Friday, June 28, 2013

Life Goals as of 2013

Learn Portuguese like a native
Learn Spanish like a native
Learn French like a native
Learn Dutch
Learn Arabic
Improve my photography through workshops/classes
Improve my writing through writing groups
Get a Master's Degree
Travel to every country on my wish list
Finish & publish my book(s)
Read at least one book a week (52 books a year)
Take voice lessons
Write one song a month
Keep an updated journal
Take at least one photograph a day
Walk as often as possible
Buy as little as possible

Countries of the World Wish List

1. Ireland
2. The UK/Scotland
3. Iceland
4. New Zealand
5. Spain
6. Portugal
7. France
8. Italy
9. Greece
10. Denmark
11. Belgium
12. Czech Republic
13. Holland
14. Germany
15. Austria
16. Sweden
17. Norway
18. Switzerland
19. Liechtenstein
20. Poland
21. Croatia
22. Slovenia
23. Turkey
24. Jordan
25. Egypt
26. Israel
27. Hungary
28. South Africa
29. Thailand
30. Australia

Friday, June 7, 2013

Selling Yourself (& Your Mission) Short

This is going to be quite a strongly worded rant, that I probably should apologize for in advance, but I'm not going to. I refuse.

I guarantee you I'm going to offend one or many of you, but at this point, this is something that's been weighing on my mind for some time now, ESPECIALLY in regards to the young men in the Church. And I have to get this out in black & white so I can at least clear my mind of the anger, frustration and disappointment when it comes to many returned missionaries.

Now, I realize that this may or may not apply to everyone. And I will say that yes, I do understand that many RM's face unparalleled hardships when they return home that were maybe not as grievous as they were before they went out to preach the Gospel.

And I do realize that a few men in my acquaintance have chosen not to serve missions, and are faithful in keeping their temple covenants and worthy of the Priesthood which they administer. OR, are men who have served missions and are still perfectly active in the Church. These are men that I value more than anything, men who I admire and look up to always. Let me ease your conscious when I say, I am not aiming this at you. You have done splendidly so far, and I hope and pray that you keep on enduring to the end like you have always done.

My venting session today, my throw-down if you will is towards the men (and possibly some women, though they are rarer to find than the men) who served a full, honorable mission, made sacred covenants in the temple, sacrificed two years of their life willingly, performed & saw miracles on a weekly, if not daily basis, and not ONE YEAR after they return from their 24 months, decide to go inactive. Completely inactive. Like the last 21+ years of their life never happened.

They turn their backs on the Church, and forget about the 2 years they spent preaching, proselyting, tract-ing, etc. etc. Not only do they go completely astray, but they begin living a lifestyle and developing habits that they TOLD THEIR INVESTIGATORS AND CONVERTS NOT TO DO!

I'm sorry, but I have little to no sympathy of this epidemic. None whatsoever. I have had at least five guys in my social circle follow this exact same pattern. FIVE. Five too many.

Forgive me for going Jeffrey R. Holland on you S.O.B.'s, but that is COMPLETELY unacceptable. Reprehensible. Despicable. Yeah, I said it. I'll say it again. UNACCEPTABLE.

And you know what? I've found that a possible contributing factor among these men, is the fact that they are in their mid to late twenties and still unmarried. All of these guys are single and either dated a little and never got anywhere, or got their heart broken by some chick they thought was "the one."

Oh B.F.D.! Seriously. Big EFFING deal. If that's what got you so butt hurt to begin with, then maybe that just goes to show your real maturity level & the fact that maybe you have some growing up to do before you find her. Oh, and by the way, you're NOT going to find the mother of your future children and loving eternal companion in a BAR. or at a RAVE, or STRIP CLUB or wherever the hell you're hanging out, being a douche bag.

Wake up Sunshine, ain't gonna happen.

That being said, I'll also add that how can you look one of YOUR converts in the eye, a person you prayed for every day on the mission, a person you baptized & confirmed, a person you maybe even attended their sealing & marriage in the temple a year later? How can you look them in the eye & admit to them that the Gospel "is just not for me," or "it's too hard," or "I'm just figuring out who I am," or whatever B.S. excuse it is you're making up because you're simply too lazy to get your ass back in a pew?

OR, how can you look your companion in the eye? Your mission president? The people who were with you every step of the way, saw the good days & bad days, the light & dark sides of you and yet stuck by you every step of the way?

To give you an example about how wrong you are, let me just tell you that my brother served an honorable mission 2 months after my father's passing. While he was on his mission, my grandmother died unexpectedly. After he returned home, he was married and then divorced 4 years later. Yet he is STILL active in the Church, still attends his meetings, still honors his Priesthood, still attends the temple & still magnifies his callings. Doesn't he have more of an excuse than you do to quit? Doesn't he have more pull to throw in the towel & say "It's too hard" or "It's not fair" or "Why is it always me?"

Well he hasn't. And he won't. Because of one thing & one thing only:

Out of all of the people in Chile that he converted, the most important person he did convert was himself.

Elder Holland put it perfectly when he said this:

"How can any missionary could go do what we're asking you to do, and come home and not be faithful to that very doctrine and those very covenants and those very principles and those very ordinances, something is manifestly wrong. [...] We need to convert you and then you figure out how to convert investigators."

"When I said leave you nets, it was forever. When I asked you to follow me, it was forever. When I asked you to be an apostle, it was forever. When I asked you to be a missionary it was forever! When I asked you to see this through to the end, it's because it's not over till it's over. Now forget your nets, and forget the fish and jettison your boats and throw your oars away and feed my sheep. We're in this till the end. And that's the day Peter strode into eternity. [...] and the issue is for all time and all eternity. Do you love me? Do you love me? Do you love Him? You need to decide tonight whether you're on a course that's committed to the idea that you really love God. You really do love the Savior. And if you do, then your call is to feed His sheep forever. Now can you understand why you must never and can never come back? It will never be the same. Peter you can't go home! You can't go back to fish, you can't go back to Galilee. You can't go back to boats. It's over. It is a new life, a new day, a new time. This commission marks that hour in your life. You CANNOT go back. And if you do you will break my heart and the heart of God himself. If you turn your back on the Gospel of Jesus Christ, which you have pledged your life to teach. I'm here at 47 years and counting. I pray that it is never ever over for me. And I pray that it is never ever over for you. And if you are ever tempted on your mission or after to leave this faith or commit a transgression or to walk away from the covenants you've made, not assuming we're perfect & knowing we're gonna make mistakes, but your course needs to stay true. You can't go back. You've left your nets. And you're gonna feed sheep. You're going to be disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ for time and eternity."

Lastly, to leave on a bit of a higher note, I'll just share this:

If you have strayed, if you did know of a surety that this is the Gospel of Jesus Christ, if you had a testimony, it's not too late. It's never too late. And as Jeffrey R Holland said, it's not over till it's over.

Come back. Leave your nets. Feed His sheep. & do it forever.

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Of Baskin Robbins & Harry Potter...

It goes without saying that I seriously have the cutest nieces & nephews on the planet.

So every time I get a chance to hang out with them, I not only jump, but LEAP at the chance. Suffice it to say, I was ecstatic when I was told I could go home early yesterday 2 hours before my shift was up to spoil my nephews: Nathan, Connor & Cole, rotten with double scoops of Baskin Robbins, fruit gushers, pirate booty and Harry Potter 7 part 2.

And I enjoyed every minute of it! My sobrinhos and books are the only things in the world I don't mind blowing cash on. Well, that and food :)

At the end of our adventures at the Atlanta History Center, throwing rocks and petting the baying sheep, we went home to watch the last half of Harry Potter 7. Even Nathan, who isn't as big of a HP fan as Connor & Cole, was enthralled as Hogwarts started getting blown to smithereens, wizards starting dying, giants were getting cut in half. So much so, that when my brother and sister-in-law showed up Cole actually started bawling saying he didn't wanna go home!

Who has two thumbs and is the best aunt in the freaking world? THIS GIRL!

By the way, have I mentioned that Nathan wants a German Shepherd when he grows up & Connor & Cole love Harry Potter? These kids have the BEST taste! And who did they learn it from... oh right, ME!

*Sigh* I'm really gonna miss these kids for a year & a half... really.