More of the same; Life

Time keeps ticking by too quickly sometimes.  I have so much to write but not as much time as I would like to do it in.  Such is the limitations in the probationary game.  There are plenty of achievements to report though in the past week or two.
This evening I spoke with Gerald Neuffer in Columbia, Missouri.  In a most random turn of events, I noticed that a Jenna Neuffer became friends with my friend, Kami Lowe on Facebook.  With a name as rare as Neuffer, I knew all odds were in my favor of having a near shared ancestry.  I sent Miss Neuffer a message and asked for her Grandfather’s name and phone number.  Which she supplied.  Come to find out, I even had Gerald already in my family history.  I just had his first name Myron (Gerald is his middle name but he goes by it.  Probably due to remove confusion with his father’s name being Myron).  He knew the Andra’s well and said he remembered Millie, who was just younger than him.  Funny how small a world it is.  He went to get his PhD and never left Columbia after moving there in 1947.  We conversed for a little while he dug for information verifying I was not this total stranger calling for his family history for some other sinister reason.  He sounds like a good guy.  He asked if I was doing genealogy.  I confirmed I was and that I was the family historian.  He then happily related he was basically that for the Neuffer/Nuffer family.  I was definitely glad to hear that.  What is the chances of the Andra historian running into the Nuffer historian in Columbia Missouri?  Very far removed from Preston, Idaho!
I received a phone call from Jacqui yesterday about the Phibbs/Ross/Beachell family.  I tried returning her call and spoke with her mother for a few minutes.  I am glad she finally returned my message.  I only left it in May!  That was before we moved!
In other news, there was an e-mail that found its way to me from Robert in Fresno, California.  A most interesting question.  He asked if I knew of any of the siblings of my Constance Jorgensen.  I always felt Constance most likely had siblings but was never able to find any.  Between her parents marriage and Constance’s birth, there is twelve years.  I was sure there were other siblings.  Olavus and Hanna Mathea Jorgensen immigrated with Constance and settled in Richmond, Utah.  Constance married Ole Christiansen and gave birth to my Great Great Grandmother Martha Christiansen who is the mother of my Lillian Coley.  Constance died in Portland, Oregon while visiting and was buried there.  In the whole episode, I knew some day I would have to do some research in Norway to find the rest of this family.  Well, Robert e-mailed me asking me if his grandmother, Amanda Jorgensen Swensen could be a child of Olavus and Hanna.  He produced a copy of a hand written copy pedigree she had produced in 1935.  Sure enough, everything lined up.  Well, Amanda was born another 12 years after my Constance (24 after the marriage of the parents).  She immigrated to Utah a good 10 years after her parents and sibling came over and settled in Logan, Utah.  By the time she arrived her parents were both deceased and her sister had married.  It seems that she never knew she was only 15 miles from her parent’s graves and her sister.  The exciting news is that Amanda gave us the names of her siblings, none of which made it to America to her knowledge.  We added the 5 siblings.  Don’t know their ages, but definitely gives some more to go from.  That will give us much more to go from when the time for the Norway research begins.
I am happy to report I completed the New Testament this evening.  I am one day late.  If I had read the one chapter a day, I would have finished yesterday.  Last weekend put me just off enough that I did not catch up in time.  I completed the Book of Mormon on schedule this year on August 27th.  Now I can go through some General Conference talks and some other reading for the year.  Next year is the Doctrine and Covenants which you can almost read three times in a year.  I think I will just do it twice though.
The ward continues to blossom when it comes to family history.  It seems like people are doing their homework, research, and compiling regularly.  I have e-mails at least once or twice a week for help on something.  That is an indication something is going on.  That is definitely something which is a good thing.
Online the family history work continues to reveal new and interesting things.  I received an e-mail from a Homer Mason.  He was inquiring concerning the Jonas family in Washington State.  Come to find out, Anna Jonas is his Grandmother.  Anna was the daughter of William Jonas who was the brother to my Joseph Jonas; father to my great grandfather Joseph Nelson Jonas.  He knows very little so it has been fun introducing him to the family.  I have especially enjoyed his research on a line of the family I have not been able to crack.  It has proved not to be an easy line for him, but with his living in Yakima, he is much closer and capable of doing the work than I can.  I really hope I am accepted to the University of Idaho for Law School.  Then I could work on the Jonas, Ross, and Sharp lines in Washington State.
Stepping back to the Andra family.  This past weekend Amanda and I took a trip to Washington DC for our monthly temple visit.  But a new aspect as emerged.  My Great Uncle and Aunt, Donald and Lolane Andra, are now serving a mission in the temple.  We went up Friday night and stayed with Amanda’s Uncle and Aunt in Springfield.  Saturday we picked up Don and Lolane and made our way to Mt. Vernon.  They thoroughly enjoyed themselves.  It was the 18th Century Fair so there were masses of people.  Don and Lolane are good and quick on their feet.  Despite being in their 60’s they move well.  Don reminds me so much of my Great Grandpa.  I get a kick out of both of them.  We were limited on time as they had to be to the temple to work later in the afternoon.  We did probably the fastest walking tour of Mt. Vernon I can imagine.  We zoomed all over the grounds, through the fair, and then back up to their apartment to change and attend the temple.
On a side note, as I went into the endowment room, I noticed the officiator’s name was John Whatcott.  I looked at him and asked if he was from Kanosh.  He looked a bit surprised at me and said he grew up there.  I told him of the Whatcott’s I knew.  After the session he asked me to remain in the celestial room so we could visit.  We had a great visit.  Come to find out he knows Don and Lolane from St. George.  Small world.  Don knew which session we were on and waited for us to leave the celestial room.  He walked us down to the next floor and we parted again.  I met Don’s Home Teaching companion, Elder Toronto, while picking up Amanda’s Aunt’s glasses from the temple lost and found.  Funny how interlinked the world is, at least in the church.
I have not made mention of it yet, but I am going from contractor status to full associate status at Bank of America.  Meaning, I will be an employee of Bank of America and not an at will person filling a seat.  Many companies now do the contractor business as they can then hire on employees after they have shown their worth.  I must have done well enough for them to offer me employment starting October 1.  I am excited.  Business has been picking up.  I don’t know if it is from the crunch in the market or what.  Bank of America definitely stands on higher ground than those feeling the squeeze or sinking under the housing market.  One thing is for sure, with this rate cut, we are expecting the next month to be hectic.
My birthday came and went just like every other day or the year.  I am back to being congratulated for it being my unbirthday.  I received all sorts of e-mails (which will take me a good week to respond to them all), many messages on Facebook, and a couple of cards and gifts.  Amanda and I enjoyed a nice big meal at Chili’s for dinner.  We joked about it being our triannual beef night.  It is birthdays or anniversary that I get to eat a steak.  Monday was a 12 oz Ribeye.  Mmmm, so good.  That is of course not mentioning the Idaho potatos.  Amanda got me a shirt, a jump drive, and something else which slips me at the moment.  I also received a journal, a few checks, and some other random memorabilia.  I honestly don’t feel any different now than I think I did when I was 19.  Except the fact my knee was reconstructed in 2004 and doesn’t give me the issues it did at 19.  So I guess I feel better than at 19.  I have filled out in stature, even added a little padding in the middle,  and perhaps a little wiser.  Life is good.
My blessings continue to flow despite my inept nature.  I continue to be given the little peaceable things of the kingdom from time to time.  They make the living and endurance all worth it.  Line upon line right?  Sometimes I wish it was more page upon page, but alas, I am not the one running the show.  Church goes well.  I feel spiritually well.  Not the muscular behemoth I would like to be spiritually, but I feel strong enough to do what needs to be done and any forseeable adventure.

Portland

A wonderful weekend in Portland. A much needed break in the drive to Preston, Burley, or Logan every weekend. Tom, Erika, Seth, and Gabriel Kunzler all went with me. We left Thursday afternoon and wound our way to the center of the blue state. The sun set on us in Pendleton so from that point on was mostly not too interesting. I saw a couple of the dams on the Columbia river, and they were beautiful with their shimmering lights. I dropped them off in Gresham and made my way to my Sister Becky’s house. They moved to Portland about two years ago onto Peacock Lane and purchased a 1920’s Tudor House. They have been fixing it up ever since and have it almost done, all except the kitchen. It is a beautiful classic home. She has decorated it with the pastel and rich colors which were popular during the 30’s and have been coming much more back into style. I have always loved the Art Deco colors. Joe, her husband, was in town because he had hurt his back. The constant stress of traveling, meetings, working, and various other things sent his back into little spasms which have laid him up for a few days and probably will for weeks.

Friday I awoke and visited with them for some time. I was given a full tour of the home and the neighborhood. For lunch we went to a authentic German restaurant which was very good. I enjoyed my sauerbraten and spatzle. I did not partake of the beer, but enjoyed an amazing raspberry lemonade. I had to stir it every single time I wanted to drink so the raspberry would not all be in the bottom. There were even seeds in it!

That evening I was privileged to attend the swearing in of Molly Bordonaro. She is the new U.S. Ambassador to Malta. Her husband is part Maltese so I suppose that is one of the factors that put her in favor with the President. The story goes that every time she has met the President, she has been pregnant. That supposedly endeared her to him as well. I don’t know if it is because a pregnant woman would require more effort to do those sorts of things, or the nobility of motherhood. It was an interesting affair. Those who were supposed to be attending with me missed their flight so I ended up flying solo at the affair. It was a good experience. I met and come to know many more people. I also met fellow associates from The Gallatin Group for the first time. Shelley, Julia, Chris, Kent and his wife, were all there. Greg Walden of U.S. House of Representatives spoke and conducted. Also speaking were Senator Gordon Smith. I did not get to visit with Senator Smith as he was always cornered by other individuals. He did give me a hello wave as if he recognized me, but I really don’t think he placed where he knew me from. I was sad his wife, Sharon, was not there. It was a great evening. They took so long to get dinner going after the event that many people left. I decided to do the same. After all, hanging out with some snobby and increasingly drunk lawyers was not my thought of a great continuing evening. It was interesting how I would start visiting with people and my being an intern caused them to quickly lose interest. However, it was fun to have one man come up to me and was so interested after he found out more about the Gallatin Group. He started telling me all about what he does and his business and a myriad of details like I was a founding partner. He must have missed the fact that I was only an intern in our first introduction. He gave me his card, his personal cell written on it, and other little notes and requested us to remember his business. My personal preference is still friends first, then business. I seem to have misplaced his card too.

Saturday was an interesting day as well.  Joe and Becky took me to breakfast at “No Fish! Go Fish!”  It was really good food and I thought everyone was friendly.  The owner came out and visited with us most of the time.  Afterward on the walk home they informed me that Shawn was gay.  I remember the thought crossing my mind, but it didn’t really matter to me.  They went on to tell me about Shawn and John were one of the first couples in Portland to be married.  It was a few months ago, I guess just short of their one year anniversary that their marriage was declared unlawful.  He seemed like a nice man, I did not have any problems with him.  I have to admit, if he can cook that well, I really don’t have any problems with him.  It then led to a discussion of people and their reactions to the gay segment of our society.  We also discussed how people treat them as individuals.  Without going into the political side of the argument, we basically agreed on one thing.  Somehow in our denunciation of the actions of these people, we as a people somehow find it Christian to treat with utter disdain this people.  Being so entrenched in our way of life and our notion of right and wrong, being entrenched in our opposition forget there are people’s lives at stake.  While I will never entertain the lifestyle that these people espouse (pun intended), it does not mean at all I should ever treat them as subhuman.  Becky and I discussed an individual we know who would find it completely unbearable to even be in the presence of Shawn.  They may be okay to begin with, but would fester and before long say things which they should not say.  Or flat out ignore him the entire time.

As part of the discussion Becky told me of a story of a member of Joe’s family.  Who considers himself a good Christian.  However, because Becky has not been “active” in a religion that she somehow is sub Christian, or unable to think in Christian terms.  What is worse, he proclaims to be a Christian while treating his family in ways that are plain rude and inconsiderate, if not verbally abusive.  He made the comment that since Becky came from a family of divorced parents that she would have the same inclinations towards divorce.  He had the nerve to ask her what she thought or what she was doing to avoid a divorce.  (This was before her and Joe married)  He then went on to counsel her about Christian living.  She informed him that while her parents may have divorced, she had two sets of Grandparents who were not.  Plus they were more Christian than he could ever hope to be, and they didn’t have to go around proclaiming it to everyone.

On the same note, there seems so many people who are so set on protecting the Christian way and lifestyle that they have forgotten to live it.  While we do not permit any form of adultery, it doesn’t mean we still stone everyone in the street.  Which is the equivalent to what some of these professing Christians do.  Moreover, it extends to the conservative party in many ways.  They are so set on providing the perfect life, what they determine to be the right way of life, they don’t care who they stone along the way.  I do not agree with their lifestyle at all, but I cannot force them to live my way.  If I don’t like it, well, suck it up and get on with it.  I remember the scriptures talk about gathering to people of similar beliefs.  Of leaving Babylon and letting them go on to their own destruction.  I cannot remember any scriptures whatsoever that talk about transforming or making Babylon live the the Christian life.  We keep that up we will end up with a state similar to the history of the Catholic Church.  Many, many Catholics, but most simply in name.  Heck, lets go back to Constantinople and force all of Rome to be Christian.  Oh wait, we are already headed that way.  Suddenly I sound very blue!  I am not either party.  In some ways I am Constitutionalist, other Fundamentalist, others Republican, and yet others Democrat (heaven forbid!  Utah higher education failed here!!  Pass some more laws!).  Too bad Utah State does not teach down any particular line.  Randy Simmons, don’t let the Utah State Legislature find out.  Lets stick with the basics of the Constitution and let people govern themselves.  Even better, Common Law, which I advocate always is much better to the governing of society than Statutory Law ever was.  I think some in this country are beginning to see this.

Anyhow, Saturday afternoon Becky and I made a trip to downtown Portland.  What a great city.  Their buildings have style and design.  They don’t all look the same.  I applaud the Portland urban renewal belt.  It is helping revitalize the city.  While Portland may claim to be the most green city, they have some serious roads yet to make in their downtown area.  Some streets had trees, others without.  Some were hot concrete jungles, others were nice, shady, beautiful areas.  What a beautiful city, hopefully that will spread throughout the rest.  You get so far out of the downtown and it is a dump.  In fact, driving into Portland Thursday night, I had a fight between two end up in the road and I nearly ran them over.

Well, off my little soapbox about politics.  Saturday night Joe and Becky took me to dinner with a couple of their friends.  Hal and Mindy seemed like a great couple.  She teaches acting or something like that at Portland University.  I don’t remember what Hal does.   Since we were in a big city, I told Becky of my hankering for some good Indian food.  Especially if I could get a donner kebab.  So we met Hal and Mindy and ate at this great Indian restaurant.  There were not any donner kebabs, but I had this amazing chicken korma.  We ordered and somehow my future marriage came up.  It then came knowledge to Hal and Mindy that I would be married in an LDS Temple.  So cornered me and asked if I was excited about learning all the secret stuff that happens therein.  In jest I assured her I already knew.  Becky told her I had already received my endowments and that this was just the sealing.  They did not know there were multiple ordinances performed in the temple.  She turned to me and asked if I would tell her the secrets.  I told her I could share with her those things which are in the scriptures and thereby give her a general overview of what takes place therein.  I went on eating my appetizer and realized they wanted it now.  Well, for the next hour I taught them the overall scriptural ideas of the endowment.  They found it utterly fascinating.  Hal at one time was quite the scholar on the ancient tabernacle in the wilderness so I did the discussion completely from there and the Temple in Herod’s day.  They really liked how I kept tying the Old and New Testaments together and were apt to asking questions before I could even finish a topic.  Finally after nearly 2 hours we had gone through the endowment.  Washing, Anointing, Garments, New name, Adam and Eve, covenants, and finally the sealing.  What was great was the promptings I felt of the Spirit to where I could nearly quote entire passages of relevant scripture.  Obviously I did not reveal any of the signs, keys, or tokens.  Mindy as a acting instructor found the theatrical portion ideas of the endowment to be very interesting.  We discussed some of the ancient plays recorded in the scriptures, Greece, and Becky even brought in this one part about the Native Indians.  It was a very fascinating conversation.  In discussion of the covenants portion of the endowment, I discussed why the covenants were sacred and why we do not reveal or tell them.  Hal made the most interesting of all evening on how he missed the rituals of organized religion.  He commented how he noticed there was a certain mystic, power, in the ritual.  I instantly thought of some Hugh Nibley and thought to refer him, but did not.

The conversation moved away to politics.  They were noticeably impressed with the clarity the endowment made.  They said they would think about it and next time definitely have more questions.  Perhaps I may be able to refer them to the missionaries next time.  However, after the discussion of the temple, they then asked what my political leanings were.  Especially since they liked the way I thought.  We ended up discussing marriage, abortion, stem cell research, death penalty, republicanism, democracy, the proper role of government, and a whole host of things.  Joe and Becky were much more a part of that conversation.  By the end of the evening I just barely finished my food and we all had a great time.

That evening we were plum tired out.  So we decided to go to bed early.  However, Becky and I stayed up and talked about family, genetics, and traits until nearly midnight.  It was a good bonding experience.

Sunday rolled around and I finally awoke and got ready for the day.  I had blueberry pancakes with Joe and Becky and then headed out to pick up Tom and Co from Gresham.  It was good to see Chad and Morley again.  They are good guys.  Rather than going home on I-84, we chose U.S. 26.  It was a beautiful drive.  We found the church in Madras but they had it earlier in the morning and there was not an afternoon ward.  We tried again in Prineville, but they were just letting out of church when we got there.  There are two wards, but the second ward started at 11:00 AM so that put us too late.  In the end, we were not able to attend church.  We tried.  There were some really cool little towns on the way like Mitchell, Dayville, John Day, Prairie City, Unity, Vale, Nyssa, Parma, Notus, and back to home.  It was interesting to drive through Nyssa and see the Sugar Factory there.  I have known of it all my life with my Dad’s association with Amalgamated Sugar.  I have recently heard much of it working for The Gallatin Group and watching DR-CAFTA with Amalgamated and their closing the plant this year.

Today found me back at work and loving my job.  This is my last week, so there are some bittersweet feelings there.  Nevertheless, DC will prove to be fascinating and interesting.