Archive for the 'operationValidation' Category

11
Jul
17

elderSkyeSonomura_operationValidation_massemail.part034

(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!)

 
More fresh Elder Forsythisms for you: “Al-a-gee” instead of “Algae”, “Alpha-alpha” instead of “Alfalfa”, & “Twinkle twinkle little star, how I wonder where you are, you’re so high up, & you’re in the sky. You’re so bright… & pretty… you’re a star.” instead of … well, I’d hope you’d know.
Even with my Preparation Day Fricasée (PDF?) out of the way, a rather laborious 6-hour hike took up a vast majority of my dealings. But at the very least, I MUST share the attachments of the week, which include a very extremely special guest star! (Check out the last image at the bottom, if you’re dying to know who it is.)
I guess I should start off with the sudden departure in our area. Cheryl left for Tennessee with her daughter & her dog. She didn’t seem to bother packing much of anything at all, & none of us knew it was coming until less than 48 hours before it occurred. This was pretty devastating for all who came to love her in the few months she was here. She’s been around barely any longer than I’ve been writing these e-mail out. We’ve heard this is par for the course for her, due to an unbased worry about being able to keep her daughter. In our first lesson with Cheryl, I mentioned about how the Holy Ghost (a gift we receive after baptism) can help bring peace & light into our often frustrating, heavy daily lives. She almost leaped up out of her chair with excitement, to know now that such a thing that was possible. & then she began to cry, because of just how consistently she experienced such overwhelming heavy emotional baggage in her life, & how much she wanted to feel the peace she’d always feel with us… but all the time. In following lessons, she told us all excitedly how she was determined to be baptized– how she knew it was important, & crucial, & how she couldn’t get it out of her head– this strong need to build this personal relationship with her Heavenly Father.
This whole slope-up & slope-down (much like the hike I took today) was pretty difficult to witness firsthand. I had to see Cheryl get so excited about her progress in quitting smoking, & see her entire countenance change as she succeeded through her diligence… then see it all come crashing back down when she spent some time in an environment that caused her to relapse. We reassured her that all the work wasn’t for nothing, & that freedom was within reach, but… she felt this time, she had to do it all on her own. &… then she left. We asked if there was anything we could do for them– everyone was trying to be there for her, but she was already gone before she was. I told her we all loved her– she DID say it back, as she closed the doors. At any rate, I hope that statement makes it in more than skin-deep some day.
My last happy memory at a meeting with Cheryl was when, after our lesson, her daughter Abigail had been preparing a little show for us on a stage at the church building we were meeting at. She’d set up chairs for each of us. She’d written that it was “Abigail’s Show!” on the chalk board, & then proceeded to explain how this was her show, & how awesome the show would be. She closed the curtains, opened them back up again, then noodled around quietly on my ‘ukulele (playing it on her lap like a dulcimer). She closed the curtains & sang the lyrics to a song Elder Forsyth & I had just sang called Love One Another. Although she sang them to a completely different melody that made it sound slightly polka-ish. She then opened up the curtains, closed them again, opened them again, then asked if anyone could play the ‘ukulele in the audience. I volunteered & accompanied her impromptu dance number. Then she had Cheryl come up on-stage as special guest star (to a great deal of applause), left her standing on the stage by herself, turned off all the lights, then ran out of the room to sneak behind us. Then the show ended. I think!
Colby, that wonderful gentleman we tracked down on Memorial Day, texted us out of the blue during our dinner appointment & said he “needed some missionary time”. That made our day, all by itself. Colby has such a strong spirit about him, & has really walked the walk… even when he couldn’t actually walk for himself. A couple years ago, his foot was run over by a large machine where he worked, leaving practically nothing left. He was told there was nothing left to do but amputate. He prayed & fasted fervently every day for a week in the hospital that he would be able to keep his foot. The nurses & doctors eventually decided to try a new procedure to salvage what was barely there. Since then, Colby has been on Worker’s Comp & has been legally mandated not to work. This sounded like it was going to be the case for the rest of his life. Miraculously, his foot has completely healed, & in the past few months, he’s finally been able to go back to work.
This transition back has been loaded with opposition, though. In an earlier visit, we texted Colby to confirm his evening appointment right when we woke up in the morning. We didn’t get a confirmation about the appointment until about ten minutes before it was about to happen. This is because his house almost burned down. It was all because of an old short-circuited Glade plug-in, which is the one of the most banal reasons I can think for a house to burn down. Not only that, but he was invited to go fishing with his dad, at the same time our appointment was scheduled. He didn’t let either of those things keep him from missionary time. Now THAT is unheard of amounts of commitment. I think Elder Forsyth was especially touched about giving up fishing to meet with us. 😉
Colby hadn’t smoked in years, but in taking up a new & potentially unsubstantial job, the stress caused him to regress one night. His wife caught him on the porch, & asked him what he thought he was doing. He said he didn’t know– which was about as honest as I think anyone could be about smoking. She threw his cigarettes away, he got angry, & he went for a drive around the block. When he got back, his wife had left him a little note on his bedside table. It said, “Read your scriptures & pray.” These simple things, he said, have helped keep him afloat. He also mentioned that he knew that he was overjoyed to hear we’d stayed, even after all these months, & that he felt that it was specifically so he’d be able to progress & be the kind of strong father he wants to be for his kids. After hearing all of this, I couldn’t help but mention, “Colby, us missionaries… we’re replaceable. & you are not. We’re so humbled to be able to meet with you, & it means the World to us, & we can feel so strongly that your Heavenly Father loves you & is proud of you whenever we’re here with you. We know you will be able to make these changes you want to make, & we’re just blessed to be a part of it, for however long. But it really has nothing to do with us. You’re just very important.”
At the end of this last lesson, he mentioned that he’d found out that day that he didn’t have enough money to pay the rent. His first response was to go & find some cigarettes, but instead, he reached out to us, instead. He said he knew he could make it, if he just had the faith to call us.
Hey, even Nanay (our Filipino grandma!) has been sharing with us about her struggles after her husband passed. She said she couldn’t stop crying, & she felt like no connection in this life could ever compare– that something irreplaceable was gone. She resorted to drinking heavily, & felt a sense of hopelessness & a loss of purpose in anything. As she told us this, she held her granddaughter (who she calls her princess) tightly. She smiled her usual whole-face smile (she made fun of me for drawing her in the lesson with her eyes closed– “They’re not always closed!”), even after expressing such difficult things to us, & said firmly, “Now, when I cry, I only cry for joy. I know now, for my husband, it is not a goodbye but a… ’til we meet again’.”
 
We’ve been going through the 12-Step Addiction Recovery program with Brother Christensen (he can’t find time to attend any meetings due to his trucking career), & outside of our reading time, he has made no time at all for any of the personal reflection he needs to write down. When we met with him the time before last, he wore a Camel cigarettes t-shirt with a pack of Camels in the front pocket. As we ended the lesson, I felt strongly that, instead of shaking his hand, I needed to give him a hug. When I asked with a silly smile on my face if I could, he was more willing that I’d expected. As kind & friendly as he’s been to us, & as sincerely as I’ve been trying to express my testimony, I didn’t really feel like there’d been very much in the way of real contact. Yet, he held me close. I felt I’d finally reached him– pushed just a touch past that pack of cigarettes placed over his heart. We told him we believe in him & we know how close he is to finally feeling free & being as he knows he can be. Some day, he’ll no longer have to think about toting around & refilling his oxygen canister– first, he just has to have faith, & act on that faith.
We’ve spent a great deal of time with this one member who had us over for dinner early on in our time here. We invited him out to fish with us. I was watching some Addiction Recovery videos off on the side. He asked me exactly what it is we do for those we teach struggling with addictions. I pointed out the strongest thing we can do is have all our family & loved ones pray on our behalf– & then to pray ourselves, fervently. There is such power in this– & I feel like everything else is just extra help. He nodded & seemed rather deep in thought. As I continued to watch videos, I got to a video that reminded him about earlier, simpler times for him. We had fun talking about this for a while, & then he asked us both to set down our things so we could talk. He asked us, “Is there any particular reason you’ve been spending so much time with me?” I told him honestly that we just thought he was awesome. He said, “Every time I’m around you, I get the strong feeling that you can help me.” We had no clue, but for the past few years, he’s been hooked on chewing tobacco. He said that when we walked into his workshop to invite him to fish, he had a huge wad in his mouth, & felt deeply embarrassed. He said, “I don’t talk about this with anyone, but the hairs standing up on the back of my neck right now… they don’t lie. I just know you can help me.”
We’ll give it our all.
Attached is a picture of our entire district after having laid out over 4,000 dollars worth of sod. (It wasn’t just what you see– we also did all the front, too!) Next is an excerpt from a very special baptism that one of the senior missionaries had for a man named Charles Phelts. His entire family was musical (We even learned this rather complicated round called The Greatest Commands on the spot for the opening song… Charles said, “It’s all about TIMING, but you’ll see that it’s very beautiful.”)… & his wife was part of a string quartet that played throughout the whole program. Then, we found a treasure trove of chess sets I’d like to share with Nova in particular– adding to the Muppet chess set from earlier. Then, during a lesson, a little boy named Mitchell sang his stinkin’ heart out with us as we played his personal favorite hymn, Search Ponder & Pray. Then he went Biblical & fell flat on his face during prayer, to unforeseen depths of reverence. He was, like, searching, pondering… praying. So I joined him.
Then, after other assorted silliness, there’s two pictures from our unexpected excursion to Temple Square! (Sorry I didn’t make it out in-time for you, Sara! If only… Also, gonna respond to your e-mail ASAP.) Elder Forsyth got to meet a sister from his home ward serving around the temple grounds– she’s the one with the Grecian-style headpiece. She also read a poem about the quality of the food at the MTC. I snapped passionately in response. We proceeded to take an intentionally terrible group shot.
Then, with considerable difficulty, we tracked down the TRUE Special Guest™ of the night. She’s the only one training at the Family History Center currently. She’s bounces up & down this building so fast that no one can keep track of her. But it’s because she’s determined to get everything done that she needs to, & she won’t let a moment waste. Everybody loves & respects her. One missionary said she taught him everything he knows. She even pronounced Elder Forsyth’s name right, which was a total shocker for him! May I present… my gramma. :  )
You are great, you are awesome,
sKye (eLder sOnomura)
07
Jul
17

elderSkyeSonomura_operationValidation_massemail.part033

(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 have… … a MCNALLY STRUMSTICK™.
No, I’d never heard of it, either! That’s what made me doubly jazzed. The Kluges, the family we did gardening & gophering for (I referred to it as Whack-a-Mole, but it was actually Whack-a-Gopher.), had us over for dinner again. Sister Kluge is a curator/collector of antiques (in a very legitimate way– NOT a packrat– her house is immaculate), as well as a creative craftswoman. Her entire house is painted a variety of colors, every wall complementing the other somehow & leading the eye in a pleasing & open way. We bonded quite a bit over discussing her technique; she based a lot of the scheme off a carpet she liked. Quite astute of her to notice that carpet designs often have a way of combining a large variety of colors without visually bombarding. Then, when I noticed all her beautiful clothes & furniture from the 1900s (which was used in her son’s wedding!), I thought to mention one of my personal favorite (& rather obscure) films, Somewhere in Time. Sister Kluge just happened to be a huge INSITE (International Somewhere in Time Enthusiast, for those out of the know), & has participated in the yearly fan gatherings at Mackinac Island. Ahh… see, this is why a lot of my favorite people at my home ward are the Relief Society sisters– they tend to get me more, phbft.
This time over, Sister Kluge had us begin dinnertime by carrying a gorgeous (and blessedly light) chest her mother owned out of the garage, & then she served us a first-time concoction of hers called “white salad”. She asked us to guess what was in it, & I was able to figure out the apples. The rest of the ingredients were cauliflower (which came pre-chopped, sold as “cauliflower rice”), a type of water chestnut, feta cheese, & Craisins™. I actually quite enjoyed it, but I had to admit that even for me, the feta cheese kind of overpowered. She asked me what I thought… I enthusiastically expressed how well all the unique elements came together, then sheepishly gave my two cents about cutting back just a bit on feta so every thing could be tasted, & she actually was remarkably pleased by my feed / food / fedback! Whew.
&… not only that, but right after my brave input over this brave food, Sister Kluge asked me what other instruments I happened to play. As I began to go through my odd, informal acquaintances with… all manner of music-maker… she snuck downstairs & pulled out a dulcimer, & something yet to be uncovered in a rather slender black case with an armstrap. Sister Kluge said she was most interested in seeing what I could do with whatever it was that was yet to be unearthed in this baggy. (The case is roughly the shape of a baton or even a clarinet– not something I would expect to contain a stringed instrument.) The McNally Strumstick™ looks like something in-between a shamisen (as it has three strings) & a banjo. &… it was Love at First Sight[reading]. The frets are positioned in such a way that absolutely any place you place a finger down sounds, to use a Rey’ term, floss. Both Brother & Sister Kluge seemed absolutely over-the-moon to be hearing this instrument played. As far as Sister Kluge can remember, she acquired it back in the ’80s or ’90s simply for the wood quality, & always yearned for someone to play it. She clapped her hands together & exclaimed, “See just how much you’ve been able to do with this, in just five minutes? Do you want it?” I couldn’t even look up; I just kept looking at the fretboard. I laughed nervously & said, “You can’t just ASK that question, Sister Kluge!”
She insisted, & I promised that I would never let this sonorous stick sit in silence, & use such powers only for good… for, as we all know, with great power comes great responsibility.
Oof, the amount of blessings I’ve been getting have been kind of overwhelming, & the past few e-mails have honestly made me feel very tiny as I’ve tried my best to plainly explain what’s been happening to & for us, knowing full well that the blessings really pale in comparison to whatever we’ve been doing.
Warning: talking about religion!
Makes me think about one of my absolute favorite scriptures, which at once makes me feel very tiny & also enormously, tremendously loved: “& now, in the first place, He hath created you, & granted unto you your lives, for which ye are indebted unto Him. & secondly, He doth require that ye should do as he hath commanded you; for which if ye do, He doth immediately bless you; & therefore he hath paid you. & ye are still indebted unto hint, & are, & will be, forever & ever; therefore, of what have ye to boast?” I hope that when I’m counting these blessings, I’m not coming off as I’m boasting of myself— I’m really trying to put a spotlight on the magnificent amenities of these people I’m so humbled to meet– who truly reflect the pure love & light of Jesus Christ.
… I guess while I’m here in this bracket, I’ll gush a little bit about this Sunday! It was a Fast Sunday, which means that I didn’t have any food or water for two meals in a row, & dedicated that time to God to come closer to Him & rely on Him through prayer. It’s always helped me receive answers, feel comfort, & know that He is truly mindful of every one. It’s one of the ways I’ve found out for myself of the reality of a loving & personally invested Heavenly Father.
As a missionary, Sundays are a bit of a marathon, & the amount we’re asked to do is more or less impossible on an empty stomach… even moreso, the Summer Sun™ rules over Grantsville with a fiery fist of fury. & without a bit of moisture in the atmosphere (I kind of feel like the superhero Frozone trying to pull moisture out of the air during a heavy building fire.), it can be difficult to keep your stamina up-n’-at-’em. Near the very beginning of the day– we were attending an early morning Stake Meeting before church actually started– I got that tell-tale sign that I was in for a magilla of migraine headaches. I get a lil’ floating, pulsing light that just gets brighter & brighter until it obscures just about everything in my vision. :  ) It is very unpleasant.
But, completely miraculously, after the pulsing portent passed, I was able to pace my energy & get that added strength & power that I’ve always found in fasting… not an inkling of a migraine headache for the entire 6+ hours of church sessions we attended! Thank you, Heavenly Father! & then I downed, like, enough water to fill up that one Chinese Brother. You know, from that story book, The 12 Chinese Brothers? It’s a lot.
Done, thank you for your understanding!
A lot of Utahns take vacations to Hawai’i. Because why wouldn’t they? One of the people in church & his wife spoke stirringly about their experience the week prior at church in Hawai’i. In specific, they spoke of hearing the entire church congregation stand after closing to sing Aloha ‘Oe (which you might recall from last mass-mail!) to a departing missionary. As these two noticed me nodding as they spoke, they asked me if I knew what they were talking about. Some folks behind me interjected, “I think he wants to play it for us!” So I did, & almost cried. I think that was the overall concensus in the room.
One of the people jokingly warned me, saying, “Now, don’t you expect that when you leave Utah, Elder!” I grinned & said, “Hey, you never know– I have high hopes that my very last ward will sing it for me.” So I’m just speaking that out right now– somehow, however unheard of, my last day in Utah will include Aloha ‘Oe…
… being sung by a whole bunch of people who have no clue what they’re singing. It will be the best.
To relay a few more service opportunities, even today, right after our Zone Activity, we were asked by the coordinator if we could help lift two pianos out of a house & into a storage unit. I couldn’t stop saying “Lift where you stand,” (church reference) because I’m a dork. Also, I was the only one in a white shirt. For the previously stated reason. We helped a family re-sort through a heavy massacre of 72-hour-kits (emergency food storage) that the father said was ravaged by “rats”. So turns out, rats can be 10-year-old humans with a MIGHTY NEED for the hidden candy in these kits.
The family wanted to pray with us before we started, & the mother actually cried a bit in the prayer while thanking God for us, which I wasn’t expecting. The dad, on the other hand, was too busy being low-key (not so low-key) mad at his children for their ruining of months of preparation. He kept throwing out sarcastic jokes & mumbling to himself (“I wonder why the Lord punished you so you’d have to waste your time doing this…”), while we tried our best to redirect him to seeing how blessed WE felt to be able to help.
After clearing the garage & sweeping up the sugar-dust debris, we asked for a return appointment. The next time we showed up, the father actually apologized to us for the grumpy state he was in, & as we weeded the backyard with him, we had a nice long conversation with us about the blessings of his life. *fistPUMP* Once again, weeding yards & pruning lives at the same time. So many gardening metaphors in the scriptures– I’m starting to see why.
Yesterday, we finished up a three-day splurge with a lady named Peggy who has, I believe, a basement stocked for the apocalypse. (Hey, she made the joke, too.) We seriously spent three whole service days coming back & lifting boxes & buckets full to the brim with sugars, salts, coconut oil, honey, agave (I didn’t know what that was, either.), rice, grains, spices, cereals, oatmeal, legumes, lentils, pastas, wines, ramen, shake powders, soup bases, smelling salts, pressure cookers, rice cookers, essential oils, doggy treats, dehydrated fruit slices, dehydrated peanut butter, powdered butters (I wish I still didn’t know what that was.), cartons of cream & milk… Elder Forsyth & I know where we’re gonna go when the world sets on fire. She said she thinks it won’t be for a long time before she needs help again… this time may never come to get to the “second step”… especially considering we are literally wall-to-wall & floor-to-ceiling with these buckets & boxes. But this first step was a delightful accomplishment in & of itself. Also, it made me think a little bit of that short story, The Cask of Amontillado. Like… I was going to bury myself under buckets of agave nectar, & not even know it was happening. :  ) Not a bad way to go. At least I was prepared, right?
We also spent a considerable amount of time raking out pond scum from that gorgeous wonderland I documented (fawsonfantasy)… the man who owns the property served his mission in Hawai’i, & his wife attended middle-school there. I think he enjoys cheesing me about not being quite as physically adept as my companion, & often made rather pointed jokes at me, but when he saw the large pile I’d accumulated, he actually was quiet & impressed. He said, in that same joking tone, “Okay, okay, that’s enough! You’re gonna kill yourself!” But the difference from before was I’d at least shown him I was working, despite not being quite as impressive a servile specimen as Elder Forsyth. 😉 We shall continue to comb up this kelp like eensy-weensy barbers until it’s kempt! Or… until we’re verklempt! One or the other.
You might recall me talking a little bit about a 14-year-old girl named Dakota who was recently adopted by her grandparents. One thing I know for a fact is how much she loves her grandfather. I think he might be the one person in the world that gives her belief in Good– & belief in herself. She apparently acts out in school (so much so that the principal said she didn’t want her there), & so, believe it or not, her grandfather attended every class of summer school with her to make sure she did well. & she did. He’s been a powerful force & a sure foundation for her… & I know it wasn’t easy for them to decide to take Dakota in, but they will truly make all the difference. It’s been hard for us to reach her in anywhere near as meaningful a way, & she has a difficult time understanding how any of this applies to her… so I felt like I needed to draw out my thousand-word thesis about… what all of this gobbledygook amounts to– why it matters. So that’s the first picture attached.
Other attachments include a very quick slo-mo (oxymoron but true) video of a sign along the road to one of our fishing mainstays (what a fishin’ mission…)– we were heading there with Isaac, & I’d recently thought I’d seen a sign for a fleeting instant with Isaac’s grandpa’s last name on it. I queried Isaac about it, & he explained that one of his aunts passed away young, & the Tayon family had adopted the highway in her honour. … As you all hopefully know at this point, I am passionate about garbage clean-up. I even wrote a SONG about Adopt-a-Highway. One of our wards back home had adopted a highway… but I’d never thought of someone adopting a highway on behalf of a loved one. Something about it just strikes me as particularly meaningful, given my thoughts on “cleaning up”. Makes me think of that famous quote about a life lived as a window-washer…
I also ordered a sandwich/friend & made a cookie pie. :  ) Yum.
You are great, you are awesome,
sKye (eLder sOnomura)
07
Jul
17

elderSkyeSonomura_operationValidation_massemail.part032

(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!)

 
Elder Forsythisms update: He does not say “Poor favor,” anymore. He says, “Poor fo’ favor.” He also now says, “Ollo” instead of “Hola”. He is also an expert at sincerely switching common sayings. He reminds me fondly of a character named Edric from a book called Once upon a Marigold. Examples: “Toodles to them” instead of “Kudos to them”, “The Calvary is coming” instead of “The cavalry is coming”, “conjugate” instead of “congregate”, “Cashmere cat” instead of “Cheshire cat”. That is all.
 
With that, be prepared for a serious service smorgasbord.
 
We’ve lifted gazebos & pulled down unsightly trees with the assistance of ropes & trucks at the Tayon’s house– which was a huge blessing, because it allowed us to spend some quality time with Brother Tayon’s grandson, Isaac, who lives in one half of the house. (He’s a dedicated worker, but it takes him a while to get revved up. He spent a good hour eating an apple before coming out to help.) Isaac has had a lot of good friends in the church, but he has a little social ineptitude that keeps him from feeling comfortable around people at first. He hasn’t come out to church in years, so we talked with him about the awesome activities & awesome things he could be doing. He’d already spent a couple days alongside us hauling wooden planks & miscellaneous scraps into a bin big enough to be someone’s house… This made it so the things we said were things he could tell were sincere & from the heart.
 
When we asked him if he’d like us to stop by & just review things with him, he was actually visibly excited, & agreed. Even his cousin, who’s never been particularly “into” the things us missionaries talk about, was at least intrigued enough to ask questions about why in the world we’d choose to do all of this stuff for free, 24/7… & what it is that makes us “so different”. I’m going to take that in a good way. I was in a lesson this week with a kid named McKenna who had never even heard the word “God”. I could visibly see the instant her brain burst. I asked her, “Are you okay?” She just nodded slowly, with her mouth slightly agape. I gave her a little concerned sideways smile & said, “We’re kind of weird, but we’re also nice.”
We’ve spent a few days now weeding, cardboarding, & mulching for a widow named Sister Holm. She served one of the very first Spanish missions, & had such a strong testimony & spirit about her that she changed the heart of her mission president, who had a bit of a vendetta against sister missionaries. He later told Sister Holm that the moment he saw her, he knew that sisters were supposed to serve. & she has quite the perseverant serving spirit. Even as we have tried to serve her, she keeps spending so much time serving us!…
… food!
Apparently, for a while, she worked for catering, & it shows. Her food is full of love, most of all. :  ) & y’know I’ve gotta document all that love-food. It’s attached below, as an eMeal! (That’s what my daddio calls sharing virtual food.) Also, yesterday was one of those unfortunate stomach-splosion days, & Sister Holm immediately threw a rather comprehensive questionnaire my way about my eating habits back home. When I mentioned my mOm’s fruit-veggie smoothies, Sister Holm drove straight to the store & back before I had any clue what was happening, & blended up papaya & mango & other such tropical standbys & virtually dumped it straight down my throat. In addition, she bought me medicine to try, & suggested a local doctor & offered to pay for the visit herself, if he didn’t do it for free.
… yeah, & all I’m doing is yard work. … I hardly consider this equal compensation.
One of the first families we visited with immediately fell off the radar, right after the first lesson. No amount of re-scheduling ever worked. But once we pulled out our Ace of Gardening Spades & our… er… Hearts?… (Ew. Immodest. Keep that in your ribcage, Elder.) … we were back in business. Absolutely everything was dead in the yard, & no one wanted to help out or get started, but then we bounded up & got into it. & things started happening, & not just in the garden! We were working outside, but we were getting INside.
We re-adjusted blisteringly hot roofing & threw an old attenna off the roof for a man named Brother Lot. & I do mean blisteringly hot in a physical sense. Poor Elder Forsyth slid & braced himself with his hands. One was bigger than the other for the whole day. Brother Lot also wanted Elder Forsyth to hit a live hornet’s nest off the drain pipe. We both declined this task, to Brother Lot’s disappointment. We think he might’ve actually been trying to beat us up a little, hahaha. But as I got up to disconnect the antenna, I prayed the entire time for safety. So everything was fine. Brother Lot looked us both up & down grumpily & muttered, “… Guess you’re all right, huh?” Yes. Yes, we are. So… Take that!
We carried, cleaned, & replaced the filtration system for Brother Lake’s pond (HAHAHAH)… everything had the smell & consistency of if I were back in Hawai’i… knee-deep in a kalo lo’i. (Ask for an explanation at your own peril.) We ended up providing Brother Lake with an unplanned service when we caught a whole mess (what’s the proper collective noun?) of bullfrogs for someone’s pond only to find out they were unneeded. We called up Brother Lake, & we could hear his voice get higher & higher as we described our find. He was very pleased. We tried our best to put the frogs in the pond, but… … the frogs put themselves in, in a record-breaking 2.1 seconds. Big Steve (another missionary named each of them) was the first to bust loose from the slammer/cooler.
There was a triathlon (running, biking, swimming, in that order) that requested our help in keeping time. In a completely unexpected turn of events, the man who came in first place hailed from Elder Forsyth’s church back home in the oft’ forgot blip-on-the-radar that is College Station, Texas. (It’s probably much bigger than Hawai’i… weird how that works.) I was especially intrigued by the family that came to support each other. This one boy named Ben ran alongside me, as I tried to catch a glimpse of the swimmer’s number, Sharpied onto their right shoulder. (There were a couple close calls with relaying the number. I swear, with arms flailing like that, & the water rippling like Godzilla’s near, there’s no way to tells the difference between a 3 & an 8.) Ben told me her mom’s number, who was fast approaching the finish line. Ben told me he came from Hawai’i, but had never been back since he was a baby. He said he didn’t know his birth mom, but his REAL mom was currently about to finish her race– more than 10 minutes faster than last year, too. Go, Ben’s mom, & go, Ben! The people to come in dead-last, by a long-shot, were two parents who were helping their son who may or may not have actually known how to swim. I saw him sort of swim a few times, but he spent at least half the time hopping weakly like a queasy astronaut. His father would drift beside him & usher him softly back on track. The son got about halfway through the pool & quit, but as he stepped out, his mother gave him a big grin & said, “I’m so proud of you.” They should win 1st in the Bestest Parents division, & that kid definitely got an important award from his parents, too.
Right afterwards, our planned service had cancelled, so we double-teamed with another set of missionaries in Tooele. They just happened to be doing service for a family I’d shared dinner with, the Higleys. From their silence as I waved my arms in the air, I could tell they did not recognize me. I said, “You made us roast!” They looked at the ground & said, “Haha… that’s what we tend to do every time…” After we’d finished moving rocks that were in the backyard to the front yard, & then moved the rocks that were in the front yard to the backyard (?!?), we had to split, so I said, “Bye! Thanks for driving us to church when it was snowing, that was very kind of you.” They just kind of looked around silently. … They were like that then, too. I think they might be a little pre-occupied. Just a little.
THEN the brand-new sister missionaries invited us out to their free car-wash/bike-wash. They’d apparently posted an estimated 300 fliers around town, which I heartily commend. The turn-out was impressive– almost no down-time for 3 straight hours! The level of filth on these cars was also equally impressive! (It almost seemed to me as if they’d gone the extra mile to get their money’s worth. … … which was zero dollars.) A whole bunch of little kids/smol chitlins (an Elder Wilcox coined that term) were eager to help, & all fought over who should hop up & clean the roof of the biggest truck. I tended to be the last man at every car, as they were turning the ignition, trying to get at the last fly in the grill. My thoroughness knows no bounds, & it is hereditary.
In passing, we’d seen a flyer for a Senior Center lunch. (We were givin’ talks & singin’ at the senior center’s church group!) It looked promising, & decided we’d stop in & ask if we could assist at a later time. About a week later, I was on Splits with an Elder Kent (yeah, he has a Superman insignia belt) & as we were driving around, I saw the Senior Center & the flyer flashed through my mind. I asked Elder Kent if we could stop in a moment, & as we parked, it was rather clear that the lunch was TODAY. The entire police squadron was there, along with the mayor of Grantsville. As we tried to find someone to talk to about a future opportunity to help out, a policeman tried to serve us food. We declined, which probably was the wrong thing to do. (Never refuse food from a cop. – Elder Sonomura, 2017) They eventually stopped being faux-upset, & one of the policemen pointed at my ‘ukulele & said, “I thought you were here to entertain us!” We were about to walk out to our next appointment, but… that got me thinking.
I asked if that was a legitimate request, & everyone actually seemed game on me crashing this lunch for a moment’s time. The co-ordinator asked me, “What’re you thinking about playing?” I said, “I was thinking I Feel My Savior’s Love?” He smiled nervously, & said, “Do you happen to have anything a little less religious? There’s all kinds out here, so we’re kind of legally obligated…” I laughed, thought, thought a little harder, made a face, thought my last thought, & said, “Uh, I don’t think that I actually know how to play any non-religious songs, off-hand.” Besides my rather esoteric original songs & arrangements, hymns are literally/lyrically all I know. But, in the end, I had a rather sneaky idea. I said, “Okay, what about I sing Aloha ‘Oe?” The co-ordinator snapped his fingers & declared, “Perfect.”
It WAS perfect. … In that it’s a hymn that we sing every time someone leaves a church ward. But it’s in Hawaiian. So no one knew what I was singing about. Yes. Perfect. *shows clear signs of that mad, rascally, maniacal laugh that Nova does when he’s playing a game*
Yesterday marked the start of the Aaronic Priesthood (also known as “Young Men’s”) Camp in Grantsville. The special guest of the night was to be our Mission President. (He loves Grantsville– he says if he were a missionary, he’d want to be here.) We drove out earlier in the day, & the way there was not particularly well-marked. A lot of trial-&-error was experienced along this long & lonesome road. </Jack Black> This, however, made us perfect guides for our President later that night. It felt rather strange & wonderful, knowing that President & Sister Palmer were, for once, depending on us not to lead them astray.
We ended the night with a camp sing-along (me accompanying) of Nephi’s Courage & Called to Serve. A lot of going, a lot of doing, a lot of serving… a lot of singing, & a lot of thing-ing!
Among the attachments are me doing archery (One of the kids we teach, Taylor, is staring at me in said picture! I carried his bike for him later on when he ran out of steam.)– I actually hit all 5 targets in a row (doing my archery whiz mOm proud), a beautiful drawing by a girl named Grace & my feeble attempt to recreate said drawing, & three photos of me hangin’ out with my twin. Her name is Emily, & she was born in Utah on November 11th, 2016. Which is JUST about when I was born into Utah. (For all I know, that could’ve been the very DAY. I arrived at the MTC on November the 16th, if memory served.) So… we are basically the same age. In related (literally, related to her) news, Her two older brothers, Axel & Carter, were recently asked by a relative what they would be, if they could be anything. They said they wanted to be missionaries. Carter said he wanted to be Elder Forsyth, & Axel said he wanted to be me.
:  )
… But I’m PRETTY sure, considering those time-tables, Emily is me.
& I am Emily.
Goo goo.
Ga ga.
You are great, you are awesome,
sKye (eLder sOnomura)
07
Jul
17

elderSkyeSonomura_operationValidation_massemail.part031

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

 
Before I expound upon the theatrical terrificness, let me give this just a bit more context: We weren’t going to have time to go to Pirates of Penzance. We didn’t figure out about its one-week showing before we scheduled a Family Home Evening with a family that specializes in giving people large quantities of varied meat. Which was important, of course! All of a sudden, only two hours before Monday’s performance, we got a text from the wife that they’d completely spaced & would have to reschedule. (Ahhh, anyone reading getting nostalgia for their missions?) Elder Forsyth was pretty furious, at first, & wasn’t particularly interested in Pirates… primarily because there WAS a fee. I promised I’d pay for us both, because I thought it was important that we support Adrian. He accepted this arrangement, & <insert the amazing intervention by a ticket agent from last mass-mail>… I popped some popcorn, grabbed some arare (a must-have addition in Hawai’i), then we gallantly galloped to the Old Grantsville Church with great haste, in our mighty chrome steed.
 
It was the greatest performance of With Cat-Like Tread I’ve ever seen. & YES, Adrian was part of it– he was both a pirate & a policeman. Best of both worlds. Chaotic lawful & chaotic neutral. (Let you decide which was which.) Adrian was a serious Dick Van Dyke-type, with his graceful pratfalls & effortless charm. As I perused the show program during the intermission, the producer’s name sounded strangely familiar. There was a fleeting glimmer of one of the last memories I had of being in the Palmer’s house before the move– a yearbook photo-like portrait of an elder right behind a new TV. I remember asking the Palmer girls about it as we waited for their mom to emerge from the basement. They said excitedly, “That’s Bubba! Uncle Bubba! Yeah, he served a mission! He stopped by to say hi, & he gave us a TV!”
So, the producer of this play was Bubba Palmer. I thought, “Well… how many Bubba Palmers in Grantsville can there be? Eleven, maybe? Those are some good odds.”
I asked the soundboard technicians (who we were practically sitting with) if there was a Bubba in the house tonight. (Using those words, hahaha. “Does there happen to be a Bubba in the howwwse too-naight?“) We were led out the back of the auditorium, back around to the front entrance. The technician came up to a man selling $1 water bottles & candy bars, saying, “Hey, we’ve got two gentlemen that wanna teach you a couple lessons!” The vendor laughed & said, “It’s about time they found me.” Bubba shook our hands, & asked how we were enjoying the show. In the past act, both I & Elder Forsyth had come to see this show as an absolutely moving display of the power of community. Out here in Grantsville, there’s so many interesting people, but not an awful lot of things holding them all together. Apparently, Bubba had started this up himself. Directly after his mission, he felt like it was time to bring some of the Arts out here into the desert. You could really tell that everyone in this production was having the time of their lives telling a story & being big kids. (I mean, halfway through, we noticed that one of the pirates was secretly our Ward Mission Leader. The one whose son I sang “happy birthday” for. He’s one of the most timid, unassuming men I’ve ever met. & there he was. A pirate. The magic of community theatre.) I made sure to tell Bubba that the joy of this was totally infectious.
Then I asked about Kaitlyn, Kalissa, Kimber, & Kory. I was right– they were his nieces. He smiled & pulled out his phone, “Yeah… they’re my special girls.” He pulled up a picture of Kalissa in full-on Who geddup, from last year’s performance of Seussical. Apparently, Kalissa is a pro at walking on her hands, which made her a shoe-in to represent such a wubbulous world. Two months from now, Kalissa, Kimber & Kory will all be part of the chorus in Joseph & The Technicolor Dreamcoat. Kaitlyn apparently doesn’t do so well in public situations. (But we HAD recently heard her quietly sing along with us as we sang, “My life is a gift. My life has a plan. My life has a purpose, in Heaven it began.” So it’s definitely not a question of talent!) So just when we (I, you) thought this whole Palmer debacle couldn’t possibly get more interesting, we find out that the Palmer family is a regular family Von Trapp! Which explains in retrospective why Kory & Kimber have always been literally bursting in anticipation for me to play the ‘ukulele every time we stop by. “Can you play it?! Again!?!”
As we re-entered the auditorium, an old married couple chatted us up. Not only were they currently serving a mission together here… but their son is ANOTHER one of our Ward Mission Leaders! (& another one of their sons worked in the same child-care facility that I went to for my yearly check-up last week! … yeah, it was child-care. I am a child of God.) I’ve also forgotten to mention that the entire audience was pointing us out to their children, excitedly. “Look, it’s the missionaries!” Ahhh… see? Simply being visible, instead of being in a car all day– it makes a real difference! Who knew that attending a quaint local performance (which I had no clue would be so well-attended… both in quantity quality) would turn into such a get-to-know-you affair?
During the second act, when all wrongs are righted in five minutes– in a short but intense fight sequence, a pledge of loyalty to the English monarchy, a massive wedding dance (with every pirate & policeperson participating), & a life-affirming aria (if only problems could be resolved so simply, no?)– there was actually one last obstacle in the way of our tight-knit cast’s Happily Ever After… the circuit breaker. I don’t think that I can properly do the cast’s perseverance justice– just watch “adriancamfinale” below– yes– I actually did catch such a Once-in-a-Lifetime moment on film. Now that was some serious “show-must-go-on”-ing in action.
As we exited after this literally show-stopping show-stopper, the cast actually lined up directly outside the doorway, leading all the way out to the parking lot. It was amazing to hear each of the castmembers actually personally thank US for being there. One of them told us, “That’s how you know your play has REALLY succeeded: if the missionaries show up.” Adrian gestured emphatically towards us as we approached & told his fellow policemen, “See these finely dressed gentlemen? These right here are my biggest fans.” & that we are. The Pirate King, at the very end of the line, was the sweetest of all (aren’t all pirate kings really the most soft-hearted?)… he said that the moment he heard we were there, he felt a surge of inspiration, & felt a need to up the ante & really make this a special performance for us all. He was completely drenched with sweat– you could tell he’d put his all into this. Everyone had. There’s something that local theatre in intimate venues has that big performances never will have. You almost start to feel like family by the end of the show. I suppose that’s how I feel about the small meetings we have with people every day. They are unforgettable interactions.
There’s been quite a bit of fixing going on this week. We ate dinner with a family called the Rusts not too long ago, & it so turned out that Brother Rust was highly sympathetic to the alien in my stomach. He’s had a rather rough & extended case of Crohn’s in his life. Apparently, he was told he was wouldn’t live past his thirties when he was first diagnosed. He’s such a medical enigma that he & his daughter are being thoroughly studied in a medical journal. (& they get paid for it! … That must be an odd thing. It means you’re special, but… broken…) He actually asked me to close my eyes, hold certain foods on a plate, then asked me whether I had a natural inclination to tip forward or backward with each. He must be pretty in-tune with this sort of stuff, because I wasn’t quite sure whether I was tipping at all. Maybe I’m always tipping. As we left, he even showed me how, in his line of construction work, he uses a technique to figure out where the pipes are underground by holding two bent metal rods loosely. As he passes over them, they, of their own free will, turn inward. It never worked for me. I guess I just need to find my own way about all of this. But hearing a lil’ similar life experience put me much at ease.
 
Another family that looked out for me this week was the Hufftys, one of our beloved senior couple missionaries. Sister Huffty’s allergic to almost everything except Indian food, & brought up that one thing that had really given her a lot of relief was this probiotic yogurt-y drink called milk kefir. So turns out that both me & Elder Forsyth really get a kick out of this delightfully obscure health food. (I wasn’t expecting Elder Forsyth to be quite as psyched as I was… but, hey, I guess that’s what happens when your dad is a renowned physical therapist?) Slowly but surely, I’m, at the very least, making friends with uninvited guest in my tum-tum.
Before I move on, on the subject of foods, I have to say that certain lil’ snacky-doodles have really kept my morale from going too low. For example, eating oatmeal with cinnamon & mixed nuts immediately makes me feel like I’m close to my fambly back home. & if you can believe it, I’ve kept a batch of my grandma’s cookies in reserve for the past six months. Slowly rationing them out about two a month, & I have finally reached the last cherished chunk-a-crunch. One of my favorite superheroes once pulled out one of her little sister’s homemade cookies in a dire battle, & received strength from the love that was in them. Even beyond foods (foods are so important!), there are certain things or events that happen that are just full of that love I need to get up & fight the good fight again.
 
The Hufftys saw that the soles of my shoes were putting on a puppet show as I walked. They practically yanked them off my feet & demanded they glue them. I didn’t know at the time, but they’d never even done it before. They said that when they let the glue sit for a night, they came back & there was a frothy foam effervescing from my footwear. They cleaned it off with the utmost of care, brought it back to me a little bashfully, I slipped them on, &… felt some serious joy. :  ) Comfortable shoes is kind of an oxymoron to me, so this specific pair has been rather near & dear to me. Getting to continue my relationship with these two fills my soul… & my soles… with love.
For the past three months, my magickal Mary Poppins bag has had a rather sizable tear in it. It hasn’t interfered with its functionality, but it’s been a bit of a sad thing for me. I mean, you have no clue how tough this beast-of-a-bag is! It snagged on the seat-position adjustment lever in our car as I tried to get out quickly, & that was that. I just figured I’d have to deal with this bag battle-scar for the rest of the mission. Then, when we ate with yet another one of our Ward Mission Leaders, Brother Martinson, after sharing a song (Brother Martinson was born in Hawai’i, so his entire family has a penchant for being musical– bringin’ that Family Von Trapp life back again!), Sister Martinson looked down at the open wound in my bag, & asked how much time we had before our next appointment. Before I said another word, she’d already pulled out the full sewing kit. In record time, she got through all three layers of denim. I’d take pictures of my shoes & bag in their current remedied state, but… uh, they look like they’ve never been broken. So they’d just look like a normal pair of shoes & a normal [LEVIATHAN OF A] bag. But they are anything but to me. Every time I look at them, I can’t help but smile. :  ) & smiles-on-demand are always welcome.
 
Well, coming to a close, guess I better end this with a…
Warning: talking about religion!
 
Brother Martinson went out for an hour with us to help us reach more people. We met a former circus freak who specialized in eating lightbulbs & sprinting on all fours. As we walked off, Brother Martinson cheerily remarked, “Isn’t it just wonderful how God makes all of his children so unique?” We met a lady named Barbie, whose daughter was holding a much smaller, much more rubbery Barbie. :  ) But her mom’s the real deal. As we ended for the night, Brother Martinson said that one of the perks of coming out with him was getting a big ol’ ice cream cone at Two Scoop Tuesday. As I waited for my raspberry cheesecake & raspberry dark-chocolate scoops, a family in line with me ordered a whole slew of random, intriguing flavors. The dad laughingly noted that they’d probably taste bizarre together. I said, “Hey, you gotta commit to it. You gotta go for something a little different.” He enthusiastically responded, “That’s exactly what I think, man! There’s a million other choices no one ever even tries!” The look of child-like bliss on his face as bit into the cone made me say, “It’s the little things in life, isn’t it?” He tossed his head serenely, & said, “That’s the truth.”
He started to sing along to the music over the radio, which was Lilo & Stitch, which immediately got us talking about my Hawaiian home. Crazily enough, this family had come from Florida for the summer, & had participated recently in a sort of pen-pal postcard correspondence with a family from my island. They pulled out a familiar (to me, at least) sea-side Snapchat with someone holding up the father’s name in magic marker on a piece of paper. His name was John!
We shared a song with the family as they waited for the rest of their ice cream, & John let it slip that he had no clue what a missionary even was. I sort of explained it in brief– we teach people about God, & I just happen to be a little different & use music to help. They left, & I thought that’d be it.
Then, as I exited, they were still in the parking lot. John actually approached me, & told me, “Hey– you have a great day.” I suddenly felt strongly that I needed to talk just a little more with John. I hastily placed my cone in the side of the car door (there were no cup-holders), & walked up to John & said, “Hey, not to be too pushy, but would you be interested in having any lessons from missionaries like me?” John said, “Hey, sure. Why don’t you give me your number? Do you have a card or something?” I grabbed a little pamphlet (missionaries are always overflowing with pamphlets) about eternal families, & scribbled it on the front. As I did so, John asked, “So, if you don’t mind me asking, are you Christian or something?” I nodded, “Yes– we believe in Jesus Christ.” John looked relieved, continuing, “So, being Christian, how do you feel about this whole MORMON thing?” I laughed & said sheepishly, “Uh… well, we ARE Mormons.” John was shocked, & pressed more, “Then who’s this Joseph Smith I keep hearing about?” As I riffled through my bag one last time, I said as simply as I could think, “He was a prophet called of God– just like all the other ones in the Bible, like Moses & Abraham… Joseph Smith taught all about Jesus Christ. He’s no replacement for Jesus at all.”
 
John thought about it, & nodded, looking at me again. He said, “Ahh, I had no clue you Mormons believe in Jesus. Crazy! Have a great day!”
I said, “You, too! Hope your family has an awesome vacation,” then pulled my cone out from its haphazard hiding place in the car door. Brother Martinson told me, “Guess you had to earn that cone first. How does it taste?” I said, “Well, it’s obviously better now.”
 
Done, thank you for your understanding!
 
So… this has been crazy! & have a great day!
 
You are great, you are awesome,
sKye (eLder sOnomura)
07
Jul
17

elderSkyeSonomura_operationValidation_massemail.part030

(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!)

 
As an update to my ineptitude concerning Roman numerals, I’m pretty sure it was supposed to be XXIX?… E-e-eh?… Every time I guess, I feel slightly smaller, hahaha, like a Flintstone character shrinking when they lose an argument.
 
Speaking of shrinking, I feel pretty teeny to report that, like every other night, no one was home at Marissa’s house. There’s just something about that house that repels people from it! It’s so easy to meet up with Marissa & her brother Adrian literally ANY other place but at their house… Maybe if we agreed to meet two feet away from the curb of their house? Worth a shot, I suppose!
 
Marissa was one of the first people I met out here, & she means such an awful lot to both Elder Forsyth & I. We’re far from proclaiming defeat here– like Nanay, she deserves someone who’ll fight alongside her. She has a wonderful circle of support, & she, on the whole, seems to be doing well. I mean, if you want any indication of her personality, she pretended rather convincingly to take a huge bite out of the corner of a songbook the first time I met her. But every so often, she’s gotten quiet & seems to be thinking far away, to things that don’t seem to be the most pleasant to ponder. I don’t know if I’m just reading a touch too deeply into things. That’s something I tend to do; it comes with the whole caring thing. But all I know is there’s lots going on in these lives that we have such little comprehension of, & we must do our best to bolster up them all from our vantage points. Do it for her! </similarly obstruse cartoon reference>
 
Marissa’s brother Adrian I met only seconds both Marissa. From behind closed doors, I heard him drowning the house in rollicking piano muzak. He has the speech patterns & bravado of a young Jeff Goldblum, & he makes a mean emcee. He invited everybody in church to a musical event, enthusiasm busting outward from his lanky frame. He made absolutely certain we attended, & had our minds properly blown from the aural accompaniment. On Sunday, we decided to enjoy some time around him & his young men’s group, & one of Adrian’s close friends was brought up in the last class of the day. Her name is Emalee, & she’s recently undergone an intensely unusual & unusually intense jaw surgery. A deformation from birth had gotten so out of control that it physically had to be broken into pieces & put back together again, like some helter-skelter Humpty Dumpty. The pain had been so horrid that she hadn’t been able to make it out of the house.
 
The bishop let the boys discuss Emalee’s circumstances a little while longer, & as discourse dissipated, & he said, “So, I’m ending this class right now. It doesn’t matter, in comparison to what Emalee’s going through. What I want all of you to do is go over right now to Emalee’s house, & make her day better. Is there any reason why you, as young men in the church, can’t leave her with a prayer & a blessing? Absolutely not. Let’s get out there.” As we exited, Elder Forsyth was thinking, since we didn’t really know Emalee at all, that it would be better if we didn’t tag along. As I was quietly rebutting, “Well, we never really know anybody, at first…“, Adrian turned around & enthusiastically gestured to us: “You coming?!”
 
You just can’t say no to Adrian.
 
As each rickety car arrived, we stood in a long line of white shirts & ties, underneath the limited shade of the narrow roofing at Emalee’s house. When we entered, Emalee could only mumble a limited range of inflections. She had a tiny little whiteboard on her lap. She picked it up, carefully inspected the ring of young men around her, & then dramatically wrote a tiny, “Hello.” We all grinned & said, “Hello,” right back. She then wrote, “It’s a little hard to think.” She apparently had borrowed out a whole tower of library books, & prepared a list of movies to watch while she was out of commission, but the pain was making it so difficult to enjoy anything that really the only thing to do was lay around with the dogs. (The dogs were very happy that she was around 24/7, at any rate.) Adrian said, with his freely dispensed goodwill n’ cheer (ironic tidbit: his last name is Bitter), “It’s so good to see you!” He asked if she wanted a blessing, & as we all stood around her corner of the couch, Adrian gave a very quiet & personal prayer, for us all.
As we were about to leave, I whipped out my ‘ukulele & shook it tentatively in her direction. Her mom said, for us, that the one thing Emalee was absolutely devastated about missing was the songs at church. (That’s MY favorite part, too!! Always has been, always will be.) I asked the young men if they all knew I Feel My Savior’s Love, & got them all in-sync with me. Don’t you just love that mix of confidence, yodeling pubescence, tepid murmurs, & macho faux-bass that comes from any random selection of young men when you ask them to sing? At any rate, I can say with a surety that both me & Adrian were singing, & everyone else was… doing their own thing, too. Just perfect. You know, it all just works out, in its own wonderf’lly wonky way.
Speaking of wonderf’lly wonky workings, Elder Forsyth & I were cleaning out our ePlanners. I’ve been trying to channel my mOm on these Thursday sessions. She is truly the unrivaled master of what Elder Forsyth dubs “the Game Plan”. (Speaking of, other Forsyth-isms are, “just chuck it back there”, “that’s ballin'”, & “*with no effort to pronounce* one moment, poor favor”.) There is far too much to keep track of, & I constantly seem to be beyond my limits, but since I’ve grown up seeing someone who actually makes Things happen (not one family out here knows how to pick & keep an appointment), I at least know it’s possible. As I attempted to clean out some old discarded records of uncontacted people, I noticed a name that seemed oddly familiar to me. As I investigated, I found that not only was the name familiar, but the entire address, even up to the ZIP code. I scrolled down further, & found the contact referral had been given by one “Elder Sonomura”. This man, Daryl, had been my first attempt at a contact, over a very uncomfortable & muffly headset, in the Mission Training Center. Daryl lived in Florida. Daryl wanted a set of free scriptures. Daryl was exasperatedly aggravated by the end of my call with him, because I could NOT hear him to save my (or his?) life. He asked me, “Where are you from? I’m speaking English, what’s your accent?” I said, “I’m from Hawai’i.” He said, “That’s in the United States, what’s the issue here, man?”
Ahh, I was the only one who got yelled at in that call center, how truly special. Got that out of the way before I even waddled out West.
The issue was, beyond anything else, the earpiece. Communication simply wasn’t coming through it. Similarly, something must’ve gotten lost in translation (from English to English) along the way, because this Florida referral ended up in Grantsville, Utah. Seriously– this wasn’t just a profile that was following ME– it went straight to Grantsville in November, where the elders immediately dropped the name, for obvious reasons. Given all the rather mispronounced missteps here, I can’t quite explain how Daryl came back to me. So I felt it was my time to send him back to HQ. Here’s hoping they heard me loud & clear. Daryl’s still waiting, after all, to yell once more. :  )
Communication’s tough. & you never know when you’ll misstep again. I had a bit of a misstep with Elder Forsyth during a difficult lesson, & I felt absolutely rotten about it. I’m going to blame it on it being a full moon day– everyone gets on each other’s bad side on a full moon day. Elder Forsyth said vocally that he forgave me… but nothing felt good still. I decided to grab a piece of cardstock &… make that stock into a card! Elder Forsyth has an awful lot of added responsibility, in comparison to other missionaries, & he handles it with such grace & determination, & I think he doesn’t hear (or perhaps even accept) how brilliantly he’s doing. Althroughout our time together, I’ve constantly brought up how honoured I am to be his companion, but he’s consistently found ways to negate it every time. So I think, if anything, the card can give him something physical that contains such worthy Validation. He never said (& probably never will say) anything about the card, & yet, I automatically felt so much better. In the days that followed, Elder Forsyth even told some other elders, “I’m so relieved I stayed with Elder Sonomura. Me & Elder Sonomura always get along!” He said it with such sincerity that I hadn’t really heard in the “I forgive you”… I could finally breathe again! I never want to be a hindrance… all I want to do is help.
One of the first things we were taught in the Training Center is to always be praying for your companion. So… I’ve been praying for Elder Forsyth to catch a fish. Poor Elder Forsyth has gone over seven weeks without a successful catch. This last week, he told me he was thinking about actually giving up. I told him firmly that I KNEW for a fact he would catch a fish, & demanded that he absolutely could NOT give up. Fishing may not be my thing, but I KNEW how much this meant to him. Just today, we were escorted to a nice little riverside by a man named Brother Lake (how perfect is that?), & as I cheered him on from the sidelines, Elder Forsyth obliterated this fishing stagnation by reeling in SIX STINKIN’ FISH. (Well, all fish stink. Whatever.) I have never seen Elder Forsyth quite so content with his life. & I have never been quite so happy for someone else. Truly, a miraculous Monday. Thank you, Heavenly Father!
There’s tiny little wonky wonderments to behold from moment to moment… one thing you might notice is how very infrequently I speak of food in my travels. One thing you might also be aware of is how much I love food. … Simply put, I’ve been spoiled. My family is full of culinary connoisseurs. Hawai’i is a place that takes food seriously. In contrast, I haven’t even been able to have decent Mexican food out here. Well, everyone else’s palates seem to be placated, but I am, apparently, unpleasable. I almost began to think my taste buds had gone bad– but this week, I was saved from humdrum meals. Saved by a taco truck. I went up to the lady heading this Taco Man truck (She runs it all by herself… I guess that she is The Man?), & noticed upon this plain-looking laminated menu that there was a Chile Relleno Burrito for four dollars. Now… because of my mOm, I have a passion for chile rellenos, & I don’t think a Mexican restaurant can be TRULY great without a proper chile relleno. Every chile relleno I’ve had out here thus far had flunked. I asked, with rising spirits, if I could purchase one. Taco Abuelita said that, regrettably, they were out for the day. Instead I bought a giant pork quesadilla for $1.50, with the BEST salsa verde I’ve EVER had (I could DRINK a whole bottle of that, YO.)… but I vowed to Taco Abuelita that I would be back. Back for my beloved.
The moment I stepped up two days later, she said, “Chile relleno burrito.” She remembered. :  ) Not only that, but she asked for $3.50. I asked, “Oh– isn’t it four… ?” She said, “Yes, but for you, it is $3.50.” Taco Abuelita truly didn’t need to– she is literally across the street from the subpar & rather expensive Mexican restaurant. I’d gladly dish out that sort of money to her, instead. I let her know, as I bounced away happily with my aluminum bundle of toasty happiness, that she was the best Mexican in Utah.
… Well, I didn’t say it quite like THAT, that sounds a little weird. Perhaps she IS also the best Mexican person in Utah, though! I’m not about to doubt that. She’s a superhero in my eyes.
End-result: the chile relleno burrito was the best thing I’ve eaten in the past six months. My taste buds are NOT broken– I just needed Taco Abuelita to save me from munchin’ more mediocrity. Instead, I’m up eating exalted enchiladas!
Going back to Adrian to bookend this– Adrian’s actually performing at the Old Grantsville Church (which is apparently the New Grantsville Theatre… ?) tonight in Pirates of Penzance. I haven’t had the chance to ask him what exactly he does in the show, but… man, if he does anything in the song With Cat-Like Tread, I will NOT be able to stop laughing. Only 10 minutes into this e-mail, it was seeming like we were too late to book for tonight–it’s the only night we can attend such things. The ticket agent texted us back saying he’d definitely give us a discount, but tonight was sold out. But, as I just said, when Adrian invites you to something, you canNOT say no to that smile. We would find a way. When we mentioned our plight as elders on a Preparation Day, we immediately got a response back.
Here it is, verbatim: “Ahhhhhhh Yeah. I was a missionary once. Um….You can come sit back by us in the booth. I’ll be taking tickets so I’ll get you where you need to go. 🙂
So– tune once again into… Mass-Mail XXXI (I’m DEFINITELY doing this wrong now, aren’t I?!) for a New Old Showing of the Old New musical masterpiece. I am the very model of the Modern Major Missionary, &…
You are great, you are awesome,
sKye (eLder sOnomura)
07
Jul
17

elderSkyeSonomura_operationValidation_massemail.part029

(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!)

 
We now tune in to the heavily anticipated Mass-Mail XXIV… er– wait, I think it’s XXVIIII. Or, V… VIV…?
Man, both my best friend & I have no clue how to do Roman Numerals right. That’s a bit shameful.
This week’s been half-sneaky-peeky-business & half-artsy-fartsy. On the sneaky-peeky side of things, we finally tracked down the mother of one of our investigators, at the local reservoir on Memorial Day. A few days before I arrived, this girl (Marissa) was completely set for baptism. Then her mom swooped in at the last moment & said we had to start all over again for this to be valid in her eyes. She told us to make an appointment with her, & immediately fell off the face of the Earth. We have stopped by more than once every week since I arrived, without a single success. Marissa & her brother never know where their mom is, either– she’s gone for weeks, sometimes. I honestly can’t imagine how that feels. We meet with Marissa & her brother weekly when they attend a friend’s Family Home Evening, & one of the first things I did here was give Marissa a blessing of comfort. More recently, I sang for her birthday. She’s told me her favorite song that I play is Love is Spoken Here, which starts off by talking about the importance of mothers in the home. I don’t have very much first-hand experience, but I’ve gotten the sense that there is a lot of tension in the air. That’s probably why no one ever seems to answer the door– no one wants to be in the same room together. That hurts me to think about, & I have a feeling the lesson we set up for this Tuesday night will be a bit of a doozy.
On a lighter note, Marissa’s mom didn’t even recognize Elder Forsyth in his civilian clothes. This is probably why she didn’t run away from us.
We also finally tracked down Colby– who you might remember had made amends with a long-lost friend after a life-story I shared about forgiveness. Colby & his family were recently forced to move in a week’s notice due to his landlord selling the property out from under his feet– near-literally. We were almost certain we lost him, until we saw his truck parked in-front of a Maverik, a full-sized American flag billowing from the back. We shuffled around as inconspicuously as we could, & when we tapped him on the shoulder– well, I’ve never seen someone quite so happy to see missionaries. He had been so worried about us leaving, so it was a blessing to be able to catch HIM, in quite the real way. This Sunday, out of the 17 wards we could’ve possibly attended, we chose one that Colby decided to come to. It wasn’t even where he goes– it was to support a family friend whose child had just been born. But, lo & behold, Elder Forsyth & I walk up to the front, volunteering to speak, & Colby’s lookin’ straight at us. I even got to see his wife & three kids for the first time. Actually, we almost never met with Colby to begin with, because he knew his wife wouldn’t approve. If it wasn’t for the question, “Well, could we just meet at a church?”, which we were prompted to by our mission president’s wife, we would never have had the total privilege of meeting with Colby.
We also finally caught a dad-n’-daughter that have been on a radar for the past month. It was kind of a surreal visual to come across as we pulled up. Ella, the daughter, was practicing archery, quietly shooting at a life-size cut-out of Polynesian sportsman-turned-actor Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, while her father passionately pep-talked her into hitting the target on his dorky cowboy belt-buckle. Yeah. She shot straight into his left armpit, & I couldn’t help but bring up how my mOm whooped all the boys in archery as a kid. I told her she could be just like my mOm someday! Until then, she could continue beating up on The Rock. Ella’s dad is a prominent sports journalist, & it was really cute as he gave examples of what he tends to write all day, but he’d randomly place in his daughter’s name in lieu of national athletes. He said that, growing up, he just wanted to love his teams & nothing much else, & never wanted kids. He immediately followed this by saying, very straightforwardly, “Of course, I have them now, & nothing’s better.” I was pretty thrown off by his candid-ness, especially with his daughter there, & then I realized that’s actually quite a powerful thing to hear someone say, with full sincerity.
Perhaps the peekiest sneak of all: when we stopped by the Palmer house (you might remember the drawing I did for Kaitlin), Grandpa Palmer opened up & said, “They’re all gone.” The news we got completely threw us for a loop– these four girls’ parents had admitted that, due to personal issues, they were unfit to be guardians. Elder Forsyth & I had been aware of the problems in the home, but we have no clue what led to the actual admittance of this.  The mom gave them up to her brother’s family. We were so worried we’d lost them for good– & I was mainly just glad that we’d left them with something that really showed we cared. Their mom had constantly thanked us for not giving up on them, in spite of myriad difficulties. I was worried this was Life flinging a big “Give up” into our faces.
But we found them– we actually did– they didn’t move that far away at all, & the moment we drove up to the address, they just happened to pull up, too. Everything seemed brighter here– more healthy, more hopeful. They seemed to be looked after & loved, with less inconsistency & chaos. They almost looked overwhelmed to be in such an environment. They told their new family members all about Elder Forsyth & I, & how we made an easter egg hunt for them a while back, & how we sing songs for them on a “guitar”– it’s so strange hearing people describe us to others so excitedly, hahaha. & even more strange, after we set up a time to come back, we shook everyone’s hands, & Kaitlin tapped me on the shoulder, & leaned over to whisper in my ear. She said, “Don’t tell your companion, but you’re my favorite.”
So I’m not telling him.
I definitely wasn’t expecting that kind of validation from Kaitlin– a person who, as I said, rarely even smiles. Her eyes brighten & darken, but her mouth seems forever settled into a very intense… slouch. I don’t know how else to describe it. But– there it was. She didn’t need to tell me that, but she did.
Similarly, we were eating dinner with a family called the Bleazards, whose son had passed away a while back. I normally like to keep dinner messages really light & fun, but I felt really strongly that I should talk about some of the harder things that I addressed in the last few mass-mails– incomprehensible tragedy, & the aftermath of such. Both Brother & Sister Bleazard were focused so strikingly on me, as I spoke. It was a very sunny day, & Sister Bleazard took off her shades to look at me. I was getting worried I was saying too much. I talked about how, even in the midst of despair, there is beauty to be found in finding a greater capacity for love & empathy one to another– as we are all part of a family, & even through simply saying, “I care,” we can make such a difference. These things can bring us closer together, & help us realize more strongly of our connection to each other. As we closed & sang Families Can Be Together Forever, the Bleazards each stood up to shake my hand, & specifically complimented my message. Brother Bleazard said, quickly but with an immensity, “Thank you, Elder, you’re the best.” Similar to Ella’s dad, I was thrown aback by that kind of blunt love. It was shocking to hear for myself what I’m telling all of YOU at the end of (& all throughout) my e-mails. 😉
Another rather validating experience of recent-times: I received a random red tie from the Mission Office a few weeks ago. As I looked under the stitching, I noticed a message written in pen. Among other things, it said, “Your ‘ukulele brings me so much joy.” It was straight from Elder Blätter– a tie he’d inherited along the way. He’s actually going home tomorrow, & I’d been saving a few leftover pictures from my time with him. In memoriam. (Below in the attachments!) Elder Blätter helped me to find a music store to buy my mission ‘ukulele to begin with, but he really had no clue how it was going to work, in day-to-day proselyting. He asked me quite often in the first week, “You’re really going to take that with you everywhere, huh?” It’d only be natural, if you’d never done anything like it before, right? I mean, Elder Blätter had seen it ALL– only three months left to his name. This couldn’t possibly work– was even willing to leave the music to myself… but then, in only a few short days, he would end lessons by asking, “Is it all right if we sing a hymn?” He truly embraced the oddity of Me, validated my norm-deviating desire to reach people through music, & for that, I am eternally grateful.
As I mentioned, this week was full of The Arts™. Dakota’s grandma made a whole mess of custom stickable art based on our interests using the same technological marvel that made the Lizard King stickers. (It’s called a Cricut [pronounced “Cricket”] machine.) I just wanted to place a little logo on the back of my ‘ukulele– it’s an ittle-bitty reference to that band I’ve mentioned before. (You know, the one whose members all unintentionally dress up like… well, me?)
After service with the Kluge (Like loogie– apparently, one of the grown-up daughters was called Loogie Kluge all her life. Mm.) family, planting yucca & yellow Utah desert roses & playing literal Whack-a-Mole in the yard (I found, Elder Forsyth whacked.), Brother Kluge spent the rest of the day shaping & polishing gorgeous stone bookmarks for us. All we really did to help him with that was pour water over the blade– I swear, that man is mercilessly hard-working. We don’t think he ever stopped doing work from before we even arrived at 1pm all the way through to 9pm. & he kept pointing out that he had bad feet that made it so couldn’t work… pssh, what a piece o’ work.
Even the foods of the week were a work of art– we ate with the Knickerbocker family. They have a giant wooden sculpture of a rather jovial bear in their front yard. In ten minutes flat (& crisp), Brother Knickerbocker whipped up a homemade pizza that blew all the pizza I’ve had in Utah out of the Salt Lake. Apparently, his wife’s family has been known for their pizza all their lives. Whenever anyone in the neighborhood was sick, they’d show up with a pizza instead of a casserole. All fundraisers were bolstered by the sales of hundreds of pizzas, orders placed & cooked up in a single day. Oh, yeah, & of course the bear was carved by Brother Knickerbocker. They’re the family that just has to be good at everything. He’s even placed First in nearly every chalk art competition they’ve entered– he seemed secretly pr-et-ty peeved to have gotten Second even ONCE. (& this ain’t no kiddie 2-D chalk art contest– you betta’ beLIEVE he’s mastered forced perspective.) He told me I was quite the artist, too. I felt like stinkin’ Rembrandt was telling me that.
On Sunday, we stopped by the Palmers again, taught (& sang) a quick lesson, then Kaitlin mentioned that she’d been waiting for her mom to bring by the drawing I’d made for her, along with a poster she’d owned of Christina Grimmie. She apparently can’t go over to the old house anymore, so we offered to go for her. As we drove up, we saw Kaitlin’s mom & dad leaving, hitching up everything to the back of a pick-up. Kaitlin’s mom said, “I have to tell you where my kids are!” When we responded that we’d only JUST come out of a lesson with them, she ran straight up & hugged us both. She, once again, thanked us for not giving up on them. After we mentioned what we were there to retrieve, she said, “Really? Oh, you two are AWEsome.” & ducked back into the house. She didn’t come out for the longest time (I swear, that house is MADE for losing people)– then re-emerged with TWO frames. She said, “Kaitlin made me promise that when she saw your drawing again, it’d be framed. It didn’t fit this one quite right, so I had to find some paper to put in the back…”
The fact that these two things were the only things that Kaitlin wanted from her house is really overwhelming for me to think about. … I guess it, at the very least, shows that this is really no ordinary pain she’s gone through, in the advent of Christina’s passing. I felt the need to go over to our house quickly & clean both frames– they were not exactly neat, much like anything else in that house. & things that carry such heavy emotional content should be handled with care.
When we showed up, frames in hand, I got to see Kaitlin smile for the second time.
I’ve often thought that the real art in life is the way that people react to art. & that is art, for real.
You are great, you are awesome,
sKye (eLder sOnomura)
07
Jul
17

elderSkyeSonomura_operationValidation_massemail.part028

(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!)

 
This mass-mail is about a double-feature baptism! We’ve been teaching an absolutely wonderful Filipino gramma named Guillerda (gh-ee-lur-dah) Zamora. She likes to go by Aida. (Like the Nubian princess!) But she likes US to call her Nanay (nuh-nah-ee… not Whip & Nay-Nay.)– it’s a bit like how Hawaiians call grammas “tutu”. She’s been visiting with so many of us in the past year, & honestly, Nanay already knew everything by the time I stepped in. It kind of makes me think of how she didn’t speak very much English when she started, & always needed a translator… & in a year alone, she’s completely mastered English comprehension. Her intelligence & savviness knows no bounds. She can’t speak very much yet, but she understands EVERYTHING– I bet in another year, it’ll be like she’s been a citizen all her life.
 
But, regardless of how small my part was in all of this for Nanay, loved being with her every Sunday the most. She really treats us like her grandkids– & I know this because I see the love she gives her grandkids, & it matches up with the love she gives us– & her faith & optimism is unshakeable. It’s truly an inspiration to me. A couple of things she’s said in our time together…
“My family is my number-one greatest treasure. Their love makes me wealthy.”
“I know my pains will be healed– it has been promised me by my Heavenly Father.”
“No one can change my mind about being baptized. I am immovable.”
“I am ready. I am a soldier, & I am ready to fight.”
She even put up her dukes when she said that– I’m just in awe of this lady. She really is a soldier, a force for good in the lives of others. She came to Utah from the Philippines just to take care of her daughter’s children while she takes classes– & I can’t think of anyone who I’d trust with kids more than Nanay. She stayed up all night at her grandson’s bedside when he hurt his arm. I’m not quite sure they understand how much she’s given up to be here. She has a great homesickness for the Philippines, but she’s continued to extend her time here to help them.
While she was here, she met a sister missionary at the Temple whose name is Sister Raquiza (pronounced Rah-key-zah). Nanay’s constantly told us, with love, that Sister Raquiza is “number-one”, & we are both “number-two”. Every night, after we’d leave, Sister Raquiza would call Nanay up & teach her over the phone, in Tagalog. Sister Raquiza’s actually from Hawai’i (the Big Island), & Tagalog is a language she had no fluency in. & yet, they made a special connection as she struggled to tell Nanay the things that brought her such joy. Nanay even cried whenever she would recount their tearful first meeting.
However, as it got closer & closer to the day Nanay had picked to be baptized (Yeah, she picked it herself– May 27, her deceased husband’s birthday.), everything began to pit itself against us. There was serious contention in Nanay’s family– from what we were hearing, Nanay was even planning on leaving for the Philippines immediately. When we arrived for our next discussion, we were simply told that May 27th was probably too soon to plan for, & would be virtually impossible. Nanay talked very little as this was all going on, even when I asked her, “Nanay, isn’t this day you chose very special to you?” In the following weeks, it sounded like it would be equally impossible, due to travel plans. Not to mention, all the people who helped Nanay (Sister Allen, the translator, Sister Raquiza at Temple Square, even US) might not be around to attend by the time such things were “possible”.
Three days before the 27th, we got a call early in the morning. It was from Sister Raquiza, who asked us where the baptism was going to be held. We were confused, & relayed the information we had received from Nanay’s family. Sister Raquiza said, perplexed, “What? I talked with Nanay yesterday, & she told me it was still on for the 27th!” Elder Forsyth & I looked at each other, rushed out the door, & headed straight to Nanay’s.
In the next 30 minutes, we made plans with Nanay’s daughter, the Zone Leaders, the Ward Mission Leader, & the Bishop to HAVE THE BAPTISMaccording to plan. There was a fair deal of resistance at first, from everyone except Nanay. Nanay sat quietly in the back again… even when someone approached her for her opinion, she said, “The day is up to the elders.” & then, all of a sudden, everyone just said, “Well… if she wants to, let’s go for it.” Immediately, I saw Nanay brighten up. As we left, she shook our hands vigorously, & said “thank you thank you thank you thank you”. Putting this all into perspective, I think she had been in a few heated arguments on the subject, & did not want to cause any more contentious rifts in her family life. She knew we’d fight for her, too, & we did.
The day fast approached– & I think food might’ve finally melted away any of the bad feelings that were lingering. As you probably well know, Filipinos are culinary dynamos. So, the prospect of making pansit & egg rolls for the baptism went underway, & smiles & Good Vibes™ were everywhere. So, that’s a good lesson: if you’re mad at each other, you might just need some food. (It’s scriptural, 1 Nephi 16:18-20, look it up.) Elder Forsyth was actually the one to ask Nanay if she’d like us to sing at her baptism. The thought had barely crossed my mind, as I was so concerned about it even HAPPENING. She immediately said, “God Be With You Til’ We Meet Again”– her favorite hymn, as we had learned. (She said it reminds her of her husband, & the promise they have to be together again. Til’ we meet.)
The baptism was FULL to the rafters. Even though one of the major concerns, TWO weeks prior, had been that there was not enough time to invite people. It was a truly eclectic crowd– the likes of which Hawai’i could be proud of. While Sister Raquiza could not make the drive (she’s only allowed to drive so far), we got her on Skype. Good thing to note: We tried FaceTime a couple hours before, & IMMEDIATELY timed out. We had Sister Raquiza placed on a music stand the whole hour-and-a-half without a single issue. — Phbft— speaking of, Elder Forsyth had to reposition her so she could see Nanay actually being baptized, & I said, “You should just hold her,” without really thinking of how that sounded. The zone leaders chuckled & said, “The only girl he’s gonna get to hold for a while…”
It was all severely powerful. My personal favorite thing– I told everyone beforehand to sing WITH us on the final verse of God Be With You. Chicken skin, I tells ya. I was a regular turkey-lurkey afterwards– all smiles & sniffles. Miracles abounding. Thank you, Heavenly Father! (Or should I say, “Thank you thank you thank you thank you”? By the way, she got up at the end of the baptism & said that again, HEE. ˆ_ˆ)
Directly afterwards, a brother-&-sister duo named Hunter & Wynnter got baptized. (NOT to be confused with Wynter. … I know, I know, what are the odds?) For years prior, their family had never really been seen, but the church would always get a check every month without fail, for tithing. As the Bishop noted in his talk afterwards, “Who DOES that?!” Despite their distancing themselves for one reason or another, they never really stopped believing in it– or instilling that kind of faith in their kids. Eventually, as we taught them, Hunter & Wynnter’s dad decided it was high-time for him to come back, & strengthen his family. He was able to baptize them both– which he did with all the love of a father. (Both him & I have baptized two people; isn’t that nifty?) Then Hunter & Wynnter probably both went off to be Olympic gold medalists or something. — Two of the most athletically aspiring kids I’ve seen, for serious. Wynnter just needs to be a little more careful– everyone calls her Squirrel, due to her easily distractible nature. She had to get stitches on her chin only two days before Saturday (don’t know how visible it is in the picture) — eep! Be more careful, Wynnter! On the bright side… er… maybe that means she’ll remember the day better… ?
This has been tonight’s double-feature– or a triple-feature, however you look at it. Today, we miraculously happened to be at all the right Memorial Day hotspots to find TWO people we’ve been looking for ceaselessly for the past six weeks. Praise be to vacation days bringing people out… & our ordinary civilian clothes acting as camouflage. MWAHAHA, we have the element of surprise! Now we are UNSTOPPABLE!
… Tune in next time for Mass-Mail XXIV: The Incognito Elders Among Us. Duhduh-dun.
You are great, you are awesome,
sKye (eLder sOnomura)