Monday, January 2, 2017

Isaac from the Mish 1/2/17

Haha, I´m using a computer in the bottom of some convenience store, I´m not sure exactly what´s going on but I think I don´t have unlimited time.

Alright! So I arrived in the field last week! Haha, I´m really loving it. My new compañero/entrenedor (en mission language, mi ´papi´) is Elder Bills, a guy from Idaho with a great sense of humor and a ton of patience. Haha, yeah I´m really lucky to have him as my trainer. He has 10 months in the mission, and I´m his first ´hijo´ jaja. Anyways.

First of all, our pensión is really nice. There are two other elders there with us, Elders Baipas de Uruguay and Elder Smith (from the fábrica they call it here, haha, it means Utah). They sure are great. The other day, at new years, we ate the VACA!!! Which is just a really big milanesa. Seems pretty much all we eat out here are milanesas ;) haha, meat thinly sliced and fried in bread. Yeah, my penchmates are awesome. I definitely could tell that it was a place where men were living if you know what I mean, but I think it´s improving.

They have a really cool nuevo año tradition down here- they build these giant muñecas and then burn em with fireworks. It´s crazy how much work they go through to build these giant wood and paper mache sculptures just to explode them, but I guess it´s pretty cool- jaja, these kids asked us to bless their muñeca as we were passing by. It was a 9 ft tall Snorlax. We just said a prayer with them instead haha.

It´s been really hot- so hot I woke up one night with heat exhaustion or something it was super uncomfortable. I´ve been sleeping on the ground because it´s cooler. Now that I´m used to it it´s actually more comfortable than the bunk.

The other night I prayed for protección contra el calor, and the next day when we left our pench it was cloudy and cool... It was really a personal blessing, told me that Dios listens to our prayers. That day was Sunday, and when we arrived at church they called me up to give an impromptu discurso and that was what I talked about. Someone complimented me on my spanish but they could have just been being nice. :) 

I was the only missionary of my group to arrive here- I was supposed to arrive with the rest of them in 2 weeks but because I learned so fast they cut my time- the other Elders are impressed how easily I´m speaking spanish, so that´s nice.

The other day, a member family brought us some food, and I felt so grateful I just about cried. The work that these members do for us- It´s really wonderful, because even though I can´t really do a whole lot to repay them I know that God blesses them, and so I´m double happy when people serve us.

The work is going really awesome. Miracles every day... crazy to see how the Lord prepares people and then we get to be there for them, it´s quite a beautiful experience. We just testify of a few simple things, and it changes peoples lives. It´s kinda crazy.

One of our investigadores with a fecha bautismal but just needs to get to church keeps not coming because his mom won´t let him... Kinda an interesting situation seeing as he´s 29 living with his mom. A cool guy but we´re gonna wait to see if he´s willing to act on his faith. 

The other day this lady stopped us and told us all of this stuff about her spiritual name or something... It was really interesting. And we were teaching this one lady and she just accepted everything we were saying- I began to realize she wasn´t all there and tried to signal to my compañero haha. It was a sweet experience anyway. A very faithful and loving woman, but when her husband came with the medication and other things I realized she´s not all there anymore. But she still had such a sweet spirit. I´m always amazed by how much I have to learn from our elders. 

We keep finding people in the street and teaching them a ton and it´s super amazing, but then they live in another area haha- so it´s really awesome and they totally accept the book of mormon and the restauracion and everything and then we hand them off to the other missionaries- that area must be pretty happy with Elder Bills and I, haha.

They drink this drink here called Yerba Mate, I don´t know how it´s not against the word of wisdom but it´s pretty great. I got hooked on it a few days back. It´s pretty much chopped plants and hot water. Haha I wish I brought my camera so I could send you guys the pictures but I didn´t know we were doing the cyber this way.

Sorry, there´s so much to talk about. I´m feeling pretty great. My dreams are pretty weird because now I´´m never alone in them- I always have to have mi compañero haha and I always have my placa. The other night my friend Dayson came up to me (in the dream) and I was like, ¿Donde está su placa? haha.

The coolest thing to me is that Heavenly Father uses the weak and simple (i.e., me and the other missionaries) to do mighty things. I see miracles every day, but the biggest one is a change of heart. It´s amazing to see the change that our message brings into peoples lives.

Well, I´m pretty exhausted. Love you all! Thanks for all the support.

Saturday, December 31, 2016

What a year!

I personally had quite the year in 2016. So much learning, so many experiences, so much for which I am grateful.

Back in January, I was still looking for work. I was in the process of interviewing for positions at Vivint and Ancestry. I was still in the MoTab, we were getting ready for the Messiah Concert, and at the same time, as a 2nd year member, I was preparing for the Temple Square Chorale's Spring Concert. I was still doing stuff with the Your Excellence Project podcast.  Rebecca and I were in our 3rd? 4th? month of marriage therapy. Even though I wasn't working for a home health & hospice company anymore, I was still playing music for assisted living facilities and senior centers (Treeo, Charleston, Canyon Breeze, etc.). I got to present to a professional networking group at LDS Employment Resources, a great opportunity for me to test my ideas for a new (another one?!?!?!) consulting business I was thinking about starting with Jesse Angeles' help.

February we were still doing marriage therapy. I think we made a lot of progress by then, a far cry from where things were at back in 2015. A lot of the same from January (MoTab, interviewing for jobs, singing for ALFs & senior centers).  I actually started working on getting an insurance license in Utah, my buddy Kahau Kai in Arizona wanted me to help him expand his business into Utah. So I was learning about the insurance profession, learning about fixed-index annuities and how to pass the insurance exam.  I was still receiving unemployment insurance so I had to take the occasional class, like the LinkedIn class I sat in on.

March started with me getting a physical in preparation for the European Tour for the MoTab. I remember that since my previous physical a year or two prior, I had lost a bit of weight (thanks Rebecca!) and so my numbers were a lot better. I attended the Utah Valley Job Fair with Jesse Angeles (I miss hanging with that dude!). Speaking of Jesse, we started doing some martial arts training, that was cool. Wish I could've continued that.  I got to participate in SheTech in place of my podcast buddy Enoch since he was sick. That was a fun day...being in the UVU arena filled with teen and pre-teen girls doing science and tech stuff. That was loud. But the young ladies in my group had fun and did really well on the group project. I think they were closest to the "real" solution of anyone else, but I'm a little biased. I got to "imitate" Don Ho again for the Orem Senior Center's "Grammy's" event. March ended on a high note with the Messiah concert with the MoTab. Sorry, but no other Messiah experience will ever measure up to performing it with the MoTab+OTS. Pretty awesome sauce. 

April will go down in my personal and our family history as a pivotal month. That was the month when seemingly out of the blue my cousin Ginai came to visit Utah and I found out that she was a member of the LDS Church. I didn't know that prior. We hung out, she got to see me as a member of the MoTab during General Conference, and with all the changes and opportunities and efforts to figure things out, the question "Is it time to move back to Hawaii?" was not only revisited but answered with a resounding, undeniable YES. There was the Lakeside Men's Chorus Spring Concert, there was the Temple Square Chorale Spring Concert. That was amazing, singing Mack Wilberg's amazing "The Prodigal" under the baton of Ryan Murphy. Easily one of my top-5 choir experiences in my life. On the job hunting front, I actually landed an interview with JetBlue and, were I NOT planning on moving, would've probably ended up taking the job for the flight benefits alone. I was committed to continuing forward with the fixed-index annuity gig for Kahau too, but the YES answer kinda put the ki-bosh on that. 

May was a lot of similar stuff: MoTab, singing for ALF's and such. I was still committed to helping Enoch with the Excellence Summit event up at the Zermatt Resort, I presented at the event and think I did ok there. Enoch and I made it our 50th episode. Recorded at least, I don't know about whether those last 10 or episodes will make it to the podcast.  I actually started working for LDS Employment Resources as an account manager, even though I was almost to go on tour with MoTab and then moving to Hawaii.

June was a fun month, I got to go to Hawaii for my 25th year class reunion. I got to see my wonderful friend Charlie! Maile and Rebecca accompanied me on the trip. We were most worried about Maile's transition to Hawaii, her being a junior and other things (in retrospect, we should've worried as much about everyone else, including Isaac, oh well). Boys In The Hall sang together for the first time in nearly 25 years, and we got 38K views of a video of us singing "Hole Waimea" in...a hall. Craziness. We were finally able to get a feel for what was going on with my dad's estate, being physically present makes a big difference when the brother you hoped would be responsible wasn't being responsible. We decided then that we would move our family into the house and start cleaning the place up. Then we headed back to Utah to prepare me for the MoTab's European Tour.

July was basically the European Tour. So many amazing experiences on tour, that would require it's own blog post. Meanwhile Rebecca is busily preparing our Utah home for sale. What a crazy time. The weekend we got back from tour was the Pioneer Day Concert too. Crazy! There was a bon voyage party thrown for us. Lots of people, lots of friends. We lived in Provo, in that neighborhood, attended that ward congregation, since 2002. Nearly 14 years in one place. 

Of course, August is no let up. The UPACK container arrives so we can ship the harp, the cello, and then whatever else we can fit. Yes, we basically got a shipping container for two musical instruments. I get a video interview with Kamehameha Schools (the job I'd eventually accept and am currently in) days before our flights to leave Hawaii. Sidney gets married!!! And then on Aug. 13th, the Chock family is on a flight for Hawaii. One-way tickets.  Move in to a crazy living situation (we told the kids to pretend we were camping out). Getting the kids started with school (Maile had to leave Utah early because Mililani starts Aug. 1 and the principal insisted she start then). I got offered the job at Kamehameha, to start Sept. 16. 

The rest of 2016 is pretty much recorded in this blog. Getting Isaac ready for his mission. Becoming part of a new (to us) ward congregation. But not really new since we already had lots of friends in the ward. 

Hanging with The Haverlys. Hanging with The Ishikawas. My mom. My brothers. My cousin Ginai. 

So many things to reflect on in 2016. Looking forward to 2017.

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Argentina MTC Address

Elder Isaac Chock
Rivadavia 599
Quilmes 1878
Buenos Aires, Argentina


Tropical Christmas - jumbo shrimp - boneless ribs

It's just weird.  Strapping the Christmas tree on top of the minivan whilst wearing flip flops.  Decorating the tree with lights and our old ornaments with fans on to cool us down.  Making Grandma Thelma's Christmas Toffee in a sweaty, humid kitchen and then having to put it in the fridge instead of just the garage.  What??  The whole reason to bake for the season was just to warm up the house, right?  No.

It is making me think about what Christmas is really about.  So many of those traditions that I equate with the Holidays are just not here.  Yes, we try here.  Santa in a canoe or on a surfboard and all that.  But mostly it just seems out of place.  I've realized that lights are nice, but aren't they meant to be seen through the window of my car, while the kids complain about not being able to de-fog the windows enough to see them?  Or huddled in coats and scarves while I see my breath as well as hear the narration to the Nativity on Temple Square?  And sipping hot chocolate here - gross!  What does it all mean?

How do we really focus on the message of Christmas, the message of Christ?  In the end, it really is up to me.  It is how I spend my time, and the choices I make to serve and love those around me or not.  It is the time I spend with my scriptures and on my knees.  Or not.  That's it.  It's me.  And I am me so the real essential message of Christmas isn't going anywhere.  It's here. Or not.  My choice.  

I am here with my family, and I love them.  We have family here as well, and dear friends that include us as if we were family.  I go on jogs in different parts of the city and I marvel at the natural beauty that surrounds me every day.  The breeze, the flowers, the friendliness of people.  I love that there are so many different churches and sanctuaries here in every culture you can imagine, and I love that they are well-kept, with manicured grounds like our temples.   It brings me peace to know that religion and culture is important here, and I would like to learn more about the world that surrounds me. There are still stinky cars and dilapidated buildings and rusty worn fences, but sometimes the stark difference of the man-made stuff helps me to SEE the other more brightly.

Being here at this time of year causes me to ask myself questions such as:  What is my culture?  Where do I fit here?  How do I belong here?  Will my children find a way to belong here?  How will that be done?

But there is always my "to-do" list and that hasn't changed much.  Laundry (ok - that's WAY different - no dryer means we hang everything outside on the covered lanai and just so you know, when it's 85% humidity, it never truly gets dry=), grocery shop, try to get a JAMES to do homework since he's getting letter grades now, clean house, put gas in car, take kids here and there, plan lessons for primary, etc.  For the FIRST time since I had Isaac, I just started having three hours a day to myself.  It is strange.  And wonderful.  And a little sad, but just a teensy bit.

I have dreams to chase!  I have hours and hours of videos and voice lessons to listen to as part of my training to be a better voice teacher.  I have loads and loads of cleaning to still do in this house.  And we still have a lot to figure out about this house, how long we will live here, etc, and that affects so many other decisions like where our kids will go to school next year.  It seems like a bit of a holding pattern but also a blessing of time that comes with a huge responsibility for us to BE PREPARED for the next step.  To quote from a talk I listened to recently - Come what may and LOVE it!

Isaac Mish #1

Como Un Bebe

I´m so happy to be emailing but I only have 5 minutes so this is going to have to be brief.
I arrived here with all the other missionaries from Norteamerica, and at first I was in a trio companionship with them. They were really loud and hard to get focused but I love them so much! I learned so much from them. One day it was going hard and I decided to ask one of them why they were here. One by one we all went around and talked about why we were here... Tears were shed it was pretty great. Definitely inspiration, eh?...

After the first few days though, I was doing spanish so well that I´ve been moved to a completely Latino district. My new companion is Elder Correa, he is SO amazing. When we first met I was pretty sure he´s the perfect missionary... Probably one of the 3 nephites or something. Nonetheless I think it´s testing both of our patience to be un compañerismo porque he is really fast and organized and I´m like a baby in spanish... However, we call ourselves the dream team. We learn so much from each other and I´m really grateful he´s my companion.

So... Yeah, having all the classes and every part of my day in spanish and having to already teach in spanish is EXCITING. But I admit that it´s really REALLY humbling. I´m like a baby in a lot of ways, haha. I guess that´s all the Lord needs is someone who´s willing, eh? It´s been interesting not being able to express myself- I feel like I´ve been reading the scriptures and talking about them my entire life, but now I have to start at level one. It really strengthens my belief in God being able to fill all of the empty spaces in me. I really love it.

The food here is great. The Latinos were really incredulous when I said that I had the best hamburger in my life here... ´But you´re from los Estados Unidos!¨ Jaja, man I love it here.

We get to go through the temple soon, in our planner mi compañero y yo put huge smiley faces and stuff. WOOHOO! EL TEMPLO!!!

I love how all the cultures mix here... I think that most of the Norteamericanos keep themselves separate, sometimes it´s felt like West Side Story... But I think the spirit of the work really destroys all of that. We´re all equals here, and I feel like I´m helping to bridge the gap between los Norteamericanos and the Latinos... They call me a Latino Truche, or a fake one for now, haha. Another kinda nickname I´ve picked up is Chock Norris... Haha, the Latinos always yell CHOCK! When I pass by, they just really love me. I think it´s because I communicate with them and do my best even though I´m like a baby in Spanish... I make mistakes but they just laugh and help me out. 

Man, sometimes though, it´s like my brain is competamente VACIO... Haha. So humbling. I love it. And somehow, the ´Dream Team´ seems to be doing perfectly well. I know both of us are exactly where the Lord wants us to be. We are equal partners, even though my compañero is a recent convert and I was born in the church, and he is a perfect spanish speaker and I am a spanish baby. He always says, ¨You are my best friend, Chock. Te amo.¨ He is a really good example of Christlike love, compassion, patience, and yeah. I am learning a lot from him.

I miss dancing. ;) And also, for some reason when we play futbol it´s okay to get really aggressive and keep score (it´s just super super fun. ;) ) but when we play volleyball we´re not allowed to... I was like, what? Haha I think it´s more fun to be competitive, it doesn´t have to be... angry? Enojado? Ay... Anyhow, Yo se que todos las reglas son importantes.

There´s so much cool culture stuff in all the different paises that the missionaries are from... We´re from all over the americas. So cool.

The other day, I somehow ended up singing some Marc Anthony, hehe... People ask me to sing Marc Anthony all the time now, HAHA! Haha, it´s awesome, and I get kinda shy, but I´m glad I listened to all that salsa before my mission. People thought it was weird but... Yeah it´s just awesome. 

I had pictures, but I don´t have a cord. I´ll have to figure out next week. 

LES AMO!!! Haha, we say that all the time here. LES AMAMOS! Haha. 

I am glad to know I´m exactly where the Lord wants me. I love you all, and I think that you can also know that the Lord is very, very aware of you if you will pray to Him.

I love you all very, very much. My friend Bayanda would make fun of me for that haha but that´s okay.

Elder Chock

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

A hui hou Elder Chock...

Last night we said our last good-byes to Isaac, now Elder Chock, at the Honolulu International Airport.  We know he'll be a great missionary and will bless the lives of the people of Buenos Aires. That knowledge doesn't make it easier to say "a hui hou."

The hardest part for me was hearing my other kids cry real tears of sadness for seeing him go. I get misty right now thinking back to Lydia, James, and Angela sobbing at different points last night. Rebecca held herself together pretty well, but I know today she's pouring herself into housework to distract herself. And then there's Maile and me. I think we are alike in how we hold back the crying thing as best we can. But I also know we both are very much going to miss that knucklehead.

Rebecca and I took, Elder Chock to the temple in Lā‘ie yesterday morning. We enjoyed having some time together in the House of the Lord. We actually got to see our friend Kealaula Haverly in there too, he's leaving for his mission by the end of December.

Mom holding it together as we say our farewells at the TSA line.

They have some special handshakes they've worked on. Maybe this will help them remember them for when he comes home.

No tears. Yet. Ahem.

Elder Chock was playing with Lydia. I didn't catch video of it, but I'm sure those of you who know Elder Chock can imagine it: he was dancing, doing the robot, goose stepping, just being goofy through the line. Lydia of course was loving it and giggling. Until she couldn't see him anymore.

Rebecca and I didn't want to just take the other kids home after that. Needed some kind of buffer, a distraction, whatever.

We went to see Moana in Mililani so we could drop Maile off in Wahiawa right after. We even got the kids popcorn, which we normally don't do. I guess that's indicative of the stupor we were in after seeing Elder Chock off.

I think it worked. Mostly. For the time we were in the movie.

Only 730 days left until he comes back. Not too long...right?

Sunday, November 6, 2016

Cultural Immersion

Thick. Slimy. Mud.

The Haverly's invited us to help them harvest their Taro (Kalo in Hawaiian) patch (Lo'i) on Saturday. We were excited to be able to help them and learn more about our ancestors! We got there at nine and were instructed to wear grubby clothes (because the mud stains everything) and no shoes. Unless you have special mud shoes, the mud steals them and takes them to the underworld ;)

The Kalo grows deep in the mud, but the mud is also a mercy - it keeps the bugs away. The Kalo has a long green top and then a potato-shaped root. The process has spiritual significance and there are many analogies about taking care of the family. The top of the parent plant is replanted after the harvest and becomes the next crop.

Angela and Lana
Maile and Pili - troublemakers :)
Angela, Pili, Maile
After picture. Kalo has been harvested and new families will grow!
Every part of the Kalo must be cooked to be consumed because it has an itchy quality. When we were rinsing and cutting the roots off, we had to be careful (often gloves are worn). The top leafy part can be simmered down and used kind of like spinach. It is used in local foods such as Lau Lau and chicken or squid Luau.

These pictures don't even do justice to how muddy we got. Isaac and Kealaula (Kea's oldest son) were shoulder deep in the water, and were given the task of unplugging any spots in the water flow from the source (irrigation) and past the lo'i.

James found a huge toad in the Lo'i but we were too muddy to get a good picture. Lydia even got in next to me and pulled out quite a few Kalo.

The bottom part is steamed, pealed (the skin is thicker than a potato, more like an avacado) and then pounded. We even got to pound poi! We sat on the floor in the living room and used these

It was hard work! Once the lumps have been pounded out, it makes a sticky purple-ish grey substance call Pa'i'ai. We are some with the chicken luau and rice. It was yummy! I liked it much more than poi, partly it was so fresh and partly because it was thicker. Poi is made when Pa'i'ai is smoothed out even more and thinned slightly with water.