Sunday, April 29, 2012

The Honorable Life

It has been a long few weeks.

To cite an example of what wacky is going on in my epileptic brain, I went to a neighboring town to take a photograph and I fogot to take the camera.

I have been drowing in many projects of late, but that busy time is slowing down and it gives me time to think.

In all that thinking, there is something that has kept returning to me mind:
my honorable life.

I presented months ago to a 6th grade about my trip to China.  As is custom, I have received a large envelope full of handwritten thank yous from the students.

I love to read them.  It is interesting what themes come through.  What I must have emphasized without realizing it.  What touched them and they say they will remember.
I read every one. And, sadly, I also analyze their handwriting.  Not on purpose...just happens.
Remember I took class years ago?  I can tell you who is steady, who is a poor student and who is seemingly set up to succeeed and fail by their handwriting and vocabulary.  Weird eh?
There is one letter from this last batch of about 80 letters that I pulled out and have looked at for several days.
It is from Kelsey.

It is the last sentence I would like to write about.

Kelsey, a girl who does not know me or me her, brought reality and truth into my life.

The truth of the matter is that I have had many honorable opportunties is this life.

Sometimes, when I am feeling mired down and lost in the shuffle of too many visits, projects on the table, service dates, everyone, I wish it would just be over.

Like, for example, I am ready to be done with the temple open house and dedication.

I am tired.  My congregational members are tired.  My camera is tired.  My family is tired.
Instead of relishing the fullness of what a special opportunity I have had, to be "honored" with the chance to be a part, I am thinking "when do we go back to our regular life?  How many more times do I have watch that 11 minute intro movie?"

But stepping back, I want to look at the experience from my "Kelsey" vantage point:
We just helped host over 80,000 people in a open house at the temple I have watched be built for four years.    We helped thousands who did not understand that we are good, Christ-loving people undestand who we really are.  I made friends with the protestors who say they only protest us because they love us and want to help rescue me and my Mormony friends.  All this happened by no crazy networking and manipulation on my part....I just sort of stumbled into it.  I got to serve the temple in many diverse ways.  Which, in reality, I am really serving my God.

What is not honorable about that?

Take it down to a smaller scale.

I helped a best friend die in peace, comfort and love.
I have helped hundreds of kids learn they have something to contribute.
I have helped raise to two human beings that want to make their world a better place, in their own way.
I have given hope to the hopeless.
I have shared all that I have with people I don't know.   And people I do.
I have traveled around this world and seen how others live.
I have been given a great education.
I have picked up the trash off the ground to help the earth look prettier.
I have a pretty functional brain.  :)  Depends on the day.

I could go on and on.  The point is that Kelsey is right. 

She would be honored to go where I have been.  Not because I am some super neat chick.  It actually has very little to do with me, as Valerie.

It is the opportunities that God, my Heavenly Father, has given to me.  Opportunites that I have chosen to take.

So, Kelsey, thanks for the note.  Thanks for the reminder that things are really good and that I am honored to have gone where I have been.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Bob the Builder Award: Photohuko

I gotta say, this might be a new bucket list activity for me.

Can you imagine?  Going around to devastated places and photographing the people who have survived and taking their pictures and giving them albums to help them start their lives over?   :)

I am in love.

Monday, April 9, 2012 want to build a temple?

SPOILER ALERT:  If you do not want to see the what the temple tour/rooms looks like, than do not read this blog entry.  This is designed for those who will not be attending or going through themselves.  :)

So, that said, you want to see the history of what it looks like to build a temple? 

Well, I am just the girl to help your dream come true!  :)  You must remember that every temple and it's process is different.  Different looks.  Different timelines.  Different perspectives. 

This is mine.
First and foremost, there is the ANNOUNCEMENT.

Then, you get some buddies and you go "chase" down your best-guess location! 
The day after the announcement in 2008. 
This was my guess.  I was wrong.  :)  By about 4 miles.

Hopefully you have a chair waiting there for you....
Temple Chasing can be so exhausting!  :)

The Original Temple Chasers:
Me, Tom, The Girl and Cheryl, THE Temple Chaser


taken by Cheryl



Then the Temple Chaser moves away.  :(

So I decided to photograph for her.
 The first temple shot I ever took (I think)

Just keep building, just keep building

Safety first.  That's how I roll.

Just keep shooting.  Just keep shooting.

 With a little Angel Moroni sprinkled on top.

All this photo Temple Chasing has provided me with
so many beautiful moments!

Rock It Imagery--Thanks!
A new chair for our bi-annual picture!

Then Tom, one of our original
Temple Chasers, died from kidney cancer.
This was one of his last outings out of his home.
He requested to come here.

Where can I turn for peace?
The Temple of course.
 Taken the day Tom passed away.
God provided perspective that day when
I saw the "silver lining."

Alas!  After another YEAR of
interior work in the temple, it is time for the OPEN HOUSE!
A chapel is next door to help stage
the 80.000+ people who will be coming to visit.
My congregation attends this chapel on the left
side of the photograph
each week now.

The number one question I am asked is
"Can you see the temple from the chapel?"
The answer is yes.  Yes, you can.

If you had 80,000 folks coming to visit,
what do you do?
You CLEAN up and STAGE it!
Pick up the trash.

Take your picture with your besties
on freezing trash day

Clean up the church building...not the temple yet, the "ward building"

Napkins, plates, and cups...

The Girl and I took an opportunity to clean in the temple.
We scraped tile from China and Mexico in the baptistry.
We got a private tour.
We wore t-shirts that belonged to Tom in his honor.

Finishing and the new fountain

Time to TOUR!

Your friendly parking attendant, Mr. Fun,
will help you get settled.

When you enter the building,
you will see bulletin boards
that share part of our story.

This is the 137th temple in the world.

There are about 60,000 missionaries in the world.

Where missionaries from this area are serving

Time to watch a movie!
There are about 30 people per tour.
All tours are led by at least one guide, but
preferably two.  Mr. Fun and I will be guides.
As he said, I will be guiding and he
will be at the back, not talking, but lovingly
keeping the group together and moving.

The movie is lovely and is about 11 minutes long. 
One line I liked in the movie is that this temple was
designed to denote the peace the Mormons have here in
Missouri now as well as pay homage to the early
Mormon Pioneers and their legacy.  Which
includes Mr. Fun's ancestral grandparents.
How cool is THAT?

Time to see the main attraction!

Come on friends....let's go.
See our buddy, Brother Angel Moroni? 

Get a picture.  Or take a picture.

Everyone wears booties.

400 umbrellas in case of rain

No pictures are allowed to be taken inside the temple.
These photographs were officially taken by
the LDS Church and have been released in the public
for viewing.  FYI....they are not contraband.

This is the BAPTISTRY.

It is similiar to the one from Solomon's Temple,
found in the Old Testament of the Bible
in Kings 1:7.  The baptism font sits on the
backs of 12 oxen, representing the 12 tribes of Israel.

Christ taught that all should be baptised to
enter his kingdom.  Those who die without
baptism or a chance to learn about baptism
can have a living person stand in proxy for the dead.

This one reason that LDS folks do genealogy.


The mural is a reminder that God is our Creator.
Here we learn that God is our Heavenly Father,
and that He created this earth for us to have
experiences and learn to walk by faith.


This fine room is a representation
of returning to God after this life and
experiencing His joy.  This is used a
quiet space for prayer and meditation.


Jesus Christ gave Peter in Matthew 16 in the
New Testament the power to "bind on Earth and
in Heaven."  A sealing to us is that we are
married for not until death (until death do we part)
but for life and eternity.  Children who are born
to parents who have been sealed, are sealed to their
parents as well, creating a eternal family unit.

After the tour is finished,
you get to come back to the chapel building
and have a snack.  Hello!  Mormons
ALWAYS have food with a gathering!

Want a cookie or drink?  Carol can help you out!

After your tour, you are welcome to relax on
the grounds and enjoy the serene beauty.


And this my friends, is everything you need to do, have and say to
have a temple in your midst. 

Or you are welcome to come and join us at ours.  :)
Thank you for coming!