Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Wealth & Losing Your Life

We had a wonderful Stake Conference on April 27th. Our Stake Presidency was reorganized, so we had two visiting authorities, Elder Stephen Allen and Elder Robert Gay.

First Elder Allen spoke to us about the Law of the Fast ~ how it is the Lord's law for helping care for the poor and needy. Fasting is a consecration of our means and our heart. Our offering should be a generous free will offering. Then he gave "a word of warning to this affluent stake:"

Then he quoted part of and recommended the book by Elder Richard G. Scott called "Finding Peace, Happiness, and Joy" (...and these notes might be Elder Allen quoting from the book, but this is what I wrote that he shared):
  • We need to ask to be guided by the Spirit and to do God's will.
  • Much of life's disappointments from from looking beyond the mark
  • Wealth and things cannot produce happiness.
  • Sometimes wealth gets in the way of our pursuit of greater and nobler goals.
  • Our things are just tools - am I wisely using the tools that I already have!?
  • 2 Nephi 12:7-8
  • Be faithful, be generous, seek our the poor and help them privately.
  • Use these tools for the Lord's purposes.
Then, building on that note, Elder Gay gave us instruction~ my notes will be by bullet points the rest will be me sharing what I remember him sharing...
  • You talk about growing up in prosperity... I grew up in wealth...
He shared how as a child, he had anything and everything he wanted. Tickets to see the Beatles? He could get it, and get the best seats. He shared a few things about his life as a kid and then again as a successful business man who even had his own jet. Then he said also knew what it was like to be poor - his dad thought it would be good for them to pay for college themselves, so he did, and he was broke. One time they went up fishing at Deer Creek reservoir for dinner, cause it was less expensive to pay for the gas to go fish that it would cost to go to the store to buy food. He worked his way through school, and the kids kept coming, they had 5 kids when he was in school and every Sunday after paying their tithing, there was no money left for food, so they'd eat the canned food in the pantry, and they had 5 kids to feed! I could sympathize... 
  • I never tell anyone this... and I don't know why I'm sharing this today, I'm going to be kicking myself later... because it's not important, our money doesn't define us...
He was called to be a mission president in Africa, and as they went in to talk to Elder Ballard, Elder Gay said he hesitated... they had a ton of things going on... there was his business plus a foundation with all these orphans that needed their attention... but Elder Gay's wife was excited and willing, and Elder Ballard said to her "Sister Gay, you are going to make a GREAT mission president's wife...." then turning to Elder Gay he said "...You just don't get it! There will never be a convenient time to go. But the Lord is calling you to save your life..." So, exercising faith, they accepted the calling and left for Africa. 

Some time later, PBS was doing a special about the Church's missionaries and Elder Holland called up his friend Bobby (aka Elder Gay, they knew each other when they were younger and Elder Holland always called him Bobby...) "Bobby! I told them to call you and I want you to just say it how it is, tell them the absolute truth, hold nothing back..." So, as he's serving in Africa, he does an hour long interview with some lady over the phone, then at the end of the interview she gets to the question she's been building up to the whole time and asks... "Have you had any regrets about going on a mission?" and he found himself saying without hesitation "Yes." and she said "Great! We're going to come down and do a 5 hour interview with you." and as he hung up he thought "Oh great! I can see the headlines now! 'Mormon mission president regrets serving mission!'" And after they came down and they did more of their interview, they followed up on the question. He said "I have regretted coming. But it only lasted for one day, and I haven't regretted it since." And then he told them about that one day...

He then told us about a day in his mission. You never known what flying is like until you've flown on air Nigeria. They give bribes to the mechanics to not fix the plane so that smaller planes can have the business. As mission president, he was visiting the missionaries in a part of his mission, he had to fly out into the middle of nowhere, then they got on a road for 2 hours, a road which was the worst road in the world... You hear of potholes? Well this road didn't have potholes, it had caves. And they would sometimes slowdown to go down and up the caves, and then sometimes they would just gun it and go flying from cave to cave. And the only people driving on it are Mormon missionaries and UN Peace keepers. (funny)

As he was driving on this road in the middle of nowhere, his personal cell phone rings. And he's thinking "How in the world am getting any reception down here?!?" It's a business partner who took over his job when he left to serve. He was calling him from his old office in London. "Hey Bob! I'm in your office... this is a really nice office by the way! I just wanted to let you know we closed another round of funding" and told him it was the biggest round their company had ever had. Elder Gay asks "How big is it?" and he also knows that this round was closed on the end tails of all the work he had been doing for the past 5 years. "How big is it?" he asks, and when the guy tells him, Elder Gay was able to calculate in nano seconds what his bonus percentage would have been had he stayed and had he not sold his shares and had he not served a mission. And it was HUGE. It was so huge, it was so much money it would have made Michael Jordan's contract blush. He new in nano seconds that he'd just lost a ton of money, and here he was on the middle of a god forsaken road in the middle of nowhere. And he was feeling very sorry for himself. And he didn't talk to anyone for the next 2 hours. And he thought "Couldn't the Lord have just waited for 3 years? Surely he could have used all that money, I could have used it to help people..." 

So he's feeling sorry for himself, and the missionaries in the car with him (the APs) aren't talking to him cause they can tell he's upset, and then they had a bad hit one of the "caves" in the road and their car rolls three times, the roof and sides are banged in, the windows are all shattered, and it stops on it's side - he's got the missionaries lying on top of him. They are all quiet for a minute and he thinks everyone is dead, but then they come to and everyone is okay, they kick their way out of the car and get out and the people from the local village all come running and wailing cause they think they're dead. They try to get them to be quiet and calm down, they are not dead, but then he discovers he's all covered in blood. And he's got a HUGE gash in his forearm. And he's thinking "Great, now I'm going to die. Now I'm going to die or lose my arm cause I hurt and we are no where near civilization or a hospital!!!!" They get the villagers to be quiet and they wait for some car to pass to pick them up. As luck would have it, just 15 minutes later a truck comes and they stand arm to arm across the road and don't let them pass without picking them up. They are taken to the closest village and there is a small medical clinic there. It's got one dinky table, a single light bulb hanging from a little electric cord from the ceiling, and he doesn't think he's gonna get any help there. And he's right. The little doctor looks at his arm and says it's so bad he can't help him. Elder Gay's thinking "Yup, I'm gonna die. This is the worst day of my life." And then the doctor says "I can clean out the dirt and the infection..." Sure, that would be good. So the doctor notices his missionary badge and asks him if he's from the church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. "Yes, I am." "I would like to tell you a story about members of your church, perhaps you would be interested?" "Sure, whatever, Fine..." (Elder Gay still not in a good mood...) and the doctor says "If you would have been here a year ago, I would not be able to help you at all. But a year ago, members of your church came and gave us all this..." as he points to the medicine and supplies he has on the shelves, and right at that moment, clear as day, Elder Gay heard these words
  • "Your live has been saved today because someone, who you will never know, went out into the bush of Sierra Leone... and gave service. 
  • Everything we have is Gods. 
  • There is never a convenient time to serve. But the Lord is calling you to save your life. 
  • Save your life, and lose it. Lose your life to save it.
  • Never get to comfortable with what you have and where you sit, cause the Lord needs you.
Lastly he shared that when he was 18 years old, he was living in New York and his dad had him pick up Elder Howard W. Hunter from the airport, who was then an apostle, not that Elder Gay knew much about that. So he picked him up in a limo, and Elder Hunter got in the front cab in shotgun and grilled him, gave Elder Gay his first PPI "Tell me about your friends? Are you going on a mission? Do you read your scriptures?" And they had a nice visit and he counseled him to "Do it the Lord's Way". After they got to where they were going, he told him that if he was ever in Salt Lake, to come by and see him at his office. So after his mission when he was a young college kid at the U of U, he went down to the church office building a couple of times, just in his t-shirt and jeans, and said "Hi, I"m here to see Elder Hunter." Do you have an appointment? "Uh, no..." They call up to his office, and both times Elder Hunter was there, and invited him up. He got an update on what was going on in young Elder Gay's life, his family, school, church, kids... his advice to him then was "Do it the Lord's way." So Elder Gay made a commitment to himself to not study on Sundays. And when he got to Harvard, that was a huge trial of faith, cause all the exams there are given on Mondays. But he was committed to do it the Lord's way. They started their family, even though they were broke and busy with school. "Do it the Lord's way..."
  • Do it the Lord's way, cause the blessings will be unlimited.
  • Do it the Lord's way, because you will never be forsaken and your life will be saved in the bush.
  • Don't settle for less.
  • This is Christ's church, this is His gospel. 
  • There's nothing that the world has to offer than can even compare.
  • By not saving our lives, but by giving our lives.
So that's that! Isn't that GREAT!?!?! Corey and I were both moved and inspired and touched by it all, (Corey was crying, which always makes me cry) ~ I kept looking over at Corey and my heart was filled with happiness for this wonderful life we have together. It seemed like so much Elder Gay shared is our same story ~ of going forward in faith, trying to do it the Lord's way, having kids while he's struggling through school, being broke and not knowing where the money might come from... crazy adventures in foreign lands... It all hit home, ...except for the insane wealth part. But we're getting ready for God to smite us with that curse when he goes down to Brazil for his businesses big launch this year. Over these past 7 years Corey has told me often that "someday... this business will make you a very happy woman...". We'll see... 
Perchik: Money is the world's curse!
Tevye: May the Lord smite me with it. And may I never recover!
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