I'm also starting to notice something in the mission- something sad that I don't like one bit, and I know that Heavenly Father doesn't like it one bit either. There tend to be labels in this mission. On the one hand, you have the 2x4s, so named because they try to make everyone else be obedient. Anyone who doesn't keep their idea of the mission rules is automatically judged as an inferior missionary, and that there's something wrong with them that has to be 'fixed.' This group, on the opposite side of the spectrum, finds themselves thus labeled, and decides 'okay, guess I'm a disobedient missionary, then. I guess I'll start being that way.' The two groups judge each other (and everyone else, really) quite harshly and generally. I'm just so tired of it. It polarizes the mission, and makes it so we don't work in unity, because nobody wants to be with a 'dub' (disobedient missionary), nor does anyone want to be with a 2x4. Neither group are very Christlike at all, life as the companion of either can be quite miserable, and those missionaries who just need someone to give them a good example, or who just need to feel like they have someone in their corner who loves them the way they are, someone who encourages them to do what's right, and doesn't judge them no matter what- those people who do need help to overcome their individual challenges often have to wait until halfway though their mission (sometimes longer) in order to get that help. I guess my takeaway is to never ever judge someone because they sin differently than you do. We all make mistakes, and nobody wants to be a bad person, a disobedient missionary, so live and let live, help lift other people, don't drag them, and keep praying and looking to the Savior for our example. We are all investigators to the church. We all have something we need to improve on, we all have that next step to take. I say that, but at the same time I know I'm not perfect at it. It's something I'm trying to overcome so that I can help others overcome it. I'm just going to do my best to be obedient, work my butt off, follow the Lord's guidance, help out where I'm needed, and leave the rest up to the Savior.
Enough of that, though. I've started a study of the Doctrine and Covenants, as well. I think I mentioned it already- it was sparked by Elder Grow's knowledge and usage of it to answer so many questions. This week I had a really wonderful personal study about personal revelation as a spiritual gift. I want to look further into it this week so I can better understand it. D&C 11:10-14 really touched me, especially cross-referenced with Moroni 7:15-19 and D&C 6:14-15. It's been a blessing to me to find these scriptures, because I feel like I've been going through a dry spot as far as specific, powerful revelation and a conversational relationship with Heavenly Father goes. As I read these scriptures, a strong, powerful feeling of warmth and peace fell over me, like someone I love, and who loves me, was standing in the room beside me. Heavenly Father asserted to me that, yes, indeed, He is still there, He still wants to talk to me and guide me, and He is so pleased with the work I'm doing and the progress I have individually made. How grateful I am for a loving Heavenly Father who hears my heart's every petition, and who answers wisely, justly, and lovingly. The God I know loves me more than I can say, and I know that He loves every one of us, and only-only- wants us to be happy.
Wow! Sounds like I'm not going to recognize the backyard when I get home! You should also grow cilantro in the garden, too. Cilantro's good in just about anything. Especially in stir fry ^^ I guess now the only person who can see straight is Madi! Ha ha! As for the whistle pig problem, just get Madi a little pellet gun. She can set up a chair in the backyard and knit until one of the little buggers comes along, and when he does- BANG! Tag 'em and bag 'em. I'd LOVE to have a pellet gun here (and for them to be legal), because there are far too many seagulls and pigeons around here. And they all love to dive bomb our car while it's in the parking lot. SO annoying. Our car can barely last a half an hour after getting washed before one of the little buggers comes along and drops a nice, big turd on it.
Funny that you mention the Long Island Singles Ward- I've served in the same building it's now housed at- the Plainview Chapel. Singles wards are pretty big here in NY, because membership is a lot more spread out. There's only two or three in my mission.
That's all on my end!
Elder R. Brandt Hull