Do you ever feel, when you're reading scripture, that you just want more? Especially in Ether, when you spin through centuries of Jaredite history in just a few verses of Moroni's abridgement, or Nephi pulls one of his "And it came to pass I saw the single most amazing, incredible, beyond your wildest dreams of a vision ever yet revealed and—-oh, sorry. Can't tell you that quite yet." And you kind of sigh, and imagine for a moment, and then write across your heart the promise to read every word of God ever revealed front to back and forwards again the minute it's all revealed—while tossing the month's unread Liahona/Ensign among the broken power cord and last year's White Pages and postponing your next scripture study for the next day.
Or I don't know. Maybe that's just me. At any rate, I'll give you the moral of the story before I even begin: there is always more. Because as members of the living Church of the living God, His word is given to us in very nearly daily doses through a living prophet—and then it's up to us to apply it in our own lives so that we become living ourselves.
That's what I've learned these past few days, after Saturday morning's phone call (Alhamdullilah! I love you.) spurred me onto some sort of premature spring cleaning spree here in Bandung. I started in the bedroom, scrubbed out the kitchen, and had just started in on the study room when I found in the corner a cardboard box just wide enough to fit a magazine and deep enough to hold a good hundred of them—which it did. A hundred, if not slightly more, Ensigns, New Eras, Liahonas . . . all in English. Christmas, indeed.
So for the next little while I sat cross-legged on the cold tile, sorting through the stack of them all, organizing them into piles of usefulness (as far as outside appearance goes, of course; they'd been there for a while and most were battered beyond repair) until I had a sizeable group of them just tall enough to fit at my bedside, which has gotten shorter and shorter with the week as I read each one cover to cover and then dive right into the next.
At times, this has been a stupidly painful process to put me through—turn a page and there's the Sharp family! Lindsey Brinton sitting pretty in pink on a front cover. A Kershisnik in full color. Susan Tanner eats cheese toast. You know, the little parts of my heart that leap up at me in odd places. But for the most part, it's been akin to . . . oh, I don't know . . . Malachi 3:10? Windows of heaven opening, and all that. Wisdom, counsel, comfort, Truth, words of prophets directed by God; I realize this shouldn't be so much of a revelation but up until this moment in my life I've never been so in awe of the resources available to us. Here we are, and Life is Hard. But then God goes and gives us a million ways to make it all the easier. I read stories from members all over the world, their faith strengthening mine. I read an article from a former sister missionary and didn't feel so alone. I read talks from Apostles that answered the very questions I'd just been asking. I read words from Prophets that spoke directly to my soul.
I read about Ruth May Fox. A British girl who crossed the plains as a teenager, a mother of twelve and champion of Woman's Suffrage. A woman called to serve as YWs president at age 75 and then lived to be 104. The poetess who penned the marching hymn "Carry On!"
I wanted to be more like her.
Then I read an article from Elder Holland on the progression of Eternal Self and the eons that shape our personality and realised I could.
In Indonesia, the Saints are fond of a hymn called Kita Maju Ke Kemuliaan—our "We Are Marching on to Glory." What is this little gem of a verse I don't ever remember hearing at home? Here they sing it like we sing I Am A Child of God; from Primary to Priesthood, they all know it by heart. And I've come to love it, too; though it's meant to be sung at a marching clip, they play it slightly slower here and the words are given this grateful gravity to them that fills me fuller with each new note. It's such a sure song, a bright song, a knowing song—that makes me want to do. Kita maju 'tuk kembali, the chorus reads, ke tanah yang suci. Tujuan kita t'lah pasti: Hidup yang abadi. We're marching to return to holy land, our purpose already sure: eternal and everlasting life. It's easy to put life back into perspective, when you see it like that. We are the lucky ones; we know where we came from, we know what we're doing here, and we know where we're headed. Our purpose is already sure. So why am I so easily beset by distraction, by weakness, by the ways of the world? With a message like the one we wave from our banner, there should be no need to deviate from our marching course. I've been thinking over this for these last few days, the memorized verses tumbling about in my head, and I've decided it's the chorus that I'll sing to greet 2010. I really want to change. I really want to grow. I really, really want to become. And these are new year resolutions I don't want to break. So, as the Indonesians would say, Ayo! It's time to march straight on into the light—even if that does mean walking, stumbling, on these shadowfeet. The secret is: we can (and should) lean on Him all the way.
maju, terus maju.
I love you.
p.s. If Kemuliaan's my anthem, Ruth May's my conductor—she even inspired me to doodle a bit, too. Read up on her if you can! And sorry this is only a photocopy; the original's already long on it's way to Hong Kong (trade art for art, you see—at what point do you think this arrangement will work for an original oil painting a full wall high?)
Sister Atmi's been teaching me Cantonese. And now calls me "Ma" like they do in HK, which comes out like a short bark more akin to a distressed goose than a small child needing her mum. It makes us both laugh every time.
President did come with the package today, but I haven't opened it yet because right after moving in my new desk (huzzah, again!) he took us out to lunch and then to buy pineapples up on the mountain. But it did arrive safely and I'm sure I can thank you all in advance for the incredible depth and wisdom and love and humor and inspiration and encouragement that I am sure to find inside. You are truly, truly the best.
Also, I wrote you about Christmas and everything in a letter, which I put inside a package, which I shall mail sometime tomorrow along with SisLily's present to Malang. Just so you know.
Pres took us to Cafe Bali, which is this terribly expensive-looking little restaurant just a ways above our house that super swanky people are always walking towards and I always thought, "wow, that's so beyond anything we could ever experience" and then we go today and their prime steak dishes are maybe the equivalent of USD 4. The incredible jump between have and have-not continues to astound—astound—me.
Not a lot has happened here since we last talked (ha! we talked!), so . . . yep. That's it.