Friday, August 29, 2008

Sweet, Sweet Service

This last week was our last working as ordinance workers in the Columbia, SC temple. Most temples are built on a hill or somewhere that can be seen from the interstate. Our temple is very small and you could be a quarter of a mile away and still not see the temple because of all the trees and kudzu. We've worked there a little over a year now and the blessings have been tremendous! Above all is the knowledge we've gained. I have learned more about the gospel just by working in the temple, than I ever have in my 23 years of being raised in the church. It's such a different experience being a worker than being a regular patron.

I've come to have a greater understanding of the scripture D&C 88:119-120 "Organize yourselves; prepare every needful thing; and establish a house even a house of prayer, a house of fasting, a house of faith, a house of learning, a house of glory, a house of order, a house of God; That your incomings may be in the name of the Lord; that your outgoings may be in the name of the Lord; that all your salutations may be in the name of the Lord, with uplifted hands unto the Most High." Indeed the temple truly is a house of prayer, fasting, faith, learning, glory, order, and the house of God. I have learned more about the doctrines of the church, both basic and complex, and have had more questions answered as I've petitioned the Lord in His house and observed the service of those around me. I have learned a deeper meaning of love for our brothers and sisters. I have a greater appreciation for the early saints who were persecuted and pushed from place to place, yet still had the determination and faith to finish building the Nauvoo temple using their own and only fine belongings. I've been humbled to see strangers walk into the entry doors, yet its as though I've known them my whole life as my heart just swelled with love for them. I have learned how, especially the female workers, pay such special attention to every little detail. These are details that previously as a patron I had never even noticed nor thought of. But the workers of the temple have the number one priority of the patrons always in the forefront of their minds, and that is the comfort of the patrons. I have come to love the ladies I worked with as my own grandmothers. I'm so grateful for the experiences I've had in working with the special patrons that come through every week and also with the other ordinance workers. We've been so blessed as a family and I'm so thankful for the opportunity to work there.

I'd just like to share a few experiences that were simple but had a lasting impact on me. Towards the end of my shift several months ago, my last assignment was officiating in initiatory. It was a spanish saturday so most of the patrons spoke spanish. Afterward, I saw the same particular sister in the waiting room with her five children. Seeing they were getting a bit rambuncious, she gathered them in a circle around her on the floor and began to sing I Love to See the Temple in spanish. I was deeply touched by these precious children and their faithful mother. I saw that temple service not only blessed this mother but all her children as well and I cannot wait for the day I can do the same with my children. On another occasion I was assigned to help a woman in an endowment session. She had severe anxiety and over the past years, has made remarkable progress being able to come to the temple, not to mention even being in public at all. I also have anxiety so when she had a panic attack I knew how to help her calm down and gain enough composure to finish the session. I thought that maybe I was given the trial of anxiety so that I'd know how to help and comfort those with the same. For once, I was finally grateful for that trial because I would rather have anxiety all my life, to help this one woman in the temple, than not have it at all and not know how to help her.

Last weekend the Twin Falls temple was dedicated (I'm sorely sad we missed the open house and dedication) and I cannot wait to walk on those temple grounds and to be within the walls of that holy edifice. I am still in awe at the fact that it won't take two whole hours to drive to the temple, only 5 minutes. Holy cow, what a blessing! Especially looking at the faithful members of the church here who drive two hours just to go to stake conference, not to mention the even lengthier drive to the temple. I would like to share a quote by our beloved prophet, Gordon B. Hinckley:

"I urge you, my brethren and sisters, to utilize the temples of the Church.
Go there and carry forward the great and marvelous work which the God of heaven has outlined for us. There let us learn of His ways and His plans. There let us make covenants that will lead us in paths of righteousness, unselfishness, and truth. There let us be joined as families under an eternal covenant administered under the authority of the priesthood of God. And there may we extend these same blessings to those of previous generations, even our own forebears who await the service which we can now give. May the blessings of heaven rest upon you, my beloved brethren and sisters. May the Spirit of Elijah touch your hearts and prompt you to do that work for others who cannot move forward unless you do so. May we rejoice in the glorious privilege that is ours."

Monday, August 25, 2008

And The Verdict Is...

Lance returned home last night after a three night stay in Atlanta with some friends. So the biggest question is, did absence really make the heart grow fonder? Of course! Don't get me wrong, I more than thoroughly enjoyed having the house to myself, eating what I wanted and lounging around in my under garments all day. But what good is it to have a house and snack on chocolate without having someone there to share it with and gawk at me in my underwear? I was so excited to see him walk through the door. Let me share with you my feelings by showing my favorite picture by Jack Vettriano.

Friday, August 22, 2008

What's A Girl To Do?

Lance decided to go with our good friends, Matt and Krystal Tipping, to Atlanta for the weekend. Why? Because he had Friday off of work, because he could, and because I urged him to. You know the saying, "absence makes the heart grow fonder?" Well I'm really hoping that saying is true! Not because we're sick of each other or need some time apart, but its nice to just have some "me" time every now and then.

So what's a girl to do with all this freedom?
Do I even need to mention craft projects, because I think that's a given!

What's a girl to eat without having to cook dinner for the family?
I think I've previously explained my absolute need for chocolate chips.

What does a girl wear when she doesn't have anyone to dress up for?
Do I honestly need to answer that? Who needs to wear clothes when nobody's around!

In summary, I feel about like this.

Monday, August 18, 2008

The Gentle Giant

Meet Ray. He's a guy in our ward who is huge. He's about 6'7" and at least 300 pounds, he's not heavy set by any means just tall and plain huge. (Imagine you're my size, 5'1", very petite and short. Yep, he's like a giant to me). For months, Ray has been inviting us over for dinner and we've been so excited to go because from what we hear, he's an amazing cook. He and Lance are home teaching companions and all Ray ever talks about is how gourmet his sunday dinner was or his lovely dessert, etc. We've been to his house only once and that was to drop him off from church. He invited us in to show us around and it is immaculately clean. He had black porcelain dolls carefully placed on the couch, the lace table cloth on his coffee table was perfectly even all the way around, and his walls were bare but he had pictures stacked up by the floor. We thought maybe he was still in the early stages of decorating so Lance asked him why he hasn't hung up his pictures yet. Ray said, "Look at that wall! It's such a pretty white wall, I can't cover it up with my pictures, it's just so beautiful!" Of course he had to show us his kitchen where he works his magic and on the little wall above the sink, he had placed tons of the stickers that come on fruit, they were all in a perfect group on the wall below the cabinet. Lance and I got a kick out of that (you can see them in this picture). While we were walking out the door and I noticed in his end tables he had stacks and I mean STACKS of every cooking magazine you've ever heard of. My thinking that cooking is a hobby of his was a definite understatement!

With that preface, Ray invited over four couples and the missionaries (mind you, he's a member) over for sunday dinner. He had his black gospel music playing, the table was all set up buffet style with Okra soup, potato salad, turkey and swiss cheese rolls with a pretzel through the middle, broccoli salad with bacon, and green salad for appetizers. The missionaries had to leave early and so did two of the other couples so it was just Lance and I with the Tippings (the most hilarious couple we've ever met). Ray hadn't even served the main course yet so I felt really bad that almost everybody left early but that feeling quickly dissipated because that meant more food for us. (I know, I'm selfish). Ray then served an herb roasted chicken with the most delicious ham and spinach stuffing I've ever tasted and rich gravy. Then he brought out yummy, golden brown ranch chicken wings. Mmmmmmmm!! I was able to shoot a video of him doing a cooking demonstration for us on how to make this pound cake with mandarin oranges, peaches, pears, cherries, and strawberries topped with cook whip. Oh so good! He also had two different kinds of ice cream cake that he made along with the most outrageously large selection of beverages you've ever seen. While we were being served the different courses at a time Ray was in the kitchen just cooking away, having a ball. We finally convinced him to come sit down and eat, so while he did that I snuck away and started doing the dishes. Instead of everybody keeping the same plate for each dish, we were instructed to get a new plate and utensil for everything. As you can imagine there was quite a stack of dishes and I was relieved to see he had a dishwasher. I opened it and it looked completely brand new and unused. Lance asked Ray if he uses his dishwasher and Ray said, "No I usually wash them by hand because I do a much better job at cleaning than dishwashers do." So I washed as many as he'd let me.

Krystal Tipping with the finished pound cake dessert topped with all sorts of fruit and cool whip. It was delicious!

Ray bringing out his herb roasted chicken.

I don't think I've ever had a sunday dinner that was prepared with so much glee and humility. Ray was just ecstatic to have company over and to show us all his cooking skills. Every now and then he'd poke his head out of the kitchen with a gadget and tell us what it's used for and why we need to purchase it. We tried to convince him to open his own restaurant because that's not just a skill that he's learned, that is a God given gift! I cannot describe how tasty and delicious everything was. I mean it was just a huge buffet table of yummy food. It felt like a holiday! Ray was just tickled pink and so excited to have friends over. He lives by himself and every now and then his mother visits him so I think he gets lonely at times but he's the most humble man I know and I know that Heavenly Father takes special interest and care of him, especially on matters that he's not too keen about. We call him The Gentle Giant because he's just this big teddy bear that's all heart from head to toe.

Before one of the other couples left early, Ray ran upstairs to get a gift for Michelle (who's expecting her first baby so I assumed it was a baby gift). He came back down with this box and said, "Now I know you're married, but I know the minute I saw you, you were the biggest sweetheart I've ever seen. So I was in the store and I saw this doll and I knew I just had to get it for you." She opened it and it was a porcelain doll in a beautiful wedding dress. It was the sweetest gesture and gift I've ever seen. We were all so overcome with a full and tender love for this man. He's honestly the sweetest man I've ever met.

I think I learned more about the gospel just being in his home than I learned in all of church yesterday. He's amazing. The dinner was definitely a defining moment in my life. I was just aghast to see his understanding of life and the gospel. All the lessons I've learned of the principles of the gospel were confirmed to me tenfold by the way Ray lives his life and it was a treasure for me to be reminded again of the small and simple things in life. The service he gave yesterday was not just about inviting over several friends and cooking a gourmet dinner. He uplifted our spirits in a way that no one else could. He showed and added a greater and deeper meaning to the word humility. He is a testimony to me that Heavenly Father does have a hand in our lives, and not just during the large, life changing moments such as job opportunities, school, children, etc. But He's mindful of even the small, piddly, trivial things such as the ugly cockroach in the kitchen that freaks me out or the fact that I have an extremely obnoxious mosquito bite on my little toe. He taught me the still small voice is felt not always heard, and that love is an expression of selflessness. Thank you Ray for giving us a gift that no one else could.

Monday, August 11, 2008

New Addition to the Family

Saturday Lance gave me the look with the puppy dog eyes. I know, you'd think after three years of marriage I'd get used to it and have some sort of defense look I could shoot back at him. But I heard him out and..............we got a pet. Now I explained to him that this yearning for something to cuddle with and play with and take care of something that will love him back, is a guy's way of saying, "hey, I think I want a baby." But he denied that fact even though he doesn't have me convinced.

A few months ago Lance bought a ten gallon fish tank on craigslist for $10. Not a bad price for something that would sell retail around $90. We don't want fish, they stink, they're boring, they can't do tricks, and you can't pet them. So I reluctantly let Lance buy the fish tank. (I'll also mention a few posts ago when we went to the auction, we were there with the sole purpose and intent to buy an old vintage trunk. Well, yall know we had two bunnies before we moved to Charleston and gave them away before we moved. At the auction, not only did we not find an old vintage trunk, but the only thing we {LANCE} bid on was a gigantic, practically new rabbit hutch. I will admit, it's very large and very nice, but did I mention it's large and we're moving shortly? It was a steal, Lance bought it for $15 and the retail price is about $200). So here we are with an empty fish tank and an empty, LARGE rabbit hutch.

After Lance gave me the puppy dogs eyes I gave in and we went to the pet store and bought a hamster. Yes, that's what Lance had in mind to occupy the fish tank, a hamster. He's reddish brown with a few white spots and alright! He is a cute little thing, I admit it! Lance made him a little house out of an empty oatmeal box and we got him a red ball to roll around the floor in. It's so cute! Or should I say, she's so cute! That's right, she's a female but we just cannot get into our heads that it isn't male because all little creatures are male in our minds. Therefore we had many a discussion regarding what to name our little guy. I had the idea of giving it a Charlestonian name and with Lance's vast knowledge of Charleston history due to his tour guide job, he rattled off all sorts of names. And we picked one, his name is Heyward after Thomas Heyward Jr. a delegate of SC who signed the Declaration of Independence. Heyward is very comfy and is getting used to his new home. No, he doesn't do tricks yet but we do aspire to teach him how to do a tight rope walk on a unicycle. :)
This is our little guy Heyward

He is a little shy at times

Coming out of his home made house

He really likes running in his ball

Monday, August 4, 2008

For those that don't know, Lance has quit his career as a
mortician/funeral director/embalmer/makeup artist, at least temporarily. You see Lance has primarily been doing removals and removals only while we've been here in the Lowcountry. He has worked 12 hour shifts from 9pm - 9am, 7 days a week, with no weekends and no holidays. Can you spell m-i-s-e-r-a-b-l-e???

This has been a problem especially on weekends that we work in the temple because by the time we're through with our temple shift, Lance will have been awake for more than 24 hours and has to work Saturday night, and then is expected to teach on Sundays. The next time he'd get sleep would be after being awake for 48 hours. (I hoped you all followed me on that). So, he approached his boss and said he needs the weekends off. Well his boss had an alternative plan: work 72 hours straight, then one day off, work 72 hours, then one day off, etc, etc. Yeah pretty much suicide. (No pun intended). But there was a perk, his boss was going to give him a raise of $50 per month for the extra 120 hours he'd be working. OUCH! Man that's a huge slap in the face and an absolute insult!! Lance gave him a months notice and quit.

Well that was over two months ago and Lance is now working for Olde Towne Carriage Co. For you out of towners, he drives a horse drawn carriage full of tourists and gives them a tour of downtown while pointing out historical facts. At first Lance was so far out of his comfort zone and felt so awkward, he really didn't like it at all. He doesn't like horses nor will he ever, he's working in the excrutiating heat outside, it isn't in a professional setting, etc. But after a few weeks he's really come to enjoy what he does. He really appreciates the fact that he has learned all the history and gets to be social with actual living humans. :)

This obviously isn't a picture of Lance although I can see where you might confuse him with this guy's bald head as well. Ha ha!

It's amazing to me that we thought we were taking a huge pay cut, relying mostly on tips, but the way and timing this job turned out is nothing less than a little help from above. Lance is making more per hour than he ever would have doing removals for his previous boss, he gets to ride his scooter instead of a big van, he gets to see sunlight, and best of all we get to see each other more than an hour a week. I'll tell you, it has been bliss being able to see Lance everyday. Before, we'd see each other maybe an hour at the most per week. Yes, I was alone A LOT. Yes, it was VERY difficult. No, I don't want to EVER do that again, it was horrible.

Needless to say he enjoys it, I enjoy that he enjoys it, and we get to see each other everyday. He will shortly return to the morbid job that I am so intrigued with and will be a licensed mortician after he finishes school (which is the primary reason for moving back to Twin).

New Hobbies

Lance and I discovered a new little hobby - antique auctions. This past weekend we went to an auction about a mile from our home, not really knowing what to expect but I had one thing in mind: an old trunk. We have several friends that have a ginormous, old, antique trunk that they got at the auction for $30. I want one of those trunks and that was my sole purpose of going to the auction.

The place was packed so we stood for the entire time, yes my feet hurt, but it was a lot of fun. I bid on this really old ornate, thick, gold framed 1900's period picture of children playing. It was so pretty and I bid up to $100 but was outbid by $25. As soon as the other lady won, the auction guys hung it back up on the wall and it fell apart. I'm glad I didn't win it after all.

Half the fun was bidding and seeing what they have to buy, the other half was watching these pro bidders and weird people who were not only interested but willing to pay money for crap. (Don't get me wrong it wasn't all crap, the furniture and pictures were unbelievable). I can't believe these little old women that buy ugly ceramic trinkets for hundreds of dollars. They must be very knowledgeable about antiques and different artists because they could have saved themselves $99 and bought the same santa clause mug at the dollar store. We all know that most old people's homes have shelves and shelves of trinkets and nick-knacks, but honestly a $100 for them??? They're crazy and have too much retirement money on their hands, they need to invest in an xbox and take up Rock Band to fill their time.

After we left the auction we walked around the antique mall and saw some really neat things. The prices were ridiculous so we quickly learned anything we buy at the auction is a steal. I will admit, when I went to antique malls when I was a kid I didn't like it one bit. I thought everything was just old junk that should have gone to the DI and everything was far over priced. It smelled old, it looked old, it felt old and l felt like I was about to contract every germ and disease known to man. BUT after living in such a rich cultured city I've come to appreciate history and all the stories behind the antiques.

Until I find my old trunk, I'm going to keep going to these auctions and give dirty looks at the old people buying dumb trinkets and scoff at the next 6'6" man that sits right in front of me!

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Moving Ticker

Due to the many protests and complaints of our moving ticker, it is officially coming down. I would personally like to thank those who have voiced their opinions. I do not want to move. I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE Charleston for various reasons which I could spend all day numbering, however life doesn't stand still. I will expound on that at a later date.