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…….
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 of the world: he that followeth me shall not in , 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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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!
Click here for a great talk on Peace!
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The other day I had the opportunity to go on team-ups in Dillon, Mt with Elder Landbeck. That Tuesday afternoon we had the opportunity to visit an elderly couple. I wont guess their age for I am a horrible guess at such. But while we were there visiting we started talking about religion and the role of it. It wont be fair for me to talk about all we talked about with this elderly gentlemen for privacy sake, but suffice it to say he did not believe in organized religion. “But” he said, “I am no Atheist”. He went on to say a quote that really jumped out at me, and one that I wont soon forget. He said, “I don’t care who you are, there is no such thing as an atheist in a Fox Hole. Trust me”.
Now that got me thinking. He didn’t really say anything else about it and I didn’t ask. We just moved on to another subject. An Atheist is “A person who denies or disbelieves the existence of a supreme being or beings” (Dictionary.com). Now I believe him, I really do. I think that it is no coincidence that when people are put in a horrible situation their first instinct is to call on their Father, their Father in Heaven. God. Now why is that? How is it that someone who never claims to believe in God or to ever call upon him do so in a Fox Hole? I think a scripture in The New Testament says it best, “The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God” (Romans 8:16). Our spirits have an instinct that is above natural tendencies. When things boil right down to it we know who we are. Maybe it takes being put in a fox-hole in the middle of World War II with bombs going off all around us to help us realize it. Maybe it is a loss of a loved one. Maybe it is a feeling of loneliness or remorse. Whatever it is we know that we are the sons and daughters of God. And when we find ourselves in trying times we have a spiritual instinct on whom to call, our Father who art in Heaven. That is why I believe there are no atheists in a foxhole. Take heart, whatever your “Fox Hole” in life might be, our Father in Heaven is always willing to listen and to help. Call on Him, Pray to Him, I know that He hears every prayer.
Well the other day I took a nice little stumble. Yep, the dang classic sidewalk crack jumped up and grabbed my foot once again. Luckily this time I only suffered from slight embarrassment and I did not fall on my face. I have tripped quite a few times in my life. When I was young, when I was home, when I have been on my mission. Almost every time I have tripped or fumbled it was because I was not watching where I was going. A hidden step, a crack in the side walk, or perhaps a quick foot from a prankster. Of course I wont even start on the wonderful icy roads and sidewalks found in Montana during the winter months that have claimed victory over me more then a couple three times.
I reflect back to a time when I was first learning how to snowboard. Me and my friends went up to the mountain and decided to take the longest lift all the way to the top of the mountain. To make a long story short, me and another one of my friends weren’t really weren’t paying attention to where we were going. We ended up taking the wrong turn and found ourselves on a pretty slippery slope that was very narrow and above our experience. Luckily we didn’t take any huge falls and we made it down just fine. It made me think of a quote, or a proverb if you will: “A journey of a thousand miles begins with one step, so watch your step”.
Often times we do not take enough thought about where we are placing our next step. Do we think about where that one step can lead us? Sometimes we don’t watch and we immediately trip and fall. Sometimes we don’t watch our step and it leads us onto a path that we really don’t want to be on. I am so thankful for our Savior Jesus Christ who makes it all possible for us to get back up. If we do trip and fall, get back up! The path that me and my friend went on in the end gave us experience and made us better because we eventually were able to get back on the correct path. But let us remember to watch our step. It can lead us to a place where we want to go, or it can lead us to a place where we don’t. A journey of a thousand miles begins with one step, so watch your step!
During last General Conference I listened to this talk and thought it was great. I loved the idea posed, the question that we need to ask ourselves. I didn’t want to do it any injustice so I just copied and pasted the whole URL here. Watch, listen, or read it for yourself! If you listen with your heart, I promise that you will not regret it!