Thursday, March 31, 2016

Easter #2/ All scars have a story

One of my earliest memories is an interesting one to say the least...

On my 5th birthday we had a lot of family and friends over! We were doing what I loved most - playing sports (in this instance, baseball!). For one of my gifts I was given a full baseball set - uniform, hat, glove,and a bat all included. It was great!! 

We were having a blast (or a "ball" should I say) and everyone was enjoying themselves. For whatever reason, my 5-year-old self decided I did NOT want to play catcher anymore! In fact, I was so set on not playing catcher that I couldn't even wait until the batter was done hitting....yep I took a brand new bat to the face in a full swing!

A long trip to the hospital and 7 stitches later - I now have a scar under my eye! Even though I am now 19, 14 years later - I can still see where I was hit with the swing!

Scars are an interesting vehicle of nostalgia. Scars come in all shapes and sizes - from my own scar from a silly mistake in my youth, to large ones on a veteran from battle in a far off land. Some survivors of the Holocaust still have their prisoner number branded into their forearm, a constant reminder of the hell they once lived through. 
Some scars aren't visible. 
Regardless of the diversity of scars  - they all have one thing in common; They all have a story, they are proof of conquering a challenge. Proof that God heals.

In this Easter season - there is one story of scars that trumps all.
After suffering for all of the world's sins, enduring merciless temptation, and a terrible crucifixion, Jesus Christ rose from the tomb.  
He overcame all of this for us! 

When he returned to his apostles he said 

Arise and come forth unto me, that ye may thrust your hands into my side, and also that ye may feel the prints of the nails in my hands and in my feet, that ye may know that am the God of Israel, and the God of the whole earthand have been slain for the sins of the world.

His scars were proof of the prophesy told by the ancient American prophet, Alma who said 

 11 And he shall go forth, suffering pains and afflictions and temptations of every kind; and this that the word might be fulfilled which saith he will take upon him the pains and the sicknesses of his people.
 12 And he will take upon him deaththat he may loose the bands of death which bind his people; and he will take upon him their infirmities, that his bowels may be filled with mercy, according to the flesh, that he may know according to the flesh how to succor his people according to their infirmities.
 13 Now the Spirit knoweth all things; nevertheless the Son of God suffereth according to the flesh that he might take upon him the sins of his people, that he might blot out their transgressions according to the power of his deliverance; and now behold, this is the testimony which is in me.
For all of you out there who may be embarrassed of your scars, either physical or spiritual, my challenge for you is to look to Christ's example and see the marking as proof that you are stronger than your challenges, more powerful than the adversity in this world, and through Christ's merciful hand, able to move on and become a stronger man or woman because of that. 
Love, Elder Clancy
Service at a local food pantry
Photo moment!

Elder Boatman and Elder Clancy meet for the first time!
(NOTE FROM LISA: This was a special pic for me b/c Matt and I
were close friends with Elder (Tanner) Boatman's parents before
all of us had kids! They were stationed here in Beaufort while Tanner's
Dad served as a Navy Dentist. They now reside in CA!
Fun to have our boys meet for the very first time!

Monday, March 21, 2016

Because He Lives - HAPPY EASTER

Tyler shared the following video this week:

With Easter coming up soon, a lot of folks are talking to us just a little bit more. The Spring season mixed with the Spirit of Easter softens our portrait in the eyes of many! Although the weather patterns here in Pueblo are mercurial the people are always interesting. We hear lots about what people believe and what they don't.

Some people believe in Christ but say they are more spiritual. Some folks say he was a great man but nothing more. Others testify of his sacrifice and resurrection, they see we are representatives of him and invite us in and get a glass of water! 

Belief and faith are obviously two different things. When I was younger I may have believed in the Santa Claus, but faith is something completely different. One of my favorite illustrations of faith is in The Book of Mormon. The Book of Mormon is similar to the Bible- the difference is The Bible covers the dealings of Christ with the inhabitants of the Middle East, and the Book of Mormon covers Christ's dealings with the ancient inhabitants of America. 
There is a chapter in the Book of Mormon, found in the book of Alma, chapter 32. For a little background info - Alma is teaching the poor in this particular city and the way their government is set up, the aristocracy bars the poor from going to church. These humble folks feel as if they have no faith because they can't go to church. The Prophet Alma teaches them a little more about what faith is. Even back then there were folks who in order for them to believe in Christ, he would have to come out of a UFO in their front lawn on St. Patricks Day with the Easter bunny, Santa, and Elvis...Alma addresses that as well!

17 Yea, there are many who do say: If thou wilt show unto us a sign from heaven, then we shall know of a surety; then we shall believe. 

18 Now I ask, is this faith? Behold, I say unto you, Nay; for if a man knoweth a thing he hath no cause to believe, for he knoweth it.

21 And now as I said concerning faith—faith is not to have a perfect knowledge of things; therefore if ye have faith ye hope for things which are not seen, which are true.

So as we know, faith is not something you can see or touch, but Alma will go on later to explain it is more than just hoping for something. When I was younger one day after church I thought I had an epiphany.. I thought, "If I have faith that I will have a red Lamborghini waiting for me at home....It will be there when I get home!!". Needless to say I was a little discouraged when we pulled in the driveway and there was no Lamborghinis to be found...just a basketball my mom ran over as we raced out to go to church. :(

How many people would believe in Jesus Christ if he was on the earth right this minute, smiling & shaking hands? Probably a lot more! But what would that show? That they know how to use their eyes and ears? Christ wants to see if we can use our hearts in this life. 
Even if some folks believe IN Christ, they don't do anything about it. They affirm the fact that he existed and they may believe he was a great guy, but they choose to take their life in a different direction than he advised! So may I propose at this point that faith is more than believing IN Christ (believing he was a person and was a great guy etc...). True faith is believing Christ. Believing what he said and taught was true. Believing that the way he showed us how to live was correct. Believing that through him all things are possible. 

Alma goes on to say true faith leads us to action - 

27 But behold, if ye will awake and arouse your faculties, even to an experiment upon my words, and exercise a particle of faith, yea, even if ye can no more than desire to believe, let this desire work in you, even until ye believe in a manner that ye can give place for a portion of my words.

 28 Now, we will compare the word unto a seed. Now, if ye give place, that a seed may be planted in your heart, behold, if it be a true seed, or a good seed, if ye do not cast it out by your unbelief, that ye will resist the Spirit of the Lord, behold, it will begin to swell within your breasts; and when you feel these swelling motions, ye will begin to say within yourselves—It must needs be that this is a good seed, or that the word is good, for it beginneth to enlarge my soul; yea, it beginneth to enlighten my understanding, yea, it beginneth to be delicious to me.
Landscape Missionaries - ha ha
Helping a friend

This principle should be familiar to all parents! If you tell your son to be home at 10:30 and he shows up at 2:00 AM, what does that show you? The reverse is equally true! Our everyday actions are an outward expression of our faith. Baptism, repentance, being kind to others, & service are all wonderful things that show Jesus Christ that we care about what he asked us to do. Going along with that extended metaphor - we are showing up at 10:30.

Now there are some that have a big problem with this. They say "if I can't see Christ and I am changing my ways for him..isn't that blind obedience?". Absolutely not. Notice that Alma says to experiment. When you do an experiment in science class you find out if the variables you are testing worked out or not. (More likely than not for me it didn't work.) Basically, the Lord is telling us through his Prophet to give it a shot. Try it out. See for yourself if living like this doesn't give you peace in life - If it doesn't give you comfort. 
All he is asking us to do is try it out. 

Easter is all about faith. It is about believing that through descending through the thick of it, Christ rose on the third day. Even some of Christ's most beloved apostles did not believe that he lived. Peter denied knowing him 3 times and in John chapter 2 it says that only after seeing Christ again did they believe he rose. 

How important it is for us that we need to have faith that he rose again. For when he lifted himself from the grave he raised us up as well. He raised us up over death, over sin, over the world. Christ's Atonement was the single greatest gift we could ever receive. It is a gift that can and will change our lives once we embrace it. Not everyone knows they have that faith, but it drives the best in us. 

Critics say faith is imaginary, that it is the product of a convoluted mind. The skeptics say it is a way for people to find imaginary solutions to give them hope. What they don't know is that faith is a tangible powerful force. It makes the difference between 9 reps and 10 reps or taking chances.  What the critics and skeptics don't know is that faith is all around us.  
You can find that faith on the clay of a young man's cleats, who struck out 3 times already but gets up to bat 4 - with a smile on his face.
You can see that faith in the weathered hands of a hardworking parent, who works two jobs so that her daughter can go to college. 
You can feel that faith in a father's gentle touch, as he holds his newborn baby in his arms for the first time, imagining all of the wonderful things his young child will experience in this life. 

Sometimes that faith is only visible through the smoke of burnt buildings or the audible through the chirping of hospital machines. When you see folks running into the fire to save someone they don't know or you watch as a husband holds on tight to his wife's hand for the last time.   That faith is hard to look at sometimes, it could be in the grime on a P.O.W.'s face in Hanoi. Waking up everyday to a hellish nightmare with no end in sight...but yet staying vigilant & loyal to his brothers around him. 

That faith can come in the form of a cool summer breeze, the sound of waves crashing or the soft breathing of a sleeping child. 
Faith is what keeps a missionary going when all of the world tells him not to. 

I know that faith can change lives.
Christ can change lives.
Believing in him changes lives, it changed mine.
I testify that Jesus is the Christ. That he lives today, he overcame the bands of death so that we might live again. I testify that he loves us just as much as he loved those in Jerusalem 2016 years ago. He still gives us prophets and gives us life. 

But when the sun goes down & all the lights are off. When the critics are asleep and the skeptics aren't around, there will be a young mother who says enough is enough. She will take her child and escape an abusive relationship. Tonight she will check in to a shelter for battered and abused women. Tonight she will need more than just a warm blanket, a warm meal, and a tissue to dry her tears. She needs to know that she is loved. That she is worth it. 

The Savior of the Universe suffered so that she doesn't have to. That even if everyone else in her life has given up on her - he hasn't & he never will. That is the faith that changes lives... that saves lives.

Elder Clancy

A mansion near the hospital

Open Mic night at the Library
Another fun celebration at the E's home
Found a little more about this place online in a random search

Volunteering at the Zoo - must be a baby fox

WOW! Long neck there!

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Darkest Skies = Brightest Stars

My new friend, Bella

Heart-to-heart with Bella

Tyler on Tyler

People say, "The Lord helps those who help themselves" & I think that is true to some extent but what I believe to be more true is "The Lord helps those who help others". Service is one of those unique things in life that defies all of the common perceptions of man. Most people would say to find the most fulfillment one would need to turn inward and take care of your own needs. However I beg to differ.

PLEASE WATCH: CLICK HERE:  Lift: The Power of Service

I can honestly say that on my mission I have experienced both the pinnacles & nadirs of my time on earth. I have struggled quite a bit on my mission for one reason or another. Whether it is stagnant endless days that seem to go on and on, or worrying about things back home- there are days that try your will to keep going. 

Living with a guy 24/7 is extremely excruciating sometimes, especially for a guy like me who is fiercely independent! Some people are so downright belligerent to us it makes me turn around to see if Osama Bin Laden is behind me and their yelling isn't directed toward us! This is a crazy world and contrary to what some may think, this mission throws us from high school to the thick of life within a few months. But as everyone knows, the darkest nights produce the brightest stars and that has served to be just as true. 

When I was at my low point and ready to turn around, pack up, and go home the other week - I found myself in the living room of someone who needed me. This young lady only a few years older than me, a mother of 3 was battered. Physically she had just been assaulted by 4 people outside of a bar, but spiritually she was just as beat up. I had trouble looking into her dark eyes not just because of the apparent black eyes she had but inside of those eyes was a cry for help. When someone asks you their opinion whether they should pay for the medical bills to repair their bleeding face or buy food for her kids for the week, it makes you realize you're not the only one who needs help. Normally I am a verbose and quick thinking man but for those few minutes I was at a complete and utter loss for words. As we sat and cried for a moment or two I realized that she needed to know something. Full of anger and with a sore heart I wanted to tell her that I would go find these folks and give them something right back..But the spirit came into the room and comforted all who were within. I told her that no matter what she thinks or what the world might tell her, she is not lost, she isn't beyond repair. Someone hasn't given up on her, not even the slightest bit. Jesus Christ knows exactly what she went through and he will be there every step of the way. 

As we wiped the tears away and said goodnight, a cool breeze blew in as we walked down the porch steps. My struggles and sorrows didn't necessarily up and leave, but I felt at that moment that I maybe needed to listen to my own words. I felt that because I stopped worrying about myself and opened my eyes to others who needed a hand. Our Heavenly Father wants the best for us and wants us to succeed. His son Jesus Christ trail blazed the path that we all need to follow. I wonder if we all took a minute to asses the needs of others how our own problems and sorrows would heal. I can say with a surety of heart that - The Lord might calm the storm around his child, but more often then not he will let the storm rage and calm his child within. Through our perseverance and faith we will all make it through this wild storm that we call life.


Love to all - Elder Clancy

What?? Sweet potato fries?