Mostly non-Mormon things. And some are weird (or unexpected), too.
My teenage daughter asked me the other day if I’d heard of a website called F* My Life, a place where people post gripes about how sucky their day has been. I hadn’t.
She was only asking me about it because she’d heard of a site someone had created in response called GivesMeHope.com.
People post about experiences they’ve had that give them hope.
Often they’re tales of a stranger’s generosity, like this one:
A few years ago, I was sitting on a bus in the Dominican Republic with many other tourists waiting to go back to our resort. It was hot and many children were complaining to their parents. Then one man got up, counted the children and got off the bus. He went to the ice cream shop and bought every child an ice cream cone. He GMH.
Sometimes, it’s just simple kindness:
My brother has Down Syndrome and doesn’t speak very well. This week while we were down the beach he tried to learn how to skim board.He would try and ask the other boys how they did it and they would laugh at him and walk away. The last day 4 teenage boys spent hours with him teaching him. They were so patient. He wouldn’t stop smiling :)They GMH.
2. Salvation Mountain
Out in the California desert in the Imperial Valley, there is an environmental disaster known as the Salton Sea. It’s a giant lake that was created in the early 1900s when they were trying to irrigate the valley with water from the Colorado River. An engineering mistake almost led to the entire river re-routing itself through the valley. It took a long time to fix, like years, I think. And a giant lake was formed.
The lake has very high salinity levels. The fish in the lake are dying off. The water is slowly evaporating. It gets a lot of agricultural run-off full of chemicals. If the lake is allowed to evaporate completely, it’ll leave behind toxic dirt. It’s just a mess.
In the 50s it was seen as a potential resort area. Yacht clubs were built. People like Frank Sinatra would go boating there. Neighborhoods were planned—streets paved. But no houses built. Conditions became unpleasant and people abandoned the area. Today, many places on the lake are like a wasteland. There are dead fish lining the shore on the west side of the lake. And wow, does it stink in the summer.
On the southeast end of the lake is a town called Niland. Niland used to be home to a military base, but the base closed down. Left behind were big slabs of concrete. A perfect spot to park a bus or an RV. A homeless/hobo community has formed there. They call it Slab City.
Maybe you’ve heard of it. It was in the movie Into the Wild, if you’ve seen that.
A man who lives there started a project. He thought he’d spend a week there working on it, and he’s still there 25 years later. His name is Leonard Knight, and a sweeter, gentler man I don’t think you could find.
He calls his project Salvation Mountain.
He’s painted an entire hillside with messages about God and love and Christ.
He’s built it all out of hay, clay, and mud—adobe. He’s created rooms and lives there.
There are several vehicles there that he’s painted, as well.
It’s amazing that out in the middle of a desert wasteland, where many places look like the apocalypse, someone has managed to build something so full of love and hope.
3. Operation Beautiful
Operation Beautiful is a website that was inspired by the Gives Me Hope website. The woman who started it was discouraged by what she calls Fat Talk, or women denigrating their looks because they don’t meet the “ideals” they see in movies, on tv and in magazines.
She leaves encouraging notes on mirrors in restrooms, and others have started doing it too. People email her a picture of the notes they’ve left, and she posts them on the site.
4. The Crystal Cathedral
I live in Orange County, CA, home of the Crystal Cathedral, Robert Schuller’s televised church. I went there one day to take pictures. I was expecting it to be a spectacle, and it was, in many ways.
But it was more than that, too.
There are several buildings on the grounds, and the architecture of each is rather different.
There is the Tower of Hope:
The Crystal Cathedral:
And there is the Prayer Spire:
Among others. There are also sculptures depicting scenes from the scriptures all over the place. They’re a little bit creepy, but I think any sculpture of a person that you can walk right up to is going to be creepy.
Moses with the 10 Commandments:
And a statue of the baby Jesus, which someone told me the employees there refer to as Terminator Jesus:
But the thing that made the biggest impression on me was the ground. Most of the pavement there has scriptures embedded in it. It also has the name of the person who donated the money for that block of pavement, but that didn’t bother me much. Maybe it’s because I’m such a text-based, visual person, but I found it really amazing to have a scripture everywhere I looked.
It’s an interesting place. I wasn’t expecting to get the sense of hope from it that I found. Everywhere I turned, every step I took, a message of faith and love and hope was waiting.
5. Mormon Women
OK, yeah, Mormon women in general give me hope, but I’m referring to a website. I’ve been rather out of it with the LDS group blogs, so this may have been publicized and I missed it. But it could use more publicity.
The intent of the site is partially to show people that Mormon women are fun, creative, positive, and amazing…just like everybody else. It’s a neat way to let our light shine, when there are so many anti- sites out there.