Sunday, the one day, that’s different from all the rest… has me thinking about more than Jello salad at a missionary farewell. Although it was a pretty amazing Jello salad. Amazing in the sense that it jelled, sort of, and….that I didn’t burn it. Amazing in the fact that it was a fantastic, creative concoction. Art in its own right. See, I didn’t have mini marshmellows……so I improvised.
Started out with scissors, cutting them into small bite sizes, but soon realized this was not going to work. The cut mallow pieces got stuck. Glubbed up the scissors, and in trying to free them, in a hand wrist kind of flicking motion (like the way Suni throws clay pigeons for shotgun shooting), took flight in trajectories across my kitchen. So, yes. In a kind of Howie Mandell humorous, Impractical Jokers kind of way, if you haven’t put two and two together yet……I gave up on cutting and decided on a prank in substituting GIANT campfire sized marshmellows for the mini ones in the jello salad.
Mixed them in with cool whip, orange jello powder, cottage cheese, pineapple, and chewy craisins (to give it a tart kick). Laughing the whole time in a kind of demented kind of way. Mixed down the biggest pieces, tucking them in careful concealment at the bottom of the bowl. Imagining my brothers teen boys pouncing in hunger on this looming punch line.
My stealthy plan: to watch faces for a reaction in the scooping of such. For this prank, I had a perfect staked out spot from a round table across the way. Sad to report though, I didn’t get the hoped for outcome. Only a few people took the challenge. Most did not appreciate my efforts, and disrespected the mallows, choosing the neighboring Frito, kidney, Catalina salad instead! Sad. No marked reactions. Only my own…and my nephew, Elijah. He did me the honor, only after I insisted. He is a good sport. I have a photo to prove it, thanks to my photographer sister, Suni. So…this moment was both a high and a low for me.
Now on to more of lifes seriousness. Sunday. Soooo many Sunday services have become venue for missionary comings and goings, as if this were the new LDS standard for meetings. This could be becoming a problem for me. I love laughter and grinnings. Don’t get me wrong. And I do love missionaries. I am the proud mom of an Elder in Italy, but I am thinking that this harboring of bon voyagings and homecomings might inadvertantly be taking center stage to that which is really most central to the religion: CHRIST.
I love Jesus. I love him very much. Granted these young men and women are called as representatives of Jesus Christ to witness of HIM, to call souls to repentence and baptism, and to share the glad news. That being said, I think I would like to spend my Sunday time thinking and praising Jesus much more than is common place in our chapelling experiences. Swaying and singing psalms of thanksgiving, not recognizing yet another acne faced aspiring preacher without purse or script.
Sometimes I also think that we have our own versions of the Catholic Saints in Joseph Smith, and of course in the Pioneers as evidenced by every youth Treking, and observed for a whole month every July. These great ones certainly deserve veneration, but why do I need to hear about it so much? I would like to hear more talk of how to love God and Jesus in loving our neighbor, and how to better like ourselves through forgiveness and courage. I think I am searching for a new vernacular.
I have been thinking….searching for this for some time, and only recently came to a greater longing since I visited Mountain Life. And subsequently watched a very large baptism from across a valley. The day we were participating in a kind of firefighter ordinance called “mop up” in a post baptism by fire kind of way. I am most certainly out of the box most of the time in my thinking and feeling…so yeah. Waiting for some Incident Command Officer to say, “It’s safe now. No more lightning sighted. You can get out of the truck and wind up hoses…….and post a blog.”
Today was one of those missionary days. Glad to say I was a part of this one. A wonderful young man, my nephew, Brocston Hill. This is my brother Rock’s oldest boy, just younger than Donavon. So he is leaving home in the six month shadow of his now Italian cousin. I am sad to say…..I have not always liked my nephew. He used to be a whiney, self absorbed “cowgirl.” Euphamism for spineless, mean, pansy of a little boy. Okay….that’s not fair. He was young and a bit too much entitled, but then again…..so was my brother at that age.
No more. No longer. This nephew has come a long way. Changed in part by his Tremonton teenage experience, the refinings of competative 3A baseball and football, LDS Seminary, and surviving a continuously volatile home life with a couple of special needs adopted siblings. I imagine home at times must have felt like an intense geologic experience of deposition and upward thrusting of sedimentary layers. Ooops, sorry……..just having a science word wise moment…….somewhat like a Teret’s episode, only without marked physical agitation and military mouth. Instead substiture Shakspeare cursings more fit for fourth graders. Can’t imagine it has been smooth sailing, but being the oldest child, and being a BOY does offer its advantages, including a bit of ENTITLEMENT.
I remember vividly a convergence of sibling families in Star Valley, Wyoming. Our parents estate, in the form or eighty or more beautiful wooded, mountaineous acerage lies up Willow Creek Canyon, on the edge of the Wind River Range, just above Bedford, Wyoming. The weekend was ear-tagged for a Hill family reunion. Good times in Chickenville around a campfire, cooking dutch oven, roasting marshmellows, and shooting vulture-like chickens in the butt. What! I had to defend my dinner! My shoes were already covered with thoughtful droppings. Didn’t want one on my plate!
It was this weekend that some of us planned our escape from all of this wonder and fowl excitement, in taking to the mountain. We left the other moms and Mark, and tiny ones behind and took most of the able bodied older children on a day hike, that turned into a an over night-mare, of very little water, food, and patience. Dinner consisted of trail mix, a few shared granola bars, and a handful of instant oatmeal packets. I was pretty disgusted. My brothers…..much too laid back, and living their own self-absorbed moment, acted like they didn’t even know how to build a fire, fetch and heat water, and help prepare what little sustenance we had. I was pretty upset.
It got better the next day. As it was a wet spring and summer, we had to cross a stream several times in treking. My brothers took turns carrying kids across. This was good of them. They even hauled me over once. This felt like one of those blindfold team building games that we used to play on Norwegian Outdoor Adventures with Tom Cammermeyer. Once your feet get wet….forget it. Blister City!
I am not proud of these rememberings. This memory serving as a snapshot into a former self, before I gained a testimony of “The Law of Attraction,” and “the Secret of Love.” I was not feeling much love that weekend. Especially when care giving a bunch of kids seemed to fall on me, and “Lost” in the Wind Rivers became a reality.
My youngest brother, Troy, who had done this hike many times before with Scouts, was in Twilight Zone form, and somehow lost his bearings. Wondered if it was because of the company he was with……or if it was because he forgot to take his pill. Not good not matter what the reason. No cell phones. Very little water. No more food. Increasing whining. Fatigue. Bats. And Brocston relentlessly bullying his younger siblings.
I was never so happy as to see Mark appear from the ridge, and round the trail to rescue us with word from home that Holly, my Wyoming brother’s wife was contemplating calling SAR, Search and Resuce, if no sign of us by nightfall. It was just after Mark’s divine appearance that Brocston crossed the line. In shoving his little sister, and in not allowing her to sit down to rest on a log, but rather taking the spot she had been in. Mark came unglued. It was pretty scary. He verbally let my nephew have it! It was something to hear and to see. I am not sure where my brother Rock was through all of this. Let’s just say…..message delivered, message received. Didn’t hear another peep out of twelve year old Brocston for the rest of the hike down. And not sure he and Mark have had words in the years since…..unless delivering him the card and money today counts.
It is during this trip that Broc got the nickname Cowgirl. From me of course. After that, he was alwuz Cowgirl. I held no grudge toward him for the way he had been. Sometimes hiking and camping brings out the worst in people. You see them as their tiredest, hungriest, most selfish form of themselves. I understand. Comparable to that “time of the month” for some girls. Anyway. The nickname didn’t die easily. Didn’t die at all. At times I wondered if in hearing the nickname, the young developing Brocston was taken back to that humbling moment on the trail. I sometimes hoped so. Hmm.
I believe Broc hung up hiking boots and backpack for cleats and pads and key to the weight room. In time he also traded in the old attitude for a better one. Now at six foot two or three, two hundred twenty- five pounds of hulking muscle this form of a man leaves behind a promising athletic career in college baseball, and football. Offers from Weber, and Utah State. I am reminded much of my Grandpa Jensen, who stood similarly in physique and held collegiate state records in high jump at Utah State in Track and Field for many years.
So it was more than refreshing to hear an articulate, and humble improved version of my nephew today, thanking, and thanking, and thanking, everone he could possibly think of in closing remarks. I was most definitely proud of him like a son of my own in his coming to know his personal Savior, and in finding the great magnifier of love in gratitude. I hugged him after and complimented him for this. He said, ” I have seen and heard too many of my buds leave recently, and not even thank anyone. I just had to do this.” I felt a good warm feeling. Feel it again now as I write, and in rereading.
I have no doubt Brocston is in for the bronc ride of his life in Calgary venturing for Christ. I also know he will be in good hands. This cowgirl……..now a man in holy boots walking tall, spuring, stampeding excitedly to Calgary. Tough act to follow, but walking the path also will be Canadians who will no doubt hear the Lord’s soft voice bidding “Come, follow me.”
- Stampeding to Calgary is the Cowgirl (hrobertsonblog.wordpress.com)