Rachael and I attended orientation for her college this last weekend. I can’t believe my baby is all grown up! There are students from 45 states and 15 countries – so quite diverse. As I was walking to a class I met a lady from New Jersey who comments, “Everyone is so happy and nice here! I need to learn about the religion here in Utah!” I told her I was a Mormon and she exclaimed “You mean I am talking to a real live Mormon!” We had a great conversation and hopefully some of her questions got answered. Since she was staying right by the Salt Lake Temple I encouraged her to visit the grounds, maybe talk to the missionaries and attend the Spoken Word on Sunday. I was thankful to have had the opportunity to talk to her because it made me realize that as someone who believes in the gospel of Jesus Christ and His mission I have a lot to be happy about. And it was fun to talk to a new friend about my beliefs.
Here is a portion of Nathan’s email: “This next week is going to be awesome. I guess mostly just Saturday. At 2, B… is getting baptized and right from the baptismal service we will head to my exit interview. And then Elder Burgoyne and I are having a last supper at Texas Roadhouse. And then Sunday night, we are having dinner with Scott and Emily Paradis, the couple whose Sealing I went to last October. It should be awesome!”
He also talks about some of the things he would like to do next week. He seems excited and I am super excited! He will be speaking in the Bountiful 17th Ward (our old ward) on the 31st at 11 am and in the Val Verda 4th Ward (our new ward) the same day at 1 pm. Is that mean or what? I know Nathan would love to see and talk to all of you so please come! We will be having lunch at our house around 2:30 – let me know if you need our new address.
I saw a quote on Facebook the other day that I really like: Looking behind I am filled with gratitude. Looking forward I am filled with vision. Looking upwards I am filled with strength. Looking within I discover peace.” Q’ero Indians As I pondered this I realized that as I look back over the last 2 years I am so grateful for the experiences Nathan has had and the blessings my family has received. There is so much to look forward to in the next few weeks and months. I have found strength as my faith in a loving Heavenly Father has increased. And as I have thought about what I really believe I have discovered peace. What a blessing it has been to have Nathan serve a mission! Only one more email from my missionary son!
“B… (the guy from last week) somehow found out I go home soon and wants to get baptized before I go home! He asked if I would baptize him so it looks like a picture perfect ending coming up. . . We are kind of teaching this kid and the last time during our lesson there was a knock at his door – it was a girl there to buy marijuana! He told her “I’m doing church – I will come by your place later!” It was pretty funny – he was trying to run a drug deal in the middle of our lesson.”
I saw in the news this morning that BYU once again was awarded the “stone-cold sober” title by The Princeton Review for the 17th straight year. Brigham Young University was proud enough to post this on Facebook:
It seems that people might not know what Mormons believe but they do know that Mormons don’t drink alcohol. A few years one of John’s clients was in town on business and invited me to join their group for dinner. It was a hot day and the Fresh Limeade that was offered sounded great. But when I took a sip I knew it contained alcohol. What a dilemma! A few people left the table to go to the salad bar but I stayed in my chair trying to decide what to do. Randy (the client) saved me by saying “You didn’t know it was an alcoholic drink, did you?” No, I did not! He suggested that I give it to him and proceeded to order me another one – this one without the alcohol. Little did I know that a stranger to me knew I was Mormon, that I didn’t drink and was watching to see what I would do. Sometimes being a Mormon explains things.
“We have an investigator who is 31 which is the kick-out age of the YSA but he lives with a member of our ward and may be leaving when he is done with school so we decided not to send him to the family ward. He is the kind of guy you would picture having a Harley and an old beat up truck – because he does. He has hair that is just below his shoulders and a pretty thick beard. He loves having the whole biker guy image. He is one of the nicest, best people I know. Our ward had a camp out this weekend (we didn’t go) but he was able to go. There is a girl who has to have a walker because of a health problem and when they went on a hike he helped her into the bed of his truck and drove 3 mph along the road so she could go with everyone on the hike. Just a great guy. We had a lesson with him and talked about baptism and God’s standards and he is completely willing to turn his life around to be part of the church. He says he has never seen people so in tune with the Spirit as Mormons. Also on the hike some other hikers complained about the noise the ward was making and told them to watch the alcohol consumption and he “we don’t drink – we’re a bunch of Mormons.” I got a kick out of that.”
“What a crazy start to the day! First of all, Sunday nights – calling a bunch of missionaries and getting their report – and then on Monday mornings we email those reports in before 6:30. Today we had a zone hike. We asked the sisters what they wanted to do for a zone activity and they wanted to go hiking. So we told everyone to be there by 5:45 to start. 4 companionships didn’t have rides so we dropped our roommates off at the trailhead 40 minutes early, drove to pick up 2 elders, dropped one of them off with another car and went to pick up 2 more. Keep in mind that most of these companionships live fairly spread out and we have pretty strict mileage limitations. We have enough miles to do about 43 a day and we ended up doing 42 before 8 am. But the hike was great – it has a cool view of downtown Phoenix. So I plan on taking a nap today and we are going to go play some basketball. Something cool that happened this week is that we have been teaching this guy and he is scheduled to be baptized August 16th. I am really glad that I will be here to see it before I go home.”
I used to read a book to my children that took on new meaning as they got older – “The Berenstain Bears and Too Much Pressure.” It is basically a story about the crazy schedule of the Bear family. So crazy that Mama Bear has a nightmare that her calendar turned into a flying carpet as she tries to get everyone where they need to be. I have felt that way over the years; waking up wondering how I am going to be in 2 places at the same time. And yet when I think back to those times, it is with fondness. I would not give up the soccer and baseball games or any of the other activities that kept me flying from one place to another. I agree with Ralph Waldo Emerson: “To fill the hour – that is happiness.”
There has been some discussion in our house about what movies Nathan might like to watch when he gets home. How To Train Your Dragon II and Frozen of course are at the top of the list, but one I thought about Nathan while I was watching it is 42: The Jackie Robinson Story. Without giving anything away for those of you who haven’t seen it: I love the story of how one man’s actions made such a difference and he did so in a quiet manner. I think this quote from Jackie Robinson says it all: “The measure of a life is not what that life accomplishes but rather the impact that life has on others.”
Last week I asked Nathan what he most wanted to take home from his mission. Here is what he had to say: “We had lessons set up last night and we had a member come out with us from 5 – 9 pm. It was a huge commitment. This guy is getting married in 2 1/2 weeks and his father just passed away a few months ago. He is one of my favorite people in the ward – his name is Aaron. He is really humble and soft-spoken. . . I think that is what I like about the singles ward 0 that I can see returned missionaries and it is pretty easy to tell how much their mission affected them. It definitely helps create a better vision for myself. Aaron and his home teaching companion invited us to dinner with them and this girl from the ward. She is one of the older members of the ward but when we were having dinner they were just treating her like they would any of their friends . . . I am sure it went a long way for her. Mom asked what I wanted to take home from my mission – I think just that focus on individual people. I think that is for sure the most valuable thing I have learned is how much it means to someone when they know you care.”
When I think about the people who have the biggest impact on me, it wasn’t their accomplishments that guided and directed me. It was the belief they had in me. They let me know through words and actions that I mattered to them. Jesus Christ is our greatest example. He was surrounded by multitudes and spoke to thousands but he cared for each individual. We might not all be Jackie Robinsons but we can make a difference – even if it is to one person.
John and I had the opportunity to attend President and Sister Taylor’s ward last Sunday when they reported on their mission. Not only were we able to talk to them but we also met several of Nathan’s companions. Definitely worth the drive there – although I had some serious doubts standing in line for 2 hours to talk to the Taylors! (lots of Return Misionaries) It was interesting to meet people who have had such a huge impact on Nathan. In his email this week, Nathan quoted President Taylor “50% is a decent shooting average in basketball, it is phenomenal in baseball, but when it comes to salvation we need to do a little better than that.”
And speaking of coming home – this was the last transfer week of Nathan’s mission. As predicted, he is staying in the YSA ward. I can’t and shouldn’t speak for Nathan, but this might be one of his favorite areas he has served in (but I think he says that about every area). “I definitely love this ward and am glad I have gotten to stay here for this long. Side note: for FHE last night they had a food fight, and it rained. They brought baked beans, tomato sauce, pies, flower, chocolate syrup, and all kinds of food and put it all on a tarp outside. It looked like so much fun. I was kind of sad we aren’t able to participate.”
And Nathan’s funny experience of the week: “… a member who got baptized a couple of years ago asked us to come and teach her friend, we go over there and we ask her friend why she decided to meet with us and it turns out that N… had extended the invitation to meet with the missionaries while her friend was drunk, and being a little bit tipsy, she agreed. That was a pretty weird start to a lesson.”
The Taylors are already busy with family and friends, new callings and work. I am reminded of a quote I saw recently “Every story has an end, but in life every end is a new beginning.” Nathan probably has mixed emotions about ending the way he has lived for the last 2 years. But he is probably just as excited to begin a new phrase.
Ever heard of a haboob? Well, last summer I learned that Phoenix not only has extremely hot summer days it also has a monsoon season. And sometimes during that season there is a haboob. According to Wikipedia “A haboob is an actual meteorological phenomena that occurs during the monsoon season across the southwestern United States. Haboobs are characterized by a wall of blowing dust and dirt that typically form from the outflow of a strong shower or thunderstorm. Similar to a dust storm, haboobs can cause a rapid drop in visibility down to near 0 miles in a matter of a few minutes or even less.” I am not sure if the dust storm that hit Phoenix last week is a true haboob but here is what it looked like:
In Nathan’s words “it was insane.” That happened on July 3rd. But you will be happy to hear that on July 4th at least some of the Elders in the Phoenix area celebrated by grilling up some steaks. Glad to hear it didn’t disrupt any plans.
Rachael has spent the last few weeks in Guatemala on a humanitarian project. As John and I waited for her in the airport we wondered how the reunion would be – would she be happy to see us or would it be one of those roll the eyes at the parents moments? And that begged the question of how the reunion would be with Nathan – next month! Would he be happy to see us or would he give into the urge to run back to the plane? Since Rachael’s plane was late we had some agonizing moments to consider both of these questions. We came up with several possibilities. So we were relieved when Rachael – although she didn’t run into our arms – did have a big smile on her face as she came up and gave us a hug. One down, one to go.