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.

Inlande Futures

I have been pretty slow to mention anything on here about the recent change of venue for employment.
My newest employment is with Inlande Environmental Resources, Inc. based out of Pasco, Washington.
As most of you know, I was laid off from Bank of America on 31 December 2007.  They were divulging themselves of the entire Wholesale division.  I was one of the fortunate few.  I applied for a number of positions within the bank but I later found out HR and a Hiring Manager had messed up.  They thought I was a closer instead of an assistant underwriter.  I was not seriously considered for the jobs I applied for.  I fought it some, but there are only so many positions and they were already filled.  Once again, Bank of America screwed something up.  I won’t even go into how they messed up my pay and severance package.  They withheld the equivalent of 32 hours of pay for some hiccough they had on their end.  I think I am glad to be done with them.
In the meantime of applying for different jobs, my Dad gave me a lead for Inlande.  I thought it couldn’t hurt to apply.  In the end, I ended up getting that job for 1/3 more salary, plus commission.  So I could not refuse it.  No other jobs offered employment in Richmond.  It was one of the only options open to me.
Part of the problem applying for a job in Richmond was the fact Amanda graduates in May.  With that, I would effectively quit my job to move west.  Who is going to hire somebody for 4 months?  I could not be dishonest when they asked how long I intended to stay with the company.  Add to that, the fact Amanda and I have already booked our tickets to Europe for 6 months from 4 June to 16 July.  Who wants to hire me then?  As soon as we arrived at the town I would be attending law school, I would then have to find employment for a month or two until school started.  The whole situation was not favorable.
Along came Inlande Environmental.  We made a trip for the interview.  It was more of a visit to the family.  I was interested in the job but it was so far away.  When would they want me to start and how long would Amanda and I have to live apart?
When I found out it was 1/3 more salary, plus commission it was more interesting.  It would be a change of industry from mortgage/finance to infrastructure/public utility.  That industry will not go away as long as humans need to consume water and remove their waste.  I was forthright about our 6 week vacation for the summer, the good chance of my getting in to law school, and attending law school in the fall.  They still thought I was worth the risk.
It looked fascinating to me to have a job that got me back into some chemistry.  That was an area I have been interested in for a long time.  (I took a chemistry book on my mission!  I never got around to studying or reading it though.)  Plus with the recent changes in the mortgage and finance industries I wanted to get out of such a shifting environment.  Add to the fact my new job would not keep me confined in an office and I was definitely hooked.
The major difficulty was in the distance.  Amanda would have to remain in Richmond while I moved to Idaho.  The position is for a Regional Sales Manager for Utah and Southern Idaho.
Amanda has a number of rotations coming up in which she would be gone for several days at a time.  In addition, she wanted to start studying for her boards a couple hours every night.  With my being gone, she could study for long hours without the need to be concerned about me.  I also would not be the constant distraction I am for her.
After the offer, we determined it was not an offer we could pass up.  Nothing else came as close to looking as good.  Richmond is expensive and we could not afford a drop in pay.  I really didn’t want to spend a month job hunting because the loss of income would really cut our options for our trip to Europe for the summer.  Employment had to continue for us.
This put one of us closer to scope out places to live when we decide where we will be moving for the fall.  It helps me get out some more of the traveling bug that constantly haunts me.  The requirement to travel and a company vehicle with fuel had me jumping with excitement.  This job will have me traveling all over the entire state of Utah, Southern Idaho, and Western Wyoming.  Not to mention the occasional trip to Washington.  I certainly have a few places to stop as I am traveling through.
Amanda can focus solely on school and I can really do the heavily traveling required to lay some foundations.  Even if I decide against law school or am not accepted, I will have done the initial legwork so I won’t be required to travel as much when Amanda joins me.
It will not be an easy task.  I have no worries that Amanda and I will make it through it.  We will get to see each other about once a month until that time.  Anything we may lose in 4 months apart I certainly am sure we will make up in 1 1/2 months of traveling through Europe.
Most people look at me like we are crazy.  Like I have left my wife and this will be the end of it all.  For some reason I feel more pity on the people who feel that way.  I am not concerned for my marriage like they seem to indicate they would be for theirs.  Sure, I don’t want to be away from my wife.  However, we both recognize this as our best option and felt that heaven was directing us this way.  We can talk daily.  We can e-mail.  All is not lost.  Our engagement we spent equivalent time apart and were able to overcome that obstacle.
I now find myself in Idaho.  What does the future hold?  I am not entirely sure.  A couple of law schools have declined me already.  There are a few more to hear from.  We shall wait and see.  At any rate, Amanda and I will be reunited this summer and pressing forward for whatever life presents then.  This job could be one with definite long range potential.  More doors are opening than are closing with this time apart.

Philadelphia

I have just added nearly 70 more pictures to the newest album.  It is the 2008 album and has been appropriately named.  As we continue through the year, I will do like I did with the Virginia Living album and put the most recent photos at the front.
The pictures all come from our most recent trip to Washington, D.C. and Philadelphia.  There are photographs from the U.S. Capitol, Washington Cathedral, Independence Hall, Congress Hall, Carpenter’s Hall, and other sites in Philadelphia.  Amanda and I drove up Thursday evening to Kensington, Maryland and stayed with my Uncle Donald and Aunt Lolane Andra.  We worked in the Washington D.C. Temple Friday morning and then went to visit the Capitol and Cathedral.  Saturday morning we arose early and drove to Philadelphia by way of Delaware and New Jersey.  Philadelphia for the most part was a beautiful day.  It was a bit brisk at moments but they were not long lasting.
We were fortunate to not have any long lines for us to wait.  We entered most of the buildings very quickly and in some instances had the building almost to ourselves.
It was a great little get away weekend.  This coming weekend we are headed off to Williamsburg.  What will be in store for us there?

Photo Album for Thanksgiving 2007

The photo album that I just placed up a few hours ago are all photos Lolane Andra took.  She and Donald came down after Thanksgiving and spent a couple of days with us.  We went around and saw a bunch of the sites.  So you will see a pretty good variety of locations.  Lewis Ginter Botanical Gardens, Jamestown, Monticello, Confederate White House, Hollywood Cemetery, and who knows what else.  I put most of the pictures up.  Enjoy!  You may recognize a couple of the photos as very common to other photos in other albums that we took.

Report for Thanksgiving

Here is a short update of what has been happening the past few weeks.
Thanksgiving Day we spent at Uncle Don and Lolane Andra’s home in Kensington, Maryland.  We enjoyed a wonderful Thanksgiving meal with them and the rest of the Rock Creek Ward.  We really enjoyed ourselves although we did not get to take home any left overs.  They came down to Richmond that evening and spent Friday through Monday with us.  Amanda took them to Monticello, we went to Jamestown Settlement on Saturday, Sunday we toured some of Richmond, and Monday we went to Shirley Plantation.  The highlight in the whole thing was taking them to church with us and meeting up for lunch with Sister Andra on Monday.  Sister Andra is Donald’s brother’s granddaughter, my second cousin.  It was a new idea for me to be at lunch with three missionaries and they are all related to me!  Please notice the picture I posted of us in the Virginia Living and Andra Family Albums.
Amanda has been a little stressed with finals coming this week.  So there has been a juggling act of sorts here at the Ross apartment.  I put my first application in for law school last night.  We we start the mad rush of applications and then the hurry up and wait game.  I guess I better start putting some more effort into securing employment after the new year.
In other news, I received a message from the detective for mother’s case.  I very much appreciate his goodness and comments.  I did have a few questions to ask of him and I hope he will respond.  Perhaps we can put to rest a few questions I have had lingering over these years.

Berkeley and Shirley

In introducing the new photos just uploaded, Amanda and I decided to take a trip a bit off the beaten path and stop at Berkeley and Shirley Plantations.  Both of them hold significance in the history of America.  Just because back then many of the noble families intermarried among each other there are numerous links to various known families.
Berkeley Plantation was also known as Harrison Landing.  It is here at Harrison Landing the ship landed in 1619 having come from England.  According to the dictates of those who sent them, when they reached the shore, they were to drop and give Thanksgiving for having made it safely.  It is also here at Berkeley that Bourbon Whiskey was first made by a Priest.  The other notable first for Berkeley is “Taps” was written there in about 1862.  It is named after Richard Berkeley.  After the Berkeley Hundred was abandoned after an Indian massacre the home was taken over by the Harrison Family in the 1630’s.  It was through this Harrison line that Benjamin Harrison was born, the signer of the Declaration of Independence.  He is buried in the graveyard.  Interesting to note, the first 10 Presidents of the United States were entertained and stayed at Berkeley Plantation.  It just happens the 9th President, William Henry Harrison, was born at Berkeley.  It was in the same room he was born that he wrote his inauguration speech.  The one in which he gave despite the weather to prove he was not too old to be President.  He caught cold and died about 30 days into his Presidency.  The shortest Presidency still, the first President to die in office, and he was for almost 150 years the oldest President to be elected to office.  It was his grandson, Benjamin Harrison, who would become our 23rd President (during whose term Idaho became a state).  During the Civil War McClellan camped 140,000 troops here.  During this time President Lincoln visited and entered the home.  It was in these camps ‘Taps” was written.  Anyhow, Berkeley was very interesting to visit.  It was a cold day so there were few visitors.  The lady selling tickets saw my Zion’s card in paying and asked where were were from.  She taught English for many years at Mountain View and has moved to Virginia, where she was born.  Small world isn’t it?
Shirley Plantation is not far up the road.  It is part of what was the Shirley Hundred.  It claims to be the oldest plantation in America (1622) and the oldest family owned business.  The Shirley’s who were given the Shirley Hundred were on their way to Virginia when Mr. Shirley died in the Azores on the way over.  The rest of the family went home not wanting to venture to the wilderness without him.  The property was sold and the Hill’s acquired.  After a generation or two the Hill’s had no male heirs so it went through the daughter who married a Carter.  It is through this Carter line Anne Carter was born, mother of Robert Edward Lee.  Robert was raised here, but he certainly spent a good deal of time there growing up and receiving some of his schooling in this house.  During the Civil War the Plantation became a place where the Union Troops placed their injured after the Malvern Hill battles.  Those at Shirley Plantation went out to tend and take care of the injured soldiers and earned the respect of General McClellan.  In return for their efforts he assigned soldiers to protect the home from being burned and pillaged as many other homes were during the Civil War.  Today, descendants of the Carter’s (and Hill’s) still live in the home making it the 11th or 12th generation.  That possibly of itself makes it the longest family owned home in America.
There was some definitely instructive and pleasing things learned at Berkeley and Shirley.  They were fascinating really.

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).