Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Genuine Fake Watches for sale!

Today, I'm typing from the Kirkwood Highway Library, over in Newark.  It's a cool mid-size structure, with big plate-glass windows and a fancy decorative facade.  It's got a good selection of books, too, so it's not too bad.

I'm on an exchange with Elder Hidalgo, a cool elder from Chile.  About 5'5", he's a good elder with a good testimony.  Strappy little guy, too.  He is the smallest of the four spanish elders in our district, but he's always good for anything.  Little by little, he's overcoming his fears, and becoming stronger.  Just last friday, we had a wrestling match.  (A little uneven, I think:  Me, at 6'3" and 270 pounds, against him at 5'5" and maybe 170.)  I won, but in the course of the match, I shattered the crystal on my watch. 

So, here in Newark, I went to the Farmer's Market.  It's a nice little warehouse-ish thing, and has a jewelery kiosk where they sell cheap watches.  Now, I sport a  ten-dollar watch, and am feeling slightly guilty for supporting people who make cheap stuff in China.  Because I was actually able to inspect the watches, and check that they actually work, I was able to avoid buying a cheap, imitation product. (To read more about fake watches, click here and here.)

There was one watch that I really admired.  It was nice, shiny, had three dials, and I could see myself wearing something like that.  But, when I asked to see it, I took a nice close look at it.  Those three dials for date, month, and year?  Painted on.  Total fake.

In life, we need to check out what we do.  Really, that's all that we ask anyone to do.  We have a message.  As in all things, we need to check whether something is real or not.

A plastic hat is probably a good sign of a fake.
 Imagine that you're walking down the streets of New York city, and a stereotypical guy in a trenchcoat walks up and spreads his coat wide.  Inside, there's row after row of glittering watches: Rolex, Breitling, TAG Heuer, all in gold, leather, silver, and of course very expensive.  The man rubs his unshaved cheeks, and says, "$40 bucks. Take your pick."

Now, it's possible that the watches are real Rolex watches.  But, how can you be sure? 

The only way is to compare it with the genuine product.  That's really all that we ask people to do:  Look at what we have.  Compare it with the Bible, always having an open mind.  Most important, ask God.  I'm sure He knows what's true and what's not.  If you ask him, you can be confident that he will answer your questions.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Mission pictures

After forty minutes of struggling to upload photos around the restrictions placed on me by the library's system, I give up.  Elder Winter, one of the assistants to the presidents here, wants me to send him fifteen pictures for a slide show, kind of summarize my mission in fifteen pictures.  I'm able to upload them fine.  It's just this one part where I have to Email the pictures to him.  I can't, because the library system doesn't allow us to save documents.  When I asked the woman at the reference desk, she said that it's mostly to spare the system.  If everyone were to upload, save, and do whatever, then the system would be a mess.  (I notice that the downtown library seems to do pretty well with it.)

So, I'm going to see if I can't download the pictures here and send Elder Winter the pictures that way.
A flash picture taken during Hurricane Irene.

Light exposure is everything.


Now, for the pictures sent home and uploaded by my mother.  Let us see if he can't extract them.
 Me and the Liberty bell had a thing...
Thank you, President Winegar.
 Joaquin and Alvaro, the first found-to-baptism people I ever had.
For the record, I started it.
First saturday of the mission, and we get a blizzard.
I think it's some kind of rule: Every missionary needs this shot.
What a pair of goofballs...

Hopefully, this will work.
If not, I'll never really know.

Life is good.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

New resolutions

As I sat at my desk this morning, idly picking at the spot where the plastic finish is coming off, I looked at the calendar and realized something:  In exactly two weeks, I will be flying home.  Two years of being a full-time servant of the Lord will have come to an end.  It's a rather sobering thought. 

With only two weeks left to go, I've come to a decision.  I will finish strong.  In the past, I've broken mission rules.  Nothing serious, but the little things have always gotten at me.  Reading outside the mission library,  wasting time online, watching TV, little stuff like that. 

That's done.

I have fourteen days left.  I don't want any regrets.  As such, I am deciding to live each one of these days as if it were my last.  By taking it one day at a time, I can make better decisions.  I can choose to be exactly obedient to each and every one of God's rules.

Of course, there will be pitfalls.  (Interestingly, when I went to Google to look up a picture for pitfalls, I got a bunch of screenshots for a video game I didn't know about.)  When we go into people's houses, and they've got futbol games blaring away, it's difficult to ask them to give up futbol for even thirty minutes.

But I know that with Faith, all things are possible.  All I have to do is the little things; scripture study, prayer, the choice of a seat in a house with a TV on.  It's all a matter of what I choose to do.

Let's do this thing.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Lessons learned on the mission

I think that today I'll talk a bit more about lessons that I've learned on my mission.  It's been a good two years. (Well, just short of two years, but who's counting?)  I've served in around seven different east coast cities, and I've seen more of and learned more about people than in the rest of my life.  If anything else, it's taught me the people that I don't want to be.  It's also taught me a bit about time.

Time is one of the most valuable resources in the world.  Once spent, it can never be refunded, returned, or exchanged for store credit.  It's gone for good. 

We have the God given gift of choice.  We can choose what to use our time on.  We could use our time to surf the internet, exchanging an hour of our life for a few cheap chuckles.  We could read a good book, and learn more about the world.  Or, we could spend a few minutes talking with God and be enlightened.

I know that if I choose to do what is right, God will bless me with success.  Life is better when we follow the example set by Jesus Christ.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011


We were over at the house of one of our friends.  Edgar and Karen are some of the strongest members in our little congregation here in Wilmington.  We had gone over to help them with some translation work, making sure that they had some paperwork in order.  They invited us to stay over for lunch, a nice rice-beans-and-chicken combo.  (Sometimes, I suspect that they ask us to do chores as an excuse to get us over there.)  While we were there, we got to talking about life, and hwat we have to do, and especially what we as missionaries can do better.  He got to talking about how we should use examples for everything we teach, and back it up with scriptures.

One of the examples that he gave us is really good.  Edgar talked to us, and asked wheter we have faith.  Of course, we said yes.  Then, he pulled a pencil from his pocket and asked a question.  "Says in the Bible that with faith, you can move mountains.  Can your faith move this pencil from this hand to the other?"

Well, my companion sat there grunting and thinking about it for a while, and admitted that he could not.  I had seen the example before and so knew the answer.  Reaching for the pencil in his hand, I transferred it to the other hand.


Just like it says in James chapter 2,
14 What doth it profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith, and have not works? can faith save him? 15 If a brother or sister be naked, and destitute of daily food, 16 And one of you say unto them, Depart in peace, be ye warmed and filled; notwithstanding ye give them not those things which are needful to the body; what doth it profit? 17 Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone. 18 Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works. 19 Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble. 20 But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead? 21 Was not Abraham our father justified by works, when he had offered Isaac his son upon the altar? 22 Seest thou how faith wrought with his works, and by works was faith made perfect? 23 And the scripture was fulfilled which saith, Abraham believed God, and it was imputed unto him for righteousness: and he was called the Friend of God. 24 Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only. ~James 2:14-24
If we will show God our faith by doing what he says, we will see miracles in our lives.  We will have eternal life, and nothing that Satan throws at us will be able to bring us down.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

What to do when life happens to you

So, a few days ago, it snowed.  I have to say, it feels really weird to see the white stuff before November even starts.  We only got about half an inch, but it really felt weird.  My friends from Utah say that this is normal.  I disagree.  (Until I was about fifteen, we never got enough over in Redmond to actually stick.  Then, in two years we got about two feet of snow.  It was a real pain, especially since I couldn't really get around on a bike.  Not unless you have something like this...)

It just goes to show that life is never predictable.  Sometimes, crap happens.  Over in NYC, all the snow downed a lot of trees, and some estimates say that it will cost around 500 grand to replant new trees.  Life is not too hot over there.  (That's why there's snow.)

Why is life so hard?  If God truly cared about us, why would he let us go through such trials?

I kind of like a talk given in General Conference a few years ago.  One of the speakers asked the audience, "Would you hurt your child, and make her cry, for something she didn't do?"  He went on to say, "Of course!  When you take a child to the doctor, and give her a flu shot, your child is hurting and crying!  Why would you do something like that?"

The answer is simple.  You know why it will help your child.

In this life, sometimes we can't see the resons for the trials and the hard times.  We are like children, crying on the doctor's table.  But as we grow up, and learn from the past, we learn more about why bad things had to happen, and say, "I'm glad God was watching out for me."

To read the entire talk, go here.