Sunday, October 28, 2012

#82: Brazil Teresina Mission.

I have written previously about my 6'7 "little" brother, Matthew. Matthew is a great brother, but even more so, he is a great friend. We always have a good time and enjoy being together, even though I refuse to play basketball with him anymore (for obvious reasons).

Well, nothing makes me more proud than to announce that this week Matthew received his mission call to serve in the Brazil Teresina Mission! Despite my personal aversion to Brazilian cheese balls, I could not be happier for Matthew. Brazil is a perfect match for him, particularly because each summer for the last few years, my parents and Matthew have hosted Brazilian foreign exchange students in their home. Matthew has grown to love the Brazilian people (and Brazilian food!), and he feels a special connection to them.

Opening the mission call! Sorry for the "vertical video".

A couple of days ago, Matthew shared the following Facebook message with all of his Brazilian friends:

"I KNOW God sent you guys into my life to help me get prepared for my mission! You guys have been such great friends to me, and you have helped me realize that Brazilians are the best people in the world. I love you, guys! I am so excited that I get to be a part of your country for two years!"

It has been wonderful to read their responses and to realize that they are just as happy to see Matthew as he is to see them. I know that Matthew will do great things in the service of the Lord among the people of Brazil.

Congratulations, bro!
Yes, I realize he got all the good-looking genes in the family.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

#81: Puzzle Them Home.

A few weeks ago, I blogged about Jeremy and Christi Green, two of the most amazing people I have ever met. The Greens' selfless sacrifice of adopting five (and soon to be seven) disabled Chinese children is a constant inspiration to me. They are truly Christlike examples, whose priorities are focused on the things that really matter the most in life.

As you may know, one of the two new children the Greens are adopting is 12-year old Cali, who is expected to join the family from China next month. Although Cali is beautiful in every way, with a bright spirit and wonderful smile, she is also confined to a wheelchair.
Cali Rose Green
Unfortunately, the Greens' current home is not wheelchair accessible, and it will be difficult for Cali to be able to move around once she arrives. In response to this need, last month some of the Greens' good friends started a fundraiser website called Puzzle Them Home in an effort to help the Greens build a new home. Unfortunately, the progress is going slowly and it may still be some time before the Greens can afford to build. In an effort to increase the fundraising efforts, the Greens have made an adorable YouTube video (also shown below), with the hope that it will gain traction through Facebook and Twitter and catch the attention of someone influential who can make a big difference or help spread their story. By myself, I am certainly not influential and cannot make a big difference, but if anyone who reads this post would be willing to share the Greens' story or even make a donation to the family through Puzzle Them Home, it could be the start something amazing.

There is one other thing that I wanted to address. Perhaps you may be asking yourself, "If the Greens can’t afford to take care of these new kids, then why in the world are they adopting them? Don't they know when to quit?"

In her blog post today, Christi addressed these questions and explained why they are adopting Cali and Conner, even if they do not get a new home. I have stolen some of her post below (Christi, hopefully that is okay!), but you should read the whole thing by clicking here:

In our case, each time we have pursued adoption, I have come to know that it is exactly what the Lord wants us to do. I am so extremely grateful for this knowledge. It has been so important as we go through the ups and downs and highs and lows that each new child brings to our family. Knowing, without a shadow of a doubt, that we are to pursue adopting each child is of infinite worth to me. The weight that is so heavy as we prayerfully consider these children is immediately lifted when we receive that “yes” answer and accept it. (And by the way, in case you are wondering, we have received "no" answers concerning adoption as well.)

And so, as we moved forward with Cali’s and Conner’s adoptions, I let go of the things that I had worried about as we sought answers from our Heavenly Father as to whether or not to adopt. 

One of those things was (no surprise here…) having a bigger home. I stopped worrying about how we would accommodate our new additions and how Cali would get along in a wheelchair here because I knew that it was right to adopt her. I felt so much peace as I realized that Cali was infinitely better off here, in a home that isn’t equipped for a wheelchair and where we are a tight fit, than in an orphanage without a family. That realization took a huge weight off my shoulders. Getting a new home was NOT paramount to adopting her. Happy dance!!!!!

Still (sheepish smile), I wanted a new home. (; And we decided that it was a good thing to pray for—one that we felt would be the best thing for our children and bless our family in very life-changing ways.

Let me tell you what I hoped would happen with those prayers. (: I hoped that God would basically just drop down a home out of the sky and have it land on our property. I’m not really kidding here. I wanted it to be that easy. I wanted Jeremy’s side business to take off in a way that we would make like, a million dollars this year and could build our dream home. Yes… that would be very ideal!Heavenly Father decided that He would do things His own way. And HIS way is not at all MY way!!!!! My way is NOT to have a bunch of busy, wonderful mothers who have a thousand other things to do decide to put hours and hours into serving our family. My way is NOT to have PayPal buttons and requests for donations. Seriously—UGH! My way is NOT to have people who have less money than us sacrifice to build us a great big home. My way is NOT to hear of one of Graci’s friends saving up money to buy a puzzle piece (made me cry humble tears). My way is NOT to write facebook and blog posts letting people know that “Hey! Have you heard there is a fundraiser to raise money for ME?!” Hello-- embarrassing! My way is not to set up a twitter account with the sole purpose of tracking down my kids’ favorite celebrities and sheepishly asking them to tweet. My way is NOT to have a tree set up with our pictures on it at community events asking people to learn more about our family. My way is NOT to be public with this whole new house thing.

I have found that being on this “receiving” end is actually very hard. PLEASE don’t think I’m complaining—I am so grateful! But saying, “Thank you—it means so much!” and accepting help is much harder for me than saying, “Thanks, but we’re fine!” And over and over and over in the past few months I have had to do just that--say, “Thank you,” and accept. “Thank you” to those wonderful people on the Puzzle Them Home committee who are selflessly giving of their time and talent. “Thank you” to those who are sharing our story. “Thank you” to those who have so generously donated financially to the cause. Knowing that this is the type of service I can NEVER pay back is just plain hard!

Please consider in your hearts if there is some small (or big) way that you can help the Greens. They can use your prayers, they can use your tweets/re-posts, and they can use your donations. Jeremy and Christi really are the most amazing people I have ever met, and I can think of no greater Christmas present than to see them be able to build a new home.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

#80: Star Wars Calms Crying Baby (Video).

Due to my recent posts about (1) our issues with infertility and (2) the Green family's adoptions, I have been thinking about babies lately (Go figure). With that in mind, I thought it would be fun to search YouTube for any fun videos about Star Wars and babies. And then I stumbled across this little gem.

I sure hope my future kids respond this way too!

Sunday, October 7, 2012

#79: All Dogs Go to Heaven.

When I was a kid, a movie came out titled "All Dogs Go to Heaven". It was a cute cartoon about a dog named Charlie who dies, goes to heaven, gets the chance to come back to earth, and ultimately dies a second time by sacrificing himself to save a little girl from drowning. I don't remember much else about the plot, but the one thing that has always stuck with me since first seeing the movie was its title. As a little boy, I remember asking myself, "Do all dogs REALLY go to heaven?". This week I have had cause to ask myself this question once again when our wonderful family dog, Mickey, had a seizure and passed away after being a part of our family for fourteen years.

The loss of a pet is a hard thing. We adopted Mickey during my Sophomore of high school. We had just gotten back from a family trip to Disneyland, and my little brother Matthew decided to name our new dog "Mickey" (now that I look back on it, I'm surprised he didn't go with "Pluto" instead). Before adopting Mickey, we had had two "outside" dogs, a Siberian Husky named Meesha and a half-wolf/half-elephant/half-I-have-no-idea (three halves do make a right) named Tasha. They were great dogs, but I don't have too many memories with them since we always kept them in the backyard. However, when they passed away and we got Mickey, things were different. Mickey was our first "inside" dog, and he instantly became a member of our family. I have many wonderful memories of Mickey, but perhaps my favorite involves Mickey's love of ice cubes. Even as he got older and had a hard time moving, Mickey would ALWAYS come running when he heard someone using the ice maker. Mickey LOVED ice. A great trick I used to do with Mickey was to put an ice cube in my mouth and then spit it into the air. Mickey would jump up and catch it in his mouth and then run and hide under the kitchen table so no one could take it away from him. Mickey was one great dog.
Mickey with my niece Nichole
Do you have ice?
Nobody "nose" the trouble I've seen
Diesel, Mickey, and Radar
Mickey after the seizure
Mickey with my dad
My mom says goodbye
Dad, Emily, Matthew, Amy, and Mickey
For anyone who has lost a pet, we can all take comfort that dogs really do go to heaven. In regard to animals in heaven, the prophet Joseph Smith once shared the following:

"John saw curious looking beasts in heaven; he saw every creature that was in heaven,—all the beasts, fowls and fish in heaven,—actually there, giving glory to God. How do you prove it? 'And every creature which is in heaven, and on the earth, and under the earth, and such as are in the sea, and all that are in them, heard I saying, Blessing, and honor, and glory, and power, be unto Him that sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb for ever and ever' (Revelations 5:13). I suppose John saw beings there of a thousand forms, that had been saved from ten thousand times ten thousand earths like this,—strange beasts of which we have no conception: all might be seen in heaven. The grand secret was to show John what there was in heaven. John learned that God glorified Himself by saving all that His hands had made, whether beasts, fowls, fishes or men; and He will glorify Himself with them...John heard the words of the beasts giving glory to God, and understood them. God who made the beasts could understand every language spoken by them" (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p. 291).

Additionally, in talking about the millennium, the prophet Isaiah revealed that “The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid; and the calf and the young lion and the fatling together; and a little child shall lead them. And the cow and the bear shall feed; their young ones shall lie down together: and the lion shall eat straw like the ox" (Isaiah 11:6-7).

I have faith that we will see Mickey again after this life. And when we do, I sure hope that there are ice makers for our favorite trick.