I'm so glad to hear that Ed Week was so awesome! I always love going. The things you learn there, and the people you meet there are amazing. I'm so glad that Spencer had such a great time. Not to one up, or anything, but remember how you said that missions are like Ed Week for two years? Boy is that right! This week I really learned a lot about how much my Heavenly Father loves me. I was saying my nightly prayers one night, and I thanked Him for my parents, and an overwhelming feeling of gratitude washed over me, as I remembered how hard you and dad have worked to make sure that I turn out a good egg, spiritually strong and firm, and someone who will be a good dad and husband, and who will teach his kids the gospel. I remembered all those times that you stayed up for me, or were stressed out because I had bad grades ;) Heavenly Father used this as a chance to teach me about Himself through you. There's a really good analogy that I heard or read, I can't quite remember where- I believe it may be a Skousen quote. Heavenly Father is like a gardener, taking care of his olive trees. After digging, dunging, pruning, and grafting, He throws down His tools and cries out 'have I not done everything for this tree?' Heavenly Father is omnipotent. Every single intelligence obeys His command, down to the very last quark and proton. Everyone except us. He is omniscient. He knows best. And guess what? He loves us. He loves us perfectly, completely, and individually. In fact, there has been at least one moment when He was only thinking about you. Nobody and nothing else. Like the gardener, He has done everything He can for us, to provide us with what we need to become as He is. The only problem is that 1. we are mortals, and 2. some of us don't want to be obedient. Number one is taken care of by the atonement, but number two breaks His heart every single time. We break his heart. Does He still love us? Perfectly, and for always. Will He forgive us? As long as we repent, His hand is extended. Does it hurt Him, though? Of course, because He loves us, and wants us to be happy, and He has put everything, even His Only Begotten into helping us get home again. How privileged I am to bear this message to the world. How privileged I am to have received this revelation, this knowledge. It brings a whole new light to obedience. I understand now. I understand why "obedience is the first law of everything."
This was a good week. Not numbers-wise, but we did a lot of good. Also, I got to do martial arts for the first time in eight months. We were going to go play soccer with some of the youth, and we saw some people doing martial arts in the park. I went up and asked what style, and the teacher said that he specialized in Tai Chi. He was totally cool with teaching me a little bit. Tai Chi and Bagua are styles that I really want to specialize in when I get home. I've really really missed a good martial arts training session. It felt super good to just train, and I learned a lot. The teacher even wants to stay in contact so that when I go home and start training again we can start building up a little association of martial artists, a little community. We'll see how that goes, but for now I'm more interested in baptizing him. ;) Just before we had to go, I got to talk to him a little bit about my mission, and what we believe. I hope it leads to something good. He's a good man.
Also, a little late news, I got an ingrown toenail! Woohoo! We called the Mission Nurse, and she said to send some pictures, and then said that I needed to see a podiatrist. It was kind of funny, she was like 'how have you been walking this long on that foot?' So, I went to see the podiatrist today, and he basically just clipped my nails with this plier, vice-sized set of clippers. Bada-bing, bada-boom. Done. Slap some iodine and a band-aid on it, $10 copay, and I'm outta there. Minimal pain. No follow-up visit. Just thought you might want to know.
Well, that's all the most exciting parts about this week. I love my family a lot.
Elder Richard Brandt Hull