Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Working in the Albuquerque Temple

As mentioned in earlier posts, I now work Wednesday evenings in the Albuquerque LDS temple, pictured here from the front (left, facing Eubank Blvd.), and from the back (right, where the main entrance is located). It is not large as some temples go, but it is large compared to most of the temples being built currently, as it has two stand-alone ordinance rooms, three sealing rooms, two initiatory stations for both the brothers and the sisters, a chapel, a decent-sized baptistry, a laundry, and a cafeteria. I've come to enjoy very much my service in the temple, especially now that I've learned the basic ordinances and thus far have officiated a couple of endowment sessions. I've even memorized the initiatory ordinances in Spanish, although I may not ever have occasion to administer them on Wednesdays; however, one of the two monthly Spanish endowment sessions takes place every fourth Wednesday evening, and I look forward to helping out there.

Why do I enjoy serving in the temple? I think there are several reasons. One, the temple is a very peaceful, spiritual place, and I simply like to be there. Two, my service has a very definite start time and ending time every week, and I don't have to agonize over what I'm not doing when I'm not there. And three, in the temple we're all pretty much equal once we pass the recommend desk; after that, there's almost nothing else that denotes or connotes relative "worthiness" among members, unlike Sunday worship and one's other interactions with the members of his ward. It's sad to say, but if I could work two shifts in the temple every week in exchange for taking a pass on Sunday meetings, I'd consider it a bargain!

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

My Mother's 88th Birthday

Today is my mother Wanda Kartchner's 88th birthday. I don't know what to write to pay an adequate tribute to Mom, but I do remember giving a talk about her in sacrament meeting about half-way through my stay in the MTC. I described how, when I was a small child, she often sat up with me at night as I experienced horrible growing pains (or what she and I used to call "legaches"), applying hot, moist towels to my legs to lessen the discomfort. I compared the experience of becoming a missionary to childhood, stating that the Savior would do as my mother had done -- assuage our "spiritual growing pains" with comforting reassurance -- if we would put our trust in him. It wasn't the first time in my life that I thought of my mother as a Christ-like individual, and it certainly hasn't been the last.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

"I can't believe this is really happening to me" -
My First Day at the MTC

I mentioned in my last post that it's now been thirty years since I entered the Missionary Training Center in Provo, Utah. This photo should be good for a laugh or two, as the expression on my face precisely reflects the mood I was in that day. The fact that the person who took the photo (probably my sister Kristen) shot it slightly off-kilter only adds to my Twilight-Zonish memories of the day when I said good-bye to my parents for two years, which at that point in my life might as well have been twenty. (I remember thinking that they should have had a sign over the doorway that said "Abandon hope, all ye who enter here.") I really did want to serve a mission and was as prepared for it as I would ever be, but for me there was nothing easy about taking that first leap! Luckily, I had already spent my freshman year of college away from home, and so I was able to adjust quickly to my new routine.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Post-Holiday Blues

Today is the last day before I have to go back to work after eleven days out of the office. It's really hard not to be depressed about the end of the long holiday break, especially with so much uncertainty at work right now due to ongoing personnel changes. However, one of the great things about being employed at Sandia National Laboratories is being able to work a "9/80" schedule, under which I get every other Friday off -- and I have this Friday off! I'm hoping to plan out a couple of trips in the next few months, perhaps to Las Vegas next month and then to Utah during spring break. (The attached photo shows me assembling one of my Christmas gifts, an office chair. Man, I'm looking more like my father all the time!)

I didn't get to do most of the things this last week that I wanted to do, but we did succeed in re-painting our bedroom and re-arranging the bed and furnishings. (We painted the room in darker colors, gold and burgundy, which, if nothing else, make it seem more like a place to sleep.) I bought a new "old" Line 6 Spider 210 amplifier on eBay -- sort of a Christmas present to myself -- to replace the Spider 112 that blew up on me. (I missed the tones and effects of the Spider 112, which my Spider II 112 doesn't quite produce.) I also bought most of the "MXC" television shows on DVD, and we've spent a lot of time watching "the world's toughest competition in town."

Devery and Easton spent about ten days with us, and I had fun visiting with them. Devery has now graduated from BYU and has accepted a full-time IT position with the LDS Church in Salt Lake City. Except for the heinous daily bus commute from Provo to SLC and back, which will make for long work days and additional time away from home, it sounds like a good situation for Devery that should enable them to get Easton through school with little or no financial hardship. (Reportedly, the church is planning to move at least some of its database operations, including Devery's position, to Riverton in the next several months, which would at least shorten her commute somewhat.)

Our gym Defined Fitness is about finished, finally, with its remodeling and expansion -- and it has acquired about twenty brand-new treadmills (hopefully, they'll replace the rest of the old equipment soon), which I'm hoping will encourage me to go more often in 2009. I ran a total of 424 miles on the treadmill in 2008, which isn't too bad considering how many nights I skipped the gym due to physical exhaustion caused by sleeping poorly. (I'm still struggling to stay off hypnotic sleep meds, but sometimes it's all I can do during the day not to collapse in a heap.)

This last week also marked several milestones in the family of my in-laws, the P______s. Hillery married her long-time boyfriend Kevin John in the Albuquerque Temple on the 27th, and their reception was held that night at the P_____ s' home. Aaron got his church mission call to the Russia Moscow West Mission, and he received his temple endowment on the 26th at the same time as Hillery. Brendon, who's attending dental school at Ohio State University, blessed his baby boy Kent in sacrament meeting on the 28th. On my side of the family, my niece Andrea's husband, Kevin Cupp, was baptized and confirmed the weekend before Christmas.

Given that the temple was closed the last two Wednesday evenings due to the Christmas and New Year's holidays, I volunteered to work a shift on Friday morning. I'm continuing to make progress in learning the temple ordinances and have the initiatory ordinances memorized. I can "follow" an endowment session but have not yet "officiated." I know the veil ceremony in Spanish, but I plan to learn the Spanish initiatory as well. I'm still hoping that the promises made to me in my setting apart will be fulfilled -- that working at the temple will help me (a) to develop more affinity for other church members and (b) to set a good example for my family.

Today marks thirty years since I began my church mission by entering the Missionary Training Center in Provo, Utah for a two-month stay in preparation for going to Chile. It seems incredible that so much time has passed, but then I've really started feeling my age lately. What seems odd now is that "only" four years passed between the end of my mission and my marriage, a period that seemed interminable then but now seems like a mere moment in time. Darren is approaching the 16-month mark of his mission, leaving only eight months to go; I experienced perhaps my greatest trials at about that stage of my mission, but I hope Darren is having an easier go of things!

The two posts below are music playlists from ""; the first consists of some of my favorite 80s music, and the second contains most of my favorite mid-60s "garage rock" tunes. The sound quality isn't uniformly good, but I hope you enjoy listening!