23 February 2015


All smiles with his companion
After last week's letter and its opening salvo, "I'm dying," we were more than a little curious about the news we'd get from TMFKATB today. Happy to report that his letter, entitled 'i feel better,' was a most welcome read. Aside from the statement, "I feel so much better," he spoke no more of last week's dream date with chikungunya. Check here for a huge answer to prayers. HUGE.

The rest of the letter was pretty pedestrian, quite frankly, with the exception of a little run-in with some 'possessed' people. There is nothing like a mission experience when you find yourself constantly seeking to serve others that you see people in their best and worst moments. He had one of those pretty scary moments where he encountered someone who was convinced she was possessed. He didn't give a lot of detail but suffice to say, it's a heavy thing for a nineteen year old to experience. These are lessons that you wouldn't pick up in a college classroom. Based on what he said though, he's growing up in ways that are hard to describe. I'm amazed at the faith that he's demonstrating. Amazed.

One of the fun things that he and I have going is his weekly report of the best thing he ate. When he's feeling especially cheeky, he'll send a picture. He did it again this week, with some delicious looking tacos al pastor.
Clearly he was feeling more than well enough to feast on these. And I couldn't be happier for him.

21 February 2015

First World Problems - The Alarm Edition

First World Problems. Vexing little devils, aren't they? In case you don't know what I'm talking about, I'll give you the definition from Urban Dictionary:

Problems from living in a wealthy, industrialized nation that third worlders would probably roll their eyes at

Although a bit of a grammatical haz-mat situation, that definition is pretty spot on and is, probably, the least profane in the whole of the UD. You have been warned.

I had a run-in with First World Problems at 3:45AM today. I was jolted out of a sound sleep by the sound of a screeching that normally is heard when Kris Kardashian finds out one of her cash cows children made a public appearance without getting the cash first. It's as calamitous as you might think. That horrific screech was followed by a robotic voice announcing, "Low battery." I thought I was dreaming and then exactly one minute later, there it was again. One more minute later, it was back. I wasn't dreaming. It was our CO2/Smoke alarm, which is hard-wired, so I was a tad befuddled as to why it was screeching on about the low battery. Remember, people, I'm not an engineer so it took me a second to realize that the infernal thing has a battery back-up. I took the battery out. It kept screeching. I went in search of 9V battery. During that search, the tragedy of #firstworldproblems came into full relief:

Guess who had no more 9V batteries in the house?
Guess who lives in a 'hood where there is no such thing as a 24 hour convenience store?
Guess who has a screeching monitor with no 'hush' function?
Guess who has a screeching monitor, while just two years old, is no longer featured on the manufacturer's website, making it impossible to find the users manual online?

Mercifully, it was resolved by 645AM. All it took was a quick trip to the gas station mini-mart to grab a 9V battery. This little showcase of chewing tobacco, lotto tickets, smokes, and more saturated fats than you can shake a stick at was our salvation. The cashier, sensing my trauma, was apologetic about the price of the battery. I would have given him my kidney if it was going to get me that battery. I raced home and all but slammed the battery into the sensor and the screeching stopped!

With our ears ringing from the three hours of screech, the stunningly patient and mighty fine SML and I lit out to enjoy another drubbing, this time in the form of a visit to Costco. Before we got there, we stopped at a little diner not far from BDL for breakfast. It was clearly a neighborhood place - the kind where the waitresses all know your name (and if they don't, your name is 'hun' or 'dear') and how you like your eggs. Although we were interlopers, we were treated like family. Our waitress was concerned about my ability to finish what I had ordered and ribbed me each time she came to check on us. I should have listened to her, as it would have been wiser to have ordered two of their hubcap-sized pancakes instead of three. Duly noted for next time. 

As I labored to finish my cinnamon oatmeal pancakes, soaking in the atmosphere of this little diner, the lunacy of the morning was made plain. My #firstworldproblems weren't a problem at all. I had a minor inconvenience. A minor inconvenience. I asked myself, 'Are you getting the picture of just how silly these problems were?' I was lamenting the fact that a LIFESAVING device was making a lot of noise, inconveniencing things here in the Den, and I was unable to fix them immediately. The fact is that it got fixed. I was with my lovely wife enjoying a breakfast and we were about to go to a place where you can buy caskets in bulk if you really wanted.

You realize how silly this all was, right? Yeah, so did I.
#firstworldproblems - the struggle is not real

16 February 2015

A little plague. A little robbery. All in a week's work.

A rare two-fer post day here in the Den. First, a birthday post and then the latest from TMFKATB.

When you get an email directed solely to you from your missionary son serving in Mexico and it includes the words 'dying,' 'plague,' and 'stress,' you tend to perk up a little. OK, A LOT. That's how things played out today with TMFKATB's first email to me, not his mother. I'm sure he figured it was more important I relate to his mother about his current state than he just surprise her in his family letter. This is how he laid it out:

I ate some tiburon (shark) and gorditas that were delicious. I'm dying right now of a disease called chikungunya. It's a plague here in Mexico and it has let me to a lot of stress.

Before his family letter arrived, I told the stunningly patient and mighty fine SML. We quickly Google'd it and found out that chikungunya is, in fact, a thing. You can read here what the CDC has to say about it. His weekly letter did bring us a bit more comfort, once we read it a couple of times. Although it's been a stressful week, he seems like he's actually doing pretty well and his concern is more with the other missionaries in the district he is leading who have been affected with it than himself. So as we read about how he was handling what sounds like a pretty painful malady, he tossed in the following:

At the beginning of the week, I got robbed by like seven little six year old girls. They jumped all over me and stole my pass along cards (cards with images of Christ and information about services). It was super funny. One threatened to pull my pants down. It was hilarious.

Sheesh. First, a bunch of six year old cholas jump him for his Church cards and then a mosquito or two or three brings the pain of viral disease that sounds like something found during a colonoscopy. That's quite a week he's had. Again, I am in awe of how his sense of humor shone through in the letter and also at his concern for his fellow man. He's maturing in amazing ways.

I'm also humbled by the sense of peace that enveloped the stunningly patient and mighty fine SML and I as we read of this week's events. Sure, it may have gotten our hearts racing a little more than usual but as we read his letter over again and saw his sense of humor and his strength, we were a bit more at ease. 

That said, for any of you medical professionals who stop by the Den, feel free to weigh in on your thoughts on chikingunya. We'll be glad to listen. 

At a taqueria, downing Fantas. I'm surprised that foul stuff didn't give him what he's got now.


25 years.

A quarter of a century.

The silver anniversary.

If you're car is twenty five years old, it's most likely considered a "classic."

If you're twenty five years old, you're an adult now, whether you like it or not.

We're talking about the number '25' a bit here in the Den today. Why? We are celebrating the birth of our oldest child and first-born daughter, Our Lady of Awesome. Twenty fives years old today. I won't waste a lot of virtual ink lamenting the fact that I have a child who has been on this earth for a quarter of a century. Instead, I'll celebrate her. It's her day.

I love this girl's sly sense of humor. I love her willingness to be silly with her brother and sister. I love that she does not suffer fools. At all and never has. I love her commitment to her husband and her son. I love that she still checks in with her mom. I love that she's happy.

I'm a lucky dad. I honestly had no idea what I was doing as a dad when she was born. She was our 'crash test dummy' and she came through it with flying colors. Amazing.

Wishing her a happiest of birthdays today!