Nov 14, 2008

LDS Church Urges Respect, Civility in Public Discourse

Today the First Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints issued this statement about the democratic process:
Since the people of California voted to reaffirm the sanctity of traditional marriage between a man and a woman on November 4, 2008, places of worship have been targeted by opponents of Proposition 8 with demonstrations and, in some cases, vandalism.  People of faith have been intimidated for simply exercising their democratic rights. These are not actions that are worthy of the democratic ideals of our nation.  The end of a free and fair election should not be the beginning of a hostile response in America. 
The Church is keenly aware of the differences of opinion on this difficult and sensitive matter. The reasons for this principled stand in defense of marriage have already been articulated elsewhere. However, some of what we have seen since Californians voted to pass Proposition 8 has been deeply disappointing. 
Attacks on churches and intimidation of people of faith have no place in civil discourse over controversial issues.  People of faith have a democratic right to express their views in the public square without fear of reprisal.  Efforts to force citizens out of public discussion should be deplored by people of goodwill everywhere. 
We call upon those who have honest disagreements on this issue to urge restraint upon the extreme actions of a few that are further polarizing our communities and urge them to act in a spirit of mutual respect and civility towards each other.

Nov 2, 2008

Halloween

This was my first Halloween with my own home (aka apartment).  I always thought of myself as the type of person that would have a stockpile of tons of candy to pass out, with some cool decorations and what not.  But it turns out we didn't even stick around our house.  There were some kids who came knocking every once in a while, but it wasn't a steady stream, so we didn't think it'd be fun to just hang out at our house.  Plus, we live in an apartment that doesn't get much foot traffic.

We did at least carve pumpkins.  Well, I did at least.  Lois watched :)

On a much sadder note, Lois beat me twice in a row today at Phase 10!  Both times they were really close games, which made it an even tougher loss.  I've gotta get her back now . . .

Sep 28, 2008

The Constitution

"Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people.  It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other."  -John Adams, 2nd President of the United States

Sep 25, 2008

Fourteen Fundamentals in Following the Prophet

I came across a beautiful talk last night written by President Ezra T. Benson.  Its title is "Fourteen Fundamentals in Following the Prophet," and it was delivered in February of 1980 at BYU.  I would highly recommend reading the full talk.  It is not very long, and is concise and easy to read.  Here's a teaser to what he spoke about:
  1. The prophet is the only man who speaks for the Lord in everything.
  2. The living prophet is more vital to us than the standard works.
  3. The living prophet is more important to us than a dead prophet.
  4. The prophet will never lead the church astray.
  5. The prophet is not required to have any particular earthy training or credentials to speak on any subject or act on any matter at any time.
  6. The prophet does not have to say "Thus Saith the Lord," to give us scripture.
  7. The prophet tells us what we need to know, not always what we want to know.
  8. The prophet is not limited by men's reasoning.
  9. The prophet can receive revelation on any matter, temporal or spiritual.
  10. The prophet may advise on civic matters.
  11. The two groups who have the greatest difficulty in following the prophet are the proud who are learned and the proud who are rich.
  12. The prophet will not necessarily be popular with the world or the worldly.
  13. The prophet and his counselors make up the First Presidency - the highest quorum in the church.
  14. The prophet and the presidency - the living prophet and the First Presidency - follow them and be blessed - reject them and suffer.
The explanations that President Benson gives with each of these truths are very well written.  As you read them, particularly keeping in mind the many varied reactions among members in regard to Proposition 8 in California, you'll notice how prophetic these truths are.  We all would do well to study these "fourteen fundamentals . . . for our salvation depends on them."
Click here for the link to the talk.

Sep 4, 2008

Josh Hamilton 35th worst draft pick of all time?

School has started back up, and with school, essays. One of my classes this semester is called "Interdisciplinary Studies - Culture & Sports." One of our first assignments has been to write just a one-page essay on a sports hero, either current or past, and analyze their strengths and weaknesses. Being the avid baseball fan I am, I chose Josh Hamilton.

Before writing this paper, I had a headlines-deep knowledge about Josh: whatever has made the headlines (i.e., Hamilton sets record with 28 HRs in first round of Derby, Josh Hamilton: The Baseball Star's Rise to Recovery) is what I know. But after doing just a night's worth of research, I quickly realized he truly is a hero.

The title of my post refers to this:



This article, titled "The 100 worst draft picks ever", was written April 26, 2006. Apparently the author of this article didn't see much left in him. This was the year that Josh finally made it back to baseball, playing some games for a minor league Tampa Bay team near the end of the season.

If you don't know Josh's story, Wikipedia him. It's worth the read.

I think the most pleasing thing about his story is his humility. He knows that he could've never made it to where he is now without help from the Master Healer. Concerning his battle with drugs, he says this, "Alone, I couldn't win this battle. With Jesus, I couldn't lose."

We often hear people say "If only I could go back and do this over again." For Josh, that isn't an option. "This may sound crazy, but I wouldn't change a thing about my path to the big leagues...You see, I may not know how I got here from there, but every day I get a better understanding of why."

Let me just include one final story of his, which illustrates how Josh is trying to pay back all the help he was given:
I was driving out of the players' parking lot at Great American Ball Park after a game in May, with Katie and our two girls. There's always a group of fans standing at the curb, hoping to get autographs, and I stop to sign as many as I can.
And on this particular night, a little boy of about 9 or 10, wearing a Reds cap, handed me a pen and something to sign. Nothing unusual there, but as I was writing the boy said, "Josh, you're my savior."
This stopped me. I looked at him and said, "Well, thank you. Do you know who my savior is?"
He thought for a minute. I could see the gears turning. Finally, he smiled and blurted out, "Jesus Christ." He said it like he'd just come up with the answer to a test. "That's exactly right," I said.
Despite the many years of baseball that he has lost, I think it's safe to say he has found something far greater in his life than athletic heroics: a Savior.

Jul 31, 2008

Dodgers - LaRoche = Manny!!

The Dodgers just landed Manny Ramirez -- the Manny Ramirez -- for Andy LaRoche and some obscure minor league pitcher (Bryan Morris).

First reaction as Dodgers fan: shock! I can't believe that Ned Colletti has finally pulled off a good deal for our team. The best part about it: the Red Sox for paying the $7 million remaining on Manny's contract for this year. How could it get any better?!
This is how: the Dodgers did not have to give up any of their young studs like James Loney, Matt Kemp, and Andre Ethier. Go Blue! World Series or bust!

Jul 29, 2008

Randy Pausch Last Lecture: Achieving Your Childhood Dreams

Here's an interesting lecture given by Randy Pausch, former professor at Carnegie Mellon University.  He tells about achieving your childhood dreams, interspersed with various advice on life, taught through "head fakes."
One of his better quotes was this:
'Brick walls' are there [in our life] for a reason: they let us prove how badly we want things.
Enjoy.

Jul 22, 2008

Running

One of the things I love most about running is you have a lot of time to think.  It's not like other sports where you have to really focus on what you're doing.  You just put one foot in front of the other, and go.  I don't know, maybe it is like that for people in other activities, but running sure does it for me.

I found out today that slow rock music is not a good motivator to me to run faster.  I often find myself subconsciously running to the pace of the music I'm listening to.  Prior to the start of my run, I put a couple tracks on my playlist that had a pretty slow beat to them.  Bad idea.  It's not that I need some heavy metal, head bangin' music.  Even something like Jack Johnson or CCR will usually work fine at getting me in a good running rhythm.

I thought about going to the gym earlier to run on the treadmill, but on my way there decided to just run outside instead.  I started running laps around a large field close to our apartment, which also included one main walkway that leads to our apartment complex.

At least a couple dozen people saw me running.  This is what I love about running, though.  Nobody knows how long you've been running for.  Although I was sweating profusely (I was drenched after just one lap), and going at a slow leisurely pace, for all these people knew I was on my 100th lap around that field.  Just to top it off, I would intentionally avoid eye contact with the people I didn't know; the image of a seeing someone run with complete disregard to their surroundings has always seemed very 'in the zone' to me.  Hopefully the discomfort on my face didn't expose me :)

Jul 17, 2008

Movie: United Flight 93

Lois and me just got done watching the edited version of the movie United 93.  It is about the 4th plane that was hijacked on 9/11, and eventually crashed into an open field because of some brave passengers.

Every time I see on TV or read in the newspapers about a tragedy where someone dies, even not of this magnitude, I have a hard time feeling sorrow for whoever was involved.  It is not because of a lack of sensitivity (Lois will verify my sensitivity), but because of a disconnection.  I don't know the people who are killed every day.  I have no connection to them.

The same went for the victims of 9/11.  I have seen dozens of stories about some of the victims who died, or about what happened on the airplanes, or the various heroic acts of people who gave their lives on that day to save others.  But I still always felt disconnected from them.

This movie, however, was directed so that it didn't focus so much on how the hijackers carried out their plan, or what they were feeling, but it focused on the passengers.  The tender and emotional conversations that they had with their loved ones as they bid their final farewells, though for the most not verbatim, could be empathized with. After witnessing them attempt to stop the hijackers and save their lives fail, I was left emotionally moved.
Perhaps because I am now married and have my own "family" I can better understand how heart-wrenching it must have been to know  you're never going to see your loved ones again.  Without a doubt, though, this movie left an impression on me.

It may seem silly, but this movie caused a deeper appreciation and reverence for the lives that me and my loved ones have been granted.  Each day I thank God for the blessing of life.  Tonight, I think I'll be thanking Him just a little bit longer

Jul 16, 2008

Being Productive

"There are certain moments in every person's day that, if excellently used, will determine the direction and quality of all the other moments. These certain moments are few in number-sometimes very few. They are necessarily hard moments, testing moments."   -Anon


I labeled this quote as anonymous because I can't remember where I read it from.  I was going through my old sent-messages today in my email, and I came upon this quote that I sent to a friend a couple of years ago.
Every day, I find that there are moments like this that I encounter.  Some of my moments are:
  • Waking up in the morning. I can't say that my whole day is ruined when I sleep in an extra 30 minutes, but it does annoy me when I lose this daily battle.
  • Coming home from school/work. When I'm tired and worn-out from the day's activities, this is the #1 moment that I enjoy being lazy.  But, I find that when I come home every day, if I do more productive things (doing the dishes, taking out the trash, exercising, etc.), it makes the rest of my day better.
Those two moments are for me the most applicable moments to the quote above.
I hate how my body convinces me to be lazy, but when I give in I hear it the rest of the day from my mind.  I guess that says something about the true nature of laziness.

Mar 24, 2008

My Mission

One of the most often heard clichés I hear is about two-year missions for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints: "My mission was the best two years of my life," or some variation of that. Yet I know of no cliché that was proved more true than this one. It truly is the best two years.


It starts off with more emotions and feelings than one can shake a stick at. In my case, I was leaving home for the first time for an extended period of time...a very long extended period of time :) For me, it was the most exciting time in my life. I love my family; I did back then, and I do now. Perhaps my love is a little more mature now than then? Or perhaps I just hadn't realized it at that point, how strong my love was that is. Either way, my family can testify, I wasn't one of those elders that has a hard time walking away and wishing my family goodbye. I stood up after the brief orientation, said my goodbyes, and as I briskly walked off excitedly wondered "What's next?" The whole day as I went through orientation upon orientation, met my companion, met my roommates (the legendary Elders Engman and Paulsen), unpacked, met everyone else bound for the Philippines, I couldn't stop a big smile keep creeping back to my face upon every new happening. I was so pumped, everything seemed awesome. When we tried to enter our room in the evening, the door handle was jammed, so some other elders welcomes us into their room to sleep on their floor, and borrow whatever clothes they had lying around. Even this couldn't wipe that smile off my face. I cannot even begin to describe the joy I had while in the MTC. The MTC experience in and of itself is enough to make me miss the mission experience immensely.


Leaving the MTC, and leaving the companionship of the elders I had bonded with for two months in the MTC was tough. Whenever I think about that place and the great fun and happiness experienced there, I get this dreamy look in my eye, and feel that same kind of feeling you feel after listening to "Canon in D Major." I relish the opportunities I have to talk to people that I was with in the MTC.


After being temporarily brought back down to earth during my first month or so in the Philippines, I resumed my spiritual and emotional high. It's a very different and special comradery you feel with your fellow laborers. You try to relate what you're going through in letters and emails, and in those rare phone calls a couple times a year. Nothing though can compare to walking going to a zone conference and meeting up with mission buddies...not even having to say anything to one another to understand what the other has been through. Before you know it, you can't even remember what life was like back in your 'homeland.' You no longer dream of going home or what it's going to be like. Your emails become more and more concise as you wish to spend more of your precious preparation-day time away from the computer and immersed in your surroundings.



The friendships formed on your mission are like no other. More times than not, the sweetest fruit cultivated from your labors is enjoyed by yourself; while you do get to meet many special people, 90% of the people you talk to could care less about what you just told them. That you have a special message for them and their family. That God loves them. Don't they see the sincerity in your eyes? But no labor is wasted, for as aforementioned, there is one lucky person who always reaps the fruit of your labors: yourself.

Occasionally, when I was assigned in some rather rural areas (San Mariano, Tabuk, Burgos), I was awarded with long, peaceful walks through the countryside. As we would be walking along the dirt paths, looking out over the endless rice fields, peace and happiness would often be felt. Often times these feelings would be shattered as you get caught up in the demands of missionary work, or the um, requests, of your companion. But those times that you have to just look out and admire the creations of God are special.

In the upcoming months, I am going to have the privilege to once again be reunited with some of my choicest friends. Often times, when I talk to or see them, I don't even talk about our time together in the mission field, just because I know if I do, a short chat won't suffice. It needs to be good and long. During the mission, there were more than a few people that I had the pleasure of staying up until the wee hours of the time, talking and reminiscing about the past.

There is no single thing that I can point out and say "That's what I miss the most!" or "That was the funnest town I served in!" It's kind of like when you start listening to songs from the past...you listen to one and remember how awesome it is, then listen to another, and another, and another, until it's suddenly 2:30 in the morning and you turn off your computer while trying to conceal from no one in particular the big grin on your face.

My mission president once said "When you go home off your mission, there will be a big hole in your heart. You'll yearn for your mission, and the friendships now separated by hundreds, or even thousands of miles. The only way that hole is filled in, is when you find your eternal companion." Wise words those are, as I am slowing realizing the truth to the latter part of that statement.

I know this blog I have written is probably hard to follow or relate to. If I can't even describe the feelings I have for my mission to someone in person, how much less through the written word? I am not talented enough to convey with words the deepest feelings I have felt. All I can say is I that I love my mission, I love my friends, and I love the gospel of Jesus Christ.