Monday, December 29, 2014

Hey everyone!

Thank you all so much for the Christmas and Birthday wishes! They brightened and made my week merry. I am so lucky to have the wonderful friends and family that I have. You all give me the strength and the drive to do my best and to “return with honor”! It was a sweet surprise to open up my "Birthday In a Box," to see the many wonderful letters and love and support from you all. Your love touched me, and I am so blessed to have each and every one of you in my life. Such a great support to me! It was the greatest Birthday/Christmas!

Merry Missionary Christmas!
I hope everyone had a great Christmas! I know that mine was fantastic! So we woke up and had a district breakfast at the stake center which was a lot of fun. In the kitchen with other goofy missionaries, is laughter waiting to happen! They are so great! I made my mom's biscuits and gravy . . .the easy way . . . I just added water! HaHa! I was surprised! It actually tasted good! After breakfast we went with the riverside elders back to their apartment to open presents and to Skype our families back home. I was so grateful to see my family's faces. It was way better than my phone call when I was going to Oregon because I could see them! I can't wait till I can run up to my family and friends and give them a big hug . . . but for know I will look forward to Mother’s Day when I can see their beautiful faces again and to wish my mother a happy Mother’s Day! (She is the greatest!) After we Skyped, we played some games and then we went and had two dinners!!! It would have been three, but we ran out of time. We had hot dogs at both dinners! Weird I know, but I guess it is a thing here...or not. HaHa! It was great! We made several visits to some part member families and to our investigators as well, and some of our less actives that we are working with. Christmas was great! It has been such a rewarding experience to experience the true meaning of Christmas on my mission. It is so true that when you serve the Lord to the best of your ability that you draw nearer to him, that you learn to love him. 

I had the greatest birthday ever! So we kicked off my birthday off right by going out for breakfast with the McDonald family. It was actually Sister McDonald's birthday too, which made it even more special. The food was great and I was able to try homemade grits for the first time! It was this cheesy rice thing. It tasted pretty good! After breakfast we tried contacting people in the pouring rain on our be honest it kinda sucked. I was cold, wet, and tired. I was hoping and aching for some sun! Anyway, after a full dreary afternoon of trying to contact people with no luck, we stopped by a less active family in the ward. This is when the day took a turn for the best! We got a new investigator! It turns out that one of the family member's girl friend is interested in learning more about the church. We shared a message with her and set up a return appointment for Tues. She was the sweetest
thing. After we taught, my companion told one of the family members that it was my birthday so she quietly left the house, went over to Jumbo's (a Chinese restaurant), and to the store to get me a cake for my birthday! It was a pleasant surprise! I got to eat with my people (love my Polynesians) for my birthday! We laughed and told a lot of jokes. They laughed at my laugh and laughed harder when I told them that I was told that my laugh sounded like a black man crying...anyway, it was truck loads of fun! I love the Tupou family! They are the greatest! Best birthday from home ever!     

New Year...New YOU!!!

With this new year fast approaching, I hope that everyone will have the time to reflect on some of their "new year’s resolutions," for the year 2015. I love the Mormon message "New Years: Look not behind thee." People in New York City are asked about the story of Lot, from the bible. The overall theme for the clip is for us to go into the new year, 2015, with faith in Jesus Christ and to leave the past behind and look ahead to a brighter future. In life we all make mistakes, but I am so grateful for the atonement of Jesus Christ that we are able to start anew. We don't have to wait until the next year to set another resolution. We can set them daily, weekly or monthly. Because of the savior we can start again, again, and again. I am so grateful for a loving Heavenly Father and a savior, Jesus Christ that would suffer for me. The atonement doesn't just cover our mistakes that we make, but also the feelings of loneliness, insecurities, and self doubts. We can receive the peace and joy in this life because of our savior Jesus Christ. Although we are incomplete, He loves us completely!

I love this story that was shared in sacrament meeting this Sunday. It shows the value and the need for the atonement in our lives.

The Room by Joshua Harris
“In that place between wakefulness and dreams, I found myself in the room. There were no distinguishing features save for the one wall covered with small index-card files. They were like the ones in libraries that list titles by author or subject in alphabetical order. But these files, which stretched from floor to ceiling and seemingly endlessly in either direction, had very different headings. As I drew near the wall of files, the first to catch my attention was one that read "Girls I Have Liked." I opened it and began flipping through the cards. I quickly shut it, shocked to realize that I recognized the names written on each one.
And then without being told, I knew exactly where I was. This lifeless room with its small files was a crude catalog system for my life. Here were written the actions of my every moment, big and small, in a detail my memory couldn't match.
A sense of wonder and curiosity, coupled with horror, stirred within me as I began randomly opening files and exploring their content. Some brought joy and sweet memories; others a sense of shame and regret so intense that I would look over my shoulder to see if anyone was watching. A file named "Friends" was next to one marked "Friends I Have Betrayed."
The titles ranged from the mundane to the outright weird. "Books I Have Read," "Lies I Have Told," "Comfort I Have Given," "Jokes I Have Laughed At." Some were almost hilarious in their exactness: "Things I've Yelled at My Brothers." Others I couldn't laugh at: "Things I Have Done in My Anger," "Things I Have Muttered Under My Breath at My Parents." I never ceased to be surprised by the contents. Often there were many more cards than I expected. Sometimes fewer than I hoped.
I was overwhelmed by the sheer volume of the life I had lived. Could it be possible that I had the time in my 20 years to write each of these thousands or even millions of cards? But each card confirmed this truth. Each was written in my own handwriting. Each signed with my signature.
When I pulled out the file marked "Songs I Have Listened To," I realized the files grew to contain their contents. The cards were packed tightly, and yet after two or three yards, I hadn't found the end of the file. I shut it, shamed, not so much by the quality of music, but more by the vast amount of time I knew that file represented.
When I came to a file marked "Lustful Thoughts," I felt a chill run through my body. I pulled the file out only an inch, not willing to test its size, and drew out a card. I shuddered at its detailed content. I felt sick to think that such a moment had been recorded.
An almost animal rage broke on me. One thought dominated my mind: "No one must ever see these cards! No one must ever see this room! I have to destroy them!" In an insane frenzy I yanked the file out. Its size didn't matter now. I had to empty it and burn the cards. But as I took it at one end and began pounding it on the floor, I could not dislodge a single card. I became desperate and pulled out a card, only to find it as strong as steel when I tried to tear it
Defeated and utterly helpless, I returned the file to its slot. Leaning my forehead against the wall, I let out a long, self-pitying sigh. And then I saw it. The title bore "People I Have Shared the Gospel With." The handle was brighter than those around it, newer, almost unused. I pulled on its handle and a small box not more than three inches long fell into my hands. I could count the cards it contained on one hand.
And then the tears came. I began to weep. Sobs so deep that they hurt started in my stomach and shook through me. I fell on my knees and cried. I cried out of shame, from the overwhelming shame of it all. The rows of file shelves swirled in my tear-filled eyes. No one must ever, ever know of this room. I must lock it up and hide the key.
But then as I pushed away the tears, I saw Him. No, please not Him. Not here. Oh, anyone but Jesus.
I watched helplessly as He began to open the files and read the cards. I couldn't bear to watch His response. And in the moments I could bring myself to look at His face, I saw a sorrow deeper than my own. He seemed to intuitively go to the worst boxes. Why did He have to read every one?
Finally He turned and looked at me from across the room. He looked at me with pity in His eyes. But this was a pity that didn't anger me. I dropped my head, covered my face with my hands and began to cry again. He walked over and put His arm around me. He could have said so many things. But He didn't say a word. He just cried with me.
Then He got up and walked back to the wall of files. Starting at one end of the room, He took out a file and, one by one, began to sign His name over mine on each card.
"No!" I shouted rushing to Him. All I could find to say was "No, no," as I pulled the card from Him. His name shouldn't be on these cards. But there it was, written in red so rich, so dark, so alive. The name of Jesus covered mine. It was written with His blood.
He gently took the card back. He smiled a sad smile and began to sign the cards. I don't think I'll ever understand how He did it so quickly, but the next instant it seemed I heard Him close the last file and walk back to my side. He placed His hand on my shoulder and said, "It is finished."
I stood up, and He led me out of the room. There was no lock on its door. There were still cards to be written.”
Happy 19th!
I know that the Savior lives and loves each of us! May we turn to the Savior and use the gift he has given us. May we strive daily to be better, and do better. 

I know that as we center Christ in our lives, that we will have a firm foundation, and that our lives can be changed for the better. We can be transformed through Christ into the sons and daughters of God that we were destined to be! Christ can help us overcome anything because Christ has overcome the world. Let him in and watch yourself be transformed.

 Keep doing “good”! 

I love you all so much and I hope you all have a wonderful New Years! Let’s make this New Year the best!!!

Lots of Love,

Elder Shaw

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