Sunday, January 27, 2008

A new house in the future???

January 27, 2008

Dear Tiana, Don, and Austin,

We had a fantastic surprise early this morning around 1 am. Don called from Iraq and talked to us for awhile. He was in a place where he could use a satellite phone and gave us a call. I’m afraid I was a little groggy and not responsible for any silly thing I might have said, such as “watch out for the rocks on your driveway.” But I was awake enough to get the idea that Don is doing well by dodging the bullets fired his way and he said he has returned fire a few times. He is still patrolling with the Iraqis and filling sandbags and he really likes all his Christmas gifts, including the Bongo Drums and camera. He will be bringing home lots of pictures. He and Tiana have it scheduled perfectly – they will be here in April, just in time for Tiana’s homecoming talk. Don would like us all to pray for his friend Lewis whose wife is having some problems with the baby. She is due in a few weeks and they have pulled Lewis out of the field so he can help his wife. Don asked us to include her in our prayers.

I had a business trip to Utah this week and it was so much fun. Bryce let me beat him in most of the racquetball games we played. Marcia let me take the family to dinner one night so she didn’t have to cook. Sam let me read to him, fix him breakfast one morning, play chase, color, play with his train set, watch a movie together, sword fight with cardboard tubes, build towers with Heroscape pieces, and practice his English. And the whole family let me have a nice quiet evening at home alone while they had things to do. The best line of the trip was when Sam wanted to join Bryce and me playing racquetball. He said, “I want to go play with the Dad’s. I’m a big boy and I don’t want to stay here with the girls (pointing to Marcia and the baby).” Even the business aspect of the trip was good.

Mom and I are on a quest to find a new house to move to. We think with prices low it would be a good time to get into something smaller and more updated with built in equity and rent out our current home. I want equity and mom wants a view of the mountains so we spent the afternoon looking around and had some fun. It is a bitter sweet view of our current home. There are some things that are spectacular and other things that are a dog and everything costs money.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Are you speaking English?

I hope this letter finds you happy and healthy. I also hope that you get this letter; it seems that you haven’t received the last two letters sent. Even if you don’t get my letters know that I’m thinking about you and sending my love. Mom has told me that my letters are too long and that no ones reads all the way through so I’m trying to do a condensed version today.

Not much happened this week of note, but some big things are brewing. In March our current Stake Presidency is being released and we will have new leadership. We will miss President Jenkins since he has sent you all on missions and is a good family friend. Ground will be broken for a new chapel in Highlands Ranch by Wild Cat Reserve Parkway and McArthur Ranch. We will probably end up attending meetings there. I was released from the High Priests Group Leadership and have two callings. I’m the missionary rep for the High Priests and the Employment Specialist. I’m looking forward to both callings. I would love to help someone get a job and I love missionary work. It also means I can attend the missionary meetings with mom.

Speaking of missionary work we had the nurses over for dinner plus a new nurse from Ethiopia. He is a Sunni Muslin and very well spoken. We gave Wasana (a Thai nurse) one of our old beds since she has her own apartment. Dinner was interesting as the nurse pitched in and we all together made some killer Shrimp Fried Rice and incredible Cashew Chicken. All these fun accents of English and skin tones crammed into our kitchen comparing cultures and experiences. We all came together for the dessert. Mom and I had worked ever so hard on a chocolate special that ended up looking like a large cow poop and dry as Melba Toast. Thanks goodness we’re not known for our dessert preparation.

One of the Thai nurses, Mem, is going to start taking the lessons. She doesn’t understand very much of church service but she says it always makes her feel good to sing the hymns and say the prayers. It reminds me of a 10 years old boy we taught on my mission. He was a deaf/mute and suddenly started coming to church. Through a friend he told us that this is the only church that makes him feel good when he attends. Sometimes 3 hour meetings are tough when you understand the language and are able to visit with friends, but imagine attending in complete silence with only the spirit to whisper to your soul the message of the gospel. He loved going to church. Teaching him the lessons was interesting. It was a dose of Pictionary folded in with an active game of Charades. How do you explain prayer or the atonement without words to communicate? It was one of the neatest experiences on my mission and to top it off – he started bringing his brothers and sisters to church. Within a month the whole 8 member family had been baptized from that 10 year old feeling the spirit of attending church.

Work is going well if just a few things fall into place. I’m working on a very large sale to the Doctor group headed up by Dr. Tim Moore, Sean’s dad. We have a good shot at getting their 401 K business and this week I’m in Utah to visit a client worth about 20 million. I pray it is a good week.

In Sunday School we had a lesson on the Savior and when the teacher read the scripture in Isaiah 53:4

3 He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not.

4 ¶ Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted.

5 But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.

I realized that we were talking about a different God and Savior than what we typically think of. This scripture doesn’t tout his power nor his majesty it tells us that he understands our trials, and loneliness, and suffering, and angst, and despair, and disappointments, and pains. He understands them because he lived them. From that I can feel of his love as he willingly suffered all those hurts that he may heal us with his stripes. Here is verse 11 and 12:

11 He shall see of the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied: by his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many; for he shall bear their iniquities.

12 Therefore will I divide him a portion with the great, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong; because he hath poured out his soul unto death: and he was numbered with the transgressors; and he bare the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors.

He did that to make an intercession for us the transgressors and he shall bear our iniquities. It is new found love of the Savior that I felt today because he is one that can understand my trials and still love me enough to serve and justify. Thank you for spreading his gospel.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Why is it snowing in Costa Rica

I’m so sorry I didn’t write last week. It was all so crazy with the snow storm hitting Costa Rica for the first time ever and instead of zip lines there were lift lines and ski runs. Instead of scuba tanks and snorkel masks there were skis and poles and goggles. It was all so confusing to me. I thought I would be 60 feet under water swimming with sharks or body surfing on waves but there were these snow drifts and freezing temperatures. What happen to me and my family? Ahhh… the travel gods had played a cruel trick on me, but I wasn’t going to let a few feet of snow or 70 degrees of temperature difference ruin my trip to Costa Rica we would have fun not matter where we were.

You know they say that crises plus time equals humor and the whole fiasco of switching gears from sea to ski for our vacation is now starting to become humorous, but deep down inside it STILL HURTS!!! I can’t tell you how depressing it was to have read and scheduled and talked and planned for a tropical paradise vacation and then to have this snippy Frontier agent say, “You’re a day late for your flight and there is nothing I can do for you. Happy New Year.” We heard the travel agent say “midnight on the 2nd of January.” We all thought it meant the night of the 2nd not the early morning of the 2nd. I feel so dumb, but will never make that mistake again. The Frontier agent did say that many people have made the same mistake. All of our group was very supportive over the whole screw up, but you could tell that it cut deeply and it is starting to depress me again so I’m changing subjects with this positive note. When we head back to Costa Rica again more of the family will be able to join us and that is a happy thought.

The day before we left had been such a fun day. Everyone came down to the aquarium for lunch and a chance to see me swim around with the sharks. Sammy and Jensen were a little scared of this black suited, goggle eyed, bubble breathing creature everyone was calling Grandpa. I waved but those boys didn’t know what to think especially with all the fish around. During the feeding I was initiated into the dining room tank because I had the Morey Eel sitting on my shoulder wanting food and then I kicked him in the face as I swam off. But the real pain was the puffer fish that decided to chomp down on my thumb thinking it was a tasty treat. Thank goodness I was wearing steel mesh gloves or it could have broken my thumb. My thumb hurt for a week and it still is a little purple. We did have a blast in the rest of the aquarium.

The game of the vacation became Heroscapes. I don’t know if you have ever heard of this game but it includes role playing heroes with different powers and abilities on an epic battle field you create. There is strategy, major battles and small skirmishes. Sometimes the all powerful hero gets crushed by the lowly ugly swamp creature or he may rule the board. We played as individuals and as teams; rolling dice to conduct battles and inflict wounds. Yes and it got intense at times as the rolls didn’t always go as expected. Like the time Brad crushed my Superman with this big thumping creature that shouldn’t even be on the same board game. We had this one major game with Danica and I against the rest and it came down to a final struggle of only two guys and a careful roll of the dice. After the vacation Mom suggested that we need to buy the game so we can keep up with the kids and stand a chance to compete.

After the disaster at the airport mom was able to resurrect the vacation and preformed a miracle by getting us a condo in Breckenridge for exactly the time we needed. We all would have gone nuts or killed each other over Heroscapes if left alone in the house for another week. So it became a ski vacation and we were going to tackle the Colorado mountains. Mom even wanted to go skiing. We traded in snorkeling masks for skiing gloves and headed to the mountains. We got there Friday night and set to work on getting as many free skiing passes as we could. That meant going to condo tours – everyone going to condo tours. They took one look at Brad and Celeste as starving students and just gave them the free lift passes, but gave us the full pitch. After Saturday and Sunday we had enough passes and an extra place to stay for only a few bucks. We took a break from condo presentations Saturday afternoon to go to “Ready, Fire, Paint” where we got to paint and fire some pottery pieces. It was a blast – painting and talking and watching the snow fall and the pieces turned out so well. Sunday we went to church and enjoyed a fantastic steak dinner. Again I had to brave the elements to grill the steaks to perfection, but it was worth it.

Monday was ski day and even Mom jumped on a pair and went forth to conquer the slopes, as long as they were green. It was sunny, not crowded and with a touch of new snow. It was as perfect as skiing could be. Brad and I skied with mom for a few runs and then moved on up the mountain. I don’t remember skiing being so fun. We skied down a terrain park run and I even caught a little air. I couldn’t stop skiing and they had to call me on the cell phone to have me come down and eat. Of course we ate at Eric’s Downstairs. The next day was even better except for the wind, but the slopes were great. Brad and I found this far side of the mountain that had all these great blue runs that ran up and down these rolling hills and it was a super ride. I didn’t enjoy the ungroomed runs but we were skiing fast enough to beat the chairs down and with no lift lines got in a ton of runs. Mom and Celeste skied their buns off in the afternoon, even some blue runs, and then we sadly headed home to face reality. Now Mom wants us to plan a vacation in the mountains one year and the next year at the beach.