Monday, May 4, 2015

5-4-15 President's Weekly Letter

Dear Elders and Sisters,

This past week I have been thinking of the sacrifices that each of you have made in order to answer the call to serve the Lord. Yesterday after sacrament meeting I was chatting with some members who expressed their gratitude for our full-time missionaries and amazement at how willing they are to serve. I replied that you literally could not hire young people to do what you are doing. And if you could, they would not perform their labors with as much care and diligence as you, who not only receive no wages for your work, but also pay your own expenses. Truly the manner in which we serve others as missionaries is a significant part of what Isaiah called “a marvelous work and a wonder” (2Ne. 26:27).

I love the following story, related by President Thomas S. Monson, in the April 2008 Ensign about a young violinist:

Benjamin Landart…in 1888, was 15 years old and an accomplished violinist. Living on a farm in northern Utah with his mother and seven brothers and sisters was sometimes a challenge to Benjamin, as he had less time than he would have liked to play his violin. Occasionally his mother would lock up the violin until he had his farm chores done, so great was the temptation for Benjamin to play it.
In late 1892 Benjamin was asked to travel to Salt Lake to audition for a place with the territorial orchestra. For him, this was a dream come true. After several weeks of practicing and prayers, he went to Salt Lake in March of 1893 for the much-anticipated audition. When he heard Benjamin play, the conductor, a Mr. Dean, said Benjamin was the most accomplished violinist he had heard west of Denver. Benjamin was told to report to Denver for rehearsals in the fall and learned that he would be earning enough to keep himself, with some left over to send home.
A week after Benjamin received this good news, however, his bishop called him into his office and asked if Benjamin couldn’t put off playing with the orchestra for a couple of years. The bishop told Benjamin that before he started earning money, there was something he owed the Lord. The bishop then asked Benjamin to accept a mission call.
Benjamin felt that giving up his chance to play in the territorial orchestra would be almost more than he could bear, but he also knew what his decision should be. He promised the bishop that if there were any way to raise the money for him to serve, he would accept the call.
When Benjamin told his mother about the call, she was overjoyed. She told him that his father had always wanted to serve a mission but had been killed before that opportunity had come to him. However, when they discussed the financing of the mission, her face clouded over. Benjamin told her he would not allow her to sell any more of their land. She studied his face for a moment and then said, “Ben, there is a way we can raise the money. This family [has] one thing that is of great enough value to send you on your mission. You will have to sell your violin.”
Six days later, on March 23, 1893, Benjamin wrote in his journal: “I awoke this morning and took my violin from its case. All day long I played the music I love. In the evening when the light grew dim and I could see to play no longer, I placed the instrument in its case. It will be enough. Tomorrow I leave [for my mission].”
Forty-five years later, on June 23, 1938, Benjamin wrote in his journal: “The greatest decision I ever made in my life was to give up something I dearly loved to the God I loved even more. He has never forgotten me for it.”

It is my firm belief that our sacrifices, great or small, are precious to the Lord and He will remember them. Sacrifice is one of the things that we must do to qualify for the blessings of Heaven. It is one of the ways that we can demonstrate our love for the Lord. As we give of ourselves cheerfully and willingly, the Lord will compensate us with blessings that we could never have imagined. “But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him” (1Cor. 2:9).

We are looking forward to seeing you in zone conferences on May 12 (Taichung zones), May 13 (Zhongxing/Jiayi/Tainan), and May 14 (Gaoxiong zones).  In ZTM tomorrow, your zone leaders will give you a copy of a talk entitled, “The Consecrated Missionary,” by Bishop Gerald Causse. Please study it prior to zone conference and come prepared to discuss what you have learned.

President Blickenstaff
Mentor of Champions

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