(This is a portion of this weeks letter Paul sent to Elder Shoemaker about his five-mile swim in the Columbia River this past week - GREAT MESSAGE)
As we swam, I learned another "swimming lesson". Forest fires burning in the Northwest have brought a lot of smoke in the air so its hard to see long distances. We hadn't completely covered the route we were taking before so we weren't sure of the exact path we would take. I was the navigator and decided to take the journey a step at a time. There were familiar landmarks I could see that helped guide us along the way. The first landmark was the bridges I've driven over many times. As we swam under the bridges, we stayed clear of the huge pillars holding the bridge spans as we were concerned there might be dangerous currents or turbulence. After the bridge, I could faintly make out the next landmark, a large tree on the far end of Bateman Island. Even though the smoke was thick, the landmarks safely guided us along our journey. The next landmark was a navigation marker that was just downstream. From there, I could see the shimmer of the sunlight reflecting from a building at our final destination. We followed the landmarks and finished our trip safely and without getting lost or off course. It reminded me of how we can successfully navigate ourselves through life. As we identify our destination, there will be acquaintances, temptations and situations that could interfere with our trip like the smoke that clouded the landmarks on our swim. If we have landmarks along our way, we can stay focused on those to progress through life. Maybe some of those landmarks might be graduating from college, having a joyous marriage, ongoing spiritual fulfillment or any number of other things. Having landmarks along our life journey can help us weather the turbulence that we all will ultimately suffer and help us emerge better than if we were just foundering along in life without purpose, goals or aspirations. As we identify landmarks, we have a guide to follow and hopefully bring lasting joy and happiness as we base our landmarks on enduring values and principles.
Hope this can be a help to you as you navigate! Have a great week, Elder!
Wow! It sounds like the fires are really bad and are affecting a lot of things. That is crazy to hear about the ash on the trampoline and plants. I love your analogy Dad. That is so important that we have landmarks to direct our paths and give us happiness along the way. It is really cool. Maybe I can set goals as my landmarks and use those to help me continually progress out here. There was an analogy that came to my mind one day. I am not sure if I have shared it yet. Anyway, it is about knots in a rope. We go throughout our lives (the rope) and we get to the knots that may discourage us and possibly stop us from progressing. However, with those knots in the rope it give us something to grasp onto and build off of allowing us to build and even have a better grip to help us become better.
I finished the Book of Mormon again and it was so amazing. I did a challenge given to us from the Mission President and it really has helped me to gain an even stronger testimony of the truthfulness of it. I love the Book of Mormon and I am so grateful for the opportunity to share it with others. This past week we had a meeting for all of the district leaders. I do not know what it was but it was so amazing and I learned so much from it and it really helped me to see the importance of missionary work. It is not just to baptize people but it is to go out and serve how Christ would. I have really learned to love the people that we meet every day. However, I will still go out and help people make the step of baptism in their lives. We should be helping two or three people make this step soon and come closer to their Savior, Jesus Christ.
I hope y'all are doing great and if I am ever in danger, y'all will know as soon as possible. I am really loving it out here. I miss my family but know that you are all being taken care of while I am gone. I have been purging my mind of trunky thoughts and have seen the success from focusing on the work. I found that I can progress as much as I can and no one can kep that from happening. We are doing great here in the Temple 2nd ward and this area is finally starting to show the success from turn around that has happend from the Lord preparing the people here.
I have decide that I will take a weekly picture every Sunday and send it home each week. I think it will be cool to see the difference between now and later and have a weekly picture of Elder Shoemaker. Thank you for your prayers.
Love, Elder Shoemaker