Tuesday, March 23, 2010

spring fever

...I've got it, and I seriously NEEDED a trip up the canyon today!
Can't WAIT for warm weather!!!

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

my boys

Love these kids...always willing to try out my props before a photography client comes!

Thursday, March 11, 2010

miracles and earthquakes

My dear sister, her wonderful husband, and their awesome son are living in Santiago Chile, just 200 miles away from the epicenter of the recent earthquake.

Today Lisa sent us word that according to Fox News, because of the massive 8.8 earthquake, "the city of Concepcion moved at least 10 feet to the west, Santiago moved just shy of 1 feet, and even Buenos Aires, in Argentina, moved an inch.  One NASA scientist says the quake probably shifted the Earth's axis and made days slightly shorter. The Chile quake was one of the strongest ever measured and the giant waves that followed left almost 500 confirmed dead and at least 260 others missing."

The aftershocks have also been terrifying. Just this morning there were three, measuring 7.2, 6.9, and 6.0. I wake up in the middle of the night with worry over my sister and her family every night. I hope and pray that they (and all the people in Chile,) will be safe and comforted.

The day after the earthquake, my sister sent the following letter:
Dear Everyone,

I am writing to let you all know how very grateful we are for your prayers, concern, and love. Please keep praying! We need the Lord's help and guidance in order to do all He would have us do to learn what He would have us learn from this earth quake tragedy, and to minister in the way He would have us minister. During the past few days, we have witnessed many events which serve to remind us that the Lord is in charge and that as missionaries and members of His church, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, we are performing His work, and as President Monson teaches, "When we are on the Lord's errand, we are entitled to His help." I want to share with you a few miracles that will help you to understand our profound feelings of gratitude. 

When we were set apart for this calling, Elder Scott of the counsel of the twelve apostles taught us many important lessons. He spoke from personal experience when he was a Mission President in Argentina. One message that he shared with us is this: "At times, during your mission, you will be awakened in the middle of the night or the early morning hours with thoughts of specific things you should do for certain missionaries. Do not ignore these thoughts. They are promptings from the Holy Ghost who will communicate with you in the stillness of the night or the peace of the early morning hours. He will speak to you then because that is when you are still enough to hear." Elder Scott further instructed us to keep a notebook beside our bed so that we could record these precious promptings. He said that by the next morning, we would be likely to forget the promptings if we didn't write them down. 

We have been astonished at the fulfillment of Elder Scott's prophetic words. We have received many promptings in the exact manner that Elder Scott described. We are so thankful that Elder Scott taught us how to recognize and act upon these precious promptings. Had he not taught us, we may not have given these promptings the attention they require.

Nearly two and one half weeks ago, I was awakened at around 4:00 AM by just such a prompting. I did not hear a voice, but the thought was as clear as if it had been in the form of spoken words: "There is going to be an earthquake. Prepare your missionaries." I sat up in bed and  immediately remembered Elder Scott's counsel. That morning I told Larry what had happened. He immediately set to work organizing our missionaries to prepare for an earthquake. 

In talking with our office missionaries to arrange for them to put together a list of everything we would need to prepare...in both Spanish and English...we discovered that the Lord had also let two of our office missionaries know of the possibility of an earthquake (in the form of dreams) and the need to prepare our mission. We set a goal and arranged our schedule so that we could visit every apartment in the mission  to check for safety and to review with our missionaries what to do in case of an earth quake. What a wonderful experience we have had as we have met with them and shared scriptures with them about being spiritually and physically prepared. "...if ye are prepared, ye shall not fear" (D&C 38:30). We instructed every missionary to have a "go-bag" (36 hour kit). We reviewed our emergency action plan with them of where to go and what to do if they had phone service and in case they did not. We gave everyone a paper with all instructions in English and Spanish, and we reminded them that "this life is the time to prepare to meet God" (Alma 34:32-34). We shared with them our thoughts and feelings about the need for spiritual and physical safety. Some of them became frightened and asked us if we knew something they didn't know. We smiled and repeated "...if ye are prepared, ye shall not fear." We didn't want to unduly alarm them, but we did want to impress upon them the need to be prepared. We tearfully reminded them of our recent transfer conference where we had shared our feelings about our dear Elder McKay Burrows who was unexpectedly called home in January while serving his mission in Romania...how he was prepared in every way to meet God. We reissued our challenge to "be prepared" in every way. Then we knelt with them in their apartment and dedicated each apartment, asking for a blessing of safety and security to be upon every apartment. 

When the earthquake came, we were prepared. We did not experience the panic that many felt. We knew we were prepared. Because of the words of the Lord's chosen Apostle, Elder Scott, we had listened and heeded the quiet, but clear promptings of the Holy Ghost. We were blessed with peace in the midst of chaos. We learned an important lesson: our preparation helped us to avoid panic and fear, but the Lord, in His wisdom, allowed us to experience enough discomfort to know that He has all power. He is in charge. We are nothing without Him. We are dependent upon Him for every breath we take. Only He can save us from death and destruction. He is the way, the truth, and the life. He is our perfect example. If we follow Him, we will be saved through obedience to the laws and ordinances of His Gospel.

As the earthquake became more violent, the mission home groaned and wailed. The power died, so the whole city was black. The windows made a hideous screeching sound, and flying objects banged against swaying walls. The printer/fax machine, books, book ends, and fifty-pound television burst from the entertainment center and crashed to the floor, cabinets emptied, drawers flew open, the refrigerator moved, water sloshed out of the toilets, the floor jolted up and down as we ran across it trying to hold onto the walls to keep from falling down, and the piano toppled over like a small toy. As we made our way to the back yard, I remember thinking, "God is all-powerful. He is our only refuge from this horrible mess." I prayed and prayed for Him to still the earth. When we reached the back yard, we watched in terror. By the light of the moon we could see the swimming pool water form giant waves and crash out onto the rocks. House and car alarms screamed into the night...some from being crushed by falling debris and others I guess from the bizarre movement of the earth. I am not sure if the intense rumbling sounds came from the earth itself or from everything else that was shaking so violently. Finally, it stopped. When the calm came, we had to sit down because our legs were weak and unstable. My legs stayed wobbly all day and night yesterday. Today the muscles in my legs hurt like I ran a marathon. The aftershocks have been extremely unsettling. Each one begins like the one last night started. We just close our eyes and wait to see if it escalates or dies down. I have never experienced anything like this! 

We were awakened this morning by a very strong after shock. Larry jumped out of bed and yelled, "Welcome to another glorious day in Chile!" We just had to laugh. We moved a mattress into the floor in our bedroom and made Landon sleep in our room. He was in his room with the door locked the night before and we couldn't wake him up. He never locks his door, but he was playing a joke on Larry because every morning Larry wakes him at 5:30 AM for seminary by tickling him unmercifully. So Landon had decided to stop him. When we couldn't open his door, in the middle of the quake, we thought he was trapped, so we screamed and banged. Landon thought that everything was falling off the walls because we were banging so hard on the door. I think we scared him more than the earthquake did!

Today, we attended a strong ward where Larry was invited to speak. The entire chapel and beyond was filled. People were so humble and so teachable. Larry taught the importance of doing the small things. He taught about Jesus Christ and the opportunty we have to love one another and to share what we have with others. It was a great blessing for us to be with these beautiful Chilean people. Some have lost their homes...or at least parts of their homes. But they are strong and they want to serve the Lord. (By the way, Wilcox's the Hermana that used to work in the mission home called us and asked us to let you know that she is safe. We thought it was so sweet that she wanted you to know that she is safe. She loves you.) He taught of the scripture in Luke 21:11,13 which says, "and great earthquakes shall be in divers places...and it shall turn to you for a testimony." He also welcomed the sweet young woman who was in the congregation with the missionaries...her first time attending church...and then he invited her to be baptized from the pulpit. He asked her to please invite us to her baptism, and she said, "I will." The Lord always knows what His people need. Landon was reading in Alma 15:17 today. He said, Mom listen to this. This is what is happening here in Chile just like in happened in Ammonihah. The people were humbled and "checked as to the pride of their hearts and began to humble themselves before God, watching and praying continually that they might be delivered from Satan, and from death, and from destruction." 

Our hearts are filled to the brim with gratitude for all of the blessings we have received in the Chile Santiago East Mission.  We see miracles every day. In the midst of great pain and suffering, we can always find our Savior. He stands with His arms open, pleading for all of us to humble ourselves and come unto Him. He loves us. He invites us to accept His gift...the atonement. He invites us to repent. He wants us to love one another and to serve one another. He wants us to bring our families and those we love to Him. We can do it. We can do all that He asks, no matter how difficult it may seem. "With God all things are possible"  

OK, sorry this is so long. I will end now. We are having a devotional tomorrow for all of our missionaries to talk about the last week of Christ's life in preparation for Easter. We want to remind our missionaries to teach and preach with increased vigor and animo of Christ. Last Monday in our office meeting, Larry suddenly stopped in the middle, and said, "During the prayer, I had a very strong impression that March 2010 is going to be our best baptizing month we have ever had in this mission." Now we know why he received that feeling. We are going to prepare to bring many souls to the waters of baptism in March. Please continue to pray for us and for the people of Chile. Please pray for the missionaries to have strength and courage to do all that is being required of them, even in difficult times.

We are so thankful that the tsunami did not turn out badly in Hawaii. Who would ever think that an earthquake in Chile could threaten the shores of Hawaii? Thankfully, the Lord is in charge. He is the one to whom we must turn for refuge from every storm. He has the power to save us. 

Con mucho amor,
Lisa, Larry, and Landon                                                                                                                              

I believe in miracles! I know that men who can converse with God walk the earth today just as they did when Jesus Christ lived. I know that if we are striving to live a life close to the Savior, we too can receive personal revelation. I believe there is much to learn from tragedy and strife. Sometimes difficulties are the only things that make us rely on and cling to a Father in Heaven. I pray for the people in Chile, that they can rebuild their beautiful country, that lives will be spared, and that Heavenly Father will watch over and protect them in these difficult times. I pray for more miracles and I pray that we recognize the miracles that come.

This letter has circled the world! On Sunday I found out that it had been published in my congregation's newsletter, and I wasn't the one who'd submitted it! Today, an old friend emailed me this beautiful poem she had written for a class, patterned after one by Tennyson, and inspired by the events in Lisa's letter. It so wonderfully expresses the experience that I wanted to share it. I hope it's okay with Amy that I'm posting it here:

Los Preparados

-Amy Burton Moore

A gasp at four a.m., a dream ---
So real --- a clear voice it did seem
With warning firm and prompting deep!
She woke her husband from his sleep.

“To each of them, we must declare
It’s imminent; we must prepare.”
Thus both began with urgency
One hundred seventy-one to see.

A plan to meet, a plan to bring
A pack of every needful thing.
“Each servant of the Lord prepare,
Then bless each dwelling place with prayer.”

Two short weeks passed, then dark event ---
The heaving highways crack cement,
A screeching howl, tumultuous noise,
Proud buildings topple like mere toys.

Objects hurling left and right ---
Chaotic temblor through the night ---
But though destruction rages, hear:
“Thou art prepared, thou shalt not fear.”

Mid screams beseeching for God’s grace,
Cities crumble, surge, displace.
Power immense blasts from the crust
Of shifting plates in mighty thrust.

Towering waves devour the shore
And weeping men their God implore
To halt destruction in its path ---
Force raging earth to cease its wrath!

The hundred seventy and one
Ask humbly that God’s will be done.
“iUn milagro!  Dios nos ha preparado ---
Afirmamos que El nos ha salvado.”

Their faith in God, in Him prepared,
The hundred seventy-one are spared.
Though quaking perils ’round them came,
They feared but God and called His name.

And He their mortal cries did hear
And thus prepared, they did not fear.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

just for fun

Because I haven't posted in a while, I thought I'd post a snapshot 
of life at our home tonight. (I'm gonna miss this one day, right?)

We had tuna melts for dinner,
read the scriptures for a minute,
watched survivor together while eating Dill flavored sunflower seeds,
(and Kolby fell asleep,)
then Kenyon did the dishes,
Kaden turned in early because he got up at 6am to play bball with Dad,
Kyler got his story in,
Dad left for a late bball game,
and now the house is quiet...it's just Dax and me...

Life is good. I know it's cliche, but I am blessed.