Thursday, March 24, 2011

Yes, I was a Nanny

If someone was to ask me what I was doing on any given day before 24 March 2010 (the day I left on the mission), a safe bet would be that I was with my niece's and nephew's. They are my everything. It all started when I held my oldest nephew Parker for the first time almost 14 years ago. The relationships I have with them give my life so much meaning and fill it with some of the greatest joys I've experienced. Each one of them saved my life. That's the honest truth. It's because of them that I pulled out of the funk I was in for 10 years and decided that I needed to be a better person. I first changed for them. They have taught me so many valuable lessons. It was the 9 months I spent right before coming on the mission being a "nanny" that I learned the most.
After getting active in church again, I had difficulty deciding whether I would come out on a mission or not. After getting my Associates Degree I came to decision making time. I knew I did not want to continue on at the same school for my Bachelors, so I needed to decide if I would go on a mission or continue in schooling elsewhere. After much prayer and fasting, I knew that I needed to come out. I had some things to take care of before I could go, so I decided to move to my brother's house in the Salt Lake area. It was after bumming around at his house that I kind of fell into watching his kids while he and his wife were at work. I had a 3 month old bouncing baby boy that I cared for from morning until between 3-5 pm as well as the other four at various different times in the day. My love and appreciation for the sacred trust of being an uncle grew more and more over the 9 months I was privileged to spend with them while I prepared to come out.
Today is a sobering reminder of what I left behind. One year ago today, I came out on the mission. Today is also OJ's 2nd birthday (my youngest nephew...he's in the picture on the left). The greatest obstacle I have faced while being out on the mission is missing him and my other nephew's and nieces. There was one day in particular, the hardest day of the mission for me, that I wanted to go home and see them because I missed them so much. I tried to put it out of my mind. I tried to just work through it, but none of it helped. I went into a room and just sobbed and sobbed. For anyone who knows the type of relationship I have with my nephew's and nieces, they can understand how difficult being away from them is for me. I was praying for help and guidance, and this scripture came into my mind. It is Alma 7:11-12 and it is talking about what Jesus Christ would do for each of us.
"And he shall go forth, suffering pains and afflictions...of every kind; and this that the word might be fulfilled which saith he will take upon him the pains...of his people.
 12And he will take upon him.... their infirmities, that his bowels may be filled with mercy, according to the flesh, that he may know according to the flesh how to succor his people according to their infirmities."

I remembered this scripture and was reminded that Jesus Christ took upon himself all things, even when I have a case of the wheepies and am missing the fam. With this reaffirmed knowledge, I was able to get out and go to work trusting that I will be able to see my family soon enough and that He would make sure they are ok. It always gives me comfort to know that we are only away from our loved ones for a little while. Christ gives us the opportunity to have our families be forever and eternal. I know that is true, and I will do all that I can to make sure that that happens for my family. I am out here on a mission working to bring that same possibility to the people of Montana and Wyoming. It's a great day to be a missionary!

To learn more about how families can be forever, click here.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

One year

Mixed emotions right now. I'm feeling a little weirded out. It's been one year since I said my farewell's to my family, friends, and the life I once knew. One year ago tomorrow I was thrown into the mix and became a full time missionary for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I had no idea what I was getting into! I didn't realize how difficult missionary work could be. I didn't realize how challenging teaching can be. I didn't realize how complicated finding could be. I didn't realize how arduous being without my family, especially my niece's and nephews would be. Most of all, I didn't realize how demanding the Lord would be with His work. After my first day as a full time missionary, I determined I knew two things:
  1. I was not as prepared as I thought I was.
  2. It didn't matter, because I knew that the Book of Mormon was true.
 I have come to a few new realizations since that fate full day of 24 March 2010. I didn't realize then that I would become a new person. I didn't realize that I would be able to talk to anyone, anytime, anywhere. I didn't realize that I would be able to work 14-15 hour days, 7 days a week. I didn't realize that I would find out that home was not just in Utah, but also in Lander Wyoming, as well as Lewistown and Billings Montana. I didn't realize that I would be led to some of the best friends I would ever have. I didn't realize that God is aware of my every trouble and pain. Of my every heartache and sorrow. I didn't realize that I would have more fun than ever before in my life. I didn't realize that I would be tried and tested so much, yet each time have my faith in Jesus Christ strengthened more and more.

I knew the Gospel before I came out. I had experienced it's transforming power. But I had no idea what was in store for me. I had no idea that the Lord would bless me so much. I have seen so many miracles in this one year of service, and I am terrified that I only get one more. One more year is all that the Lord has allotted me. After one year of service I have determined I now know 7 things:
  1. The Lord uses weaklings like myself and qualifies us for His work.
  2. God the Father lives.
  3. Jesus Christ is the Savior of the world and through Him we can return to our Heavenly Father.
  4. Joseph Smith was a prophet and through him the gospel, Christ's church and priesthood were restored.
  5. We have a prophet on the earth today, Thomas S. Monson, who is the Lord's representative.
  6. The Book of Mormon is the word of God.
  7. Coming on the mission was the best decision I ever made.
I sure do love this work. It's great to be a missionary!

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Music on the brain...Part 1:

Another post about music! It's amazing to me how stirring & powerful organized tones & sounds can be in our lives. It's fascinating to observe how music can change our moods, feelings, & attitudes towards commonplace occurrences. If we listen to angry & aggressive tunes, we tend to be contentious & combative ourselves. If we fill the air waves with positive & uplifting melodies, our moods and minds will be more harmonious for ourselves and those around us. We truly do get what we put into life, & the refrains we sing have a prodigious affect on what we get back. That's why we as missionaries are encouraged to use the Hymns of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints everyday in our proselyting efforts.

The Lord has made clear His feelings toward music. He states in the Doctrine and Covenants "For my soul delighteth in the song of the heart; yea, the song of the righteous is a prayer unto me, and it shall be answered with a blessing upon their heads." Hymns have a profound way of instructing us on becoming more like our Savior. In the introduction of the LDS Hymn book, the First Presidency of the Church wrote, “Some of the greatest sermons are preached by the singing of hymns. Hymns move us to repentance and good works, build testimony and faith, comfort the weary, console the mourning, and inspire us to endure to the end.” I am grateful for Hymns in my life. The promise of hymns moving us to repentance, building faith, inspiring us to endure to the end & so on have all been evident in my life. For the next few posts, I will be writing about some of my most treasured & favorite hymns & share my feelings & testimony of how they have helped me in my life. Stay tuned! 

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

I miss my ipod!

As a  missionary, we don't listen to certain types of music. We steer clear of most of it so that we can have our hearts and minds focused on the work that we are engaged in. I for one was obsessed with listening to music before I came out on the mission. I listen to it all with reggae and rock music being my main styles of choice. I am a little ashamed to say, but one of my only concerns about going on a mission was the fact that I wouldn't be able to listen to some of those songs that have become so much a part of my life.

As I have been out, I have noticed that certain songs that I used to listen to continually pop into my head. It is surprising to me at the most frequent ones that rise into my consciousness. From Simon and Garfunkel to Bob Marley, as well as every Beatles song that I have ever heard. If I had a dime for every time 'Her Majesty' by the Beatles came into my head, I would be rich enough to get a better education so that I didn't have to use a cliche' like this one. Sometimes I am a little creeped out when I start to hear nothing but Party in the U.S.A. by Miley Cyrus. That song is so dang catchy it makes me want to scream!

I have always loved what I call "Church" music. It's usually the stuff that I would turn on when Sunday came around. I have grown to love it even more as I have listened to it everyday of the mission. What I listen to now turns my thoughts to the Savior and His mission and helps me to stay focused on why I am out here. Don't get me wrong, one of the first things that I will do when I go home is plug in the Ipod and listen to some Fat Freddy's Drop. But for now, I am grateful for songs that are uplifting, edifying and motivating. One of the songs that have helped me remember my purpose as a missionary is by the Christian rock band 10th Ave. North. It is entitled "Times" and is a dialog between a repentant person and the Lord. These types of songs are why the Lord has really given us the ability to create music. Check it out!

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

I love Hebrew Reggae

I named my blog after a song that I love by the Hasidic reggae artist Matisyahyu. These lyrics help get me through some tough times when the road gets rough. Here's a little explanation of what I think of when I hear the song.

"Planting seeds, they won't sink in.
I'm dried up, like the desert earth, how could these seeds give birth.
Water me down, liquefy, I will not be cursed!
From one into a million disperse."

As missionaries we 'plant seeds' by getting out and doing missionary work. We want to see these seeds sink into the ground and spring forth bearing fruit, or people receiving the gospel. Sometimes it seems like our efforts are futile. But we can't let it bog us down. We have to remain determined and remember that no effort is wasted.

"Wisdom reigns like water from heaven to below.
Crush my earth, seeds sow, garden start to grow.
You know you've got to rise, though you like to flow.
You can't keep staring out the window."

I love this section because it reminds me of God's promise that His work will go forth and that no unhallowed hand can stop it from progressing. We have to rise above, not flow down the path of least resistance. It will prosper for us as missionaries as long as we aren't idly 'staring out the window'. We go to work and eventually, we will see the harvest.

"Earth, water, wind, fire we stay low while getting higher.
Spark igniter, fighting tired
Stay wired, enlighten loads.
Stay alive, weep wail chant, cry, let out a sigh
Energized, give out my last dime, life shouldn't pass me by."

It's all about work right here to me. If we keep going, even when we are tired and do our best to do all that we can, the Lord will give us strength. He will keep us moving forward, helping us to fulfill our promise to give all that we can. Life won't pass us by, because we will have given our life, or our own will, and found Eternal Life in the process.
"Rise, to the occasion.
Keep these hearts all blazin.
Build your life on a river of wax.
Melt into space, we've been here since the beginning, not going away.
Not going away....."

We can't truly succeed at this of ourselves. We don't have the strength to do all that is required and asked of us. The Lord must be our strength and our support.

The song goes a lot deeper for me than this. This little synopsis is some of the basic thoughts I have with it. But that's just my take on it. What do you think?