Monday, March 28, 2016

Fluffy bunnies and baby ducks! - Green Hills, Tennessee

Happy Easter everyone!

Although I did not actually have any ducks or bunnies with me this year, I had a pretty fantastic Easter. We ate dinner with our ward mission leader and his family. They are pretty much the most awesome people ever. I made a cobbler for dessert and everything was delicious. Afterward we got to find a few eggs before sharing an Easter message about Christ and the atonement. It was absolutely fun.

The morning was beautiful and quiet and birds were singing everywhere. It was nice to be in the stillness and reflect upon the morning of the Savior's resurrection in the garden by Jerusalem. For sacrament meeting we had a musical program full of all the hymns about Christ and a narration from the New Testament and Book of Mormon. It was a really great experience all around.

However the best part by far was Melanie. This is Melanie:

She was baptized yesterday. Elder Torres had to help me lower her down due to her back injury, so that is why we are both in white. Also, it makes for a fantastic picture. She was so happy for this. We have been teaching Melanie for five weeks and she completely changed her life around. This is not the same Melanie we first met; she is now a happy, loving, and trusting Melanie who is absolutely excited about being a disciple of Christ. We first met her when we helped her move a 10 by 30 storage unit completely full of broken furniture in a hail storm. Afterwards I was completely frozen and covered with dust from head to foot. Shivering through the rain, all I could teach was, "Here is the Book of Mormon. Read it. You will like it." She did read it, and she loved it! She loved it so much that she came to church that Sunday. She could immediately feel the truth of it all and how much this gospel would bless her family, so she came back again and again.

She had really looking forward to getting baptized and receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost for a few weeks already. She really wanted that gift to guide her and help her serve others and teach her children. When she was baptized, she was just absolutely beaming with joy. She could feel the spirit testifying of the truth of her actions and the love of her Father and Savior. The best part was her confirmation yesterday. President Watson confirmed her and she was really happy about that. Afterwards she was so overcome with joy that she just burst out laughing. Then in gospel principles class, she talked to every investigator after the lesson and introduced herself. She told them all about her baptism and confirmation. She taught them each about the gift of the Holy Ghost and bore her testimony of how much she already felt it changing her life. It was just great. She felt the spirit so strong she couldn't contain it within herself. She had to just tell everyone. She has truly had a mighty change of heart and now desires everyone's salvation with her own.

What an amazing way to commemorate Easter. Baptism symbolizes the death and resurrection of the Savior as we are buried in the water and rise up triumphant over sin - truly being born again of water and the spirit. It is because of his atonement that we can become cleansed from sin. On that Sunday morning many years ago, he broke the bands of death and provided the way for our salvation. All he asks in return is that we follow him. That is my invitation for you all this week. Come unto Christ. Follow Him. Discover how you can by feasting upon the words of Christ found in the Book of Mormon, which contains the fullness of the everlasting gospel. The promise is extended to all who do so with love of God and all mankind: ye shall have eternal life. I bear my witness of this truth and do so in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

Elder Basham 

Monday, March 21, 2016

There are no piranhas in Africa - Green Hills, Tennessee

So this week a pretty awesome thing happened. We got to have a meeting with Elder Bednar of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. Our whole mission was there. People drove from over four hours away to get there at 7AM. Fortunately, we are the center of the mission and it only took us a half hour. Elder Torres and I got to sit in the front row. It was absolutely incredible!

The best part of the meeting was how he taught us. I had assumed he would give a talk, much like General Conference or a CES fireside. Instead, all he did was ask us questions. They weren't test questions or anything like that. All he ever asked was, "what did you learn?" We had read a few talks beforehand and then we all just talked and listened and learned together. He didn't come to teach us something; he came to help us learn for ourselves. Everyone was able to learn something completely unique to them. The Spirit was able to give personal, specific revelation to everyone who listened. It was a lot different from one speaker covering one topic for everyone to hear. Afterwards we each got to shake his hand. It was a great experience and I am so glad to have been there. It has completely changed my view of teaching.

Today we went back to the escape experience. They opened up a new puzzle. This time, instead of being stuck in prison, we were locked in a crazy dead uncle's study. We had to find the "inheritance" and then escape. It was so cool. There was the most epic surprise ever and the inheritance ended up being an extremely hilarious allusion to an 80s movie. Although this puzzle was so much harder than the prison escape. We finished with only 2 minutes left. This escape game idea is completely amazing. The next puzzle will be a zombie apocalypse survival. It opens in about two months. I wonder if I will be transferred by then. If so I guess I'll just have to come back and try it on a vacation some day. Unfortunately there were no pictures this time.

In accordance with Elder Bednar's new teaching method, and because I am out of time, my spiritual thought this week will be simple. What did you learn from this talk?

Bednar - Ask in Faith

Have an amazing week! Love,
Elder Basham

Monday, March 14, 2016

#hallelujah - Green Hills, Tennessee

Good afternoon and welcome to this week's episode of Elder Basham talks a lot. Featured in this episode: lots of baptisms, sentence fragments and the Oxford comma.

So this week I had to conduct my first two baptismal interviews. That was exciting and interesting. It is so amazing hearing the testimonies of these people who have truly been changed by the gospel. In such a short time their lives and families have become so much more peaceful and amazing. One of my favorite things {G} told me was that the gospel has helped her to be a better mother. I love hearing that because I know it is so true. The family is ordained of God and the Gospel of Jesus Christ heals, blesses and protects families. 

It was even more amazing seeing her after her confirmation on Sunday. The Holy Ghost was truly upon her. You could just see it. She looked as if she had been that way her whole life. It is one of the greatest miracles to witness. I have had that gift so long I forget what a true blessing it is. I bear my witness that the gift of the Holy Ghost by the laying on of hands after baptism by immersion is part of the gospel of Jesus Christ which leads us to salvation. The Holy Ghost is united with the Father and the Son in his infinite love for us and delights to guide and comfort us throughout our lives. The gifts of the spirit are real just as in ancient times and the heavens are open to give us revelation by the power of the Holy Ghost.

And by the power of the Holy Ghost I have come to know that Jesus Christ is the Son of the living God, the holy messiah who is from all eternity to all eternity. He loves each and every one of us, weeps when we suffer and rejoices when we turn to him. That love carried him into the Garden of Gethsemane where he suffered all of our pains, temptations and sins, so that he could be filled with mercy and succor us according to our infirmities. He then took upon him death on the cross at Calvary. On the third day he rose victoriously from the tomb to loose the bands of death. He lives! He will return the King of Kings, Lord of Lords!

Take the time this Easter season to reflect upon this gift and share it with others. Oh how great the importance to make these things known unto the inhabitants of the earth that they may know that no man can dwell in the presence of God save it be through the merits mercy and grace of the Holy Messiah! I promise that as you remember him and share your testimony, you will be blessed with his spirit to be with you and his love to surround you. I bear this witness in the sacred name of Jesus Christ, amen. 

Elder Basham 

P.S. Here is an amazing video to help you share this message with others. Do it. Do it now! #hallelujah video

Monday, March 7, 2016

That reminds me of a story I heard on NPR - Green Hills, Tennessee

There was a reporter who set out to find the best sandwich in the world. He traveled all over to find the original Phillie cheese steak, panini, Ruben, and every other variety of sandwich both hot and cold. After much tasting and pondering, pondering and tasting, and a lengthy discussion with himself, the reporter finally had his answer. The best sandwich in the world is a home grown New Jersey tomato slice on wonder bread with mayonnaise.

I almost have to agree with him, and I can really see where he is coming from. After a lot of work, there is nothing in the world more tasty than a fresh tomato. The difference between a sandwich and an amazing meal is definitely a tomato. However I must disagree on a few points: first, there is no way it could be the tastiest sandwich in the world without cheese. Cheese is basically the best thing ever invented. Secondly, Roma tomatoes are better than jersey tomatoes. So my conclusion is that the best sandwich ever is a fresh Roma tomato with cheddar cheese and mayonnaise on wonder bread. A close second would be a gyro pita with fresh tomatoes, cucumber sauce, and feta cheese. 

Anyway, last week I bought a bunch of tomatoes and it was so worth it. Unfortunately, my companion doesn't like tomatoes, so I do not get to use them nearly as much as I would like. On the bright side though, that just means more tomatoes for me. I suppose this is the sort of thing I have to get used to seeing as my other companion doesn't like tomatoes either. That makes sharing more difficult, but like I said, more for me!

Also we had zone meeting last week and president came to ours. We were the only zone in the mission who got to see him. When we broke into groups for teaching practice, president ended up being in my group. It was so great to hear him teach the missionary lessons and learn from him. He knows the scriptures so well and no matter what my question is - in training, interviews, emails, or anything else - he always has the perfect scripture for it. It is great getting to learn from someone who knows the scriptures more than me. 

That reminds me of a funny tangential story. When we went over to president's house for breakfast, sister Andersen introduced me to her daughter with the comment, "When the apostles have a question about the scriptures, they call Elder Basham." It's nice hearing that compliment from her, because she loves and studies the scriptures more than anyone I know. However, I still have a very large amount to learn before such a statement could be even partially true. Anyway here are some pictures.

Anyway, I really loved reading this prayer in the book of Ether chapter 3. I added bold type to the parts that really stuck out to me. 

2 O Lord, thou hast said that we must be encompassed about by the floods. Now behold, O Lord, and do not be angry with thy servant because of his weakness before thee; for we know that thou art holy and dwellest in the heavens, and that we are unworthy before thee; because of the fall our natures have become evil continually; nevertheless, O Lord, thou hast given us a commandment that we must call upon thee, that from thee we may receive according to our desires.

3 Behold, O Lord, thou hast smitten us because of our iniquity, and hast driven us forth, and for these many years we have been in the wilderness; nevertheless, thou hast been merciful unto us. O Lord, look upon me in pity, and turn away thine anger from this thy people, and suffer not that they shall go forth across this raging deep in darkness; but behold these things which I have molten out of the rock.

4 And I know, O Lord, that thou hast all power, and can do whatsoever thou wilt for the benefit of man; therefore touch these stones, O Lord, with thy finger, and prepare them that they may shine forth in darkness; and they shall shine forth unto us in the vessels which we have prepared, that we may have light while we shall cross the sea.

5 Behold, O Lord, thou canst do this. We know that thou art able to show forth great power, which looks small unto the understanding of men.

I know the spirit is a much better teacher than I am so I won't try to explain everything that I learned here, but with your own prayer and study you can learn the same thing and probably even more than me. The thing I do want to say is that the hand of God is before us continually - blessing our lives and those all around us. However, the natural man cannot see this hand. The eye which is carnal and selfish will never be able to see the great power God is showing us. Even though that power looks small to the understanding of men, it is there. If we change ourselves through the atonement of Christ (Mosiah 3:19) then we will have our eyes opened to see the hand of God. If you remember the whole story of this prayer, you will remember that seeing the hand of God is not just a metaphor. 

Anyway I love you all and hope you have a beautiful week!