Saturday, September 26, 2009


Back in the days when radios played music and not noise there was a lovely tune, the lyrics of which said, "Once I had a secret love...and now my secret love's no secret any more."

I've thought of that song this morning ever since I met Joseph as he was skipping like a six-year-old (really!), and beaming all over. I said something like, "feeling good this morning?" His reply: a big smile and an uninhibited, "Do I EVER feel good!" as he skipped on past.

Then I took another ten steps and met Chelsie, and she had a happy look on her face. (We live here, you see, in a church-owned apartment complex that houses perhaps seventy single LDS students--men and women segregated, yet somewhat evenly mixed.)

I'll return to Chelsie in a moment, but let me first tell you the rest of the "Joseph" story: I got in the house and Ranelle told me that Jenny (Joseph's girlfriend) had just driven away, so that means he had just said goodbye to her before I saw him. (And she is so pretty her very presence would make any young man want to skip and smile.) But I just have a suspicion there's more to the story because last night as we were headed out, they two were sitting shoulder-to-shoulder in the back yard. As we walked past we told them how good they look together. They smiled knowingly as we turned the corner and left.

Returning now to the "Chelsie" encounter, I suggested that maybe she was headed off to work. "Nope!" was her quick reply: "to Krogers--to buy a ticket. Nathan and I are going to the renaissance (whatever that is) and I can get them cheaper there!" There was a happy light on her face too.

And then last night we saw Kelly stepping briskly to meet Mitch as he drove in from his day at school. Happy, happy greeting between the two. Watching her from far away her every body movement reflected her intense joy at greeting her man. (Those two are a very happy story--she's a 29-year-old, six-year convert to the church, and just as beautiful as can be, plus she's a highly-successful practicing attorney who is "on the road" all week long. Mitch is four years younger but he is perhaps the most promising attorney-to-be that the near-by MSU Law School has produced in many years. Mitch and Kellie will marry next November.)

And Elder and Sister O'Dell get to sit on the front row of the grand stands, cheering as this happy, everlasting drama unfolds before them!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

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Last week our institute director was away all week with responsibilities with a family death. Consequently, we picked up all his classes--which was a bit of a stretch for us. It takes all week for us to be prepared to teach our classes, conduct the BYU devotional/discussion, do the meal for Friday forum class, and have a presence in the institute building. Age has definitely put limits on how much we can handle. Yes, there is a big difference even, comparing ourselves as we were in the last mission, 5 1/2 years ago. I taught his Book of Mormon class on Wednesday and Friday, and we ordered pizza for the Friday lunch. John taught Church History on both Mondays that Brother Draut was out of town.

The Wednesday class required traveling south about 1 1/2 hours to Hillsdale, Michigan--almost to the Indiana border. Hillsdale is a college established in the 1850's. It has never accepted any government funding. The campus is beautiful and well maintained. Newer buildings have been built in the same flavor as the older ones. Everything was well maintained and extremely attractive--even the students were neatly dressed, friendly, and impressive in every way. There are only four LDS students on this campus and once a week they attend a class with Brother Draut. The drive to and from was beautiful--much of the trip was on secondary roads through wooded countryside.

Wednesday was a full day with Missionary District meeting before we left for Hillsdale. We arrived back in East Lansing to find our CES supervisor from Virginia waiting to visit with us, after which John had his class to teach. Whew!

Actually, the entire week was busy with a Welcome Back BBQ for the Living Center residents on Friday evening, a huge University Ward luau on Saturday night, and Ward Conference on Sunday. We feasted both physically and spiritually all week long.

We've enjoyed our patio garden and are reaping the rewards of our tomato plants. We have raised green beans, cucumbers, peppers, chard, lettuce, onions, and tomatoes. It isn't as successful as in-ground gardening, but it certainly is nice to step out and pick a ripe tomato.


Sunday, September 20, 2009

Autumn Leaves

Today, our "beauty walk" together (Note: it doesn't work that way any more) brought a nostalgic/sad sensation. Reason: the leaves. Looking old, they are, the leaves--kinda ragged. Most look stressed; many are coloring; some falling. Oh it was warm, the weather was, but there's no mistaking: Autumn's here--it just is!

Want to know what rankled me? The sense we're are on the home-bound slope. Wasn't long back and we had the whole mission ahead--months and months of it still to go. Like young kids, we had time yet--for everything! With the end lurking now, we've got to shift thinking!

Only "yesterday" and it was all so new. And fresh. And we were savoring and exploring new neighborhoods; new friends; new quarters; new towns--one vast, rich treasure. Now? it's all still wonderful, and what's best it all now "belongs" to us. We'd just like to keep it that way--forever.

Don't cry for us, there's still months ahead; we're just assessing that wells aren't full forever. And the leaves verify that.

Thank Heaven for the massive adventure of Mormon missions!

Saturday, September 12, 2009

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September 12, 2009

Today is a lovely day. Sitting here at my desk with the window open before me, the sun is shining, the sky is blue (though it was overcast and foggy early this morning), and the air is crisp and fresh. There is a hint of autumn colors and soon our vision will be assaulted with the brilliance of autumn in the upper Mid-west.

We have finished our second week of the fall semester. Our institute serves students attending several different institutions of higher education: Michigan State University, Cooley Law School, and Lansing Community College. In our University Ward and in our two apartment complexes, students hail from coast to coast, from China and Korea. John and I are each teaching one class at the Institute: John teaches Doctrine and Covenants on Wednesday evening, and I am teaching New Testament: the Gospels on Thursday afternoon. We view the BYU Devotional on Tuesday at 1:00 and conduct a short discussion following. On Fridays we prepare a meal for the noon class. We are spending 2-3 hours each day at the institute building in hopes more students will utilize the building if we are there and availabale. We are finding student contact rewarding. In addition, we attend other classes which are taught, particularly a class taught for the adult members of the Lansing Stake, thus giving us the opportunity to associate with others our age.

On Labor Day the senior missionary couples met at the mission home and enjoyed a few hours eating and visiting. I made a cheesecake. Having never made a "real" cheesecake, I was very pleased with the outcome. So to try to match Erin's blog and her culinary art pictures, I will try to include a picture of my cheesecake.



Wednesday, September 2, 2009


Only insane highschoolers will lust after stingey, severe cold conditions. I know they will because I was once one of them. We wanted it so cold the mink furs would fill our rich and full.

I know better now.So here I am way up north, and I shiver at the very thought, and I cannot yet even see my breath! But then, August just passed, and every one knows that's way too soon for winter. But that's only because they have not lived in Michigan.

But then is it? Not when you live in Michigan, it isn't. And we've been experiencing the onset of autumn for the past week, plus a day or two. No changed leaf colors yet, but I'm certain they're not far away!

So whoever you are; wherever you are, savor your lower latitude, and feel blessed that you've got a few more weeks before you begin scraping car windows.