Monday, March 7, 2016

Zucchini to Durini

Up in the night, thinking of journaling, but distracted by children's and their friends' posts, I found a 2016 Rootstech conference featuring a previous governor of Utah who had some interesting ideas.  Like another famous Utahn known for counting his steps, Governer Leavitt counted stories, making a race for himself to fill a page with 100 titles of stories his past including a fire in the governor's mansion, hosting the Olympics in his state, and being instrumental to introduce a first woman governor to Utah.

After filling in the blanks to the keywords that he had penned, he heard his grandchildren's favorite bedtime stories were stories of Grandpa. 

Recently my Uncle Laurence shared a fun "bombs away" window weight memory, coupled with pages of photos I don't remember seeing of my dad.  "Don't worry about the 20 pages before--just look at the pictures,"  I forwarded them to our grandchildren.

Stories carry power.  As a family literature professor in the family teaches, when we write about an experience, it becomes our own.  David Isay of Story Corps (also Rootstech guest) lauds Century XXI youth and users of social media for being experts.  What are they doing?  They are documenting stories with pictures, commentary, and connections.
Tens of thousands of participants were invited to indicate by phone which of the governor's stories they wanted to hear. 

Similarly I will share a recent story and you are invited to vote at the end--or at the beginning, which most you would like to hear!)
Today's three titles:  
Getting and Keeping the Nurse
Zucchini to Durini
Close to the Cliff

Since you are not here to vote, I will begin with
Zucchini to Durini.

Sunday last, winding down from our trip to Baja Verapaz, my recipe thirst began racing and my apron got a hankering to meet missionaries visiting our office for preparation day with something smelling good. 

Monday is a day, that if the "dos balde" 
or two bucket water system that missionaries use in the mountains, 

rather than using the river water.

When it fails to filter out the impurities, missionaries take a four to six hour ride in a 10 to 12 passenger van [what Becca in Romania called a maxi taxi] down through the rutted and gullied roads  
from their often candlelit homes in the Polochik 
This was an egg and pasta dinner, one first night in Teleman,
by the Polochik river
to receive laboratory tests or medicine not available in the mountains.

Credits to Elders Hullinger and
Anderson for sharing their mountain
 pictures of Polochik and Peten--this is
Elder H's bee sting--bites and parasites--
sometimes reasons for a long ride!

 Some Mondays include missionaries preparing to leave the mission.  On Concilio Monday (usually the first week of the month) a similar sized bus carries zone leaders and sister training leaders from the warmer touristy northern area of Tikal, bordering Mexico,  more from the eastern mountains, and more still from a sunny valley to the south, where Starkeys frequent most weekends. 

Missionaries coming.  Time to bake.  But there are children to phone, a letter to assemble, bags to unpack, and dishes calling.   In the eight phone attempts, we found a few home! 

Spencer sang his "Green Grass Grew" again.  We laughed with Amber over sledding with Toby up and down sand slopes until he came home to drop without a whimper on the hard tile.  We hailed a quick "hello" to a BYU almost-engineer recovering from mailing in an extensive write-up of managing and creating her third concrete canoe to race in Colorado in a month.  We reviewed the feeling of "finishing something" --with a bang or a whimper-- remembering the Saturday visit we had just had with a sweet little family in Salama preparing to attend and be sealed in the temple soon--a lesson from February's Primary sharing time, coloring pictures of the earth's creation...noting that every day ended with a pronouncement, "It was good.  It was good.  It was very very good!"  And here is our goal--we are working to finish each day with this same comment!

William, Savanna, Kevin, Becca; their parents, auntie, and great grandmother told us of their Wednesday adventure walking up and down winding stairways to a renovated burnt tabernacle in Provo City that will shortly be dedicated.  Five year old William recounted to his great aunt Arlene, what the temple is all about.  He had seen a room with murals of beautiful trees and flowers, where missionaries and moms and dads learn about the Creation.  Wandering the halls, his grandma took the hand of Savanna, who in Brigham City just three years ago woke from her sleep to coo her way through rooms of paintings of pioneer peach trees and the peaceful permanence of walking though a place that echoes heaven. 

Pouncing upon great grandma's children's library, upon crashing at home, William claimed another colorful story about Adam and Eve and the Creation, begging to bring it home. Kristen and Amber send each other uplifting things to read and hear.  One of their favorites is Dieter F. Uchtdorf speaking to sisters about being creative--this we can do every day...something exalting...what if we try it! 

Phone calls fizzling, Elder Starkey stuck his head out to make his weekly Sunday afternoon walk.  I peeped my head out too, but not very far.  (Having a dozen bags on the landing can be disconcerting.)  Across the narrow paved road between our homes, on the sidewalk next to our bishop's house, huddled his helper Berta 
in her corte, the home-weaved tapestry-like simple skirt  topped by white wimpil or simple blouse worn by women in families of Mayan descent, especially in the mountainous regions. 

  I met Berta around Christmas, shivering on my own doorstep in the rain and cold, wondering if there was room on my couch to rest, while Bishop Lopez's little family visited a grandmother across town for a few hours. 

Berta earlier had slept on my couch.  But this time it was not as cold.  My husband was inclined to drive to the office to finish a few things for President.  Hmmmm...well, the house was a mess, a sink pretty full.  But there again was our friend Berta, shivering.  I like cooking in clean, but there was zucchini wilting in the fridge, a hastily scratched recipe pinned with magnet to the side...and the last bit of Allina's real vanilla waiting.  "Relajo o no" (mess or not) we had an hour or so until dark.  What would YOU do? 

Berta giggled and glowed as we cracked the eggs and she taught me Quechi for "I make bread--"  "Laa'in ninyiiB' li Kaxlan Wa!"  Berta, youngest of four, has only one family member with a cell phone.  Sunday can be a day to call him, but her brother did not answer.  Berta rarely travels home, as it requires hours and hours of bus travel.  Together we grated apples and green, mixed flours and leavening and lifted spoon after spoon into small and smaller loafs to expand and congeal in the pretty new oven. 

As the muffin tins began to beckon with aroma, Mario knocked.  
"We're home!"  

Berta giggled again--she does that.  Twenty five, the age of one of our daughters, she emanates the aura of a child.  (Is this what President meant when he taught us from 3 Nephi that Christ's doctrine is to repent and become as a child?)  Our suitcases eventually made their way to the closet room.  The pianos got pushed under the stairs into our  "Harry Potter" staircase stash.  Dishes stacked themselves steadily, slowly into their place.  But the moment had been captured.  I was a stranger (shivering alone) and you took me in. 

And then, there was the bread.  Unfortunately for the missionaries, fortunately for our neighbors, we hit Monday running (meeting to attend, mission history to organize, visiting friens to greet, language letter fling out, and another apartment to chase.)  End of the day, leaving the office, I still had a bag full of loaves.  No fishes.  But eight families of vecinos or neighbors we hoped to reconnect with.  Every slice of a triple batch was shared.  What was shared back is the miracle.  And as the cock is crowing, I will share only three. 

Number one.  We visited Estela.  We met Estela bringing sister missionaries to meet our friend Zulma around the corner.  Zulma cuts hair.  Estela moved from the capital with her daughter last winter.  She is 79 and encourages all the neighbors to walk in the bosque or wooded park.  It has been a trick to catch up to Estela--she is better than me...raising her arms and ssssttretching as she goes.  She also is well dressed and I brought her a photo of our clothing exchange after she taught the sister missionaries how to choose simple colors for skirts and complement them with prints of every hue.  Estela fell on the street this past November, fracturing her spine.   When we asked her if she had experienced any blessings lately, she lit up, explaining that with her xrays, the doctors had given a poor prognosis with a broken spine.  She was now walking again, chipper. 

She also beamed at the mention of Sister Riley, who shared one of her stories of coming to Guatemala, making a difficult decision to accept the call, when she had other attractive things calling her attention.  Her father, studying and praying of how to counsel his daughter, envisioned in his mind's eye a sister missionary teaching a little Latin family.  Sister Riley completed her papers and was called to Guatemala, the homeland of her mother, and dreamed of finding relatives--when she met Estela, they learned they were cousins. 

Number two.  Zucchini to Durini.  Our friend Zulma Reyes Durini told me about a job offer that her husband had been hoping to receive.  Juan, an agronomist inventor of natural pesticides and propagator of nutritious plants such as malanga, for the families harvesting the hillsides with undernourished children received training at Oxford in risk management.  Though his skill set is remarkable; the job selection has been limited.  Hearing of our friends wrestling a decision of separating each week while Juan Manuel traveled to aldeas or villages to manage and train, Elder Starkey felt impressed to encourage our friends to pray and put their marriage first.  This they did.  Even after months of with marginal income, Juan turned down the offer. 

The company, realizing what they might be losing, returned with a different offer of a position where Juan Manuel can work from his home and travel just once every month or second month.  "Seek ye first...and all things shall be added" washes in like the under tide.  It's true!

Fabiola and Grandpa de Leon
Number three.  The third loaf went to Fabiola, mom in the family de Leon, who we met in the park. 

Their dog, Boster

 The dad,visited our home soon after to request a Book of Mormon.  When we talked with them, there was something he could feel that reminded him of when he knew missionaries 20 years ago, and was baptized while working as a peacekeeper for the United Nations, with a sitation ever-changing, making it difficult to be active in any church.

Our families have grown to be friends;  Fabiola's daughter Sarai played in Coban's December recital and we love them!  Walking past boxes on their landing, Fabiola asked, "Guess what?!" 

I could not guess.  

This week, they will be moving next door to us!  

Fabiola brought me to see her children in bed, nursing colds with ginger tea.  Another miracle in her family is that one of her family members, who received a diagnosis of leukemia, is now working for the mayor, and was out of the country on business.  Not a hundred percent well, but more healthy busy than in bed.  I told her about losing one of my planners, feeling super stressed.  I had looked.  Everywhere.  On the way to sleep that night, I had read the scriptures.  So happy to be trudging my way a sixth time in Spanish through the words of Isaiah penned by Nephi, and praying, praying to have a little faith.  I felt nourished by the 'pleasing word' of Christ"  where distress is drowned with something like "trust," and an underlying tone creeps into my heart, "All will be well."

Well, the agenda was hiding under one of the seats in the car.  And all will be well.  But even when the dishes are still in the sink, and bread burns, and I forget to give it to the missionaries, and the nurse and her companion are still homeless, "All will be well."

So, that is why, maybe, that we can keep reading, and writing, and asking friends and neighbors if they have had blessings or miracles in their day...

So, perhaps we can say, "It was good, it was good, it was very very good!

And that is the end of that story: 

We still have more stories brewing on the brainstorm page:  "Close to the Cliff" and "Getting and Keeping the Nurse." 

You can vote which you'd like to hear next!  

In the meantime, let's hear, what kind of aromas are you finding and creating in delivering YOUR bread?  
More later!  

                  Love from the Starkey panaderia


  1. Loved reading about these events....your zucchini loaf looks delicious.

  2. One more thing; what you say about writing the stories is so true; if you can write them, you OWN them. So many little miracles like this tend to be forgotten over the years, so it's good to write them down.....for oursleves and posterity. I love that you do this.

  3. Laurene:
    we enjoy these letters of yours so much. thanks for taking the time to write and construct them.
    John and Aloma