Last September, the missionary department from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints asked me if they could tell my story as part of this year’s Christmas campaign called Light the World. They thought that my efforts to deal with my disability would be able to inspire others to think more about Christ and to focus more on Him during the holiday season. I agreed to it because, although I’m naturally a shy person, I feel strongly that Heavenly Father has a plan for me to use my challenges to help others overcome their own difficulties. It was weird to have a camera in my face for a whole day but the crew was super nice and made it as easy on me as possible. The video turned out very well and I like it. It is weird to see myself on the internet, I must admit, but it’s for a good cause so I’m okay with it. I really do hope that my story can help someone out there who is struggling with their faith and wondering if God is really there. I can testify that He is and that He loves us. I love Him and I love the Savior. I am thankful for my testimony of the gospel of Jesus Christ. If any of you who read this blog would like to know more about our church, please contact me on Facebook and we can chat. I will tell you what I know and will help you find the missionaries in your area. Love, Aaron https://www.mormon.org/christmas/25-ways-25-days/day-19 #LighttheWorld
Today, I did something that I never thought that I’d be able to accomplish. My dad and mom always encourage me to push myself to do things that are hard and that will take much effort. So, my dad and I decided that we were going to run a half-marathon. We have been training for it all summer and today was race day. We got up really early and headed to downtown Colorado Springs. The race was at a park called America the Beautiful Park and it has a great view of Pikes Peak, the mountain that inspired that song. I was quite nervous and didn’t get much sleep last night. But, I knew that we were ready. All summer, we have been working our way up to longer and longer runs and we already had done an 11-miler, so I knew we could do another two miles. So, I decided that I was going to try to enjoy it and “run with joy”, like my dad always tells me. The gun sounded and we were off. Could I actually run that far? We started running and my dad looked over at me and smiled. That is when I relaxed and just settled in. The run was actually enjoyable. There were lots of people giving me encouragement and also the water stations every couple of miles really helped. I almost forgot that it was supposed to be hard. But, at the end, I remembered. My legs were definitely feeling it and I was ready to be done, for sure. Soon, I saw the 12-mile marker and I knew that it was almost over. My dad said to listen for the cheers of the crowd and to wear a big smile because we were almost done. As we came around the bend and crossed over the river, I could see my mom smiling and cheering for me. That made me so happy and I was so proud of myself for doing my best. We crossed the finish line at 2:00 even. This was a good time for us. Better than we expected. It felt so good to have set out on this journey and to have made a challenging goal and then to have accomplished it with style. It helps me to realize that even though I have autism, I can still do things that are hard if I set my mind to it. A great day! Aaron
A long time ago, my ancestors on the Jepson side moved to a place that was out in the desert of Southern Utah. I am not sure how they survived the heat and the lack of water but somehow they turned an arid place into a town that they called Hurricane. I guess that it was windy there and it felt like they were going to blow away. My great, great, great grandpa James was instrumental in digging a canal that brought water from the Virgin River to the town of Hurricane. It took several years to complete and most of the people that started working on it quit before it was completed but James never gave up and he secured the rest of the financing from Salt Lake to finish the job. I’m really proud of him and want to live up to that same determination. My dad and I are training for a half-marathon right now and although I know that it doesn’t compare to the challenges that my ancestors faced, I am going to think about James Jepson when I feel like giving up and that will keep me going. Today, on our training run, I wanted to stop and walk even though the end was in sight. My dad said, “Don’t quit! We are almost done.” I heard that and thought of my Grandpa James and I pushed through to the end. Aaron. Jepsons don’t quit. Thanks Grandpa James.
My family and I went on a trip to Southern Utah last week. On the way back, we went to Mesa Verde in southern Colorado. It was amazing. It has an incredible collection of the ruins of the Pueblo and Anasazi Indians from about 600 A.D. to 1200 A.D. There were various stages of development of houses in the same areas, sometimes built right in the crevices of a cliff. Can you imagine going out for food and water and having to carry it all back up the cliff? I was really impressed with their ingenuity and resourcefulness. The Native Americans have a rich heritage and I would love to experience more of it. It would have been cool to have been a fly on the wall and to see exactly how they lived. Someday, I want to go on the tour of the bigger buildings that we could only see from a distance on this trip. Very cool place, though. Aaron. Sight-seer and history buff.
Zion by Austin Jepson Arising from the desert floor Are sandstone giants Watching over virgin valleys. Colors of red and white and green Most shimmer in the light Of sweltering heat. At daybreak, the shadows are long But sun’s rays kiss the rising guards And their faces blush red. Their wind-carved skin is lined With evidence of storms. And still they stand. No sword or gun will deter the sentinels Of sand and brush and sacred ground To those that toil at their feet. Though man blasts tunnels through their bowels, None will ever surrender The posts assigned to them by God.
A rough start and a bucket of pinecones. This week, my dad took me on my very first real backpacking trip. We started out after driving to the trailhead on Monday afternoon. My dad was getting the stuff ready in the packs and I decided that I needed to go gather pinecones in a big bucket that I brought from home. My dad didn’t know where I had gone. He was worried and angry that I had disappeared. He went looking all over down by the river which was raging very hard from the winter snowmelt. He was gone for just a few minutes. My dad was calling my name and whistling and I knew that I should get back but I really wanted to fill the bucket with pinecones and take it with us. My dad came back to the truck and we met up again. My dad was really mad that I had left and reminded me that the first rule of backpacking was the buddy system so that we wouldn’t get separated. He also told me that I couldn’t take the bucket with me. It would be too hard to carry for our long trip and we needed to leave it behind. He was right, of course, but I still didn’t want to leave it. So we had a bit of a showdown before we even got started on the trail. My dad just sat in the truck until I was ready to leave the bucket behind but it took me a while to make that choice. Just then, it started to rain and so our trip was off to a rough start. I’m sure my dad was having second thoughts about bringing me on the trip. He said he didn’t know if he could keep me safe. But, I decided that I really wanted to go and that I needed to listen to my dad. So, I put down the bucket and we started on the trail. Love you Dad for making me listen. The first campsite. Now we started walking and carrying our packs. They were really heavy. Could I do this? I wondered, at first, but I decided not to think about it and started just putting one step in front of the other. We made some pretty good progress. As it started to get dark, we found a spot where we could set up camp. It was a very beautiful and quiet spot near the river in the middle of some trees. My dad got right to work setting up camp and starting a fire. He gave me an assignment to gather wood but I didn’t really feel like it. So my dad did all of the work of setting up the tent, gathering wood, getting water and making dinner. My dad did this the whole trip. I felt bad about that but I just didn’t have the energy to help him. My dad just did it without complaining and I am really grateful for him. The first night dinner was a pizza that we cooked in tinfoil on the fire. It tasted […]