"Much of the major growth that is coming to the Church in the last days will come because many of the good women of the world (in whom there is often such an inner sense of spirituality) will be drawn to the Church in large numbers. This will happen to the degree that the women of the Church reflect righteousness and articulateness in their lives and to the degree that the women of the Church are seen as distinct and different--in happy ways--from the women of the world... Thus it will be that female exemplars of the Church will be a significant force in both the numerical and spiritual growth of the Church in the last days" President Spencer W. Kimball

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Remember Who You Are

The days just seem to roll into each other. I never realized how hard it is to keep track of the day of the week it is until now, where all of my days hold the same schedule; wake up, work, sleep. Haha, of course not as mundane but getting close. Luckily this week had an eventful trip to the Orange County Fair. I have to admit this was my first time in all my life ever attending "The Fair." Its nuts cause I remember every year me being so excited to go, only later to realize it had come and gone. Not this year!

Lovely Jana was visiting from Utah this week and brought to my attention the Michael Jackson Laser Show that was playing. Naturally hearing this news changed that usual comment of "I want to go" to "I'm going!" with a passion so intense I bought tickets nearly on the spot. This show was a spectacle of MJ's greatest hits mixed with dancing and lasers! It, hands down, was the most awesome event going on at the fair, and for fortunate consumers like myself changed history for me... I can technically can say that Michael Jackson made me go, and thank heavens cause boy have I been missing out on some of the most gluttonous moments of my life. Never have I seen so many fried foods that should come NOWHERE near a fryer, case and point "fried butter," double yuck! But the thought that follows that is, "someone had to have wanted it or have eaten it for it to be sold," ...weird. Anyways, it was a great night and a real treat to go dance, play and eat (tons of ridiculous food) with my family and friends.

Anyways, onto the next... So this week was filled with the realization that I'm getting a bit nervous to leave. Not that I'm hesitant to go, I'm just going over my list of things and keep hitting speed bumps. I am a little overwhelmed with, ready for this... shopping! Ok, so of course I love shopping and I think everyone can agree when I say that purchasing the most hideous clothes is a sister missionary's MO, but I have been greatly informed by my secret spies that this is not the case in the mission that I have been called to. There are some wrenches in the system that allow us a little more freedom, but I think this has backfired for real! The guide book is of no help at all and because of that I am going on pure suggestion. First, and mainly only item of concern, I hear the winters in NY are sooooooo cold. I'm from CA, what do I know about freezing cold winters (Utah doesn't hold a candle to the the winters of NY)??? And PS, lets not forget about my frostbite ordeal of '07, haha I would love to keep all of my toes this time. Im just saying, any advice I can receive would be more than luxurious at this point. It's a shot in the dark for me.

Other than that, with my bit of anxiety I am exponentially more excited! Today in sacrament meeting Brother Brian Andre did what he always does best, and that is bring animation to life with a spiritual twist. "What do you mean by that you say?" well, to my great amusement he was speaking about the relationship we have with our Savior, how we are our Heavenly Father's children and how we had the prime example sent to keep us on track. If we just remember who we are then we will be great. Of course it was paired with a simile: Rafiki and Simba...(and cue Ash's overwhelming excitement). In the Disney movie The Lion King, taking place at the waterhole Rafiki is speaking to Simba. "Look down there...No, look harder. You see? He lives in you." Now naturally he was not speaking in the same sense that a Latter-Day Saint would, but lets be honest, it hits the nail right on the head, yeah??! Everyday we have a living example in the way we portray the words we preach. If we can keep about us the Spirit we will always know and feel the presence of our Heavenly Father. It sometimes is a challenge personally for me to keep my thoughts focused but when I really think of who I am and my purpose here in this life it becomes more evident the work I am to do. An example is easy to follow, but then again it is easier said than done. It is definitely something I'm striving to do more of. I just feel that like the mission prep, with life there is a huge list of things to do. As long as I keep pushing toward accomplishing those goals, while remembering who I am, I will be successful in accomplishing the things which are the most important.

Having said that: MJ, Disney, life and love. And so it is...

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Quite A Few Days To Go

I woke up this morning really tired. I have worked everyday this week save Wednesday and today and am running on E. Sometimes its hard to think of all that I have to do: fitting in activities and obligations into my day, work, study, play, etc., but then I think, "who am I racing against?!?" I have had this problem often where I set such high standards for myself. I mean, of course setting goals is healthy and often recommended but I have the want to do everything and more. Its funny cause the talk from the last General Conference given by Sister Julie B. Beck, Relief Society General President, seems to be nipping at my heels these days. I read it once more this morning, taking away from it this; "A good woman knows that she does not have enough time, energy, or opportunity to take care of all the people or do all the worthy things her heart yearns to do." This here is not an excuse or a dismissal from trying but it is a great insight to the importance of prioritizing.

After having said that, for those who have not been directly included in my preparation let me fill you in on a few things. After submitting my papers back in April I followed that by moving from Provo, UT to my hometown of Lake Forest, CA, a fast move to say the least. This has been such a switch for me. Shortly after arriving home I was met with much opposition, the most taxing being the cancer scare with my brother, Tony. I could not have experienced a bigger miracle than receiving the long waited news of "negative" on his medical scans, after having been told he was going to die!!! The degree of prayer, patience, faith, and heartache experienced during that month of waiting was enough to bring anyone to ends but it was such a testimony builder for sure.

In other events I received my call May 13th, in the midst of my my brother's ordeal. It was a bittersweet moment learning where the Lord would have me serve knowing that there is much work for me to do here at home. At the time there was no telling how much time my brother would have living on this earth and I was often faced with the question "With your brother being so sick, are you still planning on going on your mission?" to which the answer was always yes. May 22 I attended the temple for the first time. There are very few words that can explain an experience like that. It is just an additional tender mercy from the Lord extending His love to those here in this life. Since then I have been successful in attending the temple every week, allowing me to get better acquainted with the work therein. It is such a blessing and learning experience. It is evident why they have missionaries do this work before going forth to do the Lords work.

So now lets talk about literal preparation. This is where I will refer back to the beginning where I said I wish I could do more. Right now I have such great resources to study from. I have made plans to finish the Book of Mormon once more before entering the MTC (ward 90 day youth challenge), study up in Preach My Gospel and read as many of the Great Works as possible. How that's going...well life gets mad busy! Haha, I love the challenge. Im a bit disappointed that I have not been as diligent as before I had a full time job, but hey I do what I can right? I am currently about a third of the way through the Book of Mormon and have been truly studying Chapter 6 of PMG. There is so much amazing information in that book, its no wonder Elder Richard G. Scott sings its praises. I am currently living with the Beckett family in my ward, they are so great in allowing me to stay with them while I prepare to leave. They save all the BYU Devotionals on the TiVo for me which has been super fun to watch and take notes from, among other great uplifting activities they allow me to participate in.

These last few months have been so great yet challenging. I have come to know that in life it is key to have our eyes single to the Lord in all aspects whether preparing for a mission or not. A gentleman in my ward today reminded us of the days of the pioneers where they guided the entire city of Salt Lake based on the positioning of the temple. He then went on to say that this should be our goal in life as well, to guide our lives after the teachings of the Gospel as well as the workings in the temple. I have been tried and tested often throughout this period of my life but it is my knowledge that this is what I am here for. Where much is given much is required. I have been greatly blessed with a growing testimony of the love the Savior has for me. I know that this is the true and living Gospel. I know that Joseph Smith restored the Gospel to this earth, I know that there is a living prophet to guide us to day, even President Thomas S. Monson. I know that the Lord accounts for his missionaries (D&C 84), I know that this will be a great growing experience for me, and I also know that there is no place else I would rather be than New York for the next 18 months. I have been called to an area that is specific for my qualifications and I know that it is a true calling from my Heavenly Father. These things I am sure of.

I love the Lord, I love my family, I love my friends and invite all of you to join me for the next few months as I take this adventure.