April 14, 2014
As I learned Russian,
everyone spoke to me like
I was a child;

not to condescend,
but because those words still felt
too large for my mouth,

like a bicycle
too colossal for small feet
to reach the pedals.

I needed strong hands
to guide me through linguistic
rivers and head winds;

firm words to support
tremulous phrases uttered
by my nervous self.

Ukrainian eyes
watched as the comprehension
drained out of my brain

and reached out to me
with soft words, kind words, slow words:
my sunshine, my dear.

You are doing well.
You will understand one day.
My darling young friend.

I speak Russian to
my cats because I suspect
that softness must be

shown to beings who
find me as inscrutable
as I found Ukraine.

What a world: mother
tongues offering less comfort
than tall stranger words.

posted by Gwennifer at 10:25 AM | 1 comments
January 16, 2014
While serving as a missionary for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, I was surprised how often people asserted that we weren't Christian. While those moments were perplexing, they were also wonderful opportunities to testify of our conviction that we certainly did believe in Jesus Christ. As His official representatives, wearing His name over our hearts, it was our sole purpose to do His glorious work of helping others to come unto Him through faith, repentance, baptism, receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost, and enduring to the end1. In fact, our core belief as a church rests on the divinity of Jesus Christ and His role as our Savior. We know from John 3:16 that "God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him shall not perish, but have eternal life." We know He lived a sinless existence, going about His Father's business2 as He taught others to love one another; healed the sick and afflicted3; strengthened the feeble knees and lifted the hands that hung down4; performed the Atonement; and rose again after lying dead for three days in a tomb, thus finally conquering the bands of death for Himself and us all. We know He lives to this day and will come again in glory to rule as King of King and Lord of Lords5.

Not only are we Christian in name, but we also strive to emulate the Savior in our actions. We have all been instructed by the Master in John 13:34 to “love one another [as I have loved you].” It is our duty not only to spread the gospel to every nation, kindred, tongue, and people6, but also to visit the sick, afflicted, and lonely7; to impart of whatever substance we have to those in need8; to be good friends and neighbors9; to love those who despitefully use us10; to be an example of the believers11; and to be obedient to the commandments of Heavenly Father in order to show our love for Him12. All that said, what truly makes Mormons Christians is our knowledge of our utter dependence on the Savior’s Atonement to return to live with our Heavenly Father. Without Him, we would all be lost; but, with Him, we have hope for our eternal destiny in the kingdom of our Father.

1. Preach My Gospel, Chapter 1
2. Luke 2:49
3. Matthew 9:35
4. Isaiah 35:3
5. Revelation 19:6
6. Revelation 14:6
7. Doctrine and Covenants 52:40
8. Mosiah 4:26
9. Matthew 22:39
10. Matthew 5:44
11. 1st Timothy 4:12
12. John 14:21

For more information on this topic, please visit http://www.lds.org/new-era/1998/05/are-mormons-christians?lang=eng

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posted by Gwennifer at 12:26 PM | 0 comments
January 10, 2012
Moon drop of darkness,
alight on my pillow, for
Sleep has lost its way.

Let dreams rain on my
eyelids, bidding them slide down
to cover these eyes.

The night is too long
to spend awake and sighing,
wanting only rest.

Would that I could take
the lunar sphere in my mouth
as a bright tonic

to glow away dark,
never wearying 'til morn
when sunbeams do creep

over the treetops
like a child's fingers play
in sleep-tousled hair.

But, dreams are withheld
even as I write sleep thoughts.
Oh, to embrace dark

rather than fear it
would expedite my voyage
to castles on clouds.

Moon drop of darkness,
bless these tired eyes with sleep.
Drift me off tonight.

posted by Gwennifer at 11:58 PM | 0 comments
January 7, 2012
Soft rocking armchair
and a list ten miles long:
I haven't done much.

One month passes too
quickly. I am a leaf in
several different winds,

blown a moment here,
then two moments there, never
falling to the ground.

Staying in this chair
would be simple: moving but
without real movement.

posted by Gwennifer at 11:48 AM | 0 comments
December 12, 2011
Frozen midwinter
stars glint, silently watching
them approach my gate.

He is tired as
he holds the donkey's bridle,
beyond exhaustion.

She, a round vessel
with worried eyes, silently
pleads, "Just one small room."

I too am tired.
They are not the first to come
far too late for warmth.

My rooms have been filled,
and I am concerned with much.
They can not stay here.

And yet, what room I
lack in my inn opens in
my heart for these two.

It is dark and cold,
and they are weary, heavy
with many burdens.

"I have one place," I
reply, "but it is outside.
I'm afraid we're full."

With shining eyes filled,
they follow to my stable:
a hut and manger.

I leave them alone,
wishing I had room on such
a night as this one.

I send my son to
give them bread and a blanket.
I have more work now.

It is not much, but
I have given what I can
with no room to spare.

posted by Gwennifer at 3:38 PM | 0 comments
November 21, 2011
To show gratitude
only during November
is no different

from containing one's
charity to December
or church devotion

to one April morn.
What keeps us from infusing
our entire year

full of Christlike good?
Shouldn't October also
glow grateful and full?

What of August, May?
Fair sister months brimming with
plenty. Full tables.

January, March?
Roaring beast winter derobes,
budding beautiful.

There is wonder in
each appendage of each year,
yet November brings

golden gratitude
like shimmering koi to feast
on humble bread crumbs.

Let each day begin,
end with two love-sweetened words,
November or not.

posted by Gwennifer at 11:12 PM | 0 comments
November 16, 2011
After six months' moons,
silver wings will fly me off
this ground to new shores.

Same air, same water,
same species, but so different.
So not my home self.

New me, new calling,
new tongue. New Russian speaking
self, Ukraine flavor.

Sixteen months to tell
the truth about my Savior:
ancient wine, young flask.

If it weren't the truth,
those silver wings would not soar
me into Ukraine.

But, truth shines truth-bright
regardless of the bearer.
I will go and talk.

Speak. Announce. Proclaim.
Declare. Make way. Rooftop song.
This will be my joy.

posted by Gwennifer at 11:23 PM | 2 comments