So, my darling, apparently you have been transferred to the land where the elves of Middle Earth had their origin, and the land they returned to, across the sea, when they left the harbor at the Grey Havens with Bilblo and Frodo and Gandalf at the end of the Return of the King. Oh, wait. You're in Vallenar. Different spelling, different location... not Middle Earth.
Hahahahaha I am so darn funny. You know I am - don't deny it! :D
So, we can't wait to hear about your first week in a new town. We Googled Vallenar, of course, and found a "fascinating" YouTube video of someone driving up and down the streets of Vallenar - no sound, and really bumpy video. BUT, Vallenar looks like a really lovely place. At least the three streets we saw seemed to have a fair amount of trees, the homes seemed fairly nice, and there weren't piles of trash all over. It appears to be much further inland as well, yeah? We're excited to hear about your companion, too. We are confident that you will be a great senior companion. It's a new experience, and like I told Lexa just today, with every new experience there is that 40 days and 40 nights in the wilderness, so be especially gentle with yourself and others during that time! :D I wonder if you're nervous about it at all, or what your feelings are like. I'm excited to hear.
We sat by Monica and Brett Nelson at the basketball game on Friday (they played Sugar and BEAT them - it was great - although Monica is definitely one of those Momma Bear parents in the stands... it was kind of surprising, actually, and funny... she actually yelled, during a lull, "[the Ref's name], you suck!" ANYWAY, we were swapping stories of you two - Garrett is also getting quite crispy under the intense summer sun below the Equator! She said that he lives in a really violent area - all buildings have tall walls around them. One day, after a zone conference, all the missionaries were in a courtyard within the walls with the gates were open just a bit when they saw a man running toward the gates with a huge machete, like 24-36 inches long. Garrett told her that he wondered in that instant what it would feel like when the blade went through him because he thought he was going to die. And then, they saw a big group of men chasing after the machete guy, so someone shut the gates and wouldn't let machete guy in... for obvious reasons. But, yeah! Crazy! He calls those "funny stories." He also told them about the challenges he faces with his current companion who doesn't have a high opinion of Americans and isn't a very dedicated missionary - once he refused to speak to Garrett for 3 full days. So, this got me wondering what "funny stories" you have had, but haven't told us... or rather, me. I mean, I know that people have told you to leave certain things OUT of your letters home so "your mom won't worry." And if that is what you want to do, I guess that's OK, and I'm NOT looking for life or death stories to pass on to everyone (but I will admit, I am fond of retelling the drunk old men who want to kiss your blond/blue-eyed face stories). BUT I also wonder about your thoughts and feelings about things. I mean, your letters sound like everything is sunshine and roses down there: minor disappointments with investigators, a frustrating day after Elder Rodas cut his foot, getting locked in the church...and, seriously, if these are all the disappointments or frustrations that you've had so far then THAT IS GREAT! But, if not, if you're holding true feelings back because you're worried that I will worry, then, well, I don't think that's fair. So there you go.
The truth is that I am not the typical missionary mom. Unlike Jennifer Cannon or J.Russell's mom or Monica or Chase Call's mom, I have not sat pining after you, counting the hours and days until you come home. It's something that I sometimes feel guilty about - that I haven't felt to build a shrine in your honor while you're away like some of the other missionary moms. Sadly, I'm just... too busy and distracted in my brain to think about you all day long, and I know you've never asked/wanted me to do that, but I didn't even send you a Valentine's Day gift. I thought about it, but you hadn't received your Christmas gifts when I thought about sending a package in mid-January point, so I was pretty sure it would be too late. The point is that, at this point in my own life, I don't have the luxury of time and energy to worry and pine away after you. (I really hope that I haven't said things that hurt your feelings, or that you feel that you're not important to me - nothing could be further from the truth!) The reason I confess this to you is because if you're holding back because you don't want me to worry, you don't have to do that because I simply don't have time to worry about you in that way right now. Wow, that sounds awful. What I mean is, that you are in the Lord's hands and I am putting my faith and trust in Him that He will care for you while you are away. Also, the fact of the matter is that you're a grown man, a young adult. When you come home, you're not "coming home to Momma" so I can take care of you and relive the years when you were a young and helpless boy for the next 10 years while you dwindle away in the basement. When YOU come home you'll be leaving for Provo, UT within a matter of weeks! And, I feel, that is the way it should be. You will not progress and continue to grow into your manhood if you become "my little boy" again to fulfill some maternal selfishness. Golly, I hope this isn't coming across badly.
The point is - if you'd like to share nitty gritty experiences, I hope you will feel free to do so without worry that I will worry. I would rather know that I am some support to you by sharing your burdens and knowing HOW to pray for you in your trials than be kept in a bubble of sunshine and roses "for my own protection." OK. Enough on that end.
So - things at the ranch: Cassidy Wilde came home for medical reasons, but is planning to get healthy again and then return to the mission field. Dalaney Nelson leaves on Wednesday for the MTC and Brooke Williams leaves the following week. There are a lot of young men getting ready to send in papers as their Senior year draws to a close: Dalton Nelson is sending in his papers as soon as basketball is over in about 3 weeks; Edgar Mendoza, Randy Bauer, Lincoln Archibald have all gotten their wisdom teeth out - a telltale sign, and today in Stake Conference Wesley Killpack, Darren Cole, and several others (who I can't remember at the moment) were sustained to receive the Melchezedik priesthood. It will be interesting to see where they all go and fun to send you updates as mission calls are opened. :D It was a really great conference today. Sadly we were late and had to sit in the back, and as the opening song and announcements were going on, we saw Tommy sitting by himself and then Heidi and Justin sitting alone, too. So we invited them to come and sit with us, which made it really difficult to stay focused - their presence PLUS seeing all of the little kids struggling against their parents during stake conference! Note to self: arrive early next time! Still, I was able to feel the spirit and take some really great notes. Marjorie Pay Hinckely is my hero and I want to be like her as I grow up! I'll have to share my notes with you next week because this is already WAY too long AND the notes are on the iPad and Dad is using it right now.
Sam is going to leave Shelley High School. He had a meltdown about 10 days ago and was just.... done with traditional high school. I was super afraid that we were going to end up exactly where we were a year ago: Sam in BHC. But, that didn't happen. We let him stay home for a couple of days and sleep and recover from the big crash. But he just couldn't go back to school. I realize that sounds so weak, but after many conversations and fasting and prayer, we felt that it was best to give him some leeway, some room to figure this out. He was determined to just drop out of school and take the GED and start working, knowing full well that if that was his plan then he would be telling us and the world that he was finished with formal education and was ready to enter the world of work, and therefore would have to pay for a large portion of his life: car, gas, insurance, phone, internet, clothing, etc. This was, obviously, NOT what we wanted for him. The GED opens more doors than being a dropout does, but just a few. You can't even get into the Army without a high school diploma. Knowing Sam, we knew that we couldn't change his heart and mind - only the Lord could do that. And so we invited friends and family to join us in a fast for Sam (sorry we didn't invite you, it all happened within a 4 day period). And, while he hasn't transformed and decide to return to traditional high school, he HAS toured a technical high school and is going to visit an alternative high school on Monday. He said he knows that it is the right thing for him to get a high school diploma instead of the GED (evidence that the Lord has heard our prayers and has touched Sam's heart whether Sam recognizes it or not), but he is really unsure if he can "do" high school. The alternative high school looks to be the best option for him because he takes ONE class for 3 weeks and earns the full credit for that course. So, he can finish Junior English in 15 days of school. He said he's willing to give it a try. So, the future of Sam's education remains a clouded mystery, but we are working to keep moving forward, to love Sam for who/what he is right now - if he never changed - if he was as he is right now forever, and we are working to keep our faith in the Lord. Things are difficult, true, but they always are. The key is to be grateful - grateful that Sam is NOT in BHC right now, grateful that he is still talking to us openly and honestly, grateful that he hasn't run away from home or taken up drugs & alcohol as a means of self-medication, grateful that we have a great family support system who love and embrace Sam at every opportunity, grateful that Dad and I have good jobs, that our cars are currently working, that we have enough food and clothing and health to do what we need to do. We have SO much to be grateful for - despite the bumps in the road, we ARE living the dream.
Meg and Janie are doing well - they are both party animals and have a great time with great groups of friends. I must admit, as much as I loved watching Meg play ball, I'm glad the season is over! It's nice to just come home after rehearsal! hahahhaha The play is coming right along. We've hit the halfway point, so we're in that slog of rehearsals before we start run throughs and costumes and all that stuff. But it's going to be good. Lincoln is doing a great job in the lead role. This week I had a rehearsal with only 5 people to finish blocking some scenes we'd skipped. Consequently, they were all of the kissing scenes. So, there is this one scene where Alexis Bank's character has to kiss Lincoln's character. Since there were only a few of us there, I told her it would be a good time to just do it, just get it over with and so it wouldn't be so bad when the whole cast and their cat calls were present. Alexis hasn't had her first kiss yet, so she was super awkward. It was quite hilarious, but she got through it and then, the next day, they had to do it again in front of the whole cast who hooted and hollered like nobody's business. Alexis was a trooper, though. I was proud of her. Brecklyn Hobbs told Lincoln that if he need to practice the stage kiss she would volunteer to help him with those rehearsals. It's so funny what kisses do to teenagers. hahahahaha Oh, and be grateful that when you and Ellie had to kiss, her first kiss ever, there was no Snapchat or Instagram! Poor Alexis and Lincoln! hahahaha
So, I've attached some videos of your crazy sisters. This is what they've been doing while I've been writing this letter to you. Ah, a restful Sunday afternoon.
YOU I LOVE, sonny boy! The Lord is watching over you and will guide and direct your footsteps as you begin your work in the wonderful land of Vallenar. Can't wait to hear all about it!
Love from Mom
February 24, 2014
Hey Handsome! I hope you've had a good week. We're excited to hear from you today! It's been another busy week for us, as usual (no rest for the wicked), with rehearsals and mutual and such. But, it's been a good week. We're busy and moving forward, and so it's a good use of time.
Saturday was a ca-razy day! We had a rehearsal for the guys only (to learn a dance) at 7am until 8:30, then I went visiting teaching while Dad and Meg and Sam stayed at the high school to continue working on set stuff for the play (Meg is putting in extra hours to make money for her fun and games). I returned at 9:30 and continued shopping for costumes and things (this is an EXPENSIVE show - tons of costumes) while they finished up. They went home at 10:00 and I followed them about half an hour later. Then, we got home, changed, and left for Provo at 11:30 to go to the BYU Men's Basketball game - their last home game - that Santa had given Dad for Christmas. :D That is, Dad and I and the girls went to Provo - Sam went to Sweetheart Ball. So, of course, we got to Provo early, so we went to a really fun arcade called NickelCity where the games take nickels instead of quarters. Most games were 10-15 cents each to play and you earned tickets for crappy little toys, like at Leo's Place. Anyway, we stayed there for about 2 hours. It was great fun. Then we went to the Marriot Center to watch the game, and that was a blast. hahahaha I'm sure Dad will be giving you the same story - we really should coordinate our letters to you so you're not getting a double dose each week! We left the Marriot Center around 9:30 and decided to go to Cafe Rio to eat something with protein and complex carbohydrates before driving home, since we'd eaten only McDonalds and hot dogs and donuts and ice cream all day! (First world problems) Of course, Dad drove and I passed out cold. I wanted to stay awake with him - even brought my Relief Society lesson stuff to work on so he wouldn't be alone, but my body over-ruled and all three of the females in the car passed out. Dad finally stopped in Willard Bay and slept for a few hours before driving the rest of the way home. He's such a good guy. We got home at 3am and went straight to sleep until 9:45am when the Spirit reminded me that our home teachers were coming over at 10am! hahahaha Anyway, it was a great time - fun memories and lots of laughs.
Sam seemed to have a good time at Sweetheart with Taylor Young. They were going to go ice skating for the day date, but there was a hockey game, so they just went to Walmart and messed around for a while. Then, they came home, changed, and went to someone's barn/garage for a big feast - there were about 10 couples involved. You know Sam, though, not alot of details, but he said he had fun. :D The theme was "Great Gatsby" which is Roaring Twenties. You can kind of see him in the photos (black shirt and pink tie).
Anyway, we love you and are so grateful that you're part of our family. We miss you and look forward to having you home again, but feel blessed to know that you're serving your Father in Heaven and sharing His gospel with the wonderful people in Chile. I'm sure there are days when the work is not so great, but we admire you for continuing on and doing your best to stay positive and to love the people you serve for that is the only way anyone can be successful: love.
AND WE LOVE YOU!
Until next week, my dear son -
Love from Mom