Tender Mercies

Today has been one of the best days this year. Nothing radical or amazingly exciting happened, rather an extraordinary blessing was bestowed upon Taylor and I.
As most of you know, Taylor and I have been struggling to find employment since we returned home to Utah at the beginning of November. Living off of savings and the kindness of friends and family, we had run out of any possible income to get us through January. As you can assume or maybe you yourself have experienced, I was rather worried and distraught. Prayers became more pleading and fasting became quite frequent. It wasn't until a couple of weeks ago that a glimmer of hope was restored. We met with the bishop for tithing settlement and were instantly comforted. He gave us wonderful words of hope, reminded us of great promises, and shared valuable experiences with us that not only filled our hearts but strengthened our testimonies. I can't tell you how truly grateful we are to have such a bishop as a newlywed couple and as members of the church. So after meeting with the bishop, we finally started getting calls for interviews. As a matter of fact, Taylor had four in that first week. I started getting more legitimate leads for places to apply. Though it wasn't a job offer, it was still a step closer than we were before, we were moving forward.
After I dropped off a friend at work this morning, I felt the need to check our mail since I hadn't done so in quite a few days. In my mind, I made a simple joke "It's not like someone sent us a check." Once I got home with the mail, Taylor and I sifted through it. We received a couple of Christmas cards from family and of course the infamous 'ads'. But as Taylor was reading the annual Christmas letter from his parents, I found a letter from my old insurance company. Confused, I opened and found attached to it a check for $500. I was so overwhelmed that I started to cry. I had heard stories and testimonies given about Christmas miracles such as this, but never really expected to really have my own. In my hands was a tender mercy from the Lord.
The check was a reimbursement from a minor accident that I had in June of last year. A gentleman rear ended me damaging my rear bumper. It was a good thing that a month prior to the minor collision, I added the 'uninsured motorist' coverage to my policy, because this guy didn't have insurance. So, needless to say that when I called my insurance company to report the accident they told me that I would have to pay the $500 deductible myself unless they could somehow convince this guy to pay it. I was left with no hope. They did however send me a check, at that time, to cover the damages totaling over $1300. I put that check towards the principle balance on my car, allowing me to pay it off sooner. However, my company dropped my coverage after that. I still had a damaged bumper but at least I was closer to owning my vehicle. So the fact that I get a check, a year and a half later from them really amazes me. As I said to Taylor's parents, I knew from whom this check had really come from. It reminded me of a talk given by Elder David A. Bednar in general conference a few years ago, in it he said:

"Some may count this experience as simply a nice coincidence, but I testify that the tender mercies of the Lord are real and that they do not occur randomly or merely by coincidence. Often, the Lord’s timing of His tender mercies helps us to both discern and acknowledge them."

I know that this was not a coincidence. When the accident first occurred and I was worrying about how to handle it, I am sure the Lord was there teaching me patience. Taylor and I feel, that in a way, that accident happened so that we would be blessed, in time. Thanks to the first initial check and the generosity from Ron and Anne, we own our vehicle. I know that the Lord provided todays check for us when we needed it most. When we would not take it for granted, nor when it would go unrecognized. He provided this for us that we might be reminded of His watchful eye, His constant care, and His unconditional eternal love. I am thankful to not only have a Heavenly Father that knows me and my needs but also that he instills renewed hope. What a blessing it was, to open that letter and to feel His love in telling me, "I am here. I know. And you will be okay."  I am also thankful for a loving and supportive family who's faith, prayers, and fasting have been such a blessing to us during these tough times.  Families are eternal and, today especially, I was reminded of how lucky I am to be a part of this one.

During the Christmas season, it's easy to get lost in the luster of bright lights, never ending shopping, and constant stress.  But I testify that if we focus our hearts on it's true meaning, the birth of the Savior Jesus Christ, the spirit of Christmas will be intensified in our lives and our homes.  If we "make room, and let Him in", we will find in that a peace and joy so wonderful and amazing.  If we do that, then we will be able to experience our very own Christmas miracle.  I am so grateful that the Savior humbly came to the world, gave the perfect example, and provided a way that even I, as imperfect I as I am, can return home to my Father in Heaven.

We thank you sincerely for all that you've done for us, most in ways that you don't realize how deeply it effects us.  We love and miss you all.  May you all have a safe and beautiful Christmas.


Summer Summary

That's kinda catchy, isn't it? I just thought of it as i typed it. Maybe it should just be Summery. But i begin digressing...

We've been traveling and working all summer, and haven't really had a ton of time to update. Well, i haven't and Rikki has chosen not here we go.

We spent the majority of our summer in Rochester, NY. During this time, we made quite a few little side trips around the north-eastern portion of the country. First off, we went to Niagara Falls, which was an awesome experience. We just walked around the rim and hung out for a while on the canadian side. Played video games and mini golf while we were there, and that was fun. A week or two after that we were able to make a short trip over to Palmyra and to see the hill Cumorah. The next week we were able to go to the Sacred Grove, which was a pretty amazing experience. We also made a trip down to the finger lakes with the other couples from our office, just hung out there. The scenery in New York was beautiful, if not a bit monotonous. When Sierra and Chandale came to visit, we were able to go to the Hill Cumorah Pagent, which was amazing until they had to cancel the second half due to rain. We did make a return trip up to Niagara Falls the next day though. This trip we went on the Maid of the Mist boat, which was really cool. We got some cool video from there. See:

Then for the rest of Sierra and Chandale's visit, I was working down in the hole that is Erie, PA. we did take advantage of this though to spend my birthday in Cedar Point, OH. And i do have to say, it was the best birthday I've ever had. It was the most amazing theme park that i've been to, and we had an absolute blast. Sierra and Chandale then went home, but before we went back to Rochester from Pennsylvania, we made a short drive down to Kirkland Ohio. We were able to see the Newel Whitney store and the School of the Prophets, which was an awesome spiritual experience. Then we went to the Kirkland Temple, which was a complete polar opposite. The Church of Christ now owns it, and has taken all the spirituality out of it. On the way back to New York from there, we stopped in Buffalo and went to the Anchor Bar, which is where the Buffalo Wing was invented. So that was cool.
After that we took a little break from our excursions. We did one last one before we left New York, and we went to New York City. It was great because we were able to stay with Rikki's aunt Dona and uncle Augusto, and they were able to give us a guided tour all around the city. We had brunch at this amazing little place that had pictures of dogs lining the walls. After this we took a walk through Central Park and saw John Lennon's memorial, as well as the place he used to live where Yoko Ono still lives. Then we got to go to the top of Rockefeller center which had an amazing view. Then we went to times square and had charactures drawn of us, which cost way too much money and didn't turn out very well at all. We also ate dinner at this amazing Peruvian restaurant, and finished off the night at the underground apple store. It was a really fun trip.

After that we finished up our summer in New York, but decided to do an extended stint of selling in Dallas. So while driving between Rochester and Dallas, we decided to stop at all the church history sites that we could. The first place that we stopped was Nauvoo. We stayed in a really cool hotel for the night, it was really close to the Temple. The next morning, we woke up pretty early and were able to do a session in the Temple, and it was a truly amazing experience for both of us. After seeing the rest of Nauvoo, we were able to take a nice drive down the side of the Mississippi River for a while on our way to Carthage Jail. That was a somber place, but good to see. From here we made a short trip down to Hannibal, the birthplace of Mark Twain. This little stop was more for Rikki than me, but we were able to take a picture with a statue of Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn. Then we were on to Far West where we were able to see the temple site where the cornerstones were laid. It was a very serene place, and it was really nice to be able to go there. From there, it was a quick drive over to Adam-ondi-ahmen. That was another really beautiful place.

We stayed that night in a small hotel in the middle of nowhere in Cameron, Missouri. We got up the next day and went to Far West, where we saw the temple site where the cornerstones still sit. It's kinda's right out in the middle of nowhere with nothing around it. Just empty rolling hills, but it really is a beautiful place. From there we drove to Liberty Jail. We had a really spiritual experience here as well, it was amazing to learn of all the inspiration that were received there. Rikki also had a really cool opportunity to sing there and the spirit was really strong. It was unfortunate that we had to do all this so quick, but because of our time crunch, we ended up having to squeeze it all into two days. It was still an amazing experience.

From there we finished up our drive down to Lewisville. We stayed there from a month and a half doing more alarm system sales. Not too much exciting happened there at all, except that the first weekend that we were down there we were able to drive a few hours south and see one of my old college roommates, Craig. We got to meet his wife and little girl, and were able to play a round of golf in the rain, which was a blast. The rest of the time that we were down there was pretty uneventful.

On the way back from Texas, we got to stop in Arizona for week and a while in Vegas too. But seeing as this is long enough and i doubt that anyone will even read this far, i'll end this right here and live the second part for another post.