I'll admit that when I heard there was a new official church-produced documentary being released called 'Meet The Mormons' I was a little skeptical. I mean, the lives of six Mormons are being broadcast as examples of what we members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are all like, and yet we are all so different in many ways. I especially consider myself quite different from the 'Standard Utah Mormon'.
But at a young adult convention in Perth about 6 months ago we watched it together one night on a huge movie screen under the stars, and I was pleasantly surprised how much I enjoyed it. In fact, halfway through I forgot I was watching a documentary about Mormons at all, and just felt I was watching a documentary about inspiring people.
You see, the people they chose for this documentary are hardly 'standard' at all, which seems to emphasise the diversity of the people, languages and cultures within the church, yet they have all embraced the same gospel and teachings. Even the woman presented as the cliche classic of 'missionary mum' has a surprisingly unconventional story to tell.
I really loved the segment of the Nepalese guy who chose to come back with his family after getting an education abroad so that he could help his own poverty-stricken community. His love for his people and his culture is beautiful to see, and he so humbly desires just to make life better for those around him and was able to establish a school so they could also receive the gift of education without travelling far. He travels to other remote communities using his Engineering knowledge to build schools, roads and water systems for them.
I watched it again recently in Melbourne, and this time I was really touched by the 'Candy Bomber', an elderly man who, back when he was a young pilot in the US air force, decided to add to his official duties of providing humanitarian food drops to East Germany by dropping lollies and sweets from his plane, each with a little parachute attached to ensure a smooth landing into the hands of a child in need of cheering up. War times are never pleasant, but sometimes there are little things that we can do to lift others and this man chose to do just that, risking dismissal if he got caught. News of his candy bombing spread fast and he indeed was found out by his superiors...but thankfully they recognised the good he was doing and encouraged him to keep going, and many people around the world began sending candy rations to be used for this regular act of kindness. It's just really touching to see a man so humbly think of the needs of others and then putting those thoughts into action. I hope I can be like him.
If you've momentarily forgotten I was talking about Mormons then you know what I mean - it's just a documentary about inspiring people who are also Mormons, and are trying to become better each day. As Mormons we strive for constant self-improvement based on the example and teachings of Jesus Christ, and while we aren't always great at achieving that goal, we know we need to keep trying. All of us in this world have the potential to do good and change the lives of others, whether in our families and communities or across the world.
'Meet The Mormons' originally aired in mainstream cinemas, but it's now available on Netflicks and as a DVD. I really encourage you to watch it if you get the chance - I'm confident that you will feel inspired to be a better person.
All the net proceeds from cinema screenings in the United States, a total of US $1.8 million, were donated to the American Red Cross.
I'll finish up with the music clip 'Glorious' sung by David Archuleta - I really listened to the words for the first time today and found it very touching and inspiring. We all really do have great potential and have an important part to play in the symphony of life.
(The music video features clips of the people in the documentary)
I am currently visiting my mum at her home in Tasmania, where she has two cats: a black cat, Milo, and a white and ginger cat, Honey. Honey loves people, but hates other cats (she is the runaway you may have read about on mum's facebook). Milo usually sleeps on the end of mum's bed, and is very skittish around new people (which includes me, since it's been almost 5 years since I was living at home).
Today I just went downstairs to look at the little room there, when I saw a black cat. The cat was immediately skittish and ran away a little upon my entry, but stopped to look at me. Mum has mentioned Milo has a look-alike in the neighbourhood called "Yugi" who sometimes ventures into the house, so I wasn't entirely sure if it was Milo or not (especially since she already looks like a strange giant mutant compared to my Melbourne housemate, Tinkerbell the little cat).
I call out to the cat, but it starts to run away. Well, Milo's been running away from me already, so that's no clue. I notice it is wearing a collar, which is a good sign, but I'm sure not sure if it's Milo...her face looks just a little different... After pausing a few more times along the way the cat finally runs out the door into the garage. I decide to follow and step through the doorway into the garage when, to my surprise, I'm suddenly looking at TWO black cats of equal size, both looking guiltily over their shoulders as they decide whether or not to run away. "Ooooh," I say, "I see how it is!! A secret romantic rendezvous?" I shake my head.
I look over to the garage door, and noticing that it is closed I realise that one of these cats is not ours and is therefore locked in. I go and open the door a little off the ground. "Okay, well...whichever one of you doesn't belong, out you go!" A few moments later the cat wearing the collar emerges from behind the car, heading for the gap under the roller-door. "So you're not Milo?" I ask. But then emerges the other black cat, not with a collar, which meows and doesn't sound like Milo. "Wait, you're the one who's not Milo!" Well they both head out the door, so I figure either way they can both go outside, and shut the garage door behind them.
I had just headed back upstairs moments later, when in the hallway black cat emerges from mum's room. This must be the real Milo! "Waaaaait a minute....if you're in here, then...." I run to the front window to look out and sure enough, there are two black cats leisurely lying on the driveway. "That means....three? There are three identical black cats in this neighbourhood?"
This is usually the part in the movie where the person tears their hair out, laugh giddily, then run off to the funny farm.
I opted to shut the back door to stop Milo from running out and joining them, before I got too confused again!
Today I was reading Alma 57 and 58 in the Book of Mormon, about the 2000 Ammonite young men who chose to join the Nephite armies to fight for the freedom and protection of their families - their parents and siblings. They had never fought, yet they did not fear death. But what I found really inspiring was their determination to go forth to battle against a powerful Lamanite army, despite the very real possibility of losing their lives. In the end, none of them were killed in battle, but all of them were badly wounded. It just made me think about life. One life lost is only a small loss for an army at war, but for the individual it is HUGE. That's it. THAT was their one chance at life. They probably had plans and aspirations for the future, but they could have had their ONE chance at life cut short, because they chose to make the sacrifice for the good of others. It's really amazing for each and every soldier today that makes that choice, to fight in a war and risk death for the sake of others.
I really pondered this deeply in regards to these very young soldiers - what would be the summation of their short lives? It made me think about my own life. How would I feel if my life, my ONE and only chance, was nipped in the bud? I mean, could I voluntarily put my life on the line like that, even for a good cause? MY life, my ONE chance. What would my life up to that point have meant? Would it have been enough?
As I pondered this, and thought of these soldiers, I realised that I have been placing a lot of value on what I achievein life, or hope to achieve. Even worse, sometimes I'm more concerned about what I can acquire - a comfortable home, a nice car, new things. But that's not really what life is about. No, the most important thing is actually who I become. That's what I need to be worrying about, and putting my time and effort into. That's what I need to be placing value on. It doesn't matter what career I have, what achievements I attain, where I live, or what I wear. The meaning of life lies in changing who we are. Changing to become better. Changing to become someone who cares about others. Who is able to forgive. Who sincerely desires the best for everyone. Someone who doesn't give up easily, who values hard work. Someone who is able to feel gratitude for the smallest things. We all imagine living until we're old and grey, but we just don't know when our time will be up. We need to be having fulfilling experiences now, every day.
It has really changed my perspective about my life and what I hope to do with it. I don't have to achieve things to have value as a person. I don't need to acquire things. I just need to be a better person every day, and hope that when my time comes to leave mortality I will have travelled far enough in this journey to be able to say that I made my life count.
The response from my readers on here and on Facebook of my last post was an overwhelming 'yes' and so, I have written and sealed up that sucker ready to be posted.
Do I expect a response? Not at all. Except perhaps a few giggles from the mail-workers. I might even make their Wall of Fame, if I'm lucky. But I doubt if my letter will even make it to management.
Did it feel good to write and send that? Oh, yes. I know such advertising is that pest that will never go away, and yet I do believe in consumer voice - and that it only takes a few voices for the big guys to make some changes. I hope they will think twice before pulling that one again. Especially since they're clearly a bunch of money-hungry vultures, to suggest that getting a credit card is a feasible way to keep impulsive spending under control - someone needs to put them in their place. Yes, some people do feel a credit card is necessary, but they could at least market it with realistic reasons.
But at the end of the day, even if no one of import ever reads my reply, I still believe it's important to take a stand sometimes.
We are entitled to an opinion, and we do not have to be silent.
Today I received this letter in the mail, along with an unsolicited credit card application from NAB. This is how it read.
A note from the desk of
Mari-Anna's Sensible Side
I know I've been nagging over the years about ways to manage your spending. But as your sensible side, I just need to tell you about a letter that recently caught my attention. And I think you'll enjoy the benefits.
I've already given it a once-over and in short, this new NAB credit card offer will provide some welcome breathing space. All things considered, it's just what we need to get your finances, and impulsive side, under control.
The sensible thing to do now is to give me the role of Chief Financial Officer and ask your impulsive side to step aside.
Your Sensible Side.
P.S. With me in charge you don't have to completely ignore your impulsive side - you can still have fun.
And so, I thought I should give them the courtesy of a reply, to be posted back in the reply paid envelope included. This is what it says:
I received this piece of mail from you today, and frankly, I found it rather
insulting!I am sure you were trying to
be humorous, but I am afraid you missed the mark.Firstly, to imply that I do not know how to
manage my own finances responsibly, and even worse, to suggest that I would
consider getting a credit card to be sensible!How little intelligence do you think I have?Do you know how many Australians are
currently weighed down with credit card debts that they are unsure of ever
being able to repay?But of course you
do, and that is why you are trying to milk me for all the interest you
can.Unfortunately for you, I already
have enough savings to warrant never getting a credit card, and all the
breathing space I need, because I know how to be sensible with my
finances.So I am afraid you and your Greedy
Side have lucked out on this one.
would appreciate it if you would refrain from attaching my name to such nonsense in the
Mari-Anna and her Sensible Side.
P.S. My Impulsive Side suggested I write this letter - see, we already have plenty of fun.
Well, I've survived the initial two-week "intensive" at uni, yay! (I'm stuffing myself now with Allen's lollies in celebration)
What is meant by "intensive" is a usual three weeks' work was crammed into two weeks. Given that usually we have three-day weeks (due to two days of prac in a school) this might not sound like much, but may I emphasise all the reading!! Instead of the usual 7 days to get a weeks' reading done, we had three...I still haven't finished all the required readings thus far - hence why I'm gonna be hitting the library tomorrow. Exciting weekend!
On Monday I will find out where I will be doing my first school placement, which will be for my learning area of TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Langauges - also known as EAL, English as an Additional Language), and in a couple of weeks I'll start going there to observe!
I also have my first huge essay due in a month, for the subject "Learners, Teachers and Pedagogy", which is a highly psychology-based subject (meaning a lot of new words and concepts for me!).
It's amazing what happens to the brain when we are facing a suspenseful moment. Today the long-awaited (4 months of waiting to be exact...4 months!!) first round offers from VTAC (Victoria Tertiary Admissions Centre) were available online from 7am my time. Sure, I was dying to know if I got an offer and to which university so I could start planning the next phase of my life, but so far I had been surprisingly calm. No point getting worked up as it wouldn't make me know any faster!
Calm, that is, until about 6:30am this morning. Or perhaps a little before. Because long after 6:30am, I woke up and checked my clock to see how much time had passed. It was 6:30am. D'oh! I'd only dreamt I'd checked the clock before. Okay, 30 mins to go... I close my eyes....
Next thing I know, I've got a letter in my hands. I eagerly open it. It looks like a uni offer!! I begin reading... "We are pleased to offer a place to study at our university to..." Wait...that's not my name! That's someone else's name! They've put someone else's offer letter in my envelope! Oh man... does that mean I got an offer then or not?!
At this point I find myself at the house of some friends. Well, actually, I've never met these people...but they are a couple whose blog I have been reading recently, so I guess I feel like I kind of know them. And they were hilarious! They knew I was stressing in trying to find out, so they came up with so many random funny things to keep the mood light and make me laugh. For example, they were doing the tango around their living room, with very "serious" faces, whilst continuing to converse with me on the subject. They let me use their computer to try to log onto the website to see if there's any offers there (which is the actual way of checking offers today), but there were more hold-ups - website down...wrong password...logged in, but can't find anything etc. I remember their teenage daughter comes in and they're like "Not now, Mari-Anna's trying to find out if she got accepted at uni - quick, say something encouraging!"
Throughout this I wake up several times - each time surprised that the above-mentioned events hadn't actually happened, and that it still wasn't even almost 7! Man, this 30 minutes is taking forEVER!
Enter Matt Damon. You know, an old friend of mine. (I think my brain was running out of ideas to stall me.) "Mari-Anna! We're working on this new movie! You've totally gotta be in it." Um, I dunno Matt, I mean I kinda got some other plans for this year... "Oh come on! It's gonna be great, how can you turn it down? Look at this script!" Well...um...
With all these distractions compounded, things were getting pretty crazy. I think my brother even came along, and I'm like "Hey...you know Matt...we were just discussing a new movie." Grin :D
Well, I don't remember much detail after that, but FINALLY it was past 7am - for real - and...I was too nervous to check after all that drama! What if there's not an offer for me? What if something went wrong with the application? What if I get accepted, but not by the university I wanted? Do I accept their offer, or wait for round 2 (or 3 or 4)? What if I was offered a different course?
Finally I mustered up the courage to have a look. I enter my VTAC ID and PIN. "Your user ID is incorrect." D'oh! Try again, this time without the accidental space in the front, which had eliminated the last number. Success! I'm in. Now what? Um....oh, messages! Right. One new message! Hold breath. Click.
"Congratulations! The University of Melbourne is pleased to offer you a place in 2014. An email will be sent to you with information about how to enrol."
I can't believe it! I got into my preferred university for the exact course I wanted!
Return to calm, feeling as though a huge weight has been lifted off my shoulders.