Monday, December 28, 2015

Christmas! - Green Hills, Tennessee

Hello people!


Merry after Christmas! Happy belated Boxing Day! We are playing monopoly right now and it is fantastic. I forgot how much I love this game. However I lost so that is kind of a sad pain. However now writing emails is so much easier.


I saw these great Christmas lights on Christmas Eve. There are two houses here. I think the one to the right won.



I have so much candy and dessert I may just die of it. Everything is so delicious but I literally cannot eat another bite... Except maybe one truffle more.

The weather here has been weird. It is so warm suddenly that all of the trees are blooming flowers. All of this warm air is messing things up though so we have rain all over the place and there was a tornado on Wednesday. We had to stay in our apartment during the tornado so it was weird. We had so much time not working this week which is kinda annoying but also kinda fun. I really cannot decide if I like relaxing or not. And now we get New Year's Eve and day off as well so it is going to be an odd week. Hopefully real missionary work will resume as normal next week.

Christmas was super fun thank you everyone for the awesome presents. I have thoroughly enjoyed them. 



Elder Tolman's family sent him a bunch of Star Wars toys and he loved being a nerd.

video

Anyway. I hear that everyone and their cat has seen our YouTube debut. That was a really weird experience. To be honest I really kinda hate that video but apparently everyone likes it so you're welcome. Enjoy listening to me :P

Recently I have found a great love for this song:

Israel, Israel, God is speaking.
Hear your great Deliv’rer’s voice!
Now a glorious morn is breaking
For the people of his choice.
Come to Zion, come to Zion,
And within her walls rejoice.
Come to Zion, come to Zion
And within her walls rejoice.

Every time I sing it I can't help but be filled with joy. What could be more glorious than to know that God is speaking. He calls to the world with prophets and personal revelation. You can hear your deliverer's voice. And these are the glad tidings that we get to proclaim to the world. Such a calling is just amazing. As hard as everything is, I would definitely not trade this for anything in the world. I know that this is the Lord's work and I love being part of it. 

I love you all! Have a fantastic week and ttfn. Ta ta for now!

- Elder Basham 

Monday, December 21, 2015

Snow! - Green Hills, Tennessee

Happy Monday!

Out of all the weeks I have spent on my mission, this is one of them. This week we did not have the car so we got to ride our bikes all over the place. I have now reached over 125 miles of biking which is awesome. Only 375 and then another 500 miles and then it will be super awesome. Anyway as fun as that was, my legs hurt sooooo much. Every time I have stood up or sat down in like five days has been a nightmare. Having the car this week will be fantastic! 

Guess what! It snowed on Friday. Well kinda. There was a snow and then another one and then like 20 more. Overall there were about 50 snows that fell from the sky. None of them stuck at all or anything, but it was cute watching them flurry down in little spirals. It was the funniest thing ever. Elder Tolman, being from Idaho, was quite disappointed with this display. I, on the other hand, thought it was far more than enough snow to make me frozen. 

Yesterday we had a musical sacrament meeting for Christmas. There was a narration in between the choir songs talking about the Savior and his birth and impact. It was a really touching experience and one of my favorite sacrament meetings ever. The really fun thing though is that we sang the same arrangement of Still Still Still that Mr Flora has us sing at the end of every Christmas concert. I already had it memorized and Brother Tolk was nicely impressed. It reminded me of how we always hold the candles around the room and all the alumni get up and sing with us. That was fun. Now I'm looking forward to going to a Campo Christmas concert in a few years.

So this week we had a rather interesting experience in a lesson. The investigator was being rather confrontational and was far more interested in "teaching" us than learning anything. He said a lot of rude things and asked many probing questions. While he meant these questions to tear us down and away from our beliefs, I took them seriously and learned quite a lot. I'd like to ask you some of them and a few of my own. 

How are you showing love for the Savior in your life?

How does your discipleship in your church help your fellow men?

What does the Book of Mormon have anything to do with God's love?

How is sharing your beliefs in Jesus Christ an act of love for others?

Do you know you are doing all you can for your Savior?

If ye have felt to sing the song of redeeming love, can ye feel so now?

I hope that the answers to those questions bring the happiness and confirmation that you are exactly where you'd like to be. I know they really helped me. If you have any doubts or questions, do not hesitate to get down on your knees and pray about it. Also, read the Book of Mormon.

I hope you all have a fantastic week!
Love,

Elder Basham


Food!

Hey y'all

So today we had a rather fun p-day. We went to Jeni's ice cream finally. I can see now why everyone told me to go there. It is super delicious. They have the most amazing flavors there ever. However, at
two dollars a scoop, it is way too much for frequent missionary use. If I was filthy rich I would definitely eat at Jeni's ice cream everyday. Which is saying something because I don't really like ice
cream normally.

Anyway next to Jeni's is this sign and Elder Tolman wanted to take pictures by it so yea...







Your Segment on our Television Show, "Nashville Entertainment Weekly"



Hi Elder Javen Tolman & Elder Liam Basham,
It was wonderful meeting you both this evening! Click the link to view the your Segment on our Television Show, "Nashville Entertainment Weekly." We appreciate your positivity and your message!


Be safe, and many Blessings to you both! 

Jill Santibanez
Host/Co-Owner
Music City Real Estate Weekly-Exit Realty Elite
Nashville Entertainment Weekly

Monday, December 14, 2015

There are some green hills far away - Green Hills, Tennessee

Hello 

This week we had a Christmas zone conference. Thanks to that we now have a little black box in our car called a Tiwi. It speaks with a soft voice and tells us to do things like wear seat belts and not speed or accelerate too fast. We named it Hal. Fortunately Elder Tolman is a pretty great driver so Hal has never actually said anything to us except "driver logged in." I doubt he'd be as silent if I was the designated driver. Hopefully when I do get the chance to drive I will finally learn to be patient and safe. Hal should do a nice job of teaching me I think.

Besides that wonderful Christmas gift from Salt Lake, we did a gift exchange and tie exchange. Someone stole Elder Tolman's present so I gave him mine. It was a fun little object lesson for the restoration. For the tie exchange I got this really really old tie that someone had bought from goodwill for a dollar. It is purple and has a bunch of floral patterns layered over each other. I decided to cut it open and resew it as a skinny tie. That was kinda fun to experiment with and I think it actually looked rather lovely in the end. Although much better than before, I still didn't want it so I wrapped it up for elder Tolman's Christmas present. So you'll have to wait for a picture. 

Besides that this week has been pretty uneventful. It is super warm weather. It was literally colder when I got here in October than it is now. So we have been enjoying it. Although it is now super windy today. It's not normally windy here so it is unusual that all of the trees are nearly falling over. One whipped our car and left a slash on it. They put up a tree in our apartment complex and elder Tolman really liked it so we went to take pictures by it:




 I'm starting to get really excited for Christmas. The members are being really nice and our ward choir is having a lot of concerts. They sang Mack Wilberg's arrangement of The Spirit of God at stake conference yesterday and it sounded so amazing. There are a lot of great musicians in Nashville. I just realized, I can say that I went to Nashville and sang :) that's pretty fun.

The message at stake conference yesterday was pretty simple and direct; every speaker covered the same thing. Read the Book of Mormon. I just want to bare my testimony of the Book of Mormon. I know that it is true, that it is the most correct of any book on earth, and that I have drawn nearer to God by abiding by its precepts than by any other book. I know that reading it every day has changed my life. I would not be the person I am today without the message it contains and the spirit it brings. I have seen this book change people's lives. Homes that were once broken and dark have been healed completely and brought to light by just a few weeks of reading the book together as a family. I can see the complete change of countenance in someone who has prayerfully studied it. I know that the Book of Mormon is true and that Moroni's promise is real and I say this in the name of Jesus Christ, amen. 

I hope you all have a wonderful week and know that God loves you and so do I
- Elder Basham


Sunday, December 13, 2015

Message from Sister Carter - Green Hills, Tennesee

Hello.  This is Brittany Carter, a member of the Green Hills Ward in Nashville, TN.  My husband and I just had the pleasure of enjoying dinner with your son tonight.  We have had he and his companion in our home several times now, and I just wanted you to know that he is one of the most spiritual, sincere, and kind missionaries I have ever met.  We have been feeding our elders for years, and Elder Basham will always stand out in our memories as one who was a true delight to be around.  Thank you for raising such a good young man to help us spread the gospel here in TN.  He is truly dedicated to the work.  You would be proud to see him in action.


Elder Tolman, Elder Basham, Brother Carter

Monday, December 7, 2015

A Savior is Born - Green Hills, Tennesee

Hello sentient, carbon-based life forms

You know how they always say that the grass is greener on the other side. Well it is true. I mean literally. Elder Tolman and I were sitting at the bus stop in front of our apartment and noticed this. The grass is actually, in-fact greener on the other side of the road. To be sure of it we went over there and looked back to observe that it was no illusion -- the grass is yellower on our side of the road. So yea there is that. 

Anyway it is the Christmas season and that is awesome. Being a missionary at Christmas is great because we can go Christmas caroling and then everybody lets us into their house. We get cookies and hot chocolate and all sorts of fantastic things. The greatest part is this wonderful new Christmas video called A Savior is Born. You can find it on christmas.mormon.org. Every one of you should go watch that video. It is only two minutes long and I just gave you the link in this fancy email. Your computer/tablet/cell phone will work perfectly in allowing you to see the video just by clicking on the blue text. So you have absolutely no excuse to not watch it. I'm being serious here. 

Then after you watch the amazing video and feel the spirit (I can promise you will) take very seriously the invitation at the end. Discover and ponder why the Savior was born. What does his birth and life mean to you personally. Once you have done that I can promise you will be filled with peace and love and the spirit. Now. Doesn't that feel wonderful? Wouldn't it be great if those you care about could also feel this same wonderful way? Wouldn't it just make someone's life better if they took a minute to think about the Savior in their life? Yes. It would. Go and share the video with a friend or family member. Tell other people about it. Spread the joy of Jesus Christ and Christmas. Try to show at least one person the video before Christmas Eve. 


Anyway Christmas is awesome. 

We have the best Christmas decorations ever
thanks to a wonderful mother and friends.




Also Elder Tolman loves tortillas.


The coolest thing happened this week. We got to go to the hospital to give a blessing. But this time it was for a new mother and her infant. We got to see the baby just after it was born and she was so cute. I'm glad that the birth went well considering all of the complications they were facing. Thanks to an amazing fire department and hospital staff, little Emma is going to grow up and be adorable. It's so cool thinking that a whole new person entered the world. I can't even imagine the potential she has. The whole experience was fantastic. Even just the entire fourth floor was full of happy energy and smiling faces. There were baby pictures on all the walls and cute wallpaper. Everyone we talked to was looking forward with joy. It was so much better than our usual hospital trips. Anyway I just thought that was a remarkably fitting way to begin the Christmas season. 

I don't want to end this letter with any deep study questions or pondery things, but rather I want to bear my testimony of what the Savior's birth means to me. Jesus Christ lived and died so that I can be cleansed of all sin and return to my father in heaven; His atonement makes it possible for me to live again. However the joy does not stop there. Thanks the the ordinances of the priesthood after His Holy Order, I can do so with a family that is sealed together. Because of Him, I can have happiness in this life and eternal life in the world to come with those I love most. And I can come to love and serve those I care about most in the same way He does with the help of His Priesthood and Charity. I know that Jesus Christ is my Redeemer and the Savior of the world. I know that He lives and is the very son of God. In His holy name, amen.

With love,
Elder Liam Clark Basham

#ASaviorIsBorn
#DiscoverWhy

Monday, November 30, 2015

The Last Starfighter - Green Hills, Tennessee

Hello people!

Unfortunately Nick used a Star Wars reference in his last email subject so I had to go with the less well-known alternative. Anyway, do you know what is awesome? If you guessed lasers then you are right,because lasers are awesome. Today was the day we got to go to brother Tolk's lab. It was crazy. He took us out to eat at the university club and then gave us a presentation on what they are doing with lasers and what they hope to achieve with it. It's called a CAP experiment if anyone is interested in looking it up. It is so fascinating but I would never have enough time to explain it in an email. Anyway pictures:


(There were a lot of pictures here but the email would not send)


Anyway besides all of that awesomeness, this week was pretty great. One of the interesting parts of serving in the Green Hills area is that there are 16 hospitals here. So there are always ambulances and helicopters coming from all of the towns surrounding Nashville. We get called to give a lot of blessings for all of the people in the hospitals away from their home ward and family. It is a very humbling experience and makes me extremely grateful for the health I have.

This week we went to Centennial hospital for the very first time. Centennial hospital is huge. It has three towers surrounding a central atrium and lots of entrances all around. The entrances have big glass domes over them and all open into big lobbies with glass windows and fancy desks. The round style of the glass ceilings reminded me of space mountain. The atrium was fantastic. First of all, all atriums are fantastic! This one had all sorts of shops and stores and there were trees and ferns in garden boxes lining all the paths. And then there was a round information center in the middle win a big marquee that read "information" circling around. If there was a picture dictionary, they would photograph this place next to the word atrium. It was literally the perfect ideal atrium that any utopian sci fi society would want in all their fancy buildings. I guess that's why it reminds me of tomorrow land. It felt like I was on a space ship.


Anyway,I'm sure that was far less interesting for you to read about than for me to be there, but oh well. This is the crazy part. It was empty. EVERYTHING. There were no cars anywhere around it. All the fancy bridges and tunnels and valet circles were empty. Every single fancy desk behind all the big windows was without staff. And most of the many entrances were closed. When we finally got into the atrium, it was empty too. Nobody in the security office. All the coffee shops and souvenir centers were left open, but without attendants. It wasn't all closed up like it had been abandoned or anything. Everything was still in perfect working condition. It appears as though every person had simple decided to stand up and leave work at the same time. Once we found our way to the center of the atrium to the incredibly cliche circular information desk, we discovered it was empty too. In the place where you'd normally talk to a person was a little red dial phone with an old receiver - spiral cord and all. We picked up the phone and heard the first voice since arriving. They told us our patient was on the fourth floor. So we walked over to the right tower and got on the elevators. On the fourth floor was a long hallway with nobody to be seen. Finally around two corners we found one nurse just outside the room.


The whole thing felt very surreal. It really felt like a video game. I was at least 85% convinced that a necromorph was going to appear at any moment and infect us. I was also pretty certain we'd get to the patient's room to find that he had become a zombie and we would have to run. It felt so weird but also extremely cool. I was actually kinda very disappointed when we saw the nurse and realized the hospital was full of live people. So yea there is that story.


I'm sure everyone will be like "duh, we told you so" but I found out something awesome. It turns out that if you do not eat sugar before going to bed, you sleep so much better. Then you wake up better too. It's fantastic. I went from being dead every morning - unable to even move let alone think or study - to running circles around elder Tolman. The irony is that you have more energy when you don't eat sugar. Who knew?


So this week I was reading in the Book of Mormon and it describes The Father, The Son, and The Holy Ghost as one eternal God. Which sounded really confusing to me, because they are three separate beings. I spent a long time looking around and being confused and eventually decided to give up. I asked myself "why does it matter?" But then I took that question seriously. Why does it matter? What should I care if the godhead is one trinity or three beings? The atonement still works either way... Right?


The prophet Joseph Smith taught that it is impossible for man to understand their own nature, purpose, and destiny without a proper understanding of God. So apparently it is important. Without understanding that the godhead is three separate beings, we would not be able to comprehend our own nature, our purpose in this life, and our destiny in the life to come. So now my study question for you is this: Why? What is your nature, purpose and destiny? What is the point of the atonement?


That will get your heads puzzling for at least a little while I suppose. It took me a couple days to figure out and it will take me an eternity to apply what I learned.


Anyway that is all for now :) have fun till next week


- Elder Basham



This is a picture of my district. They are super awesome.

Sister Richardson is going home now. It's hard to believe it's been
a whole transfer. We're all anxious to find out
who the new person is going to be.

Monday, November 23, 2015

In which Elder Basham freezes to death, eats sardines, and makes pancakes - Green Hills, Tennessee

Hello you! No no you over there. The one with the eyes. Yes you!

This was a very fascinating week. It is definitely starting to be winter here. The Sun sets at 4:30, and it's 30 degrees shortly after that. While tracting last night we had to wear four layers of coats
and gloves and a beanie. I hate beanies, but I didn't care because the warmth was worth it. We just went shopping and bought leather gloves and scarves. (Ross is fantastic) Overall it was actually pretty great though. I love the way these southern neighborhoods feel in the winter. The houses look so cozy. It kinda feels like Christmas already.

Saturday was funny though because when we left our house it was sunny and bright so all we wore were wind breakers. This was the day we had to bike all day from one side of town to the other and back again. Lo and behold, halfway through our journey, the greatest storm of all time fell upon us. We were thoroughly soaked for every appointment. It was awesome though. We rode like 35 minutes to visit this one guy at 8 pm. This sounded like a terrible idea to me. But it was so worth it in the end. The second I saw him I totally loved him. He has the best smile and laugh in the entire world and the fullest jolly black person voice ever. Like he beats Morgan Freeman. You could literally listen
to him read the dictionary and just be enthralled.  It's fantastic.

Side bar: Elder Tolman really loves he city skyline. He is always making me take pictures of it for him a as we drive around. He also randomly wants a picture of the road. These things must be fascinating for someone who has lived on a farm forever (I tease) but anyway he said this great quote. "The city at night is just like if you put a bunch of Christmas lights on anorexic mountains." So yea there's that for you.

Moving on. I never really considered myself to be a picky eater. In fact I suppose you could call me the opposite. I will eat pretty much anything that is prepared well. Not that I'm one of those teenagers
who will shove anything half edible into my forever hungry stomach. That prepared well bit is important. I've even started eating avocados. So yea not picky. That is until I saw sardines. The second my mother opened a can of them for me this summer my reaction was "Nope. No. No. No. Nope. Absolutely not. Not ever." Little did I know that I would have to face sardines again. One of our wonderful investigators is a family from Africa. They are so sweet and grateful and just my favorite in every way. They offered to make us African food for an appointment which we happily looked forward to all week.  It was a white yam, a can of sardines, and lots of cayenne pepper. I was
a bit skeptical at first due to my previous experience with these nasty little canned fish. But either the fact that I had ridden a bike for two hours or all of the hot pepper made it actually rather
delicious. So I suppose I can eat sardines and not die.

Anyway so after a freezing day of fun and interesting food, I was in desperate need of something warm and delicious. So I decided to make pancakes as an after dinner shmeken. Unfortunately there was no syrup. No problem. I'll just make some caramel sauce. That was soooooooo delicious. Like I cannot describe the goodness. And by some miracle, I made the single greatest pancake ever. I won't go so far as to say I'm good at making pancakes or that I could do it again (I didn't. The rest were burnt) but this one pancake was perfect in every way and was just delicious. The only problem was that I accidentally set the caramel sauce back on the burner which had not cooled off yet. So while our first pancakes had perfect caramel syrup, the next ones had sticky caramel candy. And then, before I realized the problem, it turned from that into a grainy paste of buttered sugar crystals. So now we have that to deal with. Fortunately it goes well in oatmeal.

So yea that was a fun day. Besides that, this week was perfect. Like everything went well and we found so many new people to teach. We had more lessons in one day than we had had in whole weeks prior. This area is really picking up and it's super exciting.

I suppose you are wondering what what I am going to talk about now.  How about an Old Testament story. Everybody knows those.

So once upon a time there was a group of 2 million people standing on the edge of the Red Sea with all the armies of Pharaoh behind them. As any of us may have done, they began to panic and whine. Saying things like "it would have been better that we were still slaves" and whatnot. Meanwhile God was literally right there in front of them as a pillar of fire and the shadow of a cloud. Like right there. All they had to do was look up and remember "oh yea the Lord will fight for us." But instead they needed Moses to remind them of this. And they still continued to murmur as the cloud went down in front of the Egyptians.

Anyway the moral of the story is that God is literally right there watching over you. He is always there to protect you. We go through many trials in this world, but we are never alone. Unfortunately we cannot see him there as an epic pillar of fire always following us, but we're expected to have a little bit more faith than the hard-hearted Israelites. So without that visual reminder, how can we
keep ourselves from doubting and fearing?

That certainly is an interesting question isn't it. It's can be super easy to see the Lord's hand in our lives when everything is awesome. However, life rarely is that way. How do we remember the great mercy and power of God even when life stinks? There are lots of fantastic answers to this question. The one I want to focus on for now is this: Have the covenant written on your heart.

What does that mean? Well that is for you to find out. Yep. It's a homework assignment for you should you choose to accept it. I can promise you that engraving the covenant upon your heart will give you the strength to resist all temptation and overcome all trials.

So with that food for thought, I bid you adieu till next week.

- Elder Basham


Monday, November 16, 2015

Greek Food - Green Hills, Tennessee

Hello human beings and cats

Contrary to the subject of this email, I have not had any Greek food. I have finally managed to acquire good Mexican cuisine by my own hand, but after all of the delicious burritos and fajitas, I really want a gyro sammich with Taziki sauce. Oh well I'll find that later. For now though, behold the Parthenon!


The Parthenon in Nashville's Centennial Park

So yea that's all the Greek stuff I have managed to find. Unfortunately the pagan temple is also closed on Mondays so we cannot go inside. No 30 foot statue of Athena :(

On another note, we had zone conference this week. Elder Zwick of the seventy came and it was pretty much the most amazing thing ever! He kinda completely changed our entire approach to missionary work. But it's totally okay because this new method is so much better. On top of that I learned so many things that will completely change my life. I would love to share them all with you but I'd be typing all month.

So instead I'll talk about something completely different: taking your faith to the next level.

So once upon a time there was a man named Adam. He offered sacrifices to the Lord as he was commanded after being cast out of Eden. Then one day an angel came and asked him, "why are you offering a sacrifice to the Lord?" To which Adam replied. "I really have no idea whatsoever. I'm only doing it because God told me to. And that's pretty much good enough for me." (Paraphrased by Liam)

So yea that is next level faith in its finest form.

There are many commandments and responsibilities we are given in this world. Often times, each is given a specific reason and/or blessing associated with the it. These kinds of commandments are really easy for us to follow. We can logically see why God would ask it of us and are quite happy to obey. However, there are also many commandments that we don't understand, don't see the reason for, don't immediately feel the blessings of, or don't really want to follow at all. These are much harder to keep than the ones we like. It takes far more faith.

Remember the faith of Abraham. When God asked him to sacrifice his son Isaac, he got up the next morning and started doing it. Even though it did not make any sense both in the laws of this world and in the laws of heaven. However, Abraham knew the lord had commanded him to do it, so he did.

Fortunately, the Lord will never ask us to lay our children on the altar. However, sometimes He asks us to sacrifice things we would really rather not. They can be things that we really love, things that may even seem good from our frame of mind. But the Lord asks us to take our faith to the next level and to give up some of our pleasures for Him. At these times we must look within ourselves and choose to exercise our faith. We must choose to believe in His plan and promises. We must choose within ourselves that we do love Him first and greatest.

As incredibly hard as this is to do, remember the blessings Abraham received for his obedience. The Lord never ever forgets any act of obedience. Neither does he ever forget an act of disobedience. All acts will be rewarded justly in the end.

So yea those are my thoughts over the last few days. I hope they help you as they have me.

I think that is all for this week. I love you all! Have a fantastic week!

- Elder Basham






Monday, November 9, 2015

There are only two kinds of people in the world: those who divide things into two categories, and those who don't. - Green Hills, Tennessee

Hello everybody!

I love hearing from all of you. This week was super exciting. Monday night Elder Tolman and I ate dinner at the Tolk's house and then had a lesson with an investigator with them. They live in Brentwood so their house is huge. They took us on an art tour and I must say they kinda have Ed beat. They have a painting so big they had to buy this new house just to find a wall to fit it. Anyway that's not even the coolest part. (Side bar: nobody in the south makes good Mexican food) Brother Tolk is the physics professor from Vanderbilt. He is in charge of the laser lab. Here. Watch this video about him.

I'm a Mormon, Musician, and Laser-Loving Physics Professor (2:26)
www.mormon.org/norman

Alright so yea he is super awesome. The best part is that he invited my district to come visit his lab next Monday. We'll get to see all of the crazy laser shenanigans and it is going to be awesome. On top of that, he is the ward choir director. The chapel you saw in the video is actually the Green Hills building. I've sung on that stage. Anyway, Elder Tolman and I were both in choir so we decided to practice singing for appointments and as a tracting technique. He is a tenor and I'm a bass so it is perfect harmony. We had been practicing Nearer my God to Thee and decided to sing it as part of our lesson. Little did we know, Sister Tolk is a Juilliard piano performance major. So she decided to accompany us. Then they liked it a lot. So they voluntold us to sing it as a special musical number in sacrament meeting. That was great and really helped build our relationship with the members. If I find a recording I may attach it next week.

Anyway they invited us to be in the Messiah concert this December with a full symphony and epicness. This will be the greatest thing ever.

Besides that this week has flown by so fast. I really don't remember a ton of things besides that. Elder Tolman and I are having lots of fun together. I am loving cooking. Elder Tolman is super surprised by how many delicious meals can be made in 25 minutes and under $5. He had been eating frozen pizzas and microwave meals for the last four months. So he is quite grateful for me and I am quite grateful that he does all of the dishes.

Here are a few pictures of things that I found in Nashville.



The public library is freaking awesome





So this week I want to talk about faith. Something I was taught a long while ago finally sunk in:

Faith unto salvation requires three things. 1) a belief in God 2) a correct understanding of his character and attributes 3) an actual understanding that our current lives and hearts are in harmony with God's will.

We read in the scriptures and in General Conference talks that faith leads to Hope which leads to our happiness in his life and the ability to get through trials. That Hope of the love and blessings of God and all that He has in store for us allow us to overcome anything we may face on this life. The faith that leads to this Hope, requires all three of the principles.

Often times faith is simply a belief in God - sometimes without even a correct knowledge of Him. This kind of faith gives us something to look forward to - a hope of a better life to come. But this is not the same thing as Hope. That kind of hope for a better life is hardly anything stronger than a hope that life will be easier after college, after the bills are paid, after all the kids grow up.

The kind of enduring, eternal Hope will allow us to truly find peace in this life and eternal life in the world to come. It is the kind of faith that allowed President Eyring's father to have complete happiness despite the death of his wife. It is the kind of faith Great Aunt Rose taught Eva about. It will allow us to become truly converted unto the Lord and, like all the Lamanite converts of Ammon, never fall away. It requires a foundation of faith containing all three principles.

The actual knowledge that one's life and heart are in accordance with God's will is not something you can read in a book, hear from someone, or even think about yourself. This knowledge can come only from the Holy Ghost testifying to our hearts when we are truly doing all we now can to keep the commandments. John 14: 26-27 "the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things ... not as the world giveth, give I unto you."

I can testify that finding this knowledge leads to true peace and happiness. It is by no means an easy journey. But anyone can reconcile their will with the Father's will through prayer. I challenge all to follow the counsel we all heard in General Conference this October to "repent every day" and ask God in prayer "what lack I yet." I promise that as you do these things the Holy Ghost will teach you how to better live a Christlike life.

Always remember that discipleship is not a destination but a journey.

I hope you all have a wonderful week! May the Lord bless you and keep you.
- Elder Basham

Monday, November 2, 2015

Daylight Savings and Nashville Things! - Green Hills, Tennessee

Hello all of the people!

Did you know that I got to sleep in an hour and when I woke up the sun was out. After two weeks of waking up in blackness I could finally see. This magical phenomenon is caused by the end of the treacherous and abominable system known as daylight savings time. Unfortunately I've been told that it will come back in the spring and then I'll have an hour less sleep. So that's a bummer. But for now we are free. This all reminds me of that synthesis essay we had to write in 101 about whether daylight savings is a good idea or nay. Basically it turns out that it is a bad idea for business, health, safety, and international airlines. So yea lets get rid of that okay thanks.

On a totally different note, this week was super fun! We had tons of lessons and 50% of them with a member present. The people here are so wonderful and loving. Everyone just loves to talk to everyone all day. There are tons of immigrants here as well as people who have lived in Tennessee their whole life. Lots of the immigrants are researchers at Vanderbilt University. There are so many grad students and post-docs.

One of our investigators is from China and studies cancer - variable sequencing or something like that. And we have a cool friend on the bus who is working here for 6 months all the way from Rio, Brazil to study tuberculosis. And best of all, one of the members of our ward is THE physics professor at Vandy. I cannot wait to have dinner at his house.

On top of that we had a fun time with Halloween. The ward party was a blast. I think we had the greatest costume ever! (Admittedly we stole the idea from the sister missionaries, but whatevs.)

Elder Tolman and Elder Basham in their Halloween Costumes (switched tags :-D)

And since we had to be in by six on Saturday, we got to just hang out and relax. Which is not a very common occurrence. So we had the most (pun intended) righteous Halloween party ever!

And we had lots of fun cooking. We made burritos to eat while we watched. Which was super fun. But even better we made giant cookies in these cast iron skillets and then put ice cream and chocolate on them. It was super fantastic and we sent the picture to all of our district to make them super jealous XD

Burritos!

Skillet Cookie


So my thought for the week is on Mark 12:30 "And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment." There are four ways to worship God here. I think that is important. If we think of carbon, it is a simple element. With only one it is nothing. With two, it is a gas - empty and flowing about, unable to even absorb light. With three, there is a two-dimensional bond creating flimsy materials such as graphite which shed easily and are dark, absorbing light. But if there are four linked together in a three-dimensional bond, it creates a diamond - revered in industry for its unparalleled strength and hardness, loved by all for its brilliant ability to reflect light. So too we may be, if all four points we become. Only when loving God with all of our heart, soul, mind, and strength can we truly reflect all of His love into the world - to stand as a witness of Christ in all times and all places whatsoever ye may be in. And just like the diamond, when our hearts, souls, minds, and bodies are all employed in the service of God, we will have the strength to overcome anything. Though all hell should endeavor that soul to shake, it will never collapse.

Anyway all y'all take care now :) talk to you next week!

- Elder Basham

(2nd Letter of the Day):  Nashville Things!

OMIGOONISSS!

I cannot believe I forgot to tell you all about the epic things I did.  I was looking forward to sharing this all week. I went to the Bluebird Cafe where Taylor Swift was first discovered by a producer. That was awesome. Unfortunately Taylor was not there but oh well. I forgot to get a picture so that might be coming later.
Music City - Chet Atkins Statue

The other cool thing is this amazing lesson I taught. He absolutely loved the message of the restored Gospel and agreed to be baptized next Saturday. Unfortunately I'm not quite sure he'll be able to make it to the service. He seems a bit glued to his chair if you catch my drift.

Then there is a hilarious bus driver lady. She drives the route right by our house so we see her all the time. The first time I got on the bus, she looked me up and down then said, "Elder Basham? Well. I'm sure glad your first name isn't Sister!" That made me smile a lot. Then one time we were in the middle of driving when she just pulls the bus over in the middle of the road, during rush hour, and yells, "I'm sorry y'all I can't wait no longer!" She ran into McDonald's and bought two chicken sandwiches and then ran back onto the bus. It was the most hilarious thing ever.

Also, the first thing I did in the area last week was organize the kitchen. (Because what is more important than organized food?) I found that we literally have enough hot chocolate to require a hot chocolate shelf. Yes that is right. Once I gathered all of the hot chocolate mix from cupboards around the house, there is so much it requires its own shelf in the kitchen cabinet. Fortunately it's not freezing enough here to need it all yet, but at least we are following the commandment to keep food storage.

I think that is actually all this time. Ttfn :)




Monday, October 26, 2015

First Week! - Green Hills, Tennessee

Hello everyone!

So here I am in Tennessee now :) The ground is green the trees are red the skies are grey. It was so awesome to meet my mission president finally. Although I only actually spent like 20 minutes with him and then I was send to bed and then on my way to a new area.




My trainer is Elder Tolman. He is from a farm town in Idaho. When I first met him he ran at me, picked me up and then spun me around. All I could think was "Nick is on the other side of the country yet I still managed to have him as a companion." It actually made me happy.


Our area, Green Hills, is interesting. It's actually right in Nashville. Which is nice because I was wondering if I'd go two years without actually going to the city of Nashville once. Our ward boundaries go from the center of downtown by the Cumberland river down to Brentwood in the south. Brentwood is full of really really nice billionaire houses. Like ridiculous Victorian mansions with columns and 20 rooms. And then downtown is full of homeless shelters and housing projects. We live in the middle, in a part of town called Green Hills. It's pretty nice and safe and whatnot, but as far as the inside of the apartment ... I've heard it only gets better in other areas. Actually it's not that bad since I started cleaning and organizing it. I have my own desk with a big leather rolley chair! There is also this great picture of the last supper above my desk.




Most of our investigators live up by downtown so we have to bus over there. Buses are actually kinda fun. I'm learning the schedule and routes rather quickly. We get lots of interesting contacts on buses. There was a scientist from Brazil studying tuberculosis at Vanderbilt hospital and then a crazy old man talking about how the bible verses are full of math that describes music theory physics and everybody in between. The other day we missed a bus so we decided to walk 12 miles up past the train tracks to an appointment and then another 12 back. It was quite fun actually. I got to see so many different kinds of places and buildings.


So I've been in Nashville 6 days and I have already heard 7 special musical numbers featuring guitars and country singing. There was one at every church meeting, including the baptism. The only exception was sacrament meeting (thank goodness). It'll take me a while to get used to "Come Come Ye Saints" as a country jam but oh well.

Oh and I've already seen the Nashville Tribute Band in concert. Yup. One week and it's already happened. They are in our stake and did a fireside for our ward. They performed their Redeemer album for us. I had already had to hear it about 26 times thanks to Elder Tolman, so I was getting used to it. And seeing it live was actually really cool. Now that I understand what they were trying to do with their songs it is a lot better and I actually kinda like it. For those who don't know, they tell the story of Jesus from the New Testament but from everyone else's perspective. It's a very different style of music than the hymns I'm used to but I can appreciate that they are praising the Savior in the way they love to. The really weird part is that they performed in the chapel. We were sitting in pews watching a band. It felt so sketchy.

Side note: I'm in Alex Boye's ward. But I haven't seen him because, in the words of Tim Gates,"he's gone off all America's Got Talent crazy and 'I'm famous' nonsense." Other side note: Tim Gates (leader of Nashville Tribute Band) reminds me of Taylor Anderson. Just in his happy talking and mannerisms. Link to I'm a Mormon Video about Tim Gates here.

So that is all of that stuff. Now on to other stuff. We had the most amazing sacrament meeting yesterday. There weren't even enough people to fill the pews but everyone in the ward felt so close and kind. We did an impromptu choir. Which is where anyone from the congregation just goes up and sight reads the piece as the director just goes for it. We actually sounded really awesome. We sang "Oh My Father" which is one of my favorite hymns ever. It was super great. Then the talks were just phenomenal. My favorite was on John 14:15 "If ye love me, keep my commandments." She talked about how this is not another commandment, but rather an explanation of how to live the gospel. If we truly love the Savior, keeping His commandments will be entirely natural. It won't be a list of things we must struggle to keep; it will just be who we are. Then she quoted Interstellar, "Love is the only force we can perceive that transcends space and time. I'm drawn across the universe to a man [I've never seen because He died for my sins]."

I know I did a terrible job of capturing all the awesomeness that was in her statements but I hope it can touch one of you somehow.

Anyway that is all for this week. Ttfn! ta ta for now!

Elder Basham

Friday, October 16, 2015

Almost Done With The MTC

Dear Humans,

I can't believe its almost time to leave for Tennessee. These have been the longest 10 days ever, yet the week flies by so fast. Working constantly for 15 hours is crazy, but it is so rewarding and worth it. You can get so much done in that much time.

My companion and I have gotten to teach our first investigator. He is such an interesting person and I just love talking to him. He teaches Chinese for a living and plants bonsai trees as a hobby. He is genuinely interested and loves asking questions and keeps all of his reading assignments. Its rather sad that we only get to see him once more. I hope the next missionaries will love him as much as we do.

On Sunday we watched this amazing talk given by Elder Bednar called The Character of Christ. It is so amazing - like literally life-changing. Unfortunately the only place on earth you can see it is here at the MTC, so basically everyone should go on a mission if only just to hear this talk. (Also, the rest of the 24/18 months are really an amazing life-building experience.) (Editor's note: Link to talk found HERE) Basically, the message is that Christ never once was concerned for Himself in anyway; all that He did was for the benefit of others in all ways. There are so many amazing examples of this throughout the New Testament and Book of Mormon. However, the greatest part is that, while the natural man will always turn inward selfishly, we can be changed through the Atonement of Christ to turn outward just as He did. In losing yourself to truly care about others, therein you find your greatest happiness. I loved this message so much and I can testify of its truth. I have already begun to see that change in my life.

All the new missionaries came in. They are super exited. This is a really good group who all actually care about the work. It's funny how I think of them as "freshmen" in my mind but in reality they are only 7 days behind us. It is crazy how much you learn and grow every day here. Everyone is like a whole new person by the end of every day.

Next email you get will be from Tennessee! This is exciting. Have an amazing week :)

Sincerely,

Elder Basham


Elder Basham and his MTC Companion, Elder Melville, at the Provo Temple
(Photo courtesy of Sophia Sorenson)




Friday, October 9, 2015

A Long-Expected Journey (First Letter from the MTC)

Hello Everyone,

After 84 days of waiting the time is finally here, in the Missionary Training Center. This place is quite amazing. So much has happened in such a short period of time. I've been here less than 48 hours and it already feels like it has been weeks. Its kinda cool how natural everything feels. I feel like I have always been on a mission doing this. All of the thoughts of sleeping in and hanging around are gone. I am just so excited and ready to keep working.

I feel like it is a rule here that you must complain about the food. Its just what everyone does, so here I go. The food sucks. It makes everyone sick - especially the orange juice. Everything tastes so disgusting and I never feel well. (Actually everything is perfectly delicious and there are no problems with it. I like the food, so I don't see why there is so much complaining. I feel like its just a very long-running joke that the orange juice has laxatives.)

My companion is Elder Melville. He is super awesome. We are absolutely nothing alike from back home, but out here we get along so well. He does a wonderful job of reminding me to keep it simple and to be humble and caring. We're both learning a lot from each other.

So it turns out that mission prep class and having actually read the scriptures already taught me all of the textbook curriculum of the MTC. All of the classes seem simple and repetitive. With some of the things we talk about, I cannot believe there were actually people who didn't know them. But my branch president told me something profound that totally changed my whole outlook on the program. Here at the MTC we are not really learning the Gospel or how to teach. Studying those things is only the background for what we are really doing. We are here to learn how to care about and help others. If I spend all of my efforts trying to help my companion be the best missionary ever, I will learn everything I need to know. It is not a process of learning information, but a process of changing hearts and minds. This message really touched me, and I really hope to be able to embody these teachings.

Also, I have been made a zone leader of four districts. This means I get to welcome new missionaries to our zone next week and conduct sacrament meeting and priesthood meeting on Sunday. Fun things.

My favorite experience here so far is singing "We'll Bring the World His Truth." I have always loved this hymn and it has taken on especially powerful meaning for me as I was preparing to serve a fill-time mission. Singing here, where the spirit is so strong, with 500 new missionaries was just amazing. But the coolest part was that they changed the words "We will be the Lord's missionaries" to "We are now!" It was truly a powerful and amazing feeling.

Anyway, I imagine you were waiting to hear from me on Monday. That will be true in the mission field, but here at the MTC everyone has a different preparation day. For me that is Friday, so I'll talk to you all next week at this time.

If anyone wants my two cents of advice, here it is. Follow the counsel of Kevin W. Pearson and study the word of God "every day. Every day. Every day!"

Sincerely,
Elder Basham

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

On His Way!

From Mom: "Liam is on his way to the MTC. So excited for him! Happy Mission! I love this boy!"












Sunday, September 20, 2015

Sacrament Meeting Talk

All right, so for those of you who don't know me, I'm Liam Basham.  I've been called to serve in the Tennessee Nashville Mission, and I'm leaving on October 7th.  And I only have 15 minutes to talk, so that's all the introduction you guys get.

So, in Doctrine and Covenants section 51, verse 15, the Lord says to the Saints, "And thus I grant unto this people a privilege of organizing themselves according to my laws."  

Now, here he was talking about the laws that He set for them to organize their property and land and the services for the poor in their city of Kirtland.  But I was thinking more about that and how really all His commandments and laws are a privilege to us that He has given.   He doesn't follow behind us with a stick forcing us to obey the commandments, neither does he leave us lost, wandering around with what we have to do, not knowing. But, instead, He has given us commandments that will lead us back to Him and also lead us to the happiest way of life that He knows, and they're really a gift.        

So my topic, to paraphrase the scripture, "and thus I the Lord have given you the privilege of organizing yourselves into families according to my laws."  The laws that God has said about families are really a gift in our lives because the family is one of God's greatest gifts to us.  The words of a primary song:
God gave us families
To help us become who He wants us to be
This is how He shares His love
For the family is of God

And I know that that's true, and there are many wonderful blessings that come from families. The first lesson you receive when you come into this world, and also the very first words of The Book of Mormon are, "I, Nephi, having been born of goodly parents..."  Your parents are the first blessing you get, and I have wonderful parents who have been an amazing blessing in my life.

I have a father who has shown me the example of always spending time with his children. He's never too busy or too poor or anything to come to be with me and to show up to every band concert even though it's an hour drive.  He has really shown me an example of being able to base a family off of the principles of work, and service and wholesome recreation. That has been an amazing blessing in my life.

I also have a mother who is incredibly wonderful in teaching me the commandments of God. She's always there to remind me that there is a Heavenly Father who loves me and who is there for me.  She has been patient with me through all my trials and sufferings and has always gently led me back to the way.  Your parents are an amazing blessing in your life, and they are a gift from God to you.

The next blessing that comes from family is one of the very first blessings that Adam received at the creation of the world.  God saw him and said that it is not right for man to be alone, so he created a help meet for him, or a helper suited to him.  In the Family Proclamation, it says, " Gender is an essential characteristic of individual, premortal, mortal, and eternal identity and purpose."

The reason that we have male and female spirits, and they've been that way since before the world began and since afterwards,  is because the nature of male and female spirits is such that they complete each other.  They are help meets for each other.  Like a left hand and a right. They are complete opposites, yet the same.  And I could live my life with only my right hand but driving and typing would be incredibly difficult.  So, to have both of them gets us to a higher level of living than we would be able to have before. So the blessing of being able to marry and to find an eternal companion to help you grow and ascend is an amazing gift from Heavenly Father.

One of the most important gifts of families is the opportunity to have one of your own.  There is no more exalted title than that of Father or Mother.  God Himself wants us to call Him our Heavenly Father.  Think how important it must be to be able to fulfill that calling and office, and it gives you the ability to see as God would see as you raise your children in love and righteousness and protect them.

I really want to share this from Linda K Burton's talk,  We'll Ascend Together.  This is the story of her uncle, Don, after he bought his first house.  She says, 

"Because there were five small children to feed and clothe, there was not enough money to fence the yard. Taking seriously one of his divine roles as the protector of his family, Uncle Don drove a few small wooden stakes into the ground, took some string, and tied the string from stake to stake all around the yard. He then called his children to him. He showed them the stakes and string and explained to them that if they would stay on the inside of that makeshift fence, they would be safe.

"One day the visiting teachers watched in disbelief as they approached the house and saw five little children standing obediently at the edge of the string, looking longingly at a ball that had bounced beyond their boundaries and out into the street. One little child ran to get their daddy, who, in response, ran and retrieved the ball."

So, it reminds me a lot of what I was telling earlier about how God's commandments are a gift to us to keep us safe and happy, and as a father he was able to experience some of that himself to be able to protect and watch his children to give them rules that would make them happier and to be able to love and bless them as they did that.

Then also the title of mother is one of the most important callings in life. This is what our prophet Thomas S. Monson has said, "May each of us remember this truth; 'one cannot forget mother and remember God. One cannot remember mother and forget God.' Why? Because these two sacred persons, God and an earthly mother, partners in creation, in love, in sacrifice, in service, are as one.”

The call to be a mother and a father are the two most important callings in the Church in the Restored Gospel and in the Kingdom of God.  It is a blessing that God has given us the ability to do that.  One of the greatest blessings of families come from the temple, and that's that these wonderful gifts of our parents who are there to teach us, and our companions who are there to help us, and our kids who we are able to raise and teach and guide, that they can all be together for eternity because of the blessings of sealing in the temple, that through the restored priesthood power in the Church, we never have to say good-bye to those loved ones - those amazing gifts in our lives.  

There's a law, though, irrevocably decreed in Heaven before the world was, that all blessings are predicated upon obedience, and the blessing of being able to live forever with your family and with God is predicated upon obedience to those commandments and those covenants you have in the temple.  The problem is that we're not perfect, and we're going to mess up, and that we're going to break those covenants because we kind-of suck as human beings but that's where comes the greatest gift of all.  These are the words of President Boyd K Packer in his talk, The Plan of Happiness.  " Nowhere is the generosity and mercy of God more manifest than in repentance.  Our physical bodies, when harmed, are able to repair themselves, sometimes with the help of a physician. If the damage is extensive, however, often a scar will remain as a reminder of the injury.

"With our spiritual bodies it is another matter. Our spirits are damaged when we make mistakes and commit sins. But unlike the case of our mortal bodies, when the repentance process is complete, no scars remain because of the Atonement of Jesus Christ. The promise is: 'Behold, he who has repented of his sins, the same is forgiven, and I, the Lord, remember them no more' (D&C 58:42)."

So no matter where anyone is in the path of life in following their covenants or trying to strive to come towards God, it's never too late for them to always have the wonderful joy of the Atonement and be able to repent, and to be completely washed free of your sins and to live together with your family forever and that is one of the most amazing gifts that I could ever think of.  It's mind-blowing.  

I'd just like to take some time now to bear my testimony, as it has grown line-upon-line, precept-on-precept from the beginning.  I know that there's a God and I know that He loves me. And I know that when I disobey His commandments, I don't feel His presence and it's sad and lonely, but when I take the time to come to Him, when I repent and I pray and read the scriptures, I can feel His presence in my life, and it's wonderful, and I can know that He loves me.

I know that the scriptures are the word of God, that by clinging fast to them, they will lead you to the love of God, not only to feel of God's love but to develop your own love for God.  I have developed my own love for God, and it is an amazing blessing in my life.  And I know that The Book of Mormon is the word of God, and that it was brought to us as gift in these latter-days to teach us the fullness of the Gospel as was lost, and that fullness of the Gospel was restored through Joseph Smith.  Through that Restored Gospel, we now have the power of the priesthood, that authority to perform sacred ordinances, and that sacred priesthood power to perform ordinances will help us to be together with our families forever. 

I know that this is all true, and that this is the true Church, that the priesthood authority of God to help us be sealed to our families forever is real  and it's an amazing blessing.

I say all these things in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.