Monday, May 23, 2011

How's Ya Motha' Doin'? She's Doin' Aight!

So you know who's awesome? Elder Davis! He's such a bomb blogger, and I wanted to show off some of his skills. If you like it, check out the rest of his stuff!
Disregard that it's about mother's day!

How's Ya Motha' Doin'? She's Doin' Aight!-In our mission there is a popular question or phrase among the missionaries that we often ask each other. One missionary will ask " How's Ya Motha' Doin'?" and the other missionary will respond with "She's Doin' Aight!" I don't know how this got started or why it's stuck around in the mission but I really enjoy it because I believe it shows the importance missionaries place on their Mothers and their well being. We care deeply for our Mothers because we love and care for them so much.
    The Savior showed this same care and love for His mother, Mary, as he hung on the cross. Despite hanging on a cross and going through more than any human had ever been through before He was more worried about His mother and her well being than his own self.  As he looked down and saw his tear filled mother he called to one of his disciples and said "Behold thy mother! And from that hour that disciple took her unto his own home" (John 19: 26-27). What a great example the Savior set of how to watch for and take care of our dear Mothers.
    Another example of Mothers from the scriptures comes from the Book of Mormon. In the book of Alma we read of the 2,000 stripling warriors who, despite being young men, went into battle to protect their people. The bravery they showed was an outward expression of how well they had been taught and prepared by their Mothers to trust in the Lord. They said "they had been taught by their mothers, that if they did not doubt, God would deliver them." and that they did not doubt their Mothers knew it (Alma 56:47-48). They knew that if they trusted in their Mothers and the Lord all would be well. 
   Likewise if it wasn't for the mothers of the missionaries in this mission and the love and care they show us, and their diligence and determination to prepare us to serve our Lord we would never be the missionaries we are today. I'm grateful for all my Mother has done for me. She has instilled her trust and devotion to our Heavenly Father in me and this helps me better serve Him every day. God be thanked for the matchless gift of Mothers. Have a Happy Mother's Day. Love you Mom!

Saturday, May 21, 2011

My Jersey Sponsor

Soccer... that's right, I'm doing it again.
Soccer is a unique sport, in many ways, but right now I'm going to focus specifically on the jersey. Look at any team in the EPL, and you won't see what you see on, say, an NFL jersey. NFL you see the team name or city/state they're from with the number on the front, then the last name and number on the back. EPL, you'll see a company on the front, with a small shield on the left chest with the team name and logo, then on the back you'll see the name and number. This is also seen in many (though not all, yet) MLS teams. Why is that? Honestly, I'm not entirely sure, but there are some pretty cool looking ones out there. Each team is represented by someone different. Several of the teams are so big, and their partnerships have been with them for so long, that they become seemingly synonymous. I mostly think of Chelsea and Samsung, and Arsenal and Fly Emirates (the same used to be said of Liverpool and Carlsberg and Manchester United and AIG, but they've recently changed). Well, usually you'll only see one company in a league, but you do see Rangers and Celtic (huge rivalry) both sponsored by Carling in the Scottish League. But, you'll never see an English team with their town written on their jersey, it'll always be a company. The MLS is slowly working towards that, with a majority sporting some kind of company.
As a missionary, a very noticeable part of my outfit is my nametag. On my shirt pocket over my left chest, or on the lapel of my jacket, still on the left side, you'll see a small black plaque that reads:



It is such an honor to be wearing that tag, and to be able to look at it, and realize who I am, and who I represent. This tag bears two incredibly important names: my family's, and my Savior's. Those are who I'm here to represent. I am an agent for the Lord, acting in his behalf, and I am a Holbrook, here to do my family's name honor. Those are the names I bear. You won't see me without this tag. You'll always know who I am. I'm proud to be wearing this name. I have been given this honor, and am doing all I can to live up to the title I am given. This isn't just some tag you can go and buy at a store. You can't just get this by applying at the right place. This is more than a nametag: this sets me a part as a disciple of Jesus Christ, a missionary in his service. People recognize me based on this tag. This is my "sponsor". It is a great privilege to wear this, just as those on soccer teams feel it a privilege to wear "Samsung" or "FxPro" or "Chang". I have the best sponsor ever! 

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Iron Man, only Better!

Iron Man is rather unique in the realm of superheroes. He himself doesn't have superpowers, but his big brain has granted him the ability to make incredible things, such as a full body suit of armor complete with weaponry and the ability to fly. With this suit, he's able to become Iron Man and be a superhero, but Tony Stark himself is powerless (very similar to Bruce Wayne and Batman). We see throughout the Marvel Universe people who are inheritently super, such as those featured in the X-Men (Wolverine, Professor Xavier, Jean Grey, Magento, etc.), or at least have, through some form or (usually freak) accident, gained powers (Spider-Man, the Hulk, Captain America, etc.). But Iron Man is different, in that his powers are genetic (be they natural or enhanced). Rather than just dawning a costume of spandex when he changes from mild-mannered alter-ego (if you can consider Tony Stark "mild-mannered") to superhero, he needs to put on armor; he needs to "put on" his superpowers. With that suit, he can fly, he can shoot lasers and rockets, he can shrug off bullets, he can save the world. With that suit, he's the Invincible Iron Man. He can face anything the bad guys throw at him! No villain is unconquerable to Iron Man, but, the same can't be said about the man in the suit. Without the armor, Tony Stark is just Tony Stark, your average, run-of-the-mill billionaire, genius weapons technician (like the one that everyone has living just down the street from them). Sure he's a genius, but if Iron Monger or Backlash comes at him and he's not in his suit, he's toast. Just like anyone else, he's just a man. But when he's got armor, he's Iron Man.
The same can be said for us. We're just regular people. We're weak, fallible, and easily manipulated. How are we expected to stand up to the greatest villain of all time, Satan? We don't have super strength, or the ability to fly, or teleport, or any of those other powers you see in comic books. We don't even have sweet super armor like Tony Stark... or do we? In Ephesians chapter 6, we're told about the "Whole Armor of God". "Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil." See? God doesn't just leave us unprotected; He gives us armor, just like Iron Man has. We have truth and righteousness to protect our bodies, our feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace, faith as our shield, to protect us against the fiery darts of the wicked, a helmet of Salvation, and the sword of the Spirit. That is some pretty sweet armor, right there. That's better than Iron Man's armor! To anything made by man, there is a weakness. Something someone does will be able to crack his armor or in some way disable it, and leave him vulnerable. But with God's armor, you know it's good. Nothing will be able to crack that! Not even the fiery darts of the wicked. So, be like Iron Man: put on the Whole Armor of God, and know that while you're wearing it, nothing can hurt you!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

May the Force be with You

I was hesitant to write this blog for a couple reasons: the first being that I just wrote a blog about the Priesthood yesterday, the second being I didn't want to be cliched in a post about Star Wars. But, I decided to forgo my hesitations and write it anyways. So, here's another comparison of something nerdy to the Priesthood!
The Force is awesome! Jedis can do awesome things with the force: move things, make people say what they want them to say, and have complete control over just about everything, it seems. They can see without looking, do cool acrobatics, and have lightning-fast reflexes. They've got it all! The Force is what makes them unique. Because of this power and ability, Jedis are set apart from the typical inhabitants of the galaxy. The Force can't really be explained (outside of the whole midi-chlorians living in cohabitation with your cells thing that totally ruins it). There's no deciding factor of who has the Force and who doesn't (outside of heredity). But through the force, seemingly normal people (or creatures, or whatever) can extraordinary* things. Luke Skywalker saves the entire galaxy through his mastery of the Force! Granted, it was in peril because his father misused it, but it was the Force that saved it, nonetheless!
When the evils of the world seem insurmountable, and it seems like the bad guys are the ruling force, even if there's only a handful of people willing to stand up to that evil, as long as they have the ability, the drive, and a little help from the Force, they can overcome. The Empire certainly had full control, and it seemed highly unlikely that the Rebel Alliance could defeat them, but never, ever underestimate the power of the Force!
We can take away a very important lesson from this: the bad guys will never win if we have the power, and use it correctly. We do have the power, we have the Priesthood. The Priesthood is better than the Force, or any Superpower. With it, we can help not only ourselves, but those around us. No one is exempt from the blessings and influence of the Priesthood. It doesn't matter who you are, you can benefit from it! Any worthy male, age 12 and older, has the opportunity to hold this great gift, and anyone, anywhere, of any faith, any age can receive it. So many problems, physical and spiritual, can be overcome, questions can be answered, and guidance can be given, all through your faith. A Priesthood holder is able to give blessings, and those blessings will occur in your life, dependent on your faith (yep, the Priesthood, like everything else, comes back to faith!). If we use our Priesthood well and wisely, there's no foe we can't conquer, no battle we can't win, no obstacle we can't overcome. May we always be striving to magnify our Priesthood, and using it for the betterment and advancement of the Gospel! And as always, May the Force be with you!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

The (Super)Power of the Priesthood

A pretty common origin story for superheroes/villains is the "altering substance" story. Captain America is injected with superhuman serum, same with Bane; Bruce Banner is exposed to Gamma rays, in a like manner as the Fantastic Four; Peter Parker is bitten by a radioactive spider; Doctor Connors and Norman Osbourn willingly use DNA enhancing chemicals; even rats and turtles in the New York sewers. It's see all throughout. It's a very simple way to explain how these supers got the way they were (another good way would be just "they're born with it" a la X-Men). Regular everyday people with regular everyday problems just like the ones you and I face are, because of these magical potions, turned into extraordinary people with powers to help them save the world. We can relate to their alter egos, and are enthralled by their secret identities. And all because of a little radiation? I could see that happening to me! (Disclaimer: The author of this blog in no way supports or encourages readers to expose themselves to radiation in any way, shape, or form for any reason, even to gain superpowers.) Run-of-the-mill folks, gaining amazing powers just through chance, running into something strange. Too bad it could never happen to us....
Or could it?
Recently, we've been helping a recent convert as he prepares himself to receive the Aaronic Priesthood. He's so excited to get it, and we're excited for him. It's made me really dwell on the priesthood and what, exactly, it is. I've heard it said before (because people know the best way to relate things to me is either soccer of superheroes) that the Priesthood is like a superpower. Sweet! It allows us to do so many amazing things. The Aaronic Priesthood gives us the authority to baptize and pass the sacrament, and with the Melchizedek Priesthood, we're able to confirm people and give them the Holy Ghost, as well as bless the sacrament, and give priesthood blessings. These things may not seem all that super, but if you consider the eternal significance of them, they truly are! The Priesthood is available to any worthy male member of the church, and brings great blessings to the holder and those around him. I've been blessed to have taken part in many blessings on my mission. It's amazing to feel the Spirit so strongly, or to feel the Lord working through you as you give words of comfort and counsel. The Priesthood comes the same way the Holy Ghost does, by the laying on of hands by those who are in authority. As you receive the Priesthood, you are given greater responsibilities, and people will expect more of you (hmmm... sound familiar?). We may not be able to climb walls, fly, have super strength, or anything like that, but our powers can still save the world!

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Promotions and Relegations

Avoid that feeling!
What, another soccer blog? Yes! Talk about what you know, right?
In European sports, with a focus today on the English Premier League, they have a system of relegations and promotions. In the EPL, the bottom 3 teams will be relegated to the Football League Championship, and the top 2 teams of the Football League Championship automatically get promoted to the EPL, then the next 4 compete in a playoff, the winner promoting also. It's a good way of helping out those littler teams, offering them greater advancement, and giving them a spotlight that they wouldn't be able to get. They can increase their fan base, bring in more money, and stand a better chance of getting better players and continue to improve. However, it's also kind of a slap in the face to those EPL teams who are suddenly bumped into a lower league. It really keeps you focused. Obviously no one wants to finish bottom of the table, but when the threat is leaving the league you're in and bumping down to Football League Championship, it makes it that much more meaningful (I mean, seriously, how many of you have even heard of Football League Championship?). It's got to be pretty exciting for those teams to know that they were good enough to get a shot at Premier League glory! They worked hard, and got a promotion! The possibilities are endless now: FA Cup, Carling Cup, the League, Champions League! As long as they keep their drive, work really hard, and get enough money to get the good players, all these things are possible.
We all have that chance to be promoted or relegated. We can make the right decisions, and work hard, and get to the point where we're better than we were before. We can grow and become more successful. However, once we get there, we can't just stop. We have to continue to work hard. Often you see teams getting promoted to the EPL, then the very next season get relegated back down. You can't let that happen. Once you get promoted, work hard. Do everything you can. Don't fall back into that lower level. As we progress through life, and do what we should, we'll continue to grow and become stronger. We'll have the ability to overcome trials and temptations and continue to improve. We need to be wary not to fall into the trap of complacency, because we then run the risk and losing our footing and falling. Work hard, get promoted, keep working hard, stay in the Premier League, work harder, win the League. Notice a theme there?