Well, here we are again. Another crazy week has flown by. Does life ever slow down? It is Thanksgiving eve and I thought I had better get this blog updated while I am waiting for the pies to bake. This year I am making two pumpkin, two banana cream, an apple, a cherry, and two pecan pies cooked in an iron cast skillet. I have been my family's official pie maker for the past 27 years (has it really been that long?) I learned how to make pie dough from my grandma Gillins when I was in high school. I am convinced that no matter how many pies I make they will never taste as good as hers. We are having my family for Thanksgiving. There will be 25 of us here tomorrow. It is so wonderful being with family, but there is also a gaping hole in my heart. Dallin you will be missed tomorrow. I hope there is someone who will feed you some really good food since you won't be here with us (I hate that). We will be playing basketball, badminton, volleyball, and pickleball this weekend. We will have to play hard to work off all the yummy food we will be eating tomorrow.
Dallin sounds good this week. He has been made a District Leader and is welcoming the added responsibility. Keep up the great work Aldste Milne! We are so proud of you!
My Letter to Big "D" this Week:
“It might sound contrary to the wisdom of the world to suggest that one who is burdened with sorrow should give thanks to God. But those who set aside the bottle of bitterness and lift instead the goblet of gratitude can find a purifying drink of healing, peace, and understanding. …
“But some might say, ‘What do I have to be grateful for when my world is falling apart?’ …
“It is easy to be grateful for things when life seems to be going our way. But what then of those times when what we wish for seems to be far out of reach?
“Could I suggest that we see gratitude as a disposition, a way of life that stands independent of our current situation? In other words, I’m suggesting that instead of being thankful for things, we focus on being thankful in our circumstances—whatever they may be. …
“We sometimes think that being grateful is what we do after our problems are solved, but how terribly shortsighted that is. How much of life do we miss by waiting to see the rainbow before thanking God that there is rain? …
“True gratitude is an expression of hope and testimony. It comes from acknowledging that we do not always understand the trials of life but trusting that one day we will.”
- President Uchtdorf
I couldn't help but throw in a sermon on gratitude being so close to Thanksgiving. Will any of the members in Vasteras be celebrating Thanksgiving? I hope so, and I hope they invite you and your companion. How are you this week? It sounds like things have been a little crazy for you lately. How is Elder Van Alfen? I am so sorry for Him. Depression is a real thing, and it seems that it is right at this age in someone's life that it really sets in if they are prone to that condition. I have been praying for him and his family. So, do you have a new companion? I would assume you do unless you are in a threesome until next transfers. Tell us all about it. I will make sure that in the blog I don't include anything about Elder Van Alfen's depression unless you want me to. I will just say that you have received a new companion. I hope that you are doing well Dallin and that you are taking care of yourself. Looking back on my mission I realize that some of the biggest trials and heartaches I experienced were due to my companions. Always remember to show compassion and seek for that gift of discernment to know how to best help in every situation. I still have written in my scriptures a warning against pride that was a carry over from my mission. I remember writing it to myself when I was dealing with a difficult companion. I'm not saying that Elder Van Alfen was difficult, but I am sure that it was stressful for you and him. There are so many life lessons learned while serving a mission. Keep your chin up. The Lord will continue to sustain you each day and reward all of your honest efforts.
This week has been eventful to say the least. Once again a very busy week at school for me as well as with young women's and everything else that I have going on. I am constantly amazed at and grateful for the enabling power of the atonement. Surely everyday I have found strength well beyond my own. I literally feel the Lord carrying me at times. When you are engaged in His service His promised blessings are sure, and you discover that he freely rewards your efforts. As the semester draws to an end I find myself extremely busy with tests, presentations, group projects, etc.... Each day I have to remember to "fresh courage take" and have the faith that the Lord will continue to bless and carry me. This week I especially recognized the hand of the Lord in every detail of my life. I am continually astounded at how much He loves me and the abilities beyond my own He has blessed me with.
Here are a few highlights of the week: On Monday I had a presentation I gave to my fathering class. It was on the importance of rough and tumble play between children and their fathers. It was titled, "Let's Get Ready to Rumble: A Look at Rough and Tumble Play With Dad." I also had a big stats test that day which the Lord truly blessed me to do well on because my preparation time was so limited. On Tuesday I spent four hours volunteering at the DOVE Center. It is a crisis center for women and children who have been physically and sexually abused. They also have a shelter that I will be working at soon as well. Our family will be providing Christmas dinner for the women and children at the shelter this year. I am so excited to do this. That evening I helped one of my Laurels, Bryndi Terry with collecting donations for the DOVE Center for a school and young women's project. Wednesday was a super fun activity that I had to do with an assigned group from my fathering class. I invented the word "Gra"DAD"itude" and we hosted a party for 40 preschoolers and their dads at the SUU preschool. They were so cute, and I couldn't believe how all the dads came. There were even a couple of kids who their dad had passed away and their neighbor brought them. We played games, made Thanksgiving type crafts and had refreshments. I love four year olds. They are hilarious. I played one game with them where we all sat in a circle and if the ball was rolled to you and your dad you had to say your name, age, and why you were grateful for your dad and then the dads had to tell why they were grateful for their child. It was absolutely precious. When the ball was rolled to me I said I was too old to tell them my age and one little boy said, "I bet you are 21 because that is old." I said, "yep, I am 21 and you are awesome." Interestingly, the head SUU basketball coach was there with his four year old son. I took the opportunity to introduce myself and you of course, and I asked him what you could do to walk onto the team. He said to come and visit him as soon as you get back and that even though it is mid year you could work out with the team and be like a manager so you could travel with them etc... and then you could tryout. So, if you decide to go to SUU there is a chance you could play basketball.
Saturday was a big day for me. At 7:30 am I reported to the DSU testing center to take the GRE. It was a solid four hour test. The first hour consisted of two 30 minute essays. One was analyzing a statement and agreeing or disagreeing with it, and the other was refuting the assumptions of given scenario. I felt pretty good about that section so it bolstered my confidence moving into the remainder of the test. It was all done on line. I had two 30 minute sections on verbal reasoning, and two thirty minute sections on quantitative reasoning, and then another two thirty minute sessions on verbal and quantitative reasoning that were for future test evaluations (you didn't know which sessions were which and you weren't scored on the evaluation sections). You receive your raw score immediately after the test except for the essay part. BYU says that in order to be competitive on the GRE you need a score of 300. I scored a 303. I was so happy! There are 340 points possible and according to a scale on their website a score of 303 is typically considered to be in the 80th percentile so I was so relieved. My verbal reasoning was about ten points higher than my quantitative reasoning which makes sense. I haven't had a math class since high school. I did some reviewing, but I didn't study enough on graphing slopes, etc... But, I am not complaining. The Lord really had his hand in my success. My preparation time for this test was so limited due to my already busy schedule. I am so grateful that is over and I am not taking it again! Immediately following the test I had to head to Beaver for Kenadee's wedding. It was really beautiful, and despite all the crazy things going on in my extended family it was really great seeing everyone. I will try and post some pictures on the blog. I am really happy for Kenadee. She married Mason Carter from Minersville.
Carter and Ty have been really busy this week with basketball. Carter's leg is holding up and he is working hard. He is starting to fill out and he is a true 5'11". He may even grow more. His arms have gotten so long. He says the coaches are working them hard and running them more than they ever have in the past. Ty played in five basketball games this weekend. He is a little rusty, but his asthma is flaring up so we need to get that in check. Dad and Carter went over to Coach Lynn's yesterday and borrowed some of dad's high school basketball videos. It was so fun watching them last night. He even had the one where Pine View played Beaver and dad scored the winning shot. It was cool because I was in it too. You will laugh when you watch them. Their shorts were so tight and sooo short! Dad was a great player, but he was human. He too had turnovers and missed free throws. It was good for him to remember this so he won't be so hard on your brothers. Carter's first game is next week. He is so excited!
Well Dallin, I only have two classes today and then the rest of the week off for Thanksgiving. I am so excited to have the family come here. You will surely be missed. I will say extra prayers for you so you don't feel too homesick. I am really looking forward to Christmas so we can Skype. It will be great to see you and hear your voice. Keep up the good work. You are amazing "Big D". Take care of yourself and please let us know how things are going for you.
Love You to the Moon and Back,
Blaine's Letter this Week:
I hope this letter finds you safe and sound. I hope your new companion is working out. It was sad to hear about your recent companions circumstances. It was nice that you both had a baptism before he left Sweden though.
This past week here has been rather interesting. Your mom took the GRE on Saturday and scored a 303-340 which was very good. She was told to be competitive at BYU she needed a score over 300. She was so relieved for this wonderful score. I was very happy for her and as she did for me during dental school examinations, I prayed for her during her exam that she would have the energy and knowledge come to answer the questions correctly.
She would pray for me during my examinations in dental school which always brought me much comfort and strength. She deserved this blessing very much. I told her I would always support any of her academic pursuits for as long as she had them. Your mother was always passionate about academics in her young life and this passion had it's effect on me. I have told her often it was her influence that lead to me selecting a long road through dentistry.
I want her to achieve all that she wants in pursuit of her education. I do believe this will bring her happiness and peace in her life.
We will have to continue to wait and see how her application is received. She still has to write her letter of intent to BYU and finish her book on pornography. I am excited to see how this next chapter of our lives plays out. As you know she is very deserving. We have both agreed it will be the Lord who will decide if this path is right for us. It is definitely a stone we must turn.
Continue to work hard on your mission. We are looking forward to skyping you on Christmas.
Carter is working really hard to prepare himself for the basketball season. He is so happy to be playing basketball. He remembered when he and I visited Coach Lynn Christensen a while back that he said he had all my old game tapes up at his house and I was welcome to come and get them if I liked. Today, Carter said Dad let's go get those tapes and watch you play back in the day. So that is what we did. We visited Coach Lynn this evening and got some tapes of my junior year. We watched a couple games. One was the game against Beaver in 1985 when I hit the game winning shot at the buzzer. It was thrilling to relive this moment and see your mom also on the gym floor 29 years ago.
Carter and Ty had fun seeing their old Man run up and down the floor for PVHS. It even helped me to see me look so confident. It was a priceless gift from Coach Lynn. He helped me tremendously in my young life growing up at PVHS.
Well, Dallin, we love you very much.
Ty and I went home teaching tonight together. It was Ty's first home teaching experience and he read the lesson to the Moore family. If you remember they were the senior couple who went to the same mission as President Wilstead and his wife did in Bulgaria. They enjoyed their mission tremendously.
Ty has had a rough opening tournament with his basketball team. Please pray for him. Your mom said that it would be the Holy Ghost who could turn up the motor within him. I sure hope so.
Well, take care and try and write us a few more lines.
Dallin's Letter Home this Week:
What's up everybody?
Don't worry I am still alive.
It's been a pretty interesting week. Since Van Alfen went home I have been in a tri-panionship with the other two elders here in Västerås. It was kind of strange doing missionary work with three elders, contacting people on the street was especially awkward. It was kind of funny to see how uncomfortable people would get when three mormon kids stopped them on the street and tried to talk about the gospel with them. We've had a good time though.
Elder Van Alfen had been struggling with depression for awhile. Both of his parents also had it pretty bad when they were younger and on missions too. He talked with a few different counselors and stuff from the church and I guess they just felt like it would be better for him to start taking the medication home with his family. He wants to return to Sweden in a couple of months if that would be possible. I hope he does. He was a good little missionary, talented with the language and had a good heart. He was super patient as well, I mean he was able to put up with me for 12 weeks, that alone is quite impressive haha.
This weekend was super good though. It was stake conference weekend and the youth had a temple trip set up for Saturday morning so we got to take Emil and Farnaz (two recent converts) to the temple for the first time. They both had a good experience and enjoyed doing the baptisms. Emil has been doing so good. It has been so rewarding to see his progression. 2 Sundays ago he got the Aaronic Preisthood, was ordained as a priest, and passed the sacrament. He should be able to bless this next coming week. The members will love that I am sure because it has always been the missionaries who have blessed the sacrament with our american accented swedish. In the saturday session of stake conference the focus was on missionary work and the stake president gave Emil a shout out over the pulpit for being such a good example of how a new convert progresses in the gospel. That really tickled Emil. The stake president, Jakob Hagman, is a complete stud. Served his mission in southern Utah as well. He said he spent some time in Washington fields. He's about 6'5 and loves basketball. Me and him play ball together quite a bit after we are done playing innebandy with everyone else in the gym.
So we got the transfer calls the other day and it looks like I will be staying a little bit longer in Västerås. My next companions name is Elder Sandquist. I don't know where he is from but people say he is a cool guy so I'm excited. I am also the new district leader apparently. In my district there are 4 sets of elders, a set of sisters and a senior couple. I'm kind of nervous to have to put together district meetings and stuff but I'm also looking forward to growing a little more because of this added responsibility. I am happy to be staying in Västerås too. Love this place to death.
Anyways, I really liked your comment on Merle's song about making it through december. That song has been in my head all week haha. It is getting pretty cold and like Merle says "if we make it through december, everythings going to be alright I know" haha. Big congrats to mom with her success in the GRE. That is huge! I'm excited to here about how things go with byu and all that. Tell her sorry for not writing last week. Things got tight on wednesday and I didn't want to stress about it honestly haha. That is super cool that you guys got that treasure game film from coach Lynn. Carter said it was kind of relieving to see you make a turnover or miss a foul shot but still be a good ballplayer. He sure sounds excited for this upcoming season. Tell Ty to get with it haha he's got too much energy to not use it on the basketball court. He'll step it up.
Well, take care everybody. The gospel is true. Living it brings us true happiness. It feels alot better to be obedient than disobedient. Walk uprightly with a clear conscience and a love for God and all men. That is what's up.
Lots of Love
Dallin's Letter to Me:
Hey mom, didn't see your email until I sent the reply to dad's. way to go with the test! I am really excited for you. And way to go with coach Robinson haha you've always been good with the politics ;) hahah that'll give me some good motivation to get going with the push ups again in the morning haha.
me and the castle guard
3550 - stockholm in the evening
3484 - saying goodbye to the man Elder Van Alfen
3560 and 3506- Me Emil and Farnaz after doing baptisms in the temple
3553 - Hanging out in Stockholm city with the gang
3529 - Selfie in what is apparently the smallest street in all of Europe?
3544 - the castle in Stockholm
Me and the Castle Guard
Stockholm in the Evening
Saying Goodbye to the Man Elder Van Alfen
Me, Emil, and Farnaz after doing baptisms in the temple
Hanging out in Stockholm City with the Gang
Selfie in what is apparently the smallest street in all of Europe?
The Castle in Stockholm
Happy Birthday Grandma Bonnie on November 11th! This photo goes way back!
The young boy is Blaine (Dallin's Dad). Grandma Bonnie (Blaine's Mom) died when he was 16 years old.