July 25, 2010

Pioneers, Chicks and a Rattlesnake

Lots is going on in the country. Long story short, we went to pioneer days, El Morro, got some chicks and killed a rattlesnake. We went to a restaurant in Gallup and had the best chile relleno of my life. Ever. Also, Telia finally converted to Family Dollarism.
The top of El Morro

 Our back yard after the rain

Western (Prairie) Rattlesnake (DEAD)
Rattles = six
The strangest looking spider I've ever seen. In my house. Ew.
Nephew Eli at El Morro
Late night Settlers with Art and Sierra. Where's Jed?

July 8, 2010

Branch Life

Life in a rural branch is demanding, uncomfortable and rewarding. We were given callings our first Sunday. I am the Young Men's President and Telia is in charge of nursery. We are giving talks this week, I gave a lesson last week, we are feeding the missionaries tonight right after I finish cutting wood for the widows this afternoon. All of this is a spiritual 'shot in the arm', but when I consider the twelve young men I have been called to steward, it is a little overwhelming. Presently, four are somewhat active, coming a few times a month. From what I know they like to hike, camp and do service for others. No young men's program has existed here until now and I am eager to give the boys something constructive and purposeful to do in the church. I have met a few of them already and look forward to connecting with them and helping them strengthen their relationships with Christ.

The greatest strength of the branch lies in the individual members. Each one is like an old Juniper growing straight out of a rock.

One challenge we face as a branch is that the native traditions here are not just ceremonial, but a living religion. This is really cool from an anthropological point of view, but a significant impediment to church membership and attendance. The last few weeks have been a sort of summer solstice celebration and has demanded a lot of time of members away from church. Peer pressure to not be seen as a member of a "white man" religion is strong and sometimes pulls members away who are also prominent members of the tribe. I understand the social conflict that church membership can bring and I hope that members can see above such pressure to a broader view of Zion.

A pew is a luxury I never considered to be such until now. Our tiny branch chapel has folding chairs, which are comfortably padded, but they provide no where to hid misbehaving children. Everyone sees my (beautiful and generally good) wiggly and sometimes irreverent children.  Everyone can see the cheerios and kix falling to the floor and you can believe I will pick it all up myself quickly since the members are in charge of cleaning the chapel.

Quite a few of the stalwart members are facing unemployment. This is a proportional reflection of our pueblo on the whole, but a concern for the branch nonetheless. The upside is that it allows more time for church service by those temporarily unemployed, but I would REALLY like to help my brothers and sisters without jobs right now. That would be the best service, but, I don't know how to help. Maybe I can let them know about remote jobs like scheduling JetBlue flights from home...except the pueblo internet is slower than dial up. If anyone has some ideas for employment for the branch members let me know. They have a lot of experience in construction and custodial services.

In short, I couldn't hide comfortably in a pew here if I wanted to. We will be stretched and grown spiritually as we work to do the best and most service we can.

July 3, 2010


 We recently returned from a shotgun trip to California. Telia's Grandfather, Ralph Waldo Perry passed away right as my younger brother Erik returned home from an LDS mission in Russia and my Grandma Anderson planned a massive Larsen family reunion. Compelled by this intense alignment of significant events we made the decision to drive our little family across the desert to be with our loved ones. We made the drive there in a single push, traveling at night since our A/C was broken. Even so, Barstow, California managed an uncomfortable 102 degrees at 2 AM!

The trip was great. Meeting previously unknown family on both sides was a real treat. We also enjoyed catching up with some of our old favorites. Regrettably, we were unable to visit many of our friends since the trip was mainly a family deal.

We tried to execute the annual Anderson family camping trip, but like past years its true identity emerged as the annual Anderson family snafu. We intended to camp a few nights at Fallen Leaf Lake near Tahoe, but after one night we called an early retreat back down the mountain. Not that we are fair weather campers or anything. It is just that camping in the rain with three children two and under isn't very fun.

One thing that this trip proved is that my dad's generosity knows no bounds. He actually helped us get our A/C fixed. Fortunately, it was just a fuse, but we also got a tune up while we were there.

On the way home we got a blow out (tire, not diaper) in Boron, CA.  The temperature was 107 degrees. I threw on the donut and hobbled along at 55 MPH to Barstow. My dad helped out again with purchasing a new tire.

Finally, we made it home. We were glad to be there, but now we are glad to be here. There is no place like home. Thanks Dad.