of the increased obedience of the incoming missionaries. I felt the spirit witness to me that I’ve been a part of that. It was encouraging to feel again that witness that I am doing what I need to be doing and the Lord recognizes and appreciates me, and that I’ve been an influence for good. I’ve also noticed that there seems to be an ever widening gap between the strong and faithful in the church and the less valiant in the church. It seems like more and more of those who serve the Lord are doing it because they love him. It seems the Lord is kicking everyone off the fence, separating the wheat from the tares so to speak in the church. Especially after this conference it was reconfirmed to me that now is the time to have our own testimonies. I feel the urge to help those on the fence to come back into the light of the restored gospel. I remember the charge the savior gave to Peter that after he was converted to “strengthen [his] brethren”. I also found it interesting that Peter was talked about and quoted so much and that Elder Holland gave the talk he said he would give when he was with us in Anchorage. I felt a deeper love for my family as I listened to the story of Ann Rowley in Elder Nash’s talk, the story of her, also in 17 Miracles, and the two hard sea biscuits. Ann Jewel Rowley was my 4th great grandmother. Without talking to her I know my mother was deeply touched.

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about David, Saul, Solomon and ancient Israel. It pains my heart that such great men did not stay firm and reminds me that you’re never too righteous to be exempt from temptations. At the same time I marvel at how merciful and patient the Lord was with the people. I read like 3 times while skimming through the Book of Judges that the people in those days did “as seemeth them good in their own eyes.” They were in apostasy and were lost in spiritual darkness without a leader. The tribes were not unified. It amazes me that they even survived as a group. And under David’s brilliant leadership the 12 tribes were unified. God still loved the people and, as they humbled themselves, He placed prophets to guide them and preach the gospel. Amidst all the chaos I think of great men like Joshua, Gideon, Samuel, David, Josiah, and Nehemiah. They were great men who, even through personal weaknesses, moved the work of the Lord forward with courage and brought about righteousness. The man who stands out the most to me is Josiah. It says of him that there was never anyone before or since like him that turned to the Lord with all his might, mind, and strength (2 Kings 23:25). It amazes me that the Lord still took care of and watched over a degrading society. There must have been some stalwart people who kept their covenants or else we wouldn’t have had men like Josiah. Where did they draw their strength from? How did they gain so much courage to stand up when no one else would? Again I find the answer with Josiah. They yielded their hearts to God. It never said Josiah was the best looking, the strongest, the most courageous, benevolent, patient, or kind. He was so strong because he turned to God and humbly followed him.

I know that God lives. I know that our savior, Jesus Christ, atoned for our sins. I know that He is ever mindful of us and knows our situations. I know He wants us to stay strong, and I know we can. I know that as challenges increase there is nothing I cannot handle as long as I turn to the Lord and seek his help. He has set the standard, Christ provided the way to follow, and I will never back down. I hope it will be said of me that “like unto him was there no [man] before him, that turned to the Lord with all his heart, and with all his soul, and with all his might… neither after him arose there any like him.” The Book of Mormon is true, and I know the spirit will witness to the hearts of all those who read it that it is indeed the word of God because it has for me.

Love, Elder Record

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Cinnamon Rolls and the Timing of Service

So, last P-day we went on a hike. I was more like a walk. It was fun though. It was one we did last time. We were by a lake, and kind of walked around that. We went with a few other missionaries. So, it was fun; I still probably would have liked to play basketball a little more (haha). But, that's okay.

This P-day I'm making cinnamon rolls. I'm almost done with them. In a few minutes they are going to be ready to put in the oven. That will be fun. I made enough for the whole zone. So that should be delicious. I made them way back in Whitehorse one time. Elder Hartman is one of the zone leaders up here, so he's the only one that has tried them, besides a couple of other missionaries who are not in Fairbanks. But, anyway – that's exciting, and then we will probably play basketball. We will probably play games, too.

We had a good lesson with one of our investigators. We felt the Spirit while we were teaching, and the Spirit was able to witness that it was true. We are excited to see how things go from there. We invited her to read the Book of Mormon, and pray about it. She said she would.

We were also were able to arrive at this lady's less active house right after she had gotten off the phone with some very sad news. It was good to be there for her when she needed help. It was a neat experience, because we arrived there (seriously) right after she had gotten off the phone. We were able to talk to her home teachers, and sent them over. They were planning on going over yesterday after priesthood.

There is another person we are teaching who has a lot of stuff to work through. He's getting married and needs to obey the Word of Wisdom. There lives are kind of a mess right now, but they just need to see how resilient they are, and are still progressing even though there is so much going on. Our investigator is able to come closer to God and he is feeling the Spirit and the peace and joy that comes through that. So they are able to get through some of their trials and struggles. So, we'll see how things go with them and hope for the best. We'll just keep sharing the light with them. So far they are doing pretty good.

In my studies, I was thinking a lot about the Holy Ghost; just studying about how I can learn to recognize it more and be guided by it. So I thought of a couple of questions that I'm finding the answers to. I was wondering why the Gift of the Holy Ghost was not operative during the time of Christ. Why he didn't just bestow it while he was there and wait until after he ascended into heaven for the people to get the Gift of the Holy Ghost. So that was my question. So that makes we wonder too, well then in the Book of Mormon they operated under the Melchizedek Priesthood. So did they have the Gift of the Holy Ghost? How did Lehi get his Melchizedek Priesthood was the next question? They had the temple, but he wasn't a Levite. And, they talk about the priesthood in Alma 13, and they have high priests. So I was kind of thinking when the Holy Ghost stopped being operative was when the people rejected the higher law, and they got the Law of Moses; because they lost the blessings and privileges of the Melchizedek Priesthood. So they only had the Aaronic Priesthood, and when you only have the Aaronic Priesthood you can baptize for the remission of sins, but you cannot bestow the Gift of the Holy Ghost – that is a Melchizedek Priesthood thing. So, I'm thinking it's then when it stopped being operative. But anyway, that's kind of what I've been thinking about lately.

I'm having fun up here in Fairbanks. It's getting a lot colder. All the leaves are gone, and it's frosting. Winter should be coming very quickly. But, it's exciting (haha). Elder Beirne is not enjoying the cold that much, because he's from Hawaii and Arizona. But, he's making it. Yeah, Fairbanks is awesome. It's my favorite area. That's it, see you later.

Love, Elder Record