(For our final round of zone conferences, we repeated an activity we had done exactly two years ago so most of the missionaries had not participated in the activity before. We made bracelets as a reminder to each of the missionaries that they were a blessing in our lives.)
Lesson from the Beads
We made bracelets at zone conference. Yup, you got it. The elders and the sisters. It was a neat object lesson.
A few years ago my husband and I visited a Buddhist Monastery in Taiwan. Many of the monks wore a simple bracelet made from brown wooden beads. Each bead represented a blessing. As you went around the bracelet naming a blessing for each bead, the blessings never stopped because the bracelet created a circle and formed one eternal round.
We put a bag of brightly colored beads on each table. Each missionary was told to take a handful of beads and count out 35 beads. The remaining beads were to be placed back in the bag. Each missionary was then given a piece of stretchy elastic and instructed to put 25 beads on the elastic and then tie the two ends of elastic together creating a bracelet. The extra 10 beads were then placed back in the original bag of beads.
After the bracelets were completed, I told the missionaries how each bead on their bracelet represented a blessing in their life. Those blessings never end. I counted each of the missionaries as one of my blessings.
We talked about how the bracelets are a lot like serving a mission. The bracelets may not have exactly the colors or number of beads they wanted, but they had to work with what was available. It’s just like serving a mission. Nothing is ever exactly the way you imagined it and you have to work with what you are given. Making bracelets probably wasn’t what they wanted to do at zone conference, but they were required to do it anyway. On missions we do a lot of things we don’t really want to do. The elders certainly didn’t expect to come to zone conference and make a bracelet, but it was still a learning experience. For some of them, the bracelet didn’t match their outfit, but they either had to wear it or go without. The bracelets won’t last forever, but neither will serving a mission in Italy. It only lasts 18 to 24 months.
We discussed different uses for the bracelet. When they look at the bracelet, they will always be a reminded of all the blessings they receive. The sisters can wear the bracelet and always remember the good things in life. The elders can give the bracelet away to their mother, a sister, a girlfriend, or someone in the ward. Most of the elders want to keep the bracelet and give it to that special someone they will marry some day. They can tell them they made the bracelet while they were on their missions and they have been saving it for that one special blessing in their life.
When asked what other lessons they had learned from the experience, they came up with things like it was easier for some to make than others. No two bracelets are exactly alike. Some missionaries liked their bracelets and others didn’t. Some wanted to make more, some didn’t. Depending on the size of the beads, some bracelets were bigger than others. Some of the bracelets were really colorful. Some of the missionaries traded beads and produced bracelets that were all one color, or matched the color of their country’s flag. Some were made of bright colors and others made from more subdued hues. One missionary said he just started putting beads on the elastic with no definite design until he looked around and saw some of the unique designs that were so much better than his. They inspired him to do better. Some of them dropped the beads and everyone came to their aid to gather them back up. One elder said "We're beading the best we can bead." Some of the missionaries loved the activity and some of them couldn’t see the point in even doing it. At the end of the conference, one of the senior elders said “If you want your blessings to go on continuously, you have to ‘tie the knot’ and get married. That pretty much summed it up.