Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Our Son, Daniel

I love amazing stories that shake you inside, even the ones that make you cry (sometimes especially). They're...renewing. i think.

I have a friend named Daniel Kanyaruhuru. If you're stumbling over his last name, take it slowly. It's phonetic. I met Daniel my freshman year of high school, which was also his first year at my school, and even here in the states, and even in this hemisphere, though he was in my older sister's grade. Daniel had come to us through much adversity, through much heartbreak, and really through Hell. My cross country coach, who has a big heart and learned of these young African boys being brought here through a relief effort, sought them out and asked them to come be apart of our team family. Daniel ended up trashing us all, and leaving the state competition in his dust.

My best friend from high school, Miss Chelsea Fiske, put together a documentary for a school project and shares Daniel's story.

Our Son, Daniel from Chelsea Fiske on Vimeo.

All of us who have been with him from the start are crossing our fingers and holding our breath. And, if you happen to catch the distance races and see him on your TV, cheer extra loud.

Monday, January 25, 2010

You Didn't Know Me When

There was a time in my life (like what, a year ago?) that I could and would willingly (almost) forgo sleep for two to four days. Call me crazy, but it was all in the name of my education. and my social life. which was really just a million guy friends I had that took turns being more. yeah, I may or may not have been one of those. We don’t talk about that.

There was also a time in my life that I nannied a cute little girl. Actually it was the same time. And actually she would take turns being cute and being a terror, like any kid, I’m sure. But I mostly just like to try to remember the cute part.

One very tired day I was working with the cute little girl through her homework. I slightly leaned against the counter while waiting for her to complete a worksheet. Then her mom was at my side, tapping my shoulder asking if I was okay. I was very confused. Here was the cutie and her mom next to me, and there was the completed worksheet. It was as if a little gap of my life had just been sliced out. But really it wasn’t that dramatic at all.

I had fallen asleep. right there. at work. standing up. The cute little girl had quietly finished her work (a new thing), called my name a couple of times, then gone and grabbed her mom saying that something was wrong with Shirley. A very worried mother/boss found me there asleep on my feet.

I was just thinking of this recently. I still don’t believe it’s possible. How absurd is it that someone can sleep standing up? I think a more reasonable explanation is that I was abducted by aliens for an unknown period of time, that on earth only calculated to be about ten minutes. This fact suddenly makes so many things clear.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Sit down, it's a long haul

I had forgotten how much children know.

It’s been a while since I’ve really been surrounded by little kids. Of course, I have a million nieces and nephews that I get to hang out with all the time, but I definitely haven’t had the interaction that I used to. I did other stuff, like live on my own, get married, and spend a lot more time with the older youth, the teenagers. Being an EFY Counselor was tons of fun, and, since then, my callings have been with the youth.

When thought upon, this fact is a little strange to me, because growing up in my house at the time I did, I didn’t really learn much about interacting with teenagers. Even as a teenager. I was the utmost of awkward. And still am. Very non-teenagery.

A couple of Sundays ago they called me into the Primary. the secretary. Where did that come from? It was a big surprise to me. I’m really going to miss my girls and the fun that was to be had this coming year. Actually I was pretty sad about it at first, and super intimidated by the greatness of the person I was taking over for, but after some time mapping out the database I’m creating, and after my first Sunday in the calling, I’m freakin’ excited. freakin’.

And, I realize again how much I love hanging out with kids, and how crazy much they know. They are smart little boogers. I will have to make sure that I don’t underestimate them.

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Mike and I visited my Aunt and Uncle and family up in Idaho for Thanksgiving. This family is really the only connection with my mom’s (biological mother) side of the family that I’ve ever known. They are the awesome.

In her simple goodbye at the end of the trip my aunt gave me something huge to consume my mind. For all of growing-upness, I have always been told how much I look like my mom. This always makes me very happy and prideful.

This is not a picture of me and my sister from some years back. Nor even my sister and other sister from some couple more years back. It is a picture of my mom and her sister from some many more years back. Cool, huh? So, as I said, people that knew my mom are sure to tell me of how I look so much or just like her. It is a common statement that I have heard from my aunt growing up. But this year she said something a little different. She told me not only of how I look like my mother, but also of how I am so much like her in character. We both always get teary at these goodbye moments, but this came at me with special force, and it was what was on my mind for the greater part of the twenty-six hour drive home.

I am like my mother? A new thought. I was reeling. I wondered how I could be so much like someone that I’ve never actually known.

To me, my mom has always been something of a saint. I have been given this impression by reading through her journal, the talks at her funeral, and through people’s personal stories and impressions, told both in writing and verbally. Everything is amazing, everything is kind, everything is adorable, everything is beautiful. Something I’ve come to understand is that all these things aren’t just said nice and prettily because she’s dead, but because there is nothing else that honestly comes to mind to say of her. In her journal she is always striving, always humble.

And now you are told that you are like this person. Does that not bring tears of incredulity? I will not own up to such a charge, though I thrill thinking of it, but will now talk of a couple of things I have learned from pondering this.

FACTS: I am related to my mom. There are some things that she has passed down to me that naturally reside in me, and some of these things are more than physical manifestations. I have learned things about her from reading about her, reading her own words, and from talking to people that knew and were close to her. I have always striven to harness the same traits I know her to have. There have been times when I have felt my mother’s love or approval or protection, or when I have applied to her personally.

TRUTHS: We are related to our Heavenly Father. Just as we inherit qualities from our parents, there is an inherited divinity in each of us. We can come to learn of and develop this divinity from research. We have the scriptures, we have apostles and prophets, we have leaders and family members. All of these may tell of experience and testimony. But beyond that, we can also come to be like our Heavenly Father through developing our own relationship with Him. He is not physically present here, but the relationship we can find with our Father will be far more personal and deep than those we have known with those with whom we interact daily.