Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Sometimes Life Gives you Lemons, and Concrete

I am writing this post to commemorate two weeks since I ate it on my bicycle.  Why am I commemorating two weeks you might ask?  The answer is simple; I have been too lazy to write up anything before now.  Also today I have been able to get some more pictures to go along with this post.  I have really enjoyed being able to ride my bike around and back and forth to classes.  I am not sure how much longer I will be able to this year, but I intend to enjoy it as much as I can. 

When I crashed my bike, it was a very rainy day and I had just come through the intersection, up on the sidewalk and attempted to go over a little bump to cut through the parking lot.  Being recently painted yellow, the bump had a nice glossy finish, and coupled with the rain it became very slick.  As I proceeded over the bump as I had done many times before I found the forward motion of my bike was coupled with a sideways falling motion, and I found myself being thrown into the concrete.  Thinking quickly and not wanting to continue sliding I used my face as a brake (it was close to the ground and this point) and was able to come to a stop.

Ok . . . maybe that wasn’t my original plan, but if you have been thinking about using your face as a brake for something I recommend devising a new plan.  After stopping I decided the best thing would be to just lay there.  I didn’t really feel like moving.  That plan yielded nothing (I am not sure what I was looking for), so I decided I should probably just get up and get home so I could get some things done I needed.  I sighed, I rolled over, and I found a girl standing and staring at me a distance away.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Adapting My Vision

It is more work than I thought to change the title and design of the blog!  I knew there were a few basic things I needed to change.  The title “Elder Seth Spencer” would not work now I am finished with my mission, and I didn’t think it was that creative either.  I love the title now!  My Mom actually helped me come up with it.  She first got the idea from a Wikipedia page.  I wanted to find something unique, something personal, and I like an aura of mysteriousness as well.  To help me meet these things we were searching for something which related to my name and the meaning of it.  According to the page, the two pillars referred to pillars of brick and stone supposedly made by Seth (ancient son of Adam and Eve) and his descendants.  The pillars were engraved with the scientific discoveries and knowledge, the idea of putting them in stone to be to preserve them over an extended period of time.  I am not sure if that was something actually done by Seth, or something which was done at all.  The idea I liked was of preserving those things which are important to us in our lives.  I have found blogging to be a wonderful tool in preserving and sharing some of the important things in my life with others.

In changing the blog I started with one thing in my mind and then went searching for images and templates to coordinate and put everything together.  I found it almost impossible to find what was exactly in my mind, but then as I found other things, the vision of what I did want would change.  Or, I would find a part and realize that the other part I had needed to change.  In the end, I was able to work everything out!  It is interesting that as I reflect on it a little now, I see these small circles of searching as echoes of a little larger search I am currently on.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

From the Pearl of Africa, Testimony of Jemba

Not all our investigators have to travel hundreds of miles to attend church, but there are a few.  Jemba is one of those few, and I feel immensely grateful for the testimony and the spirit which we have felt from talking with him.  When we first met Jemba, he lived several hundred miles from any church building, I did not know how he could get to church, and I did not know how he would ever be able to be baptized in this church.  Jemba is one investigator who has shown unbeatable optimism and spiritual insight.  I can’t think of many investigators who would take time in a lesson to teach us and share additional insights without us asking.  Jemba is one of those people.  Jemba knows who God is, and we know God is aware of him.  I feel the conversion of Jemba, and the opportunities which I have seen open to him have been real miracles.  I have seen many miracles while being here, and I am very grateful for that.  I am grateful to share with you this miracle, from the view of Jemba.

Hello everyone, I am by names of Jemba Denis, 19 years Old male Ugandan by nationality residing in a country named Uganda located in East-Africa.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Testimony of Cassia!!

I am excited to share with you the testimony of another person we have been working with!  I am hoping through these you will get a chance of how much I feel I have been blessed.  I know the real joy we find in serving as missionaries comes from seeing the conversion of others.  We read in the Doctrine and Covenants about the worth of a soul:

Remember the worth of souls is great in the sight of God;  15 And if it so be that you should labor all your days in crying repentance unto this people, and bring, save it be one soul unto me, how great shall be your joy with him in the kingdom of my Father!”  (D&C 18: 10, 15)

I have shared my own experience in talking with Cassia before.  Teaching her was one of the most unique and memorable experiences for me as a missionary.  I was able to teach her with my brother, and she is also the only person I taught face to face.  That is another story, today I am happy to share with you her experience, in Portuguese and English! J

Cassia –


Eu conheci a Igreja atraves do meu irmao, mas quando ele começou a frequentar eu senti que ele estava se afastando da familia e achava um absurdo então eu nunca havia me interessado em ir assistir uma reunião aos Domingos.  Anos se passaram e a minha irmã decidiu visitar a Igreja e aceitou ser ensinada pelos missionarios que iam a minha casa e sempre me convidava para participar de uma lição mas nunca me interessei, mas achava muito bonito a força daqueles missionarios, pois nao era facil estar longe da familia e da cultura por tanto tempo.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Causes Me To Fear . . . ?

We don't fear.

The last few evenings we had an influx of bugs in the apartment.  We have had large beetles, big ugly looking fly-like things, and a few spiders.  My first thought one evening was how I could give both spiders to my little sister.  But, then I remembered she is a few hundred miles away, and I would enjoy continuing to get letters from her.  So, as fun as that would be, we just squished them.  As ecstatic as my own sister would be about getting some spiders (not at all), it made me think a little about how fear can affect us in our lives.

I think most of the fears I had growing up were pretty typical.  And I am sure I could take a lot of time to talk about those things.  Working as a missionary my mind is often thinking about the subjects of fear and faith and the power they have to motivate.  I can see those people who are motivated by faith, and I can see the joy it brings.  I can see those who are driven by their fears, and I can see the sorrow it brings to them in their lives.  While rarely asked exactly like this, people do often have some version of—“Do you fear your church is wrong?”  “Do you fear these things point to the Book of Mormon being false?” “Do you fear you have not accepted Jesus Christ into your life?”  The answer is those are things I do not fear. 

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Testimony of Megan!!

Megan's Baptism!!

I love sharing the testimonies of those we teach!  Today I am excited to share with you the testimony which Megan has graciously shared with us.  Each of those we have met have the most wonderful stories, and everyone is unique.  I know this gospel and this church is something which changes all of our lives. The conversion we have is something personal to all of us, and something which comes from our own seeking and asking of God.  I know this is something Megan has done, and I know her coming to a knowledge of these things has come from God, through His Spirit, and not just what we have said.  But, enough of me, let me share with you her own story:


As little as nine months ago, I would have described myself as a devout atheist.  Having been raised by my two young parents and an Irish Catholic grandmother, I had many confusing, conflicting, and harsh feelings surrounding religion, faith, and God.  Going to church was always seen as a chore that was saved for rare holidays where we were forced into it by our grandmother.  Most of what I knew of God, Christ, and religion had to do with guilt, constant sin, and feeling afraid.  Needless to say, I did not relate well to this and clung to both my logic, scientific inclination and my compassionate, humanistic feelings.  

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Counting My Blessings: Salsa, Pillars, and More

The building we work in, behind the trees
Sometimes I feel I am giving a discredit to those who read my blog.  I would love to make each post a masterpiece, but I think each usually ends up more of a spattering.  I have been told by a few individuals this past week that they have been reading my blog, and that they have also enjoyed it, so thank you!  I know it is powerful motivation for any writer to find that their words are not only read, but that they are also enjoyed!

It has been a busy week for sure!  The more I look back at what has happened the more I realize just how privileged I am.  Elder Sabin has finished his service here and gone home.  I had another appointment in Salt Lake in which everything was stable, and we were able to move to a new place off the MTC!  The Lord is extending His blessings upon us more than what we really deserve, but I think that is almost how it always is.  As I am feeling so blessed I wanted to share a little more about the blessings I have had this past week.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

My Bones, My Bones!!

This picture is a little closer to how I have used my cane :)
I remember four weeks before I came here in the MTC I had had my right hip replaced.  This was the first of the replacements I am looking at, I also need to have to replace both my knees and my other hip replaced.  The damage to my legs is something which was caused mostly because of the cancer treatment I have gone through.  In starting here as a missionary I was not sure how my legs would do or how long I would be able to continue with the joints I have.  I have learned even more while being here as a missionary that God blesses us while we serve Him.  Not only have I seen tremendous improvement with the treatments with my lungs, and also with the GvH disease, but I have received tremendous strength in legs as well and I never really needed to use the cane I brought with me. (by tremendous I mean I can walk up and down stairs easily :)
However, in the recent weeks I have noticed a change with my joints.  My right knee has become a little moody.  Sometimes it will hold together, and other times it decides it will not stay together and it collapses on me.  I am blessed at this time that it doesn’t really hurt but is just more annoying.  All of this has led me to do a little thinking . . .

Sunday, July 10, 2011

King Christian X, a Christian Example

Although it is not fast Sunday, I did have the opportunity to fast today, which I feel is something which can make almost any day better.  Not only that, but today in church today for the first time in my over 22 months serving I was called by the Bishop to stand up and fill some extra time left at the end of sacrament meeting.  I was not nervous about standing up, but as I had fasted my head was a little fuzzy, my stomach was growling, and I just felt really tired.  The entire time was talking I had this verse running through the back of my mind; “verily, this is fasting and prayer, or in other words, rejoicing and prayer.” (D&C 59: 9-10)  I am not sure how well the “rejoicing” popped out of the brief testimony I shared, but I do feel that the opportunity of being here as a missionary and the difference is something to rejoice about!

Today we were actually able to attend a Sign Language Ward again, which I love attending!  To me, it is amazing that many of the deaf members will take the time to talk, when I have to finger spell about every other word I want to say!  They are an icon of patience and perseverance, and I have loved being with them briefly.  In the sacrament meeting today, I was uplifted by the Spirit, and there were a few things I learned about which stood out to me.  I think one of my favorites was the story of King Christian X of Denmark—

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Fresh on the Mission; Back to the Beginning

Elder Corbett came and joined us officially today!  We have seen him from time to time as he has been doing his training here around the MTC, but now his smile is here with us to stay!  With our numbers being low, we have been very anxious to get new missionaries.  So, we are also full of smiles here to have a new missionary!  I am blessed to be his first companion while he is serving here with us.  I feel I am always lifted by the enthusiasm and dedication which new missionaries have, and Elder Corbett certainly has both enthusiasm and dedication for the service he is giving here.

While he has been serving here, it has made me think of my own first day here in the MTC.  It took me a while to find some pictures, as I had originally deleted them, but I was able to bring them back!  I am not sure I have a lot to say about them, they really speak for themselves!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Conversion Story of Amy

I love hearing the testimony of those people we are working with!  Certainly the highlight for any missionary is to see the testimony and faith of a person develop, and from that to see them accept this gospel and be baptized.   I am grateful for those who have shared it in the past, and today I am grateful for Amy and the testimony and conversion she has shared with us.  I wanted to share the experience we had in working with her.  But more than just what I have to say, I had thought it would be more interesting for you to read her side of things.

We first met Amy in November of 2010.  I met Amy through a chat, such as it might look in the window attached.  We had talked briefly about tithing and then set up a time to talk more.  Some notes I had written from our first talk included things like “helps a child with a tumor,” and “has seen God work in her life.”  With the work we do here, I do not feel like we are teaching something brand new to everyone we meet.  Rather, from my experience, we are simply able to add to the things which people have.  Amy is one example of this.  She is someone who came to us already having a relationship and desire to follow God.  As she has let the gospel come into her life I have see a greater sense of optimism and joy come from her.  I have seen her have a greater desire to learn and follow more closely the example which Jesus Christ gave.  As I said, it wasn’t that this was all new for her, but something I feel has grown.  I do know this gospel does bring the power of Jesus Christ more centrally into our lives.  I see it constantly in my own, and I have seen it with Amy as well.

But, enough of me talking, let me share with you Amy’s perspective on things:

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

The Lord Slayeth the Wicked

Waiting for the doctor, during initial round of treatment.

If you remember from my previous post, Graduating from the ECP treatment, I was able to have my doctor’s appointment yesterday.  As I mentioned in that post, it is this next month which is the real test to how stable I can be without having the ECP treatment to help balance my blood.  So far, I do feel great!  With every appointment I have had for about the last year, I have actually had one service missionary who has driven me to almost every appointment, Brother Smith.  As I am almost done with my mission and Brother Smith has some other commitments this next month, it was my last appointment for him to drive me to.

While driving in the car, I was given a chance to reflect a little on the experience I have had with cancer.  One thing which has really stood out to me is how much support I have found from so many people who have volunteered, time, money, and many other things in my behalf.  I am very grateful for Brother Smith and for the time he has taken for what I am sure must have been some very boring and long days.  I was also able to reflect on the service given me from Ward members, friends, and family.  If I were to spend all day making a list of all the ways I have been blessed, I am not sure I could complete it.  And if I ever did come to a time I felt I had put everything I knew, I am sure there are many more things I would miss.  At this last appointment I had occasion to reflect on some very meaningful and humorous support I have had from my family.  It is about this support and the perspective it has given me which I wish to talk today.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Graduating From the ECP Treatment!

I had some very exciting news last month which I am late sharing.  Last month I had graduated from the ECP (extra corporeal photopheresis) treatments which I have been doing!  Because of the bone marrow transplant I had, I have had some complications with my body adapting to the new marrow and the new immune system.  The ECP was a treatment done to the blood to help balance the good blood cells in me, and decrease the ones which have been attacking me.  When I first came into the MTC my breathing was about 37-39% of what is normal. The number of attacking cells having greatly decreased it.  This is not to mention the other difficulties I have had with my joints and other things.  Because of the treatments my breathing has increased back up to the 70’s =D, although, I am still waiting for my hair to come back.  I do think most of us would choose being able to breathe over having hair.  The graduation was a tender mercy from the Lord and a blessing which I was not expecting.  I am very excited to be moving on and progressing, but it is this next month actually which is the real test of how I have done.

I was receiving the treatments on a monthly basis, and this next Monday I will have my next appointment with the doctor.  This visit, unlike the others, I will only be seeing the doctor, and I will not be having the ECP treatments.  The test is to see if my body will still continue to improve, or we are hoping at least still stay function the same in regards to my body systems.  This next month I will not have the extra support which can be given from the ECP treatments and my body will be expected to reach a new height of independence.  While it is exciting to move forward, moving too quickly can overload my body, and put me back to where I was, or below that.  The danger with taking a step back is how difficult it is to regain the ground I have already climbed.  The body becomes more stubborn the second time.  I do however, have faith, and I am confident in moving forward.  I trust the Lord will give me the support I need to continue to bring me closer to Him and to continue to give me guidance.  Not only does He guide me in making choices with my health, but this shows us a pattern of progression in our lives.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Following the Wake of Giants

Not only is our service as missionaries something which is relatively new for the church, it is also something which has included a new type of missionary.  Currently, all of us have different medical things which have kept us from serving a walking mission.  Not only do I have my own story of how I got here, but every missionary who serves here is a wonderful example of perseverance, faith, and patience on the Lord and His blessings.  This being the case, I do believe our mission fluctuates in many ways that most other missions do not.  I know currently we have half of the number of missionaries with us compared to what we had at this time last year, and four more of us will be leaving before the end of Summer.  Seeing as there are only seven of us here currently, we have felt a great impact when each missionary has left.  The latest two who have left us were Elder Howden and Elder Moxley.  As I have been thinking about them, and the support they have been I had thought it might be nice for me to share some experiences I have had while serving with them.

Both of these missionaries were serving missions elsewhere, and then because of different things were reassigned to our mission.  I believe Elder Howden and Elder Moxley tell their stories better than I could, so I wanted to give my perspective on some other things.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Passover at the MTC

We had a Passover celebration here in the RC, complete with lamb’s blood over the door frames. Well, not really, but they have been painting a little here.  We didn’t know they would be painting, so it was a little bit of a surprise to see how they left the wall for a few days after starting.  The good news is they did later come back and finish the painting.  In the scriptures, the Passover was a time to remember some of the many blessings which God had given to Israel.  The lamb’s blood over the door was used at the time (Exodus 12) to safeguard the house so the destroying angel would pass by.  There is probably more symbolism than what I am able to glean, but I do know that it was a representation of Jesus Christ and the sacrifice which He would make.  While we don’t have a destroying Angel coming through our city, it is always important for us to remember Jesus Christ and what He has done for us.

I tried searching for how many times the word “remember” is mentioned in the scriptures.  But, I was not able to see how many times it was individually mentioned.  However, I was able to find that it is mentioned in 275 chapters, many of the chapters multiple times. Remembering Jesus Christ is a part of the promise we make with the sacrament.  As we remember Him, and what He has done for us, it is easy to choose to follow His commandments.  We remember him, we take His name upon us, and we follow His commandments.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Blessings and a Broken Head (Literally)

Please note the "I bleed true blue" shirt he is wearing :)
Last weekend I had an unexpected surprise.  On Friday evening while we were in the middle of a lesson, my companion Elder Fallentine mentioned that my Mom was messaging him on facebook.  I was a little confused at why she was messaging him until I heard the message, that my brother was currently in the emergency room here in Provo and my Mom was asking if I would be allowed to go and give him a blessing.  I was informed he had fractured his frontal lobe, but was ok.  With that little information my imagination did begin to wander very much.  What exactly does ok mean?  And how is it ok with a broken head?  Is ok simply that he isn’t dead, or he is conscious?  Or does ok also include significant brain damage?  And at the front of my mind, I needed to find out if I would be able to go and see him and give him the priesthood blessing, which I was.

In an effort to keep ourselves focused on serving the Lord, correspondence with our family is usually limited.  Although this is not the first time I have seen my brother, (as you can read here, Teaching Experiences with Cassia) I was blessed to go and see him in the hospital and I was able to give him a priesthood blessing.   He is recovering well, and many of the worries I had have been alleviated.  While the real purpose of going to see my brother was to bless and help him, I feel I was the one who was blessed the most.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Saving the Worms or Saving the Birds?

I love the rain!  These last few weeks we have been getting a lot of rain (comparatively, Utah is a pretty dry state).  With the extra rain, there have been a lot of worms on the sidewalks.  With the extra moisture I guess it is a good time to travel; but sadly, many of them are not able to find a spot of earth before the rain stops.  The sun comes out quickly, everything is soon dry, and the worms become cooked to the sidewalk.  Not only is this very gross, but I do also have some sympathy for the worms.  In walking to the temple yesterday morning I decided maybe I could give a little charity, and save a few worms.  I did this by picking up the worms which were still moving and throwing them into the grass.  It was good at first, but very quickly it became strenuous.  It was not fun to keep bending over, and I felt gross after touching each worm.  I felt torn about leaving the worms to suffer, or alleviating my own pain.  Even though the worms were small and mostly insignificant it was difficult for me to rationalize a good reason to let them die, but I did not suffer long as I soon found a reason to stop.  I was saved later when I saw a bird tearing up a worm that was too big for it to eat all at once.  I rationalized that by saving worms I was really killing birds, I was taking away their breakfast.  In order to work for the greater good, I have stopped saving worms in order to save birds.

It struck me this morning how much this is really like the experience of many of those who fall away from the church.  It starts with joy and gladness, but as it becomes difficult it is easy to find excuses.  Unlike saving worms, the gospel is something which is good for both the worms and the birds—metaphorically speaking.  And the consequences of leaving it are more than just a gross looking sidewalk and dead worms.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Leaving the One Headlight Club

Testing camera, oops!  I should turn the flash off.

In the evenings walking back from the MTC to the home where we stay, there is a fairly busy road we walk next to.  One thing which has been surprising for me is the high number of cars which I have seen with only one headlight.  On one particular evening, I believe there were just about half a dozen cars which drove by us, all with one headlight out, and we consistently see at least three every evening.  I have been starting to wonder if there is a club, and some part of being in the club was to knock out a headlight.  I have not had a chance to investigate it, and I don’t think I will.  I have decided it is not a club I want to join.

It seemed surprising to see such a large number of people going around with this handicap or deficiency, especially when it can be easily corrected.  It made me think a little of how sometimes in our lives we can find ourselves walking around with deficiencies or sins which could also be easily fixed.  I can understand poor college students doing the best with what they can, but the best part of repentance is that it doesn’t cost any money!

Monday, March 28, 2011

Giant Hamster Balls Are Like Sin

This afternoon I saw an ad online about 365 things a person should do in Salt Lake before they die.  There are a lot of them that I see, and honestly most of them really don’t look like any part of Utah that I have seen.  But there was one specifically which caught my attention as it seemed problematic.  It was what looked like a person running in a giant hamster ball on water, similar to the one pictured on the right.  I had two questions enter my mind, when I saw it.  One, is if the ball has holes in it, how do they keep the water out?  The second was if there are no holes, how does the person breathe?  I thought of these because if water can get in, I can see it filling up very quickly and drowning of the person in it.  And if there are no holes, it seems the person would run out of air very quickly, and they would suffocate.  I have not taken the time to research it for myself, so maybe there is some clever design to it that I do not know.

I will admit that running around in a giant hamster ball does seem like fun.  I am not really sure what I would do in one, but I think it would be fun for at least a little bit.  However, even with the fun I think it might be, I really don’t like the idea of, one, being trapped, two, drowning, and three, suffocating.  I can leave the scurrying to the hamsters; I can just keep them away from any water.  And now, as I look at it more, it seems those giant balls are a perfect analogy for sin in our lives.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Headless Birds and People

This morning we all had the amazing opportunity to all go and have breakfast together as a mission.  It was very delicious and amazing, but while we were there, one of the Elders I serve with noticed a quail in the yard that we could see from the window where we were.  It gave me the opportunity to relate a hunting experience I had with a grouse.  I was with my Dad, brother, and a few family friends.  We were really hunting for elk, but we did end up with a grouse as well.

If I remember right, we were either just walking out with a heavy load of elk meat or we had stopped for like a mid-day snack or something.  Either way, we were all together and as we were sitting there, a grouse came out of the bushes in front of us.  I would estimate it was about 10-15 feet from us.  I am not sure what was wrong with it, but it didn’t really seem to mind us.  One of the other hunters we were with, mentioned to my brother that he had a small game license, and that if he wanted to try for the grouse, he could have it.  The only rifles we had were those for hunting large game, like elk, so not really something a person would use to hunt a bird, as shooting it with one would destroy half of the bird.  But that isn’t what happened in our case.  I remember my brother laying down and taking time to aim and shoot at the grouse.  It felt like forever, but was probably only a minute or two before he shot.  As he did, the grouse took off flying, it rose about 20 or 30 feet then dropped like a rock.  And then it did it again, I think repeating it three or four times.  I don’t know how many of you have been to harvest chickens, but you may know that chickens also run around for some time after they have lost their head.  And that is exactly what happened to the grouse my brother shot, he had blown the head off.

Now, you might be wondering how this could relate back to the gospel, and I was wondering how I could relate it at first, but then Elder Howden reminded me of this verse from the Book of Mormon

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Blessings From a Bad Experience

Have you ever tried to do something good, and as you do something just totally bad happens?  Well, I had just that happen to me yesterday.  I had just finished in the bathroom, and after washing my hands and looking around, I had noticed there was a lot of trash all over the floor.  I reasoned it would take me about thirty seconds maximum to clean it all up, and I would be able to do a great service for everyone else who used it.  It worked great except for the fact that I like to keep the little white handbook for missionaries in my shirt pocket.  So, as I was trying to reach and grab the trash which was right next to the toilet . . . plop.  A chill shot through my back from hearing a little splash in the water.

I try and do something good, and it almost seems like I get punished.  All of us here on earth have been given the ability to choose.  We can choose good or we can choose evil.  God wants us to use our ability of choice for good.  It almost seems ironic sometimes when I choose to do good things and then bad things seem to come from it.  It made me think about how from God’s perspective it might also seem that many of the things He has chosen to do have worked against Him.  But a closer look helps us to see how He has used those things for good.  We know one of the choices God has made is to give us our agency.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Humbling to the Sole

I remember when I had first gotten my mission call.  A lot of different emotions and other things, but lately I have been thinking about the shoes I bought. 

I purchased them from Browns Shoe Company.  I remember about a week before getting the shoes; I had had my right hip replaced.  From that, I think my legs and foot was a little swollen.  And maybe it was just me not being really able to walk on it.  But either way the shoes I ended up with were too big.  And, when I took them back to exchange them for a smaller size, I think I ended up with the same shoe I tried to replace.

I certainly do have big shoes to fill, both literally and metaphorically.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

A Daily Glimpse, What I Do as a Missionary

I love being here as a missionary!  I love the work and the service I am able to give here.  I know being here and the blessings I have felt is something I would have never anticipated.  However, I think for many people there may be a little bit of a mystery about what exactly I do as a missionary every day, both for members and those who are not members.  As we are a part of new mission, how we work is a little different than what has been standard missionary procedure in the past, different than what most members are familiar with.  And I assume most non-members do not have much of an idea of what being a Mormon missionary entails to begin with.  So hopefully this will be something interesting to everyone who reads it!  I want to first talk about why I am here, then what do we do here as missionaries, and last, how we do it.

I am here because I love being a missionary!  I am here because this church is true.  I am here to share with others the blessings and comfort I have found from Jesus Christ in my life.  I feel blessed with the trials and struggles I have had in my life.  They have helped me better understand the role of Jesus Christ in my life.  We all have times of difficulty, and times when we feel we have more than we can handle.  The gospel of Jesus Christ is designed to help us with the struggles we have.  Trials and hard things are a part of Gods plan for us.  It is through relying on Jesus Christ and His gospel that we can use these struggles to come closer to God in our lives.  As I felt abandoned, I was able to find He was there for me.  As I felt lost, I have been able to find direction from Him.  As I was confused, I have found understanding from His gospel and His plan for us.  Because this has been such a blessing for me in my life, I am now here as a missionary to share it with others.  I am here because this is something which will bless and help the lives of all those who accept it.  I am here to help others find the same lasting joy and peace in their lives despite the challenges they have.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Impenetrable, Unstoppable, Lovable: Super-Dad.

Dad and Sisters

As I had started before in following Elder LeeMaster with the themed posts, I had recently come up with a new idea for a theme.  The previous theme (which I have not been very good at keeping up on) was with inspirations from Sacrament meetings.  The theme I am starting today is on heroes in my life, a Heroes Day.

Superman is great: he flies, he has laser vision, he is virtually impenetrable, unstoppable, and just an all-around good guy.  He would be a great help to get someone out of a jam.  As far as I can see he really only has two flaws, his weakness to kryptonite, and just the fact that he isn’t real.  Given those two facts, especially the kryptonite, Superman just doesn’t really make a good hero for me.  But someone who has really helped and someone who has been there is my Dad.  I haven’t seen him fly, but I do remember him jumping on the trampoline with us when we were little, and that certainly made me feel I could fly.  I don’t think I have seen any laser vision, but he certainly does manage to burn breakfast almost every single time he makes it, regardless.  But is he a good guy?  What about impenetrable, unstoppable, and lovable? 

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Which Is The Way We Ought To Go?

I have found many times that the most successful ventures we have in life are those we take the time to plan and prepare for.  We can plan for homework; we can plan for our days.  Planning is a principle for us to find success in our lives.  It is when we neglect to plan that the hopes and aspirations we have are not able to come to fruition.  Planning is nearly impossible if we do not have a goal or objective we are planning for.  I feel many times planning helps us to realize the goals we have and helps us focus on achieving them.

I am reminded of Alice from Alice and Wonderland by Lewis Carroll:

"Cheshire-Puss," she began, rather timidly, as she did not at all know whether it would like the name: however, it only grinned a little wider.
"Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?"
"That depends a good deal on where you want to get to," said the Cat.
"I don't much care where---" said Alice.
"Then it doesn't matter which way you go," said the Cat.
"---So long as I get somewhere," Alice added as an explanation.
"Oh you're sure to do that," said the Cat, "if you only walk long enough."

As the Cheshire cat says, when we don’t care where we are going “it doesn’t matter which way we go.”  Does each of us know where we are going in our lives?  Do we know what our purpose is and are we planning on going there?

Monday, February 21, 2011

What Do You Give The Man Who Has Everything?

It is probably and a most definite possibility that today is one of the best days ever.  As you are most undoubtedly well aware, today is my birthday.  As a person reaches the age that I have (a full twenty two years of age) it causes one to reflect and ponder about their life.  What have I done with the time given to me?  What have been the triumphs, or success I have had?  (A person my age knows it is best to focus on positive things, and look forward with hope and faith).

I realize that it can be difficult to know what to get a person of renown like myself for their birthday.  When a person has all the world has to offer, what more could they want?  A few people have ventured to ask me what the best gifts are to get a person of my stature.  I realize many more of you may be too intimidated by my prestige to ask.  Out of the generosity and kindness and humility of my heart, today, I have conceded to provide a few suggestions of the birthday gifts to get a person such as myself.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Focus . . . Focus . . . On What?

I had an amazing Sunday today!  With the recent snow we got, rather than driving the distance to the deaf ward.  We stayed nearby, and we went to the Seventh Ward which is right next to where we work.    We found out when we got there that it was actually the Ward Conference for the congregation.  (This is just a time when the stake leaders come and talk for part of sacrament, and then in the Sunday school and other auxiliaries).  The focus of the meetings today was what things do we seek for in our lives?   I have found there are many different things we can seek after.  Some are small, like maybe just a better picture with the snow.  The things we seek for in our lives and the things we spend our time on is what controls what we will become in the future. 

We have Jesus Christ to show us the way, He is the perfect example we can follow.  We also have our friends, our families, and those around us to give us support as we help them—just as Elder Albright was able to help me come up with a better picture of the snow (see below). In Sunday school today, we were given a little evaluation we can look at in our own lives.  I was surprised to find that many times what I want to focus on, and what I am focusing on are always not the same things.  When was the last time you were able to look at your own life?  Are you aware of what things you are working on in your life?  Are you spending your time on things which help you, or on things which you don’t really need or don’t really help you?  Take a minute to look at the self-evaluation below and think of ways you can improve in your life.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Exploring Museums, and Finding Hidden Treasures

I am blessed to serve with some of the greatest missionaries there are!  As a part of our mission, we all serve online taking chats.  All of us are here because a regular walking mission would have been more difficult.  That being the case, with the time off we have, it can sometimes be difficult to find things which we can all do.  This last preparation day we had, Elder Moxley had come up with the idea for us to go to the museum here in Provo.  I have lived here in Utah for about two years, a little time here as a missionary, and before while I went to school.  I actually really enjoy going to museums, but I never knew they had one in that entire time I was here.  I had even driven past it many times, and not known what it was.  I feel it was a great blessing and a bit like finding a treasure here I did not know about before.

I think there are many hidden treasures in our lives, and it is certainly a blessing and a gift for us to find them.  While the museum has been more of a physical treasure, it made me ponder about some spiritual treasures that are in my life.

Monday, February 14, 2011

A Bloodless Valentine

Today I am feeling great!  This morning I had my usual appointment down in Salt Lake with the ECP for the GvH from the Cancer.  I think today was the first time out of the last four appointments that I did not get a big spot of blood on my sleeve.  I talk a little about the appointments here, and here.  The gist of it is I am hooked up to a machine with an I.V. in my arm, and I am unable to move it for a few hours while the treatment runs.  After the treatment, the nurse wraps it up tight, and I am given instructions to not take it off for a few hours.  But it itches, it irritates, the hairs on my arm get stuck in it and ripped out—overall, mostly unpleasant.  I try my best to wait the allotted time, but it is so uncomfortable!  I lift the bandage . . . no immediate bleeding.  I rejoice, remove the wrap, throw it away, and one minute later I notice a dark red streak on my sleeve.*  But today was awesome!  I was blood free after removing the wrap.  

It made me think a little about how vital patience is in our lives.  The adage is true that says the best things in life are worth waiting for.  We have patience as it helps us to overcome the faults and weaknesses we have.  We are willing to accept God’s will and His timing.  We have faith and hope to wait for the Lords promised blessings.

For Valentine’s Day, how wonderful is the example of Jacob from Genesis chapter 29.  Jacob meets and falls in love with Rachel.  He promises her father, Laban, that He will work for her seven years.  The passage reads “And Jacob served seven years for Rachel; and they seemed unto him but a few days, for the love he had to her.”  Jacob is instead given the older sister, Leah for a wife.  But with the love and patience Jacob had, he served another seven years and was able to have Rachel as a wife.  How many of us would work 14 years for the spouse we have?  Let us cherish those we love, and have patience with them.  Let us see the good qualities, and try to lift them up in all we do.

*F.Y.I. Hydrogen peroxide works really well to get the blood out, wash with cold water in the sink, and then send through the laundry ;)

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Finding Some Light Because of Cancer

I love the video at the bottom! :)

“The light of the body is the eye: if therefore thine eye be single, they whole body shall be full of light” – (Matthew 6: 23).  Have you ever noticed how some people just seem to have a real glow about them?  Some people, all we have to do is make eye contact with them and suddenly our day is just a little better.  These people seem to expel sunshine from their face, something truly angelic.  I notice for myself, as I meet these people in my own life, I am drawn to them, and I have a desire to be close to them.  I do not believe this is happenstance, but rather a part of something which they have truly a part of them.  The source of this inspiring light is Jesus Christ.  He is the light we need to let shine for all men.  I know as we focus on serving and following Him, the periods and pieces of darkness in our lives can made clean and whole through the sacrifice and atonement of Jesus Christ.

Striving to make the light of Christ a part of us takes a daily effort on our part.  It is a continual effort of putting off the natural man, and turning, and then yielding our hearts to Jesus Christ.  Just as cancer can erode us physically, sin also can damage us spiritually.  Just as recovering from cancer is more involved than a simple pill, repentance also is much more than a simple confession in our lives.

Friday, February 4, 2011

The Plan of Salvation on Prezi

I recently finished a new prezi presentation on the Plan of Salvation, or plan of happiness which God has for us.  I do know God loves us, and I know we do have a purpose here on earth.  Take some time to read through it, and learn, where we came from, why we are here, and where we are going after this life.

We're Off To See The Wizard, Because . . . ?

Reading novels and watching movies is something which has always brought a lot of joy to me in my life.  I love getting into a story, to learn and grow with the characters.  Many times, I think it seems their lives are so much more exciting than the life I have.  But then, now I think of it, my life has not been condensed into a few hundred pages or few hours.  The stories of each of our own lives really are something far more intricate and detailed than any book could completely tell.  But, what is the quest we have all embarked on?  Do all of us realize what our purpose here on earth is?  We aren’t slaying dragons, we aren’t saving the earth with our super powers, and we aren’t trying to find a wizard to send us home.  What is it we are doing?  What has God designed for us to accomplish, and how can we do it?

Many of the stories and adventures we read give us an example and have many parallels to our own lives and the things we need to do, although, I am not sure how many of these have been intended.  In particular, the classic story of The Wizard of Oz gives us a great example of some parallels in our own life.

In the beginning of the story, Dorothy is taken to the Land of Oz.  Although not entirely sure how she was able to get there, she knew where she needed to be.  Dorothy’s experience in the Land of Oz was not a permanent situation, much like us, we are all trying to find our way home.  Dorothy had the path paved for her; there was the yellow brick road which pointed the direction for her to go.  It wasn’t easy for Dorothy to follow the path, there was an evil witch chasing her providing obstacles along the way.  She met a scarecrow, a tin man, and a lion, each who had a quest and need of their own.  They were all able to support and help each other in their journey.  They learned many things, including the reality of the “Wizard,” to support each other in the struggles they had, and how to overcome their own fears and doubts.  But, even after all Dorothy did and learned, she was still unable to make it all the way home.  She found herself powerless to continue where she wanted but was able to find the power outside of her through the ruby slippers.

Monday, January 31, 2011

Better Than Digging Diamonds

Looking back on myself ten or twelve years ago, I wonder what my past self would have thought if I knew some of the things I value now in my life.  One in particular is maintaining a clean living place.  I know for a fact I am able to work harder and more effectively as I keep the things around me clean and organized.  I know the habits I have developed come mostly from the persuasion, perseverance and diligence of my Mom.  Just about every Saturday growing up, before we were allowed to do any other activities, my Mom would give each of us some chores we had to do.  While it is something I value now, it often seemed more of punishment growing up and nearly impossible to get everything done in one day.  Now, I think I could have gotten many of the things done in 30 minutes if I had really just started working on it.  As it was, it usually ended up taking me all of the morning and most of the afternoon as I would drag my feet with everything I did.  I very much appreciate my mother having the patience and dedication to help instill in us these habits.  I am sure it would have been easier for my mom to just do everything herself, but because of her taking time to do the extra work, I have found the value of working

I have found with many things in life, we seldom value things as much as when we have taken the time to work for them.  Learning to develop a habit of working is vital to us finding lasting satisfaction, joy and peace in this life.  In a recent conference address, Elder Christofferson talked about the value we can find in our own lives from work – “Hard-earned achievement brings a sense of self-worth.  Work builds and refines character, creates beauty, and is the instrument of our service to one another and God.”  I know many times we think how nice it would be if we could just spend a day doing nothing.  But take some time to remember how you feel on those days.  As we take time to do nothing, many times we feel like nothings.  As we learn to work, we learn to achieve, and as we achieve we can find value in our lives. 

With work, I am reminded of the Seven Dwarfs from the Disney Classic Snow White.  As they work, they sing this song;

Friday, January 14, 2011

The Little Tree—It Looks so Green, Yet is so Dead

I have at my desk a little tree.  It is still very green, as you can see in the picture.  I acquired it about a month or two ago.  Some of the seeds from a Maple Tree here at the MTC had sprouted early for some reason, and there were several little trees growing in the ground.  Being the middle of winter, I figured the trees wouldn’t last long, and they would soon be dead.  I had also thought it would be nice to have a plant here with me in the MTC.  How cool would it be to have a tree which I had found on my mission, and then nurtured and grown myself?  I could plant it somewhere, and then come and see it years later.  It could be a land mark for generations.  I could see it in my mind, posterity telling little wide-eyed generations of children “that is the tree which great-grandpa Spencer saved on his mission.”  I can imagine many other such things, most definitely involving a tire-swing of some kind.  But, I won’t bore you with those.  Don’t be fooled, while the tree still if very green, it is about as crispy as a twig in a furnace, completely dehydrated and certainly overcooked.  I haven’t thrown it out, yet.  I do have faith that it may yet revive.  But it made me think a little about how much life is sometimes like growing a tree.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Testimony of Melanie

With every person we teach, I feel I am finding more and more that what and how I teach is not always the most important thing.  I love the verse in the Doctrine and Covenants 42: 14 “And the Spirit shall be given unto you by the prayer of faith; and if ye receive not the Spirit ye shall not teach.”  It is the Spirit that is the real teacher.  We need to have it as missionaries, and the investigators need to take time to find it themselves.  In order to understand the fruit of the gospel, it is important to get beyond the peel, but really get into the fruit so we can taste it for ourselves.  So we can see the fruit and the blessings of it in our lives.  Melanie is one person who we were recently able to meet and work with a little.  I feel she was able to see the truth as she took the time to delve into the gospel and taste the fruit for herself.  She was recently baptized just before Christmas, and she was kind enough to let me publish her testimony below.  This is one she wrote just before she was baptized.

Friday, January 7, 2011

♫ ♪ Getting To Know You ♪ ♫

I talked in an earlier post about how often here at the MTC I am able to reconnect with friends and acquaintances.  Another blessing of serving here is the new people I am able to meet and the new friends I am able to make.  I do feel very blessed as I have met so many different people.  One thing I have found interesting is how much my perception of people change as I get to know them better.  It often is not until we get to know each other that our personalities come out and we learn more truly the character of the person.  In the same way, I have noticed how much this applies when talking about the Gospel and Jesus Christ.  We cannot truly know how good it is until we are able to try it for ourselves.

Jesus Christ is the Son of God, the Savior and Redeemer of the World, a perfect being.  But yet, Isaiah describes him like this;

“He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not.  Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows; yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God and afflicted.  But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.  All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all” -Isaiah 53: 3-5

Christ being the epitome of good was certainly not recognized as being such.  These verses cause me to ponder very much, “How is it that the people could have rejected Jesus Christ?  With the miracles He performed and with the good He was able to do, how could people reject Him?  After all, He healed all the sick and afflicted who came to Him, He walked on water, and He raised the dead.  Jesus Christ was certainly one person who was misunderstood.    Maybe a little more unsettling is Isaiah’s prophecy that “all we like sheep have gone astray.”  How can we be sure we are following Christ, how can we know we have accepted Him?  It is these last questions which I wish to answer now.

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