A Year Of Progress: I love tough things

IMG_1389

A year ago today, March 6, 2015, I left the land of Chomping Gators, Screaming Indians, sweet potato eating, southern people of Jacksonville Florida and Southern Georgia. A year ago, I took of my name badge and became a “return missionary”. Going on my mission, I was told that it would be the hardest thing of my whole life however, this past year has taught me that going home has been the hardest thing I have ever done. This weekend, I have taken the time to reflect on all things that has happened to me in just 365 and the person that I have become. The past year has taught and brought me closer to my savior then ever before and I’d like to write about a few ways how.

Coming home with a torn achilles tendon was one of the hardest things ever as I have had to learn how to re-walk and eventually learn how to run again. In a slow progression, I learned how to become whole again. Physically, I got to be healed and restored new. I’ll never forget the look of my mother’s face when I walked out of the doctor’s office in a giant boot. She was so shocked. Months of physical therapy where at times I was discouraged and left thinking I would never get to run again. The atonement of Jesus Christ was there in every aspect and helped me get rid of the fears that lingered in the back of my mind.

Coming home was a mental challenge. All return missionaries experience heart break as they leave the one place that their true love is. Words can’t express how challenging it is to mentally pick up life in a new world after your heart has been shattered. My mission motto was “I love tough things, I am the first to do tough things, I do tough things first.” I can remembering the plane taking off and my heart felt like it was being ripped out and then a familiar voice telling me that I love tough things. Coming home, that has been my motivator to do things that I don’t mental think I can do. Mentally, the Savior has helped me over come the struggles in my mind of insecurities, regret, and fears. The Savior is there to remind me that I can do the tough things that I don’t feel that I can do.

Moving to Provo, UT has been greatest blessing and I never thought I would say that. I live with three amazing men of God that teach me daily what it means to be a true disciple of Jesus Christ. I can see through their examples how to Love God and Jesus Christ so much more. They have looked past my faults and challenge me to be a better person. They have helped me over come my addiction to the word hell and all the bad days that have come from heart break, bad break ups, terrible test days, and to not getting an internship of a life time. They continue to pick me up and help me be a better man.

Provo has given the Provo City Center Temple. This temple, though not dedicated, has been the biggest blessing me. I live five blocks away and makes me so happy every day. It has given me a deeper prospective of an eternal life and its where my soul feels the happiest. Its where I escape the world and remember the importance of all things in life. This temple has helped me to think of Jesus on such a different level that I can’t help but thank him for all that he has done.

IMG_1369

The past year has been a rollercoaster but as I continue to move forward I know that my Savior will be there for all aspects. I am so grateful for the amazing people that I have met this year to help me on this path of coming to the world and moving forward. At first, I was very hesitant on adapting but as I sit here in my Gator hat, I am very glad that I have. I am glad that I have had the experiences that I have had this past year from the heart aches, to the new loves, to new adventures, to the many new mountains that I climb daily. Though I miss Florida and Georgia deeply, I am glad for this new phase in my life and the person that I continue to grow to be. I love the Tough Things that I have overcame and face head one with my Savior there to help me.

 


My Toms

IMG_1383

Today, a lady at school told me I should consider getting new shoes because they are covered in paint and have holes in the heel as well in the toe. At first, I was rather irate with this lady as I was thinking she doesn’t even know the story that this pair of shoes and I have made.

These shoes are the first Toms I ever bought. The purchase was made in Missoula, Montana on get away trip with Hayley Harned our junior year of college. They’ve literally gone everywhere with me. They started as my lazy shoe to wear school and work so I didn’t have to wear socks, which I hate, or lace my shoes. They became my bus shoe as we would travel almost every weekend to a meet in Track and Cross Country. They have traveled all over the state of Montana, Idaho, Washington, Oregon, Wyoming, South Dakota, and Utah to be there before and after the race. They have walked through loads of snow in the cold Montana days. In the summer, they went to Glacier National Park to see hidden lake and Yellowstone Nation Park so I could see a moose. They went on a New Orleans trip to build homes for Katrina victims and walked up and down the poor streets. They got their white paint from Selena Spees throwing paint at me while we were suppose to be working. They’ve been to Soup Kitchens in New Orleans, Washington, and Oregon.

They traveled back home to Washington and became my go to church shoe before my mission. They were there to help me work and save money to get ready for a mission. They saw me after many pool workouts when getting injured. They climbed Mount Rainer and Mount Hood. They’ve long-boarded down massive hills of the Tri-cities and Prosser.

I choose to take them on my mission where they become the most use. In Georgia, they helped find millions of bricks in the Corbits yard. They helped the Corbits build a deck and cleaned many yards. They were there to help build a fence for the West family even though Diane thought they were ridiculous.  On my mission, they were there to be my relief. After a hard day of work, I could slip these shoes on and take my troubles away. They helped me transition out of the world as I still had a piece of me.

Moving to Jacksonville, these shoes have rakedtheir fare share of leaves! There were two weeks sold were they were used to rake massive amounts of leaves for many people. They’ve fished off the docks of Beth and Kendall Williams and ran through the fields of Arlington. They obtained the teal paint from painting for BriAna McGhee, my favorite part. She finally let James Collins and I do something for her and we had just a little too much fun. They got the white paint from painting in Hendricks. They smelled up the car and had to be placed in the trunk in Hendricks and planted flowers for Jim Colney.

In Chiefland, these shoes saw manual labor as they helped dig ditches and feed livestock. They raked the grass of the Gibs and pulled weeds for an Irish couple. In St Johns, they became my doctor shoe as they saw many doctors regarding my tendon.

Coming home from my mission, these shoes have climbed Mount Rainer with my mom, watered the Jensen’s lawn, and feed sheep for the Holdens. They’ve been in the kayak on the Yakima River and the Columbia. They’ve been my adventure buddy. Recently, they been my shoe to feed the homeless in Salt Lake and a reminder of the adventures I’ve had. Four weeks ago, they hiked the Y in Provo. These Toms have literally been everywhere with me and will continue to see a lot of life. They are there to ride my Penny board down the hills of Orem and Provo. We’ve had a good five years! So to that lady, I’ll continue to keep my “ugly” worn Toms that let my big toe hang out.

 

 

 


For the Love of St Johns Florida

Actually a year ago today, God gave me the greatest blessing ever. He transferred me to serve in the St Johns Ward with Elder Steven Taylor Anderson. This is transfer was the most crucial of all my mission for so many reasons. Many people have asked me since coming home from my mission on which area was my favorite and I try so hard not to answer this question because God gave me five amazing areas that I hold deeply in my heart for different reasons. However, St Johns is an area that I hold the deepest and the most sacred. This is area was an answer to so many prayers. I refer to St Johns as my grace for reasons that I have only shared with a few people. On this anniversary I’d like to come clean on why I love this area so much as I’ve been reflecting on it for the past few months lately.

Prior to be transferred to St Johns, I was battle two major trials: depression and a torn Achilles. While serving in the amazing Arlington, I witnessed something that startled me. Something that was so horrific that it shook me to my core. Instead of asking for help, I figured that I could shake it off. I was wrong and in doing so, Satan was able to attack me in a way that I never thought could be possible. He began feeding on my insecurities, my struggles, and the problems I’ve never solved with my life. He attacked me so much for nine months. I tried so hard to fight it and fake a smile each day but in time it becomes harder to smile when it’s forced. I lost my ability to laugh above all. There were three months where I couldn’t laugh at all. I feel so bad for the Cheifland Ward because they had to see me at my all time low. Depression is a true thing that can hit even the strongest of people.

When I tore my Achilles, satan was able to feed so much more on me. I was in so much pain and I could barely walk which made me feel like a terrible servant of the Lord. I felt so bad for having to slow down my companions. I felt bad that I allowed myself to become weak. The perfectionist in me saw it as a flaw that I couldn’t let anyone see. However, the truth though, I was dying in so much pain. Each step I took was agony and I couldn’t handle it. So the combination of the two trials were killing me and I became a wreck. I felt like a failure and was not happy by any means. I began crying daily and I finally realized that I couldn’t do it alone. I needed the help of my savior’s atonement and I needed relief. I just so desperately needed laughter and happiness. I needed to know that all the hard work that I was doing was paying off. I finally had the courage to ask God for help and told him I could take it any longer. Going home early from my mission was not an option and I let him know that. However, I asked God for relief and help.

God answers all prayers. Before I continue, everything I’ve mentioned prior, I mention it not to have one feel sorry but instead to show that God really does answer our prayers. To show that God has a much better way than how we feel it. For me, God answered my prayers by sending me to the St Johns. This transfer did three major things for me.First being able to see my best friend at least once a month for the last four and half months of my mission. Josh Cordon has saved my life on so many occasions. He is my person in which I tell all my problems to and he so gratefully listens and then lifts me up. He there for some of the worst doctor appointments and was there when I needed him the most. I am forever in debited to this man for all that he has done for me.

unnamed-4

Second, God gave me Elder Steven Taylor Anderson. This man is a life saver in which I can’t wait for November 13 to come because he comes from his mission. Elder Anderson was a huge answer to my prayers as he listened to me. He loved me and he inspired me. He allowed for me to not think about all my problems but rather think about how I could help him with his. He did the most service to me in biggest time of need. I’ll never forget the week in which I couldn’t walk after biking all week due to be out of miles from doctor’s appointments. I felt so bad that we had to spend a whole week biking. My ankle was so enlarged, throbbing, and absolutely the worst pain I’ve ever experienced. Worst week of my life! That man, carried me up those stairs with no questions asked when I was struggling to crawl up the stares. His huge heart was exactly what I needed. Though I tried to fight his service, he wouldn’t let me refuse it. He brought laughter back into my life as the two of us were able to laugh through so many things daily. He saved my life. He woke the lion that was inside of me dying to come out. He was the biggest blessing ever.

11022532_1621681828067542_4823330533857791271_n 10390931_1619857721583286_7276687725447713970_n

Thirdly, God gave me the St Johns ward. For those of you that don’t know, St Johns is by far the richest part of the FJM. It has large beautiful homes and everyone there is rolling in dough. Its made up mostly of young families and they have no time for anyone between the work, PTA, golf, swim, soccer, band, football, dance, play dates, school, parties, vacations, and the list goes on. Each person there is beyond busy that I have no idea how they do it all. It’s the prime and the priss. When I first got there, I was beyond scarred of these massive homes and the wealthy families that are trying to keep up with the Jones on the conner of the street. However, these people are the best. This ward showed me so much love that it is beyond real. This large and loud ward taught me the most lessons of all. The St Johns ward has the best members of the church with the biggest hearts. For example, the Hicks, in my mind, are the most model family ever! They were so inspired as they just so happened to feed me after every doctor appointment that I had. They have four amazing kids and the parents are beyond spiritual. They are laid back and so funny. Best part, they eat everything off paper plates and plastic forks. I don’t think they know of grateful this gesture was because I was so scarred that I would break a plate or glass in this area. It took so much pressure off haha. Their crazy kids were the best to sit next to on Sundays as they let you eat their treats in the pews. So great! Mike Hicks gave me the most guidance ever! He is one that I truly look up to.

Teylor Sonognini was the biggest part of St Johns that brought laughter and happiness to my life. Tey is a special gift! She is handicap but doesn’t let that stop her from living life. She became my very own best friend. I am convinced that she and I knew each other before coming to earth as we have a special connection. She let live my inner child again and always had the biggest smiles when I would see her. I think my favorite time was when her dad took her out of sacrament because she was not having a good day. She saw me sitting on the couch waiting for a meeting and ran up to tell me a joke. That day, I needed a joke from Tey more than anything as I was able to crumble inside. She taught me not take life so serious. I am so grateful for her parents as they are my heroes! The work they put in with Tey and the rest of their siblings is breath-taking. They have done so much for me that it can’t be numbered.

11006388_1619855444916847_7077830032701630200_n

I am so grateful for the Mcintosh family. Brother Mc is by far the best ward mission leader ever!! Bless his heart because had to do so much to keep me sane. He had to see my biggest break downs and see me on my worsts and yet he helped me to fight through it all. The Greers are the coolest family ever! They have all the latest technology and are so humble! I have never once heard them brag about anything but rather be so willing to offer it to help others. They also have swag above anyone else! The Reinhardts taught me to own the swag that you do have, especially Sister Reinhardt. Sister Reinhardt became one of the most helpful to me as she unselfishly made room in her busy schedule to help almost all my investigators. The Lewis’ are a breath of fresh air. Sister Lewis helped me on so many levels and never blinked to do so. She helped me laugh through the hardest of days. The Postons are the biggest inspiration ever!! They taught me to trust in God through their circumstances. They are incredible. I look up to them so much. I love their love for the gospel and their willingness to do so much! The Fosters were my safe haven. They were the family that let just relax. They were by far the funniest family ever!! Sister Foster can really get me laughing! Brother Eckery taught me that each you need to relax and a little dosage of gossip is a good thing! Every Saturday, we had cookie party which really never had a gospel aspect but rather it was a chance to destress from the week. He is an amazing man!! Bishop Moody is the greatest bishop ever!! Hands down the bishop with the biggest heart. The Bakers are coolest people in the ward by far! Sam was best young men’s leader I have ever seen. Truly inspiring. Brother Jordan is the greatest Elder’s president ever. I have always hated going to the third hour of church till I got the joy of being taught by him. The Jenkins challenged me spiritually and expanded my love for the scriptures every time we went over to their place. They helped me to learn so many amazing things in the scriptures. MAMMA MARRA is the heart of the ward!! That women is best!! I can’t express how grateful I am to her! Richie Williams taught me it was ok be a normal person as a missionary. In my whole two years, he was the only person that actually had an interest in who Riley was and not Elder Frazier. He let me be my true self in a time that I strongly needed to find my self again. The Burmeisters are just amazing!! I love them so much. They are the funniest. The Garlands make the best food ever and have the biggest hearts! They have showed me love even when I knew it was struggle for them. They are the greatest neighbors ever. I am so grateful that I still get to see them. Jackson Crandal and his family were the kindest when it was cold! They saved me on so many cold nights when I thought I couldn’t peddle again. Words don’t express how grateful I am for them.

The Sister’s I got to serve with in this area were so amazing and helped to carry on. They were an inspiration to keep fighting. Thank you so much to Sister Larson, Sister Sorenson, Sister Hawkins, and Sister Bolos. The four of you taught me much and were so amazing. Such hard working and caring. I am so glad that were able to serve together.

10888516_407659759384117_7129628583302099379_n-1 10329046_4907474940666_6844399135797875843_n

Lastly, God gave me Lesile Manna to teach. This women is the funniest thing to ever walk this earth. She was the person that taught me to laugh at the hardest of things. To thank God for being there to wake you up and to take a step forward when life is hard. She taught me that you can rise from the worst things. She taught me to embrace life and just carry on. If  anything, there is always something to laugh at at the end of the day.

I know this was long and forgive me for that. I know there are so many that I failed to mention in this post but I am also grateful for them. I couldn’t go on and on about the love I have for this amazing place. Words can’t express how grateful that God gave me this special place. I am so grateful for the lessons this place has taught me. I couldn’t have moved to Utah if it wasn’t for this beautiful place. Thank you for all that you have done for me! Thank you for saving me! This post can’t do it justice.


Welcome to Utah

I think I’m getting older. Older in the aspect that I have learned that I need to continue to progress and grow as a person and once again progression has found its way into my life. Progression in so many ways. Before my mission, I had my whole life figured out. I knew what I wanted to do and I was going to the be the person that would do whatever it took to make that plan work. Going on my mission, was the first time in my life where the Lord told me to do something drastic and I was obedient and did it. (in which I would like to add, it was well worth it though I was terrified in the beginning.) On my mission, I figured I would just continue the plan that I set in place. However, towards the last six months of my mission, that plan began to not fill like the right idea. So with much prayer and fasting and trying to figure out things, I proposed a plan to the Lord and instead of getting a yes, I got a different answer. I was told to move to Provo, Utah of all places.

utah_state_sign

Let me say, I have despised the idea of moving to Utah. Though I’m Mormon, I never in a million years have wanted to live in the state filled with Mormons. I’ve liked the idea of being the only Mormon in my friends. It has given me a unique twist to my life. However, I decided that I would be obedient. The process of moving to Utah has been an interesting one. This process has taught and showed me how being obedient to what the Lord tells us to do, that the windows of heaven will be poured out to us. When he told me to go to Provo, I had no idea what to do. I had no idea how it would all work out. I had no idea what to do. With faith and prayer, I’ve seen the Lord just make everything fall into place. Its shown me how much the Lord really listens to me and gives me council.

More than anything, coming to Utah, a week ago, has given me happiness again. Living in Prosser is really hard for me. As a return missionary, I found myself lost. I found myself feeling as if I had back slid in life. I found myself not laughing again and overly stressed. Couple weeks ago, I asked God to give me happiness again and my answer was to be patient. Well, moving to Provo has been the happiest thing I’ve ever done. Major thanks to Peter Searle, Sadie Johnson, and Megan McCleary. True happiness has come even in the one hour we get together to run at night. The grosume foursome is the highlight of my day. This week, I’ve thrown myself into the library where I’ve literally locked out the world and threw myself into studying about Money mostly. Each day, the four of us have gotten together and have let the inner us come out though its  mostly loud laughter.

A week ago, I was terrified of the drastic change that I was making. I have no idea why I’m in Provo. I have no idea what the purpose of me living here is. All I know is that the Lord told me to go and I listened. I’m excited for the adventures that are going to be made here (even though a man just walked pasted me dressed like Jesus). So for now, here is to the growth and change of life. Here is to a new phase. Here is to being patient to see the purpose that the Lord has for me. Also, its misty rainy today which is my favorite thing in the whole wide world. Its comes on the greatest of days to show God’s love for me.

5463765_orig

11935018_10206064426223792_3191757875608840751_n

11906783_1097079726976628_4752855438045680677_n-1


This Slope is Treacherous

Throughout life, I’ve come to learn that God just doesn’t want you to be comfortable. This seems to be a reoccurring theme of life it seems. They say that there is absolutely no growth in the comfortable zone, though at times it would be nice to have just a moment of comfort. It seems that the moment one becomes comfortable, then we have to get ready because another twist is brought into the equation and once again we find ourselves climbing another mountain.

One of the things that I love about the gospel of Jesus Christ is the aspect of keeping an eternal progression. As we strive for perfection and for eternal progression, we have to grow to be there. That is one of the reasons why we are placed on this earth, to grow. Growth always seems daunting. In the beginning of the growth stage, its rather challenging. We look at the mountain and wonder, are we ever going to make it up? Is the top really a tangible object? However, as we put our chin up and charge the mountain we receive the greatest reward.

url

Currently, my life has entered into yet another growing stage. About a week ago, I was sitting across the table at red robin with my friend Evan and I finally felt for the first time in two months that I was ok with being home. With the help of Evan, I was able to climb one of the hardest mountains I’ve ever climbed: Adjusting to Real Life. This montain is one that I feel that I’m still climbing but I was able to make it to a check point the other day. So like all great mountains, I said goodbye to my friend as he returned to serve the Lord for two years. My amazing friend who was there to hear me out. Who was there when I needed him the most. I truly believe that he was home these past few months to help me grow. God knew that I needed his help. Now, I’ve come to a point where sadly, I need to climb the mountain without his help as he has own new mountain to climb.

Like all mountains, the slopes are never the best part. They’re rough, tough, and treacherous. All mountains are placed for the greater good and while we are getting to those slopes, we just have to hold on to hope and love of God. We have to trust him that they are for the greater good.

17638_10206595227617244_4734275696507914779_n


Things Come in Disguise

I think its human nature for us to be ungrateful for the things that we have in life. Its part of who we are to want more than we have and not fully care for the little things that are given to us. I realized this this past week as I found myself ungrateful for the things in my life. I found myself upset with how my life was going and where I was at in life. Which is a sad thing to say. Sometimes, we have to stop and take a look at our life in a different angle to see all of the good that is given to each of us. I really hate the town of Prosser. I have never been grateful of this small little town. I have blamed it as the place where all my problems in life exist. However, while at a JV Baseball game. I came to realize how good Prosser was for growing up. I had such great opportunities that no other town could have given. Coming back to this place after living in the blessed Florida for two years has not been easy. I have found my self avoiding everyone here. I have hid from the world of Prosser so that I didn’t have to show myself to this town. However, I realize how terrible that is. Being back in Prosser, is where the Lord has needed me to be. Being home has been good. I realized how lucky I am to be in this place. I get the blessing of going to the temple twice a week or even more. Its literally just down the road from where I lived. Living twenty minutes away from the house of the Lord has been a major blessing that I wasn’t fully grateful for. While sitting and watching movies with my family this week, I realized that I haven’t had my mom and Raphael to myself in my whole life. This is the first time that it has just been me at home. How grateful I am to be able to get to know them even more. They truly have done so much for me. Lastly, I realized how grateful that the Lord has given me such a great friend here in Prosser: Evan Jensen. Though I’m suppose to be helping him, I find that he is helping me more. What a blessing it has been to have a friend here in this town. He has got me out to do many things and given me the chance to help another once again. He has made me so proud as I have gotten to watch so much progression take place in just the six weeks that I have been home. Being able to go to the temple with him this past week was so humbling. I might not have all the things that I want in life right now. I might not be living the glamours life like others but I have so much to be thankful for right now. The Lord has answered my endless prayers in ways that I couldn’t of even thought of. Its truly a great  to just sit back and to count the endless blessing that have been given to me. Blessings are truly given to us in ways that we don’t always accept or think of.  They come each day. We just have to look at times to see them.


Hipster Mormon

Being one to proclaim my religion was never a thing I would choose to do my whole life till I went on my mission. In fact, going on my mission was the first time that I publicly declared to all my friends that I was Mormon. After serving two years in the south, I learned how religion really does make the person and to be proud of things that make you you. I use to be embarrassed to tell people that I was a Mormon. Being Mormon is like telling your friends your pregnant or homosexual. Its something that in society that is always very unacceptable, unless you live Utah. Being Mormon comes with all the crazy stereotypes: multiple wives, homemade clothing, and a family of at least seven to name few. However, I don’t fit the mold of your typical Mormon at all, which was another reason I never allowed people to know that I was Mormon. In fact, most Mormons don’t fit the “Mormon Mold” expect those that are the mold. I watched people in high school and college get made fun of for being a Mormon. It was something that I never wanted to happen to me, so I kept it quiet. However, I am very proud to be a Mormon. Being a Mormon is the greatest thing in my life. It allows for me to be who I am. It was helped me come closer to God and Jesus Christ. As a Mormon, I am Christian. I fully love Christ and try hard to be like him. I study from the scriptures each day for the purpose of studying who Christ is. I love Christ more than anything. Being a Mormon gives me so much purpose and direction to my life. It is what makes my life so meaningful. It what motivates me to be the crazy, outgoing, wheat thin lover, die hard runner, hipster person that I am. I might not be the traditional person but I am so proud to be a Mormon. I am not scared to say that I belong to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints but rather I am beyond glad to declare that I am a Mormon! Embracing my Mormon life has been one of greatest blessings for me.