Friday, 29 April 2011

Ten Days

I'm very excited for my mission. The more I learn about the Gospel, the more incredible it is to me. It all makes sense, and it brings so much joy into my life. I have one more week in Great Britain before I head back to Provo to enter the MTC. I love the Gospel. As I was studying Preach My Gospel last night, I found a brilliant quote.

"We do not preach and teach in order to 'bring people into the Church' or to increase the membership of the Church. We do not preach and teach just to persaude people to live better lives. . . . We invite all to come unto Christ by repentance and baptism and confirmation in order to open the dooes of the Celestial Kingdom to the sons and daughters of God.
No one else can do this.
-Elder Dallin H. Oaks, 'The Purpose of Missionary Work,' April 1995.

Sunday, 24 April 2011

D&C 24:11-12

"In me he shall have glory, and not of himself,
whether in weakness or in strength,
wheather in bonds or free.
And at all times, and in all places, he shall open his mouth
and declare my gospel as with the voice of a trump,
both day and night. And I will give unto him
strength such as is not known among men.

Saturday, 23 April 2011

"Make it a sweet, sweet goodbye... could be for the last time, and it's not right..."

-'Lullabies', All Time Low

Tonight is my last night in Utah. This has been a fast, hectic, emotional week. I've finished up all my classes, ending on Wednesday after handing in a ten page research paper and taking my 3 hour 40 minute Bio final. It felt so good to be done. My Mum and sister flew in to help me pack. It was a momumental task. But it's all done. We're staying at a friend's house tonight. I'm all moved out of the apartment that's been my home for the past eight months.
        I spent time saying goodbye to the incredible friends I've made. This has been the absolute greatest year of my life. I've made so many memories. I love BYU. I love the restored Gospel of Christ. And I love these people. It's the end of an era...

Saturday, 16 April 2011

"More than a moment in time, it's the life of leaving home..."

-'Life of Leaving Home', Yellowcard

I can't believe it's finals week already. The semester is over. Reading days are done. And I completed a couple of finals today. The weather has been so perfect these past couple of days. Life has been great.
        A couple of weeks ago we headed to Bro. Wilcox's house for Home Evening (April 4th). I didn't even know we were going over there, until we left to actually go there, but it was really fun. It was great to get to meet him and talk with him, and he was excited to hear I'm going to be serving in Greece. I'm pretty excited too.
        Then the very next day (April 5th), I was interviewed by the Church for a new online video, to be featured on the Youth LDS website. John Hilton III contacted me on Facebook and asked if I wanted to be a part of it. Of course, I didn't decline. I put on my favourite shirt, and tried to think of what to say. (Kinda like a date, really.) It was pretty cool to be in front of the camera, with a mic above me and a light shining on me - a professional set-up - in the middle of the JFSB square. They asked me questions about chastity and sexual purity, and I certainly did my best to answer them! I want to see the finished product, but it won't be done for a little while yet. Look out for it.
        Classes are completely finished now. For the past couple of weeks I've been kinda nostalgic, and not looking forward to it. Right now, I'm really excited for the future. On my last day of Book Of Mormon (Rel A 122) with Bro. Marsh, I got a pic with him. I had him for 121 last semester too, and he's such a brilliant teacher - award-winning, in fact. I've learnt a lot from him, and would love to be as knowledgeable as he is. I love going to his class and feeling the Spirit. It increases my testimony every Monday and Wednesday morning.

        There's been a couple of things I wanted to do before the semester came to a close. The first was to go on a date with Ashley. Ashley was my dance teacher for Social Dance 180 last semester, she's a Junior, a Finance major, Dance minor, she's on the ballroom team, and she's one of the most beautiful girls I've ever met. It was, honestly, quite awkward when I asked her out last Thursday. It took a lot of courage, but ask her I did. The date Monday afternoon was perfect. Rose in hand, I met her by outside the Tanner, and we drove, with the windows down and sun shining, to Tucanos. [Alcohol-free] cocktails were ready for us on the table, and then we enjoyed all-you-can-eat meat and good conversation. She's just great, and I really like her. And she's helping me with the Marriott School application process. As I dropped her back at her apartment, I got a picture with her.

        My second aim was to complete getting my BYU Basketball poster signed by the team. Kyle Collinsworth told me after Ward Prayer when he visited to add him on Facebook, which I did. I met him again after the Unforum on Tuesday, where he gave me his cell number to arrange getting my poster signed. And I met Pres. Samuelson and his wife outside the Marriott on Tuesday, and got to briefly visit with them, which was a great privilege. So Kyle gave me his number and, cut a long story short, got me into a closed signing on Thursday. I was just heading into an Econ review, when I saw I had a text from him: "Meet me at the marriott center in 10 mins". I biked over to the Marriott and waited. I walked with him to the Stadium and got inside. It wasn't open to the public, so I sat quietly and tried not to get kicked out. The entire team had what looked like thousands of items to sign. I only needed three more signatures to finish up my poster: Zylstra; Anderson; and Fredette. I got Brock and James' as soon as I got in, and then waited for Jimmer to turn up. While I was in there, I gave my good friend Katie a call, and she couldn't believe I was in there with the team. I even got Jackson to talk to her on my phone for a minute while he was signing t-shirts, and she was almost in tears when I got the phone back. She later dropped a couple of posters off to get signed, but couldn't come inside. A did get asked by a couple of girls who were organising the event if I was with someone from the team, and I let them know I was with Kyle, so they let me stay. I talked with Charles Abouo, and when he found out I was going to Greece, asked me to send him my mission email address so he can write to me and let me know when the team are going to be there - apparently the team are going there in August. Abouo is so awesome, we were just chatting, and he's so friendly. I got a picture with him and Jackson Emery. Emery's really cool too. In the pic he looks so nerdy haha. Finally the team finished up and left one by one, and then Jimmer turned up. He's such a fantastic player, and he was the last signature I needed on my poster. I really wanted a picture with him, but some other woman who seemed in charge who I hadn't spoken to already just wanted me out. In her words, "this wasn't supposed to be open to the public." One of the other girls let her know I was friends with Kyle Collinsworth, but they still kicked me out pretty pronto after my poster had been signed by him. I was pretty excited that I had got my poster signed by the whole team, and watched each player sign personally. They're my favourite team, and it has been such an incredible season. They're one of the greatest teams in BYU history. My poster is a perfect souvenir to commemorate the season.

        I wish I could write about everything, but this post is taking enough time as it is. I went to the BYU Ballroom Concert, "imagine", last week with Hannah. I was good to see Ashley performing in that show. For the record, my favourite dance that evening was "A Drop in the Ocean", performed by Jared Kelson and Elisha Thompson, the 2011 US National Amateur Cabaret Champions. Last night I went out to Cold Stone with Meredith, which was a great date after a busy day studying. I went with Olive for a photoshoot on Monday, to get a picture for my mission plaque back home for when I leave on my mission. I posted my favourite one below. I hung out with Michelle on Wednesday, and we sat outside discussing the best parts of the year.
        I've enjoyed sleeping in the past couple of days. I've had a chance to see some friends, relax in the sun, and get a whole lot of studying done. Waking up late, biking to campus through the fresh morning air, and then studying. I love how the semester winds down to a finish. Today, I was on campus nine hours straight, including 4 hours in the library and almost three and a half hours in the Testing Center. I took my Book of Mormon and Econ finals today, and I'm really pleased with how they went. Just a few more days to go, and college will be over for good. For this year anyway. This really has been the greatest year of my life. I made extraordinary friends, made the most of every opportunity, and created unforgettable memories. One more week...

Sunday, 3 April 2011

"Now my feet won't touch the ground..."

-'Strawberry Swing', Coldplay

It's been a really brilliant weekend. Just a couple more weeks of school, and then this semester is over. It's gone by so quickly. It's been so awesome.

        It was a beautiful day on Friday. The sun rose over the mountains as I biked to school early in the morning. I had a great breakfast that set me up for the day, and went to class, studied some Bio outside, and then took my test in the Testing Center. That went well. Then I got a Mike Black Burrito from Taco Bell (when you're next at BYU you should definitely try it, it's fantastic), and then rode home in the 70-degree sunshine. It was the weekend. Friday night was a blast. #2 BYU Volleyball played #4 Long Beach State, and we went and cheered on the Cougars for the last home game of the season. It was great. 3 - 0. I wore my 'Front Row Fanatics' tee I won from the Daily Universe of Thursday, and we sat with the loud kids cheering BYU and jeering the opposition. Way to go Cougs. We met Alex DePron #23, a senior on the team, after the game. He's legit.

        We went to the rest of the rugby game after the volleyball game. They played University of Wyoming. My mate Pete, also from England, is on the team, and we went in and hung out with the team while the B-team were playing. We got pictures with the team, and then when the game was over, we threw and kicked the ball around on the rugby field until we got told not to. I was still pretty good at playing, it was so much fun.

        To finish up the day, we headed to Peaks Ice Arena for College Night and went skating for a couple of hours. Cody and I put on knee-pads and did some hockey drills, and then we practised transitions, backwards skating, cross-overs, and sprints. Tara taught us a couple of figure skating moves she learnt this semester, but being hockey players we weren't very elegant. There were a good group of us there, and it was great to socialise and have a laugh at the end of the week...

181st Annual General Conference
of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints
        Conference this weekend has been so uplifting. I've felt the Spirit as I was listening to the speakers, and really enjoyed seeing a couple of the sessions live in Salt Lake. We had tickets for the Saturday morning and Prieshood Sessions, and watched the Saturday afternoon in the Tabernacle in Temple Square. Having got only a few hours sleep, we napped during a couple of talks, but on the whole we took notes and were uplifted throughout the day. It was great to go up to Salt Lake City with Cody, Gary, and Kerby, and we saw some friends in Temple Square throughout the day including Carley and her family.
        One of my favourite talks was during the Saturday morning session by Kent F. Richards. He spoke about how pain in a gage of the healing process, and can teach us patience. It is through sorrow and suffering that we gain the education that we came here to acquire. We may suffer because of the actions of others. Trials are a part of God's plan of happiness, and the Atonement of Jesus Christ can heal us. "Return unto me . . . that I may heal you."
        Neil L. Anderson spoke about missions, and preparing the world for the Second Coming of Christ. I was so excited when Elder Anderson was talking, and couldn't stop thinking about serving in Greece later this year. "The blessing of bringing others into the Gospel far outweighs the sacrifice." Salvation truly does come only in and through the name of Christ.
        There were a lot of excellent talks given. I loved hearing from the First Presidency and other Apostles. And Pres. Cecil O. Samuelson spoke, it was great to hear him speak at Conference! Today we made chocolate chip pancakes and watched the sessions with friends here at BYU. Watching all ten hours was brilliant and I loved it. Conference is always so uplifting and encouraging. Next time I watch Conference, I'll be in Ελλάδα...

Chris and Kyle Collinsworth
        The Collinsworth brothers came to ward prayer tonight and spoke. It was so great to have them at ward prayer, and I was so excited to meet them both. They talked about what it's like to be on the BYU Basketball team, and really emphasised going on a mission. I'm actually going to be in the MTC with Kyle next month. Chris talked about his mission in Australia, and his assualt while he was there. He talked about how he and his companion got stabbed, but the Lord was watching over them and angels truly were protecting them. The Spirit was strong as he related the story to us. We got to hang out and get pics and signatures after ward prayer, and I spoke with Kyle for a bit. He's really awesome, and so chill.
        A great end to the weekend.