Sunday, September 28, 2014

You aren’t just surrounded by miracles, you are one

 FILE -- Aug. 20, 2014: A horse grazes on a pasture near Sehnde, northern Germany, at sunrise. (AP Photo/dpa,Julian Stratenschulte)

I know people who say they have never experienced a miracle. Maybe you’re one of them.  But I would argue that you have never not experienced one.

It may seem like you’re sitting still right now, but it’s an illusion of miraculous proportions. Planet Earth is spinning around its axis at an equatorial speed of 1,040 miles per hour.

Simultaneously, we’re also speeding through space at an average velocity of 67,108 miles per hour. That’s not just faster than a speeding bullet. It’s 87 times faster than the speed of sound.  So even on a day when you feel like you didn’t get much done, you did travel 1,599,793 miles through space! And to top things off, the Milky Way Galaxy is spinning like a top at the mind-boggling rate of 483,000 mph.
Even on a day when you feel like you didn’t get much done, you did travel 1,599,793 miles through space!
If that isn’t miraculous, I don’t know what is.

Yet when was the last time you thanked God for keeping us in orbit? I’m guessing never! “Lord, I wasn’t sure we’d make the full rotation today, but You did it again!”  We just don’t pray that way. Why? Because God is so good at what God does that we take it for granted.  Now here’s my point.  You already believe God for the big miracles like they’re no big deal.  The trick is learning to trust Him for the little ones.

Albert Einstein said, “There are only two ways to live your life. One is as if nothing is a miracle. The other is as if everything.”

I unapologetically believe that everything is.

Trillions of chemical reactions are taking place in your body every second of every day—you are inhaling oxygen, metabolizing energy, managing equilibrium, manufacturing hormones, fighting antigens, filtering stimuli, purifying toxins, and circulating six quarts of blood through 60,000 miles of arteries, veins, and capillaries.  If the blood vessels in your body were laid end to end, they’d circle the earth two and a half times!

Your brain has the ability to perform ten quadrillion calculations per second using only twenty watts of power. And its storage capacity is 2.5 petabytes. The entire print collection of the Library of Congress is estimated to be 10 terabytes.  So your brain has the capacity to store 250 libraries of congress.

If your personal genome sequence were written out longhand, it would be a three-billion-word book. The King James Version has 783,137 words, so your genetic code is the equivalent of approximately four thousand Bibles. If your personal genome sequence were an audio book, and you were read at a rate of one double helix per second, it would take nearly a century to put you into words!

My point? You aren’t just surrounded by miracles.  You are one.

What if we started living like it? How would it change our daily lives? How would it change the way we treat the walking, talking miracles we live with and work with each day?

One last miracle.

You will take approximately 23,000 breaths today. As a lifelong asthmatic, I don’t take them for granted. Each one is the miracle of life.  We’d be a lot happier, healthier, and holier if we thanked God for each one.

Capi Conference - September 2014

September 26, 2014

We invited all the zone leaders and sister training leaders to come to Rome for a Capi (Leader) Conference.  With modern technology that allows us to connect with missionaries all over the mission at their respective church houses, this may be the last time we bring everybody into Rome for this type of meeting.  With approval from the Area Presidency, we invited the mental health missionaries who counsel with many of our missionaries to come to Rome and do a presentation on how to determine if a missionary is depressed and when a phone call should be made to the mission president to alert him as to what is going on so he can follow up on the situation and arrange counseling if necessary.  It is often the ZL's and STL's who are the first ones to sense there might be a problem that requires additional attention.  All the leaders in attendance at this meeting were taking copious notes and asking useful questions.  The feedback has all been very positive and they are grateful for the opportunity to gain this insight into situations that sometimes frightens them.  While they were here for the presentation, we were able to have some of the missionaries who are currently struggling with depression meet with them personally.  I wish it were possible to take them with us to every zone conference, but it just isn't feasible.  For the time being, we are grateful for the information given to the mission leaders and also for the time we were able to spend with them and learn from them.


Capi Conference Dinner - September 2014

September 25, 2014

Rootbeer floats!  That's a treat most of them haven't had in a long time.  And barbecued hamburgers!  And potato salad!  We're supposed to be in Italy eating pizza and pasta.  We try to do something unique when the leaders come to Rome for Capi Conference.  The meetings are beneficial, but the food and socialization are undoubtedly the highlights.  This time we had a good ole' American barbecue.  Even the Italian missionaries seemed to really enjoy it. 

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Rome West Zone Conference - September 2014

September 24, 2014

After a busy week of departing missionaries and new arrivals, it's time to start on the next round of zone conferences.  President Waddoups started off by talking about some quotes about Italy given by former church leaders.
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Quotes by Church Leaders

The Church in Italy has a very bright future.  This has been forseen by three apostles who later became presidents of the Church.  First, Elder Lorenzo Snow on 25 January 1851; on November 10, 1966 by Elder Ezra Taft Benson; and later by Elder Gordon B. Hinckley. 

President Snow said in a letter to Elder Orson Hyde on 25 January 1851:

O Italy!  Thou birthplace and burial ground of the proud Caesars . . . land of literature and arts, and once the centre of the world’s civilization—who shall tell all the greatness which breathes in the story of thy past? . . .

Here reposes the dust of millions that were mighty in ages gone by, and flooded the earth with the fame of their deeds . . .

But is there naught here save the tomb of the past?  O, Italy!  Hath an eternal winter followed the summer of thy fame, and frosted the flowers of thy genius, and clouded the sunbeams of glory?  No!  the future of thy story shall outshine the past, and thy children shall yet be more renowned than in the ages of old . . . . Truth shall yet be victorious amid thy Babylonish regions.  Where triumphant warriors were stained with gore, and princes reigned in the pomp of tyranny, the sure, though tardy working of the Gospel now weaves a fairer wreath, and will wear a brighter crown.

I see around me many an eye which will, one day, glisten with delight at the tidings of Eternal Truth—many a countenance which will adorn the assemblies of the living God . . . . (Autobiography of Lorenzo Snow, pp. 175-176)

In his dedicatory prayer, Elder Snow also pointed out the Lord’s willingness to assist in the work and the importance of introducing the Gospel to as many as possible:

From the lifting of  this ensign may a voice go forth among the people of these mountains and valleys, and throughout the length and breadth of this land, and may it go forth and be unto thine elect, as the voice of the Lord, that the Holy Spirit may fall upon them, imparting knowledge in dreams and visions concerning this hour of their redemption.  As the report of us, thy servants, shall spread abroad, may it awaken feeling of anxiety with the honest to learn of thy doings, and to seek speedily the path of knowledge.  (Ibid, pp. 130-131)

In his re-dedicatory prayer, Elder Benson said in part:

Father in Heaven, we feel in our hearts under the inspiration of thy Spirit that this, thy work, has a great future in this land of Italy.  We feel to predict under the authority of the Holy Priesthood and under inspiration of heaven that thousands of thy children in this land will be brought into the truth and into membership in thy great Church and kingdom that has been restored to the earth.

We pray that Thou wilt bless the saints with a spirit of missionary service that they may join them to their friends and neighbors and associates and loved ones that the message of the gospel may spread into the hearts of thousands upon thousands of thy children in this blessed land.

A quote from Elder Hinckley is as follows:

These people have the blood of Israel in their veins.  I’m sure of that.  Many of them have what we used to speak of as the believing blood.  Now they don’t want to let it come to the surface but there will be large numbers join the Church here.  I’m just confident of that.  The Lord didn’t open this work in Italy to have it fade and dwindle into nothing.  The Lord opened this work in Italy to bring the light of the gospel into the lives of thousands and tens of thousands of His children who live and will live in this beautiful land.  (Torino, Italy, 1972)

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Rome West Zone - September 24, 2014

Beginning Testimony

Beginning Testimony
Beginning Testimony

Beginning Testimony

Beginning Testimony

Departing Testimony

Departing Testimony

Zone Leaders

"Oh, look, you match.  That's very pleasing to the eye.  May I take a picture?"  What!  No one has ever called us pleasing to the eye before.

Happy Birthday