December 2004


Original article posted by Minty:

I’v been home for a few days now and something just dawned on me. Ok it was more like an anvil, and when I say “dawned” I really mean dropped.

Iam homeless.

I have a bed to sleep in every night, and I dont live in my car. (Fuck, I dont even own one…) but what Im getting at is that I have yet to plant roots anywhere. I’m at that pain in the ass stage where I can’t stand living with my family but I still feel as if I should be living with some sort of relation.
Every couple of months I get tired of Cedar and yearn to go back to Vegas, and after I few days I seem to see the error of my ways.

I wonder how many of you villagers have felt something similiar when moving out…

Oh and Rodney how are you? Email me or something,tell me how your doing. Im sorry I ddin;t get a chance to say goodbye,but Merry Christmas and all that superficial yule tide crap.

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Original article posted by thewendy:

peace is always beautiful
-walt witman

Original article posted by Greg:

An old lady opened the door to her house wearing a nice grandma-ish outfit, and a vest embroidered with “Fashion Dragon.”

I have a new goal in life. And that goal is to be a Fashion Dragon.

I always heard people say that they would love to go back to their missions. And while on the mission I have always heard elders talking
about how they don’t ever want to go home.

I have always assumed these to be lies.

A few nights ago I was lying awake in bed, thinking about whatever it is that everybody thinks about while lying awake in bed. I thought about where I would be in 4 or 5 years. Suddenly I found myself in a panic, worrying about debt, school, career, family, insurance, age, co-workers, marriage, kids, dreams, goals, etc…

It was at that point that I understood more about why some people may not want to ever leave the mission. I love the fact that right now all I have to worry about is the gospel and loving others. And I don’t want to ever have to go back to the real world.

The panic did fade, but remained as a background buzz the past few days, until a well-timed letter from Kayeleen unintentionally reassured me that life will be okay, despite what it might end up doing to me.

In a matter of minutes I will be going to the church to have our missionary christmas dinner. I am quite excited. The thanksgiving dinner was so excellent here, but it made all the chinese food just seem like blech for the following week.

We just hit another semi-slump in the work over here. It makes for not a lot of time teaching, and a whole lot of time out trying to find people to teach. Most of whom say “NO!! NO!! AAAAHHH!!” or something similar.

But maybe that’s just because we’re getting blessed personally instead
of the work being blessed? Who knows.

I look forward to recieving your letters and thoughts on the subject.
By which I mean any subject. And also your pictures. by which I mean
of any subject, including you. For those of you who know Luke Millhouse, he sends the following greeting: “Figgy Puddin?” To which I can only agree wholeheartedly.

This is your brain on wassail,
-Elder Hamblin, Fashion Gecko in Training

Orginal comments:


Nickname: Stephanie
Re: If you were hoping for anything from me for christmas, hope for something else.
Hello, Oreo. this is kella. I borrowed Steph’s log-in to say hi. She’s coming to visit me tomorrow and help me finish up some presents for Scott that I need her help with. I may also rope her into helping me in my classroom. I teach fifth grade; against all reason I can conjur up it appears to be what God has in mind. I keep arguing for a stay-at-home-and-do-nothing-while-reading-Nibley approach, but school marm suits me better and better each day. And it helps one get used to their new last name in a hurry, too. Scott loves being at the Y, which is promising since it appears we will be there for years to come. (aagh) I’ll probably teach for 2-3 years before we can have a kid, but having 30 of my own keeps the baby-hunger from being overwheling.

We’re the gospel doctrine teachers in our ward (with, like, 15 other couples – no, I’m not kidding) but Scott doesn’t like public speaking and has a track record of having already fainted twice in his life while at the pulpit. We have to teach every fast Sunday; having not eaten does not work in his favor; so I tend to do more of the teaching than him. This is surprisingly difficult for me. I like to talk, and I like the church, but it’s not like I know any more about it than anybody else, let alone RMs, so what position am I in to have anything to teach? Yeah. That’s what I thought. I spend a lot of time quoting other people, but with cute toddlers running around fortunately nobody pays too much attention anyhow.

Teaching consumes my life and leaves very little of me left for making new friends. Plus, I’m shy around women. And all the women I work with are post-menopausal. So all my friends (Scott excepting) are ten years old. In some respects they’re nicer than adults.

Tera got married yesterday. That was weird. (I think her marriage was what sparked the “help-I-have-no-friends” cry I had yesterday) She married some third-year law student who graduates in May. But she still has 2 1/2 years of law schol herself.

Marriage is very fun. I highly recomend it. I’m a calmer, kinder person. (but don’t get your hopes up — not by much, yet.) Your letters are very greg-ish. I guess you must really be writing them instead of paying off your companion to do it. I’m afraid we’re off to a Christmas party so this (entirely random) note must end without much time to give you the encouragement that missionaries deserve in their letters. I’ll do better next time.

mickelle


Nickname: Stephanie
Re: If you were hoping for anything from me for christmas, hope for something else.
Hi Greg, this is actually me. You remember me? Stephanie? I haven’t written in a while so you may have forgotten so I forgive you.
Blaine wants to know Luke’s address. And me too. We will write him AND you. So would you include it in an email so we can all see and barrage Luke (and YOU) with letters.
love ya


Nickname: gandhi2
a few things reminded me of you
To Elder Greg Hamblin,

I have stated in a previous/only other letter that I don’t not write(that is type up a letter, print, stamp, address, an mail) very often. I share Ryan’s affiliation with modern technology, and email/im is too quick for me to consider other alternatives. I hope this gets to you by the appropriate channels(I believe that your mother is printing out responses and mailing them). When I do write, however,….boy, do I write. This was illustrated by Cube yesterday when he pulled out the 16 page letter written by me detailing a year of changes in my life. This by the way, is the first thing to remind me of you.
The second thing to remind me of you was an encounter, and 15 minute conversation.
First some back story. I have been challenging my mental facilities of late in the employment field. I have come to the realization that my previously tried-and-true method of finances does not work with a wife and child. I can no longer subsist from part-time jobs wherein I work only as long as I want, make enough to eat ramen, and spend 80% of my net income on entertainment. I believe as of the last letter, I had managed to weasel my way into a position with a programming company in Hurricane. That ended, whether for better or worse in this fashion(imagine this in comic format): Brian(HR Director/Tech Director/My Supervisor/Project Leader for 5 of our 8 projects):”Abe, don’t go out to eat just yet. You have lunch with me and Matt(CEO/Founder/Client Management/Primary Investor) today!” Later, at lunch…. Matt: How is school? Me: Fine, I am doing well. Brian: How is work with the USF. Me: Also fine. Matt: Well…enough of this small talk. Abe, remember how we hired you to do everything we didn’t have time to do or didn’t WANT to do? Me: ….Yeeeeees…. Brian: Remember how we never allowed you to move to a more challenging position, despite your continual proof that you could handle it, because we wanted somebody expendable? Me: ….Yeeeeees…. Matt: Well we hired a new chief financial officer. He says your position is the most expendable. Your job will not exist tomorrow. We would like you to find clients for us, kinda like sales, and be paid on comission. How does it sound to support a family on an unstable income? We need an answer. Now. The End. This may have worked, but I’ll never know, because although I was kinda backed into a corner on this, they never replied to my “yes” answer.
I ended up doing the USF job for the rest of the summer and the fall season, which was ok, but it ended. Although I was working for Publications still, the hours were incredibly sporadic and November/December were looking pretty rocky. I could avoid it no longer….the inevitable pull of the crappy fast food job was sucking me in. It just so happens that Cube’s wife is a shift manager at Wendy’s, and I am currently working there part time until I can find something more suitable for a valedictorian, technophile, and talented(albeit humble 😉 ) artist.
Ok, circular logic in play here. One of the employees who works there happened to overhear a conversation I was having about computers, and he found out that I was a CS major interested in a career in game development. He just happens to be developing a video game, has a (small) team of people currently working on it, and has some training in the business end of game development. I’ve been wanting to do something like this for a while(remember “The Fourth Race”, the HalfLife mod that never was? I guess that this is sort of the 2.5nd thing that reminded me of you) but some people just have the required dedication to get it done. I’ve been making time to do some programming work for the project, which has been quite fun.
Oh, yeah. His roommate is Taiwanese. His “English” name is Robin, he’s a CS major who, at the time, was somewhat stressed by finals, gettting into gen-ed courses, and frustrated by the beaurocracy surrounding college. He speaks Mandarin, and (…sorry…) laughed at the plight of my friend serving a mission in Taiwan, explaining that the majority of the population was not very religious, practicing a mainly non-spiritual version of Buddhism.
I have just posted the third thing that made think of you, the Sumatra tsunami that hit really hard in Thailand. The first thing I did was check the damage in Bangkok and Patanni, both areas where I have close friends/psuedofamily. Then I fired off an email to Australia to make sure my buddy Prem was OK, and to see if his family was OK. Then, I checked to see the locality of Taiwan to the center of the quake. Looks like you weren’t that close to it, but I’d still like to hear some confirmation that you are alive.
Well, that is essentially the history of the last time I sent you a letter. Since then, not much has happened that isn’t just the everyday everydayness of life. My daughter is growing up VERY quickly. She has shown some affiliation towards gaming, computers, and technology. Granted, at this point, these are interpretted by me rather loosely, and I am often more frustrated by than proud of her continually upsetting of the neat stacking of my games, DVDs, and CDs. She also has a habit of yanking on power cords, ethernet, and RCA cables, and I pull her out from her small cave under the computer desk more than three times every day, ending her blissful pounding/music-making atop my computer case. Its also somewhat embarassing when I have to explain to my fellow FFXI-ers after the string “aasdfsssssssssssssaf” is outputted on the screen. Perhaps if I was not too lazy to punctuate, the much repeated phrase “sorry baby” wouldn’t be misinterpreted so often… Despite my financial complaints and the additional stresses, I have never really known what happiness felt like until now.
Fortunately, you don’t really sound like you need alot of spiritual uplifting. If this is so, tuck this section away for a rainy day. Refer back to it as often as you need. I have recently done some amount of meditation about my personal spirituality, due to a couple encounters with some more “mainstream” friends. They have expressed some concern for my soul, mostly because(although I personally feel that I have a strong spirituality) I have currently conciously chosen to stay away from any organized religion. This in addition to some conversations with my family, have resparked old questions, and I’ve had to reassess what exactly it is I believe in. I hope these thoughts can serve to confirm your own convictions about God, belief, and your personal spirtual mission over there. I’m really a very logical creature, and have placed alot of faith in observation and the observable. With somethings that may not be observable(God, faith, etc) I have to rely on the effects or the results that myself and others have had. I have had perhaps a bit more diverse of a spiritual experience than alot of people in this area. The one thing that seems to be constant in every faith is that people who have a solid spirituality and a strong belief in WHATEVER, have led full, joyous lives. The first Buddha was a prince, who gave up all his riches, because of a strong BELIEF that he had. Writings tell that he was always calm, lived a very long and happy life. Joseph Smith, in his final hours, sang a song as the mobs closed on the prison. He was also known as a very calm man, who led a happy life. In all the stories of Jesus, and several other religious leaders in other religions, anger was met with laughter, hate with love, and violence with submission and forgiveness. From my studies, I have come up with a theory that there is a POWER in belief. Science states that a sound theory is easily disprovable. I know that this area is kind of a fuzzy area of observation, but I have observed countless instances where somebody’s profound belief in something could have potentially affected both the outcome of the situation and their sense of well-being about it. I guess the advice from this belief is to KNOW what it is you believe in, to believe in it strongly, and to maintain these beliefs as yours PERSONALLY.
The second major faith I have is in progression. Some of my religous philosophies border on kind of mathematical fetishes; if you heard me talk about fractals, infinity, or the ideal, you’d catch a sense of reverie in my voice. There are SO many sources in science and math that(to me, at least) provide proof of a workable model for an infinitely progressing model of the universe, that I personally believe is reflected in an intelligence beings level of perfection/spirituality/godliness. One of the core beliefs that I have, that resonates within the very consciousness that makes up myself, is that the entity/consciousness/being that is God is an artist. A creator has to have a spark of the desire to create, which is the definition of the artist. To me, there is no more asthetic model of creation than one that has infinite potential for greatness. If you find yourself discouraged by your personal stage of development, consider the implications of the above theory: nobody is perfect, perhaps you will never become perfect, but it is your duty/privilege to take the time required to become MORE perfect.
The third major belief that I have is in balance and order. This comes more from scientific observations, what little understanding I have in math, and just looking out at the world than philosophical speculation. So often I see proofs of an intelligent “hand” behind the workings of the universe. In my personal life, this has translated more as keeping an open mind and avoiding a slide towards one end of the spectrum, where more often than not, somebody else ends up making the choices for you. I don’t believe that I have enough information, and I hope I wouldn’t be so egotistical, to assume that my path is the only path to happiness. The Buddhists have a very interesting belief about the path to nirvana. They say that all Buddhas have traveled the same path, reached the same conclusions, in the same order. When I first heard this, I thought back to something else that I remembered from Mormon teachings about spirit prison and cardinal sin. What I speculated then was that the only way to have a just God with an all-forgiving Savior was that salvation didn’t depend on an ultimate decision made by God. It was a PERSONAL decision, but that certain choices in life put your conciousness in such a state that it made it very difficult to progress to the next step. I don’t quite know what I’m saying there, but I hope that you can see with an open mind in your dealings with people both in and out of the Mormon church. If I were asked to do what you are doing in Taiwan, my introduction would be pretty simple…just two questions, followed by a monologue. 1)Are you happy in life? 2)Would you like to hear how I became MORE happy in MY life?
Some of the reason I originally decided not to stay in the Mormon church was that I was really confused about how I could have personal spirituality amidst an organized religion, kind of mass spirituality. I think I’ve come to a few conclusions now that reveal that this is possible. Brigham Young talked about three levels of religion: (and I’m paraphrasing here) principle, law, and ordnance. I call them by different names, but I think that its essentially the same: ideal, principle, and ritual. Most of the time, ordnance/ritual is used as a vessel for understanding principle/ideal. If you can look beyond the ordnance of serving a mission, and come to understand the principle thereof, you’ll have no problem dealing with the down times, the homesickness, the disappointment, the doubt, the slammed doors and angry Chinese oaths… 🙂
Ok, that ends that section…enough of the sappy and profound. Seriously, I think that you are doing this for all the right reasons, and am rooting for you. Hope you find the answers you are looking for.
This ends my quota of required letters. Cube got the most, which was two. Don’t expect any more! The theory is that volume/quality vs. quantity will keep you sustained. Besides, it always pays to be pessimistic. That way, you can be pleasantly suprised when things turn out right.

Your friend, and spiritual cheerleader(GOOOOOO GREG!! Gimme a G….um. Can’t do it. Sorry.)
Gandhi

Original article posted by Cornelius:

Some of you know part of this story already. For those who don’t, I’ll start at the beginning. Back in April, I started working on mission papers. Everything went fine until I tried to get my immunization records from my National Guard unit. You have to have some shots now before you can turn in papers. It didn’t used to be that way, but they changed the standard before I started working on it. The problem was that someone lost my file. It took them until August to get me what I needed.

Then, I turned the papers in to my bishop. He took them to the stake president. All of a sudden they re-drew all of the student ward boundaries in Cedar City. I ended up in another stake. Start the process all over again. Only this stake president says, “I’m not sending in your papers until you’re an elder, and we’re not going to do that until the next stake conference.” That was in November.

So I waited and the weekend before Thanksgiving I was ordained an elder. The day before Thanksgiving, my section chief calls and tells me our unit has been put on alert. I ask him if I can still turn in my papers. He tells me no, but he’ll ask anyway.

This weekend at drill I got to talk to my battery commander who tells me that I’m going to Iraq with everybody else. He also tells me to look at the experience as something positive and remember how many of the current General Authorities went to WW2 before their missions. I thought about it and he’s right. I’ll come back from this with a stronger testimony, more wisdom, more knowledge, resume-building experience, and a big wad of cash.

The point is that every time I get close, something changes. I know that God has something planned for me. You can look at this as I’ve been getting the shaft, or that God knows it’ll be good for me. Maybe even necessary. Every trial contains a blessing and it’s been my experience that the bigger the trial, the bigger the blessing. For those of you who play FFXI, think of it as I’m being power-leveled. Sure, I have to fight tons of stuff that’s way too hard for me, but there is someone behind me who will protect me, heal me, and if necessary raise me. And I get experience ten times faster than normal. How many of you would turn that down?

Well, that’s the story. You decide if it’s good or bad, triumph or woe.

Orginal comments:


Nickname: squishous
Re: Strong am I with the Force…but not that strong.
This is a triumph, brother, a triumph.

it’s been a while, I am glad to hear you are still moving forward with your papers. I am sad that you will be put in harm’s way, but you will remain in our (mine and Mindy’s) prayers.

and remember what you would do if 100,000 Zergling suddenly came over the ridge…

-russ


Nickname: Stephanie
Re: Strong am I with the Force…but not that strong.
I shall say a triumph, even though it scares me more than a little.
Come and visit and I will feed you donuts.
And you can tell me when you’re leaving.
I’m moving to NZ in Jan, so visit me before then. During the weekend.
Love you
Steph


Nickname: gandhi2
at the risk of sounding blasphemous….
If you ever need 36 WHM, I’ll be there in whatever sense I am able. Seriously, God, Light, Energy(insert conscious creation entity/god(s)/pantheistic universal force here) be with you. I hope you make it through this OK. I have a brother, recently married, who will be home for a year, before finishing off his required active duty time. Hopefully, a year later will be peacetime, and he, you, and all others in the military can spend it in college with their wonderfully earned scholarship money.

Original article posted by Greg:

I don’t know why I mention it, really. I suppose the point is that you are missing out on a few cool things happening to me because I can never remember to write them in these little posts.

The other day six brothers and sisters all came up to us. The oldest was probably 10. They surrounded us as we tried to figure out where to go tracting. They pushed the buttons on our bicycle lights and asked questions. “What is this for?” and “What is in your bag?” and “Want to come play?” One of them asked us “Where are you from?” And another one answered “They’re from heaven.” “Are you from heaven?” “Hey, these guys are from heaven.”

We left them there in the street while they waited for their father to finish getting drunk. And I wondered if it was fair of us, and what would happen to them in years to come.

But I wonder that kind of thing a lot.

In other news, a new chapel here in the Hualien district has opened last week. So we had our church meetings there for the first time on Sunday. It is a beautiful building. People all over our area know it and ask us about it. Great feeling inside, too.

I think this band is called TLC. I find I don’t like TLC.

I heard somewhere that goldfish have a memory of four seconds. That would mean that a goldfish’s entire life is whatever he has experienced in the past four seconds. Hey, look… Bubbles.

I don’t know how true that is. I imagine it’s one of those statistics that 78 percent of the population can make up on the spot.

But I got to wondering about the memory span of a human.

Okay, obviously we remember a lot longer than four seconds. But there is an aspect of us that is somewhat forgetful, as well. That is, even though we can remember the fact of the event we forget what it meant to us at the time.

My thought is that the average memory span of a human being (in that sense) is probably around a year for most people. The reason for this is that I can remember just under a year ago I was able to drive around in a car and listen to music. I remember the fact of it. I remember that I thought of it as an enjoyable thing. But I don’t any more. You know? Like I forgot how it was to enjoy it because I haven’t been able to do it for a long time.

Anyway, I think that is probably true for more things than just driving in a car. I imagine it is hard to remember why you liked spending time with the people you spent time with a year ago unless you still do. Or hard to imagine what it would be like to be back at the job you had a year ago when you’ve been doing a different job for a year.

So the trick is to let the unimportant things fade, and keep the important things bright in your memory. Maybe that’s one good purpose of a diary. We meet lots of people here who find real stability and happiness in life, then figure there’s no need to maintain it, and a year or so later they are completely different people. But I completely believe that a maintenance of emotion and belief and thought is possible for an immense amount of time.

Of course, there is the nostalgia eel, who swims up the passages of our personal history like a slippery ribbon-like ghost of goodness past. Then it’s like being there again, re-living it over again. But never quite as potent, nor ever quite the same flavor again.

So that’s my random ‘people are like fish’ theory. I’m not sure how gills fit in, but I’m sure they do somewhere. Of course, it’s just my opinion, I could be wrong.

I continue to get along well with Elder Taylor, who is probably the most laid-back guy I have ever met. Which is good. But we still haven’t had anybody get baptized. Which is bad. Because that’s a big part of why I came to Taiwan.

Yes, I still get the responses posted at the end of my messages, so please contine to post them. The responses, I mean.

Lacking further commentary,
-Elder Hamblin

Orginal comments:


Nickname: squishous
Re: Also we eat flakes floating on the upper surface of existence.
this isn’t really a responce. It is more of a change of topic.

Merry Christmas!! I don’t know if you will get this before the beloved day of presents arrives, but I wish you well all the same. And, I hear the Tiawanese give great fireworks!! take pictures.

-Russ

P.S. what is the difference between regular Cheer and “good” cheer? I suppose it has something to do with Tide or All or wossname.


Nickname: AnaNg
Re: Also we eat flakes floating on the upper surface of existence.
Are the flakes floating? Are we floating while eating the flakes? Are the flakes soggy? Is there no gravity on the upper surface of existence which makes the flakes float? Why are there flakes in the first place? Where did they come from? Did some random alien spill his morning cereal? Or was the alien not-so-random? You decide…I’m off to eat my mourning flakes.

Original article posted by Greg:

‘Movecalls’ came in last friday. I’m still in Jian with elder Taylor. Elder Demske, who I’ve been following around the island, moved to a place called Danshui. We joked that I’ll be moving there in another movecall in order to keep the pattern. Also in keeping with the pattern, elder Smith has moved down here to be one of the Zone Leaders on the coast. So once again everybody is saying “Wow, don’t you think it will be weird to see your trainer all the time?” To which I say, “no.”

Did your brain just tune out reading that? Mine did.

I guess there are some things that nobody really cares about. Hmm.

I’ve actually had the chance to see, in portion, some ‘new’ movies. A few weeks ago, for instance, I saw the first half hour of Terminator 3. We were teaching a nice lady and there was a TV directly behind her right ear from where I was sitting. Lots of eye candy, I believe I mentioned before. Last night I got to see the first 10 or 15 minutes of Harry Potter 3 due to similar circumstances. Looks a lot better than the first 2, as far as filmmaking, but pretty cartoony. I’ll have to check it out sometime.

Another highpoint of the week, as I indicated, was meeting the man with the metal teeth. Just like the big guy called Jaws from Moonraker. Like dead on. This is a guy who has his life figured out and that life includes denim, cigarettes, motorcycles, Buddhism, and metal teeth.

Cool.

And not just a little creepy.

There’s a train that runs through the town here. I always like to watch it go by. There’s a movie called “Spirited Away” where the train is a recurring theme, and it always makes me think of that. Specifically the part where the train pulls away from some platform somewhere, leaving behind some ghost girl who just seems to be staring at the train. Waiting for something.

I guess in my head it’s like a kind of symbol of change. Or unrealized dreams. Like there’s all these things that a person can do – all these life changes that can be made – and the first step is to get on to the train and get away from the old life. The old world. The old place.

Anyway. My time is nearly up.

As far as the actually missionary work here, it goes okay. We’ve met a couple nice young men who have interest in learning about God. I have a lot of hope for them as they are both openminded and willing to make efforts – which is about all it takes to begin to have spiritual experiences.

Thank you for the card with the cartoon nurse,
-Elder Hamblin