ALSO. 2 things. We had lots of birthdays recently! Grandpa Campbell, Jaden (Today! Tell him I love him and give him a big squeeze and arm wrestle him for me). Also ALLIE on the 13th, right??? Woohoo! And Ryan on the... 17th? Right?
ALSO my birthday was great! L's family bought me a cake, and my trainer, Elder L did, too! Elder A gave me a cool Australian tie, I was spoiled.
HAPPY BIRTHDAY EVERYONE! I AM WORKING ON LETTERS SLOWLY BUT SURELY.
We met with L and his family twice, on Tuesday and Friday! They are awesome, as ever, and had kept their commitment to read the BOM intro. But they said they didn't read any more than that. We read 1st Nephi 1 together, explained a bit of it, and they seemed to like it. We invited them to read chapters 2 and 3 before Friday, which they accepted. But when we got back, they hadn't read it. We were a little bummed, cause we know if they would put in the time, they would just SOAR. So we quickly read chapter 2 together, and then moved on with the lesson we had planned: The Sabbath day. We taught it, and they seemed to understand. But they were super hesitant when we invited them to church-- they said in Korea many churches are corrupted, and they didn't want to go. We testified of the power of the Sacrament, and they seemed like they would come. But only one of them ended up coming-- the cousin, named J! We love love love J, he has such a special pure heart. He is 25 and super fun. He fit in well, and had a great experience. We meet them again tomorrow, and we will talk about agency and our power to act-- if we want to really grow and improve we have to change.
Also! Our investigator who was going to get baptized a couple weeks ago is back! He is a great guy and is the man who will marry someone in our branch. We realized he wasn't ready for baptism, so we pushed that back, but we are just strengthening his testimony of the restoration. He came to churchwith his son and was just shining! I fasted that somehow we could get him back, and he came back. I am so grateful for the power of fasting.
That's about all the news for the week. We have been pretty crazy busy here lately, finding lots of cool investigators, including a dad and his son who we play tennis with sometimes! They took us out for dinner and we naturally got into a gospel conversation. We plan to meet again Wednesday.
I had a cool experience during personal study this week.
Those who are familiar with the Book of Mormon will remember the longest chapter-- Jacob 5, the parable of the Olive Tree. Well it is really long and can be confusing, but I studied it this week, and it was amazing to me. I have been reading the Book of Mormon a lot, and have prayed to have my testimony strengthened of it as I have read- -God has more than answered my prayers. As I read, I don't know how to explain it, but it is just like I can feel discernibly that the book is true. It wasn't a one-time powerful experience, but a gradual feeling of the truth of the book. I love the book!
So, the parable: Basically a gardener has an old olive tree that is dying. He prunes and fertilizes the tree in an effort to save it, to no avail, so he has an idea-- take the wild olive trees and graft their young branches into the old tame tree, counting on the power of the roots of the tame tree to produce the desired sweet fruit. He also grafts the old olive tree's young shoots into wild trees elsewhere in his garden.
While at first the trees produce good fruit, eventually they produce undesired fruit-- the gardener and his helper had done all they could to take care of the sensitive trees, but the more easily flourishing wild branches and roots took over the delicate branches which produced the fruit he wanted.
In the end, the gardner's idea is to slowly cut off and burn the wild branches from the main tree, grafting back into the tree the branches he had grafted into the wild trees in the other part of his garden. He would also graft some of the mother trees branches to the outer wild trees once more.
Well, it works, and somehow all of the trees produce the desired fruit. This parable is originally to prophecy and remark on the scattering and gathering of the people of Israel, figuratively, and literally, but I saw it in a different light this time.
The part I liked was the last part-- about the regrafting. The Lord of the Vineyard, the gardener, has worked with these trees for so long, and yet they do not produce the fruit He needs, the fruit he knows they are capable of producing. It breaks his heart to see them not reach their potential, and he, several times, weeps over them.
There is much to learn when we view the parable as God as the gardener, and us, as the tree.
1st-- when the tree becomes corrupted, the gardener mourns, "Who is it that has corrupted my vineyard?" (vs 47) and "What could I have done more for my vineyard?" (vs 49). The servant suggests "Is it not the loftiness of thy vineyard—have not the branches thereof overcome the roots which are good?" The branches of the tree did not realize their roots nor their nourisher, and grew up for themselves, symbolic of pride. How often do we forget that it is God that has provided everything for us, that any success we have is due to God either providing it or allowing it, and that He too, could change it all in one word? Gratitude for what we have is an antidote to pride.
2nd-- One looking at this parable might wonder- -why? Why keep changing the branches? What will that do? After all, when grafting or pruning trees, they can go through tremendous stress-- grafts can often fail, the leaves of the tree yellow, it can began to wilt.
Yet the gardener explains why he is grafting back into the tree whose lofty and bitter branches had overcome its pure roots: "And this I do that, perhaps, the roots thereof may take strength because of their goodness; and because of the change of the branches, that the good may overcome the evil." (vs 59)
I think there is a lot for us to learn here: God gives us change and trials because it brings us back to our roots, to remember who we are, who it is who feeds us and nourishes us and takes care of us. It points us back to him when we overgrow and become arrogant, prideful, or overly concerned with the world.
One last principle is learned as the gardener instructs his servant on how to take care of the grafts as he raises them:
And as they begin to grow ye shall clear away the branches which bring forth bitter fruit, according to the strength of the good and the size thereof; and ye shall not clear away the bad thereof all at once, lest the roots thereof should be too strong for the graft, and the graft thereof shall perish, and I lose the trees of my vineyard."
God is patient with us as we grow, inviting us to repent and improve at that pace which is possible to us, not overwhelming us. He is loving in all His corrections.
LOVE YOU ALL!