July 28 – September 26: Do you hear the people sing?

“Do you hear the people sing?
Singing a song of angry men?
It is the music of a people
Who will not be slaves again”

First, the quote of the week. Talking with Breyer on the phone, listening to her talk about one of her favorite subjects, the names of her future children, she said:

Breyer: “If I had 26 kids, I’d name each of them after a letter of the alphabet.”

Me: “That’s a lot of kids!”

Breyer: “And a lot of fun!”

It’s been a crazy two months. Hopefully from now on, now that I’ve “caught up,” things will be more consistent for the next few months. Here are some highlights. Soap opera highlights just to clarify.

Right after getting back from Texas, I invited Emmalyn (Annemarie’s sister) over for a fun group activity. And she let me know that she was quarantining and had tested positive for Covid. I think that was the first person I personally know who received a positive result. That list has since grown considerably. At the time, it served to dutifully remind me of the precautions that must be taken. After she was released from her quarantine, we have been able to have some fun activities together and it’s been getting to know her better. She held a small birthday gathering at Vivian Park, and Porter and I went and enjoyed the fire, seeing so many stars, and feeling the cold night air of the canyons ever so slightly hinting at a fall quickly approaching. Emmalyn’s roommate, Sarae, and I chatted it up quite a bit and skipping forward ended up going on a date. We hiked Buffalo Peak for the sunset with Dillon and his girlfriend Brooke.

The date went pretty bad, and I was surprised how difficult it was to converse. I guess something must have changed as before it was super easy to talk to Sarae and be with her. Previous to our date, Emmalynn, Sarae, and their roommate Natalie, had come over for a dinner in my backyard and the date experience was a complete 180* from our previous interactions. I shrugged my shoulders and wasn’t upset or concerned, and thought oh well, at least it seems like Dillon at least is having a great time. This is a minor episode that is important for two reasons. First, turns out I was completely wrong, and Dillon and Brooke were not having a good time. After we left, she told him she needed a break and asked him not to text or call her for 10 days so she could have some time to think about their relationship. Completely surprised Dillon as well. The 10 days came and went, landing on a Tuesday, and she asked to meet up with him and talk on Thursday. Dillon could see the writing on the wall, so he sent Reigen and me a text,

“Yo I’m getting dumped Thursday. Hot tub?”

One of the most amusing messages I’ve ever received. So we went Thursday and heard how Brooke didn’t want to talk at his house, so he hopped in her car and she brought him to the temple, even though that’s the place people normally get engaged at. Not dumped. He related how she shared all her thoughts, and knowing what the result would be, was just tapping his foot waiting for the tub. Of course, even the thinnest pancake has two sides and I’m not trying to make her out to be the villain. I thought she was very nice, just not the right time for them to be together and am sharing because 1). I think it’s a hilarious story. 2). The boys are back together again. We’ve since had some more time at the tubs, the gym, and eating ribs. Good times!

Backtracking, the second important thing that happened as a ripple effect from meeting Sarae was messaging J. If we’re only using initials, that’s a pretty good sign. J. and I had communicated briefly over facebook while I was working on selling a housing contract. Next thing I know, we’re talking about a whole lot more than housing. Before the hike with Sarae, I had invited her to go watch Emmalynn perform in the play “The Music Man.” She couldn’t go, but said she’d love to go on a date a different night, which is what led us to Buffalo Peak.

I am a fan of the Music Man, and wanted to go see it regardless. So I asked J. She likewise couldn’t go, and said she’d be up in SLC for the next two weeks, but said “don’t forget me.” Two weeks came and passed, and I didn’t forget, but I also had just started school and didn’t really want to take a flyer and go on a date with someone I hadn’t met in person yet with so much other other things happening. But then two days later she messaged me, wondering what happened. Which led to a date, that turned out to be very, very fun. I (tried) painting a picture of her, and she did a great portrait of me.

Our second date was a hike up Battle Creek Falls. We passed the waterfall, which is where I planned on stopping as do most of the hikers, and kept going up the trail. And it was absolutely stunning. I loved seeing the fall colors, and we were surrounded. I’ve heard that the fires in the area and even the smoke from California have caused the leaves to turn colors a few weeks before normal, and we were blessed by that.

She is fairly direct, and our first date, asked suddenly who I was going to vote for in the upcoming Presidential election. So on our hike, I wasn’t caught too off guard when she suddenly asked how many kids I wanted. I responded with my usual line of, “well, I think it’s more up to the wife…but I think 8 is a great number to start with.” Generally, that’s the part that together with any mention of wanting to live on a farm in the future, causes my dates to cross me off mentally, so I understood the risks. You can imagine my surprise when she responded with admiration, noting how many of the guys she goes on dates with always say only 1 or 2 kids. And then added that she thinks 10 is a good place to start. Lest you think this is a crazy idea, she is the 11th of 13 kids, so she knows much better than I do what such a large family entails.

That’s a very long way of saying I have been constantly surprised and impressed by so many things, this just being one example of how our life goals seem to match quite well. In terms of love of God, love of Family, and love of Country, our priorities are very much aligned. We left the hike and went to Taco Amigo, which has incredible fresh peach shakes. I actually heard about them on LinkedIn from a connection, and have been wanting to try them out. For any one in the area, they are expensive at $14 total for our two medium shakes (which are quite big), but I’d give them a 10/10. We parked in a nearby parking lot, talked more, ate our shakes and then finally made it back to her house.

She also shared a poem that she wrote about her semester studying in Jerusalem. So logically the only thing to do was write a poem and share it with her. I’ve never been good with verse, but I think it was just because I hadn’t been inspired. Turned out quite good in my opinion, being very complimentary and humorous. Titled, “Pumpkin Bread in Autumn,” I brought that over with a fresh loaf of Pumpkin Bread today. I’ve been called bold, but I was a little nervous reading it aloud, and am happy to say that we have another date planned for Tuesday. Is my excitement only a matter of youthful over-exuberance? Perhaps. Perhaps not. Time shall tell…

Now that the important stuff has been noted, I’ll add that I’ve switched houses. I am living one block east of where I was. It’s in a little duplex and not nearly as spacious as my previous residence. I am rooming with my friend David Kaiser, and then two other people we met upon moving in, Jayson and Tanner. They are both gamers and keep to themselves to an insane degree, but David and I have been having a great time and enjoying our new ward and having fun adventures. The most hilarious thing happened one of our first housewarming events, right after we moved in, when I invited an apartment of 6 girls over for pizza. It was a spur of the moment decision one Sunday, yet I thought that surely we could make pizzas no problem. David and I had been given two giant bags of shredded mozzarella cheese, about 5lbs each. They were clear bags labelled only with an expiration date on them, and had been stored in the freezer until this moment, when we figured we’d put them to use. Additionally, I had a 32oz bag of mozzarella cheese already opened I needed to finish off. I made two pizzas for Tanmarie, delivered those, and then rushed back. 5 of the girls showed up, and David and Porter were keeping them company. I quickly threw together a few pizzas. I finished off the smaller mozzarella bag, having just enough for one more pizza. Then, I used the larger bags for the rest of the pizzas. They came out of the oven, and we all excitedly took a bite. Of course, Porter and David had spent part of the last 10-15 minutes extolling my pizza making virtues. In a moment of luck, for which I shall be forever grateful for, the girls and Porter started eating the first pizza, while David and I went for one of the other ones. The first bite was funky, and the cheese didn’t look melted which was strange, but I went ahead and took a second bite. My oh my. After that second mouthful, I looked at David, who had just taken his second bite, and we both started laughing.

The big bags of mozzarella cheese were not bags of cheese at all. WE JUST PUT HASHBROWNS ON OUR PIZZA!!!! It was a hilarious moment, and I felt bad for not having much food, but the girls all thought it was hilarious as well, and we’ve all shared many good laughs and become good friends. A lunch that shall never, ever, ever, be forgotten!

One other activity I’ll share happened a few weeks later, when David and I decided to host a party outdoors at Kiwanis Park entitled, “Be wise, Eat fries, Meet Nice Guys.” We invited everyone in the ward, and advertised unlimited french fries with some outdoor games. We bought 30+ pounds of potatoes, some sweet potatoes, 10 lbs. of apples, and had lots of sauces. The first batch of fries cooked quickly. Unfortunately, what we didn’t realize was how each successive batch took longer. We ended up cooking about 20 pounds of fries, only had time bake 4-5 pounds of sweet potato fries, and our visions of delicious apple cinnamon fries came to naught. We quickly cut them up into simple slices, threw in a bowl of watermelon slices, and called it good. Everything was eaten, and some 45-50 people from the ward showed up, exceeding our expectations and providing a great venue to meet new people.

Of course, now that I’m in a new ward, the 101st, it means I’ve left my old one, the 92nd. My first week back from Texas, I showed up and Bishop Miner also appeared. He had been in quarantine due to his age for several months, so that was a surprise. Until the stake president also showed up and it all made sense. Bishop Miner was released, and a new Bishop, Bishop Myers, called. Talking with Bishop Miner after the meeting was one of the most meaningful moments I’ve had this summer, this year, or even since living in Utah. Serving with him has been a life-changing experience with many blessings and lessons learned. He expressed his sincerest gratitude for what I’ve done, and due to Covid, we had to remain 6 feet apart, which felt completely inadequate. And as we bid each other farewell, our eyes locked as I began to walk off. We couldn’t shake hands, to say nothing of a hug, and I struggled to make sense of the whole experience until a few days later when we read Canto 26 from Dante’s Purgatorio in book club: 

“Hearing my father [figure] and the father of others

My betters and whoever has come to use

Sweet graceful rhymes of love say his own name,

 

And without hearing or speaking I walked on

A long way, thoughtful, gazing at him, 

But because of the fire went no closer.

 

When my sight had feasted enough upon him

I offered my whole self at once to his service

With that earnestness that makes others believe.

 

And he to me, “You leave a mark so deep, 

Through what I hear, and see clearly, in me

That Lethe cannot wash  it out nor fade it.”

I had been debating whether or not to move, and the departure of Bishop Miner helped push me towards a new location. It seemed like an appropriate time for a new beginning. The new Bishop seems wonderful and I’m confident that the ward will be wonderful there. The one aspect that did make me want to stay was the calling of Mike Reid, former PGA tour golfer, as second counselor in the bishopric. The few weeks that I was there, I was amazed by his humility. He joined the church after coming to BYU to play golf for their team, and is an example of someone who is dedicated to the gospel and helping others. He shared lots of funny stories about BYU stories, lots about Steve Young, as they are very good friends. My favorite, whether apocryphal or not, involved Steve Young trying to bring the team down the field for a game-winning score. He wasn’t super famous yet, and had been put into the game after Joe Montana went down with a minor injury. When he got into the game, one of the field judges pulled him aside and told him that his daughter was currently at BYU. Steve Young thought, ok, that’s great, but I’m trying to win the game here. So he runs off to the huddle, and they run a quick play. Then the judge motions him over again, so Young runs over, rolling his eyes, and the judge says, “She’s a student at BYU Law school, just like you are!” Sort of annoyed at this point, Steve hustles back, and runs another play. The succeeding play, saw him get hammered as he threw the football, resulting in an interception and sealing the end of the game. Steve had been in the league long enough to know when a hit was clean, and he thought the defense had done everything right and there was nothing to complain about. Except then, as he’s getting off the ground, he notices a flag, and the friendly ref announces that the hit was roughing the passer, which meant the play didn’t count, and the 49ers would have another shot to keep playing and win the game. This time, Steve ran over to the judge, confused, and letting him know that he thought the hit was clean and wondering why it was called. The ref held his hand up and said, “This is her name, here’s her number.” This time, Young got the message, and when he was back in Utah, they were able to go on some dates.

For what it’s worth, Reid tried to set me up with his niece, but I haven’t been able to get him out on the links yet. Stay tuned. I’m hoping we can play one round together.

Talking about which, my commercial lender contact, Kevin Ford, has come in clutch, and the last two weeks, he’s had me out for four! free rounds at Sleepy Ridge. It’s been amazing, and my game is looking better.

I also started up a law student golf group, and have gone out a few times with them.

Talk about a dream foursome. Trevor Furner, Tanner, and Avery Benesch.

Couple closing thoughts from August: (chronologically this letter is a mess)

On my way to the grocery store one day, I saw Will Hamilton walking along the sidewalk. He’s a good friend from Crestwood, and I quickly pulled over. He ended up accompanying me to the store, and we formulated a plan to have a small pool party and bbq that saturday. Brian Crane came down from Boise, and Carson visited from Logan. There was also a couple friends still at the Crestwood who joined us, and we had a good time. After, Carson, Rachel Arnold and I decided to hot tub jump, and went and visited three places in Provo. I ended up going to the Crestwood Ward the next day on Sunday, and loved seeing Bishop McKell and Brother Tronson again. I’ve been back for an fhe too, and just can’t quite seem to say goodbye.

Before starting to go out with J., I went on a few dates with Rachel N. She is a teacher from Arizona, and after our first date, she invited me over and we made zucchini bread together. That was my first time trying that, and we’ve got a good recipe now.

When I first returned from Texas, my roommate Logan was preparing to be married in only a few days. It was interesting to see the very end of that process. He’s been a good roommate. Also of note, our other roommate, Tyler, proposed to his girlfriend Eliza. I’ve been there since the start of their relationship last year, and its been quite the process. I’m very happy for them, and they will be getting married end of November.

i love D&C 3:1. It says,

“The works and the designs, and the purposes of God cannot be frustrated, neither can they come to naught.”

The days come and go. Pandemics come and go. Trials come and go. The path to happiness and peace will always be there regardless of what happens. As we walk the gospel path, we will have happiness and peace and will help fulfill God’s purposes, and the plan that He has for each and every one of us.

One thought on “July 28 – September 26: Do you hear the people sing?”

  1. Hunter, I truly enjoyed your updates and laughed at the hash brown pizza. Most of all, I loved your closing remarks. Yes, trials do pass and there are great things ahead. You have a wonderful, hopeful vision of the future (very much like the messages we heard at conference this weekend). Please keep smiling and enjoying your amazing life.

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