Sunday, October 27, 2013


I'm sure Webster's Dictionary has some lengthy, dry definition for 'Theory', but I'm not much interested in it. For my objective something the level of a 4th grader will suffice. Don't cite me on it, but I'd define a theory as a plausible explanation for why things happen.

The first of my theories was really a miracle. Austin West, my high school hero, spoke in his home ward today, addressing the congregation in what was his missionary homecoming address. It's been just over a year now since he returned from Indiana and was honorably released as a full-time missionary. Austin and myself share similar circumstances. We share whatever composition of genetics, environment, and neuro-chemistry that constitute psychological ailment. I don't intend to compare any of his experiences to mine because I simply have hardly an idea of their nature, but the thought that I am not alone in seemingly unconquerable barriers is sweetly hopeful.

My first theory is that in any situation we are not the first to walk that path. Perhaps the road might not be lighted by a childhood friend, cross-country captain, and medically-released missionary, but without question there is always Someone. And because of that Someone, we are assured that we are never alone.

Next, almost one year prior, I was running on the American Fork High School's track. The Utah state cross-country championship crept into vision, and I wasn't about to let it out of sight without my fair chance of participation. Thousands of miles and four years of painful dedication amounted to one event of my senior year. I crossed the finish line ninth man on our team prior to region. The race following would determine which seven boys would represent our team at State.

The last workout before the Region 4 Championships was 600m repeats on the track. Toes touched the line and in a flurry of feet we were off. Rounding the first corner there was a stumble of three or four boys, and in an attempt to avoid collision my right ankle was wrenched from under me. Collapsing in pain my years of dreams were surrendered. There would be no likelihood of qualification with an ankle the size of cantaloupe. Though seeing no way to stand, immediately at my side stood Sam Everett and Connor Hoopes, and with their help I rose up. Years of wishing were devastated, but in hindsight, not without reason.

I could ramble about my theories for days, but as closure I believe that significant events don't happen without more significant purposes. Maybe my cross-country season was ruined. Maybe my mission was revised. Maybe there exists no parallel between the two. But maybe what awaits me is a grand future.

So theories or not, my fingers are crossed.

Austin West- someone should write a book about this guy.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Pushing Pause

This entry is for my younger brothers, cousins, and anyone else who echoes the words, "I hope they call me on a mission!"

It isn't an inventory of excuses, a dialouge of drama, or a catalog of complaints. No, that's quite contrary to my objective.

I can't rewind time and stop a stumble, but I can show you what it's like to rise up and dust yourself off.

From the front rows of sunbeams my eyes sparkled with eagerness for suits, nametags, and all the magic that came with a foot-or-two. Bedtime stories were best from the mouth of a knight in shining armor who bravely battled in the kingdom of East Germany some many years before. Scout camps, piggy banks, and scripture stories all coached to one commission. Contrary to 1st grade addition, everything seemed to add up to the number 2.

Before I could blink, my arms were wrapped tightly around my precious mother and time swept me into fictional reality. Altered lyrics resonated the halls of the MTC as we sang, "We are now the Lord's missionaries to bring the world His truth."

And I lived happily-ever-after, right?

Well, no one said that happily-ever-after doesn't come without mountains to climb.

My mountain came in the shape of psychological illness. It wasn't something I chose, nor did it come as a consequence of disobedience. Instead it carries the
potential to shape me into something magnificent.

For the moment, I am home on Medical Release from my full-time service as a missionary. It isn't a conclusion to my call to serve, but rather a brief pause to a fairytale ending.

Maybe I can't change my tragedy. But I can embrace it.

Thank you family, friends, and otherwise teammates for your love, support, and prayers on my behalf.  
You are the greatest encouragement any missionary could ask for.


Family Forever

Monday, October 7, 2013

The Numbers Don't Matter But They Count

Dearest Family:

Thank you for your warm regards and for your prayers. It's funny that I can physiologically feel them. Quite the sensation as a missionary. I wouldn't dare estimate how many you say for me in a given day- I don't think my apartment would have the room to hold the tally marks. But I do appreciate them. I need them.

This week I was privileged to take part in my first baptismal service as a missionary. I won't disclose her name for reasons evident, but we call her Iba. She's been investigating the Church for almost 2 months now. My companion and I were blessed to teach her the restored gospel of Jesus Christ. To say she is golden would be like calling the Whitehouse a satisfactory residence. She is incredible! And such an unmatched strength to the Church in a country where the collective membership is fewer than there were in my former deacons quorom. Most missionaries would kill for the chance to share the gospel in a country where the number of missionaries can be counted on two hands. What a calling!

We also had the chance to watch a bit of General Conference on the other side of the world. Because of the 8 hours or so time exchange, it was a bit tough. But we, the missionaries, gathered in the home of the senior couple in Prishtina to view it. It was better than the super bowl. We had goodies and good company and mostly a good time. We only had time for the Priesthood and Sunday Morning sessions, but it was unmatched!

Missionary work is tough. It's very slow. Very demanding. But very rewarding. And in a place where Christ is needed most, it's very necessary. I am the tool in the hands of the Father. And He is doing something incredible here. To those who are discouraged, put yourself in His hands and watch Him do miracles. I love you and pray for your happiness. Keep in mind that it's always darkest before dawn. Wise words of a wise woman. Until then.


Elder Benson Gunther

Just a funny, common sight with local telephone poles.

The field IS white already to harvest!

We did a very allegorical service project for one of the members this week, harvesting corn.

Baptism number one for Elder Gunther. But it's more than just a number

General Conference Viewing Party- An LDS equivalent of the superbowl.