Thursday, December 9, 2010

Forward with Faith

This song is from the EFY 2000 CD. This song is called Forward with Faith (hence the title of this post). I first heard this song while I was on my mission and I love it! There are some specific words from the chorus that I love: "Fear is like the clouds that veil the Earth from the sun. Faith is like the morning rays that break when night is done. And though the fear inside me says that all my hope is gone, faith in Heaven lifts me up and shouts "I've just begun!""

For those who don't know, I am fully fledged on getting back on my mission, though I don't know exactly when or how that's going to happen. It's definitely not happening before next May (I'm going to a semester of school first) but I'm positive it's going to happen. However, sometimes the adversary will get at me and try to get me to doubt my ability to serve again. To that, my faith lifts me and shouts "I've just begun!" I still have a lot of work to do, and I'm not giving up!!! I will keep fighting until this war against sin is over!

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Locked Out

During the last week that I was in the Heart Lake ward on my mission, I had one of my anxiety attacks (one of the ones that ended up bringing me home). Because I wasn’t able to work, because of the anxiety attack, my companion (Elder Call… you’ll probably hear a lot about him) took me to the temple grounds, since the temple has a calming effect on me. However, since this was a Monday, the temple was closed and the gate into the temple grounds was locked.

After the stress that I’d had, I had really been looking forward to being on the temple grounds on that day, but the most of my body I could get onto the temple grounds was the front of my foot. However, I got a little bit of an interesting insight from this experience.

After finding myself locked out of the temple grounds, I promised myself that when I got to the gates of the Celestial Kingdom, I would not be locked out. I’ll do whatever it takes to ensure that I won’t be trying to sneak my foot under the gate, just so that part of me is in the Celestial Kingdom. I will live worthy to gain entrance to the kingdom of my Father.

(The photo at the beginning of this post is a picture I took of the Toronto Temple that night, when I was locked out)

Monday, November 22, 2010

Be Still and Know

Today was a little bit of a hard day for me (for some reason). I think it was because I didn't sleep very well last night. Regardless, it's just after 10 PM now and I felt about as worn out as I could possibly feel and the noise at my apartment was suddenly too much. I closed my computer, turned on a specific song on my iPod and really took in the words. They touched my heart and brought tears to my eyes. Here they are:

Be still and know that He is God.
Be still and know that He is holy.
Be still, oh restless soul of mine,
Bow before the prince of peace
And let the noise and clamber cease

Be still and know that He is God.
Be still and know that He is faithful.
Consider all that He has done.
Stand in awe and be amazed.
Know that He will never change.
Be still.

Be still and know that He is God.
Be still and know that He is God.
Be still and know that He is God.
Be still.
Be speechless.

Be still and know that He is God.
Be still and know He is our Father.
Come rest your head upon His breast.
Listen to the rhythm of
His unfailing heart of love
Beating for the little ones
Bidding each of us to come
Be still.

The imagery of that last part... "Come rest your head upon His breast. Listen to the rhythm of His unfailing heart of love"... that's what I needed, I think. The image in my mind of being held in the arms of my Heavenly Father in my times of trial... It's what I desire the most right now... I know that as I follow His will, I'll make it to where I will be able to be held in His arms one day.


Sunday, October 17, 2010

The Best... 3.5 Months

This is a video slideshow of my experiences on my mission, at the MTC and as I served in the Canada Toronto West Mission. Though I came home early and though the anxiety was overwhelming at times, it was the best 3.5 months of my life.

Friday, September 17, 2010

A Step Into the Dark

So we didn’t expect me to personally post on here again so soon, huh? Here’s the deal now…

I’ve come home from my mission early. Because of the normal stresses of a mission and my having Aspergers, as well as other random stresses of life I was having, my stress was compounded and by the twelfth week I was in the field (15 weeks total), I was becoming less and less effective, to the point where I was having mental breakdowns almost every day. As a result, President Brower (my mission president), who had known about the building stresses for some time, with the advice of Brother Miller, a psychiatrist at LDS Family Services in Etobicoke, Ontario suggested that I take a break from my mission. Last Tuesday (September 14) President Brower told me that I was officially being extended an honorable medical release from my mission, with the possibility of returning when this is all sorted out.

Now some may wonder why I’m going into so much detail on this. I know that my parents have told me that I don’t need to explain all the situation in detail to anyone, but I am not ashamed of being sent home early for medical reasons, even if they are psychological medical reasons. I know for a fact that my Heavenly Father is pleased with the work I performed in Brampton, Ontario these last three months. He has blessed me so much for all that I’ve done and I wouldn’t trade those three months for anything.

I’m not sure if I’m going to go back to my mission, to complete the other 21 months. I honestly don’t know. All I know is that right now, I’m where Heavenly Father needs me. I would love to go back and finish, but now it’s more important to me to follow my Father’s plan for me. For all I know, those three and a half months were all He needed me in the field for.

But even if I don’t go back, I feel as though I’ve had a full mission experience (not that I would say no to more of that experience, of course): I was able to participate in a saving ordinance for someone we’d taught (Louie). I had an amazing companion who was more amazing and charitable and loving than I could have ever expected (Elder Call). I experienced being transferred to a new area (out of Creditview and into Heart Lake) and white-washing that area (for those of you who don’t know, white-washing is when both missionaries are new in the area after a transfer). I experienced how it felt when an investigator who is so close to baptism has to delay that amazing blessing because they don’t believe they can pay tithing (Tek). For three days, while my companion was at leadership training, I even got to experience being senior companion. I experienced the efforts that go into reactivating people and families. I even got to teach a Sunday School class one week when the Ward Mission Leader was away! Not only did I have all these experiences that most missionaries have, but because of the things that happened to me, I think I may have had more interaction with my mission president in three months than some missionaries have in two years.

I have no regrets coming home. I know for a fact that my efforts have been accepted by the Lord. Seven months ago, I didn’t know if I’d ever get to serve a mission at all. Perhaps those three months I got were just Heavenly Father’s way of granting my wish, before having me move on to bigger and better things. I don’t know. Those three months mean everything to me. If it’s part of His plan, I know that there will be a time when Heavenly Father will send me out again. Until then, my mission president said to live like I’m done my mission, but work toward being able to come back.

One thing I really want to get across in this post is the same as something I said to my mom as I called her from President Brower’s office, just before leaving for the airport: This is right. There is a powerful testimony in those three words, as President Brower noted to me afterward. How amazing is that that I know that this is right? Many people have wondered, since I got home, if I’m okay. I assume it’s because many missionaries who come home early for medical reasons get depressed. That’s not me. By the time I got to the mission home on Wednesday to go to the airport with President Brower, I was at peace with this.

I know that I’m on the path of where my Father needs me to be. I have no clue what that is, but I know that He knows and He will lead me by the hand as I take each step forward into the dark. His plan is perfect and it’s by following His plan that we can and will obtain the greatest happiness.

I say these things in the sacred name of my older Brother and Savior, Jesus Christ. Amen.


Sunday, July 4, 2010

First Week in Brampton, Ontario

Thursday morning we went to the mission home, got interviewed by President Middleton, and got assigned trainers. My trainer is Elder Call, from Arizona. We're serving in the Creditview Ward in Brampton. He's a great companion. I really admire how he can talk to anyone about the gospel without fear (I'm working on getting over that fear).

Last weekend, we taught Louie. He's a twelve-year-old boy whose mother died recently. He lives with his aunt and uncle on the weekend, who are members of the church. So last weekend, we got to teach him twice. Saturday, we gave him 2 Nephi 31 to read and pray about and on Sunday we went over the chapter with him. It was cool to hear what he said he'd felt while he was praying. He said it was weird, like he was in a dream or something, but he said it was a good feeling. I know he felt the Spirit.

We also taught a 26-year-old man last weekend whose name was Damien. He's an interesting guy. I won't got into a lot of depth about that, but I kind of felt like while we were teaching him, he wasn't open to listening to the Spirit. He's nice and everything, but I felt like he was trying to just listen to us and not to the Spirit. Maybe that's just the way new investigators are... I'm not sure.

The ward here is great though. But later on Sunday, we went to teach Louie for the second time that weekend (like I mentioned above) and when we got there, Sister Ocampo (Louie's aunt) was very cheerful, telling us to come in, and basically forced us to have some food (even though we had a dinner appointment for about an hour later, haha).

I do have something really exciting to look forward to this week. On Saturday night, last week, the district leaders called and gave us some instructions about emailing the mission president (they said to email President Brower, the new mission president, instead of President Middleton, the old mission president) and they reminded us about district meeting, but the thing that really got me excited was that there's a temple trip this Friday! I'm going to have to get up ridiculously early to go, but I'm so excited to get to go to the Toronto Temple so early in my mission.

That's all for now, I guess. This church is true. There's no way it isn't. I want to work so hard to get over the fear of talking to people, so that I can share with them what I know. I'm so excited!!! I want you to know that I know that Jesus Christ is our Savior and Redeemer. Not only will He save us from our sins, but He will also help us through our trials. I've felt that help from the Savior. I know it's real. I know that there is power in the scriptures. I love reading the scriptures. They are amazing!!! I've learned that that is how Heavenly Father helps us the most. We can say all the prayers we want, but unless we're willing to look for the answers, He can't give them to us.

Elder Ficiur

Sunday, May 30, 2010

In the Hollow of Thy Hand

This is going to be my last blog post before I leave on my mission. Earlier today, I was set apart as a missionary. Tomorrow, we leave for Utah. While I’m gone, this is what I want to get out of my mission and what I want to have while I’m gone. It’s basically all said in the song “In the Hollow of Thy Hand”.

Dear Lord who blesses us with love
Please send this day thy Spirit from above
As this thy son, accepts a call from Thee
Help him we pray to learn humility

Direct his footsteps everyday
And keep him ever walking in Thy ways
Inspire him as he spreads the gospel plan
Lord, hold him in the hollow of Thy hand

In the hollow of Thy hand as he grows from boy to man
Help his understanding deepen and increase
In the hollow of Thy hand as he grows from boy to man
Let him know the special blessing of thy peace

Dear Lord, who hears and answers prayers
Please keep Thy servant always in Thy care
As he prepares to teach his fellow men
Oh keep him safe and bring him home again

Protect him from all worldly ways
And always send Thy spirit when he prays
Give him the courage of a righteous man
Just hold him in the hollow of thy hand

In the hollow of Thy hand as he grows from boy to man
Help his understanding deepen and increase
In the hollow of Thy hand as he grows from boy to man
Let him know the special blessing of thy peace

As he faces life’s demands
May he take a valiant stand
Give him shelter in the hollow of Thy hand

Saturday, May 29, 2010

I'll Find You My Friend

After getting back from Provo in April, I started going through my boxes of stuff that were in storage here. I’ve been repacking them and getting rid of a bunch of my stuff. In going through the boxes, I found a note that my Tribe Leader gave me when I went to Moroni’s Quest in 2005. It really touched me as I prepare for my mission. This is what it said that touched me:

There was this place called the pre-existence, where we lived with our friends so dear. A council was called and plans were made; free agency is why we’re here. Our Savior said, “Please find my lost sheep, and teach them and bring them home.” I promised my Savior I’d find them, and teach them the way to go.

My time has come to teach the gospel. There are souls out there who are gold. The gospel of Jesus Christ rolls forth and this is what they need to be told. And if your joy be great with one soul, you have taught and have brought unto me. How great will your heart be exalted, to bring many unto me.

I’ll go and find you my friend, I’ll help you. Our Savior’s plan is the way. Please accept me when I find you, and we’ll be back with Him some day. Remember the worth of souls is great in the light and the sight of God. Look and search and teach His sheep to find the Iron Rod.

I’ll find you there my friend.

I promised to find my friends and I have every intention to keep that promise. This is what I am keeping my mind on as I leave this coming week on my mission. I say this in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

My Heavenly Father Loves Me

A week or so ago, I called Juliana to talk to her. If I remember correctly, her brother picked up the phone. I asked to speak to her, but she was busy playing the piano, so he left the phone near the piano for her to pick up after she was done. The song she was playing was “My Heavenly Father Loves Me” (page 228-229 in the Children’s Songbook). I’d forgotten how beautiful this song was and how much I’d loved it. To me, it proves that Heavenly Father does love us, because of all the things He’s given us. I’d like to show you (with the lyrics, some pictures, and some commentary) what some of those things are.

“Whenever I hear the song of a bird…”
This picture was taken by Garrett on the BYU campus. He’d heard a bird chirping and finally found the little bird at the top of a big tree. To me, the chirping of a bird (especially in early spring) says something special to me. During winter, the birds are all gone, so as the birds return, they start chirping throughout the day and the beautiful noise they make is kind of a sign from Heavenly Father to me that winter is ending and that the happy warmth of the spring sun is almost back.
“…Or look at the blue, blue sky…”
This picture was taken in front of the Idaho Falls temple, two days after I got endowed. It was also Easter Sunday. My family was getting together for Easter in Idaho Falls and my parents invited Garrett to come with me. The blue sky in this picture is just so beautiful to me. It makes me think of how pure I felt… there was something about me getting endowed that my friends even noticed. Garrett noticed it after I came out of the temple that Friday (which happened to be Good Friday), but he didn’t mention it to me until Monday as we were getting ready for school. He told me that after I came out of the temple, I looked “changed”. Later that day, on our way to a class, Juliana mentioned to me that I looked “older”. This is a testimony to me of the power of God and the holiness of his temples. It wasn’t just a ritual that I went through, when I got my endowment. There was a change in me. Now, I feel more pure, just like that blue, blue sky.
“…Whenever I feel the rain on my face…”
This picture was taken the Sunday of conference back in October. Courtesy of Becca and her parents (she wasn't going to BYU at the time), we got to go to Sunday afternoon session of conference. It was a rainy day, but we wanted to take pictures around Temple Square regardless (after conference). The thought of rain, in relation to this picture and this song, make me think of the primary song “When I Am Baptized”. The first verse of that song talks about how the Earth is washed clean after it rains. Personally, I love the smell of the air after it rains. It smells so fresh and clean.
“…Or the wind as it rushes by…”
This picture was taken back in September (wow that seems so long ago…) during the first trip I took to the temple with Garrett and Juliana (though I think they might have been too full that day, so maybe it wasn’t our first real temple trip). I remember that I had Garrett take a picture of me by the temple, because I wanted a new picture for my Facebook profile and I wanted the picture to be by the temple. As we were taking the picture, the wind kept blowing my tie all around (as you can see in the picture). I love the wind though. On hot summer days, the cool breeze feels amazing. To me, this is like a gift from Heavenly Father, a cool breeze to keep us cool when it gets too hot.
“…Whenever I touch a velvet rose, or walk by a lilac tree…”
This picture was taken just yesterday, outside the Cardston Temple. I went there with my little brother and three of my friends to do baptisms (actually, I did the baptizing). I know this isn’t a rose or a lilac, like the song says, but I had some thoughts on these two flowers. They were planted in a patch of dirt that was along the pathway to the baptistry at the temple. They were the only flowers along that path. Whether other flowers merely hadn’t grown yet, or if they hadn’t been planted, I don’t know, but I found it odd that only two flowers were there in a patch of dirt about two or three square feet in size. These two flowers had to be beautiful on their own, just like we have to be beautiful (or righteous) relatively on our own in a world that is ugly and wicked.
“…I’m glad that I live in this beautiful world Heavenly Father created for me.”
This picture was taken on the very last day that I got to spend with my friends in Utah. We had to be out of our apartments by ten o’clock that morning. So afterwards, we went to Garrett’s grandparents’ house in Orem, where we hung out for a few hours, since my dad was at a conference in Provo and Becca and Juliana could spare the extra time. Before Becca and Juliana left, we took pictures together in pairs and in a group. This was one of our group pictures. The majority of the pictures we took that day, we took by a bench that was by a flower garden that Garrett’s grandparents had. Their house (both inside and outside) was so peaceful. Thinking back to that day, the flowers in the garden, which are in a lot of our group pictures, relate quite well to this song. They are one of the beautiful creations that Heavenly Father made just for us.
“He gave me my eyes that I might see the color of butterfly wings…”
I took this picture back in 2007 when I went to New York with my mom and with my brother Brian. We were visiting one of her uncles and happened to go for a walk through the forest that was (partly) on his property. Though I didn’t do a lot of photography of nature back then, I saw this butterfly on this flower and thought it would be cool picture to take. Though this butterfly isn’t very colorful, it is beautiful. I love seeing the colors on the wings of butterflies. The designs and colors on the wings of butterflies are so beautiful. It reminds me so much about how great an artist Heavenly Father is to design each butterfly, each snowflake, and each of us to make us unique and beautiful.
“He gave me my ears that I might hear the magical sound of things…”
This is a picture that Becca took early in Winter Semester of Garrett playing his clarinet (sorry, Garrett. I didn’t have another picture of you actually playing your clarinet and I have no pictures of anyone else playing an instrument). Throughout Winter Semester, I got to listen to Garrett play his clarinet nearly every day, until his band class and his clarinet class finished. I don’t know if I loved it at first, but I definitely grew to love it more and more throughout the semester. Though I’m not musical, I really love music. All of my best friends (it seems) are musical. Sometimes I wish I was more musical so that I would understand better what they’re talking about, but usually I just feel really grateful for their musical talents that they are able to share with me to enrich my life. Music really is one of those things that, though you don’t need it to live, makes life worth living. Truly, music is a tender mercy from our Heavenly Father that He has given us to make us happy.
“He gave me my life, my mind, my heart. I thank Him reverently for all his creations of which I’m a part.”
These pictures match the three things that that line of the song mentions. The first picture is my mom holding me on the day I was born. Heavenly Father gave me my life that day. He allowed me to come into this mortal world to be tested. He sent me out, having faith that I would prove faithful, thus returning home to Him someday. Each day since, He has blessed me with continued life. Each day, through his mercy, He grants me life by providing food to eat, water to drink, and air to breathe. The second picture is a picture of me at my high school graduation. Heavenly Father gave me my mind, my ability to learn. I truly believe that it was with His help that I was able to get through high school, with all the challenges I had. It was with His help that I was able to complete a year of university already and with grades that my dad says he didn’t get all throughout university (or at least his freshman year). The third picture is of me with my best friends: Garrett, Juliana, Becca, and Braden. This was two days before we left Provo. The fourth picture is of my family, this past Easter in Idaho. These two pictures, I feel, represent my heart. My heart is filled with love for my friends and my family. I wish I could have put more pictures here to show all of my best friends, but I don’t have room for each of my best friends to be on here. Heavenly Father gave me my heart. To me, this means He gave me the people that I love: my friends and my family. I thank my Heavenly Father every day for the many blessings He has given me. He truly has blessed me beyond what I can say.

“Yes, I know Heavenly Father loves me.”
This picture is from when I opened my mission call. The cell phones have my family (and Braden) on speaker phone, listening. On the left, Cami is holding Garrett’s phone, which had Jared on the line. Next to her, Melissa is holding her phone, which, I think, has my parents, Tyler, and Brett on the line. Next to her, Juliana is holding two phones. In her left hand, she’s holding Becca’s phone, which has Jen on the line (who I believe was at my nephew’s soccer game when I called). In Juliana’s right hand is her phone, which has Braden on the line. This was a very special day for me. After all the delays and waiting, I finally got my mission call. During the wait, I longed for the chance to serve a mission. I wanted them to just stop the analyzing and give me my call. Finally, after a month and a half of wait, it came! The day I opened my call, I had seven of my friends in my apartment. Becca, Garrett, and Juliana were there, but I knew they would be. I also had three friends from my Fall Semester chemistry class there too: Kaycy, Melissa, and Cami. Finally, there was Kaitlyn, a friend of mine from Pageant who was staying with a sibling during Winter Semester, before going back to BYU-I. That night, I could tell so strongly that my Heavenly Father loves me. First of all, He granted my request, letting me serve a mission. Second, He gave me my a wonderful immediate family (nearly all of whom were on the phone) in addition to a great extended family. Thirdly, He gave me great friends who wanted nothing more than to share that night with me as I opened my mission call.
I know that Heavenly Father loves each of us. His love for each of us, individually, is perfect and He wants to do all He can to help us come safely home to Him. I remember once hearing someone say something to the effect of “We don’t want to go home nearly as much as Heavenly Father wants us to come home.” I know this is true. I know that He has blessed me beyond my understanding and far beyond what I deserve.
I say this in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Canada Toronto West Mission

Below is a map of the Canada Toronto West Mission, where I’ll be serving for the next two years. Geographically it’s a big mission (especially in comparison to Utah missions, like where my brother Brett served (Salt Lake South Mission) where his areas were measured in streets, if I remember correctly).

Ever since getting my call, I feel like I keep running into people who served in my mission. Immediately after I opened and read my call, I remembered that someone from my ward, who was good friends with my brother Jared, served there. Not long after that, I remembered that my EFY counselor from 2007 served in my mission the same time that Jared’s friend did (they even knew each other while they were there, though they weren’t companions). Then I found out that Jared has another friend who just got back from my mission. And that’s just the ones I can remember off the top of my head.
From my 2007 EFY counselor who served in my mission (who was very excited to hear that I was going to his mission), I learned that the Toronto West Mission has many different cultures and people. He told me that you can’t find a more exotic, culturally diverse mission. Shortly before leaving BYU in April, I was able to have lunch with him (he’s currently working on his Master’s Degree right now) and he told me a lot about the mission. One thing in particular that he told me that was that, from what he’d seen, the people were receptive to the message of the gospel. My guess would be that they probably aren’t as receptive as many missions are in South America.
I’m so excited to be able to serve the Lord in Ontario. Especially after worrying for so long this year that I wouldn’t be able to go, I know how precious a privilege it is for me to be able to serve. I know that as I prepare to serve, He will bless me. I know this church is true. I know that I have been called of God to preach the gospel. I know that it was by inspiration that I have been called to Ontario to preach the gospel and to invite others to come unto Christ. I know that true happiness only comes through living the commandments of God. I’m so excited to help other people to come to know this too. I know that the Book of Mormon is the word of God and it was translated by Joseph Smith by the power of God.
I say this in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Getting Left Behind

A couple weeks ago, I went to the Provo temple with Garrett, Juliana (one of my best friends, here at BYU), and Braden (one of my best friends from the Hill Cumorah Pageant). At the Provo temple, they have you do confirmations for one set of names, first, before going to do baptisms for another set of names. We sat together as a group while waiting to do confirmations. By the time that I’d finished doing confirmations, Juliana and Braden were also done. However, before Garrett was done, some people with family names sat down by me. Because they had family names, they were going to do baptisms before confirmations, so that they could do all of their names.
Because they were there, when Garrett was done doing confirmations, he was separated from me, Braden, and Juliana. I felt bad about it, thinking that Garrett was, in a way, “left behind”. When the line for baptisms started moving, I let the people with family names go ahead of me, so that I’d be sitting by Garrett again. I doubt it was a big deal for Garrett that I went back to sit by him, but to me it meant that he wasn’t being left behind. Though it hadn’t bothered him to be separated from the rest of us, I felt better, knowing that none of my friends had been left behind or left out of the group.
This got me thinking about the situation in a spiritual sense. Around the time that I got my mission call, someone (I can’t remember who it was) told me that before I came to Earth, I made promises to the people that I’ll teach. I promised them that I’d find them and teach them the Gospel. Though I can’t remember making those promises, I know I made them and I’m going to do everything in my power to keep those promises. Like the situation with Garrett at the temple, I refuse to leave those people behind. I promised I’d find them.
I know this church is true. I know that I’ve been called of God to help other people come to know what I already know. Today, I have two months and five days left until I go into the MTC. However, my training as a missionary doesn’t start there. It didn’t start when I got my call. It didn’t start at the beginning of the semester when me and Garrett thought up those ways to prepare. It started when I was young and it’s a constant movement closer and closer to the Savior. It’s a constant movement to where and to who He wants me to be. I testify with all my heart that the church is true and the Book of Mormon is the word of God, alongside the Bible. Again, I promise that as a missionary I will commit myself to finding those people that I promised to find and I will not leave them behind.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Dear Elder Ficiur...

“You are hereby called to serve as a missionary for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. You are assigned to labor in the Canada Toronto West Mission.”
After a month and a half of waiting, I finally received my mission call on Wednesday. Going back to my apartment in mid-afternoon, after finishing most of my classes, I found out my call was there. After that, I went back to campus for my dance class. I told one of my friends in that class that my call was at my apartment and she said “How are you even here right now?” (I was there only because we had a Cha Cha test).
After that class was over, I went back to my apartment and after several of my friends had arrived, we started calling my family. Four speaker phones and one long 10-minute video recording later, my call was open and I knew I was going to the Toronto West mission.
I’m so very excited to serve the people of Ontario in my mission. On June 2, I go into the Missionary Training Center and I’m so excited to go in. Several times, walking to and from the Provo temple, I’ve walked past the Missionary Training Center. I’ve seen missionaries from the Missionary Training Center heading to and from the temple. In two months and twelve days, I’ll be one of them. I’ll be a missionary.
I know that this church is true and I’m so very excited to help the people of Ontario come to know that as well. It’s true and no one can tell me it isn’t. Though the strength of that conviction may vary, slightly, I know that I’ve felt the Holy Ghost tell me that it’s true. Even if I can’t feel it at any given moment, I can remember that I have felt that witness. I testify that it’s true. I testify that the Book of Mormon is the word of God, alongside the Bible, as long as it is translated correctly. This is God’s church and I know that it is by Him that I am called to teach.
The video below is the last 4 minutes of the 10 minute video that was taken of me opening my call.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Called to Serve

So I have some bad news and some good news. Bad news is that despite what I thought about my call, it was delayed. Good news is that that’s over now! I’ve been cleared to serve a mission! Not only that, but today Bishop Andrus (my bishop, here at BYU) checked and found out that my call was issued last Friday! That means that it’s coming here on Thursday!
I’m really excited now, but what makes me more excited is that I’m definitely serving a mission! Even before I knew that my call had been issued, I knew (from my bishop) that I was cleared to serve a mission (he sent me an email on Tuesday night). As I think I noted before in an earlier post, a huge thing that had been bothering me about the delays was that I didn’t know if I’d even be serving a mission and that drove me crazy. However, now I know that I’m going to serve and I’m feeling a bigger push now to prepare to serve because I know that I AM going to serve.
The title of this post, “Called to Serve”, is appropriate because, while I don’t know where or when I’m going to serve, I know that I’m going to serve and I’m going to do everything I can to prepare to be the best missionary I can be.
I know this church is true and I know that the call I’ve been issued (wherever and whenever it is) is from God and while I am not perfect, He is perfect and He will help me along the way as long as I stay faithful and humble. I can’t wait until I can serve in the mission field and I can’t wait to tell people about the gospel. It brings so much happiness and peace in my life and I know it can do the same thing for them, whoever and wherever they are.
Until next time (when I’ll have my call and you’ll hear about it), don’t forget to smile!

Sunday, February 21, 2010

I Hope They Call Me on a Mission

Ever since returning to BYU this semester, I’ve felt a stronger desire to prepare better to serve my mission. I mentioned this in my last post, briefly, when I talked about leaving Facebook. My resolve to prepare to serve better has come as a result of many things, but mostly because of Garrett, my roommate and one of my best friends (you’ll be hearing a lot about him in my blog, I’m sure).
There was one day in particular, a day or two after Garrett disabled his Facebook account, and we got talking about why he disabled it and about other stuff. It was weird because we were off the subject of Facebook when I got the distinct impression that I had to leave Facebook too. About an hour after our conversation was over, so was my Facebook account.
It’s been really cool living with one of my best friends. We’ve figured out other random ways to prepare to serve our missions (most them being Garrett’s ideas). One thing we’ve been doing is improving our scripture study. Each morning, after having breakfast, we’ll have “companionship” scripture study. I’ve really enjoyed sharing and receiving insights about the scriptures with Garrett.
One of the coolest things we’ve done has been our weekly temple trips. Originally, I’d planned to go to the temple each Tuesday afternoon, since I don’t have classes during that time. Garrett and I discovered that neither of us had classes on Friday after eleven o’clock. So, as a result, as a general rule, me and Garrett decided to go to the temple each Friday after we were done classes. Pretty much every week since, we’ve gone to the temple after our Friday classes and almost every time we’ve missed our Friday temple trip, we make time for a Saturday temple trip. It’s just been AMAZING!!!
By now, my close friends and family know that I’ve had my papers in since January 31 (which, coincidentally, is my birthday). By normal standards, I should have had my call on February 11. Because I have Aspergers Syndrome (a form of high-functioning autism) my papers were delayed a few weeks. In that time, I’ve met with someone from LDS Family Services to have an evaluation done on my potential to effectively serve a mission, despite having Aspergers. The extra wait time was brutal.
I was super anxious for my call before I found out it’d been delayed, but then it got delayed and my feelings went beyond anxious. It bugged me that I had to wait to get my papers looked at by the mission department. It’s been years since having Aspergers has really affected me. When I told my friends at BYU that I have Aspergers, their response consistently was “I couldn’t tell.” One of my friends, whose brother has Aspergers, was really thrown off because he knew what Aspergers was like and he didn't see that in me. So, really, it bugged me that my papers were being delayed because of a problem that doesn’t affect me. Eventually, I just had to accept the wait time and be patient.
It’s still difficult, but now the endless wait is a countdown again. The counselor from LDS Family Services is done his evaluation and it’s been sent to Salt Lake City. Now I just have to wait for the mission department and the First Presidency to look it over. If all goes well, I’ll have my call in less than two weeks.
I’m really excited to almost have my call (to put it lightly). Garrett can attest to that. He was with me, last Friday, when I got the message from the guy at LDS Family Services, saying that his report about me had been mailed to Salt Lake. I was literally bouncing with excitement. It’s just too bad that I hadn’t gotten the message after we’d gone to the temple. Because I got it before we went, I was giddy about my call, all throughout being at the temple. I was able to contain myself and stay reverent, but (as I told Garrett after doing baptisms) I felt like I was a big bottle of excitement that was about to explode.
It’s because of my excitement to serve a mission and even just to receive my call that I decided to title this post after one of the songs I know that’s most applicable to me right now: “I Hope They Call Me on a Mission”.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

House of the World

This is an extra credit paper I did for my Book of Mormon class a couple weeks ago. I felt impressed to put it on my blog. The assignment was to pick of painting by Minerva Teichert that was hanging in the Joseph Smith Building on campus and write a paragraph about what impressed us about it. The painting I chose was called "House of the World". Here's a link to the painting.

The painting I chose was “House of the World”. I liked this painting for many reasons. One reason in particular has to do with how the tree of life looks like. In my opinion, the tree of life in this painting looks brown and wilting, similar to a tree at the autumn that is losing all its leaves. The dying look of the tree, in contrast to the magnificence of the great and spacious building, reminds me of part of Isaiah, in chapter 53, the second verse: “For he shall grow up before him as a tender plant, and as a root out of a dry ground: he hath no form nor comeliness; and when we shall see him, there is no beauty that we should desire him.” This scripture tells us that Christ had no beauty to attract us to Him. With the tree of life in the painting, there is no reason we would want something from a tree that looks like it is dying, but once we have had the fruit of that tree, it becomes more desirable than anything else. In this same way, there is no physical characteristic that would have us follow Christ, but once we partake of His fruit, the gospel, it becomes the most desirable thing for us. In contrast, in the painting I find the great and spacious building to look like a beautiful, brilliant structure. It reminds of a quote by President Spencer W. Kimball. He said that “[Satan] garnishes evil to make it appear beautiful, pleasing, easy, and even good.” In this way, even though the building looks beautiful and desirable, it is full of evil and darkness. Something I learned from this is that Heavenly Father makes the choice between good and evil simple, but not obvious. The tree of life looks dying and old, but its fruit is the most delicious and desirable ever.

Friday, January 29, 2010

For a Wise Purpose

The idea for this blog first came to me a few weeks ago when I decided to disable my Facebook account. I got rid of my Facebook account because I realized how big of a distraction it has been to me. I wish I could say I was mature enough to realize this on my own, but I didn't notice it until Garrett (my roommate and one of my best friends) decided to get rid of his. He told me his reasons for getting rid of it and we talked for a bit and I realized that I needed to do the same as him. I enjoyed using Facebook, but that was the real problem; I enjoyed using it too much. It distracted me from preparing to serve God to the best of my abilities on my mission. However, when I prepared to get rid of my Facebook account, I realized that doing so could cut off communications that I have with some people. For years Facebook had been the tool I used to let my friends and family know what was going on my life and now that tool would be gone. That's why I decided to start this blog, to allow friends and family to stay part of my life.

The title for this blog, "For a Wise Purpose", comes from the Book of Mormon in Words of Mormon 1:7. The verse says "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 according to his will." I chose this verse as a theme for my blog because I've learned that Heavenly Father has a plan for me and even when I'm going through trials and I don't know why, it helps me realize that my trials are happening to me "for a wise purpose". While I don't know the reasons for my trials when they happen, I know that God knows why they're happening and that they'll benefit me in the end. A firm example in my mind of this was something that happened last semester: When deciding what classes to take for last fall, I thought it might be interesting to take a Psychology class. It was my absolute least favorite class of the semester. However, in taking that class, I really met Garrett and Juliana, who both became my best friends.