Reap what you sow

I think I’ve recovered from my illnesses. Admittedly, the first few days of classes weren’t fun. But they were doable, and that was a blessing. My schedule looks set. I received permission to take 20 credits this semester, and will be doing the following courses:

-History 202: World Civilization 1500 to present

-Portuguese 321

-History 200: Historian’s Craft

-History 356: History of Brazil

-Religion 211: New Testament part 1 (covering the four gospels)

-Religion 261: Family History

-Business Man. 372: Entrepreneurship

-Tennis for beginners (starts halfway through the semester)

I’m enjoying my classes so far, and am learning much, and they have challenged how I think, which I appreciate. Part of my rationale of quitting my job was due to my desire to spend more time at school, participating in activities there. I’ve been able to do that, and that has been well worth the time. I’ve begun participating in a new club, The Fidelio Society. It is similar to the Toqueville Society but focuses more on religion and works in conjunction with the Wheatley Institute. I was asked if I’d be willing to be part of the leadership, and accepted. Besides the obvious responsibilities, one perk is that I’ll be invited to meet with and debate with the scholars and visitors that the Wheatley Institute brings in. I’m looking forward to that.

I was surprised with a package of dates shipped to me. Thank you Aunt Janel! I made her recipe of date muffins, and while they didn’t turn out perfect, i love them! They have quickly become one of my favorites and a surefire breakfast. Date pie is intriguing as well….

 

On Friday, I went to Salt Lake City early in the morning to attend on person the funeral of Pres. Monson. It was held in the Conference Center, and about 10,000 people showed up for the noon service. It was amazing to be there and listen to Pres. Nelson and Pres. Eyring and Elder Uchtdorf pay homage to this great man. Afterwards, I had planned to visit the Family history Library. Unfortunately that had closed for the day unbeknownst to me, but I was able to go to the Salt Lake Temple.

Upon returning to Provo, I quickly got ready for a date. I was doubling with my roommate Jeremiah and his girlfriend Maddie. She had arranged a date with her friend Alyssa Fenton. She moved around a lot, but finished high school in Pittsburgh, and is studying accounting at BYU. The original plan was to go to some hot springs. However, after driving there we discovered that the road had been closed off due to snow. So it was back to Provo. We ate some great chocolate chip cookies at Chip Cookies, and then went bowling. After a hiatus of a few years, I bowled better than ever before. I won the first round, and the second game I was over 100 after 6 frames. And then our hour time limit ran out. I had fun, and enjoyed getting to know Alyssa.

Saturday, my friend Brian Crane came down to visit from Idaho. He pulled in around 4, and i met him in the parking lot to go golfing. The weather was beautiful, and the course in fair condition. And I played. I birdied the first hole, after smashing a drive and chipping to two feet. On the second, I stuffed an 8-iron 175 yards to five feet away, and the round was on. I ended up with some slight miscues, but on the 7 hole executive course which we played, finished at one over par. I’ll take that! Look at those snow-capped mountains! Just beautiful scenery.

Part of the reason Brian came was to go on a date with a girl living here, so while he did that, I went to visit Naomi. Its always a good time with her, and I was happy to hear she interviewed with the University of Utah grad PT program.

Sunday was church, and the roll out of our new Sunday School program. We’ve gone from 0 teachers to 8 in three weeks, getting to know many people without callings in the process, and are teaching four classes weekly: Gospel Doctrine, Gospel Principles, Temple Prep, and a special Family Class, which combines elements of a few manuals.

After the meetings, Brian and I went with Erin and Ashley Ferry to SLC for the YSA devotional with Elder and Sister Uchtdorf. It was marvelous! Many times, youth ask the same sort of questions, and receive the same, valid answers. However, this time, the answers while essentially teaching the same thing, seemed much more relatable this time, and I learned a lot about this journey of mortality. Alyssa already had plans, so I set up Brian with Erin, and went with Ashley. She is from Cedar Hills Utah, served a mission in Guatemala, and is studying nursing at UVU. I was amazed at the number of attendees. Asking an usher and security guard, I was told that while tough to estimate, the organizers had expected 6,000-7,000 people.  Instead, 30,000 young single adults showed up! We didn’t even get a seat in the conference center, and watched it in a theater there.

Monday, Brian and I went to play basketball in the morning. It was a good workout. No more losing to Sawyer! We played on the same team as cousin Greg who happened to be there, and whipped the other team.

I am starting my garden. I’ve been collecting largeish aluminum cans (29 ounce), and plan to fill them with dirt and start an indoor garden. Any ideas on what to plant?

Jazz in my blood

I’ll try to quickly hit the last few weeks. First, finals ended fantastically. I ended with my highest GPA for a semester at BYU and given that I worked roughly 25 hours per week, on average, and led a healthy social life, I am quite pleased with the balance. Before leaving on Thursday to go to Vegas, I went out with Lynsie again on Wednesday night. We delivered some fresh homemade chocolate chip cookies all over town, spreading holiday cheer. Caroling not included. She had chosen one family that is Brasilian and are not members. While she did not know beforehand, it turns out they are from my last area on the mission! It was incredible to be able to talk to them. I would say it compares to going to Germany and meeting someone from the same town in South Carolina. I promised to invite them over for some Brasilian BBQ. Also, when we got there, her brothers best friend was visiting them, and he served in my mission, leaving just shortly before I arrived. It was a great night.

Thursday we drove to Vegas. Nora behaved admirably. Stopping for dinner at 5 Guys in St. George, we arrived about 8 pm. Friday morning we headed off for a quick peak at The Hoover Dam. I made the difficult decision to pass using the hot tub, but took advantage of the in-house organ. Because I had been asked to play in Granbury’s ward sacrament meeting. I am not used to playing for accompaniment and struggled at a time or two. The music kept going though, and we got through all three songs. I like to spice it up with more of a jazzy feel, going quick on the easy parts, slow on the hard ones. The beat is more of a suggestion anyway.

It was of course wonderful to make it to Granbury and see everybody. Mom has already written much, so I won’t recap. I got everything I wanted and more for Christmas. There is nothing like being home for Christmas.

I should have seen it coming. Sunday night, I had a nightmare, and that invariably means sickness, usually a fever. Nevertheless, I managed to make it through the day, even beating Sawyer twice in horse. However, Tuesday – Friday I was down for the count. Those days will be remembered by movie marathons using the projector, wrapped up in sleeping bags, lying on a heating pad. No popcorn. Actually, I endured nightmares for three straight nights. The last one nearly did me in. Think flying mice, moving their mouths like hungry hippos, and their tails, appearing starched lined out stiff behind them. During much of my sleepless nights, I spent writing, and I realized, I am a writer. It is something I really enjoy.

Leaving half-dead on Saturday, I made it to the airport perfectly timed. Dropped my bags off, made it through security, (travel tip #32 wear a leather coat with big pockets.) and ambled my way to my gate and into the boarding line. Oh yeah. Then, boarding, who should I see, but Elder Bradley, my first mission companion! He was going from Michigan to Dallas to SLC. I sat next to him, and we caught up and reminisced on our time in San Luiz, Arizona.

This week was the passing of Pres. Monson. It was a reminder that life is fleeting as a dream. One day we will be held accountable, not jst to God, but to ourselves, for what we did and who we became. Pres. Monson chose and cultivated a life of service, of love, of teaching, and of leading others unto the Savior of mankind, Jesus Christ. How noble a life! What are you doing with yours? As I’ve reflected on that, one statement in my call as a missionary came to mind.

Greater blessings and more happiness than you have yet experienced await you as you humbly and prayerfully serve the Lord…

May we follow the example of Pres. Monson and wear our lives out in service.