Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Running Away from Floods Part 2: Sunday Morning

More from my journal:

September 18, 2013 12:58 am

Sunday morning came too soon. Saturday night more kids went to bed closer to on time. Tim tried to sleep. I got all the kids in bed by midnight-ish. Then I check on Longmont—lots of heartbreaking flood videos. My own tears started to echo them, especially when I saw people posting on facebook that they hadn't heard from parents, that grandparents homes were gone, that every single road to the west side of Boulder County is gone (and the roadbed is gone, and the ledge the road was built on is where do you rebuild?!). I cried a lot and felt so helpless and awed and confused and just so sad.

But not sleepy. So I wrote in my journal, and had a shower, and at 3:00 am put myself to bed. And lay there wide awake until 5:00 am. Alas—sleep disorders don't care if you have to wake up in the morning.
But I had to wake up in the morning, so when the alarm rang at 9:00 am, I got up. I got myself and all the kids ready for church, packed everything in the hotel room up so we could check out, and was just starting to haul stuff out when Tim got back. He had had to sing at a worship service as part of his contract for the tour, so he finished that and rushed back to get us to church.

No time to pack the van if we wanted to get the sacrament, so we left our stuff in the room and loaded the kids into the van. The church, it turned out, was about a mile from the hotel, and easy enough to find. We made it, coughing and wheezing, just in time for sacrament meeting. Which we coughed through. I was mortified.

Half way through the first talk, Tim turned to me and whispered, “We have to be out of the hotel in half an hour.” So I stayed in sacrament meeting with the little kids, and Tim took the four big kids to get the stuff out of the hotel room and check out.

Pause in the narrative to describe this situation a little better. We arrived at the church building and were startled to find it was a mini. Tiny little building with a tiny little parking lot. We walked in and it was a tiny little branch of the church with about 30 members there. Two or three families with kids, some couples...I saw lots of pants on women, T-shirts on women. The man blessing the sacrament was dressed in his finest—long (ankle-length) black duster coat, fancy black brocade cowboy vest, custom-made silver-and-leather bolo tie, fancy striped black button-up shirt. No hat, of course. He later told us he lived up there in the panhandle of Nebraska because he found a house for sale there on an acre for $9000. Good house, too, and the seller traded them their mustang for her house. Classic car for a house on an acre with no house payments ever sounds like a good trade to me!

 It was a tiny branch of the church, but it was totally full of Saints. The Spirit in the sacrament meeting was so, so strong. The first speaker gave a talk on President Benson's talk on pride, and everyone listened (and I know this because all the subsequent lessons and talks referred back to the first talk). Then the high councilman spoke and he was plain-spoken, straightforward, gospel-centered. He talked to the people, and they understood, and there was no pretension, no Carefully-Crafted talk intended to make people laugh and impress them. No stories about Sports (all our Longmont High Councilmen seem to be pining for the good-ole-days when they were star high school's always disappointing when our High Councilmen come speak because their talks always seem short on gospel and long on peripheral stuff--this Nebraska talk was the opposite). He preached the gospel, exhorted the people to do righteously and live obedient to the commandments. The Spirit in that meeting was AMAZING. Something I've missed and been hungry for.

So, after sacrament meeting, Tim came back with the kids and said we were checked out of the hotel, and he had to get back to the Willow Tree Festival to perform. I said, “I need to stay with the Saints and be here. When is your show done?” He said he'd be done by one o'clock, so I had him send the kids back out of the van to join me, and we told him to come back for us after his show. We had to sit somewhere, and I'd rather sit in the church with the Saints than in a park festival, no matter how nice the festival was.

There were only a few kids in the primary, so they usually have two classes: junior primary and senior primary. The guy who blessed the sacrament teaches senior primary, and this awesome lady who wore a Mickey Mouse sweatshirt with her skirt to church taught the junior primary. They were both unassuming people, faithful and kind and generous and I was so impressed with them both, even as they tried to figure out how to double the size of their primary to accommodate all my kids. They joined the two classes and had them together (we in Longmont are so blessed that we have enough kids to have two primaries—junior and senior—to teach kids on their own levels. I cannot comprehend why my ward insists on doing it as one when we don't have to!).

 Benji refused to go to primary, and so did Elijah, so we sat in the hall. Caleb joined the 7 other teens in the youth program, and he had fun. And I was so thrilled when I checked on everyone that, unlike the children in town who had been so mean to the kids, the branch kids were having a great time and had accepted my children and made friends with them. It was cool. (I found out later that the kids who had made friends with my kids are also homeschoolers—I guess homeschoolers have their own culture, and they attract each other!)

So, sitting in the hall, we had the chance to talk to everyone in the branch. They were ALL amazing people. They were truly concerned about the situation with the flooding back home, and were kind and thoughtful and really sincerely interested in applying the gospel to their lives more fully, even though it seemed to me that they had completely embedded it in their lives already. I spent a lot of time talking to the high councilman's wife, Linda Wiseman (?) as she held another member's baby so she could run the primary. She knows bunches of members who work at the college in a nearby town, and thought she could get the college to bring Tim in to perform. I guess the rural areas are starving for entertainment because usually nobody will come out to them. Anyway, Linda told me success stories of homeschooling 2 of her 7 children, and how thrilled she has been that the homeschooled kids know how to learn and have curiosity and an ability to teach themselves, and the "college educated kids" really can't learn unless someone tells them both what and how. She's a big fan of homeschooling as a result.

After the meeting block, the members pulled out food. I guess they were having a potluck dinner, and they invited us to join them. I tried to decline—feeding 9 extra people who you hadn't planned on and who couldn't add anything to the feast is unfair—but they insisted and also insisted that we eat first. It was amazingly yummy food, and a huge blessing. So we stayed and hung out with the Saints there for as long as we could—until Tim had to get back to the festival for his final show.

It was balm to my soul to be with the Saints of God. My favorite part of touring is meeting the amazing people in the church all over the world. These Saints were especially wonderful with my kids. They were baffled as to why I would apologize for the kids' behavior, even when they got their feet on the table during dinner. "Kids! They're just kids. What's the problem?" They were so happy to have us there that nobody insisted Benji fit in or Nathie be quiet. They just accepted us and loved us as we are. Too bad that seems to be so hard in big wards. For all their advantages, they never seem hungry to have people there, and that's sad. I would have stayed all day.

But then we had to leave.

Back to the festival, we watched Tim's show. The final performance was MUCH better than the first I had watched. After the first, I had begun to wonder if we didn't need to kill the group (not the members, just the group as a performing entity) because it was so rough. But the last performance was fun and energetic and worthwhile. I enjoyed it and was relieved.

Then we wandered the festival while Tim was cleaning up. We found a booth where they were selling bracelets for a quarter—nice glass bead bracelets—so I bought one for each kid. The old cowboy running the booth sure thought it was peculiar that my boys each wanted a bracelet, too, after I bought one for Anda. I also bought them little hand-made wooden cars he was selling for 50 cents each. And, after Tim got all loaded out, we discovered we couldn't find the directions I had printed to get us to our next destination. (Of course we found them later—when we started unloading the van when we got home!).

So that necessitated us finding the WalMart in Chadron, the next town over, to buy an atlas. I was unhappy that we had to buy something on Sunday. Tim pointed out that we didn't have enough food for camping that night, either, so he took care of that while I got people out of their Sunday clothes.

I left Benji's Sunday pants on him. He found little snags in this pants and started pulling and actually pulled the threads out of the weave until there was a lovely, perfectly rectangular hole in the knee of his Sunday pants. He sure finds creative ways to ruin his clothes. I've never had a kid unmake clothes like that before, by unweaving the fabric!

Then we were off and driving through Nebraska, looking for South Dakota.

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