Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Crickets, Seagulls, and Personal Revelation

I love the old Utah pioneer legend of the crickets and the seagulls. In 1848, after a relatively mild winter and an early planting season, hordes of crickets suddenly swarmed down on what seemed to be a tender mercy in the first successful harvest in the Salt Lake Valley. In a matter of minutes, all the hard work of the early pioneers seemed to be for naught as the crickets cannibalized everything in their path. These desperate men and women did everything they could think of--stomping, beating, burning--but nothing seemed to stop the tide of destruction. After doing everything they could think of, the pioneers knelt down to pray. Suddenly, from out of nowhere, flocks of seagulls flew in, devouring the crickets and saving the crops and the future of Utah and Mormondom as we know it today. It was a miracle.

As a historian, I know this tale is fraught with difficulty. Many pioneer accounts do not refer to what would have surely worthy of recording. Others list problems of frost and famine for that year. Apparently, this is a normal activity for seagulls, just one never before witnessed by the new Utahns. All the same, I love it. I believe it. I hope for it.

Elder Holland talks about how in moments of extreme urgency, we can ask for and receive urgently needed revelation. He points out that when the Lord teaches Joseph Smith about revelation, he refers to the story of Moses and the Children of Israel trying to cross the Red Sea with Pharaoh and his troops on their heels. At the moment of greatest extremity, Moses prayed and the Lord showed him how to part the Sea.

I love that the Nephites believed Samuel the Lamanite when he prophesied of the birth of Jesus Christ. He told them that the sun would set but there would be no darkness. Many of them believed, to the point of extreme urgency, when their enemies mocked and scorned, and even threatened death on the deadline of the prophecy. These dear believers prayed and at the last moment, upon danger of death, the sun went down and the world remained alight, exactly as had been promised.

It seems that in moments of greatest urgency, we can receive the deliverance, the light, the hope, the direction we need. I'm banking on it.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

African Party

Last Saturday we threw a big African party in honor of Sheik. I think in total there were over thirty people there from seven different countries, with all sorts of food and music and dancing. It was good times! Here are some photos, taken from Sheik's camera.

Kendall with all his African homeboys... I think he secretly loves being the Big White Man.

The woman in the gold bubu is from Guinea. She and her sister-in-law were dressed to the hilt--they were so beautiful with their hats and gold jewelry. The other woman (unfortunately not pictured) actually ran into her prom date from Guinea who had come with another friend. Both just happened to be in America, in Washington, D.C. visiting. Talk about a small world!

Sheik returned to Guinea last night. We will miss him, his bright African shirts, and his kind, gentle ways. Alhamdulilah!

Friday, April 25, 2008

Sending Notes

A couple of weeks ago I was talking on the phone to my 7-year-old niece Sierra, who lives in Colorado. She asked me if we could start sending notes to each other. So on Wednesday, after a very long, grueling day, I came home and found this in the mail:

This was the other side of the page. She always folds it long ways and then draws a triangle to make it look like an envelope. I love the high fives.Grant, Sierra, and Savannah are most certainly among my favorite tender mercies...

Friday, April 18, 2008

Picture Pages

Remember that Bill Cosby thing on TV--Picture Pages? I don't even remember what it's from, but every once in a while the music runs through my head and doesn't leave. At any rate, here are pictures from Lisa's weekend here.Indian food in Shirlington:
Dioubate, me, Lisa, Sheik, Kendall.
Did you know Africans eat their chicken bones?


Exorcist staircase in Georgetown.
Don't ask.That's just Lisa. I warned you.

Vietnam War Memorial. Kendall has this tour down pat, even to showing us the name of his mother's cousin, which I can never remember but I know there's a Z in there. He's the perfect tour guide. Plus he's funny. And hot. And great.

Here's Kendall with his handy-dandy poncho from Boy Scouts. It can double as a tarp, and it almost poked my eye out. At least I didn't lose him in the tourist crowd.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Nerds In Green

Not to be confused with Men in Black, I proudly present the Nerds in Green. Well, nerds except for the hotty bottom right.

Yesterday was the George Mason Victims Rights Run/Walk, and the Center for History and New Media proudly sponsored our team, with our spiffy M*A*S*H t-shirts. While only four of us braver ones ran, the rest walked (with rumors that they stopped for coffee and sandwiches along the route).

And I must say the run was lovely. I haven't really been running this semester... I've been tied up in books and papers and that sort of thing, so I usually just read while I'm on the elliptical or the bike at the gym. But running on real pavement in the sun and the breeze, wearing a lovely green t-shirt, now that's what I'm talking about. Of course I went home and promptly took a nap, which was also lovely.

My paper is calling... screaming, actually... must go...

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Lisa my Sweetsa

When we were little, my dad used to call my sister Lisa, "Lisa my Sweetsa." Lisa was feisty, funny, and always did her own thing. And we always had a good time. In this picture we are wearing our glamorous coats, sitting in a big red chair in Grandad & GranNomi's dining room. Ah--those were the days...

I haven't seen Lisa since last summer, although we talk on the phone quite a bit. She came to visit me this past weekend, and things have not changed. She lives in Colorado with a wonderful husband and three adorable, charming children, with one more on the way. She is still feisty, funny, and does her own thing. And I love her dearly. We ran around the Tidal Basin, she fell down the Exorcist staircase in Georgetown, shopped our little legs off, and Kendall took us on a tour of the National Cathedral, Embassy Row, and the monuments. Oh--and we ate. A lot. Lisa is pregnant and was so excited to eat ethnic food. So we had Indian food and African food, and of course chocolate milk and bagels and brownies and ice cream. A couple of times.

And as soon as she sends me pictures, I'll post them. I promise.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

I promise... it's true... elephants in the parking lot...

So this afternoon as I was pulling out of my parking spot at school, I came onto a little herd of elephants! It's true! Real live elephants!

Yes, it's that time of year. Every March and April the Barnum and Bailey Circus comes through Fairfax and camps out in the parking lot at the Patriot Center. I've actually been grumbling about it for the past two weeks. I just don't understand the logic of the George Mason Parking services who allow them to take up a huge chunk of parking lot the exact same time they close yet another parking lot to build some dorms. They figure it's ok to send students to park way far away practically at Dulles and shuttle them in to campus. I opt to go in early and hope for the luck of the park... which is exactly what happened this morning.

But suddenly the precarious parking situation is all ok when you suddenly come in contact with a whole chain of elephants and you just have to laugh at the sight of such wildlife in Fairfax, Virginia. What's next? A little car full of clowns? Lions and tigers and bears?

And yet another tender mercy... the other rainy day I came home out to my car and spotted the bright yellow envelope sitting on my windshield, when I remembered that I had forgotten to place my parking decal on the dash because I had been on the phone on my way in to work. Luckily it was just a warning... phew!

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Ah, the Virtues of Chocolate Shakes

When I was little, I lived next door to my grandparents. Any time I or my little sisters and brothers were sick in any way, my Grandad would bring over a chocolate milkshake from McDonald's and say it was what the doctor ordered. It was magical... that chocolate milkshake would soothe any ailment, from headaches to fevers to sore throats to colds to the flu.

The other day while out and about on Saturday errands, Kendall and I stopped for chocolate milkshakes at McDonald's. Again the magic happened almost instantaneously. Enter thick, cold, chocolate deliciousness, begone cares of the world.

And then there's the wonder of chocolate milk. Almost the same as a milkshake, but a level down on the hierarchy. It'll do in a pinch. I remember one summer working at the Church Archives in Salt Lake City on a very violent, depressing, bloody historical topic. That plus the fact that I had to wear nylons every day was excruciating (and boy, do I have stories about nylons!). Then my friend Jeff introduced me to a magical wonder in the vending machine outside the cafeteria--chocolate cookies and cream milk. I tell you, there's a difference between this and plain old chocolate milk, and it's really great. It would quench me on those long afternoons as I sweltered under the pressures of John D. Lee while wearing nylons in 100 degree-heat.

Today I found myself draining a very full glass of chocolate milk at lunch. It was delightful and completely satisfying. I say there is a tender mercy in chocolate milkshakes and chocolate milk. It's just what the doctor ordered. Or Grandad, for that matter.