Thursday, July 19, 2018

College Correspondent

Avante, Avante Para a Vitoria!

That was my mission's theme,

Brethren, shall we not go forward in so great a cause? Go forward and not backward. Courage, brethren; and ON, ON TO THE VICTORY!

And may it ever be our mantra as well! It's said that to be successful, a man needs something to live for and somebody to live. I am so thankful for the gospel of Jesus Christ!

This last week has been one of transition- with the ending of old, and the starting of new. It was nice to rest a little from the summer trips and ever increasingly I am realizing I am not a traveler. Don't misunderstand me, I enjoy seeing new places and making the occasional vacation. Yet, deep down I look forward to putting roots down and becoming a part of a community. One's outlook does change, knowing that they are tied to a place. I want to feel like the land is mine, I want to feel connected deep down, to help build a town, and I even want to feel invested in every local bond issue that arises.

Bro. Bach suggested we call the white van, "The Great White Hope" for it's death has been exaggerated far beyond Twain's. This week saw it start and run for the first time in over a year. And for me, it's been three years since I was behind the wheel. It sputtered, but stuck, its strength increasing, as I idled and then cautiously took it for a neighborhood tour. White smoke billowed as water or old gasoline burned off and I strained each turn as the power steering was out. The next day I took it in for an inspection knowing it would fail. And fail it did, but with passing colors! For again, there would be no immediate death, as all the problems were fixable. The plastic windows were ok, the bumperless front presented no problem, and the bent side was perfectly fine. However, there is a slight electrical problem, and we currently have no brake lights or blinkers. That's on the menu to fix tomorrow. I've checked all the fuses so it must be a wire or ground problem.

On Thursday, I went with all the kids to visit the Merritt's in Tyler. Amidst brewing clouds we took off, and by the time we made it to Dallas, the rain was absolutely pouring, we had our windshield wipers going at 100% and traffic crawled along at only 35 mph due to our inability to see beyond the brake lights of those in front of us. Thankfully, the weather cleared up for the last hour of our trip and we encountered no difficulties. It was again a weekend filled with lots of games and fun. Although this trip against Aunt Janel my record in ping-pong was 0-4 and it is quite frankly getting embarrassing.

Saturday morning we left the Merritt's and helped at the temple grounds clean-up service activity. From there, Sawyer drew the short straw and while the rest of the family headed to Trader Joe's and then home, he joined me on my excursion to Josey Record Store. Situated in a huge warehouse, they have tens of thousands of records and cds. Running short on time and  funds, I picked up 7 old records out of the bargain area (totaling $8) and two cds.

That evening, I worked for Mr. Clark one last time, weedeating for 2 hours. It's such a blessing to be able to do that type of work, and not worry about poison ivy.

Sunday I taught again in Elders Quorum, facilitating the discussion on meekness, based off of Elder Bednar's address from April's conference. Here are two key takeaway's that I had:

In Matthew 11:28-30, the Savior says, "Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light."

I find it very instructive that the Savior, among all the attributes that he so perfectly emulates, describes himself as meek.

Second, in my mind there was no differentiation between humility and meekness. Elder Bednar helped me understand the difference by saying, "Whereas humility generally denotes dependence upon God and the constant need for His guidance and support, a distinguishing characteristic of meekness  is a particular spiritual receptivity to learning both from the Holy Ghost and from people who may seem less capable, experienced, or educated, who may not hold important positions, or who otherwise may not appear to have much to contribute. " Humility deals more with our relationship to God, while meekness is more about our relationship with our fellow men. Which makes Christ's statement even more powerful. While our Savior, he still displayed incredible meekness listening to weak and fallible people.

Finally, I finished a book by Pres. Nelson and want to share this: In his BYU devotional (given some 30+ years ago) "Obedience and Sacrifice" he talks about how the word sacrifice literally means to "make sacred." He then traces the history of sacrifice in the Bible, talking about animal sacrifices and the Atonement. I really liked this thought,

No longer do we think in terms of shedding blood or sacrificing animals. Rarely should we focus in terms of "giving up" time and means. Instead, we should now revert to the original meaning of the word - that we "make sacred." For us to sacrifice, we should "make sacred" every thought, every action, and our very character.... The giving of our time and means should be the end in itself, but a means to the end of making ourselves sacred. Each, by living a saintly life, can present to the Lord one more sanctified soul to the honor and glory of his Creator.

Monday, July 16, 2018

Letter 47

So, first off, I did not forget to write an email last week. I just may have forgotten to send it.

But, fear not, fret not, this week will more than make up for it

To start, congratulations France, you earned it. Good try Croatia, next time.
2022 it's Belgium baby

This week, walking in the street, we had a little, let's call it, discussion.
Or, in other words, the local crazy man bombarded us with some real crap. I hate to use such a vulger word but i'm not talking about a verbal assault. This boy was going full monkey on us, snagging and slinging. Thanks to some incredibly agile reflexes, and a name tag that protects, the only thing that didn't wipe off clean was a little skid mark.​
Thankfully I was able to find this handy lifesaver to get me out of a smear.​

Also, in an effort to teach a young student, we marked to encounter at "the lake." Unbeknownst to me, and apparently the member I hired to bring me there, there are two lakes in this city. One apparently is a lot lot lot farther than the other. About two hours longer. Unfortunately, that was the one that we chose. So, that killed about a whole day in the sun, getting blisters

And now, we're off to make some more news for next letter. Today, we, along with Pedro (our ex-padre recent convert), to visit the santuário de Itajubá. Here is some photos for you real quick.​

I love you all,

let us all press on

Elder John Paul III

Sunday, July 15, 2018

With All My Love

Good morning, Elder Schenewark,

We missed you last week. Be sure that if we don’t hear from you first thing tomorrow morning we’ll be calling out the calvary. Hunter reassured us you’d be contacted daily so not to worry. Our guesses range from you being transferred to a new policy from your new mission president.

Hunter spent a good portion of his week getting the Ford E350 van in working order. He got confirmation that the old battery was done, and purchased a new one. He made several trips to the auto parts store to determine whether or not a fuse was out, as the turn signals and lights aren’t working. Besides replacing the tires, the reason the van slid in the first place, it needs to be registered. He’ll be working on it again Monday as he’s anxious to drive to Utah and find a job.

He also took the kids to the YMCA to swim and play, helped with lunch and dinner – making our day so much better. This summer has been a delight having him in the house, and library, and refrigerator, and shower! The deer, or something, ate his garden while we were in Boston, but we’ll be moving it a bit towards the house to take advantage of the water.

Cooper built the second of three small rock benches around the fire pit. One more to go, and then I’ll buy the rest of the wood for the rock bench seats. I still need to purchase the flat rock that will finish the top of the fire pit as well. Speaking of Cooper, we got his hospital bill for his appendix. $44,000.00 Ouch. Thank goodness for insurance. I think we'll owe about $2,500.00. And Sawyer's finger? $6,700.00. Another ouch. I think we'll pay about $700.00. Another ouch. And speaking of ouch, Dad's insurance next year goes from a monthly premium of $350 to $1,200.00. This seems to be a national trend, so I'm not that surprised

Hunter took everybody up to Tyler to see family one more time. They were there in time for dinner on Thursday, and pulled up to the service project, a little late, Saturday morning. Our ward was in charge of helping the grounds worker put dirt in two massive cement flower boxes, which involved digging up 17 large rose bushes, and replanting them after the dirt level was higher. Then the beds were mulched, and watered. It’s always wonderful to rub shoulders together this way, but having Bro. Johnson there, who’s not even a member, was sweet. When I thought he needed a break, I’d have him share a recipe, and he’d pause to explain dinner options. I’ll take him on my handcart company any day.

We stopped at Trader Joe's on the way back, while Hunter and Sawyer stopped by Josey Records. Hunter found seven records while I found eight bags full! We enjoyed some time in the Y pool, and then the boys went to a stake dance, and Hunter worked on a weed whipping job in Bentwater.  Dad visited the marina that is newly reopened to visit with sellers of boats, and then he went to the church. The rest of us got ready for Sunday.

While the kids were in Tyler, Dad and I were finally able to use gift cards from Christmas to The Cheesecake Factory, in Fort Worth. We meandered through and around Sundance Square finding a yummy chocolate store. Of course we had to sample their wares, and bought half a pound of samples. Our dinner was delicious, my steak and potatoes hitting the spot, and we took our cheesecake to go.

I was walking outside, something I try to do everyday as I sit for so long at work, and love looking at the stars. I was reminded of President Hinckley's talk on the north star, how it's so consistent and steadfast I picture you down on the other side of the continent, so far away from home, living the gospel in exact obedience, also so steadfast and consistent My love for you grows on a daily basis.



P.S. I transferred $50 to your Chase account. I don’t want you having to scrape by on finding food

Friday, July 13, 2018

College Correspondent

The City of Sleaze

Yep, I'm talking about Seattle. My flight was without incident, and Alaska Airlines left a good impression.

I met up with half the students at the airport, and we took a shuttle 90 minutes to the Seabeck Conference Center where we stayed. It's all the way on the other side of the bay from Seattle, and is located beautifully. Everywhere is green, rainforest-like luscious, except with lots and lots of pine trees. And of course different animals. We were 100 yards from the ocean, and there was also a pond on the property. I went boating almost every day, and saw deer on the shore as well as a majestic bald eagle flying overhead. Lovely.

The scenery was scintillating, but the purpose was politics. Daily, we dived into discussions debating liberalism. "What is liberalism? Has it failed?" That was the theme of the conference, and the professors who presented overwhelmingly declared, "I don't know exactly" and "yes, and no" in response to those questions. Helpful, right? In all honesty, I learned an incredible amount. The topic is so nuanced an actual definition is tough, but I left feeling very comfortable with the opinion that I had formed and my understanding of it. I won't bore with Jules Verne dry details of each day, but here are some key takeaways:

-Liberalism is constantly changing and advancing. (which makes it hard to define, because various groups like liberalism up to a certain point, while others are "progressives".) We heard about 9 waves of liberalism, which showed how each wave is advancing a new freedom, except they are all in tension, and thus each new wave lessons the freedoms of the previous waves.

Freedom from religious persecution
Freedom from foreign domination
Freedom from civil war
Freedom from arbitrary rule/tyranny
Freedom from government interference in the economy
Freedom from rule by another
Freedom from tyranny of the majority
Freedom from exploitation by sub- political groups (both in the economic and social sphere)
Freedom from biological necessities
Freedom from ??????
What will the tenth be? I've an idea, but would love to hear any others. Basically, man has given up building a literal Tower of Babel, and instead is trying to become god, by freeing himself from God. Won't turn out good.

Interestingly, 90% of the group this year (and every year) is Catholic. They have a philosophical tradition which is absent or nearly so in Protestantism.

Shout-out to my friend named Theodore ********, whom I met at this conference.  This week he went by Rod. This was his bio he submitted for the conference

"is a rising senior at Villanova university studying literature and oceanography. Hailing from Birdsboro, Pennsylvania, he frequents service trips which have taken him all over the globe, from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania to Wilmington, Delaware. At Villanova, he takes great pride in his position as First Mate of the Carpathia Society, dedicated to locating the true wreckage of the RMS Carpathia at her watery grave in Davy Jones' locker."

Hilarious. What other kid would think about showing up at the airport with a sign that read "ISI'S meeting here."

That said, I was disheartened by the lack of creative or original thinking. Everyone, with the exception of a handful of students, was clearly repeating what they've been taught.

Thursday we took the day off from discussion and went into Seattle. Instead of driving around the bay again, this time we drove to a nearby town and took an hour long ferry ride to the city. I stood on the bow and loved every second. On the way back, D+C 61 was hanging around in the mind and made it less enjoyable, but this was still one of the most enjoyable parts of the entire trip.

I visited the Pike's Place Market, famous for its fresh fish but even more impressive with all the fresh produce being sold. Ranier cherries = 10/10. As our the golden peaches. There was so many jams that I taste-tested for an hour. There was also an "eastern medicine" boutique that I walked past and then ran by realizing immediately that this was not a place to buy essential oils. Oh no.

Then, a group of students and I walked into a bookstore. Which happens to be an extreme left-wing bookstore. The general title went something like this "How to start a revolution with no money and Defeat Capitalism." Those two shop encounters in the space of 10 minutes crushed a lot of my American naivete. Add to that more gay pride than I've ever seen and innumerable homeless people, and it felt distinctly different than any city I've ever visited.

We split up, and I went solo, walking along the harbor, visiting the Klondike Gold Rush museum, the Seattle Mariners and Seahawks stadiums, Amtrak train station, a waterfall garden, the original starbucks store, another bookstore (only dealing with architecture thankfully) and some city parks. At 5, we met up at the harbor and enjoyed a group dinner at "The Crab Pot." I ate some salmon, and finished the night off by bringing rhubarb cake and ice cream on the ferry back.

Above everything else, I was amazed that with all the discussions we held at the conference, no solution was available without a nationwide understanding of our identity as sons and daughters of God. We must understand that being "endowed by [our] Creator" is an essential part of being American.

I find it very informative that Joseph Smith and Sidney Rigdon in their testimony said,

"And now, after the many testimonies which have been given of him, this is the testimony, last of all, which we give of him: That he lives! For we saw him, even on the right hand of God; and we heard the voice bearing record that he is the Only Begotten of the Father—That by him, and through him, and of him, the worlds are and were created, and the inhabitants thereof are begotten sons and daughters unto God."

They testified first of God, and then our relationship to Him. I am thankful to know that we are all children of the Most High God, and draw strength knowing that He loves us and wants the best for us.

Sunday, July 8, 2018

With All My Love

Dear Elder Schenewark,

What a week. We’re curious as to how you might have been affected as Brazil lost their World Cup game. And to lose because of an error by a Brazil player – darn!
What a week. We’re home from the vacation in New England, all together again, with the weather twelve degrees cooler upon our return. We brought the Texas weather with us for sure, as their temperature went up fifteen degrees upon our arrival.

Monday morning we drove to Cape Cod – Tanner had to rent a vehicle as your grandparents’ van was getting a cracked windshield repaired. What a lovely day. The beach was very empty, the sun bright, the breeze cool, and the water refreshing. Nora is a mermaid. Breyer and AnneMarie created their own tails out of sand. Sawyer, Miller and Tanner threw a baseball. Hunter swung a club, hitting his balls into the Atlantic ocean. Dad’s catching of a king size horseshoe crab, alive, was the highlight. Cooper found mini crabs, spending most of his time snorkeling. The restrictions on having his appendix removed were lifted just in time for our vacation. Me? I just sat back and soaked it all in. I love my family and love spending time with them.

We also stopped at the Cape Cod potato chip factory for their tour – got a little mini bag of chips for our efforts – and had a snack for the longish drive back home.
Monday evening we had Uncle Ben’s family over to the Bach’s for dinner, and a modified FHE. We played a get-to-know-the-far-away-cousins game, and enjoyed Sis. Bach’s famous Hogwart’s butter beer.

Tuesday afternoon we had a little mini reunion. All of my siblings were there except for Uncle Zach. Grampy checked himself out of the hospital just in time for the barbeque. The pool was the main attraction even though there were other games spread out on the lawn. Uncle Aaron took a few on his boat. You snooze, you lose. We’ll have to catch him on our next visit out.

The fourth of July was probably my favorite day of our vacation. We had access to an empty house off an outlet of Lake Winipesaukee. Former Bishop Varney came with his boat and took us on fast and bumpy rides, pulled us behind on a big yellow pillow, pulled out a kayak and paddle board – so much fun! We had a lovely picnic lunch, and shared apple pie I made for Hunter’s 23rd birthday. Hunter and I rode up with Becky the night before, so I had plenty of time to make potato salad, black bean and corn salsa, and pie.

Your grandparents have given us their old Toyota Sienna van. They’re the proud owners of a new navy Honda CRV. We spent Thursday morning packing the old van with treasures from your grandparents’ and Bach’s basements. One just moved and one will be moving, so we’re the lucky recipients. Your father and siblings were on the road back home by 10 a.m., and TanMarie, Nora and I went to the cliffside mansions in Newport, RI. It was a beautiful summery day with a nice breeze. We sampled the local fare, with Nora inhaling my ice cream cone. We drove up to Aunt Shirley’s on the way home, and she had a chance to meet AnneMarie and Nora for the first time. They dropped me off at your grandparents’ home as I was leaving the next day. They’re in the area until Tuesday, AnneMarie’s 24th birthday.

Friday morning, o’dark o’clock, your grandmother and I worked in the garden for two hours. She asked me to weed in front of the fence, but being a type A personality, felt compelled to clear the whole 5x20 patch. It was not hard. The dirt is moist and dark -  weeds slide right out with a little tug. Nothing like getting grounded when you’re in the garden. Your grandfather hopefully will be sliding into a more comfortable routine. His fevers might be caused by running out of a cancer medicine that has now been refilled. His bladder infections might be a side effect of a medicine that is being switched. If those are both handled, he’s left with his neuropathic feet and of immediate concern, pain in his thigh. That could be from a fall while he was moving, or related to the metasticized spots that might be on a nerve.

I had a bumpy ride all the way to Texas, flying through large thunderhead clouds. Lucky me. I picked up some groceries, leaving behind a large bag, unbeknownst to me, that your father had to pick up right after pulling in from a three day drive. Lucky him. I spent the whole day Saturday, all alone, doing those chores I never get to: Polishing kitchen cabinets, cleaning bathrooms, cleaning under Breyer’s bed, changing two beds, doing wash, mopping the kitchen floor – it was a very productive day. They arrived home by 2 p.m., I think, and we were able to unload both vehicles in a short amount of time. Much quicker than putting it in. If we can get the large Ford van to run, we’ll send Hunter to BYU in the Toyota. That’s his project this week, and he’s very motivated.

In Bishop Causse's talk, It's All About People, he said, "...[T]he key to understanding the Church is not to see it through the outward appearance of its buildings or even as a well-organized institution but through its millions of faithful members, who strive each day to follow the example of Jesus Christ...In other words, the Church is all about people. It is all about you, the Lord’s disciples—those who love and follow Him and who have taken His name upon them by covenant."

That's a quick summary. Hopefully I'll get some more pictures up before next week.

You are one of the Lord's "people." You are one who is perfectly striving to follow the Lord's example. It is all about you, one of the Lord's disciples. Be safe. Be healthy. Know of our love for you.


Saturday, July 7, 2018

A Caterpillars Life

One spring day I was in an egg. I hatched!

I started to eat and eat and eat. I felt bad. I curled up and turned into a chrysalis.

On day 11 I couldn't get out!

On day 2 and 3 and  and 5 it was harder!

On day 6 and 7 and 8 and 9 it was looser.

On day 10 I opened up. I crashed with my wing.

Aaah! I had leopard wings. I flew to an orange flower.

I am having a wonderful life.

Tuesday, July 3, 2018

Letter #45

Weeeellllll, transfers have come and gone

We, in our seven hour trip, ran out of money about half way through, stranding us
To make matters worse, my new companions bus decided to not stop in the city we were stranded in.
So, I had to send one companion one way and chase the other one back to my area, getting back at midnight.

Total tripage, three and a half days.

But we made it

Brazil won, the people are happy

Elder Leopoldo Alardin IV is now in the wild wild extremes of Mission Brazil Campinas.

The new President has arrived.

That's it,
Brazil loses to Belgium on Friday, calling it


Elder Hazard ;)

Sunday, July 1, 2018

With All My Loves

Dear Elder Schenewark,

This will be long. Buckle your seat belt, put your seat back in the upright position, ensure your table top is up and secured, and hang on for the ride. My flight into Boston was smooth and uneventful once I was on the plane. Getting to the airport was the adventure. Getting off work, at the beginning of rush hour traffic is bad enough. Finding out in time I was leaving from DFW airport, not Love Field, was a miracle. Picking the right route to the airport was essential. But using the expressway - not such a good idea. I sped right past my exit. Getting turned around off the expressway, and back into the poor man's lane was painful, but I was okay until I got to the airport. There's a south and north remote parking areas. I was rudely prevented from exiting to the south, and had to drive miles to get to the north lot, wait for the bus to pick me up, endure all the other stops ahead of mine, and wait in security with one TSA agent manning the ID check point, and others manning ONE entry X- ray machine. Seriously. I walked up to my gate while they were boarding. So much for getting there two hours ahead of my flight.

Dad picked me up around 11 p.m., and found Grampy and Hunter up on the porch waiting for my arrival, on the new front porch. I had been up since 4 a.m., and didn't have the foresight to think about snapping a photo. It is a wonderful thing to see loved ones waiting for your return, gives you a glimpse into heaven. Such love had to be shared, and I snuggled into bed to say hello to your grandmother.

I haven't had a chance to ask Hunter what he did for the three days before we all arrived, but I do know he went to the new Hartford Connecticut temple with the Bachs.

We spent Thursday morning in bed with Grampy playing Scrabble. Since only four could fit around the board, the rest of us were cracking the jokes, braiding your sister's hair, and painting Grampy's toe nails.

Because it was heavily raining, we gave AnneMarie the Tanner tour of Northborough, visited Baby Ben's grave, welcomed Uncle Ben's family back from their week in Boston, and rolled into Sawyer's Bowladrome for a game of candle pin bowling. Uncle Ben and Sawyer, after five turns, led the pack with 36. I think AnneMarie held second with her 34, and Josh and I tied for third with 33. The owner agreed to give Dad, after hearing him talk about his sport history class and the three balls bequeathed to Jarrod from Uncle David, an actual pin. What a treasure! Tarleton has no idea how lucky they are. We all drove to Aunt Jenny's for Hawaiian haystacks, and of course, Kimball's ice cream. Leaving Dallas at 101, it was wicked strange to be standing in line wearing jeans and a sweat shirt. Such is the weather in New England.

(Missing you - see your spot?)

Friday we took AnneMarie to the Concord / Lexington area. Whenever I go, it always makes my July 4th more meaningful. Listening to your father explain things, again, reminds me, again, of the treasure I found. It was hot. Too hot, but we made good time back to Brigahm St. pool, pizza from Emma's Northborough House of Pizza, and a minor league game at Lowell's Spinners.

Highlights include Miller getting three balls, Breyer and Hunter getting their picture together in caricature, the Boston policeman bobblehead giveaway depicting the moment the curse was broken, watching the team win with the two last at bats, and baby Nora blinking her baby blues at all who turned her way. It was hot. Too hot, but we sat in somebody else's seats, in the shade, and had a ball.

Upon our return I found Grampy in an incoherent enough state to make me think he had a fever. He did. Grammy and I loaded him up and had him inside the emergency room in Framingham before 11 p.m. We found out he'd be admitted and had your grandmother out the door by 1 a.m. I stayed the night with him, crawling into a bed the nurses brought me by 3:30 a.m. There was no place I'd rather be.  His bladder infection required IV antibiotics, so he'll stay in for them. His leg that's in pain is either a muscle tear, a nerve injury from lifting too much when they moved, or his metasticized cancer spot on his spine might be affecting the nerve to his leg. Either way, he's in good hands and I'll be going back later today.

LauraBeth pulled into town from Canada and brought me home when your grandmother came back to the hospital. Everyone else ventured into Boston for the Freedom Trail. Again, it was too hot. So the two mile walk turned into mini drives, from Bunker Hill to the USS Constitution to the USS Cassin Young.

Today after church a small contingency went to Sharon, VT to show AnneMarie the birthplace of Joseph Smith. More on their adventures at a later time.

The week is just beginning, the schedule full, and your letter will be large next week as well.

Know how much we miss you. How proud we are to call you son. How excited we are as you near the first year mark.



Monday, June 25, 2018

Letter #44

Everybody is leaving me. I'm gonna be all alone, a lost kid in the supermarket. JK, we chill here.

Elder Amorim is leaving, Thursday. We'll meet up with everybody at the temple on Thursday to make the transfers happen, and also to send of Brucie Hill, beloved Canadaian (idk if those words go well together #USA) and mission president.

But, at least they're getting replaced. Pres. Marsh and mystery companion will both arrive this week.
Just a lot of preparing for that.

President Hill chose to spend his last week in the farthest, darkest area of his mission.
In other words, got to see him on Sunday, so that was nice.
Sister Hill brought some brownies, white chocolate, dark chocolate, coconut, nutella.
Diabetes in a pan, I like to call them.

And the only other news is that, because of the transfers and the reduced money, we've been eating rice every night, scraping together coins on the street to pay for the ticket.
It's funny, every time one of us sees a coin on the road, it's a stop and run and pick it up and get back.

Other things, My boys from Belgium #representing
FIFA fandom with my asians is becoming useful knowledge down here.
And another weak week.
Next week, all the exciting things will hapen though, so get ready.


Elder Whiter than White

Sunday, June 24, 2018

With All My Love

Dear Elder Schenewark,

Hopefully we’ll all hear more from you this week. Even Aunt Janel commented on your sparse words from last week. At work, the large in the air TV stays on FOX for their news, except this week it was soccer that was broadcasting. I’ve seen all kinds of fancy soccer moves, and you have to know you were on my mind maybe more than usual. You’re my soccer boy. This is Cooper eating last week's  carrot cake birthday deliciousness.

Aunt Janel, Luke and Annaliese surprised Dad on Friday evening for his birthday. They pulled in before 9 p.m. and we stayed up until midnight playing PSYCH and WIKI. So much fun! Your twin is a hard man to beat. He got up early in the morning and went with Sawyer to play pick-up basketball at the Y after almost a year off. He even called Gammons and got him to go as well. They both came home beat. Luke wanted to visit the Dinosaur State Park in Glen Rose, so we went, perhaps a little later than we should have left, but it was still fun. Just really hot. The boys had fun trying to catch fish in the net Luke brought, and the girls hunted for fossils. We’re so grateful to have family close enough to enjoy time together.

Uncle Roger with his new stake president and presidency, of the Springfield, MA stake.

We spent the remainder of the day getting everybody packed to go to Boston. They will be leaving Monday after two orthodontic appointments at 7 a.m., and perhaps after a trip to Stephenville. That remains to be seen. I’ll fly out Wednesday right after work, and will meet Tanner and crew in the airport. We’ll be missing you. And I am SO excited to see Norah!

I got you back on Uncle Aaron’s email list – he’s no longer mailing letters out. And I’m not sure if you’ve been getting Uncle Rich’s? But Trevor was called to El Salvador, reporting to the Guatemala MTC for six weeks September 18th. Just wow.

Sarah Whitcomb was pulled out of Nicaragua, like Megan, and moved to Haiti.

Hunter showing off his new, hand-me-down cowboy boots. Can we say he's now a true Texan?

Hunter has been at his conference all week. He’s called a few times, ready to come home. He said he was more homesick now than when he was on his mission, and wondered why. He also was in a row boat when he was making the call. Without his life preserver! We had plenty to talk about. He flies out today to Boston, ready to end his woodsy week in Washington.

Cooper’s had a quiet week. He saw the new Jurassic Park movie, as well as the new Incredibles. He drew, played LEGOs, and chilled on his king size bed. Yesterday he drove his tractor around and mowed our lawn for the first time. He was sore, but he persevered.

Sawyer’s thumb is still healing. He’s had some random nerve pain throughout the week, lessening of numb spots, and a basketball shot that is returning to glory.

Miller is the force behind everybody else being busy. He plays games at tables, on the floor, in the air. He is always on the go, until he convinces Dad to use his iPad at the end of the day for a baseball game.

Dad and Sawyer have been out fishing at least once if not more. Sawyer still holds the crown for King of Bass catching at our house. Dad got a trolling motor for Father’s Day / Birthday, so they’re excited to go out in the boat when we’re back.

We love you. Be safe. Be diligent.