"Money is better than poverty, if only for financial reasons." - Woody Allen
Question #92802 posted on 01/31/2020 6:38 p.m.
Q:

Dear 100 Hour Board,

What's a question or two that you wish someone has asked you, but hasn't? Please tell us the question and then answer it.

-What Can I Say Except You're Welcome

A:

 Dear Maui,

Well how'd you know?!

Dear Goldie Rose,

Didn't you go to Tonga? How did it go?

-John Groberg

Dear Johnnie,

Io! Carl and I went to Tonga last September during my second trimester as our last hurrah before Carl Jr. was born. We were there for a total of 12 days. We were on the main island (Tongatapu) and Ha'apai.

For those unaware, Carl served his mission in Tonga and has never visited since being home. Most missionaries who serve there find it hard to go back since it took us 29 hours total to get there. It's not a place where you want to just spend a 4 day weekend there. Ideally, we were going to be there for a month. But it was a miracle Carl's work said yes to two weeks off as we were almost completely off the grid. 

We first flew to LA, and then Fiji. We had an 8 hour layover in Fiji, so we decided to get breakfast near the wharf. We didn't have much time for other than that. I had gotten maybe 2ish hours of sleep on the flight so I was exhausted. I believe we arrived in Fiji 4 am their time. It took a while to get through customs. But now I have a Fiji stamp on my passport!

Fiji

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We couldn't help but giggle at this sign at the wharf.

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On the way back to the airport I saw some graves! Heck yes!

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Tonga

We stayed at couple AirBnbs in Tongatapu that were AWESOME. Message me if you're going to Tonga in the future and I'll recommend you the places where we stayed. The places we stayed at provided breakfast and the fresh fruit was to die for.

Here's some cool places/scenery shots that I saw as we were traveling to where we were staying. Whenever I was in the car, I was snapping pictures of everything because I didn't want to forget anything. (I don't remember where every picture was taken.)

More cemeteries! Tongans have the coolest cemeteries. I want to be buried like a Tongan. (But I'm pretty sure America wouldn't allow that.)

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Coolest looking church ever. (Ha'apai)

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Mission president's home (this is the back side) right next to the ocean. We were standing next to the pond that has turtles swimming in it! (Tongatapu)

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 Popua is a little town that's surrounded by water. (Tongatapu)

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Loved the sunsets. (Tongatapu)

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There's a place in Tongatapu where they have some really cool blowholes. (A Youtube video for your viewing pleasure.)

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You can tell they really like Jesus... (Tongatapu)

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and blessings (tapuaki). (Tongatapu)

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Ha'apai

We stayed in two fancier places and then our cheapest place on Ha'apai. (It's really hard to get in contact with places to stay in Tonga, and a lot of them were already booked.) Another reason why to start planning your trip in advance. It's a miracle we found places to stay where Carl served, since there were no AirBnbs in that area. The majority of the people there speak English, so that won't be a problem for you.


Sandy Beach

Where we stayed.

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Our view right as we walk outside our door.

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Matafonua

Where we stayed.l

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It was fun but also kinda annoying that we had to walk on the sand. Sandy Beach had cement walkways.

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Some cool pictures in Ha'apai when we explored to try and find the petroglyphs on Matafonua's beach (scroll down on the web page to read more about them).

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Carl wanted to show off his rock.

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Also, there are so many huge spiders in Tonga! It was seriously one of the creepiest things ever. We were walking the dirt road between Sandy Beach and Matafonua and I would look up and see spiderwebs above me with GIANT spiders. It gave me the heebie jeebies. There was a point in our exploring where I refused to go past a spider that was near the path. Buttttttt I eventually ran past the spiderweb and gave a sigh of relief (only to remember I had to go past it to get back). 

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We didn't find the petroglyphs the first time we explored, but had one of the people who lived at Matafonua to show us. ...They were pretty underwhelming.


This was the best one in our opinion. Do you see the bird?

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There's also really small shops in Tonga throughout the streets that sell a bunch of prepackaged food. I was craving some chocolate mint cookies and we went to FIVE different shops before we found them. (Pregnancy cravings can be real consistent, ya know?) This is the glorious shop that had them.

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The worst part is, the cookies weren't even as good as I expected! I was thoroughly disappointed with the taste, and the lack of cookies I got in one package. What a letdown. 

Another shop looks something like this and you speak through the bars.

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When I was on the Tonga Holiday website I saw that there was an option to swim with whales. I thought to myself HECK YES WE DOIN' THAT. So shall it be written, so shall it be done! Except... we started planning our Tonga trip in the end of July and whale swimming tends to be sold out MONTHS in advance. It's a miracle that we found a place that could squeeze us in. 

A tip for anyone who wants to swim with humpback whales: Don't go to Vava'u island. It's overpriced and you're less likely to actually see whales during the peak season. (July to October). Ha'apai is a lot cheaper, less crowded with other whale swimming companies, and more likely to see whales with their babies! Tonga is one of the few places where you can swim with these whales, so if you ever go to Tonga this is a must. It's a little expensive, but when's the next chance you're going to do something like this? Props to Carl for taking all these pictures. I have more pictures of the baby whales, but didn't want to add too many. 

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At the very end of our whale swimming trip, I had one of the coolest experiences! The baby whales are more likely to get close to you than the mama whales. They like to play and show off. As a baby whale came up for air, (we'll just call her 'she') she got really close to all of us. We're supposed to maintain a 5 meter distance away, but I'm pretty sure I was within 10 feet of her. I felt like I was in the prime spot since she was just staring at me with one of her eyes. It was crazy that she was acknowledging that I (and the rest of us) were there. What an ending!

But uh, Carl and I got sunburned really bad. So the next day we did cool compresses and got fresh aloe plant and smothered it all over our burns. It was not a great time. At least Matafonua had these nice hammocks!

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My face was super burned because the sunscreen/salt water kept getting into my eyes (thank you faulty snorkeling mask). I didn't want that to continue throughout swimming with the whales. So it's kinda my fault. My hands and feet got burned since I didn't reapply, as our stuff was underneath one of the boat's seats. Bad excuse, I'm never not putting on sunscreen ever again. 

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Since I was so dehydrated the next day, my sunburn started to swell up and apparently that's a really bad sign if you're pregnant. (I only had limited data and Google to help me.) We ended up going to the hospital in Ha'apai and they put silver cream to put on my hands. They had a really limited supply, and it was only supposed to be used for second degree burns. But since Carl spoke fluent Tongan, and I was pregnant they put it on me anyway. The doctor seemed pretty concerned about me. They told us to go to the hospital on the main island and they'd give us more silver cream to use. We ended up doing just that and at first they weren't going to give us a really small tube, but once again the Tongan hospitality emerged and they did just that! (Neither doctor charged us for the visit either.) It was a blessing that the gave us the silver cream, since Carl's sunburn turned into a second degree burn on his shoulder and back since he didn't wear the wetsuit like I did. He wore a shirt instead, but we were out too long. One of our AirBnb hosts back on Tongatapu gave us sorbelene lotion to put on our burns to keep them moisturized. Bless his soul!

 

This is what one of the chapels looked like where Carl served. I love that they have ceiling fans, since the humidity is no joke!

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Ignore the windshield reflection in the top right. One of the church buildings, and I saw a theme of lots of blue. Why can't our chapels have blue trim?

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We flew back to Tongatapu for the remainder of our trip. The planes were so small and so sketch.

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We were in the front row (awful idea) and we could see the pilots.

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During one of our last days in Tonga, we went to this huge Tongan market. There's a bunch of people that come to sell their goods, and I loved looking at all of the homemade craftsmanship that just screamed Tongan culture. 

I was hoping to get a traditional Tongan dress since Carl and I love to visit the Tongan wards (especially visit when they're doing the Primary program- all the little kids dress up in their tupenus and other Tongan outfits). Carl wears his tupenu to church when we visit, and they all SING SO BEAUTIFULLY. Carl sings like a Tongan. (Those who have seen the Other Side of Heaven 2, I joked how I wanted a Tongan choir to be in the room with me as I gave birth.) Sorry, going off on a tangent on how much I love Tonga and their culture. 

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We bought a hand carved turtle (smaller than the one in the third picture in the middle). The seller carved our Tongan names and the month and year into it. I also got a shirt that says "Ofa Atu Tonga", which means "I love Tonga". Ofu Atu is also a really common saying that Tongans say to each other. It's not as serious as we make it out to be. 

Downstairs they had a huge farmers market and I took some blurry pictures. Tonga has the best fruit ever. (Pretty sure I mentioned that already.) I miss it so much! They have these short and fat bananas that are SO much sweeter, nicknamed "Lady Fingers". Hilarious if you ask me! 

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What it looked like from the outside:

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We went right as it was closing because they use Saturday afternoon to prepare for the Sabbath, which I love. I admire how seriously they take Sunday. 

 

There's also fanga kuli (dogs) on the street everywhere you go. Mostly strays, but many families have puppies or cats. The last 24 hours in Tonga I counted how many fanga kuli I saw. TWO HUNDRED FORTY EIGHT! So many animals in Tonga, it's great.

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Lastly, we were able to go to the temple and do initiatories. We didn't have time to do a session before we had to return our rental car, and apparently we had to make an appointment to do sealings (big bummer since I had brought all these sealing ordinance cards). It was really endearing because the Tongans didn't know how to pronounce the names of my ancestors from the Netherlands, so I told them how to say them. 

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Overall, Tongans are amazing. They love to see palangis (white people/foreigners). They're so gracious and kind to everyone. They're so touched that people would want to come visit them, and they treat you like family. I can't wait to go back there in like five years! It was most definitely a trip of a lifetime. It'll be so different now that we have Carl Jr.

-Goldie Rose

A:

Dear Dwayne,

Yes, thank you!

Dear Josefina,

What media recommendations are you desperate to share with people? 

- Not Josefina

Dear Not Josefina,

Wow! Thank you for asking this question! Here are some things that I think more people should know about. I don't think they're actually unpopular, but I find myself having to explain what these are a lot more often than, say, The Good Place. (Disclaimer: Don't hold me responsible for the content of these shows/songs/games! Some of them contain language, violence, or other things that you may not like in a piece of media. Do your research before consuming these, and especially before showing them to kids.)

1. Umbrella Academy

What it is: This is a Netflix original series based on a comic book series by Gerard Way and Gabriel Bá. Both Way and Bá are executive producers for the show.
 
The premise: "On the same day in 1989, forty-three infants are inexplicably born to random, unconnected women who showed no signs of pregnancy the day before. Seven are adopted by Sir Reginald Hargreeves, a billionaire industrialist, who creates The Umbrella Academy and prepares his “children” to save the world. But not everything went according to plan. In their teenage years, the family fractured and the team disbanded. Now, the six surviving thirty-something members reunite upon the news of Hargreeves’ passing. Luther, Diego, Allison, Klaus, Vanya and Number Five work together to solve a mystery surrounding their father’s death. But the estranged family once again begins to come apart due to their divergent personalities and abilities, not to mention the imminent threat of a global apocalypse" (premise from Deadline.com).
 
Why I like it: This is a really, really fun show to watch. Its premise is wacky, but that's what makes it so unique. Nominally, it's a superhero show, but it spends much more time focusing on the Hargreeves family than on fight scenes (not to say that action sequences aren't part of the deal. They are, and they're pretty entertaining). The show's main theme is family: what it means to be family, family dynamics, and the effects of family on personal lives. The characters are memorable and well developed, and the acting is superb. Also, this scene from the first episode is just way too much fun to ignore.
 
Bonus: Gerard Way, the executive producer of the show, also happens to be the lead singer of American rock band My Chemical Romance. What does this mean for the show? A killer soundtrack.
 

2. The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel

What it is: This is an Amazon Prime original comedy/drama written by Amy Sherman-Palladino, who you might know from her work on Gilmore Girls.
 
The premise: "Miriam "Midge" Maisel, a 1958 New York City woman who has everything she's ever wanted--the perfect husband, two kids, and an elegant Upper West Side apartment perfect for hosting Yom Kippur dinner. But her perfect life suddenly takes an unexpected turn and Midge discovers a previously unknown talent--one that changes her life forever. She charts a course that takes her from her comfortable life on Riverside Drive, through the basket houses and nightclubs of Greenwich Village as she storms the world of stand-up comedy...a course that will ultimately lead her to a spot on Johnny Carson's couch" (premise from Rotten Tomatoes).
 
Why I like it: I was drawn to this show by the promise of colorful, whimsical escapism, and it delivers - but I stayed because it's also interesting and well-executed. Maybe I should have known better for a series coming from Amy Sherman-Palladino, but I didn't expect The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel to be as funny as it is. It's genuinely hilarious at times, including some of the stand-up performances that occur within the world of the show. Its characters, especially the main characters, are strong, relatable, and well-acted. The show is about Midge (the main character) empowering herself, but that doesn't mean that she sheds her background, her personality, her femininity, or her flaws -- she has a great depth of character, which I appreciate. 
 
Bonus: This show is pretty to look at, and the costumes are absolutely gorgeous. Honestly, it's almost worth watching just for Midge's dresses. I mean, look!
 
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3. The Hunchback of Notre Dame - Musical

What it is: This is the musical adaptation of Disney's The Hunchback of Notre Dame! I don't think it's playing anywhere currently, but if you get the chance to see it, please do! Otherwise, check out the cast album.
 
Why I like it: I already raved about this musical in another answer, but I'm doing it again. This musical is so. good. It takes all of the great songs from the animated movie, leaves the weird ones (*cough* a guy like you *cough*), and adds even more beautiful music. Whoever put this together did an excellent job of weaving together musical themes and motifs, and I appreciate it so much. The finale made me cry the first time I heard it.
 
Beyond that, the musical is just a really good story. It addresses things like racism, privilege, corruption, love, and religion without being overbearing about any of them. All of its themes are really applicable to the world today and I swear I find a new lesson in it every time I listen to it. It just keeps on giving! I like to listen on Sundays as I'm getting ready for church. It's like a general conference talk, but way less dull, way longer, way more fun, probably more nuanced, and with way better sing-along potential. Plus, I've found that its messages and lyrics are actually surprisingly compatible with the gospel. 
 
Must-Listen Song: "Someday." Gives me chills every time. It's just a gorgeous song about hope for the future.
 
Bonus: If you listen to the cast album and really want to watch it, it wouldn't be hard for you to find a bootleg (but I'll leave the finding up to you).
 

4. Journey

What it is: I'm literally copying and pasting from the Wikipedia page here: "Journey is an indie adventure game developed by Thatgamecompany and published by Sony Computer Entertainment. It was released for the PlayStation 3 via PlayStation Network in March 2012 and ported to PlayStation 4 in July 2015. It was later ported to Microsoft Windows in June 2019 and iOS in August 2019."
 
The premise: "Journey is a wordless story told through gameplay and visual-only cutscenes. The player's character begins near a small sand dune in a vast desert. Walking to the top of the dune, the character can see looming in the far distance a large, mysterious mountain with a glowing crevice that splits its peak. As the character approaches the mountain, they find the remnants of a once-thriving civilization, eroded by sand over time" (source). The point of the game is to get to that mountain.
 
Why I like it: SO many reasons. First, one of the coolest parts of the game mechanics is that if you are online when you play the game, you occasionally run into other players who are on the same quest you are. But you can't see the other players' usernames or interact with them through text or speech until after the game is over. The only means of communicating is through musical chimes. Sometimes, you see another player and you each do your own thing. Sometimes, players (especially ones who have completed the game before; you can tell based on the character's costume) will help out others or show them things around the world. And sometimes, you find a player and end up partnering with them for the rest of the journey. It makes for some really, really cool experiences and connections.
 
The second thing I love about this game is that it's really short (it takes me about two hours to play through the entire thing) and focused on story and player experience, rather than game mechanics and puzzles. Of course, I wouldn't want all video games to be that way - long, challenging, gameplay-focused video games are an important part of the genre. But it almost seems like when they decided to make the game, the thought process was along the lines of "hey, I have some ideas that I want to express artistically. I think a video game would be the most fitting medium for it."
 
The third thing I love is how visually and sonically gorgeous the whole game is. I swear, every frame could be a painting. And the MUSIC! The music was composed by Austin Wintory, and it's one of my favorite scores I've ever heard. Wintory posted a video on YouTube that's just the soundtrack accompanied by his (textual) commentary on each piece and how/why he wrote it like he did. I highly suggest checking it out.
 
Bonus: If you have trouble focusing with music, like I do, the score to this video game is actually really useful to help me focus. Also, look at these gorgeous shots from the game.
 
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Seriously, go play it now. And watch/listen to everything I recommended above. I'm not kidding about these things being great.
 
Best,
Josefina
A:

Dear Guesthouse, 

Does hard work and perseverance (grit, as described by Angela Duckworth) decrease the achievement gap in education by socioeconomic class like this Atlantic article by Paul Tough suggests? 

My Name Here

 

Dear friend, 

NO! You wanna read what we're finding out from brand new NCES-K data in my capstone class? Lemme give you the run-down. 

For a random sample of 5,766 American 5th graders in a comprehensive study, standardized measurements of math scores and socioeconomic status (SES) were gathered, as well as a self-reported measure of "grit" gathered from 6 variables, taken from Angela Duckworth's Character Lab growth card (validity and reliability of this measurement is established in the codebook, I won't go into it here.) 

Here's the idea. We know there are significant differences in achievement across socioeconomic status. Higher class students do better because of a variety of reasons, including access to resources, parental involvement, school quality (due to residential class segregation), etc. Paul Tough argues that a major reason low-income students don't do well is because they don't have those crucial "non-cognitive skills" that help them push through and do the hard things it takes. 

This isn't a new argument either. Have you ever heard the "they just don't know how to work hard" argument? The one your uncle brings up over Thanksgiving, positing that the American Dream is real and universally accessible if you only want it bad enough and these dang poor people, these dang immigrants just oughtta stop complaining and lift themselves up by their bootstraps? Yeah. It's completely BS, and it means your uncle is still stuck in the 1960s when economic growth wasn't occurring exclusively in the top 80th percentile of income. The system is designed to bolster the rich and keep the poor exactly where they are. 

IN ANY CASE. Tough suggests that low-income kids don't learn those "grit" skills at home, so if we taught them at school, the achievement gap would disappear! I.e., he believes the reason low-income kids have lower math scores, lower reading scores, lower grades, is because they just give up too easy and aren't strong in their character. 

So what we're testing is how grit impacts the relationship between SES and math scores. (Math scores are highly correlated with all other measures of academic achievement, and they were the most easily standardized, so that's what we used.) If we control for grit (i.e., give everyone the same grit score), does the gap in math scores disappear (or at least, go down significantly?) 

In case you didn't get it from the first part of this, the answer is no. Here are the results (with some interpretation):

N = 5,766    |    Multiple imputations to compensate for missing values 

regression model for SES -> Math = 0.413  (p=0.000)

- In other words, a 1 unit increase in SES (remember, it's standardized) is correlated with a 0.413 increase in standardized math scores. This is large! Anything over 0.4 in social sciences is really impressive! Of course, we knew this information already. What we want to do is compare this to the results when controlling for grit.

regression model for SES -> Grit = 0.0591  (p=0.001)

- This one is important because it demonstrates that Paul Tough doesn't know what he's talking about. A one-unit increase in SES is correlated with a 0.0591 increase in grit score. That's exceptionally small, and I have some questions about why upper-class kids might be more willing to put forth self-confident answers. Regardless, it means that the difference in students' "stick-to-it-ness" is really not so different. So, you might anticipate this next answer: 

regression model for SES -> Math, controlling for grit = 0.407 (p=0.000) 

- Oh boy! Who'd've thunk? When controlling for grit scores, the difference in achievement between SES barely budges! For this, a one-unit increase in SES correlates with a 0.407 increase in math score - only about 0.05 less than without controlling for grit. The results are quite large and statistically significant. You should also note that with a 95% confidence interval, it is possible that the difference when accounting for grit might be zero! 

What I think is important to learn from and interpret from this data is that there are real differences out there, and they aren't because low-income people and students are lazy or dumb. There are larger systemic factors at play that cannot be ignored, and you can NOT reduce inequality to personal fallibility. 

Cheers, 

Guesthouse

A:

Dear thank you,

Since I started writing for the Board, I have wanted someone to ask a question that I can make some maps for. There's been a question in our inbox for a while (Board Question #92681) that I could make some maps for, but several other writers already had great answers going for it and I didn't think I was going to get around to it. But then I read this question and I decided to do it. So while I won't be including any maps here, this question was the final push for me to actually answer that other one!

Sincerely, 

Cerulean

P.S. This is an official invitation for questions that involve maps :)

A:

Dear Moana,

Thank you.

Dear Anathema,

Why have you been drawing on the walls at work?

-Reader


Dear Reader,

Wow, what a wonderfully targeted question! 

One of the walls at my work is painted with special whiteboard paint, so it functions like a giant whiteboard. I have, of course, been utilizing this for the most work-centric purpose I could think of: drawing pictures from Disney movies.

It all started around Halloween. My department decided for everyone to dress up as a character from Snow White. We didn't have any decorations for our room, though, and so I decided to use a marker to draw scenes from Snow White on the wall. Per my coworkers' requests, I then later drew Christmas themed things (Rudolph, Frosty, the Grinch) in December. After that, I felt like it was practically obligatory to have some sort of marker art on the wall. And so I decided to draw dragons from How to Train Your Dragon

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These dragons are seriously massive. In order to draw all of them, I had to stand on a cabinet. The highest points are probably close to or over 10 ft.

~Anathema

A:

Dear The Rock,

I did have another question, but I didn't want this question to be overlooked by my Tongan question. 

Dear Goldie Rose,

How did you become a family history-genealogy major? Does Carl Jr have a story behind his name? 

Fun story, those two answers are one in the same. (Also, Carl Jr isn't a junior, I just thought it was funny that Carl Jr sounds so similar to the fast food Carl's Jr.)

It's been almost three years since a very important milestone happened to me. It all started Fall semester in 2016 where I took my first Family History-Genealogy class at BYU.

We had to search through our family tree and I came across this infant who didn't have a first name or a gender. All I knew was the last name Peterson. 

My cousin Chrissy found the gravestone of his birth and death in 1893, along with the child's parents names. She searched diligently, but couldn't find Peterson's first name or gender. We both felt like he was a boy, but had no record of it.

I searched countless microfilm church records in Omaha, Nebraska in hopes of finding a christening record, but no luck. I felt defeated, but Peterson always came to the front of my mind as I did family history each time. I knew that he desperately wanted to be together with his family. There would be random times throughout the week where I would hear a voice pop into my mind pleading, "Don't forget about me!" I vowed that I wouldn't.

The semester came and went with no progress. The next semester I was reminded the census records sometimes show the street where families lived. Unfortunately, the 1890 U.S. census was burned, so I had to rely on the 1900 U.S. census instead. I prayed that the parents hadn't moved in those 7 years after his birth.

I was in luck! I found out where the parents lived, and started to search for churches that were established before 1893 and within a one mile radius of where the Petersons lived. There was one particular Catholic church that fit those two requirements. I emailed them with the information that I had, and patiently waited.

By the time I had given up on the search, I had gotten an email from them when I was in one of my history classes. I read the email explaining that they had found a record of a boy named Carl Jr Peterson, the ancestor that I had been looking for. There was a burst of joy inside my heart, and I wanted to shout it to the world! Unfortunately, due to being in class I was unable to and had to compose myself.

A couple days later, Carl, Chrissy, her husband, and I went to the temple to seal Carl Jr to his parents. The feeling that we had in that room was so indescribable- full of love and happiness. I hadn't felt that much joy since I was sealed to Carl. I felt the Petersons witnessing their son to be sealed to them forever. I couldn't hold back the tears because I could feel the immense joy of this family. I knew that Carl Jr was so thankful for my time and effort.

This experience led me to change my major to family history. Carl Jr Peterson is such a kindred spirit. He left such a big impact on our lives, Carl suggested the name in the car right after we found out we were having a boy. I hadn't even thought of Carl Jr as an option, but it felt like a good way to commemorate my ancestors. I can't wait to meet him in the spirit world. I bet my son had already met him before he came to this world.

And that my friends, is why I changed my major. To bring families together forever and create joy. 

-Goldie Rose