Sunday, October 11, 2009

Spiritual Sunday

I belong to this church. And our main meeting on Sunday's is Sacrament meeting, where we not only partake of the sacred sacrament and renew covenants, but we also have speakers who teach gospel principles.
Today was one of the best Sacrament meetings we've had in a long time. Was it because of the speakers? Or because I wasn't battling Sissy? Prolly both. : )

One of Splenda's young men, CR, is leaving for a mission. He'll be serving in Tulsa, OK. This young man has always been a great kid. Kinda quiet, but always helpful and respectful. He was very emotional as he gave his talk and shared his thoughts, which mostly centered on his love and respect for his parents. He will be an awesome missionary if for no other reason than when he speaks, he speaks with his soul. There is no denying how he feels, and it just reaches out to others and they feel it to.

The second speaker was a young man that was/is buddies with my C. While they have chosen different paths, I think they still stay in touch a little bit.
He recently returned from his mission to Louisville, KY. I love how our ward does missionary "farewells". The outgoing missionary speaks first taking as much or as little time as he wants. We then have a a musical number, and finally a recently returned missionary wraps it up. Very cool!

AL is a kid that you can't help but love. His mission was a great thing for him and he testified of that.

He told us of a man he met in his first area. A church member, but a less-active one. They became great friends, but no progress on the gentleman's part of returning to the church and embracing the gospel in his life. AL was transferred out and moved on.

He recently received an email from this man with some family updates and a story. The man had some friendly words to say and then was excited to tell AL that he and his family would be coming in early 2010 to attend the Salt Lake Temple! He had returned to the church, was happily serving and their family was doing great.
He also told AL, how much he had meant to their family and to this him. How his several months of being in the area, and serving him had really made a difference. He then enclosed a copy of this story:

The Starfish

Based on the story by Loren Eisley...
I awoke early, as I often did, just before sunrise to walk by the ocean's edge and greet the new day. As I moved through the misty dawn, I focused on a faint, far away motion. I saw a youth, bending and reaching and flailing arms, dancing on the beach, no doubt in celebration of the perfect day soon to begin.
As I approached, I sadly realized that the youth was not dancing to the bay, but rather bending to sift through the debris left by the night's tide, stopping now and then to pick up a starfish and then standing, to heave it back into the sea. I asked the youth the purpose of the effort. "The tide has washed the starfish onto the beach and they cannot return to the sea by themselves," the youth replied. "When the sun rises, they will die, unless I throw them back to the sea."
As the youth explained, I surveyed the vast expanse of beach, stretching in both directions beyond my sight. Starfish littered the shore in numbers beyond calculation. The hopelessness of the youth's plan became clear to me and I countered, "But there are more starfish on this beach than you can ever save before the sun is up. Surely you cannot expect to make a difference."
The youth paused briefly to consider my words, bent to pick up a starfish and threw it as far as possible. Turning to me he simply said, "I made a difference to that one."

This email had come at a time when AL was struggling a bit. He shared how it felt for him to receive this reminding him that he was important and that he HAD made a difference.

As I sat listening to these two missionaries, (one outgoing, the recently incoming), I, of course, thought of my own Elder L. I wonder what tales he will have to tell when he returns and reports on his mission. Suddenly my heart actually began to ache with the desire to hear him speak. I want to be sitting in a pew, I want him at the pulpit and I want to learn at his feet the lessons he learned. I want to hear his experiences. I want to hear his testimony. I want to hear him speak Spanish, the language that I love. That ache, which was actually physical, almost became too much.

I'll proudly admit that I think I have done fairly well these last ALMOST two years. I've not been one of those missionary moms that blubber every day and carry on and on.
But this heart yearned for him to be home and speaking of his experiences more than anything else.

Two years is a LONG time. Did you hear me? A.LONG.TIME. I hope that my own son has been a starfish saver. I hope that he has made a difference in someones life there in Chile. I hope he comes home knowing he was called to serve there for a specific reason and that his purpose was fulfilled.

And then I thought, what about me? Am I a starfish saver? I don't have to be formerly called somewhere exotic or far away or even a state or two over, to be a starfish saver. But I certainly cannot expect something of my son, that I am not willing to do myself. Or at least try to do.

So, for this Sunday, that is my goal. To somehow make a difference. I can't save every starfish on the shore, just as the young man in the story couldn't. It's impossible for just one person. But I can take care of one or two of them. And if everyone had the attitude of helping just one or two starfish, think of the massive difference it would make.

Times are precarious. Economics, politics, warfare against the family, they are all waging a tenacious battle. And every single one of us has our own corner of the battlefield that we are fighting on. When we perhaps have a small break in our own fight, can we look around us and see who needs a helping hand? They might need your sword of friendship, or your rifle of righteous obedience. Even just your presence beside them for spell just might do it.

I've rambled enough. It's time for me to don my flak jacket, and flip flops. I'm headed to the beach to see what starfish I can aid in their battles.


Chief said...

You know? The world is crazy and yet it all seems to come together in a strange way.

I was speaking to a teacher at work and we were discussing some of the children that our hearts go out to, who maybe don't have the best living situations and he relayed this story of the starfish to me. I had never heard it before and loved it. This was Friday afternoon. Now, less than 48 hours later, I hear it again. I wonder if someone is trying to tell me something.

tiburon said...

I like to think of you as my own personal little starfish.

LL said...

You never know who you is touched by Father-in-Heaven as a result of your efforts on a mission. Many young men and women return with no vision of what they have been able to accomplish, and it's understandable. However the mission changed THEM. And in the end, that is the reward they receive for service.

tammy said...

Great post M. I always kind of thought that I would be fine if my boys didn't go on missions because I would miss them too much, but you've made me realize how important it is, and it's not about me and my missing them. Thanks for this.

Cherie said...

That was a beautiful story and a very touching post.
It is true. If we all looked for a few starfish each day what a difference it would make.
I think we all make a difference in other peoples lives without knowing it sometimes too.
Sometimes we might be told - like the letter this Returned Missionary received but most of the time we will never know. We just need to make the effort.
Thanks for posting this today.

Oh and I know what it is like to ache for that missionary! But what a blessing to know he is out in the world doing the Lord's work and touching people's lives.

Jewls said...

I absolutely LOVE the starfish story! Makes you feel like somehow your contribution, albeit small, may be enough!! Thanks for the thoughts!

Stace said...

hey, my little missionary friend is in tulsa too! what's your's named? perhaps when he gets there he will be friends with mine :)

Becca said...

Thank you for sharing that. I needed it tonight. And can I just say--for the record--that I think you are fabulous!

faith said...

stumbled across your blog from google reader. i live in tulsa - went to high school in the salt lake area. i'll be on the look-out for an elder from around there!