Monday, December 26, 2011

Have Yourself...a Sick Little Christmas

A funny thing happened this week. I came under the weather for most of the week. On Tuesday I started noticing that I had a sore throat. Wednesday morning it had traveled to my sinuses and my chest. Needless to say I spent a lot of time in bed. I still went out and kept each of our appointments so we were able to have a productive week and help our investigators continue to progress. The funny thing? The week was still productive! On Tuesday we found a YSA who has been attending Church for months and wants to be baptized on January 7th. On Saturday we knocked on a door and found a family who is interested in coming back to Church. All three of their daughters are preparing to be baptized on January 21st. For a week where I spent most of my time in bed...that's pretty good!

It seems like ages ago, but we also had a baptism on Monday night. We should have one each week for the next month. Nothing keeps the motivation high than seeing the fruits of our labors.

Christmas was a blast. It started Christmas Eve with a Mission Conference where we received gifts from the mission, packages from home and letters from our parents. Let me just say that I am sufficiently stocked on toothpaste and toothbrushes until at least next Christmas! On Sunday we started the day by calling home and then attended a short Sacrament meeting. For the rest of the day we visited with members from our old areas. It was great to be able to catch up with familiar faces and see how their families are doing. I value each of the people I have met on the mission and don't know how I'll ever be able to keep in touch with them all until after my mission!

Now it's onto New Years! We will also be having a New Years Eve Conference with Elder Nelson of the Twelve. That will be another great opportunity to hear inspired words and of course catch up with good friends.

Happy New Year!

Elder Bolling

Monday, December 19, 2011

Merry Christmas

Christmas is a very special time. Coincidentally enough I've never really been into the whole "Christmas craziness". As a missionary in Utah, however, you get it more than most. Not to mention Christmas songs have been playing in our car nonstop since the end of November. (It's the closest I'm getting to pop music until 2013!) I've found myself really getting into the spirit of the holiday.

Maybe it's the fact that I'm focusing my time completely on the Savior. Maybe it's because Sara sends me Christmas gifts for every day of the week. Maybe it's because I'm listening to too much Christmas music. Whatever the reason - I'm enjoying Christmas. More importantly, I'm enjoying the real reason for Christmas. The Savior Jesus Christ gave us so much when he came into this world. He did not have to take upon himself the burdens of each of us. He didn't have to complete the atonement. But he did. He did it because he and Heavenly Father love each of us perfectly and individually. Christmas is a time of hope. Yes, we hope because we get to be around friends and family. The best hope, however, comes as we turn our lives towards the example that Jesus Christ set.

This week I've been able to see that. We have two YSA's who are preparing to be baptized. Both of them are not having an easy time breaking that news to their parents. They have decided in their hearts and minds that they know the Church of Jesus Christ is true and are pressing forward. Miracles are happening in their lives as they continue their journey towards eternal life. It's amazing to see - and Christ gave us that opportunity!

We're also continuing to have lots of success in our zone. We have very good missionaries in the Sandy zone and it has made my role as a zone leader very enjoyable. As Christmas approaches, I am grateful for the opportunity to do my best and serve them and hopefully help them find more success in their mission.

Elder Bolling






Monday, December 12, 2011

A crazy week!

This week I was broken into life as a zone leader as if that hadn't happened already. On Tuesday we received a call from an Elder who was having sharp stomach pains. We drove him to the emergency room and one of us had to stay with him for the next three days. The other person went with his companion on an impromptu three day exchange. We actually got to sleep at 10:00pm once after all of the driving, checking up, and grabbing clothes was completed. On Friday we had an exchange with the Assistants. It went very well and I was grateful for the opportunity to learn from a great missionary.


Saturday was the rewarding day. I was able to be a part of 5 baptisms. Two of them were from the Draper Mt. Point stake and three were in the stake where I currently serve. Total, our zone has had 17 baptisms in the month of December...which leads the mission! That's a great thing to be able to communicate to our Elders and Sisters to lift their spirits this holiday season.


If this past week wasn't busy the week coming will beat it. On Tuesday we are taking a group of Elders and Sisters to temple square to see the lights. I am excited for the chance to see the temple all lit up! On Friday we have a 6 hour Christmas celebration with the mission. Now that I think about it -- this week will be busy but in a relaxing way. The funny part? Even with all this going on I still have plenty of energy during the day. It's an exhilarating type of work.


There were two little surprises in my week as well. On Saturday I ran into a Young Men's President at one of our wards. He was from Virginia so we started talking. Over time I came to find out that he went to SVU and his sister was best friends with Sara! What are the odds! If that wasn't good enough I met a member of a Bishopric who knew the family of my first roommate in DC. Other than teaching the gospel, the relationships you build on a mission and the connections you make are special.


Elder Bolling

Monday, December 5, 2011

New Zone & New Responsibilities!

This week turned out to be eventful. On Tuesday we received our transfer calls. I have been called to serve in the Sandy West and Sandy YSA stakes as the Zone Leader for the Sandy Zone. The Sandy West stake is a great stake but is very different from Draper. There are many more young families and is not quite as developed as Draper. It provides many new opportunities for missionary work. In Utah, the YSA stakes are a new creation of about 6 months ago. We are working with their leadership to settle into the new stakes and provide missionary opportunities. So far we have been very successful with the YSA's.

Being a Zone Leader provides many new responsibilities, opportunities, and challenges. The biggest blessing of week one was the chance to work very closely with the Assistants and President Miller to help move the entire mission forward. Your perspective increases as soon as you start discussing mission-wide matters. It is certainly a busy calling, though! I've been tired throughout my mission, but this one takes the cake! The phone calls start coming in around 6:05am and don't stop until 10:25 pm (if you're lucky). I do love the added responsibility. If anything, I hope I have a lot to offer the Elders and Sisters in my zone that can help them grow as missionaries. I'm also grateful for the opportunity that will constantly keep me on my toes trying to better myself.

On Saturday we had the opportunity to have a mission conference with Elder D. Todd Christoffersen of the Twelve. What a spirit an Apostle of the Lord brings to a conference. As soon as he began his remarks you could feel the tone of the room change a bit. One of the biggest blessings of serving in the SLCS mission is the chance to be taught my many General Authorities. On New Years Eve we will have a chance to hear from Russel M. Nelson of the Twelve. Not a bad Christmas season!

I hope everybody who reads this is having a wonderful Christmas season. I hope I'm able to hear from many of you. I am grateful for all of the support I have on my mission and can feel it every day. I am truly blessed as a missionary and as a human being.

Elder Bolling

Monday, November 28, 2011

A Small Dose Of Trunky!

I never quite understood how departing missionaries felt until this past week. Now, I admit that I'm sure I don't understand exactly how they feel but the experiences from the past week certainly gave me a preview. Let me set the stage. On Wednesday, I receive a phone call from President Miller asking if I believe my companion is ready to take over the area. On Thursday, he lets me know that "You have trained very well. Well done" and informs my companion to "Get ready to train." Hmm, sounds like I'm going to be getting the boot out of Draper when transfer come! With that knowledge, even the unsure knowledge I received, boy did it make it a challenge to focus for the next three days! Don't worry, I still fulfilled my responsibilities as a missionary...but boy oh boy...it was a challenge.


Otherwise, it was a great week. We were able to baptize a 9-year old boy this week. The most exciting part of the teaching experience was seeing his family open their hearts to the gospel and come back to Church. In the SLCS mission, we do a lot of work with less-active and part-member families...so the success makes all of the effort worth it. Whether or not I remain in the area, we should have 5 baptisms coming up soon. It will be a very merry Christmas in Draper!


I also had the opportunity to take an investigator and his wife to Temple Square. What a moving experience! It is definitely a testimony builder to stand at the walls of the temple, to walk through the exhibits and to stand at the feet of the Christus statue. I hope to be able to see the day when this investigator and his wife go to the Temple for their first time.


Thanksgiving was also a blast - and I have lost the weight that I gained! Three meals and a dessert are not always the best thing for the waist-line, but it was a good day nonetheless. I look forward to the Christmas season and spending more time with the wonderful members out here.



Elder Bolling

Monday, November 21, 2011

A Busy Week

Do you ever have those weeks that seem to have so much happen that you don't know how to describe it? That adequately describes my week. It went by fast, good things happened, and we're moving forward. But...where to start?

The most exciting news is that our Stake is entering "baptism season". The plans are all ready, and even though the one that was scheduled for 11/19 moved back to 12/3, we're still on pace for 7 in November/December. We've also seen success off of our efforts to get more integrated with wards. We saw two new people attend Church this week off of those efforts.

The second most exciting news is that our companionship received permission to take an investigator to Temple Square on Wednesday. We will be showing them some sights and sharing a lesson with them while there. Not only will it be exciting to leave the mission boundaries, but I know it will be a spiritual experience for everybody there!

Lastly, Thanksgiving is coming up. I thought I'd take a moment to talk about what I'm thankful for. Again, there's so much I don't know where to start. A good place would be the gospel. You think you understand how a mission will change your life before you go but you can never understand until you get out there. I am learning, growing, and drawing closer to the Savior every day. This experience is a fantastic "launching pad" for the rest of my life. I'm also thankful for the wonderful members and non-members I've met on my mission. Many are examples to me and make me realize what is important in life. As I continue on my mission and my life, I will be blessed by their friendship and memories. Finally, everybody back home. From family to friends to Sara, I have a lot to be thankful for. Even though I'm across the stinkin' country, I'm supported in everything I do. Could a person reasonably ask for anything more? I don't think so.

I hope each of you get to take some time to remember what you're thankful for and to refocus life on what's the most important. I'm grateful for the missionary time that lets me do just that every single day.

Elder Bolling

Monday, November 14, 2011

Thinking Outside the Box

Life in Draper is going well. We continue to be on our good path. We're currently planning for 6 baptisms in the next month. So, I should be happy, right? Nope. That's not in the Elder Bolling plan. Well, let me clarify. I am certainly happy, but not content. So...this week, my companion and I developed a new plan to integrate members more into missionary work.

The hope is that as we spend more time in member homes teaching lessons and lifting their spirits they will in turn invite more to hear the gospel. I'd much rather spend my time strengthening the ward unit where I serve rather than knocking on doors. We're starting it as a "pilot program" with two wards in the stake. The goal is to teach four member families per week, focusing on getting them to invite their friends to meet with us. If it works, it's the best thing that could happen. If it doesn't work, at least we've met some good members.

Thinking outside the box is what makes us the best we can be. So many times it is easy to follow the crowd, do simply what is expected, and move on. But each of us are capable of so much more. I would regret portions of my mission if I didn't take this opportunity that I have in a good area to experiment with different methods.

It's crazy to think that we're almost at transfer time again. I'm torn about whether I want to stay in the Draper Mt. Point Stake or relocate to somewhere new and different. On the one hand, I love change. On the other hand, I truly love the relationships I've built in this stake and wouldn't want to leave. Other than serving the Lord, these relationships are the best part of my mission.

Elder Bolling

Monday, November 7, 2011

Confidence & Action

This week while reading the scriptures I've tried something new. When I find a scripture that speaks out to me, I replace the spiritual "buzzwords" with more every day terms. The most inspiring one came when I replaced the word "faith" in the text with "confidence" or "action". For me, replacing faith with a word that describes faith sparks a new understanding of the word. Faith is the first principle of the gospel. Faith defined is confidence or action in something you believe but cannot see. My week has been governed on that principle.

This week went very similarly to most others. We taught lessons, contacted members and referrals, and went through our studies. As of Saturday morning, we had zero new investigators this week. We typically average 4 new investigators a week. It would have been easy to become discouraged. Onto Saturday morning, where we attended a ward ping-pong tournament. At that ping-pong tournament, a member lets me know of a non-member couple who would love to find a church and are open to listening to the missionaries. (New Investigator #1 and #2) Later, we are going through part-member lists with a Relief Society President and we come across a name of a non-member who has been coming to Church for 3-4 months with his wife. We go by their house and he is completely open to meeting with missionaries. (New Investigator #3) Then, on Sunday afternoon, at about 3:00PM, we're walking into an Elders Quorum meeting. The Ward Mission Leader lets us know we're having dinner at a members' house tomorrow night. We introduce ourselves that member who tells us of their son who is unbaptized but now has a desire to be baptized. (New Investigator #4)

The moral of the story? The Lord promises us many things in life. As a missionary, we're promised success if we're diligent and obedient as missionaries. Even though it always doesn't manifest itself immediately or in such obvious ways, it's always there. It would have been easy to lose motivation and stop working as hard...but as we pressed on, we receive the blessings.

So it is true for each of us. Never slacken our confidence. Keep acting on the knowledge you have. Keep the faith in Christ. As we each do this we will see miracles in our lives.

Elder Bolling

Monday, October 31, 2011

Working with Members

This week was a blur of a week. I'm not entirely sure where it went but it was a good week. We spent a majority of our week in lessons or working with members. We have been inviting members to invite their friends to hear the gospel. It has worked well and we may have 5-6 new teaching opportunities off of our efforts. We've also built very strong relationships in three of our wards.

We've also been working on being better at "following up". Following up on commitments we leave with investigators, following up on meetings we have with members, and following up with ward leaders. As we've done better with this, we've received many comments from ward leaders that the members are noticing the follow up as it shows that we're committed to getting the work moving. Members then tell their neighbors about the Elders in the area and the referrals just start flying in. Building trust with ward members is critical - especially when you have nine wards!

I've also had the opportunity to meet some great people over the past few weeks. Our new ward mission leader in the Mountain Point 9th ward is Brother Baird. In fact, he's a newly-found reality TV star. His new show, "Flip Men", debuted on SpikeTV last Tuesday at 10:30PM. Be sure to watch it this week! (I certainly wish I could!)

All in all, the work moves forward. We've built up the area from the dead area it was and are expecting two baptisms in November and more in December. It's wonderful to see the foundations begin to bear fruit.

Elder Bolling

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

A New Car!!!

I couldn't think of anything else to write for the title. It is fitting, however, because we got the unexpected phone call Friday evening that we needed to swap our 2010 Malibu with another missionaries' 2005 car. After politely accepting the invitation, our Zone Leaders gave us the second surprise, that we needed to then take the 2005 car and trade it in for one of the new batches of 2012 Malibus. We received the car with 42 miles on the odometer. I don't know if that's what they mean by "blessings" on a mission, but it sure was one!

As for the rest of the week, the spiritual highlight came on Sunday during our Stake Conference. Elder Bednar was the presiding authority and gave a stirring talk on the power of testimony and conversion. He used many scriptures, including the parable of the ten virgins. He described it as the "lamp of testimony" and the "oil of conversion". For a quick overview, five of the ten virgins have their lamps properly trimmed with oil, while the others run out in the middle of the night. He exhorted us to light our testimonies with our conversions. If we do not use our testimonies to experience deeper and greater conversion each day of our lives, we will be as the five unprepared people in the parable. It's such a blessing to have the words of the living Apostles to guide us through our lives.

The week was a busy one. We moved apartments from Riverton over to Draper. That was a nice move since the stake that we cover is actually in Draper. We're also living with some fantastic members who have heat in their house! (Our old duplex did not) The zone, district, and area boundaries were also changed this last transfer to re-align with some changes to Stake and Ward boundaries. So...even though I did not move areas during transfers, it was busy. Moving out of a house, exchanging keys, exchanging cars, learning new boundaries, and meeting new missionary leaders all make for a busy week. We actually didn't have much proselyting time on Tuesday/Wednesday outside of lessons. So...it was a blur of a week!

Elder Bolling

Monday, October 17, 2011

Bloom Where You Are Planted


Sara sent me a Halloween package last week. Included in its contents were some Slim Jims, Peppermint Patties, Oreos, and Halloween lego decorations. The real treasure, however, want outside of the box. She wrote little phrases on the box that she creatively decorated. One of those phrases was "Bloom where you are planted." At first, I thought little about it. But when I emptied the contents of a USPS box that I was using for storage into this box to keep, I placed it in my closet. The side of the box with that phrase faced out, causing me to see it every morning and every evening on multiple occasions.

Why am I sharing this? Because every time I looked at the box, the phrase stuck out to me more and more. I have no idea why Sara wrote it, but I started thinking about the words. It motivated me. I realized that too often in our lives, mine in particular, we want to wait for the perfect set of circumstances to be our best selves. Instead, why don't we bloom where we're planted? I used that to motivate me onward during the week and it paid off.

Each morning it reminded me to be a little bolder as a missionary. It reminded me to put in my full effort even when it didn't seem necessary so that I could reap the blessings of missionary work. As I did so, I began to see our struggling area turn around. In one week, we went from one person with a baptismal date to three. We went from four lessons taught to ten. It was a great week. Why? Well, because I learned an important lesson. Bloom where you are planted.

I'm grateful for little treasures of knowledge like these. The scriptures are full of these. What I'm learning, however, is that as we study and learn the scriptures more fully, we will find those same little treasures of knowledge all around us. As D&C 88: 41 says:

"He comprehendeth all things, and all things are before him, and all things are round about him; and he is above all things, and in all things, and is through all things, and is round about all things; and all things are by him, and of him, even God, forever and ever."

If we take the time to slow our lives down and focus on the Savior...we will begin to see that He is in all things and all things are by him and of him. I'm grateful for that little treasure of knowledge that was gained this week thanks to a thoughtful girlfriend who probably didn't even know what impact those five words would have.

Elder Bolling

Monday, October 10, 2011

We're Going Through Changes

Well, this week has been an interesting week to say the least! On Tuesday evening about 5:30pm I get a phone call from President Miller informing me that I am being transferred to the Draper Mt. Point stake as part of an emergency transfer to train a new missionary. Surprise!

My new companion's name is Elder Cox. He's a new missionary who has been in the field for four weeks from Orlando, Florida. He's a good guy with a lot of desire to serve. I'm excited to be his companion. Unfortunately, as we got to planning for Wednesday, we realized that there were no appointments or lessons scheduled for the rest of the week. We spent the first three days of the week "rebuilding" the area and gathering together a pool of teaching candidates. Figuring out an area from the ground up and having no contacts in the area is a challenging task, and from time to time, it wore me down. However, by Saturday, we had 8 lessons scheduled for the next week and have many other potentials coming down the line. It was eye-opening to have that challenging first week in my new area and am grateful for the experience.

My area has many great wards that do a wonderful job inviting their neighbors to learn about the Church. I am certain that as we gain the trust of the ward leadership and members that we will see mighty success in this area. I'm excited for the adventure that lies ahead!

Elder Bolling

Monday, October 3, 2011

It's Conference time!

General Conference was this weekend! As I mentioned before, I have been looking forward to the weekend for a while now. It certainly did not disappoint. I received a lot of counsel that spoke directly to the needs of my soul, but that wasn't what was most exciting. How can a conference designed for all the members worldwide work out so perfectly for my investigators!?
One investigator attended the Saturday afternoon session where three speakers in a row focused on the role of the House of Israel, the basics of Christ as our Savior, and the necessity of obeying commandments, including baptism. It just so happens that this investigator is a Jewish man who does not understand the necessity of having a Savior in the manner of Jesus Christ. Good work, conference!
On Sunday morning, we watched with another investigator who wants to be baptized but is struggling with the Book of Mormon. Again, it just so happened that many speakers focused directly on the role of the Book of Mormon and how it helps us understand the Bible more clearly. One talk was specifically on how the Book of Mormon comes either from God or from Satan - there is no other option. What a perfect message for somebody who needs to build a testimony of the Restoration. Once again...good work, conference!
There were many other personal highlights, but I'd need much more time to write all of those. Suffice it to say that I know more fully than ever before that "Conference is for you". Even though the speakers are speaking to millions of people, somehow the messages always reach right where they need to and answer the questions of the soul. I'm grateful for the opportunity to have a living Prophet and Apostles.
Elder Bolling

Monday, September 26, 2011

Onward, Ever Onward

Hello everyone!
We've started to settle into a groove in our companionship. This week was the same as most other weeks, spending an equal amout of time teaching and finding. We had a baptism this Saturday and plan on having one in each of the upcoming 4 weeks. If I ever were to get discouraged, (which I'm not!), the joy of seeing a baptism is always something that lifts my spirits.
We held a Youth Fireside for one of our stakes on inviting friends to Church and to meet with missionaries. It was a huge success. One thing I learned was that there is definitely a lot more planning that goes into a single Church meeting than I ever imagined. There are certainly many things I learned and many ways I'll change it to be more effective in the future...but nonetheless, it was a great chance to energize the youth.
We've also had some great luck turning to former investigators and inviting them to resume learning about the Church. If somebody wasn't ready to accept the gospel a year ago that does not keep them from being open as life progresses now or in the future. It was great to have some success off of that.
In preparation for General Conference, I've been re-reading some talks. One of those was "Continue in Patience" by President Uchtdoft. As a missionary, this talk rings true. Cooincidentally enough, it's always been one of my favorites! One quote in particular rings true, "Patience is a process of perfection. The Savior Himself said that in your patience you possess your souls. Or, to use another translation of the Greek text, in your patience you win mastery of your souls." How true is that? As I reflect on that message and apply it to my life as a missionary, I look forward to more and more opportunities to grow in patience.
Thanks again to everybody who is keeping in touch. I really enjoy the updates from home. On a personal note, I would like to point out that JMU is 3-1, the Redskins are 2-0, and Mitt Romney is in a good position. I knew serving a mission would bring blessings!
Elder Bolling

Monday, September 19, 2011

A Change of Pace

Last week was the week of baptisms. This week? The week of finding. Let me just say that finding people exercises a completely different set of missionary muscles than teaching people does. However, I'm grateful for the opportunity. I've made every attempt to stretch myself this week and become the best missionary I can be.
One of the most rewarding things, other than baptisms, is meeting great people who are an example. One of those individuals is a Bishop in one of our wards. He was released on Sunday. I've only been in his ward for two months, but have viewed him as a Bishop as somebody I'd like to emulate in some way later in life. As I reflected during his testimony in Sacrament meeting, I realized that it wasn't because of who he was, or how smart he was, but rather the effort he put in. When most people would relax, watch some TV, or spend some time napping, he was putting in those extra 15 minutes. He never failed to follow up at least twice a week and personally do many tasks where he knew he could help. You could sometimes see the heavy burden of balancing life as a Bishop, a father, a husband, and a professional, but he never complained. He just kept working.
Applying that to my life as a missionary, I realized that life is all about those "extra 15 minutes". As I strive to emulate his example, I hope I'm able to be the same type of missionary he was as a Bishop.
As for the work, it's going well. I get along with my companions and we have all been learning in different ways. We'll have the teaching pool refilled in no time. I was also grateful for the chance to go to the Salt Lake Temple on Wednesday. What a beautiful place! It's also a little crazy to think that it's almost Conference time...it's true...time speeds up every day on your mission!

Elder Bolling

Monday, September 12, 2011

Fruits Of The Labor


This week was the week where we picked the fruits of our diligent labor. We had five baptisms over the weekend. Each one was extremely memorable in its own way. It's touching to see the ways that the gospel can improve peoples' lives and bring them closer to their Heavenly Father. I was humbled each time as I was able to watch, participate, or perform an ordinance in a baptismal service. This truly is the Lord's work and I'm grateful to be here.

This week was also transfers. Elder Thomas, our third companion, was transferred to Midvale and we have a new third companion named Elder Nau. He is from Tonga and has been out for almost 14 months. I am grateful for his contribution to our companionship. He has a great testimony, is humble, and willing to help us in any way possible. It's also neat to see some different cultural perspectives. We may, actually, be holding a pig roast for a scout troop in a weekend or two that will be a great experience for us, the ward, and some neighbors.

An amazing thing is happening to me as I progress on my mission. Time seems to be speeding up. I don't understand how it's already the middle of September! This realization has allowed me to appreciate even more fully the short time I have to serve the Lord. As time continues to accelerate, I anticipate I'll be one of those missionaries who wonders where the two years went.

This week I began reading the New Testament - and a simple truth resonated with me. Behind each of Christ's miracles, faith preceded. Faith is the central theme of each and every one of us. Faith leads us to act righteously and do those things we know in our heart are right. With faith, we can achieve so much - even "move mountains" as the scriptures say. Without faith, we are left with our own strength, which isn't very much. (Even if you can lift 500 lbs like my Tongan companion! Wow!) As we grow in faith, we will stop worrying about tomorrow, doubting the power of the Lord, and asking for more. We will be content in what we're given. But it's funny how the Lord works, because as we stop doubting and worrying, we will receive tenfold what we could have done on our own! The Lord has promised it - and I've seen its truth manifest in my life. I am grateful for the example of the Savior and how he has helped me in my life.

As we continue to teach, and continue to grow in faith, my hope is that my faith will continually increase. As it does, I know we will be more successful as missionaries. I also know that translates to anybody in any situation in life. Faith in Jesus Christ can help us overcome anything.

Elder Bolling


Monday, September 5, 2011

Transfer One complete! Transfer Two begins now!

Over the first six weeks, I've learned a lot. I have learned how to work with companions who don't always see eye to eye with you. I have learned how to teach the gospel confidently and correctly. I have learned how to listen and discern issues that investigators need addressed before they can progress in the gospel. I have also learned how to work with ward and stake leaders to ensure that we are moving the work forward as best we could.

It's exhilarating to be learning so much is so short of a period of time. I'm grateful for the opportunity. As I look back over the few short months and look forward to the rest of my mission, I know that missionary work is an inspired process. It's inspired because it helps bring people closer to the gospel and closer to returning to live with God again. But it's also inspired for the missionaries.

There is no experience on this earth that prepares an individual more for what lies ahead in life. As we continue forward in missionary work, we draw closer to Christ, become more sure of ourselves in the gospel, and lay the foundation for a productive and happy life. Without this foundation, it's possible to acquire it through life, but the two-year mission program is truly inspired. I'm grateful to have the chance to learn, grow, and draw closer to the gospel in all things that I do.

It's incredible to think about all of the ways I may progress over the next 22 months. I can hardly imagine. As I continue, I have faith that all will work out for good. I look forward to seeing my family and friends again, but even with that, I am grateful for this priceless opportunity.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Press Forward

Welp, I just finished Week 5 of Transfer 1. One week until transfers! Life has started to settle into the daily ups and downs of missionary work. The general theme, which applies to us in every stage of life, is "press forward". I have absolutely nothing to complain about as we have a good number of people to teach and a good number of people progressing towards baptism in the Church. However, sometimes the individual days can bring you down. Some days are more successful than others. But as you keep the long-term perspective, you're able to keep on the mark.

Saturdays have become some of our "worst" days. It may be the same everywhere, but people cancel appointments, aren't home, or are busy with other things. We usually spend Saturdays without appointments going door to door with very few positive experiences. If we let that one poor day impact our outlook, we would quickly become ineffective missionaries. We continually strive to look forward in faith to the better days which always come. The other days of the week see us with multiple appointments and lessons.

To relate this to life, keep an eternal perspective. At times, we face struggles and challenges. Most times, they last a lot longer than a day. However, in the eternal perspective, those trials aren't any longer than a day. As we push through them with faith in the Lord, we will come to the next "day" that sees us return to happiness and success. All trials we face are designed to refine us and make us better individuals. As we face the future with faith, there's no doubt that we will be successful and find joy.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Hope and Faith

Missionary work is incredibly unique. I was told before I left that there was nothing quite like it and that I'd miss it once it's gone. That reality is beginning to unfold before my eyes. However, as I look at missionary work and the people I meet, I realize that it relates to life before and after my mission in many other ways. The most important way is with the principles of faith and hope.
As a missionary, the days are long, there aren't many breaks, and there are peaks and valleys. With hope and faith, the mission will be incredibly successful, pleasant, and rewarding. Without hope and faith, a missionary will become bogged down in the details of a day and you lose the drive to succeed.
In life, it's the same. Between work, family, social, and other responsibilities, the days are long, there aren't many breaks, and there are peaks and valleys. Yes, there are vacations and weekends in "normal" life, but there are also many more responsibilities. With hope and faith, your life can be incredibly successful, pleasant, and rewarding. Without hope and faith, your life will become bogged down in the details of a day and you lose the drive to succeed.
What are faith and hope? Faith is a principle of action. With faith, you press forward through the course of your life knowing that there will be a reward for your diligent work. That diligent work can take many forms. Family life, work, school, service, religious life, exercise, dieting - these are all examples of items that require faith. Hope is being able to see ahead to the future. As you hope for a tomorrow that is better than today, your faith will increase. As your faith increases, you hope for better things.
In short, with unbounded faith and hope, we can achieve so much in our lives. As we couple that with faith and hope in Jesus Christ, we can achieve all things. (Phillipians 4: 13) So press onward, look forward with faith and hope, believe that Christ can strengthen us in all things, and see how high you can fly.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Service With a Smile

Members are the best kind of missionaries. That is especially true in a Utah mission. Unlike in Virginia, everyone has an opinion of the Church. Those outside the Church usually get their information from nonmembers and therefore are uninformed. As such, it's hard for us to get in the door on our own. However, when members have a service-oriented mindset, give to their neighbors, are warm and inviting, and invite nonmembers to learn more about the Church, miracles happen.
As I was reading the book of Alma this week, I stumbled over a familiar story. It's the story of Ammon and King Lamoni. It starts at Chapter 17 and goes onward. Here's what I noticed and theorized.
When Ammon met King Lamoni, he was offered one of his daughters to be his wife. If Ammon accepted, he likely would have had much of the wealth and prominence that comes with royalty. Instead, he decided not to take advantage of King Lamoni but offered to be his servant. After tending his flock and saving them from enemies in dramatic fashion, all the other servants rushed back to brag to the King about what had happened. Did Ammon expect anything in return? Nope! Ammon continued working, and in Alma 18: 9, we see that while the King was learning about Ammon's feats, Ammon was "feeding (his) horses". He still kept serving even after doing a great act of service.
After such selfless dedication, we see in Alma 8: 12 that "the countenance of the king was changed". Ammon's selfless acts warmed the King to the message that Ammon truly wanted to share. That was the message of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Ammon shared the message and King Lamoni was converted unto the Church.
Amazingly, it doesn't end there. King Lamoni then allowed Ammon to teach the Gospel around the city and many others were converted. Finally, Ammon was able to secure the release of his three brother missionaries so they could continue preaching the Gospel. So...by Ammon's service, many thousands of hearts were changed.
The same can be true for us as members of the Church. If he will seek out opportunities to be friends, neighbors, and service-oriented people to those outside the Church, they will notice. Over time, the walls of misinformation will come down and they will wonder why we're different from everyone else. As this happens, their hearts will be softened to the Gospel. If this happened across the Church, imagine how many more people would be baptized! The Church could double its missionary efforts!
Members truly are the best missionaries - and the best way to preach the Gospel is to serve others and invite them to learn of the fruits of the restored Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Seeing Miracles

Fasting. I have fasted regularly since joining the Church, but thanks to blessings from above I now understand that the Lord answers us with promised blessings. Here we go...
Since coming into the area we had been teaching an 18 year old girl who has Protestant parents who very much oppose her joining the Church. She has been taught for 6 months with no progress towards baptism even though she loves the scriptures, loves the Church, and loves to pray. After sharing my background we committed her to baptism and have been meeting regularly to uplift her. She has been having doubts. On Saturday night, I started my fast asking for her to receive the comfort she needs as she prepares for baptism. That Sunday, we met with her. We invited her to a baptism that night at 5:00. At the end of the baptism, she came up to us with tears in her eyes and let us know that she knows she needs to be baptized. I didn't realize it until later, but the Lord answered my prayer directly. Even though I lack faith sometimes, and I know the Lord always answers prayers, seeing an instance so direct and so powerful really humbles you.
In addition, we got a call from a truck driver who was coming through the area who wanted to meet. He was very unsure how it all would work and we told him to call us back with details. I got a prompting that we needed to call him back and nail down a time. We found a member who was willing to drive him into our area (since his truck was being unloaded) and we taught him and his wife. The lesson would not have happened if we hadn't called him back after initially leaving it up to his own accord. Come to find out they have been reading the Book of Mormon for 10 years, want to be baptized, but since they're mobile have never been able to track down missionaries. The Lord blesses us as we listen to His will.
All in all, I've seen the Lord's hand in my life this past week in miraculous ways. It's both humbling and eye-opening. It's hard to deny the blessings of the Church after experiences like that. We truly are being directed as missionaries in the work. While I miss home and miss "real" life, I'm reveling in the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to have these experiences.

Monday, August 1, 2011

First in the Field

Hello everyone!

My first area is the Lone Peak and Crescent Park Stakes in Sandy, UT. Yes, each companionship covers two stakes! Overall, we have twelve wards that we cover. Even though we cover two stakes, our area spans a total of three miles. I have absolutely loved the first 6 days I've spent here - it's a wonderful area.

I am completely blessed. In the first week, I've only had to pay for one meal and haven't even had to go to the grocery store. While we knock doors, we end up leaving members' doorsteps with cookies, fruit, cartons of milk, or even full meals. Aside from that, our current residence is known as "the Palace". It's the basement of a members' home and let's just say that it's quite the residence. Okay, I'll stop bragging now.

I love the Salt Lake City area. For one, it's a lot less humid than Virginia. It can be hot but still comfortable, which is something I've never experienced before. I've also enjoyed getting to know the members. There's such a close-knit feel in the ward communities that warms my heart whenever I'm in a members' home. There's also a lot less traffic than I'm used to in the DC area. I'm grateful to be placed where I am.

My companion and trainer is Elder Witt. After 6 days with him, I think he's quite the good fit. He's been out for 21 months so he is well-versed in what to do in the field. However, he's very laid back and open to new ideas so I've been able to try some ideas that I've had as we've been on the streets.

Our first three days were not very successful. We were unable to get any referrals and our lessons canceled on us consistently. It was a frustrating entrance to the mission. On Saturday, however, that all changed. We were able to get 11 referrals in the morning, got in contact with a former investigator who wished to restart lessons, and committed an investigator to baptism. On Sunday, we had three successful lessons where the Spirit was very easy to feel. In just the first 6 days, I've felt the Spirit in amazing ways and am grateful I've had a small hand to play in those experiences. More on Sundays - whew! Sunday is not a day of rest when you cover two stakes. Not to worry, I was able to partake of the Sacrament 5 times...so I've certainly had enough blessings to make up for the busyness of my day.

Overall, I'm excited to be here. I can feel the blessings in my life and also am loving the drive of missionary work. I know there will be challenges ahead, but I love my mission.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Training wheels are coming off!

"When everything says you can't, believe in the part of you that says you can."
 
Sunday was an extremely spiritual day for me. Yes, it was the Sabbath, which is always spiritual, but there was a wonderful dose of Firesides, talks from Apostles, and scripture study that added to it immensely. The quote above came from the Fireside. It's always important to remember that whenever you doubt your abilities that you can achieve much more than you ever thought if you have faith.
 
We listened to a talk by Elder Holland. He shared that the main reason we don't see miracles in our lives is because we're not willing to take the extra steps necessary to go off the edge. "You won't ever fly if you don't jump off the edge. Water doesn't boil at 210 degrees. Even though 210 is very hot, it takes those two extra degrees to make magic happen." The same is true with our lives. If we want to see miracles or blessings, we must be willing to put in that extra ounce of work even though we don't think we can do anymore. That's the principle of faith. Stepping out one step farther than what is normally expected. I hope I'm able to do that as I travel to the mission field.
 
Mission field? Hmm, I guess I should mention that. Today is my last day at the MTC. Tomorrow morning at 6:00am I will be on a bus with the 12 other missionaries who are heading to the Utah Salt Lake City South Mission. We will meet with the Mission President, meet our new companions, and then be out into the work. I am so excited to get going! Even though I've grown immensely over the past three weeks, I'm ready to share that growth with others. That's the whole reason I came out here. It's going to be scary at first - talking to strangers, sharing my knowledge of truth, and working harder than I ever had before. Nonetheless, I'm much more excited for this than I was to get into the MTC.
 
"Shall we not go on in so great a cause? Go forward and not backward. Courage, brethren; and on to the victory!" D&C 128: 22
 
I'm ready to press onward. I'm ready to get to work. I'm sure once I get out there I will have trials and struggles, but as the verse above says, shall we not go on in so great a cause?
 
PS: I wanted to take a second to thank everyone who has sent me letters, Dear Elders, packages, or notes. They're a very welcome addition to my mission. It's nice to see little thoughts from home. Starting today, please use my mission home address.
 
Elder Kevin M. Bolling
Utah Salt Lake City South Mission
8060 S. 615 E.
Sandy, Utah
84070
 
As soon as I get the address for my residence in my first transfer, I will also post in on here. Thanks for the well wishes!
 

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Fresh Courage Take

"Why should we think to earn a great reward if we now shun the fight?"

That is a line from the famous hymn "Come, Come, Ye Saints" that was written during the travails of the persecuted Saints traveling West. Every time I sing or hear this hymn, it moves me. This line in particular. It's a true Gospel principle. At times in life and in the field, I wonder why things have to be so hard. Well, for one, nothing I'm doing even compares to the struggles that the Saints went through, let alone the struggles Jesus Christ went through for us. Yet the principle remains the same. We are called to all be disciples of Jesus Christ - and how can we think to earn our reward after this life if we're not willing to do the work? The humility of this hymn always hits me and makes me rededicate myself to the work I'm doing.

Well, we're officially the "old guys" at the MTC! That seems strange to say since we've only been out here for two weeks, but we will no longer be at the MTC when I write my next blog update. The MTC experience has just flown by faster than I ever imagined. I've learned so much, grown spiritually, and made extremely close friends. I absolutely love my district. I know for a fact that a few of the Elders and Sisters I've gotten to know so well will be lifelong friends that I'll never lose touch with.

Teaching has been a rewarding yet frustrating experience. One of our mock investigators has taken three lessons to simple understand the concept of prayer. It's really humbling when you realize that there are many out there in the world who have never had the benefit of praying. On the other hand, other times my companion and I have seen how much we have grown in unity through teaching. Our most recent lessons work well, communicate good points, and share the Spirit with the investigators. I'm sure once I get out into the field with an Elder who has been doing this for months that I will be humbled even more.

If there's one personal thought I could share this week, it would be to live life to the fullest. On the mission that means to focus on the work "with an eye single to the glory of God." Obviously, that's easier said than done. I want to write home, I want to hear from my girlfriend, and I'm developing deep connections that I want to continue after I leave the MTC. However, as much as I value those things...the mission rules make it easier to do that. I'm beginning to realize the value of not e-mailing all of my friends, the value of only writing home once a week, and the value of not being able to keep up with the ouside world as much. While I miss all of those experiences and fondly look forward to their return, my mission experience is being boosted every day as I focus more on the work.

That applies to life at home - live life to the fullest. The priorities are different, but don't become dragged down in "the thick of thin things". Figure out what is most important in your life, focus on those things, give them the time they need and deserve, and be sure to have no regrets afterwards. All we do should be focused on those important things in our lives, because whatever they may be for each of us, those are the things that will bring us the most happiness and success. And of course, keep your eye single to the glory of God in all that you do, whether it's missionary work, a career, or in family.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Let the Game Begin

6 days down at the Missionary Training Center! I've had an absolutele blast in my first week as a missionary for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. It's amazing the outpouring of spiritual blessings that can accompany you as you make the time and put in the effort to serve the Lord. I've been blessed in so many ways. I'll try to talk about most of them in the short time I have to write this update.

Coming to the MTC, I had the opportunity to meet up with two of the Elders who taught me in Richmond. They met me at the airport and drove me to Provo. It was refreshing to meet back up with them and hear their insights about what to expect as I entered the MTC. They are both wonderful examples and I'm glad to have been able to catch up with them. Ironically enough, one of my teachers in the MTC is a Ward member with one of those missionaries. What a small world!

Well, how about life in the MTC? It's busy. Really busy. We wake up at 6:30, get ready, eat breakfast, study, and get into class by 8:20. At a minimum, we have 6 hours of class, 2 hours of study, and 2 more hours of teaching time. Many days we add in devotionals, Church movies, and other seminars or Firesides. You'd think I'd be tired, but I have more energy than I've ever had in my life. That is surely a blessing for being willing to serve as a missionary. I know as I continue to strive to do my best I will be given that extra energy to do what I need to do.

I love the group of Elders and Sisters that I have been able to spend time with as a missionary. There are a number of unique personalities in the group, but they all fit in order to make a well-oiled training machine. I have learned so much about the Gospel from the others in the room and I know I've been put with them for a reason. It will be hard to leave them in two short weeks, but I know being in the missionary field will be much more exciting. I'll certainly try to keep up with many of them through letters during their missions.

It's unique being a convert to the Church as a missionary. During our entrance orientation, the Mission President has converts from the last 2 years stand up. There had to have been only 10 of them out of a room of 500 missionaries. Many of the missionaries have grown up in the Church and do not know what life without the Church is like. I've been happy to share my experiences and communicate the difference membership in the Church has made in my life. I hope that I've been able to be a positive influence in some way, shape, or form, to make them better missionaries. I know I'll be a better missionary as a result of my time here.

It's also nice to hear from home. Sara was very thoughtful and had many members of our FHE group in the Langley ward write notes to me that she sent out on my first day as a missionary. That was touching and I put all of those on my board in my room so that I can be reminded that I have support. Thanks to all of you who did that and also thanks to those who are thinking or praying for me. I can certainly feel the added strength I've been given through your support. Sara has been great as well, as I love hearing her insights of what it's like to be a missionary. She's certainly prepared me well for all I'm experiences. I'm thankful for her. I also love getting letters from others. One of my missionaries from Richmond wrote me asking how it was and to inform me where to get the good food at the MTC that wouldn't make me fat. (I'm proud to report that I have not gained a pound in my first 6 days...though it was hard doing so! The food is great!) I also like hearing updates from my family when I get to use the computer. I'm thankful for all the support.

I look forward to keeping everyone updated on my progress - and I hope that you will keep in touch so that I can hear how things are going back home! I love the mission field but I miss being back home in Virginia!

Elder Bolling

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

I'm leaving on my mission...tomorrow!

Hey everyone!

This will be my last post before I leave tomorrow morning at 7:00AM for the Missionary Training Center in Provo, UT! Even though I've tried my best, I'm sure there are people that I forgot to say bye to before I stepped on the plane. If I forgot, first off, I'm sorry. Second, please keep in touch!

My address at the MTC:
Elder Kevin Michael Bolling
MTC Mailbox # 383
UT-SLCS 0727
2005 N 900 E
Provo, UT 84604-1793

Please contact me! It will be nice to hear from folks back home and I look forward to hearing about how things are doing back East.

I will be also be posting weekly updates when possible about my travels and the happenings while I'm out in Utah. I hope they will be entertaining and enjoyable for anybody who reads them. Once I leave the MTC and move into the mission field, I will post my new address.

Take care, everyone! On to Utah!

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Optimism Will Take The Day

“Do not let us speak of darker days; let us speak rather of sterner days. These are not dark days: these are great days – the greatest days our country has ever lived; and we must all thank God that we have been allowed, each of us according to our stations, to play a part in making these days memorable in the history of our race.”
These are famous words spoken by an English statesman. Who said this? The words were spoken by Winston Churchill. What was the occasion? The Germans had successfully invaded many European nations and now bombs were falling on London.

We all know how this story ended – the British withstood the devastating attacks that ravaged their country and went on, with the assistance of the United States and other Allied nations, to defeat the German military machine. This tyranny was removed from the European continent. But on the day Mr. Churchill spoke those words to the world, the outlook was much darker. The pundits thought that nobody could stop Germany and after they had dismantled England they would prepare an invasion of the United States and other nations.

How did we get from such a desperate outlook to a successful defense of freedom? It’s impossible to claim one reason for the success of the British fight for freedom, but the optimism shown by Churchill certainly played a large part in it. “These are not dark days: these are great days”, he said. Great days? Average citizens were using the subways as bomb shelters and normal life had ceased to exist. What is great about that? Well, with a cynical outlook, nothing. However, Churchill was able to see the silver lining that was far off in the sky. He thanked God that “we have been allowed…to play a part in making these days memorable in the history of our race.” Churchill didn’t express the sorrow and heartbreak many British felt, but spoke of the light at the end of the tunnel. The light was certainly a long way away, but without the optimistic vision he gave the British public of their future, they likely never would have seen that light return to their shores.

There is a great lesson here. Optimism, not cynicism, will lead us to success. Gordon B. Hinckley quotes his father as telling him, “Cynics do not contribute, skeptics do not create, doubters do not achieve.” Let us strive to see the sunshine behind the clouds of our lives. It worked for Britain and it can work for us. We will all face challenges, struggles, and battles that seem impossible to overcome. I believe that we will never be given a challenge too difficult to overcome. With an optimism to see our eventual goal alongside a healthy dose of diligent work and faith in our abilities, each of us can make our own struggles “memorable in the history” of our lives.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Transitions...

Last Thursday was my final day working with Accenture. I've spent the last week reuniting myself with my only other employer, Kings Dominion. What a difference a week makes!

Accenture is a great company. For an entry-level position, I was offered competitive pay, and some of the best benefits and work flexibility around. I also enjoyed the folks that I worked with. I learned quite a bit professionally and personally through them. In down time, I also learned about stock trading and sports. While all of the benefits stacked up in an impressive manner, the work left me wanting more. I spent the majority of my day communicating by e-mail, tracking down managers, and doing menial analysis of financial numbers.

I understand that entry-level jobs are never glamorous. But, with that known, I still hated the idea of going into work. When I got there, I completed my tasks, did what was required, and quickly went into a state of passing the hours until I was able to escape for the night.

We spend 40 hours or more per week at our jobs. That's more time than we likely spend with those we love the most or our hobbies. So, knowing that work comprises a majority of my non-sleeping time, why should I spend it somewhere I don't particularly enjoy?

I've heard the rationales. I spoke with coworkers and friends who had many opinions, most along these lines: "I don't particularly enjoy this job at all, but it pays the bills and once I got married that was what was important." "At some point, I had to grow up, and this is a comfortable and secure job." "All jobs suck, it's just a part of life." It was the last point that stuck out. All jobs "suck"? I'm a particularly optimistic person, and I can't stand to think that I will spend five days a week doing something that I just don't like. There has to be something better.

Contrast Accenture with the last week. Is life at Kings Dominion perfect? Hardly. However, I look forward to going into work. Depending on the day, I might be filing paperwork, running a ride, cleaning a wave pool, managing an area of the park, teaching a training, auditing rides, or talking with employees and guests. The diversity of the job already makes it more enjoyable than my last year at Accenture. Most importantly to me is the fact that I get to interact with people regularly while I'm at work. And surprisingly, my favorite day of work last week was while cleaning a wave pool. There's something refreshing in working with your hands.

I'm not saying that Kings Dominion is my dream job - I still don't know exactly what my dream job entails. What I do know is that I've taken a step forward. According to many "professional standards", I've moved backwards. A cut in pay, longer hours, and very few benefits. But I did move forward. I'm happy. When you're happy with what you're doing, you have a lot more for everything else. For yourself, your friends, and your personal endeavors.

With what I've experienced over the past year, I've decided that when I return from my mission, I plan to avoid a "corporate" job at all costs. I want to have a self-starting job. I don't know exactly what, whether its in ownership, entrepreneurship, franchising, or something else. I don't even know if it will work. I might end up back in the corporate world once I need a "secure and comfortable job". But until then, I want to give it a try. Who knows, it might just work!

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

How To Be the Luckiest Guy on the Planet?

What is it that makes us "lucky"? According to Dictionary.com, luck is "the force that seems to operate for good or ill in a person's life, as in shaping circumstances, events, or opportunities." But is this force controllable? If so, how can we control it?

To be sure, there are many things in life that are outside of our control. We can't control the weather. Many times we can't control accidents or illnesses in our lives. We also can't control the actions of others. But we control almost everything else, and by controlling those "forces" in a positive direction, we can put fertile soil at our feet that will cultivate that luck.

Entrepreneur and investor James Altucher blogged recently about the steps he takes to become lucky. He points out that, "Each time there were four things, and only four things, that were always in place in order for me to bounce back." These things? Four areas of daily practice: Physical practice, emotional practice, mental practice, and spiritual practice. Follow this link to read more about it.

I've thought a lot about those four areas...and it makes sense. They're areas that everyone can implement in their own lives. Success, or "luck", as he puts it, is dependent on doing the small and simple daily tasks that we sometimes tend to overlook. If we keep plugging away, honestly striving to become better at the basics of life, we will look into the mirror years from now and barely recognize the person we've become. I look forward to that moment in my own life.

I try to do things similar to James' four areas. His four areas are worth considering. I don't always do those simple things I set for myself everyday. Nobody's perfect. But I have found that when I do them, things just seem to work out for the better.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Quotes from Albert Einstein

Here is a small collection of some of my favorite Albert Einstein quotes. Most of us know Einstein as one of the most brilliant minds and scientists. However, he had a unique grasp on philosophy as well. I enjoy reading his writings, as his mind certainly worked in a very unique way.

  1. "Any intelligent fool can make things bigger, more complex, and more violent. It takes a touch of genius -- and a lot of courage -- to move in the opposite direction."

  2. "Imagination is more important than knowledge."

  3. ""A person starts to live when he can live outside himself."

  4. "Weakness of attitude becomes weakness of character."

  5. "I never think of the future. It comes soon enough."

  6. "Anyone who has never made a mistake has never tried anything new."

  7. "Great spirits have often encountered violent opposition from weak minds."

  8. "The secret to creativity is knowing how to hide your sources."

  9. "We can't solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them."

  10. "Education is what remains after one has forgotten everything he learned in school."

  11. "The important thing is not to stop questioning. Curiosity has its own reason for existing."

  12. "The most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious. It is the source of all true art and all science. He to whom this emotion is a stranger, who can no longer pause to wonder and stand rapt in awe, is as good as dead: his eyes are closed."

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

"Revenge of the Introverts"

I read an insightful article yesterday on introversion. As an introvert in an extraverted world, this article connected with me the whole way through. I'm the type of person who could be perfectly content spending an entire weekend at home relaxing, watching sports, or reading a good book.

At times, in the quick-pace American world that we live, introverts can feel out of place. They overthink issues, they ramble, or they're not engaged with a conversation. Introverts are largely misunderstood throughout their interactions with others.

It's refreshing to read articles like this that reminds you, "Hey, half of the world is this way!"

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

"The Devil is in the Details"

The devil is in the details. I've heard that phrase hundreds, maybe thousands, of times. I've used it before and not thought much of it. But last week, I finally decided to give it some thought. Here's a glimpse of what ran through my mind.

Oddly enough, while researching the origins of this idiom, I found out it was derived from an old German saying, "God is in the details". Somehow along the way, one person saw that the details were something worth giving serious attention. Somebody else determined that the details get in the way of our true happiness. Which is it?

In my opinion, it's both. Details are important. In order to succeed at anything in life, we must fine tune our approaches until we find what is most effective. To do this, we take note of the details. When looking at the success of marriages, businesses, individuals, and organizations, you see that the best of anything comes from those who put the most effort into focusing on the relevent details.

Where does the devil come into it, you might be thinking? I would suggest that the devil is in those details that arise before we've made our decision to act. Many times in life we have dreams that would be fulfilling, but as we start to look at what it might take to achieve those dreams, we become discouraged and put them on the shelf. How sad! Even in relationships, we might hesitate to cultivate a connection with someone we should because there are some details that keep us at a distance.

My verdict? Details are important. The details determine success or failure. The details are largely in our control. We can make them work to our advantage if we approach them in a responsible, diligent, and proactive manner. (The flipside is also applicable) It is through the details that we realize the dreams that bring us the greatest joy. We can't confuse the details of success with the details that derail dreams, though. When you know something is right in your heart, it's important to act on that knowledge, regardless of the challenges ahead.

The right choice is not always the easiest choice, but it still might be just the thing you need in your life.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Understanding Our Big History

David Christian and Bill Gates have started the "Big History Project". Its goal is to foster a greater love and capacity for learning among high school students. Why? Because "Everything has a history: each person, plant, animal and object, our planet, and the entire universe."

In the talk I've posted below, David Christian discussed the idea that while the universe on a whole trends towards simplicity, it can become more complex if the conditions are right. After a brief overview of the history of the universe, he connects this to ourselves.

Humans have the gift of collective learning, he says. We are the only species to have this skill, and the conditions are right for it to exist. It is why our human "universe" has become increasingly more complex at a faster rate as time moves forward. In short, we learn from those before us.

The concept is very simple - yet profound. It is not within ourselves that we will find knowledge, but through the experiences and knowledge of others. Breakthroughs are rarely, if ever, made by one person using solely their own knowledge. That concept can be inspirational in numerous different venues. It is fundamental for each of us to understand our history. We need to understand where we came from, what those before us had to do to get here, and as we do that, we will be better prepared to improve the conditions we live in.

I'm grateful for the vast treasures of knowledge that surround me. I try to learn something new every day. I want to slowly increase my capacity to understand our shared human history. As I do this, I believe I will put myself in a position to make a difference that will benefit those who succeed me.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

H.P. Lovecraft: A Lost Man Before His Time

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I just watched a documentary on the horror/sci-fi writer H.P. Lovecraft on SnagFilms. (Trailer can be seen above) He wrote in the early 20th century and essentially pioneered the genre of horror writing. Without an H.P. Lovecraft, there would be no Stephen King of Neil Gaiman.

The story of his life is engaging - he grew up in a troubled home and had many doubts and uncertainties regarding himself - but he found an outlet for expression through writing after growing up reading ghost stories. His writings mirrored his thoughts and sometimes perverse views of the world and himself. At the time he was writing, the genre was not accepted as true "literature". (Even today, it's commonly looked down upon compared to traditional genres) However, this was his passion and he pressed on doing what he loved through years of poverty and eventually was able to sustain himself with his art. Even through the successful years of his life, he was never a best-selling author and only got his books truly published on their own merits after his death.

Those individuals who pioneer new techniques or arts aren't usually understood in their times. This is a wonderful example of that. Lovecraft had many areas in his life that were troublesome. Some were self-inflicted and others were due to his upbringing. In short, he was a man who felt he did not belong with the greater world and struggled to be understood throughout his life.

I've never read any of H.P. Lovecraft's writings, but after watching this documentary he's going right to the top of my to-read list!