Hi, I'm Amanda, and I'm a Mormon missionary!

Tuesday, June 25, 2013


Her and her daughter, Audrey :)
Everyone has someone who has truly made a difference in their life--someone who changed them more than anyone else. Well my someone is Kristie Lynn Nelson, my Young Women's leader and best friend. She changed me. If I had not met her, my life would not be the same. To be quite honest, I'm not sure if I would have even joined the Church if it was not for the amazing influence she was in my life. She still is my biggest influence and inspiration!
She was one of the first people to ever greet me when I first went to church. She was one of the most positive people I've ever met! When I first met her, I had no idea that she had only months to live. I had no idea that she even had cancer! As time went on and it became closer to my baptism and closer to her passing, I could tell she was getting worse. Her liver was failing--her jaundice was very severe and her tumors caused her to look pregnant. However, this never got her down!  She managed to get up every fast and testimony meeting and bear the most incredible testimonies about the meaning of life and the Plan of Salvation. She would go up and publicly say how incredibly grateful she was for trials and how much she and her family had learned from them. Her trials made everyone else's seem so minuscule, for she was 39 and had 3 very small children and was DYING, yet she was able to always remain positive and be grateful for the many blessings she had. It really showed that there is ALWAYS opposition in all things--if someone with cancer can find positives among the negatives, then so can you and so can I a midst every single trial we will ever have and have had. I have never had cancer, so I don't know about the mere amount of pain she went through, but I know it was extreme. But she never showed it. Ever.
Not being able to tell her directly about my many experiences has been hard. I would tell her all the time about what was happening in my life. She was so excited to hear about when I was going to be baptized! I wonder how she would have reacted when I would have told her that I was going on a mission or going through the temple (which I did on her birthday, by the way!). The good thing about having a best friend who is dead, is that I don't have to call or facebook her to tell her about the happenings in my life. She is ALWAYS there for me when I need her. Whenever I am having a hard time, I know that Christ is there for me, but I also know that Kristie is right by His side. That's how it has always been ever since I met her. She was always the kind of person to put others first even during her hardest times. She gave an amazing talk at my baptism about the Gift of the Holy Ghost and gave me a bracelet with Joshua 1:9 on it as well as a bookmark with Doctrine and Covenants 87:8. I didn't know that she was really preparing me for what was to happen the following month.
When I got the call that she died, I was heartbroken. Absolutely heartbroken. I had never had someone so incredibly close to me die before. It was only a month after my baptism--I didn't really understand the Plan of Salvation. I didn't understand why bad things happen to good people. To be honest, I was angry with God. I prayed to Him asking to bring her back because it wasn't fair that she was dead. How could all of the fasting and praying NOT work? I wish this talk existed before because it has the perfect answer. The truth is: God needed Kristie to do work on the other side. She touched SO many lives here on earth, I can only imagine the amazing work she is doing in the spirit world! I'm so excited to be working together with her as missionaries for Christ! There is a small distance between us, but we are doing the same work and we will do it together! She WILL be there for me to comfort me when I am discouraged or feel alone. I will never be alone. I never am alone. Christ is ALWAYS there for me, and so is Kristie!
This was her favorite song! The Young Women sang it at her funeral :)
And this is the song that reminds me of her the most :)
On this side of the bench 3 John 1:4 is written. "I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth" I'm not her child, but I really hope that she's proud of the life I've decided to live!

Have you ever wondered why exactly I love San Diego and its temple so much? It isn't just because it's pretty. Every temple is pretty. She is why. She was married in the San Diego temple. Every time I look at that building, I think of how amazing this woman is and how much I want to be like her. I think about the Plan of Salvation and eternal families. I feel the spirit stronger simply looking at that building than actually being inside the celestial room of other temples because of the very strong connection I have with it. When I went there over Christmas break with the BYU marching band, it was the strongest I had ever felt the spirit before... and I wasn't even allowed to go INSIDE the temple! I know for a fact that when I get married there, Kristie will be sitting right in the front row!
Surprisingly, I have never gotten a picture WITH her! This is close enough :)
What I would like everyone to get out of this post is that bad things do happen to good people, and to be quite honest, it's no fun. It's not necessarily fair either. But that's the reality of living in this telestial world. Bad things happen. However, I KNOW that the Plan of Salvation is real BECAUSE of the pain I have gone through because of her death as well as the incredible peace that I've felt. I have felt Kristie's spirit so many times in my life. I KNOW where she is. I KNOW that she is not gone! I KNOW that her spirit lives, and she WILL be eternally blessed for the way she lived her life. I know that the experience of losing her will help me help others who have also lost loved ones.

The Plan of Salvation is real. I want everyone to know that it is. I want people to feel the incredible peace that is possible through the Atonement despite the trials in their lives. I want people to be happy! This is why I'm going on a mission! :) I love this gospel :)

Monday, June 17, 2013

Modest IS Hottest! Science proves it :p


This girl's talk is amazing! She's not LDS, but she brings up some amazing points. In young women's, we learn to dress modestly so that we don't give boys inappropriate thoughts or feelings. Well, that's all well and good, and I agree, but I remember before I was LDS my goal through dressing immodestly was to show that I had "power" over men, not just to "look nice." That is why many girls do choose to dress immodestly, but that is not mentioned in church often and I'm not quite sure why. This girl brings up some scientific evidence showing what that "power" actually is.

A study was done at Princeton University about what sections of the brain are activated and deactivated when men are shown pictures of inappropriately dressed women. When shown pictures of women in bikinis, the part of the brain associated with connecting with others' emotions and intentions actually shuts off, and the part that is associated with tool use is activated. Yes, tools like screwdrivers and hammers. Therefore, the power you are exhibiting over men is the power to literally be seen as an object. When you dress immodestly, their brains literally say "oh nice, a power tool." Scientifically, you are seen as less of a human being. These studies prove that when dressed immodestly, women are inviting men to see them as objects. Now I ask, is that really power? No.
A separate study shows that when men look at pictures of women dressed immodestly, they will use more first person verbs. When women are dressed modestly, men tend to use more third person verbs. Therefore, when you are dressed modestly, men will start to think more about you than themselves. When you are dressed immodestly, they will be selfish and care more about their own appetite and passions, rather than your feelings.

Power is found through a true emotional connection with someone, not through objectification. YOU ARE NOT AN OBJECT. Modest really is hottest! You can find joy through respecting yourself and recognizing that you are a daughter of God! You are a princess, preparing to be a queen! :)

here's the study :) http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2009/02/090216-bikinis-women-men-objects.html

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

It's official: every close friend who's leaving before me is gone!

I just got off the phone with the lovely Suzanne Bikman of the California Redlands Mission as well as the lovely Emily Gerday of the Canada Montreal Mission! They enter the MTC tomorrow but are being set apart tonight! I love them :)
So it's official. My only Mormon friends left are Jenny and Brianna. I won't see Brianna for probably 2 and a half years and I'm leaving Provo next Friday so I won't see Jenny after that. Missionaries really do sacrifice a lot. It's hard not to tell my friends that I will miss them because I don't want them to be sad, but it's hard to be like YAYYY YOU'RE LEAVING!!! Know what I mean?
So, here's a map of where all of my best friends are serving at the moment! (I added myself in there though I'm not there yet:))

The first person to leave was my Pearciepie! I mean... Elder Pearce Yasube Nitta... who I do call Pearciepie... in public. I swear, I embarrass him so much I'm sure he's used to it by now!
Pearce and I actually met at Macy's Great American Marching Band but reconnected at BYU marching band. It was pretty great. Him, Austin and I became best friends because we had all marched drum corps! We connected over our exquisite marching technique... okay, we weren't like BD good but we were pretty good. I love getting emails from Pearce! I stay up every Monday until 2 because I like to read all the funny yet uplifting things he has to say :) He always knows how to make me smile!  Elder Pearce Yasube Nitta is serving in the Hawaii Honolulu Mission and left February 27th! :)
Austin marched The Academy, I marched Jersey Surf,
and Pearce marched Madison Scouts! :)
This is me saying goodbye to Pearce
 the night before he went into the MTC!

Next to leave was Meghan. Wow, that one is a hard one to find my favorite pictures. There are just too many. You see, Meghan is like the eternal best friend. Like... on a scale of 1-meghan, nobody comes even close to being at her status of best-friendship. We met in 5th grade and were political enemies. It was kind of cute! I had a Kerry yard sign on my chair, and she had a Bush one. Neither of us understood much about politics; that's why it's so cute. Anyway, she moved back to California (in my mission area, might I add) for a few years and then back to New York. She came up to me at my very first stake dance and was like "Amanda?" I had no idea who she was... until she said that she was my political enemy in Ms. Rusnak's class. Long story short, she's now my best friend in the ENTIRE world! I'm not quite sure how I managed to find the greatest friend in the history of friends... but it happened. And I'm so incredibly glad it did! Sister Meghan Mary Luisa Ramirez is serving in the Guatemala City South Mission and she left May 1st!
I like this picture because it pretty much epitomizes our personalities!
Next to leave was Austin. I already wrote an entire post about him so I think I'll just let this one slide without saying much. Elder Austin Bruce Hurst is serving in the West Virginia Charleston Mission and he left May 22nd! :)
Fun fact: this was a candid shot and we did those faces at the
same time without even noticing the other doing it. He's so cute :)
And now, last but not least, SuzAAAAAAAAAAAAAnne and EmEEELEEEE! They enter the MTC tomorrow! I'll start with Emily. So, when Emily and I met she didn't exactly like me. She thought I was some crazy New York liberal coming to Provo... and she was absolutely right. She's some innocent little Utah girl, who didn't exactly understand my personality at first. I didn't actually MEAN it when I told her to leave her wheat grinder at home because it would take up space in our apartment. Anyway, she eventually got used to me and recognized that I wasn't as crazy as she thought. I helped free her innocent mind a little and opened her up to the real world rather than just the Utah bubble that she'd been in for oh so long. Fun fact: when she got called Spanish speaking to Montreal (she already speaks English and French because she lived in France), she greeted me with "aloha" and I almost died. EMILY. YOU AREN'T PEARCE! It's HOLA! It's cute though, she has a weird drunken French accent when she speaks Spanish. Anyway, Hermana Emily Amanda Gerday will be serving in the Canada Montreal Mission June 12th!
SuzAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAne! What to say about Suzanne... well, she gives really good head rubs. Whenever I had a bad day, I would just go put my head in her lap and she would play with my hair for hours. It was the best. She was pretty much the mother of our apartment, probably because she's like the second mother to her 7 younger siblings! She fixed holes in our pants, modest-ified our dresses, and of course, gave the best mommy hugs ever. At first when I met her, I though she was going to be a crazy antisocial home-schooled hick from Texas. Well I got a few of those right. Between the John Deer blanket and Texas flag, I'm pretty sure it's quite obvious that she's a hick and a Texan. Texan nationalist actually... she was also home-schooled, but she surprisingly doesn't have any of the weird home-schooled quirks... which is good. I'm glad she's not a weirdo! Sister Suzanne Mardonne Bikman is going to the California Redlands Mission on June 12th! By the way, that borders the Carlsbad mission! :D

This is our suite at General Conference! Suzanne and Emily are in the middle, and Jenny and I are on the ends. Jenny started her papers Sunday and hopes to leave around January! 
We also had a 5th roommate... but she didn't actually live in our room even though she was there pretty much as much as we were. BRIANNA! :D She's deciding whether or not to go on a mission at the moment! I love her so much!
These pictures accurately what we were like in public versus what we were like with each other. In public, we were perfect little Mormon girls who behaved ourselves quite well and always did what was asked. When it was just us... well... bring on the inappropriate conversations and dance parties!
look at us we're so cute and normal well-behaved and oh wait...

never mind.

So there you go, all of my best friends who are on missions. Oh, the life of a BYU freshman. :)
P.S. I didn't forget about you, Brandi! But you aren't going on a mission. Guys, Brandi is my best friend from New York! I will post things about her when I get back to New York! :)

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Probably One of the Weirdest Conversion Stories You'll Ever Hear

People are always saying "I WILL NEVER DATE A NON-MEMBER!" You know, that's a good rule, so you don't lower your standards. However, there is this weird story that I'm going to tell you where dating a non-member was a GREAT idea.
It's called my conversion.
I'm not saying that the "flirt to convert" philosophy works often, but it does work sometimes!
It all started in 8th grade. I got the romantic lead in our middle school play, "Guys and Dolls," and this kid Jaden got the other. I had never seen him before in my life, and but thought he was pretty cute... and kind of awkward. Anyway, we had to kiss a lot on stage--and I was his first kiss, though he totally won't admit that. We tried to keep it professional, or at least as professional as an 8th grade play can be.
Weren't we adorable?

After a while, ALL the girls started being totally into him, and my very competitive self thought "hey, why not take this challenge?"
Long story short, 2 years later, when I was in 10th grade, I asked him out. After dating for 4 months, he broke up with me because he wasn't 16 yet. I didn't exactly understand why being 16 was such a huge deal. So what does he do? Defend his faith and show me For the Strength of Youth! It very clearly says that he had to be 16 to date. I thought that was stupid at first, but then I thought about it. Maybe having morals would be a good idea!

So I began going to church. I really loved how nice and loving everyone was. Other churches I had visited just condemned people who weren't them. I love the Mormon idea that God is merciful and gives people second chances. I began going to church in January 2010. March of 2010 was the General Young Women's Broadcast. During Uchtdorf's talk, the spirit simply whispered "you need to be baptized." His talk helped me finally realize that I have divine worth and I deserved to be treated well by boys and that would eventually happen. I didn't really understand what that entailed because I had been objectified for long, I really didn't know the what "respect" was. Uchtdorf helped me realize that the changes I was making in my life to become more moral and a better person were going to be worth it in the long run (fun fact, it was hard, but TOTALLY worth it! One day I got home from Austin's before we were even dating and just cried tears of happiness because I finally knew what it was like to be respected and it felt so amazing. He has never treated me like any less than a daughter of God and future goddess!).
When I said that I wanted to be baptized out loud, it seemed that every girl in the stake looked at me. It was kind of scary; I didn't really know what exactly the big deal was. Anyway, I was baptized a month later on April 25th, 2010!
It was prettttty cool :) I didn't feel some huge difference; I just felt good! :)
When I was baptized, I did it because it FELT right, not because I had a legitimate testimony. It wasn't until 3 months later that we went to Palmyra for youth conference that I actually felt the spirit testify that the church was true.
We went to the sacred grove, and at first it just seemed like a regular forest. In all honesty, I thought Joseph Smith was kind of crazy. But in this amazing forest it was revealed to me that he truly was a prophet of God who saw Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ, translated the Book of Mormon, and restored the gospel to the earth. I'm so grateful for the sacrifices he made so that this work could be brought to pass!
I didn't have some huge spiritual confirmation or anything. When I prayed if the church was true, I simply felt peace. The spirit doesn't yell at you--it whispers at you. It helps you feel at peace.
Of course, my testimony has grown significantly since then because of my continued efforts to grow spiritually and learn more. Something that truly amazes me about the LDS church that really proves to me how real it is is the fact that everything simply works together. Everything just makes sense! I think that was what really formed my testimony, was just that additional information could be added without any conflict. This is probably because EVERYTHING points back to the Atonement! Without the Atonement, there is no Plan of Salvation. We wouldn't be able to return to live with God. We wouldn't be able to have agency and be able to actually deal with the consequences on an eternal level. We couldn't have prophets--because the point of prophets is to testify of Christ. We wouldn't have any happiness at all because we would be basking in the sorrow of our sins. We wouldn't have anything. We NEED the atonement. I didn't realize it until I finally learned about it just how badly I needed it, and after taking advantage of it and the repentance process, I finally am truly happy. I've found happiness on a higher level than simple worldly "happiness," which isn't true happiness to begin with because it simply includes the natural man fulfilling its carnal desires. By living worthy enough to have the spirit guiding my life, I've been able to find real happiness because I better understand what it is.
THAT'S why I'm going on a mission. I want people to know what true happiness is and how to get it. I promise, if you live the commandments that God has set out for you, no matter how hard it may be at first, YOU WILL BE HAPPY! I'd like to testify to all the young women especially that you are worth so much more than the world makes you out to be! The world tells you that you need to be skinny and beautiful and perfect. But guess what? You are beautiful. I know it sounds corny, but think about it: God created you. You are his daughter. You are the daughter of a GOD! You are preparing to become a goddess! If that doesn't say that you are worth a lot, I don't know what does. Oh wait, yes I do! <This song helped me through sooo much! And it can help you too! It can help you recognize your worth in God's eyes and his love for you, his child. Forget what the world has to say. The world is STUPID. Start to look at your life in the eternal perspective, and you will find peace and joy, I promise! :)

Well, this blog post is over BUT

I'd like to quickly show you all a few things. First of all, Jaden's entire family is adorable!
Here they are at my sweet 16! They got a candle:)
P.S. I know, my shoulders are showing. I wasn't taught modesty by then :p

Second of all, I was looking for pictures of Jaden and I and... it turns out that this is our friendship picture on facebook. He's going to kill me for putting this up but whatever, it's hilarious. It was 80's day at school :p