Letters from Mom: July/August 2013

July 30, 2013

Dear Henry,

This is letter numero uno. You've been gone about 2.5 hours now and are probably just taking off for Houston from Salt Lake on your way to Mexico City. I haven't cried yet, and I wonder if that makes me a bad mother! hahahaha No, I just feel a tremendous peace and happiness right now.  You're so ready, and so excited, and so happy to be FINALLY beginning this adventure in your life that I can't cry!  I'm still beaming!  Oh, I'll probably cry at weird times and places - at a football game or the Russet Olympics or at the school play... times when it will seem completely inappropriate as opposed to crying at the airport when it's expected.  Ah well.  :D  I'm just so happy for you and proud of you and grateful that I've had the opportunity to help Heavenly Father as your mom to prepare you for the work He wants you to do in Chile and in your life. I have full and absolute confidence in you, my son, and I know that Heavenly Father does, too.   You I love.


This is the photo that Elder Hill's dad sent from the SLC airport (Elder Hill is going to Chile Concepcion South).  That was a great kindness, for him to send this little token to me - thanks for your portion of that tender mercy.  :-*

August 4, 2013

Hello, my darling!

I hope you're doing well, and I trust that you are.  You're alive, you're eating, you're sleeping... what more can anyone ask?  :D  I am excited to get your letter and hear about your first week as a missionary: your companion, classes, apartment, district, activities, food, etc.  And any pictures you can tag along with will be super great!  

So, things here on the ranch have been busy as always.  Janie and I went school clothes shopping on Tuesday, just a few hours after you left (I thought it would be a good distraction, and it was.... Janie can be very distracting - in a good way).  I know it is hard for you to imagine that we shopped for 5 hours, but we had a great time.  We did a lot of laughing in the dressing room trying on clothes and finding outfits that we just... no bueno.  It was a good time.  Janie is growing right up.  She wanted heels, and I was NOT about to letter her get the 4 inch stilletos she was eyeing but we did find some low heeled shoes and she was ecstatic.  She is such a cutie, such a girl, and such a teenager!  I love her so much.

 As per tradition, we went to lunch on the shopping day.  Janie chose Chick-Fil-A and what should appear but four missionaries... and then eight... and then twelve... 

A whole district of missionaries came into Chick-Fil-A while we were there!  They were in town for a district meeting.  The great thing is that it didn't make me cry.  It made me so excited thinking that you were on your way to your first district and that you would one day be joining two dozen  other missionaries in a meeting about how to improve the work in your district.  It was super great.  Me being me, I had to talk to the group sitting next to us and ask why there were so many there, I told them about you leaving just hours earlier, and then I took a photo.  In retrospect, I wish I had asked for their parents cell numbers and texted them this photo, like Elder Hill's dad did for us (that was super great!), but I'll be more savvy next time.  ;)

I spent Wednesday shopping with Meg (3.5 hours - she got some really great stuff, and I think we found a style that is feminine without being girly that she really likes and looks super good in - she is super adorable... toats adorbs!) and Thursday shopping with Sam (90 minutes and only two stores- gotta love shopping with boys!  He even branched out and got some v necks and button downs.... WOW!  Not a single long-sleeved tee!).  So, we are all decked out and ready for the school year, which is good since they register THIS WEEK!  Aaaaaaahhhhhh!   On that note, please make Sam a particular part of your prayers this month.  He is really freaked out about going back to school.  I can understand why, since his most recent memories of school were NOT great, but at least he acknowledges that he needs to go back and is willing to do so.  We are fasting and praying that his schedule will work out to be challenging enough without being overwhelming and that he'll be directed to teachers/classmates that will be positive.  I don't think he'll have too many issues socially.  Everyone will be so consumed with themselves and with looking good and fitting in that I'm guessing hardly anyone will acknowledge that he was gone (and why), so it's really the classroom dynamics that I'm hoping will work well for him.  If he ever needed to have a "best year in high school" this is the one! So if you could include those things in your prayers, that would be most appreciated.  Of course, we hope Janie and Meg are also directed to positive classroom dynamics and have teachers they can get along with, but I feel it's most crucial for Sam, at this time anyway, to have a positive school experience in order to keep that forward momentum.  

I hope I don't sound like "it's all about Sam."  That is not my intent.  He's just really anxious and it's kind of thrown him backward a few steps, kind of put him in a bit of a downward spiral.  

It should be an exciting couple of week at this house:  registration, soccer tryouts, first day of school.... I can't wait to send you some photos.  :)  I hope Meg and Sam make the soccer teams this year - that would be so fun to follow the soccer teams around!  I think they both have good chances, but we'll see.  Only time will tell.

Dad still hasn't heard anything about the new job, but I guess others who've dealt with HR say that isn't surprising at all.  So I guess time will tell.  We're grateful that he still has a job, and that his job is flexible and good to him.  I'm grateful for my job, too.  I'm nervous about going back to school also since my only point of reference for teaching was last year... and it wasn't so great.  BUT I am approaching this year with more planning and with some experience that I didn't have last year, so I'm hoping all will be well.  Once again... only time will tell.  I plan to be a little more assertive, to stand up for myself a little better, and to take care of myself a little better so I don't get so burnt out.  Dad is so great to help me in all of those areas - he is the best man I know. 

So, I guess that's it for this week.  Grandma is doing better - moving a little better.  She still has alot of pain, but they did saw off the ends of a couple of bones, so what can you expect, right?  I saw Garrett today, and he seems excited/ready to be taking off on Thursday.  I think the transition might be more difficult for Monica because Garrett has been home all summer.  As much as I missed you while you were in Wyoming all summer long, it made watching you fly away some degree easier... I was already used to you not being around, I guess!  We delivered your box to Blondie on Tuesday on our way home from the marathon shopping trip.  She was excited to receive it.  She asked if it was appropriate for her to write to you, and I told her that I hadn't heard or read anything that said she couldn't and gave her my whole-hearted approval.   I hope that's still OK.  I know that there are some missions where girlfriends are asked NOT to write to their missionaries but once every couple of months.  That was the direction Lynettie got when her high school sweetheart left for his mission (this was all pre-Bailey).   So... yeah.

OK.  Enough.  That has been the most difficult part of your being gone this week.  I want to send you a text and ask you a question or tell you something funny that happened, and I feel a little lonely that I won't get that weekly phone call/Skype time with you.  BUT it's all good.  It's a small sacrifice in comparison and I'm willing to make it.  So, I will be grateful for your emails and photos.  

YOU I LOVE!  You're always in our prayers and we're working to be more missionary minded as well, looking for missionary opportunities.  We want to make you proud.  :D  Be safe, my love.


August 15, 2013

Well, good morning, darling!  We look forward to hearing from you later on today.  I hope it has been a good week for you, that you're eating well enough to stay healthy, that you finally figured out the ATM (I called the bank and all is well on this end with $95 on your card currently), that you still like Elder Mangum, etc. etc.  We loved your last letter and all the photos.  It sounds like you've been positive and hard working - all essential ingredients in a successful missionary.  :)

So.... it's the first day of school.  Janie has had her outfit picked out for a week and her hairstyle picked out for three days.  She is very excited about making her first appearance as an 8th grader.  I've reminded her that she can focus on her appearance all she wants this morning, but when she walks out the door she needs to forget about herself and concentrate on others.  She's pretty nervous about being the president.  Principal Mike Messick, who is going to be SOOOOOO amazing at Hobbs, spoke to Janie at registration about looking for ways to improve the school and help kids feel more involved and engaged.  She looked at him like he'd just asked her to speak in General Conference.  It will be interesting to see how this unexpected responsibility shapes her this year.  Dad gave your siblings Father's Blessings last night, and He spoke a lot to Janie and her talents and abilities to do well as Student Body President and to care for and help others.  It was really lovely.  She is just growing right up.  She can still be a frivolous and shallow little girl, but she is growing into herself and becoming a really sweet young lady.  

Meg made the soccer team.  She's going to play keeper.  Coach Gregory was really impressed with her and told her that he "sees a lot of potential" in her and expects great things from her in the soccer program.  She's fast and pretty fearless, which is good because she isn't that tall!  But, she is about the same height as Kristy Gulbransen who played keeper for Shelley for several years.  I think she's going to pass me up in height in the next year or two (and Janie won't be far behind).  It's extra great because she has a future in soccer that she didn't really have with volleyball, plus soccer is such a better workout than volleyball!  Meg came home from tryouts sore all over - they had two-a-day tryouts, and she was walking like an old woman by the second day.  She'll be much more prepared for basketball - her one true love - when the time comes.  She's pretty stoked to be a Freshman.  I wonder if that excitement will change at all after today, after her first few 90 minute classes and trying to negotiate the hall with giant Juniors and Seniors.  hahahaha  

Sam also made the soccer team, which is extra great.  We're looking forward to going to one place at one time to watch two kids play their sport instead of three different places at three different times on three different days.  hahahaha  Sam's pretty nervous about going back to school, his most recent experience being pretty crappy, but he consented to receiving a Father's Blessing from Dad last night, and it was really great.  Heavenly Father promised him that his mental acuity would return and he'd be able to learn and remember like he had before.   He also promised him that he'd be able find those "nuggets of truth" as he attends seminary that would enlighten his mind, help him to feel the Spirit, and bring him to conversion.  Yes, you heard me correctly - Sam consented to take seminary.  At first, he didn't want to and didn't sign up, which I didn't like but was just so glad he wasn't putting up too much of a fight going back to school in general that I wimped out on fighting that battle.  But I hated it... it felt so wrong.  Talking to Brother Pullins gave me some courage and on Monday  I simply invited Sam to take Seminary... and he said, "Sure."  So Brother P made sure he was in a class with Kolby so he has someone to walk over with.  (Kolby made the soccer team, too).  It's looking good... we'll see what the day holds, but there are lots of reasons to be positive.  

Thank you for your prayers in our behalf.  We've felt their effects - thanks, love.

It has been a crazy week for me.  I've put in some really long hours trying to get ready.  I thought I was more ready than I apparently am.  Well, I'd be alot more ready if I didn't have to work with other people.  hahahahaha   It's been a typical first week: come to school to prepare, but you'll only have a tiny bit of time to prepare because everyone wants to have  .... or two.... or three.   So you can get an hour or two here or there, but never as much time as you feel you need.  Ah well.  We have new English textbooks this year, which has put most everyone in a panic because it's so new.  Me?  I feel the same way I did at this time last year - it's still all new,so it hasn't thrown me for too much of a loop.  hahahaha  

Dad is finally going to visit Dr. Petty and start allergy shots.  Hooray! It's been, what, two-three years that he's had these little "hot spots?"  I hope he can finally become free of them.  Poor guy!  He continues to be the glue that holds us all together.  I seem to be the engine that keeps us moving (and tends to overheat and threaten to burn out) but Dad is everything else that holds us together.  I love him so, so much.  

OK.  I have to go.  First day of school and all - gotta get dressed so the girls can come in and  invade my bathroom.  hahaha  I'll send pictures next week.  Oh, and we found your charger and are sending a package down.  I was planning to do it everyday this week, but school and soccer tryouts seemed to fill the time while the post was still open.  So, not suprisingly, Dad is going to send it out today via FedEx so it actually gets to you before you have a full beard.  hahaha

Let us know how we can help you.  We are crazy about you and love your freaking guts!

Love from Mom

Spiritual thought from my study this week (that I love and am going to post on my computer wallpaper so I see it every day): "As you love His children, Heavenly Father will guide you, and angels will assist you.  You will be given power to bless lives and rescue souls."  -David L. Beck, April 2013 General Conference.

HOLA! comó estan? quieren una carta en español? hmmmm. sí, pero estará pequeno. Me encanta vida aqui. La obra es perfecto. Yo hablo español casi todo tiempo! es Muuuuy difícil pero, esta bien. buen practica. mi camara es fantastico! muchas gracias! me gusta mucho. Yo tengo más fotos para ustedes hoy! yo quiero saber más a cerca de la escuela! bien? esta un bueno día :) me encanta correo. yo tengo que dar un discoursio en la reunion sacramental en domingo... esta bien. yo puedo. según esta carta, mi español es mejorando. les amo :) nos vemos... en dos años ha

August 18, 2013 (pouch mail)

Hey, big guy!  I don't know if this pouch mail thing will work any better/faster than regular email, but we'll give it a go!  You'll have to let me know when you receive this letter (sent 8/18)).  I hope you're eating well.  Up here in the States, we've heard that there is alot of illness in the CCM due to poor food preparation/conditions.  How are you doing in that regard?  I was planning to send candy and beef jerky (for protein) when I sent your razor charger, but it cost over $70 to send it... just the charger... because they wouldn't let us send any foodstuff.  So that was a major BUMMER!  I hope it will be different in Chile because I've always dreamed of sending care packages to "my missionary."  :)

The first two days of school went pretty good.  Well, the second day of school was way better than the first.  I think Meg was the only one who really liked her first day of school.  Coach J had them dress down and lift... first hour... first day of school.  Only four girls were prepared for that, and Meg was one of them.  He called her "a natural lifter."  She was pretty stoked about that, but not about being sweaty for the rest of the day. Janie's first day was "horrid" because it was just long and boring, but she came home much happier on Friday.  Truth is that we all came home with headaches that first day - we're not "in shape" for long school days yet! 

Sam's first day of school was by far the worst, which made my first day of school a close second in the "worst" category.  He had a meltdown at lunch - crying, talking suicide... it was like we were right back where we'd started all those months ago. There were too many people around, too many people in class, too much going on.  He didn't want to get food because there were too many people in the cafeteria. We talked all through lunch, but when my 3rd hour class started to trickle in, I walked him down to talk to one of the counselors or Mr. Messick.  He talked with Shaun Messick for a while and then talked to Mr. Behunin for a while.  Once I had my class doing something on their own (luckily it was Honors English and they were all super eager to do exactly what I said), I went down to check on him and see how he was doing.  Oh, Henry, my heart broke.  I didn't cry at that time, but I was so heartsick.  I was just praying for Heavenly Father to help us.  Truly, I don't know if I could survive another year with Sam like last year AND teach full time. I thought, "if Sam can't handle school, then I need to quit and be with him full time - home-school him or something.  It's still early in the year.  They can find another teacher, and it's still early enough that the kids won't suffer too much."  By the end of third hour, Sam was calm enough to come and be my TA 4th hour (that is his 4th hour class).  He seemed to be fine through all of that.

On the way home, I told him that I was considering quitting my teaching job to be with him and teach him at home.  He told me that he couldn't ask me to do that, and I told him that he was by far a higher priority to me than the students at SHS.  He said that staying home was what he wanted to do, and he liked the sound of me staying home with him, but he wasn't sure he wanted to do home-school.  This conversation occurred while we were waiting for a new prescription for Sam, one for anxiety.  Sam had had a similar meltdown a few weeks ago and we had called his doctor and asked for something to help Sam with his anxiety.  They called in a prescription, but the nurse warned me that it can make people really sleepy. Well, that's what all that other medication did to him and it crippled his ability to perform well in school, which made him anxious and frustrated and spiraled his depression, etc., etc. until he landed in the state hospital. Those were bad times.  So we were not keen to give him medication that might start THAT whole process again. We'd been encouraging Sam to work out to help deal with the anxiety, something he was already interested in - getting super buff so he could do his parkour stuff.  But it was a struggle to get him to soccer practices/tryouts.  He said he wasn't sure if he wanted to do it because he didn't think the joy of the game was worth the pain of the practices.  We told him how it would help build strength for parkour, but he wanted to take steroids so he could be instantly strong enough for parkour.  Yeah... we had a lot of conversations, going round and round and round the logic and realities... It was a tough two weeks, and then, BAM, the first day of school Sam melts down again.  So, I caved and finally got the medication (Xanax).  I called his soccer coach and told him Sam wasn't feeling well and wouldn't be at practice (Sam wanted to just quit the team then and there).  Then we gave him the first dose that night.  We figured maybe it would help him sleep better if it was going to make him tired anyway.

The next day at school, Sam was still really anxious.  He stayed in my classroom until the tardy bell rang.  We went over some stress relieving techniques that he could do in class - tensing all of his muscles or exhaling slowly... Then I walked with him to Mrs. Dye's class and hoped for the best.  I didn't see him again until lunch... IN the cafeteria eating with a group of friends.  I almost went to check on him, but I thought that he looked alright, so I'd let him go forward.  When I got back to my classroom after lunch, I found a note from Sam that said he was having a great day and that the medicine had helped alot. Wish I had done THAT two weeks earlier!  He went to seminary without complaint, and he went to soccer that night without  issues or complaints, saying that he had a lot more patience now (with the medication) than he did before.  So, the second day of school was BY FAR better than the first! hahahaha  In many ways, I can see that the promises in the Father's Blessing that Dad gave to Sam could come to pass with the aid of this little pill. 

It was exciting to hear about your experience with Elder Scott especially because I had a similar experience in a round about way.  Elder Schweitzer of the Seventy spoke in Stake Conference last week.  He told a story about a stake president who was traveling with Elder Scott and had to share a hotel room for one night of their travels.  The president, after getting ready for bed, knelt and said his prayers and then proceeded to crawl into bed.  Elder Hales asked if he could teach the stake president something that would help his prayers be more effective.  He suggested that he sit in a chair and ponder about the things he wanted to pray about and then write them down.  Then, as he knelt to pray, he should talk about those specific things.  After praying, he should return to the chair, continue to ponder, and then and write down the impressions that he received.  Well, I decided to perform the experiment.  On Monday morning, the day I returned to school, one of the things on my paper was how to help Sam return to the Lord.  I was impressed to speak with Brother Pullins (among other things), and later that day Brother P and I met, talked, and then Sam signed up for seminary!  I've tried it nearly everyday this week, and have started to keep my notes in a journal.  It's been so humbling and wonderful to me to see the workings of the Lord in my life as I record the impressions and answers He gives me. 

Thank you for the pictures and the letters. We love you so, so much!  You're always, always in our thoughts and prayers.  OH!  I need to know if you figured out the ATM thing.  Can you get to your money?  Alright.  That's all for now.  Oh wait, I lied.  One more thing from stake conference.  As a mission president, Elder Schweitzer heard this counsel from a missionary about how to be successful:  Wherever you are-BE THERE!  I loved that.  So, BE THERE! :D

Love from Mom

Siblings! i Hope school is rockin' for you guys! i know that you all have the capabilities to accomplish everything that you have set forth. meg! you can be strong in the face highschool! remember to not let it wear on you! Janie! youre amazing, i hope that you always know that, you can definitly be the president of the eight grade, and you can help kids feel better about them selves and about school. you rock. Sam! you have the power, i know that its a lot to try and cycle through and a lot to try and deal with, but you have the power to make it through. you can definitely do this, you dont have to let schyzophrenia tell you what you can and cant do. define yourself, you always have. keep it up. mom, i know you Are a good teacher, not will be, are. Just be confident, thats the most important part of learning new things, just go forward with faith that you will conquer. thats our purpose on this earth. to conquer in a blaze of glory not to fail, and not to survive. ( Paraphrased from richard G scott 2 days ago.)

August 22, 2013

We've made it one full week so far - one full week of school.  It's been a rocky one.  We just have enjoyed our free time so much this summer that our "super busy people muscles" are pretty flabby and causing soreness and pain!  That's alright.  We're just going through our "40 days and 40 nights in the wilderness."  I'll bet it won't even take that long, the full 6 weeks, before we're in a pace.  So, one week behind us is a good thing!

Dad turned 42 on Tuesday.  I'm afraid it was a crappy birthday for him.  He didn't even get to open a present on his birthday besides a card from Gramma Dixon.  Yeah.  We were pretty big losers in that way.  I had several migraine headaches last week and then was DOWN in bed all day Saturday with some kind of flu, and then there simply wasn't time between doctor's appointments and practices and other things to go shopping.  Some of those "other things" were Sam meltdowns.  I'll tell you what, we are just about at our wits end with that kid.  It seems that when he gets very fatigued he gets set off and goes down into... hell.  And he takes us with him. He starts talking suicide and is belligerent and rude and even a little mean.  And it sucks away hours and hours.  I know, I'm such a whiner.  His main issues are about going to school for some reason.  He just wants to stay home and do nothing or even be homeless so he could just do parkour all day.  On Monday night when he was really "in the swing of things" and I was just simply exhausted emotionally and physically and even spiritually, I had to excuse myself from the conversation because I was getting really peeved and was about to just... I don't know... hit him and yell, "Snap out of it!"  I didn't hit him, but I did tell him that if that was what he really wanted, if he really wanted to do nothing more with his life than parkour, then he should strongly consider going to the homeless shelter in Idaho Falls where he could do just that.  The next day was Dad's birthday, Sam refused to go to school and stole all time for birthday pancakes.  So, instead, Dad stayed h me with him because we were afraid for Sam's safety and was prepared to take him to the hospital to be admitted.... again.  Luckily, Sam was more calm as the morning went on so Dad and Sam cleaned out the shed all day.  We did get to do a little thing together as a family for his birthday that night, but overall it was a crappy birthday for him. 

Yesterday morning, Wednesday, I woke up before five with a spasm of anxiety about the day ahead and the ensuing battle with Sam to get him to school or to get him to do anything at all.  I laid there trying to get back to sleep since we'd had another late night conversation with Sam (not as dramatic as Monday night) which resulted in very little sleep.  Suddenly I heard the words "Doubt not; fear not," come strongly into my mind like voice.  It was... impressive and had been unbidden by any of my thoughts. I hadn't been praying or "in conversation" with the Lord at that time.  Shortly after that I was able to go back to sleep for a time.  Later that morning, in my prayers, those words kept coming to my mind in answer to my pleas. Dad came to school with Sam and I that morning so we could discuss with the counselor what we could do.  Luckily, during my prep, we were able to talk to her (without Sam in the room, he had gone to class unwillingly) and came up with some solutions that we felt really good about... "doubt not; fear not."  Mrs. Poulsen helped us come to the conclusion that Sam was feeling stressed in part because he didn't feel he had any choice in the matter.  So, in order for him to buy into his future, we needed to let go of our wants/needs/demands and give him options that he could choose that we were still OK with: alternative school, a technical high school, Shelley high part time, or even dropping out of school (the stipulations for dropping out are that if he chooses to quit school then he is clearly ready for adult life and needs to work full time to pay for his own life - phone, internet, transportation, clothes, even paying rent, etc.).  So, with "doubt not; fear not" in our hearts and minds, we're working through those choices.  I feel so much more peace because once he has made the choice and owns that choice, then we won't have these daily battles.  

I know that is a long story, and it wasn't meant to burden you with issues at home, but to illustrate the continued goodness of God in our lives.  He is so merciful to your crazy, mixed up family here in the States!  It hasn't been the best week ever, by far, BUT we can see that He is leading us, guiding us, helping us find the way.  "Doubt not; fear not."

Meg and Janie are doing well in school, adjusting pretty well, I think.  Janie has her first student council responsibilities today at the volleyball games after school... she is currently getting all dolled up for the event.  Coach J told Meg that he "could make an Olympic weightlifter" out of her because she has the right build and natural affinity for weight lifting.  hahahaha  She likes the compliments, but still thinks he is way crazy/fanatical.  I'm glad she's not buying into it.  :D  Sam and Meg are going to participate in some QRU training Saturday morning.  The QRU is going to practice strapping  bodies (aka Sam and Meg) to gurneys/boards and putting them on the life flight helicopter.  The cool thing is that they'll be doing all of this while the heli is turning it's roaters.  I don't know if they'll get to fly a little or not, but they do get to be "dead" bodies, so that will be fun.  At the same time, Janie is going to come with me and Dad to film some training videos at EIRMC.  These are little "bad nurse/good nurse" videos to illustrate the correct way to do things and we get to be the patients/patrons.  Should be a fun day - interesting at the very least.  It will be fun to tell you all about it later on.

Gotta rush to school.  Know that you are loved and prayed for every day multiple times by multiple people in multiple places.  We're so grateful for your excellent work and diligence.  Thank you for "leaving it all on the floor," for not holding back for putting it all on the "alter of the Lord" so to speak.  You are a good and faithful servant and we're so pleased and proud of you.  Keep up the good work!



August 25, 2013 (pouch mail)

Good morning, Henry!

It's Sunday morning and I'm preparing a lesson to substitute for Sister William's class. AND I just started thinking about you and wondering how you are.  I love you and miss you so much, but the gratitude I feel knowing you are where you are when you're supposed to be there makes me muchos happy!  So it balances out the missing you.  :D

We had a fun...ish experience yesterday.  Sam and Kolby went to help the QRU with some training - they were the injured/dead bodies.  The QRU was practicing loading bodies onto gurnies and strapping them into a helicopter in a short amount of time.  The goal was to do all of that preparation while the helicopter roaters were still spinning so they didn't have to wait for the heli to get up to speed again. Unfortunately, the helicopter was called away on a REAL emergency, so they didn't get to be loaded onto a real helicopter, but they had a fun time all the same.  

At the same time, Dad and I were at the hospital filming a training video.  I was the patient who had severe abdominal pains and was throwing up while Dad was the concerned spouse.  :D  They asked if we'd bring 2-3 students with us to help out.  So two girls from the advanced drama class volunteered and then I had Meg come with us thinking she might get a little camera time.  We dragged Janie along with us so we could all be in the same location at the same time, since quality time is a big thing for her.  Sadly, it turned into a long day of Meg and Janie sitting around and watching as we were moved from place to place to place in the hospital.  They got no camera time.  The students from SHS left around noon because of "other plans" (aka they were bored silly - I think they wanted them as production assistants, but ended up not needing them that much so it was a lot of sitting around for them, too).  The girls were stuck waiting for us all day, from 7:30am until 4:30pm... 9 hours of filming.  They were not happy.  hahahaha  BUT Meg did help the camera man for most of the day as his production assistant.  Janie just watched teen dramas on the ipad.  Oh, AND they got all the cookies and bagels and muffins and soda they could eat plus a lunch catered by Johnny Carinos.  hahahaha  Dad and I had a fun time, a long day, but still fun. The crew was fun to work with and we laughed alot during the first half of the day.  Unfortunately some of the staff they'd asked to be "actors" were really, really bad actors and so they had shoot and reshoot and reshoot and reshoot.  It was still kind of funny and fun by the end, but everyone was tired... espcially the cameraman/videographer. They gave Dad and I a $50 gift card each, so that was fun.  We thought that we'd do it again if they'd asked us, so not a wasted day.  

Things are going a little better with Sam.  I think he's decided on Shelley and will probably stick with full time.  He had a long conversation with Aunt LeAnn on Wednesday night because he just wanted to talk to somebody who wasn't his parent.  I can totally understand that.  They had a good conversation.  He was able to recognize that his best days occur when he has a good attitude and his worst days occur when he has a bad attitude.  Who'da thunk? :D  But it was good for him to come to that realization.  Hopefully he will see that no matter what his diagnosis, no matter what meds he is or isn't taking, his attitude and approach to life is all his own. No one can give you a pill for a good attitude, no therapy will give that to you - they can help, but not generate it - it's all him.  Oh, and we also discovered that the anti-anxiety medicine he's been taking, Xanax, well, we've been doing it all wrong.  The bottle said one pill per day and the nurse said it might make them sleepy, so we've been giving it to him at night. We had no other instruction about the medication. Dr. Zohner told us on Wednesday that it's a quck acting drug, that a person should feel the effects in about 30 minutes, but it only lasts 3-5 hours.  So, yeah, by giving it to him at night he was sleeping through the positive effects of the medication.  hahahaha  Hopefully we can make good use of that medication in the future now that we know how to do it.  It's 1-2 doses per day "as needed."  I think we're going to start with a daily dose every day and the second dose "as needed" until he's feeling a little more secure with his choice to stay at SHS and in his ability to make it through a day.  Then I think we'll just go to the "as needed" dose every day until he doesn't need it at all.  That's the goal anyway.  

So, you're halfway through your training at the CCM.  That is very exciting.  It's so great that you have a companion that you love and can get along with while you're there.  I think that will set a positive tone for your whole mission.  It's crazy that Garrett is already out there in the field!  Amazing!  And it won't be long before Tate is out there, too.  His papers are all but finished, I think. I don't know, but I think having all of you guys gone is taking a toll on him a bit. And those not serving missions right now will be leaving for college in the next few weeks.  It's a lonely time to be the old guy at home.  So, I'm glad that he's getting ready to make the leap. 

And now for NEWS from the hometown:  Rachel Thompson will be married on Thursday this week and then they will go to BYU Hawaii.  I hope they'll be happy. It's an exciting time for her... crazy that she's getting married already - she's only 18, but... ah well!  Shanley and Gabe are getting married September 7th.  We got their announcment this week.  They're so cute.  Unlike most announcements with romantic pictures of the couple, there are some really cute/funny pics of Gabe and Shanely... I mean, this is Gabe Nii after all.  They are just so great.  Stefan Jacobson was called to the Adriadic North Mission and leaves October 16th. He'll be speaking Croatian.  Crazy! I don't know which MTC he'll go to for training.
I love this work that is moving forth like a stone cut without hands rolling down a mountain gaining some serious momentum!  One day while we were in the temple together, we were talking about all the missionaries and Cindy noted that without all of the temples that have been built in the last 15-20 years, dotting the earth, we couldn't have produced this missionary force now flooding the earth because missionaries need to go through the temple before they can go on their missions.  Without having temples more close and accessible than they were before, there couldn't be as many missionaries ready to serve.  It's amazing how the Lord prepares a way for all things... and only by looking back can we truly see the fullness and beauty of His plan.  I love Heavenly Father with my whole heart.  I wish I was a better servant who wasn't so easily distracted by the noise and lights and chaos around her, but I will be grateful for every day that he grants me on this earth to try again to wrench my heart and my focus to where I know it needs to be in order to feel true joy.  

I love you, my son.  Thanks for working so hard and for struggling through difficult times.  We love your guts and everything else!  Have a happy day!

Love from Mom

August 29, 2013

Good morning, my dear!  I'm anxious to read your letter today.  Some stuff I would like to learn from you in particular are the following:
  • Do you know your travel dates for going to Chile?
  • Have you been able to access your account with your debit card at the ATM?
  • Will you give me your SHS student ID again... just for convenience
Thank you for the sweet text this morning, by the way.  I agree; you CAN accomplish anything with the Lord on your side.  I am currently learning a lot about faith.  I used to think that faith was most useful in really difficult times - that I needed to have faith to get through a difficult situation or circumstance.  But currently I am learning that it requires faith to do those basic daily things that the Lord asks us to do in order to be close enough to Him to feel His influence in our lives.  Like, for example, it takes great faith to use some of my very limited time in the morning to read scriptures when there are so many other things screaming for that same time and energy. Sadly, I find that I don't have as much faith as I'd like or as I need.  Too often I try to "go it alone" so to speak, thinking that "this thing" or "that thing" are much more important than reconnecting with my Father in Heaven.  I mean, I don't think that on a conscious level, but I find myself thinking, "Oh, I'll read later on, but I HAVE to get this done before....".  Of course I want to read. I want to connect with my Father in Heaven.  I want to pray and feel His influence.  But, as Elder Schweitzer related at stake conference a few weeks ago, if I sit in front of the computer to open that email first, before I read/pray, the day zips by and that "time to read" never materializes.  So it requires faith to take that time first - it really is like a sacrifice from the Old Testament when they gave the "firstlings of their flocks" to the Lord - and trust that Heavenly Father will open paths for me to get done what really needs to be done when it needs to be done.  Easy to say, easy to believe, harder to do when the looming monster called time is bearing down on you... like Goliath.  So, I need to be like David and have faith in the Lord.  I can accomplish anything if I am on HIS side.  I have to trust in Him... but I'm finding that trust is not one of my strong points.  Darn!  I'll have to keep working on it.

Things are good here at the ranch.  Sam is currently getting and and going to school without a daily fight - that is a HUGE blessing.  OH, and he is going on his FIRST date either this weekend or next.  Kolby asked him to double with him.  They're going to the fair.  Sam asked Isabelle Imhof who is an exchange student from Switzerland, but she had plans that night, so he asked Nadia Searle.  I'm excited for him.  Its good for him to see that there are other girls in the world besides Taybree, and if he starts dating other girls, that is an important step in severing those remaining tendrils of wistful thinking.... FOREVER!  I'm hoping that he and Kolby will group date and go to homecoming. That would be awesome, especially because I get to chaperone the dance!  :D

Meg is doing really well in soccer.  She will probably play half of the game as keeper and then play half the game as a reserve midfielder or defender.  It's really fun to watch her love the of the sport rekindle - and she's so TAN, but only on her arms.  Most of the other girls wear tank tops and short shorts to maximize their time in the sun, but Meg is wearing long basketball shorts and tee shirts (and I'm grateful for her modesty). Combined with her shin guards and longs socks, she is quite covered.  But I love her little brown face and arms.   It will be fun to send you some pictures of both Sam and Meg in action when their games start next week!

Janie is doing really well.  She struggles in school - math is not her strong point, nor is spelling (love her like we do) - but she keeps on keeping on.  I'm super proud of her.  She has grown up a lot.  She keeps us laughing, that is for sure!

Dad has been SUPER sick this past week.  On Saturday he started to feel really nauseous and have some pain in his abdomen.  It was similar to a flu that I had had a week before, so we kept him in bed and waited for it to abate.  But it didn't go away and it didn't go away, and I wanted to take him to the doctor, and he said he wanted to wait it out, but the pain was getting so bad, especially after he would eat.  So he wasn't eating, barely drinking, and sick and in pain.  Finally, yesterday he consented to go to the doctor.  I planned to take some time from school and go with him, but he assured me he would really go on his own. Happily, they discovered it was nothing serious (after so many days, my imagination had run amok with possibilities of what the issue could be), just some inflammation in the stomach lining ("had much stress lately?").  So they put him on some strong stuff to coat his stomach while it heals.  He felt so much better after just 12 hours.  He ate dinner and slept well and it was happiness.  Tender mercies.

So, there is the update on the family.  I don't know if these updates are too long and a little boring.  Maybe less is more?  I'd love some feedback, if you will.  I don't want you to spend your limited time on the computer reading my lengthy epistles.  I can cut it down if that would be best, and I won't be offended or hurt.  So, let me know if these suckers are too long.  :D

We love you so much.  I love you so much.  I'm glad you got the cookies.  It took us long enough to figure out how to make that happen!  hahahaha  

Have a great week, my darling.

Love from Mom 

....And later that day....

I was catching up on some of Jordan's missionary letters and thought I'd share a few of my favorite tidbits.  

They had a baptism this week, a 12 year old boy, whose brother (older? younger?) was baptized in June - he had a badly broken leg and couldn't be baptized.  So his family was planning to come for the baptism, but had something come they dropped him off at the stake center for his baptism.  That is so crazy to me!  I, just... uh... my mind is still reeling.  I can't believe the faith and courage of this kid - of most new members - to dive into the church, a new way of life, while their families and friends are living a different way.  That is so amazing and inspiring.  Once again... sacrifice... putting it on the alter and letting the Lord make it right.  The happy news is that there were tons of people from the ward there welcoming him and talking to him and encircling him in the fold.  So it was good.  

They had another baptism a week before, which is so great.  It's kind of surprising because I've heard that England is a hard mission because people are so apathetic about religion in general.  Maybe it's different in Wales where Jordan is currently serving.  hahahaha

This is an excerpt from his letter.  I really liked it... made me think.  In fact, I'm still pondering over it!  hahahaha  Then for sacrament Meeting we had our stake president speak. President Deardon, WOW! He is such an inspired man and an amazing speaker!! He talked about a lot of different things, but one thing that really stuck out to me is this quote he shared! " to Become what we want to become, we must BE what we want to become everyday" (try to say that 5 times fast) haha! but yeah! just a powerful quote! so if you want to become patient, just BE patient everyday and then one day you will realize, WOW i am pretty patient! another great quote from his talk about what we need to do in this life " we need to learn what we need to learn, to do what we need to DO, to become what we need to BECOME!" powerful quotes! 

That is really exciting about your new calling as ZLs.  It sounds like you are already feeling that mantel of care and love for those you serve.  Loving the people you serve in the CCM or in Chile is the best tool you can have, I think.  Remember my favorite quote (now on my classroom wall in vinyl lettering):  You don't have to be perfect - you only have to be honest and sincere.  If you are honest and sincere in the things the Lord asks you to do, He will make up the difference.  That is the promise of the Atonement - we don't have to become perfect on our own... we can't.  We only have to be honest and sincere in everything we do, every effort, every calling, every job, etc. 

Good luck with the flirtations.  Wow!  (I laughed right out loud when you wrote that those sisters chased/followed you two through the rain.... ah, sisters.) That sounds like a challenge!  I mean, it could feel like a giant "group date" down there with so many  so close in age and proximity! hahaha  It will be extra great to get to Chile where there aren't QUITE so many missionaries in such a small radius.  You'll do well.  You'll help them remember that their sacrifice is only for a short time, two tiny little years, and then they can go crazy!  hahahaha

YOU I LOVE!  I'm glad the long letters aren't frustrating... because I don't know if I can shorten them, truth be told!  ;)  Love you like crazy!


By the way, have you heard from Lexa at all?  Or Tate?  That's so awesome that you're able to write to Garrett.  Is he doing well in Ghana?