well, mom the toilet story has to do with our white elephant gift exchange with the zone christmas morning. the zone leaders saw the toilet next to a dumpster and grabbed it to have as the big deal present, so they put it in a box and did a drawing of numbers to see who would win. i drew out the number 8 and thought, hey, i like this number! what if it won? then that was the number called. so i went out and found out i had won a toilet... they put it back by the dumpster that day. so that's that story!
that talk by brother Casos sounded awesome - i love that story and i actually came across it again just this last week. It was after some struggles we'd been having in our area and i happened to read out of Jesus the Christ that section about the good samaritan. "so who is my neighbor?"
i'm glad that lawyer asked that question. because i was able to realize that we as missionaries can be like the people in the story very literally. we ride our bikes around, and it is the hope that we have the compassion of the Good Samaritan to stop and bind up the wounds and take him to the inn (the church, church, the gospel...). because everyone in this world has been beat up by robbers. satan and his angels, through the many ways he influences men - gives us half-truths and we sin and we end up being "left for dead" (spiritually) by the world. and as we come, we have the responsibility to be the Samaritan and have compassion and love to try and help heal the wounds and care for the worlds bruised souls. I can see how also the missionaries are the innkeepers too, and the priest/levite/samaritan are the members. either way we all have the wonderful responsibility to "lift up" the hands that hang down. i'm not sure off the top of my head where that scripture is but i think it's in Isaiah. ["...where is that scripture?' 'somewhere in the Old Testament..." :) ] - sorry that's a slightly missionary inside joke.
so Elder David A. Bednar came to our mission for a 2 1/2 hour lesson/Q&A. that was really great. He is called by God, i know it. that man is amazing himself and an amazing teacher. the main part of his time with us was him asking open questions and letting us be "agents unto ourselves". i'm very grateful that he was able to come and show us how to do so much. Elder L. Tom Perry will be coming to visit our mission this saturday i think... i guess i'd better figure that out.
We had a baptism on friday, that was great! this guy is just amazing. if you came to church this next one and met him you would have no idea he wasn't a member his whole life. he is so committed and down-to-earth.
our teaching pool is really dwindling (mainly because we're baptizing them. good, but...) but right now we have this guy who knows it's true but seems to be waiting for a huge answer. he's on our minds constantly, and we really hope he'll take the important step for his eternal progression.
Also pray for us as a companionship (mom i know you already do!) and that we'll be able to have the sensitivity to the spirit so that we can be lead to do and say and be what we need to. we need a little bit of a boost, as it's been hard to do very much teaching in this small area.
man, seeing the picture of karene skiing made me want to be out there... which reminds me though - i wouldn't mind some pictures from back home. just ones in general. i didn't take out any because i don't need them really, i can remember things. but for the missionaries i meet it helps them get to know me better. i've got a huge file of my pictures somewhere on the comp - in kodak easyshare. that's full of good stuff.
i know that God loves us, and he leads us with his loving hand. we're where we are now on purpose, to affect and love those who we know and will know now. i'm touched by something that Elder Hafen said and i think it was one of the few moments his voice cracked, i'll paraphrase it the best i can: We didn't do anything to deserve the love God has for us, that he gave us spiritual bodies and made for us a plan so that we can feel of his happiness.
I could tell of his complete sincere gratitude. and it is true. let us go forth in the strength of the knowledge that we are loved by God. let us be converted - that is my hope, then we'll "be ok", that's what Elder Bednar said.