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 (well..how 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!!