Friday, July 24, 2020

Chopper 5, Outdoor Lights, and Birthdays

The other day I asked Daisy if she wouldn't mind "getting that stuff on the floor over there."

"Where? she asked. "What stuff?"

"Just that blood and chocolate on the floor by the table," I replied. 

And so she did. 

And that's the way things go around here. (Lest anyone feel too alarmed about the blood: Anders cut his big toe on something or other while playing around outside and, apparently, failed to notice before tracking his way through the house. If it is the chocolate you are alarmed about, well, I don't know what to tell you about that.)

Anyway, a few bits of this and that:

Mike recently found his old Jeep. Chopper (or Chopper 5). This was the very Jeep he had (and loved with all of his might) in high school. The very one! It has fallen on hard times -- just like that horse in Black Beauty. BUT! It's back in his care now. And hopefully its redemption is near. Or ... near-ish.

In an effort to subdue their boredom, I sent Anders and Summer out to "take pictures of interesting things" one afternoon. Here are a few of the pictures they brought back. It makes me chuckle picturing them out there together taking turns posing so thoughtfully on that stump.
Kids reading to other kids. (Surely that's worth dealing with a little blood and chocolate!)

This handsome kid adjusting smashingly to his new mission. 

Speaking of. ... A great plus of having Abe in the states is that the kids can send him real mail so easily. They loved sending him actual letters while he was in the MTC and are loving being able to do it again. Jesse in particular enjoys it and faithfully mails him at least twice a week. One cute thing is that it has allowed him to continue his picture battles with Abe. He draws one and sends it in the mail. Then Abe draws the reply, takes a photo, and emails it to Jesse on p-days. It makes me happy. (Though I have great concerns for how that tree creature will fare. ...)
My mom over for a Sunday dinner with us before Abe left.  

Some sort of gear toy and Hans. I don't know who even took this picture. It just appeared on my phone. As many odd things do. (Including this white and black one of Jesse.)

This pizza box. (This really should be in my next Bear Lake post. The one I haven't written yet. But it's on my phone with this hodgepodge of photos, so ...) We occasionally eat at Bear Lake Pizza. They have a HUGE pizza called the Old Ephraim -- which we have never before purchased (even though those who finish it at the restaurant get their picture on the wall). But during a recent reunion, Mike's brother bought the Old Ephraim and sent the leftovers up to our cabin. That's a big pizza. 

I mentioned to Mike a few weeks ago that I thought it would be fun to have some of those outdoor lights I occasionally see people hang. Only a day or two later ... he brought me home some outdoor lights! That's just the sort of thing he does: recall small wants I mention in passing and make them so. I love so much that he does that for me. And the lights! The pictures don't do it justice. It just makes the outside seem so inviting and cozy at night! The first few nights we stayed out till late just enjoying the atmosphere. I really wonder why I have allowed myself to live for this many years without cozy, hanging, outdoor lights! They make me happy every time we turn them on. (And they also made the kids' recent outdoor movie and tent-sleeping night extra cheery.)

This sleeping (and waffle-eating) cherub. She is saying all her animal sounds, and repeating words left and right, and shouting for her siblings by name. (Well, some of them anyway. She has Daisy, Jesse and Abe down, but Goldie is just GoGo and poor Penny is only Puh.) But it's such a fun stage to be entering. One of my favorites.

And Goldie turned 16! 16! She used to weep at the thought of aging. She was only ever going to allow herself to get up to age six. No older. But somehow ... here she is. She even got herself a job at a local ice cream store. And it's good it is local because we are still woefully behind in all her driving hours, but ... with Daisy leaving for college soon, I am sure we will have the motivation we need to get them done and get another licensed driver in the house!

Mike bought fertilized eggs and stuck them under the broody hen at his parents'. It is always sad when a hen won't leave her clutch of eggs ... when they are eggs that will never hatch. After three weeks, the new eggs hatched and now there are four little chicks pecking about. And hens really are such vigilant, hovering, and good little mothers. Very fun to watch. 

And that is all for now. At least in pictures. In other, non-picture moments: Daisy just returned from a senior trip with a bunch of friends up to our cabin; Mike is putting together a "big boy bed" for Hans as we speak; Pen, Jesse and Anders are working on the script for a detective movie (they keep coming and telling me ideas for their movie that are so funny ... that I can't understand a word they say through their laughter); and our computer desk is covered with one thousand electronic parts that Jesse ... seems to be using. 

But this list could go on for pages, so for now I will sign off. 

Thursday, July 23, 2020

Post In Which We Send Abe On His Mission. Again.

On the morning of June 23rd, nearly three months into having Abe unexpectedly back home with us, Mike and I loaded him (along with the suitcases and carry-on that had been sitting, at the ready, on his bedroom floor since late March) into our small white car; and, with his siblings jumping up and down and shouting goodbyes from the street corner until we were out of sight, headed to the airport where he would be boarding a plane to Las Vegas for his “second mission” (as I’d begun to think of it).

For weeks my mind had rocked back and forth in time over all the activities playing themselves out in a strange repeat of last year. I kept thinking of our family last summer — and how we never would have even thought to imagine all the sameness we’d be experiencing this summer: a last Bear Lake trip, looking up mission Facebook pages, choosing a quitting date for Abe’s job, taking care of last minute preparations (last June it was buying luggage and getting an apostille, this June it was fixing a suit hem and shipping a bike), and that same heavy rock in my stomach expanding upward as the days grew closer to goodbye.

All that replication. Everything so tossed back in time. And yet we’d experienced so much in the space between that first goodbye and this reprise! We knew and understood all of these things that we hadn’t before.

Which served as a comfort. Definitely.

But also allowed for a more full comprehension of the magnitude of our goodbye.

I knew pretty well just what was ahead this time. It reminded me of natural childbirth the second time around — when I went in with the benefit of experience and knowing somewhat what to expect but also ... with the very realistic trepidation of experience and knowing somewhat what to expect.

And so, knowing what his absence was, and not feeling at all ready to begin it again, I shed far more tears and hugged Abe goodbye much longer this time than I ever did the first time.

But, having him home was joy. (Below are a few pics off his phone of some of his various adventures.) And while, already, the memory of his being here — snuggly fitted into our life again — is beginning to feel like snatching at those dust particles in a stream of sunlight, I feel so lucky to have had those months of reconnection.

And, I don’t know if I can describe this properly, but there is something so lovely I’ve begun seeing in all of this. It keeps circling in my mind, wrapping and tucking its way into my understanding, and showing increasing areas of application in my own life. Sort of a "faith precedes the miracle" concept. So, between Abe, his many close friends who were brought home from foreign missions at the same time as he was, the many missionaries who returned to the US from his same mission, and the friends who had just received foreign calls to places they now could not go, we witnessed a host of missionaries being given new assignments the last few months. There was an interesting feel about the response to these reassignments. The emphasis on where (which had seemed so hugely paramount before) dwindled to ... nearly gone. Not that they weren’t anxious or eager to know where they would be. But, for all of them, it was different from where they thought they would be. And most, including Abe, seemed to care relatively little about where their new assignment was. They’d committed to a mission. And they were simply going to finish it. Where didn’t really matter much anymore.

So they went. And then ... God began showing them that the where did matter after all! Almost as if they’d passed some test in their submissive willingness to go even if the spot no longer mattered. “Good work,” God seemed to smile and say. “I'm so proud that you were willing to serve when you felt the place maybe didn't even matter anymore. And now I will show you that it does matter.” Things like Abe meeting, within two weeks of his arrival in Las Vegas, two different families who knew people he knew in El Salvador. (A country of 6.5 million where he had only spent 8.5 months). Just these kind little nods from God saying, “There is connection here and purpose in all of this. And I have had no trouble arranging important things for your mission even through a pandemic.”

And of course, seeing glimpses of things like that, always make the sacrifice seem small compared to: God directing a path and granting amazing opportunities to have certain people brought into our lives, to serve him, and to learn specific lessons. It's amazing. And exciting. 

So. Here we go again. On to “second mission”. ...
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