Wednesday, September 30, 2009

The Heart of the South Pacific

I lived in American Samoa through a couple of cyclones, high winds, high surfs and heavy rainfalls. There was plenty of damage and they pretty much shut down the airport for almost the entire Summer once because of the destruction "Mother Nature" caused.

I was absolutely stunned when I got pictures from relatives in Samoa and I can honestly say, I never saw that kind of destruction when I lived there. It's such a small place with over 65,000 people almost directly in the center of Hawaii and Australia. A small island where young kids can still run around in the villages and jungles without adult supervision. For the most part, you really do know everyone from your village.

The brunt of the damage in American Samoa happened in Pago Pago (the capital, town) in the East and Leone in the West (my grandfather's village). I know the Samoan people, young and old spent most of last night in prayer and villages and families organizing where they will start to help. It will probably take a longer time to recover from these earthquakes and tsunamis, but make no doubt about small countries that will rise stronger because of tragedy. I also know that when there is a huge disaster, the US government moves QUICKLY to send troops, FEMA and outside help from Hawaii. I watched the news last night and saw how quickly President Obama extended the same help our government always offers.

The church has already organized relief efforts on both islands. At last count, 8 members have been confirmed dead and two local sister missionaries in Tonga (that island borders Samoa) are missing. There were at least 6 confirmed deaths in the island of Tonga.

Tonight when you say your family prayers, please remember to include my people in both Samoas.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Please Just Listen

I have a music player on my blog. If you have some time while you're browsing the web or working on a hobby, please take the time to listen to the lyrics of the music I've posted. I am sure you will be truly moved.

You might be looking for love, inspiration, comfort, hope or peace today. I know these lyrics will help give you what you need.

Life gets so chaotic, sometimes we just need to take some time to listen.

Turn up the volume and enjoy!

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Kinda' Like A Pioneer

Growing up in the church, I was constantly reminded of the suffering of the Saints as they crossed our great nation in search of the promised land free from religious persecution. I was taught about the sacrifices they made by giving life and limb through rough terrain and voyaging through unknown elements to get to Utah. I even had the chance to travel the LDS 'handcart experience' in Iowa with the youth in my ward last year. I heard story after story of the suffering and the deaths along the way of this Mormon trail.

I can honestly say, growing up in a very diverse and rough neighborhood and watching people struggle daily to survive and then moving to Samoa, 'child labor' central (if you're Samoan, you would understand that), I was NOT impressed. I know of worse tales of suffering and struggles to lands unknown in America of people either by their own will or not of their own will such as, the Native Americans and the African Americans. I still think their journeys were the most difficult in the forming of our great country. The way I see it, the LDS pioneers made the decision to follow someone from there homes to go into the unknown in search of somewhere to bring up their religion. It has been proven scientifically that the human spirit will normally NOT go willingly into death, but fight it until one or the other prevails. With that being said, death along this Mormon trail was inevitable and was probably a consideration before heading West. That does NOT mean I do not know the pains and suffering of those particular Saints were in vain or meant any less tragic. As real as I mourn those who I have lost, I know the pain of the LDS pioneers were real and painful.

My great-grandparents were the first to be baptized into the church and even when my Primary teachers tried desperately to tell me they were the pioneers of my family, I wasn't buying it. Every time I hear someone say that now, after I mention my great-grandparents were the first to join the church from both their families, I laugh as I try to picture my great-grandparents in traditional Samoan wear sporting a bonnet and a 10 gallon hat; still NOT impressed and definitely don't see them that way.

Pioneer Day, now that was a different story growing up. I LOVE pioneer Day. I knew that was a Saturday I looked forward to every year growing up. In my old Stakes, we would go to a local park dressed as pioneers (or cowboys if you were Samoan - same thing, right?), eat a huge pancake and sausage breakfast, march in the Primary parade (my personal favorite), play games and cheer at the adult sports tournaments. When I was in Utah, the celebration was on a grand scale complete with fireworks and all kinds of sports events. Sort of like an unofficial State fair. I came to Minnesota, uhh, not so much of a celebration.

What I can relate to and respect about the LDS pioneers was the internal struggles and questions about Faith.
How much pure and complete Faith must a man have in his heart to follow a man who proclaimed himself to be THE Prophet of God?
How many tireless hours, days, weeks, months and years did the LDS Pioneers question their own sanity and prayed for signs from God to give them hope to carry on?
How many of these LDS Pioneers wavered in their beliefs and harbored anger towards our Heavenly Father after losing so much, even those they loved as they struggled on their journey?
How many of these LDS pioneers wanted to go back home and have their regular life back?
Could I be this faithful and follow a man who proclaimed himself to be the Prophet of this church?

Without a doubt, I can tell you I am that man today who follows the words of Thomas S. Monson and sustain the leaders in this church, but I am pretty sure I wouldn't have been that pioneer back then. I know Heavenly Father in His perfect timing, chooses people to be placed at the time He needs them to be who and what they must be. It is in knowing that, I am comforted and humbled that my time has come to make my own sacrifice and go do the Lord's work and become kinda' like a pioneer in my own family.

I will be the first one to serve a mission in my family.
I will be the first and only Samoan Sete to date that has ever served an LDS mission. I say that because my sister and I are the last of my grandfather's lineage to carry the Sete last name that are Mormon. My grandfather's family are all devout Catholics.
I will be the first grandchild from both sets of grandparents to serve a mission.
I guess in that sense I can finally relate with the first LDS pioneers. I can finally say, I have a way to appreciate the LDS Pioneers trail as part of the Lord's Master plan.

*On a side note, I want to share something from a wonderful missionary, Sister Clark:

"Ou te iloa o soifua Iesu Keriso ma e alofa o ia ua ta toe. Ou te iloa o Iesu Keriso ole ulu o le talalelei. Ma ta'ita'i i ta tou e ala mai i Perofeta. Ou te alofa ile talalelei ma e tele fa'amanuiaga i maua mai ai."

My family and I were so touched not only by her words, willingness to serve a mission and her testimony, we are moved by Sister Clark, because she always chooses to be selfless and show people the utmost respect. We really do love and miss you.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Big Occasions

I think I am going to use this post as an opportunity to speak of some very important dates and big occasions that are happening for me before my work schedule picks up and my school studies get hectic. I am taking time to appreciate these big occasions in my life.

179th Semi-Annual General Conference - Oct 3 & 4, 2009
This month's theme at church is "Come Listen To The Prophet's Voice". The speakers gave several examples of how to prepare yourself and your family for General Conference. I like the idea of setting up traditions of things to do for that big weekend. I particularly liked the tailgating tradition that Bro.Christiansen never got to finish talking about for some strange reason and the special breakfast Sis.Manzella talked about. Ok, I'm Samoan, so talks of good food traditions are more than likely going to get my attention in Sacrament. I think I'm going to be vocal about the tailgating festivity in my house.

3rd Anniversary of my Uncle Nick's passing - Oct 14, 2006
I know the saying "time heals everything" is not that accurate. I don't know if it ever starts to hurt any less when you lose someone you love so much. I find that you start to loose the ones you love in fragments. Like for me with my Uncle Nick, it started with the daily phone calls and just listening to me: that stopped abruptly. Then the Holidays and my childhood Summers were spent riding around with him in his truck blasting music, enjoying backyard barbecues, our hilarious gift exchanges and then we'd watch sports: EVERYDAY and all day if my Uncle Nick didn't have to work. You name the sport, he'd have their stats and pretty much predict who was going to win what and be 98% accurate. I miss learning the mechanics of sports. I miss hearing the play by plays.

I miss my uncle getting everyone of my food orders right on the money with what I want on my food and all the things the cook can omit. My mom gave birth to me and still thinks I can take out all the stuff I don't want on my burger myself and my dad loves football but he's no sports statistician. I miss the details I got from my uncle. Daily, I miss those little things about him. I guess every year I'll start to notice more of the things I miss about not having my uncle around, but I believe in the Plan of Salvation and I believe in Exaltation. I also know what I have been blessed with because of having such a great influence in my life.

I hope in heaven Uncle Nick, you are too busy doing good things and not spending all your time "looking down" on me and everyone else you love. Every time someone says a loved one that passed away is "looking down" on us, I picture you and a billion other people watching a humongous flat screen watching the people on earth as if we are reality t.v. characters. I do love and miss my Uncle Nick deeply but I'm sure Heavenly Father has more important tasks for him that don't include just sitting around watching 'Earth TV'. Well, with the exception of football of course, lol.

2nd Anniversary of our family being sealed - Oct 13, 2007
Had it not been for my uncle's death, my parents would have been content in being completely complacent with there so-so affiliation and association with the church. They were fine with being members and having "some" religion in the home. I am happy to say that since my uncle's passing, my family has grown closer and being separated from everything and everyone we grew up with, has turned out to be a blessing in disguise. I credit my Uncle Nick for our family finding the "iron rod" again and even if for some odd reason we let go of it, our family won't lose sight of it ever again. I look forward to my family gathering again at the sealing of me and my eternal mate.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Best Two Years Of My Life

Why does almost every return missionary say that in their homecoming speech, "My mission was the BEST two years of my life". I am still trying to figure that one out. While I, like many prospective missionaries know there will be unbelievable benefits to serving a two year mission, in my opinion, unless I have a very short life, I don't think my mission years will be the BEST two years of my life.

Is it really the BEST two years or is that one of those LDS things some member said back in the day and now we just keep saying it? This phrase is usually mentioned by RMs during their "non-homecoming" speech during Sacrament meeting when he returns. I know that serving a mission is a time where not only am I "doing the Lord's work" and a time in my life when "I am closest to God", but I am also human and from my humble perspective, living and going everywhere with someone of the same sex only a "whisper" away from me, having almost no contact with my family and closest friends, crushing pavement and logging bike miles daily, waking up early and facing daily rejection from complete strangers and maybe a few members as well ... um, yeah, two years I wouldn't really categorize as the BEST two years of my life personally.

At a young age, I think I have had some really awesome years. Not everyone of them were great, but I can think of a few amazing years I had as a kid. I also look forward to the rest of my college years and the people and experiences those years will bring me after I return from serving a mission. I also believe I am a romantic guy at heart. I would like to think I will have at least two amazing years with my future wife. Then when I have some kids, would the first two years of having my first child count as a BEST situation as well?

For the Sister Missionaries, I think it's fair to say that women have so many moments and years they find special or would deem them to be the BEST years of their lives. Let's face it, don't most girls already have their ideal husband, wedding, marriage and children's lives planned out before those things even come to light or reality sets in? lol. In that sense, Return Sister Missionaries must have more than the BEST two years of their life ahead of them as well.

Realistically speaking, when I look at the bigger picture of what I perceive as the Lord's plan for my future, I like to think of a mission calling as two of the BEST years of preparing myself for REAL adulthood. When discussing this very topic during a family briefing, it made alot of sense that this is the best way for LDS families to prepare their children to make thoughtful decisions about their future. Character, college, selecting an eternal mate, career, building a foundation for their own children, all these important decisions can be made wisely with the training you learned while on your mission. Prayer, fasting, the ability to stay positive and committed to the task at hand no matter what type of adversity you're faced with; all intensified training you learn while removed from all the things you are familiar with. You learn how to depend on the Lord and to listen for that still small voice for guidance.

The mission being the BEST two years for me, probably not. I am positive it will make two of quite a few GREAT years in my life. I am even further convinced the two mission years will crack my top ten BEST in my life's milestones.

Monday, September 14, 2009

What the Heck?!?!

This month's public MELTDOWNS. A few reasons why I say cooler heads and thoughtful words will always prevail. Everyone has their 'moments' but when you are in the public eye and very much a public figure, the same way these public figures want us to listen to them and share in their 'genius', they are held to a higher standard of behavior. No one is perfect, but to be blatantly disrespectful, so NOT classy.

South Carolina Rep. Joe Wilson, heckler
This guy definitely has NO CLASS and is an embarrassment and doesn't leave me questioning how deep his prejudices run against immigrants, as his record reflects it. When is it ever Ok in our country to disrespect our President in Congress and on national television? The answer is NEVER! Why didn't the guy just take off his shoe like he was from the Middle East and throw it at President Obama's head the way another heckler disrespected our former President George W. Bush?

I am an admitted Obama supporter and could care less about ANY of the major political parties, but I will say this about the health care plan; in my personal opinion, people should NOT have to go broke trying to pay medical bills. No matter how the health care in our great country spiraled out of control, something has to be done NOW. I'm sure the plan has its flaws but instead of politics as usual, why doesn't everyone in government work hard to fix the flaws instead of wasting time opposing the plan? Health care in the U.S. has gone badly for too many years and moves must be made to implement action. You are either part of the problem or part of the solution.

I would never feel "fired up" enough to ever disrespect a leader of ANYTHING I'm involved with, especially not our President of the United States. In the United States, we do things democratically even though politics do get in the way. We vote, we have meetings, debates and discussions, we protest peacefully, we write letters, we voice our opinions and if you have ANY class, you do these things in a direct and respectful manner. Joe Wilson, you are a bone head and need to stop wearing your ignorance openly!

Serena Williams, tennis great at the U.S. Open
I love tennis. I love a good a rags to riches story. Although I agree with Serena that the foot foul called by the official was wrong, I actually cringed at her outburst. A little much to say the least. I don't know what led up to Serena Williams completely losing all her marbles and unleashing the 'hood' on the official that clearly looked intimidated because of Serena's threat. It was an international broadcast. Serena Williams, have you fell off your rocker? Have you completely lost your ever lovin' mind? You are not only a tennis great, you are a hero to many. Compose yourself and get it together. Your outburst was embarrassing and uncalled for!

Kanye West, hip hop artist at the MTV Video Music Awards
Believe it or not, the entire world does NOT revolve around you and everything you think matters. While I do agree with Kanye that Beyonce's video should have won for being the very best video put out this year, female or male, punking a kid? So low class Mr.West! This is NOT the first disrespectful outburst from Kanye West and as long as he is in the public eye, I doubt it will be the last. Taylor Swift is a very generic artist to me and although I would never buy any of her CD's right now, she is a 19 year old artist that sings songs many young kids identify with and absolutely love. My little sister being one of them. She has room to grow and maybe one day I will purchase future recordings from her.

Kanye West bullied a wonderfully talented teenage music artist during HER moment to shine! What was worse is that you did it on the very first award handed out. Even though you were obnoxiously RUDE, thank goodness in the end, Beyonce, who is always a class act, gave up her time for her acceptance speech, so that Taylor Swift could finish her speech. Even Beyonce could relate to Taylor Swift and knew it was a moment that needed to be celebrated. I am a Kanye West fan but his arrogance is slowly starting to overshadow my like of any of the music he records. Shame on you Kanye West! He definitely needs to learn humility!

Jennifer Aniston, sometime actress
What is the big fascination with this woman? Was it the "Friends" thing? I watched a few episodes of Friends and I was bored. Not only was I bored, I obviously don't relate to any of what that show was about. Sitting around drinking coffee with your friends all day and working part time jobs sporadically to pay rent in a huge New York apartment in Manhattan??? Right, right. That could happen. NOT! I have also watched her in a few movies and still, she managed to bore me. I have heard it said that the most interesting thing about Jennifer Aniston is that she used to be married to Brad Pitt. I would have to agree with that fact. She is so BORING!!!! Why is a woman so dull being forced on the public all the time? Anything with Jennifer Aniston = overwhelming BOREDOM!

Jon and Kate Gosselin, reality television parents with eight kids
Who cares who you are? Who cares who either of you date? I know many Mormon and non-Mormon families that raise eight kids or more and I am wondering why they are even relevant in today's society. Have your kids do whatever they do to earn you both a paycheck and get on with your day. I am sick of seeing you nobodies all over everything. By the way, who is watching your eight kids while you're out living "your" lives? I wasn't aware parents got to take breaks and vacations or do talk shows and interviews proclaiming what great parents they are. Please television executives, do not renew the Gosselin contract so the parents can focus on raising their eight children.

CROCS, the plastic slipper-shoe
Grown folks wear them. Kids wear them. Somewhere in between that, are the people who still care about fashion and keeping some of their cool points. Please America, stop the madness and get rid of these shoes. Just say NO! My parents have lost many cool points by wearing these hideous shoes everywhere. I am thankful they have not tortured my younger sister by buying her a pair or several matching pairs for her outfits. When I was a little kid, I was forced to wear muscle pants of all colors. In the early 90's, I am told they were the trendy item and all the rage. I apparently had these nifty trendsetting muscle pants in a plethora of colors and wore them with matching bright tops. When I plead with my parents to stop trying to be trendy and get rid of their atrocious loafers, they inform me they only wear them because they have 'messed up' feet. Huh?! Someone start a new shoe that is decent looking to wear for people with messed up feet.

Thursday, September 10, 2009


September 11, 2001 - New York

I was 10 years old living in Carson, CA. It was really early in the morning and I was getting up to get ready for school. I remember my mom's cell phone was ringing like crazy, then the house phone started to ring non-stop. She had just gotten home from work a couple of hours earlier and after maybe 30 mins of all the phones ringing, she finally picked up her cell and then told me to turn on the t.v. I remember her walking to the bedroom closet and shuffling through some things and then I recognized the sound of clips being snapped into some guns she owned. Mom said I wasn't going to school and she grabbed my almost 19 month old sister from where she was sleeping and we watched the Twin Towers burning on t.v.

My mom tried frantically to call and text her friends in New York that lived and worked in that area. Only to get a message -busy connections. I am sure most parents would've discouraged their children to leave the room as they watched the horrific scene on t.v., but that wasn't my mother. I remember being stunned by the live coverage of the attacks in New York. I remember vividly the images of the second plane crashing right into one of the towers. I remember my mom turning it to the Spanish television networks and feeling astounded watching people jump out of windows because of the intense fire. Then the buildings literally came crashing down. All of these scenes were playing out LIVE on t.v. It was bananas! I ended up staying home from school for the rest of the week, my mom found out that weekend she had lost two friends to the attacks and there was a whole new way of security in the United States and I knew then from listening to a bunch of adults talking, the United States would be going to war to avenge these American deaths.

I have since thought about all the things I learned about 9/11 over the past 8 years. I have been taught that the coordinated series of attacks were committed by Al Qaeda terrorists. I have heard of conspiracy theories about 9/11 being an "inside job". I grew up in a time of war because of it in our country and don't know what it would feel like to turn on the t.v. and not see soldiers deploying or know of the daily events and attacks in the Middle East. I have since been to New York and seen the Twin Tower site.

I do not know all the facts about September 11. I know that during that period of American history, I know what fears I felt. I also remember feeling extremely safe as well, knowing my mom would never let anyone attack our family without a fight to the death. I know that many people died unnecessarily because of a difference of opinions. I know it's not that simple and many might say it's a complicated situation, but in the end, when it ends up in war, usually it's because people are too prideful to sit down and compromise on a difference of opinions.

All over the United States, "We will always remember" became the slogan associated with 9/11. I don't think it would be possible for me to forget such shocking images or the way I felt. Because of 9/11, I learned that in this country, my freedoms are protected by brave people who are willing to lay down their own life so I can live mine. I learned that a regular person doing their everyday job can instantly become an uncommon hero - a fireman, a cop, a soldier and a passenger on a flight. I learned how the human spirit will hang on to incredible hope and try by every means to bring home loved ones even when there is no possibility of that happening. I saw a country come together to donate blood by the masses and watched everyday people drive to New York just to see how they could help. I learned that regardless of what a person's political affiliations are, the Presidency in the United States and the tough decisions this Office has to make are in the best interests of the American people and those decisions must be respected.

I will always remember 9/11 because it has influenced much of how I see our country. 9/11 was really the first time I learned to appreciate this great country I live in and just how many good people live in it. I will always remember.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Happy Labor Day 2009

The first Monday in September is a creation of the labor movement and is dedicated to the social and economic achievements of American workers. It has evolved from a purely labor union celebration into a general "last fling of summer" festival.

Tomorrow is the first day of school for many of our school districts in Minnesota, so all you stay at home yet still working for free moms can take a bit of a breather for atleast an hour.

I got the day off. I mowed a lawn for a sweet couple in our ward. I got to hang out at the ward picnic at Blackhawk Park. What a turn out! I didn't take pictures but I am sure someone did. Bro.Backer and his committee hooked up the games and food for everyone. I would say it was one of the best times this ward has had together in a while. I got the opportunity to bring some non-member friends and showed them Mormons are very normal folks. I played some volleyball and played some music ... another excellent job by the Activities crew!

I came home and played some more music while hosting an impromptu bonfire with some good people ... I would say it was a very good day. Here's hoping everyone enjoyed their day.

Happy Labor Day for tomorrow it's back to work for many of us!

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Called To Serve

my baby sister CTR 9 Mattea Salamina Sete
Eagan Ward Primary - Summer 2009
Jessica, Mina and Nater building marshmallow temples

Today I was given my first calling as an 'adult' leader. I am the new teacher to the CTR 9 class. STOKED! Funny thing about that is I still consider myself to be a kid. I have my moments and know when times are appropriate and call for complete maturity. I believe this calling was granted me for a few different reasons. I am sure the Lord knows that it will be a great building tool as I prepare for my mission. I also thought long and hard if I should even post my thoughts on another reason I strongly felt I was called to be the teacher for the CTR 9.

I honestly believe another reason I was called to teach the CTR 9 class is because my favorite sister in the entire universe is in that class. Ok, I only have one sister and even though she's bossy and acts up with me sometimes, I had a major part in her upbringing. I couldn't imagine my world with out my sister Mattea Salamina Sete or better known to everyone as "Mina". When she was born, I was the second person after my mom to hold her and tell her how much I loved her. I was and still am thankful she entered my life. I believe in private, she is just like my mom; quirky, funny, decisive and extremely direct. Around people, she is alot like my dad; reserved, athletic, soft spoken and humble. To say that my sister is a very important part of my life is absolutely an understatement. I have always felt compelled to protect my baby sister and until now, I have always done that, silently.

I have never been confrontational. I do not talk back to my elders and I try to show everyone the utmost respect regardless of how people treat me. I was raised to do the right thing even if it was not my first plan of action. I am far from perfect and I continue to work on improving those areas within me that I know are somewhat challenged. After long and quiet consideration this afternoon, I feel compelled to write of this very sensitive matter. Fast, search, ponder and pray. With that being said, I know I must deal with one of the demons that I need to address before a mission could be served honestly.

There will be many great opportunities that will assist me in my progress along my way towards my actual mission calling, but the adversary will work just as hard to make sure that I won't fulfill that goal. If I am unsure that my actions will help me with my goals, I feel I am completely within my rights to choose a course that will. Today those actions included a fast and like the lyrics of a Primary song, I searched, pondered and prayed. This will be my guide in addressing a confusing and shameful situation. I say shameful not for me or my family, but because in an era where I believe we as a people in the United States have evolved as more intelligent from the lessons of our past, there are still stragglers that are too afraid to learn and teach the principles of true love and tolerance. What you have left to give are ignorance and false fears. Let me first pass on this statement:

"When we believe or say we have been offended, we usually mean we feel insulted, mistreated, snubbed, or disrespected. And certainly clumsy, embarrassing, unprincipled, and mean-spirited things do occur in our interactions with other people that would allow us to take offense. However, it ultimately is impossible for another person to offend you or to offend me. Indeed, believing that another person offended us is fundamentally false. To be offended is a choice we make; it is not a condition inflicted or imposed upon us by someone or something else."

-Elder David A. Bednar
Ensign, November 2006

For quite sometime, I along with my family went 'less active' in our ward for months. We harbored feelings of anger and disgust towards a few members in our ward for not only the way they treated us, but the actual words said. More specifically, words said to my father and my sister confirming that we attended church with a few bigots. It was awful how my father and sister were blatantly treated by these members. My mom, my cousins and I were treated 'not so nice' as well, but instead of my parents acting out their first plan of action, we quietly stopped coming to church. It was easier than trying to stop my mother from confronting and possibly clobbering the mess out of certain members in our ward. The words were not only unkind but IGNORANT! In case someone missed that, members that let such evil fall from their lips, YOUR WORDS AND ACTIONS ARE IGNORANT!

My father and sister are African American (2 of the 3 African Americans in our ward) and my mother, my cousins and myself are proud Samoans (one of the two Samoan families in our ward). My sister Mina is the only African American in our ward's Primary. We love everything about who we are from our traditional upbringings to the color of our dark skin. Needless to say, in the States, the majority of members in the LDS faith are Caucasian. For many years and even now, my family have been accused of being prejudice against Black people because of our religion. Many Black people have accused my father of being a sell out and an Uncle Tom in the Black community because he chooses to practice in his faith. Can you imagine what we feel like to be accused of being in a prejudice church and we are the minorities there? Now can you imagine us showing up to a faith we believe to be the one true restored gospel on earth and getting treated equally as bad by a few members? We are not ashamed of who we are and I no longer wish to have my sister cry about not wanting to go to Primary because she is told "I don't like you because you're Black" or "Why is that Black girl in our Primary?"- in those EXACT words. I can assure all people both inside and outside of our church, I will NOT tolerate ignorance or bigotry and I will never be silent should someone try to make my family feel less than, because those people are inferior and do not know what it takes to be a decent human being.

If it is a church member's choice to make ignorant statements aloud, especially to my family members, be assured my family will NOT be offended but will make the free choice to address these members accordingly from now on. I have stood silently about this topic that is like some embarrassing secret and because I watched my sister cry again this Sunday about not wanting to be in "that" church, HER church, I must speak on this now. Know that if ANYONE feels the need to try and offend my baby sister (or my family) again and make her another church statistic of complete inactivity, I WILL feel the need to defend her (and my family) and hopefully I will be in tuned enough with the Holy Spirit to choose my words wisely. I am human and when it comes to my family, I just might fall short of the 'wisely' part.

I believe in free speech. I believe in being straight forward and being direct. I believe in 'calling a spade a spade' even though it is very rare I use that method myself. I believe there is a thoughtful way to get your point across. I believe cooler minds and thoughtful words prevail in the long run. I believe the impression you leave with people of you should be one of happiness, kindness and honesty.

I do NOT believe that saying crude things are in the best interest of anyone. I do NOT believe it is a trait of a good LDS member to speak aloud such moronic thoughts so freely. A decent human being never speaks to be hurtful. I believe hatred and ignorance are taught. I believe if ignorant behaviors are not addressed, they fester and grow and will be passed on to future generations. I do NOT believe that being deliberately hateful and hurtful are Christ like traits. At this point in my life, I am not yet mature enough to want to feel sad for those that are bigots or just plain ignorant and dishonest.

In a few weeks, we will be holding a world wide General Conference. I pose a challenge to the members in our church that during these meetings, be the kind of member that secure the teachings and the true meanings of the lessons taught by those who preside over our faith. Learn to embody the teachings of Christ our Savior and of our living Prophet, Thomas S. Monson. Resist from being that 'display only' type of member that knows all the right scriptures to quote, or shows up every Sunday ready with the perfect prayer and speaks with only the small circle or clique of friends that have the 'perfect credentials', but extend yourself and be a humbled member of this church that assuredly knows how to love everyone and observe past your own angst. Be about what you say your about. I don't know that the commandment to 'Love One Another' was ever amended to include the thought of 'especially those who look and act just like you'.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Music and Me

Wherever you want to go, have you noticed how music can take you there? Everywhere you need to be, everything you feel, everything you want to express can be conveyed through the universal language of music. I was fortunate enough to be raised appreciating all types of music. I love meaningful lyrics. I love music with no lyrics at all. Even without a single lyric, music can stir your soul. I am charmed by the sounds of many types of world music. I believe music is one of the gifts that can enhance and persuade your emotions.

People identify music with different phases of their life. I never grew up in the hey day era of Elvis or The Beatles, but listening to their music now, I can appreciate it. I did grow up listening to Michael Jackson and even at a very young age, I knew I was a lifelong fan. I do believe it is that powerful and I'm thankful for it.

One good thing about music, when it hits you
Feel no pain.
So hit me with music, hit me with music.
Hit me with music, hit me with music now.

-Bob Marley

We've been together for such a long time now,
Music and me.
Don't care whether all our songs rhyme now,
Music and me.

I know where ever I go,
We're as close as two friends can be.
There have been others,
But never two lovers like music,
Music and me.

Grab a song and come along,
You can sing your melody.
In your mind you will find,
A world of sweet harmony.

Birds of a feather,
Will fly together.
Now with music, music and me,
Music and me

-Michael Jackson

Friday, September 4, 2009

I Don't Qualify? Really?

Procrastination WAS my thing for the past few years. It got me into a college that obviously was not my first choice. It made sure I turned in the rest of my Seminary assignments weeks after I was done and graduated from high school. It gave me probably the worst musical performance of my high school existence . Oh yeah, that Prom performance was broadcast on public television, so plenty of good laughs for hours on end this summer. Thank goodness even cable has a time line they have to follow and that wretched taped performance will vanish into a box in a dark closet somewhere in a tiny storage area where the only threat of it showing up would be if I ever became a famous artist or celebrity of some sort. I am positive only then will some random kid I attended high school with produce the DVD and claim to be one of my yesteryear best friends, sell it to every news media outlet for financial gain. Fat chance that will ever happen, but you never know, right?

I seemed to have digressed from my original point about procrastination, my bad. I was given a 'stern lecture' (and I am being really POLITE on how I said that) about filing for financial aid or what we college kids refer to as "spending loot". Of course as luck would have it, yet another one of my parent's 'stern lectures' went in one ear, right out the other. I sat on it and waited until last week. Then came the threat of having to pay rent if my grades fell anywhere below a B average. The goal would obviously be to carry straight A's in my full time load, but my parent's showed me some mercy and said a B would be sufficient since I was preparing to leave after this school year. I nagged my dad a few times to help me prepare my FAFSA (you can google that if your lost, lol) and I hurried back to the school counselor to turn everything in. They say it will be three to four days before I hear anything.

Yesterday the FAFSA report came in the mail. Images of a shiny new guitar and a custom uke like I always wanted started to flood my thoughts. Oh how much spending loot was Mr.Sete entitled to? I'm a pretty decent guy. I'm polite and I work hard at my job and at home. I'm a good son and brother most of the time. I deserve a few trinkets for being decent.

My mom opened the letter and read aloud I qualified for figures in the thousands ... Meanwhile, I'm thinking in my head, "wait for it ... wait for it. Thousands? ... SCORE!" ... then she says very disappointed "in loans."
"You qualify for loans. You qualify for thousands in loans. Not even a stinkin' Pell grant? What the heck? Are these people nuts? A loan? What is that?"
Needless to say moms was NOT a happy camper. I think she went into shock.
"This can't be right. You have always qualified. I don't believe this."
I know my mama well and I knew these next few sentences would soon follow,
"Why son? Why didn't you finish applying for the scholarships I asked you to fill out? If you would have filled out the scholarships we would not be in this predicament now. You need to talk to someone at your school and see why you don't qualify for a grant."

My mom could not wrap her mind around what she had just read in the letter. At this point my dad is already toiling away on his laptop doing his homework. He's doing online college classes for a different degree in computer stuff. He looked puzzled as to why my mom was upset. My dad grew up with a 'silver spoon' I guess and doesn't understand my mom's 'plastic spoon' mentality most of the time. My mom told me to jump on the computer and check to see if 'they' made a mistake.
"Hurry up son. Do it now".
I guess if I moved fast enough, the results were sure to be different in the computer, lol. I log on and the results are exactly what the FAFSA letter says. The same amounts. Still loans.

I guess when I go to my lab session tonight I will have to see why I didn't qualify for even a Pell Grant. I see three bright and glorious silver linings from my college career thus far;
First, procrastination is NEVER a good thing even if I keep saying "I have my own perfect timing."
Second, I aced my first college math test last night, so Yipee for me!
Third, it's official now mom. **sounds of bells and noisemakers** WE ARE NOW MIDDLE CLASS! Even if it's only on paper, the United States government gave me an official document that says it in black and white. You make too much money! Thank you, thank you, thank you to this noble institute of higher learning for printing the words I thought I would never live to see on a financial document from a school with my name next to it I 'DO NOT QUALIFY'!

We're not rich but we're not broke like we use to be. Yessir! **sings in celebration** (sing with me if you know the tune)
"Well, we're movin' on up , movin' on up
To the east side, movin' on up
To a deluxe apartment in the sky
Movin' on up, movin' on up
To the east side
We finally got a piece of the pie

Fish don't fry in the kitchen
Beans don't burn on the grill
Took a whole lotta tryin'
Just to get up that hill
Now we're up in the big leagues
Gettin' our turn at bat,
As long as we live, it's you and me baby
There ain't nothin' wrong with that ..."

I think I'm going to frame that letter for my parents and one day they will get to hang a copy of my degree next to it.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009


President Brigham Young once compared being offended to a poisonous snakebite. He said that “there are two courses of action to follow when one is bitten by a rattlesnake. One may, in anger, fear, or vengefulness, pursue the creature and kill it. Or he may make full haste to get the venom out of his system.” He said, “If we pursue the latter course we will likely survive, but if we attempt to follow the former, we may not be around long enough to finish it.”

I have a great family. Life is good in Minnesota. It's good to be done with the past. It's alright to let go of what you once thought was important and those you once thought mattered. Forgiveness for me right now means letting go. It's a wonderful gift to myself.

When Does This Become Useful?!

Math Problem...
Surface Area of a cylinder = 2*pi*radius^2+2*pi*radius*height
Volume of the cylinder = 300cm^3 or pi*radius^2*height
How do i find the least possible values for the radius and height of the cylinder?

What am I trying to minimize, the surface area?
The radius and height are inversely related (by your constraint: height = volume / (pi * radius^2)) so I can't minimize them both. In fact, I could let the radius go to zero and the height go to infinity and still have a finite volume (in the limit). The same applies for zero height and infinite radius in the limit. Assume that I'm trying to minimize the surface area.

The trick is to express what I'm trying to minimize in terms of a single variable.
Let S = surface area, V = volume, r = radius, h = height. So:

S = 2 * pi * r^2 + 2 * pi * r * h
V = pi * r^2 * h = 300

Let's put S in terms of r by eliminating h:

h = 300 / (pi * r^2)

  • S = 2 * pi * r^2 + 2 * pi * r * 300 / (pi * r^2) = 2 * pi * r^2 + 600 / r
  • Now S is just a function of r which you can minimize in the usual way:
    dS/dr = 0, solve for r. With r you can then find h and S.
Is that right?! Anyone? Anyone?

Advanced Biology...
How does a water strider walk on water?
How does a bat navigate through a cave or stay warm at night?
How does a bumble bee fly? How does a gecko walk on the ceiling?
How does a tree draw water up to its highest leaves?
How do nutrients pass through the walls of a cell?
What determines the form of a given species?
The fact that all biology problems pertain to life is secondary to the application of physics for the purpose of solving them. Understanding physics properties, and in particular understanding how size determines which physics properties are most relevant, is the key to answering the majority of biology questions.

I think somewhere in the "REAL" world I will need this stuff. Or at least that's what I'm being brainwashed to believe. Between school, homework, jobs, church commitments, working out, coaching, chores, social commitments, blah blah blah blah blah ...supposedly LIFE is happening.

Oh right, right. lol.