This morning we were up at 4:30 AM.... Pumped and ready to watch some Bull Riding with Brother Taylor in our ward (Two-time world champion Bull rider)
He had invited us last night to watch him ride at 5. Turns out as we were sitting on his doorstep at 4:50 a.m. we realized he may have meant 5 pm soooo needless to say we are a little tired today and sad we didn't get to watch him. But we might make it out there tonight haha.
Here is a video clip of Tommy Taylor riding:
His ride appears at 22 seconds. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WnY9pvQOGGI
This week was pretty interesting. The earlier part of the week we spent mulling around the area saying goodbye to families (Elder Fox was getting transferred) He ended up going down to Alamoosa to be a zone leader.
On Tuesday we had transfer meeting. This happens every 6 weeks and one of the major events is training assignments! I am going to be a trainer these next two transfers so I was going to get called up! There were 9 new sister missionaries and 5 elders. 2 of the elders were Spanish speaking so I knew there was only 3 possible choices! My new companion is Elder Johns! He is from Fredericksburg, Iowa and loves to play sports and sing. He was in show choir for all of high school. We wasted no time this week jumping right into the work. We taught many lessons- one however more interesting than all of the others.
On Wednesday evening we were having scripture study with an older woman who lives out in Peyton. About 15 minutes into it, her daughter in law who is a member of the Jehovah's Witness Faith came home from her daily proselyting. We asked her if she wanted to sit down with us and join our discussion. She kindly declined and almost walked away when I asked her to teach me why they do not celebrate Christmas! Needless to say an hour and a half later we had a full lengthy discussion and very civil at that.
From what I could see the biggest difference in our religions are fundamentally we believe God the Father is a loving warm God and they believe he is a vengeful and wrath-filled God. It was very sad to me when she explained to us that only a certain amount (144,000) of people are going to heaven - and she believes she is not!! In fact, none of the people in her local congregation believe they are! How sad to live your entire life just dreading the day when God "zaps you" as she put it.
As Mormons we fundamentally believe that God is our loving Heavenly Father and because of that he will do everything in his power to help us and strengthen us throughout life. (And beyond that). Kind of like what any Father wants for their son or daughter - Multiplied by a million and without any earthly interference. We are going back this Tuesday.
Yesterday we filled in for a Sunday School teacher who was ill. We had the wonderful opportunity to teach the 5 and 6 year old children in our ward (congregation). The faith of a child is amazing to me. What takes scholars and scientists years to deliberate and decide on is just common knowledge for a young child. This faith however is not a blind hope. It is a pure and innocent recognition of the simple fact that God is good and families are important. It isn't rooted in vain indoctrination nor foolish stories they are told over and over! This is the pristine awareness that only a pure young child can possess. It was a great blessing to witness this firsthand.
On Sunday we were asked to give talks along with Brother Taylor (the world champ bull rider mentioned above). I will attach my talk below but I would like to take this opportunity to talk about Brother Taylor & his wife. Brother Taylor's wife was raised in Massachusetts in a liberal household. She was raised with certain beliefs and ideas about God and religion (just like most of us are). When they first met they were both working at the Air Force cademy (both had graduated from the Academy as well). Brother Taylor had served a 2-year mission (like what I am doing) in Argentina - and his soon to be wife had some experiences that brought her even further away from God and religion.
Despite these somewhat glaring differences in belief they hit it off right away. It is hard to describe Lauren like Brother Taylor did - he loved her so much from the very first moment they met. When he talks about her you envy their relationship right away. Needless to say, shortly after they started dating they were married. Something unique about our church is that we believe that families can be together forever! Most people have seen a Mormon temple before but few really know what they are for. We believe they are sacred because that is where we can get married and sealed together for time and all eternity! Not till death do we part. So needless to say, Brother Taylor loved his wife so very much, naturally he wanted them to be married in the temple! However his wife was not very interested in God and really had some doubts about it. Obviously, though she really loved her husband and respected what he believed and so she decided to have the missionaries over and talk to her about what the church was really all about.
It was not easy for them at this time- because right when she began to take the missionary lessons, Brother Taylor had to leave for 9 months! It was tough. Lauren (Sister Taylor) asked the missionaries really really tough questions that came right from her heart. She asked those 18 and 19 year old young men every little doubt, question, or inquiry she had in her heart. She sincerely wanted to know things like- did God really love her, Is the Book of Mormon true? and other questions like that.
One particular night the missionaries left her with a scripture to read from the Book of Mormon. Sister Taylor by this time had already read the Book of Mormon several times (she had an MBA at age 25 while being a 1st Lt , Teaching English at the Air Force Academy so needless to say she is pretty smart.) That scripture was Moroni Chapter 10 verses 4 and 5.
Right after she prayed and was about to go to sleep - Brother Taylor sent her a little video about Eternal love. https://youtu.be/KdCPMwhvJ88
After she saw the video and read the scripture she really felt the spirit. Although she had doubts - her faith overcame her fear and her determination and love overcame her shortcomings. She KNEW she wanted that eternal marriage. And that is exactly what she set out to do. Brother Taylor was able to come home and baptize her. This past summer they were able to go to the Temple in Washington DC (where my parents were married) and get married for eternity. It is a beautiful story but what makes it even more fulfilling is the fact that it is true.
The gospel truly can change lives and that is exactly why I am on a mission!!
I love all of you guys and hope to hear from you soon!!
Elder Tyler Clancy
My talk from Sunday's Sacrament Meeting:
The prophet Amos spoke of a time where there would be a famine on the earth. This famine wouldn't be of a hunger for bread - nor a thirst for water. He said "They shall wander from the North even to the East...They shall run to and fro to seek the word of the Lord and shall not find it." A spiritual famine if you will.
You don't have to have a PhD in Global affairs to realize today, that many people are lost and without the truth. In far off lands, leaders with an iron grip of authoritarian rule prefer to keep their people in ignorance to religion and the truth, rather than allow them to worship freely. There are millions who have not heard Jesus's sacred name.
The same rings true in the sweltering sands of the middle east. Fanatic religious tyrants do not even allow the slightest search for truth, if one believes that truth lies elsewhere.
Even in modernized, developed, western countries, the compass of righteousness lies askew. As society and mass media constantly inundate their viewers with odious immorality and egregious vulgarity - one should not wonder why our young folks reflect such filth.
But this afternoon however, I wish not to speak of fallacies in far off lands. No this afternoon I would like to speak of the crisis of value that lies within our neighborhoods and our communities. This isn't an imaginary problem found in a textbook. You won't hear of this in a college class. This is however, a venomous virus that I witness firsthand everyday as a missionary for the church.
This Virus has many forms and varieties- which people claim countless catharsis but let me assure you there is only one cure. This disease that I speak of is that of spiritual poverty. Chances are, you and I both know someone afflicted with this pain.
In the Book of Mormon, (Mosiah Chapter 4 verse sixteen) King Benjamin admonishes his people to impart of their substance unto the poor. Many people when they read this (rightly so) believe that this speaks to giving physical substance to the poor (which I am sure it does). But as we know, in the scriptures there is always a deeper meaning. Obviously when Jesus admonishes Simon Peter to "Feed his Sheep" he doesn't mean for Simon to go out back and give some corn to his livestock....he is telling Simon to serve his fellow sisters and brethren. Likewise this dichotomy exists in Mosiah 4:16!
And also, ye yourselves will succor those that stand in need of your succor; ye will administer of your substance unto him that standeth in need; and ye will not suffer that the beggar putteth up his petition to you in vain, and turn him out to perish.
This holiday season in Colorado, 31.9% of Women and Children will spend Christmas in Poverty. These young mothers will struggle and scrape futilely to make ends meet. Saving every dime and penny to make the holidays special for their beloved children. Christmas night, as these voiceless nameless children of our Heavenly Father lie down to sleep - they will wrestle with the hunger in their bellies but more so - the pain that they couldn't do enough for their young son or daughter. But not too far down the road from this home of broken dreams and what if's- there is another house.
This house lies in stark contrast of the former. Saturated in gifts, gadgets, and goodies - the children who reside in this home will not hunger for material needs. However as I spoke of before, there is another poverty in this society of ours. This poverty isn't as tangible or as visually noticeable as physical poverty.
In the second home - Filled with every physical desire these children could dream of....there is still something missing. This gaping void becomes noticeable after all the laughter and the smiles wind down for the evening. When the night is nigh and almost everyone is asleep. When the young boy with the innocent curiosity only a child could posses, asks a simple yet potent question - "Dad who is Jesus, and what do we celebrate Christmas for?". As the young man's father searches and stumbles with his words...This poverty becomes apparent. As the father, embarrassed and confused lies down to sleep, a hole ever growing larger in his heart...This poverty becomes apparent. As his young son ambles down the hallway, catching a glimpse of the winter stars - wonders to himself "Where did I come from?" "Where am I going when I die?" Why am I here?"....This poverty becomes apparent.
This Christmas in Colorado - over 10,000 of our brothers and sisters will sleep on street corners, under bridges, and in freezing ditches...Homeless and no where to rest their weary body. But how many of your neighbors will spend their holidays without the strong spiritual foundation they need, to provide their family with spiritual safety to keep them safe from the wild winds of this world. The spiritual homeless one might call them, with nowhere to rest their weary souls
This Christmas over 1.5 million people all across America will spend the holiday season in prison. Isolated from their family and friends because of mistakes they have made. No one would wish that upon anyone, but think about how many loved ones you hold close to your heart - that will spend the winter spiritually incarcerated. Lost and wondering the same old a dead end avenues of pain and suffering. How many friends do you have that have their soul shackled and locked with the manacles of past sins or mistakes, mistakes that they just can't let go of. You may refer to these folks as the spiritually imprisoned.
But do not lose hope my friends, for their is hope sitting right in front of me. As you sit in these very pews you are manifesting to your Heavenly Father that you have the substance to impart to your starving brethren. You have the materials to help your neighbor build his foundation. You have the key to release your loved one from the shackles of the past and the medicine that will heal those painful wounds. Brothers and sisters we have the gospel of Jesus Christ on the earth today and it is here to comfort those who are afflicted.
I know what I am asking is not easy. But anything that was ever worth something wasn't easy to achieve. When the winds begin to howl and the waters begin to churn, strong men and women dig down, dig deeper, and keep pushing down the rocky road of righteousness. Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. once said - "The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands in times of challenge and controversy. The true neighbor will risk his position, his prestige, and even his life for the welfare of others. In dangerous valleys and hazardous pathways he will lift some bruised and beaten brother to a higher and more noble life."
I am sure it wasn't easy for Dr. King to turn the other cheek as he was being spit upon by racist fools. I know it wasn't easy for him to continue to preach non violence as women and children he knew personally and loved were being bludgeoned and bloodied on the streets in front of his teary eyes. Many of you sitting here know it isn't easy for a soldier to leave home and fight a war in a far off lands. In some respects it is even harder to say goodbye to that soldier you love and to keep fighting battles here at home everyday. But brothers and sisters it wasn't easy for Jesus Christ our Lord to drink the bitter cup of sin and death...but he did...for us.
We need not suffer aimlessly like Don Quixote or struggle based on mere principle alone. There are people all around us who need that soothing soul healing gospel of Jesus Christ. From the stay at home mom working hard to keep her kids in check, to the young man who is ostracized by his friends and family after coming out, to the young veteran barely old enough to rent a car returning home from Kuwait. Everyone needs help. Tonight as we lay down to rest a young mother will check into a shelter for victims of domestic violence. She needs a warm meal and a warm blanket for her and her son, but even more importantly she needs to know she is loved. She needs to know her Heavenly Father has not abandoned her, even if everyone else in this world has. She needs to realize he knows every hair on her head and each tear she has let hit the floor. She is loved beyond measure.
As Diciples of Christ it is up to us to do as Jesus told Simon Peter - Feed his sheep. Dr. King speaking of compassion in 1967 said - On the one hand, we are called to play the Good Samaritan on life's roadside, but that will be only an initial act. One day we must come to see that the whole Jericho Road must be transformed so that men and women will not be constantly beaten and robbed as they make their journey on life's highway. True compassion is more than flinging a coin to a beggar. It comes to see that an edifice which produces beggars needs restructuring. Let us rebuild this Jericho Road together. If we each do our part we can transform these broken hearts of pain and suffering. Let us make sure that everyone has the opportunity to be healed by our loving Savior, The First Born, Only Begotten son of our Heavenly Father. I say these things in his sacred name Jesus Christ - Amen.
|NERF wars for the fun of it!|
|"Three generations" Elder Fox, Elder Clancy and Elder Johns|
|Lumberjacking it at the P's house!!|
|Elder Johns was new and in missionary slang|
we say "he's a greenie". So in classic form,
the sweet P family created a dinner where everything