Sunday, June 28, 2009

Why is it that...

This is the second year I've had a participant come up to me during gospel study and ask about Matt 5:32
But I say unto you, That whosoever shall put away his wife, saving for the cause of fornication, causeth her to commit adultery: and whosoever shall marry her that is divorced committeth adultery.

Why are they reading there when they're studying D&C and the Book of Mormon in seminary? What made them seek this verse out? What is in their background that is causing them to ask questions about this verse?

All of these questions run through my mind when they ask about this verse, and it's hard when I've had questions about what this means for our society and church today. I try to teach my youth that some of what we read in the New Testament has particular cultural applications and may not apply word for word today, but that the doctrine behind the counsel is sound - i.e. the marriage was and is a sacred ordinance that should not be entered into or ended lightly without serious consequences, but that there are times when it is correct and necessary to flee that marriage if one is in danger physically, emotionally, or spiritually.

I only hope that what I'm teaching them is correct, and even more, that I am somehow answering the unasked questions behind the vocalized one.

A Harrowing Beginning to a Wonderful Week

I started EFY this last week in Salt Lake. That is where the problems began. I thought I was starting EFY in Provo. I discovered my mistake Sunday afternoon and had to be in Salt Lake by 7 pm. Panicking, I called Erica as soon as she got out of church to tell her about my change of plans. Luckily, she was planning on coming to pick me up anyway to go to dinner with some family.

A few hours later, my cousin and my sister came and picked me and all of my stuff up, we had a rushed dinner at my aunt and uncle's in Alpine, and then Erica and I dashed out with almost no gas in her car to try and find where I was supposed to go.

I say "try" because we got lost. Several times. And did I mention we had almost no gas? Mom and Dad, I know we get ourselves into these scraps more than we should, but let's just call them learning experiences, okay? Shake your heads, but it worked out alright in the end.

After stopping at sever churches to ask directions, and after fretting at being very late for my fireside with the session director, we finally found where we needed to be. I blame Salt Lake, the directions from Google, and most of all ME for the massively stressful experience, but I cannot blame Erica. In fact, she was a saint the entire time as I slowly morphed into a monster about getting lost and having no gas and being late and not knowing anyone at the session....yaddah yaddah yaddah. I'm afraid I complained quite a bit when I was only in a mess of my own doing. Erica even found my room for me and unloaded and made my bed while I was in the fireside and BC meeting.

Monday found me with new resolve and lighter spirits. After breakfast in the cafeteria, I headed to go help the participants check in and then I met my girls. Oh, and what girls! I had six of the sweetest, funniest, most spiritually hungry 14-year-olds I've ever met. They were a wonder!

After starting off kind of quiet, they soon became fast friends with each other and with me. We never argued about modesty like some girls did with their counselors, I never had to worry about them sneaking off, and they went to bed right when they were asked to (with a few funny exceptions). I laughed with them at pizza night, I cried with them at devotionals and during our testimony meeting, and had a first-class time.

I was not a model counselor, but I think there were times when I was exactly what some of those girls needed. It's very humbling to know that I have something to offer such mature, intelligent, spiritual souls as these. It is nice to know that I am needed and can be useful in teaching the gospel to a truly royal generation.

But I guess I can't really say I taught them. My girls spoke at testimony meeting about learning things that I know I didn't teach them and that the speakers and teachers didn't address. The whole week was guided and filled with the Spirit. I felt the answer to my prayers for the spirit of discernment and teaching come whenever I or my girls needed it. But it had nothing to do with my worthiness to receive help, but everything to do with the faith my girls had in the gospel and their desire to learn more. EFY really is about the youth, and not about me - a lesson I've had to learn over and over again.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

The end of an era

Today I checked out of Monticello #7 for the last time- you know, the apartment with the best view in the complex, the one with the orange, moldy carpet, the peeling paint, and torn linolium, the one where you could guarantee that something crazy was going on all the time- yeah, that one. I've lived here for two years, and it has been the setting for many, many memories. It is time to move on, but I can't help but look back and smile and laugh and cry a bit.

Fall of sophomore year. Besides all drinking our milk straight from the carton, we had some pretty crazy times like when we hosted a murder mystery and decorated our apartment like a 1920's speakeasy. Or how Ali would fall over laughing on an at-least weekly basis. Or how...I could go on and on.

Winter of sophomore year. We made a silent melodrama - complete with hero on a horse, maiden aunts in distress, politically incorrect Chinese railroad workers, and mustached, cape-twirling villain - for our ward's FHE oscars. It was just a little over the length limit, but very worth it.

Late one night - never mind just how late it really was - we discovered that if you take the drawers out from both bedrooms, you can climb right through. So of course I had to try it.

Christmas of junior year. We gave each other hat boxes, a massive fur hat, an oversized stuff animal lion - his name is Sigfried - Yiddish fridge magnets, a new apartment key, and a mini air hockey game. Yeah, that was a great Christmas.

Late one night a bunch of guys we were having a prank war with snuck into our apartment using the copied key they had made. We completely slept through everything they did! But they were only retaliating as best as they could for what we had done to them. I give you...

...The Great Prank of 2009! Definitely one of my proudest moments. We stole an entire guys' apartment's worth of clothes. All of them. We left each of them an old lady's night gown hanging in their closets, courtesy of DI. But that's not all - we then hung the clothes up in between the two apartment buildings. Like so:

So here's to my old apartment: the sight of good times, bad times, hard times, funny times, and so, so many memories. When I come back in the winter I'll be up in apartment 12. It's got a lot to live up, but I think we'll get along very nicely.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Science and art a Renaissance man does not make

Finals are over! And what a success they were - surprisingly.

Monday, I took my unit 4 test for my physical science class and came away with a 93% - not too shabby. I took the final for that class on Wednesday and got a 96%, meaning I have an A no matter what happens. I no longer feel bad about falling asleep in that class every single day. And I mean every day.

Note to Ryan: Okay, so the class wasn't as horrible as I thought it would be. I can see why people would find it interesting. I just don't get tingley all over thinking about probability waves or wind erosion. But I did learn some useful, interesting things so I guess the class was a success.

Wednesday night and all day today I worked on my final project for my art class. I was supposed to create a still life that reflected who I am. I wish I had had more time to work on it, but it turned out really well considering how crunched for time I was. I need to go back in and push the values further, but my teacher liked it will enough to give me an A in the class!

My final project.

I've had a hard time staying focused and diligent this term. There's just been too many other things I've been thinking and worrying about to be a great student. Plus, it's spring and the weather is wonderful, my body is healthy enough for me to play soccer and ultimate frisbee again (hooray!), my sister lives a few short blocks away, and my friends have a lot more free time now. Added all together, I'm pleasantly surprised to come off with good, solid A's.

Here are a few more pictures of the projects I've been working on this term. Most of the stuff we did was practice and so came off looking really rough, but there are a few things that I'm proud of.

First at-home still life assignment

Getting my hand back in.

Willow charcoal and erasure.
We covered the entire paper with charcoal and then had to lift it to create the object in front of us.

First and only self portrait.
Created by looking at a photo and using a grid system to transfer and double the size. I was so tired of looking at myself after this. But it was really fun.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

"This is Nancy from the ORCA office. You are now cleared to pick up your check."

Oh, why thank you, Nancy. I guess my pages of letters and project proposals and bibliographies and repeated phone calls that you did not return did the trick after all.

For those of you who don't know, I've been doing a pretty dance with the ORCA office and the IRB lately. ORCA stands for Office of Research and Creative Activities, and they were supportive enough to award me a grant to the tune of $1500 back in February to help fund my trip to India. I have only now been able to pick it up becuase as I was technically doing human subject research (debatable, but whatever), I had to get IRB approval of my research project. Well, they turned me down which prompted my professors to call them ridiculous, clueless, and not living on this planet. I was and am very grateful for their support and the effort they went to and the advice they gave me on how to proceed. I know it was because of their behind the scenes work and phone calls that I'm sure were made that I have had any success at all with this matter.

IRB stands for Institutional Review Board, and every university in America has them as a result of the human testing done by German scientists during WWII and a little incident with Tuskagee University... If any professor or student wants to do human subject research, they have to submit an application to the board (or The Board as they refer to themselves as) and await the green light. Any individual associated with a university found not in compliance with these rules causes the whole university's federal funding pulled immediately and no journal would come within 10 feet of their summarized findings.

I was a little put out by the rejection letter, you can be sure. But my wonderful professors rallied 'round, and helped me come up with modifications to my project. I will now be collecting oral histories of widowed women while I am in India. More on this later. Oral histories, we convinced the ORCA office, were exempt from IRB jurisdiction as they lay somewhere between investigative journalism, history research, and still under the aegis of anthropology. They do not conform to regular definitions of scientific research since I will not testing a hypothesis or trying to create a general theory about widows.

It was hard, it was confusing and time-consuming, and it was definitely a learning experience for me. But I think with the revisions, my project is better than ever while still maintaining its integrity. I guess I can only say this because of how well everything turned out.