Sunday, February 27, 2011

The power to change

I was reminded today of a story that my uncle told me during his time as my mission prep teacher.  If you are wondering what time that was, it was 3 semesters.  Yes. It took me 3 semesters to finally get my booty on a mission.  Nobody ever said I was the smartest cookie in the box, and it takes me a long time to make decisions.  But when I do make decisions, its because I know they are the right one, and I stick to them.

Anyways, the story.

My uncle, who by the way is an amazing mission prep teacher, served as a mission president in Campinas, Brazil.  During his time there, he participated in this following conversion story that reminds me of how important the atonement is in ALL of our lives.

There were two missionaries that were out tracting on a Sunday night.  For those of you who didn't serve missions, Sunday night tends to be a pretty stressful time because its when you turn your numbers in and have to report on the week.  Its when you meet your goals or you don't.  When you don't meet your goals it is so disappointing.  You feel like you have let not only yourself and your leaders down, but Heavenly Father.  These missionaries needed to place just one more Book of Mormon to meet their goals for the week.  This particular Sunday evening found them in a city square talking to people.  As they attempted to make conversation with people in the square they became more and more desperate to place that last Book of Mormon.

Looking across the square, the junior companion (it always seems to be the jr that has the faith!!) saw a man who had been selling coffee from a large thermos sitting on a step, smoking a cigarette like it was his last.  The young missionary turned to his companion, and insisted that they talk to the man.  The older protested saying, 'Elder, talking to him will be a waste of time and even if we do talk to him, it would just be to fulfill a number, not because he wants to talk to us or know anything about the church.'

'I really feel like we need to talk to that man!' was the jr companion's reply.  So the senior companion relented, and they went to talk to the man.

As the story goes, the man didn't say much, listened to their message, took the Book of Mormon and gave them his address, but didn't really respond much more than that.  The missionaries walked away, the senior feeling as though he had taught his young companion a very important lesson.

Three weeks passed, and the missionaries found themselves in an area of town they did not normally go without any plans because their appointments had fallen through.  They flipped through their planners looking for someone who lived near by that they could teach.  The junior companion realized that they were very near the coffee salesman's house, so he begged his companion to go there.  Seeing that there wasn't many other options, they set out to find this man's house.  They were surprised to find the man home, and even more surprised when he let them in.  

As they sat down to teach, the junior companion turned to the senior companion and said, 'Elder, we need to teach him about the word of wisdom.'  This was not normal, and the senior protested saying, 'Elder, we can't teach him that! He probably breaks every part of it and will kick us out.  We need to start with something else and ease our way into that!'  Again, the junior companion would not back down, so the senior companion allowed it, but insisted that he do most of the teaching.

The junior companion taught with clarity the importance of our earthly bodies, and what we needed to do in order to keep them holy.  He explained that because they were so important we kept them from being defiled with substances that blurred our judgement and then promised the man, that if he made the decision, the Lord would help him to change.  During the entire lesson, the man had made no noise, no comment, and had dutifully smoked cigarette after cigarette.  At this comment, the man stopped.  Tears welled up in his eyes and he looked at the young missionary saying, 'You think that I can change?'

The young missionary sensing the spirit, and knowing that this was why they were there promised the man that he could, that he WOULD and that he wouldn't do it alone.  Hearts were touched, and the man and his whole family were baptized.  A few months later he was diagnosed with cancer and told that he would only live a few months later.  He swore to the doctor that he would live long enough to be sealed to his family, which he was.

For whatever reason, that story has been running through my mind all day.  We had really awesome meetings in my ward today.  I have a lot on my mind and I felt like I was being spoken to and that things just seemed to become clear to me where they hadn't been before.  Before Paul was a great apostle, he was Saul, a great persecutor of truth.  In a talk entitled The Power To Change the late Elder James E. Faust said the following:

Transgression brings pain and sorrow. But there is a way out of “the gall of bitterness and bonds of iniquity” (Mosiah 27:29). If we will turn to the Lord and believe on His name, we can change. He will give us the power to change our lives, the power to put away bad thoughts and feelings from our hearts. We can be taken from “the darkest abyss” to “behold the marvelous light of God” (Mosiah 27:29). We can be forgiven. We can find peace.

I want you to know that I know that the atonement of Jesus Christ gives us the power to change.  I am not perfect, never have been.  But the atonement has given me the strength and the ability to make myself better.   I am so glad that I have that, and that even when I mess up, I can pick myself back up, and try again.  I can change!

And I think that you can change too.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

This is why you want me around

So, guess what.

Are you guessing?

Have your little ears started to burn with anticipation over the announcement I have for you?

Its really exciting.

I'm not sure you're ready.

Do you think you can handle this?

At least ten of you have skipped to the bottom of this post to find out.

If you read this line, comment to me your favorite ice cream.

Haha, okay I'm done messing around. I cut my hair!  Exciting I know.  The only reason I tell you this is to tell you this story.

Ignore this silly face.  For whatever reason I am making this face...

I chopped a good six inches off of my hair last saturday.  I felt like it was time for a change, so I just went and did it.  I like it.  It makes me look even more like a teenager than I already did which I'm not sure is a good thing since I'm a substitute teacher, but I like my cut.

That night, a bunch of girls went to downtown Houston to see some short films.  Among my favorites was this hilarity. (the clip doesn't do it justice btw)

Anywho, after the event, my friends and I were exiting the Museum where the movie madness had taken place.  We were talking intermittently about the different films, where we were going to eat, and mine and another friend of mine's haircuts.  Someone commented to me about my hair and I turned to reply.  The person standing next to me: not my friend.  In fact it was a random man who had gotten caught up in our group, but wasn't exactly trying to get away and I honestly think he was enjoying our conversation.  When I realized I didn't know him, I started laughing and said, 'Oh I'm sorry I thought you were my friend!'

He smiled and said, 'Yeah, sorry.'

And for some odd reason, I felt like explaining myself so I replied, 'Well, in case you were wondering, I really love my new hair cut!' and then I burst into air gasping laughs, as did several of my friends.

The man looked at me calmly, laughed to him self and said awkwardly, 'Well...congratulations?'

I am a lot of fun.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

I don't know if you know this, but I'm kind of a big deal...

Now, I should preface this by saying, I don't tell these stories just so that you will think I am cool.  In fact, most of the time if you were to pay me a compliment, I would probably laugh in your face, or better yet, make you laugh at how I turned down the compliment. I'm not a very good compliment getter... which is totally an adjective by the way.

SOOOOO, there aren't many things in life I am good at.  The super athletic gene skipped my zygote (if you don't know what that is, you obviously know nothing about biology...and if you know me you know why this is funny) and I'm not what you would call the sharpest pencil in the box.

But the one thing that I am good at is teaching.

I don't know how many times I have had the spirit confirm to me that I am in the correct profession for my talents.  It seems like almost every day I have experiences that just give me a spiritual high five or a holy ghost pat on the back (which feels much like nothing at all, but you know it when it happens, trust me)


Today I walked into a middle school that I sub at quite often and had one of the paraprofessionals assigned to the deaf educations students hollar after me. 'Miss Mac! Who are you subbing for? Bushman?'  'No I'm in Coffland's class.' 'Dang it!' was her reply...I just love that!

On Friday I was at a high school I have started to sub at recently that I love.  I was in a Spanish class and I was really excited about subbing in my major...until I read the lesson plans and saw that they were pretty lame and that the kids would be done ridiculously early with what they were supposed to be doing.  I had been handling it all day, but by seventh period I was alright with the kids finishing the assignment and talking quietly with each other.  As I was monitoring the room, I started talking with a particular student who would not stop cursing.  Not to be rude or anything, he was just talking like he normally would and didn't even realize that he was cursing.

I stopped him and started talking to him about what an awful habit that was.  I asked him if he had planned on speaking like that when he had a full time job and was working in an office.  He replied that he didn't want to work in an office.  I asked him what he DID want to do then. It opened a door to a conversation about planning for the future and college and thinking about how to pay for it and being responsible.  It was one of those conversations that teachers LIVE for!!

It was funny because when we started talking it was just he and I and another student.  By the end of the conversation, over half the class was listening and piping in.  It was so exciting to talk to these kids that are supposedly the 'bad eggs' and the 'hard kids' that nobody wants to teach and hearing them say things that I'm positive easy to teach kids wouldn't have said.  As they were walking out, several students turned back to thank me for talking to them.  The kid I had started talking to turned back as he was walking out and said, 'Keep doin' what you're doin' Miss.  We need good teachers like you.'  Melt my heart. I said.  Not that I wanna toot my own horn or anything.

But I'm pretty much awesome.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Note to the lady next to me on the plane...

They call it solitaire for a reason, but thanks for the tips.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

TMFH: TheDark

I may or may not be afraid of the dark just a little.  So if you see me run and jump into bed, just roll with it. I will also probably run to and from the car if I forget something at night, and/or make you go get it.  Chivalry isn't dead...right?