Sunday, July 24, 2011

She has an old soul....

On June 27th, Layla Rae Davis was born.  What a day!  On Sunday night, Elise and Bradley had been over for dinner.  At about 9:30 PM ALL of the girls (Mariah, Elle and Dominique) wanted to go sleep over with Bradley and Elise.  Poor Elise never did go to sleep that night.  She started having contractions, and she went into the hospital in the wee small hours of the morning.  Later that morning, Dean went to pick the girls up and took Mariah up to the hospital to wait.

I think I had 6 meetings that day.  I started moving meetings off of my calendar because I knew that this was the day that the baby would be born.  Mercifully, I was home that day (not traveling). 

After a long day, the doctor decided that there were some questions about the baby's condition and that it was safest to take her c-section.  Dominique and I were at Harmon's getting cake, cupcakes, flowers...and all of that stuff when we got the call from Bradley.  We started making calls and hustling as quickly as we could out of there.  Dominique, Elle and I arrived with goodies in hand to the waiting room.  Less than 10 minutes later, we were able to see Layla for the very first time through the window of the nursery.

She is a BEAUTIFUL baby girl.  She weighted only 5 pounds, 4 oz, and she was 18 1/2 inches long.  Did I mention how beautiful she is?  Wow!  What a little blessing.

Here are a few pictures either taken on the day of her birth or within the first 24 hours.  Did I mention that she has an old soul?  This is only my opinion, of course, but the first time I held her, I thought that.  I still do.  I love to hold her and look at her.  She's a wiggler when she's awake.  She's a beauty when she's sleeping...but then again...I'm kind of biased!

Can you tell how much we all lover her??? 

Thursday, July 14, 2011

On this day in 1993....

The following is a journal entry from my mission journal. 

Wendy S. Danley
Austria Vienna Mission
Zagreb, Croatia

July 14, 1993

Well, this has been the scariest night of my life.  I actually felt that I was going to be seriously injured or possibly die.  It was such a feeling of “out-of-my-control,” and I was scared.  I was really, really scared.  I hate to be out of control of a situation. 

Let me back track a little bit.  Sister Platt and I went to Karlovac today for the first time.  The elders there had planned a nice fireside for the members and non-members.  We took the 3:30 PM bus out of Zagreb and arrived in Karlovac at the bus station at about 4:10 PM.  Elder Summers and Elder Van Woerkam took us to the centar of town where the Serbian church had been destroyed.  I mean—it was destroyed.  The steeple still stood, but the place had been gutted out an only partial walls were left standing.  We entered in the back way and took pictures.  Then between the church and an apartment building, we walked through a pile of trash that appeared as if it has been thrown out the windows.  Refugees inhabit those apartments.  The stench was quite unpleasant, and we walked quickly to the exit—which was a wooden plank over a pile of glass and dirt. 

Then on to the street board.  The street board looks awesome, and we really had some success.  I met a great girl named Maja—more on her later.

Well, we set up for the fireside at the Klub 90—a little dig in the center of town which I think functions as the city hall.  The fireside was OK.  The music was beautiful, but honestly (and I make this out to be nothing more or less than it really was), the Spirit of God was not there.  I know this will probably sound like just another good additive to the story, but in all sincerity, I did not feel the Spirit—at all.  President Valek kept on talking and talking.  You could say that he was much like Ammon when he was teaching King Lamoni---teaching everything from Adam (literally) to Ezra Taft Benson.  It was way long and boring.  About 8:35 PM or so, I heard the first bomb go off.

It sounded exactly like how it sounds at the 4th of July when they light off those industrial fireworks.  The sound is pretty ingrained in me.  Oh well, I never much liked going to the fireworks anyway.  In my mind I thought, “So this is the bombing that they talk about here in Karlovac.”  It sounded pretty close, but it really didn’t bother me too bad.  I honestly thought it was normal.  It wasn’t normal.

I looked at Colson, and he looked a little “concerned.”  Ivancica grabbed my hand.  Then two more bombs went off, and I really knew this was abnormal.  Ivancica squeezed my hand tighter and tighter.  Almost simultaneously, everyone stood up and Sharp said, “We need to get outta here.”  There’s no telling this girl twice.  I headed directly for my bag and headed out the door.  There was a younger man at the fireside who seemed to know what to do.

The sirens went off before we got to the door.  Sister Platt and I were both so anxious to get out of the door that we both got our bags stuck, and it made it difficult for us.  That was the source of much comical relief later (but not then).  Some one was yelling “hajd’ brzo! Brzo!”  Which means, “go, fast, fast.”

Some source made me run relatively fast, and we turned the corner at the left.  Sister Platt was hauling.  I turned back and no one was there.  FREAK!  I thought the elders would be following us. 

I was not going without the elders.  I yelled for Sister Platt to come back.  There was a shoe store with an all-glass front and several people were just gathered in the entrance to the store.  We were like a bunch of scared rabbits with nowhere to go.

[July 15] next day (I was too tired to finish this last night)

So, we all gathered in together.  I was huddled right next to Elder Colson, and he was scared, too.  The glass front of the store window looked pretty uninviting to random bombs.  It seemed like we stood there forever.  It got worse and worse every time I heard the sound of a bomb being launched.  I felt unprotected and unsafe just standing there on the street.  My heart was racing, but my mind was zooming at 200 km/hr.  I thought, “This is not supposed to happen on your mission.” 

Finally, someone got the idea to break the store window and take shelter inside.  Daniel (a man) kept yelling, “Ne s rukom!”  Good thing I understand Croatian!  That means, “Not with the hand.”  Colson kicked the window hard four times and it didn’t bust.  He was carrying and overnight carry on bag which was like a suit bag (garment bag).  He shoved it through the window and glass shattered everywhere.  We climbed through the broken glass and scampered to find a place to hide.  Unfortunately, there was no basement.  We ran behind a big, tall set of shelves where they stock the shoes.  The store looked like this:

We laid there as the bombs kept going off.  Colson said, “Are you OK, Sister Platt?”  She said yes and then asked if I was OK.  I indicated that I was.  The I said, “Elder Colson, I know this sounds strange, but I feel safer with the priesthood here.  Are you worthy?”

“Yes, I am,” he replied, “ and proud of it!” Colson said, “It’s OK to be proud of it, isn’t it?”  Sister Platt said, “In this case, yes!”  My voice was all shaky, but I was still able to laugh.

Three little girls who had been playing nearby at a friend’s house joined us in our shoe storage area.  The bombs kept up, and we immediately had to lie down.  One little girl, Senka, was especially upset.  She was crying and kept saying things about her mom and dad.  Daniel came over and told her that this was a war and this was life.  He then told her she should stop crying.  That, of course, didn’t help.

I put my arms around her and hugged this little girl whom I did not know.  I said to Sister Platt, “Everything is going to be OK.  I feel the Spirit, and I’m calm inside.”  She said, “I’m calm inside, too.”  My body was shaking, but my spirit was calm.  I can’t explain it.  I was very scared, but I knew everything would be OK.  I told Senka that everything would be fine.  She still was not comforted.  I found out that she is only 12 years old.  Wow.  That put everything into perspective for me.  No wonder she was so scared.

I asked her if she believed in Jesus.  She said yes.  I asked her if she believed in God.  She said yes.  I asked her if we could say a prayer together.  She agreed.  We all knelt right there in our little fortress of shoes---me Sister Platt, Senka and her two little friends.

I said the prayer.  I pleaded with Heavenly Father to help us have the Spirit with us that we wouldn’t be afraid [sic] and that we would all be safe.  I asked God to bless Senka’s mom and dad, too.  During the prayer, there was a lot of yelling going on between Daniel and the elders.  I’m sure they were trying to figure out what to do.  After the prayer, little Senka was a little better.  She breathed deeply as if to release tension from her 12-year- old little body.  She ceased to cry.  I felt better.  I know our prayers were heard.  I know it.

The elders came in and said that they were going to find a safer place, and they went to look for a bomb shelter.  Sister Platt said, “I have a game.”  We all sat in a circle and played a gesture game she knew called “Oy!”  It was fun, and it took the girls’ minds off of the bombing which seemed to stop for the moment. 

The girls pleaded with us to take them out of Karlovac.  It sure did pull at my heartstrings.  Colson came back and said in a soft voice, “Sharp went to get the Halgren’s car, and yuo two are leaving with them.  It’ll be about two minutes!  Be ready!”  The girls understood English perfectly, and they knew we were going to leave them.  They started to cry and ask us to take them.  Senka asked, “Do you have two cars?”  I told her that we only had one, but she would be OK.  We kept playing the game to distract them.

I said to Senka, “See this name tag (referring to my missionary tag)?  This means we’re missionaries for Jesus Christ, and God doesn’t want us to die.”

Shortly after that, Daniel came in and told us all to run for the bomb shelter.  We got to the store entrance and the elders were saying, “Don’t run!”  Then I looked to the right and here came Elder Sharp driving the Halgren’s car down this empty street.

He looked funny.  He turned the car around, and we all jumped in.  The Halgrens are pretty slow going.  No one was getting in the car.  Sister Platt went to get in, and I got in the other side and so did Zeljko (at the same time).  We butted heads in the middle.  I couldn’t figure out if we looked more like a war movie or the 3 Stooges---probably the later!  Without humor, this would have been a lot more stressful for me.

I said to Elder Sharp, “If I never told you before, I love you, Elder Sharp!”  He flashed a big Sharp grin and went back over to the other elders.  Then Brother Halgren was messing with the dumb car lock for the steering wheel.  It seemed to take forever, but it was probably only 30 seconds.  I kept saying, “Go! Go!  Please, Go!”  I remember President Robert Halmi standing on the sidewalk telling us to Go!  He looked pretty anxious.  Finally we left, and I started singing, “Come, Come Ye Saints.”  Once again---comic relief.  We finally got out of Karlovac, and we approached a tollbooth---they waved us through and said, “bez karte” which means “without card”—as in “don’t stop”!  We didn’t, and for the first time in my life, I was thankful that Brother Halgren drives like a bat out of hell.  We cruised.  Finally, I was relieved when I knew we were out of danger.

We talked about it all the way home.  After dropping off Zeljko, the Halgrens dropped us off.  We were safely home within 25 minutes.  Karlovac isn’t very far away from here, and my entire perspective has changed.  Boy!  We sure did pick a good day.  I can’t imagine living in that mess.  The pictures that Sister Platt and I had taken suddenly had meaning.  They weren’t just there for missionaries to take pictures.  They were real. 

People lived there, and some had even died there.  It’s all real!

Ohhhh!  I came home and called Elder Benson.  He listened and said, “That’s a great story and all, Sister Danley, but get off the phone, I’m calling President.”  Elder Colson called President from the bomb shelter in Karlovac where they had moved to.  Poor Pres.  He got it bad, and I’m sure his night was a little restless.

This morning the elders called and said that Pres was pulling them out.  Good thing.  The bombing lasted all night long.  The elders stayed in the bomb shelter until 1:00 AM when things calmed down a little.  They went back to their apartment, and the shelling resumed.  They said the shelling lasted until 6:30 AM this morning.

They are going to take pictures, and then they’re leaving. 

Akkk!  Well.  I love my mission.  I love the Lord, and I live His work.  I know he hears and answers prayers.  The Spirit is real.  I’m thankful for all of my many blessings. 

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Letting go of things does not mean letting go of the memories...

Seven and a half years ago, my dear friend, Wendy Sue Huntsman unexpectedly passed away.  I was devastated.  I met Wendy in 1996...not long after I moved to Utah.  We were co-workers at the University of Utah, but more importantly, she became one of my closest friends.  We shared a physical office space, and we shared many of the details of our lives.

I give Wendy full credit for forwarding me a job posting in 1997.  I applied for that job, and I still have it 14 years later.  I have had a wonderful career.  I give Wendy all of the credit for that.

Our relationship grew into a friendship outside of office hours. One of the things we loved to do was make handmade holiday cards.  We bought rubber stamps and hundreds of dollars in supplies to support our craft habit.  We would hole up at Wendy's kitchen table ALL DAY.  Seriously,  I remember one time when we sent her husband, Doug, out for lunch AND dinner so that we didn't have to move.  We got up only to eat and go to the bathroom.  We had SO.MUCH.FUN....and so many great memories.

We started creating "card worthy" St. Patrick's Day and 4th of July just because we loved making cards so much.

When I left the U in 1998, we still continued to craft. We joined the big league crafters and went to stamp conventions in Las Vegas!  We'd fly down on Southwest, stay in a crappy hotel and buy lots of stuff to support our habit of stamping.

I never realized how much I cherished Wendy's friendship until she passed.  Her death hit me quite hard.  There were many times after her passing that I wanted to pick up the phone and tell her something.  It was tough realizing that she wasn't there.  So, I took to just talking out loud to her.  I believe that our spirits leave our bodies and exist still.  I believe that our bodies will some day be resurrected and reunited with our spirits.  It made sense to me that Wendy was out there somewhere.  So, I just started talking to her.  That really helped.

I haven't made holiday cards since Wendy's passing.  I felt that it wouldn't be the same without her, and I didn't want to betray such a wonderful memory that I have with her.  That was "our thing."  How could I ever do that activity with someone else.

I've held on to my stamps for all of these years.  Every once in a while, the kids pull them out and do something with them, but they clearly don't have the passion for the craft (or obsession) that I once had.

A few weeks ago, I was with a co-worker who, I found, loves to craft AND does some rubber stamping.  I knew when we had our conversation that it was finally time.  I went through my stamps today, and I sent about 20 of them off to her.  I felt like, for the first time, I could part with them because someone would love and appreciate them.  I didn't give all of them away; I still have quite a stash.  I couldn't quite part with the ones that still had some tender memories attached.  I told myself that I would "try" to make Christmas cards this year. (I have NO idea how I will accomplish that unless I start this JULY.) But I told myself I would try to jump back on the wagon.

Giving away my stamps is not giving away my memories of Wendy.  If anything, it is passing along the good times and joys that we had so others can make their own memories.

I love you, Wend!  I'll see you on the flip side!