Saturday, December 24, 2011


The wintry day, descending to its close,
invites all wearied nature to repose
and shades of night are falling dense and fast
like sable curtain drifting o'er the past.

Pale through the gloom the newly fallen snow
wraps like a shroud the silent earth below
as though 'twere mercy's hand had spread the pall
a token of forgiveness unto all.

Hymns no . 34: "The Wintry Day Descending to Its Close"

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

When we say Goodbye, I say Hello

As I've mentioned before, I'm leaving Provo; this week, I went and personally bade my friends goodbye. (At least, all those I could get ahold of - if I didn't say goodbye to you personally, you are still my friend, don't worry.) This was extraordinarily uplifting - I have been blessed with wonderful friends while I have been here, and seeing them again, and feeling their love for me, even as I part from them, was a wondrous experience.

This chapter of my life is in its last few paragraphs, and I'm excited for the next one. I am starting to get an idea of what I am supposed to do while in St. Louis, and roughly how long the Lord would like me to stay there. If all goes well, I'll be back in Africa in seven months or so -and that will be a great blessing as well. My last experience in South Africa was very difficult; I look forward to remaking my memories of the place into happy ones this next time around.

The sweetest events since the last post have been ones that occurred in prayer. I am not ashamed to admit
that I am in the middle of the repentance process; one of the epiphanies I've had this week is that I always should be. It has been sweet relief and sweet comfort to understand more fully how the Lord truly does love me despite my frailties, failures, and follies. He is far more concerned with my happiness and eternal welfare than I could have known.

I'm a firm believer that the Lord has specific things he wants each person to do; I do believe we each have fore-ordained callings to specific responsibilities in this life. But, I am discovering more fully that we are valuable to the Lord apart from those callings; His love for us seems to be independent of how well we fulfill that which He would have us do.

Don't get me wrong - the blessings He can give us are limited to what we accept at His hand - our Heavenly Father doesn't force-feed us blessings. He will lead us to green pastures, but he won't make us eat. We need to do what He asks us to do in order to be blessed as He wants to bless us. But - and here is the part I've found encouraging- He never stops wanting to give us the joy and happiness and richness of eternity and exaltation.

In the Bible and Book of Mormon, there are repeated references to the Lord prophesying destruction of a people; these verses often conclude, "For all this, his anger is not turned away, but his hand is stretched out still." (Isaiah 5:25, but there are a LOT of verses that use this phrase). I have usually interpreted that scripture to mean, "God is punishing people, and all of these punishments don't satisfy His wrath."

That is true, I think, but only for the first part of the phrase. The Bible Dictionary explains that the second half, "But his hand is stretched out still" corresponds to what I am reading in the Book of Mormon right now:

"O all ye that are spared because ye were more righteous than they, will ye not now return unto me, and repent of your sins, and be converted, that I may heal you? Yea, verily I say unto you, if ye will come unto me ye shall have eternal life. Behold, mine arm of mercy is extended towards you, and whosoever will come, him will I receive; and blessed are those who come unto me.

Behold, I am Jesus Christ the Son of God. … And as many as have received me, to them have I given to
become the sons of God; and even so will I to as many as shall believe on my name, for behold, by me redemption cometh, and in me is the law of Moses fulfilled. I am the light and the life of the world. I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end. … And ye shall offer for a sacrifice unto me a broken heart and a contrite spirit. And whoso cometh unto me with a broken heart and a contrite spirit, him will I baptize with fire and with the Holy Ghost … Behold, I have come unto the world to bring redemption unto the world, to save the world from sin." (3 Nephi 9:13-21, emphasis added, complete text in link)

This is a happy conclusion to my chapter in Utah; it is an appropriate lesson to have learned with my time here. I am content and at peace with these last few years, and that, too, is a wonderful blessing.

So, goodbye Provo! When next we meet, I will only be passing through. Thanks for everything! Until we meet again!