Monday, February 6, 2017

2016: Year in Review

A bit late this year (not surprising since I’ve neglected this blog in favor of Mormon Geeks for a lot of last year), but despite the “tragedy” that was 2016, I had a good year. So it’s worth going back over.

Neatest Place You were in 2016
I had a lot of great adventures this year. Disneyland was amazing of course, especially with my little niece and nephew. I also always love the Sacred Grove. As far as new places, I went to Oregon/Washington for a retreat and that was wonderful. Granted, I didn’t see a lot outside that retreat, but that was good. I also took a spur of the moment trip out to Virginia/DC which was thrilling for me. Great to see some amazing friends and visit the DC temple, where my parents were married 33.5 years ago.

Biggest Surprise of the Year
I had many big surprises this year that were a bit too personal to share online. One that I will share is how I surprised myself by taking a spur of the moment trip (only buying my plane ticket nine days beforehand) to visit some great friends (one of them didn’t know I was coming until he showed up).

Dan (on the left) didn't know I was coming. hehehe.

Best Movie/TV Show You Watched
I watched some great stuff this year. “Jessica Jones” was great (though I could have done without the three gratuitous sex scenes… had to take my headphones off for that); it was engaging and suspenseful. “Moana” was wonderful in challenging me to test my limits and stretch myself to be more myself. I also watched “My Name is Khan” and “Temple Grandin” as research for my final research paper at BYU on how autism is portrayed in the media. Of all the things I watched, those two were the most accurate in my opinion.

Goal for next Disneyland trip: Meet Moana

Saddest Day/Time in 2016
Saddest time was just all the goodbyes I went through. After the retreat I went on, it was hard to say goodbye to new friends. After Virginia, it was hard to say goodbye to my buddies. Sucks to live so far away from good friends.

Saying goodbye to these two is always hard.

Happiest Day/Time in 2016
Happiest time this year had to do with the spiritual environments I was in. The Sacred Grove is always a wonderful place for me. This year I got to go with my friend Greg while he and his family were in Palmyra for Pageant. I also was blessed to be able to attend multiple Christian music concerts. My favorites were Matthew West performing “Grace Wins” (one of my favorite songs ever right now) live and being able to sing along.

I got to meet Matthew West and thank him for "Grace Wins"

Best Book/Magazine You’ve Read
I’ll be honest… I don’t know if I read any new books. Definitely nothing of significance. I did however finish the Book of Mormon again at least once this year. Always great to keep going through the word of God.

Things you will remember from the news
More like things I wish I could forget from the news. So much fuss over celebrity deaths. Don’t get me wrong; it’s always sad when someone dies, but celebrities rarely have a personal impact on my life. Also there’s all the election stuff… I feel like Facebook has gotten much more political. Maybe I’m just noticing it now.

Even more annoying now after the fact.

What would you like to do in 2017?

Lots I’d like to do. I want to travel lots. Being out of school now I want to take advantage of my singleness to visit friends, see new places, and have quality time with family. Canada, DC, and NYC are all on my list.

Maybe Disney again this year too? Probably not but I can wish

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

The Sacred Grove

It was about a month ago that I arrived at the Hill Cumorah Pageant. While I was there, I had a couple opportunities to visit the Sacred Grove. It is my favorite place in the world (yes, even more than Disneyland) and like I did last time, I wanted to share my testimony that I recorded there:

I know the Lord lives. I know that He has been there through all my pains and setbacks, waiting for me to come to Him. He came to Joseph in this Grove and I know He'll come to me if I seek Him. By my Savior's Atonement, I am strengthened each day. Without Him, I can do nothing. But with Him, I can do anything He asks. He changes my life each day by the prompting a He gives me. He has changed me and He will continue to change me. He loves me so much that He is willing to break my heart, in order to get me to a place that is better than I could ever dream.

I say this in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

My Origin Story

The grades are in. I’m done. My last class at BYU is finished. The only thing left is for my diploma to come in the mail. The end of my seven years at BYU has made me reflect on how I got to this point. I’ve been noticing just how different I am from the kid who graduated from high school in Southern Alberta. As a result, I knew I wanted to write this post.

I tossed it around in my head back and forth whether I wanted to write this for my blog or for Mormon Geeks, but I felt that it fit best here. Maybe it’s cheesy to call this my origin story, but it kind of makes sense in a way. While I still lack super powers (keep my fingers crossed though, right?) I have grown much more than I thought I would.

Back in high school and middle school, I was into Yu-Gi-Oh, Digimon, Pokemon, Harry Potter, LOST, and probably some other stuff too. But no one could know. At least not about the weirder stuff like the anime. I don’t remember if I was every explicitly teased for those things when I was in high school, but it was always a worry.

Fast forward seven years to today. I’ve done things I never thought I would:

  • I’ve been a missionary, maybe not as long as I thought or in ways that I expected, but I’ve been able to serve the Lord.
  • I have best friends. In middle school, the idea of having a best friend was only a dream. Now I have many close friends. I wish I got to see many of them more, but I know they’re there.
  • I went to a football game (both American football and real football) and I enjoyed it. Granted it had more to do with the company I was with, but go figure that I had fun.
  • I’ve opened up about the parts of my life that I once thought were the deepest and darkest. Now they’re my greatest teachers.
  • I’ve learned two languages and forgotten one. Technically I can’t say I ever learned ASL, but I learned some. However, I did learn Spanish. I became more proficient in Spanish than I ever was in French, which I have more or less lost at this point.
  • I learned that I like hiking. In Scouts, I hated it, but maybe that had more to do with not having friends in Scouts. Now I love exploring (I should really do a hike sometime in the near future…)

  • I’ve been to Disneyland. TWICE! And I’m going back this fall. Be jealous.
  • I learned to travel alone. Since my mission(s), I have flown on my own to California, Louisiana, Michigan, New York, and Spain. I used to think flying was so complicated, but I’m doing a pretty good job at it now.
  • I learned that I like working out! I had a curiosity about it before, but now I crave that hour so two at the gym each day. It gives me a high that I thoroughly enjoy, even when I feel super sore.
  • I’ve embraced my geekiness. Whereas in high school I hid it, now I flaunt it. I dress up as video game, movie, and TV show characters for Comic Conventions and any other opportunity just because it’s fun. Heck! I write for a blog entitled “Mormon Geeks”. How much geekier could it be? Seven years ago I would have NEVER done that! I even played Quidditch that one time for Garrett’s birthday.
  • I learned that I like to drive. In high school, I was scared of driving. I didn’t want to get my license because the idea of getting in a wreck was so scary. Now I drive nearly every day and I depend on it way more than I wish I had to.
  • I’ve visited Central America! Granted it was only for 6 hours per day for three days, but I got to visit Belize, Roatan, and Mexico briefly during our family cruise. Despite traveling from Canada to the US throughout my life, I’d never got further south.

  • I got to be a best man in a wedding. Well, kinda. Garrett didn’t have groomsmen at his wedding, but I did take charge of the bachelor party and I may have (or may not have) decorated his car at the reception. Never mind the fact that I was blown away to have real friends, I never expected to have that close of a friend.
  • I’ve attended several concerts! Granted, where I grew up was not conducive to attending concerts, but I wasn’t enough into music to care. Now I’ve been to four concerts in the past four years (possibly another one this year too).
  • I willingly participated in the Hill Cumorah Pageant again and alone. Both times previous, I had been in the cast with my family, but in 2014 I made the step and joined the cast by myself. It was scary not knowing anyone, but it must have been okay since I’m going again (flying out this Friday).

  • I went to Europe! I spent two months in Spain on a study abroad. Especially since I didn’t feel 100% comfortable with the language, this was a big step. Also, it was scary because I didn’t know any of my classmates before I left. One of the best decisions I made at BYU to learn Spanish and go to Spain.
  • I started running and I like it! What is it with all of these athletic things that I enjoy now? I hated running in gym class, but now I’m running to get a high to deal with stress. What’s going on with me? One of the highlights of my day is putting Netflix on and watching an episode of whatever on the treadmill. Also my two Dirty Dashes. I never thought a mud run would be appealing, but I love it!!!
  • I’ve met celebrities! Granted all of the celebrities I’ve met so far have been Doctor Who actors, but who cares? They’re my celebrities. I even got to interview a couple of them this past Comic Con FanX.
  • I got a full time job before I’d even graduated! I’ve been working at Chrysalis for a year now, but I became a house manager in January, six months before I was done school.

I honestly can’t say which of these things surprises me the most. As lost as I feel at times, in some ways that’s what’s best. If I knew what was going on in my life, I wouldn’t have applied for this job when I did, I wouldn’t have taken the risks that I have, and I wouldn’t have gotten to know myself as well as I have. As much as I don’t think at times that I know who Spencer Ficiur is, maybe I know him better than I think. Maybe he’s more confident than I give him credit for. 

“And I do this for a wise purpose; for thus it whispereth me, according to the workings of the Spirit of the Lord which is in me. And now, I do not know all things; but the Lord knoweth all things which are to come; wherefore, he worketh in me to do according to his will.” (Words of Mormon 1:7)

The most surprising thing… Tonight, I feel at home in the world.

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Becoming My Dad

Wow. I haven't written here in nearly six months. That's probably due to writing for Mormon Geeks and finishing school and working full time (being an adult is busy, guys!). But anyways, no complaining about being an adult today (I actually kinda like it).

As today is Father's Day, I feel like it's the obligatory thing to say something about my dad today. So why not?

This is my dad, Rob Ficiur. He's a dork and we (his kids) like to make fun of him. He wears a fanny pack, he tells long stories that I don't always see the point of, and he has this bad habit of collecting audiobooks on CD and cassette tape (much to my mom's annoyance). As a result, I cringe a little when I look to buy audiobooks, realizing that I'm acting like my dad. In fact, when I was visiting my family last month, I mentioned to my sister-in-law that as I drove late at night, I put on an audiobook to help me stay alert, just like my dad. If I remember correctly, she told me that I'm becoming my dad. Part of me wants to cringe. At the same time, is that such a bad thing?

One of the blessings of having studied families in my undergrad is that I learned a lot about my parents. My parents are amazing. Most people know my mom is a convert to the church, but less people know that my dad is a convert. When my grandparents got married, my grandma was less active, so for the first decade of his life, my dad didn't go to church. If I'm remembering details correctly, it was when he was 12 his aunt started taking him to primary (which wasn't as bad as pre-teen Rob thought it would be). Fast forwarding, he started going to church, but his dad didn't let him get baptized until he was 15 (that was decades before my grandpa would eventually get baptized, but that's a story for another time). I say all this to say that I've been very impressed by my dad's testimony and faith. He took himself to early morning seminary since his dad wouldn't drive him. He served as a missionary for 18 months (missions were slightly shorter at that time). He followed the prompting to pursue a marriage with my mom, who he had every reason to NOT date.

Overall, my dad is one of the most Christ-like people I know. He has patience beyond what I can fathom, as he has taught a one-room classroom for decades covering seven or eight grades at one time. He is full of love, as he serves and has served so many people. He is an amazing friend, as I recently saw him interact with such love to a good friend of his. He is an amazing dad and grandpa, showing love to his kids that I want to emulate when I'm a father.

One of my favorite memories of my dad as a kid is when he'd tuck me in at night. For whatever reason, I had a cassette tape with the Goofy Movie soundtrack and we got into this routine of singing the song between Max and Goofy near the end of the movie: "Nobody Else But You". So whenever I think of Goofy and Max, I think of my dad.

In my teenage and adult years, my dad had become one of my closest friends. I have been able to grow close to him, opening up about the things that bother me or that I'm having a hard time with. He listens to my frustrations and he helps buoy me up when I struggle.

I know several people who have problems with Heavenly Father as a result of their experience with their earthly fathers. On the flip side, I'm grateful for a father who has given me an amazing example of what a father is like, which has helped in my relationship with Heavenly Father, bringing me closer to Him. 

Sunday, January 3, 2016

2015: Year in Review

Another year, another go at the family tradition. Here we go :)

Neatest Place You were in 2015
            Spain! During my study abroad we went all over Spain. My favorite places throughout the country (or at least the three I always tell people about) are Córdoba, Barcelona, and Granada. I was amazed by how much I loved the country. It was beautiful and it felt almost familiar to me. It was a wonderful opportunity to work on my Spanish (still needs work) and get cultured.

Biggest Surprise of the Year
            My biggest surprise this year was work. I quit my job at the MTC Bookstore back in April when I left for my study abroad in Spain. Partway through my study abroad, I learned that I wouldn’t be doing EFY as I’d planned (more on that later), so it became necessary that I start looking for other work. I applied at company called Chrysalis (helping clients with cognitive disabilities live as normal of a life as possible) and got an interview with them shortly after getting back from Spain. I’d originally thought I’d just work as a support staff until I graduated and then MAYBE apply for a full-time position as a house manager or something at the office. In November, the opportunity arose to apply for a manager position, so I applied, because why not? I didn’t get the position I applied for, but they offered me a different manager position at a new house they were setting up, but wouldn’t be open for a couple months. I accepted and did manager training. Then last week I got the news that the new house was taking longer to set up than they originally thought, so instead they wanted me to be manager at the house right next door to where I’ve been working. So I’m going into my last few months of school with a full-time job. I’m both excited and scared! This will be interesting!

Best Movie/TV Show You Watched
            For this one I’ll just lump all of the Marvel Cinematic Universe together. I started really getting into it this year. I saw Avengers: Age of Ultron while I was in Spain (I thought I was going to have to wait until the end of June to go see it) and then later on in the year I saw Ant-Man. Loved both of them! Also, I got into Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD show on TV. A lot of people had issues with season 1 of that show, but I honestly loved it (granted, I also binge-watched the first two seasons of the show over two grave shifts). This year I’m looking forward to Captain America: Civil War and Doctor Strange.

Saddest Day/Time in 2010
            Finding out I wouldn’t be doing EFY. Still don’t know why. Probably never will. I am just grateful to my Heavenly Father for helping me through that hard time. It still hurts at times (I remember crying uncontrollably the day I found out), but at least I’ve been able to see God’s hand through it. For example, if I’d done EFY this summer, I wouldn’t be starting as a manager at work this month, having a full-time job secured before I’m even graduated.

Happiest Day/Time in 2010
            In August, my little brother Tyler got home from his mission. That made it the perfect time for everyone to go back to Alberta for the first time since our family cruise two years ago. With everyone home, and both sets of grandparents there, we got a bunch of family pictures done and I got to spend time with all five of my nephews (as well as all of my siblings, of course). I’m grateful for my family and the temple covenants that bond us. We have our issues, like every family, but I love them.

Best Book/Magazine You’ve Read
            Oddly enough I’m going to pick a textbook. “Spiritual Exodus” was the textbook I used for my Addiction Recovery and Healing class. Great gospel perspective on addiction and finding recovery, both for the addict and for the spouse. My professor from the class (the one who wrote the book) is working on a website for it as well. So that won’t cost $40 at least.

Things you will remember from the news
            What I will remember from the media is the response to the new church policies this fall.  I’ve intentionally steered away from this subject on my blog, so I will just say this on the subject: I know that God calls prophets and apostles to lead us and to teach us His will. I do not know the meaning of all things, but I have a faith in God that includes the equal chance for all of His children to reach the Celestial Kingdom, regardless of their situations.

What would you like to do in 2016?

            Lots of things I want to do in 2016. I got accepted for the Hill Cumorah Pageant again, so (pending getting work off) I’m going there. I’d also like to graduate (planning on walking in April). I’d like to do another mud run this year, since I enjoyed the Dirty Dash. I also wouldn’t mind getting a girlfriend or at the very least going to Disneyland again. I’m mostly just looking to some more adventures and growth in the next year.