Friday, June 19, 2015

It saddens me

Last week my 10 year old son was enjoying a day of water fun with a friend at the delightful Provo City Rec Center (I hope Springville voters approve a similar facility for our town in this fall's election). As the two of them sat down to get ready to descend one of the long slides in tandem (something many kids like to do) a boy about their age and standing behind them in line made this comment: "That is so f---n gay." What? Since when is it "gay" for two boys to go down a slide together. For the rest of the day Will and this friend no longer descended the slide together. I bet they never will again. All because of some hateful, ignorant statement by another boy.

Where did the boy learn to profane anything he thought was "gay." My guess is he learned much of it at home or from friends who learned it at home. From parents and siblings (and the media) who think it is funny and cool to poke fun at or put down people they think are gay or people who have a different gender, skin color, religion or nationality. 

The problem with this crazy world is that there are too many parents and then siblings, friends, associates, colleagues or leaders who spill forth hated in the form of first jokes and snide remarks, then profanity and graffiti and finally arson and guns. It saddens me.

This week, it saddens me that Israeli young men from a West Bank settlement would spray paint anti-Christian comments and then set fire to the lovely Catholic Church at Tabgha commemorating the miracle of the multiplication of the loaves and fishes. Many other mosques and churches in the Holy Land have similarity been tagged with anti-Muslim or anti-Christian graffiti or set afire by Israeli settlers.

Church of the Multiplication behind the trees along the shore (left) and the Mount of the Beatitudes (trees center right) from the Sea of Galilee.

The actual church with its beautiful Byzantine mosaic was spared. Most of the damage was to the gift shop (on the right) facing the entry courtyard

It saddens and maddens me that a white American young man goes into a AME Church masquerading as being interested in studying the Bible and then takes out a gun and kills nine black Americans.

A photo I took a few years back of the South Carolina State House in Columbia flying three flags: country, state and confederate battle flag. The confederate flag, which to many is seen as a symbol of slavery and racism, has since been removed to a confederate monument on the state house grounds. That people still fly this flag as a symbol of racial supremacy speaks as to why there are killings like the one in Charleston.

It saddens me that acts like this are dismissed as being perpetrated by the periphery or fringe while similar acts by other individuals from other groups are used to castigated entire religions or nationalities.

It saddens me that some gun advocates are now saying the solution to such atrocities is for all people in churches to carry guns. Has it come to this; to feel safe in America we all have to carry a  weapon to worship?

Pat Bagley, The Salt Lake Tribune.

It saddens me that somehow we are not teaching our children to love, to accept, to do good, to seek justice, and to stand up for what is right.

It saddens me that on a slide in Provo, a Church on the shore of the Sea of Galilee and a church in the heart of Charleston there is hate. And it saddens me that our reactions to such events are filled with excuses, stupidity, and inaction.

You've Got to be Carefully Taught and Children Will Listen sung by Mandy Patinkin

Cape Town, South Africa

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Not Your Typical Trek Talk, by Sarah

Today in the Spring Creek 18th Ward Sacrament meeting Sarah gave a talk about her experiences last week on the Stake Youth Conference one-day pioneer trek at This is the Place Heritage Park in Salt Lake City. It was not your typical trek sermon. I thought she did a great job.

 photos courtesy of Jared Harlow

Hi, my name is Sarah Emmett. I’m going to be senior in high school next year. I’m also the assistant ward choir director, although I haven’t been here the past few months. I’m actually pretty excited to be giving this talk since the last time I spoke was back in my beehive days. The topic that I was assigned is “Overcoming trials through faith.” I’m also supposed to talk about our miniature trek that we did last weekend.
Trek in and of itself is a lesson in trials. The hills are full of conveniently placed rocks and logs. Members of our family are often proclaimed “Ill” and forced to ride in our already heavy carts for long periods of time. Our sack lunches have peanut butter, but no jelly. Yeah. Trek is hard. But I think the hardest part for me, and almost everyone else who went, worse than a lack of jelly, was the women’s pull. Do I need to explain or is the name clue enough? Good. There were lots of different reasons why the women’s pull was hard. We girls are a little more honest with each other than the boys when faced with physical challenges—and sometimes that honesty sounds a little like something dying. Even if we’re completely capable, this dying sound is always a little alarming to the brethren, who have a difficult time not helping us make it up the hill. Physical challenges, self-doubt and feeling-useless—all trials on the women’s pull, but my trial was a little different. From the moment I heard about the women’s pull I was a little uncomfortable with the premise of the activity. Do we women really feel so weak that we need a whole hill to prove our strength to ourselves? Do the men really feel such pain as they watch us make our way to the top? Isn’t the whole point of the gospel harmony and cooperation? Why do we need to be separate? These are just a few of the skeptical things I was thinking as we prepared for the women’s pull, but then the sister who was leading us gave us a talking to that diverted my questions for a while.
She talked to us about grit and the hundreds of gritty women who made their way to Zion without a man to accompany them. Grit is defined as: “courage and resolve; strength of character.” In the 1850s, and sort of still today, women weren’t supposed to have strength of character. They were supposed to be passive and helpful. The amazing thing is not that they made a thousand mile journey without men, but that they did it in a world where everyone but God told them that they were weak and incapable.  I began to remember some of our Emmett family story and it all sort of fell into place. Now indulge me while I tell some great pioneer stories.
My great-great-great grandmother Margaret McFall Caldwell ran a boarding house in Glasgow Scotland. She was widowed very early on and was left with the care of three sons and two daughters, Agnes and Elizabeth. When some missionaries stayed in her home she gained a testimony, was baptized along with her family and decided to journey to Utah with the Willie handcart company (dun dun dun!). Margaret’s oldest son joined the army on a dare and couldn’t get out before the ship sailed, so another Latter-day Saint woman joined the family. Once on the plains, another son broke his shoulder while trying to catch a wild cow. Margaret’s second son drove the supply wagon, so the job of pulling the handcart was left to Margaret, her nine and eleven year old daughters and Christina, the other women joining them on the journey. And they did it. Margaret’s daughter Agnes remarked “I have often marveled at the wonderful integrity of character of my mother’s planning and successfully completing such a journey where more able-bodied and stronger—yes, even men—failed miserably.” I guess I was so confused by the women’s pull because all of my family heroes happen to be women. In my mind there was nothing to prove. So here’s what I learned about overcoming trials through faith from my women’s pull and Margaret’s.
First, we need faith in God. If Margaret didn’t have a testimony of her Father in Heaven she would never have uprooted her family to settle a desert on the other side of the world. If I didn’t have a testimony of my Father in Heaven’s wisdom and understanding I definitely wouldn’t have gone on trek just to be pitied and observed by fifty teenage boys as I struggle up a mountain.
Second, we need faith in ourselves. There are lots of superficial ways to get faith in ourselves. We can have a boyfriend. We can wear more mascara. We can work out more-- but those don’t cut it when things get really tough. What we need to have is faith in ourselves which comes inherently from our faith in God. We are His children. We can do anything through him. No matter what. And when we fail to dig in and keep going we have the Atonement of His son Jesus Christ to make up for whatever we lack in grit.
I would like to close with the scripture Helaman 5:12, one of the few scripture masteries I actually manage to remember—for a reason.
"And now my sons, remember, remember that it is upon the rock of our Redeemer, who is Christ, the Son of God, that ye must build your foundation; that when the devil shall send forth his mighty winds, yea, his shafts in the whirlwind, yea, when all his hail and his mighty storm shall beat upon you, it shall have no power over you to drag you down to the gulf of misery and endless wo, because of the rock upon which ye are built, which is a sure foundation a foundation whereon if men build they cannot fall."
I know this to be true. I know that whatever trial we need to overcome can be overcome through the power, love, and foresight of our loving Heavenly Father.

Friday, June 12, 2015

One Month

 Good-bye England

 Hello Iceland, wish we weren't just passing through.

We have been back home from Semester at Sea for one month. My camera is almost vacant of any photo documentation of what has been going on. Here is a list and a few photos of what we have been up to.

Within days of being home, both Joel and Will had Utah Storm soccer tryouts. Will was happily welcomed back on to his team and Joel was able to move up to the A team, which made him happy.

Will's soccer team and excellent coach Jim Henderson (right) on a post practice hike up to the top of the Y.

Will went back to fourth grade so he could hang out with friends. On the second to the last day he showed his class photos from every country we visited on SAS. As I was reviewing the photos with him, I thought I should make sure he knew something about each photo we chose. When the photo of Shwedagon Pagoda (he easily remembered that name when we were selecting photos) in Yangon popped up I asked if he knew what religion it was for. He quickly replied Buddhist in the tone of voice that said--"gee dad what do think I am stupid?"

Sarah and Joel went back to a few of their classes--drama and seminary for Sarah and band and math for Joel. Neither were re-enrolled so there was no pressure to do anything (not that much of any learning takes place the last two weeks of school). Joel was happy to be able to ride Frontrunner to Lagoon Amusement park with 10 of his friends for the 8th grade outing. He figured after navigating public transit in so many other countries that he could easily tackle it in the USA.

Lots of books have been read. Will finished the fourth Harry Potter. On occasion Sarah would read sections at bedtime, but for the most part Will did it all by himself. Next day he treated himself to watching the fourth Harry Potter movie. His plan is to not watch the movies until he has read the books.

We went with Grandma and Grandpa Tueller and cousin Isaac to the Payson LDS Temple open house. Very beautiful inside and out. Lunch afterwards at Cracker Barrel (we knew the grandparents would like it).

See interior photos here:

Will started up again with piano lessons. Joel started trombone lessons to get his embouchure and tonguing back in shape for band this fall. Sarah started cello lessons so after a year hiatus she will get back up to level to play in orchestra her senior year. Joel took two weeks of tennis lessons. Marie signed Will up for swimming lessons. Will went to Webelo Day camp. Joel and Sarah spent two days at This is the Place Monument for stake youth conference that included a mini pioneer handcart trek up and down a mountain.

Marie prepared our taxes and put the house back together. She also jumped right back in to being chief cook and laundress. We are all delighted to be eating some of our favorite meals again. Tonight it was crepes with strawberries, raspberries, whipped cream, yoghurt, chokecherry jam, lemon and powdered sugar for the filling options. It was the second day of Joel's braces so he opted for a strawberry yoghurt smoothie instead. On the evening before Joel got his braces we had a family photo shoot up Hobble Creek Canyon. It was about time, our last one was in 2009.

We all helped gather stuff from our home, set up, organize, and take down the massive two day yard sale sponsored  by the youth in the ward to help pay for their summer camps.

We welcomed Marie sister's dog Jaya into our home for two weeks--with Marie being the chief walker and taker-carer-of.

Joel started a new Instagram site with his friend Isaac. It's pretty clever. @darkhorse_42

Marie and Sarah and then just Sarah made some delicious rhubarb crisps with rhubarb (bottom of photo) from our garden. So delicious.

I planted the vegetable garden which took some time given the unusual two weeks of rain we had when we returned. The soil finally dried out enough for me to turn it over with my digging fork and to then plant. Most all of the seeds have now sprouted. I also made one initial weeding of all of the flower beds. Morning glory (aka bindweed) is still my nemesis.

Meadow of drought tolerant buffalo grass before first mowing.

After mowing and after most of the sprayed morning glory that had infested the lawn had happily died.

Lacewing eggs on an aspen leaf. It's a good thing, The lacewing larvae are voracious eaters of aphids which are all over the young aspen tree.

Three days after returning I drove up to Logan to meet with my five siblings to divide up the homestead. It was a happy, full of good memories day and a sad, this is the end of creating memories in such a wonderful home day. Before dividing, everyone got to retrieve any thing they had gifted to our parents (I came home with lots of Hebron blue vases, Bethlehem olive wood, and Indonesian batik table cloths) and we sorted some things like Christmas ornaments, china and pottery plate sets, books, into six equal (sort of) piles to be randomly divided. Per our parents' wish, we then drew lots and took turns choosing items. We went 1 to 6 then backward 6 to 1. My first choice at number 4 was the player piano (don't know where we will put it) my second choice was an antique wooden chair that was in Brigham Young's box at Social Hall. After thirty rounds we ran out of energy and items. Happily it was a very pleasant evening full of laughing and memories and people saying "good choice" or "oh that would have been my next pick". Nobody got everything they wanted, but everyone got nice things they did want for themselves and for their children and grandchildren.

Two weeks later on the Saturday before Memorial Day we had a large family gathering. I cooked Emmett curry and rice for everyone. With feedback from spouses and children we then had a second go around of drawing. It was more hectic this time around but once again it was a happy time as everyone seemed to find something that they would like as a keepsake. Will found a bust of Abraham Lincoln, a balalaika from my parents trip to Russia and a pen set given to his grandpa in thanks for his service as bishop, Sarah some old dresses, hats and necklaces (from her great grandmas), Joel a wooden Pool Parlour sign that hung in the pool room and included the notice no minors, no swearing, no gambling. We brought some of the stuff back in our luggage carrier and then I drove to Logan for a third time a week later. This time some of us worked on cleaning out more stuff. I filled up our van with more things to bring back. It has taken some time to get everything stored or displayed in our home.

Mom loved cobalt blue so I often gifted her Hebron blue vases. Many of them and other items from her collection now grace our window sills.

New entry way decor. As two of my choices I selected the wooden shoes that my grandpa Fife bought in France during WWI--he then had his army mates sign the bottoms of the shoes--many of the dozens of names are still visible. Mom always paired the shoes with the Royal Copenhagen goose girl wearing wooden shoes. The commemorative bronze statue of a girl snow-plowing was a joint Christmas gift to our parents from all six kids during the Salt Lake Olympic year. It was carved and cast by the father (Dennis Smith) of Marie's niece's husband. The George Lama olive wood carving of a shepherd carrying a lamb, was purchased by my parents when they came to visit me in Nazareth. Since I took them to this renowned wood carver, I was able to claim this carving before the dividing of items.

I started back to writing my book on the history of the LDS Church in Indonesia. Currently I plan to title it: Mormons in Indonesia.

Today we all went up to the Huntsman Cancer Institute in Salt Lake City for a new round of genetic testing. Last December I was tested for the familial melanoma gene mutation (negative) and Sarah for the SDHB genetic mutation that leads to paraganglioma (positive). We found out Sarah's results by e-mail in the middle of the Pacific. Today we all had blood drawn so we also can be tested for the SDHB gene. Sarah's blood draw was in preparation for an upcoming MRI and to see how she is doing two years after her surgery. It is more likely than not that Marie is the carrier (since her brother has had paraganglioma). If she or the boys turn up positive then they too will be scheduled for MRIs this summer to see if if there are any paraganglioma tumors growing. We are lucky to have Huntsman Cancer Institute so close and to be a part of their growing family genetic studies.