Thursday, May 26, 2011

Warm Hearts and Friendly Hands

For this post, I take an edited excerpt from a recent letter written to family:

"It was a great and welcomed opportunity to chat with you all yesterday. It is pleasing to know that the Manciati garden of life continues to blossom and give fruit. I am grateful for your diligence in the matters of life, temporal and spiritual, and for the intimate support that can be felt between all of us. I look forward to the day where we shall personally greet again and find comfort in one another's presence. I am reminded of a story President Bunker shared several months ago about a soldier that was severely wounded and lay dying on the battlefield. His dear friend, fearing that he would be unable to escape in his disabled state and therefore be captured by the enemy, picked him up at the risk of his own life. He carried him on his back amidst the battle chaos and carried him to safety. The soldier, though safe from greater harm, eventually died from his deep wounds. His friend's effort and sacrifice, however, did not go unseen or unappreciated. Because his friend had put his own life in peril, that soldier did not have to endure the stark shock and dreadful loneliness of dying in the arms of his enemies, for he died in the loving arms of his friends. May we carry on in the great cause of which we are part; that is, in carrying ourselves and our brothers and sisters to safety. May we do it each in the way that God expects of each of us.

Our own sacrifices and efforts will reap everlasting happiness if we are invested and endure our trials well. This was the Lord's promise to Joseph Smith: "And then, if thou endure it well, God shall exalt thee on high; thou shalt triumph over all thy foes. Thy friends do stand by thee, and they shall hail thee again with warm hearts and friendly hands." It is interesting to note that our "friends" do stand by us and that we have hailed and shall hail each other again--premortal, mortal, or antemortal existence. I love you all dearly and thank you kindly for your kindness. I know that as we continue to live the gospel of Jesus Christ and endure to the end, the Lord's promises shall all be fulfilled. Remember that if we have not charity, we are nothing. I pray you will all have a blessed week and that you take care of one another.

With all the energy and love of soul,
Elder Manciati"

Monday, May 9, 2011

Cutting Down a Wicked Tree

A well-prepared and inspiring Zone Conference took place yesterday morning and afternoon in beautiful Santa Rosa. The zones in attendance included those of Eureka, Ukiah, Santa Rosa, and the new Lake County zone. It was indeed time well cherished by all in the midst of fellow missionaries and members of the Bunker family. The program was filled with messages that motivated and encouraged. As usual, President Bunker shared and demonstrated an important principle of the gospel--that is, that "[true] doctrine, understood, changes attitudes and behavior," and that the "study of the doctrines of the Gospel will improve behavior quicker than a study of behavior will improve behavior." These statements by President Boyd K. Packer ring true and as we analyze our own experiences, we come to a greater realization of their truthfulness. Is it not true that as we study the plan of salvation, we gain a greater focus on what is most important in life and on those things that really matter? As we study the atonement, do we not receive a greater desire to be humble and repent of our sins? With the recently-digested message of the restoration of the gospel of Jesus Christ through the prophet Joseph Smith, investigators feel the need to be baptized by one holding the priesthood authority of God.

Likewise, all the problems of life can be resolved through truly understanding the beautifully simple yet powerful doctrines of the restored gospel. These problems include those that stem from jealousy, pride, lust, impatience, grudges, hate, and drudgery among an infinite list of other culprit firestarters. The gospel is like an ax that cuts a wicked tree at the base while worldly solutions often times cut a small branch at a time--which branch will eventually regenerate. I know that if we teach our children true doctrine in a manner best suited for their understanding, they will be more likely to grow up in righteousness and avoid many of the heartaches of life. In the same manner, if we ourselves study the doctrines of the gospel, we will know how to act and what to do to please our Heavenly Father. By doing so, we will be beaming examples to those around us and they will want to "[know more about Jesus Christ, because they will know us]."