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Sunday, July 21, 2013

Music's Role in our Lives

Family and Friends,

First I wanted to talk a little about the power in music. I heard a lot before my mission about the influence music can have on our Spirituality and lives. I already listened to pretty uplifting music to I didn't pay much attention to the council from so many of the people teaching about it. I found while being on a mission that music is more powerful than I thought. We sing hymns every Sunday at church, even throughout different faiths across the world hymns are one common factor. Why? Because of just how powerful they really are. God promises us in D&C 25:12 that he will answer songs to Him "with a blessing upon their heads". So what about songs negative songs, songs that don't uplift? Let me share an experience:

In Mongolia there are many people that believe in Shamanism. They do weird dances and call devils and evil spirits. They beat on drums in different patterns and beats, praising the devil and calling on his spirits. Now I didn't believe in voodoo and that kinda thing before my mission but coming here has altered that belief. You can feel the evil coming from not only the people that are doing it, but from the music itself. With every beat you can feel the Spirit leaving. There is music in our lives like that.

Music has a big impact on our lives. By singing hymns to Heavenly Father we receive blessings, and by listening to music that uplifts we are happier and our lives will be better. That doesn't mean we need to delete everything off our iPod that isn't a hymn but if there are certain songs or artists that detracts the Spirit from your life, I encourage you to delete it and listen to something else.

Also I have been feeling, and many of my friends on missions have been feeling, doubts about the language, people are teaching, our capabilities, etc. I read this talk in the Liahona about these things:

As a young man I was called to serve a mission in Hamburg, Germany. At the Language Training Mission—the predecessor to today’s missionary training center—I struggled to learn the language. As the first and then the second week passed, I noticed that the others in my district were progressing much faster than I was. While they were advancing to complex concepts, my dies, ders, and dases were a disaster.
I started to become concerned—and discouraged. How could I serve a successful mission if I couldn’t communicate with the people I was called to teach?
I prayed for help and sought a priesthood blessing, which provided some reassurance. But I continued to search and struggle, and one day I felt more uptight and worried than ever. As my companion and I walked down the hallway, I stopped at a small janitor’s closet. I asked my companion to wait for me for a moment. I slipped into that tiny room and knelt down on a mop. I began to plead with Heavenly Father for some relief.
The Lord answered that prayer. I felt this thought come into my mind: “I never called you to master the German language. I just called you to serve with all of your heart, mind, and strength.”
I immediately thought, “I can do that. I can serve with all of my heart, mind, and strength. If that’s what the Lord has called me to do, I can do that.” I stood up feeling tremendously relieved.
From that point on, my measuring stick changed. I no longer gauged my progress and success against that of my companion or other members of my district. Instead, I focused on how the Lord felt I was doing. Instead of looking to the side to compare myself to others, I began to look up, so to speak, to know what He thought of my efforts.
I don’t know that I learned the language much faster or much better from that point on, but I no longer felt the concerns I once had. I knew what the Lord wanted me to do, and it was in my power to do it.
I began counseling with Heavenly Father in the morning, telling Him that I didn’t know what the day would bring but that I would do my very best. “Whatever I can learn, allow me to learn it,” I prayed, “but no matter what, I’m going to give Thee my very best today.”
At night I would pray again to report on what I had studied and what I had done. I shared with my Father in Heaven my struggles and my successes alike. I had begun to turn to Him—not to others or even myself—to validate my progress.
That lesson that I learned in a tiny broom closet more than 35 years ago has stayed with me all my life, through a number of callings and assignments. Whenever I have been asked to do something where the expectations seem greater than what I have the capacity to do, I remember that experience and say to myself, “Wait. Who called you? Who are you serving? Who are you trying to please?
This not only applies to missionaries but also to everyone's lives everywhere. Who are you? You are a child of God, creator of everything and your Heavenly Father. Why are you here? To return to the Celestial kingdom through God's grace and obedience to His commandments. Who are you trying to please? Our Father in Heaven.
I have learned so much from this mission and I am so blessed to be able to apply the things I learn to my investigators and to all of you. God is truly a loving God, and He wants to best for us.
On a less spiritual note...

I had my first Mongolian Shepard's Pie. Not bad, not as good as Mom's of course but still really good. My English sponsor's nanny cooks us lunch whenever we teach and its always super American, its great!!
Fun Fact, did you know that JK Rowling possibly might have stolen her line in Harry Potter about Death being the final enemy to defeat from the Bible? True story.
1st Corinthians 15:26- "The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death."

-Elder Clement

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