Letters from Mom January 2015

January 27, 2015

HI!  This is just a snippet of thought.  I was looking at the calendar and thinking about the logistics of when you could have surgery.  So, Casey does surgeries on Wednesdays and Fridays.  He will, of course, need to see you before he can cut you open and fix you up.  So, the earliest he could do that initial visit would be the 20th of July.  I have already scheduled an appointment for you for that day (or the 21st depending on how things go).  You could have surgery the following Friday, the 24th, but you will report your mission on the 26th (more than likely), so it isn't reasonable for you to be in a soft cast and unable to wear pants for that event.  hahahaha  The next option is to have surgery on the 29th or 31st.  Grandma has booked a cabin at Bear Lake for Monday the 27th through Thursday the 30th.  In my opinion, it will be most ideal for you to come home from that reunion and then have surgery on Friday, July 31st.  

I understand you're concerned about being on crutches at school.  Rightly so.  I looked at the calendar from your last surgery, which was March 29, 2013.  You were off crutches in time for Prom with Lexa, which was May 4, 2013 - a 5 week span.  There are 4 1/2 weeks from July 31 - August 31.  I think it is highly likely that you can be off crutches in time for school if you speak in church on July 26th, go to the reunion on the 27th through the 30th, and have surgery on the 31st.  No guarantees, of course, but it seems highly likely.   

I spoke with Casey's receptionist, and they, of course, can't schedule surgery without seeing you... or at least seeing an MRI of your knee.  We are looking in to whether or not our insurance would cover an MRI in Chile. hahaha  We'll keep you posted, my love!

Talk to you later!


PS (and I wonder if I should even say this) Feel free to invite Lexa to the family reunion at Bear Lake.  OK. That's it. 

January 26, 2015

Well, whew!  What a week we have had!  But let's talk about you for a minute first.  I will do my usual thing - pepper you with questions - and then get on to the day old, day old about us.  :)

So, yeah, that must've been a crazy week last week!  How is the family that was going to separate this week?  I hope they have been able to figure it out.  Marriage is not the easiest thing, but it is the best thing ever.  And like all of the best things in this world - and in Heavenly Father's plan for Happiness, to be honest - it requires effort and work.  That seasoning of effort is what makes it so deliciously sweet.  D&C 104:82 applies (let's see if I have it really committed to memory), "And inasmuch as you are humble and faithful and call upon my name, behold, I will give you the victory."  Did I pass? [checking] SO CLOSE!  "inasmuch as YE are humble..."  not "you."  hahaha  So, yeah.  That verse pretty much applies to anything that we want in life... including eternal life.  Humility, faith, and prayer - these are the keys to victory.  How is the trio going?  Will you stay with Elder Sanchez after Elder Gines returns home?  When does Elder Gines "die?"  It must be soon, yeah?  And where is he from again?  It seems like it was somewhere close to us - Utah? Idaho?  Hmmmm.... what other questions can I ask to make sure you're truly peppered?  ;)  OH!  We got your knee video (ugh), and I will call both Bryan and Casey this week to see if we can make some tentative preliminary plans for you and surgery.  Also, my prayers have become much more specific about your well-being.  I now pray that you will be blessed to finish your mission, that your knee will hold together for the next 6 months so that you can finish the work you are called to do.  Truly, it is miraculous that you can even move around on that broken old thing.  You must be wearing your brace constantly, no?  Is there anything we can send you that would help?  And don't you dare think about how expensive postage is because I'm going to send you at LEAST one more package before you come home, so there you go. :D  OK - enough pepper.  I don't want you to cough and choke and die on me. ;)

So, last week was INSANE!  We had a long day of travel on Monday.  We flew out of Maui at 11:00pm Hawaii time (which was 2am Idaho time) and arrived in Portland at 6:15a (which was 7:15 Idaho time), then waited for more than 3 hours before we boarded our flight to Salt Lake, about a two hour flight, which put us on the ground around 12:30pm, then waiting for luggage, taking the shuttle to the car park, and finally on the road.  So, about 10 hours in airports and on airplanes before we drove home.  We stopped in Layton and had some lunch before we finally made it home at 6pm.  Crazy long day, but it was great to be home.  Maui was amazing, truly beautiful and soooooo much fun, but it's not real life.  As crazy as real life is, I prefer it to fantasy.  :)

The next day, of course, I went to school and tried to get up to speed with what my substitute had been doing for that first week of the semester while I was gone, then, BOOM, auditions!  We held auditions on Tuesday and Wednesday from 4-8pm (actually later than 8 each night) and saw over 80 auditions!  Holey macaroni!  So, then we cut that list from 80+ to 50 for call backs on Thursday and Friday, then cut THAT list down to 34 cast members for the show. Oi vay!  So today is our first rehearsal - the FAQ, parent meeting, get your scripts, intro to the show "rehearsal" - and we're off and running!  There were a few surprises this year, as there are every year.  The first one was that Alexis Banks did not audition - do you remember her?  Tall and thin, gorgeous voice? She came to my room on Tuesday and told me that she had a strong prompting that she isn't supposed to be part of this show this year.  She was crying, I was fighting tears, and I told her that following that impression was the most important thing to do.  The next surprise was a girl named Alyssa Turpin who was in the show last year as a supporting character/"Hot Box" dancer.  She came out strong and lovely and we were deeply impressed - we cast her as Maria.  The third surprise was in the form of dejavu.  Five years ago, Gabe Nii walked in to audition for Oklahoma on a whim, wearing a basketball uniform.  On Wednesday, here come Sam Nii, wearing a basketball (it was half-time at a boys bball game), who was convinced by some other students to come and audition.  He will be our Captain Von Trapp.  I was totally expecting to put Kolby in that leading role, but Sam was the perfect fit!  Kolby has a supporting role, which includes two songs, so I hope he is OK with that.  hahaha  Janie is one of the Von Trapp children, Louisa, and she will do great.  It's funny because Louisa is the third child and supposed to be about 13 years old.  However Louisa's two older siblings, Friedrich and Leisl, are both played by 8th graders who are taller than Janie!  hahaha  It is going to be alot of fun, I think.  Meg is going to be a nun and a stage manager.  We were actually considering her for a more leading role - possibly even Maria - but she is gong to have too many time conflicts because she got moved up to the varsity basketball team!  She is so excited about that, and I am super excited for her, too!  She got the uniform and will dress down with the varsity team for their last regular season game on Friday.  Oh, yeah.  We'll be sure to take pics.  So, Meg's season does not end on Friday.  Playoffs will be the next two weeks and then, if they do well, they will got to state in mid February.  Pretty awesome!   

The not so good news is that Sam is in a real and serious slump.  This one is a little different from other slumps he's had.  He has pretty much given up on life these days.  He doesn't shower, doesn't eat, doesn't sleep... I mean, he'll eat, but only when his body is shaking from lack of food because he "can't be bothered" to get up and get himself some food.  He took out the garbage in bare feet on a super cold night last week because it didn't matter if he wore shoes or not, it didn't matter if his feet froze.   Everything is so tedious and pointless to him in his life right now, even the basic things.  He still wants to move out, but it's not the step forward, toward independence that we thought it was.  He wants to move out because it would be "easier for us" to not have to deal with him.  This is a worrisome trend because those who complete suicide, who overcome that natural and fierce self-preservation instinct, do it when they feel the world and all those they love would be better off without them, that the world would be a better place without them.  That, research has shown, is the only thing that can overcome self-preservation.  So, yeah.  This idea that we'd be better off without him is a red flag in my mind.  My thoughts are that he needs to go back into the hospital for a time to have more constant evaluation, to keep him safe, and to work through meds more efficiently.  Sam does not want to go into the hospital because he doesn't believe there is any medication anywhere ever that can help him, so what's the point?  He thinks therapy is pointless and that he is "screwed," so why try?  It's not a good place that we're in, and the fact that he is now 18 and considered an adult, legally, puts us in a difficult place.  We can't compel him to go to the hospital, or to do anything, for that matter.  I mean, insofar as he lives at home with us, we can compel him, but... he could leave.  He could move out.  He could disappear... or worse.  There are so many stories of mentally ill people who live homeless or end up in jail.  Truth be told, I am deeply afraid of living through those scenarios.  But I don't really get to make those choices, do I?  So, yeah.  A difficult time, BUT we will be humble, faithful, and call upon the Lord and He will give us the victory... in whatever form that may take.  We are inviting all the family to include Sam and the choices that lie before us in their fast this coming Sunday.  You are invited as well, my dear one.  

OK, let's move on.  We've had good news, bad news, and now for the strange news.  So, we've had this weird, freezing fog/rain stuff for the last few days which has covered EVERYTHING in a thin layer of ice.  I mean, even the gravel has been so slick!  Yesterday, on his way to church, Jake slipped on the sidewalk and broke his fingers... like almost a compound fracture!  The bones were poking through the skin although they didn't actually break the skin.  So, what does Jake, the rugby player, do?  He snaps the bones back into place, tapes them together and goes to church!  What the what?  Seriously, that guy....  They are hoping to buy a house soon, or at least to move into a rental.  That will be nice for them to have their own place.  Also, Jake is finishing up the Seminary program.  He got high recommendations in his last practicum and will be teaching for two weeks at Madison High in February.  I'm really excited for him!  He is a great teacher!  It will be interesting to see where they finally end up once he's an official teacher of seminary.  :)

OK!  That's it for the week!  I can't wait to hear from you!  I love you so, so much!

Love from Mom

alright... low on time so im headed straight to the questions, but one thing!!! im going to make a video for sam and put it in the one drive in FOLDER X. please get him to watch it..

The family did make it back together. it was just a big over reaction with a thoughtless comment toward a woman who had recentlygiven birth... but everything is ok now.

I am now in a trio with Elder Sanchez and Elder Chambi. Elder Sanchez will die in 6 weeks. Elder Gines died last night. he is from Eagle idaho, right outside of boise. the same stake as Elder Mangum.

I dont wear my brace bexcasue walking i really dot need it. if i were ever to make hard movements i would though. luckily my muscles hold it tight enough when i just walk nice and easy... anything that i would need for my leg..... i literally cant think of anything. lets just get it operated so it can get better again.

about that package.... what if we compromised that, i know youre gonna send something but what if you sent something really small for this last one and help me by a cell phone or something when i get home :) im going to be home in 6 months.... soooo not to necessary to send me much more. especially the last month or two... i hope that can be an acceptable thought from me... :) love ya mom!

January 18, 2015

Good morning, my dear! So it is our last day in Hawaii.   We will STILL be traveling when you look at email tomorrow,  so I thought I'd get a jump on things.   So were you on splits again this week? I guess you'd have to with the elders in the pension.   How did it go this week?   Oh, and just a suggestion,  if you love something that you eat down there -really love it- try to write down a recipe,  like for the black beans and cream that Elder Sanchez made.  There will come a time when you're back in the states when you really crave that Chilean food and you will wish you had gathered some recipes! I say that only from the experience of hearing Dad say how much he wishes he had the recipe for that one dish those people made for him in Australia!  Ha ha ha  So, just a suggestion.  Don't dedicate time to gathering recipes, of course,  but if Elder Sanchez is a good cook and you have a minute on a p-day ... you won't regret it when you want to make an authentic dish for your sweetheart at some future time.  :)

So that is super awesome to hear about Fernando.  He sounds like an amazing person, truly ready for the fulness of the gospel.   And Neomy sounds amazing,  too!   You will never forget these incredible  people. Yes, serving a mission is a sacrifice. Yes it is two years that you "give away" in service to the Lord,  but we are unprofitable servants!   Alma teaches that as soon as we do something to serve Him, He immediately blesses us and we remain in His debt forever.  So yes, you've sacrificed this time, but He has given you experience and relationships that will remain with you forever. ..and for all your service,  you remain an "unprofitable servant".  It's a good thing that He is not in this for Himself!  Truly His work and glory is to bless us,  His children,  we unprofitables.  It's so humbling and fills me with love and gratitude.   What a happy way to live, don't you think?  :D

OK, so I gather from your list of things that you're grateful for that your knee is pretty bad, yes?   You said you were grateful for a mostly flat sector."  This leads me to believe that climbing up and down things like stairs and hills is not a happy experience for you.  I'm so sorry that you have to go through this thing with your knee, and I am transversely grateful that you allow this experience to grow your faith rather than snuff it out.   One of dad's favorite cousins who is a returned missionary,  who married a woman who he helped to bring into the church, has not only left the church but is an active voice against it and the realty of God... because he gets cluster  headaches.  Now,  I understand that cluster headaches are incredibly awful and that the is no known cure,  but he allowed that pain to translate into first blaming God until he denied God entirely.   I have no idea how difficult it would be to live with cluster headaches and I have no idea how I would react. ..maybe I would do the same thing that Scott did,  so I can't judge him.  I can only say that it makes me sad to see how their countenances have changed. And it makes me grateful that you have not allowed your suffering to drag you down to blame and denial.  Thanks for not giving in to that temptation.  Now that we have an official release date,  I will contact Casey and Bryan and get a plan on motion for your knee.   If you get a chance this week,  maybe take some pictures or video of your knee so they can get a feel for what is going on. ..just in case. I don't know if they will need it,  but it's better to hand and not need if it should come up,  yes? 

On to other topics:  Maui is incredible.  Truly one of the most beautiful places on Earth.  We have loved every minute that we've beenhere. The weather is great, perfect  actually, and so consistent! It kind of freaks me out after living in changeable Idaho all my life! Hahaha  Grandma and grandpa Gold have been so wonderful, so generous.  They have forked out a lot of money for us to be here with them, and I'm super grateful!   They've also taken us to a couple of really nice restaurants.  We went to a famous restaurant called Mamma's Fish House in Paia which was amazing (and super expensive) - artistry with food!  

And then we went to"The Feast of Le Le" which is a luau with a dude course meal.  They have food from Hawaii and then dancers performing hula and other traditional Hawaiian dances, then food and entertainment from New Zealand (Maori ), Tahiti,  Samoa,  THEN  a dessert course!  Each course f featured 4-5 entrée items.  It was a lot of food!

We also spent a day driving "The Road to Hana" which is a drive with some extremely picturesque vistas. It was beautiful.  We stopped and swam at a black sand beach.  Also,  we went snorkeling and whale watching.  That was amazing!  The water is incredibly blue and we could hear whale song when we were under water snorkeling.  Whales were that close and that prevalent!   Humpback whales come to this part of the ocean in winter to mate and to give birth, so there are tons of whales.  We could stand out on our balcony and see them blowing,  rolling,  even breaching!  It was amazing.   All in all it has been great trip!   But,  we are anxious to get home.  This is a nice fantasy,  but I like real life,  too....keeps me grounded.  Real life is real and this is a vacation...impotent to make that distinction and live in the moment wherever we are,  yes?   We were hoping to go to sacrament meeting here in Maui,  there is a chapel just a few miles away,  but the timing just didn't work out for us with checking out and saying good bye and all.   Next time,  next time.   So there you go.   I added lots of pictures to a "Hawaii" folder inside of "January 2015" on one drive.

And now we had for home.  I'm excited to see the kids and to knuckle down and get back to the work of life.   Life is good.  God is great.   You I love.   

Talk to you next week,  mi hijo.

Love from Mom

January 12, 2015

Hello, my darling!  Right now, Dad and I are sitting on out balcony outside of our room  listening to the ocean and writing go you.  You may be getting a lot of the same stuff from us today!   I can't believe that we are I Hawaii.  Seriously, I'm  freaking out.  It is so beautiful here.  I mean, it's January so it's probably not as lush as it is at other times of the year, but it is still amazing.  I don't have many pics yet because my phone died yesterday while we were at dinner and I didn't get it charged until we went to bed. 

It was a long day yesterday!   We started the day at 4:15 at Gma and GPA Gold's house, which was 1:15am Hawaii time and then arrived in Maui at 2:30, which was 5:30 Idaho time.   So it was 12 hours in airports and on airplanes ha ha ha.   I'm sure you know exactly how we feel!  You've spent alot of time in travel on your mission and with your calling!   All in all it was a long day.  We tried to stay up as late as we could last night to get ourselves acclimated to Hawaii time,  but we couldn't make past 9 pm. ..which was midnight Idaho time....nearly a 24 hour day for your old folks!   Jinkies!

Saturday,  Dad and I went to Provo asked speed out campus.   We looked at some on campus housing and of campus housing options.   We age that, for this first semester, while you're recovering from surgery,  on campus is going to be best.   Most of the of campus housing is at the bottom of the hill to the south of campus and requires loss and lots of stairs to get to classes,  which wouldn't be a problem if you weren't ....yeah. I talked to Bryan huntsman last week at one of meg's games and we talked about you and the mission (he says hello) and your knee of course.  He recommended an apartment without a lot of stairs.   He said you'd probably not be on crutches by the time classes start at the end of august,  but you would be in a brace and still have some mobility limitations.  The new Heritage Halls are super nice,  we got to walk around inside a little, and we approve!   So we'll do our best to make that happen in the next month or so.   Also they have elevators so you wouldn't have to be on ground level,  as Bryan suggested,  for your knee.   Later that night we went to a BYU men's basketball game which was super fun,  but Meg was not happy. ..not happy that we were going to Hawaii in the first place, but it only added insult to injury that we were going to a basketball game,  too!  Ha ha ha  I sent some pics and videos of what you get to look forward to this fall in the Marriott Center.  Ha ha ha

So we all survived the first semester of school. Today,  as we speak,  the new semester.  begins.  I have a new crop of students...who are meeting their substitute teacher. Ha ha ha that was part off the craziness of getting ready for Hawaii. ..planning a week of lessons that the sub could follow for the first week of classes.  I feel a tingling of guilt at not being there today to meet and welcome my students, but it gets less noticeable with every crash of the waves.  ha ha ha  the girls did well on their finals.  Regardless of grades,  they both studied and prepared and then asked the Lord to help them, so they were successful.   They humbled themselves (studied and prepared), prayed (Janie even requested a blessing), and then had faith in the Lord (Meg reported how much she felt Heavenly Father helped her on her chemistry test), and they were given the victory (D&C 104:82).   Good girls.   Love them! 

While they are in school,  we are going to be doing NOTHING today.  Ha ha ha  today is a sit on the beach and read day. Tomorrow we are going snorkeling AMF whale watching.  Wednesday we are going on a drive around the island to see the beauty,  much like a trip to Yellowstone back home,  and Thursday were going to a luau, and Friday were going to see a volcano.  In between, we are going to sit and listen to the ocean.  It is going to be very therapeutic because the day AFTER we get back,  we start auditions for the musical... lock and load, baby! 

BUT for now,  I will "embrace the shining moments" and live in the moment and say that I love you and then go and enjoy this amazing day.   I hope you will do the same.   You I love!   I'm sure I'll send a lengthy letter with all kinds of details about or agents and loads of pics next week, so brace yourself for that!   Until then...




awesome. i gald you get to be calm.

Elder Gines says they have a room especially for handicap kids, and if i will be on crutches... im thinking about a wheel chair, and they have a room thats made for wheelchairs on the ground floor. also... i dodnt know how in the world i wont be on crutches... july 15th im at home.. so july...24? surgery? then 6 weeks on crutches. i also wanted to ask that guy about my physical therapy and such, and remembered that i need to have that in mind whith my clas schedule. but im glad that he is cool with me going to college in august. i was a little worried about what he would say, i thought about that this week. the whole thing about physical therapy... and doctor appoinments... lots of stuff. but i know it will all work out somehow. i also thought about a few things... posibly not going to school in august. which i dont want to do. and posibly coming homw a tiny bit early... wich i dont want to do. buttttt thats what i had thought. sooo yeah. theres my thinking on that so far. have an awesome time in maui!!!!

Bryan said that since it's more of a repair than a reconstruction, it won't be like the first time when they kept you off of it for 2 months.  He thought 4 weeks on crutches would be a max.  And he said that PT and stuff down there, in Provo, would be no problem.  We can do all of this when you have a solid release date. When we have that date, we can set up appointments and even a pushover surgery date with Casey. If you have surgery by the end of the month you have a solid month to recover and get waking before classes begin in Provo.  I don't this you're going to want to wait, darling. After being so active and productive and engaged in s great work, you're going to shrivel up if you postpone schooling. Ha ha ha. But that is just my impression.  The Lord knows all and He will guide and direct and we will wait upon Him.  You are absolutely right. It will work out just add it should. 

im totally de acuerdo, i imagined myself just sitting on the couch reading and watching movies and stuff and i alomst threw up, one of the many reasons i dont want to wait. my release date is july 15. i will be home on that day. and if i will only be on crutches for 4 weeks i will definately not be coming home early so that is my date for sure. landing on idaho soil july 15. 

Groovy!  Well make things happen so you'll be set to go!   It will bee great, my love! 

Also, great news!  Sean and Tammy are expecting a baby just weeks after you get home, and Mickaela and Bleu just a few weeks after that! 

FROM DAD, January 12, 2015

hello my son sorry I haven't written you for a last couple of weeks

mom and I are writing to you this morning from beautiful Maui. we're excited about the activities we get to do this week and be able to relax and just chill out before the big windup of the musical starts. 

it was funny both meg and Janie were not so excited for us but we got to come tomorrow early without family that you thought for sure that they should get to come but this was a gift from Grandma and Grandpa gold to us and we tried to explain that to them but they were just fixed on the fact that they couldn't get come with us. so I asked them how they would feel if it was  mom and I had invited them to Hawaii and their children couldn't come and I think that helped them see a little clearer.

Just broke this up to make sure you got it before you sent letters.  I intended to write you while flying here yesterday but it just didn't happen. we had a crazy flight day yesterday when we boarded in SLC we sat on the tarmac for an hour or longer because there was fog in San Jose and they wouldn't  be able to land. So we finally got in the air but then when we reached San Jose we circled for another 45 min. Before they were able to land. so our little 1 hour 30 minutes flight turned in to be about closer to a four hour flight time so we missed our connection from San Jose to Maui but we had the pilot on board our airplane so we actually didn't technically miss our flight cuz they just delayed it until we got there.  Other than that the only excitement was that I had one of those stupid heartburn episodes where it feels like someone has a crow bar under my brisket.  I have only had about 4 or so of them ever, but they are one of the most painful things that I have every experienced :(

As I flew over the Pacific ocean I couldn't help but think of the last time I flew over it, that was when I was returning from Australia. It's crazy, it doesn't seem that long ago to me but it was 1992 . Yup, I am the old man now :-).

Well, mom is writing all about our adventure at BYU so I'll let her tell you that fun stuff. I will just add that as we were talking about all the decisions and fun stuff that you get to go through it just brought back memories of me attending college and how it's a crazy time of life but it's a fun fun time too and I look forward to you having that opportunity.

we had an interesting experience this week with sam, as we have tried again to continue to do scripture study we asked him if he would be apart of it and he declined and we let him have that option but as we started to do it he was on the computer and he just kind of, not intentionally but he joined in and was making comments and was like " hey I know that" and it was good.  so we will definitely try to make our scripture study near him and I think we will find that he does participate more than he thinks he would.

I have to share another funny happenstance that happened to me the other day at work.  I was asked to go to  take part in what they call an FAT which is a factory acceptance test for this new system that we're going to be getting  this year and I said you bet I'll go ahead and do that, and as I was looking at some of the design review documents  I looked and where they were located because I'm like oh hey I'm going to be going there to do in this review and they're located in where else.... Lansdale Pennsylvania that's the punchline.
 I don't if you remember but when I was doing all that work for the computer stuff we did in 2010 I probably spent 12 weeks of that year in Lansdale, of all the places in this nation, 50 states, that I could visit they will be sending me to Lansdale  again its crazy. 
I love you, and I am awful proud of you, and grateful for you! Your in the "fourth quarter" now. Finish strong and enjoy every minute, there truly is nothing like a mission.  I think about when I will get to serve again with Mom and I am very excited, I can't wait! I know it's another trite saying but "you have two years to serve and the rest of your life to remember it". Keep it up and the the faith you Stud!


January 5, 2015
2015 is here.  Can you even believe it?  So much change ahead for all of us, but loads and loads for you, my dear, as you mentioned last week.   The good thing is, “by the inch it’s a cinch; by the yard it’s hard,” so we’ll take each day as it comes and embrace the moment –live the moment – and refuse the temptation to borrow worry.  I know that will be key for you in these last months of your mission, but I’m not just lecturing you, my dearest.  That is good advice for all of us. 
Sam is planning to move out.  I knew that 2015 would be a hallmark year – it would be the year when both of my boys became independent young adults (of course, you’ve been at it for nearly two years already) and left home.  Granted, back in the day I thought Sam would be moving out to serve a mission and/or to go to college.  That is not currently in the cards, and that’s ok.  But he does want to move out.  It’s a natural thing – a young man is eager to get out and be on his own – and I’m glad he can feel that much of a drive, that much hope that there could be something better than what he has right now.  And that is a big deal because he is in a low right now.  We are beginning to see a 6 month pattern when he seems to hit bottom for a while before he cycles back “up” again.  I’ve begun making notes of when he is very down and the last time he was super down was in June.  So, that would make sense.  It was January two years ago when this all surfaced in the first place.  ANYWAY, he wants to be out on his own for lots of reasons, and while that kind of scares the crap out of me, I think it will be a good thing, too…for all of us.  We are going to meet with Health and Welfare Services this week to get paper work started for Sam.  He has a disability that currently prevents him from moving forward with his life, so, on the advice of many others who have lived with children with mental illness, we are going to ask for some of our tax dollars to be put to work in Sam’s behalf.  I don’t even know all that we’ll get/need/ask for… change is ahead.  Does it bug you that we talk about Sam all the time?  It bugs your sisters.  Hahahaha  I can understand why, but all the same… gah!  Ah well… Day by day, right?
So, I love your letters, my dear one.  I love the feeling that you share with us about your devotion to God and to the work you are doing for Him right now.  I am glad that you are devoted  - dedicated to His work.  Love this time in your life, this singular and peculiar time.  There will be so many distractions when you come home!  Dad and I have been talking a lot lately about our spirituality as individuals and as a family.  Sad to report, we have not been stellar in our efforts with regard to scripture reading, prayer, temple attendance, and FHE.  I found that while I feel I can be pretty generous with money and material things – it’s not hard for me to part with that – and while I can give my energy when called – and I give my all when I do – I struggle to give of my time.  (I feel that time, energy, and money/resources are the big THREE things that the Lord has given us to negotiate our time on Earth.)  I‘m selfish with my time.  When I am called, specifically asked, to give my time I don’t have a problem, but when it is that voluntary sacrifice of time… oh, I struggle; the voluntary sacrifice of time to attend the temple, to read scriptures as a family, to study scriptures individually, to be more than a once-a-month visiting teacher, to attend my monthly Relief Society meetings.  It’s just way too easy to listen to “the natural man” who tells me that I’ve worked so hard and I deserve a rest, that I am still recovering from a truly brutal school year last year, that I need time with my family and with my husband first and foremost (which is true, but it is a lie from Satan when it becomes an excuse, don’t you think?).  Anyway, I also struggle with doing things that I’m “supposed to do” for the right reasons.  Ironically, every since I went to BYU-Idaho, I have been wary of being Pharisaical. I don’t want to read scriptures, or hold FHE, or have family prayer, or go to the temple, or go to my Relief Society meetings, or be the Visiting Teacher I “should be” for the wrong reasons.  It’s not enough for me to read scriptures just because I’m “supposed to” – it makes me feel rebellious and it isn’t enough of a reason to change my heart enough to make the change last.  Does that make sense?  So Dad and I have been talking lately about why we do the things we do – do we do them to be seen of men, like the Pharisees?  Do we do them because we’re afraid we’ll go to hell if we don’t, like many Christians in the world?  Do we do them because we feel guilty if we don’t and then need to beg for penance or flagellate ourselves in some way, like some Catholics that I know of?  [big sigh]  We both agree that we believe that doing these things will benefit our lives, it will make us better, closer to Go; and being closer to God will allow us to feel His spirit and be more clearly directed in our lives.  We know, from past experience, that we experience greater peace, more profound happiness, when we are living close enough to feel His spirit as a more constant companion.  SO WHY THE HECK IS IT SO HARD TO KEEP THAT FEELING?  WHY IS IT SO EASY TO GET DISTRACTED AND STRAY INTO THOSE MISTY DARK PLACES ALONG THE PATH OF THE IRON ROD?  I used to say that the reason WHY doesn’t matter so much as the HOW to get back on the path, and I still believe that wholeheartedly.  At the same time, I am kind of sick of finding myself lost in mists of darkness, ya know what I mean?!?  Hahahaha  So it’s time to do some self- evaluation and make a change. 
I wish I could say that I already knew the answer, but it will take some time, I think.  Meanwhile, we are making changes in our daily worship.  We are going to have a jar that has questions or topics and we will draw one out and study the topic or question as a family rather than sitting in a circle and reading two verses at a time.  We hope that will make scripture study more meaningful and real in all of our lives.  We’ve made a more realistic plan for FHE and all have committed to participate (even Sam although he reserves the right to remove himself from topics that he does not want to discuss).  For Dad and I , we have decided to put temple service and our Visiting/Home teaching on the calendar each month so it’s no longer “a good idea if we have time and if we don’t have anything else to do” but something that lives in the calendar, something that can be rescheduled, but is always on the calendar – it’s not something that has to be squeezed in to avoid the terrible guilt (and where does that guilt come from?  What motivates that guilt? Satan or a Pharisaical pride?  Probably a strong combination since one feeds on the other).  So we’ll see how that works out for us.  I have confidence that it will work – our efforts will be blessed and we will find success if we strive for it for the right reasons.
Wow – that was super long.   I guess I’ll end with this:  Dad and I leave for Hawaii in less than a week!  Holy Frijoles!  That is so exciting!  Next week, I will be writing to you from Maui.  Yes.  That will be a fun time.  AND, I feel so incredibly grateful that I am not worried about leaving the kids here at home.   We had a good old family council tonight and ironed out things.  The kids came up with ideas and so they were able to buy in and I feel confident that they will survive the 10 days we’re gone.  And then we get back and WHAM!  Auditions for the play.  Oh, my giddy aunt!  That is going to be kind of crazy, I think!  Janie is already such a stress bucket about it.  She worries and practices and worries all the time!  I dunno what I’m gonna do with that girl! Hahahaha
OK.  So it’s time to be done.  It’s the last few days of the semester PLUS we’ve got to retrain ourselves to not be such lazy slugs!  Hahaha  So, with that, and as mentioned in my last little blurb letter last week, I need to ask you a question about the future,  the mysterious beyond, the time foretold… Are you ready?  OK.  Well, wait.  I have to give some background info first, I guess.  You mentioned last week that thinking about all that is ahead of you, and the possibilities, is a little daunting.  Dad and I have thought about that quite a bit, and we’d like to offer you some counsel.  We think that you need to get your knee taken care of almost immediately after you get home.  Like within weeks of getting off the plane.  The reason behind this is that we feel it will be far better for you to have it fixed while you’re still on our insurance and before you marry (because it would be a drag to be a newlywed with a broken knee for lots of reasons – financial issues being primary among them).  Yes, that would mean that you’d probably spend the first few weeks of school on crutches, but I think that will be better than the middle of the semester.  It’s not going to be fun regardless of when it is – Lexa will attest.  Besides, there won’t be much going on those weeks between the mission and when you leave for school, so it’s a good time to be in pain laying on a couch and going to physical therapy, right? Hahahaha  Also, we counsel you to go to at least one semester of school before acting on any decisions of an eternal nature – namely, marrying Lexa, if she is still in that zone and only the Lord knows the answer to that question.  Once again, the broken knee would be a very real drag and drain on a new marriage – if you were married quickly, in September, then you’re either already on crutches OR you have that to look forward to in the first months of a new marriage – it could be a heavy burden to two students who are trying to figure out marriage AND school AND work AND everything else.  Know what I mean?  So, that is our counsel, but you are the one entitled to revelation, and we trust that you will do what is right and best.  J
Alright, NOW here is our question:  are you interested in on-campus housing at BYU-Provo, aka “the dorms,” or off-campus housing?   We’ve asked around and looked around, and there are several options that would be close to campus, so a person on crutches wouldn’t have to struggle too much.  Dad’s cousin, Heather, said that her husband loved the dorms at BYU, Helaman Halls, which are right on campus, so another good option for a cripple like you. ;)  He said they are way nice and have a great atmosphere.  But there are other off-campus options that are great, too.  Clark had a few suggestions (and a few suggestions of where NOT to go).  Anyway, Dad and I are going to be down there on Saturday and thought we could look at a few places while we’re there.  So if you don’t know for sure right now, we can give you a report about the different places we saw and let you make your decision then, yeah?  If you really don’t care, we’ll just look at the options and present them to you and then make that choice for you, if you want.    So, all you have to answer is “dorms” or “off campus” or “more info, please” OR “I don’t really care.”
OH, I also think I may have done a bad thing.  It didn’t dawn on me until today, but I may have made a misstep last night while we were at Tauni Ackerman O’Donnell’s reception (she looks wildly happy, by the way).  We saw Kayla and Colten McEwan and I went over to see their little baby Alice, who is super adorable and tiny.  At that table was a former roommate of Kayla’s who told me that she had met you a few times before the mission.  She’s a tall blonde?  I don’t remember her name, actually. Anyway, she told me that she is rooting for you – you and Lexa.  She really liked you a lot when she met you, and hoped that you two would be together.  I told her that I agreed, that I wanted Lexa to date and have fun experiences, but I didn’t want her to really like any of the guys she dated too much.  And then we talked about how soon you’d be coming home and I mentioned how you’d said you’d like to marry that girl if she was still around in six months and that was the bad thing that I said.  I think I maybe shouldn’t have said that because Kayla was right there, and I can bet she told Lexa what I said that you had said about wanting to marry her because that is what I would’ve done with my little sister.  So, I’m not sure if it’s a secret and I just blurted it out or not, but I am sorry for not being more cautious.  Sadly, that wasn’t the only inappropriate thing I said – I said something about Colten and Kayla’s cute baby and how they should make more because the recipe for “the soup” was just right…. Ugh.  Henry.  When will I learn to think more clearly before I speak?  Jordan Meine was doubled over laughing at me.  Oi. So, I’m sorry if I said something wrong or if I broke a trust.  It was never my intent to do either, but I might have done both.  Truth be told, we want to just claim Lexa as our own right now, but we also don’t want to jinx anything.  Hahahaha   Anyway, I’m sorry.  I don’t mean to be untrustworthy.  [big sigh]
You I love, my darling.  Have a marvelous week ahead.  I look forward to hearing more about Ronald and about Fernando, and I hope things are patched up with Carolina.  Also, I have to ask what color your blanket is on your bed.  OK.  That’s all for now.  Over and out.
 Love from Mom

wow! what a letter! i love your letters so much!!!! so we will start last things first and then see where this thing goes haha. my blanket is blue.... why in the world are you asking me that? 

Maui! good gracious! is this the trip with gramma and grandpa Gold? i feel like i vaguely remember something like that but not very well. have an awesome time! live it up!!

sam.... i really hoped to be able to live together for the first bit while i was home... when is he moving out. we will just have to respect his decision... maybe i will go live with him for a week or something. i have to reactivate that boy. i CAN feel the spirit. i know it. its gonna be his choice obviously but i have to give it my best shot!

The whole thing about doing what you should even when you dont want to.... do you think God is happier when we do what we should or when we do what we shouldnt. regardless of the reason. Alma says that even if we have only a desire we should let that seed grow and sprout within us. Maybe right now the desire to do it for love towards God isnt that big... but if we just do it anyway it grows. When i started reading the scriptures, i didnt want to. i was like forcing myself to read. those first few months in Chile i wanted to go home! but i just stuck it out for lots of reasons but some of them being because i didnt want the shame of going home. MANY MANY times we start out doing the right thing for the wrong reason, but we find the reason along the way. john 7 17. we have to do it before we can feel it.   Carolina (things are all good with her again btw) thinks that same thing. she doesnt like it when people say that we need to "strive" to read the BOM and stuff because she think that we should do everything by love for God and that it shouldnt be something we have to try for. in my mind that is a very romantic thought! i wish that the world could be that way! i think it would be soooo great! but we are humans, and sometimes we dont have our priprities right. sometimes, we have to strive. but i personally have seen the payoff on the strive part. so maybe right now, its scary to act for the phear of being pharasiacal or however thats spelled. but just try and not be pharasiacal and do it anyway, because its what God asks. random thought. 

The knee!!! i am totally in agreement with that. i have seen that as far as the knee goes thats really the only good option, SO! lets do that... could we maybe set up a Doctors visit sooner than later so that we can schedule the surgery for a few weeks after? if we did that like the first week i think the doctor would have more time to fit me into the schedule seeing as how im not an emergency... and with LExa, i think that is a good idea. september option out! one step by one step. so we will just take a chill pill and that, know that we have a little more itme and call it good. more calm. thank you.

My comp offered to live off campus with me which i think would be sw2eet but it will probably be important to live on campus if im a cripster, soooo on campus and if its at all possible the New Heritage! supossedly thats the best! so thats my vote but i trust ya! helaman would also work. old heritage not so much

Im thinking her name was Kristina! and i called her Tina... she had long blode hair that was probably curled? really thin? ummm with the first part... dont worry. that definately wasnt a bad thing to say to her. to be totally honest my relationship with tina was pretty fake. she may have liked me but i didnt really like her that much.. i just liked kissing her. one of those things i get to thinjk about FOREVER now. awesome right? gotta love that. anyw2ays. dont worry. she wasnt even a plan B. honestly i hope it want her and just some other girl that had met me but that i hadnt kissed because thats just really embarassing but thats ok! and dont worry. Lexa knows that thats how i feel about it. and thats how ive felt about it forever. she has no ties right now. she can date AAALLLLLLLL she wants and im not gonna say squat! but if she doeswnt find a boy, imma do my bes tto be that boy! all is well. and if Kayla tells Lexa, i doubt it will be surprising to her and hopefully she will like it ;) so dont worry. and the other thing is just hilarious! one of the many reasons i love you! im sure Jordan miene had zillions of memories from that!

could you look up Kristina Taylor on facebook and tell me if it was her, or if not somehow try to find a pic or something? i dunno.

Love ya mom! thanks for everything!

Her name is Megan Slade... I think that's her married name.  

oh... well then... how embarassing that i told you that whole story! hah! wellllll im glad she though i was a good person.... totally misinterpreted the word like there.... and im glad she is rooting for us! i dont remember megan slade at all.... moving on!

hahaha  no worries, my love!  Oh, and the reason I asked about your blanket is because in one of your pictures with your Christmas tree, we see into two bedrooms.  One has a blue blanket and the bed is made and things are tidy.  The other has a red blanket on a mattress with no sheets and drawers open and all kinds of shenanigans! hahaha... I was just wondering which one was yours.  :)

hahahaha, the red bed is the junk room. nobody sleeps in there now.

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