Saturday, March 26, 2011

Juggling African Jugs in Our Lives

So I got a crazy e-mail this past week from one of my friends who is also a French-speaking missionary on the other side of the world on a little island off of Africa called the French Reunion, and she is going to be transferred from this little island to Madagascar in a couple of weeks.  This doesn’t seem as if it would be that big of a change since it is all around Africa, but as far as I can tell, the French Reunion is a little more like France and Madagascar is a little more like the rest of Africa.  I’m actually very excited for my friend because, having lived in Africa for four months, I know how incredible of an experience being there really is.  I have been reflecting quite a bit about the experiences that I had in the Ivory Coast and how it definitely contrasts with my mission and life now.

I can remember everything as if I had just left there yesterday, and I really do miss being there.  I’m not sure if I will ever have a chance to go back and visit there, but I will always remember the things that I experienced and saw in the Ivory Coast, such as people carrying things on their heads as they walk down the road.  I can still remember a little girl that stopped my companion and I to ask for help in carrying a huge jug of water on her head.  She was probably between the ages of 6 and 8, and she asked if we could help her lift the jug so she could stand up because when she got it on her head it was too heavy for her to stand up.  Once she was upright with the jug on her head, however, she set off for home, balancing the jug as it was the lightest thing in the world.  Even though I know it was not very light because I helped her to lift it up, this experience reminded me of something very important.

The little African girl could not lift the jug on her own without the help of me and my companion, but when she was upright, she could move forward even though she still had a heavy load to carry on her head.  Similarly, we all have a heavy load to carry in our everyday lives, and we really cannot do it by ourselves.  We need help from someone else to move forward and the help that we can receive is from Jesus Christ, our Savior.  We can read in Matthew 11:28-30 where Christ tells us, “28 Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.  29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”  This scripture always reminds me of a song sung by the BYU Singers entitled “Come Unto Him” where we are invited to turn to Christ and allow Him to take our burdens.

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We all have difficult things that we have to carry, weather it is our sins, worries, physical ailments, or anything else that we might have to encounter, our Savior and Redeemer can help us through all of these things because He understands how we feel.  The prophet Alma taught us in the Book of Mormon just all that Christ took upon Himself for us.  In Alma 7:11-13, he says:
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 death, that 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.

I am amazed at what Christ has gone through for me and each one of us for that matter.  As a Referral Center missionary here in the Missionary Training Center, I have had the opportunity to attend many of the Firesides and Devotionals that are given here, and I have thought back many times to things that have been shared, especially concerning Christ, His sacrifice for us, and what this means for us.  I have been reflecting many times on what was during our last Mission Conference at the beginning of this month.  One speaker talked about how there were many times that Christ could have turned away from what He was called to do and leave the bitter cup for us to drink, but He never did.  And then another speaker, along the same lines, invited us to consider how much suffering happens in just one day around the earth and then multiply that by every single day throughout time because Christ suffered all of those things.  The speaker said, “He did not yield to temptation at the face of the greatest suffering imaginable.  Why do we yield [to our temptations]?”

I believe that we all know that life can be very difficult and at times seem almost unbearable, but if we turn to Christ and ask Him for help, He will lift us and allow us to press forward.  He won’t take the burdens from us because we need them to help us learn and grow, but He will help us with them just as my companion and I were able to help the little girl in Africa with a heavy water jug.  She was so optimistic and happy even though she had a hard task in front of her and even though she probably faced many complex circumstances in her life.  She was able to turn to us for help, and we can all turn to the Savior for His help.  All we have to do is ask Him.

I know that Jesus Christ lives and loves us very much!  I know that He has been there for me countless times, and if He is willing to help me through my difficulties, then I know that He will help others.  I know that He did take upon Himself everything that we ever have to go through in this life, and since He did that, He knows how to help lift us up.  We don’t have to endure this life on our own because He is always just a step away from us.  We just have to follow His counsel, “Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you.” (Matthew 7:7)  It is my hope and prayer that we can all take His hand and let Him lift our burden so that we are able to move onwards towards our home with our Heavenly Father.

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