Wednesday, September 28, 2011


Not quite the same ring as Ooooooklahoma, but still awesome.  Yesterday, I was glad to get up at four thirty AM so that we could be in Broomall on time for the bus going to Susquehanna.  Susquehanna county, NY, is where much of the Book of Mormon was translated.  I didn't bring my camera cable here, so unfortunately I am unable to upload pictures at this time.  Maybe later on.

For now, I just want to say that I know that the priesthood was restored there.  I felt the spirit myself, and know that it's true.

Now have some Google pictures.

I'll come back and upload my own.  Promise.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011


On Saturday, construction was officially begun on the Pennsylvania, Philadelphia Temple.  That means that there will now be a temple inside of our mission boundaries!  And what an awesome looking temple it is.  Sturdy, and with a nice old-fashioned look to match the buildings around it.  I heartily approve.

(For information about the Philadelphia Temple, see

For those who don't know what a temple is, let's go to the first instance of a temple in the Bible.  In Exodus 25, the Lord told Moses that the people of Israel must make him a house, a Tabernacle.  It was to be of the finest gold, brass, and the people were to give everything willingly.  This would be a holy place where people could go to be close to God, where God could manifest himself to his people.  The camp of Israel was organized by tribe, with the tabernacle at the center.  You could say that the tabernacle was the center of their lives, since any meat to be eaten had to be killed at the temple.  It was symbolic of how God ought to be the center of our lives.

This tabernacle served the Israelites for many years, until it was replaced by Solomon's Temple, a larger, grander version of the temple.  It served the same function, as did the Law of Moses, that of constantly reminding the people of God.  Although this temple was later destroyed, other temples were built to replace it.

When Christ was crucified, temple worship changed a bit.  To tell the truth, in 70 AD the Temple of Herod was destroyed by the armies of Caesar, and the temple was never rebuilt. 


As part of the Restoration of the Gospel, God told Joseph Smith to build temples.  During his lifetime, only one was built.  Nowadays, we have over a hundred.

These unique buildings serve a sacred purpose.  We believe the promise given to Peter in Matthew 16:19.  Families can be sealed together, not just of this life (til death do ye part), but for all eternity.  That means that after you die, you will still be family.  Your grandfather will still be your grandfather, your son will still be your son, and your wife will still be your wife.

I know that if I were in Heaven, and were not able to be with my family, I'd want to go whereever they were.  It wouldn't be heaven without my family.

Life is good.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Life, Legos, and the Gospel

Let's talk a bit about Legos.  As I've stated back in a previous post, I love them.  They're fun little bits of plastic, aren't they?  (Expensive too, at about 10 cents each...)  You can build pretty much anything and everything with them.  Me and my companion, Elder Lindsley, were just yesterday debating whether or not one could build a house out of legos.  We came to the conclusion that if we had enough bricks and enough superglue, there would be nothing wrong with it.

Here's a look at just some of the weird things people have built with Legos:
It kind of makes me really respect God a lot more.  Imagine that you are God.  Your task is to organize a world for your children, and all you have to use are Legos.  You have to make it big enough to hold six billion or more people, to be self sustaining, to give light, life, and generally have a place for all your creations and children to live. 

Sure, you have a lot of legos.  But they're still Legos.

Just think about the good job that God has done.  We are living on a world made of things even smaller than Legos.  We're all made out of those atoms.  God loves us, and has provided a way for us to succeed here on this earth.  He is much more intelligent than we can ever hope to be.  In his love, he has provided a way for all of us to become like him.  Jesus Christ came to earth, and suffered for our sins.  It's called the Atonement, and through Jesus Christ we can become perfect.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

The Face don't want to listen

As I sit here in the library, blankly staring at the screen, I've realized two things.  First, for some reason the screen settings are tweaked in such a way as to make it impossible to remove the blurs before and after everythign on the screen.  I shall have to persist in my typing, though fifteen minutes in I already have a headache.  The things I go to to get my internet fix...

The second think is that I have no idea what to write about.  So, I think I'll just write about people.

See, people are a bit funny sometimes.  At times, they're wonderful people, and will sit and talk to us for an hour on the sidewalk, park bench, or where-ever.  At other times, we have drug deals on the corner, marijuana smoke drafting into our apartment through the AC unit, murders, rape, pillage, genocide, all that fun stuff that humans are capable of.

Then, we have the other people.  These people just ignore us.  We'll greet them with a cheerful, "What's up?" or maybe a more serious, "How's it going?"  Then, we wait, and they walk past us, usually without eye contact.  There may or may not be earbuds helping them ignore us, but usually not.
I really don't understand this, to tell the truth.  Why don't people want to hear what we have to say?  In most cases, I think it comes from not understanding our message; they honestly don't know what we have to offer.  They don't understand that we have what they need; they cannot get to heaven except by fulfilling the conditions that God has set, which include an authorized baptism.  They simply can't. 

I wish I was able to help people understand.  Like Alma, at times I wish to say,
O that I were an angel, and could have the wish of mine heart, that I might go forth and speak with the trump of God, with a voice to shake the earth, and cry repentance unto every people!
 Yea, I would declare unto every soul, as with the voice of thunder, repentance and the plan of redemption, that they should repent and come unto our God, that there might not be more sorrow upon all the face of the earth.
 But behold, I am a man, and do sin in my wish; for I ought to be content with the things which the Lord hath allotted unto me. ~Alma 29: 1-3
Oh well.  As it is, we'll have to keep doing it the old fashioned way.  It's like a sign I saw once:  With faith, you can move mountains; just don't act too surprised when God hands you a shovel.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Migra Migra Migra!

So, I am a Spanish missionary.  I like it.  The people are usually very friendly, and if you make them laugh they'll talk to you for hours.  Plus, they feed you.  Oh, boy, do they feed you.  Empanadas, enchiladas, tacos, tortas, carne asada, mole, sope, and a number of american dishes as well.  Love the people.

I often talk to people about life.  Where are they from, how long have they been here in the United States, what's their favorite food, how's their family.  I often ask them why they're here?  By that, I mean to say, "Why did they come to the United States?"  I mean, why go to all the trouble of traveling to the border, paying over five thousand dollars to a person called a Coyote in order to cross safely, get here in a country that speaks a language radically different from their own, and then go through all the struggles of getting a job, apartment, and raising children with neither social security card, US identification, credit history, or usually a GED?  Life is not easy for a hispanic immigrant.  Why bother?

Usually, the answer is to get a better life.  It's not fun, it's very difficult, and you have to constantly be on the outlook for la Migra.  But, there's work here in the United States, and there's relatively little in Mexico.  (I'm not going to argue about politics.  They're here, that's all I care about.)  They need jobs to take care of their families there, to build themselves a nice house there, to do all manner of good things.  They understood the risks, and decided that the potential gain was much greater.

In the same way, all of us here on this earth have taken a decision.  Though we don't remember it, we all made a choice to come to this earth.  Back before the beginning of time, we lived with God.  He is, and has always been, our loving Heavenly Father.  He wants what's best for us.  Although he has a glorified, perfect, immortal body, back then we didn't; instead, we were spirits.  We had arrived to a point where we could no longer progress.

So, Heavenly Father called us all to a grand council to discuss the issue.  He told us of his plan; we could go to a place he had prepared for us, called Earth.  There, we would take physical bodies, and be able to choose.  A  part of being able to choose is that some of us would probably not make it back; we'd make bad choices, and disqualify ourselves from having all that God wants to give us.

As part of this plan, Jesus Christ was chosen to be the Savior.  He would make it possible for all of us to come back to God.  It would require faith and repentance on our part, and perfect obedience, pain and suffering on His,  but if we were to fulfill the conditions we could become clean through his Atonement.

We were all tremendously excited.  But then, Lucifer stood up and proposed a different plan.  Instead of having free choice, and perhaps falling, he suggested that we would all be escorted through this existence, and be forced to do what was right.  Nobody would fall away, and for all this he suggested that maybe he should get the credit, and be God for a while.

Amazing as it is, a third of heaven followed Satan, as he came to be called.  They will never receive the chances that we have, and never have bodies.  However, we are here because this life is something good.  We can learn.  It's not easy.  We understood the risks, and we decided that the potential gain was much greater than any risk.

(For a child's version of this history, with accompanying scriptures, see The Old Testament Children's Storybook)

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Life, Movies, and the Gospel: Pirates of the Carribean

So, raise of hands, who here loves Pirates of the Carribeans?  I mean, you have a coming of age story, an unlikely hero, a romantic love-interest, a cuckoo captain, black magic, aztecs (a long time before the movies anyway), the aztec's gold, and a whole lot of funny moments.  What's not to like?

This is, of course, only about the first movie.  The second movie was a two-and-a-half hour long advertisement for the third movie, and the third movie was a three-hour-long tie-up-the-loose-threads exercise.
So, let's start with Will Turner.  I really think that he's the main character, because he's the one who actually does stuff.  (You know, character progression?  That kind of thing?)

At the start of the first movie, Will is basically a nobody.  He's the under-appreciated apprentice of a drunkard blacksmith.  He knows nothing about who he is, except that he was taught to fight pirates.  Accordingly, he learns to fight pirates, prompting this interchange of dialogue when he meets the pirate Jack Sparrow:
Jack Sparrow: [looking at all the swords] Who makes all these?
Will Turner: I do. And I practice with them three hours a day.
Jack Sparrow: You need to find yourself a girl, mate. Or perhaps the reason you practice three hours a day is that you already found one, and are otherwise incapable of wooing said strumpet. You're not a eunuch are you?
Will Turner: I practice three hours a day, so when I meet a pirate, I can kill it.

Unfortunately, Romantic Interest Elizabeth Swann is kidnapped by pirates, who turn out to be undead, cursed pirates.  With an undead, cursed pirate monkey.
And thus, an unlikely hero in search of his romantic interest accompanies the cuckoo captain to combat the ghastly ghosts.  (Would they be zombies?)  Along the way, Will comes to know who he really is: the son of a pirate.  With that in mind, he really starts to grow.  He returns to combat more pirates, and eventually defeats them.

Now, I'm not suggesting that we should compare Piracy with anything in the Gospel.  Maybe I am.  What I'm talking about is growth.  Let's think about what would have happened had Will just been told he was a regular guy?  I mean, no memory loss, no mysterious past, just a loving adoptive family?  Nothing.

In the same way, were we to just be here on this earth, everything hunky-dory, we would never grow.  We can never underestimate the value of this time here on earth.  We can choose to grow, to learn, and to become more like Jesus Christ.  However, we can also choose to do nothing, become less, and eventually lose all that we have.  It's all up to us.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Watch update: This too shall pass.

Aaaand, because I trusted my elders quorum president, I no longer have a new watch.  (He also steals ties.) And, somehow all of my watches have conspired to die at the same time.  I'm currently using the pocketwatch that Elder Bingham left behind.  Not nearly as cool.
Still, life goes on.  It kind of reminds me of a story from Persian poetry.  There was once a king who had almost everything.  He charged his wise men to make him a ring that would make him happen when sad, and sad when happy.  They returned, and gave him a ring engraved "This, too, shall pass."

It's so true.  When we're feeling down, or when we feel like we just can't go on, all we need to do is remember that "This too shall pass."

And now, something completely unexpected when I searched "This too shall pass" in Google.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

On watches and fish hooks

So, yesterday, I found myself in need of a new watch.  Rather, say not that I needed a new one, but that I rather desired a new one.  While we were in Family Dollar yesterday, to buy my companion a desk lamp, one of the watches at the front desk caught my eye.  It looked good.  Stainless steel, with three dials, month, date, and one dial that I still don't know what it's for.  I checked out the price tag, and was shocked to see that it was only $8.00.  Snag that one, I said.  Picking it up and congratulating myself on being such a savvy businessman, I bought it and took it home.

It looks something like that.  Now, that's a mighty handsome watch, I thought as I cut through the packaging.  Pulling off the bit of plastic that held the crown away from the body, I began to adjust it, to try to move the date hand to the 1st of September.  However, after about thirty seconds of watching the hands go around the face, I realized that I had been taken in.  This watch, almost too good to be true, had turned out to be just that.  My desire to get something good for less led me to get just what I paid for:  a normal, good looking watch, with three extra dials glued onto the face.

So, not so savvy.

Sometimes, we do the same thing in life.  We look at something, and say to ourselves, "Now that's nice."  Whether it's a car, or a nice house, a boat, for me it might be a good set of books or a computer, we say, "Dang.  If I had that, I would be happy."  It begins to occupy our thoughts, and we begin to obsess.  When we get it, we open it with relish, only to find out that this package doesn't contain happiness.  It only contains a product of the world.

You see, Satan doesn't want us to be happy.  He's bitter that he lost the war, and I believe that he knows he'll eventually lose the war with God.  However, he and all his followers have dedicated themselves to taking down as many as they can with them.  Like the old proverb says, "Misery loves Company."  He tricks us, promising us happiness if we do what he says.  When we, like a fish entertained by the promise of an easy meal, go after Satan's worm, he sets the hook.

The best things in life are never easy.  I'm trying to lose weight by eating less, because I believe the end goal to be worth it.  My companion and I teach people every day a message that is radically different from the world and its standards.  Obeying these rules would place most people out of their comfort zones.  In this world, it is not popular for people to not drink coffee.  It's not popular for young men to just give up two years of their life and about ten thousand dollars to serve God.  It's not easy.

It's not meant to be.

The greatest gift that God has for us is eternal life.  As a friend of mine once said, "There's only one thing that  we need to change in order to go to heaven:  Everything."  It made me laugh then, but it's true.  If we truly expect to be in God's kingdom, we must give up everything and trust in Christ.  He has paid the price for us, and is willing to help us.  If only we would allow him to help us, we could be happy.  And this is the kind of happiness that lasts, joy.

"Adam fell that men might be; and men are, that they might have joy." ~2 Nephi 2: 25

I know this is true.  Although I am a bit disappointed at myself for buying what I should have known would be an inferior product, I am happy because I am doing what is right.  God loves us.  He's made a way for us.  If we, as disciples of Christ, hope to follow his example, we must be prepared for our own small moments in Gethsemane.  It's difficult.  But it is oh so worth it.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Computers: Ain't they awesome?

"You have to remember.  We are digital immigrants.  You are digital natives." ~President Schaefermeyer.

I like this comment that our mission president told us.  We've been born in a time where the computer has entered into our homes, lives, and even our pockets.  Computers tell our cars when to inject fuel, and in what cuantities.  I'm sitting among about a dozen computers in a library, probably more powerful than anything anyone 30 years ago dreamed of.  Our cell phones are a marvel of miniature computer.  President Schaefermeyer was talking about his new IPad when he told us this quote.  A little computer, the size of a clipboard.  For $20 dollars, I can buy a thumb drive with the same amount of memory as my laptop from 10 years ago.  (The said laptop was not very good, but better than nothing.  I wonder what Dad did with it.)  The Japanese K computer is capable of doing 8.126 quadrillion computations per second.  I fully plan on building my own computer when I get back, maybe cut a window in the side, make it look good and run better.  (No, not better than the K computer. Just better than it looks.)

Now, this is all amazing.  If you had taken a man from 100 years ago, and shown him a cell phone and all that they can do nowadays, he'd probably think it was magic or a trick.  Heck, same for 50 years ago.  Maybe even 20.  The modern technology is the science fiction of the past.  (It kind of makes me question how come we're still using the same basic internal combustion engine as we were 50 years ago.  Bring on the flying cars, already, and flight control can go hang.)

With all these things, we can do a lot.  I can get on a computer and in seconds find out the family geneology of seconds.  I can play any number of free games.  (Newgrounds, anyone?)  I can read blogs about cooking, a girl named Ryan, the gospel, how various things relate to other things.  I can go to to find out which comic people think is best, and perhaps vote to try to change things.  I can, and on occasion have, passed many hours in front of a flickering screen leveling up a character so I can get that next magic item.  (Dragonfable.  Doom weapons.  28,000 GP.  'Nuff said.) 

Nowadays, the problem isn't so much whether the information is out there, but how fast you can find it.  (Want to know the capital of Uganda?  Let's time how long it takes for me to find it.  Kampala, Uganda.  Took me about six seconds to find it, and five of those were to type "Capital of Uganda" into the Google search bar.)

"Tragically, the same computer and Internet service that allows me to do my family history and prepare those names for temple work could, without filters and controls, allow my children or grandchildren access to a global cesspool of perceptions that could blast a crater in their brains forever."  That's what Elder Holland said in his April 2010 discourse, Place No More For the Enemy Of My Soul.

Satan has been trying and suceeding to infiltrate the world with the sleazy tendrils of pornography.  Avoid it as you would a dreadful poison.  That is what it is, and there is all there is to it.

Read the talk.  Remember what you could be doing to yourself and to others.
Or, you could just watch the video.