P-Day round 2 with 12 minutes to write. Note: Unfortunately, I have only 30 minutes to read and respond to emails each week. Therefore, if you do have a lot to say, I would ask that you send me your letters through the post, as it provides me more time to read them and to write up a more thoughtful response. I love hearing from all of you!
The quote in the subject is from the São Paulo Police Force, and says, “He who doesn’t live to serve, doesn’t deserve to live”. An intimidating quote, perhaps, but an insightful one no less. Perhaps one could word it more optimistically another way: “The most meaningful moments in life are moments of service”. Just before coming here to the Brazilian MTC, during a walk on the coast of Wales, a friend asked me, “What’s the most meaningful thing you’ve done in your life?” I fished around for a couple minutes in my brain, trying to cull up something profound and worthwhile. Now, I feel like I could answer that question in a heartbeat, without a doubt or hesitation in my mind. I feel so happy to be here. It’s not easy, and it’s not simple, and it’s certainly not relaxed, but it is the most worthwhile thing I’ve ever done. And even in training I can feel that.
One lesson that’s been worthwhile is that of obedience.
There’s a famous quote in the MTC from preach my gospel, “Obedience is always better than sacrifice”. There’s a lot of truth to that. Sacrifice, repentance, and forgiveness often come on the heels of problems that could have been prevented with a greater attention to obedience. It may seem weird to hear this from me, but I suppose that’s the content of the rest of this email.
I realize I may have sounded a little arrogant or disdainful of the rules when I talked about my new role as a renegade District Leader. But, let me assure you, the calling was almost entirely an act of irony, or divine intervention. Or Divine Irony. Out of all the boys in my District, I, without a doubt, had the most to learn about the value of obedience. Not obedience as an outward pharisaical display of sackcloth and ashes, but obedience as an act of Faith. As District Leader, my job is to be a good example of exactness in getting up on time, getting to meetings on time, getting to bed on time, going everywhere with a companion, etc., etc. And you have no idea how it tears me apart sometimes to sacrifice exciting action for more placet obedience. The 10:30 pm bedtime has been especially difficult. I loved staying up late with my Brazilian roommates the first week, learning Portuguese and talking about home, but the lack of sleep really took a toll on me. Last week, I decided to maintain a strict nighttime schedule to hit the 10:30 pm mark. This last week has been a miracle. I’m more attentive in class, I’m less stressed, I feel like I’m more open and capable of loving and feeling the Spirit. Obedience for me is a bit of a stretch, and in some ways a sacrifice. But it’s a good lesson to learn. I love our Heavenly Father, I love His Son, Jesus Christ, I love you, my family, and all my friends, and I love being here. Thank you so much for all your support.
P.S. The Brazilians call me the “Gaucho” because they think I look like a Southern Brazilian Cowboy. I just smile and pretend like I speak Portuguese.