Monday, December 27, 2010

Called to Serve

In case you don't already know, I'm a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, also known as the Mormons. Each Sunday, I'm going to discuss some things related to my faith and what I believe. Regardless of your own beliefs, I hope this gives you a chance to get to know me and my religion a little better.

I have been spending the last week with my wonderful family. I don't know what I'd do if I couldn't be with them for Christmas! It's just not truly the holiday without them.

However, I have been missing my sister this week.  As I've mentioned, she is currently serving a mission for our church in the Texas Houston East Mission.  You can read more about her adventures on her blog (which I update for her).

What is a mission?

The Lord has declared that missionary work is the responsibility of all who follow Him. Members of the Lord's Church can, by the goodness of their lives and the strength of their testimonies, share the gospel message and help prepare family members, friends, and other acquaintances who are not Latter-day Saints to be taught by the full-time missionaries

There are a few different ways to do missionary work.

One is a proselyting mission, which is what my sister is doing. Young single men and women are called for 18 months (women) or 24 months (men) with the primary goal of sharing and preaching the gospel to those who want to learn more.  These young men and women do not get to choose where they go, but are assigned missions based where the Lord and church leadership feels they should go. They are aided by members in their areas who are introducing friends to the gospel, or they may find people to teach through knocking on doors or contacting people on the street. They are the nice young people in white shirts and ties (or nice dresses) you'll see going about two by two with nametags on.  Since their primary goal is to serve the Lord and the people in their missions, they follow strict rules, like only listening to Church appropriate music and only calling their families on Mother's Day and Christmas (it was a precious 30 minutes for us on Saturday).  They are expected to write home once a week, and it's always a highlight of my Monday!

Another option is a mission for a senior couple who have retired and are able to leave their family and home obligations for 18-24 months.  They are also called wherever the Lord and church leadership sees fit.  They usually are called to fulfill service opportunities, like serving in the temple, as my grandparents did in London a few years ago, or Family History Centers, or otherwise supporting local church leadership in a different country, as my mom's cousin and his wife are doing in New Zealand right now.

There are other service missions, either served by senior single sisters or young people who are unable to serve a full-time mission for medical reasons.  These are often served for shorter periods of time, usually close to home (though senior sisters may be called elsewhere).

Finally, there are member missionaries.  That's supposed to include all the rest of us as we share the gospel to those we come in contact with, even if it's living our lives in accordance with the gospel and being examples of faithful members of the church. Blogging about church topics every Sunday is a form of missionary work as I help you get to know more about us, even just to help us be less misunderstood.  I'm also always happy to answer questions about my faith, here online or in person.

As for the rest of my family, my brother served in Atlanta, GA, until sidelined after shattering his elbow, then completed his mission in Baltimore, MD. My mom served in Quito, Ecuador, and my father in Salt Lake City, UT.

In case you were wondering, I have not served a full-time mission. Young men are expected to go, but it's a choice for young women. Instead, I choose to be an example of my faith and share my beliefs whenever appropriate.

Non-Mormon readers/friends - now you know who those young men in the white shirts and ties on bikes are!

Mormon readers/friends - I'd love to know where you served a  mission!  What did you love most about it?

Thursday, December 23, 2010

All is calm, all is bright

Dear Mssrs. Gruber and Mohr,

Thank you for writing a beautiful Christmas hymn. Stille Nacht has always been a favorite because of it's beautiful melody and simple statement of reverence for the Savior.  I'm sure I'm butchering the language when I sing it in German, but I'm also sure you don't mind.


Dear Mr. Young,

What is UP with your translation? Thanks to you, I JUST figure out what was "round yon virgin" and that "beams" is a verb. A verb!! Trained musicians, particularly vocalists, look for phrase markings and punctuation marks for their musical phrasing, but even they fall victim to phrasing with the sound of the music, and this song DEFINITELY has distinct musical phrasing. Your translation cuts off the phrase and the meaning of the words doesn't exactly follow it.  "All is bright round yon virgin" is totally different from the way people mindlessly sing it - "All is bright. Round yon virgin" The same problem exists with the third verse, which most sing as "Love's pure light. Radiant beams from thy holy face" instead of "Love's pure light radiant beams from thy holy face".  Once again, beams is a verb!? I had no idea.


Mostly kidding because I still love this song,

Here's a more clear translation of the original German - clicky.  My goal from now on will be to sing this song with the proper phrasing, so that those who hear me sing it will know that beams is a verb.

A verb!

Monday, December 20, 2010

It's coming on Christmas, they're cutting down trees

In case you don't already know, I'm a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, also known as the Mormons. Each Sunday, I'm going to discuss some things related to my faith and what I believe. Regardless of your own beliefs, I hope this gives you a chance to get to know me and my religion a little better.

"Easter may be our most revered and important holiday in our church, but Christmas is the most joyous." - Bishop Ernest Istook

I LOVE Christmas. You know this by now. Because it's this week(!) (As Cabeza said a few days ago in reference to it coming on so quickly: Christmas is starting to feel like that weird guy that quietly sidles up next to you at a party..) and I'm on a plane Utah-bound, I'm using this Sunday Series post to share some of my new favorite quotes about Christmas and the Latter-day Saint.

"Of all holidays there is none that enters so fully into the human heart, and stirs so many of the higher sentiments. The thoughts, memories, hopes, and customs linked with it are bound by antiquity and nationality collectively; and by childhood and old age individually. They embrace the religious, social, and patriotic sides of our nature. The holly and mistletoe entwined among the evergreens, the habit of giving gifts to those we love, the presence of the Christmas tree, the superstition of Santa Claus, all combining to make Christmas the most longed-for, the most universal, and from every standpoint, the most important holiday known to man” Clarence Baird, “The Spirit of Christmas,” Improvement Era, Dec. 1919

“Christmas, to the Latter-day Saint, is both reminiscent and prophetic—a reminder of two great and solemn events, which will yet be regarded universally as the mightiest and most wonderful happenings in the history of the human race. These events were [foreordained] to take place upon this planet before it was created. One of them was the coming of the Savior in the meridian of time, to die for the sins of the world; and the other is the prospective advent of the risen and glorified Redeemer, to reign upon the earth as King of kings.” - The First Presidency, 1908

"The spirit of Christmas is the spirit of love and of generosity and of goodness. It illuminates the picture window of the soul and we look out upon the world and its busy life and become more interested in people than in things. The spirit of Christ is something I hope all of us would have within our hearts and within our lives, not only at this particular season, but throughout the years." - President Thomas S. Monson

"6 more sleeps until Christmas!" - Me, Just now, 30K feet somewhere over somewhere between DC and Utah

Friday, December 17, 2010

FEVER! When you kiss me, fever when you hold me tight

The cough set in late Monday night. I'd had a weird tickle all day, but suddenly it went from polite throat clearing to painful barking my lungs out. I had cough syrup (why we can send humans to outer space but not create a decent tasting cough syrup is beyond me), but I didn't sleep so well.

Tuesday I was doing pretty well. I was still coughing and it was still painful, but at least it wasn't often. But by that afternoon, I started feeling flush and achy. I made it through work and a run to the grocery store for sore throat supplies (I had run out of cough drops AND honey) before going home and taking my temperature.


No big deal. I laid down for 30 minutes, snuggled in fleece jammies and heavy blankets, and then took my temperature again.


That's cool. I can handle this. I was feeling well enough, I thought, that I could still go to the Institute choir concert, but only sing in the nontet and play my finger cymbals.

The fact that I was double dressing to go sit in a chapel didn't clue me in otherwise. Two shirts AND a sweater plus pants and other pants. Oh, and my snowboots with fuzzy insides and slipper socks. I mean, it was a cold day, but this is what I wanted to wear for an inside thing.

I made it through. Barely. Afterward, I came straight home and went straight to bed. It was before 10 PM.

At 7 AM, I woke up and took my temperature again.


Now, I don't have health benefits and I don't get sick leave, so the didn't make the following decision lightly.

I called in sick.

I haven't done that since I started this job in summer 2006 because I haven't felt this sick during work hours since who knows when. (I almost took a sick day after bringing home something nasty from Egypt, but my stomach was only rejecting my offerings during non-work hours. It was mostly fine from 9-5.)

After making three calls, I went back to bed and stayed there until almost 1 PM. At some point, I'd taken a phone call from my Dad and I'd considered getting up for food more than once, but I always kept falling back asleep.

Sleep is good.

After 15 hours of sleep, I finally succumbed to hunger and foraged for a few bites of applesauce and a string cheese. Applesauce bottles are COLD when you're feverish.

Once I fed myself, I was lying down again, this time on the couch. I had food, appropriate meds for my symptoms, and a blanket. I was still shivering, but I didn't have the energy to get up for a warmer blanket.

I watched tv, I took a nap, I considered doing things on the computer but declined the idea a sitting up for longer the necessary and figured my brain couldn't handle computing anyway. For a few exciting moments, I had a nasty nosebleed. I decided it was the run off from my brain boiling inside my skull. That was fun.

By sometime in the evening, my fever was down significantly and I was able to set up a makeshift humidifier with a pot on the stove AND heat some leftover soup to eat. It was glorious.

Around 10 PM, I was even feeling up for a visitor, namely my home teacher, especially because he came bearing gifts of Kleenex, Gatorade, chocolate, and a cool microwave potato that the Republican senators got in their gift baskets at lunch today.

Kyle pretty much rules.

My fever was back by the time I went to bed, but another 9 hours of sleep was enough to make it go away for good. I feel 18 bajillion times better today. I got to go back to work and even partook of Building Holiday Luncheon Part 2: The Leftovers Edition. I hope the food was better yesterday; I'm kind of glad I only had to eat it once. At tonight's choir concert, I was wearing my snow boots again, but that's because it snowed. I still have a cough and I can only breathe through both my nostrils on special occasions when I concentrate on doing only that, but without the brain boiling, I still feel pretty awesome.

I'm so glad this flu thing only lasted a day or so. Of course, not having it at all would have been preferable, but at least I'm getting better now.

Fevers. Are. Lame.

-Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Greeting cards have all been sent

One of my favorite things to do when I go home for Christmas is read all the Christmas cards and letters that my parents receive. I especially love seeing the pictures and wondering how on earth that cousin or family friend’s child got so big! True, I get a few holiday greetings of my own, but not nearly to the extent my parents do.

Now that I’m an adult, supposedly, it’s about time I start sending my own Christmas cards. My generation is already up in each other’s business all the time with the Facebooks and the Twitters, so I don’t know that I need to do a whole Christmas letter, but perhaps a little card to friends and family saying “Hey, I’m thinking about you – have a most lovely holiday!” would be a nice gesture. We already know how I feel about sending mail, so why not Christmas cards?

This year, is doing a special holiday card promotion – 50 free cards in exchange for some blog love. With designs like these, I certainly don’t mind giving them a shout-out!

They also have calendars, invitation cards, and other fun photo gifts.

The only thing I’m at a loss for is what to put on the cards, since I don’t have adorable children or pets. Perhaps instead of a cute holiday themed photo, I’ll do a picture collage of my year. It’s been a pretty great one after all!

Any suggestions? Favorite pictures you've seen of me this year that I should send to 50 of my friends?
Also - would you like a Christmas card? Email me your address! With any luck, at the rate I'm doing these things, you'll all be wished a very happy St. Patrick's Day!

Monday, December 6, 2010

Lead me, guide me, walk beside me

In case you don't already know, I'm a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, also known as the Mormons. Each Sunday, I'm going to discuss some things related to my faith and what I believe. Regardless of your own beliefs, I hope this gives you a chance to get to know me and my religion a little better.

Based on the positive response I've received on my Sunday Series (yeah, just came up with that), I'm going to continue doing it.  Each Sunday, I'll discuss something related to my faith in a continued effort to help you get to know it and me better.

I have a few topics I'm looking forward to discussing in the next few weeks, but in the meantime, here are a few other resources for getting to know more about the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Official Church website

More about individual members

We're even on Twitter!

And YouTube!

And always, always, you can ask me anything!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Zip-a-dee-doo-dah! Zip-a-dee-ay!

Huzzah! I did it! 30 posts in 30 days, on both my blogs! That's a LOT of blogging.

It's been really good for me.  Writing a daily list of things I'm grateful for has improved my mood and attitude, and I've had a much better month than I did in October. On this blog, I feel like my writing continues to improve. I'm not the best writer out there, and I'm not trying to be, but improvement is awesome.

I'm grateful to all y'all for all the comments - keep 'em coming!

Here's to another successful NaBloPoMo!