Monday, June 29, 2009

Michael Jackson is DEAD?!?

This evening I was checking my facebook (I've spent the whole day in bed with the 'flu and I'm going out of my mind) and saw an invitation to a Michael Jackson memorial party. I was a little confused. Was there some kind of anniversary- 20 years ago this week that the video for "Thriller" was released? Maybe the exuberant YSA of Calgary just felt the need to throw a party and this was the best theme they could come up with? After a few more subtle hints (including an ad for the Michael Jackson Estate Sale), I figured that a google search was in order. First I tastefully typed in plain old "Michael Jackson" and came up with a few more tantalizing hints. Then I threw tact to the wind and did a search for "Michael Jackson Death" and came up with much more promising results. The beauty of the story? He's been dead for 5 days and I didn't even know. Ahh, the beauty of disconnectedness.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Shuffled Around

Today my Sunday School Class was a bit of an adventure. It started when I walked out of Relief Society (we have our meeting block backwards) and ran into an acquaintance who served a mission in the Ukraine. After the standard, "We miss our missions! How are you adjusting?" talk, I told her that I needed to go get ready for my class. Upon hearing that I taught mission prep, she immediately said, "I'm coming! Can I tell you that you have my Dream Calling?" and so we headed off together to the room where mission prep has taken place the majority of the time that I've been the teacher. I say the majority of the time because we get shuffled around a lot. During 6 weeks in this calling, the class has taken place in no less than 3 separate rooms around the institute building. After arriving in aforementioned room, someone arrives and tells me that I don't get that room today. So I walk through the halls, eventually locating our Sunday School President. He doesn't know where I'm supposed to be, either, but suggests the gym and tells me that the first counsellor in the bishopric knows for sure. Unfortunately, he's not in town today. 
I start setting up in the gym when I turn around and realize that the crowd in front of me is all unfamiliar and looks suspiciously large for mission prep. They inform me that they are here for Gospel Doctrine. Hmmmm. Now I've got a problem. I have no classroom and the lesson should be starting... well, a minute or two ago. I lifted my eyes to the sky and wished that my co-teacher, Scott, were here. He knows where the class is supposed to be held!
Finally, I go back to the original classroom and discover that it is completely empty and I can use it after all. I start setting up, but by this time, my usual class has all apparently given up in frustration and gone to Gospel Doctrine. I'm left teaching a class of two returned missionaries and a curious onlooker, who wandered in from the hall.
Once we got past all the rigmarole, however, it was really a wonderful lesson. The comments were insightful and I found myself wishing that we had a few more post-mission students in the class regularly. I may just get my wish, though- the Sister who served in Ukraine made the observation that although she can't teach her dream class, she can still attend it!

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

The Daddy Dilemma

As is indicated in the previous post, yes, I still call my Father "Daddy". This has made me occasionally the brunt of jokes since Junior High, when the cool thing to call your dad was more along the lines of "that dude who cramps my style" or "(insert first name here) who doesn't understand me". 
On my mission, I recall riding in the mission van with the assistants and office elders on Mother's Day at the appointed time for the call form my parents. Right on schedule, our cell phone rang and the screen lit up with "unidentified caller". I quickly pressed the answer button and shrieked, "DADDY?!?" After asking him to call back in a few minutes when we were at the mission home, I hung up to a silent van. After five seconds Elder Deru asked semi-incredulously, "Daddy? Really, Sister Redd? How old are you?"
In my defense, the family tradition of us daughters using the term Daddy has a long and storied tradition going back to the early childhood days of Standin' Tall story tapes (a staple of every 80s Mormon childhood) and an unhappy princess who wandered the halls of her palace calling, "Daa-ddy! King Daa-ddy! Where aaare you?" We thought it was hilarious and often referred to our Daddy as "King Daa-ddy".
So what if I am, as the Elders teased, a "Daddy's girl"? I like it , and I love my Daddy. Yes, maybe sometimes when he's absorbed in a book I may have to call him Jim to get his attention, but he'll always be my Daddy.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Happy Father's Day!

Well, Father's Day posts seem to be the norm right now, so I thought I'd join the gang. I recently had great experiences with all my paternal figures that deserve a tribute. 
First of all, my Daddy. From geocaching to long bicycle rides to shopping trips (anywhere from the Chinese market to the purse extravaganza that is Marimekko) my Daddy is alwasy there for me and I love the time we spend together. I loved it when he came to pick me up in Finland- I remember seeing him and Mummy coming out of the hotel where the Assistants were dropping me off and as I ran to give mum a hug, the first thing my Daddy did was take a lovely snapshot to preserve the memory forever. It's probably the least flattering photo ever taken of me, but it's the thought that counts, right?
My Grandpas also have a special place in my heart. Today I got to go on a walk with Grandpa Young around Bowness Park and it reminded me of all the times as a kid when he would drive us to school and back- sometimes we'd stop at the park on our way home or he might even take us to Lic's if we were really good. I also loved camping trips with Grandpa and Grannie out to Banff. My Grandpa Redd is the master of networking. He knows everyone and loves them all, too. Case in point: when we visited him at the hospital on Saturday, our ride back to Calgary came in to pick us up. Upon learning the boy's name, Grandpa immediately asked about his parents and passed on his love and greeting to them. I'm always amazed by how many people that  meet love and respect my Grandpa.
Here's to my Daddy and my Grandpas. You've raised the bar for all prospective suitors.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Locked Out

As I'm going through pictures and movies from my mission in preparation for the slide show that I've been promising Daddy for two months, I've had a riot seeing them and remembering those amazing 18 months. One of them, I think, deserves a blog. Deserves to be seen. 
Those of you who attended either of my homecoming talks heard the story of being locked out of our apartment. Well, to be honest, that happened several times. In fact, I think that the best ones should receive some exposure before I share the one that has a matching video. Please keep in mind that this is by no means an exhaustive list of all the times that I was locked out of places on my mission... only the highlights.

Episode 1: A Dark and Stormy Night
My trainer and I were out contacting one Saturday afternoon. We were headed home for dinner and on the way, we stopped to buy some ice cream that we were bringing as dessert to dinner with one of our investigators the following day. As we walked up to our apartment building, both of us realized that neither one of us had grabbed the keys from the hook beside the door and we were locked out. Fortunately, the assistants had a spare key. Unfortunately, they wouldn't be able to make it for another hour. Despite the wintry weather (it was only March) the ice cream was starting to melt and we were stranded on the steps outside. After we finally got in and had dinner, the day continued to be... shall we say, interesting? We talked to a young man named Stefan on the train and followed him all the way out to Luoma (Boback), a stop literally in the middle of nowhere, to get his number so that we could meet with him again. As we got out in Luoma at 9:10, we realized that the next train would not come until 10:15, forcing us to miss our 9:30 curfew. A quick call to our Zone Leaders got us a ride home, but not before we got some fun pictures.

Episode 2: Abandoned... and Tracting
Fast-forward to the end of April, when, due to emergency circumstances, I am in a foursome. Sisters Nelson and Neilsen have taken the two train passes that we have to the mission office, where they are going to be all evening, working on some projects for our mission president. That leaves Sister Murphy and I, the two greenies, with the opportunity to do some tracting within walking distance of the apartment. After about 6 straight hours of mental strain to understand what people are saying to us, we head back to the apartment, hoping that the other sisters are already there, as they have our one and only key. Well, they're still at the office. And probably for a long time- their project needs to be done now, if not yesterday, and they've got permission to stay out late. The Assistants will drive them home. Which leaves us... well, out on the steps, unless we can get in through the porch. Good thing we live only on the first floor above the ground. And lucky that a) I'm six feet tall b) Sister Murphy is small, light, and agile and c) I've been working out.

Episode 2b: A Climbing Challenge
A short time after the aforementioned incident, our now threesome finds ourselves locked out again and forced to go in through the porch. This time, though, we took pictures. And decided that we don't want the assistants to know every time we lock ourselves out, so we ask for our spare key. Now we each have a key, and we surely won't both forget it- right?

Episode 3: A Series of Unfortunate Events... or Encounters
With my new companion, Sister Johnson, I believe that we went a whole three weeks without getting locked out. This lucky streak ended with our first official encounter with "The Tea Man". Just as we leave our apartment, we realize that we have no key. As we try to figure out the possibilities (our porch door is locked this time, but Sister Johnson is taller than Sister Murphy and may be able to reach the open bedroom window if she stands on my shoulders), an upstairs neighbour wanders down- we've seen him before, but never had an opportunity to talk. He's an older man with a long, graying, red beard. And he dresses head to toe in baggy khaki clothes. After giving us some advice, he asks us a strange question, "Are you friends to tea?" (it makes more sense in Finnish, I promise!) He then proceeds to tell us that he he collects herbs out in the woods and makes his own "special tea" and sells it for €6 a bag. Um, thanks, but no thanks. From now on, every time we meet the tea man, it's a sure sign to us that we're locked out of our apartment. He knows, uncannily, when to show up and try to sell us tea when we're breaking into our apartment. It was during these episodes that we gave a spare key back to the Elders, this time, the ones that live two blocks away.

Episode 4: The Mother of Them All
This brings us to the original event that gave cause for a blog: the lock-out that occurred right before Christmas. Since a picture is worth a thousand words, I figure that the movie does this account greater justice than I could.

The dang movie is not working. I've tried a million times. Any tips?

Just in case you were nervous, we survived, no creepy serial killers tried to break into the apartment in the middle of the night (although we did have the Elders convinced for a few minutes that they were supposed to come sit outside our apartment door all night, just in case). Through a miracle, we found the key the next day, took our address of the keychain, and all was well. Once we paid the €40 fee for building maintenance to let us in. 

I'd like to say that I've learned my lesson about carrying keys, but I know that it's just a matter of time until I get locked out of something in Canada. So here's hoping it'll be on the bottom floor!

Thursday, June 11, 2009

UTAH: A Nice Place to Visit, But...

I wouldn't want to live there. 
Now, before all you citizens of Utah get in a snit, let me explain. I love Utah. I was down there visiting two weeks ago and really enjoyed it. BYU is a fun campus, each city block is its own ward, and you have better Mexican food than anywhere in Canada. 
It's just not a place I see myself living. There are too many Mormons on Utah.
Case 1: I'm walking throught he BYU campus with an old mission companion. We walk past a guy on his cell phone, talking to someone about booking tickets "for the honeymoon". The next 6 people we pass are couples holding hands. Then comes a girl talking on her cell phone, discussing colours for bridesmaids' dresses. Surreal? Perhaps.
Case 2: Remember all the John Bytheway stories and youth conference dating workshops where they talk about frisbee golf as a fun date idea? Yeah, people actually do that in Utah (it's actually amazingly fun, I'm thinking of importing that idea to Calgary).
Case 3: At the BYU bookstore (as in the university bookstore, where you buy all your textbooks) you can check your course list for supplies,  go buy your temple clothes and then pick up The Work and the Glory in a boxed set on your way out. Talk about one-stop shopping!
Case 4: My old companion's apartment complex. The first floor is one ward, the second floor is another, and the third floor yet another. They practically have a stake in their apartment complex.
And I know that I don't even live in a place where the church is small. Calgary and southern Alberta is the Canadian equivalent of Utah. But I was still one of only 5 members of the church in my graduating class. 
And yet, there's something irresistible about it all- the school where a Book of Mormon class is required to graduate, having your entire Relief Society Presidency right around the corner, and being able to count 17 different LDS meetinghouses on your flight descent into Salt Lake City International Airport. Like I said, a great place to visit- just not the place for me.