Sunday, December 11, 2016

The Opportunity to Choose

I have not had an opportunity to email these last 2 weeks…and as I opened up my email today, I was overwhelmed by many messages from people all around the world encouraging me and telling me that everything was going to be OK. Your messages bring tears to my eyes. I cannot express in words how much I appreciate your prayers and your faith. From the bottom of my heart - Thank you. 

This last week I had the opportunity of reflecting a lot about how much the Lord blesses us. Elder Saunders and I traveled with Elder and Sister Carter to a nearby province to donate water wells and bathrooms to 3 schools. 

These children were so excited to get these toilets and water. It meant so much to them. 
They threw big celebrations in our honor, fed us with the best food they had, danced for us, and smiled at us. 

There is a tradition that we participate in. It is a Buddhist ceremony called "Barci" where each person present blesses you and ties a white string around your wrist. The village people putting these strings around our wrists ranged in age from 16-70. 

As I looked into the faces of these farmers, I could see the gratitude. I could feel of their appreciation and their love for me and for DIC. All we gave them were a couple of fancy outhouses and a water tank, and it meant the world to them. 

My prayers and my spirit were revived this week as hundreds of these people looked into my eyes and said, "Thank you." It was an experience I will never forget. Our prayers get answered in strange ways. In this way, I could feel all of your prayers and your strength through participating in a Buddhist religious ceremony… who would've thought. :) You don't need to worry about me Mom. I am going to be OK. I just need to worry about the members. If you want to pray for anyone… pray for THEM. 

As different challenges and difficulties come into our lives, we are confronted with many choices. It is interesting to note that the central point in creating the Plan of Salvation was weighed on the ability to choose. The two major parties, Lucifer and Christ, duked it out in heaven just over this simple principle of choice. Boy… I take it for granted sometimes. Choosing to work hard. Choosing to be obedient. Choosing to take the right path (even if it will be the harder one). Choosing to be lazy. Choosing to be happy. Choosing to lift others. Choosing to eat PB&J or oatmeal. Choosing to start studies late. Choosing to forget yourself. The choices that we make have a large determining influence on our character. 

I’m going to get scientific for a bit here…stay with me for a sec...
Studies show that the way our brain cells work is that the more we think about certain things, the more we train our dendrites to “fire” certain ways and literally grow closer to each other. So the more we think about good things, our brain physically changes to accommodate that positive charge. Our bodies want to fire those emotions as quickly as they can, so our brain (being the smart cookie that it is) physically changes the length at which the electrical charge through the dendrites has to travel. The same thing applies with thoughts that we don't entertain as much…except that the dendrites or whatever it is that shoots off these electrical charges, actually shrink in size and grow farther apart because we don’t use them as much. If a quarterback is going to throw a football, we all know that it is going to be faster if he throws it to the receiver 15 yards away than throwing to a receiver 80 yards away. The same thing applies when sending emotions across your brain.  So if you keep thinking about good things regularly, your brain has an easier time shooting the good emotion impulse through your brain than the bad emotion - all because your body can process it faster because you have literally grown and trained your brain to "throw the 15 yard" emotion. So if we think more positively, over time, the positive emotions will be fired more quickly than the negative emotions.  If that last part didn't make sense… don't worry about it. I don't really understand it either hahahahaha. Science is my weakest subject honestly. #livingwithplantsneveragain

As children of our Heavenly Father, we have the opportunity to choose. We can choose right from wrong, better or best, Yankees or Red Sox, calculator watch or Rolex (calculator watch every time people - come on). With these choices, we literally change the makeup of our brain. No wonder it was such an incredible gift. The ability to change our character through making choices???? That is a risky gift for a dad to give to his kids. (And you thought buying an Xbox for Christmas was a big step!) 

Heavenly Father gave us the opportunity to choose because he loves us. We don't have a church. Yes OK… let's move on. Let's choose to be proactive in the missionary work we can do. We can't teach investigators. Yes OK…. Let's move on. We can choose to teach them over the phone or have them read church materials. We can't invite. Yes OK…. Let's move on. We can be disciples of Christ through loving each person we meet the way Christ would want… whether they know who he is or not. 

I testify that our choices make a difference. And sometimes, times get really tough. Yes they do… I am not denying that. Every day here in Laos right now is pretty brutal. As you could see from my last email, I get down sometimes. Yes OK… let's move on. Our choices make a difference. I choose faith, I choose charity, I choose the calculator watch, and I choose Christ. He will carry us home. He always has, and he always will. It is a great day in the kingdom. Let's move on! 

Love the Lord and Laugh, 
ອັບຣາຮາມ ສະມິດ-ດິກສ

Abraham Smith-Driggs  

No comments:

Post a Comment