Thursday, December 4, 2014

A visit to the Cathedral...

A very nice architectural photo, shot properly to bring the verticals close to true. This is the west facade of Washington National Cathedral, aka The Cathedral Church of St. Peter and St. Paul. The towers are named, left and right, The St. Peter Tower and The St. Paul Tower.

Almost a year ago(procrastination at it's finest...), my roommates and I went on a tour of the National Cathedral!  It was absolutely fantastic!~

It was done by one of the Cathedral Docents, Andy Bittner, who knows the Cathedral and how it all fits together(He lives in the boundaries of one of my previous wards that I served in.)

The north inner aisle of Washington National Cathedral's nave, looking east toward St. Mary's Chapel.
The Seal of District of Columbia... Washington D.C.

There is peaceful, solemn feeling felt throughout the building (except for the occasional tour that passes through). During our tour we crossed paths with people who were praying, meditating, or perhaps just looking at this wonderful building and learning its history.

There were beautiful windows of stained glass throughout the Cathedral, with works of art worthy of the masters of their trade.

The heroic-sized statue of Lincoln is by "Monument Man" Walker Hancock. Lincoln is depicted in a travelling shawl, standing on the back platform of a train, addressing the people of his adopted hometown, Springfield, Illinois, as he departs for his first inauguration. He never returned alive. The speech, carved into the wall, speaks for itself, and may be one of the saddest public addresses I've ever read. I think Lincoln may have had a greater facility for packing more meaning into fewer words than almost any other in the history of written English.
The Cathedral is a place of reflection.  I could see that, I could feel it.

Throughout the halls were many places to stop and think about God's glory(if you so chose) or to pray to Him.

It is full of history, with monuments to our country's Fathers laced throughout the arches.

The very existence of these memorials help us to remember where we came from, as a country and as people.  We know that these things can help us remember so that we can avoid repeating the past.

Andy told us about the stories built into the Cathedral itself, which he called the 'Kajillion-piece jigsaw puzzle', a witness to him that God has a hand in this building.

Each small thing, whether big or small, has a place in the Cathedral, and Andy himself said that he has yet to find all the pieces.

The architectural term for the Cathedral's front hall, between the two towers, is narthex. The narthex floor at Washington National Cathedral is inset with 52 marble seals; 50 state seals from the 50 states, the Seal of Washington D.C., and a larger U.S. Seal. Indiana is the source of Washington National Cathedral's primary building stone. In fact, Washington National Cathedral is the largest chunk of Indiana one could ever walk through that is not in the State of Indiana.

It was beautiful to see.  I know that I could spend hours in Cathedral just walking around, thinking about different things, using it as inspiration for writing.

There is a power there.  I could feel it.  It is something tangible and a cause for reflection.

A quiet reverence was observed throughout the building.

Scientists and Technicians, aka "The Space Window", commemorates those in the field of science and technology. Designed and fabricated in the late 1960s and early '70s, by artist Rodney Winfield, the window asks, "Is Not God In The Height Of Heaven?". The window was installed in 1974 and dedicated on the fifth anniversary of Neil Armstrong's first steps on the moon. The imagery shows a deep blue and green orb in the lower right-hand corner, which represents the earth. From that circle a white line of trajectory loops out, up and around the large, red circle in the center top. In the center of that circle is a white ring, and in the center of that ring, a dark spot. That dark spot is a piece of moon rock, brought back from the moon by the Apollo 11 crew.
The netting stretched beneath Washington National Cathedral's ten-story high ceiling, is a post-August, 2011-earthquake safety device. The colored light projecting through Rowan LeCompte's three-story high, clerestory windows, landing on the net, is something of a silver lining. Someone named that effect, "The Cathedral Borealis"
The main window in the Lincoln Bay, dedicated, of course, to President Abraham Lincoln, is called "The Agony of Civil War", and is by the artist Robert Pinart. Although Mr. Pinart has provided a much more complex intent, I simply interpret the window as... What is not flame colored is either blue or gray. Partially visible in the bottom of the frame is a carving addressing a key point in Lincoln's second inaugural address, that the war be ended, "with malice toward none". The carving is of two hands passing an olive branch.
The sun pouring through the Lineage of Jesus window, by artist Rowan LeCompte.
A distant view of the Mormon Temple in Silver Spring, Maryland, from the Pilgrim Observation Gallery at Washington National Cathedral. Distance... a little over 5.5 miles.

When Andy pointed out the Washington D.C. Temple, I started comparing the National Cathedral to the Temple...

To begin my comparison, I looked up the definitions,

  • The principal church of a diocese, with which the bishop is officially associated.
While the LDS definition of a temple is:
  • Temples are literally houses of the Lord. They are holy places of worship where individuals make sacred covenants with God. (Full article here)

Next, the purpose of the two buildings are almost completely different.  

As it states on the National Cathedrals about page, they see the Cathedral as being, "...A catalyst for spiritual harmony in our nation, renewal in the churches, reconciliation among faiths, and compassion in our world."

On the other hand, Temples are places where we make sacred promises with the Lord and perform vicarious work for our ancestors because "...millions of people have died without having any opportunity to hear the message of the restored gospel of Jesus Christ or receive saving ordinances."(Full Article)

Ability to enter:
Those who enter the temple must be worthy, which means that they keep the commandments and are prepared to make and keep sacred temple covenants. In two interviews—one with a member of a bishopric or a branch president and another with a member of a stake presidency or a mission president—Church members certify their worthiness to enter the temple. In these interviews, the priesthood leader asks about the individual's personal conduct and worthiness. Those who are worthy receive a temple recommend, which allows them to enter the temple.

Dress Code:

When individuals go to the temple, they should wear their best clothing, as they do when they attend church. When they are inside the temple, they exchange their clothing for the white clothing of the temple.

Washington National Cathedral from the north, with the formerly-over-three-hundred-foot "Gloria In Excelsis" bell tower, crowned in scaffolding that is currently only stabilizing earthquake damage. Very little actual repair has taken place on the tower. In the cross-shaped floor plan, the portion of the building jutting toward the viewer, with the large, round window, is the northern arm of the cross.

Several notable non-members have commented in regards to their experience in the ensign article,

The beauty of the temple impressed the visitors, including many prominent Filipinos. Writer Celso Carunungan commented on “a feeling of holiness, that when you get inside you are going to confront your Creator.” Colonel Bienvenido Castillo, chief chaplain of the Philippine Constabulary, said the temple is “a place where you can contemplate heavenly things because you are in such an environment.” Two nuns felt the temple “is truly a house of the Lord.” Eva Estrada-Kalaw, a member of the Philippine parliament, told guides, “I wish you would build more temples here." (Article)

The Cathedral is massive, even overpowering, giving an insignificant feeling. You feel the 'power' of God. It is a holy place.

The Temple... everything is close, warm, and nearby. It feels like home.

In the temple, it feels like Heavenly Father could be right around the corner, sitting in one of the chairs.

You don't necessarily feel power, but you can feel His presence.

You do not wonder if it is a holy place or not. You can feel it.

I've come to find that it's in interesting how different religions portray God. That's one thing I've learned to appreciate during my mission.

Distant, Omniscient being.

Loving, Caring Father.

How we see him even shows in the very architecture in which we build.

Here are some pictures of the inside of the temple!~


Here are some videos expressing what temples are about!~




Elder Harston walking onto the driveway for the Cathedral's underground parking garage. From this vantage point, one can clearly see the flying buttresses that are holding up the ceiling of the north transept, from the outside. The security vehicle in the background makes me want to mention that the Cathedral has it's own security division. Some of us like to call them, "The God Squad".

Check out Andy's Blog!~

Picture of Kiev, Ukraine Temple taken from 'here'
Picture of Laie, Hawaii Temple taken from 'here'
Picture of Gila, Arizona Temple taken from 'here'

Friday, October 3, 2014

No pain, no gain.


According to the National Institutes of Health pain " a feeling triggered in the nervous system. [It] may be sharp or dull. It may come and go, or it may be constant. You may feel pain in one area of your body, such as your back, abdomen or chest or you may feel pain all over, such as when your muscles ache from the flu."

They go on to describe that pain can be beneficial, as it helps you identify and treat a problem which may have otherwise gone unnoticed.  Once the root cause is addressed though, the pain usually goes away.


You may be wondering, "Why is Elder Horowitz talking about pain right now?"

I thought you would never ask.

I have had the opportunity to experience pain over the past couple of weeks.

No, not a spiritual pain for the sins of the world, not the mental anguish of sin, just your regular, everyday, old-fashioned, physical pain.

In VERY large amounts.

Story time:

I have a history of pain in my legs. That history came back to haunt me about a month ago...(Yes, I know, it's quite the delay but I am also working as a full-time missionary, which takes a lot of time.)  Throughout that day, the pain in my knees had been getting steadily worse. I took some ibuprofen and hoped it would go away or lessen to a more manageable level, like it usually does.

But it didn't, it got worse, till I couldn't bear it any longer. The pain felt like tiny knives jabbing underneath my kneecap every time I moved.

Which resulted in me having a late-night ER visit with one of my companions.

Not fun for him. I have picture evidence!~

Long story short:  I spent eight hours in the ER for a 20 minute visit, a couple x-rays, and for them to tell me I needed to see an orthopedist.  A week later, my appointment with the orthopedist came through and he told me I had Patellar Tendinitis.  Something which indicates poor muscles around the knees, which might explain the whole 'chronic knee pain' thing.

Well, if nothing else, it was a good experience and I managed to talk to a few people about the gospel!~

Thinking back on it, though I'm still feeling some pain in my leg, there are many ways this character building experience can be applied to the gospel, but the one that I would liken it unto would be this:


That's a big word.  It's a scary word for some people.

But it's not supposed to be.

Pain can follow a variety of different paths but when we sin, we feel guilt for what we have done.  I like the way that a certain Elder put it in his medical parable (which is beyond compare) that you can read here,
"Sin is the medical term we use for both the cause, and symptoms of 'Imperfectia.' The first time you exhibit an imperfect attribute, behavior, or tendency, and allow that to influence your decisions, it is a sign of a spiritual malfunction that is inherent with humans. In short, when you give in to weakness, and either do something wrong, or fail to do something right, it damages your spirit and the scar tissue causes you pain. This pain is known as "guilt."

"I feel fine now though, are you sure it isn't gone?", you respond.

"Unfortunately, it's not that simple. With something like high blood pressure, which can be triggered by a lack of exercise, its effects can be reversed when you begin exercising again. But once you've contracted Imperfectia, you cannot be cured by resuming a good life. Unless every element if imperfection in you is eliminated, your spirit will continue to have occasional failures, which will in turn lead to more pain."
Though sometimes, I feel like I've gone beyond, the pain reminds me that it's still there.

If it's not treated by repentance, confessing and forsaking said sin, then it festers until it becomes a gaping wound. 

Unless I start ignoring it, thinking, "It's not too bad, I can manage with this."  The sin holds me back and eventually, I forget about it.  I begin changing my thinking to accommodate,

"This is normal"

"This is the way things are."

The pain which was once NOT normal, which I had avoided, becomes a part of me and I begin to not want to part with it. It becomes part of my identity and I don't know what I would do without it.  I become dependent on it.  It becomes my crutch.  I no longer am free and I hobble around yelling to everyone, "This is the way I am!"

Sometimes, life forces us down, shoving us to the ground.  We feel like our enemies surround us and we have absolutely no way out.  Occasionally, all we can do is let ourselves be taken down.

I remember, this one video game, Final Fantasy VII: Crisis Core the main character Zack Fair was trying his best to save a friend and get back to those he cared about.

***Spoiler Alert*** (If you care)

"Those wings... I want them too..."-Zack Fair
He succeeds in saving his friend, yet he gets critically injured.  He'd been trying so hard to become a hero to his friends and those around him, but life had shut him down.

As he was lying there dying, he saw his mentor, teacher, and friend, Angeal(who had died previously) flying in the sky.  All he could do was look up and say, "Those wings... I want them too..."

*** End Spoilers ***

When we're on our back, we look upward, seeing those who are free and, like Zack, we want that freedom.

We want to be free from the confines and the constant struggle of trying to survive(At least that's how I feel sometimes).  For me that freedom is found in the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
"Every soul confined in a prison of sin, guilt, or perversion has a key to the gate. The key is labeled repentance. If you know how to use this key, the adversary cannot hold you [down]. The twin principles of repentance and forgiveness exceed in strength the awesome power of the tempter."  -Boyd K. Packer  "Cleansing the Inner Vessel"
Because we are imperfect, in this life we have pain, and we can either let that pain rule us and force us down a path we don't want to go, or we can learn and grow from that pain, trying to forsake our sins and bad habits and become better than the man(or woman) we were yesterday.

When we use the Atonement of Jesus Christ to turn that pain into progress, we take advantage of an infinite power source to carry us further in our own goals.

Yes, I know, this is meant to motivate us to work out, but I would liken it to spiritual growth.

That guilt we feel doesn't need to hold us back. We can learn from it, forsake it, then flex our spiritual muscles and prepare to fly. We don't need to be earthbound. We're children of a HEAVENLY FATHER.  Why let our sins and our pain hold us back?

I admit, sometimes, it's not that simple. There are some things which we cannot change, there are some things which are natural or inborn, within us...

But do we give in to our desires? Do we throw discipline out the window? If our physical muscles are screaming for relief but our workout set isn't done, do we stop?

Or on the flip-side, if my knee is damaged do I keep using it as I had, before it is healed and risk further injury?

If there's anything that I know I have a testimony of, it's that Jesus Christ has felt everything that we have and can help strengthen us in our weakness if we let him.

All we need to do is ask.  

If you feel like you are too unworthy to ask, too scarred by past mistakes, too far gone, or even just scared for whatever reason, remember this little quote from one of our Apostles,

Taken from his talk, "Like a Broken Vessel"

To Learn more about Jeffery R. Holland, click here!~

To learn more about Boyd K. Packer, click here!~

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Improving your weaknesses vs. Changing who you are

Remember who you are.

I think the most important thing I can say in this blog post is to remember the Savior's words when asked what the greatest commandment is.

35 Then one of them, which was a lawyer, asked him a question,tempting him, and saying,
 36 Master, which is the great commandment in the law?
 37 Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.
 38 This is the first and great commandment.
 39 And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.
 40 On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.
So I want to focus on the three commandments. "wait, three? but there are only two..."
Well, I want to expound a bit. It says:

1. love the Lord thy God
2. Love thy neighbour
3. as thyself.
Love yourself!  Don't forget that!  God loves you so love yourself.  There's only one you in this world.  I get mad at others for hating themselves.  Don't do that!  Why?  It's so destructive and gets nothing accomplished.  Be kind to yourself.  Take some time to do "you" stuff.  
Improvement is important, and you can do so most effectively with the help of the Atonement of Jesus Christ and believing in Him and in yourself.  Say positive things.  "I can do this.  I am awesome."  Please help others remember who they are too, and give them the confidence they need to endure through times of hardship and times of improving.  Most people when improving need support.  You improve yourself if you help others improve.
Faith in Jesus Christ will help us to endure the hardest of challenges.  Build your faith. :) 
This controversial battle between improving your weaknesses and changing who you are is worth talking about.  Please comment.  I would love to hear from anyone and everyone.

Friday, July 25, 2014

The Richest Love There Is

 45 And charity suffereth long, and is kind, and envieth not, and is not puffed up, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil, and rejoiceth not in iniquity but rejoiceth in the truth, beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things.
 46 Wherefore, my beloved brethren, if ye have not charity, ye are nothing, for charity never faileth. Wherefore, cleave unto charity, which is the greatest of all, for all things must fail—
 47 But charity is the pure love of Christ, and it endureth forever; and whoso is found possessed of it at the last day, it shall be well with him.
 48 Wherefore, my beloved brethren, pray unto the Father with all the energy of heart, that ye may be filled with this love, which he hath bestowed upon all who are true followers of his Son, Jesus Christ; that ye may become the sons of God; that when he shall appear we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is; that we may have this hope; that we may be purified even as he is pure. Amen.

Before I start this, I want you all to know that I know that Jesus Christ lives and loves us so much.  We are His hands trying to "Love one another" as He commanded us.  When we show our love, we don't ask for things in return because doing kind things and loving our brothers and sisters is what Christ himself would do.

Recently, I have thought a lot about how something can lose its value if there is too much of it.

For instance, inflation.  If there is inflation in an economy, the currency loses its value.

Charity is not puffed up.

The Savior's love is not an inflated love.  He did not tell everyone that he loved them to become popular.  He helped the lame to walk, the blind to see, the sinners to be cleansed, and the dead to live.  He performed the Atonement and died and was resurrected to fulfill the plan of salvation.

Ever since I became a missionary, I have been paired up with a companion.  We work together to bring people closer to Jesus Christ.  We both have a set of talents and abilities, strengths and weaknesses too that make each person unique.

Right now I am in a companionship with Elder Eshiet.  He and I are two peas... from two different pods. :) We are quite different and so we talk a lot about understanding each other.

He told me he noticed how positive and upbeat I was.  He let me know that it was cool that I was willing to tell many people that I loved them.  He told me that it was not necessarily a good thing though.  He told me of how it could lose its value.

He said that if you tell too many people that you love them, then the value of what "I love you" actually means when I say it will go down.  I thought about contending and I may have even contended a bit with my view of "I want everyone to feel loved."   :)  :)  :)  :)  :)  :)  :)  :)  :)  :)  :)  :)  :)  :)  :)  :)  :)  :)

But I really thought about what he said.

And he wasn't telling me to not tell people I love them... just not to overdo it, or inflate the love I have for people.

I am in the greatest mission in the history of life.  There are so many people that have touched my life in a wonderful way and have blessed my life.  They are metaphorically writing in the book of my life.  Whether a person writes a sentence, or a few chapters, I am SO grateful for them being in my life, and I feel I should tell them of my appreciation.  It makes me happy especially when I get to serve them or they serve me.

When I am with a group of people after a spiritual high, I usually will be more eager to tell lots that I love them.  I want everyone to feel the love that I feel.  However, I can give the wrong impression to some if I tell them I love them.  OR, if I tell one person I love him/her, and then he/she sees me say that to 20 or 30 other people, that person might not feel like my words meant much to him/her.

Said President Thomas S. Monson,
"Said William Shakespeare, 'they do not love that do not show their love.'"

You can say "I love you" all you want, but it is when they are backed up with actions that the receiver of the love can feel the most love.

Also, it can go the other way around.  If a person NEVER says "I love you," to someone he/she loves,
 how will that someone know?

If I want my words to mean a lot, I should mean what I say, and say what I mean, and not throw out words like "I love you" or "I'm sorry" if I don't mean it.

Another companion of mine said that I sometimes throw out "SORRYs" like candy.  He told me, if I say it once, I need to mean it then change.  The word sorry doesn't need to be in every sentence I say.  Even if I feel like what I say might not be what the person wants to hear.

I have learned many lessons of self-improvement and giving and receiving constructive criticism from being a missionary.  I have learned lessons of repentance and forgiveness; and of people having spiritual gifts.

Each person we know and each we don't know is an individual child of our Heavenly Father.  We should respect each other, be kind to each other and understand each other.

Another thing: We may only have one connection with certain people... as in, we might only see a certain person only once in your life.  So, be careful what you say.  You might ask yourselves "Am I a blessing or a burden?"  A kid could ask, "am I being nice, or mean?"
This doesn't mean you should treat poorly those you see often and every day.
They should be the ones we try to love most.

I have relearned something else important from Elder Eshiet.  Actions speak louder than words.

Dayton's Legs

I know that charity is the pure love of Christ, and charity never faileth.

Coming back to things losing value if you have too much of it... Our Savior's love is infinite and eternal and may not apply to this situation.  When we receive that love, we need to show it to our brothers and sisters.

Show kindness.

I'm Trying to be like Jesus - Mormon Tabernacle Choir
I'm trying to be like Jesus.
I'm following in His ways.
I'm trying to love as He did
in all that I do and say.
At times I am tempted 
to make a wrong choice
But I try to listen
as the still small voice whispers

Love one another
as Jesus loves you.
Try to show kindness
in all that you do.
Be gentle and loving
in deed and in thought;
for these are the things
Jesus taught.

I'm trying to love my neighbor.
I'm learning to serve my friends.
I watch for the day of gladness
when Jesus will come again.
I try to remember the lessons he taught
then the Holy Spirit enters into my thoughts saying:

Love one another as Jesus loves you.
Try to show kindness in all that you do.
Be gentle and loving in deed and in thought;
for these are the things Jesus taught.

Do you feel that?  That's the Holy Ghost telling you that what I have said is true. :)  
Remember to say your prayers and read your scriptures.
Peace be with you.

Friday, July 18, 2014

"Your body is a what?"

A TEMPLE! :)  

I get so excited whenever I see the Temple off of the beltway or as I drive up Beach Drive in Kensington.  If you are with me in the car, I will usually exclaim in a high falsetto-voice, 
"Temple, temple, temple! Temple temple! It's the temple!  Ooh! Temple temple!"

Washington DC Temple

Yeah, I am still a kid at Hart... Heart!  (oh my Hart puns...)

The time on my mission is flying by.  I have realized a few things as I am nearing the end of my mission.  One of the things I continue to learn is that my body is a temple for my spirit to dwell and for the Holy Spirit to dwell.

Elder Thornton, my roommate, is pretty conscientious of what he eats and how he works out.  He understands that his body is a temple.  

As I am going towards my 22 month mark of my mission, I realize I will be home shortly.  I want to look good.  I have admired Elder Thornton and his good decisions in how he treats his body and I have tried to follow him sometimes.  I feel good when I do things like push-ups, sit-ups, eating vegetables and fruit.  
I seem to have more energy if I eat fruits and vegetables with my meals.

We can CHOOSE whatever we want to put inside our bodies.  If we want, we can eat a whole chocolate cake for breakfast, lunch and dinner, but it is better to fuel our body with a well balanced diet.

Remember this: Your body is a temple.
Rexburg Idaho Temple

There are things WE KNOW are harmful to our body such as Alcohol, Tobacco, and Drugs.  There are many things that we might be tempted to put into our body.

But remember: Your body is a temple.
Boise Idaho Temple

At these neat places called tattoo parlors, we can permanently put ink in our skin into a cool design that doesn't wash off.

Don't forget though: Your body is a temple.
Brigham City Utah Temple

When we read the scriptures, our spirit is filled with light and it effects how we act.  When I read the scriptures, I seem to be more grateful for the life and the body God has given me among other blessings.  When we read garbage, we feel like garbage.  Don't read garbage.  Your mind is part of your body.

and remember: Your body is a temple.
Salt Lake City Utah Temple

Knowing that my body is a temple reminds me that I need to keep it clean.  A temple is a house dedicated to the Lord.  It is HIS HOUSE.  We won't live in these mortal bodies forever, but while we are using them, we should keep them neat and tidy.  Organize, clean, prioritize.  The Savior Jesus Christ can dwell in these temples.
Here's a way to put ***LIGHT*** into your "temple."

If we prepare our lives for the Holy Ghost to be there with us, He will be with us.

God has given us a body to live this mortal life with the GIFT of a physical body.  We can't change bodies with someone else, unless this is SUPER-the-future and I am oblivious or ignorant to the fact that we 
can switch with someone else.  In my day, kids were trading pokemon cards and these days, they are trading bodies?  WHAAT?!?  That's messed up man.
(The above italicized words are not church doctrine.  They may not even be funny.  Oh well, I tried.  Sorry if my thoughts are disturbing.  I am weird sometimes.)

So yeah, the whole point of that was... we can't just trade with someone else.  We have to work with what we have been given.

Here's something else.  I think many people are very judgmental to others just because of the body he or she has.  People make fun or tease because of how fat, skinny, dark, light, ugly, pretty, short or tall others are.

Matthew 7:1 says Judge not, that ye be not judged.

There is NO NEED to put others down for us to feel good.  We do not need to feel better than anyone else.  We all are special.  
Remember: EVERYONE'S body is a temple, and everyone deserves to be loved.  
Your Father in Heaven loves.

So show love. It's a commandment.

God expects us to treat our bodies (his gift to us) with respect.  
God loves us and wants us to be happy.
That's why He gave us commandments.

God has given us commandments such as to Love Him, to love your neighbor, to honor your father and mother, to keep to word of wisdom, to live the law of chastity and to keep the Sabbath day Holy.  We need to have Faith to try to keep the commandments or even one commandment.  When we keep a commandment, we receive the blessings God has attached to that commandment.  Keeping commandments will bless our lives spiritually AND temporally.
Try it and watch the blessings come.  I promise they will.  God never shirks on His end of the deal.
Try it and you may like it! :)

God gave us a power to create life.  That is a sacred power.  
God has set the bounds for which this power should be used.  Those bounds are in the law of chastity.  
Get and Stay in those bounds and you will be happy.

like choir?  Me too. :)          eeeeeeenjoy!

My life is a gift, my life has a plan,
my life has a purpose, in heaven it began
my choice was to come to this lovely home on earth
and seek for God's light to direct me from birth.
I will follow God's plan for me
holding fast to His word and His love.
I will work and I will pray.
I will always walk in his way
and I will be happy on earth
and in my home above.

We choose what to fill our body and spirit with.  There is light, and there is garbage.  True, there are the things in between,
But remember:  Your body is a temple, so keep it clean... hey that rhymed!
San Diego California Temple

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

What I have learned on my mission

First off, thanks for reading my blog post. :)

I think the biggest lesson I have learned on my mission is one I already knew.
"But how could you learn something you already knew?"
Well, my testimony of this principle has been strengthened.  The principles I have learned on my mission all seem to point to my understanding of this singular principle:

The gospel of Jesus Christ is a gospel of transformation.

I pray as I write this blog post that the Spirit of God will confirm to you the truths of His gospel.  I also pray that you will allow my words to strengthen your Faith in Jesus Christ, and motivate you to take action and walk in the ways of our Savior Jesus Christ.

As I have been serving in the Washington DC North Mission, I have come to understand that this life can be difficult. As a 19-21 year old, I have talked with people who have questions and/or problems, and I would listen to them and they would often expect me to have something to answer or solve them. Some struggle financially, some might feel offended by another.  Some might experience sorrow, grief or pain. Some experience all three of those.  Some struggle with depression and some have addictions.  Some feel they are not good enough, some feel lonely.  Some are hungry.  Some are homeless.  Some are cast out and rejected.  Some feel like they were treated unfairly. Some deal with other hardships mortality has to offer.

If you have felt any of these ways before, I solemnly testify: Jesus Christ loves you. 
He knows what you went through, what you are going through and what you will go through.
He lived a mortal life with mortal life feelings and appetites and temptations.
He suffered all the pains, afflictions, sicknesses and temptations of every kind in the Garden of Gethsemane (Alma 7:11-12), and was crucified for our sake. (Mark 15:22,25)

The Prophet Isaiah says "with His stripes, we are healed." (Isaiah 53:3-6).
He also says "though your sins be as SCARLET, they shall be as white as snow." (Isaiah 1:18)

As one of our hymns declares: “We may not know, we cannot tell, What pains he had to bear, But we believe it was for us He hung and suffered there” (“There Is a Green Hill Far Away,” Hymns, no. 194).

Moroni says "Come unto Christ, and be perfected in him..." (Moroni 10:32)

Perfected? Really? When I am so imperfect and I fall so much?
You have to believe and follow.

One of my favorite Children's songs says "What does the Father ask of us?  What do the scriptures say?

Have FAITH.  Have HOPE.  
Live like His Son.  
Help others on their way.

lifting burdens

Press on and don't give up.  
Commit yourselves to follow Him.  
This brings true happiness.

On a lighter note, we helped someone transform their basement! 

The Savior sees what we can become before we become it.  With His divine help, we can change our lives.
Similarly, the Homeowner here had a vision of what his basement could look like so that he could host his family while they were in town.  He couldn't do it himself, so he asked us, the missionaries to step in and help.  Likewise the Savior won't help us if we don't want him to.  We need to put forth effort. We need to be asking for his help.  We need to be consistently asking what we can do more to change.  Not all at once, but little by little, things will become more organized and clean.  

Doing this made me feel like a guy from Extreme Makeover: Home Edition.
Here are some pictures of the basement. 



What a transformation! :)

We kept asking "okay, what's next?" after accomplishing a task.  We can do the same in our lives to have the gospel transform us.
Here are the basic steps.
Through Christ we CAN be cleansed from sin.
1. Have Faith in Jesus Christ and His Atonement and seek to strengthen that Faith.
2. Repent of your sins.
3. Be baptized by immersion for the remission of sins.
4. Receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.
5. Endure to the end, continue in the Faith, repent of sins, and strive to keep the commandments of God.

My Testimony
I have felt His love.  I have been transformed and healed and born again.  I know He lives, and I have Faith that He can do all things.  I know the Atonement of Jesus Christ is for us now. I am not perfect, but I rely on Him who is perfect to continue to transform me, and help me to be happy.  He commands all men everywhere to come unto Him, to repent, and keep His commandments.  Those who do these things will be happy.  I know because I have done them and it brings me happiness every time.

Jesus Christ is real and his arms of mercy are outstretched toward you.  Press on with Faith in Him. Transformation doesn't happen all at once.  Be patient with yourself and others.  

Here is a reminder that we all need:
God will always, always, always love you.

Here's a talk I love by Dieter F. Uchtdorf.  CLICK HERE to watch, listen and read.