Updates

Sorry, I have not been on for a little.  The internet at our house has been a bit hit and miss.  Since we free load from the neighbors, I have nothing to complain about.  Our other neighbors had a really good signal, but then they moved.  So now we rely on a much weaker signal.  I have decided that someday when I get wireless, I will not put on a password so others may use it as well.  I don’t see why people want to keep it locked up anyway.  Not like we are hurting for speed or anything.
Well, as for the update on life.  Things are going well.  I have started working for my Uncle Larry in Preston again spraying lawns.  I am doing it on Saturdays.  I have very much enjoyed it in the past, and once again am doing so.  I sprayed the last two weekends, and look forward to this weekend.  It is good to be out with the people, in such a beautiful place.  The valley where Malad, Grace, and Preston (I know this one is Cache Valley) are all so beautiful.  Plus the people in general are the salt of the earth.  Who could ask for more than that.  While I am looking at going to law school, I find myself second guessing.  Why not just move back to Preston and be content there?  But then the reminder comes, gain as much education as you can.  So, why not.  I can get my law degree, head back home to Idaho, and work the spraying business a day a week or so.  Who knows.
I have to admit, it is such a great time to think and ponder.  I stopped at Red Rock Pass, near Oxford, on the way back to Preston the other day.  It is a favorite spot of mine.  I visited the little cemetery out back, and there is Jefferson Hunt buried.  He has gone like every other man, but he did something noble with his life.  Yes, he has credits enough to have me know his name as a founder and builder, but he was a good man.  Funny how his posterity would come to personally bless my life.  Senator Smith is a descendent of his.  Yet, this great man, spiritual and societal, lies in the earth, in a very humble location.  In the middle of nowhere, not even a maintained cemetery.  Somehow, I find that inspiring.  I also visited my great grandparents graves at Whitney, and there lies a Prophet, Seer, and Revelator of God.  Even the prophets are laid low in the earth.  This man, Ezra Taft Benson, also was a well known man for his role as Secretary of Agriculture under Eisenhower.  There are other great men who were well known in their generation, who are now buried in those cemeteries, even amongst the most humble of others.  They lay right beside them.  Yet, these men left an influence.  Jefferson Hunt will be remembered by his posterity for his efforts and example.  President Benson’s influence is great, and will never cease because of his noble willingness to follow the Lord.  I have been the grave of many great men, but their name is almost forgotten, and continues to diminish.  But those who are righteous will never be lost.  Their influence will only increase.  Some greater than others, but as one star differeth from another….
Well, I love life.  Amanda and I are exceedingly blessed.  I pray it will continue.
I will make a last comment.  I have been reading Rough Stone Rolling by Richard Lyman Bushman.  While I am very impressed with his scholar capacity, and his great time, I will admit there are some serious errors in the book.  He has written of Joseph Smith and has diminished him.  I will have to write more on this later.  I have some quotes by Brigham that bite Brother Bushman and his perspective of Joseph.  When I have them with me, I will share them.

February’s ending

Life continues to go on.  Things are going very well here in Provo, Utah.  Amanda and I are enjoying life and keeping busy.  I am working full time at Meier and Frank and enjoying my time there.  I look forward to each day and every day is different.  Amanda has just switched from DownEast Outfitters to Dillards.  I agree with many things at Dillards but admit we are much more human at Meier and Frank.  Macy’s Regional Representatives visited the store yesterday and they were very kind, willing to listen, and easy to get along with.  It was an enjoyable experience.  Things are laid back and good at M&F.  Dillards has this rule that if you are tardy 8 times in 6 months, you are fired.  Ouch!  Aren’t we humans? not machines?  Amanda keeps busy with school.  She had a chemistry test today that she was not very excited about.  On the way home, she doesn’t feel she did very well.  I am continuing with my LSAT Course.  I am feeling more confident in the possibilities with the test, but still am not showing the improvements I would like to see.  Soon enough, I hope.  We finished Numbers just a day or two ago.  We are now reading on in Deuteronomy, which is one of my favorite books of the entire Bible.  I love how personable Moses is and feel like I am sitting in a General Conference talk with it.  We are ahead of the reading for Sunday School, but will lose ground as the year goes on.  We will finish in November, but at some points will even be behind where the Gospel Doctrine class is.  Oh well.  Tonight we finish 2 Nephi.  We will finish the Book of Mormon in September.  It will be good to finish that early.  We will have an opportunity to read some other books that we agree on.  I would like to read the history of Joseph Smith by his mother together.  We will see what books Amanda has in mind.  Jesus the Christ sounds good, or Articles of Faith, or perhaps some of the manuals for Priesthood/Relief Society.
Anyhow, I am rambling on about what is happening in life.  Thought you would all like to know a few things and what is going on in my head and with Amanda.
One question that I am researching lately is this.  In a conversation with a friend, we had talked about capital punishment and the comment was brought up, “That is part of the Mosaic Law” and no longer applies.  Ringing in my mind was the line about the savior fulfilling, not destroying or removing.  The whole law was to point us to Christ, so is it all bad.  Is the entire Spirit of the Law void?  I do not believe so.  It seems to me that if the Mosaic Law were all void and null, then the 10 commandments would not have been repeated over and over in every other book of scripture.  Other than their performances and ordinances, it seems that it all still applies.  I keep reading and wondering.  That is one thing I am pondering about.  We shall see.  If it is still applicable, then that changes my view of government in a couple of ways.  The setup and functioning of government is changed in some ways.  It does not change or alter anything in the church, in fact, to me it seems to fortify it a great number of times.  I believe the Book of Mormon is vital to the church, but I believe the same of the Bible.  One is a restoration scripture, and vital to our times, but the other is vital to providing background and foundation on which the Book of Mormon builds.  Knowing and reading the Old Testament fortifies the teachings and application of the Book of Mormon.  Anyhow, this is one current subject of learning.
Lately I have also been wondering about family history.  There are many aspects of it that seem to strike me a little more forcefully.  Especially as I stumbled upon several albums which belonged to my Great Grandmother and Great Great Grandmother.  It has been very revealing.  It is amazing the power of a picture.  I have gone around and visited a load of family members, especially older members, to find out who some of the photos are.  There are probably two dozen photos which nobody is old enough to recognize.  Which I find is really sad.  These are interesting photos.  I have gone through and scanned all of them and have been e-mailing them out to family members.  I hope they are valuing what I am sending.  I may at some later point when I am done with them, post them all here on the blog.  We will see.  There are quite a few and it may take too much time.  We will see.
Well, I have to be going.  Life is great.  We are very abundantly blessed.  We are very fortunate.  I hope it continues.  Oh, Amanda has been accepted to University of Maryland-Baltimore.  We await word from Virginia Commonwealth University.  Also, Amanda and I have accepted a calling to team teach in primary.  The 5-6 years old if I remember right.

Ask and ye shall receive…

Ask and ye shall receive, perhaps not at that moment, perhaps later, but you will always receive the intentions of your hearts.

Well, here is a story of such.  To cut the extra details, one day the interns had Soda with the Senator.  We all were able to ask one question, and then we were to have like a general overall question.  Nobody came up with the biggie, so I proposed one we had all talked about.  Let’s ask the Senator if he will arrange for us to go up inside the dome of the United States Capitol.  Well, we went into the meeting, and I got in a bit of trouble, but I asked it.  I was in trouble because we found out the Member of Congress has to do it themselves.  This would be a scheduling nightmare for the Senator.  Well, we all understood and went our ways.

Well, the time for our internship was winding down.  On the Thursday before I was to come home, the Senator asked me to escort him to the floor.  We walked along, he gave me a Christmas present, and gave me some advice.  The advice came from his personal experience as a husband, and also from his experience as a Bishop.  He then with excitement announced that he had arranged that he could take us into the dome of the Capitol.  It would be the next day at three PM.  Well, obviously I was excited, but it just so happened, that I was leaving the next day.  I informed him of this and he said he was most sorry.  He had made this happen mostly for me and that he was sorry he waited too long.

Well, let me tell you, the office was excited.  The lowly intern, asked an unaskable question, and they were now benefiting.  They promised to think of me, they promised to take pictures of the expedition.  You will notice that there are some new photos in the ‘Leaving DC’ gallery.  That is what those photos are containing.  The staff’s pictures of the Senator’s personal tour of the Capitol Dome!  Enjoy them.  There is a classic of looking down into the Capitol Rotunda.  There are pictures that include the Senator.  Enjoy.

There is a little more to the story.  The next day, I am filling out a marriage application in the Salt Lake City Clerk’s office.  My phone rings.  On the other end, I hear Gavin Bruce announce he was speaking to me from the top of the United States Capitol Dome overlooking the city.  In the background Senator Smith bellows, ‘Wish you were here Paul’.  I was so completely jealous.  Greg, Gavin, Steve, and others all sent emails afterward thanking me.  Apparently the Senator at every high point in the tour commented something like, ‘I think Paul would have enjoyed this’.  Oh well.  As they were telling it to me in the Clerk’s office, Amanda caught my attention and pointed out a sign that said thank you for not using cell phones.  The folks to our side looked like they would appreciate my obedience.  I finished our conversation, and again felt left out of the chance of a lifetime!

I want to say here, that I hope someday, somehow, I will again have the chance to ascend to the top of one of our country’s most prized possessions.  A place that only 535 people have permission to go, a few caretakers, a few construction workers and cleaners, and those who are personally escorted by one of those people.  Someday……..

The Approach

Everyone keeps asking me if I am nervous and anxious about what is coming.  Well, honestly, much to everyone’s dismay, I am completely calm about all of this.  I am reminded of the classic Smith saying, I am as calm as a summer’s morning.  Now, that does not include the preceding sentence about being a lamb going to the slaughter.  Some might say that, but I most surely do not.  It must be admitted that my still being here in Washington DC and not seeing anything leading up to it might be helping.  We are within a week.  I feel no apprehension at all.
On another note, yesterday I walked out of the elevator reading a letter and accidentally ran into a man.  He fell backwards and against the wall.  I apologized and helped him into the elevator.  It was only as I walked down the hall I realized it was Senator Lindsey Graham from South Carolina.  It made me feel bad.
I will definitely miss Washington DC.  It is such a beautiful city.  I imagine the feeling here is like the first visitors would have been to Rome, London, Paris, or some of the other ancient magnificent cities.  Plus there is a certain ability to keep learning here that I enjoy.  Many other jobs are not so requiring on a person to continue to learn.

Shadows

Yesterday was a day that will forever live in my memory.  I was privileged to follow and shadow an United States Senator in all that he did.  It was my privilege to attend his meetings, listen to his conversations, and personally visit with him throughout the day.  At one point I even got to go on the United States Senate Floor.  That is a rare honor as it is only reserved for Senators and other  selected individuals.  He had to ask permission for me to be on the floor.  If he had not inserted his talk into the record, my name would even be a part of the Congressional Record.  What an honor it was to follow and visit with him.
It was my honor to see him visit with a couple of other Senators.  They visited about budgets, amendments to budgets, and plans in relation to upcoming votes.  He even visited with Senator Vitter about the costs of rebuilding Louisiana.  That was interesting.
Going to the floor was something I will never forget.  It was electric.  It was fun to be on the floor rather than up in the gallery looking down.  There were three of us there, all with our special little passes, and watched the Senator give his little 7 1/2 minute talk.
After coming back to the floor, and since we had missed some of the commerce committee meeting, he visited with me in his office for almost an hour.  I asked him a series of questions.  Everything from ANWR to Garrett, his son.  We discussed Garrett for a little while and the effect it has had upon his life.  He told me about the every day life of being LDS and serving as an  Oregon representative.  He told me about his contacts with the church and how that relationship is structured.  He told me about some of their latest interactions.  I asked him about spiritual  interactions with Garrett which was interesting, especially about some of the interactions with other members of the family.
The rest of the day was in meetings with a variety of groups on a variety of topics.  It made me tired just thinking about it.  We went from bio-diesel to environmental issues, car production to timber, and French movies to the election of governor in Virginia.  It was an exhausting sphere and round of conversations.  It was all very enlightening and impressive that he knew about each of these subjects.  I loved it.
Looking back I really appreciate the time he gave me.  It was very interesting to spend time with the man all this revolves around.  What is more, the father of a dear friend of mine.  It helped  change some of the frustration I had struggled with in not knowing who I represented.  While I still think he is pretty aloof and not totally in touch with reality, it was great to get to know him one and one.  It was an honor to be given the time for such an opportunity.  I loved it.  It was very instructive to him and his personality, especially in relation to the church and politics.  It was a distinct privilege I shall never soon forget.

Interesting Days

It is strange how coincidence seems to play into our lives. Even I, a low staffer, an Idahoan, who is of very little importance in the realm of all men who have walked upon the earth have the privilege of meeting such amazing men. There are giants around us and we very seldom realize it. Most of those will never be  recognized or accredited for what they do. However, today I wish to pay tribute to the common man (men and women, you know what I mean…man is not without the woman, and woman not without the man). There are souls around us who affect us so deeply that they forever change our course. Most of them are the every day run of the mill who humbly go about doing their duty. Many men do what they can to get by, others in service to others oblivious and often doing more damage, but then there are those who know what they need to do and do it well. Those who seek to do what they do well, live their lives to the best of their capability who influence the most.This week I met a man by the name of Mehmet Ali Talat. He paid a visit to Senator Smith. He is the president of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus. It definitely is not every day that we meet the President of a small country. What is more, one that is a bit more questionable in the eyes of many nations. Besides that, he is a very powerful man. He came with his entourage and sat in the office for a while (the Senator was meeting with the President of Starbucks…how ironic) and then left to visit with the Senator in his office. I do not know the culture, I do not know the man, but he seemed very deliberate and almost unhappy. The whole group seemed almost dire in many ways. While I can boast that I met the man who leads another nation, he left little or no influence upon me.

The same day, I met a man named Bob Livingston. A representative from Louisiana that served in the house for over 20 years. If I remember right, he was even Speaker of the House of the United States for a short time. A powerful man in the United States who served for a third of most people’s lives. (While there are hundreds of people in the U.S. government and I have come to learn it is just another job, it still holds a mystique) He sat with me for a few moments and was so concerned about his blackberry he couldn’t even visit for a whole five minutes. Another man who influenced millions of lives, but in lasting tribute will have little more than name recognition to go with his face in my life. Do we recognize the influence we could have on people, but due to our own concerns and selfishness do not take the opportunity to reach out more often.

If you would not know it, I was giving a tour this week and while explaining the Capitol Ceiling (which is always accompanied with my looking around while explaining rather than peering up a dozen noses) and I recognized a man sitting on one of the benches on the outer parameter. I excused myself from my tour group for a moment to go say hello to the Governor of Idaho, my beloved home state. I walked over, shook the hand of Dirk Kempthorne, and introduced myself. He looked pensive and contemplative. I somewhat regret having visiting with him as he seemed almost melancholy, but I was thrilled with the opportunity. Here was a man who took a few moments to say hello and learn a little about me. He did not brush me off and seemed somewhat interested. This man, while definitely with his own thoughts, took a few moments out to focus on the one. He will have a much more lasting influence than the President of a small nation or Speaker of the House. Nevertheless, many don’t like the Governor, but he seemed much more willing to care about other people than the first two.

In that tour group that I excused myself from was a former Senator of the State of Oregon. Neil and Mary Bryant were a different breed though. They were engaging, willing to share of themselves and learn of others, and even reached out to meet others. They and their friends Neal and Linda Huston were fun to take on the tour as they were so willing to get along and be a part of society. They are good individuals who loved to learn. He tried to stump me on historical facts of the United States of the Pacific Northwest (which my knowledge is not very good, I just got lucky that I knew his answers). They were by far the best people I met that day. While not as impressive in stature of the world, they left an impression that will be much more lasting.

With all that said, I want to recognize some of those who have affected my life the most. Colleen Jonas. Father in Heaven. Jesus Christ. Milo Ross. Sandra Jonas. Amanda Hemsley. Brad Hales. Kathy Duncan. Ted Tateoka. Kevin Orton. Nicole Whitesides. Laurel Hepworth. Marie Lundgreen. Kathryn England. Anna Badger. Chris Horsley. Megan Duncan. Dustin McClellan. James Cazier. Tom Kunzler. Altan Hardcastle. Warren Crane. Gene Hansen. Lorn Duff. I am sure there are more, many more. Thank God for good souls who reach out and connect with people. Who care more for others than they do for themselves. May God forever bless those who have affected my life and may I return the favor to all I come in contact with.

By small and simple means

Things continue to go very well for me.  I am blessed far beyond what I could hope for.  Sometimes it seems that things are slowing down, but things continue to move forward.
A great turn of events for me.  I have been invited to act in part of the role of assistant press secretary.  I do the clips and that takes a good hour of my day.  I enjoy it, I have my space in the mail office where I can do it.  It is an honor and I don’t mind working on a project that is solely my own.  For the rest of the time I am here, I will act in this position, unless they hire someone.  It is nice to have this because I can call it my own and I am not always depending on someone else to do their part or that someone else will do it.  I can do it, do it my own way, and there is not the little struggle if someone else wants it.  The best part is that I am respected more for being a part of the office, not just an intern to do the slightest whim of whoever wants.  I mean I still do, but they ask more politely and are more willing to work with me.
It is nice to have full access in my e-mailing to the whole office.  It is even better to have a window that I can look out and see the Supreme Court building.  In visiting with Chris, who is the press secretary, I have had a chance to get to know him some more.  He gave me a contact in Charlottesville too!  That will come in handy.  I have had numerous chances to visit with him now, and he keeps asking me questions.  I have enjoyed getting to know him more as well.
Today offered a unique opportunity.  If anyone happened to be watching the Finance Committee on CSPAN, they would have seen me enter the committee twice and present some paperwork to Senator Smith.  Both times I walked in as Senator Grassley was speaking.  Jacob said he saw me on the screen back in the office.  Now I can say I have been on official government tv now!  Anyhow, nothing special, but it was interesting.  I would not have known had it not been pointed out to me that they had seen me.  Funny how things are happening when we don’t realize it.
Today is also a little highlight in the life of Paul.  A tribute I wrote for the Senator about Rosa Parks will be entered into the Congressional Record.  Which means, while I cannot prove it was me, I have my words and work now represented in the official record of the United States Government.  I think that is exciting.  I hope I get another opportunity to write more.
The weather has continued to pour and pour and pour.  Apparently they are blaming some of it on the tailings of Wilma and Alpha.  Who knows.  I just know that I love it because it reminds me so much of the mission field.  Things are green and wet and yesterday I smelled a smell that reminded me so much of England.  Oh what I would not give to serve another mission, and especially in England.
Well, things are going very well.  Kathryn told me in the office that she appreciated how hard I work and that I am always working on something without having to be asked.  She said that was the reason why Chris asked me to help with the newspaper clips.  I am honored.  It is those little things that make all the difference.  I hope that I may always take care of the little things, and that great things will come to pass.  As my first mission president always said to me, “Take care of the pennies and the dollars take care of themselves.”  Thanks to President Bruce Stucki and Ted Tateoka, who drilled the scripture in Alma about the small and simple things home.  Hopefully I will never forget either lesson.