Stiffnecked

Today I sent my wife back across the country.  Seems a bit out of odds that I am sending off my wife for another month or so.  It seems more like she should be sending me away.  A mission?  Military?  Work travel?  I could not help but think of Engelbert Humperdink’s, “There Goes My Everything” as we said adios again.  As President Stucki would say, “There is no such thing as a good bye in the gospel.”  I believe it is true.  No matter what happens, we will meet up again.

I find myself even further from her now.  I am now in The Dalles, Oregon.  She is in Richmond, Virginia.  That puts us about 2,800 miles of separation in one day.  Don’t we live in a day of miracles?  I can visit with her without any more cost than my cell phone plan.  I spoke to her in Detroit, Minneapolis, Richmond, and a host of other places in the past month.  I am always impressed when I send out a dozen letters in one day all to different regions on the United States, or even the world, and know they will arrive there.  Most of them within 2 or 3 days.  That is a miracle to me.  As I type this up, on a free internet signal, in a hotel room, my computer connects to the internet and will make it available worldwide within seconds of my pressing the send button.  Every person in the world could read it if they wanted.  That is a miracle.

If you cannot tell, I have thought about miracles today.  I listened to some of Harold B Lee’s stories about miracles.  I thought about the miracles in my own life.  I even wrote of the miracle of the Book of Mormon in a recent blog.  They are all about us.  Somehow though, I get so busy in my life not to recognize them.

This leads me to the scripture I have thought about from the recent reading of the Book of Mormon.  This is another one of those scriptures I memorized that summer but have not been able to retain.

“And there are many among us who have many revelations, for they are not all stiffnecked.  And as many as are not stiffnecked and have faith, have communion with the Holy Spirit, which maketh manifest unto the children of men, according to their faith.”  (Jarom 1:4)

Far too often, I think I fall on the side of the stiffnecked.  In fact, I know I do.  I am just proud enough to miss so many of the blessings which could be easily obtained.  In some instances, more recognized.

There are plenty of ways in which I still need to repent and rise above the natural man.  Without beating up on myself too much, I do completely recognize that I am just humble and faithful enough to have some personal revelations of my own.  I end up with one or two in each journal, but they are there.  Meaning, I know that the Lord speaks to even me in my weakness.  Even in my weakness, I am abundantly blessed and am just humble enough to see some of those blessings and miracles all about me.

Monday, Monday

I remember a time with my Mission President, President Stucki gave a talk on constant perfection.  He made a comment that if we ever felt like we were comfortable, like we had things figured out, like we could sit back and relax it was a great sign we needed to rise up and repent.  Life is a process of constant repentance through improvement and progression.  Somehow I have really taken the counsel to heart and don’t like to feel comfortable.  There is always more to do, someone else’s life to bless, some work needing to be done.
My weeks of late have been filled with a whole host of events.  Tuesday nights finds me at the Family History Library.  I have been spending about a week an evening out with the missionaries.  The Home Teaching list with 6 families requires diligent effort, coordinating with the schedule of my 14 year old companion, and hoping some of them might come around.  There are two widows in the ward whose family history I am inputting on the computer and preparing for temple work.  That requires constant updating and exchanging of information ever week at church.  Preparing and teaching the Family History Class on Sunday.  I go visiting with President Hahn usually about once a week for the Elder’s Quorum Presidency.  Last week I gave a talk in church on Family History.  Tomorrow and Saturday we are preparing chili for the ward and work chili cook-off.  Creating a couple gallons of white chili takes hours in itself.  Chopping up those four huge onions kept my eyes watering for several hours.  A black tie event tomorrow night, costume party Saturday night, Squash on Monday nights.  I don’t feel like I have much time lately.  But I feel very fulfilled with my life at the moment.  I hope someday my life will be remembered like that of President Kimball (whose biography I finished earlier this month) where his life was like an old shoe, worn out in the service of others.
Amanda and I attended a wedding last Saturday and because the weeks have been so busy we had to run to the temple afterwards and come back that same evening.  The week before Amanda spent the whole weekend in Grundy.  The week before was General Conference, which was fantastic I might add.
Work has continually picked up and I am feeling like I have a pretty good grasp on the work and what is required.  I think I may have actually gone a day or two where I did not have to ask a question of a co-worker.  Then today the bombshell came.  Bank of America is doing away with the entire Wholesale Channel.  December 31st will be the last day of Wholesale’s existence.  Meaning, I am without employment January 1st.  Sure, I get a month’s pay for severance.  But hey, I just got hired on!  I started as an official Bank of America employee on October first after four months as a contractor.  Now on January 1st, I am starting over.  Geez, I will have spent more time as a contractor at Bank of America than as an actual associate.  What does the employment world hold for me next?  Will I find another position in Bank of America?  Will I stay in the mortgage industry?  Where will I work for the remaining 6 months I am in Richmond, Virginia?  At any rate, I have the next three months to find a new job.  (Two months at Bank of America, one month’s severance).  My Monday at work was just about to close since I had gone through the rough tumble of learning the in and out of a new job.  Now I get to start all over!
We have decided to take a trip to Europe in June of next year.  We are thinking of spending 3 weeks in Britain and 3 weeks in Northwestern Europe.  We would probably spend 2 weeks in the old mission visiting and staying with people, another week touring parts of Britain, then three weeks with Belgium as our home base.  Our friends James and Catherine Cazier have invited us over and we will probably crash with them at their home in Belgium.  So much of northwestern Europe is within a few hours of there.  I hope to quell Amanda’s desire to live in Paris and we both hope to see much of the storied lands.  I think we will have to skip Germany this time around since there are so many places I would like to personally visit for family history purposes (not for research, just to visit).  Amanda’s goal is to earn the money to pay for the tickets to Europe and then I will pay for the rest.  However, we will have to see how the trip looks as we get closer.  Hopefully we won’t miss a beat in preparing to meet our bills while away on vacation for 6 weeks and pay for the trip itself and then the move to wherever we will move for Law School.  So much depends on my finding a good, new job.  Hopefully not at a lower salary than the one I was earning with Bank of America.
For those who asked if I am still thinking about attending law school in England, the answer is no.  I had an answer to prayer that made it plainly manifest I was not to attend law school in England.  Despite the heartbreak it brought, there was a certain relief at not having to try and figure out the ramifications of attempting to do so.  We also found out that Amanda would find it virtually impossible to work in the UK as a hygienist.  Basically the UK now says no to any hygienist unless they are a EU citizen.  To qualify she would basically have to take half of her schooling over again and the cost would be too prohibitive.  One would think that a country where citizens pull their own teeth for a lack of dentists would openly welcome hygienists and dentists to immigrate.  Classic socialistic medicine at work!
Well, time to shut down.  I have to get up in the morning for a company that doesn’t want me anymore.  There is incentive to do a good job!  Talk about moral hazard temptations abounding all over the place.  Why should I care if I do a good job since there will certainly be no rewards.  What are they going to do?  Fire me.  Wait, they already are.  My incentive is not to care so much since job performance means nothing.  Who cares about customer satisfaction?  It will be a tough walk for all those involved.  Should I take my sick days while I can, even though I am not sick?  What about those paid vacation days I have accrued, use them all, now?  How much time should I dedicate to finding a new job?  It will be a temptation minefield to remain integrity, honesty, and dedication to the company who feels in most senses to have turned against us.  To remain proactive and pushing forward where there are very few incentives will be difficult.
What does the future hold now?  I haven’t had much time to relax and think I am content lately.  The next few months will probably hold even fewer.  The table now has to include job hunting.  I haven’t even completed writing the personal statement and applying to law school (which has some large costs as well, although Amanda tells me I can’t apply to California schools now).

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.