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Monday, July 21, 2014

DISCONNECTED THOUGHTS

It’s one of those days when I want to write but I don’t have a particular message I want to send out.  That leaves me in the position of simply recording some my thoughts and letting that be the post.

Typing

I used to be a pretty good typist.  When I was in high school I could pound out 50-60 words per minute – rivaling some of the girls in our typing class.  And that was on the old fashioned typewriters that required you to hit the return bar and push really hard on the keys.
Yes, this is what they look like.
No, there is no processor or monitor.

With the advent of computer keyboards my speed and accuracy increased exponentially.  But for the last year or so I have noticed a decided decrease in my ability to tell my fingers where the letters are on the keyboard.  Part of it might be that there is some urgency in everything I do lately.  But I suspect most of it is just a rebellion in the extremities of the body and the connection they have with the brain.

Stupid Old Age!!!  And I’m not really that old yet!!!


Driving

Working with young people gives me a chance to watch most of them begin the process of driving.  There is a wide range of emotions with these kids and some I am a little surprised to witness.
I drove one just like this for a couple of years.  I miss it.

For instance, while there are many that are thrilled, excited, overcome with joy, etc. to get a license to populate the roads, there is also a growing number of young people who choose to avoid the prospect of driving.  Excuses range from no interest to fear of failure.  Several boys I know have yet to begin the process of learning and they are nearly graduated from High School.

As a youth, the milestone of driving was anticipated with….. well, great anticipation.  And to consider avoiding the opportunity was unthinkable.  You weren't a real teen unless you ached to drive a car.  I’m sure the insurance companies are grateful for those who choose not to take the wheel but it just doesn't



 seem right.  What is this world coming to?


New Digs

After 7 years teaching at Granger High School, I have been moved to Hunter High.  It’s not very far from Granger but it a little bigger school and faculty.  Where we had only three of us at Granger for the past few years, Hunter has 7 teachers.  There is a bigger office here (though I haven’t used an office for years) and the school is slightly closer than Granger was last year.  But it will mean getting used to a new group of students –
and more importantly for them, getting used to me.

I am the old guy here – by about 10 years.  And the majority of the other teachers are young enough to be my children.  But they will learn to fear me as all others have in the past.  Or they will ignore as even more have done.  Anyways, I am here and suspect this may be my last stop before retirement.


Temple

We went to see Teresa’s folks last weekend.  Her mom is still struggling with dementia/Alzheimer and her dad is the primary caretaker.  Last time we were down I asked if he would like to go to the Temple next time we came and he thought that would be a good idea.  So Saturday morning we took the drive over Huntington/Fairview Canyon and deposited ourselves at the Manti Temple.

The Manti Temple
This is the same Temple where Teresa and I were sealed 37+ years ago so it has some significance to us.  It is a unique design and is built from the local sandstone that was quarried in the area.  As expected, Saturday was pretty crowded with weddings, students visiting, and lots of people attending as we were.  We had a delightful visit and I think Teresa’s dad was relieved to have a little break from the regular routine of his day.  My next goal is to get him to one of the newer temples (Provo, Payson, Timp) and let him experience the different video presentations they have.


Grandkids

I think everyone knows we are up to 16 grandchildren now.  Benjamin Gregory was born a few weeks ago and is going through the normal process of growing, crying, eating, crying, eating, other things, more crying, even more eating, etc. 

Benji with his big sister Becca and his brother Chris.
Becca really loves to hold the baby.
He came just a few weeks ago.
Having the kids so close means we are well acquainted with all the fun things each of them do.  And all the unique experiences we have with them make the years we spent as parents, pulling our hair out, crying, cringing and wondering what ever possessed us to bring those five special souls down to earth so we could savor the joys they would bring into our lives worth it (BTW, this is a really good run-on sentence… use it for an example if you ever need one).  Anyone who does not want grandchildren has no idea what they are missing.  
GET SOME!!!


Warning

A short note for anyone who might think entering our home illegally – please don’t do it.  We are not that OLD yet and we still have a few defenses.  Yes, you might scare us a little but I think we might also frighten you.  I mention this because of an experience we had last week.

It was somewhat late (probably about 11:00 pm) and we were about to retire for the night.  Suddenly there was a noise that sounded like someone was pounding on the side of the house – Thump – thump – THUMP!!!

We looked at each other and then looked at the door, wondering who was going to go down first.  I finally gave in (I am, after all, the man and required to protect the house and family) and crept slowly down the stairs to have a look.  Teresa followed me shortly (neither of us brought a weapon – bat, shovel, gun, etc.) and we carefully looked around the main floor of the house.  NOTHING!!

Gathering my ------- well, I don’t know what I gathered but I decided it was time to look in the basement and see what was there.  Again, NOTHING!!

We checked out the big room on the side of the house.  NOTHING!!!

Finally, I girded up my loins and fresh courage took and tiptoed to the apartment to see what might be hiding in the shadows.  NOTHING!!

Very puzzling.  But also very disturbing.  Though it was probably too late, I determined to be better prepared immediately.  I got a weapon and put it beside the bed – that way I would be ready for the next occurrence.

Eventually we went to sleep and had a good laugh the next morning.  When I came home from work that day Teresa asked me to come to the kitchen.  Guess what she found?  One of the drawers in the counter/cupboard had fallen off its track (who knows why) and dropped down into the cupboard below resulting in the thumping sound.  Boy did we feel silly – BUT –

Anyone who is thinking of thumping or bothering our home any time in the near future better be careful.  I am now ready!!!

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

VOICES

Prior to a conference in late September 1830, a man named Hiram Page, living in western New York, found a small flat stone (3”x5” approx.) with two small holes in it.  Not unlike many others of his day, he determined that this stone was somehow imbued with power for receiving revelation from God.  Accordingly, he began to claim visions pertaining to various subjects.

An example of a seer stone.

Hiram was not an evil or deluded man – he was simply following what he considered to be the proper path for determining the will of God.  After all, his friends had shared with him their testimony that another young man, Joseph Smith, had followed a similar path in receiving truth from Heaven.  Hiram only wanted to be faithful as Joseph had taught.

The grave of Hiram Page

Page’s experience was shared with his family and friends resulting in great excitement.  But when Joseph Smith was informed, he had reservations about the propriety of Hiram’s actions.  Living in Harmony, Pennsylvania (250 miles away), Joseph felt it serious enough that he chose to visit with the parties involved.

Joseph’s concern didn’t come because Hiram was receiving revelation – all are promised that “the Holy Ghost will manifest the truth of all things” (Moroni 10:5). Revelation is a gift from God and should be sought to help our lives conform with what He desires of us.  No, Hiram was not wrong to seek answers, but Joseph felt there was something out of order.

When the young Prophet arrived in New York he gathered all those involved and allowed them to share their feelings on the matter.  Then he did what prophets should always do – he sought for and received the will of God.  Afterwards, he asked those involved to consider the new information.  It was a hard thing for these good people – especially for Hiram and Oliver Cowdery.

Eventually, after much discussion (some of it heated), prayer, and revelation from the Holy Ghost, it was agreed that the counsel of the Lord, through Joseph Smith, was the correct path to follow.  Hiram disavowed the revelations, Oliver confessed that he had been deceived, and a new truth was established as doctrine in the Restored gospel of Jesus Christ.

Section 28 of the Doctrine and Covenants records the full text of the revelation but for the purposes of this essay, I want to focus on verse 2.

But, behold, verily, verily, I say unto thee, no one shall be appointed to receive commandments and revelations in this church excepting my servant Joseph Smith, Jun., for he receiveth them even as Moses. (D&C 28:2)

Lest someone misinterpret the message, let me explain.  The Lord, through His appointed prophet, is not saying only prophets can receive revelation.  He is saying that no one except the prophet can receive revelation for the Church.  Were it otherwise, how could there be order in the Kingdom?

Not really a hard concept to understand.

It is not the prerogative of the members of God’s church to determine what is and isn’t doctrine. 

That’s like allowing the foot-soldiers of an army to decide where and how battles should be fought.  Imagine the confusion if generals could be countermanded in battle plans or methods of warfare according to the whims of the rank and file.

The Church of Christ is not an army in the worldly sense of the word.  We are volunteers, not conscripts.

But there needs to be order in the operation of God’s work or confusion will prevail.  To allow outside influences to detract from the mission of the Savior, as revealed to His appointed prophets, is tantamount to ceding victory to the adversary.

That is not to say that the members of the Church cannot ask questions and seek understanding.  Joseph himself inquired of God, resulting in the First Vision.  At later times questions were asked to invite revelation necessary for a restoration of essential ordinances and covenants.  But the doctrines, principles, ordinances, and covenants of God must be administered by His methods as revealed through His prophets.

Voices crying for change are not unusual.  Motives for change are not that different from the cries of yesteryear. 

Moses listened as the children of Israel yearned to return to the ‘flesh-pots’ and gods of the Egyptians. 

Not good results for many of those participating
in the festivities.
Elijah stood as witness to the priests of Baal and Ashtoreth as they proclaimed their works to be righteous and their gods to be all-powerful – only to be consumed by the fires of Jehovah. 

I especially like when Elijah
tells the priests of Baal to call louder
cause their god might be sleeping.
Modern voices have every right to ask for answers to the relevant questions of our day.  But they cannot expect to remain unscathed when they advocate rebellion or abandonment of the principles and truths of God.

I certify that our Heavenly Father knows what He is doing with the people of the Earth.  I am confident that our Savior, Jesus Christ, speaks through His prophets and helps them know what should be done.  I am also aware that He, from time-to-time, allows us to struggle before He resolves questions we think we need answers to

RIGHT NOW!!!

That is part of our learning and growth – part of the exercise of Agency.


That is the Plan.



Monday, July 7, 2014

GOOD PEOPLE -- CAMPBELL'S

I met Suzanne Thomas while serving as a missionary in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada.  Her family had joined the Church in England and then immigrated to Canada for better opportunities.  The Thomas family loved and cared for the missionaries -- and the Elders reciprocated by loving their food and caring for their daughters (not literally, but you know what I mean).  They were such good people that, even after I was transferred, their kindness and generosity always impressed me .


When my missionary service was complete I returned to the States and moved to Provo, Utah to begin my advanced education at BYU.  A short time after I arrived in Utah I discovered the Thomas’ family had also made the move south.  It was a blessing to rekindle our friendship and I appreciated the help they offered so much that I made it a point to introduce my fiancĂ©’ to them when we were engaged.


Flash forward several years!!


Teresa and I moved back to Utah after working several years in Arizona and California.  We found a house for our little family in West Valley City (such a boring name but a nice town) and settled in to continue the process of growing up.

One Sabbath, I was conducting Sacrament meeting (I had been called to be a counselor to the Bishop) when a new couple was introduced – Corby and Suzanne Campbell.  The names meant nothing to me but immediately after the service the wife (Suzanne) came right up to me and asked if I had served a mission in Canada.  With my positive response, she turned to her new husband and said, “See, I told you this was Elder Whitmer.” (She later told us that it was the way I talked that clued her in to who I was. Probably the irreverent way I conducted the meeting.)

Still not realizing who she was, I puzzled through my memory banks (which were slightly better than they are now) and finally recognized who this young lady was standing before me.  It was my ‘old’ friend from the Edmonton 3rd Ward.  She and her sweetheart had just purchased a home in our ward – just around the corner from where we lived.

Over the years that the Campbell’s lived in our ward, we served with them in callings, shared sorrows and joys, helped Scouts and young women find their way, and became friends of the best kind.  It was at Corby’s suggestion that I eventually changed careers and become a teacher – one of the best choices (next to Teresa) I ever made.  And when the Campbell’s moved to a new home, we helped and then wept and wondered how we would ever get along without their love and support.

The years have passed for us and the Campbell’s.  Our children are grown and gone – their offspring are close behind.  Corby has moved to another career of his own.  Both Corby and Suzanne have endured serious health issues.  Our families have welcomed grandchildren and the joy they bring.  And despite the fact that our good friends have moved to the other side of the continent, we think of them often and follow the events of their lives (thanks Facebook).

Stolen from Suzanne's Facebook
page.  

But maybe most importantly, these good people, our friends, The Campbell’s, are still a vital part of our mortal experience.  We don’t get together like we used to but the events we have enjoyed have shaped our lives for the better.  We miss our Sunday night visits but our souls are larger and more enlightened because our love was returned by two of God’s best children.


Good People are all around us.  The Campbell’s are great examples.

Friday, June 27, 2014

TENDER MERCIES

Every week, except when closed, Teresa and I make a short journey down to the Jordan River Temple to participate in service to the patrons who attend.  It is one of those things that we have determined to do to show our love for our Father in Heaven. 
But truthfully, it does great good to our hearts, so we
 are abundantly blessed.

The Jordan River Temple
Over the years we have served it has been our privilege to participate with friends and neighbors who also attend.  Since our duties vary depending on our assignments each evening, we have met with people we love in a wide variety of situations.  Without fail, it has been thrilling and deeply moving to serve with those who believe this work is vital for ancestors who have passed to the next life and family who seek God’s blessings in mortality.  The few hours we spend in the Temple on these nights are always valuable to us and are missed when we are sick or otherwise 
unable to attend.

This past Temple Night Teresa needed to stay home for some family responsibilities so I made the trip alone.  It had been a long day and I wasn't feeling especially well – I even considered calling in sick – but this commitment is important to both of us so the thought was quickly banished.  I reasoned that since my duties were secondary (some nights I have to take a more primary role in the events) I could relax a little and let someone else do the hard things.  But I think there were other plans (unknown to me) for the evening.


In one portion of my duties I ran into a good friend who informed me that his grand-daughter had been called on a mission and was receiving her endowment that evening.  The girl’s mother had decided it was also time to receive her own endowment, so the two were accompanied by siblings and parents to participate in the special evening.  Having known the family for many years, this was and exciting announcement and I was thrilled at the prospects.


As I moved to my next assignment, I discovered that my friend and his family were part of that portion of the evening also.  And, despite my previous thought of being secondary, I was invited 
to be the officiator for the endowment session they were 
scheduled to attend. 


What a wonderful surprise – being able to have a small part in the progression of a family, whom I love deeply, towards the eternal blessings God has promised to His children.  And to top it off, my friends wife, who is preparing to leave this life because of the ravages of cancer, was also in the company.  It was so tender to see her daughters gently helping her as she participated in the ceremony – especially understanding that this was probably the last time she would be able to attend the Temple in mortality.  My heart was touched and it was difficult to keep my emotions in control as I stood before the congregation performing my duties.

The Manti Temple -- Teresa received her endowment here
and we were sealed here in 1977.

As the ceremony started I was surprised to see another sister, also a dear associate to my friend and his wife, sitting in the company.  She had come to the Temple to serve and happened to arrive in time to be assigned to our session.  As I spoke with her later, she had no idea until she saw and spoke with our friends, the significance of the evening but was overjoyed to be there.


And finally, because my sweetheart was unable to be with us for the evening, she had called another sister worker to be her substitute.  Teresa’s regular duties include ‘guiding’ sisters who are brand new to the Temple, helping them know where to go and what to do.  Had she been there, she would have 1) guided the mother and daughter receiving their own endowment and 2) helped the ailing mother who served as escort.  But, fitting in with the theme of the whole night, the substitute sister just happened to be  another dear friend of both the husband and wife whose children and grandchildren were so greatly blessed that night.  I can’t imagine the joy she felt at seeing the children receive their blessings and being part of such a tender experience for the mother/grandmother in her last days of life.

Mesa, Arizona Temple -- I received my endowment here.
When the night was complete and I had time to reflect on the experience, my thoughts turned to the love God has for His children and the ways He offers the little ‘tender mercies’ 
(1 Nephi 1:20) that remind us how much He cares for us.  Simple experiences are generally the way He lets us know we are alright.


I am so thankful for a God who knows each of His children in personal ways.  I am grateful for friends who make life exciting and tender and sad and just plain fun to live.  It pleases me to no end that little things happen to remind me just how much God is involved in our lives.  And I am especially glad that there is a House of the Lord where we can go to leave the world and receive ordinances and make covenants that will bless our lives eternally.



Indeed, there are Tender Mercies all around – if we will only look and find them.

Monday, June 23, 2014

WHAT I WANT

It is confession time today!

The air needs to be cleared and I have designated today as the day of unburdening.

Please bear with me as I seek to release myself from something that has caused me great grief for most of my life.  Understanding is all I seek and I hope it will come from those who are my friends and associates.

For more than 40 years I have hidden the fact that I have an urging that is clearly uncontrollable.  It started when I was a Boy Scout, but even before that I was aware of feelings that drew me toward this issue and made it difficult to resist.  

I have finally determined that I must embrace my desires and allow the “real me” come out.
Here it is!


I love fire.


It’s true.  I worship fire and all it does.

I love the colors that are generated as different fuels burn.

 I think about fire every day, almost all day long.

I am fascinated by the way it dances and flits from place to place when it is racing to its next fuel source.

Whenever I see a building or forest “en fuego”, I want to stop and bask in the total control flame has over everything in its path.

When I have been deprived of things burning for a while, a part of me MUST do what it takes to satisfy the overwhelming need to help the beautiful fiery tongues of flame consume – anything.  

Mostly, I love the power felt as I embrace the desire to create fire in the most obscure places at the most inopportune times.

Some might accuse me of being crazy – or even evil.

I AM NOT!!!

I have learned that fire is not evil – and neither are those who love to create and use it
.
 Think of all the good fire does in the world – cooking, sterilizing, heating, and signaling.

Sure, sometimes a blaze can get out of control and destroy homes and in rare circumstances even kill people.

The flames are not to blame.  They seek only life in a world that fears them unjustly.

Despite the challenges, I am confident that as people learn to accept my love for fire in all its glory, they will see as I do and accept my new way of life.

In fact, with my announcement today, I intend to start a campaign for the elimination all negative references to those who have a love for burning things.

I am proposing that laws be enacted immediately to protect the rights of all who have been termed “Pyromaniacs” by an unforgiving and unfeeling society.  The word “pyromaniac” (which holds such judgmental meaning) should be eliminated from all publications.  There is no ‘mania’ in what I love to do.  I am simply a person of fire (that’s the new PC phrase for what we are) and I am embracing my true nature.

Now, a message to my friends and family.


You know me, and understand that I have my quirks and oddities.  This is more than that.  This is a part of me that has been repressed for decades.  I have been forced, because of the traditions of the world, to keep this part of me hidden from view. 

I am no different than I was before.  We can still be friends.  We can still love one another.  Please be kind as this vital part of my life unfolds and allows me to finally become my true self.

My hope is that as I visit and share my passions with you, there will be understanding for the nature of my needs. 

And if, by some small chance, your own dwelling or personal property is caught up in my passion, I am confident you will continue to show love and allow me to live as I have chosen. 

Your need for safety is understandable but should not restrict my own feelings of want.


MY desires, needs, and appetites, are essential to my mental, emotional and physical wellness.  Please understand and accept me for who I am.


I thank you for your time and hope you will embrace the needs of “people of fire” as you have embraced others who have created changes in their own lifestyles.






The above message is SATIRE.  While I do have some affinity for fire,truly borne out of many years in Scouting,  I am not out of control, nor do I long to start burning things everywhere I go.  The point of my diatribe is that if we look hard enough there will always be at least one part of our existence that can become the focus of our life – to our detriment.

Currently, in the world where I live and work, many people feel that their physical, mental, and emotional needs outweigh any effort to have rules common for all of society.  Changing moral values invite many to look for reasons why the rules that have governed mankind for centuries don’t apply to them.  Everyone is an “exception” to the standards that have given our world balance.


The idea that embracing every desire or passion we feel in our mortal state will bring us happiness is a lie, perpetuated by the world and the adversary.  There is only one set of standards that will ever bring peace and joy (pleasure is not the same as joy).  

These standards are not found in any government, club, or society that exists as a man-made entity.  The only “rules” that will bring happiness to all are found in the teachings of the Savior Jesus Christ.  He alone knows the way to true happiness.


 When we get tired of trying to mold ourselves to the ever-changing form of man and the world, Christ invites us to try His image.  That one works.  It’s the only one that is true.  

It will bring peace.



Tuesday, June 17, 2014

DOUBTS

We will have them all throughout our lives.  The may come in quiet moments of contemplation or when backed against the wall by things we do not completely understand. 

Before they become a soul wrenching experience, when it appears all you know may be false, please remember the words of a Prophet of God:

Pres. Ezra Taft Benson


We are not obligated to answer every objection.  Every man eventually is backed up to the wall of faith, and there he must make his stand.


The day comes to all of us that we have to depend on what we feel about the Savior as opposed to what we know. 


Our hearts will be comforted by the Spirit and strengthened by His powerful influence so that we can bear the challenges of the world and its error.



Don’t give up.  Remember who the source of all truth is in this life.  Listen to Him and His prophets and be safe.

Monday, June 16, 2014

VOTES

I don't agree with everything this man says, but I believe he is on to something with this statement.  Not really new, but insightful -- especially in the area of morality.  Wouldn't it be nice if we had someone who cared about the moral structure of our nation and not just 

VOTES!!!???



Tuesday, May 27, 2014

GOOD PEOPLE -- DONNA

When my dad remarried, I didn’t just inherit a new mother, I also accumulated a great bunch of aunts, uncles, cousins, and other relatives.  Sometimes it was overwhelming when we all got together.

In particular, my new step-mom had a couple of sisters who were a little younger than I was – just a year or two.  Today I will focus on Donna, the elder of the two, and at some other date I will share a few things about Debbie. 

What I didn’t really know until some time later was that Donna had an older brother (John) who had been killed in an unfortunate accident when he was just a toddler.  He and I would have been about the same age if he had lived and I have often wondered if that didn’t have some influence on future events between Donna and me.

Let me say right off that I was not a very good “nephew” to Donna.  One of my favorite things (being a tormentor by nature) to do was remind her friends that little Donna had a nephew who was older than she was.  For the most part, she was pretty good about it, but when we were teens, she and Debbie went through a stage where they introduced us as their ‘cousins’ (my brother Jim was also older).  Mostly I endured the change but once in a while I would try to embarrass them, resulting in the ‘icy glare’ girls use so well.

Despite my efforts to be a ‘heel’, Donna was always sweet and kind.  We did have a few little spats on the ranch in Utah, but I take the blame for the difficulties (I was on her territory, she was very protective, and I love to torment as noted above).  At that young age, she was way more mature than I would be for several years.

As time rolled along, I discovered something that came as a surprise to me.  In spite of the difficult circumstances and some resistance I may have felt at the beginning, I had grown to love “Little Donna” as much as I loved any of my own brothers and sisters.  She was smart and wise and had a faith that overcame difficult obstacles.    She loved everyone and tried her best to make them comfortable in the circumstances of the day.  

Being a little backward socially, I was very grateful for her help as we grew up and ventured out into the world.  I would even say that over the years Donna became more like a sister to me 
than an ‘auntie.’

Donna is married now and has a wonderful family of her own.  And she continues to show me what it takes to live well in mortality.  

I think of her often as I struggle with personal issues – she is suffering greatly at this time in her life.  Often, I long for the days when we were kids so we could go back to Boulder and be happy-go-lucky friends once again. 

My good friend and ‘little sister’ is a powerful example of what good can come from hard circumstances.  She endures well and will be a guiding light to me and all who know her.


Thanks, Donna, for being much more than my friend 

and 

good people.

GOOD PEOPLE

This past weekend we took a trip to visit Teresa’s parents in southeastern Utah.  Both are in their late 80’s and suffer from the ravages of time -- especially her mother.

It’s difficult to watch as those we love age and become different from what we are used to seeing.  Memory loss, physical deficiencies, and general loss of ability takes a once vibrant, capable person and leaves them (and us) wondering what has happened.

My experiences with Teresa’s folks over the last 37+ years have allowed me to come to love them nearly as much as I love my own parents.  And I grieve with my sweetheart as we watch her mom and dad change with the advancing years (I have similar feelings for my parents but I don’t see them as much so the pain is tempered).

I mention this because it occurs to me that I have not offered a proper salute to those who have helped shape the person I have become (I will avoid mentioning those who may have led me astray – don’t want to pass out guilt this late in the game;-)).

Oh, there have been some I have written about, like my Dad and Uncle Orson, but I think what I would like to do is remember (with you) some of those who may not even know how important they have been to my earthly progress.  So, in the next few weeks (or months if it takes that long) I propose to remember the “Good People” I have encountered during my sojourn on this ball of dirt.

Hopefully, no one will be offended if they appear on my list and if someone is missed (for some mental reason on my part) please prick my conscience so I can add them in.  My intent is to honor people I love and remember for the help they have given me in the last six decades.

It’s like a ride down memory lane – with a cool Popsicle and no hands on the handlebars.


Thanks for reading and please let me know if I need to fix anything as I go forward. 

(I mean about stories, NOT my personal life – I guess if I was really nice I would ask for those things also – but I’m not!!! :-).