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Thursday, November 17, 2011

Endings and Beginnings

Right now I am almost at a loss for words.  There's so much going on within my heart and mind that it seems nearly impossible to share even a portion of it.  But, you all know me, I will try my best. 

Memories, ah....good times!
It's here; the end has come.  The eighteen month journey is at it's close.  Over the last few weeks I have found myself laying awake and reflecting upon my mission, my life as a sister missionary.  I see the faces of each person I have met, the people I have loved, the people that have changed me more than I have changed them.  I love them.  I cherish the bonds I have made and the spiritual moments shared.  It's like nothing else I have ever experienced.

Though this chapter in my life is ending, a new one is beginning; my life as Brittany Nestman.

What will life be like at home?  Most likely it will be much like it was before the mission: church, work, school, family, friends, and dating (o.0).  Something I have found myself asking is "what will be different?  What is it that I am taking home from all of this?"  Yes I'm taking home all my memories, cherished thoughts and feelings, but what else?

Friday, November 11, 2011

Flag Poles

Now that I have your attention, let's kick this bloggaroonie into action!

My companion and I have been ranting and raving about this topic for a while now: Progression.  "A movement or development toward a destination or a more advanced state, esp. gradually or in stages."  So it's moving forward.  Going from one stage to a harder more advanced level.  Each of you think back to your Super Mario days (yes, for some that was only a second ago (good for you)).  What would it be like if at the end of the stage, there was no flag.

I can hear the answers now, "What?!?!  No flag?!?!  How could that possibly be?!?!"  There you would stand; stuck in a world you have already mastered.  Sure you could jump around, maybe jump on a goomba or two that you missed, but that's it.  No underground, underwater, or castle levels.  Not to mention that in future Mario Bros. games you'd never experience Yoshi!  <GASP> I know I know, it's all seemingly unimaginable.  But, is it really?

Let's take a look at our own lives.  We go through life and what do we hope to accomplish?  Do we have a vision?  Like in Mario, the big "vision" is conquering the game.  Beating every level and foe that stands in your way.  Our vision should be to live with God again one day, ergo we set goals to achieve it.  So, are there any "flag poles" in our lives (aka, goals)?  Once we have these goals, it's time to do everything we can to achieve them.  Give it our all to reach those "flag poles".

Word of caution, it's not going to be easy.  Hopefully we have all realized this by now.  The comforting thing is, that as we rely on the Lord and stay close to Him, it's easier.  Still not easy, but He gives us a LOT of help.  He gives us the little helps we need such as the Prophet, scriptures, friends, family, prayer, and so much more (like the fire flower, super mushroom, starman, and 1-up mushroom).

For those that don't have a vision, get one.  For those that have goals but aren't doing anything to reach them, get on it!  There's no time like the present!  Consider this blog a push forward.  As we speak I am setting goals and making plans to achieve the vision I have for myself.  I've got the flag poles in my sight and have that vision of defeating Bowser, do you?

Saturday, November 5, 2011

True Identity

"What is your true identity?"  Over the past few days, this question has been bouncing around inside my brain.  Almost like flubber; it just won't stop bouncing!  As one would guess, a portion of my personal study each morning has been devoted to answering this very question.  Let's break it down.

First, 'true': what does it mean?  We all see it as one of the choices on a "true or false" section of a test, but what's the actual definition?  You better believe I looked it up.  "Steadfast, loyal, agreeing with facts or reality, consistent, properly so called, rightful, comfortable to a standard or pattern, placed or formed accurately."  Fair enough.

Now, what does 'identity' mean?  "Sameness of essential character, individuality, the fact of being the same person or thing as claimed."  After reading these definitions I decided to also look up individuality, which is "the sum of qualities that characterize and distinguish an individual from all others, separate or distinct existence."  Hmmmm.... Very interesting.

Friday, October 28, 2011


Over the last few weeks I have been doing a lot of pondering.  Dangerous past-time right?  My thoughts have been over the goals that I want to have for after the mission.  Some are obvious, such as finding a job and getting back into school, but others are deeper.  Something my mind has been drawn back to again and again is joy.  My companion, Sister Kahrs, knows all about joy and has opened my eyes to an incredible goal for the rest of my life.  Here's the teaser to my goal (before I go into it further):

Classic! Robyn, Me, and Miliana at the Sacramento Temple
I love to laugh
Loud and long and clear
I love to laugh
It's getting worse ev'ry year

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Conversion of Korey


 Okay my religious background was none. Didn't pray, wasn't sure of a 'God', and I had no idea about anything concerning Jesus Christ. Religion was something I was never forced to participate in and it was always something I avoided. In life you tend to avoid the unknowns, because there is fear of inadequacy from the lack of knowledge, or a fear of the 'what if's' as well. That was the case for me. I had friends that went to a number of different denominations, but was never motivated to follow their example at any point in my life. But all that, of course, changed.

The year was 2006, the start of my senior year in high school. I had yet to have a direct encounter with the church yet at that point, but was finally made aware that it even existed. At no point in my life do I recall ever seeing missionaries, or hearing about the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (it wasn’t until much later on in the process that I realized that many times over the years I had seen, on late night infomercials, ads for the Book of Mormon). But, I had come into contact with a member of the church at work. We were actually really good friends. I worked at a restaurant and my coworker was a girl by the name of Shanda.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Ladder of Hope

This poem was sent to me by a very dear friend.  I am not sure who the author is or what it is titled (so if someone does, please let me know), but I loved it and wanted to share it with everyone!  Please read and let these powerful words touch you the way they've touched me.

I had been in that hole for a very long time
In the dark and the damp, in the cold and the slime.
The shaft was above me; I could see it quite clear
But there's no way I ever could reach it from here.
Nor could I remember the world way up there
So I lost all my hope and gave in to despair.
I knew nothing but darkness, the floor, and the walls
Then off in the distance I heard someone call: "Get up! Get ready! There's nothing the matter.
Take rocks and old sticks and build up a fine ladder."
This had never occurred to me--had not crossed my mind.
But I started to stack all the stones I could find.
When I ran out of stones, then old sticks were my goal, For one way or another I'd get out of that hole.
So I soon had a ladder that was sturdy and tall
And I thought, "I'll soon leave this place once and for all."
I climbed up my ladder. It was no easy chore,
For from lifting those boulders, my shoulders were sore.
I climbed on up the ladder, but soon had to stop
For my ladder stopped short--some ten feet from the top.
I climbed back down my ladder and started to cry I'd done all I could do. I gave my best try.
And in spite of my work, in this hole I must die.
And all I could do was to sit and think, "Why?"
Was my ladder too short? Or my hole much too deep
Then from way upon high came a voice, "Do not weep."
And then faith, hope, and love entered into my chest
As the voice said to me that I'd done my best.
He said, "You've worked very hard, and your labor's been rough,
But the ladder you've built is at last tall enough.
Do not despair. You have reason to hope
just climb up your ladder; I'll throw down my rope."
I climbed up the ladder, then climbed up the cord.
When I got to the top, there stood the Lord.
I couldn't be happier; my struggle was done.
I blinked in the brightness that came from the Son.
I fell to the ground, His feet did I kiss
I cried, "What can I do to repay thee for this?"
Then He looked all about Him. There were holes in the ground They had people inside, and were seen all around
There were thousands of holes that were damp, dark, and deep The the Lord turned to me and He said, "Feed my sheep."
Then He went on His way to help other lost souls, And I got right to work, calling down to the holes: "Get up! Get ready! There's nothing the matter.
Take rocks and old sticks and build up a fine ladder."
It now was my turn to spread the good word.
The most glorious message that man ever heard.
That there's one who is willing to save one and all
And we've got to be ready when He gives the call.
He'll pull us all out of the hole that we're in
And save all our souls from death and from sin.
So do not lose faith; there is reason to hope
just build up your ladder; He'll throw down His rope

Friday, October 14, 2011

Clear Vision

So, get this!  The other day I had this brilliant idea for a blog post.  I told my companion all about it, she told me someone has already written a book about it (who knew?), and then I had an experience that put it into an even greater perspective.  If ever there was a blog to be excited about, it is this one!

Wednesday of this week I went to see the eye doctor.  Yes, the optometrist.  I've been having some issues with my eyes going blurry for no apparent reason.  No good right?  I figured it was time to have the problem looked at.  To sum the experience up briefly: we got there, signed papers, tried not to listen to the distracting music (bah!), escorted to the back room (dun dun dun), had bright lights shined in my eyes, orange dye put in my eye (that rhymed), blue dye dabbed into my eye, a little chit chat, eye drops given, and off on my merry way with a prescription for some eye drops. 

The drops aren't bad.  They feel rather refreshing.  The gel on the other hand..... Not as much fun.  It feels as though I am putting lotion on my eyes and everything goes all cloud-like.  My companion, bless her heart, thinks it is the most entertaining thing in the world.  Myself, I like being able to see.

Friday, October 7, 2011


It's been seventeen months now in the mission field and I can still say that receiving mail still feels like Christmas.  Snail mail is the bee's knees in my book!  Today I received a letter from my "adopted" grandpa.  He is one of my best friends and the story of how we became such good friends is one of the greatest stories ever told, by me that is.

By now all of you are well aware that I worked at a swimming pool prior to coming on my mission.  Every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday morning from 9:00-1:00 I was in the pool teaching swimming lessons.  While swimming lessons were going on there were a few water aerobics classes, lap swimmers, and people getting in their pool exercises.  It's like seventh heaven there!

Every day I was there to teach swim lessons there was a man that would come and do one of the water aerobic classes.  Because I am a talker and like to say "hello" to everyone and their dog, I started to talk to this elderly man that was attending water aerobics fairly regularly.  First thing I noticed was his German accent.  We talked about his days growing up in Germany, what it was like to be a member of the church there during that time, and he told me all about himself.  Each bit of information intrigued me to no end because my grandpa Nestman is from Germany. 

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Give it 110%

Awe yeah!  Another post about swimming is coming at you!

I am a competitive person.  I don't like to lose.  My family can attest to this fact (we get kinda into board games....)  When I got into swimming, it was the best thing I could have done.  The competition is incredible!  Swimming is a unique sport.  It is both a team and individual sport; this made it a great sport for me.  Not only was I swimming against another person in hopes of beating them and earning points for my team, but I was swimming against myself.  Double competition!  Booyah!

On a team level, we were all working together for one cause: to beat the opponents.  We all know it's true!  No team goes into a competition or meet saying "well, let's not win this one.  Who cares?"  Haha, no.  It matters.  The goal is to come out on top!  Each of us is there trying our best.  We cheer on our teammates.  Help each other reach our goals.  There is also a coach there to tell you what you did that was good, and where there is room for growth; which ultimately helps you to become better.  As solitary as this sport may feel, it's not.  There's always someone there for you.

As much as you have a team there with you, competitors in the pool in the next lane over, it's ultimately you verses the clock.  Each race the goal is to go faster than you did before.  Drop more and more time and become better and better.  It's self perfecting at it's best!  To do this, you practice daily (sometimes more than once a day).  During these practices you better your technique, build up your endurance, push yourself to the limits, and do as much as you can to be ready for the day of the meet and beat your old time.

Swimming was something I poured my soul into!  I physically and mentally drained myself in this sport!  There were times that I thought I couldn't go any longer or give it anything more.  At those times, it was the help of my team and coach that got me to push past the limits.

In 2 Nephi 25:23 it says "...for we know that it is by grace that we are saved, after all we can do."  This life we are expected to do all that we can.   Give ourselves 110% to the Lord.  Obviously, we aren't perfect.  As much as we give, it will never be enough.  That is where the grace of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ comes in.  He is there with open arms to lift us up; He is there to help us push past the limits that we reach in this life to become much more.  To help us become "2perfect, even as [our] Father which is in heaven is perfect." 

What has helped you give your 110%?

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Awkward Turtle

This is probably the most overdue blog post in the history of overdueness.  But, the wait has been well worth it.  Trust me!


Boom!  That in and of itself could be my blog post.  Just that one word carries so much emotion and meaning to me.  Swimming isn't just a hobby, it is my life!  This sport changed me more than I could ever possibly try to explain, but I'm going to try to do just that here.

Once upon a time Sister Nestman was shy.  Not just shy, but mortified at the idea of talking to anyone I didn't know.  Which posed a major dilemma each time my family would move and I would have to make new friends.  Thank goodness there were some great outgoing people in my childhood, or I would have had no friends!  It took a lot for someone to get to know me and crack my shell.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Middletown Miracles

I despise the heat.  When the temperatures start going higher, I feel like I am getting lower.  Like I am melting and shrinking with every drop of sweat that falls off me.  It's just gross.  On Wednesday of this week I had the opportunity of going up to Middletown California for exchanges with Sister Cluff.  It was hot.  After being in Eureka for so long and then coming to Santa Rosa (which isn't too hot), Middletown felt like the Sahara Desert.

Aside from the unbearable heat, my time in Middletown was incredible.  Our mission president challenged each of the missionaries here in the California Santa Rosa Mission to go out tracting (knocking on doors) or street contacting (talking to people on the street) every day from 3:00-4:30.  During this time with Sister Cluff, we did exactly that.  We went out, hit the street, and knocked some doors.  What we found while knocking doors was miracles.One door specifically almost put the two of us into a coma.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

My Lack of Grace

Evil Pole of Doom
Things don't always go the way I plan them to.  In a perfect world they would.  But, the world isn't perfect and neither am I.  Yesterday my companion and I decided to go online here at the Santa Rosa Junior College.  We parked at the Institute building so we wouldn't have to pay for parking or worry about being towed (o.0).  As we started our walk over we met a girl who was going through the same little short cut as we were.  Kindly, she stepped aside to let my companion and I through.  Sister Kahrs went by first, then it was me.  Because I was too busy looking over at the girl, I didn't notice the pole sticking up about knee high (for a shorty like me) right in my pathway.

Other little scratches
I hit it and fell at about snail speed.  Slow motion movie at it's best!  It wasn't too painful.  Just a few scratches, and now bruises, on my arm, leg, foot, and pride.  Nothing a band aid and some missionary work can't fix!

My foot :(

Now, all of us fall short.  My status on Facebook yesterday was "sometimes I'm just not that graceful."  Fitting for yesterday's events right?  One of the comments stood out to me.  Elder Walter Hepworth said "Key word is sometimes. We all fall a bit short."  Too true!  In life, we all fall a bit short.  That's where our dear Savior comes into play.  He took upon himself all of our weaknesses and shortcomings so that we may rely on Him to help us where we lack.  I know He is there and ready to help us.  To not just put on a band aid but to make us whole again.

Thursday, September 8, 2011


How awesome is this?  I love it!  And, as you probably know, I want to tell you all about why it intrigues me.
It begins as an almost splurb of color (if Dr. Seuss can make up words, so can I).  From this splurb of color it slowly becomes this dazzling colorful horse.  Just what every little girl dreams of!

Now, the application to the gospel (the moment you've all been waiting for).

Each of us begins life as splurb at one time or another.  We are incomplete.  There is so much for us to become!  Right now, I think I'm kinda in the semi-formed horse head stage of these pictures.  Heavenly Father can see the end of the picture.  He knows what we are becoming.  I am so grateful that He does too!  Because He has this big picture, or the final vision of what we can become, in His view, He can help us on our way to it.

I know I have seen this happen in my life.  The Sister Nestman of today is far different than the one that entered the mission field over a year ago.  Heavenly Father has been shaping me; molding me into the person He needs me to be.  He can do that for everyone and anyone if you let Him.  Rely on Him.  Let Him change you into the wonderful creature He wants you to be (even if it is a brown and pink horse).

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Movin' on Up

You know those moments when you see something and just think "huh?"  Yes, my companion and I had such a moment yesterday.  Take a look.
This poor teddy bear was either trying to hide, hungry (like most bears are), sick, or someone was getting rid of him.  As my parents can attest, I loved stuffed animals as a kid.  They were better than anything else in the world!  Each one would have to travel with me from my bed to the couch each day.  Seeing this poor bear made the child inside me want to cry.  So why would someone get rid of the bear?

Yes, I have my theories.  One such theory, that I think is the winning theory (in my mind), is that the child has a better toy now.  Clearly this bear was taking up too much room and there was something even better that the child wanted more.  Something good, the bear, for something better.  And one day, that better item may be traded in for something that is best.

Elder Dallin H. Oaks said "We have to forego some good things in order to choose others that are better or best because they develop faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and strengthen our families."  We all may need to move up in life from good to best.  Why settle for good or alright when you can have best or supreme?!?!  Dump the old bear and make room for something amazing!

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Expressed in Photo's

<Phew!>  Packing and unloading is such work!  This weekend I had the sad yet happy news I was leaving Eureka to go down to Santa Rosa.  I have loved being in Eureka.  It is a part of who I am now.  Also, it was hard to hear the news that I would be leaving my companion.  But, it was the Lord's will.  On the happy side of things, Santa Rosa is a place I have wanted to serve for a while.  Right in the heart of our mission here in California.  Another exciting thing was to learn that my new companion would be Sister Kahrs.  She is someone that I have wanted to serve with for a while and I am finally getting to serve with her now. 

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Box Smashing Thoughts

adilsifosijfwlekfuojlhcjflmeoiwehroldilkcioejmlaehioahwofneiowiejwn!  That's how I feel sometimes.  Today, it's kinda been one of those days.  Last night my companion and I went to be excited.  We had the whole next day booked and it was going to be awesome.  But, things don't always go as planned....

After the alarm went off and I realized that my dream had been a dream, my cold hit me.  My head felt three times bigger than it actually was.  The day proceeded with not one, not two, but six cancelled appointments.  One right after another.  Luckily, my companion and I had some backup plans in store, but still.

At one point this morning, we found ourselves smashing boxes.  I gladly took this opportunity to smash out some of my frustrations and did some thinking amongst the destroying.

My thoughts were about some of life's great questions.  Why am I here?  What is my purpose?  Today, the questions was more direct: "what am I doing here, knocking on doors and having no one answer?  Why is it that no one can meet with us today?"  With each box being taken apart one by one, I realized something.  There are days where the Lord builds us up.  Step by step like the boxes.  Someone, at some point, wanted that cardboard as a box, and made it such.  But "1 sometimes the Lord brings us low, before He can lift us higher."

At one point or another, we all face challenges.  It is a part of life.  These challenges are meant to make us stronger.  To teach us something.  One thing that I have learned from today is to keep smiling, no matter what.  I know that as I have kept a smile on my face, I have noticed all the little blessings around me.  Even on a foggy Eureka day, there is beauty and wonder to behold.  Being sick has helped me to see how awesome it is to be healthy (still working on being grateful for this one....but it's coming).  Above all, it has reminded me of how truly wonderful good friends are (ie. my companion).

 Why do you think we are given bad days?  How have you overcome them?

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

I'm a Helper

I've said it once, and I'm gonna say it again and again: I LOVE SERVICE!!!

Nice hat right?  It is the official "blackberry picking" hat.  The other day my companion and I helped someone in the area pick some blackberries in her yard.  In all actuality, I think she helped us more than we helped her.  My stomach has never been happier!  Once the blackberries were picked, my companion and I reaped the reward of a wonderful blackberry cobbler (mmmmm).

Okay, I promise there is a good reason I am wearing the wig and water aerobics belt.  1) Before the mission I practically lived in a pool, so it was my way of "pretending" I was there.  2) It's a wig.  You're supposed to wear them on your head.  What other option was there really?  These two items were found while cleaning out a members home.  We were moving boxes around and helping to organize things a bit.  My muscles got a good workout with all the lifting.

Now this service, is what it's all about.  This is a woman we have been teaching and sharing the gospel with.  We, as missionaries, get to go out and share the message of the gospel with others.  No matter who you are, where you're from, or what you've done in your life, the Gospel and it's teachings will bless you.  What I've noticed as I have been doing this, not only are others blessed, but I have been blessed.  This has been the general theme for all the service that I have rendered on my mission.

"1And behold, I tell you these things that ye may learn wisdom; that ye may learn that when ye are in the service of your fellow beings ye are only in the service of your God."

I know that as we serve others, God blesses us.  We are helping His children, our brothers and sisters.  Not only is this what He expects of us, but it is how we draw nearer to Him. 
What have you done to help someone this week?

Saturday, August 20, 2011

One of the 7

You know, sometimes people just don't take a hint.  They do the same thing over and over again and never learn.  Albert Einstein defines stupidity as "doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results."  (A little forewarning, the next statement I am about to make may sound a bit strange and insane coming from a missionary, but it will make sense by the end.)  As I have been reading the Book of Mormon again, it has been made blatantly clear that the Nephites just didn't get it.

The Nephites fall into the same cycle over and over again.  Pride.

"1Behold, the pride of this nation, or the people of the Nephites, hath proven their destruction..."  By the end of the Book of Mormon, we see the complete destruction of the Nephite people, save it be the lone Prophet Moroni.  Their destruction was because of their pride.  All through the Bible and the Book of Mormon we can see a standard cycle: the people are obedient to the Lord; the Lord blesses them; the people begin to be prideful; they start to forget the Lord; wickedness sinks into their hearts; and then, it's time for a little humbling.

"2And if men come unto me I will show unto them their weakness. I give unto men weakness that they may be humble; and my grace is sufficient for all men that humble themselves before me; for if they humble themselves before me, and have faith in me, then will I make weak things become strong unto them."

We all need a little humbling from time to time.  Humility is a Christlike attribute.  Something each of us need to strive to attain.  Sadly the Nephites, and each of us, kinda forgot this.  We do this little dance/circle over and over and over again.  Obedience, blessings, pride, smack-down time by the Lord.  Ideally, all of us would just be humble all the time.  But, none of us are perfect (yet). 

Recently, I too was like the Nephites.  I needed some humbling.  As you may have noticed, my blog seems somewhat bare and picture free.  Well, in an effort to be more obedient to the Lord and all His commandments, I have gone through and deleted any and all pictures that were not taken by myself or someone I have permission to have them from.  At first, I was heartbroken that I had to get rid of all these pictures.  But the more I thought about it, the more I realized how prideful I was being.  So what if my blog would look a little plainer.  It's not the pictures that make or break the message I am here to deliver.  I was called to invite others to come unto Christ by helping them receive the restored Gospel through faith in Jesus Christ and His atonement, repentance, baptism, receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost, and enduring to the end.  That is my purpose.  It's not to have the "prettiest" blog.

So here I stand (or sit I suppose), having been sufficiently humbled by the Lord.  Will it stop here?  Goodness no!  But I look forward to the humbling and the chance to draw ever nearer to my Savior and our loving Father in Heaven.

Friday, August 19, 2011

What Lies Ahead

Sometimes I wish I could just shut of my brain.  Turn it to "sleep mode" like so many of our electronic devices and not have to worry about a thing for a time.  But, much to my dismay, I haven't discovered how to do that yet.  A couple nights ago I was stuck lying awake with my brain spinning in about a hundred different directions.  The source of the chaos, a lovely little letter in the mail which contained this....

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

What Smells?

At the end of the day, there's nothing like going home and feeling like you have given it your all.  However, this can be ruined if you go home to a home smelling like skunk.

Gross right?!  That's how we felt.  Whether you were inside the home, ten feet in front of it, or holding your breath, you couldn't miss the stench this skunk left behind.  We instantly searched for a Lysol can or air spray of some sort, but our search was in vain.  There was no magical air freshener.  As you can imagine, getting to sleep was a little harder than usual....

While I was lying there in bed thinking (and hoping the smell would go away), I thought about judgement day.  When we are there standing before our Father in Heaven to be judged, what will it be like?  What will He say to me?  Will I be ready?  What if I'm not?  Deep thoughts for someone living in a gully that smells of skunk.  But, the skunk smell was key to these thoughts.

The more I thought about it the more I thought how each of our sins ups the stench we place upon ourselves.  The scriptures teach us that "1no unclean thing can inherit the kingdom of heaven; therefore, how can ye be saved, except ye inherit the kingdom of heaven? Therefore, ye cannot be saved in your sins."  But, I'm not clean.  I'm imperfect.  How can I be clean and ready to face my creator?  That my dear friends, is what repentance is for.

Repentance gives us that ray of light.  The promise of a brighter tomorrow.  We are able to turn away from our sins, imperfections, flaws, and shortcomings and be made whole.  The stench of sin can be wiped clean!  Clean slate ready and prepared to meet our loving, kind, all powerful, and ever merciful, Father in Heaven.  I know this is true.  I have felt the relief and peace that comes from repentance.  Try it.  Not that I'm sayin' that anyone out there smells like a skunk, but we can all become a little better.

How have you changed for the better?

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Headless Chicken Before Peace

Ever have those days where you feel like a chicken running around with it's head chopped off?  That's how the last two days have felt.  They've been crazy!  Though, in retrospect, most of the week has been.  Sometimes I wonder why we have weeks like this.  Weeks that make you want to pull all your hair out and scream at the sky "WHY?!?!?!?!"  And yes, I've had those moments and no, they aren't pretty.

Though these moments come and go, there is a solution.  In Matthew, Christ tells us to “1Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.”  Ahhhh, can you feel a sense of relief already?  Well, if you are starting to rely on the Savior you sure will!  He promises to help us through any trial, affliction, pain, struggle, or any ole crazy-insane week. 

What I have learned about these trials and seemingly crazy times, the storm blows over and the seas are calm afterwards.  Not only are they calm, but there is beauty that comes forth. 

After the crazy week, there was the beauty of another child of God entering into the fold.  Watching someone enter the waters of baptism is one of the most humbling, beautiful, magnificent, happiest times of my life.  I just can't get enough of them!

So, for those who are facing a trial right now or just a crummy week, there is a light at the end of the tunnel.  Endure it well, rely on the Savior, and be ready for the peace and comfort after the storm. 

Thursday, August 11, 2011

It's Official

It has happened.  As of Tuesday August 9th, 2011 I am a true Northern Californian.

I have now been inside a redwood tree...

And hugged one.  That makes it all official, right?

Hugging a tree and being inside of one may get me into the Nor Cal click, but it isn't how we join the family of God.  That is done through baptism.  When we are baptized, one of the promises we make is to take upon us the name of Jesus Christ.  This makes us a part of His family.  Someone once explained it as though we were literally adding His name to ours, such as: Brittany Nestman Christ.  Whoa right?

So, I have been baptized.  I realize some of the readers of this blog may not be (if you're interested in being baptized, let me know!), but you too can think about the questions I am about to ask.  Questions that I like to ask myself and have others think about are: "what have I done with His name?"  "Have I done all I could for Him?"  "Do others see the Savior's image in my countenance?"  "Would Christ be proud of how I represented Him?"  If you really want to dig deep into yourself with questions, read Alma 5 (in the Book of Mormon).  It will make you think.

The question I want to get some feedback on today is this: if you were to add the name "Christ" to the end of your name, how would that affect your decisions each day?

Monday, August 8, 2011

My Morning Smile

Every Monday, in the Santa Rosa Mission, we have what's called Pday (or preparation day).  We are to do our cleaning, shopping, letter writing, emailing, and laundry all on this day.  This particular morning, Sister Orrock and I went next door to use the washing machine, as we usually do, and discovered something a tad out of the ordinary. 

Not the everyday sight right?  The two kids popped up and said "you're ruining it!"  Of course, we had no idea what we were ruining at the time.  But, these two aren't afraid to fill you in.  Apparently they had discovered a mouse under the sink.  I didn't check the validity of this claim, but they seemed to have everything ready.  They set up a trap to catch the alleged mouse. 

It began under the sink.  A trail of rice crispies was carefully placed from the sink over to the handy dandy empty peanut butter jar. 

Once inside the jar, the lid would be put on and the mouse would be caught!  Victory = Children! But, there was one tiny little problem, one of the members of the extermination crew had a major lack of focus.  Each time he saw us he would get up and say "hey, I I I wanna show you someting!" 

As one would guess, the sister became frustrated and unhappy about the lack of focus her brother had.  I chuckled about the whole scene for a while before it dawned on me, I bet Heavenly Father feels the same way about me!  He has this great plan that leads to eternal happiness, but I get distracted.  Things that I think, at the time, are better than His plan.  Foolish right?  Silly as it may seem, it's true.  We are all human!  We don't see the whole picture, only Heavenly Father does.

Thank goodness Heavenly Father is patient, loving, and unchanging.  This sister didn't give up on her brother.  She kept reminding him of their plan and what they had to do for it to work.  Though we may veer from God's plan at times, He is always there to help us get back on track.  He helps us regain focus and see the joyous outcome of sticking to His plan, which is eternal life. 

How has Heavenly Father helped keep you focused amongst all the distractions in life?

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Superawesomefantastic Day!

Yesterday was an awesome day.  Today, via pictures, I wanted to share with you why it was such a great day.  Who doesn't like to hear about good days?  I know I do!  So, I am going to be a little prideful and tell you all about my incredible day!

Saturday, August 6th began bright and early.  No, I don't have a picture of me waking up (that's on a previous post).  We woke up extra early because it was our temple trip day.  One of the cool things about serving in Eureka is that we get to go to the Medford Oregon temple.  The not-so-cool thing, it's a four hour drive. 

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Mario Kart: the Single Green Shell

 Wouldn't you know it, the next item from the question box is the single green shell (oh boy oh boy!).  This creative little weapon can either be fired forward or backward, depending on where your foe lies.  Also, much like the single banana peel we talked of previously, it can be held behind you for protection.  When fired, the green shell travels in a straight path.  It can bounce off walls and will ricochet back in another straight path (so if you are a pro at geometry, you know how to work this item).  When this item hits an opponent, kart and driver go a-tumblin'.  

 The Single Green Shell is comparable to having a happy demeanor (promise, this will make sense momentarily).  Satan's big goal in his terrible little existence is "1 ...that all men might be miserable like unto himself."  Lame right?  But, we can make his kart go tumbling.  Through our trials, it becomes easy to be depressed, sad, angry, or hurt.  It's during these times that a happy little primary song jumps into my head.  It's called "I Can Be Happy" (with actions, it is even better!).

If you chance to meet a frown,
Do not let it stay.
Quickly turn it upside down
And smile that frown away.

No one likes a frowning face.
Change it for a smile.
Make the world a better place
By smiling all the while.

"Don't get mad, get glad!"  When we are given a trial, the best thing we can do is be optimistic and endure it well.  Fire into it with a good attitude and come out with just as much enthusiasm as before; like the green shells, they hit a wall and come back off straight as an arrow.  Do you know how frustrated Satan gets when we are happy through our trials?  Honestly, he is TICKED!  I remember the first time I heard someone say they were grateful for their trials.  I thought "what?!?!  Seriously?"  I got a little annoyed and thought "whatever, that's a lie."  I have since seen the wisdom in that statement, but think of how Satan must feel.  Take my silly confused thoughts and amplify them tenfold.

Try to have a happy demeanor about you all the time.  Through good and bad.  Bounce in and out of your trials with a smile on your face, it will be the best way of kicking Satan right in the face (so to speak).

Friday, July 29, 2011

Mario Kart: the Single Banana Peel

After the "Avatar" series, I was a bit stumped as to where to go from there.  But the nerd in me found another gospel tie within a game that has forever changed my life.  Mario Kart!  No matter which version, which system, or the size of the screen, I love love love Nintendo's Mario Kart!  As I discussed this blog idea with a fellow missionary, we both came to the agreement that the best version of Mario Kart is Mario Kart 64.  The first introduction to four player Mario racing and an increase of items to use against your foe, making it epic!

This series is dedicated to the items.  What are they used for?  What is the spiritual connection for each of them?  So, to kick this off, we will talk about the single banana peel.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Avatar: Energybending

 Against all odds, there is another "Avatar" post.  Originally I had planned on sticking to the four general bending arts, but I have had a few requests (or demands) that Energybending have it's place as well.  So, here we are!  Energybending!

Long before Firebending, Aribending, Waterbending, or Earthbending, any of the four nations or the Avatar, there was Energybending.  Energybending is the ability to bend life energy.  People would bend the energy within themselves.  By bending a person's life energy one can give knowledge instantly or remove one's bending completely.  It is a very dangerous art.

To bend another's life energy, your own spirit must be un-bendable.  If there is any sign of weakness  in one's spirit (or bendability), they risk being infected by the spirit of the one they are bending and can be corrupted and or even killed.  
"The true mind can weather all the lies and illusions without being lost. The true heart can touch the poison of hatred without being harmed. Since beginning-less time, darkness thrives in the void, but always yields to purifying light". (The Lion-Turtle)
Energybending can come with a cost.  But those who have a strong spirit can master it.  In the series, there are only two known users of this art: Aang and the Lion Turtle.  Aang (the Avatar) is faced with a giant moral dilema at the end of the "Avatar" series;  he can either kill the evil Fire Lord Ozai (which is what the Avatars of the past guide him to do), or follow his heart and let him live.  Ozai is the epitome of evil and one of the greatest Firebenders ever (if not the best).  To let him live would allow him to strike back again one day, but killing him would go against everything Aang stands for.
So, what does he do?  Aang realizes that the only way for there to be peace and still have Ozai live is for him to Energybend Ozai, taking away his Firebending.  Aang had the spiritual strength needed for the task.

Aang was prepared.  He studied, pondered, and worked hard.  He also stayed true to his beliefs.  I realize that this may sound repetitious, but it's the little things that matter.  To build up our spirits, we must study, ponder, pray, and work!  We are at war with Satan.  He is strong, but we are stronger.  We will win!  To win, our spirits must be strong.  Satan is constantly working at our spirits.  He tries to weaken us, corrupt us, and destroy us spiritually.  By doing these seemingly small things, we will stand victorious.  So, read your scriptures.  Study them.  Go to church.  Pray.  Serve others.  Obey the commandments.

Be a master Energybender!  Have a true heart, true mind, and solid spirit.  No weakness.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Avatar: Waterbending

 It's here!  The final chapter of the Avatar: the Last Airbender Series!  And yes, I had to end with Waterbending.  It's my favorite.

Waterbending is the ability to manipulate water in all it's many forms.  From regular old H2O to plants, clouds, sweat (kinda gross), mud, blood (disturbing and sinister), and basically any liquid you could imagine.  Waterbending can also manipulate external thermal energy and can be used to heal.  The ability is very dependant on the amount of water available, thus many Waterbenders cary water for bending with them on long journeys.

Water is the element of change.  Their fighting style being very flowing and graceful to mirror that of water's movements.  It features slow movements and elegant forms.  They deal with the flow of energy by letting their defense become their offense.  It's defense into powerful attacks and counters.  They do this by turning their opponenets' own forces against them.  That is where it's strength lies.  Instead of just stopping the attack or deflecting it, Waterbenders defensive moves focus on control.  The slow movements, elegant turns, and spins return the momentum of the opponent's attacks with blasts of water.  Waterbenders wait and then turn their target's attacks against them.

Internal life energy chi is what gives a Waterbender their power, connecting it to their emotional state.  This can be a problem if a beginning Waterbender loses their temper.  The bending is intensified, but control is lost.  Ergo, gaining a balance over ones emotions is essential.

Okay, not only is this the coolest style (seriously, my mind is made up), but I love the whole basis of it.  Defense into a powerful offense.  Turning the enemies attacks against themselves.  Not only is that "so totally WICKED!", but it's how I like to look at life.

Satan, the bugger, loves to throw us all sorts of attacks.  He never stops and it never ceases to amaze me at how many tricks he has up his sleeve.  One smart cookie.  But, we can turn his attacks against him.
1"And if thou shouldst be cast into the pit, or into the hands of murderers, and the sentence of death passed upon thee; if thou be cast into the deep; if the billowing surge conspire against thee; if fierce winds become thine enemy; if the heavens gather blackness, and all the elements combine to hedge up the way; and above all, if the very jaws of hell shall gape open the mouth wide after thee, know thou, my son, that all these things shall give thee experience, and shall be for thy good."
 2  "And then, if thou endure it well, God shall exalt thee on high; thou shalt triumph over all thy foes."
Whoa ho ho!  Read it again, just to fully grasp the concept (and pure awesomeness of the verses).  All of the trials, sorrows, and everything we face can be for our benefit.  We will beat all our "foe."  Satan's attacks and efforts can be converted into means of strengthening ourselves.  Making his attacks, in a sense, our own.  For example, Satan may tell you not to worry about reading your scriptures.  You don't have to do that every day.  But, as he tells you that, you can turn it into a push to read them.  And, as we all know, reading your scriptures builds up your spiritual strength and helps you fight temptation.

Let us all learn to take the attacks of Satan and use them for our benefit.  Don't let him win the battle.  Keep up your defenses and use his attacks.  We can, and will, triumph!  Be a Waterbender!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Avatar: Earthbending

 Due to recent chaos regarding transfers, this post has taken me longer than previously foreseen.  But, here it is!  Earthbending!

Earthbending is the ability to manipulate earth and rock in whatever form they may be in (even metal! (but only my favorite character Toph can do that)).  Being the element of substance, Earthbenders are very diverse, enduring, persistent, and strong.  The fighting style features rooted stances, strong kicks, and strong punches that bring out the mass power of earth.  As opposed to the other bending arts, Earthbenders maintain a distinct balance between their offense and defense.  This balance of strength and defense is used to overwhelm the opponents.

 A good Earthbender masters what is called "neutral jing."  Neutral jing involves listening, waiting, and attacking when the moment is right.  Thus they endure the enemies attacks until the right moment comes to strike.  Being able to predict the opponents next move is part of the "listening and waiting".  A good Earthbender must also be decisive.  There can be no hesitation or uncertainty when that moment of attack comes.  They must also be determined.  If there is no determination, the earth won't move.

There are a lot of qualities mentioned there that are desirable: determined, decisive, listens, waits, moves when the moments right, enduring, strong, and balanced.  Where to begin!  One that jumps out at me, because it's the one I lack, is decisiveness.  This lack of decisiveness is very apparent every day at about noon, as I stare at the fridge and cupboards deciding what to eat for lunch (my poor companions).  But the one I want to delve into further today is enduring.

What is enduring?  It is lasting, continuing, durable.  In a gospel context it is "1remaining firm in a commitment to be true to the commandments of God despite temptation, opposition, and adversity."  As a missionary, we teach others what it means to "endure" all the time!  It's not easy to endure.  Satan is constantly throwing attacks at us.  He wants us to falter; to slip; to fail.  But, just as the Earthbenders, we can endure the attacks and strike when our time is right.  We can listen to the Holy Ghost and be prepared for the attacks.  (It's coming, are you ready?)  So, be like an Earthbender!  Learn to endure the hard times and come out of the battle on top!

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Avatar: Firebending

Next up is Firebending!  (By special request of Elder Trey Williams.The bending style of Fire Nation. 

Firbending is the ability to control and create fire.  No reliance on outside sources of their element to bend, they can create fire using their internal heat source.  But, they can also control flames already existing.  Fire is the element of power; firebending represents energy and life.  This style is very intense, quick, and the most aggressive of all the bending arts.  Simple, direct, and powerful.

To be a successful Firbender, one must have self-restraint (or self-control), breath control, and "inner-fire" (inner-drive).  Firebending isn't merely a matter of directing the element, more controlling the element.  When mastered, this style is not only powerful, but beautiful, comforting, and creative.

What I love love love is the "inner-fire" that a Firbender has to have.  Without that inner-drive they become weak.  There are sooo many times where I find myself leaving things half done or just not done as well as they could be simply because I had no drive to do it.  On the flip side of things, when my "inner-fire" is a-glowin', you can't stop me.  I will do whatever it takes to get the job done or to become the best.

Each of us has great potential.  It's the truth.  Our potential is infinite.  Heavenly Father has given us the chance to become like Him.  Seriously!  How incredible is that?!  But, we have to have the drive to get there.  We need the drive to be obedient to God's commandments.  Drive to learn more about His church.  Drive to be Christlike people.  In essence, we need "inner-fire" to ever even dream of becoming more than what we currently are.  So, become like a Firebender.  Dig deep and build up that "inner-fire!"

Monday, July 11, 2011

Avatar: Airbending

This post has been in the making for some time now.  I love the TV show "Avatar: The Last Airbender."  One of the best cartoon shows that has come out in a LONG time.  The show features "bending", which is the ability to manipulate an element.  Each element has it's respective nation in the "Avatar world" and bending art.  The four elemental Bending Arts are based on the four elements: water, earth, fire and air. Each are manipulated through certain martial art styles which resemble that of the element.  (Hope you're following me thus far.)
Today, I would like to talk about airbending.

Airbending is, obviously, the manipulation of air.  It is a unique style of bending.  There's no limitations as to environmental factors (air is everywhere) and they use their own momentum as the weapon.  Airbenders are fast, agile, and able to deflect or negate opponents attacks.  This style is actually more of a defensive style with lots of circular movements.  The Air Nomads set themselves apart from the world, focusing on spirituality and peace.

Though their numbers were always less than that of the other nations, everyone in the Air nation was able to bend because they kept themselves apart from the worldly problems.  Let me repeat the last part again, but amended a tad: they kept themselves apart from the world.

We weren't sent to earth for riches, fame, or honor.  We are here to "...1prepare to meet God: yea, behold the day of this life is the day for men to perform their labors."  Continually we are told to be "in the world, but not of the world."  For me, the Airbenders understood this concept.

They focused on peace and freedom.  What would it be like to have a world of Airbenders? (aside from the bending, which would be pretty sweet!)  For one thing, we would all be that much more spiritual.  The world would be united in seeking the kingdom of God (2).  Obviously we still wouldn't be perfect, but striving to be perfect would be a whole lot easier!

Maybe it's because I have been up in Northern California for a while, but peace and love should be everywhere!  As Uncle Iroh says "protection and power are overrated. I think you are very wise to choose happiness and love."  Find that inner Airbender.  Set yourself apart from the teachings of the world and build up that spirituality!  As you do so, you will find more peace and you will be happier.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

No More Slugs!

If you are at all disturbed by bugs or slimy type things, I advize you to read another post.  Actually... you should probably still read this one.  Just don't look at the pictures.

Woodland doesn't seem like that long ago, but I guess it was.  One of the awesome things about serving in Woodland (out of the thousands) was the house we lived in.  Yes, we had a house.  All to ourselves.  It was quaint and had all sorts of fun little what-nots around every turn.  Let's just say, when I first got there, all I could think was "NO WAY?!?!"  It seemed just perfect, up until the day our little "friend" came to visit.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

The Last Crossing

All of us have heard at least something about the Mormon pioneers crossing the plains.  It was a long and treacherous journey.  Many didn't even make it the whole way.  Back in high school I had the opportunity to go on two pioneer reenactment's (commonly known as a Pioneer Trek or just Trek).  We wore the clothes, pulled hand carts, played the games, and read many of the experiences from the actual pioneers.  In short, it was a very fun and humbling experience.

A few weeks ago, two of my younger brothers were able to go on a Pioneer Trek of their own.  From what my mom and dad said in their emails, my brothers loved it!  One of the things they did on their trek was write a poem about their experience.  My mother (the stellar woman that she is) mailed me a copy of my brother Josh's poem.

When I read it, I was amazed!  Maybe it's because he is my brother and I'm a doting older sister, but it really is amazing.  So, here it is.

The Last Crossing
by Joshua Nestman

The sun is beating down with a vigorous zeal,
Attacking the hats that are protecting it's meal.
The sun's fiery breath is filled with hate,

My Bro's!  Joshua (left) Jordan (right)
Giving the saint's a taste of hell's iron-gate.
But when heat turns to cold and ice turns to snow,
The saints start to wonder how far they can go.
Before they collapse from the strength that they lack,
As snow drifts pile up as ice on their back.
An ice filled stream appears in our way,
I can't help but feel that death is at bay.
Waiting to claim us in his cold grasp,
"How can we do this?" to no one I ask.
But I straighten up and I stand tall,
I promise to keep going even if I fall.
I forge across the river leading the others,
Strangers at first but now we are brothers.
I make the bank as I look back pausing,
I see some members who can't make the crossing.
Back and forth I walk and wade,
Helping all those who are in need of aid.
My body is frozen, my hands are shaking,
I can't even feel my legs as they're quaking.
It's done; they're across, I sigh in relief.
I step on the bank and I collapse in a heap.
As I lay cold and dying in the snow-covered sand,
I feel a scarred palm take up my hand.
As my Savior pulls me to my feet,
He says "Life's a journey and yours is complete."

I hope this touches you as much as it touched me.  The more I reflect upon these words, the more I desire to give my all to the Savior.  I love my Savior.  One day, I want to have Him tell me: "Welcome home dear daughter.  You've served me well."

Thank you Joshua for the inspiration you have given me and hopefully many others.  Love you!
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