Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Line Upon Line - Ether 2:22-25

22 And he cried again unto the Lord saying: O Lord, behold I have done even as thou hast commanded me; and I have prepared the vessels for my people, and behold there is no light in them. Behold, O Lord, wilt thou suffer that we shall cross this great water in darkness?
23 And the Lord said unto the brother of Jared: What will ye that I should do that ye may have light in your vessels? For behold, ye cannot have windows, for they will be dashed in pieces; neither shall ye take fire with you, for ye shall not go by the light of fire.
24 For behold, ye shall be as a whale in the midst of the sea; for the mountain waves shall dash upon you. Nevertheless, I will bring you up again out of the depths of the sea; for the winds have gone forth out of my mouth, and also the rains and the floods have I sent forth.
25 And behold, I prepare you against these things; for ye cannot cross this great deep save I prepare you against the waves of the sea, and the winds which have gone forth, and the floods which shall come. Therefore what will ye that I should prepare for you that ye may have light when ye are swallowed up in the depths of the sea?

(Book of Mormon | Ether 2:22 - 25)

I love these verses. The brother of Jared already knows that there is a potential design flaw in the boats, i.e. they have no light in them. However, those concerns did not stop him from building the boat as he was commanded. He left open the possibility that the Lord would in fact have them cross the ocean in darkness. Obviously, he didn’t want to, but regardless of what he wanted, he was going to do what the Lord wanted. That’s faith. The kind of faith that moves mountains, or prepares a person to draw closer to the Lord.

I also like the Lord’s part of this exchange. He knew what was needed. He knew it before He told the brother of Jared to build the boats. However, He is teaching the brother of Jared line upon line, precept upon precept. He is only giving the brother of Jared the info that he will need right then. This allows the brother of Jared to grow in faith as he accomplishes the tasks that the Lord has assigned him. Even at the end of these verses, the Lord doesn’t give the brother of Jared the answer. He asks a question, which causes the brother of Jared to ponder the matter in his mind to find the correct answer.

Most people would’ve looked at the design of the boat and before even starting on the construction, would’ve complained about the lack of light. They would’ve required a solution to that problem before they spent the time and energy to build it.

In contrast, the brother of Jared did what he was commanded and trusted that the Lord would provide if he followed the Lord’s instructions completely. How often are we unwilling to follow the promptings of the Spirit because it just doesn’t make sense?

There have been times in my life when I didn’t understand the promptings of the Lord. I was consulting for a small company once. I was filling the role of a financial controller for them. I found some things that they were doing that were illegal in regards to their taxes. They weren’t doing it maliciously, but what they were doing was definitely wrong. I explained to them what they were doing, why it was wrong, and the liabilities they were exposed to by doing what they were doing.
They initially followed my counsel on the matter. However, doing so took money out of the pockets of their managers, who didn’t like it. Long story short, they decided that they couldn’t take the money away from their managers, and I wouldn’t sign a tax form that I knew to be in error. I was let go.

In a panic, I started looking for another job so I could pay my mortgage, etc. Within a day, I had interviewed for another consulting position and was asked if I could start the following Monday. This is all good.

My new assignment was in a different state. The following Monday I was on a plane heading for New Mexico. My new client was a resort and casino. They catered to every legal vice you could think of.

It seemed odd that the Lord would bring me there. The first weekend I spent there I was on my knees Sunday morning asking the Lord if I could go home. I told Him that I was willing to exercise my faith and walk away from this job. You see, I was trying to exercise my faith. However, I was asking to do it on my terms.

I went to church that day at a very small branch. They were glad to see me as I brought their attendance into double figures, i.e. there was nine people there until I showed up. Anyway, the Branch President was having a little “come to Jesus” discussion talk with them for sacrament. The branch had dropped the ball on a welfare assignment the day before, and the Branch President wasn’t thrilled.
He spent about forty five minutes telling them that they had a sacred obligation to work. He quoted General Authority after General Authority discussing our work ethic, our responsibility to provide for our families, how we would be held accountable if we didn’t. Mid way through his sermon I quietly told the Lord, “I got the message. You want me here. Please help me to understand why.”

Subsequently, I had several very spiritual experiences. I was able to give out two copies of the Book of Mormon to people I worked with. I was able to share messages of the gospel in a place where the church was very small. It was a great experience and increased my testimony greatly.

What experiences have you had like this? A time where you did what you felt you were prompted to do, even though at the time it seemed wrong? What blessings followed?

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Wheat and Tares - Ether 2: 7-12

7 And the Lord would not suffer that they should stop beyond the sea in the wilderness, but he would that they should come forth even unto the land of promise, which was choice above all other lands, which the Lord God had preserved for a righteous people.
8 And he had sworn in his wrath unto the brother of Jared, that whoso should possess this land of promise, from that time henceforth and forever, should serve him, the true and only God, or they should be swept off when the fulness of his wrath should come upon them.
9 And now, we can behold the decrees of God concerning this land, that it is a land of promise; and whatsoever nation shall possess it shall serve God, or they shall be swept off when the fulness of his wrath shall come upon them. And the fulness of his wrath cometh upon them when they are ripened in iniquity.
10 For behold, this is a land which is choice above all other lands; wherefore he that doth possess it shall serve God or shall be swept off; for it is the everlasting decree of God. And it is not until the fulness of iniquity among the children of the land, that they are swept off.
11 And this cometh unto you, O ye Gentiles, that ye may know the decrees of God—that ye may repent, and not continue in your iniquities until the fulness come, that ye may not bring down the fulness of the wrath of God upon you as the inhabitants of the land have hitherto done.
12 Behold, this is a choice land, and whatsoever nation shall possess it shall be free from bondage, and from captivity, and from all other nations under heaven, if they will but serve the God of the land, who is Jesus Christ, who hath been manifested by the things which we have written.

(Book of Mormon | Ether 2:7 - 12)

I live in the land of promise. A land that is choice above all other lands. This land is reserved for the righteous. Though this conversation between the Lord and the brother of Jared took place several thousand years ago, verse 8 shows that it is still relevant today.

How are we as a nation serving God?

Are we ripened in iniquity yet? When you turn on your television and flip through the channels are you more likely to encounter programs that are in line with the word of God, or do they espouse themes that are contrary to His teachings?

I know that I can hardly find any programs that are worthy of my time. When watching T.V. I tend to spend my time on specialty channels like Discovery, ESPN, Food Network. Frequently when I try to find something worth watching on entertainment channels, I am disappointed in the quality of the shows.

However those shows wouldn’t be shown by the networks if they weren’t being watched. I wasn’t planning on writing about T.V., however, I feel strongly that there is a symbiotic relationship between what the media shows and what the populace wants to see.

The media tries to push society in certain directions and society will decide when the media has gone too far, or if they haven’t gone far enough.

Yesterday, my 14 year old son and I watched a commercial where Bigfoot was drinking from a river. Unbeknownst to him, a few feet away was a group of bathing suit clad teenagers. One of the guys was dared to go and snap Bigfoot in the backside with a wet towel.

My son and I were engrossed as this humorous scene played out. The guy snaps bigfoot in the butt with his rolled up wet towel and thinks it’s funny. Bigfoot, wasn’t so amused. The creature grabs the teenager by his swimsuit and hurtles him into the river. Colby and I are busting out laughing. However, the last scene shows that bigfoot still has a hold of the teenagers swimsuit in his hand and the camera clearly show a young man flying through the air without any clothes on. That last scene was very fast. If I had the opportunity to freeze frame it, maybe I’d see that the guy was now wearing a skin colored Speedo or something, I’m not sure. All I know is that it didn’t look like he was wearing anything. I don’t think that he was wearing anything, and that is definitely what the makers of the commercial wanted me to think.

I was shocked. And now a little disappointed that I had found it so funny, until that last 1 to 2 second scene. I was shown something filthy and wholly inappropriate for viewing by myself or my son. The filth was wrapped up in a pretty package of humor and made to look enticing. I was left shaking my head as the corruption of society inexorably moves forward.

The media reflects the morals and values of society in a free country.

Have we ripened in iniquity yet? How close are we to being swept off?
I am reminded of how a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump, see Galatians 5:9.
I also reflect on the parable of the wheat and the tares found in Matthew 13:

24 ¶ Another parable put he forth unto them, saying, The kingdom of heaven is likened unto a man which sowed good seed in his field:
25 But while men slept, his enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat, and went his way.
26 But when the blade was sprung up, and brought forth fruit, then appeared the tares also.
27 So the servants of the householder came and said unto him, Sir, didst not thou sow good seed in thy field? from whence then hath it tares?
28 He said unto them, An enemy hath done this. The servants said unto him, Wilt thou then that we go and gather them up?
29 But he said, Nay; lest while ye gather up the tares, ye root up also the wheat with them.
30 Let both grow together until the harvest: and in the time of harvest I will say to the reapers, Gather ye together first the tares, and bind them in bundles to burn them: but gather the wheat into my barn.

At the moment, both the wheat and the tares are growing together. How much longer do you think that can last?

Friday, July 25, 2008

My First Published Article!!!

I have some very cool news. I recently submitted an article to Desert Rambler which just got published. The article is about my camping experiences in Southern Utah, particularly, Mammoth Caves

Desert Rambler is an on-line magazine "For The Deserticulous."

Please check out the article HERE and let me know what you think.

If you go to THIS page and scroll down you can see a picture of my sons, Rhys and Colby, coming out of Mammoth Caves.

Missionary e-mail on revelation 7-25-08

Hey everyone!

It was great to hear from you all this week. Things have been pretty calm around here. I managed to get everything done in the office and all caught up in my work. I got a new computer with 2 gigs of ram with makes things a lot easier and faster.

Ulisses is doing great! We told him last Saturday that if he drank coffee again he wouldn't be able to be baptized this week. He didn't know that and told us right away he would stop. And he did. It was really rough the first few days with headaches and fever and stuff but once it all passed, he felt great and hasn't had any coffee since! He is super excited for his baptism tomorrow and so are we.

There's another man that has been going to church a lot but isn't married with his wife. She has been travelling and they haven't had the chance to talk about marriage yet. She got back this week and we got to teach her. She sounds interested in the gospel too and wants to go to church this week. They talked about marriage and are planning it already. Hopefully I will get to see them married and baptized before I go!

I had an interesting story this week on revelation. Like I said last week, President Hoggan told me to pray about someone that could take my place here in the staff. I went into his office this week while he was travelling with a list of names I had thought of. After looking at his board with the pictures of all the missionaries and praying about it, I came out with a totally different person in mind that I had been thinking of. I knew without a doubt who it should be. It wasn't who I WANTED it to be but it was the answer I got. On Monday, I was telling the assistents about my answer. Right then, President Hoggan came in and without me even telling him about who I had thought of, he came up to me and said that he wanted me to stay another 6 weeks here in the staff. The elder that would take my place (the same elder I had thought of) wasn't ready yet and would be ready to come in after another transfer. I thought it was amazing that of over 100 elders who could take my place, me and President Hoggan came up with the same name without consulting with each other. It just goes to show that the Lord really is leading this work and he does answer prayers. That means that I already know who will take my place here but he wont be coming in for another 2 months. I'll spend about a month out in the field (probably close by to not waste a lot of money traveling) before going home. It doesn't seem like much time but I hope it is enough to get a lot of work done.

Well, I went to that place last week, Mangal das Garcas. It was awesome! I got to hold some butterflies, pet a flamingo, take some pictures from the top of Belem's only lighthouse, and a bunch of other cool stuff. If you want to see what it's like, go on google earth and fly over to Belem then type in something like "mangal" or "mangal das garcas" and it should bring you to a place with a ton of pictures. It's a big tourist place so there's a lot of great pics.

Love you all tons. Have a fantastic week!!

Elder Childs

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

The Ultimate Tour Guide - Ether 2:4-6

4 And it came to pass that when they had come down into the valley of Nimrod the Lord came down and talked with the brother of Jared; and he was in a cloud, and the brother of Jared saw him not.
5 And it came to pass that the Lord commanded them that they should go forth into the wilderness, yea, into that quarter where there never had man been. And it came to pass that the Lord did go before them, and did talk with them as he stood in a cloud, and gave directions whither they should travel.
6 And it came to pass that they did travel in the wilderness, and did build barges, in which they did cross many waters, being directed continually by the hand of the Lord.

(Book of Mormon | Ether 2:4 - 6)

What better tour guide to have than the Lord? He guides them with His voice and tells them where to go. If only I could get guidance like that now? Wait a second, can’t I? If I am living my life in harmony with the will of Heavenly Father, then I have the promise that His spirit will lead and guide me. Look at these verses:

26 But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.

(New Testament | John 14:26)

Isn’t teaching me all things the same as showing me which direction I should go? I think so.

26 But when the Comforter is come, whom I will send unto you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, which proceedeth from the Father, he shall testify of me:

(New Testament | John 15:26)

The Comforter, i.e. the Holy Ghost will testify of the Savior, who is the person leading the Jaredites in the verses above.

13 Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come.

(New Testament | John 16:13)

Just like the Jaredites were taking a temporal journey, we are all on a spiritual journey. We do not have to travel alone. We do not have to guess which way to go. As we keep the commandments and draw closer to the Lord, we are promised to have His Spirit to be with us.

We can draw closer to the Lord by reading the scriptures like the Bible and the Book of Mormon. Enjoy the journey.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Interviewing 101

I am the Ward Employment Specialist in my ward. With the economy taking a nosedive and the cost of gas and other comodities going up, I have started having seminars at our chapel to help people find a new job, upgrade from a current job, or simply develop job finding skills if the need arises.

Tonight's seminar was on interviewing. Many people are very nervous about interviewing for a new job. A good point to remember is that while they're interviewing you, you are also interviewing them. With a few helpful hints and a little bit of practice anyone can come across very polished. Here are some of my thoughts on interviewing. Please post your thoughts in the comments section. Any interesting or humorous interviewing stories, please share.

Steps to follow:

1. Make eye contact throughout the interview.
2. Understand the importance of a good hand shake. Most Mormons don’t have a problem with this, but I have interviewed several people that just didn’t get past the “wet fish” handshake. A wet fish does not exude confidence.
3. Research the company on-line. Nothing impresses me more than someone that can tell me about my company. Remember, you are interviewing them at the same time they are interviewing you. Come prepared.

A person should expect to be asked, "What are your greatest strengths?" It is important to know what the interviewer is looking for and to make that the person's greatest strengths. Typically this can be found in the job ad.

A person should also expect, "What is your greatest weakness?" People really struggle with that question. Sometimes when I've asked it, people hem and haw and then don't answer the question. Here's the answer to that question..."People have told me that I'm a perfectionist. I like things to be done right and sometimes I can get a little frustrated when they aren't."

Do you see how I just used a strength and called it a weakness? It's very clever of me I know. ;-)

An always asked question, “Why are you looking to leave your current job?” The worst answer is, “Because I hate my boss and the company stinks.” That may very well be the reason, but if you throw your current employer under the bus, the company interviewing you will expect you to do it to them. Good possible answers include, “I don’t have any more upward mobility at this job. I like the company that I’m working for, but I feel the need to move on.” “I like the company that I’m working for but the job is not very challenging. I have gone to my supervisor and asked if there was more that I could do, but unfortunately, there isn’t. I’d like to feel that my work is not only challenging but actually makes a significant contribution to the company’s success.”

When answering the above question, just like answering any question, it is important to tell the truth. So don’t use the above answers if they aren’t true. Insincerity or contradictory answers will sink you in an interview quicker than anything else. The point is, don’t throw your previous employer(s) under the bus. Find a better way to answer the question.

The interviewer will ask if you have any questions. That absolute worst thing you can say is, "No. You explained everything very well." Nothing says, "I'm really not that interested" more than not having any questions to ask the interviewer.

Questions that you should ask the person that is interviewing you:

"Can you tell me who the ideal person is for this job?" The interviewer will tell you exactly what he/she's looking for, and after he/she has finished you will interject into the conversation how you have done the things he/she uses to describe the perfect employee. "Oh you like someone that is a team player? I think that's important too. In fact when I worked at..."

"How will be I best be able to help you right away? How will I be able to help you 6 months to a year from now?" This helps the interviewer see you in the position.

"How am I doing in this interview? What questions or concerns do you have that I haven't resolved yet?" People are afraid to ask that, but it needs to be asked. When you are sitting with the interviewer you want to know if there are lingering questions. I've interviewed people where their answers contradicted other things they have said. However, I never mention it to them. If one of them would've asked that questions though, I would've told them about my concerns regarding their flip-flops and given them a second chance to answer the question. If the interviewer has no concerns or questions, it helps them see that you are an ideal candidate for the position.

I can't tell you how many people I have interviewed and at the end of the interview I wasn't really sure if they wanted the job or not. If you don't want the job then no worries, but if you do, the last words out of your mouth should be something like, "I really appreciate the time that you have taken to speak with me. Before I leave your office I want you to know that I'm very interested in this position. It sounds like it would be both challenging and rewarding. I think that I would fit in well with your team and could make a great contribution to your organization. What are the next steps you will go through to find the best candidate?"

If the person you are interviewing with has a business card, get one. After the interview send them a follow up thank you note. Thank you notes are nice if they are handwritten, so if the interviewer is going to take a week or so to get to the next step then send the thank you note in the mail. However, if the company is looking to fill the position right away, send the thank you note that evening in an e-mail.

The thank you note could say something like, “Dear ____, I want to thank you again for the time you took to meet with me the other day. (name of company), sounds like a very exciting place to work. I really liked how well we seemed to mesh as we interviewed each other, i.e. your interview of me as a possible candidate for the job, and my interview of you as a possible employer. I believe that we would work well together. I would like the opportunity to bring my skills to the team and contribute in a meaningful way. If you have any questions about me or my qualifications since we met, please let me know. I look forward to hearing from you. Sincerely, (Your name).”

Be Prepared - Ether 2:1-3

1 AND it came to pass that Jared and his brother, and their families, and also the friends of Jared and his brother and their families, went down into the valley which was northward, (and the name of the valley was Nimrod, being called after the mighty hunter) with their flocks which they had gathered together, male and female, of every kind.
2 And they did also lay snares and catch fowls of the air; and they did also prepare a vessel, in which they did carry with them the fish of the waters.
3 And they did also carry with them deseret, which, by interpretation, is a honey bee; and thus they did carry with them swarms of bees, and all manner of that which was upon the face of the land, seeds of every kind.

(Book of Mormon | Ether 2:1 - 3)

The Jaredites are preparing to travel. They do not know yet where the Lord will send them. They do not know yet that they will be travelling by water. They were commanded to gather together animals and birds of all kinds, and they are being obedient to that command.

They transported an aquarium to carry fish, and swarms of bees. Perhaps most importantly, they carried with them seeds of every kind, so that wherever they were led, they would be able to raise food.

The moral of the story is to be prepared. The economy is sputtering, the U.S. dollar has been weakening against the Euro and other denominations for a while. Floods have ravaged the Midwest, which is sending the cost of certain commodities like corn skyrocketing. There are wars raging, and rumors of wars everywhere.
Are we ready?

In the October, 2007 conference Elder Walter F. Gonzalez spoke about, “Today Is the Time.” Included in his sermon was the following:

“When President James E. Faust informed my wife and me that we would be transferred to Lima, Peru, we had no clue that on August 15, 2007, only a few days after our arrival, we would witness a devastating earthquake. More than 52,000 houses were destroyed by its sheer strength. Worse yet, it left more than 500 dead. Nine of them were members of the Church. Members in the Ica and Pisco stakes and the CaƱete and Chincha districts suffered the brunt of the tremor’s aftermath.

The Church provided immediate relief to its members and those of other faiths. The morning after the quake, our members in the disaster area were receiving food and clothing, and before noon the Church was donating humanitarian aid to the nation’s civil defense. Many members who were left homeless were sheltered in our meetinghouses. Despite how unexpected the catastrophe was, the priesthood organization functioned very well to bring relief to those less fortunate.

Stake and district presidents along with bishops went out to help their members only minutes after the earthquake. The terrible situation in which these priesthood leaders went out is worth highlighting: it was nighttime; the lights were out; destruction abounded; and the earth would not stop shaking. These magnificent priesthood leaders left their families secured and walked out into the darkness, among people who wept, surrounded by destroyed houses. Thus our leaders went out during the night and the following days, facing frequent, strong aftershocks and a tsunami warning. They searched among the rubble, in the midst of commotion, risking their own lives to get to all the members. A bishop declared, “Without as much as a second thought, I ran in search of my Church brothers and sisters and leaders.” He found them. That’s how he spent most of the night.

What motivated these leaders to go out and help others, even to the risking of their own lives? Certainly it was their great faith in the Savior and His Church. It was their understanding of their calling as leaders in the priesthood. It was gospel principles engraved in their lives before the earthquake, not during the crisis—engraved not with ink but with fire by the Spirit in the fleshy tablets of their hearts (see 2 Corinthians 3:3).

The possibility of an earthquake was always there. When or how it would hit no one knew. When it came, it was devastating. But under the direction of the priesthood, the moment’s challenge was faced. In many cases, when members were unable, the Lord made up the difference. Some members tell of seeing men in white helping to save their lives. Others heard guiding voices. Years of Church service were a preparatory school to becoming organized and helping one another.

The same happens in our lives. We don’t know when or how earthquakes will hit us. They likely won’t be literal shakings of the earth, as happened in Peru, but rather quakes of temptations, sin, or trials, such as unemployment or serious sickness. Today is the time to prepare for when that type of quake comes. Today is the time to prepare—not during the crisis. What are we doing today to engraven in our souls the gospel principles that will uphold us in times of adversity?”

The scriptures teach us that if we are prepared, we will not fear. Prophets, Apostles, and other General Authorities have given the clarion call for us to prepare. Hopefully, we will be wise like the Jaredites and be prepared to do whatever the Lord requires of us.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Memories of my mission

With a son currently serving in the Belem, Brazil Mission and another that is preparing his mission papers, I have reflected back on my own mission. I feel impressed to share some of the experiences I had, and encourage those that read this to share maybe one or two of your favorite missionary experiences in the comments section. Your memories can come from when you were serving in the mission field, or maybe you just had a good missionary experience last week in your home ward.

I served in the Canada Montreal Mission from May 1984 to May 1986. The unofficial mission motto was, "Many are cold, but few are frozen."

I was actually only called to serve an 18 month mission. At the time, all of the elders were called on 18 month missions, but the time length was changed while I was there. Those of us that were already in the field were given the opportunity to serve anywhere from 18 months to 24 months. My father encouraged me to come home and get started on my schooling, but my mom encouraged me to stay in the field for the extra time. I opted to stick around for the extra six months.

I was serving in the mission office, as the financial secretary, when the change occurred, and I was the first person in the mission to know about it. The mission phone rang and I answered. Elder Bangerter of the Seventy called and asked to speak with President Taggart, our mission president. President Taggart was at a zone conference, so Elder Bangerter relayed the information to me and I tracked down President Taggart to inform him.

I remember being interested in what President Taggart’s response would be. When I explained to him that missions had been extended from 18 months to 24 he chuckled. Scott and Lou Ciel Taggart are truly rare people. They have a positive outlook on everything. You get to see this in future posts when I talk about some of the knuckleheaded things I did and how they responded. As I was preparing to write this post I googled Canada Montreal Mission and came across the website I highlighted above. Since serving as my mission President, the Taggart’s have served missions in Chile, South Africa, He was called as the temple president, and she as the temple matron, for the Montreal, Canada Temple in 2000, and they are currently serving in the Madrid Spain Temple. There are not enough superlatives to describe them.

I was born and raised in Orange County, CA. After graduating from high school I worked and surfed for about a year until it was time to go on my mission. When I entered the MTC I had sun bleached blond hair (back when I had hair), and a dark tan.

President Taggart and his wife were actually in the MTC the same time that I was. I was in either the first or second batch of new missionaries for them.

On the day I entered the MTC, there were only two missionaries that were assigned to French speaking missions, myself and Sister Diana Devries. We were both assigned to the same mission.

Sister Devries and I were always put into another companionship, i.e. I was matched up with two other Elders and she was put with two other Sisters. However, there was about a three day period between when our last companions left and our new companions arrived. For those three days our branch president in the MTC told us that we were unofficially companions and to hang out together trying to keep a low profile for three days. I remember once sitting somewhere and just chatting with Sister Devries. Another man walked by, he was probably a branch president for one of the other languages and he looked at us very oddly, kinda like “what are the two of you sitting here together doing without another Elder or Sister present?”

I’ve never heard of another story of 19-21 year old elders and sisters being paired up with each other. It’s possible that Sister Devries and I are unique in that regard.

President Taggart, being aware of the unusual circumstances surrounding Sister Devries and myself, sent her to the northern part of the mission and kept me in the southern part of the mission for the bulk of our missions. We were never assigned anywhere close to each other.

I loved my time in the MTC. It was a spiritual feast to day after day be taught how to draw closer to the spirit and to learn a new language. I remember Elder McConkie coming to speak to us and the powerful testimony of the Savior that he bore.

I will chronicle more of my mission later, but please feel free to add thoughts or memories of your own in the comments section.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

My new fuel efficient vehicle

In my effort to go green and cut down on my fuel bill, I acquired a more fuel efficient means of transportation...

I haven't really ridden a bike since my mission, 22 years ago. I'm failry out of shape, though I keep trying to convince people that I still have the finely tuned athlete in me. I just keep him well hidden under several layers of fat...

Anyway, gas prices are too high, I need to lose some weight, my sodium levels are too high, blah, blah, blah. Here's my answer. The cost of the bike should pay for itself within six months. It's a Specialized Expedition Sport. I bought it at Global Bike Shop in Gilbert, AZ.

Tim and Scott did a great job of helping me put together a good bike. They're very friendly. They answered all of my questions and made sure that I had every thing I needed. Since I purchased racks, a bag, an odometer/speedometer, and a rear view mirror, they threw in a few other things for free. If you need a new bike you should go and see them.

I rode the bike this morning for 2.5 miles. My commute to work is 7 miles each way. I will definitely need to spend a week getting my riding muscles acclimated before travelling to work.

On this morning's ride I averaged 10.5 mph. My top speed was 12.63 mph, and the trip took me about 19 minutes. I'm hoping to get my average speed up to about 14 mph over time.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Happy Birthday Rhys!!

Today, our son Rhys turns nineteen. That’s an important age for a male LDS young man. He is in the process of filling out his mission papers. He has his doctor’s physical set up for later this month. Hopefully, within a month or two, we’ll be able to announce his mission call.

I met Rhys when he was two. I had just started dating his mom. The first time that I went over to her apartment, the older children, Aubrey, and Colin, had already been sent to bed as it was fairly late in the evening. Rhys however, was convalescing from a horse riding injury and was allowed to stay up a little later.

In his typical zest for life, Rhys had been riding his rocking horse at break neck speeds. In an almost flashback to D. H. Lawrence’s, The Rocking Horse Winner, Rhys pushed his horse farther than he should’ve. He came crashing down mouth first on the horse's all too hard head, and received several stitches for it.

I can’t remember exactly what Wendy, my future wife, was doing at the time, but Rhys and I had a ball playing with screwdrivers. They somehow tied into what Wendy was doing, but that part has become a blur for me, I just remember that they entertained Rhys and me for about an hour.

His older siblings made a brief cameo appearance that night as they hopped out of bed, dashed into the doorway with grins from ear to ear, uttered a quick, “Hi,” and then scampered back to bed.

I’m guessing that Rhys doesn’t remember that evening, but if he does, maybe he’ll remember why we were playing with screwdrivers. It was a good day for me personally, and one that I look back on with tender fondness.

Wendy and I have always referred to Rhys as our Nirvana child. He is about the happiest person we know. Nothing really seems to bother him very much. He cares deeply about others, and can be counted on to help out when needed.

He’s currently my home teaching companion and carries his fair share of the load as far as scheduling appointments and teaching lessons is concerned.

As mentioned in a recent post, a lady we home teach, Kate, recently spent six months in the hospital, most of that in the ICU, for pancreatitis. I received a call in the morning from her husband Tim informing me that Kate had been admitted to the ICU. I told him that I would leave work and be there as quickly as I could. He told me to stay at work, and just pray for Kate.

I called home to let the rest of my family know what was going on. Rhys asked Wendy to take them right away over to the hospital before his classes, so they could see her. I didn’t ask Rhys to do that, it was his decision that he made all by himself.

Some children come to earth and need a little guidance from time to time on how to make right choices, not get into too much trouble, etc. Some children come to earth and the parent’s primary responsibility is to just not screw them up too much. They are innately spiritual. All you have to do is show them the way and step back and watch them travel it.

Rhys is like that. He has been a tremendous blessing in my life. He inspires me to be better as he gives meaning and focus to my life.

We love you son, and look forward to watching you serve a mission for your Heavenly Father, and receiving all of the other blessings that He will pour into your life.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

I've been awarded!!!

Tristi Pinkston, one of my favorite authors, just gave me this award:

I am deeply honored, thank you Tristi.

I will now give the award to seven more people. They are:

Christina Olsen
Girl in a Whirl
C. L. Beck and Nichole Giles from LDS Writers Blogck
Queen of Chaos
Writer in the Pines
Grace for Grace

Congratulations! I enjoy reading each of your blogs on a regular basis.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

A God of Miracles - Mormon 9:15-20

15 And now, O all ye that have imagined up unto yourselves a god who can do no miracles, I would ask of you, have all these things passed, of which I have spoken? Has the end come yet? Behold I say unto you, Nay; and God has not ceased to be a God of miracles.
16 Behold, are not the things that God hath wrought marvelous in our eyes? Yea, and who can comprehend the marvelous works of God?
17 Who shall say that it was not a miracle that by his word the heaven and the earth should be; and by the power of his word man was created of the dust of the earth; and by the power of his word have miracles been wrought?
18 And who shall say that Jesus Christ did not do many mighty miracles? And there were many mighty miracles wrought by the hands of the apostles.
19 And if there were miracles wrought then, why has God ceased to be a God of miracles and yet be an unchangeable Being? And behold, I say unto you he changeth not; if so he would cease to be God; and he ceaseth not to be God, and is a God of miracles.
20 And the reason why he ceaseth to do miracles among the children of men is because that they dwindle in unbelief, and depart from the right way, and know not the God in whom they should trust.

(Book of Mormon | Mormon 9:15 - 20)

Moroni makes a very valid point in these verses. Throughout the scriptures we read time and again how God is a God of miracles. Anciently, prophets performed great miracles like Moses and Elijah.

Jesus performed even greater miracles while he was on earth, and he gave His power, the priesthood, to His Apostles. They also performed many mighty miracles.
Jesus did not perform many miracles amongst His countrymen because of their lack of faith, not due to His lack of ability.

If there are no miracles being performed today it would be due to our lack of faith. However, God does not change, and His priesthood is on the earth. Miracles, both large and small are performed today.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints declares that there are Apostles on the earth.

A good friend of mine that I home teach, Kate, recently spent about six months in the ICU with pancreatitis. When she was first in the hospital she was given a priesthood blessing that she would recover.
She was fortunate that there was a doctor in her hospital that travelled extensively, and at that moment was in her hospital. He studied nothing but the pancreas. He is one of the top pancreas specialists in the country. He performed tests on Kate’s pancreas. The results were not promising. He told Kate’s husband, Tim, that he had never seen a person with test results like hers survive.

As mentioned earlier, she spent six long and difficult months in the ICU. She has been home and getting stronger everyday now for several months. The doctors are baffled as to why she lived. They performed several operations on her during her convalescence where they told Kate and Tim that the chances of survival were improbable.

Is God a God of miracles today? Absolutely. Some of His miracles might not be on as grand a scale as that, or at least they might not be perceived to be, but He is not asleep and He loves his children. Those that look for His hand in their lives will see it in numerous ways.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

The Genetics of The Book of Mormon

Orson Scott Card is one of my favorite authors. He started his career writing science fiction books like Ender's Game. Nowadays he writes a lot of LDS themed material.

I recently read an article of his on Mormon Times that discusses the Genetics of the Book of Mormon. It is aimed at those that think DNA and other scientific research proves the Book of Mormon false. His article is articulate and well worth the read. It can be found here.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

How to find peace in a troubled world - Mormon 8:7-11

7 And behold, the Lamanites have hunted my people, the Nephites, down from city to city and from place to place, even until they are no more; and great has been their fall; yea, great and marvelous is the destruction of my people, the Nephites.
8 And behold, it is the hand of the Lord which hath done it. And behold also, the Lamanites are at war one with another; and the whole face of this land is one continual round of murder and bloodshed; and no one knoweth the end of the war.
9 And now, behold, I say no more concerning them, for there are none save it be the Lamanites and robbers that do exist upon the face of the land.
10 And there are none that do know the true God save it be the disciples of Jesus, who did tarry in the land until the wickedness of the people was so great that the Lord would not suffer them to remain with the people; and whether they be upon the face of the land no man knoweth.
11 But behold, my father and I have seen them, and they have ministered unto us.

(Book of Mormon | Mormon 8:7 - 11)

Moroni watches the final destruction of his people. After the Lamanites had destroyed the Nephites they started fighting amongst themselves. Such is the nature of anger and hatred. It is easy to become angry at a person or idea, or something, and to say to yourself, and soon as that person or thing goes away, I won’t be angry anymore.

However, we are each responsible for our emotions. If I’m angry about something, it is a conscious decision on my part to be so. What’s more, by giving place in my heart for anger in one area makes me more susceptible to anger in other areas.

Peace comes from within. The Savior is the Prince of Peace. Moroni understands this. It is how he can constantly be surrounded by anger, war, and hatred, and not be swallowed up by it. He places his trust in the person that brings peace of soul, even the Lord Jesus Christ.

I will try to remember this today. I am in control of what I do, say, and think. I will need help along the way. If I put my trust and faith solely in myself, I will waste the day, and will most likely experience negative emotions that will pull me away from the Holy Spirit.

A kind and loving Heavenly Father wants me to find peace and joy. If I allow Him to be the center of my thoughts and actions, I will find happiness today and forever.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

The Law of Witnesses - Mormon 8:1-6

1 BEHOLD I, Moroni, do finish the record of my father, Mormon. Behold, I have but few things to write, which things I have been commanded by my father.
2 And now it came to pass that after the great and tremendous battle at Cumorah, behold, the Nephites who had escaped into the country southward were hunted by the Lamanites, until they were all destroyed.
3 And my father also was killed by them, and I even remain alone to write the sad tale of the destruction of my people. But behold, they are gone, and I fulfil the commandment of my father. And whether they will slay me, I know not.
4 Therefore I will write and hide up the records in the earth; and whither I go it mattereth not.
5 Behold, my father hath made this record, and he hath written the intent thereof. And behold, I would write it also if I had room upon the plates, but I have not; and ore I have none, for I am alone. My father hath been slain in battle, and all my kinsfolk, and I have not friends nor whither to go; and how long the Lord will suffer that I may live I know not.
6 Behold, *four hundred years have passed away since the coming of our Lord and Savior.

(Book of Mormon | Mormon 8:1 - 6)

This passage is in line with the law of witnesses, i.e. “In the mouth of two or three witnesses shall every word be established.” 2 Corinthians 13:1

The original prophets wrote the record and Mormon abridged them, becoming a witness of them. Here we have his son Moroni also becoming a witness of the Book of Mormon.

Since Moroni was the person who gave the plates to Joseph Smith, there is a clear line of ownership and possession of the records. Joseph Smith fulfilled the law of witnesses with both the Three Witnesses and the Eight.

It is obvious that Mormon had this in mind. Moroni states that he was commanded by his father to finish the record.

I add my voice and witness to the Book of Mormon. I have read it dozens of times. I have felt the Spirit of the Lord bear witness to my soul that it is true. That knowledge fills me with a sense of peace and comfort. I know who I am, I am a son of God. I know why I am here. I know how to partake of the Tree of Life and receive Eternal Life. I am grateful for my testimony.

The best thing about the Book of Mormon is that there is no reason for you to take my word that it is true. You can find out for yourself. Sincerely read and ponder the Book of Mormon. As you do so, ask your Father in Heaven to know if it is true. He will answer your sincere prayer. He loves you and wants to help bring you home again.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

What our vacation would've looked like

Every summer we spend our summer vacation in Southern Utah. We stay in my parent's cabin in Duck Creek. Duck Creek Village's claim to fame is that "My Friend Flicka" was filmed there about a million years ago...If you can post into the comments section who starred in that movie, I'll be impressed.

Anyway, this year we were unable to take our usual vacation. I used all of my vacation time off as I recovered from my elbow injuries a couple of months ago.

Our daughter, Aubrey, and son-in-law, Curtis, stayed at the cabin for us this year and took some wonderful photos.

Here's the couple standing together:

Looking out over Cedar Breaks:

Aubrey and Curtis standing next to a 1,600 year old bristle cone pine tree:

Princess, this is where you ask your husband for anything you want...

Aspen Mirror Lake:

Aspen Mirror Stream:

Aspen Mirror Stream:

Hiking the Narrows at Zion's. The hike is in the middle of the river:

The Narrows:

Zion's National Park:

And finally, the firepit behind the cabin:

Hopefully next summer we can all be there together again.

Friday, July 4, 2008

Missionary e-mail 7-4-08

Hey everyone!
What a week! Things have been so busy around here. Last week I didnt even get much of a p-day. I spent most of it in the office working. I managed to finish the mission newspaper thingy, get the new guys all settled in and handle the transfer. Things went well like always but there have been a lot of changes. The companionship in our zone that wasnt part of the staff, was transfered. Its back to 3 companionships... Me and my comp and my new comp, Elder Pedrosa (he's being trained this transfer to take Elder Rufino's place), Elder Dunn, and Elder Araujo, and the 2 assistants, Elder Stephens and Elder Emery. Its basically all one companionship, since we change companions constantly and we all have the same area and numbers and investigators and everything. It should be pretty interesting.
We had an amazing baptism on saturday. We baptized 2 boys named Breno (15) and Gabriel (12) who are the sons of 2 members. Their parents fell away from the church but their dad came back a little while ago. We reactivated their mom and uncle. Their dad was able to baptize them and it was a really great experience for everyone. Afterwards, they gave us little pictures of christ that they had made that had a letter to each one of us on the back thanking us for having helped them out so much and bringing their family back together again. It was great.
Now that the 2 areas in this ward are back together again, we have a ton of investigators and with the baptisms we were preparing and those that the other elders had prepared when they were here, we should have quite a few this transfer. A girl named Christina and a woman named Maria (the mother of another woman we baptized last month, Naira), are preparing to be baptized next week. The week after that, another couple of people have accepted baptismal dates. We'll see how that goes.
Well, I gotta run. Love you all tons. Hope you have a great week! Happy 4th of July!

Elder Childs

The final admonition Mormon 7:1-7

1 AND now, behold, I would speak somewhat unto the remnant of this people who are spared, if it so be that God may give unto them my words, that they may know of the things of their fathers; yea, I speak unto you, ye remnant of the house of Israel; and these are the words which I speak:
2 Know ye that ye are of the house of Israel.
3 Know ye that ye must come unto repentance, or ye cannot be saved.
4 Know ye that ye must lay down your weapons of war, and delight no more in the shedding of blood, and take them not again, save it be that God shall command you.
5 Know ye that ye must come to the knowledge of your fathers, and repent of all your sins and iniquities, and believe in Jesus Christ, that he is the Son of God, and that he was slain by the Jews, and by the power of the Father he hath risen again, whereby he hath gained the victory over the grave; and also in him is the sting of death swallowed up.
6 And he bringeth to pass the resurrection of the dead, whereby man must be raised to stand before his judgment-seat.
7 And he hath brought to pass the redemption of the world, whereby he that is found guiltless before him at the judgment day hath it given unto him to dwell in the presence of God in his kingdom, to sing ceaseless praises with the choirs above, unto the Father, and unto the Son, and unto the Holy Ghost, which are one God, in a state of happiness which hath no end.

(Book of Mormon | Mormon 7:1 - 7)

If you could give one last speech/sermon for the benefit of future generations what would it be? Mormon, a warrior prophet, gives his final admonition in this chapter. His days have been spent crying repentance to his people, and leading them in battle against their foes.
I wonder if at this point he looked back on his life and thought that he wasn’t very successful in either endeavor? What he does know is that he has been faithful in keeping the commandments in very difficult situations. Despite the chaos and turmoil that surrounded his existence he was able to raise at least one son that was true to the faith.
Isn’t that what matters? I can be a failure in just about every way that the world would define that term, but if I’m a success with the Lord, what else could I want?
I for one, give thanks to brave men like Mormon who fill me with hope and a desire to be a better me.