Sunday, January 31, 2016

Service, Spirit & Sincerity

I have received a lot of emails lately about tips on becoming a successful missionary. I have been thinking pretty hard about what really makes the difference in missionary work. There are 3 things I have identified that take a mission to the next level. 
One of my favorite stories of missionary work comes from the Book of Mormon. That story is the story of Ammon.
Ammon was a young man who, along with his brothers, decided to serve a mission and share the gospel that they loved so much! Kind of like me. However one difference between our missions was that Ammon chose where he wanted to serve his mission. Now personally (nothing against Colorado Springs)- I probably would have chose like Spain, Tahiti, or maybe Hawaii. Colorado is a little cold for me! When I got my call to Colorado Springs I went online and checked it out a bit. I saw that is was majority republican, the elevation, etc just little things like that. Nothing really stuck out to me. But here is the description of where Ammon went on his mission:
 14 And assuredly it was great, for they had undertaken to preach the word of God to wild and hardened and ferocious people; people who delighted in murdering the Nephites (Ammon was a Nephite)and robbing and plundering them; and their hearts were set upon riches, or upon gold and silver, and precious stones; yet they sought to obtain these things by murdering and plundering, that they might not labor for them with their own hands.
 15 Thus they were very indolent people, many of whom did worship idols, and the curse of God had fallen upon them because of the traditions of their fathers; notwithstanding the promises of the Lord were extended unto them on the conditions of repentance. (Alma 17:14- 15)
Wow....If when I went online and researched Colorado Springs I found out they liked to kill Mormon missionaries...I would probably have second thoughts about packing up my suitcase to say the least! But on a serious note, it amazes me and humbles me to see that regardless of this apparent animosity, Ammon was able to feel love for these people. He wanted them to have the wonderful gift of the gospel in their lives. 
For me (and I think most human beings) it is hard to comprehend how anyone could hate so vitriolically. The only modern parallel I could make is the current situation in the Gaza strip. I think that what Ammon did was similar to if an 18-20 year old Israeli boy decided he wanted to go and preach his religion to HAMAS operatives in Lebanon. It would be inconceivable but yet Ammon did exactly that! 
As we read further on in the scriptures we see that (not surprisingly) when Ammon got close to the land of Ishmael he was tied up and brought before the king. The king was confused...He probably wondered if this young man was 100% there in the head. He asked Ammon what his desire in coming to this land was? Ammon humbly replied that he wanted to serve. This, although a small physical portion of the actual chapter in the Book of Mormon is what I deem one of the key attributes of a true missionary. He didn't just barge in the front door and try to preach to them. The same goes for us. I don't think that anyone would listen to me if I just knocked on their front door and began to tell them what I believed! (Ok probably someone would but..) It would be much more effective to serve before you teach! You have to show people that you care! If you look at what Jesus did when he was on the earth- he did the same thing! We can all learn from Ammon's example and the maxim of "Preach the gospel at all times, and if necessary use words!". As missionaries we do tons of service from shoveling rocks to cleaning out storage units. We don't do it as a token empty act & expect reciprocation, we do it because service is an outward manifestation of our love for our fellow man and our Savior. 
Fortunately for Ammon, the King in this instance  (His name was King Lamoni) WAS interested in his message. Ammon ended up teaching King Lamoni and King Lamoni & many of his people were converted to Christianity as well. Another major reason why Ammon was so sucessful in his missionary endeavor is pointed out in Alma Chapter 17 verse 3: 
But this is not all; they had given themselves to much prayer, and fastingtherefore they had the spirit of prophecy, and the spirit of revelation, and when they taught, they taught with power and authority of God.
That last sentence is indicative of the second attribute of a successful missionary - Having the spirit of the lord with him. 
So now we have two of the qualities that made Ammon the man & missionary he was. Service & Spirit. The final piece of the puzzle is Sincerity.  
To truly get a grasp for Ammon's sincerity you must understand his past. Ammon wasn't always a straight shooter. To be honest that is an understatement. He wasn't just a silly teenager who made a mistake or two here or there. Ammon and his brothers went about actively destroying the church, both physically and verbally. It wasn't until he had an amazing change of heart that he began to be an amazing servant of the Lord. You see, Ammon had seen both sides of the coin. He lived both lives, one of wickedness and one of righteousness. This created his conviction. Because he knew the power & happiness the Gospel of Jesus Christ brings to people's lives he sincerely had concern for the spiritual welfare & joy of others around him. I want to emphasize this point. He wasn't "blindly obedient" his obedience was 20/20. That is really what we must strive for. 
There is a principle in economics that Adam Smith coined called the paradox of value. In his works, Smith points out that practical things that we use every day often have little or no value in exchange. Things like cups, utensils, socks, and water are a few examples. On the other hand, things that often have the greatest value in the market have little or no practical use. An example may be an old piece of art or 1920s baseball card. Other than looking at it, there isn't much else we can do with the art or baseball card. So, why are things valued this way? The answer is perception! If you perceive that water is a tool used for birdbaths or washing your hands, you will treat it like that, instead of the crucial necessity  that it is. So the same goes for religion. If people treat it like a place you go on Sunday then that's how it will be viewed & folks will continue to be more interested in Netflix than their eternal salvation. However, if you show others that it is a lifestyle and etched into your soul the flip side will be true as well.  I know that if we live our lives as an example and show genuine care for others the spirit of the Lord will be with us and help us bring others to Christ.
Love you guys,
Elder Clancy
The Root Family -
They are great and have lots of faith.

Peyton Wrestling Match

This is the Wagner Family. Zach is a green beret.. Super buff haha.
Their son Talon is 4 and already wrestles!! haha. They are a great family. 
This is the Pugsley family they are amazing. #goals 
This is the Rhodes family. It was my "last supper" in Falcon
They are committed to work on my presidential campaign in Colorado in 2036

This is last night at Sister Pirzadeh's birthday party. 


I think there comes a time in every young man's life - when he has moved out,  is on his own, and he realizes how much he loves his mom. I don't think there is a way that you can't take your mother for granted when you live with her. She does so much for you that it is impossible to see all of the little things every single day. 
From the very start of it all mothers sacrifice so much for their children both physically and emotionally. Besides the obvious of being pregnant it is a huge change in a mothers life to now all of a sudden realize they have a child to take around! I have heard people say that it is hard to raise a toddler.... well I am sure it was a harrowing experience for my mother to raise me at all stages of life. 

Hopefully when I am a dad I don' have a child who is as crazy as myself.. but I am so grateful for my mom. Through thick and thin she was there for me the whole time. I definitely was not worthy of all of her love but nonetheless she gave it to me. 
I remember art projects,
trips to Savannah
talking on lonnnng car rides
her constant "help" in school ;)   (constantly checking on my grades which NOW I can say I am grateful for) 
knowing something was wrong even if I said everything was ok
home ec tips
instilling in me a love of reading
not only teaching me, but showing me by example to treat others with respect
always trying to get me to "walk a mile in someones shoes"
hearing me out
supporting me at virtually all of my extra curricular events
going to bat for me when I needed her
taking pictures
taking pictures & 
taking pictures
always encouraging me to be professional and mature
always "encouraging" me to write thank you notes.... 
second, third, and fourth chances
reassuring me that I won't be a failure in life...continually
and most importantly making sure that I follow my dreams no matter what.

Elder Jeffery R. Holland said in a talk given this October, 

"Today I declare from this pulpit what has been said here before: that no love in mortality comes closer to approximating the pure love of Jesus Christ than the selfless love a devoted mother has for her child. When Isaiah, speaking messianically, wanted to convey Jehovah’s love, he invoked the image of a mother’s devotion. “Can a woman forget her sucking child?” he asks. How absurd, he implies, though not as absurd as thinking Christ will ever forget us.7
This kind of resolute love “suffereth long, and is kind, … seeketh not her own, … but … beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things.”8 Most encouraging of all, such fidelity “never faileth.”9 “For the mountains shall depart and the hills be removed,” Jehovah said, “but my kindness shall not depart from thee.”10 So too say our mothers."
I wholeheartedly agree with Elder Holland, one of the most amazing facts about our Savior, Jesus Christ - is that he loves us even when we don't deserve it at all! My mom is the exact same. I can say that I definitely don't deserve all that my mother does for me continually each and every day but I am just so blessed to have her in my life.
I could probably write 100 letters filled with stories and memories of my mom & I, but I am a firm believer that the future is more important than the past. In that respect, the greatest gift I can give my mom is to live my life in a way that would make her proud (some grandkids would probably make her happy too). :-)
Love & hugs,

Elder Clancy