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  • Mark Trudeau

Sunday In Grand Cayman

Sometimes I have this desire to bottle up a day or a portion of a day and save it for the times when I'm not having the best of days. I don't think this is an unusual desire- the world is probably filled with people who feel the same way. That we have the ability to place experiences behind our eyes, and capture feelings deep in our heart- easy to reclaim and experience once again, is one of the best tools our Heavenly Father has given us to cope with days that are less than perfect. The creation of the camera, film, video on our phones, and social media sites, makes recall all the easier. Still, there is something special about living again, moments in time that, at some earlier point, wrapped themself around our heart that makes their recall sweet beyond words.

Returning to Grand Cayman has given me many recall experiences that are sweet and very strong. Attending church in the little LDS Branch here on the island, loving the members who come and share their all with those of us who are only temporary visitors, is one such experience. Driving the coast road that winds around the southeast tip of the island, feeling the ocean breezes, and seeing the waves crashing upon the coral reef a short way off the shore where the water's color turns from a beautiful teal to a deep blue, is another. Visiting shut in members who desire the blessings of the Sacrament, but because of age, physical conditions, disabilities, or other challenges, are unable to attend the Branch, and so the Branch must go to them, is yet another. Often, as the faith of my brothers and sisters are witnessed, particularly given their most meek and challenging circumstances, they become a witness and testimony to me, especially in the light of the blessings I so richly enjoy!

Sunday in Grand Cayman has become a delight to me, and I so appreciate the fact that I'm here, that my life has unfolded in a way that I was able to come here once, and now again and again. There is no question that God loves the island nations that are sprinkled all across this globe, just as he loves all His children, whatever place they live in, and whatever circumstances they live under. As one who has "been around the block," my few experiences outside of the comfortable and sheltered bubble I have lived in most of my life, continues to expand my heart in ways I could never could have imagined possible, humbles me, and finds me quietly reaching toward Him with an abundance of thanks in my heart!

Some more questions and answers:

Question 300: When you're sick, do you grin and bear it, or just curl up in bed as much as possible?

Answer: I rarely get sick to the point where I need to spend any time in bed. When I'm not feeling well, or completely myself, I believe I tend to grin and bear it, but the truth is, this question is better answered by those around me when I'm sick. Pam, most certainly knows the answer to this question better than I. I will say that I tend to not take medicine, I despise going to the doctor, and believe that given a little time, whatever I'm experiencing will pass. When I am sick enough to stay in bed, I'm absolutely miserable being there and find that staying there doesn't last longer than absolutely necessary. My personal belief is that our bodies are a lot more resilient than we think or know.

Question 2802: What was your favorite age, so far?

Answer: I think about the time I was 11 or 12 years old. I remember that time as being one filled with all sorts of adventures- going to Florida over Christmas, driving through snowy and rainy weather on the way there, spending Christmas on the beach, Disney World, coming back through the Appellation Mountains, and then in the spring and summer going camping in northern Michigan with my birthday always falling on the week were gone to Tawas City or other State Parks. I may be blending a couple of years' worth of experiences, but what stands out in my mind was that as a family, we were never all that removed from some kind of adventure. I didn't really appreciate what was happening then, but I do now and have for a long time. My love of travel, history, trying new things, and tasting life in different ways was born then and has only matured in me all these years since.

Question 2438: Do you have a list of things to do before you're "x" years old?

Answer: Yes and No. Some call it a "Bucket List," and I have a short list of things I want to do before I leave this earth. None are tied to age, but as I get older, and the list gets longer, and my bank account remains somewhat static, I'll admit that I've hesitated to add some things to the list. Some of the items on that list include:

  • Spending a month, or two, visiting historical sites throughout Europe, including some of the Eastern European countries like Hungary, where a part of my family is from, and Russia, that I have always felt a strong connection to.

  • Learning how to blow glass! I just think it's one of the best art forms in the world!

  • Standing in the slip way where the Titanic was built.

  • Building my own home, passive in nature, off-the-grid for the most part, with plenty of land around me to putter in, build a garden, a small workshop where I design and make some furniture or just play with tools generally.

  • Road trip across the United States with stops at places I haven't been to before, like the Alamo, and downtown Dallas where JFK was shot, or seeing some of summer homes of ultra-rich from the turn of the century- basically, touch US history in as many places as possible.

  • Eat at every restaurant on the TV show "Diners, Dives & Drive-Inns." Maybe not everyone, but at least those where the food looks amazing: Like Lobster Rolls in Maine, Steak and Fries in Idaho, and Seafood Taco's (of all things) in Alaska. My thought was always to combine the food stops with the road trip.

  • Buy a Potter's Wheel and make pottery.

  • Learn how to paint with oils and watercolors.

  • Buy and renovate an old Chateau in France and make it a private resort destination.

  • Finish our family cabin and live there for a few years before handing it off to my kids and brothers and sisters.

  • Become Scuba certified. I've tried Scuba now several times and it's a blast. Would be thrilling to checkout an old shipwreck!

Question 2228: How do you like your eggs?

Answer: Any way but raw. Soft-scrambled, Poached, Over-easy/medium, Pan-fried on a sandwich, Deviled Eggs, Egg-salad! I'm sure there's more, but those are the top 5 or 6.

Question 1842: What is your favorite luxury or sports car?

Answer: Hands down, Aston Martin V12 Vantage Roadster Convertible. If I had one, I would have to visit Hair Club for Men to get a little something on top to blow in the wind. This is NOT a car, it's a driving experience unlike anything else in the world!

Question 1624: What memory from school days still troubles you?

Answer: All of them! There is one that stands out. When I was in 7th grade Junior High (Covington, Birmingham, MI) we had half the year in the gym/ pool. Gym was OK, but the pool really frightened me- I couldn't swim, or at least, I never really learned how to swim, certainly not in lanes doing laps and the whole diving board thing. I was petrified beyond words! It soon became pretty clear to just about everyone else in my gym class, that swimming to me was akin to staying alive while in the water. Our swimming coach put us through the rigors, and I was clearly the odd man out. At this same time, I had taken a keen interest in a girl in my history class who happened to be the captain of the girl's swim team. We had nothing in common, she came from the wealthy side of the community (as just about everyone in my class did) and I was very clearly "middleclass." After a few weeks of wet humiliation, I went to my swimming coach and asked that he teach me how to swim and drive off the board. He agreed, but it had to be for 30 minutes only immediately after his last class, which would also allow me to still catch my bus home. The lessons started and I progressed, until the day that we started the "board" work. Here I was standing on the edge of the diving board, very high above the deep end of the pool, where I still felt very uncomfortable, toes over the edge of the board, slightly bent forward, hands together to form a blade in front of me, ready to dive headfirst into that ocean, my teacher coaching from the side of the pool. All of a sudden, the door to the girl's locker room thrust open and five of six girls on the swim team, led of course by the girl I liked, came running into the pool room. Startled, I looked up at the very minute that I had also started my forward lean into the pool. What happened next was a full-frontal body flop of epoch proportions followed by a frantic struggle to get to the side and not drown. I came up the ladder red faced and body, to laughing, name calling and finger pointing, including by this girl that I liked. That stayed with me throughout 7th grade and portion of 8th grade. I never did approach the girl's swim team captain and resolved that I would never again set foot on a diving board, which I'm sorry to say, I haven't. I'm now rather comfortable in the water, can swim a bit and have no issues diving in off the edge of the pool, but the red body flop scars remain.

Question 1510: Did you create a checklist for your ideal spouse, if so, what were two things you wanted?

Answer: No, not really. When I was serious about wanting to get married, the most important thing to me was that the person I married would talk to me- that we could speak about anything and everything and it would lift us both. I guess the other thing that I secretly wanted, was some type of feeling that I was making the right choice. Well, I got both with Pam, especially the confirmation part. I'll admit I was plenty scared, but anytime we've ever had troubles, and we've had plenty, I always remember the feeling that so completely washed over me when I first asked Pam to marry me and I know, that no matter what, we're supposed to be together. Our relationship is not perfect, but that's what forever is for, and having been Sealed for Time and all Eternity (as opposed to "till death do you part"), we have plenty of time ahead of us!

Question 1387: What is your first proper memory?

Answer: Not sure why the word "proper" is there, but my earliest memory is when we lived on Sloan Steet in Taylor, Michigan. I must have been 4 years old or so. I'm in a bedroom, I think, and there's this square black plastic block with a thick tube coming from the middle with a red tip. It was an old 45 RPM record player. I remember someone stacking some records on it and watching them drop and play one by one. It fascinated me and the music reached deep down inside of me and landed in a place that moves me to this day. It's a rather vivid memory and I could probably draw that record player very accurately if I needed to. I have no idea what music was playing, only that it touched me deeply.

Question 1084: What type of people scare you?

Answer: Angry, aggressive people. When I lived on the streets for a short time, down around 7 Mile Road and Woodward, I got beat up a couple of times when I wasn't being mindful of what was happening around me. Thank goodness I could run and run pretty fast. When I see the violence happening in so many communities today across our country, it doesn't really scare me, but it makes me want to stay home and not venture out as much as I used to. The latest stabbing on the Las Vegas Strip reminds me that as careful as we might be, you never really know what's in someone's heart, mind and hand just a few feet away. I'm rather cautious about those types of situations.

Question 887: Do you give money to homeless people you see in the street?

Answer: Not always. I know that what I have in my pocket and bank account is not mine. It ALL belongs to Him that made me and I'm just the steward of it for a short while. That being the underlying principle I live by my dad also taught me to never loan money to anyone if I was also not prepared to make it a gift. As for the homeless, when I feel something inside of me, that still small voice that tells me I should act, I do.

Two experiences that haunt me a little bit: First, when I was living in LA and working on a project there, there were homeless all around me and I sometimes felt compelled to buy a big bottle of water and set it next to a person sleeping on the street in the hot, direct sun. One day, I saw what I thought was an old man shuffling down the street, wearing rags, literally looking like he had not eaten or seen the inside of a building for months. It was actually a teenager, who looked very old and beat up by life. I had $700.00 in my pocket that I had just retrieved from my savings there to take back home. That still small voice said, "Give him a hundred-dollar bill." I walked up to him and gave him $20.00. The look on his face, his surprise, his gratitude, melted my heart, but I walked away having given what I thought was enough. That next weekend traveling home, I lost the entire $700.00 when it must have fallen out of my pocket when I stopped for gas. To this day, I wish I had given him a hundred dollars. As for the $700.00, I only hope that someone picked it up who really needed it. Second story: It was the fall of the year and Pam and I were leaving the house to go someplace. I noticed this young woman pushing a baby stroller past our house. As we got into the car, I knew instantly that this woman and her baby had no home and no means. I stopped the car by her and reached into my pocked and pulled out something like $33.00. I gave her three, which she took and expressed how grateful she was, and we drove off. Not long afterward the feeling came over me how selfish I had been and that I should have given her everything I had in my pocket, all $33.00. That probably would have a real difference to her and her baby- certainly not provide any place to live but feed them for a couple of days, and I would never have missed it, not a single penny of it.

I've never forgotten that feeling and have since come to realize that these feelings come to us for a reason. We are to be our brother's keeper! We really own nothing, everything that comes to us is only ours for short season and then we're gone. Nothing I do will ever end the troubles of the homeless, why they're homeless, or change their beliefs about who they are and what they could or should be doing- that's not the point. Charity has to be genuine, and it has to be selfless, or it means nothing. Do I give a few dollars to everyone who asks? No, but when I feel that prompting or hear that still small voice, I now desire to give all I can because I know God is looking out for that person too, and I may just be the hands and means He needs right then.


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