Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Video clip

I tried loading this video from a different computer and in the morning - it worked! This video was one of Katie's experiments during P-day laundry hour, so it wasn't carefully filmed, but it's fun to see.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Mission UPDATE

Katie just sent us a cassette tape and pictures. It was just like Christmas!!! For those of you who were at her farewell and noticed her rate of speaking, this cassette tape was similar. She described the language, her schedule, and everything about the MTC. She is having a wonderful time and can hardly wait to arrive in Armenia in 2 WEEKS!!

This is a closer up picture of Katie's district. Back row is Elders Harris, Ellison, Craft. Front row is Sister Peterson, Katie, and Sister Barratt. As you can tell Elder Harris likes to have fun. Katie says he keeps things lively and helps break up the monotony of 10 to 12 hours in the classroom. Elder Ellison is the Zone leader and takes it very seriously. Elder Craft is a professional rock climber and is Katie's teaching partner in the classroom. She really likes teaching with him as he is very smart and competitive. He's the type that keeps a 4.0 GPA without effort. They push each other and it is helping each rise to greater language abilities. Sister Peterson just graduated from the U of U is athletic training. Sister Barratt is energetic and fun to be around. Both companions are from Arizona.

No this is not gang signals, it is the sign language for "What's it to you?" or "Keldeetzch" (I have no idea how it is spelled) in Armenian.

This kind of reminds me of the ghost busters, but it is actually what Katie and her companions do for service on Monday mornings. They get a powerful spray washer to clean and squeegee the bathrooms. They have to wear goggles because of the force of spray and heat. Katie says it gets pretty hot and humid in the bathroom and her naturally curly hair is a piece of work when they are done.

These 2 pictures are Katie's classroom. Click on the pictures to get a closer view. She loves writing Armenian. She says it is really cool. She memorizes 15 to 40 words a day on her own, in addition to class time. They have days they "Speak Your Language" She she speaks Armenian in all conversations. If she is with a non-Armenian speaking companion during gym time, for example, she talks in Armenian and then translates. There are only 4 sisters in Armenia currently. 3 of them are going home in November; 3 more will be arriving from the MTC shortly after that, so Katie feels it is important to do everything she can to be as fluent as possible. Most likely she will have an Armenian companion after she is trained.

This last picture Katie sent especially for Grandma Gabrielsen. Katie misses seeing Elder Gabrielsen at the MTC, he left for New York on Monday.
Last but not least, her is a short video Katie sent. It's a bit crazy, but fun. Sorry it is not loading, I will try again later.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Church Callings

Melanie asked if I would do a blog on my church callings throughout the years, so here it is. It is a bit lengthy, but I sure had fun thinking about some neat experiences.

I have had numerous callings through the years, most places I’ve had more than one calling at a time. Usually it has to do with playing the organ or music of some sort. I have been ward organist 5 or 6 times and ward choir accompaniest 3 or 4 times.

Junior High and High School
Beehive President – because of my shy, unimposing nature I hesitated to visit an inactive girl in the class as my advisor sternly lectured me about the importance of fulfilling by calling.

Sunday School Organist – Back in the days when there were 3 meetings each Sunday. I was not very good at the organ and appreciated the congregation putting up with my mistakes for a few years. One time I was asked to play for a stake baptism service. The meeting started a half hour late and I only knew one prelude song, Come Ye Disconsolate, I played it over and over as the song only lasted about 2 minutes.

Roadshow Director, senior in high school. This was probably my most intimidating calling as my creative side would fit into my little toe. I had to write the play, direct, and organize the whole thing. I felt like I did it all, but in retrospect, there were some great leaders who made me think I was taking responsibility.

· Sunday School Secretary
· V.T. supervisor
· Stake RS Board as VT supervisor
· Spiritual Living RS Instructor
· Relief Society President
· Nursery Leader
· Gospel Doctrine Teacher – I team taught this with Vance before he was called to the bishopric

Homemaking Counselor in Virginia.
Ward choir accompaniest

Primary 1st Counselor
Choir Director
Merrie Miss Activity days

Primary Chorister
Stake Primary Chorister
Primary President

Primary Chorister
Relief Society Chorister
Choir Director

Beehive Counselor
Relief Society President

Primary teacher
Beehive Counselor
YW President
Activities Chairman
Primary Chorister
Visiting teacher supervisor
Ward Music Chairman
Mia Maid Advisor, and teaching organ lessons as part of my ward organist position. Teaching organ has probably been my favorite calling so far. I had 8 “students” who came every week. One of them would play 1 of the 3 or 4 hymns each week.

Idaho Falls
YW President
Family History Consultant current position

My greatest service has been being a visiting teacher. I have had some tremendous experiences. The following bullet points are my most memorable experiences:

In Virginia…
· Brenda - I was only in Virginia for a year, but I visit taught Brenda the entire time. She worked for the Bishop at a clothes factory and lived in a run down home (it might have been a trailer house) on the outskirt hills of Roanoke. She was very poor, uneducated, ungroomed, and very receptive and kind. I had to drive quite a ways to get to her home. Her husband was an alcoholic and was very anti -church, as a consequence, Brenda could not come to church. She did not have a phone, so initially I had to just drop by. She was so nervous because her husband would disapprove, but she longed for contact with the church. We set up visits for when he would not be home and would never know. One time I came and he was either drunk or on drugs and unconscious on the couch. It was a short visit.
· I cannot remember the middle-aged sister I visit taught, she lived in some apartments in a bad part of town. I walked in the middle of a gun-fight as I went into the complex. I had to wait in her apartment for ½ hour after visiting so the policeman could get control of the situation.

In Texas
· Rose Garcia – an inactive friend that had 2 children. She went from total inactivity to a counselor in the primary. She ended up getting a divorce, which I was really sad to hear about
· I visit taught a black single mom who had 6 children living in one of the poorest situations I’ve seen. All of her children were mentally slow. I only visit taught there only once and the bishop pulled me out. When I went there were human feces on the floor, the smell was overwhelming. There was no air conditioning so all the doors and windows were open in the southern Texas town. There were flies everywhere. While I was talking, one of her boys started a fire as he sat behind her.

In California
· I cannot remember the name of the people I taught, I just remember going to a trailer home of a sister who had a virgin Mary statue in her front room. She was very poor and the stench was almost unbearable. I don’t know that she ever came to church, but she was always very receptive to me.
· My visiting teaching partner was Alice Fish, a middle aged single sister with lots of energy and spunk. She struggled with her lot in life and I know I really helped her. I don't think she had ever been a visiting teacher except with me.

In Montana
Lisa Carpenter – lived way out on the outskirts of town. She was about my age and had 4 children. Her husband was a cow-hand on a ranch. She lived in a mobile home trailer. She was inactive, but really just needed a little attention as she was so receptive. She became active and also a worker in the primary.

In Washington
Hazel Woodworth - the first time I visited her I had to drop buy without calling. She lived close to downtown Vancouver, which was in a rough part of town. Hazel was divorced and had a hard life. Our first encounter, she smoked and drank coffee while we visited. She proclaimed to have joined other churches as she was so dissatisfied with the LDS church. Her daughter lived on the streets of Portland. Somehow she let me come back. She seemed to soften each time. She had a mild heart attack and decided it was time to give up smoking. She called me one time a said she was thinking of devious ways to get a cigarette and could I please help her. After that she started coming to church. She ended up going through the temple, and was my secretary when I was RS President. She moved to Montana shortly after we moved and is still active today.

Peggy Schaeffer – a very poor widow in Vancouver. She had 6 children, most who were mentally slow, most them, even though adults, lived with her. Peggy came to church a couple of times and did not own or would not wear a dress. She would sit in the back row. One of her sons would come and sit in on the visits whenever I came. I think he had a “crush” on me and it really made me uncomfortable. For years Peggy would send me a Christmas card with just her name signed. I don’t think she could read and write very well.

In Boise
Le – a divorced single mom going to school. She lived in one of the apartment complexes. Her divorce was bitter and she didn’t feel comfortable going to church. I don’t think she ever had a testimony, but she would let me in every month. I was helped several times to share a spiritual message with her and we became very good friends.
*Another young girl in her early twenties in an apartment complex, I can’t remember her name. I would always have to just drop by. She was a strip tease dancer for a club in Nampa. She ended up getting cancer (I think it was colon cancer) and had to quit her career. I visit taught her for 6 months and was making great progress and then she moved.

Christy – lived in government subsidized housing, divorced with children. As she had 3 young women and I was young women president, I was asked to VT there. She was excommunicated from the church, and quite bitter. But for some reason she would let me in month after month. She helped with a church activity or two, but that was about it. When we moved into a rental home, switching wards and stakes, she happened to be in that ward and lo and behold, I was called again to be her visiting teacher. No one knew I was acquainted with her. Once again she would let me in. A couple of times she would put me off in a month and then call me the last day of the month and ask why I hadn’t been there yet. My favorite memory if taking Jennifer with me and Jenn speaking to her said, “Christy, I’m a sinner and you’re a sinner, why don’t we both go back to church.” Only Jenn could have got away with that one.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Pictures from the MTC

I just received pictures from Katie (she signs her letters Sister Katherine Fager) at the MTC. The pictures are in no particular order. The first picture is of the Provo temple. Katie goes to the temple once a week and I have a few pictures of her studying on the front lawn of the temple (on Sundays). Katie's mission president requests that all shirts be tucked in. Katie says that is quite the chore to keep everything tucked, but she is so obedient.

Here is a picture of her companions, Sister Barratt from Arizona and Sister Peterson from Utah. She seems to enjoy her companions and what they have to teach her.

This is a picture of her District. Elder Ellison is the district leader and as you can guess loves basketball. Elder Craft and Katie seem to be the ones understanding the language the best so far, I think they have a little competition going, Elder Harris has quite the sense of humor and keeps thing light to break the intense studying.

Armenia is a long ways away....

This is my personal favorite picture of Katie All her letters say she loves a mission and the gospel.

This picture is a little fuzzy, but if you enlarge it and look at her name tag you will get a sample of Armenian. There are 39 characters in the alphabet. She says the hardest thing about the language is the pronunciation because some of the characters are very similar in pronunciation, for instance the "t" "tz" "dz" "d" - are similar but oh so different and those are not the hard ones which she couldn't describe. She calls herself a nerd because she carries around cards to memorize during exercise. Her teacher describes her as intense. He suggested in their last interview that she help others in her district know what she knows.

I included this picture to show that Katie is having a lot of fun on her mission and hasn't lost her sense of fun.