Sunday, October 18, 2009

Our Most Recent Gag

The guys who live in the house around the corner from us are so hilarious! A few weeks ago, they stuck this on our door:

It's kind of hard to see, but from left to right, it says: Diana, BreAnna, Miranda, Nina, Deb, and Lisa. So, not to be outdone, we put on an all-night production and came out with this:

(Elizabeth Berkley, Kim Raver, Cate Blanchett, Kirsten Dunst, Rebecca Gayheart, and Missi Pyle) I think they turned out rather well, but you'll have to tell me what you think!

One Rough, Amazing Week

This week has been crazy for those associated with the marching band. If, somehow, you are out of the loop and don't know what's going on, it all started last Saturday. On the way home from a competition in Pocatello, Idaho, the bus driver of the woodwind bus passed out for some reason, causing the tour bus to veer off the highway out of control. Thinking quickly, Heather Christensen, the woodwind staff, jumped up and took the wheel. They ended up flipping over & Heather died. The kids were pretty beat up, and two had to be life-flighted, but no one else died. It was a crazy night, and the kids were pretty shaken when they found out, as well one might imagine. Throughout this entire ordeal, there have been so many instances of outreach and love, it has been wonderful. The director of the Davis High band got them another bus, which was very nice because otherwise it would have taken a lot longer. They took all the kids to the hospital to make sure they were ok, and they didn't get home till early in the morning. One thing that I think is so great is that the other buses, who saw it happen, stayed with them and waited until the other bus came. I just love how united the band is, and what happens to one, happens to all. The other buses could easily have gone on ahead, but they stuck together.

The band had a meeting on Sunday to see how the kids felt about the competition that was on the following Tuesday, the Rocky Mountain competition at BYU. They could either not go, go just to watch, do their show just as exhibition, or compete. They voted unanimously to compete; they said it was what Heather would have wanted them to do. Those kids are so tough! I cannot even imagine performing a show, so emotional anyway, so soon after such a traumatic experience, full of memories. They did an amazing job, despite the obvious holes from people who couldn't march. As soon as they were lined up in the tunnel ready to come out, everyone started cheering and the entire stadium gave them a standing ovation. Then they remained standing until they were all set up. It was great to see the support and respect. There were four woodwinds who couldn't march that were grouped around the flag in front with Kelsie, just playing. It was touching, almost like the casualties of war to whom the show pays tribute. At the end, they turned around one of the posters and they had Heather's picture with the scripture from John 15:13 - "Greater love hath no man that this, that a man lay down his life for his friends." It was so moving, because that is exactly how the woodwinds felt, that she saved their lives. It really was a miracle that only one person died, as tragic as that was. If the driver had passed out earlier, they would have gone off a cliff, and if Heather hadn't taken the wheel when she did, they would have gone into the lava rocks and it would have been even worse. Standing ovation at the end again until they were all off the field. (Sorry I don't have any pictures, I was dumb and left my camera at home!) After them was the BYU Cougar marching band in exhibition. During their show, we looked up and noticed a flock of white birds a little ways off. I thought they were just geese heading out for the year, and didn't think much of it. But then they came right over the stadium and circled about three times before flying off. We didn't really know what to make of it, but afterwards found out that they were doves. The band felt really strongly that Heather sent them. That was really cool. Afterwards, to show their support and love, the Cougar Band played "Amazing Grace." It was cool to see that support and feel the spirit that was there. It was drizzling, almost like the sky was crying as well. They gave the band a thing of flowers too. As far as awards go, it was another clean sweep. The drum majors from the other bands were such good sports. After every competition, they salute each other and then give each other hugs and congratulations. This time was no different, and I think it's cool that they can still be friends even when they are competing against each other.

On Saturday they had Heather's funeral at the American Fork Tabernacle. That was the coolest experience, at least for me. We went super early and were just sitting and listening. The woodwind section played the prelude, which they prepared in like two days - arranged, practiced, and put together. They did a really good job, even considering the lack of music stands in the stand, since they didn't have time to memorize it. It was really nice - smooth, quiet, soothing. Then for about the last 15 minutes the organ took over the prelude and it was really interesting to see the contrast. After the other, the organ was just grating - loud and dramatic. The tributes and stuff were great, as were the talks. Elder Bruce Hafen of the Seventy was there and gave a marvelously inspiring talk. Apparently, the AF City Council announced Saturday as Heather Christensen Day, and in honor of her, everyone was asked to do an act of service, since that was what her life was all about, from beginning to end. He also talked about "staying on your dot" in the spiritual sense, and keeping our lives in line so that we can meet together in the Celestial kingdom with Heather, who no doubt will save spots. Another image from the other talk that I enjoyed a lot was a story told about a little freight boat. The people on the dock watching her sail away into the mist say, "She's gone!" but the people waiting at the new destination for the goods say, "Here she comes!" I liked that way of putting it, because I'm sure there were lots of people there to greet her, as there will be for everyone. After it was all over, the organ played while the band filed out. Then as they were starting to take the casket out, it stopped. We were all thinking, "Ok, now is not the time to be flipping pages!" But then through the open doors, floating in on the breeze, the band started to play their second movement, the slow one. It was so touching! The Spirit was so strong; it was like taps, or the windows of heaven opening to usher her in. It was also like the band's voices, thanking her one last time and bidding her farewell. I don't think there was a dry eye in the tabernacle, even the men.

It never ceases to amaze me how strong those at AFHS are. Every trial and tragedy that comes their way is faced with courage and unity. They support each other in their hard times, whether they know them personally or not. It never seems to end either. I remember last year, it seemed like every other week, something else had happened and there was a card in the hall in the seminary and people were crowded around it, offering comfort and letting them know that they were being thought of and prayed for, sometimes by complete strangers. They really are of "one heart and one mind" and I'm so grateful for that example.

It was a neat experience for me particularly. I didn't know Heather very well at all, just that she was Samantha's clarinet leader. But I felt so much closer to her after that and so grateful that she did what she did so that my sister could still be here with us. I cannot imagine how horrible that would have been. As much pain and suffering that there was in that building, it could have been thousands of times worse, if all the families of all those kids had to go through the same heartache and grief. It's sad that it takes events like this to make you realize how much you really love your family, but at least there is some good that can come out of it. I'm so grateful for the Atonement and the way that it provides so that we can all be together again, and also for its healing power. I am so grateful for that knowledge in my life. Hopefully we can all resolve to be better people and learn from this incredibly difficult trial.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

A perfect day for a marching band competition!

Last Saturday was the Nebo competition in Payson and it was so much fun! It was a gorgeous day, the sun shining with the perfect amount of breeze (though sometimes the breeze did smell a little of cows :)). My mom and I went to cheer them on and had a picnic in the process. Hurrah for free food!! Voilà the simple pleasures of a college student. :) For those of you new to the marching band world, there are several schools who come from around the state to compete, divided into several divisions based on size. AF is in 5A, along with Davis High and Mountain Crest High. There is a fierce rivalry between Davis and AF, with Mountain Crest hanging on their tails for the most part. Davis didn't end up showing up, so it was between AF and Mountain Crest. To give them credit, Mountain Crest has gotten way better since last year. We were a little worried when we saw their show that they were becoming a threat. But then AF started to march onto the field...

Ah, check out those straight lines! Who can compete with that?!! They are just so imposing; there are so many of them, all in perfect's amazing! As soon as they start to come out, one person will start to cheer and that's all it takes to get that crowd going. Everyone, all dressed in caveman red, stands up and just starts to cheer. I love the support everyone shows, that is part of the fun for me. Their show is called "The Greatest Generation" and they have all these references to World War II with war posters, music, formations, etc. The girl in the wheelchair in the corner is so sweet! Her name is Kelsie Smith and she has been made an honorary band member. She sits there holding the flag, just smiling so big, I love it! :)

It is so cool at the end; the band walks off and leaves the colorguard girls standing in perfect rows, columns, and diagonals like crosses, just like Arlington Cemetary. It is chilling.

So after all the schools perform, they have all the drum majors come out and then they announce the awards for all the divisions. When they came to the 5A awards, everyone is just on pins and needles.

"Outstanding musical performance...American Fork High School! *cheering*

Outstanding color guard...American Fork High School! *cheering!* (we were so proud of those girls, because that one has been a toss up in the past)

Outstanding visual performance...American Fork High School! *Cheering!*

Outstanding percussion...American Fork High School! *Cheering!!* (no shocker there, AF wins percussion every single time, for years in a row)

And First Place with a score of 929.42...AMERICAN FORK HIGH SCHOOL! *CHEERING!!!*

Needless to say, AF came out victorious and we were thrilled to death about it. :) Hopefully that trend will continue on Tuesday when they come to my town to compete at BYU! GO CAVEMEN!!