Monday was the start of our revamped FHE. My roommate Spencer is leading our group, and we had 23 show-up. Impressive attendance and a good time was had as we played a get-to-know-you Kahoot game.
Book club this week had the biggest turnout I’ve seen so far, with 9 people showing up. It was a crowded room, and we delved into Shakespeare’s Coriolanus.
On Thursday, I held a “Nachos and Nacho Libre” night. Some of the ladies we minister to had wanted to do this, so we planned it and had delicious oven-baked nachos while watching the movie, Nacho Libre. We all had a really good time. It amazes me how sometimes the simplest things can make a world of difference. I regret not taking a picture. After such a good time, Ashkia and Kellie both want to go to Zion National Park, and we tentatively marked February 28-29th to visit.
The Utah Tech conference, Silicon Slopes. was held on Thursday and Friday. A few execs at my company bought passes ($200 each) and went on Thursday. They had no interest in going on Friday, so at 3 pm, Glenn Daniels, Tanner Litchfield, and I went for the end. We walked around checking out some of the booths, which were already packing up, and visited the insane arcade area where professional videogamers were battling it out on all sorts of games. The fluorescent lights, rapidly moving games, and vibrant announcers were enough to induce a headache in minutes.
The conference was in the Salt Lake Convention Center, and the arcade area took up an entire hall. There was the main game going on in the center, and being broadcast, while countless smaller games were happening on the sides.
Here is the main contest, with video and announcers on both sides.
We left the arcade area to go see the conference keynote, where Mark Zuckerburg did a Q+A. He did a great job, and his answers showed a lot of thought, vision, and sincerity I didn’t expect. I left not disliking him, even a little bit of a fan. While his answers were logical and well-reasoned, he didn’t/couldn’t play to the crowd at all (about 10,000 people crammed into the conference hall) and communication/connection is obviously a struggle for him (ergo why he invented Facebook in the first place).
Me and Glenn. He drove us up. Both Tanner and Glenn have been good friends at work.
I also enjoyed hearing from a few of the tech pioneers in the area. They have done an absolutely incredible job building a community where no one views it as a zero-sum game, and everyone is helping their neighbor succeed in business. The camaraderie is inspiring. While I won’t be part of the scene much longer, I do believe that there is something special happening with Utah tech.
Watching the masses exit at the conclusion of the Q+A.
About 10 1/2 years ago, in early July 2009, I went on a trek with the Boston Stake. Of course, I didn’t want to go. Begged not to. I’m so glad my parents made sure I did. I recall walking about 24 miles over the three days. Camping out two nights. Getting to know the other people in my little “family,” the 7-8 other youth and adult “ma” and “pa” there watching over us and helping direct. We were (somewhat) dressed as pioneers would be, as they crossed the plains by handcart between roughly 1847-1856.
The entire trek was wonderful, and an experience I’ll never forget. I am very thankful, that while Tanner and my Mom and Dad, were in a different handcart, they were still on the trip.
All that being said, the reason I remember it, and think of it as being so formative, is because of what happened the very last day. We only had around three miles to go. It would be a short day, and at lunchtime, we’d make it to the finishing area and meet family members for a big lunch.
We re-enacted the Sweetwater River crossing. After everyone made it to the other side, we had a testimony meeting. I can still remember vividly sitting there thinking, “this is what the Holy Spirit feels like.” The Spirit was incredibly strong. I was crying listening to these youth talk about what they knew to be true and talk about their experiences the last few days. I remember thinking, this is how I want to feel all the time.
We might not feel like pioneers, but we can live like them. I think the key to their ultimate success, is their willingness to sacrifice. They gave up so much to follow God. Years later, when someone was criticizing the Willie and Martin Handcart companies, an old man stood up and shared his experience. This is what he said:
“I ask you to stop this criticism. You are discussing a matter you know nothing about. Cold historic facts … give no proper interpretation of the questions involved. Mistake to send the Handcart Company out so late in the season? Yes. But I was in that company and my wife … too. We suffered beyond anything you can imagine and many died of exposure and starvation, but … we became acquainted with [God] in our extrem[i]ties.
“I have pulled my handcart when I was so weak and weary from illness and lack of food that I could hardly put one foot ahead of the other. I have looked ahead and seen a patch of sand or a hill slope and I have said, I can go that far and there I must give up, for I cannot pull the load through it. … I have gone on to that sand and when I reached it, the cart began pushing me. I have looked back many times to see who was pushing my cart, but my eyes saw no one. I knew then that the angels of God were there.
“Was I sorry that I chose to come by handcart? No. Neither then nor any minute of my life since. The price we paid to become acquainted with God was a privilege to pay, and I am thankful that I was privileged to come in the Martin Handcart Company”
Let us not shun tribulation. Usually, it is in our extremities, our times of trial that we do come to know God.