The Cunning Plan


Okay, I need to preface this by saying that I DETEST that expression. For one thing, it sounds totally tacky. Also, we know that it’s completely untrue, and is in fact a considerably irresponsible mindset. You do not only live once. Also, I hope this doesn’t sound preachy or self-righteous. It’s just some thoughts I’ve concocted over the last few days.

Anyway… In Sunday School last week, my teacher mentioned that some people are upset that others who party and mess around and do whatever they want may ultimately achieve the same reward as those who live righteously. She said they “kind of get the best of both worlds” because they “get to do both”.

That really puzzled me, because I can’t think of a single sin that I’d be happy I “got to” commit. The truth is, there is no such thing as a worthwhile sin, there is no such thing as an action without a consequence, and there is no such thing as forgiveness without repentance. No matter what we do, or how small the sin is, we still have to repent, which is indeed a process and must be completed by everyone, no matter who they are or under what circumstances the sin was committed. Alma has plenty to say on this.

The response of one member of our class was that when we get to the other side and are able to see our lives, we will see both the good and bad, and only wish we’d been able to do better. In short, we will never at any time be glad we were able to sin. That’s that. If YOLO, then this would all be different, and nothing would actually matter.

I just want to say that I’m very grateful that we know that YDOLO, and we have the opportunity to repent and be forgiven. 22 days until I take off to share that message!!

7 Yea, and there shall be many which shall say: Eat, drink, and be merry, for tomorrow we die; and it shall be well with us.

8 And there shall also be many which shall say: Eat, drink, and be bmerry; nevertheless, fear God—he will justify in committing a little sin; yea, lie a little, take the advantage of one because of his words, dig a pit for thy neighbor; there is no harm in this; and do all these things, for tomorrow we die; and if it so be that we are guilty, God will beat us with a few stripes, and at last we shall be saved in the kingdom of God.

9 Yea, and there shall be many which shall teach after this manner, false and vain and foolish doctrines, and shall be puffed up in their hearts, and shall seek deep to hide their counsels from the Lord; and their works shall be in the dark.

2 Nephi 28:7-9

It’s true.

I wrote earlier about how I’ve been studying world religions, specifically Buddhism. I just read What the Buddha Taught and Living Buddha, Living Christ, which are excellent, and it’s really got me thinking about our church. I know I already wrote about this, but these are further thoughts.

Joseph Smith saw Heavenly Father and Jesus. No question. It’s been really interesting to learn about when Suddharta Guatama became was visited and became enlightened, or when Guru Nanak had his vision before founding the Jain religion, or when the Holy Spirit appeared to Mahavira, but when Heavenly Father and Jesus appeared to the boy Joseph Smith, they brought him the true and living gospel that has the FULLNESS of truth that we need to return to them, and there is life after death.

Jesus Christ is our Lord and Savior, and He really lived and died for us, and He knows each of us personally, and is the head of our church today. He loves us. He is real.

We have all this knowledge that so many don’t have! We have a prophet that speaks to us directly from Him! We don’t have dozens of break-offs of our religion because of various doctrinal discrepancies, because there is nothing missing. I’ve found many truths in these other religions I’ve studied, and it really has been very educational.

There is truth everywhere, and we can most definitely learn and benefit from those of other faiths, and by seeking truth everywhere, but we have the only complete and full truth. And we need to share it! AND I GET TO DO THAT IN 7 MONTHS!!!!!

Our church is perfect, and it is perfect because Jesus is the head of it. I’ve loved reading about the structures of other churches, and the different ideas they had for proper order and hierarchy, but everything about our church is exactly right. The people are imperfect, but the church is perfect.

There is no doubt in my mind that ours is the true church. I know it with all my heart. I have a lot to learn, and I’ve learned a lot from these other religions, and gained respect for each of them, but I would love to be able to add to their beliefs in the same way they’ve added to mine. Eternal life in the Celestial Kingdom with our Heavenly Father is a lot more exciting that Nirvana, which is essentially a state of simple existence/ nothingness. I’m down with Celestial glory. And we know how to get there!

I’m starting my papers as soon as I get home, which is in 2 weeks. Oh yes. Here I come. I hope I get to interact with some Buddhists, because I owe them a lot. I’d like to talk to some Jains and Sikhs as well. They are really wonderful people.

If I didn’t have a testimony…

I’m in a Mormonism and World Religions class right now, and so far we’ve studied Hinduism, Jainism, Buddhism, and Sikhism. Each religion has interesting doctrines and philosophies, each has important values to teach and ideas to consider, and each has been enlightening to learn about. (hahaha that was a pun. Enlightening, get it?)

At first I found it fairly easy to judge them, because I’m very confident in my own beliefs (yes, I do have a very firm testimony of the truthfulness of the gospel of JESUS CHRIST),
and could easily spot the doctrinal differences and maybe compare them in the wrong ways. But that only lasted like a week. The way my class is structured invites us to discuss the doctrines of the different religions, and then put a Latter-Day Saint light on them to further our understanding. Interestingly enough, the early history of Jainism started in a way very similar to our’s, not unlike Joseph Smith’s First Vision.

I’ve especially enjoyed learning about Buddhism, because the Buddhist teachings just really resonate with me. One thing that the original/ Supreme Buddha, Siddhartha Guatama, said after he first became enlightened, was, “I am neither an angel or a saint. I am awake.” Interesting, eh? The goal of the well-known Buddhist meditation exercises, which I’ve been doing on the beach early in the morning for my class, is to become awake. I love that! I love the idea of coming to your most natural and self-controlled state (this means literally only thinking about your breathing. Nothing else. This is harder than you might think.) and seeking knowledge in order to gain enlightenment. It feels so good.

HOWEVER. Although I’m intrigued by this and all the other religions I’ve studied so far, they all have something missing. It occurred to me just a few days ago. They don’t have a living prophet who continues to give them revelation and guidance! They also, of course don’t have the same scriptures we do, that just happen to contain the fulness of the living gospel. The Hindu scriptures that I’ve studied so far are actually very interesting. But I’m just observing the huge difference that came to me.

In the end, if I didn’t have a testimony, I would love to practice Buddhism. But I do have a testimony! And that’s that. I can still meditate, and work on ahimsa, and, more than anything else, develop understanding and compassion that will help me understand others, so I can share my gospel with them, and they can share their’s with me. I think we’d both benefit immensely.


Okay. It’s obvious that there is no tooth fairy or queen of England, but it’s even more obvious that there is no Easter bunny. Like really. Who came up with that?

As much as bunnies and chicks and colored eggs and candy baskets are great (except Peeps, which are disgusting), the events that we honor this Easter day– the Atonement and the resurrection– are literally the most significant events that have ever occurred on the face of this planet, or any other planet, and it just hurts to see them disregarded, as things like poser marshmallows and oversized rabbits take the forefront.

He lives! I know that He lives! This coming week, starting tomorrow, is finals week (Hooray! :/) and the only way I will have the strength to make it through another one of these weeks is through complete reliance on Him. Seriously. It’s always great to be in the testing center, and see a kid sit down and bow his head to pray before he starts his test. Without that, without a Savior who lived and died and knows exactly everything I feel and need, without being able to pray to Him, I would undoubtedly evaporate. I am so thankful to Him.

Rescue Mission

I’m skiing down Wedding Ring at Sundance, onto the part that’s usually icy, beyond the bowl you can see from the lift. I’m cruising down, but I see a lone ski pole. Huh? I look another 100 yards down, and a man has crashed (he hit a rock; no shame there) and lost a pole. (Go figure.) So I yell down to him, “Do you want me to get this for you?” He nods, I grab it, ski down, hand it to him, and pass on.

That was stupid. Is there any reason on this earth he might be hoping to just stay on that steep, icy hill, eyeing his pole, with no desire to do anything but stare at it? Or maybe hike back up to retrieve it? Nope. Of course he wanted me to perform the simple service of going like 1 second out of my way to pick up his pole!

For some reason, I’ve remembered that ever since it happened, and I think it’s because I feel so dumb for asking a person if I could get him something he so obviously needed. Do you really have to ask permission to perform any slight act of service? I think not. In fact, offering service, without a solid promise or guarantee, might not even be whole-hearted. As Elder Rasband said in his Conference talk today, “Let me know if I can help” is no help at all.

He used the example of coming upon a drowning person. Would we ask him if he wanted or needed to be rescued? Of course not. The same principle applies to every situation for every person experiencing any difficulty or trial. We don’t need to ask; we just need to do. My goal is to be more aware and service-oriented.

And as long as we’re talking about Conference, it was awesome. Elder Rasband was my favorite talk (I’m always partial to any talk with any mention of my beloved Primary Children’s) and I also loved Pres. Eyring and Elder Anderson. Did you know that conference is translated into over 70 languages? I think that’s amazing. I love General Conference! Even if it means getting up at 6 am on Saturday and Sunday.

Have You Received His Image in Your Countenances?

And now behold I ask of you, my brethren of the church, have ye spiritually been born of God? Have ye received His image in your countenances? Have ye experienced this mighty change in your hearts? -Alma 5:14

I am currently on the beautiful island of Kauai with the steel band and brass ensemble (more of that to come later), and this has been my best week so far. Well, my best Thursday to Sunday so far. (I had a huge music history exam on Tuesday and a major sight singing test that same day, so that was pretty rough.) Nonetheless, this trip has been completely wonderful.

Oh, did you hear that Oahu flooded? And we were off island, so it didn’t affect us at all. How convenient.

Anyway, one of the fun things about this trip has been staying with host families. My family on the East Shore had a little 6 year-old girl, and after we had been there for like 10 minutes, she came up to me, and she’s like, “Auntie, will you show me everything you have?” So I took her down to the amazing room we were staying in and got out my back pack. I showed her my music anthology and my huge binder of other music and all that, and then I got out my computer. We listened to some Disney princess music, and then I saw a picture on my desktop of President and Sister Hinckley.

I decided to see if she recognized him, forgetting that he passed away in 2008, so she wouldn’t even have known him. (I feel like he just barely died! It’s so crazy to me that kids don’t know him anymore.) I pulled the picture up, and asked her who it was, and she said, “That’s Jesus!”

Wait, what? I must say that President Hinckley and Jesus have close to no physical similarity whatsoever. But then I realized that she was able to recognize the spiritual power that they both shared, and saw that before the hair and clothes and everything else.

I really love that line in Alma: “Have ye received his image in your countenances?” President Hinckley has. I’m obviously not a man, so I don’t think I could ever be mistaken for the Savior, but I have the light of Christ in me, and because of that, I can still radiate it and bring people closer to Him by being an example of the believers. Isn’t that the best thought ever? We are called to be ambassadors of Christ, and that very idea makes me so excited! I can think of nothing greater than helping bring others unto Him. So that’s my goal.

I know He lives!

I had the opportunity to do the Primary singing time today. Dream calling? Possibly. Apparently they write a new Primary song each year for the primary program, so now they have several totally amazing songs that we never got to sing. One of them is “I Know That My Savior Loves Me”, and I feel the Spirit each time I hear it, so of course I had them all warm up with it. The chorus shouts my personal testimony in such a beautifully perfect way. I know that my Savior loves me!