Yesterday we went to the Museum of Science in Boston, the grocery store, and out to a fun Vegan restaurant called Piece O' Pie. I have learned so much in the last 24 hours, I feel like my learning has been magnified by the Spirit of God. Or, as my sister wrote, "I feel like I am strapped to a jet pack!"
Randy from the Museum of Science -- Loving Those Who Seek Truth
While at the Museum of Science, we went to a great show called "Lightning" where we saw the presenter create lightning that emitted different frequencies, which made a song!
Dan and I noticed a young man who was very eager to learn. We talked with him and had a great experience with the gospel. In this conversation he taught us about Aztecs, horoscopes, mental health, neuroscience, our Lord Jesus Christ and His atonement, other worlds that exist, chastity and getting married early/starting a family early, Karl Marx' teachings, miracles, psychedelics, other cultures (he's from Costa Rica) etc. He has sought in earnest for the truth and this search has led him to some ideas that we don't condone, but he has done the best he could with what he had.
One of my favorite moments in talking with him was talking about how we've all done things in the past that we wish we hadn't done and how we wish they could be erased. He agreed and said, "but they can't be truly erased, so we have to move on." I was able to say "we do! we do believe they can be erased! God will remember them no more and neither will we. Of course, we will remember what we learned from them, but the sins are erased -- completely. That is the beauty of the atonement." He embraced this truth like it was one of the sweetest things he'd ever heard!
The most amazing thing was the love that Dan and I felt for Randy; we did not feel to judge someone who has, admittedly, radical ideas. But instead, we feel this desire to share with him what will bring him joy. I really have been working on not judging members of the church who say something and do something else, or who complain. I've realized if I judge anyone it is often because that is the thing I am insecure about. Any time I feel to judge, I usually do it in my heart or only share it with Dan, but it hurts me. The issue is with my own heart, and the true remedy is to change my own heart -- not to think I am so good because I don't complain about _____ and these girls just have too high expectations, but to change my heart so I never think judgmentally in the first place. Through this experience with Randy I realized that it was really easy not to judge. And it's not because I have set a lower bar for him because he's not a member of the church. I didn't judge him because I felt love for him. I feel a desire to share the sweet truths that have made my life so happy.
The cool thing is, Randy is so excited about getting the Book of Mormon and reading it. He seeks truth and I know he will find it in the gospel of Jesus Christ.
Today I was able to bear my testimony in church. I didn't talk about Randy directly, I just testified of truths I had already known; but today I did it with a new perspective. I testified of the atonement as if I had just learned my sins could be forgiven and remembered no more by God or by myself. I testified of the dispensations of Adam, Noah, Moses etc. The world falls into darkness until God gives a new "dispensation" of truth to a prophet. Joseph Smith is the last dispensation of truth. He is a prophet just as Moses and Noah and we have a prophet today! What would a prophet of God say? We know! This is a miraculous truth. I really believe this is a turning point for me in my personal conversion to the gospel of Jesus Christ. It is important to know the scriptures and to study the gospel so that I can clearly and succinctly answer the questions that perplex my own generation.
I feel like the woman who put on her glasses and said "now I can see!" My testimony has gained greater depth. For the first time in my life I felt like I met someone who had been reading about every culture, every civilization, psychology, drugs -- he has turned everywhere looking for the truth. I had never thought -- if I didn't have the gospel and were honestly seeking truth, what would I find through meditation, psychedelics, etc. I now know what conclusions you come to when seeking to feel the spirit but having no gospel. How grateful I am for this gospel! How grateful I am for what I have been able to miss. I love the words from this Hilary Weeks song: "For the roads I have not traveled, for the pain I never knew, for the days that were not wasted, for the years not spent in vain. I'm thankful for the story that remains unwritten."
Loving All People -- Especially Those of Low Socio-Economic Status
I am so grateful Dan and I lived here in Allston. I am grateful for the liquor store behind us, for the Asian men who search for glass bottles in the dumpster, for being a minority in your own apartment complex. I feel like Heavenly Father has wanted me to learn to love all people as He loves them.
I had not experienced many minorities at all growing up. My school was 98% caucasian. Though I spent time with a few friends of minorities, they were not from hard backgrounds. I think Heavenly Father has given me experiences during the last 2 years that have helped me love people of other cultures.
I remember visiting Virginia and riding on a bus when the bus driver told some black girls to wait for the next bus because he wasn't going to their destination. They yelled out loudly to him "Thank you! And GOD BLESS!!!!" I commented that I hadn't met really religious black people before (or many black people at all!" I thought, "Wow, I need to learn more about minorities."
Then we moved to Provo where our downstairs neighbors are from Puerto Rico and Mexico. Oscar speaks some English but Nancy speaks very little. However, they opened their home to us and fed us their food and welcomed us to their home. They have held parties in our back yard with their Hispanic friends who are so SO kind! They want to give everything to us. They have become some of our greatest friends!
Then we moved here to Allston where I have learned to feel safe as a minority. I am surrounded by a more rough crowd (the other day in the laundromat a guy told me how to do laundry for free by messing with the sensor and putting the washing machine into "maintenance mode"); our doormat was stolen from our fire escape etc. Though I am cautious, I realize how great it is to interact with people of every socio-economic status.
And at the same time that we moved to Allston, I began work on Cogneti. I am building the content for a phone app called "Countries of the World." As I learn about each country, I find that African people are so extremely beautiful to me -- every one is so different! I love the beautiful dark color of their skin. I learned about Armenia then met an Armenian man who brought me my car for Ming, his boss. This was truly going out of their way because I dropped my car off to get the oil changed and they noticed that I had to walk home (5 blocks) with a baby. They came to pick me up so I didn't have to walk back! I believe this is part of God's working to help me love and accept all people of the world and to feel a deep love for them.
(Major side note: at the Museum of Science I learned about dark skin, which is dark because the body needs ultraviolet rays to make vitamin D, but the UV also damages vitamin B9 folic acid. So, the skin of people who live close to the equator evolved to be dark so that they will get a proper amount of UV rays to balance vitamin D and folate in their body. Interesting, huh!)
I am so grateful that my parents let me experience neighborhoods of lower socio-economic status (a mobile home park where I spent a few months working) so that I learned not to expect to live like my parents all my life. Dan and I want to do the same for our children; we don't want to them to grow up in Belmont, MA all their lives and only know those nice, large homes with wealthy friends. We want them to experience some diversity and to experience being a minority in some way or another.
I've run into people who can't live in this type of a situation; who have very high expectations for their living even during schooling. This puts immense pressure on your husband to have to provide a luxury lifestyle. People say we are blessed that I can be home with a child and that we can start our family so early, but the prophets and apostles have said over and over again, begin your family early. Make whatever sacrifices necessary. When I was young, my Dad worked multiple jobs to provide for my mom to be in the home with me. Dan is doing the same. This is a choice we make to give up the finer things of life; and in return the windows of heaven are opened. Miracles shower down upon us.
The latest miracle this week was that Milah's hips are healed! They are completely normal -- after only two weeks! I have never heard of a baby wearing the harness less than 3-6 months and the doctor said Milah's were better than normal and may require till just October. But we will be done with one month of treatment only -- ONE month! I know this is a miracle; maybe because of the fervent prayers of my family.
My Covenant with the Lord
When I was in college and debating what major to choose, I came to a point where I had health issues that made me concerned that I could never have children. I walked through the halls of the Joseph Smith building after my religion class and paused to look at a painting of the great and spacious building and Lehi's family. It was unique because it reversed lights and darks, highlighting the great and spacious building and putting Lehi's family in the shadows. The caption said something to the effect of "with the spotlight on the great and spacious building the world often does not realize the importance of those who are right around them." I pondered this and continued on to the Kimball Tower and as I walked by this tower, I realized how much I wanted to be a mother. I promised the Lord that if He would let me have children; the greatest desire of my heart, I would devote everything to my children. I would make Home and Family Living my major, I would not work, I would raise them in the gospel so they would glorify Him. I thought of Hannah who "vowed a vow, and said O Lord of hosts, if thou wilt indeed look on the affliction of thine handmaid, and remember me, and not forget thine handmaid, but wilt give unto thine handmaid a man child, then I will give him unto the Lord all the days of his life." (1 Sam 1: 11). I will stay true to this covenant and raise my children in the gospel. But I never could have understood how much happiness living these truths would bring! God has given us a pattern to follow where we begin a family early; the husband and wife make sacrifices so the wife can be at home; then we raise our children unto Him, teaching them doctrines that distill upon their souls as the dews from heaven and bring them happiness and peace in this life and through eternity.
I want to record a few of my favorite quotes and talks by the prophets
Ezra Taft Benson in the General Conference talk "To the Humble Followers of Christ" said:
Tragically, many of our sisters subscribe to its pills and practices [birth control] when they could easily provide earthly tabernacles for more of our Father's children. We know that every spirit assigned to this earth will come, whether through us or someone else. There are couples in the Church who think they are getting along just fine with their limited families but who will someday suffer the pains of remorse when they meet the spirits that might have been part of their posterity. The first commandment given to man was to multiply and replenish the earth with children. That commandment has never been altered, modified, or cancelled. The Lord did not say to multiply and replenish the earth if it is convenient, or if you are wealthy, or after you have gotten your schooling, or when there is peace on earth, or until you have four children. The Bible says, "Lo, children are an heritage of the Lord:... Happy is the man that hath his quiver full of them...." (Psa 127:3, 5.) We believe God is glorified by having numerous children and a program of perfection for them. So also will God glorify that husband and wife who have a large posterity and who have tried to raise them up in righteousness.
Spencer W. Kimball pleaded:
“Come home, wives, to your husbands. Make home a heaven for them. Come home wives, to your children, born and unborn. Wrap the motherly cloak about you and unembarrassed help in a major role to create the bodies for the immortal souls who anxiously wait.
Elder Oaks taught:
In some times and places, children have been regarded as no more than laborers in a family economic enterprise or as insurers of support for their parents. Though repelled by these repressions, some persons in our day have no compunctions against similar attitudes that subordinate the welfare of a spirit child of God to the comfort or convenience of parents.
The Savior taught that we should not lay up treasures on earth but should lay up treasures in heaven (see Matthew 6:19–21 ). In light of the ultimate purpose of the great plan of happiness, I believe that the ultimate treasures on earth and in heaven are our children and our posterity.
President Kimball said, “It is an act of extreme selfishness for a married couple to refuse to have children when they are able to do so” (in Conference Report, Apr. 1979, p. 6; or Ensign,May 1979, p. 6 ). When married couples postpone childbearing until after they have satisfied their material goals, the mere passage of time assures that they seriously reduce their potential to participate in furthering our Heavenly Father’s plan for all of his spirit children. Faithful Latter-day Saints cannot afford to look upon children as an interference with what the world calls “self-fulfillment.” Our covenants with God and the ultimate purpose of life are tied up in those little ones who reach for our time, our love, and our sacrifices.
How many children should a couple have? All they can care for! Of course, to care for children means more than simply giving them life. Children must be loved, nurtured, taught, fed, clothed, housed, and well started in their capacities to be good parents themselves. Exercising faith in God’s promises to bless them when they are keeping his commandments, many LDS parents have large families. Others seek but are not blessed with children or with the number of children they desire. In a matter as intimate as this, we should not judge one another.
These quotes are close to my heart and I truly believe what they teach. They teach this doctrine because it brings true happiness. I am so grateful for this experience here in Boston, again I testify "all things shall work together for your good."