Goodbye Montana…….

Well I guess the time has come for me to say ‘Goodbye Montana’. It seems strange to think of my time serving as a missionary has now come to an end. I am at a loss of words. A flood of memories comes rushing into my head when I think back on my mission. 2 years is a long time; areas, companions, investigators, families, and friends. Each one has different stories and memories. I remember when I first arrived at the MTC (Missionary Training Center) in Provo, Utah. I can still remember saying goodbye to my family as I embarked on an adventure of a life time. I remember the sleepless nights and tender prayers I had kneeling in my top bunk there. I can still recall my first day in the mission field in Riverton, WY with Elder Fry, my trainer. I was asked to use the priesthood and administer a blessing of comfort for the first time. I will always remember my time serving among the wonderful people of Native America in Wolf Point, Mt. The stress I felt when training Elder Johansson for the first time. I look back at Luarel, Mt and laugh reflecting how I literally looked back at Elder Neilson through the rear window as he pushed our car through the deep snow covered streets.  I never will forget the beauty of Eureka, Mt, and the patience a love I learned there. Up-town of Butte, America will remain like a photograph on my mind. The people here are one of a kind, and I love them because of it.

Yes, on my mission for the lord I have learned more then words can describe. I have learned how to love. I have learned how to have patience. I have learned how to work. This mission has without a doubt, been the best two years for my life. I feel I have grown up and matured. I have seen countless blessings, miracles, and prayers answered on my mission. But maybe, perhaps, the most important thing I will remember, is the people whom I have served. The people whom I have prayed and fasted for. The people whom I have loved. The people who have blessed my life and taught me so much. The people whom I have played but a small role in them accepting the Restored Gospel of Jesus Christ. There is such a unique joy felt when you, or someone you help, comes unto Christ. And I have seen and felt that. I of course cannot forget  the people I served with, companions, church members, and friends. Each one of my Companions have taught me something. My Mission President, President Garner, will always be a pillar of an example to me in my life.

I wish I had time to share the many stories of the various people and places I have met and been in, but obviously that would take way to long. Have you ever seen the little stickers of “Get Lost in Montana”? Well looking back over the past two years it seems I have done just that. I have gotten lost. I have indeed gotten lost in Montana and Wyoming. I have gotten lost in the Lord. I don’t really want to leave home to go home, but I know it is time. I am excited to be back in Arizona and the things that await me there. But I will be forever thankful for my time spent serving the Lord in the best areas in the world! Goodbye, Montana…….

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The GPS of Life

Have you ever wished that there was an ultimate GPS that could direct you perfectly in any situation. I can’t even tell you how many time my GPS has led me astray. Of course on the back roads of Montana that is probably to be expected. If only there was a GPS that could help direct us through life and all the major decisions that we are required to make on a daily basis. If only we could just punch in a destination like ‘great paying job’! Or how about ‘Big Family’, ‘The Best Place to Live’, or ‘The Lost Dutchman’s Mine’? Or what about ‘Loving Marriage’, ‘Strong Relationship with Heavenly Father’, or maybe the ultimate destination; ‘Happiness’? Have you ever wanted to travel there?

The other day when visiting a family I had a wonderful epiphany. We first started talking about my GPS (and how sometimes is leads me astray and doesn’t receive signal in buildings) and then we started talking about the Book of Mormon. I remembered this quote I had in my Scriptures by President Ezra Taft Benson, “It is not just that the Book of Mormon teaches us truth, though it indeed does that. It is not just that the Book of Mormon bears testimony of Christ, though it indeed does that, too. But there is something more. There is a power in the book which will begin to flow into your lives the moment you begin a serious study of the book. You will find greater power to resist temptation. You will find the power to avoid deception. You will find the power to stay on the strait and narrow path. The scriptures are called “the words of life” (D&C 84:85), and nowhere is that more true than it is of the Book of Mormon. When you begin to hunger and thirst after those words, you will find life in greater and greater abundance.” In the book of Mormon there is a Prophet named Nephi who absolutely loved the scriptures with his whole soul. Right before he passed away he gave his family (and everyone) this advice; “Angels speak by the power of the Holy Ghost; wherefore, they speak the words of Christ. Wherefore, I said unto you, feast upon the words of Christ; for behold, the words of Christ will tell you all things what ye should do.” (2 Nephi 32:3). The ‘Words of Christ’ are the scriptures; Bible, Book of Mormon, Doctrine and Covenants, and modern day prophet’s counsel. All of these our words of Christ words from Christ. All of them help lead us and guide us to different destinations in our lives. The scriptures are the ‘GPS of Life’! Now they may not directly lead you to a great paying job, but maybe they will help you see that a great paying job doesn’t guarantee happiness. They can however, lead us, show us, and direct us in how we can have a loving marriage or a strong relationship with our loving Heavenly Father. The scriptures invite the holy ghost, which is another great way to know what to do or where to go next. The ultimate destination is eternal life with our Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ; true happiness. The scriptures show us how to get there. So when life gets you down and you’re not quite sure what to do next, flip open the ‘GPS of Life’. You never know what you might just  find…….

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A Light in the Darkness

At the Sand Dunes there is day riding and night riding (yep, surprise surprise). I remember when I was younger I didn’t really enjoy riding at night very much. In fact, I really don’t enjoy it all that much now. It is harder to see, especially when you don’t have the best lights at night in the middle of mountains of sand. Those pesky Witches Eyes can sneak right up on you! The dunes are pretty difficult to navigate in the day so they can be even more difficult to do it with little or even no light. I remember one time we went out on a night ride. My brother, who was following us in our line, ran into trouble when his quad died, ran out of gas, or maybe he got stuck. I cant really remember. Anyways, it was at night and the only reason we found him is because he turned his headlights on as we drove by trying to look for him. I loved riding in our sand rail at night. Lets just say it has some pretty powerful lights. My dad is…..well, lest say kind of hard of seeing; so bright lights  help out a ton. We have a light bar on the top of our rail with HID lights. HID stands for High-Intensity Discharge. They make a lot of light! We have 4 big ones across the top of our sand rail and you can always seem to spot out ours because of the light it produces. Whether we are at the drags, Comp Hill or wherever, it seems that our lights are unique and a little bit brighter then everyone else (of course I might be a little bit biased).

Okay okay I know you are just dying to know what this has to do with the Gospel. Well when you are riding your way through life do you want to ride in the darkness or the light? We are going to inevitably have dark times on our sojourn here on earth. We want to see those witches eyes before we hit them. Now we shouldn’t settle for just any lights. We need the best headlights around, and there is one headlight that is the ultimate light. John 8:12 says “Then spake Jesus again unto them, saying, I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.” Jesus Christ is the light that will light up our path. He will lead us to do good. Jesus Christ is the ultimate HID light. His light is unique and the brightest. I know that if we follow him and His light we will never be lead astray.  We will be able to make it through those dark times on our journey through the dunes of life! Watch this video, it is about different people that let the Light of Christ lead and help them out of a dark time in their lives.

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Dedication. One Who Will Never Quite

Last month in a training meeting we attended, this quote from a modern day prophet was read. What amazing dedication he has for proclaiming the wonderful news of The Gospel of Jesus Christ. He is such an example to me. Our message, Jesus Christ’s message, is so great and wonderful. It blesses the lives of all those you partake in it. . The Gospel has been restored! There are Prophets again on the earth! The heavens are open! Families can be eternal! Lives are being Blessed! What a wonderful message to share! Let us all do our part to share our testimonies we have of Jesus Christ. I want to see the same vision that this man saw. How about you?

“If you could only see the vision I have. I wish I had your bodies to do this work. I would run from house to house telling everyone of the gospel, and after I lost strength to run I would begin to walk, and after I collapsed from walking, I would begin to crawl, and after my knees were so bloody that I could not use them I would use my arms to drag myself, and once my muscle in my body was gone I would begin to yell…oh, only if you could see the vision as I have.” -Spencer W. Kimball

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The “Ruts” of Life

Definition of a rut: A furrow or track in the ground, especially one made by the passage of a vehicle or vehicles” (dictionary.com). In the dunes there are ruts. Lots of ruts. I remember when I first started riding in the dunes I hated to follow our sand rail. Not just because every once in a while if I got to close behind it I’d get a bucket full of sand shoveled right at me, but because I did not like the ruts. Sometimes when following multiple big sand rails they can leave quite the impressions, or ruts, in the sand. I remember following on my quad and hitting those massive ruts. You follow the same general path the rails do but because you are on a quad the path is altered a bit and you usually take a slightly differnt ‘line'( I hope that makes sense). If you get stuck in one of those ruts, sometimes it literally will suck you in, you are going to go where the sand rail in front of you went whether you like it or not. The guy to the right may have gotten stuck in the wrong rut. When you go to cross one of those mammoth ruts you better hold on tight, it’ll bounce you all over and sometimes hinder your forward momentum. Trying to wheelie or get some weight of the front end always helps.On the busy weekends, such as New Years or Thanksgiving holidays there are a lot of people there. The dunes come what we call “choppy”(see the top picture). Ruts everywhere!! It is one bumpy ride, and not to fun if you’re on a quad. My family would try to get far out as possible into the dunes where the crowds had not been yet to find some smooth riding.

Now to the Gospel. Sometimes in life we can encounter some ruts; some of them are bigger then others. It might depend on who you are following, are you following the wrong person or thing? Pursuing a life of drugs and immorality can be like following a monster sand rail that leaves enormous ruts that seem impossible to get out of once you have gotten in. Sometimes you are genuinely trying to follow Jesus Christ, the best leader, and even then we can encounter some small or large ruts. What do we do? Well we can read the scriptures, go to church, or repent and “get the front end up on your quad” and wheelie over that rut. It might hinder your progress or slow you down a bit but that is okay! Keep pushing on, don’t give up!! Sometimes we might find ourselves in the busy hustle bustle of life and it seems pretty bumpy due to little ruts going every which way. Let us take a breath and slow down a bit. Maybe we need to go to a quiet place, or seek refuge from the world. Sometimes we may only be able to find inner peace. M Russell Ballard, an Apostle of the Jesus Christ has said this, “Peace—real peace, whole-souled to the very core of your being—comes only in and through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ”. When speaking about the recent world disasters Coleen K. Menlove said this, “Children need to know that having faith in the Savior and following Him will help them receive peace in this troubled world.” Take heart! I know that good times are out there. Just hold on through those “choppy dunes” and soon you will find that peace you seek!

Keep Riding, Clear Dunes Await!

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Follow The Leader


At the Sand Dunes some people ride by themselves, but most ride in groups. Some are small, and some are big. I know when my family and our group would go to the dunes we would try to organize big rides. When we go to the dunes our camp usually makes some sort of large circle (or at least some sort of circle) with all the trailers, trucks, and vehicles. In the middle of the circle is usually where the fire and everyone meets. Now back to riding. I would always love it when the whole camp would come together to go on a ride. On some trips it could be over 20-30 rigs following one after another. At the dunes, during a ride there is one leader, and he leads the way. Then one after the other people follow behind taking the same path he takes. It kind of looks like a snake winding its way through mountains of sand. Sometimes you lead, sometimes you follow. I would love to watch a big train of sand rails whip through the dunes one right after the other.

On one occasion my friend, my little brother, and myself (a small group) were going on a ride. I was leading out and we were cruising along. Well at one point my friend right behind me decided to take another line, or path, then the one I chose. Well he went off a little ledge right down into what we call a ‘Witch’s Eye’. It is kind of like a trap in the dunes, an indent or small random hole, and sometimes, they are hard to see unless you have experience at leading in the dunes (not anyone can lead, most people can follow). My friend, who at that time did not have as much experience at the dunes as I, thought his path would be better. It was not. He hit a wall of sand, threw himself over the handle bars and pretty much knocked himself loopy (he was wearing a helmet of course). But other than that he as fine.

So what does this have to do with the Gospel of Jesus Christ? In life we can have many different leaders. Our parents can be great leaders to us. They have much more experience and wisdom than us. We should follow their counsel 0r other people who have spent more time in the “Dunes” of life than ourselves. They probably know where those ‘Witch’s Eyes’ of life are hidden. Now we shouldn’t follow just anyone older than us. When the blind lead the blind both are likely to fall into a ditch (Matt 5:14). Let us choose carefully who we choose to follow. Often times we should be the leader, and lead our friends in doing what is right. We can follow Prophets, both modern and ancient ones. They represent someone who knows the way. Of course we can, and should, always follow the ultimate leader, that is Jesus Christ himself. He has set the way, He invites all to “Come follow me”(Matt 16:24). If ever we get lost in the dunes of life, let us look to our savior; He knows the way home. I know if we follow Him with full purpose of heart we will be never led astray.

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Preparation, Dont Forget Your Helmet!!

When it comes to getting ready to go to the dunes there is a lot that goes into it. Usually me and my family try to split the load or responsibility to make it go faster and easier. “Don’t forget the jack” my dad might  say. “Hey, remember to throw in the extra set of Lug Nuts”  my brother will chime in. There are lots of things to remember; flags, gas, food, water, paddle tires, extra parts, helmets, goggles, GPS, camping permit, electric impact wrench, other tools, air compressor, sleeping bags, cots, and etc. I think that almost every time we went we forgot something, it was bound to happen. Hopefully we did not  forget something that was very important. Once, or maybe twice, I forgot my helmet. I regretted that one. I ended up having to use an extra one we had (I sure was happy someone was prepared for my forgetfulness). If I forgot my goggles it was the worst. There is nothing worse then trying to make due with a terrible pair of goggles that wont stop half the sand. It was about 4 1/2 hours there; so getting there and then turning around to come home to get what we forgot was out of the question. Overall, make sure to be prepared when you get to the dunes, something will always come up.

Now to apply it to the Gospel. Preparation is key. After all, this life is the time for men to prepare to meet god (Alma 34:32). We can prepare for all kinds of things. We can prepare now to answer when a friend asks us if we want to try a drug. Answer that question now with a resounding “NO!”. We can prepare for the future. Get our life in order; get out of debt, start a food storage, build family relationships, and many other things. There are countless stories in the Bible and Book of Mormon about being prepared. I love the story of the Jaradites in the Book of Mormon and how the Lord commands those people to prepare to cross the sea. (Click here to Read the whole story, it is great.) When I forgot to bring my helmet my chance of getting hurt drastically increased. When one forgets their paddle tires at home they are going to get stuck all the time. If something breaks down and you don’t have your tools then your are going nowheres. So it is with life. The Gospel of Jesus Christ can offer you protectection (like a helmet), help give you propulsion in a sticky situation (like paddle tires), help us see clear when the sand storms of life are blowing all about us (like Goggles), and help repair spiritual damage through the atonement (like the proper parts and tools). We just need to be prepared, and put in our effort, then all of these blessings can be ours.

Preparation leads to blessings. One quote that I really like goes like this, “when the time for performance is at hand, the time for preparation is over”. Let us not find ourselves in the middle of the sand dunes with no Helmet. Let us not be found at the hour of performance and our preparation is little. When we are prepared, we shall not fear!

 

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