A COLLECTION FROM 03-03-2018

THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR ALL THE HAPPY, KIND, FUNNY, WONDERFUL MESSAGES WHICH I RECEIVED YESTERDAY AS I CELEBRATED MY BIRTHDAY BY MYSELF WITH STILL NOT MUCH OF A VOICE AND NOW A BIT OF A COLD AS “FROSTING” (??) ON TOP OF IT…. I’M KIND OF “HOME-BOUND.” BUT ONE THING I DECIDED TO DO WAS TO POST ALL THE THINGS I PUT ON MY FB PAGE TO CELEBRATE MY BIRTHDAY (AS IF ANYONE WOULD BE AT ALL INTERESTED IN SUCH A COLLECTION….) BUT IF IT’S ONLY SO I HAVE IT ALL “IN ONE PIECE,” IT’S WORTH MY LITTLE EFFORT ON THIS MORNING WITH THE SNOW COMING DOWN THICK AND HEAVY AND BEAUTIFUL!!!!

NOW…. BEFORE I PUT EVERYTHING HERE WHICH WAS IN SEVERAL FB POSTS YESTERDAY, I JUST HAVE TO REMIND MYSELF (AND ANY OF YOU WHO NEED REMINDING) THAT I’M NOT YET FINISHED!!  I’M STILL THE ONE WHO KISSED A STINGRAY IN THE SOUTH PACIFIC (BORA-BORA) LAST YEAR!!!  LET THAT EVENT NOT BE FORGOTTEN!!!

 

AND NOW I’LL PUT IN EVERYTHING FROM YESTERDAY (JUST FOR MYSELF… BUT YOU’RE WELCOME TO TAKE A LOOK IF YOU’D LIKE)

MUCH LOVE AND THANKS TO ALL OF YOU FOR HELPING MEE CELEBRATE!!!!!

 

TODAY’s THE DAY. I’M 78 NOW. GETTING A BIT “OVER THE HILL,” RIGHT? OH WELL. I’M STILL HAVING FUN AND ENJOYING SO MANY AMAZING EXPERIENCES AND OPPORTUNITIES, AND DEEPLY APPRECIATING AMAZING TENDER MERCIES, SWEET FRIENDSHIP, AND STILL WITH MY OWN TEETH. I’M HAPPY. LIFE IS GOOD. I CAN NEVER THANK EACH OF YOU PERSONALLY FOR THE HAPPY BIRTHDAY WISHES YOU’RE SENDING MY WAY… I WOULD IF I COULD, BUT I HAVE SOME OTHER THINGS I NEED TO GET DONE TODAY… SO I’LL JUST SAY “THANK YOU SO VERY, VERY MUCH!!!” ENJOY YOUR DAY — I’M GOING TO ENJOY MINE (GRIN) (NOW A BURST OF LAUGHTER). WITH MUCH, MUCH LOVE, MEE

CHARLOTTE AND I BOTH BECAME NURSES. IT TOOK ME 4 YEARS (AT BYU), BUT IT TOOK CHARLOTTE ONLY 2 YEARS (AT RICKS). SHE TOOK CARE OF BABIES (NURSERY/NICU) FOR MANY YEARS. I MOSTLY TOOK CARE OF PATIENTS A LOT OLDER THAN I, NEVER BELIEVING THAT SOMEDAY I’D BE “OLDER.” OK… OLD. I DON’T THINK NURSES WHO TAKE CARE OF ME WHEN I’M OCCASIONALLY IN NEED OF THEM HAVE ANY IDEA HOW CLOSELY I OBSERVE ALL THAT THEY DO (LIGHT LAUGH TRACK IN THE BACKGROUND). AND BY THE WAY (IN CASE YOU WERE WONDERING) IT WASN’T EASY WEARING A CAP AND “DRESS UNIFORM” AND SHOES THAT HAD TO POLISHED (WITH “SANI-WHITE” OF COURSE) FREQUENTLY… SOMEONE GOT SMART, AND NURSES DRESS MUCH MORE COMFORTABLY AND SENSIBLY THESE DAYS…. LIFE WAS DIFFERENT IN THE LATE 1800’s…….

I’M SURE YOU ALL REMEMBER TIMES WHEN YOU LOOKED AT AN OBITUARY AND THOUGHT 60 WAS OLD… RIGHT?? I’M HERE TO TELL YOU THAT 60 IS VERY, VERY YOUNG (AT LEAST FROM MY VIEW). I HAD SUCH A FUN, WONDERFUL CHILDHOOD THAT I NEVER THOUGHT ANY PART OF MEE WOULD EVER EVER WEAR OUT!! IT WAS A MYTH… I’M WEARING OUT!! WHEEEEEEE!!!

ONCE UPON A TIME MANY YEARS AGO THERE WAS A LITTLE GIRL WHO WONDERED WHAT HER LIFE WAS GOING TO BE LIKE (BUT MOSTLY SHE JUST PLAYED AND HAD FUN, KNOWING SHE’D NEVER EVER EVER GROW OLD!!) GUESS WHAT, LITTLE GIRL!!! YOU’RE OLD!!! HA HA … AND SO IS YOUR LITTLE SISTER CHARLOTTE!! HA HA

AS THE YEARS GO BY, I THINK AND LAUGH MORE ABOUT GETTING OLDER …. I REMEMBER MOM USED TO SAY, EVEN AS SHE GOT IN HER 90’s, SOMETHING LIKE “I STILL FEEL SO YOUNG INSIDE!” I’M NOT SURE I FEEL THAT WAY RIGHT NOW… BUT I KNOW MORE ABOUT WHAT SHE MEANT. I LAUGH MORE AT THOUGHTS LIKE THIS ONE: WISDOM COME WITH AGE… SOMETIMES AGE COMES ALONE… I THINK THAT’S HILARIOUS. ANOTHER: OLD AGE COMES AT A VERY BAD TIME. YEP. AGAIN I THANK ALL OF YOU FOR THE “HAPPY BIRTHDAY” WISHES!!! Love, MEE

 

100 STAKES!!!

My friend Sandi Rogers sent a note letting me know that a wonderful milestone has been reached – there are now 100 STAKES in the Philippine Islands!! OH! The JOY I feel (I’ve got goose bumps!!).

I had the blessing of arriving in early 1963 as one of the first two sister missionaries to serve there. We were placed in Quezon City as the first two missionaries to serve there. We knocked on the first door: # 7 New York Street. There was one branch (Manila Branch) and around 100 members. I think there were about 16 of us missionaries: 14 Elders and 2 Sisters. Our mission headquarters was in Hong Kong (and I had served there for 5 months, and for 4 months in Taiwan before being assigned to go to the Philippines (one of 3 zones in the Southern Far East Mission). I had the blessing of serving there again (as a health missionary this time) 10 years later, when the whole country was one mission. During that second mission, President Benson came to organize the first stake! And he also dedicated the first chapel in Quezon City (10 years to the day when we first arrived there in May of 1963)….

One of the fun facts about all of this comes as a result of some research Sandi did. It took 104 years for the U.S. to have 100 stakes, 110 years for Mexico, 65 years for Brazil, 57 years for Peru, and 56 years for the Philippines! 56 years from when missionary work began with a dedicatory prayer offered by then Elder Gordon B. Hinckley in the beautiful, peaceful Fort McKinley military cemetery (now Fort Bonifacio), one of my favorite places to be in that beautiful land. Oh, and just so you know: When I first served there, the Philippine Islands were a zone of the mission, the second time I served, the whole country was a mission, and now there are 21 MISSIONS.

Well, I’m feeling exceedingly excited and thankful this morning!! What happifying news! Greetings and “hooray” to all my beloved Filipino friends!

And now for some pictures (I know they seem to disappear quickly from this Blog, but I’m going to post them anyway … I’m in the mood to REMEMBER and to CELEBRATE!).

Here I am those close to 55 years ago (and no, we didn’t have to wear these hats as we proselyted! I look mad, but I’m not — I had the picture taken to show how miserable I was when I’d have massive allergy attacks (there are SO many beautiful things growing!)…but they really “touched up” the photo!

Here are the first four Sister missionaries: Edmunds, Smithen, Garrison, Davidson. Sister Smithen and I were the first to arrive, and 6 months later the other two joined us. We should have been on “The Philippines Has Talent!” (Obviously I’m kidding… and there was no such “show”) I’m about to play my guitar . . . we’re about to sing

I served for the last 9 months of my mission with Sister Mary Jane Davidson. We think we were often invited in because both our name tags started with “Sister Mary.” (They REALLY touched up photos!)

I had some fun mimicking one of my Mutual leaders (from way back in Cedar City) saying “Keep your standards high, girls!” … I did it in Mandarin….

I returned as one of the first 2 health missionaries to be sent to Asia, and Sister Jill Bousfield from Perth, Australia, and I were companions. She and her husband Joe (Grinceri) are now serving a mission in the Geraldton Branch… which is TWICE the size of BRITAIN in area!! The Relief Society president lives around 150 miles from Geraldton (and only makes it to church about once a month). Jill said to drive from the southern to the northern tip of the branch is a 10-hour drive, and that the roads aren’t exactly great in many places. But Geraldton is only about 4 hours from Perth! They’re having an adventure!!

One of our responsibilities (not our favorite) was to give Gamma Globulin shots to the Elders (both of us were nurses) — oh how they loved to see us coming!!

We were joined by Margaret Doyle from New Zealand, and we had the great privilege of receiving a visit from Dr. James O. Mason (our wonderful leader in this aspect of missionary work) and his fantastic wife Marie. (I loved this shirt… our dear helper and companion, Lina, made it for me)

It was a great blessing to be able to serve twice in this beautiful land. I’m so happy for this incredible milestone: 100 STAKES!!!

 

DON’T FAINT!

SHORT VERSION (This is the one I’d choose if I were you)

I realize that I haven’t posted anything on the Blog for a LONG TIME. I’ve got lots of excuses (I made most of them up!), but mainly I’ve been out of town a LOT since early January, and have had lots of SICK DAYS (the days weren’t sick… I was). But also I’ve been doing MUCH thinking about priorities, use of time, what matters most to me in my life, ETC. (LOTS of “ETC”). And I’ve come to the conclusion that I’ll “Blog” less often, perhaps putting shorter notes and ideas on FB a little more often. I’m not stopping … just doing some “adjusting.” I’ve missed you more than you’ve missed MEE (in case you were wondering). I’ll be back… just less often. Thank you for kindness, friendship, positive comments, and lots of FUN! Love, MEE

LONG VERSION (Way too long… once I get started it’s hard to stop!… in case you hadn’t already noticed that about MEE)

I’m thinking that maybe 17 or 23 of you have noticed that it’s been a LONG, LONG TIME since I’ve posted anything on this Blog. I’ve thought about writing a Blog about Blogging. Or NOT Blogging. Posting on Facebook or not posting on Facebook. Trying to explain, maybe. But I’m not sure I can do that. I decided to try. I never did plan to be on FB. Ever. It felt like it would consume too much time, for one thing (but that was not my only concern). Then I found out from friends that someone had started a FB page in my name. It wasn’t malicious at all. There were copies of talks and quotes (hopefully none of THOSE were “malicious,” ha ha). But my friends told me that people were posting notes to me – and probably wondering why there were never any responses. So my friend Whit began to forward to me the comments, and I’d respond, and she’d post them. Can you imagine someone doing that? What a Saint! Eventually the Brethren began to encourage the use of social media to share good things, good messages, uplifting stuff. When I attended the devotional which Elder Bednar shared at the BYU Education Week (19 Aug 2014), I felt close to ashamed that I wasn’t really doing anything on social media. His message was compelling. With the help of Whit and others, I started doing my own posting on Facebook. And then the idea of a Blog “popped up.” It would be a way to share longer messages, including pictures. My incredibly talented and generously kind niece Wendy helped create MEEThinks.net … a new Blog was born. And I found it pretty fun, coming up with things to share. Yes, a lot of them were/are silly… I love to laugh! And I love to make people laugh (or at least try to give them a reason to do so). For a while I think I was posting almost every day. It took a lot of time thinking about what to share and preparing it (and finding illustrations for most of the posts). I was also doing more on Facebook. With both the Blog and FB, I felt not just a desire, but almost a need to respond to everyone and everything. I felt uncomfortable about not acknowledging notes – questions, reminders … ETC. (LOTS of “ETC”). And I sincerely wanted to share things which would lift spirits, make hearts happy, maybe make a difference in a day or even longer….

On the recent trip I took to the South Pacific with good friends, it became almost impossible to post anything due to the trouble I had getting (and staying) online on the ship. I had some health challenges during that month, and I did a LOT of pondering. I haven’t been home long enough to try to put the pondering into words. I’ve mostly been gone for 2 months plus, and you know what it’s like to come back to a “tsunami” of mail and things to do “right now!” Getting in touch with family (Note to family: I’m still alive! I plan to come and visit you before I turn 80! I hope you remember me!) It takes a lot of time to prepare for the weekly stake religion class that I teach (oh how I LOVE this calling!!). A talk in Sacrament meeting; that took time, especially when my computer wouldn’t boot up and my printer wasn’t working….).  Getting the message for this year’s “Time Out for Women” finished and sent in. Working on a message for the coming BYU Women’s Conference. Doing visiting teaching – and other visiting and service (which I’ve really not done very well at all recently… or ever??) Working on a home filled with “matter unorganized” (it’s more like living in a storage unit). Doing a massive DE-CLUTTER! Figuring out what to do with the “12-flood basement” … wondering how (or IF) to put it back together (knowing there will likely be more floods). LOTS of trips to D.I. …. I don’t want someone else to have to go through all my STUFF AND THINGS if I “shoot on over” before I get it done….

Through the years I’ve taught several lessons and given several talks about priorities – first things first, the use of time (which is a gift from God for which we are accountable) . . . What are the “first things” in my life? How do I keep them first? President Benson said this:  When we put God first, all other things fall into their proper place or drop out of our lives. Our love of the Lord will govern the claims of our affection, the demands on our time, the interests we pursue, and the order of our priorities.  (Ensign, May 1988). I want to follow that counsel. There are so many things which I want to put “first” or “second” … right at the top. My relationship with my Heavenly Father, the Savior, and the Holy Ghost. My prayers really matter to me. Pondering, meditating… it makes such a difference for me to “think on purpose” (and WITH a purpose). Reading and studying, particularly from the scriptures, the Ensign, and many inspiring and motivating talks, lessons, and books. My relationship with my family matters to me so very much (but wow do I ever neglect them these days!!). Have you ever tried to make a list of priorities? I had to take extra pills! Where does a Blog come? And/or Facebook? I went through a long list of things I’d written down which really matter to me, and when I wondered (out loud) if FB or a Blog would come before this or this or this . . . both kept getting lower and lower on the list. And it’s NOT that I don’t enjoy posting things – finding something I think will be uplifting or interesting or thought-provoking . . . or funny/hilarious. (I know that so much of what I find hilarious may not be funny AT ALL to others – I laugh a LOT)! …. I LOVE sharing!!  (Did the pictures of MEE kissing a STINGRAY disappear??)….

CHOICES. Choices and consequences. Do I prepare a Blog or _______. Some Blogs take as much time to prepare and post as a Temple session! (I’m SLOW). I’m doing more names for family these days, and I’ve found that I’m more anxious to go – the NEED to go is greater, possibly because it’s not just for me . . . some of these kindred of mine have been waiting several hundred years! I LOVE doing work for them! And I love learning and/or noticing something “new” each time I go. Do I prepare a Blog or write a letter to my missionaries (I have a little “flock” of about 15 whom I write a note to each week). OK, I won’t go on and ON – but I hope I’ve explained what’s been happening since early January. I don’t need comments (and by the way, I did NOT start “doing” FB or a Blog to engage in some kind of competition – I think many kinds of competition are toxic (at least to me). I just wanted to share. I still do. Just not as often. And that’s the end of the LONG version (for the 3 of you who slogged through the whole thing).  I know St. Patrick’s Day came and went, but I want to add one of my favorite Irish blessings:  May the road rise up to meet you. May the wind be always at your back. May the sun shine warm upon your face, The rain fall soft upon your fields, And until we meet again [until I post again], May God hold you in the palm of His hand.  Much love, MEE

 

 

 

 

 

After 29 Days….

I’m such a SLUG about posting anything (as if anyone had noticed, ha ha). But today I’m going to post a few pictures. Miscellaneous for sure. Random. This South Pacific trip was SO wonderful! Such a beautiful part of this amazing earth. I’m still in awe of the size and beauty of the Pacific Ocean, and I have to mention again that it’s larger than ALL the land mass COMBINED!! It extends from the Arctic Ocean in the north to Antarctica in the south and is bounded by Asia and Australia in the west and the Americas in the east. It covers almost HALF of the earth’s water surface! And one-third of it’s total surface!! It contains the Mariana Trench, the deepest point in the world, reaching a depth of 35,797 feet (Mt Everest is 29,029 feet high). We had TEN sea days, when all we could see in any direction was this beautiful “deep blue sea” (sometimes the color looked almost black or dark purple).

Now just some random pictures of people and places along the way. Again, we were in Samoa, Fiji, Tonga, Cook Islands (Rarotonga), Bora-Bora, Mo’orea, Tahiti, then 5 sea days to Hawaii (Oahu and Maui), and then 5 sea days to San Diego.

We loved seeing chapels and Temples in the places we visited.

We didn’t get another one of MEE being terrified, but I add the picture from last year (on a Gondola ride HIGH above the jungle in Australia) just as a reminder of my morbid fear of heights….

And then the ever-popular picture of me and Leanne in our life jackets in Antarctica in 2014:

And we had to have a re-enactment (of course!!!)

Then a picture I think I already posted of us in Hawaii with my wonderful niece Wendy

It was truly “the trip of a lifetime,” and I feel so thankful to have been able to do this. The ship is still moving for me (this happens every single time I go out on the sea)… it affects my balance for quite a while after I’m off the ship (really a weird feeling!!!).  But OH… well worth it. What an incredible journey!!!

 

MAUI – WHALES

I know it’s been quite a while since I’ve posted anything. I guess there wasn’t too much to tell about our 5 sea days. But it’s been so amazing to look out as far as you can see, and it’s still the Pacific Ocean (larger than ALL the land masses joined together!). Great to see the moon rise, and some sun rises. We slept, we ate (and ate and ate), and the six of us found a great place to sit and play games (I brought “Bananagram,” and others had difference games). It was such fun being together. And the lectures by Michael Wilcox have been fantastic. We laughed so hard during his lecture on Mark Twain! Some of our group left yesterday, including our dear friends Tyna and Jeff Bean. They flew home around noon, and Michael and others later in the day. More are flying from here (Maui) later today. And the rest of us will have another 5 sea days on our way to San Diego!

Yesterday we were on OAHU. So beautiful!! The mountains fascinate me! A long but good day. Leanne and I rented a car (we’d seen the local sites several times, so we didn’t join the group for Pearl Harbor, the PCC, and other stops) and drove to the Laie Temple and enjoyed the noon session.

And then we drove to visit my niece Wendy, who lives in Kailua. She and her daughter Elysia treated us to a delightful lunch on their porch, and we had a great visit. I ate a whole papaya (with lime juice) – I have been SO disappointed that the only place I’d had papaya so far was in Samoa; can’t figure out why they don’t have it on the ship!). It was great having time with them! (I’m going to try to post some pictures).

Today: MAUI. This is one island I’ve never been to. It’s beautiful. We have seen several WHALES! Frolicking! Such fun!!! One breeched and others just splashed around. Nice being on shore and seeing a marvelous banyan tree (like a group of trees) and lots of tourist attractions (shops and such-like).

And now back on the boat. I’m continuing to have a LOT of fun using some Tagalog with the workers from the Philippines, and Bahasa with those from Indonesia. Pretty unusual to have an old woman speaking their language and singing some songs. HA HA.

We’ve all been doing a lot of reading. Leanne and I are reading one together of a Vietnamese family who escaped on a boat in around 1979 and ended up in Arkansas. Very well written, and we’ve learned a lot about what so many of those “boat people” went through. I loved it that our taxi driver (to the Hertz place yesterday) was from Vietnam. I’ve read 3 other books (we share with each other).

It turns out that with Michael gone I was asked to give some talks. I gave a short message in our church meeting this recent Sunday, and I have 3 more opportunities before we get to San Diego. So I’d better spend some time preparing. Thanks for the notes and comments – I’m sorry I’m not responding, and not posting very much. Oh well. Thanks for “tuning in.” I hope you all had a nice Valentine’s Day. We were each (the women) given a long-stemmed rose. Leanne and I gave ours to some who didn’t get one (can you say “allergies” ?).  (I’m having a problem with the internet… it might be a while before I can post this).

 

BORA BORA

Incredible! A fantastic day! We went out on small “outrigger canoes” in groups of around 10 with native fellows as our guides, and we had a BLAST! We were “up and out” for around 6 hours, got off the boat three times – first for stingrays (and I kissed one! REALLY! And oh how I hope someone got a picture!!!). Next for little sharks (they only looked about 4-5 feet long and had the most exotic fins (if that’s what they’re called)—they looked hand-painted. And then we went towards the atoll which surrounds Bora Bora and folks did a whole lot of snorkeling. I “went under” a few times, and it really is “a whole new world.” What a great day! This place is SO beautiful! We had lots of rain – some lightning and thunder – and we all got SOAKED…again and again… but we sure had fun doing so. I wish I could send pictures! I will eventually. I’m not sure how well my camera’s working – everything got SO WET! It’s now Tuesday 07 February, I think (I’m so mixed up!). We did laundry last night and this morning (for the first time… so we had a LOT). Feels good to have everything clean. We’re at Mo’orea, French Polynesia today. Then it looks like 2 days in and near Papeete (French Polynesia). Then our 5 sea days as we head for HONOLULU. We’re having a great time. Eating plenty (yep… our clothes are a bit “tighter”). Sleeping well at night. NO nausea at all (and the seas have been a bit “choppy” at times). I still can hardly believe I’m seeing all these amazing places, meeting such kind and happy people, and having such unique experiences.  I’m sending lots of love!!  MEE

SOUTH PACIFIC-02 Feb2017

GOOD MORNING! It’s a beautiful day on the ship (finally – we got on board yesterday, and it feels great… we’ve had some pretty HOT and HUMID days “on shore.”).

I know I posted a short note on FB (maybe from Samoa?). I now have a package of 1000 minutes for the next almost 3 weeks. I’m using it carefully. Being online is 25 cents per minutes. So I’m writing things “off-line” and then will jump on and get them sent/posted.  (I know, I know… it’s such a brilliant idea). I’m hoping I can post a picture or two eventually … we’ll see (no success on that yet).

My favorite thing so far was Fiji. I love that place! It’s not nearly as hot and humid as Samoa or Tonga … and of course some of that is because I was in the “infinity pool” for 2 ½ hours! I was breathing freely, no sneezing… just a great time. AND: We found our dear friend Liti in the dining room! We made friends with her last year. As we approached her (after she’d had 2 days off!… I was afraid we weren’t going to be able to see her), I smiled and said “Do you remember us??” And we just squealed and hugged, and it was SO GOOD to see her again. She was SO kind to us last year.

We’ve had these amazing blessings with people. We met several returned missionaries in Samoa, and one of them had served in Perth and is acquainted with my companion Jill Bousfield (2nd mission in the Philippines), now Grinceri. Small world! One brother had served in Alaska, and he said it was so COLD, but that he LOVES Alaska! (I’m thinking I may have told you some of these things before… sorry about that. I need to keep track).

An incredibly wonderful young man helped us as we were leaving Samoa! He served in San Francisco and loved his mission so much. And he went out of his way to be kind to us. His name is Benson; he was named after the Prophet when he was born. He wheeled me the rest of the way and we had some good chats. Also met a fellow who served in Manila! And it was fun talking to him (and singing a Tagalog folk song to him).

The place we stayed in Fiji is the same place as a year ago, and it’s incredible! Really wonderful. More great people, too (of course). We ran into some people from Leanne’s ward – they were just finishing the same tour we took last year (Australia and New Zealand, and finishing up in Fiji before flying home).

2 days ago we flew from Fiji to Tonga. I have to say that we were all SO FINISHED with having to have 50 lbs in our big bag and only 15 lbs in our carry-on… but at the same time I have to say we were SO BLESSED, because they didn’t weigh our back packs as part of our carry-on. That would have been disastrous (ha).

It was great to land in Tonga – another place I’ve never been. Very hot, very tropical. Total chaos at the airport. HOT, muggy. But I got another wheelchair, and it turns out that the woman who helped me had served her mission in the PHILIPPINES! (We just kept running across great LDS people; it was great having so much in common). But ALL the people (with very few exceptions) have been so kind, so helpful.  I asked this woman if she remember Staccie West, my good friend (whom I met when I was her nursing instructor at BYU those many years ago). She served a health mission to Tonga. This young woman was SO EXCITED when I mentioned her name! “OH! We LOVE HER!!!” Fun. Such fun.

We had a LONG time in the heat there… we had to pay $16 (and so first had to get money exchanged) in order to get out of the airport and onboard the ship. We got outside… HOT!! And VERY humid. And they had an old school bus for us. No air conditioning. But we had to wait over an hour, because some luggage didn’t arrive (our smallish plane was stuff full, but not all luggage made it), so LOTS of paper work had to be filled out. That was hard. We drove about 3 minutes to the “Scenic Hotel.” All I wanted to do was get inside and go to sleep (ha… quite a wimp I am). We were all HOT and SWEATY. I don’t know if anyone ate dinner – I didn’t even look at it. The report was that it wasn’t too great.

Leanne and I had decided to skip the tour and come to the ship early. It was a fantastic decision (made more so by the reports we had of how HOT the tour was; I’d never have made it). We had a fun taxi driver for the 4 of us (a couple joined us). It turns out our taxi driver is the husband of the desk clerk there in Tonga – and they’re expecting a little girl in 5 months. Leo, our driver (and Leslie) are wonderful. He served in the Philippines! As we drove towards the port, Leo showed and explained lots of things we were seeing. Fascinating. We saw at least 4 LDS chapels; one is a middle school.

We’re on Holland America’s Maasdam, Rm 729. Leanne and I had some lunch yesterday, and then we had our assigned table for dinner with our 4 friends: The Dilworths (from Arkansas) and the Beans (from Vancouver WA). We had a great time. Our servers are from Indonesia,, and that made it extra fun. Our 2 room stewards are also Indonesian. And I’ve run into lots of Filipinos too.

This is MUCH longer than I had imagined… but it’s just fun sharing some of the adventures, and some of the SWEET experiences with people in these “faraway places with strange-sounding names.” Oh, I forgot to say that Leanne got me a little magnet from the Robert Louise Stevenson home in Samoa – you may remember that he retired there.  And I have to say that I get to celebrate my sister Charlotte’s 75th birthday TWICE!… (Groundhog Day). We re-cross the international dateline sometime tonight.

We’re stopped at Vavau today, the on to places like Nieue, Bora-Bora, French Polynesia . . . And we start our fantastic lectures onboard the ship from Mike Wilcox (he’s the reason we chose this particular trip). He’s SO GOOD!!!

I’ll write again when I can.  Thanks for the notes from you. I’m sorry I can’t respond to all of them. I’m thankful for the blessing of being part of this group and having such amazing experiences.  I’m going to try to include a picture or two. We’ll see . . . . (I haven’t had much success with that yet).  With much, much love, MEE

P.S. I haven’t been able to get on the internet, so I have NO idea how long it will be before I can post this. “Stay tuned” (ha ha).

More than I can handle

HANDLE

I came across this thought a while ago and have been thinking about it a LOT. The more I’ve pondered, the more I began to agree. I can think of many specific experiences in my life where I was convinced I’d received more than I could handle. And I learned early that the sooner I turned to my Heavenly Father for Heavenly Help, the sooner I was able to handle the seemingly impossible things which came along. I love the way Mother Teresa (she was always a Saint) expressed this:

M.Teresa1

When we’re faced with challenges – with experiences which seem impossible to handle – we know where to turn. Most of us could probably ask for priesthood blessings more than we do. Sometimes perhaps we have a feeling that “oh, I can handle this … I should probably get as few blessings as possible. I can take care of this on my own.” Uh… that might not be the best way to handle challenges in our days and lives. It sounds and feels a bit more like pride than humility.

handle03

There are lessons to be learned from Job – from his grief and suffering. There is a divine purpose in the things we face in life. We need enough trust in God that we don’t let any suffering or discouragement cause bitterness. This is like poison to our soul. It is possible to handle sorrow, suffering, loneliness, fear, discouragement and so on in a positive way – with faith and trust. We are being tested. And our reaction to all that comes our way is an indication of how strong and deep our faith and trust are.

handle09

I don’t know if I’ve expressed any of this very well. We might ask more often things like “What is my Heavenly Father trying to teach me right now?” “What am I to learn about myself through this experience?” “Have I ignored any promptings as to how I should respond to this situation?” There have been many times in my long-and-getting-longer life when I’ve felt I had reached the absolute outer limits of my abilities… and I know there are times when I’ve waited too long to plead for Help.

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I hope this post might help you (and mee too) as we face some challenging times as the days and years go by. This is food for thought, and I’ve been pondering it for several days, and am still not sure if I’ve expressed my thoughts adequately. Oh well. If it helps even one person to know that it’s TRUE that we won’t be given more than we – with Heavenly Help – can handle! We can always count on this Help as we respond to the invitation to “Come unto Christ.” He can help us become increasingly perfect: whole, complete, pure, holy). He can help us handle anything.

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I found this little poem which reminds me of my childhood. I was 9 years old when this poem appeared in the Improvement Era in 1949. It is called HANDS and was written by Ora Pate Stewart.

I DO NOT ask for sculptured ivory hands   Whose lily-whiteness softens to the touch-

Though beauty, for itself, is much desired.   The beauty I desire is not so much

Of scented lily cups. My hands will know   The moist warm feel of loamy, furrowed earth,

And more – the hard round handle of the hoe.   But make them soft enough to dry the cheeks

Where little tears are spilled; and skilled to mend   Where overalls, and hearts, and lives are torn;

And on occasion, strengthen them to lend   An ivory firmness when the cause is right.

But O toward the ending of the day,   Give them the suppleness to fold and pray.

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STUFF and THINGS – CLUTTER

I live in a storage unit. I’ll bet some of you didn’t know that. Well, I shouldn’t really call my home that… but there is SO MUCH CLUTTER! I can blame it on a lot of things (and I’m pretty good with creative excuses, in case you were wondering). I have a hard time letting go of things which are precious to me (there are just WAY TOO MANY “precious things!”)… Also I’m one of those who thinks that someday there will be time for a particular project or idea… or “someday I’ll need this!” Oh sure . . . . like when I’m 135.

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And little did I know, when I moved here 10 years ago, that I’d moved into a flood plain (I don’t know what else to call it). I’ve had 12 floods. This has been very disruptive to my plan for “getting organized” (I think I use that phrase more than any other… may it’s a tie between that and “aging is getting on my nerves!”). The basement is filled with matter unorganized. I’ve been working hard to change that. If I ever EVER really “get organized,” I think I’ll have an Open House so everyone can celebrate with me. At the rate I’m going, that will likely happen on my 90th birthday…

OK… I know some of you can understand what I’m saying. I’m giving my best effort to turning my storage unit back into a home. And I have to say that at least I can park my car in the garage (some of you cringed at that remark… maybe it’s been years since you’ve been able to do it). And there IS a trail through the basement….  But OH! The CLUTTER! (I wonder who thought up that word). Clutter is like a MAGNET!! Do you know what I mean? You put something down – an item of clothing, a piece of paper, a book… anything!… and within minutes there’s a PILE! YES! Some of you have experienced this phenomenon (with which I am way too familiar). We’re supposed to magnify our CALLINGS, not our CLUTTER! Sigh . . . . So much of my clutter brings back sweet memories to me. I used to look at the future more than the past, but that seems to be changing as I get older. I don’t LIVE in the past, but really enjoy visiting! And some of my “stuff and things” bring back the memories. Like I found a tiny piece of paper, folded so tightly for so long that I could hardly open it… and the memories flooded in – it was an assignment my violin teacher Mr. Halversen gave me. A short little note about Joseph Haydn that I kept in my small wooden violin case (it was my Dad’s, and I learned on it… it was a 3/4 size violin).  ….

But I’m having some feelings about clutter which make me uncomfortable. It’s not just when my youngest sister Ann talks to me about Feng Shui (I have a tiny TINY little book which makes me laugh: the title is “Feng Shui for Dummies”… I can’t remember whether or not I’ve given a copy to Ann). I know some of you may have read the book I wrote about “You can never get enough of what you don’t need,” and I even gave some advice (I think it was in that book) about how to LET GO of “stuff and things” (oh do I ever use THAT phrase a lot!!). I try to put in practice a couple of things I suggested – like taking pictures of things which are hard to let go of, to give away. Or saying to yourself “Self, there is likely someone who needs this more than I do,” and then donating it to D.I. or Good Will or whatever is close to you. So I’m trying to practice what I’ve preached. (Is this turning into a confession??) (Maybe).

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There are some things I’ve found (and “re-found”) which have been SO helpful. My friend Whitney shared information about a book titled The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up. The author is Marie Kondo. She reminds me that “Visible mess helps distract us from the true source of the disorder.” And: “When you put your house in order, you put your affairs and your past in order too.” Wow!

And there are lots of suggestions, like the 80/20 rule for clothing (and other “stuff”): If you’re only wearing 20% of the clothing in your closet(s) 80% of the time, get rid of the things you’re not wearing and will likely never wear again…. And you can do this with books (OUCH!!!), computer parts, doo-dads, kitchen stuff, ETC. If you’re not using it, let someone else use it! Give it away! (And don’t be tempted to fill the space you’ve created, ha ha).

And then there is this incredibly important advice from Elder William R. Bradford, which I’ve had and read several times since April of 1992(!!)…. I’m going to share it with you this morning, because I think there might be one or two of you who are struggling – as I am – with clutter. EEEEEEEK!!!!!!  UNCLUTTER YOUR LIVES!  “A cluttered life is a life that you do not have control of,” Elder Bradford said. “It is a life in which the things you have surrounded yourself with, and allow to use your time, are controlling you, and negatively influencing your happiness and eternal progress.”  He said that lives can be cluttered by many things. Some are obvious, such as material things, “the stuff we collect.” Other things that clutter lives and use up time are not as obvious as the material. They are more subtle and just seem to evolve, taking control of lives. “We give our lives to that which we give our time,” Elder Bradford explained. To unclutter one’s life, Elder Bradford admonished, much has to be discarded. “To do this we need to develop a list of basics, a list of those things that are indispensable to our mortal welfare and happiness and our eternal salvation. This list must follow the gospel pattern and contain the elements needed for our sanctification and perfection. It must be the product of inspiration and prayerful judgment between the things we really need and the things we just want. It should separate need from greed.” At the top of a list of basics must be the family. “Next only to our devotion to God, the family comes first,” he emphasized. “A mother should never allow herself to become so involved with extras that she finds herself neglecting her divine role. A father must not let any activity, no matter how interesting or important it may seem, keep him from giving of himself in the one‑on‑one service and close, constant care of each member of the family.” Elder Bradford explained that young people need to learn that “none of the exciting, entertaining and fun things” are worth it if they take them off the path that will lead them back to their Heavenly Father. He said that one needs to ask some serious and soul‑searching questions. “One of these questions would surely be, ‘Do I have time for prayer?’ I mean sincere, honest, from the depths of the contrite spirit and a broken heart prayer. “The next question would be, ‘Do I study the scriptures?’ I solemnly testify to you that the holy scriptures are the word of God. Constant study of them is the act of holding to the rod of iron. They will guide you to the tree of life. I exhort you to go to the tree of life where you will find the pure love of God.” With an uncluttered life, he continued, “you will not be so busy doing terrestrial things that you do not have time to do those things which are celestial. God’s plan is a plan of simplicity. I urge you to clear away the clutter. Take your life back. Use your willpower. Learn to say no to those things that will rob you of your precious time and infringe upon your agency to choose to live in exactness to God’s plan of happiness and exaltation.”

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I like the way he related it to the fact that our LIVES may be cluttered, and not just our homes or garages or offices or basement or drawers or closets or . . . (OK, I’m getting carried away!). One thing I’ve done a couple of times and am going to do again is have a “MEE-MALL” for my family. I put out a “ton” of things I no longer need, and they can come on a certain day and take anything they want home with them! (Send your clutter to your children or your neighbors or friends!!). Then the rest goes to D.I. I’ve thought of having MEE-BAY, where I send an email with a list of things I no longer need which they might enjoy having, and the only cost is postage (or they can come and pick things up). My younger sister Charlotte and I used to “clean our room” (we shared a room until she turned 18 and went away to Ricks College) and then “hand it down” to our younger brothers and sisters. It made THEM happy, but not our Mother quite as much…. We tried to convince her we were “recycling.” She tried to teach us what “SPRING CLEANING” really meant.

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Someday I plan to post a Blog exclaiming that I am “clutter free!” (And I hope I live long enough to do that).   NOTE TO MEE-SELF:

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