Friday, August 10, 2012

Willing and Worthy to Serve

This entry is part of my general conference application series.

Willing and Worthy to Serve, by Thomas S. Monson
President, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

When I was in elementary or middle school, I decided that I would buy a Game Boy. I found a tin that would serve as a purposed bank, decorated it with cut-out pictures from weekly ads, and looked for work around the house to earn money.

My first experiences with financial goals involved Nintendo game systems, and I was committed. The sale price of $89.99 was a lot to an eleven-yr-old me, but I did whatever I could to get what I wanted. While I don't remember how long it took, or all the work that I did to earn the money, I did ultimately save enough to buy what I wanted: an 8-bit, grayscale, handheld video game system that came with Tetris! (I still remember the background songs you could choose on that spellbinding Russian-based puzzle game.)

As I write this, I realize that around the time I was focusing so much on a game, reality was coming fast. I was almost twelve years old; about to receive the priesthood. It's sad that I can't remember my priesthood preparations as well as I remember my first experiences with video game bliss.

When I was older, I saved for and purchased a Super NES (16-bit, color, TV-linked system) and spent hours learning to drive by playing Super Mario Kart. It's a shame real-world driving doesn't involve shell-missiles, invincibility-stars, and banana peels.

The Super NES was really my last intensive experience with gaming systems (did I just hear my wife shout "hooray!"?), and I used to have it stored somewhere (perhaps one of my brothers "inherited" it without my consent years ago), but I don't really do video games any more. However, I have heard of a series of games (a video game franchise, really) called Call of Duty. These first-person shooters were originally set in World War II, but subsequent games take place in more modern wars.

Why am I talking about video games, including games I've never played? Here's why: The phrase "call of duty" is mentioned at least four times in this talk. When I read this phrase, I would think of World War II and then focus my thoughts back on President Monson's message.

Imagine my surprise when he shared a story from World War II, as recounted by a non-LDS correspondent who witnessed a priesthood holder doing double call of duty in a bloody scene on the Marshall Islands. A wounded marine was floating face-down in the water when another wounded soldier came to his aid. After calling out for help and being told there was nothing to be done, President Monson, including quotes from the correspondent tells, what happened next:

Then, wrote the correspondent, "I saw something that I had never seen before." This boy, badly wounded himself, made his way to the shore with the seemingly lifeless body of his fellow marine. He "put the head of his companion on his knee. . . . What a picture that was—these two mortally wounded boys—both . . . clean, wonderful-looking young men, even in their distressing situation. And the one boy bowed his head over the other and said, 'I command you, in the name of Jesus Christ and by the power of the priesthood, to remain alive until I can get medical help.'" The correspondent concluded his article: "The three of us [the two marines and I] are here in the hospital. The doctors don’t know [how they made it alive], but I know."

War stories don't usually excite me, but this one did. The final three words, but I know, even gave me the chills.

While I haven't been given a military call of duty, I feel the weight of my priesthood call of duty:

The priesthood is not so much a gift as it is a commission to serve, a privilege to lift, and an opportunity to bless the lives of others.

I used to save my money and help around the house in hopes of buying video game systems. My focus has changed so that now I work and help around the house in hopes of lifting and blessing the lives of my family and others.

While I don't play video games any more, writing this blog post makes me miss my old Game Boy and Super NES. I wonder if my priesthood call of duty to my family could include helping my children appreciate the classics of Tetris and Super Mario Kart. After all, it's important to know how to drive among shell-missiles, invincibility-stars, and banana peels! Even if you never see them on the roadway.

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