May 21, 2013

God’s Hand

I would like to share with you something sacred to me- some personal thoughts and observations I’ve made as I’ve attempted to pursue this project.

Here is a list of instances and observations I’ve made over the past few years that have strengthened my testimony of God’s love and divine providence.  These impressions and experiences have strengthened and continue to strengthen me.  They motivate me to work harder on the website.

I hope they will be faith-promoting for you.

Ways the Lord’s hand has blessed us

  • In the Summer of 2006 I felt a very strong prompting to look into Broadcast Journalism.  As I entered the program my mind became enlightened with ideas of uplifting video services that I could help exist, that didn’t. I also learned to love doing interviews and to feel comfortable setting up interviews, operating a video camera and doing basic video edits.
  • Several months later I felt I was doing good things, but yet felt emptiness- I felt that I needed to do something.  I felt that the reason I felt empty was that the Lord had asked me to create a video resource for His children, but I was not working on any videos.
  • After my mission, through simple means I was guided to take some courses that would teach me basic website skills.
  • I felt after my mission that the ideas I received before my mission would translate very nicely into free online resources.
  • I feel God sent people in my life to help me gain skills necessary to do this project- my oldest brother taught me basic website skills and provided initial website hosting.  My home teaching companion helped me work through ideas and learn basic HTML, CSS and PHP.  Shortly after praying for help to improve the quality of the video interviews, I met a brother in my ward who had experience uploading HD videos to YouTube.  He taught me how to shoot HD video and upload it to YouTube.
  • When I was about to give up on the project because of a technical difficulty, the WordPress theme we were/are using received a perfect update creating the functionality we were trying to program in from scratch.
  • We also felt guided to someone who helped us set up WordPress multisite on Prepare to Serve.  Months prior we tried and it did not work.  Eventually we had to change servers and get help. The person kindly set up the website for us for free.
  • In September 2012 we felt a peculiar impression to try to make the Prepare to Serve website a reality.  Up until then I thought it was a good idea, but did not feel I needed to work on it.  For some reason the time did not feel right- perhaps I had not yet gained the necessary skills or perhaps the Lord had better timing in mind.
  • Two weeks after committing to each other and the Lord to work on the project, the mission age change announcement was made.
  • As we began to create, I was concerned about any potential conflicts the website might have with, a mission prep camp.  I prayed for everything to be OK and we emailed the webmaster of the website.  He replied that they decided to call off the mission prep camp for the following (at least) few years.  They had a good summer camp experience, but would not be doing the camp next year.  He wished us the best in the project.
  • Two days after telling my boss I was quitting, we received an unexpected opportunity to move to save money on rent.
  • It seems the Lord has blessed us in subtle ways to have subtle ideas to make the website work.
  • I feel the Lord has blessed not only us but those we have talked with.  People have been tremendously willing to share their mission stories and testimonies during video interviews.
  • I felt desires to talk with someone in the missionary department eventually, but felt hesitant to do so.  It just so happens that when we moved into our new ward, our Stake President just so happened to be a director in the missionary department.  This provided a wonderful opportunity to talk to someone who is familiar with the aims of the missionary department and to establish an open connection.
  • I feel the Lord has prepared the technological infrastructure in order to enable video resources.  For example only a few years ago YouTube would only allow you to create up to 20 playlists.  We now have over 1,000 playlists on our YouTube channel.  Also uploading and streaming virtually limitless HD video online for free has only recently become an option.
  • When I signed up to take CS 100, the teacher decided to shift curriculum to help us learn an online Content Management System- this class helped me to more deeply understand how websites work.
  • Many times since we began working on the website I prayed for the Lord to prepare the way before us so the website could be possible.  I prayed for the Lord to bless the technological infrastructure so we could provide a service to His children.  As many of you know, Google Fiber is coming to Provo.  I feel this is an answer to sincere prayer.  While it now takes us up to nine hours to upload one HD (15-20GB) video interview to the Prepare to Serve YouTube channel, it is likely to take less than an hour to upload files the same size to YouTube after Google Fiber is installed.  Some people may attribute Google Fiber coming to Provo as mere luck.  I believe it came in direct response to sincere prayers to be able to better further the work of the Lord.
  • Facebook up until recently, (2015, I believe) only allowed you to join up to 300 Facebook Groups. In 2015 I discovered a very effective way of gathering thousands of written mission surveys through Facebook Mission Alumni Groups. Only problem is there are about 415 active missions and another several dozen inactive/old missions.  Not only that, but many of the missions have 5-10 active mission groups. Facebook lifted the limit from 300 to 6,000 Facebook groups (plenty for me to be able to join each of the mission groups to gather mission surveys, find RMs to video interview, etc.)

This list is by no means comprehensive.

I want you to know that I personally feel the Lord has helped us.  I know that He will prepare a way for us to accomplish any commandment He gives to us.  Without His divine guidance and help, I personally would not have been able to work on this website.  I by no means have received adequate training to prepare me for a project of this magnitude.  I started learning basic website concepts (HTML, CSS, etc.) in January 2012.

No matter how unskilled we may be, the Lord can inspire us to perform great things to bless His children.  And He will strengthen us to grow to meet the challenges that we face.

God lives and loves us and will guide our lives as we seek Him out in earnest prayer.