Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Trying to put it all together

In the mornings I like to spend a little time on the computer.
Since we don't have TV, I depend on the internet to keep up with life outside my walls.
I also check email and do a little blog hopping to keep up with family and friends and add a little inspiration to my day. My favorite blogs are on my sidebar.
Today Melissa from inspired room posted a link about having courage to be yourself. I found it quite timely and a good reminder for me as I work on restructuring my days.
As usual I have a lot more things I want to do than I have time. I also want to be attentive to details (like keeping my house clean and cooking eatable dinners) as I put together a skeleton of a schedule so that I will really have the ability to follow through with my plans but still maintain flexibility.
(As opposed to the unrealistic rigid ones I've made in the past)
Hopefully I will be able to accomplish more if I don't have to be spending a lot of time catching up on things I've let slide for too long.

Any words of advice for me?

Monday, August 24, 2009


Dear Family,

How is everyone? It was so good to hear from so many this week! I'm glad to hear that your all content and happy!

Well, sadly a lot of the people that were on that list didn't go to church and aren't progressing like we were hoping but we still had a great. This week I went on division with Elder Laney and we had a lot of success the two days we worked together. He is a really good missionary. I don't know if you all remember but we live in the same house. But, now Elder Monteiro and I work separated from Elder Laney and Bruno. He is very funny and reminds me of Sean. He is kind of a nerd but really funny at the same time. Any way, we had a good division and I felt a lot more excited to work.

Last week I also had my interview with president and he helped me to have a better perspective on the time that I have left in my mission and that I am in control of what happens and told me to dream. Here in Salgado Filho we are really meeting a lot of new investigators that have a lot of interest but I don't think I will stay here long enough to see them get baptized. I'm excited to be transferred and I am grateful for the time that I have had to learn so much here and work with such good members and leaders. I hope that I will be able to apply this in my next area! Pray for me. I will know where I will be going and who will be my comp. next week!

Yesterday Raissa was baptized! She was the first in her family and soon her parents will get married and will follow her example. She was very excited and there is a young couple in the ward that has really been visiting them a lot and the dad, Ricardo baptized her.

I have been thinking a lot about what members will be the most faithfuls and which will edify the church the most. It is clear the a young family can learn and grow and certainly help the church to grow. But the children also have such a great potential to learn through seminary, institute, go on a mission and really turn leaders. We are preparing Raissa to be a strong example and to stay firm in the church! Pray for her too!

Thanks for all of your love and support and especially for writing me! It means so much to me.

We just got back from a hike of the biggest mountain in Santa Maria which we call the antenna.

I will send some photos!


Elder Z

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Just for a moment

(image from the internet)

This morning the house is very quiet.

It's here.

The time I've been watching and wondering about is here. Months of worry and anticipation and now the moment has come.

I returned from aerobics today to find the house still and quiet.

Mark is at work.
Jennifer began her first day of High School.
Christian is actually hiking Mount Timpanogos and will begin the first day of his senior year tomorrow.

But today I sit in the stillness of my home.
Spread before me is time and opportunity.

While I thought a lot about this moment it has managed to come upon me slightly unaware after a tornado of activity in the last two weeks of summer.

Yet summer still remains. It's still warm outside. The sun shines brightly and beckons me out to pick ripe blackberries and tomatoes and sit in the shade and read as I listen to the sound of the stream and birds busily finding worms and taking baths.

I have rooms to clean and laundry to wash. Organizing to be done. Weeds that need uprooting. Planning to do.

But for a moment I am frozen in time. Trying to understand and take it all in.

Soon after we moved here I put together a spread sheet charting the children's movement over the next 10 or so years. I charted them through elementary, middle, high school and college. I included missions and possible marriage dates. It was incomplete for the older ones because I realized that as they became independent it would be up to them to fill in the blanks, to see where their choices and lives would take them. At that moment 9 or 10 years seemed so far away -yet here we are. Mark and I home with two kids in High School. I remember when we moved here - looking around at families in the ward with High School kids and older ones that I never met and thinking that they had entire lives that I knew nothing about. They seemed old to me. But yet, here I sit... just where they were 10 years ago. I don't feel old. In fact in many ways I feel younger than ever. I thought about doing another spread sheet but it would be pointless. Too many blanks I would try to fill in and that's not really my job anymore. Next year at this time I will only have one child at home - a spreadsheet seems like overkill.

So here I sit in the quiet stillness of my home.
Spread before me is time and opportunity.

I wonder where the next spreadsheetless 10 years will take me.
Some things will fill in on their own but there are still blanks left for me to fill in.
Choices and options that will shape the next 10 years.

I'm glad I don't have to know it all right now
and I'm glad to have the guidance of the holy ghost
and love of my Father in Heaven to help me in my choices.

And for this moment...

I think I'll go shower.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Home again, home again, jigity jig

(this is not a current picture - the colors have not changed and I have no fall decor up yet)

I arrived home Monday just after two pm.
My trip to Illinois was good.

We left last Wednesday morning, early, about the same time Christian left to take Amy to the airport. Olivia was an angel for two long days in the car. No one fell asleep while driving. Getting out of the car in Omaha I was reminded that I live in a very dry climate.

We arrived on Thursday in time to get the key to the apartment and were greeted by a crew to unload the moving van. Beds and the crib were put together and clothed in clean welcoming sheets.

The empty truck was returned Friday morning and by Friday evening most of the boxes were emptied also and hauled away or broken down and put outside to be stored.

By Saturday evening the fridge was full, closets and bookshelves organized and all that remained were the pictures. Aaron and Celisa went out to celebrate their 2nd anniversary while I got some alone time with Olivia. When they returned we stayed up till midnight hanging pictures and figuring out where to put the last of everything.

Sunday was relaxing. Church, games, a walk in the rain, fireflies and Livi laughed for the first time. The ward has lots of PhD students with their families adding dimension to a variety of people in different life stages. It's comforting for me to meet those who will be loving and caring for my family.

I left early Monday morning - once again struggling with my emotions but once again feeling comforted - knowing they are where they are supposed to be and all will be well. When the plane landed I got a text from Celisa. Olivia rolled over for the first time. Life moves forward and I feel peace and joy in my life.

It feels good to be home.

Monday, August 17, 2009

This week

Dear Family,

This week has been good. I have been feeling really worn out and been having a few problems with diligence and planing but the work is moving along.

Yesterday the north wind was blowing really hard and it warmed up the temperature and woke up these members from there hibernation. So we had 170 people at church. 13 of which where investigators.

My district is working towards our goal to baptize 24 this month and it is looking all to possible! Elder Monteiro and I are working with 10 people that will be able to be baptized before the end of the month if they are prepared. For that reason we will need your prayers! These people are, Rita, Marlene, Fernando, Marta, Cristiele, Suellen, Felipe, Larissa, Raissa and Salete!

These people are very special and are getting to know the members, exercising their faith and progressing and could really use your support.

My comp is doing well. He is a good worker and is very smart. He's a little on the quiet side but I'm LOUD enough for the two of us. But it looks like Elder Branco really is going to go home. He will be coming out here tomorrow and then catching a plane home. He is planning on coming back out to the mission but I think it would be hard. He will really need our prayers!

Well I have really been feeling the love of the members here. Here in Brasil all of the materials that you can buy from the church you have to make an order to São Paulo or you can buy them at the bookstore in the temple. I asked for a few books and some garments too and they bought them for me and didn't accept my money. The members here are really good to us! They are also always visiting with us and giving us referrals! It will be tough to pass in a better area than this! It also will be hard to leave!

Well I sure love you guys! Thanks for all of your prayers on my behalf and also for everyone here that you all have prayed for!

Love, Elder Rob

Wednesday, August 12, 2009


For those of you who are not Harry Potter fans,
Splinching takes place when one travels by appirition but appirates incompletely leaving part of oneself behind - painful and not pretty (as Ron learned in Book 7 when he accidentally left his ear or was it a piece of his arm behind?).

I am beginning to know what if feels like to be splinched.
In June I traveled to Sacramento and left part of me there.
Now I will travel to Champaign Illinois and leave another part of me there.
Leaving a missionary at the MTC is a kind of splinching
but you know they will return and be close by a little longer...
so it's not quite the same as what I'm feeling now.

(this is not to be confused with creating a Hoarcrux -
which I am definitely NOT doing)

I also feel splinched when I leave family still at home to help a child move. Glad I can be helping but missing my family at home.

(It seems I'm kind of a mess doesn't it?)

Our family moves into a new and different state as our children begin to reside more permanantly in different states.

It feels odd.

I often feel incomplete without my children close by.
I suppose I will get used to it...
but then again I'm not sure It's something I want to get used to.

I need a plan.
Something I can count on.
Someway to count the days until we'll be in the same room again.
Able to play games together, to share a meal together, to crawl on the floor with our grandbabies again, and gather our own children and their spouses in our arms, even if it's only for a few short days.

Until then I remain splinched.
Unless someone knows how to fix it...

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Party ON Some more

We have the joy of having Amy with us on her Birthday this year..

Amy is an amazing young lady. She is a loving sister and daughter.
She is an awesome mother and devoted wife.
She is one of my best friends.
She has a tender heart and strong testimony of the gospel.
She inspires me to do and to be better.
Happy Birthday Amy!
We love you!

Monday, August 10, 2009

Party ON!

In order for me to leave girls camp early there must have been a really good reason.
And there was.

Mark's 50th birthday.
Born 7 August 1959
Hard to believe isn't it. He doesn't seem a day over....
well, he isn't your typical 50 year old that's for sure.
Not many 30 year olds are in such great shape
He's still as sweet and handsome as ever.

He still knows how to dress for the occasion.

He has a great love for nature, God and his fellow man.
And he still makes me laugh.
He is my best friend.
His mom flew in from Tucson and then
we surprised him by flying Amy and Ruby in too.
I'm not able to surprise him very often but we pulled it off.
Happy Birthday Mark!

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Catch up and looking forward

First item - Girls camp

I love girls camp.
Our stake goes to a dedicated camp for the young women of the Provo and Orem Stakes called Mia Shalom. It's near Scofield. Simple A frame cabins. No electricity. Running water and flushing toilets - even showers if you don't mind ice cold water. Most of us pass.
It's about 8000 feet high in the pines and aspens.
The weather was cool and beautiful.
Our stake fully embraces the experience.
Each ward is assigned a value and its coordinating color.
This year we were blue - divine nature.
We go shopping at the local thrift store to find all kinds of outrageous blue clothing to wear during our 5 days at camp. Lack of electricity and showers plus crazy clothes serves as a great equalizer.
We did confidence courses.
(It's Jenn in the overalls)

Leaders included

A game of Quiddich on the lake.
(we traded brooms for canoes)
I was completely soaked but it was sooo worth it!

We had morning and evening gatherings as a stake.

As well as Race for Life where the girls get to practice their first aid skills on young women involved in a jeep accident, lightening strike, bear attack, bee stings, hypothermia, choking and severe burns, snake bites, rock slide and heatstroke.
No first aid experience would be complete with out the appropriate make up. If you're not squeemish look closeup at the picture - yes that's a compound fracture.

Each ward gets points based in their profiency treating the patient and we won!
Check out the pinata prize.

We also had skits, tie died shirts, cooked lots of yummy food - two meals during thunder storms.
We used our trailer to get all our gear up to camp and when we went to back it up to unload it the wheel was making a terrible scraping noise. Turns out the bearing went out.
Richard Ohran (a friend from Provo), Mark and Christian came up and fixed it.

I left early - before singing in the trees, stake president devotional, solo time and testimony meeting because of a very special event in our home...
which I'll tell you about tomorrow.

But just a few miles after I turned on to the paved road this is what I saw...
about 10 feet off the road just walking around. It wasn't injured but stayed long enough for me to turn around and take a couple of pictures. Then it flew away.
I love girls camp.