13 million members and a million missionaries!

June 26, 2007

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints announced yesterday that there are now thirteen million members of the Church, and the number of missionaries called since 1830 has surpassed one million. There are currently about 53,000 missionaries serving throughout the world.

The Church is true!


Finals and food

June 20, 2007

So I finished my finals about half an hour ago. It’s a great feeling to be done with everything. And I just went and bought myself this big ham sandwich and an orange juice and a large container of ice cream, and I ate it all. I feel pretty bloated now.

It’s funny how you notice insignificant little things when you’re taking tests. Like worrying about whether your pencil lead or eraser is going to last through the end of the next page or whether you can make it another hour before you have to go to the bathroom. Or how the guy sitting next to you sniffles once every twenty seconds.

And I’m tired of being inside overly-air-conditioned buildings. The Testing Center is waaaay too cold for my liking. (It’s so loud in there, too, even though everybody is being as quiet as they can.) So since it’s a nice day outside, I’m going to wander around and take pictures or do something like that.

Good luck to anybody and everybody who still has finals!

End-of-term woes

June 18, 2007

So spring term is just about over. Today was the last day of classes. I feel pretty sad, actually. I have very much enjoyed this term, both for the setting (spring term is a lot quieter than fall/winter), and for my classes. I still miss the BYU 47th Ward, but I have made a few friends in Heritage, too. It’s going to be hard for me to go home after being at college for ten months straight. I love this campus and going to school at BYU.

I’ve had three classes: Old Testament, Linear Algebra, and Basic Vocal Skills. All three have been challenging but very rewarding. I have increased my knowledge and understanding of the Bible many times over, for which I am very grateful. I’ve learned that I can enjoy math, as long as I put forth the effort to understand it. And I’ve become a much better, more confident soloist. (I even sang a solo in sacrament meeting a couple weeks ago, something I would never have had the courage to do a year ago.)

It’s so interesting and even tragic how we don’t fully realize how much we love and appreciate someone or something until we are forced to leave it. This happened with my friends winter semester, and now with my friends spring term, and with college in general. I am loathe to leave, except that I’ve got so many other things to do that I can’t do here.

I finally gave in and got a Facebook this weekend. I had told myself I wasn’t going to get one until after the mission, but peer pressure and my fascination with new toys convinced me to get one after all. I’ve enjoyed it so far. If any of my (loyal) readers aren’t already on my friend list, feel free to add me, if you like.

University Chorale concert

June 16, 2007

I went to the BYU University Chorale concert last Friday (as I mentioned in my previous post) and wanted to write a little about it.

First of all, this group is amazing. I thoroughly enjoyed the concert. Luckily, they reproduced most of the lyrics on the program, so I’d like to put my favorites here.

Come, with Cheerful Voices Sing

Come, with cheerful voices sing,
On this gladsome, wondrous night,
We would make our praises ring,
And with Thee our joys unite.
Grateful hearts to Thee we bring,
Lord, accept our offering.

For the sweet and pleasant springtime,
Gentle hearts and home’s dear love,
For the autumn’s harvest treasures,
Faith and hope that soar above.
Grateful hearts to Thee we bring,
Lord, accept our offering.
–Johann Sebastian Bach

This text, especially the second stanza, reminds me of “Thou Gracious God, Whose Mercy Lends“, a song I love very much.

Sure on This Shining Night

Sure on this shining night,
Of starmade shadows round,
Kindness must watch for me
This side the ground.

The late year lies down the north.
All is healed, all is health.
High summer holds the earth.
Hearts all whole.

Sure on this shining night
I weep for wonder
Wandering far alone
Of shadows on the stars.
–James Agee

I suppose this poem could mean different things to different people, but when I first heard it, I imagined that some great period of the speaker’s life is coming to a close and he is trying to deal with it. He acknowledges that much good has come of it, but feels a great sadness for the emptiness that is now filling that space he has so treasured.

My Song in the Night

O Jesus, my Savior, my song in the night,
Come to us with Thy tender love, my soul’s delight.
Unto Thee, O Lord, in affliction I call,
My comfort by day and my song in the night.

O why should I wander, a stranger from Thee,
Or cry in the desert Thy face to see?
My comfort and joy, my soul’s delight,
O Jesus, my Savior, my song in the night.

I agree wholeheartedly with this text. Christ is my Savior, and I turn to him for peace and comfort. In my darkest hour, I can “cry in the desert” and He will hear me, bring me back into His fold.

God Sends the Night

June 5, 2007

So I was in the library today (up on the north side of the 4th floor in a carrel). I was trying to study math but with little success. While I can understand the important concepts of linear algebra, I always, always, ALWAYS find some way to make an arithmetic error when I’m reducing a matrix. (And those mistakes are hard to find until you get to the end of a problem and have seven decidedly ugly fractions in the answer.) Finally I got so frustrated with myself and my seeming inability to do correct arithmetic that I just started to cry. It had already been a hard day, and this only compounded my grief. I tried to continue with my homework, but I couldn’t focus. I sat there for a long time, just thinking about my life and where I want to go and whether the things I’m doing now will help me get there.

Over to my right on the stacks, I noticed a very long series of periodicals. (They keep all the music-related periodicals on the 4th floor.) The first volumes of the series looked very, very old. I got out of my chair just to look at them and happened to pull out the 1908 volume. Each issue had a piece of music (which I assume were original for the publication) written in four-part harmony. Next to an insert with a facsimile of a letter by some famous composer I found this song:

God sends the Night

God sends the night to bid us rest
From all our cares, in slumbers blest.
The turmoil and the toil are past,
Peace o’er the earth descends at last;
Then aching hearts may rest awhile,
And sadden’d lips in dreams may smile,
God sends the night; at His behest
The weary world is hushed to rest.God sends the day to bid us wake:
Fresh glories at each morning break.
The world lies glist’ning in the dew,
Each day, each day a world begun anew,
In waking hearts the message rings,
“Oh on to nobler better things!”
God sends the day: the shadows break,
And His creation is awake!

–Text by Herbert J. Brandon

This text was comforting to read. God sends us respite from our cares, but brings again a new day with new opportunities. “Oh, on to nobler, better things!” Each morning that dawns ought to arouse in us gratitude to the Most High, and a determination to do better what we have been given to do. When again the night comes, God will give us rest. With hope, we may look forward to that day when He will say to us, “Well done, thou good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord” (Matthew 25:21, KJV).


June 4, 2007

The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation. What is called resignation is confirmed desperation.
Henry David Thoreau

Although I don’t agree with many of Thoreau’s ideas, I think he has this one right.

You walk down the street and pass someone you know. “How are you?” he says. “Fine” is your standard reply, no matter how tormented or depressed you may feel in your heart. I am reminded of Dunbar’s poem:

We wear the mask that grins and lies,
It hides our cheeks and shades our eyes–
This debt we pay to human guile;
With torn and bleeding hearts we smile
And mouth with myriad subtleties.Why should the world be over-wise,
In counting all our tears and sighs?
Nay, let them only see us while
We wear the mask.

We smile, but oh great Christ, our cries
To Thee from tortured souls arise.
We sing, but oh the clay is vile
Beneath our feet, and long the mile;
But let the world dream otherwise,
We wear the mask!
Paul Laurence Dunbar

In such dark surroundings, do we allow ourselves to become what the world wants us to become, to only see us wearing a mask that fits their expectations? Why are we so silent and resigned about our difficulties and trials? What does it mean to have a friend? When we find such a friend, do we appreciate him for what he means to us?

I found several scriptures in the Bible today that really spoke to me:

A friend loveth at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.
–Proverbs 17:17 (KJV)
Iron sharpeneth iron; so a man sharpeneth the countenance of his friend.
–Proverbs 27:17 (KJV)

To all my friends, I want you to know how much I have appreciated your kind words and listening ears; for being there when I was going through hard times; for putting up with my faults and helping me become a better person. You guys are awesome. I hope I have been able to return something of that to you. Thank you for being my friend–you have meant the world to me.

Mathematicians joke

June 2, 2007

I had linear algebra coming out my ears today (I probably studied for five or six hours), but I found some pretty funny math jokes. The first one I thought up as Enoch and I were doing our homework. The other was one a door of one of the math professors upstairs in the Talmage Building.

Two linear algebraists are arguing about a complex problem.

First mathematician: That plane is not an inner product space. Surely you can see that.
Second mathematician: R2
First: R0
Second: R2 –your vector is just a subspace anyway.
First: All right, all right. Why must you be so orthogonal?

Okay, so it’s not really that funny. The part I thought of while doing homework was the third and fourth lines.

Anybody who’s studied a little calculus can appreciate this one: