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.