Monday, September 17, 2012

My Only Hope

Last Wednesday I was nominated for a position in SLATSA, my program’s student association.  I don’t know who nominated me or why, but it was a flattering surprise.  The position mostly involved fundraising and writing grant proposal which not only do I have zero experience in, but they don’t seem very fun either.  I emailed the SLATSA president and told him that I didn’t think I was the ideal candidate due to my lack of experience, but he told me to accept the nomination anyway.  So I did, but mostly because I don’t have a job and I need some way to support Thai food eating habit. 

Now that I was nominated I just had to win the election to get the position.  On Thursday I got the same email that everyone in my program received telling us how to vote.  The voting process involved six steps (including making a login name and password) and I wasn’t feeling up to the complicated voting procedure at the time so I put the email in my procrastination file (that means that I starred it for later). 

On Friday mornings I have a three hour long class with all the first years in my program.  We have a break in the middle of class that usually involves cookies.  As soon as the break started I stood up and exclaimed, “I love cookies so much!” as I walked to the cookie table.  While chomping down on my second or third cookie Hope walked up to me and said, “So I guess this is where we both wish each other luck on the election.”  I said, “Oh, you’re running, too?”  (I would have figured that out if I had already voted).  We chatted briefly about the position and it turns out that she didn’t feel super-qualified for it either. 

One of my friends in the class overheard my conversation with Hope and asked me why I was applying for the position.  I said, “I just need a way to earn some money,” to which he replied, “You do realize that it isn’t a paid job?”  No, actually, I hadn’t realized that.  You see, there was a different position on a different student council that was paid and I had gotten the two mixed up and had somehow agreed to do something that I didn’t want to do for free (and I wasn’t really that thrilled to do it for $12 an hour either).  I allowed myself to briefly feel like an idiot.

Newly infused with the power of three cookies and worried that I might have to do extra work for free, I came up with a plan to not win the election.  In all honesty, I probably didn’t need a plan because Hope is a phenomenal student and well liked by everyone and probably would have won anyway, but I came up with a plan nonetheless.  Hope was now my only hope of getting out of doing more work for zero dollars.  Our program isn’t super-big and considering the cumbersome voting process I assumed that few people would vote.  This meant that not winning would be easy.  Instead of giving my full attention to the lecture I took a few minutes to vote for Hope and then emailed Josh and told him to vote for Hope, too, which he did.  I assumed (and hoped) that those two votes would be enough to lose.  Later that night I received the following the email: “CONGRATULATIONS to HOPE for winning the position and thank you all for your support and participation." I was relieved, very relieved.  And plus, Hope will do a great job and it will look great on her resume and I can spend more time watching House Hunters International.  There was Hope for me.  Indeed, there is Hope for us all.   

Thursday, September 13, 2012

O Remember, Remember

One of my greatest regrets is that I didn't keep a better journal while I was on my mission in Mexico.  I did well at the beginning, but I got so busy that I decided I didn't have the time to write and so I stopped (I know, I know, I'm an idiot).  A few years later I was reading through my mission journal and I was surprised (and rather saddened) by how many experiences I had recorded that I had forgotten about entirely.  There were people that I named that I had no recollection of, but who at the time were important enough that I wrote about them.

Since that day I have thought a lot about forgetting.  I've heard people claim to have good memories, but the truth is that they don't know if they have good memories or not because no one can know what they've forgotten.  Around this time I heard a talk by Elder Eyring in which he urged us to write about how we saw the hand of God in our lives each day.  As a result of that talk I committed to write in my journal every day and I've been a faithful record keeper ever since.  I started out thinking that some day my children or grandchildren would be interested in reading about my life, but I've come to see that I'm the one who truly benefits.

Before I moved to Arizona I knew it would be hard at first and it has been hard, but it's been hard in different ways than I had expected.  A few days ago I was hit with some particularly bad news and I was feeling pretty down.  I decided to flip through one of my old journals and I found some entries that I had completely forgotten about that I had written when I was a camp counselor at EFY.  Remembering these experiences completely changed my mood from feeling sorry for myself to being grateful.  Maybe they won't mean anything to you because you didn't live these experiences, but they were poignant reminders to me.  Here are some out of context snippets from those entries:

8 June 2010, Tuesday
One thing that I want to remember is the dance competition from today.  About a dozen people danced in front of the entire session one at a time and we clapped for them.  The person that got the most applause won.  An autistic kid named Brad participated and he was really into his dance, but it wasn’t anything special.  For the first time I can remember I felt the Spirit at a dance because Brad got more cheers and applause than any other person.  The joy and excitement shone on his face.  I’m grateful for the amazing youth that made an autistic boy’s day by cheering and clapping for him and making him the dance competition winner.  

9 June 2010, Wednesday
I forgot to mention two things from the dance last night.  First, during a slow dance I asked a short, timid-looking girl to dance.  I had been dancing a lot that night and I was sweating pretty profusely and during the slow dance a mixture of sweat and sunscreen got into my eye.  My eye, being a very wise eye, started watering like crazy and I had to keep wiping tears off of my face.  It was a little embarrassing. 
When I was working at the water table a group of four girls came up to the table and one of them announced that she hadn’t been asked to dance all night.  I told her that it was probably because she was too pretty and the guys were intimidated by her beauty.  Her friend then gave me a high five.  Later that night I found that girl and asked her to dance.
Some of my EFY kids waiting for
something exciting to happen.

17 June 2010, Thursday
During the variety show today a blind girl named Erin Nightingale played a song she wrote on the piano.  I was blown away by how beautiful it was.  At the end the crowd gave her a standing ovation that she couldn’t see, but that we all felt.  
Tonight was the musical fireside and I was really nervous because I know how uplifting it can be and I was worried that my kids wouldn’t prepare themselves for it.  They did a great job being reverent and really felt the Spirit.  Before the program I was talking with Hayley, the only person from our group in the program, and she was saying that very few people were in the choir.  I told her not to worry, that angels would sing with them.  And they did.  

This next entry was after EFY when I was teaching Spanish at BYU.  I think the reason this entry touched me so much is that it's nice when others tell you that everything will be okay, but it's better to hear it from from yourself (well, a younger version of yourself).

29 June 2010, Tuesday
Squaw Peak -- my favorite hike in Provo
I was feeling a little depressed today with my lot in life so I decided to hike Squaw Peak to clear my head.  The hike up was tough and it was hot, but I was pretty much the only person on the trail so I had a lot of time to think.  The first song I listened to on my iPod was “I Know Heavenly Father Loves Me.”  And I felt very grateful because I really do know that He loves me.  It’s easy to forget how blessed we are and I think I’ve been forgetting too much lately.  It was nice to take some time to think and realize that despite my circumstances everything will be okay.  I know that everything will work out.  

More than sappy things, I try to record the funny things that happen.  Here's something funny (well, I think it's funny) that I wrote that I had completely forgotten about until I read it a few days ago.

14 March 2011, Monday
Today was Pi day so we wrote Pi-kus for FHE.  The first line has 3 syllable, the next has one, and the last has four (3.14).  Here are my two Pi-kus:
My first name, yo!

I don’t bake
Girls bake real good 

It was really great to reminisce and remember.  I really needed to read these entries and I'm glad that I wrote them.  Journals are way rad!

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Labor Day Adventure

It's taller than me
On Labor Day 2011 I embarked on a 720 mile journey to begin were I had started. You can read about it here. This Labor Day I had another unexpected adventure.

Danielle and Amy invited me to go on a Labor Day hike with them to a place called Romero Pools north of Tucson. I brought my roommate Kevin along, but didn’t know the other nine people that went on the hike. Even though we left early in the morning it was incredibly hot. The hike was beautiful and I finally got the cliché picture that every non-Arizonan needs of hugging a cactus.  I've seen a lot of these pictures and typically the person "hugging" the cactus isn't even touching it.  I made sure to give my cactus a real hug.

Amy jumping in the water
There were a lot of people at the pools and we had a blast jumping from 20 foot ledges into the water and swimming around. While we were hanging out in one of the pools I stepped on something that felt unnaturally smooth. I pulled it out of the water and was surprised to see that it was a waterproof camera. The screen said, “Memory card full,” and the only thing on the camera was a 52 minute video. I played the video and it showed a guy yelling, “Anything is possible!” and then jumping 20 feet into the water with camera in hand which he promptly dropped on impact (that’s why it’s import to fasten the strap around your wrist). The camera kept recording and I could see the guy looking for the camera. He got really close a few times, but never found it. I asked a few people if it belonged to them, but no one claimed it. Not too much of a surprise considering it’d been at the bottom of a murky pool for more than an hour. I am now the owner of a Kodak underwater camera that I really have no use for.

You can barely see Donald and Charity in the back.
At this point we had no idea Donald was hurt.

The results of scouting (the stretcher, not the shirtless men)
After hanging out at the pools for about an hour we decided to head out. That’s when we noticed that Donald could barely walk. I have to admit that up to this point I’d never said a word to Donald or his girlfriend Charity. Apparently right we when arrived at the pools Donald accidently slipped down a rock and fell 10 feet. We didn’t know this at the time, but he had broken one ankle and sprained the other. Since we thought he had only twisted his ankle we decided to walk the three miles back to our cars (really didn't have any other choices). With much effort and with the help of the strong guys in the group (myself not included) Donald made it about a quarter of a mile. He couldn’t go any further and we realized we were in real trouble. The Eagle Scouts in the group (once again, myself not included) fashioned a stretcher for him out of the trunks of two century plants and our t-shirts. It was pretty ingenious. However, the narrow trail and extreme heat quickly convinced us that we weren’t going to make it back. We made it about 100 yards then camped out under a tree.

Charity called the park services and they said they were sending someone up who would be there in about an hour. We were expecting someone to come up with a real stretcher so we could carry Donald down the mountain. An hour and forty minutes later a sheriff (I think that’s who he said he was) showed up with a medic. The medic hung an IV bag from the tree were sitting under and gave Donald some morphine. And then he said that a helicopter would be coming soon to pick him up and take him to the hospital. Now, you’ve got to understand that it’s pretty hard to break the spirits of 13 Mormons and even though we were in the midst of a tragedy we had a pretty good time hanging out under that tree (except for Donald, of course, who was in excruciating pain). And when we saw a helicopter show up, circle around us, and then land on hill close to us you’d think it was Christmas morning.  It was pretty cool.

Christmas morning
They loaded Donald up on the chopper and whisked him off to safety.  The helicopter wasn't super-wide and we could see Donald's legs hanging out the door as they flew away.  As soon as Donald was gone Charity bolted off down the hill so she could meet him at the hospital. That left the 11 of us with nothing to whisk us away and we had some problems of our own. We had planned on a three hour hike and had now been gone for nearly seven hours. I thought I had been smart taking two liters of water, but my water and everyone else’s was gone. As we started to trek down the mountain we encountered volunteers with backpacks full of cold water and Gatorade who were there just to help us. I quickly downed a few bottles of water and felt very refreshed, but then more and more volunteers showed up offering us water. I started to politely decline the water only to be told, “Don’t make me carry this back down the mountain!” So I took the water with a grateful smile and just stuffed it in my backpack. I ended up drinking six or seven bottles and had four in my backpack. They brought A LOT of water.

"Let's pretend like we're friends." -Amy Flood
When we got to the trail head we saw a news truck, ambulances, and fire trucks, all for us. It was a bit overwhelming and a little unnecessary, but they just wanted to make sure we were all okay. They took everyone’s vitals and I had low blood pressure (97 over 70), but I felt fine. They told me to drink more water. Mostly, I was just hungry. I had expected to be home at noon at it was now 5pm and all I’d eaten that day was a bowl of cereal and a granola bar. I counted over 50 people including medics, parks service people, and volunteers who had helped us that day. I had not realized that we were such a big deal. There was even a story about us on the news.  Here's a link to the news story.  However, in classic news fashion the story had one glaring error.  The reporter said that Donald jumped into shallow water, but he had fallen not jumped and he didn't even land in water.  The story makes us seem like careless people when in reality we are carefree people.

Also, after four years of blogging I just learned how to add captions to my photos.  Yes, I'm that tech-savy.