Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Diet Dr. Mission Pepper

OK! So. BIG DAY TODAY. Got called by my bishop and told, at 10 AM, that there was "good news" about my mission call that we needed to "talk about" at 7 tonight. I didn't have a white envelope in my hands with a picture of a white guy slapping Saddam Hussein on the back of the head

(yes, this picture is featured prominently on the fabled packet of information about your mission which you receive in your "call"), so I figured out that everything, ever, was wrong and proceeded to worry for about 9 hours.

Come to find out that I am an idiot and should not have worried! AT ALL.

Sisters and brethren, I am pleased to announce that I am being assigned to the Dallas Texas Mission for two transfers beginning June 18th! I will be set apart (that is, specially designated; literally "set apart" from the world - a nice blessing that separates me with a mustache from the mustache-less me with a nametag!) as a full-time "short term" missionary for the duration of three months. I'll be serving under President Devin Durant. As in, retired NBA small forward, All-American (and French expat) Devin Durant. As in, the guy who is a dead lock for David Byrne:

Following my completion of said transfers, I'll receive a formal mission call from Salt Lake and will be shipped off to the MTC to begin the rest of my mission.

"OK," you're wondering. "What's this guy's DEAL?"

My deal. Ahem. Friends it's no secret that I suffer from an array of ailments. I can't grow a full beard, I'm obsessed with cats, and I have an unfortunate affinity for barley sodas (Malta India! Vita Malt!). I also deal with chronic (at times clinical) depression and obsessive compulsive disorder. That's also not that big of a secret, too, I guess. I mean, you don't have to be particularly observant to see how dizzyingly anxious I can get.

And so the careful, caring minds in Salt Lake decided to play it safe before sending me off onto a full-time mission. My time spent in the Dallas mission will be a sort of proving ground to make sure I can handle the rigors of mission life. If I can hack it for the two transfers here, then I will receive my official mission call. If it proves too difficult, then I am at least prepared to return to a stable life.

It might seem kind of scary to admit openly here that I've got these issues. It also might seem to occlude the central point of this blog, which is about missionary work. But I include all this to solve any questions about my assignment and to stress that the Lord and His servants truly love us all. By some accounts I'm sure my missionary application looked like a disaster and a half; medications and letters from therapists and explanation after explanation that I am really not THAT messed up. I don't think I believed, truly, that I was actually going to be allowed an opportunity to tell people about how much the Lord loves us in this capacity until the bishop told me the plan today. I truly half expected to never, ever receive a letter or anything from Salt Lake. To just quietly live out the rest of my life waiting. Very dramatic, I know.

But until today I didn't realize to what lengths the Church will go to make sure that A) their members and  missionaries are safe and, B) that everyone gets an opportunity to serve. It's a major source of validation, to be honest. I know I can do this. The Church knows I can too. Here is the opportunity. What a wonderful feeling of trust and responsibility! What a wonderful feeling of loving encouragement.

This is an amazing and overwhelming honor. I can't express my gratitude enough for everyone who has provided comfort and support. My family, Eliza's family, my friends, my ward members, former bishops, cats, and coworkers who, admittedly, think I'm a pretty weird dude.

God bless y'all. The gospel of Christ and the Lord is here to make our lives make sense, to make us happy, to make us comfortable and loving and all around better people. If you want, I could mail you a Book of Mormon? Let me know? Call me, maybe?


Sunday, May 20, 2012

Ain't Nothing But a God Thing Baby

Here we are again! It has been a VERY LONG TIME this time.

Whence we last left off, I was waiting on a letter from my long time therapist back in Utah. When that letter came in, I was then informed we needed more current documentation of my ability to go out and do good work(s), so I met with a counselor for LDS Family Services. He completed the necessary paper work and my papers were submitted on April 3rd!

Oh but here it is May 20th, one month and 17 days later and, alas alack, no call yet. Concerned, my stake president called church headquarters near the beginning of this month only to learn that they were still "processing" my papers. Insider knowledge from various well-connected Utahns (as Eliza said, "They know everything about this stuff!") lists the various reasons for my delayed assignment as being:

1. Salt Lake is opening up a new mission and needs to post-pone assignments until enough elders and sisters are called to said new mission so an adequately sized group enters the MTC together.
2. I'm getting sent somewhere that is difficult  to get a visa to.
3. Got lost in the mail.
4. Got lost in Salt Lake.
5. The people assigning my call don't have a good spiritual vibe on where to send me yet.

HM. I'm actually doing much better than I anticipated. I've sort of stopped worrying about it constantly? Which is how, somehow, nearly two months has passed by! Wow! Crazy!

One reason that it's been easy to kind of stop worrying and let things take their course is because of something I've been thinking about a lot lately: the whys and the hows of faith and the gospel of Jesus Christ. President Uchtdorf (one of the assistants to the Prophet!) talks about it in this video below:

(This is an amazing talk, so if you've got some time check it out.)

Someone at Stake Conference today (which is like a big gathering of all of the local meeting houses in a given area, come together to get updated on information concerning the Church within that geographic area and to share spiritual messages) talked about the whys and hows of faith and the gospel today too. It's really struck a chord in me.

I've been able to focus on making each day count, being happy, and being a blessing to myself and others in these past few weeks by unhooking my mind from the constant concern of HOW I'm going to live out my faith. In exchange, I've been able to focus on WHY my faith matters. Instead of getting upset because I'm not putting on a name tag and a suit and going to bed at 10 PM, I've been able to center myself in growing an understanding of what, exactly, my faith brings to me. The How of the gospel is how we worship, how we live our days, how we dedicate ourselves to God - the technical stuff that this blog has mostly been about. The Why is much, much more important. I've been able to think about where my faith in God and Jesus Christ has brought me over the past years. Why I am recovering from severe depression:  medication, loving environs (thanks Nate, Alicia, and kitties!), and, biggest of all, a continual understanding of who I am and how I am loved by my Heavenly Father and His Son. Why I live my life in accordance to the commandments of God: because these commandments bring me peace, stability, and a healthy sense of self; because I have not lived these commandments before and felt only pain and confusion; because these work for me. Why I believe in this gospel: because I have felt in my heart a confirmation of its truth; because, to me, it is confusingly incontrovertible; because it brings me joy and peace and growth. Why I am dedicating two years of my life to telling people about this gospel: because it has brought me joy and because it can bring joy to others; because it is a part of me that I am proud to share. Why I am ok with waiting two months for my call: because I know that it will come; because I know that God is taking care of me; because there are opportunities in all situations for growth and for beautiful blessings, even in times of waiting (scratch that - ESPECIALLY in times of waiting).

And so I'm tided over. I can concentrate on working hard, saving money, reading books, petting cats, and enjoying myself and my life. I'll let you all know when the news comes. Thank you all for your support and interest. You're all a big, fat blessing to me and help me in ways you can't even understand.


P.S.: here's a picture me getting ready for church today