Sunday, March 31, 2013

That Soon, Huh?

30 more days.

Guys, that's like, 30 days and 30 nights... but nights go by way too fast and I don't even remember them, so that's like... 30 days. Haha wow, that was lame. You just got a dose of painful-to-sit-through Kenzie humor. I'm sorry for your suffering.

I can hardly believe it. I should be getting myself together by now but I feel like some things don't want to come very easily. Or at all.
I feel like people who are preparing to go on missions always avoid being specific about their "laziness" stage, or as I like to call it, "The-Period-Where-Satan-Really-Cracks-Down-On-You-And-You-Don't-Do-Anything-Productive-For-A-Huge-Chunk-Of-Time" stage. I've decided to be completely honest about my run-in with this occurrence that happens to every preparing missionary: I've stunk at studying my scriptures and PMG this last month and only picked it up again last night. That's right, the ENTIRE MONTH. I didn't pick up my scriptures or PMG once. I've become terrible at studying. Satan is definitely picking at me. Obviously, I'm bad at this game.


To you preparing missionaries: YOU WILL HIT THIS ROAD BLOCK. Don't feel like you have to hide the fact that you aren't doing as well as you'd like at the moment. No preparing missionary wants to feel that they failed and no preparing missionary wants to go in feeling like they're not prepared enough. The first step is admitting that you need to better yourself. If you think you're experience is worse than everyone else's, you're kidding yourself. Just because they don't give you the details doesn't mean they only had a teeny-tiny 5 minute session of doubt and then they were done. I guarantee you their struggle lasted a LOT longer than 5 minutes.
After you've admitted and realized that you haven't been doing so hot in whatever situation you are in, decide to do better. You need to make the decision to better yourself. Feel like you're behind on your studying, like me? Decide to do better. Do you feel insecure, like you're the last person in the world who is worthy to teach the Gospel of Christ? Decide to be better. This might sound bad - maybe not- but take heart in the fact that you're not alone in this. Every preparing missionary goes through something similar. It's your choice to act or not.
After you make the decision to be better; better at studying, praying, or just becoming a better person, ask for God's help in the plan you've made for yourself. Today in Sacrament Meeting, a brother in my ward brought up the point in his talk that there is also ENABLING power in the Atonement, not just redeeming power. A lot of the time, I feel like members of the church don't understand the enabling power as well as the redeeming power. We mess up all the time, and through the redeeming power of the Atonement, we can be forgiven. There isn't one of us who can't improve. As an extension, we can become better through the enabling power of the Atonement. Call on God for help - you can. And He will help you. Do your part and He will do His. The Atonement isn't only for sinners - it's for the saints as well.
Don't forget to thank Him for the help He's given you. I realized during my prayers last night that I had forgotten to thank Him for the things He's done for me because I'd asked Him for help. I hadn't been recognizing His hand in my life. Last night I gave him credit for everything - my successes, my family, my progress over the last few months alone, my trials - because everything in my life has come from Him.

I feel like I've fallen behind. But I've made the decision to be better.
You do the same.

Monday, March 25, 2013

What A Weekend

This last weekend was Stake Conference. We had the honor and pleasure of hearing from Elder M. Russell Ballard and many other wonderful speakers. Each deserve their own blog post, really. Here's a little preview to hold you over until I get everything organized enough to put into words:

Saturday Night Adult Session
  • God's love for us
  • The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
  • Covenants and surrounding principles
  • Liberty from our prisons and the peace that comes with it
  • Coming closer to Christ through our afflictions
Sunday Morning General Session
  • The week proceeding Christ's resurrection
  • Preparing for a mission
  • The power of the Atonement
  • The hastening of the work and our roll in it
  • Following promptings from the Lord
I was filled up with so much love this weekend. I had the opportunity to perform a musical number at the beginning of the adult session with my brother-in-law, Matt, and all I can say is as I was playing, I knew with everything that I am that this church is true. I truly felt the love of my Savior as I played this song.
It was different playing in front of so many people compared to when I was practicing to do so. Usually, I get nervous and shake and mess up at least 3 times while performing. This time around, the only thing I was worried about was that my fingers would freeze because they have to lower the temperature with so many people in the room. Luckily, they didn't.
The difference this time around was that I didn't let myself freak out beforehand. The tendency for me before every performance is to think "I don't know this section well enough, I'm going to mess up" and by thinking that way, there's a higher chance I will mess up. But this weekend, I finally just let myself FEEL. It made all the difference. I was able to be taught by the Spirit while I played for the Lord. It was the perfect start to an awesome Stake Conference.

Oquirrh Mountain Utah Temple!

5 temples down. I'm running out of time to finish my goal! I report in 37 days. (I just had to double check that. Yep - 37). Wow, time is flying by.

Here is yet another gorgeous temple. I love the temple!

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Coincidence Or Meant-To-Be?

Temple #4 on my list: DRAPER!!

For some reason, both times I've gone to this temple I've gotten sick. Uhhh - alright? I'm glad that at least my legs are mostly covered up by shadow.. otherwise they'd be blinding you all.

The lovely young lady who took this picture for us recently returned from serving her own mission in, guess where?
Neuquen, Argentina! NO. WAY. :)
For those of you who don't know, my best friend will be serving in that very same mission. This was the funniest coincidence. We talked for a few minutes with her and her friend who she was with. It wasn't a particularly long conversation but some of the things she said just spoke to my heart. I felt extremely calm afterwards. I think I was meant to meet her. Haha. :) It was an awesome temple experience.

Friday, March 15, 2013

"Give up yet?"

Satan is real.

Sometimes when we get caught up in all the good happening in our lives, we overlook the little things that can really bring us down. For example, I've gotten so excited by the idea that I'm leaving in only a little over a month to teach the Gospel in the coolest place ever (ha ha ha) that I've been forgetting to do the most important things I can be doing right now to prepare to be the best missionary I can be. Don't get me wrong, it's a good thing to be excited. It's not however a good thing to get distracted by the idea and neglect your preparations.

For me, I've had the hardest time studying the scriptures and PMG. And it hasn't just been a few days or a few weeks. It's been the entire last month. There are always conference talks and going to church and insights you gain from conversations with others but the sad thing is I haven't been taking any of those in, even as a substitute to not studying the scriptures. Another sad thing is that I haven't been noticing how detrimental not studying has been for me until now because it started out as such a small thing.

It's a simple thought: "Get out PMG and your scriptures and get to it!" But it's another thing to actually do it when the thought finally comes to you at 1 o'clock in the morning after a very busy and exhausting day. Satan is striking me right where he knows I'm weak. I can't afford to be lazy now. I need to be studying, BIG TIME.  I know, everyone thinks they know less than they really do and the people who get scared silly by that go overboard and it doesn't do them a bit of good because you're never really prepared for a mission. But let me tell you, fear is real and it's one of Satan's most prized weapons.

I've been afraid that I don't know enough about the Gospel to teach it to anyone. I've been afraid that if I don't lock myself in my bedroom and only come out for meals and force myself to study all day, I won't be in the place I need to be for my mission. I've even deluded myself into thinking that once I'm flying out to my mission, Security is going to come and take me back into one of those interrogation rooms they have because they find a pair of razor sharp nail clippers in my unchecked bag.

Some of this fear, like the nail clippers, is just nerves getting to me. But I've been experiencing paralyzing fear about everything that I'm not; I'm not as confident as I would like to be, I'm not outgoing, I'm not someone people look at and just love, I'm not always tactful, I'm not as open with people as I probably should be. Once Satan sensed that first doubt I had, about not ever being a good enough missionary, he latched on with everything he is and he's not letting go. He picked my fear apart and showed me every tiny little aspect of it from every angle and my fear only intensified.

The thing is, just when you think you're safe, Satan hits you with something else he's come up with to scare your pants off. You can't let yourself get distracted and forget that Satan is still there, just biding his time. Submitting my papers and receiving my call was such a triumph and I rode that high for quite a while, not realizing what was slowly happening, that Satan was creeping back into my life.

The important thing here though is that no matter how many times the adversary sneaks up on you and breaks you down, don't give up! You have power over him. The closer you get to God, the more righteously you are living your life, the harder Satan works against you. BUT the closer you get to God, the more righteously you are living your life through your thoughts and actions, the less influence he has over you. He cannot conquer if you will it otherwise - and that's a true statement. 

Thursday, March 14, 2013

"Cast Not Away Therefore Your Confidence"

"It isn't over until it's over."

" So Satan left, always to come again,
     we can be sure, but
   always to be defeated by the
  God of Glory - always. "

"The reminder is that we cannot sign on for a moment
         of such eternal significance and everlasting
     consequence without knowing it will be a fight - a good
   fight and a winning fight, but a fight nevertheless." 

"If it was right when you prayed about it
     and trusted it and lived for it, it is right now."

"Remember how urgently you have needed help in earlier times and that you got it. The Red Sea will open to the honest seeker of revelation. The adversary does have power to hedge up the way, to marshal Pharaoh's forces and dog our escape right to the water's edge, but he can't produce the real thing. He cannot conquer if we will it otherwise. "Exerting all [our] powers to call upon God," the light will again come, the darkness will again retreat, the safety will again be sure."

""Moses began to fear exceedingly; and as he
   began to fear, he saw the bitterness of hell" (Moses 1:20).
       That's when you see it - when you are afraid."

"Some days we will be miraculously led out of Egypt - seemingly free, seemingly on our way - only to come to yet another confrontation, like all that water lying before us. At those times we must resist the temptation to panic and to give up. At those times fear will be the strongest of the adversary's weapons against us." 

"With the spirit of revelation, dismiss your fears and wade in with both feet."

"... along with the illuminating 
   revelation that points us toward
a righteous purpose or
  duty, God will also provide the
means and power to achieve
that purpose."

"Fighting through darkness and despair and
     pleading for the light is what opened this dispensation.
       It is what keeps it going, and it is what will
     keep you going."

"fear ye not ... The Lord shall fight for you."

These are my favorite quotes from Elder Jeffrey R. Holland's talk "Cast Not Away Therefore Your Confidence." You should read it, I dare you. It's pretty fantastic. It applies to everyone, ALL THE TIME. For me, as a preparing missionary, I can tell you that everything he mentions in this talk is true. I am definitely feeling the adversary in my life at the moment. But the cool thing is, I don't have to let him win if I don't want to - "He cannot conquer if we will it otherwise." BOOM.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Three Down - Eleven To Go

Temples are awesome. :)

My best friend happens to be named after this one.
The Jordan River Utah Temple is such a pretty Temple, is it not? (Well, they're all pretty). :)

This photo below is titled "My Lovely Checkered Bag." You can't tell but my bag is made of black and white checkered fabric which I'm rather fond of. :)

Being able to go to the Temple so much before I leave on my mission to Pennsylvania has been amazing. I know most people don't have all the time in the world like I do, but if you're preparing for a mission and have a lot of time on your hands, go to the Temple! Try to make it there as many times as you can. You will be blessed, especially as a missionary!
As you know, I'm trying to make it around to every temple in Utah before I leave. That's 14 operating Temples! 2 more are under construction but won't be finished before my departure date. I'll have to swing back and get to them in a couple of years. :)
So far, I've only gone through 3 Temples: Mt. Timpanogos, Provo, and Jordan River. I don't have any pictures from Mt. Timpanogos but will acquire some shortly. :)
14 - 3 = 11. Only 11 more to get to and only 22 more times to get to them all.
I'm having a blast. :)

Friday, March 8, 2013

Fail / Win

The last three days I have wanted to go to the Temple.
WEDNESDAY: Mom and I planned on going to the Salt Lake Temple while waiting for Raegan (my cute little niece) to arrive (at Salt Lake Regional Hospital). But first we went up to the U of U Store, just a few blocks away, as a favor to Chris (my brother) to find a cheerleader outfit for Reagan as a surprise for Jen. We were only there for a few minutes when Chris called and said "You'd better get back down here." So, no Temple on Wednesday.
THURSDAY: Chris and Jen live a ways away from us so we decided to go visit them in case we didn't see them again for a while and thought we'd stop at the Temple while we were up there. We started out too late and had to be home for a meeting my mom had. No Temple. :(
FRIDAY (TODAY): We decided last night that we would go to the Draper Temple this morning. We got up there and then I got sick. Haha this week hasn't worked out well for our Temple plans. We got an adorable niece and granddaughter instead. :)

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Families Are Forever

My brother and sister-in-law had their beautiful baby girl today at 3:04 PM. She is our little Rae of Sunshine! We have been so blessed to have Jenna in our family and now we welcome the newest member of the clan - Raegan Marie Hall. She's a little miracle. :)

I know that families are forever. This is the greatest blessing we can ever receive. Just look at that adorable face and tell me you don't want to keep her forever!
God loves all of His children. Every soul is great in the sight of God. He loves us so much that He sent His Son, Jesus Christ, to die for us, allowing us to return to live with Him again and making it possible for our families to continue together forever into eternity.
I love my family and I love our newest little addition. She is an angel and I'm so glad she was sent to us. She has the best parents she could've asked for. :) And she gets to keep them forever!

Monday, March 4, 2013

Let's Do It

Here's my "Mission Before the Mission":
My Stake President tells those of us going on missions to go to the Temple 30 times before we leave. To take his challenge further, I've made a goal for myself in addition to attending the Temple 30 times before my mission:
I'm going to go to every temple in the state of Utah before I leave. Boom.
1) It'll be awesome, awesome, awesome!
2) It's a few more pictures for the scrapbook. :)
It's at times like this when I'm grateful I don't have anything to do during the day. :) Being unemployed and not going to school opens up a lot of your time (who knew, right?)
7 days out of 30 down. 23 more to go. :)

Here's today's photos in front of the Provo Utah Temple:

It was a bit windy and more than a little freezing but my lovely sister and mother took it like champs and humored me as I said "Let's take pictures!"

 "When you come to the temple you will love your family with a deeper love than you have ever felt before. The temple is about families."
—Richard H. Winkel
"That all people who shall enter upon the threshold of the Lord's house may feel thy power, and feel constrained to acknowledge that thou hast sanctified it, and that it is thy house, a place of thy holiness."
- Doctrine & Covenants 109:13
(Excerpt from the Dedicatory Prayer for the Kirtland Ohio Temple)