Monday, June 6, 2011

Surprised by SVU, Homeless in VA, and Happy with Eli in DC

We started our weekend with the excitement of being somewhere we have never been before: a beautiful little town called Buena Vista with Southern Virginia University nestled in its arms. Though there are only about 750 students, it is indeed a University with all the advantages of small classrooms, excellent one-on-one time with professors and the joys of being a big fish in a little pond. The property is beautiful complete with a grand old mansion that was originally built to house a women's college.

We were there for a Family Conference that is directed by the incredible co-founder of SVU, Kathleen Knight, who has been doing family conferences for the past 15 years. She gathers people who are professionals in their field to present ideas at a weekend conference to help create stronger families through powerful music, inspiring art and the spoken word. She does a terrific job!

The artwork this year was a display of 30 stunning paintings that portray the magic of the seemingly mundane life of a mother. Leslie Graff, the artist, uses dress shoes to remind mothers that what they are doing is more important and even more glamorous than they may realize. When we consider what moms produce with all their daily and never ending acts of service we can see that the job of a mother can be downright heavenly even though some days it seems like the exact opposite.

(Saren, Leslie was at the POM retreat in NH). These are just pictures of paintings but you'll get the idea. I think they are truly extraordinary!

Speaking of art, I was totally surprised to find my darling friend Dixie Schoenhals Stoddard there. Her husband is on the SVU Board of Directors and has been a very generous benefactor. She has also been my art teacher and a whole gallery of her art is displayed at the university. It was truly a joy to see her!

It really felt like home when we also saw the wonderful Scott and Annell Doxey family including their oldest daughter Rachel who lives next door with two adorable children. Sadly they moved from our neighborhood last year as Scott accepted a job with the SVU administration. It was great fun to see their newly reverted "old home" there.

They are also hosting a high school exchange student from Indonesia this year. We loved talking with her, learning that kids in Java (where she lives and where many of the furnishings in our Balinese house are from), go to school from 6 am to 4 am from Monday through Saturday. Amazing! She also prays exactly on time five times a day and she fasted during Ramadan from sunrise to sunset during the entire month of August which has about 18 hours of daylight!!! She made me remember why I loved the Muslim families we have met on our travels. That is true devotion as well as quite incredible.

From there we got in our little rental car and in about 3 hours we were at Eli and Julie's house on Capitol Hill! Julie was in CA celebrating her parents' return from their mission in Brazil? Eli stayed for work but will joining her tomorrow.

As we drove into the DC area it seemed a bit strange not to have our little home in McLean after owing it for almost forty years, even though we haven't lived there for many years. After one moment of mourning I realized how good it feels to unload! Eli led us to a fab Thai restaurant in Georgetown and then on to the newly created park near their house, right on the river. It gives "park" a whole new meaning!

The next morning while Dad got some sun therapy on the roof, Eli and covered the National Gallery including the East wing. Too much to tell about all I loved but many of you will recognize Eli's favorite place on the mall:

That night we journeyed once again to the Temple Visitor's Center where Eli made an enormous contribution to our speech. It's always so fun to bask in the spirit there and even more fun to have Eli to add the substance and the pizzazz.

What an interesting ward Eli and Julie have! There couldn't be wider diversity combined with more depth in one ward! We LOVED it!

Today Dad and I walked down the mall and dashed into museums between phone calls trying to help Charity work out her accident details. We are SO grateful that she is okay! More details on that in the next post.

We are flying across the country and back to the real...crazy and exciting world! The question is..... will be snow at Park City?

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad


Shawni said...

love the pictures, mom. I love knowing all the adventures you guys have. Love you!

Shawni said...

i also love those paintings. I read something about that artist before...very clever.

Lynn and Sherry Whyte said...

it was delightful meeting you there. thank you for the kind compliments on the paintings...

smart mama said...

sorry that was really me-- leslie- my mom was signed in to blogger