Thursday, December 30, 2010

A Goal in the Hole

I have really enjoyed the Christmas Holidays!  As a missionary I feel it has been an exceptionally blessed time for me as everything has seemed so much more simplified.  I have not had to worry about getting gifts or decorations or any of the usual things which come with the season.  But I feel it has been a very blessed time for all of us here to experience a little more what the real meaning of the Christmas Season is.  It has led me to ponder a little more about the future, it seems this Christmas season I have gotten a lot of warnings about preparing for the future, and establishing a sure foundation on Jesus Christ as the scriptures teach us.  Even the board game my parents got for us to play here seems to teach this principle.

The game is called “Feast and Famine.”  It is basically playing out part of the story from Joseph and the Old Testament.  The first part of the game players are trying to collect pieces and tokens during a time of plenty to prepare for the impending famine.  The next half, players try and use the preparation they have done to save the house of Israel.  As is logical, the person who has acquired the most in the first round is able to be most successful in the second round, it is about preparing and planning ahead.  While the game is quick and fun, it has led me to think about how we can establish a sure foundation for the hard times in our lives. 

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Filling our Sails With Faith to Ride Through Stormy Seas

Believe it or not, this fearsome pirate ship on the side is something which I actually colored myself!  I actually started coloring it first . . . and then had the idea for this blog post.  I have learned being here as a missionary there needs to be balance in everything we do.  As we work, we need time with healthy recreation and sleep to revitalize ourselves, so we can again work with a renewed focus and determination.  So, to help balance the work we do, I have followed Elder Moxley’s example and I have done a little coloring.  The pirate ship in its own right represents a juxtaposition of ideals.  There is the idea of pirates, representing fear and terror juxtaposed with the Christmas spirit of hope and faith shown in the sails.  Faith and fear create a balance of opposition as two forces which work against each other.  It is on the roles of fear and faith in our lives which I wish to address my remarks today.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

The Digital Story of the Nativity

I found these videos that some people had posted on their facebook.  I thought it was a fit well with the online work we do here and with the Christmas season.  I love the message at the end, the means of communication we have today is certainly much different then that of the past, but the message is still the same.  Whether being taught in a living room or in a chat room the gospel is still the same and has the power to change lives.  I am grateful for this Christmas season, and the opportunity we have to remember Jesus Christ.  It is because of Him we are here as missionaries.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

The Good, The Bad, and Elder Ahlstrom

Recently it seems people have been asking me a lot on the chat about whether or not we really have agency, or free will.  The questions usually go something like, if God knows everything, and God created us, how could we possibly choose our future?  Or if God knows every action we are going to make, does that mean we have no choice to go against it?  At the surface, these questions can seem a little perplexing, but a deeper look helps us to see the freedom we really do have.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Caution: Learned Men Deceiving, and Blind Man Running!

One of the unique aspects of serving as a missionary online is the vast amount of anti-Mormon material we are exposed to.  Much of it I was not familiar with before I came here to be a missionary.  I have not done a lot of research myself on many of the things I have been exposed to.  I have never learned Hebrew, I have not done an in depth study of ancient civilizations, and I have never visited the Holy Land to see Jerusalem and see where Christ was born.  I do not need to rely on any shroud, any ruins, or any physical evidence to know God is real, and to know He cares for me.  Neither do I believe those things can let us know God loves us.  They may help, but they are not the answer.  I do know the Bible and the Book of Mormon are true.  As I read through many of the anti-Mormon criticisms I often think of this verse from the Book of Mormon;

Monday, November 22, 2010

When Looking for God in our Lives, Hindsight is 20/20.

For most people the Holidays are a time of happiness and joy.  Despite the lack of sunshine, the cold weather, and the other stresses which come with the Season, it is a time of warmth, giving, and love.  On the left is a picture out of the front door of my families home in Colorado last winter.  It is no coincidence that to start the Christmas season we have Thanksgiving.  I have often heard testimony of others; as well in my own life how when we take time to count our blessings we are able to see how much the Lord has blessed us in our lives.  I remember our Branch President shared a curious verse which illustrated this point in one of our meetings.  This comes from the Old Testament with the Lord talking with Moses in the Tabernacle.

Exodus 33: 23 “And I will take away mine hand, and thou shalt see my back parts: but my face shall not be seen.”

Friday, November 19, 2010

Family Pets, Falling Rocks, a Few of my Favorite Things

Following Elder Howden’s example, I have also decided to write a few of my thoughts on some things I am grateful for with Thanksgiving coming up so soon.  I tried looking around the room we are in for inspiration (my desk is in the bottom right of the picture) but all I could really think about was how much I wanted to get out.  I figured the wisest thing would be to go with what I had been given.  Today, I am grateful for Nature and the many wonderful creations we have.  Plants and scenery are nice, but they don’t really do too much for me.  They just kind of sit there.  But, what I am most grateful for is the interactions we find in nature.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Cancer Relapse Engraved in Gold

From my experiences in High School Chemistry I seem to remember that gold is one of the more pure and stable metals, in that it did not easily mix with the materials around it.   It is used in wedding rings, dentistry, all manner of jewelry, and I am sure science uses it for something important as well.  Gold is steady and sure.  It lasts.  These things coupled with the shine and beauty it has on its own is probably what makes it such a versatile and popular element.  We however have something which is infinitely more stable and helpful in our lives—the Love of God as brought to us through the Holy Ghost.  In sacrament meeting today, Brother and Sister Gee gave wonderful talks on what it means to trust God and how we can follow the promptings of His spirit in our lives.  I feel their words tie in with some difficult decisions in my life.  I have noticed in my own life going through cancer treatments how many times the right choice we make can seem like a bad choice at first, just like Nephi records on gold plates in the Book of Mormon.

Monday, November 8, 2010

A Rock, a Hard Place, and Moving on

The concept of a halfway rock is something that I learned about in scouting on hikes.  Most of what I remember about scouting hikes is walking up and down hills in the dirt, mostly staring at my shoes as I was too tired to lift my head, getting in trouble every time I tried to go off the path (something about preserving nature, which I never really understood), and all with a backpack which was too heavy and filled mostly with things I wouldn’t need.  Inevitably, as the hike would progress the fun would quickly fade to be replaced with fatigue and exhaustion.  I am sure it must have been equally tiresome for the leaders who had to listen to the “How much further?” every 100 feet after the first half a mile.  A combination of these circumstances is what I assume gave birth to the halfway rock idea.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Sacrament Inspirations - Gratitude

I feel fast and testimony meetings are always a great blessing and opportunity to feel an increased measure of the spirit.  In a recent devotional here at the MTC Elder Richard G. Scott talked about how learning to recognize and follow the spirit is something which we learn throughout our lives.  Similarly, I feel fasting is an opportunity we have to feel an increased measure of the spirit in our lives.  To start the fast and testimony meeting today in the spirit of Thanksgiving which is coming up, the Bishop shared this verse from the Doctrine and Covenants:

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Sacrament Inspirations - Imagine a World

Following the example of Elder LeeMaster, I have decided to create theme days to post about in my blog.  Starting these themes today are some inspirations and pearls of wisdom I have found from sacrament meeting.

Today we were privileged to hear from Brother and Sister Roundy, as well as a wonderful musical number on the Organ.  I love sacrament and the opportunity we have to renew our covenants with God and make a renewed determination to follow Christ every week.  I feel the more I have been able to understand about Jesus Christ, and the sacrifice He has made for us, the more meaningful the sacrament has become.  I feel it a testimony of the reality of God and how His spirit in our lives as we are able to notice themes in our meetings.  We can see how God is in control, and we can see how the speakers have prepared their remarks with the inspiration of the Holy Ghost.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

The Perfect World I Live In

It seems recently that I have ended up talking with a lot of people whose first questions are something like “If God is perfect then why do people suffer, or why is there so much pain for those who try to be good?”  I know for many people it can seem hard to accept an all loving God allowing us to struggle, or allowing us to have trials.  It is hard to understand God’s love and His eternal purposes as we look at the world; both as we look at the suffering with a broad scope around the world, and also as we look at the lives of individuals who seem particularly picked on.  Although I do not know the reasons that other people suffer, I do know we can find understanding from God from each of the individual trials we have in our lives.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

An Incredible Introduction

So . . . recently we got a new addition to the referral center mission!  This is Elder Ahlstrom whom I am privileged to be working with now. He is an awesome missionary, and I love working with him.  With the recent changes we have had and with the inspiration from General conference I have found it a good time to make some changes and set some goals.

Learning to set and work toward goals is a practice I think which can bless and help us throughout our lives.  As we learn to set a goal for something higher, and then as we make the effort to work toward them I think we are able to find those things which help to stretch and grow our character.  Some goals I succeed at, others have stagnated or passed by.  Having a goal to get straight A’s in High School is great . . . but having a plan to actually sit down and take the time to study I think would have helped me a lot more.  As I have been here as a missionary I have learned as we set goals, with every goal we need to develop a plan for accomplishing our goals.  As we have larger goals, we set smaller goals to work toward them.  We have the Ultimate Goal of helping people find a testimony on their own.  We start a testimony through first doing little things.  We need to pray to God, we need to read His words in the Bible and the Book of Mormon.  We need to go to church.  As we make the small steps God is able to help lead us, and help us know what changes we can continue making through our lives to find the church is true.  I talked a little about this in one of the Prezi presentations I made; The Gospel of Jesus Christ.  I know Jesus Christ lives, I know He loves us, and I know He blesses us as we make the time to come closer to Him in our lives.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Just keep swimming, just keep swimming . . .

When I was in High School I participated in the swim team.  It was something I enjoyed very much.  Our team was never that good, but I really enjoyed the friends I made and the unity we had as a team.  I remember playing water polo against our rival High School.  I remember Frisbee golfing for practice.  I remember the team spaghetti dinners, and staying up late playing Halo with the team.  There were many things which made swimming enjoyable, not necessarily the going back and forth in a pool (really fun  . . .), but the friends I made and camaraderie we had is what mattered most.

I do however remember one experience in which I found myself regretting the effort or lack thereof that I put into acquiring the skills of an expert swimmer, such as the heart and dedication to endure through the challenges.  Granted, I do not think any amount of preparation would have really made me feel ready for the events which did transpire.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Proclaim the Gospel in a Blog

With the recent changes we have seen in our mission I think creating a blog has been one of the things I have found myself enjoying the most.  I love having the creative outlet, and I love using it to share my testimony and relate it to stories I enjoy telling.  While I am by no means a perfect blogger, I thought it might be helpful to include a few things I have found to help me as I think about blog posts.  This screenjelly goes over some blogs I noticed and have found helpful.

The attached document I mentioned is below.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

It's Simply Elementary!

Like I previously mentioned in my post “Have You Thanked Your Personal Cheerleaders Today?,” I am very grateful for the things my parents have done for me.  Immediately following Elder Holland, Sister Rosemary M. Wixom talked about the righteous example of parents in her talk titled “Stay on the Path.  Supporting her words, Sister Mary N. Cook also talked about being a righteous example in her talk “Be an Example of the Believers.  I love how even though none of the speakers in conference are assigned a talk they all seem to center around the same themes.  I enjoyed her inspired words urging us to reach out more to our children, and stand as a righteous example for them.

Although I do not have any children of my own . . . or plan to have any soon, the principles and lessons which Sister Wixom talked about are certainly applicable in our lives no matter who we are.  I think in each of our lives we do not fully realize the impact we have on others, or how we can affect them.  The year before I came here as a missionary I had a unique experience to volunteer at an elementary school.  This experience helped me to understand some of the principles Sister Wixom talked about.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Have You Thanked Your Personal Cheerleaders Today?

I wanted to make a post on one of my favorite talks for conference, but as they were all amazing I had trouble deciding which one . . . so I thought why not just write a brief something about every talk?  I plan to make a post about every talk over the next few weeks.  I would like to start with Elder Holland’s talk “Because of Your Faith.”  I hope you will take a moment to watch it as well.

Every time Elder Holland speaks I feel a sense of urgency with the Spirit he brings.  I feel the spirit he brings is able to pull the strings in my heart and help me have a greater desire to work harder and do better.  As Elder Holland talked about the sacrifices his parents had made for him, it made me think of the sacrifices my parents have made for me.  Similar to Elder Holland, my parents are also paying for my mission, and supporting me with the incomparable opportunity I have to be here.  As I reflect back, I am able to realize quickly that it would be quite impossible for me to list what I do remember or for me to even remember or realize a portion of what my parents have done.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Prezi Presentation- The Restoration of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

I finished another Prezi presentation!  This one gives a little overview of the first lesson we like to go over with people.  You can look at the presentation for the third lesson here.  And no . . . I have not made one for the second lesson yet =/.  However, Elder Thompson has made an excellent presentation on the Plan of Happiness you can look at here.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Feasting in Hospitals, and Feasting With a Notebook.

It seems with almost every major event or occasion we have a feast.  There is the ever famous Thanksgiving feast, a Christmas feast, an Easter Feast, a birthday feast, a graduation feast, feasts to celebrate gatherings of friends and family.  The list is endless, we even sometimes have the feast in and of itself be the event. 
Some feasts are a true banquet, with time and effort put into preparing the food.  Other feasts are more spur of the moment; victuals picked up at a nearby corner store.  This is the kind which requires very little to no preparation, built on a foundation of candy bars and potato chips.  Some feasts leave us with a feeling of satisfaction and fulfillment; others with a feeling of sickness and regret.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

The Holy Ghost and Wheel Chairs.

The blessings of the Holy Ghost seem innumerable to me.  The more experiences and trials I have had in life, the more I have been able to see how much the Holy Ghost does in my life, and how much He has done in the past.  When we are humble and seek after Jesus Christ, we can feel the Spirit work in our lives.

I remember the feelings of sorrow and despair I have had with the trials in my own life.  After multiple injuries and damages to my joints, I remember being in a wheel chair self-pitying myself and feeling as if the hope of a happy future was gone.  It was at this time I was able to go to a devotional where Elder Bednar spoke to just the young single adults in our stake.  He promised us we could write down a question, and if we listened to the spirit, we could find the answer that evening as he spoke.  The question I wrote down was quite simply “how long?”  It was not until after he finished speaking that I was able to find the answer.  The closing hymn was #85, “How Firm a Foundation.”  As soon as the music started, I remember the overwhelming sense of assurance that came over me.  I was not even able to recognize what the words of the song were.  But I do know the feeling of comfort that I felt.  I knew that everything would be fine.  I did not know how long my trial would continue, but I did know that despite what would happen I would have the support of Christ in everything I did.

That comfort and assurance comes to us because of the Holy Ghost.  One of my favorite verses from the New Testament reads; “Now the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that ye may abound in hope, through the power of the Holy Ghost.” –Romans 15: 13.  I know as we rely on Jesus Christ and following His will, we can be filled with the hope of the future which comes from the Holy Ghost.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Show and Tell With Half Dead Chickens

I have grown up with animals.  My parents had two dogs when I was born.  When I left a year ago to come on my mission we had two dogs, a cat, a cockatiel, an aquarium with fish, and chickens and ducks.  I understand my parents have also recently gotten another dog.  As I think back on the pets we have had many memories come to my mind, mostly of our dogs.

Dogs are typified as being loyal.  I remember our dogs chewing up the sprinkler system at our house, eating the fruit off of our trees, the accidents in the house training them, but being able to later clean the messes outside.  I remember them jumping on me with muddy paws, chasing them when they chased other random animals, bathing them after they were sprayed by a skunk, and countless other memories.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Boo . . . Get off the Stage!!!

I have very mixed emotions about performing in public. I hate the feeling of anxiety, but yet, I love it at the same time. I took piano lessons as I was growing up and most of any performing I did was with a piano piece I had prepared. I remember the anxiety before coupled with the sick feeling in my gut, and the dread and fear of taking my turn on the stage. It was always a wonderful experience when my performance was admirable. But that was not always the case. Some performances went smoothly, and others a little more bumpy. I am sure we have all had experiences when we have failed. We were diligent in preparing; we ironed out the flaws, but still fell short.

More so than the successes we have; it is how we take the failures in life that shape us. It is easy to take the good things in life, but not so easy with the failures. It is mostly how we take the failures in our lives that define who we are. I remember one such failure of mine at a piano recital when I was in High School.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Finding the missing links in my life through leukemia

It is no exaggeration to say that many of the people who we interact with on the chat are very antagonistic to the message we have. I come across many of those who feel they have been picked on or deserted by God in their lives. I think people seldom worry about the cliché starving children in Africa, or those we read about in the news with the suffering all around the world. Many times we give those suffering a pause of thought, or a brief remark to the person next to us about how sad it is. But I feel it is a rare and precious soul who actually acts on those things. I have found in my own life things never really concern me until they hit home.

For me, my experience with leukemia has been something in which I feel has hit home. I feel it helps me to relate to those who feel picked on by life. I have always understood that with every trial we have we are supposed to learn something. People can tell us a stove is hot, but we can’t really know it is hot until we touch it ourselves. I feel leukemia has done the same thing to me, metaphorically touching the stove to know how trials can help me learn. I find it difficult to express the things I have learned in words. I have found there are things like sympathy for others, patience, and dedication; but I think the real thing has been the missing links which have given greater purpose and meaning in my life.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

"Mormon Mingles;" A New Adventure

I have always liked adventures, whether it is from a good book, or a movie, but most especially the adventures I have had in my own life.  I remember as I was little making “forts” with blankets over the furniture inside the house, also the fun we had “exploring” on camping trips I went on with my family.  I feel the enticement lay in the possibility of the unknown—a possibility that the extraordinary might happen.  Here is a picture of some of the other missionaries who serve here having an adventure of their own.  (Left to right, Elders LeeMaster, McMullin, Edmons, Albright and Baird)  Sometimes I feel that the extraordinary we find in our own lives is often disguised as dull, or boring.  I understand that most amazing feats come from countless hours of preparation, working through the mundane with a hope for accomplishment.

I feel I am able to find the same sense of excitement in my life today as I come across the unknown.  When this happens I have found the time for preparation is gone, and we need to rely on the choices we have made through mundane experiences we have had in the past.  Were we committed then, and is that commitment enough to get us through the challenge we now face?  For me, I feel coming on a mission has been an adventure for me.  As I started I did not know what it was I would be doing when I first arrived here.  I was able to soon learn I would be teaching people over chat or the phone, and it was much more challenging then I originally anticipated.  I find I still have a lot of room to grow and learn.  Recently we are again branching out in what I feel is a “new frontier,” and that is with the “Mormon Mingles.”

Friday, September 3, 2010

One year gone!

As of yesterday, I am now on the downward slope; my mission is now half way over!  It is hard for me to believe so much time has already passed by.  I feel like I just got here, and at the same time I don’t feel that I have enough time before I need to go home.  I have a quote on my wall which I feel has really helped me focus on what I need to do.  I actually got it from the talk by Elder Robert D. Hales in the last April general conference;
The saddest words of tongue and pen are those that say, “It might have been!” –John Whittier

I feel it is a constant struggle to decide between what things are good, which are better, and which are best. And I am grateful for the help that God has given me to meet this challenge.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Thursday service in the Temples

For about two months now we have had the privilege of going to the temple and serving every Thursday morning.  This is a rare privilege for a full time missionary, and I love it!   

 Sometimes I find that talking with people on the chats can become overwhelming and tiring.  I find the temple is a place where I can “recharge” and again find the motivation and Christ-like love to help all of those people I meet and talk with.  I feel there is no substitute for the peace which we can find in the Temple, and every time I go it helps me to know it is where God wants me to be.  I think it is summed up well here in Psalms 65: 4;

Blessed is the man whom thou choosest, and causest to approach unto thee, that he may dwell in thy courts: we shall be satisfied with the goodness of thy house, even of thy holy temple.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Ironing shirts is a good thing. Good things are not always easy.

Ok, so it is not that I dislike ironing, or that I find it painful and overly burdensome.  I think it has more to do with being a diligent missionary— 

As I work as an online missionary, the majority of my day is spent over at the referral center at the Missionary Training Center (MTC); although I do sleep off campus with my companion in a side room at a member’s house.  The MTC is designed to be a closed campus to facilitate and manage the many missionaries who come through here.  Because of that, I am able to do almost everything I need here at the MTC, including laundry.  However, I do not keep my clothes here, and I do still need to transport them back and forth from the MTC and the house.  For this I simply use a large laundry bag that I cleverly stuff everything in; hence the need to iron all of my white shirts. 

The conflict for me comes in taking the time to iron my shirts.  When I return in the evenings I feel too tired and worn out from what I have done that day and all I really want to do is go right to bed.  Then in the mornings when I get up it seems I am already in hurry and that I have more than enough to do without ironing.  And getting up earlier is not an option worth consideringJ.

I think we all have many choices like this in our lives.  Where we have something we really should do; but we don’t really have to do, or want to do.  I don’t think anyone would care if I were to wear a wrinkly shirt.  Most everyone I talk to is over the online chat or phone anyway, and I never see them.  However, I have found that taking the time to do the “little things” is something which can spill over into everything we do.  It helps us to have more confidence in ourselves and in everything we do.  I feel people are able to realize they are talking to someone who takes pride in who they are, and what they are doing.  I am very proud and grateful to be here as a missionary.  Taking the time to attend to the menial matters is something which I have found extends far beyond having a pressed shirt.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Pearls found in 1 Nephi during scripture study

At a meeting a few months ago President Allen, a leader in our mission, used an analogy of “pearls” to talk about little pieces of wisdom or insight in the scriptures.
I came across such a pearl this morning during my studies.  I was watching the BYU scripture discussions online this morning as they discussed in the beginning of the Book of Mormon the story of how Nephi and his brothers were able to obtain the brass plates.  The plates were important because they had the scriptures on them.  Having those enabled them to teach their posterity in the future the commandments gospel of Jesus Christ which is necessary for us to find real happiness and joy in life. which would bless and help them in their lives.  In the Book of Mormon we read Nephi and His brothers have trouble getting the plates from a wicked man name Laban.  They try many different things, but in the end Nephi is led by the Spirit, and finds Laban drunk and passed out.  Nephi, as led by the spirit, kills Laban, and is then able to obtain the plates.  We know God commanded Nephi to do, as it was the only way for them to get the plates; but it still makes me wonder why Laban was killed. 

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Prezi Presentation

So, this presentation has taken me a lot longer than it should have to finally get it done.  But, it is finally done now.  It is just a brief overview about what we understand the Gospel is.  It is having faith in Jesus Christ, repenting, being baptized, and enduring to the end.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Rare Privilege

Being a missionary is in itself a rare privilege.  While I have been a missionary I have been able to see tremendous changes in not just my life, but also in the lives of those we have met and taught. 
Being a referral center missionary, we seem to be blessed that above other missionaries.  As our mission is based at the Missionary Training Center (MTC), we are privileged to have many general authorities of the church as frequent visitors for devotionals or other meetings.  Recently at the end of June there was the training for all of the new mission presidents around the world.  Throughout this week long training all of the quorum of the Twelve Apostles and First Presidency were able to come through the MTC to train them.  Although I was unable to meet any of the Apostles or First Presidency, I did have an encounter with President Jay E. Jensen of the Presidency of the Seventy.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

A break at the doctor's office.

I love being a missionary!  This is without a doubt the most meaningful thing I have ever done in my life.  However, I think it is plain in life that the most meaningful experiences never come without a little opposition.  As much as I love being here, I do find there are times the work I do here feels mundane and slow.  On those days it is hard to be enthusiastic and share with people the actual love I have of this gospel, and how much it really means to me.   The time we are able to spend away from the computer is a blessing, and a real “tender mercy” from God as I can see in my life.  As I am able to spend time away it helps me to recharge and get back into the work I love –teaching people about Jesus Christ and how He has blessed me.  One of the nicest breaks I have is to be able to go to the doctor’s office periodically for checkups.  Unless there is an emergency I found it the rare occurrence that something is done quickly.  Each of my appointments takes several hours, and I always find them to be a nice break from what I have been doing.  Nothing is ever rushed, and I just find it to be a very relaxing experience.  As I serve here as a missionary I am limited on transportation.  And with other reasons, I have needed a ride to my appointments and back.  This is a picture where I was actually accompanied to one of the appointments with my MomJ.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Reconnecting with old friends, and "wait, who was that?"

As a part of the referral center mission, we spend the majority of our time at the Missionary Training Center or MTC. While we are done with the official training for our mission, we stay here as this is where the “referral center” is currently located. One of the great blessings of being here is that I am able to see a large portion of the LDS missionaries as they filter through here with their training. I am able to reconnect with many old friends who I have not seen or spoken with in some time.

This would be great except for someone like me who has a bad memory for faces and names. Just a few weeks ago as I was walking through the cafeteria I was stopped by another missionary with an enthusiastic “Hello! How have you been?” I do not remember what I was thinking exactly, but “not thinking” is probably the best description. I remember I looked up at the missionary, and without slowing down or stopping I said “good” and continued to my seat without missing a beat. It was not until after I sat down I realized their face was very familiar, and it was probably someone who I knew.

Fortunately, I have not been so distant with everyone I talk with.

 Here are some photos of friends which I have met here in the MTC from home.  The Top is Elder Andrews, and below is Elder Miller.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Teaching Experiences with Cassia

By far one of the most interesting experiences I have had as a missionary has been in teaching Cassia. As an online missionary I do not get the opportunity to meet many of the people who I come in contact with. While pictures are nice, it is always a rare opportunity when the investigator comes here to be baptized; or when they come to visit even after they have been baptized. Such meetings serve as little boosts of light and energy and help to keep the whole mission excited and moving forward. I had such an experience recently when I met Cassia. Cassia was brought to church with Pricila, one of the leaders over the women in the single adult ward I was attending. Pricila mentioned to me she had brought her friend who was not a member of the church . . . to make the situation even more unique; Cassia and I were not able to communicate very well from the start. She was from Brazil, and had recently moved here to go to school and to learn English. She spoke very little English, and I spoke even less Portuguese.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

How Cancer has Blessed my Life.

I am so blessed with the many changes which have happened to me in my life. I have always enjoyed a good adventure, whether in a book or movie. I enjoy the different twists and turns, and the unexpected. I enjoy comparing myself to the heroes of the stories I read. Every good hero always grows from the experience they have. They make the best of every situation.

I feel I have had my own adventure in my life as I have battled cancer. I was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (ALL) in February 2006. I initially went through 8 months of chemo therapy. I then had a relapse of cancer in July 2007. I then had a subsequent 3 months of chemo, and a bone marrow transplant in December of 2007.  At the time it seemed the transplant would be the "end" of the trial I was having, but with the transplant also came something called Graft vs. Host disease. It is where the bone marrow I received begins to attack my own body. I have had numerous complications from this, and it has helped to continue to learn and grow.
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