החיים טובים

I got on the bus Thursday afternoon and two guys nearby sat down, and started talking, obviously part of the same ward. “Hey, remind me, have you proposed yet?” “Dude, I’ve never even had a girlfriend!” Of course, this was followed by some apologies for confusing him with someone else. I cracked up. Truth! Here’s to you! Keep hanging in there!

For those interested, at BYU, there are currently:

-216 Tanner’s

-101 Hunter’s

-14 Porter’s

-16 Cooper’s

-0 Miller’s

-0 Breyer’s

I love feeling stretched intellectually, and that happened with the appearance of Scott Yenor this week. He is a Catholic professor teaching at Boise State. Toqueville Society paid for him to come and speak on “Three Ideologies that are Undermining the Family.” As a club member, we met with him Thursday night to discuss his recent article, “Sex, Gender, and the origin of the Culture Wars.” That was my first time actually thinking about feminism, and I can honestly say it was life-changing. My way of thinking changed that night. For those interested, here is the article:

https://www.heritage.org/gender/report/sex-gender-and-the-origin-the-culture-wars-intellectual-history

The next day, Friday, we listened to his lecture, but as much had been discussed the night before, it was sort of a letdown. Until the Q+A. A solid crowd attended, and I was surprised by how many people took shot at Dr. Yenor and his ideology. At BYU. This piqued my interest further, and I’ve been talking with as many women I can to find out their opinions on this subject. We concluded his visit, by having lunch as a club, and hearing even more about transgenderism, etc.

Later that Friday evening, I went with Caitlin (from Montana) to BYU’s annual Seder Dinner. They hold what is termed a learning Passover dinner on three nights around this time every year, with 250 in attendance at each one. While it turned out to not be the best place for a first date, my understanding of Passover and how it relates to Christianity today increased. I especially liked how in Exodus 12:17 it talks about partaking of this (passover) ordinance forever.

As we broke the unleavened bread and partook, reading the traditional scriptures from Psalms that the Jews read at this point, it became very obvious how the sacrament relates to Passover and fulfills Exodus 12:17 as we take the sacrament every week. I would highly recommend the dinner for anyone who is able. Seriously, when a date that involves eating horseradish, and listening to Hebrew prayers still turns out good, you know this is something worth doing.

Saturday was our ward temple trip to Manti. I invited my friend Robert, and we were accompanied by five women from the ward. During the 1.5 hour drive down, we took the opportunity to discuss various questions, and I am thankful for that. Pres. Packer taught that one of the main purposes of college is to know yourself, who you really are, and these small debates have been profoundly impacting me and helping me to do so, as well as to understand the world better.

The temple was spectacular, my favorite that I’ve visited in Utah. It was special to remember that it was here, some fifty years ago, that my grandparents were sealed and our families journey in the gospel in many ways began.

Before driving back, we stopped at Miller’s Drive-Through Diner. Delicious. When a restaurant in the middle of nowhere has famous fish sandwiches, you know its good. (Although I opted for the classic BBQ Bacon Burger.) And their ice cream was great, and I saw for the first time in years, Superman Ice Cream.

That night it was off to Tanmarie’s to play with Nora and compete at Parcheesi. Life is good.

Retail Stores and Dating: A Metaphor for Millenials

Last Saturday, I went to the temple in the morning as part of our ward temple trip. Afterwards, we had Zupa’s catered to us. And, in a fateful move, I picked up a leftover one to bring home.

Dad had just gotten here, and came over to my digs, checked the place out, and we headed to UVU. Tanmarie and family were just finishing rock climbing, and we went with them to the bowling alley. I’m proud to say, I was top score, with 140.

Dad and I went up to American Fork, and I met Sis. Young, and we talked with her for a couple hours, before heading back to meet up with the Bach’s, who were just arriving, for dinner. Dinner was at Terra Mia. Dad and I split a pizza and their texas sandwich. The pizza was ok, but that sandwich —-> 10/10. The restaurant had a live two-piece jazz band playing as well. It was a fun place. We (Tanner, Nora, Dad, Matt Stone, and I,) proceeded back to their apt. and we played some games.

Sunday morning, I played host, welcoming the Bach’s, Dad, and Matt for burritos and apple pie. The perfect combo. We then went to Tanmarie’s church, and witnessed Nora’s blessing. She was a champ.

Dad had to leave after, for the long trip home, and I gifted my Zupa’s sandwich to him. With apparently aged mayonnaise. Alas, I knew not.

I went with the Bach’s to go to the dinner party being held, and for about 45 minutes, we took a nice tour of Provo, including the industrial area, before deciding we better get the real address, and we made it for a delicious soup and salad event, with ice cream+ cookies.

It was wonderful to have everybody visiting, and many memories were made.

Monday was the return to school.

The death of retail stores, with the rise of online markets has been heralded. The advantage of course, is that the middleman is cut out, and thus the markup passed to the consumer is less. Blind dates are like retail stores. So, deciding to employ the same technique and cut out the middleman, I signed up for Mutual (think mormon tinder) and went on two dates this week, with people from it.

The first, Rayann, is from Wyoming, served a mission in St. Petersburg, Russia, and is studying elementary education. Interestingly, she pointed out that we both have five brothers and one sister. Wednesday, coincidentally Valentine’s Day, we went to the BYU wind symphony, who enthralled us with various pieces all based around the theme from the hymn, “Praise God from whom All Blessings Flow.” We have a second date set for this coming Friday.

And on Saturday, I doubled with cousin Kaleb, and we went bowling. I set him up with someone from the ward, and we had a blast. With Kaleb there, it was much easier to be natural. My date, Megan, served a mission in Salvador, Brasil, and we know quite a few of the same people. As we arrived to BYU’s bowling alley, she disclosed that she had previously taken a bowling class, and at that time  was scoring in the 170’s. Luckily, that was a few years ago, and I upheld my honor, winning both games (albeit barely) with scores of 132, and 146. After dropping Megan and Shelby off, Kaleb came over and we had dinner and ice cream. It was nice to hear about his mission and catch up. We’ll be back at it again.

Of course, I also admit I don’t really shop online, and thus my Mutual saga has now come to an end. I appreciated the experience, but its not me, and I’ll stick to old-school.

Friday, I continued my temple streak, going to the Provo one. After, I walked to BYU to watch the movie “Black Orpheus” which is supposed to be  a Brazilian masterpiece. Having heard so many good things about it, I admittedly left very disappointed. The film was so sad, and even a little dark. My roommate Derik, picked me up, and we headed to UVU’s institute for a dance. A singles awareness dance. It reminded me of a giant stake dance. And also reminded me that I never liked stake dances.

 

Another highlight from Saturday was with Tanner. We went golfing at Eastbay. The weather was beautiful and we enjoyed getting out and playing. On the first hole, I dumped my three first shots into the lake. Finally, on my fourth try, I stayed on dry ground, and the rest of the round went much smoother.

Today in church I played the organ. It went well until the last verse of the last hymn, when I must have been in cruise control because I lost my place, and let the ward sing a capela for one bar, before joining back in to finish the song with them.

Our choir is singing “Cumorah’s Hill” for a fireside, and one piece contains the line,

How can we hope to see His face, when we never could see His hand?

I know that as we look for, and recognize the daily blessings and miracles in our lives, we will be better prepared to return to our Maker, and we will experience more joy in our journey to Him.

Looking back, prepares us to go forward

Honestly, this week was pretty boring.

First, to clarify dategate. I did not go on any dates last week. I did eat California dates daily. I will be sure to mention something about fiber next time to avoid any confusion. And that next time is now. I again did not go on any dates. Two weeks and running. For what its worth, I did hold a Bing Crosby Karaoke night for one on Saturday. That was a blast! Where the blue of the night meets the gold of the day……..

Sunday School is going great. We are up to 10 teachers and everything is humming along nicely. We will have teacher training council this Sunday, and are thinking about again expanding the curriculum, and adding another class. I know its not quite building a team, but it sort of is, and its been fun to do that. My counselors are awesome, and I’ve been impressed by the positive response of the members to help.

I again did more genealogy and visited the temple, this time Provo City Center.

I am enjoying more school classes. My favorites are an entrepreneurship class, and history of Brasil. I’ve learned lots in both, and my appreciation of the subjects has greatly increased. Talking about the effect of the sugar industry in colonial Brasil, I learned that in 1500 the average European did not eat any refined sugars. In 1750, that number was up to 4 pounds annually per person. And today, the average American consumes 120 pounds of sugar annually. 120 pounds. No society has rejected sugar.

And my entrepreneurship class, the professor, Ralph Little has been fantastic. He’s shared not only business lessons well, but has taught life lessons that change how I think. This week, after challenging us to change the way we converse, to listen more, and not bring everything back to ourselves, and to specifically engage some strangers in meaningful conversation, the question was asked what if we don’t like the person? If they are just a jerk? I admit I thought it was a fair question, but the professor responded that if we don’t like someone, it is because we don’t know them. We need to ask more questions, establish trust and get to know them. We should love everyone. And its true. Try it. Don’t talk at all about yourself, but let the other person talk, watch how much they open up, and learn from them. Show interest.

Finally, here is an unforgettable video shared at RootsTech 2015. “Looking back, prepares us to go forward.” Under 3 minutes, do yourself a favor and watch it.

http://www.lds.org/topics/family-history/familydiscoveryday/looking-back-prepares-us-to-go-forward?lang=eng&old=true

 

 

Chefe é Chefe

Another week coming at you late. I’ll go vignette form this time.

I’ve had some assignments due this past week, where I had to scramble and borrow a book from the teacher or a classmate to accomplish. Starting to get worried that my books from Amazon were having problems coming, I found out that they were instead sent to Tanner’s house accidentally. And have been sitting there. Obviously, I can’t blame him, as I sent them there and he probably thought I didn’t need them right away, as I never said anything about them. Next time, I will check the shipping address.

I’ve had lots of dates this week. Maybe more than I’ve ever had. They’re all from California, “naturally sweet” and “heart healthy.” Good combo. Honestly, even if I am not getting engaged to anybody, as long as I am going out, and trying, I feel good about my effort. I need to make something happen.

I have quickly become inseparable with my bathrobe and slippers. In fact, now being reunited with my golf clubs, I was putting one night in my apartment, and my roommate filmed without me knowing, and sent it to a friend, who then sent it to others, and me, putting to a half dollar on our green carpet in my blue bathrobe has gone viral in our ward.

  A prepared candid. 

Saturday we had a ward temple trip to Payson. Beautiful temple, especially framed by the falling snow. This was the first major snowfall of the winter, with 6-8 inches falling. It was an unforgettable experience, and one that I will treasure.

 

     

Receiving a sketch book for Christmas, and having recently read the bio of Henry B. Eyring, in which I learned that he consistently included pictures to round out his journal, I decided to do the same. Everyday I try and sketch something important to that day. Its been a challenge, but also enjoyable to engage in something that I haven’t for a LONG time.

Having more free time this semester, I have begun exercising (and running!) faithfully. Lots of work to do. My main goals are to be able to run 10 miles and benchpress 225 by the end of the semester. Hold me accountable! Another of my goals is to do family history weekly, and I had some success on Friday, adding on to our family tree.

Also Friday, at night we had our ward Chili Cook-Off. I didn’t submit anything, but 10 people brought their chili in, and I tasted 9 of them, the other ran out quickly. The winner was a delicious white chili.

Saturday, I went with Tanner to a Brasilian Festival. And of course, I wore my Chefe e Chefe shirt. We didn’t stay long, just long enough to take a picture and sample some food. Later they were having some cultural dances and traditions going on. We went to Tanmarie’s house,  and played Ticket To Ride (Europe) and I enjoyed seeing Nora. Seems like she’s adjusted to mortality well, and was all smiles during my visit.

For whatever reason, I remembered this week an experience I had on my mission. About a year in, I went by bus from Itaperuna to Campos, arriving at 10pm ish. My bus from there to Vitoria would leave at 2 am, so I had a few hours of waiting alone in the bus station. I decided to immerse myself in the book of Joshua. I picked up on a couple main themes, mainly being courageous and obedient. (Side note, according to Joshua chapter 2, and 4:19, the Israelites entered the promised land on April 6th) One verse, well known, touches me every time. Joshua 3:5

And Joshua said unto the people, Sanctify yourselves: for tomorrow the Lord will do wonders among you.

The Lord will do wonders with you. Be prepared.

 

Reap what you sow

I think I’ve recovered from my illnesses. Admittedly, the first few days of classes weren’t fun. But they were doable, and that was a blessing. My schedule looks set. I received permission to take 20 credits this semester, and will be doing the following courses:

-History 202: World Civilization 1500 to present

-Portuguese 321

-History 200: Historian’s Craft

-History 356: History of Brazil

-Religion 211: New Testament part 1 (covering the four gospels)

-Religion 261: Family History

-Business Man. 372: Entrepreneurship

-Tennis for beginners (starts halfway through the semester)

I’m enjoying my classes so far, and am learning much, and they have challenged how I think, which I appreciate. Part of my rationale of quitting my job was due to my desire to spend more time at school, participating in activities there. I’ve been able to do that, and that has been well worth the time. I’ve begun participating in a new club, The Fidelio Society. It is similar to the Toqueville Society but focuses more on religion and works in conjunction with the Wheatley Institute. I was asked if I’d be willing to be part of the leadership, and accepted. Besides the obvious responsibilities, one perk is that I’ll be invited to meet with and debate with the scholars and visitors that the Wheatley Institute brings in. I’m looking forward to that.

I was surprised with a package of dates shipped to me. Thank you Aunt Janel! I made her recipe of date muffins, and while they didn’t turn out perfect, i love them! They have quickly become one of my favorites and a surefire breakfast. Date pie is intriguing as well….

 

On Friday, I went to Salt Lake City early in the morning to attend on person the funeral of Pres. Monson. It was held in the Conference Center, and about 10,000 people showed up for the noon service. It was amazing to be there and listen to Pres. Nelson and Pres. Eyring and Elder Uchtdorf pay homage to this great man. Afterwards, I had planned to visit the Family history Library. Unfortunately that had closed for the day unbeknownst to me, but I was able to go to the Salt Lake Temple.

Upon returning to Provo, I quickly got ready for a date. I was doubling with my roommate Jeremiah and his girlfriend Maddie. She had arranged a date with her friend Alyssa Fenton. She moved around a lot, but finished high school in Pittsburgh, and is studying accounting at BYU. The original plan was to go to some hot springs. However, after driving there we discovered that the road had been closed off due to snow. So it was back to Provo. We ate some great chocolate chip cookies at Chip Cookies, and then went bowling. After a hiatus of a few years, I bowled better than ever before. I won the first round, and the second game I was over 100 after 6 frames. And then our hour time limit ran out. I had fun, and enjoyed getting to know Alyssa.

Saturday, my friend Brian Crane came down to visit from Idaho. He pulled in around 4, and i met him in the parking lot to go golfing. The weather was beautiful, and the course in fair condition. And I played. I birdied the first hole, after smashing a drive and chipping to two feet. On the second, I stuffed an 8-iron 175 yards to five feet away, and the round was on. I ended up with some slight miscues, but on the 7 hole executive course which we played, finished at one over par. I’ll take that! Look at those snow-capped mountains! Just beautiful scenery.

Part of the reason Brian came was to go on a date with a girl living here, so while he did that, I went to visit Naomi. Its always a good time with her, and I was happy to hear she interviewed with the University of Utah grad PT program.

Sunday was church, and the roll out of our new Sunday School program. We’ve gone from 0 teachers to 8 in three weeks, getting to know many people without callings in the process, and are teaching four classes weekly: Gospel Doctrine, Gospel Principles, Temple Prep, and a special Family Class, which combines elements of a few manuals.

After the meetings, Brian and I went with Erin and Ashley Ferry to SLC for the YSA devotional with Elder and Sister Uchtdorf. It was marvelous! Many times, youth ask the same sort of questions, and receive the same, valid answers. However, this time, the answers while essentially teaching the same thing, seemed much more relatable this time, and I learned a lot about this journey of mortality. Alyssa already had plans, so I set up Brian with Erin, and went with Ashley. She is from Cedar Hills Utah, served a mission in Guatemala, and is studying nursing at UVU. I was amazed at the number of attendees. Asking an usher and security guard, I was told that while tough to estimate, the organizers had expected 6,000-7,000 people.  Instead, 30,000 young single adults showed up! We didn’t even get a seat in the conference center, and watched it in a theater there.

Monday, Brian and I went to play basketball in the morning. It was a good workout. No more losing to Sawyer! We played on the same team as cousin Greg who happened to be there, and whipped the other team.

I am starting my garden. I’ve been collecting largeish aluminum cans (29 ounce), and plan to fill them with dirt and start an indoor garden. Any ideas on what to plant?

Jazz in my blood

I’ll try to quickly hit the last few weeks. First, finals ended fantastically. I ended with my highest GPA for a semester at BYU and given that I worked roughly 25 hours per week, on average, and led a healthy social life, I am quite pleased with the balance. Before leaving on Thursday to go to Vegas, I went out with Lynsie again on Wednesday night. We delivered some fresh homemade chocolate chip cookies all over town, spreading holiday cheer. Caroling not included. She had chosen one family that is Brasilian and are not members. While she did not know beforehand, it turns out they are from my last area on the mission! It was incredible to be able to talk to them. I would say it compares to going to Germany and meeting someone from the same town in South Carolina. I promised to invite them over for some Brasilian BBQ. Also, when we got there, her brothers best friend was visiting them, and he served in my mission, leaving just shortly before I arrived. It was a great night.

Thursday we drove to Vegas. Nora behaved admirably. Stopping for dinner at 5 Guys in St. George, we arrived about 8 pm. Friday morning we headed off for a quick peak at The Hoover Dam. I made the difficult decision to pass using the hot tub, but took advantage of the in-house organ. Because I had been asked to play in Granbury’s ward sacrament meeting. I am not used to playing for accompaniment and struggled at a time or two. The music kept going though, and we got through all three songs. I like to spice it up with more of a jazzy feel, going quick on the easy parts, slow on the hard ones. The beat is more of a suggestion anyway.

It was of course wonderful to make it to Granbury and see everybody. Mom has already written much, so I won’t recap. I got everything I wanted and more for Christmas. There is nothing like being home for Christmas.

I should have seen it coming. Sunday night, I had a nightmare, and that invariably means sickness, usually a fever. Nevertheless, I managed to make it through the day, even beating Sawyer twice in horse. However, Tuesday – Friday I was down for the count. Those days will be remembered by movie marathons using the projector, wrapped up in sleeping bags, lying on a heating pad. No popcorn. Actually, I endured nightmares for three straight nights. The last one nearly did me in. Think flying mice, moving their mouths like hungry hippos, and their tails, appearing starched lined out stiff behind them. During much of my sleepless nights, I spent writing, and I realized, I am a writer. It is something I really enjoy.

Leaving half-dead on Saturday, I made it to the airport perfectly timed. Dropped my bags off, made it through security, (travel tip #32 wear a leather coat with big pockets.) and ambled my way to my gate and into the boarding line. Oh yeah. Then, boarding, who should I see, but Elder Bradley, my first mission companion! He was going from Michigan to Dallas to SLC. I sat next to him, and we caught up and reminisced on our time in San Luiz, Arizona.

This week was the passing of Pres. Monson. It was a reminder that life is fleeting as a dream. One day we will be held accountable, not jst to God, but to ourselves, for what we did and who we became. Pres. Monson chose and cultivated a life of service, of love, of teaching, and of leading others unto the Savior of mankind, Jesus Christ. How noble a life! What are you doing with yours? As I’ve reflected on that, one statement in my call as a missionary came to mind.

Greater blessings and more happiness than you have yet experienced await you as you humbly and prayerfully serve the Lord…

May we follow the example of Pres. Monson and wear our lives out in service.

Finding Nora!

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Lets be realistic, whatever else happened, Nora was still going to be the highlight of the week. She entered the world Friday, weighing 7.5 pounds, and measuring 20 inches. Not so sure why we always put these statistics out there, but for what they’re worth, you have them. More interesting is the fact that she has dark hair, no eyebrows, or eyelashes, or teeth, doesn’t cry much (yet,) hasn’t eaten steak before, and loves Uncle Hunter. That’s Nora. Tanner says she is “perceptive.” I didn’t get past “heavenly.” I went over Saturday night, held and rocked her for a little and then relinquished her to Annemarie. It was amazing to think that just a short time before, she was in heaven.

Now for the filler. This week was thanksgiving break. As previously stated, Monday I enjoyed work and had lunch with Pres. Young. Tuesday I had a free day. I went to school and worked on some assignments, mostly genealogy and was thrilled with progress in the Gerken-Hesse line. More to come hopefully. My professor was helping me, and I don’t exaggerate when I say that what I could have done in weeks, he accomplished in minutes. My roommates all went out of town for the break, so I was left with the apartment to myself. Tuesday and Wednesday nights, I discovered that ABC puts up SharkTank episodes on their website, and enjoyed watching some. My bedtime averaged before 10 pm for the week, which probably hasn’t happened since I was 12 And I woke up about 6 each day, able to work out and read and relax a little in the morning. A welcome respite from the usual school and work.

Originally planning to go with Tanmarie and her parents for thanksgiving at an extended family member’s house, I opted for Uncle Ben’s instead. We had a Thanksgiving feast, and it was nice to spend time, the whole day, with family. Sarah W. came down from Idaho, and that was a great surprise. We decided to do something on Saturday, and my first idea, was a game night. Sort of spur of the moment but it worked out. About 15 people came over, and we played some ice-breaker games, code name, and one other which had me laughing until I cried. But, to play it, it requires people never having played it before. Thus, I shall wait. I made cranberry muffins, sugar cookies, and put out chips and salsa for snacks. And water of course. The cranberry muffins turned out slightly burnt, and a bit misshapen, and  not wanting to sit on 24 muffins, I impressed myself by creating simple placards on index cards which read “Chips+Salsa.” “Cups for water.” “Sugar cookies.” “World Famous Ugly+Delicious Cranberry Muffins.” Incredibly, it worked and 20 muffins were eaten, and people were complimenting them, and leaving the sugar cookies which actually tasted good, much better than the muffins, relatively untouched.

Other noteworthy happenings: I unfotunately did not finish my paper for the BYU Religious Symposium. Looks like it’ll have to be next year. I I went to Swigs with a roommate on Friday. Its supposed to be a fantastic soda parlor. I ordered an Italian Soda and it was horrible!!! I had never been there before but have heard such good things. Now, I will have to return and try something else, just to see if its that bad, or if they forgot something in my drink. Like sugar.

Fique Firme!!!

 

Believe it or Not

First, just to clarify from last week, I am planning to leave my current apt, for a new one, but still stay in Provo. Unfortunately, the person who wanted to buy my contract texted me last Monday saying he had been on a waitlist for an apt complex for a long time, and they just let him know that a spot had opened up. So i’m still trying to sell it.

Wednesday, we had another bathroom adventure. My roommate clogged the toilet again, and left. I came back from the gym, didn’t even use it, but about to hop in the shower, and seeing toilet paper, flushed it. The water rose incredibly fast, and overflowed, filling the bathroom with water. Nasty, disgusting water. Still wanting to take a shower, and knowing the problem wouldn’t fix itself, I went to start mopping it up. And then, someone knocked on the door, which almost never happens. Half-naked, I opened it up, a panicked neighbor. To be exact, a neighbor who lives directly below us. He told me that water was pouring in their ceiling, and he wanted to know if someone was taking a shower. I told the truth- the problem is not with the shower. That didn’t make him feel better, but I promised to fix the problem quickly. I mopped everything up, took my shower, now that I really needed to be clean, and texted my roommate, raising awareness of the situation, and letting him know he could finish the clean up. He did. I think we both learned some lessons.

I was leaving that mess, to meet up with Tanner, and listen to BYU Philharmonic play. It was marvelous. They finished by playing Scheherazade by Rimsky-korsakov.

Thursday was lots of school, a dance test, an organ test, then a meeting of the Toqueville Society where we talked and debated about the influence of the Reformation on our society as a whole, and on the LDS church. I left having changed my opinion on a few things, grateful for the learning experience.

Friday after work, I got together with a guy from chess club. We met in the library to play a longer game, 45 minutes on each side. We had a fair amount of spectators come by, ask about the club, etc, but it wasn’t until we were done that two guys came up, one jubilant, congratulating my competitor on his victory and informing that he had won $10 off of him, which his friend confirmed by wistfully looking at me and asking, “10 dollars…How did you lose when you had the winning position early?” Impatient attack, and not castling, my friend. I feel your pain.

Friday night I went to Tanmarie’s and played games. And borrowed their car for my Saturday adventures. Super kind of them. But to back up a little,

Thursday, wanting to go out, I decided to go all out. I went up to a girl I did not know, and had never talked with, asked her name, conversed for a couple minutes and then invited her to get some ice cream with me on Saturday. She said yes, and made my day. So, Saturday, I drove(!!!!) to the football stadium, braved the cold weather, a cold team, and the UMass coach who won hands down for most swearing in the season. I returned home, quickly showered, and went to pick up my date, Lexie, a ballerina from St. Louis. We went to what is quickly becoming a favorite of mine, Rockwell’s Ice Cream. Of course, there was no parking, so we ended up having to walk a couple blocks. On our way, waiting for a crosswalk light to change, two bums came up to us. They said they liked my coat. And they thought it would look good on them. I politely declined, and they then left us alone. We enjoyed fantastic ice cream; I went with strawberries+cream and Lexie chose snickerdoodle. During our time at Rockwell’s there was one silence in the conversation, that lasted 20 seconds, which is actually pretty long. Try sitting at a table with someone, and timing 20 seconds before saying anything. I feel comfortable with silence, and was savoring the dessert, but saw her twitch and knew I should say something. Preferably something that doesn’t increase the awkwardness. So, I asked her what grocery store chains they have in St. Louis. BANG! Its said if you get kneecapped once, you can still make it out, however painful. But, I followed her response by saying, “I know that was a weird question, but I’m just really interested and fascinated by grocery stores.” BANG! Man down. However, overall, I enjoyed it, and believe it went well. I brought Tanmarie’s car back, met Annemarie’s mother, and we played a game of scrabble. Me and Tanner fought to the end, but I played “THrEADING” and that was enough to claim the victory. And, I took advantage of my time there, and did my wash. For free.

Sunday, I taught family history class. I also made it a point to try and meet anyone I didn’t know already. Including Shelby, who I talked to briefly. There was a face-to-face event with Elders Oaks and Ballard happening that night, and Elder Ballard in his visit to BYU on Tuesday had made a special invitation to bring a friend. I went and invited everyone I home teach, but no one was going, so I decided to ask Shelby. Of course, I don’t have a car, so that made me find someone in the ward who did, and invite them to double with me. He, Jordan, wasn’t planning on going, but I promised him blessings, (and a date,) and he agreed. I went and invited Shelby, and her roommate. All four of us had a great time. Shelby is from Pleasant Grove, UT, served a mission in Cleveland, and works full time at DoTerra.

Monday, I had a fantastic time at work, and had lunch with my mission president. Pres. Young, which was THE highlight of the week. He works relatively close to me, so we had set this up a while back. I won’t include everything here, my separate type up is three pages, but know that we talked and talked for an hour and a half. Actually, I basically just listened, happy to hear, and trying to soak up as much wisdom as possible. I left thoroughly touched and inspired. And I’ll just add, he might have the best proposal story I’ve ever heard. I almost cried. And of course, when that thing happens, I ended up going home, and having a candlelight dinner for one, (of fish, spinach, cranberry sauce, and mashed potatoes,) writing thank you letters, listening to classical music, and reflecting on my life. And finishing this letter.

Dancing with Cougars

First, a Happy Birthday to Tanner. I’m just coming back from his birthday party, good times, and I feel like I always leave a better person after spending time with AnneMarie and him. It’s been an evening full of games and food. Specifically shish kebabs of peppers, pineapple, mushrooms and chicken. That had been marinated for 12 hours. As AnneMarie says, Tanner’s food has to taste good and look aesthetically pleasing. (they prepared it all). And then lots of ice cream, and brownies and lemon bars. Good stuff. Saturday, we also celebrated his special day by going to a movie, Murder on the Orient Express, and then playing games in the evening. Earlier, about a week ago, asking me to come to the movie, Tanner said that it would be so fun, they would all dress up like characters from the film, and really get into it. Well, I’m not the type of person you need to call to remind about something, like giving a talk in church, etc. I don’t forget. And thus, I watched the trailer to get an idea, and dressed up. I was subsequently picked up by TanMarie, who had on gym clothes. And we were then joined by others. In gym clothes. #fake news. They got me good.

Of course, there’s a little more to the story than just that. That morning, I had spent grilling with my charcoal grill and watching football, (I also cooked the kebabs which makes my new favorite hobby BBQ’ing) and was eating my steak quickly to finish in time. When, I heard shouts for help coming from the small gym in the clubhouse. I went over to look, and the lone athlete had dislocated his shoulder and asked me to put it back in. I never took anatomy in school or anything similar which might have explained his wails that almost cracked the glass doors, but hey, after a couple tries, his shoulder went back in. Then, I returned to finish my steak. Of course, I was now five minutes behind schedule and texted Tanner to let him know. I wanted to make sure I had time to change and wouldn’t be the only one not dressed up. C’est la vie. But hey, steak, a good movie, better company, and games all in 24 hours? Even if you throw in a scary dislocated shoulder, it was still a nice day.

Friday, was also a memorable day. I had work off, because of Veteran’s Day. However, my boss called on Thursday wanting to know if I would come to his house and do a concrete project. I couldn’t because of prior commitments, but appreciated the offer, and the trust. Those prior commitments included meeting with Roger Minert, world-renowned german family history specialist. He isn’t just an expert in the field, he is the expert. He is teaching my class on that subject, and I’ve already learned a lot, but it was amazing to spend an hour and work through some tough problems on our tree. The main goal is still to find where Frank Schenewark and Fam. lived in Germany. I sprinted from that meeting back to my apt, changed clothes, had lunch, and was back on campus for my 2nd stab at Dancesport. This time we were dancing the quickstep, and I had put some serious practice time into it, and we were looking good! Alas, it was not to be, as disaster struck and we failed to advance. Everything went wrong. Another couple bumped into us, we were thrown off, and instead of fixing the slight damage at that point, we tried to keep going without missing a beat, and that made us go downhill faster than Paul Bunyan could fell a tree. It was  disappointing. And to add to the forgettable finish, I had given my camera to someone, but they couldn’t figure out how to film us until half the dance was over, and then didn’t know how to zoom in.

 With my friend who won one of the Latin divisions. Coincidentally, we matched.

Friday night is date night (at least in theory). This week theory went into practice, and I went on a double date, with a friend from the MTC, Paul. I set him up with Rebecca Welch, and he set me up with Cassidy. It was actually a good time; we started off by going to the soap factory where we made our own custom bar of soap. I chose a flower design, blue color, and eucalyptus/pine scent. Cassidy went with a purple penguin with lemongrass. Paul and Becca made 12 tiny dinosaurs. The best? Definitely the one smelling like rootbeer. Paul says it will be his new car freshener. While we waited for the soap to set, we played banana grams, then went for ice cream at Rockwell’s. It was hard, but I branched out, only sampling my go-to cookie dough flavor, and instead choosing Apple Pie Ice Cream. Impressive, and worth a return trip.

I bucked the natural hesitancy for change, and put my winter housing contract up for sale last week. Only one person appeared interested, but that one person (in D.C. on an internship) got into contact, had his sister come over to look the place over, and tonight, asked to close. I’ll be leaving in December, (still looking for a new place to live,) and am mulling what the future holds in store. Stay tuned….

 

The Man in the Arena

This week saw my return, this time triumphant to chess  club. I was asked to be a part of the team sent to the Pan-American Intercollegiate Chess Tournament. Unfortunately, it’s held in Columbus, Ohio during Christmas Break, so I don’t think I’ll be going.

I asked out a girl from one of my classes, and if you’re wondering how it went, let’s just say that this would be an appropriate place for the following:

“The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”

Yes, judging by this poignant, impassioned speech, good ol’ Teddy Roosevelt must have suffered his dating defeats as well.

One of my roommates told me that getting turned down meant I could treat myself to something. I think he meant ice cream or a snickers bar, but I went and bought bitcoin. Those who know me, know that I am extremely cautious with money and that it takes months for me to buy the simplest (non-food) items. I wanted to buy Bitcoin before my mission, with the money left over, but my last day, the internet went down. I left instructions with the family to purchase it for me, but alas, it was not to be. At the time, the price was $200 something. It reached $7000 this week. 3000% gain in two years. Oh well. I still feel like it has a lot of room to grow, and expect to see it reach $10,000 before the end of the year.  And don’t worry, I’m not risking the farm, you are able to buy 1/ 1 millionth of a coin.

On Wednesday, dateless, I went with a friend to see the BYU Symphony play. They played a variety of dances, mostly by some Russian composers. And Friday, dateless, I went solo to see the Wind Symphony play. And won a gift card to a soda parlor while there, so, if I do get a date, i’ll know where to go. Tanner always kids me that my favorite instrument is a trumpet- something brash and powerful. No, I think I’d choose strings any day. However, after hearing the wind symphony, I must admit, it is overpowering what a good brass section can do. And similarly, while I think I like adagios better, the marches I heard were good pick-me uppers.

Saturday, I cleaned the house, did laundry, etc, and went shopping at Costco with Tanner and AnneMarie. The kitchen shelves were bare before, but have since feasted. Think fish, and cranberry sauce, and rolls. Yummy. Thats what happens when your teachers don’t assign any homework. I am up 4 pounds this semester, with a goal of between 7-10 more to get back to that pre-mish weight.

This weekend was stake conference and it was one of the best I’ve ever been to. Every talk was fabulous and inspiring. The Spirit was strong throughout the conference. And, Sunday morning we were sweetly serenaded to by a Polynesian Choir singing in Samoan. Oh yeah. If you haven’t heard it, put this on your bucketlist. They have the gift of music and sing happiness.

And Sunday evening I spent with Tanmarie again, joining them for dinner and fun games. Crazy to think I’ll be joining unclehood in like 2.5 weeks.