Monday, August 31, 2009

Women

"No matter what circumstances you sisters experience, your influence can be marvelously far-reaching. I believe some of you have a tendency to underestimate your profound capacity for blessing the lives of others. More often than not, it is not on the stage with some public pronouncement but in your example of righteousness and the countless gentle acts of love and kindness done so willingly, so often on a one-to-one basis."
James E. Faust
Ensign, Nov. 2002

September 2009 - the Home teaching message / lesson in the Ensign comes from Pres. Dieter F. Uchtdorf, 'The Influence of Righteous Women'. There are many examples of the importance of women from our scriptures, our families, our church leaders and in our community. Pres. Uchtdorf goes on to speak of the important role women play in the church.
"I hope that my dear sisters throughout the world - grandmothers, mothers, aunts, and friends - never underestimate the power of their influence for good, especially in the lives of our precious children and youth!"

My mom tells me and my sister and Ferron to get up and grab a big tub of grapes from our fridge and a big colorful bouquet of flowers and to go over to the neighbor's house with her. My mom has only had maybe five brief conversations with our neighbor Sherri, but they are always friendly and wave at each other when they see one another. Sometimes when we barbecue, my mother will make us run them over some plates just because.

Thanks to Facebook, we found out last night the neighbors pregnant teen daughter, gave birth two months early and the baby was stillborn. To make matters worse, the girl we went to school with almost died as well because of major complications that came about very rapidly. My mom told Ferron and I to stick around and just sit and watch some television or chat with the daughter about nothing important, as she wanted to be with the mother privately in the kitchen.

The circumstances were not ideal for any parent to want to discuss. My mom gave her a big hug and let her talk about whatever she wanted to. She wept with our neighbor and offered our families assistance in anyway possible. I know it meant alot for the parents to see my mom at their home because she talked to my mom like she knew her for years. I know my mom's heart was truly broken for our neighbors even though she knew very little about them. I know it was very heart breaking for me as well to see someone so young endure so much pain, both physically and emotionally. I know why my mom told us to just sit with our neighbor. I believe she knew we really do care about the traumatic ordeal their family just went through.

I have watched my own mother's face light up with happy confusion when Sis.Manzella and Sis.Backer sent over baked goods to our home for no apparent reason. Her happiness came from knowing that she is loved by really wonderful women. I know what the power of the Relief Society "sisterhood" has done to enrich our family. I have seen the joys and the compassion of LDS women in progress. I know the good it does the souls of others who are not members but will benefit from a genuine sister's need to do good works. I know that the Holy Spirit whispers in the minds of our women to use their strengths in times of joy and in times of sorrow to uplift others and many.

When all seems happy or even gloomy, a hug, a smile or a simple kind thought from a woman might be the powerful thing that motivates your day. Being part of the LDS "sisterhood" trains you to use your gifts to its utmost potential. Be genuine with with those gifts and it will come back to you tenfold.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Love. Laugh. Live.

Sounds like a plan:
1 - graduate high school - check
2 - go to college - check
3 - serve a mission and come home an RM - in progress
4 - go back to college and date "worthy" girls
5 - put a ring on the one that's right for "all time and eternity"
6 - to be continued ... really looking forward to my 20's

My mom went with my little sister to another function yesterday, so Dad, Ferron and myself got to go to an Open House/wedding reception that the Burdge's had here in Minnesota for their eldest son and their new daughter in law. Congratulations to Austin and Cassi Burdge and to Mama and Papa Burdge for raising a fine example of a gentleman.
Mom says, "Take plenty of pictures. I love weddings."

The pictures came out looking like really fast action shots because none of us bothered to check the settings. We did manage to get this little clip of Austin and Cassi Burdge singing "Lucky" to each other.

While we were watching the clip ...
Dad: "Think he's a little nervous?"
Mom: "No. They're in love. No one else matters to them right now." *sighs and smiles*
Dad: "Does that remind you of us?"
Mom: "Weren't you in middle school when I was their age?"

Love. Laugh. Live.

video

Saturday, August 29, 2009

You Can

I remember hearing the story of Team Hoyt back in 2005. I always get choked up hearing the great love this father had for his son and the sacrifices he continually makes in his life to watch his son become successful. What a way to let your son and the world KNOW, he is loved and he matters. WOW! I was recently reminded of Team Hoyt and knew that anyone who gets the chance to hear their story repeated will be really inspired by it.

Team Hoyt to me, is so much like a living version of the story of God sending His only begotten Son to the earth. He loved His Son enough to let him go teach the people on earth and do good works for everyone. Ultimately sacrificing His son for the sake of all mankind. The Hoyt story is a powerful testament of the human spirit and the sacrifices we make for the ones we love.
There isn't time to worry about the nay-sayers or throw pity parties for your situation.
You just DO IT!
What do you do that motivates you to be the best person you can be daily?
What do you sacrifice daily for your family and those you love?
Do you love yourself enough to sacrifice your time to improving yourself so that others might be blessed from it?
Have you done all you can as a parent to help foster success stories for your own children?
I know my Heavenly Father loves me just as much and continually sends daily reminders of just how much I mean to him.
I hope this video will inspire your own lives to do whatever it is YOU NEED to do to be a better you, for yourself and to everyone else.
The Team Hoyt motto: YOU CAN!
Pause the music player. Watch the video. Enjoy!
video

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Advice From A College Kid

This is what a college student should look like at Finals. Unless, you PROCRASTINATE, then it's your normal look.















Words of wisdom: Procrastination, don't do it. It's costly in EVERY WAY!
Emotionally.
Physically.
Mentally.
It frustrates others as well.
Your credibility becomes questionable in certain situations.
Sometimes you just want to be a kid again and it's not possible anymore.
Sometimes you long for the simple life style of being stress free and just doing manual labor that your use to, but it's not possible anymore.
That's when you just have to suck it up and just grow up. No one ever grows as a person if you don't challenge yourself to be the best possible person you can possibly become. Knowledge is power. If you procrastinate, you will spend alot of time being frustrated while you try to hurry yourself to finish what you could have taken care of earlier.
Enough said.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Government Employees

I had to go to the Social Security office this morning and sat for about three hours in a cramped office waiting for them to call A174. I took my pull tab number, filled out my form and sat quietly and the first number they call A143. Ughhh! I ended up missing my afternoon Biology class and got the typical rude service from one of the United States finest government workers. If I had sat there any longer, I would have been late to work as well. Luckily, 3 hours is a short wait, or so I hear. As I sat there waiting patiently for 'Gladys' to call me (her name was NOT Gladys. Gladys just sounds like a government workers name, lol) some thoughts ran through my head:
1. Why do government workers seem so ornery? No matter how pleasant you are, it seems like they're purposely trying to crush your happy demeanor until you walk away feeling small.
2. If you are not happy to have your government job, why don't you just quit and do what you have always wanted to do? Is it because you want job security and really would rather be doing something else for a living?
3. Why is there about 16 booths at any government building, i.e. Soc. Sec., DMV, Courts, and there are only 3 to 5 people manning the booths? On what mysterious days do they actually staff enough employees to work these booths?
4. Why is it these government offices have security desks for the guard but they are hardly ever at their desk? when they are at their desk, why are they just as obnoxiously rude as the government workers?
I am by no means trying to stereotype ALL government workers (maybe just the majority of them, lol), but my answer to all of the headaches I incur while at a government office or dealing with a TSA, a terrible restaurant staff member, basically an unhappy worker in general, practice patience and JUST SMILE. No matter what you have to go through to get done with what you need to get done, practice patience and JUST SMILE. When you do these two things for even the grumpiest person alive, you first, give the other person the opportunity to reciprocate, and quite honestly, isn't that exactly what were looking for in our dealings in order for them to be pleasant? Secondly, even if your having a bad day, your smile lets everyone know you love the life you live regardless of where your life is at.
I am sure it's a life skill a missionary needs when they're out crushing pavement. As the saying goes, "It's not easy but it's definitely worth it."
I get to go practice being patient and smiling at work and I'm sure it makes a difference.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Higher Learning


Homework, I Love You

Homework, I love you.

I think that you’re great.

It’s wonderful fun when you keep me up late.

I think you’re the best when I’m totally stressed,

preparing and cramming all night for a test.

Homework, I love you.

What more can I say?

I love to do hundreds of problems each day.

You boggle my mind and you make me go blind,

but still I’m ecstatic that you were assigned.

Homework, I love you.

I tell you, it’s true.

There’s nothing more fun or exciting to do.

You’re never a chore,

for it’s you I adore.

I wish that our teacher would hand you out more.

Homework, I love you.

You thrill me inside.

I’m filled with emotions.

I’m fit to be tied.

I cannot complain when you frazzle my brain.

Of course, that’s because I’m completely insane.


by Kenn Nesbitt

Monday, August 24, 2009

Embrace Uncertainty

There isn't much in life's journey that is guaranteed all the time, but I can count all on one hand how many things are certain in my life.

#5 - My parents and sister will always love me unconditionally.
#4 - I will be successful at whatever I put my 110% sincere effort into.
#3 - Heavenly Father will always create opportunities for me to give and receive life lessons by placing people in my life at specific times.
#2- Jesus Christ is my Savior and the Atonement is REAL.
#1 - Heavenly Father has and will never fail me.

The rest of life's lessons you just learn as you grow. Here's something interesting that you can use in your everyday life that might possibly teach you things that you can be certain of:

"Embracing uncertainty is a way to step out of the ego mind’s need to control events and the future. And since in reality our ego does not control life, embracing uncertainty is also a way of affirming what actually is real.

Recognizing that we don’t know what is going to happen does not mean we don’t plan and take action. We do, but we are freed from the illusion that there is some absolute “right” action to take, and that if we can only figure that out we will feel certain and safe.

It’s harder to embrace uncertainty when there are pressing financial concerns. You need to take practical, sensible action to secure your real needs. At the same time use this situation as a spiritual opportunity to shift your feelings of fear and insecurity based on external events, to a sense of inner security, stability and peace rooted in a knowingness of your essential nature. For when you are firm in the knowledge of your true self, then you can act as required without fear, secure in the understanding that a way forward will be there even if our limited mind does not necessarily know when, where or how it will happen.

When we find our core certainty within, then we no longer look for certainty outside. The unfathomable nature of the ever-changing world ceases to be a source of anxiety and instead is a source of joy and adventure."

-Deepak Chopra
Indian Spiritualist, Life Coach, Physician and Philosopher

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Freshman

First day of college starts tomorrow for me. For the first time in a long time, I am actually excited for school to begin! I guess that would be the proper emotion to show when you're paying for your own education. I finally inherited that hoopty Saturn from my dad. For those of you who don't know, a hoopty (HOOP - TEE) is a worn down winter beater that you drive on a daily basis. The car use to be obnoxiously loud that it was my neighbor's alarm every morning for a year before my mom finally made an appointment to get the muffler fixed. My dad believes in being very frugal and didn't want to waste money on a "little inconvenience." Right, right.


I lucked out because the campus is only 7.04 miles away from home, so I will get the pleasure of riding my bike to school most days until the weather goes winter again. I also got a promotion at work, so that's sweet. Seems like everything is falling into a good place for me.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Ready. Set. Go!

Volleyball season is in progress!

There is a great perk growing up in any city with organized sports program. In the suburbs, parents, friends and families show up at parks and gyms armed with lawn chairs or picnic blankets to cheer on their player. My 9 year old sister is playing volleyball with the 4th grade Hawkeyes this season and my dad will be coaching her team. He will be taking care of all the Admin stuff and I will get the pleasure of running the practices and we will both share the job of managing the games. Our coaching actually came along because of the volunteer opportunities offered by the city of Eagan. They were looking for parents to coach volleyball, so we volunteered because Mina's team didn't have a coach. Lucky move on our part!



If you live in the city of Eagan, they run an amazing organized sports program staffed by a community of parents and others all done on a VOLUNTEER basis. It reminds me alot of how the church is run. It is wonderful how the helping hands of many can create such a fantastic program. You can check out the City of Eagan's sports program at:

http://www.eaasports.org/



I highly suggest you check out your local sports program in your city and see if your helping hands can make a difference in the lives of others. For my sister Mina, she has made many friends from the neighborhood, other elementary schools and local churches. It has also connected us to many of the families in the Eagan area that we see on a regular basis.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Spring Cleaning

Is it just me or is mowing the lawn, trimming all the hedges and bushes and pulling weeds a work out? There's 2 hours of added work out time, if that is the case. There's one good thing about the snow in a Minnesota winter. It makes your lawn look as nice as your neighbor's. Today, I did the lawn and Ferron opted to "spring clean" the kitchen and bathrooms with my mom.

If it's called "spring cleaning" can someone tell my mom it's only once a year and not once before a whole new season starts? Well, at least the bathrooms get that thorough bleach wipe down with the strong "burn your nose hairs smell" going and in our home, it marks the welcoming of a new season. Fall begins September 23rd still, doesn't it?

True story. Ferron goes to the big city in the Midwest for a professional rugby tryout and then after 5 days he has to come home for a week to let the parents know what he decides: will he or won't he play? Whatever his decision, we have to make more plans from whatever he chooses to do. He says he wants to wait another year. He doesn't think he's ready (maybe mentally, lol). Then my mom says, "What are your REAL issues with moving forward and growing up? Why don't you want to go?" Ferron scrunches up his face and says, "Those guys are dirty. The apartment is filthy."
H--I--L--A--R--I--O--U--S!

It's funny how both my mom and Ferron's mom have been so militant about keeping everything clean and up until this summer, we were forced to share a room to practice being respectful of a roommate.
"It would be good preparation for a mission."
This was Ferron's REAL issue?! I guess it would be when you are so use to living a clean house.

Keep your yard clean. Mow your lawn. Keep your home clean. These seem like annoying things that have to be done, but apparently, it is some kind of metaphor of how you really are as a person. Isn't that how you show appreciation and respect for yourself and your community? If you're lazy and don't take time to maintain your property, do you really appreciate the home you live in or the things your blessed with?

I guess you really wouldn't know until you leave the nest your staying in now.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

I Hope You Dance

1 - PAUSE my music player on this blog!
2 - ENJOY the videos!
3 - DANCE with those you love the most!

"There is a shortcut to daily happiness. It's called dancing."
video video

"... and when you get the choice to sit it out or dance, I hope you dance."

"If thou art merry, praise the Lord with singing, with music, with dancing, and with a prayer of praise and thanksgiving."
D&C 136:28

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Missionary Fireside Questions From The Youth

Eagan Ward had Sister missionaries enter the Ward during the end of our school year. Before they showed up in the Ward there were several Elders. We started out with Sis.Fisihetau and Sis.Petersen. When Sis.Petersen got transferred, we got Sis.Hall. Today we found out that sadly, Sis.Hall is being transferred to Plymouth. So this post is for the Sisters in Eagan Ward.

Here are some of the questions asked. See if you can answer them. Post your answers if you know. I am not even sure of the answers but maybe they could have a refresher Fireside for those not in the know, like myself.

SISTER
Do sister missionaries wear pants? why or why not?
Do sister missionaries ride bikes?
Do the sister missionaries have restrictions as far as visiting and riding with members in the wards they serve?
Do sister missionaries teach in a different way than Elders?
Can a local sister go proselyting with the Elders?

RETURN MISSIONARIES
Did you feel it was difficult to adjust to life again at home?
Were you or are you under pressure to get married?
Do you feel like you had to attend college when you got home?
Are there any perks for RMs if they attend a church college? lowered tuition?
Do you plan to be married in the Temple? Why?
What would disqualify me from serving a mission?
Would you serve a mission again if you have the opportunity?
Do you feel you have changed since you served a mission?
What was the hardest thing for you to get use to when you were on a mission?
Can you influence where you serve by speaking or knowing a language before you serve?

BRANCH PRESIDENTS
What does the Branch Mission leader do?
Have you ever seen a young man from your Branch serve a mission and return with Honor?
How many missionaries are on full time missions from your Branch?
When did missionaries first come to your area?
What does the Branch Presidency do to help young men go on missions?
Who was the first missionary from tour area?
Which countries have local missionaries served in? I
Is it a commandment to serve a mission? why or why not?
What does a non-member have to do to be baptized?
Can missionaries wear a beard or mustache? why or why not?

MISSIONARIES IN GENERAL
How much money do I need to save to go on a mission?
What do they teach you in the MTC?
Suppose I get a scholarship to study, should I still go on a mission? How much education do I need to go on a mission?
How old do I need to be to go on a mission?
Why do prospective missionaries have to take a medical?
Do full time missionaries always have to be together? Wat happens if they are not?
Although I can serve a mission now I would rather do something else and serve later with my wife, what would I miss if I don't serve now?
My leaders didn't serve a mission but they expect me to serve one. Why should I serve?

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Before Getting To The MTC

At the October 2002 General Conference Priesthood session Pres.Gordon B. Hinckley says no farewells at church or big open house gatherings after sacrament meeting for the departing missionary. It can be found at:
http://www.lds.org/conference/talk/display/0,5232,49-1-315-18,00.html
I was wondering how that must feel to a mother of a child leaving to serve for 18 months to 2 years of their life. I would hope any mother whose child leaves to serve a mission would not be desensitized to wanting a goodbye of some sort for their child. A concept that I really believe not a lot of Polynesians are likely to follow in the church, much less try to understand. Our whole way of life revolves around music, dance, speeches and festive meals. There's no real special occasion that needs to be happen for a 'gathering'. That should happen every Sunday to begin with for a Samoan household. I personally feel that your family should not wait until your funeral to celebrate your situation.
I think living in Minnesota away from all our extended family and friends we grew up with and have formed lifetime bonds with and being away from the daily Polynesian interactions has prepared our little family for the task of NOT being able to be too festive when saying goodbye to someone leaving for a while. A big gathering that includes music, dance and speeches is a different story though. As I have mentioned, their is NO special reason for a 'gathering' in our home. Those gatherings have happened in our home on Sunday afternoons as far back as I can remember. I have pictures from when I was a baby showing these 'non-special occasion' gatherings on Sundays after church.
I do like the idea of a small gathering of the people you are closest to. It somehow seems more personal that way. I thought of the missionaries that might be lone members, new members or without family support and how it is very considerate to their situation. What about those missionaries leaving whose families are not equipped financially to fund an open house or celebration? The thought of keeping that type of milestone in your life special and celebratory is really all in the way you look at it, I suppose. I know my father in particular is thankful for Pres.Gordon B. Hinckley's revelation on this subject and considers it 'cost efficient'.

Here is an except from an Ensign article by Marvin K. Gardner, December 1979 speaking on mission prep:

I asked Elder Vaughn J. Featherstone, a member of the First Quorum of the Seventy and a managing director of the Missionary Department, what kind of preparation he’d like to see every new missionary have.
“A prepared missionary,” he said, “(and I’m talking about lady missionaries as well as elders) is one who has developed a sweet relationship with the Savior prior to his mission. In fact, that should be the thing that motivates him to serve. And he should go because he wants to—not because he feels pressured into going. He ought to really have a desire to take the gospel of Jesus Christ to the people in whatever mission he may be called to.”
The prepared missionary has also done some studying before entering the field: “He ought to be familiar with the scriptures,” said Elder Featherstone, “hopefully having read at least the Book of Mormon and studied the others. And he ought to be familiar with the missionary discussions—they are available, and almost anyone can get a copy if he desires.”
Elder Featherstone recalled that when he was mission president in Texas, one new missionary, Elder Brad Hunsaker of Salt Lake City, had all eight discussions memorized when he arrived—and that was back when those going to English-speaking missions spent only four days in the Salt Lake mission home. “Since he had used his time wisely before coming on his mission,” said Elder Featherstone, “he didn’t have to spend that first two or three months memorizing the discussions. It put him leaps and bounds ahead of others.”
Familiarity with the discussions is an advantage even for missionaries going to foreign-speaking missions—since their Missionary Training Center experience will concentrate on memorizing the discussions in another language.
A prepared missionary, according to Elder Featherstone, is also one who has learned to work and has a lot of ambition. He should have earned most of his own money. He ought to be in good physical condition. And he should know how to sacrifice—“he ought to realize that there will be no swimming, no horseback riding, no television—those kinds of things—that music will be restricted, and that he’ll have to control his budget.”
He also ought to be emotionally prepared for his mission, Elder Featherstone said, “meaning that he has cast off his introverted feelings and is not afraid to go out and meet people. He needs to decide that he can get along with a companion twenty-four hours a day, and that he will accept counsel, constructive criticism, and responsibility.”
All of this kind of preparation can occur before he ever enters the Missionary Training Center.

*today's tip: Volunteer your time and efforts to something bigger than yourself. Everyone's small effort makes a difference. I'm donating blood this afternoon to the Red Cross.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Weigh In

In one week's time, my weigh in today: 212.6 lbs - a loss of 7.2 lbs and 30% body fat - a loss of 2%. More HOTT body pics next week. lol. The workouts have been tiring but I'm staying consistent. I'm sure working out with my homey Carp is making the exercise regiments tolerable. There is a bigger goal in mind and I just have to remember that.

"Learning to endure times of disappointment, suffering, and sorrow is part of our on-the-job training. These experiences, while often difficult to bear at the time, are precisely the kinds of experiences that stretch our understanding, build our character, and increase our compassion for others."

Joseph B. Wirthlin
Ensign, Nov 2008
Me and Carp playing softball with the Ward

Sunday, August 16, 2009

He Works Hard For The Mission

So far, I've given a little bit of the who, what, when, and why of my current situation. In regards to a mission though, I haven't quite given the HOW. That is, how exactly do I plan on funding my mission, as well as paying for school. So I thought I'd give you a little bit of the inside scoop on my job.

I work in the Winter Season with the City of Eagan and I'm also currently employed with Little Caesar's Pizza. I've been working there since February and I really enjoy it. I work with many interesting characters, and aside from a few grease burns and headaches, the job isn't bad at all. You would think that working there would be a temptation that could inhibit my quest to be fit. WRONG! At first, it seemed like the greatest thing in the world, but after about 2 weeks, the very mention of Little Caesar's was enough to make me cringe. I'm also proud to hold the title of no. 4 employee for Little Caesar's in the land. Well, maybe the state of Minnesota. We recently finished our reviews. Our manager's boss came in and inspected all of the employees and watched us work for a few days. We were given scores and compared to the other employees in the other 12 locations in the Twin Cities area. Despite the fact that our store had some of the lower sales averages, we had 5 of the top 10 employees, which was definitely a dismal honor to say the least. Since then, I've become one of the "untouchable" employees. It's very humbling, but also somewhat gratifying to know that putting in hard work by using the principles taught by my parents and the church; being honest in our dealings, working diligently and showing pride in whatever task you're assigned to, even in such a setting as Little Caesar's does indeed pay off. It doesn't matter what you do, just how you do it that counts.

I have really learned a few things about myself from working at Little Caesar's. First of all, I have fully confirmed and reaffirmed the fact that college is NOT optional in this day and age. I have a few 20-something co-workers who have no idea where there lives are going. REALLY?? As my dad would say, "they are on the non-plan plan". This is not the dark ages without all the technology and counselors and opportunities and ALL of the things that were blessed to have now a days (according to anyone over 35 years old). Being brought up in a strict household and in the church, it has always been about being prepared and doing the work necessary to make sure your future is void of indecision. I was like every other teen who rarely heard anything my parents said while I was in school, but now it's becoming crystal clear that if I don't take my life seriously, I would end up a joke and there would be nothing funny about that.

My second point would be, a mission isn't a bad thing at all. I am no stranger to angst, self doubt and fear of failure. There is no age requirement for any human to know these are real feelings. I do know personally, serving a mission would help me immensely to be rid of these feelings. What a wonderful thing to put my complete trust in the Lord. If you are put out in an area unfamiliar to you, no contact with everyone you ever trusted before you served, where would you turn? You have no where to turn except to put all your faith in the Lord. I believe the human spirit always tries to fight for survival. Part of that survival plan is your mind and soul going to things that put your mind at ease. I believe that faith in the Lord is the first place any Christian mind thinks of first to save yourself. I look forward to finding my TRUE identity by developing a deeper relationship with my Heavenly Father. I hear the older you get the more you start to realize who you truly are. I could not see myself on my journey without the companionship of my Heavenly Father. Is there another way that will lead a man in a more perfect path?? I highly doubt it.

Lastly, I have always known that I would have to finance my mission 100%. My mom has never let me think otherwise. I have always been told that I would not appreciate my mission or want to serve the Lord honestly without complaint, unless I paid for my mission on my own. If I wanted something bad enough I just had to work hard for it and believe the Lord would make all opportunities possible for me to earn those finances. I believe myself to be a hard worker, more importantly an honest worker. I am sure that work ethic is pleasing to the Lord, so I don't doubt that my mission efforts will be blessed.

Although I am a full time college student and work at Little Caesar's , I am still looking for a second job. I am taking this time to fully immerse myself in my preparation period. It seems like a small price to pay to ensure a successful future.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Eagan Ward Activity - Softball

Our Activities Director Bro.Doug Backer organized a Ward softball game at Downing Park 10:00am. A nice little work out and time to bond with some of the ward members. I had a good time and would like thank my runner Sidney Preator. I played even though I still had to wear a brace. It was also an opportunity to take some non-member friends of ours to hang out with our church members. Good times!

About Mary Gunn...
Luke 10: 25 - 37 - parable of the Good Samaritan
25 ¶ And, behold, a certain lawyer stood up, and tempted him, saying, Master, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?
26 He said unto him, What is written in the law? how readest thou?
27 And he answering said, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind; and thy neighbour as thyself.
28 And he said unto him, Thou hast answered right: this do, and thou shalt live
29 But he, willing to justify himself, said unto Jesus, And who is my neighbour?
30 And Jesus answering said, A certain man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among thieves, which stripped him of his raiment, and wounded him, and departed, leaving him half dead.
31 And by chance there came down a certain priest that way: and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side.
32 And likewise a Levite, when he was at the place, came and looked on him, and passed by on the other side.
33 But a certain Samaritan, as he journeyed, came where he was: and when he saw him, he had compassion on him,
34 And went to him, and bound up his wounds, pouring in oil and wine, and set him on his own beast, and brought him to an inn, and took care of him
35 And on the morrow when he departed, he took out two pence, and gave them to the host, and said unto him, Take care of him; and whatsoever thou spendest more, when I come again, I will repay thee.
36 Which now of these three, thinkest thou, was neighbour unto him that fell among the thieves?
37 And he said, He that shewed mercy on him. Then said Jesus unto him, Go, and do thou likewise
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There was an autistic boy maybe 7 yrs or so and he was running around at Downing Park by himself. He was playing alone in the dirt and had no shoes. Instead of ignoring him, Mary became very concerned and called the police after seeing him wander around the playground for about a half hour or so. She called the police after about an hour and gave him the bagels and juice Bro.Backer provided for our Ward outing and pushed him on the swing, until the police arrived with the boy's father following behind the squad car. The father seemed frantic and informed Mary he called the police after he noticed his son had went missing. This small act of kindness might not have seemed like a big deal at the time, but for the father of that little boy, it meant the world that someone cared enough to look after his son. It goes without saying how much we love and appreciate Mary Gunn in our home.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Thankful for Strict Parents

The 13th Article of Faith
We believe in being honest, true, chaste, benevolent, virtuous, and in doing good to all men; indeed, we may say that we follow the admonition of Paul-We believe all things, we hope all things, we have endured many things, and hope to be able to endure all things. If there is anything virtuous, lovely, or of good report or praiseworthy, we seek after these things.

I never had the cookie cutter, nice and wholesome Mormon lifestyle upbringing. For more than half of my life (so far), I was raised by my single mom and had other prominent relatives share in my upbringing; my uncle Nick, my aunt Aimee, my aunt Emily, my aunt Tali & uncle Tusi - the list goes on of the influences I had in my life. With the exception of my aunt Aimee and aunt Emily, everyone was pretty no non-sense. Everyone was pretty religious too. I had to be at church and church functions. It didn't matter what church, I just remember I had to be there. There were no exceptions.

My mom never spoiled me or enabled any of my bad behavior. If I got in trouble (which was very rare, lol) I had consequences. My mom always made sure I did something to amend the situation. She was stern and even at her lowest points in life, my mom always made sure I stayed in church and treated people with the utmost respect. Especially the people who I didn't feel deserved my kindness: the 'MEAN', the selfish, the self centered, the spoiled rotten, the whiners & complainers, people who feel the world revolves around them. As far as I'm concerned, the waste of life people. My mom, the queen of 'tell it like it is' wanted me to be respectful to these people. These were the same people who treated me like I was a nobody and spread false rumors. My mom went above and beyond in punishing me if I were ever to be rude or disrespect people and there wasn't anything I could do about it.

After graduating this year, both my parents tell me I am an adult who needs to make important choices about where I want to go with my life. I am encouraged daily to be a good person, involve myself unselfishly in the service of others and to look out for my future wife and children by adding only good things to advance my own life. Go to college and study hard. Attend Sacrament meeting and the Elders Quorum and take something away from each. Study your scriptures as well as your school books. Work hard and work two or three jobs if it keeps you from having idle hands. Be respectful. Prepare. Prepare. Prepare.

Part of my preparation is purging myself of things that have been wasteful in my life. Some of those things include bad habits, wasting time and more importantly wasteful people I might have considered friends or acquaintances at some point in my life. People and things that use to occupy my time with wasteful activities and stupid life drama that is self created. Even though my parents had me literally doing chore after chore, cooking, laundry, taking care of the lawn, washing the dishes, cleaning the entire house weekly, helping my sister do her homework, sending me out to help church members and neighbors in need - you name it, I had to do it, I know now, it really is for my own good. I will benefit from knowing how to do these things. I know these are values and good habits I will seek out in a wife as well.

I grew up in a home where you 'tell it like it is' and if people didn't want to hear your opinion, they shouldn't ask for it. I personally have never been that type of person and I probably won't ever be as straight forward as my mom, but it has finally sunk in that I have to look out for me. I am thankful that my mom does not waste her time gossiping and gives people the benefit of the doubt. These traits I am thankful that I have inherited from her. I am also thankful that both my parents are strict and have taught me that there are consequences for my actions EVERY TIME - good and bad. I actually had many people in my life (that includes family members) that have parents that enabled their pathetic and selfish behavior and wanted ME to be part of the 'world that revolves around them'. For the most part, I ignored what these people did, but not so much anymore. Now I just ignore them and wish them well on their own life journey. A fool learns the hard way and a smart person learns by the mistakes of others before them.

I am not the defender of right or the judge of morality. I do not claim to be innocent of the sins I speak of, but I am grateful that I grew up knowing that my free choices always have 'expected' outcomes. I was taught that my destiny is carved out by me and for me. I was taught to be strong through the most difficult circumstances and that if I fall, not to stay there, but to pick myself up and just keep it pushing. If my parents, especially my mom, didn't rule her house with a heavy hand, my circumstances would've been sad and pathetic. Although I didn't grow up in that 'wholesome' Mormon home with guaranteed FHE on Monday, daily scripture readings, attending all the Ward and Stake meetings and a bunch of other expected Mormon activities, I had a mom and family members who knew the importance of creating good habits and keeping me around good people to save me from years of headaches and heartaches. I am thankful for those hard knocks growing up because I still consider myself a nice guy even if there are kinks I am working on fixing.

I wanted to share something that was emailed to me and my parents some years ago but didn't really seem to matter until recently reading it over again. Now that I am headed to college, I GET IT! If you recognize yourself as a person who don't follow these life rules or enable someone who don't follow these life rules, you are probably a person I have parted ways with. There's no easy way to say GROW UP and take RESPONSIBILITY for your life choices but I think Bill Gates is right on the money with his lecture.

LIFE RULES
Bill Gates gave a speech at a High School about 11 things they did not and will not learn in school. He talks about how feel-good, politically correct teachings created a generation of kids with no concept of reality and how this concept set them up for failure in the real world.

Rule 1 : Life is not fair - get used to it!

Rule 2 : The world doesn't care about your self-esteem. The world will expect you to accomplish something BEFORE you feel good about yourself.

Rule 3 : You will NOT make $60,000 a year right out of high school. You won't be a vice-president with a car phone until you earn both.

Rule 4 : If you think your teacher is tough, wait till you get a boss.

Rule 5 : Flipping burgers is not beneath your dignity. Your Grandparents had a different word for burger flipping: they called it opportunity.

Rule 6 : If you mess up, it's not your parents' fault, so don't whine about your mistakes, learn from them.

Rule 7 : Before you were born, your parents weren't as boring as they are now. They got that way from paying your bills, cleaning your clothes and listening to you talk about how cool you thought you were. So before you save the rain forest from the parasites of your parent's generation, try delousing the closet in your own room.

Rule 8 : Your school may have done away with winners and losers, but life HAS NOT. In some schools, they have abolished failing grades and they'll give you as MANY TIMES as you want to get the right answer. This doesn't bear the slightest resemblance to ANYTHING in real life.

Rule 9 : Life is not divided into semesters. You don't get summers off and very few employers are interested in helping you FIND YOURSELF. Do that on your own time.

Rule 10 : Television is NOT real life. In real life people actually have to leave the coffee shop and go to jobs.

Rule 11 : Be nice to nerds. Chances are you'll end up working for one.

If you can read this -Thank a teacher! THANKS MOM!!!
If you can read this in English thank a soldier!!! THANKS DAD!!!

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Get Motivated

"Take the first step in faith. You don't have to see the whole staircase, just take the first step."
-Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

"Don't go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail."
-Ralph Waldo Emerson


Number One Speech
"Winning is not a sometime thing; it's an all the time thing.
You don't win once in a while; you don't do things right once in a while; you do them right all the time.
Winning is a habit. Unfortunately, so is losing. "
There is no room for second place. There is only one place in my game, and that's first place.
I have finished second twice in my time at Green Bay, and I don't ever want to finish second again.
There is a second place bowl game, but it is a game for losers played by losers.
It is and always has been an American zeal to be first in anything we do, and to win, and to win, and to win. "Every time a football player goes to ply his trade he's got to play from the ground up - from the soles of his feet right up to his head.
Every inch of him has to play. Some guys play with their heads. That's O.K.
You've got to be smart to be number one in any business.
But more importantly, you've got to play with your heart, with every fiber of your body.
If you're lucky enough to find a guy with a lot of head and a lot of heart, he's never going to come off the field second.
"Running a football team is no different than running any other kind of organization - an army, a political party or a business.
The principles are the same. The object is to win - to beat the other guy.
Maybe that sounds hard or cruel. I don't think it is.
"It is a reality of life that men are competitive and the most competitive games draw the most competitive men.
That's why they are there - to compete. To know the rules and objectives when they get in the game.
The object is to win fairly, squarely, by the rules - but to win.
"And in truth, I've never known a man worth his salt who in the long run, deep down in his heart, didn't appreciate the grind, the discipline.
There is something in good men that really yearns for discipline and the harsh reality of head to head combat. "I don't say these things because I believe in the 'brute' nature of man or that men must be brutalized to be combative.
I believe in God, and I believe in human decency.
But I firmly believe that any man's finest hour - his greatest fulfillment to all he holds dear - is that moment when he has to work his heart out in a good cause and he's exhausted on the field of battle - victorious."

-Vince Lombardi
1913 - 1970

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Working It Out - Week 1

I was inspired by a former pro football player, RM and musician from the Mana Poly All Stars, Setema Gali to start using these P90X DVDs to get myself together. His positive pep talks are pretty helpful. Luckily my good friend Carp's mother purchased the P90x DVD box set a while ago and I get to make use of it now. A little too expensive for me. Sadly, my method of going to the gym on the next block for a low impact work out and doing the lawn once a week and carrying wood logs to build backyard bonfires were not effective. My dad's daily threats to get to the gym didn't make a dent in my motivation either. Who knew?
My weight fluctuates 'like a woman' according to my dad, which is true. During football and rugby season, I kept my weight under 200lbs and stayed pretty active. After the sports seasons are done, the weight finds itself comfortably back to what I will refer to as my 'fat pockets'. I am by no means a shy kid. I believe Samoan people raise their kids to have no shame by being the first to make fun of their faults and get their kids to laugh at themselves. They are very hard on their own kids, at least that's how I was and am being raised and that's why it is not a big issue to put out these dreadful fatty pictures of myself and be truthful about the weight issues I'm having. My cousin Ferron and good friend Carp (Patrick Carpenter) are fighting the weight battle with me. Ferron is just working on getting defined, as the weight issues are not really his problem. It's good to have his support anyways.

Daily Motivation:
"The Word of Wisdom does not promise you perfect health, but it teaches how to keep the body you were born with in the best condition and your mind alert to delicate spiritual promptings."
-President Boyd K. Packer
Ensign, May 1996, Page 18

D&C 89: 18 -20
18 And all saints who remember to keep and do these sayings, walking in obedience to the commandments, shall receive health in their navel and marrow to their bones;
19 And shall find wisdom and great treasures of knowledge, even hidden treasures;
20 And shall run and not be weary, and shall walk and not faint.

This week's exercise plan:
P90x workouts, 60 miles on a bike (already at 25 miles), 3 days of weight training (2 hour work outs), light jogs (still getting the knee mended), maintain healthy eating & lifestyle

Week One: 5'8", 219.8 lbs, body fat 32% DREADFUL!
Me: Baby fat? hahaha ... Monday, 10 August 2009.
Me: back view - Gotta get rid of those child rearing hips according to my mama. hahaha... she's a weirdo.

Me: front view - Poochy tummy. My knee looks uneven after surgery from 3 weeks ago.
Me: side view - My lovely baby lumps. That's no good.
Ferron: His goals physically are to become more defined. He loves working out daily.
Ferron: back view - He plays rugby and wearing a mullet is fashionable, so I cut it that way for him. Go figure!
Ferron: front view - He always leans to the side because he has bad shins and heavy feet. Seriously.
Ferron: side view - no belly fat, right? I guess he wants a 12 pack.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Me, Myself and I

I was born and partially raised in Carson, CA. I lived there until I was 10 years old than I moved to Faleniu, American Samoa and lived there for over 3 years and moved my Freshman year in high school (2005) to live in Eagan, Minnesota. Between all that hopping around, I did brief stints of life in Utah, Arizona, Hawaii, Florida and Alaska. My dad is in the military, but I'm not a military brat. My mom moved around alot with the airlines and that's how we ended up moving to the Midwest. My family and I are still trying to take that in. Living in Minnesota has been different, to say the least. If I were a betting man, I would put money on the fact that our family's "tour of duty" does not end in Minnesota and that there are still more states we have yet to live in.

I am a recent graduate of Eagan HS, class of 2009 and have opted to stay home and do a year of college at Inver Hills Community College and continue to save money for my mission next year. My parents would've preferred I'd left the state and go to college elsewhere but I think in order to prepare for my mission, I'm where I need to be. My family attends Eagan Ward in Burnsville, MN where I am one of 4 Priests. My cousin Ferron who does live with me, is also a Priest. There is not a huge LDS membership in Minnesota because it is a strong Lutheran and Catholic state. I thought of attending the Young Adult Wards in either Lakeville or Dinky Town (University of Minnesota area) but neither of the Wards appeal to me. There aren't alot of Youth in our Ward and I believe my cousin Ferron and I are the only Young Adults in attendance there. We have a few Single Adults, but that's a different story. I was sure our former Bishop, Bishop Lee Burdge was going to be the man sending me off to the MTC , but we have had a "changing of the guard" and our YMs Teacher Advisor is now in charge, Bishop Brent Preator. It all seems like a fresh start for me.

Living in Eagan and attending church here has been a very different experience for me. I grew up in very diverse neighborhoods and attended very mixed schools and Wards. A couple of Samoan Wards as well. My neighborhood association has two Hmong families, 2 Indian families, a family from our Ward (The Barringers) and a few adopted Chinese girls and the rest are White families. Then there is our family: my father- Black and part Filipino and very laid back, my mom- VERY Samoan (and at times very ghetto) and working on not being so high strung, my cousin Ferron- who has a German last name that people in Minnesota barely know how to pronounce for some odd reason and maybe says about four whole sentences on his 'talkative' days , my sister Mina- who is half Black and who thinks she's my boss, my little brother Jaelen- who is being held hostage somewhere in the US and for legal reasons, I won't go into that story and then there's me, formally known as Marley Nicholas Webber, a last name I REFUSED to use anywhere and now I am finally and legally known by the name I have always used growing up, Marley Nicholas Sete.

If you guessed my name Marley came from the reggae superstar Bob Marley, you would've guessed correctly. My mom says his lyrics are peaceful and smart and that's how she ended up naming me after the legend. She was also doing activities of a 'less active' nature. It was a toss up between Marley and Lennon (after John Lennon). Nicholas is from my uncle Nick aka Q, who past in October 2006 and Sete, my mama's maiden name. From what I am told, I am the only one left on my mom's side using my grandfather's name Sete. I am the very last of my grandpa's lineage to use it, so that's kinda' cool for me because when I get married, my kids will have a very new start.

My biological father was born and raised in both Samoas but he was German and Irish. Yeah, I know, strange, but I was raised strictly Samoan and do not claim to be anything but that. I hung out with the man a few times but he is definitely not the role model for loving dads or law abiding citizens. We don't have any contact and I'm not sure we'll ever see each other again because neither of us are looking to find one another. He was never a member of the Church and from what I understand, it was an unhealthy relationship for both my mom and that man. So after some years of being in a non-productive union, they split.

My mom is old school Samoan mentally and is working on shaking the 'hood' out of her. She was raised in the projects and her most traumatic life experience happened while she was in Sacrament meeting. Apparently, her dad (my grandpa Sete Sete Jr) was giving a Mother's Day speech at Compton II Ward and he just started coming back to church after years of being inactive, starting a side family and partying way too much. He literally fell over and died in front of her, the rest of the family and a packed chapel and cultural hall of about 200 members. True story. I know that's the main reason why my mom struggled with attending church for years. Moms is educated and street smart.

Now, the story has done a complete turn around for our household aka 'Wildflower Manor' or 'Casa de McKinney' when were feeling south of the border. The only dad I have ever known, Nikia, and my mom surrendered to the family they have always wanted: The American Dream with the house, 2 1/2 cars (1/2 because we have a Saturn hoopty I'm about to inherit with my cousin Ferron), 3 kids minus the white picket fence and the dog. Apparently no one in our home is responsible enough to take care of a fence or dog. Were all we got out here in Minnesota and everywhere else for that matter. Dad, Mom, Mina and I were sealed as a family in the Minnesota St.Paul temple on October 13, 2007. As an LDS member, that bond is more important than any legal document that states we are a family. There were some members from our Ward that were there to witness the event without us knowing. It was a very thoughtful surprise. Some experiences I have had with certain Ward members were not so pleasant, but as the saying goes, "that which does not kill you, will only make you stronger." I am determined to be STRONGER this go around with our members.

That's my story in the condensed version. My goals now all lead to preparing myself to enter the Minnesota St.Paul temple as an Elder. I look forward to the privilege of turning in my papers to serve a mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter day Saints. Not every day will be easy. Some days might be more of a struggle than others, but good or bad, my parents want me to be 100% REAL and confront the issues that are obstacles in finding out what opportunities and adventures the Lord has in stored for me.

Luckily, I have strong and loving parents and family members, great friends outside and inside the church and a bunch of Priesthood holders who encourage me to find myself while in the service of the Lord. I am also mindful of the fact that my uncle Nick, who passed away without getting the chance to serve an earthly mission himself, would have LOVED to give me a great big hug at the MTC. I know this is one of the things I was meant to do in my life. I have had great role models in the Primary, Youth, Scout and Young Men leaders. The Stake Presidencies, the Bishoprics, the Seminary teachers, my Dad, a convert himself August 2006, the many Elders and Sister missionaries who have gone in Faith that have influenced my decision to follow the Prophet and go forth and serve. I am only but one person, who quite honestly doesn't have a big clue on who I am right now, but I do have a powerful testimony of the greatness of the Lord and my foundation of beliefs are built solid upon the teachings and principles of this church. I do know that by serving a mission, my life can only be blessed even more abundant because of my willingness to do the Lord's work.

I have many challenges. I have a few demons. I have several things I question about the church. I have several questions of why I was sent here and why I am in the family I am in. It is my hope that through my own preparation, that I not only find some answers I'm looking for, but that I can have an even closer relationship with my Heavenly Father.


"Proclaiming the gospel is not a part-time priesthood obligation. It is not simply an activity in which we engage for a limited time or an assignment we must complete as members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Rather, missionary work is a manifestation of our spiritual identity and heritage."

David A. Bednar
Oct. General Conference 2005