Monday, July 4, 2016

You should probably eat your vegetables before your mission, because you probably won't eat very many on your mission (at least if you go state side). It is very interesting. We don't have too much time to eat, and we usually don't like spending the time cooking anyway. In addition to the time constraints, vegetables do not last very long, and most people just don't take the time to buy them. Of course, when we eat with members we get vegetables (usually), but we don't eat as much as we should. 
I've noticed that I go through different phases of culinary cravings. Recently, I have decided that ice cream is very delicious. However, I am starting to realize that I really miss vegetables. I know, it sounds weird, but if you are an adult and you are reading this, you should probably go buy some vegetables for your local missionaries, and then chastise them on how they should eat healthier. It would probably be very good for them.
Yummmm.... spinach sounds delectable right now. *In the background, you hear the sound of my mother passing out as she begins fretting over her son who needs to eat more vegetables.
Don't worry, mum! I'll buy some spinach today!
This week was nice. I would like to tell you a little bit of a secret about Washington. Washington is infested with invasive blackberry bushes. They are spiking and they catch on your slacks all the time. Their vines are like the thorny appendages of thousands of small Kraken children that are just beginning to hatch in the ground. They have been here all year long pricking and poking, and sometimes it's hard to kick against the pricks, but they have just recently started blooming and bearing buds and blackberries. Oh boy! I've only eaten a couple, because they aren't ripe yet, but I've heard some wonderful tales about how missionaries live in a blackberry paradise during the summer. I may not eat my quota of vegetables, but I've gotten plenty of fresh fruit.
I would like to just say that not much happened this week. Cari's baptismal date was moved back to this week, so keep praying for her. We are struggling with getting our other investigators to come to church, but they all have so much potential. Now, a patriotic message from our producer:
I feel that a lot of people spend vast amounts of time griping about the country. You hear things all over such as: "Donald Trump eats children! Blah blah blah..." "Hilary Clinton wants to transform everyone into dinosaurs and make us fend for ourselves! Blah blah blah..." "Obama poops candy! Blech blech blech...." "In a couple of months, America will have turned communist! Blah bloopty bleep...." "I'm blue! Da ba dee da ba di..." and so on and so on.
 Now, I'm not going to be one of those guys who pretends that everything is fine and dandy and goes around saying "Who cares about the problems in the world? I think if we put flowers in our hair and offer to hold hands with everyone, everything will be alright!".
No. That's not my message. My message is that we need to be grateful. There is good in the world, and we need to work for it. We need to do our very best to be sure that we are living the ideal of what America was meant to be, and more importantly, we should be striving to be as righteous as the people of Zion. In all reality, we are the people of Zion. So spend less time complaining, and do the very best you can. If you feel like there is some sort of impending and unavoidable problem, don't just whine, do something about it.
"And the Lord called his people Zion, because they were of one heart and one mind, and dwelt in righteousness; and there was no poor among them."
So, how can we improve this blessed country of ours? Be more like Jesus Christ. Keep your covenants. Strive daily to be the very best that you can. Each week, take some time during the sacrament to reflect on your week and to make resolutions to improve, and then stick to those resolutions. We can't just sit around waiting for someone else to change our circumstances, not even if we are just waiting for God to change our circumstances.
1 Nephi 7:17-18 reads:

17 But it came to pass that I prayed unto the Lord, saying: O Lord, according to my faith which is in thee, wilt thou deliver me from the hands of my brethren; yea, even give me strength that I may burst these bands with which I am bound.

 18 And it came to pass that when I had said these words, behold, the bands were loosed from off my hands and feet, and I stood before my brethren, and I spake unto them again.

Nephi didn't pray to have his circumstances changed, he prayed for the strength to change his circumstances. Be grateful at all times. Always remember the mercies of the Lord concerning you. Trouble always comes when we forget the hand of God in our lives. 
I think one of my favorite examples of all time when it comes to being righteous and a patriot is Captain Moroni. I would encourage all of you to take some time to look at his example on this wonderful Independence Day. I would like to end with 2 scriptures. One is a quote from Captain Moroni's epistle to Pahoran. At this time, Moroni and his men were placed in a very dire circumstance due to the wickedness of some people in his home country. This is what he wrote to them (Alma 60:28):

28 Yea, behold I do not fear your power nor your authority, but it is my God whom I fear; and it is according to his commandments that I do take my sword to defend the cause of my country, and it is because of your iniquity that we have suffered so much loss.

Wow. Powerful words from a powerful and righteous man. Here is the other scripture (Alma 48:10)

10 And thus he was preparing to support their liberty, their lands, their wives, and their children, and their peace, and that they might live unto the Lord their God, and that they might maintain that which was called by their enemies the cause of Christians.
Anyway, I'm out of time, but look at that last scripture and remember what we are fighting for. Agency, the family, our Father and his plan for us. What nobler cause is there. Never forget what you are fighting for. Until next time, God bless America, and may he always bless those who will fight for what is right no matter what the odds.

Elder Benge

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