A place to share struggles and triumphs, a place to bless and serve - but never a place to murmur or complain. 

Friday, August 22, 2008

Never give up.

This is the story of my Mission President as a young boy, and the leader who would not give up on him. You know how you constantly thank the Lord for certain people in your life? This is one of those men, and I am so grateful to his leader. We have to keep trying. I hope you enjoy reading this as much as I do. I never get tired of this story.

Mervyn B. Arnold, “Strengthen Thy Brethren,” Ensign, May 2004, 46

Brother José de Souza Marques was the type of leader who truly understood the principle taught by the Savior: “And if any man among you be strong in the Spirit, let him take with him him that is weak, that he may be edified in all meekness, that he may become strong also” (D&C 84:106).

As a member of the branch presidency in Fortaleza, Brazil, Brother Marques with the other priesthood leaders developed a plan to reactivate those who were less active in his branch. One of those who was less active was a young man by the name of Fernando Araujo. Recently I spoke to Fernando, and he told me of his experience:

“I became involved in surfing competitions on Sunday mornings and stopped going to my Church meetings. One Sunday morning Brother Marques knocked on my door and asked my nonmember mother if he could talk to me. When she told him I was sleeping, he asked permission to wake me. He said to me, ‘Fernando, you are late for church!’ Not listening to my excuses, he took me to church.

“The next Sunday the same thing happened, so on the third Sunday I decided to leave early to avoid him. As I opened the gate I found him sitting on his car, reading the scriptures. When he saw me he said, ‘Good! You are up early. Today we will go and find another young man!’ I appealed to my agency, but he said, ‘We can talk about that later.’

“After eight Sundays I could not get rid of him, so I decided to sleep at a friend’s house. I was at the beach the next morning when I saw a man dressed in a suit and tie walking towards me. When I saw that it was Brother Marques, I ran into the water. All of a sudden, I felt someone’s hand on my shoulder. It was Brother Marques, in water up to his chest! He took me by the hand and said, ‘You are late! Let’s go.’ When I argued that I didn’t have any clothes to wear, he replied, ‘They are in the car.’

“That day as we walked out of the ocean, I was touched by Brother Marques’s sincere love and worry for me. He truly understood the Savior’s words: ‘I will seek that which was lost, and bring again that which was driven away, and will bind up that which was broken, and will strengthen that which was sick’ (Ezek. 34:16). Brother Marques didn’t just give me a ride to church—the quorum made sure I remained active. They planned activities that made me feel needed and wanted, I received a calling, and the quorum members became my friends.”

Following his reactivation, Brother Araujo went on a full-time mission and has served as bishop, stake president, mission president, and regional representative. His widowed mother, three sisters, and several cousins have also entered the waters of baptism.

When speaking about the work of the Aaronic Priesthood quorums in his ward, Brother Araujo, who is once again serving as a bishop, stated:

“Our rescue work is the focus in all three quorums of the Aaronic Priesthood. We have a list of each one of our lost sheep. The quorum presidencies, advisers, and bishopric divide up and go visit them on a regular basis. We visit not only the less-active members, but we also visit the nonmembers in less-active or part-member families.

“Activities are organized to reach each young man. We discuss each young man in our quorum presidency meetings and in our monthly bishopric youth committee meetings. In 2003 we managed to rescue five priests, one teacher, and two deacons, who are now active in their quorums. We have also reactivated some families and have enjoyed the blessing of seeing some nonmembers enter the waters of baptism.”

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

A kind of journal.

2 Nephi 25:23
For we labor diligently to write, to persuade our children, and also our brethren, to believe in Christ, and to be reconciled to God; for we know that it is by grace that we are saved, after all we can do.

I've been reading the scriptures online this year, and keeping a journal of notes on my computer. It has been so valuable to me. I keep it in the order of the chapters and verses. Each time I begin reading again, I go back to the beginning of my notes. I only write down what strikes me on a certain day, what a scripture meant to me or what stood out.  If it is extremely pertinent to some specific event in my life, I write down the date as well. It's nice to use a word processing program to do it because the document can expand easily. I don't have to add pages, I just write whatever comes. This verse in Chapter 25 of Second Nephi meant a lot to me today as I was thinking about the journal.  And so it goes. Someday, I hope that my notes will help my children to understand my love of the scriptures and devotion to the Savior.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Life is Difficult

M. Scott Peck has written, "Life is difficult. This is a great truth, one of the greatest truths. It is a great truth because once we truly see this truth, we transcend it. Once we truly know that life is difficult--once we truly understand and accept it--then life is no longer difficult. Because once it is accepted, the fact that life is difficult no longer matters." (The Road Less Traveled).

Happiness and peace do not always equate with everything in life running smoothly. Happiness and peace are powers that come from within as we live by true and virtuous principles, even amidst adversity. If we continue to be good through difficult times, we learn that God uses BROKEN things to teach us some of life's greatest lessons. It takes broken soil to produce a crop, broken clouds to give rain, broken bread to give strength. It is the broken alabaster box that gives forth perfume....It is Peter, weeping bitterly, who returns to greater power than ever.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Be it unto me.

I have been a little bit surprised at how crazy life has been with my three oldest in the past week. They've been doing so well for the last six weeks, and I wasn’t quite sure what was going on. Today it hit me like a ton of bricks. C and E have been back in school for 2 weeks. I wasn’t factoring in that school anxiety that always seems to hit when the newness starts to wear off. I am now even more grateful and amazed at how important it was to have things happen in the order that they did. I can see that if they had been in school when Dan moved, it would’ve just been far too much for them to handle at the same time. In hindsight, those things that I recognized as small miracles seem like mountains moved just in the nick of time. What incredible blessings. I knew that they were important, I just didn’t realize HOW important until now. It is very interesting to me that it wasn’t until I had given up that timeline that the Lord seemed to step in and make it all happen, anyway. Can I be that way with all my dreams? That has been my prayer lately. “Lord, I only want what you want for me.” Mary said, “Be it unto me according to thy word.” It is the attitude I want in my life right now. When we trust in the Lord, we can know that whatever we must pass through, it will lead us to Him. It is enough.

Friday, August 1, 2008


My journals have meant a great deal to me through the years. I remember my parents sitting us down for Family Home Evening when I was 10, giving us notebooks and pencils and asking us to write. I never stopped. I've kept excellent journals since that time. Admittedly, some of the entries from my early teens are painfully overwrought with gushing emotion. My Dad told me once, when I complained about the teenage me I saw in my journals, "Why should you be embarrassed about having been completely normal?" That changed my thoughts on it forever. My journals have also enlightened and blessed me as I have gone back to look over certain stages of my life, especially my adult life. I am a very positive person, but even I have often allowed disappointments or sadness to cloud memories of certain times in my life which upon looking back through my journals were more filled with happiness than I remembered. Among the things I have forgotten are often fairly important details which clarify and refine my memories, always in positive ways. Journals serve to remind us of small blessings and triumphs when those things might otherwise be lost forever.
With these thoughts in mind, I gave my children notebooks last night along with pens, and asked them to write. A, my 2 1/2 year old girl, drew a few squiggles and declared, "That Me, Mama!" My twelve year old son, T, wrote about the quickly approaching move to middle school. They wrote about where they are, now. Someday, I know they'll look back and be grateful to have these words. The reason I am so sure of that is the fact that this was the summer their father moved into his own apartment. They've been through a lot, and I assume that they will continue to go through a lot. I want them to have a record of the fact that they made it through. It will be a wonderful thing for them to look back and realize all of the blessings that we had, even through the difficulties. I hope that they'll be able to look back and see the loving hand of the Lord the way I have in my own life. I can't think of a better gift that I could give them. It was one of the best Family Home Evenings we've had.