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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).
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