Tuesday, March 31, 2009

FHE Video Project

The Stake FHE Oscar night will be on April 18. In order to prepare for this event, our group will be submitting a video made by our family.

John and I have chosen three ideas that we liked best and have outlined below. Please use the poll on the side to choose which of these ideas are your favorite. Please take into consideration the following:
  • We want to include as many people in our group as possible.
  • We are all busy, so editing will be kept to a minimum. That being said, we want the best movie there, so...
  • Depending on the movie, we will be filming on the 6th (at the Bishopric's) and more so on the 13th - please make an effort to be to these last FHE activities before the end of the semester.
  • John and I really loved all the ideas. So thanks for your efforts yesterday.
  • More info will be made available as we continue to work on this.
The IDEAS

Hot Tub Mockumentary - this movie will follow the interviews of several people remembeing the good times with the hot tub. The hot tub will not be mentioned during the actual interviews, until the very end. This will make it seem like we are talking about a wayward/lost friend.

  • "We used to have so much fun together, and then one day... it was like he wasn't even trying anymore."
  • "Our relationship started feeling so empty...so I had to find someone new."
  • "I met all my friends through him, and now...he's not even a part of my life."
Why we like this idea: It really hits home with the Omni residents and will be able to include the majority of our group.

Another spin on this idea would be doing an actual documentary style video, with a narrator. OR, having the "Hot Tub" have a voice talking about the good times, before he was falling apart and useless.

If you vote for the hot tub idea, please leave a comment as to which version of this idea you like.

Music Video/Dance off - Choosing a favorite song and choreographing a music video.

Why we like this idea: There isn't much script writing necessary. Which means no corny lines and no flubbing up your words.

Problems: Deciding on one music video we can all participate in. Choreographing... some of us can not do simple aerobics because they can't learn the steps, let alone a full feature music video.

"LOST" Spoof - Traipsing through a wooded area in survival mode, while flashing back to our old lives. Flashback ideas: Becca dancing in her room. William winning the jackpot after smoking everyone in poker. ETC.

Why we like this idea: Honestly, it just was really funny in my head.

Problems: This will probably take the most time, energy and creativity. We'd have to be really on the ball and shoot in parts throughout the week.

Leave a comment or email me with any questions. The poll will close on Monday, April 6, at 2:00 pm (I think...around then, though) and John and I will announce the winner at the Bishopric's home that night.

Love you!

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Shooting Star

I was in Provo Canyon tonight standing around a bonfire and admiring the stars when I happened to witness a shooting star...and then a few minutes later another one.

I can't help but admire the beauty God has created for us. As cold as it has been, and as much as I have hated Utah the past week - it never ceases to amaze me how beautiful it can be. Up in the canyon surrounded by the Uintah mountains with the stars out in full force. It's breathtakingly beautiful.

On top of that, I was at the bonfire with some good friends, and had a total blast. This year has been by far the best year out here in Utah. I've spent an entire year at the Omni - our ward is great, I have such good, fun friends...and I'll be really sad to be moving out next month. I've never been sad to move out of anywhere before (except home, of course) and I just hope that the friendships I've made are the lasting sorts even though I'm moving across town.

Take a minute to wish on my falling stars. I couldn't think of anything good - so I'm giving them to you.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

For those of you who read this...

I found two entries that were in my drafts and have since published them. They are still in chronological order from when I started the entry...which means you might miss it. If you want to read the new-ish posts:

Click here for Our Miraculous Bodies - musings of a tired person.
Learn about my awesome stake conference.

And...a picture, just for fun.This is from Kira's bridal shower. We don't know why we are all wearing black - it just happened like that. However, I think we were subconsciously mourning the loss of our beloved friend. (Also...my hair looks fairly tolerable in this picture. Which, has been the first time since I cut it that I liked it. FYI: I have not been able to recreate the look since.)

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

...Twi[cough]light...

So, it's been a while since I posted anything regarding this topic. While doing research for a paper (I swear!) I stumbled across a blog entry comment that made me nod my head in agreement.

Twilight is a huge controversy between the male and female sector throughout my peers, with some exceptions, and many of the men think that we are holding them to ridiculously high standards - impossible standards - and that Twilight is "emotional pornography." They find it hard to believe that any girl can fall in love with a vampire that (1) wants to drain you of your lifeblood, (2) sneaks into your bedroom and watches you sleep, (3) is super over-protective to the point of controlling, (4) is a little gloomy and pessimistic.

To the last one I say, he's more brooding than emo. And brooding is hot!

Anyway, the comment reads as such:

Mike Allen said...

Fellas, it's time we concede that Edward is every girls dream.

Let's list his qualities:

1. Superhuman strength - the ultimate "protector"

2. Has the desire to suck people's blood - the ultimate "bad boy"

3. Fights his desire to suck people's blood - the ultimate "bad boy with a big heart"

4. Has been alive for a hundred years and has read every book, and mastered every talent (piano playing, etc.) - the ultimate "smart and talented guy"

5. Exceptionally gorgeous - the ultimate "hot guy"

6. Desires Bella and only Bella (despite the fact that, considering his above qualities, he could probably have any girl he wants) - the ultimate "he loves me and only me!" guy

7. Lastly and probably most importantly, despite his own passionate desires, refuses to have sex with Bella even AFTER they're married - the ultimate "he cares about me and doesn't objectify me" guy

Whoever Mike Allen is, he's one smart cookie. I think he's hit the proverbial nail on the head. Unfortunately, he goes on to say the the ultimate protector/bad boy/hot guy/caring/faithful guy doesn't exist.

Too bad.

I'll take the hot brooding guy that makes me laugh, instead.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Draper Temple Dedication


The Draper Temple was dedicated yesterday, and I was able to watch the final session through broadcast yesterday. The last temple dedication I went to was the Columbus temple, and I couldn't help compare experiences.

Temples are amazing. The work, the ordinances, the covenants...The very fact that the temple is the house of the Lord, is incredible. One of the speakers quoted a prominent leader of another faith that went through the open house and said, "Being in the Celestial room is like sitting in God's living room." I wonder if he realized how true that statement is.

When I went to the Columbus temple, I was maybe 14. I was lucky enough to be chosen to receive one of the few tickets that were given to our ward in order to go inside the temple for the dedication. We were directed to a sealing room, where we sat quietly looking at the small television screen that would broadcast the session from the Celestial room when an usher came up to the four of us and asked us to follow him. I was afraid that we had done something wrong and were maybe going to have to leave the temple altogether. But the usher instead took us to the Celestial room, where President Hinckley would be to do the dedication. We were seated at the very back row - but the Columbus temple is one of the smaller temples and even at the back row, we could see the Prophet and those that accompanied him to the dedication. The choir was amazing, and I remember that there were people from not only my home stake, but my home ward and I was so proud to see that. As a ward, we had helped harvest the lilies that were planted in front of the temple. There was so much work and so much pride and enthusiasm for having a temple built in Ohio. To this day, the Columbus temple is my very favorite. I love it, and I think particularly it is because I witnessed it being dedicated to the Lord. I was there as it transformed from a beautiful building to a place where sacred covenants were made and ordinances performed.

I have only seen the Draper temple from a distance, as I drive on I-15 and pass by. Like the Columbus temple, it is a beautiful building. But more than that - it is a building where saving ordinances will be done, where people will be married. My friend Katy, in fact, has chosen Draper (last I heard) as the temple where she and her affianced will be sealed for time and eternity. The dedication was beautiful. We sat in the Marriott Center with hundreds of people and were told that the Marriott Center was to be treated as though it were an extension of the temple. Immediately, the place - filled - was near to silent. The reverence exuded from the place, and the spirit of peace flowed throughout. It's hard to describe the thrill that goes through you as you watch hundreds of white handkerchiefs float through the air during the Hosanna shout, and then knowing that people were doing the same thing throughout the state of Utah at the same time the Prophet and other apostles were as well.

It was magnificent. We are so lucky to live in this day and age where there are 129 operating temples around the world and 146 total (currently under construction and announced included). For more stats go here.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Stake Conference (March 14-15)

I've never been one to be too excited about stake conference - but this weekend was pretty excellent.

Our stake president was released, and with that brought Elder Jensen (who, consequently also spoke at the Draper Temple Dedication) and Elder Sitrude (I have no idea how to spell his name, so it is spelled phonetically). Between the two elders and then our old and new stake presidency, conference was fantastic.

Some key points from my notes:

Elder Sitrude -
"Suffering is a part of life - but misery is of our own making." Basically, we have a choice to be humbled or to harden our hearts during times of tribulation. We should trust in the Lord - and never blame Him.

C.S. Lewis said something along the lines that "God is forcing us on and upward...we do not see what He is making of us."

How to be unhappy:
  1. Confuse temporary with eternal
  2. Assume that righteousness means ease
  3. Compare ourselves with others
  4. Let physical dominate spiritual
Obviously, if that is the list on how to be unhappy and we are seeking to be happy, we should do the opposite of all these things.

THE GREAT COMMANDMENT IS TO LOVE
Love can be taught.
The greater we love, the more lovable we become.

Ways to love:
  1. Be listeners - we all crave to be heard
  2. Serve - the greatest demonstration of love we can provide
  3. Understand and practice giving words of affirmation

Elder Jensen
How do we keep from getting burned out? Serving the Lord, keeping the commandments and doing whatever we can do will allow other things to fall into place. It's all about prioritizing. Success in our lives is based on our priorities and if our priorities are out of order - we will lose power.

"Every so often in life we get wrapped up in the imporant things in life that we miss out/foget the essential." - Elder Scott

There are three things that we need in life: Someone to love, someone who loves us and something to look forward to. I just have to say that I believe this statement. Life is meaningless without these three things. It is why I need to call my dad every once and a while to hear him say that he loves me. It is why I would do anything for my family members or my roommates no matter what inconvenience may come of it. And it is why I get so stinking excited about the little things in life. Everyone needs a little hope or a little something to look forward to.

President Ball - "The Lord isn't interested in our capabilities, but in our availability. If we make ourselves available, He will make us capable."

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

In need of a human alarm clock


My blog has been boring as of late. Every time I think about posting, I'm immediately interrupted by the 289374 things that need to be done. Granted, I maybe only do .5 of those things, and so I should have time to update a blog...but you get the point.

The biggest problem in my life right now is waking up. Waking up? Don't I know that people used to wake up before the sun rose everyday and probably had the cows milked and the chickens fed long before my puny alarm has even considered going off? Don't I know how easy I have it now that I am going to school and NOT working?

Well, yes. I do. I know all of this. But it seems that no matter when I set my alarm, it doesn't go off! Or rather, it does - apparently my roommates have their own personal concert every morning - but I don't hear it. It doesn't matter that my alarm and my phone with an alarm set, sits on my PILLOW with me every night. You'd think I would hear it. You'd think that it would go off and scare the covers right off of me. But, no. False. I hear nothing.

Crickets.

Not even that. Silence, like in a black hole.

I don't need a bigger alarm clock. Although, I have thought about investing in one of the alarm clocks that shakes the bed, too. Have you seen those? I couldn't get the alarm that hides from you, because I don't think that would solve the problem of me not hearing it.

No, what I need is a human alarm clock. One that PUSHES me out of bed when it is time to get up. I think a rude awakening like such as my head hitting the floor is the only thing that is going to get me out of bed in the morning. So I'm taking applications.

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

The Worst and Most Common Etiquette Mistakes by Yahoo

I found this on Yahoo...and the first one grabbed my attention. What is with people NOT RSVP-ing, and/or flaking out? It is so RUDE! Or those who can never give a straight answer - "I'll try to make it," "We'll see," "Let me get back to you" (and then you never do), and "I just want to see what else is going on," is SO ANNOYING! Get over yourself and let the host/hostess know what your freakin' plans are. They have every right to expect to know whether or not you are coming, especially when something is being planned beyond an informal get together.

The Worst (And Most Common) Etiquette Mistakes

Posted Mon, Mar 02, 2009, 10:53 am PST

  • Party Poopers When you receive an invitation to a dinner or party--whether by Evite, voicemail, or casual email--RESPOND. Yeah, that’s what that little “RSVP” thing means. Everyone knows it, yet it’s amazing how many don’t respond. Even for weddings! Planning a party or event requires a lot of work, so do the host a simple favor and let them know if you're coming or not.
  • The Line-Up Lines are a fact of life. At the post office, the supermarket, just about everywhere these days. For starters, moaners who huff and gripe about standing in a line of three people for all of five minutes are tops on our list. Get over yourself -- if you don’t have a few minutes to wait to buy that loaf of bread, then pick it up another time. Another thing: Don’t show your impatience by creeping up so close to the person in front of you that they can feel your breath. Crowding those around you will not get you to the front any faster, so give them some space. Finally, cutting in line or trying to ignore the fact that there IS a line –- stop it! Everyone’s time is valuable.
  • The ME Show It’s great to hear all the crazy, wacky, wonderful things happening in the lives of others. Jobs, engagements, breakups, boyfriends, puppies, pregnancies, vacations — very good stuff, all of it. But once you’ve listened to a friend, family member, or colleague spout about their own fabulous life for an hour (or two), it’s normal to expect them to ask, “So, what’s going on with you?” Those who blab on about themselves while you listen intently, then don’t ask a thing about you in return are just plain rude.
  • Baby Biz Changing a poopy baby diaper around others is nasty -- and we're moms. Changing the other kind of baby diaper in public is one thing, but still should only be done when absolutely necessary!
  • Mobile Madness As much as we love the modern age, there are days when we long to go to a coffee shop, movie theatre, bookstore, or post office and not hear some teen queen dishing to her friend about last night's hot date with Todd or eavesdrop (unwillingly) on a screaming family feud. Mobile phones are essential, but please, people, pleeeeeeease, use a little restraint on the when's, what's, and where's. We're happy that Todd is "totally built" but we're going to have to start walking around town and slapping people with "TMI" tickets (yes, too much information). --Not to mention, when you're with someone, be with someone. Don't sit and yack on the phone, text constantly, or check your email/facebook/whatever on your phone every five seconds.
  • Smokes Everyone has a right to smoke in public, but be conscious of whose face your smoke is blowing into. Are there kids nearby? And we just might kick the butt of the next person we see throwing their burning butt on the ground without putting it out. Really, find an ashtray or trashcan where you can extinguish and dispose of it properly -- that thing is garbage, not decoration for our streets and sidewalks.
  • The Pee & Flee Public bathrooms get used by everyone -- yup, they're public! So, making a mess of the toilet seat, and then prancing out without bothering to wipe it up -- not cool. Leaving a mess for the next visitor is completely unacceptable (and disgustingly unsanitary, of course). Take 10 seconds to rip off a piece of toilet paper, toilet seat cover, or a paper towel, and do your due diligence!
  • Stealing...a parking spot, that is. Yeah, you know who you are. If someone has their blinker on and is patiently waiting for a spot, it's theirs. And if you've already passed a spot up, it's gone. Treat others as you expect to be treated, and the parking goddesses will smile down upon you... eventually.
  • Belly Baring Men, women -- anyone who's passed puberty, everyone who isn't lounging poolside or oceanside -- resist the urge to bare those bellies. They may be beautiful, Buddha-like, jolly, but sometimes they can be flabby, hairy, and not ripe for public consumption. If you're jogging, fellas, t-shirts or tanks won't hurt your workout, so throw one on. Gals, midriff fashions are never really on our "Do" list. There are plenty of ways for all of us to flaunt what we got without sharing our tum-tums with the world.
  • Spitting This gets especially yucky when it's one of those enormous globs that looks like it could be alive. Some people (males, in particular) think it's kind of a cool-guy thing to do. We're here to tell ya that no one wants to see you hock a big gooey one out of your car, onto the sidewalk, or anywhere else for that matter. Try a tissue.
  • Honking Problem People who honk too often, too unnecessarily, or just to express their emotions are on our list of Most Etiquette Challenged. If you're trying to warn someone about a collision or problem, fine, otherwise it's not that serious. Give it a rest! --Some people are jealous of all those who HAVE horns. Having needed it to give a little warning to a few people...I am in total support of the horn. SMA.

Ok - one more...or four

FOUR THINGS:

Four names that people call me:
  1. S
  2. Lil Essie
  3. Shell
  4. Shelli-belli*
*Use at your own risk. I really, really hate this.

Four jobs I have had:
  1. Hostess/Waitress
  2. MarCom Assistant
  3. Checker at a grocery store
  4. Executive assistant at EDISON

Four movies I've watched more than...well a lot:
  1. Ever After
  2. Pride and Prejudice
  3. Best Two Years
  4. ... There are so many! All the ones I own.

Four places I have lived:
  1. Lexington, KY
  2. Spokane, WA
  3. Troy, OH
  4. Provo, UT
Side note: I've moved a LOT in Provo. I started at the University Villa, then spent a couple years in Branbury, moved to Sprinville to live with Dennis, moved to Pioneer (townhomes), and now I'm at the Omni.

Four people who email me regularly:
  1. Katie/Courtney (though, not so much anymore...)
  2. My teachers and people from class...boring
  3. Colin, lately
  4. Ashley/Fern/Wein
Four of my favorite foods:
  1. Thai Yellow Curry and Rice (so good it has to be capitalized)
  2. Sweet potatoes - in chili, as fries, plain, with brown sugar and butter...YUM! YUM!
  3. Bread/Rolls - as cinnamon rolls, French toast, with honey butter, scones, just with butter, banana bread with nuts! Holy cow! I'm a carbo-holic.
  4. FRUIT - Fresh fruit... pink lady apples are my favorite! grapes! pears! fresh peaches! strawberries! I'm so excited for summer so I can get my hands on these babies! YUM!

Four places I'd rather be right now:
  1. In Ohio, holding my niece
  2. On a beach, working on my...well, in the sun
  3. EUROPE
  4. IN BED!

Four things I am looking forward to this year:
  1. Meeting Kelsie!
  2. NEW MEXICO!
  3. California!
  4. GRADUATING!!!
Oh - and an honorable mention: My magical night. Still working out the details for this one. But I am determined to have one "magical" night before my next birthday. So far, it's not going very well, but I think we need to define what is magical. Since I'm not sure what I'm looking for, it's harder to find.

Four TV shows that I watch:
  1. CHUCK
  2. the Office
  3. American Idol
  4. Lie to Me
Honorable mention: ER - it is the FINAL season, so I try to watch it

Four movies I want to see right now:
  1. Slumdog Millionaire
  2. Tale of Despereaux
  3. Confessions of a Shopoholic
  4. New in Town

Firsts

1. Who was your FIRST prom date?
and ONLY - TJ

2. What was your 1st alcoholic drink?
tasted cooking rum...but everything else has been non-alcoholic. I could go for a pina colada right about now, though

3. What was your FIRST job?
hostess at Bob Evans

4. What was your FIRST car?
'88 Delta Oldmobile - Bessie. She was kidnapped (stolen) TWICE! and then raped (gutted and sold for parts...don't ask me which). She was my favorite! I had a window that didn't work, no a/c, a ghetto stereo, the ceiling was falling down, and I could rub the paint off with my finger! But she was a tank!

5. Who was the FIRST person to text you today?
Fern

6. Who is the FIRST person you thought of this morning?
Myself - I'm essentially selfish and conceited

7. Who was your FIRST grade teacher?
Mrs. Linda Holt - I loved her. She gave me my first time-out in school. I liked to talk.

8. Where did you go on your FIRST ride on an airplane?
Probably to Utah, but I don't think I remember well...It might have been to Washington. Probably Utah though.

9. Who was your FIRST best friend & do you still talk?
Natasha something... and no. I had a friend Kate and she had bright curly hair, too. I don't talk to her either. Those were school chums. My FIRST best friend was Amy, my sister - and yeah, I talk to her.

10. Where was your FIRST sleep over?
I think it was at Natasha's, actually. We would pretend to interview her little brother because he slept with his eyes opened and snored for an answer. We thought it was hilarious.

11. Who was the FIRST person you talked to today?
Kira? I can't remember, it was a bad morning.

12. Whose wedding were you in the FIRST time?
I think my aunt Holly's. I wore pink and white.

13. What was the FIRST thing you did this morning?
Swore. No, not really. I'm pretty sure I hit the snooze button. Wait, are you talking morning as in 4am when I was still doing homework? Or when I woke up at 7:30am and wanted to swear because I was supposed to have been up at 6:00am? This is a confusing question.

14. What was the FIRST concert you ever went to?
Ben Lee

15. FIRST tattoo?
Washable

16. First piercing?
My ears - prior to being six. I got little pink "diamond" studs. They were cute. I lost one in the Patrick's backyard.

17. First foreign country you've been to?
Don't make me cry - I've never gone anywhere.

18. FIRST movie you remember seeing?
In the theater: 101 Dalmations, I loved LOVED the Little Mermaid when I was little. And Cinderella. The Sound of Music is up there in early beginnings.

19. When was your FIRST detention?
I think 5th grade, when I would forget to do my homework

20. What was the first state you lived in?
I was born in Kentucky and lived there for like, 18 months.

21. Who was your FIRST roommate?
Amy. We shared a room for many, many years. Out here at BYU - Mindy Skousen


These aren't firsts, but they were included in this questionnaire ---

22. If you had one wish. What would it be?
I have lots of wishes. The obvious one is to travel. And have babies. And to have a husband that I want to have babies with. Is that too much information? Probably.

23. What is something you would learn if you had the chance?
Yes, I would like to learn how to speak Spanish and Italian and French and Portuguese and...and...and...Romanian! I do not have the gift of tongues though. I can barely pronounce the simplest of Spanish. Hole-ah. Como Hestah.

Monday, March 02, 2009

Quentin L. Cooks - Be a Missionary

Be a Missionary All Your Life

By Elder Quentin L. Cook Of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles

Ensign, Sep 2008, 44–49

For the Savior’s mandate to share the gospel to become part of who we are, we need to make member missionary work a way of life.

Image

In 1842 John Wentworth, editor of the Chicago Democrat, wrote to Joseph Smith requesting information about the Church. The Church had been organized 12 years earlier and had just over 20,000 members. The Prophet Joseph replied and concluded his response by using the “Standard of Truth” as a preface to what we know today as the thirteen Articles of Faith. As I tour missions, I find that many missionaries memorize the Standard of Truth. It conveys in a concise way what must be accomplished:

“No unhallowed hand can stop the work from progressing; persecutions may rage, mobs may combine, armies may assemble, calumny may defame, but the truth of God will go forth boldly, nobly, and independent, till it has penetrated every continent, visited every clime, swept every country, and sounded in every ear; till the purposes of God shall be accomplished, and the Great Jehovah shall say the work is done.”1

Becoming Effective Missionaries

I believe that we are on the threshold of the most significant missionary success to date.

The conversion of Jordan Vajda, a fine young man who had been a Catholic priest, is instructive. When he was in grade school, he had Latter-day Saint friends in his class who shared with him their love of the gospel. At age 13 he found an offer from the Church for a free Book of Mormon. He sent for it, and two sister missionaries responded. They were surprised that he was only 13 and had requested the Book of Mormon. He was impressed with what they taught and what he felt, but after discussions with his family, he decided to become a priest in the Catholic Church. As he prepared to be a priest, he remained interested in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

He studied at the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley, California. He became acquainted with many who take the position we are not Christians, but he also associated with the students at the Latter-day Saint institute of religion at Berkeley. He decided to write a master’s thesis on why some people maintain that we are not Christians. This was primarily an academic pursuit. He became a priest in the Dominican order and had assignments in Arizona and then at the University of Washington. There he came in contact with our missionaries.

After being taught by them and praying sincerely, he received inspiration that he should resign as a Catholic priest and be baptized and confirmed into the Church of Jesus Christ. His letter of resignation expressed his love and appreciation for the Catholic Church and then stated:

“Why am I doing what I am doing? To put it most simply: I have found a fuller truth and goodness and beauty in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. After years of study and reflection, I have come to believe that the LDS Church is the only true and living Church of Jesus Christ, guided and led by living apostles and prophets.

“I believe that Joseph Smith is a prophet of God, called and ordained for this, the dispensation of the fullness of times. I love the Book of Mormon; I believe it to be the word of God for us in these latter days.

“I can no longer deny my feelings, my heart, my conscience. I cannot deny the confirming witness of the Holy Ghost, which has come after much prayer and soul-searching. At this point in my life, at this moment, as I look forward to and prepare for my convert baptism, I have found a happiness greater than I ever imagined possible.”2

This good man is active in the Church, has been to the temple, teaches the Gospel Doctrine class in his ward, and has a management position in a hospital in Seattle.

The gospel truly changes people’s lives. Last year I met the missionaries who taught a family of five in South Carolina. The father of this wonderful African-American family was born and raised in Newark, New Jersey. His father had abandoned his mother when he was very young. He said his “angel mother” worked hard every day of her life to keep them from being homeless. He cannot remember one fun day as a child or as a teenager. He stated, “Other than the love of my mother, I felt very much alone in this world.” He served in the United States Navy on the aircraft carrier Kitty Hawk, where he learned discipline, organization, and order. He met and married his sweetheart, and they have three children. They came in contact with the missionaries, and he subsequently wrote:

“The missionaries taught us to pray. They taught us about the Restoration. They taught us about revelation and truth. As they bore their testimonies, my heart became softened and I saw in their eyes the truth of what they said. In my whole life I have never seen such sincerity and love. On May 5, 2006, my family was baptized into The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Now I really do believe that I have found my place in this world.”3

The requirements for baptism are set forth in Doctrine and Covenants 20:37: “All those who humble themselves before God, and desire to be baptized, and come forth with broken hearts and contrite spirits, and witness before the church that they have truly repented of all their sins, and are willing to take upon them the name of Jesus Christ, having a determination to serve him to the end, and truly manifest by their works that they have received of the Spirit of Christ unto the remission of their sins, shall be received by baptism into his church.”

When you think of these two accounts and realize that there were more than 279,000 converts who met the requirements for baptism last year, you get some idea of the significance of missionary work. Our challenge is to share the joyous, eternally significant gospel with our brothers and sisters so they can find peace, happiness, and exaltation. With this in mind, how can we be more effective missionaries?

First, be a missionary all your life. President David O. McKay (1873–1970) taught that “every member is a missionary.”4 That is as true today as when it was first declared.

President Gordon B. Hinckley (1910–2008) said it this way: “Great is our work, tremendous is our responsibility in helping to find those to teach. The Lord has laid upon us a mandate to teach the gospel to every creature.”5

The Prophet Joseph Smith declared, “After all that has been said, the greatest and most important duty is to preach the Gospel.”6

Second, overcome feelings of hesitancy or inadequacy. The account of the first missionary to serve outside of North America in this dispensation is inspiring.

In June of 1837 in the Kirtland Temple, the Prophet Joseph Smith whispered to Heber C. Kimball that the Spirit of the Lord had spoken that Heber should “go to England and proclaim [the] Gospel, and open the door of salvation to that nation.”7

At the time, Heber C. Kimball was 36 years old. He had been a member of the Church for five years and an Apostle for two years. He had a wife and small children. He was the first missionary called to serve outside of North America. A financial panic had swept over the country and the Church in 1837. It was not an auspicious time for Joseph or Heber to commence such a project. But, as Joseph said, the Spirit of the Lord had directed the action.

Heber recorded his reaction: “O, Lord, I am a man of stammering tongue, and altogether unfit for such a work; how can I go to preach in that land?”8

Almost everyone who attempts missionary work feels inadequate in some way. The idea of such a mission was almost more than Heber could bear, but his faith and obedience prevailed. He stated: “However, all these considerations did not deter me from the path of duty; the moment I understood the will of my Heavenly Father, I felt a determination to go at all hazards, believing that He would support me by His almighty power, and endow me with every qualification that I needed; … I felt that the cause of truth, the Gospel of Christ, outweighed every other consideration.”9

Think of the challenge of being a missionary and opening a new country without members, Church buildings, a mission home, or any funds! Despite these feelings of inadequacy, Elder Kimball worked hard and was humble. He and his companions were very successful.

Third, do not be discouraged because missionary work is hard. The New Testament tells of the Apostle Paul’s visit to Athens. Paul wanted to proclaim the message of the resurrected Christ. Certain philosophers invited Paul to Mars’ Hill. Acts 17:21, describing Paul’s audience, states: “For all the Athenians and strangers which were there spent their time in nothing else, but either to tell, or to hear some new thing.”

Doesn’t that sound like the world we live in now? When the Athenians realized that Paul was speaking of the risen Savior, some of them mocked him, and the more polite but still not interested said, in verse 32, “We will hear thee again of this matter.” Missionaries in our own time experience this kind of rejection every day.

Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, in speaking about how hard missionary work is and has been, said: “I am convinced that missionary work is not easy because salvation is not a cheap experience. Salvation never was easy. We are The Church of Jesus Christ, this is the truth, and He is our Great Eternal Head. How could we believe it would be easy for us when it was never, ever easy for Him?”10

Fourth, be a good example and take every opportunity to share the gospel. Paul counseled Timothy, “Be thou an example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity” (1 Timothy 4:12). It is not enough to preach the gospel. One must also live the gospel. Very often people are receptive to being taught because they have had a positive experience with a Church member.

I know a graduate of Brigham Young University who is a great example, loves people, loves the Lord, and has a great desire to be everyone’s friend and share the gospel. He points out that there is a mirror quality to conversation. If we talk about the weather, people respond by talking about the weather. If we talk about sports, they respond by talking about sports. This friend says he asks people he meets about their school and listens intently. After they respond by asking him about his school, he tells them about BYU and then shares his testimony of the gospel. Then, in a positive way, he offers to let them learn more from the missionaries. He has been very successful in sharing the gospel. He has also remained on excellent terms with his friends who do not respond to his invitation, because he genuinely loves them and is interested in them.

Elder Clayton M. Christensen, who is a professor at Harvard Business School and an Area Seventy, indicated: “I have learned to use terms that associate me with Mormonism in my conversations—comments about my mission to Korea, my children’s missions, my assignments in the Church, my having attended Brigham Young University, and so on. These comments open the door for a conversation about the Church. Most who notice that I have opened this door choose not to walk through it. A few do, however, usually saying, ‘So you’re a Mormon?’ I then ask if they’d like to learn more about us.”11

An Account of Our Progress

The First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve are the missionary committee of the Church and oversee all aspects of missionary work. Let me give you some numbers describing what has been accomplished under their direction since 1995.

  • • Approximately 435,000 missionaries have entered the mission field, which represents more than 40 percent of the missionaries who have ever served in this dispensation.

  • • About 3,800,000 converts have been baptized, which is the equivalent of more than one-fourth of the total current membership of the Church.

  • • The total number of missions in the Church has increased from 303 to 348.

  • • The number of converts continues to increase.

I am very enthusiastic about where we are at this time in missionary work. But we can still do better.

Preach My Gospel: A Guide to Missionary Service was first introduced in October 2004. President Hinckley commenced this effort in an address to all General Authorities. He called for the missionaries to learn the doctrine and teach the principles by the Spirit in their own words and avoid rote recitations of the discussions. The First Presidency subsequently “raised the bar” on missionary worthiness standards and instructed the Missionary Executive Council to bring forth the new guide to missionary service.

Every member of the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve participated to a significant degree. The Missionary Executive Council, under the direction of Elder M. Russell Ballard, and the Missionary Department were inspired in their efforts. It literally felt as if the windows of heaven were opened and the Lord’s inspiration poured out to bring forth this great resource.

I was deeply touched when President Boyd K. Packer, President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, speaking of Preach My Gospel, said it “was designed beyond the veil and put together here.”12

More than 1.4 million copies of Preach My Gospel have been acquired by members of the Church. I hope you will all become familiar with this great missionary guide. It will help strengthen you to live worthily.13

Blessings of Missionary Work—and the Charge

There are great blessings, including eternal joy, in helping to bring souls unto Christ (see D&C 18:15). Among the blessings of being a full-time missionary are the lifelong relationships you develop with missionary companions. Other blessings of serving a mission are having the opportunity of being nurtured under the guidance of a mission president who has been called by inspiration; developing gospel knowledge and study habits that will serve you well throughout your life; and achieving the enormous strength that comes from doing something that is very challenging. Having increased faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and the Restoration of His gospel is a most significant blessing.

But the most important reason for going on a mission and being committed to missionary work throughout your life is that it is doctrinally what the Savior has asked us to do.

The last chapters of Matthew, Mark, and Luke; the last two chapters of John; the first eight verses of Acts; and the first chapter of Revelation contain the only New Testament accounts of the risen Christ. Suppose for a minute that you had been a disciple of the Savior during His life here on earth. Suppose you had believed His teachings. Can you imagine how wonderful it would have been to actually behold the risen Lord? Can you imagine how attentive you would have been to His message?

There may have been other things the risen Lord taught that were not recorded, but the overwhelming message in each of the accounts was to preach His gospel.

The next-to-last verse in Matthew is a good example: “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost” (Matthew 28:19).

We could go to almost any part of the Book of Mormon for the same message. Think of Alma and his lifelong commitment to bring souls unto repentance even when he was the head of state.

What about missionary work in this dispensation? I am particularly impressed with section 112 of the Doctrine and Covenants. There is much that could be said about section 112, but verse 21 is particularly significant for those preparing to serve missions. It states: “And again, I say unto you, that whosoever ye shall send in my name, by the voice of your brethren, the Twelve, duly recommended and authorized by you, shall have power to open the door of my kingdom unto any nation whithersoever ye shall send them.”

That describes our missionaries today. Every missionary is called to serve by the prophet and assigned to a field of labor by one of the Twelve Apostles.

As I see missionaries all over the world teaching investigators in so many languages, it is inspiring to reflect on Doctrine and Covenants 90:11: “For it shall come to pass in that day, that every man shall hear the fulness of the gospel in his own tongue, and in his own language, through those who are ordained unto this power.”

Missionary work is not just one of the 88 keys on a piano that is occasionally played; it is a major chord in a compelling melody that needs to be played continuously throughout our lives if we are to remain in harmony with our commitment to the gospel of Jesus Christ.

My specific challenge to each of you is to make a commitment to be a missionary for the rest of your life. There are many among your friends who would respond to the gospel if you would have the faith to share the message of the Restoration with them. What we desperately need is for member missionary work to become a way of life in order for the Savior’s mandate to share the gospel to become part of who we are.

I pray that we all will follow the Savior’s counsel and the prophetic counsel of all of the prophets of this dispensation to preach the gospel throughout our lives.

March Missionary Madness

To start off, I wanted to post one of the cool Mormon Messages that are now found on youtube.com, but BYU won't let me access youtube, and my apartment won't let me access blogger. That being said, I'll have to just get on to my message...

This month in the BYU 219th ward, is March Missionary Madness. Our Ward Missionaries have been trying to get us pumped for this for about a month, so for me to sit and do nothing would make me feel incredibly guilty, and besides that, I like talking about the Church.

The Church has been such a huge part of my life since I was born. I am so grateful that my parents were married and sealed in the temple so that we can be an eternal family. My father has always been a worthy priesthood holder, which means, he's had the proper authority to perform all the saving ordinances that I've needed. He's given my countless father's blessings, baptized me, confirmed me, and even set me apart as I have done a few different callings in the Church.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is Christ's restored gospel on the earth today. Joseph Smith knelt down in a grove of trees, searching for answers, and received not only an answer, but a calling to be the first prophet of the restored gospel in the latter-days. We are so lucky to have God's mouthpiece on the earth, as we strive to follow the teachings of Jesus Christ now. Thomas S Monson heads the Church and leads through direction from God. We have the Book of Mormon to complement the teachings of the Bible, both of which testify of a loving Father in Heaven who sent His Son to save us through an infinite atonement.

The atonement is one of the most incomprehensible things, and yet, it is what should give us hope and faith that we will be saved in the last days. It is the reason that God understands what we are going through; be it, loneliness, sadness, heartbreak, humiliation...suffering of any sort.

Our Father in Heaven knows us individually and very personally. He loves us. He wants us to be happy.

I can't say that I don't know where I'd be without the Church, because I have a pretty good idea. I am so grateful that I have the Church in my life to guide and influence me to be a better person. My membership in the Church is one of my greatest blessings and I thank God for it everyday.

So...take March and make it your own personal March Missionary Madness. Spread the gospel, proclaim its truth and most importantly love and live by example. We have a great blessing and understanding in our lives and it isn't meant to be exclusive.

And check out the Mormon Messages on youtube.com, they are seriously cool.

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