Monday, September 15, 2014

All Around Me

August 2014 – “It’s All Around Me!”

That’s how the frantic participant in the campfire program got everyone’s attention as he ran up to the campfire interrupting the Campfire Leader’s Introduction to the next sing along song. Franticly he called out as he ran around the fire in front of everyone, “It’s all around me! It’s all around me!!” he yelled looking off in all directions out beyond the fire ‘s light. “It’s all around me!!!”  The Campfire Leader saw his frantic movement and calmed him while he looked out to see who had the young man so worried. “What?  What? What’s all around you?” he asked.

The frightened camper looked out with terror at each of the campfire participants then calmly back at the Campfire Leader (who had put him up to it in the first place) and lifting his sweatshirt so everyone could see, he simply said, “It’s all around me, my belt!”

So ended the stunt and the audience laughed and went on to the next sing-a-long song.

There have been times in this last couple of months where I too have felt the reality that “it” is all around us too. In this case, though “it” is not a belt. Sometimes “it” feels that close. The “it” of this, non-stunt explanation, is the “it” of the spirit working with the people of Africa, especially the youth and Young Single Adults. As we see them in their Seminary and Institute classes, hear them at the podium in talks, testimony and prayer, we feel that excitement and wonder of “it” being all around us.

“It” continues to amaze us just how the Lord is preparing, calling and nurturing the future leaders of His church in this great, but oh so challenged land. They need but a few years of maturing, experience and deepening their understanding of the management of the Church and its programs to become ready for what is obvious…
a great surge in the membership and influence of the Saints of Africa.

We have just finished a series of “mine-field” initiative course adventure activities for the Institute students of the Soweto Stake.  This time we couched the game as “Escape from Babylon.” This was appropriate following on the Institute Choir’s performance of “Israel, Israel, God is Calling” practiced and recorded under our direction for use in a World-wide CES Broadcast last month. (Song attached)

 The event of the Escape activity saw participants, groups of 12-15 students, ages 14-21 (including a few returned missionaries), start out at one end of the cultural hall with the challenge to move the entire team(s), all together, as a group, across the floor to the other side (stage) – without ever touching the floor with their body or clothing.  The only place they could step was on one of the 6-8 1-foot square carpet runner pieces.

 AND, to do it all in absolute SILENCE!

When anyone did touch so much as a shoelace, or finger tip to the floor, the referees called “fault” and that person had to immediately return to the starting point, “Babylon”.

But, the goal was everyone, all together, as a united group AND no verbal or sound communication (written was out as well).  Oh yes, after three faults, the whole team had to go back to “Babylon” and start over – minus one of their carpet squares. YIKES and MOANS, but remember no sound – or else! It was a daunting task that took from 1:49 to 2:25 hours for each group to figure out how to do it. 

 We have done this exercise under various scenarios for well over 30 years now in Wilderness Treks, Pioneer Treks, Youth Conference events, indoors (Las Vegas Convention Center) and outdoors from the high Uintas to football fields.  It is always fascinating and amazing to see the efforts and patterns of attempts that lead to a common simple slow process that works.  It is always fascinating to watch the leadership and non-verbal communication develop and operate.
  It is interesting to see and feel the highs and lows that is “all around them” as they progress and then fall and try again, each time getting a little better at the balance and teamwork that is required to go the distance.

 It is a wonderful thing to remove the Activity’s gag and allow the participants to express their feelings, learning and life parallels to this experiential activity that unites the group in a common challenge that, at times, feels absolutely hopeless, helpless and totally frustrating. Oh, but the success and sweetness of  “We did it!” is a powerful reminder and memory hook for yet future challenges.

They may meet with frustrating challengesin their personal lives, church and school work and workplace. For each of those challenges that truly will be “all around them,” the activity is a great preparation and thought reminder.

 They find out very quickly how vital "unity" is and how much more effective they are at completing the challenge when they rely on each other.  Real leadership comes through more clearly when the more vocal can't vocalize.
  The "Iron Rod" that they discover on the floor about mid-way across becomes as significant help to "balance their efforts" and speed their success.

Of course the goal is one mind, together, commitment and 

The Iorn Rod is also an invaluable tool when it comes to mounting a "rescue" for someone who has fallen and needs to have a little "Martin's Cove" help to get back to the tail to Zion . 

Progress seems slow at the moment. Its all step-by-step. Here a little and there a little, carpet square after carpet square until through the lesson of persistence they reach "Zion".

"It is all about working together. When they figure our the "straight and narrow" way, the "how" becomes clear.  After the trial comes teh answer to the "why".
 They laugh, they cry, the fume and they vent - just not verbally.
 They fall and they fail and they try again, and again and eventually they figure it out.  Once they do it moves very quickly - relatively speaking that is.
They, "we" just can't seem to get through life without stepping on a few feet.

Now they can achieve anything, or at least they have teh "can do" attitude that comes from accomplishing what they all had thought, more than once was IMPOSSIBLE!


They discover that the very help they need, individually and collectively, is truly "All around them".

There is much more that is all around us these days. Gratefully the winds and air that has been all around us is moving on and the warmth of approaching spring and summer has chased away the “see your breath” mornings and walking on frosted ground. Now we are seeing the flowering trees, hearing more of the nesting bird songs and smelling the fragrant buds of spring, reminding us that after the challenge, comes the reward of hopeful and faithful waiting on the sure fact that spring will come and the this too will pass of the cold and hard days of winter, is now upon us.

Now each morning as we walk, we are greeted with the sweet smell of Jasmine, wisteria and several fragrances that are “all around us.” We are also greeted with the reminder that time waits for no-one and that ours is marching on and the next several months that are all around us will soon be all behind us.  We hope to affect the people and the Seminary and Institute process here, just a little for the better, all though to be honest, the challenge is that we see very little evidence of that --- yet.

 This past week Elder Davie and I tried our hands at making Sushi.  It wouldn't have won any reward, but we did learn how to get it all around us.

 It was time for another gathering with Ann and Wally Krambeck. So we skewered up some kabobs for the Braii (BBQ). 

The finish product!

The enjoyment of good friends and good food.  Any of our family and friends will know that that is our life and joy - at home and here.

We are amazed at teh size and price of bread here. It is tightly regulated, as is petro (gas).  These huge loves were about $1.50. People here, especially the poor are weened on bread and it becomes literally the "bread of life" as that is about all they can afford.

So we continue to wait on and rely on the harvest of the Lord’s watering and the spirit’s cultivating influences over the long term and know that we are just one little rainstorm in a lifetime of the Master of the Vineyard. There will be other laborers who will add their influence and work when we are finished with our little hour.

I had the impression to visit my High School graduating class web site today.  So interesting.  I left that experience clear that we are not who we were – none of us. There are 27 of our small graduating class that have crossed the veil From Bill Gammell Connie Crane, Alan Bartlett and Pierre Harding who were the first to go, to Jeanie Benally and Tim Woodward the most recent. We came, we shared a little time together, we went our separate ways and left memories, sweet and not so. Now one by one we continue on – rather we return to where we started.

Interesting how I have developed such interest in the lives of my classmates. Interesting how, now, to me, their lives, experience and family matters. I am looking forward to seeing many of them at the 50th in a few years. And yes, I know that some of them, us, may not make it to that gathering.  Yet, I am clear that it will not be many years hence until we will all meet again with clear memories of who we really were, became and are. So, for now I salute you my classmates and friends of 1969.

Now to a little family and friend business regarding our pending return to Utah.

As we look forward to the distant return to the mountain, we note some important dates for family and friends to consider. We expect to return to Scofield about May 24-25. We are in the early planning (Calendaring) of these events that may be important for you to note.

Cabin Work Party Family and Friends (Yes this means you) Gathering – May 28-31
Cleaning and staining the cabin – mixed with a little Dutchovening, ATVing and adventuring.

Lewis and Amy Cloward Family Reunion (Doug, Paul and Amy and descendants) --- June 26-27 at the Cabin. RVs, Trailers, tents welcome and plenty of floor space

Doug and Judy Cloward Family Reunion --- July 1-6 2015 – this may well be our last Reunion at the Cabin.

Judy’s Babbel Sibling (and spouse) Reunion  July 16-19 at our Cabin.

William and Ella Jarvis Cousins Reunion --- July 24, 25 at the Cloward Cabin

We love you all and look forward to sharing the essence of our African adventure with you more intimately upon our return. Until then, it’s onward and forward in the battle and the service. Judy you are up for comments and adds….

 Judy and Maxine (sister Davie) at a street vendor lunch in Mafikeng
Doug's home made bread bowls and corn chowder

So… turn......let’s see, what can I add that will lift and inspire you as well as my eternal Companion…whom I love so deeply. I am so grateful to serve my first mission with him and I look forward to serving more missions with him! I love to take the time to ponder and pray and weep and yearn and resolve….which I’ve been doing while I’ve been proofing this blog. So if it was just up to me, I’d end it here, but then y’all wouldn’t “hear” from me…

I have been so blessed with tender mercies every day. I like to acknowledge the Lord in all things and at all times and in all places and find myself inwardly saying “thank you!” over and over again as I acknowledge another answer to a heart-felt prayer, or plea or request.

Sometimes when I am alone, I verbalize my gratitude as my tears water my mortal shroud, which in turn feeds my continual growth through my first African missionary experience (and yes, my first of more!).

So many tender mercies! If this mission helps me to journal more and write down all that I consider to be tender mercies (as we have been counseled to do by our Apostles and Prophets) this mission will be worth every tear, laugh, smile and hug (which I preface with “it’s okay to receive a Grandma hug” as I share my cheesy grin :-D)

Last month I accidently dropped our car keys in the trunk of our car as I closed it. Unfortunately, the mission office didn’t have a spare key for our car. Elder C asked our neighbor if he and his boys could come over and help us figure out a way to retrieve our keys so we could be about our S&I (Seminary and Institute) business. What seemed to me to be 15 minutes later in the sweaty mid-day heat, as Elder C was trying the wire hanger between the window and the door lock thingy, I went to offer a fervent silent prayer and in less than a minute, Elder C was able to pop the door lock, which allowed our neighbor’s youngest son to pull down the back seat handle and climb over the boxes in the trunk to retrieve the dropped car keys! After all we can do…and the Lord continues to hear and answer our prayers!

Twice this past month my cheap $1 earrings have come apart. Sometimes I didn’t know I didn’t have all the part to one of the earrings until I went to put them on! “Miraculously” I found the metal loop hook in the turtleneck part of my turtleneck! A week later I noticed the same earring was missing the itsy bitsy teensy weensy metal loop that attached the earring hook to the earring….I found it on the floor by my chair by my table “desk.” So tiny and yet completely known and not lost to the Savior and whomever was serving as my guardian angel at that time. And yes, in both instances, I fervently prayed for help and help came.

I guess my part of this blog is my testimony of sincere prayer. When someone is sick, or something is lost, or we are driving and I just happen to look up in the opposite direction of my husband and see an accident waiting to happen to us and we are spared, again, and again….sounds like the Atonement to me. We come to the Lord’s last supper each week to partake of the Sacrament and renew our baptismal covenants as we review His atonement for us…for me….for you.  Our Savior is concerned about the ONE. The lost sheep. The hungry, the out of work, the hungry, the tired, the poor. We have this wonderful opportunity to make afresh our covenants every week, wherein we covenant to remember the sacrifice of our Savior (his Atonement—Gethsemane—where he bled from every pore) which was shed for US, and take upon us His name, and keep his commandments, and witness that we do always remember Him, that we may always have His spirit to be with us. I look forward to taking the Sacrament every week and review my renewal of these sacred covenants.

Every week we attend one or two sacrament meetings so that we can meet and greet our Seminary and Institute students and teachers and fellowship with them. To do this, we must travel long distances. On August 3rd, Fast Sunday, as we entered the N1 (like L.A. freeways) on our way to church, we noticed that the 12-lane traffic (6 in each direction) was diverted into one lane and at a standstill. 

Apparently the police thought that the Sabbath was a good day to check for expired car registrations. We sat in our hot car and watched the clock as the minutes ticked on and on and on. As we sat there, Elder C realized that he had forgotten to transfer his wallet from his other missionary pants. I suggested that I could switch places with him and he graciously declined my offer. 30 minutes later, we were the next car up. “Miraculously” the red plastic cone was removed from our lane as we inched forward and we were all free to go! We were the first car to go through and we got to the chapel just as the sacrament prayers were being offered. The chapel doors were closed to us. And the sacrament was not offered to those of us who stood outside the “bridegroom’s” door. We had arrived too late. 

I was devastated. However, we were able to sit with the saints and enjoy the Sacrament meeting testimonies. We then headed over to the stake center which has two wards meet there. Unfortunately, there were slow downs again and we arrived at the chapel after the doors had been closed and we once again, we stood outside the “bridegroom’s” doors and were not allowed in.

This had a profound effect on me. I was inwardly weeping. I do want to be found unworthy to attend the Bridegroom’s feast! Not EVER!! I want to renew my covenants with Him every week and recommit myself to keeping His commandments so that I may always have His spirit to be with me! The serendipity to this is that I have become more aware and I’m working harder to be early or ready to leave when we have appointments to keep. And I am finding that the prayers of my heart are being answered as I continue to try to do a little better each day....When it’s too late…it’s truly too late. It’s easier to repent along the way and improve each shining moment….

When we returned from the two meetings we attended, we found that the N-1 was still blocked headed in the other direction! ONE HOUR LATER, the lanes were opened and we arrived at the Davie’s flat an hour late for the lovely dinner they had fixed for us…

Tender mercies are happening every day. I thank the Lord all the time as I try to have a prayer in my heart. As I am typing this, I am weeping, again…..Guess it’s moldy age—but then doesn’t cheese become better with age? I guess that was cheesy…sorry.

We love and miss all of you. You are in our hearts and on our minds every day and we are praying for you and looking forward to reuniting with you next summer (our winter here). Until our next blog, remember,  Onward ‘n’ Upward!  Sister Cloward