Monday, November 20, 2017

Hiroshima Peace Memorial

We took a little weekend trip to Hiroshima and visited the Atomic Bomb Dome and Peace Park. The park was beautiful with all the fall leaves and colors. I loved that the focus was on "peace" and honoring the lives of those that died in the Atomic Bomb. 

It was also a really sad and heavy place. . .  It was hard to see the images and read stories from the attack and aftermath years later of the nuclear bomb. It was eye opening and made me at moments sad to be American. I'm grateful though for the peace we have now and friendship, and hope this history never repeats. 


















Monday, October 30, 2017

Book of Mormon: Church Talk & Testimony


This pass weekend was a pretty big weekend for me! I spoke in church. I decided to surprise Riley and not tell him I was speaking… which is a HUGE DEAL and milestone. Every time I have to give a talk or public speak it always is a downward spiral of stress and anxiety. I try to coax Riley to do my talks for me and get sooo sick to my stomach over speaking. He truly becomes my psychiatrist and coach for the last half dozen talks.

BUTTT… I decided not to tell him and then they announced it and he turned to me and was like “What! Did you know??! Are you prepared?!” His face was pretty classic… but I pulled out my written talk and notes and then started to CRY hahhaa… all my built-up anxiety came up at that moment. (We don't sit on the stand when we speak in our ward, just in audience and then go up). 

Luckily, I had a speaker ahead of me to regain my composure and focus on my message and ask for divine assistance in speaking and for the spirit. 

It was a blessing my topic was so good!! The importance of the BOOK OF MORMON:

I wanted to start my talk with a story about my little brother who recently returned home from his mission in Australia a couple months ago. These are his words:

Elder Caden Moncur


About a year into my mission I found myself living in a small town of Australia known as Townsville. This place was known for its blistering hot temperatures and the great views from its beaches and crocodiles. I had been in this area for about 6 months with my companion and we had worked very hard to build up this small branch of the church in which we were a part of. 

One day, in the middle of the transfer, I received a random phone call from the mission president. He informed me that the Lord had a special assignment for me. I was to pack my bags immediately and go jump on an airplane bound for a place named Thursday Island. I did so right away. The last time missionaries served in this area was the before the 1990s. After traveling on 2 airplanes, a bus, and a boat, I arrived to my destination. 



Thursday Island is a tiny little island located in a small group of islands known as the Torres Straight Islands just above Australia and right below Papa New Guinea. The sun was blazing, the air was humid, and the sights were breathtaking. The whole island is 3 1/2 square kilometers or 1.4 square miles. I walked up the Boat dock and met my new companion who had arrived on the island not long before me. He had already secured a place for us to stay in a small apartment. It was no bigger than the size of 2 parking spots put together. It was small, but it was all that we needed. 

We immediately went straight to work. Success fell from heaven like a fire hydrant with no nozzle restraining the water. It wasn't long before everyone on the Island knew who we were. The word gets around fast on an island where you can run the entire perimeter in 30 minutes. Because of travel regulations we were not able to much luggage with us. The small amount of supplies we brought was quickly depleted. 

We had investigators that we were teaching, but we didn't even have a Book of Mormon to give them to read. This was a problem. We spoke with the mission office and asked for them to mail us a box of supplies.

The answer we received was not to our liking. Because of our location being almost 4,000 kilometers away from the mission office and president, the supplies would not arrive on the this remote Island for 3 weeks. 

Teaching without Book of Mormons was hard. We would tell the islanders all about this wonderful candy of a book the Book of Mormon was, and then we would have to deny their requesting to get one because we didn't have any to give out.

We knew that the Lord had sent us here though and had to keep moving forward and prayed that we would be able too.

On one particular day my companion and I were riding some borrowed bikes down the street. We had met an older man earlier in the week and went back to help him in the yard.

He was not a member but very nice, he had asked us to go through an old shed in his backyard and clean it out with him. We would slowly pull items out one by one and he would distinguish what would be kept and what would be thrown away. When we were about halfway through clearing out the packed full shed of mostly junk, my companion and I stumbled across a wooden box.

When the man saw the box he had a look of surprise on his face. He had never seen this item in his life, and he had lived there his entire life! We pulled it out and set the box on the table and dusted off the top of it. It was made of wood and had old rusty silver latches on it. 


The man told us to open it and see what was inside. We undid the latches and came to find the box was completely full of Book of Mormons. The man was confused. He had never heard of this book before. Meanwhile my companion and I were freaking out!! Do we know how the Book of Mormons got there? No, but we know that the Lord has something to do with it. 

We then explained to this man that this is the whole reason that we were there serving missions on this little island in the the middle of no where, where the church virtually did not exist at all prior to our arrival. 

We are here to share this book about Jesus Christ with everyone. It was pretty crazy, he took it as a sign he needs to join the church and start by reading this book.

This story gives me goose-bumps every time I read it!

The Prophet Joseph Smith taught that the Book of Mormon is “the keystone of our religion” On another occasion he stated: “Take away the Book of Mormon and the revelations, and where is our religion? We have none”
I loved the talks from this past general conference! We had some great ones about the importance of the Book of Mormon. President Russell M. Nelson stated:
I testify that the Book of Mormon is truly the word of God. It contains the answers to life’s most compelling questions. It teaches the doctrine of Christ.5 It expands and clarifies many of the “plain and precious”6 truths that were lost through centuries of time and numerous translations of the Bible.
The Book of Mormon provides the fullest and most authoritative understanding of the Atonement of Jesus Christ to be found anywhere. It teaches what it really means to be born again. From the Book of Mormon we learn about the gathering of scattered Israel. We know why we are here on earth. These and other truths are more powerfully and persuasively taught in the Book of Mormon than in any other book. The full power of the gospel of Jesus Christ is contained in the Book of Mormon. Period."  Close Quote.
In 1938 there was a New York City Book Club event, Brother William E. Berrett shared this account:
"It was the New York City Book Club. Their speaker was the Honorable Henry A. Wallace, then Secretary of Agriculture. His subject was “Good Books of the Nineteenth Century.” In the course of his remarks he said,
 “The greatest book published in the nineteenth century in the field of religion was the Book of Mormon. Although this book was read by less than one percent of Americans, it affected that one percent so powerfully as to change the history of the nation.”
Brother Berrett states further, “It is a book that has aroused a storm of protest. It has done what the Prophet Joseph said it would do. It has divided men into two camps—those who are for it and those who are against it. There have [possibly] been more books written against it than against any book ever published in America. … On the shelves of the Church Library in the Church Office Building there are more than 1,500 [anti-Mormon] books, each of which, in a portion of its pages, makes an attack on the Book of Mormon. Fifteen hundred volumes by fifteen hundred separate authors. ”  Close quote.
That story and data are from 1938...., which is such a long time ago! Today we have the internet at our fingertips and in a google search access to literally millions of anti-mormon literature and attacks on our religion and especially The Book of Mormon. There is a huge broadway production called the BOOK OF MORMON MUSICAL that is completly ir-reverent, vulgar and profane. 
I served my mission in New York, there was billboards and buses lined with ads for the musical. At the same time the church put out the "I am a Mormon Campaign." 
The Church made the following statement in regards to the musical:
“The production may attempt to entertain audiences for an evening, but the Book of Mormon as a volume of scripture will change people's lives forever by bringing them closer to Christ.”

I loved that. We never protested back, as a religion, about the musical but instead proclaimed that "I AM A MORMON" and encouraged people to instead actually read the book and really find out what it is really about. 

Why do you think there is so many attacks on this Book? Why has Satan gone through such effort? Or personally for me, Why is there so many distractions to keep me from making time to read and study the Book of Mormon? Because it is true and so important! We need it!! Every day.

In the Book of Mormon there is a story of the Lehi's dream about the tree of life. In the vision there is a mist of darkness that arises and the view to the tree and fruit is obscured from the travelers. One of the principles points of the story is that the successful partakers of the fruit withstood distractions and didn’t listen to the tauts from the great and spacious building. They "pressed forward continually holding fast to the iron rod that runs unfailing along the course of the true path" to the tree of life. 

The iron rod is symbolic for the word of God. The Book of Mormon is the word of God. We need it. I want to close with more from President Russell M Nelsons talk:

When I think of the Book of Mormon, I think of the word power. The truths of the Book of Mormon have the power to heal, comfort, restore, succor, strengthen, console, and cheer our souls.

My dear brothers and sisters, I promise that as you prayerfully study the Book of Mormon every day, you will make better decisions—every day. I promise that as you ponder what you study, the windows of heaven will open, and you will receive answers to your own questions and direction for your own life. I promise that as you daily immerse yourself in the Book of Mormon, you can be immunized against the evils of the day, even the gripping plague of pornography and other mind-numbing addictions.
Whenever I hear anyone, including myself, say, “I know the Book of Mormon is true,” I want to exclaim, “That’s nice, but it is not enough!” We need to feel, deep in “the inmost part” of our hearts,12 that the Book of Mormon is unequivocally the word of God. We must feel it so deeply that we would never want to live even one day without it. I might paraphrase President Brigham Young in saying, “I wish I had the voice of seven thunders to wake up the people”13 to the truth and power of the Book of Mormon.

Sunday, October 22, 2017

Mom-life is hard, but oh it's good!

I recently came across this quote below on a post on Facebook and just LOVED it!  I wanted to save it to remember these thoughts in years to come. I don't exactly feel like I'm at this stage of life quite yet... but it still resinates and teething and mom guilt are REAL!! 



"This stage of life. It’s hard, you guys.
I’m talking right now to you moms who are in your late 20's to mid 30’s. You have kids. Likely two, three, maybe four of them. They probably range in age from newborns to 7 or 8 year-olds. (Give or take a few, on all of the above mentioned stats).
In this stage of life, you are dealing with exhaustion. Mental, physical, and emotional.
In this stage of life, you are dealing with teething. With ear infections. With stomach viruses. You are juggling nap schedules, and feeding schedules and soccer, dance, or cheer schedules. A million balls you are juggling, and you probably feel like you are dropping most of them.
In this stage of life, you are dealing with guilt. Guilt over having a career, and not spending enough time with your kids, or guilt over staying home with your kids, and not doing enough to contribute financially. Guilt over being too harsh with your kids. Too lenient. Guilt that your house is clean, but your kids were ignored, or guilt that you enjoyed your children all day, and now your husband is coming home to filth. Guilt.
In this stage of life, you are bombarded daily with a whole host of decisions. Some of them life-changing, some of them not. None of them with clear cut answers. Do I vaccinate my kids? Do I not? Do I send them to public school? Homeschool? Charter school? Do I continue to breastfeed? Do I blow the budget so that I can buy all organic? Do I force my child to apologize, even though the apology will be insincere? You don’t know the answers to ANYTHING, but you feel constant pressure to figure out EVERYTHING.
This stage of life is less and less about watching your friends get married and have babies, and more and more about standing by and witnessing your friends struggle in their marriage, and even get divorced. It’s a stage where you’ve got to put in the time and the effort and the work and the energy to make sure your OWN marriage stays healthy. And that’s good, but it’s hard, too. At this point, you or someone you know has experienced infertility. Miscarriages. Loss of a child.
It’s a stage where you are buying houses, selling houses, remodeling houses, packing up houses. And then you do it all again a few years later.
It’s a stage where your hormones are all out of whack. I mean, you’ve basically been pregnant, postpartum, or breastfeeding for the last ten years, right?
It’s a stage where you are struggling with identity. Is my entire identity “mommy”? Is there anything even left of me that isn’t about mothering? Is there something more glamorous I could have/should have done with my life? I LOOK like a mom now, don’t I? I totally do.
It’s a stage where you are on a constant quest for balance, and can never find it.
It’s a stage of life where you are overloaded. Constantly. You are overloaded with questions. Your children never stop asking them. You are overloaded with touch. Someone is constantly wanting to be held, holding on to you, hanging on to you, touching you. You are overloaded with to-do’s. There is so much to do. It never ends. You are overloaded with worry. You are overloaded with THINGS. Your kids have way too many toys. You are overloaded with activities. You are overloaded with THOUGHTS (thoughts about how to not be so overloaded, perhaps?).
It’s hard.
So….what do you need to do to survive it all?
You need to ask for help.
You need to accept help when it’s given.
You need to not neglect your marriage. You need to put your kids down for bed early. Sit outside on the back porch with your husband, drink a glass of wine, and have a conversation.
You need girlfriends.
You need your mom.
You need older friends, who have been there and done that. Who can reassure you that you AREN’T screwing it all up as badly as you think you are.
You need to not feel bad about using your kids nap time every now and again to just do whatever the heck you want.
You need to lower your expectations….then probably lower them again.
You need to simplify. Simplify every single part of your life, as much as it can be simplified.
You need to learn how to say “no”.
You need to practice contentment
You need to be ok leaving your kids overnight, and going away somewhere. Anywhere.
You need to do something you enjoy, every day, even if it’s for no more than 15 minutes.
You need to pray. Girl, you need to pray.
You need a coffee you love, a wine you love, and a bubble bath that you love.
Finally, and maybe most importantly, you need to remember that…..
….this stage of life is beautiful, too. Like, really really beautiful. This is the stage of life where every single older person you ever meet tells you, “you’re going to miss this”. And you already know it’s true. It’s the stage where your kids love you more than they are EVER going to love you again, for the whole rest of your life. It’s the stage where they can fit their entire selves into your lap to snuggle…and they want to. It’s the stage where their biggest problems ARE ear infections and teething and stomach viruses, and you’re not having to deal yet with things like broken hearts or addiction or bullying. It’s the stage where you are learning to love your spouse in an entirely different….harder…..better…. way. The stage where you are learning together, being stretched together, shedding your selfishness together, and TRULY being made into “one”. It’s the stage where you get to see Christmas, Halloween through your kids eyes, and it’s so much more fun and magical than it would be just through your own eyes. It’s the stage where you get to watch your parents be grandparents…and they’re really good at it. It’s the stage of life filled with field trips, class parties, costumes, swim lessons, bubble baths, dance parties, loose teeth, and first steps. And those things are so fun. It’s the stage where you are young enough to have fun, and old enough to have obtained at least SOME wisdom. It’s SUCH a great stage.
But, man it’s hard."
-author unknown

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Baby Backpack

This is what we do on the weekends:
Train for over four hours & pay around 20 bucks (a person) to get outside Tokyo to mountains . . . but it's always worth it! We are getting excited for Fall for changing leaves and more adventures in the baby backpack. 









Sunday, October 1, 2017

Five Months



Thailand Trip!



An overload of pictures from the trip!! Thailand is seriously such a cool country. I love the fresh fruit and spicy food. I love the people and how much they adored Luke and wanted to hold him. He was seriously such a little celebrity there. I love all the vibrant colors in the shops and clothing. The tuk tuk automobiles and cheap massages and pedicures, the beaches and islands the mountains and wild monkeys.  
































Real life Mowgli with the monkeys