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Tuesday, November 25, 2008

A peek into my nerdy side ;)

I don't know why, but I can never sleep before plane trips! Roughly 8 hours from now, I need to head for a flight that will take me to the East Coast. I love the East Coast, and especially love spending time at my grandparents place in small Magnolia, Delaware. Their house has been the same my entire life, and the comfort of it all just excites me! I look forward to the smell of cantaloupe in the morning, liquid dial on my hands after playing with my grandfather's beagle puppies, counting all the scary faces in the "knotty-pine room", and eating Apple-Butter on every piece of breakfast toast :) This is my first trip to Delaware in the Fall/Winter, first Thanksgiving with my mom's family, and a rare chance to spend time with my 6 year old brother--I'm so pumped! :)

The adrenalin rush leaves me slightly antsy and bored, waiting here at home for the adventure to start! To kill time, I'm blogging a bit. The random thoughts today are a slight peek into my nerdy side :) I have a slight fascination with history--not war (since this is all the History Channel really shows during the day, SO created by boys, for boys), but the stories of people, understanding them, and what made them tick. I guess it's what made me choose Fam History as a minor and Psychology as a Grad student!

My latest interest has been in studying the lives of women leaders. I have simultaneously been reading 2 books: a book about 5 queens of Europe who were granddaughters of Queen Victoria; The other book is a collection of biographies of each of the LDS General Relief Society presidents, since the days of Emma Smith in Nauvoo (who, I've learned, was 5 ft. 9 in--my height!--and a year and a half older than Joseph. Yay for tall, older women everywhere! lol :). It's been interesting reading of such influential women living during similar periods of world history. The Queens of Russia, Romania, Norway, Greece, and Spain each struggled to nobly play their part in a world speeding towards the first World War. Many stumbled, and though some had great religious faith, the tragedies of life had harmful consequences on their personalities and choices. On the other hand, the biographies of the RS presidents are filled with individualized tragic events...all of which deepened their ability to care for and lead others. Interesting difference a Gospel perspective and its comfort can make.

For whatever reason, since 6th grade, I have been fascinated with the Romanov family of Russia. I vividly remember Mrs. S..something dramatically telling the story of this ruling family, and the creepy Rasputin that pretty much helped bring down their reign, and destroy their family. The movies of Anastasia (both the old Yule Bryner one, and the newer animated one), only fueled my curiosity to know more of the story. I've read the articles over the years, disproving that Anastasia actually made it out of her family's massacre alive. And yet...I'm still so interested in this story!

This interest has been peaked again with reading Born to Rule, as it follows the life of Alix, more well-known as Tsarina Alexandra, wife of Tsar Nicholas II, and mother of Anastasia. All I really knew of her is that she was the woman who brought Rasputin into history in a desperate attempt to help the health of her son. During my many hours of spare time substitute "teaching", I've read more of the depth of this woman, and can't help but pity the sad ending of her family, which was her highest priority. She had a deep faith, even refusing for years to marry her long-time love because she knew she would have to convert to a different religion (the Roman Orthodox Church). She finally did so, only feeling peace in feeling that her life was meant to help inspire her husband to rule Russia, and that God would approve of her conversion to do this, thus serving Him. Once committed to something, she threw her whole self into it.

The marriage she had with her husband is such an inspiration, and quite romantic! They were one of the few royals really dedicated and faithful to each other. They pulled together through everything, and joyfully raised a family together. She forever reminded her husband that in her eyes, his great accomplishment was being the type of husband and father he was, not being Tsar of Russia.

I've felt like I connect with this woman--we have similar personalities, depths, passion, reservations, priorities, etc. It's interesting to see her reaction to the people however, and their reaction to her. Some things, I almost feel I take as a warning not to become, while others I take comfort in relating to a woman who I can really understand. Some great quotes from her letters to family:

"We have so much to do in our short sojourn on this earth; such manifold tasks for all of us to accomplish. What joy if any small way we can help another wanderer bear his heavy cross or give him courage to battle bravely on! how many faults we have to try and master-the hours seem too scarce in which to fulfill all our tasks."--11 Jan 1903

"What sorrow this life does bring, what great trials and how difficult to bear them patiently...suffering always draws one nearer to God, does it not, and when we think what Jesus Christ had to bear for us, how little and small our sorrows seem in comparison, and yet we fret and grumble and are not as patient as He was." --26 April 1894

Well, this topic has made me tired enough to actually get some sleep :)

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Adventures in Babysitting...uh, I mean Substitute Teaching!

So, after my 2nd time of subbing at a high school that Dangerous Minds (or Coach Carter, Freedom Writers, o Stand & Deliver--take your pick!) could have been based off of, I've decided I need to write down a few of the "adventures" I have been having lately with my latest career choice!

I signed up to work with a company that promised daily jobs, and that they would even give me the choice of valley-wide schools to work for each day. I knew I was in trouble however when the over-chatty government worker handed me my substitute teaching certificate and said, "Boy! We've been getting a lot of you guys lately, more than usual! Must be the economy these days....". She was right! Jobs have been scarce, giving me only a few opportunities a week (if that) to work. So when a job actually comes along...you take it!

This level of desperation has led me to accept jobs across the valley...and when I say across, I mean ACROSS. NW Glendale, Laveen, Southwest Phoenix, you name it...I've driven the 45 minutes to get there BEFORE rush hour starts. At most of these schools, I have found myself to be the minority, both in race, religion, and sometimes even sexual-orientation. The teaching method of most schools I have been in, is to hand the children busy-work. I come in, all ready to read stories, lead lessons, and make learning fun (that's the educational background I have), only to hear a grumpy teacher bark out in broken English, "Get your books out 1st grade! Copy them, word for word, 5 times! No talking!". All fun is then zapped from my job, as I then have to become Miss Meany, the No-Noise Monitor. Boo!

Of course, not all experiences have been like this. For the most part, I have found children starved of positive attention & a kind word. In situations like the above, I suddenly feel like the Florence Nightingale of substitute teachers, as I quietly go from child to child, looking at their work, and complimenting them each for something specific. I LOVE seeing the smiles light up their faces from the encouragement. Some class personalities allow me to do this, others don't. Today's for instance, really didn't. In fact, with most of the kids bigger than me and already of a legal age, I was pretty sure at a few points they were just going to beat me up. They were already partly doing it on each other anyways. The language out of their mouths was....graphic, to say the least,both in words used and subject matter talked about, and the non-motivated attitudes epitomized what you would only expect to find in a made-up teenager on sit-com TV. Needless to say, after an attempt at conversation with the student counsel led to questions about if I'd ever #(*%&@?! been to *@(#*&% Chip N Dale's, like the girl turning 18 next week was doing, I stuck to reading the book I brought and counted down the hours for normalcy to return to my life!

A few days ago, I had a profound experience that, if for nothing else, can surely b used in a talk one day on the importance of not labeling others. I had a class of 6th graders who had not yet had a stable teacher (i.e. 4 months of subs!). All were actually pretty good kids, and I was left with an open day to fill with my own creativity (YES!) Pretty soon however, my creative genius was thwarted by a few ruffians in the back. Godfrey, Rammon (who also went by both Juan and RJ throughout the day), Jason, and Daniel...for some odd reason, some teacher, somewhere, had thought it a bright idea to stick all these little hooligans together at one table. They were rude, distracting, loud, disruptive, and even at times, physically harmful to both others & themselves. They refused to follow any instruction, and often just ht the floor and stated making baby sounds if I tried to address them one-on-one. Needless to say, was not amused and authoritative Ms. Alamo came out, yelling a few choice instructions.

Lunch time came, and to no one's surprise, this table of future-criminals were left, not yet dismissed due to unfollowed directions. I seized the opportunity to calmly go into a stern spiel about their behavior being unacceptable. Two sentences into my discipline however, the thought came that if I continued to treat the boys as outlaws, their behavior would remain that way throughout the day. So instead, I heard my voice change and the words come out, "Hey, I know you guys are good kids....you are GOOD KIDS. I know that. I can be the nicest teacher you've ever had, or one of the meanest. It's really up to how you choose to behave. Please don't make me be mean, I want to be nice today. Can you all help me with this?" heads nodded. "Good. Should we start over when you guys get back?" this time, I heard a few "Yeah"'s come from them. I took a deep breath of encouragement, and dismissed them.

I'm not going to say the rest of the day with these kids was easy...getting them to quietly read took about 20 minutes of patient (and sometimes stern) coaching to get away from each other. But the minute I saw even one of them actually LOOKING at a book page, I ran over and thanked them for the good job they were doing. I did this with each one of them (minus Daniel who was...MIA for some odd reason). Pretty soon, I was able to go back to this group of boys and tell them they were currently the most well-behaved group in the whole class. They were ALL on task and working hard. The boys looked at each other and laughed, saying, "Yeah, THAT'S never happened before! We usually only get yelled at." Daniel did eventually come back, and even annoyed the boys that he only wanted to play not work. He unfortunately was eventually sent to the office to spend the rest of the day (A first for me!), but it did solve the problem.

Godfrey, a little african-american boy, especially soaked up any little praise I gave him about the work he was doing. He went from the little boy that morning threatening to cut his wrists, to intently writing two paragraphs about his thoughts on school. The real reward came when he told me, "Ms. Alamo? You're nicest substitute I ever had. I ain't never liked a substitute, but I like you!" :) Pretty big compliment coming from a boy I'd been snarling at only that morning!

Alas, the day did not end happy. The permanent teacher appeared in the class during the last 5 minutes, along with a neighboring teacher. The neighboring teacher immediately said, 'Want to know who the angels and devils are? I'll tell you!" he then systematically went around the room, pointing to each child and labeling them as "Angel". He got to Godfrey--sweet Godfrey!, who looked hopefully up at the teacher's pointed finger--and said, "This one? This one is a devil! You better watch him! He's not like the others!" He then pointed to Rammon/RJ/Juan and said the same thing. I watched Godfrey's face just fall at the label given to him in front of his brand new teacher. I was standing next to Rammon at the time, who I heard say, "Man, that's messed up! I mean, i can be bad, but I can be real good too! I've got two sides of me! I'm not always bad, mannnn!!", Godfery too was mumbling in disgust and looked at me, 'But I was good today, right ms. Alamo?", to which I affirmed, and tried to high-five him a few times for the job well done before he left.

What on EARTH, gives a man the right to make someone else feel the way I saw Godfrey feel? Who on EARTH employed that man to shape young minds?! I was so mad that day as I left, feeling like with one loud, imposing label, this man had undermined all the progress I had made with the boys that day. Positive Reinforcement had actually worked on some pretty tough kids seeking any kind of attention they could get.

It made me think though--people really do tend to live up to the labels we give them (or, the expectations set for them). Or, as my roommate so poignantly put it, "it's easier to believe the bad stuff people tell us about ourselves. So, if they say that's who we are...we'll believe them. And we seldom disapoint." Is it any wonder then, that from an early, impressionable age, the church teaches us we are a "Child of God"? How wonderful is that? :) We are labeled the highest honor that can be given to a creation on this planet--His child. The expectations are set, the destination high, yet achievable. I'm so grateful for the kind encouragement we get from an all-knowing God, who knows our potential, and encourages us to that point, instead of punishing us for not yet being there.

So, with all this in mind, I have accepted a position at Keystone Montessori ( http://www.keystonemontessori.com/ ), a school that believes in quiet, patient encouragement of the child. After thinking about it, it seems more like the method our Heavenly Father uses in our spiritual upbringing..and one I would like to develop more myself. I start in January! I'm looking forward to the challenge of learning new methods. Honestly...I'm SO excited about this position! Reasons I'm excited:

--the diverse group of students have such an attitude that instead of being labeled a "minority school", it feels more like a "culturally diverse school" (meaning, they actually look me in the eye and don't try and make me feel guilty for being born how I was born.) Culture becomes a celebration that enhances the learning environment, instead of a label.

--They teach Spanish! Yay, I get to tutor in Spanish!

--I'll work with a teacher from Vera Cruz, Mexico...who already knows I'm Mormon that served as a missionary in south America, and she's asked a question or two :) Oh...and she hates having to run by a watch as much as I do :)

--My job will be to specifically work one-on-one with each child to monitor their progress...my forte.

--I am in charge of "Individual Fieldtrips"--meaning taking different kids to the public library, or to go get more "frog food" from the local petstore. How fun is that? Random breaks in the routine are fun to me :)

--We do art! And there's a heavier focus on Science than in most schools.

--And the ring-dinger of them all: Free trip to Washington DC! :) Apparently a "class field trip" in this school means taking 26 pre-teens to the US Capital! Or Pennsylvania...apparently the kids haven't decided yet :)

Until next time blog-readers! :)

Monday, November 3, 2008

Stake Conferance Talk

This past Saturday I had the opportunity to speak at Stake Conferance (kind of a joint gathering of many LDS Single Adult congregations). My greatest fear was that I would not end by my 5:45 pm cut-off time limit, thus cutting into President Barney's talk. My time-allotment was extended to 15 minutes, and I ended right on time (phew!!!:) I loved the other talks given, and learned a lot in preparing one myself. Overall, I really loved the experience!

Two weeks ago during a stake Rodeo dance, our 2nd Counselor, President Skinner (who BTW is awesome--he dressed up as dwight from The Office for Halloween!) pulled me aside and asked if I would speak. He told me he felt impressed to let me pick my own topic, and wanted me to think it over. That's when I felt true intimidation from an assignment! I jotted down some ideas, but during sacrament meeting, one idea stood out clearly in my mind. I've learned to start trusting those clear first impressions, so I went with it! The thoughts that came to my mind after, and the scriptures that accompnied them have touched my heart. I wanted to share some of the insights here, in hopes that they might touch another heart as well. Because I didn't have time, I didn't go into as much detail at the pulpit as I had written down when the thoughts first came. Here I'm going to expand though... :) ***Note: I recommend either turning the sound off, or scrolling down to the bottom and choosing "Nearer, My God to Thee" by Lex de Azevedo to listen to...George Strait & Rob Thomas just don't seem like really approrpriate back-ground music for this! :)***

LUKE 22:32 "When Thou art converted, strengthen thy bretheren"
D&C 108:7 "Therefore, strengthen your brethren in all your conversations, in all your prayers, in all your exhortations, and in all your doings."

I have noticed the theme of many conferance talks lately have been pep talks about enduring trials and hard times. This theme strikes a chord with singles. During this time, our testimonies are being tested & tried--by the world, by peers, & even sometimes by family. We are in a stage of life where we have gained independance from parents, but not quite moved on to co-dependance with a companion. We can experience some of the toughest "trials" during this period because we are dealing with matters of the heart. We cannot hide from lonliness or the sadness this can sometimes bring in quiet hours. We often cannot escape the sorrows of broken hearts. During this time of choosing our Eternal Companion, it is a time of trial & error, learning & growth, highs & lows. These years though, are so vitally essential to our eternal development. We cannot escape them, nor should we.

However, the thought kept coming to me was not to speak about how to get ourselves through our own trials, but instead to focus on how we can help others through their trials. Why should we strengthen our brethren? And how do we do it?

Why do we have trials?
I had an experience in the temple over the summer. I had a simple desire to go, but no driving reason: I was at peace in my life and very happy. It seemed like just a normal temple visit. However, for a reason I did not understand at the time, my mind was opened during the temple session, and it was as if I had a teacher sitting beside me showing me each trial in my life, and what specific thing I had learned from that trial. I was filled with understanding, even to the point of complete gratitude as I began to see each "trial" as a true blessing in my life. They became blessings because I saw how they each brought me to the point of happiness I am at today.
At the end of this out-pouring of instruction, I realized that each sorrow in my life had carved out a hole in my heart, that (when I allowed) the Savior had been able to fill with his love. I began to understand that these trials had helped me grow in my capacity to feel compassion and the Savior's love towards others. I wondered why I had received such instruction right then?

A couple of weeks later, I was called to be Relief Society President. It was shared with me that while I was sharing my testimony of the above experience, both the Bishop and his 1st counselor knew I was to be called. I now found myself caring for the welfare of 120 young women, the majority of which were much younger than me...and all of which were going through the struggles of single's life. I have since thought back to that temple experience many times, and drawn upon the memories of my own "trials" as I have tried to offer compassion and comfort to sisters in the ward.

I remember having a discussion with a mission companion once, who felt she had had no major trials in life. (I personally think this was just her eternal optimism showing thru! :) As we heard story after sad story of the hard-times going on in investigator's lives, she often felt it was hard to relate, and felt she lacked the words of comfort to offer...to the point that she felt not having "trials" had been a trial in her life! I have found now that I am greatful to be able to remember past trials & the ways I wanted to be comforted, when approaching sisters now that are going through the same thing.

We often wonder what Heavenly Father wants us to learn & gain from a trial as we go through them. I have come to believe that we pass through some trials to prepare us to serve others who will pass through the same. The Savior experienced the greatest "trial" of His life in Gethsemane, so that he could know how to comfort each of us in our hour of need.

Two stories came to mind to illustrate this. I only had time to share 1 in conferance though. I think the other was just to help cement the concept in my mind :)

Story #1) My first week on the mission was a major culture-shock. Mainly with the amount (or lack of) food we ate. I went from eating 3 hearty meals a day in the MTC, to 1 cup of rice a day in the mission field. We walked all day with a bag over one shoulder. I understood nothing of the language. I was exhausted, bored, and constantly hungry. I questioned a million times why I had come out to a country clear on the bottom tip of the worldb where I knew NO ONE, just to smile at people all day and starve to death! I felt miserable, and one night while praying, just could not take it anymore. I remember the hunger pains cutting so deep that I began to cry...I think the exhaustion is what kept me crying. In this moment of complete dispair, forcably came into my mind the words, "I will not leave you comfortless!". My crying abrubptly stopped, and a peace of pure comfort spread through my body, like a warmth, and made my whole body tingle. I basked in it! I later found that the verse was from John 14:18. (I also discovered a grocery store within a few days and solved the lack of food problem :). The experience was a turning point for me--from that point on, I knew I was where the Lord needed me to be, and that He would not leave me alone to do His work. The Savior became a very personal friend to me in that moment. It made me wonder though, how was he able to comfort me so completely? How was he able to extend that loving hand of mercy in my hour of need?

Story #2) Fourteen months later, during my very LAST week of the mission, my question was answered. The elders had handed us an investigator who had already received a first lesson. We went in to teach her the second, and she was clearly not that interested. She had her own religion and felt satisfied, she said. She had invited us in to be open-minded, and because her father had just passed away and she wanted the comfort of prayers said in her house. She invited us back, so I went to leave her the typical reading assignment from the Book of Mormon. Into my mind came the thought, "leave her Alma chapter 7 to read". My face scrunched up in confusion--Alma 7 is a bold invitation to be baptized. This woman was not ready for that, it made no sense. I ignored the thought, and left her a light-and-fluffy neutral passage about faith instead.
My very last day--in fact my very last hour as a missionary with an assigned area, we stopped by her house for a follow-up visit. I had been invited to dine with a dear friend and neighbor to bid farewell, and was tempted to reschedule the appointment. Something though pulled at my heartstrings with this woman, and I had to go visit her. We followed-up with her regarding the passage, and she kind of blew it off, saying she had read it, but it was nothing new. After a while, she confessed to us with painful eyes and heartfelt words that she believed her father was in a better place, and that she believed she would see him again one day. That did not, however, change the hurt she was feeling right now at loosing him. She wanted comfort.
Again, even stronger this time, came into my mind Alma chapter 7. I flipped it open, and saw that the verses about baptism were indeed verses 13 & 14, but the verses the Spirit wanted me to share with her were verses 11 & 12 that speak of the Savior Jesus Christ:
"And he shall go forth, suffering pains and afflictions and temptaions of every kind; and this that the word might be fulfilled which saith he will take upon him the pains and the sicknesses of his people.
"And he will take upon him death, that he may loose the bands of death which bind his people; and he will take upon him their infirmities, that his bowels may be filled with mercy, according to the flesh, that he may know according to the flesh how to succor his people according to their infirmities"

In Greek, the word for bowels means "the tender affections of the heart; compassion". So, if we substitute that in, the scripture says, "he will take upon him their infirmities, that the tender affections of his heart may be filled with mercy..." I love that!

I then testified to that dear woman that she had a personal Savior, who had not only died and been resurected so that she may one day see her father again, but he had also suffered through her present afflictions. He had taken them upon himself, so that he could now fully comfort her. A light came into her eyes as she grasped this concept, and she expressed deep gratitude in learning this new truth about the Atonement of Jesus christ. I realized in that moment, as the Spirit filled the room, that her savior loved her so much, he had sent his servents not to baptize her, but simply to help her understand that she had a Redeemer waiting to comfort her in her hour of need. 10 minutes later, I was in a taxi, and starting my journey back to America. I will never forget the lesson I learned that day, of feeling the intense love and compassion God has for each of his children. I knew in that moment that He knows us each individually, and what we are going through. He stands ready, waiting for us to turn to Him for the strength and comfort we need to pass through trials. [note: Mosiah 3:7-9 also illustrates this point: "And lo, he shall suffer temptations, and pain of body, hunger, thirst, and fatigue, even more than man can suffer...And lo, he cometh unto his own that salvation might come unto the children of men even through faith on his name."]

I came to understand during those last tender moments as a missionary, that Christ suffered physical, mental, and spiritual trials in order to have the capacity for the kind of compassion that leads to mercy. He fulfilled the law of justice with his death, but he is able to extend the hand of mercy to us because of the deep compassion he has for each of us. I am forever greatful for that compassion!

The concept that really struck me while preparing this talk is that through baptism, we have covenanted to take upon us the Name of Christ, to become like him, and to "mourn with those that mourn, yea, and comfort those that stand in need of comfort" (Mosiah 18:9). If we are truly to become like the Savior, we must have the capacity to comfort & strengthen others in their time of need. How do we extend that comfort to others, when we have not yet gained the capacity to do so? Trials are a catalyst to developing that capacity!

[sidenote: today while watching a biography on the life of Spencer W. Kimball, the 12th prophet of the LDS church, I learned that he lost his mother at an early age, and the older sister who then raised him died early as well. He also went through multiple health problems that should have taken his life, including throat cancer, 2 brain surgeries, and open heart surgery. In the biography, they said that these experiences deepened his compassion for the thousands of people he conuseled during his lifetime of service. He continusly drew upon them.]

How do we strengthen our brethren?
Through service! Service is to trials what advil is to a headache: it dulls the pain and allows us to feel happiness in life again! I have gotten to the point where I absolutly crave a service project when going through a difficult time, because I know it will get my mind off my own sorrows, and get me through the ordeal quicker. It's like a little eraser that just takes away the pain for a bit.

How do we serve one another in a single's ward setting?
1) Magnify our callings! I cannot think of one single calling in the church that does not give us the opportunity to serve someone else. Every calling is designed to help us serve others, and build friendships. We can use our callings to creatively serve others, and get to know them. Our callings can be used as "excuses" to go outside our comfort zone and meet others. I used to feel funny doing this in meetings, but now have had to do it so often that i think it's odd we don't all do this more often. It's so easy to just go up to someone and say, "Hi, I work with the Relief Society and don't think I know you yet, I'm Beth. What's your name? What do you do?", or "Hi! I'm a district leader and your in my district! What was your name? Oh! Are you going to school?" etc.

2) Pray for one another. We love those we pray for and serve. It's a simple, yet profound truth. In the RS Presidency, every week we each pick out a girl to pray for that is going through a difficult time. We then will include that girl in our daily individual prayers. I have been completely amazed at the miracles I have seen happen with this simple approach! I wish I could go into more detail, but lives, hearts, and attitudes have changed the very week these individual prayers began. I have also seen a change in myself, as I have come to feel a deep love for the girl I am daily praying for. Prayer is a powerful tool we can use to strengthen one-another!

3)Practice friendshipping skills. A true friendship helps brings others to Christ. We can do that by helping others feel loved and cared for, inquiring after them and showing concern about what is going on in their lives. If we don't feel comfortable talking to people due to being shy, not knowing what to say, or simply just not really caring---practice!! Fake it till you make it. The more we practice "small talk" conversation skills, the easier it will come to us. In the church, we are to ask each other how we're doing: "And the church did meet together oft, to fast and to pray, and to speak one with another concerning the welfare of their souls" (Moroni 6:5). Initiaing friendships is a way to strengthen one another. (also I have written down here Hymn #293...I'll have to find the words later, I think it talks about friendships that bring us closer to Christ).

4) Lonely? Find some someone lonelier and make a friend :) Get invovled! Friendships are usually made outside of the 3-hour block of church. Go to FHE, do your visiting teaching/home teaching, and go to, or host your own game nights! By building these friendships, we will find opportunities to serve, thus making both us and others happier! :)

5) Speak positive words, words of affirmation. We are surrounded by "put downs" in today's media and American humor. We should be builders, not wreckers of self-esteem. Complment others. When we notice the good in them, point it out to them. It's a sure-fire way to make friends, strengthen others...and probably even get a few extra dates out of the deal :)

In closing, I read my favorite scripture. It is regarding serving our fellowman (Docterine & Covenants 81:4-5)-
"And in doing these things thou wilt do the greatest good unto thy fellow beings, and wilt promote the glory of him who is your Lord.
Wherefore, be faithful: stand in the office which I have appointed unto you; succor the weak, lift up the hands which hang down, and strengthen the feeble knees."

I then bare my testimony that I know our burdens will ligthen as we serve others, and strengthen one another. I bear testimony that there is a Savior who knows and loves each of us, that these things are true. And close it in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

Again, I apologize for my lack of brevity, but it's what has been on my mind for 2 weeks! If you've made it this far though, I would love to hear your own thoughts and insights. My understanding of the topic has increased as people have told me the thoughts they had while I was speaking. (like that it just makes you feel 10 times better when someone knows what you're going through, and can say that). I'd really love to hear your thoughts! And....on 2nd thought...that Rob Thomas song below actually goes pretty well with this whole theme. it says "Call on me, I'll be there for you, and you'll be there for me!". Haha, no wonder I like that song so much! :)

(Added the below in 2016 after a friend posted - felt it went with this theme)