Sunday, January 29, 2012

#42: Senior missionaries someday.

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Sometimes I like to doodle during Sacrament Meeting talks. I justify that doodling actually helps me pay attention to the speaker better and keeps me awake. As a kid, I would usually draw Nephi or Captain Moroni (non-bearded characters are way easier to draw than bearded ones), but I'm starting to branch out a little bit.

Recently, one of the speakers gave a talk about the need for more retired couples to serve as senior missionaries. It got me thinking....what will Diane and I look like as senior missionaries someday? Below is the result. Happy Sunday to you!
I'll still have a great head of hair.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

#41: Stormtrooper families can be together forever too.

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Mormons are familiar with the phrase "Families can be together forever". We believe that if we obey the commandments, accept the gospel of Jesus Christ, and learn to love one another during this life, we will have the opportunity to live together again after we die. When you think about it, that is one of the greatest blessings imaginable. For anyone who has lost a spouse, a child, a parent, or a sibling, there is no greater peace than to know that you can be together again someday.

On a lighter (but related) note, don't you think characters from Star Wars have the same desire to be with their loved ones? Of course they do! When three of my friends (Michelle, Eric, and Jocelyn) sent me the following picture of a stormtrooper father and son, my immediate thought was "families can be together forever.....even Stormtrooper ones". The picture and many others like it were created by Swedish Star Wars fan Kristina Alexanderson. You can see more of Kristina's work at her Flickr page http://www.flickr.com/photos/kalexanderson/. I am a huge fan!

Hopefully this stormtrooper was not on the Death Star....or the other Death Star. But even if he was, families can still be together forever!

Sunday, January 22, 2012

#40: My "mostly" manly Star Wars room.

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Diane is a very patient wife. When we moved into our house a couple of years ago, I asked her if I could have one room in the basement to be my "Star Wars" room. Unfortunately for her, when she agreed to let me have it, I don't think she fully realized what she was getting herself into. Two years and many garage sales later, the Star Wars room is now complete! Enjoy the nerdiness!
I put these shelves up all by myself! I now feel like a real man....with a bunch of toys.
R2-D2 actually moves and responds to voice commands.
Now if I could only figure out a way to get him to vacuum.
Boba Fett and "Stormtrooper Han" cardboard cutouts: $4 each.
Also, notice my Kipp Dynamite poster in the back. I think he is hilarious.
Like I said, this is my "mostly" manly Star Wars room.
I have a soft spot for Disney, particularly Beauty & the Beast.
I used that big rose globe in the middle as part of the set-up when I asked Diane to marry me. 
I like bobble-heads. And boondoggle.
I love superheroes ALMOST as much as Star Wars, especially Superman.
 I know he is a bit old-fashioned, but he will always be my favorite. 
Those big faces of Captain Marvel, Superman, and Batman are painted comic
books by the legendary Alex Ross. Check out his incredible art at http://alexrossart.com/.

I also absolutely love the Utah Jazz. Those coke bottles are from the 1991 All-Star game
in Salt Lake City. I am hoping that someday I can sell them for a million dollars and retire early.

Last but not least, here is my collection of "Scripture Hero" action figures.
As a teenager, I got the "Captain Moroni" one from three different people as birthday presents.
I suspect it was their subtle way of telling me that I needed to work-out more often. 

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

#39: "Cello Wars" by Steven Sharp Nelson.

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I have had four people send me the following video (thanks Sam, Mark, Chris, and Emily!) to put on Mormon Wookiee. For those of you who are unfamiliar with Steven Sharp Nelson, he is the most gifted cellist I have ever seen (plus, he has a fantastic sense of humor and is an all-around nice guy). He often performs with fellow Utah musical Jedi, John Schmidt. Together, they have formed "The Piano Guys". If you ever get the chance to see them perform in concert, I absolutely recommend it. Diane and I were able to see them live at the Sandy Ampitheater last year, and we had a blast. Without further ado, enjoy the Piano Guys' epic "Cello Wars"! (And after that, make sure to check out all their other great work at http://thepianoguys.com/music/. In particular, I would recommend "Love Story Taylor Swift Meets Coldplay Viva La Vida". Bar none, it is one of my all-time favorite songs).

Sunday, January 15, 2012

#38: Jabba the Hutt and the "Seven Deadly Sins".

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I was thinking about vices the other day (not Miami vices, just regular ones). Since early times, Christian churches have warned about the "Seven Deadly Sins" or "Capital Vices" of wrath, greed, sloth, pride, lust, envy, and gluttony. Let's call them "the 7DS" for short (quite similar to the name of a Nintendo handheld gaming device). As I was thinking about the 7DS, I realized that there is someone who perfectly embodies them all: Mr. Jabba Desilijic Tiure, more commonly known as "Jabba the Hutt".  
"Cooooooooooooookies!"
Of all the characters in Star Wars, Jabba the Hutt is undoubtedly one of the vilest and most evil. For those who don't know, Jabba is basically a giant sentient slug....with lots of money and power. He owns a palace on Tatooine, runs a illegal smuggling operation, and generally always gets his way. Here are some examples of Jabba fulfilling all seven of the 7DS:

Wrath: Gee, this guy can get angry. All you have to do is drop some of his illegal cargo without paying him back, and he'll hunt you to the end of the galaxy. And then turn you into a wall trophy.
Han Solo: Smuggler. Hero. Wall Trophy.
Greed: How much money does a 1,200 pound slug really need? Apparently more than he's currently got. Jabba is always getting involved in illegal schemes to make a quick buck.

Sloth: Um....he's a giant slug. I don't see him getting on a NordicTrack anytime soon, do you?
Jabba's worst enemy: exercise.
Pride: Jabba considers himself to be invincible. He mocks anyone who dares to challenge him, and if he doesn't like you, he will just feed you to his pet Rancor.  
I prefer dogs.
Lust: Jabba loves women. It doesn't matter if they are human, Twi'lek, or Hutt--he loves them all. And he loves to enslave them. Fortunately, for us, Princess Leia showed Jabba who was boss by strangling him with the very chain he had enslaved her with. Power to the people!

Envy: If Jabba sees something that he doesn't have, he is very jealous. Case in point: It drove him nuts that it took him three whole movies to capture Han Solo and Chewbacca.
Catch us if you can, slug man!
Gluttony: Of all the 7DS, I bet that gluttony may be Jabba's greatest weakness. I can only imagine what his grocery bills are like.
Jabba makes a cameo appearance in the bug-eating scene of "The Lion King". Hakuna Matata!
So, what does this have to do with you and me? Basically, this is just a reminder to not become like Jabba the Hutt. I always feel badly when I give into my own vices, like being unnecessarily lazy, losing my temper, or eating a whole bag of peanut butter M&Ms right after fasting (you'd think that after 20+ years of fasting each month I would learn that it hurts to have a stomachache when I eat too much junk afterwards). Battling sin and temptation is a daily battle, and we can never give up trying. Fortunately for us, we all have the opportunity to repent and keep working on improving every day. It won't happen overnight, but it sure beats the alternative of becoming a giant sentient slug. Rest in peace, Jabba. Rest in peace.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

#37: Funny (fake) MormonAds.

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As a teenager, I loved reading the "New Era", the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints' (Mormons) monthly magazine for youth. The New Era first came out in 1971 (same year that Willy Wonka invited Charlie to his chocolate factory), and it is full of great stories and talks. However, in addition to the stories and talks, my favorite part of the "New Era" is the monthly feature known as "MormonAds". MormonAds are posters that contain an uplifting slogan with a picture. I had MormonAd posters hanging on my wall as a teenager, and it brings back good memories to see them online. Click here to see the full list of the New Era's past MormonAds.

As I was researching some MormonAds from the past, I came across some hilarious fake MormonAds that I thought you might enjoy (originally found at http://www.divinecomedy.net/mormonadz/ and http://funnymormonads.com/, although it appears that both sites are now defunct).  As a Star Wars nut, I especially couldn't resist these first two. I love creative people!







Best fake MormonAd EVER!

Sunday, January 8, 2012

#36: New "Friend" website is great for Primary lessons.

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Happy Sunday! Tonight while we were at my parents' house for dinner, my mom showed me a rad new website for Primary teachers. Since I am a Primary teacher myself, I was particulary excited. Check it out at http://lds.org/children/resources?lang=eng. The website is still brand new, so it's not fully fleshed out yet. Give it a little time, and I think this will be the best new Primary supplement outside of http://www.sugardoodle.net.

The new LDS Primary website has three sections:

1. Resources for Primary Lessons:

Since the official Primary manuals are only updated every decade or so, the new website is a great resource if teachers want to use more current stories and talks. For example, today's lesson was "Lesson 2: Nephi Follows His Father, the Prophet". On the new website there are stories from "The Friend" (the Church's magazine for children) from 2003, 2008, and 2011 (rather than stuff from the 90's in the manual). Additionally, there are videos and music that you can download and show to your class (Unfortunately, "Return of the Jedi" is not available as a download).
Videos and music. Kid tested. Mother approved.
2. Resources by Topic:

Let's say you want to look for kid-centric resources about "Agency", "Baptism", or "Faith". Previously, there was no great repository of LDS topics specifically designed for kids. Well, now there is! (Or at least, there soon will be--like I said, it's still a work-in-progress).

3. Weekly Thoughts and Tips:

Thirdly, there will soon be a list of thoughts and tips each week from "The Friend" magazine. In the meantime, the Church has posted the following description:

It’s here! A new resource for parents, teachers, and leaders of children! Beginning this month, the Friend is publishing an online resource of additional helps for teaching children. Included here are stories, activities, and media that support the Primary lessons being taught in 2012. You will also find an index of ideas for different gospel topics. You can use these at home and in a variety of church settings. These ideas are all approved resources and can be used with full confidence that they are endorsed by the Church and meet the standard of teaching true doctrine.

It is a sacred responsibility to teach children the gospel of Jesus Christ and help them learn to live it. You are doing much more than teaching a lesson—you are teaching children to know and love the Savior, and helping them to be lifelong followers of Jesus Christ.

I am looking forward to see what the new site has in store!

Thursday, January 5, 2012

#35: Some MORE thoughts on General Conference.

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During the last couple of months on my way to work each morning I have been listening to General Conference talks in my car. I downloaded the October 2011 talks to my iPhone, and I simply connect the phone to a tape deck adapter, which then plays the talks over my car stereo (the Buick Century doesn't have one of those fangle dangled CD player things).
Technology at its finest.
Listening to General Conference has been a great way to start the day off right. It's like the Conference speakers are right there in the car with me (although it does get a little cramped in the back seat). Listening in my car has been a great way to hear some of the talks that I tuned out the first time around. In my 3rd blog post "#3: Some Thoughts on General Conference" (http://www.mormonwookiee.com/2011/10/some-thoughts-on-general-conference.html), I shared my overall impression of Conference. As I mentioned, my favorite talk given at Conference was by Elder Ian S. Ardern titled "A Time to Prepare" (http://lds.org/general-conference/2011/10/a-time-to-prepare?lang=eng). Elder Ardern's talk is the reason that I started Mormon Wookiee (Thank you, Ian!). As I listened to his talk the first time, I realized that I was wasting too much of my free time, and I decided it was time to change. I haven't been perfect since then, but I have tried to do better. As I listened to Conference in the car, there were a bunch of other talks I enjoyed as well.
Elder Ian S. Ardern, the inspiration behind Mormon Wookiee.
#1: Elder Bednar and Elder Perry also encouraged us to use our time/technology more wisely:
The Saturday Afternoon session of General Conference was probably my favorite. In addition to Elder Ardern, Elder David A. Bednar and Elder L. Tom Perry also spoke about the way we use our time. Elder Bednar encouraged the youth to become more involved in family history work and "FamilySearch indexing" (you can learn more about FamilySearch indexing at https://familysearch.org/volunteer/indexing). He said, "It is no coincidence that FamilySearch and other tools have come forth at a time when young people are so familiar with a wide range of information and communication technologies. Your fingers have been trained to text and tweet to accelerate and advance the work of the Lord—not just to communicate quickly with your friends. The skills and aptitude evident among many young people today are a preparation to contribute to the work of salvation" ("The Hearts of the Children Shall Turn", Elder David A. Bednar).
Elder David A. Bednar. Stud, educator, apostle.
Similarly, Elder Perry said, " As you utilize the Internet, you may come across ongoing conversations about the Church. When directed by the Spirit, do not hesitate to add your voice to these conversations....In speaking about the Church, we do not try to make it sound better than it is. We do not need to put a spin on our message. We need to communicate the message honestly and directly. If we will open communication channels, the message of the restored gospel of Jesus Christ will prove itself to those who are prepared to receive it" ("Perfect Love Casteth Out Fear", Elder L. Tom Perry).
Elder L. Tom Perry. I once ran into him in the underground parking lot between the Joseph Smith Building and the Church Administration Building in Salt Lake City. He was walking with his wife, and he wore a cheerful red sweater.
#2: President Monson's humor:

In addition to being a Prophet of God and the President of the Church, President Monson is also a hilarious orator. I found myself laughing out loud during every one of President Monson's talks. He has such a great sense of humor. He makes great facial expressions and understands comedic timing. For example, when he announced the new temples that were going to be built, he said, "I am also pleased to announce new temples in the following locations: Barranquilla, Colombia; Durban, South Africa; Kinshasa in the Democratic Republic of the Congo; and Star Valley, Wyoming. I think I'll dedicate that one. There's good fishing up there" ("As We Meet Again", President Thomas S. Monson).
I can't help but smile when President Monson tells a joke.
Talking about his time in the United States Armed Forces during World War II, President Monson said, "Navy boot camp was not an easy experience for me, nor for anyone who endured it. For the first three weeks I was convinced my life was in jeopardy. The navy wasn’t trying to train me; it was trying to kill me" ("Dare to Stand Alone", President Thomas S. Monson).

In the same talk, he told a story about when he was on a sightseeing tour. "Following the conclusion of the convention, I took a sightseeing bus ride through the city’s suburbs. As we passed the various churches, our driver would comment, 'On the left you see the Methodist church' or 'There on the right is the Catholic cathedral.'As we passed a beautiful red brick building situated upon a hill, the driver exclaimed, 'That building is where the Mormons meet.' A lady in the rear of the bus called out, 'Driver, can you tell us something more about the Mormons?' The driver pulled the bus over to the side of the road, turned around in his seat, and replied, 'Lady, all I know about the Mormons is that they meet in that red brick building. Is there anyone on this bus who knows anything more about the Mormons?'" ("Dare to Stand Alone", President Thomas S. Monson).

In another talk, President Monson started with, "We’re particularly delighted to have Elder Robert D. Hales with us once again and feeling improved. We love you, Bob" ("Stand in Holy Places", President Thomas S. Monson). Elder Hales has been sick this year and unable to attend meetings or General Conference. However, he was able to attend this particular Conference.

And last but not least, I loved President Monson's story about a Dutch member of the Church named Peter Mourik. He said, "On Saturday we had a session for our Dutch members who were in the Frankfurt Temple district. I was well acquainted with one of our outstanding leaders from the Netherlands, Brother Peter Mourik. Just prior to the session, I had the distinct impression that Brother Mourik should be called upon to speak to his fellow Dutch members during the session and that, in fact, he should be the first speaker. Not having seen him in the temple that morning, I passed a note to Elder Carlos E. Asay, our Area President, asking whether Peter Mourik was in attendance at the session. Just prior to standing up to begin the session, I received a note back from Elder Asay indicating that Brother Mourik was actually not in attendance, that he was involved elsewhere, and that he was planning to attend the dedicatory session in the temple the following day with the servicemen stakes. As I stood at the pulpit to welcome the people and to outline the program, I received unmistakable inspiration once again that I was to announce Peter Mourik as the first speaker. This was counter to all my instincts, for I had just heard from Elder Asay that Brother Mourik was definitely not in the temple. Trusting in the inspiration, however, I announced the choir presentation and the prayer and then indicated that our first speaker would be Brother Peter Mourik. As I returned to my seat, I glanced toward Elder Asay; I saw on his face a look of alarm. He later told me that when I had announced Brother Mourik as the first speaker, he couldn’t believe his ears. He said he knew that I had received his note and that I indeed had read it, and he couldn’t fathom why I would then announce Brother Mourik as a speaker, knowing he wasn’t anywhere in the temple." ("Stand in Holy Places", President Thomas S. Monson). The best part of the story is that Peter Mourik actually showed up right when President Monson announced his name. While in his other meeting, Peter Mourik felt a prompting from the Holy Ghost to leave his other meeting and hurry the Frankfurt Temple dedication.

#3: Elder Holland as a football coach:

Elder Jeffrey R. Holland is probably my favorite speaker of all-time. If you ever want to feel inspired, go to http://speeches.byu.edu/ and read some of the talks that Elder Holland has given at BYU. He is an amazing speaker. At General Conference, he spoke during the evening Priesthood Session. I loved the following words from his talk: "I especially ask the young men of the Aaronic Priesthood to sit up and take notice. For you, let me mix in an athletic analogy. This is a life-and-death contest we are in, young men, so I am going to get in your face a little, nose to nose, with just enough fire in my voice to singe your eyebrows a little—the way coaches do when the game is close and victory means everything. And with the game on the line, what this coach is telling you is that to play in this match, some of you have to be more morally clean than you now are. In this battle between good and evil, you cannot play for the adversary whenever temptation comes along and then expect to suit up for the Savior at temple and mission time as if nothing has happened. That, my young friends, you cannot do. God will not be mocked...From every man, young and old, who bears the priesthood, I ask for a stronger and more devoted voice, a voice not only against evil and him who is the personification of it, but a voice for good, a voice for the gospel, a voice for God. Brethren of all ages, unbind your tongues and watch your words work wonders in the lives of those “who are only kept from the truth because they know not where to find it" ("We Are All Enlisted," Elder Jeffrey R. Holland).
My all-time favorite speaker, Elder Jeffrey R. Holland. I also think he has the best chin out of all the apostles.
I'm definitely looking forward to the next General Conference in April 2012. It's great to be a Mormon!

Sunday, January 1, 2012

#34: My New Year's Wookieelutions.

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Happy New Year! I think 2012 is going to be a wonderful year (despite all the fuss about the Mayan calendar). One of my favorite traditions each New Year's Day is setting resolutions for the upcoming year. I usually fall short on most of my resolutions, but sometimes one or two of them stick and I feel really good at the end of the year. In order to keep me accountable this year, I decided to share some of my 2012 "Wookieelutions" with you.

Physical Goals:


1) Exercise six days a week:
I know exercising is the most common (and most commonly broken) resolution, but I've actually got some good momentum with this goal right now. Since October 24th, 2011 Diane and I have been in an exercise competition with some of my friends at work. Our goal has been a simple one: do some form of designated exercise six days a week. The exercise doesn't have to be strenuous; rather, we are simply trying to achieve consistency. Our minimum exercise requirements are as follows:
a) a one-mile walk/run (however, it must be a truly designated exercise walk--you can't just count your steps around the office during the day).
b) a three-mile bike ride (this has been my "cop-out" exercise of choice when I am tired and don't want to do anything more difficult or time-consuming).
c) weight-lifting/strength training for half-an-hour.
d) work-out with an exercise video that is at least 25-minutes long (Jilian Michaels kicks my butt).
e) play a sport for at least half-an-hour (even golf counts!).
f) attend an exercise class (although I refuse to do Zumba in public).


Someday...
2) Eat healthy five days a week:
This is going to be a struggle. As my coworker Tonya knows, I vow to give up chocolate every Monday morning, and I usually give in every Monday afternoon. Well, I am going to try to redouble my efforts to only eat "healthy" foods on the weekdays (except for Friday night). On Friday night, Saturday, and Sunday, I give myself permission to eat as much chocolate, cheddar cheese, Lays Potato Chips, Marshmallow Mateys, and Sour Patch Kids as I can get my hands on. Otherwise, it's spinach, turkey, tomatoes, nuts, and pears.
Lays Potato Chips, I love you!
Spiritual/Service Goals:

1) Memorize one scripture a day:

I enjoy memorizing scriptures. They provide peace and comfort in moments of difficulty. I have made some good progress on this goal already thanks to the iPhone app "Memorize Now!" (I talk about the app in Post #8 "My Favorite Mormon iPhone Apps Part #2" at http://www.mormonwookiee.com/2011/10/8-part-2-my-favorite-mormon-related.html).

2) Attend the temple twice a month to perform proxy ordinance work for those who have passed away:

One of my favorite acts of service is performing proxy baptisms and other ordinances in the temple for those who have passed away. Paul the Apostle asked the Church in Christ's day about baptisms for the dead: "Else what shall they do which are baptized for the dead, if the dead rise not at all? Why are they then baptized for the dead?" (1 Corinthians 15:29). Paul is asking the Church to think about the importance of baptism for those who will one day be resurrected, but who did not have the chance to be baptized during their mortal lives. Essentially he asks, "Are people going to be dead forever? If so, then there is no point to baptism. But if they are going to be resurrected and live again, then they need to be baptized." Because members of the Church believe in the resurrection of all mankind, temple work is a sacred opportunity for us to serve people who were unable to be baptized during their own lives. Since I live within 30 minutes of six temples (Salt Lake, Jordan River, Draper, Oquirrh Mountain, Mount Timpanogos, and Provo), I have plenty of opportunities to serve in the temple. I just need to take advantage of them more often.
Mount Timpanogos Temple: Where Diane and I got hitched.
3) Visit my "home teaching" families at least once a month every month (also known as 100% home teaching):
Tom Cruise may not think 100% home teaching is possible, but I gotta try! (http://www.mormonwookiee.com/2011/11/17-tom-cruise-on-home-teaching-spoof.html).

4) Perform one "out-of-my-way" act of service a day:
It is easy to serve others when we are supposed to serve and it is expected of us, but it's not as easy when no one is watching and the service isn't expected.

5) Write in my journal three nights a week:
I love writing in my journal. It helps me to find perspective, to feel gratitude, and gives me a chance to write funny jokes for my posterity. I talked about my love of journal writing in Post #18 "Writing in your journal (the joys of being an 8-year old)" at http://www.mormonwookiee.com/2011/11/18-writing-in-your-journal-joys-of.html.
Personally, I prefer gel pens.

Other Goals: 

1) Work on my listening skills:

I admit it. I'm a bad listener. BUT I'm working on it. One thing that I have made great progress on this year is not interrupting people and not finishing their sentences. Here's hoping that I can keep improving in 2012.

What did you say?
2) Help Diane cook dinner at least once a week:
I'm a terrible cook. In fact, a couple of months ago I tried to be an adult and make spaghetti without any supervision. The noodles cooked just fine, but when I put on the bottled tomato sauce I ran into a little trouble. I asked Diane, "Why does the spaghetti smell so funny?" She came over to check it out and said, "Um, you just put on Pace Picante Salsa on instead of Prego."


This is NOT spaghetti sauce. 
Blogging on Mormon Wookiee these last few months has been a very satisfying experience for me, and hopefully I have been able to make a difference in somebody's life. I'm looking forward to many more years to come. Happy New Year and may the force be with you!
Thanks for reading!