24
Apr
17

elderSkyeSonomura_operationValidation_massemail.part022

(OPENING DISCLAIMER: If you’d like to read why I’m out here, here’s a talk I gave before I left: https://webloomsage.wordpress.com/2016/10/30/my-farewell-talk/ If at any point you’d like to stop receiving these lil’ e-mails or if you know someone who isn’t on the list and wants to be, I will add & take away as requested. :  ) I know that not everyone here is religious, & I’ll do all I can to put disclaimers for anything like that. Trying my best here!)

 
Sorry for the large seriffed letters, & that terrifying barrage of Drive invites. This e-mail service makes all this custom content I crave… es un poco difícil. Thank you for putting up with such issues– I’m doing all I can to share all the Love I can from out here, in the Time I’ve been given. (Shout-out to Jack. He also loves to randomly capitalize Important Nouns.)
We ate dinner with a family called the Butlers, who, immediately after seeing my ‘ukulele, began to get very excited. As we both went into our families’ musical backgrounds, it became clear this dinner wasn’t going to end before we had a Jam Session. Brother Butler played the banjo (we talked a lot about how Steve Martin is secretly one of the best banjo players in the World), & Sister Butler played the bass (she apparently loves playing stand-up bass, too! Mama played bass, & Daddy played banjo~). He sang out the chords (“Gee, Gee, Dee-ee, Dee! Gee, Gee, Dee-ee, Dee!“) over the melody to catch me up to speed. The results were magical. Made me think of the times my mOm has had Jam Sessions! Something so unforgettable about just diving into a song with someone head-first. Got that effervescent excitement to it.
They also had a rather large homemade swing around back! Elder Forsyth could barely contain his excitement, which I thought was adorable. Adorable Elder. ^_^ Elder Forsyth is also a landscaper, by trade. (Which has certainly come in handy in all our lawn-related service work this week.) He is very passionate about flowers. Adorable Elder. ^_^ Elder Forsyth really wants to have a hairless cat some day, & never stops talking about this one dog he saw whose name was Mustache, because he misses that dog so much. OuO ADOGABLE ELDOG.
As I said in a previous epistle, my participation in the story of Analissa wasn’t quite over! This past week, I had the opportunity to attend her baptism, with my last two companions, Elder Blätter & Elder Coco. We’d promised to sing A Child’s Prayer, per the family’s request, & consarn’it, I keep my promises! Since I hadn’t been able to say goodbye, I’d recorded a message in which I promised that, even if I had to reschedule a bajillion other baptisms, I would make it there. Then I sang Lollipop. Because that’s Analissa’s younger sister, Dahlia’s favorite song. I also promised I would learn that. I am good at keeping promises. Anyway, the baptism came at a remarkable time; Only a few days before, Analissa’s new baby brother, Demetri, was born. Which I think really coloured the event. It helped us all to think about the ever-withstanding importance of family, & how all of this is all just meant to bless our families. That’s really it. & man, does Analissa’s family mean a lot to me. Hope I get to meet Demetri.
 
Apparently, the water was a little cold– the taps in there are a little hard to work! We warned Analissa– her response was, “I don’t care what the temperature is, I just want to get baptized!!” As Analissa was walking down into the water with Elder Blätter (which rhymes), Dahlia jumped up & down excitedly, shouting, “Aya! Aya!!Aya!” (That’s what she calls Analissa.) No one even needed to tell her to calm down, as it went underway, though. Everyone was beaming, quietly. I gave an ending talk with my lovely assistant, Elder Forsyth. Analissa came back just in time from drying off for me to talk to her about my own avid reading as a child, & how I’d tote around my scriptures everywhere, too.
When we’d first arrived, I shook Analissa’s hand. See, us missionaries are told to be really careful around kids. There’s been too many lawsuits in the past. So– I mean, I sure am trying to be careful. In my first area, though– in the very first week, in-fact– I ate with a wonderful family called the Freemans. The moment I walked in, the littlest girl asked who the new missionary in the group was. Everyone gestured to me, & she pounced over & gave my knees a really big hug. Then she asked where I came from. I said “Hawai’i,” to which she responded with, “THAT’S SO FAR AWAY!! Here, you need an even bigger hug!” She squeezed even tighter, until she shook with the effort. I’d be lying if I said that didn’t mean everything to me.
So, too, the following event meant everything to me. After the ending prayer, we had to leave, pronto. (The Day had been packed. We’d spent two-and-half hours that morning assisting in the move of an antique collector/packrat-in-training. We very cautiously/crazily used a car jack to transport a 500 pound steel stove from the 70s.) To make it less sad for me, I tried to make my way out as quickly as possible, but I was stopped by Brother Gomez, who’d taught with us. He told me how much everything I’d done meant to him & to all who were there, that if I was ever in the area not to be a stranger, & then he asked me, “Can I get one more hug from you?” I graciously accepted, & was happy that someone had caught me, even though I had been trying to leave. Just then, as I was taking the final three steps to the car, I hear, “ELDER SONNY!!!” from quite a bit away. I turn around, & Analissa is sprinting to me in her dress. She gives me a huge hug, & I can’t help but give her that hug back. As I walk into the car, I start sobbing. Hard. I needed that, way more than I was willing to admit. But Analissa knew.
Warning: talking about religion!
We met with a person who works with the prophet today. The thing that stuck out the most to me was that the one thing he really even mentioned about the prophet was that “he has the ability to step into a room & know exactly who needs his help the most, & then he does that.” Of all the things he could’ve said, he brought up that the prophet’s greatest purpose is just to serve people in need, & show his Love through that service. That’s really all God wants his children to do. Hey! We all can do that! :  )
Done now, thank you for your understanding!
We met with an 11-year-old named Wynter, who actually hid in a closet the second time we came over. She really didn’t want to meet with her. & why? Because we, believe it or not, are boring. We are boring people. What a nice thing to say to people who brought Easter flowers with us, because we noticed how many cool plants were in their house! We did our best to be… not boring… (I even made sure to mention that in my opening prayer!) Alas,Doe Wynter was resorting to commentating about our boringness through American Sign Language. At the end, when we asked if there was anything we could to help the family, Wynter whispered in her mom’s ear, “They could not come back.” I left her with the challenge to come up with a way that we could be less boring for her, because we’re really there just for her, because we care about her. When we left, only a few hours later, we got a text from Wynter’s mom. She said that Wynter had actually felt really bad after we left. We’d talked a lot about how we pray to become better every day– like what I was talking about last time with KC. Apparently, Wynter decided to pray to not be so rude to the missionaries. Elder Forsyth & I were incredibly surprised. Even more surprising was seeing her at church this Easter– & instead of getting the normal dead-fish high-five from her (you know what I’m talking), it was actually an admirably firm high-five, for once! After church, I ran to give her Easter eggs, & she said “thank you!” … Which is the nicest thing I’ve yet to hear her say. Happy Easters!
Speaking of Easters, we almost didn’t have an Easter dinner– the family that had signed up randomly got invited to another dinner, so… … we were almost stuck with frozen lasagna! Thankfully, the Davises (family of Cody’s girlfriend) stepped in to save us. In thanks, I decided to share a song that’s very, very personal for me. Cody, as I said before, is a very quiet, pensive, almost standoff-ish person. When I started the song, he was laying against a column quite a bit away from. I think he might’ve felt uncomfortable. By the end, though, somehow, he’d made his way all the way to the seat next to me.
Music’s just the best. In Hunter, we randomly passed by a member named Jean who was gardening. We asked if we could sing her a song, & after, she told us she’d only recently quit smoking & was struggling to stick with it, & the song was just what she needed for that extra strength at just the right time. Or we were meeting with a burly yet tender father named Brother Evans who wanted us to visit with his daughter, if it were possible, since she lived with his ex-wife. (So difficult.) When we sang a song for him, he was very quiet, then took a deep breath in & out, & said, “I gotta shake your hands.” Which he proceeded to, vigorously. He said, like Jean, that it was just what he needed at just the right time. & so, I’m going to just end by attaching a performance of the song of which I speak/sing. (Along with some other leftovers & tidbits.) May the song express all I’d like to, & all that needs to be. AS MUSIC ALWAYS, ALWAYS DOES.
You are great, you are awesome,
sKye (eLder sOnomura)
24
Apr
17

elderSkyeSonomura_operationValidation_massemail.part021

(OPENING DISCLAIMER: If you’d like to read why I’m out here, here’s a talk I gave before I left: https://webloomsage.wordpress.com/2016/10/30/my-farewell-talk/ If at any point you’d like to stop receiving these lil’ e-mails or if you know someone who isn’t on the list and wants to be, I will add & take away as requested. :  ) I know that not everyone here is religious, & I’ll do all I can to put disclaimers for anything like that. Trying my best here!)

Reporting to you live from his newly surveilled tablet, it’s eLder sOnomura! (Wee!)
We came up with a Game Plan this week. (I think that’s Elder Forsyth’s favorite phrase: Game Plan.) The Game Plan was as follows: say hello to people in the neighborhood with interesting houses. That was really it– look for really interesting houses, talk with them about their interesting houses, then offer any service to them around their interesting houses. From this, we were given the opportunity to climb a man’s homegrown Mega Treehouse (He apparently started building it to deal with the stress of having relatives in the house. Interesting tactic!), investigate the mossy underbrush of a densely populated koi pond, tromp around in an old-fashioned Wild Western, & pose in-front of a whale that came from an amusement park/fast food restaurant. (His kids come on holidays & spraypaint the lawn like water.)
More importantly, we got to meet a lot of truly brilliant people, spend time with them, & serve them. They all seemed pleasantly surprised that someone was complimenting their house. Strange to think that maybe no one has ever just done that in passing before. Simple enough, right? I can’t stop myself from saying those sorts of things when I see them– it’s hilarious how many people, in the past, have been confused by my compliments.
On the subject, I saw an elderly couple eating brunch together at a Denny’s. The man had an English cap, & I quietly said, “I love your English cap!” as I passed. He didn’t hear, but his wife did, & said, “Dear, this young man likes your cap.” I said, “It’s so classy! My dad gave me a really nice one. If I could wear it right now, I definitely would.” We all snickered about it.
The man with the whale kept asking us what he could do for us. He said, “What can we do to help you?” in the most sincere way I’ve ever heard it said, & that is severely unusual! When we told him we were just looking for more people who we might be able to help, he took us very seriously. He was literally straining to think of who we could help. I almost thought to say, “Don’t hurt yourself, brother!” But he eventually came up with two names. The second one was prefaced with the statement, “They’d never accept you.” Which is a great way to start any recommendation. But he said it, anyway. & since he said it, we went for it, anyway.
Here’s the twist: we were warmly received into the house. There were two TVs inside: one had a middle-aged man playing a game called Rayman on it– the other had a younger man playing another game called Life is Strange on it. They were both shocked when I knew what they were playing. (Reminds me of when I played the ‘ukulele for an older man– & afterwards, he couldn’t remember the name of the first person he ever heard play an ‘ukulele. I threw out a whole bunch of names– including Tiny Tim. He immediately lit up & grinned a wonky grin, as I did my best impression of him singing Tiptoe Through the Tulips. He’d been trying to hide or cover his smile the entire time we were talking– maybe he was embarrassed. It was nice to see him smile & not worry about it.) A woman on the inside came out & said it was a good thing we arrived, because she needed a blessing. She talked about the strange & unexplainable illness she’d gotten, & how it was making the simplest things difficult. We blessed her, happily– & that would’ve been beautiful enough! But then, immediately afterward, her daughter, Samantha stepped out. Samantha’s about to have a baby, & she’s been looking for a change in her transient & difficult life. The missionaries had been kind to her, & she wanted to finally hear us out.
When we came back to visit with her– well, first off, Samantha’s mom said she felt GREAT. The walls were no longer spinning at all. & from the get go, Samantha had so many big, interesting questions. Elder Forsyth & I were happy to hear every one of them– it was funny how she started each question with, “I know you can’t answer this question.” & we said, “Well, maybe not… but we’d love to hear it, anyway!” & let’s be real: we probably can’t answer, like, 99% of all the questions people may have. A therapist was speaking to this group of parents & children in one of the churches we were attending, & said that, instead of being so focused on finding answers for people, all he ever really does is listen. He said the moment you become so determined to have answers, you close yourself off. So– really, I think the best thing we can do for anyone is just to be open. We all just want to be heard. But, her questions just happened to be ones we could answer. In spite of all the deep & complicated things we were talking about, we were able to hone it all back into how important our families are, & how much our Heavenly Father loves us. Samantha thanked us, & told us about how she felt like she was finally in a good place. How she felt she was trully Home. How she knew she was here, & here with us, for a reason. That goes doubly the other way around, for Elder Forsyth, & Elder… Me.
During those switch-outs where I’m with other missionaries, we were able to meet wonderful people who we could serve. There was a door that was open on the street Elder Perdomo & I were walking down. We passed by it– Elder Perdomo had previously told me I needed to pick a house to go to. So I asked if we could try that open door. Since… well, it was already open to us, right? The woman who answered the door was actually the grandmother of the children in the house. She’s babysitting them while her daughter travels around Germany with some people she was a nanny to once upon a time. There was a big heater that needed to be installed, left out in the living room, still in the box. We asked if we could help install it, & she happily accepted our offer. When we went to a set appointment later in the day, we walked in on a very somber looking little kid named KC. When I asked him if everything was okay, his dad said KC had made a big mistake & that he was facing consequences. He wanted us to teach KC why it’s important to choose the right. Ooh. In our lesson, we made sure to start by making it completely clear that NO ONE is perfect, & that we missionaries were once little kids, too. We made LOADS of mistakes, & we continue to make mistakes. Every day. What’s most important is that we’re constantly trying to be better every day, too.
Warning: talking about religion!
When we make mistakes, they can feel so heavy. & that burden can start to weigh on us so much, but what’s amazing is that Heavenly Father & Jesus Christ have blessed us with the ability to repent– to have a change of heart– to be forgiven & become better every day. All of those burdens can be completely taken away. I repent– daily– & it is the BEST to feel so light.
Done now, thanks for your understanding!
KC actually started to smile & laugh along with our lesson, & by the ending, he opened up entirely. He handed me a little toy from this game called Minecraft– which I tried very hard to give back to him, but he insisted I keep it. I put it right in the pocket next to my heart, & told him what an honour it was.
Also, KC had a friend over named Aaron. Aaron was an expert at freestyle rapping about God, & making music on the computer.
I listened to some of it.
I gave him my e-mail.
As we traipsed around, trash-picking by the trail, we saw a man who was sitting half-asleep on the side of the road. We’d just received some water bottles from dinner, & both Elder Perdomo & I said, in unison, “Would you like a water bottle?” Fun that we had the same thought. (Elder Forsyth, in a complete parallel to MY donut story, gave a family donuts while we were one exchanges. Pay it forward, pay it food-ward.) It was a very hot day, so once he was coherent enough to understand our offer, he graciously accepted it. Stay hydrated, everybody!
In another area, Elder Hall (who is currently taking care of his landlords’ chickens!) & I moved large wood panels to the in-progress backyard patio. The woman who owned the house was having her sons help her out– they’d taken out a very small amount of fence posts for us to duck through. It made me feel like I was a puzzle piece trying desperately to fit in the final gap in a puzzle, before I was pulled through against my own will. Kind of like that crazy Japanese game show. THE WAY WAS VERY STRAIGHT & NARROW. Good bonding experience, though! Both having to fit through the same ridiculously small slat. Anyway, the woman was nuts about Hawai’i– so we made sure to sing for her. The entire family stopped all their fussing & flapping around the construction site, & took a breath. :  )
As a final thing about shared interests, I met a very sweet young man who loves a video game character named Sonic. :  ) Sonic the Hedgehog. He has a YouTube channel all about it, called Sonic Rasengan. When I heard & brought up the Sonic music playing through his giant earphones, he immediately threw them off & started chatting me up. He said that he’d never met someone who cared at all about silly cartoon characters. & I was able to tell him how I’d spent my whole life caring about them– how it was, essentially, my life path, through my prospective career. Once again, it’s fascinating how silly, small things can mean a lot to people. You’d never think that such things would help to reach others, & yet… here I am! Talking with people about often silly things, in order to tell them very seriously that they matter.
As a final thought, something we’ve heard often when doors are opened to us is, “Well, it’s about time you two showed up! What took you so long? We’ve been expecting you.” In the back of my mind, I’m thinking, “I don’t know why it took so long… I mean, I sure wasn’t expecting you!” It’s funny how little we can expect from any thing/one, but every Random Encounter is immediately made important & precious. It all adds up, it all works together, & it all matters.
You are great, you are awesome,
sKye (eLder sOnomura)
24
Apr
17

elderSkyeSonomura_operationValidation_massemail.part020

(OPENING DISCLAIMER: If you’d like to read why I’m out here, here’s a talk I gave before I left: https://webloomsage.wordpress.com/2016/10/30/my-farewell-talk/ If at any point you’d like to stop receiving these lil’ e-mails or if you know someone who isn’t on the list and wants to be, I will add & take away as requested. :  ) I know that not everyone here is religious, & I’ll do all I can to put disclaimers for anything like that. Trying my best here!)

It was starting to seem like the insurance company handling my broken tablet would never e-mail me back, like they promised. (What? Tech support reps breaking promises? Perish the thought!) So I called them again. Turns out my tablet was unsalvageable, so they couldn’t do anything about it, & they weren’t able to recover any of the data left on it.

Late April Fool’s! Ha ha ha h–

Oh, wait, that’s all true. *to myself* You fool!

But the good news is that they’ve purchased a replacement for free & have sent it in my general direction. If only I had a mailbox here! Funny story: the other day, we were about to pull out of our driveway when a lady drives up to us & hands Elder Forsyth a letter. Someone in the mission had tried to send him a letter, in spite of the fact that we don’t have a mailbox, so it ended up in some random lady’s mailbox. At least we’re pretty recognizable. No one would have a hard time recognizing an Elder. … Well, we hope!

What strange mailbox-less address do I live at now, you may ask? Well, if you knew where I lived, you’d know I was meant to live here, from the get-go. In-fact, I’ve probably lived here all my life & not realized it. (Look in the proceeding attachments for the answer.) All I can say is that God has a sense of humour. So do I!

About the whole Wednesday-Thursday-Monday fiasco– allow me to shed some light on the subject (*turns on dinky little ceiling lightbulb*): in Hunter, our Preparation Day was switched over to Wednesday so we could attend the temple. Then, as the revised Preparation Day approached, we got the phone call about my impending upheaval. It was going to all go down right after our temple session. & when I arrived in Grantsville, much like some wonky time-zone shift, it would no longer be Preparation Day. … that would be directly afterward, on Thursday.

& why was it Thursday?

It was THEIR turn to attend the temple.

So I not only had two not-really-preparation-days in a row, but I ALSO had two really-actually-temple-days in a row! Which was a total blessing to me, because– well, you remember my little story about Trinitie. I get all out of sorts when I have to do important things, because I really want to do them right! So having two days in a row really helped me to finally just relax & feel at peace in the temple. If there’s any place to feel peaceful, it should be in a temple.

Not only that, but this weekend was two really-actually-very-much-days in a row of something called General Conference. It’s a conference the Church holds for spiritual guidance, for anybody & everybody! We had the opportunity to attend, & we were far from the only ones there. Droves of people from every-which-where had made the literal pilgrimage to Conference. So, amidst the flurry of footsteps, I truly didn’t expect that I’d run into my Hunter companions, accompanied by Brother Gomez, & the Binghams. But hey, I guess I’m still a part of their stories! I actually ran into them four separate times that day, so I guess that sentiment goes quadruplely. The most memorable encounter was when, right above me, I heard, “Okay, one, two, three… ELDER SONOMURA!!!” & at the top of the building I was walking under, Elder Blätter & Coco & the Binghams were positioned in a very photogenic line. To which I responded, “I NEED TO TAKE A PICTURE. RIGHT. NOW.” Evidence also below!

So I guess I’m not without my last companions. They are still here, in spirit. & … also not in spirit! Which leads me to say, I actually still have things to say about Hunter.

Our trio was actually asked to talk on Sunday… & sing. They specifically asked us to play the ‘ukulele in Sacrament meeting– which is no biggie for Hawaiians, but that takes some serious guts for Utahns. Elder Blätter was so nervous people would be so pearl-clutchingly shocked that he asked me to preface it by saying, “It’s a thing where I come from.” I’m happy to report that everyone said that, as we played, it was the most reverent the Church had ever been.

Elder Coco told me that the performance we had together at the ward Talent Show was something he’ll remember for the rest of his life, since he’d never performed before an honest-to-goodness “audience” before. Which I found hard to believe, because he seemed MUCH less nervous than me. (But then again, in a twist of expectation, maybe you only get MORE nervous the more you perform.)

Also, while speaking of unique circumstances, I’d just like to thank my family for teaching me how to be proficient in massaging. In the middle of Elder Blätter’s monstrous cold (from which he is completely recovered now!), he experienced severely painful muscle spasms. He said it was literally the worst pain he’d ever experienced in his life. He asked me if I could try to get at the tense muscle.

In the Training Center, I’d asked half-jokingly, “If my companion asked me to give him a back-rub, would I get in trouble for giving it?” I guess I can say from experience now that the answer is no! & Elder Blätter was impressed with how quickly I was able to target where & how to get at the pain & work it out. I made sure to mention this was all my family’s doing.

Okay, NOW we can move onto Grantsville.

Elder Forsyth is kind of like an Elder Gee-Elder Blätter hybrid– extremely dedicated, structured, & hard-working, while also rambunctious & unpredictable. I didn’t think you could be both, but– hey! Most of his rambunctiosity (I know, not a word.) happens when he’s in the car– he said he’s lost a lot of patience when driving while on his mission, so maybe it’s just the car. *cracks up* His dad would let him drive on the freeway in elementary school, he played clarinet a lot back home, his sister dresses up like Disney princesses for birthday parties, he’s gotten food poisoning & a sprained ankle on his mission, & in the time we’ve been together, he’s already re-sprained the ankle. & yet, he still is so psyched to play basketball every morning. Crazy.

Oh, & he’s a District Leader, like Elder Blätter! It’s a lot of added responsibility, & it’s been really weighing on him, so I’m trying to be the bestest support system.

There’s a decent amount of farmland in this area, so we were given more weeding opportunities (this time with GINORMOUS shovels), & I even fixed up a shed for the babies of a mama goat who is very pregnant! Lotta straw-scooping & wheelbarrow-scuffling. You better believe the after-work snacks of freshly canned peaches & freshly baked bread pudding were exquisite.

There’s also two retirement homes in the area that we do service at. Someone we met with in Tooele, Hannah, happens to work at one of them. (Side-note: Hannah would say she was sleeping over at a friend’s house for YEARS so her grandma could take her to church. She called the missionaries, & the missionaries thought it was a joke.) Two sisters at the home, Elaine & Carol, played a few lively rounds of Skip-Bo with us. (When I heard one of them was named Elaine, I wondered for a moment if her sister, who was my Skip-Bo partner, was named Le’Ruth… shout-out to my Grandma Truele!) It made me extremely happy to laugh & play with them, as we all hinted to them of the best cards in their hand to put down.

Another woman we visited with in the retirement homes is named Thelma. She’s currently teaching the Sunday School class in the home (they have church in there!),  & she was the primary family historian in her family for many years. Before we left, we played her my all-time favourite hymn, Families Can Be Together Forever. Halfway through it, she slowly reached for a handkerchief, put it all the way over her face, & then her shoulders shook as she began to silently cry. I almost couldn’t finish the song (aaah, I made her cry!!), but I muscled through it. Afterwards, she said our voices blended so wonderfully together, which I think Elder Forsyth needed to hear. He thinks he doesn’t have a good voice, but– come on, don’t worry if it’s not good enough for anyone else to hear. Just sing!

Funnily enough, a member we were trying to track down in Tooele (when we showed up once, his little brothers were buck-naked, hahaha) happened to pop up around here. Besides having a busy work schedule, Cody only attends church here with his girlfriend. She & her whole family are very supportive to him. Also, his girlfriend’s sister is physically allergic to the cold. I can relate. Also, they all went to the conference with us, hooray! His girlfriend didn’t travel home with us in the same car, so he spent the entire trip back staring longingly out the rain-streaked window.

Oh, & while we’re talking about rain, I switched around with a lot of other companionships this week! One of them had me serve with Elder Lane– who I was in the Training Center with. We told each other we’d serve together! We even danced together in the Training Center. But he refuses to remember this. *sniffle* When we woke up the next morning, the downpour was pretty heavy. I started to look through the planner for people nearby we could visit, & Elder Lane kept saying that we could do such things, but “later”. I told him that rain didn’t bother me. (As Grandpa Tyau would say, “You just get wet.”) So, happily, we proceeded into the pitter & the patter. He said there was a good chance the family I picked, the Mills, would not be there. But, lo & behold, the door burst open, & Sister Mills enthusiastically invited us out of the rain. Brother & Sister Mills are recently engaged, & have known each other all their lives. They were both stranded for a while in their own mess, & then were able to reach out to each other & become better, together. Also, when we asked if there was anything we could do to serve them, they excitedly pointed out that their next-door neighbor is another life-long friend– & that, while they were no longer struggling to get by, that she was in the middle of a similar circumstance. They’d been giving all their things to her. :  ) So I guess Elder Lane & his companion will have to give all their Time to her!

The second switch-off I was in was with an Elder Knutsen. He’s barely been out a month, & yet, he already knows how to follow spiritual promptings. As we were driving, he noticed a car on the side of the road. Nothing appeared to be wrong with the car, but he immediately said that he felt like turning around. So he did– so turns out that the lady in the car had driven a couple states to get here, in order to see a cousin she hadn’t seen in years– someone who’d only days before gone through a traumatizing death in the family. We had a really beautiful discussion on how amazing & important all of Life is, & she told us it was no coincidence we met. She said to stop by her cousin someday, when it feels like the time is right.

My third switcheroo was with an Elder Holladay. In the middle of that hilarious obligatory get-to-know-ya shtick, I talked about my passion for animation, & Elder Holladay responded more enthusiastically than anyone thus far. His older brother, Seth Holladay, worked at Pixar & was the first BYU-Provo student to end up there. (TRAILBLAZER.) He’s a CG teacher now, but look out for his name in WALL-E or Ratatouille next time you watch it, yo! Also, he was a bass guitarist in a band called Summer’s Impetus. (When I said that Sara played bass guitar, he said she was probably better than him, haha. I dunno, does anyone ever need any talent to be in a band?) When we went out to see who we could find at home, I had with me a huge plastic container of powdered donut holes– which Elder LANE from Switch #1 had handed to me moments before, at our missionary meeting. Another great thing that my family taught me to do: share food. Every time we’re given a large dessert to take home after a dinner, I always end up gifting it to one of the next families we meet. It’s the best, & the results are always priceless. Elder Holladay & I prayed outside the doors of each house we walked up to (which I think is an awesome thing to do– mainly just writing that here for my own benefit), & eventually, a mother answered at one of the doors. We’d be asked to come by this house before, but they’d always been too busy. This time, the mom (Sister Belosses, sp?) said we could come in, but we’d have to make it short, because their little daughter was “currently having a mental breakdown”. Poor thing! She’d just come back from a hard day at school. As we sat down, I asked if she liked donut holes. She wiped away the tears, & nodded, confused. I threw out the big plastic container at her crossed legs & said, “It’s all yours.” She was so excited, but the gesture hadn’t really sank in entirely, because she gave it back to me after she took two. I immediately handed it back, & her eyes BUGGED OUT. We were able to share a nice, quick message about trials making us stronger, & helping us to help others to know they aren’t alone. I made sure to talk about my own struggles in school, so she’d know she could do this, & that she wasn’t alone.

When I was finally back with Elder Forsyth the following day (all of this switchy-swatching went down in under two weeks– I am DIZZY.), we met for the second time with a man named Colby. He’s been a member all his life, but it’s only been recently, as a dad, that he’s wanted to really understand it. In our last lesson, I’d shared a personal experience where I’d watched old home videos of myself, & saw me treating my sister terribly. I talked about how I immediately went over to her & asked for her forgiveness for not being the best big brother back then, & how I was completely blown away when she gave that to me completely, & without a second thought. I thought I didn’t deserve it, but oftentimes in life, we have such a hard time forgiving ourselves, but when we can receive that forgiveness in full– from others & ourselves– & learn & grow & become all that God knows we can be, we receive a joy incomparable.

In this following lesson, he randomly interjected & said, “I just wanted you to know that what you shared last time about needing to apologize to your sister really changed me. I decided to reach out to an old friend I’d fallen out with years ago, & apologize for things & ask for forgiveness. It was like a huge burden I’d completely forgotten about was lifted. We’ve talked every day since.”

OKAY– one last Hunter story before I close– one of the first times I performed Families Can Be Together Forever was at a dinner appointment. Every conversation being held in that house was at max volume, & everyone seemed to be competing to be ever-increasingly louder. (The mom was the only one who seemed interested in speaking at a reasonable volume. She just smiled & shook her head the whole dinner, haha!) When we played the song, though, the riot settled down. Everyone was thoughtful, even their son, who had Tourette’s syndrome. He DID continue to interject, though– but in a way that really warmed my heart. When we sang the refrain “I always want to be with my own family,” he yelled out, “DUH!” The second time through, he said, “THAT’S for sure!” & y’know, it’s as simple as that. Anyone can get that, it’s simple, it’s a total “duh” sentiment. My family means everything to me. & you know how it is in Hawai’i: every one is family. :  )

Along with the pictures described earlier in the letter, there’s some random bits & bobs from Conference … one of the families we were visiting had constructed a fancy restaurant in their house for one of their childrens’ proms! … There’s also a few extremely obscure jokes in two of the videos. Joke #1 badly explained: One of my favorite bands is Tally Hall. One of their songs starts out with the line, “Can I get a T?” When they were touring in Utah once, they shot a video of the giant Y near BYU, & asked someone, “Y are you walking so far ahead?” Joke #2 badly explained: “1-4-3” is the number of letters in I, love, & you. Mr. Rogers talked about it once.

You are great, you are awesome,

sKye (eLder sOnomura)

*IMAGE ATTACHMENT 1, CLICK HERE*

*IMAGE ATTACHMENT 2, CLICK HERE*

*IMAGE ATTACHMENT 3, CLICK HERE*

*IMAGE ATTACHMENT 4, CLICK HERE*

*IMAGE ATTACHMENT 5, CLICK HERE*

*VIDEO ATTACHMENT 1, CLICK HERE*

*VIDEO ATTACHMENT 2, CLICK HERE*

*IMAGE ATTACHMENT 6, CLICK HERE*

*IMAGE ATTACHMENT 7, CLICK HERE*

*IMAGE ATTACHMENT 8, CLICK HERE*

*IMAGE ATTACHMENT 9, CLICK HERE*

*IMAGE ATTACHMENT 10, CLICK HERE*

*IMAGE ATTACHMENT 11, CLICK HERE*

*IMAGE ATTACHMENT 12, CLICK HERE*

*VIDEO ATTACHMENT 3, CLICK HERE*

24
Apr
17

elderSkyeSonomura_operationValidation_massemail.part019

(OPENING DISCLAIMER: If you’d like to read why I’m out here, here’s a talk I gave before I left: https://webloomsage.wordpress.com/2016/10/30/my-farewell-talk/ If at any point you’d like to stop receiving these lil’ e-mails or if you know someone who isn’t on the list and wants to be, I will add & take away as requested. :  ) I know that not everyone here is religious, & I’ll do all I can to put disclaimers for anything like that. Trying my best here!)

 

Since this is a rewrite of last week’s mass-mail (which was apparently set to Self-Destruct), I’ve taken the time to try to remember all the things I nearly left out the first time around. This is a serious work out my linguistic muscles. My thesaurus is gonna be BLASTED with this record-breaking letter(s). 

Also, this week, I beat my record of 100 sit-ups with 200 sit-ups! I hope that will also help me to become a better writer.

So where was I? Ah, yes– stories. A lot of replies have expressed their interest in everyone I’ve met, & their personal stories. I FEEL LIKEWISE. I’ve been blessed to come in the middle of these stories & play a part in them, in a tiny way. Even though I’m unsure of the details, I know amazing things are coming in each, & I hope I’ll catch wind of them to share with you. Here’s 10 of dem stories.

#1. I’m missing the next Skype concerto from Linh Thai’s kids– they were planning on playing Children All Over the World. He’ll be coming back to Utah in April, hopefully that much closer to bringing the whole family out. He told me he’s going to be my roadie someday, when I tour with my ‘ukulele. He’s already working on growing out his hair for it.

#2. Josie got baptized right before her birthday, so we made sure to stop by & play her the dorkiest medley of birthday songs the World over. We asked her why she had this weird look on her face the whole time. I mean, she’s kooky in general, which is awesome– she showed us images of square fruit on his tablet. Just because. Square watermelon. Square pineapple. Square fruit. Look it up. Anyway, it was because her mom had accidentally poured soda all over the birthday card her class had made for her. 😥 Birthday tragedy.

#3. Analissa picked a date to get baptized in the middle of April. Not only that, but her parents are getting married. After a literal decade of being together. Their neighbor, Brother Gomez, who was in the lesson with us, was completely dumbstruck when Analissa’s mom sheepishly gave us a glimpse of the ring. He’d known them from the very beginning, & said that seeing this family FINALLY come together was worth sitting in on a million (Well, he’s actually been in over 750 lessons total, we counted.) lessons with missionaries over the years.

We’d given Analissa an illustrated copy of the Book of Mormon & had been bringing it everywhere. At school, at the dinner table, in her bed– made me think of SOMEone else I know… *tries to look at myself* … Also like young Me, she mispronounced every name, HAHA. She randomly interjected as we read from the book with her– she told us, “When I read from this book, I feel angels with me.” From personal experience, I couldn’t agree more.

We finished by playing a song called A Child’s Prayer, & as I began to put my ‘ukulele back into its drawstring bag, Analissa’s mom said, “Could you please play that at her baptism?” I looked up to see her crying. Hah, as a person, I still don’t know QUITE how to react when I’ve made someone cry. I’ve probably said, “sorry” the most– followed by, “I hope those are happy tears!” Of course, this time, we all said, “of course!” So I’m still gonna play a part in a teensy bit more of Analissa’s story! Can’t go back on a promise, can I?

#4. Since the first day in Hunter, we’ve been meeting with a family called the Davids. The husband is currently working, but the plan is actually for his wife to be a phlebotomist (because goodness knows we need more GOOD phlebotomists– look it up), & for HIM to be a stay-at-home dad for his three-year-old boy, which I think is highly admirable. He takes being a dad very seriously, which I think the world needs more of. As we had our last lesson outside on their porch, their toddler began flinging dirt into the wind. It landed on everything & everyone. Despite of the fact that I’m pretty sure the kid had it ALL in his eyes, too, he continued to do it. (Tiny-people’s persistence is amazing.)

Of course, Brother David had to reprimand, which caused a huge hullabaloo. But from the moment we began to sing for them– & even after the final chord, the child was completely silent. He’s apparently a very anti-social toddler right now, & he has a hard time making friends, but as we kept coming over, he even would place his toys on MY lap. I felt so blessed that I got to leave them with a prayer, & ask that they both be blessed for their diligence & honest efforts in being a really, really good parents.

#5. Matt had been struggling to get a job for a long time– then after baptism, he finally found a steady job. His brother, Marcus, has been going through a lot of health issues– primarily concerning his stomach. Which I felt for, deeply. You could say that my bowels were filled with mercy. Or… SOMEthing.

We gave him a blessing. We’ve been asked to give blessings to so many people going through very, very difficult things– deaths in the family, divorce & separation, cancers & seemingly irreparable accidents… & I feel so small, so completely not up to the task– What do I know about any of this stuff, right? & yet, the moment I place my hands on their head, I feel completely calm, & I know God is with them. & me. & us.

I gave Marcus a big hug when I left– I’ve given a lot of people hugs, period. I consider that to be of the utmost importance. Don’t forget to hug people! That makes every day worthwhile.

#6. We were sent a referral for an address that doesn’t exist for a woman that doesn’t exist– which was pretty amazing. We asked the senior-couple missionaries if they knew anyone that sounded even remotely similar in the area. They said no, drove away, then immediately came back & pointed excitedly at a house across the way. When we stopped by, no one was there, but the second time we knocked on the front door, a man came out the back door. His name was Cody. Cody definitely wasn’t the woman we were looking for (?!!), but he had the same last name. But the most confounding thing about the whole experience: he’s in the middle of a very messy custody battle over his son. In the next few weeks, he’ll be having to defend himself over over fabricated charges. He said the only thing that had been keeping him going– & even keeping him from taking his own life– was reading the Book of Mormon every night. We were so grateful that a wrong address for a wrong person had miraculously led us to Cody.

#7. Back in Tooele, I was constantly being chewed on by this dog named Harley. Harley seemed to like pretty much everyone. Just not me. & she must’ve sensed that I was leaving when I walked out of the house for the last time, because this middle-aged lump jumped over everyone else & sank her teeth deep into my tennis shoe. There are actual holes left. In the shoe. & the sock. Yes, Harley bit me. … *voice of a tiny British boy* & that REAL-LY HURT.

So my relationship with puppers has been pretty spotty. Elder Blätter has about the same experience. Elder COCO actually has a pretty severe phobia of dogs.  So it was just delightful when we walked into a house with five human-sized, hyperactive half-dog half-wolves parading around in the living room. I held my hand across Elder Coco the whole time & said, firmly, “Stay away from my companion.” Elder Coco said thank you afterwards. He also said that he almost fainted. :  ) So, even though wolf-dog-people scare me, I guess I can be brave. For Coco.

#8. We walked by a man named Barney, who was working in his yard. We asked him if he needed any help, & he blessed us by letting us weed his garden! I think he was joking, & just wanted to see how far he could take the joke, but we went to TOWN on that mess. Some time into it, Barney said, “Uh, you know I’m not a member of your church, right? Like, I haven’t been a member of your church for decades. I don’t believe it.” & we said, “It doesn’t matter at all! We just want to serve people.” I think he was a little confused by our response, but it made him more honest with us. His wife had recently passed, & he talked about how odd it was to do all this stuff in the garden without her. We asked Barney if he believed he’d see her again, & he said yes. We told him we knew for a fact that he would, & that families really are forever.

#9. We also helped a woman named Bonnie move out of her apartment & into a new one. It was DEFINITELY a three-missionary job. In addition to us, we had Bonnie’s brother-in-law (who would randomly burst out into songs from The Lorax– rad) & one of her nephews (who’s currently trying to get a degree in piano). When we got to the new apartment, we created a daisy chain & passed the boxes along until the entire living room was an honest-to-goodness quadruple-Tetris. Near the end, I had an empty box that I threw way above Elder Blätter’s head– who instinctively caught it like his life depended on it.

Bonnie’s mother had gone to get us take-out for lunch, was completely blown away when we’d finished ten minutes before she’d arrived. As we ate with her, she talked about how her parents had fed the missionaries regularly, & how dinners with them were some of her happiest memories, even though she’d gone away from the church. As we ate on a picnic bench, the elders in this area (which, strangely, included Elder Gee) came by & introduced themselves. She asked them if they could start meeting with her.

We left with a song, & Bonnie’s brother was so moved that he immediately took us next-door– to HIS grandmother’s (Small world!) & had us play for her. He was so excited, as he said, “It’ll make her day, she LOVES music!”

As I was making my last rounds around Hunter, a woman called out to us & asked if I was the missionary with the ‘ukulele. I looked at my ‘ukulele over my left shoulder, & I was pretty sure I was the missionary with the ‘ukulele. She said that she was one of Bonnie’s sisters, & that everyone we’d been with that day had been talking all about our trio, & how deeply grateful they were for the sincerity & concern we’d shown them all, as we talked & worked together.

I love these ripples, don’t you?

#10. As a final blab on this blob, there’s this wonderful man we’d started to meet with named Jim. He’s a martial arts master. He’s a rocker. He’s a giver. He’s happily married right now to a wonderful Vietnamese woman, but he expressed to us about how he felt like so much anger & sadness had stuck with him through his last three divorces. In one case, the woman he married had two daughters whom he cared for deeply. He did all he could to provide for them, & be a loving father-figure for them. But after they could get along fine by themselves, they all left him. He hasn’t heard for any of them since. & yet, he still felt responsible for them– still worried sick– still betrayed– & he just wanted to know how to feel okay again.

Once again, this is totally beyond my personal experiences. I feel totally unqualified to speak of such things. & yet, I felt so prompted to share from personal experience how my best friend, Lottie, basically saved me from making MYSELF sick. After my last relationship, I felt so responsible for everything that went wrong, & I literally felt like throwing up every day. Lottie, however, fought for me, while I was busy fighting against myself. She told me, “You’re hurting yourself– you don’t need to take this on all by yourself. Even if you want to help, you need to take care of yourself, too.” I shared that with him– of the tiny steps I took to become healthy & whole again, with Lottie’s help. It was my repentance– it was my change of heart– that has helped me to be strong enough to reach out to other people. But, though all I wanted to do was give, I had to give myself some patience & kindness first.

&, though I felt completely ridiculous sharing this with Jim, I realized that, instead of boredom or confusion on his face, he was genuinely concerned about my tiny little life story.

It all added up to remind me of how far I’ve come, with your help. I’m so grateful to all of you, for helping me to get this far. For helping me to be strong enough, for the first time in my tiny little life. Thank you, more than I can say.

Well, that right there was Hunter. 8D A LOT of Hunter. Enjoy a smattering of Grantsville-related attachments, with absolutely zero context!

You are great, you are awesome,

sKye (eLder sOnomura)

*IMAGE ATTACHMENT 1, CLICK HERE*

*IMAGE ATTACHMENT 2, CLICK HERE*

*IMAGE ATTACHMENT 3, CLICK HERE*

*VIDEO ATTACHMENT 1, CLICK HERE*

*VIDEO ATTACHMENT 2, CLICK HERE*

*IMAGE ATTACHMENT 4, CLICK HERE*

24
Apr
17

elderSkyeSonomura_operationValidation_massemail.part018

(OPENING DISCLAIMER: If you’d like to read why I’m out here, here’s a talk I gave before I left: https://webloomsage.wordpress.com/2016/10/30/my-farewell-talk/ If at any point you’d like to stop receiving these lil’ e-mails or if you know someone who isn’t on the list and wants to be, I will add & take away as requested. :  ) I know that not everyone here is religious, & I’ll do all I can to put disclaimers for anything like that. Trying my best here!)

 
The entire e-mail just deleted itself, yoiks! I, uh, I guess that means I just need to send the attachments & wait another week. Quite a lot of hubbub here. No longer in my delightsome trio– which threw us outta the Groove™, since we were just settling into another six weeks together! I have been plopped off in Granger like some transient black-and-white knapsack, the recipient of which was a rad man named Elder Forsyth. I found out about these arrangements after dinner on Tuesday (6pm), & was out on the road by lunch on Wednesday (2pm). Doesn’t quite rival my daddio’s literal EVENING he had to vamoose on his mission, though.
But hey, no one expected Elder Coco to arrive in our area– it even seemed farfetched. But it was too clear from the get-go to see we all needed him. So I will call this the Elder Coco of mission transfers & keep straggling onwarrd. I’m just personally glad I try my best, even whilst going nuts, to be conscious & acknowledging of the blessing of a Day– & even when it seems rather silly, to do the things I’m inspired to do for others. When something like this happens, it’s nice to realize there’s nothing really left to do but sit back, smile, & see everyone’s amazing stories unfold. But that’s for next time– along with explaining why this is definitely not Wednesday. I will talk about Wednesday. On Monday. Like it was meant to be.
Attached is a balsa wood Master Sword by the Farnworth fambly, in honour of Breath of the Wild, a beautiful stained glass window by WHO knows, a nice view from our trio’s last morning, Josie’s baptism– which was happening literally right across the hall from Trinitie’s, three sequential pictures (please reply & tell me which one’s the funniest, this is very important to know.), some fun nachos I put together out of every thing, my new companion, your standard group candids, & a rare glimpse outside of the Mad Lab. (We never had a chance to go inside– I HAVE A MIGHTY NEED TO– but apparently, the owner installed the two metal spheres on-top for when the mothership comes back for him.)
… I’m waiting for GMail to delete this e-mail.
… :  )… Goodnight, everybody!
You are great, you are awesome,
sKye (eLder sOnomura)
24
Apr
17

elderSkyeSonomura_operationValidation_massemail.part017

(OPENING DISCLAIMER: If you’d like to read why I’m out here, here’s a talk I gave before I left: https://webloomsage.wordpress.com/2016/10/30/my-farewell-talk/ If at any point you’d like to stop receiving these lil’ e-mails or if you know someone who isn’t on the list and wants to be, I will add & take away as requested. :  ) I know that not everyone here is religious, & I’ll do all I can to put disclaimers for anything like that. Trying my best here!)

 
When I went up to the mailbox this week & saw a package addressed to me, I felt such great rapture.
 
My broken tablet, could it be?
I felt to sing the Song of Redeeming Warranty.
But alas, this Song was not to be.
Within its contents was a… CD?!
Long story made short-er-ish– a little while ago, I was sharing a very obscure religious musical that I ADORE called Charly: A Love Song. (Thanks entirely to my dad for keeping it in pristine condition from when he was my age!) I got sued by the original publishers, even though it hadn’t been available anywhere for decades. So I took it off the Internet.
A couple years later, I get another e-mail saying that the rights had been bought from the publishers, so they could put on the musical. But… the original publishers had lost the recording & the sheet music. A long time ago. Meaning they were suing me for somthing they didn’t even have. They asked if they could buy the recording & sheet music off me. Then they put on the musical, here in Utah! & then they promised to send me a free copy of the CD once it was republished.

… & they did that! On my mission, no less! Makes for a nice conversation piece.

If I were to talk to anyone about this odd little debacle, I think it’d become pretty clear what kind of person I am, in & out of my mission. Plus, there’s so many lyrics in the show that really apply to the Here & Now: “Love is the heart of it, waste any part of it, & the world passes you by. Don’t ask for how long or why, just celebrate Life.

 In my family, we like to celebrate March Forth. & no, I didn’t misspell that. It was pretty hilarious– in our goals on the white board back in my last area, I wrote that I wanted to finish reading the Book of Mormon again by March Forth. At which point, Elder Gee took a pen while I wasn’t looking and added in a U. & I started laughing & said, “No, Elder Gee– not March Fourth, March FORTH. Like, you’re MARCHING FORTH. You try to accomplish cool stuff on March Forth.” What can I say, things like that make me happy. Everyone here knows what The Book of Mormon is, right? If you don’t, let’s just say it’s one of my favorite books.

Warning: talking about religion!
So I know it pretty well– & so, when I heard we’d have study time every morning here, I immediately thought I’d dive right into unexplored territory & really expand my intellectual horizons. Then, just as I was about to start on this endeavour, I got a really strong prompting that basically went, “Read the Book of Mormon.” & I was kind of disappointed, I thought back, “What? Again?” The prompting came, “Yes. Again.” To which I thought, “Aww, but there so much else I could be reading that I haven’t yet. Why?” The feeling I got back said, “You need it. Right now.”
Spoiler alert: That was right. I REALLY needed it, in-fact. My family showed me of the blessings of reading from the Book of Mormon very early in life– how it can answer questions & concerns & give added strength & comfort like nobody’s business, when combined with sincere prayer. &… I need a whole lot of ALL of that, ALL the time. I was able to finish the book again by March Forth, with my two cheerleaders, Elder Blätter & Elder Coco. (“RA RA SIS BOO BAH BOOM– LET’S GO READ A BUNCH OF BOOKS!”) & that same feeling that has come every time I’ve read it came flooding back so strongly. Fun little tidbit: near the end, the book happens to say “march forth” a considerable amount. So it felt like the book was cheering back at me, hahaha. Even though I’ve already felt so before, I felt like praying & asking my Heavenly Father if it were true again. So I did– & the feeling I got completely filled me from head-to-toe. :  )
One of the young men I met with recently, Masio, talked about how he’d prayed many times before, but had never received an answer of the truth of it all– if there were really a Heavenly Father out there who loves & knows him. He said that finally, he realized that he had already pre-decided, every time, that it wasn’t true. He’d been asking, but he’d never meant it. When it finally come down to it, Masio said he didn’t just ASK Heavenly Father to know the truth– he PLED with him. Which I could really relate to. To know of the truth of anything, let alone “all things” is a blessing beyond any other, one that we’re desperate for in a world that is often obscured in a thick mist. After he truly, sincerely bore his heart– that peace & joy came to him. He knew it was true.
In a baptism we had recently, a really wonderful talk was given about The Holy Ghost, & what it is. It’s now my second favorite talk on it of all-time– the most favoritest being my dad’s, of course, given at my cousin’s baptism. I actually quoted an awful lot of his talk when I was in charge of being one of those Online Representatives for the church’s website. What I didn’t know until the end was that I’d been talking with a member of the church who’d been researching to GIVE a talk on The Holy Ghost. & so my dad’s legacy spreads.
But this talk was given by a cryogenist.
I just wanted to say that. I think that’s a cool job.
He held up a picture of one of the Ghosts from Pac-Man (to which I quietly mumbled, “wokka-wokka-wokka”), & mentioned how he thought that the Ghosts had always gotten a bum rep. After all, Pac-Man was the one going haywire, running around town, stealing all those pellets & eating everything in sight. The ghosts were just trying to get him back on the right track, but he just kept ignoring them. He said, similarly, The Holy Ghost is a feeling– not something you can see– that helps you (not forces you) to know right from wrong, & guides you & comforts you. & this feeling can be with all of us. He asked if everyone had felt the light of the sun today– & he said that in a very similar way The Holy Ghost can be with all of us at once, & help us feel that light.
He then went into an absolutely brilliant extended metaphor about bowling– & how, when we’re little, we use those funny little guides that helps our ball to knock down all 10 pins easily. (He also mentioned, “Did you know there are 10 pins, &… 10 commandments?” To which I dramatically gasped.) As younguns, we are given help from our parents, & the “fouls” in our lives don’t count, because we can’t really do things for ourselves. But later in life, we have to knock them down ourselves, which can be tough. But the Holy Ghost is like the ramps that can be placed, to help keep you out of the gutter– so we can be guided to do Good. &, of course, none of us are perfect, but in the end, after all we can do, Heavenly Father & Jesus Christ are like the bar at the end of the set that resets it all, so we can start over fresh.
He spoke of how, in the past few months, he’d gone through a period of severe loneliness, in the midst of a terrible sickness he had. & he talked about how, as he prayed in his hospital bed, he felt comfort– he felt an alleviation of that darkness. He said that he knew, without a doubt, that that was The Holy Ghost in his life.
Done now, thanks for your understanding!
I baptized someone! With very little time to mentally prepare for the task! One of the 8-year-olds we’ve been teaching, Trinitie (who is an expert hoverboard rider, & perseverant essay writer), had originally planned on having her uncle baptize her, but he couldn’t make it. Before I even had a chance to register what that meant, she pointed at me & said, “You should baptize me!” Her older sister said, “I KNEW you’d pick him.” Before I could chicken out, I made my mouth say, “If you want me to, I definitely will. We’d do anything to make your day be as perfect as possible for you, Trinitie.”
Whoof, I’d only baptized one person before, & it was Nova! You want to do your very best for someone else, but that just makes you more nervous, & then you mess up, eep! When we stepped into the water, Trinitie stumbled a little. Just a little, but it was enough to make me catch her & whisper, “Are you okay, Trinitie? I am SO sorry.” In my mind, I’m shrieking, “WHYDIDN’TIWALKHERDOWN&HOLDHERARM, THISHASTOBEPERFECTNOOOO–” When we’re in place, I look at her. She looked so determined, so concentrated. I asked her quietly, “Are you ready?” She nodded, still not breaking her concentration. Then I plugged her nose– put her under, &… her foot stuck out. When I lifted her out, there was a brief intercession of confusion, then I said, “Trinitie, we didn’t get you all the way into the water, we’ve got to do it one more time.”
She immediately gets back into place, I say the blessing, I hold my breath along with her, I place my foot to keep hers down, &– it works this time. I tell her what a great job she did, then walk out, & immediately ask Elder Coco if I said all the words right. He says yes. I ask him the same question. He says yes again.
I start pacing.
When we both are reseated, I tell Trinitie, “Sorry you had to be put under the water twice.” Trinitie’s mom interjects, “No, Mom had to do it twice, too.” I look up at her, confused– her eyes are brimming with happy tears. She repeats, “My foot popped out, too.” Me: “Oh.” Now my eyes are brimming, too. *cracks up* Heavenly Father was able to turn my mistake into a happy, funny memory. Thank you, Heavenly Father!
We’ve started meeting with this man named Lanny Irwin– he’s an ex-communicated member of the church, & has been for quite some time. He said, “It was completely amicable– they were very nice, I just didn’t want to do the church thing.” But he’s really wanted us to come over & talk with him. He’s opened up a lot about how his son has been a little wayward, how his grandson survived leukemia… (His grandson’s favorite scripture is 2 Nephi 32:3.) One Sunday, we call him as ask to set up another visit, & he says he probably doesn’t have time to visit with us that night. We say that’s totally fine, & start to reschedule. He says, “Are you sure? Are you absolutely sure that’s alright? Will that be okay?” After this sort of questioning goes on for another five minutes, I laugh & say, “Of course, Brother Irwin. You’re absolutely fine, your conscience is clear.”
Over the phone, he starts to cry & says, “Okay, because I’ve just been feeling really guilty, because my daughter invited me to church, & I didn’t go, & I feel awful about it. & I’ve been fasting for the past two meals because I just heard one of my friends is going into chemotherapy, & I’m very hungry– do you think it’d be alright if I stop & have a snack now?” I was pretty blown away, & told him of course, & that his friend would definitely be blessed, & that going to church is just to help people be closer to their Heavenly Father. I told him to take care of himself.
One of the first times we came in, he’d just been watching one of his favourite shows, MacGyver. That stuck with me, & so I decided to draw him a little picture– of if he were an action hero. I gave it to him at our next meeting. I told him, during the lesson, that whenever we came into his house, we could all feel how strongly Heavenly Father loved him, & just wanted him to know it. & after the lesson, we asked him if he’d be fine giving the closing prayer. He said he would, & proceeded to make me blubber.
“Our Dear Heavenly Father, we thank you that your healing hands are upon us this day. Thank you that, even though I’ve decided to go another way, that I can reach out & still know that you’re there whenever. I thank you for these missionaries. I love them, & I know their love for me is sincere, just as your love is. I know this church is true, & I know they know this church is true. In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.”
As a final quote, a man we were visiting with named Erick belonged to a staunch Catholic family. His grandfather has been a preacher for as long as anyone can remember. At the time, he hadn’t told anyone except his OTHER set of grandparents– who ARE members– that he really wanted to be a member of this church. During the lesson, he even ignored the call from his mother. Since this lesson, he’s told her, though! Gotta tell Mom these sorts of things. We asked him, “What made you want to meet with us?” He talked about how he’d never cared about religion at all for the longest time– he just wanted to ignore it. Then, when his son was born, he immediately knew he needed to do better, for his boy, & for his family.
He said, “The feeling I get, when I’m with you two? I don’t want to turn my back on it.”
To which I responded, “Neither do we. Every day, we are blessed by Heavenly Father to meet amazing people like you, & we don’t want to turn our backs on it. Ever.”
& that’s what it’s all about!
Another attach-athon today– first is of a house that was prepped for Frog Day, which is apparently a holiday. They were very serious about it. Then there’s a video of us three singing I Feel My Savior’s Love at Brother Gomez’s house. Then there’s some screenshots of our SKYPE VISIT with Linh Thai, who’s in California with his family for the month! His kids played the violin & clarinet for us, yee-uh. After that is the drawing for Brother Irwin, the CD that I made exist, the most beautiful tree, & the most beautifulest Trinitie! Finally, we’ve got a whole bunch of clips pertaining to my performance at a ward’s talent show. I play a version of I Am A Child of God in the last clip. Whoof.
You are great, you are awesome,
sKye (eLder sOnomura)
24
Apr
17

elderSkyeSonomura_operationValidation_massemail.part016

(OPENING DISCLAIMER: If you’d like to read why I’m out here, here’s a talk I gave before I left: https://webloomsage.wordpress.com/2016/10/30/my-farewell-talk/ If at any point you’d like to stop receiving these lil’ e-mails or if you know someone who isn’t on the list and wants to be, I will add & take away as requested. :  ) I know that not everyone here is religious, & I’ll do all I can to put disclaimers for anything like that. Trying my best here!)

 
Ho boy-oh, not only does my lack of a tablet impede my writing time, but just as I was attaching files, the entirety of my mass-mail disappeared! My family is part of the Kingdom of Unexplained Technical Difficulties. I digress– with a little faith, trust, & expedited shipping, next week will be chock-ful of much-needed replies. I digress! Onto the mail.
 
So, I’m with TWO companions currently. Which is ridiculously rare, if that wasn’t clear. Elde–…
 
Er, wait… … in my rush to write this, I accidentally started writing the FIRST e-mail I sent over. My apologies. Let’s start over.
So, I’m with TWO companions currently.
For the SECOND time. Which is as rare as all get-out. When we got the call from our Zone Leaders, they prefaced it by jokingly proclaiming that Elder Blätter was going home this week, so the whole thing seemed sketchy. A lot of monotone “uh-huh”s were exchanged. But when we received a new bed, the whole joke seemed to have gotten pretty out of hand. & now they brought in someone from the Philippines, & he’s living with us!! What gives, when does this joke end?!
But WOW, Elder Coco is humbling to be companions with. He’s the first in his family to be a missionary, he’s a plane mechanic by trade, & he has a beautiful testimony. He calls everyone “Brother” & “Sister” with such tenderness & sincerity that you really do feel that he treats everyone like family. His prayers  are perfect– I love how he often says, “shower more blessings” & “let this family’s house be filled with peace & joy & love at all times”.
Also, he’s getting a pretty similar experience to myself! This first week, he got rice THREE nights in a row from families that had no clue that he needed it for a taste of Home. Thank you, Heavenly Father, for that tender mercy! Food is important! Not only that, but the fact he’s with ME means I had a pot cooking for him in the wings when he arrived. His funny little surprised smile, followed by, “You like rice, Elder?” totally made my day. Reminded me of the first question my dad was posed once by a new companion: “Do you like chicken?”
& Heavenly Father is giving me a chance to pay forward all the amazing kindnesses I received when I first arrived in winter. Elder Coco didn’t arrive with all necessities for one that isn’t a Snow Meister. But, somehow– & to be honest, I don’t remember all the details– I’ve ended up with extra thermals, extra gloves, & extra scarfs. So I was able to gift them all to a very shocked Elder Coco. When he asked where I got them all from, I tried to remember where it all came from, then gave up & said, “Heavenly Father gave me extra so I could share with you.”
Which is true. Moving on!
I got super sick yesterday, but it’s already gotten a little better. Tha– …
… No, that can’t be right, that’s from the first e-mail, too.
I guess time’s repeating itself! Ah, well.
This time over, as is the case with time travel, I was far more prepared. I pulled out all the stops– apple cider vinegar with baking soda, hydrogen peroxide in my ears, salt water gargling, & a very large bowl of microwaved apple slices covered in Grape-Nuts & fiberous fruit. I DARE you to imagine anything healthier. & the common denominator of all of these things is that I know to do them because of my magnificent Captain mOm! 8D Yes, she has taught me rightly. These added efforts have caused me to merely have to hock up a nugie or two every now & then. It is great. I feel like a new … … elder. (Is that an oxymoron? To be new & an elder?…)
We’ve been given opportunities for service recently, which I love! We cleaned a yard of leaves that probably hadn’t been looked over in the past half-decade, then unhooked the Christmas lights. One of the reasons we need companions: to anchor rickety folding ladders that probably should’ve been retired in the 80s. Made me think fondly of some mango-picking escapades at Gramma’s! Someone finally said yes to us taking in their groceries for us! I was so stunned, it took my brain three more “yes”s to comprehend it. I’ve never been so thrilled to carry plastic bags of produce. I highly suggest it! The younger children of this Hispanic family kept softly puzzling over us, saying to each other, “Mormones?” To which I responded, “Si, Mormones. Jesuchristo.”
Perhaps the most interesting bit of service happened on Sunday. Elder Blätter noticed a man struggling to hitch up a trailer to the back of his truck, & asked if we could do anything to help. At first, he declined, then began to list off everything he had to get done before the storm rolled in… then immediately reconsidered, got us each a pair of work gloves, & squeezed us in his “cozy” truck.
Only five minutes into the drive, the car overheated, & we pulled over in a tizzy. As we assessed the mess we were in, who should show up but THE MISSIONARIES. (I know!! Who are they?!) They told us, kind of amused, that we had somehow pulled up right in-front of a Hispanic bishop’s house. The wife immediately poked her head out & asked what she could do to help. To which we responded, “Agua!!” She rushed in, got two huge pitchers, which the other elders hustled over, & the engine guzzled them up then asked for seconds. Because it was apparently empty. Good thing the car didn’t explode or sum’fin, huh?
After this unexpected bout of service, we headed off to our intended destination. Lemme tell ya, I kept asking myself, “What part of this was a good idea?” The man was going to tear down a medium-sized shed for scrap parts, ALL BY HIMSELF, in ONE night. No go!! But with three other hands at his disposal, we were able to hold the rickety, warping structure in place, drill & unscrew, lift heavy window frames & lumber, & take sledgehammers to the ceiling before the winds knocked the whole mess over.
As we finished, the man said, “You know, I don’t know what I would’ve done if you three hadn’t have shown up.”
Small thoughtful silence, then: “Probably would’ve died.”
I said, “Happy to help– We’d hate to have seen your name in the newspaper!”
He responded with, “Man too stupid to ask for help flattened underneath falling lumber. Now, what’s the moral of the story, children?”
So, we got to save a man’s life on the Sabbath! Hooray!!
To conclude, the musical aspect of all of this has been just sublime since Elder Coco showed up– if you can believe it, his mother teached ‘ukulele classes back in the Philippines! We didn’t even have any time to prep him on how we close with a song, & he jumped right into it with joy– & it was PERFECT. Companionship harmony!
We actually have videographic/audio… graphic evidence of the debut of Elder Coco, so I shall attach such with a smattering of un/related tomfoolery.
You are great, you are awesome,
sKye (eLder sOnomura)