Monday, October 10, 2016

That's how the light gets in

Hello Everyone!

I'd like to begin this last post with an accurate, albeit slightly macabre, quote by Samuel Johnson:

“When a man knows he is to be concentrates his mind wonderfully.”

Such is the state of mind of a missionary in the single-digit countdown to release.  My mind over the past few days has been a melding pot of thoughts of the past two years.  Unsurprisingly I can't remember much from the future, so my mind has reverted to what it knows.  I've thought much about the past two years; how different life has been, and yet how normal it all feels.  I'm amazed at how much time my mind finds to think.  It seems like every waking minute is occupied with some thought or another.  Gone are the times of thoughtlessly brushing my teeth or mindlessly tying my shoes.  My brain has taken these times of mundane activity as a perfect opportunity to wonder at the past, present, and future.  

With all of this extra time to think, which before now I didn't think existed, my mind has been flooded with a myriad of thoughts.  From the positive and hilarious to the melancholy and downcast my mind is enjoying the reruns of the past two years spent in New York.  And the underlying theme of all these musings is the powerful and resounding question of "Why?"

My mind has been concentrated on this paralyzing single-word query for a few days now.  Even with the simplest of actions I wonder the reasons why I act or remain inactive.  Why do I have this tie on?  Why don't I polish my shoes anymore?  Why are there these dark marks under my eyes?  Why is my trusty sidebag's color resembling more and more dry grass on a summer day instead of its original evergreen?  

Do you ever do that, just question everything?  I know mine does.  My mind does that a lot.  Too much sometimes I feel.  The problem being that when you question everything in this manner it is far too easy to slip down the slippery slope of negativity and land yourself right in the middle of a pile of despair.  Life's not so fun when you're surrounded by the constant feelings of falling short and mediocrity.  Such is the place I found myself in as my mind was concentrated by my impending release from full-time missionary service.  It's not uncommon, I'd actually err on the opinion that most missionaries feel similar to this to some degree or another.  

But it was a state of mind like this that led me to be sitting alone on our doorstep in a state of not-quite abject terror.  I decided to make a call to a dear friend that I met well over a year ago and just talk.  I spoke on the phone with this friend for quite some time.  Nothing they said particularly hit home or was a major revelation.  We reminisced a little bit and talked about the future.  Sometimes we need a soundboard, someone to just talk to.  It wasn't anything of this conversation that stuck out to me, but the calm that it brought to me.  An agitated mind is like trying to see the bottom of an ocean from the surface on a choppy day.  We get glimpses for a moment, but then a wave enters into view and we lose sight of what we need.  When my mind was calm like glass I was finally able to understand and perceive a message that I had been taught long ago in the form of a rhyme:

Ring the bells that still can ring,
forget your perfect offering.
There's a crack in everything,
that's how the light gets in.  

Now I know that this is a line from Leonard Cohen's song 'Anthem'.  But when my mind was calm this thought entered in a way that was as subtle as it was overpowering.  Like the deafening volume of silence, this answer came in the calm of my mind to remind me of a central principle that guides mortality.  

It's not our position to worry about the grand scheme of things.  That's God's position, he is the author of this probationary state.  We can run around ringing all of the bells that we can, but all that we can do is still imperfect.  But in those moments of imperfection perfection is put into perspective.  When we fall short, the Lord's redeeming and enabling grace is brought into perspective and is showcased in its beauty.  

At this closing portion of my mission I can see, clearer now than ever before, the light that has shone through the cracks.  I'm better able to see the Lord's guiding hand in this work in hindsight than I've been able to see it in the moment.  I've been ringing the bells that I can ring, knowing that it's an imperfect offering.  But the Savior, in his love, cares more about our direction of travel than our speed.  I'm amazed at the things I've seen on my mission, and I wonder at the experiences that I have had over the past two years.  

I know this work is true, and that God is the author of it.  As I gaze back, gleaning great understandings at the purposes behind my actions, I can see now the light coming through the cracks; I see the Savior's grace shining through my imperfections.  

I hope you all have a wonderful week, I know I will!

Elder John Gailey

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Submitting Cheerfully

Hey Everyone,

It's been a little while since I've written anything.  Partially because of other tasks that have required my attention, and partially because I hadn't stumbled upon a truth that I really felt I was prepared to write on.  I didn't feel like I had a topic that was relevant to my life so far that I could really put my two cents in on.  To make a long, and ongoing, story short I've come to really understand a few verses of scripture from the 24th Chapter of the Book of Mosiah very well.  

Let's begin with verse 12 and then proceed forward.  We might as well go chronologically because I really don't have any reason to break from the timeline recording the afflictions of Alma and his little band of loyal converts.  

12. And Alma and his people did not raise their voices to
​ ​
the Lord their God, but did pour out their hearts to him;and he did know the thoughts of their hearts.

Sometimes it's just not convenient to formally pray, especially in the case of Alma and his people because death is a bad thing.  But when formal prayer is a little out of the question, like when you're driving through heavy traffic and people are merging in and out of your lane like it's going out of style.  That's not the best place to get on your knees, fold your arms, and bow your head.  But when all else fails I can testify that the Lord does hear our thoughts and understand the wants and the intentions of our hearts.  In the past weeks I have had many an experience where formal prayer was right out of the question, but I needed God right then more than anything else.  So immediately I began to do what is recorded in Mosiah; a non-verbal and a non-formal pouring of my heart out to God.  I've come to understand in greater measure of what it means to pour.  The people of Alma, and over the past few weeks I, haven't just trickled the wants and needs of my heart and soul to God.  I have poured, and those thoughts have been heard, and those informal prayers answered.  

13. And it came to pass that the voice of the Lord came to them in their afflictions, saying: Lift up your heads and be of good comfort, for I know of the covenant which ye have made unto me; and I will covenant with my people and deliver them out of bondage.

14. And I will also ease the burdens which are put upon your shoulders, that even you cannot feel them upon your backs, even while you are in bondage; and this will I do that ye may stand as witnesses for me hereafter, and that ye may know of a surety that I, the Lord God, do visit my people in their afflictions 

In a recent Zone Training Meeting our mission President has emphasized that spiritual power and effective missionary work comes as we keep our covenants.  Jeffrey R. Holland emphasized this point, and was quoted in the meeting, as saying "
Trust me. The key to this work is in keeping our covenants. In no other way can we claim and demonstrate the powers of godliness.You have the word of the Lord on that subject
​"  (​
From a missionary satellite broadcast address given on April 25, 1997
).​  When we uphold our end of the bargain we are entitled to the blessings of heaven, but are not entitled to say when we receive those blessings.  Some relief comes instantly, some is delayed, and some isn't felt until the eternities.  But the Lord has promised, and He will fulfill.  Sometimes the blessing is physical, but we cannot expect by the sincerity of our pleading that it will always be so.  The majority of the times I have struggled in the past few weeks I haven't felt a physical feeling of relief, and it's been anything but immediate, but I know that my prayers have been answered all the same.  I have come to recognize the sometimes difficult to recognize feeling of peace where there once was anguish.  It's been a process much like watching the dew disappear from the grass in the morning.  As the sun rises and is a greater part of the world slowly the warmth of the sun increases.  The heat slowly wicks away the moisture drop by drop.  And it has been much in a similar way with me.  The trials I've gone through haven't been aided by anything but the gentle presence of the Spirit.  And as I press on through the day those drops of affliction and struggle slowly evaporate into a sweet peace.  

15. And now it came to pass that the burdens which were laid upon Alma and his brethren were made light; yea, the Lord did strengthen them that they could bear up their burdens with ease, and they did submit cheerfully and with patience to all the will of the Lord.

​I really only want to focus on two words that title this post​: submit cheerfully.  This is where I get to toss in my two cents on the scriptures from my own personal experience.  Alongside the truth that there isn't a situation which can't be made worse by a good complaint about it is the parrallel truth that there isn't a situation that can't be made better by choosing to be happy.  Choose to be happy.  I honestly struggle with that concept because sometimes life just makes it too difficult to choose to be happy.  So I'm going to throw in my own little revision to that statemtent and simply encourage you all, no matter the trial, to choose to draw closer to Christ.  I can't choose how I feel in a given situation sometimes, I'm human.  But I always have the choice to draw nearer to Christ.  That's always an option.  And in the case of Alma and his people, they chose to submit to the will of the Lord.  They chose in this instance to draw closer to God rather than drawing away from him, even though the situation demanded it at the point of a sword and at the cost of their lives.  Taking a note from President Monson's talk 'Choices' in this past General Conference, if we choose christ, we'll always have made the right choice, and we will find happiness.  I know that to be true.  

I hope that you all have a wonderful week!

Love, Elder Gailey

Monday, May 30, 2016

Fertile Wilderness

Hello Everyone!

It's warming up quite a bit here in Utica.  Compared to the sweater/coat weather we had in previous weeks it's becoming hot and muggy.  It's been well over 90 degrees for the past few days and I'm not sure if you can go over 100% humidity or not, but we probably did.  I've never been a huge fan of the humidity, but I guess I'll deal with it!

This past week as Elder Haslam and I were reading in the Book of Mormon with a less-active member.  We decided to read 1 Nephi 16, incidentally one of my favorite Book of Mormon chapters, and to focus on the faith that Nephi had to act even in a tough situation.  But what caught my eye this time around was verse 16, which reads:

And we did follow the directions of the ball
​ [the liahona]​
, which led us in the more fertile parts of the wilderness.

As they followed and "gave heed", as the scriptures say, to the liahona, they were led through good portions of the wilderness.  I had to pause and think for a bit about how much of a blessing it must have been to be led in the more lush parts of the Arabian peninsula near the Red Sea.  We read in this chapter of how Nephi broke his bow, and usually we describe it like we would if we accidentally dropped our phones and the battery popped out.  Nephi breaking his bow was a big deal, as was being in the best parts of the wilderness.  We'll do a quick headcount of who they had to provide food for:

Lehi and Sariah
​Laman and his wife
Lemuel and his wife
Sam and his wife
Nephi and his wife
Zoram and his wife
Ishmael and his wife
Ishmael's oldest son and his wife
Ishmael's middle son and his wife
Ishmael's youngest son and his wife

We also know that Ishmael had sons who had wives, not sure how many, but we'll just assume ​
Ishmael's sons were comparable to Lehi's sons.  So we'll guess 3 sons to be on the safe side.  

If we assume that at the time they didn't have any kids, and Jacob and Joseph hadn't been born yet, that is still 20 people to provide food for.  I've never personally had to feed 20 people before, but I've had to provide food for 4 missionaries and I think the amount they eat is about equal.  That's a ton of food, and likely a large portion of the hunting lay on the shoulders of Nephi.  

So how great a blessing and comfort is must have been to have been led in the "more fertile parts of the wilderness".  Don't get the scriptures wrong, they were still in the wilderness.  It wasn't that when they were disobedient they walked through the Sahara in the noon-day sun and when they were obedient they were riding on segways in air conditioning.  They still were in an untamed land, full of trials and tribulations, but when they kept the commandments and gave heed to the directions they received from Heaven, they were blessed with an easier route of travel.  And such it is with our lives.  

Obedience doesn't make us exempt from trials, but allows us to endure with cheerfulness and to obtain greater blessings and aid from Heaven.  I know that these are true and correct principles because as I look at our mission, many missionaries who are exactly obedient (or striving to be) still struggle to find and to teach.  But their attitudes are exemplary and their faith is strong that the Lord has a plan and that this is his work.  

I hope that you all have a wonderful week!

Love, Elder Gailey

"Why are they not chosen?"

Hello Everyone! 

It's been a little while since I've written a blog post, my schedule has gotten slightly more hectic as of late.  But today, in consequence with a recent study of it, I would like to comment on a verse found in Doctrine and Covenants 121.  This is a more priesthood-oriented post, but the principles of Christlike leadership and the development of our spiritual power is applicable to all.  

This section, revealed to Joseph Smith Jr., contains great advice for those in suffering and those called to serve in any capacity.  The doctrines and principles contained therein are of great worth.  But I wish to focus on verses 35-36.  In these verses we are told that many are called, but few are chosen.  This phrase is not unique to the Doctrine and Covenants, but also appears in Matthew 22:14.  But what is unique is the sentence immediately following which asks the powerful question "And why are they not chosen?".  A short synopsis is given that simply those that are not chosen by God are the ones that don't choose God.  

In verse 35 it says that the reason is the failure to learn a simple lesson, at least simple on paper for practice is where the true test lies.  This lesson, so key to leading and being an example to the world, is that "That the rights of the priesthood are inseparably connected with the powers of heaven, and that the powers of heaven cannot be controlled nor handled only upon the principles of righteousness."  These God given rights come with their own instruction manual, they have certain restrictions and organizations.  The powers of heaven require righteous desires and actions in order to have them in our lives.  

President Russell M. Nelson spoke about unblocking the flow of priesthood power and noted several ways that priesthood power can be blocked or restricted.  President Nelson noted that "the flow of power [can be] blocked by sins such as laziness, dishonesty, pride, immorality, or preoccupation with things of the world."  Much like Doctrine and Covenants 121, we lose priesthood power and lose the power and Spirit of God as we act in ways that aren't in line with God's will.  And this doesn't mean we're doing bad things, but we're just not doing the things we really need to be doing.  These small choices can and will limit our spiritual and priesthood power if not bridled like Alma admonishes his son Shiblon to do in Alma 38:12.  Ultimately we are the culmination of all the choices, great or small, that we have made throughout our lives.  And who we are and where we are in the eternities will be determined by the choices, great or small, that we will make through the rest of our lives.  

As we make correct, and if circumstance demands it, corrective choices we will find a new-found power in our lives.  We will have the Spirit of the Lord to guide us and to give us power from heaven to aid us in all aspects of our lives.  

I hope that you all have a wonderful week!

Love, Elder Gailey

Monday, May 16, 2016

A picture is worth a 1000 words

If a picture is worth a 1,000 words then this is a LONG BLOG POST!!  Some of the wonderful people I have had the chance to meet and teach while on my mission....

Monday, May 2, 2016


So there's a lady in the Ward named Thida, she's from Cambodia, and she feeds us every week.  She makes this spicy sauce simply dubbed 'Spicy' that she serves with all of her rice dishes.  Elders Tanner, Miles, and DeSpain said I wasn't down to eat a whole spoonful of it because they can't handle it.  I guess all of those street meals in Thailand paid off because I took it without a hitch.  I also did a food eating challenge this week called the Towering Inferno.  Sadly I didn't beat it, but I'm going to.  I'll send some pictures of that as well as some others in a little bit.  

Love, Elder Gailey 

ps. Missions don't always beat ALL the stupid out of young men.  They just refine us a little bit.  

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

"Again, For The First Time."

Hello Everyone, 

Since General Conference isn't far behind us I have a new vault of topics to speak on.  I would like to talk a little bit about the phrase used as a title for this post, spoken by Elder Garrit W. Gong.  The complete quote goes like this:

When you are ready, please open your heart to the Book of Mormon, again, for the first time. Please pray with real intent, again, for the first time.

(Elder Garrit W. Gong, 'Always Remember Him', April 2016 General Conference)

​This short phrase, as I've thought it through, can be applied to most things in our life that have the ability to become mundane and commonplace.  Extraordinary things should not become 'the norm' in our lives, but we should seek to make them always extraordinary.  As we read our scriptures we should strive to not just stare at an organized succession of ink symbols on a page for 15 minutes.  Our prayers should be a communication that can't be replaced by numbering all of the common phrases and blessings we want or need and then simply saying "Dear Heavenly Father, 15. 21. 34. 1. 27. 3. In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.  As I was told early in my mission by a wise goofball of an Elder "If you're becoming robotic, you're doing it wrong".  The fullness of the gospel is a lifestyle, it's meant to be lived to the fullest if we truly want the greatest measure of blessings our Father in Heaven has in store for us.  
​Our Heavenly Father doesn't see us as beings that only experience great happiness and fulfillment for a short period of time​ and then we return to a nothingness from whence we were born.  We came from glory and he wants us to return to glory.  Our life is not a "brief candle" as Shakespeare's Macbeth puts it.  We weren't created to simply go 'the way of all the earth' after a brief stint on the Pale Blue Dot.  

Our Father in Heaven has provided ways for all of us to grow in faith, testimony, and happiness.  Patience may be required, but renewed vigor and happiness await the faithful.  If at all your life has become unfulfilling, it doesn't have to stay that way.  Not long ago I felt, as I had in the past, that missionary work was becoming mundane.  I made a choice for it to not be that way.  I came to know through personal revelation what things would be required of me in order to have greater happiness, charity, and faith in this work.  I have since begun again, for the first time, to be a faithful disciple of Christ.  

I hope that you all have a wonderful week!

Love, Elder Gailey

Monday, March 21, 2016

Hindrance or Help

Hello Everyone!

Well this week has been one for the books.  We had some amazing things happen, but one that stands out in bright contrast.  We had a teaching appointment this week centered on the Book of Mormon.  We focused on its purpose, meaning, blessings, and the living witnesses that my companion and I bear of it.  The person who invited us in is what I would refer to as worthy of honorary degrees in Religious Studies.  Never in a persons home have I seen more books on religion and science.  But what was more was the fact that they understood them.  They had studied and thought out the scriptures alongside the world around them and had come to amazing and accurate conclusions about the way God works.  Needless to say that if we were to do a side-by-side comparison of pure knowledge and intellect I was far out-classed.  

But this brings me to the point that stuck out to me as I sat on an extremely comfy sofa in a small apartment in Cicero, New York.  The point is thus: no intellectual understanding and comprehension in any number of various fields can compensate for a field you don't care about.  Our desires dictate our actions, and if we don't desire to know more on a subject, we never will, despite our amazing intellect in any other field.  

As I sat in the room of someone who could quote and cross reference scripture upon scripture from the Bible, this thought came to mind as we discussed a subject upon which she lacked understanding, and we had the expertise: The Book of Mormon.  As we discussed we reiterated the point we had begun with, that a testimony of the Book of Mormon only comes if we will humble ourselves enough to read it and pray about it with a sincere heart and real intent.  Again and again we found ourselves led back to this point of all points.  If we were to base our beliefs on pure doctrine we were on a level playing field.  Our beliefs about Christ and his divine nature, the Atonement, faith and works, and the need for authority were seeing eye to eye.  After some discussion our fellow follower of Christ noted what my companion and I had felt before, that the only things we disagree on are Joseph Smith and the Book of Mormon.  I don't think I've stated more clearly and boldly the point that I had made at least a half dozen other times in various ways with this individual that there is but one appointed means to know if Joseph Smith was a prophet of Almighty God and that the Book of Mormon has divine origins and the power to change lives.  The Spirit was present and I knew that those present could feel it.  

So when my companion voiced the simple question of: knowing all of this, will you read the Book of Mormon?  My heart sunk with righteous sorrow as the response was what fell on my ears as a capitalized and well punctuated 'No.'  My companion and I were saddened by this answer, but respected the answerer and after a closing prayer of gratitude for the occasion to meet, we left.  

After all of this it brings me back to the subject of our desires.  What do we desire, and why?  Do we truly desire to live with our Father in Heaven once more?  Do we truly desire answers to our questions of the soul?  Simply put, do we desire what we say we want?  In this scenario our questioner was wanting to know if Joseph Smith was a prophet of God, but lacked the true desire to act.  As Elder Neal A. Maxwell put it "what we insistently desire, over time, is what we will eventually become".  If our desires are 'lukewarm', or as Revelation 3:15 puts it, if we are "neither cold nor hot" we cannot gain our desires, we will simply lack the motivation to act consistently. 

If we do truly desire the good, God has promised us blessings unknown.  And that we will be able to achieve our righteous desires if it be in line with God's will.  Our righteous desires, that we consistently work towards, will be a great boon to us and to the world we live in.  

This experience has caused me to question my desires deeply, mostly focusing on the question "Do I love ____ more than ____".  I have to ask myself frequently if I love God more than I love a comfy bed at 6:30 AM.  I have to ask if I love the people around me more than I love getting lost in thought and contemplation while those around me need my words and actions, not my thoughts.  Our desires are ours "It is up to us. God will facilitate, but He will not force" (Neal. A Maxwell "According to the Desire of [Our] Hearts).  I hope that each of you truly desire what is right, and more importantly what is right in the sight of the Lord.  

I hope that you all have a wonderful week!

Elder Gailey

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Open Your Mouths

Hello Everyone, it was around 60 degrees yesterday, now we're back to the 30's again.  If you ever dislike the weather in Upstate New York, wait 5 minutes and it'll get worse.  

This week I'd like to talk a little bit about a subject that's been on my mind lately.  We've been focusing on finding here in Liverpool since two of the people we were teaching regularly have now been baptized and we find ourselves in need of finding new investigators.  One of the best ways I've been able to find people on my mission has been through OYM-ing, or street contacting.  I can't tell you how many times I've stomped up and down busy streets at all times of the day and how many miles I've put on my shoes.  

But one of the hardest things to do is to actually say something to the people that you come in contact with.  Being outside and walking is hard enough, but actually talking with people is often where this opportunity to find becomes and opportunity to walk around aimlessly.  As I've thought over my mission and all of the walking and talking that I've done, I had the thought come to mind "Well I'm willing to talk with people, that's not as hard as my mind makes it seem.  But what out of the entire scope of the gospel can I share with THIS person in particular?"  I pondered for a while and turned to one of my favorite scriptures about opening your mouth, namely Doctrine and Covenants 33:8.

"Open your mouths and they shall be filled, and you shall become even as Nephi of old, who journeyed from Jerusalem in the wilderness."

All I have to do to be like Nephi is to open my mouth?  Just tell me where to sign!

But as most, if not all, of us have come to find out, having an open mouth while you're walking around is only going to guarantee you a few bugs to fly to the back of your throat.  To ensure blessings akin to those received by Nephi there is more we must do.  And oddly enough as scriptures have a habit of doing, they expounded the problem of "Well I can't just open my mouth and have it be filled by any old idea.  What guideline could I have to base whatever I say off of."  In the following verses, specifically verses 10 and 11, this guideline is given:

"10 Yea, open your mouths and they shall be filled, saying:Repent, repent, and prepare ye the way of the Lord, and make his paths straight; for the kingdom of heaven is at hand;

 11 Yea, repent and be baptized, every one of you, for a remission of your sins; yea, be baptized even by water, and then cometh the baptism of fire and of the Holy Ghost."

We could exactly copy the above phrases, which would carry all of the principles that need to be conveyed, but as I was reading I noticed that this phrase is nothing more or less than a brief summary of the Doctrine of Christ.  Well this helps me as a missionary and is then necessarily a help to all members of the Church.  If we teach or preach on a gospel subject in a missionary manner, it should in some way relate back to the Doctrine of Christ.  If you think about most questions that arise, they can all be tied back to the Doctrine of Christ in some fashion.  The Doctrine of Christ is the thesis statement for the gospel, and as such can be tied to any point found therein.  

Isn't it amazing how much beauty can be found in simplicity?  I think it is.  

But I hope you have a great week, I'll write to you all soon!

Love, Elder Gailey

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Oh Be Wise

Hello Everyone, sorry it's been a little while since I've last written.  

Getting transferred, and settling in a new place can be kind of tough, but it's made easier when you're sent to a great place.  I recently got transferred to Liverpool, NY.  It's just a hop, skip, and a jump North of Syracuse.  This place is great, though the weather is working against us.  We recently dropped from lovely weather in the upper 30's and the low 40's to anywhere between 5 and -25, not including the windchill.  It got chilly very quick, but this February is better than the last, so we've got that going for us.

This week I want to write a little bit about the response we received from our Mission President regarding the cold.  We received a text on Saturday informing us of the very poor conditions, to which we responded "No duh, we have icicles INSIDE our house", and informed us that we probably shouldn't just be wandering outside finding all day.  Unfortunately that's what we had planned, so our day was kind of sunk, so we did paperwork and kept ourselves busy and as free from Cabin Fever as we could get.  Sunday rolls around and we're determined to work, even though it was colder outside.  Despite our determination, other missionaries, many of them newer to the mission and unfamiliar with how brutal New York winters can be, began asking if they should stay inside as well.  Since a good number of missionaries asked, we decided to ask the Mission President, to which we were referenced to Jacob 6:12 "O be wise; what can I say more".  The message was simple and direct, and we passed it along to the Zone.  

How simple a phrase, but how grand a concept.  We all, to some degree or another, are wise.  We have been given the Light of Christ which enlightens and enlivens us and grants unto us the ability to know good from evil.  As we choose either side, we gain experience and wisdom.  And all of us reach point in our lives where we are simply commanded to "be wise", because we have the experience and foreknowledge to make correct decisions.  God trusts us.  He knows when we can make a correct choice on our own and oft times this means we may flounder a little bit in the water until we realize that for now we can stay afloat on our own.  

Elder Dallin H. Oaks, in a BYU address in 1981 emphasized this point extremely well: "[Not receiving an answer to prayer] only means that we have prayed about a decision which, for one reason or another, we should make without guidance by revelation. Perhaps we have asked for guidance in choosing between alternatives that are equally acceptable or equally unacceptable. I suggest that there is not a right and wrong to every question."

The Lord wants us to be agents unto ourselves, and I've seen this more clearly manifest on my mission as I decide how to spend my days.  There are many honorable ways to do missionary work, and sometimes the Lord simply wants me to learn and make choices on my own.  Just as in missionary work, in every other aspect of our lives our Father in Heaven seeks of us to learn and to grow on our own, and has provided us ways to learn knowledge and wisdom so that we can make the correct choices that lead us to him.  

I hope that you all have a wonderful week!

Love, Elder Gailey

Monday, January 25, 2016

All Things Unto Me Are Spiritual

Hello Everyone, apparently NYC is getting a lot of snow so everyone assumes we have a ton.  Nope, I still see grass outside.  Yeah it's cold and the wind is awful, but no snow!

I'm going to take some time now to create a scenario:

Imagine you're on the varsity [insert sport here] team back in High School.  You performed well in the tryouts and easily made the team.  You've got your jersey and you're feeling pretty good about yourself.  During the season you play your games and tend to come out on top.  Not always, but more often than not you do pretty well in your games.  One day you're invited to a tournament from outside your region, you accept and show up to the tournament, unaware of who you'll be up against.  You walk onto the [court/pitch/field/arena] and wait for the opposing team.  Eventually the opposing team enters and you realize that you're playing against world class athletes, not High School students.  The game begins and immediately you are shown how the game is really played.  
A situation like the one above took place not too long ago in our mission.  Out mission has a lot of great missionaries.  There are a great deal of missionaries that are dedicated, obedient, faithful, and loving.  I feel as though a lot of us assumed that we were doing pretty good, I know I did.  So when the opportunity arose to learn about Chapter 8 in Preach My Gospel titled "How Do I Use Time Wisely?", I was excited, but felt that I was already competent in my planning and preparation skills.  To play into the scenario above I walked right into the match with a little swagger in my steps thinking that I'm well prepared and capable.  Nope.  Before my mission I would likely have said that I was got 'shown up' by the instructors from Salt Lake City.  But I've realized that instead of showing me up they instead showed me how.  It was in no way they're intention to crush what effort I was putting in, but to help me reach higher levels.  There's a very large difference between showing someone up and showing someone how, but sometimes it can be hard to discern.  

I was shown, not just taught or told, how to plan effectively.  Examples were given, videos were shown, and the Spirit was felt in great measure.  Leaving the training session I felt in awe of how far I yet had to go to reach the level of proficiency in planning that I want to have.  But I was shown that it was possible to reach that, so I determined to become better.  And since that moment I have gained a greater understanding of verse 34 from the 29th Section of the Doctrine and Covenants, which reads:

"Wherefore, verily I say unto you that all things unto me are spiritual, and not at any time have I given unto you a law which was temporal; neither any man, nor the children of men; neither Adam, your father, whom I created."

These principles of planning and goal setting are eternal and spiritual.  The application for missionaries is specific and direct, but the general principles lead to wonderful growth, and more importantly growth and improvement in the areas the Lord thinks we need work on.  It's my hope that I'll get down the principles of Chapter 8 well enough to be a blessing in the lives of those that I serve so that when I return home eventually I will have the skills and experience necessary to do great things in my life and be a blessing in the lives of those around me.  

Preach My Gospel teaches amazing things.  For those of you that teach classes, study Chapter 10. For those of you that struggle with effective personal study of the scriptures, read Chapter 2.  If you feel that you want your prayers to be more heartfelt, read the Pray with Faith section in Chapter 4.  If you want to use time more wisely, for the amount of time we have on this Earth is unpredictable, then a thorough study of Chapter 8 and the principles found therein will help and bless you throughout your life.  I know that Preach My Gospel is a tool for members and missionaries, and teaches correct and eternal principles and I challenge you that if you don't include it in your study to use it now and again.  It explains things with clarity and power, and is a wonderful study guide and reference material.  

I hope you all have a wonderful week!

Love, Elder Gailey

Monday, January 11, 2016

Humility and Wisdom

Hello Everyone!

Recently I've stared up a practice that I had at the beginning of my mission, and that is writing down a list of things I want to study, or things that caught my eye that warrant further reading and investigation.  Today's post is the result of that practice.  

As I was reading through the 32nd chapter of Alma, where Alma gives a great discourse on faith and how the word of God can be likened unto a seed, verse 12 caught my eye.  

"I say unto you, it is well that ye are cast out of your synagogues, that ye may be humble, and that ye may learn wisdom; for it is necessary that ye should learn wisdom; for it is because that ye are cast out, that ye are despised of your brethren because of your exceeding poverty, that ye are brought to a lowliness of heart; for ye are necessarily brought to be humble."

As I read through this verse my mind made a connection between the attributes of wisdom and humility; or between the acts of being humbled and learning wisdom.  This was a connection that I hadn't given much thought to before now, but it sparked my interest enough to lead on a scripture chase to find more answers concerning the subject.  

I suppose the first point to bring up is why we need to be humbled.  In most cases we have need to be humbled because we aren't living a commandment or principle, either at all or in as great of a measure as our Heavenly Father would have us live it.  We need to be humbled so that we can learn to pray more earnestly, or to truly search and ponder upon the scriptures, to learn how to take council from the Lord and not to try and council him.  In his talk "Beware of Pride" Ezra Taft Benson makes the statement that "The Lord will have a humble people" and much as Alma declares in chapter 32, we can either choose to be humble or compelled to be humble.  One of the many reasons that the Lord will have a humble people is that the humble are malleable, prepared, and softened that they might hear, understand, and act upon the word of God.  

As in the previous line, there are three main types of people:

1. Those that merely hear the word, much like those that only heard the story when Christ taught in parables.  They only saw the surface content, and didn't probe any deeper.

2. Those who heard and understood the word that took the time and consideration to probe deeper into the teachings of Christ and of the prophets.  Understanding is a good first step, for it empowers the pupil far more than in just hearing a nice story.  But an understanding is not enough in the perspective of eternity

3.  These are they who hear the word, cherish and understand it, and become doers of the word.  They get down to business and work.  In one of my favorite quotes currently, Vaughn J. Featherstone relates the difference between understanding, and doing:

"The teacher or leader must not only be first in knowledge, in prophecy, and in understanding the mysteries, but he must also be first in performance. I believe that it is not only an offense to the people but also an offense to God when priesthood leaders, teachers, and members of the Church never really get down and serve the people, do not do their duty, do not magnify their callings, and do not fill their stewardships. We ought to bend our backs in our callings in such a way that our words and teachings are always racing to keep up with our acts." 

 ("Charity Never Faileth", Vaughn J. Featherstone, BYU Speeches Feb 1979)

If we are truly humble, we will become doers of the word that we might come to know of the doctrine more fully (John 7:17).  In ways we all embody the above three attributes.  We all at times merely hear the words, but don't comprehend.  Or we understand what is being said, but we don't bother to act.  But when we hear, understand, and apply our hearts to understanding as Abinidi teaches in Mosiah 12:27, then we are truly wise indeed.  

The Lord will have us be humble, so that we can learn to apply ourselves in a way that blesses us, and those around us.  It is truly in action that we learn wisdom, but if we, as imperfect beings, were never humbled we would never have a reason to change our ways for we would see no need to.  I know that being humbled isn't the greatest feeling, because it means that we were wrong and have had to check our pride.  But the feelings of joy and the comforts of the Spirit that come as we align our will step by step with God's will far outweigh the momentary discomforts of admitting that we aren't as perfect as we'd like to believe.  

I love you all, and hope that you have a great week!

Love, Elder Gailey