Marching On

Amanda and I are dating. You could say it’s been a good week!

Sunday night I had dinner with her, her roommates, and the members of her ward who minister to them. Dinner was delicious; chicken pot pie, rolls, and cheesecake for dessert.

After that, I picked up Abby and Michael and we headed to Kayla’s for a game night. She had prepared lots of food, and it was great to see Stevie, Kevin and Kaleb again.

Wednesday, after my classes ended at 2 pm, I met up with Amanda and we got ice cream at the creamery and then played people watching bingo. This was the first time for both of us. We filled out bingo sheets with characteristics like someone with pink hair, someone pushing a stroller, someone carrying a guitar, etc. and then tried to find people matching the description. She won.

Thursday I caught up on some reading and then went to a game night at the invitation of Jordan Pearson. He was in my ward last year, and we ran into each other on campus a few weeks ago and decided to get together. We played a few rounds of telestrations, and catchphrase, both of which I thoroughly enjoyed.

Friday was a night to remember. I went bowling at BYU with Amanda. Lawson, his date Libby; Kimball and his fiance Aubrey joined us. We all goofed around the first game trying new techniques and attempting to spin the ball like Kimball. The second game everyone tried their best. Except for me. Amanda challenged me to bowl through my legs, so I took her up on the challenge, and what was intended to be a one-frame joke lasted the whole game. Incredibly I nailed two strikes, and finished with a 113.

Saturday morning I cooked for an EQ/RS combined activity. Which means a ward activity. I cooked fried dough and had help prepare a fruit bowl. The activity had changed from a yoga session to a murder mystery breakfast, which I was less than thrilled about, but it exceeded my expectations.

After completing some mundane tasks, I went over to Amanda’s and helped deep-clean her new car. It was an unexpected gift from her aunt and uncle, and had not been cleaned in three years. After nearly two hours on that, I headed off to finish some homework and eat dinner. And we decided to go to the Fishkiss Spa that opened one year ago in Provo. Neither of us like the idea of fish touching us, but that made it more interesting. The wait time was close to an hour, so we had time to walk around downtown a little bit. We visited Pioneer book and perused their offerings. She spotted a little poster of the President’s and challenged me to name them all in order. Of course no.’s 11-14 wreaked havoc on me, but overall I did well. After a good while looking around, we headed back to the spa. They cleaned our feet, and then we went to the tanks and plopped our feet in. It was the weirdest sensation at first! The fish nibbled and nibbled on the dead skin. The employees say that it feels like putting your feet in something carbonated, but I have to disagree and say that it feels exactly like little fish nibbling on your feet. Nevertheless, after the first few minutes, it was actually a tad relaxing.  

Tuesday I had again attended with Amanda the weekly devotional. This one was by Elder Randall Bennett of the 70. He spoke about following the prophets and how that will lead us to success. Here are the six prophetic invitations that Elder Bennett again invited us to complete:

1. An individual must ask Heavenly Father how He feels about him or her and what their mission is on earth, and then follow those impressions with exactness.
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2. Learn ‘all you can’ about Jesus Christ and follow Him.
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3. Spend more time where the Spirit is present.
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4. Learn how to hear and follow the whisperings of the Holy Ghost.
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5. Prayerfully study the Book of Mormon every day.
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6. Serve your ancestors and others in the temple.

I know that by following God’s prophet on the earth, we will not be led astray. Through the fulfillment of these six challenges, we will draw closer to our Savior, and have the chance to change not just the world, but to be born again, and be changed ourselves.

“Now you may not come from perfect circumstances either but  I promise that if you will act with faith in your heavenly father and his plan and in Jesus Christ and his Atonement and follow God’s prophets, I promise that you will be given power to do whatever the Lord needs you to do, and to become whatever he needs you to become, despite  your circumstances.” Elder Bennett

 

A Connecticut Puritan in Happy Valley

I went to the temple on Friday just to go, with no specific question or need on my mind. However, as I walked out, it was obvious to me that I needed to end Victory Pizza for the time being, focus on graduation, and look for a job. I headed to the golf course to putt around a little, and made some phone calls. Spring has arrived, and Friday was my first day this year in shorts. Brian, in Boise, had some good leads, and sent me the info for Clearwater Analytics. I texted the guy, named JP, and we set up a phone interview for Saturday. The call went good, and he sold me on the company. I don’t know yet what will happen, but that shot into the running, and I should know pretty quick if I got the job. Besides looking at Idaho, I’ve also thrown some feelers out into Texas and Massachusetts. I’m not so set on staying in Utah past April anymore.

Its easy to think of the United States always as one country, instead of recognizing the wide disparity between states. Here’s one stat that made me think. The average person in Mississippi lives just as long as the average person in Bangladesh. And the average person in West Virginia lives just a little less than the average person in Libya.

My history capstone rough draft was due on Thursday. I wrote five pages on Tuesday in just over an hour, thought it was going way easier than expected, and put it on the back-burner again. Wednesday, I worked for another hour, and on Thursday I worked on it all day, finishing it before 5 pm, and turning in 20 pages. I remembered people like my mission president, President Young, who did not have the opportunity to graduate college, but would have loved to. Remembering those who would love to have the experience of college helped me continue and work hard, but I have to admit that at this point, I don’t appreciate it intrinsically, and am glad to be so close to the end.

Amanda invited me to the devotional on Tuesday and we listened to Elder Carlos Godoy of the 70. I put off any other dates because of my paper, but on Friday we had planned to go ice-skating. Then, as this was our day of spring-break, she went hiking that morning and slipped on a waterfall and broke her hand. Knowing that a fall ice-skating could cause a lot more damage, I brought some pizza and we watched BYU’s baseball team beat Gonzaga. We joked that she had taken “spring break” too literally. Alas, beware the ides of March. Saturday we went and played tennis, and despite being one-handed, Amanda played really well. Those were two of my favorite dates ever, and provided good opportunities to get to know each other. After playing tennis for an hour, her hand started hurting, and we just sat on the court in the sunshine and talked for another hour. Having played golf with Kimball in the morning, I ended up slightly sunburned which is a noteworthy accomplishment in March. Tonight, I’m going over to her place for dinner.

On Tuesday, when I decided to leave my paper for later, I ended up again at the golf course. As a single player, I ended up joining Adam for nine holes. There are times when I want to play alone, and others like on Tuesday where company is nice, and thus my invite to Adam. He was traveling from Minnesota to Arizona. His family was going on vacation there, and he was recently let-go from work, and was driving their bikes and other equipment down, having wanted to see this part of the country. He had driven from Jackson Hole that morning and was planning to continue on for a few more hours later at night. Adam works in insurance on the back-end and his company had massive, but expected layoffs. However, it came with a year’s worth of severance due to his past 28 years at the company, and he’ll start in April at a new one. This was his first time in Utah and we enjoyed talking about everything from life insurance premiums to Amy Klobuchar’s bid for president.

Tuesday I also went to a much needed therapy session with Tanmarie and Nora. It helps to have loved ones to talk and counsel with about concerns. I left uplifted, and especially loved spending some time with Nora and her unbridled enthusiasm for the small things.

Saturday night, after tennis, I returned home and cut my hair. Then I ate dinner, made some homemade ice cream, and read in my robe still feeling soaked in sunshine. Makes you wonder, can life get better?

“Adam fell that men might be, and men are that they might have joy.” 2 Nephi 2:25.

 

March 10, 2019

A Sunday letter! Yes, it is stake conference weekend. Our stake presidency was reorganized, and Pres. Swenson, a man whom I’ve greatly admired these last 18 months was released and Pres. Tooler called as the new stake president. In conjunction with this event, Elder Pearson of the 70 and Elder Staheli, an area authority visited. They provided me with a shot of energy and inspiration, and I left with a long list of things to improve. Once again, my testimony was strengthened and I know that these men have been called of God.

Thursday I had a date with Amanda. She is from Huntington Beach, California, and is studying communications at BYU. She served a mission in Finland, and we met through the app Mutual. We attended the Symphonic Orchestra and had a great time. The finale was Rachmaninoff’s 3rd Piano Concerto, which I’ve wanted to hear live for some time. It did not disappoint. I knew I wanted to go out again, and set up a game night on Saturday. After the evening session of conference, I picked her up, and we were joined by Lawson and Isabel again. We played Ticket to Ride and snacked on some fudge. Now, the tables are reversed and tonight I’m going to her apartment for a game night.

Friday I worked really hard to get everything done, got a good workout in, and was home by 4:30. I did this so I could change into my bathrobe, cook a nice dinner (fish, cranberry sauce, salad, potatoes) and spend some time painting. I painted two pictures, read for a little, and got to bed early. Just what the doctor ordered.

Saturday I went and got kolaches (a polish pastry) with Elizabeth and was amazed at the turn in the weather. Friday had been blustery and snowy and COLD. Saturday reached the mid 50’s, and I felt myself drawn to the golf course again, to pitch and putt for an hour. I cleaned the house in preparation for Amanda coming over later that night, and then it was off to conference.

I learned that Canopy fired 40% of its employees, over 100 people, including 83% of the sales team. While I did not see Canopy as turning out successful, maybe this is the reset that they need. I was surprised as it comes less than two months after they moved into their new building. I have ben awed by the unity that the people who were let go as well as those who stayed have showed. I do see that as a sign of the good job that CEO Kurt Avarell has done in building company culture.

Other events of the week include more EQ restructuring. We changed lots of ministering assignments to better address struggling individuals, and I had the privilege to participate in a couple blessings, where the love of the Lord was evident.

One of the things that will change with my graduation, is Mom’s calling my letter, “The College Correspondent.” Perhaps a Pizza Periodical is in the near future…

 

Ok, I’m signing off. I’m beat and need a quick nap.

 

“Remember, in the end it is the merciful who obtain mercy.”

Phill-ing Good

The city of brotherly love. I loved my visit to Philadelphia. I arrived Thursday afternoon (Feb 21)  and used Lyft for the first time to arrive at my hotel. The Historic Wyndham, it was perfectly located and my bedroom window looked down upon Benjamin Franklin’s grave, along with four other signers of the Declaration of Independence. Nightly, I could not help imagining what they must think of the United States, all the pros and cons, and if we are living up to their vision. The conference I attended was entitled, “Liberty and the Declaration of Independence” and was different from previous conferences. There were 16 students and two professors, and we had six discussions in which we were arranged into a square and debated various issues dealing with the Declaration such as equality and consent. Beforehand we had read a few hundred pages and this helped ground our arguments historically and we had great discussions, that always carried beyond the 90 minute sessions into our free time.

Site of the my first birthday party. aka the signing of the Declaration.

And admittedly, knowing I’d be in Philly with free time was what got me to the conference.

On Friday I made my way to the main tourist spots, including Independence Hall. Saturday, I went with a couple other conference attendees, Bradley and Shelby, to Pat’s and bought a philly cheesesteak. Ignorantly, I did not know the classic includes cheese whiz. Nevertheless, it was good. And the experience priceless. They only take cash, and have their system perfected so from the time I said “cheesesteak” to my first bite, less than one minute elapsed.

Feeling good after lunch

Bradley and Shelby took an uber to go see the Rocky statue, but I opted to walk instead. The weather was a bit chilly, but not bad, and I wanted to get to know the town better. I walked a few miles, through markets and deserted streets, past an African dance rehearsal, seeing lots of street art, and made my way to the Philadelphia Temple.

I was surprised because it is in the heart of downtown, on the main city square. And it was beautiful! From there I went to the public library. I was supposed to play an online chess game with another BYU student and I proceeded to park myself in their humanities section. Even in the cold February weather, tourists were everywhere, and the Rocky statue and the Love statue had long lines to take pictures.

Independence Hall

Sunday morning I left earlier to catch my 7:30 am flight, and happened to pick up an inexperienced Lyft driver who was terrified driving in the rain, going 15-20 under the speed limit on the highway. A couple tender mercies got me through security much faster than anyone else, and I caught my flight with a few minutes to spare. After a brief layover in Chicago, Tanner was waiting for me in Salt Lake City and my travels were over.

Concluding a weekend of being pampered.

I can’t believe I graduate next month! This semester is speeding by. There is lots of work left, but it simplifies to basically my capstone paper, and a final exam in Physical Science. I’m not worried about any of my other classes. Alas, I did cancel my trip to Brazil as I reasoned that missing 9-10 days out of country was too much.

In terms of dating, I had my second date with Camilla on Thursday. We went to the Bean Museum, marking my first visit there. Admittedly, I was inspired by video of Nora enjoying the exhibits and thought I needed to see it for myself. Although the main draws are the African land animals and the largest collection of waterfowl, I was most interested in Pres. Packer’s dozens of carved birds and paintings.

I also went out with Caree. She transferred from BYU to UVU, for their aviation program. In fact, her parents met while working for Delta, and flying runs deep. She served a mission to Tahiti, and is always traveling. We went to Bruge’s waffles, in downtown Provo, for their $2 Tuesday.

Sunday, after church Tanner alerted me to dinner at Uncle Ben’s. I drove over with Tanmarie, and after helping put Ethan’s Eagle Scout project birthday boxes together, we enjoyed a wonderful dinner. The best part was seeing family. Aunt Becky was there with Brady, and Kayla and Stevie. Michael and Abbey were both there, and I learned of their recent engagement. Because of that event, Sarah came down from Idaho with her boyfriend Riley. And Emma came down with her friend, Emily, from Salt Lake City.

We did bow out before the laser tag fun started, as I had scheduled a double date. Lawson was with Isabel, and Camilla came over, and we played a game and had pumpkin pie.

Despite some stubborn snow, winter appears to be over, and I went golfing a couple times. Getting out into the sunshine, onto the grass was just what the doctor ordered.

I said goodbye to store bought shampoo, having experimented with a couple recipes and satisfied with the result, have begun to use my own conditioner and shampoo. Now if I go bald in the next few weeks, you’ll know why.

Hello Spring!

Saturday we had our best day selling pizza, and I even managed to sell three sodas. Now that I’m not going to Brazil, I think I’ll redouble my effort. I added a BBQ chicken that everyone has loved so far, with the homemade BBQ sauce perfectly tangy. Next type I’m planning to add is a balsamic + peach pizza.