Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Quick One: Apostles at my Baptism

I take this week as a break from Ether 12:4. I don't want you to get sick of it yet. Also I've had a cold. So please enjoy this quick story that I just remembered just now.

Once upon a time... I turned 8. Plot twist! I know!
In my church, The Church of Jesus Christ of Later Day Saints, ili Crkva Isusa Krista Svetaca Posljednjih Dana, turning 8 means you get to choose if you want to be baptized. We call it the age of accountability.

My mom would occasionally ask me questions about the program, such as what my favorite primary songs were, who should do the baptizing, and who I wanted there. Naturally, I wanted the Prophet and apostles there. Bless my mom's heart, she said "We'll see. They're busy, but we'll see."

I even wrote a letter to them, telling them about the plans and inviting them to come. I never sent it, but I wrote it. I also told some people that we were going to see if they could come.

I turned 8 on the 5th and had the baptism on the 7th. The big day came. I woke, washed up, and donned my brand new pioneer-esque with dress, complete with apron, that my mom's friend had made for me. I went to my best friend's house so her mom could do my hair. It was my first time ever having french braids! She even weaved a special fabric flower into my hair that had on my wrist at my baby blessing.

I can remember being in the font and seeing the faces above me. I can remember the sound of rushing water as I dipped back and the bubbles that seemed to come around my head. Then I got out of my wet jumpsuit and into my dress. Some people spoke, although I can't remember what was said. I think Gordon Lasson was there and made a comment on how I was dressed and ready long before my dad and how it was because he probably had to dry his hair. My dad was and still is bald. I still don't know what took him so long.

My grandma then got up to speak. She's not "really my grandma" but my "adopted grandma". She's my grandma. She was one of the people whom I had told my prestigious invitation list to.

Before speaking, she went over to the black board and put up pictures of the prophet and all the apostles. She explained she did this so they could be there for my baptism.
But was that good enough for 8 yr old me?
You bet it was!

And that's how I had apostles and the prophet at my baptism. The end.

(Check back here for en exclusive picture from my baptism)

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Ether 12:4 - With Surety

 Wherefore, whoso believeth in God might with surety hope for a better world, yea, even a place at the right hand of God, which hope cometh of faith, maketh an anchor to the souls of men, which would make them sure and steadfast, always abounding in good works, being led to glorify God.
With surety. I'm not sure about much these days, to be honest. I don't know what my favorite band is, what I feel like eating, what I feel at all, what the weather will be tomorrow, when I will see my friends again... I'm not sure if the list ever ends.
Especially now. I'm not sure I'll make it through family dinners, not sure I'll be able to go to that one thing, not sure I'll be able to make it to my bed afterwards. I'm not sure when I will be able to do all these things people normally do on a daily basis. I'm not sure what's wrong with me and what I can do in the meantime.

We're not sure of the future of the world. We're not sure who will still be our friends in a year or so. We're not sure what will happen next month. We not sure of so many things.

To clarify for those unfamiliar with Book of Mormon lingo, "might" in this case doesn't mean "maybe" but "will" or "in consequence of doing so". So in our conversations "I'm not going to on a road trip so I might be able to make it." means "maybe, but I'm not 100% sure." but in this context it means "Because of this I can do that." Make sense?

Now let's look at that pairing. "Surety" and "hope". Isn't that a contradiction? No.
Hope: (n.)
1. a feeling of trust (dictionary/archiac)
2. a feeling of expectation and desire for a certain thing to happen

Faith, although intertwined, is different. But that's a different post.

Preach My Gospel says,
"[Hope] is manifest in confidence, optimism, enthusiasm, and patient perseverance." (pg.117 Christlike Attributes: Hope) 
It makes sense that if you believe in Christ, and if you have a personal relationship with God, you have trust. Not iffy trust, but sure trust. You can "with surety hope". You can be confident and patient, because you trust God.

The best example I think of, not from the scriptures but from history, are the founding fathers. Let's focus on John Adams.

I love 1776! It's my new favorite musical. My mom doesn't watch many movies, but she actually excited to watch this one with me. By the end, I was in my futball watching stance. Edge of seat, elbows on knees, leaning forward. I knew how it was going to end, I was watching in the United States of America after all! But sweet mercy!
John Adams (Mr. Feeny), Ben Franklin, Thomas Jefferson
1776 Movie via Pinterest

The vote for independence had to be unanimous. Yet, just barely half were willing to even talk about it! Delaware was split in half and the southern colonies would go with the majority as long as they were able to keep their trade (slavery). Politics wasn't the only problem either. The war front was coming to them, there was home sickness, there was a large group of men stuck together in an unconditioned room (o, the heat), supply shortage, and other issues at hand. Not to mention, dear Mr John was "obnoxious and disliked, did you know that?" ("I hadn't heard")
Even after opening the possibility for debate, the odds were really against him. (His cousin was there too, but he's not in the musical. Sorry, Sam!) It came down to the very last second. THE. VERY. LAST. SECOND! If he didn't have trust, if he didn't surely hope, he would have given up long before. He would have given up when they were obviously sunk, like when the south was adamant that slavery stay legal, like when it took him over a year simply to get people thinking about it, like when he lost faith in himself, like when he got into arguments with is friends, and so forth. But he had that hope! He had that feeling of expectation and desire for a certain thing to happen!

It's truly inspiring to watch the events unfold and come together. It wasn't for him, it wasn't for Benjamin Franklin, it wasn't for Thomas Jefferson. It was for posterity. Posterity they would never meet, but would live in a better future.
Watch the movie. You'll get it.

But that's not the end.
"Wherefore, whoso believeth in God might with surety hope for a better world"

Sept 11, Patriots' Day, was last week. As I looked through all the memories of that day in world history, (and I discovered it was, indeed, world history) I saw this theme repeated over and over again. "It was the end of the world as we knew it."
This happened when I was in second grade. I can remember standing in the doorway of my room, watching the TV in my parents room. We had visited those sites just a couple years earlier, when I was in kindergarten. I have been told stories and seen pictures of times when you could go to the airport terminal with someone, either to say goodbye or to pick them up. I've heard stories of times when we weren't so ridiculously cautious. In my experience, travel has been pretty lone. I grew up in this "new world". For me, this paranoia that's in the world is pretty normal.
But according to this scripture, which I know for myself to be true, we can still home for a better world.

Not just that the sun will rise the next day, although we do hope that is the case. This can be taken literally, like in John Adam's case, or figuratively.
It's no secret we all live in our own worlds. I've used this scripture to inspire myself in "down times". When I feel stuck, depressed, discouraged, or what have you. In those times, you can hope with surety that your world will get better. I have seen it for myself. Although you may see no way out of it (as in John Adams case), as if it's the way it will always be, it isn't. I promise you! And you don't have to wait until it happens. You can get to know Christ now and with surety hope for a better world. Hope manifests in wonderful ways! It sets the stone rolling, however slow yet still moving.

Medically, I can hope for a cure or a solution. Physically and emotionally, I surely hope that there will always be someone around to take care of me and support me (something I have experienced many times in the past month alone). Spiritually and mentally, I hope that I will endure, that I won't lose hope or lose sight of what is really important.

The best week of study and growth is when I studied hope. I can't wait to continue discussing it as we continue to explore this verse. I'm so excited! I hope you will get something from it, too!

S ljubavlju!

I just want to publicly thank everyone who I have bumped into or who dropped a line in my direction. You have no idea how much it meant to me to receive these hugs physically and verbally. Perhaps one of these days I will get to share the whole story. For now, with all my heart I thank you very much!

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Ether 12:4 - Meet The Author

I write this post while listening to the sound of thunder and christmas carols, and by the glow of lightening and my humidifier.

I revisited my "all-purpose" verse from my mission. For some reason, I haven't read it since getting back. At least I can now confidently say it is my favorite.

Ether 12:4.

It's chalk full of goodness. (So much so, I am breaking it up into a series of posts.) It's been like a best friend to me. It always knows just what to say. It's always there when I need it. It's always supportive. It's never mean. It's always uplifting. It's Moroni. It's inspiring. It's intellectually stimulating. It's elegant.

Like I said. It's my best friend. If I could live in a verse, this would be it.

Moroni has always amazed me. For some reason, I feel a certain closeness with him, as if he were one of my dear friends. I'm always sad when the book is over and I have to goodbye.
What I find the most amazing about him, is who he is. He's not perfect. Mormon lets us know that. That gives me hope.

For those of you who do not know Moroni, let me give you a quick background. His dad, Mormon, was an incredible general. Both Mormon and Moroni almost their entire lives at war. This isn't your normal feud of the tribes. This isn't even French Revolution. It's horrific. It's terrifying. It's hopeless.
These two people have been at war, almost constantly, since setting foot on the land. Their families are being violated and tortured in grotesque ways. It's not just their families, but their friends, too. no one safe. Mayan like sacrifices are being made. The air stinks with the odor of death.

I distinctly remember putting my book and having to take a moment or two. For some reason, I missed those part the first three times I read the book.

You may have seen one of
these giant statues of Moroni
No one side is good either. The Nephites, Moroni and Mormon's people, have more than their fair share of savageness. Mormon tried to walk away from it all, but his people needed him. As much as he pleaded and taught them, they wouldn't change their ways. So, knowing they would be destroyed, Mormon helps them anyways. Eventually, Mormon dies.

So here's Moroni. He watched his father die. His wife and children have died after experiencing the unimaginable. The surviving of his friends have been scattered. The Nephite army is no more. It's every man for him self. So he goes from hiding spot to hiding spot, finishing a project his father started. He's hunted like a fox. No friends. No family. Alone.
I may be alone, but I will never be Moroni alone.

He even finishes one of his chapters by saying it would probably be the last, and that it's likely he won't live much longer.

Well guess what, he still lives. If you think about it, that's not necessarily a good thing, at least for him. He opens then next chapter like "Well, I'm not dead yet. So... Let's talk about hope!" And I'm sitting in my chair like "Are you kidding me?" What on earth could he hope for?

Not to be confused with this guy. This is a different, but
also awesome, Captain Moroni.
Here, he has EVERY right to feel jaded and depressed. His life is a literal nightmare. But no, he's going to give us some of the most powerful chapters in the entire book. He's going to teach us about faith, hope, and charity. Oh! And look at this other piece of book he found that relates a people that ended up like his. He's the last of his kind? Hunted down by the blood thirsty and terrible? Let's talk about the greatest love that exist. Are you kidding me? Is this guy for real? Yes.

I love Moroni with a deep love.

Ether was a prophet of a people that was also destroyed in a horrific manner, similar to Moroni's. Only one man that just couldn't die, no matter how much he wanted to. But that is an interesting story for another time.

Here's the verse I will be discussing. What are your insights? I just might add your comment in one of my posts, but I will definitely take note of it.
 Wherefore, whoso believeth in God might with surety hope for a better world, yea, even a place at the right hand of God, which hope cometh of faith, maketh an anchor to the souls of men, which would make them sure and steadfast, always abounding in good works, being led to glorify God.

Monday, September 1, 2014

Another Year Mark: Coming Home Aug 29

This would be the part where I list what I've learned in the past year, right?

Definitely in the top 3 hardest weeks of my life. I was told I was going home.

I didn't want to go. I had given my all. Literally everything, holding nothing back. I had given my whole heart and soul. I was fully ready to die in service to the people I cared everything for. "We don't do that anymore." My president laughed. 
My family calls me in the early hours. They're supportive. They're excited. They're funny. They think it's best. They're helpful.

[Imagine being a pumpkin around Halloween time. You're sawed into, your insides get scrapped out to thin your walls and be sure that nothing is left. All those good seeds... Gutted. Then you get stabbed some more into some design you can't see. But wait! There's a light inside that could not have existed before! And it's warm!
It's a lot like that.]

Last interview. Last night. Last good-byes. 

4:15 am- time to leave Zagreb. 9:45 pm- touchdown in Utah.

I chow on food on the way home. My brother is there, happy to see me. My bed is made for me, complete with a humidifier. It's been a long day of travel and it's late. Time for bed.

I celebrated this mark by making pizza with my brother. What could have been a potentially rough day, turned out to be very nice. Low key, peaceful, and free of emotional pains. What more could you ask for? Oh yes! Let's not forget the pizza! Mmmm-mmmmmmm.

I go to sleep in the same bed, in the same spot, in the same home, with the same pains and problems. And oh! Even the same pajamas!

Life hasn't changed much, except that know we know what I don't have. It got me thinking, what has changed in the past year? What has happened? So what has a year done?
  • I've learned how easy it is to forget important lessons, even without distractions. "Oh yeah." is probably the most common statement following received revelation.
  • NEVER say you can't. "I can't take it anymore" is a lie. You can. You will. You don't have a choice.
  • To that same line, just because you can push yourself further doesn't mean you should. Be smart.
  • Medical trails: Physically hard for us, emotionally hard for those around us. Sometimes I wonder if my family is more upset than I am.
  • The world isn't against you. It's you and God against your challenges. There is no task too big to take on, and no problem is too complicated for you two. 
  • The Infinite Atonement is a book that I wish I read earlier in life. If nothing else, coming to better understand Christ, Heavenly Father, and the Atonement is all worth it. I have learned so much from reading this book.
  • Things are planned before you're born. Like when this happened.
  • You're not alone. I'm not alone. 
  • Prayers are answered. I thought I already knew this, but now I know it.
  • It doesn't matter what others think. "I know it and God knows it..." and THAT is what matters. 
  • Reflection is underrated.
  • Gratitude helps you more than anyone else. This goes for prayers, too!
  • God has an amazing sense of humor.
  • I read in a couple of my classes that a human will die without social interaction. This isn't true, although it's a nice notion.
  • Christ, Heavenly Father, the Holy Ghost, and you make the best team. 
  • Heavenly Father is the father of our spirits. He knows us and loves us more than we are prepared to accept. He will put an arm around you when you ask for it, simply because He loves you. Not because it's His duty or anything like that.
  • You don't have to know the "why"s.
  • Your relationship with God is the only thing that cannot be taken away from you. When you are stripped of everything in your life, it's the one thing that will remain. Even if you don't notice it, it's there. He's there.
  • Mormon Tabernacle Choir never gets old.
  • God talks to you in a way you will hear. (Music, books, Pinterest, Twitter, old talks, scriptures, and more)
  • Open your scriptures. Get dressed for church. Get on your knees. The rest will follow.
  • One on one with your Father in Heaven cannot be substituted or compensated by anything else. It's the best way to spend the evening. Don't believe me? Try for yourself.
  • At least you can go to school and work and play and laugh and have friends and be accountable and carry heavy things and be given chores! Some of us can't get off the floor without repercussions 
  • There's always a reason for gratitude. Always. 
  • "How are you doing" is a hard question. Do they mean how am I doing generally? Or do they mean physically?  When they ask how I'm feeling do they mean emotionally? How do I answer? Do I tell the truth? I can't lie. Do I tell them everything I'm feeling? I don't want to be one of those people. How am I feeling? I don't even think I know? This always ends with Well, I'm alive. That's good. So I smile and say "well." Communication is hard.
  • There's always something to do. 
  • If you can't even move, you can still pray. Prayers are not diminished by brain fog, thank goodness.
  • You are more than your mannerisms, your smile your laugh, your habits, and so on. 
  • The way I act with certain people is a habit. Weird, eh?
  • I'm a chronic dancer. It's been the hardest habit to break.
  • A kind line from a friend is grossly underestimated. Thank you to all who randomly think of me! 
  • Not being able to play with family will be more difficult to deal with than not being able to do the activities you love.
  • We all have troubles and problems. It's best that we face them together.
  • It's not always your fault.
  • You will learn. 
  • Problems are "real". It's not all in your mind. A lot more of it is real than you might think. Trust yourself. Trust what you are feeling. You're not as crazy as you think. 
  • It's okay to recognize your needs. Just be sure you pray about it.
  • Assumptions are the worse.
  • You will survive. If you follow Christ, you will come out conquerer. Even if you feel like you've been left in the tumbler, you can conquer! (Huzzah!)
I've noticed how long this list has become and have decided to stop here. I learned more than I thought! I guess the biggest lesson I can take as I wrap up this first year back is that you never know the whole story. There is always more. God is in control, which means these challenges and trails are part of a masterpiece. 

Thank you for learning with me! I actually really do want to know what you have learned year. 

S Ljubavlju,