Convention of Statesmen

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Womens Retreat With My Sister

We didn't get to retreat to someplace wonderful like this because of the actions of a woman and two kids. Let me explain.

Every year, my sister's stake hosts a womens retreat in late August or mid-September. At this retreat, the women gather without husbands and children, and protected by camp security, they have a wonderful 24 hours. They begin with dinner and a fireside, and then end up staying up laughing and talking around the campfire. Up early for breakfast and then three classes on a variety of subjects and off you go. Heather's stake always does this wonderful thing up at Camp Kowoloho. But this year some idiot woman and two kids decided to derail that plan. They showed up at the camp, poured gasoline on the brand new kitchen and burned the lodge. Then they took chainsaws and cut all the tables in half. Then they shot out all the windows. Then, as if that wasn't enough, they took the tractor and ran it into every single cabin and destroyed them. After completing their work, they went on their merry, miserly, destructive little ways, leaving behind a completely destroyed camp that could not only no longer host girls camp but the yearly womens retreat. Now the church has to, and will, completely rebuild before it can be enjoyed by the thousands of girls and women again.

Does anybody get the sense I want to swear right now, because I do. I can't imagine what this woman was thinking or what her mental and moral dilemma is . . . but geez woman, GET A LIFE! And please, don't cross my path any time soon.

Oddly, that is not the topic of this blog. Really. What I wanted to talk about is the Plan B retreat they did this year. Because Camp Kowoloho was removed from the scenario: quick plans, changed schedules and hectic women and men shuffled, juggled and rearranged until they were able to have the retreat at the Stake Center in Santaquin.

The men served dinner to us, yummy enchiladas, rice and beans (I guess it's a good thing we weren't up at those cabins.) We then heard a song called Friend (composed by Michael McClean) sung beautifully by a local sister. Then Liz Lemon Swindle stood up and shared her life and experiences with us as an artist. Wonderful stories of the Savior and how she found the models for His paintings, experiences that colored her life and built her testimony. It was an amazing night. Here are a few of her paintings:

At the conclusion of the fireside we gathered as wards into different Sunday School rooms and held our "camp fire," it was a flashlight, but hey you work with what you have. Lots of games, music and stories. It was an absolutely delightful evening. I look forward to next year's and wonder why my stake doesn't do something cool like this?

But there's more . . .

The next morning, instead of teaching Jeff Savage's writing class (which I thought was 8 to 10 in evening and turned out to be 8 to 10 in the morning, talk about a dark and rainy night . . . but we won't go into that) I was eating breakfast with Heather and her stake. After breakfast, wait for it . . . oh yeah, we were taught how to play golf by Billy Casper. BILLY FREAKIN' CASPER! How cool is that? I still suck at golf, but that's not his fault.

You don't know who Billy Capser is . . . well, let's turn to the internet: William Earl "Billy" Casper (born June 24, 1931) is an American golfer who was one of the most prolific tournament winners on the PGA Tour from the mid 1950s to the mid 1970s. He was born in San Diego, California. Between 1964 and 1970 Casper won 27 tournaments on the PGA Tour, which was more than legends Jack Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer, and Gary Player did during that time period. He won 51 times in his career, placing him seventh on the all time list. He captained the U.S. Ryder Cup team in 1979 and was considered the best putter of his era by many. After his professional career he has been a designer for many golf courses such as The Highlands, The Palm and Eagle Crest in Sun City Summerlin, Nevada . . . and he's a Latter-day Saint (Mormon) too.

At the conclusion of the golf lesson, armed with signed pictures and golf ball, we trotted on over to learn the joys of Dutch Oven cooking, and then on to learning how to make beautiful tiles to hang on the walls of my home. All in all, I was able to spend about 24 hours with my sweet little sister and her adorable baby, Elias. This is something I do with her every year as our "sisters" thing. I am always filled and edified, without fail. The women of her stake always make a tremendous effort to make this a night and morning to remember, filling the well within to get them through another year. It's really something else!

At the close of this wonderful event I hurried over to a friend's house to watch the BYU vs. Air Force game. I don't like to see military schools lose, unless their playing BYU. Oh yeah, we won! We stomped! We conquered! The team that had already taken out TCU and U of U had to bow at the alter of our greatness as a football team . . . all right, the last one may have been a little over the top. But, we won.

Maybe I'll leave the sports reporting to Dick Harmon of the Deseret News. Here's what will hit the papers this morning:

Did BYU defenders, splayed like fish in Tulsa last week, see Saturday's conference opener against Air Force as a chance to atone for themselves?

"Absolutely," said senior linebacker Bryan Kehl. "We have reason to smile. We came out and played the kind of defense we want to play, the kind of defense we know we can play."

The Cougar defense came within a long pass play of shutting out Air Force in Saturday's 31-6 Mountain West Conference opener for the defending champs.

Safety Quinn Gooch, a player humbled in Tulsa's 55-47 win over BYU last week, set the tone by intercepting Air Force quarterback Shaun Carney's second pass of the game.

"We did that last week, and didn't carry that momentum the whole game," said Kehl.

This time, the momentum did continue BYU's way as the Cougars defeated the Falcons by controlling the line of scrimmage and delivering defensive punches all game long.

The big ones included Kehl hitting Carney in the act of passing two different times on Air Force's third possession and linebacker David Nixon hitting Carney's arm so hard on a pass attempt in the third quarter that the ball went sideways almost in the stands. Sophomore defensive end Jan Jorgensen had two sacks and freshman Eathyn Manumaleuna added one.

BYU's defense all but shut down Air Force's new offense.

And on the other side of the ball, even with star receiver Austin Collie on the sidelines with a sprained ankle, coordinator Robert Anae unloaded Manase Tonga and Harvey Unga on the Falcons and simply wore down the smaller Cadets. In the end, both were ripping off 5- to 10-yard runs on a defense that hadn't given up more than 73 yards to any rusher all season.

With Fui Vakapuna sidelined with a broken hand, Unga had 111 yards and Tonga added 41. Where Air Force's rush defense had given up 70, 73 and 89 yards to South Carolina State, Utah and TCU, the Cougars rushed for 149 yards and two touchdowns.

Said Air Force coach Troy Calhoun: "I thought their backs ran well, both after the catch and also whenever they were on predetermined hand-offs."

BYU sophomore quarterback Max Hall had plenty of other weapons, including receivers Matt Allen and Michael Reed. When the Falcon defense, ranked No. 12 nationally in scoring defense and No. 17 in rush defense, had linebackers concentrating on Unga and Tonga, Hall simply delivered monster plays to the tight ends, led by sophomore Dennis Pitta (five catches for 114 yards).

"I was impressed with BYU today," Calhoun said. "Just physically the size of them.

"They're a big group. They're a stout crew. When they get somebody at home they're going to be tough to beat. They're a good group on both sides of the ball."

Air Force quarterback Shaun Carney said the Cougars had more passion Saturday.

"There just wasn't the passion and excitement that we needed to win this game," he said. "I just thought that BYU wanted it more and it showed up front and in all the plays that they were making and that we were not making.

"Our MWC hopes are not dashed ... Our No. 1 goal right now is to win the Mountain West. We know that we're fine with one conference loss. We've already knocked out two of the top teams. BYU got the best of us today, but we're looking forward to seeing how the Mountain West is going to play out."

New Mexico goes down next. We own the Mountain West Conference! Go Cougars!
Womens Retreat With My Sister Womens Retreat With My Sister Reviewed by Candace Salima on Sunday, September 23, 2007 Rating: 5