Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Saying Goodbye

It isn't particularly easy to say goodbye to my blog. It has been a great year. Despite the pains that I felt, I loved BYU. I learned a lot about myself, my friends both old and new, the gospel, and most importantly of Jesus Christ.

I am not going on a mission because I am particularly eloquent or because the people of Thailand need me. I am going because I need them. They have already taught me, humbled me and amazed me. I am going because God asked me to. For the first time in my life, I felt strongly enough about this decision that I am going through with it. I will pray for the spirit to guide me as I embark on this journey.

God lives. His Son is Jesus Christ. I love them with all my heart. Joseph Smith restored the Gospel of Peace for our lives today. And while life seems so crushingly hard, it is worth it. I promise. It's worth it all. With Christ at our sides, we can do anything. 

Don't weep. Rejoice that He lives! Rejoice that He loves you. And rejoice that we shall meet again.

With love and blessings,


Saturday, May 30, 2009

Open House Today

Thailand approaches very quickly. I had my open house today. It was surreal. I was given wads of cash that I feel somewhat guilty about. If only because I am very well off financially. But this is so amazing. It's happening. I can't wait. Pray for me and my talk tomorrow?

With love,


Wednesday, May 13, 2009

What I am praying for

1. Feeling a bit better. I have been a bit sick lately. 
2. The gift of tongues. 
3. Understanding of Gospel Principles and the scriptures. 
4. Inspiration for my talk. 

I haven't blogged as much lately. I have been lazy, tired, stressed out, etc. I feel bad because I often think my friends think I am lame because I have been so incommunicado. Stress. I wish I could be more available. There is so much to do and so many goodbyes to say. So I guess the most important thing I am praying for is strength to say goodbye to my home of 19 years. I can't wait to serve the people of Thailand, however. I can't wait to share a testimony of Christ that grows stronger every day. 

And that's good news. 

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

The First Blog in a Long Time

I haven't blogged very much lately. My days have mostly been occupied by: fitting myself for my new my suit, buying shoes, getting new orthodics, preparing for everything in general, and stressing about how little time I have left. It's kind of a stressful time of life. Leaving this far away for the first time is pretty scary. The furthest I have ever lived away from home was my recently completed freshman year in Provo. And that was only an hour away. I am now going someplace that is 8, 148 miles away. Excited? More than I could ever express. Scared? Yes. But I feel like I can do it. 

This is kind of neat. I have known this for a while but I think I will share it today. Thailand was dedicated by President Hinckley for the preaching of the Gospel on November 2nd 1966. Anyone know what Novemeber 2nd is? That's my birthday! What a joy! And ironic. 

Here's a few happinesses. 

1. Thai food with friends yesterday. Laughter and everything good about friends. 
2. Theological discussions- theodicy. 
3. Thailand. 
4. Family. 
5. Getting endowed today. 
6. Sleep. And lots of it. 
7. My brother's sour cream blueberry coffee cake. I am obsessed with blueberries. 
8. Thailand. 
9. Missouri trip! I am going to get back those lands of inheritance if it's the last thing I do! (Clearly this is in jest)
10. Waking up at 11 and blogging. 

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Home Again

So leaving was very sad for me. I had made a lot of friends at BYU. I said goodbye and it was painful. There were some that were more painful than others. It's not that I won't see them again, it's just the fact that we won't be as close as I would like for two years. But here's the thing: it's nice to be home. Here's a few reasons why. 

1. Clean showers- my shower feels clean. That's incredible!
2. Good food- multiple courses even. 
3. Family! I missed them a lot. 
4. Mario Kart joy.
5. A long enough bed. 
6. My mom does my laundry for me. 

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Has my Freshman Year Been Good?

So my mom read a part of my ward newsletter that I took home since I was voted best male cook in my ward. She said the Bishop's message included something about "a lot of heartache" and she asked me about it last night. But I thought about it and considered what has happened with my friends. I have had one friend whose dad got cancer, one friend who had some serious struggles this semester, another who had a few emotional breakdowns, and many friends who have had minor heartaches. I think one's freshman year is difficult. We are far away from home, on our own, left to our own devices. We experience the sweetest moments of our lives and definitely the most bitter.

My year at BYU has been a roller coaster ride. I loved my first semester at BYU. I had great classes, many friends, and an active social life. I bought into the freshman experience. I stayed up late, procrastinated homework, did silly things, and had a great time. I met some of my best friends that I have ever known. Towards the end of the semester, I felt some heartache over the Prop 8 issue. This is an issue that I will never forget. It caused me to reevaluate my spiritual convictions and what I believe. Permit me to feel persecuted for a minute. I grew highly disillusioned with BYU and BYU students from the Prop 8 experience. I saw some of the most bitter hatred that I have ever seen among the Saints. Someone said that I "have not right to question the desisions of the Prophet of God." Yet through this, I maintained my testimony of the truthfulness of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. I managed to sort through what the Gospel is and what the Gospel is not. I realized how happy I was as a member of the Church, even if I couldn't stand the culture sometimes.

Then things started to change. My second semester at BYU has not been happy. I have often felt very sad and very lonely. I have been stressed up to my eyeballs and I have felt some of the deepest social hurt that I have ever felt in my entire life. My grades, while still very good, have not gone quite as well as I would have liked. I felt abandoned by many of my friends. I felt some of the most emotionally excruiciating pain I have ever felt. And I felt unloved many times. I felt like I was an outcast in my ward and in my friendships. I saw how cliques developed and how I felt so left out and hurt by this. This is not to say I did not have happinesses. I did. I had a class with Dr. Keele that changed my life forever. I grew even closer to probably my best friend at BYU. I had the opportunity to give this friend blessings. But nonetheless, I felt as if God had abandoned me.

Then a spark of hope came into my life. I was called to serve a mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in the Thailand Bangkok Mission. Thailand brought back the sparkle in my eyes, the laughter in my voice, and yet when I reflect back upon this semester, I look back and see the awful nature of this semester. I was hurt. I am hurt. I will be hurt when I look back upon this semester. But then I think of the exquisite joy I will find in sharing my testimony of Jesus Christ with the people of Thailand. Nothing, to me, can bring greater joy than that. Throughout this semester, I realized how much of a friend I really do have in Jesus. Even when all my other friends go off and leave me, I have a friend in Christ.

I know a lot of people use the term know when they refer to testimonies. I typically don't like that because religious knowledge is so tricky. But for me, I know that Christ is my heavenly friend. I know that He died for me. And as I write this post, tears in my eye, I realize that perhaps that was the point of my freshman year. To grow closer to Christ as I felt abandoned. To more fully accept the atonement in my life and see what it really means. Though I am prone to wander, I feel my Savior's love everytime I repent and come to Him in anguish, longing for my burden to be lifted. And that's what the people of Thailand need. They need a friend who can understand their economic poverty, the sorrows of their lives. Christ will help us. He is who He says He is.

And that's the best news of all.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Thailand Love

My research paper may be a nightmare, but I love Thailand even more now. I didn't know that was possible. But I have a headache from reading so much and writing so much. SO long. Fix it.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

1 AM and Giving You All Cups of Joy

It's 1 AM here. I think you, gentle readers, need cups of joy. I don't know how to give cups of joy. So instead, comment on your cups of joy today. Here are some examples.

Thai Food.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

My Talk

The Atonement and Purpose

Jesus Christ as our heavenly friend offers us an infinite atonement. From the agony of the garden, to the anguish of the cross, Jesus Christ atoned for the sins, pains, and sufferings of the world. Then, in glory, he broke the chains of death and hell, and rose the third day, bringing to pass the resurrection. In Christ’s everlasting atonement, the world is offered a more excellent way. This more excellent way provides something that we strive so diligently to obtain but often cannot find: purpose. In my own experience, I have come to realize that the purpose brought through the atonement of Christ is a powerful tool in overcoming adversity. In this great and last sacrifice, Jesus Christ became my heavenly friend, a friend who teaches me of the great plan of our God, even the plan of salvation. This heavenly friendship provides me with comfort as I struggle to understand my purpose. In addition to a having a heavenly friend, the atonement defines my calling as a disciple of Jesus Christ and compels me to serve God with all my heart.

As we come to more fully accept the atonement of Christ, we can better understand the grand and wise plan of our God. We are taught in John 3:16 “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoso believeth on Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” Through His atonement, and only through His atonement, can we obtain the future blessings of eternal life. In a time where tribulations and trials, suffering and heartache, disappointment, disillusionment and discouragement all abound, we come to realize that Jesus Christ and His atonement provide our lives with a purpose beyond this life. We understand that all our earthly tribulations will be for our good, even if we cannot see how they may benefit us. Although at times we like sheep may go our own way, lost in the thorny paths of the world, we can rest assured that if we call to Him, Christ will come to rescue us. He will leave the ninety and nine to come to us. And then, as Isaiah prophesied, we shall see that “Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows.” We look forward to the greatest blessings of the future as we see that they await us if we enter into a covenant relationship with Christ. This hope in Christ is best expressed in the words of a hymn by Joseph M. Scriven:

Blessed Savior, Thou hast promised Thou wilt all our burdens bear
May we ever, Lord, be bringing all to Thee in earnest prayer.
Soon in glory bright unclouded there will be no need for prayer
Rapture, praise and endless worship will be our sweet portion there.

Christ bears our burdens and as we realize that as our lives are not burdened by sin, we may more fully experience the blessings of this life. The trials and temptations become guideposts as we strive to become more like Jesus Christ. We find that as we apply the atonement in our lives and seek its healing power, these trials make our resolve to press forward with faith stronger. Life, despite the seemingly unbearable pain we may feel at times, offers a multitude of opportunities for us to grow and to improve. As we let Christ and His atonement into our lives, one of the purposes of life, to grow and to learn, becomes evident and we begin to have a “mighty” change of heart. We also can experience an added measure of comfort, feeling our Savior’s love in the world around us. In a world where we often feel lost, we can know the way. David O. McKay once said:

“‘How can we know the way?’ asked Thomas, as he sat with his fellow apostles and their Lord at the table after the supper on the memorable night of betrayal; and Christ’s divine answer was: ‘I am the way, the truth, and the life. …’ (John 14:5–6.) And so he is! He is the source of our comfort, the inspiration of our life, the author of our salvation. If we want to know our relationship to God, we go to Jesus Christ.”

Through Christ, we can know the way, because He is the way. With Christ, our Savior and King, beside us we can return to live with our Father in Heaven.

But before exaltation and the joyful reunion with our heavenly family how can the atonement provide purpose for our lives here and now? The atonement of Christ, to me, has offered a new perspective. I view others differently because of my experience with the atonement of Christ. As I develop charity for others through this increased understanding, I have seen a drastic change in my life. I have a new desire to serve my fellow men and to care for those around me. As disciples of Jesus Christ, we are called upon to serve Him in every way possible. His atoning sacrifice reminds me that I must seek to be his true disciple. All around us there are people who struggle to feel loved, who long to see the good in the world, and who are in need. Christ’s marvelous sacrifice has given me a purpose: to help to heal the wounded people around me. As we bring people to Christ, we become true disciples and begin to, in a small way, understand Christ’s love for us. Another purpose of our lives, to bring others to Christ, serve others in any way we can, and, in turn, become God’s hands on the Earth, become more evident. We like God, become no respecter of persons and seek to help every brother and sister that we encounter. I find purpose as I strive to help others come to Christ and partake of His salvation. I find purpose as I strive to love as Christ would love. I find purpose as I consecrate my life to Him, striving to do what he would have me do. As I have done this in my life, I have seen the blessings that this purpose can bring. As I have strived to help my fellow men, I more fully understand Christ’s gospel and the future blessings that I may obtain as I strive to be a worthy son of God. My dear brothers and sisters, the atonement of Jesus Christ has caused me to do things that I could never do on my own. It has given me a purpose in my life and has lead me to green pastures. I bear testimony of His divinity, that He lives and loves us. He will come to us if we are in need.

In The Name of Jesus Christ I bear this testimony,


Thursday, April 2, 2009

Purpose with the Atonement

I was recently asked to prepare a talk on the atonement and how it gives us purpose. At first I was very puzzled. I hadn't really thought of the atonement in that exact light before. But then I was reading something just barely. It was David O. McKay's testimony of Jesus Christ.

“‘How can we know the way?’ asked Thomas, as he sat with his fellow apostles and their Lord at the table after the supper on the memorable night of betrayal; and Christ’s divine answer was: ‘I am the way, the truth, and the life. …’ (John 14:5–6.) And so he is! He is the source of our comfort, the inspiration of our life, the author of our salvation. If we want to know our relationship to God, we go to Jesus Christ. If we would know the truth of the immortality of the soul, we have it exemplified in the Savior’s resurrection. …"

Christ is the way. He is the purpose.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

An April Fools Day Not To Forget

So today was one big happiness after another. First of all I had Church history which was excellent, ASL which was amazing- I found out that I can do 4 No Voice Lab Hours can be the Deaf Ward and ASL General Conference. So there was much joy there. Then I had BOM which was wholly acceptable because I was already in a good mood. Then I had Sederholm's class. I love Sederholm. He's so funny, personable and just an amazing teacher all around. So after class we got our papers back. I had been so stressed out about my Spanish paper that week that I had blown off my American Humanities paper. But I wrote it. It seemed too easy. I turned it in a day late. I thought I would get a B. Turns out I got an A-! I was SO happy. That was great.

My day was great. April Fool's added a little humor too. Here's some of the tricks today:

1. April in Utah with snow?
2. Everything turned upside down in my apartment- Funny/Annoying.
And the best one....

Stop told me that Thailand will be closing due to the economic demonstrations. I was so scared at first and sad. But then he said April Fools! I was relieved. And I laughed. A lot.

Monday, March 30, 2009


So like I mentioned in my post with the Thai song, I have been pondering why the petty things hurt the most. Recently I got very upset about something that is seemingly so petty. I think the real reason I got upset though is the fact that it represents something has changed in my relationship with this particular friend. When I found out about this petty thing, all I could do was twiddle my thumbs and think about the fireside that I had later that night.

It hurt. A lot. Then again, life is very painful at times. To feel left out of something is a part of the human experience. To be left alone is also another part of the human experience. I guess I just have to learn that not everything works out the way we had hoped.

I think BYU, while it can be very fun and I will probably stay here, has exacerbated my pain at times. I feel so out of place sometimes as I fail to understand others motivations or other people's reactions to the religious beliefs of others. I find it to be an odd dynamic that I am still trying to figure out.

Though, I have a question for BYU alumnus who may be reading this blog: Why should I stay at BYU?

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Thursday Musings

So lately I have been so swamped I haven't known what to do with myself. Here are some happinesses and sadnesses. I like to look at both sides. First the sadnesses:

1. ASL 15 hour project still looming.
2. My BOM test- I am genuinely thinking there must have been a mistake. My score is too low compared to last time ( I seriously got above 95 last time). Also the number next to it made no sense whatsoever, I still can't figure that out. I think this is the deciding factor, though not the ultimate factor, that has made me realize that I don't really like Brother Parrish's class all that much. It feels like seminary rehashed, is spiritual at times, but often lacks depth and he goes off on bizarre tangets. I love him as a guy- he has a great personality but I would never recommend him as a teacher. I am also highly dissapointed that the Honors section is no different than the regular section. He would make an excellent seminary teacher but as a religion teacher I am giving him two thumbs down.
3. Other stressors are getting to me. I am so burnt out and ready to leave BYU for the summer. It's absurd.


1. Taco bell is delicious.
2. Thailand is incredible. I love it more everyday. Really.
3. School is over in less than a month!
4. I finished my 8 page Spanish Paper rough draft!
5. As of right now I have an A in Spanish linguistics- Professor Alvord is great.
6. Church history is fascinating.
7. ASL is pretty fun despite it being a major source of my frustration this semester.
8. American Humanities with Sederholm is a riot! I love him! He is hilarious!
9. Keele is still great.
10. Hotel Rwanda tomorrow.
11. Thai tomorrow!
12. Thailand!
13. Father in Israel
14. My family is great. I really am going to miss them a lot.
15. Did I already mention Thailand?

Friday, March 20, 2009

One Big Sigh


Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Things I Don't Like

Here's a list of things I don't like

1. Superiority complexes. I need to avoid this one.
2. Spanish papers that are this hard.
3. ASL 15 hour projects that I procrastinate.
4. Mormon exit stories- I am going to talk about this one today.

I know I blog a lot about Mormonism. I am a fan ( just in case you couldn't guess) of my faith and the complex matters of theology that it presents. I love to see both sides of the matter. I love to hear the criticism because it's so interesting to hear what interesting ideas people have about Mormonism. I was recently reading a Mormon exit story and I realized why I don't like them.

They quote things like this as evidence that Mormonism causes you to rely wholly on feelings you feel in your heart.

"The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked; who can know it?" (Jeremiah 17:9)

"He that trusteth in his own heart is a fool, but whoso walketh wisely, he shall be delivered." (Proverbs 28:26)

"Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding." (Proverbs 3:5)

"He feedeth on ashes; a deceived heart hath turned him aside, that he cannot deliver his soul, nor say, Is there not a lie in my right hand?" (Isaiah 44:20)

And these bother me. Can you really ever prove any religious system? Evangelicals who dislike Mormonism often love to point out that Mormonism has problems with x, y, and z, while ignoring the problems of a-w of Christianity in general. Also, what's up with this talk of a different Jesus? What does that even mean? My Christ is lesser than yours? Your Christ is greater than mine? My Christ is greater than yours? No to all of the above. I love my religion, you love yours, can't we have an honest dialogue where you don't throw out things like the Book of Abraham and I won't throw things at you like seeming Bible contradictions. I love Evangelism because of its beauty. Can't you do the same with Mormonism? Can you see anything beautiful in it?

Now let me step back and say this: not all Evangelicals are out to get Mormons. In fact it is a small minority. But, I feel pain when my "christian" (and I mean lowercase) brothers attack the Christian saints. It makes me just as sad, however, when my "christian" saints attack my Christian brothers. I will leave you to figure out my distinction.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Yellow Fever and Tuesday Musings

Recently one of my friends told me that she thinks I may have yellow fever. Not the real yellow fever. But the one where missionaries come back and get married to someone who is from their mission to Asia. Or someone from that nationality. I hadn't really thought about seriously but I guess it is a possibility. The Thai people are a beautiful people. Very beautiful girls. But who knows? Marriage is so not on my mind at this point.

Here are a few things that are on mind instead: Church History Test, Spanish Paper (Pesadilla), BOM reading, ASL Hours (ME DIE WILL), and my American Humanities paper. Sadly, there is no way for me to be able to avoid any of these. So I will pray for strength and it will work out. I know it will somehow.

I have felt more tired lately. And while I am still working on my Lenten goal, it has been really difficult lately. Today I got up at 7:20. Sigh. But at least I am trying right? Today I am going to work really hard on my paper to get it done. It will happen. I know I can do it. Also on tap for today: MLK rushwrite, ASL, Devotional in ASL, Spanish 329, Work on Paper, Civ.

Let's hope I can get this all done.

Friday, March 13, 2009

My New Thai Obsession and Random Friday Musings

I don't know why but I really like this song. A lot. I can't understand it except a few scattered word like krai (who),raai (bad)and a few others. It's a soothing song.

Ost.ปิดเทอมใหญ่หัวใจว้าวุ่น - รอเธอหันมา - โฟกัส

In other news, I am hoping that I can get all my homework done for next week. I think it's doable, it's just a matter of being patient with myself. I have a sizeable to-do-list, but if I don't take a break this weekend, I am going to die from the sheer amount of stress. There is just too much to do. But a break will be good. And next week, I will study very hard. And do my ASL hours. 15 hours. Wow. But I know I can do it. I have been in bigger crisises before. Much bigger.

I have an obsession with stress. I thrive on stress. Some part of me really loves being stressed out despite what I say sometimes. I think it's because I feel like I have to prove something maybe? Or maybe it's something to do with a desire to be productive continually. Probably my Puritan stock (and my inordinate obsession with them).

So I totally did way better on my Spanish test than I thought I would. It was a great happiness in my life. I got an 88/100. Though this was one of the lower scores in the class, I did perfect on the syntax trees. I am obsessed with syntax. It is too fascinating for its own good. People say it's like math. Maybe I don't give math enough credit. But I am still not going to take it. Deal?

And I got up late this morning. Meh. Whatever. I have been dang good this week. I deserved a break.

I may add more to this post later. As of now, I am out of fresh material.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

What I needed to realize today

I am going to post my (somewhat terrible) but interesting Parzival paper here. I needed this message today. And yes, it's only 9 AM. I need the true lover. Always.

Parzival and the True Lover
A Christological View of Parzival

In the Middle High German epic poem, Parzival, the theme of a true lover or a redeemer, prevails. It is only through the grace of this true lover, Jesus Christ, that mankind can be redeemed from the Fall of Adam and healed from the wounds associated with this Fall. In order to provide this healing, Christ himself is crucified, wounded and in this process that came to be known as the atonement, provides salvation for all mankind who take advantage of this atonement. As disciples of Jesus Christ, however, men must become disciples in imitatio Christi, becoming God’s servants to help others become redeemed through the true lover. Throughout the journey of the title character, Parzival, this redemption through Christ and his servants, disciples in imitation Christi, can be seen in the overall theme of the wounding of Abrahamic potential and in the specific example of the wounds of Amfortas being healed by the grail and Parzival’s question.

In Parzival, the Abrahamic covenant made manifest through the male reproductive organs plays a prominent role in the story of salvation through Jesus Christ. Before Parzival embarks on his journey, Wolfram tells of his birth. “He could not be other than fondled and cherished, for he was possessed of the organ of a man” (pg 63). A little later, when Parzival arrives at Gurnemanz’s castle, the women who bathe him would like to see “if something had happened to him down below” (pg 92), but they decide to leave the room in favor of modesty. These references to the male reproductive organs speak to an Abrahamic covenant of eternal posterity. With wounds in these organs, there is no possibility of eternal increase. Typically, this wounding results from sin, lack of care or simply the effects of the Fall of Adam. This covenant of eternal increase, first established with Abraham, cannot be fulfilled as long as the reproductive system is wounded. A kind of wound that cannot be healed by medicine alone, it must be healed by the wounding of another or the true lover, Jesus Christ. Thus, without someone to atone for this wounding, there is no way to overcome it.

The way the wounds are healed is seen through the story of Anfortas, a man wounded in the testicles, who seeks healing per the grail’s instructions. The grail requires that a question be asked in order for Anfortas to receive healing (pg. 130). Parzival, per the counsel of Gurnemanz (pg. 94), does not answer this question and thereby cannot offer healing to Anfortas. This speaks to the role of those who elect to follow God and their crucial role as God’s hands. Parzival, by refusing to ask the question of his fellow man, and offer an extension of help, retards the healing ability of the grail, the symbol of the true lover, to offer true healing to the wounded Anfortas. Parzival slacks his duty as a disciple in imitatio Christi. He takes the advice of Gurnemanz too far, refusing to ask any kind of question that could result in healing or comfort. In Parzival’s attempt to follow the societal rules, he fails to follow a higher, spiritual law. Gurnemanz’s rules about how to act as a knight seem to apply more to a “courteous” level of living rather than the ideal “templeous” (Keele). Those who desire to be redeemers of the men around them, must exhibit an understanding of the higher law of conduct and its implications for all of humanity.

In Parzival’s Christological story, Wolfram explores the implications of the wounding in the token of the Abrahamic covenant and the ultimate necessity for an atonement to be made. In addition to this atonement, however, there must be disciples of Jesus Christ who act as saviors in imitatio Christi in order to make this atonement more fully efficacious on behalf of the fallen race of Adam who desire to have the blessings promised to Abraham. Without these disciples in imitation Christi, the redemption is frustrated and the atonement of Christ cannot be extended as effectively.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Evangelicalism in Me?

Am I the only Mormon out there who does not like Mormonism's discussion of theosis (doctrine of becoming gods) at times? This Sunday, we talked about it in our Elder's Quorum. Whenever we talk about this particular doctrine, I get really uncomfortable. Let me give a few reasons as to why I think I get uncomfortable with this.

1. It's often presented in a manner that seems... well... almost irreverent. ( I really don't mean to judge, you can call me out if you feel I am absurd.) It seems almost like it's irreverent when we discuss it because it is something that we really don't actually know that much about. In fact, I don't know that we really know much of anything about it, besides the possibility of it.

2. It leads to a lot of folk doctrine. I heard someone asked where a scriptural reference was for "As man is God once was and as God is, man may become." Turns out, that's actually not scripture. Then I heard someone else say that it was said by a living prophet, so it might as well be scripture. This again, seems folk doctrine-y to me. We really don't take everything that prophets say as doctrine because to do such is a scary proposition. We only take statements that are evaluated and made canon. I am not saying I don't agree with Lorenzo Snow's couplet but I am saying we need to be very careful when we start throwing around doctrine when, in reality, it could just as well be folk doctrine.

3. As mentioned earlier, it gets at my Evangelical side when Mormons talk about it. Again, it's not that I don't believe it, it's just that I don't claim to understand it. I don't know how it works, when it will happen, and what it means exactly. Of course I believe in our divine potential, but there is still something about it that makes me really uncomfortable. Now I know we shouldn't cater to be popular, but I can't help but imagine what would happen if we had had a non-member in our midst. What would they have thought of our discussion? Are we keeping our discussions in harmony with Gospel teachings? Are we recognizing the role of grace in our salvation? Are we recognizing that we need grace? Again, my evangelism creeping in.

Granted, dear readers, please realize, I do believe in divine potential. I think it's a beautiful doctrine, but I just wish it were presented differently.

I hate to sound judgy. I am not trying to judge anyone in particular, I am just stating my opinions and questioning this theological undestanding. If I am in the wrong, I will back off, but could someone please help me to understand this?

Saturday, March 7, 2009

10 Happinesses

So this week I had two tests. I have yet to see how I did on them, but I don't think I did too hot. So, instead of moping about, I am making a list of 10 happinesses.

1. Books written by, not about, Paddington Bear.
2. Blueberries.
3. Chucking it up- With their scones.
4. Jacob's theological teachings in 2nd Nephi.
5. Sleep.
6. Alan Keele.
7. Thailand.
8. Thailand. Er... I mean family.
9. Disney music dubbed.
10. Board games.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Do I fit in?

BYU has a tendency to send around more surveys than are humanely possible to complete. I often get frustrated that my guilt often gets to me and forces me to do them. They often asks the same questions over and over again. One that I have been thinking about lately is this one: how well do you fit in at BYU?

One of my friends from High School recently decided to leave BYU after this semester. His reasoning? Everyone at BYU is too scared of differences. I can see his point to an extent. When I tell people my views on everything, I tend to see a lot of criticism. This is not a complaint, but rather a statement of fact. I have been called out as "apostate" (in "nicer" words) many times. I have been accused of raising my heel against the Lord's anointed. I have also been accused of "spiritually wounding" someone. I have been accused of being ridiculous for supporting legalized abortion and other platforms typically viewed as Democratic. And through all of this, I have felt my friend who decided to leave BYU's pain. BYU students do often desire other BYU students to be homogeneous. This is evident in everything from political beliefs (because everyone knows God is a Republican) and religious beliefs (Church History is exactly as it is presented in Sunday School).

So how well do I fit in at BYU? I would say I actually don't fit in at all most of the time. But then there are moments where I start to sing a hymn or talk about theology where I do fit in at BYU. So I guess the answer is, I fit in until people start to get uncomfortable with my beliefs. (So basically never.) People often assert that they are right (as in the case where I was told I don't have the Spirit of the Lord because I received revelation different from them) and often ignore the other side of the coin. I think this is more spiritually damaging than anything else in the world. To cast your brother in a light that is not correct and then tout yourself as correct is irresponsible.

Granted, I do the same thing, but I like to see myself as an open-minded, dialectical thinker. I will listen to your arguments, but I will point out holes in them and defend my own. When people, however, begin to attack my standing as a Mormon, I dig my heels in big time. I belong to a Church where people can be different. Mormons aren't all carbon-copies. That isn't God's plan and it never will be.

Furthermore, would I want to fit in? Nope. Why? Somehow I doubt that Paul or Thomas ever fit in.

God Help the Outcasts

I am infatuated with this song in any language. And now I am listening to it in Thai. I will probably blog more later today.

The Hunchback of Notre Dame - ขอพรให้คนจน (God Help The Outcasts) - ผุสชา โทนะวณิก

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Some Sunday Gems

So today was a good day at Church. I bore my testimony. I avoided the thankamony for the most part, but I did talk a little bit about Thailand. Then and again I can't get two sentences out without talking about Thailand. Here are some Sunday Gems (funny and serious) from today.

1. I would like to bear testimony of the cleared sidewalk.
2. The traditional testimony bearer who takes 10 minutes to tell stories. She has a testimony, so why not share it?
3. The excellent testimony about her symposium paper and the missionaries. She even mentioned my name! I felt so happy.
4. Mormons are feeble minded- My Sunday School teacher proposed that Mormons are feeble minded people who are "humble" enough to accept the Gospel. Does humble mean stupid? Please. Someone let me know.
5. Life is a beach, then you drown.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Friday Musings and Prayers

Lately I have been very happy but also a bit distraught in some ways. It seems that a particular clique has developed in my ward. I thought I had escaped in High School. Alas, it apparently is inescapable. How naive of me to think that I would escape human nature! I am not really mad about this, just somewhat disappointed. Cliques, I feel, diminish personal relationships and place greater value on hanging out rather than actually being true friends. I have felt a twinge of pain as I have experienced this, as for the first time it actually matters to me. When I came to BYU, I longed to avoid this social aspect of the college experience. Unfortunately, it is not avoidable. Part of me is very glad to not be involved in a clique, however. I want to be everyone's friend. Frankly, I don't really care about hanging out in a group, I want personal relationships. I want to have time one on one or in small groups. I want to be able to extend a hand of fellowship to people. I want to be kind to everyone. As tacky as I may sound, it is actually one of the most important facets of my existance. And while I may not like some people, I desire to be cordial and loving to all. The only pain that I feel from it is that perhaps in this process I have lost a friend here at BYU. Not really lost, our relationship is just not the same as it used to be. And how I long for it to return to the escapades of last semester. But, if not, I will continue. Life goes on and we find happiness. I feel passed over at times. I feel distant. But life will continue and I will go on despite this pain in my life. It really is a pain. Life is more painful than we would like. But with strength and prayer I know that I can do all things. Preachy. I know. Another pain. A friend of mine told me of the struggle of one of her very close friends. I will be pleading with God on their behalf. People need all the prayers they can get.

But I also had many other happy events. My prayers were answered on behalf of one of my friends. I was ever so worried about this friend as she has struggled with some particular issues in her life. I prayed extra hard for her. And my prayers were answered.

But what about when God doesn't answer my prayers? What happens if I don't regain that relationship with my friend that I ache for or when I pray for a burden to be lifted and it isn't or when I pray to be given strength to overcome something and then I falter. Does that mean God doesn't care or that my prayers aren't heard? Sometimes I like to see God answer all my prayers, all my fasts, all my aspirations. But more often than not, it isn't meant to be. In my heart, however, I turn to a song that has deeply touched me as I have struggled in life, particularly this semester.

  1. Unanswered yet? The prayer your lips have pleaded
    In agony of heart these many years?
    Does faith begin to fail, is hope departing,
    And think you all in vain those falling tears?
    Say not the Father hath not heard your prayer;
    You shall have your desire, sometime, somewhere.
  2. Unanswered yet? Though when you first presented
    This one petition at the Father’s throne,
    It seemed you could not wait the time of asking,
    So urgent was your heart to make it known.
    Though years have passed since then, do not despair;
    The Lord will answer you, sometime, somewhere.
  3. Unanswered yet? But you are not unheeded;
    The promises of God forever stand;
    To Him our days and years alike are equal;
    “Have faith in God”; it is your Lord’s command.
    Hold on to Jacob’s angel and your prayer
    Shall bring a blessing down sometime, somewhere.
  4. Unanswered yet? Nay, do not say ungranted;
    Perhaps your part is not yet wholly done;
    The work began when first your prayer was uttered,
    And God will finish what He has begun.
    If you will keep the incense burning there,
    His glory you shall see, sometime, somewhere.
  5. Unanswered yet? Faith cannot be unanswered;
    Her feet were firmly planted on the Rock;
    Amid the wildest storm prayer stands undaunted,
    Nor quails before the loudest thunder shock.
    She knows Omnipotence has heard her prayer,
    And cries, “It shall be done,” sometime, somewhere.
I am happy. Contrary to the negative tone of this post, I am very happy. However, it is a bittersweet time in my life. But I am determined to, as one of my friends has said, take what comes my way and love it.

Monday, February 23, 2009

A Quick Blog on Lent

My Lent this year. First time I am actually doing Lent. I am still working out the details of my Lent.

But at least 5 days a week- Bed by 10:30 up by 6:30. I am hoping it works. It's my sacrifice. And to get me accustomed to missionary time.

Pray for me to make it work?

And also, I can know recognize the word koon in Thai songs. It means you.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

More Thai

So I listen to Thai songs a lot. I really like their national pride. And so I am posting their national anthem. I wish I could sing it, but I can't quite yet. The only words I know are the last couple. Chai chai yo means hooray from what I can gather.

thai national anthem - thai

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Les Rois Mages

I am addicted to this song now. And it's not even in Thai. Or a language that I speak.

Les Rois Mages "Tweedle Dee Tweedle Dum" - SHEILA

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

A Thought for the Day

Have I done any good in the world today?
Have I helped anyone in need?
Have I cheered up the sad and made someone feel glad?
If not, I have failed indeed.
Has anyone’s burden been lighter today
Because I was willing to share?
Have the sick and the weary been helped on their way?
When they needed my help was I there?

Then wake up and do something more
Than dream of your mansion above.
Doing good is a pleasure, a joy beyond measure,
A blessing of duty and love.

There are chances for work all around just now,
Opportunities right in our way.
Do not let them pass by, saying, “Sometime I’ll try,”
But go and do something today.
’Tis noble of man to work and to give;
Love’s labor has merit alone.
Only he who does something helps others to live.
To God each good work will be known.

Then wake up and do something more
Than dream of your mansion above.
Doing good is a pleasure, a joy beyond measure,
A blessing of duty and love.

I wondered a lot about this today. It was a day where I felt really quite busy, stressed out, and all together, not too hot, but I figure, if I lifted anyone's burden, caused someone to smile, even for a moment, I had done something worthwhile. In the end, it doesn't really matter how much I got done, but the quality of what I did get done. Taking time out of my schedule to comfort a friend is much more important to me than a grade on a test. Being there is more important than Facebook.

Am I trying to be like Jesus? Enough? Can I do more?

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

For People Off BYU Campus

For those of you off BYU campus, I am going to post a link of SeagullJaap opening his mission call. Today, the BYU filter must have had a slight glitch, so I got to see my reactions on film. Right after I finished with it, the filter went back up and I couldn't go back to review or tell people fast enough. Odd how things like that happen.

I have had a great day today. I finished the Book of Mormon. I will blog about my experience with that later. I also did all the things I felt like I needed to do earlier today. Now it is on to more homework. I send my blessings to all of my gentle readers.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Sabai Dee

So today I have been listening to this. A lot.

so close - Enchanted - Thai Version.mp3 -

And I finally understand one word! Sabai dee means fine, thanks. Dee appears to indicate a word for good/well/fine/happy. I couldn't believe it. Amidst all the tonal things that I couldn't even begin to understand, I picked up my first bit of Thai conversation. A simple phrase? Yes. But a phrase! This is a small victory in SeagullJaap's book. I am still listening to Thai obsessively but I have been getting back on the homework track. I just had to blog today since I haven't blogged recently. I am still so excited to go to Thailand so I have been a pretty good child lately. I have tried my best to keep the commandments and to VLOGROP everything. I have been trying my best to be focused on what God wants me to do. I feel so different from how I felt before my mission call. I feel more restless but more loving and more compassionate. I am praying this continues.

Friday, February 13, 2009


So for those of you who don't know SeagullJaap nor his family probably don't know about his family's obsessive personality. We tend to obsesses over things for extended periods of time. And in my case the last couple of days have been occupied by two things: chewing gum and reading about Thailand, Thai, the Church in Thailand, and just about everything you could imagine about the culture, people, places, and the Work in Thailand. In fact, it is rather late and I should be in bed, but I want to blog before I sleep.

Thailand is going to be so cool. Their culture seems to be a friendly one, non-confrontational and really family oriented. The people are often seen smiling for one reason or another. I cannot touch their heads, point my feet at them, or physically touch them. This will be a difficult one for me. I am a very tactile person. I love to give people hugs and rub their hair. But I want to respect their culture. I tend to be a respectful person. Their culture is very unique and beautiful. Just because it is not Western, does not diminish it's beauty. In fact, my feelings for the Thai people are already very strong. I feel very touched by the conversion stories of the natives of Thailand. I cannot wait to share the Gospel with them. Sure, it's going to be hard. It will take more faith than I have ever had to show. But I am praying extra hard.

Intersting fact: Thai means free. They are the only people to never live under Colonial Rule. Fascinating.

Really, though, could someone tell me when the shock of going to Thailand is going to fade? I am hoping never.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Doctrine and Covenant 75

So today, after a long day of being so excited, and being so immensely thrilled, I began to feel somewhat inadequate. I thought to myself, am I really ready to speak Thai? To go to Thailand? God has promised us so often that He will be with us. Today I read one of my new favorite scriptures where I applied it to myself.

In Doctrine and Covenants 75:13, Joseph Smith addresses some missionaries who are to go forth to preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ. I replaced my name with theirs.

And again, verily thus saith Lord, let my servant Jacob take his journey into the eastern countries (Thailand) and proclaim the things which I have commanded him; and inasmuch at he is faithful, lo, I will be with him even unto the end.

I know that God will attend me as I strive to do this. I feel deeply humbled and very touched by the Comforter or the Holy Spirit. I am prepared to serve the Lord. I am anxious and excited to go to Thailand. And I pray that God will help me as I strive to do that which I know to be right.

The Day of Pentecost

Today started off like any other day. I woke up went to class. But this day was different. Today I was going to get my mission call. Today I was going to become a servant for my God. So I waited more patiently than I thought was possible. I made it through class, stress and concern. Andrew called me and told me about Argentina! I was so stoked. I knew he would love it. Before I left for Salt Lake, I looked up one language that I thought would be difficult but interesting- Thai.

Then I went to my BOM review. I caught the 5:17 bus to SLC. My mom had called me during the review but said that the mail had not come yet. I was anxious. She called me while I was on the bus and said it had arrived. I got home a bit later through my sister Nicole. David was running a bit behind and came a little later. We ate and guessed our places. We sat down and got everyone on a conference call. The letter opener glided across nicely. I opened the letter. My eyes wandered but I didn't believe it. The Spirit rushed through my body. Cloven tongues of fire. The Spirit. Thailand Bangkok Mission. June 3, 2009.

God called me to a place where people need Christ. And if I can only share with them my testimony of the Redeemer of the World, I will be happy. Christ. My Savior. But most importantly their Savior. I already love the people of Thailand. I weep at the thought that I am able to share the Gospel with them. Despite my doubts, my pains, my misery, my struggles, and my problems, I was called to the work. God sees something in me I can't see in myself. Somehow, God knew that I needed to go to Thailand to share the Gospel of my Lord and Savior. For I believe in Christ, so come what may, with Him I will stand, in that great day...

I can't believe this. The Gospel is true. And God knows me better than I know myself.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Make it come faster!

Please. Make it come faster. I can't even do my homework I am so distracted.

I want to say more, but I am too lazy to do that. I am Facebooking and G-Chatting it up. I need to have real food, that will calm my nerves. Not just cookies and pizza. Maybe actually getting it will calm my nerves.

Sigh. Any thoughts for me during this time?

I Will Sing Of My Redeemer - Fernando Ortega

Monday, February 9, 2009

The Book of Mormon- 1 AM Musings

So I guess if I am going out to evangelize the world about a "golden bible" , I should probably formulate my testimony on the Book of Mormon. Once considered a stumbling block for my testimony, I now consider the Book of Mormon to be the keystone of my religion, my faith.

The power of the Book of Mormon is very hard to express. I think if we harden our hearts, we miss out on this book. I remember during my doubt period, I ignored the Book of Mormon, cast it aside, seeing it as a non-Christian, uninspired text. As I came to study more closely, however, I realize that it is the text that I was searching for during my religious experience.

I wanted a Savior who felt the pains of dealing with the problems I had as a 14 year old boy. I wanted a Savior who would let me feel the wounds in His hands and weep at His feet. I want a Savior who would heal me of my afflictions. I wanted a Savior who would hold me, embrace me, love me no matter what. In the Book of Mormon, I found this Savior. After years of searching, refusing to embrace the Gospel, I found Him. And what exquisite joy I felt. The Book of Mormon contains a Christ who bore my sorrows and one who would help me.

I like the Book of Mormon's discussion of the atonement. My testimony has always been strong of the reality of Jesus Christ as the Son of the Living God. My testimony of the atonement is strong. Christ carried our sorrows and our pains along with our sins. I also imagine that the atonement also included a fullness of our joy. Christ knows both sides. This way He can be with us always. I need the atonement so badly. I don't think I can express that enough. I am a sinner. I make a lot of mistakes. I am not perfect. I try so hard, but often I make mistakes. I have temptations. I have the follies of my youth. I have problems. But through the atonement, I am happier. I have come to realize that as I believe Christ, I obtain a fullness of joy. And this testimony has come through the Book of Mormon.

I am eager to share the Book of Mormon. It has such theology. I have a testimony of its divine nature. I pray I can share this witness that I have receieved.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

The Spirit is Strong

It may be coming this Wednesday. Elder Newman? I am so excited. I never thought I would see this day. But I know that the Gospel is true and I am out to tell the world of my deep and abiding love for Jesus Christ, my Savior and my God. I know the Gospel is His Gospel. I believe in Christ so come what may. Whether Provo or China, I am ready to serve my Lord and my God.

Post your last guesses here!

Saturday, February 7, 2009

To Choose that Good Part

I have often felt like a Martha. Forget the fact that I am a man or that I am not a housewife, I just empathize with Martha. I often feel troubled about a lot of things in my life. Often people who don't know me very well perceive my life as problem-free, as I have a fairly cheerful and happy exterior. In fact, I really don't ask too much of people and I try to be as loving as I can.

Often I get troubled about things in my life. I have problems, I sin, and I fall down. Often I resolve to deal with these issues on my own, praying unto God to give me the will to be able to do it. Lately, however, I have come to a realization. In my hurry-burry life at BYU, I have become more and more like a Martha. I am troubled and worried. I often languish because the answers in my life aren't immediate. I don't know why I am challenged with the things that I am and as I try to seek the answers, the only thing I get is comfort. Often I feel like I should have more than this. Today I began to realize, as I write this post, that perhaps comfort is the best answer at this point. It may not be the most acceptable answer to someone who continually seeks for solid, hard facts, but it will do. Maybe, in the end, I am not supposed to know the answers right now. In time, they will come. I pray.

I resolve to be less of a Martha and choose that "Good Part"- feasting upon the comfort and the words of my Savior.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Random Friday Musings

My ward thinks I am anti-social. Excellent. My plot for world domination through hermitage becomes more and more clear. Granted, the person who told me this (in a much nicer way than I have phrased it) is a guy in my ward who I tend to not want to have social interactions with really. He is the kind of person that is just always there. And while a very nice guy, I tend to avoid large group situations where everyone is just there and I am just there for the few people that I am close friends with.

This semester has been a really rough one for me. I have been pretty stressed out and I feel much more serious this semester for some reason. On the other hand, however, I am doing fantastic with everything. This week I have been good at practicing the piano (for the most part), I have read my scriptures faithfully, I have attended classes, done my laundry, tried to eat a bit healthier, prayed more sincerely than usual. And frankly, my ward's view of socializing is a bit raucous for me at times. Last semester I had fun, yes. But on the other hand, I was also put in situations where I was like, meh. I would rather be doing something else. I also realized who my real friends were. Probably not the girl who called me out as apostate. Probably not the guy (same as above) who got mad at me for texting and yelled at me for it. My real friends are probably the ones who I can joke about who would make a good Mormon, someone who can argue with me about Prop 8 and then we can agree on something and proceed to eat Swedish Pancakes. And probably the person who is so tender and kind and makes me dinner a lot- or we go to the Cannon Center and laugh together. The value of true friendship cannot be underestimated. When I came to BYU, I was a bit terrified of making new friends. Then, as it turns out, the people at BYU are fun. One day of Late Summer Honors I met my friend Rachel, not knowing that we were in the same ward or anything. Then on the first day of orientation, there she was. We talked, laughed, and had a good time. Rachel was someone I felt comfortable talking to, someone I could be myself around. From taking pictures of potted plants on my head to commenting on the value of Good Mormons in the world, we laughed our way through the first semester at BYU. She was there for me when I had it rough and I always tried to be there for her. And now we are in our second semester. I don't see Rachel as much, mostly because I am busy, and she is busy. But we are still the best of friends. I hope I can see her more as the semester progresses.

So anyway. That's one musing. Friendship.

Another musing is about the Deaf. I have been attending ASL club lately. I really enjoy it. I have come to realize that I really do have a deep and abiding love for the Deaf. They are funny, articulate and intelligent people. I would love to serve them in some capacity in the future. They are a blessing in my life. ASL probably was one of the motivating factors in my true conversion. The Church does a lot for the Deaf and so I own almost everything they put out specifically for the Deaf. In fact, I am eagerly awaiting the Doctrine and Covenants in ASL. I hope it comes out soon. Although translation in ASL is quite the process. The mere fact that it has to be signed is pretty daunting. And the Doctrine and Covenants is not an easy text to translate either.

Once I am endowed, I may contact my seminary teacher from my senior year and see if I can go to an ASL session. Apparently the Church has done a new translation of that that seems to have worked marvels for Deaf endowed members, who now more fully understand the endowment. And who knows, maybe I will need to do it since I could very well end up serving the Deaf.

About that, I have finally come to terms with serving an ASL mission. I know I have said in the past that I have come to terms with it but I hadn't really. I realized (felt impressed?) at ASL club this last Wednesday that I must have learned ASL for a reason. I don't know why yet, but I feel very strongly that there was a divine purpose for it.

I really want to go to Argentina. Does that sound selfish? Anyhow, I am waiting nervously. I didn't know I could have this weird kind of distraction that is omnipresent in the way this distraction is. My main concern is that two years of my life is contained in like one sentence. And I don't know when my call is going to come, which makes me even more anxious. It could come this Wednesday. In fact, the missionary committee meets today, so I could very well already be assigned to a mission for the Church! How weird of a thought is that?

As you can tell, it's a random Friday musing. I had so much to say, but nothing to really say at the same time. I just thought I would tell someone about that. Whoever reads my blog at least. I often wonder about lurkers on my blog. I wonder who reads but never comments. So if you are a lurker, don't be shy please. I love comments.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

And Peace

Let there be peace on the earth, good will to men and sunshine in our souls.

I will add to this post later.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Edward's Obsession

Have you ever been reading something that you want to quote all the time? This was my reaction to my Humanities 261 readings by Jonathan Edwards, of Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God fame. I am a huge fan. I guess this relates back to my Protestant/Evangelical Envy. And my Puritan obsession. He also was involved in the First Great Awakening. Anyone who knows me well enough will tell you my obsession with religious literature. I have an inordinate love for American religious revivals too. Especially if they take place in New England. But anyway, I digress. I found something I want to use in a sacrament meeting talk.

"I have loved the doctrines of the gospel: they have been to my soul like green pastures. The gospel has seemed to me to be the richest treasure; the treasure that I have most desired, and longed that it might dwell richly in me. The way of salvation by Christ, has appeared in a general way, glorious and excellent, and most pleasant and beautiful."

I like this image of the doctrine as a green pasture. It's a unique image. I think we should all study Edwards a bit more.

And for Friday we are reading Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God! Too excited.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

If Ye Have Desires To Serve, Ye Are Called

Nervous? That's an understatement. Excited? That's another one of the aforementioned. My emotions right now are pretty hard to explain. Part of me is very anxious in a good way, while another part of me cannot emotionally process this moment in my life. I think it all relates to my refusal for almost 5 years to serve a mission at all.

I remember the day where I finally decided. It was the day of my Yearbook Stomp, I think. I had had my cell phone for a very brief time. I felt the Spirit, for some reason, tell me that this was something I needed to do. I texted my friend in my ward and told him. He was happy. I was scared. And excited. And happy. Ultimately, my decision wasn't really a social pressure one, even though I thought it would come down to that. In 2008, I saw a lot of changes in myself that caused me to want to serve a mission. I wanted to testify of Jesus Christ, express my love for my Father in Heaven, who has changed me, and because I love my fellow men. I still have these desires. They have become a part of who I am.

I have a desire to serve and love my God.

On a slightly lighter note, here are 10 places I would love to serve.

1. Argentina- Obsessed with Argentina.
2. Chile- Chile would be cool.
3. Spain- The Motherland.
4. Mexico- I love Mexicans!
5. ASL California or Washington D.C.- I fist to lips, kissed then released (love) ASL.
6. Iceland- Inordinate obsesion with Iceland.
7. Sweden- My friend says Sweden would be pefect for me.
8. Russia?- That one's a shocker. It just sounds so interesting.
9. China-I always said I would go to China.
10. France- French is just cool.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

A Song

I love this song. I felt like singing it today. Comment on your thoughts on it.

Whenever I hear the song of a bird
Or look at the blue, blue sky,
Whenever I feel the rain on my face
Or the wind as it rushes by,
Whenever I touch a velvet rose
Or walk by a lilac tree,
I'm glad that I live in this beautiful world
Heavenly Father created for me.

He gave me my eyes that I might see
The color of butterfly wings.
He gave me my ears that I might hear
The magical sound of things.
He gave me my life, my mind, my heart:
I thank him reverently
For all his creations, of which I'm a part.
Yes, I know Heavenly Father loves me.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Degree Crisis

So every about three days I have this crisis. I ask myself, what am I going to major in? What do I want to do when I graduate? Blah, blah, blah. And then I look at my schedule for the semester. I didn't realize how many "useless" classes I am taking. Maybe useless isn't the term, but maybe not required or not essential to my progression towards graduation. So I am debating several issues at hand here. I have so many things that I would like to study but not nearly enough time. If I do well in my Hum 261 class, which I am loving, by the way, I will most likely do American Studies. But there's a part of me that still wants to do Communications, Spanish, and Non-Profit Management. I love them all so much. Here are some of my current life aspirations.

1. Professor of American Humanities- With emphasis on New England religious culture.
2. Social Worker- Advocacy for Deaf and Spanish speaking people.
3. Journalist- Who doesn't want to edit the opinion page or be an editorial writer for a major newspaper?
4. Publisher- I would love to go into... yep, you got it... Mormon publishing or some form of publishing. I guess under this title would also be bookseller.
5. Lawyer- Despite what I always say, this has always been in the back of my mind. I would, of course, however, not EVER work for a firm. I would prefer to do public defense.
6. A writer- Fiction, non-fiction, whatever.

It's one of those crisis times where I don't know what to do. Luckily I will have two years to think about it. Or avoid thinking about it. I don't know what's best.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Julie Through the Glass

I am a big fan of this Mormon Ad. Whenever Youtube isn't blocked, I look it up. I think it teaches a lesson I learned best from reading a book I initially loathed: Beloved. It teaches us to love ourselves. As we come to love ourselves, we will love others better.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Trying To Be Like Jesus

Today was a good day. I enjoyed it, despite being sick. I had my normal Monday schedule, which is hard, but delightful. I need to get better fast. I have to go to SLC to get my mission papers done soon. In fact, I need to make an appointment to get that done asap. I am anxious. Really quite anxious. I know where I want to go-Argentina anyone?- but something in the back of my mind says God may have other plans. I frankly don't care where I go. In fact, I would love to go to some places others would not like. The South would be wonderful for me. I have a deep love for the Evangelical people, who I think are some of the greatest people on Earth. I would also love to serve an ASL mission. I love the Deaf now more than ever and I want to be able to share the Gospel with them quite a bit. But no matter where I go, I will serve dilligently and pray for strength. So we will see. Any guesses anyone?

On The R.M.'s soundtrack there's a recording of I'm Trying To Be Like Jesus that I like a lot. It's a bit more jazzy than the version we are used to, but I still really enjoy it. I listen to it at least two times a day. I guess that's my life motto right? Trying to be like Jesus. What a task! How can I lift the beggar, give endless service, comfort, love the unlovable, and teach the Gospel, all while trying to figure out who I am and what I will become? It's an exhausting task that seems to never end. It's not just a once a day thing; it's a continous commitment. But I still try. Why?

I think since coming to BYU, I have learned the meaning of truly trying to become like Jesus. I have learned that I must stand up for what I know to be right, but I must be ready and worthy to offer comfort. But I am in no way perfect. I try a lot. I repent when I falter, calling upon my Heavenly Father to help me. But, I guess the reason I try is because I love Jesus. For all my life, Jesus seemed so distant, like words on a page or pictures in a book, until I really fully partook of His atonement in my life. It changed me and still changes me. I can honestly say that I am a different person today than I was on January 26th, 2008 or January 26th,2004. I think as I realized my divine commitment to service. My divine commitment to love. My life goes on. I sin, I falter and I contiune to feast upon the words of Christ, my Redeemer who loves me. Not really because I am lovable, but because I am trying to be more like Him. And that's a happy thought.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Sacred Day and Tender Mercies

I am the kind of person that often finds issues with particular facets of my Church meetings. Don't get me wrong, I really do love the Church and going to it. The Sacrament, the ultimate purpose of our worship, is very holy and I love the peace, comfort, and power that it brings to me. I view it as a kind of Pre-Endowment- the best temple prep we can have- as it reminds us of our eternal destiny, purpose, and our power through our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. And isn't that exactly what the temple is about? Power through Christ to live up to divine commitments? Anyway, I digress (as usual).

My Sunday today was not particularly happy. I loved the music in sacrament meeting, but didn't particularly enjoy the talks. They didn't do anything for me today. I read the Doctrine and Covenants, however, which may take over the Old Testament as my favorite book of scripture, during the entire meeting. Then I went to Priesthood, which was okay, but not really too great. Same lesson in Sunday School with less than dynamic teachers, who have strong, genuine testimonies but don't know how to express them at times.

Anyway, I wasn't feeling spiritually enthused until I had the most sacred event I have had in years. I won't go into details, but I exercised my Melchizedek Priesthood for the first time. And oh boy. It was intense. I can't wait to use it more and more in the future. I always want to be worthy to use it now because it is just so cool to use it. And frankly, I felt like in a way, I could have made a difference through my actions. And I hope to do that more often. To extend comfort to God's children is my greatest goal in life.

And it reminds me of why I will stay in the Church, why I will serve in my calling, and, most importantly, why I will serve a mission. The Priesthood is the connection to our past, present, and future. It reminds me of the old days of the Church that I sometimes long for. It reminds me of the nature of our use of the Priesthood to bless the lives of others in our everyday lives. And it reminds me of the glorious future we will have. I love the Priesthood more today than ever.

I needed the words I spake to another just as much as they needed them. I think that's how God teaches us. When we help others, without any selfish intent, He inspires and brings us help. Tender mercies- which are often not blessings, but rather, a moment of understanding. I pray for those everyday.

I encourage you, my gentle readers, to ponder on your spiritual experiences. Write them down. Ponder on them. When times get tough, look back on that and remember, those things which were tender mercies from God.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Spring Creek Books

Let me preface this post. After working at Seagull Book for almost two years I have come to see all the crazy Mormon product out there. I hope to return to this realm after my mission. Although I have seen a lot of crazy things, none can really compare to Spring Creek Books. They have everything from The Great Gathering to A Prophet in Palmyra. In their somewhat crazy, but amusing way, they are a nice addition to the market.

Lately I have noticed that they have not been publishing much. Surely something to do with the economy I imagined. I mean, Signature decided to stop publishing this year, and so it didn't seem too unusual. But Spring Creek is clearly struggling. They stopped distributing their own books last year and decided to go with Brigham Distributing (bad, bad, bad, bad, bad, bad, bad, bad, bad, bad, bad move in my mind- Granite Publishing and Distributing would have given them much better access to the market in my opinion). Also, Spring Creek is not accepting manuscripts right now. They didn't publish anything during Fall 2008- which is a nail in the coffin. Like every good LDS publisher knows, you save your cream of the crop for Fall. Often the success or failure of a book is based on the timing of its release, usually coffee table books and higher quality or pulp fiction a.k.a. Anita Stansfield do well in the Fall. So I knew Spring Creek was in trouble when I didn't see any new Spring Creek books come through towards the end of my tenior at Seagull. I have been half heartedly monitoring their site for several months, always wondering why they haven't published. Now it looks like, from all signs, unless there is some sort of miracle, they will go belly up.

Spring Creek made some stragetic errors. They used cheap covers, published some things that probably shouldn't have been published (We Lived in Heaven is just creepy, this one's pretty odd too right?, and this one too) But they also published some things that were real hits among the Mormon population (15 Secrets to a Happy Home, Leaning on Prayer, The Lost Sheep-two personal favorites, The Power of Your Patriarchal Blessing, Staying in Tune) but these couldn't account for other things that I mentioned above and other things like The Celestial City. I think Spring Creeks main problem is among their more palatable things, they didn't have anything that would really make them any money. Granite benefits a lot from its distrubtion of popular items, as does Sounds of Zion. But Springcreek would only publish paperbacks of a certain type. They shot themsleves in the foot. But I digress.

To be honest, this is a shame. The small or unique LDS publishers just can't make it. Parables, Signature, Spring Creek, Granite, they all struggle to find their place in the market. I feel like with the purchase of Seagull and Covenant, the new Deseret Book put themsleves in a position where other publishers basically lost a chance at ever seeing their books on the shelves. I am no business man but I think I have some sugggestions to improve market conditions for small publishers.

1. I would like to see Cedar Fort branch out to strengthen itself as their new position as the only major independent publisher and maybe take up some distribution of smaller publishers.
2. I would like Cedar Fort to start publishing the kind of fiction that Parables publishes.
3. Small publishers need to ban together to get their books on the shelves. If they have one major distributor that carries a lot of titles they have a way. Brigham is too weak, Granite is slightly stronger. I think the market is so saturated that one distributor needs to rise up to rule them all. I am not for a monopoly but frankly, the Mormon market is quite market. You have to have strong access to Seagull and Deseret shelves to ever hope to make it.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

But We Went on Our Way Rejoicing-101st Post

I love Spencer W. Kimball. He will always have a very tender place in my heart. He was very progressive for the Church with increasing focus on missionary work , temple building, The Miracle of Forgiveness and perhaps the most important thing to me, the extending of the priesthood to all worthy males and forever changing the role of blacks in the Church.

When Jane Elizabeth Manning came to Zion, she came for the Gospel. After converting in Connecticut, she walked to Nauvoo with her family. She said about this "Our feet cracked open and bled until you could see the whole prints of our feet with blood on the ground." Her feet literally bled so she could meet Joseph Smith. So she could be with the Saints. When she came with the Saints to Utah, what many people believed to be Zion, her troubles and sorrows were truly not through. She was denied the endowment and was allowed to be sealed to Joseph Smith as a servant. Her temple blessings were later revoked and then reinstated. What did she do when she was unjustly judged? She remained faithful in the Church and served faithfully throughout her life. I weep every time I think of the struggles of the blacks in the LDS church. In fact, I am weeping as I write this post. I feel deeply touched by the Spirit of the Lord.

And yet until 1978, the priesthood was not extended to the blacks. I don't know why. I don't intend to focus on that. And I don't want any debate about it. President Kimball did the right thing and was guided by God to end a policy that, frankly, I don't know actually was established by God. But that's not really the point of this post. I want to focus on Sister Manning's example.

I think when we look at our daily life, we often see the problems in the little things- the time when we didn't do as well on that test as we had hoped,when we wake up late, feel lonely- and often we develop a pessimistic attitude that our lives are ever so difficult. Imagine if you will, a day in the shoes of Sister Manning. Imagine walking until your feet bled until you are so weary, ready to give up, but you still press on because of your belief in Jesus Christ. Imagine being denied blessings for an unknown reason. But in the end she said this: "But we went on our way rejoicing, singing hymns, and thanking God for his infinite goodness and mercy to us." When we ponder our lives, are we going on our way, rejoicing, singing hymns, and thanking God for his infinite goodness and mercy to us? I hope and pray that we are.

Monday, January 19, 2009

The Gospel of Jesus Christ- 100th Post

I initially thought I would write Everlasting Burnings, but now is not the time. I may come back to that in the future as I have time to evaluate and so on. But to commemorate my 100th post, I decided to do something a bit different. I want to talk about my history with becoming a missionary. So basically, I guess I want to tell my conversion story.

I grew up in a very Mormon area in Salt Lake. I didn't really know much else outside of Mormonism or my community's cultural outlook. The youngest of seven siblings, I saw my siblings as they served missions, left the Church, experienced personal and familial difficulties, and prayed for relief. I didn't really know how I fit into my family. I felt somewhat lost as to my purpose. I remember hearing my mother say that they had prayed for a long time for me. I couldn't imagine why anyone would really want me. I didn't feel particularly special or particularly important. I didn't feel talented or needed, in reality. I remember as a child my desire to serve a mission seemed distant, at best, although I always said I would serve in China.

I was a precocious, rude, weepy, and somewhat annoying youth, but always tried to remember the teachings of Jesus. I didn't read scriptures like I should until I was 17. I fell into the follies of youth at a young age until many spiritual experiences prompted me to change my life. I abandoned a life where I was very unhappy for a life where I felt happy. Most would quote social pressure or societal expectations, but I don't really think that was the case. It was the Spirit that brought me back. The Spirit testified of an everlasting Gospel, simple, as presented in 3rd Nephi 27- the atonement of Jesus Christ, baptism, repentance, enduring to the end, resurrection, judgment, and eternal life. All else is dependent upon this. So when I face myself with theological quandaries- such as Adam-God, the Church's position on Proposition 8, blacks and the priesthood- I have learned that if it is not pertaining to Christ's Gospel, it is an irrelevant. Is it still difficult? Yes. Is it relevant to my salvation? No. What is relevant to my salvation is my obedience to the Gospel.

So now, here I am, 19 and finishing up my papers for a mission. I often wonder why I am serving a mission. I have discovered that I am not serving a mission because it is the social/societal "norm". I am not serving because I am particularly talented. I am serving because I love people. I love the Gospel. The Gospel is found within the framework of a Church. A human Church that is trying to connect with the Divine. I may disagree with some Church stances, but that does not change the basic framework of the Gospel. The Church administers the Gospel and I am going on a mission to proclaim a Gospel message of peace and love. I call people to Christ.

It is going to be hard. I am somewhat naive hoping for easy days. But I know it will be hard. I am praying for understanding as to where I go. I have some indications from the Spirit, but only time will truly tell. I am prepared, however, to share the Gospel.

I am ready to tell people about a carpenter in Galilee who was more than just an ordinary man. I am prepared to tell them about how he suffered in a garden and on a cross that He might draw all men to Him through His everlasting mercy. And to tell the world of the friend we find in Him. He will succor us in our most challenging moments and smile with us as we experience exquisite joy. This I know.

And that's the best news of all.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

99th Post

So looking back at my blog, it is fun to see how I have progressed this year. From better study habits, somewhat, to more liberal political views, to an ever increasing understanding of my baptismal covenants and the covenants I will shortly be making in the temple. I am eager for the temple, as most 19-year old Mormon guys are. I think that it will give me a new perspective on my baptismal covenants, which I take very seriously. Or at least I hope and pray I do.

I am pondering my 100th post- Everlasting Burnings. I may not blog for a bit and try to write that everyday and get it up to par. Or I may write a new narrative on my Prop 8 experience. Since I am more set in my ways about it and have come to perceive it quite differently than when the Church first announced it in June of 2008, that would be a great narrative. I would probably call it November 2, 2008, which is, of course, my birthday. I remember when our stake president came into our elder's quorum and asked for a group prayer for Prop 8. I did not like this. At all. I thought it was very inappropriate and entirely unnecessary. I didn't really talk about it on my birthday blog, but here's the link, to refresh your memory. http://jacobmuses.blogspot.com/2008/11/my-day.html

But I don't have much else to say. School is going well. Spanish got cancelled today due to some family issue with Prof Alvord. I am now practicing some ASL and taking it easy before class at 4. So all is well.