Alas, its come to this now. I’ll have to fill it in from my notes later.
This post covers July 29th – August 4th. Disclaimer: It’s been one of the most influential weeks in my life.
Monday I made my second trip to Orange, CA. Thankfully, the flight left at 8:32 this time, and I had plenty of time to sleep and make it to the airport. And good thing, because I was stopped by security (my scriptures are always the culprit, the gold tinted paper and the density sets the alarms off rather frequently,) and then I WENT TO THE WRONG GATE. In a different terminal. It took me a bit to arrive, the whole time I was questioning why it would be in the other terminal, and sure enough, it was a different flight, albeit same airline, and then I had to run back to the right gate. I was huffing and puffing, and had the dubious distinction of hearing, “last call for flight 1749 to John Wayne Airport…We are looking for passenger Shanerk.” That name made me smile and chug the legs faster, and I made it onboard. The flight was uneventful, on a Boeing 717, which felt much more crowded than a 737 and I didn’t sleep much.
We arrived to a delicious breakfast, and once again I knew the pounds would be trying to come on. Lunch was catered, and frozen yogurt followed an hour later. In between the meals we heard from the c-suite execs and founders on their business history and where they see ListReports heading in the future. We finished around 5:30 and I crashed at the hotel for a little HGTV and laying on the bed doing nothing. Rested, I headed out and went walking to check out a couple restaurants. I made it to the first one, Lucille’s Southern BBQ, and my nose told me this is the place. Placing an order, I walked to the nearby Crystal Cathedral and explored in reverent awe.
The main cathedral was closed for an organ renovation and the secondary area closed at 5 pm (holding a life sized replica, scanned digitally and replicated of the Sistine Chapel’s ceiling,) but the grounds were beautiful, and the cemetery extensive and hallowed.
I enjoyed my time there and then went back to pick up my tri-tip sandwich, beans, biscuits, and fries. So, so good.
Tuesday started off much the same, with breakfast provided once more. I erred, mistaking a cheddar and jalapeno bagel for an asiago. For lunch I returned to the Taco Shack for a California Burrito, and then had two hours to work. At three we did a sales team outing. Originally scheduled to be an Angels game, that changed to something sinister. We boarded a “party bus,” previously unknown and unheard of to me. Music was blaring, lights flashing, and there was a pole in the middle. Thankfully no one was onboard but the sales team. Nevertheless, the alcohol was flowing, and the 35 minute trip to Long Beach left my ears ringing. We arrived to take duffy boats out into the bay and canal and cruise around for an hour. That was enjoyable and the houses along our route were stunning. We exited to eat at a restaurant close-by and lets just say that the food wasn’t appealing unless you were hammered already. (Quite a few were.) We left that and rode the party bus back to our office and then hotel. The bus alone cost close to $1,000. Crazy. I am glad that my co-workers were very respectful of our decision not to drink. My testimony was strengthened as I sang to myself hymns and left the bus peaceful, with no expletive-laced music in my mind.
Wednesday is our weekly company meeting and it meant another delicious catered breakfast. Its from the same place every time and I can’t get enough of the hashbrowns and sweet potato pancakes. Sandwiched in-between work, I left to go to lunch with a co-worker, Denise, who heads our 100 person support team in the Phillipines. I enjoyed hearing adventurous outsourcing stories. We ate at Urth, which has an organic, hippie vibe. And delicious Reuben sandwiches. We worked until 3, when a company party started. We were celebrating Team Utah in California. They had the most delicious Thai food, and I ate all that I could before returning to the restaurant. The night before I had missed the presidential debate, and was glad to catch 90% of this one. It did not disappoint, and I am already excited for the next one. So far I am most impressed by Elizabeth Warren and Tulsi Gabbard. And Bernie Sanders, which goes without saying. His energy is contagious, alas his sincerity and belief in his plans is not.
Cousin Michael picked me up and we went to the mall for some Panda Express. It was great catching up, as this was the first time in 5 years since I’ve seen him. I t is great to see him doing well.
Thursday was my last chance to eat the free hotel breakfast, but I woke up not feeling hungry, not surprisingly. For lunch I ventured into the unknown and ate at a cuban restaurant, Felix’s, which exceeded my every expectation. I will be eating there at every return trip.
We finally had a full work day, and we left at 5 for the airport. Before our plane departed at 6:40, the exclamation point to the trip was put on by my first visit to California Pizza Kitchen. I slept well on the plane (which means a successful flight) and returned home without incident.
Friday it was back to the office, which ended up being a fantastically productive day, and we all left early. I bit the bullet, taking the van for an emissions test, step one on the road to Utah registration. The rest of the evening saw me go for a run, and workout, trying to start burning all these calories from the trip. I also hung up my Boston temple picture, and LOVE IT!
One co-worker in California asked me how I have energy if I don’t drink coffee, or energy drinks. I couldn’t help but laugh and responded that I try to go to bed at a decent hour, eat well and exercise. The amount of stimulants in the world is amazing. Besides the aforementioned drinks, there’s pills and powders. And music. It is nearly impossible to find somewhere that is quiet. Restaurants, gyms, workplaces almost always have music on. The comparison is easily drawn to the old slave ships, (think Ben-Hur) where the slaves rowed and a coxswain like person pounds the beat out. That is what much of the music has devolved to, with a constant beat designed to stimulate us and keep us going. Not thinking, but going.
Saturday morning I awoke early for a return trip to the gym, then went with William Gentry to Hruska’s, where we ate a few kolaches preparing for our evening visit to Pioneer Book. I took off from there to President Young’s, where he talked about his desire to become a garlic farmer, and I delivered another key lime pie and chocolate cream pie. Then it was to Oquirrh Mountain Temple, my first time visiting there. I quickly ate lunch, and picked up William to head to Pioneer book. With the purchase of a kolache, Pioneer Book gives you a buy one get one free. And William had two coupons, so we each picked up two books, and no one had to pay. It was very kind of him to think of me and share his coupons. Finally, John Carlson was waiting for me upon my return and we played three games of chess, remembered the good times, and caught up on what has been going on with us.
Now, to the really important parts. I’ve decided to go to Law School. A few events happened this week where I realized that I needed to do this. First, on Wednesday I watched the Democratic Presidential Debate. I realized that I couldn’t articulate positions as well as the candidates could on many issues, and nearly all have them earned J.D.’s. I couldn’t understand the nuances of the law that formed the foundation of their positions.
Second, while in California I read “To Draw Closer to God,” by Henry B. Eyring. He quotes Pres. Faust as paraphrasing a Sesame Street episode in which Cookie Monster has the option to receive for free a house in one month, a car in one week, or a cookie right then. Of course, Cookie Monster chooses the cookie. The original point was about chastity, but when I read the chapter, I knew that some of the decisions I was making were in order to secure immediate satisfaction and ease, instead of setting myself up later with things of greater value.
I realized that I’ve been going after money. Not necessarily in the easier to identify, “let’s get rich” view, but in perhaps the more pernicious “let’s avoid financial hardships”. Of course, that really means let’s forgo a little pain and stretching and let’s miss out on the bigger, more important rewards later.
To paraphrase something I read recently, John was exiled, Paul was jailed, Jesus crucified. Why do we assume God’s will for us is to have a great job, a happy life, and a large bank account? I’m comfortable where I am, but I know its not the place for me.
So, I shan’t be afraid of struggle. The end is worth the journey. Per Pres. Oaks, (another J.D.,) “The acquisition of knowledge is a sacred activity.”
Finally, I talked with Pres. Young on Saturday and he agreed that this was a good decision. Everyone I’ve talked to has said something along the lines of “I can that” or “You’d be really good at that.” I think this career choice best aligns my natural talents and provides me the best opportunity to reach my potential and help others for good.
The last experience I’d like to share was special, and I’ll include only part of it here.
I’ve mentioned Pres. Ballard’s quote before, that no other joy compares to the happiness that we experience when we are engaged in the service of our God. Reflecting on that statement, I committed to doing better, and wondered what I could do here in Provo.
And then, I caught a vision of myself in 25 years, sending my children off to Utah for school. I saw myself wondering what would happen, if they would stay on the path, if they would have good friends. I was worried. And fell to my knees, pouring out my soul to our heavenly Father, pleading for his help that they would make good choices and be ok. And at that moment, I was comforted by the thought that there would be other students to help them. To love them, and to serve them.
The biggest takeaway was right now, I need to be one of those “other students.” Right now, there are parents and friends on their knees, pleading with all the fervor of their souls that their loved ones will be ok. We have the amazing privilege, and responsibility to help with that.
“Death is not the end; it is putting out the candle because the dawn has come.” Thus spake Pres. Hugh B. Brown. And thus echo I.
Upon returning to Utah, I took the train down to Lehi and Kimball picked me up. We made it to my van, grabbed some grub at Costa Vida, and then headed to Riverton for the funeral of Lawson’s father, Dan Lighten. I am so thankful I could go. I left tearful, yet very inspired and uplifted. Lawson did a fantastic job, and I felt proud to know him. It’s crazy to think that only two weeks before I had seen Dan, and never would have guessed that his time on earth was almost done. Since late 2018, the family has known the time was near. So many of those we pass are struggling with things we can’t imagine, and yet never complain or make a scene. I pray that the Lighten family will be comforted during this time.
Returning to Provo after, I had half an hour to get ready and then picked up my date, Kathryn, to head to the Pioneer Day concert. My roommate Tyler and his girlfriend Cat joined us. We made it to the Conference Center just barely before the start (I may or may not have driven down the wrong side of a road attempting to find the parking garage…). The concert featured the Norwegian singer, Sissel, and she was fantastic! Elegant, genuine, and powerful. Some of the songs were in norweigan, and the program also featured a medley of old railroad songs. My favorite was “How Great Thou Art,” sung in both english and norwegian. It was a fantastic date, and we seemed to get along fantastically. She is one of thirteen children, and grew up on a small farm in Orem. Recently graduated in Global Supply Chain management and working as a consultant, she actually served in the Tempe Mission at the same time as me, but our paths never crossed.
Sunday I invited a few friends over, grilled some steaks (poorly this time) and made rice and beans. Colored by a “vinagarette” salad, and spiced up with some farofa, it was a good Brazilian meal. Between lots of trips, this was my quiet week.
Tuesday saw the return of our Come Follow Me group. We had a good turnout, joined for the first time by another ward member, Tammy, and great insightful discussion.
I was pleasantly surprised to receive a text from Pres. Young asking if he could buy two pies. I made them Saturday morning and then Kimball and I drove to drop them off. It was a brief hello, and then we headed over to the oldest remaining golf course in Utah, Nibley Park, which was nearby. The land had been donated in the 1920’s with the condition that it stay a golf course, or be returned to the family. The city has grown much since then, and now the course is an urban oasis, surrounded by multi-lane roads on all sides. Nevertheless, heavily wooded, it feels completely different. It has remained very characteristic of the era it was built with raised greens sloping off on all sides. And being in the city, it is impossible to lengthen it anymore, so many of the holes only played to 300-350 yards. Which meant I could drive a couple, which is always fun. The weather was perfect, and we had a great time.
For the fourth Sunday, the Elders Quorum Presidency taught during the second hour of church. We split into three groups, and Jacob, Dillon, and I each led discussions for one of the three groups. The conference talk we studied for the week was Elder Quentin Cook’s, “Great Love for Our Father’s Children.” In our group, we ended up focusing on some verses in 1 John. One of these was 1 John 4:18-21:
“There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love.We love him him, because he first loved us. If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen? And this commandment have we from him, That he who loveth God loveth his brother also.”
And now my all-time favorite line from a movie:
“The only way to be happy is to love. Unless you love, your life will flash by.”
Love is the key. I know that if we ask for the gift of charity and earnestly seek to develop it, God will bless us with it. And if we serve our fellow men, we will one day stand before God, see his face, and be able to say that we love Him.
My flight arrived at DFW a little early, and I waited for a time before Dad and Porter picked me up. I should note, it was a miracle how perfect the schedule worked out. When I bought my ticket, I had just started at BambooHR. I decided to book the trip from Friday to the following Saturday, without really having any reason. Porter arrived on Thursday, and I did want to see that, but this felt right. Fast forward some weeks, and I am hired at ListReports, have the aforementioned trip to California….from Monday to Thursday. It would have been difficult to skip the first part of training, so the departure Friday was ideal. God is in the details.
Two years passes by so quick; I couldn’t believe Porter was back, and I couldn’t believe that I was approaching (at the end of the month) my two year mark of being back in the states.
It doesn’t matter how long I’ve been gone, as soon as I’m with family, I feel at home. And it feels good. I hadn’t been back since Christmas, and although Dad and Breyer came out to graduation, it was a LONG time since I’d seen everyone else.
Much has already been written by other family members, and too much happened to do justice without writing page upon page, so I shall touch on only a few happenings.
First, Sunday was Breyer’s baptism. Ordinances are so important. We need the gospel of Jesus Christ. We need baptism. Truly, “except a man be born of water and of the spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.” (John 3:5). I was asked by her to speak briefly on baptism, and I reminisced on my own baptism, which occurred nearly 16 years to the day. I don’t remember everything, and at that age I did not fully comprehend the significance of the event. Above all else, I do remember, distinctly, the feeling of being clean, and wanting to be perfect from that time on. Breyer’s was the first baptism since my mission, and it was a day I shall not forget. A bonus was hearing Porter give his homecoming talk during Sacrament Meeting.
It was great to have the Bach’s there; they always bring so much happiness. We played our traditional game of Rancid Tarantula. A decade in, the rule book we have created rivals the US Tax Code in length, but like Uncle Sam, I keep coming out on top.
Sunday night, before their departure early. early Monday morning, Bro. Bach realized his wallet was missing. While handy to have, this was essential as he needed the ID to board the plane back to Massachusetts. He remembered having it after church when we were home, so we tore apart the house looking in every imaginable place. The search started close to midnight, and about 12:40 I asked that we gather and pray. I prayed, and felt certain, completely certain that we would find the wallet. We looked for a little longer, but to no avail and called it a night. I still felt certain, and was glad to see upon awakening, a note left from Bro. Bach indicating that he looked in his suitcase once more, and although he had looked in the very pocket a few times before, his wallet was there. I testify that God does answer prayers.
Third, on Monday I took Sawyer and Miller golfing. This has likewise become a tradition. We wanted to try a new course and went to Sugar Tree Golf Course in Lipan, Texas. The course was beautiful! We arrived at 3:30 pm and played 18 holes in the hot, hot sun. I drank 160 ounces of water, 10 full water bottles. We had a great time. It was a hard course, and we saw some great shots, over water, out of the sand, etc. On 18, Miller Happy Gilmore’d his drive 270 and then hit his next one thin, saw it skip once on the water and land on the other side. His arms raised in both jubilation and disbelief, we were all glad we could spend the time together.
We did a bro’s trip to Tyler, with everyone but Tanner going to see the Merritt’s. We played lots of games, ate lots of food, and spent so much time in the pool. We all came back with varying degreees of sunburn, but nary a frown. I even escaped losing to Aunt Janel in ping-pong. Only due to running out of time and not playing before we left though.
Friday, the family was all together. The Friday before, Mom had surgery, and of course it takes more than surgery to replace the meniscus to keep her down, but it was nice to see her doing so much better and much more mobile.
That night, we went to a Cleburne Railroaders game. Miller’s team was being recognized, and he was memorably introduced as “Miller Schenewark, extra hitter” as his position, while walking out onto the field. We were the first fans to arrive, and had time before the gates opened to walk around the field behind the stands and find lots of home run balls. The game was entertaining, and the night capped off with a firework show.
My trip was wonderful. I know, without a doubt, that “The family is ordained of God. Marriage between man and woman is essential to His eternal plan…Happiness in family life is most likely to be achieved when founded upon the teachings of the Lord Jesus Christ. Successful marriages and families are established and maintained on principles of faith, prayer, repentance, forgiveness, respect, love, compassion, work, and wholesome recreational activities.” (The Family: A Proclamation to the World).
I am thankful for parents who have taught me by example and who have always placed family, and especially their children, above any worldly considerations.
The start was admittedly not fun. Our plane left at 6 am, which meant waking up at 3:30. Some day I’m going to start packing before 11 pm, but not this time. I do love driving so early and seeing a state asleep, with everything yet to start for the day.
We arrived in LAX at 7:30ish, and one of my travel companions, Glenn, rented a car, and I joined him and Angel and we were off to the office. Or to battle the infamous traffic. We were welcomed to a delicious breakfast, and I soon realized that I am blessed to be working for a company whose founders are undeniably foodies.
Lunch was at the Taco Shack, and I ate a nice California burrito. The day was filled with onboarding tasks so lets get back to the good stuff: the food. Dinner was on our own, and we met up with our Utah manager, Ben, for dinner at the hotel’s restaurant where I tried the cheesesteak.
Because of my early departure and lackadaisical regard to bedtime during the fourth weekend, my head was pounding and despite taking tylenol, the pain wasn’t subsiding much. It was early to bed, and prayers for a quick recovery.
Thankfully that did materialize and my head felt a lot better Tuesday.
Food, food, a little work, more food. That sums up the week basically. I enjoyed hearing more of the company vision, and meeting my co-workers. The next few months here will be a lot of fun as we expand rapidly. They recently raised $15 million in an effort to make a big push these next few months.
Additionally, I was able to catch up on my sleep, read, write and in general live quite scrumptiously. It was a good change of pace to have a king sized bed, no roommates, no distractions, basically no expenditures on my time besides the whole 8-5 part.
Wednesday night, Aunt Janeen and Sam came down from Long Beach and I spent the evening with them. This was my favorite part of the trip, and I appreciate their efforts to come down and see me. We had a good time at Wahoo’s fish tacos and talking about everything that is happening in our lives and in the lives of those we love. Alas, I failed to take a picture to help record this memory.
Our flight left at 7:50 pm Thursday and we arrived in Utah about 10:30. Turns out the highway was down to one lane, so the anticipated 45 minute drive took almost two hours. Knowing I’d be leaving for Texas in hours, I didn’t unpack, deciding to leave my dirty clothes in my suitcase and take the same things with me.
I made it to work Friday morning and then headed with Ben to help run a booth at a little car show that was happening nearby. Our company had reserved a spot for this, so Ben and I went and set up some horseshoes and handed out drinks to realtors and loan officers and played against them while talking about ListReports. Finally, at 3:45, I was headed out of Utah. This was later than I had intended, so it was Lyft to the rescue, with me leaving my car in the work parking lot.
My Lyft driver to the airport had moved to the US from Brasil only two years before and we talked in Portuguese the entire trip. I let him know that my brother had in fact just returned the day before from Campinas. To be continued….
Monday morning started my first day on the job at ListReports. This is the most committed I’ve ever been to a company, and I am going to work hard to make this the start of a career. There is a great opportunity to grow, and to put myself in a good spot financially. Monday we did a little bit of training and moved to our new office, a WeWork spot that just opened up. It is fantastic! Tuesday and Wednesday were much of the same, with everyone acclimating themselves to the new situation. I am joined in the office by manager Ben, and coworkers Adam Fox, Jake Mangum, Angel Lentini, Glenn Daniels, and Miller McMillen.
Monday night for FHE we had a really fun activity where we divided into groups and played “Bigger and Better.” The game is simple: each group starts with a quarter and we go around the neighborhood bartering our way up. We had 75 minutes before we had to return and show the goods. I was skeptical at first – who would really care about helping a bunch of young adults with this on a Monday evening? Nevertheless, our group proceeded and I was shocked by the outcome. Disclaimer, nearly everyone we met knew the game. It’s apparently a Utah tradition, and one person we met even confessed to having played it only the week before. After five trades, we ended with a queen-sized air mattress. Not bad! In an effort to secure the victory, tainted that it may be, one of our group members called an aunt, and we swung by and borrowed her shop vac. Cool activity, I’d do it again.
After the official ending, Jacob West and I hung out on the lawn and had some deep conversations. He’s such a good guy, and I’m lucky to know him.
Tuesday was our come follow me discussion, and Brielle brought over delicious apple muffins for us and everyone had great insights. I especially appreciated this thought: Acts 3:1-8 relates how Peter healed a man lame from birth. Its already a great story, but a new meaning was added with a closer look at verse 2. That reads, “And a certain man lame from his mother’s womb was carried, whom they laid daily at the gate of the temple which is called Beautiful, to ask alms of them that entered into the temple.” If he had been at the temple everyday, then he doubtless would have seen Jesus, and Christ probably had seen him. Yet, he wasn’t healed until Peter performed this miracle. Likewise, we might be waiting for a wound to heal or a trial to end, perhaps even something that feels like its been going on since birth. We must trust in God’s timing for us, and eventually we will be healed, experiencing the miracle that we need, and allowing us to leap up and praise God (vs. 8) as did this man.
Wednesday night after work my birthday celebration started, and that night I reached a new high for in chess, a 1787 rating, and successfully benchpressed 225 twice. For my birthday, I had turned down a couple 4th of July celebrations, instead planning to go to the mountains and enjoy a day of solitude meditating on where I am in life. And I did. It was wonderful! I spent the morning on Y mountain, looking down on the valley below and painting watercolors. Around noon people started to reserve their spot for fireworks, and I hightailed it out of there, returning home for lunch, and then going off to the MTC lawn to read. That lawn too filled up, at about 7 so I left, feeling good about where I am in life, and rejuvenated. Returning home for dinner, and watching a few fireworks before calling it a night. Or trying to. There was a lot of festivities going on, so I put on a movie and watched “Wonder,” which was heartwarming. What a wonderful day!
Friday the fifth we also had work off, and I went to Draper to play golf with Mark. He wanted to pay as a birthday present, and we had a great time playing nine at South Mountain.
Next week I’m in California, and then heading to Texas (July 12th) to see my family. The Book of Job records our time in premortality,
“when the morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy”
Yet, I have to wonder, did we know how wonderful this life truly would be? I think not.
There is truly so much to be grateful for. Life keeps getting better and better.
I have to echo President Ballard, “Nothing brings more joy in this life than in being involved in the work of God.”
That work is encapsulated by two things:
-serving our fellow men and bringing them to Christ
-and spending time with family, working towards creating an eternal unit.
May we do both is my hope, and I know we will have an unprecedented outpouring of happiness and contentment.
Talking with my family, I mentioned how this week (June 23-30) has been great, and I don’t think I’ve done a single crazy thing. Of course, I was second guessed, and I admit I did quit my job, smoke 15 racks of ribs, and see the first part fulfilled of a dream I had 4 years ago, but common, nothing really crazy.
Monday for FHE we divided into groups and took part in a scavenger hunt. It was a lot of fun, and our group did well. While most tasks were more tame, one was to kiss a stranger. That was a solid no-go for me, but a few members of my group asked a couple passerby but were rejected each time. One group did succeed in accomplishing that, and it turned out to be the difference between first and second. (We got third.) Regardless, laughs were had all around.
Tuesdays are reliably the busiest days of the week for me. This time, I had my Presidency meeting after work, then my Come Follow Me group (and Maranda kindly brought cookies for everyone) and then a date with Hannah Carter. She was introduced to me by Cindy Neider and her husband. My roommate Carson helped and we had a double date. We played spikeball and tried slack lining before going to our place for some ice cream, then calling it a night. It was a fun time, and I enjoyed doing something different for our activity, but I don’t foresee any more dates.
Wednesday was book club and the argumentative couple skyped in but didn’t show up personally and we actually discussed the Gulag Archipelago. Because of this commitment, I missed the first debate of the 2020 Presidential Election.
I turned it on for night two on Thursday, and gave up my plans for the evening of going to the gym and visiting a friend as I quickly realized this was must watch tv. I couldn’t leave the couch the entire two hours, and can hardly wait for the next round at the end of July. The candidates were ridiculous, the answers scary and yet so far fetched it would have been hilarious if the stakes weren’t so large.
Earlier on Thursday I had my final interview with ListReports, skyping in to talk to Ajay, the CEO. That went well, and Friday morning June 28th, I received an offer to work for them, starting either the 1st or 15th of July, my choice. With a significantly higher salary. I went in to their office during my lunch, and accepted. That necessitated a discussion with my manager at BambooHR. I did not foresee myself leaving after only three weeks of working there, and felt somewhat bad because of the time and effort they had already invested in me. However, the disparity was too great, and the opportunities for advancement at ListReports much better. My immediate manager took it quite well, was understanding and supportive. I offered to stay until a replacement could be found, but thankfully she said it was probably better just to end everything now. Her manager, and the person over the floor was not happy, and didn’t talk to me before I left, only expressing his feelings in a message later that day. Oh well. Not the way I wanted to go out. Besides that hiccup, the rest was fine. It is an HR company, and they are efficient. 25 minutes after first saying “I’ve accepted another offer,” I had turned in my electronic equipement, had an exit interview, and was escorted out the door, ending a short episode in my career. But don’t worry, I don’t have commitment issues.
In all seriousness, I was a little worried, as I knew I could have this redo but would need to stay at ListReports a minimum of 6 months. Its more of a start-up, and I don’t know that much about it yet, so the risks are far greater, but it feels right. I was out the door at Bamboo just after 2pm, leaving me with a couple extra hours that were taken up with onboarding with ListReports. I start on Monday, July 1st. As an aside, its perfect timing as it’s the exact start of the second half of the year, the first of a month, and makes budgeting, planning, etc. so much easier.
Saturday was our much-hyped Elders Quorum BBQ. Inception to event was only 10 days and it turned out incredible! We combined with the Elders Quorum of the 97th ward, as we are meeting with them for sacrament during the summer. I barely helped at all, and the event was fantastic. One of my counselors knows the family that sold US Synthetic (the dad of the family invented artificial diamonds) for a few billion dollars. They let us use one of their family houses in the area, and the landscaping was amazing, we had volleyball, and basketball, and slacklines, and spikeball games all going on. It was a great success.
As for the dream, well, I won’t put that on here. It happened four years ago, and to see the first part of it fulfilled brought it all back into my memory. Stay tuned.
Monday our FHE activity was going to a park to watch the new Spiderman movie. I wasn’t interested or willing to commit that much time, so instead went for the spiritual thought, and called it good. Actually, most of the people who showed up weren’t interested in the movie, so we ended talking for a while. I then remembered that I needed to turn in some library books, and made the short hike to BYU. I’ve continued checking out books the last two months but recently the due date has all been the same, June 17th. Sure enough, my access to the library is gone. Sad day.
Tuesday I had my EQP meeting. We are making real progress, and my counselors continue to do a great job. This coming Saturday will be our first activity, and we’ll be having smoked ribs. After that, my Come Follow Me study group came over. This week was a small turnout, but it was perfect, and perfectly timed. At about 7:15, our downstairs neighbors called, and said they needed to go to the hospital, and asked if I could watch their kids until a relative could make it over to babysit. I don’t know if I would have made it alone. Thankfully, the group consisted of two ladies who LOVE kids (or appeared to) and they calmed the crying 6-month old, and helped the other two children, ages 3+5, behave adequately until the babysitter arrived.
Wednesday is book club day. I’ve turned down a lot of activities to continue to meet with them, and my group of friends is quickly learning that I’m committed. It’s always a highlight of my week and I leave having learned lots. This week we started the Gulag Archipelago. I began reading this while eating dinner and felt sick. What the prisoners had to go through was truly horrible. I knew this, but the author, Solzhenitsyn is so descriptive and bares all. The core of the book group is fantastic and we each bring nuanced insights that add to our understanding of the works, but are generally all in line. However, there are two Commies who come occasionally and they made sure to attend this week. It was tense. They didn’t want to discuss the book, only ridicule it and defend communism. And Stalin. Turns out they are full-fledged Stalinists. They avowed that our prison system is worse than the Soviets and were ridiculous in many assertions. I almost left early, but thankfully tempers cooled and the last 20 minutes (of two hours) good discussion flowed.
Last week, having finished our Plutarch only a short time before, one member, Nicol, made a recipe from Cato Sr., which is sort of like an ancient type of cheesecake. It was interesting, not bad at all, and sweetened entirely by honey, with lots of poppyseeds on top.
On Thursday I had originally planned to go watch the Toy Story 4 premier with Kayla. However, she was called into work, and I didn’t want to go that much, and headed over to institute. That was cancelled because of finals at BYU for the Spring semester this week so with time on my hands I was able to visit Jacob W., one of my counselors. We had a special experience, as he asked for a blessing, and the Spirit was so strong. I left knowing that the Lord is always mindful of our situation and earnest desires. Kayla called letting me know she was off work, so I was able to go see her for the first time in a few weeks. I brought some flowers from my yard, and she filled me in with the exciting things going on in her life, namely the recent development of a boyfriend.
Friday started off disastrously. I made it all the way to work at 7 am, before realizing I had left my computer at home. So back it was. I didn’t clock in until 7:50, which although annoying would not be that big of a deal, except I had planned to leave a little early and head to Manti with some friends for the pageant there. So lunch was cut short, and I made it out of work okay, able to leave to head to Manti. This weekend was the last of the Manti Pageant, after a 62 year run.
I drove the faithful van, and was joined by Carson, Dan Raleigh, Emily Kwok, Sandra Shurtleff. We made the drive in a little over an hour, and were amazed by the amount of people in the town. Normally it’s a small town, with a population of only 3,500. They’ve since released the figures for attendance, and turns out we went to the biggest night, as Friday had over 30,000 watching the show. We arrived well in advance, found a stellar parking spot that the homeowner only charged $5 for, and visited various food trucks before going back to our seats and enjoying the performance. The pageant felt more like a spectacle and wasn’t my favorite (or anything close to it) but you could tell the cast worked hard to put it on, and we all enjoyed our time there. The plot portrayed part of church history mingling facts with fictitious characters, but seemed overly dramatic. Our group booked it out at its heartwarming conclusion, and we beat traffic and made it home without a problem. It was one of the best activities I’ve participated in, and I’ll fondly remember this trip. Sandra was riding shotgun, and we had some good conversations, including speaking lots of Portuguese to the chagrin of the others. I also pulled my classic trick on the way back, and turned on my classical music. I’m used to listening to it while driving, and don’t get sleepy, but it made the rest close their eyelids. We returned a little after midnight.
Manti is notorious for bad signal, and no one had service almost the entire night. The one exception was when my phone rang, surprising me. Turns out it was the Bishop and there was an urgent situation with a new member of the ward who had just moved in. Neither of us had met him and it was a true miracle that I had service at the time, and we were able to quickly put together a plan to help.
Saturday, after so much chaos and work the previous weekends with the farmers market, I loved relaxing, watching the Red Sox play a game, and reading after.
One book that I just finished and highly recommend is Heidi Swinton’s bio of Pres. Monson. Uncle Aaron included in one of his letters a few years ago the phrase that people are the spice of life. Its true. Reading about Pres. Monson, I was amazed and inspired by his countless acts of service, and his constant desire to love and help others. As Matthew 20:26-27 says, “Whosoever will be great among you, let him be your minister; and whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant,” Pres. Monson so emulated. This was a great man!
Serving others we feel God’s love for his children. Service does “exalt the poor, and humble the rich.”
Saturday June 8th was my first foray into the farmer’s market. Thursday I found out that the Provo Farmer’s Market was full, so I started looking at other opportunities. The winner was the Daybreak Market in South Jordan, about 30 miles north of where I’m living. On Friday I heard back that I could go that very Saturday. That is when the chaos started. I had one day, closer to 12 hours to get everything ready. I needed to figure out my stand and what pies I’d be bringing. I elected to keep it simple and went with Key Lime Pie and Chocolate Cream. I bought all those ingredients, having to visit 4 stores. Not the start I wanted. It was already evening, and Uncle Ben came through clutch, letting me pick up two coolers and two tables to use for my display. I had to go to Salt Lake to pick up pie covers, and finally at 9:00 I was ready to start cooking. Except the kitchen I am renting messed up and couldn’t get me a key as the person over that was on vacation until Monday. So it was in my kitchen. Have you ever squeezed a key lime? They are small and much harder to squeeze. So I bought a well-made machine to help with that. And got to work on 150 limes. That took WAY longer than I imagined, and would not have been able to do it without the machine. In my haste, my hand slipped and while trying to cut a lime in half before putting it in the machine, I cut my index finger deep. Blood just started pouring out. But there was no stopping, I was committed to showing up. Although I had bought the materials, I had to scrap the chocolate pie idea, and go only with key lime. I made 15 crusts quickly. Their time in the oven took a while, but I could still keep 4 in at once, and it wasn’t too bad. And I mixed the filling ingredients four pies at a time. That said, 15 pies don’t fit in our fridge. I called a friend and ran some over to his place, and he kindly stored them for the night. I needed to print some of my permits I had received online so I literally ran to the BYU library, the only place to print open at 11 pm, and printed those off. But forgot to print my makeshift signs. I finished the pies, but couldn’t find half of the lids, that I had bought earlier that night. They had completely disappeared!! Finally, I gave up on finding the lids, and at 2 am, with a long list of things to do before the fair, I collapsed into bed. This was not going as I imagined.
As you can tell, I was frazzled, struggling much more than I ever imagined trying to get everything ready. So I forgot to set an alarm. For like the first time ever. I needed to be up at 6 am. Miraculously, I woke up at 6:45, after only 4.5 hours of sleep. I jumped up, said my morning prayer, and got to work. I needed to make the whipped cream topping, pick up the pies at my friends house, print out signs, get my handwashing station ready (necessary to legally serve samples), buy ice, pack the coolers, and leave my house at 7:10.
Did. Not. Happen. I somehow made it to the fair at 8:45, later than everyone else, but still before it officially opened. I throw my canopy tent up, set up the tables, and got ready to sell. Because the lids were missing, my makeshift attempt to transport did not go well, especially given my faster than normal driving speeds on my way there; the pies had shifted and fallen in the cooler. About half were not sellable.
The normal manager was out of town, and her replacement was not happy about my situation. She mentioned some rules I had no idea about, that the manager who I had talked to yesterday did not mention. She said I could not use cinderblocks to hold my canopy tent legs down, and I needed some sort of siding to legally serve food from the canopy. And a myriad of smaller issues. I said if I got a refund, I’d go home and make sure I was ready next time. She rejected that, and said she just hoped the Utah Food Safety Dept. wouldn’t be there.
I almost had to laugh. EVERYTHING went wrong. I didn’t even have a single sign. At my mother’s suggestion, I had prepared a vase of flowers to brighten up my table. They looked beautiful! And, they were knocked off to the ground by an old lady accidentally as she tried a sample. The square vase shattered, and the display was ruined.
I passed out nearly 100 samples. And sold three pies, for $10 each. But I made it to 1 pm, which was the time that the market closed. I just wanted to go home. Some of the other booths made over $1,000.
I closed shop, exhausted, with a giant mess on my hands still. The few pies that were still edible, I brought to my mission president, a friend who helped me get a job at BambooHR, and left two with Uncle Ben and family.
This is what President Young sent me later:
What a delightful surprise yesterday! Key Lime pie is one of my all-time favorite desserts.
I have had key lime pie in Key Lime, Florida and at the Dodo Restaurant here in Salt Lake City. Your Key lime pie ranks right up with the best. And it is sooooo creamy.
We love you and are so thankful for you!”
I was so thankful for this kind message and encouragement after such a trying day.
I saved the last pie for a triple date, on Sunday the 9th. Robert came with Hailey, and Hailey set me up with her roommate, Elisa. Robert’s roommate and his girlfriend joined us as well. Per tradition, we sang at the nursing home then returned to my place for the key lime pie. Everyone loved it. And I have to say, I’ve got the recipe down. It is delicious!
Monday the 10th, I started work at BambooHR. I was impressed by the product and how far the company has come, now over 450 employees, and no debt. They’ve managed their money well. Which is the right way to manage a company. But it is not the best for the employees. I felt underpaid, but was happy to have the job. I knew it was on the lower end of the market, but did not understand the commission structure until I arrived. And that made it worse. The other huge negative was my coworkers. There was almost no ambition. No one had dreams, but they were happy with where they were. I’ll leave it at that for now. The actual job was easy, and the environment very inviting. Everyone was very friendly and helpful.
After a week of full-time work, I had arrived at week 2 of the market, Saturday June 15th. This time I was in my commercial kitchen. But I still wasn’t well-prepared. I quickly made a large sign, bought some mini-pie tins in SLC, which was feedback I received the week before, and got to work. This time, also per some customer requests, I made apple pies. It took forever. Being the first time using the kitchen, I didn’t know beforehand that I needed to bring a lighter to light the oven. I thought about going to get one and returning, but it was already so late. So I stuck them in the convection ovens. This was a good idea, and they came out looking delicious! I made 3 full ones and 5 mini-ones. The price was higher, $15 for a full sized, and $4 for a mini. Even if I sold out, I’d still be losing money after travel, kitchen costs, booth costs, and ingredients. But I went.
Honestly, it went better. The crowd turnout was a lot smaller, and the rain that started drove the rest of the people off. Still, I almost sold out. And one person who bought a key lime pie came back and said that she used it for a dinner group, and it was declared the best pie they’ve ever had. And another person came by and said since trying the sample, all her son talked about was wanting to eat one of my key lime pies.
Nevertheless, I was exhausted. I had lost money. I had stayed up until two for a second straight week on Friday night, and I was discouraged. And I had a full-time job now.
So I bid adieu to Daybreak Farmer’s Market. Also known as, My Waterloo. I’d like to try in the Provo Farmer’s Market, and am angling for a spot starting August. Until then, I shall enjoy my Fridays and Saturdays. After enduring these two weeks, here is a song i wrote, from the heart, to be sung to the tune of “Home on the Range.”
“Oh give me a home, where the alliums grow,
and where everyone breathes garlic air.
Where the shallots are strong, all lined in a row
And the land yields cloves fat and fair.
Home, home on the farm….”
Here is one last occurrence from the week that was, to end on a higher note, no pun intended. On Thursday I attended an opera BYU put on, “The Elixir of Love” by Donizetti. It was fantastic! I have become a fan of opera, and love the emotions that were elicited. You had to still use your imagination and thing, and engage with the play and connect the dots. it was so different and so much more enjoyable than a movie. The theater was nearly empty, but one person that was there (completely unexpectedly) was my former roommate Jeremiah. I had not seen him since his departure from the Crestwood in January. I met his girlfriend and it was nice to catch up a little.
Here is one of my favorite scriptures, and one I’m basing a painting off of: (Doctrine +Covenants 43:34-35)
Hearken ye to these words. Behold, I am Jesus Christ, the Savior of the world. Treasure these things up in your hearts, and let the solemnities of eternity rest upon your minds. Be sober. Keep all my commandments. Even so. Amen.
Amen! Forget pie, and opera and whatever else. I rejoice because Christ lives! He is the Savior of the world. As we reflect on the eternal things of eternal worth, keeping the commandments will become easier and we will return to live with our Heavenly Father.
On May 18th, I received a call from the Stake Secretary asking me to meet the Stake President, President Curtis, the next day. He interviewed me, and then extended the call to serve as Elder’s Quorum President. I’ve enjoyed my month off, but am so, so happy to have this opportunity again. I love the chance to serve. I met with the Bishop, Bishop Miner, for an hour, and we talked about ward goals and upcoming plans. While it is the same calling, it is a completely different feel from the Crestwood. First, I had already lived at the Crestwood for one year, and knew most people. I’ve been here for one month, and am still trying to even learn the name of everyone. Crestwood had lots of less-actives and the population was fairly old for a YSA ward, averaging perhaps 26. This ward has great attendance, and I am within the average age, as the vast majority are between 22-25. Calling counselors was easy; the Spirit had impressed upon me quite clearly who should be called, and I’m really excited to see what the next few months bring. The Bishop did say that there was a high likelihood that I wouldn’t serve too long – the stake tries to call people who haven’t had this calling before to give them the experience, but he said that as soon as he met me, he felt impressed that I was the person they’ve been looking for to fill this calling. Last Sunday my counselors and I were sustained, so its off to work, no wasting a minute.
I went as long as I could, about 45 minutes, then sprinted back to my car and headed for the Cedar Hills Golf Course to play 9 holes with Mark. It started raining as we teed off, (an absolutely gorgeous tee shot, down to the fairway 200 feet below, my drive went 380, just to the right of the green,) and by the second hole was a downpour. Everyone else cleared off the course, but we decided to park our cart (I wasn’t happy about getting one, but it was worth every penny due to the rain) facing the rain, and wait it out. It took 15 or so minutes, and we talked deep about life and challenges that it throws at us. And then the rain softened, and we played on, finishing in again perfect weather and having the course to ourselves.
I LOVE this quote from Sis. Nelson, speaking about the prophet. She said:
“At 94 years of age, my husband is becoming more and more of his true self every day,” she said. “Why wouldn’t he be? He is doing exactly what he was foreordained to do.”
Know thyself. Thus spake the philosophers of old, and thus must we do. As we discover who we are and what we are meant to do, I know that we will realize we are truly sons and daughters of a loving Heavenly Father, and our individual destinies, whatever unique path that might take, our more glorious and wonderful than we can ever imagine. I love this scripture, found in Acts 2:28. This is Peter talking,
Thou hast made known to me the ways of life; thou shalt make me full of joy with thy countenance.
The gospel brings joy. Christ brings joy, and makes our lives full.