Monday, November 14, 2011

Elder Stanley in the Czech Republic

From Stanley’s point of view. Written by Hummer (with some assistance from yours truly).

For some gorgeous background music to really put you in the setting, play this while you read. . . .


Hi, again! It’s me, Flat Stanley.

I’ve been on an amazing trip! It started at home in Arkansas, when Hummer made me my very own missionary nametag. He taped it to my shirt, folded me up, and sent me to Prague, Czech Republic!

This is a map that shows me going to Prague.Flat Stanley's trip to Prague


Hummer sent me to the Czech Republic because his Uncle Duff is serving a mission there for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

IMGP7861 edit for blog


I was excited to become “Elder Stanley” for a few days! Elder Bailey is squishing me with his hand, and holding a Book of Mormon, too.

20111010 Elder Bailey and Elder Stanley


Here I am with Elder Bailey in front of a Kofola truck (and he is squishing me again). He said that kofola is the best drink ever besides root beer.

20111012-1 By a Kofola truck


Elder Bailey took me to Uherské Hradiště.



The Church of St Francis Xavier is in the background. I am tired of being squished. There are lots of cars behind me. I wonder why the road is made of bricks?

20111012-2 In Uherske Hradiste


I went with him to Olomouc next.image


Here we are on the main square. I think the Christmas lights will be beautiful!

20111017-1 In Olomouc on the main square


Missionaries travel a lot! Next we went to Zlin.



Wow, look! There’s the moon! I think that Hummer and his family are probably asleep right now while that same moon shines on them in Arkansas.

20111017-2 In Zlin


Next Elder Bailey took me to the capital of the Czech Republic. Here we are in Prague on the main square, Vaclavske Namesti. I think all those people are gathered to talk about Lepidoptera.

20111024-1 In Prague on the main square, Vaclavske Namesti


In Prague, with Charles Bridge in the back. Hopefully he doesn’t drop me and I get run over by a car like I did before when I was in Arizona! Elder Bailey told me that the Vltava River is under the Charles Bridge. There is a beautiful piece of music written about this river. . . . Die Moldau.

20111024-2 In Prague, with Charles Bridge in the back


In Prague with Prague castle in the back. The nametag is in Hummer’s handwriting.

20111024-3 In Prague with Prague castle in the back


I liked being a missionary for about a week! Thank you, Elder Bailey, for hosting me!

Sunday, November 6, 2011

November 3, 2011


. . . .It wasn’t! : ) But it was very chilly as we met at the zoo. Five of the 3- and 4-year-olds from church came to your party, and their moms and younger siblings.


We had cupcakes with pinwheels.


Your daddy and brothers and sister were there, too, and we all rode the train, and played games, and sang to you.

















Later, at home, I spent some time going through your memory box, holding the gown you wore, touching the little lock of hair that is so irresistibly soft and such a precious tangible proof that you are real.


When I touch those things I am filled with painful longing to hold you again and at the same time awe at the beauty you have brought to my life.


You strengthen our family immeasurably. We are unified in our desire to reach where you are.


President Faust said that we don’t know the extent to which ministering angels bless our lives. I feel certain you are ministering to us in ways we will only know after we too have crossed the veil.

218 with stamp

My heart is filled to overflowing with love for you and your siblings.

So grateful to be your eternal


Note: The party at the zoo was part of a special gift from two very kindhearted people. They are DC’s sponsors through the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra, and earlier this year –out of sheer generosity—they  gave our family a membership to the zoo and a gift certificate for a birthday party there. We wondered at first how we would use the party—it would have been perfect for Benjamin, we thought. Then I thought of my Sunbeams, and how they would love a day at the zoo, and the idea to use it for Benjamin’s birthday seemed perfect after all.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Happy 4th Birthday in Heaven!

Dear, sweet Benjamin ~

Today marks four years since you joined our family, and our celebrations have been joyful.




Last night we took 5 shiny balloons to the cemetery, just as the sun was setting. We each wrote notes to you on 4 of the balloons.




(The fifth I tied to the hook near your grave).




Then we walked to the shore of the lake, and released the balloons up into the sky. As we watched them rise we sang I Am a Child of God.







We came home and had your traditional birthday dinner, the No Empty Chairs family home evening lesson, and then carrot cake and ice cream.





We prayed that it wouldn’t be raining today. . . .

(to be continued)

Sunday, October 9, 2011

The rest of the story. . . .Sunbeams

I realized that I have never followed up with you all on what happened with my challenging call to be a Sunbeam teacher. Would you like to know now?

It took a fairly complex strategy -- and just sheer hanging on through several months. . . .


I was assigned a great co-teacher, who was flexible enough to step in and take over when I was wrassling with a defiant or wailing child.  We may not have always seen eye-to-eye on how things should be handled, but she was unfailingly dependable in being there and doing her best to help.

I was released from my calling as ward music chair. (If I had my druthers at the time, I would have chosen to keep that one and lose the Primary one, but the Church is true! I know that callings are made and changed through inspiration.) It was a great relief to have only one calling to work on.

DC took Rosebud during the first hour. I was so grateful that later on, as the Sunbeams started to adjust and be happier and better behaved, I was able to take her back during that time. I loved having her on my lap as we all sang songs and listened to Sharing Time. It took several months to get to that point, though. . . .

A dear friend in the ward took it upon herself to become Rosebud's guardian angel during the class-time hour. She took her to Relief Society cuddling her as if she were her own grandchild. I was amazed at how happy Rose was whenever I emerged from the class and found her there on Mary's lap.

We came up with a firm routine. I made sunbeam magnets with the kids' pictures on them that we put up one by one at the beginning of class. We had fruit snacks on a blanket and held hands when we walked to the bathroom, and all kinds of little rituals that they learned to count on. And the amazing thing was to see that every single week, they seemed a little older and a little more able to cope with being asked to sit and listen and participate for two hours. I am convinced that a 3-year-old is a completely different animal than a 4-year-old!


The defiant child. . . what really helped me with him was hearing someone say they wished his Nursery leader were teaching with me, because he REALLY loved her. I've always had a bit of a competitive streak and that pricked me into a determination that he would love me just as much! That switch from just trying to get through each Sunday with him, to trying to really like him and help him like me made all the difference. By March he always wanted to be sitting by me and rarely challenged me any more in class.

The wailing child. . . for a few weeks his mom came with him. Then she said he needed to just quit cold turkey, or he never would adjust. So we gave it a shot, and man, it was rough! For weeks I spent all of Singing Time and Sharing Time in the hallway with him crying and screaming in my arms. Ward member after sympathetic ward member passing by would either stop and try in vain to help or just look at me and shake their heads, openly grateful that it was me and not them! Then I learned that this little boy spoke mostly Spanish at home, and so I  started trying to comfort him in Spanish. (This was kind of a joke, seeing as I don't speak Spanish, but I learned one or two phrases and repeated them in a compassionate tone. :) Eventually I could at least enter the Primary Room with him and stand at the back without him screaming. Then we could sit in the back row. Eventually we made our way to sitting with our class.

The funny thing is that the two children that were so difficult for so long ended up being the ones I miss the most now.

Yes, I miss them now! Because in August, the Primary president took me aside and told me she was reassigning me. I was floored. I thought I was definitely in for the long haul, and would probably be the Sunbeam teacher until we moved or something. She asked if I would mind being in the Nursery now. Would I??!! So now I have the delight of taking Rosemary to Nursery and then staying there and playing with her and the other little ones and getting to see her interact with them and her wide eyes as we have the lesson and her chubby little fingers pick up each goldfish cracker. It is awesome.


100 days of gratitude tagI am grateful for what I learned from this assignment and its difficult timing. I am grateful for the love I grew to have for those 5 little children of God. And I am grateful to be in Nursery now. :)



Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Where I'm From

A writing exercise based on this poem by George Ella Lyon. Hope you enjoy my plucky attempt. :)


I am from hot rocks and thorns,

from Saguaros and monsoon dust.

I am from brown carpet and rust-red brick.

(Full moon shining through open vertical blinds

a witness to coyotes’ unholy rejoicing).

I am from the caterpillar I ate when I was 4,

and the tunnels under our three rows of corn,

from the mulberry tree’s lowest limb

with a peanut-butter bucket on a string

for my servant sister to fill.




I am from Hop on Pop and Rush Grush,

  from Nancy and Jim.

I’m from the homemade bread on Saturday nights

and mariachi pancake mornings,

  from “Talk nicely” and ya-gotta-get-up reveille.

I’m from Oh, Carden, we love thee,

  from warm water covering my white dress,

  the name of God resonating distantly familiar.




I’m from Lester and Ella’s branch,

Sky-blue eyes and hands that mirror mine.

From Christmas Eve piñatas as we shivered barefoot.

  Sunday night British Bulldogs.

Outside my bedroom window are hard blue mountains.

Under my feet solid desert rock.

I am from the warm foothills

of Heaven.