President Nelson issued three challenges this past week to all the children of this world. First, to flood social media with the things we are grateful for. Secondly, to say a prayer of gratitude, and lastly to draw a closer relationship to our Savior through gratitude. He promised healing as we do this. I think that this healing will be more than a healing from the current pandemic, but a healing of our spiritual wounds. Andy spoke on this challenge in our ward today. My dad asked me to transcribe his talk, so I will do that at the end of this post. Andy will have to look over it later and edit as he remembers because he didn’t read exactly what he wrote:
When I enlisted to become a soldier, they put “Special forces training” in my contract. This was the first of many lies from the Army. After basic training, I got on a bus to North Carolina, where I thought I would begin my training to become a Green Beret. When I got there no one knew where I was supposed to be and in fact tried to send me back to Utah. Ultimately no one knew where I was supposed to be so I asked if they could let me go to selection. There was a general there who signed the waiver (due to me not being of age) and I boarded the bus to selection. The general probably thought, “Well we don’t know what else to do with him, doubt he’ll make it a day, so why not.” After being selected as a Green Beret after two weeks of a grueling training/selection process I continued my Special Forces training. Q-course, also known as the qualification course, is a series of schools to become a special forces soldier. One of those classes is SERE school. In that class, you learn how to evade the enemy, get chased around the woods for a week and then get caught and go to an interrogation camp for “a couple of days.” I later realized the description for SERE school was another one of the many lies the Army told me. I was lead to believe it was a week in the woods living off the land, kind of like a camping trip. Instead I found myself laying in a pool of shallow cold water in late November being sprayed with a water hose. I was shivering and wishing they would just kill me, while they continued on singing Willy Nelson’s songs in a voice not even his own mother could love. Every time I tried to get up, a large man would force me back to the ground. I remember looking to my left and seeing my best friend in a similar situation, the look in his eyes said the same thing I was thinking in my head, “I should have listened to my parents and gone on a mission instead.”
A year later, my friend and I excitedly boarded a plane for a four month, paid vacation to Afghanistan, Helmand Providence. The brochure looked promising, but yet again, I was deceived. We spent the first four months hauling into random places to capture high value targets. It was non stop dodgeball with bullets. After taking several to the plates, I was sure that this is where my life was going to end. We were driving up armours to another objective when we got a call over the radio of a base in danger of being over-run. Our team was redirected to Jehad where a Chinook was on standby for insertion into the Nurestan Provence. It was winter and I didn’t have any cold weather gear. The pilot gave us some light jackets they had. We loaded our racks with extra ammo, demolitions, and all the 60 mm recruiters rifle rounds we could find. Everyone gave us hugs and we got on the Chinooks. I remember the pilot was a young girl that was crying as we loaded. I guess she realized, as we did, that this might not end well for us. They decided to insert us near the overrun base and divert the counter attack before climbing up the mountain to an outpost that was also under attack, and there was a storm covering in that would prevent any air support for a few days.
We landed in a FOB the overrun base as a massive amount of casualties came in and our Chinook refueled. Myself and the other medic treated the wounded as the surgeon took them to the operating room. Our Chopper was refueled and took off again. We were inserted at about 0200 in the morning and advanced on the enemy. We diverted the counter attack giving them time to finish evacuating the base. We then climbed the mountain to the small outpost and immediately began taking small counter fire as it began to sleet. The next few days we fought off attack after attack. We began running low on ammo and our team leader decided to let us all call home off the nonsecure satellite phone because it wasn’t looking good. That night, I lay shivering inside a body bag, pulling watch next to my buddy, Casey. Mortars started exploding all around us and we began to return fire. We blew the claymores and the enemy retreated again. As mortar shells fell around us, we hunkered down, hoping the next one wouldn’t hit us. My buddy, Casey, sat next to me, the same friend that went through SERE school with me. He started laughing hysterically. And all I could think was “what on earth could this idiot be laughing about?”Casey started laughing uncontrollably. I thought to myself, “What could possibly be so funny??” I was a little irritated, “What?” I shouted at him. He smiled at me and shouted back, “At least we aren’t freezing in the People’s Pool.” And he began laughing again. I too started laughing. All of the sudden, I felt better. I was so glad I wasn’t in the People’s Pool.
I learned two valuable lessons that day. Trials that we go through together bring us together and form bonds that last forever when we work together. Casey and I still talk on a normal basis and I will always have his back as I know he has mine. I have also seen this in my marriage and kids. My wife and I have been through a lot between being in the army and going through the medical journey, having four kids in the process, and more. And I have definitely felt closer to her because of all we have been through.
The second lesson is that if we find the things we are grateful for, we remember those and we can uplift our spirits and better those around us. My friend did that for me. He was grateful he was on that mountain top and not back in SERE school. With that grateful thought, our Spirits were lifted and we survived long enough to get air support.
President Nelson gave us a message, directed to the world about being grateful for the things we have. With all the nonsense going on in the world, we need to heal. To do this, we need what he calls, “the healing power of gratitude.” In Psalms 92:1 it tells us, “It is a good thing to give thanks unto the Lord.”
President Nelson left us with three challenges in his message. 1) Make social media a gratitude journal with the hashtag #GiveThanks. 2) Say a prayer of gratitude and 3) Build a better relationship with Jesus Christ by counting our blessings.
I am not big on social media, but I told my wife I would use it for a gratitude journal. I ma going to spend more time telling Heavenly Father what I am grateful for, and I am going to write down my blessings as I see them. To close I would like to share what I am grateful for.
I am grateful for a wife that loves me and spends her time loving and playing with our kids.
I am grateful for my job and know the Lord has helped me and Elise make it to this point.
I am grateful for the amount of joy my kids get from eating pizza and Star Wars. I have learned a lot from their simple prayers of gratitude. The things they thank Heavenly Father for are often things we take for granted, and I think it’s important to take the time to stop and appreciate everything we have.
And I too am grateful for Pizza.
And of course, I am truly grateful for the gospel of Jesus Christ. He closed with a testimony, but didn’t write it down, so I’ll let him add that here later.
My mother in law came into town last weekend and left on Thursday. Bev fell asleep in the car on the way to drop her off and didn’t wake up until we got back to our neighborhood. She said, “Why are we home?” And then gasped, “Where’s grandma??” Then proceeded to cry. It was quite a disappointment for her. She thought she was going to get to go with Grandma to Texas. In fact, Andy and I bug bombed our house (a yearly ritual because of the spiders) and we had to leave the house while it did its thing. We got in the car and Andy said, “OK, where do you guys want to go?” Bev’s first response was, “Texas!” That was a bit longer than we had planned to stay away from the house so we told her another time. We had a lot of fun with Grandma. We shopped and played card games, two of her favorite things. She brought her delicious and beautiful sugar cookies. We had an arrangement of Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Bev’s birthday cookies. The kids love them and Mav is spoiled and expects them. Other than having fun with Grandma, I don’t remember much from the week. Could be the headache I have right now, or merely I’m just exhausted, because I do remember doing three hours of laundry yesterday (and still having a basket of whites). Oh! We did get a new Christmas tree. I love it! It is so nice to have a tree that’s metal center isn’t glaring you in the face. We’re not retiring the med-school budget Christmas tree quite yet, we’re going to let the kids decorate that tree and I get to decorate the big one!
I’ll end this blog post like Andy ended his talk. I am grateful for so many things. The top of my list are of course, my Savior Jesus Christ. I still feel like I’m learning how the empowering part of His Atonement works, but I have felt his forgiveness, mercy, and long suffering towards me.
I am grateful for Andy. He is such a kind man. He really loves to help and take great joy in serving me and others. I am grateful he is a worthy priesthood holder. I am grateful for his love for me and our children.
I am grateful for my beautiful children, each one brings a different piece of beauty into my life. Beverly is so smart and loves to spend time with me, something that I appreciate now, but will be a lot of fun as she gets older. Maverick is my comedian, always making me smile and laugh. Max is my helper. He has such a kind and gentle heart. Harvey is a light in our lives and I can’t wait to see his personality grow and develop.
I’m grateful for my parents and in laws. They have both taught me so much about love, kindness, and generosity, just to name a few of the many things I’ve learned from them.
And to follow the example of Maverick, I’m going to share the gratitude I have for the little things. I’m grateful for dark chocolate, a good workout, a clean house, not to mention a house that I love, a comfy, dependable and convenient mini-van. I’m grateful for art and the therapy it offers me. I’m grateful for the view out my front window and hope they put off construction of the houses they’re going to build there for as long as possible. And last but not least, I’m grateful for all of you. If you’re reading this then you must really love me ;).