Sunday, July 26, 2009

Return of the Native

I have loved being at home and am having a hard time leaving again now that I'm here. It has been far too long since I've had a lengthy stay in this the best of all places. My last long sojourn was over Christmas and I was grading mountains of papers and drugged up recovering from surgery more than half the time. This last week has been hectic, but I've also been able to just be in my natural habitat.

I was also able to celebrate my birthday at home, a tradition that I love and one of the best things about having a summer birthday. I am now 21. Be impressed. It was a pretty crazy day for everybody as my grandma has recently been installed in our downstairs as she recovers from a total knee replacement and we were trying to care for her, I was running my own errands in Idaho Falls, my mom was in her store, my dad was working and doing bishop things, and Caitlyn and Michaela were keeping their own agendas. But we did find time in the evening to relax and enjoy cake. Plus, I picked myself up some Tevas and a new camera in preparation for my travels. Woot!

The night before, Caitlyn, Michaela, and I slept out on our tramp, watched stars, giggled, and tried to keep from sliding too much into Michaela in the middle. I was turning 21 and so had to do something child-like and silly.


On Friday my family headed up to Island Park and our cabin there. It was nice to put away my lists of Things To Do for a few days and just play. That afternoon Caitlyn and I took the canoe and went exploring around the lake. We cut across the middle when there were no motorboats coming and found a serene little inlet perfect for moose. Unfortunately all we saw were cows and ducks. But the scenery was gorgeous.

Saturday the family hunted up some antique fairs and spent several curious hours rumaging through one-man-junk-another-man's-treasure piles. I'm not sure what it is about antique fairs, but they draw the oddest collection of bikers, cowboys, RV-ing families, and way too many little dogs carried around by members of all three groups. The wares mirror the customers with dragon statues and black leather spike wristbands (my ten-year-old cousin insisted on buying one) mixed in with wagonwheel benches and china hutches from the 1800s.
For lunch we headed over to Mack's Inn and ate delicious, heaping, messy pizza. After exhaustive research and analysis, we concluded that yes, it is impossible to take a flattering picture while eating said pizza. The evidence is below.

After that we headed to Big Springs to feed the fish - something we always do when we're up here. Those fish have to be the best-fed water life this side of Sea World.
Our last adventure of the day was to float down Box Canyon on Henry's Fork. Caitlyn, Michaela, my cousin Kirstin, and I were the first boat load and so the first to discover that the river was running very high still and the usually small rapids were a bit more excited this year....Michaela and Kirstin did an excellent job bailing using Caitlyn's shoes - she was more than willing to give them up when the water in the canoe reached mid-calf.
Our faces in this picture really illustrate our thoughts on the ride. Hats off to my aunt Rachel for taking it as we were coming around the last bend. I had had a wonderful time crying for Caitlyn, who I had taken to calling Ishmael for the trip, to keep a weather eye open and for us to increase to "ramming speed". She didn't take to calling me Ahab with quite the same gusto...
Coming in to port.
My dad, Caitlyn, and I headed home that night with the rest of the Corps of Discovery to follow in the morning.
I leave for Utah on Wednesday and India on Thursday. I'm freaking out just a little from nerves and from excitement.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

The experience of a lifetime?

So in the past four days I have been to see my eye specialist, the dentist, the health department for more vaccines, and my regular eye doctor to get more contacts. Fun. And every time I go in, the curious, helpful nurses and assistants always ask what I'm up to or why in the world I need a Japanese encephalitis vaccine, etc. and India always comes up. They invariably say, "Oh that will be the experience of a lifetime!"

The experience? I sincerely hope not. I hope that my life has not reached its peak at the ripe old age of 21. How sad would it be if for the rest of my life I am forced to say, "Mmmm, this was good and all, but it doesn't compare to my trip I took to India 3/10/20 years ago." So I gently correct these kind women and say "Yes, it certainly will be an adventure." And I fully plan on having plenty of adventures in my life. Some will probably even happen in my own backyard.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

A Return to Eden

I think it is a blessing that we forget how beautiful home is when we leave. That way, we are not sick for it the entire time we're gone and when we come back, it is a revelation.

As I went to the garage to unload my stuff from the trunk (I am officially moved back to Rexburg) I was drawn out through the open garage door to behold the spectacular vista in front of me. Everything is green, green, green and so very alive. The pond was calm and clear, the willows and cattails on the sides perfect. The trees in the river bottoms called out for midnight romps with the wild things. The white fences lining this quiet country lane a harmonious accent to nature. The air was deliciously cool, and the light breeze a sweet caress from heaven. The sky was stained pink by the setting sun, and wispy blue clouds provided a feast for the eyes. My cat played in the flowers and I stared and stared and drank it all in with as much Anne-like fervor as I could muster. How could I have forgotten all of this? How could I have forgotten how monumentally blessed I am to live among such bounty? How could I leave again in such a short time?

The view outside my back door. See? Eden.

My dad came out to see if I needed help and asked me what was wrong. "Nothing!" I replied. "Absolutely nothing. I had just forgotten that we lived in Eden."
"Oh, you like it? I'm glad." And he hugged me.

Like it? I am in love with it til my heart could burst. How could I have gotten such parents that have truly made home a heaven on earth? Their tender, meticulous care is seen in the dozens of trees we have on our property, the flower beds, the lush garden, and the careful painting and decoration my parents have put into our surroundings. I love their quiet, good, learned ways!

My dad's pride and joy. And our bounty.

I hope the last posts have not become monotonous, but I have felt quiet keenly the last few weeks how very lucky I am in my every day life. I can't believe (and how could I not believe?) how very aware the Lord is of me and the daily influence He has in my life? I feel to sing Hallelujah every day!

Saturday, July 11, 2009

How well do you have to know someone before they can be the god parent to your future children?

I'd like to introduce one of the most incredible people of all time: Brother John Mclay. He's a seminary teacher in Colorado Springs, CO and has been a session director the last two years I've gone as a counselor. He comes the week of July 4th (a traditionally hectic, crazy, packed session) and so we here in Provo have one more thing to celebrate. He teaches profound gospel truths in a captivating and intelligent way that teenagers understand and appreciate - he doesn't pander to them or talk down or doubt their spiritual intelligence. He cares so deeply for the youth and takes part in every part of the week from helping the stage crew at the variety show to driving around with a walkie talkie in his car looking for missing participants.

But probably the most amazing things about this master teacher is his incredible humility and his intense love for his family. The way he talks about his children (and he does it all of the time) and the way he looks and talks to and treats his wife shows how home-centered this man is. His marriage to Sister Mclay is a partnering of equals - he includes her in everything he does including speaking at and directing EFY. They laugh and tease each other over the mic, and they have a deep recognition of how lucky they are to have the other person in their lives for eternity. It is touching and inspiring to see the love they have for each other that radiates from them and expands their souls so they can love everyone.

BrotherMcLay is also hilarious and very talented in other things besides formal teaching. Here he is singing a song he made up with his wife for the dating/purity message Friday morning:

Break dancing under duress during last year's session:

Their twins singing a High School Musical song when they were 3:

Sister Mclay is a force to be reckoned with in her own right. He always introduces her by saying she could be a just as good session director as he is. And he may be right. During the Sunday night counselor fireside, I took more notes on her talk than I did on his. She always gives the majority of the young women's message on Thursday as well and bears pure testimony of the blessing and important role of mothers. She puts the position that is so often degraded by the world into the correct perspective and shows how right and important and big the job of mother is. I cried and felt the Spirit confirm that when I become a mother I will not be limiting myself or curtailing my potential, but allowing myself to grow and progress in remarkable ways that will require the use of all of my talents and experience and education.

Here is one journal/blog entry she read to us on Thursday. It's beautiful and so telling of the kind of mother she is. Aislin, she reminds me of you.

Her new blog address is found below. Also for Aislin - she may be a kindred spirit, you know. It is amazing what a talented, nurturing, creative woman can do to magnify the divine, eternal calling of motherhood.

May I someday be more like Sister Mclay and my own incredibley talented, fiercely devoted mother and my good, good sister.

Thank you, EFY for teaching me lessons I wasn't even looking for or expecting.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

If ye are prepared...

I got a wonderful, spacious new backpack from the international studies office for my trip to India, and I've already been putting it to good use. For anyone who has seen what I can and do stuff in a regular size bag, you know the added space is very welcome. Besides being water proof and very padded, it has become my Mary Poppins bag for EFY and gains quite a reputation among my girls each week for having everything necessary for daily life.

Its usual supplies:
1 binder
1 set of scriptures
1 journal
1 EFY handbook
1 bag of starbursts to keep youth (and me) awake during morningsides
1 bag of safety pins
1 bag of band-aids
1 roll of masking tape to hold the band-aids on
1 bottle of mosquito repellent
Bobby pins
Ponytail holders
1-2 bottles of water
Extra pens
Sticky notes

Added to it as the occasion demands:
1 copy of Preach My Gospel
I copy of True to the Faith
All of my girls' lanyards
1 Frisbee
1 pair of socks necessary to play the Sock Game at lunch (i.e. the funniest, best game EVER)
Several undershirts in case modesty becomes a problem
Fruit snacks or granola bars
1 roll of paper towel for the testimony meeting

I take pride in the fact that my girls (and sometimes other counselors) can come to me for anything they need throughout the week. I never tire of being able to whip out exactly what they need when they need it and seeing the amazed looks on their (and my co-counselors') faces.

And it all fits! As one of my girls told me this week, "Suzanne, you really did earn your reputation as Mary Poppins this week." Oh the sweet trust and praise.