Sand Dunes……..


Maybe it’s because my time serving as a missionary is winding down and I have been thinking about activities I miss, or maybe it is because it is just plain fun. Either way I have been thinking about the beautiful Sand Dunes of South Eastern California. To some, the dunes might look more like a barren waste land, but not to me. First off, to anyone who has never been to the Imperial Sand Dunes nestled in the corner of south-eastern California just outside Arizona and just off of the Mexican Border (in fact many of the dunes run over and into Mexico) I would recommend going. They are the best. It is one of my favorite hobbies. I’m not sure how long ago my family started going to the dunes. My dad and his family and friends went way back in the day, the days of three-wheelers and Volkswagen Buggies. I remember when we (me and my siblings) started though. It was pretty new to us, we had recently built a new sand rail and wanted to give it a try. Well lets just say from that first trip till now it has been a family hobby and things have progressed and enlarged.

For those who may not be too familiar with the Sand Dunes people go there to ride just about any kind of motorized vehicle. Quads and dirt bikes are probably the most popular. But there are a lot of sand rails, side-by-sides (Ranger, Razors, Rhinos etc), souped up golf carts, Tricked out jeeps, and any thing else that can go “vroom”. Sometimes it can get pretty busy, especially on big weekends like Thanksgiving and New Years. There are advantages and disadvantages to it being busy verse not busy.  Now it has been over two years since I have been to the dunes since I started my service as a full-time missionary for the church. I miss it at times, more so in the winter, but it is worth it to give that up for two years. The other day I had an idea of relating The Sand Dunes to the Gospel of Jesus Christ! Brilliant! I have decided to break it up into multiple posts because that way I won’t overrun anyone and I can keep it concise. So stay tuned, some posts will soon follow!

Click Here to Check out My other Sand Dune Blog Posts!

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“No Atheists in a Foxhole”

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.

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The Dark Night: Joker and Satan

 

So what in the world does Batman, The Dark Night, have to do with the Gospel of Jesus Christ? Well the other day we went over to someone’s house to visit with them and they had the TV on. Well what do you know it is the none other then the Dark Night playing! It just happens to be one of mine, and Elder Butler’s,  favorite movies. It was most difficult not to watch to say the least. The part we caught was the one of Joker being interviewed by Commissioner Gordon and then Batman. This leads to Joker telling batman the two addresses of where Harvey Dent and Rachel Dawes were located. It got me, and my Companion, thinking…….Why did Joker do what he did? What made the Joker tick? What motivated this psychopathic, diabolical, and deranged criminal?? Elder Butler threw out that it was because he lacked the Gospel of Jesus Christ in his life. The man we were visiting with said that it could be that he was just plum crazy. Yes, I would agree with both, but it could be something more. I think (now this is just me) that the Joker is a type (or in similitude of) of the adversary of happiness; none other then Satan himself.

Allow me to explain. But, you’ll also have to bear with me because it has been over a year and a half since I have seen the movie. I would like to call on just a few examples of Joker and his role in the movie to demonstrate my idea. When Joker first comes into the picture he is robbing a bank (the very bank that the mob uses to launder all of their illegally earned money) and steals lots and lots of money. Oh well it is the money that motivates him then, he just wants to be rich? Well not quite. We see later him burning who knows how much cash to demonstrate that money is not what it is about.

We see him time after time set up social and mind experiments. Did the joker really want Coleman Reese dead? Did Coleman Reese play that big of a role in his plan? No, he just wanted to cause chaos and anarchy. To prove that people are evil inside to see, or test, if they were willing to kill an innocent person. It was Coleman or the Hospital after all.

Later, when the City of Gotham is being evacuated there are two large ferry’s evacuating the city. One is full of citizens, the other full of prisoners from the local prison. Joker has rigged the two boats with explosives. The catch: each boat has the detonator switch to the other boat on their own boat. They have a certain amount of time before both boats blow up (or so they are told). The catch is, they can push the button and blow the other boat up, full of the other group of people in order to save themselves. A heinous social experience. Did joker really just want to blow people up? Perhaps. But I contest that it was more then that. He wanted to see how these people would react, to watch them kill each other in a state of frenzy and anarchy.

Did Joker really just want Harvey Dent to live and become a Grumpy-Guss? No, He risked his (The Joker) own life to persuade Harvey to become the acclaimed “Two-Face”. This was a victory for Joker. He had turned the one bright future, the one person who believed in Gotham, into a corrupt and malicious person like himself. Of course the rest of the world never found out about it; Batman took the fall for the murder of Harvey Dent.

So how is Satan like the Joker? Does Satan want money? Of course not, he in no way needs money. But he knows that the greed of money can tear families and individuals apart. Does Satan really care if a certain person is killed or even a boat load of people massacred? Not necessarily, He knows physical death is but temporary. But he wants to see anarchy, despair, fear, and chaos result. Does Satan want to see amazing examples of men and women fall? Yes. Because when those certain individuals fall so do many other people. They set the example for generations to follow. Overall, the theme of the joker, what drives him, is the same thing that drive Satan. A Book of Mormon Prophet puts it best with these simple words: “for [Satan] seeketh that all men might be hmiserable like unto himself” (2 Nephi 2:27).


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Lets Go Son, it’s Time to Get to Work!

Not sure what this is about.....My dad probably seeking revenge on some pesky gofer

So it is Father’s Day already! Wow. Seems like it was just Mother’s Day! Well when I started to think about my father, and how I might dedicate a blog to him, my mind ran blank. I don’t even know if my dad knows what a blog is. One might say that my dad is not the most technologically friendly guy. He usually just spats off math problems in his head while I reach for my cell phone with its convenient calculator. But when I really started to give it some thought, I tried to think of one word that could best describe my dad; and the answer came quick and clear. “Work“.

My dad and brothers up to something

Allow me to explain. I grew up on a farm in south-east Gilbert, Arizona (which was at one point Chandler, or some other city). My dad grew up on a farm in Mesa, Arizona. And, if I’m not mistaken, his dad grew up on a farm as well. On a farm, work is a key ingredient. I’m sure that there are a lot of other professions out there that work hard as well, but in my book, farming takes the cake.

I remember growing up working. Now I wont lie to anyone, I did not enjoy spending my summer (the few precious months of no school and home work) waking up at 4:30AM to go bail hay in the early morning. Sometimes, I didn’t even enjoy going out in the middle of the afternoon in 120 degree weather to go spray weeds. Occasionally, I didn’t like staying up all night irrigating and getting bit by mosquitoes. But my dad always had us kids do these things. Himself, of course, always setting the best example. I would bet my dad against any one on a work contest. Sure, he might be getting old and rickety….. but I would still put my money on him. He is also great at getting the job done right. I don’t think I could count on both hands the amount of times he has had me and my brothers re-do a job because it wasn’t done right. Take pride in your work. Spending hours spraying weeds paid off; our farm was always much cleaner than other farms, though my mom may disagree :). 
 
Looking back I sure am happy that my dad was a slave driver(he wasn’t really though)! I wouldn’t trade my experience growing up on a farm for anything! I learned so many skills and attributes there. Even though I did complain (I’m sure a lot more than I should’ve), I am eternally grateful for that experience now. My dad has taught me the principle of work better than anyone I know. Even though I still have some room to grow. When I think of a hard worker I will always think of my dad. So with that, Happy Father’s Day Dad! 😉  

 
 

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The Miami Heat. They Have the Potential, So Do You

So the NBA finals are here again! I can’t believe it is already about half way through the series(depending on how the next games go). As of right now the Miami Heat are tied with the Dallas Mavericks. 2-2. Im excitited to see if the Heat can pull off a few more victories and take home the title. After all, they do have some big all-star players. I remember when I heard the news that Lebron James was going to go to the Heat to play with Dwayne Wade. I sure was excited. Then I found out that Chris Bosh would be joining to make quite the trio. Wow. I was bummed that i wasn’t going to get to watch them play. A lot of people predicted that this ultimate team would be unstoppable. That they would easily take it all the way to the finals and take home a ring. Others predicted that the team would flop. Some said that Three super stars wouldn’t be able to play together, at least not in the first season being on the same team. With all the potential they had they got off to a rocky start. However, they have now came all the way. Will they take home the championship? Will they win the prize after making it this far? Will the Dallas Mavericks keep them from their goals? Only time will tell.

To switch gears a little bit here I’d like to compare the Miami Heat to us. We come into this life with all the potential in the world. Some people are rooting for us. They know that we can go all the way. They root for us to take home that ultimate prize. Others, wish to see us fail and end up miserable. They dont want us to succeed. Now, we might not be a Lebron James, or even a Dwayne Wade. Maybe we are more like Mike Bibby or James Jones. But that is what’s so great about it; Everyone on the team gets the same prize, whether they are a Point Guard or a Center. We are in the game of life (which is a little bit more serious then the NBA). We have the potential as did/do the Miami Heat. Now let us work hard, make good choices, and try our best to win the prize; the prize of eternal life. I think the Miami Heat can do it. I know that we can.

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Caution: Watch Your Step!

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!

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Why am I knocking on your door???

Have you ever been rudely interrupted by a knock on your door or a ringing of your doorbell only to find two young men in suits standing on your front door step? Or maybe two young women? They were probably dressed very nicely; suits or just white shirts and ties? I’m sure they introduced themselves as representatives, or missionaries, for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. I know because I am one of these young men. I have knocked on many doors and talked with many people on their door steps.

Have you ever wondered why they were standing there talking to you in the rain, snow, or sunshine? So why do we take the time to go from door to door to talk to people like you? Why do we face rejection? Why do we interrupt your meal, nap, or any other activity? Why do we sometimes chase you down on the street  to try to talk and get to know you?

The answer is simple. We know how much the Restored Gospel of Jesus Christ has blessed our lives and we want you to have the same blessings. Christ commanded his apostles shortly before his ascension back into heaven to “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you” (Mathew 28:18-19). After his resurrection he asked Peter three times if Peter loved him. Peter’s response was obviously yes. Christ’s response was to “Feed my sheep” (John 21:15-17). There are countless scriptures that teach, command, and exhort those who have faith in Christ to invite others to come unto him. But for me at least, it is a little bit more than just that.

If you went to a restaurant and tried a new dish (Perhaps a Monte burger from Montana Club) and loved it, or Maybe you could even say to yourself that it was the best meal that you have ever had. Would you want to keep it a secret or tell everyone you know? I know I would want to tell people. That is how the Restored Gospel of Jesus Christ is for me. It is sooo good! Though it is a commandment to do missionary work, to me it is even more then that. I KNOW that anyone who accepts our message, or in reality Christ’s message, will be happy! Our message is unique; it includes modern day prophets, restoration of priesthood, another testament of Jesus Christ, and answers to life’s greatest questions.Their lives will be blessed in so many ways! I cannot keep it to myself! That is why we knock on your door. That is why we go from door after door after door. That is why we face rejection, harsh words, slammed doors, and disappointment. That is why we may chase you down on the street and seem like we are crazy. That is why we don’t give up if you tell us to come back some other time.  It is simply because we want you to have what we have. We are not out here for ourselves. We want you to find happiness in this life and the kind of happiness that lasts through the eternities. We want to invite you to come unto our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

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