Thursday, December 31, 2009

Travis Loves Getting Letters

Blogger won't let me put this on his side bar so for now I'll list his new address on here until I can figure it out.Hawaii Honolulu Mission
1500 S Beretania Street
Suite 416
Honolulu, HI 96826

Curbside Drop Off At The MTC

When we dropped Travis off at the MTC they were doing curbside drop-off again. There's a parking lot to the east of the MTC where we took pictures. You're only allowed one car to enter the MTC parking lot so if you have more family than that you can stop here to say your goodbyes and take pictures. It was bitter cold that day.
When you drive through the driveway there are guides to show you where to go. When you stop you're immediately met by an escort. He helped unload the luggage.

There was a brief heartbeat for one last hug from mom and dad.

Then the escort takes over. The red folder held all of Travis' paperwork that he had to hand in right when he entered the MTC (medical, etc.).

The escort took charge of hooking the luggage together....

and walking Travis in.
It's a bittersweet moment watching him walk away.....

and blending into the crowd. Now the work truly begins for Travis.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

And Here It Is...

So today is the day I report to the MTC. I was set apart as a missionary for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints last night. Funny story actually, the exec secretary forgot to put my name down that I was supposed to be set apart last night. So my family waited for about half an hour before we got a hold of my stake president and he was able to make his way to the stake center. Is this a good sign?
Well I just wanted to say I'm so excited to serve, nervous as crap, but excited. I can't wait to put that name tag on and get to work, it's going to be the most exciting part of my life. There is a song that came on my iPod yesterday and I see it fit to post the lyrics here. I couldn't find the song for the playlist, probably because it's off this years EFY. But here are the lyrics to it.

I Will

I've made my choice
Mark this day
The day I pledge to take his name
I will be strong, I will be brave
Standing for Him as I take my place
I have felt the spirit burn truth in my heart
It's in my heart

I will stand I will not fall in a world that's weak
I will be strong
I'll be true I will choose His way
I know what's right, and I will not change
In a world where so many will not
I will

I may be one, but one becomes two
When you stand with me and I stand with you

As we unite, our cause is great
We're not just the candle, we are the flame

I will take the light it gives me and I'll hold it up high
I'll hold it up high

I will stand I will not fall in a world that's weak
I will be strong
I'll be true I will choose His way
I know what's right, and I will not change
In a world where so many will not
I will
There is the link to listen to it, it's an amazing song.
So here I go! Off to serve the Lord for two years!!
My sisters and mother have so kindly offered to keep this blog updated. So any updates will be from them :)

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Music Is The Souls Sigh

I love music. Music is one of the most important things to me. I listen to it everyday, nearly every minute, and love searching for something new.
About a year ago I stumbled upon a christian artist, Jeremy Camp. I instantly fell in love with his music and find myself listening to it quite often.
A little background on this particular artist; he was married about ten years ago to a woman named Melissa. She was diagnosed with Ovarian cancer, and died a year after their marriage. As any man would be, he was devastated over the passing of his new wife and found himself questioning God's plan for him. When he found out she was diagnosed with cancer he wrote the song "Walk By Faith". Later after her passing, he learned to accept God's will and resembled that in the song "I Still Believe". This example sets a high bar in how we all need to live by what God has in store for us, not what we have in store for ourselves. He has been blessed with a new wife and two daughters now.
Anyways, to continue on, he has written some amazing music, and I love listening to it all the time. If you have not heard any of his music I strongly encourage you to look up the songs I mentioned earlier, or they are also in my playlist. I also consider his song "My Desire" the "theme" to my pre-missionary experiences. That is why it is number one in my playlist below.
He tours the country a lot singing, and giving sermons to those in company. He constantly mentions how he knows Christ love him, and how God lives and he has been working hard to serve him. He is an ordained minister, and is very strong in the sense of knowing God loves each and every one of his children. I encourage everyone to listen to his songs, and stretch their boundaries in the christian genre of music. There is so many good artists like Jeremy Camp out there, who I love listening to. It's clean, uplifting music, and you feel closer to the Savior by listening to it. Leaving for two years will bring the sacrifice of not listening to JC, but that is something I can deal with as I try to make the spirit my constant/musical companion. Jeremy Camp has affected me as an artist as he has taught me humility, love, and the desire to teach the people about the gospel of Jesus Christ.
For behold, the field is white already to harvest; and lo he that thrusteth in his sickle with his might, the same layeth up in store that he perishth not, but bringeth salvation to his soul.
D&C 4

Monday, November 9, 2009

I Love To See The Temple

The temple has played an essential part in my mission preparation. I love everything about it, the work that goes on, the beautiful landscaping, the architecture of the building, everything. It's such a beautiful place, and so peaceful. Even just being on the ground I can feel at peace. When I walk through those doors I can feel the Saviors presence. It's such an amazing place.
I obviously can't go into anything that happens inside the temple, as members of the LDS Church hold the work sacred, as do I. It's a sacred work and saving ordinances that are performed.
Anyways, I attend the temple as much as I can. I go every Thursday night, and a little more. Whenever I feel the impulse to attend, I do. I love going with family, friends, and its a special experience to attend by myself as well. It's been such an amazing testimony builder as I have attended at least once a week since I received my endowments on September 22. I have many favorite temples across the world, Such as San Diego, Washington D.C., Las Vegas, Salt Lake City, and Logan. I've told my mom constantly, someday I'm going to call you and tell you I've met my future wife, and we're getting married in the San Diego temple. That temple above all is my absolute most favorite.
Since I've received my endowments, I've also made a little "Journey to the different temples of Utah". So far I have attended Logan, Jordan River, and the Bountiful temple. I hope to attend Salt Lake City before I leave on my mission. (I'd try to attend the Provo temple, but we already know I'll be going there while I'm at the MTC! :)
If you don't know the history behind the Salt Lake Temple, let me hurry and tell it to you. At the time of the pioneers in the 1800's, there had been two temples constructed. That was the Kirtland, Ohio, and Nauvoo Temple. (The Nauvoo temple was destroyed as the saints were run out of the United States into the Utah Valley). They were commanded by God to build a temple in their new land. After 40 years of construction and work, this picture you see of it is the end result. It is an absolute beauty to look at it from the highway, temple square, and anywhere else. It is a HUGE temple, and full of many different rooms that other temples don't have. This is the temple that the prophets and apostles go to. This is the temple that Jesus has appeared in. I want to share a story, something well known but not well known about the Salt Lake Temple. At the time, Wilford Woodruff was president of the church. His health was failing, and Lorenzo Snow went to the SLC temple and pleaded to God to let President Woodruff outlive himself. This next part is a quote from his son.
While in the temple, President Snow
. . . poured out his heart to the Lord. He reminded the Lord how he plead for President Woodruff’s life to be spared, that President Woodruff’s days would be lengthened beyond his own; that he might never be called upon to bear the heavy burdens and responsibilities of the Church. “Nevertheless,” he said, “Thy will be done. I have not sought this responsibility but if it be Thy will, I now present myself before Thee for Thy guidance and instruction. I ask that Thou show me what Thou wouldst have me do.”
After finishing his prayer he expected a reply, some special manifestation from the Lord. So he waited,—and waited—and waited. There was no reply, no voice, no visitation, no manifestation. He left the . . . room in great disappointment. As he was walking through one of the temple hallways, he saw before him, standing above the floor, the Savior of the world. He was told that he was to be President Woodruff’s successor. He was again instructed “to go right ahead and reorganize the First Presidency of the Church at once and not wait as had been done after the death of the previous presidents.” Passing through the Celestial room and out into the large corridor this glorious manifestation was given President Snow which I relate in the words of his grand-daughter, Allie Young Pond. . (This is his grand daughter now). .One evening while I was visiting grandpa Snow in his room in the Salt Lake Temple, I remained until the door keepers had gone and the night-watchmen had not yet come in, so grand-pa said he would take me to the main front entrance and let me out that way. He got his bunch of keys from his dresser. After we left his room and while we were still in the large corridor leading into the celestial room, I was walking several steps ahead of grand-pa when he stopped me and said: “Wait a moment, Allie, I want to tell you something. It was right here that the Lord Jesus Christ appeared to me at the time of the death of President Woodruff. He instructed me to go right ahead and reorganize the First Presidency of the Church at once and not wait as had been done after the death of the previous presidents, and that I was to succeed President Woodruff.”
Then grandpa came a step nearer and held out his left hand and said: “He stood right here, about three feet above the floor. It looked as though He stood on a plate of solid gold.” Grand-pa told me what a glorious personage the Savior is and described His hands, feet, countenance and beautiful white robes, all of which were of such a glory of whiteness and brightness that he could hardly gaze upon Him.
Then he came another step nearer and put his right hand on my head and said: “Now, grand-daughter, I want you to remember that this is the testimony of your grand-father, that he told you with his own lips that he actually saw the Savior, here in the Temple, and talked with Him face to face."
That's my favorite story involving the temple, and how spiritual it is. To actually have our Savior show up in his literal house is beyond amazing. This is why I love going, to be where the Savior is, and to be in his presence. I'm so excited to attend the Laie Temple and the Kona if the chance is given to me. Temples are beautiful buildings on this earth, as well as they should be. Whoever is reading this I strongly encourage you to go to the temple on a daily basis. You will receive revelation for your personal self, and comfort for trials that are coming or are here. If you haven't gone through, or are preparing to go on a mission, GO ONCE A WEEK!! It's the BEST thing I've done, and it takes away the stress that serving a mission brings. I can honestly say I'm stress free about leaving because I've received comfort from my Heavenly Father in His house. My last two weeks here I plan on attending (hopefully) every day the temple is open, to receive anything else from my Heavenly Father that I will need as I leave and enter into the MTC as a full time missionary for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

La Parents

So my last post I went through my brothers and sisters and didn't do anything on my Ma and here goes!!

I'll begin with my Ma! She hates it when I call her Ma, but I've been calling her that ever since I fell in love with Everybody Loves Raymond, it. haha but She's a pretty darn good Ma. She helps me out when I'm sick, buys me food, makes me food, is helping pay for the mission..she's a kind lady. I can tell how the gospel has affected her life and I love seeing how God works into her everyday. We go to the temple a few times together, and it's been fun. We attended a session at the Bountiful Temple just a week ago, and it was a special experience. Now my ma doesn't like having pictures of her on the internet so forgive the picture on this one, but it's her fault haha.
So this picture is of me and my dad when I went through the Logan temple for the first time. My dad is my literal hero and he has set such an example for me to live by. He's shown me forgiveness, mercy, and love. We talk sports, watch sports, and take an interest in each others life constantly. He's too old to play sports ;) haha or um...beat me at sports, let's go with that. But we sure bonded. The man works his fingers to the bone and still finds time to spend with us kids, and it's pretty amazing. Just shows me that no matter what happens in life, we will always be together forever and he'll be there for me no matter what.
So this is my ma and pa, sorry it's not really longer, but my parents know I deeply love them with all my heart. I know I have their full support as I go to serve the Lord.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Families Can Be Together Forever

So my post before I emphasized how much friends have meant to me, this one I really want to talk about my family. In the days of the restoration, Elder Pratt stated that through the Gospel we can learn how to "purely love" our family. I know that's true. Since I've become active in the church I've noticed how deeply and "purely" I love my family. Since my family consists of 6 members (including myself) I kinda wanna talk a little about each one. (I consider Brandon and Jill family too :) ). So I begin with my youngest sister, Kellianne!!
This girl is the weirdest, randomest, craziest girl I know. But she sure keeps me happy!! Ever since she was born we've always shared this unbreakable bond. We do everything together and always hang out together. She'd always come with me to hang out with my buds, we did paper routes together, sold pizza together, now we work at Subway together. Her..unusual interests are what keeps her who she is. I love her with all my heart!! She's always been there for me, and I hope I can do the same :)
Next is my older sister Brianna!!
Brianna didn't always like me as a child, well...because everyone loved me (she admits it). She and I never really got along until I started doing things for her and she saw how useful that is. We really bonded when her missionary left on his mission to Mexico and I listened to her be sad, and I took her to buy some Reeses at Maceys. I'm happy she found the love of her life, cuz I sure love that kid too. Anyways to continue about Brianna...she set a real example for me through her tithing and being a constant church attending member. I looked up to her in that respect and have tried to apply that in my own life. She was the first one I told when I had 100% decided to serve a mission.
So now to move onto my sister in law..Jill. We haven't fully bonded yet, she's too shy these days. But we make fun of each other a lot and I like to hate her raccoon fur coat...(that's just not cool haha). When my brother lived at home me and Jill had more time to talk and we always went to Maceys to buy food..or to Maverick. Good times...but she's too good and married and living too far away for that now haha.

So now we move to the man she brother Nicholas (or Nick.) Nicholas is a big time gamer, and that's how we have always hung out, haha. We don't have the happiest of stories though..Nicholas and I just did not get along. I would do things to annoy him purposely, and he would do things to make me mad. It was an interesting household with us two haha, but regardless of the situation we were still brothers. After we both turned to the church and really got involved, we really started getting along. We're best of friends now, and we hang out a lot. He's my temple buddy to, we always, or for the most part, go to the temple together and discuss what we learn after every session. My brother is a kind compassionate man now, married, but still kind. He's a busy guy with work and dealing with the mrs...but we still find time to hang out together. (In fact in an hour we are partying for the Jazz season opener!!!). I love my brother, he set the bar for me and I hope I can live up to it. (Or surpass it cuz I'm still better at basketball/football/insert sport here).
So that leaves one last member of the family. Brandon is my brother in law...and I love this kid. He served a mission in Wisconsin (spanish speaking) and from the time he arrived here in the family we instantly clicked. This picture of us two was taken in the summer of 05, but it reminds me of how we bonded and became best buds. After he returned from his mission he came to Utah and stayed the summer. During this summer we always hung out. Watched movies, played Halo, listened to music, played name it!! It was one of the best summers I've had! Brandon is the best guy my sister could have married, because of the great example he is to me, and the inspiration he has given me to serve my mission! He may be a Raiders/Eagles fan..but we sure get along!
This is my family, and of each individual I love with all of my heart, and they hold a sweet spot in my heart as we are seperated for two years. I hope that through this love I can teach other families how special and important each member of the family is. Families can be together forever, and the gospel is centered around Christ, and families. (Don't worry ma, your turn is next with pops!!)

Sunday, October 25, 2009

You've Got A Friend In Me

I wanted to use this chance to just talk about how friends have influenced me to serve a mission, and how they have changed my life. I haven't always been the best of kids, the most church-going, or anything along those lines. This picture is of Kamille, me, Nick Whitesides, and Janaea. We just had the opportunity to hang out this weekend and listen to Nick play. (Nick is in a band called Double Or Nothing, GREAT band!!). Anyways, this is just some of my friends who have pushed me through the hard times. Who have taught me that when the going gets tough, the tough gets going. I have always turned to friends when I feel down or when I feel like things aren't right. They know everything about me, and I do my best to be there for them. I have too many friends to name off or describe how they have influenced me in particular (and I don't wanna forget anyone.). So I'll just tell stories of a few random people. For instance, Kamille, has been there for me since as long as I can remember. I look up to her as a friend ( could I not?? She's six foot eight..) I always text her when I need advice. The best help she's been was back in my senior year. A girl had torn things off between me, and a role model of mine (Casey Calvert) had passed away. It was a pretty dark time in my life and I was really down, but Kamille cheered me up. I remember she came into Subway and we talked for about three hours after I got off work. Words of comfort are always inviting.
I have a few friend I look up to as missionary examples for me (I'll get to Brandon in my family post!). But for those who are a little older and have returned, or are, serving missions, I heed their every word of advice as much as I possibly can. I really try to take to heart what they teach me, so I can better prepare myself when I leave for the MTC.
Another example, was just a few days ago while I was working. I wasn't having...the best of days..and I was pretty upset for reasons. I hate feeling angry or mad, because it's a tool of the devil, and if he can fester up the anger in my heart, I can't feel the tender spirit that the Lord has blessed me with. Anyways, I asked God to send someone to cheer me up. Send people in who I know have been good influences on me, or have just been nice to me, to cheer me up again. Sure enough, a good handful of people listened to the spirits prompting, and came to a friend in need. It was reassuring to see the Lord's work to help me maintain the spirit so I don't leave with grudges or any type of things like that.
I've had many friends who have come and gone in my life, basically I was a temporary friend who they needed in particular friends, but not after that. I don't like to be that type of friend. I keep contact as much as I can until I get the vibe they don't want me around anymore, than I leave them alone. Sadly enough, I've lost a lot of great friends and contacts because of this.
But one friend has had such an incredible amount of influence on me since I became serious about serving my mission and I want to kinda point him out. His name is Ajay Salvesen, and he is my mission prep teacher. This kid has had an enourmous amount of influence on me as a person, in the shortest span I thought of. I picked up my papers in February, and that's when I started attending mission prep. From the very first lesson to my last in a month(ish), have changed my life for the better. I know he doesn't like being told he's a good teacher, or things like that (he likes to throw it out to the class, which is good too). But this is my honest belief here, I don't think I would even be close to serving a mission to this day if it wasn't for him. It might be in my list of things to do, but I wouldn't be serious about it. I may have my call, but I wouldn't feel prepared like I do today to serve. I wanted to really share with everyone who reads this, what a tremendous guy he is. He listens to the spirit constantly, teaches with it, and lays it out how it is. This picture of me and him was taken on September 22, the night I recieved my endowments. The only picture we have together, but we'll get another one.
Everyone who I have talked, or thought about (you guys know who you are!) have helped me maintain my desire to serve a mission, and helped me get to this point that I'm at today. A lot of my friends are already serving missions, and I may be one of the last back, but these missions will change our lives, and we'll draw closer than ever before. (I've already seen it happen as they are out in the field.) Below is me with two of my closest friends. Brian Yates (who is serving in Louisville KY) and Ryan Bell (who is serving in the West Indies mission) My friends mean the world to me, and I love them with all my heart. I wanted to take this chance to say..Thanks!!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Turn In Papers, Get A Call

So to follow my other post I kinda just want to explain how you become a missionary for the Church Of Jesus Christ Of Latter Day Saints. Things that will qualify you for a mission is that 1) You're a member 2) You have a testimony 3) You have a desire to serve 4) At least 19 years old (21 for women) 5) You love the gospel. So first off, you have a meeting with your bishop. In this meeting the bishop asks you simple questions as far as your faith in the church, and in God, and worthiness. If the bishop sees you fit to be worthy to be an LDS missionary, he will give you your mission papers. In the old days you had to fill these papers out by hand, which took forever. These days, you can fill it out online, and it took me roughly two months. The papers are full of basic questions like health, ancestors, availability date, family history, medical papers (these have to be filled out by a doctor and dentist), language classes you may have had, and anything else that would influence where you would go. After these are filled out, you send them to your bishop. You once again have a meeting with the bishop with the same basic questions, and if he finds you worthy they are sent to the stake president. Your stake president than interviews you, and sends your papers into church headquarters in Salt Lake City.
Well, I had my papers done, filled out, and ready to go in July. After a few weeks of waiting (it takes roughly two to three weeks in Utah to get your call), I went up to my bishop asking if my papers had been sent in and if I should expect it on wednesday (everything in the mission field happens on wednesday, so does recieving your call for most.) He gave me unfortunate news. He told me my papers can't be sent in until the end of August, because the church won't accept papers that aren't within 100 days of your availability date. I was a little let down, but patience is a virtue! So I counted down until the 100th day of that countdown.
In between these times, my papers had been sent in my accident (a confusion with my parents and the stake president). So for five hours I tried to get a hold of my stake president to have him stop the papers and not send them in. He informed me that they would get sent back and he would change the availability date (he thought it was in October.) So anyways, the 100th day arrived, which so happened to be a sunday. I was excited to finally have them in and wait for only two more weeks. So I tried calling my stake president to see if he had sent them in yet...but he didn't answer. I waited a few days to call him again.
Well that wednesday, I had a horrible day at work. I was furious for whatever reason and didn't want to be around anything or anyone. But the beauty of God's grace is He has a different plan. I walked out to the mailbox that day, and I toyed around with the thought in my head that my call would be there. I didn't actually expect it though because in my knowledge, the papers were sent in three days ago, and SLC isn't that fast. Sure enough.. my call had come and it was sitting in the mail box waiting for me to read it. I ran down to my mom and showed her and asked if I should have this. She had a scared look on her face and thought I would be leaving in October. (financial reasons, I couldn't leave till December.) I tried calling my stake president but there was no answer. I was excited and didn't care when I go, as long as I had my call. So I called up all my family members and we met at my brothers to read my call. So we sat around in a circle and all made guesses of where I could go. We had a good idea that I would serve in the states because of my heart condition, which limited me from going too foreign. Before I guessed something told me that I was going to Hawaii, but I laughed and guessed Oregon (showed me!). I thought Hawaii isn't a mission, I've never heard anyone going there, that's a vacation and tourists spot, not a mission. Well...I read into my call which read, "Dear Elder Smith, we hereby call you as a missionary for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints." and I saw just below the bottom line, it said Honolulu, and as I was reading out loud, my brain kept thinking where's Honolulu? Where's Honolulu? ohh...snap...I'm going to Hawaii!! My family saw my face get pretty big and they waited in anticipation for me to announce where I would serve for 2 years. I don't remember much after I read Honolulu, Hawaii, just my mind racing and wanting to go scream out to the world where I would be serving. Thankfully, my stake president got my date changed and stressed that I couldn't leave until my selected date, and I made sure to thank him. I remember when I told him though he sighed and said, "Some people just have it all." haha funny man.
This happened clear back in August, but it's still a story I'll remember forever. Honolulu might sound like a vacation to anyone reading this, but it's still a mission, still the Lord's work. It's still the same work being done in Hong Kong, Russia, United States, Brazil, anywhere. It's just more of a unique mission because of the history and scenery. I'm excited to leave, but I'm more excited to serve and tell the people of Hawaii (and any tourists I may talk to) about the message of the Gospel and that the Gospel has returned to the Earth.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

The Start

Welcome to my missionary blog. For this blog I want to specifically dedicate it towards thoughts on serving an LDS mission, maybe the process for how to become a missionary, and just random things the Lord decides to inspire me with. :)
For starters, I've been called to serve in the Honolulu, Hawaii mission, and I report to the MTC December 9. So just a little under 2 months. For the period of my mission I will have my sister/mother update my blog for those who want to know what's going on in Hawaii and what people change my life, as well as me change theirs.
So to begin, for this blog I just want to share my testimony. For future blogs I'll think of something! (I need Breezie to show me how this works, crazy huh!?)
I know that the Church Of Jesus Christ Of Latter Day Saints is the true church on this earth. I know that our savior and Heavenly Father came down to this earth and gave Joseph Smith the keys to restore the Gospel that was long lost after the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. I know Joseph Smith was a true prophet and was guided by Jesus Christ for his entire life. It's a witness to me that the many prophecies that have been fulfilled, especially the one that his name will be loved and mocked across the world until the end of time. (It's so true). I know that God loves me and that Jesus came to this earth to save us. I know that through the atonement we can return back to our Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ. I'm so thankful for the Gospel and what it's done in my life. And I look forward to being able to share this message with the people of Hawaii.