A little tithing miracle

January 29, 2007

It’s not like we were destitute or anything.  Just car repairs that left us without transportation and cut our savings by 1/4 so far. 

We paid tithing yesterday at church.  I never miss it.  I feel strongly (meaning I feel that I’ve been told in a indescribable way) that the tithing we’ve paid in the past has contributed greatly to the current state of awesome we live in now. 

Today I had my third interview with the boss at Northwestern Mutual.  He offered me the internship.  Before he offered the internship he offered me his car to use for a couple of weeks while mine’s getting fixed. 

So now I’m driving around in the boss’s nice old luxury sedan.  I guess I kinda have to take the job now, despite my doubts.  (insert internet smily face to indicate joking tone)

-Greg

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The montly update, sir.

January 25, 2007

I haven’t written in here for a while, so I thought I had better update. 

Classes are going okay.  I’m staying on top of the homework for the most part.  Statistics isn’t nearly as difficult as I feared it would be.  Sometimes I even enjoy it.

My teeth are slowly decaying.  I have a great need to visit a dentist, but I haven’t got any insurance.  The expense of dental care astounds me.  Maybe I could take a trip to Taiwan and get the super inexpensive dental care there.

Sunday night we were on our way back from kanab.  Somewhere along the black ridge the battery light came on.  I assumed it was the alternator that had gone out and decided we had better try to see if we could make it home.  We ended up losing power and coasting off at the kolob canyon exit (number 40).  The car wouldn’t start.  My friendly neighborhood mechanics tell me it’s probably a busted head gasket.  The car may be repairable, but maybe not.  It’s now Thursday and there’s still no word back.  Blaine has been the chauffeur for the family since then, driving us around town at all hours of the day.

Tonight I will make some delicious dinner for Kayeleen and Blaine to celebrate their birthdays.  (His last friday, hers tomorrow.) 

We continue with pre-natal classes every Wednesday night.  It’s both fun and nerve-wracking.  Pregnancy is a fun idea.  Babies are fun in the abstract – but the actual delivery and subsequent lifetime of care required tends to be sobering on occasion.

I’m applying for an internship with Northwestern Mutual Financial Group.  I have one more interview (the third) to go to next week.  Then we’ll see.  I see it as a great opportunity, and pretty intimidating.

My “methods of teaching seminary” class is very fun and exciting.  I still would like to be a seminary teacher, given the opportunity.  Statistically, however, it’s not likely.  But I keep praying.

Personal scripture study has been less than acceptable recently.  I think I’ll take some time today and try to do a serious study session.  We’ll see how it goes. 

Thus is life as of late.  I worry I’ve bitten off more than I can chew, but I’m not afraid.

Object lessons

January 25, 2007

I learned a great lesson today.  The lesson was this:  When teaching, the principle must determine the lesson, not the other way around.  

There’s been a lot of times when I’ve taught, especially in church, and I think of a great way to teach the lesson or an object lesson that I think would be really cool – and then I let that define the course of the message.  I don’t know why.  I guess that it has something with that desire for the student to feel entertained and feel the lesson was memorable. 

Brother Eastmond shared about how he and many other seminary teachers have encountered students who say “I still remember that lesson where we…” and they talk about the object lesson.  The teacher then asks, “Do you remember what the lesson was on?” 

“Well, no… But it was really cool!”

Even object lessons that fit really well the story in scripture and the principles revealed in them, it may be hard for the students to remember what the principle was. 

As for me,  I have a hard time thinking of oringinal object lessons.  But I suppose it’s a skill that comes with time.

CactusWell, it’s the end of the first day of 2007.  I want to go back and look at all the things that have happened to me during the past year or so.  I think this has been one for my personal record books.

In January I was living with Elder Liu, a native missionary, in Wanhua.  Wanhua is one of the oldest parts of Taipei and pretty run-down and slummy.  It hadn’t baptized in about a year.  When I arrived there I was plagued with the question of “What do I do with the 12 weeks remaining to me?”

The things accomplished in the last 2 months I spent in taiwan seemed to fill a whole year of life for me.  The move into Wanhua marked the final change into the missionary I always wanted to be but didn’t know how to be.  I learned how to enjoy life all the time no matter what we were doing.  I learned how to have vision.  I made goals based on my work and faith in the lord and saw them come to pass in astounding detail.  My prayers became more powerful than ever – It was rare to not receive an immediate answer to prayer.  My heart felt so full every day that I finally understood what Alma meant when he wished to be an angel – not focusing on what he wished he could be, but focusing on how badly he wished he could do more!  I embraced and rejoiced in the sappy missionary mentality – praising god and acting happy all the time.  It was amazing.  I learned what it is that makes heaven so wonderful and desirable.  I learned how to love more deeply than I ever believed possible.  I received answers to questions very distinctly.  I received blessings I didn’t think I deserved.

3 stories of blessings:

1.  Got a letter with bad news in it.  I offered up a silent but heartfelt prayer as how to act – should I spend the remaining time that day writing back?  Should I fight?  Should I give up?  The answer came immediately and clearly:  Ignore it.

All worked out better than I could have hoped.

2.  It looked like our only chance for baptism in the Wanhua area was going to fall through.  Once again, standing in a crowd looking to me for an answer I prayed silently and quickly for aid with these words:  “What would you have me do?”  The answer came instantly and unmistakably.  A miracle occurred and our friend was baptized my last day on the island of Taiwan.   (Note:  Also my last day on taiwan I read a report of all the baptisms from that weekend and found that one of my very first investigators from my very first areas finally got baptized.)

3.  Elder Holland, an ordained apostle, visited several missions while passing through asia.  The weeks before he arrived in our mission I decided to pray for an answer to a question or problem to come through his preaching to us or through inspiration to me while he spoke.  But I didn’t know what to ask for.  Finally I went to the Lord, somewhat ashamed at being so selfish but unable to think of anything else and asked “Please let him speak about what to do to prepare to go home or what a missionary ought to do once he’s home.”  When Elder Holland spoke to our mission he went on for 20 minutes right at the beginning about going home from the mission.  My mission president later revealed to me that Elder Holland hadn’t talked on that subject at all at any of the other missions he visited.   The subjects and revelations of that talk have been with me and influenced me the whole year since.

The last 2 months of my mission were so overwhelmingly good that I can’t think back on that time without excitement and wonder.  I wonder what happened with the area and the investigators.  I am amazed and overwhelmed with memories of the experiences and feelings and people.

Enough.  I gush.

I returned home at the beginning of March.  I met my new brother-in-law and immediately felt comfortable with him.  I spent some time at home but after just a week or so felt pretty ansy and ready to be active in doing something.  I applied to SUU and BYU, determined to move as soon as I got an answer.

I was soon rejected from BYU and by my ex girlfriend.  I returned to Cedar City to work and to attend school.  A great confidence boost came as I returned to my old workplace, Applebees, and found that they remembered me and that the general manager was willing to hire me “in an instant.”  I had been feeling a little less than confident.

Some old relationships were re-forged.  Some were cut off entirely.  I found myself mostly alone most of the time, but okay with it.

I soon managed to convince my old girlfriend that she needed to date me.  It wasn’t long after that that I convinced her she needed to marry me.  The decision was made to stay in town so that I could graduate from college (hopefully to come), thus putting her graduate school on hold.

In July we got married in the St. George temple.  It was life altering but in a surreal kind of way.  We fell into the habits and lifestyle of marriage so easily that we wondered if we might be doing something wrong.  The marriage feels as if it’s been going on for a long time and yet it’s hard to believe it’s been 6 months already.

Neither of us were inclined to wait for children, but we were both pretty surprised at how fast Kayeleen got pregnant.  In a strange twist of math, the baby’s due date is 2 days before our 9 month anniversary.  Watching the baby (and my wife) grow has been an exciting and, again, surreal experience.

In the mean time I was back in school with a new major – communication.  The summer semester went great, then the fall semester seemed like a horrible dragging weight by comparison.  I still managed to get A’s and B’s out of all of my classes, gradually pulling up my GPA.

I also found and sold an expensive microphone, giving us some financial padding and tempting me to try the ol’ “buy and sell on ebay” trick – but I found I was the recipient of a one-time blessing and have since been the target of scams and lowball offers on anything else I try to sell.

I think it should be noted that the most influential event so far has been the mission.  It has impacted every aspect of my life since – decision to marry, choices in friends, work ethic, school decisions, career decisions, and daily habits.   My sincere recommendation to anybody who hasn’t gone is to go and go now.

I’m sure there’s more to tell about the year, but what it is I can’t remember at the moment.

-Greg