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.