Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Mainland Again, Signing Off

Our adventure in American Samoa has ended, so therefore, so has this blog.  If I do start a new blog, I may write once more with a link for new address.  But here's one last post...

It's been exactly two months that we've been in our new home, and our boxes finally came from Pago, so I should be ready for a status report, right?

Well, things are going really well.  We're very happy to be with our family and friends here in the states.  It feels very different, but good.

Owen still thinks we live on an island.  He asked "What kind of dangerous sea creatures are on this island?"  The island of Utah.

This is what we used to do for fun.

These days we have fun like this:

This used to be school:

This is school now:

When we looked around we used to see:

Now we see:

And Ephraim's got a new look:
From Extension Agent/ Aquaculture Specialist

 To CNA/ Student

To catch you up on "The Master Plan", Ephraim wants to be a Physician's Assistant.  In order to do that he must apply for PA school next spring to enter school the following year.  We don't know where his PA school will be, probably eastern US.  In order to apply, he needs 3 more prerequisite classes and a million patient care hours.  (Million is approximate.)  He's working on the classes at SLCC and it's going great.  To get patient care hours, he did a quick CNA course in July, took the state exams last week, and has a part time job doing home health care.

We can't really afford to live on our own right now, so my parents agreed to let us stay with them.  My parents are so kind, humble, and caring.  I feel like we're at Rivendell with Elrond - a place of refuge where evil does not come.  I know that someday I'll have to return to my battles, but for now it's great to catch my breath in a peaceful environment.

I have one more year of online courses for my MEd in Curriculum Studies from University of Hawaii.  That's going really well, and I totally recommend it to anyone who wants a really great intensive masters program with super amazing professors.  (They're accepting applications for the next cohort now.)

Besides that I'm living my dream of staying at home with Owen and Linus.  We have so much fun!  I love it, and I feel so lucky that I get these few precious years with them at home.

In the meantime, the kids go to a great public school where my mom teaches, so they get to hang out with grandma everyday and ride home with her.  They are loving their teachers, their huge school building, and all the cool things like a big cafeteria, water fountains, a library with couches, a computer lab, big playground equipment, and lots of kids.

Mom and Dad have set up such a nice living space for us here.  They have a dishwasher, fishpond, garden, and even an elevator in the house!  It was kind of cold for us at night, but we bought lots of snuggly winter pajamas, and now we're fine.  We have been finding some fun stuff at DI, Ross, Target, Old Navy, etc.  It's so fun to go shopping again!  (Only wish we had some money:))

We spent lots of time this summer:
-at the rec center pool (which has a lazy river and water slide!)
-discovering new playgrounds everywhere
-going to reunions, weddings, and showers with lovely people who thought they'd never see me again
-getting established with the essentials: drivers license, insurance,... library card
-going to the temple which is now only 5 minutes away (Mt. Timpanogos).  It's a dream come true.
-streaming Netflix :)
-browsing my old journals and photo albums-- laughing, crying, or both
-wandering the grocery stores wondering what they do with all that food

I'd like to share some of my personal (and maybe subjective) thoughts and observations about this change.

From an email I sent to a friend:

"the kids are going to start school next week.  their school is big and new and lovely.  i can't help but reflect on all that we've been through these past years and i don't even know how to describe what i feel.  i'm happy for my kids, i'm confident they'll do well in school, i feel guilty for abandoning the kids who really need so much help on the island, and i hope that my kids don't forget their experiences in samoa.  i really feel like my kids have a special secret they carry with them that makes them very unique and gives them perspective."

Excerpts from my journal:
"The kids are excited to go to their new school.  It seems so big and beautiful and "normal".  I was a little sad/overwhelmed/thoughtful when enrolling them.  Just aware of the huge blessing they're getting by being at the this school.  I'll never take schooling for granted again.  I mean, how much can you complain about a free education?  Really."

"I feel sort of guilty about leaving a place that has so much need.  Like I've turned my back on them as so many others have done.  Like I'm moving on without them.  When I know so much of their need and I have so much here.  For example, at D.I. there are little used school chairs for $4.  I remember trying to get school chairs in Samoa.  I had to wake up at 5 a.m., call the company over my slow internet connection, pay almost a thousand dollars for about 45 chairs, and they finally made it there months after school had started, delivered by some nice person with a truck who picked them up at the dock for us.  It was a hassle from A to Z.  And I tell you what, I made sure my students treated those chairs nicely."

"I've only been to Walmart twice so far.  It just makes me sigh.  It's crazy, crazy, crazy.  I guess they're serving lots of people here and they all have different preferences, so they need lots of stuff, but what the heck!  How can ONE store sell everything under the sun in limitless quantities?!  And there are stores just like this in every town!?"

"Sometimes I'm so glad I'm not in American Samoa dealing with all the issues they face, and other times I wish I were there so I could help.  I feel like I'm dead watching the tough times on earth from a comfortable place of rest, unable to reach out and help.  I wonder if this is how souls feel in heaven, but maybe they can help, somehow.  Can I?"

"I've been a little disturbed lately. Our church leaders have been observing that the family is under attack for years, and I've really felt it more here.  In Samoa it seems families had to pull together because there are fewer distractions, more physical work to do, and there's no where else to go. For example, fewer educational opportunities, job prospects, healthy lifestyle obsessions,  s l o w internet so less gaming, shopping, socializing, smart phone obsessions, no shopping, no fashion pressure, and almost no one who questioned traditional family lifestyles.  Plus things were harder to obtain so you just suck it up and do without.  Our family pulled together just to get through the hard times.

"But here...there are endless options of how to spend time, money, and energy.  It's like people hate limits.  Everything is limitless - it's a popular idea.  A concept that you shouldn't have to submit to anything or anyone.*  You can do anything you want to do, with no mention of consequences.  But the consequences are all around, with women and men forgetting who they are and chasing dreams of beauty, love, success, acceptance, power, etc.
So in a way life is easier here, but in another way life can be a whole lot more difficult for people who don't want to exercise self-control.
*Plus, it's only when we submit to the Lord that will we be happy."

I guess that's the idea I'd like to end with.  I know that we have a loving Father who leads us along our journey.  He led me to an island where He taught me how to love and serve for His children.  Then He brought me to the mountains where He will teach me more about love and service, and whatever else He knows I need.  Sometimes I complain and grumble like most children do, but when I align my will to His, I can see clearly how He has been my biggest Supporter and #1 Partner in all I've been asked to do.  He has given me family, friends and experiences that add up to a remarkable life, and I can feel His love in all the world around me.

We have had so much fun on this adventure.  We've had so many struggles, surprises, and prayers answered with great blessings.  We miss our dear friends in Samoa, and know we will carry them with us wherever we go.

Thank YOU, our readers, our family and friends, who have traveled this journey with us.  May God bless you and lead you along your journey.


Helen Monson said...

Love you.

sdtenney said...

Bless you, Melinda, for your willingness to share your experiences. You are a good and wise soul. Our daughter Amanda is doing well (I think) in her A.S. journey so far!!

IWA (e - va) said...

Good luck to you and your family, thanks for sharing your sweet thougts. I am so grateful to have gotten to know and work with you in AS. I was thinking about you a few weeks ago as I was shopping and there were rows and rows of fresh strawberries....may God continue to bless you and your family in all your new endeavors!

Heidi said...

I loved what you wrote Melinda. It was beautiful! And very true! Thanks you for sharing! It was definitely worth the read!

Heidi said...

And you are such a great person! I just love you!:) And miss you and your family.

Lani Roehl said...

You had me bawling my eyes out...I'm going to miss your blog! I'm not very good at keeping in touch and it has let me feel like I actually have been a part of your lives these past 6 years. I also really enjoyed your insight on our Mainland society. We truly are bombarded with so many things to distract and so many choices. I just try to keep the mantra of "Good, better, best" when living life daily.

Abbie C. said...

Aunt Melinda,
That was beautiful and I really enjoyed it. I'm so glad you live so close now and that we get to see you so often. I know you'll bless the lives of so many other people by being here. I love you!