Archive for the 'operationValidation' Category

02
Jan
18

elderSkyeSonomura_operationValidation_massemail.part059

(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!)

 
POINT 3/3: ALL THINGS HAVE BECOME NEW
MMM, I had no clue my companion wanted to go sledding today! I do not think I want to sled. In snow. I like sledding on hills in the summertime, or perhaps when it rains, but… yes, I just sat on a sled made by Samoans (that looks like it’s from the mid-70s) & ate out of a box of Raisin Bran™, & felt very underdressed. I was doing well, all things considering, until I headed back to the car, slipped in the snow, & my Raisin Bran™ box went soaring through the air. You’ll be relieved to know that the Raisin Bran™ is ALL RIGHT. The Raisin Bran™ is ALL. RIGHT. My hand landed in the slush, & I felt like my digits were actually falling off. Like, I was fairly certain that I’d heard my pointer finger begin to chip off.
But they are okay. More worried about the Raisin Bran™, though.
Some last things to interject: one of the funniest things that people have said about me & my companion was said by a little girl named Nola. (She spelled it out when said it: “My name is NOLA. N-O-L-A.”) After we’d talked for a while, she turned to me & pointed & said, “You’re funny.” Then he pointed to, at the time, Elder Bailey. “You’re normal.” We both started laughing hysterically. Nola then proceeded to ask if Elder Bailey could “flip a coin & land it on [his] nose.” Apparently, that’s what it takes to match up to my oddity.
I forgot to mention in my incredibly lengthy baptism story that… To’a, Naisa & Salesi disappeared for WEEKS, on an impromptu vacation (but we didn’t know that yet). They’d left the lights on in the house, for some reason, like… the ENTIRE time, so we thought they were home & were avoiding us. One time, they called us (Really, one of the LITTLE LITTLE grandkids had stolen & hidden the phone & was calling everyone.) & hung up, then never answered again. We were worried for a while. One time, I brought by a huge bag of M&Ms & gave it to a neighbor kid who knew them, & asked him to give it to them when they got back.
… they never got the M&Ms. It was a BIG bag, too. Greedy buggah.
Last point in this catch-up game: I ended the year with broken shoes, broken glasses, a broken tablet, a broken keyboard, a broken camera… & now, on this, all of these things are fixed. :  ) (Thank you, Heavenly Father, & thank you, my wonderful, amazing, magical family!) I think that’s a good metaphor for life. Everything can be renewed, given time, effort, & a lil’ help, from loved ones, near & far.
… The shoes I’m wearing right now are my littlest brother’s. They are exact same type that I bought for myself & that I’ve been wearing my whole mission, because they’re comfy, & comfy shoes are hard to find. My dad thought he’d want other shoes, but no– my brother picked them, without knowing they were MY SHOES. (So proud. :’ ) Das’ my bruvver. [Seriously, though, I couldn’t be more impressed with everything happening in my fambly.])
But, uh… he outgrew them.
… these fit me perfectly.
Attached is some service we did, a picture of two of my belovéd mission-graduates sharing Christmastime together, my family’s Christmas tree (they’ve kept it up this whole year because of me– & it suddenly completely transformed on Christmas, due to our neighbor teaching the family his tips & tricks as a wedding/party co-ordinator… seriously, it’s like A Charlie Brown Christmas miracle.), a hymn we sang to my family… actually, we originally sang that at a huge Christmas bash that the Tongans were putting together. (Silent Night in Hawaiian is Po La’i E… in Tongan, it’s Po Malu! Oh ho ho, ees thee similaire.) When we walked in (after standing in a 45-minute line for Secret Santa gifts), some temple square sister missionaries had beat us there. (???) They asked us, “Is this your area?” We said, “It is!” They gave us this… I’d call it an airline hostess smile (they gestured to everything like exits to a plane), & said, “… Well, welcome. :  )” … … Yeah… … welcome to our own area… …
Oh, & as way of honouring my brilliant companion & fearless leader Elder Boccazzi (because Elder Fekete has just entered the building), I’m attaching the picture that was the first I’d ever seen of him. A very good first impression. :  ) We ended every night here with a hug, & he’d often tell me, “Goodnight, buddy. Thanks for everything.” Man, thank YOU for everything, Elder Boccazzi.
& that’s a good last impression! :  )
You are great, you are awesome,
sKye (eLder sOnomura)​
Book-ending these three with resends– hope the attachments wo’ik.
Advertisements
02
Jan
18

elderSkyeSonomura_operationValidation_massemail.part058

(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!)

 
POINT 2/3: KEEP BREATHING
Title there is a reference to yet another Ingrid Michaelson song. Sometimes, quoth the poet, “All we can do is keep breathing.” Plus, it helps a lot! I think we all KNOW that trying events are transient, & we’ll get through it. So– as we’re at that little valley betwixt three mails right now… lemme take a breather.
One breather I took recently was rather spiritually recharging! We, as an entire mission, got to visit with one of the apostles. (They’re, like… some of the people that keep the church running right?) I’d started my mission by reading this particular apostle (M. Russell Ballard)’s book (Our Search for Happiness). He ended the book with a personal invitation to write him if they had any questions– address & all. In similar fashion, when he entered the room, he expressed a desire to shake EVERYBODY’S HAND. IN THE WHOLE MISSION. That’s a lot of time, even for a quick “Hello!”… & there’s only 12 apostles in the whole stinkin’ world. They must shake a lot of hands in general. Hand-shaking experts. (Among other things, of course.)
 
Warning: talking about religion!
&, one thing of interest– he’s rather closely related to Joseph Smith. I know he’s a touchy subject– but, in short, we don’t worship Joseph Smith, as I tried to explain once, over ice cream. In the scriptures, God’s always called a person to act as a completely mortal, rather ordinary intermediary for us. Like, besides being a rather decent, kind person, Joseph Smith was just human. It wasn’t any accolades of education or personal achievement that would’ve set him apart. People who knew him were sometimes frustrated by his imperfect ways. To quote the next prophet after him (to give you an idea of the personalities of the prophets, hahaha), “Joseph Smith was the Lord’s prophet. Not mine.” In like fashion, M. Russell Ballard, while being a pretty interesting person who’s invested a great majority of his life into 24/7 spiritual & charitable service, is just that. A person. A person called to do more than he could do without divine guidance & help. We’re all called, in our own way, to do those things in our own spheres!
Someone else at the event (There were a couple of speakers– one of them spoke at the church-wide Christmas devotional– Kevin R. Duncan! Best talk of the night, I think.) relayed a story about one of M. Russell Ballard’s relatives, expressing a vision he saw once, of seeing Jesus Christ face to face. The one thing that was quoted from the experience was, “No matter what, I shall never forget that smile.” I know my family will like that. ‘Cause like that! Too many somber depictions of Jesus in this world. I know He’ll smile at ALL of us. *hands on hips* & hug us, & love us, & all the things we need.
Done, thank you for your understanding!
One thing Elder Ballard (Yeah, Elder. Apostles are called Elder for all their life– because they do quite a bit of what we do! Just always reachin’ out & helping.) said is that, when he was called, he felt inadequate– & has often questioned if he can do anything he has to do. (HO BOY, do I feel that.) But then, he said, “When that happens, I take a moment to go to Gethsemane, in my mind. Jesus Christ took on all earthly frailty for all of us there, & the power of that sacrifice can give us strength to do anything. When I go to Gethsemane, the response I hear to my question is, ‘Yes, I can do it.’ & you can, too. Whenever you think you can’t, just turn your thoughts back to Gethsemane.”
… He also talked a little bit about social media. Which is always an adorable thing for a seasoned veteran of Life to try to do. Instead of saying “Snapchat”, he said “Napchat”. I want to use Napchat. I’d be on it. A lot. All the time.
OH– & one of my favourite things– his daughter had started a friendship with her garbage man, & asked him one day, “If there were people called as apostles & prophets– as servants & mouthpieces of the Lord, like in the scriptures– if those people existed in the PRESENT-DAY, would you be interested in talking with one of them?” He said yes.
He continued the story, “So, when I went to visit her over the holidays, who do you think I spent an hour & a half eating lunch & having a heartfelt, meaningful conversation with? The garbage man.” He grinned. “I’ve talked with many, many garbage men & mailmen in my life. I felt like I was recruiting an army of them for the Lord.”
Oh– another really great breather is MUSIC. As you can imagine, we did our fair share of carolling. We even got a big ol’ van & created a lil’ makeshift choir of missionaries! From the amount of cameras pulled out on us, I have a feeling we’re all over social media. Facebook, Instagram, Twitter… Napchat…
It’s interesting– music in general makes otherwise completely disinterested people… change their tune, so to speak? 😉 Perhaps, in a way, it can level the playing ground. It can take a lot of emotional vulnerability to talk with teenaged strangers in suit-&-tie. When we bare our heart to them in song– however good or bad it may sound– it shows forth a kind of emotional risk, on our part. Like, “I’m sharing something really special & personal to you, fellow stranger.” When you do that, even if might be a little out-of-the-blue, it shows you care. & then, in turn, they feel they can open their door– their heart– even just a slight bit more, to you.
Music!
Sister Harvey (from the Guac Squad of Light) got really ill this past month. She’s really soldiering through the last few weeks of her mission. (She’s CURRENTLY feeling just terrible, too– but we keep doing whatever we can to help.) So, some of the other Guac Squad members had the excellent idea of popping in unannounced, as a final concert for the day. When we got there, her two companions said she was currently throwing up. We started to sing to her from the doorway (“SHE CAN HEAR US”), & she ran straight out. A while back, I’d started a list of everyone’s favourite hymns, & as a final carol, I made everyone sing her favourite hymn: Be Still, My Soul. An unorthodox carol, perhaps (I know my fellow carollers were uncertain of if it were altogether neccessary)– but the look of peace on Sister Harvey’s face & her little sigh of relief, in the midst of this malarkey, proved it was important. It’s an excellent mantra for enduring & overcoming hardship: “Leave to thy God to order & provide; in ev’ry change he faithful will remain. … Thy best, thy heav’nly Friend, thru thorny ways leads to a joyful end.”
The following day, she was raring to get back to work. :  ) She gave us a little note of thanks. With handwriting STRIKINGLY SIMILAR TO THE BIRTHDAY POLKA-DOTS. HUMMM… –eh, prob’ly means nuffin’.
Attached are some pictures of boxes I helped Elder Landrith make for some kids he’s teaching. (Specifically, they requested they get BOXES to hold their SCRIPTURES IN. … So, in Elder Landrith’s own words, he “went full-on Pinterest™ mom.”) Same day I did that, I actually sewed up the front of my pants! I had to redo the stitch, like, five times, but… the system works! Then, we got some throwback pictures to an amazing family from last year… who actually JUST GOT BAPTIZED, HYAAAAAH. It’s been a real battle, on our side, on their side, on… people who barely even knew them‘s side… That family means a lot to me. :  ) They took such good care of me– they didn’t bat an eye at my weirdness. In-fact, they revelled in it. Their eldest daughter has a room she painted to look like an underwater scene! Makes me’h feel at home. Their eldest son, on the first day I met him, let me use his Repitograph inkpen. (THAT is an honour.) They stinkin’ BOUGHT ME THE PRISMACOLOR PENS & PENCILS FOR CHRISTMAS. Attached below are some example of the art their kids gifted me… which I look at. Oh, so often.
At the very bottom, I’ve attached… what I’m fairly certain is the oldest photo of my Utah escapades. *jazz hands*
You are great, you are awesome,
sKye (eLder sOnomura)
02
Jan
18

elderSkyeSonomura_operationValidation_massemail.part057

(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!)

Welcome to another round of What Happens When I Don’t Write?, where the readers are made up & my points don’t matter!
POINT 1/3: FLUBS OF LUBS
I’m so glad I’ve learned from an early age to laugh at myself, or Life wouldn’t be anywhere near as awesome. Something I like to say, tongue-in-cheek, is, “God has a sense of humour. I’ve heard him laugh at me all the time.” So, uh, feel free to laugh at this stuff, with or at me, hahaha. It’s all pretty hilarious. & as my dad’s organ flub taught me, these less-than-perfect experiences can be rather revealing. We went around in a line on New Years Eve Eve & said something we learned recently, & I said, “I learned that everybody here will still be nice to me, even when I make a LOT of mistakes.”
Here’s a day I’ve meant to share for a while: One day, Elder ‘Ita & I were doin’ a walk-around, with our lil’ list of people to pop by. It’s an exciting jumble-pile of people er’ryday. :  ) You never know who you’re going to meet. … Like, really. Really, you don’t. You have a name– sometimes it’s misspelled… sometimes it’s not even a name. (When I got into this area, there were a lot of Poly Family & Poly Wo/man. With no address. Cool-cool-cool.) & you don’t know IF you’ll meet them! :  ) Ever.
We knocked on a door for a “Jamie”– a line of little kids, headed by a rather confused shirtless boy, answered. (At least he wasn’t also shortless… shout-out to last December with Cody Stanchfield’s brothers, TEEHEE.) I said, “Uh… hi, we’re the missionaries.”
(Unexpected much-ado-about-nothing tangent: Sometimes, it feels really redundant to say that, but… hey! When I visited the Siakis for the first time, saying that was the only reason we got in. Brother Siaki was pretending to sleep when we arrived, & his son began explaining a memorized spiel about how his dad “wasn’t home”. He just kind of stood there after & looked at us funny, so, to neutralize things a bit, I said, “Well… you probably already know this, but, we’re the missionaries. & we just wanted to know if we could do anything to help y–” & by that point, I was cut off by Brother Siaki throwing off his blanket & barging downstairs, proclaiming, “MISSIONARIES?! DON’T LEAVE THEM STANDING THERE, YOU KNOW TO LET MISSIONARIES IN.”)
The kids nodded slowly. I said, “We’re looking for a Jamie?” The boy in-front began to say something when he was immediately cut off by his dad, who I hadn’t noticed was at the tail-end of the line of kids. “She isn’t here right now.” I was grateful someone had finally said something, at least. Cheerily, I followed up with, “Oh, all right, is there a time that you think she might be–” I was cut off by, “Oh, she moved. She… she moved.”
… Yes, so, Jamie isn’t here right now, because… she moved. I suppose that could be true. Like… moved out of the house… to go to the grocery store.
Then after that, we stopped by another house– one of those eternal unanswered knocks. (Well, one time, the family’s DOG answered the door by propping himself on his hind legs & staring at us like a bouncer.) All I really knew about it was that they had the obligatory wood-carved bear on their front porch that everyone in Grantsville seemed to have. (What does that even MEAN, really? They like bears?) This was DIRECTLY after Jamie, so we were pleasantly surprised when someone answered. This boy, Nash, even recognized ME from our rousing campfire-style rendition of “Called to Serve” at Boy Scout Camp! & he said his parents had just left to a rock concert. So we just told Nash to tell them we “stopped by”. (‘Nother one of those obligatory missionary phraseology terms.)
As we left, Elder ‘Ita turned to whisper, “Don’t turn around. Do you know what his dad would look like?”
I kept looking ahead. “Uh… no. Do you see someone?”
“There’s a man in the backyard who looks like he’d be the right age. The boy just called him back inside the house.”
Aha, a rock concert… like… the rocks… in a… in a yard… (That’s my genre.)
So, two strikes. Typical, although not so typical for them to be quite so memorable. Then, we stopped by another home, looking for a roughly tween-aged Emma this time. We’d stopped by before, & a highschool-looking girl had answered & said that Emma was over at a friend’s house. This time, Emma’s mom answered. When we asked for Emma, she invited us in… & gestured to the girl who’d answered the day before.
I started laughing in disbelief. “… You’re Emma, I take it?”
She grinned slyly, & said, “Thhhhat’s me.”
They weren’t interested, if you hadn’t picked up on that trace. They DID say we could come by whenever, though! Because… … they think we’re nice.
SOMEONE ELSE in the house DEFINITELY thought so. This elderly lady squealed in delight as she saw us enter, & reached out to us with shaking hands. “OHHHH, LOOK AT YOU, YOU’RE SO GOOD!” She hugged us both, repeating this. As she took a closer look at Elder ‘Ita, “Look at you, you’re so HANDSOME!” Elder ‘Ita pulled out his classic, “Oh, stop!” She responded, “No, really, you give so much love. Gotta have love, right?” Emma’s mom tried to lead her back down the hallway, which she pretended to go along with… for a moment or two, before turning back around, declaring, “I’m not leaving yet!” She proceeded to give us each five more hugs before we got out of there.
Three strikes. :  ) That’s when you know you’ve done good.
This transfer has felt very much like a three-strikes kind of time for me. Like, so many good things have been happening, but I’ve felt like I’ve just been a little off. We started to teach these three kids– To’a, Naisa, & Salesi. & there was nothing WRONG with our lessons. I just– I love everyone I teach so much that I try my best, to GIVE them my best. &… these kids were doing so well, & learning so much… & it literally had nothing to do with the quality of our lessons. They just… learned! & they were good at teaching each other. One time, we asked Salesi to say a prayer, & he started, “Dear Heavenly Father… … I don’t know what to say next.”
To’a got really sassy, & retorted, “UHH, how about THANK YOU for the BLES-SINGS? &, like, THANK YOU FOR THIS DAY-EE & FOR LI-FE & FOR GOO-D FOO-DUH??
I have never heard such an interceding in a prayer– & we said, whispering, “Thanks a lot, To’a, just try to be a little more reverent.”
Really, it was all just a miracle. It showed me, as I’ve seen again & again, that it’s not about us. Good things just happens with a lil’ honest heart & intent.
Well, we did have ONE lesson I felt was just right. There’s this boy about my age named Lynn. &… he’s lazy. I feel okay saying that– he says it himself all the time. Every time I come over, no matter what time it is, he is asleep. He has this almost clown-horn sound to his snore, & every couch looks like some kind of dinky Barbie™ dreamhouse accessory when he sleeps on it. Sometimes, he’s even too lazy to find the energy to play videogames. & he wants to be a missionary. So that’s perfect. The first time we stopped over, I tried to talk about my own struggles in feeling like I could ever do what a missionary does, & as I talked, I noticed that he kept twitching & shaking his head like he was having a conniption. After I finished talking, he blinked & said, “Uh, I’m sorry, man, what was that about Preach my Gospel?”
Then we played a song. He liked that a lot more.
His youngest sister, Henrietta, is currently on a mission– she was in Mexico, got seriously ill (but REALLY wanted to stay due to her great love for the people), toted along three different friendly bacteria back to Utah, then got cleared & accepted a reassignment to the border at Texas.
Meanwhile, Lynn made a post on Facebook recently. He’s a bit of a Facebook poet. This post read, simply enough, “I just keep losing”. Support poured out: “You aren’t losing if you just KEEP trying!” I posted, with concern, “Lynn, buddy, you doing okay?”
When we ate dinner there later on, I asked about this cryptic cry of despair he’d left. He tried to remember it, & finally clicked, “Uuu-uuhhh–OH. I was in Vegas last week, & I was doing the slots, &… I just kept losing.”
So– there’s an illustration of some essential differences between these two.
We were having another dinner with Lynn, & it coincided with a Internet video call we’d scheduled with To’a, Naisa & Salesi. It sounded like we’d either have to finish dinner really quickly (virtually impossible in a Tongan meal) or move the lesson (which wasn’t possible, because then it’d be time for THEM to eat). I asked pretty hesitantly, in planning, how Elder Boccazzi felt about maybe… … sort of… … having the lesson AT Lynn’s house in the middle of dinner, &, uh, HMMM, ERRR– including Lynn in the lesson.
When we asked Lynn at the beginning of dinner, Lynn almost choked on his food. He started to sweat, & almost thought about showering. I said, “You can just put on some church clothes– no one’s gonna smell you!” He disappeared for a moment & emerged in a white shirt… &… yeah. A white shirt. As we started the video call, I aimed the camera up to give the illusion Lynn was in full proselyting attire.
The connection was truly terrible– & yet, To’a, Naisa & Salesi paid attention. (Which… uh, an 8, 9, & 10-year-old don’t do that.) They also paid ESPECIAL attention to, “our friend Lynn,” as I introduced him! & every time that I asked Lynn to explain something, or asked him a question, he said it with clarity & conciseness. When I asked him, “So, Lynn, all the things we’re supposed to do to stay on the right path– they’re all really simple, but… does that make it easy?” Lynn responded with conviction, “No, it’s not easy, but you can do it. If you just rely on Jesus Christ, rely on Him for everything, & focus on Him, when things are hard… you can get back up again, & get through anything.”
The baptism was a… real ordeal. No one could correctly guide us to the right church building. & that’s a real problem when you’re in Utah, & there’s another church every few miles. We went back & forth between four different buildings trying to scope out the bishop for a good hour. Turns out that the bishop was running late, & had yet to interview To’a. :  ) So he wasn’t even at the right building yet.
But we eventually all made it to the right building. & when I say “we all”, I mean that the building was PACKED. Those boys have a lot of people who loved them. (Us included!) The only person who wasn’t there: THEIR GRANDPA. Like, the one who had made everything happen for this to begin with. No one knew why, or wasn’t willing to disclose, at least. (The following day, I tried to ask him what had happened, to which he said, “Bah-h-hh.” So I said, “But it’s all good now, right?” He grinned & said, “Yeah, is all good.”) He was supposed to baptize them. So, we had to quickly adjust to… doing that ourselves.
The boys had forgotten to bring an extra change of underwear, so they had to go commando underneath their GIGANTIC BAPTISMAL JUMPERS. (Because there were all Tongan adult-sized jumpers available. :  ) They’ll be there some day.) You’ll see in the first picture attached that… To’a in specific was rolled up at each of the limbs a good 2-3 times. Elder Boccazzi baptized To’a & Naisa, &… as I entered the water with Salesi, I all at once realized, “Oh. … I have the biggest kid to baptize here.”
First, I struggled to get his arm to turn correctly to hold onto my arm. I almost found myself thinking, “Am I forgetting how arms turn? Am I going to break his arm if I turn it this way?!” But, thankfully, it moved with a little extra persuasion. Then, I said the blessing (without looking at the cheat sheet that’s there, because, to be honest, the nervousness had made my range of vision shallow… like… the water…) & put my foot on his to keep it down. Didn’t want a repeat of Trinitie, right? Then I dipped him down, &… he pulled me down with him. As I struggled to pull myself back up out of the water, I asked, laughing nervously, “Does that count?”
It counted. He went “ALL the way under”. It counted.
Look, this stuff means a lot to me. I take it REALLY seriously– sacred is the right word. So I want to do it right… which means I feel pretty upset when I mess it up, even just a little bit, for someone I love. But– it was crazy how everyone extended love beyond mere acceptance. Everyone there was so… … nice about it. I noticed after the fact, with sinking [slipping] dread, that our mission president was there. SURPRISE. As he got up to say a few words, he said, “I loved when Elder Sonomura went under when he baptized. It made me think of, in the scriptures, when Alma baptized himself when he did his first baptism. It was just awesome. Where is he?” I pulled my scarf tighter around myself (I was even colder now. My shirt had accidentally got soaked by Naisa & To’a when they’d changed their clothes.), & timidly raised my hand. “There he is!”
I was very grateful for the shout-out having been so positive. Goodness. It certainly hadn’t felt so positive to me, & yet.. here I was, receiving unexpected love.
Nearing the end of the program, the mom of some of these boys got up & said, “You know, these three have been ready for baptism from the beginning. They’ve asked me so many times in the past, but… wasn’t ready. & this morning, even, I found myself telling myself, ‘Maybe I should call the whole thing off,’ but, now I’m here, &…” She looked down at her boys– big mistake, if she wanted to hold it together. “… & now I see that I’ve just been so selfish in keeping them from doing what they’ve wanted to do for a long time. & I’m so grateful to be here, to see this… You three are the example to ME of what I should be. & I just want you boys to know right now that, no matter what, that I KNOW that this church is the true church of Jesus Christ, & I know that it’s right with all my heart.”
So, we had another… three “strikes“. :  ) (Three thoroughly delightful kids, that is.)
That’s when you know you’ve done good.
So… despite nothing working out, EVERYTHING worked out. Moving on from there, this same day, Elder Gee was having a baptism for none other than Linh Thai (not to be confused with Lazy Lynn– that was confusing when talking about all of this with fambly), the Vietnamese inventor & biking enthusiast with the missionary mobile. The story is concluded– even though I wasn’t there, at least Elder-graduate Blätter was inexplicably there! (He’s kept in touch the whole time– impressive.) Even one of Linh’s California missionaries (could’ve even been one we did the halfsies lesson with over Skype!) made it, as she’d just arrived home to Utah the week prior. Another full baptism, I’m sure– I can just visualize it. :  )
Er, speaking of visualizing… I spent a few weeks with my glasses taped up. During that time, us missionaries took an excursion to a lil’ Harry Potter exhibit at the mall. Most of the employees didn’t seem all that enthused to be there! Which totally confused me, since… they got to dress up like wizards & speaking in fake UK accents all day long, & get paid for it. Sounds like a dream job to me. (Our first exposure to this exhibit was actually at Temple Square– a lady we were absolutely certain was British was actually just a star employee who’d lost a bet with friends & had to accent it up all night.)
One of the workers had the bridge of his glasses taped up rather liberally, obviously in reference to Chamber of Secrets. I asked, “Why haven’t you done oculus repairo?” He comically fumbled & nearly knocked his glasses off, but caught them. “I couldn’t find them this morning. I seem to have misplaced them in my other robes.” A few other employees responded in a hush-hush tone, “We certainly would help, but… the Muggle folk get a little squeamish around magic, we try to shy away from using it whenever possible.” I gestured to my glasses, & said I would do some magic here, too, but… witchcraft is probably frowned upon on a mission.
Oh– & a girl there (sporting a much more tricky Irish accent– everyone else was generic) served with two of the sisters I met at the MTC! They were all in Rancho Cucamonga, California That is also where my rather quickly forth-coming companion, Elder Fekete is from. Glorious. :  )
I’ve been a little askew, like my spectacles. But… it’s all made aright, in time! & everyone’s so nice. Thank YOU for being nice! Goodness!
As a final note– let’s bring up my R2-D2 bequeathment to Elder Koogler. He’s home now. I… find it odd how every time someone has gone home unexpectedly, I have thought about them, despite perhaps not being around them much, or knowing very much about them. I often catch myself thinking that I, personally, needed to have done more to reach out to them, or to see if they were doing alright. After all, if people have done that for me, I’d best be doing likewise, right? Well, in this case, I think I finally followed that kind of prompting all the way through. Alas, Elder Koogler– I hardly knew him– hardly spent any time with him– really, this was one of only five times I was ever close enough to talk with him. &… I just gave him the life-sized R2-D2 that seemed to have had his name on it to begin with. It wasn’t much, but, I can only hope it showed I cared, & will be… a NICE thing. Because nice things are nice. & nice things are nice to share. (Which explains why I’m sharing all of this…)
Below are lots of baptismal pictures (duh-doy), a picture of me running into an old friend (He DID introduce us to Linh after all– first day, first person.), a video that Elder Koogler made on his mission (He made lots of these! I bet a bajillion that I haven’t seen… I’m a fan.), a little excerpt from the many discarded takes of my overhead piano tutorial, a video of me explaining one of the dumbest things I’ve ever done… ho boy, the same day, I stepped in many “land-mines” left by a dog while raking leaves. (HAHAHA, I also perpetually hit my head on the doorway of a very low-hanging shed. KK-TON-N-N-NG~)
The owner of the dog actually went so far as to scrub my shoes off for me after. Then he asked me, “Do you have pioneers in your ancestry?” I said, “Well, maybe on my mom’s side…” He cut me off, “Well, I think that MUST be true, because some of the gunk on this shoe must’ve been LEFT there from pioneer times! It does NOT want to come on.” Man, after being Captain Poopyshoe, &… the thing I did right before (Hint: It has to do with fire. Ah, me & fire.), I just can’t believe my temporary companion (Elder Bingham) was still patient with me. He was even nice after my self-baptizing debacle. He didn’t need to make that kind of effort! But… he did! I don’t get it. But I am always, always grateful for such mercy.
You are great, you are awesome,
sKye (eLder sOnomura)
The draft wouldn’t even open up because of how big it was (Oopsy doodle doo, anyone?), so I had to get a little creative. I’m re-sending with invites to the attachments.
21
Dec
17

elderSkyeSonomura_operationValidation_massemail.part056

(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!)
 
(Hey.
Tuesday’s
P-day!
… Yay!)
*sing-song* Guess who got quarantined to the house yesterday?~ Nothing like a little generic-symptom sickishness to welcome in the holiday season! (Anyone notice that the holiday season & the sick season tend to overlap a lot? I think my body wants to take a holiday, so it allows itself to get sick. Not cool.)
Also, I just so happened to be sick the day OF my friend Ana’s wedding. Maybe I took on her wedding jitters or something? Her self-made wedding dress was absolutely elegant, I say! I wanna be able to do that. Maybe some day? Elder Boccazzi pulled out a tiny little sewing kit the other day, & I was, like, “YEE-UH, BOI, PRACTICALITY!” The more I live, the more the desire to learn to sew manifests itself. It’s like a superpower! I mean, my very first encounter with it was just about a year ago, & I’m pleased to report the stitch has stayed in throughout all the many washes it’s undoubtedly been through by now. Tah-dah!
Elder Boccazzi keeps telling me I should’ve gone to a Spanish mission, because I love the food (he actually isn’t altogether obsessed with rice & beans, but he’s Argentinean), love the language, love the traditional music (Wouldn’t say I’m huge on contemporary ), love the people, & I’d definitely be fine without snow. (WOULD I!?) I think the big thing is that Polynesian & Hispanic culture have a lot of overlap. That certainly explains all the Spanish people attending the Tongan wards over the palangi wards… (There, I said it.)
Not only that, but it seems like if a Tongan doesn’t marry a Poly, they’ve married a Hispanic! It just works. Speaking of, I have yet to mention one of the couples I’ve met with from the beginning… the man is Tongan, the woman is Spanish, they have a 7-year-old son named Andrew & they’re 21. … Do the math. He doesn’t have papers. He’s been to jail, which is where he read The Book of Mormon. Also, they are not married. (Hahaha, that’s very Spanish, right, mOm?) Not only that, but we just found out another baby’s on the way. Right after they told us that was a big wake-up call for them to do better (they both have drug & substance abuse problems, mainly the man), we caught them in the car outside their house just… living it up. A regular “eat, drink & be merry, for tomorrow we die/become parents” thing, if you know what I mean.
It’s a little comical, because… well, for one, I’m older than these two. & the man (or boy? I don’t know what to acknowledge him as) is always so sheepish & embarrassed when we catch him partying. He apologizes so profusely, & in turn, all I can say is, “Well, I guess that’s the risk you run when you tell us to stop by whenever, right?” On his behalf, he never tries to hide. He always steps out of the car & says, “I gotta be honest with you. I’d hide if you were the cops, but you’re men of God.” I’ve made sure to mention we’re only coming over because we love him & his family. Then I hug him, of course.
It must be hard to have immediately been jolted into a world of parenthood & responsibility, & I’m sure that there are times where they ask themselves, “How did I get here?” When they’re in parent mode, they’re very impressive. They practically raise the other three children in the house that are the man-boy’s sister’s kids. (The father of these kids was running from the law, & his getaway car exploded.) So when we stop over & see them parked outside their house with their cousins, all I can think is, “Your kids are just a couple footsteps away from you… maybe you want to act up, because you rid yourself of your childhood, but don’t make your children pay for it…” As we left once, their cousins reached out of their car in some strange show of mock-respect, their hands making grasping motions, “ELDERS, OH, ELDERS, THANK YOU, THANK YOU.”
They ARE working towards marriage (albeit for the wrong reasons, to get the man’s mom, who he lives with, off their back), & we’d heard they’d talked with the bishop about planning toward that. When we asked them how that went, the man laughed a little & said, “Oh, it went fine. After, I, uh… I felt kinda stupid. I smoked right before our meeting, & then I misplaced them. After the meeting, I just really felt that urge to have a smoke, y’know? I looked everywhere in the house, I couldn’t find it, & I’d already changed out into my bathrobe… I must’ve been desperate or something, because I got in the car, drove to church & started doing circles looking around the parking lot. In my bathrobe. I started to think, ‘Oh man, what if I dropped it in the bishop’s office?’ Finally, I went back, &… my dog… she buried it in the backyard.” He paused & chuckled nervously. “That probably is a sign, isn’t it?” He’s been hooked since before his teens, & he keeps expressing a desire to quit, but then he’ll make a reverse & remark with remorse, “I feel like I was just MADE TO SMOKE, y’know?” I keep promising that, when he’s ready to make this commitment (among many other important commitments) that it IS entirely possible to quit, not alone, but with your loved ones & your loving Heavenly Father.
His girlfriend decided to quit everything when she found out she was having another child. That seems to be a thing. Another thing I see often, as a pattern: the man is a member, but is, in his own words, “a jack-Mormon”. The woman is not of any faith, & yet is, for some reason, more faithful. Andrew, their son, was practicing his part of the children’s program… his line? “I can choose the right by being a good example to my non-member friends.” Even as she practiced this with him, she smiled proudly & said, “I’m his non-member friend!” It was so interesting, we were sharing a lesson on thankfulness & gratitude, & she expressed to us her own gratitude to the teachings of Jesus Christ. She said, “You know, I’m not a member of the church, so I don’t know if it would be appropriate for me to share my testimony on first Sunday… I don’t know if I could bare my testimony about all the things everyone else can, but… there ARE some things I really DO know. Maybe I could ask Andrew to share for me?…”
Elder Boccazzi & I immediately assured her she could & should bare her testimony– it’s an open opportunity for EVERYONE. She was so surprised & excited that she started to share with us: “Well, we’ve met with the missionaries for a while now, because… we can feel that that’s good. I know that. &… there was a time in the past year where we really were trying to keep the commandments & read our scriptures together as a family & pray together as a family… I really did see a difference then. &… now, after these seven years, I feel like God has finally blessed us with a child, because we were trying to be a good family & choose the right. So… could I bare my testimony about that? Is that alright?”
Uh. YES. Yes, please.
The whole ward has really adopted this funny family as their own. The couple has noticed, although the bishop is loving & kind to everyone, of course, that whenever he sees them around, he lights up & asks with especial tenderness, “Where’s my boy?” They say he’s practically a second father to Andrew. He’s taken it upon himself to personally visit them (that’s called “home teaching”), & you can just tell the kind of impression he’s had on them, in trying to share the Love they so desperately need.
We’re trying to do what we can, too. The couple shares a phone, & the woman takes it to school (child development!), & the man… … uh, I don’t know. Anyway, she texted us one morning that she wasn’t going to be back in-time to pick up Andrew from school, & she needed her boyfriend to do it for her. &, she had no way to reach him, & she needed us to go over & tell him that. She said, “I’d ask someone else if I could, I promise, but you’re the only people I know who can.” We were her only hope, as it were. As added advice, she mentioned, “If he doesn’t respond if you knock, you have my permission to yell for him as loud as you can.”
… Which we ended up having to do, leaning into the open doorway, screaming, “HEY, WE HAVE A MESSAGE… FROM YOUR WIFE!!” (They DO call each other husband & wife. Which is nice!) He shuffled out, blearily, & then thanked us for doing what it took to wake him up, so his son wouldn’t wait outside his classroom until dinnertime.
So, add that to our list of myriad missionary duties: literal (& spiritual) wake-up caller. (“HEY, BLINK IF YOU’RE IN THERE.”)
When we were at a restaurant, a group of oddballs entered. (Enter, a group of ODDBALLS, stage left.) They looked like people I’d be friends with, let’s just say that. I could see that everyone in the store was trying not to make eye contact. As they entered, an older man walked by carrying… I’d estimate twelve cups of water, for… reasons. & they all knocked over, because… gravity. & who was the first & only person to run to his rescue with napkins? One of the oddballs. No one acknowledged them, still. I was just about fed up. As everyone in my missionary group filed out, I marched up into the cashier’s line & said, “Thank you so much for helping him, that was awesome.”
This reminds me of this one day I was walking through a parking lot in a highschool, & this couple that appeared to be skipping class (or sloughing, as Utahn say… gotta slough just kitty-corner from the moun’ain at Lay’on.) noticed us coming by. One of them said, except adding a *bleep* every other word, “Oh, are you missionaries or something?” We said, “Sure are,” in response. To which we received a string of enthusiastic *bleep*s. “Wow, you must be so high & holy now, huh? Gettin’ those brownie points from God? Makin’ your way up to the top?” I smiled & shook my head & said, “No, we go straight down to the bottom, man. All the way down.”
& I mean that with all my heart. This is about getting down into the dirt with people & loving them exactly where they are, & lifting in any way we can. We are all equally important to God, & only when we show that are we are doing the work of a missionary.
Warning: talking about religion!
& that’s the point of all of this Christmas mumbo-jumbo boils down to. Don’t let all this complicated hoity-toity lyricism obscure things or, I don’t know, give you a headache. Christmas is about our Heavenly Father bringing his Son into the world, ALL THE WAY DOWN TO THE BOTTOM, born in a stable, to be a social outcast his whole life, to serve US with absolutely all he had, virtually homeless.
He chose to feel every pain, heartache, hurt this life could ever imply, whether from the mistakes of others or our own wrongdoing.
He chose to die for us, & then live again, SOMEHOW, so all of us would have this same hope.
That is the Gospel– which means good news– that’s it. & I’d like to say thank You, for showing that kind of Love in your own life, to others. The same Love that this … complicated, simple, unbelievably important truth I love to share … archetypes & exemplifies.
Done, thank you for your understanding!
The song I played at the conference is the first attachment. It’s Welcome to Our World by Chris Rice. Besides my parents (no duh), he’s written my favourite songs on faith. Besides that, we have Temple Square, escape room, ear-shatteringly loud Tongan church dance, dog-washing service (I washed him, too, I was just the only one clean enough to handle a camera.), my beloved Guac Squad making our long-distance relationship work, &… something I told myself I’d film when I made it to the actual half-way mark. (Well, what my ministerial certificate [Yeah, I have one of those, odd. That’s something for both of us to mull over.] dictates it to be, at least.) From this point onward, every day will be the last of its kind! So I’d better be Paying Attention. To every thing. & every ONE.
Speaking of, hi! *sing-song* Have I told… you lately… that…
You are great, you are awesome,
sKye (eLder sOnomura)
21
Dec
17

elderSkyeSonomura_operationValidation_massemail.part055

(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!)

 
I realized that, when I related the story to you, of the  triangle between me, my life-size R2-D2 & Star Wars diehard Elder Koogler, I didn’t actually say what became of that Halloween encounter! Maybe you inferred what occurred– because I did end up giving my beautiful BB(-8… whoops, wrong episode.) to Elder Koogler. I mean, really, from the moment that I laid eyes on it, the first thing on my mind was HIM. So, I had my Halloween follies… but, afterward, that droid needed to be delivered to Obi-Wan Koog-nobi, pronto! I think it was the start of a beautiful friendship– for all parties involved.
Also to elaborate, I have discovered that John Small– THE John Small– is even more of a “THE” than I had initially picked up on. I was on the treadmill at the gym (where else would I be in a gym, I ask you?), & I saw a rather unmistakable face in a Jiffy Lube commercial. For the rest of the day, I asked my fellow missionaries, “Is John Small famous? Like, not only with us?” I put off searching him out on Facebook for clarification, because… well, how generic can you be?
But, of course, John– THE John was the very first man to show up in the search results. Should’ve known… after I became his friend there (we already were friends–he gave me a dumb nickname), I noticed pictures of him in a voice-acting booth, or a link to a cheesy Hallmark Christmas film that he shared only because he was in it.
As I scrubbed away heavy blue, purple & pink scribble-monsters off of every surface (the wall looked like it was crying all its make-up off– it’s okay, you’re still beautiful), John came in to make an assessment of the damage, & said, in his Patton Oswalt voice, “This is amazing. You are my heroes.” I said back, in as poker-faced a voice (poker-voiced?) as I could muster, “John, you are OUR hero.” He left the room, mumbling, “Nope, nope, I’m nobody’s hero.” I meant what I said, though!
On the subject of celebrities, Elder Bailey & I shared a love of Elvis (did I ever mention I was even trying to teach an Elvis impersonator?), & he mentioned how Elvis’ bodyguard was a member of our church. Forgive me if I don’t recount this accurately: One morning, he told Elvis he’d come pick him up, right after dropping off his daughter to something in the morning. When Elvis inquired as to where a kid would be going so early in the morning, his bodyguard said, “She’s going to seminary.”
Elvis, of course, was a little confused, asking if his daughter was training to be part of the clergy, to which he responded, “Every youth in our church has seminary, to study & learn the teachings of the prophets & Jesus Christ together.” Elvis got visibly excited, & said, “That sounds great– I wanna go.”
So he did!
Apparently, after his death, they found a copy of The Book of Mormon in his house. Written on the inside was a reminder to himself: “Faith: I need it, I want more of it.”
(… Actually, similarly, this Elvis impersonator had read a LOT of The Book of Mormon & really felt something when he did. Perhaps when you get that deep into the psyche of Elvis… ?)
A day before our Zone’s conference, Elder Boccazzi was asked if he’d be willing to play an opening & closing hymn. No biggie– he’s been asked to do that all his mission. He says he’s not even very into the piano… he says he gets bored of it very easily, & that it’s not his “thing”. (Inversely, I can sit at the piano for an entire day– I know that from experience– & never get bored of it… & yet, I don’t yet know how to play the things he can play.) He’s just grateful it can be put to some use. Then, this request was expanded, & I became part of the program, too– Special Musical Number. … perhaps with an added finger-quotes around “special,” hahaha. I asked, with nervousness, if I could use the ‘ukulele in it, & received in return a yes! With lots of exclamation points!!!
I’m not going to attached what I played until next week, because I already had a musical number-in-the-making to share! (First attachment down d’ere.) So you can just think about what I would think about playing at Christmastime. … come to think of it, I don’t think anyone is aware of my particular love of the song! Doubly exciting. If anyone ends up knowing it next week, please mail me so we can enthuse over its humble musical majesty. (So turns out Sister Harvey, who sings with me in today’s number, always sang this song to herself last, as she finished decorating her family tree. Delightful personal tradition.)
After I shared in the conference, & sat down, & tried to keep my emotions in check, our mission president’s wife, Sister Palmer (who I have been certain from day one can see straight into souls & may have a record-breaking no-blink streak) continued on with the program, & talked a bit about music. Which I’m always about. Actually, come to think of it, the first day I arrived, she was the first to speak, & she spoke on our ability to choose moose-ic for ourselves. Unlike in many missions, which only authorize our church’s choir, Sister Palmer actually said, with the brutal honesty she always maintains, “I’d probably die if I had to only listen to that. The song Elder Sonny chose wasn’t in our hymnbook, but it was all about Jesus Christ, & it brought the Spirit!”
Which I was relieved to hear– I was worried all my nervous microphone P-pops might’ve distracted from things. But, y’know, you always overexaggerate those things for yourself. Elder Boccazzi WAS just asking me how I deal with the fear of my voice cracking while I sing. I brought up how, back at home, our open living area is kind of a musical testing ground, where people play, & everyone else hears– & hears EVERYTHING, & often will even end up singing along. So, every one hears you flub, &… no one cares! The sooner you mess up & realize it’s no big deal, & that people won’t stop loving you or something (remember my dad’s organ debacle?) &, in feeling comfortable with your voice, it just won’t matter, & you can skip straight to having Fun Times with Music™!
Actually, Elder Boccazzi JUST bought an ‘ukulele for himself, after he asked me to teach him some of the basics. … he picked it up too fast. This is, like, the EXACT SAME thing that happened with Elder Silva– in his demure way, he just said, “Can you? Teach me?” I handed it to him, showed him those few simple chords, gave him some sheet music, &… within the next hour, he’d played through almost the ENTIRE hymnbook I have! Within this time, he only needed minimal hints on how to play a chord, after I initially guided his fingers.
Even as I type, Elder Boccazzi is playing Now Let Is Rejoice on his new purchase. … uh, yeah, I’m rejoicing! He actually thanked me, because he’s kind of amazed himself by how happy the ‘ukulele makes him, since the piano does nothing for him. He said, “This might sound funny, but each of my companions has taught me something about myself that I never knew.” Out of all the times I’ve shared joy on my mission, this has probably been the most tangible transferring of this. I mean, he’s holding Joy. & he’s strumming it like a PRO. This is gonna be like Nova learning how to play chess, isn’t it?
Oh– going back to what Sister Palmer said– did you notice what she called me? :  ) I wasn’t even aware SHE was aware of my mission moniker! It made me feel very loved. (She even gave me a Symphony bar & a CTR [Choose the Right… or for Tongans, Cook the Rice] ring, because I memorized mein Articles of Faith! She gifted these specific “articles” to all us memorizing mission’ries because someone in the mission, Elder Valentine, was promised these things as a child & never received them. I haven’t had a CTR ring since I was… how old I am in my HEART.) Also, here’s something I’d like to know– do you think people are calling me Elder Sonny… or Elder Sunny? What do YOU think it should be? YOU DECIDE! *options appear on-screen, along with a timer*
Speaking of, some of us missionaries went to an escape room together. I did not know that such things were commonplace enough to find outside of the nichest of areas. The manager running it let us in for free, made everything harder for us (“Your lot tend to be sharp as they come…”), & it took almost an hour longer than the timer was granting us… but with his help (he pretended to be Smee to whole time), we made it through every puzzle in this mysterious room, & made it back to civilization with minor casualties. My family is kind of puzzle-obsessed… I bet if I were with my family, we would’ve made it through in HALF-THE-TIME. Then we would’ve made it into the hidden MEDIUM-difficulty room together! We had no clue this existed, but… the manager coyly hinted at it as we left. He said it was part of his diabolical plan to get us to return. MOO-HOO-HAW-HAW. I suppose that has real-life parallels. In my past, I’ve been, in many ways, been confined to a sort of “room”, navigating various “puzzles”, & once I got through… I got into a bigger room, with harder puzzles! Wouldn’tchya know it? But, as my family has always taught me, “Challenging is fun.” (Psst!–let’s go to an escape room together some day! We’ll break down ev’ry barrier that stands in our path!!)
We’re at Temple Square, the snow has landed, it is NOT any easier to handle this time around, but the sisters at Temple Square randomly asked all missionaries (past & present) to join them in a musical number, right as we walked in. So that was toasty. & then I just looked up from what I was typing, & someone proposed to someone, right in-front of me. Did I do that?
Among attachments already announced, there’s photos of Elder Jonah Bartley, who is, as of the past week, exactly where I was around this time last year! (The words, “Elder. Elder. Welcome to the MTC.” will forever echo in my ears. Sometimes, at night, I hear it still. … *checks behind my back*) There’s a delightful shot of us with a family called the Tu’uaos– they actually made personal LISTS of questions they wanted to ask missionaries! They ask us how we feel, how we apply the Book of Mormon, for others & ourselves– they even asked if we sometimes get on each other’s nerves– smarties. I mentioned that these brothers probably were all very different, & sometimes got on each other’s nerves… understanding & loving them is the perfect way to prepare for these virtually never-predictable pairings of personality. (Rey’ wrote in my birthday package that we taught each other how to deal with each other’s “opposites”– thank you, Rey’. I love you & your opposites most of all, & I would have it no other way.) There’s also a picture that summarizes a Tongan Thanksgiving… (It made it feel very much like home for Elder Boccazzi & me. A normal sight in both our cultures!) Finally, a… food review? It is to be expected in a Tongan stake.
I cannot feel my fingers. I love you, & this is what I have done to prove this for you.
You are great, you are awesome,
sKye (eLder sOnomura)
I just realized I made no transition between talking about John being an actor & the time we did service for him. … in-between those two paragraphs, insert, “To transition between talking about John being an actor & that time we did service for him…” Quick patch-up! No damage done.
21
Dec
17

elderSkyeSonomura_operationValidation_massemail.part054

(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!)

 
Hey, I need some confirmation: would you be upset if someone looked through your suitcase without your knowing or consent? There’s no cultural differences that would explain this kind of behavior, right? It wasn’t my companion or anyone I’ve ever written– this person had gone in & taken out a tie he wanted to borrow, & then he ended up not wearing it. His companion said, to stir the pot, “He was just using it as an excuse for what he was actually looking for.” I do not understand– honestly, I’m just confused. Anyone have any personal experiences with such strangeness?
I should’ve expected that the Saturday after Thanksgiving was going to be the equivalent of Black Friday for the food drive. (By the way, if anyone’s been wondering, it IS, in-fact, the Utah Food Bank we’re doing this volunteer work for.) We started with the usual rigamarole of being reminded never to take from anyone else’s food piles, always check that people have stamps on their hands, don’t let any cutting occur, keep the line moving, help people who are struggling to carry things but don’t make them lazy (they ARE getting hand-outs, after all), don’t let people into the bathroom (the coordinator said, “I know you are missionaries, & you cannot say no.”), & don’t leave until all two hours are up & everything has been cleaned. Because apparently, some “volunteers” leave shortly after picking out food for themselves. Which I don’t even want to think about– that just makes me mad. BUT ALAS, it is the risks we run when wearing our… food… on our sleeve. (What?)
The amount of food that showed up on towering palettes was rather overwhelming– it always is, but– okay, so, everyone in the line got an entire cardboard box of yogurt. Which was half the size of the cardboard boxes they were lugging around already– & of COURSE you give that to them in the middle of the line, when the cardboard box is already entirely full. & everyone was getting multiple squashes, & those things are easily the weight of a fully-grown pumpkin. (Which I know from having lugged around that Jesus Christ produce sculpture around like my baby.) & then everyone was getting at LEAST ten corn-on-the-cobs each. I remember, as we bagged those & found a veritable mountain forming, one of the elders screamed, “This has GOT to be enough corn to feed the whole world already, right?!” & yet, it’s not– the mountain disappears in less than two hours. The masses that come through wrap around the parking lot every week, without fail. People need help! Probably more than we know.
Anyway, the weight of this mad dash through this line of generosity is… uh, it’s heavy. Yeah, that’s the word. I step in a little awkwardly as I see one of these people struggling to stay upright, & say, “Can I help?” — which they normally can’t understand, because they don’t speak English. But I just do it, anyway, followed by surprised smiles from people in the line. One time, one of them almost forced me to put the box down, because they could see it was a bit of a workout for me. I’m fairly certain that the rough translation was, “IT IS HEAVY, BROTHER.” Even the other missionaries kept checking with me, “You got this, elder? You’re sure, now?” But I shook my head, & felt a little like Elder Bailey fighting his way to the cashier’s for my birthday. “LET ME HELP YOU.” This kind of service is within my general capability, so I’d better do it! Unless someone puts a box down right in-front of my feet as I’m walking by. That was dangerous. BUT THE YOGURT WAS ALRIGHT! *stock-audience cheer*
 
Afterwards, it was a serious labor simply to lift my hands to put a spoonful of rice in my mouth.
 
But we suddenly got a call from the sisters (Sister Alexander & Sister Manaea [Sister Manaea actually comes from my stake back home!]) to help clean up someone’s house.
We called Elder Landrith & Elder Frizzell to see if they wanted to help out, & it turned out they were already helping someone move out of a house, & they could really use some help, too.
 
We couldn’t pick between the two, so we called the sisters back & asked if they wanted to help out with the elders first. &, of course, they were all gung-ho. :  )
 
The move-out was for a John & Joy Miller, a recently-married older couple. The first thing I noticed were the tall boxes full of blueprints– John has spent most of his life designing airplanes. He also had a very, very heavy piece of slate, which is apparently perfectly flat to 1/30th of an inch. (Because that kind of exactness is crrruucial in his field!)
 
John expressed that he’d wanted to serve a mission as a boy, but when he was told he’d be waiting six months, he said, “Sorry, fellas, I’ll be in the navy by then.” On his navy mission in China, though, he noticed some missionaries walking along the dock. He waved them down & asked them, “Say, boys, when was the last you had an old-fashioned home-cooked meal?” One of them was from Kentucky & looked to be as far out of his comfort zone as one could be. They graciously accepted, & boarded for a meal. John recounted, “I’m pretty sure the one from Kentucky ate two whole chickens by himself. Wish I could’ve let them proselytize among my men…”
 
John apparently was next-door neighbors to Joy, but they’d never really formally met for years. Until he got electrocuted. John said, “Joy came into the hospital to see how I was doing every day, with big bowls of fresh watermelon. & she… just took good care of me. & I told myself, if she’d have me, first opportunity I got, I’d marry her.” I looked at the two of them, grinned & said, “Good choice.” Without missing a beat, John enthusiastically agreed, “Oh, yes, good choice. Best choice.”
 
Joy went around leaving snarky remarks with everyone, labelled every box four times on four sides with stickers with “Cali” written on them in red marker (that’s where they’re moving!), she made sure their cat Bieber didn’t get into any mischief… she made me in specific handle all her toiletries. (Blush. Very blush.) Also, she packed away one book for the trip, which she said her brother wrote. It was called Things I’ve Learned from Ignorant People. Elder Landrith opened to a random page, & read aloud, “I was grateful I brought my skill saw along.” I could not stop laughing. I’ll have to read this book some day.
 
We rushed over to the other house– which I’d already went to once before! We’d made a cool heart-peace-sign thing out of Christmas lights for the lady who lives there. I haven’t met her, & I’m uncertain if I ever will– but… her house is already indicative enough of who she is for me to feel like I have met her. Apparently, some of her family was part of a mob? Her house is covered with large movie posters (one that’s actually signed by Uma Thurman, of all people, for Batman & Robin, of all films.), perfectly preserved butterfly from Japan, some very expensive-looking statues & sculptures, & there this table with a very fine tapestry underneath that looks like it dates back to feudal Japan. Also, there’s a rotary phone that talks to you if you pick it up. :  ) & two human-sized poodles! OuO At any rate, vacuuming & dusting such a house is quite the debacle. Worried that if you knock something over, you might have to become an indentured servant for life to pay it off.
 
Also, earlier in the week, we went over to a man named John Small. He’s apparently known more as THE John Small in the mission, because everyone is aware of him. He’s a very sour-looking Asian-Latino with the voice & attitude of Patton Oswalt. He was in the middle of talking with this lady named Flower about fixing his Wi-Fi– he kept saying, “I’m just in the middle of chatting with Flower, she’s my new best friend, we’re talking about really exciting things.” :  ) He gives everyone nicknames– Sister Manaea was Sister Moana, Elder Bingham was Elder Bingbong, Elder Quinnelly was Elder Quigley Down Under, Elder Clements was Mark Twain (figure THAT one out!)… so he looked at Elder Boccazzi & me, & said, within a mere moment of vacillation, “Elder Sonobello & Elder Focaccia Bread.” We have now been bequeathed with the honour of being nicknamed by The John Small.
 
John had been renting out his downstairs to some very disrespectful, slovenly neighbours who completely ransacked the whole place before he left. We were there to salvage what we could from the wreckage, completely repaint everything, & also wash off the… chalk?… (John said it was chalk, but I maintain it was “washable” marker & nail polish.) that was all over the walls & doors from the child[ren] living down there. I have never gone through so many Mr. Clean Magic Erasers so quickly. Those things were practically disintegrating in my hands. Then I cleaned out the edges of the windows, which… had open Jolly Ranchers all up in there. :  ) … I noted you’d have to work PRETTY hard to do this damage.
There was a disgusting beast of a couch downstairs that would never have fit through the door, so the elders & sisters literally took an axe to it & went to town, figuratively. (I dunno, was John’s house in town?) & then, while everyone was pre-occupied with their barbaric regression to senseless destruction, I was trying to carry a very large & heavy mattress frame up the stairs by myself. I got to the top stair, too, before someone intervened! So I’d say I did what was asked of me.
 
In my apartment, I am now the only non-Spanish speaker out of four people. Strangely enough, Elder Boccazzi (His first name is Lucio, which means bringer of light! Apt. Also, Guac Squad of Light.) & I now have a Spanish speaker to visit with. Yes, in the Tongan ward. No, she’s not Tongan at all. See, there’s this Spanish girl named Yami (a name which honestly sounds Japanese) who recently joined the church, but all the girls in her Spanish ward were mean & catty to her, for whatever inane reason. You know, things are never perfect. But all of her closest friends are Tongan– so it just felt like the right fit, & she got permission to attend permanently.
Her mom Luisa, who only speaks a little English, has really loved coming with her, even though she’s a little apprehensive of what Catholic-to-the-grave husband would think about her becoming a member. But, because of what she’s felt, Luisa still wants to know more, regardless.
So, what kind of timing is that– for Elder Boccazzi to arrive just in time to get that all sorted out, in the right wrong language? Funny additional coincidence: Luisa’s best friend at church is also named Luisa, she also speaks Spanish, & she is the president over the women’s organization. Even the bishop’s wife speaks Spanish. What a strangely Spanish Tongan stake. (Come to think of it, the person we just visited tonight is Spanish, too… WHAT’S GOING ON?! Am I just destined to serve my mOm’s mission?)
Elder Boccazzi is also my first companion to at least admit a SMIDGEON of musical talent. He still won’t say he sounds good, but, better than nothing. I was getting fed up with the constant denial! Also, the phonetics of Spanish are near enough to Tongan for him to SING HIMIS (HYMNS) WITH MEEE– I was a little bummed, because Elder Bailey could only garner enough courage to sing in English. (But he was bein’ brave.)
Another funny tangential memory of Elder Bailey: one time, the bishop’s wife bought a big to-go box of Tongan food for us, because she erroneously thought that he was his last companion, who had a hankering for Tongan cuisine. When we got home, he laid his entire meal aside, & made a peanut-butter-&-jelly sammich. I can think of nothing quite as white.
I learned quickly about the language compatibility– Elder Boccazzi & I attended one of the ward’s weekly missionary correlations, & you can’t go through any meeting with Tongans without singing at LEAST two songs, hahaha. I shared my sheet music with him, & he took to it like nothin’. Afterwards, our elderly Ward Mission Leader (who I have heard speak two sentences of English) smiled with great pride & shot a firm two-thumbs-up to us.
Then we prayed, & then we prayed again, but on our knees. We did not know the reason for the second prayer until after– the ward council has a weekly fast, & they were just ending it. Then they gave us food. So many much food. It sure was a missionary correlation.
Elder Boccazzi comes from a rugby-passionate people, so… perhaps that actually does make him the more Tongan[-er] of the two of us? He even played [touch] rugby with the youth at church, & outran all these beefy boys like it was nothin’. Mate ma’a Tonga, anyone? (With my limited understanding of sports, foreign or otherwise, I believe this statement immediately cranks up the entire stake to 11.)
In a sort of reversal of last year’s debacle, which had prospects begin to miraculously turn around the very day I arrived, the very last Sunday Elder Bailey & I were together, we somehow got so many referrals, we could barely write them down fast enough. I believe strongly that attitude makes all the difference, (It IS the only thing one has control of) & things can always be fine in the circumstances you’re in if you insert a healthy dose a’ hope & positivity. I made a promise to myself that, whatever happened, whatever strong opinions I was smashed against, I’d maintain that Good could still be done, & everyday miracles are everywhere, if you’re Paying Attention.
Before I left my first area, I bore my testimony in church (in that way I do), & I felt really nervous & a tad silly doing it (as I probably will continue to), but almost immediately after we got back home, we received a call from someone talking about “that one elder’s testimony”, & how it had inspired them to refer a loved one to us. I never saw that through, but… I never saw Hope Smith through! Or Solstice! But I was there for the things I was supposed to be there for. Another thing I promised to myself was, regardless of what’s happening– if things change at the beginning, or at the end– I’d just do what it is that can, whatever it is I know that I can try, & call it good. The miracles happen in Time, & always unexpectedly. So… gotta enjoy it for whatever it is… that it is, at the time! Because it’ll always, always change. Even when you think it won’t, it will. Often, right as you leave, hahah. 😉 Nothing wrong with that!
My glasses are currently being held together with Scotch tape. All I did was take off my glasses to take a shower, put it back on, &… everything fell apart. The springy part on the inside of the arm (they’re called arms, right?) detached. It cannot be fixed by that little eye-people place at the Wal-Mart. They were my only hope. :’ ( Also, I did not shave very well that night, so I went to bed with tissue paper wrapped all the way around my chin like some really terrible late Halloween costume. I felt like all kinds of a mess. I think I have finally earned my next game-style Achievement.
It’s making me think of the most important experiences of my current stage of adulthood. It was the first week I spent with my best friend Lottie & her fiancée (YEEUH BOI) Jesse. After spending a moonlit night water-bending in Jesse’s family’s backyard… just about the same thing happened! I took off my glasses to take a shower, put it back on, & everything fell apart! The mustard-seed-sized screw (How’s that for a sly Gospel reference?) popped out & skittered into the cracks in the linoleum like it had been planning a getaway for months. With only one lens in, I had some weird inverse-eyepatch thing going on. What a cool trend, get in on my high fashion.
Jesse & Lottie came to the rescue, as I could barely see, unless I winked, & even then, that made my depth perception lousy, & I couldn’t keep my vision stable unless I held the frame up like some gentlemanly monocle. Jesse picked up the screw with a victory cheer, delicately pinched between his thumb & pointer… only for that to become a catapult mechanism that sent it further into the depths of the liliputian landscape of the hardwood floor. Through my bad vision, I could see Lottie & Jesse on hand & knee, picking at the ground for dear life. I honestly couldn’t think of anything that a friend had done that was that astoundingly kind, up to that point.
Well, they followed it up by guiding me by the arm through the dark over the uneven orchard ground back to Lottie’s house. I was very helpless, I needed this in a very real way, & I knew they would keep me safe & solve this problem, somehow. (Lottie’s father-in-law, Joe, as a Joe-of-all-trades, HAD THOSE TERRIBLY TINY SCREWDRIVERS ON-HAND.) My heart was going to pop, I swear. This somehow exceeded that initial kindness tenfold. Everything had already been beyond what I was capable of comprehending, in my earnest journey for friendship. It was then I knew that, in a very literal way, that I could trust them with my life. To this day, I’m still astounded by what they did for me, & all they continue to do for me.
Speaking of, thank You for what You have done for me, & all You continue to do for me. You give my life its colour, to quote Nova. 😉
You are great, you are awesome,
sKye (eLder sOnomura)

Let’s jus’ make sure everyone’s gotten all 21 ‘tachies. Also, reminder: if anyone here isn’t allowed in due to being in this GMail mess without a GMail, just send me another e-mail. (Sorry, GMail small-kine rules the world.)

Oh– tidbit of context, first video is for my mOm, since she asked me to explain my chords for one of my arrangements, &… I couldn’t, HAHAHA. The one musical number near the top with Elder Bailey is from a visit we had with a family after praying to find someone nice that night. (It’s a worthy thing to pray for, I tells ya!) The father, at the end, said, “The past year has been rough since being divorced, & no one has come to say hi. You are the first. I needed this, very much.” I was so preoccupied thinking about them as I left that I full-on collided with the glass door. Good way to end the night!
21
Dec
17

elderSkyeSonomura_operationValidation_massemail.part053

(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!)

 
>> trace var elderSkyeSonomura_operationValidation_progress;
369 / 720
 
>> function percentAge
   {
var.converttoNum x= 100 == varB;
trace varB.roundNum += “%”;
run.saveMe;
   }
>> elderSkyeSonomura_operationValidation_progress.percentAge;
51%
Save your progress? [ Y / N ]
>> Y
I’ve been accumulating a large pile of artsy-fartsy photos, & I think turning this e-mail’s attachment portion into a Galleria is fitting. :  ) There’s ONE person I’d love to add to this gallery, but… I never got any visual evidence of this one girl’s 2-D Disney-caliber art… if you look up “FlipBug Productions”, I believe you’ll find it! She was, like, auctioning it off at a chili cook-off, &… it was WORTH auctioning! Whoa!
Actually, I just realized our Halloween mass-mail ended with an odd image attachment I didn’t explain. In the formative days of the Guac Squad of Light, our cell-phone (at the time, an indestructable mid-2000s-style slide-phone, now replaced with a less indestructable smartphone) fell into our comfy chair. (Every house has to have the Comfy Chair!) We kept calling the phone, & we kept feeling the comfy chair vibrate, in turn, but we could not pinpoint the whereabouts within. So we elders cut open the bottom of this ancient relic of the mission. (Which was actually something we were supposed to do, anyway, to ensure no return of bed-bugs! Oh, bed-bugs. I feel like I’m seven years old again…)
From within the belly of this upholstered beast, I nabbed about a dollar’s-worth of change, two pens, a tube of Burt’s Bees, a fidget spinner, a ring, &… … well, the picture at the end of the Halloween mass-mail. It sits at my bedside. I mean, we’re living in homes that are normally reserved for senior citizens– I’d be very interested to know if someone could figure an estimate on how old this picture is. Even moreso, it’d be crazy to know who these winsome-looking pups on the trike are. (I have to admit, the boy in-front with the itty-bitty leather jacket looks like Elder Frizzell… how long has he been 18?)
This reminds me– have any of you tried to prank call me? While I was out on exchanges months ago, at precisely 3:14pm, someone called my area phone in Grantsville. The message was extremely hard for Elder ‘Ita to decipher, but it was a mumbly-sounding man who was looking for “Skye”– not Elder Sonomura. & he was trying to sell this “Skye” some “ink”? At any rate, I tried multiple times to call this number back, but it’s a number that doesn’t go to voice mail after a certain number of rings– I left the phone going for 30 minutes once, to test it… it just kept goin’! The number’s location seems to be coming from inside a church building. Clever boy, you can’t be tracked. But I am equal to this challenge.
The first person to friend me on Facebook who wasn’t a missionary was David– also known as the first person I ever met with & shared of the Joy that I hold dear. David’s been in my heart this whole mission, & he’s not going anywhere. It was only within a 24-hour period that he found me, too– fast worker, yikes! I should aim to find people as quickly as David. He messaged me that he was nervous, because he was about to meet with the stake president for… well, he honestly didn’t know.
Come the next day, & he’s sent me this video (where he’s talking with… hiiiiiis friend? Mm-friend who’s a girl? Anything you’d like to update me on, David? ;)) announcing that he’d been asked to speak about how he became a member of the Church in our Stake Conference. He then shrugged & made a crazy face to get out the nerves. (First time I saw him, I never would’ve expected him to be such a goof. He has some of the greatest faces in the game, though.)
One of David’s strengths is speaking from the heart– it’s a gift he gives of very freely. So– I’m sure it was a talk worthy of, say, having a repeat at TED. Also, it’s more than a little weird to think David was talking about Elder Gee & I. … … But then again, I talk about David a lot, so. … I suppose we’re even.
It was rather difficult to bare my testimony here in the Tongan wards. No, not because of that. Or that. It’s because they are testimony-baring beasts. Any ordinary ward I’ve been in will always have that lull where everyone’s debating whether or not to take that walk up, & that’s where I’d normally strike. You can NOT do that here– you charge that stage, or you’re done for. After two church sessions in a row where I found myself being deprived of this sacred opportunity to share, I ran for my life up from the back of the building (they always have to open up the building to the gymnasium overflow seating a few rows back, so many people!) to the front. I started by saying, “I’ve now realized there is no lull in testimony meeting here. Is there any thing the Tongan wards aren’t better at? That’s inspiring.”
Then I may or may not have subtly mentioned how much I love David. As one does.
A little after me, a lady in the front row, who I’d noticed was staring at me kind of agape the whole time, walked hesitantly up to speak. She said, “I didn’t want to come up, I didn’t. But I was touched by this elder’s testimony, & his enthusiasm, & his love. My first thought was, ‘Who’s this kid?’ But then I saw the nametag. & him running up like that just made me realize how ungrateful I was being. My daughter just left for her mission less than a week ago. She’s my oldest. My first to leave home. It’s so hard, but I’m also so proud. I know the Gospel has helped us get this far, & will continue to strengthen us.”
Later on, as we passed each other in the hallway, she caught us & said her family had signed up to feed us next Sunday. (It was porkchops, which is apparently all Elder Bailey’s family ate on Sunday!) I said how excited I was for her daughter, asking, “Where’s she serving?” She said, “In a week, she’ll be in Sacramento.” My mouth skewed incredulously, & I asked, “Not Spanish-speaking, by any chance? My mOm was Sacramento Spanish-speaking on her mission.” But no, Sariah’s speaking English… all the same, what a lot of synchronicity right there. Even her NAME– that’s where my sister’s name comes from! (Though I was fully-expecting her name to be S-O-R-I-Y-A or some variant. That’s more… Utah.)
When I went to my next Sunday school class, a man shook my hand & said, “Hey, Elder Forrest.”
I cracked up & said, “Wait, did you just say Forrest? Like, Gump?”
The man shrugged. “You ran, didn’t you?”
Warning: talking about religion!
After some musical rehearsal with Elder Frizzell (I have now recorded for the mission album! The normal recording process was so foreign to me. How does anyone let other people they barely know record & edit them? Leaves way too much to chance, I only trust myself & my family!!), we were about to leave, but then a family in the church building invited us to get food from their twins’ birthday. (One boy, one girl, the decorations were Mickey & Minnie-themed! I would’ve done Luke & Leia, probably, hahaha. Or, uh… Phil & Lil.)
Just as we recommitted ourselves to leave, a man who spoke stilted Engish in a Spanish accent asked us if we happened to have any consecrated oil on us, to give a blessing. Thankfully, I bring absolutely everything with me absolutely everywhere. Then, he asked if Elder Bailey & I could do the blessing– for this eensy-weensy girl who… might not have been old enough to say anything or perhaps wasn’t feeling up to speaking. The man spoke with this girl’s parents in Spanish, then told us, “Okay, thank you, elders, go ahead.”
We had no clue anything about anything that was going on, besides this girl (Nicoleta) needing a blessing of healing. & yet, rather specific words came. In spite of the communication barrier… (Could Nicoleta even understand any English? Could her parents?) … they seemed visibly moved, & shook our hands, wordlessly, nodding & smiling in gratitude. & to think we were trying to leave only to have this opportunity present itself to show forth such unexpected Love! Golly gee.
Done, thank you for your understanding!
On the same day I got to meet the Nathans (who were actually the Ulimas), I went to dinner at… McDonald’s! I know, I know, it’s a little out of my price range, but I felt it was appropriate to treat myself… just a little. & once again, an unexpected opportunity arose to help. A lady carrying two Frappes accidentally stumbled away from the cashier’s & one of her cups, topped to the top with whipped cream, capsized. She ran to a table, embarrassedly, placed her cups there, then ran to the bathroom. All the… Frappe?… all of whatever it’s called started to run down the end of the table & onto her seat.
I grabbed fistfuls of napkins, with my temporary companion Elder Bowie, & sopped up the Frappe. Then we swiped up the drip down the seat. When the lady got back, she started to thank us, then she picked up her other cup, & the froth off the top flinked frothy specks in every direction & got all over my suit. The lady, horrified, started to try to wipe it off me. Meanwhile, this real-life gag was too perfectly played out. I just started to laugh uncontrollably. She said, “Sorry, I’m a mess.” I don’t know why she kept apologizing, I was obviously having a great time.
She stepped out before I could say much else besides, “No problem at all.” But this one Spanish family across from us kept looking at us as we ate our meal. They just kept smiling at us. Good thing I’m used to being stared at, huh?
This McDonald’s had bathroom doors that have to be unlocked by staff members. As we were about to leave, I noticed this boy who was trying in vain to get the door open, putting all his might into it. I went up to the desk & gestured to him. Just as the boy was about to tromp off with his white flag, I effortlessly converted the door into a movable walkway. TAH-DAH. The boy, in complete shock, turned to me & asked me, “Are you magic?” Which I’m not, & I said so. But the moment was pretty magical!
Then we received a breathless phone call from two other missionaries asking to be saved from a bear-sized dog.
High-speed chases & excitement of that ilk aside, there’s been a lot of opportunities for art. This kid named Andre’k (have fun pronouncing that!) was playing basketball, but began to hover over me drawing a picture for my rapidly departing Guac Squad of Light (attach’d below… oh, speaking of, I’m staying, Elder Bailey’s leaving tomorrow, WAAAH–). Andre’k asked me, in a similar tone to that kid at McDonald’s, “Are you an artist or something?” Then, as a follow-up question, he asked, “Can you draw me Kapodd?”
… Well, that’s what I heard, at least. When he repeated himself, I said, “Excuse me, did you say Cuphead? Like, the video game?”
Cuphead kind of looks like Mickey Mouse, except with a cup… for a head. Anyway, of all the esoteric things for a boy to ask me to draw, randomly picked out of some bag, I… definitely knew how to draw Cuphead for him. (Thanks in no small part to such amazing friends like Jack, on this fine mass-mailing list.) So I did! & it was probably a good time to have done so. His siblings were picking on him for one reason or another– didn’t look like he was having much fun. But the art shall outlive the moment!
Elder Bowie, my temporary companion/district leader, gave each of us pumpkins to carve (well, it kept auto-correcting to “crave”, actually) on Halloween. I did not carve then. Because I knew any of my gourd-related aesthetic ambitions would prevent me from doing literally anything else for a while. But, with the winter approaching & the pumped-kin still in stow, I decided to take my dinky bargain-bin not-quite-a-tooth-pick-not-quite-an-ice-pick &… make my very first Jack-o’-Lantern of all-time. (Well, really, only people named JACK can make a Jack-o’-Lantern… come to think, what IS the etymology there?)
Warning: talking about religion!
We were watching a live broadcast from LDS.org as I scraped off scraps, & in perhaps THE most synchronicitous moment I’ve experienced in a while, I heard one of the apostles quote a scripture that I’d been specifically thinking about the entire time I was nervously chipping away at an image of some One that means all of Life to me.
Back home, my mOm has always kept a painting up that she rendered of Jesus Christ’s face. It’s always been my very favourite picture of Him– probably because he’s actually legitimately SMILING, for once. (No vague Mona Lisa mug…) She mentioned she’d done it while thinking about Doctrine & Covenants, Section 88, verse 68:
“… The days will come that you shall him; for he will unveil his face to you, & it shall be in his own time, & in his own way, & according to his own will.”
It was rather surreal to hear someone recite what had been my heart’s mantra whilst staring fixatedly at this… well, this pumpkin. It made me smile, & it kept up artistic morale. There’s no eraser in produce sculpture (eep), I should’ve went a little deeper (nooo), the right eyebrow is almost entirely gone (whoops), but I hope it’s clear how much it all means to me.
Done, thank you for your understanding!
I became Facebook friends with my mOm’s best friend on her mission– & have attached some memories we shared, right before I started writing you! Besides that, I shall attach these mixed-media marvels without context. Art is awesome, context or no!
You are great, you are awesome,
sKye (eLder sOnomura)
30 attachments is too many, apparently! I have tested the limits of GMail as we know it. Lezz’ reopen the Galleria.



Advertisements