Mar 31, 2011

what would it be like...

... to hear Noah invite everyone to repent and get on his giant ship?

...or to stand behind Moses as he parted the Red Sea? ...or to watch Abraham offer his sacrifices?...or to sit next to Isaiah as he poetically wrote about the Messiah to come? ...or to trust John the Baptist as he spoke of one greater than he? At the time, most thought these prophets and their followers were crazy. Matt 13:57 states that "a prophet is not without honour, save in his own country, and in his own house." When God's promises were fulfilled through His prophets, people usually recognized them as prophets later. When Joseph Smith told people he saw God the Father and Jesus Christ, most people thought he was crazy. We tell people about Thomas S. Monson, God's prophet on the earth today. A lot of people think we are crazy too. This weekend is General Conference. Our prophet and twelve apostles are speaking from this building, and it will be broadcast throughout the world. Think that sounds crazy? Watch and listen for yourself, it's the only way to know.

Mar 30, 2011


There has been a lot of "newness" going on here lately. New springtime blossoms, new mission companions, new goodwill skirts (my favorite), and a new mindset for my future. Generally I do not do well with change. I tend to hold onto the past until it is down to the very last thread and I have nothing left to hold onto. This time, however, feels different. Its like I said in my last post, rejuvenating.

I cannot put my finger exactly on what makes this time different than my previous experiences with change, but I'm pretty sure that prayer, scripture study, and missionary work are the biggest factors. It brings to mind a few scriptures on the subject:

"..born of God, changed from their carnal and fallen state, to a state of righteousness, being redeemed of God, becoming his sons and daughters. And thus they became new creatures; and unless they do this, they can in nowise inherit the kingdom of God." -Mosiah 27:24-26

" Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newnewss of life" -Romans 6:4

"..that we should serve in newness of spirit, and not in the oldness of the letter." -Romans 7:6

And while we are speaking of new, here are a few pictures of my new companions and my favorite new members of the Burgess Falls ward at the Nashville temple for the first time.

Such an exciting day! Sometimes, change is a good thing. I think it is healthy to have some newness; new friends, new seasons, and a constant goal to become a new person in Christ.

Mar 27, 2011


Springtime in Tennessee is incredible. It is so refreshing. These are some of the blossoms I see everyday here:

Japanese Magnolia


Bradford Pear

Eastern Redbud

"And as the living, verdant spring follows the dismal, deathlike winter, all nature proclaims the divinity of the risen Lord, that He was Creator, that He is the Savior of the world, that He is the very Son of God." -Spencer W. Kimball

Mar 26, 2011

jesus walk with me

This song.. just speaks to me. Especially lately. Perhaps I could request that Mo-Tab perform it at General Conference next weekend? I'll give it a try.

Mar 23, 2011

9 months

No, I am not talking about pregnancy. I am talking about...

-9 months of many goodbyes and many hellos
-9 months of uncertainty and fear and faith and hope
-9 months of exhaustian and energy and excitement
-9 months of breaking down stereotypes and making best friends
-9 months of missing Utah and loving Tennessee
-9 months of finding myself through losing myself
-9 months of feeling lonely but never truly being alone
-9 months of 6:30 alarms and 9:30 curfews
-9 months of sharing my deepest desires and beliefs with strangers on the street
-9 months of learning how to trust in God
-9 months of listening to Mormon Tabernacle Choir
-9 months of sorrows and disappointments and joy beyond measure
-9 months of heat waves and snow days
-9 months of Tennessee "you'ins" and "y'alls"
-9 months of listening and teaching
-9 months of 20+ prayers a day
-9 months of scripture studies and testimonies
-9 months of frequent (or not so frequent) letters from loved ones
-9 months of being a total dork and not caring what people think
-9 months of fighting the adversary and serving the Master
-9 months of the best work in the world

9 months... of being a full-time missionary; oh how I love it.

Mar 19, 2011

finding joy when life gives you heartache

This has possibly been the most painful weekend of my entire mission. Both physically and emotionally.. just painful. Thursday was the first sick day I've taken since I came to Tennessee, due to an illness that kept Sister Larsen and I in our beds all day consuming nothing but Powerade and a few Saltine crackers. My stomach was finally starting to settle Friday morning when I received some heartbreaking news from home, which just brought the pain right back. To top off the weekend, Saturday we got word that Sister Larsen (my best friend for the past four and a half months) will be leaving me on Tuesday. Needless to say, my stomach has demanded that all of my previously mentioned eating habits cease. It has been a trying time.

Despite everything that's been going on in my mind, heart, and stomach however, I have felt a surprising amount of strength and peace beyond my own as I have done my best to hand it all over to my Savior. Times like this always lead me to one article in particular that just seems to ease my soul. This talk is entitled "Finding Joy in Life" by Elder Richard G. Scott, and it has given me a new perspective on understanding and coping with adversity. I would like to share some of my favorite excepts from his talk and how I have tried to apply his advice to my life here.

"You are one of the noblest of God's creations. His intent is that your life be gloriously beautiful regardless of your circumstances. As you are grateful and obedient, you can become all that God intends you to be."

(Enjoying God's beautiful creations in my beloved grandma skirt)

"Men are that they might have joy" (2 Nephi 2:27). Your joy in life depends on your trust in Heavenly Father and His holy Son, your conviction that their plan of happiness truly can bring you joy."
(A rainy day in my favorite part of town)

"Simple, rejuvenating experiences surround us. They can be safety valves to keep the tension down and the spirit up. Don't concentrate on what you don't have or have lost. Find the compensatory blessings in your life when, in the wisdom of the Lord, He deprives you of something you very much want. You will discover compensatory blessings when you willingly accept the will of the Lord and exercise faith in Him."

(Roasting mallows with the wonderful Baker family.. a guaranteed spirit booster!)

"Willing service to others is a key to enduring happiness. President Kimball said: "God does notice us, and he watches over us. But it is usually through another mortal that he meets our needs. Therefore, it is vital that we serve each other."

(I don't know what I would to without these two lovely ladies who do so much for me)

"Challenges are growth experiences, temporary scenes to be played out on the background of a pleasant life. Don't become so absorbed in a single event that you can't think of anything else or care for yourself of for those who depend upon you. Remember, much like the mending of the body, the healing of some spiritual and emotional challenges takes time. The Lord has said, 'Be patient in afflictions, for thou shalt have many; but endure them, for, lo, I am with thee, even unto the end of thy days'" (D&C 24:8).

"You will learn that sadness and disappointment are temporary. Happiness is everlastingly eternal because of Jesus Christ. I solemnly witness that He lives, that He loves you, and that He will help you."

I know this to be true because I am experiencing it!

Mar 15, 2011

a marvelous work

Two years ago I decided to title my blog "Marvelous Things" after a song by Eisley, one of my favorite bands. In my pre-mission life my posts were devoted to school, movies, bands, food, recreation, trees, boys, etc... all of the "marvelous things" that were going on in my life at the time. Now that I am a full-time missionary and am devoting my thoughts and blog to more spiritual (and I might add more significant) matters, the title "Marvelous Things" has taken on a new meaning.

My last post gave a brief visual and explanation of The Book of Mormon, the record of ancient prophets which was translated by the prophet Joseph Smith. After finishing the translation through the power of God, Joseph said that the Book of Mormon "is the most correct of any book on earth." Isaiah chapter 29 speaks of a sealed book brought forth by an unlearned man, referring to the Book of Mormon brought forth by Joseph Smith. He calls it "a marvelous work and a wonder wrought among the people," and a marvelous work this is!

The book of Ezekiel also references the Book of Mormon when it talks about the stick of Judah(The Bible) and the stick of Ephraim (the Book of Mormon) coming together in one hand (Ezekiel 37: 15-20). This is precisely what is happening today, as we use the Bible and the Book of Mormon together for the "confounding of false doctrines, laying down of contentions, and establishing peace" among God's children in these latter days (2 Nephi 3:12). It is amazing how the Book of Mormon clarifies the doctrines from the Bible that many Christians contend over.

Many times the prophets throughout the Book of Mormon talk about the "wise purpose" for which they are keeping the records; a purpose that only God truly understood. The purpose was this: to help people know that Jesus Christ is the Savior of the world, that Joseph Smith is his prophet in these last days, and that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the Lord's kingdom once again established on earth" (Introduction to the Book of Mormon). How grateful I am to live in a time when these records have been brought forth by God's wise purpose; and to know that He has again called a prophet on the earth today to lead and guide His children safely home.




Mar 13, 2011

the book of mormon; put simply

Here is the Book of Mormon made simple. I saw this a few weeks ago and liked how clearly it explains it for those who may not know exactly what it is. The cartoon is a bit cheesy, but the narration is all factual.

If you would like to find out more or receive your own free copy of the book, click the "Chat with a missionary" or the "Book of Mormon" icons on the right side of this page!

Mar 10, 2011

happy birthday taylor

The white guy on the end is my 19 year old brother.
Tomorrow he will be 20.
He will probably be spending his birthday riding a bike around the dusty roads in Africa, sharing a message of happiness and hope.
He will be doing this for two years of his life.

He washes all of his clothes by hand and takes cold showers.
He sometimes has to eat things like goat stomach soup.
But he says its all worth it, because he is teaching the perfect gospel of Jesus Christ to the beautiful people of Ghana.

He is my best friend and example.
I admire him so much.

How many 20 year old young men are voluntarily doing this kind of thing throughout the world right now?
Approximately 50,000.

Just one of the reasons why The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is cool.


"And now, behold, I say unto you, that the thing which will be of the most worth unto you will be to declare repentane unto this people, that you may bring souls unto me, that you may rest with them in the kingdom of my Father." -D&C 15:6

Mar 7, 2011

become as a little child

(painting by Carl Bloch)

My wonderful mother wrote me this week and told me about the Carl Bloch art exhibit she saw at Brigham Young University this past week. She told me to look up this painting, and I am so glad I did. Pictures always speak louder than words, and to me this painting says, "Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven"(Matthew 18:4) and "becometh as a child, submissive, meek, humble, patient, full of love, willing to submit to all things which the Lord seeth fit to inflict upon him, even as a child doth submit to his father"(Mosiah 3:19). I am trying every day to be closer to my Savior by becoming like a little child.

Mar 5, 2011

the most essential truths

Of all the things I may write about on this blog pertaining to life and the gospel, these are the most essential and basic truths that I know. Everything else I write will tie back to these essential truths:

-God is our loving Heavenly Father. He hears and answers our prayers.

-God gave us His son Jesus Christ as a sacrifice for our sins. It is only through our Savior that we can return to live with God again.

-The grace of Christ is sufficient for all who believe on His name, repent of their sins, are baptized by immersion, receive the gift of the Holy Ghost by the laying on of hands, and endure to the end by keeping His commandments.

-God has called prophets since the beginning of time to show us the way.

-After Jesus Christ was crucified, His apostles and disciples were rejected, and basic truths of His gospel were lost and confused.

-God called Joseph Smith to be a prophet in the early 1800's to restore those truths and restore Christ's gospel in its fulness.

-Joseph Smith was also called by God to translate the Book of Mormon: an ancient record of scripture written by prophets in the American continent.

-The Book of Mormon is a second witness to the Bible and is evidence that Christ's gospel has been restored through a modern day prophet.

-There is still a prophet on the earth today, as well as twelve apostles, who have been called by God to lead and guide us in these last days.

-Every person can know of the truthfulness of these things by reading the Book of Mormon and asking God through prayer if it is true. He will answer.

-Knowing of the truthfulness of these things will bring more peace and joy than anything else this life offers. You can learn more by clicking here and meeting with missionaries like myself!

"And now, I would commend you to seek this Jesus of whom the prophets and apostles have written, that the grace of God the Father, and also the Lord Jesus Christ, and the Holy Ghost, which beareth record of them, may be and abide in you forever." -Ether 12:41

Mar 1, 2011

closed on Sunday because we love Jesus

This is a picture of a license place I saw my second week in the Tennessee Nashville mission. I had to snap a photograph of it because this is just not something we see where I am from. One of my favorite things about this region of the world is the outward expression of love for God and for our Savior Jesus Christ. It is not uncommon to see license plates that say "I have decided to follow Jesus", billboards with the ten commandments on them, or to hear Christian rock blasting from a teenager's car in the summertime. When I surf through Tennessean's blogs and websites I find similar patterns: people are very open about their religious views and are not shy writing about their relationships with God the Father or Jesus Christ. It reminds me of the verse in Romans 1:16 that says, "I am not ashamed of the Gospel of Jesus Christ." People here have taken this scripture to heart.

The Utah culture I grew up with is similar to the culture here in a lot of ways, but very different at the same time. I grew up in a very religious community where people have a lot of the same customs as people here in the Bible belt; they read their scriptures on a regular basis, pray, and go to church on Sundays. They are very good at living the commandments in their daily lives. Most of my acquaintances from home truly are "doers of the word, and not hearers only"(James 1:5). Businesses close on Sundays in order to keep the Sabbath day holy, certain movie theaters refuse to play inappropriate movies, and many people choose to drink lemonade at college parties instead of alcohol. However, a visitor to this state may not know what motivates these people to keep the commandments because there are very few "I love Jesus" bumper stickers or billboards, and Christian music is usually only heard on Sundays. Most people I know in Utah do not blog about their relationships with God or their Savior-they keep this to themselves- even though these relationships are very important to them.

So where am I going with all of this? Well, I have been studying a lot lately about what it means to be a true disciple of Jesus Christ, and I have concluded that it is a perfect combination of these two cultures I have experienced. It is not enough just to talk about Christ, for He told us "If ye love me, keep my commandments." It is not enough just to live a good Christian life, for as 3 Nephi 5:13 states, "I am a disciple of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. I have been called of him to declare his word among his people, that they may have everlasting life."

My dream is that Tennessee and Utah will combine forces.. and that we will all become both "hearers" and "doers" of the word. For as a modern day prophet once said:

"We will attain our exaltation only on the condition that we share with our Father's other children the blessings of the Gospel of Jesus Christ and observe the commandments that will enrich our lives here and hereafter." -George Albert Smith
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