Friday, July 10, 2009

Day 59: Well, see you all in two years!!!!

Well, I never thought I would say this, but this is my final post. I am now a missionary. I was set apart and I am ready to go. For those of you that have read my blog, thanks. To those same people, I love you all. I hope I get to see your lovely faces when I come back.

I will miss you all. Please send me your addresses, so I can write you. I can't wait to share the gospel. I know it is going to be awesome.

Well, not the usual eloquence, but I have a lot on my plate.

Big Gulps, huh? Welp, see ya in two years!

~ELDER Brandon Cruz.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Day 56: What a busy week!!!!! Last night of bball.... :(

So, I am soon going to be a missionary of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. I seriously cannot wait. It seems like I have been waiting for this moment since before I was born. :) I was talking to Camille Anderson and we covered a great subject. We talked about how it is so awesome that I am going to preach the same gospel that has changed my life so greatly!Well, I have decided to make a list of all the things that I have experinced, in the church, that I wouldn't have had the chance to outside of the church. Heck, I can go on and on about it. In no order of preciousness to my heart. :)

1. I understand where I came from and where I am going. I know that I can live eternally with my family and Heavenly Father. I know that life does not end when I die, but that I continue to grow and continue to help others find the wonderful thing that is the gospel of Jesus Christ and the Plan of Salvation.

2. I get to serve the Lord for two years in Africa. Yes, in AFRICA!!! I get to bring happiness to the most wonderful people. These people are just like me. I searched and searched and searched for truth, and I didn't find it until I found the gospel. I know that I am going to work hard and that I am going to sacrafice a lot. I am ready for this challenge and I can't wait to enter this wonderful adventure.

3. I got to go through the temple. This was a wonderful experience. I felt so much love. I know that my family was there cheering me on. I actually felt them there. I know that they rejoiced when I went in to that Celestial room. I know that they have been waiting for me for a long time, and I KNOW that they are waiting to embrace me on the other side of the veil. I know that this long waited re-union is going to be so wonderful.

4. I have a testimony of things that I never thought I would. I know that Joseph Smith was a Prophet of God. I know this so much. I remember when I was taking the first discussion. A 19 year old boy named Elder Sam Decker read the first vision to me. I remember the power that was in the room. I knew many things at that moment. I knew I was going to get baptized. I knew the church was true. I knew that Joseph Smith translated the Book of Mormon from golden plates. I knew that I loved Joseph Smith. The great thing is that I still know these things. I still know everything. I know that when I see him, and others, on the other side of the veil, that they will be proud of me. That the clasp of the hand won't be enough. That we will embrace one another like brothers. I know that I am going to thank him. I know that he is going to thank me. I know that we are going to get along just fine. I know that I will still learn much from him. I love Joseph Smith. I love that he had such a divine inspiration to ask Heavenly Father for the truth. I love that he had the power and super-human strength to restore the gospel. Joseph Smith is an amazing man, and every time I think or speak of him, my heart burns and my eyes tear up. I feel that power every waking moment, and I love it.

5. I have the best friends ever. I look up to all of them. I know that we were meant to be friends. I talked to KK one day. I asked him, "Do you think we were friends in the pre-existance?" He said, "Of course. Why else would I have found you?" I started to cry and I began to thank him. I know that my friends were on the winning side in the war in Heaven. I have witnessed it. I know that I look up to every single one of them. I love you all. Thank you for being my friends. Thank you for not giving up on me. Thank you for always being there when I needed you most. Thank you for being my family, when I thought I had none. Thank you for the light in your eyes. Its there. I know it. I've seen it. I've felt it. I love it.

6. I have had the strength to be bold and bare my testimony to my family. I love when a member of my family says something about the church. Whether it is bad or not. I know that I am here to help them. I know that I have been given the power to continue to be bold. To never hang my head when they poke fun at me. To smile when I feel like crying. To bare witness of the truth, when they aren't hearing it. I love my family, and I know that I will be able to embrace them on the other side. I know this because I have felt it. I can't wait to experience the feeling that I know.

7. I know that my redeemer lives. I know that Jesus is the Christ. I know that he atoned for all of our sins. I know that he gave us this beautiful earth and all of the wonders that are here. I know that, like me, he is the son of God. I know that I want to be like my big brother. I know that he wants me to follow in his footsteps. I know that I have felt him. Every time I bare my testimony, I feel like he is giving me the things to say. I know that he is going to be so proud of me. I can't wait to talk about him everyday. I can't wait to see him. I can't wait to hug him. I know that he is going to be so loving. I know that he is going to fill me with so much love. I know that he lives. I know that he loves. I know that Jesus is the Christ.

My readers, no Brothers and Sisters: I would like to remind all of you that I was not born in the church. That I had to find it. I would like to remind you that I love the church with every fiber of my being. I would like to remind you that I love you. Heck, the love that I have for you rivals Heavenly Father's, but never surpasses it.

I would like to bare a simple testimony: I know that the church is true. I know that President Monson is a living Prophet. I know that he is called of God. I know that Joseph Smith was a Prophet. I know that he restored the gospel in its entirety. I know that he translated the Book of Mormon. I know that I love him. I know that Jesus is the Christ. I know that I would die defending those words. I know that our Heavenly Father loves each and every one of us. I know the gospel is true. I know that what we have is real. What we have is real, brothers and sisters. Always remember that. I say all of this in the name of our savior and our loving big brother, Jesus Christ. Amen.

Well, I only suspect that I am going to have time for one last post. That will come on Thursday night. If I don't see you before I leave, I love you. Thank you for being such a huge example to me. I look up to every one of you. :)

Elder Brandon Yanez Cruz :)

Monday, June 29, 2009

Day 49: Farewell, all.... Well, Kinda!

Today was one of the greatest days that I have had the chance to experience. I had the chance to give my final farewell talk in the home ward. I am lucky to be a part of the Fallbrook 1st Ward.

I spoke at 9am in the morning. I have been looking forward to this talk for quite some time, because I finally get to speak about the gospel in front of my family. This means so much to me because they all kind of know what I do on Sundays, but they really didn't know too much. I got to show them today. All of my siblings came down for the weekend to attend my farewell and say their final goodbyes. I knew that I would love every second of it. I love my family and how supporting they are for all of the things that I do. After a while, my parents began to worry about the Ivory Coast, and I know that they have been comforted because they seemed very excited for me today.

It was so funny because I was chosen to speak last. I think that this was inspiration, because the speaker that went ahead of me used all of my material. This left me with a pretty open slate to talk about whatever I was prompted. This seemed like a good thing because I was prompted with a lot of wonderful things. Haha. I spoke with so much power. I felt like the Savior, himself, was wispering in my ear. Like, I spoke but none of those words were mine. They were all given to me. I love the gospel so much. It is just the most wonderful thing that is on the face of this Earth. It really is true.

Look at this wonderful group of siblings. I love this picture.

Oh man, I swear that I have the greatest friends ever. I know that you aren't all in this picture, but know that you all should be. :)

I love the gospel, and I get to talk about it every day for the next two years.

Thanks for reading.

RIP Micheal Jackson

~Elder Brandon Cruz

P.S. The count down is starting at 17 days til I am reporting. :)

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Day 46: Oh man, oh man, oh man, oh man, oh man, oh man, oh man am I excited.... :)

As the day draws closer, I feel my insides wanting more and more to be on my outsides. I really don't know what to feel. I go from being really stoked and ready to get to gettin' to being kind of nervous and worried about the whole thing. I didn't know that this was a common occurance until I talked to Mark tonight, BUT that is jumping the gun on what a wonderful night it was!

Well, where to start? OH YEAH!!! I got the last stuff done for my Visa, and that is more exciting than I can tell you. I literally have nothing to do other than being set apart and report to the MTC. This also sparked a lot of nervousness because that means that I leave very very soon. I am more excited than I am nervous, but nervousness is definetly there.

I came home to much popularity. I got an email from Mckay and a letter from KK. They are doing great, for those of you that aren't in the know. Mckay told me about a couple of investigators that have baptism dates. That is so awesome. I am so dang proud of that little fellow. KK scolded me for not writing him sooner, and I know it was definetly needed. I need to be better and write him more often. He told me how excited he was for me, and how sad he was that we wouldn't be able to see one another 2 years. I am quite sad about this but I know that it is going to be the greatest reunion ever! Haha.

I went to the temple to do baptisms with Amy and Rachelle Remsberg. They are awesome. So dang solid. I was expecting to get baptized and confermed and maybe, just MAYBE get to work at the font. Well, I was soon surprised to find out that I was the only endowed brother that was in a shield. I jumped at the chance to do all of the confermations and baptisms. Seriously, this was one of the best experiences I have ever had. I have said it once and I will say it again: "This church is full of firsts, and they get better and better as they go." Not only was this my first time running the show alone, but it was my first time working the baptistry ever. I was glad to be sharing this experience with the Remsbergs, but I was also glad to be sharing a first time with a girl from Salt Lake. We had 4 sisters from Salt Lake drive down to visit the temple. It was so awesome to see sisters from out of state getting to work. Oh man, this was awesome.

I then went to a party and had fun. Haha. That was about it.

I talked to Mark and he gave me some councel on how I am feeling. He said that this is the worst part of the whole mission experience. That this feels like it is longer than the entire two years of service. That is good news cause this definetly seems forever.

Well, brothers and sisters, that is all I have. I am tuckered out from all of the festivities of today.
~Brandon Cruz

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Day 37: Nickel Arcades, Old Friends, Basketball, and Prepaing a talk. :)

Hello all!!!!

Today was quite the day! I got to hang out with a couple of friends that I haven't seen in a while. Oh how I love re-living some old memories. We went to NickelCity and played some games. It was quite the day. We won a little over a thousand tickets because I am a master of The Price is Right!!! I knew watching it, all those times, would help. :) I guess I have great friends. Haha. Heck, I KNOW I have great friends.

FHE was great and so was basketball, but those aren't things that I really brag about. Haha.

I am now preparing my final farewell talk and it is proving to be an amazing experience. I will definetly write something up later in the day, but reading is proving to be very enlightening. I am talking on D&C 82: 1-4 Where much is given, much is expected. I had no idea what to talk about, but then I was inspired. I love the spirit and its many signs. LOVE IT. I was on and I was looking around. Then, I got the hinkering to click on the Joseph Smith hyperlink. Oh man, there are some wonderful things that man has done. I then remembered that I got a story from my institute class. It has to do with the Prophet Joseph in Liberty jail. I figured that I would share it with you:

At 5 p.m. the jailor, Mr. Stigall, suggested that the brethren return to the cell where the would be safer. The Prophet turned to Dr. Richards and said, "If we go into the cell, will you go in with us?" The Doctor replied, "Brother Joseph, you did not ask me to cross the river with you-you did not ask me to come to jail with you- and do you think I would forsake you now? But I will tell you what I wil do, if you are condemned to be hung for treason, I will be hung in your stead." The Prophet Joseph said, "You cannot." The Doctor said, "I will."

Oh man, how amazing is that story? When I read it, I think, "Would I do the same?" I always have the same answer, "Absolutely, I would." I can't believe what the Prophet Joseph went through. Oh man, if there was a man that would be more suited for that which he did, it would be no worldly man. I cannot imagine waking up on the other side and being able to embrace him. I can only imagine the warm look in his eyes, and the tender smile on his face. As to say, "You did it. You knew it was true and you lived the gospel. I am so very proud of you." It kind of reminds me of the feeling that I get as I go from the endowment room to the celestial room, in the temple. Do we remember to thank Heavenly Father for giving us such a wonderful man? I don't know that I do, but I know that my actions will speak louder than words. I think that he will be pleased with all of the saints that followed his word. Even after all of the opposition and all of the scrutiny, we hold fast to the iron rod everyday. I love this gospel and I love the Prophet Joseph.

I think I am ready for my talk, but I don't know. I get to go to the temple tomorrow, and I think I will sit and ponder about it some more, in the celestial room. As of right now, I love you all and good night.

OH, before I forget, I have my farewell talk on the 28th of June at 9am. It is going to be at the Fallbrook building. If you need an address or anything, let me know. My open house will be later that day. Some time around 4 or 5. Depending on when my ward gets out in Vista. I will be making a facebook invite for it, and it will have all of my information, so you have it all at your fingertips.

Good night, all!!!

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Day 34:

I know it has been a long time since I have posted, but I assure you that I am very busy. Haha. Let's just go through my schedule for the week so I can show you:

Monday: 10am: Wake up.
1oam-11am: Price Is Right
11am: Breakfast and Sportscenter
Noon-3pm: Study, meditation, prepare talks and lessons.
4pm-5pm: Dinner and what ever sports event is on.
6pm: Get ready for FHE. (I tend to be like a female when I prepare and it takes me FOREVER. I blame my sisters.)
7pm-8:30pm: FHE (Love it)
8:45pm-11:30pm: Basketball
Midnight-3am: Talking to Jessica. :) (Or sleeping. Which ever works.)

Tuesday: 10am: Wake up
10am-11am: Price Is Right
11am: Breakfast and Sportscenter
Noon-3pm Study, meditation
3pm-5pm: Open (So, I basically do nothing. Haha.)
5pm-6pm: Dinner with the parents
6pm-Midnight: Open
Midnight-3am: Talking to Jessica. :) (Or sleeping. Which ever works.)

Wednesday: 10am: Wakie Wakie
10am-11pm: Price Is Right, SUCKA!
11am: Breakfast and Sportscenter
Noon-3pm: Study, meditation
3:30pm-5pm: Pick up Stott and drive up to Laguna.
5:30pm-7pm: Mission Prep Class.
7:30pm-9pm: Institute Class.
9pm-11pm: Basketball or hanging with Dan.
11pm-12:30am: Drive home and drop Stott off.
12:30-3am: Talk to Jessica. :)

Thursday: 10am: Awaken
10am-11am: Price is Right
11am: Breakfast and Sportscenter
Noon-3pm: Study, meditate
3pm-Midnight: Open
Midnight-3am: Talk to Jessica. :)

Friday: 10am: Wake up
10am-11am: Price is Right
11am: Breakfast and Sportscenter
Noon-3pm: Study, meditate
4pm-6pm: Dinner with the parents. (We usually go somewhere nice. Haha.)
6pm-Midnight: Whatever is happenin'!
Midnight-3am: Talk to Jessica. :) (Or sleep)

Saturday: 11am: Wake up
Noon-5pm: Errands with my mom. (I took over this duty since my dad has been working on Saturdays.)
5pm-6pm: Dinner with the parents
6pm-midnight: Whatever comes up. :)
Midnight-1am: Talk to Jessica. :)

Sunday: 10am: Wake up.
10am-10:30am: Breakfast
11am-Noon: Get ready for Church.
1pm-4:30pm: Church
5pm-6pm: Dinner with the family. (BBQ!!!)
6pm-Midnight: Bushnell's or a ward get together.
Midnight-1:30am: Talk to Jessica. :) (Or sleep)

As you can see, my schedule is crazazy!!! I do enjoy my Price is Right and talking to Jessica, though. Haha.

So, I have my first farewell talk tomorrow, and I am rather nervous. Not because of the talk, but because this means that my tenure as a person in the real world is slowly coming to an end. Haha. I have this talk in Vista, wait a week, and then have my final talk and open house in Fallbrook at 9am. Oh man, these next few weeks are going to be pretty crazy.

Last night, I had a dream. I dreampt I was in a desert called Cyber Land. My canteen had sprung a leak, and I was..... THIRSTY. Out of the abyss, walked a cow, Elsie..... Ok, just kidding.

But seriously, last night, my dad called me downstairs to talk. He was reading about the Ivory Coast and had some concerns. "Are you having second thoughts? Cause I think you should." This was such a shock to hear, because my parents were so supportive before. Now, its a daily battle, with them, defending how I am going to be safe and that I was called there because Heavenly Father needs me there. They will come around, I know it. Haha. Its just gonna be a fight, for the next couple of weeks, while they jab at me to have second thoughts.

Well, its time to work on my talk, so I must bid you good night.

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Day 21: Looking inward....

So, today I was doing a little bit of thinking. There was a song on that I used to listen to before I was LDS, and it made me think... It made me think of things that I did or had done to be where I am now. Like, I haven't always been the person that you see and talk to daily. I was a whole different person. Angry on the inside. Fake on the outside. It was like I was being someone that I didn't want to be. A walking contradiction. I was like an empty shell of some kind of jock that didn't know what he was going to do or where he was going to go. Someone that knew where he wanted to be, but didn't know how to get there or when he should plan on getting there. It seemed like everything was alright. As most other is my family, direction and purpose didn't really take precidence over much.

Then, something happened. Something that completely blindsided me. Something that could, and really should, have killed me. A close member of my family had some drug issues that he was facing. Now, let me put this in perspective: Imagine someone that you looked up to your whole life. Someone that was your best friend because the kids in school didn't want to be your friend. Someone that could take the worst day, and turn it in to the best. Someone that you wanted to model yourself after. Now, take that person, and everything that you built them up to be, and change them. Change them in to the exact opposite of what you thought they were, and they are now looking to you for strength and help. Something that I could not handle at 17. On my 17th birthday, I was told about his problems. Told that I was not allowed to speak about it. Told that I, and only I, would be responsible for him and his troubles. Well, as we all know from the turn out, I was not ready for this. I couldn't handle it. I needed something, someone, anyone, and I didn't have any of that. I used to look to football for my escape, but even that didn't work. It was like nothing could help. Then, when it got too hard and I wanted to give up, a person that I will never forget and never be able to repay noticed that I wasn't having the best of times. He said, "Boi, you aren't looking too good. Wanna hang out?" So I went over to his house a few times, after school and we became close friends. After a while, I told him my situation. He said, "Boi, that is terrible. I knew something was wrong with you, but I didn't know it was this bad. Come. Be a part of my family, and we will help you through this." I didn't know what to think, at first, but I soon learned that he was telling the truth. One night, he was sleeping over at my house, as he often did, and I woke up, looked at him and said, "KK, I want to get baptized. I know what I need. Its the church." He looked at me and said, "You serious?" Of course I was!!!!

Now, to the point. I was baptized at 18, and I didn't know what I was getting myself in to. I didn't know that I had just given myself, and my family the greatest gift ever. I didn't know that I would no longer be the little brother, but be the brother with all of the answers. Now I get to go to a far away country and spread the love that I have had to work so hard to find. I am so graeful for that chance. I realized that doing all of this was good for me, but it is going to be so much better for my family, and that is what means the most to me. I know that I can be a good example, and I know that my family no longer thinks of me as a little brother. The church has changed me so much. I can't imagine how I was, compared to how I am now. I just know that if it wasn't for KK and for all of the wonderful people that supported me so much, I wouldn't be the person that I am now. Heck, I probably wouldn't be alive.

Because of all this, I know that the church is true. I know that Joseph Smith was a prophet and he translated the Book of Mormon from the golden plates. I know that Heavenly Father places people in your life that can help you. I know that there are angels on this earth watching over us. I know that every person can do great things. I know that joining the church was the best thing that I have ever done. I wish the same amount of happiness to every person. I know that the members of the church are the best people I know. I have the best friends that I could ever ask for. I love each and every one of them with all of my heart. I am so grateful for the restored gospel of Jesus Christ. Without it, and his atonement, there would be no church, and there would be no Brandon.

Always remember:
A Perfect Love Shall Casteth Out All Fear. Moroni 8:16