If I don't get a chance to email everyone who emailed me, I apologize. I am slow at emailing, I think, because I'm the missionary who takes the most time (within "legal" missionary bounds, of course).
I am glad you are enjoying you're seminary teaching, Mom. Never feel like you are not doing anything for the kids because I can list my seminary teachers with the men who have affected my life very deeply. I will be forever grateful to them - I can imagine seeing them in the life after this and hugging them and thanking them for their love. And yes, God gives no "filler" scriptures - they all have a purpose. I actually like to play a game sometimes and it is really edifying; when I read scriptures (it's easier in the BOM, but possible, of course, everywhere) to try and link every verse to something profound or spiritual (and that can even be done in the war chapters). Another thing I've noticed that goes along those lines of every word counting coming from the Lord, He never gives "filler" commandments either. They're all for a specific reason that we will all be grateful for when we eventually realize His reasons and love and patience.
I have thought about that, Dad (Scott mentioned that Elder Holland voiced concern over a percentage of returned missionaries becoming inactive). Of course that always has bugged me, as well as young men in the church who do not serve missions. I have always wanted to serve a mission, even before Ben left, or Karene, or Jon. and not because I was "misinformed" or not told about the hardship or it's just something "natural" for me to do (it's not - I have struggled immensely with certain aspects, as we all will and should). I knew in my heart that it was vital for me to accomplish - and therefore I wanted it. I knew it would be hard, but I knew it would be worth it. It's like a certain song that I wanted to learn on guitar. It was far beyond my ability to learn early on - but I loved the song. (It's "Landslide" by the way - the Fleetwood Mac version is so sweet) So I worked at it and worked at it. It sounded nothing like the song, or any song, in the beginning, but I eventually got it down and it is now probably the one I enjoy playing the most. That is how life is.
Anyways I went on a huge tangent!
So back to inactive RM's - I do agree with what you're saying, Dad. I am grateful I was able to keep myself from watching TV and I can see great blessings in my life because of it. This life is all about learning how to choose what is Good (or Best - Brother Oak's talk!) and just watching movies because they are cool or entertaining is rebelling against that simple principle.
So this week was a great one - we worked really hard to set up as many lessons as we could and talk to everyone we saw and we were able to get the 20 lessons (with Heavenly Father's help, of course) which is the goal set by Elder Perry, and our street contacts improved as well. It was a sweet experience last night when we taught our last lesson to get 20 lessons exactly. We exercised faith and Heavenly Father was merciful. One of our investigators who seemed solid but then didn't come to church one Sunday and we weren't able to set up appointments for like 3 weeks showed up again this Sunday and said he will call us to set up something. We really hope he can find the courage to be baptized because it is what he needs so desperately right now. There's also this 10 year old girl who has been a foster kid for one family in the ward, and the papers have been signed by her biological parents to let the family adopt and so she'll finally get baptized! She is awesome and so smart.
There is this family that just moved into one of our wards from my last area that we taught. It's a rough situation - husband was baptized way back when but has a bad back and severe depression, so he doesn't work. The mom is working but just isn't understanding that we talk about isn't merely "nice to hear" or good, it is vital - spiritually. Baptism is for the remission of sins and progression (the gate) not just membership in a social group. She has three boys and the middle one came to church alone yesterday! He is so awesome. it might take a long time but of course it will be worth it.
I'm so thankful for the Savior and His love for us - if you read 3 Nephi 17 the Savior heals the sick and afflicted, blesses their children, prays for the people "unspeakable" things which fill the people with such joy they are "overcome", fallen to the ground. It is only after those things that the Christ says "now...my joy is full", and He weeps. What marvelous love! Karene sent me a talk about Christ that enlightened my understanding of His character - and it reminded me of this marvelous love. I can't express how I feel about Him, and the words "marvelous love" do not come close to expressing what He feels for us - I guess I understand why what He prayed cannot be written; the words would just not do them justice. I love you all and hope you think about the Savior every day - it will bring an added measure of the Spirit.