Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Optimist Oratorical Contest

 Why My Voice is Important.
Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. I have always wanted to be a magician. My childhood dream was to be able to everything: card tricks, rope tricks, coin tricks, you name it. During this time I learned the three parts of the magic tricks.
The first part is the pledge. During this part of the act the set up occurs. It is necessary to introduce the trick you are about to perform, to make sure they know what you are doing. This leads up to the turn. It is in this part that the actual trick is performed. Whether it be a slight-of-hand or a glide the whole concept of the trick is performed here. This is all done while continually talking to and distracting the audience just enough to take their minds or eyes off of the trick for mere seconds. This puts the card or ball in the right trick position.
Third is the prestige. The prestige is where the trick comes together. The card is revealed, the man is once again made whole, and the ordinary becomes anything but.
Now if we compare this to life we will give these magic trick parts a new meaning. The first part, the pledge, relates to our life in the early stages. Our parents lead us and guide us, and help us develop our voice. They teach us, introduce us, correct us, love us, and mold us into a “trick” that is getting ready to be performed.
The second part, or the turn, becomes our actions we perform to achieve the tricks of life. We take our newly found voice and go to school, interact with peers, listen to their voices, the voices of teachers, perhaps the voice of religion, or media, or books, and create a path that uniquely belongs to each of us.
The third part, or the prestige, becomes the results of these actions, and essentially defines who we are. Whether or not our voice is something to be proud of depends on our actions, and how we use our voice to help others. Just like magic tricks, our actions can be bold and glitzy, or quiet and with little fanfare. But we each have the choice to determine what our voice is, and what our voice could be.
Whether our voice is portrayed through magic tricks, or speech, or music, art or theater or writing, every person’s voice is individual to them. My voice now comes in the form of poetry. I would like to share a poem I have written:

Life is like a radio station tuned out to all others,
But the gentle caring words of our fathers and mothers.
We listen and learn, are influenced and swayed,
Until with enough listeners, our own station is made.

Like a radio station we all influence people with the words and actions in our life. Whether we do it intentionally or not, we change others’ lives. Our voice may lead directly to progression in society. We use our voice to spread ideas and it is with these ideas that we further the lives of ourselves and the lives of others. The ability to use our voice to our full potential is a valuable gift. It is through the proper use of our voice that we release our true magic.

Why is my voice important? My voice and everybody elses, is extremely important. First, America itself was founded on the idea that as humans we are unique and each have something to offer to the world. It ushered in a new era of prosperity and democracy because our founding fathers believed that every person has worth and value.  Their’s  and our prerogative, therefore, is speech. Theirs and our right to put thoughts, ideas, hopes into words ands share, teach, enlighten us all.

Exactly how important is our voice?   The Pilgrims, those brave and hardy souls who voyaged to a new country, left England because they were allowed no voice. They helped start this country, and instilled in it a freedom of speech, of religion, and so many others important to my voice. Voltaire, the French philosopher and author says, “I may not agree with what you say, but I will fight to the death your right to say it.” While he never went that far, others did, and still are willing. The Revolutionary War started not as a quest for independence, but simply for representation, for voice. After becoming the United States of America, everything still wasn’t perfect.

Part of the reason the Civil War was fought was over who should get a voice. My great grandfather believed his and other’s voices were important and enlisted in the 19th regiment of Maine. They fought many great battles, saw death often, and my grandfather, Rufus Glass spent the last year of the war in Andersonville, the famous and terrible confederate prison camp. He truly believed his voice was important, whether through his words, or mostly his actions. Rufus made many sacrifices along with countless others so I could be here today, enjoying freedoms they were willing to die for.
Second, as humans, our communication abilities differentiate us from other animals. While dogs and cats, and birds, and others communicate to some degree, they don’t in the same way. Our communication is our history, our present, and our future. It drives innovation from the typewriter to the iPhone. Most importantly, communication records our voice, essentially ourselves, who we are. None of us live forever, but through art, writing and speech, a part of us can. Our voice can immortalize us far better than any marble bust.

Third, my voice is my identity. It is who I am. I am unable to choose if I go to school, it’s the law, and I couldn’t drive until I turned 15 ½, but no one else can choose my voice. It is me, and no one can take that away. It is important because it’s what makes me different from all of you, the fact that my voice, what’s inside, is unique.

My voice is important because it is my right. Rosa Parks used her voice to sit on the bus. Abraham Lincoln used his voice as a person and a president wanting to do right, and issued the Emancipation Proclamation. What we do with our voice becomes united with what others sacrificed to give to me. I shouldn’t waste it. It’s my responsibility to ensure their voices are shared through mine. Hundreds of generations who have passed on, with all contributing their voice so now I can speak freely and passionately about whatever I want, without fear of prosecution.

My voice is important because it gives me a chance to change the world- to make the world, or at least my community a little better. My voice is important because it is who I am. My life can be taken, my property taken but my voice is free and unable to be shackled. That is why my voice is important.

Today I am going to talk to you about "Why my voice is important." In today's world we are bombarded by many voices that try and tell us what to do. Recently I read a Wall Street Journal article called, "Sit up Straight and Other Advice from Big Mother" by Geoffrey Fowler. Technology is everywhere and new applications are being created almost daily.

For example, there are phone apps that let you know when to go to bed and urge you to go to bed earlier. There is also a fridge that locks itself if you don't exercise en ough or eat too much. You can be told when you're slouching, that you need to brush your teeth longer, or chew your food slower. There are voice alerts for when you're speeding or slam on your brakes or if you're following a car too closely. You can be alerted if you need to lose weight, take more steps, forget to floss or are sitting still too long. We are always being told what to do, when to do it, and for how long and how much by beeps, buzzes, vibrations and alarms.

None of these activities are important enough to be reminded of or alerted about involve "my voice." My voice should be able to tell me that I need to exercise, brush, floss, eat less or have better posture.My voice should control me, not electronic devices. Because people become so dependent on these devices, they lose their voice. The voice that matters.

But these are not the only voices that influence our lives. These are just some of the electronic voices. There are also the voices of our friends and family. These are the voices that matter.

We are like seeds being tended to by a gardener. The one who tends to us most influences us the most. These are our parents. They plant us, water us and take care of us. They  make sure we have enough sunlight. Yet, there are weeds. Weeds that try to strangle us. These are things like television, social media, advertisements, music, video games, and peer pressure. They waste our time, bring us down, and try to control us or take away our voice by telling us what we need to watch, what we need to buy or even who we need to "like" or "follow."

Eventually we grow and blossom, get a voice of our own and can even begin to produce fruit. This fruit we produce influences others in a positive or negative way. The fruit is our voice. I hope to be able to use my voice. I hope it will influence others for the better. I hope to be able to vote, give speeches and express my voice through art or creations. i want my voice to change the world, to influence others in a positive way and make a difference, because my voice is important.

Monday, April 29, 2013

Letter #40

Dear Family,

Thank you for being there for me! I look back on this week and the thought that comes to mind is, "Glad that one is behind me!" I have officially reached 101 days in Agudos and am set to break my record for staying in an area this week. I think that this has brought an emotional sense of fatigue, not that I've stayed in an area longer than what is usual but I'm not as yet accustomed to staying in an area that long. It's like a stretching of capacity feeling, and in a time when some things really seem to go all wrong, it really stretches. Luckily, divinely even, I have a companion that makes it all right. We are really working hard, have the most people I've ever had in the mission to teach and I expect that the fruits are ripening for an upcoming harvest. Plus, what could be better to recharge my batteries than an upcoming hour with my family. I am so thankful for the Lord's timing. I am thankful too for the letters and package, oh so wonderful package from my Aunt Janeen, that got here this week. It too was quite literally a godsend. Thank you.

We had many things planned this week but many if not most fell through, our family home evening, our baptisms, and a few of our marked appointments. The good news is that we have remarked all of the above and are in go mode for this week, with a family home evening tonight (we make pancakes), and lessons marked with members and families throughout the week. We are teaching about 3 families which is unusual and also three brothers who are great. They remind me of home, they all like sports (soccer, ping pong) and are excitedly pouring through the scriptures and praying to know what they are reading is true. We also had a new investigator go to church Sunday with us which is always the best as sometimes it seems like the hardest thing for people to do here.

Sunday was special too as it was stake conference in the entire mission and it was a different experience than conference in the states. We received a live broadcast from Salt Lake, with talks by Bishop and Sister Stevenson, Elder Stanley G. Ellis and Elder Scott. Elder Ellis and Scott spoke directly in Portuguese, and Elder Ellis mentioned that he had passed through Bauru, Marilia, and Prudente as a missionary. I've got two of the three, which is cool. Elder Scott spoke powerfully (if not a little in Spanish) on prayer. He mentioned that on his mission, he liked to wait until his companion was asleep, so that he could pray aloud. I do too, and it's always a good feeling to come to the same conclusion independently as an apostle of the Lord. I look forward and cherish my moment of sacred prayer each night, when I can speak to my Heavenly Father. He would feel sad as well if he didn't get an email from me daily I´m sure.

By the way, for anyone watching the X-games, yup they're in my mission right now. Tune in and get an HD view of where I serve.

Funny/Not funny story of the week:

Last night almost on our way home we stopped by to teach our investigator who had gone to church earlier that day. He was seated outside, so we sat down by him on a raised concrete step. The street is only semi-lit in a truly Brazilian scene of uneven asphalt and mortared houses teetering on each other. It is hodgepodge, which means that things live in the empty spaces left by bad construction and neglect. Things like the giant, hand-sized, venom-dripping leviathan that CRAWLED ON MY BACK LAST NIGHT WITHOUT ME KNOWING IT!!! Not that I'm scared of spiders but, I stood up to tell a fish tale (literally, he likes to fish - the fish are scary here too) and there it was. Talk about the chilly willies. I think that is the worst case I've ever had! I stayed in the streetlights, on my feet from then on, and was uneasy going to sleep, with dreams of Brazilian wandering spiders dancing in my head. Yup. Also, occasionally millipedes, fat and many-legged fall from the ceiling of our house. . .

A very brief thought from yesterday's conference: Elder Scott said, "To ask with faith means to ask with confidence." When we know that our will and lives are in harmony are in accordance with God's will, we can confidently correctly ask and will be given. Second, "The most important principle of prayer is gratitude."

I'm thankful for you, and make sure to include that daily in my prayers. Love to you, and sweet dreams void of spiders,

"This one goes out to the one[s] I love, (R.E.M.)."


With All Our Love

Dear Tanner!

Hello! Now, for the rest of the story! Monday Dad left for a conference in North Carolina, and with him went his lap top. So my only way of checking for your weekly letter was to call my parents. When they checked, just your pictures had come in, ten minutes previously, so they told me to check back later as they were going out the door! Four-o'clock! I waited five hours past normal, and called them again, asking them to read your letter. Only there wasn't one :-( I was so sad. Grampy felt so bad he read your letter to me that arrived in the mail. What a delight for him to share that with me. We had a good cry over the phone together. Sometimes reading a letter from someone you love is different than reading out loud a letter from someone you love. Dad called from NC and wanted to know where your letter was. He checked the trash folder as well as spam, and then read the message from Sis. Tavares informing us that you had indeed sent a letter. Did I forget to mention we emailed her? So sorry. But a mother's got to do what a mother's got to do! Dad figured out how to get into your account, and found it still there, with the system still trying to send it. Your original letter arrived at 11 p.m. Go figure.

Tuesday was induction ceremony for Porter into the Mu Alpha Theta math club of which you belonged. Such a wonderful time of year for parents to puff out their chests a little, and watch their children go through some of the rites of becoming more of an adult. Porter probably could care less about the math club. He just enjoys an excuse to put on his sweater vest and bow tie, and hang out with all the girls. He introduced me to no less than fifteen girls I had never met. This didn't include the usual cross country girls I already know! I'm sure you'll see the pictures in your account from the blog...bring back any memories?

The only thing I can remember about Wednesday was playing a trick on Hunter. Porter forgot his lunch at home, so I drove it to the high school, in Dad's car. And when I saw the big white beast in the parking lot, drove over, let myself in, and moved it, purposely backing it in, and straddling the white parking line. I laughed at myself all the way home! I don't know if Hunter thought it was as funny, but he did get several comments on his supposed parking job.

Thursday was the golfing event that Hunter has been waiting for a long time. Bro. Mazon had the opportunity to purchase his brother's old (really new) set, and wanted to see if he liked them or his old ones better. Hunter got the clubs he didn't want. He was really needing a driver, but also got new irons and a sand wedge. Dad went as well, and finished off the fearsome foursome. Hunter drove in with the lowest score, plus scoring on the clubs. (Dad was fairly tired after this outing, but had to stay up late until Porter came home from his track meet in Chillicothe! Where was I? In the dugout. I should say in the dog house. I pulled up to drop off Sawyer and Cooper at their game, and they hopped out so I could park. Miller and I both saw some blue at the same time, and then realized he had a game as well! We zipped home with a plan...he grabbed his bag in the garage and I grab his uniform and cleats. He changed in the car, got dropped off, ran to the field, dropped his stuff in the dug out, and ran out with his bat as he is always first to hit. Sheesh! But I had to sit at his brothers' game and keep the book, with Breyer, and listen for his name to be announced when he was up to bat. Poor kid. All by himself at his game, and he's the youngest! Feeling a little mother guilt over here!

Friday Miller went and took a little test for kindergarten. Can't believe he's finally going next year! The tester said he did great. Miller's worked really hard learning letters, big and small, and how to recognize rhyming sounds and letter sounds. He was assigned Mrs. Flynn, who's SO excited to have another Schenewark. Although, Mrs. Hutchison fought just as hard to have your little brother in her class. What tilted the scale? The fact that he would know one boy in Mrs. Flynn's class, and Mrs. Wheeler thought knowing one person would be beneficial.

We visited Sis. Parrish, just a few of us, as Cooper and Sawyer had invited the two LaCroix boys over to play. We picked Porter up from a baseball game, and Hunter showed up after golfing. And we had Breyer. She's gotten better about playing with the water dispenser on the fridge. After making a huge puddle, and filling every cup and bowl, now she's down to filling her cups (really full) a couple of times.

Saturday was your typical Saturday for a family with a lot of boys. Porter had a JV baseball game; Miller, Sawyer and Cooper all had games at the same time, and I was back in the dugout with the book! It was a beautiful day, and when all was said and done, we came home and remembered the missionaries would be over in an hour for dinner! Managed to come through with homemade breadsticks, spaghetti sauce and banana chocolate cake! Yum! Just had to throw some food at my very foodie son!

Mowing season has officially begun, and Hunter still has his Barnett job, Parrish lawn, and Duncan river bank. It's just enough to fill up the holes in his schedule so he can appear to be really busy ,-) He spent a lot of time this weekend getting caught up on these jobs, AND working on his Optimist oratorical speech. Cooper and Porter joined him in this endeavor as well, and spent time Friday after school, and Saturday evening putting the finishing touches on their speeches.

So today at church I spoke in sacrament...I'll send it to you in your email sometime this week and you can print it next week. I enjoyed preparing for it. After church we went to the (annual) Optimist oratorical contest...you were missed! How fun it would have been to have you compete with your brothers, this year now with Cooper being of age. After committing to and entering this contest, no one wanted to work on it, and were not motivated to prepare. I hope they remember how much all their hard work paid off. It was a Schenewark sweep. We felt a little bad for the other contestants, but the judges were not aware they were all brothers and belonging to the same family! They just judge it like they see it! Hunter won first, and is going to try and go on in the district competition in May; Porter was second, and Cooper third. I hope you enjoy reading their speeches, but alas, they'll be in your email next week as well to print! Porter is very dramatic and lots of flair, and speaks off the cuff; Hunter had a few awkward and untimely hand gestures that made us all on the back row laugh, and Cooper, who is the only one who practiced by timing himself, got exactly what he said he would: 4 minutes and 15 seconds.

This is the news story of the week. It put a smile on my face! "A Samurai sword-wielding Mormon bishop helped a neighbor woman escape a Tuesday morning attack by a man who had been stalking her. Kent Hendrix woke up Tuesday to his teenage son pounding on his bedroom door and telling him somebody was being mugged in front of their house. The 47-year-old father of six rushed out the door and grabbed the weapon closest to him -- a 29-inch high carbon steel Samurai sword. Hendrix, a bishop in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, said it was the first time in 30 years of practicing martial arts that he's used the sword. He didn't swing it at the man, only showing him he had it.

He came upon what he describes as a melee between a woman and a man. His son stayed inside to call 911 while he approached the man along with other neighbors who came to help. The martial arts instructor didn't hesitate in drawing the sword and yelling at him to get on the ground."His eyes got as big as saucers and he kind of gasped and jumped back," Hendrix said by phone Tuesday afternoon. "As he was coming through the fence, this is where I drew down on him and told him to get down on the ground." He continued, "He was staring down 29 inches of razor."

The man ran down the street with the barefoot Hendrix and others in pursuit. Hendrix said he couldn't catch the man before he fled in his car, but he picked up ChapStick that the man dropped and memorized his license plate. "I yelled at him, `I've got your DNA and I've got your license plate: You are so done,"' Hendrix said. The suspect, 37-year-old Grant Eggersten, turned himself in to police an hour later, said Unified Police Lt. Justin Hoyal. He was booked on charges of robbery, attempted burglary, trespassing and violation of a stalking injunction.

Hendrix, a pharmaceutical statistician, was one of several neighbors who came to the woman's aid after she began yelling for help, Hoyal said. The incident began just after 7 a.m. when the 35-year-old woman came out of her front door, Hoyal said. Eggersten was hiding behind her carport and attacked her, knocking her to the ground, Hoyal said. He took her keys and tried to open the door into her house, Hoyal said. That's when the woman ran down the street calling for help. The woman did the right thing by fighting back and calling for help, Hoyal said. She suffered minor injuries. Hendrix, a bishop in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, said it was the first time in 30 years of practicing martial arts that he's used the sword. He didn't swing it at the man, only showing him he had it. He said he's proud of his 14-year-old son for alerting him and quickly calling 911. He said the family is still abuzz about the events. "That kind of thing doesn't happen every day," Hendrix said. "Our neighborhood is a pretty quiet place." A fourth-degree black belt in the Kishindo form of martial arts, Hendrix owns a collection of swords and weapons that he trains with, said his wife, Suzanne Hendrix. He has trained with the sword he used Tuesday for 20 years and keeps it by his bed. "Some people have bats they go to," said Hendrix. "I have my sword."

An interesting face from one of our missionary moms: "I know that many of you already have heard this, but some of you may not have yet. Did you know that last week, there were more Sisters dropped off at the Provo MTC than there were Elders?!? YES!! "

Another partial email from a missionary mom, who thought this portion of her son's letter was important to share: "This week I went to the Federal Police here in Brazil to renew my paperwork. I had my passport and my old identification, but was unaware and had not been advised that I would need one more special document. Because of this misunderstanding, I arrived at the Federal Police only to find a highly concerned officer at the other side of the table. After a wait of 15 minutes the police officer placed a stamped and sealed document in front of me with several signatures already penned in and stated in an authoritative voice that I had 8 days to leave the country and was obligated to sign as a personal testimony. I knew that something was funny about the situation, but did have several thoughts going through my mind. “This is impossible.” “What if...what if I really was deported from Brazil... how would that be...” With lots of gratitude to my companion who helped me make some phone calls and run some errands he and I were able to resolve the situation and attain the other document that I was needing. The executive secretary said I was in these moments the most important missionary on the mission as he made some calls to São Paulo, advised the Assistants to the President, Sister to the Mission President, and the Mission President. If I had signed the document or tried to leave the Federal Police Station before having called the Mission Staff I would have been warranted deployment and would have been in need of the assistance of one of the great lawyers from the Church to have processed a possibility of my staying in Brazil. However, thanks to patience and logic, I am fine and now have legal proof as well as a personal conviction of good will to stick this race out until the end."

This week was transfers, but I'm staying here in Agudos with Elder Schenewark. We have a lot to do here. Families that are opening their lives to the gospel! So I am very happy to stay and to keep a trusty companion!

There was a new announcement made by the first presidency that missionaries ought to stay in areas longer (6-8 months). So I might be here for a while. This transfer has mothers day in it! I'll get to see you guys in a few weeks! Now that we know we're staying here, we'll make sure we find a good skype spot."

This comment from Sis. Beaudoin made me smile: "Amy Jo, is Tanner going to be a writer? He must type like the wind too because we don't usually get half that in a email! Poor Hunter does his plunking best."

Porter is really wondering whether or not you read his poem? __________

Your brothers miss you! I can't tell you how many times they watch The Best Two Years, thinking of you and wondering about you and your adventures with your companions. Sawyer just came upstairs and threw out: "With all the bike riding and tracting my rear end has become quite beautiful!" He had to explain to me where the line came from!

We love you! We're glad we can hear from you weekly. I freely admit I'm a wimp, and the old fashioned way of writing letters and waiting would have killed me! So glad it's now emails, on a regular schedule! Have a wonderful week

Lots of love,

Mom and Dad

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Friday, April 26, 2013

Mu Alpha Theta

Mu Alpha Theta is a National Mathematics Honor Society encompassing over 65,000 students in more than 1,400 schools, dedicated to inspiring keen interest in mathematics, developing strong scholarship in the subject, and promoting the enjoyment of mathematics in high school.

He's happy he's in.
Surrounded by a bevy of beautiful girls.
Wearing his favorite sweater vest, and being served cake.

Three sets of brothers...same grades...9th and 11th

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

All Male Cake Bake

Sawyer liked the idea of cake in ice cream cones, as his carrots were a fitting tribute to his bunny that past away last month. "A Rabbit's Dream."
Some of the other cub scouts' cakes:

The Princess waited VERY patiently for a piece...any piece!

Much to our surprise, Cooper was awarded a plaque for his Arrow Light Award he earned two years ago.

He finished Webelos in one year, and they were only ready for those who graduated after two years of Webelos.

Sawyer was awarded the Scouts' Choice, picked by the Boy Scout troop that judged all the cakes!

That is JUST what the doctor ordered!

And since there were only four, he HAD to have a piece!