Live and Learn

Sunday, October 27, 2013




"And I still wont grow up, I'm a grown a** kid
Swear I should be locked up for stupid shiz* that I did
But I'm a champion, so I turned tragedy to triumph
Make music that's fire, spit my soul through the wire"

Kanye West -Through The Wire (edited for jamesthemormon readers)



These lyrics hit home as I think about my progression through life.

What is life about honestly?

It's about learning from your past and making your future that much brighter. So many lessons have been learned, but I'm still learning.

The biggest/hardest lesson I've had to learn is when to let go. When to let go of guilt. When to let go of grudges, and when to let go of people who you think love you, but only hold you back in your eternal progression.

6 years ago my brother converted to Islam. At the same time my mother stopped talking to him because she claims she has "nothing to say". Each week for almost 5 years he wrote her a loving letter pleading with her to speak with him and to be a part of his newlywed family's life. After 7 years of zero response he's given up, realizing his efforts were keeping him from moving on and being happy. Although I don't ever condone giving up, I do support any persons decision to increase positivity in his or her life.

You know what's right. You know what to do.

Sometimes God allows the "hardest things in life" to happen to us . .  but its always for our greatest good. We may not understand why this is all happening, but when we are patient or take a step back, in time we'll come to understand and see the bigger picture.

Although I finished my Mission in the great state of Washington. I started it in the former Soviet Union, aka . . . Russia. I was called to serve in the Rostov-Na-Danu Mission. From the 3 months I served there, I realized Russians hate Americans, despise Black people, and absolutely loathe Mormons.

Being all 3 you can imagine the peachy time I had inviting them to hear about the Restored Gospel.

My first transfer I was with Elder Porter. He was 5'3 but had the heart the size of Andre the Giant. Serving with him was like serving with your best friend when you were 8. You know the kind of friendship that was 100% drama free and you just clicked . . . like seat-belts. Although we had many adventures together knocking doors in the dusty brothel infested streets of Tuapse, there was one disaster that we will never forget.



We were coming back from a Zone Conference during the peak of summer and unfortunately these trains didn't come with air-conditioning.  After 8 hours of sweating like a hot dog on the 4th of July we stepped off the train, drained and dead-tired at 2 am. We walked back to our apartment trying to avoid eye contact with all the Drunks yelling "Hello America" and Russian Hookers asking us to come home with them. When we reached our door I was so happy to walk in and collapse onto my bed immediately. After about 5 min of staring at the door numbers underneath the peep hole like a zombie I asked my companion why we still hadn't entered. With almost tears in his eye he told me he didn't have our key. My face went from confusion, to disbelief, to absolute terror. What were we gonna do?

Idea number 1 - climb the drain into the open window 4 stories up....3.5 min later after numerous failed attempts, that idea was shut down.

Idea number 2 - find a ladder to climb to the top. We didn't have a ladder so we set off to contact drunk Russians at 2 am to find someone who could lend us one.

The first person who would stop and talk to us seemed excited to talk to Americans. As we tried to explain our problem and how we needed help, he pulled out a handgun. I froze. I didn't know what to do. He then pulled out a clip and without hesitation I ran. I ran so hard it felt like I was tripping over myself. As I finally turned a corner for safety I looked for Porter but he was nowhere to be found. I peaked back and he had had his hands up, and I never asked, but my guess was that he was peeing himself. I shouted "RUN" and thank the heavens he followed my instructions and got to me safely. After a 15 min lecture from me explaining that "if you see a gun--you run" we headed back toward our apartment in defeat.

As we sat on the curb brainstorming ideas of what to do, a legit tropical thunderstorm began. We looked at our phone and realized our phone was about to die. Our only answer was to turn to our Heavenly Father and ask what to do. With urgency and sincerity we pleaded for help and inspiration. Immediately we felt impressed to call Ludmila. An Old Grandma in our Branch who didn't live too far away. We called, she picked up, and we ran over with tears of gratitude and joy.

We woke up the next day to find that the monsoon had continued throughout the night and the the entire city had flooded. After we picked up our key the Zone Leaders sent via bus early that morning, we hiked through the muddy knee high water back home. On our way home we saw that an entire basement pharmacy completely flooded and there were two women trying to save it all by themselves. As representatives of Jesus Christ we knew what we needed to do, and spent the remaining hours of that day scooping and tossing giant buckets of water trying to save this pharmacy.

We were stinky, sticky, and exhausted. We may have had to run for our lives from a stickup and almost broke our backs scooping out that water but we knew God needed us right there, at that specific time and specific place, to be an example of the believers.

Sometime we do stupid things, and sometime stupid things happen to us, but in the end we're the ones who get to choose if we are going to see the light in the situation and learn from it.

Like this stupid mistake . . .






52 comments:

  1. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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  2. The math is off, but he didn't even graduate from high school until June 2006. He was still in high school 8 years ago.

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    1. You are 100%. It was a type and math error. Thank you for pointing that out : ) its been corrected and helps my blog.

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    2. But hasn't she had more contact with him than she has had with you? Didn't you complain once about that?

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  6. You still wrote originally that he was writing letters home 8 years ago, when he was still living at home. It's just one more proof that you are not writing the truth. And you don't think before you write or make sure that what you are writing is true.

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  7. Why are you putting yourself forward as this great person? You are a debtor, who won't pay his debts and tried to fob off not only the specific debts you owe your mother, but tried to get her to pay your credit card and other debts. You also tried to get her to take care of your medical bills not so long ago.

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    1. Heaven forbid a son ask for help. Shame on him for thinking he could count on someone like his mom.

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    2. So, why didn't he ask the father and step mom for money, if he is so close to them. At one point, the father was making $23,000/month and refusing to pay any child support. Great Dad! It's not like the father and step mom didn't have plenty of money.

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  8. I'm a person that you knew in Virginia. She has to file a federal report regarding everyone who owes her money. Shame on you!

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  9. She has to file an annual report and you and your debt are listed. It's interesting that you take you debts so lightly. Can you really qualify for a temple recommend to get married, if you take your debts so lightly? I don't think so.

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  10. Great post Master James! I felt like I was there. Keep writing. Seems you have a faithful following. Keep writing and I will keep reading. Let go of those who can't keep up and are still living in the past, where depression resides.

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  11. Why does he keep talking about what he claims is in the past, if he advocates not living in the past? It makes no sense to me. I've yet to see the increase of positivity and stepping back to understand and see the bigger picture from this blog writer. Don't these inconsistencies bother other people?

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    1. seriously, what is wrong with you.

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  12. James. Love you like a brother and look up to you more than you know. Keep it up, bud.

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  13. I hear what you are saying. Mormons are such hypocrites. They talk about forgiveness and loving other people, but they spend all their time gossiping and never forgive others. that must be why they are not Christians.

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  14. ...why does he keep talking about the past? "It's about learning from your past and making your future that much brighter. So many lessons have been learned, but I'm still learning."

    Seems simple to me. Learn from the past, share what you learn so others don't have to go through the same pain. Helping others also increases positivity which also seems pretty temple worthy to me.

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  15. This is awesome. Thanks for being a great example bro.

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  16. Not meeting family financial obligations is not temple worthy.

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  17. In the Ensign, when they discuss alleged negative things from the past, they keep things anonymous on both sides. The point is to learn from the experience, not to seek revenge.

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  18. Mormons are the most vengeful people I know. That's one reason why people are leaving that church in droves. And the hypocrisy.

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    1. Vengeful...yep. Thats why every time a mormon missionary gets heckled they start an altercation, or when the media portrays them as a cult they always boycott and picket like those that disagree with their religion on and around their places of worship...or when a broadway play mocks them they start their own smear campaign (or just advertise in the program so people can find out what they really believe)...Super vengeful people. Maybe I should join the church and leave it just to make a point...but I digress...

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  19. James - I don't know you. I'm a reader of the former nat the fat rat and found you through there. As someone whose had mama drama I really commend you for the way you handle comments that are trying to tear you down and your general outlook on things. I've come to look forward to reading each Sunday as you truly do keep things real about life and experiences. Wishing you and the future mrs lots of luck and happiness as you walk forward finishing preparations for your temple sealing - it will really be the best day ever. My husband and I were sealed in slc almost 5 months ago and the best thing is once you get inside, none of this negativity can follow you! I'm rambling but point is - keep up your writing, you are reaching people in the way you want.

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  20. No, they are not doing a lot in public (unless you count the Proposition 8 activity in California. I'm talking about the way they treat each other. Missionaries might be good kids, but the women in their churches are so gossipy. They are also very clannish, except for big public campaigns. Mormons try to enforce everything by group think , and if you don't fit in, they don't want you. But the biggest thing of all is that they claim to follow Jesus, but they care more about organization rather than love and forgiveness.

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    1. I'm sorry you feel that way. You're right, missionaries are good (imperfect) kids just like lots of women in the world, though some are gossipy...even some women in churches...including the mormon church. That should be news to nobody.) You're also right that they can be clannish. They can also be imperfect people who are typically most comfortable with what they know and show very human emotions including fear and discomfort around those they don't know. Shame on human nature. Maybe they should be forgiven for the faults they have and loved for the children of God they are anyway. Not anonymously attacked on a blog meant to inspire.

      What brings you here anyway? Did a mormon offend you? Happy to be the one mormon in the world that will include you if you feel you don't fit in.

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  21. What was the deal with black people. Black people were not worthy and then that rule disappeared. I guess Mormons can forget about things from the past when it is convenient

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    1. Whats the deal with trolling meaninglessly on mormon blogs. Go back to youtube.

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    2. Asking about blacks and the priesthood is meaningless? Sad, sad, sad....

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  22. Hey nephew, have thought about this and sorry to hear you have Mama Drama. As a Mother I feel it's my job to raise my children to the best of my ability and then let them fly and accept them for who they've become. It's their life and I'm here to support it. If this is done there are no regrets if heaven forbid one of your children leaves this earth. You have my support and I am proud of the young man you have become. Love ya, Auntie Pat

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  23. It seems like you have been through a lot... I know a little about this. I have to let go and stop having contact with the family of my late father. They were mean to my mom and me. I wish you the best in your future

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    1. Well, at least when you tried to avoid contact with the family of your late father, I bet the family of your late father left you alone and did not try to attack you on the internet. The writer of this blog fails to mention that he has seen his mother only once in the past nine years. In addition, they have had almost no other contact in the past few years, except when he has asked for money. It has nothing to do with religion or politics or any other esoteric topic. She has autism and tends to live overseas. It's the writer of the blog, who is stirring up drama. Read this quick before he removes this.

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    2. you are a straight up crazy person. an obsessive, hurtful being.

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    3. You are the very definition of drama -- picking fights with people you've never met. Isn't your life fulfilling enough?

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  24. That's crazy! The mission story AND these cray cray comments. 0_o I would have literally peed my pants if a gun was pulled on me on my mission. I was locked out of my apartment on my mission once. Luckily the Elder's Quorum Pres was also a Police Officer. He took care of us.

    Until next Sunday!

    You seriously have a trolling problem. You can block Anonymous comments you know? Sad if it is your Mom. :( Mom's shouldn't be like that. Ever.

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  25. Loved reading this week Brandt. Great Job! The negative comments you thought you blocked are coming through though. I am so sorry for them. Keep writing and don't engage negative people and pretty soon they will have nothing to say. Keep up the good work! See you soon. Tammy - the still not so anonymous commenter!

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  26. Oh yeah and lots of people borrow money from their PARENTS! That is called normal and does not affect a temple recommend to my knowledge. Remember when you get married and have a family to love those kids unconditionally like your Aunt Pat said. She is right on!

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  27. If you would take the time to read what is written, perhaps you would have greater reading comprehension. The issue is not borrowing money, although it is better to stay out of debt. The problem is not paying off your debts. Borrowers have an obligation to make the other person whole. Not paying your debts, refusing to pay your debts, or choosing to use the money for other items rather then pay debts is bad. And, if borrowing money from parents is a good idea, why didn't you loan him the money. The story given was that you guys refused to loan him the money to get the car (maybe the truth was that you guys were charging interest, maybe the truth was he didn't even want to ask you guys). In any case, until you loan him money and deal with the consequences of trying to get it back, even though you have a contract that specifies definite regular payments, you should not be supporting the idea of someone being a deadbeat (yes, I said it, even though we know of someone else who preferred to be a deadbeat).

    I don't have an Aunt Pat. And in another case of problems with reading comprehension, this Pat person above said let your kids fly. I don't think the problem is not letting offspring fly. The issue is more of offspring coming back ONLY to beg for money (and yes it applies) and to not keeping flying. Go ahead. Fly and keep flying. Why bother people who only want to be left alone? That's bullying.

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    1. Wouldn't it be great if you were WORTH offspring coming back for something other than money?? Maybe better comprehension of life is needed?

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    2. Wow! That's not very Christ-like for someone, who claims to be Christ-like. I can stipulate that my comprehension of life is limited. That's the essence of a disability. Maybe that's why I prefer to spend time alone.

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  28. I have started reading this blog after finding the link on Gimmelovin. This anonymous commenter (is it your mother?) is exhibiting very concerning, erratic behavior that seems very aggressive and damaging toward you. For this, I am truly sorry and I hope it stops. Best of luck in your marriage. You make a very sweet couple!

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    1. Jillian,

      The Anonymous posters are different people (you may have noticed that Anonymous appears to be having a conversation, albeit a not too productive one, with itself). I agree that some of the Anonymous postings are erratic and concerning. If you look up "drama" in the dictionary, thisis what it looks like.

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  29. Just to be clear Brandt, while I use an anonymous profile simply because I haven't bothered with an account, I always sign off as Tammy. I never really post anonymously. I think your anonymous mother thinks I am saying things ugly like above, being worth coming back for etc. I have said no such thing. I better get an account soon because there are anonymous commenters who never say who they are. By the way, I have NO READING COMPREHENSION PROBLEM. I hope these negative comments stop soon. It looks really bad. You are a VERY GOOD PERSON BRANDT. You have come so far in your life and PLEASE NEVER let any of these negative comments make you think otherwise. You are going to be a great husband to Alex and father to your children. THIS IS TAMMY AND THE ABOVE ANONYMOUS PERSON IS IN NO WAY ME!!!

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  30. Wow, the crazy-Mom comments are just as entertaining as the blog post! Makes me want to take care of your debt for you--just so she will leave you be. It seems like someone is very, very bitter---well lady--you reap what you sow, right? A lifetime of alone really stinks. Matthew 6:12, "And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors." {And, lady, if you want to rebut this, it has both a literal and figurative meaning.} I wonder if ANY of her children choose to remain in contact with that flavor of crazy! James, write more about your Mom---she sounds AWESOME!

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    1. She is awesome, actually. And I agree that many of the Anonymous posts are hilarious. She has Aspergers Syndrome. A lifetime alone reduces stress for her, because interacting with others is extremely stressful. She can't feel empathy . And unlike neurotypicals, she does not need to hear herself talk, so she has always been rather quiet. She can't ride a bike, catch a ball, jump rope, play sports or write legibly due to problems with large and small motor coordination. She has no micro-expressions in her face (one person wrote"I can only tell she was sad, because there were tears coming down her face, because her expression did not change.") She also does not use or understand body language. She is a genius (defined as an IQ over 132), but does have a problem understanding sarcasm or figurative meanings (so thanks other Anonymous poster!) She doesn't notice loud noises or blinking lights (sleeps through alarms), but the texture of a food can make her gag and can't stand being touched. Handshakes are ok, but other touches feel like stabs with a sharp knife. This is the way she is wired due to genetics. Maybe the writer of this blog will finally understand his mother when the genetic dice gives him an Aspergers child

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    2. Addendum -- re lifetime alone -- after one stretch of interacting (talking to, being around) with other people, her blood pressure went up to 219/193. Yikes! Stretches of time alone is better for her.

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    3. Addendum #2 -- In school, peers and teachers repeatedly told her that she stood wrong, walked wrong, held her pencil wrong, and cut with scissors wrong. She always wondered to herself how could it be "wrong," if she managed to stand, walk, cut with the scissors, and and write with a pencil. Now, she understands that none of those things were being done "wrong," but it was autistic.

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  31. Omg im totally qouating Matthew 6:12 to the irs!! Thank you anonymous.
    Although it can feel shitty not having a loan repaid, it is a feeling...and one for the negative box. And it falks under negavtive, it shoukd be discarded. I never give what i dont have. But if i have 5 bucks in my pocket and anybody asks me for bucks, its theirs. We are gods children, meant to share in this earth. Nothing is permanent in life, today you have..tomorrow you dont. I believe in treating others how you want to be treated. Our society is so far from christ, they seem to have forgotten this.
    Mormons this, christians that. Islamics and jews. People of all nations have done fu+k a$$ shit. Evil resides in all corners, but so does good. Only individuals can be responsible for what they have chosen to embrace. Only God can judge. I mean, we were created in his image, so sure, we can judge. But why embrace the dark?
    Love is the message i wish to share. The cure. Since the devil convinced the first to manifest his dreams, its been a spiritual battle.
    I pray you and mother can one day see the spirit in each other.

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    1. Is this you M? (the child from the valley with wild pigs and "housing"?)

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