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Archive for the ‘attitude’ Category

By Elder Justin Charles Baluyot, Philippines Bacolod Mission, June 24, 2019

elder baluyot2

“I bet we’ll get at least 25 people at church today,” said my companion, Elder Wright, as he was making his tie. I had just put on my socks, when I answered back with a big smile: “Oh, I’d push for 30.” It was Sunday, the Sabbath Day. We were just about ready to go to the chapel. We were so excited for this Sunday especially. Elder Wright and I have been companions for 2 weeks now, and we’ve been working hard, as in hard gid, for the time we’ve been together. So hard, that I got sick for the whole of last week, still went to work everyday, but just stayed home for Pday, when my fever was at its highest. We’ve given over a hundred Books of Mormon, a plethora of pass along cards, and countless church invites to all the people in our area. The fruit of our labors, would surely reflect through the sacrament attendance today.

Every Sunday morning, our bishop has us send him the names of our investigators who might attend sacrament. He does this so that he can announce their names in front of the pulpit, and welcome them, as a sign of fellowship. We texted 20 names to him, that we were “sure” to come, as they gave their commitment they would, and left a note at the end that “Pero batyag namon basi mas madamo pa magkadto” Or: “But we feel that there are more that might come.” Bishop replied with: “Great job, Elders!” A short message, but to us it meant a lot. As we feel that we did. Do a great job, that is. There was an energy of excitement as we were on our way to church. It was as if everything seemed a little nicer. The sun was shining a little brighter; breakfast was just corned beef from a can, but it tasted a little better; when we saw ourselves in the mirror, it’s as if mas gwapo kami today; we dunno why, the world was on our side. Today was definitely going to be: Perfect.

We arrived at the chapel 8am, 1 hour before the service, just in case some of them decided to show up early. There we were, in front of our chapel, two big young men, chin up, chest out, with the biggest smiles you’ll ever see from a Filipino, and a Samoan. Just standing in anticipation to welcome all the people we invited, to shake their hands, look them in the eye, and just express our gratitude and love for them for accepting our invitation. 20 mins passed by, no one yet, but it was okay. Who comes to church 40 mins before sacrament anyway? There was plenty of time. Then another 20 mins passed by, and some people were starting to come in. But not our investigators. But it was okay, we told them service starts at 9am. Filipinos, they’ll probably come in 5mins before. Then, I remember, looking at my watch, the time said: 8:58am. The chapel was full of people already, but not a single one of the people we invited came. With our chins no longer high up, and our chests no longer out, we went inside the sacrament hall, where we were greeted by our bishop by the door. He asked, who among our investigators came to church, so that he can have their names announced. With a sigh of defeat, we answered: “Wa’ay.” Our bishop then patted us on the back, as if to give us a gesture of comfort in the little time he had, as our meeting was about to start, then he started to make his way to the pulpit.

We then took our seats, and the sacrament meeting started. With lowered heads, we just sat quietly, and started to contemplate on what a failure we were as missionaries. Usually, I’m always the optimistic one, when we have mishaps, I would be the positive Elder, and comfort my companion, until he got back to being the happy Samoan that he usually is. But not this time, my whole body language just exclaimed defeat.

“Not even one?” I kept thinking to myself.

“How?”

“What did I do wrong?”

“Why?”

As each minute went by, the more discouragement, and confusion just filled my whole being. I didn’t even hear what Bishop’s announcements were. Was there an activity next Saturday? Was there a meeting later? I didn’t know. Honestly, at this point, I didn’t even care. All my attention was on why all my efforts were going to waste. Why I wasn’t making a difference. Why I wasn’t the missionary I hoped I’d be.

The Sacrament Hymn started, and I was still indifferent. I was supposed to be preparing myself spiritually, as the most important hour of the week was happening, this is what we teach our investigators. But I had not the energy to sing any songs, not even the energy to open the hymn book. “What’s the point?” I started to think. I even started to boast to myself: “I work harder than any other missionary I know! Why would this happen to me? Of all people?” Then, just as I was about to begin another rant in my head, on how I was an exemplary missionary, and how I don’t deserve this,” I was interrupted, by a familiar face, my companion, Elder Wright, as if he could read my mind, put his hand on my knee, and said: “Stop.” “It’s not about us, we did it for Him”

For Him.

For Him.

Him.

I then remembered, why I was on the mission in the first place. It wasn’t to get baptisms, it wasn’t to get to say I was an RM. It wasn’t even to get people to come to church. I did it… For Him. And as I contemplated on that, my whole attitude changed. I started to focus on Him. His sacrifice. His Atonement. My love for Him, and His love for me. I then pondered on the words that we were singing:

‘I think of his hands pierced and bleeding to pay the debt!
Such mercy, such love and devotion can I forget?
No, no, I will praise and adore at the mercy seat,
Until at the glorified throne I kneel at his feet.
Oh, it is wonderful that he should care for me
Enough to die for me!
Oh, it is wonderful, wonderful to me!’

I was filled with gratitude, and love, and joy. I was filled with comfort. I was filled with His spirit. I truly, stand all amazed at the love Jesus offers me. As the prayer was said, and the deacons started to pass His sacrament, I sat there, just smiling, awaiting my turn to renew my covenants with Him. As the tray was passed to me by the deacon, I felt this strong impression to look up, as if someone said it to me, just as I can hear you, and you, me. I then saw him, Anton. Anton was a young man, who’s been inactive for close to two years, the 1st task I had when I came to the ward, was to reactivate him, and his family. And here he was, an active deacon, passing the sacrament, a worthy priesthood holder. An immense feeling filled my whole being, it grew exponentially, I can’t even define it. “Joy” for me, would be an understatement, but that the closest word I know of, that can compare to what I felt. I felt a glimpse of the promise in Doctrine & Covenants: “And if it so be that you should labor.. and bring, save it be one soul unto Me, how great shall be your joy..” At that moment, I knew that I was making a difference. That my efforts were not going to waste. That my Heavenly Father was proud of me. That He, was proud of me.

Whatever you’re doing, no matter what the result, do not be discouraged, nor dismayed.

Just do it, for Him.

For Him.”

 

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bone cancer ribbon

I visited my college best friend who is suffering from stage 4 cancer in the hospital and was a bit surprised at the changes that happened to her in almost two weeks that I haven’t seen her. I was pre-occupied with a couple of wonderful things that happened at our home front that I didn’t get a chance to drop by.

Just a couple of weeks ago, she was saying that her hair was too long and that she wanted to get a haircut ‘coz her natural curls were showing. I told her to just leave it alone and I was glad that she listened, because then she was able to enjoy her hair for a couple more weeks before they all fell out after her chemotherapy. Her cheeks were puffed from steroids. Her amputated leg rested on the bed. Her platelet count dropped to 14—way below the normal standard count of 150. I could say that she had all the reasons to complain—but she didn’t.

She welcomed me with a warm smile and I knew that if she only could, she would leap out of that bed to give me a big, tight hug. I was humbled by the sight of her. Such a strong spirit who refuses to give in to the frailties of this mortal existence.

We talked for a couple of hours to catch up on things that happened for the past couple of weeks. Her illness has not changed her outlook in life. She spoke about her husband and children with a twinkle in her eye—proud of their achievements and a deep love for them that I could sense as she described their activities. We laughed about personal jokes and discussed things that we planned to do in the coming days. She is the same person that I’ve known for more than three decades now despite her missing leg and hair. I quietly admired her strength of character and faith in God’s eternal plan.

I came to visit her that day in the hope of cheering her up, but it was me who benefitted more from that experience as I left her room and felt gratitude for all the things I have been blessed with that matter most in life—health, family and friends.

May we continue to treasure the things that matter most in life. Let’s have the faith and courage to face our challenges with a hope that these things are but for a small moment, and that our eternal rewards go beyond what our human minds can truly comprehend.

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bdayrose

I’m one of the few people who still play Candy Crush. I know there are a lot of other interesting games out there, but this game is something that I like keeping at. There are times when I get stuck at a certain level and can’t seem to move on for several days, or weeks (I once got stuck at a level for a couple of months!), but I just kept playing it; and when I was not expecting it, I passed! All I needed was to persevere and I made it!

I think that such is life as well. Sometimes we get into a level of trial that seems to be most difficult, but we just have to keep at it, and persevere, and then when we least expect it, we get to pass it—to our surprise!

Sometimes we just need to be still and let all the chaos around us flow. And we stand our ground. And remain patient. And try to learn our lesson from the experience. Sometimes we even have to close our eyes to concentrate and not let what’s happening around us affect us. And just focus on all the positive things in life and keep going. Because just like playing a difficult level at Candy Crush, we will one day pass it (trust me!)—even if it takes many days, or many months, or even many years.

Have a fabulous week everybody! Keep on  keeping on. 🙂

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wicked

Last night, I had the privilege of watching the award-winning Broadway and West End musical Wicked. One could easily be deceived about its plot because by looking at the posters where a green, wicked witch was portrayed, one would think it was about potions and magic spells similar to Harry Potter.

I was pleasantly surprised to find out it was about something much, much deeper than that. It was about being accepting of other people who are different from us. It was about loyalty and friendship. It was about tolerance. It was about defying the odds and focusing on our individual talents. It was about love.

I guess I needed to see that show last night. Someone pointed out to me this morning that people have their own different ways of dealing with things and what works for me might not work for another, and that I have to be respectful of that. Point very well taken.

And so I wanted to share that with all of you today. Let’s remind ourselves every time we are tempted to judge other people that we are all unique individuals. Oftentimes, there are no right or wrong ways. We just need to be accepting and allow others to grow at their own pace and by their own means.

As the Beatles say, “Love is all we need.”

A very happy advanced Valentine’s Day everybody!! Here’s wishing you all lots of love on that day and always!!! 🙂 ❤

*hugs and kisses*

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couch

So, I said I was gonna be back, but it’s been over a year and I haven’t written anything on this blog. Yet today, I got a nudge from a dear friend encouraging me to start writing again. I told him I would make it as a goal in 2017, so here I am, trying once more to pour my thoughts out through the written language. And I hope this time, I can make it work—consistently.

Isn’t that how life really works? We set ideal goals and we imagine how things will turn out for us if only things were perfect? And then real life happens and we sometimes find ourselves lost and our ideal goals unachieved.

But I believe there is a time and a season to every purpose under the heavens, as the scriptures say. We might not achieve our ideal goals at the time that we want to attain them due to various reasons, but we shouldn’t give up. We should never give up! We should just keep trying—especially if our goals are righteous ones.

Most recently, the Miss Universe pageant was held in the Philippines and the reigning Miss Universe joined the local beauty pageant multiple times before she finally won. She persisted and didn’t give in to discouragement despite all the negative things people were saying to dampen her spirit. She just kept coming back and worked harder each time. Finally, after three tries, she achieved her goal and left everyone a lesson about perseverance that is worthy of emulation.

We can be like her.  In our diverse situations in life where we sometimes feel like we failed, we can always get up and keep trying to achieve our worthy goals—again, and again, and again. Even if it takes forever.

Have a great week ahead everybody!! 🙂  Talk to you soon!!! 🙂

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clover

There sometimes comes a point in our lives when we get discouraged and quit doing some of the noteworthy things we’re doing, thinking that they might just be a waste of time. And then sometimes, out of the blue, by some stroke of fate, a stranger comes up to us and encourages us to dust our shoes off, get back on our feet, and keep going.

The words of an ancient apostle ring true: “Be not weary in well doing.”

And so I will try to write again! 🙂 Wheeee!! 🙂

THANK YOU, Art, for knocking on my car window that day and encouraging me! My heart is filled with gratitude for you! 🙂

* – * – *

Life has been quite interesting for me lately. I got into a myriad of challenges that I thought were pretty intense, until I had the opportunity to sit down and listen to an old friend’s troubles and mine immediately shrunk and suddenly seemed so trivial. I guess it’s Father’s way of comforting me and making me feel more grateful for all the blessings that I have.

So, I got up and brushed it off, shrugged my shoulders and told myself to carry on. C’est la vie!! 🙂 We can choose to be happy! We can choose to appreciate the rainbow after the rain!! And to look forward to the sunrise after the dawn!!

Life is meant to be a test, yet we are designed to be happy while we are here on earth! (Yes, despite all the trials 🙂 ) Let us all strive to live up to our potential and be the best that we can be—no matter what our circumstances are.

As I always say—we just need to keep on keeping on! 🙂

Have a fabulous week everybody! It feels good to be back! 🙂

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I love spending time with my family. Even if my siblings and I already have our own families, we always spend long vacations together or just hang out on Sundays at my Dad’s place. It’s a great way to stay connected and in touch with each family member. Families are forever! 🙂

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