Saturday, March 15, 2014

Your Average Mormon Missionary

[210 Days]

210 days ago I arrived in this little area-- we'll call it small town. 210 days ago I was overcome with concern. I didn't know how to do missionary work in a town with 4 stop could knock every door in a week! And could there possibly be more cows than people? It seemed like it to me. My only consolation was my imagined confidence that I would be transferred out as soon as possible. I just knew I wouldn't be here long!

Then 210 days happened.

210 days that changed me and are making my actual transfer out of small town immensely difficult. My time here has shaped me...I feel different after serving here and I think I know why.

These people have taught me how to love the way that Christ loves. The people here, members and non members alike, truly live the gospel of Jesus Christ. They "are willing to mourn with those that mourn; yea, and comfort those that stand in need of comfort, and to stand as witnesses of God at all times and in all things, and in all places that [they] may be in."

My time in small town was not without challenges, but I felt I was able to face these challenges with greater strength because of the love of the people here. For 210 days I could feel the love and encouragement from these people as I did my best to love and serve them. Though my attempts were imperfect and inadequate, I knew that they loved me for trying, not by any merit of my own but because they were Christlike people! I honestly felt their Christlike love. Their examples were crucial in helping me learn that we really do come to love those that we serve. As we do our best to serve as Christ served, we are blessed with a greater capacity to love as Christ loved. The distance between where I am and where I should be in the "charity department" is immense but with the help of everybody here in small town, I feel like my eyes have been opened to the joy that comes from Christlike love. That is why I feel different. Loving people the way that Christ loves adds a new dimension to life that is truly indescribable. 
I love these people with all that I have and all that I am. They are an extension of my family and small town is an extension of my home. Though I may just be your average Mormon missionary, I dare say the love I feel for all that these last 210 days have encompassed is anything but average.

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Blog Retention

We've all seen it, I think. We find someone who is absolutely elect. They commit to baptism in the first lesson, and make every necessary change to repent and be baptized. Soon, they're the newest member in the church, excited to be going to the temple, get a calling, go home or visiting teaching... A few weeks later, they miss a couple Sundays here and there, and then stop coming altogether. What happened to that elect person with Christ's light shining in their eyes?
I'm noticing a trend amongst missionary blogs that makes me a bit concerned. A missionary gets an idea for a blog, and it's brilliant! So they write some posts, maybe even two in one week. They post regularly for a month or so, then they miss a week here and there, then the posts stop coming entirely, like the missionary has forgotten that they have a blog.

The problem in both cases is the same. Becoming an active member and creating a well-established blog is hard work, which sometimes isn't foreseen until the hard times come. The days get busy, the week rushes by, and before you know it, Sunday has come again and you have to make the decision again: Am I going to go to church today or not?

Not Fat Cyclist
I had the opportunity to meet a blogger called Fat Cyclist, whose blog makes him a bit of money and has given him some fame amongst the cycling world. He did not get to that point by casually posting entries here and there. It might have started out that way, but it took him a lot of work to get to the point where he is today. One of his keys to success is his schedule. He posts on certain days of the week when people are more likely to be reading his blog,and it is the same every single week. (I know it's not Friday or the weekend because fewer people are online at that time.) On top of that, he writes several posts in advance and keeps them in reserve for when he publishes them. He keeps a list of ideas and updates it frequently.  He spends a lot of time thinking about his blog.

Now, we're not trying to become Fat Cyclist. We've got other things to be thinking about as missionaries. But we have to set aside time to think about and write our blogs. The other week, I decided that my day to update my blogs would be Wednesdays, and I would spend the rest of the week writing the posts with Monday being my best day to do so. I missed my deadline last week due to unforeseen circumstances, but then I tried to make that happen as soon as possible.

The trick is to make the decision and schedule now. On Sundays, we go to church. On Mondays, I write my blog posts for the week. On Wednesdays, I proof-read and post them. This schedule should be made before you even put up your first blog post, and then everything else should fall into place. If you don't have one, I challenge you to make one. You don't have to post weekly, but you must post regularly. Make your blog an Active blog.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Challenge Post: Pagebreak Cliffhanger

...and blog post lengths.
So, we've focused on posts that are short. Now for a post that is unashamedly long, because sometimes you have a lot to say. You probably don't want to overwhelm your reader right off, so what can you do? Let's say that in this particular post, you introduce your topic with an interesting story.

For instance, you could be doing a three page long discourse on Sin. You begin with the story of a little boy camping in the desert with his family. As he leaves his tent one morning, he decides to wear flip-flops instead of shoes on this short walk into the wilderness, telling himself that they're good enough. Suddenly, he feels a sting in the arch of his foot and a burning pain ruses up his leg. In the sand, a scorpion races away triumphantly, leaving the screaming boy behind in the sand.

Page Break!

In a desire to see if the boy survives or how this story relates to Sin, readers will click on 'Read More,' which boosts your numbers and helps them be more involved. The page break also helps your front page look less overwhelming because it will have more stories for them to choose from, even before they start scrolling. This part of your blog, the 'above the fold' part, is important because it's the first thing readers see.

Your challenge, should you choose to accept it, is to write a creative cliffhanger using a page break, in a post that pertains to a gospel principle and fits in with the tone of your blog. Put your posts down there in the comments. The best one wins invisible cookies and 2,000 internet points!

Lights, Camera, Lopez!

By Elder Lopez
"To err is human"
-The king guy, I can't remember his name...

To answer your question, yes,
it is THAT epic
Right on! I get to talk about my people! "You're ancestors were Aztec or Mayan?" Well... No... "Wait, then what ar-" My people! The Lamanites! "Laman-whats? You come from a people who were lame? I'm sorry to hear that..." Wha-? NO! LAMANITES, they are a people from the Book of Mormon! "Oh... alright..." See, the Aztecs, Mayans, and all those folk all share ancestry with the Lamanites. Well, if you do or do not already know, Christ visited the ancient inhabitants of the Americas and ministered unto them. It's really quite Awesome! to put it so very eloquently. "Of course. So... The Road to El Dorado?" Oh yea right. 
Well in the aforementioned movie, the main characters find themselves among an ancient American people whom we are gonna say are Aztec for all intents and purposes. (If I'm wrong, well... If you wanna hear about another instance of Lamanites in movies, click here!) Now the people believed the main characters (I don't remember their names, give me a break) to be Gods due to a series of VERY fortunate events which involved the stopping of a volcano's mighty eruption! 
Even in history, when the conquistadors came to the Americas, they were for the most part very well received due to the fact that the natives thought they were Gods. "I'm not seeing where this is going." Hold up, I'm getting there. So the natives told these Spainish (I know how I spelled it, get it? Spainish? from Spain?) explorers that they have been waiting for men of fair skin (white skin, I don't know, don't ask) with beards and shining clothes (their armor) to return to them for a second time. Now this is where it starts to get crazy. How would they have known about these strangers if they hadn't before beheld men such as these? "Your grammar is improving." Yea I found a dictionary the other day. The answer to that question dear reader, is because they already saw one before! Cue dramatic music! DUH-DUH-DUH!!!

Bible and the Book of Mormon,
Like PB&J
"Are you saying that the man they saw the first time was Christ? And that's why the ancient inhabitants believed Cortez and the others to be Christ and his angels?" N- actually... that's exactly what I meant... "Well you know, after a while you start to piece things together." True. "That's a little far-fetched though. I mean it says nothing like that in the history books or the Bible." Oh but it does Dear Reader! John 10:16 says,
"And other sheep I have, which are not of this fold: them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice; and there shall be onefold, and one shepherd."

"Huh, that is pretty crazy." But that's not all! "It's not?" Cause in 3 Nephi 15:21 it says...!
"And verily I say unto you, that ye are they of whom I said: Other sheep I have which are not of this fold; them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice; and there shall be one fold, and one shepherd."

Mind you this is Christ Himself speaking to the inhabitants of the Americas. It's actually a good couple of chapters (11-16 cough cough), you should give it a looksee. The blond main character's name is Julio! I remember! "Wow, random but alright, but can you remember the other guys name?" Sigh... This is gonna be a long night...