Monday, August 25, 2014

Planting Roots :)

Well, the transition has ended and we are officially here!  Payson, UT is our new home.   We uprooted and moved 5 hours north of home and, in all honesty, it feels like we have entered an alternate universe.

There are clouds here.  One morning this past week as we were walking to school, the kids could not quit staring at the clouds, "Mom!  That cloud is sitting right on top of that mountain!"  It was a very slow walk, but, YES!  We have mountains too.

On my morning walk/jog, I had a nice chat with 5 deer, which happen to frequent the field that resides a football field east of our house.

Sadly, I go to the grocery store and I know NOBODY.  I catch up on no friendly news.  Nor do I set up my visiting teaching appointments.  Sadly, the grocery store is just a grocery store!  And oh how we miss the two hardware stores that were a mile away from us!  They could have made a killing on our "finishing the basement " venture :)

Speaking of which.  I drove to Costco yesterday, simply because it was Friday and I didn't want to make lunch.  Can you say samples?  Can you say alternate universe?

It is August and the trees don't look like they are going to spontaneously combust!  Sam, Gary, and I went to Farmer's Market last week.  There was SO MUCH PRODUCE :)!  But alas, no figs :(

I can't keep up with the online yard sale.  It goes too fast and it would be a full time job!  I quit!

Jared teaches in a Seminary that looks like a Grade School!  Next to a high school that looks like a Jr. College!  Gone are the days of "let's go to the church to see dad!"

Did I mention that it RAINED here!  Hands down, I think we might be living in the most beautiful place on earth!

Just like Overton, Payson is full of good people!  We a re a little homesick for "The Village" :(

All in all, life is good, let the root planting begin!

Monday, June 30, 2014

From Whence Your Christmas Lights Came?

The Foster Family has a friend.  He could and should appropriately be called family.  And his name is WALLY,yes, Wally!  He is one of a kind.  And sometimes we think he is completely crazy.  Like the summer (much to Jared and I's delight) that he decided to get rid of ALL THINGS MADE IN CHINA that he possessed.  Luckily, Wally is a SHOE SNOB,  Luckily, Jared has the same size foot as Wally, and Luckily, all of Wally's shoes cost more than our cars :)

Well, I thought he was crazy.....until I just read my last book.  "God's Double Agent, Bob Fu."  Which is a chronicle of one man's religious persecution from the Communist Country of China, his escape, and his life-long mission to help other Christians in China.

My whole life I have heard about communism, about China....but really, the date is 2014.  People could not possibly still be being tortured and murdered.  After all, all I have ever known was America (some days freer than others) communism seemed so far away, dream-like.  Never as bad as it was made out to be.  Not for Wally.  Wally tells his own story of escaping from Russia just after World War II.  Burying his puppies alive, and children falling off the escaping truck. Wally, the Chinese way of life hit a little too close to home.  Purging all things China felt right to him.  After this book, it felt right to me.

Before you read this short story, I would like to ask you, where do your Christmas lights come from?

I…became aware of thirty-three-year-old Liu Xianzhi (her English name is Sarah Liu), who was one of four women declared innocent in the retrial verdict.  However, she and the other women were sent to “reeducation through labor” camp, a fate worse than prison.  They stripped her, used three electric shock batons on her simultaneously, torturing her on all parts of her body.  When she cried out, they put the flesh-searing shock baton in her mouth.  It burned her so mouth so bad that she couldn’t eat for several days.  They also used this baton on her genitals, which caused so much pin that she eventually was sent to the hospital unconscious.  The doctors and nurses asked her tortures, “How could you treat a girl like this?”
After Sarah was released from labor camp, we rescued her through an Underground Railroad system stretching from China through Southeast Asia.  We arranged for local Christians to cover her with leaves in the back of a truck, where she stayed for hours, completely still.  Then they drove that truck, with her in the back under the wet, heavy leaves, across the border to Burma.  There, local people created fake identification for her, which identified her as a member of a minority tribal group.  To make her appearance match that story, they fixed her hair, put makeup on her face, and sent her into an underground railroad of believers who were willing to risk their lives to save hers.  Then after successfully navigating that maze, she swam across a river to make it into Thailand. 
Still, she wasn’t free. Once she was in a remote area of Thailand, she was in more danger than ever.  She needed to get to Bangkok, but the windy roads were dotted with police checkpoints.  Without a passport, she’d certainly be sent back to China and put right back into jail.  I sent a friend of mine from Hong Kong to help her.  After exhausting every other option, they realized the only option was to go to the nearest airport and fly.  Even though she didn’t have a passport or valid identification, they did just that.  Miraculously, none of the airport officials asked her to show any identification. 
After Sarah had managed an escape worthy of a James Bond movie, she had yet to face the mountains of bureaucracy the United Nations would throw at her.  They presented so much red tape that we wondered if she’d ever be allowed to leave.  The US Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom, John Hanford, who was appointed by President Bush, personally took our phone calls, called the UN, and demanded they speed up the process to grant her refugee protection.  Sarah got her approval within a month because of his direct and decisive intervention, and she finally arrived in America in 2005. 
When she was safely in America, Sarah Liu and two other refugees form the South China Church all resettled in Midland (Texas).  The Midland community helped provide support for their living expenses under ChinaAid.  We invited them over to our home during the Christmas season.  We watched as Sarah walked ever so slowly up our Christmas tree and stared at the lights twinkling on and off, absolutely mesmerized. 
“Those are just decorations,”  I explained. “They’re on a string.”
I pulled out a package and handed them to her, so she could see what they looked like before being draped over the tree.
She took the string of lights out of the package faster than I could blink, her hands untangling them like she was knitting a blanket. Within seconds, she had completely unwrapped and disassembled the lights.  Then she looked up at me with the various parts I her hands.
“I assembled these in my labor camp for sixteen hours a day,”  She explained.  We made Christmas lights and put them in packages that look just like this one.”

She then reassembled them just as quickly. The whole process took only seconds.  

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Dear Blog,

I miss you!  I miss the days when I am not consumed in thought about moving..selling...buying...making, goodbyes, hellos, and KEEPING MY HOUSE SPOTLESSLY CLEAN!  I miss calm.  I miss reading and writing and calm!  But today is the Sabbath and I will enjoy every unhurried minute of it!

Today Jared spoke in Stake Conference and he did a great job.  He spoke about how important daily personal scripture study is.  And I don't think it will offend him when I say, that his habit of study is what I attribute most of his brilliance and all of his goodness to.  And the entire thing just got me thinking of how the Lord leads and guides us in this life.  Never alone are we!  Let me elaborate.

We are moving to Payson, UT.  We did not ask to move!  However, we knew when Jared took his job, that that would not always be in our hands.

We love MOAPA VALLEY!  It is stamped on our hearts!  We love the PEOPLE, the Lemon Trees, the pomegranates, the quirky way that everybody avoids the color green, figs, hikes to the mesa, the Pirates, our NEIGHBORHOOD, the QUAIL, the lizards (the small ones), our very old and sometimes warm church building, the local swimming pool, OUR WARD, our awesome garden, 2 feet long cucumbers, perfect THANKSGIVINGS, and did I mention the PEOPLE!  

And thinking about the end, just reminds me of the beginning.  We drove into this valley with a large OVER-HEATING U-haul, and a small green Oldsmobile.  Our family consisting at the time of Jared, Me, and Ally, age one.  Pulling into the apartment parking lot in 100 degree weather in the dark of night, only to greeted by my FIRST ever COCKROACH in the form of death, I sucked in my tears, and quickly gave myself the "Buck Up" pep talk.  Each time I drove into the valley during those first couple of years, I would see a palm tree and have an unmistakable feeling of nausea and home-sickness wash over me.  Every time I checked the clock, I would note the time, then in denial say what time it was in Idaho, dreaming of being at the family barbecue with everyone else!

But, the story does not end there. I remember desperately pleading with Heavenly Father before our first Sunday in Overton, "Please, Please, just let me find someone that I can trust with Ally.  A babysitter, a family, someone, so that we can go to the temple, and have help if we need it!"  

Looking back, I could not have ever DREAMED how He would answer that prayer that would BLESS our lives forever.  I remember walking into Sacrament meeting and seeing a family with a million kids, four of them being girls, darling babysitting little girls!  That is the family I thought!  I approached them, and that week, with absolutely no hesitation on our part, they babysat Ally.  10 years later, we love every member of the Rust family like our own.  We want our kids to grow up like their kids, we have been counseled by them, served by them, loved by them.  And the thought of driving away from this valley and the FAMILY that has taken us in here, well.......

The Rusts have been compounded by dozens of others, with very similar stories.  I am not very good at goodbyes.  In fact, I hate them.  We will be quietly be driving away, to the tune of, "See you in Payson!  There will always be a bed for you there.  We will feed you, laugh with you, and carry on!"  

We will be leaving behind much!  However, we will be taking the ABSOLUTE KNOWLEDGE that "God will guide the future as He has the past"!

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

From One end of the Spectrum to the Other!

Yesterday was an interesting day!  Which started by going to the temple with four lovely ladies who helped me do the work for 4 SISTERS at the same time!  That was a great feeling, I could only imagine as I sat there, all of my sisters, and how happy we would have been to be TOGETHER!

Then off to Gary's basketball game.  Where he led the team to a 18 to 14 victory....scoring 16 points.  I never really knew how fun it was to see a 1st grader score a fast break, until my own kid did it!

After dinner and clean-up, we sat down to read scriptures as a family, but started by celebrating a birthday!

Norma Jean (LOVE THE NAME) is Jared's Grandma! She died when Jared was very young, consequently, we went to Aunt Annette for our information!  As we talked about her, I asked the kids, "WHAT DID YOU DO WITH GRANDMA NORMA JEAN'S NAME TODAY THAT SHE WOULD HAVE BEEN PROUD OF."

Ally, "I tried to cause less drama on the bus."  To which I say Hallelujah! 

Gary, "I sat by someone at lunch that was alone, and I talked to him."  Proud moment.

Sam, "When Jim (name has been changed) told me he didn't want me on his kickball team, I didn't get mad, I just stayed quiet."
Me,"Sam does that happen a lot?"
Sam, (as his lip quivers) "Mom, nobody wants me on their teams, ever."

Remember previously scored 16 happy as that was, not as painful as this is :(

Oh the joys of parenting!  I may be getting more sleep as my kids get older, by my heartache has increased as well!  Life will go on, Sam is ULTRA-TALENTED, and I am sure I suffer more than he does!

Thursday, January 30, 2014

El Libro Numero 3....CHECK

Okay, this book was SHEER delight.  I really am not a sports person.  I try, I really try sometimes, but I am not.  I feel like the gene simply skipped me, both coordination-wise and liking it -wise.  However, I am a people person, and I have always been fascinated with John Stockton.  Ever since I remember him standing on the Olympic Podium with his lips drawn tight and serious, just after winning a gold medal.  Thinking...sing, smile, do something!  As the entire Foster household was screaming and singing at the top of their lungs!

Then my interest really peaked as I watched him introduce this book on Fox News.  The commentator asked, "what is your greatest accomplishment?"  And without flinching he said, "My Kids!  Beyond a shadow of a doubt, My Kids."  At this point, the book Had to be Read!

I will not summarize it for you, you will have to read it yourself, and then we can chat about it, because my neighbors are getting sick of me talking about it.  I will simply leave you with some quotes.  Enjoy!

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Libro Numero Dos....Check

Obviously, I have taken this picture off of the Amazon website...Don't click.  Nothing will happen.  It is simply to show you the Second book that I have read this year...on my quest to read more.  

There is a little song we sing in Primary (the children's class in our Church) that says, "I lived in heaven a long time ago, it is true.  Lived there and loved there with people I know so did you.  Then Heavenly Father presented a beautiful plan.  All about earth and Eternal Salvation for man.".....So that would be the synopsis of this book.  With GREAT Literary license (I am not sure he could have done it any other way), Chris Stewart tries to portray what that Pre-Earth Life could have looked like. Although the facts are few and the illustration is grand, the lesson was not lost on me.  

For days, I have been wrapped up, trying so hard to REMEMBER what it must have been like.   Searching my life for any evidence that that pre-mortal life remains with me.  Although hard to see in myself, it is so easily seen in my kids.  Each of them came with TOTALLY DIFFERENT interests, talents, and skills. Gary can kick a ball farther than any of them, out run all of them, and SMILE at the same time.  Same can sit down at the piano and play a song for the first time as if he had played it before 1,000's of times. Ally can take the LEAD in any situation and has a determination unmatched.  

I told Jared the other night that I am loving this time in our lives.  It is so fun to watch the kids "unveil" and develop.  To be completely honest, I cannot look at myself and say that I came with any great talent, something that came easy to me.  Most everything I have done has come with effort.  And there are very few things that really capture my attention....Well, there is one.  

This Christmas, my sister Patti said to me, (as I was asking her about her calling), "Kathryn, can we please talk about something besides Church!"  And because this was not the first time she has said it to me, I finally just told her, "Patti, that is what I love talking about the most.  It is what excites me!"  As boring as that may seem.  It is true.  The other day I read a scripture in Alma that had the phrase "the affections of your heart!"  I loved that!  The affections of my heart have always been on the doctrines of the scriptures, the prophets, and the Savior!  That is where my loyalties lie.  

I cannot over emphasize how grateful I am to know that there was a life before this life....that there will be life after this life.  When I make decisions based in that framework, there is light.  When I make a decision based on now, not forever, there is darkness.  I love the light!  

Sunday, January 12, 2014

And then there was Channeling!

When Ally was born and screamed the entire ride home from the hospital.  We knew she had lungs.  The next few years, it became apparent that she had the will to match the lungs.  When she was a Sunbeam (class for three year olds in our church) her teacher gave me a parenting book.  To which I was devastated.  But it only confirmed one thing for me.  No one could ever make her do anything she didn't want to do.

During the first 10 years of her life, I cannot tell you how many times I have heard the many variations of the following phrase, "She is so strong willed, now if you can just channel that, it will work out so well."  So we have been trying to channel - whatever that means, in the best way we know how for many many years.

This past week, I was so grateful for her "strong-will" that I wanted to share.  It seems that the fifth grade class had an outbreak of cheating.  Some may call it a little deal, but to me, cheating is never little.

Some of her friends confronted her to "let her in" on the cheating ring.  She was appalled.  And without any social graces at all, asked, "What are you doing?"....."No I won't do that!  I am a Mormon!"  And then, she knew that she needed to let the teachers know that the majority of the class was sharing answers to the test. She recounted it to me this way, "Mom, as Bailey and I were walking down the hall, all the kids were telling us we were stupid and they wouldn't be our friends any more.  And I just thought!  I don't care if I have friends!   This is wrong."  And then there was channeling!

 I was proud!  I never knew how much I would love having strong-willed children (oh and by the way, her other great accomplishment this week is to fit the words of Angels We Have Heard on High to the Theme Song of Harry Potter....strong-willed and talented :)

Another high-light of the week came when Sam was making his lunch on Thursday night.  He and I were the only ones in the kitchen when he said, "Mom!  People are so foolish!"  (Come to find out, that day they had discovered the many theories of evolution)

"Why do you say that Sam?"

"Mom, they think we came from monkeys, or bugs.....or worst of all, just appeared!"

"You don't think that Sam?"

"No! Mom!  For Heaven's sake!  Can't they find their pedigree chart!"

Now you make take that as face value, and say he doesn't really understand!  But Sam understands!  He gets it!  As I thought about it for the next few days, I knew he really did get it!

This week being a parent is awesome!  We will see what next week holds :)