Letters from Mom June & July 2015

July 6, 2015

This is my last letter to you in Chile.  This is a momentous moment. Let's just stop and let it sink in for a second.




The time has seemed to both fly past and crawl like worms on a hot day.  How does it do that?!?  But we are very excited to have you home with us before you move on to your next big adventure.  :)  Thank you for your service, dear one. 

OK!  We're keeping it brief, so I'll just get right to it. 

The conference in Boise was very interesting. It was all about a program were going to use to help track progress for students who struggle, the interventions and plans teachers put into place for them, what has worked in the past and what hasn't.  Anyway, it was really great information.  It will be interesting to see what the district chooses to do with it. I spent a lot of time in classes and then I would go to my room and work on stuff or sleep or read, or I would go ride a bike in the fitness center.  I was pretty boring.  I like Chris Fleming, but she can kind of wear a person out, ya know?  So unless she called or texted me, I was happy to stay on my own. I mean, when I went out to get food, I always invited her, but she seemed just as content to do her own thing, too.  So I'm feeling so grown up, going to a professional conference and all, but if I go again next year, I'm hoping to bring Dad and/or the girls. So many people brought their families!  I was lonely for them.  

The day after I got back from Boise, we went camping with Boyd & LeAnn.  It was going to be just the two families, but it turned into a mini reunion and Grandma & Grandpa were there and the whole Hatch clan.  So it was a good time.  We went to Buffalo Campground.  Do you remember the place with the fresh water muscles that we found in the river and then brought home, steamed, and ate.... and didn't like?  Hahahaha  Well, this is the same place, and we found more fresh water muscles!  The girls were so excited to try them - Meg being all chef-like and all - but they really hated them.  It's a good thing we only brought a dozen back from the river!  The water was great, the temperature was perfect, our campground was nice, and we had WAAAAYYY too much food - as always.   When we left on Saturday, we stopped at a bridge in St. Anthony to float that slow river and watch the brave ones jump off the bridge.  Meg and Dad jumped off, but I was not feeling that brave that day.  hahahaha  When we finally got home in time for Meg to shower and go to work, we were all so exhausted!  We didn't even go to the fireworks!  We just lit a few fireworks at home, ordered pizza, and fell asleep through a really goofy movie (Independence Day with Will Smith).  So it was kind of anticlimactic, but still a good day.  

So, I guess I won't talk to you again until I get to do it face-to-face.  And I know you want to keep your computer time brief today, so I'll just give you a bullet list of final notes:
  • Makayla Richardson is engaged
  • Spencer Ririe and Cassidy Wilde are engaged - I'm soooooo happy about that one!
  • Josh Leal comes home this week - we're excited to hear his report on Sunday
  • You're stuck with on-campus housing, my love.  Sorry about that.
  • I am just going to plan everything for your welcome home feast unless you have any special requests - foods you want to eat, people you want to see...  If you don't really care, then I'll forge on.  Speak now, or forever hold your peace. :)
  • Dad and I are planning to pay half of your housing for this first semester, or until you get a job.  Most important to us is full recovery for your knee, so we don't want you to have to worry about finding a job and working the first semester - your job is to get your knee healed!  What you have in savings should easily cover your needs for that first semester at least.

OK! That's all the big news I can think of right now.  Well, there is some pretty big news in the country right now with politics and stuff, but that and the rest will have to wait for 9 days.  Can't wait!

YOU I LOVE!  I thank Heavenly Father every day for his loving care of you over these two years.  I am grateful for the blessings we've received as a result of your service, but especially grateful for the man I've watched you grow to become.  I can't wait to get to know that guy a little better - live and in person.  

Be safe!  Know that you're loved!  Enjoy this last week!  Hug all of the mamitas and people who have fed you and taken care of you and give them a big thanks from me!

Love from Mom

June 28, 2015

Well, my dear one, you were missed at the Gold reunion.  We got awesome bright yellow t-shirts, so we looked like a family of minions... or bananas.  Anyway, it was a nice time.  Brad and Ami are expecting baby number 2, so Ami was pretty nauseous.  I think that news is still on the down low for most everyone, but it won't stay secret for long, I think.  Lynette and Bailey are wondering if they are going to be expecting baby number 3 because Nettie was feeling quite sick, too!  Oh, and Ryan, Leslie's fiance, got in a motorcycle accident a week ago and broke his ankle which will require surgery, I think.  So he will be in a boot for his wedding... and honeymoon.  Oh, yeah, but their honeymoon got canceled because Ryan and Leslie have to pay their own medical bills because Ryan's sister is getting married, so his parents can't help them at all.  Yikes!  So, Ryan was pretty low key - did a lot of sitting and napping in chairs while we played at the lake.  Poor guy.  Ah well!  We still had a nice time.  Everyone is already excited to have you there with us next year!   We had too much food, as always, and stayed up late talking on our first night and half of the Phillips clan got terribly sunburned yesterday, our second day at the lake.  Oh, and Grandma and Grandpa Gold decided to take one of Bailey's wave runners/jet skis out for a ride.  They got maybe 200-300 yards from the shore and the wave runner died, then got flooded.  So they were stranded.  Luckily, Dad and Meg were on the second wave runner and they tried to help them, but eventually they all ended up in the water and were eventually towed back to shore one at a time.  It was pretty funny.  They were good natured about it.  I'll tell you what, ever since Grandma Ann retired, they are waaaaaay more easy going and even want to, like, participate in our lives.... like grandparents, a little bit.  It's awesome and weird, but mostly awesome. 

So, we chose to stay in Bear Lake until the 11am checkout today to spend more time with them, since we see them so rarely, and forgo church.  I surely missed it!  We drove home and then I turned around and left an hour later for Boise for a conference/training for school.  I rode over here, to Boise, with Chris Fleming.  She's a great one.  She drove 10 mph BELOW the speed limit the entire way here.  We were being passed left and right (being the speed demon that I am, you can bet how much fun that was for me), and, being Chris Fleming, she talked for easily 90% of the trip.  It wasn't too awful.  The stuff she talked about was interesting, all 5 hours of it.  hahahaha  I'm glad I was with Chris Fleming, though - my travel buddy was almost John Crawford!  Yikes!  hahaha  I just don't have a lot of respect for him as a teacher, so that would've been tough.  ANYWAY, so we are hear in Boise until Wednesday afternoon.  Truth be told, this kind of weirds me out because this is my FIRST "business trip," meaning this is the first time I am away from home, in a hotel room (I have my own room - yay!), texting the family, instead of Dad being the one who is away.  It's so strange to be going to a work conference, know what I mean?  I'm usually the one who drops Dad off and waits for him to call/text and tell me he's arrived safely and then wait for his next call/text the next day.  So I'm kind of freaking out about this a little bit.  But, Dad gave me a blessing before I left, and I felt very calm and comforted.  All will be well, I think.  

It hasn't been a very Sabbath-y Sunday.  I will be glad to have a regular fast Sunday next week and be there and partake of the Sacrament.  Part of our/my fast next week will be about our house renovation plans.  When we got the final plans, both Dad and I had a bad feeling about the project.  I mean, we absolutely loved the plans, but we did NOT feel good about the price tag.  So, we asked for a scaled down version - just a kitchen and small dining area instead of a huge kitchen AND dining area AND living room AND bathroom AND garage.  Our contractor hasn't replied since he said he'd work to scale his plans back.  That was three weeks ago, and no word.  We've emailed and texted... nothing.  So, we sent one last email yesterday telling him that we were done, that we could see our little project was not a priority, and to ask him what we owed him in time spent on drawings.  It wasn't mean, but clear and firm because we hope that the fact that we're cutting ties with him will illicit some kind of a response from him!  What we don't know is whether to seek out a new contractor or to just be done with the project altogether, to just set it aside for a time.  So that will be the focus of our/my fast this coming week.  The reason I'm telling you this is to assure you that there will NOT be a giant hole in our backyard when you come home, as we had previously thought. hahaha
My dearest one, it has been a long day of travel, so I have to go to bed.  I would love to go back and read your last letter and ask specific questions about the people you're working with, the travel you've done, etc.  But the fact is, I'm falling asleep as I sit here, so I'd better hit the hay.  I will say these few things:
  • Your story about the bus breaking down was crazy!  And the photos were awesome.  Thanks for that!
  • I haven't talked to BYU yet about changing your housing, but if I remember correctly, it doesn't look to promising that you'll be able to get out of it.  I believe the only way to cancel your contract is to move in with your parents and continue to attend BYU, to get married, or to leave BYU altogether.  BUT, I will call them tomorrow during our lunch break (hopefully) because there may be a chance where the semester hasn't started yet.  I will look into it, but don't get your hopes up.  Sorry about that. 
  • Grandpa Gold is all geared up to pay the second half of your tuition.  That is a great blessing, I think. 
  • We all love you like crazy.

OK!  That's it.  I have to sleep now.  I love you, mi hijo! Can't wait to hear about your adventures!

Love from Mom

June 22, 2015

Hey, Darling!  Thanks so much for responding so well to my crazy letter.  You're great.  And it will just be the six of us and maybe grandparents at the airport when you get home - no one was offended at all!  You will be released at 7:40 that evening, and then you will report to the high council on Sunday, the 19th at 7am sharp. Dad and I will join you for both of those events.  We'll offer ice cream sandwiches or banana splits or something to anyone who wants to come over around 8:00 that night to say hello, after you've been all released and stuff... or earlier if that suits you better, so that you can go to sleep after you're released.  Either way, after 8 you're fair game.  hahahaha  I think that will be nice, but I don't know how "calm" it will be.  Janie could hardly stop talking about it all weekend long - she is going to hold you to your promise of spending a day with her.  hahaha Her current plan is to just talk and color.... for the whole day.  I encouraged her to wait to hold you to the promise until you're laid up in bed post surgery (by the way, we have an appointment with the doctor already scheduled, so we're good to move forward there).  And don't worry too much about the coloring.  I realize it sounds juvenile, but coloring for Janie is just doing beautiful art.  And you probably won't even have to talk much at all!  Just listen and love her.  hahahaha   And it probably won't last the whole day.  I'm trying to keep her grounded and realistic about these things.  But this serves as a little warning, that I'm not sure how "calm" the whole return thing will be.  She has said she just wants to stare at you.  hahahaha  I'm not putting her in a very good light, I think.  Anyway, we're all excited.  And seeing all these other missionaries come home just exacerbates that!  Braxton Ball came home this week (Ashely Tueller is already connected at the hip) and Will Huntsman came home.  He looks good.  We also saw McKay Cannon down at Weber State.  It was fun to talk to him for a minute.  Did you know that the Dad of that kid that you helped to baptize was also baptized?  Such a cool story. 

So Meg and Janie and I went to Utah, to Weber State for a basketball tournament (not sure if I already told you this), and decided to turn it into a girl party.  Sadly the basketball portion of the weekend was stinky.  Shelley got their butts kicked in each of the 5 games they played.  It was not pretty.  We had a mish-mash team: sophmores to seniors who had not really ever played together before, so there was NO synergy, poor communication, and their coach (Trevor Elordi, this is his second season) told them that he's "done being a nice guy" and has started yelling and even swearing at them.  He is also going through a divorce right now, so things are pretty rocky.  Meg left with a bad taste in her mouth.  We'll see what happens there, if she decides to play or not, but we did have a fun time together in spite of the bitterness of the losses and in spite of our weird hotel accomodations.  I had reserved a room for us, two queen beds, but when we got there they told us they had overbooked the hotel and invited us to go to another hotel free of charge, meaning they would cover the costs so it basically be a free hotel stay for us.  Making a long story short, we went to the other hotel to stay in the reserved king bed and sofa bed room, but surprise it was just a king bed, and it was the last room the new hotel had - something big was going on in Ogden that weekend... there were football players everywhere!  So we ended up all snuggling together in the king bed.  hahahaha  It made for a fun adventure.  The new hotel didn't serve breakfast, but the old hotel invited us to come and eat breakfast there, so we did.  And that was weird.  We walked in, ate free breakfast, and left. We felt like gate crashers or something!  After the tournament, we went to a Farmers Market in Salt Lake City, which was amazing, and then went to the mall to shop a little bit.  We ended up going to only one store and then we were all tired, so we just drove home.  It was a nice time.  

Dad spent part of his week at high adventure.  They went to Big Elk Creek Wednesday night.  Thursday was lake day, and Dad was super sore!  I sent a picture that might explain why!  Then Friday was hike day - 12 miles.  When he got home on Saturday, he was pretty wiped out, sooooo stiff and sore! hahahaha   But I think he had a good time.  Sam stayed home alone, and seemed to do just fine.  He didn't say much anyway.  So yesterday we all just stayed home together.   We didn't go visit our dads for  Father's Day, we just stayed home and let our own Dad recuperate a little!  hahaha  But we'll go see Grandpa Price and Grandpa Dixon tonight.  Grandpa Dixon had surgery on his shoulder last week AND the Nicholas family will be here tonight for their annual trip to Idaho, so it will be a triple  good reason to go out there this evening.  

In other news, Tayler Hawkes is engaged to Caden Neureburg!  He popped the question while they were at a Chukars game last week.  It was actually a fund raiser and the Chukars were playing Kyle's team.  Tayler was called up to do the mascot race and was running around the bases with the mascot when Caden walked out and met her at home plat with roses and a ring!  It was on TV as part of the sports highlights!  hahaha  I haven't heard when they're getting married, but married they will get.  Also, a couple of days later, Jake Hawkes broke his arm in two places during a baseball game, so their family is having quite the adventure getting Kyle ready for his mission, getting Tayler ready to get married, and medical bills for Jake.  hahaha  Comedy comes in threes!

This week we head down to Bear Lake for the Gold reunion.  It will be fun to see everyone.  We're excited to play some Kuub (a game you will most definitely be introduced to) and play in the lake and play with the babies and all good things.  The day we get back, I'm heading to Boise for training for school - training that I will then use to train the other teachers at school.  I am going to feel like such a grown up.  hahaha  So I will get to ride to Boise and back and stay in a hotel room for three days with Chris Fleming.  It should be OK.  I won't have to talk much, I think. hahaha  The day after I get back from training we are going to go camping with the Prices up in Island Park for a day or two - that will be over the fourth of July.  And then two days later, the girls head off to girls camp!  So many things going on!  It's like non stop for the next two weeks, so anything that we want to do around the house better get done by Thursday or it won't be done for a while.  hahaha  

Well, I'm going to let you go for the week, my dearest one.  I hope things continue to progress with some of the investigators you're working with.  Tate Albright spoke in our ward with the high councilman yesterday, and he told a moving story about a man who was a Satanist who was referred by a friend who was fellowshipping him.  Tate and his companion visited with this man and his girl friend, who was a devil worshipper, and this guy felt the spirit.  He liked it, he wanted it in his life, but his lifestyle was faaaaaaarrrr from being able to have that spirit with him always.  But this man continued in patience, continued to work to overcome alcohol and drug addictions, immorality, not to mention his worship of Lucifer, and was eventually baptized.  He just received the Melchizedek Priesthood and is going through the temple this week.  Isn't that just amazing?  I've been reading about the Anti-Nephi-Lehis in my personal study this week and the incredible transformation that occurred as a result of their feeling the Holy Ghost.  This man's story could fit perfectly with theirs, or with the Sons of Mosiah.  They were the blackest of sinners, but were made clean and new in Christ - through His grace, they were made new creatures.  And we can all have that, all of us have the opportunity.  No one is exempt from that.  Isn't that incredible?  All we have to do is make choices in our lives that will allow us to feel the Spirit and, once baptized, continue to have that influence in our lives.  God is truly the most loving, most merciful, most patient and long suffering, and most faithful being ever!  He sees potential in all of us when we see none in ourselves, when we are in the midst of despair and sin, He still sees who we truly are and what we truly can become.  I'm so grateful for Him, and for His continued faith in me when I fail to have faith in myself.  As you say, God is great.

You I love.


June 14, 2015

It's here!  Time to talk and think about home and school and stuff... just for a minute.  Then, we'll be able to focus on the last four weeks of mission.  Only 29 days, my friend!  So let's get to it!

FIRST:  I got you all registered.  You currently have 15 credits, so you're good to go with your scholarship.  Being the low man on the proverbial totem pole, almost all of the classes were filled, so I have you on several waiting lists.  But, I didn't want to just risk it, ya know, so I registered you for enough classes to have enough credits to satisfy your scholarship, but it may not be a very fun schedule.  In short, you're currently registred for Geography and World Affairs (fulfills Core req.), General College Chemistry and Science of Biology (both of which fulfill Core requirements AND are recommended for MCAT, if you're still planning on pursuing a medical career), New Testament - Acts of the Apostles through Revelations of John, Introduction to Sociology (fulfills Core req. and actually looks pretty fascinating because it's about social interactions and processes and how they affect the world), and Preview of Medicine, which is strongly recommended for MCAT.  If possible, we'll trade Geography for Third Year Spanish (waiting list) so you can test out, something you have to do pretty soon after returning from your mission, and you can choose whether you want to try for Writing & Rhetoric (waiting list) or stick with Sociology.  I used the Rate My Professor website to find the best possible professors who still had room in their classes and/or low enough numbers in their waiting lists that it wasn't completely unrealistic to think you could get into their classes.    Is there anything you see in this schedule that you really, really have a bad feeling about, that you want me to change asap?   AND because I'm a person who wants/needs fun in my life or I will wilt like a flower in the hot sun, are you interested in taking a "fun class?"  Scuba diving? Swimming? Weight training?  I'm trying to think of what you could possibly do with a knee that is recovering from surgery...  And maybe you're good with the schedule you have and you don't need any"entertainment" classes to revitalize you, like I do.  That is part of my nature, having fun, but not everyone functions that way, so it's all good.   Just lemme know!  Anyway, this is what your school schedule looks like on a day to day basis:

9:00-9:50  Geog 120: Geography and World Affairs  HOPEFULLY changing (you're on a waiting list) to Span 321: 3rd Year Spanish Reading, Grammar, & Culture, which is the class you need to be taking when you "test out" of Spanish

12:00-12:50  Chem 105: General College Chemistry

1:00-1:50  PD Bio 120: Science of Biology (this class is in a building next door to Chem 105, so the 10 minute gap shouldn't be too awful)

On a waiting list for Wrtg 150: Writing and Rhetoric from 8:00 - 9:15am 
10:00-10:50  Rel A 212:  The New Testament
12:05- 1:20   Soc 111:  Introduction to Sociology
3:00-3:50   Chem 105 LAB possibly changing to 1:00-1:50  IF you get into Wrtg 150 and choose to drop Soc 111
6:00-6:50pm  StDev 272: Preview of Medicine (one night per week)

9-9:50  Geog 120 OR Span 321
12:00-12:50  Chem 105
1:00-1:50  PD Bio 120

Possibly  8:00 - 9:15am   Wrtg 150
10:00-10:50  Rel A 212
12:05- 1:20   Soc 111
3:00-3:50   Chem 105 LAB possibly changing to 1:00-1:50  IF you get into Wrtg 150 and choose to drop Soc 111
Possibly 6:00-10:00pm  STAC 175: Beginning Scuba Diving  (one night per week - you're on a waiting list)

9-9:50  Geog 120 OR Span 321
12:00-12:50  Chem 105
1:00-1:50  PD Bio 120

SECOND: Transportation.  Have you had any more thoughts about transportation at BYU?  You said once before that you weren't sure if you wanted the "temptation" of a car down in Provo.  If that is still the case, we could invest in a nice bike which could help you get around campus and be pretty good exercise for your knee, too.  They also have a pretty good bus system in Provo.   I know that Garrett Nelson will be down there and I'm pretty sure he is going to have a car, so maybe you can help pay for gas and ride home with Garrett when he comes home for weekends/holidays.  I dunno.  Or there is the Salt Lake Express, which is a pretty cheap deal.  Still, if you'd like to get a car, I'm sure we can figure something out, my love.  What are your thoughts?  Or would you rather just wait and see when you get here?

THIRD:  Homecoming Day.  I'm not talking about the day that you speak in church, but the actual day that you arrive home from the airport.  You will have had a loooooong day of travel, but will also have a pretty good adrenaline rush from stepping off the plane.  So, my question is, is there any food that you've really missed or that just sounds awesome to eat when you get home?  You'll be flying in (hoping for no delays) around lunchtime, and being Mormons we MUST eat to celebrate, right? hahaha   When Jared Gibson came home, he stopped at the Pizza Hut in Shelley on his way home from the airport!   So, do you have any thoughts about food you'd like to eat for lunch that day?  a Big Bacon Classic at Wendys?  Pizza Hut?  a Subway sandwich?  Olive Garden?  Chilis?  hamburgers/hot dogs on the grill at home?  peanut butter and jelly or tuna fish sandwiches?  Fried chicken in the park?  The current plan is that anyone who can be there will be there at the airport: aunts, uncles, cousins, grandparents, friends, and then invite them to join us for lunch (which is why I am asking what you want, so I can let people know, but maybe you want to decide on Monday the 13th in your last letter home).  Also, it's not too late if you'd rather just have a smaller group to meet you at the airport.  After all of the hugs and balloons and posters and stuff, and after we gather your bags, then we can go get some food after the airport - I'm thinking you'll be pretty hungry by then.  After food we can come home,  just the six of us, to get you unpacked and let you rest after a really long trip.  None of us knows if you're going to be ready to fall dead asleep or be buzzed and want to sit around and chat or be buzzed but weirded out and unsure of what to do with yourself.  hahaha   We'll be flexible for that part, but as far as lunch after the airport, you have to make a choice.  What/where do you want to eat?  Oh, and I think you'll be able to report to the High Council that night, Wednesday the 15th, and be officially released.   

FOURTH: Temples and Trips.  We are planning a temple trip.  Leslie gets married on the 17th, Friday, in Logan.  We will leave at the crack of dawn on Friday to drive down to the temple - we need to be there by 9:30am - for the wedding and then will go and do whatever we're supposed to go and do after that for the luncheon and reception.  That night, we're planning to stay the night in Logan so we can go to the temple Saturday morning.  We're thinking maybe the three of us can go early and do an endowment session and then have Meg and Janie meet us up there a little later and then do baptisms.  Do you have a temple bag with temple robes, or just the white clothing for baptisms?  How are they holding up?  Will you need some new temple clothes?  I just want to make sure you have what you need for our temple trip and then for any other temple trips you plan to take in the future.  Having the Idaho Falls Temple closed for another year (or more) causes us to get creative in when/where we go to the temple!  We're already planning a trip to the temple in Provo or maybe Mt. Timpanogous when we take you down to school in August.  By the way, you can move in to your apartment anytime after 10am on Wednesday, August 26th.  Perhaps we'll see how the knee is doing and make the decision for that specific date later on.  The following weekend, July 23-25) is the Dixon reunion somewhere near Twin Falls  - it's the extended family Dixon reunion, Keiola, the last one, so we are compelled to go.  It will probably be a fun time, yeah?  Then your welcome home and then the Price reunion and... yeah. Surgery. This is going to be weird even though we've talked about this before, but know that, as far as we're concerned, you are welcome to invite Lexa to any and all of our outings, trips, and reunions, and/or to just come over and hang out whenever.  And, on the flip side, if you find you're still trying to adjust and get your "regular Joe" feet under you after you take off your "Elder Joe" shoes, don't feel compelled to invite her either if it's just... weird.   We talked to Seth Cannon today because McKay's been home for about 3 1/2 weeks, spent 12 days at home, and then has been down at Weber State.  Anyway, the transition is an adjustment.  It's real.  So, do whatever feels right to you with regard to how much time you spend together with Lexa.  We aren't going to freak out if she's there every day and we're not going to freak out if she isn't.  I just want you to be assured of that.  We are great one way or the other, so do what feels right to you both... just keep us in the loop.  :)  I guess this has been on my mind since our date this week.  Dad and I had dinner at Red Robin and watched the Women's World Cup game, USA v. Sweden (it was a tie, by the way).  While we were there, Tayler Hawkes and Caden Neuerburg came in, on a date themselves.  He's been home for, like, a month, and they are pretty tight!  I think it's only a matter of time for those two. 

FIFTH (and last): Getting back into the swing of things.  So, I've been washing all of your clothes so they smell fresh and clean instead of like they've been sitting there for two years, which they have.  It will be interesting to see what still fits and what doesn't! hahaha  I've taken the liberty of donating all of your old (and still useable) underwear to Sam, and I'm planning to turn all of the white undershirts without sleeves into cleaning rags unless I hear differently from you.  There are still 5-6 white tees with sleeves in your drawer.  We will need to do a little shopping.  It will be good to get you some new garments, maybe some new white shirts, shoes, socks, clothes for school....  We don't have to do that all in one day, but it will be good to make sure you're set for the temple on Saturday the 18th.  Part of the blessing of teaching summer school was to be able to have some extra money set aside to get you the clothes and things you need to get you back into the swing of things.  So know that this is going to happen - I am going to buy you stuff.  OK?  All too soon, you'll be scrambling to be buying everything for yourself, so just enjoy this a little if you can.  hahaha  As far as returning to the swing of home and family... I know that you are going to love us as we are and just be happy to be home with us, but know that we are not very good.  I mean, we do well with family prayers, but our family scripture study has been, well, deplorable for a long time.  We're still making efforts, but those efforts haven't been very dedicated lately.  We're hoping to do better, but we fail far more often than we succeed.  Hopefully you can help give us a shot in the arm and help to rededicate our efforts, but know that we are faaaaarrrr from perfect.  You could be easily annoyed at how much time Sam spends on the computer and the girls spend on their devices.  You may be frustrated to find that I am still too much of a push over and lax with regard to chores and duties.  You may find yourself confused that we can be content to just sit and read a book or watch a movie when there is work to be done.  Prepare yourself for these very real possibilities.  Know that you can come talk to us about your frustrations using those excellent communication skills that you've honed down there in Chile.  Also, be prayerful that your heart can be filled with a spirit of understanding and patience with us, and we will do the same.  We are all of us different people than we were two years ago - Meg and Janie are young women florid with adolescent hormones!  You will get to experience your sisters' PMS before you go down to school.  It can be somewhat shocking.  Meg just gets really easily offended, and Janie is laughing one minute and crying the next.  So that will be an adventure for you.  Also, Sam is.... well, he may take some getting used to.  He's been great in his illness, truly, but he's pretty mercurial and can be... taxing.  It will be natural for you to think of your siblings as they were when you left, to think of Janie as a 13 year old and Meg as a 14 year old... we are always amazed and surprised to find the people have grown and changed as much as we have!  hahaha  So, be prepared.  That's all.  Just keep that in mind.  It would be better for you to come home with low expectations of your family and then be happily surprised rather than come home with high expectations of us and be frustrated and disappointed.  Ya know what I mean?  We'll try to do the same.  Meg has you on such a high pedastal that I am going to have to remind her that you are still human: you still fart and wake up with bad breath.   hahaha  

OK.  That's it. This is one long letter.  So I will just close with my love for you and share with you something awesome that I learned today in Sacrament Meeting that really strengthened my testimony of the Sabbath Day.  Debbie Searle spoke, and in her talk she told us about Elder Nelson (I'm pretty sure) who found a way to keep the Sabbath Day holy while he was going to medical school and working long hours at the hospital by considering, "What message does this [activity, action] send to the Lord?"  That was really meaningful to me today, and something that I hope to adopt into my Sunday worship.  Today, when I think to do something, I will ask myself, "What message does this send to the Lord?"  That was really beautiful, I thought.  Anyway.  There you go.  God loves us, my dear.  He loves you.  He is mindful of you, and of your efforts down there.  He is aware of you, of your needs, your fears, your hopes, your dreams.  He has a plan for you.  He will direct your life in paths that are uniquely yours.  Regardless of what the future brings, know that God is aware of you and that He loves you.  All things will work together for your good so long as you are making real efforts to follow in His paths, to have Christ-like love for your brothers and sisters, and to return to Him in deed and thought each and every day.  

You I love, mi hijo.

Love from Mom

OK! im going to try to respond to all of this before moving on to my other leter. FIRST! i just want you to know that i am very greatful for all that you have done to help me prepare for this whole big madness of .... well everything that is going to be happning to my life for the next 3 months or so. its been a lot and i could not have ever done it without you. thank you soo much. SECOND: i will have you know that i was laughing/giggling/gaping/freaking out, with a huge mix of emotions of exitement, fear, trunkiness, happiness.... just so verymuch that it feel. there is probably only one thing that coud make this dy trunkier than what tht leter just did hahhha- it was impressive. sorry about speling im on the crap keyboard again and it is just too ridiculous to try and fix all the mistakes. 

FIRST: AWSOME! my schedule looks great! that scuba diving thing looks sweet i i could actually get in, if not, maybe there is some class similar that could be like small engine repair, or the electrical systems in consruction thing? i just wanna be cool like dad whenim all growd up and be able to do everything :) if not, something related to singing? voice lesson stuff? guitar?? acting? probaby not weight or dance for now because of the knee... just options. but it looks great, tuesday should be a fun day haha :) im glad  can test out of spanish. also.. with tht writing clas....... blegh. if its a core req. ok, if that is an option... just th name hurtmy soul, however, if you feel that it is important to have a writng class so that i an get bac into the groove wth that then i will just roll with it. i know it would probby be good for me and im notgonna do  bad job just because i don like it.

Seond: yes... i hav thought more about maybe geting some cheap older car tha tis made to get good gas mileage. like the honda... maybe anoher volkswagen cabriolet like we had haha. or something siilar, just a cheap one. but i also know that it will be a temptation, so i have been thinking bout taking the train from provo to SLC and Sat lake express home when i can, also the go with garrett idea works. i think the BEST decision is no car for now, though i do want one. a bike cold be cool but i wouldnt want a new one, just a decent bike, no spen that much money on it. garage sale or something. bikes dont have to be pretty or anything to getyou from point A to point B.

Third: im prety sure before i left we saw something in the pamphlet they sent that said only immediate family members should go to the airport... cant remember but that has been my plan. maybe granparents would be ok, but i would prefer to just keep that moment calm, have some light food maybe hav chiken alfredo at home waiting. go home with just the family and start thtat whole process. i dont know what time the release would be but maybe we could invit peope over for dinner instead of lunch? give me at least  few hours haha, then if they want to see me still as amissionary they can come over before we go to get released, but have just a few hours at home before i get people bombed. :) don know how that sounds to everyone, sounds likei will probably be the party pooper there. option number 2 is that they can be there in the airpoort if there is no rule agaist it but i still just want to go home nd eat with you guys. not everyone, im following in your footsteps and explaining it AGAIN, but if they wat to come over after 4, im cool butgive me from like 1 to 4 jst us 6. if it can be so. im flexible with everything if there are grander forces in play, like upst reltives.

Fourth: i have a temple Bag :) with shoes, socks, tie, shirt, and pants. bu tthats al. no packet so i will need that. but i think that all, the rest off my stuff is good. i havent used it that much. all that souns good. im least exited for the keiola Dixon reunion bt hopefull i can convince Lexa to go with us. depending on what happens when i get home and everything, but as far as i can see into the uture i wil be trying to spend lots of time with her. and chances are she migh start trying to tel me to just go spend time with the fam, but we will see how that goes. as of my intentions, she will be becoming officially part of the family within a year. soooo theres that ha :) we will see what she thinks

Fifth: hahaha :) i will just let it happen and do my best not to freak out. im till bad at that even here in the mish haha. btw, how much money do i actually have?

:) know that i am also faaaarrrrrr from perfect, im sure im not as awesome as you guys imagine me as, but im going to do my best, i feel like im pretty good at not being issapointed by my high expectaitons of people. but i wil keep it in mind. i cant say its ok because we should always do family scripture study, but hopefully i can help you. im willing to get everyone up early for it, or make sure it happens at night. whoever is home. i wont chew you out but i wil try and help with the things i can see as less than perfect, but in a nice way, and i hope you will do the same for me! help me to know wha im doing.

also, wanted to ask Sam for a favor knowing that he loves information,if h wanted to be my techno guru. im going to want to get home and get a phone pretty quick, but i dont know WHICH! and there are zillions. sooo if he wanted to look into that for me i would love it. iv heard nexus phones are good... anyways. that

OK! i think i haveresponed to all of that, if there is anything i issed or any follow up dont woryabout it. God has blessed me ot be able to put it behind me after Pday so we can tal about it here and i will push it out after.  we onlyhave 3 mondays aftr this that i will wright. i wont b writing on the 13th, so mylast day will be... the 6th. FYI afterthat we will just see eachher in IF.

Thank you muchly! love you bunches

the rest in my other lettr, ELder Gold

June 8, 2015

Yay!  Five more days and my summer break officially begins!  Five more days trying to keep these students' heads above water in his CRASH COURSE called summer school English.... keeping their heads above water and their grades above a 70%!  They were all doing pretty well, focused, attentive for the first half of the session, but they seem to have gotten bored and/or fallen into old habits and many of them are starting to slip  down to a dangerous path.  I've warned one kid repeatedly, encouraged/required him to stay after... but he won't stay and he hasn't changed his approach, which is to just hurry and get the work finished thereby missing essential elements and getting a low score.  He has until the end of today to get his grade above a 70% or I have to kick him out, which we discussed in a private meeting last week, and which would really stink because we only have 5 days left!  Gah! I hate this part of the deal.  But I can understand the pain - it's pretty intense.  Two hours of grammar, an hour of writing (they're writing a short research paper), and an hour of literature.  It's a face paced schedule, but most of them are rising to the challenge and doing good work. I started with 14 students, had to drop one of them last week, and I may need to drop another today.  I'm hoping for a baker's dozen,but I'll be happy with a clean dozen who pass by the end of the week.  :)

But, enough bout that.  On a happier note, Dad and I had a great time on our trip to Twin Falls. We went to the temple Friday night.  The temple in Twin Falls is truly one of the little, little temples - so tiny! BUT it was beautiful and so wonderful to be there.  It's magnificent that they have one to serve the people in that area.  It was just wonderful to be there... so powerful and so beautiful, it just makes you weep!  The next day, Saturday, we rented some mountain bikes -spur of the moment - and went on a bike ride along the canyon.  I don't know if you remember Twin Falls much, but it has that huge, deep canyon as you come into the city.  It's really beautiful.  We got to watch several base jumpers take their little parachutes and jump off the bridge into the canyon, then fold up their chutes and do it again!  Nuts!  All in all, we had a really lovely time in Twin Falls.  Our check out time was 11am, and there just happened to be a Sacrament Meeting that started at 11am right next to the temple, which was only about 5 minutes from our hotel, and we just happened to have our Sunday clothes with us from our temple trip.  So that was a great ending to a wonderful weekend together.  A really fun time. And it was great to feel confident that the others were home and we didn't have to worry that they were going to kill each other or anything.  It was and is a great blessing to have the assurance that they/you guys will care for each other.  

So, that's all, really.  Nothing new, nothing major.  We're in the process of finding out whether or not the loan for our house project will go through.  At this point, it is entirely in the Lord's hands.  If it is right for us to do this build, then it will come together.  We felt like it was the right time to start the project (again) and we got farther than we have in a decade - we found a bank that would fund it and a contractor who made beautiful plans for us - so we've felt doors open and the way being cleared and paths directed, but we don't know the end.  So, we'll be grateful for what we have.  If it is right, we'll go forward with faith and build our kitchen and garage and enjoy the additional space for family and friends.  If it is not right, we'll go forward with faith and do something else! hahahaha  Anyway, there you go.  That's the latest and greatest.  Uncle Boyd is up and moving like a champ from his knee surgery.  He said last night that it is amazing to be able to walk without pain.  hahaha  OH!  Der!  Josh is moving to Indiana for the summer to sell security systems with his cousin Andrew.  He leaves the day after tomorrow!  It kind of all just happened.  Last week he was talking to his cousin at his graduation party who was telling him about his summer job out in Indianapolis, he invited Josh to go with him, so Josh got hired, quit his job at Jiffy Lube, and is packing his bags.  He leaves Wednesday for the summer, but might stay out there if he likes it.  It should be intersting - door to door sales - but hopefully he'll do well and be happy out there.  Heidi is finishing up her mission papers - she has only interviews left - and is a dating machine up at BYU-Idaho.  Katie an Jake are contemplating a move to Arizona to work with Jake's brother and sister-in-law.  That would be crazy!  Nate and Cindy are doing a three week trial move to Henderson, NV, which is outside Las Vegas, to see if that could be a fit for their family.  And Zach and Carrie are going to have their 5 adopted kids sealed to them in July (did I already tell you that?).  Bleu Hawkley is being deployed to Afghanistan for a year starting in August. Trina is still dating Thomas, the black guy from the Dominican Republic with two daughters, so that's a good sign, Sean and Tammy's baby is also due in August.  So many fun things... except for Bleu going out on deployment... that isn't fun.  

And I think THAT is about it.  We love you like crazy and honor your dedication to serving faithfully to the last minute.  On that note, I should warn you that next week I am going to drop little bombs... grenades... trunkiness grenades.   I need to ask you some questions and give you some updates that are all focused and centered around your coming home.  It's nothing major and nothing bad, just stuff/information/questions I've been... accumulating so I don't add to the temptation to think too much about home, ya know?  But the time has come.  So, gird your loins for next week and prepare to think about stuff and answer some questions  that will force you to think about life post mission.  I don't want you to worry or think about it until then, but I'm just giving you fair warning that I'm sending a couple of trunkiness grenades your way, and don't feel worried - just updates about school and reunions and other little things that I have to ask/tell you about.  Like I said, I've just been accumulating them and waiting for an appropriate time rather than blabbering on about them each week and adding to rising levels of trunkiness.  Does that make sense?  hahaha  This paragraph is quite redundant.  Sometimes I think that if I explain things just ONE MORE TIME it will finally make sense.  hahahaha  I'll let it go.  

YOUR TURN!  We're super excited to hear from you and to hear of your adventures this week.   Any word about the progress of the people you found last week?  The ones that the hermanas were going to teach?  And how was your leadership council meeting in Antofagasta?   You are quite the traveler, my friend!  hahahaha  But I'm proud of the diligence, the honesty, and the integrity that you've put into your efforts.  You will be blessed.... are being blessed for your faithful service.  God is great!

Love, love, love you!


June 1, 2015

Poof!  Zip!  Whiz!  Shoom!  THAT is how these last few weeks have felt!  Flying by!  It's already June.  How did THAT happen?  hahaha  All the same, we're a week into summer break (except for Dad, of course), and while we've all loved the break from the day to day doldrums of school, it's still been a bit of an adjustment.  Janie is feeling the 15 year old angst of "nothing to do."  Remember those days?  Too young to get a job, but too old to entertain yourself with jumping on the trampoline, playing in the ditch, or swinging on the rope swing for hours on end.  She is approaching the marker that we require of the girls to be able to get their driver's license - 6 of 8 value projects done for their Personal Progress award - but she is a bit of a feet dragger partly because she's kind of terrified of driving.  hahahaha  She and Sam are so similar in that way!  Sam was content to NOT drive for a long, long time because he was afraid of the power and potential damage he could inflict driving a massive vehicle.  Janie feels, largely, the same.  Now, you and Meg, on the other hand, you both RUSHED to the opportunity to be able to drive, to have that freedom and mobility!  hahahaha  It's so funny.  Anyway, Janie is feeling that 15 year old angst.  I have jobs that she can do to earn money, but she is caught between that motivation to have money to go and do and the actual work involved in earning it.  Ah, me.  Luckily, there is just an amount of work she gets to do for free, right?  Anyway, summer is always an adjustment.  

Meg has been pretty darn busy this past week, since school got out.  She's working at Pizza Hut, but not really getting as many hours as she'd like, so she's frustrated with that.  Her manager tends to favor boys, it appears, so... that's weird.  Meg whose been working there for three weeks will work 2 hour shifts 3-4 times a week, but a brand new hire - a boy - gets 4-5 hour shifts 3-4 times a week doing the exact same job as Meg, and he is still in training, so she's frustrated and might look elsewhere if they don't start giving her more hours. In addition to school, she had basketball camp last week and then has been to a couple of basketball tournaments.  So she's a busy one.  She has also taken it upon herself to do lawn care for us in exchange for a data plan on her phone.  We're down with that.  So she mows the lawns and waters them... which hasn't happened too much lately because it's been raining nearly every day!  That Meg is a mover and a shaker.  I'm proud of her, though.  She wrote down on her application at Pizza Hut that she would't work Sundays.  They scheduled her for a Sunday anyway, and she let them know that she didn't work Sundays and found someone who would switch with her.  She didn't come ask us for advice, "What should I do?"  There was no question and no other option.  That was awesome to see.  It will be important for her to find a man (in the far future) who is not afraid to let her fly, who is not intimidated by her strength, but who will be an equal partner in making things happen.  

Speaking of men, Sam is doing well.  He finished his final ECT treatment on Friday of last week.  There isn't a day and night type difference, but we do see some improvements.  He doesn't stay up all night anymore, which is great.  He is a little more aware of his physical appearance... a little. Did I tell you that he voluntarily and out of the blue cleaned his room last week?  Just up and cleaned it, like a deep clean, like throwing away junk from years and years ago.  Out of the blue!  So, we see some little things, little realizations, little epiphanies.  Some of those realizations and epiphanies are hard, though.  He is realizing that he is going to have to deal with this mental illness for his whole life - it's not going to be whisked away by some miracle drug.  He is going to have to learn to live with the effects and negotiate around those.  That is a difficult thing for him to wrap his heard around sometimes, sometimes he gets really blue thinking about that and sinks down into a depression.   He also feels lonely, that lack of companionship.  He has said several times over the past few weeks how he wants a relationship with someone like what Dad and I have together, but then he realizes how hard that might be because to meet people and develop a relationship requires time and putting yourself out there where people will be... but he struggles to be around people.  His paranoia sometimes really gets the better of him.  Last week, he and Janie came to the school to clean up the theater a bit, so Janie could earn some extra cash to buy a book and have a party with her friends.  It was the last day that teachers were required to be there, so it was Tuesday.  After less than an hour, Sam had to go home because he could hear all of the doors opening and closing in the halls and hear all of the people moving around, and he couldn't "keep track" of them all.   When he is with any sizeable group of people, he feels like they are tracking him, taking note of what he says or does at all times, so he overacts so that "they" see and hear what he wants them to see and hear, which makes him a little bit obnoxious, a little bit loud, a little bit taxing to talk to...  He is aware of it, but can't negotiate how to do things any differently.  So he struggles to be in groups.  He's gone to a couple of Young Single Adult activities, but they haven't been a huge success at this point.  So, we see some progress, but it is slow.... like glacial slow.  :)

Dad is doing well in his work - as always.  He met with his boss about a month ago, and is at the top of the list for a promotion this year.  We don't really know what that means, truth be told, but he is long past deserving some recognition and advancement for all the work that he has done and continues to do.  He is awesome, as you well know.  He has a busy summer ahead.  Next week, he goes to High Adventure.   Wait.  No.  That's the week after next.  Anyway, he's got a lot going on with camps for scouts and for girls  as well as the day in day out stuff, but he is a great one.  I admire him so much for what a steady, dependable, righteous man he is.  We celebrate 22 years of wedded bliss this week.... best 22 years of my life.  

For me?  Summer school is going... pretty well.  The first two days were an adjustment, truly.  The students were trying to get to know me and my expectations, and I was trying to get to know them and their abilities.  We had to have several "Come to Zion" discussions, and I had to remind them that they were here by privilege, not right, and they needed to do better than what they were doing in regular school or they would be dropped - kicked out.  I almost had to kick out two students last week, but I was able to talk to them and they've made some improvements.  It's been interesting, but by Friday it was clear that we were beginning to understand each other - they were understanding my expectations and schedule, and I am understanding how they operate as well.  Two more weeks, only 8-noon, and then we're done.  It's gonna fly by, but I'm super grateful for the opportunity - grateful to be refreshed in my English teaching skills, grateful for the extra cash, grateful for the short time commitment.  Its good!  And I'm feeling much better.  Antibiotics are gifts from God.  On Monday, I was was soooooooo sick, like could hardly breathe, taking an inhaler every two hours.  My sinus infection sunk into my chest and turned into bronchitis!  So I spent most of the week coughing like a woman who'd smoked two packs a day for 50 years, but I'm doing much better now, and am soooooo very grateful for that!

So there you go.  There is us for the week.  Now, a couple of questions/comments for you.  I saw the picture of Elder Larsen from the zone/district picture you sent and YES, I can see a resemblance between him and Michael!  hahaha  Also, how is your personal training going?  Still sore as can be?  On that note, you appear to look largely the same in your pictures - no major weight gain or loss, yes?  Personally, I don't care, but someone was asking.... Bailey Pulsipher, maybe?  Wondering if you'd gained weight?  hahahaha  McKay Cannon got home and reported his mission last week.  I haven't seen him, and I think he's already gone to Weber State to play basketball, but his return marks the opening of the flood gates.  Will Huntsman comes home next week, exactly a month before you do... So many comings and goings!  Kyle Hawkes got his mission call to the Dominican Republic.  He leaves in August.  Tayler Hawkes' "friend" Caden got home two weeks ago, about the same time McKay came home.  No word on how their relationship is developing.  Heidi Hatch is finishing/submitting her mission papers this week or next.  She's hoping to leave in August/September to serve a mission, too.  Zack Leal leaves a month after Josh gets home...  It's remarkable, really, this wave of missionary work.  It's fantastic!  So exciting!  We live in a remarkable time in the history of the earth, I think.  

Well, alrighty.  Time to let you go for now.  We're excited to hear a little about how things are going for you.  Transfers are this week, yes?  So you'll be busy riding on buses and getting things arranged.  It's a great thing to be busy, to be occupied, especially in a work so noble and great.  I'm proud of you for how you've spent your time down there, my dearest one.  Truly proud.  



Personal training... is fine. im just a little bit sore every day but not terribly. im doing pretty decent on my exercise, the other day we were doing exerciss and Elder LArsen commented and said that i had a little more than six weeks to get into shape, an i told him that i had been doing exercise for two years, not for six weeks. this has been an effort since the beginning! so im not in terrible shape, well... thats a lie because as far as cardio goes im destoyed. so bad, but its hard ot do cardio stuff and not use your legs... so the whole upper body thing im ok with. i have lost a little bit of weight, m like 175 180 now. so its gone down a bit, especially in my legs, but im happier now with my body that i have been for a while. my goal is to come home with a six pck and i can already see it. it just needs more definition and more dieting :) little bit of chubbyness in the doughnut pouch haha. but good.

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