Friday, May 30, 2014

President's Reflections

Lately I’ve been reflecting on my time as institute president and I have realized that there were a lot of good times, spiritual times, and hard times. Sometimes all of these were all mixed together at the same time.

Thanks to this calling, I was able to be even more involved in the institute. Institute basically became my second home. I would go there to not only go for classes, but to study, warm up my meals, or leave my things in a secure place. There were days that I would be at the institute from 7:30 AM for institute committees until about 10 PM when we finished cleaning up from one of our activities. The institute became a part of me.  Despite having these long days, it was worth it.

Institute committees at 7:30 AM sounds crazy, but this is where I met some of the most amazing people. People that really helped the institute run. Without them things would have been a lot harder. I have had such amazing Friday mornings just sitting around chatting with friends and just having a good time laughing and enjoying each other’s company. This is where I met people that have impacted my life in the most positive way.

I have taken all sorts of institute classes like “Dating and relationships,” “Physics of Heaven,” “Book of Mormon,” etc. I needed these classes. I wasn’t always able to spiritually nourish myself as much as I needed or wanted to, but coming to these classes got me by. I thought of it as if I was spiritually hungry and wanted a spiritual feast, but at the time that wasn’t possible so the next best thing was a spiritual snack. The institute was like my granola bar, which sustained me until I could have that spiritual feast. It was something that I really needed. It is so easy to get caught up in our busy schedules and let institute and our spiritual needs fall by the wayside. To be honest everyone is busy. That is just a fact about our lives at this time in our adulthood, but we need to take the time to learn about the Lord and His gospel.

There were times as president when things felt overwhelming when I was trying to prepare for tests, make it to meetings, and fulfill my duties as officer of another club, but the Lord helped me through these times. He didn’t take my burden away, but made me stronger to handle it. I think that one of the hardest things I had to deal with as president was having people leave because of graduation, marriages, etc. I had worked closely with these people and they had impacted my life in a big way and I deeply valued my relationships with them.

My time as president was very fulfilling and rewarding and I have a lot of good memories from it. The Lord definitely had a plan for me when I was called and now I have reached the point in those plans where I have to move on to other things.  I am grateful for all those that have helped me in this calling.


Friday, May 23, 2014

"Bear Up Their Burdens"

One talk from general conference that has had a spiritual impact on my life was Elder Bednar's talk titled "Bear Up Their Burdens With Ease." In the talk, Elder Bednar talked about how his friend and he were trapped in the snow in his pick up truck and could not get out until he acted and filled the back of his truck with wood that he cut. The wood provided weight that allowed his friend's truck to gain traction in the snow and release him from the trap of the snow. Elder Bednar compared this to our lives and how without any weight or "load" in our lives we are not progressing forward and are spiritually stuck. A point that has come to my knowledge is also that we don't overfill our truck beds. Later, Elder Bednar talked about how we need to be spiritually yoked with Christ in order for Him to help us with our burdens but we need to have the proper amount of traction that helps us to gain traction but not too much that strains our ability to feel Christ in our lives. Enough to test and stretch our faith but not too much that constricts us and does not allow us time to follow our highest priorities, God and serving others.

Friday, April 25, 2014

Why do I come to Institute?

            Institute is a great blessing in my life and I love coming each and every week. But when it comes down to it, why am I here? Why do I keep coming back every week?
            I came to Institute for the first time in the fall quarter of my freshman year. I came because I wanted to learn more about the scriptures and meet other LDS students. I was eager to learn the more about the scriptures; I was a convert to the church and only had a year and a half of seminary. I felt that I had a lot of catching up to do. I came in expecting Institute to be a classroom I came to twice a week for 50 minutes and that would be it, but it turned out to be so much more than that.
            The Institute turned in to my home away from home, a safe haven. The Institute welcomed me with open arms, the teachers and students alike. Coming to college and moving away from home is a big transition for everyone, and through this difficult time Institute was a consistent strength for me. I was able to feel peace during a stressful time in my life. It seemed like everyone at the Institute was specifically there to help and strengthen me. This truly strengthened my testimony and I knew that I was exactly where the Lord wanted me to be. The Institute gave me a place to be me, a place to serve, and a place to learn.
            So why am I here? Why am I at the Institute? I am here for the people and the love that I have for them, I am here to learn about the gospel that I love with all of my heart, I am here because it strengthens me, and I am here because it is home.


Friday, April 18, 2014

Because of Him

As we approach Easter Sunday, let us remember all that He did for us.  Because of Him, we can start again and again.  Because of Him, death has no sting.  Because of Him, you and me and all will live again.

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Institute is. . .

Inspirational - Social
Welcoming - Spiritual - Educational
Friendship - Home-y
Fulfilling - Spontaneous - Belonging
Spring Olympics - Flag making
Synchronized Doughnut Eating
Speed Skating
Congrats to our winning team!

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Institute is for Everyone

Institute has been an amazing experience! For a returned missionary to continue to be able to learn the scriptures in more depth as I loved to study on my mission, it definitely gives the entire package. The teachers are fantastic and they do a great job at preparing the lessons for each member of the class. It’s important each day to feast upon the words of Christ so that the Spirit will dwell within us. We are all children of God. Embarking on the service of Christ will keep us on the straight and narrow path to lead us back to Heavenly Father again. We need to stay strong and avoid temptation at all cost. Of course we’ll make mistakes and we’ll need to go through the course of repentance. But by reading the scriptures and understanding our purpose here on Earth, it will make the repentance process clearer and so much more meaningful for each of us. Going to Institute has not only increased my faith, but has set the foundation for how I want to continue to live my life righteously. Whether you have only gone to Institute once, or even not at all, I promise you the experience you will have just by attending will uplift you for the rest of your life. The blessings of the Gospel are endless. The more we strive to stay diligent to be the best we can be, Heavenly Father will provide ways to enrich our lives with endless happiness. I know this Church is true, and I know Jesus Christ died on the cross for each of us so we may repent and live with Him again. Institute is fantastic! Come and see for yourself!

Monday, February 24, 2014

A Marvelous Work and a Wonder

We live at a time when there is much opportunity to refine our judgement due to the expanse of information at our fingertips. Everyone we communicate with has been educated by a variety of philosophies, and acquaint themselves with all types of people. In this situation, we are ask ourselves many questions about where we have been, where we ought to be, and where we plan to go. In fact, I would not hesitate to parallel our plight with that of Joseph Smith’s, where he found himself amidst a “war of words and tumult of opinions” (Joseph Smith History 1:10). Though the work of the adversary has never changed, and his mission to confuse and distort the truth has not stopped, there seems to be an increasing boldness in his work.

An increased boldness from the adversary has not come without response form the Lord. The Lord has instigated through his servants in these last days an incredible training program for his youth and single adults. Without even mentioning the missionary program, the CES program and the young men’s and young women’s programs are unparalleled in all of the history of the world. With this in mind we realize that we are in a much different station than Joseph Smith. The truth has been restored and access to the Holy Ghost or the “record of heaven” (Moses 6:61) is with us. We need only keep the commandments of the Lord and we will walk in his Spirit and be prepared to “kindle fire” and create “sparks” of light for ourselves and for others (2 Nephi 7:11).

As we learn and teach each other at institute, we equip ourselves with the sword of the spirit (Ephesians 6:17), a most necessary tool for learning the “peaceable things of the kingdom” that we may grow in wisdom and judgment (Moses 6:62). We can see the kingdom of God, and we acquaint ourselves with God that he may pour his power upon us and our posterity, for we live in a day when the powers from heaven (our ancestors) and the powers upon the earth (us) will combine to fulfill God’s covenant to Adam, Noah, and Abraham. We are being trained as earthly sentinels to stand before magistrates and declare with the boldness of a lion that we are acquainted with God and his people, and that He offers all women and men a mansion in his city. 

If God were to speak to us today, I would not be surprised if he were to say, “You are part of my marvelous work and wonder that I spoke of by Isaiah the prophet.” For we truly live in a day when “greater works” (John 14:12) are done than the works that were witnessed in Christ’s day. I am a witness. I have seen many maimed of spirit made whole. I have seen those lame of social confidence healed. I have seen many blind and deaf to the spirit made sensitive to the powers of heaven. We truly are a part of God’s marvelous work and wonder, and what an honor to stand together in such a mighty cause, and we do so because God "loved us first” (1 John 4:19) by sending His Son Jesus Christ to show mercy and compassion to all, and to redeem those who wash themselves clean and apply his atoning blood in their lives.

-Kyler Harmon

Friday, February 21, 2014

The world around us is a beautiful place, and god created all this, for us. We should take the time to appreciate the wonderful creations that have been placed around us. In Seattle we have some of the best parks, trails, and mountains around. Be grateful. Utilizing these creations is a great way to show our appreciation for them. Also express our gratitude to our heavenly father in our prayers.

I have been a runner my whole life. Finding new trails to run on is the most exciting thing! Since coming to UW I have spent the majority of my days on the Burke Gilman trail or at Greenlake. Still every time I run I seem to find a certain flower or the way a tree is growing that just amazings me! When I have the opportunity to run at some new trails I feel overwhelmed with the new beauty that is in front of me. We need to take the time to appreciate what is in front of us on a daily basis but also go explore the world! See new things so you can appreciate it with a greater appreciation! And while you are exploring the Burke Gilman come up a block or two to explore the institute too! 

-Kristina Cordy, Student at UW 

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Sunday, February 2, 2014

The passing of a loved one is never easy.  Sometimes it comes unexpectedly, sometimes there is ample time to prepare.  Sometimes it's a relative that loses a long battle with cancer, and sometimes it's a friend that's taken in a tragedy.  No matter the circumstances, all involved are left to ponder the frailties of life and mourn the memories left from that special person.  We tend to hold our loved ones closer, spend more time with our friends, say those things that we never said or do those things we never did.  We begin to realize just how great of a blessing it is to live on this good Earth.

How great it is to know that our loving Heavenly Father sent us here with a purpose.  How great is the blessing to know that there is a life after this one, that death is not the end but only a necessary door that all must walk through to return to live with God.  And how penetrating is that question that was asked by the angels at the tomb of Christ, "Why seek ye the living among the dead?" (Luke 24:5).  As Latter-day Saints we know that through the Atonement of Jesus Christ, all men shall live again.  He paid the ultimate price for our sins through His selfless sacrifice that we will resurrect even as he and be partakers of eternal life if we would repent of our sins and follow His righteous example, receiving all the ordinances of salvation and exaltation.  "O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory? The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law.  But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ." (1 Corinthians 15:55-57)

How great and comforting are these things to the mourning soul!  But how many people in this world don't know of this good news?  How many people think that death is the end and that the flickering light of a person's life blows out with death like a candle to the wind?  This is our message to the world, that Christ lives and that through His Gospel, all can reap the eternal blessings he has prepared for us.  "Wherefore, how great the importance to make these things known unto the inhabitants of the earth, that they may know that there is no flesh that can dwell in the presence of God, save it be through the merits, and mercy, and grace of the Holy Messiah, who layeth down his life according to the flesh, and taketh it again by the power of the Spirit, that he may bring to pass the resurrection of the dead, being the first that should rise." (2 Nephi 2:8).  This responsibility is ours, both to the living and to the dead.  We've been instructed of the Lord to construct temples, to seek out our ancestors and to help all those that have come before us to receive the same ordinances that we've received.  Temple work and missionary work is the exact same thing, just on different sides of the veil.  So let us be dilligent in our duties.  To all those that mourn the loss of a loved one, to all those that stand in need of comfort and seek the truth, and to all those that have gone before us without a knowledge of the Savior.  Elder and Sister May teach a class at 6:00-8:00 on how to do family history through  If you're not familiar with this site, they will help you to find your ancestors and procure for them the blessings that they're waiting for.  

-Brian Hart

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Where is home?

I want to tell everyone a story. I remember my first few days at the University of Washington, ready to start my first year of college. It would be my first time living away from home, my first time being my own boss, deciding my own curfew, making all my own decisions. Most eighteen year olds love this kinda stuff - I was petrified. My mom and dad helped me move all my stuff into my dorm, make my bed and buy my first groceries. All the time I joked with them and laughed, trying not to think about the knot twisting in my stomach as I thought of the prospect of being left here all alone. Suddenly it was time to go to Husky Stadium for the freshman welcome shebang and as we drove towards the stadium I played out in my head how I was going to say goodbye to my parents. I would hug my dad and still be able to keep it together, but then I was sure that I would hug my mom and just melt down and cry, making a scene in front of all the other impossibly cool freshmen who were actually excited at the anticipation of their newfound freedom. Not me. I wasn’t ready. I needed a few more days, or maybe years. The cutting of my umbilical cord was long overdue. So as I contemplated this dramatic scene, we came to a stoplight almost across the street from Husky Stadium. My mom turned around in her seat, looked at me and said, “Why don’t you just get out here?”
I stared at her. “You’re kidding.”
“Nope. Go on, get out. We’ll see you at Christmas! Love you!”
Without even really registering what was going on I was unceremoniously turned out of the car onto the sidewalk without even so much as a hug from my mom. Ok, she gave me a kiss on the cheek. But still, she didn’t even give me the chance to have my meltdown. Then my parents were gone. (I guess she couldn’t bear a drawn out goodbye. She broke down in tears as soon as they drove away. Served her right for leaving me like that!)
So anyways, I fought back my tears, found my way to the stadium and participated in the festivities. I made some friends, had a little bit of fun, but I still made my way back to my dorm that day feeling empty and lonely and scared inside. As I walked, I prayed. I didn’t have a good habit of praying, but I prayed hard that day for Heavenly Father to comfort me. Comfort didn’t come to me right away, but I remembered that my mom and dad had taken me to church at the Seattle Institute of Religion the Sunday before. I still remember the first time I walked into the institute by myself. Sister Williams was at the front desk. I was on the verge of tears as I explained to her that I was a new freshman and really didn’t know what I was doing. She showed me the institute class registration form and the classes that were available. I calmed down a bit. I recognized the Spirit. And for the first time away from home, I felt at home. As the school year progressed I made room for institute in my life and saw a huge difference in my happiness the more I participated.
The institute has helped to build my testimony of the church more than almost anything else - except the Book of Mormon. This is because it was here that I learned that home is not where the heart is, home is where the Gospel of Jesus Christ is. Every dedicated church building is blessed with the presence of the Spirit, the world over. It doesn’t matter where we are or what we are going through, we can find peace, comfort, and our home in the Lord’s houses. I know that my most treasured memories and greatest friendships happened here, as I grew closer to Christ and I know that as we make institute a priority in our lives, we’ll find our way home. I would invite everyone, no matter how old or young you are, college student or professional, married or single, to come to institute. Give Heavenly Father a chance bless you even more.

- Natalie Jex-Landoe, senior at the University of Washington

Friday, January 17, 2014

Bonjour mes amis!

Oh, pardon, I meant “Hello friends”.
I was lucky enough to spend last fall in Europe! I know, way cool! I studied literature, culture and film in Paris, and enjoyed all that London and Dublin had to offer on the way! I learned a lot about other people, other cultures, and myself while I was out, but two of the most important lessons I learned are these:
1.       My Heavenly Father wants me to be happy, and the church is designed for that. For reasons I can’t explain, I got it stuck in my head that in order to be a faithful member, I had to ONLY do things that fit what I thought was the “perfect Mormon mold”. ie. If I am not delivering someone cookies or studying better homemaking RIGHT NOW, I wasn’t good enough. Unsurprisingly, I really enjoyed myself on this trip, and I was able to strengthen my testimony that He knew what I was doing, He was watching over me, and He was even happy that I was happy, even though I wasn’t studying my scriptures every single second, and sometimes I missed church because I was travelling. This doesn’t just apply to me or travelling, however. He knows all of us, He knows what we thrive on and what makes us smile, and He wants those things for us! We can live a full life on this earth and be faithful members at the same time. Sounds pretty obvious, huh? It wasn’t for me, and I can tell you it was a total game changer.

2.       The happiness I can get from travelling the world doesn’t even come close to the happiness I can feel from the gospel. In fact, the joy that I can receive from the gospel is so powerful and far reaching I’ve discovered that it IS actually possible to be happy even when you have to get up at 5 am in the Seattle rain every day for work. Astounding! But in order to access that happiness, I have to be connected to the gospel, connected to the spirit, more than just learning how to say “I’m a Mormon” in a different language! Temple attendance is a great way for me to strengthen that connection, but what is even easier to access is Institute. I LOVE going to institute. An hour spent diving into the scriptures in a room full of others all seeking truth has an AMAZING impact on my week, and I find myself looking forward to institute more than anything else in my schedule.

There have been times in my past when my institute attendance was far more driven by guilt than a desire to learn, and I can’t tell you what an incredible difference it has made for me to go with a new perspective.  I urge and invite you to listen to President Monson and make institute a priority; if it can help me be as happy here on a cold Monday morning walking to work as I was walking through Paris on a sunny afternoon, who knows what it can do for your day!