Apr 29, 2020

COVID-19 - Strange and Interesting Times

My kids are getting bored, always staying at home, but today they took things to a new level.

They built a yurt.

By definition,  a yurt is a collapsible structure covered with blankets and skins.

They started with our dome-shaped monkey bars or "spider," then they dragged outside pretty much every blanket in the house that wasn't attached to a bed. They even set a table and chairs inside and covered the ground with the last blanket.

I was told it was the perfect spot for a picnic and to do homework.

Yeah... right...

Apr 27, 2020

COVID-19 - Making Masks

You know I spent a good part of my week making 50 cloth masks for a couple of different businesses (and doing a LOT of laundry), but what you don't know is that I also spent a fair amount of time making masks to be donated through our church and a group of charities providing 5 million masks.

Although not as daunting as the cloth masks, the 100 surgical grade masks required to be turned in on Saturday morning after a full week of sewing looked impossible on Friday morning as I opened the plastic bag full of precut pieces.

That's about when I started reading the text chain from my Relief Society sisters. They were all finished with their masks and when I confided my plight, within minutes they had offered relief.

The 40 still left in my bag were manageable and Crafty and I had them in the collection bin well before the Saturday morning drop off time.

I am so grateful to these sweet ladies who had already given what they had committed to give. I'm sure their hands hurt from the pin pricks and their backs ached just like mine and yet still, they came to the rescue for me.

Charity never Faileth.

Thank you again, my sweet sisters.

Apr 21, 2020

COVID-19 Changes Everything

The world seems like such a scary place lately, yet when I walk outside my front door, it seems almost normal. I was in a grocery store last week for the first time since before my surgery in February. Everything is so different. Santized carts, plexiglass, empty shelves...

Even my skills are being used differently. I had orders for two different companies this week who wanted me to make facemasks for them. I'm terrified that my embroidery machine or my serger might stop working since there is no one open to fix them.

Even the black elastic I ordered from Amazon that I would have normally gotten in 2 days took almost a week to get to me.

How did this all happen? We are supposed to be living in a world where nothing can shake us. And yet, the entire world has fallen to its knees. The total known death toll in Utah is at 28 today. We are so much better off since our Governor took early measures and closed things quickly. Some states like New York are cheering that their overnight death toll from COVID-19 is under 500. That is just the death count for a single day!

I don't like uncertainty. I like order. And control over my own little corner of the world. I don't like knowing that all of that "control" is truly an illusion.

Apr 20, 2020

Sunday Social Distancing

We had so much fun this afternoon at the Willow Park in Sandy. We weren't the only ones there, and I'm happy to say that of the 6 or 7 families, all of them were very good at following the social distancing rules.
My kids must have cabin fever, because the first thing they wanted to do was set up the hammocks and then play some lawn games.
They love spikeball, but I think their favorite was tossing the frisbee around.
My sweetie, Baby Doll, and I walked the little trail that circled the park. It was just so nice to get some fresh air. It was almost like old times...

Apr 16, 2020

Guest Blog: Leaving the Philippines by Crafty

I have been meaning to write this for a long time. But for some reason I couldn’t. It was too painful for me, I guess. Somehow it felt like once I put what it felt like to leave into words, it would be all over. Leaving the Philippines was one of the hardest things I have ever done in my entire life. Leaving my home to go to the MTC was nothing in comparison to the heartache I felt when I left the Philippines. It didn’t just feel like I was leaving my home, it felt like I was leaving myself behind. And in many ways I was. So how did this all happen? Well, I entered my area, Mercedes, in December of 2019. I loved my first area. Training was a little rough, but I loved being a missionary. I loved testifying everyday and sharing my love of Jesus Christ with others. I had just finished my 12 weeks of training when the Lord called us all back to our homes. There were a lot of events that lead up to this event, but it was Tuesday, March 16th, that changed everything. 

 It was supposed to be transfer day, but they had called the day before and canceled transfers and told us we were no longer allowed to proselyte. On Tuesday morning we got a text saying we needed a two-week supply of food, and that if we didn’t have enough food, we needed to go out immediately and buy some. Sister V and I went out to the market in Mercedes and we hurried to buy fruits and vegetables. As we were leaving, we were stopped by a police officer. He asked Sister V a lot of questions about me (I guess they didn’t think I could speak Tagalog). They said that they had to track all of the foreigners so they got my full name and birthdate. They took pictures of me and asked me why I was in the country, how long I had been there, when I was leaving, etc. They were perfectly polite, but it was a little bit scary. We quickened our step on the way home. 

After we got home, we ate lunch and were minding our business as usual when we got a text asking if I had an ID. And then a few minutes later we got a text saying that all foreign missionaries needed to pack a suitcase and be ready to leave at a moment's notice. I just remember Sister V reading the text out loud and then we both looked at each other. For a moment neither of us said anything. We just stared at each other with tears welling up in our eyes. It was a moment of sadness and yet I felt oddly at peace. And then we began to panic. We grabbed my biggest suitcase and started throwing stuff in. But within a couple of minutes we got a call from one of the assistants to the president he told us that Sister V was going to stay with the Sisters in Daet and that SIster R, Sister L, and I were going to stay with the sisters in Pamplona and that we needed to pack VERY LIGHT and HURRY because boundaries between cities were being closed off. We scrambled to not only pack my stuff, but also Sister V’s. Then we went next door and checked on Sister L and Sister R to see if they got the news and how they were managing. 

We only packed our small carry-on size suitcases; we packed very light for two reasons. First,  because we were obedient missionaries and when the Assistant to the President says we need to pack light, we listen. And second, because we didn’t actually know then that we were going home. We thought we were going to stay with the sisters in Pamplona so that we could all be together in case it became temporarily impossible to travel between zones because of boundary restrictions. And we didn’t think it was weird that we were leaving Sister V in Daet because that is where she was supposed to be transferred before everything went crazy. So we scrambled to pack. We kept getting calls from people: our district leader, our zone leaders, and the Assistants to the President. They all said that we needed to get to Daet ASAP. I was so stressed and worried, but I remember that I stood there for a moment and said a prayer. I asked my Heavenly Father to help me know what to pack. When I was finished praying, a feeling of peace settled upon me and I felt a prompting to grab my journals and my bag of letters. I quickly threw those in my suitcase and we high-tailed it out of there.

Getting to Daet was tricky. There were no trikes or jeepnes on the road so we ended up calling our bishop who came to pick us up in his trike. Because of laws in our area and the suitcases, our group of four had to split up to go to Daet. Sister R and Sister L went first. Sister V and I waited and when the Bishop came back, we also headed to Daet. At the boundary between Daet and Mercedes, the police stopped us and said that trikes were only allowed to have one passenger. We were confused because Sister L and SIster R had just gone through and had no issues and we saw other tricycles that were waved through with two passengers in them. We were the only ones they stopped. We tried to negotiate with the police. We told them that missionaries aren’t allowed to separate and that we needed to stay together, but they were firm. They said we would have to go separately or not at all. I considered for a moment if I should wait at the boundary and  let Sister V go first with the Bishop. As soon as I thought this, another thought entered my mind. It seemed to say, “Sister C, don’t do that. This isn’t just about obeying the mission rules. It would not be wise or safe for you to do so. Stay with your companion and protect one another.“ Sister V and I went off to the side and talked to each other for a minute and said a quick prayer. After we were finished, Sister V said something along the lines of, “They won’t let us ride together, but they never said we couldn’t walk together.” We asked the Bishop to take our luggage to the apartment of the sisters in Daet and we walked. We walked swiftly for about half an hour. When we were still quite a long way away from the apartment but clearly out of sight of the boundary, the bishop gave us a call and said he was coming to get us. After he picked us up, Sister V and I kind of ducked down a little in the trike a couple of times to avoid being seen by the police. I am so grateful for our bishop and for God’s protecting hand as we journeyed from Mercedes to Daet. 

When we got to the sisters in Daet, we received word that a van was coming to pick up the foreigners. I left my amazing companion with Sister B and we hopped in a van where everyone was wearing masks and sitting far apart from each other. The driver said, “We are going to Pamplona, but after that are you all ready to go to Manila?” We looked at each other in confusion and someone said, “Wait, what do you mean?” To which he replied, “Don’t you know? You are all going home.” It felt like a weight was crushing my chest. I sat there in disbelief. We were parked at a church and the driver got out to talk to one of the other drivers about directions, seating arrangements, etc. We had recently picked up our district leader, Elder R and a few other elders. Elder R reached over and read us the letter from the Area Presidency that was sitting on the dash. We all sat there in silence for a few moments in complete shock. Thoughts rushed through my head. I thought about everything from seeing my family, to my lack of luggage, to wondering if I would ever get to be a missionary again, to the sorrow of my fellow missionaries, to dying of coronavirus in quarantine. But once my mind raced through all of these concerns and emotions, my mind kept coming back to one major worry, “What will happen to those people I had left behind in Mercedes?” My mind became heavily weighed down and depressed about our recent converts, PBD’s, and  progressing people. As the van drove through the night, I leaned my head against the cool glass of the van’s window and I cried. It wasn’t a loud cry, but it was a constant stream of tears that wouldn’t stop. It was like someone had turned on a faucet and I couldn’t turn it off. I’m not even sure if I wanted to turn it off. As I sat there staring out at the Naga mission, I finally closed my eyes and said a prayer. Unlike my usual prayers that flow naturally, this prayer was difficult. I sat in silence for many moments because I did not know what to say. I remember I felt so sad and even angry at God. I remember thinking like Joseph Smith, “O God where art thou?...How long shall they hand be stayed?” (Doctrine and Covenants 121:1-2). Finally I was able to tell God how I felt and I pleaded with Him for mercy and comfort to everyone who was suffering from the disease, for the people that were losing their missionaries for a time, and to all the missionaries that were living in places they had come to call home. When I was finished praying I felt more at peace. I still felt sad and worried and confused, but the spirit spoke peace to my mind and reminded me that God is in charge and that the work of God will continue to go forth and the gospel will continue to be taken to all nations. And as the van sped through the Naga mission and the sky grew dark, I knew that even when the world seemed as sad and dark as night, Jesus Christ and Heavenly Father would be our light in the wilderness and They would never abandon us. 

We safely arrived in Pamplona on Tuesday night where Sister D and Sister P greeted us warmly. We spent the night there and then on Saturday morning, a van came to pick us up and take us to a church building where we waited for the buses and vans to show up and take us to Manila. From then on my story closely resembles that of all of the other missionaries. We wept and mourned. We were scared and anxious. But above all else we were comforted and protected. By God’s grace and mercy, we made it safely to Manila and then the airport, and then our homes. “For I, the Lord, have put forth my hand to exert the powers of heaven; ye cannot see it now, yet a little while and ye shall see it, and know that I am” (Doctrine and Covenants 84:119).

I will forever be grateful for the Naga mission. I hope I can return someday. But if not, I am so grateful for the people I met there, the things I learned, and the person I started to become because of the Naga mission. Now as I sit in my house in South Jordan, Utah, I feel more homesick than I ever have in my life. And although the Naga mission is beautiful, it is not the palm trees, or the mangos, or the beaches that I miss the most; it is the precious souls and the loving hearts of the Filippino people. It is the spirit that comes with going out every day, bearing pure testimony of Jeus Christ,  and inviting others to come unto Christ by helping them receive the restored Gospel of Jesus Christ. I am so grateful for the miracles that I saw in the Naga mission and the miracle that allowed thousands of missionaries to return safely to their homes. And although I am sad to leave the Philippines, one scripture has brought me a lot of comfort as I have worried over my future and the future of missionaries and people across the world. It reads, “Therefore, dearly beloved brethren, let us cheerfully do all things that lie in our power; and then may we stand still, with the utmost assurance, to see the salvation of God” (Doctrine and Covenants 123:17).

Apr 14, 2020

True Meaning of Easter

I didn't want Easter to slip by without sharing this amazing video made by my dear friends, Steve and Lisa James.

They have captured the true meaning of the word, Easter.

Apr 11, 2020

Definitely a Good Friday

My week has been consumed with the quilting project. I can't say I was sad when Curly put the frames away about 10:30 this evening. We tied 6 baby quilts and one queen-sized one for Curly. He has been so excited! His was the last one on, but he has happily helped all week with the idea that his own quilt would be completed.

My hands and shoulders ache from crouching over the serger, trying to stay one step ahead of those working around the quilt so the next top would be ready when they were. Sorry I have been neglecting you all.

Curly's fun baseball quilt!
Last night we joined with many faiths around the world in a 24-hour fast with a healthy dose of prayer and supplication to our God for relief from this terrible virus. No one I personally know has gotten sick although we did have a scare with Beauty, but it turned out to be a sinus infection and nothing more.

It's spring here! Most of my flowers are up.
My sweetie made an amazing dutch oven dinner to celebrate the conclusion of our fast and the kids played spikeball while it was cooking. I stayed inside and rapidly tied knots as quickly as I could. I didn't want to go to bed without taking Curly's quilt off first.

Tomorrow we are going to color eggs and spend some time together as a family. (Maybe I will get my turn at spikeball.) I still have to get the bindings on, but I'm so glad to have the quilts finished. This Easter will definitely be completely different for all of us. We will celebrate the secular part with the eggs and the bunny fun in small groups, but more importantly, we will remember the resurrection of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is doing an amazing job helping us remember with their #hearhim videos at hearhim.org.

Happy Easter Weekend, Everyone!!

Apr 6, 2020

Guest Blog - A Crazy Quilting Day by Curly

It started when Twizlet had a sleepover. We were watching her and we were having a great time. We set up the quilt frames and quilted for about 3 hours.

We were having dinner even though everyone ate at different times when Sport called me and asked for help.

I rushed out there where he was working on the Suzuki. When I got there he was sitting on the ground putting all his wrenches and sockets back. He told me his tool kit had broken open while he was taking it to the garage.

After about a half an hour of helping him we went back inside. When I walked in, I found out that Baby Doll and Dog Walker had started reading Harry Potter and The Chamber of Secerts without me.

They caught me up and we countinued. After Dog Walker went back to work, Baby Doll and I ran upstairs to tell our dad it was time for scriptures. He said ten more minutes so I taught Baby Doll how to use the treadmill.

We finally went back downstairs and had scriptures. This is how our crazy quilting day went and we finished two baby quilts for Scout's Silver Award project.

Apr 3, 2020

Winner, Winner!!

How long have you known me? If you have been around during Reflections time, you know that I am not a photographer! The kids make fun of me because I just don't get it. I want pictures with my family and friends in them. I don't care if they are following the Rule of Thirds or if the colors need to be manipulated to look more natural. Some of my early pictures even show demon children because I didn't know how to get rid of the Red Eye.

That said, when South Jordan City announced that it was having a photography contest to take our minds off the virus, I considered giving it a try. Then Crafty came home and everything was in upheaval. When we got home from the airport, things were strange and the kids didn't know if they should hug her or stay away from her. It was a happy moment for them, but so awkward.

And I took pictures, but only a few and my very first one as she was greeting her siblings was through my car window. I had no idea that it would turn out to be one of the most amazing pictures I have ever taken. 

And I won first place in the Family Category! It was a fun and happy moment in a world of unnatural chaos. Thank you, South Jordan City, for the distraction.

This pic is completely natural (and accidental!), but I love it.