This I Believe«
This essay was written for an assignment but was modified and submitted to NPR¶s This I Believe podcast. I believe that nothing in life truly takes us by surprise. One day a co-worker said to me, ³This may sound strange but I have a weird feeling.´ I asked, ³What kind of feeling?´ ³I feel anxious, full of anticipation for something.´ ³Yeah?´ I asked. ³Have you had this feeling before?´ ³Yeah. The last time I felt this way, my brother got in a car accident.´ I replied, ³I believe that in life nothing really takes us by surprise. We are given hints or small indications of the things that are about to happen: the good and the bad.´ ³Yeah, it¶s something like our intuition.´ ³Yeah. It¶s that µgut feeling.¶ It never lies.´ I said, ³We just tend to ignore it.´ She nods. ³What are you going to do about it?´ Before she could answer, a customer asks her a question and our conversation ends. I haven¶t had time since that discussion to see if something ever became of that feeling. But I wouldn¶t doubt that something happened even it was small and she hasn¶t felt the ramifications yet. In my life I have noticed that it is only when I look back, that I realize the signs or indications of things to come were all there, I just didn¶t see them for what they were. One significant example of these, hints or feelings, I have seen in my life is in regards to the places I have attended college. In high school my friends and I had driven to a football game in a neighboring town that had a university in it. Of the four of us in the car three were going to go to that university but I was determined not to, but there had also always been a fear or feeling that I would end up there. I mumbled, ³I don¶t want to go there but I have a feeling I will end up there.´ My friend, Mary, heard me and said, ³Don¶t sound so depressed. It¶s a good school.´ A year later I attended a university four hours from home. Two years later, after various incidents that I hadn¶t seen at the time as hints to my
future, I found myself at that university I had said I didn¶t want to go to. When I saw Mary on campus she asked, ³You were right. How did you know?´ I shrugged my shoulders and said, ³I don¶t know« I just did.´ I have had friends tell me I am psychic but I know I am not. It just that sometimes I am able catch the subtle hints that life gives us. I believe that if we were to pay closer attention to our surroundings, to our thoughts and to our ³gut feelings´ we would be better prepared to face whatever comes our way because we would already know that it was coming; be it good or bad.
This story was written with the idea that everyone has a story. The assignment was to find a random student from the student directory and write a story about them. I found Travis Mowery and this is his story. ³ If you don¶t like it you can always change back,´ said Travis Mowery¶s mother in response to him becoming a Mormon. It has been seven years. Travis still hasn¶t gone back. Travis¶s journey toward the church began the summer before his senior year of high school when some of his close friends went to Young Life camp at Wild Horse Ranch. Young life is a camp for kids to go have fun and learn about Christ. Travis¶s high school basketball coach, Tyler Satterquaite, also went to the camp and spoke about the mistakes he had made in life but also about prayer, how he found Christ and the happiness that came with those discoveries. ³I thought, wow we can pray,´ said Travis. Satterquaite said that if they wanted to find Christ they could pray to find him. ³So I prayed,´ Said Travis. He went into a field and prayed that, ³If God had a true church where is it at? If it is true to lead me to it. Then I forgot about it.´ Almost a year later, while Travis was fixing his friend Kara¶s car, her father invited Travis back for a barbeque. Kara¶s father was a bishop and had invited the missionaries to the barbecue as well. Travis told the missionaries, ³I don¶t have anything against learning but don¶t expect me to become a Mormon.´ By the second discussion the missionaries had asked Travis if he wanted to be baptized. Travis said no; however, he did tell the missionaries if they had to report to someone and it made them look better they could write down a date. That summer Travis¶s friend invited him to go on a trek. ³He said it was like camping but we just wore old clothes and bonnets,´ said Travis, ³It wasn¶t just a camping trip.´ During the trek¶s testimony meeting, ³I thought, wow, why do I feel so good right now, happy, peaceful?´ Looking back now at how he felt Travis said, ³There is no way to feel that and have it not be true. No way can Satan make you feel that way. He cannot duplicate peace.´ He was baptized after the trek in the summer of 2003. After Travis¶s baptism he had a dream that he was baptized and everything that had led up to that point. He woke up wondering what had
happened and realized what he had dreamt had really happened but wondered how he had become Mormon. ³I was taken back to the field´ said Travis, ³and I felt peace.´ Travis had found God¶s church and God had lead him to it. Travis came to BYU-Idaho in 2004, he was only able to stay for two semesters before he became sick with an internal infection. He spent the next eight months at home, in Boring, Oregon, going to doctors and specialists, none of which were able to help him. It was not until Travis changed his eating habits that he started to get better. ³Your body is made up of everything that you eat,´ said Travis. He began eating more vegetables, consuming organic products and eliminating hydrogenated foods. As a result Travis got better and he was also able to help his mother when she diagnosed with leukemia and help his father with his arthritis. During the course of his illness, Travis was able to reach the time when he was eligible to go on his mission. ³I told God that if he made me better, I would go on a mission. I wanted to do what he wanted me to do.´ Travis came back to school determined to do what he needed to including: setting up an internship, his semester tracks, money and preparing for a mission. Upon returning to BYU-Idaho Travis tried to go on a mission but couldn¶t because he had braces. It seemed that everything was stopping him from going but by the end of the year everything fell into place, and he had his call to Anaheim California, Spanish speaking. His prayers had been answered again. In Travis¶s MTC district there was an Elder Wootan from Korea. Elder Wootan also had a sister who was on a mission to Portland, Oregon. Boring, Oregon, where Travis, is from is 20 miles outside of Portland. While in California, Travis received an email from his mother asking if he knows an Elder Wootan because she knows his sister, Sister Wootan. Sister Wootan taught Travis¶s parents while he was on his mission and they were baptized. Before Travis left he had been told that his going on a mission would soften his parents hearts about the church. Travis¶s mother had said, ³ If you don¶t like it you can always change back.´ When Travis came back from his mission they were the ones that had changed. They had changed with him.
How To Live In Organized Chaos
This is column about the idea that chaos can be organized. ³Hey where is your tanning card?´ asked Sandra coming into my room. From my bed I tell her, ³It¶s on my desk.´ Sandra steps towards the desk and asks ³Where?´ It¶s apparent she is not sure where to start looking. My desk is covered in papers. Beneath the papers random items can be seen, chap-stick, deodorant, an I-pod cord, coins, container of floss, glasses, hair ties, nail polish, pencil sharpener, camera, scotch tape, container of blank CD¶s and a Frisbee from Saturday¶s party. ³It should be by the family picture behind the pack of film.´ She looks at me confused, ³Where?´ ³In the corner. Just move those papers around and you should find it.´ Hesitating, she begins to move some papers around and in no less than five seconds she has the tanning card in hand. ³How did you know that was there?´ ³Because that is where I put it.´ That is the key to living in chaos, keeping it organized. Always know where you put things and always deliberately put things next to objects that don¶t move. For example: no matter how messy my desk is I always no that the card will either be next to my lamp or next to the family picture and not matter what it covering the card I know it is always there. This same idea is true of shoes. If you are not lucky enough to have a shoe rack but you simply have to throw your shoes on the floor, be consistent as to where you throw certain types of shoes. You could throw your tennis shoes in the far right corner, throw your dress shoes just to the right of them, sandals or flip-flops can go just below the tennis shoes and all other shoes below or beside the flip-flops. It may look like a mess and pairs of shoes may not be right next to each other but you know they are within a foot or so of one another because you threw them in that general direction. Keys may sometimes be a bit of problem for individuals who live in organized chaos but again the rule of always deliberately putting things next to things that don¶t move. Lets say for some reason you just drop your keys onto the floor whenever you come home. As long as you drop your keys in the same place on floor you will have no problem. Some good places would
be next to your desk, at the end of your bed or near the doorway (near the doorway can be dangerous because you risk stepping on them but even than you will always have reminder of where you put them.) Many do not recognize that living well in organized chaos takes quite a bit of skill because you have to remember exactly how the chaos is organized. But ask anyone who lives in organized chaos and they will tell you that it is easier than actually having to remember where exactly you put your keys because there are always in the same round-about spots.
The Real Teacher
This article was written as an extra credit assignment and was later submitted to the New Era magazine. It was my seventh week as an EFY counselor. I was mentally, spiritually, emotionally and physically exhausted, but I was grateful for every moment. I didn¶t expect to learn from those I was supposed to be teaching. During my last week of EFY, I learned my greatest lesson from a seventeen year-old girl. The first day I met my girls I began the spiel about the rules for EFY, including the dress code and what was expected of them. At the end of my spiel, I ask the girls to share why they are at EFY. The ten new girls gave a variety of answers, but the answer that worried me the most came from Jenny, ³I am here for games night. This is my fifth year and my group always wins Spunity (Spirit/Unity). We are going to win this year.´ As a counselor this attitude worried me because I feared she might not get the full spiritual experience. Through the rest of Monday and Tuesday, Jenny was hard at work motivating the group to win Spunity. Wednesday morning I went to my girls¶ apartment and the feeling in the room was somber. I figured it was seven a.m.; it was a bit early. Before morning devotional, Jenny tells myself and rest of the girls what happened last night. Jenny had taken a challenge I had given them during devotional. The challenge was to pray and not end the prayer until you got an answer. Jenny took the challenge and the result was calling her long time boyfriend, who was a nonmember and breaking up with him. In one night she made a life changing decision and had gained a slightly new perspective and goals in life. After that morning, something seemed to change within her. I watched as she listened to speakers and devotionals that she was taking the gospel in and processing it. Her perspective was changing and she knew what she needed to do but she also knew how hard it would be once she went home. During the banquet on Friday, after they announced the Spunity award (we didn¶t win), Jenny turned to me and said, ³This is the first year I haven¶t won Spunity and I don¶t care. This has been my best week of EFY.´ As a counselor you get many opportunities to witness kids come to EFY and embrace the gospel and you can see them change everyday and everyday
you pray that they keep even a portion that spirit and perspective once they return home. I realized that EFY is an inspired program and that the session directors and EFY staff are all inspired as to what they needed to teach, but the Spirit is the real teacher. As teachers, leaders and counselors in the gospel of Jesus Christ, we are merely cheerleaders and instruments in the hands of the Lord.