Archive for the 'operationValidation' Category

09
Oct
17

elderSkyeSonomura_operationValidation_massemail.part046

(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 know I left you friendly friends on a cliffhanger– my life is quite the compelling story. The good news is… my life has continuity! SO. Cliffhanger resolved: We drove in a tizzy, with a mentally weighty silence, & did, indeed, get to Dakota in time. She was wearing overalls, & seemed as cheery as ever. I mean, one time, she opened up her door & dramatically/awkwardly gestured to every thing behind her & said, “Hello! Welcome to my humble abode~”) There appeared no visible difference between her then & her now. The more I try to remember the moment, the more I think Dakota must just be particularly skilled at pretending to be happy. & that isn’t a happy thought. I handed her our calendar– which was now null-&-void. As much as I’d like to think Dakota has used it in the past two weeks, that just doesn’t seem like a reasonable thin’k to thin’g, haha…
Dakota looked down, smiled, took a deep breath, & then wordlessly gave us each a big hug which seemed to say the most of all. Elder ‘Ita asked if we could take a picture together– & she chuckled & asked, “What, am I famous now?” She did her trademark intentional dorky dance moves as I got out my camera. It made me think of when I’d eaten with the Fullmers, & Rather Be by Clean Bandit started to play over the radio, & we sang & danced to it together. & here, she was acting like she was ready to go to another dance lesson– not getting ready to be torn away from her home… I wish I could be that fun when I’m feeling bad. It took a lot just to smile, let alone dance. We both said we loved her as we left, & to take care of herself– & please, please don’t be a stranger. We had, after all, just told her to keep our number in the move. Odd– this is normally reversed for us. People tell US not to keep in touch. But, what can I say, Dakota’s special.
The absence of Dakota has been hard on everyone. The lessons that Dakota’s grandparents attend tend to be tailored to teaching values of Christlike parenthood, & since our teacher had no clue of what had happened in the past week, he continued on with that set plan. Sister Fullmer is always emotional in class, but it was just too much– or as a lot of us might’ve been thinking, in the natural, too late. She had to excuse herself. We had dinner with her best friend Marlee the other day. (She’s really big into drawing, so I did a little exercise with her on her tablet.) Much to our surprise, one of the first things Marlee produced, as we entered, was a card that Dakota had mailed to her in the past week. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a fourteen-year-old send one of those to another fourteen-year-old without having been so much as asked to. Inside joke after inside joke (shout to “midnight mac n’ cheese”) filled the excited writing on the inside, & despite it having been only a week when the letter was sent, it was inundated with a million “I miss you”s. & the feeling, I know, is mutual, for Marlee, for Marlee’s mom (and/or Dakota’s “other mom”), for Brother & Sister Fullmer, for us, for the ward, for Grantsville…
… Even stranger– I found out while eating with Marlee that I’d eaten at her house before– before Dakota had arrived. I still can’t quite concede that this was so through recollection alone. I even said, when I saw Marlee at Dakota’s house, “Nice to meet you!” Now, Marlee’s entire family is very dear to me, so– I don’t see how an entire dinner could be so easily misplaced in memory. As far as I’ve figured, Dakota seems to have made a LOT of things– a lot of PEOPLE– important to me in a way they never could’ve been. I’ve heard talk that she might sneak back up here for a haircut every now & again. & I will continue to hope for more. & hope for her.
It can seem like such an impossibility to find hope when free-falling face-first into the uncontrollable future, for what are we to do? Both of us Grantsville missionary companionships went over to help out in Sister Holm’s yard. Elder ‘Ita got out of the car first, & by the time I’d pulled my work gloves out, I saw that Sister Holm & Elder ‘Ita were standing very still in the middle of the driveway, with their arms around each other. I could hear her recounting some grisly details about some kind of accident as I walked up. In a collision on the road, Sister Holm’s younger sister & a few others had died. She whispered, in disbelief & reverence, “I just can’t believe it… My little sister… it just doesn’t make sense.” Only one in this accident had survived– it honestly defies all odds that she DID, considering there was a laceration in her artery. All her family & all the members of her church had been fasting & praying up a spiritual shelter over her. Sister Holm kept repeating that this one lady was still alive, & that she would be able to leave the hospital soon, seemingly to remind herself of what had not been lost, at this juncture.
Sister Holm has shared a lot of her hardships– in seeing her daughter be mistreated in relationships to losing her husband to taking care of her husband’s parents up to their passing, & currently trying to make her own elderly mother happy in this outset of her life here. & yet, she never says any of these things without hope– it’s one of the most incredible things I’ve ever been witness to. She says she takes a few moments to cry every now & again, & then takes courage to carry on, & to carry forth good spirits into whatever lies ahead in the present moment. Somehow, through some strength I cannot at this time comprehend, in the fresh emotional wounds of this, Sister Holm took a breath & took a look around, & recounted that she & her mother had taken a drive out to a lake nearby. (She actually just bought a car that her mother had personally picked out, because she likes to take drives. Some relatives criticized her for wasting money on a car that her mother can’t even drive herself, & they made a huge stink about where it’s going later, but… hey, if taking rides in it makes her that happy, isn’t that fully worth it?…) She said that a lot of folks say the lake is an ugly eyesore, but she said that the fall colours were vivid & alive with variety as she drove past, & she just had to take a moment to appreciate the immense & overwhelming beauty of the world we’re in.
Can you believe this sister– this… this certified angel? What a big thing to do… to choose to fall into mercies instead of miseries. It makes me think of this talk that this lady named Sister Bigelow gave shortly after Elder ‘Ita & I played our number in conference. She started by stating her full name, & explained with pain that even the very fact that her mother took part in naming her makes it difficult to say out loud. She spoke very candidly of the pains of growing up with a mother who had abandoned her as a child. She tried, at first, to fight this by disowning her in her heart, but found that, as she became a mother herself, she yearned to make this right. But every time she’s reached out to her mother, she’s been turned down, again & again. There have been many times where relief & resolution seemed like a lost cause. But in closing, she recounted a night where she was spinning around the room with her little boy, in an attempt to amuse him & keep him from being fussy. As she took that moment to really take in every last detail about her child, she found herself saying out loud, “Look at him, Heavenly Father. Isn’t he perfect? Isn’t he just so cute? Isn’t he everything anyone could ever want?” As she looked into her child’s eyes, she felt an undeniable impression speak back to her in her heart.
“This is how I feel about You.”
When we slipping on an inescapable path to certain sadness, we can redirect ourselves, by setting our sights to those things of joy, & help, & healing.
All this stuff about familial love makes me think of a dinner we had with a Robinson family. I was excited to eat with them right off the bat because I thought that Sister Robinson had an excellent name– April Sunshine. How beautif’lly brilliant is that?! Anyone with a name like that I instantly want to know. We spent a great deal of time just talking with their son, Hunter. One of the first things he did was run straight up to me, look me in the mouth (don’t look an elder in the mouth), & asked with sincere curiosity, “YOU have a loose tooth, too?!” I grinned & explained that mine was just out-of-place from when I was his age & wanted to be like the “cool big kids” who were taking turns jumping off a stage.
Hunter said he wanted to take after his father’s animal biology work & be the “smart science idea guy,” & when asked what his favorite animal was, he listed off all the names of the animals he owned. I was half-expecting him to end by saying, “&… mommy & daddy!” As we talked in his backyard, he elaborately pantomimed the floor plan of his dream playhouse, gesturing to & using each part of it. He tried to run up the side of a wall by using his porch swing. He asked us how angels walk on clouds without falling through, & said that, one day, he wanted to be a missionary, & “walk to God,” because he missed Him. When he was through sharing with us, he chatted up his Hoto bunnies. (Which have eyes that resemble those of an Egyptian pharaoh!) He was basically in his own world, & loving it.
I talked with them a little about Dakota, & the story sparked them to share that Hunter was, in-fact, adopted. Which I would’ve never guessed, since he looks like a seamless blend of both Brother & Sister Robinson. Sister Robinson squeezed her Hunter & looked at him intently, saying, “Remember, we picked you very specifically. We went, ‘No, no that one… no… no, no…'” She then pointed at Hunter & hugged him again. “‘Yes!’” They fought for Hunter for years, & Sister Robinson had to go to insane lengths to finally have him for her own– she followed the Spirit, & had to be truly bold to make it happen. The emotional pregnancy of this waiting time must’ve almost torn the Robinsons apart. But they said that Hunter is the only one that ever really made it feel like home for them, & so it was to be. Hunter & Sister Robinson got into a love-match, as they attempted to outdo each other on proclamations of devotion.
Hunter said, “I love you more than the HIGHEST STAR.”
Sister Robinson said, “I love you more than even that.”
 
As Hunter gathered his wits to formulate his comeback that included some form of “triple-dipple-dooble-pooble-scooble” in it, what I heard in my heart was, “This is how I feel about You.”
We left with a song & a, “Are you going away?!!” from Hunter.
Back near the trial period for utilizing ‘ukulele in proselyting, I mentioned singing with the OTHER elder who plays the ‘ukulele on the Trax. Well, this happened again. The first day of conference, I’d decided not to bring my ‘ukulele along, since I knew they wouldn’t dare let me bring it into the building. But, set apart from the normal outspoken & show-y protesters, there was a group of people standing in a line along the street, singing hymns. Does Elder Sonomura think that music is the best way to destroy contention? Why, yes, yes, he does. As I walked by & sang I Believe in Christ with this congregation, I immediately thought, “It’s worth it to bring my ‘ukulele here tomorrow.”
(Quick side-note: We didn’t have a single set of tickets, & somehow, we ended up going into absolutely every Saturday session. We even GAVE AWAY tickets we got to a group of foreigners, & then got to go in, anyway!)
Elder Wilcox seemed to be thinking the exact same thing, grinning as I slung the ‘ukulele onto my shoulder. He said, “I’m so ready for Trax sing-along, part two.” To & from (& even while walking IN Temple Square), we took turns singing melody, harmonizing, playing, & picking songs. People of all backgrounds sang along with us. Other elders sang along with us! LINH THAI SANG ALONG WITH US– wait, Linh Thai? Again?
He just so happened to have been brought by the other pair of missionaries. At this rate, Linh really IS going to end up being my roadie.
This one gentleman filmed us the entire time, & didn’t say a word. His face was a little hard to read, since he was so focused on holding his camera steady, so I do wonder what he thought of us? I certainly hope he isn’t posting it to the Internet under the some sensationalized controversial title. I DO hope he was planning on sharing it with his loved ones, in the same way that we want to share love. :  )
Passersby came up as we walked around the temple grounds & told me how they’d been truly touched, & that I shouldn’t stop playing my ‘ukulele. Don’t you worry. I don’t… think I could, even if I tried… ?
In total, Elder ‘Ita ran into twenty-one of his relatives at Temple Square. It was Selfie Central– I’m pretty sure he’s Insta-famous right now. (HIlariously enough, no one’s sent any of the selfies he’s taken part in to… him.) As we headed back, Elder ‘Ita stopped by his aunt & uncle’s house. Last time we were there, we stepped in, his uncle Ricky took one look at us, stood right up & said, “Elders! Where’re we eating?” (We went to a Chic-Fil-A where this smile-y man with a heavy speech impediment named Jeffrey worked. He kept insisting that Uncle Ricky owed him money from last time. Uncle Ricky said, “You tell me that EVERY time I come here, buddy!” Jeffrey also kept asking us missionaries if we were “working hard”. Adorable!) So it came as no surprise when Uncle Ricky asked, with a similar straightforwardness, “So, are you going to play a song for us on that thing?” As I got ready, he asked, “What will you be playing?” When I said, “Families Can Be Together Forever,” he responded, “Well. In that case…”
He pulled out his phone & pulled us up on Facebook Live, asking each of us down the line to state our name & where we came from, with the professionalism of a newsreporter. After we finished this song, he immediately looked up intently & said, “Another one.” (ANOTHER ONE.) We did so. He took a deep, relaxed breath in & out. Uncle Ricky seemed appeased. Then he looked up from his phone again. “A last one.” :  ) Anything for Uncle Ricky. I don’t think I’ve ever met such a stoic man who was trying to pretend he wasn’t just like Hunter, asking us to stay.
How DID six people stay in this little white duplex, anyway? After Elder Velez & Elder Wilcox from Wendover left, Elder ‘Ita & I expressed, with a little melancholy, that it felt like we were empty-nesters. My favourite thing about having them around was that Elder Wilcox insisted he pray in the companionship prayer I do every night with my pard’ners. Months ago, he did it once on an exchange with me, & got into it more than any of my own companions have, HAHAHA. (I can still hear him saying, as he laid down into his bed, “MAN, I’m just REALLY FEELIN’ IT tonight. Love you.”) So when he saw Elder ‘Ita & I about to abscond to our bedside to kneel, he hurried over & asked, “Are we having companionship prayer?”
Now THAT was some beautiful harmony. Sharin’ yer’ pray’rs.
(Besides what’s already been elaborated in the text above, below is my next installment of haircut, the cold open to one of my district meetings, some pictures taken during a dinner with the Hill family, & me regretfully telling you, but firmly compelling you, to say goodnight… tooooo meeeeee~)
You are great, you are awesome,
sKye (eLder sOnomura)
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09
Oct
17

elderSkyeSonomura_operationValidation_massemail.part045

(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!)

 
Special note to Ana: This e-mail has a really amazing magic trick in it– that was a part of. This man from the Magician’s Guild named Ryan Loveland (who, if you can believe it, works in the day-time as a jeweler) performed for the Young Single Adults in our church. It’s the second-to-the-last attachment! 8D The MAGIC… of IL-L-L-LUUUSION…
Still talking to Ana: He looked straight at me at the beginning of the show as he said, “You were probably unaware of it, but I’ve been observing all of you since the beginning of dinner, & have already selected each of you for specific tricks I have in mind.” Also, the camera didn’t get turned on in time, but Ryan began by perfectly pronouncing my name. In response, I applauded & lauded him, saying, “Wow, that’s the real magic trick.” That one still boggles my mind. & this was after he burned numbers into his fingerprints, made an image appear on his arm by randomly throwing ashes onto it, & made a card in the deck call someone on their phone. He said he could pronounce it because of his Korean mission.
Conversely, missions are magic!
 
Not even quite sure who I’m saying this next part to: EHHHH… Tough decision here, but, I’m going to put my disclaimer at the top– there’s no place to follow-up to this later– you’ll see why when you get there.
Warning: talking about religion!
This is pretty heady stuff, I have to admit, but it meant a lot to me.
Ryan has been given many opportunities to have a show in Vegas, but really has never felt like it would be good for his family, which is most important to him. Instead, he feels like all of this practice he’s had has been for him to share his talents for free, & to use them to share what’s changed his life. He said, as strangely unreal as everything in this world can become– for he fooled every one of our physical senses in this show– our spirit, as intangible as it may seem, can never be lied to, & is real.
After the show, he invited each of us to do three things.
1) Ask Heavenly Father in prayer, when you’re all by yourself, to know how He feels about you.
In a touching tangent, Ryan said he feels like part of the reason it was absolutely necessary we forgot what happened before this life was so that we wouldn’t miss our amazing Heavenly Parents quite as keenly as we would, otherwise– it’s merciful, for the homesickness would nearly be too much to bear.
2) Have a strong testimony about one thing: the Atonement of Jesus Christ.
3) Really, honestly do whatever it is you can to fix the wrongdoings you’ve done to anyone, then take the sacrament, & see the true change that it makes in you.
I hugged Ryan after the show & told him I felt like this really was what all the practice had been for.
 
Done, thank you for your understanding!
 
FINALLY, to the rest of you fine folk: did you think I was just gonna leave you be, with a single e-mail? Does that sound like me? Remember, I was missing-in-action for a solid week, I’m not about to just let all that goodness go. No, sir, I’m about to make that mess UP. Let me ask you, are you ready to read TWO e-mails in a week? Nope. Nope, you’re not. Or, well, you’re at least as unready as I was for the events that fell into my lap since last we shared in kind. Get ready to receive a lot of words thrown down into your luxurious lap of listening.
 
In our combined Zone Conference, we were asked to share miracles in our area. The rapidly approaching advent of Madison’s baptism had been at the very forefront of my mind. I shared it, making sure to mention that it was “really originally the Hammonds’ miracle,” but they hadn’t been given a chance to recount the tale before their specific calling had ended. After having shared the miracle, Elder ‘Ita felt compelled to share exactly the opposite of a miracle regarding Madison.
He said, “So, the building coordinator messed things up really bad for this wonderful lady. The women scheduled a big conference on the same day, & the people in charge tried to make it right by moving the times for each, but STILL women are coming up to Madison to tell her that they just won’t be able to make it to her baptism, & it’s just… makes me so mad that I want to slash some of these peoples’ tires.”
Elder ‘Ita started to tremble, so I wrapped my arm around him as he continued. “So my question is… how do you tell someone who’s just starting out– who needs & deserves support… not to care about this sort of stuff? Even though it’s terrible, & it should never happen, & it’s just not fair… how do we do that?”
Sister Palmer turned to President Palmer, & said, completely rhetorically, “Where are we going to be then?”
 
Without so much as blinking, President Palmer responded, “We’re going to be at this woman’s baptism, of course! Who else can make it?”
 
The missionaries who serve in Nevada were the first to volunteer. Elder Wilcox interjected, sheepishly, “Wendover’s free… ?”
 
President Palmer pointed at them to appreciate their prompt response, but said, “Wendover’s probably a little too far. Who else can make it?”
 
Within the next five minutes, every group of missionaries present had raised their hands. Somehow, sharing this terrible news had, in-fact, created a miracle in this very meeting. Go, Elder ‘Ita!
 
We arrived early on the day of Madison’s baptism to set up chairs, practice our musical number, &… emotionally prepare for whatever was ahead. We freaked out a little when it seemed like the programs weren’t going to arrive. Then they finally arrived… but then Madison was nowhere to be found. Which,  in retrospect, we probably should’ve been thinking more about than the programs. Then she arrived with her spouse, & her child, & her bestest friend. (Who could ask for anything more?~) & all was right in the world. Well, just as long as people actually came to the event, like they obviously should.
Only a few moments later, this baptism became standing room only. In his words at the end, the bishop said, “If you were a child, I’d embarrass you by making you standing up on your seat & look back to see all the people who’ve come out to support you, but… … I think you can already clearly see just how many people love you & have made it here just for you. Also, you’re not a child, so you’d probably break the seat if you tried to stand on it.”
We were using the little plastic beige chairs that the little children use in their classes. :  )
When President & Sister Palmer arrived & shared their love with Madison, they both individually came up to us to, first, express how special they could tell Madison was, & second, that they were giving us permission to slash people’s tires now, because they were still super mad about what had occurred. Ah, well, all the most important people were there.
Madison’s best friend was baptized just about a year ago. We later learned that when she’d given her wedding speech as the bridesmaid, she’d forgotten to prepare anything, so the speech was a disaster. This time, when asked to give the talk on baptism, she vowed to prepare, & so, of course, she came with nothing. :  ) … & yet, it was just right. Her best friend said, very matter-of-factly, “I’ve known Madison most of my life now, & she is the most Christ-like person I know. She’s just that kind of person, & it’s obvious to me that she will continue to be an amazing disciple & missionary as she makes this amazing decision today, &… just continues to be herself.” She kept waving her hand in-front of her face to somehow force the tears back into the ducts, to keep from ruining her make-up. (Madison said, after her talk, “The talk was perfect, but it always helps that you’re gorgeous.”)
Right before we were about to sing our requested song, we received a text. It was from Dakota. You know, the girl who got legally adopted by her grandparents? I drew that picture of them together as a brand-new family?
Let me clarify– we got a text from Dakota through her GRANDMOTHER’S PHONE. Ever since she arrived, she’s gotten her cellphone privileges taken away & reinstated almost on a bi-weekly basis. A lot of terrible things seem to happen when she has a phone of her own/phown of her one. A lot of emotional hurt has occurred in her life, & she tends to go back to people that WILL injure or otherwise inflict her when she can broadcast herself. So I assumed the worst, even just from seeing the unsuspecting words, “Hi, this is Dakota” coming from Sister Fullmer’s number. But my worst wasn’t the worst we got.
“Hi, Dakota, what’s up?” Elder ‘Ita texted back.
Shortly afterward, the response popped up: “I’m having to leave to go live with my mom in Sandy. Sorry. Thanks for everything.”
She’d gotten into a bit of trouble in the past week, & the principal here in Grantsville said she was out. It had left everyone with no choice. Elder ‘Ita & I were devastated, & I tried without much success to hold in my tears as I tried also to comfort Elder ‘Ita as unintentional tears hit the cellphone he held with uncertainty. He said, before noticing he was crying, “I can’t believe she’s going.” I held tight to him & said, “No, don’t worry, don’t worry– Heavenly Father’s looking out for her. He looked out for Madison, right? Dakota’s being looked after, everything’s going to be alright.” Elder ‘Ita nodded & nodded & nodded, trying to turn off the leaky faucet in his face. “I know, you’re right… this is just so final… I can’t believe it. She’s, like, my little sister.”
Speaking of sister, someone in my district went home. I didn’t know about it. I still don’t know how to feel. After I had given a training, a sister from another companionship came up & said, “_________ went home, so I’m going to be with Sister Bravo until the end of the transfer.” I’m not only censoring out the name– my mind literally did that when I heard the name. I didn’t hear anything, because I was in shock. I asked, “Who went home?” The sister said, “Sister M–er-g-gn.” It was like I had a vocal jammer in my ear canal. I nodded as if I’d heard what the sister said– but I hadn’t. I had to ask hours later, when my brain began to catch up with the words I’d heard. I was still in shock, much in the same way Elder ‘Ita was. The odd things your brain does to cope, right? What else are you to do, really, when life slaps you upside the head & the day-to-day suddenly has a sharp & stinging upheaval?
As we faced this emotional mixture, we sang. (The video didn’t quite catch that I started by pointing at Madison’s baby boy, & saying, “This one goes out to Wesley.”) It’s the third attachment listed, &, to quote Elder ‘Ita explaining it afterwards, “Everyone kept telling us how powerful it was! But– they don’t even know why I was crying! Okay, well, first, I was okay. I had myself all together again right before we started to sing. I was going to get through it. But then we started, & I was REALLY feeling the Spirit, & then that mixed up with me being worried about Dakota, &… … there was just a lot going on there.” Madison had warned her best friend that, even if she got through her whole talk, she WOULD cry when the missionaries sang. Her best friend didn’t believe her. But we messed up her make-up. HOW COULD WE.
The bishop also talked a little about Madison’s husband, Josh. He told him, “In the past, we’ve talked a little bit about how you never got a chance to serve a mission. … But, Josh– today, you just baptized the most important person. … & you got to hug her & kiss her afterwards, how cool is that?!” LUCKY.
But, of course, as all of this went on, me & Elder ‘Ita were just trying to keep it together. I called Dakota’s best friend’s mom (who Dakota also called “mom” on a regular basis), & I asked if Dakota had left yet. She said she wasn’t sure, but that we should definitely stop in, anyway. Couldn’t hurt anything, right? But Elder ‘Ita was fairly certain that if Dakota was texting from her grandmother’s phone, it must mean she was being given her last goodbyes on the ride back. I wasn’t so certain, & felt like it was especially important to see her for one last “meeting”.
The last lessons had seemed like they were building up to, well, some thing. One had included both grandparents, & had been an attempt to explain why in the world any of this… meant any thing. The only reason any of these people out here in Grantsville wanted to share this love of Christ had to do with… the fact that they loved her. Both Elder ‘Ita & I said that, as funny as it may sound, we really do love her, & we knew so many other people in the room– in the entire community– loved her just as much & even more. & we’ve felt that love from our Father in Heaven– & it’s something we’re desperate to share, along with the true gift in our own lives of the comforting companionship of the Holy Ghost.
Dakota’s grandma squeezed her hand & said, with wavering voice, “There’s a lot of love in this room. Do you know that… my Holy Ghost told me that I was going to raise you. I’d already raised kids, & I thought I was done. I never expected this, but… … my Holy Ghost told me I needed to. That you needed me. That I needed you.”
In the lesson we’d had just the week prior to the baptism, we’d talked about the importance of knowing this for yourself, & how through daily prayer & scripture study, such a thing was honestly possible. We said that by next week’s meeting, we’d create a calendar for her to use to test this out for herself. Even though we were fairly certain we’d have more time, both Elder ‘Ita & I seemed to feel strongly about finishing it early. Not only that, but I felt that I needed to make the calendar extra special– so I drew both of us elders under the week we’d prayerfully prepared. It just didn’t seem right that I wouldn’t be able to personally present this to Dakota, after all this. I had the calendar in my bag as we ended Madison’s baptism… why couldn’t we just… stop by? Just in-case.
Elder ‘Ita was adamant that we needed to know whether or not Dakota was still there or not, & said we should call Sister Fullmer’s number to verify. I was a little wary of doing so– because I wasn’t even really sure who had the phone– but I did it, anyway. (DO IT FOR HER! AGAIN!) Sister Fullmer answered, & urged us frantically, “Boys, you better stop over right now, she’s still packing. You can catch her.” I forgot, have I mentioned Sister Fullmer calls us all “her boys”? Guess a lot of adoption is happening.
See– that’s the part that really keeps the sting in my heart. This was a serious commitment that was being made– Dakota’s last name is LEGALLY changed to Fullmer now. She’s technically no longer with her legal guardians, her family… & that concerns me almost as much as if the terms of this new family are in the process now of being terminated. I don’t want to think about this at all. What I DO know is that won’t change the agreement both Brother & Sister Fullmer made in their hearts.
As we drove to Dakota, I looked over her calendar again. While I didn’t take a picture after having done this, I decided to use the drive to add something to the picture. In-between the sketch of Elder ‘Ita & I, I wrote the words …
… “You are great, you are awesome,”
To be continued,
sKye (eLder sOnomura)
09
Oct
17

elderSkyeSonomura_operationValidation_massemail.part044

(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!)

September 17th is quite the emotionally exhausting day for my companion, Elder ‘Ita. The way he bares his heart has a certain resonance that makes me feel like I shouldn’t really tell his stories in detail, haha. There’s a certain sacredness to a person talking about the death of a loved one that cannot be touched by another. September 17th, 2016, during a heavy downpour on a Saturday (a day the mail NEVER comes), was when Elder ‘Ita’s mission call arrived. September 17th also marks the passing of Elder ‘Ita’s father. Elder ‘Ita prayed for anything– absolutely anything— to make that day a year ago better, & the letter came in the nick of time. It’s been quite the road for Elder ‘Ita to get to this point– as you know it has been for me, too!– & I’m so proud of him for his firm resolve to put his all in every day, in spite of the emotional turmoil that’s still percolating in his family back home, & in his heart. Back around Father’s Day, he was, with good reason, feeling a little melancholy, when someone at church pulled him aside & said, “Elder ‘Ita, today, you might be one of the luckiest missionaries alive.” Elder ‘Ita was almost annoyed by this completely unprefaced interjection of cheer, & asked, “What? What do you mean?” The response: “Today, every missionary’s wishing that they could be with their fathers… meanwhile, YOUR father could be right beside you this very moment.” Elder ‘Ita was so surprised by this realization, all he could do was laugh & cry in response. One thing I DO know: Elder ‘Ita’s dad (whose name is Star– which immediately brings to mind a certain star named Evangeline… & makes me get all teary.) is definitely with us.
my family continues to be mainstays in my dreams, bestowing that classic Sonomura Love™ I’ve been so lavishly granted all my life! Last week, I dreamt I was over at my Grandma Tyau’s house for the holidays (specifically for a week– I kept telling myself, “You, my friend, are a LUCKY missionary. So many would do anything for this, don’t take a moment for granted!”), & my family was there in the living room, & we were chatting it up. Rey’ had strep throat in my dream, just like he did in real life, HAHAHA. He was making funny noises trying to control his voice, which was SHOT. Meanwhile, Nova was having fun trying to match his voice to Rey’s– cause’ Nova’s got that silky-smooth speech now. (He could host night-time radio, which I pointed out in the dream!) Nova was sitting right next to me, & initiated a big group hug by pulling all of us into a little huddle in the middle of the living room, in-front of the Christmas tree. (In real life, my family’s keeping the Christmas tree up until I come back. Such a Me thing to do.) Sonomura Love™. Accessible from any distance. Accept no substitutes.
With the Split of the Stakes (sounds like the title of a really good movie. I’ll have to put that on my list.), there’s been many bittersweet hand-overs. It’s been like stepping in the door to turn straight back around again– but whether you’re there at the beginning or the end of the lessons or both, it’s what it’s meant to be. Just a few weeks after Elder ‘Ita arrived, we received a referral for a Nichole Stokes. Elder ‘Ita stopped by while on Splits & thought it might’ve been some kind of prank address, of which we get more than a few. Elder Gee & I received referrals for two of our own missionaries, as well as for a house that was little more than a cornerstone with the address spraypainted onto it. Another hilarious time for me was going on Splits with Elder Fekete & going to a SCHEDULED APPOINTMENT with no response at the door– then as we turned around, we noticed the windows wide over, & the people on the inside making eye contact with us as we continued to walk away. So it would’ve seemed a little bogus when Elder ‘Ita could’ve sworn that, when he knocked on Nichole Stokes’ door, he immediately heard people run out the back door to the car.
Of course, the last thing we want to do is strain any goodwill & civility when our whole purpose is to show forth Love. So, to confirm the validity of this referral, we called the number of the man who’d referred this lady– who apparently lived in Hawai’i at some point! Mr. Salazar quelled our concerns, said that she was expecting us, & that home life is pretty noisy (which we know now from personal experience to be true) & they probably just hadn’t heard us. He suggested we just text her to set up an appointment. In the response we got from Nichole, there was an obvious excitement– she even brought up feeding us, if we ever needed it! … That sort of prompt kindness, to missionaries you’ve never even met (even among MEMBERS), is a severe rarity.
Only hours before our set appointment, we got a text on our phone from a Sister Pressley. She works at the Hawai’i Visitor’s Center as a temple missionary, & was the one who processed Nichole’s referral for us. She hadn’t met Nichole, but… I suppose she felt something was important about this name, & asked us if we’d had a chance to set up an appointment with her. This also never happens over text. But these two texts solidified that this day was to be a very special one.
When we visited Nichole for the first time, we were thrown off-guard when we found out we weren’t teaching Nichole– we were teaching her two kids, &… someone else’s kid?! Kaya, Kayden, & Skyler were all brought into the living room by Nichole, & as Nichole finished up making dinner, her husband Jesse shook our hands & introduced everyone– & kept them from making too much mischief. & the only thing in my mind is, funnily enough, “… I only brought ONE other set of scriptures, for NICHOLE Stokes. We’re teaching the whole Stokes CLAN– why didn’t I bring, like, at LEAST two? I have a bag big enough to carry small animals in it, what am I thinking?!” So, because of this, now I have two in my bag. It will be important.
Nichole & Jesse made a huge difference in the lesson– it’s basically impossible when a parent wants a child to listen in to the missionaries when they themselves wouldn’t be willing to do anything the missionaries are teaching. (Sounds funny, but it happens a LOT!) They’d both grown up knowing all these things, had a bit of a falling away, but they’ve recently felt this change in their day-to-day when coming to church, & they want to keep that in their family, always. When we talked in our lesson about “feeling the Spirit”– this feeling of Goodness, Love, & Truth– Nichole & Jesse explained it the best: “You know when we went to church the first week we came to Grantsville, & everyone just felt really good & right, & Mom was crying? That was the Spirit!” Simplicity!
Kayden was super quiet for our two lessons, but always had real questions, always strained in earnest to answer OUR questions, was always willing to participate, & was always… trying to correct his sister Kaya, HAHAHA. Kaya, I believe, is related somehow to a certain amnesiac blue tang. (If you know what I mean.) She’ll ask what something means, you’ll tell her what it means, use the same word in your VERY NEXT SENTENCE, & she’ll cut you off with, “What does that mean?” Not only that, but you know how all the cool kids that are really with it do that sweet new “Up high, to the side, down low– too slow!” prank? Kaya would do that same thing, like, SEVEN TIMES every time we’d see her. Either that or she just thought it got funnier every time? I suppose it did, but I heard her say, “Oh, wait, I almost forgot!!” a few times. So that’s that. She also loved to drop cute animals with claws onto us, hang from our limbs, & randomly take our tablets (she’s “grabby” is how her parents put it).
Skyler, their friend, decided to listen in, &… I think he listened the MOST, oddly enough. I don’t know anything about it, but he was just KEYED IN the entire time, & would constantly mention things about God & Jesus Christ that he felt were important in his life. When we talked about The Book of Mormon, Skyler looked at the only copy I’d brought (still not over my lack of thought there), & said, without us even having asked them to read it yet, “Give me a month, I think I can read this.” He was even hesitant to leave us when his parents called him back for dinner! I think Skyler really just enjoys being challenged on an intellectual level– I bet he & Elder Forsyth are really hitting it off for that very reason. I mean, you already know about the fishing days of yore– & Skyler caught the record-weighing trout in the Grantsville Reservoir!… No matter what anyone says, there is NOTHING in the Grantsville Reservoir!
Kayden & Kaya, on the other hand, were most present when we sang or drew. Everyone in the family in the family was into my “oo-ka-lady”. a new pronunciation– I’m gonna remember that one. As I drew the second lesson, Kaya said, “You know, I think you’re going to be one of my favourite missionaries.” The parents were equally on-board– Jesse stared at the completed pages, rotating them like he was trying to decide if this was a magic trick or something that would be exposed in the right light, HAHAHA. He eventually said, “Talk about drawing it out! That is just too cool.” Well, you know who think is too cool? Jesse. When we talked about life after death with the kids, Kaya’s first response was to say, “Did you know, my dad’s MAGIC. He’s come back from the dead FOUR TIMES!” Jesse was pretty quiet about it as he held onto Kaya & Kayden, but Nichole came in & said, “Yes, it’s true. He’s come so close to death so many times– he’s even fallen off a building before. But every time, God has seen fit to bring him back, because it’s not his time.” I looked all around the room & said with certainty, “Oh, he’s definitelyhere for a reason, & so are all of you!”
Warning: talking about religion!
I asked him to say the prayer that night. He accepted, with a “gladly”.
“Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for blessing me so much in my own life. Thank you for sending these young men to our door, & help them as they go out to share these important things that those who receive them will invite them in with kind words & warm hearts. &, God, please help us all… all… all get along & love & care about each other in this life, right now, as a family.”
Done, thank you for your understanding!
Jesse’d been reading from the scriptures diligently, in search of words that he could share with Kaya & Kayden. As I thought about them, I, too, was left wondering what it is that could stick with them, in the way they were put, in the book itself. You can give them all those verses we memorize as a child, but… I found myself thinking, over & over, “I don’t know if the words that I’ve found most dear to me would really be the words they need right now.” We spent a night with another ward’s bishop & his family. Bishop Bartley starts his meetings with a resounding, “Brothers & sisters, Talofa,” so you can be sure I’m all over that. When we were about to part, they asked if we needed anything… & what needed was something from the scriptures for a mentally exhausted boy & his brain-like-a-sieve sister. So I felt prompted to ask them for such a verse. Sister Bartley, with seeming perfect ease, picked something I think was perfect, especially for a family well-acquainted with God, but not so much a personal Savior.
We ran into the Stokes on our way to a supermarket– & Kaya did the high-five thing, like, sevenTEEN times to get it out of her system, then unexpectedly hugged us & said, bluntly, “I miss you. The new elders aren’t like you. Can you come over?” We said, “Of course, we were planning on stopping by later…” She cut us off & corrected herself, “Can you come over, right now?” Sadly, it was getting late, but we promised we would, very soon, because we missed the whole family, too. So Kaya high-fived us four times over, in bittersweet farewell, for the time-being.
I wrote the Bartley’s scripture on a picture I drew of the Stokes, which I handed over to them at the beginning of last week. Nichole’s sister Robbie happened to be there, too, with her freshly died hair in one of those things that cafeteria workers wear. She ensured that, as the drawing got frantically passed from one hand to another, & as family members passed in & out of the living room in some odd cycle, that the paper kept making its way safely back to the mantlepiece. One of the first things Kaya did after we walked in (after trying to drop sharp animals on me & that whole high-five rigmarole) was pull out his backpack. On the left side of his pink plastic folder was my drawings I’d given the family. She’d, apparently, been showing her entire class, explaining everything there. I was blown away, & said, “Gee, she’s doing what I do better than I do it!” She attempted to pull it out of the sleeve for a minute or two, then Nichole tried. Nichole wondered what it was that was holding it so tightly in the folder, when she figured out that Kaya had taped the pages together– you know, so she could present it to her friends like a flipchart?… except she’d done it with DOUBLE-SIDED TAPE. Which is just the sort of thing I would’ve done as a kid. In-fact, I did, plenty of times. Because I do not understand simple things.
Kaya didn’t want to share her candy stash with anyone else but Elder ‘Ita & I– so we got a little piece of her jumbo chocolate candy cane (one o’ those high-quality artisan kinds), & an Airhead each. The Airheads ended up being important in our next lesson– which more or less cancelled due to a miscommunication in the time of it. We were to meet with a couple– Oscar & Cassandra, who, as recent members of the church, really felt out-of-place & already felt, without the missionaries they knew, like they had anywhere they really belonged. Cassandra asked if we could pray together before we left, which we gladly did. Her little girl Isabella (who they call Izzy) is a socially strange creature. Like, literally, all she does is make animal noises to us & jump around. But I can relate to this struggle to communicate, so I croak & holler & howl right back, which she seems to appreciate. I find it important to do these silly things, because I’m fairly certain I’m among the very few who would even think to.
Izzy just doesn’t deal well with new people– Cassandra’s in her 40s with this little kid, so she often pretends Izzy is her grandchild in public, even though she knows Izzy’s behavior is dependent on HER. Izzy even hid from us when we tried to give her Kaya’s Airheads. Izzy didn’t feel comfortable enough to actually engage, even in that small way. I gave mine to Cassandra to give to Izzy, which she accepted with relief. Elder ‘Ita was pretty savvy & asked for a fistbump in exchange for the other Airhead. Even though Izzy really wanted that Airhead, she was still having a great deal of trouble. Elder ‘Ita shook his head & said, “Aw, guess I’m gonna have to give it to your cousins, instead.” Izzy mustered up enough to flail a frightened, floppy fist-fling. It counted! At least she did it, right?
Oscar & Cassandra are at a very weak point in their lives– & their extended family’s going through trying times, too… They were at an airshow with their aunt, & the aunt had a heart attack & had to be flown to emergency care to be revived. (Cassandra said, to lighten the mood, that she got to be “part of the act”.) Cassandra’s sister Melanie has a new baby (whose name is Wesley– I know they’re all friends with the Allens, so it makes me wonder if she named him after the current Elder Wesley Allen?) & then got an ulcer out in the same week. If they can only bring themselves to do the simple things that they know from their own experience will give them their strength & renewed resilience– that will lead them through this mess of opposition. The grown-up equivalent of reaching out to fistbump an unfamiliar person. But it can be so deceptively simple that we still cannot bring ourselves to do these things & get the blessing so promptly promised!
Warning: talking about religion!
Another scripture I pray is not too preachy– it just has meant a lot to me recently– is Alma 37:46: “Do not let us be slothful because of the easiness of the way; for so was it with our fathers; for so was it prepared for them, that if they would look they might live; even so it is with us. The way is prepared, & if we will look we may live forever.” Things are simple, on purpose— so that no matter how young or old, these things will be brought forth with justice mercy, somehow in equal measure. (Who knows how THAT works, right?) It can seem complicated, if we see what’s ahead, but really, the trail’s been forged before us, in all its very varied experiences along the way.
 
Done, thank you for your understanding!
I met a man I met in my first area– just once, mind you. When I saw him, though, his full name immediately came back to me: Joseph Batty. As I watched him work in the back of this Taco Bell (which I affectionately call Taco Baco now), his name kept reverberating along the annals of my mind: Joseph Batty. Joseph Batty. Joseph Batty. I questioned myself on if this could truly be him, or if that could truly be his name. So I asked an employee, if this were truly THE Joseph Batty. I was assured this was true, & so I cornered the man & asked, “Hey, I think we met back in Christmas– Joseph Batty, right?” Joseph looked truly confused & said, “Uh, that’s my name, but I didn’t meet any elders back then.” I said, with building excitement, “It was just, like, one day back at the end of December, remember? Your girlfriend was there, & you were watching Big Bang Theory, & we talked about how your girlfriend is like Bernadette?” Nothing. “You answered the door, but you were also shaving your chest, so you closed the door when you saw it was us, & you laughed & said, ‘How embarrassing!'” Joseph said, “… Oh yeah!…” He relived this in his mind for a moment, then said, “Why did I answer the door while I was shaving?! I don’t even know!” Neither do I, Joseph Batty. Neither do I. I’m sure none of you have to guess why I remembered his name, though.
It was truly a sight to see him at Taco Baco, though– see, when I’d met with him, the ward had given him a new bed to sleep on. His living situation had been pretty dire, & he’d been unable to acquire a stable job– a lot of it had had to do with his entire family abandoning him in his time of need. But his ward family had given him a handhold, & a lift above. & he told me as I left this time, “Hey, I’ve got nothing to complain about anymore.” This is certainly happy ending, but I feel that it is far from the last happy ending for him! “Thus onto eternal perfection”, am I right? Taco Baco on, Joseph Batty.
We’ve been spending a lot of time helping out in the Young Single Adults ward. In my first time there, a jovial, friendly type in the back row asks me, “You’re from Hawai’i?” I say, “Yes!” Word spreads fast, I s’pose. His follow-up question: “Lanakila Ward, right?” Uh– not that fast. This Ben Tripp served IN MY MISSION during that fateful week I talked about in my farewell talk– where I served a week with… ho, boy, what should I call him… Elder Vee. Like Elder Gee! Ben actually told me something I didn’t know– because I’d been fairly certain that Elder Vee was almost done with his mission. Moreso, he told everyone we met together that he was almost done with his two years. This was only true on a technicality– not just that he was very ready to leave, but also that he HAD already left for a good while, & had only recently returned.
So let me make this clear: When I was WITH ELDER VEE, he’d actually been in the mission field a cumulative amount of LESS THAN SIX MONTHS. I’d been blaming his behavior on having served a great majority of the time & tiring himself out, but… … now, I honestly don’t have anything to blame his behavior on. & I feel okay with mentioning all of this, because Elder Vee is done with his mission & isn’t coming back, & I’m sure he’s happy about that, too. & I am truly grateful for the resolve he’s given me to be present in the spirit of this work of Love every moment I can muster.
… I love you, Elder Vee!…
Some things about Ben: Ben talks like if Napoleon Dynamite was just really excited about life. Ben has a predilection to being the banker in the board game Life™. He will give you more money than your Payday prescribes & call it blessings. Ben has a lot of fun completely forgetting I’m an elder & calling me by my name, as well as recalling the surreality of the 30-minute musical I wrote about a girl whose name fell at the end of the alphabet. Ben is about to be married to his life-long friend (who was born IN Hawai’i). Ben proposed to her by way of poetic scavenger hunt, &… … Ben’s dad won the Nobel Peace Prize. No, seriously, a committee he was in was doing a lot of work in South Africa, & they won the Nobel Peace Prize that year. When asked, “Guess what my dad won today,” a family member sarcastically quipped, “The Nobel Prize.” … So, now, I’ve met the son of a Nobel Peace Prize recipient. Fancy that!
So let’s end this mail where I started– September 17th was a dinner message to remember. We ate at the Matthews– you might recall the giant indoor slide I filmed in their house. Sister Matthews, as a grandma, continues to jog around the track every week with her sister. When we didn’t make it out to the track for a few days, she was right on our tails, said, “You’ve been slacking, Elder!” Someone’s gotta say it like it is, right? Anyway, the Matthews always have us over on a Sunday when they do, because that’s their family dinner day. Because in Utah, when family moves out, they move across the street. In Grantsville, they just move next door. (This is literal for the Matthews– so many houses on the same block are… the Matthews.)
The dinner preparations were still underway when we arrived, so we took on the job of babysitter for all the Matthews’ grandchildren– none of which understand physical or social boundaries. The boy from the slide video, Ty, asked my companion if he was fat, if his name was Curious George, when he was going to get braces… … why didn’t he ask that last one to ME?! Then Ty asked ME if he’d kissed me yet. He sure got right up into our faces a lot, but no kissing took place. Anyway, after Ty was done talking about how Elder ‘Ita smelled like chicken, Ty called Elder ‘Ita his buddy. So I suppose that whatever it was that Ty was getting at, he meant it in a good way.
After dinner, one of the Matthews’ sons asked if I was going to play my ‘ukulele. Which confused me, since I always do, & he knew that. He then asked what I was going to play. I said, “Well, maybe I Feel My Savior’s Love? Unless prompted otherwise, by the Spirit.” He asked, “How about… How Great Thou Art?” He then began to sing it in a rumblym mock-operatic register. I said, “Hey, that’s an excellent song.” After we gave our spiritual thought-of-the-day, I looked at him & said, “This is for you,” & Elder ‘Ita & I sang How Great Thou Art. After the last verse, I gestured to the very large extended family surrounding me & gesturing, saying, “Everybody sing.” We finished on the chorus together (& everyone in that family can sing, for sure), & as I turned to Elder ‘Ita, he was choking on tears.
The Matthews’ son, who was moved to a rather profound silence, had served a mission with lots of Tongans, like Elder ‘Ita. One of them had often sung How Great Thou Art on his ‘ukulele. Sister Matthews noted, with a hand on her heart, that How Great Thou Art was her father’s favourite song. Elder ‘Ita looked around at all those around him & said, “Just to explain, today’s a day that I really needed a family. Today marks another year since my father’s passing, & it has been a blessing to spend time with your children & grandchildren. I practically raise my nieces & nephews back home– they’re such handfuls & so much trouble, but I love them more than anyone else, & it’s really felt like home today here.” I’d been praying for him all week; I knew today would be hard. Thank you, Heavenly Father!
We went on in that evening to sing Love at Home for the Christensens (Brother Christensen’s favourite), & Elder ‘Ita casually brought in a verse in Tongan. Love at Home, indeed. :  ) & Home, for me, is anywhere where the music is.
Aside from the Stokes’ family portrait, there’s a little recipe from the Trapps, a picture of Ben & I (I actually JUST met someone who knows Uncle Jeff & Aunty Eloise well– I’ll keep them in suspense for a while longer on who…), some meditations on grocery shopping, a chalk drawing outside the seminary building by Sabrina, & some snippets from a pretty aesthetically stimulating service project we were a part of… where the homeowner we were moving out was a fine artist of many, many mediums. The piece I photographed makes me think of something my best friend Lottie would do with her face casts! & finally, you can’t fully appreciate that musical arrangement from last mass-mail without experiencing the glee of our companionship gag reel. Feel that love in ev’ry blunder. OooooOOOOOWAAAAAAA~
Oy, & wouldn’tchya know it, I had yet another premature mail-out as well as an unexpected text deletion. But: if an e-mail is still queued in the Outbox, you can copy the text in it, paste it into a new draft, then delete the Outbox’d e-mail. It will not be sent out, & will not make you look like you were stopped mid-sentence by someone holding you for ransom or by a hyper Kaya nabbing your tablet or by something equally dramatic. & if your e-mail randomly hiccups & half of it’s missing, go to another tab (like Help & Feedback) rather than close out immediately, then close the app, & it won’t save the older draft over your concurrent one. :  ) Just some friendly tips from a typing fanatic.
You are great, you are awesome,
sKye (eLder sOnomura)
09
Oct
17

elderSkyeSonomura_operationValidation_massemail.part043

(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!)

 
Let me just say this first: Something that always helped me through September 11th was watching the amazing videos put out by StoryCorps online. If you need to feel your way through the turmoil (& by that I mean have a good, rewarding cry), watch any of those, like She Was the One, John & Joe, Always a Family, etc. Also, remember to breathe! Like, just take a moment & breathe, & be simply aware you are breathing. When was the last time you’ve done this, buddy? Wow, really?! Gee, don’t you forget to breathe, now! It makes a real difference, just to commence living again, having been reminded you are, you know, alive. & how incredible, if not an itty-bitty overwhelming, that truly is. Don’t let anyone convince you otherwise, even yourself!
 
Most of the things I’ve taught to my… teachers… have ended up being the things I’ve shared here. These are things I’m fairly certain most people out here have thought at some point, but perhaps never thought to discuss. & I think having open discussions are the best ways to learn. You know, if people are actually open to… an open… discussion. Two sets of elders, two sets of sisters, two sets of seniors… you better believe the seniors are always the most willing to share of their hearts. Does it take a few more years for us kiddies to feel comfortable enough to speak a syllable or two, on behalf of the convictions of our souls? They don’t even feel comfortable enough to pick a place to EAT, after District Meeting. So, I suggested Taco Man– which everyone almost declined, due to it, you know, being a vehicle & not a ritzy, heavily staffed establishment with all the finery of a… Subway, say. (So happy I picked the Chinese place to the left– which also had a six-dollar special… & also happened to smell exactly like Subway, BAHAHA.) But I tricked them by telling them that Casa del Rey was right across the street– because missionaries always get excited about Casa del Rey for some reason (I might like it more if they added an apostrophe to the name.)– & they could go there, if they wanted.
… which they immediately didn’t want to, when they smelled the Taco Man truck, headed by our lone & ever-valiant Taco Abuelita. (& sometimes, her pre-K granddaughter is nearby watching Barbie Life in the Dreamhouse. For, uh, moral support? Understaffed, much?) Everyone ordered their heart’s desire (we have a Sister Bravo who ordered in her native Spanish– I can’t help but think she might’ve gotten some kind of secret non-menu order, HAHAHA.) One of the other sister missionaries, Sister Burleson, who just arrived this month, said in the middle of a bite, “This is the best decision we’ve ever made. Besides, you know, going on a mission.” I am glad I tricked everyone.
We were also able to have the district over for a service project at the Fawson Oasis– cutting & hauling copious amounts of cat tails from the pond, which is NOTABLY scum-free, thanks to Elder Forsyth &, uh, Elder Me. (The last time around, I was given this jet-packed looking device with a pumping crank on one side & a spigot on the other. Felt like I was on the Isle of Delfino, if y’know what I mean…) Elder MALLEN (one of our senior missionaries) was having the time of his life, expertly & seemingly effortlessly casting his rake-on-a-rope to fish out the eviscerated tails-of-cat. That night, he sent us an e-mail asking us, “Now, what was the name of the lovely ward missionaries we did service for today?” (I haven’t mentioned the Fawsons are ward missionaries! Brother Fawson is also often referred to fondly by members of his ward as Bishop Fawson. Whaddacard.) Everyone who attended the service said it was truly a one-of-a-kind service for them. Such has been quite par-for-the-course for me, if you’ve noticed. Guess I attract it? I mean, quite recently, in our travels, this grandma ran to us, saying we’d arrived just in time to carry a washer-&-dryer to their house for them… it was a surprise gift for their daughter, who’d only JUST had a baby the night before! WOO-HOO, what an amazing gift! If I were a family man without a washer-&-dryer (I wrote cryer on accident), I’d be overcome with emotion. Also, from family experience, your own clothes will go through the laundry a lot more, too. Like, get ready to wash SO much blurp off… everything.
 
I spent a rainy day switched off with Elder Holladay (Always a jolly Holladay with that man!), & we were both in high spirits… partially BECAUSE OF the rain. There can’t be THAT many people in the World that feel cheerful walking in a downpour, can there? It was extremely pleasant for us both, & it was invigorating. As we headed to our planned lesson, we heard two VERY boys (I’d even wager they were Kindergarten age) walking behind us, carrying a heavy-looking & unattached leash. They asked us if we could help find their dog Copenhagen. Because we are very good at finding things, I guess. Of course, we started down the street with them, mainly as their chaperones. Because their mom told them to go find Cope by themselves?! In the rain?!! These two boys were absolutely certain they’d tracked down HIS poops in a driveway. (“That’s DEFINITELY Copenhagen’s, I just know it!!”) Which brings up SO many questions about the detail in which they have inspected their beloved pet.
 
We were getting nowhere & farther away from their house with every step, when Elder Holladay asked if they’d prayed to help find Copenhagen. One of the boys said sheepishly, pointing to the other, “I think my friend’s too cold right now to say it!” I’ve heard less convincing reasons why not from adults! Elder Holladay volunteered to say a very quick prayer for guidance & inspiration & safety– one that would also assure no one got too much colder. That’s the thing: making time for such things, should you know they’re important to do… they are available, at ALL times & FOR all things. Just adapt them to your circumstances, & I know from experience what a difference it can make. Just when we had no more time left & were about to tell them we needed to skedaddle, a lady (not either kids’ mom; What is UP with that?) pulled up, got out, & offered to find Copenhagen & also take the boys home up the street. For all of us, I feel that was just the right thing to happen at just the right time. Otherwise, we might’ve had those kids out there until midnight echoing, “COPE?” into the abyss. Any of you seen a friendly, aimless-looking pooch that answers to the name of Copenhagen? Of the many stories I don’t see completed, this is one I really want to hear an answer to. Maybe when I’m eighty or so, I’ll receive word & shed a happy tear. Seriously, though, thank you, Heavenly Father, for sending someone to keep those Little Rascals safe.
 
Later on in the day, after a few appointments fell through, the crisp cold kept us shuffling along happily, & a car stopped to ask if we needed a ride anywhere. We said we didn’t, but Elder Holladay asked if the man knew any people who might want us around. The man suggested a name Elder Holladay was well-aware of &, in the past eight months, had never seemed to catch at home. (This part I did not know until after everything went down,) But with the name freshly mentioned, it seemed like the place to be! We sallied forth, knocked, & were immediatelyinvited in. (Which is an unusual & cherished thing to happen, if you weren’t aware. Yes, even in the rain. I’m not piteous enough!!) We met with this mom & her daughter Payton. She had an eensy-weensy stuffed animal wearing plush knight’s armour. I asked about it, & she said she got it when she had to stay in the hospital “for a while”. I brought up my OWN beloved Baby bear doll my best friend Lottie had bequeathed me, & her own hospital time.
I also noticed she was an avid reader– I noticed she had literally (using the word kind of wrong here in an ironic way) JUST put down the latest volume of Diary of a Wimpy Kid, which she seemed quite invested in. It was so exciting to FINALLY meet someone who liked reading! Kid or adult, a love of reading just doesn’t seem to be a common trait. I love reading– I love reading a LOT. (& apparently writing a lot… *cough*) I took out my love-worn copy of the scriptures out of my backpack & had her look it over. I explained to her, as she struggled through reading through unfamiliar, foreign, antiquated terms that this book was “special,” &, unlike other books, that it could only REALLY, TRULY be understood through extra help from a Heavenly Father, His Son, & the Holy Ghost.
She said she felt nervous reading from this completely different book– & scared to be reading out loud. & really, if you have no basis for any of this, it really MUST BE. Every thing we do just comes out of nowhere, every thing we do is very personally demanding on every level, & we try our best to be aware of how it must feel. None of my childhood reading prepared me for what it takes to read such things. Isn’t it crazy to think how many people hate reading but still make time to read dense & complex spiritual text? Isn’t it crazy that they get what they need out of it, regardless of their academic background or proclivity for poetic postulation? It has nothing to do with being book-smart. If you want to understand it, & are willing to try your darn’dest, I can say from personal experience, from the very Beginning, that Peace & Truth follows.
On the other hand, Payton’s mother had grown up with all these things, & was shocked to realize that Payton had never been taught this. … I mean, doesn’t everyone just… KNOW these things? Via osmosis? She seemed to have this ache to share, but understood what gentle & small steps would have to be taken now to really convey, on a personal level, why these things mean so much to her… or to us! We were invited back right then & there, after eight months of not-a-thing, & Elder Holladay cheered out in a riotous whisper, as we went warmly on our way. It was exactly what Elder Holladay had needed that day– as, in the next week, he would be taken out of the only area he’d ever been in, for his entire mission. It had given him some trials, but the night prior, we’d talked about how, really, every day, we are supplied with those God-given tools we need to face the next big problem.
For me, I think my biggest tool for copin’ (not to be confused with Copenhagen) is the arts. & how great is that, because in strengthening myself for the next billowing wave, it can also be a shared strengthening! When I was with Elder Holladay, we ate with the Walls, a family that recently finished their mission. (Must be strange to not, you know, LEAVE your mission when you LEAVE your mission. “… this could stand to have a little more finality to it.”) You might remember the video of Elder Holladay & I going stark-raving mad after ingesting only a penny-sized glob of sauce from the “Pepper Palace”? The Walls did that to us. The Walls had also always encouraged me to play my ‘ukulele in past District Meetings, & after a whole dinner of nervous consideration, I shared All That Jesus Is with them… & Elder Holladay, who I knew could use a bit of a pick-me-up, after our two hours of unexpected “pillow talk”. I had told him about how I’d felt like, whatever happened, my own testimony stayed, more or less, the way that it was when I was, say, five years old. Everything else has just been a coat over it– something nice, something more refined, sure, but… not actually a change in the composition. & the songs of my childhood, the ones written by my parents, are at the heart of my testimony. I’m pleased to say that the first thing Elder Holladay said, as we left was, “Man, I’ve only heard that song ONCE, & I can’t stop thinking about it & singing it in my head!” My response was an, “I KNOW, RIGHT?!”
Elder ‘Ita & I were able to perform our piano piece this past week… afterwards, everyone began to refer to us as “the celebrities”. (Same syllable count, I s’pose.) As I mentioned, we prayed before every practice. One thing our church choir back home always asks for is to “sing with the angels,” &… I feel like that’s exactly what we were given, when we asked for it. Suddenly, voices are surer, with firm resolve & clear conviction, & there’s a kind of vocal multiplication that seems to take place. But I’ll let you all be the judge of this– first & last attachment. :  ) I got ALL the way through 99% of the song without a sour note, & then slipped a finger on the very last chord, oy. But I bet if I hadn’t had said it, my arrangement would’ve been too… Me… for you to really pick up on that. That’s what happens when you love the harmony of dissonance, HAH.
Remember that white board I put goals onto, back a couple dozen mails? I had committed to learning by heart something called The Thirteen Articles of Faith. It’s been a nearly life-long goal of mine, since they’re a rather powerful, bold, & simple walkthrough of… what in the Life, Universe & Everything it is that I believe & cherish. & I feel they’re pure poetry, on-top of that. As you might recall, I felt a clashing between what was around me every day & what my purpose here was, to me. Whenever things were too contentious, too raucous, too unconducive to the Spirit I need at all times, just on that regular basis, I would strain to recite these thirteen declarations by heart, under my breath, hoping to pierce the murk in some small way to break a bit of light free. I think my desparateness to cling to these words helped them embed themselves in me… because this past week, I was called on to recite them all, solo.
There was a delightful ice cream party put on primarily for the Primary children (ged’dit?) who had been learning the [not-so-Schoolhouse-Rock-caliber] musical adaptations of the Articles of Faith. There was an unexpected windstorm right as this all went down, so the teacher hd to blast her tiny speaker & shout out the lyrics, as off-tune as you please, for the kids to follow, like some… camp counselor. I sang along, but I was really just saying the words while making my voice dip in unexpected intervals. … I sounded the same as all the kids, anyway. But yes, each age group was called up for ice cream, from youngest to oldest, after each song. Then, the teacher brought out baggies of chocolate bars, for anyone who could do it all… all by thwemswelves. I was one of three people (kid, adult or otherwise) at this gathering who successfully recited them. Then I divvied the baggie with Dakota, her buddy Marlee, & CJ. Because sharing is delicious. Sharing of all sorts! Speaking of sharing, there was some accidental sharing of ice cream. The wind picked up Marlee’s ice cream & flung it at someone’s leg. Marlee said they could have it. How sweet! & messy. I’m surprised the air didn’t start to carry Oreo™ cookie dust like some airborne pathogen, PHBFT.
Other attachments: some visual proof of the wear-&-tear I’m under (because I don’t think anyone wants to see my eternal blisters), a painting I had a deep connection to that Elder ‘Ita’s cousins/cuzzinz had in their house, some visual proof of my battle against the Utah diet (Elder Forsyth’s backed up now, too!! Flaxseed has saved us both. Miracles.), a picture with me & me & me (Sara gets the joke), & the last tree we planted in Sister Holm’s backyard. She had six missionaries in the district as a kind of tree-planting army a couple weeks ago… may the trees stand firm, as a testimony, teehee. (It’s a wonder anything grows in Grantsville. Ah, life, ah… ah… ah… finds a way.) & this’ll have to wait, but I intend to film my oratorio for you, posthaste, to share the fruits of a 42-week-long memorization stint… why  doing that has made think I can do ANY THANG… like write this week’s e-mail without a keyboard. My thumbs are numb. This generation really needs to use ALL their fingers. & heart. &… brain. Thank you to all of you here for giving me hope for the future, to times both near & far!
You are great, you are awesome,
sKye (eLder sOnomura)
09
Oct
17

elderSkyeSonomura_operationValidation_massemail.part042

(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 Mass-Mail #42. Did you know my favourite number in the whole wide multiverse is 42?
Well, now you do. & I suppose, because this is true, it makes sense that the message would delete itself, & I’d have to rewrite it, just to prove how dedicated I am to this number.
It’s in reference to a series I love called The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. In it, a group of hyper-intelligent beings on a far-off planet construct their biggest super-computer called Deep Thought. They ask it to calculate the Answer to Life, the Universe, & Everything. Deep Thought says give it a few centuries, & it’d be more than happy to answer. When they return expectantly for Deep Thought’s big reveal, the Ultimate Answer turns out to be “42”. The beings are dumbfounded, & ask for an explanation. Deep Thought responds, “You didn’t ask for the Question.”
My mOm & I started this love of 42 in the family– one day, we had a pretty involved conversation about the question & decided that the Ultimate Question must be, blatantly enough, “What is 7 multiplied by 6?” 7’s a number associated with God, & 6 is a number associated with the Devil. Good & Evil equals Life, the Universe, & Everything. The equation for Us & all that is around us. A kind of mathematical microcosm for our beautifully complicated, & (at least for me) over-wh-elming w-orld. I’m forever grateful that, defying all the odds, we all are here sharing this moment in some infinitesimal point in the middle of 6 & 7.
Just about a week before I had to hold my first District Meeting, I had a dream that my mOm was my missionary companion for the day. Definitely one of my favourite dreams of the entire mission. Kind of gives a whole new meaning to the term “mission mom”, ey? We were attending the Grantsville 1st Ward (because she’s numbah one), getting all kinds of exciting new prospects! For all intents & purposes, my mOm IS my full-time missionary companion, because she’s never far from my mind in all of this, & I often have taken solace in knowing my family would have similar convictions or priorities as I do in this marvelous work. When I am deciding what it is I should do, I feel to involve my whole family in the decision-making process. “What would the Sonomuras do?” Not very coincidentally at all, the things I said at District Meeting were bizarrely in line with what the ideas & suggestions mOm wrote to me only a few days afterward. My guess is we had some kind of pow-wow heart-to-heart session in my dream, as temporary dream-companions (She IS definitely a dream-companion, HAHA), & I taught according to our combined notes. Thanks, mOm! You always got me.
Every single day, something about my family ends up making its way into the lessons & messages I share– it’s just how this works for me. The way that we teach things, in the very first lesson, the first point is that we have a loving Father in Heaven, & the second is that, since He loves us so much, he gave us Families. So… if the two follow each other so naturally, I’d say they’re rather synonymous. I want to share all the Good I know, & my family comprises so much of that Good. I look for every opportunity to share their wonderment with other families– any glimmer of that same light I see in my family, & I grab a hold of that & add to it. When I was out with one of our ward missionaries, we went to visit a family in the ward called the Kellers. They’ve struggled to be active in the Gospel due to demanding work schedules. I hear piano playing & singing from the porch. I walk in– their son Caleb is sketching a german Santa & talking about making a game about pencil doodles. Besides the piano, there’s a guitar, an ‘ukulele, &… a Super Nintendo. & I’m thinking, “Oh, yeah, there’s some bits of my family all over the place here.” We shared a message about eternal families, & I related a lot of experiences in my family. Brother Keller was on the edge of his seat listening, with such a light kindled in his eyes. When we invited them to go with us to the temple, Brother Keller almost deflated, because his job would not allow him to. I had been ready to end the lesson, when suddenly. I remembered something my dad wrote me in his last letter.
My family recently heard about a couple in the ward who have been able to make it out to the temple together every week since being married. After jaws were picked up off the ground, my parents were a little unsure of how to apply such a notion to their own lives. Eventually, instead of feeling like such things were unachievable, they decided to use this as a springboard for simply doing just a little better for themselves than before. My dad decided to use some off-days he’s accumulated over the years to create designated temple days in the month, so the whole family can be made stronger, closer, & happier. Suddenly, Brother Keller had a new resolve– he hadn’t thought of such a route to take. (He IS a trainer for UPS drivers, so I’d think he’d be an expert at rerouting to get to his desired destination, hee.)
Then he saw a picture of my dad’s six-pack, & that also inspired him.
After we finished with a song, Brother Keller felt prompted to ask for a blessing, even though he’s normally wary to inconvenience others with such things. His job is currently going through an audit, so he felt the need keenly. & we, in turn, just felt extremely… well, blessed… to bless.
Did you know my favourite film is Disney’s The Hunchback of Notre Dame?
Did you also know that’s the reason I decided to become an animator at the age of 3?
There’s lots of things to know.
I think I’ve always been strangely drawn (pun intended) to stories that aren’t simple. & Hunchback is not at all what many would consider to be a stereotypical “kids’ film”. It’s rife with political, racial, & religious commentary– & at the heart of it is a character struggling with self-worth. My favourite scene in the whole movie (it is hard to pick one, but it is true) is when the gypsy Esmeralda claims sanctuary in a cathedral, & sings a simple, sincere prayer to a God that she is unfamiliar with. God Help the Outcasts is a song that has been my mantra since I first watched this film & became doggedly determined to do anything in my power to be a part of the sort of art that made such an experience possible. It has been a mission of mine for years now, & will continue to be for the foreseeable future, to reach out to outcasts, of any kind. & there are many kinds– I can’t think of anyone who hasn’t felt like an outcast at some point in their life. But no matter what, you’re not alone. & I’m grateful for the opportunity I have each day to say just that. First attachment below is me trying my best to play God Help the Outcasts. Happy 42!
Hey, remember that amazing musical number by the Trapp family? Yeah, they’re actually related to the von Trapps. It’s even the only film Brother Trapp’s father owns on DVD. (He gets super-emotional any time anyone plays Edelweiss, so the kids gave him with a surprise-rendition on his birthday.) … So that isn’t just a joke anymore. Even more hilariously, neither of their parents can play music. Brother Trapp’s father is incredibly musical, so it must skip a generation. At least they love music– & Sister Trapp says she has an excellent ear! Which was evident from the groovy Guatemalan music that was playing when we walked in for dinner. We applauded Jade & Joseph (who play violin & piano, respectively) again– we’d actually heard them perform the song for a second time the past Sunday. In total, they were asked to perform in different wards four times. (Surprising that it wasn’t seventeen, HAHAHA. But I suppose there’s still time for thirteen encores.)
The dinner conversation entirely revolved around music. Sister Trapp talked passionately about how she’s always encouraged her kids to perform publicly any chance they get, because she knows of the greatest joys of music is in the sharing of it. Jade seemed to know whatever story Sister Trapp was about to tell & rushed out of the room to find something. Sister Trapp said that, many years ago, Jade was practicing her violin outside, & she was overheard in passing by one of the neighbors. He was a quiet, solitary old man named Bishop. A few days later, Bishop arrived at the Trapp’s house carrying twenty dollars in his hands, which he tried to give to Sister Trapp as payment for Jade’s beautiful music. Sister Trapp outrightly refused to take the money, assuring Bishop that Jade’s music was meant to be shared as a gift, with love & charity.
Apparently, Bishop going so far as to talk to anyone was unusual– quite literally unheard of. So it was even more unexpected when Bishop came back a few days later, & asked to talk with Jade. He knelt down beside her & explained how he had fought in the war in Vietnam as a young man. The atrocities & ugly things he witnessed every moment of every day had made it impossible for him to even begin to believe in a God. He told Jade, “When I hear you play, I know there must be a God.” Then he handed her a necklace, which Jade then produced with perfect timing. (Pictured in the second-to-the-last attachment, with Elder ‘Ita displaying it over his hand like a professional on the Home Shopping Network. [Not For Sale.])
As I mentioned before, I’d immediatelydidn’ approached the Trapps after their first performance & asked them if they’d ever thought of sharing their gifts on YouTube. Apparently, now they’re really considering it. SOON, NO BOUNDARIES SHALL HOLD IN THEIR TALENTS. CLIMB EV’RY MOUNTAIN!
They had a tall pitcher of homemade cantaloupe juice with their dinner, as well as a jar of flaxseed to garnish their salad with. I happen to have been looking for flaxseed since my first month here. It’s been one of those suggestions for annihilating any remaining stomach achey-alien-type symptoms. &… it also happens to just be very pleasant! The Trapps ever so graciously provided me with an entire jar to take home with me. (They’re certainly living up to “because I have been given much!”) I’ve been making my meals with ‘um. (See attachment #6!)
We were apparently supposed to eat with the Trapps back around Eastertime, so I’m grateful I got to stay long enough to have that miraculously musical make-up meal. I have also, as you know, stayed long enough to see my area split. Which means I’ve had to say goodbye to some people I’d really only started to know. Among them is Madison, who’s had 99% of her lessons with the Hammonds, one of our senior couples. She had the Hammonds over so much because… she REALLY didn’t want to meet with us, at the time. Through the Hammonds’ genuine love & care (& careful, thoughtful answers to a barrage of difficult questions), they could finally talk about these things that we hold dear, & channels of communication that had been so tightly sealed began to be made free.
By our second official lesson, we had to say farewell. (Well, in a tiny way. We’ll still stop by & say hi!) We sat in as Elder Forsyth & Elder Silva reviewed a few things with Madison. The entire time, her baby boy Wesley was thrashing about like a regular wiggle-worm, & trying to bite all manner of inedible things. (He just started teething. Oh, the horror.) When we closed, I asked if we could still play a song, even though we weren’t teaching anymore. The moment we started until the moment we ended, Wesley was perfectly still, google-eyed, mouth agape.
As we left, Madison expressed how worried she’d been in anticipation of meeting us. She had major doubts on whether or not we would be able to match the caliber of excellence that Hammonds had reached for her. Then she talked about how surprised & pleased she was when we did.
She asked us, “So, uh… are you still coming to my baptism?”
We said, “If we’re still invited, we wouldn’t miss it for anything!”
I asked, mock-seriously, “One question: will you be there?”
Elder ‘Ita asked, “Would you like us to play something at it?”
She seemed a little shocked, asking, “Would you?!”
Oh, yes, we would. Every. Day.
One thing about the Hammonds: they just finished their mission in the past month, & spent the last two weeks cruisin’ ’round Hawai’i in celebration. All these Utahns, always taking Hawaiian cruises. It makes me make a funny smile.
We recently heard a return-missionary in church talking about serving a four-month music mission, playing her trumpet in Nauvoo. I had no clue there was such thing as a music mission. I’m pretty relieved I ended up in a music mission without applying for one. Huh! Poi’fect!
A lady named Sister Riggins & her grandkids were playing out in their lawn as we walked by, & we decided to sing for them. This Sister Riggins turned out to be a return-mission PRESIDENT’S WIFE without realizing it. She had served the past three years in Ecuador. Since there were no senior couples in Ecuador (bless our senior couples), SHE had to inspect every missionary’s house herself. I can only imagine the caked-on, grimy weight of this responsibilty. Sister Riggins remarked, with great relief, “You know, I am SO glad you’re not doing it the same-old way that everyone’s always been doing it. Shake things up a little! It shouldn’t always be JUST one way– we’re meant to follow the Spirit, right? & music brings the Spirit, right?” Another mission-mom to approve.
My last District Leader was named Elder Miller. He can conduct 3/4 with one hand while conducting 4/4 with the other. Once, we decided to switch companions for the last thirty minutes of the day. Elder Miller asked me if I’d ever thought of using my ‘ukulele in missionary work. He was astounded to find out that the ‘ukulele plays a role in just about every encounter of my day. With Elder ‘Ita, we often sing as we walk, if only to lift our own spirits, haha. Just a few days after Elder Miller & I sang together for a family that night, Elder Miller bought a carrying case for his guitar, & began to share hymns in lessons.
He also shared a hymn in a huge fireside performance the missionaries organized. He bore his testimony beforehand, & then… well, bore his testimony again, but with… singing & stuff. The SECOND testimony was full of delicious, dissonant jazz chords. I hope my testimony has, like, a Bbadd9 or two! (I was able to record it– third-to-the-last attachment… these directions are getting a little unclear.)
Elder ‘Ita & I have been asked to perform this week at a big ol’ meeting. Funny thing is, the man who asked us to wanted us to sing it on piano, but had failed to make that known. He brought it up suddenly, after I’d learned the whole thing on ‘ukulele, & asked if I knew anyone who could accompany us on piano. & I responded, “Uh, me… ?”
Elder ‘Ita asked if we could start our rehearsal with a prayer, which was brilliant. He prayed for inspiration & guidance on my behalf. Prayin’ & playin’, that’s how we do it.
There’s a rather professional picture of Elder ‘Ita & I performing last-minute at the Pioneer Parade– photographed by Sister Allen! At one of the Allen’s recent Family Home Evenings, I was blessed with the opportunity to wear a hundred-dollar wig that this girl nmed Janel brought with her. On her head! With all this music talk, it seems fitting to mention that Janel is planning on auditioning for American Idol. I b’lieve in her! The Allens also made it to the fireside– well, it almost seemed like everyone was there. HEY, LINH THAI was there! (His kids performed a concerto for us over Skype, ‘member?) Apparently, Elder Blätter visits him still, even though his mission is “finished”. That’s Our Blätter!
Besides the flaxseed, there’s been a few other foodie miracles– we ate with a family called the Hardmans. As we stepped in, Brother Hardman mentioned, “This is an Asian-style household, would you mind taking off your shoes?” Sister Hardman is from Korea, & made us kim chee & some “soup” that was actually just the sort of Japanese-style curry stew that I so dearly miss in my life. & to put it right over the top, she made corn bread. So many fond memories of unexpected freshly baked corn bread back home. She stuffed me mercilessly like I was her own grandson, then sent me off with a little Tupperware of green onion kim chee. Chee-hee. It made me think of my second dinner on the mission– where I was with the Heis family– which was pronounced like face, not rice. I remember this because, just like the night prior, they also cooked me rice without knowing how much I needed it. It was a traditional Brazilian meal, & it was among the finest meals I’ve ever had in myyeee extremely long life.
 
& who should I run into at Wal-Mart this Monday but the Heises? Got to retroactively say, “So long & thanks for all the food.” (Another Hitchhiker’s Guide reference.)
Our district also participated in a multi-cultural event, alongside the Spanish-speaking elders. There was excellent music rife with rhythm, a smorgasbord (or… the appropriate Spanish word for smorgasbord– fiesta seems too easy) of traditional dishes, & a whole congregation of phenomenal dancers, because… what else would you expect from a Spanish branch?! The bishop & his wife performed an endlessly charming routine, with a song I wish I knew the name of. (Can anyone help me out there? Que no que no?) & we… well, it was all in Spanish, so I’m honestly not sure what it is we actually DID. I think it was… futbol. Whatever the case, you can all enjoy Elder ‘Ita’s goalie-mesmerizing dance moves. Some things in this life, like dancing, food, or music, need no translation.
Now, I’m off to the Festival of Fools– who’s with me?
You are great, you are awesome,
sKye (eLder sOnomura)
09
Oct
17

elderSkyeSonomura_operationValidation_massemail.part041

(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’ve gotten a lot of votes of confidence over my capability to take on responsibilty from the last few mass-mails, but I have to say, at this point, my Comfort Zone has been targeted & obliterated. I’m a District Leader now. I tried to anticipate the next barrel I’d have to leap over, but I suppose the entire obstacle course I’m in is pretty un-anticipatable. But… if that’s the next thing I’m supposed to work on, right after… say, grocery lists, I suppose that’s that. I’m going to have to send in weekly reports about all the missionaries under my unexpected jurisdiction, do interviews for anyone getting baptized in my area, &… somehow… teach missionaries something every week. Or, uh, attempt to. What does one teach a missionary? To be more… missionary-y? We shall see. It’s done wonders to my complexion. Acne & cold sores are rampant, & I accidentally poked at a patch on my face until it was raw. Now it is healing. & it is purple-y. Whhhhh-oops.
 
To add to a few previously relayed tales, Hope Smith got a multi-colored (should I say technicolor?) stuffed animal for her baptism. She is also going to get a baby brother soon. First in the family! To add to Hope, Faith, & Charity, they’re thinking of Long-suffering.
 
Long-suffering Smith.
One of the first people I met on my mission (Anyone remember the man who called himself Scrooge?) also happened to be there to support Hope. (EVERYONE. PLEASE. SUPPORT HOPE. WE NEED HOPE.) Without planning to, he felt prompted to show a class of ten-year-olds the musical piece we performed there. They were completely, wordlessly engrossed for the entire thing. Which is a pretty impossible thing for any group of ten-year-olds to, at any point, be.
Nanay has really seen the miracles she said she would receive, were she baptized. Her eyes haven’t been bothering her anymore, & some of her more recent health issues have been a battle she’s decimated. (WOOOO, GO-GO-GO, NANAY’S ARM-AYYY!!) She’s said, in quite a similar way to Sister Farnworth, “Heavenly Father has blessed me, given me a strong body… I have to remember him, always! I need to take the sacrament, it is most important.”
 
CJ said he’d give us each a dollar when he sees us after our mission. Much more eternally important to me was that he personally asked Elder ‘Ita & I to participate in the circle of people who gave him the Holy Ghost. Like, he walked straight up to us & asked us. No one asks us that– they have their family do it, or maybe really, REALLY close friends. He said, “Well, because you’ve done so much for us, it’s only fair!” Then he said, “Also, you’re welcome for the watermelon we gave you. I knew you’d like some watermelon. You just seemed like the time.” Ahh, what true, unadulterated charity!
 
Just in this week alone, we’ve had some rather powerful experiences that tie together in my mind. We planned to go on Splits with two 17-year-olds named Parker & Levi. Last night, we ate dinner with a family who have a son named Levi. THEN, tonight, we ate dinner with a family who have a son named Parker.
Levi has Down’s & indicators of autism, & is just slightly older than me.
Parker has extreme social anxiety & is basically a recluse, but is also very well-spoken & seemed to really enjoy sharing stories with us.
Levi loves missionaries– he kept pointing at a little pamphlet he got from the temple that has “The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints” written on the back. He’d point at those words, then point firmly at our nametags, which also bear that name. The moment the last crumb on our plate was eaten, he swiftly took away all of our dishes to the sink. (need to learn that kind of service-ethic.) He has an excellent missionary-y handshake. Levi has a similar love for the temple; He promptly volunteered to bless the food & said, “Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for my family, thank you for the temple.”
Parker & his family have practically adopted a niece of theirs who has been neglected & abandoned in equal measure. Parker is her proud “big brother”, & takes it seriously, even though it’s far far out of his comfort zone. Because of them, before kindergarten, she’s learned to sing all her Alphabet & count all the way to sixteen, when she tries really hard. Once, their niece hid when her biological father came over, & refused to leave. Parker’s family encouraged them both to sit together there & read a book. They’ve taken the influence they’ve been blessed to have in this fractured family with all their heart[s].
We sang I’m Trying to Be Like Jesus to Parker’s family, & afterwards, Parker couldn’t stop humming it to himself. He said it’d been years since he’d sang, but realized he must still remember how.
We sang I Love to See the Temple to Levi’s family, & he not only sang along, but also began to conduct us, & his whole family, with soft, lilting little flips of his arms. I don’t even need to tell you I was chokin’. There are amazing people out there.
 
There was one last community play for the summer. We ate dinner with the family putting it on in their house– yes, they LIVE in a church from the 1800s, & open it for weddings & such– & they put us on their RSVP list before we could ask. What theatrical amenities. & here’s where I’d talk about the sublime exerience, but… just watch the attachments (or tatch the awwatchments). Suffice to say, we knew half the kids in it, & one of them (Brooklynn, plays the drums in the performance) hunted me out in the audience to tell me she loved my YouTube video about my lamppost.
 
On the day of the eclipse, we ran into Dakota & her best friend Marlee (who drew me a chubby skeleton who tells dad jokes), three times. Every time was extremely specific timing, & they had neglected to keep on a schedule with us, so… they took it to mean it was most definitely time to. (Always watching.) I also found my twin. His name is Gerald. Then I found my twin’s… I dunno, missionary companion or something of that ilk. His name is Peanut, & he works full-time on the cash register at PizzaRev. One of the workers says he’s engaged. (… It’ll be funny when you look at the attachments, promise.)
 
The thing that truly put the 1st Ward summer party over the top– I got to ride in an itsy-bitsy, teeny-weeny, cherry Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. I was the only “adult” who rode it. Except for the owner himself, who unabashedly admitting to riding it all the time. It apparently was a repaint of a car donated by the Shriners. Like, those people with the fezes. (Psst, Zoë!! The Shriners loaned us cars!) So… this was my driving practice for the year. It was the happiest I’ve ever been driving a vehicle.
 
Just in-case you thought the nuttiest thing about my week was becoming, essentially, a teacher of teachers, I got another one for ya’: My life is currently a really hilarious sitcom premise. Grantsville’s work has been split right down the middle. Or, well, the dividing line is pretty convoluted, but you feel me. (Which is why you’re reading this.) There’s ANOTHER pair of Grantsville missionaries, who ALSO now live in this tiny little one-companionship-sized duplex with us. We rearranged some serious Fung Shui in order to completely empty a room (that had never been empty, mind you), in preparation. We were even in a trio yesterday waiting for the other elder to show up. It was me, Elder ‘Ita, & someone you probably don’t know. Any of you know of an Elder Forsyth? Yeah, me, neither. …
 
… SO WHAT I’M SAYING IS, my old companion has returned to live with me after only just having left, &–can you believe it?– he’s already moved on! *dramatic head-toss* I’m so hurt! But I’ll get over it. Elder Silva came straight from Brazil less than twenty-four hours ago, after over ten hours of flight. So I guess he must be preeetty special, or something. 😉 Elder ‘Ita had the fantastic idea to make both of them a Welcome sign. He didn’t feel like doing it for Elder Forsyth, but he did it, anyway. He said he was following the Spirit on that one. & that be some serious Spirit-sharing. Everyone wants to feel welcome, right? Like, even if you only JUST left. It’s always nice.
 
Not only that, but Elder Forsyth had already BEEN back this past week, for the brother we were supporting in his determination to truly forsake his nearly life-long addiction to tobacco. (You might recall how this all started out because Elder Forsyth loves fishing. & loves this man that we had been taking fishing.) The week we started with him on this program, we asked him to have this meeting with someone outside of his family that he loves & trusts. At first, he was completely against doing so, but eventually made the slightly uncomfortable choice to invite a close family friend. That friend instantly showed forth so much of an outpouring of generous care that the meeting was moved over to HIS house. In the middle of our program overview, he said, “Can I just take a moment to say that whenever, & I mean whenever you need anything from me– a priesthood blessing, a person to go fishing with, or maybe just someone to talk to, I will drop absolutely anything I’m doing & hit the ground running. & you know why, it’s because I love you, & I love your family, & I would do anything for you. Nothing could be more important. I will make it work, somehow, regardless of my time or my health.” & that really was meant with sincerity. People like that are rare, & they are a bulwark of protection & fortitude. I hope we were able to assist in holding this wonderful man upright, alongside such cherished friends & family.
Whatever the case, he made it to the temple, for the first time in years. He invited us to come with him, because… he’s the best? I guess that’s why? Seeing him & his wife hold hands as they walked in & how they left with a tiny little squeeze was one of the most heart-filling images I’ve ever seen pass by me. (They seemed like teenagers as they did it– like, as if it were that new a relationship for them. I later asked about how they met, & they’ve known each other since highschool. So… I think I was seeing a little bit of that.) My mOm just happened to mention in her last mail to me how she & my dad started a long-running thing in our family where we’ll squeeze each other’s hands three times. (Squeeze, squeeze, squeeze! == I, love, you!) She did so when they were getting married, & my dad immediately knew what it meant. So, uh, to all of you, squeeze, squeeze, squeeze, 1-4-3, olive you, & I live you! Hint, hint, wink, wink, nudge, nudge.
 
We’ve been continuing to attend the 12-Step Recovery Program, & his son has started to attend with him, since the past few years have been pretty rough on him, too. Going around the room & sharing has been pretty terrifying for me, because I’ve been continually prompted in my heart to share things I had no intention to share with strangers. But… my little hardships & hurts & the spiritual Band-Aids™ that have gone over them have been something that these strangers have taken much more seriously than I expected. I’ve gotten the hugs & helpful phrases I’ve needed. (Also, last week, someone left a delightful reminder on the whiteboard. Photographed in the second attachment!) For the sake of not forgetting these gifts of words that arrived in the nick of time– Someone said I’d never know the difference I make, & that they see the Love in my eyes. Another admonished that people like me make up less than one percent of the World. I’d like to pass that on to all of you, too. You will never know the difference you make. I see the Love in your eyes. &– quite literally, being the people I’m writing this to– the thinnest slice of my selected sphere of those I know, you are RARE. &…
 
You are great, you are awesome,
sKye (eLder sOnomura)
09
Oct
17

elderSkyeSonomura_operationValidation_massemail.part040

(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!)

 
Ahh, truly, my sitcom-style antics of obliviousness know no bounds. I had ever-so-thoroughly packed up the necessary bits & bobs for a quick 24-hour companionship exchange, & every time I was about to leave the house, I stood in place on the porch, mulled over a mental inventory of my mandatory miscellany, & inevitably went straight back inside to scout out what I’d nearly neglected to take. After a few rounds of this, I shut the door, & headed to the car. As I was about to step into the car, I remembered one last thing, & proceeded to head back to the door. As I approached the door, I realized another thing that really ought to always be on my mental checklist before leaving: I’d locked myself out. I felt like that classic jukebox tune, “But She Can’t Find Her Keys”. But, for me, it was more like “But He Can’t Remember His Keys”. But, don’t you worry, Elder ‘Ita saved the day, because HE didn’t remember to lock the other door! & this is why the companionship works.
But really, my mental list wasn’t nearly as comprehensive as I’d evaluated; I forgot just about everything. I brought service clothes, but forgot to bring any proper footwear for the job at-hand. I didn’t bring any toothbrush or toothpaste, so I borrowed someone’s toothpaste & sort of swooshed it around with my tongue. I didn’t bring a comb or my spritzer (Elder ‘Ita thinks it’s as handy as I do, so he bought one, himself!), so I had to dunk my head– good memories. (On my YouTube, my mOm recently uploaded a video of me in 8th Grade that relates– “Morning Routine”.) Of all the things I DID remember to bring was… … cinnamon.
I took the plunge & just made myself a physical checklist while writing this up. I’ve even taken to making grocery lists, woah. I’m actually learn’d’ing! Amaz’g’ing!
We just held a long-awaited baptism for a 23-year-old named CJ. The hold-up on this special event is actually because he already had it, at the age of 8. But, uh… all evidence that it happened vanished, somehow– & since we believe in order, it was necessary to go through it again. Throughout the entire process, CJ was even more excited about the prospect than any kid I’ve met with thus far– but honestly, in many ways, it was more of a blessing for me to have this opportunity to meet him than anything else. I don’t know what doctors would say about CJ, but he has the basic demeanor of an 8-year-old. A rather smart & clever one, but an 8-year-old, nonetheless. He’s just a very unassuming, very loving lil’ big kid.
The joy he gets from all of this, & the gratefulness he feels is so completely evident in everything he does. He often goes all by himself to early-morning church… ever since I’ve been here, I’ve never seen him miss a day. He thought hard about every single question we asked him– to the point where I almost worried his forehead would split, hahah. Seriously, when he gets really serious about a question or is trying his hardest at praying or reading, he’ll even start to grunt like some gruff warthog. & whenever he got a question right, he’d let out one of the nuttiest, most unabashed laughs to celebrate. He just bursts with glee– it has to go straight out his fingertips– so he’s constantly waving & wiggling his fingers– he looks like he’s some kind of crazy-happy crab. This feeling of light from him is truly infectious.
& you can just always tell that CJ wants to help others & do all that he can, for his neighbors & his God. One thing I truly wasn’t expecting was for CJ to know so much about the Priesthood. It’s basically just a call for men to serve everyone, coupled with the power of God, to make such service possible. When I asked CJ what the Priesthood was, he immediately responded, “Well… it’s used to bless & pass the sacrament, I know that.” I was stunned as he continued to explain the nitty-gritty– including listing off all the different offices people hold in the Priesthood, & then he said, “& some day, I really wanna bless & pass the sacrament, too.” I was overcome, & up to this point, I’d been unsure of CJ’s accountability in this matter. Because, honestly, he’s kind of perfect. But I felt a doubtless impression that, really, this was all being done so CJ could finally hold the Priesthood & serve the way he’s always wanted to. I said, almost before I could register what I was saying, “I know you can, I know it’s gonna happen, CJ.” & after that, we finally began to plan this big redo.
On the day of CJ’s baptismal interview, CJ also had successfully passed a job interview & finished his first-ever work week. He had been under government assistance, but over the past month, through his efforts alone, he was deemed capable of working full-time. You can imagine how slap-happy he was. *crazy-happy crab dance* I actually do the crab thing with him; I can’t help it. & of all the things for him to point out about all of these recent blessings, CJ’s first exclamation of joy was, “I can finally pay my tithing!” Tithing is ten-percent of your earnings, donated to help with churches, temples, &– *gestures at myself*– missionary work. I’m glad that I’ve seen the blessings that come from it first-hand, but it certainly takes trust & love in equal measure to give up even an iota of what is sometimes valued by others more than Life itself. & CJ has both. Unsurprisingly, he always has! His stake president, who was his bishop long ago, spoke near the beginning of the baptismal service & mentioned both CJ’s faith in the priesthood & tithing specifically. When I relayed my experiences with him afterwards, he said, “I haven’t talked with him in forever, but whenever I thought about him, I just kept having the feeling that those things were important to mention.”
Quick step back for a moment, though– we came in early to set up chairs & fill up the baptismal font, ourselves– a first for me. (We even made the program! So crafty.) When CJ arrived, even more excited than before (which I thought was impossible– but on-top of his normal ticks, he was even making noises like a lawnmower revving up. Vvv-vvvVVvvv-vv…), we went over to the cabinet in the back of the bathroom to give him a jumpsuit, & saw each shelf completely empty. We panicked for a moment, & I spat out a quick prayer as we jumped in the car, to the only other building that would have jumpsuits, in the other stake. We didn’t even have any keys for that building, so I don’t know how we thought we were going to open ANOTHER cabinet. When we got there, though, the cabinet was wide-open, & overflowing with jumpsuits. Like how WE were overflowing with blessings. We hurriedly nabbed a couple sizes for CJ to try on, & got back before the font overflowed with water. We weren’t able to get in contact with anyone who would’ve known this until the end, but there WAS another cabinet in the building with jumpsuits in them. But we would never have figured that out in time, so– our stake-suit-stealing was still a necessity. (We washed & dried it ourselves & returned it, all is mended.)
Perhaps you can guess how the actual baptism part went. I mean, CJ’s original baptism technically doesn’t exist, & so just about everything was trying to keep it from finally being “put to rest”, as his old bishop said. For one thing, I think CJ is just a LEE-TTLE taller than his stepdad now. & for another thing, CJ doesn’t have the best spatial awareness, & so he’d grab hold of his eyebrows instead of his nose whenever he’d go under the water. Add to that a jumpy right foot, & you’re in for five attempts at a baptism, easy. His mom started to laugh & said, “Are you going for a swim, kid? You can do this!”
& that he did, that he did.
& I didn’t lose the paperwork, so, more learn’d’ing for me.
 
Warning: talking about religion!
This seems like the proper time to tell this story. Brother Anderson (from Mass-Mail #35) told us about how, as a lad, he lived next door to President Monson, before he became the prophet. Because apparently everyone here in Utah is best friends with him or something. (Happy 90th birthday to President Monson, by the way! Maybe some of you forgot about it… some other pressing news-of-the-day must’ve eclipsed it. Huh.)
Brother Anderson said that Brother & Sister Monson’s house was the best place to go on Halloween, because they always had the full-size candy bars for everyone. He & his best friend would come to their house to get one, quickly dive behind the bushes, open up a bag with a secondary costume, change into it fast as you please, & knock again. Sister Monson was no dummy, & would smile knowingly & say, “Oh, I like that costume, too,” & hand them each another candy bar, just to humor them.
One of Brother Anderson’s relatives in the neighborhood was named Danny. Danny had a type of debilitating brain cancer that slowly took away all his motor skills. Before Danny’s ability to get around & communicate became impeded, he loved to fish. Brother Anderson would take Danny fishing. He’d cast the line & set it gently in Danny’s hands, & would assist Danny in steadying his shaking hands as he performed the stilted labor of turning the reel. Even though Danny couldn’t do much on his own besides sit & look at the pole Brother Anderson would set up for him, Danny’s eyes were aglimmer with that same anticipation from before. Next-door, Brother Monson has had a lifelong love for raising pigeons, so he bought a few for Danny & helped him raise them, so he’d have something to tend to & enjoy while stuck in the house all day long.
Eventually, it was doubtless that Danny would leave here soon. As a 12-year-old, Danny was granted special permission to be ordained to the office of an Elder in the Priesthood. Brother Monson & others were there to do so, as Danny laid in bed. They blessed him that he would be able to do all those things he never had the chance to in this life– like have a family of his own, & to share & serve– & that many wonderful things would become, through him. I feel like his life here was just as much a sharing & a service, for many, as any of those things that are yet to be.
 
Done, thank you for your understanding!
Below, we have a group shot at CJ’s baptism– Elder Forsyth was there in Spirit… & also in Skype! :  ) (Elder Forsyth is kind of like a light switch, he’s either On or Off, no in-between emotions. & he was On that day– the man could NOT stop smiling. I feel ‘im there.) I’m also including a look into the way I teach things, hahaha– I hope the humor doesn’t get in the way of my sincerity in the visual aids. Also, I draw them under a time restriction, pardon the crudity of this model. When I was teaching CJ, you’ll see in the B-illustration that I drew a picture of CJ as a missionary, being an Elder after this life. I don’t normally talk about that, but… there’s just somethin’ about CJ. He’s a missionary to me. In one of the other talks at his service, one of his neighbors talked about how CJ & his family just have this way of opening up to people & helping them when they need it most. Goodness, I can’t stop gushing.
Also including the other half of Joseph snippets– do you remember how our beloved Dan mentioned his lifelong desire to be an actor? (He certainly looks it. Both Elder ‘Ita & I agree he looks like Chris Evans. … I don’t think he needs to hear that anymore than he already does, heheh.) We had no clue, but he was actually in this play. As… The King. As in… … The King. (You’ll understand soon enough. If you need another hint, we thought he was growing out his facial hair to look like HUGH JACKMAN.) He apparently played it once before in highschool, & wooed a great deal of grandmothers in the audience both times. (Ah, yes, the dream demographic.) In the B-clip, he actually gets a chance to serenade his girlfriend. Who I believe is sinking deeper & deeper into his seat. Also, we learned later how nervous he was to do this, practiced all week, & STILL messed up the lyrics. Such is the life of a Man in Love.
We also caught an amazing performance in church from one Trapp family. (I know!! It’s like von Trapp, except without the von!!) A brother & sister who look like they’re both still in elementary school performed arranged it themselves. I asked them afterwards if they’d ever shared any of their work online. They said no. So– you’re getting a real exclusive there. Elder Sonomura’s got the goods. That aside, we have two photos from an End-of-Summer Party in the 1st Ward (Have I mentioned we cover 17 wards? & a retirement home branch? No? Sometimes, I forget it, myself. Because I’m too busy catching up with how fast me’ head is spinning around me’ neck. Me’ life flashes before me’ eyes. It’s really borin’.) where I’m aaaalllll decked out in the latest in modern-faux-classique-retro-chic fashion. I’m gonna be sharing something in next mass-mail that really made my summer, though. Get ready, mOm.
You are great, you are awesome,
sKye (eLder sOnomura)