Trophy Week

This week I learned about the origin of the word trophy. It comes from a Greek word which means to turn. At the point in a battle when fortunes changed and the Greeks began to press forward to victory, someone would erect a small stand of stones or battle debris to mark the moment. This was called a tropaion.

And this is what happened to us this week. The direction of our battle turned. I could feel it like a wind change on about Tuesday or Wednesday. There’s still a battle, but we’re now advancing.

Many times I thought of how each of the children and also Woo and I have changed for the better in the few months we’ve been working on overcoming contention and rudeness.

There was very little contention this week, which is especially surprising when you know the kids got a new board game this week (Monopoly), that they’ve spent many hours playing as school winds down, and I only remember one short argument.

The kids had some trouble holding still in our classes, but like I told Woo, probably every school in the world has difficulty holding school in June... for any of them crazy enough to do such a thing...

The kids were definitely feeling that it was time to be done. They kept asking me when we were going to have “Surprise Day.”

Surprise Day is actually our annual awards ceremony we have at the end of school where we call a kid up in front of everyone, announce a few of their accomplishments for the year, clap, and they receive a small present (hence the name Surprise Day, I guess). School is not yet over, and we still don’t know when the packets will end. Ruby, Herbie, and Moses would’ve been out of school already, but they all got another packet on Friday.

But we decided to have Surprise Day anyway and I went shopping for gifts. The gifts are usually summer activity things to kick off the kids’ summer, but I had a difficult time finding anything and padded all their gifts with things like 2 ice cream bars and a pack of ramen each. (We never buy ramen here as it’s expensive, and probably because of this the kids have decided that they love it.)

They were all excited about these, and also very gracious about their other gifts that they all told me several times that they loved, even though they were kind of lame. Moses got the previously mentioned already-opened game of Monopoly that was hiding in Woo’s closet and never getting played. But wow, has it been a hit.

After we had our “ceremony” Moses walked around with a huge smile on his face and he’d stop to give me a hug every time he passed me. Later he told me he knew why he was feeling so good. It was because he’d given all the other members of the family a present himself, and not only that, but he’d written a little note on each one to tell them what he thought they’d done well that year.

Also he’d inspired Herbie, Linus, Penelope and Archie to give out little gifts or cards to everyone themselves.

Ruby has come a long way and she did even better this week, stripping herself of that little bit of pride that would waylay her when Herbie would get ahead of her in dictation or she was corrected.

Ruby wrote a great poem this week and also had fun singing many primary songs she’d forgotten when we received a children’s song book in English from the Elders’ apartment (which they’re closing).

Herbie has a list of things that he’s supposed to pray for every day. He got this list through personal revelation, some of his father’s blessings, and in one case, something I told him he needed to pray for. There is a HUGE difference in his behavior when he remembers to say these prayers and when he forgets.

He’s been remembering them this week, and is hopefully through with forgetting them.

I asked all the kids what their favorite class was. Most of them said Oliver Twist, but Herbie said Church History. We only do this for 1/2 an hour once week, but he wishes we did it more often.

Linus also really likes our Old Testament class (also for 1/2 an hour once a week). I’m reading straight from the Bible, but picking out more exciting stories at random. He gets out his Bible and reads along with me.

One of his most recent blessings blessed him that he would find the scriptures to be exciting and he definitely does.

This is pretty typical Penelope... While I was making dinner, Moses spilled the recycling he was supposed to be taking out all over the kitchen floor. He was getting very frustrated, so I called to Penelope to see if she could help.

She yelled, “sure!” and came running in, wiped up milk, put new bags in the garbage cans and anything else he needed.

When that was over she asked if there was anything she could do for me. All I needed was the table set, so she did that, then went upstairs where she decided to pick up Archie’s legos for him. No one else needing help, she was free to play or read a book.

I should probably also mention, that while Moses and Penelope were working in the kitchen, Linus was selflessly moving Moses’s legos from the living room to Moses’s room for dinner, and Ruby helped a bit at the end when she arrived from taking out the garbage.

Archie also loves Old Testament and he also runs to get his Bible to read along. He loved the story of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego in the fiery furnace... I realize it’s probably the first time he’s ever heard it.

Unbeknownst to me, at some point during the week Penelope and Archie memorized several scriptures together.

Archie (While trying to come with an idea for a talk): ... oh yeah... “Alma, arise and stand forth, for why persecutest thou the church of God?...”

He had the whole verse memorized and based his talk on it.

Woo wrote a nice page or more about memories he had growing up in the old house his parents recently sold and moved out of. Writing personal stories and daily blessings is something that Woo has been doing progressively more and more frequently over a year or more, and I think is contributing to his progressively more and more happy daily demeanor.

Woo and my sacrament meeting talks have changed. Faced with 40+ minutes of talking and keeping the kids’ attention they’ve become more personal and also follow a single topic that we have several stories about.

I last spoke about patriarchal blessings, explaining the procedure of getting one, my experience, my feelings, how my interpretations had changed over time, as well as parts of my patriarchal blessing.

Woo spoke today about his mission, from being set apart, what the MTC is like, also your first days in the field. What he was prepared for, wasn’t prepared for, what he learned, etc. It worked out well as several parts of primary had to do with missionary work and reinforced what Woo had said.

And that’s our week. I hope yours was great!