Don’t Forsake Me, Oh My Darling – 10/14/2018

Yessir, I watched “High Noon” last weekend. Gary Cooper, Grace Kelly and an internal struggle played out on screen. Loved it.

Newsy Update:

A few weeks back, Bro. Corbett was released from the high council and Bro. Holmes was called to replace him. Given that we work closely with the HC, it has been very informative to see the different styles and MO’s. They have usually attended our weekly meetings and bring lots of experience that helps.

When my mom was visiting, she picked a crock-pot out for me, per Mimi’s birthday gift to me. Since then, its been a delight to use. I’ve made stuffing, beans, more beans, scalloped potatoes, and more beans. I (obviously) love legumes, and love being able to start cooking them, and not have to worry about them at all. And the seasoning and potatoes turned out good as well.

Wednesday, I went with Daniela and Robert to Salt Lake City to eat at The Eklektic. Wow! That was the best steak I’ve had in a long time. A nice cut of meat, with tamarindo, blue cheese, and caramelized onions. Dessert for me was crepes with ice cream. Daniela is the regional director for ISI and we met the ISI chapter president of Utah State at the restaurant to discuss upcoming events.

Thursday after work I attended a lecture given by Arthur Brooks. His books sound quite interesting, and I plan on checking them out, but after all the hype I’d heard, I was admittedly disappointed. I didn’t feel like any new ideas had been presented or important thoughts shared. That said, Arthur Brooks (President of AEI) gives 170+ speeches annually, and is an engaging orator. Afterwards, I joined some ISI members (again) and we discussed some parts of the speech at SLAB Pizza. ISI has been an integral part of my college education, and I appreciate likewise their willingness, nay, insistence, on always picking up the tab.

Due to an upcoming tax deadline, I had work off on Friday. After my classes ended, I picked up Tanner and we played the Executive Course at Eastbay. He had the shot of the day with a nice 45 ft. sharply downhill putt to save par. I did nearly usurp that on the last hole, but my 60+ ft eagle putt lipped out. It was nice to spend that time with him and enjoy the remaining good weather.

Saturday morning I started and couldn’t put down Stanley Crawford’s A Garlic Testament: Seasons on a Small New Mexico Farm. Folks, that is the dream. The evening was spent working at the BYU football game.

Sunday night, I again went to sing at the assisted nursing home. I was accompanied by some friends, and we enjoyed our time, with the residents imparting greater joy to us, than we could possible share with them. We went to the memory ward, and when we left, a resident walked, arm in arm with me to the end of the hallway, before bidding us farewell, knowing that she couldn’t go out the door. It was tough to fathom.

 

Meaningful Moments

With three classes focusing on Family History, I’ve had plenty of opportunities to do research, and my love for this field continues to grow. I’ve “met” my 4x great-grandfather Cyrus Bullard, who besides caring for his farm, raised honeybees on the side. I’ve become emotional thinking about another great-great-great grandfather, Ellison Scott, dying at age 44, leaving behind his family, all due to an abscessed tooth. I’ve imagined the life of an uncle, George Kingsbury, who stayed single into his early thirties, before marrying and raising a couple daughters. By 70, he was a widower and still working, laboring in a factory, pressing hats.

I can’t help but ask, what were their struggles and trials? What did they dream of? What would they think of their ancestors now?

My former mission comp, Vitor Brito let me know of a convert, Jose Fernando that went to the temple for the first time. Quick recap: Elder Brito and I worked relentlessly and perfectly obediently for five weeks with no results. The last week of the transfer we decided to try a new area, about 90 minutes away by bus, and on the beach, as many of the cities residents were going there for the holidays. We made the trip, and almost immediately were led to Jose Fernando. When we knocked, he had been praying that God would show him the true church. Jose would be a great example to me in his desire and diligence in following Jesus Christ. Despite the long travel time, he would often arrive first at the chapel. Now, he traveled a far greater distance, a roughly 14 hour bus ride to arrive at the temple in Sao Paulo.

To see how far he has come has been a true inspiration. I am so thankful to have met this amazing man, and to see him reach another milestone in his life.

February 2017

October 2018

 

Sometimes playing the organ, I wonder what other people think of my oft-repeated hymns, as I play what I am familiar and comfortable with. During testimony meeting, an elder returning to activity, bore his testimony, in his words, for the first time in years. The catalyst was the hymn, “Israel, Israel, God is Calling,” which I play quite often. He related how he gained his testimony after praying and reading the book of Mormon for months, without a clear answer, he went on a youth trip to the Kirtland Temple. There, he learned about how angels visited on the day of dedication, and many other miracles, etc.

In this hymn, there is a line, “and angels are descending to visit the earth!” This reminded him quite powerfully of his conversion experience, and he bore pure testimony of the reality of our Heavenly Father, his love for us, and the plan that God has for each one of us, His children. It was amazing to hear, and the answer was quite clear, that yes, its ok to play the same hymns over and over again, as God’s ways are higher than ours.

 

Do Vultures contain Gluten? and other stories

No way to catch up on three weeks, but here we go. Way back (Sept. 22nd) I had friends over for a “bachelor breakfast” at 9:30 on Saturday. Turned out amazing! We had biscuits and gravy, banana muffins, pumpkin muffins, watermelon, scrambled eggs, cinnamon rolls, and water. The list: Tanner, Robert Wagner, Chris Devenport, Donnie Clark, Mark Soelberg, Kimball Hatch, Lawson Lighten, Nathan Folkman, Porter Wright.

leftover brownies from a stake activity. Also the first time I played “ninesquare.” Much better than the original foursquare, and played over your head.

Two weeks ago the highlight was the wedding and surrounding events. Being well documented already, I’ll move quick.

Tuesday was cousin+grandparent dinner at Uncle Ben’s house. We had a great time, and my garlic farming dreams have now been well spread to all.

Wednesday night, I loved picking my mother up from the airport and seeing her in wonder at all the changes that have happened here in Utah since her last visit, 20+ years ago. To be far, I think my dad was more shocked on his first visit back. Wednesday I did a half-day of work before going to the City Center Temple expecting to meet my mom on the grounds. After two laps, figured she went in inside, so I gave it a go and entered. Thankfully there was one more seat (or I got one) and I was able to witness the wonderful sealing of Michaela and Greg. Never to be forgotten.

First time I’ve seen a sealing, and the first time I’ve been in the temple with my mom. After a tough picture session, we parted ways to meet back up for the reception. Which was a blast. The setting was immaculate, and I went on an errand for my grandmother before the dancing start. #winwin.

Friday I attended my morning classes before again skipping work and going to Cafe Rio with Mom and Annemarie and Nora. We met the ward exec sec there and his wife, Sis. Jolley gifted us a dessert, Key Lime Pie.

We picked Tanner up from Law School and enjoyed going around town for a little before it was time to take the visitors back to the airport.  Of course, before we went to pick up the grandparents and take them as well, Mom and I stopped at Rockwell’s Ice Cream. The drive back to SLC airport was another highlight of the trip as I chatted with my grandparents and mother (with no attempted set-ups from Grampy at this time hallelujah) and enjoyed listening to their collective wisdom and feeling their love. There is nothing like family.

I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention that despite gifting the car, Grampy still stuck a wad of cash in my hand for driving him up to the airport. What a character.

Saturday morning I started the weekend off with a date, Hannah Schoendorfer, joined by Abby and her bf Michael. Together we made cinnamon rolls, and as they were leaving the oven, were joined by cousins Naomi and Hannah there for breakfast and the Red Sox game. Hannah S. is from Pennsylvania, studies sociology, used to be an organ major, and plays the bell tower at BYU. When that ended, Naomi had a friend show up, and we watched the start of the game, before they had to leave.

Sunday I had another date after church, quickly thrown together. I’d been invited lots of times to go sing at an assisted living home, and finally had a free Sunday evening. I invited Megan Stanley, and then compelled my friend Nathan to find a date. In 20 minutes. He acquiesced, but after a couple tries to no avail, we went to go door to door. First apartment was a no go, so on to the second, where three of the ladies living there wanted to go, so all six of us jumped in the minivan and off we went. I had a fantastic time! I loved singing hymns to the residents and will definitely be back. i felt like that was one of the best things I’ve done in a while, and the other college kids there with us, were gracious as well.

I knew this week was going to be crazy, with midterms, and projects, and playing catch-up from the week before, and finally with a football game on Friday before conference. And boy, has it been a long one. I’ve felt completely occupied all week, with no breaks, and still haven’t been able to finish everything. Tuesday I spontaneouslyl called Tanner, and we met for two hours and threw together a quick business plan for a contest. Link to 90 sec. youtube video is here. A gigantic thanks to Noe Guzman, who came over on Thursday, before I even returned home from work, and did all my dishes that I’d neglected the last few days. Huge blessing, and unbeatable timing. There was no gym this week, no club events, and even now, my room is a wreck, I’ll be waking up early to finish off one more project before school, and I’ll go from there.

Also miraculous was the quick football game on Friday. I made it home at 11:15 pm, and was able to finish typing a paper due at midnight.

The one reprieve came Saturday night when I went golfing with Kimball and Lawson. We jetted around the exec course and I finished by sinking a 14 foot putt in near complete darkness. I loved playing with the clouds descending on us, and the sky near pitch black by the end.

 

For conference I went up Saturday morning (after two straight nights of staying up to 1:30 am!!!!) with Kimball and Lawson. I gave two tickets to a foreign couple waiting nearby, and immediately they burst into tears. I don’t know their whole story but we ended up sitting close to them and they were visibly moved the entire time. Glad I had the chance to pass those off to them. Lunch was courtesy Tanner and BYU Law Society. I ended up having some problems with my ticket so called Tanner back and hitched a ride back, to watch the afternoon session from home.

Sunday morning I again met with Lawson and Kimball and we went to Lawson’s home in Riverton for breakfast (eggs benedicts and hash browns 10/10) and after lunch there as well headed to SLC joined by Spencer Christofferson to watch the last session in the conference center. Spencer actually served in Salvador, Bahia, Brazil, so he loved hearing the temple announcement, and we all were thrilled by that and by Cape Verde’s announcement.

I love listening to conference, and know that these leaders are speaking the mind and will of the Lord for us. Among many takeaways was the realization I need to attend the temple more frequently, and return to my once – a – week schedule.

I left those three up north for a dinner, as I had been invited by Rachel Hansen to join some of her friends in Provo. We had burritos, and then played “smurfs” before I made my exit.

I wrote this a few weeks ago, but obviously never finished the letter:

“I appreciate the people that have entered into my life, and for their problems and struggles that are giving me opportunities to  grow.

On Tuesday, after a delightful time with the extended family in Lindon, I arrived home at 7:30 with two papers to write that night. One hour later, I still had to write a single word. Nothing was coming. And then someone, obviously quite urgently, asked for a priesthood blessing. So I went. And immediately upon arriving back home to my apartment, the words flowed. And I finished much sooner than I had expected. While a small miracle, it is a miracle, and truly, when we put the Lord first, everything else works out.”

Related, here are two thoughts by Neal Maxwell:

“If we are serious about our discipleship, Jesus will eventually request each of us to do those very things which are most difficult for us to do.”

“God does not begin by asking us about our ability, but only about our availability, and if we then prove our dependability, he will increase our capability.”

I know of their truthfulness, and know that nothing we do will be as fulfilling or as meaningful as our work with family and with the Lord’s kingdom.