March 9-March 15: sodium bicarbonate, where art thou?

In last weeks letter, I neglected to mention that on Sunday the 8th, I went with Porter and Cooper to Tanmarie’s house. There, we enjoyed delicious burgers, Nora time, and seeing Tanmarie.

This picture is from a poetry reading I was invited to:

On the second Tuesday of every month, the Rock Canyon Poets meet in the Pioneer Book bookstore and read works written by the members or any poem that they want to share. This time, there was a guest reader, Natasha Saje, and the bulk of the time was devoted to her reading and expositing on her own favorite poems. I’d like to go again; it was enjoyable to mix up my normal activities.

Earlier that day, we had our company-wide meeting and it was announced that on Thursday we would all work from home as a test and in anticipation of having to do that due to the coronavirus. Wednesday things had changed so quickly that instead of a test, Thursday was deemed the day that all would begin working from home. I lugged home my monitors and lots of cords and set up a little area on my desk. Then headed to book club where the situation was forgotten momentarily and we discussed the comedy, “Much Ado about Nothing.”

After 8 hours of working from home on Thursday, I needed to leave. I go tin my car not sure where I would go, but as often happens, I ended up at the golf course. While paying $10 for my round at the register, in fortuitous timing, Mike showed up with his friend Tanner at that exact moment, so all three of us played together.

With no cases of Covid-19 near Provo, feeling safe, and knowing that things would shortly be shut down (BYU had just cancelled all classes), I went ahead with a small pie night on Friday. It was just going to be a little game night, then someone pointed out that the next day was pie day, 3.14. We had ice cream, key lime pie, and I also made a Cranberry pie, completely making up the recipe. I used 1.5 cups of cranberries, blended, and everyone really liked it. This picture isn’t much, but I didn’t think of taking a picture until Porter went to finish the last few pieces off.

We played a few rounds of codenames as well as the “word game.” Miranda, her friend Lela, the Jensen Bros., Dellan, Mikaela, Mattie, David, Justice, and Porter, were all there.

Saturday. I had planned to go the temple, garden, and finish my UCONN law school application. Then, Jacob C. asked me if I could come with him. He was going on a date from Mutual, and the girl had just told him some of her friends wanted to go hiking with them as well, and asked Jacob to bring some guy friends and even things out a little. Before meeting up with Jacob, I went to the temple, knowing it would be my last chance before it closed. I am grateful I did and can testify of the blessings one receives and the spirit of the Lord one feels there.

Turns out only myself and Jacob’s roommate Dalon were going, so the male/female ratio was an uneven 3:6. Oh well, right? We hiked Battle Creek Falls in Lindon. It was a lot of fun, and the group had some good cohesion. 

On the picture below, I do love the shade of blue peeking out from behind the clouds. The day stayed overcast, but not chilly. Dillon offered his backyard as a new garden for me, and I was sold, as unlike last week, there would be no threats.

We planted much of the same: Radishes, beets, carrots, lettuce, and LOTS of spinach. I’m looking forward to that. Dillon also got starter potatoes and we planted red and yellow ones. This is the first time I’ve tried that. The pots also have herbs in them.

I still had some seeds left over, so when I got home, I put in a few rows in my backyard. This wasn’t my first option because the way the fences and neighboring houses sit, not to mention the shade from the trees, the sun is scarce in the backyard. So anything that I can harvest will be a bonus.

Sunday at 10, I met Caroline and the bishopric and we worked out a plan to make sure everybody still in town could get the sacrament. For this week, we divided by FHE group, and Bishop and Bro. Salazar made a few trips blessing the sacrament for each group. They will be getting released soon most likely, and it was a special experience to watch that. Truly, if you would lead, serve.

Cousin Kevin, and Cooper both came over for dinner along with Porter and his roommate Peter. It was funny as the last time Kevin came over, which was a few months ago, we had chicken legs, and had them again this time, but not once in between. Scalloped potatoes (lots of ’em) and ice cream rounded out the menu.

We played a quick game of Cataan and Peter played the organ for us. He is classically trained and can play any song you want by ear. It was very impressive and his medleys of two completely different songs that we tossed at him, awed all as well.

We left Kevin and Peter to head over to Tanmarie’s for some brownies and games. Much of the time was spent looking at recently unearthed photos from our time in Texas and Ohio. What a hoot. Then it was “Ticket to Ride: European Edition.” The game lasted until 11:20, much longer than I had anticipated, but well-worth the time. It was a fun night.

I’ll spare most of my thoughts on the Covid-19 pandemic. Everybody is sick of reading about it. Admittedly, I don’t trust much of what is going on and I think a lot of repercussions will be felt much longer than necessary because of how it is being handled here in the United States. Yet, I am very thankful. Two weeks ago, I thought I had bought plane tickets to Europe for my father and I. The high cost triggered a fraud warning from my bank and the purchase didn’t go through before the sale ended and prices were more than doubled. At the time, this was frustrating, but now I see it as a huge blessing. In January, I felt like I needed to get my food storage together, and by the first week or two of February, felt good about where I was, with 15 months of food storage. In another stroke of good timing, we have 47 rolls of toilet paper. I didn’t need to go to the store for anything except baking soda. And that wasn’t even a necessity, just a desire to replenish my stock of it so I can keep using it in my shampoo. (Like elsewhere, everything is cleared out here. I went Saturday night, and it took me 3 stores before I found some small quantities of it).

There is much to be grateful for, not the least of which is health in general.

I am reminded of the Battle of Kohima, nicknamed Stalingrad of the East, in which combined Indian and British forces outlasted the Japanese siege. It went from April 4th to June 22nd, 1944. There is a monument there, with words credited to the Brit John Maxwell Edmonds. The epitaph reads,

When you go home tell them of us and say: for your tomorrow we gave our today.

On a smaller measure, that is what we are doing now. I have done more than my fair share of grumbling, but making small sacrifices and doing ones part to prevent the spread of the virus, can help someone else have a tomorrow.

 

 

 

March 2-8: Buongiorno Principessa!

Notwithstanding a few hours of turmoil Saturday evening, this has been an amazing week.

WeWork opened another building, right next door to ours, and we were invited to participate in the grand opening on Monday. Similar to when ours opened, there was lots of swag (t-shirts are still hard to pass up) and free food. They had advertised korean bbq, but when I got to the line, I saw that it was self-serve with a bunch of rice and veggies available. And a fried egg. There was no meat! I’m cutting back on meat, so it was ok, but it did seem like false advertising to say come get your bbq, and then walk away with a fried egg. Some of my co-workers were not thrilled to say the least. We had all forgotten that WeWork doesn’t pay for meat to be served. They allow food trucks to sell and companies can cater anything they want, but when WeWork is paying, there will be no meat (for environmental reasons). Here’s the real takeaway: WeWork stood up for their values. And that is always impressive. They don’t do what is convenient and serve meat to help people feel more welcome/comfortable. This was an inspiring example of living at all times what you believe, and made me think of times I focus more on convenience than values.

Later that night, I went to the gym for the traditional post-FHE lift with Dillon and David. And set a record I didn’t see coming. My goal has been 250 for bench press, and I’m happy with that, as I’m just trying to stay fit not be huge or an unnaturally weird looking bodybuilder. This is veggie power we’re talking about, not creatine or protein powder induced strength. Monday though, I benched 265 twice, unassisted, before needing help to finish the 3rd rep. I was ecstatic!

This photo was taken doing deadlifts Friday (always the least busy day), and it serves to show what the gym looks like.

I love Super Tuesday. The excitement over politics runs deep. Watching results trickle in is a blast, but I tried to stay productive, and helped Emma B. with her stake RS meeting prep., and we had our EQ meeting that night as well. Biden swept the night, and it was ridiculous the bias showed by the broadcasters, but I still think Bernie is alive and well. I can’t imagine Biden being able to survive one round of debates with Bernie mano-a-mano. Biden’s looks young but really does seem to have lost his mental acuity.

Wednesday was book club and our discussion of Shakespeare’s Antony and Cleopatra. I hadn’t read this one before, and enjoyed it immensely.

It had been a long day, I didn’t get home until 10, and I decided to cook some rice and prepare for my lunch the next day before going to bed. And I started reading and completely forgot about the rice on the stove. I went to get ready for bed some time later, and the entire house was filled with smoke. I ran to the kitchen, pulled my now blackened pan off the stove and started opening all windows and doors. It was the worst burning I’ve ever done, and needless to say, I ended up having to cook a new batch of rice the next day. Finally, after two days of airing out, the house smelled smoke-free again.

For the second week in a row at institute, we were graced by the presence of James Allen, former assistant church historian. This week, we spent the entire hour doing a Q+A with him, which I loved.

Immediately after, I went with Dillon to visit J. He texted us that morning at 4 am, and was struggling. Thankfully, a good friend was awake and able to go over at that hour, and when I awoke we texted and set up a time to go over at night. We talked for close to an hour, and I left feeling uplifted myself and having learned much from him.

I started reading a novel dealing with life in Parma, Italy, including much about pizza, and by 9pm Thursday night, I said enough is enough, its time for a pizza party! Scheduled to go from 6-7 pm on Friday, (at 7 I was supposed to go to the monthly concert next door), 11 people showed up, we made four pizzas and played a few games until 8:30. This is pizza number 4, with pepperoni, purple onion, spinach, and sauteed radishes. Delicious!

I tried a new veggie type (I hadn’t planned the best, so it was kind of just making do with what I had) that included potato slices, radishes, onion, spinach and tomato slices and it turned out well.

Kobe and Reigen Jensen were two of the people there. They mentioned how they were trying to decide between going to a movie night or a pizookie party. I wished them well, and having missed the concert headed to the gym for a quick workout and content to spend the rest of the night reading. Not 15 minutes later, right when I’m doing deadlifts, and honestly not feeling the energy, Kobe calls. Reigen went to the movie night, and Kobe wanted a wingman for the pizookie party. These are the invites I normally turn down. I wasn’t feeling any desire to talk to more people or have pizookie and ice cream. But, I hadn’t met many new people, thought about my goal to set a new high in my personal wellness stats, and said what the heck, I’m in. I hustled home, quickly showered and changed, before walking a few blocks with Kobe to the apartment that was hosting. The organizer is named Brielle, and she and Kobe were part of a volleyball intramural team in the fall. The invite was unexpected for Kobe, as she had been dating someone then, but apparently broke up with her boyfriend and now, a few months since seeing him, wanted to get to know Kobe better. The party started with a bunch of dumb games (to each his own, but I thought the games weren’t interesting or useful at all), and most people there were with a significant other. We got there on time, and there was a group of 8-10. It started at 9:30, and about 10, hordes started showing up, and I’d guess there was 25-30 people all talking in this small apartment. It was exactly the situation I’d dreaded. I saw one lady I wanted to talk to, and as luck would have it, she ended up a few feet away. For a time, both of us mostly just sat watching the chaos and eating our pizookies. Finally, I thought, she is the one in the room I do want to talk to, and it just takes a little courage. And it was wonderful! Our conversation couldn’t have been more perfect. We talked for 10-15 minutes, and I thought that was enough to see if she would be interested in going out, and then I could get the heck out of Dodge. S.P. served in Cape Verde so we both speak Portuguese, and she is currently a teacher in the MTC. She is a junior, majoring in English Education and minoring in History. I thought, 10 more seconds of courage is all it takes, and sure enough, it looks like I will be seeing her again! At 8:45, I was at the gym without energy. At 10:45, I was running around the neighborhood, stoked, trying to burn off some energy so I could sleep.

Saturday morning, Cooper and I were unable to get a tennis court, so I dropped him back off at his apartment, that plan shot, and after quickly doing some shopping, went into my backyard, sat in a camping chair and read while enjoying a smoothie and breakfast croissant. The trees were gently blowing and creaking above me and most of the world seemed asleep still. It was a beautiful time!

At 2, I met with M. B., my next door neighbor. Last year in the fall, we had talked about gardening and she offered her yard if I wanted to use it. Her family owns the house and had rented it out in the past. A previous tenant gardened until leaving one year ago. The before photo:

We spent a few hours working the soil and digging up the weeds. The previous tenant composted a lot, and the soil was wonderful. My shovel went 18 inches deep and it was all pure soil that turned over easy. I ran over to Home Depot and purchased some seeds, and we planted four rows of spinach, three rows of lettuce, three of beets, three of onions, three of carrots, and two rows of radishes in the two plots on the right hand side. In the back along a cast iron fence, we planted two long rows of peas and one of broccoli. I felt so good, and loved every second tilling the ground and pulling weeds and getting dirt under my fingernails. At 4:45ish, we called it a day, and I returned next door to my house. The after photo:

At 5:30, M. B. came over, sobbing. I had been with my roommate in the kitchen, and when I opened the front door, she just immediately unloaded. My roommate was still in the kitchen listening, as surprised as I was. One thing I found out was that her ex-boyfriend knew I had been over, (I had no idea this was a problem) and had sent me a message on facebook messenger, and she was so sorry he did that. For purposes of confidentiality, and to keep this short, I’ll wrap this up quick. Here is the message I received:

“Stay the &*^&*&^#& away from my girlfriend!

(her name)

I don’t care if she told you, you could use her garden, you go back there again or so much as look at her again you and I are going to have a problem.”

After discussion yesterday, and further discussion today with pertinent trusted adults, I’m submitting a police report, and that’s the end of my involvement. I am perfectly safe, and am going to abandon my investment in the garden. That’s finished for me. A lot of the story is left out, but hopefully that is sufficient to understand the gist. Who knew trying to grow some radishes would lead to this!

 

 

 

 

 

Feb. 24-March 1: Do you remember when we met?

The week started off incredibly. At 4:30 pm on Monday, M. came to my work and picked me up in her fire-red toyota. This was our first time seeing each other in 5 years. As freshman, in 2014-2015, we had worked together, shared many similar interests, and gone on one date to see the Count of Monte Cristo performed as a musical (quite good for the record). Soon after, I left for Texas and then on my mission. She stayed at school longer, and then went to Argentina for her mission. We hadn’t even spoken at all until a few months ago when we communicated briefly over facebook. So I was quite surprised to receive a message inviting me to go with her to salt Lake City for a law school event. M. also applied to BYU Law School and has been accepted already. This event was to wine and dine those students who have been accepted but haven’t committed. And we were schmoozed alright. After a little trouble finding some parking, we made it to the Federal Courthouse in downtown Salt Lake, where a judge and BYU law alum, gave us a behind the scenes tour of the building and talked to us about how awesome BYU is and what at he does as a judge. He was part of BYU’s first class in the 1970’s, and h e showed a perfect mix of humor and humility. We then strolled across the street to a restaurant called, Caffé Molise, to enjoy a splendid four course Italian meal. The goat cheese appetizer had me swooning, but the rest of the fare was noting to write home about. (literally). Nevertheless, if the food was blander than I expected after tasting the appetizer, (which will inspire culinary adventures for weeks to come) the conversation was anything but, and I thoroughly enjoyed the time we were there. M. also coaxed the Dean of admissions, Dean Stewart into sitting next to us, and while it wasn’t the reason I went, I do think by the end of the night, Dean Stewart would remember my name and I had left a favorable impression. Which, given the uncertainty of my application, could be a huge blessing. Thank you M. And if the night could somehow be any better, the drive back was just that. This is one of only two dates I think I’ve ever been on, where I genuinely felt uplifted and wanting to be a better person. It was a great feeling, and even though our time lasted 5 hours together, I could have stayed longer. It was a truly fantastic night. M. talked about her family in a very touching manner, but also shared how sitting in class a few weeks ago, she had received the invite to the event, and hadn’t planned on going. But, my name popped into her head and she felt like she needed to invite me. I am both honored, and very grateful that she did.

I just wish that we had taken a picture to remember the night better. In my defense, we were asked to leave our cellphones behind as were in the presence of confidential documents while touring the judges chambers in the courthouse.

Tuesday couldn’t compete with Monday’s adventures, but it was a solid day by any standard. Work was very productive, and our EQ meeting was both that and a blast. I also snuck in the last debate before Super Tuesday. I’ve joked for years now about Bernie Sanders, but seeing him so close is scary and not funny at all anymore. I can’t believe he has gotten so much support. I’ve admired his passion and sincerity, but am past that now. He aims to fundamentally change what it means to be American.

On gratitude: Thursday, I was sitting on the balcony eating my lunch and I realized that I had eaten a lot of fruit that day. breakfast was brought into the office and included raspberries and blueberries. I snacked on an apple, and at lunch had a peach, nectarine, orange, and plum. I reflected back to a biographer about Horatio Nelson (disclaimer: I believe it was him, it might have been about someone else, but it was definitely a British kid around the turn of the 19th century) who 200 years ago was overjoyed to receive an orange. For Christmas. Even 200 years ago, oranges were considered exotic and the household economy was such that an orange made a worthwhile gift. It’s amazing how blessed we are. I eat a couple of oranges a week and never pause to even think about it.

Thursday was also institute. We had a visitor, James Allen, who was assistant church historian, and has written several books. He talked about why history is important, what the church historian does, and some of his experiences over the years. He is 92 years old, and in the 1950’s worked at the institute at USC in California. The stake president at the time was Howard W. Hunter, my namesake. I think this is the first time I have talked with someone who knew President Hunter to the degree that James Allen did. It made the night extra special and I had to get a picture to memorialize.

Last week, I met with Mark “America” Smith. I had offered to help him collect signatures so he can be put on the ballot for governor. He works only one floor up from me, and when I met him to pick up clipboards and forms, he gifted me a brand new suit. The next day, he informed me that he doesn’t need any help anymore, but I’ve been impressed so far with nearly all of his platform and he took the time to explain some points that we disagreed on. And I like the suit.

Here I am leaving the temple on Saturday. It’s a nice dark blue color, and fits perfect. Mark somehow got the right size without even asking. This was a ward temple trip, and it was good to be with friends standing on holy ground.

Sunday was stake conference, and thus a very busy day. It started off with a leadership session from 9:30-11:30 am. After a quick dash home for a snack, I did a ministering interview with the Jensen brothers, and headed to the general session, from 1-3 pm held in the Wilk Ballroom. Attendance for the stake was 60ish%, at about 1100 people. I met Bro. Ken Wade, a member of the Bishopric of the 91st ward, and for some reason he took an immediate liking and started trying to set me up with all these people in his ward. I asked out one of the choir members, but alas, that was not to be. He introduced me to some other ladies, and we’ll see what happens. Our ward held a munch and mingle from 3:15-4, and then it was back home, accompanied by David Kaiser. We threw together a shepherds pie, and were then joined by Porter and Cooper. This time Cooper won Settlers of Cataan, albeit a shortened version, as David and I were off to the adult stake conference session from 6-8. (attendance for this session was at about 25%) I said the opening prayer, and then sat back and took in the good word, which leads to the good life. One of my key takeaways came from the stake president who said that he has realized, every time something bad or just not what we want happens, its because Heavenly Father is preparing us to serve someone down the road. We need these experiences to be understanding and empathetic, or just to know how to help. I reflected on such times in my life, and have to agree.

3rd Nephi 18:17-21- growing up in a culture of prayer.

This week, I finished reading Clayton Christensen’s book, How Will You Measure Your Life. The idea of living more intentionally and with written down goals has been something I’ve worked on this year, and this book strengthened a lot of those desires. Here is a quote I liked from Edgar Schein that was in the book:

culture is a way of working together toward common goals that have been followed so frequently and so successfully that people don’t even think about trying to do things another way. If a culture has formed, people will autonomously do what they need to do to be successful. 

This doesn’t apply to a culture in a country, or a business. It applies to all culture, such as the culture of a family.

I am blessed to have been raised in a culture of prayer. I can remember many times walking into a room at night to find my parents praying. 3rd Nephi 18:17-21 admonishes:

17 And it came to pass that when Jesus had spoken these words unto his disciples, he turned again unto the multitude and said unto them:

18 Behold, verily, verily, I say unto you, ye must watch and pray always lest ye enter into temptation; for Satan desireth to have you, that he may sift you as wheat.

19 Therefore ye must always pray unto the Father in my name;

20 And whatsoever ye shall ask the Father in my name, which is right, believing that ye shall receive, behold it shall be given unto you.

21 Pray in your families unto the Father, always in my name, that your wives and your children may be blessed.”

I know that we have a loving Heavenly Father, and he wants to hear from us. I have had so many prayers answered, and I know that as we pray to God, we will have greater strength to resist temptation and greater understanding as to what we should do in our lives.

 

Feb. 17-23: La Vita è Bella,

Reading Into Thin Air, I learned two new words to be employed at a scrabble game coming soon. Cwm, and nak. Cwm, pronounced koom, is a welsh-term meaning valley, and has been adopted by climbers internationally. Nak is a female yak. I’m ready to play!

This week, everything has pointed towards consecration.

Tuesday, I left work and went to Buffalo Wild Wings. There, I met up with Kevin, a roommate from my freshman year. We ate some wings and caught up. It’s impossible to stay uber-close, but its good to stay in touch with friends. Kevin moved back from California a few months ago, and I enjoyed our time at the restaurant.

Wednesday was a busy day. That night, I was invited to attend a talk by Sharon Eubank, the democratic debate was happening, book club was going on, and the church released its new handbook which I really wanted to read. I missed Sis. Eubanks talk, but staying up later than normal, managed to squeeze the rest in.

Thursday I went to Institute. This was right after going to the gym so David Kaiser went with me. The class was good, and we socialized a bit afterward. What was really touching was what happened after that.

Last week, a woman came up to me and asked me for a ride. She looked kind of homeless, was missing most of her teeth and couldn’t really look you in the eyes. I said yes, I’d be happy to, but it would be 10 minutes as the Lambert’s were playing an audio clip from Pres. Eyring’s funeral address for Clayton Christensen.
She said ok, no problem, and said she’d wait outside the classroom and eat the snacks brought to institute. After the 10 minutes, I left and couldn’t find her. I walked all around the church building twice before finally giving up and going home.
When I saw her this week, I offered to give her a ride for which she was most grateful. David came with me, and we drove her up to the Provo Temple.
In some ways, not everything is right. She has some disorder. Yet, in the most important ways, everything is right. I felt sanctified being with her, as she continually shared her testimony. The church is her life. She hails from Tonga, and has been in the US for 8 years. Her parents both are dead now, and she has been working in the Salt Lake Temple as a cleaner. When the temple closed, she was out of a job, and moved down to Orem and cleans the Provo temple nightly, Monday-Saturday. She was so gracious and thankful and continually wished us the best and blessings for helping her. Little does she know, I was so truly blessed to meet her and listen to her and see her dedication to the Lord.
Friday, I left work and the sun was shining, and as often happens in situations like these, I ended up missing my exit and driving straight to the golf course. It’s still being renovated, but I enjoyed putting and being outside.

 

Saturday I had a date with Emma. She came over at 6 and together we made dinner together. We made rice, rolls, squash, and tried a new recipe that was bubbling around in my brain. It was peaches lightly sauteed with beet tops. We mixed it in with the rice, and it was delicious! Much better than I expected. We talked non-stop and it was a really fun time. The date would have lasted longer, but at 8:15, I walked her home as some ward members were coming over for Movie Night 2.0. We had some peaches, some ice cream, shed some tears, shared many laughs, and just had a good time while watching “La Vita é Bella.” (Life is Beautiful). A truly great movie. It was in Italian, subtitled in english. It’s a love story told in the shadow of the Holocaust and the main character illustrates what consecration to family looks like.

Porter and Cooper made it over for a pot roast that lives in dreams, and Porter again left as victor, beating us in Settler’s of Cataan.

I gave a talk on Sunday, and told 5 stories to help convey my message on consecration. First, I talked about backing up and crashing into another car while on my date December 8th, and heading up to the Christmas Devotional. The takeaway: I was distracted by the little things, causing me to miss what really mattered.

Second, I recounted a bit on the Alamo. Sunday was February 23rd, and it marked 184 years, going back to the year 1836, when Santa Ana had his troops surround the Alamo and begin a 13-day siege that ended with all of the defenders dead. Among them was George Washington Cottle. At the time, he was 24 (my age now) and was married. His wife was pregnant, and after his death, would eventually give birth to twins. He was given the option along with all others in the Alamo to surrender and leave alive. He chose to stay and fight, knowing that he would almost certainly die and never see his wife again. Yet, there are some things that are worth fighting for and dying for. I don’t think we can fully live until we decide what we are willing to die for. George Washington Cottle is an example of consecration to me.

Third, I told of how Clayton Christensen didn’t play in the championship game for his basketball team while at Oxford: It’s easier to be 100% committed to principles than 98%, as life is a series of extenuating circumstances that will constantly try our resolve to stay true.

Fourth, I told of another Clayton Christensen story, talking about how he spent an hour nightly reading scriptures and praying over every single page. That sacrifice of time seemed like a significant and untenable amount as he was studying full-time in a demanding program and had many demands socially on his limited free-time. Yet, Clay would say that he now uses advanced econometrics maybe once a year, but he uses the testimony he gained during that time, many times every single day. Every day we are investing our time, and investments in Christ and his Gospel will bring much more happiness now and down the road.

Finally, I talked about a lesson that struck me from reading Into Thin Air. The book tells the true story of the Everest Disaster of 1996. In short, before making the final push to the summit, the guides had the climbers promise to turn around when the guides said to. At 1 pm, they should be going back down, to make sure that they would return to camp before nightfall, when the temperatures dropped dangerously low, and the oxygen canisters would be empty. If someone was close to the summit, they could continue on, but at 2 pm, doesn’t matter if you are 50 ft from the top, you MUST turn around and go back. On the final day, some people stayed late, pushing towards the top until 3 pm. They caught “summit fever,” making previously unthinkable decisions in an attempt to reach the top and satisfy their desire. So it is with us. We often say we’ll do something, but if a better-looking option comes along, we’ll drop our previous commitment and go off after our desires. For me personally, this happens a lot at night, when I need to study something or visit someone, and instead I think “I’m worn out, I’ll read something easy for now, and I can always visit them tomorrow.” Or, I’ll open my computer to do family history, and instead spend an hour playing chess online. The problem is, tomorrow didn’t come for most of the climbers who stayed out too late. 8 died that night, their bodies being added to the collection already on the mountain, of those who didn’t do what needed to be done.

The invitation I left for my ward, and the one I’ll leave here, is to change one thing to be more fully consecrated to Jesus Christ. And once you decide that one thing, commit to it like you are on Mt. Everest, and your life depends on it.

The consecrated life is a beautiful life.