Rock recently recommended that I read the book Inside Out & Back Again by Thanhha Lai. He was so sure that I would love it that he asked me nearly every day for a month if I had started reading the book yet. I finally read it this last week and he was right I loved it. It was beautiful, but more than that I could relate to the little girl's experience learning English.
I learned to speak English first, but when we moved to Mexico where my father accepted a job at the University I forgot it all. Reading this book brought back so many memories.
I started my formal education in Mexico and I have vivid memories of that time. Everything was more colorful, flavorful, and vibrant, but isn't that how memories are.
I remember crossing railroad tracks to get to the school, wearing a white uniform and singing out in the courtyard. I would sit at my desk looking out through a wall of windows at the beautiful flowers in the courtyard and drawing picture after picture. I'm sure I did other work, but the art stands out most in my memories as well in some of my parents. Apparently at this point in my life I would wake up in the early morning hours (4 am) to color and draw.
The following year I began kindergarten, here in the states. I had forgotten most of my English, but immersion is an excellent way to learn a language quickly so I just started right into classes. Communication between the administration and the teacher was not very good because my mother quickly received a phone call discussing my placement into a program for developmentally disabled children. I was failing to complete my assignments and follow directions, unfortunately I had no idea what was being asked of me those first few days/weeks. My mother quickly explained that I didn't remember English.
It's interesting what memories are still strong. I was the only person in the class with black hair and the other little girls like to touch my braids. Everyone spoke to me very loudly as if that would somehow help me understand them better. No one knew "what" I was and I was quickly given the nickname "Chang" which stayed for may years. Sometimes children can be cruel.
I remember looking up at the alphabet train that ran along the wall of my new classroom and wondering what happened to the "ch" and the other Spanish letters. There were so many phonetic rules that didn't make any sense, especially after including the exceptions. The simplicity of sounds in Spanish was no longer part of my learning,.
I remember everyone getting up and leaving the room. I sat there wondering what I was supposed to do next.
I remember being so glad to finally go home and be with my family.
Those first memories of kindergarten have stayed with me and came rushing back as I read the pages of this lovely book that my darling son knew I would love. What a lovely blessing he is in my life!
As I was watching a movie the other night with the girls, one last hoorah before school started, I decided to work on my sketching goal: one simple sketch every day. I am just going to draw something simple on the bottom half of the planner pages, but it will be fun to see where this goes and what I learn along the way.
Working through the photos from 2012 that I haven't yet posted. There are so many I'm not quite sure how I will display them. One common theme I found as I was sorting was the flowers. I love flowers, their beauty and design. I marvel at the details God has created for us to enjoy and be inspired by.
Gus captured her own details while up the canyon one brisk October day. These were taken for a science project, but I see color, shape, light, and composition. Although most of the beautiful autumn leaves had already fallen from their trees the sunlight cast a lovely hue on the color that remained. I love the images she captured.
Many years ago my in-laws gave me this beautiful original 5x7 watercolor titled "Country Garden" by Sharlene Christensen, a local artist. I was so thrilled, and it has hung in various rooms in our home. I was looking at it the other day and wondering what it was that I loved about this particular painting.
When I was a young mother with only two small children, I was talking to a neighbor and good friend one evening when in the course of our conversation she learned that I had not finished my degree at the university. She said that I would regret not finishing it and it would define who I would become. She commented that I was the type of person that needed to see this through. I think my reply was something along the lines that a piece of paper (meaning a diploma) did not define whether or not I was an educated woman.
I have thought about our conversation over the years, especially over the holiday when my little brother asked each of us at a family dinner about our educational choices. Would we choose the same areas of study if we were to go back to the university today? What I would study if I started again? Would I continue to learn about things I was passionate about, or would the practicality of everyday life cause me to choose another path?
I thought about the educational journey that I have had since leaving the university. I have grown in ways I never anticipated, and in the process I have searched and yearned for more knowledge. I hope that I never lose that thirst for knowledge. I hope that as my children see both John and I continually studying and working to improve our minds we can instill in them the same desire to learn and grow.
On Saturday President Monson started out General Conference announcing the change in the age in which young people can serve missions. For my daughters life as they have always known it or rather the future as they have thought about it has been forever altered.
The Lord knows the outcome of this life. He knows what we need and how to succor us. He is the master teacher and to use Elder Holland's analogy the master coach. He knows how this game will end and His will be the victorious team.
All these thoughts reminded me of my years playing basketball, a lifetime ago when I was in great shape and young. I would have never guessed I would be writing about the gospel in context of a sport, but there you go. I remember a game when we were down. We were clearly a better team, but we continually made unforced errors and no matter what we did we couldn't get the ball into the hoop. Our coach called a time out, he looked at each of us and told us our strengths and how we could beat the other team. Then he changed the plays: a full court press and man to man defense.
As we came back out on the court with our new assignments and the encouragement of someone who knew better than us our potential I remember feeling a little electrified. I knew what I needed to do. I knew it was going to be hard and that it might require all the strength I had, but that I could do it and that with my other teammates we could be victorious.
The game changed at that point.
We played with more vigor and determination. We answered the call and walked away victorious, although in our case we were not guaranteed the victory as we are in this mortal life just by the team we play for. We know who will win, we need to decide for whom we will play.
The Lord has altered the game a little bit with this change in missionary age. Clearly He is looking for the full court press to help lead the hearts of His children to Christ. Evidently adding more young women into this mighty cause prior to marriage and motherhood is something that helps His overall game plan. It doesn't mean that the way will be easy, it will require work and perhaps even more sacrifice, but in the end it will be worth it.
What a glorious time to be alive!
Footnote: When I shared my thoughts with my girls they just stared at me a little blankly. They had no idea what a full court press was or how it all related. When I asked if there was something similar in tennis they rolled their eyes. Clearly we speak different sports or perhaps all this only makes sense in my mind, which could definitely be the case.
I have loved drawing today. I might have to make a sports kit after this post, perhaps even one with Church things. I am working on a Halloween digital kit for Friday.