Sunday, June 20, 2010

Happy Father's Day

We did something yesterday that we hadn’t ever done in the nearly 20 years we have lived in Colorado. We went to the Renaissance Faire in Larkspur and it was a blast. We should have done it all along. It was like an old English/French/Italian/Celtic/Dudgeons and Dragons village from 300 or 500 or 800 years ago. Before you enter the Faire there is a shop where you can rent costumes for the days in the ‘village”. About 1/3 of the guests were in costume and they were fun, colorful, and a little flirtatious with some of the women’s bodices. There were lots of entertaining jugglers, singers, musicians and acrobats performing on several live stage shows. The food selection ranged from hard boiled Scottish Eggs, to Thai coconut crusted Green Beans, to “Steak on a Stake”, and Deep fried ice cream. We went through a lot of cash very quickly tasting the fun food. They even had Mac and Cheese on a stick.

It was a perfect day weather wise and we went with another couple who were particularly fun. Dave, the husband, is a couple years older than me but a true child at heart. All day he was saying things like, “Oh, there’s a Maze, let’s go!”; “Look at these cool wooden swords, I want one.”; “Let’s ride the camels and the elephants.”; “I just got to have some of those fries.”; “Are we going to see the jousting?”; and “This is the best funnel cake with ice cream and strawberries I have ever eaten.” He made it so fun because of his childlike enthusiasm.

I have been thinking about my dad a lot lately for two reasons: I’m going back to Canada for my 40th High School Reunion next weekend, and it is Father’s Day. With the new Vancouver temple having just opened last month I thought it would be cool to do my dad’s endowment in that temple. I really had to ask myself if I was ready to forgive and move on from the torturous relationship we had, and I’ve concluded that I’m ready. I just don’t feel the poison I used to about him. His toxic life style was sad and destructive for him and his family but if I dwell on his noxious behavior I’m held back.

I have finally made peace with him. I can see his weaknesses and his strengths and the scale is not equal, but one thing I have learned over the past 6 years is that only the Savior is perfect. We are all flawed and fall way short of the ideal. It is for God to judge and for us to try to forgive the damages and the hurts. If we don’t; we are the ones that suffer. All my anger towards my father doesn’t hurt or repay him it just diminishes my soul and standing before my Heavenly Father. And I need all the help I can get.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Ta'alofa Lava

Every once and a while, out of the blue, a long standing prayer gets answered. It is one of life’s tender mercies and brings with it unexpected blessings and strengthens faith. For almost two years now since the missionaries started living here, during every transfer I have requested a trade in for a Samoan elder. Over time and realizing that there are only two Samoans in the mission I had given up my hope of swapping silly Samoan songs with a native speaker and having someone verify that the gibberish I often spoke when I tried to communicate with an Hispanic face in a foreign country was real. But the Lord has listened and decided to bless our home with a genuine Samoan elder.

I know he is a real Samoan because he recognized my tapa cloth wall hanging, loves to sleep in, likes all kinds of physical activity, laughs at my silly jokes and stories, likes to tease his companion, and cooked his companion a dinner of canned mackerel with onion and rice. It filled the house with that unique fish smell for a couple of days and I thought I was back in the Islands.

Now I’m embarrassed with my weak language skills and fumble through a mix of Samoan and English to tell a story but it is so fun to have a “Faifeautala’i” in our home. He has been so kind to play along that he understands my diminished word selection and talks very slowly with me. I get a few of his words and it sends my mind back to sweaty hot days, walking dusty roads, fighting off mosquitoes and bugs, eating fish heads, and teaching the gospel to the most beautiful faith filled people on earth. The Lord must love me a little to bless my life with this spot of fun and joyful memories.
Thank you for answered prayers. Tofa Soifua.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

The Branson Experience

If getting there is half the fun then our trip to Branson was a blast, because the trip there was an experience. Surprise, surprise we got a bit of a late start and decided to have Dave drop us off at the terminal while we went to park the car. I felt lousy – my heart was fribulating – and mom had a broken arm from her biking accident and Danica was carrying Charlie. Mom and I honestly tried to corral Lily and Jensen who were super excited to be on a traveling adventure. They wanted to explore everywhere as long as it was in different directions and they could leave their bags behind. Unless of course one touched the other’s bag then there would be howls of protest.
The airport was really crowded and the security line was at least 30 mins. We were stressing - Dave was delayed parking the car. Our little explorer Lily had found that under the hand rail for the moving sidewalk was this fun black grease that worked like finger paint and tasted good. And Jensen was crawling, climbing, and crowding around all the people. Fodder wing Tracy and I took all three kids through security so Danica could wait for Dave with his boarding pass. In the midst of supreme confusion of the crowd at security as we were removing shoes and unpacking toiletries and the lap top; Lily bit Jensen on the arm he let out a scream that nearly set off other alarms. Jensen ran off to find Danica, the security guard wanted Tracy to open Charlie’s bottle which she couldn’t because of her arm, and Lily started crying – I wanted to cry too, but a few minutes later we some how passed through the pandemonium and limped our way to the gate where we met with Dave and Danica and thankfully a flight that was delayed by 45 minutes.
The hour flight felt like to took three hours with a couple of delays, but we arrived in Kansas City and had a rather unpleasant experience renting a van. They gave us a 5 passenger sedan for 7 people and then wanted to argue about it. Finally a nice lady helped the guy read the rental agreement and we got our van. Four hours later we were arrived in Branson at 4 am. I was glad to have that half of our fun done.
Celeste arrived the next day to added two more children, so we were 6 adults and 5 children all 4 and under – it was almost even odds with the battle favoring the kids. I don’t really mean that cuz I love my grandchildren and we had a great time with them at the pool, miniature golfing, at Silver Dollar City, at restaurants and at the fish hatchery. The adults loved the Beatles show, the second miniature golfing game, the rising table at McFarland’s, shopping at Branson Landing, laser tag, go carts, water fights at Silver Dollar City, and nap time.
It was great fun to be with family, make memories and remember the really important things in life. It is spending time, and talking, and planning, and cooking, and eating, and hanging, and playing, and swimming, and watching movies, and eating caramel popcorn deserts, and in general enjoying each other’s company. Travel may not be smooth, and the costs may be steep, and the ear drums may suffer a little but it is so worth it to be with family…..a little slice of heaven.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

The Bike Hike

I got to live a dream last weekend. Every time I drive to Utah as we pass through Fruita on the south side of the freeway is a rise of hills that hide a treasure – a single track bike path along a cliff above the Colorado River. Several years ago, when Don and Austin were Teachers, we went on a scout outing to bike that path and I was so miserable out of shape, not having biked for several – I mean several years. It was so embarrassing to prattle along way behind everyone and walk along the scary places, but it was so beautiful that I wanted to come back and really enjoy the challenge, the exercise, and the scenery. The only thing to make it better would be to bike it with as many of my sons and son-in-laws as possible. Well last weekend five of us (Bryce, Don, Austin, Preston, and myself) gathered Sunday evening in Grand Junction to brave the wild winds and threatening cloudy skies to ride my dream on Monday. I have been doing some summer biking to get into shape to keep up with crazy Bryce who wants to kill people on his bike hikes.

It was cold and windy and we really didn’t know where in the world we were going but we ventured forth up a long smooth dirt road with the wind in our face. It was a great warm-up for a dandy uphill slog to get over the hilly ridge and then a nice downhill run to get started on the trail. There was a trail Bryce was contemplating called, “Moore Fun”, but the trail guide called it “more pain” so we decided to torture ourselves in different ways. Right at the start, we ALL consciously peddled right past a sign clearly marking our trail as a dead end and thought it was the right trail. We explored this little used rocky road for a couple of miles until – surprise/surprise it ended in a dead end at a cliff with a nice drop off but a great view of the river and trail we should have been on below. When it was determined we need to go back and start over again there was an audible groan.

So after an interesting detour we finally got on the correct trail and enjoyed a spectacular ride through the rough countryside, along a dramatic hillside, and a couple of sheer cliffs. Along the backside run it was this cool downhill with stair stepping rock drop offs. With every drop I though I was going to go “a__ over tea kettles” but managed to hold on. Don had the dramatic move of the day as he skidded, laying rubber, over 10 yards as he tried to avoid slamming into a parked Bryce and ended up parked parallel with just two inches to spare in Hollywood fashion.

Hey, I tackled and conquered the last long uphill pull and relished the coasting ride into the parking lot. It was a great day, I felt redeemed from the previous outing and I got to spend time with some of the most important people in the world to me in an incredibly beautiful place – so what if my legs felt like they were going to fall off and Don had to drive home because I was so tired. Where are we going to go next month???