Friday, March 13, 2015

That's Not My Panda: A Story about Communication

A few days ago I sat down to teach my little 7 month old baby some Chinese.
"Now, please pay attention! 注意, 唔該! "
As you can see, she sat up and listened attentively...

... until she saw  *insert here* and got a bit off task. This often happens in the middle of our language lessons but I don't let it hurt my feelings. I persevere! 
*insert anything, seriously anything, here: Alsina gets distracted by colors, keys, plants, silverware, loud sounds, squeaky sounds, jingly sounds, textures, patterns, noses, computer cords, daddy, her own digestive processes... visitors from the unseen world... you name it. *
Like any proud new mommy, I am 100% convinced that someday this drooly baby will become the President of the World and will stand in need of all the special skills with which I now attempt to endow her (intimacy with all major languages, firm grasp of great literature, astronomy acumen, voluntary bowel control...). 

Anyway, the text for the day was a children's book, "That's not my panda." 

Now unfortunately for Alsina's future, my own relationship with languages remains more at the "acquaintance" rather than "intimacy" level. A loose acquaintance. Maybe more of an acquaintance-of-an-acquaintance. You know that "friend" on facebook that you can't recall for the life of you but feel guilty unfriending in case he'll be a networking help in the future? That's me and Chinese. 

The activity for our language learning was "Mom reads adorable children's book in Chinese while Zina gnaws, drools and scratches said book." Zina was holding up her side of the arrangement well, but mom... not so much.

The book's plot centers around a frustrated mouse, looking for his/her own panda in a milieu of other panda candidates. How this mouse was able to find so many pandas in such close proximity remains to be told, but I'm sure several governments are looking into it. It advances predictably: That's not my panda, its ears are too fluffy; that's not my panda, its nose is too bumpy; etc etc. At long last the panda in question is found, with the added detail that such a delineation was possible because of the panda's extremely fluffy belly. Truly a triumph for all panda connoisseurs. !

A simple, beautiful story, but Mom was having some issues with her translation abilities. That's not my panda: no problem--熊猫 ! (Did I mention it's not even normal Chinese but Cantonese--Mandarin's less-spoken and less-popular great grandma? So much for the networking help!) That's not my Panda. Got it down. However, every ensuing phrase was giving me trouble. Zina heard something like:
 That's not my panda, its ears are too fluffy... ears... how do you say ears again... man my Chinese is horrible... yi... yi... what was it... how do I say fluffy? furry? hairy? full of air? OK, we'll just go around... its... hearing-devices... are too... full of air. Great. OK, next page. That's not my panda, no problem. Its paws are too rough uggggggh... paws? Hands? OK, its hands are too... how do you say rough... not-smooth? How do you say smooth? Dang this is harder than I thought it'd be...
This went on, page after embarrassing page. Even Zina was starting to notice.

Eventually I gave up completely on the other words and the book became a repeated mantra: "that's not my panda... um... that's not my panda... that's not my panda... er... that's not my panda... "

...Well, so the Chinese class may seem like it was a big fail, but no! I'm still optimistic. She definitely learned at least one phrase, and for a future diplomat, that may be even better than fluency. Just look at these examples:

suddenly becomes...
Chinese diplomat: 他們傷害了中國人民的感情,上海了娃哈哈人的感情”星期三的時候宗慶后在一個外國訪談中以一個憤憤不平的  ?!
Alsina:    熊猫 :) translation: That's not my panda :)

And all tension *poof!* is diffused immediately! Imagine it: communication in its simplest (?) form.

Growing debt and rising taxes? That's not my panda.
What's the US position on space travel? That's NOT my panda.
no worries.
Deep sea fishing rights? That's not MY panda!

This phrase could even catch on in English! It's simultaneously clever, vague and pleasantly non-intimidating--perfect for any politician's arsenal. Sounds like something the Scarlet Pimpernel might adopt (sink me, that's not my panda), what what?

Ronald Reagan - Ronald Reagan Library, courtesy of the National ArchivesConsider these game-changing moments in history. "People have got to know if their president is a crook. Well, that's not my panda." "The only thing we have to fear is mistaking our pandas for other people's pandas" (OK, I'll admit some of these are the best...) How about, "Ms. President, will you raise taxes?" "Read my lips: That's not my panda." It could even be chillingly threatening if the occasion required: "Mr. Gorbachev... That's NOT MY PANDA!" See?

Political history would be a completely different animal---a fluffy, adorable black-and-white one.

Let's try to draw some conclusions about communication before we watch a cute panda video at the end of this thing. 1) Tone is everything. 2) if faced with a communication breakdown any time soon, think of pandas and try to smile through, 3) erm... that's all.

What other situations might "that's not my panda" be useful?

Love you all,
Dia and Zina Sabey

Monday, December 15, 2014

Where is He?

The sign, given by an angel, of the Messiah’s coming was underwhelming and ill-fitting at first glance: a rag-wrapped newborn, laid to cry in a trough.[1] Yet this was the signal sent from God and declared by heavenly messengers: You will find the Son of God in, of all places, a manger, on the outskirts of an already backwater town.

Thousands of years later, many, like the wise men, still seek the Christ. Others, like the shepherds, perhaps unknowingly await Him, humbly going about their daily work. To them, the natal sign remains instructive: You will find the Son of God on the periphery of society. He lives and works among lepers and those possessed of demons, with publicans and adulterers, alongside Samaritans and shepherds.  Indeed, He identifies with the impoverished, infirm, isolated, and incarcerated (Matthew 25:34-40).

If we would find the Messiah, we too must journey to the periphery of society. And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger” (Luke 2:12).

[1] "Let the Stable Still Astonish"

Monday, December 8, 2014

Faith to Rise

            If President Monson asked each family to all build an ark, in specific dimensions which the church will send out. How many of you would build an Ark?
I hope and believe that most, if not all of you would, or at least start building one. However It would be doing something none of us have done before, so I am positive, many trials would follow. I have built a raft before, and I am proud to say that it could carry 2 people! ... who were knee deep in the water. So I can’t imagine building an Ark, it would take a ton of time and effort to learn how to work wood, so that it is water tight, and put it together in the right dimensions. It took Noah 120 years. Also it would be expensive to buy all the tools, and wood needed for an ark. And just think what our non-member friends and the press would think of us. It would be a field day. They would think we were another crazy religion like the religion that believed in the rapture was going to happen in 2012. Our friends may point out that we are about a mile above sea level, no flood could possibly reach all of us. It honestly would be embarrassing.  But if it could save us and our family, it would be worth it, wouldn't it?
I find it interesting that the scriptures have many stories where god asks a man to build a boat, like Nephi, the Brother of Jared, and Noah. Yet we know that if God wanted, these men of great faith could walk on water as Peter did, or be swallowed by a whale, and spit out at the right place, or just transported. So why does god have them build a boat?
It was character building, and taught those skills, and that there is a balance on what their role is, and God’s role. Yet would like to propose to you that the main reason was for the salvation of their families. For example Laman and Lemuel definitely wouldn't have had the faith to walk on water, or have any miracles happen for them. Who knows about Noah’s children, or the original Jaredites, but likely, many of them didn't have faith to move mountains, and couldn't have made it to their destination with their families, if it were not for the boats.
We know that the Lord won’t flood the earth with water again. So the prophet won’t ask us to build boats. But the earth is being flooded with pornography, drugs, false ideals and views of the family and many other filthy things, things that kill people spiritually. However I know that there are literally specific things we can 1) do, 2) build and 3) make so that we can be safe with our families.
First as Noah did, we need to listen and obey god, and his prophets no matter what. As I said I believe most of you would build an Ark if the prophet asked you to, but how many of you have had your personal self-interview as Elder Ballard, a prophet, asked us specifically to do a month ago in our area conference. How many of you are participating in sweeping the earth with a flood of gospel messages, as Elder Bednar, a prophet of the Lord has asked us to do in order to not just stay above the flood of filth, but to battle it. He said
“My beloved brothers and sisters, what has been accomplished thus far in this dispensation communicating gospel messages through social media channels is a good beginning—but only a small trickle. I now extend to you the invitation to help transform the trickle into a flood. Beginning at this place on this day, I exhort you to sweep the earth with messages filled with righteousness and truth—messages that are authentic, edifying, and praiseworthy—and literally to sweep the earth as with a flood.”  End quote.
This gospel flood has some similarities and differences to that of Noah’s. Some similarities are they come from the same infinite source, they both will be purging the world of wickedness, and they both were forecast by prophets. But the differences I find to be more powerful, it is not a flood of water, but of the fire of the spirit and the light of Christ. , for he is the light of the world, and people will see clearer when his influence is in their lives. This flood is no flash flood, it is controlled, and organized and instead of bringing death to a living world, it will bring living water from an infinite source to a world dying of thirst for it. This flood is to bring people unto Christ and help them partake of his atonement. As we participate in this flood, we to cannot help but be touched by it and its power, and be changed. I believe that by doing what is asked, we to will be saving souls, those of friends, those of family, and even ourselves. For D&C 62:3 says “Nevertheless, ye are blessed,,,, for the testimony which ye have borne is recorded in heaven for the angels to look upon; and they rejoice over you, and your sins are forgiven you. By bearing our testimonies, we can be forgiven. What a promise. That is why a prophet has asked us to flood the earth with messages of the gospel. How much easier is that than building an ark? I hope that we are not Namen like, and because of the easiness of the way, fail to do that which is asked.
After doing that which the lord has commanded, we must, as Noah did, build our faith in Christ and his atonement. Noah definitely encountered numerous trials, but stuck to what he was called to, and was faithful to building his ark, and his faith along with it, for 120 years before finally he was rewarded for his faith. What faith and patience he had. We to, will meet many trials and obstacles in our lives before the manifestation of truth comes, and we are rewarded for our faith. Noah was so obedient and faithful, that he became Christ like, and is a symbol of Christ in the scriptures. It was necessary for any living creature who wished to be saved to come “unto Noah into the ark” (Genesis 7:9, 15). Just as it is necessary for us to go unto Christ if we want to be saved from Satan’s flood. So be patient with yourselves, god, and others, and keep your faith, but don’t just keep it, build it, for your reward will come.
Lastly, after doing what the Lord commands, building our faith, we must, like Noah did, make covenants to the saving of our family.
In the Genesis, the world has become so evil that god wants to destroy it, and it is gloomy, but then verse 8 comes up where it says “But Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord.”
 And in verse 18 it says “But with thee will I establish my covenant; and thou shalt come into the ark, thou, and thy sons, and thy wife, and thy sons’ wives with thee.”
 If there is one place on earth that has not been covered by the flood of filth, it is the Temple. The temple is a place of safety and covenants, which protect us from the storm off life, and raises us above our natural state. As Noah’s Ark did for him and his family.
When Noah’s family finally boarded the ark, he sealed the door and did not open it again until the rains ceased and the ground dried, close to a year later. When they emerged, they emerged into a new world. I love that the door to the evil world was sealed shut, and Noah was literally sealed with his family inside the ark, thus Ark of the Covenant mentioned in verse 18. I know that as we make covenants with the lord, and build our testimonies, the crowning moment will be when we are sealed together with our spouse and our posterity for time and all eternity. At that point, we must leave behind the filth of the world and go forth in faith on a higher plane. From Noah’s story, we know the floods of life will eventually settle, and you and your family, together, will see the beauty of the gospel in your life, of this new world, just like the rainbow that crossed the sky for Noah and his family.
I have a less active sister, who has lost a lot of faith, but I believe because of my parents doing what the Lord commanded, building their testimonies, and the covenants my parents have made, she will be safe and in our eternal family, even if she doesn't return to the church in this life. I am so grateful for my parent’s covenants, and the safety, security and peace that they bring to me and my family, even when life is hard.  

That is why my favorite hymn is “lead kindly light, which ends saying “lead thou me on, over more and craige and torrent (flood) till the night is gone” Here the author admits there are floods, and trials in life, yet goes on to say “but with the morn, those angel faces smile, which I have loved long since and lost a while.” Which I take to mean returning to heaven, and seeing loved ones who died early, or were lost spiritually, or lost to us in any other way. They will be there waiting, and smiling. In this I believe. I believe that it the work of salvation is brought about by us obeying the lord, building faith, and making covenants. Yet, in the end, it wasn't Noah that saved his family, it was God. I know that only through Christ’s, and his atonement we can be saved with our families. I don’t know if I deserve it, but I to have found grace in the eyes of the lord, and for this I am eternally grateful. Especially during this holiday season. In the name of Jesus Christ, my savior amen.

Monday, December 1, 2014

Spreading Some Christmas Cheer

We were asked to make an invitation to our ward's Christmas program. As the creative juices started flowing, I found myself pasting clip art to the document, unaware of the passage of time, in an artistic ecstasy. This is the result. Words utterly fail to express the emotions this combination of images inspires.

My First Jazz Song

One of my favorite hobbies is composing music on the computer program GarageBand. I have this desire to create music but the problem is I can't really play any instruments that well. So this is perfect for me. I just choose the instruments I want and program in the notes. I don't have to know how to play any instruments - I just have to know what I want them to play:)

It's called "Smooth Jam"

Monday, November 17, 2014

Death and Faith

In our sacrament meeting yesterday, a father, mother, and son spoke about their faith. They were not particularly eloquent speakers, but their testimonies were moving. The son has Leukemia, and his doctors are not optimistic about his chances of survival. Yet in the face of looming death, all three spoke of their trust in a loving God, and in meaningful suffering. One moment in particular stands out to me: As the father spoke, he said something like, "I pray for a miracle, and I can see the doctor announcing to us that he cannot explain how it happened, but the cancer is gone. My son may live to attend my funeral. I believe that could happen. But I may attend my son's funeral. And, although I still pray for a miracle, I recognize that it may not be God's will to heal him." It struck me that this was faith at it's core: a simultaneous clinging and letting go--hoping for a miracle, finding meaning in suffering, submitting to God--and it was beautiful.