Mercado’s going to Chile!!

May 31, 2007

I’m so excited for him! So far he’s the only 7th Floorer that I recall who will be speaking a language he already knew. (I and two others took German in high school, and we’ll will be learning Dutch, Mandarin, and Spanish. Another guy knew French and got sent Spanish-speaking. And so forth…)

Anyway. I hope I’m not stealing his thunder, but I just wanted to write something about it. šŸ™‚


Belgium and the Netherlands

May 31, 2007

flags-3-finished.jpgI thought it would be good to compile some information about Belgium and the Netherlands, as I will be traveling there in four or five months on a mission. So here’s what I came up with:

The combined areas of Belgium and the Netherlands is only slightly larger than the size of Washington state. The climate (sometimes called marine west coast) is comparable to that of western Washington–rainy and humid most of the time with mild temperatures year-round.

General facts (all from the CIA World Factbook):

  • Population
    • Belgium: ~10 million
    • Netherlands: ~16 million
  • Official languages
    • Belgium: 60% Dutch, 40% French, <1% German
    • Netherlands: Dutch, Frisian
  • GDP per captia
    • Both: ~$32,000
  • Currency
    • Both: Euro
  • Literacy rate
    • Both: 99%

More information:

(By the way, I made the graphic myself with Draw, in case anybody was wondering. It’s a pretty cool program to do vector graphics and such, although exporting to image files is quite a pain.)

Go Ye and Preach My Gospel

May 24, 2007

I have had the privilege of immersing myself in the Old Testament over the last month. It is wonderful to see how key principles of the gospel are taught in this ancient scripture.

chalkboard3.jpgI’ve been thinking very much lately about missionary work for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Most of my 7th Floor friends have either started their mission papers, received their calls, or entered the MTC. I am reminded of a scripture in the Doctrine and Covenants that we had the chalkboard of our commons room (pictured):

Wherefore, go ye and preach my gospel, whether to the north or to the south, or to the east or to the west, it mattereth not, for ye cannot go amiss. (D&C 80:3)

Another scripture along those same lines is this:

Go ye into all the world, preach the gospel to every creature, acting in the authority which I have given you, baptizing in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. (D&C 68:8)

A passage we came across today in my Old Testament class is called the Priestly Blessing and applies so well to this subject:

The Lord bless thee, and keep thee: / The Lord make his face shine upon thee, and be gracious unto thee: / The Lord lift up his countenance upon thee, and give thee peace. (Numbers 6:24-26, KJV)

To all the 7th Floor missionaries, God be with you! Go forth into the world and preach the gospel. May the Lord bless you!

Strength in Numbers (I mean Ecclesiastes)

May 20, 2007

Okay so the Bible pun wasn’t very funny.

Today in church we discussed a scripture in Ecclesiastes that applies so well to friendship and working together:

Two are better than one; because they have a good reward for their labour. For if they fall, the one will lift up his fellow; but woe to him that is alone when he falleth; for he hath not another to help him up. . . . And if one prevail against him, two shall withstand him; and a threefold cord is not quickly broken. (Ecclesiastes 4:9-12, KJV)

The Road Not Taken

May 9, 2007

I first heard Robert Frost’s poem “The Road Not Taken” many years ago and have drawn inspiration from it ever since.

The Road Not Taken

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and Iā€”
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.
–Robert Frost

Another poem I like teaches about perseverance. It was quoted by both Russell M. Nelson and Thomas S. Monson in general conference addresses:

Stick to Your Task

Stick to your task till it sticks to you;
Beginners are many, but enders are few.
Honor, power, place, and praise
Will always come to the one who stays.
Stick to your task till it sticks to you;
Bend at it, sweat at it, smile at it too;
For out of the bend and the sweat and the smile
Will come life’s victories, after awhile.

Thoughts from Dostoevsky

May 9, 2007

Fyodor Dostoevsky is a famous Russian writer often called the founder of existentialism. He was Christian and let some of his beliefs shine through in his works. I came across a few quotes from his writings today that I found interesting (these can all be found on Wikiquote):

From The Brothers Karamazov:

  • If you were to destroy in mankind the belief in immortality, not only love but every living force maintaining the life of the world would at once be dried up.
  • The awful thing is that beauty is mysterious as well as terrible. God and the devil are fighting there and the battlefield is the heart of man.
  • A man who lies to himself, and believes his own lies, becomes unable to recognize truth, either in himself or in anyone else, and he ends up losing respect for himself and for others. When he has no respect for anyone, he can no longer love, and in him, he yields to his impulses, indulges in the lowest form of pleasure, and behaves in the end like an animal in satisfying his vices. And it all comes from lying-to others and to yourself.

The first of his quotes that I found today seemed particularly powerful:

The second half of a man’s life is made up of nothing but the habits he has acquired during the first half.

We become in life and in eternity what we make of ourselves. Our thoughts become desires, which lead to actions. Actions lead to habits, which in turn determine our character.

Thou Gracious God, Whose Mercy Lends

May 7, 2007

Not long ago a friend told me about a recording by BYU choirs of a beautiful song titled “Thou Gracious God, Whose Mercy Lends.” It has meant a lot to me, especially at the end of the academic year when most of my friends went back home. I transcribe the lyrics here, taken mostly from the Oremus Hymnal website:

Thou Gracious God, Whose Mercy Lends

Thou gracious God, whose mercy lends
The light of home, the smile of friends,
Our gathered flock thine arms enfold
As in the peaceful days of old.

Wilt thou not hear us while we raise
In sweet accord of solemn praise
The voices that have mingled long
In joyous flow of mirth and song?

For all the blessings life has brought,
For all the sorrowing hours have taught,
For all we mourn, for all we keep,
The hands we clasp, the loved that sleep.

The noontide sunshine of the past,
These brief, bright moments fading fast,
The stars that gild our darkening years,
The twilight ray from holier spheres.

We thank thee, Father; let thy grace
Our loving circle still embrace,
Thy mercy shed its heavenly store,
Thy peace be with us evermore.
–Oliver Wendell Holmes

This song praises God for the blessing of friends and family, for the experiences of life, for fond memories. It invokes the blessings of God on “our loving circle” even as we separate, whether in absence, travel, or death.

I sense in this song a great peace because of the reassurance of life after death. We will meet again, whether in this life or the next.