A Few Things

Aloha! I hope you’re having a happy Sunday! I had a great, productive week, and I wanted to share just a few things from the week.

1. We celebrated PI DAY OF THE CENTURY at Ted’s. #ofcourse #chocolatehaupia #3.14159265359
TedsHaupiaChocoPie

2. My roommate Min gave me a life-changing gift last week: a RUNNING BELT. (not pictured. This is just to give you an idea.) #fivestars #wherehaveyoubeenallmylife
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3. #projectbanana continues successful!!!
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4. I went to our school’s production of “The Importance of Being Earnest” twice this week, and cried tears of laugter both times. #OscarWilde #Found???? #Itproducesvibrations
Survey-Earnest

5. #FreedomWriters has now entered my top ten. Excellent movie. #mydream #whenIgrowup
freedom writers

6. I attended a #TheLeaderInMe conference at Lehua Elementary in Pearl City this week. The Leader In Me program is an adaptation of Stephen Covey’s 7 Habits of highly effective people for Elementary schools. #soinspiring Kids rise to the expectations we set for them.
leader in me

Discoveries

I’ve recently come in contact with some pretty great things, a few of which I wanted to share with you.

gg_1
Gabby and I are watching this show with our one-month Netflix free trial. It’s about a single mom and her daughter, who is only 16 years younger than her. Really fun.

cookie butter
My cooperating teacher at the elementary gave me a bottle of this divine stuff. A friend of hers sent a bunch from the Mainland, and it was about to expire, so she gave it to me. Delicious.

the-new-york-times
I’ve started reading the New York Times. I don’t have a lot of time, but I’ve been a fan of what I’ve read so far.

phone case
I got a phone case with a wallet in it for my birthday, and it’s just fantastic. I haven’t lost my debit card since, and that’s an accomplishment.

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Now that I’m going to the elementary, I have to be on my guard. Airborne was invented by a school teacher, as you can see from the picture, and it works. I testify of the power of Airborne.

A list

Leen just shared a delightful blog post about lists, so I wanted to share a list of my own composition (with the help of Dell) in response.

1. What happened in the last dream that you remember?
2. When are you the most comfortable?
3. If you had to choose someone to play you in a movie of your life, who would it be?
4. What are three books you fully intend to read to your children?
5. If you were going to have lunch with a professional musician or composer, who would it be and where would you go? And what would you get?
6. Which Tillamook ice cream flavor is the best? (this is an important one)
7. Which movie would you say you’ve seen the most times?
8. If you could pick up and leave on a trip tomorrow, where would it be?
9. Would you rather spend an evening with Knightley, Bingley or Darcy?
10. Would you rather have a Star Wars, LOTR, Pride and Prej, or HP movie marathon this weekend?

My answers:
1. I literally never remember my dreams. #quelastima
2. I’m most comfortable with a group of people I love, discussing the wonders of the universe, preferably on comfortable couches with delectable appetizers at our fingertips.
3. Ummm I don’t really know of anyone with curly hair (#becurly), and I can’t imagine my life being played in non-curly fashion.
4. The Harry Potter series, The Chronicles of Narnia, and The Phantom Tolbooth.
5. Eric Whitacre. We’d meet up in LA, so I could stay with Hna. Murillo, and we’d eat at the pupusaria on Vermont Ave. Obviously we’d get pupusas.
6. The triple chocolate one.
7. Well, if we’re being honest, probably “The Restoration”
8. Probably New York. Especially if The Lion King is showing.
9. Darcy.
10. Just had a LOTR marathon with Leen, so I think I’m feeling Pride and Prej.

December Bucket List

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As inspired by Dell, these are a few things I must do during this holiday season, in no particular order.
1. Go to the MoTab Christmas concert.
2. Go to a Messiah sing-in
3. Read all the Harry Potter Christmas scenes (#Dell)
4. Play DB for at least ten hours, intermingled with Mormon taboo
5. Have a Christmas recital
6. Visit my mission and my dear friends in LA!!!!
7. Take a non-member to Temple Square
8. Talk mission with Kristen
9. Watch “It’s a Wonderful Life”
10. Make popcorn balls

Accion de Gracias

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I’ve never had more to be thankful for than I do this year. I am so thankful for the opportunity I had to serve a full-time mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in the greatest mission in the world. I’ve decided to include a picture of Elvis and Cynthia and their family, because they are just some of the most special people I met on my mission. I’m thankful for them and the experiences we shared. I’m thankful for the restored Gospel of Jesus Christ, and for the huge blessing I had to dedicate 18 months of my life to its proclamation. It is true. I know it with all my heart. God’s plan for His children has been revealed! We have a prophet on the earth! I am so thankful for that knowledge.

Isolation

Here’s something I’ve discovered since coming home: for missionaries, regular time stops the day they go into the MTC. I still expect girls that were pregnant when I left to be pregnant. “New movies” are any movie that came out after I left. Everyone is the age and stage they were when I left. So then I see them and I’m shocked.

Along the vein of movies, “Frozen” is still a new movie in my mind. It was the first movie I saw after being released, and I was asking people if they’d seen it for like two weeks after that. Their responses were usually something like “Uhhh yes….” with inexplicable perplexity in their faces. #RMProbs

Elsa

Anyway, that was a pre-set for a Frozen post, because I fully recognize that the internet is over Frozen and everyone has already said everything there is to say about it. But I haven’t! It’s still a new movie for me! So here are some of my thoughts, and you can yawn and pass on if you’re sick of Frozen blogs.

I have to admit that the first time I watched it, the homosexuality political commentary was screaming at me the whole time. No one had told me about it, but I’d just spent a year and a half in LA, home of the Rainbow Crosswalk on Santa Monica Boulevard, so it was kind of fresh on my mind.

I was quick to come up with other readings for the film, because I would prefer to not love a movie that promotes disobedience. My current reading of choice centers around the concept of isolation. Individuals who struggle with same-gender attraction absolutely experience isolation, and I cannot begin to comprehend how difficult that trial would be, but I think that all challenges, trials, and weaknesses have the potential for placing us in isolation. Any challenge. Any trial. Any weakness. If we “conceal, don’t feel, don’t let it show”, we continue in isolation. Therefore, “letting it go” shouldn’t mean breaking serious commandments. “Letting it go” should mean being open with our struggles and seeking support. We are not intended to do anything in this life by ourselves. That’s why we have families, that’s why we have wards and home- and visiting-teaching, and that’s why we have the Atonement. Because of the Atonement, we never need to be isolated. He has literally experienced every trail and challenge and weakness we will ever have, and He knows exactly how to help us. (See Alma 7:11-13.)

elsa and ana

In conclusion, I think Disney’s “Frozen” is a commentary on the necessity of relying on the Atonement and living the Gospel of Jesus Christ. People do in fact “make bad choices if they’re mad or scared or stressed”, and it is our responsibility to “throw a little love their way”! The Act of true love that was performed by the Lord Jesus Christ is the only way frozen hearts can be thawed, and the only way any trial or challenge or weakness can be overcome. We “let it go” by relying on Him.

Those are my thoughts on Frozen. I loved it. I cried the first time I heard “Let it Go”.

Being Vulnerable

One change many missionaries are able to experience during their missions is overcoming social fears or barriers they may have had before. We have the opportunity to talk to dozens of people every day, and are completely forced out of our comfort zones in a million ways. I can say from experience that the process is HARD. It’s scary. It’s uncomfortable.

I had to remind myself often that I represented Jesus Christ, and not myself. I had to pray for strength to talk to everyone, and I had to completely forget myself and my fears. At the beginning of my mission, I had to stop worrying about my super broken Spanish and focus on loving everyone and quaking and trembling for them.

Why was this so hard? We were making ourselves completely vulnerable. As missionaries, we put everything on the altar of sacrifice and focus entirely on our purpose. That is not natural for anyone, and as I said, it’s really scary. However, eventually missionaries get to a point where we really can talk to everyone without fear. It’s cool.

Why am I writing about this? I’m doing my best to retain the skills I developed on my mission, one of which is embracing vulnerability. It was easier as a missionary, because I really didn’t represent myself. Now I’m Amber Blair again, and it’s just not the same as it was with the badge and the power and authority. Being vulnerable is scary again.

I wanted to share this TED talk about vulnerability, because it put it all into a new light for me. I invite you to watch it and think about what you can do to allow yourself to be vulnerable. I know it will be hard. I’m working on it.

Lunch Break

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Adjustment. I’ve pondered on doing an entire post on “adjusting” and sharing my thoughts on the rocky road a recently returned missionary must tread, but I’ve decided to focus on just one adjustment for now.

That is the concept of “free time”, “down time”, or a “break”. Those are words that weren’t even part of my vocabulary for the last 18 months. Missionaries do NOT takes breaks. Not even on P-day. Missionaries NEVER have “free time” or anything like unto it, because they are on the Lord’s precious time, not a millisecond of which can be wasted. Some missionaries were a little bit more relaxed than me, as far as taking breaks and using time goes, but Hna. Blair never paused for a descanso. Some missionaries took naps during lunch, but I worked on the area book, read Jesus the Christ, made phone calls, or continued studying. I am by no means saying that is the only right way to do it. Some missionaries legitimately need those 60 minutes to rest, but I felt unconsecrated if I even paused.

So the point is, for the last year and a half, I never rested. Then here I am back in the world of regular people, faced with a regular schedule, regular expectations, and regular rules. There is nothing regular about never taking a break. When I first got back, I actually felt disobedient if I wasn’t in class or at the library (not kidding), and then I remembered that I wasn’t a missionary anymore a few days into the semester.

The adjustment I decided to make is what I like to call Lunch Break. Put simply, it means taking an entire hour (theoretically. This has yet to occur.) for a meal, not studying or working or anything. Taking an actual break. It’s a totally foreign concept for me, but I feel like the Lord inspired me to start this program for myself.

So here’s to lunch breaks!

Farewell!

Well folks, I gave my missionary farewell talk today! I’ve only been waiting for this day my entire life. I remember so many farewells of the young men in our ward, and thinking they were so old and mature, and feeling like my farewell Sunday would never come. And it did! I felt so much love and support today, and I know with all my heart that the gospel I’m about to share is true.If you’re interested, I decided to post my talk. It’s kind of long, but you may read if you so desire.

Brothers and Sisters, Aloha!

The topic I’ve been assigned to speak on today is the power of faith, hope, and love through Christ. I’ve really loved studying it, and I’m excited to speak about it today, because the development of those attributes is what builds Christ-centered lives, making us true Disciples of Christ. When we become true disciples, we naturally share the gospel with others because it is such a part of our core, and that’s what I’ve been preparing to do my entire life.

FAITH
The first principle of the gospel is faith, and it is the first and most fundamental step in becoming a true disciple of Christ. Moroni tells us in Moroni 7:33 that, “Christ hath said: If ye will have faith in me ye shall have power to do whatsoever thing is expedient in me.” Isn’t that amazing?

Faith can also lead us to do good works, obey the commandments, and repent of our sins. We can overcome temptation, experience miracles and spiritual and physical healing through the atonement, and have strength and courage to endure trials.

Peter is one of my favorite scriptural examples, and I think the story of him walking on water teaches important lessons about faith. Although he became afraid after he got a little way out on the water, and the Savior had to reprimand him because of his little faith, he had just had the faith to walk on water! He was the only one of the apostles that even got as far as the edge of the ship, not to mention actually walking on water. Peter showed great faith just through his desire to follow the Savior, and we can do that too. We just need to take that first step into the water.

An example of faith from my personal life is my first Relief Society president my freshman year. Her name was Gana, she was from Mongolia, she was a returned missionary, and she was engaged. Things don’t get much cooler in a freshman’s eyes. What was more, she knew my name, and she would call me by name when she saw me on campus, as well as in church on Sundays. Because of how kind she was to me, I committed to be the kind of girl she was—friendly to everyone, including and especially those who are new or seem to need a friend, and aware of the individual. I also decided that if I were going to be like Gana, I would need to serve a mission. That was already long in the plan, but this added to the commitment. Towards the end of the semester, we found out Gana was very sick. Or bishop organized a ward fast, and the next day she passed away. At the funeral, mission companions and friends spoke of the example of a faithful, loving person she’d been, and I decided to try to carry on her legacy as best I could. I will never forget Gana, because she is an example to me of the missionary and example I hope to be. Through the love she showed to be, I have a greater ability to show that love to others.

HOPE

There is a crucial addition to faith in the Savior and His Plan. It says in 2 Nephi 31:20 that “we must press forward with a steadfastness in Christ, having a perfect brightness of hope.” It goes beyond faith. It’s possible to be faithful all your life, enduring every trial, plugging along faithfully, and really being miserable. Hope is the gift of the spirit. It is applied faith, not just enduring, but anticipating the joy and rewards at the end. Hope is what lets us feel not only will things are going to work out, but that things will work out great. In Ether 12:4, it says, “Wherefore, whoso believeth in God might with surety hope for a better world, yea, even a place at the right hand of God, which hope cometh of faith, maketh an anchor to the sols of men, which would make the sure and steadfast, always abound in good works, being led to glorify God.

One experience I had that taught me the power of hope happened during one especially stressful finals week. I had a huge credit load that semester, and I had a bunch of intense finals and performances. Monday morning I decided to go running on the beach, which is one of my all-time favorite activities. The whole run down to the beach I was thinking about all I had to do that week, and worrying about all sorts of things that in hindsight really weren’t that important. When I got to the beach and started running again, I prayed for the strength and courage to make it through the week without dying.

Shortly thereafter, I noticed the beautiful sunrise, and the way it reflected on the sparkling water, brightening the beautiful section of paradise I had the great blessing to live in. I stopped worrying about all that was going to happen that week, and thoughts of my many blessings came to my memory.

I realized that if I didn’t get a 4.0 that semester, or play as well as I’d like to, it wouldn’t be the end of the world. Everything would be fine, because no matter what, I had a family back at home that loved me, a Heavenly Father who loved me, and a testimony of the truthfulness of the gospel.

That blessing of peace, hope, gratitude, and assurance got me through that week with minimal scars. It also strengthened my testimony of the love my Heavenly Father had for me, and gave me a better perspective for the future. I am so excited to share that message of hope with those I teach!

CHARITY

The last step in becoming true Disciples of Christ comes from the combination of faith and hope. As we develop those attributes, we will feel the love of our Heavenly Father, and naturally want to share that love with others. This is the power of faith, hope, and love through Christ.

When Lehi partook of the fruit of the tree, which was the love of God, his first instinct was to look for his family, because he wanted them to share that experience. We know that we are true followers of Christ if that is the way we feel. Because of the wonderful people I’ve been surrounded by my entire life—my family, my teachers, my friends, this ward—I’ve been able to feel that love many times.

One powerful experience I had where I felt the love of God very strongly was in the hospital a few years ago, after a surgery. Once I had recovered enough to be aware of the other children in the neural trauma unit around me, I became completely overwhelmed with the trials they had, and how they would affect their entire lives in very significant ways. One night I was so distressed that I was just sobbing in my hospital bed, and praying to Heavenly Father for them. In answer to my prayer, He told me that although they couldn’t necessarily pray vocally, or do the kinds of things I could do, like go on a mission, or go to school, they could still communicate with Him and feel His love. At that moment, I committed to try to show that same love to as many as I could, because I had felt its great power and intensity, and I couldn’t keep it to myself. That is why I want to go on a mission.

Alma 26:16
Therefore, let us aglory, yea, we will bglory in the Lord; yea, we will rejoice, for our joy is full; yea, we will praise our God forever. Behold, who can glory too much in the Lord? Yea, who can say too much of his great power, and of his cmercy, and of his long-suffering towards the children of men? Behold, I say unto you, I cannot say the smallest part which I feel.

“B” as in “Bravo”

You know that funny lingo pilots and flight attendants and airport workers use to refer to letters? I’m amazed by the lack of originality. If I was a flight attendant, these are the words I would use:
A- Aisle
B- Bacon
C- Czar
D- Destiny
E- Europe
F- Filibuster
G- Gnarly
H- Honor
I- Iridescent
J- Jalapeño
K- Knowledge
L- Luminosity
M- Mnemonic
N- Neverland
O- Onomatopoeia
P- Pterodactyl
Q- Queer
R- Raucous
S- Skiwampus
T- Terrific
U- Umbrella
V- Voila
W- Wrinkle
X- Xerox
Y- Yodel
Z- Zodiac