Thursday, August 21, 2008


I have been inspired by a friend tonight. Learning about her plans and pursuits to follow her passions has made me think about my passions and the point in my life when I stopped pursuing them.
I really wanted to be an Anthropologist . After my mission I really focused on just that. I took classes at the university, and with my background my professors fell in love with me right away. 

In the first few months of my mission I lived in a large area on the Pacific side of Taiwan. There were many villages where Taiwan aboriginal people lived. These were the Taroko, and Amoko tribes.  I was fascinated with these groups. I had no idea they existed before I landed in Taiwan. They had a language far different from Chinese. I found them very interesting. They were extremely friendly, and open. They were very physical people that almost tackled you when they greeted you.  The older generation were exceptionally friendly. They had tattooed faces. They loved to tell stories. We befriended this lady that swore she was over 100 years old. Everyone called her Auntie 100.  She would walk miles a day to the mountains to pick fruit of which she would eagerly share with us. Whenever she saw us she would almost tackle us with a big warm hug. It was common for her to slap the backs of our necks.  

This is me chewing on a betelnut palm fruit straight from the tree. Betelnut chewing is common in South Asia. It provides an alkaloid high.
I was so fascinated with their language I diagramed the grammar and started keeping a dictionary. By the time I left the area my Taroko was as good as my Chinese.

After I got back, I was called to be the ward mission leader. Right after that, our ward absorbed the Lummi Indian branch. (This was a branch that my Grandma had started in the 1960s.) It was my job to track down all of the branch members and find out where they were and let them know where and when we meet. Also I found out what we could do for them etc...

Many of the people were older and knew my grandma. These folks seemed to enjoy talking to me and I spent as much time as I could out there. When I realized these people still spoke Lummi, I was enthralled and I learned as much grammar and vocabulary as I could. I wrote it all down in those marbled Mead notebooks. This was all before Windows 3.11 was
sold so keeping it on computer didn't occur to me. I shared these notes with the Anthropology dept. at Western Washington
University. It wasn't long before I was in the Honors Anthropology program.

The next year I got married. I was young, and though I knew what my passion was, I also wanted to do the right thing. My ex-father-in-law found out what I was studying and he came unglued. He couldn't see how my family could survive on an academic's income.

Because of my naivety I succumbed and changed my degree to something I wasn't so interested in but would make more money.

At the time I worked at a Software company, and soon realized a career that most college grads couldn't get into. I was making more money than my already college graduated friends from High School, and to get ahead I had to learn things that I couldn't at college. So I quit college and focused on my software career.

I have worked for two companies since my mission. A company in Washington that sold Business Software and a company here in UT that sells Educational Software.

The good news is my dream has kind of come true. No, I'm not a professor who gets to study little known cultures. But... I work for a company who sells language learning software all over the world. I'm their International Technology Engineer. I get to travel around every once in awhile and experience some pretty cool things.

I am going to pursue my passions. It was a mistake to do anything else.


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