Monday, January 28, 2008

In memorium

I never met President Hinckley. I never spoke to him or shook his hand. But, he made a big impact on my life just the same.

When I was 19 I went on to Nicaragua as a missionary, but what most people don't know is that I almost didn't go. After I got my mission call that explained which mission I was going to and when, I had a terrible internal debate and had decided not to go on my mission.

After recieving a mission call, the Church asks the prospective missionary to send in a letter accepting the responsibility. I had the letter in my bag and in it I explained that I didn't feel up to the challenge, that I didn't have the conviction to do it, that it meant leaving behind a life I still wanted, but I hadn't mailed it yet.

I was in the BYU philharmonic at the time and we had a fundraising gig that night as part of BYU's capital campaign. I didn't realize that President Hinckley was going to be there or that he would speak. I was sitting near front and the orchestra was directly behind the podium. During the concert, President Hinckley got up to speak. I was a few feet away, but looking at his back as he spoke to the crowd. Next to me was my notebook with my letter, like the tell-tale heart.

I don't remember what we played, or what President Hinckley said. It was something about the importance of BYU and need for our support I imagine. But what I remember is being in that room, with the letter turning down my mission call, and hearing him speak. I knew that I had done the wrong thing. He was just what he said that he was, the prophet, and since I knew that, I had to go. My doubts about everything else and myself were could not stand up to that.

I went home, rewrote my letter, and went.

Things have fallen in place since. I am a plant breeder because of a bus trip through Juigalpa as I watched the harvest and the processing of coffee beans. I was riding there with Elder Sparkman and we were discussing the imports and exports of rice and wheat. The impression was so clear of what I wanted to do. I was amazed to find out that it was an actual job with a major and everything when I returned to school. I met my wife in my first genetics class. I got my first lab job from the recommendation of my genetics prof. From that naturally grew my masters thesis. While presenting my research at meetings I was introduced to the VP of research of cotton inc and offered a fellowship for a PhD. Now I am here, working at a popcorn company as a plant breeder.

But at each turning point, there has been that moment of clarity where I knew what direction I should go. And the doors were opened. That moment in the performance hall listening to President Hinckley was not the first time, but so much of my life has hinged on that decision made in that moment because he really was the prophet.

May he rest in peace.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Who to vote for?

I am disappointed that Gov. Richardson has dropped out of the race. I was actually excited about a presidential candidate and felt like he had a real chance, especially if he was the candidate against Romney or McCain. So now I am undecided again. American public media put out the following survey that attempts to match your responses with that of the slate of republican and democratic party candidates. It then lets you compare your results with that of other participants. Each response is weighted by how important you say that issue is to you.

I was not surprised to see that my responses matched the democrats the best, but was surprised to see that my answers matched that of John Edwards and Hilary Clinton more than the others. I just don't like either of them though so it does not answer my dilemna. Of the republicans, I like John McCain and Mitt Romney. Because I am mormon I root for Mitt Romney because he is one of us, but I would probably be more likely to vote for McCain.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Christmas vacation and the flu

We went to Utah and Idaho over the break and saw almost the whole family. It had been a long time. We love being in Indiana, except that our families are all far away. We miss out on a lot because of that.

We met Leila's family in Utah at the Laketown lodge. It was a great place to stay, with plenty of room for everyone, games and plenty of TVs, video games, and a movie theater room.

It was a full house and unfortunately Aleah got sick and threw up periodically.
She didn't spread it around too much, but we tried to keep her isolated. We went cross country skiing, sledding, and made snow sculptures in the park.

Then we went to my mom's house in Boise with Jon and Charlotte and Sammy and my mom. Sammy had been sick with the flu and was on the mend; he had been in the hospital because of dehydration. Aleah still was throwing up every day or two, but was in great spirits and didn't act sick at all. The first night we had a big family dinner with all of us siblings and families. Mom even convinced Rich to invite his girlfriend and her daughter. We ate and ate and ate. Mom makes these orange rolls that just melt. I think I ate a dozen. A couple of days later Leila and I got sick and so did Rich's girlfriend. It didn't last too long, but no good.

The best part of the trip was seeing everyone. The girls played with their cousins and I talked and talked and read and ate. So all of my favorite activities.

Our last night we stayed in Salt Lake City at a hotel near temple square. I returned the rental car at the airport and then took the bus back to downtown. I missed my stop and had to walk a dozen blocks, which is a lot in Salt Lake. Aleah threw up in the car as we were driving and then again in the hotel room, but Leila and Emily were able to go walk around Temple Square for a while and see the sights.

Monday, January 07, 2008