a collection of certainly special, uniquely unusual, and equally momentous thoughts: memoirs of me

Sunday, November 30, 2014

President Eyring at the Vatican

In a world where popular opinion and culture try to quiet truth and righteousness, it can be hard to know where to turn for truth and right. Truth can be hard to recognize in a world so noisy and polarized with opinions and so swayed by moral relativism.

President Eyring was invited to speak at the Vatican several weeks ago for a colloquium about the Complimentarity of Men and Women. This event and his remarks went by and large unnoticed to most of the world. They didn't know it was happening. They didn't listen.

But what he said I believe in strongly. His words are important. They are sound and they are true.

Speaking about his relationship with his beloved wife, he said, "Most remarkable to me has been the fulfillment of the hope I felt the day I met my wife...We have been complementary beyond anything I could have imagined....I realize now that we grew together into one - slowly lifting and shaping each other, year by year. As we absorbed strength from each other, it did not diminish our personal gifts.

Our difference combined as if they were designed to create a better whole. Rather than dividing us, our differences bound us together. Above all, our unique abilities allowed us to become partners with God in creating human life."

There are turbulent times ahead - times when each of us is going to have to decide where we stand and how we're going to defend ourselves and our church. I hope to always be able to speak to marriage and family like President Eyring has done. This I know to be true, that man and woman are here for each other and there will be no greater happiness than nurturing a marriage relationship.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

20 years

Twenty years ago yesterday I was baptized a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

November 5th, 1994

I don't remember much about that day except that my feet were cold during the program, the suit I wore was thick, white, and stiff, and that I was worried about not sinning right after I was dunked.

For a long time I was worried about my fading baptismal memories. It seemed like everyone else could perfectly picture all the details about their day but for me it's just a faint blur with a few somewhat clearer memories. I know that my dad was the one that baptized me but I don't actually remember stepping into the font with him. I know that there were a handful of other kids getting baptized that day but I don't remember who any of them were. I know that I was upset that I had to wait all the way till November to get baptized because my birthday is the last day of September which means the first weekend of October is General Conference and no baptizing happens during General Conference. These are all the memories I have left of November 5, 1994.

However, I do have memories of other special baptisms in my life and those have helped to augment my own baptismal day.

I do remember the first time I got to go the Mt. Timpanogos temple to do baptisms for the dead. My dad also went with me then and I can remember getting into the font with him that time. We left my house at 4:30 am to do baptisms before school and even at that hour my dad got up and dressed in a crisp, white shirt and nice suit coat. He has always been handsome and still is.

I do remember my first baptism on my mission - a convert named Lettie who is still the one I keep in closest contact with. She was and is still an angel and serves in the Primary presidency in her ward. I barely spoke Spanish then but she still loved me and was patient as I practiced. She calls me her sister.

I remember the baptism of Eric who decided that he was ready after years and years of investigating and dozens of sets of missionaries teaching him. I take no credit at all for that one. Eric is the product of generations of missionaries coming into his home, I just got to be the lucky one to be there when he finally pulled the trigger. 

I do remember the Quiztian Family - all 11 of them. Finding and teaching them was one of the greatest privileges of my mission. All 11 eventually got baptized and that day was the closest thing to heaven, seeing a sea of white and knowing the veil was thin.

I do remember one of the best days of my life when Alejandro got baptized. His baptism means more to me than just about anything else. Seeing him enter the font, his hands shaking, and that twinkle in his eyes was more than I could have ever hoped for. That is the single greatest moment of happiness I have ever experienced. 

And I do remember Maria's baptism on the last night of my mission. I knew at the beginning of that transfer that there was one last person waiting for me to find them, I could just feel it. The next day we found Maria. She was oh so special. I could not have asked for a better ending to 18 long months of hard work than seeing this sweet woman get baptized. Many tears were shed as I realized that my mission was coming to an end the next day. My heart was being left in TX with all these souls who shared a part of my being. 

No, I don't remember my own baptism 20 long years ago but that's alright because when I think of baptism I think of Alejandro, Maria, all the Quiztians, and the dozen others I got to be there for on their most special day.

Monday, October 20, 2014

This city wears me out in a good way

After a two and a half year hiatus from the Big Apple, Whitney and I planned a trip up to The City while her brothers were in town this last weekend. It was a whirlwind of a weekend and jam packed with all things New York.

I'm so exhausted but the trip was so worth it. 

Here's a recap:

 Made it to Times Square!

 Stardust Diner - the food = sub-par. The servers that sing Broadway while you eat = worth the sub-par food. As our server was dropping off our check she grabbed my hand and commented on the tiny CTR engraved ring that no one ever notices. "We pegged you guys the second you walked in," she said. Come to find out she graduated from BYU and grew up in AZ. Always nice to find Mormons everywhere. 


Staten Island Ferry with Manhattan in the background

First time at the 9/11 Memorial and I was very impressed. What a stunning and moving memorial!  

Freedom Tower from the bottom 

 We didn't want to pay to go to the top of the Empire State so the lobby was good enough

Seeing A Gentleman's Guide to Love and Murder for the first time. This play won the Tony for best musical in 2014 and it was awesome. Whit and I got rush tickets and ended up being in box seats which was a first. Loved the play!


Waiting in the freezing cold for rush ticket for Les Miserables. We were the 5th people in line but we had to do it. Ever since I met Whitney and we found out we're both die hard Les Mis fans we've awaited the day when we could see the play in person together. Sitting on the cold cement for two hours was worth it. 

Central Park on a crisp, fall day 

5th row seats! You could almost reach out and touch the actors! Now, I've seen Les Mis more times than I can count but being that close and seeing it on Broadway (the first time in 17 years since I last saw it on Broadway) made me really emotional at the end. I'm not ashamed to say I cried during the last 10 minutes. Also, the Asian women sitting next to us were insane. They asked Whit to take a picture of them and then tried climbing on the stage (English is difficult) and then got yelled at by an usher. "Hey, get off of there!"

Last stop: Top of the Rock - breathtaking 360 degree views even if it felt like Antarctica.  We made it there just during sunset!

1500 miles, 8 states, and 7 new best friends

There are trips that you go on and you almost immediately fall in love with the trip itself. It's something about the location, the people, the stories, the sites and sounds, or the combination of all those things that make that trip truly once-in-a-lifetime and filled with irreplaceable memories. 

I just got back from one such trip. 

My friend Jason Brown and I traveled to Palmyra and Niagara Falls last year and wanted to road trip again this year with one of our destinations being Sharon, VT - the birthplace of Joseph Smith. Back when we started tentatively planning I wasn't even thinking about fall foliage or New England but when we started solidifying plans we both realized we'd be in the Northeast during the peak season of fall colors. It was dreamy and incredibly beautiful. 

First stop: Quechee Gorge, VT

Quechee Gorge was the perfect first place to stop. We went on a tiny hike down to the water, the boys were boys and climbed trees way too high, we took a million pictures (with a million more to come in the next couple of days) and we fell in love with the colors.

Next stop: Sharon, VT - the birthplace of Joseph Smith

We arrived on a brisk, fall morning with the fall colors radiating beautifully around us. The sky was overcast, but as soon as we drove onto the grounds you could feel the Spirit permeating the place.

I was very grateful and humbled to visit the location where Joseph was born. His family toiled to work the land and provide a meager living for their children. They didn't have much but they were God-fearing, diligent, and righteous people. Little did they know how Joseph would change the world forever. 

Next day: Portland Head Light - Cape Elizabeth, ME

Okay, seriously, this place was out of a picture book. The overcast sky filtered out leaving only sun for the rest of the day. This lighthouse is the most photographed in the area and I can see why. It was perfectly picturesque. I could have stayed all day and just wandered around, filling my soul with sun, colors, and happiness. 

Next: Ferry to Peak's Island

There is something about ferries that I just absolutely adore. Maybe it comes from taking the Balboa Island ferry with my family every year we spent at Newport. Maybe it's the wind or the water or docking next to an island. I don't know. But the Peak's Island ferry did not disappoint. For only $7.70 it was worth every penny and then some. Only a short 20 minute ride and we arrived on the island where we walked around looking for ice cream (our search came up fruitless) so we opted to explore the neighborhood and then relax in some lawn chairs and feel the sun on our faces. 

 The houses on this island were TO DIE FOR. This was my personal fave. 

 All the guys fell asleep.

That is the face of pure joy when we finally found a house (a pink one I might add!) and there were red leaves in the yard to toss. Magic.

Last stop: Plymouth, MA - home of Plymouth Rock

There it is! They say this is the rock the pilgrims stepped on when they docked on the American continent for the first time. It looked just like any other rock to me. Cool nonetheless. 

 However, I did find these amazing men funner to look at during the trip than any rock out there. More on them later. 

In three days we drove more than 1500 miles and I became inseparably close to Jason, Ashley, Mitchell, Taryn, Harrison, Erika, and Nate. We were 8 people from different social circles, wards, and backgrounds but I fell in love with all of them. We laughed almost constantly, shared stories about our families and lives, played games, listened to Taylor Swift's "Shake It Off" dozens of times on the radio, navigated new roads and terrain, and become the best of friends - framily as we called it.

Mitchell was the king of one-liners that had us either rolling on the floor laughing or rolling our eyes. Just fyi, he will always volunteer as tribute.

Erika was sensible and flexible and a joy to be around. I love easy-to-be-around people. She was the only one brave enough to order The Peanut Butter thing at the last restaurant we went to....and kind enough to order 8 spoons so we could all have a taste.

Harrison kept it real and always knew the best way to get places. He made us taste a local New Hampshire soda which I don't think we'll ever forget it...even though we're trying. #moxie #industrialsludge

Taryn wanted to go to a Haunted House really bad so she made some phone calls and ended up calling a police station. Google was obviously out of date.

Nate tried his best to outshine the other car with his driving skills. He's a champ for driving a zillion miles and never having a close call. He's also real close to learning a lot of T-Swift lyrics.

Ashley made us look pretty and was the queen of group shots. We will thank her in 20 years for that. She also tried falafel for the first time and found a new love.

Jason was the perfect trip captain, always keeping us on track and on time. He might have accepted a dare by Harrison to drive more than 100 mph on the freeway but don't tell our moms that.

Thanks for a wonderful trip guys!