Friday, January 27, 2017


Since January 6th, there have been two dentists in the MTC Dental Clinic. Dr. Stewart and Burtenshaw have completely different styles of dentistry. It's like oils and watercolours. Both get the job done.
Debra Stewart, Dean Stewart, Kathy Hoem, Craig Burtenshaw, Karma Burtenshaw, Linda Ann Adams

I took an art class when I was a freshman at Ricks College over 30 years ago. I was intrigued and fascinated with the different styles and mediums of art. We got to dabble and study many different ways to communicate ideas with those mediums.

I've never forgotten the dramatic picture in watercolour of a girl on a bicycle on a rainy night. Only the headlights shining behind her are all you could see bearing down on girl and bike, her head is turning to see what is approaching. Watercolours can be dreamy, dramatic and sometimes precisely simple.

An oil depicting a ride on carousel, a hand on the horse is silhouetted against a swirling background with a few lights in an almost night sky with a bit of the sunset. It was dramatic and unforgettable too. Many wonderful masterpieces are done in oils.
Dr. Dean Stewart

Elder Stewart is an old master oil painter. He has his bits and can squeeze the last bit of filling from the tubes with his feet taping and pressing the power as he bends over his patient and meticulously fixes everything on one side of the mouth that needs fixing. Like a classic jazz artist the bits whine and the aspirator bellows while his feet move and his hands orchestrate as he almost sings to the patient, "Mahbuty po, Mahbuty po, you're a great patient po,, Mahbuty po, Mahbuty po. Sister Adams you can aspirate. "  "We'll put tooth conditioner on here, Mahbuty po. Now paint a bit of bonding agent. " In the same almost singing tone, Dr. Stewart asks for the light to shine on the teeth. "Mahbuty po, Mahbuty po, you're a good patient po", as he fils up their teeth. His tone rises and falls as he says, " Just a little bit of polishing up, we're almost done Mahbuty po."
Some patients actually doze off for a few seconds while he is working on their teeth. He has perfected the art of doing what can possibly be done in an hour and glances every once in awhile at his watch. Dr. Stewart will fill all cavities possible and then do a root canal or extract dead teeth or roots. The theory is they are already numb so might as well finish all he can right now. He feels it is important that the missionary is healthy for his/her whole mission.
Dr. Craig Burtenshaw

Elder Burtenshaw is a watercolour artist. He uses water to power his bits and uses special tools to make precise, exact repairs to the missionaries teeth. Each tool and action has a particular reason and objective for success. When he greets a missionary it is like he is greeting an old friend and he asks specifically what the missionary is concerned about. A rapport is made and a connection too.There is an expectation that the missionary will take care of his teeth and that Dr. Burtenshaw will help him achieve what he needs. Dr. Burtenshaw is fearless in some of the more complicated procedures like wisdom teeth, so benefits those who need his help. It would be easy to mess up a watercolour, precision is needed for success, and Dr. Burtenshaw is always precise in each action (or brush stroke).

It is a pleasure to watch, study and learn from two vastly different styles of artists.

Someday I'll have to do a post on the wives of these doctors. They are so amazing - in different ways of course.

Monday, January 23, 2017

Mom's birthday today

Mom always with a baby
Mom has been gone for 3 years and a day. In my mind I remember the good times and the great love she had for babies, deer (nature), and family. Her family definition was much broader than the typical Americans and we found we had many extra 'siblings' and 'cousins' wherever she happen to live.
I'm glad she and dad are together again.
One of the legacies she left besides the love of babies and children, is the love between a husband and wife. I see it in the lives of my siblings and myself. Thanks mom and dad

Love is good

starting out a good life

Always having a good day
Good Times (always)

Passing the good times on

Sharing good
Really good day

Good Thoughts (what a cute boy!)

Good life

Let the good times roll

Life is good!

Sunday, January 22, 2017


The Monday after intake is always a little chaotic for us paper pushers because we don’t have the day before to set up charts and input information. On Friday (when the missionaries arrive at the MTC) we are helping with the screening, directing to x-rays and showing the missionaries where to go. No one comes in on Saturday or Sunday – then bam! There comes Monday morning. I try to get here a little early (ideally 5:30 am) so that I can set up the first few charts and then get a handle on the rest while the Dentists are taking care of their patients.
Patient Charts

Today I knew would be interesting because I also schedule the field missionaries and Manila and Quezon City wanted to come at the same time and then a couple were added at the last minute.  We try to get companionships to come together so time and effort won’t be wasted on their part, but getting two missionaries who need to see the dentist who are far apart and then get them to the dentist together can be a logistical nightmare for the Mission president’s wife or mission nurse who takes care of scheduling that. Then throw in the fact I don’t have a phone or texting abilities so I have to wait until they can email me back. 
Busy, busy morning while we smile and greet missionaries and hurry to get the work all caught up, I took just a moment to realize that there was an overall order to the morning. I wish I had some spiritual eyes to see who is orchestrating events and missionaries so they are all seen in an orderly manner.
Elder S from Manila didn’t come in at 9 am so we put his chart to the side in case he came later. Two Elders from Quezon City came an hour early so we put them both in with the two doctors. Two more Elders from Manila came in for their appointment one was Elder S, and then two more Manila Elders came in shortly thereafter. We just filled up the chairs as the dentists got done. I looked down and said, “It sure is a shame that Elder N didn’t show up,” and an Elder waiting said, “I am Elder N.” We slipped him right in as soon as a chair was empty.  Everyone was seen and the wait time has been minimal, I have the charts ready to go for tomorrow and all the charts got done for today. Now I just have to record all the procedures done today, email the field missionary president wife and nurses about their missionaries. Life is good.
I just want to give my witness that I know we have help we cannot see, as this morning should have been complete chaos.

Be Our Guest...

I just had my first dinner guests – well our first guests ever in our apartment. Jimmy Albos and his family came over for lunch right after church. We had Skype on so they could say hello to Janice Adams (my sister-in-law) who served in the same mission as Jimmy – he was her zone leader.
Altos Family talking to Janice Adams

Being just a tad nervous to cook for a Filipino family I prayed for help that I could put something on the table that they would like to eat. I picked Taco salad, as that is an easy lunch with a make-your-own element to it. I also cooked up rice (just in case) and had fruit, nuts and chocolate chip cookies on the table. Cooking ingredients are in the metric system so trying to figure out how much butter is 200 g takes Google and a dose of approximating.
Janice and Jimmy's family

When they walked in Jimmy and his son went over to the couch and sat down to talk with Janice on the computer and his daughter gave me a box and his wife said they had a gift for me. When I opened it up my heart stopped. I was overwhelmed because they gave me a pearl necklace and bracelet. I have always wanted a pearl necklace but knew it wasn’t in the cards. My mind said you can’t accept something so valuable and at the same time I wasn’t going to reject a gift given. I stood there a few seconds then cried a little. I hope I said thank-you. (Note: write thank-you card)

So we talked with Janice for a bit and then sat down to lunch. Prayers answered they loved Taco salad and said it was a favorite. Good thing I didn’t know she was a caterer until after the meal was mostly over.
 Jeffrey and I discovered the oldest daughter had been the first Filipino missionary to serve in Northern Italy and is now in university. Their second daughter is serving in Salt Lake City right now and their son is in High School. He is planning on going on a mission in a couple of years. They were so fun, warm and nice to be around! Sister Albos is the primary president of 2 years and would love to have me help in the Primary. Yeah! I’ve been looking for an opportunity to love some kids. She told me about a roadshow the Primary put on last year where the children learned songs, dances and entertained their families. Wow, I’ve only seen young men and women do that. She also shared an experience in the temple and I feel privileged to be associated with them. While we were chatting her son polished off the rest of the meat, chips and salad. We talked about growing boys and I know the minute he gets home he will get an “after church” snack.

Thanks Janice for sharing your friends with us. This has been a wonderful experience.

Thinking about Grandmother

I thought a lot about my grandmother today while preparing the last minute items for a lunch engagement right after church.
I grated cheese and sliced two fingers and the base of my hand discovering why they had a guard on it when I bought it. A guard that got melted on the toaster oven the night I brought it home. I found it is much easier to get plastic off the top and front of a toaster oven if it is hot. But this post isn’t really about my misfortunes in the kitchen.

I was the oldest grandchild and got to see my grandmother while she was a mother in action. My uncle is a year and a half older than I. She used Clorox in the bathroom and in the kitchen to disinfect everything. I’ve been thinking about her as I use a sink without running hot water wondering if I should use Clorox in my dishpan too. I watched my grandmother patch up injuries using a butterfly bandage, and then from my observations of her, patched up my brother one day while I was babysitting.
I’ve been thinking about Grandmother Conover a lot because she also went to foreign lands and served 4 missions with my grandfather as well as going on a mission as a single sister. I don’t know how much we have in common other than a love for babies and going on missions because she was just there for me as a child and I didn’t think about her and what her thoughts and ideals were. Now I wonder what she felt but now I can’t talk to her.
I know she was vitally concerned with our welfare, health and loved us very much.  She would march us all into the kitchen and put us on chairs or stools and we would “help” make dinner. I grated carrots (losing some flesh in that process too) and peeled potatoes and ‘mixed’ powdered milk up with an eggbeater. Now that is something my kids have missed altogether – too bad. It was a lot of fun to make but kind of terrible to drink. She liked to try new things and seemed to always be working on something. I don’t remember her just sitting, or watching. She was always busy. She was awake when I went to bed, there for us in the night and always awake and busy when we woke up.
I watched her one-day curl her hair in pin curls. She had my little brother hand her the bobby pins one at a time saying please and thank-you with each one. Then used the same process while taking them all out. Donald came home from that trip acting like a little gentleman in a very mannerly style.
I wonder sometimes what she thinks about me now while I’m on this mission. I like to imagine that she is near -  helping me out every once in awhile when I ask God’s help on little things.  I think about her and hope I can be a little like her.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017


How long does it take a tree to grow big, strong, and useful?

In Relief Society last Sunday, the first thing we were given was a piece of paper and asked if we would trace and cut out our hand. We discussed the second chapter in “Teachings of the Prophets, President Hinckley”. 
The teacher emphasized in the lesson how the church leaders had left their familiar countryside, and then came to an unfamiliar land that was a desert. She showed a picture from the lesson of the leadership on Ensign peak named because it had been seen in a vision.  Any help was thousands of miles away. They would have to rely on the Lord and themselves for hard work and inspiration on what to do. Each little step was to build up the kingdom of God. 
Living in the desert and building up the city and church did not happen in a few months. Small steps cause the big things happened over time.
After talking about the church beginnings for a minute, the teacher then emphasized how today we sometimes wear blinders and can’t see the big picture (or vision) in our daily life. We talked why it is important to see the big picture of where we are going/what we are doing. She asked for a discussion on what kind of blinders stop us from meeting our potential. There was a lot of discussion most of which I could get the gist. The lesson was in English the answers were mostly Tagalog with mixed English ideas thrown in.
Sisters going up to tape hands with commitments to the board.

The teacher asked each one of us to write down on the paper hand that we had, one commitment we would make this year to further the kingdom of God. When she turned the chalkboard around to the other side, there was a big tree with branches. She asked us to bring our hand up and tape it on the tree branches. It struck me in that visual of how important each hand is in the vast work of the Lord.