Saturday, June 27, 2009

Visiting Zac's Nephew, Patrick

We drove to Denver on the 25th of June. There was a severe storm warning at the time that we crossed the pass at Vail. The rain was so intense and Zac was the one driving. His mom was in the back seat of the Honda and panicking all the way. She is afraid of that type of driving, well even on a dry road in a canyon. And we had dim light, rain, sharp curves, rapidly changing elevation, pain in the ears and crazy drivers around us.

So when we arrived at Brittanies, we were all glad to be still for a while.

We were happy to be with Brittanie, Matt and Erin. We were so glad to meet little Patrick.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

A short post

Zac and I went to do a stake sealing assignment at the Temple. While there we met several people who asked Zac about his mission call. They ooh-ed and ah-ed at the exotic place he was assigned to. And some one brought up the bit about chewing gum being illegal and those who broke that law were caned!

When we were just leaving, one elderly sister put a piece of chewing gum into his hand and said "Here, elder, one last stick of gum before you go!"

It was so funny and so cute at the same time.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Setting Zac Apart

Zac was set apart to be a missionary of the Lord, Jesus Christ, today by Stake President Bywater.

Here are a few of the highlights of the blessing:

Love the people as children of God, Don't let differences like race, language or religion keep you from showing the love of the lord for his children.

As long as you are on the errand of the lord, he will protect you in your travels be they in the air, over the water or on the land.

Obey mission rules and look to your mission president, your zone and district leaders and trainers, who are over you to lead you, for guidance.

You will be blessed with the gift of tongues, learn the language of the people, but especially learn the language of the gospel.

Be unified with your companions. There will be personality differences, but unity will bring the spirit and it is the spirit that converts.

Your parents and family will be blessed through your efforts, both spiritually and temporally. Remember them as you do the Lord's work. They will be supported in their efforts to sustain you on your mission.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Zac's Farewell Address

Zac had his Farewell Address today. You can see it behind the book under
his thumb.

He worried and stressed over it for a week and a half. But Brother Gomez
was released from the Bishopric and Brother Andy Anderson was put in so
it took all the spare time. Zac actually cut his talk down a bit. He spoke
for 10 whole minutes! It was a pleasant experience, being Fathers' day and all.

Jake, Amanda and Abby came. She colored on paper beside me for most of the
talk. I appreciated what Zac said and I think you will too.

Welcome brothers and sisters. It is my pleasure to speak to you today.
Firstly, in regards to this beautiful day, I would like to wish all
the fathers an enjoyable Father's Day. To my own father, I love you.
Thank you for your example to me, in teaching me, and helping to
strengthen me in the gospel. Thanks especially for guiding me as I
have been preparing to serve a mission.

As I strive to be an example like my father has been an example to me,
I hope not only that my example will show others what I believe, but
also that we will all take the time to understand the effect that our
examples have on others. President N. Eldon Tanner said, “Nothing will
bring greater joy and success than to live according to the teachings
of the gospel. Be an example; be an influence for good. …
“Every one of us has been foreordained for some work as [God’s] chosen
servant... Always remember that people are looking to you for
leadership and you are influencing the lives of individuals either for
good or for bad, which influence will be felt for generations to

President Tanner understood, as should we all, that providing a good
example for those around us is not just a suggestion from our father
in Heaven. Matthew 5:14 reads, “Ye are the light of the world. A city
that is set on an hill cannot be hid. Neither do men light a candle,
and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light
unto all that are in the house. Let your light so shine before men,
that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in
heaven.” While I didn't understand this scripture fully when I was in
seminary, I understand now that we are to live our lives in such a way
that others, by our example, will be invited to come unto Christ. The
beautiful thing about the Gospel is that its purpose isn't selfish.
Every facet of it is intended to unite us, to strengthen those who are
less fortunate than we are, and to build up Zion.

When it comes to leading by example, there are none greater than Jesus
Christ. While not everyone has had the opportunity to have a father
here on earth to lead them by example, everyone has a loving Father in
Heaven, and the perfect example of their Savior to lead them. From the
earliest accounts of Christ's life, we see that He never let an
opportunity slip by without taking the time to teach others. Even at
the young age of 12, He was already about His Father's work. After
days of Him being lost, His parents found him in the temple, teaching
men much older and educated than He was. At times I feel like a task
is daunting and beyond my abilities, and thinking about teaching
educated men even at my age is terrifying. But Christ didn't
accomplish this feat because He is better than us. He accomplished it
because he knew his purpose and that He had the help of His Father to
guide him. Christ's example shows that we can accomplish great things.
If Christ can, as a boy, teach men, then surely we can accomplish
something as simple as doing our home teaching or paying tithing, or
even anything that is asked or us.

While all of Christ's actions are exemplary, there is none so
significant as the fulfilling of the Atonement. The act of the
atonement is one that none of us could ever do for ourselves, but the
principle behind it shows how we should live our lives. Christ knew
the task would be daunting, and even asked if there were another way.
In the end, He was willing to submit to the Father's will, no matter
the cost. He selflessly endured pain and eventually succumbed to death
for the benefit of us all. I pray that when any of our brothers or
sisters asks us for help, we think of the selfless help Christ gave to
us, and freely help those in need. We all have the power and ability
to help, if even in the smallest of ways. Selfless acts of love and
kindness work towards the benefit of us all.

Of course, we don't need to be asked in order to help others. Just
living a life according to the Gospel builds others up and can
strengthen a testimony. About a week ago my grandma sent me a book
entitled “We'll Bring the World His Truth” for a bit of light
missionary related reading before I embark. In it, I found a really
inspiring story of the unknown influence a good example can have.

The story centers on a man whom Elder C. M. Nielson had met. As a
young boy, he witnessed a murder trial. The prosecutor was one Oliver
Cowdery, one of the witnesses to the truth of the Book of Mormon.
The story isn't clear on whether the man was baptized or not, but the
testimony of Oliver Cowdery obviously had a tremendous effect on the
man. This shows the power our examples can have on others, even when
we aren't sure who is watching. Even when we don't see results from
our actions for ourselves, we can know within ourselves that by living
an exemplary life, we are helping others and obeying the commandments.

My personal life has been filled with many people who have helped to
build me up through their examples. For as long as I can remember, I
knew that my dad had served a mission. Of course since he's my dad,
I've striven to be like him from a young age. Seeing his example of
missionary work has really helped me to make the decision to serve a
mission. As I have been preparing for my mission, he and I have talked
quite frequently about gospel topics. Even though most of my questions
relating to the gospel come up when we're on the way to bed, he always
takes the time to hear me out and give me advice. He almost always has
a story from his mission to exemplify the topic, and to show how to
act in certain situations. Because of his example, I have a standard
to hold myself to while I am out in the field.

While my sister Nyssa never served a mission, I still have her to look
up to for an example of missionary work. During our last year of high
school, she started dating a guy that I had met before, but didn't
like very much. It surprised me a few weeks after they started dating
to learn that he agreed to come to church. While I hadn't been a very
good example for him, my sister acted every way a latter day saint
should act: she was kind, patient, and reverent. I was able to sit in
on the missionary discussions that he took, and eventually was able to
attend his baptism. He and I became better friends, and both got
mission calls. I was able to look to his example as well for how
excited he was to serve the Lord. Now, he's been in the MTC for 6
weeks, and I am still surprised at how much I can see he has grown
when I read his letters. I hope not only to see him when I get to the
MTC, but also to lose myself in the work like he has.

My oldest brother, Jared, also has been an example to me for
missionary work. He served his mission in California, and was the
first missionary I had seen leave for a mission. When he got home, he
had lots of missionary related material, and he left me a book for
when I went on my mission. It is called “The Missionary's Little Book
of Inspirational Stories.” I haven't opened it nearly as much as I
should have, but every time I do, I seem to come across a great story
called “The Forty Wrestlers” that I would like to read for you.
Like these wrestlers, I hope that we all can remain steadfast in our
convictions, beliefs, and morals and never sway no matter the danger.

Unfortunately for us all, not every example that leaves an impression
on people is a good example. As President Tanner said, “[we] are
influencing the lives of individuals either for good or for bad.” It
is crucially important that we watch how we treat others and that we
follow the commandments so as to help others come unto Christ. When I
was in high school, I attended morning seminary. Almost every day
after seminary, a group of LDS kids would sit in the parking lot
exhibiting behavior unbecoming of a saint. These kids were well known,
and it was also known that they were LDS. At times, when I would talk
to others about the Gospel at school, they would be uninterested in
what I had to say because of the examples they had seen.

The Book of Mormon also recounts instances where bad examples led some
to reject Christ. In the book of Alma, Alma the younger and his sons
worked as missionaries to the Zoramite people. During the course of
their work, one of Alma's sons, Corianton, forsook his ministry and
committed some pretty serious sins that were known among the people.
Because of which sin, his father remarked in Alma 39: 11, “Suffer not
yourself to be led away by any vain or foolish thing; suffer not the
devil to lead away your heart again after those wicked harlots.
Behold, O my son, how great iniquity ye brought upon the Zoramites;
for when they saw your conduct they would not believe in my words.
And now the Spirit of the Lord doth say unto me: Command thy
children to do good, lest they lead away the hearts of many people to
destruction; therefore I command you, my son, in the fear of God, that
ye refrain from your iniquities.”

Brothers and sisters, our actions have consequences. I pray that we
will always be mindful of our actions and live by a good example. I
know that as we do so, we will build up Zion and bring others unto
Christ. I testify of these things in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Zac goes to the Temple

I know, I know. Two posts in one hour! Well I wanted to post the pictures from when Zac went to the temple in preparation for his mission. It was a very spiritual experience. He wanted to go through with his friend, Richard Haun. And it took quite a bit of finagling of schedules to get Richard, Richard's bishop, Zac, his mom and me all together before Richard went to the MTC.

1. The Las Vegas, Nevada Temple on May 6th, 2009.

2. Richard Haun and Zac in the little fountain lobby.

3. Me, Nyssa, Zac and Jan.

Zac gets his call

OK, this took place on March 19, 2009, but I think it's a great place to start our family's blog of Zac's mission. He's not gone yet, but I figured we'd start with him receiving his call. It took three weeks to get it after he sent the papers in. I took three pix of him as he opened it. I think you'll like seeing them. We'll post every time we hear from him and you can comment if you wish. This will probably be the best way to keep all of you informed of his actions.

The first one is called "How cool is this? I got my call, see?"

The second one is called "So, what did the prophet say?"

And the third one is called "So where the Heck's Singapore?"