i have a few things on my mind that i would like to talk about if its okay with you (you dont have a choice but ill be polite anyways ha ha)
in the philippines there are somewhere around 661,000 members of the church in the philippines. this is amazing when you think about it since there has only been missionaries here for about 50 years. this was (and if im not mistaken still is) one of the fastest growing areas for the church in the world. theres many good things happening here every day. most branches have their own concerns and things like that, but i dont need to go into that. as you know we have been doing a lot of work with helping to bring back less active members to activity. this past sunday i saw something that made me a little sad. theres a family we have been working with for a while. the uy family. nanay is in ther 60's and she comes to church most of the time, before i got here she wasnt attending but right before i got here she started on the road to activity. her husband still wont attend, hes got his own reasons. and her grandchildren wont go with her so most sundays she ends up going by herself. she has lived the life of a farmer, working in the bukid and other things. to make a long story short she has lived a long life of manual labor.
on sunday as we were waiting for sacrament to start i noticed that she was sitting by herself. noone was even sharing the row with her. she didnt have family next to her because noone will come, and didnt have anyone sitting next to her because noone seemed to notice. i went and sat by her but i got called on to speak because the assigned speaker didnt end up coming to church. so i spent that sacrament looking down, and thinking about nanay. sitting there among friends with noone acting very friendly.
i dont believe anyone deliberately lets things like that happen. its just one of those things where we get into our routines and involved with our familys and friends that sometime we forget to notice. we forget to notice that theres a new face, or a person thats alone, or that feeling to invite someone to sit on "your row" but you seem to brush it off reasoning that someone else will surely invite them or maybe even that they are waiting for somebody.
i was very sad and amazed at the fact that 1 she was there alone, and 2 that she was still there. us as people want and deserve to be noticed. deserve to be loved and appreciated and feel like we are wanted and needed. but beyond the fact that we need want and even deserve these things, this nanay was sitting alone and has many times before but she still keeps coming back.. it made me wonder about myself. how would i feel if i came home and after the years found myself attending a singles ward where i was more than single, i felt alone. if i found myself at church on sundays after a vacation or absence of a few weeks and when i came back it didnt seem like anyone noticed that i was even missing. these kinds of things i think happen quite a bit, so what is it that we need in order to carry us through those times of feeling very un important in a very important meeting.
i think the only answer is our testimony. if we are doing things because we have a testimony of the savior, that he suffered and died for us and no matter what happens or how we are feeling we never really are alone. i think thats how this nanay and the rest of us that have experienced that feeling but keep going back because the testimony that is inside us is stronger than the natural man telling you that they dont even care if your here why bother. if we find ourselves in the position of discouragement because of the weaknesses of members ( we are all people and have weaknesses ), we could remember the "why" that carries us through or trials and afflictions. why do i go to church? why do i pray or do the things i do? if the answer to those questions are centered on our testimony of the savior and the gospel, then those things that are hard wont be a reason for us to fall away.
when i find myself struggling i always like to take a travel in time. i sometimes close my eyes and travel back to life 3 years ago, and think of how ive been changed because of the savior. i think about how he must have felt. when he was coming to the hardest nights of his life and his best friends were not not noticing, but actually fleeing from him and he was left completely alone. i think about how he might have felt when judas walked up and kissed him as a sign of who the roman soldiers were to take prisoner, even though he knew it was coming how might that feel to see someone you love so much sell you for so little. and i think about how he might feel if after all that suffering for me, that beause im too busy thinking about myself i wasnt able to do the things he asked me to where in return for obedience i will have blessings added to all the things i already have. after my little visit back in time, and my visit to my testimony i can do a little better than i did before and walk a little taller.
anyways my point in all of this is 1 i hope we can all be a little more sensative to those around us. hopefully we wont wait to tell someone that we appreciate them and that we are glad that they are there. and 2 if we find ourself in that point where we are lonely, if we remember why we are there and there was one who truely was left alone that will always be there to comfort us, we wont fall away even if we are un noticed of seem to be forgotten.
again i love this gospel, i believe its true.... love elder landeen