June 17, 2013
Elder Palmer and I had a pretty busy weekend. The entire Newcastle Zone was asked by the Stake President to help out with this massive youth activity that they were having in Stafford. There was youth from all 7 stakes in the mission and some others outside the mission as well. In total there was about 400 youth there. We were the leaders of different groups and took them to different stations where they had obstacle courses and other games. It was pretty fun but dead tiring. It was nice to be able to do something a bit different though.
Hopefully everyone had a great Fathers Day. They had a special service at church with the Primary kids singing. It reminded me off when I had to do things like that when I was that age. There was one kid in the back who refused to sing. Exactly like me! haha. It was fun to see though.
Things are going really well in our area right now. Lisa, one of the people we are teaching, Is going to be getting married this Saturday at the church so she can get baptized the following week! She's getting pretty nervous about it. It'll be an experience that's for sure. I've never been to a wedding before on my mission so we'll see how it goes. We might have another wedding coming up with someone else we're teaching named Margaret. She's from Glasgow, Scotland. And she's been progressing a lot these last few weeks and now her and her boyfriend are talking about getting married in our church as well. She's already expressed a desire to be baptized so marriage is the next hurdle.
I've been learning some funny things about the English language this past week. The people here in this area are hilarious. For some reason they call everyone "Duck". You walk down the street and say hello to some one and they respond, "Y'alright Duck". Margaret has been teaching me Scottish as well. She says the always call everyone "Jimmy". I've decided Scottish is the best accent by far. We get Margaret to say things for us because it's so funny. So far the best is "Power Hour". It can be pretty difficult to understand though. Her cousin was down from Glasgow last week and we she would talk to me all I could do was stare blankly at her and nod my head. CRAZY! complete different language.
I've been learning loads about the Atonement recently. I want to share a bit from a talk I recently read by Brad Wilcox.
The miracle of the Atonement is not just that we can live after we die but that we can live more abundantly (see John 10:10). The miracle of the Atonement is not just that we can be cleansed and consoled but that we can be transformed (see Romans 8). Scriptures make it clear that no unclean thing can dwell with God (see Alma 40:26), but, brothers and sisters, no unchanged thing will even want to.
I know a young man who just got out of prison—again. Each time two roads diverge in a yellow wood, he takes the wrong one—every time. When he was a teenager dealing with every bad habit a teenage boy can have, I said to his father, “We need to get him to EFY.” I have worked with that program since 1985. I know the good it can do.
His dad said, “I can’t afford that.”
I said, “I can’t afford it either, but you put some in, and I’ll put some in, and then we’ll go to my mom, because she is a real softy.”
We finally got the kid to EFY, but how long do you think he lasted? Not even a day. By the end of the first day he called his mother and said, “Get me out of here!” Heaven will not be heaven for those who have not chosen to be heavenly.
In the past I had a picture in my mind of what the final judgment would be like, and it went something like this: Jesus standing there with a clipboard and Brad standing on the other side of the room nervously looking at Jesus.
Jesus checks His clipboard and says, “Oh, shoot, Brad. You missed it by two points.”
Brad begs Jesus, “Please, check the essay question one more time! There have to be two points you can squeeze out of that essay.” That’s how I always saw it.
But the older I get, and the more I understand this wonderful plan of redemption, the more I realize that in the final judgment it will not be the unrepentant sinner begging Jesus, “Let me stay.” No, he will probably be saying, “Get me out of here!” Knowing Christ’s character, I believe that if anyone is going to be begging on that occasion, it would probably be Jesus begging the unrepentant sinner, “Please, choose to stay. Please, use my Atonement—not just to be cleansed but to be changed so that you want to stay.”
The miracle of the Atonement is not just that we can go home but that—miraculously—we can feel at home there. If Christ did not require faith and repentance, then there would be no desire to change. Think of your friends and family members who have chosen to live without faith and without repentance. They don’t want to change. They are not trying to abandon sin and become comfortable with God. Rather, they are trying to abandon God and become comfortable with sin. If Jesus did not require covenants and bestow the gift of the Holy Ghost, then there would be no way to change. We would be left forever with only willpower, with no access to His power. If Jesus did not require endurance to the end, then there would be no internalization of those changes over time. They would forever be surface and cosmetic rather than sinking inside us and becoming part of us—part of who we are. Put simply, if Jesus didn’t require practice, then we would never become pianists.
This talk taught me a lot about Christ and His Atonement. It's something I'm extremely grateful for and something that has transformed my life. I love you all so much! Thank you for all of your love and support. I'll speak to you soon!
Love Elder Ford