Monday, August 28, 2006

There Was a Missionary Went Forth

Here's another I've had in reserve so y'all will have something to read while I'm busy with life. See some of you at EG Conference!

There Was a Missionary Went Forth

After Walt Whitman's “There Was a Child Went Forth”

There was a missionary went forth every day,

And every object he looked upon, that object he became

And that object became part of him for the day or a certain part of the day,

Or for the whole two years or for all the rest of his years.

The mangy perros became part of this missionary,

And the frosted white fig trees and hail, and warm bags of roasted chestnuts tucked under his coat,

And the Antarctic wind roaring across the icy waves,

And the neighbor’s gigantic roan ox, and the fat turkeys, and the gregarious pengüinos,

And the muddy roads that try to swallow travelers’ feet, and the snow falling in the streetlights onto the black rolling ocean,

And the vaulted sky feeling so far away, and the sun setting like mixing paint behind the jagged cerro,

And the clouds parting on the horizon to let through picturesque shards of dawn, all became part of him.

The blackberry bushes and the frambuesa became part of him,

Flaky empenadas and frozen brown bananas, and the guinea fowl chattering in the back yard,

And the angry river threatening to rise right up to the house, and the weeks with no sunlight, and the mist swirling upon the perfectly reflective mountain lake right in the middle of town,

And the old drunk man begging by the bus stop,

And the teenage snakes, whistling, and vying for attention,

And the government employed women gossiping in an empty field with shovels, and the

shopkeepers in their tiendas, mindlessly watching their novelas,

And the viejitos crossing themselves for protection as they walked by, and the sad

Prostitutas on the corner by the bar,

And the crazy Mamita, laughing at her own jokes, kwa kwa kwa,

And the investigator who never quit smoking, and his hijitas with the most beautiful brown eyes,

And the old man in the hut, tending his pollitos and never missing church,

And the escrituras, the only friends from back home allowed to come along,

And all the wonders of ocean and mountain wherever he went.

His parents sent letters, which came to a p.o. box in Panguipulli, and then were forwarded on the bus that was the only inlet and outlet of the town,

The letters that sustained him and tied him to the realities of home.

Mother at home, offering advice and quoting scripture,

Mother asking for prayers, and encouraging and worrying, sending food and ties and most importantly a “Love, Mom” every week like clockwork,

Father, seldom, jocular, narrow-minded, faithless, supportive,

His letters, emphasis steered away from matters of God and faith and accountability,

The postcards, the packages, the biannual phone calls, the newspaper clippings, the admonitions,

The temptations of el diablo, the whisperings of the spirit, the shadow of doubt creeping in,

Hunger for knowledge, trust in companions, whom to teach and where to go,

Whether a day’s labor has made any difference, Whether the standards taught are the standards lived,

Men and women and families walking by in the streets, and which ones would be receptive?

The high, overly paved roads and the silly Toyland-colored houses, and the panaderías with their sticky berlíneres,

Taxicabs, carts pulled by bueyes, ice-slicked hills, frozen dirt paths converging in el centro,

Fallen fences, tundra, grapevines, wood smoke filling the valley,

The view from up on the hill where the whole village, the whole flock, looked like one sunken bustling jewel box,

The workers lining up outside the mousetrap factory and the lechería in the dark hours of morning,

The sheets of ice careening in the Straight of Magellan,

The stars striving to outshine each other,

The fleas and the bedbugs dead from the cold the next day,

The spot on the ground that leads through the earth’s mantle and comes up back home,

The stiff frozen line of laundry, the smells of running water and shivering sweat, the boots tragically still wet when it’s time to put them on again,

The desperate love, the long-sought testimony, the sincere prayers, and the sturdy faith,

These became a part of that missionary who went forth every day, and who now goes, and will always go forth and thrust in his sickle every day.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

California Love

Here are the highlights from the trip Pinetree, Carrot, and I took to California:


6:30 p.m.: We finally get on the road, after encountering traffic, having to stop to pay a phone bill, waiting for a friend who didn’t end up coming with us, and getting me some delicious succulent Chik-fil-A.

7:00 p.m.: We’re notice we forgot to get gas, so we head back, but only after making a wrong turn somewhere and driving out along some road that seems to go out into the center of the “Great” Salt Lake, surrounded on both sides by stinky water. “This is the place, dammit,” insists Pinetree. We eventually find a gas station in a God-forsaken little pueblo called “Grantsville,” ten miles off the freeway. We consider getting a hotel there, but decide against when we realize we’re still within sight of where we started.


1:00 a.m.: About an hour into my driving shift, Carrot notices that we’re almost out of gas. That’s okay, because there’s a town up ahead. Unfortunately, there’s not actually anything IN that town. We run out of gas about 6 miles east of Winnemucca, Nevada. I manage to get us off the freeway and almost all the way to a rest stop, but not quite. We discover that there is another car broken down nearby, covered in inches of dust. Our prospects look grim. Pinetree reveals that he has roadside assistance, and thankfully an hour and a half later a nice fat man we dubbed “Cesar” and his scary white assistant we named “Large Marge” bring us gas. A cop shows up, and Cesar tricks me into thinking that it’s illegal to run out of gas in Nevada. I totally fall for it. As we get back on our way, Pinetree dedicates Salt & Pepa’s “What a Man” to Cesar. Also we decide to never stop for gas again, since roadside assistance people can always just bring it to you.

5:30 a.m.: We are in Reno. I really need a taco, but every taco place we find is closed. I start to slowly lose my mind, and Carrot begins to look more and more like a taco in my sight. I let her take the wheel, before I eat it.

7:30 a.m.: We arrive in Sacramento at my brother Nanny’s house. We make him get in the car and take us to where there are tacos. It’s a place called Adalbertaco’s, but for some reason by now I’m craving a burrito instead. Nanny and his wife are very gracious hosts.

2:30 p.m.: We wake up and go. Pinetree drives us to Carrot’s Gammy’s house in Napa. Then he goes to hang out with his high school friends in San Jose.

6:00 p.m.: Carrot and I eat with dinner with Tox and two old school chums, PFB and Mack. It’s good conversation, but the service is TERRIBLE. Plus I somehow get tricked into once again eating Italian, which I already know I hate. Ice cream after makes everything better. I spend the night at Tox’s, and Carrot goes to San Francisco to go clubbing with her mission friend. Pinetree and his friend Tootsie Roll come to Tox’s as well.


3:00 p.m.: Our day is just getting started and we’re at the Jelly Belly factory. By the miracle of miracles, we get Jennifer O as our tour guide.

Background on Jennifer O: She’s been in love with me since the day we met, Sunday school when we were both eleven. Also, she’s, well, special. She’s a genius, and I believe she has a wild case of Asperger’s Syndrome. She wrote me every week of my mission, more even than my mother did, special letters on unicorn stationery that covered topics from ESP to the time I said hello to her after 2nd period Choir when we were in 7th grade. She was there at the airport when I got home from my mission, sighing wistfully about how she wished I’d been released already so she could hug me. In more recent times, my obnoxious brother, Ouija encountered her at the supermarket and told her I’d always been in love with her. Thanks Ouija. Bastard.

So here she comes “cascading down the golden staircase” as Carrot puts it, pigtails in a hair net, fanny pack in place, and she’s OUR tour guide. Carrot almost dies in paroxysms of anticipation and delight. After the tour, Jennifer seeks me out and we have a “chat.” Jennifer tells me how crazy it’s been lately. “How long do you expect to be crazy?” I ask with a grin. At least through the summer. Okay, I didn't realize that's one of the symptoms, not being able to figure out when people are making clever jokes about you. I feel bad. Satisfied? Carrot asks about Jennifer’s fanny pack, since she herself used to collect them when she was “little.” Jennifer shows us all the contents of her bag, including a pad which she intends to use to write down my e-mail address. “Why don’t you just give her your cell number?” Carrot pushes. “Murmur murmur cricket phone,” I respond, and give her the address. Both Carrot and Jennifer think is cute, and it freaks me out to see them agreeing. Fortunately at this point, another visitor arrives.

5:00 p.m.: It’s my dad, and he’s driven over to Fairfield to see us, but doesn’t have time to eat with us. He’s acting extra shady, and who even knows what to suspect with him anymore? Carrot runs us through the usual (but funny) jokes about my dad’s being “Hot Rob” and how she’s going to be my mom someday. She tells Tootsie Roll to let her know about the dreams he’s bound to have about my dad the next morning.

6:00 p.m.: Dinner at Chevy’s which I like a million times more than the Mexican restaurant where I am currently a manager. Lad and Carrot’s cousin Dorothy meet us there, along with Dorothy’s new baby, Toby, which during the course of the meal ended up eating limes and french fries, getting stabbed (playfully?) by Carrot with a knife, and kidnapped by yours truly while the mom was in the bathroom.

10:00 p.m.: Back to Nanny’s. His wife has made dinner for us, but we decide to eat it for breakfast. We play Catchphrase, and the wife ends up being the big victor. She’s really great, and I’m glad cousin Dorothy hooked them up on their blind date a few years back.


1:00 a.m.: Captain Moroni helps me trick Carrot into setting up her own Myspace account. We stay up late and laugh a lot.

9:00 a.m.: I wake up and take a shower. Carrot reveals that she is NOT a morning person. Tootsie Roll wakes her up with news of his dreams about my dad, thus endearing himself to all of us. Nanny MAKES doughnuts (I know, I know: who knew you could MAKE them, right?) and we eat the leftover casserole that his wife made.

10:30 a.m.: we meet up with Don Music, who takes us rafting all day. Highlights from rafting include when Tootsie Roll tried to climb up to the jumping rock, but it was too far and he just climbed down again, and also when we tricked Tootsie roll into jumping into the rapids but then we lost track of him and he ended up clinging to a rock for quite a while as we gathered up the tow rope again and again to try to get it thrown to him.

6:00 p.m.: We stop at a gas station to check the fluids. Carrot gets on her gloves and starts doing stuff under the hood until two self-proclaimed “camel jockeys” come and rescue us. We talk religion and politics with them, and it’s great. Instead of “bye,” they wave us off with a “Stop bombing Lebanon!” Also, at one point, I am able to trick the camel jockey man into thinking I am Saudi Arabian, after he’s been railing on them for a while.

7:00 p.m. Carrot and I fake-offer to help make dinner, but are taken up on the offer. Carrot freaks out when onion-cutting gets in her eyes. Don Music’s family decides they love us in spite of our utter uselessness, and feeds us salmon, chicken, squash, fruit salad, cobb salad, and rolls on nice plates with a table cloth and real napkins and everything. Then banana splits for dessert, and we fall asleep on the trampoline watching the meteor shower.

Friday: We drive home. I knock out most of Nevada. We don’t run out of gas. All is well.

The end.

p.s. If you happen to see me, remember to ask me about Becki at the movie theatre.