The place where the popular movie Nacho Libre was both set and filmed.
The most biodiverse state in all of Mexico.
The place that contains 16 formally recognized indigenous groups, all of which retain their own languages, in addition to Spanish.
The place where a common delicacy is a dish consisting primarily of barbecued grasshoppers.
A place that I’ve googled a million times but really know nothing about.
And the place I am more than thrilled to go and serve for 18 months.
The summer before my Senior year of high school I had the amazing opportunity to travel to the islands of Fiji to do some humanitarian work. My group and I worked alongside locals to add bathrooms to homes that were without plumbing. Our efforts were aimed at trying to improve health and sanitation as well as to help the people increase their standard of living.
The work we did was hard and the days were long.
While I was working in a small village I had an experience I will never forget.
It was a hot and humid day and my job assignment was lifting big buckets full of sand and carrying them down the muddy street to my worksite so the sand could be used for mixing cement.
I was sweaty, hot, and covered in dirt, sand and mud.
My arms ached from carrying the heavy loads and my back was beginning to protest as well.
As I carried these supplies to my worksite I began to notice a little girl following me. She kept a safe distance away but whenever I looked back she was always there.
As time passed she got braver and slowly began to move closer and closer and before long she had grabbed hold to the back of my shirt and walked alongside me as I worked.
The other children in the village noted this little girls bravery to get so close to the strange, sweaty, white girl and one by one they began to join her.
Before I knew it I had a parade of small children following behind me!
Not wanting to be a bore I began to skip and dance occasionally which would result in fits of giggles from my following.
The other villagers began to notice this small parade and they began to come out of their homes to cheer, sing, and clap as we passed by.
As I danced down the muddy streets of the village with my new found friends I no longer noticed my aching back, I forgot about the blazing sun, the muddy streets no longer seemed like such an inconvenience, and I was filled with pure JOY.
And that brothers and sisters is what I would like to talk about today.
But more specifically, the pure joy that comes from living and spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ.
Sometimes in life, we carry our own buckets of sand, we have our aches and our pains, and we have our muddy roads that we have to trek down but we also have our own parade of loving followers and we too can find reasons to dance.
There are a million ways to both find and spread JOY in this life but today I’d like to focus on only three.
These three points are finding JOY through:
Positive thoughts, Positive actions, and Enduring to the end.
Joe J. Christensen once said “Thoughts are mightier than armies.”
I strongly believe this to be true.
Thoughts have incredible power both for good and for bad.
yea, let all thy thoughts be directed unto the Lord; yea, let the affections of thy heart be placed upon the Lord forever.
- When we take the sacrament each week promise to take upon them the name of Christ, to always remember him.
As we strive to keep always remember Christ and as we keep Christ the center of our thoughts it brings JOY.
And when we think positive and Christ centered thoughts, it shows.
Roald Dahl, a popular children’s author once said
“If you have good thoughts, they will shine out of your face like sun beams and you will always look lovely.”
Some of the most beautiful people I know are not necessarily those who wear the latest and greatest trends or those who have the most pinterest body
the most beautiful people I know are those who think positively and those who look on the bright side of life.
When we think positive and Christ centered thoughts people notice
and by simply thinking happy thoughts we can spread JOY.
The other day I decided to try this theory out. When I first woke up I made the mental decision that the following day was going to be a good one.
Coincidentally it was also the busiest day of my week. I went about my day doing my best to think positive and Christ centered thoughts. And guys, it worked!
My day, though not perfect by any means, was a good day!
I was kinder and more patient with those around me, I was able to be more focused in my classes, and I had the energy to make it to all the activities I needed to! Though it was a day like any other I was able to change an ordinary day into an extraordinary one all through the power of positive thoughts.
F, Enzio Busche once said:
Embrace each day with an enthusiastic welcome, no matter how it looks.
When you are physically sick, tired, or in despair, steer your thoughts away from yourself and direct them, in gratitude and love, toward God.
Sometimes when I’m physically sick, tired, or in despair I take Elder Busche’s advice and turn my thoughts towards God and doing so has helped me find JOY even in the darkest of times.
Buddha once said
“Happiness does not depend on what you have or who you are. It solely relies on what you think.”
Positive thoughts are powerful thoughts.
One of the greatest things about thoughts are that
Thoughts lead to Action
But more specifically, SERVICE.
I don’t know about all of you but when I hear the word service the first thing that pops into my head is shoveling mass amounts of snow for your elderly neighbor or baking dozens of cookies for all the sick and afflicted in your neighborhood.
While these are wonderful and admirable acts of service sometimes these kind of christ like actions can seem daunting or even out of reach for many of us. However service, more often than not is the little things we can all do and say on a daily basis.
It is often the smallest acts of service that have the biggest impact. A kind word, a needed hug, sitting by someone who often times sits alone.
We all have the power to spread JOY and by doing so we will become more joyful ourselves.
When I was in junior high I was in a class with many of my friends and being the chatty person that I am, my talking in class soon became an issue. My teacher in efforts to silence my constant babble put me in the very front corner of the classroom where the only person I was close enough to talk to was a VERY quiet and extremely shy boy.
I accepted the challenge and began chatting with this awkward and silent individual. I’d tell him about my day and ask him about his. I told him about my likes my dislikes, my highs and my lows, and I chatted that poor boys ear off.
Mostly he just giggled and shrugged a lot but I can honestly say I had a great time talking to him everyday and I thoroughly enjoyed our little talks . After that class ended I never really saw that boy much but a few years later he added me on facebook and sent me a message I’ll always remember. He thanked me for talking to him, for being his friend, and for helping him through a really difficult time in his life. Just telling a quiet kid about my day made all the difference.
I believe that the little acts of service are the ones that make the biggest impact.
Other actions we can take to spread joy is
spreading the joy of the gospel!
Brigham Young once said “I feel like shouting Hallelujah all the time…”
This is exactly how I feel about the gospel.
The gospel of Jesus Christ makes me want to jump up and down and shout for joy.
It makes me feel like shouting hallelujah all the time!
Unfortunately, in this day and age it is frowned upon in most societies to shout hallelujah from the rooftops and run down the streets shouting out joyous gospel teachings.
So how can we spread this glorious gospel?
WE CAN SPREAD IT BY OUR ACTIONS.
Ralph Waldo Emerson said “What you do speaks so loudly that I can’t hear what you’re saying”
We can talk about our beliefs all we want but when we show them,
that is when we will have the biggest impact and that is how we can have the greatest JOY.
Remember that beliefs don’t make you a better person but your behavior DOES.
-Endure to the End
Or how I like to see it, Enjoy to the end.
Adam fell that men might be; and men are, that they might have joy.
Our purpose here on earth is not only to be tested. Our purpose here on earth is to have JOY!
God want us to be happy. God wants to have JOY.
But having JOY isn’t always easy.
It’s easy to have positive thoughts and positive actions on a good day but on a bad day having JOY can seem difficult and even impossible.
Thomas S. Monson once said:
“Stick to a task till it sticks to you...for beginners are many, but finishers are few.”
Enduring to the end isn’t going to the easy but it’s going to be worth it. So to get us all pumped to endure to the end I’d like to share with you one of my favorite pep talks. Henry B. Eyring once shared this thought and it always helps motivate me so I’m hoping that sharing this today can help motivate you as well:
It’s called the fellowship of the unashamed:
“I am part of the fellowship of the unashamed. The dye has been cast! I have stepped over the line. The decision has been made; I am a disciple of Jesus Christ. I won't look back, let up, slow down, or be still. My past is redeemed, my present makes sense, and my future is secure.
I'm finished and done with low living, small planning, smooth knees, colorless dreams, tainted visions, worldly talking, cheap giving, and dwarfed goals. I no longer need pre-eminence, positions, promotions, plaudits or popularity. I now live by faith, lean on His
presence, walk with patience, am uplifted by prayer, and labor with power.
My face is set, my gait is fast, and my goal is Heaven. My road is narrow, my way is rough, my companions are few, my guide is reliable, my mission is clear! I cannot be bought, compromised, detoured, lured away, divided or delayed.
I will not flinch in the face of sacrifice, hesitate in the presence of the adversary, negotiate at the table of the enemy, ponder at the pool of popularity, or meander in the maze of mediocrity. I won't give up, shut up, or let up, until I have stayed up stored up, and paid up of the cause of Christ.
I must go till He comes, give till I drop, preach till I know, and work till He stops me. And when He returns for His own, He will have no problem recognizing me. My banner will be clear.”
Brothers and sisters I can testify that if we have positive and christ like thoughts, if we take positive and service oriented action, and if we endure to the end we can find pure JOY even in the hardest of times.
So when your bucket of sand feels to heavy to carry, when your back aches too much to bear, when your muddy path seems too great to conquer, look around for your parade of love and support,
forget your difficulties and dance.
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