Friday, July 15, 2011

My Testimony

Today is a pretty big anniversary.  It was twenty-four months ago that I bid my family farewell and walked into the Missionary Training Center.  It does not feel like it, but dates do not lie.  As I look back, the time has flown and at the same time crawled.  I have never been happier; at the same time I have never been more depressed.  I have never felt so loved and surrounded by friends as well as so alone and forgotten.   

Me overlooking Billings my first day here
It is amazing to me how much I have grown in two short years.  I have had to step out of my comfort shell to talk to complete strangers, step up to fulfill different leadership roles, ask people to completely change their lives, learned how to apply the gospel and Atonement in my own life, and of course the dreaded missionary weight gain (I don't think 20-30 pounds is too bad for two years :). 

People always ask us where we have served, and most are shocked when I list all of my areas.  I apparently got a good little tour of the state.  From Worland, WY, to Missoula to Great Falls to Stevensville to Bigfork/Lakeside to Shepherd/Heights to Billings I had the opportunity to meet and interact with some of the best of the best.  I also was blessed to be able to see many people make promises with our Father in Heaven through the ordinance of baptism and to find a new hope and a new light in their life.

When I came out, I committed that I would do everything I could to continually bear testimony of four principles.  They are: Jesus Christ, His love for mankind, His Atoning sacrifice, and His church here on the earth.  I cannot think of a more lasting place then here on the Internet to share my feelings and what I truly do know.

I know that Jesus Christ is the Savior and Redeemer of the world.  I know that He lives and has a very active part of our lives.
I know that He has an unconditional love for each and every one of us.  No matter how far from the path we may stray, His arms are always outstretched, ready to receive us and welcome us home.
I know that in the Garden of Gethsemane Jesus Christ suffered not only the consequences and price for our sins, but also all of our heartaches, our pains, our sufferings, our concerns, our worries, our doubts, our horrible no-good rotten bad days multiplied by eternity!  He did this so that we do not have to go through those low moments alone; that He could give us strength to carry through.
I know on the cross that He willingly laid down his life, but was resurrected the third day so that we may all conquer death and return to live with Him after this life.
I know that He and our Father in Heaven appeared to a young boy in a grove of trees and that through the prophet Joseph Smith, the Lord restored his church and kingdom to the earth once again.
I know that Jesus Christ continues to lead His church and reveals his will to a living day prophet, Thomas S. Monson.
I have a testimony that the priesthood authority of God has been restored to the earth and that authority is what makes it possible for us to be united with our families forever.
I know that it is only through obedience to the will of God that we can have lasting happiness and peace in this life, as well as a fulness of joy in the life to come.

Two years may not seem like a long time, but how grateful I am for the chance I have had to serve a mission and for the chance I have to continue to serve our Savior for the rest of my life!

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Twelve Men

Before I came out on my mission, I heard it said that in the two years you serve a mission you learn lessons that would otherwise take you twenty years  to learn.  When I heard that I did not believe it, but having served I can say that is true.  

As my full-time missionary service is drawing to a close, I have been reflecting on the past two years and all the things I have learned from my experience here.  I have decided that I want to share some of those lessons through a couple of blog posts.

I was privileged to serve with some of the greatest missionaries here in Montana and Wyoming.  The twelve companions I had on the mission have done so much for me and taught me so many things.  Some of them I was with for only six weeks and others I spent longer; however, regardless of how long we were companions, I was taught and edified by each and everyone of them.  Here are just a few of the lessons I have learned from them, in no particular order.

  • What genuine service means.
  • Humility means trusting in the Lord and letting him guide your life.
  • How to be a leader through example rather than words.
  • Some of the biggest regrets you will have in life are how you treated people.
  • Miracles happen as you pray and have faith.
  • You cannot always wait for someone to give directions.  Step up when you know what is right.
  • Expect the unexpected, especially in the people whom you call friends.
  • Nothing drives the Spirit away faster than disobedience and contention.
  • Everyone has personal issues.  Some are obvious and some are hidden.  The trick is to love no matter what.
  • It is ok to have fun and be crazy every now and then.
  • You will have to be patient with others a lot of the time.  Just know that people feel the same way about you.  
  • There is no lasting joy nor pleasure in disobedience to the commandments.
  • You cannot do everything by yourself all the time. 
  • You never stand taller than when you are on your knees.
  • True repentance is a continual process that changes lives.
  • How to have true love for people you serve.
  • Give it your all and get out to work!
The Lord truly blesses us with the lessons we need to learn and the people to teach them to us.  I am grateful for the chance I had to serve with each and every one of these missionaries, as well as all the missionaries whom I served around.  Without them, I would not be the person I am today, a dedicated disciple of our Heavenly Father and our Savior, Jesus Christ.

Elder Mortensen
MTC: July 15th - August 4th, 2009

Elder King
Worland: August 5th - September 14th, 2009

Elder Cook
Missoula: September 15th - December 7th, 2009
Elder Isham
Great Falls: December 8th, 2009 - January 18th, 2010
Elder Wardell
Great Falls: January 19th - March 1st, 2010

Elder Orton
Great Falls: March 2nd - May 24th, 2010

Elder Murillo
Great Falls: May 25th - July 5th, 2010
Elder Senior
Stevensville: July 6th - August 16th, 2010

Elder King (round 2)
Bigfork/Lakeside: August 17th - September 27th, 2010

Elder Carlson
Bigfork/Lakeside: September 28th - December 20th, 2010
Elder Moore
Shepherd: December 21st, 2010 - April 25th 2011
Elder Ika
Billings: April 26th - June 6th, 2011
Elder Garcia
Billings: June 7th, 2011 - present (will end on July 18th)

Thursday, June 23, 2011

"The Very Jaws of Hell..."

About a year ago, my life changed significantly.  No it was not when I graduated high school or when I came out on my mission.  June 26, 2010, changed my life because of this moment...

My kitchen is where the big fireball is coming from

That house on fire, that was mine...

After a lesson we had in Great Falls, my companion and I noticed we had missed a call from President Gardner, our mission president.  Jokingly I turned to my companion and said something to the effect of "A surprise phone call from President is never a good thing."  I could not have been more accurate in that statement.  When I called him back that evening, he told me the news that my home in La Verkin had been burned to the ground.  A neighbor had been burning some weeds when the wind picked the embers up and lit the hill my home was on ablaze.  In a matter of minutes the house was consumed.  He told me that my family was safe and told me to call them.  I did so, and then found out my mom had been taken to the hospital due to smoke inhalation and that the fire was still smoldering.  As far as my family knew, we had nothing left.
The remains of the house

At first, my mind could not comprehend it all.  Soon I began to register everything and I became an emotional wreck.  I went out into our garage and did what missionaries do...I prayed.  I literally just poured out my confusion and anxiety and frustration and all my emotions to our Heavenly Father.  As I did so, three verses of scripture came to my mind.  They were...
  • Therefore, thrust in your sickle with all your soul, and your sins are forgiven you, and you shall be laden with sheaves upon your back, for the laborer is worthy of his hire. Wherefore, your family shall live.  Behold, verily I say unto you, go from them only for a little time, and declare my word, and I will prepare a place for them. (D&C 31:5-6)
  • Thy friends do stand by thee, and they shall hail thee again with warm hearts and friendly hands.  Thou art not yet as Job; thy friends do not contend against thee. (D&C 121:9-10)
  • ...If the very jaws of hell shall gape open the mouth wide after thee, know thou, my son, that all these things shall give thee experience, and shall be for thy good. (D&C 122:7, emphasis added)
The basement walls
I then felt the calm reassurance that all would be well.  Not a moment after I finished my prayer, an inspired ward mission leader called to check on how the work was progressing, and I was able to report all the good things that were going on in our area.  I then walked back into the house to be greeted by three of my best friends and fellow missionaries.  My family was safe and I realized that that is truly the greatest blessing of all.

Miracles abounded and love was felt by both myself here in Montana as well as my family back home.  People from all over the community began inundating my family with gifts of clothes and food and shelter.  My brother said it best in an essay he wrote for school when he said,
For weeks after the fire my family was asked everywhere we went how we were doing. And we would always say we were fine and thank them for their concern, but in truth we were far better than fine, because we had so many people there for us that we were just overwhelmed with love. (Wixom, Wil. "The Worst Day". West of Zion.)
Construction as of Jan. 2011
We may have lost almost all our material possessions that summer day, but the experience has truly been a blessing for my family.  We are closer and more united.  The doubts and concerns we had about the goodness of humanity were replaced by the knowledge that people care, are genuinely kind,  and have an innate desire to serve and to help.

The Lord truly watched out for my family and prepared a place for them.  My family was able to rebuild on the same lot that our home once stood.  Life has continued to go on as time keeps its steady beat.  My dad one week after the fire stated "Our life before was great, we couldn't imagine it being better. Right now life is good, but it will be great again. ("From Ashes-Blessings". West of Zion)"  I can now say that life has reached that unimaginable level of better, because we have grown and we ourselves have become better; for as the Lord says in 1st Nephi, "Behold, I have refined thee, I have chosen thee in the furnace of affliction. (1st Nephi 20:10)"

The new home, a beacon of life and hope on the hill

Friday, June 17, 2011

The Lesson He Probably Thinks I Forgot

Right before I came out on my mission, I was asked to give a talk in church on Father's Day.  The topic I was assigned was "Traits my father has that I hope to have as a dad one day" and then to give examples of stories.  Needless to say, I relished the opportunity to share some stories, some maybe embarrassing, about my dad that not many people knew.  I shared lessons from camping trips, his example of taking care of his family, and others that have helped set me on the right course.  With Father's Day this weekend, I wanted to add a story to that list; a lesson my dad taught me.  I do not know if he remembers this encounter we had, but I sure do...

My sophomore year in high school I decided I wanted to get involved with the cross-country team at our high school.  In all honesty it started off because I really liked the coach and I felt that cross-country was the only sport I could do decently in.  Well, the first day of practice came and went and I was sore beyond all imagination.  I had never ran like that before and my legs did not enjoy it at all.  I felt terrible and did not want to keep pursuing the running.  My parents in an effort to help, which I was completely and utterly against at the time, decided that I needed to practice.  Their logic to me was..."You're sore, go run, feel better."  Needless to say I did not get it nor did I really want to at the time; however, they "strongly" convinced me to put the shoes on and go running while my dad followed on his bike.

I did not get very far before I gave up and started walking in rebellion.  My dad then began into the lecture about how I would not get better unless I practiced and how I would feel better.  All the while I was trying to ignore him and not happy with what I was doing and saying how I was giving up.  Then my dad, with all the simplicity and bluntness that fathers can produce, said in effect, "If you think this is hard and are going to give up, you are in trouble.  Your mission will be the hardest thing you do.  Are you going to give up when it gets hard then too?"  In my defiance I said no.  Besides, I thought that it would not be as hard as he made it seem.  Needless to say...I was wrong.

I did continue running with the cross-country team (I was manager my sophomore year and then ran with the team for two years), and my legs finally got the point.  I was tired but I kept going and got better.  One of my greatest memories is crossing the finish line of the Regional meet my senior year, knowing I had given it my all that race.  Likewise, I have grown and been strengthened on my mission in ways I did not know were possible.  I am grateful for the patience and support my dad has given me in all aspects of my life and for the lessons he taught me, even when he thought I was not listening. 

Happy Father's Day dad!
My dad

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

What do a monkey, a fly, and a panic-stricken elder have in common?

Take a moment and see if you can figure out what a monkey, a fly, and a panic-stricken elder have in common by looking at these pictures.

In a meeting we had recently, a fellow missionary was leading a discussion about the desires of our hearts and how they drive us.  He mentioned our families and the desire to share the things that have blessed our lives.  I reflected on what drove me to come on a mission and the things that matter most to me.  And then the missionary said something that really stood out to me.  He said...
He then went on to explain that we have to continually be focused on what we want.  If we allow ourselves to be pulled this way and that, we will come to the end and realize we missed out on the joy and peace that could have been ours.

There are so many things that are clamoring for our attention.  School, career, family, friends, religion, hobbies, and events of life each call for a bit of us.  This life for each of us should be to focus on what truly matters, for we cannot call back the sands of time once they have passed on.  If we give into the numerous distractions that are all along our way, we will fall short of what has been promised us and what we truly desire. Thus, we become the monkey stuck in the trap due to food, the fly tricked by the sweet scents,or the accident caused by losing calm.  On the other hand, if we stay true to the course, we will be welcomed into the heavens with the knowledge that we have obtained our up-most desires.

My plan is to take some time and focus on what I really want and desire, to see what distractions there are that will keep me from those goals, and then do everything I can to overcome those distractions.  I want to say at the end, that I lived my life with no regrets.

Images taken from,, and the office of Elder Ives (no I was not the one driving the car)

Sunday, May 22, 2011

The School Bus Episode

The other day as Elder Ika and I drove to the mission home, we saw all the kids heading to school.  A lot were on their bikes, some were walking, and some had gotten rides from their parents.  However, the most recognizable mode of transport was that of the big yellow school buses.  As I watched them drop off students, my thoughts took me back to an incident in my life that happened about fifteen years ago... 

My family and I were living in Colorado at the time.  I was either in kindergarten or first grade and decided that I wanted to ride the bus to and from school.  My mom walked me down to the corner which served as the bus stop, gave me a hug, and told me that she would be waiting for me after school at the corner.  It was a lot of fun riding the bus with my friends and school was of course all that little kids want.

On the way home while on the bus, I tried to pay special attention to where we stopped because I wanted to make sure I got off at the right stop.  Well, there was a stop on the corner with a hill leading up just like the road that I lived on.  So of course I got off.  Then it hit me...I was not at the right corner.  Terror and fear filled my little six-year old body and I did what any kid would do.  I burst into tears.  Luckily the bus driver had waited to make sure we all went on our way, noticed my anguish, and told me to get on.  The next stop we went to guess who was at the corner.  It was none other but my mom.  I had forgotten that she had promised that she would be there.  What relief and joy filled me at that moment.

This morning as I reflected on this experience my mind was taken to a scripture found in the Book of Mormon.  It is 2nd Nephi chapter 31 verse 20, which states "Wherefore, ye must press forward with a steadfastness in Christ...wherefore, if ye shall press forward and endure to the end, behold, thus saith the shall have eternal life."  Endure to the end, it is definitely one of those phrases that is easier said than done.  Endure to the end means to keep going and stay true to what we know and the commitments we have made to our Heavenly Father.  Endure to the end means that each day we need to do a little more and be a little better.

Christ's Embrace
I learned the lesson of enduring to the end on the school bus, I just did not realize it.  Had I trusted in my mom's promise and looked for her at the corner, I could have avoided the fear that came with getting off the path early.  We never know when our "end" is; however, as we work each day and trust in the Lord's promises, He will be there to comfort us and give us strength.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Tribute to my mom

At six months old
Since tomorrow is Mother's Day, I felt it appropriate to write a post about my mom who has given me so much.

Ann Evadna Dickamore was born on July 8th, 1966, to Henry and Janet Dickamore.  She is the oldest of seven children, six girls and one boy.  As such, she spent a lot of time baby-sitting her siblings, a duty that came with many stories to pass on.  She attended Clinton, Sunset, and South Weber elementary, North Davis junior high, and Clearfield high, graduating in 1984.  After graduating she went on to Ricks college in Rexburg, Idaho, and Stephens Henegers.

All seven kids
On June 21st, 1988, Ann married Richard Dean Wixom.  In 1990, their first born (and coolest I might add) son was born, followed by two more sons and two daughters in the up-coming years.

My mom has taught me so much in the years, even though most of the time it did not seem like I was paying attention.  She taught me first of all the importance of family.  I will always remember one dinner conversation in my teen years in which she rebuked my brothers and I for fighting.  She made it personal and taught us from the scriptures using Alma and his sons.

Ann and Rick
Another lesson I learned from my mom was to encourage others to develop their talents.  In seventh grade when I started to learn to play the trumpet, I know I drove her crazy with the noise; however, she just put me in the corner and told me to keep practicing.  She supported me in everything I wanted to do in life and told me to go for it.

Mom, Dad, and 18-month Hunter
The last lesson I want to mention that my mom taught me is that no matter how much taller or faster or "stronger" than your mom you are, she will always win.  There was one incident when I was younger and in my infinite knowledge of youth challenged her lack of knowledge.  Well, she picked me up, I tried to run up the wall, we almost both fell over, she dropped me and then grounded me for a week.  You would have thought I would have learned, but of course not; that lesson was bound to repeat itself in the years to come.

 I know I would not be who I am today if it were not for my mom.  I am grateful for her help in my life.  Sure do love you mom.  Have a Happy Mother's Day!

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