Saturday, December 24, 2011


This Christmas has been different than any Christmas I've ever had. I have been away from my family, and my familiar traditions. But I've also been able to be away from some of the distractions of this time of year. The stress, the shopping, and the commercialism. I have loved being able to remember and share with others the true meaning of Christmas. Celebrating Christ, His birth, His life, His Atonement, and what that means for us. And what it means is pretty amazing! God sent His Son here so that all men could be saved. We are all saved from death and we can also be cleansed from our sins as we have faith in our Savior, repent, are baptized, receive the gift of the Holy Ghost, and endure to the end. And that is the message that I have dedicated 18 months of my life to sharing. It's a beautiful message.  It is "good news". It brings direction, peace, joy, Salvation! I love it! I am so grateful for my Savior Jesus Christ, for my Heavenly Father who made this plan for us so we can return to Him, I am so grateful for the gospel, for my family- who I can be with forever-, I'm grateful for being a missionary and having the oppurtunity to share Christ's gospel with the people here in Northern California. I am gateful for Chirstmas and what it helps me to remember.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Don't Judge a Bed by It's Cover

One of the things that you need to bring with you on a mission is bedding. When I left I brought a bedspread that my sister had used in college. It's easy to pack and very girly looking. She likes pink so it was a good one for her. I don't love pink, but I needed a bedspread so I wasn't going to complain. One day in Eureka while I was remaking my bed I looked at my bedspread and had a sudden realization. It's reversible. One side is pink the other side is purple (my favorite color). I had seen that blanket on my sister's bed for years, it had always been pink. Through all those months of packing the blanket, and using it at the MTC and in Eureka, I hadn't noticed that all I had to do to get a purple bed was to turn it over. I was so used to seeing a pink blanket that that was all I saw.

I sat there for a while wondering how it possibly could have taken me so long to realize. Then it dawned on me that we, as humans, do this so often. We see a person, ourselves or others, and say that what they have been is all that they can become. We forget that we are all children of God. The person we are now is only one aspect of us, it is within our grasp to change and become more. All we have to do is turn our lives to Christ and the Atonement and we can become a totally new and beautiful person. A person who was there all along but was hidden from our sight. 2 Cor 5:17 "Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is as a new creature". Don't let yourself be defined but what you have been, instead seek out what you can become.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

The Greatest Book Ever

So, I have a deep abiding love in my life that has given me much joy and great happiness. And that love is for Harry Potter. Harry Potter is one of the first books that I read and enjoyed. I love the books, I love the characters, I love the themes, I love the good conquering evil, and yes, I love the movies. Harry Potter has been a big part of my life since I was at least 10 years old. When I got my mission call I quickly noticed that my leaving date was two weeks before the release date of the final Harry Potter movie. WHAT! Something that had been integral part of over half my life was coming to an end and I was going to miss it? It was really sad to me but it wasn't going to stop me from going on my mission. 

Since coming on my mission I have re-started the Book of Mormon. I've read and studied it before, I've prayed about it, and I believed it was true. But one of the messages I got from conference was to "feast upon the words of Christ" 1 and as I have begun applying that to my studies, the Book of Mormon has opened up to me. I read as often as I can; while I eat breakfast, as part of my daily study, during lunch, and before I go to bed. I love it, I love the people in it, I love the things it teaches, I love the spirit I feel as I read it, and I know it's true.

The Book of Mormon has been a part of my life since I was born but I hadn't truly appreciated it or received as much from it as I could until a few months ago. I wouldn't trade the opportunity I have right now to devote myself and all my attention to sharing the Book of Mormon and spreading the gospel to God's children for anything. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part II will be there when I get back.

I love Harry Potter, but I know that the greatest book, the one we can receive the most truth, direction, and joy from as we read from it, is the Book of Mormon. The Book of Mormon is the word of God and it comes with a promise to all that read and "ask God, the Eternal Father, in the name of Christ, if these things are not true; and if ye shall ask with a sincere heart, with real intent, having faith in Christ, he will manifest the truth of it unto you, by the power of the Holy Ghost." 2 I know this is true and I invite everyone to get a copy, read from it, pray about it, and act on it. It's true and it will bless your life forever.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Great Things Ahead (and behind)

Last Friday night I found out that I'll be serving in Eureka for at least a few more weeks. I'm happy I'll be here for a while more. I love the wonderful people I've been able to meet. They will be my friends forever. I've also had some interesting experience here. I think one of my favorites was when Sister Nestman and I were walking in Old Town on our preparation day and we saw a sign for a "Glass Blowing" shop, we thought, "Cool glass blown stuff, lets check it out"...bad idea. I was a different kind of "blowing" shop. We quickly left. These past weeks in Eureka I have learned so much about myself and about Heavenly Father. This is the place where, in mission lingo, I was born. I think I'll always have a tender spot in my heart for Eureka.

On the first day in Santa Rosa before I knew, really anything, about the mission, let alone where I was going to serve first, we were shown a sideshow with pictures from around the mission. I remember seeing the pictures of Eureka and thinking, "That would be a good place to go." In all truthfulness, pretty much from the night before (when I couldn't fall asleep), to arriving from the training center at the airport (where I realized that I would have to talk to and teach real people not just my peers and teachers), and then coming to Santa Rosa (and discovering I had not idea what I was doing), I'd felt pretty scared, and sad, and alone, and unsure about, well, everything. When we watched that video, and I saw Eureka I had a strong feeling of peace come over me.

I still don't know why I've come here to Eureka. Maybe I'll figure it out in the next 5 weeks, or possibly in 10 years, or maybe I'll never know the exact reason. But today I do know, and I've known on some level since I saw a picture of Eureka almost 3 months ago, that this is the place for me right now.

I know that just like Heavenly Father knows this is the place for me at this time, He know each one of us. Perfectly. He knows our strengths, our weaknesses, our needs and our desires. He has a plan for us and as we turn our will to His, He is going to be there for us and help us in ways we may not understand but which are ultimately for our greatest good. I know that sometimes we may feel like God isn't here because things are not going the way we want, but we have to remember what Nephi said in Nephi 1:1 "I Nephi... having seen many afflictions in the course of my days, nevertheless, having been highly favored of the Lord in all my days."1 This life is a time of trial and experiences, but as we are obedient and faithful the Lord will support and strengthens us through all things.

He knows you, He loves you, He is here for you. Turn to Him, for His arms are extended.2

2. Mosiah 29:20

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Child of a King

I love Disney movies. The end.... No not really. But I truely do. They're the movies of my childhood. I know all the song, I used to imagine myself as Belle, and I remember watching Mulan every day, for what felt like a month, to see if I could out-watch my best friend (I'm pretty sure she won). Anyway, I have fond Disney memories, and one of my favorites is The Lion King. When I watched it as a kid I always liked the songs, and the love story, and, of course, Timon and Pumbaa, but its amazing what I've gotten from it as I've gotten older. As you may know, it's the story of a young lion, named Simba, who's the son of the King, Mufasa. Simba looks up to his father and learns a lot from Mufasa about his future kingdom and responsibilities. Mufasa is killed and Simba is driven away from his family by his deceptive uncle who wants to take over. Simba runs away and ends up living an un-fulfilling life with no purpose. But he's not allowed to continue in that life for long. He's found by someone, Nala, who reminds him that he's not acting the way he should be. Nala brings Simba to a wise leader who shows him that he has great un-achieved potential as the son of the King and he is told to "remember who you are". Simba goes back home to live the life that is his birthright and save his family from a life of sadness.

Ok, so this story is packed full of great things. I actually can't believe how much good stuff is in there. There was even more than I realized until I stated typing it up. Pretty much it's an amazing analogy of our lives. Before this life we lived with our Father, the King of Creation. He loved us, and taught us, and told us what to expect of the future. But we were separated from Him and often we are deceived by Satan to do things that are not befitting our royal heritage. But the Holy Ghost is there to remind us that we are worth more than making bad decisions. Like Simba, we too, need to realize our divine heritage. "The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God."1

We are. Each one of us is a child of God. That's amazing! We are filled with potential and possibilities. No one can tells us we are worthless, or unloved, or not amazing, because we are. We have a loving Heavenly Father who is here for us and whose greatest purpose is to help us to reach our highest potential 2. We just have to remember this and live a life worthy of that heritage and blessing. We're fantastic, we have a great future ahead of us, we are children of God!

1. Romans 8:16
2. Moses 1:39

President Uchtdorf just gave an amazing talk related to this at General Conference this weekend and the Apostles always say it better then me :). You can watch it here.

Sunday, September 25, 2011


A few Sundays ago my companion and I were eating lunch with the family next-door when we heard a huge bang, and all the lights went off. Our neighbor said, "Oh, another tree must have fallen and knocked down some power lines." Really? They do that? That's the sound it makes? It happens enough that that is the first thing she thought of? Those were the thoughts running through my head. And then came, "If a tree fell in the woods and no one was there to hear it, would it still make a sound?" Maybe I'm not smart or intellectual enough, because I've never gotten the depth of that question. I'm always like, "Yes, of course it would, why wouldn't it?" I can't see why anything else would happen, a tree falls, it makes a sound, it shouldn't matter if there's anyone around to hear it or not.

But the other day when I was pondering this I thought of the Atonement. The Atonement is like my hypothetical tree that makes a sound no matter what. We can choose to use the Lord's Atonement, or we can choose not to, but the the Atonement still happened. Christ suffered for our sins, our weaknesses, and felt our trials and pains,1 despite whether or not we turn to Him for repentance or help.

Although it's clear to me that if a tree falls it will make a sound, it's not always so easy to recognize how all-encompassing the Atonement is. I think there are two main times when we, as God's children, forget this. First, when we believe that we can't possibly be forgiven because of the seriousness of what we've done, and second, when we're stubborn and choose not to turn away from our sins and mistakes, and towards Christ. Both are not good, and both are still atoned for by Christ. But we can only take advantage of that when we acknowledge Him and allow the Atonement to work in our lives. Christ has already suffered: He knows how we feel, He is just waiting for us to humble ourselves, to ask for help, to forgive ourselves. The tree is falling, it is going to make a sound, it's up to us to decide if we want to be there to hear it or not. We can all choose to experience the Atonement. I love Alma the Younger's description of his repentance,

"I cried within my heart: O Jesus, thou son of God, have mercy on me, who am in the gall of bitterness, and am encircled about by the everlasting chains of death. And now, behold when I thought this, I could remember my pains on more; yea, I was harrowed up by the memory of my sins no more. And oh, what joy and what marvelous light I did behold; yea, my soul was filled with joy as exceeding as was my pain... there could be nothing so exquisite and so bitter as were my pains. Yea, and again I say unto you,..on the other hand, there can be nothing so exquisite and sweet as was my joy."2

That is the joy that is available to each one of us. Our Savior, Jesus Christ, Atoned for "all mankind, which ever were since the fall of Adam, or who are, or who ever shall be"3. I know this. It has already happened, for each one of us. Now, we just have to choose to have faith in Christ and His Atonement and experience that joy for ourselves.   

2. Alma 36:18-21
3. Mosiah 4:7

Monday, September 19, 2011

Moments of Joy

I love this video. I've been thinking, myself, about the moments that matter most. The moments that make me smile, the memories that make any hard or difficult time not so bad. Here are a few that I have had over the past two and a half months.
-Rolling out of bed at 6:30 in the morning to see this message from an amazing friend on the bathroom mirror.

-Getting a letter from home that says exactly what I needed to hear.

-Walking into the house next door with all the lights off and the children shushing us because they have devised a brilliant plan to trap a mouse they saw .

-Feeling like the work for the day has been fruitless and then having someone open the door and invite us in and tell us we are the answer to her prayer.

-Getting home after a long day to this surprise on our door.

-Reading a verse in the scriptures and seeing something I've never noticed before.

-Spending a day at the Medford temple.

-At dinner one night a mom asked her children "Do you know what water molecules are made of?" and her 6 year old son, in all seriousness, answered "Spam?"

-Seeing beautiful scenery on long four hour drives to and from Santa Rosa.

         Just South of Ferndale                                 About 50 miles north of Santa Rosa

-Catching sight of a 60 year old man in a full suit ridding a razor scooter down the street.

-Seeing people I love enter the waters of Baptism and make covenants with our Heavenly Father.

These are some of the moments I have been blessed with on my mission. And I know they are tender mercies from a loving Heavenly Father. What are the moments that have made a difference in your life?

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Missionary Stories

This video is amazing, it's two missioanries sharing an experience they've had on thier missions that helped them learn of God's love for them (the missionaries are actually from my mission :) ).

Heavenly Father knows us and He watches over us. I know this is true for every one of God's children.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Birthday Musings

I had my birthday on Tuesday, so I"m now one year older and (I hope) wiser too. Maybe because I just had my birthday, and I've now lived on earth for 22 years, I've been thinking a lot about earth-life. Why do we come to here? What is our purpose? I do know that we lived with God before and that we came to earth to become like Him; to get a physical body and to be tested 1.

To be tested? How does that work? God knows us perfectly, He knows what decisions we are going to make, and how we are going to turn out. Why do we need to be tested if God already knows what is going to happen?

I have thought about this a lot. And I think that it comes down to two things. First, we are tested so we can know for ourselves, and second, without the experiences of earth-life we would never become the people that we can be.

So- for the first part, yes, God knows what choices we will make but we are not all-knowing, so we don't. I think it is like when we were little kids and our parents would dish up our plate with food and sometimes they wouldn't put something on it and we would say "Hey, what about that raspberry pie?".  They would say "I know you, you don't like raspberries, so you are not going to like raspberry pie. You are just going to leave it on your plate and not eat it." They may have been perfectly correct but when they said that I always wanted it even more. Unless I had the pie on my plate and actually had the opportunity to eat it or not, I was never really sure if I would have. Our Heavenly Father knows, but we don't. We wont be able to stand before the judgment bar of God knowing that our Heavenly Father is sending us to the right place unless we are tested. We come to earth so we can know for ourselves and be able to "acknowledge... that all His judgements are just"2.

The second reason, I think, is the most important. Life is sometimes, even often, hard, difficult, and painful. It seems so unfair. Why would a loving God send us to such a place? Our Heavenly Father knows our potential, but we cannot reach that potential without the trails and growth that come from life. I will admit it, a mission is hard. You are away from friends, family, and the familiar, doing things that are not easy or natural, and working harder than you probably ever have before. But because it is so hard I think I have learned more and grown more in these last two-and-a-half months than I did in the previous two-and-a-half years. There is no way I could have not gone on my mission and had someone come to me and say, "So, if you would have gone on a mission you would have learned this, and gained that attribute, and you would know how to do such and such. Those things are all now a part of your character." I can't learn those lessons, get those attributes, or know how to do those things without having experiences where I learn, gain, or do something new. Before we came to earth we had grown as much as we could. We couldn't reach our potential and become the people our loving Heavenly Father knows we could become without the opportunity of coming to earth.

I guess what I am trying to say, is that I'm a little older today than I was last week and I might be a little bit wiser than I was too: but I've come to the conclusion that that is what life is. A time to get older, grow, learn, experience, and to prepare ourselves to once again meet God; with both Him, and now us, knowing who we are, who we have become, and who we can continue to become into the eternities.       

1. Preach My Gospel "Agency and the Fall of Adam and Eve p.49
2. Alma 12:15

Sunday, August 28, 2011

What Sound DOES a Giraffe Make?

I've been an aunt since I was 8-years-old so I have been around kids in an "adult" capacity for a long time. One of the things I like to do with kids is play the 'animal noises' game. You know the one I am talking about; it is when you pick up a stuffed animal and ask the child what noise it makes. Sometimes an animal will trip me up. One that I always have a problem with is the giraffe. What noise does a giraffe make? I have no idea. I pick up the dog- "bark", I pick up the cat- "meow", pig- "snort", even a bunny is ok, you just wiggle your nose. But the giraffe!? I just sit with the stuffed, orange, long-necked, mammal in my hands; staring, and wondering: "What noise does it make?". I have faced this dilemma for so many years and one day I realized, I have somewhere to turn. There is an amazing resource at my disposal that can help me to find the answer. Yes, I'm talking about google. When I turned to this ultimate source of knowledge so many things appeared before me; youtube videos, Yahoo!Answers, wikipedia. They all were happy to provide me with answers. It was amazing. I had spent literally years contemplating this question and suddenly I had answers. I actually felt a little silly not thinking of it earlier. Of course, you have a question, you turn to google.

Google can be a great source for those kind of questions. The amazing thing is that we can receive answers to life's questions from the true ultimate source. If we have questions, or need direction, we can ask God our Heavenly Father, and He, unlike google, will always have the answer and it will always be true. We are promised in James 1:5 that "If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him."1 That means that if you have a question, you can ask God and He is not going to say "That is a stupid question" or "You are not supposed to ask me questions", He's going to answer you! 

In 1820 a young boy named Joseph Smith had a question, he wanted to know which church to join. He searched for an answer for a long time and one day he read that verse from James 1:5. After he read it he said that "at length I came to the conclusion that I must either remain in darkness and confusion, or else I must do as James directs, that is ask of God."2 Joseph did ask, and, as the scriptures said he would, he received an answer. As he was praying for direction, he saw God the Father and Jesus Christ and they told him that he must not join any of the churches because Christ's Gospel had been lost from the earth. Over time, through revelation from God, Joseph Smith was able to restore the Gospel as it had been taught by Jesus Christ and all the prophets.

I know this is true I know because I have prayed about it and received and answer. I know that anyone who "ask[s] with a sincere heart, with real intent"3 can also know these things are true. God is our Heavenly Father, He loves us and is trying to help us live happy lives. Because He loves us He is going to answer us when we turn to Him in prayer. Please, if you haven't, or even if you have, tonight when you are saying your prayers, ask. Ask God if these things are true. Have faith that He will answer, pay attention to how you feel, and if you don't receive an answer right away, keep trying. God will answer you in a way that you can recognize. I know these things are true, and I invite you to know as well.

2. Joseph Smith History 1:13
3. Moroni 10: 3-5

Friday, August 19, 2011

Cobbler Chaos

Today, my companion Sister Nestman and I visited a lovely Sister in our ward and helped her pick berries from her backyard. Two hours after we left she called to tell us she had a cobbler for us to take home. We went to pick it up and she handed us a cobbler, fresh from the oven.
We soon realized that getting it safely home might not be an easy process. The sister lives in the furthest reaches of our area down some very windy and bumpy roads. The cobbler was still very hot and had yet to settle, so each movement of the car created dangerous possibilities for spilling. As the designated co-pilot, it was my responsibility to keep the berries in place. In other words, not all over me or the car. I intently watched the dish, and everything in it, tilting it up, down, and side to side to compensate for the movement of the car. Sister Nestman, who had a view of the road and the approaching conditions, would warn me, "now we are going to make a slight turn to the right," "next we will be slowing down for a stop sign," "this next area is very bumpy." Sister Nestman's instructions prepared me for the actions I had to take to keep everything under control.

As I sat in the car staring intently at the beautiful, but precarious, cobbler, and listening to the careful instructions of a diligent companion, I thought how this situation can be just like life. We live our lives trying to keep everything in order and going well.  During our time on earth we can only see the here and now. But we don't have to just rely on our limited view, we have someone who can look out the front windshield and warn us of upcoming dangers. That person is Thomas S. Monson. He is the Prophet of God on the earth today. He, like my wonderful companion, can warn us of dangers in our lives that we cannot see. I am so grateful for a modern-day prophet and the knowledge and guidance that we can receive for our lives and the time we live in now. I know that God loves all of His children, no matter what day and age that they live in. Just like He sent a prophet in Noah's day to warn of the flood, or Moses' to lead the people out of bondage, Heavenly Father has given us a prophet for the needs of our day.
And just like at the end of our drive, Sister Nestman and I had a delicious treat. If we can navigate successfully through life,we will receive a wonderful reward in the life to come.

Here is an amazing video of President Monson testifying of Christ, as every prophets of God has.1

Sunday, August 14, 2011

I Will Go and Do

Today I feel akin to some of the Book of Mormon Prophets. At the end of his writings Nephi says that he could not write all of the things that were taught among his people and states "Neither am I mighty in writing" 1. Moroni, as he is compiling the plates together, worries that people will mock the words of the book because God "has not made us mighty in writing" 2. Since the beginning of the month my responsibilities as a missionary have included online work. This means that I maintain a blog and a facebook page. I am not a writer, and I, like Nephi, worry that I wont be able to express all the things I want to in written word; and, like Moroni, "when [I] write [I] behold [my] weakness, and stumble because of the placing of [my] words."

I had been aware that some missionaries were doing online work even before leaving on my mission and I told my family "I hope I'm not an online missionary." And now I am. Even though this is not something I would ever have chosen on my own, I have faith that as I go forward and am obedient that I will be blessed and the Lord will help me to fulfill my responsibilities. I know that our Heavenly Father has the eternal view of all things and that He loves us and wants good things for us. I know it is true that "the Lord giveth no commandments unto the children of men, save he shall prepare a way for them that they may accomplish the thing which he commandeth them" 3

How has Heavenly Father helped you do something that you didn't think you could do on your own?

3 1 Nephi 3:7

Sunday, August 7, 2011

No Good, Rotten, Bad Day

Some days are just crummy aren't they? I had one of those days on Friday; everything that could go wrong did. Appointments were cancelled, people we went to visit were not home, the lunch we were served was food I hate, shoes that are supposed to last a year and a half broke after a month and a half, everything reminded me of people and things I miss, and no mail. It just put me in a down mood. I wonder why we have to have days like that? Sometimes I just wish that everyday was one full of sunshine, homemade cookies, and unicorns. But not everyday is. I guess that if there was always perfection and no bad days to compare it with then I wouldn't appreciate the good when I had it. I think that is why I chose "That They Might Have Joy" as the title of my blog. Life can be hard and things can be sad or difficult and sometimes I get caught up in that. I want to always remember that God didn't put us, His children, here on earth to be unhappy. He wants the best things for us and promises that as we follow Him we can find joy on earth within our crazy/awful/boring/stressful/wonderful/etc days, and ultimate happiness in the life to come.

Adam fell that men might be; and men are, that they might have joy.- 2 Nephi 2:25

Sometimes there has to be darkness to better appreciate the light.