Friday, June 29, 2007

Present President...

I recently was informed that Brigham Young University Hawaii has FINALLY decided to give the Shumways the boot and put someone else in as the president of the University. I only wish that would have been done long ago, when I could have been there to benefit from it.

Back when I was a student at BYU-H, I wrote this blog that got lost in the shuffle and never made it's way to the spotlight. With news of Shumway's release, I felt it was once again timely.

This may not relate to you if you are not a student here at BYU-Hawaii. In some respects, this will not affect you even if you do attend BYU-H.

I recently got an email to my campus address with the heading "President's Message".

Here are some highlights:

"Dear university ohana,

If you see the Shumways carrying suitcases across the campus, don't worry! They are not leaving the university. They are, however, changing residences.

...This move is necessitated by personal circumstances for the Shumways and is not an indication they are leaving the University. The President says, he'll be with us for the foreseeable future as long as the Brethren desire his service.

For convenience, it was decided to simply exchange houses with Mike and Nancy Bliss who are living in the Naniloa Loop home at the moment..."

I was not surprised to see that the Shumways were leaving campus. As far as I can tell, they checked out emotionally about the same time I checked in.

When I got in trouble for wearing a costume on April Fool's Day one year, it was Shumway that said he wanted my issue to be followed up on (but he never met me personally). Other than that, I have felt nothing but abandonment from the Shumways. I have tried on occasions to schedule meetings with the President that need his involvement. No luck. I know of people who have tired to do some great things on campus, to be shot down abruptly by Shumway.

Is he evil? No. Is he compassionate? Who knows? Does he appear to have lost his commitment to the school and a genuine interest in campus? You bet!

Myself and other friends of mine from campus have speculated that he only held onto the position to be here long enough to be the center of recognition for the Golden Jubilee, the celebration of 50 years of BYU-H. But that's over, and we haven't seen him since his token appearances during the festivities. How long till he leaves officially and not just practically?

How can he effectively run the school if he is never here? He is already a member of the seventy. Now he recently has been called to be a temple president in Tonga. Hopefully, this is a sign that his move off campus is one step closer to getting him permanently replaced by someone ready, willing and able to be a present president for us.

Ok, so I admit, those are some harsh and accusatory words. Thus, they were never officially published on their own merits. But I am glad to hear that he is finally setting his back on BYU-H to make way for fresh life to invigorate a school that I fear is becoming jaded and stagnant.

This calling of a new president is not really an issue that relates to me much any more. But as an alumni, I am glad to welcome Steven C. Wheelwright and wish him luck in taking my alma mater to bigger and better places.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Wasted Genius...

At the risk of sure criticism, let me just say that I'm a genius. No, really. Not necessarily in spelling or math, but in my own way; like humor. In that respect I'm a regular Albert Einstein.

Case and point: A few weeks ago I was at the Guam Power Authority to pay my power bill. While waiting in line the power ironically goes out for a second. After a flicker or two, the power is restored. Bad power is common in a place like Guam, but happening at the head office of the suppliers is noteworthy. I leaned over to the guy next to me and said, "I guess they didn't pay their power bill."

He looked at me like I had said something to the extent of, "supercalifragilisticexpialidocious." It was clear by his expression that he simply didn't get it. Awkwardness ensued.

Just my luck. A perfect set up, a timely and pithy reply and it falls on deaf ears. Thank goodness for the internet where at least you my precious few and faithful readers can bask in the glory of my comic genius...and humility.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

The Church and Guam...

Sure, the Church of Jesus Christ Of Latter-Day Saints is true. I have no question. But, I think that due to certain local attributes, the Church is just a little less true here in Guam.

Honestly, it wasn't long after I moved here before I began to yearn for the way the church was in the mainland. I know people love to dump on "Utah Mormons" and the Church culture. But Guam's corrupted Church culture is worse by far.

I don't mind that I live in the boundaries of a district instead of a stake and a branch instead of a ward. Heck, it's an interesting experience to see the difference. But I do mind the way things play out here.

For the first four months I was in Guam, I had no home teaching assignments. I never had a home teacher assigned to me while I was single. Being single, most people wouldn't invite me over for dinner or to get to know them. (I could do a whole other post of how single adults are treated in the Church.) There were few if any branch activities and no elders quorum activities at all. When a query of why we never do anything as a quorum was asked, the answer was that we didn't have any because our branch was recently combined with another and it was too soon to plan anything.

I was very upset with that answer. The two branches were merged before I had even moved to the island. It had been at least 6 months. Also, isn't a branch merger a perfect opportunity to have an activity? One that might encourage getting to know each other? I think the honest answer of apathy would have been better than the lie.

I stayed active due to my testimony and I did have good church connections due to my fellow employees which I like very much.

When I got married, however, I expected more from the Church in Guam for my wife's sake than it could deliver.

I left my wife to go home teach others and hoped that my wife would get to see what kind of blessings I was providing for others when our home teacher came to visit. I then found out that we had none assigned to us. I approached our Elder's quorum president about that. He said that we were too active and therefore did not get home teachers. You could say I was miffed. I promptly corrected him. My wife is a recent convert, and President Hinkley has made it clear in no uncertain terms that new converts are to get home teachers ASAP. Also, I go off island frequently for work. My wife needs a home teacher to depend on in my absence should something happen. Also, just because she's active dose not mean that she wouldn't benefit from a home teacher. I can't be the only person telling her the gospel and she is still learning. I threatened to have her go inactive just so she could get some home teachers.

After 6 months on island we got assigned a home teacher. Now we have the task of trying to get them to come over. I have called the one I know a couple of times and asked him to come over. No visits yet, but at least we are making headway.

And this led me to wonder about Anna's visiting teaching. Who were her visiting teachers? Who is her companion? Sure enough, she didn't have any of those either. I took it upon myself to contact the women in charge and fix the problem. She was assigned a companion after 5 months of arriving on Guam. She was not given a list of whom she visits nor has her companion made any contact. Also, as far as I know, she is still not assigned to visiting teachers.

And the pièce de résistance that got me most recently tweaked occurred two Sundays ago. Anna was in Relief Society during a lesson on the word of wisdom. At one point they spoke about green tea. Suddenly a member of the RS raised her hand and said, "But I drink green tea every day. It's good for me." Kudos to the one Japanese sister who stood up and declared that green tea by any name was unequivocally against church policy. Many others in the room appeared to be on the fence. The tea drinking sister stood firm on her ground. Then to try to keep the atmosphere politically correct, some raised their hands and said something to the effect of, "Well, it may be good for you. And if it is, then that is OK. But that is something that you need to determine for yourself. But just don't preach that to others."

Anna came out of that meeting scratching her head and slightly puzzled. She said it seemed as if they had just successfully justified drinking green tea. Anna is Asian and from tea country. Had she been any less brilliant than she is, she could have walked away from there thinking it was acceptable to drink it. Had I been there, I would have stood up and let them know that any justification is not good enough. The Church is clear on this one. Anyone drinking it should not be taking the sacrament or be worthy of a temple recomend.

Well, I wasn't I didn't get to. I had to just take it all in from Anna and clear up the confusion she was left with. But in a real ward, that wouldn't be necessary. And this is not the extent of all my woes. I have truncated a long list of things that urk me here in Guam in these regards.

I suppose this kind of stuff could happen in any ward or branch in any part of the world. But why must it happen with such frequency and intensity as it does here? I have sadly come to the conclusion that the church in Guam is just a little less true than it is elsewhere.

I hear frequent aspirations to make Guam a stake. I think it's possible, but in this current state, Guam is more likely to whither and die spiritually. To think that the Church as it is on Guam could become a stake would be laughable if it wasn't such a sad farce.

Despite this, I like Guam, and I have no intention of leaving here any time soon. But I do yearn for a functional church here. For what ever reason, the Church really is just a little less true here in Guam.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007


Well, I'm sorry to say that once Anna got a hold her new green card, she left me.

Ok, I'm not going to make you think anything bad. I just wanted that reaction from you for a second. Yes, she did leave, though. It's been nearly 5 years since Anna has been home and now that she can leave and come back, she is going to.

On one hand, I'm glad for her. She deserves to go home and see her family and friends again. On the other hand, I miss her deeply. And it's only been one day so far. These next six weeks of bachelorhood are going to be long and hard.

As if by some sort of cosmic irony, something happened to my wedding ring at the same time.

Note to self: Beware of tungsten rings...

I guess I'm more of a bachelor than I thought I was joking about. And I have a missing wedding ring to prove it. Well, I didn't want to do this, but now that I'm a bachelor again, I guess I have to get back to my life of fun and frivolity. I will have to start eating copious amounts of Hot Pockets and Pop Tarts. And I'll be wanton of an ironed shirt.

It's a good thing this is only a six week separation. Any longer and I might end up looking like a mixture of Tom Arnold and Jack Black...with just a hint of Andy Richter.