Happy Birthday, Elder Beck! Brae turned nineteen on February 19! His greeting to us on February 25 began with, "Aye, aye, aye", another Brae-ism. He appreciated all of the birthday wishes from family and friends, and particularly the packages from home, Grandma Jo, and Emily Baldwin. (Btw...I love you, Emily! You are such an awesome friend!) He was ecstatic to have received his violin! And as a bonafide Suzuki mom for the last fifteen years, I am thrilled that President Batt has allowed him to have his violin on his mission. It will be interesting to note how he will use his music to invite the spirit into the lives of those he teaches. I personally could not imagine Brae sharing the gospel without using music, because it is such an integral part of who he is.
Brae said that things have been good in Cameron, but that it has been REALLY windy. Considering how much the wind blows here, that must be pretty intense wind! He says that it is so dusty that keeping his suits clean is a near impossibility. He asked his mom lots of laundry questions because he doesn't particularly want to wear red-dirt-colored pants for the rest of his mission! They are doing a lot of service chopping and delivering wood, herding sheep, and tilling gardens.
Elder Beck wrote, "The other day, we were helping a lady herd her sheep. I saw one in the distance that got left behind, and part of me just thought, 'Oh, it sees the others. It will eventually work its way over to the rest.' But then I thought about how Jesus went out after the lost sheep and I figured we couldn't just leave it! So Elder Tolman went back and found that it had just given birth to a baby lamb! If we hadn't gone back the lamb probably would have died, because it was FREEZING that day. What do you know? A real life parable!" As a mom, I have thought a lot about that parable. How often, by going after the lost sheep and saving one soul, do we rescue a child, or a family? Definitely food for thought.
I quote Brae again, "It is very frustrating when people don't want to hear our message or do their part to improve their lives. Sometimes I just want to shake people and say, 'DO YOU WANT TO LIVE FOR ETERNITY IN MISERY???!!!' He told about teaching a man whose family has all been baptized, but who has not because he will not give up tobacco. Brae is getting a glimpse of how Heavenly Father might feel at times in giving us agency. He said that they have watched the old family home evening video "The Touch of the Master's Hand" multiple times with people. He said, "I forgot how much I love that video--how all of us are like battered old violins, but the Master can see our great worth underneath, and He can make us perfect again. It's such a great video!"
He was excited to have a few more people at church this week, and said it motivated them to keep working. One of the problems they have is that people hold grudges and don't let go of their grievances. If they don't like someone who goes to church, then they will not go themselves. Interestingly, the Navajo language does not have words for "forgive" or "sorry". It blew Brae's mind when he learned that fact, but it also gave him a deeper understanding of why it is in their culture to condemn people for life and never forgive or let go. Brae said, "No wonder the Navajo translation of the Book of Mormon is only certain exerpts! It is so sad to me. At least I know that there is forgiveness for all through the Atonement if we just use it in our lives."
And the Navajo tradition of the week is: All of the doors, probably 90% there, open to the east because they pray to the East in their culture. Interesting stuff. "Keep praying for me! I need as much help as I can get!"