The Maiden Voyage

Last week the stake president met with my parents and myself.  Knowing how badly I desired to be a proselytizing missionary, he has been working without rest to help me reach that dream while still avoiding doing anything that would give me pain with the EDS.

It’s been a miracle.  I thought I would have to stay at home and occasionally go with the missionaries to teach, but this is an almost complete fulfilment of the dream I’ve held for as long as I can remember.  We’ll be going transfer by transfer (which are six weeks), testing how well I do.  I’ll have a wheelchair, but mostly I’ll be doing what my companions do.  I get to teach, proselytize, and work with the sisters to bring others to Christ.  If it becomes too much, I get to go home for a transfer then go right back out again.  We’re shooting for six months, but I’ll try to go the full eighteen.

There have been so many angels in this process.  Angel #1 is President Williams, who hasn’t stopped fighting for me.  President Sweeney, Bishop Kai, my parents … it’s been amazing beyond words.  And as I went to be set apart as a missionary of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints I saw a couple I’ve known for a while sitting in the foyer.  They have been my “adopted parents” when my own weren’t able to come to Gospel Doctrine class, sandwiching me between them and smiling, laughing and learning with me.  Their appointment was before mine, then as the bishop came to fetch us, he gave my mom a big hug and whispered something in her ear, seeming very moved.  The couple were in the room and the bishop and the husband set me apart.  They were so excited and the lady kept hugging me.  My mom later told me that they offered to pay for the entirety of my mission.  I’m telling you: angels.  Those God has sent into my path to help me fulfil this dream and bring others unto Him.

Unfortunately my father wasn’t able to be there (we’re trying to sell the house so we can move down to the city and join him) so we Skyped with him — he was dubbed the “electronic father” and “digital dad.”  (My older sisters weren’t there, either — they don’t even live in my state and it’s really hard).  When President Williams presented the idea that would allow me to go like this, my father started crying, he was so touched and happy.  The Gospel means most to us.  The Lord is everything.  And everyone knows how much I want to go and serve Him.  Even my best friend, who isn’t a member of the Church and so hasn’t grown up with the understanding of LDS missions, is such a support.  It’s really hurting her, but she loves the Lord as much as I do and understands why I need to go.  For us, He comes first.

I need to talk a little more about President Williams.  Last Sunday when he called us in and told us what we could do and I immediately agreed, he then resolved to do everything he could to contact the mission president and have him come for another interview after church.  Together they’re sending me off, working so hard to help me do this.  I feel like Heavenly Father has just opened the floodgates to the blessings.  I know it’s all pretty sudden, but I was given the option of going during this transfer or waiting until the next.  I don’t wait, so it wasn’t even an option for me to hesitate.

I have the most amazing group of friends anyone could ever ask for.  I’m going to miss them like crazy, but they love the Lord as much as I do and their love and support means so much to me.  I’m excited to see how they grow as writers and as people while I’m gone, and I really hope Mirriam takes care of my baby Odd-Eyes.  And Ice.  If anything happens to him, Mirri, I might have to kill you.  And Apollo had better wait for me — I’ll be his missionary then I will come back and love him forever and make pretty half-Korean quarter-Bolivian babies that he can chase after.

My family is the greatest blessing in my life after God.  Despite our rather teasing, emotionless way of showing affection, I know they’re going to miss me and they’re the ones that, at night, I’ll be yearning for.  Every day is an adventure with them, and I can’t wait to come home and continue that.  And my baby sister is waiting for her call — so we’ll have two missionaries out!  Kerri, if you go to Africa, I will laugh so hard I’ll need to be hospitalized.

My ward family swarmed around me today, showering me with hope and love.  Guys, I’ll miss you and look forward to seeing you again.  Brother Stepp asked me to sing (okay, he told me a couple weeks ago exactly what I was singing so I didn’t have a choice) and the bishop allowed me to sing I Know That My Redeemer Lives today, even if nothing had been planned in advance.  Brother Vest, who is a WWII veteran and in his 90s told my mother that he had never heard the song so heartfelt before.  I have a very difficult time singing in church because I get so wrapped up in the physical — is my diaphragm in place, is my throat open, oh, no, I missed that note — and the attention that it’s been known to become a performance rather than a song of worship.  But my dear friend Shelby gave me a tip: pray that the congregation and yourself will feel the Spirit as God wants them to.  It worked.  I felt every word and I hope was able to bring something good to the meeting.  Something I felt inspired to do was change many of the ‘I’s and ‘me’s to ‘ours’ and ‘we’s.  I pray I helped someone through the music and my voice.  (Thank you, Mama, for the vocal genes).

There’s so much more I could go into — but I’ll leave it at that.  I may be home at intervals, but let’s hope I’m not back for a year and a half.  I want to serve for as long as I can and with my full capacity, even if that capacity is less than others with healthy bodies.  I have God on my side and whatever gets thrown at me, that’s why I’m out there.  I’m out there for Him and to bring joy to those around me.

Love you guys!

Cheers,

Sister Ana Pinto-Haynes

“I will walk together.”

I’ve mentioned before my great love of the Japanese rock band the GazettE.  (And the reason the ‘e’ is capitalized is just because it looks cool).

the GazettE

(Left to right: Aoi, Reita, Kai, Uruha, and Ruki is sitting).

I first was ‘introduced’ to them by my friend Mirriam Neal’s blog.  She had pictures of Aoi and Kai (with the awesome hair pictured above) and I was curious.  When I first looked into their music, I was a little confused and weirded out.  I thought they were okay, but they weren’t anything I’d come in contact with before.  But I still went foraging through the internet to look for their clean music.  (While I don’t speak Japanese, the overall theme of a song is still very apparent in the music even if the words are foreign to the listener.)

I acquired a bit of a collection, but I branched out into other types of j-rock.  A lot of them are good, but I quickly realized that the GazettE is one of the cleaner bands.  It’s so hard to find songs even in my native language that are clean and it frustrates and angers me to no end.  So I was certainly impressed and proud that the Gazette didn’t block me out of their artistry.  That’s not to say that all of their stuff is perfectly clean — it’s not.  But something that I love about them is that if they choose to make something inappropriate for someone with my standards to listen to, the content usually includes only swearing or themes of violence.  In today’s world sexuality is glorified.  It’s pathetically hard to find a song that doesn’t highlight this in some way.  That’s one reason why I don’t listen to a lot of modern pop music (plus it’s not really my thing).  One has to search diligently on the internet and be prepared to wade through things no one should have to come in contact with just to find a good song.  It’s pathetic and disgusting.  But for the most part, the GazettE stay away from involving that particular theme in their music.

Aoi.Reita(The GazettE)

(Aoi and Reita).

The GazettE get life.  None of them have had it easy, perhaps Ruki, the vocalist, in particular.  He was treated very poorly by his family to the extent that he had nothing to do with his father until the band began to get popular.  These guys have seen sadness and pain but not only has it made them fuller, better people, they’ve been able to help others through their experiences.  That’s how hardships should be used.  So many of their songs are uplifting, and many of them deal with harsh topics such as abuse and death.  One of my favorite songs is Miseinen, and to paraphrase the song, it’s basically a story of growing up.  In youth, you rebel and your pride lifts you up, but that’s not really how it’s supposed to go.  It’s okay to rely on friends and family, to be broken, because it makes you stronger.  I think it not only sums up the amazing mentality of the band, but the hope we can have for our own lives.

The GazettE have helped me very much in my life.  I have a very hot temper and their music is one of the few things that calm me down sufficiently.  As anyone who knows me understands, I struggle so much with math.  (And my dad’s an accountant.  Sad, right?)  I would get so wound up that my emotional state would be on the range between ‘frustrated’ and ‘angry’.  I don’t like being mad.  It leaves a bitter feeling that’s hard to shake.  So as I studied up in my room, I’d turn on Baretta and Best Friends.  It really helped.  One fan has said, “They understand what my family doesn’t.”  And while I don’t share those feelings about my family not understanding, I love that I can listen to a couple of songs by the GazettE and then be calm enough to express myself to those close to me.  ‘Cause it really stinks to be so frustrated that when I try to speak, all of it boils up and I wind up doing something I regret.  Or even if I’m feeling down, listening to Cassis calms me and gives me hope.  To me, that’s really the GazettE’s message: hope.  Both in their music and how they live their lives.

The GazettE

They’re actually really shy, private people.  My dad avoids the topic of them because I think they make him wary, which, in my opinion, is kind of funny.  Mirriam and I talked quite a bit about them the other day, and the way she described them when her mother looked askance at them was that they’re sweet babies.  And she’s right.  They have such sweet spirits.  Their music is downright awesome — they’re a highly talented bunch.  But their spirits have the opportunity to speak through it.  They try so hard to be tough, but they’re polite and funny and just genuinely people who make me smile.  When I’m upset in any way, they’re one of the things with the highest percentage of cheering me up and giving me hope.

the GazettE. I love their smiles. :D <3

I could go on about them forever, but I’ll just keep this short and sweet.  The GazettE have reached into my heart and give me confidence and help me strive toward who I want to be.  I have a very strong fear of failure and they help calm me down and let me see more of my potential.  I don’t know them and they don’t know me, but the hope and strength they give me will forever be something I treasure.

Cheers!

Ana

P.S. New album in August!  Someone tell me how it is, as I’ll be on a mission.

Stereotypes and Modesty

Modest is sexy.

It’s a fact of life.

Unfortunately, people so often are of the opinion that being ‘modest’ means wearing frumpy old-lady clothes.  Clothes that are so bad they have never been anywhere near the spectum of ‘fashionable,’ t-shirts that could double as tents, jeans that come up to your ribcage.

That opinion is rather sad, actually, because so often the cutest clothes are the ones that are modest.  The ones that speak for themselves and flatter you while still leaving things to the imagination.

Others also think that modesty is restricting, that it’s oppressive and keeps you from fully expressing yourself.  I think this opinion is twisted.  Our bodies are a gift.  Say you had a precious Ming vase, ‘kay?  Would you put it in your front yard to bleach in the sun and for every neighborhood child to trap dragonflies in?  No — you’d keep it on display in your house, probably in a special case to protect it.  Your guests would be honored to view it, to have the opportunity to marvel at its unique beauty.

Teen girls! You are valuable! Please read this article from a great website, full of resources for young and old!

We are each important.  You wouldn’t pawn off your gold watch for a bag of plastic bugs, would you?  We are of too much worth to sell ourselves like that.  We aren’t cheap — we are priceless.  It’s time society recognized that.  Instead, we are expected to show off our assets, let everyone know how ‘sexy’ we are, but really, that’s just degrading.  Society preaches respect and equality, yet both men and women are looked down on if we show an ounce of it for ourselves and our sacred gifts.

Something about many of the modesty lessons is the reaction of the opposite sex.  I hate it.  “You’ll help the boys by dressing modestly.”  “Don’t tempt the girls by sagging your jeans.”  Yeah, it’s important to help and respect those around you, but I think the true reason to dress modestly is for ourselves.  We need to show the world that we are confident without showing off, that we respect ourselves enough to keep those sacred parts of us away from the cheap, low-minded bidders prowling around with glittering eyes.

On redefining sexy: | 12 Stevie Nicks Quotes To Live By

(Quote by Stevie Nicks that I found on Pinterest).

Another subject I’d like to touch on is stereotypes.  For instance, my style is basically that of a Japanese rocker.  I wear spiked boots, skull-embellished shirts, hip belts and skeleton-cameo necklaces.  As weird as it sounds, I almost feel most complete when my nails are painted black.  I’m usually in black and have a growing collection of spikes and leather.  But I’m always modest.  I live in a small town that wasn’t sure what to do with me when I first came, and that really confused me and made me sad.  I don’t try to be tempting and I strive to be kind and polite with clean language, but I was still rather labeled as a sort of rebel, an unwanted divergent.

I would even wear the nose-thing. XD

(Reita from the GazettE).

That’s one kind of stereotype.  When you see a girl with frills and pink lipstick, don’t label her as shallow and brainless.  When you see a girl with false eyelashes even longer than mine, don’t immediately conclude that she’s a tramp.  This is something I really struggle with, don’t get me wrong.  I’m one of those people that just naturally labels and judges.  But as I’ve gone throughout my life, made friends, worked at Subway, I’ve learned to see past the skin.  True, you don’t agree with the girl who comes in with her neckline down to her bellybutton.  But maybe she’s nice.  The young man with the scowl over there might be bullied and doesn’t know how to show that he’s not mean and rude, or maybe his attitude is a protection against those who wish to hurt him further.  Maybe the girl dressed as a hippie is beaten at home and the way she copes is by clinging to the ideals of peace.

Mormon chick, baby! ;D  This is the sweetest picture, too!

(Isn’t this picture perfectly adorable?)

This post is as much for me as it is for everyone else.  True, there are some folks out there that you instinctively know to stay away from.  You aren’t always going to want to be friends with everybody.  But we mustn’t forget that beneath the outer layer, there is a child of God, one that is precious in His sight and should also be in ours.

We should also notice our own worth.  Don’t beat yourself up over your mistakes — that’s what Christ’s Atonement is for.  We live, we fall, we get back up.  And we never do it alone.  We have the potential to rise above it all — yeah, it’s gonna take a long time to get to that point.  But who says we shouldn’t try?

Cheers!

Ana

(Sorry, I had to).

Christmas Tag

The amazing Lisa (whom I call Pickle) at https://godsdaugter4ever.wordpress.com/ tagged me for this.  She’s one of my dear, dear friends and I’m super excited that I am a chosen one.

There are, however, rules:

-Post picture on your blog

-Answer the questions

-Tag up to twelve bloggers

-Make ten new questions for those that have been tagged

So I made a picture:

And I am answering questions:

What’s your favorite Christmas song?

Probably O Holy Night.  I also love Away in a Manger.  I sing the former almost every year — just performed at the Native American branch today.  Whew — there are reasons why one practices beforehand.  I’d asked my mom where the sheetmusic was a few days ago, but she misunderstood and thought it wasn’t where it should be, therefore was lost.  So I studied the thing on the way and completely missed the A-flat.  I knew I should have stuck with the F….  And I did a few descants written into the music, but I’m not a coloratura so things went a little skeewompus.  But it’s still my favorite Christmas song.  I love the songs praising Jesus.  They make me happy.  And if you haven’t heard Placido Domingo sing O Holy Night yet, look it up.  The man is my idol.  Another favorite is Caro Gesu Bambino.  It’s so, so beautiful.  It’s a child’s song to baby Jesus.  Andrea Bocelli sings it and my mom is overjoyed to have the sheetmusic.  She wanted it so badly that she paid five bucks for two pages!  The song is that good.

Do you enjoy getting presents for your friends and family?

Heck, yes!  We do Secret Santa every year, and I am very pleased with what I got my sister….  Hehe….  And this is the first Christmas that I’ve had a job, so I had money to actually buy things for people this year.  It was so exciting!

Do you buy the gifts or go the homemade route?

I don’t do homemade.  I’m lame, lazy, and an expert procrastinator.  I’ll fork out way more money than I probably should — hence the thirty-dollar piece of jewelry for my blasted sibling that I apparently love too much — because popsicle-stick figures don’t make good Christmas presents.

Have you ever had a white Christmas?

Yes!  I grew up in Nevada, where it often snows a good amount during the winter.  I don’t think we’ll have one this year, however.  It rains more where I live now, which I think my mom loves!

Any relatives coming?

My abuelo and abuela — why is SpellCheck telling me I misspelled their names? — are coming on the twenty-eighth.  They live pretty far away, so I’m super excited to see them again.  I think we’ll be driving the next town or two over to spend Christmas evening with my grandma, too!  If we had the money, we’d all go down to visit the Westmorelands back East.  But we’re all broke.

What’s on your Christmas list this year?

Five extra hours in a day.  And Richard Armitage in my stocking.

What’s your favorite holiday beverage?

Same as it always is.  Hot chocolate.  But we have some beautiful caramel-flavored whipped cream from Thanksgiving, so I’ve been squirting it liberally atop my drink.

Any special reason for looking forward to Christmas this year?

Spending time with family is always amazing, and the best present I could ever have.  Get me nothing, no food, coals in my bed, as long as I have my family I’m set.  The hard thing is that this is the first year since I’ve had them that my older sisters and nephew won’t be here.  I’m trying not to complain, but it’s been really hard.  It’s going to be difficult on Christmas without them.

How old were you when you stopped believing in Santa Clause?

Eight.  My sister figured it out, so my mom told me.  I was fine with that, but I then realized that the Tooth Fairy wasn’t real.  Santa is disposable, but the vision of elfin loveliness that was my Tooth Fairy was quite a loss!  But my mom’s gorgeous, so she makes a good Tooth Fairy.

What does Christmas mean to you?

A lot of it is spending time with family.  But when I get up in the morning, I always say my prayer before a single gift is unwrapped.  I thank my Heavenly Father for the gift of His Son, and I like to invite Them to spend Christmas with us.  Because:

"To catch the real meaning of the spirit of Christmas, we need only drop the last syllable and it becomes Christ." – President Thomas S. Monson

Seeing as I, unfortunately, don’t know very many of you, I would like all that see this to consider themselves tagged.  Enjoy your spotlight — man, do you deserve it!

All right, questions:

Do you have any special plans this holiday season?

What special traditions does your family have?

Do you do Secret Santa?

What is the gift you are proudest of giving?

What’s your favorite part of Christmas?

How early do you get up on Christmas?

Do you put your presents away immediately or let them sit and remind you of how great Christmas was?

Do you have an angel or a star on your tree?  Is there a particular reason?  Which is your favorite?

If there was one thing you could do to make this Christmas special, what would it be?  You can let your imagination roam if you want.  Christmas at Hogwarts would be nice, after all.

What does Christmas mean to you?

Cheers!

Ana