Thursday, August 9, 2018

Elder Jake Hough, 8.8.18--week 2

Sziastok! (Literally Hello y'all in Hungarian :D)

This last week was even CRAZIER than the first, for many reasons, of which I will get to soon. But I wanted to start with my testimony that God and His Son Jesus Christ live, and direct their church through a living prophet today, Russell M Nelson. He Loves us all and wants us to return to live with Him again. Alright, onto the week.

First off the MTC is AMAZING and I love it here. It's harder than anything else I've done, but it's amazing. It's the simplest yet most complicated way to live life. But to start off, I want ya'll to know: Temple cafeteria food is manna in the wilderness, it is DIVINE (agreed!!!). After our initiatories today we had some food and OOOOOOOOH Man it was tokeletes (perfect). Makes me kinda not wanna go back to MTC cafeteria food....hehe. But the initiatory ordinances pour out blessings so much s that I have to keep going back to catch them all they are so great, one of my favorite parts of the temple. 

So last thursday was Christensen and Reynolds nover ("Sister" in Hungarian) and I's last chance to teach our person, Edit (one of our teachers). We had talked for three lessons about basically the same thing, just going into detail about the Holy Ghost, what it feels like and how to tell if it's in your life, and we taught her prayer. Well I felt strongly in planning for our last lesson that we should talk about the restoration and invite her to be baptized, cause it says in Preach My Gospel (standard curriculum for missionaries) that you should "Never hesitate to extend the invitation to baptism after the first lesson, even if they haven't read the BoM (Book of Mormon) yet, because that is how powerful the spirit can testify Brothers and Sisters. So I felt this and brought it up in comp(anion) study, but the sisters both felt we shouldn't, and I didn't want to argue and the whole companion situation is still getting used to so I didn't say anything but almost felt myself saying the invitation out loud the spirit was constraining me that much. I asked them again and more firmly one of the sisters said no we shouldn't. So, a little frustrated I gave up trying to get them on board. I thought it out before the lesson, and I felt my entire being seemingly screaming at me to ask her to be baptized. She's prayed and read the scriptures and asked. The invitation had to be made. But we get into the lesson and nothing came out. I kept my mouth shut, because I was afraid at what the sisters would say if I went against what we had "agreed" on. There was a pause in conversation and I still didn't do it, and I'll be honest, I felt AWFUL the rest of the day. I had just denied someone the opportunity to come unto Christ because I was SCARED of what the sisters would say. It was role play, yes, but it might as well have been a real investigator, and I couldve held that opportunity from them because of my fear of man, not God. I got on my knees that night and pleaded for forgiveness, and my words to you that are from the late prophet Thomas S Monson: "NEVER, EVER, postpone a prompting." EVER. Act on the promptings of the spirit and you will never go astray. I know this to be true. But I learned from it, and have vowed to not do it again.

Also this week my musical abilities are being put to the test thank GOODNESS! I've wanted to play piano this entire time and only on friday last week did I find out that Christensen Nover plays violin and she is GOOD. REALLY GOOD. So we found an arrangement and are practicing it for a tuesday or sunday devitional, which would be in front of possibly general authorites and 2200 missionaries...much bigger than I'm used to. But with the Lord all things are possible, I am just really grateful for the opportunity to play the piano at this point. That arrangement if you wnat to look it up and listen to it is Amazing Grace/As now we take the Sacrament/How Great Thou Art medley. It is gorgeous, simple yet powerful, and As Now we Take the Sacrament is offically my favorite hymn because of this arrangement. It's so thoughtful and deep. I encourage you to look the medley up. It's by a man by the last name of McCabe. And my german companion Elder Suanders can play cello, and we just got Steven Sharp Nelsons A poor Wayfaring arrangement, and we'll do that before the end of the month. My good friend Elder Delpontone left for Anaheim California ASL mission this week, yesterday actually, and he is AMAZING. Even if he is going to alabama (Roll Tide?) I love him so much he's an inspiration to me and a true friend. I'll have a pic of us attached. (Also for those of you who went and read the Christlike Character Talk, that is the similar title but not anywhere NEAR the same address. I learned after I emailed about it that "Character of Christ" is a MTC specific address, and I'll ask around to see where I can get it. Bocsi akkor az!)

There is so much I want to say but I can't say it all, you'll have to get a lot of it when I get back, and itll be in my journals, but I want y'all to know that the adversary is cunning. He is the Master of making you feel icky, sad, and inadequate but most importantly, like you don't measure up. That happened this week where one day I was feeling unaturally down about the language and as a class we had already made weekly plans for the rest of the MTC language wise, and I felt like I wasn't doing enough. Then I was reading in the Hungarian Triple combo (Book of Mormon, Doctrine and Covenants and Pearl of Great Price all in one book) (Which I have and it's beautiful) and I was pointing out some grammar that started to make sense to Delpontone, the elder I'm close with. He then turned to me and said that is a miracle you can understand that already just 14 days in. And I said thanks and all but then it clicked: Satan hadn't tried to get me by saying YOU CANT DO IT, he almost got me by saying YOU ARENT DOING ENOUGH. Which is crazy to see. So be looking for that in yalls life. If you ever feel like you aren't doing enough, or you could be doing more, pray to know if there is anything, ask someone else, and if you are doing enough and that is just you feeling like personally you arent doing enough yet you are, don't get tooo ahead of yourself, or Satan can use that against you. 

I love yall and wish I could say more but there is too much, but know that Christ died for YOU, and that they want you to use that Atonement of Christ to come closer to Him.

Til next week! Sziastok es szeretek vagytok! WHOOP! (Texas A&M Aggies will yell this as an expression of approval or excitement ;)

Hough Elder

Squire Testver and Hungarian District (group of missionaries going to the same mission) selfie.
The Hungarian District (in other words, Jake and six sister missionaries :)
Group photo with the zone (a group of several different districts at the Missionary Training Center)
 Squire Testver--He's so fun!
 Elders Delpontone and Hough
 Elders in the zone all before the ASL missionaries left

Thursday, August 2, 2018

Elder Jake Hough, 8.1.18--week 1

Hello Everyone!

This is Jenn writing. I just wanted to share a few things as we begin this journey with Jake. First of all, thank you for coming along! It means a great deal to Jake and his parents. If you were accidentally added or if at any time you don't wish to receive these emails, please don't hesitate to reach out to me. 

Any comments or explanations I make will be in red. If you have any questions about anything, again, let me know! 

Below is Jake's contact information:

Mailing address (until September 25, 2018):
Elder Jacob Allan Hough
2005 North 900 East Unit #173
Provo, Utah 84602

Mailing address (after September 25, 2018):
Elder Jacob Allan Hough
Hajnoczy Jozsef utca 14
1122 Budapest

Over these next two years, I know it would mean a lot for him to hear encouraging words from you and if what he has shared has touched you or taught you in any way. If you do email or write him, I'm sure he will write you back when he has a chance, but with only one day a week to dedicate a little bit of time to letter writing, it might be a while before he can respond. Thanks for your patience there!

Also, this will be the LONGEST email, so no need to panic. :)

If you'll indulge me, I just wanted to share a special experience from the day Jake reported to the Missionary Training Center. Jake flew out of the small College Station airport last Wednesday. He had a connection in Dallas and then flew to Salt Lake City, Utah, where my parents (Allan and Cindy Lee) were waiting to pick him up. They took him out for a quick bite to eat and then they went straight to Provo for his report time of 12:45pm.

The Sunday before Jake left, our friend, Kendall, told us that his sister, Annette, is a greeter at the MTC. He asked us what Jake's report time was and said he'd pass it on to his sister, on the off chance they cross paths.

This was the experience related to me by Kendall's wife, Jennifer, who was visiting family in Utah when she called me Wednesday night. Jennifer told me she had just come from Annette's house and as she shared the experience with Jennifer, Annette couldn't do it without getting a little emotional. 

There were 404 missionaries who reported to the MTC that day. There is someone assigned for each one and the greeters don't get to choose who they greet. Jennifer's sister-in-law only knew that "Jake Hough from Texas, who was going to Hungary" was arriving at 12:45. (Note: the MTC greeted over 400 missionaries on that day from 12:30-1:30pm. The incoming missionaries were assigned to one of four groups and arrived in 15 minute increments. You do the math!! That's efficiency at its finest!!) Well 12:45 came and went. No sign of him. 12:50 came and went. A couple more minutes passed and then a car pulled up on Annette's side (there were two lines for vehicles to be in). Annette asked if this was a Sister or Elder arriving. My dad (Grandpa Lee) said it was an Elder. Annette then asked what mission and when she heard Hungary Budapest, she stopped and asked, "Jake Hough?" (First of all, Hough is not a last name easily pronounced. So we're always impressed when people get it the first time. But the fact that this woman knew his whole name and was waiting for him made my dad choke up with tears). Jake was thrilled to meet his friend's aunt and squeezed her hand for a long time. Annette said he looked great, that he's so excited, and that he's going to do a great work! She continued to tell Jennifer that they see SO many missionaries come and go from all walks of life, but said you can just tell that Jake is pure to the core. So clean and pure. 

We were so touched by this assessment of Jake from someone who spent maybe a minute with him before sending him on his way which, by the way, we've heard that it's down to 9 minutes from curb/drop off to classroom!!!

I hope Jake recognized the magnitude of that special greeting the moment he arrived at the MTC--orchestrated by his loving Heavenly Father who always knows the exact place Jake is and what he needs (it's the same for all of us). And I hope it carried him through the coming days because Jake got totally hit with the unexpected!! After receiving his email this afternoon, I don't know whether to laugh or cry. Maybe a little of both!! 

Without further ado....

Sziastok y'all!

Wow. It has been so, darn CRAZY this last week. Tons has happened and there are a ton of changes that I've had out of the gate that I was not expecting at all, so I'll try to go through a lot of it. It started at the Dallas airport, because I got there and saw an elder with his nametag going home to ogden. I found out he's Elder Corrigan. He was in Brazil but had serious health problems. Sad, but he went out and served. Then another elder showed up later by the name of Cook, and I froze. We had worked in the Houston Temple together before we left, and we were leaving for the MTC the same day!! that was awesome, we got to sit next to each other on the plane to Salt Lake and we've been friends ever since, and we still bump into each other often so that is awesome. Also I saw Elder Manley (Jake's friend from College Station!) yesterday! Which is the day before he left, that was fun to see someone from home. He's doing great. Left this morning I think. 

So when I first got here and was shown to get into the "military line" of papers and name tags and all that fun stuff (my tag looks sweet by the way I'll attach a picture) I got my companion assignment. Whooh yeah Elder Coles who I met through the Pre MTC!* no. It wasn't him. He is delayed from the MTC until OCTOBER which means I have no companion for the 9 weeks I am in attendance at the MTC. (Missionaries exist in companionships--sometimes trios in short-term extenuating circumstances. They are always in pairs and always together!) So yeah, wasn't expecting that to happen! I have a special and very rare situation of being a "Solo Missionary", meaning my rules are you just can't be alone or with a single female, there has to be two. Well, that's not too bad. Except the Hungarian district is me and 6 other sisters (Noverek). So I am alone with sisters for about 8 of the 16 hours a day for 9 weeks...OI! I was feeling a little uncomfortable by this point, and then to top it off I teach with two sisters, and my roommates are all German-speaking, which means two things. 1) I am the only Hungarian Elder of the 2200 missionaries in the MTC, and 2) I have no one to practice the language with outside of classes. 

The Sisters are AMAZING, I love em they are so fun to be around and to learn with. And the German Elders are amazing too. They are really loud sometimes but they are fun! Ha! I just was not expecting to be in the position I am in is all. The first few days were weird getting used to the 16 hours a day working and the eating schedule and keeping track of notes and it's a whole new way of living that frankly I took a few days to adjust and didn't know if I was adequate and those things. I was having heavy self esteem and confidence issues in my abilities--it was rough. But I read from Ether 12 verse 27 and that scripture came ALIVE for me. It took on a whole new meaning. I'm ok now, through fervent prayer!

the language of Hungarian is beautiful, but very difficult. I love it so much. It'll take me a bit to get it down and even by the end of the nine weeks it'll be rough going into the country. I am always tired by the end of the day and I just pass out, it's a new tired I never expected. But the Lord sanctifies our efforts. I know that to be true. Hope ya'll are all ok and well, I love ya'll and talk to ya next week!

Hough Elder

*Two months ago, we learned that Jake was part of a new Pre-MTC program (along with his fellow Hungarian missionaries) that the church is piloting. One of the his instructors from the MTC contacted him to let him know they would be working, one-on-one, for about an hour or so each week. Topics during their video meetings would include, among other things, his language training and making personal goals before he even arrives at the MTC. It's a very impressive program and because of it Jake was able to bear his testimony in Hungarian during his farewell talk the Sunday before he left.

Meeting elders in the Dallas airport.
A quick pic with Elder Manley before he left the MTC. 
The sweet name tag! 
The Hungarian speaking district. Which one of these is not like the others?

[Below is the letter Jake wrote to the family. I asked him if I could include it and he said yes.]

Hello fellow movie quotians! 

I have been restraining the quotes all week and it bugs me, but no one gets them, and if you didn't hear, I have no companion. Yep you heard right! I am officially "in downtown coolsville, population: me" (quote from Iron Giant ;). I am the only Hungarian elder cause my comp got delayed for whatever reason, which is so sad I wanted to meet him, and also sad because I am officially alone among so many. Which means I am district leader by Default! I have sister companions for teaching which actually is not bad, they have really good insights. We've taught 3 lessons to a person who wants to hear the gospel and for the most part, we've done great! Except we don't speak in fluent yet (our 10 year old, Calvin, commented that before long Jake isn't going to remember how to communicate in English :) and we can't understand what she says to us when she asks a question. :) You really have to learn to rely on the spirit to teach, they (the MTC instructors) have been emphasizing that a TON. "Don't get in the way of the spirit. Let there be silence for the spirit. Teach true, pure and simple truths so the spirit can teach." It's an interesting change to teaching for sure. 

I want y'all to know I was so grateful for the package (we mailed one off Tuesday last week while Jake was in the car, actually :) with personal letters and a small album with family pictures and encouraging church quotes. It arrived Thursday on his first full day). I was not feeling good about myself and when I got that package with y'alls letters I felt much better, it was noticeably different for sure. if you are ever having a hard time with ANYTHING, get on your knees, stop letting pride or discomfort get in the way of accessing the Atonement of Jesus Christ for strength beyond your capacity. That is how I got past my trial of fitting in and adjusting at the MTC. 

I haven’t fully adjusted but I’m more adjusted than the first four days which really made me doubt myself cause it was SOOOOO much thrown at me at once it was ridiculous. I realize I’m alone, I’m with sisters and the next day I get the assignment of district leader so woooooh! I was sinking fast, trying to bail out the water but to no avail. It was on the 3rd day that I realized I needed to repent for my lack of faith in Christ and his enabling atonement and to start using it in my everyday life. Every night now I have an accounting with God about what I did good and what I needed to repent for and be better for, and I pray every morning through the atonement for strength beyond my own, and the talk I heard that changed my life forever and still does is Elder Bednars “character of Christ.” try finding it and watching it for family home evening or on Sunday, it’s powerful. It really has changed my life. 

It's still different but I am doing much better because of prayer and pleading every night for strength beyond my own and you can have that, too. The pictures you sent are great, I was laughing hard at some of those! Haha! I want y'all to know I love you and that even though I do miss y'all, it's not debilitating for me. I can focus on the work while still missing which is a blessing in disguise for sure.

Love you all! God lives and his Son Jesus Christ governs his church through the prophet today Russell M Nelson. I know this to be true. 

til next week! Sziastok!
Hough Elder

With Grandma Lee who leaves on her 6th mission with Grandpa on Dec. 10th--this time to Iceland!
Jake's closet at the MTC which Jared reports has not changed in the 25 years since he was there. :) 
This is what it means to be a "solo missionary."

The talk by Elder Bednar (one of the Twelve Apostles) he was referring to. 

Saturday, July 28, 2018

February 2018

Sat. 2/3--Karcyn and I signed up for a Fun Run 5K at her intermediate school. I thought it would be "fun" for me and her to do this together. More importantly, I wanted her to have the experience of doing something hard and to learn it's not about winning. It's about staying the course and finishing. HOUGHS CAN DO HARD THINGS!

It's been a long time since I've participated in any kind of "run." So I probably wouldn't be much faster than her. She's jogged a mile around the neighborhood before without stopping, but that's it. The day of the run, we woke up to hard rain and cold temperatures. Man, running in nice weather is not especially pleasant. I certainly didn't want to run in the cold rain. Yuck. I thought I left this Portland weather behind! I prayed we'd get an update that it had been canceled. We did not. Dang. We were committed.

Our BEFORE pics.
We started at 9am. We had to run three laps around both the intermediate and elementary schools to get the distance. The first mile wasn't so bad, but the second was hard. Karcyn did great though. She kept plugging along even when it was apparent she was tired and had never experienced running beyond a mile. I stayed behind her so I could cheer her on, but let's be honest, that was my actual pace. I passed her once when she really slowed down, but got her back up to me again. There were middle school kids and and some adults posted in strategic places around the course to help us know which direction to go and to cheer us on. Even though though these people were complete strangers to me, I found their genuine encouragement very motivating.

As we began our third and final lap, Karcyn and I were some of the last runners on the course. A few minutes into it, there was a girl that came up and said hi to Karcyn. She had already passed us a couple of times, more or less dancing circles around us. She didn't seem too serious about the run--she was having fun. :) I don't know how this girl knew Karcyn, but she ended up staying alongside Karcyn so she wouldn't have to trudge the rest of the way alone.
Running on the grass made the last part of the 5K more strenuous, but I watched as this mystery girl gently persuaded Karcyn to keep up the good work and to not give up. Several times she kindly put her hand on Karcyn's back to encourage her, reassuring her that she's not alone and she's "got this." And then a curious thing happened. Karcyn actually picked up her speed and pulled far ahead of me with her new friend who stayed with Karcyn all the way to the finish line. I know this young lady could have finished the race sooner. She seemed to have boundless energy. It was, of course, touching to my mommy heart to see my daughter as the recipient of such a kind display of charity.  This young girl not only noticed Karcyn, but she made adjustments on her own path so that she could jog with Karcyn and cheer her along the road that was pushing her beyond her limits. It reminded me of the way we need to treat each other and to move in closer to those who are struggling along the way.
Karcyn found the strength and power to pull ahead in the end. This was the distance between us. You can barely see the bright pink pants of the young, nameless cheerleader.
Karcyn was not feeling very good after the race, so we hurried to find a toilet. All that lactic acid was catching up to her, but props to Karcyn--she kept everything in! :)
Here is our AFTER picture!
Calvin having creative fun with his pretzels. 
Sunday, 2/4--Jake and Cooper both representing their young men quorums up front at the beginning of a church meeting.
Monday, 2/5 at 6:50am--Calvin reading the Book of Mormon stories to JJ before they leave for the bus stop.
Calvin's triple-decker marshmallow and pretzel sandwich.
2/9--Cooper's second choir concert (I missed the Christmas one in December). He is in the center, second row from the bottom. They sounded wonderful!
Cooper is smiling down at the redheaded boy on the front row.
Looking really snazzy in a tuxedo!
We went out for ice cream as a family after Cooper's concert and our order number was the same as my special age, so I thought I'd embrace it.
2/10--The McCulloughs generously gave us an awesome Christmas gift--time at the new ALTITUDE jump park in town so off we went to have some family fun together and try it out. I'm not sure what Jake was thinking, but it wasn't until we were halfway there when I turned around in the car and noticed he had NO shoes on. ??
Cooper trying out the elasticity of the mat. It's pretty bouncy!
 Jake getting ready to jump up on that orange ledge.
 Cooper trying to join Jake.
 Calvin running from tramp to tramp.
 JJ trying the trapeze bar.
He was SO good at it. Had an awesome grip and didn't drop until he had swung as far out as he could.
 He inspired me to try it!
 But I chickened out!!
 Ahh, the battle of the brothers on the balance beam. Who will win?
 I believe Cooper was the last man standing.
 Now the "Second Sons" are battling.
 Again--Cooper is the last man standing (before falling).
 The hardest part is just getting out of the foam pit!
 Right, Jared? :)
Jake just hanging out on the rock wall.

Now it's Cooper versus JJ. 
 I don't think JJ even saw it coming. But he's all smiles!
 Calvin versus Karcyn. Not sure that's a fair fight.
 Well, I'll be!! Look at that!!! Way to go, Karcyn!!
 Calvin wanted another opponent so Jake took him up on his offer.
 And Calvin decided to take off!! "Forget that!"
 Battle of the Brothers--rematch.
 Wanna piece of me?
 Cooper did it again! (He is a solid kid--a small ox. Doesn't even know his own strength.)
 And Jake--ever the good sport!!
JJ back on the trapeze bar. We had a hard time pulling him away. He LOVED it!! He has impressive upper body strength.
 Where's JJ?
 There he is!!
 And he's gone again.
 Jake giving the bar a try.
 He's strong too and did great!
I finally got up enough nerve to try it.
Unfortunately, my heavy body and lack of hand/arm strength and this thing called gravity all worked against me. I basically fell into the pit.
Face first. 

Then it was time for some action at the dodge ball arena. Jared is telling JJ to get out of the way. He's going after Cooper!
JJ seeking protection behind Jared. 
 They had a blast. And wore themselves out!! This is Jared splayed on the ledge.
 I think Jared said he was concerned he hurt something--like maybe his heart. :)
 JJ kept going, though!
 Cooper needed a break, too!
 Can you find JJ?
 Cooper trying his hand at swinging.
 And struggling to get out of the foam. The biggest workout of all!
 Go Calvin!
 Calvin at the hoops!
 Mom versus the reigning beam champ. Who will win?
 Mom versus Calvin.
 I think he won. :)
 Karcyn on the climbing wall.
 JJ on the wall. He's a monkey.
 Karcyn and Calvin on the beam--the rematch.
 She should have left well enough alone! Calvin got her that time!
I LOVED the rock wall on our cruise and want to do something like this on a regular basis. It's a little harder on your feet when you do it in socks, however, than with shoes.
 Jake decided to join me.
 But apparently I wasn't moving fast enough for him. So he decided to go around me.
 Show off.
We had A BLAST!!! I swear that was more exercise in two hours than we had in the two months prior to that afternoon!

This is a picture of the kids watching the Altitude videos we captured after church the next day.
Jake playing around with JJ before going to a church meeting.
Wed. 2/14--This is the inside of my washing machine drum. This is what happens when you wash a book that was in a certain child's laundry basket and they just dumped the contents of the basket in to the washer without checking. 
Since this was going to be Karcyn's last Valentine's Day with all four of her brothers here for a couple years, we decided to do something special for her. We secretly asked them to write "love notes" to her and we were going to get her a gift and deliver these things to her at her school to surprise her and take her out for a treat.

JJ's note to her (transcribed by Jake). But JJ drew, colored and labeled the picture himself.
Cooper's note. 
Calvin's reluctant note.
Jake's note.
The little boys and I found this HUGE super soft, stuffed Koala bear at Aldi (for $12) and they wanted to get it for Karcyn (who loves animals). We pulled all the boys out of their schools early on Valentine's Day and went to Karcyn's school to check her out for the day and waited for her in the front office to surprise her.
The office staff were really touched by our gesture.
We were supposed to shout, "Surprise!" as soon as Karcyn entered the office, but somehow that fell really flat! Not sure what happened. I was really bummed actually.
But she was superexcited!! And had no idea of our plans!
Notice the stuffed dog with hearts all over it in her other arm? There is a boy named Matthew who gave that to her and asked her to be his Valentine. (!!!) That is a "build a bear" stuffed animal--high quality and very soft, too. It was very sweet of him to get her a gift. To show her gratitude, we made sure she wrote Matthew a thank you note thanking him for the dog (that she named Heart Spot) and to specifically tell him that she's "glad they're friends."
Walking to Nothing Bundt Cake to get a Gluten Free Chocolate Chip cake for Sis.
This was what I found when I went to tuck Karcyn in later that night. ;)
JJ's adorable Valentine's gift to us from school.
Thurs. 2/15--Cooper "licensed to drive" with his permit. Oi.
Fri. 2/16--Jared flew to Arizona the third weekend in February. His sister's youngest daughter Karyana was getting baptized. But her dad couldn't do it and Grandpa Hough isn't with us anymore. So Jared stepped into that role. It was his honor of course. It was a doubly good weekend, because Jared just happened to ordain Nicole's oldest son, Daniel, to the priesthood on Sunday as well. 
Tues. 2/20--Calvin got to enjoy an evening with reptiles at scouts!!
Jared was gone from Wed. 21st to Sat. evening of the 24th in February as well when he went on a fishing trip in Del Rio, Texas. At his dad's funeral, Jared connected with an old family friend, Josh, and they made future plans to get together. Josh flew in to San Antonio, Jared picked him up and they drove to Del Rio where they would be fishing on Lake Amistad (a large reservoir) right on the Texas/Mexico border. Unfortunately, the weather didn't exactly cooperate.
 But that didn't keep them from fishing or catching large mouth bass.
 Jared reports that the guide actually hooked this one and let Jared reel it in! :)
They fished for three full days and stayed in a trailer on a military base for two days because Josh is ex-military and a hotel the third night.
 The weather warmed up just a bit near the end.
Meanwhile, back in College Station, I got a call from JJ's teacher that Friday afternoon. She said that JJ had thrown up at school. The nurse couldn't reach me with the school phone so Mrs. Neidig tried calling on her cell. Apparently, JJ felt it coming on and made it to the garbage can. (As a former teacher, I'm so grateful my own child could do his teacher a favor by making it to the garbage can before getting sick!) He was out cold, sleeping, on the cot in the nurse's office when I got there to pick him up. I took an empty ice cream bucket with me just in case. It had been about twenty or thirty minutes since he had gotten sick (around noon) and it was only about a five minute drive home. As we entered the neighborhood, though, he threw up again. I'm so grateful I grabbed the bucket! I gave him some zofran and had him lay down on my bed so I could keep an eye on him. As is the routine, I starved the virus of all liquids and food, but this poor kid threw up once every hour or so for eight hours. Zofran didn't touch it. He started feeling marginally better that night so we (he) watched a lot of cartoons between 9-11pm. I dozed off and on with an uneasy, heightened sense of my own stomach and wondered about every little gurgle and movement I felt. I didn't eat anything myself since picking up JJ...just to be on the safe side.  
Around 12:30am as I was lightly snoozing, Calvin came down to talk to me. He said he threw up. He tried to make it to the bathroom but it came too fast. (He was pretty close but landed on the carpet not the tile). I gave him a bucket, some Zofran and had him lay down on his bed since Jared's side of the bed was already being used by the other Jared and once I had him tucked in and settled, I told him to come get me if he needed me.

A few hours later at 3:30am, Jake wandered into my room. I startled awake and asked, "Are you okay??" He said, "Yeah, I'm fine, but Cooper's puking his guts out." Lovely. So upstairs I went on this never-ending day and night. Fortunately, he had one of my bowls by his bed for who knows what reason, but at this point, I was super grateful he hadn't cleaned up the growing pile of stuff by his bed. His vomit was brown though. Which made me a little concerned. I would have to ask Jared about that when he contacted me. I cleaned out Cooper's bowl, got him zofran and told him to just rest. No eating, no drinking. I checked in on Calvin while I was up there. He said he had thrown up three more times. And it fit the pattern--about once an hour.

This was Cooper later on Saturday when he decided to join the living. Each of these boys threw up every hour for eight hours. We have never had such a volatile bug that hit us that close together. I wasn't convinced the rest of us were spared. I just waited. And kept my own stomach empty. I did tell Cooper I was worried about the color of his vomit. We hadn't eaten anything that color and I worried about dried blood or something worse. After a few moments, Cooper said he probably knew why it was that color. He decided to pour some of the Hershey's chocolate syrup into his mouth and drink it earlier that night. Yup. That would explain it!
Jared got home late Saturday night, thankfully! Though, since he was gone, I could have my own little nurse's room, so that was handy. I was supposed to visit the Brenham branch as the 2nd Counselor in the Stake Relief Society on Sunday, 2/25. Karcyn was starting to feel puny, so all the kids, except Jake stayed home. Jake and Jared went to our ward (though Jared went home after Sacrament meeting) and I went to Brenham. Karcyn complained of cramps in her gut. The location of her pain indicated it wasn't her stomach. She was almost 12 years old and Jared wondered if perhaps she was getting menstrual cramps. Those weren't completely out of the question, but considering our wonderful weekend, I highly doubted it. Before he went to church, Jared gave her some motrin and a heating pad. When he got home she said she was feeling a lot better. Maybe they were cramps. 
But at dinner, she wouldn't eat. And she looked kind of pale. We told her to go lay down so she did. We went up to check on her. She was on the floor reading a book when we found her, said she couldn't sleep because she hurt too much. Jared had her get on the bed so he could examine her. He pressed on her abdomen in several places. The one spot that was extremely sensitive was the lower right side--the same area as your appendix. And it wasn't so much when he pressed down. It was when he let up that it was painful for her. "Rebound pain." She didn't have a fever, but that wasn't a deal breaker. If it was her appendix, we really needed to know that. So I got ready to take her to the ER that night. I packed a bag for me with some overnight things and materials to read and work on. I put a few things in there for Karcyn. She got her shoes on. We said a family prayer. And she and I started walking toward the front door. I just happened to turn around and her face was sheet white. Without even thinking I asked, "Are you going to be sick?" She said yes. I quickly pushed her towards the half bathroom toilet just in front of me and she had barely gotten the lid up when she threw up and filled that toilet bowl. Eck. Well, the good news was--we wouldn't need to go to the ER! And amazingly enough, Karcyn just threw up the one time. Thank goodness for small miracles. That is the nastiest bug our family has ever had. It hit hard, but was over fairly quick. I'm glad it didn't drag out over two to three weeks. Jared, Jake and I never got it. 

Tues. 2/27--Blue and Gold Cub Scout Pack meeting and cake decorating. This design was all Cooper's idea for the "space" theme. I thought it was very creative. 
Wed. 2/28--New Beginnings in Young Women. All the incoming Beehives (12 year olds) were invited to attend. (Karcyn's birthday was just two weeks away). Three of the four girls were originally from the CS3 ward before we were realigned into the CS1 ward.

Just a great reminder!!