Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Watch This

I thought this little video was quite thought-provoking. What am I gonna do about it? Not sure yet. But I'll let you know when I figure it out.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Oh. My. Heck.

What a crazy night of work.

First off, as I was driving to work tonight I got caught in a blizzard. I prayed, and I sang hymns, and I felt inclined to think about what would happen if I slipped off the edge of the highway and died. I pleaded with God to let me stay. And I thought how it would be exciting to see Grandpa Davis if He didn't let me stay. But I figured Grandpa Davis and probably some other people, too, wanted me to stay.

I wasn't sure whether to pull over, keep driving, or turn around and go home. But I was expected at work. And there were other people on the road, too. So I kept driving. When the snow really got bad, I'd already entered the canyon and didn't have cell service anymore. So I plunged onward at 25 miles an hour.

I was half an hour late to work, and my co-worker hadn't arrived yet. When one of the day shift people called her to see if she was okay, she said she had been pulled over by a highway patrolman who told her to turn around and go home. Because there was only one of me, and also because the storm was bad, the two day-shifters had to stay.

It was funny to start out the shift with them. One of them was almost giddy at the thought of sitting and watching a movie on my laptop. A Series of Unfortunate Events and 3 episodes of The Office later, however, they were both out cold. One is sleeping at my end of the hall, and the other is sleeping at the other end. Both are laying flat on their stomachs. I am safely perched on the "sick bed," a sort of futon built into the wall.

"Safely perched." Because a few minutes ago, I thought I saw a mouse in the corner of my eye. I dismissed the idea, because when I first got hired, the program director had hired someone to come "take care of the mouse problem." I had heard them scuttling around in the walls, and outside the windows, but hadn't ever seen one face to face.

But a couple minutes after I thought I had imagined seeing a mouse, I really did see a mouse. It ran out onto the carpet, and stood there, inches from my sleeping co-workers face. I refrained from screaming because I knew if she woke up she would be completely terrorized, and every girl in this place would wake up, too. The little mousey ran under the pillow her head's on, and then retraced its steps and ran away again.

Anyway, I'm happy to be up here on this "sick bed." And I'm happy to be alive. I'm grateful to have Buck the 4-Runner, with four-wheel drive for storms. I'm happy there are only 3 more hours left in this shift. I'm happy that this week is Thanksgiving. I'm happy that today is my third-to-last shift at this place--ever. I'm happy to have had a job.

I'm happy that God lives and the Savior came. I had a realization in the car today that I really haven't done everything I want to, yet. I also realized that no matter when this life ends, Jesus Christ will have to make up for my shortcomings. I felt extremely humbled to imagine my lack of preparedness to meet God, despite my efforts. Yet somehow I felt assured that He would make it okay. I feel so grateful for that today, and wish I could feel this grateful more often without almost dying.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Alma 34, and my roommate, Yo-yo

Verse 27: "Yea, and when you do not cry unto the Lord, let your hearts be full, drawn out in prayer unto him continually for your welfare, and also for the welfare of those who are around you." Thus ends the section previously marked in my mind as "the prayer section."

Verse 28 says: "And now behold, my beloved brethren, I say unto you, do not suppose that this is all; for after ye have done all these things, if ye turn away the needy, and the naked, and visit not the sick and afflicted, and impart of your substance, if ye have, to those who stand in need--I say unto you, if ye do not any of these things, behold, your prayer is vain, and availeth you nothing, and ye are as hypocrites who do deny the faith."

I had never really noticed before that verse 28 is referring to the previous several verses on prayer. Our prayers are essentially ineffective if they aren't followed by action. Our heartfelt prayer for God to bless someone in need ought to be followed by our sincerest efforts to help them ourselves, in whatever way we can.

Anyway, I was reading these verses and picturing my adorable, Chinese roommate, Yo-yo, who, just before I walked out tonight to go to work, remembered, "Oh, Cammie! I have something for you!" She dashed to the kitchen and brought out a container of strawberry Yoplait yogurt. "You need the energy," she said. How cute is that? And then she explained to me that she thought it would be my favorite kind, since she's seen me eating strawberries, and she's also seen me eating yogurt. I love love.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

What to do in the middle of the night?

So, I don't generally get a ton of participation from readers. Possibly because I don't have many readers. But if you are a reader, even if I don't know you're a reader, I want you to leave your comment to this post.

I have spent the last 2 months working a graveyard shift at a residential treatment center for adolescent girls. The hardest part about my job is staying up all night. I just put in my two-weeks' notice (Yaaaaay!!!), but I've still got two weeks left.

Here is a list of my nighttime activities, in case you ever wondered.

1. Transcription. I'm typing out all the Aruba tapes (from my research this summer), word for painstaking word. Maybe I should have worked on this more than I did.
2. Studying for the GRE. I could have worked on this more, too. But, I successfully finished the test, so that's cool.
3. Studying my scriptures.
4. Writing in my journal.
5. Writing on Aruba postcards to send to my missionaries from my last MTC district.
6. Composing serious emails to people I really needed to say serious things to.
7. Shopping at Forever21, but refraining from buying since I could have easily wasted a night's work money in one go.
8. Writing lyrics to a song I had already composed the tune to.
9. Watching a bunch of stupid movies and a couple of good ones. I really liked a foreign film called August Evening.
10. Eating. Huge quantities of baby carrots, grapes, and wheat thins.
11. Checking out craigslist: applying for new jobs; browsing the "free" items.
12. Making blog entries.
13. Writing a sample letter of recommendation for a professor, writing my letter of intent, and doing some other graduate school application stuff.
14. Reading: The Alchemist, Clara's War, Serendipity, Corner Shop, and this comedy book called "I Shudder..." until it got too crude for me. But there was a hilarious chapter about this guy's affinity for marshmallow Peeps. He does a pretty good job of describing what makes Peeps the most disgusting food you could ever imagine, and it was really funny. If you read the book, only worry about reading that chapter.
15. Watching almost every single episode of The Office ever made.

My question for you is this:

What would YOU do, if you had to stay awake all night, to keep from sleeping? I will accept movie or book recommendations, or just funny things you have done/would do if forced to stay awake.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Ghetto Phone

I think it'd be awesome if, when using the predictive text option on my phone, I didn't have to flip through dozens of progressively obscure words before eventually having to manually spell out the word I want.

The other day, I wanted to say something about a wart I have on my foot. Yes, that's right, I have a wart. On my foot. Am I such an anomaly? Well, apparently--judging by the fact that I keyed in 9278 and my phone spit out the word "wast." Wast? Old English. Really? Was that really someone's best guess at what someone would be trying to say with that number grouping? I hope that person didn't have a degree in statistics, because I'd say the probability of me wanting to spell "wast" on my phone is pretty low.

Actually, the 'wart' example isn't the best, because unlike my experience with many other words I try to spell, "wast" was the only option spat out by my phone, before it gave up and asked me to spell the word myself. I feel like this whole predictive text thing is a guessing game, and my phone just doesn't have the creative skills, or the determination, or the will to win that is required by this sort of game. I'm pretty sure that if I could challenge my phone to a game of boggle, I would win, hands down. (Okay, I realize the poor thing is just a phone. But still.)

Perhaps the reason I am really bothered is that I felt slightly miffed by the fact that my phone didn't seem to recognize my problem as a legitimate or even somewhat commonplace malady. Maybe that's what this all stems from--my own self-consciousness about the wart on my foot.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Pumpkin Dates

'Tis the season! I went on two separate dates involving pumpkins or pumpkin-like activities this Halloween season. Here's the proof.

Date #1: Who wants to carve another pumpkin when you can carve...something else? Pictured here are Jorge the Banana Squash (note the sombrero, which is fashioned partially from the backside of Jorge's squash body--yes, a graft of sorts), and Chewy (sp?) the Butternut Squash, whose tongue was once the chunk of squash removed to make a mouth-hole. Aren't they cute?

Date #2: We went walking around a neighborhood on Halloween night taking pictures of jack-o-lanterns on porches. Upon returning home, we loaded the pics onto the computer and meticulously reviewed each one to judge which was the best. Once we picked our favorite, we created a certificate, to be presented to the creator of the winning pumpkin, along with a candy bar. Check out some of the top contenders:

Not bad at all.

Pretty good.

A Nativity Scene? Trying to put the real meaning back into...wait.


The "SMILE" pumpkin.

But best of all, we decided, was this one. I had to put the flash on, because a lot of the details were lost without it.

Well, the recipient of the contest he didn't even know he had entered did look a little taken-aback to see two college co-eds standing there on his porch, NOT dressed in costume, and clutching a piece of paper. I imagine he thought we wanted to sell him something. "We looked at all the pumpkins in your neighborhood," I said, "and we decided yours is the best. So this is for you," I said, handing over the prize.

"Who is this from--" and then, after a pause of realization, "Oh--from the two of you?"


"Well, thank you!" And in the house he went. What a funny exchange. I sure hope he's proud. Happy Halloween!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Ingrid Michaelson

Saturday night we went to the Ingrid Michaelson concert in Salt Lake. I have decided that it was the best concert I’ve ever attended. Here’s why:
•She let us sing along. Actually, she asked us to sing along. Sometimes she even had us carry our own part of the song and she’d sing some cool counter melody, or we’d do a call-and-answer sort of thing. She’d stop the song in the middle sometimes to coach us on our audience singing.
•I didn’t feel like I was just listening to her recorded music—instead, there was something new, funny, or impressive about the way she performed each song live. For example, “Far Away” sounded like a hoe-down, complete with a mandolin and accordian. Completely different from the recording, and so fun to listen to.
•She and her band members were multi-talented. Besides for the guitar, bass, Ingrid’s mini-guitar, and percussion, we saw a euphonium, an accordion, a mandolin, and the piano make their way onto the scene from time to time.
•She rapped the words of “Vanilla Ice” and “Fresh Prince of Bellaire” over the bass line to her song, “The Way I Am.” She also sang a parody of her own song, “Maybe.” The new song was a tribute to Mexican food, and instead of the lyrics, “Maybe…in the future…you’re gonna come back…you’re gonna come back around,” she sang, “Burritos…and tacos…chimichangas…and quesadillas.”
•She was so—normal. Jeans and a t-shirt. And funny. Instead of making us scream ‘Encore’ for her to come back onto the stage at the end of the show, she told us she had another song, and that they’d just hide for a few minutes and come back and sing it for us. So we all felt cool because she didn't try to trick us. Instead she let us in on the joke. And people still screamed until she came back.
•She messed up a couple of times, and laughed about it. One time she was like, “Dang it, I totally just started singing the wrong song.”
•She writes her own songs, and they’re fun, and catchy, and unique. Cool!

Friday, September 25, 2009

The Seville

I've been job searching, and recently found a job. But that's not what this post will be about. This post will be about my favorite job posting, found on Craigslist.

The job listing wasn't so much for a job, as it was for a contest. A contest for the best song about the retirement community called The Seville, the writer of which would win $300. Now, I am an amateur songwriter but I enjoy the art, and my interest was piqued at this chance to earn some hard cash by stringing together the right kind of words and tune. What kind of song could they possibly be looking for? I stewed over the question for a few days and then surprised myself by taking the ad writer's suggestion--I went to the Seville, in person, to "get a feel for the place."

With a brochure in hand, a 4-minute, awkward conversation with The Seville management behind me, and a much better understanding of what kind of song I needed to write, I returned home. I was surprised to learn that the winning song would not be some sort of 30-second radio jingle, but rather, a sort of theme song designed to be sung by the residents about the place they live. I also learned that The Seville is a place where retired people can go to enjoy retirement. They eat three chef-prepared meals a day, can exercise in the exercise room, socialize with other retirees, and can even travel and stay in any of some odd 250 Sevilles around the country (all of this included in their easy, month-to-month rent payment). They can bring their pets with them. There is no medical care at the Seville. These, I concluded, were the rich, hip grandparents who don't feel like taking care of their house anymore, but not because they can't.

Anyway, I wrote a song. And because The Seville's brochure indicated that The Seville was part of a chain called "Holiday Residences" or "Holiday" something or other, I used the word "holiday" in the chorus. And the chorus, which I can't sing without imagining a chorus of elderly voices clamoring along with me, says, "Who says you need a holiday to feel this way?" I'll spare you the rest of the lyrics.

The funny part was yesterday, when I sang my newly-written song to my roommate, Megan--I always like to test new songs out on her--and I forgot to explain to her what sort of a place The Seville was. So as I was singing, she was imagining a place much like the majority of nursing homes I think we've all been to. And after I sang the line, "Who says you need a holiday to feel this way?" a few times, she finally couldn't keep it in any longer. She shook her head and asked, "Feel what way? Sick and dying?!"

It's true that people with oxygen tanks and wheel chairs don't need a holiday to feel whatever way they're feeling. But would they really sing a song about it? Probably not. At the same time, would perfectly healthy seniors actually go around singing the song written about the place they live? Would my roommates and I ever sing a song written in tribute to the ghetto apartment complex we call home?

Maybe I'll let you know how the contest turns out.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Musings on Marriage

So, I usually don't write about things like this on my blog, but I was feeling contemplative today as I walked home and just felt like getting some of these thoughts on paper. (or on screen, I guess.)

I have changed a lot throughout my college years with regards to my desires for marriage and what exactly I think I am looking for. I think I've always wanted to be married and have a family, but my expectations and dreams have changed quite a bit over time.

When I was 19, the mystery of marriage to me was that two people could want to be together no matter what. I actually remember telling people that I hoped to be poor with my husband for a time when we were first married. Something about clinging to one another while living in a shack and barely being able to put food on the table (temporarily, of course) was appealing to me. The idea that two people could be so enamored with each other despite destitute circumstances (even poverty, which I happen to believe is anything but romantic, now), seemed very romantic to me at the time. I also remember fantasizing about living on a farm. I have never lived on a farm, so I don’t know where this idea came from. I just wanted to be in love. And if I could be in love with a man whose one desire was to come in after a hard day’s work to a home-cooked meal and a sweet wife, I was pretty sure life would have reached its peak. At this time I was a sophomore in college. As some of the girls I was acquainted with got married—and some even quit school to get married—I had some secret hopes that I too would be married before I graduated, so I could move straight from student life into wife life.

Over the next while I realized that I wanted to be appreciated for more than just my abilities to cook and clean. I wanted someone who would see me as being smart. And even if I still ultimately aspired to be “just a mom,” I wanted to know that I could have done ANYTHING. I began to develop plans for graduate school, but I felt I’d probably abandon them if the chance to marry the right person presented itself. Junior year in college—20 years old—I remember announcing to a boy that I wanted to go to graduate school and become a therapist. He laughed and said, “Wow, you actually have, like, a plan!” It felt good to hear him say that, and I realized I wanted someone who would appreciate my ambitions, education, and ability to be self-sufficient and even provide for myself or a family if I needed to.

My ideas about my personal purpose in life continued to change as I was given repeated opportunities to learn and grow. I spent time in Mexico volunteering in an orphanage, served a mission to Puerto Rico, let myself become fascinated with my studies in Marriage, Family, and Human Development and really started to dream of the difference I wanted to be able to make as a therapist. It became something that I really wanted to do. It stopped feeling like a backup plan. I started wondering what I would do when I finally did get married, and wondered if I would relinquish my career as readily as I had once imagined.

My most recent project in Aruba was sort of empowering. Sometimes I think about what it would be like to move to Aruba—or anywhere!—and just become a part of the place. Our stake’s theme this year was “I can make a difference in my own life and in the life of others.” And it’s true! Part of me just wants to spend my life traveling the world, or just lay down my roots in some remote part of the world and do amazing and wonderful things for people. I’ve spent the last two weeks imagining places I could go and things I could do. I could just blend in, and really help people. Maybe as a therapist, or maybe implementing some sort of marriage education program based on the research we did, or maybe just really being that missionary I’ve always wanted to be.

And it hit me today, as I walked home, that it actually might be more convenient to never marry or have kids. I might be able to get a whole lot more accomplished. I could travel more, maybe pursue my songwriting interest, and even teach people what I know (even with no personal experience of my own) about how to be happily married or how to raise their kids. I realized that I would be giving up a lot of exciting opportunities if I decided to have a family. And I was a little shocked at the thoughts going through my head, especially when I considered how vastly different they were from a few years back.

But then I kept walking and I did a bit of personal inventory. I realized that in the way-deep-down part of my heart, I’d still pick a family over career, travels, and adventure. Any day of the week.

And this may seem unrelated, but my taste in men has changed over the years. My expectations have gone up, and as I walked home today I wondered in what way my last six-or-so years of experiences have influenced that shift. Have I come to understand myself better and what is really important, thereby coming up with a clearer picture of what I am looking for in the person I marry? Or am I more clear in what I am looking for only because I am becoming increasingly more picky and choosy, or more demanding? I just don’t know. But I do know that while several years ago I used to wait for someone to sweep me off my feet and convince me to put aside my dreams and aspirations, I feel much more inclined to hope there is someone out there who will walk with me and help me achieve some of my crazy goals, and let me take part in his as well.

And I don’t know if anyone will read this, because I’m not even in Aruba anymore. As much as I hope someone out there can relate to these thoughts, I’m okay if this post was just for my own reflecting.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Letter to Dr. Duncan

I just wrote this letter to my mentor Professor, Dr. Duncan. After writing it I thought, "This would make a good update on the research for the blog." So, here it is.

Hey Dr. Duncan,

I'm not sure if you'll be able to reach me today or not (I'll be flying to Curacao for the weekend!) and I don't know if my phone will work there or not. Let me tell you how it has gone this week.

Miraculously we didn't have to cancel any groups this week. We had 3 people at the cohabiting men's group, 3 at the cohabiting women's group, and THIRTEEN professionals last night. (It was a mad house!! In a good way...) Hasette and I have been doing constant has become my full time job! But I think it will work. We've got 3 tough groups to fill for next week--people expecting their first child, and men in their first year of marriage. They're all groups we had to cancel previously. So, pray that the people who we are contacting will come. I went to the midwife doctor's office this week and he called a couple of people for me and then gave me their numbers. And then a couple people who have been in focus groups have been kind enough to refer people.

A couple of questions:

1) what about people who don't want to take the money? Some of them just don't want to take it. That's fine, right? Or are we breaking some sort of ethical research law? Will the IRB come get me in the night?

2) what happens when people attend the wrong focus group? For example, in the single women's group we had a girl come who was engaged. Can I take her comments and move them into the transcription for the appropriate group? It's happened a couple of times.

That's all that comes to mind presently. Hasette is doing better. He's figured out that if we finish the questions on time, he usually has a bit of extra time to talk MARRIAGE ENCOUNTER!!! with his captive audience. With the men's group we ended at 8:40; but don't worry, the remaining 20 minutes we had a live infomercial on Marriage Encounter. :) Hey, I don't mind. As long as it's after the questions are over. That was one funny thing in the focus group last night. A large chunk of them work with Hasette in the family organization he is the PResident of. So, when we asked what resources are available, they all said (in unison), "Pro Famia Feliz!!" And then they kept talking about how great it was. Finally, Brother Buckley asked, "Is this a propaganda?" Hasette smiled and said, "Yes." But then they talked about some other resources. The government has a branch dedicated to family just seems like no one knows about it. Hasette didn't even know about it. How crazy is that?! Don't you think the President of a family organization on the island would know about the government's family department? Anyway, there was a marriage and family therapist (I didn't know those existed in Aruba!!) at the group last night, and she works for Aruba's family/couple department. I have an appointment to meet with her before I leave just to chat about her work.

So, things are going well. I'm feeling very grateful for my experience here. Honestly, I don't really want to leave. Hasette introduced me at the focus group last night and suggested to everyone there that they should pray I find an Arubian husband so I can stay and work for families on the island. Haha!! It'll be exciting to put this all together when I get back, though. I do look forward to that. Well, we'll be in touch. Hope you're doing well. Say hi to Barbara for me.


Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Beck the Dog

When I had been a missionary in Aruba for a few months, Brother Buckley began to say, "How you, Beck?" whenever he saw me. I was pleased that we had reached the level of name-shortening. Yes, it is generally protocol to address missionaries with their title (Elder or Sister) and their full last name, but I was nonetheless proud that somehow I had gained this level of rapport with him. I didn't notice that his greeting was often accompanied by a sly grin.

One day, Brother Buckley asked me if I understood any Dutch. (Aruba makes up part of the Dutch Caribbean, and most people here are fluent in Dutch.) When I told him I didn't, he smiled and said, "That's good, Sis."

Another day, Brother Buckley greeted me as usual: "How you, Beck?" He chuckled, and then told me that the phrase "How you Beck" sounds just like a Dutch phrase that means, "Shut your mouth," or literally, "Shut your beak." (Beck--however it's actually spelled in Dutch--equals 'beak'). We both laughed (despite the fact I had just learned that what I thought to be a term of endearment was actually more like something you say to your obnoxious parrot). It became a running joke. Whenever he how-you-becked me, I usually responded by how-you-becking him back. When I went home, this favorite phrase became the subject line for our occasional emails.

Two weeks ago, I was there at Church when the Cardenas family asked Brother Buckley if he wanted one of their little Husky puppies. He accepted, and when they asked what he thought he would name it he smiled and said, "Beck."

I grew attached to little Beck over the next couple of weeks. She was a cute little puppy who always seemed so excited to see me when I came home to the apartment or got up in the morning.

Last week, Beck suddenly became ill. She didn't move around like before, in fact, she didn't move much at all. And she stopped eating her food. It was decided, unbeknown to me, that she had swallowed a chicken bone which was lodged between her ribs. She was taken to the vet and put to sleep, also unbeknown to me. Brother Buckley, who had put Beck "on the other side of the house" finally stopped lying to me last night when I asked him how Beck was doing. Little Beck, we will miss you.

Monday, August 24, 2009

The Wise Man and the Foolish Man...REVAMPED

Check out this song. It's got bits of our Church's Primary song, The Wise Man and the Foolish Man, so listen for that. This lady's name is June Bayley, and I was at her house with the sister missionaries the other day when she busted out this song. Pretty cool, eh?

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Chinese Food

Last night we went to a really nice, authentic (as if I would know) Chinese restaurant. We brought Sherman's dad, Mr. Lee, who was born in Hong Kong. He ordered all the food for us, and our table had one of those cool spinny wheel thingies in the middle so you just put the food there and everyone takes what they want. We had roast duck, this humongous fish (which was still very much intact...eyeballs and everything), calimari, sweet and sour ribs, soup, and rice. was delicious.

I sat next to Gerda, a delightful woman originally from Suriname. She's a nurse here on the island. Kind of quiet, but when you get her to talk or laugh you find out she's a real gem. Anyway, we sat together and made up the more quiet side of the table. After our several-course meal and a couple of hours of good conversation and freezing air-co blowing like crazy, I was about tuckered out. As a final course, the server brought out a plate of orange wedges. You know, like the kind you get at halftime when you're playing soccer.

Just as the oranges came out, the conversation took a new turn: politics. The men at the table, Brother Buckley, Mr. Lee, and senior missionary Elder Pietz really took off. They talked about wars and rumors of wars, the economy, health care, you name it. Sister Pietz, Gerda, and myself looked at each other and settled in for what we knew could be a long time...minutes, hours, days? We just knew it would be long.

So we started eating the oranges. The great thing was, the men didn't even seem to notice (or care) that the oranges were there. We women each took an orange wedge, and whirled the Lazy Susan around so each of the men could have taken an orange if they'd wanted to. Then when the still-nearly-full plate reached us again, we each took another. We thought we were pretty funny. Pretty soon we had whirled the Lazy Susan around enough times that there was only one orange slice left on the plate. Gerda said, laughing, "We'll save that one for them."

The conversation lagged on. Soon all I could think of was my need to sleep. Either at home or in public, somehow I just had to sleep. I put my head down on the table and actually managed to break the sound of politic talk just long enough for Brother Buckley to ask me if I was sick. "No," I replied, "just tired."

"Oh," he said, clearly quite relieved. And the conversation continued. I felt bad that putting my head on the table had drawn this kind of unwarranted worry, so I sat up again.

Finally, after listening to more of the never-ending debate--statistics and extreme right-wing opinions from Elder Pietz, devil's advocate-type questions from Brother Buckley, and Chinese proverb-sounding wisdom from Mr. Lee, Gerda looked and me with mischievous eyes and said, "Let's do it again. Heads on the table." So we did, laughing at our own cleverness. Brother Buckley was immediately awakened to our call for respite, and he stood up, the others unconsciously following his cue. And just like that, we were back out into the pleasantly warm island air, where we snapped these photos. Also included are photos of the feast.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Tribute to William G. Buckley

Doesn't it seem like wherever you are, someone is there to see to it that you're alright, that you're taken care of? I'm pretty sure God puts people like that in our lives.

Bill Buckley has been one of those people for me since I've been here. Not only does he call me periodically to make sure I'm safe, have food to eat, can get where I need to go, etc., he has provided a much-needed listening ear when I've needed it.

He has a way of making me laugh and feel better when I'm stressed out. One day when I was at breaking point because of someone I was having difficulty working with, he said to me, "Just remember. I used to ride to school on one of those small school buses. There was always a seat missing. I bet it belonged to X, who always probably missed the bus." Which made me laugh. And then he reminded me that while this other person didn't understand as well as I did what I wanted to see accomplished in the work I am doing, I might try pitying this person rather than myself, or rather than being angry with the person.

Another thing he likes to tell me is, "There are two things you need to remember. Number one: Stuff happens. And number two: Things takes time." (Yes, things TAKES time...that was not a typo). Anyway, his advice usually makes me laugh, but then I get to thinking about what it really means, and what I might learn from it.

When Bill Buckley walks into a room or joins a group of people, he often calls out, "Isn't life WONDERFUL?" as a sort of greeting. He has a way of lifting people up wherever he goes. He serves as Branch President of the San Nicolas branch of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He is constantly serving members of the branch and members of the community who need his help. He is an example to me of Christlike service and the importance of maintaining perspective when things get tough.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

A Proposal, and Windsurfing Lessons

The other day, a black, English-speaking man (originally from St. Maarten) suggested we get married. I was getting my bike tire fixed at this po-dunk house with a tire in front of it that said, "Chubby's tire service." All three of them working there were skin and bones, but I found out Chubby was a dead uncle of the current owner. Anyway, they said, "We thought you was the Mormons!" I guess because I'm white, and ride a bike? Anyway, I said, "Oh. Well, actually I am. I used to be a missionary, but now I'm just here visiting." Then they wanted to know what I was doing, and I told them a little about the study. I said it was about marriage, and the one, whose name I found out later, is Michael, said, "Ah you mahhried?" (think Cool Runnings accent). I said, "No." He said, "Is you lookin'?" I said, "Um...yeah." He said, "Me too. Let's stop lookin'." I laughed...and invited him to the focus group for never-married men. And he came!! Hooray for research!

I also made friends with the Jamaican neighbor, who happens to teach windsurfing, which is where you have a giant sail connected to your surf board. And he said he would teach me...for FREE!! So we went to town yesterday, to one of the nice beaches at the hotels, and he taught me (kind of)...except mostly his English is hard for me to understand and I can't figure out what he's talking about. The "lesson" went something like this:

Bob: Okay...get up there.
Me, trying to climb up the board and falling off: this?
Bob: Yeah...just get yo' butt up deh.
Me: OKay I'm up
Bob: Okay now you pull deh sail up...ready, ONE, TWO, THREE (which I wasn't sure if he meant 3 pulls to get it up, or if he was counting to three and then I was supposed to pull it up in one giant heave)
Bob: Okay...find deh wind. Where's deh wind? The wind's ovah deh. You see deh wind?
Me: What do you mean? How are you supposed to see the wind?
Bob: You does see which way deh wind is blowin'. You does see it?
Me: Uh...yeah.
Bob: Okay. Now when you does see the wind you does always go with deh wind. You understand?
Me: Uh...yeah.
Bob: OKay. You does just go like this...

And then he took off. I got going for a little while, but then I turned around and realized I was way out at sea. And then I couldn't get back on because I couldn't figure out which way the wind wanted to blow me. And everytime I got back on I just fell off again. Over, and over, and over. And then the rescue boat with these two Arubian guys came out to pick me up, and I was embarrassed, so I told them I was fine. But then they came back like 15 minutes later, and they were like, "C'mon, get in." So I did. And they took me back to shore. And they were talking to each other a lot in Papiamento, and I could understand them of course...and the rough translation of what they were saying was, "Holy cow, she was way the heck out there."

We became friends though, the rescue boat drivers and I. After a while they asked me if I understood Papiamento and when I answered them back in Papiamento, their eyes got really big and they looked as if I had just told them I was the president of the United States. And then they asked if I wanted to go fishing with them. So I stayed on the boat, and we sailed out to sea, and they fished, and we talked. And then when we came back to shore, they asked if I wanted to kayak. So we did. It was so fun, speaking (and mostly listening to) Papiamento, and just being in the sun, on the ocean, with people who had so kindly rescued me from the hazards of windsurfing...

Monday, August 10, 2009

Research in Aruba

Some people have asked me what it is exactly that I'm researching here in Aruba. goes. We're trying to learn how to improve and/or create marrige education that would be specifically targeted to Arubans' needs. We are conducting focus group research, which means we gather together a smallish group of people, say, women married 7 years or more, or men in their first year of marriage. There are 11 different groups in all. They come, and 14 questions are asked, and everyone is given the chance to respond. They are questions like, "What concerns do you have about marriage?", and "What resources would you use to strengthen your marriage if they were available?" and "What would be the most convenient way for you to access these resources?" etc. Eventually we'll be able to pass the information on to people who care, so they can use it to improve what they've got going on here. Or...they might need me to come back and help them start a new program! Haha...that's more like wishful thinking. But actually, there is a possibility I could come back as a graduate student, either helping them to implement, or doing further research. That seems pretty far-fetched, but it is a possibility. Meanwhile, I'm loving it here and good things are happening.

Bon Dia

Bon Dia!

Here I am, at one of the old internet cafes I used to frequent some P-days as a missionary. I'm attaching some pictures of my time so far in Aruba. The picture of the bike is from the first couple of days I got here, when I first rode to the beach. That was a happy accomplishment. And the sweaty me is after riding my bike to said beach. You'll also see a picture of the Duncans and I, (we're the white ones), and President Buckley and Brother Daniel Henriette, waiting for the water show to start on the ritzy side of the island (which is not OUR side of the island). And, there's a picture of myself with Allesandro, someone I taught as a missionary. He left for Holland to study less than a week after I arrived, but it was wonderful to see him and his family. Life is good!

There's a Crab in My Flipper

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Taylor's Home

Okay, so this is my 3rd post for the day, and a testament to the importance of keeping this bloggy thing updated more regularly if I'm to avoid playing catch up later.

Anyhoo, I couldn't not talk about the fact that my brother, Taylor, IS HOME FROM HIS MISSION!! We went almost 3 years without seeing each other, since he left on his mission while I was on mine. Wow, it was so great to be there at the airport to meet him. He's just as cool as I ever remembered...and actually, cooler because he speaks Spanish now. We spent the first night after he got home playing songs we've written on the guitar, most of which are autobiographical and led to some great conversation of the catching-up sort.


Summery Tales

Here I am for my er, quarterly update.

I'll try to attach some pictures of the highlights.

1) Triathlon training. This Saturday, I will participate in my first triathlon--ever. I am half scared out of my mind, and half excited. I swam the full distance for the swim portion for the first time yesterday, and did it again today. It's a sprint triathlon, so it's just a 1/2 mile swim, but there was a point (yesterday before I swam it, actually), when I thought that distance would kill me. But now that I've done it twice, I feel a lot better about Saturday. Tack on a 10 mile bike ride and a 5K run, and I'm there! Yeah! I feel so hard core.

2) The mental hospital. No, I was not instated. I started teaching piano lessons there for volunteer hours for a psychology class, but I have loved it so much that I've kept doing it. I have just one student, and he is great. Tonight I am going to a talent show he will be playing at. I am so proud! Funny story, though. So, the other week I asked him about a book he carries around sometimes called "The Art of Power." He informed me that it was a tai chi book, with instructions on how to do the different poses and things. I was intrigued, so I asked him some more questions, and then he said, "Do you want me to teach you?"

"Well," I thought, "why not?"

So, there I was, in what I thought to be a pretty private setting. In the group room in this particular wing of the state hospital, with my piano student, doing tai chi. It wasn't until a couple of weeks later I realized the possibility of having been observed. I came for a lesson, and the desk attendant wasn't sure where my student was. I said, "Maybe he's in the group room already, practicing."

"Nope," he said, "I can see the camera right here and he's not in there."

Doh! Oh well...I hope someone got a smile out of watching our piano lesson-turned-tai chi lesson that day. :)

3) Tennis Intramurals. I played in BYU's mixed doubles intramurals a few weeks ago with a good friend, Craig Estep. And we won! It was awesome. I was pretty surprised when they put us in the top division, and I figured we'd meet some pretty stiff competition. But, well...we didn't really. I mean, we only had to play 3 matches to win the championship, and two of those matches were against the same team. But anyway, that's not the point. It was great, and glorious, and I've got a shirt now. I guess there's nothing else holding me back from graduating, now.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Goodbye, Missionaries!

Well, another group of missionaries has come and gone. These ones are headed for Mexico: some to Hermosillo, and some to Leon. They will be wonderful missionaries. I really have grown to love them, and I hated saying goodbye! They have great things ahead of 'em, though.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Oh boy, oh boy!!

I'm SO excited. Here's why: Last semester I applied for something called an ORCA grant. It's where you work with a professor to write a proposal for a research project you would like to do. My project involves going to ARUBA and conducting focus groups to find out current needs and preferences for marriage education there. About 1/3 of applicants are awarded the $1500 to work on their projects. And on Monday, the email came, and I got it!! I'm going to Aruba, baby!! I'll leave in July, and be there for about 6 weeks. I'm probably going to miss my own graduation. SO WORTH IT!!! I'm going to visit everyone I LOVE there, and learn how to KITE BOARD, and go to the BEACH regularly, buy AVOCADOS the size of my head, and drink fruit batidos. Oh yes, and I will research like no other. It's gonna be flippin' AMAZING. I guess I'm just really grateful they saw the good in my project because now I have the opportunity to do something that I feel can make a difference, and I get to do it in one of the most beautiful places on earth. :)


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