Growing up, I always knew that I would go to college, just as I knew I would go on a mission, get married, and have children. It was just part of the plan, and I was okay with that plan. The first hiccup in the plan came when my parents were called to preside over a mission the summer after my freshman year. Although I was initially very excited to move to Brazil, it was only a few short weeks before I was homesick. I missed friends, sports, food, extended family, and countless other things. I found myself rather miserable, just looking at everything that I was missing out on back home. After a few months of misery, I decided I was tired of it. I was in Brazil of all places; I didn't have any other place to go, so I decided I might as well enjoy it. The next few months were a very poignant contrast to the first few. I began to make new friends, eat new foods, and love the culture. It was through this experience that I found my love of change.
After a year in Brazil I, together with my parents, came to the decision that I would move back to the states and live with my grandparents for the remainder of my parent’s mission. I knew that moving back I would be going to Timpview High School in Provo. Although I had visited my grandparents almost weekly growing up, Provo was still a very foreign place to me. I had grown up in West Jordan, and the two cities separated by a mere 41 miles were very different. Gratefully I had learned how to deal with change at this point and the transition went rather smoothly. One day after a summer football practice a teammate invited me to his house to hang out. I quickly found my way into his group of friends, and I am still very close with almost everyone in that group today.
Also during this time I grew extremely close to my family. My parents and youngest brother were in Brazil, my brother was in Salt Lake, and my sister was in Idaho. Despite our different locations, we were able to stay close through webcam conversations and yearly reunions in Brazil during our Christmas breaks from school. I also was able to develop wonderful relationships with my grandparents and aunt while living with them. It was through these experiences that I found my love of good friends and family.
After a year of high school, I ran into my second hiccup, a wonderful young lady who seemed to entrance me with each move she made. I found myself wanting to spend as much time with her as possible. Although my parents and grandparents weren't too keen on the idea, I found very creative ways to see her without letting them know. Each time I would go to her house, I would reference a different member of her family when telling my grandparents where I was going. Seeing she has 10 siblings, 2 parents, and a dog, I was able to go to her house 13 times before I would have to repeat her name. Although I am sure they could see right through my fibbing, they seemed to let it slide for one reason or another. After graduation I began to think about going on a mission. Although this was in the plan from day 1, this young lady had me questioning whether or not I should go. I knew a mission would be marvelous for me, but she was pretty special too. After several long talks, she convinced me that if I were to go, things would work out as they should. It was through this experience that I learned my love for this young lady.
My mission led me once again to the wonderful country of Brazil. I was blessed to serve in an area of the world where people are very accepting of the gospel. I was blessed to see numerous miracles and many wonderful people join the church. I was able to see people completely change their lives in a very short period of time, something that is a very phenomenal occurrence. About the midway point in my mission I received a phone call from my mission president, letting me know my mother had been diagnosed with cancer. I was able to talk to her that day before she went into surgery, and her advice was to “stop worrying about (her) and get back to work”. She said the best thing I could do to help her recover was to work, and to work hard. Although my mind was almost always on my mother, I took her advice to heart, and began to work harder than I had ever done so. If my work would influence her health in any way, I was going to make sure there was no doubt that I wanted nothing less than a full recovery. Along with my work improving, my prayers also increased in frequency and fervency. It was through these experiences that I learned to rely on the Lord.
My mother’s health improved to the point that when I returned from my mission, she was in full remission. With each of our perspectives very much changed due to my mother’s health, our family grew even closer. We started finding excuses to spend time together, and every chance we could, we would plan a party or get-together. Seeing I was finally old enough to be considered one of the adults, I was able to participate in a new way. My love for my family, especially my mother, grew immensely as we spent more and more time together. It was during this time that my love for my family grew beyond what I thought possible.
As I returned from my mission in April, I had a few months before school would officially start. I had spent some time working for my friend’s dad painting houses, but I was looking for a job that would be more flexible with school. One day my father received a phone call; it was a neighbor who was looking for my little brother to come work in his warehouse. My little brother was away at youth conference that week, but my dad offered me as a replacement. I went down to the warehouse the next day, and I was given the task of moving a large pile of cardboard boxes from one location to another. It was a rather arduous task, but I had developed a great work ethic on my mission, and it carried over to this job as well. After a few weeks I was offered a part-time position, which slowly turned into a full time position. It was with this job that I learned the value of hard work.
During this same time, I once again became entranced with that young lady that took so much of my attention in high school. We began to date fairly seriously, and marriage soon started to enter our discussions. My one reservation was the thought that I hadn't had much experience dating other people. How was I to know that she was the right one? After a long conversation with my father, I decided that I needed to attend the Temple with my query. Nearing the end of the endowment, our session was stopped due to “medical emergency” in the Celestial Room. During these few minutes while I sat in silence a scripture came to mind: “I, the Lord, am bound when ye do what I say; but when ye do not what I say, ye have no promise” (D & C 82:10). I finally understood that as long as I was willing to do the right things in life, that I could be very happy with this young lady, even if I had little dating experience. I proceeded to go home, tell my family that I was going to ask her to marry me, and I headed off to buy the ring. When I presented her with the ring, and asked her to spend the rest of forever with me, she began to cry. Lucky for me, this was a good cry, and she said yes. Through this experience I learned that the Lord will direct me personally (to this day I do not know what happened in the Celestial Room to stop the session, but when I get to the other side and I can find out who it was, I am definitely going to give them a big hug).
Although I had attended BYU before my mission, my real academic learning did not start until after I got married. I finally realized that I needed to graduate someday, and I got serious about finding a major. I dabbled in almost every major in the business school, but after finding I disliked most of them, and having my application rejected to the emphasis I did enjoy, I was on the prowl again. I talked with a counselor, and after hearing a bit about my situation, she suggested Communication Studies. Whether I wanted to continue working after school, or pursue a graduate degree, the program would fit well with either plan. Although I am not naturally a great student, I had found my niche in academia. I loved being taught how to research, and I began to appreciate the idea of building off of others learning. I was exposed to the first textbook in my learning career that was actually interesting to read. It was by finding this major that I learned to love learning.
About a year after our marriage, my wife and I began to start thinking about having a child. Although we had no idea where we would get the money, or how to be parents, we had a strong feeling that the timing was right. Unfortunately, about this same time, my mother’s health began to decline again. By the time our son was born, my mother knew that her mortal existence would soon be over. The time we spent with her was always very special, and became even more so now that my wife and I had a child to bring to our gatherings. Both my mother’s health and my son’s birth made the next few months a very emotional time for me. I began to understand the love of a parent more and more each day. I also began to feel a love for my mother that I had never felt before. I had the opportunity to spend many nights with her so that my father could get a few hours of sleep. Often she wasn't able to say anything, but I was able to feel of her love. These nights were long and often difficult, especially with a full time job and school on the side, but I would not trade them for anything. My mother passed away in November of 2012, but she did so leaving no doubt with me, or any of the rest of my family, that she was off to do the work of the Lord. This time of my life taught me the importance of eternal families.
Writing these experiences down has helped me realize that I have learned a lot over the years. At the time, many of these experiences were not what I would have chosen for myself, but I now am beginning to realize the importance that they have had, and will continue to have on my life. As I continue on with my journey, I hope to always be ready and willing to learn from the experiences that are given to me.