Tuesday, July 28, 2009

That's So Mormon!

The phrase gets used a lot - by my non-LDS friends, my LDS buds and myself. Usually, I've heard it used in the context of cooking, scrapbooking, baking, getting married and wanting to have kids. In reality, it's everything that embodies an amazing woman who, with or without the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints... is probably already seeking for such traditional and inherent pasttimes. This does not negate the fact that a woman can still be eloquent, intelligent and educated - only that the fact that the phrase is used so often, makes me realize how far society has influenced us to believe we must separate the two spectrums when in fact, it can be one.

With life moving at the supreme speed of light, with everything automated and abbreviated, with acronyms overflowing our colloquial conversations, with encouragement and emphasis on efficiency and effectiveness... have we become so far removed from that which makes us happy that the phrase "That's so Mormon" can even exist for anything fundamentally beautiful such as cooking... craft making... getting married... and heaven forbid... wanting kids?!

The daunting question and the curiosity that resides with everyone's question of ..."what's next?" constantly looms - LDS or not. Hauntingly, there's the knowledge that one should carpe diem and live everyday as if it were your last... but let's be frank, if it were you last... what would you be doing? Would you be eagerly looking for that special someone to start a family with? Would you be eagerly looking for a fulfilling career? Would you be eagerly partaking in hobbies that complete you?

That's So Mormon is awesome. Don't be afraid of it. And when I use it towards you, know that it just means for that precise moment, you denied the standards society sets for you and celebrated being you. And that you ... might be baking, might be sewing, might be scrapbooking, might be cleaning... but that doesn't mean that you might not also be reading the journal, talking about politics, strategizing your finances or critically thinking. The two are not mutually exclusive!

And I leave you with my favorite recent "That's so Mormon" moments...

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

So I Can't Just Pray and Wait Passively?...

At work, we always tell associates to be proactive. You want to get involved but don't know how? Be proactive! You're unassigned right now and need to get staffed quickly? Be proactive! You're unhappy with your schedule or team? Be proactive!

It took me a couple years to truly learn the meaning behind this "be proactive" catchphrase we so often throw out at staff. It took me a couple of tries to really understand navigating "proactiveness." There's a fine line between being proactive - healthy energy and eagerness to reach out to others, define one's own goals and work towards them... and an unhealthy and often even dangerous aura that comes from being a bit too over-eager and coming across as impatient, annoying and obsessed.

In my mind, healthy "proactiveness" consists of a few steps.
1) Research - Whatever you may want to do - whether it's joining an organization or getting to know the right people, you can't just openly ask someone to assist you without doing some of your own research first.
2) Ownership - Taking ownership of your own goals means defining them, understanding them, going after them and measuring yourself once there. Do you have a goal? Do you know how to get to that goal? Did you go after it? How do you know if you're there?
3) Positive attitude - Tude is so important. How many times does a bad tude annoy you and make you look the other way, make you pretend you didn't hear something and in the end, make you an indifferent bystander? I often analogize (is that a word?) this with interns. Bright eyed, young and in shape (I kid you not - so obvious when there's a group of hot interns versus wise and experienced auditors), the interns all have the same skill set. I wouldn't expect them to know more as for many, this is their first job. So what matters? The tude! Are they excited and grateful for every task you give them - small or not, do they take it on with a passion that shows they will do great with ordering lunch, copying papers or participating in a client meeting?
4) Patience - Results don't always come as quickly as an acidity pH science experiment. Part of understanding how to be proactive is to work towards your goals and then realize, not everything is immediate and waiting is okay.

When it comes to prayer, it often feels like I need to kick myself in the butt and say ... don't be so overly proactive with your prayers!

I have been trying to move out of the Mom and Pops wonderful home and find a place for myself so I can
a) cook in my own kitchen
b) decorate my own living room
c) organize my life into boxes inside cabinets
d) host and have others over
The cooking reason might sound funny because my parents do have a kitchen, but until it's your own - there's always the constant frustration of where is everything put, why is it not more organized and then Momma Chou's rebuttal of - when you get your own kitchen, you can do things however you'd like! Noted. The decorating thing is just my way of expressing myself beyond my bedroom. The organizational analness is just part of who I am and playing hostess has always been fun and rewarding for me so I patiently await that opportunity once more.

In anticipation of having my prayers answered, I became slothful. Having moved from the Westside to Pasadena then to San Jose then back to Arcadia and then down about a mile... I have remnants of each move carefully situated in the office, my bedroom, the garage, and the old house. My clothes are dispersed into four closets (two at the new house and two at the old), some of my old photo frames have broken during the move while others sit inside boxes and my current wardrobe is normally scattered across suitcases and stuffed inside drawers. This might sound normal to some, but for me, it's highly unordinary. In fact, my brother once told me he thought all girls were neat because of me and then he realized, I'm just really uncharacteristically anal beyond belief.

The same happened with my finances. Thinking I would move soon, I kept putting off opening my mail (everything's online anyway) and as a result... still have not closed my Washington Mutual, now Chase Manhattan account nor my zero balance Charles Schwab account (which has interest on your checking account with no fees but you have to transfer the money in bi-weekly - and which seemed like a great and fantastic idea at first but my laziness overcame that one), still have not moved my IRA account to my financial planner's institution and still have not checked my 401K balance lately (I'm really scared to look.. it's probably 50% down?), still have not updated my monthly budget and spending trends (I looked last night - the last time was October 2007..eek), and still have not figured out how much I should be spending. I attribute such laziness to the fact that I'm quite thrifty and knowing that I can save without paying finite attention to my budget puts me at ease. Unfortunately, as of late, I have been spending money on a personal trainer, updating my work wardrobe (them slacks from 2004 still look good though!), and a new car (the initial downpayment really hurt my bank balance).

Praying that God would help me find a house... I waited patiently. And my room became messy. And my finances became even messier.

I guess God found an answer for me.. in the form of reawakening my organizational and financial saavy-ness because I had an epiphany on Sunday night. Momma Chou triggered it by asking me how long I was going to let me room fall apart and why I was so messy lately. I caught myself before answering, but I was seriously, insanely and completely about to say - because I'm waiting to move.

What are you doing Daisy? Are you kidding me? You don't have a house and your room and finances are falling apart while you wait patiently for it to happen!

God has a sense of humor. Why? you ask? Coincidentally, a friend sent me some talks about timing, patience and the law of increasing returns (get it, instead of diminishing returns) and I chuckled in response because two of those talks, he had sent me before but forgotten. So almost as a way of God reminding me... I recalled the useful counseling from those talks. Isn't He amazing?! He's always got my back!

You see...I can't just wait pray and wait passively.... or even patiently... but actively. Similar to being proactive, there's a fine balance - but either extremes should be avoided and middle ground should be what I aim for. A piece of advice given to men during Priesthood Session in Conference was as follows... Pray feverently. Study diligently. Live righteously. What I like about it is... the last two pieces of advice come after the first. It's not okay to JUST pray... you have to also study diligently and live righteously.

So I cleaned up my room. I have a huge bag of clothes to give away, my hanging work clothes are by slacks, skirts, and tops and all color coordinated while my drawers are by work out pants, work out tops, casual tops, socks, undergarmets and tights. The funny thing is...I've only started with one room of clothes. Three more to go.

And I cleared up my finances. I still have a ways to go but at least now, all my account transactions are updated on Quicken (the last time I synced was ... March 2009... eek!) and I just have to build a basic budget for myself to monitor (I didn't like the automated ones Quicken generated).

And I thanked God. Thanks for the angels. Thanks for the kick in the butt. It didn't hurt physically, but it hurt a bit mentally and now.... I am back. Hooray!

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

At Least You Learned Something Today.. Now Put That Armor On!

Sometimes I leave work frustrated. Sometimes I leave work angry. Sometimes I leave work stiffled. Sometimes I leave work depressed.

Often I wonder why I'm still here. Often I wonder why I don't have the courage to go elsewhere. Often I wonder why I've devoted so much to just a job. Often I wonder why I can't get out of this rut.

Many times, I realize it's because at the end of the day... I have learned something. I'm still challenged. And I will continue to learn.

Learning is an interesting concept. We study our whole lives.. from that time when we're learning how to use the toilet instead of relying on our comfortable diapers to the time we attempt to learn more vocabulary for a good SAT score to increase the chances of acceptance into that dream school to those times we still struggle to learn about the opposite sex and what they are thinking.

We learn everyday. Sometimes.. our learning suffocates a bit and we falter when it seems we don't acquire much skills of substance, but there's always something to be taken away. One of my favorite comebacks when things go sour is... well, lesson learned!

When it comes to the Gospel, I often wish I had begun earlier. There's so much to learn that time never seems enough. My initial goal was to read the Book of Mormon before getting baptized and unfortunately, I only made it about 52%. I've taken a new approach to my scripture studying, set well defined, reasonable and measurable goals for myself but no matter how much I plan and study, I keep hoping for more time.

Other things are not so easy to learn. The Mormon culture is something that I'm learning more about everyday. Not having had the opportunity to participate in primary as a kid or seminary as a teen, I am finding alternative ways to learn not only the book stuff but the cultural stuff as well - whether it's constantly asking others of their own experiences, memorizing the Articles of Faith like a kid in primary (minus the musical assistance or puzzle quizzing experiences), starting my own scripture mastery or asking for a layered jello and funeral potatoe recipe (which by the way, I still have not gotten from anyone).

When it comes to gaining knowledge of the Gospel, I'm so grateful for all the support everyone has provided me because studying and learning, like many things in life, is a two way street, but unlike so many other things, it's an optional two way street that often runs better one way. Because unlike a relationship, you can learn on your own. Of course, it's always more fun to teach others and learn from others... so why not just be more generous and make it a two way street?!

I might not have a lot to offer when it comes to scripture study, but I might have useless information about how to dress for work, how to have table manners, how to network with strangers or how to apply make-up if you're asian. And lately, I've become obsessed with sharing such information through the use of this website, www.learningzen.com which enables you to make your own online courses. Now as much as this might sound like a shameless plug to sell for the website and to get you to access it (I hear there's a rad Etiquette for Dummies and Modesty Course), it's really just another internet past time that can actually achieve results!

Instead of facebook stalking, you can create a course about some useless information you have that in turn, is actually useful for someone else. Call me a dork - but I had more fun creating my online course than I do populating a budget to actual analysis for work. Call my BFF a dork - but she's already signed up and can't wait to make a course about all the useless (to her) medical information she's accumulated over the past 5 years which will be so extraordinarily useful to someone like me, who picks her health plan based on what sounds better and is too lazy to change it now. Call us dorks, but it's pretty fun. Check it out and let me know if you learn something today.

Until then.. I will continue to learn and put that armor on. I'm shielded... are you?

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Yet Another Glimpse (Part 2 of 2)

Yes, I just pageanated my blog entry.

So Saturay morning began with us joining the local Ward BBQ which was set up like a block party. It was so nice to meet all the friendly neighborhood locals up and about so early, sniff the fresh aroma of the homemade sausages, eggs, bacon and pancakes, hear the cackling of pop rocks on the floor, feel the love, joy and friedship among everyone, and witness the beautiful arrangements of red, white and blue adorned everywhere - in flowers, in place settings, in flags, etc! Sky and I were the newbies and were approached by many who didn't recognize us. These strangers... all quickly became our friends.

It's always refreshing to meet new faces, but it's the sharing of conversion stories that I always love the most. This seemed to be triggered in many who met Sky and I as the news that we were recent converts (Sky having been baptized for a week and myself for three) reenergized and reminded everyone of their own personal stories. Why, you may ask? Well, it's not just "converts" who have conversion stories - even those who grow up in the Church have to pray to know for themselves and decide whether or not to accept the Gospel, even if they've been given it their whole lives.

The story that touched me most was a gentleman who got my attention because of his crazy "You Know You're American If..." t-shirt. We started to talk and upon hearing Sky and I had just gotten baptized, he told us about his own story. His first wife had passed away and she was LDS. He hadn't given the religion much thought prior to her death. Subsequently, he picked up a Book of Mormon and never put it down since. As he told us his story, he held back from crying and it pained my heart to hear of such a story that was so tragic and terrific, all at once.

That afternoon, we ventured to Provo to ride the tubes down the Provo River. As we picked up more folks to join us for the adventure, I looked back at my own trips down to Provo for ballroom dance camp two summers in a row when I was in college. I wondered why nobody had offered me a Book of Mormon then, or why nobody had sought to talk more about their beliefs with me. But then I realized, I hadn't asked much. I knew about the honor code and I knew our night time activities consisted of the Malt Shoppe or the BYU Creamery, but much more than that? ... not a clue.

Would I have been ready? Probably not. Would I have listened? Probably not. Would I have read? Definitely not. Would I have prayed? Definitely not. But knowing what I know now,... it's hard not to wish just maybe... maybe someone would have tried to shared...

The river was cold but bearable. The current was calm at some times and horrific at others. It wasn't until I got a bridge area when I realized ... uh-oh! How would we get into those entry ways, separated by the base, much like four arches... without bumping into the arches?! Apparently, I knew not... because I crashed into the side, flipped over and lost my tube. In a frenzy to get back in, I retreated to my youth, sitting inside the tube instead of on top. The water was moving too quickly, the stones at the bottom of the river hit my every step and I could not fathom a way out. I struggled, laughing in between each attempt to lift myself out and realized, my legs are too long... why are my legs so long?! My knees got stuck in the hole which seemed tiny by comparison to the room I needed to lift my knees up! Everyone was supporting me and I wanted to get out... but it seemed useless. Helpless, I almost gave up and thought about floating down the river with my legs inside the now miserable and paralyzing cold river. And then, to my own surprise, with the help of Erika's encouragement and presence right next to me, holding onto my tube as I hopped over, I was back on! Lesson learned.. don't give up so easily or you might die. Okay.. maybe no need to over-exaggerate - but it would have been so easy to give up and deal with the consequential cold - or, persevere and reap the rewards (in this case.. not being numb waist down). What's even funnier is how I thought this would be the toughest part. Boy, was I proven wrong ... once we got off, without shoes, we had to truck our way over tiny stones, evily scattered on the river edge. Ouch. I'm so glad someone invented shoes but so sad I didn't have any at that point. Nevertheless, the adventure was worth it and was overall, fun and enjoyable. Stupendous, I say!

I did miss my family and friends. Though we didn't have any huge plans this year and everyone went their own ways, I did a round of calls that afternoon. I was able to reach some, left messages for others, and felt melancholy all around. There's no denying the fact that people grow up and grow apart but we still hold onto those memories from the past, the ones that make us laugh and smile fondly, but confronting such change is often difficult. It's important to acknowledge such realities and not meander about the past too long. Things change... we change... but as long as it's for the better... we should be okay.

What would the Fourth of July be without a BBQ? So BBQ we did, tucked away in the mountains, we gathered with Andy's family and friends and so much amazing food. Now whenever I am in an environment with mostly LDS folks, I always compare and contrast with my own experiences with family and friends. The only difference I really witness? Alcohol. As for family events, the difference is minimal because despite having alcohol present at every family outing, it's just a beverage option. Nobody is getting tossed, nobody is getting loud or obnoxious and nobody is even discernably drunk. The friend situations vary. Some BBQs (like our Fourth of July last year) is beyond crazy while some BBQs (Julia and Eric's famous delightful yummy ones) are more tame. It seems to fluctuate based on the time of year, group of friends, everyone's mood, and the amount of free flowing alcohol available.

We finished the night with some fireworks but upon laying in bed at night, Sky and I couldn't sleep. We talked on and on, about the changes we were experiencing, the fun we were having and it was there, I told Sky ... I think I want to bear my testimony tomorrow. I knew Sky was already planning to do so but I wasn't ready to stand in front of strangers. Furthermore, I wasn't even sure what I would say. I remember a friend telling me a testimony wasn't a conversion story. It should be simple.. that you have a testimony, that you believe, that you know. I would aim to do just that, but boy was I nervous. After deciding to go up together, we reverted back to our girl talk and giddily, Sky told me about some guy and the last I remember was asking her what she liked about him before drifting off.

We began Sunday morning with a visit to the Mormon Tabernacle Choir with a special presentation at the Confererence Center. And much to my joy, they sang "You're a Grand Ol' Flag" - a favorite of Grace and mine since we were kids and a constant in my weekend as we sang it often and I even called Grace and left a message with us singing it to which .. she returned a call singing it as well!

We went to Andy's family ward that morning. Having started my journey at a family ward, I'm always really excited to go back to them! But this time... I was a ball or nerves at the prospect of bearing my testimony. I'm not sure if I was prompted to by something greater than myself, but I wanted to do it .. I just wasn't sure if I could!

I'm used to speaking in front of people. I was a speech dork in high school, I was a student rep who had to speak up during meetings with the Board of Trustees in college (or they'd strip us of our student rights!) and I've been destined to teach multiple training classes ranging from 15 to 60 participants for the majority of June... So why was the idea of bearing this simple testimony at Church so frightening? I'm really not sure.. but it was! My legs were shaking and I'm glad there was a podium to hide the jitters, and I shifted my weight back and forth so the bishopric wouldn't notice.

I don't even remember exactly what I said. I just know it felt right and the most important part was that I testify of God, of Jesus Christ, of Joseph Smith and of the restored Church.

p.s. It also wasn't as bad as I thought it would be ... although I did trip on a word once or twice. Word vomit... tastes so good, yum yum! Oh well, no pain .. no gain.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

A Glimpse of My Weekend In Salt Lake City (Part 1 of 2)

I have never taken a road trip longer than 6 hours which in the past has consisted of driving with family, the BFF or the ex-boyfriend. Family road trips are always fun because we play games to make the time pass, tell jokes, or just sleep since pops and mom are driving. Trips with the BFF are great because we talk about life, the past, the future and have a bunch of fun dancing and belting out to our favorite tunes - old and new. Trips with the ex-boyfriend were obligatory and more nerve wrecking than not due to the fact that we were usually on our way to see his entire extended family for the weekend and most often, filled with really bad fog that freaked me out and irritated him when I demonstrated such cowardness or what he perceived as distrust to his driving (there's definitely a reason we broke up).

For the Fourth of July weekend, I went on what would be the longest road trip this flower has ever had the power to experience. 10 hours to Salt Lake City. Oh yes. We did.

This is hour two driving back home.. but to be honest, it is probably the same as hours 3-5 boths ways...

Despite all my fears of what the ten hour road trip would do to us - whether it would bind us closer or make us more annoyed with each other - it was so insanely fun, relaxing and awesome. Andy generously offered his manly driving skills while Sky and I just sat there, trying to navigate the i-pod (which is actually really hard on the new car), munching on whatever goodies we had, dancing like rockstars and asking Andy when we could get off next so I could pee. It was like a road trip with family AND Grace - we talked serious stuff, did silly stuff, got to know one another and bonded like atoms (do atoms bond? .. sounds like it right?).

And that was only the first 10 hours.

Sky and I stayed with Andy's family in a guest room that used to be his sister's room. We got in pretty late, after midnight, and his parents were both awake anticipating the arrival of their baby boy. We met the Phillips and then quickly got ready for bed. Unfortunately, Sky and I had both not done our scripture study so for what seemed like an eternity, I tried reading while slipping in and out of consciousness and reverting to the former chapter I had just been reading (this is why I normally do scripture study in the AM!).

The next morning, I woke up early (maybe it was the adrenaline rush) to do my scripture study alone and then go for a short run on the treadmill. My destination for both activities was an entertainment room near our rooms. As I prayed and started my studies, the Spirit came over me. I was so overwhelmed to be in Salt Lake and though I had been in Provo at BYU years before for summer camp, this was my first time actually visiting the city and taking in all the history and culture that was Salt Lake City. As my heart filled with emotion, I smiled up at Him and thanked Him for such an opportunity.

As I got ready for my morning run, I looked around the room. The room was filled with photos of Andy and his family, but mostly him and his sister. I smiled. It was so nice to see that I wasn't the only one obsessed with picture frames. I admired all the photos capturing this sweet family's life - if only for a moment - and got excited for my own opportunity to do so ... one day (hopefully sooner than later). I studied each photo and tried to imagine what it was like growing up with the Gospel in your life and felt assurred that my own kids would.

Despite my awake mind, my body was fatigued so ran I did.. but maybe for 5 minutes off and on of walks uphill. Twenty five minutes passed and I gave up and resorted to some ab work. As I did, the realization that I was in Salt Lake City hit me. What was Temple Square going to be like? Would I get bored by the sight-seeing? Would I enjoy it? Did I really just leave LA for the Fourth of July weekend to go to Salt Lake? Am I really up at 6:30 AM, talking to God, after sleeping less than 5 hours?

I put all my fears aside and got ready for the day. And then I realized... Andy had my Sunday Best clothes. There wasn't enough room in our room to hang my garmet bag so Andy had taken them into his room. I texted him and waited patiently while Sky got ready. And then I was bored. ADD struck. I pranced outside to the entertainment room once more and saw a collection of photo albums on the shelf and decided to pass the time by viewing some more of the Phillips' photos. Sky soon joined me and what we thought was a photo album turned out to be a project Andy had made when he was 13 or 14. Either he had a lot of help from his parents or he was a pretty smart kid. I was blown away. The simplicity of the project's purpose was obvious but embedded within the simplicity were grand metaphors about life, the Gospel and truths I wasn't aware a 13 year old kid could grasp. It made me think about the Strength of the Youth Pamphlet. As dorky as that little pamphlet may seem at first, it is filled with so much useful counseling and guidance that I secretly wished someone had dropped one in my hands when I was younger. I always knew not to do certain things as instructed by Momma Chou, but I can't say she always gave me a reason why besides, Because I said so! I sighed inside, secretly, for the things I had missed, but then smiled when I realized, I have so much more - my own life according to His commandments, has just begun. And my smile turned into a silly grin when I realized, the family I eventually start will have such joy in their life.

That morning, we went to the Conference Center (it seats 21,000 people!), walked the grounds around the Salt Lake Temple and went inside to do baptisms for the dead. As overwhelming as it all could have been, I inhaled it like the air I breathe, so naturally and comfortably. And even though it was all new to me, it didn't feel new. It felt ... oddly familiar.

The Salt Lake Temple was beautiful. And, not to diss the LA Temple, but the experience for Sky (it was her first time) was probably more informative and helpful than that I experienced while in LA. Maybe it was the fact that there were more staff around helping. Maybe it was the fact that Salt Lake has been around longer. But probably - it was just the fact that instead of making new friends (as I did while at the LA Temple) with other girls who had done this before, there were staff from the Salt Lake temple telling us what to do every step of the way.

That afternoon, I got to see all the rooms within a Temple - which is awesome because once dedicated, are off limits to non-LDS and even for the LDS, have limitations based on your committments and covenants with God. Thus, being recent converts, Sky and I would have to wait, at minimum, a year before determining our worthiness for entry into the other rooms. We went to the Oquirrh Temple, where the lines were massive (attributed to the holiday weekend) and after 3 hours, I am happy to state, if you ever get a chance to see a Temple before it's dedicated, DO IT! It will literally take your breath away. Sky was adorable as we walked through the rooms upstairs, commenting that she wanted to go there before her one year probation period and if it was possible, and having done a lot of research on the temples via the world wide web during her investigation, skeptically asked Andy questions that she was unsure if she was allowed to ask. Though I share her excitement, I'm actually really glad to know there is a one year wait period because I want to know that I can be a good daughter of God before making more promises. Though I share her curiosity, I'm secretly glad I never went searching for truths or lies manifested on the internet. Until the time comes, it's not even about being patient rather being diligent and holding myself to higher standards and according to the Gospel until the time comes.

The Phillips graciously took us to dinner at a Thai restaurant after the Temple open house and while we were driving there, I kept pestering Brother Phillips about how him and Sister Phillips met. I always think it's fascinating how people meet their companions and remember fondly of the time my own pops told me his story with my mum during a 5 hour drive in which the story lasted about 2 hours. Yes, my parents had a rather detailed and long courtship that is pretty touching. Similar to Brother Phillips, my dad knew he was going to marry my mom early on, although my dad did have his own doubts when they had disagreements during the wedding planning. In fact, it got me thinking - how interesting if I were able to get a hold of all the letters my mom and dad wrote to each other while he was at St. Louis for school and she was in Taiwan. How interesting to see the past in its essence which is one huge reason, we should all journal more! I, myself, am guilty of rarely doing so and in fact, was reminded of the lack of personal touch so many of our interactions have these days. Gone are the letters from our parents' day and in its place, we have instant messages, text messages and e-mails! Oh my my my!

After dinner, we eagerly went to go watch the Joseph Smith movie, but it was canceled (most likely due to the holiday weekend)! Instead, we played tourist, and went in front of the Salt Lake Temple to take photos. Always a photo enthusiast, I wanted something more interactive than posed and seeing a statue of a mother with her kids playing ring around the rosies, I asked if we could do the same. And do the same we did!

And that was the first part (or first two days) of the trip to SLC. Stay tuned for part 2!!!

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Lights out!!!

Last night I had quite the unique experience. Quinn and I decided to go to the Los Angeles Temple to do an endowment session. We arrived 10 minutes before the 6:30 session began, and somehow were able to change clothes in time to avoid waiting an hour for the 7:30 session. Our quick dressing abilities would prove to be essential in helping us to have the marvelous experience that we had.

Much of the things that happen in the many temples of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are kept secret. Many people speculate upon the reasons why. The reason is simply this: the temple is a sacred place, the House of the Lord. It is a place where to enter we must maintain certain standards which separate us from the rest of the world. It is a place where once we enter we shed the clothes that we entered in for white clothing. It is a place where we essentially leave the world behind to enter a holier sphere. Our secretiveness about the temple helps us to maintain the temple as a unique place, a sacred place. As such, the details of my experience can only be shared if you want to take a trip to the temple with me; as for this post, I will only give a vague description of the happenings, and a little principle that I had reinforced as I reflected upon my experience.

The temple is a place of repetition, but where even amidst repetition, new principles are learned. I was sitting in the endowment session, listening and thinking about the covenants that are made in the temple, when all of a sudden, the lights went out. The darkness only lasted a moment as the emergency lights came on. Even with the emergency lights on, the room I was in was still dark, but you could still see some light creeping in under the doors from the hallway. My first thought was the circuit to the room was overloaded. We were quickly moved to another room, which had half of it's lights on. We resumed the session, whereupon the whir of electricity once again left us sitting in the dark. For some reason there was enough electricity to hear what we needed to, but that was it. No emergency lights, and no power to anything else.

After learning in the dark for a few moments, the temple president, and a few other workers entered brandishing flashlights. Their attitude was one "The work must go on." Although finished the ordinances required a bit of improv, the work was done, and the 30 or so people that we were representing had the opportunity to accept the ordinance we performed on their behalf.

The experience had me thinking much about a scripture which I have recently committed to memory:

For we labor diligently to write, to persuade our children, and also our brethren, to believe in Christ, and to be reconciled to God; for we know that it is by grace that we are saved, after all we can do.

2nd Nephi 25:23

Within this scripture lies one of the powerful if... then... statements of the Book of Mormon. Such a promise has brought me so much peace in my life, as the experience of trying my hardest and coming up short of my goals is a familiar one. Each time it happens, I find comfort in knowing that if my best effort was truly put forth, the grace of Christ can make up the difference; through His sacrifice my efforts become enough, and they are accepted of God.

As I went through the temple in the dark, I couldn't help but think of how easy it would have been for all the workers and the temple President to have just said "What are we to do? Without electricity we can't lift this, we can't see that... We tried, it wasn't within our power. Better luck next time." Instead, they recognized the importance of the if clause of the promise and went about fulfilling their part. As they did so, God provided the necessary small miracles which allowed the work to go forth. In the future, when it comes time to ask myself if I have truly done all that I can do, I will look back fondly on the temple workers of last night, and give that question a little more thought.