Sunday, April 14, 2013

The Beauty of Guam I

I am missing spring in Southern Utah.  I don't mean that I am just not there, I am really missing it!  I want to see the fields turn green, the trees leaf out, the birds returning from wherever they spend the winter.   I want to see the wildflowers bloom and the ducks on the pond as they pass through.  I want to see new calves and colts, and fawns following their mothers.  I really love this time of year.  You would think I have been gone for a long time, but you don't have to be gone that long to really miss something I guess.  I'm glad I will only miss one spring, and that I will be home this time next year.

With that being said, I will probably miss Guam as soon as I am gone.  There is a different kind of beauty here.  A kind of beauty we don't see much living in the desert.  It is green here all the time, only the shades change. So I am going to do a few blogs capturing the beauty around us here, and enjoy it to the fullest while we have the chance.  Along with the beauty I will include some interesting details about the weather, geography, history, culture and people.

They only have two seasons here, the rainy season and the really rainy season.  Average rainfall is 100.61 inches.  The wettest months are July -November, with August and September getting the most rain.

Storms kind of sneak up on you.  There is hardly ever any thunder or lightning.  There are almost always clouds, and you can't always tell when they are serious.  You may thing that there is little chance of rain, and twenty minutes later it will be coming down in buckets.  Even when there are just a few clouds, rainstorms have a way of appearing almost out of nowhere.

The rain is always warm, and sometimes quite welcome as a brief cool-down.  The temperatures range from a low of 68 to a high of 86, at least that's what the weather bureau says.  Our experience would put it at 76 to 92. Weather charts will tell you the average is 80 degrees, but it has been more like 86 since we have been here.  Average relative humidity runs from 73 to 80%, and once you get used to it that isn't too bad except when you have to be working out in it.  You can be soaking wet with sweat in a matter of a few minutes of exertion, but then the evaporation kind of cools you off so it is a mixed blessing.  The trade winds blow frequently and that also helps cool things off, or at least it seems cooler.  The evenings and early mornings are almost always pleasant and a nice time to be out.

The commercial power for Guam is generated by huge diesel engines which spew a lot of smoke into the air on the east-central part of the island.  Because of the trade winds it dissipates quite quickly, but it also makes for some beautiful sunsets, a few of which I have captured on film.  In the coming days I will share more of the beauty of Guam and its culture.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Ripple Effect

My wife and I are serving as the office couple in the Micronesia Guam Mission.  Last week we got word of a tsunami warning issued for some of the islands in our mission as a result of an 8.0 earthquake in the Solomon Islands, hundreds of miles to the southeast.  The ripple effect created by an earthquake spawned tsunami will send a tidal surge out from the epicenter in all directions.  Depending on a lot of different factors, these surges may grow as they travel, and particularly as they reach shallow water, or they may become smaller and eventually dissipate.  In this case the surge dissipated and never reached our islands, but was fresh in my mind as another ripple effect touched my life today.

I served a mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to Australia from August 1966 to August of 1968.  It was an experience that changed my life.  I was a scared kid fresh off the farm with a scant knowledge and a weak testimony, dropped into the middle of Melbourne, a city of over a million.  I learned to adapt.  I worked hard.  I studied.  I followed the program and had what I considered very limited success.  I baptized four people, at least one that I know of had left the church before I left the country.

Counting baptisms probably isn't a fair way to measure a mission.  I have always considered myself one of my most important converts.  I came to know that God lives, that Jesus Christ is His son and the Savior of the world.  I came to know for myself that His church was restored through the Prophet Joseph Smith, and that Priesthood Authority is found in His church today.  I learned that the Holy Spirit will guide us and if we are in tune, and that if we listen and obey we will be blessed beyond measure.

In addition to gaining a testimony, I grew up.  I learned to have confidence in my own abilities.  I learned to take care of myself, to cook, to clean, to study, to communicate with people, to teach and testify.  I learned to handle money, to take care of a car and I learned to lead others.

I was in the final quarter of my mission, on a split, knocking on doors with a new young missionary in his area when we met the White family.  Mrs. White invited us in and said she wanted to hear our message.  As we prepared she mentioned that her twins, Ross and Robin, would be home shortly and that they might like to hear our message.  We waited, thinking that they were probably young, maybe in their early teens.  When they came we were surprised to find out they were about our age.

We taught the White family over the next few weeks,  it was a joyful experience.  Though they weren't in my area I was the district leader and arranged to be in on as many of the discussions as possible. Then I got transferred.  Though I was only on the other side of town, I kind of lost track of  the White's.  I heard the Ross and Robin had been baptized, and that their mom was ready but waiting for her husband.  I left the mission field a few months later and totally lost track of the Whites.

It was General Conference time in 2003 I think, and I can't remember if it was April or October when I got the call.  It was from the wife of a former missionary companion from Logan.  She related that she had been waiting outside the Conference Center to pick up her husband after Priesthood Meeting.  She had been talking with a lady with a strong accent and asked if she was from Australia, and the lady confirmed that she was.  She mentioned that her husband had been a missionary there, and the lady then asked if she happened to know an Elder Prince!  Yes, the lady was Robin White Hancock.  She too was waiting for her husband, and mentioned that she wanted to make contact with some of the missionaries that taught her back in 1968.  Of course the connection was made.

The Hancocks and he Princes, 2005

It was such a thrill for me to learn that Robin was strong in the gospel, that she had married in the church and that she and her husband had four daughters, three of them had served missions, one was married and had a new baby, so they now had three generations in the church.  We weren't able to get together on that visit, but on a subsequent visit in 2005 Robin and her husband Graham came to our home in Kamas and we had a barbecue and caught up on old times.  We have stayed in touch off and on since then through occasional emails, and since being called on our mission to Guam I have been sending them our monthly epistles.

Today I got a reply from Robin that brought tears to my eyes.  I share a portion of that email here:
"Yesterday while attending  a baptism, l couldn't but help think of the on going, ripple effect, of your mission in Australia so long ago.  Let me explain.  Our third daughter Lorelei, unintentionally and casually introduced the gospel to her school friend about 6 months ago. The baptism yesterday was the result.  This came on top of another baptism of her neighbour in June last year.  Lorelei and her husband Hans became good friends with their neighbours who lived a few houses away from them.  Unexpectedly they began asking about the church, consequently, the wife was baptised  followed by her husband a few weeks later.  Because they are military people they were transferred to Darwin but remain very active.  All of this has been wonderful for Lorelei and Hans as Lorelei served her mission on Temple Square and didn't see the outcome of her mission. Thank you once again for coming to my door 43 years ago.
The ripple effect!  Sometimes good, and perhaps great things happen as a result of some small thing, which leads to another small thing and then another.  Quite often these little things happen and the links go quite unknown or unnoticed. I feel very blessed to be aware of these particular ripples, they have blessed my life.  To know that because the Spirit whispered, and two missionaries listened, a life was changed, then another and another. To know that even though you may not baptize, the good you have done, the seeds you have planted, may someday grow, and if properly nourished the fruit will be ever so sweet.  As the ripples continue to spread, everyone whose life is touched will feel the Savior's blessing wherein he promised, "how great shall be your joy".

Monday, August 20, 2012

We're Going On A Mission

We have planned on serving a mission for a long time and things have come together to make it a reality. We filled out all the required papers, got the physical exams and had interviews with our Bishop and Stake President
We were recruited by a friend and business acquaintance, Stephen Mecham, who is the President of the Micronesia Guam Mission, so we weren't surprised when the call came to serve there.  Or perhaps we could say we recruited him.
We received our call on Friday, June 29th.We will be serving for 18 months, working primarily in the Mission Office taking care of finances, vehicles, housing, travel, records and correspondence.
We have a lot to do to get ready such as immunizations, photos, shopping for clothing and supplies and getting the house and farm closed up.
We are really excited for this opportunity to serve our Heavenly Father and the people of Micronesia.Our responsibilities in the Mission Office will be our primary focus, and we look forward to doing all we can to make the work run smoothly for the President, his staff and all the missionaries.We also hope we have the opportunity to work in a local ward and get to know the people on a personal level.
Of course before leaving we had to have a few family gatherings.  the hard part was it seemed like we had to say goodbye every time we saw them.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Prostate Cancer III

I had my three month and six month cancer check-up and so far everything seems okay.  My PSA at there months was down to 1.6 and at six months it was down to 1.5.  We would all like to see it lower, and it may continue to decrease but maybe not.

I was not the least bit impressed with my urologist and the three month check-up.  He couldn't find the results of the PSA test so he asked me what it was.  I had been on the website so I knew and told him and that was about it.  He didn't examine anything, ask me how I was feeling or anything.  He did ask if I had any questions so I asked him if some of the conditions I was experiencing were permanent.  His reply was "well, they pretty much fried your prostate so you have to expect that".  I can't help but think he is a little put off that we didn't accept his offer to surgically remove it.

I was cleared to procedde with submitting papers to serve a mission, so we made appointments to have our mission physicals and begin that process.

At six months I saw Dr. Richards, the radiation oncologist.  He was very concerned, friendly and I really felt like I had been to the doctor when we were finished.  We told him we had a mission call and he was happy for us and gave me the paper work I would need to get PSA tests done in Guam.

I guess there is not any way to know if your cancer is cured other than the test of time.  If the PSA remains low then the cancer is in remission.  If it starts to climb then they didn't get it all.  You just have to monitor that level fairly closely for a while and see what happens.  Dr. richards seens quite confident that the treatments have done their job and I can only hope he is right. 

Friday, June 1, 2012

Recovery, Treatment and More

Prostate Cancer Part III
Recovery comes in stages, because thats how treatment comes. After each treatment you have two weeks to recover, then they do it all again. Two more times.
Considering what I had been through I was feeling pretty good when we left the surgical center that Thursday evening. Prior to leaving Dr. Richards asked how I was doing and I challenged him to a race across the parking lot. Of course he wisely declined. I talked Ellie into stopping at Nielson's Frozen Custard and we had a treat to enjoy on the trip home.
As directed I took it easy for a couple of days, reading, resting, watching tv and playing computer games. I had no swelling and no bleeding from the prostate catheters, and very little pain. The moist severe pain was from the bladder catheter. Urinating after its removal was excruciating! It felt like you were eliminating hydrocloric acid! That persisted for a few days, but gradually the pain subsided. Saturday we went to town and I got a haircut and we ran some ereands. By Sunday I was feeling good enough to attend to my church responsibilities, and Monday I went to work outside. There was some fatigue, I didn't have the stamina to work too long, but it felt food to get out and try. I gradually got stronger each day and by the time my two weeks ended I was ready for round two.
The second treatment was on Thursday, February 2nd. Things went much the same as the first and I was soon home recovering again. This time the pain from the bladder catheter was not quite as bad, but I really suffered from hemmoroids. It felt like instead of a nice smooth ultrasound probe they had used a very large dry corncob! It gave a whole new meaning to the Johnny Cash song 'Ring of Fire". It seemed like just as I started to get some relief I would have a bowel movement and the pain would start all over again. It wasn't a totally debilitating pain, but just the same you didn't really feel like doing much of anything. At the same time it seemed to help to do something to get your mind off the pain. I spent a lot of time sitting on an ice bag, and was just starting to get some relief whan treatment three rolled around.
Treatment three was on Thursday, February 16th. I was dreading it this time, yet at the same time wanted to get it over so I could start to heal premanttly. They moved our starting time back an hour, so we arrived at 7:00am and it all started again. I had a little talk to the doctors about being a little more careful when inserting foreign objects into my body,. Otherwise the procedure was a repaet of the two previous ones, with the exception that this time I knew I didn't have to come back.
During the five hour recovery period we talked to the other couple sharing the room and discovered that he was the brother of a missionary I knew 40+ years ago in Australia from Burley Idaho. He got right on the phone and called him and even got through but by the time he did I was in for the next session.

Recovery this time was more like the first treatment.  I'm not sure why the second was so bad but if they had all been like that one I wouldn't have survived.  Healing takes a while, and three months after you have recovered from most of the temporary effects, some seem to be more lasting and may never go away.  Nonetheless youare greatful for good Doctors and modern medicine.