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Friday, April 30, 2010

Faces and Faith

I've been thinking.
About my visit to the LDS Langley temple on Tuesday night.
Although I've never been on the verge of converting to Mormonism, I was really disappointed.
It was kind of like going backstage after an elaborate show and finding the actors without makeup and costumes, having shed their stage roles, except that I'd missed the show.
Is there a public face to the LDS church, one of friendliness and welcome, that is removed behind the scenes? For all the happy volunteers who guided visitors and showed gracious hospitality during the open house, those church members I encountered later were extremely unwelcoming and ungracious, even to the point of rudeness. The wonderful picture of Mormonism presented in the blogs suddenly doesn't look so great. Which makes bells ring in my head and lots of question marks float through the air.

The other thing that has been running through my mind is the high emphasis on performance. LDS members must successfully submit to an interview every year in order to enter the temple. (Please, if you are a Mormon and I'm getting the facts wrong, set me straight. I am at the mercy of blogs and websites for my information!) The questions are all about living up to church standards and principles, keeping all sacraments and covenants, and sustaining the president as God's representative and prophet on earth.

I have no problem with accountability. In fact, we probably all need more of it in our lives. But to limit entry to the House of the Lord based on performance, after the redeeming sacrifice of Jesus that gives us free access to the presence of God, is just like taking people right back to the Old Testament laws. The New Testament is pretty clear that salvation is based on faith, and that our good works (following rules, etc) are "as filthy rags to God". I can never be good enough on my own, but fortunately, the blood of Jesus cleanses me. It is enough.

I feel sad about all those Mormon women I have come to admire. They're so enthusiastic about their faith, which I see as a great virtue, but it looks to be built on lots of rules and regulations, secrecy, and expectations for performance.

Blogs are like windows into people's lives. I feel like I know so many of the bloggers I follow, although they (mostly) have no idea that I exist. I like to think that my Mormon blogger "friends" would have been themselves - fun, friendly, welcoming - if they had been the ones carrying chairs at the temple on Tuesday. But what if they weren't?

Isn't life mysterious...?

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

The Adventure that Never Was

For a long time, I have been an ardent admirer of a number of scrapbooking gurus. And more recently, as a regular blog reader, my list of cool women has grown. It features such names as Lisa Bearnson, Becky Higgins, Jessica Sprague, Nienie, and C Jane.
What do they all have in common?
Mormons, every one.
So although I find it kind of inexplicable and mysterious, I've come to associate Mormonism with smart, interesting, creative women. And I've done a bit of reading and research on the topic.
I was intrigued when I discovered last fall that British Columbia's first Mormon temple was being built in our area. According to what I've learned, a temple is a place that only active Mormons may enter (with a signed recommend that affirms they are worthy and up to date). Certain ordinances are carried out there, and there are even special clothes to wear.
Recently, there was a whole article in the newspaper, complete with photos of the ornate interior, all about the new temple and announcing TOURS FOR THE PUBLIC!
I was up for it! My only chance to see the inside of a Mormon temple!
Today was the day. The temple is being consecrated this Sunday, and after that, will forevermore be closed to me and my ilk. I rushed home after school, changed into some jeans (possibly a big mistake), and jumped back into the car. I enlisted Little Bear to accompany me, and we somehow acquired Lesley and her son, Elliot along the way.
We sat in traffic. It poured with rain. We suffered for this cause. It took almost an hour to get there.
But alas and alack, we were too late. Days too late. Tours ended on Saturday.
However, there was a U-Haul truck parked at the door, cars in the parking lot, and people going in and out. Maybe, just maybe, I could plead my case and get us in to take a look. I was not quite ready to throw in the towel.
We went as far as the entrance, where a group of people was going back and forth from the truck with chairs, making a big stack right in the doorway.
What is it about those Mormons? Why do they work in dress shirts and ties? We stuck out like a whole handful of sore thumbs in our jeans and casual... everything. Even the little boy helping out was wearing a tie!
But despite my expectations of extreme Mormon awesomeness, there was a distinct chill in the air. We stood there, waiting for one of this understandably busy group to ask us if we were looking for someone, or even why we weren't dressed properly, but to no avail. Silence and no eye contact was all we got. Finally, I picked a youngish man as he buzzed back and forth, and asked who we could talk to, but he said he didn't know. Didn't know? Hmmm... Even I could see the grey-haired man at the front desk just inside the door. Frowning harder than I thought a person could frown. Actually, I think he was a human pit bull for all the welcomeness that was oozing out of him (maybe it was our clothes). I attempted to squeeze around the chairs that were being unloaded in the doorway; maybe, just maybe I could charm the pit bull into letting us see something. I said, "If I could just get through here..." But all I could hear was a chilly silence, and nobody was moving anywhere for me.
I took a breath and asked the youngish man again, but he then said that he thought everything was being cleaned. He showed very little interest in my sad, sad story of missing my only opportunity ever to see the inside of a temple.
And that was that. What else could a girl do?
We took some pictures of the exterior. It's all covered in marble from Brazil, and there's a gold Angel Moroni (a kind of unfortunate name, I've always thought) on the tippy top of the spire.
I was really, really sad.
So we went for sushi. Eating always helps when one is sad.
And I was going to take a photo of the sushi for you to enjoy, as sushi is always quite artfully presented, except I forgot and we ate it all. Sorry.
One day, I'll have to go somewhere else in the world to see the inside of a temple. There must be another one opening some time. Sigh.

Monday, April 26, 2010

In Print!

Just an update for you about my brother's recent trip to Nicaragua - one of our local papers picked up the story and published a 2 page article with 5 of his photos! You can see it online here, but there's only one photo shown.
Very cool!

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Cross Cultural Experiences

Time for the annual principals' conference at Cedar Springs in Washington.
Oh, how I love crossing the border.
In return for a brief moment of pain, I get to enter the USA, Land of Opportunity. Somehow, everything is different on the other side. Accents change, shopping is better, and tea is called "hot tea".
The brief moment of pain, this time, lasted just 45 minutes. Don't misunderstand me; it really wasn't too bad. As we sat in the border lineup, we got to watch the guy with a very large gun, and a dog who happily sniffed all the cars down the line. We speculated on what he was trained to detect. Explosives? Drugs? Illegal fruit? (Don't EVER try to bring an apple or a plum into the country. I'm serious.) And then there was the guy with the mirror on a stick. He was checking under everyone's car. Maybe some people ride without a seatbelt under the chassis. That doesn't sound too comfortable.
Anyway, we made it through and I fell slightly in love with the grey-haired official who said we looked far too young to be school principals.
At the conference, we hung out with other high-powered principals for a couple of days and talked about very important things. (not really.) It's always lots of fun to reconnect and hear about what's happening in other schools.
It was beautiful at the retreat centre, and we all tried to dress like it was spring. But the temperature didn't match. Brrr, my feet were cold, but I just had to wear open-toed shoes!
We did some shopping on the way home. The Canadian dollar is just above par, and we were able to partake in the delights of American retail therapy without any guilt... Well, less guilt than usual!
How refreshing it was to leave the stress of school behind and escape for a couple of days. And now I have to work all weekend to make up for lost time!

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Surprise visit to Aotearoa

Perhaps you should patent this new marital tool (see "Wedded Bliss"), Ange of the North….I note, that there is room for two on board….SNUGGLY! Looks far more ‘together’ than shopping…. :)


Here Down Under, life is cranking back into gear again after our first term holidays. On our first day back for the second term of school, E forgets his tie (It is the winter term here and thus, all senior boys have to wear a tie. There must be a logical reason…), his holiday homework, and an important book. And we are late. Despite great intentions.

Day Two begins with E having to be up at the crack of dawn in order to be at Cross Country Training by 7am. We are late.

I drive home to pick up son #2 for school. Then L tells us that he needs 4 iron rods of unspecified diameter or length, 8 wheels or suitable alternatives, 1 large iron rod again of unidentified length, a toy car (oh that’s an easy one!), some string, 4 hooks…specific but again obscurely defined, and various other bits and pieces. And he needs them for an assessment….by TOMORROW thanks! We are, naturally, late for school. Again.


It is at this point that i am yearning for holidays gone by and counting down to the next set of holidays. We have just returned from a whirlwind trip to NZ.


There’s something indescribable about coming home. It was bliss.


Even better when the country turns on it’s most perfect Autumn weather. I love Autumn with its crisp, clear days, blue skies and warm sun, and I especially love the autumn colours.


And on a beautiful day, NZ has gotta be one of the most fabulous spots on earth.


The locals are a very friendly & hospitable bunch,


though some can be a little scary…


but some are downright cute!


Sadly, due to the lightning quick nature of our visit, we were only able to catch up with a small number of friends & family this time.


But each occasion was a bonus and well worth the surprise!


Hanging out for the next holidays!


Saturday, April 17, 2010

Wedded Bliss

Big Bear's latest quest has come to an end and we are now the proud owners of an Arctic Cat ATV!
It has been months and months (and months) since Big Bear began actively looking for a quad for us. You see, it's all about togetherness. If we had one, think of all the quality time we could spend out riding TOGETHER. Just think of all the love that would flow between us. Our marriage would be... incredible.
So, as I said, after a very long search, he finally found The One. Last night, together with Phil and Christine and their kids, he drove back up to the cabin on a sacred mission to purchase and bring home the ATV. And thanks to technology, this afternoon (while I slaved away at school to finance this latest project), he sent me the latest, up-to-the-moment photos of the happy day!
Christine and Little Bee had fun trying out the new machine on one of the local trails.
Big Bear seems to be wearing a very large smile! He must be thinking of all the loving feelings that we will experience together.
All geared up for a long ride on the trails - snow at the higher levels stopped them finally.
I can hardly wait for this amazing marriage tool to arrive home! And just to clarify, this pretty red baby is mine. Big Bear can ride his motorcycle.

Friday, April 16, 2010

News from Afar

My beloved brother is off on a trip. I'm usually a little envious when he travels, especially when he takes his family somewhere awesome like Arizona, where he takes all sorts of amazing photos.
However, this is not a fun trip.
This time, he has gone to Managua, Nicaragua with a group of men. They have a very special mission to fulfill, but I'll let him tell you about it in his own words.
So, without further ado, I give you, Tim!
Our focus here is to support a rescue home for 16 abused girls who were born in and living in the Managua city garbage dump, “La Chureca”. The rescue home will soon be bringing 8 additional girls out of the dump in order to provide them with a safe and healthy family environment as well as a good education.I can’t put into words the horrific conditions here, but work continues. It is heart breaking to see so many children who remain in the dump, but it is encouraging to know that the rescue home is working toward bringing a total of 48 girls out of a living hell.We began building a structure that will be used as a feeding centre and we are working hard to complete it by Friday. Yesterday we met and helped to feed over 150 children in the scorching sun, many of whom were forced to sit on the ground as they ate in dirty and putrid conditions. These children will benefit from the new feeding centre for years to come.
There you have it.
I'm very proud of Tim and can't wait to hear all about it when he gets home.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

The Reason

This is it.
Every so often, a day like this comes along. Fresh snow on the mountains, green leaves on the trees, blue sky. A day to savour. A day to make us forget the rain and gloom.
This is why we live in Vancouver.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Thankful for Colour

On Easter Weekend, we took the opportunity to go away to the family cabin near Christina Lake. I'd been quite conflicted about going away with my dad in a precarious state, but he stabilized and my mum encouraged us to go.
We took both boys, Little Bear's stray school friend from the Netherlands, and two other homeless boys. Six males and me. Woo hoo. Oh, and because of the large numbers, we had to take two vehicles.
I left school at 3:20 pm, made a flying stop at the hospital to see my much happier dad, and picked up two boys.
At 12:30 am, after a very long and tiring drive, we finally pulled into the driveway. The cabin was SO cold! Once a fire was built and things warmed up, we hit the hay and I didn't get up till 11 the next morning!
After all the colours on the coast, everything looked grey and brown. Spring is about a month behind, and although I loved the peace and tranquility, there was a definite absence of colour here!
But then, colour can show up in the most unexpected ways!
Boys were everywhere!
I spent a lot of time in the kitchen preparing large quantities of food. It was ok, though. Different from the pressure to cook meals at home amidst the demands of schedules.
Despite the advanced age of these big boys, they were quite tickled yesterday afternoon when I had them hunt for chocolate eggs!
It was lovely to see green leaves and colourful blossoms as we returned to the coast. Ahhh!
And now, back to school.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

The Cross

20100404_Easter Cross 2010_003
All so incredible
ays to me

hat you can change the world with

xtravagant love

ealised for you and for me

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