Oct. 14-20: Flapjacks

I started the week off right by playing “ultimate cabbage,” Monday for FHE. This is a game like ultimate frisbee, except it’s played with a cabbage. This is thrown around and the game continues until all the leaves fall off of it. Quite fun! (not as fun, picking up all the discarded leaves from the field after we were done.)

At work, in an effort to promote collaboration and unity, the company pays for you to go to lunch with a co-worker, and this can be done on their dime once a week. Generally, I’m 100% content with bringing in my lunch (and spending time reading on the balcony.) It’s geared more towards the California office anyway as they occupy various buildings and have about 65 employees. In Utah, totaling 14 employees, we all know each other pretty well, especially since I was one of the first. This Wednesday though, we decided to go out and eat. Of course, everyone wanted to pile in the minivan, so we did and headed off to Chipotle. It was a fun change of pace. I crack up, seeing how much everyone loves to 1. ride in a minivan 2. learn that I drive a minivan.

This picture below is of Robert and Hailey. They were sealed for time and all eternity on Friday. I went to their reception that night in American Fork. They have both been good friends and set great examples. Robert will start his PhD at Princeton next year, and I hope to join him on the East Coast before he finishes.

Sunday, around 11 am, I received a message from Pres. Young asking if I could make it to his house at 4 pm and assist him in giving a blessing. I remember well a story that Pres. Packer tells of a man who received a call from President Harold B. Lee asking if he could meet him in Salt Lake City the next day. Of course, the man discovered that his business would be taking him to Salt Lake the next day, though many miles away. The rest of the story is well worth reading, but needless to say there is a principle there, and I was honestly more than happy to make the trip up, postponing our family dinner until 6.

I met a woman there, who I’ll refer to as SKM, who had served as stake relief society president while Pres. Young was stake president. We had an enjoyable time conversing for about an hour, and then I anointed and Pres. Young sealed the blessing. I’ll simply say here that it was a blessing unlike any I’ve ever participated in. Truly special and SKM’s example was inspiring, and the magnitude of her faith apparent.

The main reason that Pres. Young had asked me to assist was to meet her, as she had been a judge in Utah, having been appointed in her early 30’s, and later taught at BYU Law School.  We were able to set up a time this coming week to have lunch together, providing me an opportunity to ask questions about law school.

The Youngs have been great to me. After SKM left, we talked for another half an hour and I left feeling uplifted and with some food for later to boot.

 

These good old goobers were waiting for me when I returned. Dinner was fantastic, the chili turning out great. We played a rousing game of Settlers of Cataan, and Porter “Sheep Baron” Schenewark pulled out the win in the end.

There is a saying I quite like, “No matter how thin the pancake is, there is still two sides.” or something like that. And it’s true. The reason this has been on my mind, is because of the blessing with Pres. Young.

Regardless, and applying the principle in a different way, it is important to be patient and listen to what others have to say. The other comes in Let us be kind, extend the benefit of the doubt, let us not seek simply for justice but be willing to extend the hand of mercy to those around us.

 

October 7-13: Stille Nacht

Do you hear that? Ah yes, Silent Night is playing. Tis the season. As birds instinctively know when to head south for the winter, my body knows when it is time to play Christmas music. And it hit this week. What a time of year! (Except for Oct. 31. Can you imagine what our puritan ancestors would have thought celebrating such a “holiday”?)

Also heard this week: destined, either, neither, derelict, glutton. Words pronounced wrong by me. Granted, glutton was a slip-up (I was talking about gluten in the same sentence…) but the others I fear have been mispronounced for years. Always makes me smile when I realize something like that.

Monday, for FHE our group did a “Just Dance” activity. This was my first time trying, and I have to say, I LOVED it! It was a lot of fun. Who walks like an Egyptian? This guy!

Pictured: Leftover hawaiian haystacks that I had for lunch. Didn’t finish, but came close. Had to save some room for the banana cream pie.

Friday, my boss’s wife, Noelle, was diagnosed with breast cancer. They’re closer to 40 than 50, and my heart went out to them. So much uncertainty and difficulties in the days ahead.

The LSAT prep continues. This week I took my fifth practice test, scoring a 169, my highest yet. If I could, I’d lock that score in. As it is, my goal is to go up more. I’d like to be at 175 before taking the test, and that way if I perform worse in the actual test because of stress or it is simply a tough one, I’ll still fall back to the 170 level. Fingers crossed.

After I finished the proctored practice, I headed to a quick MaeserLaser meeting. Methinks I’m going to be taking the newspaper back. Henry has done well in my absence but was quite eager for my return, and I think I’m in a better place to be able to handle the added responsibilities.

Saturday I was also able to go to the Provo City Center Temple.

Today, Kevin, Cooper and Porter came over after church. Which, by the way, church was so, so good today. I had a meeting at 9, but stayed and stayed, being there from 9-3:30, not because I had to, but because I didn’t want to leave. For priesthood we divided up into 4 groups, and separated to have smaller discussions on Pres. Nelson’s conference address from last Sunday, “Closing remarks.” I led one of the groups and we talked about making our own plans to prepare for the next 6 months, and about the temple, the crown jewel of the restoration. Sunday is my favorite day of the week. Going back to dinner, we had whole wheat rolls, cranberry sauce, mashed potatoes, gravy, chicken legs, and veggies. Delicious. Having no stock on hand, I went for broke in making a gravy, no recipe in sight. I boiled a few cups of water, added two bouillon cubes, a little bit of cream, flour, tossed in some garlic salt, black pepper, poultry seasoning, rosemary, and BOOM! That stuff turned out delicious. I’ll be making it again.

We played a few rousing rounds of bananagrams, and then I acted like they were missionaries, and asked who would be sharing a spiritual thought. Kevin went, guiding us to Romans 5:19,

For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous.

He applied it well to us, and testified that one person can make a big difference, and we can be that one person.

I thought the idea was great, so I turned to Porter and he shared Pres. Eyring’s Oct 2009 Conference address, “Be Ready.” The point, prepare yourself and stay worthy to be ready to bless someone with the power of the priesthood for you never know when a call might come. For Porter, that call came this week, when he went and visited someone in the hospital. Cooper talked about Stephen Owen’s talk which mentioned how a deer herd had been stranded by winter weather and had nothing to eat. Well-meaning humans left them straw, and while the deer ate lots of it, they were found starved, with their bellies full of straw. They ate, but were not food. Cooper applied it to us and said that there are many things, such as social media, which can use all our time, and leave us undernourished and starving. We need to make sure that we are spending time doing what really matters. I loved their insights, and will be asking everyone for more next week when they visit as well.

While Cooper had to head home, Kevin and Porter joined me at the nursing home where we sang for 40 minutes. Those boys not only have some good sized lungs, but can hit the right notes. It was a really good time. Someone asked if they were twins, to which they replied no, but indicated the familial relationship and then gestured towards me. I felt small standing next to the 6’7″ and 6’4″ giants.

Here’s the thought I shared with the fam today after dinner. It comes from section 36 of the Doctrine and Covenants:

Thus saith the Lord God, the Mighty One of Israel: Behold, I say unto you, my servant Edward, that you are blessed, and your sins are forgiven you, and you are called to preach my gospel as with the voice of a trump;

And I will lay my hand upon you by the hand of my servant Sidney Rigdon, and you shall receive my Spirit, the Holy Ghost, even the Comforter, which shall teach you the peaceable things of the kingdom;

Referring to Edward Partridge, this revelation was given in December 1830. Nevertheless, the principle applies to us as well. Many times, we don’t see the whole picture. When we are set apart for a calling, ordained to an office in the priesthood, or blessed, we see the human hand on our heads. As this scripture notes though, the Lord is laying his hand on as well. The priesthood is the power of God on this earth. Joshua 3:5 commends, “Sanctify yourselves: for to morrow the LORD will do wonders among you.” As we work to purify ourselves and do the will of the Lord, we will experience miracles in our lives, and be tools to perform miracles in others.

 

 

 

 

September 23-29: Song Sung Blue

Neil Diamond is one of the best!

The c-suite executives came out to Utah from Orange County this week. We recently expanded our office, and I moved into the new space. The plan is to continue growing, and the execs wanted to look at places around the valley where they could grow the company. My hunch is that they’ll move to Provo (which would be quite interesting) but our lease goes until June, so no changes will be happening anytime soon. The plan for a team activity had been to go axe-throwing and have dinner, but incredibly, all the axe places were booked on Wednesday already, so I suggested TopGolf.

In case the picture isn’t clear enough, (don’t worry, the window isn’t actually that dirty) this is me looking out my bedroom at roughly 150 people dancing in my backyard. Friday, I returned home at 9:00, and was surprised to find this scene. One of Spencer’s friends needed a place last minute to hold this party, and Spencer volunteered our backyard. It was funny because for the majority of the time, Tyler, Spencer, and I were all gone. And when we were back home, not one of us went outside. Just happened to happen at our place I guess. And it was over by 10:30, allowing for a nice night’s sleep.

When I said I returned home Friday at 9, I returned home from my date with Caroline. The much anticipated date. We went to the soap factory, which she was really excited for. This time, the form I chose for my soap had a baby grand piano as the motif, and Caroline went with a seashell. Alas, while everything went well, nothing went great, and we just didn’t click. I was still interested, and wanted to go out again, but was thinking she wasn’t that interested. I put it off for a few days, but hating any degree of uncertainty, on Tuesday (Oct. 1st) I asked her out again. Per my hunch, she said she wasn’t interested.

This is me, on Saturday, surprised by a flock of seagulls in Provo. I was sad things hadn’t gone as good as I hoped the day before, and after going to the gym, I decided to go golfing. It never fails to make the sun shine brighter. I enjoyed pondering for two hours, outside, alone with nature, and 14 clubs.

Everything had gone south that day. I didn’t do well on the practice LSAT, proctored at BYU that morning, and then ran straight to our EQ activity. Which also didn’t go well, with way less people attending than we had expected. I asked Jacob W. for a blessing, and he came over at night. I am so thankful for friends who care and always help. It was the longest blessing I can remember receiving, about 10 minutes. The power of the priesthood is real, and I felt rejuvenated immediately. The next day, Sunday, was wonderful. W The best way to get out of a funk is through service. There was a stake meeting from 7-8:30 am, and then I met with the Ward Council from 8:30-10 as we discussed callings and ministering assignments in the ward. Church is from 12:15-2:15, and right after that, Dillon and I set apart 5 people who had been called. That was a tender experience, and something I’m still getting used to. The fam, Tanmarie, Nora, Porter and Cooper, came over for dinner, and we had biscuits and gravy. Ironically, I almost never use/drink milk, but the last few times I’ve had Tanner over, I’ve inadvertently made meals using lots of dairy, forgetting that he can’t really eat it. Oops.

I witness that God lives, and He speaks through his servants. He has in the past, and he does so today. A few experiences to illustrate that. First, the aforementioned blessing I received from Jacob. The Spirit was so strong and bore witness to me of the truthfulness of his words. Second, I’ve brought all (or nearly so) my belongings from my parents house to Utah. Included in that haul, are my scrapbooks. Over the years, I’ve looked at them a lot – excepting the book documenting the first year of my life. That time as a baby has never interested me much, in part I think because I have no memory of it. Recently, I looked through it, and came across the blessing I received from when I was a baby. Obviously, I have absolutely no memory of that, and didn’t even know the words had been recorded. It was quite sweet to be able to read that, and hear the words, for the first time in 24 years. In that time, much of the blessing has come to pass. It fortified my testimony that God speaks through his servants. I am thankful for a father who does his best to live worthily to be able to have the Spirit with him, and is ready to bless those around him. Third, the Bishop presented a plan for the ward, and the Spirit testified to me, that it is the will of the Lord for this ward.

God lives, he loves us. He has blessed us with leaders who speak his will, and work to carry it out. We have a prophet today, President Russell M. Nelson. As we follow his counsel, we will not be led astray, but will come closer to our Heavenly Father and our Savior Jesus Christ.

 

Sept. 30-Oct. 6: Conference Weekend

The highlight of the week was General Conference.  Our stake in Texas provided tickets for Saturday morning. I had been tipped off that Elder Holland would be speaking Saturday morning, and sure enough, he was the first speaker. I drove up to SLC with Cooper, and we met my co-worker Glenn, and Porter with two girls he rode up with, Whitney and Deseret. The seats were up in the balcony, way on the left side, the first time I’ve sat in that area. When that session ended, we split up,  Porter and I going to the Law School luncheon held in the Joseph Smith Building, right next door. Looking for a place to sit, I saw President Nieder and his wife Cindy and it was great to be able to talk to them. I also talked with Adam Balinski again. On our way out, President Nieder gave me a kind, and unsolicited pitch to one of the assistant deans, Gayla Sorenson, telling her that I need to be at BYU Law School next fall, and they can’t let me get away. Porter and I hustled over to the standby line, and patiently waited to see if we’d make it in. We stayed in the old tabernacle, and just after the start of the session, we were led over to the conference center, and given great seats down on the floor. It was another great session, and I am continually grateful for the opportunity I have to attend conference living in Utah.

On our way home from the afternoon session, Porter and I stopped by Wal-Mart for a few items. Checking out with the automatic cashier, I got $20 in cash back, and then was interrupted by the person in line behind me, Ashley, who recognized me from last Sunday, and just moved into the ward. It cracks me up, how little it takes to fluster me, as I promptly forgot the $20 still sticking out. Ashley kindly got that to us before we made it to the van, but I then made a wrong turn leaving, apparently still flustered.

That night, I watched the women’s session for the first time. Why have I not done this before?!?! It was fantastic, and the temple announcements by President Nelson were exciting. Orem will finally have a temple.

When it was over, I made some visits to quorum members to talk about ministering, and then took the LSAT practice test. On Thursday I took it as well (tries #3 and #40) scoring 166 and 163. My goal is a 170. I have 6 weeks to go, and haven’t done much in terms of actual studying yet, so I think with a bit of grit it can happen.

Sunday morning, for day two of conference, the Whitcomb and Schenewark contingencies met up. Abby, Michael, Emily, Cooper, Porter, Tanmarie, and Nora all came over for pumpkin pancakes. Thursday, one of my co-workers mentioned how every conference they make pumpkin pancakes and I was immediately scheming. I haven’t really ever made pancakes of any variety before, but it was pretty easy, and they turned out a lot better then I expected. Tyler, one of my roommates also joined us, and he said that with the whipped cream and syrup, it was like “eating pumpkin pie.” Everyone left after the morning session, and I watched the afternoon finale with Tyler.

Tanner noted this was quintessential Hunter: cooking, conference, and a bathrobe.

Alright, its late, and this feels way too newsy, so to finish:

Porter and I swimming at 10 pm on Tuesday. Why not? The pool was heated and empty.

My lifetime number of selfies has doubled this week.

I had the serendipity to enter into possession of some expensive face masks. (Read: the last inhabitants of the house left them). So naturally, I’ve been trying them all out. This is bentonite clay mixed with apple cider vinegar. 8/10. My favorite so far has been a souffle made of shea butter and lemongrass. Confession: This pic was pre-date. I was going all out.

I went golfing with Mark Soelberg on Thursday. Its been a while since we’ve hung out, and its always a fun time with him. We played nine at Fox Hollow. We were able to talk a lot about church, and what it means to have charity, one of my favorite discussion topics. That night, I went with our new secretary Jacob Doman and we made a bunch of visits. We hadn’t planned on it, but felt prompted to visit William M., and as soon as he opened the door I knew why. We shared 3 Nephi 17:5-10 with him:

And it came to pass that when Jesus had thus spoken, he cast his eyes round about again on the multitude, and beheld they were in tears, and did look steadfastly upon him as if they would ask him to tarry a little longer with them.

And he said unto them: Behold, my bowels are filled with compassion towards you.

Have ye any that are sick among you? Bring them hither. Have ye any that are lame, or blind, or halt, or maimed, or leprous, or that are withered, or that are deaf, or that are afflicted in any manner? Bring them hither and I will heal them, for I have compassion upon you; my bowels are filled with mercy.

For I perceive that ye desire that I should show unto you what I have done unto your brethren at Jerusalem, for I see that your faith is sufficient that I should heal you.

And it came to pass that when he had thus spoken, all the multitude, with one accord, did go forth with their sick and their afflicted, and their lame, and with their blind, and with their dumb, and with all them that were afflicted in any manner; and he did heal them every one as they were brought forth unto him.

10 And they did all, both they who had been healed and they who were whole, bow down at his feet, and did worship him; and as many as could come for the multitude did kiss his feet, insomuch that they did bathe his feet with their tears.

If Christ was here, what would you ask of Him? My testimony is that he wants to hear from us. His arm of mercy is extended always, and he can heal those who are lame, halt, blind, or have any sort of struggle. He is our Savior.