Blaine's Letter this Week:
The children's story, "The Empty Pot," by Demi tells of a boy named Ping who lived a long time ago in China. Ping---whose kingdom was a place where everyone loved flowers--could make anything he planted bloom.
In this wonderful kingdom, where the air smelled like perfume, the Emperor was growing old. He needed to choose a successor.
He issued a proclamation: All the children in the land were invited to the palace. The Emperor gave the children special flower seeds. "Whoever can show me their best in a year's time," he told them, "will succeed me to the throne."
Ping collected his seed and planted it in rich soil. Day after day passed but nothing grew in his pot. He transferred the seed to new soil and still nothing happened. After a year, Ping's pot was empty.
"Ping was ashamed of his empty pot. He thought the other children would laugh at him because for once he couldn't get a flower to grow."
But Ping's father offered tender advice: "You did your best, and your best is good enough to present to the Emperor."
The advice from Ping's father holds true for each of us, who seek each day to do our best and find success.
"In the world today we face difficulties and challenges, some of which can seem truly daunting,"
said President Thomas S. Monson during his April 2009 general conference address in the priesthood session. "However, with God on our side we cannot fail."
The Apostle Paul taught us how to be on the same side as God: "Whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things. Those things, which ye have both learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me, do: and the God of peace shall be with you" (Philippians 4:8-9).
President Ezra Taft Benson said the Lord wants each of His children to be successful--just as Ping's father wanted him to be successful. "I am sure the Lord wants each young man and woman in His Church to excel in his or her chosen field, whatever it may be, whether it be in the home, in business, in professions in teaching, medicine, dentistry, government or agriculture. I am sure it is pleasing to the Lord to see His sons and daughters who have taken upon themselves the covenants of membership in His Church to be more than just average. He wants them to succeed, to be outstanding. He will open the way before them if they will just live worthy of it"("The teachings of Ezra Taft Benson," p. 463).
As Ping found out, however, living worthy of the Lord's blessings is not always easy.
Louisa May Alcott, author of the classic "Little Women," wrote:
I do not ask for any crown
But that which all may win;
Nor try to conquer any world
Except the one within (www.goodreads.com/author/quotes/1315.Louisa_May_Alcott).
After spending a year tending a flower that did not bloom, Ping took his empty pot to the palace where the other children were waiting with beautiful flowers. The Emperor looked at the flowers and then asked Ping, "Why did you bring an empty pot?"
Ping began to cry.
"I planted the seed you gave me and I watered it every day, but it didn't sprout," he told the Emperor. "I put it in a better pot with better soil, but still it didn't sprout. I tended it all year long, but nothing grew. So today I had to bring an empty pot without a flower. It was the best I could do."
When the Emperor heard those words, he put his arm around Ping and exclaimed, "I have found
him. I have found the one person worthy of being Emperor."
Then the Emperor looked at the other children and told them that he had cooked the seeds. It was impossible for the seeds he gave them a year before to grow.
Despite his failure to grow a flower, Ping had been a success. He gave his best effort--and he did it with an honest heart.
"What is the point of fame and glory if, in the end, we can't look ourselves in the eye, knowing that we have been honest and true," said President Gordon B. Hinckley during Dixie State College Commencement on May 6, 2007.
President Monson said when we "literally fill our minds with truth, fill our lives with service and fill our hearts with love, we may qualify to hear on day that statement of our Savior, 'Well done, thou good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of the Lord' (Matthew 25:21). My prayer is that we may so conduct ourselves that we may merit that plaudit from our Lord and Savior" ("Formula for Success," First Presidency Message, Ensign, March 1996).
There are many ways to succeed, taught President Spencer W. Kimball. "A few reach the pinnacle of professional or social or financial success through devious, even evil means," he said. "Others may be more virtuous, but still show a lack of sensitivity to loved ones, friends and colleagues as they climb to the top. Those who combine honor, integrity, devotion and sensitivity to family and friends are rare indeed" ("Teachings of Spencer W. Kimball," p.355).
It was that kind of rare person the Emperor was seeking in one to lead the kingdom.
"I admire Ping's great courage to appear before me with the empty truth," he said. "Now I reward him with my entire kingdom and make him Emperor of all the Land" ("The Empty Pot," Demi, published by Henry Holt and Company, Inc., 1990).
Dallin, I loved this message on the back page of this week's Church News. It was titled "An Honest Effort."
I read this to our family last night before we went to bed. I shared with them what this story meant to me and how our lives will ultimately face these kinds of tests. I asked my young sons to do their best remembering this message and hope they too will make decisions based upon this principle.
I am sure serving a mission gives you great pressure to preach the gospel and baptize. This is a mark of success. Especially as you get into leadership roles on your mission. Pressure to be an outstanding missionary among your fellow missionaries could bring this sort of thing. I felt this story today would help you understand better how our Father in Heaven feels about success and giving our best with an honest heart. This has to be the ultimate principle in all aspects.
So Dallin, remember we all love you. Remember this principle as you move forward on your mission. I know you haven't baptized in a while and your companion must be very anxious to see success, but it might be this principle that will bring you both peace and understanding. Those people in Sweden are some of the most difficult people to reach for various reasons. The core principle shared here, I'm sure, are the things the Lord must be wanting his missionaries to learn in places like Sweden. Please don't give up, but try and open your understanding. I am sure it is this that the Lord is trying to teach you.
Those who combine honor, integrity, devotion and sensitivity to family and friends are rare indeed" ("Teachings of Spencer W. Kimball," p.355).
We all want to know that we have been honest in heart in the end.
I love you Elder Milne,
Take care and God Bless,
Daddy B. G. Milne
(Blaine's letter was sent this morning after we read Dallin's email, so Dallin does not respond to these wonderful words of wisdom in his letter home today.)
My Letter this Week:
There are two kinds of pain in life - the pain that comes from hard work and the pain that comes from regret. Choose your pain!
Remember each day you wake up you also choose whose jersey you will put on! Choose to be on the winning team!
"When we literally fill our minds with truth, fill our lives with service, and fill our hearts with love, we may qualify to hear one day that statement of our Savior, "Well done, thou good and faithful servant: thou has been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou in to the joy of thy Lord." - President Monson
Wow, another week has come and gone just like that! You sounded really good in your last email. I hope this one finds you even happier! How are you, and how did your week turn out? I am always so excited to get your email. Have a fun p-day. By the way, Monday the 22nd is Grandma Susan's birthday. Send her a quick email if you have time. We drove to Minersville today to spend the day with Grandma, Raymond, and the Morgensen's. We made Mexican food for dinner and then we went to the Ogden Temple dedication that was broadcast in three different sessions today. We went to the 4:00 pm in Milford because Raymond, being on the High Council, had to be an usher there. It was a beautiful drive and the dedication was incredible. The new Ogden temple is so beautiful. Elder Oaks and Elder Ballard were the two main speakers. It was a wonderful day. Grandma sent us home with two huge watermelons from their garden, along with some tomatoes, squash, peppers, and tomatoes. They have a beautiful garden this year. They even grew a 32 pound watermelon. The Morgensen's are doing well. Uncle Randy has been hired by UPS so he is really excited about that.
Friday was Ty's birthday. He took about 10 friends to play laser tag and then dad and I took them to the St. George Pizza factory for dinner. After that I dropped dad and the boys off at Dixie High School for the football game while I went home and made homemade brownies and cleaned the house. I then went back to the football game and met up with dad at the fourth quarter. Pine View managed to beat Dixie 42-36. Kody Wilstead had 501 passing yards and is currently leading the nation in passing yards. Pine Views defense struggles however. The big game will be this week against Desert Hills. Desert Hills is currently undefeated. After the game, Ty and all his buddies came over for brownies and ice cream. Earlier in the week, the young men and young women from our ward went roller skating up at the Veyo roller skating rink. Carter, Ty and I had a great time. Ty was down on the floor more than anyone else. Every time I turned around he was wiping out. Luckily no broken bones. I haven't been on skates for years, and it was my first time on rollerblades. I did okay because it was a lot like ice skating and I love to ice skate. This weekend I spent most of my time preparing for a presentation I have to give in my Fathering class on Monday morning. School is going to be a beast this week - tests, presentations, and research papers. I will be going up to the BYU campus on October 3rd to visit with some of the professors and students in the Marriage and Family Therapy department. I am excited about that. I am not excited, however, to take the GRE in November. I have been preparing for that and it is making feel old and outdated. I haven't had math since high school. I can remember a lot of algebra, but the geometry is something I am going to have to really work on - UGH! I also need to brush up on some vocabulary. It ought to be interesting.
General Conference is coming up. I always look forward to this time of year. It sounds like you enjoyed your time with Elder Bednar. We are so blessed to have prophets and apostles to lead and guide us in this ever- increasing wicked and crazy world. Today in Elder Oaks' talk he really emphasized the peril we as members of the church will face as the world continues to increase in wickedness. Our testimonies will really be tried, but if we remain faithful we will be blesses and protected from the onslaught of evil that is so pervasive. It breaks my heart to see so many of our loved ones choosing the ways of the world over the blessings that living the gospel brings. Heavenly Father loves all of His children and desires their happiness, but I promise you that true happiness comes from keeping the commandments. The Lord can only bless us according to the law upon which each blessing is predicated. Obedience = happiness and blessings.
Well Dallin, I hope you are hanging in there. I know missions can be difficult, and there will even be times you feel like giving up and giving in, but know that we are here praying for you everyday, and that our Heavenly Father loves you and desires to bestow His choicest blessings upon you. Choose your pain and choose it wisely! I love you so much. Keep up the great work!
Dallin's Weekly Email:
Dear Milne Fam,
tjena tjena hur är läget?
Once again mom you came through with the inspirational quotes today. I like the one about pain though the most I think, where did you get it? It kind of makes me depressed because it makes it seem like no matter what you do you'll have pain ha but I get the point. It made me think of what dad used to tell me all the time "make sure you enjoy being a kid and a missionary because as soon as you get back you'll go to work for the rest of your life" haha. As I think about it, I realize how nice it is to be a missionary, 2 years of not having to worry about anything except for other people. Don't have to worry about school, work, money, girls, or whatever. Not too bad. Just got to make sure that I get three meals a day and a shower in.
Sounds like everyone had a good week. Thanks awesome that ya'll were able to make it to the temple dedication and that my man Elder Oaks spoke. And please don't talk about the mexican food that you guys eat. There is nothing else that I miss more than american mexican food haha (and you guys of course). Like people make tacos here and its good and all but nothing like back home. I would kill for a sweet pork burrito. And that is exciting about Ty's birthday, haha he had me for a second with the whole 5'9 thing. But sounds like everyone had fun and that is funny about the roller blading. It sure does seem like you got your hands full mom with school and all. Best of luck on the test. I am pretty sure that I am going to need to go back to the 4th grade for math when I get home. I don't see how I will be able to pick up where I left off, its hard enough for me now to divide up the grocery food cost between us four in the apartment every monday. That will be fun with BYU though. Interesting that the regents scholarship can go towards byu now. who knows maybe I'll end up there? But I feel pretty positive that I'll begin close to home at Dixie or SUU right now.
As for my side of things, we had a pretty average week. The highlight is that we continued to have success in finding new investigators to begin teaching. So now we are focusing on getting all these new people that we have taught 1 or 2 times to start progressing by getting their butts in church. But we are having a good time with Elder Van Alfen, he is still keeping me in line which is good haha. We are getting better at teaching in unity together and I am proud of all the progress that he has made. We are starting to teach some younger people now too which has made me and the whole branch excited because there are so many more "life experienced" people in the branch compared to the younger people. So hópefully some good will come out of that. But we just keep on keeping on. The only thing that I would say I am struggling with is all the disappointment that comes with things not going the way you think they should with the people that you love. Training has really helped me give it everything that I got everyday and I am always focused on how we can teach more and find more people and how we can help them progress towards baptism but things happen of course that I can control and its been really frustrating. I have always been a perfectionist growing up which is good to a certain extent but it can also be not so good at times. So I am learning to work with that. But on the positive side, I have learned to work not necessarily because of the praise that I will get from peers because of my successes but because I love the Lord and what to do my best for him. If he chooses to bless me with all kinds of success or not it doesn't matter, He has already done so much for me anyways.
Elder Bednar also said something similar to what Oaks said to ya'll about the hard times that will start to come from being a faithful member of the church in today's world. He talked about how there is no more grey area anymore kind of like you are either with us or against us type thing. Pretty intense but it is the truth. It's going to be interesting to see how it goes. But like you put in your email we can all choose to be on the winning team every day by putting on the Lord's jersey.
So put it on and wear it proudly!
I love and miss you all
-Äldste Dallin B. Milne
2621 - Stadshuset in Västerås
2617 - Downtown Västerås
2601 - Selfie with one of the old bros in the branch
2596 - Van Alfen with his long tie and me with my long arms
This Week's Pictures:
I Love Sweden!
Stadshuset in Västerås
Selfie with one of the old bros in the branch
Van Alfen with his long tie and me with my long arms
Ty blowing out 14 candles for his 14th birthday!
He requested homemade brownies
Ty and some of his birthday buddies!