Friday, March 29, 2013

In honor of Easter Sunday

I have been on an Elder Holland kick recently, watching the CES Devotional firesides, Israel, Israel God is Calling, and Cast Not Away Therefore Your Confidence, the General Conference talk, None Were With Him, and talks on missionary work. I'm constantly amazed and floored by his powerful testimony. I just want to take excerpts from a few of my favorite talks:

Missionary Work & the Atonement:
"I am convinced that missionary work is not easy because salvation is not a cheap experience. Salvation was never easy. We are the Church of Jesus Christ, this is the truth, and He is our Great Eternal Head. How could we believe it would be easy for us when it was never, ever easy for Him? It seems to me that missionaries and mission leaders have to spend at least a few moments in Gethsemane. [...]

Now, please don't misunderstand. I'm not saying we need to look for sorrow and I'm not talking about anything anywhere near what Christ experienced. That would be presumptuous and frankly sacrilegious. But I believe that missionaries and investigators, to come to the truth, to come to salvation, to know something of this price that has been paid, will have to pay a token of that same price.

For that reason I don't believe missionary work has ever been easy, nor that conversion is, nor that retention is, nor that continued faithfulness is. I believe it is supposed to require some effort, something from the depths of our soul.

If He could come forward in the night, kneel down, fall on His face, bleed from every pore, and cry, 'Abba, Father (Papa), remove this cup from me,' then little wonder that salvation is not a whimsical or easy thing. [...]

The Atonement will carry the missionaries, perhaps even more importantly than it will carry the investigators. When you struggle, when you are rejected, when you are spit upon and cast out and made a hiss and a byword, you are standing with the best life this world has ever known, the only pure and perfect life ever lived."

"my Easter-season message today is intended for everyone, but it is directed in a special way to those who are alone or feel alone or, worse yet, feel abandoned. These might include those longing to be married, those who have lost a spouse, and those who have lost or have never been blessed with children. Our empathy embraces wives forsaken by their husbands, husbands whose wives have walked away, and children bereft of one or the other of their parents-or both. [...]

Brothers and sisters, one of the great consolations of this Easter season is that because Jesus walked such a long, lonely path utterly alone, we do not have to do so. [...] Trumpeted from the summit of Calvary is the truth that we will never be left alone or unaided, even if sometimes we feel that we are.

This Easter week and alway, may we stand by Jesus Christ 'at all times, and in all things, and in all places that we may be in, even until death,' for surely that is how He stood by us when it was unto death and when He had to stand entirely and utterly alone."

Sunday, March 24, 2013


So today's my birthday, and I actually have a confession to make. I forgot it was my birthday till yesterday. & sadly, I'm being completely honest. I really did forget. With my mission call, packing up my things, getting my hands on every novel I can find before I leave, and several photography assignments I've had, it simply slipped my mind.

And it honestly has been a good day. My good friends Lealand and Richard made me dinner and a cake with candles & everything, my adorable Relief Society presidency got me a little bag of candies, and I received some very sweet phone calls and text messages. It's been a simple birthday, which I'm actually happy about. For me, birthdays stopped being fun after 21 but maybe I'm an odd one.

So in honor of my birthday, I figured this song was rather fitting since I'm now 24 years old. And this song speaks to me more and more, with the changes that'll soon occur, and the person I hope to be one day.

Twenty four oceans
Twenty four skies
Twenty four failures
Twenty four tries 
Twenty four finds me
In twenty-fourth place
Twenty four drop outs
At the end of the day 
Life is not what I thought it was
Twenty four hours ago 

Still I'm singing Spirit take me up in arms with You
And I'm not who I thought I was twenty four hours ago
Still I'm singing Spirit take me up in arms with You 

Twenty four reasons to admit that I'm wrong
With all my excuses still twenty four strong

See I'm not copping out not copping out not copping out
When You're raising the dead in me
Oh, oh I am the second man
Oh, oh I am the second man now
Oh, oh I am the second man now 

And You're raising these twenty four voices
With twenty four hearts
With all of my symphonies
In twenty four parts
But I want to be one today
Centered and true

I'm singing Spirit take me up in arms with You
You're raising the dead in me
Oh, oh I am the second man 

Oh, oh I am the second man now
Oh, oh I am the second man now 
And You're raising the dead in me

I want to see miracles, see the world change
Wrestled the angel, for more than a name
For more than a feeling
For more than a cause
I'm singing Spirit take me up in arms with You
And You're raising the dead in me
Twenty four voices
With twenty four hearts
With all of my symphonies
In twenty four parts.
I'm not copping out. Not copping out. Not copping out. 

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Why I'm Going (Mission Post)

In case anyone is out of the loop or cares to know, yes I am going on a mission. An 18 month mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

To start off with, if anyone is offended or is befuddled as to why they're just finding out now that I've gotten my mission call, I'll just clarify right now. I told no one about this decision except for my mother and Bishop when I decided to go at the end of November. Not even my siblings knew of my decision to go until recently. I did that for a few reasons:

1.) There is always and I mean always a stigma that accompanies a girl who tells everyone and their mom that she's 'going on a mission.' I didn't want to disclose that information mostly because I didn't want to hear from my guy friends who had gone on missions (which are many) about their terrible/disastrous/awesome/dim-witted/crazy/amazing sister missionaries in their district/zone. I didn't want to hear any of the bad or good stories because I didn't want to be swayed either way. This was something that was extremely personal to me and something that I wanted to handle by myself for a while before getting feedback from others. I didn't want to be influenced by everyone. I wanted to be influenced by the Spirit and myself.

2.) I had doubts the entire time I was putting my mission papers in. Up until the day I received my call I still struggled in thinking this was the right thing to do. I doubted my future, I doubted if I was even worthy enough to go, I doubted if I could afford to go, I doubted if I'd be a good missionary (or at least as incredible as my brother and sister were), I doubted how my family would really feel about it, I doubted what my friends & family would think who aren't affiliated with the Church about it, I doubted I was even ready. Having said this, with all my doubts that seemed to crush me time and time again and ravaged my sleep, I didn't want to publicly announce what I was going through. It was a self-preservation tactic. I didn't want to run the risk of looking like I was wishy-washy or changing my mind in case I decided not to go. Which I did contemplate several times.

Still, once I had met with the Bishop & Stake President, things began falling into place suddenly. Within several days of posting my car on ksl, it was sold, my bosses were completely supportive about the possibility of me going home, I was able to receive financial help from the Bishop & many of my siblings became inspired as to what to say to me when I finally told them.

So, after answering why I kept this a secret from everyone, I'll move on to the more pressing question which is:

Why do I want to go on a mission? I'm 23 years old & obviously not getting any younger. When I get back I'll be 25. I'll be leaving a really good job at UVU that could possibly turn into a career, I'll be leaving co-workers I love at both Barnes & Noble and UVU, I'll be leaving my friends who've impacted my life so much in Utah for a year & a half, and I'll be leaving my family and especially my nieces and nephews who I'd give my life for. So why? Why now? A few people have heard me say things about me wanting 'an adventure' or a 'completely different experience' and they wonder why a mission? Why not go to Europe like I've always talked about?

Aside from all of the intensely personal feelings and revelations I've received, and my patriarchal blessing that I can't share here, I'll just say this:

When I was in Europe, me and the kids from my BYU-Idaho group went to a little church in Paris, France one Sunday. (Strangely enough, I saw Elizabeth Smart. She apparently taught in the same area as the church we attended.) I had felt disillusioned with Paris (to be fair, the Rodin museum was well worth the trip but that's beside the point); the Eiffel Tower didn't impress me as much as I thought it would, there was pornography on newsstands everywhere, & it was just a dirty, ghetto city. But while I sat in the make-shift chapel where we took the sacrament and as I listened to the missionaries translate the service for us, there was something so incredibly peaceful and there was such a different spirit that I hadn't felt before in a long time. Afterwards, our teachers told us that today was a special day for the people of France. That Sunday they were doing a country-wide fast and prayer for a temple in Paris. Almost instantly my eyes filled with tears of their own accord. The faith of the Saints in France seemed overwhelming and suddenly Paris didn't seem as dismal and amoral as I'd thought.

I think about that experience a lot, and I've gone back to it several times in my mind. Yes, I do want an adventure, and yes I do want to be out of my element for a while; to push myself and become a stronger, better person, but the real reason I decided to go was that experience I had in France with people I didn't even know. I realized how much I could love complete strangers and the desire I had to help them, to serve them. Even if I never teach a single discussion or never tract, I won't mind. I'll be more than satisfied with raking a lawn full of fallen leaves, helping a little family move into a new home, opening a door for a little old lady struggling to carry her groceries. A mission is an opportunity for me to do that everyday, without worrying about being late for work or running this errand or that--that is my job, that is my errand. To be there for others who have no one. To help someone in dire need of a confidant, a friend, a smile.

So there, in the most convoluted way possible is my explanation for why I've all of a sudden decided to leave everything behind and give my life to this for 18 months. I know it's crazy. I know it won't make much sense. I know some of you don't really understand exactly why, even now. But this time will fly by so fast, and I'll be faithful in writing to all of you. I'm so grateful for the support and the words of encouragement all of you have shown me. I really desperately need it, now more than ever. The next year and a half will be the hardest of my life. I'll experience more spilled tears, more frustrations, more disappointments, more sleepless nights, more blisters and swollen feet, more heartbreak, more exhausting hours and more hunger than ever before. And yet, at the same time, I'll also experience more sweetness, more selfless love, more incredible spiritual experiences, more unrelenting strength, and more compassion then ever before. & I'm okay with that trade off.

Sister Megatron (has a nice ring to it don't it? ;)

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

I wish I was in Carrickfergus

I have a confession to make. My nerd-dom has not only leant itself to the Hobbit, nor is it solely confined to the realm of movies, soundtracks, art or literature.

Maybe it's because of St. Patrick's Day, maybe it's my current love of Collin O'Donoughe from Once Upon a Time or Allen Leech from Downton Abbey. Maybe it's my obsession with fairy tales and Celtic legends, maybe it's the consistency of attending the Renaissance festival where I almost always get a celtic knot or some form of jewelry that's reminiscent of the emerald isles. Either way, I am obsessed with Ireland right now.

Re-reading W.B. Yeats poetry, loving the Irish ballad Carrickfergus about a beautiful castle off of Northern Ireland, listening to the Saw Doctors when driving up the English countryside into the wild, untamed land of Wales, watching cheesy movies that I could stomach because of the landscape of Ireland it was filmed, and currently reading A Week in Winter by Maeve Binchy about Stoneybridge off of the coast of Ireland has made me hungry for the Island of Destiny.

Seriously, I'm obsessed. There's just something about it that's so captivating. Engulfing. Of course I do love England, and I'll always love Wales, and Scotland will definitely be on my top Europe destinations to visit, but there's just something about Ireland. Dublin. Carrickfergus. Blarney Castle. Gaelic language. Giant's Causeway. Trinity Library. Castle Island.

Not only am I amazed and floored by how straight up gorgeous this country is, but the history and the people constantly blow me away. I absolutely love how Ireland struggled for independence from England. Regardless of anyone's political views on the subject, you have to admit these tykes REALLY fought hard for it. I mean, they were gonna stop at nothing till they were their own country. And lest we forget, Irish boys are probably the best looking boys on the face of the planet, except maybe Australian/South Africa boys.

Regardless, I'll just leave it at this: Ireland as of right now is at the top of my bucket list.


Friday, March 8, 2013

Pre-Spring Blues

I'm not entirely sure what's gotten into me lately. Maybe it's the occasional Christina Perri song that catches me off guard, maybe it's an episode of Once Upon a Time or Downton Abbey that is soaked with more romantic story lines than usual. Maybe it's simply the fact that I'm going through a certain "dry spell." Maybe it's my improper eating/sleeping behavior that has my hormones screwed up.

Before I continue on, I know several times I've said things that have warranted advice or concern. I'll just preface this by saying, I'm fine. I am not in a hurry to rush into anything at all. Quite the contrary. However, I'd be lying to myself if I didn't voice my slump that I'm residing in.

I don't want to be married. I'm happy not being married. Truly I am.

But I do miss being in love. I do miss the blossoming stages of amorous infatuation and the beautiful things that come of it when it matures into a full-fledged romance.

I've always had to be very careful in regards to what I subject myself to. With movies, books, music and the like. I guess it's no surprise that I'm more sensitive to things than I'd like to think. And it's true--with movies especially. My roommates can attest that I absolutely despise horror movies or anything like unto it. The images and the feelings remain with me for months afterwards and it affects my sleeping habits drastically. Any overly-gory, overly-sexual, overly-disturbing scene can send my emotions and my spirituality into a tailspin.

And this also accounts for romance. The Twilight books were my last paranormal romance books I allowed myself to read. I refuse to read them or anything like it. And there are several reasons for this, aside from the fact that it's a badly written, twisted, warped, co-dependent relationship based solely on the fact that the vampire boyfriend wants to kill the female protagonist, the main reason why I don't read them any more is that it teaches my idiotic female brain about my expectations for romance.

Whether I'm conscious of it or not, books similar to Twilight become a fixation for my hormones. And suddenly, if a boy is not brooding, dark, mysterious or tortured, he holds no appeal for me. Which, needless to say, is the epitome of unhealthy.

Having said this, I've been proud to say that none of my favorite books have an excessive amount of romance in them. Each book just has dapplings here and there. Sprinkled with occasional sexual tension and that's it.

Which makes me wonder why I'm feeling this want of male affection. What could possibly be causing me to miss holding hands, kissing, cuddling, making out? The book I'm currently writing has very little romantic entanglements, I'm not watching any movies or T.V. shows that are overly-ardent.

So why? Why do I feel so lonely?