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.