The Mountains is Where My Soul Belongs

I am so happy to be living in the mountains again.  I get to wake up everyday to these majestic mountains rising above my house and it is so wonderful.

Yesterday we left on a trip into California, and for the first hour and a half of the drive we were just winding through the mountains and it was amazing.  If you have ever departed Reno on I-80 heading West then you have seen what I am referring to.

The whole time I was driving I kept saying how beautiful everything was and how amazing it all looked.  It has been 14 years since I lived in the mountains and it wasn’t until now that I realized how much my heart needs it.

In that time I lived in Vista, CA, Santee, CA, Austin, TX, Montgomery, AL, Pensacola, FL, Little Rock, AR, and Tokyo, Japan.  All of those places have great attributes and amazing people, but none of them speaks to my soul like the mountains do.  We all just have special places that we really connect with, and the mountains are that place for me.

It is nice to go on a little trip with my family, but I really can’t wait to just be home and get to exploring my new mountains.

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Finally Returning Home to Family

That’s right, after almost three months of waiting I am finally back home with my family.  It was a long and frustrating process, but I was blessed with people who did everything they could along the way to make it happen.

It was super hard lying to my wife and kids for the last week since I bought my ticket so that I could surprise them when I came home.  The wife did get a little suspicious when I didn’t answer my phone for 20 hours, but it was still a good surprise, as you can tell by the video.

They had already left for the drive-in movie by the time I got back so I had to go over there and surprise them instead of being at home which is why the video is not better.

It was fun spending the rest of the night with my kids just wanting to snuggle me and sit on me.  It has been a really lonely few months, but I am so glad it is finally over.  As luck would have it, the kids have all of next week off school so now we get a lot of family time before I go to work in a few weeks.

Life often doesn’t go the way that we planned, but it always seems to work out for the best in the end.

Sometimes You Need an Afternoon Nap

I know all adults say it, but kids just don’t appreciate how awesome it is to take naps.  I know I didn’t fully appreciate it until I was an adult.  Today was one of those rare days where I just said screw it and took a nap after lunch.

I actually read a book recently that talked about the value of taking a break for about half an hour everyday.  It doesn’t have to be a nap, it could be yoga or meditation or just relaxing with some music on.

The point is taking some time to let your body relax and recover to help you get through the rest of your day.  It doesn’t happen often but I was glad I got a good nap today.

Knowing a Second Language Will Change Your Perspective

There are really two dynamics to this topic that I feel are important.  The first is relevant to me personally and the second is a bit more mainstream.

I learned to read/write/speak Dutch while I was serving a two year mission in The Netherlands and Belgium.  It is not a very common language since those two countries and a few former Dutch colonies are the only places that speak it.  I actually like that though because it is fun to know something a little more special.

I was actually reminded of my time there tonight while reading my scriptures and I came across a verse I had memorized in Dutch 15 years ago.  It was fun to see how  close I could come with my translation based on what I remembered.

One of the biggest things I did to help with learning the language in the early days of my mission was to open the Book of Mormon in Dutch and English and go through it a verse at a time trying to compare word by word.

As you might imagine this was a slow process and even spending significant time everyday it took months to get through the book.  One of the amazing things about this process was the insights I gained into a book I had read multiple times before.

While I think it is most powerful in a religious book like that, there is potential value in any book.  As you go through the book the words that are chosen when translating may cause you to think about a phrase differently.  

For example, the word “van” in Dutch can mean both of and from depending on the context.  So when you translate the phrase “liefde van God” to English you could translate it as love of God, or love from God.  While similar in context in does paint a slightly different picture.

This is one small example though I think the point is clear of the value learning a second language can have.

The other, and arguably more valuable aspect of learning a second language, is the value that you can gain from learning about another culture.  The only way to really learn a language is to be amongst the people and be a part of their society.  When you do that you can’t help but learn about their culture and gain a respect for it, even if you don’t agree with all of it.

The amazing thing about learning about the Dutch culture is that it is a serious modern melting pot.  In my two years there I met people from over 100 different countries and it changed my view of the world.  There are so many amazing people all over the world with amazing stories that never get heard.

It is so important for us all to step out of our comfort zone and learn about other cultures.  As fun as it is to do that in other countries, there is no reason you can’t get started right at home because we all have plenty to learn about each other.

Donuts are Freaking Delicious

I really am a fat kid at heart, which really sucks as a military member because getting fat will ruin your career.  Oh yeah, and it isn’t good to be unhealthy either.

What I am really trying to say is that sometimes a donut just really hits the spot.  For better or worse, there is a little bakery in the building next to mine and it has been an unofficial tradition for me to go over there before every flight.  

Since I haven’t been flying much recently it has been quite some time since I actually got a donut.  So when I had a bit of free time this morning I decided I would walk over there and get one.  

To be clear these donuts are nothing special, though one cannot be too picky when you live in Japan.  But they are a good quality donut that just really hits the spot when you need one.

On a sidenote, my wife does not enjoy donuts but I still married her.  Proof that you can cross the aisle and work with someone even if they are insane enough to not like donuts.

Helpful People are so Wonderful

For those of you who have been in the military you are likely familiar with the helpfulness of personnelists.  Having served in two branches, and worked a lot with a third I am going to assume all four are the same.

For those of you who may not be familiar, the personnel office is often the least helpful office on an entire base.  They have extremely complex processes for things that should be simple.  They have unusual hours that always seem to involve being closed for training on the day you really need their help.  They are generally a major pain in the butt.

Now this is not a complaining blog so let me get to the point.  Over the last couple of days I have been blessed with some incredibly helpful people.  They have broken from their normal procedures to try and help me with my unique situation, and they deserve credit where it is due.
It still remains to be seen if I will actually get what I need taken care of in time, but I am grateful for the people who have done their part to be helpful.  It is not always a common occurrence these days, but it never goes unnoticed by me.

Music Can be so Powerful

At church today one of the teenage girls and her dad sang one of my favorite hymns.  It is entitled A Poor Wayfaring Man of  Grief  and it has an incredibly powerful message.  

First I should give credit where it is due because this girl had an angelic voice.  Her dad did well also but she brought me to tears.

This song is all about how the service we do for others is really just service for God.  Whether you are a religious person or not, we have all felt the blessings and good feelings that come with serving others.  

While much of the world is concerned with what celebrity is pregnant or what some politician is saying, there are thousands of volunteers all over Texas and Florida serving those who lost everything.  They are the people we should care about and support, and they are also the people that will never look for that attention.

While the beauty and power of this song touched me deeply today, the message it shared is an even more important reminder of where my focus should be in life.