Letters from Mom April 2015

April 27, 2015

Wow, son!  First counselor!  We are super excited and anxious to hear what your week, specifically your Sunday, has been like with this added responsibility.  By added responsibility, I am wondering if you are still the zone leader in addition to being the first counselor?  Exciting and scary, yes?  Also, I know that the volcanic eruption was far away from where you are, but how has that affected the people there?  Have you seen any fallout? Ash on the winds?  It's a crazy amount of crazy happening in that country right now - I'm so sorry to hear it!  There's much work to be done, no doubt, for the physical well-being (aka moving mud or ash or whatever it is) and the spiritual well-being (God is call the people to remembrance, yes?).  Your time there will end too soon, I think, for you.  You'll want to stay, and you'll want to come home.  Gird your loins for that internal conflict!  hahahaha

So it's been a good week for the family.  We've actually spent a couple of evenings at home!  Strange and fascinating experience.  But, being the end of the year, we've also had lots of other stuff going on.  They did a Varsity Sports banquet on Monday night for all varsity athletes and their parents catered by Johnny Carinos.  It was a dress-up event, and the coaches voted and gave awards, like scholar athlete, Russet True, a Lakoda Stommel award, etc.  It was a pretty nifty experience... and the food was delicious.  :)  I think they are going to try to make that a tradition.  Thursday night, Meg had her National Honor Society induction because she's going to be a junior!  Ca-razy!  And then Friday and Saturday, Janie and I and the rest of the Advanced Drama class went to a One Act Play festival at ISU.  It was actually a really great time!  Friday morning they offered a myriad of workshops: improvisation, stage makeup, costume design, lighting design, how to audition, Shakespeare, stage movement, characterization, pantomime, vocal projection, etc.  So me and the 18 students who came with me all divided up and went to different workshops before lunch and learned some really great stuff!  After lunch, the one act plays began.  Each school - and there were 12 schools in attendance from Boise to Northern Utah - prepared a one act play.  In 45 minutes they had to set up, perform and strike the set, the set being a specific number of rehearsal boxes that could be arranged in any way needed, a table and a few chairs.  Being complete noobs, we were nervous and a little intimidated.  Going to this festival was kind of a surpise, something we just decided to do, and with the musical taking so much of my focus in the past weeks, we were NOT as prepared as we should've been/could've been.  So, we were nervous that we would fall on our faces, especially since some of the students were less committed to learning and doing their roles than others.  As we watched, some of the plays were clear competition pieces performed by an elite team of actors from that school.  Others were like us - just a bunch of kids doing our best!  Our play was called, "Sorry, Wrong Number," and is about an invalid woman who is cranky and rude who overhears a phone conversation about two men planning to kill a woman that night.  She tries to get help from the police and telephone operators and hospitals, but because she's rude and whiny and sounds a little crazy, no one takes her seriously.  Eventually, she discovers that she is the target and that her husband is the one who ordered the kill.  In the end, she gets murdered just as she calls the police - again.  When the sergeant answers, the killer takes the phone and says, "Sorry, wrong number." Gruesome but fun.   I am confident that while we were not the best (we didn't win any awards), we were not the worst either.  hahaha  I guess that's a comfort.  We learned loads, and the kids we totally jazzed.  They want to do it again next year.  So that is awesome!  Actually, we will be jumping into the district/state drama competitions in the fall and then go to the One Act Festival in the spring, so that the Advanced Drama class become more focused.  The students will surely be more focused, too!   The timing is finally right!  Now that I'm just teaching 3 preps instead of 6, and just speech instead of English, I'm much more able to branch out and do some of these things.  It's exciting!

Yesterday, after church and choir practice, we enjoyed a quiet day at home - we played games and watched Willie Wonka for Family Fun Time.  I love quiet Sundays at home all together.  It was rainy and cold here yesterday, so it was extra awesome to just snuggle down together.  We played The Game of Life, and it was really fun!  Sam was a salesman and was really raking in the dough for the first half of the game, and then Meg switched salaries with him on one turn and his "life" slowly began to fall apart.  It was actally really funny how every catastrophe hit him, and he was funny and good natured about it.  Sometimes I see little glimmers and think, "Maybe the ECT is starting to crack that overwhelming depression.  Maybe his neurotransmitters are beginning to reboot and fire more appropriately," but I am almost holding my breath because I don't want to be utterly disappointed, ya know?  So I am trying to live in the moment and just take Sam as he is each and every day.  We're also taking a more firm role in his life, now that we're home in the evenings more frequently.  We are not going to allow him to stay up all night as he has done in the past, but are working to get him to reorder his sleep schedule.  Actually, it was his idea, so all we're doing is holding him accountable to that, which he is not always so happy about.  He has terrible dreams, delusional dreams many nights that distrub him greatly.  Paranoid, persecutory dreams... schizophrenic dreams.  I wish I knew what to do for him there.  

ANYWAY,   your turn to talk.  I am anxious to hear all about you and your week(s) and your experiences and thoughts and feelings.  So... go!  hahaha



P.S.  Yesterday, Devin Kelley and his wife, Lexi, spoke in our ward.  They are living in Neil and Louise's house for the next couple of years.  She served in Santiago, so she's excited to meet you and speak crazy Chilean Spanish with you!  hahaha  Also, Bill Turpin wanted me to say hello from him and to report that Glenn is having a good experience in the MTC in Guatemala - he leaves for the field this week - and that Bill reads his letters and thinks, "Who is this kid?"  So, it's great to hear that from/about Glenn.  OK.  That is all for now.  YOU I LOVE!~

April 20, 2015

Beautiful Madness:  That subject line could mean a lot of things, you know.  It could be in reference to the weather because it was really lovely on Monday, then we had snow Tuesday night and all day Wednesday, and then it was 70 degrees and beautiful on Friday.  It could be in reference to the house because we met with our contractor this past week with some updated house plans and it is beautiful, what we may be able to do to improve and grow our house and also madness, it will be madness living in a construction zone!  That subject line could also be in reference to your family who just finished a beautiful madness called play season!  Ah!  It was a beautiful madness.  hahahaha

So, we are super anxious to hear about your conference!  I'll bet it was amazing!  We're also anxious to hear where you'll be spending your last three months in the field - in Chanaral?  Somewhere else?  Training?  with the same companion?  One thing is for certain, wherever you are called to be is exactly where the Lord needs you to be at that time, and what He needs you to be doing right then.  We know that you will "finish strong" regardless of where you are and what you're doing.  You'll give your utmost to the very last hour of the very last day.  I am going to do my best to support you in that by keeping talk of your homecoming and future plans to a minimum.  We'll discuss what is necessary (like, for instance, did you have an opportunity during the conference to meet with President Dalton and perhaps get your ecclesiastical endorsement for school so I can get you registered?), but I am going to keep a tighter lid on my trunkiness!  hahaha 

Alrighty then.  On to the business of the times.  Yesterday, I sang the musical number in 10th ward's sacrament meeting.  Mrs. Bob Kirkham (I can't remember her name), had asked me about a month earlier, so I put it together and Katie accompanied me.  Ellie Arave and her "special friend," Josh, were the speakers.  Josh is a recent convert.  I think he was baptized about a month ago.  Anyway, it was really a fantastic meeting.  Josh told about his conversion story, and Ellie shared her side of things, so this is a combination of both of their stories.  He had spent 8 months in prison and had been out and on probation for about 2-3 months when he met Ellie.  Being Ellie, she was very open and kind and welcoming, and when he asked her out she told him that he had to meet her family first.  They were NOT excited about the fact that Ellie was going on a date with a felon/ex-convict.  One date turned in to more dates and Josh spent more time at the Arave's house.  Ellie's mom kept asking, "What are you doing?  What are you thinking?" and Ellie's dad would just stay away, barely saying two words to Josh whenever he was there.  Several years ago, President Searle challenged the stake in a stake conference to pray for missionary experiences.  Ellie's mom had done that, and after two weeks of Josh coming over to the house with Ellie, she realized that THIS was the missionary experience she had been praying for.  So, she softened her heart toward Josh and began to be more welcoming and to talk more freely about the gospel when he had questions.  Josh could feel a difference in their home and liked it - he had been struggling to rebuild his life after prison, to figure out what he was doing with his life.  Wally Arave was still fairly hostile.  After some time, Josh was struggling to fight the temptation to do drugs, to drink, to smoke, and after telling Ellie about his battles, she said, "You should come to church with me."  He said, "Uhhhh...why?"  And she replied, "I just want you to be happy."  So, he went.  Not long after, he started meeting with the sister missionaries, and then he wanted to be baptized, but had to wait until his probation was finished.  There are more details to the story - it was really beautiful and deeply impressive - but two of my favorite moments were Ellie's invitation to come to church because she just wanted him to be happy - not to baptize him, not to change his wicked ways, not for any other motive than his own happiness - and Josh's statement about wearing the baptismal jumpsuit.  He said that the last time he was wearing a jumpsuit, it was bright yellow, and he was sitting in prison as a broken man, and then there he was wearing a white jumpsuit about to have all of that darkness washed away in the waters of baptism, becoming a new man.  It was really beautiful.

In other family news - you probably don't have to worry about Heidi's "old guy" boyfriend.  I think he has finally come to see that Heidi is really only 18 and that no matter how awesome she is, she is NOT ready to be 25 and settle down and get married.  She wants to become 25 the old fashioned way, one day at a time.  When she told him she was NOT ready to get married, that she was young and wanted to have fun and live life, he told her he was ok with that, but it seems, not so much.  Perhaps he didn't know how much he loves her and wants to keep her, but she is not ready.  So, it seems she may in fact be going on that mission this fall!  hahaha  Only time will tell.  :)

I don't think there is any other major news out here around the farm.  OH!  Meg got asked to prom by the Kolbster.  We went dress shopping and that was actually pretty fun!  Janie went crazy!  She had so much fun dressing Meg up in all kinds of sparkly wonder!  hahahaha  It's pretty easy to get all swept up and lost in the moment of it all!  Several mission calls...  McKay Cannon comes home in a month so he can start basketball at Weber state, and it seems the flood will begin with him!  It's an exciting time of new-ness for all of us.  Should be fun!  The play is over, the stage is clean... that's wonderful and weird.  Ah, yes, I am taking the drama classes to a One Act Festival at ISU this coming weekend.  We are performing One Act plays that we've been preparing in class and then we're going to perform/compete and be evaluated by ISU professors/judges.  That should be an adventure!  First timers!  

OK!  So, there you go! Things just keep rolling along, which is good because we all have serious spring fever!  It's so hard to go to school - we just want to be free!  hahahaha  But only 4 weeks left, shoot, that will zoom by in no time and then it will be summer break and there will be a whole different type of craziness to fill our days and nights, then, before you know it, we'll be eager for school and a regular schedule again.  hahaha  The grass is always greener on the other side of the fence. 


Can't wait to hear from you!

Love from Mom

April 13, 2015

It is a beautiful day! The sky is clear,  the sun is shining,  no wind,  and is supposed to be 70 degrees today!  Tomorrow is supposed to be raining and a high of 50. Ha ha ha Typical!  I heard one student describe the weather here like his 11 year old sister: fine and happy one minute,  then freaking out and howling at the world the next!   But we love it. ..mostly. 

I wonder how the weather is for you right now?   Is it hot? Muggy? Hopefully not rainy!   We're anxious to hear about your week.  I'll bet you're exhausted!   Exhausted but happy,  that's my bet.   :)

Things up here have been hectic as always.   The past has been going really well.  We sold out Tuesdays show and had only 4 empty seats on Friday.  All of the other nights have been pretty full, so we're grateful.  The kids have earned standing ovations nearly every night, which has been very gratifying for them!   Sadly,  I haven't transferred pictures from the camera to One Drive yet,  so.... they'll be coming soon!  So it's been pretty boring for us this week: eat, sleep, go to work/school, do the play,  start over.  On the nights when we had a break,  we slept or ran errands.   We're looking forward to the end of play season for this school year,  but it has been good!  This is a great group of young people - very kind and just. ..good!  It's been fun to work with them! 

Sam is the only one who has had a dfferent schedule.   He wakes up between 2-6 pm and plays video games or watches you tube videos and stays up all night before he goes to ECT (Mondays and Fridays) or visits his therapist (Wednesdays). So he sleeps for 12-16 hours 2-3 times a week and is online pretty much the rest of the time.  Dad and I were talking about how we are perry sure he is addicted to the Internet.  I asked Sam if he was addicted to it and he said,  after a pause,  "Maybe! " So, as the play comes to an end,  we will have to address that. The issue that Dad and I were taking about is that a lot of people in his situation "self-medicate" with drugs or alcohol,  over spending or promiscuity.  So,  if he is going to be addicted to something,  we're  OK with him choosing the Internet!   For the most part,  it's all video games or how-to videos, but I'm pretty sure there is more to it, if you know what I mean.  Sadly, I have not been courageous enough to address that issue again, but I know the time is coming. ..soon.  Hopefully ECT will crack the crushing avolition that leaves him in a perpetual state of blah.  We meet with his psychiatrist this week who thought that we should see evidence of the treatments working in the next few weeks,  although some don't see benefits until a month or so after the treatment cycle is over.  He's about halfway through this first cycle of twelve treatments,  so. ..we wait with baited breath.  

All is well overall.   We are meeting with the contractor again this week to make some real decisions about the addition to the house. He sent us some rough plans - I'll include them in One Drive. It's very exciting!   So well finish the pay and jump right in to that project!  Ha ha ha  it keeps us moving forward! 

W love you!  We are grateful to know that you are in the Lord's hands as you do his work in service of your brothers and sisters in Chile. God IS great.  

You I love! 


April 6, 2015

Wow!  You weren't just a kidding when you said RAIN!  That is a crazy amount of madness and we are eager to hear what you found when you finally returned to Chanaral.  I'm sure you must be pretty tired from all of the service work you guys have been involved in over the past two weeks!  You, and the people in Chile who have been affected by the flooding are in our prayers, for sure!  Your pictures from Taltal were impressive, but you said they didn't get hit as bad as Chanaral.  Oh my!  We saw some news photos of Chanaral.  It will be fascinating to hear what your experience has been.

So the play is well underway!  We have two of the 8 performances under our belts.  That is a good thing.  They've gone really well so far!  It may be because I'm worn out - I've given it my all and I'm a little depleted, as I tend to be at this point in the school year - but I've been surprised by the reception we've recieved... all for the positive.  Wade Messick came to our invited dress rehearsal, and he can NOT say enough good about this show!  hahahaha  And we've had several others who have been just really impressed.  I can't understand it!  Don't they see all of the little flaws, like I do?  hahahahaha  So, I'm grateful that we've had such a good turnout and good reviews from the community.  There surely have been lots of kinks in the works with advertising and ticketing and any number of things - we tried so many new things this time around that we may have gone a little overboard and now find ourselves scrambling.  hahaha  But it's all good... a learning curve.   Your sisters are doing a great job.  I will post pictures of the show next week when I get a chance to get some good ones.  hahahaha

OK.  I have to run to faculty meeting right now, but I want to make sure you get at least SOMETHING from me this week, so I'm going to send this little baby letter and then, if I get a chance before you're online, I will write more about the play, about Dad's mission reuion, about Sam's ECT treatments, about Easter, and about General Conference... OH, wasn't conference so incredible?



Hello again.

Woops - wasn't supposed to send that one before. hahahaha  IT'S SUCH A MONDAY!

So, where were we?  Oh yes, the play. Well, it's going well.  I feel like I'm kind of like Alaska, know what I mean?  Six months of darkness and six months of light (I don't know if that is accurate, but that's what I'm going with for my own purposes).  I feel like I have six months where I am in the light, I know what's going on in the world, I'm taking care of my family the way I want to be taking care of them, etc.  And then,  play season roles around and from mid September to mid-April it gets increasingly dark: I become increasingly distanced from what is going on in the world, with the family at large, and I seem to do less and less to take care of my family.  And then,  play season is over, and light begins to dawn again.  hahaha  It's so crazy.  I'm sure there are people who wonder, "Why in the heck would anyone want to live in Alaska?"  but there are people who live there and love it!  And just like us, at this time, we are living in/with "Alaska" and it's the right thing for us, right now.  But I know it is for a limited time only.  That is a relief in many ways, especially right now when I'm at the "darkest point" just before it begins to get light again.  :)  It's all good.

So, Dad went to his mission reunion on Friday.  I was super glad that he was able to go.  I think he had a really good time.  I think I'll let him tell you more about that, but it will be fun for you, in years to come, to reconnect with old companions and missionaries that you've served with.  That's a great tradition, I think.

Sam is at ECT again today, twice a week for 5 more weeks.  I really hope it will be effective for him.  It's kind of disconcerting when the doctor came in last week after his first treatment and said, "Yeah, he had a really good seizure."  Oh, it makes me feel like a monster!  Here, Sam, I'm going to let them strap you down and shock your brain and cause a siezure.  Have fun, sweetie! Love you!"  I know it's the right thing right now, and in many ways it's the same as if Sam was going through chemotherapy - strap you down while they drip poison into your veins.  It seems almost medieval, but we will be hopeful and faithful that it will be to some positive effect.  Prayers and all fingers crossed!  Hopefully we'll begin to see some positive effects in the coming days/weeks.

So Uncle Dale and Aunt Chris and Clark and Lindsay came up for Easter and General Conference weekend.  It's been really fun to have them around.  We all got together and ate at Grandma's yesterday and then watched the afternoon session of conference and then ate some more and played games. One of the highlights was a battle between Meg and Heidi.  Meg wants to be inducted into the Unicorn Sisterhood now, at 16, in time for the reunion the summer, but Heidi felt she should have to wait, like she had to do. So, they wrestled, but couldn't come up with a clear winner, so I wrote a test, a Unicorn Sisterhood test, and Meg won. It was so silly.  But now, Meg will become a Unicorn this summer at the reunion.  That is going to be a fun time, I think!  This weekend was just a snippet of what fun we'll have in July when we're all together. Oh, and Jordan will be home two weeks from today - isn't that incredible?  They are very excited.  It will be a new experience for him since Chris and Dale moved into a new house while he was away!  New house, new ward, new stake!  But, he'll be going to school in Texas pretty soon, and Jordan's a pretty happy-go-lucky guy.  It will be fun to see him and reconnect during the reunion, too, but it's been fun to be together for this wonderful weekend.

General Conference was incredible, wasn't it?  We felt the Sunday morning session was filled to the brim with powerhouse talks!  Some of my favorite bits were:

  • When we offer succor to someone else, the Savior feels it as if we did it unto Him (Pres. Eyring)
  • The keys to a successful marriage are a cookie and a kiss (Pres. Packer)
  • The parable of the sower explained in such rich detail by Elder Oaks
  • Guilt is to the spirit what pain is to the body (Elder Clayton)
  • The story of Mother Teresa; "You have enough" (Sister Wixom)
  • The discussion of the prodigal son by Elder Nielson, his story of his sister, and how we are all prodigals to Christ
  • "He refused to let me fall"; and how, like Adam and Eve we cast out of the paradisaical Garden of Eden in order to progress, we were also "cast out" of our paradisaical premortal realm, in order to grow to become like God; Christ was called "the last Adam" - and "Adam fell that man might be" (Elder Holland)
  • Salvation is not purchased by good works, and all of the discussion on grace by President Uchtdorf
  • The need to raise our voices to preserve and protect religious liberties (Elder Hales)
  • To "hang in there" is not a principle of the gospel (Elder Pierson)
  • The discussion on the Sabbath Day by Elder Nelson - so good

But it was all good.  We were somewhat distracted during the Saturday and Sunday afternoon sessions, so I look forward to re-reading those!  Saturday afternoon, we went to one of Jake's rugby matches which just happened to be at the high school on the soccer pitch!  That was an adventure!  The Rexburg Yeti's totally dominated the Mountain Home Mongrels.  It was really fun to watch Jake and Marcus play.  Of course, being spring in Idaho it was freezing and there was a brisk wind, but it was still a good time.  Then we were decorating eggs while we listened to the recorded afternoon session, so not super focused on what was being taught.  Then, Saturday night, all the fellas went to Boyd and LeAnn's house to eat Chinese food and watch the Priesthood session.  The girls went to the Indian restaurant in Idaho Falls, Tandoori Oven, and had a fun girl party.   

All in all, it was a wonderful weekend - much needed, and we are all feeling filled and refreshed.  I hope you felt that in some ways, too.  I AM anxious to hear about your week.  I love you like crazy, darling!  Be safe out there, and enjoy the journey... every muddy step of it.  hahahaha



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