Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Denmark Day 4: Church, Lunch with Steve, Kristina Statue (Part 2)

It's now a little before noon on Day 4 of our trip. We've been by the temple and the mission home and on our way back to the church building we found the current mission office.

This is a group of us in front of the mission office with Adam doing his best impression of the road runner. I was about to take a picture of the group when Adam ran up to flip somebody's tie or give someone a wet willie and I caught him just as he turned away laughing.

Run, Adam, run!

This building was across the street from the temple. We tried to find it earlier in the day, but couldn't locate it after wandering a few blocks. Then on the way back from the mission home, we found it. Success! Of course, we couldn't go in as no one was there, but it was nice to see that in about a three-block radius was the temple, the church building and the mission office. All very convenient.

Crew in front of Denmark mission office

I had to take a photo of the name plate as well. I really enjoyed hearing the Danish language throughout our trip and trying my best to massacre it as it came out of my mouth. And the reason I really enjoyed the language was because we didn't experience a lot of frustration communicating in this country as nearly everyone we talked to would speak to us in English. That was amazing to me. One gentleman told us that many Danes learn Danish, German and English in school. Go Danish education! Of course, they speak English with a British accent (at least that's what it sounded like to me) so at times I felt like a bunch of British aristocrats had invaded this beautiful country.

Nameplate at office

We even got a photo of Mom and Dad in front of the office. Though I have a question. What is Tami doing in the reflection of the glass? Does she see a bird or a plane or is it Superman? More like Julie hearing some more of that Superwoman theme music.

Denmark mission office

It was already hot by this time of the day and we were thirsty and hungry. There was a convenient little 7-11 at the corner so we all stopped in for some refreshments. Can you believe it? A 7-11 in Denmark? We saw a few McDonald's and Burger Kings as well, but it seemed like 7-11 was everywhere.

Then it was off to church.

We got in to the chapel and settled ourselves into two rows. The organ music floated around us and people were very friendly, smiling and shaking our hands and asking where we were from. We met a very nice gentleman from our home state who has lived in Denmark for 35 years. He served a mission there, then came back and married a member and settled down and raised a family. He was very gracious and outfitted each of us with headsets for the meeting and then very kindly translated the entire service.

Needless to say, we were feeling the love from the Saints in Denmark. They could not have been more accommodating or welcoming.

As we settled into the service though, the effects of our busy morning, the hot weather, and our ongoing jet lag had a soporific effect on us all. In other words, we were head bobbing through most of the meeting.

Sleep. Bob. Sleep. Bob. Sleep. Bob.

Yes, that was an effective worship time for us.

Fortunately, we sang congregational hymns and those hymns kept us going, if not for their familiarity, at least for their giggle-inducing moments. Have you ever tried to sing a song that you know, but in a language that you've never spoken? You say "eee" when you are supposed to say "ah" and you say "ooo" when you are supposed to say "uh." And let's not forget that anytime you try to speak a new language, most people flavor it with their own second language. In other words, we had people trying this whole trip to pronounce Danish words with a Spanish trill.

We were all over the map. Some of us sang with a Spanish accent, some sang with French accent, and some just sang accenting every word with an increased VOLUME.

Like Adam.

I think he drank too much of something back at the 7-11. When the hymn singing began, Adam burst forth in song the likes of which would have rivaled Andrea Bocelli in a packed opera house.

And that woke up everyone up. Yes, even the people on the stand at the front. We all really should have said, "Thank you, Adam" for he gave us the shot of adrenaline we needed.

After the meeting, we were again accosted by friendly handshakes and smiling faces. Dad even ran into this very sweet lady.

Sister missionary

She came up to him and said, "I remember you, do you remember me?" He searched his memory for a minute and then she said she had knitted him a sweater and it all came tumbling back. She was a sister missionary serving in his area and was apparently very handy with knitting needles and knitted an entire sweater for him.

I think in the parlance of my mission such a gesture would have meant I-have-a-big-fat-crush-on-you, but whether out of forgetfulness or politeness no one confessed to that.

Dad and sister missionary

She was attentive though and consulted with Dad about the location of one of our destinations.

Christus statue in lobby

The Danish Saints certainly exhibited what we claim to believe: a faith in Jesus Christ. Their love cast a light on the rest of our day.


We even ran into wonderful, beautiful, amazing Bettina! Bettina was the very first person we met in Denmark. She was at the help desk at Scandinavian Air where we registered a claim ticket regarding our lost luggage. Bless her heart, she helped us when we were so frustrated regarding our missing carry-on bags. When she found out that we had departed from Salt Lake City she began asking us questions about what we were going to do on this trip and we told her we would be seeing some family history sites. She mentioned--really casually--that she had been to Utah herself a few years before to see a branch of her family that had emigrated there. Well, this got us all excited. I wanted to ask her if she had been to Temple Square or if she knew anything about the Church and I was rolling over ideas in my mind of how to introduce that when Dad asked her point blank if she was Mormon. (Score one for the Danish missionary.) She said yes!

Immediately, I felt like everything would be okay. We would either find our luggage quickly or we would deal with it easily. We had felt before this momet with our lost luggage that we were just a couple of people in a vast network of airports and airlines and our luggage could be anywhere. Suddenly, meeting a member of our faith made our problem seem not quite so insurmountable. Denmark is a country of 5.4 million people and our faith only has 4,000 members there. What are the chances of running into a member in our very first encounter in this country? (And that is for all of you statisticians out there because I don't know.) Truly, it felt like a small world in that instant.

And yes, this is Spencer and I going on Day 4 wearing the same clothes. (No, we aren't stinky, people. Through loaner clothes and other assistance we were washing out our clothes every night in the hotel sinks.)

Have you counted up the miracles we've had on this trip so far? Miracles and blessings. That is the best way to get through any vacation.

Well, we met yet another wonderful member at church named Steve. Here he is in the photo below in the tiny, tiny Copenhagen apartment that he shares with his wife, Marian.

Mr. Lunch

Marian is Danish and Steve is American. He is yet another ex-missionary from Denmark who came back to visit about 10 years ago and got reacquainted with Marian. They both were divorced and something magical happened on Steve's trip and they fell in love and married a short time later.

I'm making lunch for how many?

Well, this very nice couple invited us to lunch. (Did you just gasp as well?) Yes, that's right. Just breezily after church, Steve invited all SIXTEEN of us to come to their tiny, tiny apartment and they would feed us.

I'm sorry, but I have no idea what I would feed sixteen people if I had about 30 minutes to come up with a meal for them from my cupboards.

And Marian said when Steve told her that he had invited us to dinner that she just started racking her brain.

What are we eating?

And somehow this woman came up with something to feed our very large group.

We walked to their apartment with Steve telling us stories the whole way. When we got there he excitedly invited some of us to ride up with him in the elevator. Megan and I were elected to participate and then we stepped into an elevator that was really, truthfully, made for only a very skinny cat and a petite child to fit in. It was that small. Steve was so excited about it that he didn't notice we couldn't breathe once our faces were smashed up against the wall. When the doors shut, I had a gripping realization that my death was likely imminent. Panic ensued. Let's just say after that Megan and I elected to walk up the stairs rather than take the elevator. (Thanks to our little elevator escapade with Steve, I would ride any other elevator on our trip with great reluctance. But I would think of Steve every time!)

I'm yoking, I'm yoking

The apartment was so small that we packed ourselves in like sardines. Then nobody moved.

At least nobody moved unless so ordered. As we assembled at the dinner table our collective desire to not inconvenience anyone around us seemed to heighten our politeness to an extreme degree. We were stuffing people into chairs around the dinner table while the balance of the group made do with the couch and the floor. But one chair went unoccupied. The boys weren't about to take it from one of the girls and the girls thought they would be more comfortable on the floor than one of the bigger boys. Julie was the closest girl to the unoccupied chair and she was protesting and desisting from claiming it with great good humor. That is until the mother ship, Jamie, decided the matter by barking the order, "Julie, get up in that chair."

To which Julie's body responded with a frightening speed, while her face registered total shock. Let's just say that Mama Jamie doesn't usually employ such a forceful, vocal degree of command and I think Julie's first exposure to it was complete and total bewilderment.

How do we fit 18 people in here?

Before all that shuffling and maneuvering at the table though, we tried to help whatever way we could without stomping on each other or our gracious hosts in the process.

Want to see my green card?

Steve contiued to regale us with stories, information and data about Denmark. And when there was a lull in the conversation, he even showed us his green card.

Steve has them spellbound

It's hard to visualize from the photos how tiny the kitchen was, but the most people you could fit in there at one time was three. We rotated in and out as we helped Marian set the table, slice bread and cut vegetables. Marian had raised four children in this little place and it didn't seem to faze her to feed a crew quadruple that size.

Clean up

For lunch we ate open-faced sandwiches or smørrebrød. Traditional and very popular in Denmark, they consist of
one piece of buttered bread, often rugbrød—a hard, whole-grain rye bread—topped with any of a variety of meats, including various cold cuts, bacon, herring, fish fillets, eggs and leverpostej (liver paté), and then usually some vegetable (for example, thinly sliced cucumber, tomato wedges or pickled beets)and then usually a condiment, such as mayonnaise, or toasted onion bits. A traditional replacement for butter on a piece of bread with herring is pig fat. There are many traditional variations associated with the smørrebrød. There are special stores which specialize in these sandwiches. (Wikipedia)
Marian served them with leverpostej (pronounced liver-post-eye) which is a pork liver spread. Ewwww! But I think we all tried it. Or claimed to have tried it. And bless their hearts, Steve and Marian gave us the experience of eating traditional food in a Danish home which is really more than we ever expected. That in and of itself was all the treat we needed.

Tiny kitchen

Well, our crew made short work of the meal and helped with the clean up. By now, it was 3:00PM in the afternoon and we still had miles to go before sundown. So, we thanked our hosts and made our getaway.

Next stop: the airport.

We were driving to Møn that night and wouldn't be near the airport again for 10 days, so we made one last stab at locating our luggage in person. It was a heroic effort, but it was a failure.

This also was our first real day of driving in Denmark and everyone was getting used to the manual transmission in our vans. The drivers especially. Dad was driving our van and I think on stall number eight Jenny started to tally his stalls vocally. When he hit stall number 12, he turned over the controls to Russell. Who himself promptly stalled.

Rus's stall just happened to take place as we were leaving the airport and passing through the parking gate. He had just pushed the button to open the gate and in his hurry to restart the van and get through the gate before it closed, he was fumbling with the controls and turned on the windshield wipers. And not just the windshield wipers in the front, but the windshield wipers in the back too.

Which sent the group in our second van behind us into gales of laughter.

But we did make it through the gate. And couldn't stop laughing for fifteen minutes.

Then we were off to see the Kristina statue.

Bon Voyage

Here's Matt on the pier in Copenhagen where the statue is located. Do you see that massive ship in the background? It was just leaving the port. It was gigantic, but at least gave us a sense that this really was a place where ships departed for all over the world.

They're looking, they're looking

The Kristina statue was installed on this pier in the summer of 2000 as a tribute to the many LDS saints who departed from this pier as they emigrated to America in the 1800s. At Kristina's feet are bricks with the names of Saints who left from this pier. Our extended family bought and paid for a brick to be installed here.

Hans Jorgen brick

It took us a few minutes of wandering but we finally located it. It lists our ancestor's name, Hans Jorgen Rasmussen, and his hometown and the year he left: Harbolle, 1862.

Do you see it?

It felt kind of reverential to be there. Hans Jorgen was a young man in his twenties when he left the only home he knew to go to an unknown country to join with other members of his newfound faith. It must have taken an immense amount of courage for him to stand on this pier and wave goodbye to a home and a country he loved and would never, ever see again.

Clustering around Kristina

And we are just a few of his descendants who have benefitted from that choice and his courage.

Goodbye, Kristina

The statue was beautiful, we were filled with gratitude and our time in Copenhagen had come to a close for now. It was time to get back on the road.

Playboy posing

But not before Rus gets his laugh in. Do you think he got the pose down?

We came, we saw, we conquered

Then we were off. We had a about a two-hour drive south of Copenhagen to the island of Møn.

And it was beautiful. Green rolling countryside everywhere.

Danish countryside

Once we arrived on Møn, we found a little greasy spoon that was still open. I think it was the only thing that was open at the wild and crazy hour of 7:00PM in that whole town.

Cooks at greasy spoon on Mon

This was one place that Dad's Danish came in very handy. Otherwise, I'm not sure what food we would have ended up with after ordering.

And a popular menu item was the Danish hot dog.

Danish hot dog

The Danes are known for serving a great hot dog. They have long, red hot dogs stuffed in warm bread and served with ketchup, mustard and remoulade sauce (which is yellow sauce that seems like a mix between mayonnaise, mustard and tartar sauce) and garnished with things like cucumbers, tomatoes and toasted onions. And make no mistake, these are not your typical, bland, American hot dogs. In fact, I was actually shocked when I came home from Denmark to find that I was craving their hot dogs. Not something I have ever craved in America.

Who is Tina Turner?

We kind of overwhelmed this little food stand and some of us had completed our meal before others had even ordered. I'm thinking Brock hasn't yet eaten in the picture above.

This food is good!

And Mom and Matt had already finished their food.

But after an hour we were all served and smiling. Then it was off to the hotel. We checked in, got ready for bed, and hooked up to the Internet to begin what would become a nightly round of phone calls and emails trying to track down the luggage.

Sunset on Mon

It had been a busy and beautiful day. Just look at the sunset that wrapped it up for us. It was magic.

Day 5 will include a rainy day hike, a scandal regarding our great forefather, and a forced shopping expedition. Hold on to your hats, folks.

Read the rest of the journey:

Monday, September 29, 2008

Donating and Design

This post should have gone up a week ago.

I've mentioned before that the Internet has been booming with benefits for NieNie--the couple from Arizona that was burned in a terrible plane accident in August. Everyone seems to be doing their part to help out this little family in their time of tragedy. Even some of my own family is helping out. (I like to take credit wherever I can.)

My brother Adam and his wife, Michelle, just had their photos done by a photographer, Jonathan Canlas, who is committed to raising $10,000 for NieNie. That meant that the sitting fee he charged went straight to his donation goal. So, Adam and Michelle got some beautiful photos done and they helped out a family in need at the same time. Go, family!

Jonathan Canlas has a fabulous style and I fell in love with so many shots he did of their little family. It doesn't hurt that they all have movie-star good looks either.

Also, I wanted to highlight Michelle's blog called The Creativity Room. Michelle has a great modern, graphic style and always has ideas coming out of her ears. Her design sense is strong and authentic with a minimum of show. I love that she doesn't apologize for saving a buck but that is not her first priority either. One of my favorite stories about her is that she made her own wedding cake. She wanted it to have a certain look but wasn't really interested in eating the cake. So, she figured out how to frost some styrofoam squares and made a gorgeous-looking cake for just a few dollars. I loved that idea.

She grew up in a home with a "creativity room" in small-town Washington state, then came to Utah for college, then lived in New York; all of that geography has informed her design style. Mostly though, I think of New York when I think of Michelle. Her design is clean and cool without being utilitarian or cold. It is graphic without being imposing. And it is classic without being class-conscious.

I'm convinced that she is going to make it big soon between her marketing acumen and her creative pulse. So, go over, take a look, and enjoy yourself. You may become a fan yourself.

Talk to Me

I had a long talk tonight with my mom. One of the pleasures throughout my teenage years was plopping myself on a stool in the kitchen, resting my elbows on the counter and telling my tales to my mother. She was often in the kitchen, busy, resourceful and putting together something magically delicious. Always doing something. But in the kitchen she was semi-stationary moving efficiently between the stove, refrigerator and sink. Here as Mom utilized her gifts to feed her large family, you could ensare her and bend her ear. And she always seemed to welcome my tales.

We had one conversation that reoccurred over and over again. It had to do with the "thorn in my side" and a great insecurity in my life. It seemed to be the topic that engulfed me throughout those painful, tentative, high-growth years. I couldn't leave it alone. I couldn't unattend to it. This thorn hurt me again and again and I attributed all the misery and trouble in my life to this thorn.

It so preoccupied my thoughts that it seemed to overshadow every part of my life. Every day. Its meaning and impact on my life was long, textured, layered and unavoidable it seemed. It never made me happy.

I wish I could tell you that I look back on those days with nostalgia and that I've learned wisdom through the experience of my years. I would be lying.

The thorn is still here. And I still let it hurt me. My hope today is that is someday I can help someone else avoid the same kind of hurt. The same kind of long-drawn out, textured, layered stuff that I've contemplated for too many years.

Time's a-wasting.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Today's Quote

Those who bring sunshine into the lives of others cannot keep it from themselves.

J.M. Barrie (author of Peter Pan)

Friday, September 19, 2008

Denmark Day 4: Copenhagen Temple, Mission Home (Part 1)

This day was Sunday. We'd now immersed ourselves in Copenhagen for two days and today was the day we were going to see more of Dad's mission, the Danish temple, and Copenhagen chapel.

But before any of that began, there was breakfast. Yummmmmmm! You'll never believe me but I actually lost 10 pounds on our vacation. And I attribute it directly to our Danish breakfasts. I had no idea that eating so much food that early in the morning could be so very, very healthy for you.

Danish breakfast

And the Kong Arthur knew how to put on a spread. We had a busy day ahead of us and a goal of leaving the hotel at 9AM sharp. So that meant many of us were hitting the breakfast table at 7:30AM. When we entered the sunny atrium, we always had a waiter or waitress greet us and ask our room number. I figured they just wanted to make sure we were actual guests at the hotel (you know, they could figure out if 10 people said they were from room 220 that somebody was lying and they would find the perpetrators and kick them out). In fact, that was the only reasonable explanation because we knew that breakfast was free with our stay. Dad had arranged all of our hotels and having breakfast included was an important budget-saving part of our plan.

100-2 Kong Arthur atrium

The food was delicious and filling that morning and I was actually starting to enjoy eating cucumbers and tomatoes on my open-faced sandwich each morning. Plus, I was drinking in our location. I believe now that if I could eat on a table spread with white linen every morning that I might actually turn into someone respectable.

100-3 Breakfast faces Adam, Brock, Julie and Michelle. Whose got the grumpy face?

Despite the beautiful atmosphere though, we did hurry ourselves through breakfast. I was bunking with Mom and Dad and Cassie and I knew that meant that Mom and Dad would be clearing out of the room by 8:30AM if they really wanted everyone in the car by 9AM. And I was right!

100-4 Kong Arthur Beds

We got to the front desk and the rest of the group started trickling in to the lobby, turning in keys and settling the bills for each room. But the price of the rooms seemed a bit excessive to everyone and Dad started reviewing the itemized list of charges. He discovered that hotel had tacked on a charge for each person for breakfast each day. And that breakfast was expensive. $50 a person a day. And while I have waxed poetic about their breakfasts here, I certainly was unprepared to spend that much money for a morning meal. We all were going to have to eat this unplanned-for expense (pun intended).

100-5 Chilling in the lobby

That is until we got Dad--the Most Fiscally Responsible Adult Alive, Bar None--on the job. He had guaranteed us a free breakfast and he was positive he had verified that with the hotel months before. But they weren't just going to take his word for it. So, what did our mighty leader do? He produced hard evidence.

100-7 Our Fearless Leader

Out of his black bag, he pulled the hotel confirmations and emails for every hotel on our trip. Meticulously organized, no less. He quickly located the Kong Arthur section of these papers and pulled out an email sent months before from one of the desk managers at the Kong Arthur verifying that our group of 16 would be staying for two nights and that BREAKFAST WAS INCLUDED. Free of charge.

The manager's face fell when he realized that the hotel had just eaten a $1600 charge. Oh, baby.

You gotta love Dad. Totally in his element. And totally making our day. He saved our bacon and we got it for free that day!

100-8 The back walk of hotel

After our rescue from these unexpected charges, we were popping each other on the back and grinning wide. What a way to start the day. We made it out of the hotel a smidgen past 9:00AM and loaded up the vans.

Our first destination of the day: The Copenhagen Denmark Temple.

Holy, holy house

We entered the address of the temple in our trusty navigation system and headed off. The drive was only about fifteen minutes, but when we reached the location that the navigation system led us to there was no temple in sight and the neighborhood didn't look right to Dad.

We were lost.

We pulled the vans over on the street and The Ones Who Read Maps (Dad, Ric, Rus, Adam) put their heads together and consulted.

That didn't get us anywhere.

So, here we sat in the middle of our second pickle of the day already. What would we do?

While the rest of us fretted and snoozed and applied lipstick, Spencer pondered. And thought deep and good thoughts. And in the midst of his deep thinking (and with his razor-sharp eyesight) he glanced out the window of the van and what did he see? Two missionaries walking straight towards us.


We were saved. For the second time in less than an hour. The missionaries were very kind and very, very helpful. They gave us minute and detailed instructions for how to reach the temple. They just pointed around the corner.

For yes, we were not more than half a block away.

Copenhagen Temple

What made this temple so interesting to all of us was the fact that when Dad was in Denmark as a missionary in the late 60s, this building had been the chapel. Thirty years later the Church converted it in to the first temple in the land of Denmark.

Chatting it up at temple
Michelle, Adam, Mom, Cassie

The plaza in front of the temple was beautiful. The grounds were serene and quiet and welcoming. We spent several minutes taking loads of pictures and then we sat and enjoyed just being there.

Sunday morning sit down

And then people started getting all romantic and thinking about when they were married just because we were at the temple. These two especially.

Matt & Cissy at temple
Matt and Cissy

And wanting their pictures taken together.

Brock & Julie at temple
Brock and Julie

Some were more serious than others.

Rus & Jenny at temple
Rus and Jenny

And then the oh-so-important group shot.

Group shot in front of Copenhagen Temple

And then more couple shots next to the plaque at the front of the temple.

Adam & Michelle at Copenhagen Temple
Adam and Michelle

See the name of the Church in Danish there. Who can pronounce it? Who?

Spencer & Megan at Copenhagen Temple
Spencer and Megan

Yes, we got Megan out from behind her enormously huge camera every once in a while.

This shot was more of the "who is the only child left at home" shot. Really, what is everyone laughing about?

Dad, Mom, Cassie at Copenhagen Temple
Dad, Cassie, Mom

Then the couple-that-sings-together-stays-together.

Ric & Tami at Copenhagen Temple
Ric and Tami

And I'm not quite sure what to say about this one. He who flits and fleets and fleetly flies?

We flit, we fleet

He certainly had the flitting part down. Much to Jenny's consternation.

We fleetly flee, we fly

And where was the couple picture of little old me and my Prince Charming? Let's just say, I'm still accepting applications for that position. AND IT HAS NOT BEEN FILLED. (Anyone can apply. No white horse needed. All applications given serious consideration. Position needs to be filled immediately.)

After the couple shots were completed, things got a little crazy. Actually, a lot crazy for a day that was supposed to be worshipful and quiet and reverential.

'Cause people started walking like the Egyptians. For no apparent reason at all.

Walk like an Egyptian 2

These two blonde and beautiful girls, otherwise known as my sisters, were getting just a little bit funky and dancing to the beat of some drum that nobody else could hear.

Walk like an Egyptian 3

That is, we thought no one else could hear.

Until Julie came along. And the spirit of that music seemed to carry her away. Although, she seemed to be hearing more of Superwoman theme--as demonstrated by her excellent flying skills.

Julie flying

And the blonde-and-beautifuls just weren't quite sure what to do with that interruption.

Walk like an Egyptian 4

So, they passed off the dance floor to the funkmeister himself, Mr. Russell Clinton, of "the running man" fame.

New attitude

Or was that the "walk like a chicken" fame?

I digress, I digress. Shhh! Everyone listen.Simmer down. Fold your arms, zip your lips, and sit still.

Let's get back to the business at hand. The temple. It really was a very beautiful spot to be in on our first Sunday in Denmark. The sun was shining, there was just the slightest breeze that day. And we had survived quite a morning so far.

Side shot of Copenhagen Temple

So, some of us took naps. (Have I mentioned yet that this one has narcolepsy? Yes, you will see a few more photos of Matt sleeping his way through the trip.)

Sleeping at the temple

We just couldn't seem to get enough of this lovely spot.

Courtyard at temple

And we even got Dad to tell us some stories about his time here. Which was really the reason we kept lingering.

Discussing history of temple

Eventually though, it was time to go. Church services were beginning very soon in the new chapel down the street.

Side of Copenhagen Temple

So, we headed down the block.

Back of Copenhagen Temple

To the new chapel.

Copenhagen ward

This chapel was on residential street and except for this sign that Mom was standing in front of we would have missed it.

Sign on LDS church

Of course, we had to take pictures.

Take the shot

Once we walked inside the chapel though we realized that the main congregational meeting wasn't starting for two more hours. We had time on our hands. The perfect time to go find the mission home.

So, we packed back into the vans and went searching again for another address.

The double duty vans

And this is what we found. The mission home where Dad lived for several months on his mission.

Denmark mission home circa 1960s

And why did he live here? Well, I had heard my whole life about when he was "in the office" as a missionary. So, I assumed that meant he worked in the office like handling finances, or cars, or something. And that is what I continued to believe as I stood across from this tall, white home.

Megan taking the shot

I've been on a mission. I know that missionaries who spend a significant amount of time working with the president and in the office are usually assistants to the president (read junior executives and peer leaders).

Mission home

But Dad always referred to it more obliquely as "working in the office."

Telling mission stories

So, as he stood there telling us more stories about his time in this place as a twenty-year-old kid, it suddenly dawned on me that he had been an assistant to the president while he was here.

It just took me thirty years of hearing those stories for it to finally sink in.

Soaking up the history

Dad likes to err on the side of modesty. At all times. And in all things. And in all places.

He would certainly rather downplay his role in any walk of life rather than exaggerate it. Even if he brings a crew of 16 of us across an ocean and several countries to tell us his little story of "working in the office."

He's a man who likes to let his actions speak louder than his words.

But modesty or no, he's got eight kids who are happy to call him "Dad." And willing to shout about his goodness in the process.

Group in front of Dad's mission home

Day 4 (Part Deux) is coming soon. There's church to attend (with someone who sings extra loud), and a lunch experience that will curl your hair (at least your nose hair) and a record-breaking number of van stall outs. So, keep your eyes peeled for more exciting times to ensue.

Read the rest of the journey:


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