I want you to imagine something really quick:
Picture in your mind a large football field. In the far corner of the stands, as high up as you can go, there is the start of a string. That string is pulled tight, from the highest furthest point in the stand all the way to the adjacent side. This string hovers above all the rows and rows of seats, the span of the large football field, and to the other side.
The distance between the two ends is pretty far.
As you look at the string from your seat in the stands, or from your place on the field, or in the special VIP booth, you notice something hanging from this string. Upon further inspection, you make out this object to be a piece of white printer paper with a hole in the middle of it to accommodate the string passing on through.
Now that you have this image in your mind, think about the width of the paper. How small it is when compared to the length of the string. The paper is but a brief moment on the string's journey to the other side of the stadium.
If we take the width of the piece of paper and think about our life here on earth how relatable are the two?
Think about the string as eternity, spanning from end to end of the football field. Now the string does end but it's the symbolism that matters. Our life here on earth is but a brief moment compared to the everlasting life that we will have after this one.
With that knowledge, it begs this question,
How are we spending it?
Are we taking each moment in our life and embracing the opportunities that come in our path?
Are we giving it our all?
I've been pondering a lot about this recently and asking myself, am I giving it my all and truly trying to make the best out of each opportunity that arises?
New opportunities have been arising each and every day and I don't know if I am making the most out of it.
One of my goals this year and the start of this new transfer is to;
- Follow Spiritual Promptings
- Remember the blessings that I have seen in my life and remember the good faith-promoting experiences that I have had.
The hymnal 'Count Your Many Blessings' comes to mind for that last point.
The whole song is just a great reminder that God is with us in everything. He has strengthened me through the big and small challenges in my life.
Verse 2 slaps,
"Are you ever burdened with a load of care?
Does the cross seem heavy you are called to bear?
Count your many blessings; ev'ry doubt will fly,
And you will be singing as the days go by"
I feel as though (especially recently) that the cross seems heavy that I've been called to bear. A lot is going on and it's kinda crazy if I'm going to be completely honest.
But I start to count my many many blessings and I do start to sing as the days go by.
I hope that these two goals will help me make the most out of the situations that have been presented to me.
And then continue to make the most out of the situations and opportunities that will arise in the future.
These past 4 weeks there has been a lot of change!
I was able to send Elder Iloa off! He is headed down to Bastrop. Now I don't know much about that area but I have heard that it is a good one!
I will miss being able to work with him and being able to laugh and talk together about anything and everything.
I buzzed my head! Yeah, yeah, yeah. Not the best decision that I have made. For the work we do on Facebook, every week the area of missionaries over a Facebook page get together over a zoom call and do what we call a Facebook Blitz where we just grind out FB and send in emojis to a chat that we have.
Elder Iloa and I were in charge of making this all happen so to encourage the missionaries I told them that I would shave my head if we got a certain number of emojis.
So, we got our goal...
Hey, the missionaries were hyped and thats all I can ask for :)
I made it another rotation around the sun. I don't think my mom expected me to make it this far, but we made it!
One year older and wiser too
I have been doing a lot of thinking back due to another birthday but also due to the time that I have been here in Texas on my full-time mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
It ties into the visual I explained at the beginning of my email. The time that we have goes by way faster than we think it will. When compared to eternity it is such a small moment in time, but some of the most important.
I expect this next year to go even quicker than this past one has and hope to be able to seize the moment and get the most out of the opportunities that arise.
I am excited to see what is in store.
I have a new companion! Elder Rowe just arrived from the MTC (Missionary Training Center) this Friday the 26th of January. He is originally assigned to Peru but will be here in Texas a short time due to VISA issues.
Good news! He just got his VISA and will be flying to Peru in 6 weeks. So he won't have much time here in Texas.
While I was waiting for Elder Rowe to arrive to the field, I was with another Elder down on the UT campus! It was quite a trip! The way you do missionary work down on the actual campus is WAY different than anything that I have been used to before.
There are just so many people, so you are just talking to one right after another. It is always, go, go, go! It took me awhile to get into the flow of things but it worked out after I got over the feeling of, "This is weird." and just embraced the awkwardness. It would be more awkward if I just stood there.
All the people there are around my age so that was strange as well, but super fun. The YSA ward is super fun and they have some really good members that are wanting to help move the work forward. (Props to returned missionaries)
While I was in the Downtown Austin area I was able to live with an Elder that I hadn't seen in a long time. (Imagine that in a low gruff voice)
ELDER STEVENS!! Oh boy. It was really good to see him and be able to live with him this past week. We talked a lot and were able to make food together again like we did when we were rooming together in Temple, Texas.
I've been really enjoying all the experiences that I have been having here in Texas. It is truly a blessing to be able to see people change and give their lives to Christ and trust in God.
We have a friend, that Elder Iloa and I taught the majority of the lessons to, who is getting baptized this week!
It was special to be able to be a part of his journey and see him accept the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
As we walk, drive, and bike around this area in Cedar Park, it feels almost surreal to think that there will soon be a Temple here. Right here! This place will have a House of the Lord. I look at the space where it will lay someday and just imagine what it will look like. All there is now is a church building and some trees so it is fun to imagine what the top of the Temple might look like with the surrounding church building, trees, and homes.
All I can continue to say is, don't take the time that you have for granted. Go and make the most out of the situation that you are in.
Find JOY in the journey :)
Check out all my photos:
Thank you for your support and prayers
That's about it. See ya.
- Elder Payne