Thursday, December 29, 2005

Alexa at Boston Temple - 11/2005

Ezra's Baptism - 11/17/05

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

...and in costume at her job as a dancer in a 1940's-style show at a dinner-theater...

...and showing off a tarantula at her job as biologist at the science center...

Levi's girlfriend Selena doing her radio show...


L - R Galen, Mal, and Janice--saying good-bye!

Mal in front of the lobster trap "tree" at the Trenton Bridge Lobster Pound.

Saturday, November 26, 2005


Here I am in the homeland once again. My flights from Saipan were smooth and on time--the length was my only complaint and there's nothing anyone can do about that.
It's been wonderful for me to be here with my daughters and the rest of the family. I've gotten to renew family ties, see how much kids have grown, and meet new family members that weren't even born the last time we were here!
The day after I arrived Alexa, Mal, me, the Grammies, Joy, Hope, Rhiannon, and Jeremy traveled down to the Boston Temple. The temple was beautiful as always. Alexa had grabbed the wrong envelope and ended up in Boston without her recommend, so that took a little time--they weren't able to get the Stake President or the Branch President, so Grampie came to the rescue by braving the "war zone" she calls her room and finding her recommend and going down to the library and faxing it to the temple. He's a great guy.
The next day, we went to Ellsworth for church. Alexa gave a talk, then she and Mallory sang "Did You Think To Pray" a capella. Both (the talk and the song) were terrific.
On Monday we shopped for mission things in Bangor all day. On Tuesday, Alexa and Mal took their little cousin to "Harry Potter". On Wednesday we went shopping again and then on to the island to take care of some business, then to Ellsworth for "Pie Night". (They hold it the night before Thanksgiving so they won't be too full to enjoy the pies.) As I sat there eating (and eating and eating), Pres. Erickson said, "So. Have you been checking out land? Real estate prices?" I assured him I hadn't. So then he begins, "Babbling brooks...The crunch of autumn leaves...Softly drifting snow...The sparkle of a woodland lake...." Okay, okay! I miss it. I miss the Ellsworth Branch very, very much, but you know what? I'll say the same thing about Saipan when we leave there. Good friends everywhere--I love them all.
Thursday was Thanksgiving at Mom and Dad's with the Page's and their whole family. It snowed all Thanksgiving day--a beautiful sight if you don't have to drive any distance in it! We had way too much food and I ate way too much food, so I guess that's the way it goes. I loved my wonderful brother-in-law and the patience and caring he showed toward my daughter-with-an-attitude that day. Time after time he sought her out and sat with her and talked with her and engaged her. I was very grateful.
Today, Alexa had to take Mal back down to the island at 5:30 A.M. (That turned out to be quite a trip--they missed the ferry, got a flat tire, found Mal's roommate moving out, etc., etc.--I am sooo glad I stayed home!) While they were gone, Mom called and asked if I wanted to come over and help her decorate, so I did. In the afternoon, she and I went shopping (again) and I got Alexa a camera for an early Christmas present; I really want her to document her mission, for herself and for us!
Now it's "Pie Night" in Dover (I'm all "pied" out!), and tomorrow we make another trip to the Boston Temple. While in Massachusetts, I need to try to get the laptop fixed so Mal will have one to take to school. A guy in the service department at Circuit City said that the problem is either a switch, which will take about an hour at $120 per, or some other thing, which will be about the same price as a new laptop...hmmmm. Anyway, on Sunday I speak in Ellsworth, then after church is a YMYW fireside, then Alexa's setting apart at 5:00 that evening. Monday Lex, Mal, and I will spend the night in Bangor because Alexa leaves early the next morning for the MTC.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

7 Again...

Okay--my daughter did 7 things that make her laugh, so here's my version.

7 People That Have Always Made Me Laugh (in order of hilarity):
  1. Levi (often when I was angry with him about something. . . "I know I'm laughing, but I'm still mad at you!")
  2. Joanie (she's gone now, but man was she fun!)
  3. Alexa (in her letters home)
  4. My Dad--especially when I would hear him laughing as he watched "The Red Skelton Show" when I was a kid.
  5. Christina
  6. Casey
  7. CNMI Politicians

Monday, October 10, 2005

Life in 7's

I was tagged by mainegirll--cool.

My life in 7's:

7 things to do before I die

  1. See all of my children happy and faithful.
  2. Have another 25. . . 30? 50? (at the very least) happy, healthy years with Casey.
  3. Serve a mission for the Church.
  4. Spend a few days with Cassie and Dave.
  5. Go to the National Archives and weep unashamedly (over the Founding Documents).
  6. Drive the perimeter, Rt. 1, of the U.S.
  7. Own a brand-new Lexus. Oh yeah.

7 things that attract me to my honey

  1. His sense of humor.
  2. His uncanny ability to converse intelligently on just about anything.
  3. His interest in people.
  4. How much he likes the "little kids."
  5. He's fun.
  6. He is the most interesting man I have ever known.
  7. The patience he has with me.

7 things I say most often

  1. "Just a minute."
  2. "We'll see."
  3. "Now that's an interesting thing."
  4. "Man-oh-man"
  5. "mmm-hmm"
  6. "What's up?"
  7. "I may have told you this before, but..."

Sunday, October 09, 2005

Saints and Soldiers

I saw this movie a couple of weeks ago and was very moved. It's evidently based on the real life experience of a small group of U.S. soldiers in Belgium during WWII who come upon an ally with critical intelligence that they need to get to command asap--the problem is, they're stranded behind enemy lines. One of the scenes in the movie sticks in my mind as an excellent example of the individual ways in which we interpret our life's experiences. Similar, in fact nearly identical, events can be realized in such completely different ways from one person to the next. This movie also made me think a lot about how dependent we are on one another and how much we influence and are influenced by each other--we truly are brothers and sisters.

"Saints and Soldiers" is very well done; I highly recommend it. (I would not recommend it for the under PG13 crowd unless a parent has seen it first to make that determination.) You can find more information on the movie at

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

I Hope They Call Me on A Mission!

"They" did! On Friday, September 30, 2005, Alexa received her mission call to the Idaho Pocatello Mission of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints! We were sooo excited. Grammie H. called here to get her phone number at work--she had promised that she would call her as soon as it arrived. So later I phoned back to see if Grammie had gotten in touch with her and she said she had and that she was coming up right after work with Mal and her roommate.

This all happened early Saturday morning for us, so I figured out that we should be hearing from Alexa sometime between 11 and noon. We told all the kids and decided that when she called whoever answered would holler to the rest and we would all get on the phones and then Jacob would turn on the theme to "Star Wars"...then Dad's voice would say, "Alexa--where is your mission?" Unfortunately, by the time everyone got on the phones we were all so excited and all talking at the same time (you'd think I'd be used to that after all these years!), that I couldn't hear what Alexa was saying--or even if she was saying anything. Anyway, everyone had to hang up the extensions and we finally got the word and the chaos did finally subside! She had us all guess before she would tell us--Jake got the closest with Utah. She has to be in Utah a lot earlier than we thought, and she said, "Mom! You've got to get here!" because I was leaving the day after Thanksgiving to go back and go with her to the temple, but that will be cutting it too close, so now I'm leaving a week earlier.

It was so fun to go to Church on Sunday and tell everyone. Our branch president announced it and there was an audible "OH!" from the congregation. It was great. Then, of course, those who were connected to that area started talking with us after the meetings--one of our current missionaries is from there, one of our friends here was born there and lived there for quite a few years, other friends have a friend from Mongolia that is serving there now, and still another has a nephew who enters the MTC in 2 weeks who is going there...the Church really does make it such a small world!

I'm so happy for and proud of Alexa. I'm excited for her to go to the area of the country where she was born--we left when she was two and have never been back since then. She actually has been to Idaho before when we went camping at Redfish Lake up in the Sawtooth Mountains, but of course she doesn't remember it. What a beautiful state it is! I think she'll be impressed by the incredible Rocky Mountains; I know she'll fall in love with the people she serves.

Saturday, September 17, 2005

Hurricane Katrina

I received this email one week ago from my cousin's wife. My cousin is an officer in the Marine Corp. We get so inundated with information from the news media, that I think it's very important to hear accounts from "real" people who tell their story from a position of care and concern instead of network interests. Here's the email:

For those who don't know who I'm sending this email out--[my husband] left yesterday with a company of his men (about 120) to Mississippi. [He] arrived in Mississippi last night, and will be working with the Ohio National Guard. He says there seems like there's a thousand national guardsmen, policmen, firemen. He slept in a non-airconditioned warehouse of a thousand cots with a thousand other men. The humidity wasn't too bad, but add the body heat, and it's certainly not pleasant.

The search and rescue of bodies is just about completed in Mississippi, so [his] company of men will be tasked with something else (thank goodness), but not sure yet. He said it's a bit frustrating, because he could do so much more work with his entire battalion. As of now, they'll just join work parties.

He was able to drive to the devastation this morning, and he said it's unbelievable. There's total devastation. He watched a husband/wife stand in front of what was probably their home, (only the foundation was there) both sobbing. He saw a new car dealership with cars stacked 3 deep on each other, and some cars (some upside down) in the neighboring homes/stores, that are pretty unrecognizable. He also said that there's quite a bit of traffic on I-10 and people are returning, or just sight seeing.

Just like the War, the media isn't covering the "good" things being done, but there is TONS of help, there, and American's generosity continues to pour into the area. Most of the volunteers have T-shirts that tell where they are from. He saw one from Redding, CA. He said it was funny to hear that the civilians affected by the hurricane were fed MRE's (meals ready-to-eat that the military eat when in the field, or fighting/training in outer areas where there are no chow halls or mess tents) and they didn't like them at all. The military looks at them as food to keep them alive, whereas the civilians had another perspective of them.....

A side note to the members of our church. Last night our Relief Society enrichment had an auction of white elephant stuff/clothes that members brought from home to auction for $1 or $2. The sisters received permission to do this, and the proceeds are being put to the "Humantarian" Tithing envelope. If you receive the Church News (dated 9/3, page 13), the Church suggested this as one form of donation to help victims of the hurricane. We had four tables full of stuff, and it was a huge success! The sisters also had a blast. One Sister brought in a large picture of Christ, painted by Greg Olsen and it was our top seller with a bid of $230. I thought some of you might pass this idea on to your wards, as well.

[He] said he was driving down a street where one building stood totally unscathed--as he got closer, he recognized it--it was one of our chapels, and there was a sign on the front stating it was an evacuation shelter for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. He said not even a shingle was gone from it. Everything around it was obliverated. Amazing.....Love, [Me]

Sunday, September 11, 2005

First Date

Sam had a date last night! It doesn't seem possible that he's the age now that Alexa was when we moved here. Several of the kids in the branch just turned 16 and one of the girls was asked out by a young man who was baptized a month or two ago, so she decided to plan a group date. The plan was to go bowling and then to go to a house and watch a movie. Sam asked Jenny and it was set for Saturday night.

Just before Sam left that night, I reminded him that since he had asked Jenny to go with him that he should pay for her part of the activities they had planned. He looked as blank as if I had spoken Greek! Finally it clicked and he said, "Oh, oh yeah. Yeah, that's right. Okay." I'm glad I said something! Anyway, Sam's ride didn't show up, so he asked me if I would take him down to the bowling alley. Jenny and several of the girls were already there.

There were a pile of boys here at the house that Jacob had invited over, so things were hopping as usual at home. I told them we closed at 9:30 on Saturday nights and they were pretty well gone by 10, but I wanted to wait up for Sam anyway. He came in just before 11 P.M. He said that he had a great time and he was very happy that he had soundly beaten everyone in bowling. After that they had bought a pizza and a video and watched it at a friend's house.

Here's the kicker--Sam was the only guy that showed up! Not one of the girls had a date show up except Jenny--not even the one who was originally asked out and planned it! So it was just Sam and 4 very pretty young ladies! No wonder he had a good time!

Monday, September 05, 2005

"Let's Do It!" Read The Book of Mormon Weekend

I teach Seminary. Seminary is a religious education class for high school age students run by the Church Educational System of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I [mostly] enjoy teaching and right now I have a great group of students. Our class meets from 6 - 6:50 A.M. I've been teaching Seminary off and on (mostly on) now for 6 years...I think.

Anyway, this year our course of study is The Book of Mormon. All summer I'd been thinking that it would be good for the class to read the whole book early in the course and in a short period of time to give us a framework to use as a point of reference in the class. I have 24 students this year. Some of the students are new members who are not familiar with the book and some have been raised in the Church, but still are not very familiar with it.

So, over Labor Day weekend we had our reading. We started at 4 P.M. on Friday afternoon and read until 10:30 P.M. The branch provided dinner for us that night. The next morning we started again at 6 A.M. and read, once again, until 10:30 that night. One student's family had volunteered to bring in food for us for lunch and we started fasting right after we had eaten. On Friday night we had 25 - 30 participate--several Institute students joined us. On Saturday, we had 20 (10 young women, 10 young men--that was a first!). By the time we left on Saturday night we were pretty beat and we still had 2 books to go; I wondered if anyone would show up for the finish on Sunday morning.

We had agreed to meet Sunday at 7:00 A.M. and I was a little late because I had to take all of my family with me. I had a call right before I left that one of the girls I was supposed to pick up had just gotten up and would get there when she could. Hmmmmm.... I was glad (and relieved) to find that there were already a half dozen students there by the time I arrived. We didn't have as many--only 11 showed up that morning--but we did finish before Sacrament Meeting and several of the students who didn't make it to the finish with the group did read the last two books on their own.

We read so fast that I started worrying that the kids wouldn't get anything out of this activity, but it hasn't turned out that way at all. Several of them bore their testimonies of the Book of Mormon that day, and since then I have heard them on a few different occasions refer to things we read (i.e., "I think Lamanites had leather armor." "No, remember? It said they were naked.").

We just had so much support from the branch and the parents, Sister Benson (our Institute teacher) and especially from each other. I'm glad we did it--it was a great weekend.

The Tim-Tam Slam

(Sung to the tune of "Nowhere Man")

He's a real Tim-Tam Man
Buying Tim-Tams where he can
Making all those Tim-Tam slams
For nobody.

Yes, he is. Our friend, Del, just got back from Tonga and brought with him "A taste sensation--an edible experience--it's addictive." Evidently the Australians claim it as their own. Mormons beware. Here are the instructions:

packages of Tim-Tams, refrigerated is best (the amount is left to your discretion)
hot chocolate
napkins (not recommended)

Make hot chocolate as per directions. Remove one Tim-Tam from package and bite off a small amount in opposite (diagonal) corners. Lean over close to the hot chocolate mug (may use a shallow bowl if desired), put one bitten-off end of Tim-Tam into chocolate, and quickly begin to suck up hot chocolate using Tim-Tam as a straw. This requires medium to strong suction, so get a good breath first. When Tim-Tam collapses and loses suction, shove quickly into mouth.

Servings: Approximately 1 serving per package of Tim-Tams.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

sha-BOOM sha-BOOM!

Man! Did we ever have a big thunderstorm last night. Once there were three big percussive blasts in one huge roll of thunder. One "boom" sounded like one of the explosions in "Independence Day"--complete with the laser sound that preceded it. It was amazing! It was also at 2 in the morning....

The storm must've been right over the island because the thunder and lightning was coming all at the same time and I've always been told that you can tell about how far away a thunderstorm is by counting the seconds between the lightning and the thunder, but in this case there weren't any seconds in between!

All I could think of was what it must've been like when the Nephites and Lamanites went through "thunderings and lightnings" as it's recorded in The Book of Mormon. I'm sure that it was much, much worse, but what a reminder of the awesome power of nature in response to God.

I hear the rolling thunder

Thy power throughout the universe displayed.

Friday, August 05, 2005

Roads and Bridges

After reading my daughter's beautiful description of the carriage roads and stone bridges of Acadia National Park in her blog (An Acadian Story, August 2005,, I couldn't resist putting up a few pictures to illustrate. Thanks for the interesting info bits, too, Mal. (See more below.)

Carriage Roads and Bridges of Acadia.

Carriage Roads and Bridges of Acadia.

Sunday, July 31, 2005

A Think...

One of those inconspicuous statements that you hear now and then that gave me pause in Sacrament Meeting today:
"The fulness of the Gospel of Jesus Christ is Jesus Christ."
--President Philip Pulsipher
President, Guam Micronesia Mission

Saturday, July 30, 2005


It always drove me crazy that my mother and grandmother said "biscuit" instead of "biscuits".
"What did you have good for supper?" Grammie Boone would ask my mother.
"Well, John caught a mess of trout, so we had those, potatoes, peas from the garden, and I made biscuit." Aaaaarrrgh! It was like fingernails on a chalkboard! (Too bad I can't find someone who'll pay me for being petty...)

At any rate, the recipe we use in our household is from an old National Grange Cookbook. This is often Sunday night fare for us--especially if there is any honey or, better yet, molasses on hand. Ironically to my mother and grandmother who swore by Bakewell Cream, this baking powder recipe is somewhat of an anomaly. We love it.


2 cups all-purpose flour
1 Tablespoon sugar
4 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup shortening
1 egg, beaten
2/3 cup milk

Sift dry ingredients together. Cut in shortening until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Add egg and milk. Knead. Roll until 3/4-inch thick, cut with biscuit cutter. Place on ungreased baking sheet. Bake in 450-degree oven for 10 to 14 minutes or until tops are golden brown.

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Family and Friends and Family

We had some friends of ours over for a barbecue the other night. We wanted to have them over before Janel's mother goes back to Texas after visiting here for the past two months.

It's always fun having them over, our children are friends, but it was really a special treat to have Grandma here, too. I'm really impressed that she was able and willing to make the long trip to this island because in the last year she has had two heart attacks and has also had to endure cancer treatments, but she did it. Rik and Janel's youngest kids had never met their grandmother before, so of course that was very important to them as well.

Grandma was so comfortable and nice. She was full of stories and words of wisdom and experience and I honestly couldn't remember a time that I enjoyed visiting with an elderly person so much. I figure that it's either that I just plain miss having a grandmother around or I'm getting so much closer to that myself that I'm feeling like a contemporary! I told her that we don't get to have grandma's out here for a visit very often, so it's really great when we do.

Our friends out here become our surrogate families and we often talk about our parents, ask how so and so (a family member we've never met) is doing, etc. to the point that we feel like we know some of each other's biological families. When we get to actually meet one of the bio-family members we already feel a connection.

Anyway, it was great having Grandma for a visit in Saipan.

Monday, July 25, 2005

A Grampie Story

Today is Grampie Alexa's birthday. He's 110...or he would be if he were still here. My boys are sitting behind me exclaiming at the things I'm writing ("Grampie can't be 110!")--as if they didn't even know that I had a Grampie Alexa of my own!

My grandfather was Lithuanian--he came to the U.S. when he was 18 or so. My grandmother was 4 years older than him and she taught him English--in fact, I think that's how they met. He learned to speak the language all right, but even 60 years later a lot of my friends had a hard time understanding him because of his accent.

When I was little I loved to be with Grampie Alexa. I especially liked to go over to eat with him and Grammie. He would go out in the woods after a rain and pick mushrooms in the summer, but they weren't uniform like the ones you buy in the store. They were all different varieties, sizes, colors, and shapes. He said that the way he knew which ones were alright to eat was by seeing where deer and other animals had nibbled at them. I don't think I'd ever be brave enough to pick them myself, but I ate them with him then. I really liked sitting on the porch and watching Grampie clean those mushrooms with his knife. He would cut off the ends and slice them, then take them inside and fry them with salt pork in a big cast iron skillet on the flat top of their black wood cookstove. After I would eat them my mother wouldn't let me in the house because of the smell of them on my breath! In truth, when they were fried like that they turned kind of dark and slimy, but Gramp made them and that was enough to convince me I liked them!

There are just way too many stories about Gramp to put them all in one blog--like riding in his 1931 Model-A Ford which he bought used in 1935 and drove until 1975 or so when he gave up driving. I think he sold it at a profit....
Anyway--I'll write more Grampie Alexa stories now and then.

Thursday, July 14, 2005

Family Favorites - Cookies

Our family loves cookies. We like to make them almost as much as we like to eat them! In fact, today Kaitlyn was making some cookies and some friends came to take her and Ezra to the beach before she could get them mixed up, so she asked me to finish. They were peanut butter cookies and I thought they looked a little dry, so I threw in some ripe bananas. After we baked a couple pans of those (they were yummy), I remembered that I had some chopped up peanuts in the refridgerator, so I tossed those in too.

The cookies that Kaitlyn was making were from one of our family-favorite recipes--Grammie Haskin's Peanutbutter Cookies--we love them! I never even cared for peanutbutter cookies until I had hers melt in my mouth. But the all-time winner in our household would have to be Grammie Boone's Blethen House Molasses Cookies--they taste like home.

Grammie Haskin's Peanutbutter Cookies

1 cup shortening (1/2 butter tastes good)
1 cup peanutbutter
1 cup sugar
1 cup brown sugar
2 eggs
2 1/2 cups flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt

Mix all ingredients well. Shape into balls, press criss-cross with a fork.
Bake at 350 until not quite done (8-10 minutes). After removing from oven, leave on baking sheet for a couple of minutes before putting on cooling rack.

My Grammie Boone always said that she was an "old-fashioned cook". She was the baker of choice for people all over Dover-Foxcroft, Maine, my hometown. She baked for Collette's Restaurant and for the (lone) hotel, the Blethen House. She loved to bake and her family and friends loved to have her do it! We nearly always double this recipe...

1 cup sugar
1/2 cup molasses
3/4 cup shortening
1 egg
2 1/4 cups flour
3 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon ginger
1/2 teaspoon cassia (cinnamon)
1/4 teaspoon cloves
pinch of salt

Mix all ingredients well. Roll into balls and dip the tops in granulated sugar. Bake at 350 for 8-10 minutes or until tops are cracked.

Friday, July 08, 2005

Just a Summer Day

But then as we were told before we came here, every day is summer in Saipan!

Sam and Jacob are at Boy Scout Camp this week. It's been kind of a nomadic adventure starting out on Tuesday with the scouts kayaking out to Managaha then back the next morning. At that point we transported them from Micro Beach to Susupe Lake where they did a little more kayaking and had a presentation from the Dept. of Fish and Wildlife on the brown tree snake and Jacob lost his glasses in the muck at the bottom of the lake. . . sigh. ANYWAYS, then they hiked up to Kannat Tabla where they spent that night. On Thursday we transported them to the Grotto where they had more merit badge work as well as playing in the water (anyone interested can probably find a picture of the Grotto on, and yes, it can be dangerous and I'm glad they're all away safe and sound. This morning I helped transport them from the Grotto to Laulau Bay where they will camp tonight and finish up tomorrow with a family pot luck complete with skits, etc. Sam only joined them this morning because he had cut his foot at our 4th of July barbecue and Casey felt that today it was healed up enough for him to go.

So, with Kaitlyn at day camp down at Hopwood, I only have Ezra and Eden here at home today. Of course it was too boring having just the two of them, so we went over and picked up Ashley and Solofi Welch (their dad is the Scoutmaster), and they jumped on the trampoline and played with the scooters until they worked themselves into a nice hot lather. Now they're all out swimming in the pool we bought last Christmas. The pool was second-hand, but we found it right here on the island and they have had a blast with it since the weather really heated up in May. Even Casey gets in with them at the end of the day sometimes (it's the kind with the inflatable ring--about 12' diameter), the kids really love that!

Casey has started playing basketball with the Over 45 league. He had his first game last Saturday and has another one today. It's funny to hear him talk about it. He says that he wasn't as bad as he expected to be, but that was probably because the rest of the team is so out of shape. One guy just sets up camp at one end of the court and waits for them to throw him the ball. Casey's legs were killing him for the first couple of days after the game--he said they felt like wet noodles.

I really admire Case for staying so fit over the years--he's really been conscientious about that. The other day I came across some shorts that had been put in a pile of clothes to give away and Casey tried them on and they fit perfectly...they have the same size waist that I bought for him when we were first married! I wish I'd come across the figure I had back then (gosh, I just can't think what I did with that!).

Friday, July 01, 2005

Keeping Things in Perspective: An Excerpt from "Moonlight" Graham remembered - Countdown with Keith Olbermann -

I ran across this story by Keith Olbermann on today. It's a wonderful story for a day like ours when pop-culture pseudo-heroes have taken center stage.

"At the Metrodome in Minnesota Wednesday, an 86-year-old woman and two kids from Chisholm, Minnesota, threw out ceremonial first pitches before the Twins game against the Kansas City Royals. The team was saluting Doc Graham Day. The kids are the recipients of the two Doc Graham memorial scholarships.

"Does that name, Doc Graham, ring a bell? How about Moonlight Graham? Sure, it’s been 16 years since the movie came out, but it runs every month on TV. Think hard now. Surely you remember Moonlight Graham. “Field of Dreams?” There you go.

"It’s perhaps the iconic depiction of baseball on film, a magical combination of history, fantasy and innocence. It’s become that largely because of just one of its many characters, that fanciful creation that author W.P. Kinsella called Moonlight Graham.

"Graham supposedly played in just one Major League Baseball [game], then became the beloved town doctor of the tiny town of Chisholm, Minnesota.

"Well, it would have been a fanciful creation, and Moonlight Graham would have been one of fiction’s great characters, except for one detail: there really was a Moonlight Graham. He really did become the beloved town doctor of Chisholm, Minnesota. And he really did play in just one Major League Baseball game. That one game was exactly 100 years ago on Wednesday.

"In Chisholm, Minnesota, 70 miles from the Canadian border, they never called him Moonlight. Instead, they opted for Doc or Doctor Graham.

"W.P. Kinsella, author of Shoeless Joe, says he came across his name in a baseball encyclopedia given as a Christmas gift. 'He was listed as Moonlight Graham. And I thought, ‘What a wonderful name. This is better than anything I could invent,' says Kinsella.

"This movie story really is true. In 1904, Archibald “Moonlight” Graham was a .323 hitter with Manchester of the New England League. He was then purchased by the National League champion New York Giants and joined them on May 23, 1905. And for reasons lost to history, he didn’t play a game until June 29. That day, with the Giants leading 10-0 in the eighth inning, manager John McGraw finally put him in right field. Nobody hit the ball near him.

"With two out in the top of the ninth inning, Moonlight Graham was on deck. He would have been the next hitter, his first time up in the big leagues. But Claude Elliott flied out to end the inning. The Giants sold him to Scranton 16 days later.

"He never got his chance in baseball. But, he did get the chance to help people.

"According to Veda Ponikvar, founder of The Chisholm Free Press and Tribune, Graham jumped on a train to Minnesota after reading a small ad listing a doctor opening. And he never left. Dr. Graham lived in Chisholm right up until his death 54 years later in 1965.

"Ponikvar is also in Field of Dreams. The actress Ann Seymour reads the obituary of Doc Graham that Vida wrote: 'And there were times when children could not afford eyeglasses or milk or clothing. Yet no child was ever denied these essentials because in the background there was always Dr. Graham. Without any fanfare or publicity, the glasses or the milk or the ticket to the ballgame found their way into the child’s pocket.'

"Bob McDonald was one of the other children. He’s been Chisholm High School‘s basketball coach for half a century, only its third since 1921. Doc Graham’s baseball life, his love of sports was important, but it was nothing compared to how important his life was as the town doctor.

“'That’s the big item you see. In baseball, you kind of help yourself and you entertain,' says McDonald. 'Athletics are like that, you entertain people. But he comforted people.'

"Kinsella says it was an asset. 'I mean, what I was afraid of, was that this was going to be a guy who sat in the American Legion bar and bragged about playing in the major leagues for 40 years.'

"As the movie suggests, somewhat tragically, Graham came close but never reached his dream. But Graham, played by Burt Lancaster, famously says, 'If I‘d only gotten to be a doctor for five minutes, now that would have been a tragedy.'"

Thursday, June 30, 2005

Summer Camp

Sam and Jacob are enjoying the Summer Youth Bazaar camp they've been going to down at the junior high. Even Sam and especially Jake. The camp has an overnight program for the kids their age, so they decided they would stay tonight. (Kait's in the daycamp program at the same place.)

Jacob's been taking his guitar everyday and to listen to him talk it sounds like he is on the fast track to superstardom with the camp crowd. When I dropped them off this morning, I asked Sam if anyone had told Jake that he can't play the guitar yet. He said he didn't know, so I told him not to say anything because Jacob seems so happily ignorant of that fact. Sam just smiled.

Jacob says that he is having a hard time singing and playing at the same time. To illustrate the problem for any guitar-players out there, try forgetting everything you know about music and take your guitar and play bar chords (of course you don't know they're bar chords because you don't know what chords are) starting at the first or second fret and go down a few frets, then up a few frets all to the rhythm of the song, say, Blue Suede Shoes. Now try to sing along. Okay! That's the problem! Sam has a great ear and great feel for rhythm and zero passion; Jacob has tons of passion, but no ear. The great thing is your ear can be trained, so he'll learn. He'll learn because I'm signing him up for guitar lessons at the college starting in July.

Friday, June 24, 2005

Easy Listening

Some of my "test of time" favorites with the artist I prefer:

COME IN FROM THE RAIN - Captain and Tenille
SO FAR AWAY - Carol King
SATELLITE - Dave Matthews
VINCENT - Don McLean
DESPERADO - The Eagles
UP ON THE ROOF - James Taylor
ADIOS - Linda Ronstadt
DREAM A LITTLE DREAM OF ME - The Mamas and The Papas
UNFORGETTABLE - Natalie Cole (with Nat King Cole)
CRAZY - Patsy Cline

Today's My Birthday...

...and I'm forty-hmmmm. Oh okay--seven! I'm forty-seven today, and so far forty-seven is good; all of you lesser ones should look forward to it.

Casey's present to me was that he took the day off from work. Only we who know him well can realize what a special gift that is from him. I remember when Kaitlyn was born he planned on taking two weeks off from work--it turned out to be, maybe, 3 or 4 days. So I love this gift! Right now he's taken the kids down to deliver the older ones to summer youth camp and I'm here alone blogging and listening to some of my favorite tunes courtesy of Limewire. Modern technology can be good when it wants to be!

I let Kaitlyn stay up late last night to help make my birthday cake. When she gets home this afternoon we'll finish it with cherries and whipped cream. Eden met me in the yard when we came home from our morning walk...she was picking flowers "for your birfday". The older kids were horrified when I said that Dad was going to take them to camp today so that I could stay home and get a few things done like the breakfast dishes. They can't imagine a fate worse than dish duty! I used to feel that way too, but as I get older it doesn't bother me. I remember Grammie Boone saying that she really didn't mind doing the dishes and I guess I don't either.

Well, Casey's back and has gone directly into the office to return some phone calls--I guess what he said was that he wasn't going in to work today...

Sunday, June 19, 2005

Father's Day

Casey's upstairs making banana bread. It smells like the holidays instead of the middle of the summer, but we've had so many bananas coming off the plants Casey's been cultivating in the jungle that we've got to use them faster. These are the nicest eating bananas--as opposed to "cooking" bananas--that we've had; they're as big as the ones in the store! They completely cover the small table (well, it seats six!) we have in the back of the kitchen.

We've had a nice Father's Day today. Levi called this morning before church and Alexa called after we got home. We haven't heard from Mallory, but she doesn't have as easy access to a phone or computer right now, so we'll probably hear from her tomorrow because she'll be at Grammie and Grampie Haskins for a family gathering. Our day here was quiet with no visitors or guests--just the family. We had a nice dinner complete with local watermelon--they're so good this year!--and strawberry shortcake for dessert. It's usually impossible to find fresh strawberries on island that aren't moldy and gross and $7.99 a pound, but amazingly enough there were good ones for about half that price this week so we had a real treat.

It's 10:45 P.M. here now which puts it at about 8:45 Sunday morning in Maine, so I guess I'll go call Dad and wish him a Happy Father's Day.

Monday, June 06, 2005

Bye-Bye Baby

A lifetime in a week. . . sounds very melodramatic, but I guess I'm feeling a little bittersweet right now--another child leaving home.

Mal's graduation from Kagman High School was very fun. We went out early in the day with the little kids and picked flowers for leis for her and other graduating friends. I had made candy leis for her and Lisa the night before and when they were finished Mal and I sat on the bed talking and eating the leftovers.

Graduation was at 4:00 in the afternoon and it was outside--the first outdoor graduation ceremony I've been to. It's always fun to go to graduation here because the kids look so great piled high with colorful leis around their necks and mwaar-mwaars on their caps. The best part was the awards--Mallory was one of two that received the Robert C. Byrd scholarship. She also received a departmental award in science and in business, was #7 in the top ten, and was named Outstanding Female Graduate by the Governor's Office of Women's Affairs. It was very fun.

On Friday night we had the graduation/going away ice cream party. We had one when Alexa left island and it worked out so well we decided to make it a tradition. There must have been 100+ people here working their way through 9 gallons of ice cream and every topping we could think of...YUM! Then on Sunday Mallory received her Young Women's medallion--along with a couple more mwaar-mwaars from well-wishers.

And so here we are at the end of Mal's time with us. It's hard to believe that the first baby--she's the youngest of the Utah kids--is off. Her Dad was going to take her out to lunch, but when she found out she informed him that she is fasting today, so maybe they can go tomorrow. She's already asked him to give her a blessing before she leaves on Wednesday--I know she's going to be fine.

Monday, May 23, 2005

Signs of Saipan II

Here's one from a local video store:

"If you think you're not a PIG please don't spit beetlenut anywhere inside!"

Bravo, Bravo, Bravissimo!

BRAVO! Jocelyn Lonsdale as Winnifred and Jacob Connor as Prince Dauntless are seen in this scene from "Once Upon A Mattress" on Saturday at Dai-Ichi Hotel. The performance of the cast members in the musical, which was produced by the Friends of the Art, was described as "awesome" by the audience. (Marianas Variety, 23 May 2005)

Sunday, May 22, 2005

Broadway Comes to Saipan

Well, this year's FOA youth production of "Once Upon A Mattress" has come and gone and was a resounding success! For those who may not be familiar with it, this play tells the "real" story of the princess and the pea. It was open to kids in grades 1 through 9.

First of all I want to make sure I mention the best thing that happened in this year's play. For the first time that I know of many of the major parts were played by members of the Church, and because of their faithfulness to the things they've been taught there were no performances or mandatory rehearsals scheduled on Sundays. I was there during auditions and heard many of them tell the producer right up front that they would not be available at all on Sundays, so she and the director were well aware of the situation before the parts were assigned. I have never known any play here not to have scheduled rehearsals and performances on Sunday--it was awesome.

The play was great fun! Jacob was the male lead--a simpering, wimpy mama's boy named Prince Dauntless. We didn't know he could sing on tune, so that was a very nice discovery! He did a wonderful job. Jocelyn Lonsdale played Princess Winifred (Fred for short), and she was a hoot! Her expressions were as funny as Carol Burnett's! It was just a fun, crazy trip through a medieval courtship. The whole thing was terrific--I liked it better than Revenge of The Sith!

The other fun thing about the play was that the closing night was on Jacob's 14th birthday. I had bought a huge cake and arranged with the producer to present it to him during curtain call. So, after the bows were taken and gifts were given to Ms. Actouka (producer) and Mr. Easton (director), I got up holding the cake and announced that this was "Prince Dauntless's" 14th birthday. The pianist started playing and Jake came back up on the stage and the whole crowd of about 150+ sang to him, then we shared the cake with the cast and audience. It was so fun to hear everyone break into applause and cheers when I announced his birthday! This is one I'm sure he'll remember for a long, long time.

Monday, May 16, 2005

Seminary Graduation 2005

Another year gone by! Last night was this year's Seminary Graduation--it's by far the biggest class I've ever had--17--but with only 2 4-year graduates. I was so happy for Mallory and Lisa. On the last day of class as I got into the car I said to Lisa, "Well, here you are, four years later!" She said that it had gone by so fast, and of course as we get older and look back on more and more life time does seem to go by faster.

Graduation was great. I love announcing each student's name as they receive their certificates of completion for the year and then introducing those who are graduating. I love listening to them sing--this year (New Testament) they sang "If the Savior Stood Beside Me" and they were terrific! I love having flowers ready for them to pin on and leis for those who are graduating. Mallory wore her prom dress and she looked so beautiful, especially with the lei.

I even like the mishaps--one this year was the beautiful harp music that was playing during the presentation of certificates was a little short and there was no repeat on the stereo we were using so it accidentally went into a kind of triumphant fanfare just as I announced Taylor Smith's name! It was really funny--and she's such a great girl and was such a good sport about it--she just laughed.

Another near miss that wasn't so enjoyable was that Lisa wasn't there. All the rest of the students who are on-island were there, but no Lisa, and she was graduating! I was so disappointed for her--I just kept thinking that I should have gone and picked her up myself, but her mother and brother had both checked with me on the time that morning at church and had assured me that they would be there. She was supposed to give a talk, but they just skipped to Mallory's talk. After Mallory, Elder Hopoate made the presentation of the graduates to Brother Hubble who was there representing the District Presidency. During his remarks, Mallory caught my eye and motioned toward the window. I went out and there was Lisa and her family! Thank goodness! She was very upset about being so late, but I sent her to sit on the stand with the class, put her lei on her, and kissed her cheek. I was just so glad she made it. After Brother Hubble finished, Elder Hopoate turned to the class and said that he would like to hear something more from them, so they were, "Lisa! Lisa, give your talk!" She really hadn't regained her composure from coming in so late. She was very hesitant and for a minute I didn't think she'd be able to stand up, but she took a deep breath and walked to the podium. She was very emotional, but she bore a sweet and honest testimony and I think everybody was moved to tears--or maybe it was just me! Anyway, she was still whispering apologies for being late when I gave her her diploma, but everything turned out wonderfully in the end!

Texas to Maine : The End of the Road

Alexa arrived safely at her grandmother's house in Dover-Foxcroft, Maine around 11:30 P.M. on Saturday, May 14. All is well!

Saturday, May 14, 2005

Texas to Maine (Day 3)

I talked with Alexa at 5:30 A.M.--she was already up and about ready to go. It's going to be a big push to finish this trip today. I asked her to call me when she goes over the bridge into Maine and I would call Grammie H. so she'd know when to be looking for her. Casey asked why I didn't just have her call her Grandmother herself. What kind of a question was that?!!!

She said that she had a better rest last night--the room was cleaner and nicer and "felt safer." I know what she means--when things are more orderly and cared for, it feels more secure. Levi called her around 11 P.M. last night and woke her up. She was glad to hear from him--she always is--and said that he sounded better than he had the last time she had talked with him. Levi had a friend who died from a car accident last week, so he was (of course) sad about that. He said that he wished he was with her. . . .That makes two of us Levi!

Texas to Maine (Day 2)

I haven't had time to blog the last phone call(s) until now because today has been so busy with Mallory's prom, kids' play rehearsal, other kids coming over to play, going to "Taste of the Marianas" (our favorite island event), and trying to get ready for Seminary Graduation tomorrow night so I won't be crazy on the Sabbath!
Anyway, I talked with Alexa around 8:00 P.M. ET, Friday the 13th (!!!) and she was just coming into Toledo, Ohio. Talking with me on the phone distracted her enough that she missed her exit to Cleveland (way to go, Mom), but she thought she would spend the night where she was and try to get a good night's sleep. She didn't get as far as she had hoped partly because she stopped twice for about an hour each time to sleep and partly because I forgot when I was checking driving times and distances for her on MapQuest that she would be crossing into Eastern time today and lose an hour. She said that she hadn't slept very well the first night and that there had been two wrong number calls that had awakened her when she had gotten to sleep, so she was too tired to go any further. Although there were some big thunderstorms around the areas she was in, she said that she has had mostly light rain and the driving has been smooth.

Friday, May 13, 2005

Texas to Maine (end of Day 1)

Alexa just called and she's made it to Springfield, Missouri--pretty good time once she got going. It's about 11 P.M. there and she's found an inexpensive hotel for the night and she sounded good. I guess she had to look around a bit before she found a room in her price range. She said that she isn't comfortable driving too late into the night because her headlights are kind of dim even when they're on bright and she found herself having to utilize the headlights of the cars around her. (Yikes!) Well, it's spring and she's headed to the northeast, so there's a lot of daylight for her to use. She wants me to give her a wake-up call for between 5:30 and 6:00 P.M. central time. I don't think Alexa has seen that time of day since she graduated from seminary! She's hoping to make it to Buffalo tomorrow.

Alexa's Trip: Texas to Maine (Day 1)

She left this morning around 3:30 A.M.--well, 1:30 P.M. Thursday in Wichita Falls, TX--and called us on her cell phone as she was leaving. She said that she hopes to get as far as St. Louis today, New York tomorrow, and the rest of the way on Saturday.

I called her at about 5:00 P.M. her time and she had gotten a little lost at one point in Oklahoma, so she was going through Oklahoma City when I called; now she's hoping to get as far as Tulsa tonight. I asked if she wanted me to look into getting her a room there for the night, but she doesn't want to risk a reservation at a place that she can't find, so she'll handle it herself. I told her to call when she gets in for the night.

Although I have been very concerned about this trip, my prayers for her safety have been heard and I feel comfortable that all will be well with her.

Sunday, May 08, 2005


Levi did it! He's a college graduate! Not only that, but he received a Program Director's award in Music Business Ethics (I'm not really sure of the title--something like that). We're so proud of him; he's called a couple of times this weekend to fill us in on the event. He says that he can't believe that he has a diploma sitting on his table! I am so glad that he has done this for himself, and also for the example that this leaves to the rest of our family.

One little glitch happened last Thursday night when he had a concert, the first one as the "Leave Calmer" band. I think he said that it was in the first song when he was accidently hit just above his eye with a guitar. Although he finished the show (it must go on, right?), he ended up afterward in the hospital for stitches. So, even though he didn't have anyone to cheer him on at graduation, which was the next afternoon, he for sure did not go unnoticed with the lei that we sent him and a head wound!

In the next day or two, Levi will be flying to Texas to drive with Alexa to Florida. Her last two finals are on Tuesday morning and I think they'll plan to leave that afternoon. She'll stay there--in Florida--a few days to visit with him, and then will drive to Maine to start work by May 22.

10 Souvenirs Every Missionary Should Take Home

This is taken from a talk given by Elder Story, who is getting ready to go home to Oregon after a very successful 25 month mission here in Micronesia:

10 Souvenirs Every Missionary Should Take Home

  1. A testimony of the living reality of God.
  2. A greatly enlarged understanding of the Gospel.
  3. A love for the people.
  4. A greater love and appreciation for your parents.
  5. An understanding of hard work. "Work is the miracle by which talent is brought to the surface and dreams become reality." (Gordon B. Hinckley)
  6. An enlarged understanding of the meaning and true worth of virtue.
  7. Increased poise--the ability to meet and converse with people.
  8. The courage to act.
  9. The faith to try.
  10. The humility to pray.
    --from President Hinckley
  11. Increased joy in your life from bringing others the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
    --from Elder Story

Saturday, May 07, 2005


I am not a "Dear Abby" fan, but yesterday there was something in her column that caught my eye. A reader wrote in asking for her definition of "maturity". Frankly, I think she may have gotten this elsewhere, although no other attribution was given, but the answer she gave was the best definition of that word I've ever seen. Since reading this, I have really thought about it and how it relates to myself and my children. Here is Dear Abby's response:

"Maturity is the ability to control our impulses, to think beyond the moment, and consider how our words and our actions will affect ourselves and others before we act."

Monday, May 02, 2005

Excerpts from This Week's Family Letter

". . . Oh, you know how after the last time Dad cut Jacob's hair I vowed that if he ever did it again I'd call Youth Services? However, I do like to have him do Eden's hair, which he cuts in that really cute way that he used to cut Kaitlyn's--really short in the back, remember? Well, he was cutting her hair this weekend, and, well, little kids do tend to move. It was so bad that Dad just sat there for a while trying to get his breathing back to normal and figure out what he could do to fix the back of her hair. Eden kept saying, "Dad, cut. Dad, why don't you cut? Dad? Why don't you cut, Dad?" So now, from the front and sides, she has that really cute cut, but from the back her hair is a little shorter than Ezra's--good thing hair grows. . . ."

My Conversion Story

Mallory asked me to write my conversion story for a project she is doing to finish out her Personal Progress in Young Women's, so I thought I would post it here:

I joined the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in December of 1972, when I was 14 and in the 9th grade, in Dover-Foxcroft, Maine. I had been attending church for about 2 years, prior to being baptized, with my mother and older sister, Hope Ann. Mom was baptized on April 6, 1970 and Hope Ann the following month. Mom had several family members, her sister and brother-in-law and their family and even her mother, who had joined the Church a few years earlier. Dad and I were the hold-outs. He just wasn’t interested; I was too proud.
I went to Church with Mom and Hope Ann every Sunday, and faithfully attended every other meeting that involved my age group—I even took Home Study Seminary! On most Monday nights, we went over to Aunt Clarice and Uncle Harley’s and had Family Home Evening with them and their two kids, Heidi and Bart. Missionaries came to our house frequently even after Mom and Hope were baptized, probably because we were a part-member family. Every once in a while, when the frustration of having a "dry-Mormon" running around got the best of them, someone would ask, "When are you going to make it official MariLou? You know you want to be baptized." Which worked very well in reminding me to dig in my heels a little deeper—if there’s anything a teenager hates, it’s having someone tell them how they feel! I had it all planned out in my head that someday I would go to BYU and while out there I would be baptized—then there wouldn’t be anyone around who knew me saying, "I KNEW you’d join!"
But then something happened. One Monday morning, we got a phone call telling us that the Harmon’s house had caught fire after they had all gone to bed the night before, and their 5-year old daughter (the only girl out of 6 children), had died in the tragedy. I had just seen and laughed at Stephanie and her brother Tim a few hours earlier at Sacrament Meeting (back then Sacrament Meeting was held on Sunday night). I was stricken. How could this have happened? Everything was fine and normal and comfortable and all of a sudden, without any warning, it was the pit of despair. How could life go from good to bad so quickly? And then, in teenage fashion, came the thoughts, "Could this kind of thing happen in my life? What if I suddenly had an accident? What if I was gone before I was baptized?!!!" When that thought hit, I was horrified—and humbled.
Anyway, I finally sat down and took the discussions. I was still a contrary and prideful teenager—I decided to dislike one of the missionaries who taught me primarily because everyone else thought he was so great—but I did it. I tried to hold off still a little longer because my sister had predicted a few months before all of this that I would be a member by the end of the year and I hated the thought that she was going to be right. However, I wanted my cousin to sing at my baptism and she was going back to college, so on December 29, 1972, my Uncle Harley baptized me into the true Church.

Friday, April 29, 2005

That Old Black Magic (an update)

Police discloses name of black magic woman
Police yesterday disclosed the identity of the woman who performed black magic on the seat of a Superior Court judge. Department of Public Safety spokesman Eric David said that Anna Joseph Paul, a Pohnpeian, would be charged with conspiracy along with her alleged cohort, David Yanneris. Yanneris, another Pohnpeian facing five traffic charges before Lizama's courtroom, allegedly ordered Paul to put the judge under a spell so that the magistrate would be lenient with him. David said Yanneris would be charged with criminal mischief. Citing an investigation report, David said Paul smeared soil substance on the judge's chair, microphone and desk area last Monday. Crime scene probers went to the courthouse Monday to take photographs of the microphone, seat cushion, and desk calendar that were stained with a dark substance. "The substance was made to make the judge feel sorry for the defendant [Yanneris]," the DPS spokesman said. "Mr. Yanneris had used the substance numerous times and it had worked." After the court's Marshal officers turned over Paul to police Monday, lawmen released her from custody because she was the only one attending to her kids, the spokesman said. Jess Santos, the chief of the court's Marshal Service, spotted the woman and Yanneris through the courthouse's security cameras and video monitor. Yanneris stayed at the public entrance of Lizama's courtroom, as Paul performed her black magic on the judge's seat while the courtroom was empty. The incident happened before noontime last Monday on the day Yanneris was scheduled to attend an afternoon hearing on five traffic charges, including driving under the influence of alcohol and reckless driving. Santos accosted the woman at the courthouse's lobby and asked her about the incident, before turning her over to police.
Story by Contributing author

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

That Old Black Magic!

Here is an example taken from an article in yesterday's Saipan Tribune of beliefs that are still prevalent in the cultures of the western Pacific Islands:

Black magic woman caught

Police is investigating a woman who allegedly performed black magic on a Superior Court judge's seat while the courtroom was empty. Unknown to the woman, the Marshal's office was monitoring her activities through security cameras. Police reportedly arrested the woman shortly, but it did not disclose the person's identity nor that of the judge as of press time.

The woman allegedly poured a black substance on a judge's seat, desk, and microphone. The Marshal's office later took custody of the judge's seat cushion, desk calendar and microphone, which showed dark stains. Superstitious practices that persist in the Northern Marianas believe that a type of black magic may inflict pain on the person who gets in contact with the substance. It is also believed to put the person under a magic spell, controlling his decisions.

As of press time, the police did not specify the charges that could be brought against the woman. The Department of Public Safety's crime scene investigators responded to the courthouse yesterday to probe the case. Crime scene investigator Joey M. Benavente went to the Marshal's office, where he took photographs of the stained microphone, desk calendar and seat cushion. Marshal officers said that their chief, Jess Santos, spotted the woman on the video monitor, while she was allegedly doing her incantations. Santos, however, could not be interviewed yesterday, as he attended a jury selection process in the afternoon in connection with a criminal trial.

Story by John Ravelo

Saipan Photos

Del Benson - Saipan

If you're interested, click on the link above for some beautiful photographs of the island of Saipan. This is the website of our branch president and good friend Del Benson.
If you look closely at the picture of Justin in the elephant ears (blown up for the occasion!), you'll see Alexa peeking out from behind a "tree". And in the photo taken at Talafofo Falls, Mal is crouching right in the middle of the picture. Oh--and if you think you see Del wink at you--you did! Take a look around the rest of the site; you may find another Conner here and there...Enjoy!

Friday, April 22, 2005

I thought you might like to see this picture of Mal's Japanese class. . . she's in the middle. . . . (click for a larger pic.)

Sunday, April 17, 2005


I taught the kids to play "Mille-Bornes" Friday, so the three youngest ones have been at Casey and me to play this weekend. Ezra is all excited right now because he just won a hand. He tells me that he had a "Puncture Proof" safety card in his hand and so proceeded to plead with Eden to give him a "popped tire." As he says, he "koo-foorayed her."
Yesterday afternoon we all went to the Flametree Arts Festival at American Memorial Park. It's always fun to be there with the island music and dancers and the smoky barbecues wafting their delicious smells throughout. It's colorful and crowded and usually very muggy, but yesterday it was just beautiful with a pleasant off-shore breeze. The kids got their annual allotment of cotton candy, and we all had sticks of barbecued chicken and pork for supper. Mallory and Kaitlyn walked around with some of Mal's friends and bought a couple of shell necklaces and had their picture taken.
Alexa called the other day to tell me that she got a supervisor job for the summer with the Acadia Corporation in Bar Harbor (actually, I think the place she'll be working is in Salisbury Cove). Mallory had an interview that night with the same company, and we think she'll probably be hired as well.
I am concerned about Alexa driving cross-country this summer by herself, especially because she's been having some back trouble. It sounds like she has a pinched nerve--maybe sciatica. I'm hoping that Levi can fly out to Texas and drive with her.

Thursday, April 07, 2005


Early Wednesday morning, around 3:30 a.m., the volcano on Anatahan erupted with an ash plume that went 50,000 feet high! We're about 75 miles south of there, and it took a bit for us to figure out what was going on. As the sun came up, I could see light all around the horizon, but overhead it was very dark--it looked so strange! All I could think of was a lid coming down on a pot. Later, when I went out to go downtown, my windshield looked as if someone had put a handful of mud on it and it had all slid down and accumulated on my windshield wiper. Here is a picture from today's Saipan Tribune.

7 a.m. to 12 p.m. Wednesday, April 6, 2005

Monday, April 04, 2005

The "Eddie-Factor"

Sunday morning in Church we were getting ready to sing the Sacrament hymn ("I Stand All Amazed"), and I played the introduction and Taylor Smith (the chorister), began the song and man! I didn't know what the problem was, but Taylor and I were half way through the first line while the congregation was still singing the first word! They were really dragging. Taylor had to actually hesitate to wait for them to catch up to her and I had to drop a few notes to adjust, and they did finally pick it up a little bit.
Later on, I asked Casey what he thought might have happened that everything got soooo off--it was as if the congregation didn't even know we were there. He said, "Two words: the Eddie-Factor." Oh well, I can't fault somebody because they love to sing... Casey's usually singing just as loudly and can balance him out, but this time he was adminstering at the Sacrament table. Well, if Brother E. can lead an entire congregation over a piano and a chorister, he'll be a shoo-in for Branch President someday!

Friday, April 01, 2005

"Whatsoever Things Are True..."

I am at a loss to understand "authorities" (not General Authorities), who publish paper after paper, book after book on their "research" as to where the Book of Mormon supposedly takes place and who the descendents of the Book of Mormon people are.

First of all, we are told in the Book of Mormon that the whole face of the land was changed by the destructive events that are recorded in 3rd Nephi. How can researchers, at least LDS researchers who believe the record to be a true account (and hey, maybe I'm the one making assumptions), assume that landmarks referred to in the Book of Mormon prior to those events are even in existence today? Why are they looking for rivers and other physical features that may have been gone a very long time ago? Even without the natural disasters recorded in the book, the lay of the land changes over a long period of time. In a place we used to live in Maine, there was a tarn at the base of a small mountain that we passed daily. In the seven years that we lived there, the tarn went from being a pretty little pond to almost being able to mow it! Granted, it's a miniscule example, but I could hardly give a personal attestation to the effects of thousands of years. It makes my point--physical things change! (Had a look in the mirror lately?)

Also, it seems to me that the words spoken by the Lord and his prophets concerning these things are largely ignored in favor of the discoveries of men. Joseph Smith, Jr., who even the most diehard history "expert" would have to agree was the foremost authority on the Book of Mormon, seemed to have somewhat general ideas on where the Book of Mormon peoples were. Yet, once a person is dead, meanings of words and writings can be manipulated to support almost any theory. We do it to the Founders on a regular basis ("...the Founding Fathers did not intend..."or "...the Founding Fathers fully expected..."), and to the Bible as a matter of course.

All truth is important, but is it all equally important? And is it equally important at the same time and in the same situation? The Book of Mormon tells us that by the power of the Holy Ghost, we may know the truth of all things. I don't believe any of the researchers and authors will be able to "prove" their theories or fully substantiate their research until the purpose of the book is fulfilled--to testify to all the nations of the earth that Jesus is the Christ and through faith on his name we can be saved.

Sunday, March 27, 2005

Dance Class

Mallory is teaching Jacob to dance. Why? Because our teenagers have been invited to a birthday party for Taylor Smith this Friday which includes a dance...and Jacob wants to dance. Why? Because Jacob is interested in girls and dancing and the Fifties...its a Fifties Dance. We bought the movie, Bye, Bye Birdie and he has been sold on the decade ever since. Jake still keeps in touch with a girl he met in Maine last summer and likes to talk with his friends about girls in the branch. The reason I am so intrigued by this is that of the 5 kids who have entered into their teenage years so far in our home, this is the first one that has openly shared many of their ponderings on boy-girl relations. I thought for a while that the other kids didn't have any--just sweet and innocent--I was dumb. Jacob wants to know if he's good-looking, if any girl has shown an interest in him to any of his friends, if he is creating any buzz. He and his friends talk about which girls are nice, cute, etc. I was interested tonight to hear him talking with Mallory about which girl in the branch he and/or his friends think is the cutest and I asked what about this particular girl. He said that although she was really pretty, she watches a lot of R-rated movies and does things that he didn't think were very good. As Mallory put it, "Pretty, but not attractive." Sounds discriminating--a good thing that I hope will continue. For now, I just enjoy watching them dance.

Monday, March 21, 2005


As Easter arrives again, I am impressed once more by the sacredness I feel around this holiday. Here is a quote from the April 2005 New Era by President Boyd K. Packer:
"The Lord provides ways to pay our debts to Him. In one sense we ourselves may participate in an atonement. When we are willing to restore to others that which we have not taken, or heal wounds that we did not inflict, or pay a debt that we did not incur, we are emulating His part in the Atonement."
Returning good for evil--a simple concept, yet so difficult in practice. It's no wonder that sins and mistakes and errors were a foregone conclusion. A savior needed to rescue us from... ourselves.

Sunday, March 20, 2005

An Ezra-ism

An excerpt from a letter Casey sent to Levi and Alexa:

We were at the dinner table tonight and the conversation turned to some comments on your Great-Great-Grandfather Higgins (your Great-Grammy Boone's father). Your mother was telling the family how his wife had died in childbirth and he had gone on to raise 9 kids on his own. Kaitlyn asked how he could raise a baby if there was no mother to feed it; Ezra asked about how babies eat. "I've never seen a baby eat. How do they eat Mom?" Mallory answered that the mother feeds them with her milk. He looked confused and then Mom said that the mother holds the baby like this (as she cradled her arms across herself). Ezra said "So how does the baby eat?" Mom said, "From the mother's breast." Ezra stopped for a moment and then sat upright and looked across the table at Mallory while placing his hands on his chest and with raised eyebrows says "These?" "Yeah" I said. "Look Ez, after a woman has a baby, her breast makes milk that comes out of her nipples and the baby drinks it." Then Ezra turned and looked straight at mom's chest for a few moments with a slightly surprised look on his face. It was so funny we couldn't help but laugh, which rarely bothers Ezra. He is a funny little guy.

Sunday, March 13, 2005

All The Things I Never Thought of before, I Learned in Saipan

  • Green coconuts are better than brown coconuts.
  • Not all halls have walls.
  • A banana is the berry of an herb.
  • Just about anything can be pickled.
  • All Americans are wealthy and have it easy.
  • Lips can be used as pointers.
  • There are Filipenos, Filipenas, and Filipenonas.
  • A beautiful face can be ruined by a smile.
  • A baby's sex can be decided after birth.
  • People who speak other languages don't understand their own countrymen's accented English any better than I do.
  • You don't have to know someone--at all--to marry them.
  • A sniff is as good as a kiss.
  • Many young Japanese have orange hair.
  • There are male cows.
  • Dogs can tell if you've ever eaten one.
  • Cattle rustling is alive and well.
  • In the Atlantic-a hurricane; in the Pacific-a typhoon; in the Indian-a cyclone.
  • Typhoons come from the east, tsunamis from the west.
  • Some places only have two seasons: hotter and cooler.

Wednesday, March 02, 2005

A Very Special Visit

Last night we had a very special evening here in our little Saipan Branch of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. We were visited by President Boyd K. Packer, the acting president of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, and Elder David A. Bednar, also of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles.
President Packer and Elder Bednar were on Saipan for a re-fueling stop on their way back from meeting with government officials in the tsunami-ravaged areas of Indonesia. They were scheduled to be on island for only 45 minutes, but they wanted to make the 15 minute trip to the chapel to meet with us and we were thrilled!
There were about 150-200 in the chapel for the 6 P.M. meeting, but we soon found out that their arrival had been delayed until 6:30. When they finally arrived at 6:45, we were all seated as we had been instructed and rose as they took the stand. We had been told no greetings, no handshaking, no photos, no questions because of no time...that was okay with us, we were happy just to have this opportunity.

After the opening hymn and prayer, Elder Bednar spoke. It was wonderful. He talked mainly to the young people and encouraged them to exercise their faith and not be afraid in this day of disasters and upheaval. He said that when he was young, the U.S. went through the Cuban Missile Crisis and he used to wonder if the world would end before he'd have a chance to meet the girl of his dreams or see what his children would look like. Then he instructed us to listen carefully while he read Helaman 5:12. That's such a powerful scripture...I don't know how the rest of the world gets by without the Book of Mormon. Anyway, he also made a point of speaking about agency and read Moses 7: 32-33. He reminded us that agency wasn't a free-for-all of doing whatever, wherever, whenever. We were given our agency in order to choose to follow God. He also talked to the young men about preparing now to be missionaries. He emphasized that he was not just talking about going on a mission--getting a mission call, wearing a white shirt and name tag--but being missionaries.
After the meeting, both Jacob and Mallory confided to us that they had often worried about the same things that Elder Bednar had talked about and his words were a great strength and comfort to them. I had no idea that they worried about those things and it has made me wonder how many other youth have those same concerns.

Next, President Packer spoke. He pointed out to us that it was a very unusual event to have two apostles at a meeting like this because their assignments just never allow them to do that. He told about a time a little more than 60 years ago when he landed on the island of Tinian during WWII. (Tinian is only about 3 miles from Saipan and we can see it easily from here--in fact, many people who live on Tinian take the ferry to their jobs on Saipan.) It was quite a dramatic story in which their navigator lost their way, they had to drop below the clouds to get their bearings and realized that they had flown into a typhoon, and they did a "square search" (a method of flying in a tightly controlled grid pattern) to try to find an island on which to land. When they did finally land, as they went down the runway there on Tinian, each of their engines cut out one by one as they ran out of fuel! The amazing thing about the story was that President Packer wasn't afraid during that flight because he had sung in his mind the words of a favorite hymn and that had strengthened him and helped him to stay calm. For those of us who are older, we know that this is a favorite counsel from President Packer, but since last night Kaitlyn, Sam, and Jacob have all picked out hymns to help them keep control of their thoughts.
Both of the Apostles said that the destruction in Banda Aceh is indescribable. President Packer said that he and Elder Bednar had decided that they wouldn't even try to describe it to the brethren because it was impossible. He said that the only other time in his life he had seen anything like it was in bombed-out Tokyo during the war. Elder Bednar said that the pictures in the papers and on t.v. don't even come close to portraying the reality.
Both of the Apostles also left Apostolic blessings on us. It's hard for me to remember all of the things they said, but the one thing that stood out most in my mind was that we were blessed with understanding. That is so important, especially here. Understanding the scriptures, the gospel principles, how to use them and integrate them into our lives. Understanding each others' cultures, speech, relationships--I was so struck when they said that! With understanding comes tolerance and brotherhood--it's so important. They also blessed us that we would not fear, but would be strong in the gospel.
We were so happy--and although they had already flown all that way, only had 45 minutes on the ground, and were due to speak at BYU Hawaii in just a few hours (that's still another 8-10 hours of flying ahead for them), these wonderful men had graciously stayed with us for 40 minutes! At the end of President Packer's talk, he looked back at Elder Bednar and said, "I would think that we would have the authority to stay a little longer!" I know that Sister Benson had encouraged her Institute class to pray that they would be able to stay longer than the 20-30 minutes that we expected and of course the Spirit was very strong as those prayers were answered, but there was more to come! After we had sung the closing hymn--"God Be with You till We Meet Again"--and many of us were a little teary-eyed, President Packer stood up again and with great emotion told us that he guessed they did have the authority and that they felt they wanted to shake hands with everyone there because of the great love they felt for us. Then, my friend Ann Cabael, gave the most beautiful and heartfelt closing prayer--I was overwhelmed; the simple, honest spirit of that prayer moved me very much. Everyone in the room got to shake hands with President Packer and Elder Bednar before they left and last of all they stopped at the piano on their way out and shook hands with me. In all, the Apostles had sacrificed an hour of their time for us.

Today, our CES supervisor and Area Authority Seventy, Elder Pita F. Hopoate, spoke to the Early Morning Seminary class. He reminded us of the feelings the Nephites had when it was time for the Lord to leave them, and that, as Christ's representatives, the blessings the Apostles gave us, including staying to shake our hands, were directed by the Lord. He said that he felt having two Apostles here was a direct fulfillment of the promises the Lord makes in 2 Nephi 29: 7 and 2 Nephi 10: 20-21 concerning the isles of the sea. He also pointed out that because everyone attending had been so obedient to the instructions we had been given, i.e., arrive and be seated ahead of time, no photos, etc., that we had been blessed to have the Apostles stay longer than their schedule allowed: Faith + Obedience = Miracles. I'm thankful that I was a witness to all of that equation last night.

Monday, February 28, 2005

Coming to Saipan

I was recently asked to write down what brought us to Saipan, so I thought I would post it here.

What brought us to Saipan? God brought us here.
My husband came out from his personal prayers one day and said that he felt that it was time for him to start looking for a new job. He was the head of facilities and engineering at Mount Desert Island Hospital in Bar Harbor, Maine. We loved it there--it's beautiful and it was only a two-hour drive from our families. Since he had often expressed the idea that Mount Desert would be our permanent home, I thought something must be wrong at work. When I asked him, however, he said that everything was fine and he was as surprised about the inspiration he was receiving in his prayers as I was.
We started looking in newspapers, trade journals, and the internet. After about a month of searching, we found a position on one internet site that said something along the lines of "work on a beautiful tropical island". Right. It had been posted 4 months before, and I told Casey that I thought that it was a "phantom job"--the type of thing you see on the internet that nobody actually gets. He wanted to apply anyway, so he did.
That all happened at the end of January 2000. In April of that year, Casey got a call one night from a lady at the Commonwealth Health Center on the island of Saipan in the Commonwealth of The Northern Mariana Islands. They had quite a lengthy conversation and she started talking to him about coming out for a site visit within a month, but which actually took place at the end of August. As that summer dragged on without hearing from anyone at the Health Center, we began to think that this was a lost cause and we should turn our effort in some other direction. Yet, whenever Casey prayed about it, he felt that he should just be patient and hang in there with Saipan.
One day I related to him a strange experience I had had the week before. I had been wondering about what it would be like to live on a tropical island, and suddenly I experienced a--sensation? I'm not sure what to call it, but I knew what it was to live on Saipan...not the laying-on-a-white-sandy-beach kind of living, but the day-to-day living...almost as if I were remembering instead wondering about it! It was very different than just thinking about something--I don't ever recall having an experience like it before or since. The thing that really amazed me, was that Casey related an almost identical experience he had had about a week before mine. When I told a friend about the incidents, she looked at me and simply stated, "You're leaving." This was in July and we hadn't heard from the Health Center since May.
There were many other things that happened--prayers answered, obstacles removed--that brought us eventually to Saipan. We arrived here in January of 2001; a year after we first saw the "phantom job" on the internet. Sometimes I still wonder why the Lord brought us here, but I never wonder if He did--because I know He did.

Monday, February 21, 2005

Quote and Re-quote

I found this on our niece's blog. The following is a brief excerpt from the biography entitled, Fire in the Bones: William Tyndale--Martyr, Father of the English Bible , by S. Michael Wilcox. My own feelings on the depth of expression found in the KJV of the Bible were so completely contained in Wilcox's words that I wanted to include it. She relates that 90% of Tyndale's translation was used in the KJV. She also includes an illustrative sample from the book. Thanks to you Lindsay.

"If the medium does not match the holiness of the message, the sacred truth is compromised. Beauty of expression helps us live a holier life, instilling faith and courage much like music."
--S. Michael Wilcox
Wilcox includes a comparison between two versions of Matthew 14:28-33, Tyndale's version vs. The Phillips Modern English version. The difference is striking. Here is a brief sample:

"Phillips Modern: "But when he saw the fury of the wind he panicked and began to sink, calling out, 'Lord save me!' At once Jesus reached out his hand and caught him, saying, 'You little-faith! What made you lose your nerve like that?"

"Tyndale: "But when he saw a mightily wind, he was afraid. And as he began to sink, he cried saying: Master save me. And immediately Jesus stretched forth his hand, and caught him, and said to him: O thou of little faith: wherefore didst thou doubt?"

Is the KJV harder for us to understand than more modern versions? Probably, but maybe by having to work harder we will gain more. My experience is that the scriptures are multi-layered in their meaning and with lesser language I wonder if we only scratch the surface--if that. As a society that has belief in the power of the written word, we must realize the importance of choosing the right words. And if we have learned nothing else of language in the past 10 years, we have learned that great variance in meaning can be attached to even the smallest of words!

Sunday, February 20, 2005

Callings and Blessings

I was sustained by the membership of our local branch of the Church today to be the branch pianist. After all of the meetings, I asked the branch president and his counselor if I could be set-apart and be given a blessing before I had to go in to choir rehearsal. I knew that they had a lot to do and there had been a lot of changes in the branch organization that day, but I felt like I really wanted that blessing. We went into the branch president's office and Brother Lonsdale, the counselor, set me apart (for the calling). The first part of the blessing was for the ability to play the music and that the family would behave while I was at the piano. Then, unexpectedly, the blessing turned to the importance of maintaining a relationship and contact with my extended family. I've thought about it all afternoon. On Friday, in Seminary, we started this year's Book of Mormon Project, so I've been praying about to whom I should give my copy. I had thought about writing a very personal testimony in it and sending it to my father, and now since that blessing, I feel like that is what I should do. I don't know that it will make him jump into taking the discussions from the missionaries and get baptized, but it is a good thing, and I need to be doing all the good things I can.

Sunday, February 13, 2005

Saipan Movie Premier!

Friday night we went to the Saipan premiere of "Baptists at Our Barbecue". It was so much fun, because a friend of ours, Matt Smith, was co-producer and co-screenplay writer for the movie. It's based on a book by the same name written by his brother. We really enjoyed the book and had so much fun going to the movie! Matt and his family arrived at the show in a white stretch limo. As a congratulations gift we gave him a 5 pound Hershey's bar that we found at a local store; Del Benson, another friend and a photographer, took our picture with Matt and the candy bar in the lobby in front of one of the movie's posters. When Matt walked into the actual theater it was packed and everybody cheered and clapped, which they did again when his name appeared in the credits and when we saw his son as an extra on the screen. It was just so much fun--it wasn't the best movie I've ever seen at the theater, but it's definitely the most fun I've ever had at the theater! I wonder if this is how they feel in Hollywood!

Sunday, February 06, 2005

Receiving Revelation

In our Sunday School class today we talked about what it feels like to receive communication/revelation from the Holy Ghost. I thought about the times I have been sitting in church listening to a speaker, or even when just having a conversation with someone, and I suddenly become very focused. It's not quite the same feeling of having my attention riveted when discussing some interesting subject; the only way I can explain it is to say that my senses are heightened. When this happens, I feel very intensely that whatever the speaker just said was true (or not true), and that the Holy Ghost "has born witness to my soul" of it.
I've been thinking a lot about this phenomenon. I know that God is a God of truth--that His perceptions are pure and accurate and not distorted or misconceived in any way. The scriptures say that all things are constantly before Him--things as they were, are, and will be. I also know that God wants us to learn truth and to make right choices, but although truth is eternal, right choices often depend on the situation. I believe that as we receive communication from the Holy Ghost, our perception of any given situation becomes clear and accurate--after all, this is communication with God--and as that happens we come to understand truths and know the right choices to make.

Saturday, February 05, 2005


We just had an earthquake here! I was at Price Costco; the kids and Casey were all at home. I had stopped a minute to look at my list and as I leaned on my cart, I felt a vibration. It occurred to me that it could be an earthquake, but it wasn't much and since I was near the shipping door, I figured that it was probably a forklift or something outside. As I started to push my cart again the tremor really came on and the whole building started to rock! People were rushing toward the front--I mean in these warehouse merchants you could have a television fall on your head if you're not careful! I stayed near the shipping door--I thought that was probably safer than going by all the shelves toward the front. It stopped in a few seconds, but it was a while before I could get a phone call out to see if everyone at home was okay. On the way home, I still needed one more thing, but the grocery store was closing so they could clean up the jars, bottles, and boxes that were broken in the aisles. Everyone at home was alright. There have been several earthquakes in the area lately--there was one south of here that measured 6.2 on Thursday (I didn't feel that one.) Of course, people here are concerned about the possibility of a tsunami, but it would have to be quite an earthquake to send a wave that could get through the Marianas Trench!

Tuesday, February 01, 2005

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate.
Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.
It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us.
We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented and fabulous?
Actually, who are you not to be?
You are a child of God.
Your playing small doesn't serve the world.
We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us.
It's not just in some of us; it's in everyone.
And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same.
As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.
--Marianne Williamson

Sunday, January 30, 2005

Happenings in the Branch

We are members of the Saipan Branch of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Today we had branch conference and President Bill Steyskal was released and Del Benson was installed as the new branch president. The Benson's have been here off and on for 10+ years and Brother and Sister Benson have a great love for this branch. They're a lot of fun and are loved and respected by all the people here who know them. I know this is going to be a challenge for them, but a lot of blessings come with it, too. While we were sustaining the new presidency today (Randy Lonsdale and Roger Pelagio as counselors), I made a commitment to myself that I would be as supportive to them as possible and do everything I can to help move the Lord's work along wherever I am.

Peoples and Prejudices

One of my favorite things about Saipan is the varied peoples and cultures represented here on the island. The largest part of the population (which is somewhere around 70,000), is Chinese garment workers and Filipeno technicians and domestics. Probably the next groups after that are other Micronesian islanders, Chamorros and Carolinians (the indigenous groups), then Japanese and Americans, then everyone else. I believe the Chinese and Filipenos make up about 50% of the population.
One of my least favorite things about Saipan is the prejudice that I see in some Americans toward their own culture. It's hard for me to understand and I think it's probably puzzling to people from other nations as well. Many American expatriates have a tendency to make very disparaging comments about the U.S., I guess as a way to explain why they are living here instead of there. Why can't Saipan be wonderful and beautiful and the U.S. (mainland) be wonderful and beautiful as well? I've moved around a lot in my married life...we've lived in Maine, Utah, Florida, and Saipan. We've made a lot of friends in those places--people who are kind, considerate, thoughtful, and trying to do the best they can. On the other hand, we've met a few jerks. It doesn't seem to me like any one place has a corner on any one kind of person. That goes for the government as well...the U.S. has problems and guess what? Saipan has problems!
Enjoy where you are and find the good you is too short for anything else.