Monday, December 16, 2013

With All Our Love

 Dear Tanner,

I hope you had a great week. It will be fun to read about the transfers. My guess is that you'll be leaving, but I you'll be informing us very soon! _____ What is the day of your big mission Christmas party, and do you know what they have planned? I'm just curious, as I wonder if they'll hold your package until then, and I'll probably get on-line here pretty soon and start tracking it. Just for fun.

_____ Some boy from Brazil contacted me on Facebook. The translation program he uses is not very good, but I think he said you told him to contact us? He kept apologizing for his. I wasn't quite sure what to say.

Some items in the news this week? Nelson Mandela passed away last week, at 95. Forgot to mention even though it was pretty much world news all week long. Did you hear about his passing?

Update in the Philippines? There are seven church members still missing, and thirty-eight that died. All out of one stake, the hardest hit. More than 5500 were killed, and 1700 are still missing. But this week is the first week that the units in that area have been able to have church. What a much needed blessing for those with still so little.

Your cousin Naomi's laugh-out-loud letter this week said, "We ate at the Ducoeurs' house quickly. What missionary would pass up free pureed potatoes? Not I. Then everyone ate our rhombus-shaped chocolate chip cookies. We used a cookie cutter because they all ran together like a giant cake. But they tasted good." I don't know why this struck my funny bone, but it did. I was rolling. I've had too many bad cookie dough batches to count, so I could totally relate to having run-together cookies, but I've never thought to use a cookie cutter! Very clever.

My favorite portion of Greg's letter said, "When we first met an older fellow he told us that we couldn't come into his house because his brother told him that all Mormons were spies from the United States. After we explained who we really were he was a little more willing to talk to us." Too funny. Wouldn't adding "spying" to your duties make your mission even more exciting?

Cooper wanted you to see how he fixed a G.I. Joe's hand by making a tinfoil hook!

Breyer wanted to show you how she can put clips in her hair - all by herself!

Monday morning we drove the van to the transmission company I picked. We drove the van over, very slowly, to the transmission service center I chose. I like to practice my investigative skills on the phone. I find five or six that have desirable locations, and start calling. Little by little I learn a thing or two, such as engine size determines price, and some replace the transmission cooler, and some flush it out. So I call back and impress them with my new questions and queries, and eventually select the best for the best price. I almost choked when the Ford dealer said it would cost $4,000. Most were $2,800. One was $1,800. That's after I ransom my son in Brazil to the rebels looking for a translator. Ouch. And during the holidays. I added the $1800 service center to my list I'm keeping of blessings for your mission service. It's #6.

Tuesday for cub scouts we played chess. We needed to do so for three different requirements, so I rounded up six boards at our house, and one scout had a set. Half of the boys knew how to play and half different, so we'd rotate the newbies every ten minutes, and begin new games. Everyone teaches differently, so hopefully by the end of the night those scouts who didn't know how to play were a little better off.

Larry came to the door one night, and smoke poured out of the house, the fire alarm was going off, and I was coughing. I'm sure he thinks, "I need a good laugh. Let's go see what's up next door." I don't even remember why he came over, just that he was laughing when I closed the front door, and I was still coughing!

He actually had come over to see if we needed to borrow one of his cars, which we did. Dad's car broke down on Tuesday, and we were without a car. He lost his water pump, which includes the belt, and the heat coil, which is behind the dash board. Those VWs are built so odd! The first estimate came in way too high, so we're going to be talking to the VW repair shop to see if they'll fix it for less. When I picked your father up from dropping off the VW, we played rock-paper-scissors to see who got to drive the truck. It is awesome! I drove it over to the school to get the boys, and I could see all the men casting admiring glances at my wheels. Your Dad said it was because I was driving they were taking a second peek, but it wasn't. It's just a well taken care of truck, that's big, and brand new.

The Scholastic book fair rolled into town Thursday, so I wasn't home for three days. Kathy came and ate dinner Wednesday with us, and played my favorite game (Rummikub). She reads our blog everyday, and is following your adventures down in Brazil. I worked 23 hours, visits from your brothers, and came home with a couple of boxes of books. I don't even care about the books that much, it's just nice to do a different kind of work, and hang out with Kathy. Everyday I wash, clean, cook, pick-up, sort, scrub, wipe, dress, bathe...and twice a year I get to unpack books, pack books, place books, and sell books. Every night I am tired, but those three nights I'm exhausted. It's a very physical job but so much fun.

We got the van out Thursday evening, yeah! We've also been borrowing the bishop's extra car, as it's a little easier on gas than Larry's (and less intimidating!).

Saturday after I was done at the fair, and had filled the van up with gas and bought food, I came home just in time for Dad to leave with the three older boys to go to an ice skating activity for the youth in South Charleston. Thirty minutes later, Sawyer is at the front window saying, "Uh, Mom, there's a man that's parking his car on our driveway. Mom, I think you ought to come here. Mom, come to the window. Mom, the man looks like Grampy! That's right. Your grandparents pulled a fast one on us and surprised us with a visit. I couldn't stop screaming. My neighbors locked their doors and drew their curtains. But I was SO excited! To say I was crying would be true. To say that it wasn't a dream is even better. It will be one of those defining moments in my life that redefine the knowledge of their love for me - Love me enough to leave the comforts of their own home, make complicated arrangements for airplane service for Grampy, a rental car, dog sitting, etc. It is the BEST Christmas present ever!

Then, when your father and brothers came home at ten o'clock, they wanted to know whose car was in the driveway (red Lincoln with WV plates). I said I didn't know. Dad said, "What do you mean? How do you not know?" So I fibbed and said, "Perhaps our neighbor across the street had a party, and they borrowed our driveway." So Hunter says, "Maybe we better get the shot gun." Too funny! He finally walks into his room, and finds his grandparents in his bed, all ready for sleep. So there were plenty of laughs that night.

Your grandmother being in town meant she got to go to Cooper's band concert today, what a treat! And he's grown a little, as you can see in this picture! He did a great job playing his clarinet. He has been going to the band room to practice everyday during lunch, for an up and coming solo competition in January. I was very impressed, as this has happened all on his own.

After church today, in preparation of tomorrow's big quiz bowl meets I'll write about next week, we played a little church trivia. Since Breyer insisted being on the "princess" team, it was the princess team versus the frogs.



They came to church Sunday morning, and the two speakers ended sacrament meeting fifteen minutes short. So the Bishop leans over to your father and tells him, since he's conducting, to ask your grandparents to bear their testimonies. Dad tried to get out of it, and had actually jotted down a few notes knowing there's going to be time, but the bishop was insistent, so he pled with your grandparents from the pulpit. So their message will be your message.

Your grandmother talked about how we can all know that our father in heaven loves each of us, and knows each of us by name. She shared how when she was on her temple mission, and would visit the stake conferences for the stakes that served the temple, they would be asked to speak. If they were invited they would try to find out the theme, so they could prepare accordingly. One time they couldn't find out what the theme of the conference was going to be, even after calling several people. But she prayed all week that she might be able to prepare her remarks according to His will. Her prayers were not answered Monday through Friday, and she was getting a little uncomfortable. Saturday during the day, while she was waiting for Grampy to come out of a leadership training session, her prayer was answered and she knew she needed to talk on the joy of the plan of salvation. During the Saturday night session the stake president stood, and said, "Brothers and sisters, the theme of this conference is the joy that comes from the plan of salvation." Your grandmother bore a sweet testimony of how she knew at that moment that our Father in Heaven knew who she was, and had answered her prayers in His own time.

Grampy talked about driving to a different stake conference in Vermont, up in the mountains on a twisty, narrow road, and stopped the car in the middle of the road to look. On his left were cows standing, with their heads hanging down, in a field brown and barren. On the right side of the road were cows laying down in a meadow with grass as high as his knee. He said the scene immediately brought to his remembrance the scripture in Psalms 23 that says, "He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters. He restoreth my soul." Grampy said the Savior always provides green pastures for us in our lives, and we need to look for them. He'll always be there to take care of us, to "restore our soul." Coming from a man who has had cancer for thirteen years, and is in uncomfortable circumstances today. I'm sure this moment, when he stopped his car and took time to reflect on a scripture, has helped him in his time of need now.

I hope you know of their love for you, and can feel it exuding through these meager words. I feel like I'm leaving a trail of breadcrumbs for you to follow while we've had the feast. We all love you, and will be excited to read your letter. Make it a good one!


Mom and Dad

Grampy and Grammy


MarieC said...

HOW FUN that your parents surprised you! Best Christmas gift I can think of. Lots of great stories in this letter--I want to come surprise you at your house someday. Even if smoke is pouring out of the front door when I do. :-)

Wholly Duncan said...

That had to be the BEST present ever! So happy for you guys! PS I missed being with you and Kathy...jealous!

shirlgirl said...

Wonderful letter and love how they surprised you. I love the picture of our Mom laughing. I can just hear her, too.