Saturday, May 26, 2012

Remembering Marvin

Marvin Everett Krook is one of the dearest men in the world to me.

I met Marvin over a year ago on a cold, dark night in January. We sat in his living room and talked about Chester, Montana, his career as a science teacher and bird watching. These topics would be visited often over the next few months as this stranger turned into family.

We began to teach Marvin the Gospel of Jesus Christ. With his deep love of learning, and strong faith in the Savior, Marvin believed the things we taught him.

I remember a day in February when I spent a long time on my knees praying earnestly for this dear man to accept the gospel.

I remember a day in March when Sister Randall and I sang to Marvin. He looked at me with such love that I couldn't help but love him back.

On another day in March, Sister Randall and I sat around the wooden table in the Krook's kitchen and sang "Happy Birthday" to this sweet man. He was 80 years old.

I remember a day in April. Marvin was asked to pray. "Our Heavenly Father, we want to thank you for sending these two sisters here to us today. And also that they are very attractive."

I remember another day in April when we taught Marvin that he and his beloved first wife could be together forever. However, we taught that baptism was the gate to which all of these eternal blessings could be obtained.

I remember a day in May when Marvin's wife prayed for him, and during the prayer he winked at me.

I remember a day in June when Marvin was interviewed for baptism and convinced Elder Heaton to play a trick on us. He came out from the room where he was asked questions to determine if he was prepared for baptism. His brow was furrowed, his expression grave.

"He said I'm not ready!" Marvin exclaimed. He was very upset.

Sister Davidson and I were flabbergasted. This man was prepared for baptism for sure. My heart sunk as I went through all of the questions in my head, puzzled as to which one Marvin could have possibly had a problem with.

I looked at Elder Heaton. The corners of his mouth were twitching, and through a sudden moment of clarity, I realized Marvin had gotten the better of us again.

"Marvin!!" I yelled as the comprehension of this situation dawned on me.

His eyes twinkled in that characteristic way of his, and his face split into a crinkly grin.

I remember a day in June when Marvin entered the water's of baptism. I sang during the program, and once again Marvin looked at me as he had that day in March. I loved him, and knew he loved me back.

After his baptism, he came up to me, gave me a hug, and held me tight. How I loved that sweet, kind man.

I remember a day in July when I came to say goodbye to Marvin. No tears were shed; not until later. "You're like my grandpa," I told him. He smiled, and gave me a hug goodbye. I promised to write and see him again.

I remember a day in October when I found out Marvin had Leukemia. I missed him, worried for him, and loved him even more.

I remember a day in February the following year when I walked into a hospital in Billings, Montana, a small frail man laying in the bed in front of me.

"I never thought I'd see you again," he said. Tears came to my eyes as I sat with him, held his hand and still, loved him all the more.

Our last conversation was similar to our first. We talked about Chester, Montana, his experiences while teaching science and his passion for bird watching. He thumbed through a magazine, teaching me about the birds on each page.

Occasionally, he would lay his head back against the bed, too tired to speak. I sat on his bed with him, watching him, grateful beyond words that God had brought this good man into my life. He had taught me so much, and had been an answer to a missionary's heart-felt prayer.

I remember four days ago when I found out Marvin passed away. I got in my car, and reached the Red Lodge turn off just as the sun was coming up.

His funeral was beautiful and reminded me of the goodness of his life.

I love this dear, dear man. I miss him. I will see him again, and when I do we will talk of science classes in Chester, Montana and we will watch the birds fly.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Never Will I Ever

Never will I ever take cliche engagement, wedding, pregnancy or baby photos.

Never will I ever like the taste, texture or smell of peaches.

Never will I ever deny my love for John.

Never will I ever master the art of stress management.

Never will I ever forget faces of people who changed my life in a place called Montana.

Never will I ever get tired of black and white photography, old movies or kisses on my forehead.

Never will I ever go to the Community Care in Rexburg, Idaho.

Never will I ever get sick of dance parties in the car. Or the hall. Or the couch. Or the backyard. Or the living room. Or Walmart. Or Utah. Or the MTC. Or Disney World.

Never will I ever be jealous of anyone taking a chemistry class.

Never will I ever beg to watch All Dogs Go to Heaven.

Never will I ever stop missing Ferndale.

Never will I ever forget where I've been.

Never will I ever not let you take me to Kiwi Loco.

Never will I ever forget to tell any awkward moment that ever happens to me.

Never will I ever miss an opportunity to call someone out on being a tool.

Never will I ever get sick of The Avengers. Mostly Hawkeye. Okay, just Hawkeye.

Never will I ever tell all of my secrets.

Never will I ever be satisfied that I never got to attend Hogwarts.

Never will I ever grow bored of Raphael.

Never will I ever forget my Savior, Jesus Christ.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

The City Inside

Silence. The still of night interrupted only by the ticking of the clock from the hall wall. I close my eyes and hear everything that surrounds me. The running of water from the floor above. The wind moving through the trees outside, threatening to bring back the rain from the afternoon. Out in the hall the clock continues to tick methodically as if it alone can account for the earth spinning on its axis propelling each individual life forward.

The ticking is muted next to the sounds of someone flipping channels in the front room, the low mumbling of voices that all sound the same coming from the screen on the shelf. Yet the earth continues to spin.

The soft clicking of my keyboard; the sounds of my apartment. Quiet really, in comparison to the noise inside.

Inside of me is as loud and as a busy, congested New York street. Commotion and unrest seem to scream back and forth at each other from opposite sides of a heavily traffic-filled road. Horns honking, people yelling, dogs barking, crosswalks bleeping, engines revving, wind rustling; combined it is the sound of energy, the sound of life.

On that busy street are skyscrapers that could give you cramps in the neck if you tried to see the top of them. Every color of the rainbow is visible, and every aroma imaginable is combined together causing nearly a seizure of the senses. It is overwhelming; one hardly knows where to begin in the hubbub of this epicenter.

On the corner there is a large building with a marquee. The thoughts of the day flash across in red lettering faster than they can be conjured in the dark recesses of my mind. Thoughts of failure, of triumph, of trial and error, of practice, of patience.

Yet tonight, lying in my quiet surroundings, the noise of the city and the flashing of the marquee are causing insomnia.

The busyness pauses. The clock continues ticking. The world continues spinning. Tomorrow is a new dawn. The rain will come, washing the pavement. The winds will change, the blossoms will bloom. Time passes, hearts change. Experience will impact, memories will be made. In short, life goes on.

Tonight, lying in the quietness, I alone can tame the city inside. Tonight, the silence will win.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Quiet Praise

The sun rose gradually over the dusty horizon. A morning trek to the temple was planned for the day. It was a narrow and dirty road that led to the steps of the sacred structure. Step by step it seemed was a slow and intentional process of self-discovery and purification. 
Two men of very different upbringings were to make similar journeys, though different paths would be taken by the pair of them. One was a climber of the social ladder, the other a public official. Both men had had great triumphs in their lives. Each had a family. Each had attained a level of notoriety in their own sphere. Yet on their way to the temple that morning, they were each lost in the thoughts of their own lives. 
A funny thing it is, really, a thought. It can be the purest form of communication with one's self, yet in the brutality of honesty inside one's heart, small subtle lies can be spun like thread weaving together the tapestries of false identity, false understanding and false security. 
An idea can start small and grow into a fantasy. It can become a grand adventure, a vicious plot by your subconscious to trick to you into thinking something is not. The travesty is that more often than not, the most grandiose lies we tell our to ourselves. 
The socialite had spent his life desperate to please others. The soft thrill it gave him to snatch the approval of his self-made critics was akin to gluttony. Yet day after day, week after week he would press on in mockery of himself wearing hat after hat and mask after mask to please and impress all he came into contact with. 
Deep down, he was a good man. But the genuineness of his soul was buried in a thick tapestry of pretending. He had thoroughly convinced himself that he was above the lower class, the middle class, and the majority of the upper. He, who could win anyone, even God himself was no seeker of self-mastery or correction. 
The other man was quiet. His passion was his work, second his family. He had made mistakes in his profession, and even more with his family. Yet the dedication was quietly hidden under his determination to prove successful. He had a love of God, but too often his love of monetary increase left him beyond the mark. There was something missing in this man's busy, scheduled life. 
He too was a good man. Misguided, but good. 
The socialite took the journey, step by step thinking of his clothes, his fame, his upcoming agenda and on occasion, his God to whom he would feign address. 
The other took each step carefully and methodically. His thoughts directed not on the money he would make from the next account he would secure, but suddenly, vulnerably, on himself. Yet they were not the selfish ones he so often had. Like the cogs of a great machine, his mind slowly began to dissect what exactly was missing from his life. 
It was a humble man who hailed from Galilee. He was called the Christ. Both men had heard of him, felt of his power, yet slowly the wonder of it had faded from their hearts. With it, melted  the desire to align their wills with one far greater than they. Instead, they had aligned their hearts with the world. It was empty. It was bleak. 
The socialite entered the doors, hoping the many prominent people in attendance would notice him and his high and mighty spirituality. His eyes darted around quickly to see who he could impress with ease. He picked a central spot, and prostrated himself upon the ground, praising God with his false tongue, thanking him for his high status and importance. 
He looked around, too pleased with himself for words. His eyes passed over everyone, including a small, quiet man in the shadows of the corners. 
His head was humbly bowed, tears dripped from his eyes. The journey had changed him, step by step. 
"God be merciful to me a sinner," he said. 
His wet eyes suddenly saw into a tainted soul that had remain unlooked upon for years. He could not remember the last time he had taken an inventory of his life. He did not like what he found. However, there was a small flicker of hope as he remembered the man from Galilee. Step by step had led the quiet man to Him. 
Praise be to God that He is merciful to sinners, like me.