Friday, June 25, 2010

Our Biggest Adventure YET!

Well, maybe parenthood should get that classification, but this is certainly a close second...

As some of you may or may not know, Ben and I have been hoping, praying, working, and waiting for a particular job offer.  And today it came, and we couldn't be more excited.  Ben has accepted a position to teach Math and Japanese at an American naval base in Japan, Yokosuka Naval base to be exact.  

It's something that we have felt very strongly about for the past 18 months and it is so gratifying to see the evidence of our prayers, faith, and hard work (not to mention the prayers of many loved ones).  We'll probably leave around August 1st, and luckily since we have been living with Ben's parents for the last year, the majority of our stuff is already in boxes.  Here's some quick answers to questions you might have:

Ben served his mission in Fukuoka, Japan (the southernmost bit), so we won't be totally lost in then language and culture.

It was my idea to apply for the job in the first place, so yes, I'm beyond excited.

Yokosuka is about an hour train ride south of Tokyo (see map here: )

In all likelihood we will not be living on base as they have a housing shortage, though we will still be able to go on base and use all the facilities there (like American style shopping and the hospital). The lovely thing is that they will cover our rent and utilities!  Woohoo!  They will also pay for our travel and the shipment of our "household goods."  

The contract is for two years, though we most likely will try to stay there for a few "tours of duty."  But we'll come back to visit during the summer!

They drive on the left hand side of the road.  We'll see how that goes over for me...

Yes, you can come visit us!  But not all at once please.

It felt kind of like receiving a mission call.  Only the packet was HUGE!  And chock full of government forms.  Well, something to keep us busy I guess.

Summer (and Ben and Eleanor, who is totally oblivious to the whole thing, but is excited cause we're excited)

 Eleanor, who is totally oblivious to the whole thing, but is excited cause we're excited.  And she loves peas.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Five Years

It's been five years to the day since I entered the Missionary Training Center to be a missionary for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.  What a wonderful, difficult, sacred experience that was!  I am incredibly grateful I had the opportunity to serve my Savior and my brothers and sisters in such a unique capacity.
I was called to the Alaska Anchorage Mission, English speaking, though many of you know that after 6 weeks I was called to the Spanish Branch in Anchorage and spent the next 9 months working with the wonderful Spanish speaking population in Alaska (yes there are actually LOTS of Spanish speakers in Alaska, and yes I learned Spanish is Alaska which is very strange).  Though I live in Texas now, I am proud to remind Texans that if Alaska was cut in half, then Texas would become the third largest state instead of the second.  So take that.

The MTC was unique for me because I had spent the four previous years working there, as a student supervisor in the cafeteria.  My best friend, Tiffanie, worked there, my Aunt Lisa worked there, I was buddies with the MTC president, and the mailroom lady.  In short, going to the MTC was like going home.  Plus my cool brother Jonathan entered the MTC just two weeks after me on his was to the California Roseville Mission.  Here I am with all but one (Daniel) of my incredibly good looking brothers when they were dropping off Jonathan.
(Philip is now serving a mission in Denver Colorado, which is pretty cool!)

I spent the next 18 months serving the amazing people of Alaska, learning another language, learning to cope with darker, colder winters and longer, wetter summers.  But mostly I spent 18 months learning more about my Savior Jesus Christ, His love for me, and His infinite love for each us.  I came to better appreciate His life as I spent all my time devoted to teaching others about Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ, the plan of salvation, and the restoration of Christ's gospel to the earth in it's entirety.  I know the things I taught are true.  I knew it had brought immense peace to my own life, but to watch it light up the lives of others was true a miracle and a blessing.

Plus, I had lots of fun.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

The Men in My Life

I have been very blessed to have wonderful examples of righteous men and fathers in my life.  How thankful I am for each of them and the ways they have blessed me.  In particular, my own father and my husband have been sources of strength and inspiration.

My Dad
My dad is funny.  Really really funny, and rather silly too.  I have fond memories of him making up new lyrics to songs while driving in the car.  They were usually rather ridiculous, but we all laughed.  He taught me a love of history, geography, geology, and lots of other "y's."  He knows a little bit about a lot of things, which I always thought was cool, and so now when ever I spout random tidbits of trivia, Ben knows where I get it from.  

My dad has a firm testimony of the gospel of Jesus Christ.  Here we are on my baptism day.  I felt so small compared to him (which wasn't difficult since he is large in stature), but so safe and I knew how proud he was for the choices I was making.  I remember walking to school with him sometimes and feeling like I was nearly running just to keep up. But it was always worth it.  I knew I wanted to marry someone like my dad.

My Ben
He's my very best friend.  We've yet to have an argument, partially because we are both so non-confrontational, but mostly because we are always on the same plane.   Because my dad could sing and dance I always thought it would be nice to have that in a husband, but certainly not necessary.  Ben has many talents, singing not the least among them, and they all conspire to make him my perfect match in every way, my favorite flavor of ice cream with all my favorite toppings.  I remember my dad saying that he knew Ben was right for me because I could be myself around him, and that is perfectly true.  He is hardworking, and honest, and funny.  Really really funny, and rather silly too.
When we first were married he was a little nervous about becoming a father because he's the youngest in his family and felt like he didn't have a lot of experience with children.  I think it comes to him pretty naturally.  I love watching him play with Ellie, rolling around on the ground or tossing her in the air.  He's become a natural at changing diapers, even as Ellie gets wigglier.  I know he will be the kind of example to our daughter that my father was to me.  And hopefully one day Ellie will find some man that reminds her of all of the wonderful qualities of her own father.  When she does, I know that she'll have made an excellent choice.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

The Waiting Game

Many of you know that I'm not a particularly patient person, and if you didn't, well, you do now.  So last year when Ben was getting ready to graduate and I was considerably bigger with a baby in my belly we were applying for jobs.  In particular, we were hoping for a job with the Department of Defense teaching in a high school on a military base in Japan.  And that is really where we felt like Heavenly Father wanted us.

Fast forward over a year, and here we are in Melissa Texas still trying to make decisions and get that coveted job.  We still feel as though the Lord is guiding us and we are where we are supposed to be.  It was been wonderful to be here, near Ben's family, and in our fantastic ward.  We've certainly learned a lot and grown in many ways.  But we still feel the call to Japan.  And I can't keep my mouth shut any longer.  I'll spare you the suspense by saying we don't have a job yet, but stuff has been happening.  I can certainly see the Lord's hand at work and it's marvelous.  I just need to get this out of my system or I'll pop.

Every few months Ben would email the principals in Japan reminding them of how awesome he is, that he speaks Japanese, how much he wants to work for them, and how available he is.  It seems to have paid off.  In April a principal emailed him back and said he "may have a position that fits his unique certifications."  Namely, he needs a math teacher that can also teach Japanese.

Ben isn't yet qualified to teach Japanese, but he did minor in it and will be taking his certification test next week.  It's funny because Ben had stopped taking Japanese classes post-mission after he got his "free credits."  But he felt prompted while we were dating that he needed to minor in it.  So, ever heedful to the Spirit, he did.  It wasn't easy, but he worked his tail off and did it.

Back to current events, Ben and the principal have been communicating via email for several weeks, and on Friday the principal called and interviewed him.  It's clear that Ben doesn't have a lot of competition (really, Math and Japanese!  That's asking a lot), so we continue to feel quite optimistic, despite the fact that Ben is a newer teacher and therefore lower in their hiring sites.  But we should know in the next two weeks if the job is in fact ours.  And then it's hello Yokosuka, Japan!  It's about an hour south of Tokyo.

It's quite amazing the way things seem to have worked out for this.  It certainly isn't the path that Ben and I had envisioned, but it as been the best path for us I believe.  I'm so grateful for the hand of the Lord in our lives, and especially that I have a husband who is sensitive and obedient to the promptings of the Spirit.  Truly, whatever happens with this job, I know it's for the best because we've put it in God's hands, and that is definitely the safest place to be.

I told Ben that he should send a picture of Ellie in his thank you email to convince the principal to give him the job.  Because really, how could you refuse these faces!

Also for your entertainment, some videos.

Sorry the quality isn't the greatest on this one, it was from my cell phone.  But this is what she does whenever she hears music.