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.