07
Jul
17

elderSkyeSonomura_operationValidation_massemail.part031

(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!)

 
Before I expound upon the theatrical terrificness, let me give this just a bit more context: We weren’t going to have time to go to Pirates of Penzance. We didn’t figure out about its one-week showing before we scheduled a Family Home Evening with a family that specializes in giving people large quantities of varied meat. Which was important, of course! All of a sudden, only two hours before Monday’s performance, we got a text from the wife that they’d completely spaced & would have to reschedule. (Ahhh, anyone reading getting nostalgia for their missions?) Elder Forsyth was pretty furious, at first, & wasn’t particularly interested in Pirates… primarily because there WAS a fee. I promised I’d pay for us both, because I thought it was important that we support Adrian. He accepted this arrangement, & <insert the amazing intervention by a ticket agent from last mass-mail>… I popped some popcorn, grabbed some arare (a must-have addition in Hawai’i), then we gallantly galloped to the Old Grantsville Church with great haste, in our mighty chrome steed.
 
It was the greatest performance of With Cat-Like Tread I’ve ever seen. & YES, Adrian was part of it– he was both a pirate & a policeman. Best of both worlds. Chaotic lawful & chaotic neutral. (Let you decide which was which.) Adrian was a serious Dick Van Dyke-type, with his graceful pratfalls & effortless charm. As I perused the show program during the intermission, the producer’s name sounded strangely familiar. There was a fleeting glimmer of one of the last memories I had of being in the Palmer’s house before the move– a yearbook photo-like portrait of an elder right behind a new TV. I remember asking the Palmer girls about it as we waited for their mom to emerge from the basement. They said excitedly, “That’s Bubba! Uncle Bubba! Yeah, he served a mission! He stopped by to say hi, & he gave us a TV!”
So, the producer of this play was Bubba Palmer. I thought, “Well… how many Bubba Palmers in Grantsville can there be? Eleven, maybe? Those are some good odds.”
I asked the soundboard technicians (who we were practically sitting with) if there was a Bubba in the house tonight. (Using those words, hahaha. “Does there happen to be a Bubba in the howwwse too-naight?“) We were led out the back of the auditorium, back around to the front entrance. The technician came up to a man selling $1 water bottles & candy bars, saying, “Hey, we’ve got two gentlemen that wanna teach you a couple lessons!” The vendor laughed & said, “It’s about time they found me.” Bubba shook our hands, & asked how we were enjoying the show. In the past act, both I & Elder Forsyth had come to see this show as an absolutely moving display of the power of community. Out here in Grantsville, there’s so many interesting people, but not an awful lot of things holding them all together. Apparently, Bubba had started this up himself. Directly after his mission, he felt like it was time to bring some of the Arts out here into the desert. You could really tell that everyone in this production was having the time of their lives telling a story & being big kids. (I mean, halfway through, we noticed that one of the pirates was secretly our Ward Mission Leader. The one whose son I sang “happy birthday” for. He’s one of the most timid, unassuming men I’ve ever met. & there he was. A pirate. The magic of community theatre.) I made sure to tell Bubba that the joy of this was totally infectious.
Then I asked about Kaitlyn, Kalissa, Kimber, & Kory. I was right– they were his nieces. He smiled & pulled out his phone, “Yeah… they’re my special girls.” He pulled up a picture of Kalissa in full-on Who geddup, from last year’s performance of Seussical. Apparently, Kalissa is a pro at walking on her hands, which made her a shoe-in to represent such a wubbulous world. Two months from now, Kalissa, Kimber & Kory will all be part of the chorus in Joseph & The Technicolor Dreamcoat. Kaitlyn apparently doesn’t do so well in public situations. (But we HAD recently heard her quietly sing along with us as we sang, “My life is a gift. My life has a plan. My life has a purpose, in Heaven it began.” So it’s definitely not a question of talent!) So just when we (I, you) thought this whole Palmer debacle couldn’t possibly get more interesting, we find out that the Palmer family is a regular family Von Trapp! Which explains in retrospective why Kory & Kimber have always been literally bursting in anticipation for me to play the ‘ukulele every time we stop by. “Can you play it?! Again!?!”
As we re-entered the auditorium, an old married couple chatted us up. Not only were they currently serving a mission together here… but their son is ANOTHER one of our Ward Mission Leaders! (& another one of their sons worked in the same child-care facility that I went to for my yearly check-up last week! … yeah, it was child-care. I am a child of God.) I’ve also forgotten to mention that the entire audience was pointing us out to their children, excitedly. “Look, it’s the missionaries!” Ahhh… see? Simply being visible, instead of being in a car all day– it makes a real difference! Who knew that attending a quaint local performance (which I had no clue would be so well-attended… both in quantity quality) would turn into such a get-to-know-you affair?
During the second act, when all wrongs are righted in five minutes– in a short but intense fight sequence, a pledge of loyalty to the English monarchy, a massive wedding dance (with every pirate & policeperson participating), & a life-affirming aria (if only problems could be resolved so simply, no?)– there was actually one last obstacle in the way of our tight-knit cast’s Happily Ever After… the circuit breaker. I don’t think that I can properly do the cast’s perseverance justice– just watch “adriancamfinale” below– yes– I actually did catch such a Once-in-a-Lifetime moment on film. Now that was some serious “show-must-go-on”-ing in action.
As we exited after this literally show-stopping show-stopper, the cast actually lined up directly outside the doorway, leading all the way out to the parking lot. It was amazing to hear each of the castmembers actually personally thank US for being there. One of them told us, “That’s how you know your play has REALLY succeeded: if the missionaries show up.” Adrian gestured emphatically towards us as we approached & told his fellow policemen, “See these finely dressed gentlemen? These right here are my biggest fans.” & that we are. The Pirate King, at the very end of the line, was the sweetest of all (aren’t all pirate kings really the most soft-hearted?)… he said that the moment he heard we were there, he felt a surge of inspiration, & felt a need to up the ante & really make this a special performance for us all. He was completely drenched with sweat– you could tell he’d put his all into this. Everyone had. There’s something that local theatre in intimate venues has that big performances never will have. You almost start to feel like family by the end of the show. I suppose that’s how I feel about the small meetings we have with people every day. They are unforgettable interactions.
There’s been quite a bit of fixing going on this week. We ate dinner with a family called the Rusts not too long ago, & it so turned out that Brother Rust was highly sympathetic to the alien in my stomach. He’s had a rather rough & extended case of Crohn’s in his life. Apparently, he was told he was wouldn’t live past his thirties when he was first diagnosed. He’s such a medical enigma that he & his daughter are being thoroughly studied in a medical journal. (& they get paid for it! … That must be an odd thing. It means you’re special, but… broken…) He actually asked me to close my eyes, hold certain foods on a plate, then asked me whether I had a natural inclination to tip forward or backward with each. He must be pretty in-tune with this sort of stuff, because I wasn’t quite sure whether I was tipping at all. Maybe I’m always tipping. As we left, he even showed me how, in his line of construction work, he uses a technique to figure out where the pipes are underground by holding two bent metal rods loosely. As he passes over them, they, of their own free will, turn inward. It never worked for me. I guess I just need to find my own way about all of this. But hearing a lil’ similar life experience put me much at ease.
 
Another family that looked out for me this week was the Hufftys, one of our beloved senior couple missionaries. Sister Huffty’s allergic to almost everything except Indian food, & brought up that one thing that had really given her a lot of relief was this probiotic yogurt-y drink called milk kefir. So turns out that both me & Elder Forsyth really get a kick out of this delightfully obscure health food. (I wasn’t expecting Elder Forsyth to be quite as psyched as I was… but, hey, I guess that’s what happens when your dad is a renowned physical therapist?) Slowly but surely, I’m, at the very least, making friends with uninvited guest in my tum-tum.
Before I move on, on the subject of foods, I have to say that certain lil’ snacky-doodles have really kept my morale from going too low. For example, eating oatmeal with cinnamon & mixed nuts immediately makes me feel like I’m close to my fambly back home. & if you can believe it, I’ve kept a batch of my grandma’s cookies in reserve for the past six months. Slowly rationing them out about two a month, & I have finally reached the last cherished chunk-a-crunch. One of my favorite superheroes once pulled out one of her little sister’s homemade cookies in a dire battle, & received strength from the love that was in them. Even beyond foods (foods are so important!), there are certain things or events that happen that are just full of that love I need to get up & fight the good fight again.
 
The Hufftys saw that the soles of my shoes were putting on a puppet show as I walked. They practically yanked them off my feet & demanded they glue them. I didn’t know at the time, but they’d never even done it before. They said that when they let the glue sit for a night, they came back & there was a frothy foam effervescing from my footwear. They cleaned it off with the utmost of care, brought it back to me a little bashfully, I slipped them on, &… felt some serious joy. :  ) Comfortable shoes is kind of an oxymoron to me, so this specific pair has been rather near & dear to me. Getting to continue my relationship with these two fills my soul… & my soles… with love.
For the past three months, my magickal Mary Poppins bag has had a rather sizable tear in it. It hasn’t interfered with its functionality, but it’s been a bit of a sad thing for me. I mean, you have no clue how tough this beast-of-a-bag is! It snagged on the seat-position adjustment lever in our car as I tried to get out quickly, & that was that. I just figured I’d have to deal with this bag battle-scar for the rest of the mission. Then, when we ate with yet another one of our Ward Mission Leaders, Brother Martinson, after sharing a song (Brother Martinson was born in Hawai’i, so his entire family has a penchant for being musical– bringin’ that Family Von Trapp life back again!), Sister Martinson looked down at the open wound in my bag, & asked how much time we had before our next appointment. Before I said another word, she’d already pulled out the full sewing kit. In record time, she got through all three layers of denim. I’d take pictures of my shoes & bag in their current remedied state, but… uh, they look like they’ve never been broken. So they’d just look like a normal pair of shoes & a normal [LEVIATHAN OF A] bag. But they are anything but to me. Every time I look at them, I can’t help but smile. :  ) & smiles-on-demand are always welcome.
 
Well, coming to a close, guess I better end this with a…
Warning: talking about religion!
 
Brother Martinson went out for an hour with us to help us reach more people. We met a former circus freak who specialized in eating lightbulbs & sprinting on all fours. As we walked off, Brother Martinson cheerily remarked, “Isn’t it just wonderful how God makes all of his children so unique?” We met a lady named Barbie, whose daughter was holding a much smaller, much more rubbery Barbie. :  ) But her mom’s the real deal. As we ended for the night, Brother Martinson said that one of the perks of coming out with him was getting a big ol’ ice cream cone at Two Scoop Tuesday. As I waited for my raspberry cheesecake & raspberry dark-chocolate scoops, a family in line with me ordered a whole slew of random, intriguing flavors. The dad laughingly noted that they’d probably taste bizarre together. I said, “Hey, you gotta commit to it. You gotta go for something a little different.” He enthusiastically responded, “That’s exactly what I think, man! There’s a million other choices no one ever even tries!” The look of child-like bliss on his face as bit into the cone made me say, “It’s the little things in life, isn’t it?” He tossed his head serenely, & said, “That’s the truth.”
He started to sing along to the music over the radio, which was Lilo & Stitch, which immediately got us talking about my Hawaiian home. Crazily enough, this family had come from Florida for the summer, & had participated recently in a sort of pen-pal postcard correspondence with a family from my island. They pulled out a familiar (to me, at least) sea-side Snapchat with someone holding up the father’s name in magic marker on a piece of paper. His name was John!
We shared a song with the family as they waited for the rest of their ice cream, & John let it slip that he had no clue what a missionary even was. I sort of explained it in brief– we teach people about God, & I just happen to be a little different & use music to help. They left, & I thought that’d be it.
Then, as I exited, they were still in the parking lot. John actually approached me, & told me, “Hey– you have a great day.” I suddenly felt strongly that I needed to talk just a little more with John. I hastily placed my cone in the side of the car door (there were no cup-holders), & walked up to John & said, “Hey, not to be too pushy, but would you be interested in having any lessons from missionaries like me?” John said, “Hey, sure. Why don’t you give me your number? Do you have a card or something?” I grabbed a little pamphlet (missionaries are always overflowing with pamphlets) about eternal families, & scribbled it on the front. As I did so, John asked, “So, if you don’t mind me asking, are you Christian or something?” I nodded, “Yes– we believe in Jesus Christ.” John looked relieved, continuing, “So, being Christian, how do you feel about this whole MORMON thing?” I laughed & said sheepishly, “Uh… well, we ARE Mormons.” John was shocked, & pressed more, “Then who’s this Joseph Smith I keep hearing about?” As I riffled through my bag one last time, I said as simply as I could think, “He was a prophet called of God– just like all the other ones in the Bible, like Moses & Abraham… Joseph Smith taught all about Jesus Christ. He’s no replacement for Jesus at all.”
 
John thought about it, & nodded, looking at me again. He said, “Ahh, I had no clue you Mormons believe in Jesus. Crazy! Have a great day!”
I said, “You, too! Hope your family has an awesome vacation,” then pulled my cone out from its haphazard hiding place in the car door. Brother Martinson told me, “Guess you had to earn that cone first. How does it taste?” I said, “Well, it’s obviously better now.”
 
Done, thank you for your understanding!
 
So… this has been crazy! & have a great day!
 
You are great, you are awesome,
sKye (eLder sOnomura)
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