The Cynicism Begins- Weekly Reflection 3

One thing that stood out to me this week is that some of the initial stages of irritation and cynicism start to peek out. I’ll say that this becomes a theme for many of these. These feelings are sometimes directed at individuals and sometimes at groups. I suspect some people might be put off, annoyed, bothered, or even offended about some of the things that I say. I make no apologies about what I write. If something that I write bothers you or seems familiar, take a look in the mirror, because, to be honest, I am probably writing personally about YOU.

This was a difficult week for me as far as ministry work but a good one spiritually. First, I was asked last Saturday night after getting home from Dayton if I would be willing to be the Assistant Ward Mission Leader. Second, I was able to work the the Elders to teach a gentleman who is very interested in joining our church. Third, I was able to start the process through the military chaplain on my base to set up a LDS service member group on the base. Overall, however, I feel like we made good progress through the week, but it was difficult for us to find a good volume of work to do.
Saturday was an interesting day for the LDS church in general. This past Saturday and Sunday was what we call General Conference, which in my limited understanding, is quite different than what the UMC calls General Conference. Ours takes place every six months and basically two days worth of sermons from our worldwide leadership. Saturday always has two, two hour sessions for the general membership and one two hour session for the male priesthood. The Saturday sermons were generally all related to missionary work. After the priesthood session at night, I was talking to my bishop about what happened in school when he asked me if I would be willing to be the assistant Ward (congregation) Mission Leader. Of course I said I would, especially considering I all ready do the majority of the work that will be involved in the position. This should give me a great variety of work going forward this semester and into next semester. Spiritually, this showed me that often times we are provided with new ways to do work that we were not expecting. Sometimes all that is needed is for us to make an effort to do the work and move the process along.
Second, I helped teach a lesson to a very interested man on Wednesday. We taught him about our general process to salvation within our theology. He was very interested and enthused about learning the lesson. Even if he chooses not to continue with baptism and membership in the church, he has a tentative baptism date for [date removed], it was very uplifting to teach someone so willing to learn our message. While it would surely be a disappointment if he does not continue coming to church, his initial reaction was enough to keep me highly motivated for a while. With regards to him joining, however, we have another problem within our congregation that would need to be addressed and that is our general lack of fellowship for new members. As a ward, we must be more willing to reach out to new members and make them feel welcome so these people will continue coming. As invigorating as it is to see him so happy about the lesson, it actually saddens me to think how members will react and treat him if he joins.
Finally, I started work with our chaplain on base to form a LDS member group. I am not exactly sure what is involved with this process. The definition of the group will make a significant difference because we do not want to be able to have actual sacrament (communion) services on Sundays, but only to have military permission to hold a weekly bible study meeting on the base among the few of us who are LDS members (right now, I know of 3 and we all attend different wards due to geography). A secondary goal, beyond bringing us closer together as members, is missionary outreach on the base. Given the fully inclusive nature of the military, direct proselytizing is prohibited, but after getting approval from the chaplain to hold a study during the week, we would be able advertise on the base and possibly get people beyond our small membership to attend.
Beyond these things, we are starting to see some yield from other works. We have a baptism at the church tonight (Saturday) and I am conducting that service, though not performing the ordinance. We have also established an LDS Student Association at the University of South Alabama which allows us to do missionary work on campus. This should be starting within the next month. I am hoping we can all do good work on campus because I have seen good work done in new member conversion at North Carolina State. Also, this coming week I hope to sit down with our full-time missionaries and work with them on some time management issues that I feel like we are having, hopefully with some time I can better phrase what I want to mention because to be quite honest, I am very irritated right now.
Overall, we had a fairly good week, but one where I felt more could have been done. On to next week, I suppose.


Running Journal 1/19/15 to 1/25/15

Monday: Circuit exercise at work. I’ll detail my strength workouts one day this week or next.

Tuesday: 2 miles. 10:35 pace, splits, 10:36, 10:34. It can’t get much better than that as far as being steady. My shins hurt a little bit for maybe the first 1/4 or 1/2 mile, but felt fine for the rest of the run. After the run I did a fairly long set of stretches, 20 minutes, and I feel pretty good after that.

Wednesday: Weight training. I didn’t get the whole workout in because I got to the gym too late. No worries though.

Thursday: 3 miles. 10:49 pace, splits 10:42, 10:45, 11:00. Good, easy three mile run. I did squats last night during the weight work so my quads were tight. Also read an article this morning about incorporating weight work into a running routine and one of the big things with that was to do weight work on running days so that off-days are still completely off. Makes perfect sense really. So the strength training workout I’d planned for tomorrow is off.

Friday: Rest

Saturday: 22 minutes. We had 3 inches of snow on the ground and it was raining. So I ran indoors around our basketball court. I ran 22minutes and I averaged about 30 seconds a lap. Not sure of the mileage or pace because I’m not sure of the size of the court but I ran at least two miles.

Sunday: 4 miles. 10:50 pace. Splits 10:49, 10:30, 10:54, 11:08. Second half is slower because I was running back into a pretty strong wind. Felt great afterwards. Have to see how this upcoming week goes since we’re supposed to get a bunch of snow this week.

Running Journal 1/12/15 to 1/18/15

I started my half marathon training this week. I had downloaded a 10K training plan from RunKeeper, but I felt that it ramped up the mileage too fast so I ditched that about a month ago. I went through and developed my own play that also allows flexibility in my work, school, and family schedules. Once I can get myself built up to about 50 miles a week, I think I want to focus on speed in shorter races. My short term goals for running are sub-2 hours in the Brooklyn Half Marathon in May, then sub-4 hours in the NYC Marathon in November. Beyond that, I think a longer term goal would be to place high enough in a New York Road Runners race to cash a check and also run a sub-3 hour marathon. Now, on to this weeks log:

Monday: Rest

Tuesday: 2 miles easy. Ran in a 10:24 pace, this was a little faster than I wanted to go. I like to keep slow runs between 10:30 and 11 minutes per mile right now.

Wednesday: Rest

Thursday: 2 miles easy. 10:09 pace. Faster than Tuesday, faster than I wanted. The temp when I ran was in the mid-20’s. I think I ran faster than I intended to get out of the cold a little quicker.

Friday: 18 holes golf, walking. Walked about 4 3/4 miles in 2 hours 12 minutes. Yep, I track my golf. I think walking the golf course keeps my legs loose and tends to work the legs a little differently than running. I also did a body weight circuit workout to work on muscle strength. It’s just a stock plan I got online. I’m currently reading some other books to develop my own strength and conditioning plan.

Saturday: 2 miles easy. 10:36 pace. A little faster on the first mile, slowed it down for the second. Nothing special.

Sunday: 4 miles easy. 10:45 pace. Right on the pace I was looking for. Splits: 11:15, 10:09, 10:39, 10:57. My shins were hurting just a bit during the run, I tried a new stretching routine after the run from an older book by Arnold Schwarzenegger titled “Encyclopedia of Modern Bodybuilding.” I got this book for free a while back but I’d never used it. I got it out this week to make up a strength training program for myself and it had a very good stretching routine in the first chapter. My shins feel pretty good after that stretch.

Next week should be roughly the same as this week since I’m bumping the mileage up fairly slowly.

Weekly Reflection 2

I’m going to attempt to pick a day of the week and post these on a set schedule, but I haven’t done that yet.

This week I did much more work beyond simply teaching with our full time Elders. On Saturday, I assisted them with mapping the other geographic portion of our congregation (Ward) boundaries, giving them greater ability to schedule work activities when I am not available. Monday night I was able to help teach a lesson to a young man who is interested in learning more about our church and this lesson went well; given what is going on in my other classes and what we discussed during the lesson, I feel that it was something I really needed to hear. Wednesday I was able to go to a school and move forward with the initial steps in getting our Ward involved in the school and community. Thursday, our Ward Mission Leader spoke with our Bishop and we have a firm number set for what will be required to form a new congregation in the northern part of our area. Finally, today I was able to go out with the Elders for about four hours and while the day did not go as we had originally planned, we were able to do some productive work. Overall, this was a very productive week and the first time where I really felt my testimony of the Gospel strengthened.
On Saturday I worked with the Elders after our morning meeting with the Ward Mission Leader and helped them map out the other parts of our Ward. This will help them in working and let them know where active and inactive members live. We have such a large area to cover that they need to be better organized. Hopefully, the work I did with them will help them take the Gospel to more people.
Monday I was asked to go out with one sets of Elders and help them teach a lesson to an interested young man. His mother and father are both members of the church, though his father has passed away and his mother has not attended church in many years. As we began talking to him, we asked him about his faith background and how he currently felt spiritually. He said that he currently considers himself to be agnostic because he is unable to get past the Biblical account of creation compared to the scientific account of creation. This was significant to me because our discussion in my Old Testament class this week was on that exact subject, how to deal with a member who is having difficulty with the different accounts. I had not yet formed my response within the context of the class, but when he said that in his home, I knew that this was the subject that I was supposed to be studying this week. I was able to testify to him that God’s word is true and revealed to us over time as we are capable of understanding that truth. This was certainly a strengthening experience for me. Not only was I able to talk to him about something that concerned him, but it was something that I was studying at the time. I do not think that this was some kind strange coincidence. I feel this was certainly God speaking to me, showing me his will and this certainly strengthened my testimony of the gospel.
Wednesday I was able to go to a local elementary school and talk to them about our Ward coming in and working in the school. I was unable to speak with the principal because she was out of the office at a meeting, but I was given contact information to speak with her at another time. This work has been given initial approve from our Bishop and we are all hopeful that this reaching out into the local community will help our ward be more relevant in the community. We all generally feel that if we can get our Ward more active in the community, we will be better able to grow. It is great for me to see the work we are doing move forward, even if slowly. Seeing it move forward gives me additional spiritual strength to keep working to move it even more.
Thursday, our Mission Leader spoke with our Bishop about the possibility of forming a new congregation in the northern part of our area. While he said he would speak with his superior, the initial goal is to have [number removed] active priesthood holders (in our church that would be males over the age of twelve) in the area prior to establishing a new congregation. This is good for us to know because it gives the Elders in that area a firm goal to reach for. Keeping this goal in mind, I worked with them today to establish a routine for us to work together in these areas and take the Gospel to more people. Again, this progress in the work has strengthened me knowing that I am helping move the Lord’s work forward.
Today turned out differently than expected. We were originally scheduled to have five appointments with interested persons. However, all but one of these did not happen. The one that we were able to see had requested that missionaries bring by a copy of the Bible by her house. I went with them to do so and we also left her with a copy of the Book of Mormon. She told us that her father’s family were all LDS and that she was familiar with the church. We asked if we could share a lesson with her, but she said she had family coming into town that afternoon. The Elders made an appointment to come back next week. After that, the rest of the afternoon was spent going door to door, attempting to find new people interested in the church. We spoke with four people and scheduled lessons with each of them for next week. Hopefully, these folks are more than slightly interested in the Gospel and will come to church.
Overall, this week was a very good week spiritually. I felt consistently strengthened spiritually throughout the week. I felt my testimony grow as well as my desire to continue working in these communities. I will work with everyone next week to the extent that I can while away for Gathering Week, but I intend to come back in two weeks and really work hard in areas, trying to bring to fruition the new congregation. The only negative for this week is that not all weeks will work out this good. I will have to learn how to work on those weeks where things are not great. But either way, I am enthusiastic about working in the ministry field going forward.

Running Journal 1/3/15 to 1/10/15

So this was a race week, so I ran less than I normally do, taking some rest days in order to be fairly well rested for the Joe Kleinerman 10k in Central Park.

Sunday: 10x400m interval workout with 400m between two sets of five and a 800m hard run at the end. One mile warm up and cool down. 7 miles total

Monday: 2 mile slow shakeout run to loosen up from Sunday

Tuesday: Rest

Wednesday: 3/4 mile warm-up, 1 mile tempo , 3/4 mile cool down. The air temp was 8 or 10 degrees when I started this run with wind chills around -8 degrees. I had a cover over my face which restricted my breathing and that caused the tempo run to not be as fast as I intended. I wanted 8 mins 30 seconds per mile, got right at 9 mins per mile. Given the forecasted weather for the race on Saturday, the experience with the face cover and breathing was valuable. 2.5 miles total

Thursday: Rest

Friday: Rest, I considered going for a shake-out run, but figured that I’d be just as well off resting.

Saturday: Joe Kleinerman 10k. Air temp at the start was around 12 degrees, wind chill down around zero. Coming from the South, I’m not prepared for running in cold like this as far as clothing. Very cold prior to the start. I started out at what felt like a good pace, I figured I was a little over 10 mins per mile. At the 1/4 mile mark, my RunKeeper app told me I was at about 9:25 per mile. Since this felt good, I just kept that pace. Big hill in the first mile slowed me down, but I ended up being able to keep my pace quite well. I wanted to go a little faster in the last mile than my previous pace, which technically I did, but when I tried to pick up the pace and go I just had nothing. It felt like I was running with a parachute strapped to my back. However, I ran with a 9:30 pace for most of the race and I felt like I could have kept that pace up for quite a while. I just couldn’t push any faster. Splits: 9:48; 9:34; 8:59; 9:18; 9:39; 9:14  6.2 miles total

This coming week starts my training for the Brooklyn Half Marathon on May 16. It will start off kind of slow then work into some heavier stuff.



Seminary Reflection 1

So a few notes for this…first, I attend a United Methodist seminary, so my advisor for the class where I turned this in was United Methodist. Every so often I add a little detail for something that a LDS Member might take for granted because it is something that she would not have known. Second, these build on each other. Many of the things that I dealt with come back in future reflections. One thing in this reflection comes back in the future several times. Also, if I see anything in here that is particularly personal about someone else (the whole idea is for it to be personal about me) I’ll take it out. For readers: would you like me to add in a commentary section for each of these to discuss what I think now and/or how things eventually turned out??


This was my third week working with the full time missionaries (Elders) from my church. Being Latter-day Saint, the opportunities to meet the time requirements for service are limited. This week had several ‘firsts’ for me. First, I was able to see some of the results of the brief work that I have done with our Elders this past Sunday. Second, I made my first hospital visit to see an ill church member. Finally, I worked directly with the Elders in planning their upcoming week of work. Overall, this week was very productive and rewarding.

First, I was able to see the results of some of the work we have been doing. On the first day I worked with the Elders three weeks ago, we visited a gentleman who had not been to church in nearly twenty-five years. He promised he would come to church the next Sunday, but I was not there due to work. This past Sunday, he came again and I was able to be there. Being able to talk to him about coming to church and the blessings that he had enjoyed after coming to church. We visited him again on Thursday of this week and it was apparent that a change had taken place in him since our first visit. Seeing this change in someone makes me want to do more work and try to facilitate God’s change in others.

Next, I made my first hospital visit this week. This was an interesting experience to say the least. The man we visited suffers from sickle cell anemia and was in a great amount of physical pain when we can to visit him. We asked him if he would like us to give him a blessing and he did not respond. Myself and the Elder I went with both felt it would have been beneficial for him to receive a blessing but we did not attempt to push the issue. It was a bit difficult leaving without giving him all the help we could have, but we offered and that was all we could do. It is tough seeing someone in a situation like he was, certainly the most difficult thing I have done thus far.

Third, I worked with one pair of Elders in their weekly planning. Currently in my congregation we have three pairs of full time Elders. They are assigned to different geographical areas where they work primarily. One of the major things I helped them with was a large scale map where we mapped out every individual on the church rolls within that area. We used different colors to represent if the member was actively attending church or not. We also assigned a number to each family and are starting to organize the roll geographically. This will allow the Elders to use their time most effectively knowing where members are and being able to schedule days around those locations. It will also save them cost in driving since they will know they are nearby other members, active or not, and use those clusters as starting points for daily activity. I helped them with this because they are unable to have computers or smartphones, so it would have been very difficult for them to map everyone. Hopefully this pair will be able to do better work for the members in that area and it is something I intend to help the other pairs with as well.

Weekly Reflections in Seminary

So I’ve debated on this for quite some time, but starting this week, I’m going to post my weekly reflections from Seminary. Having read through them again with over a year removed from writing some of them, they are very rough. They chronicle some of the difficulties that I have gone through with church and school and may seem quite harsh at times. But I’m going to post them unedited so that anyone reading can try to understand my experience. We’ll see how this goes.

Also, I’m in the early stages of training for the 2015 New York City Marathon. As part of this, I intend to post my weekly training logs with some commentary on here as well. Hopefully I can stick to the plan of posting all my workouts. Be well everyone, hopefully you learn something about me in the upcoming weeks and months.