Thursday, July 16, 2015

Brushes with Angels Unawares

Friends and loved ones often greet us along our path in unexpected ways. 
When I was four years old, our family moved to the East Coast.  
with regular trips west to remember grandparents, cousins,  sagebrush and steeples.


     The president for our Massachusetts Boston mission 
My brother David and my dad went to father and sons outings held at the Joseph Smith birthplace monument in Sharon, Vermont.

They would laugh and share the fun of egg throwing contests.  (Try to see how far apart you and a teammate can stand to gently toss and catch a raw egg. Elements of a good time--suspense, challenge, and food!)

  What impressed me about Dad's commentary is that Elder Packer's boys were a little rowdy, which has validated my twenty plus years of having normal children!
Here, we are, in the same era with our cousins, illustrating

that even in respectable families, children offer varying degrees of respect
 I remember as a Primary girl serving at a luncheon  
to help wait tables for stake president of the Boston Stake, 
Elder L. Tom Perry              

 Years later, on a Saturday night, in my pajamas, 

I opened the door to find friends who produced a pillow case blindfold with which they promptly "kidnapped" me after which they mysteriously drove me "captive" to the house where one of our classmates had been living temporarily in our stake president's home.  Seated on the floor, pajamas and all, the blindfold was removed and I found myself at the feet of our visiting apostle Elder Perry,  who, planning to visit our stake conference the next day, took time to entertain a handful of teenagers.  
Imagine sitting at the feet of a prophet in your pajamas! 
 It gives depth to the words, no man knoweth the day nor the hour.

In New Hampshire, Wyoming, North Dakota, and Washington State, while other neighborhood youths did all they could think of to differentiate themselves from their parents in eyebrow raising ways, our mutual youth groups were busy with things to help ready us to be remarkable parents someday--practicing  musicals and road shows, lending a hand in service projects, pushing forward building funds for yet to be built chapels.

In mid seventies, each branch and ward contributed a designated portion of resources to build chapels.  For seven years we sold elephant ears (scones) at fairs, held bazaars, sold fire extinguishers and even had a luau in a hurricane.  The funds were small, but grew steadily and after 7 years, and a bumper crop of corn on the church land, a chapel was erected and the members rejoiced!

Church activities, however, were subsidiary to family functions.  And our family simply grew larger as our branch friends worked together, knit together in what we had to do.

Interspersed with ward activities, were visits west to see grandparents--road trips, long talks, C. S. Lewis one volume for each book of the Book of Mormon, camping, dancing, singing, again thread woven together with serving, growing.

We were protected, animated, safe, and happy--touched by friends and choices which resonate interest and joy decades later.

Evidence shows that good friends and "time to serve" leads to further serving!
(Even with a crooked tag)

Creativity passes to new generations, and grandchildren grew to LOVE making plays.  It may have been a chip off the old block from Aunt Carma's 5 cent admission to "Ugly Mugly Itchy Witchy!: 

  "What is your motivation?"...
Our president's wife, Sister Curtiss brings Snickers bars
to invite Elders and Sisters to tell what drives them.

For some, it is service; others something inside that just has to shine!
Admiration of others,  wish to emulate someone exemplary

 Approval of leaders or parents

gifts or physical tokens of progress

Compañerismo (companionship)

Love of the Lord

"What desirest thou?" is the Savior's query to disciples in both New World and Old. 
My motivation=music. 
"Sing a New Song," a choral number prepared and presented by my brother and sister in their early teen years danced back forty years later, with floral dresses dripping in rain,
A few words to the song that whispered through the rain drops to my surprise brought up a post from a happy friend of high school days.  
 She, too, had sung the new song, loved it, and posted the words with whisps of Empey apple orchards, aspargus fields, and eastern Washington sunsets. 

Like twins calling each other up and finding out that both are wearing brown slacks and a white blouse, kinships transcend mountains, borders, age and internet.  
Have you felt to sing a song of redeeming love?  
Do you feel so now? 

In my mid-teens, 
Elder Packer and Elder Monson 
worked in a group to prepare new indexed scriptures.

 Image result for new lds scriptures 1982
In noting the passing and lives of both Elder Perry and Elder Packer, one of our MTC friends sent her response as a young adult to Elder Packer's description of his witness that God lives.  I cannot describe it to you, just like to you cannot describe what salt tastes like to me.  But I have tasted it, and I do know.  His manner of teaching was direct, clear, and reflected his love for youth was exhibited in his choice to direct seminaries and institutes.  Reviewing the Deseret News are 24 quotes with links to some of his most loved talks.  My favorite of late came in the dictum:  The end of all activity in the Church is to see that a man and a woman with their children are happy at home, sealed for eternity.  As I watched and have relistened to President Packer struggle with speaking,  I remembered traveling to and fro to speech therapy with a father wrestling a condition akin to Parkinson's as he prepared an important final seminar. 

As I review the text of President Packer's final discourse, my heart offers a personal standing ovation to a remarkable man, just as a roomful of scholars did for Dad--peering past delivery of words to applaud and recognize a focused teacher with potent messages--masterful rich symphonies of crescendos, decrescendos--wonderful, harmonious truth.

Saturday, the Fourth, we woke to the birthday of a country. If you can't celebrate with fireworks, surely something could add to the spirit of the day

(besides apple pie for one of the four Elder W's--this one born on Independence Day!)

perhaps a red blazer and a blue tee to complement my white skirt on a visit to Baja Verapaz, our weekend membership leadership support assignment. One problem with the white skirt.  Due to its new pocket, and a black bic pen inside...half of the white clothing in the house had a dangerous dance in the dryer, from which we are still recovering. Toting home fingernail polish remover and hunting a Magic Eraser with which to caress the dryer, my wanderings over one way streets crossed one bump too many.  Maneuvering a graveled path I looked up to find a tree in the middle of our driveway (marking a drain leak in the street that day.) I sniffed and looked back to find a biohazard of acetone I would need to account for to a highly chemical-sensitive spouse. Concluding I had hit my last straw, I looked up to find an approaching neighbor asking if I needed help. 
"...When our hearts were depressed, and we were about to turn back, behold, the Lord comforted us, and said: Go amongst thy brethren...and bear with patience thine afflictions, and I will give unto you success."  (Alma 26:27)

It reminded me of a 2003 visit to New York City,

 when a bystander on the subway personally walked us to Time Square to help us, with just five minutes to spare, squeeze into balcony seats and experience "Beauty and the Beast."  The wonderous part came when amidst myriads of passersby, the same bearded man approached us on our way home several hours later.  Holding subway posts, he looked up to ask, "How was the play?  

Smiles resurface.  

A neighbor later asked me, "Was he an angel?"

Here is my answer: "Yes!"

This month, I chanced across a message from a sister in our last mission, who, on one weekly excursion from her residence in Honduras's original capital, expressed discouragement at ever meeting or finding an eligible spouse with similar values or faith.  She declared over lunch a decision to abandon her vow to choose carefully.  Why not just date the cute ones who were interested?  "Someone at work is asking me out.  I guess it doesn't make so much difference that he is not of my faith."  Knowing all I could do was to put her name and her not-yet-a-member future date's names on the temple prayer roll, I told her I would.  Shortly thereafter, before I saw her next, a returned missionary young man she knew requested her to date him.  Other prospects were left behind and recently I viewed pictures of her first anniversary. 

Touching on anniversaries, Elder Starkey and his sweetheart are 2 missionaries on mission number 2, to make "22!"

(How do you like the math?)

(Message to all who would be Starkeys-- the cake is really what it looks like, and Dad ate some!)

I sometimes wonder what life would be like if the man with the hat had not waltzed into our lives 23 years ago?

Just a few shots to wander down memory lane...
Our neighbor Pat saw pictures and decided we were married in castle. 
Well, sort of, but better.
We learned in Honduras, that God teaches in his holy house what it takes to become a Child of Christ  (true royalty.)  Marriage is the university course, in which fitting tests are designed and administered regularly.

( Our missionary meetings begin reciting D&C 4.  The Spanish translation of verse 5 translates more to working together unitedly.  A goal for "22" is to reach the "single eye" in efforts to see eye to eye!)

We are finding that the more we reach to keep promises to lift others, the more our pathways become dotted randomly (like our present whites) with angels unaware.

As we look ahead to reunions and raspberries, we are thankful for fans to dry out a Rav4,  for times when a diligent missionary might opened four windows to dry out the car and a storm sneaks in when we we are not looking.  

[Knock knock.  Who's there?  Dwain.  Dwain who? (Glub, glub) "Dwain the bathtub, I'm dwowning!"]
We appreciate extension cords, white noise and a garaged car to join the hanging whites.  Like dancing doll dresses, we can bend our heads in the rain. 

And thank you for being our angels unaware.  (Hebrews 13:2)
We await a fast-forward year to see "Big Fig Newton" moments
(The "Fig Newton" tradition, above, comes from myYW camp counselor--simple family signatures for having fun--like Starkey thumb wrestling or paper, scissors rock!)

 and other joys, time in Paris 
with shindigs visiting family and dear ones.  Glad to belong to you!
Love, Elder and Sister Starkey

1 comment:

  1. Looks like a lot is happening. We hope the work is going well. We love you and hope you know pray for you too.