Monday, April 26, 2010

Quadruple Birthday & New YSA Stake

It's been a big weekend preceded by a big week! Mina was born on Thursday, adding to the plethora of April birthdays.

Apr. 22 - Mina's birthday
Apr. 23 - LeSueurs' anniversary (congratulations!!)
Apr. 24 - Heidi's birthday
Apr. 25 - My birthday
Apr. 26 - Scott's birthday

After a couple fun days in Ogden with the Powelsons and Mom, I met Heidi in south Salt Lake for her brother's baseball game on Friday. He hit a homerun at his first at bat! He's 14 and hit a 380 ft. home run. A runner was on 3rd, so 2 runs scored. At his next at bat, he got a double with 2 RBI's. The guy is a total stud, and it was fun to be there with Heidi and her youngest brother, Brian. Heidi's parents and her little sister Brynn showed up in the middle of the game and were bummed to have missed the homerun, but we still had fun. Heidi and I were singing old TV show theme songs and commercial jingles, like "Zac, Zac, he's a lego maniac!" Hahaha! It was so fun! So... that was Friday.

Saturday (Heidi's birthday) we went to a spin class at Gold's Gym with Heidi's best friend, Kristy. Then Heidi went to arrange my birthday present (details to come...) while Kristy followed me home to help arrange Heidi's birthday. :) Around noon, Heidi and I left to Salt Lake to help set up a silent auction for a charity group her cousin works with. I met some of her cousins and watched a bit of amazing Heidiness at work, and gained a little confidence in my own decorating abilities. After helping there for a few hours, we went to the "Secret Garden" - Heidi's second favorite place on earth (#1 is her family's cabin). The "Secret Garden" is what Heidi calls the grounds of a very unique church building next door to her grandparents' house in Salt Lake. The building used to be a mansion, and the back yard really is like a secret garden, with a pond, ducks, a stream with waterfalls, flowers, grass, trees, stone walls with barred windows, etc. Really, really cool place. Then we drove north for a while and found a park where we could set up my hammock. We relaxed in the hammock for about an hour, and then I said I needed to change my shoes (due to shin splints) before we went to our next activity (which was a mystery to Heidi).

Well... I really DID have some shin pain, but the change of shoes was just an excuse to get her to my house, where Kristy and her husband Quinn (and his brother) had decorated my living room for a surprise birthday party! I endured some harsh BYU-bashing in the midst of red and white streamers. UGH. Actually, I realized again how much I really do love BYU. I consciously started thinking about something else so I could easily ignore the jabs, because I was outnumbered and alone! Haha... anyway, Heidi was very unsuspecting and surprised, so it was a lot of fun. Kristy and I had both played up the fact that I had stolen Heidi's birthday and Kristy didn't get to be a part of it. I was apologetic, and Kristy was a little upset... heeheehee. Heidi had no idea Kristy was in the plans all along! We ate some Wendy's that Kristy & Quinn had picked up, including Heidi's favorite apple pecan chicken salad, and Kristy made a "cake" out of a pile of packs of gum in a cake pan! It was great. Heidi doesn't really eat desserts, and she LOVES gum. Kristy put a good-smelling candle on top, and Heidi made a wish and blew it out. Then we all had a piece of "cake." :) And then we watched "What Happens in Vegas," which is one of Heidi's favorite movies that she's been wanting to show me. It's hilarious! After the movie, Kristy, Quinn, and Quinn's brother went home and Heidi and I had a couple hours to just relax and reflect on an amazing day!

The next day was Sunday, my birthday. I went to church a bit early because the bishop had appointments. It was a pretty normal day, with a really spiritually inspiring sacrament meeting. One of my friends, who is one of the most sincere, humble people I have ever met, had a hard time getting through the sacrament prayer because he was emotional. I know from conversations with him, as well as a testimony he bore in a testimony meeting, that he really, really loves and leans on the Savior. His heartfelt sacrament prayer was such an impactful start to sacrament meeting. Then Michael Kidman spoke - he's leaving on a service mission, and he has worked hard to prepare for it. His talk was so sincere and simple, and his testimony was so powerful! Then Scott Bell and Chelsea Bingham sang a duet (the song that starts "I've never been the kind to testify..."). Then a high councilor spoke, and his talk was really good, too. I sat next to Darren Griffin... I love that guy. I just felt so grateful to be in my ward, and I texted Heidi "I love my ward! There are so many great people here!" It was such a great Sunday, including a "linger longer" with sloppy joes. :)

After church I facebooked, emailed, caught up on Heidi's "Songs of the day," :) and researched Hawaii Pacific University until Scott came over. We went and picked up Heidi and went to the "historic" and overly-speculated meeting at the Ogden Tabernacle. The historic event, for which this area is serving as the pilot area for the church, is as follows:

1) There will no longer be any distinction between "student" and "non-student" singles wards or stakes. There are only "YSA" wards and stakes. Student status doesn't matter. [This was not a big change... this distinction has been de-emphasized to the point that I honestly was not even aware of it... I was in a student ward and stake, and I'm not a student].
2) Young married wards have been dissolved. Married couples attend the residential ward for their area.
3) YSA's who do not live at home are automatically part of a singles ward. They do not attend a residential (family) ward. YSA's who live at home should counsel with their parents and decide whether to attend their family's ward or the YSA ward.
4) Boundaries should be clarified and enforced. [This is a big change... people around here tend to "shop" for a ward they like, regardless of boundaries. About 60% of my ward (well, former ward) lives outside the boundaries].

In accordance with these changes, the two Ogden University stakes were dissolved, and two new YSA stakes were organized, with new boundaries. For me, this is big news for 3 reasons:

1) I am no longer in the 13th ward, which is where I have met 99% of my Ogden friends.
2) Since I am no longer in the 13th ward, I am no longer the executive secretary, temple committee chairman, or an elders quorum instructor.
3) :) :) :) :) :) Harrison Blvd. used to the boundary for my ward. Now the boundary takes a turn at 28th street, which puts me BARELY in the same ward as Heidi!!! I'll include a map if I can figure out how... there! The blue is me, the red is Heidi, and the green is the new ward boundary. Does it seem perfectly tailored just for us, or what???

So... I love my ward, and I'll miss it. But as I was sitting in that meeting with Heidi, I just kept thinking how much I loved sitting in a church meeting with her. Holding her hand, her head occasionally on my shoulder, and listening to her sing the hymns... I loved it so much! And then we find out we'll be in the same ward, effective immediately. :) AWESOME!

After the meeting in the tabernacle, we went to Heidi's house. By this time it had leaked that Heidi had planned a surprise party for Scott and I. I saw blue streamers in her house (Kristy at work again) when we picked her up for the meeting, and then she stopped trying to keep it a secret. :) She had invited a ton of my friends from my ward, and we had so much fun playing "Celebrity," a game that Scott often gets started when we have a group together. When Scott proposed that we play a game, I said, "On two conditions. I want to play a competitive game, and I want to be on your team." He approved of my conditions, and we won 36-31. It was a really, really fun party, and my amazing girlfriend planned it all and crowded her house with strangers for me!... and Scott.

Heidi gave me the coolest birthday present! It's a "running survival kit," including GU gel (an energy/electrolyte boost for long workouts), transformer band-aids (hahaha), Nike Fit-Dry socks, and the highlight: A Mizuno quickdry running shirt that she customized into a jersey that says "Fairbourn" with the number 27, and "CC" on the sleeve for "co-captain" - a title we have given each other. I. LOVE. IT!!!!! The socks and the running shirt are both things that I have thought would be really cool to have, but I'd never spend my own money on them. Those are THE BEST kind of gifts!! I'm excited to wear the shirt for running as well as biking.

After people funneled out of Heidi's house, she took me home and hung out at my house for a little while before we called it a night.

What an incredibly amazing weekend! Now it's Monday, Scott's birthday, and for our last 13th ward FHE we're having a surprise birthday party for the bishop, which I'm guessing will turn into a joint party for Scott and the Bishop, since today is Scott's birthday. So... three surprise birthday parties in as many days. Wow!

Before FHE, Heidi and I are going to go jogging to calibrate our new Nike+ sensors (that was my gift to her, along with a book with pictures of stained glass). I still need to hook mine up and see if my old iPod Nano is Nano enough to work with the wireless receiver I got with my Nike+. If it doesn't work, I'll just sell it.

So... that's the latest in my world. Life is so good!

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Hawaii Interview

I had my interview with Hawaii Pacific University yesterday. They asked questions that really allowed me to shine... like, "What's your experience in your teaching field [Spanish]?" "Have you had experience working with young people before?" It feels good to have lists for answers to those questions.

"I've spent a total of over a year in Spain, Mexico, Guatemala, Costa Rica, Ecuador, and Peru. I also minored in Spanish at BYU."

"I worked at a residential treatment center in Orem, Utah with at-risk youth. I've also worked three summers at a summer youth conference. I also taught a seminary class to high school freshmen and sophomores."

They also asked why I want to teach, what professional values and attitudes are required to teach, what I hope to gain from their program, etc. They asked where I want to be in five years, which I had just recently talked about with Heidi, so I was completely prepared. I said, "I'd like to be living in southern Utah, hopefully teaching in the same district or school as my brother. I'd like to teach the higher-level Spanish classes, but I'll take what I can get. And I want to lead study abroad programs in the summers to give my students opportunities to be immersed in the language and Latin American or Spanish culture." Then they said, "Where would you like to be in ten years?" I said, "Still doing the same thing!"

At the end of the interview, Dr. Abordonado said something like, "Well, Brett, your passion for Spanish and for teaching are obvious, and they're contagious." She said they'd give the admissions people "our strong recommendation for your admission" and, "We'll leave the porch light on for you here in Hawaii." My poster had fallen off my wall during the interview, and I had made a comment about it. At the end of the interview, Dr. A said "I think your poster falling off your wall is a sign that you need to start packing your bags for Hawaii." She said I should call in a week or so if I haven't heard back, but that she expects I'll hear very good things from the admissions people. Heidi mentioned that I should have asked if they were going to pay for me to go there... wish I'd thought of that! I have to look into that now.

Speaking of Heidi, she came over last night and we made a fort in my living room. The fort incorporated the TV, so we could watch a movie from in the fort. :) It was fun! Today we're going to help her aunt with a mutual activity for youth with special needs. We're doing yoga! Should be fun.

So... life is GOOD and I'm just waiting to hear from the University of Virginia. Honestly, though, now that I know Hawaii has a Spanish teaching program, it's going to be hard to resist the opportunity to live in Hawaii for a couple years. BUT it would be like a mission all over again, and I have so many nieces and nephews now! I've been spoiled by the Powelsons' proximity for a long time, and I can't imagine going that long without seeing those boys... and the soon-to-arrive little girl. Of course, now the Richards are even CLOSER and K, B, & B are not terribly far away, either. So the only bearable way to leave seems to be Houston, but for some reason Houston is just not causing any kind of resonance in my mind... probably because they don't have a Spanish teaching program.

......... decisions, decisions.