Thursday, December 19, 2013

Mormon Questions: Joseph Smith

Almost all anti-mormon literature revolves around Joseph Smith. Some of it true and some of it not. So when people hear 'mormon,' Joseph Smith is often the first person to come to mind.

Hence this question: "Do you really believe Joseph Smith was a prophet?"

The answer is yes, I absolutely do!

In case you aren't sure who Joseph Smith is, I'll tell you! Joseph Smith was a 14 year old boy growing up New York in the early 1800s. He prayed in the woods to know which church to join and in turn learned more than he ever expected to know, I'm sure. God and Jesus Christ appeared to him then and told him that he should join no church because the gospel and the priesthood had been taken from the earth when the original apostles died. Joseph later received priesthood power, the Book of Mormon, and instructions from angels. He became the first prophet of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

I believe all that and more. I believe that Joseph was sincerely trying to follow God's directive. But I don't believe Joseph Smith was perfect and I don't believe he was more than a man (as in we don't worship Joseph Smith). Only Jesus was perfect and even then most people didn't believe He was the Son of God! They still criticized Him and pointed out perceived flaws.

Carter teaches Elder's Quorum (sunday school for men) and in his class someone brought up the good point that if all prophets were as well documented as Joseph was, they would likely all be controversial figures. Take Moses, for example. He intentionally killed a man! Or Jonas, who planned on forgetting the whole prophet business and moving far away where no one would know him.

The beautiful thing about Joseph Smith's story is how it all relates to our own. God uses imperfect people to do His work on this earth! Though we all are lacking (and He knows perfectly what we lack) we can all serve God in meaningful ways.

If you would like to know more about Joseph Smith and what we believe about him you can look at this website created by our church.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Awkward and Awesome

small forehead, llamas, and too many miles of hair for one selfie


Our toilet occasionally makes the loudest sound when we flush it. It's a mixture between the sound of a whale and an angry ogre, kinda like this. AND our neighbors just told us that they can hear it two apartments away. 
How looooong my hair is. It's the type of long that gets caught in other people's armpits, chokes me during swim workouts and is too heavy to hold any hairstyle. I think big changes are coming... 
Yoga with sexual offenders. I failed to realize this but apparently lots of yoga poses look like sex poses. #awk
I asked for bangs and my hairdresser refused on the grounds that my forehead is too short. SINCE WHEN IS MY FOREHEAD TOO SHORT/WHY HAS NO ONE EVER TOLD ME THIS BEFORE?? I can now totally relate to women's forehead fashion during Marie Antoinette's era. 
A while ago Carter randomly started bleeding out of his arm and it wouldn't stop bleeding for 40 minutes. We had no idea what it was but we got desperate and ended up super-gluing the hole in his arm shut, leaving a massive, bloody pile of superglue on his arm. The superglue held everything in but two months later his arm was still bleeding out of that hole every time Carter tried to remove the superglue. Finally, we got smart and asked Carter’s doctor dad what to do. He said that it was probably a arteriole (small artery) that was too close to the surface of the skin. Apparently, sometimes they just break open and  don’t ever clot over by themselves because there is too much blood pressure. So he cauterized the wound and now there is a crater in Carter’s arm. Carter thought it was so cool but I was pretty grossed out. 


FINALLY finished my pomegranate print pillows, complete with black trim! I'm learning to sew and moving on up in life.
Carter told me he "had an awakening" and now is applying to an internship with the Federal Reserve in NYC this summer. There's a good chance we'll go because his professor has connectionz and said he would hook Carter up. #seeyathere @cmacmitch
I'm a notorious plant killer but in order to justify having children, I've been working on changing my ways. So far my beautiful pink plant has survived a whooping 5 months in my care! Never mind that three died before this one and the two background plants are already as good as dead! We can have kids!
I had my wedding dress recently cleaned (10 months later) and I just can't put it away yet. Something about having that sliver of beading peeking out is so dreamy and nostalgic.
I'm a primary teacher and this calling could not be more perfect for where I am in life right now. I LOVE going to primary and singing songs all the days. One 9-year-old boy in particular reminds me of so much Carter. During a primary lesson about the second coming he asked, "What if I'm 112 and dead? Will I still see Him?" To which the primary president answered that he would because everyone will come forth out of their graves. And then totally serious he protest, "But then I'll be a zombie." LOLZ. Not even a hint of sarcasm, just innocent hilarious questions.

a beautiful wedding dress, an un-killable plant, and some rad pillows

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Him and Her: 5 Surprising Things About Marriage

In honor of our one-year anniversary, I thought we'd share some aspects of marriage that have been most surprising to us.

  1. Carter really doesn't understand that time of the month and I really can't explain it to him. He grew up with mostly brothers so I don't know how to tell him that, yes, I am furious over my lost sock and no, I'm not insane.
  2. My parents and siblings repeatedly warned Carter about my just-woke-up self. To illustrate: I almost slapped my college roommate in the face when she was too zealous about waking me up. I wish that was an exaggeration. In a nice twist of fate, I'm usually extra-lovey to Carter in the mornings. Carter says I either wake up really happy or really mad.
  3. I've always heard that money is the most contentious topic between spouses and now I really believe it. Not that we've ever argued about money; we usually agree on spending habits and yada yada. But MAN is it stressful.
  4. We never run out of things to talk about! We totally should because we only spend 6 hours a day away from each other. Not that much happens in six hours! I guess we got married for a reason.
  5. I totally don't believe that the first year of marriage is the hardest. This has been the best year of my life! And the transition to living together has been a breeze. 

  1. Whitney has the most vivid dreams. I guess I knew this when we were engaged because she would tell me about them, but it gets to a new level to wake up with her and have her tell me about all these crazy things. I mean, in her dreams really crazy things happen, like her being an assassin. I wake up in the morning and she has gone to a crazy place and done crazy things, and I just slept. 
  2. Even though I think Whitney is the perfect size she is always talking about how she is not. It blows my mind. It doesn't matter how many times I tell her she is the perfect size, she always believes she isn't.
  3. Whitney loves her plants. She has some plants she leaves on the dresser, and she calls them her planties. The hilarious thing is how much she talks about her planties. I cannot tell you how many mornings one of the first things that comes out of Whitney's mouth is "we gotta open the windows for my planties!" If action is not taken immediately, the planties will surely die. 
  4. Before I was married, Whitney's dad and sister warned me about Whitney right when she wakes up in the morning. I thought maybe it could be bad, but actually Whitney is usually really snuggly and soo cute in the mornings. There are the occasional mornings where she is really upset about something pretty crazy, but most of the time she often just wants to stay in bed and it is wonderful!
  5. I always imagined marriage would be great, but in reality it is so much better.  I tell Whitney all the time this is true. It is so amazing to not have to go home at night, to be able to stay together, live together, go through things together. It's amazing.

Friday, December 13, 2013

A Christmas List

Usually I never read these wish lists blogs but I just couldn't resists making one! I honestly enjoy day-dreaming about my wish list more than I like actually acquiring the items in it. Anyway, here's what I'm currently dreaming about:

I'm currently obsessing over beanies. Anyone know of a place to find reasonably priced beanies? 

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Good Reads: A Thousand Lives

Apparently, I'm really into depressing books because, like Matterhorn, this one doesn't have a happy page in it. Happy endings are all we humans look for, but in reality they are subtle and often elusive. This book depicts the not-so-happy but true ending for one thousand people, the inhabitants of Jonestown. 

If you are unfamiliar with the story, Jonestown was a colony in Guyana founded by Jim Jones for his congregation, The People's Temple. Jim Jones began as any pastor but over time he became a paranoid leader of a cult. His followers found themselves trapped in a colony thousands of miles away from the U.S. with no way out except suicide. One thousand people died in a mass murder/suicide by poisoned red Kool-aid. The book follows the progression of The People's Temple from its foundation to its demise.

Cult leader, Jim Jones with some children of the People's Temple.
After I finished this book, I couldn't stop thinking about it. You would think that the one thousand were unhinged death-cult members, just as CNN and the Times depicted. From reading the book I realized that most of the people were just average. I wondered, "How is it that such normal people from typical backgrounds could follow such an obviously deranged man to their deaths? Why didn't they leave? Seek help? Resist?" In the chilling words of one survivor: "No one sets out to joins a cult." The answer to my questions is also found A Thousand Lives. Each person ignored small, but telling warning signs. They continuously choose to justify little deviations from 'normal' and with each justification, they grew used to their new reality. Eventually they found themselves trapped. Their perception was too distorted for them to see the truth about the leader and their forthcoming death.

I think the experiences of the one thousand Jonestown inhabitants is a very striking analogy to sin and addiction. It begins with small choices and gentle justifications. I would say to all suffering from addiction and living in sin that your ending is still unwritten. You do not have to follow your choices to their bitter end. True change can always be found in Jesus Christ.

Anyway, I would highly recommend the book with the disclaimer that it contains some very disturbing material. It's the kind of disturbing event that gives great insight into human behavior and the human experience. For the same reason you find the holocaust interesting, though horrifying, you will enjoy this book.

Jim Jones was notoriously charming and taught with the fervor of a Baptist preacher.

The photo of the mass suicide that appeared on the cover of the Times. Many dead with a large vat of poisoned kool-aid.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Mormon Questions: Terminology

At our first LIVE Christmas nativity. They had all sorts of biblical animals,  elaborately dressed roman soldiers, and one very cute baby.

Mormons use a lot of religious jargon that other Christian denominations do not use. Have you ever wondered, 'what does that mean?' when talking to a Mormon? I can admit, it can all be very confusing. Like stake? As in steak? What? (Until I was ten or so, I really did think it was "steak" and I had no idea what anyone was ever talking about ever.) 

I present to you translations of Mormon speak:
Atonement: The sacrifice of Jesus Christ. It includes his suffering in the garden of Gethsemane and on the cross as well as His resurrection.
Bishop: unpaid spiritual leader of a ward, or congregation. Similar to a pastor. They are asked to serve in that position for approximately 5 years. They give advice, conduct interviews, and assign callings.
Ward: analogous to a congregation. Everyone is assigned to a ward based on the area they live.* Approximately 100-300 people make up a ward.
Stake: A group of neighboring wards (seven or so) are put into a stake. A city may have several stakes. "Stake" is a term that comes from the Old Testament (Isaiah 54:2). The tent or church is upheld by supporting stakes.
Calling: an unpaid assignment in the church. Almost everyone has a calling and they vary from "visit so-and-so every month to "teach Sunday School" to "plan activities for the ward four times a year." 
Priesthood:  The authority and power that God gives to man to act in the name of Jesus Christ in all things for the salvation of mankind. You need it for things to be legit in God's eyes i.e. baptism, eternal marriage, ect.
Agency: the ability God gives to people to choose and act for themselves in all areas of their life. Everyone is free to choose between good and evil.
Prophet: A man who God calls to speak for Him. The prophet receives commandments, revelations, prophets and authority from God. He also leads God's church. God had prophets in biblical times and still has them today.
Branch: a congregation too small to be called a ward. A branch has a branch president instead of a bishop.
Contention: argumentative atmosphere 
Non-member: someone who is not baptized into our church (The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints) 
Talk: a 15-minute sermon given by various members of the ward. The bishop picks the topic and asks someone to speak from the pulpit on the subject 
Trial: Hard times that we believe God gave us to help us grow and to 'try' us

*Growing up, I was always a little perplexed about the idea of "picking" a church with a likable pastor.  I can see how that would be a big deal to people; I mean if you're going to go there every Sunday and give the pastor money you need to like the church, right? Well, in our church the clergy is called of God with His priesthood authority (and not even paid) and so you are expected to go to your geographically assigned ward and make the most of it. If you don't have any friends, you don't like the bishop, or there is a closer building nearby, the overall sentiment is mainly: "Deal with it." It can sometimes be hard, but as a disciple of Christ you're supposed to build up the people and the ward where you are.

So what do you think? Any other confusing words I should add the the list?

Thursday, December 5, 2013

King Lamoni's Father

I was reading the Book of Mormon and thinking about how history is always told from the vantage of the author. Historians unintentionally write their own bias and culture into their work and I imagine the same is true of the many scripture authors. Carter and I have just finished the miraculous story of how Ammon and his brothers convert a nation of Lamanites to the gospel of Jesus Christ. The Lamanites are then called the people of Ammon before they dub themselves the Anti-Nephi-Lehi's (meaning 'for' or 'in support' of Nephi and Lehi). Alma was probably used to Lamanites being the 'bad guys' his whole life. After Ammon reported his success, it maybe didn't strike Alma to ask King Lamoni for his account. And so you read the story and can't help but feel that Ammon was the hero of the story. Not to say that Ammon wasn't heroic, but reading it through this time I realized more and more what true heroes King Lamoni and his father were. King Lamoni and his father must have known that they could be considered traitors for their new beliefs. When they took on the name Anti-Nephi-Lehi, they were renouncing 600 years of cultural Nephite-hatred. They perhaps expected to lose their thrones and their lives. In fact, many of the converted Lamanites did die because of heir belief. And yet, their unfailing faith led many of their people to Christ. They were amazing men of faith.

There is one particularly great moment when King Lamoni's father commands Lamoni to slay Ammon because Ammon is the descendant of Nephi, "a liar." Lamoni refuses, and Lamoni's father, in anger, tries to slay Lamoni. Ammon prevents Lamoni's death by holding Lamoni's father by the sword. King Lamoni's father then says
If thou wilt spare me I will grant unto thee whatsoever thou wilt ask, even to half of my kingdom.
Carter always laughs over that scripture, "So if Ammon had asked for 3/4 of his kingdom he would have said, 'Uh, no. Just slay me then.'?" But fast forward two chapters. Ammon teaches King Lamoni's father about the plan of salvation and King Lamoni's father says
What shall I do that I may have this eternal life of which thou hast spoken? Yea, what shall I do that I may be born of God, having this wicked spirit rooted out of my breast, and receive the Spirit, that I may be filled with joy, that I may not be cast off at the last day? Behold, said he, I will give up all that I possess, yea, I will forsake my kingdom, that I may receive this great joy.
 Isn't that beautiful? King Lamoni's father is only willing to give up half of his kingdom for his life but his whole kingdom to be born again. He realizes that eternal life is more precious than anything in this world, even his life. Not only did he realize that, but he lived it! What a hero.

Friday, November 29, 2013

What We Are Up To

My favorite picture of Carter and his favorite picture of me. #hottiez

If you are wondering what we are up am I (lame joke). There should be a college class called 'Making Life Decisions' where someone (not me) plans out your life decisions for you and then everything goes according to plan. That's the hard part really: having everything go according to plan. So far Carter and I are only slightly above putting all our life choices in a throwback MASH game and letting fate decide.

This post is probably only as relevant as November 24th 2013 because we change our minds literally everyday. Not an exaggeration.

Carter is both the smartest and the craziest person I know. He'll be graduating in April 2015 with a double major in Math and Economics AND a double minor in Computer Science and Statistics. After that he's leaving reality forever to get a PhD in Finance, preferably at MIT, Stanford, Harvard, or University of Chicago, in that order. I'm rooting for Stanford because CALIFORNIA. Carter's very lofty ambitions make me very happy but also a little sad because it means we'll probably be living in East Coast apartments forever (also not an exaggeration). When I told this to a lady in my ward, she told me that they lived at Wymount for 7 years and loved it!!!

I'm currently working as a Teaching Assistant for a boy's group home and I love it! Originally, I took this job even though it's only part time because I was planning to get a Secondary Science Teaching License in Utah but...well, see above. Between my graduation last April and now, my plans have oscillated like a yo-yo, though now I've settled on getting a second Bachelors degree from BYU-Idaho online in Web Design and Development! Not very many people I know think this is a great idea and even part of me thinks I should grow up and get a real job at a bank or insurance company. I'm set on it, though, mostly because it feels so right. And 'feeling right' has to count for something?

After almost 6 months of investigating different web design/web development programs, I thought it wasn't in the cards. "Oh well, maybe someday when Carter is a university professor," I thought. I even enrolled and paid tuition at Utah Valley University, but withdrew a month later because the whole situation felt all wrong. AND THEN at church I saw an ad for the BYU-I online program. It was inexpensive and timely and even BETTER than all the other expensive programs I had looked at. Unlike my short time as as student of UVU, everything came along smoothly and I'm starting Winter Semester 2014 and hopefully finishing Spring 2015!

The need for this degree mostly comes from a need for a marketable skill that I could support our 4 imaginary children with. Unfortunately, neuroscience is totally NOT useful unless you are going to medical/dental school and I am not. Carter and I attend a family ward where I visit teach 4 ladies with my two companions. GET THIS: All of the women I visit teach AND my companions have non-traditional family situations. One lady was in a car accident where her husband and son were killed, leaving her with 6 (or 5?) young children and disabled legs. She's now much older and lives with her best friend and daughter and grandchildren who both work to support them. Another lady is married to a man disabled by short term memory loss fifteen years ago. She works to support them, her son, her mother, and her brother. The third lady went through 2 divorces years ago leaving her to care for 2 year-old daughter alone. And that's JUST the ladies we visit teach! We don't even live in a low income area (fairly mid-range)! I mean, is this a sign from the universe?? Should I be concerned?!

Carter says:
I ate carots all day long. That's when my dog ate chicken nuggets and french fries and boom, the cheese balls came out of nowhere. Very fun and awesome. I love duckies too. plug the burger are nice and then the dragon ate my green apple, and i was like what, apples come in green? I love wood that smokes bacon. Salmon is weird stuff, sometimes they are fishies and sometimes salmon is a kind of food served in restaurants and I was like, what? crazy. Deep frying turkies is crazy. Notra Dame is crazy and I don't know what to do about it.

See what I mean? He's totally nuts.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Interesting Conversation Starters

Before I married Carter, I HATED dating. I mean, I know I didn't spend that much time dating because I was married fairly young, but it pretty much sucked the whole time I was doing it. At the time, I pretended like I liked it because, well, what else was I going to do? It's the kind of thing you can't escape when you're at BYU. Every conversation revolves around it. And if you're not talking about boys, it's because you're on a date with a boy and you're making boring small talk instead. I remember just craving real, significant conversation. I had some great friends that gave me that kind of mental stimulation but, still, the majority of time was devoted to he-likes-her, she-like-him.

Now that I'm married I don't have to talk about things I don't want to talk about. Haha! We don't talk about dating, we don't make boring small talk, and we say exactly what we think (mostly me)! At least with each other, Carter and I are both fairly good conversationalists, but considering we spend every spare moment together it's good for us to read separately. Carter reads the news and science fiction, while I read non-fiction and blogs haha.

So maybe this isn't a list of party ice-breakers, per say, but it IS a list of great conversational material for that person who lets you talk about what you want to talk about.

The Matt Walsch's blog. He addresses so many everyday issues pertinent to our society and in such a well-stated, slightly-rantish way. I love it. Specifically, I love this article  called, Stop calling your wife 'the boss'. 
This three-part series on feminism in america called Makers: Women Who Make America. I loved part I and part III but part II has some parts you'll probably want to skip over. The series really helped me understand that some not so great things came out of the feminist movement - like increased sexualization of women and the decreased importance of family in society - while at the same time, lots of other great things came about because of the feminist movement - including increased female achievement, decreased tolerance of domestic abuse, and greater male participation in family. If you watch this, you should talk to me about it! 
This article about pro-choicers becoming pro-lifers. It's a serious issue and everyone should spend serious time thinking about what they believe. The below picture is not propaganda but the facts of a 22-week abortion.

Lies My History Teacher: Everything Your American History Textbook Got Wrong. In it, James Loewen emphasizes the "dark side" of American history that is often misrepresented in textbooks. I'm always quoting this book to Carter. The book stresses the importance of reading history with a critical view and I think the same is true of his version of history. I think it's a fascinating book but I would recommend reading it with a grain of salt! 
And finally I'd recommend this interesting TED talk called How to Live to be 100+. It's completely relatable to everyone human and I've been surprised how often I can bring it up in casual conversation and not be weird.
I would love to talk to anyone about any of these links. In fact, it might be nice to occasionally talk to someone else besides Carter :)

Friday, November 22, 2013

Mormon Questions: Special Underwear

Carter and I at a rock climbing gym due to some very kind relatives. And, yes, we are wearing garments :)

One of the reasons I really wanted to do this series was so that I could figure out the best explanations to give other people about what I believe. All the questions I'm going to address are ones I've personally been asked and most of them are also questions that I felt I answered inadequately. Instead of feeling like I had clearly and succinctly explained what I believed and why I believed it,  I often felt that I had rambled on incoherently, only confirming what they already thought: Mormons are weird.

The first time I was asked about "special underwear" I was totally taken aback. I had no idea what he was talking about! The questioner was an acquaintance during high school and he had a perfect understanding of everything Mormons believe because he had been to one of those anti-mormon classes his church held (sarcasm). He rambled on about it for several minutes before I put it all together. He was referring, of course, to temple garments.

You can make anything sound odd, if explained in an odd way, and it's the same with garments. So you've heard that we have holy underwear! And that we have to wear it at all times including sex and showers (Carter's gotten this one before). Oh and haven't you heard that garments are even bulletproof? Well, I'm sorry to say folks, that we are all not as exotic as your pastor would have you believe.

Like many religions, we too have outward symbols of our inward commitment to follow the Savior. Jews wear tassels (tzitzit), Catholics wear crosses, and Mormons wear garments. It is a personal reminder to live righteously. We believe that the garment is protective in that God protects and blesses us when we follow his commandments and keep our covenants. We wear our garments with devotion in connection to our devotion to Christ, meaning we wear our garments as much as possible, though not all the time (as in, not during sex, swimming, exercising, and showering!!!).

If you want a more in-depth examination of temple garments, I would look at this article.

Don't you think this is just the weirdest question? Where do people get this stuff?

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Hermana Landon

Hermana Landon with the Villarruels and miscellaneous missionaries.

Missionary letters are great and all, but do you ever feel like it's hard to follow all the simultaneous story lines? I'm always wondering "What happened to so-and-so?" and "Who is that person again?" When I clawed (clawed? what the...) through all of Alexa's past emails for the Best of Hermana Landon, I started piecing the puzzle together.  From her emails (copied and pasted - all errors are her's), I give you the inspiring story of the Villarruels family.

I'm so thankful for this opportunity to serve and run every morning at presidents orders (Ed. note: All the missionaries are required to run for thirty minutes in the morning for exercise). He's promised us a better mission if we do the things he asks. I'm learning exact obedience even in the things we think don't matter is important.
Commandments and "rules" are just an opportunity to to receive blessings.
Weeks later...
We found this one family by Gods wonderful had one morning while running. We always change our route for safety and one morning I had no Idea where i wanted to run so we picked a random turn and sister Eastman had a thought to go talk to a man I barely noticed raking the patch of grass/sidewalk <-- ! in front of his yard. Haha it was so funny but, we ran back and half out of breath told him we were missionaries and asked if we could come talk with him another time. And you guessed it(good job).... He (Antonio)said yes! We came back that Saturday he told us he'd be home and they fed us and we only had time to do that and get to know them a bit. We brought his wife flowers from a church mothers-day activity they couldn't make it to and kept trying to catch them at a good time to teach but it wasn't happening.
We decided we were gonna show up at their house yesterday and try and get a ride with them to a "Why I Believe?" talk president was giving at the Visitors Center behind the temple. Antonio and his wife came! and afterwards met the bishop and a awesome family from the ward and president talked to them and told them to go to church and take the sacrament - because it's the most important thing - and other wonderful things. Antonio and his wife were telling everyone they think of us as their children since they don't have any and they adore us. Antonio told us that the morning we found him he usually goes to work at 6 but that morning they told him hi didn't have to come in until 8 for some reason so he decided to do some yard-work. He recognized it was not a coincidence that we met him which is what I told him that morning without knowing that story. I love them so much Bishop kept telling me they are gonna get baptized quick. I completely planing on going back after the mission to come to their sealing! 
Several weeks later...
We've also been trying for forever and have been working so hard to get the Villarruels to come to church but Antonio just wouldn't and especially after that last time he told me to stop asking him that made me kinda mad. I was really frustrated wondering how can we get him to come if he says he wants to but He doesn't know when and even president baker had told him a bit more than a month ago to go to church and take the sacrament. WHY wont he just come we invite and he really is sincere that he want's to come to see how the church is but he doesn't know when?!...... I just kept praying for patience and that they would come. AND THEN!
Sunday they came!!! I texted them in the morning to invite them to FHE monday and wish them a good week but they never replied. So I sat still in church - my companion asking me if they said they were coming --  just Praying they would come at least for the next week. And in the middle of the hymn in they walked.
I couldn't hold my emotions so I sat there so happy - tears running down my face - that now he had decided he would come with his wife and feel the spirit.
I could only think in little more than a year they will have a full opportunity to be sealed in the temple and know the true joy the gospel brings!
He told us he didn't know church was 3 hours so next Sunday he would make more time to come. I'm so happy they're progressing!
The next week...
The Villaruels came for all of church and really loved it. Antonio talked with bishop and told him he feels like he's finally found peace! We're working really hard at getting them friends so that when we get transferred or change they wont be sad. They are so excited to learn! But Antonio is still super resistant to making commitments. He just wants to do it on his own and not because we tell him to. I tried to explain it's not what we're asking it's what God is asking and setting Goals (like a baptismal date) helps us to work towards something. I'm pretty sure he understands. He basically just wants to surprise everyone with his own accomplishments. He did commit to stop drinking!
A couple of weeks after that...
So this last week we set a baptismal date with the Villarruel! Oh my goodness I was so happy. When we went to their house last night with a family from the ward Antonio said he would commit to baptism, They really want to be and they've made their decision, but he wants to go to a baptism first, to be able to feel more comfortable at their own. Bummer they are only ever on sundays! But during the lesson I got a really calming feeling that everything will be just great. So they will be baptized in 2 weeks hopefully.
I love them so much my heart is filled with the most joy I have ever felt when I am with them teaching and especially during our last lesson. I couldn't hold back my smile! I Just want to tell everyone how wonderful they are and how much they've changed! It's a miracle of God. This is his work and he loves his children so much he has given us everything we need to return to live again with him and our families through the true and full gospel of Jesus Christ. 
A couple weeks and a transfer later...
Just got moved out of my first area for the first time! It was so hard but the lord is blessing us in this new area! it's really wonderful, I wish you all could know. We've Had a huge miracle everyday! I've been a little sick lately but sister Zollinger has been so understanding. She's a doll. Super awesome missionary from north Dakota! We're getting baptisms left and right here! It's going so good! I was able to go to the Villarruel's baptism last Sunday in my last zone. It was so great! They were so cute and happy! I'll send pictures next week. Well in one year from August 25th I plan on coming back to go through the temple and see them be sealed!!! 

Friday, November 15, 2013

Missing This Cute Girl

sooo revealing of our personalities. Amanda, you're the boring angel
Alexa has been serving a spanish-speaking mission in the California Los Angeles Mission for the past 10 months. I can't say how proud I am of her! Missions are hard work and require a lot of sacrifice, so we are all very impressed. I 've loved seeing her mature through her letters. So that you all can see it too, I've collected the Best of Hermana Landon:
Oh hello sillies!!! Tell me about what's going on with work and school? did you draw any cool pictures at work Dad? Did mom buy any more pictures? haha my hermanas in mi distrito always threaten to send mom pictures of what I eat whenever I eat jello or a cookie. I tell them mom would never send me cookies or sweets in a package. She would send me an empty box! They think Mom is so funny from what I say! Everyone loves me? well everyone loves mom! (Ed. note: Everyone loves mom - slogan of my high school career)
Funny story about me. it was like Dumb and Dumber and the christmas story when i tried to eat a orange dream bar the other week. I had heard the ice cream bars can get so cold your tounge will freeze but I had thought my tounge wouldn't be a victim. So I went for a great big lick and BOOM! I was stuck.....Forever! I began to panic and tried to remove my tounge and notify my companion, but all of the elders in our district we sit by saw me and started laughing. I was laughing so hard/ crying wondering why I had been so prideful and dumb. I drooled and counldn't focus on getting un stuck. Everyone was shoving juice and milk for me to pour over my tounge but it would have spilled all over me! I finally pulled it off. My tounge was frozen for a long time after. 
 I get what people mean when they say they're not sure what language they were taught in the MTC, but it wasn't the mission language. It's hard to figure out what the latinos are saying, I understand a lot of words, it just goes by so quickly I don't get main point of what they said. Sister Curtis is SUPER helpful in teaching me. She will only speak to me in Spanish and if I don't understand she is so willing to repeat until I do. Yesterday I told her most of the time I only get half of what she says. So this morning in spanish she said to me "Are you going to keep pretending you know what I am saying" and of course I responded with a "yes" to what I didn't understand. She puts a lot of responsibility on me, but always bails me out when I need it. 
I Know God leads us to everyone in our path. We hand out copies of the Book Of Mormon like candy out here. If it starts out in the wrong hands it will end up in the right ones sooner or later.
An elder shared with me a poem about missionary life and it was hilarious how true it was. It said something about being on a mission you really do feel the happiest and the saddest, you've never before met so many crazy people and so many wonderful people. You never feel so forsaken and never so loved and comforted. You've never worked so hard and still felt like you've been lazy. You've never wanted to go home so bad and wanted to stay more than ever.
My comp and I were laughing about how every RM tells the best stories about miracles and awesome things that happen and make it sound like they happen all the time, but in reality they don't. It's hard every day our numbers sometimes show 0 success, so why am I so happy? Why do we feel so accomplished? For some reason- by the mercies of Heavenly Father- it's always worth it. At the end of the day we didn't get any lessons, I feel so worn out, but I think about all the people we talked to and how happy I felt with them and my companions.
We almost have 5 missionaries from our Spanish ward! That's so many! we hear things about there being about there being 50,000 then it's 60,000 and then 70,000! This must be the work of God or half of the things we do and half the work we put in would never turn out well or work. Everyday is a testimony to me. If this wasn't the true work of God I wouldn't be here anymore. This is way too hard to be a fun volunteer summer experience. I can't understand why I am so happy when I am so tired everyday and the night goes by way to quickly.
These people are worth it. I love every one of them!
I've been struggling in the work and fighting to be the consecrated missionary I want to be. It's been hard talking to people and loosing them. Sometimes I feel like I'm at my end. Like nothing I do will help anyone. But the atonement is real. Christ suffered alone. But I am not alone. He carries me every time I feel so bad. And He's always with me any other time. He loves me and I love him. That's why I'm still here working. Salvation is personal. But everyone needs it.
I have felt like the lord has bless me with the opportunity to help a lot of people be baptized, and with all the love I can feel, just lift my heart! but Now I feel I am at a point where I don't need that to feel happy. I am seeing myself change and become more like Christ. I am seeing my desires change. I am seeing sharing the gospel in even a more different way. A better way. The best way. There is no greater blessing than to use your whole heart everyday to help people understand clearly the restored Gospel of Jesus Christ, and if they choose, accept it. We can do it on missions, we can do it as parents, we can do it with our friends/neighbors.
We gave a church tour to a man who said he wanted to learn more about the book of mormon and what it is...He understood he felt that it was truth and said he would pray to ask God if it was true. That was one of the first times especially that I felt I taught so simply they understood right away what we meant and the spirit confirmed the truth so strongly. it all rests on clarity and simplicity and telling them the pure truth so they can make the ful decision on their own to find out for themselves.
I have continually moved forward through my mission. I have given up all I was before to be new and better and more like christ. I has been such a challenge that I would never before have overcome or even began but My father has helped me. He is always there for me. He has always loved me.  

Thursday, November 14, 2013

I was a terrible person yesterday

I read this story on a friend's blog and it got me thinking, do I help people out of pity and moral obligation rather than love, too?
I was finished grocery shopping at Winco and in the process of loading my car when a man and his 9-year-old son approached me. He had to ask 3 times for money for the Frontrunner before I understood his question. Knowing the money was most likely not for the Frontrunner, I uncomfortably replied that I was unsure if I was carrying any cash but I would check. I gave him the ten I found in my wallet but added, “Here, next time just don’t take your son.” I said that. Can you believe I SAID THAT? Not only was I uncommonly rude, but I openly judged him. No disciple of Christ should ever act like I did.
 Sure I gave the man some money, but I gave it with pity and judgment rather than love. Why was I so uncomfortable anyway? Isn’t he a son of God too? Shouldn’t I be happy to help?  I should have given him money and then offered them a ride. I should have asked if they needed anything else I could give. I could have shown him Christian love and then shared the gospel. Instead I totally botched the whole situation, and turned my back on that man and I turned my back on God, who might have sent him to me for help.
 I’ve repented but, unfortunately, there are just some things I will always regret.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Do You Want to See Some Bridals?

Do you wanna?

Unsurprisingly, I'm much less obsessed with wedding pictures now that I have some of my own. It's a tragedy really, because I end up never looking at mine. We did have beautiful formals, but I wish they had been a little more Pacific Northwest giant pines and a little less Utah sagebrush. They have a very editorial feel, though.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Mormon Questions: Young Married Mormons

Carter and I in front of the Salt Lake Temple a month before we were married there.
A while ago I read this post called How to Train A Mormon and I haven't been able to get the topic out of my head since. In the post, the author explains that when she was young and naive she expected people outside of Utah to ask questions about her "glowing light" and why she was so happy. Instead, she was surprised to face questions more like, "Why don't you drink coffee?" and "Why do you wait to have sex until marriage?" In the article, the author goes on to talk about obedience and why mormons aren't weird and yada yada.

The article got me thinking though, what questions am I asked about Mormonism and how do I answer?  So I'm making this into a series of posts titled: Mormon Questions. I'm hoping there is a little of something for everyone. If you've ever been asked an unexpected question about Mormonism and answered well, or even not-so-well, then please share your experiences! If you are a Mormon but you've never lived in an area where Mormons are a novelty, then maybe you've never encountered such questions before. However, chances are you will someday! If you are not a Mormon but have unanswered question about what exactly Mormons believe, then maybe I'll be able to answer a few.

So, no. 1 on the list is : "Why do Mormons get married so young?"

I'm not sure if it's because I am recently married (10 months) or what but, surprisingly, this THE most-asked question by my friends and random strangers.

The answer is that there are likely many reasons why, but my favorite reason is because we believe that family is most important in this life. To us, families are a priority, and, consequently, there is no reason (including career goals) to put off having one. I usually throw in there that it isn't a church policy; no one is dictating that we get married and have babies before 25. Sometimes I even joke(dryly) about BYU: "When you throw a bunch of 20-something kids together all thinking about marriage, some of them are bound to go through with it."

I think most people think marrying so young is naive. I was married fairly young, and likely naively, but, like most Christians, we believe that God helps two imperfect people come together to have a perfect marriage.

My least favorite answer to this question is: "Because we don't believe in sex before marriage." It makes all Mormons sound like sex-deprived zombies. Sure, it's true that we believe in abstinence before marriage, but no sane individual gets married just for sex. It may be a component of a desire for marriage but more like a top 100 reason and not a top 5. So maybe don't include this in a conversation about Mormons. PLEASE.

So what do you guys think? Really, truly, I'm very interested to see how you answer this question!

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Everyone needs to sign this petition NOW

I mean, only if you care about the future of your children and country. Require Porn to be an "Opt In" feature with Internet Service Providers rather than a standard feature. Sign here please.

From the petitioners:

In its current state, Internet porn seeks out users by email solicitations and massive amounts of free content throughout Internet browser searches. The average person, even children, can type in the word "cat" or "home" or "soup" and instantly be inundated with offensive and disturbing pornographic images. Parents and individuals have to go to great lengths to install Internet filters that often don't weed out all porn. We are asking for greater protection and responsibility from Internet Service providers and our country. We are asking that people who are interested in porn should have to seek it and choose it. They should have to "Opt In" for it by making arrangements to receive it with their Internet Service Provider. Everyone else should be free from it and assumed "Opt Out".

Be like Britain! Sign this petition!(see what I did there?)

Blogger Love

I discovered blogs about three years ago via my friend, Amelia, and I love them. Readily accessible and relevant reading material from friends and even famous bloggers? What's not to love? What I'm less willing to admit is that I read A LOT of them. Lots and lots of blogs and yet I still want more! More and MORE. So I'm going to share some of my favorite reads in the hopes that you'll share some of your picks. Pretty please?
Joanna Goddard at A CUP of JO is a classic. She's a magazine writer, turned blogger and has entertaining material everyday, sometimes several times a day. I have a feeling we'd be best friends in real life. 
Jenny Komenda at Little Green Notebook is a design genius. On her blog she gives great design inspiration and DIYs that make great interior decorating seem attainable.
Sydney Poulton at The Daybook started out as a fashion blogger but has since expanded her blog to include more of a lifestyle aspect. I love her beautifully written musings and her adorable little boy. 
Lizzie B. at Cotton and Curls is a DIY fashionista. Her blog includes sewing tutorials and brilliant up-cycles. Check out where she up-cycled a pair of grandma pants into high waisted beauties. I use her for all my sewing needs. 
Anna Dorfman at Door Sixteen makes me want to rip up all our floors and take on house renovations that I am wholly unqualified to start. She, too, is a designer with a rocking-London design style. 
Allie at Hyperbole and a Half writes about hilarious life-stories accompanied by Microsoft Paint illustrations. She addresses diverse topics such as childhood misconeptions, stupid dogs, and depression. 
Lindsay at Pinch of Yum has THE food blog to read. Not only does she share incredible recipes, she produces a food photography book, and talks about all the ins and outs of food blogging, trade secrets most bloggers are unwilling to doll out.

So what are your blog favorites?