Tuesday, October 17, 2006


As I’ve mentioned before, our family is in the process of building a house, and while we’re living with my in-laws, we’ve been kind of in a state of limbo, church-wise.

For a while, we continued to attend our old ward. That worked for a while, but we began to feel less and less connected there.

So, we started to attend our new ward, thinking to make new friends.

This particular week was very interesting. I woke up, not feeling too well. It was one of those borderline “not too wells” that could go either way. You could get up and go to church, or you could stay in bed all day, and still feel perfectly justified.

Still, as I’ve been feeling so in-between and only a little bit lost lately, I decided that I needed to get my sorry butt out of bed and go to church anyway. I mean, I can see just how easy it would be to go inactive. Miss a few weeks in between, then when your moving, in the chaos, you miss a few more, and before you know it, you’ve stopped attending.

Well, my kids gave me more than their usual amount of grief when we were getting ready, but still we soldiered on and got in the car. It’s about a 40 minute drive to the new ward house. Pretty significant when you consider most people in Utah walk to church. Or, rather they COULD walk to church, but still somehow end up driving…

But I also thought of my pioneer ancestors who walked a couple of thousand miles to get to church, so I didn’t feel too bad about it.

Now, this new ward has a very interesting dynamic going on. It’s in a new city, where houses are going up like weeds on the prairie. The wards are stuffed. Our ward, for example, has an average attendance of over 400 at Sacrament Meeting. There are two Elder’s Quorums. There are two or three adult Sunday school classes.

And yet, they can’t field more than three or four deacons to pass the sacrament. The rest are Melchizedek Priesthood holders.

Sacrament meetings there are, by far, the noisiest I have ever experienced. Babies and young children outnumber the adults by possibly three to one.

After Sacrament, the halls are a gridlock of people passing back and forth trying to get their kids to Primary and then back to Sunday school. I can see just how easy it could be to get swallowed up in the mass of humanity and end up not noticed and “feel like no-one cares”.

But in spite of all those things that could give someone reason to complain (and I’m usually pretty good at jumping on those things), I found myself just feeling relaxed. The spirit cut through the noise during the speakers at Sacrament meeting, and the people I sat with in Sunday School and Priesthood were friendly.

And almost all of them had one big thing in common with me. Within the last few months or so, they’d each been “the new family”.

So, I’m excited to be in the new ward. No matter how many times it splits in the next few months! I’ll jump in and meet people, get my home teaching families, and I’ll probably even join the choir.

Welcome home!

Mark Hansen

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Podcast Interview!

Just a little shameless plug: About a week ago, I got to do a really fun interview with Candace of the Imagine Podcast. It just got released this morning and you can hear it at imagine.candacesalima.com

Mark Hansen
Raising a Star

Last night, I got to see a “Star Raising”. This is an interesting little ceremony that celebrates the completion of a child’s wish by the “Make a Wish” Foundation here in Utah. The building they use has this suspended sculpture in the ceiling of their great hall, and it’s filled with these dangling stars, one for each child’s wish they’ve granted. The child being celebrated (Jacob’s CE friend Adam, in this case), gets to tug on a string to raise his star up, then we all have ice cream.

So, before the ceremony, I started wandering around the building and I noticed that there were these framed pictures all around. They were photos of a lot of the kids that have had their wishes fulfilled, and then a paragraph about their story. It would tell about the illness the child has (or had), and then about the wish.

I was drawn to these stories like a moth to the flame. It was a very intense moment for me. Jacob, because of his Cystic Fibrosis, qualifies as a wish kid. As I read each story, I would be excited to see what they wished for and what they got, then I would start to cry as I realized why each child gets a wish in the first place. And it would hit me hard when the story would mention that this child or that child had since passed away.

Now, Cystic Fibrosis is interesting. If you maintain the treatments, you can live a long time. The current life expectancy of a CF patient is well into the 40’s, if I remember right. It used to be a bit childhood killer. Now, someone can live a full life. But, it can still kill.

And with each story I read, I was reminded of that.

So, I’d tear up in my eyes, and I’d walk away. I shouldn’t be reading these, I’d tell myself. But I kept being drawn back. I turned into quite the recluse, wanting to hide in my own thoughts while everyone else was celebrating Adam’s wish.

Some of the wishes the kids chose touched me more than others. One kid asked for a harp, another for a drum set. One child asked for golf lessons from Tiger Woods. And, of course, about every third one was for the trip to Disneyland.

A lot of them wished to visit or to do something with a celebrity, but one really touched me. He asked to visit the prophet, Gordon B Hinkley. The story said that they met, and Pres Hinkley gave him a special blessing.

What an experience that would be. And to think that this kid could have almost anything he could ask for, and that he asked for that.

I find it interesting that most charities deal in necessities. Research, direct services, paying for treatments, schools, books, etc. I think that’s good and that’s valid. I was amazed to think that this organization provides none of that. These kids are very sick, most are dying, so they give them something to live for. They go straight to the soul.

It reminds me of the song lyric, “I just wanna live while I’m alive!”

Mark Hansen

A post script: Things are progressing nicely on Chapter and Verse. I've been able to play a number of playtest games myself, and more and more other playtesters are joining up! Come check out chapterandversegame.com

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

My Dad's Story

My father is a very fascinating man.

I guess everyone has a story, and when you dive deep enough, you find that they're all very intriguing. But I think my dad's story is particularly exciting.

So, I've been very excited to see that he's starting to blog about it, remembering his days in Germany during and after WWII.

He's also introducing me to a host of other characters in the play of his life, people I've never met, and most of whom I've only seen on pedigree charts and family group sheets.

Anyway, you can check it out for yourself and get caught up in it all.

Mark Hansen


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