Friday, October 25, 2013

Callings extended: 3rd Week in MTC

(Jacob Squire and Elder Bishop) Sporting KC--6-12-2013---Hunter left his camera battery at home and we JUST discovered it! MAYBE he will get to take a few shots in the MTC!

This past week in District 4-D, we had four out of eight of our Elders receive a calling. Elder Anderson and Elder Benitez, the Elders that occupy the same residence as Elder Garcia and I, are the new Zone Leaders. They have both stepped up to the calling with a reverence and respect proper for such a call, and because of that they have been very effective in strengthening the zone.

The other two Elders who received a calling are Elder Garcia and I. We were called to be Sacrament Coordinators for our zone's ward, which is kind of ironic, since both of us are terrible at organization, and now our calling requires good organization skills. The Lord works in mysterious ways!

There isn't much else to report. The language is coming along very well, and teaching is becoming more and more second nature. My ankle is doing a lot better, and within the next few weeks I'm sure it will be completely healed. Not too much has happened this week, besides the callings, but I'm sure next week I'll be able to find some crazy funny or really awesome story to share with everyone. Sorry I have to cut this week's message so short. Chow chow (bye bye)!

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Elder Bishop Farewell Talk

Hunter Bishop
2013 Farewell Talk: Agency
This being my last talk before I learn the true meaning of hard work, dedication, and rejection as I serve in Brazil, I would like to thank my ward, all of you, for the service and love you haveshown me. I would also like to thank my Bishop, Bishop Staggs, and my Stake President, President Pridayfor their leadership, and for their support in my decision to serve a mission. I would like to thank the missionaries, for the opportunities they have given me to gain a little experience before leaving, and I would like to thank all my friends who came to see me speak. You’ve all been wonderful influences in my life. Lastly, I would like to thank my parents, and, you know, the rest of my family too.Reflecting on how the strength of the gospel in my family influenced me to make a commitment to a mission, I realized that without my parents raising me in the gospel, I would have never had the resolve to make such a decisionChoices such as this can be hard, but when a choice matches that of our God, joy and happiness can be expected. That’s actually what I’m going to talk about today; exercising our agency, or our power to choose, as an advocate of Christ.
Now, in our country, good ole’ America, independence is kind of a big thing, right? We love it! There’s a day dedicated to it. Men and women who use their freedom to make their own choices independently of others are praised and cheered by the populace, and while independence remains a good thing, many fail to realize that one can still be free while remaining in a state of dependence. I make my own decisions, but I still depend on my parents for support and guidance. The highest form of this is dependence on our Father in Heaven. When we put our faith in God, and are willing to make the choices that are asked of us by Him, we will experience more freedom than those that make choices on their own. If we do not depend on God, we may find ourselves tied down by bad decisions, limiting our freedom to choose good or evil. I testify that choosing to depend on God is the right path to follow, but it’s also not as easy as it sounds. Fortunately, we have help. Now remember that, keep it in your mind, because I’m going to tell a story.
Recently I saw a movie called The Way, Way Back. Don’t worry, if you haven’t seen it, this won’t ruin anything for you. Sort of. In the movie, the main character, Duncan, is dragged to a vacation home for the summer with his mom, his mom’s boyfriend, and the boyfriend’s daughter. When they arrive, the boyfriend introduces everyone to some of his old friends. At the vacation home, the adults act like irresponsible teenagers, making terrible decisions left and right. Amidst all their destructive tendencies, Duncan, who is sort of a loser, starts to sneak out of the house during the day, making the active decision to avoid evil, and instead begins to make something of himself. He gets a job working at a waterpark, and works himself into the hearts of the crew working there. Duncan, exercising his agency, chose to escape the troubles of sin and instead sought to do good things. However, Duncan did not do all of this alone. One man made the choice to help him down a healthier path. One man decided to help a lost child on his way. As we struggle in our life, we will also have someone there to help us make the right decisions. Our man is Christ.
In the Book of Mormon, Lehi depended on Christ. Elder Robert D. Hales spoke on this. (Quote) “Father Lehi, the first prophet recorded in the Book of Mormon, also chose to follow the Lord. He was instructed to “take his family and depart into the wilderness.” Despite harsh traveling conditions and the murmuring of his sons Laman and LemuelLehi led his family to a land of promise.” Because Lehi righteously exercised his agency by following the Lord’s commandments, he was given all that was promised. The Lord will never back down on a promise, and if we make the decision to put our trust in Him, we can expect blessings.
Another important principle of agency is the knowledge that righteous agency is extremely difficult to follow if one is ignorant of the truth. In the Book of Mormon, we find an example of this too, in King Lamoni’s father . Having been liedto his whole life, because of the wickedness of his fathers, KingLamoni’s father seeks to kill Ammon, the Nephite missionary, believing him to be a liar and a thief, and fails. With his life in Ammon’s hands, King Lamoni’s father offers the Nephite half of his kingdom, but when Ammon spares his life for only the freedom of his brothers, and for the religious freedom of KingLamoni, this man is struck with the truth, and desires to know more. In fact, once he has learned the truth, King Lamoni lateroffers to give up all his sins, and all that he owns, to know God.As I understand it, I will see this principle in play while on my mission. As I teach what I know to be true, I hope to see those that I teach use their agency like King Lamoni’s father, desiring to come unto Christ.

Friday, October 18, 2013

2nd week in MTC: sprained ankle

Celestial Floors of MTC:

Before I continue on to the awesome of this last week, I'd like to share a little story. District 4-D resides on, and also is taught on, the "Celestial" floors of their buildings, meaning both their classroom and their residences are on the very top floors. This means that District 4-D has to work the hardest to reach their destination; they have to climb many flights of stairs. But they will be blessed with strength, being able to run and not be weary, to walk and not be faint, to develop calves even as mighty as the mountains that surround them. Truly it is a blessing that District 4-D is so privileged. District 4-D, when on the "Celestial" floor, is also privileged to have the greatest teacher, so they often make haste to be at class on time. But sometimes when they try to ascend too fast they may stumble, losing some of their blessings, because of hastiness. Plus, that can also lead to a sprained ankle. Yes, I sprained my ankle on the stinking MTC stairs. I just wanted it to sound less lame. Hence the whole metaphor with the Celestial Kingdom.


Healing Power of Prayer:

On to the awesome! This week, before the sprain (which is minor by the way, no worries), I was feeling quite sick. I had a splitting headache, and I couldn't eat because I felt nauseous. In the middle of the day, I decided to pray for health. As I was praying, my headache started to ebb, and my stomach started to calm. I felt much better, and I thanked my God for this tiny miracle. What I found most amazing though, was that I could still feel the sickness. It was still there, but it was being heavily suppressed, as if some force were holding it back. I didn't feel pain from it, but I felt a pressure lingering from the sickness. I know that I felt this way because my Heavenly Father needed me to realize that I must always remember His hand in all things. I believe I received this odd miracle as a reminder to always thank Him.

An Apostle Visits:

Elder Dallin H. Oaks and his wife came to speak to the MTC last Tuesday for a devotional. What an inspired man! As he got up to the pulpit to speak, I was struck with a very real impression that this man was called of God. I had never noticed it before, but when one of God's Apostles gets up to speak, if you really pay attention, you can feel the power emanating from the keys they hold, and from the Priesthood that they worthily exercise.

Elder Oaks gave a very structured talk on the three distinguishing principles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, namely that we have the fullness of the gospel, the power of the priesthood, and a unique testimony of Jesus Christ. This part of the talk, because it spoke of the joy of the restored gospel, really was a good reminder of why missionary work is so important, especially in these latter days. Elder Oaks also counseled the missionaries in the work, advising them not to look down on other churches, but to embrace the small truths one could find in all of them, and using those to connect with those of other faiths. His message overall focused on looking for the good in all things, and sharing the joy of our own knowledge. I'm excited to exercise his advice in the field! 

Friday, October 11, 2013

Elder Bishop Arrives: FIRST WEEK IN MTC


Yes, my P-day is on Friday, as you now know. The first week here was pretty tough, and extremely humbling too. I've always felt comfortable in my knowledge of the gospel, and of my ability to share it with others, but doing it in a whole different language never struck me until now. I've prayed for the gift of tongues every day! What amazes me the most is that I have begun to see a definite difference in my ability to speak and understand the language, especially when my companion, Elder Garcia, and I teach an "investigator" (they have RMs act as investigators for the missionaries to get a little practice). Our lessons have gone amazingly smooth, considering how inexperienced both of us are with the language. When we take the time to pray, asking God to bless us with the Spirit and the gift of tongues, there is an amazing increase in our comprehension of what we need to teach, and how we need to go about it in our language.

Grade A District:

Now, about my Grade A district. Everyone in my district has very strong ties to the gospel, and we've all learned so much since coming here. The best quality of my district is their good-natured humor. Everyone is so funny! It's been a hard week for us though; one of our Elders, Elder Clark, made the tough decision to go home, so he could work some things out in his life. He is a very good man, and as soon as he got home, he wrote a personal email to everyone in the district, promising each of us that he would re-apply a year from now, with a clean slate, ready to serve. I extremely admire his courage to make this decision. From his experience, among other stories I've heard in the MTC, it's very easy to see how the adversary is trying to slow the work effort, but I do not believe for a minute that all the elders here will not try their best to fight against the threat. God will provide.

The Elders I live with are great! Elder Anderson, from Ohio, is a spiritual giant, and a natural leader. All the elders in our district, including our District Leader, Elder Holmes, will stop to listen to his advice. He has a funny passion for Lego's, because he plans on becoming an architect. He's learned how to build sound structures in Architecture School, but I believe he also builds sound inspiration in the other Elders. He also strangely reminds me of Uncle Jeff. He definitely has his humor, and he laughs the exact same way.

Elder Benitez, from Virginia, is a real fighter, and he has a great desire for knowledge. He must have every important scripture memorized known to the missionaries! He also had some extremely hard trials to go through early in life, and he came through them all the better. He knows how to deal with hard things. Finally, my companion, Elder Garcia, from Pennsylvania, has a profound understanding of the gospel and a unique willingness to serve, because he is the first missionary in his family. His parents converted to the Church before he was born, and raised him in righteousness. He often has very helpful insights on questions that the missionaries have, and he likes to couple that with his hilarious quick wit. Every joke he cracks is so smooth and quick. He has real bazofia (swagger). He is also fluent in Spanish, which is really helping him pick up Portuguese.

Conference was great! It was also the first conference where I was able to stay awake the whole time. My favorite talk was Elder Dubee's talk, not just cause of his awesome accent, but because his message really hit home with me. I often revel a bit too much in my own accomplishments, and his talk about "Not Looking Back" really helped answer one of the questions I had, about how I could attain humility in my mission. I know that if I focus on the work ahead, instead of getting caught up in how many people I baptize (and once you think about it, the people I baptize will not make that decision for me, but for Christ), Heavenly Father will bless me with strength and courage to continue in His work.
My time is about up. I look forward to sharing my experiences in the time to come with all my family and friends. Chow (bye) and boa sorte (good luck)!