Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Carry the Load - I will be carrying Sgt. Enrique Mondragon

Since I have lost 70 pounds I have started to challenge myself more physically. My Mom just shakes her head on Skype and asks me if I am trying to kill myself. She did again on Mother's Day. I am not. It is just nice to be able to, while still struggling greatly, do things that are hard. Really hard. Like crazy hard for a guy my size. Tough Mudder at 360 pounds 3 years ago was the start, Goruck a couple months back and my next challenge is Carry the Load over Memorial Day weekend.  Watch this video to learn more about Carry the Load.

I get very emotional then it comes to veterans. My Dad is one and I spent 20 years in his home as a military brat. I have seen the sacrifice members of the military make personally in my life.

Memorial Day isn't about hot dogs and hamburgers or a day off of work. It is a day to remember those who have sacrificed all. So with the help of Alex, a friend, I contacted my Texas Representative Patrick Fallon to contact a widow of a fallen soldier from my area. He provided Katie's email and I asked her permission to walk in her husband's name. I quickly got that permission from her. I posted something about this on Facebook and another friend who owns a t-shirt company mentioned that they knew the family and would love to print a memorial t-shirt for me to wear at the event after they got permission to use his image.  I am hoping to meet the family at some point but I want that to come at their comfort and their timing. 

So for me it is a great honor to be walking for Sergent Enrique Mondragon who was killed in action at the age of 23.  23 years old!!!  He was so young and had so much life ahead of him yet he chose to put his needs and wants aside to serve for me and you. I have clipped some things from the internet on Sgt. Mondragon to share his story and take no credit:


Sergent Enrique Mondragon, 23, of The Colony Texas assigned to Headquarters and Headquarters Detachement, 173rd Special Troops Battalion, 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team, Bamber, Germany, died December 24, 2012 in Baraki Barak, Afghanistan, from injuries caused by small-arms fire.

He was born June 20, 1989 in Dallas, Texas. He married Katie Arguea on October 3rd, 2009 in Carrollton. Enrique is survived by his wife, Katie and their 2 year old daughter, Beverly. 

“Anything we said we might do he would make it happen,” said his wife, Katie Mondragon of Little Elm. “We were 17 and he would always say we would have a house by the age of 25. He made it happen at the age of 23.”

Mondragon was born and raised in Dallas, where he attended Hillcrest High School. In 2007, he graduated from The Colony High School, which he attended his junior and senior years.
He met Katie Argueta, a Little Elm High School graduate, while they were both working at J.C. Penney.

Mondragon worked at several jobs after J.C. Penney and attended a trade school, where he studied computer-aided design.

“He tried, but he just couldn’t afford it — that was the main reason he joined the Army,” his wife said.

He went to basic training in March 2009. The couple married in October 2009.

Mondragon — Rick to his civilian friends and Dragon to his Army buddies — loved serving in the military, his wife said. He hoped to find related work — possibly with Immigration and Customs Enforcement — after completing his Army service.

“He was a big dreamer and a very motivated person,” Katie Mondragon said. “He loved his family a lot. He just wanted the best for my daughter and me — that’s why he did what he did.”

Mondragon was a military police officer assigned to Headquarters and Headquarters Detachment, 173rd Special Troops Battalion, 173rd Airborne Combat Team based in Bamberg, Germany.


My personal hope is that I will honor Sergent Mondragon by walking about 40 miles with 40 pounds on my back as I "carry him". He is definitely worthy of the honor.  

Monday, May 11, 2015

A long night. Scout leaders vs Scout mentors vs Scout parents

A few nights ago was a long night. 1 AM to be exact. I haven't been up that late in years when I have not had nothing specific to do. I hope this all makes sense. I am still dragging.

I spent the night mostly rereading some Scout stuff written by LDS Church members. My thoughts have been on Scouting for about 10 days since the day I received my 3rd Eagle Mentor pin from one of my Scouts. A huge honor for me. I wonder exactly why I received it because I am not so sure what exactly I did to get it. There isn't a set of requirements--the Eagle Scout gets to decide who gets it and why they get it. My goal isn't to earn these pins (nor will it ever be) but to create a relationship with a Scout to where they will listen to me and hopefully take counsel and advice from me. And hopefully my advice is good.  I served as a Varsity Coach for 6 years leading and trying to help the Scouts lead themselves. I think I have come to the conclusion that my time as a Scout leader might not have been the best use of my time in Scouting. So with that conclusion and the belief that being a Scout leader and a Scout mentor are totally different things, I wish I had learned to be a Scout mentor earlier. From an LDS article called Tenderfeet-Eagles-Missionaries from the 1978 New Era:

He handed me a letter that he had received from William Jones, a deacons adviser who had served during the time the boys were in Scouting. The special ingredient is described therein. The letter reads:
“Dear Brother Craig:
“As I prepare to leave Utah, I feel it appropriate to express my feelings and impressions of Troop 194, both as a deacons quorum adviser and as a worker on the troop committee.
“You know of my deep respect for you as a man, but I need to expand this to include your unique role as Scoutmaster. The activities have often taxed your time to the limit, but time was still found to meet the sincere needs of both Scouts and parents, even a ‘confused committeeman’ on occasion. Many felt that after your son became an Eagle Scout your enthusiasm would die. On the contrary, each boy in Troop 194 has, in turn, become a son to you and achieved the Eagle rank. I know personally of the great love each boy has for you.
“As a deacons adviser I owe you much for assisting me in making the priesthood such an integral part of each boy’s life. In no other place is cooperation more important, and I personally feel that in no other area is it more present than in our ward. Because you were with us on Sundays and you allowed me to play an active role in Mutual and on campouts, every boy became our concern and gave the program a true completeness.
“I was privileged to work with a choice group of men, but my greatest joy came from the obvious source—the individual boy. I shall never forget my first outing with the boys to Silver Lake. I was critical and tried to oversee 20 active Scouts. I failed, of course, but by the second go-round things began to focus and I watched the patrol leaders function. I saw characteristics in boys then that will someday make them fine men and our future leaders. Clean speech, honesty, and other principles that were taught in priesthood lessons came alive as I watched our boys.
“Troop 194 has no perfect boy. We have had and will continue to have loud, fidgety, curious, active creatures called boys to love, appreciate, train, and say good-bye to as they head into future challenges, better prepared for having been a boy in our ward.”

I have spend the past 4 weeks meeting with a Life Scout about his Eagle Project, talking to another about his project, trying to get another Scout who has his project complete but not his last two merit badges to complete them, meeting with a parent and a Scout on where they are at/how we can get them to where they need to be and just trying to be that "non-parent" voice to some Scouts reminding them that they are so close. Sometimes Scouts are more willing to listen to advice from someone who isn't a parent.  BUT PARENTS ARE ALWAYS, ALWAYS, ALWAYS THE KEY TO A SCOUTS SUCCESS!!!  No Scout leader can replace a good or bad parent when it comes to Scouting (I know personally in my family). I have encouraged parents to be a squeaky wheel to their son's Scout leaders because Scout leaders sometimes don't know what the Scout (or parents) need to be successful. Don't fool yourself if you are a Scout parent and you don't know the program -- it is more important to know your Scout! You get a Scout pin no matter what because of how important you are to the success of the Scout. Everyone else doesn't get a pin on purpose.

It is only through good Scout Mentors and better parents who see the purpose of the Scouting program to make their sons better men will we get those better men!!  I heard an interesting quote at an Eagle Board of Review this week from one of my past Bishop who I love: "Mom Eagles make Mom missionaries. They can't learn to do hard things on their missions." Amen. AMEN!

So parents don't be scared to ask 5,000 questions. I have answered phone calls from one mom in the area 8 times a day when she called but I would rather answer their questions than them do something that they don't know if it is right.

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Goruck in Pictures

Before the pain. The young lady to my right told me humbly she had the month before broken the US Female record for 100 miles race. She ran it in 14.5 hours -- that is a 14.5 minute miles average. CRAZY!!

Hold heavy crap over your head.

Push up position.

Belly crawl.

Me belly crawling.

Bear crawl.

Why I'm NOT an Eagle

What a great article by Jason F. Wright on why he isn't an Eagle Scout

I think some of the best leaders are those who don't earn Eagle because they regret their decision and want Scouts to not make the same choice they did.

Friday, April 17, 2015

Why Scouters are so great!!

Evenspor shared this story with me:

Last night's pinewood derby was run differently from any I have seen before. Our Cubmaster ran only two cars at a time, and he set it up so that everyone would have a chance to race everyone else once (there were 14 cars). Run this way, it didn't take long for it to be obvious which were the fastest cars, and which were the slowest.
In fact, it was quickly obvious that one little guy's car was much slower than all the others. As it lost every race, his little scout face fell more and more.
Now it just happened that his dad and my husband had been asked to be the line judges, and they were talking, and after it had run several races, they took the car and looked at it and did something to it. Finally, the car won a race. That was its second to last race.
Its final race was against the gold car that has completely demolished everyone else. And.. the race was so close they had to run it again. And a third time.
Now, I know that fast pinewood derby cars will wear down after a number of races and eventually become not-so-fast pinewood derby cars, but this seemed a bit extreme to be explained but just that. How did the slowest car suddenly become as fast as the fastest car?
So I asked my husband after, "What did you guys do to it?"

He said, "We added graphite." This inexperienced dad had not known about adding graphite to the wheels, and somehow at check-in (where there were several graphite tubes on the table, for that last minute little bit extra), no one had mentioned it to him. What a difference that one little piece of information made.

This is why Scouters are so stinking great!!

Saturday, March 28, 2015

My Goruck Experience

Goruck is a military style event similar to Special Forces training.  It is a small glimpse into what Special Operators go through to prepare to defend our country.  I learned about Goruck after following Brian's Backpacking Blog.  Brian is the kind of guy I would be friends with if he lived next door.  I chose the Goruck Light version that was a 5-7 hour event--I didn't want to die too bad.   Here is a Youtube video of another class.

3 years ago I decided to do one of these events but wasn't quick to do the hard work required to prepare.  About 8 months ago while dealing with a trial I started training hard and to date have lost 66 pounds.  I am still out of shape and Goruck taught me that but I will get into that.

We arrive and were quickly oriented on first aid, how we work together (similar a Scout patrol) and the importance of working as a team in all the things we do.

We did all of the following with a 25 pound backpack.  Only my backpack was 45 pounds.  I carried extra weight.  You carry bricks in your backpack.  I have shared with some of you a letter I attached to my bricks.  Carrying these bricks was a bit emotional for me and I am glad to be done.  I no longer have to carry the mental and emotional weight attached to my bricks.  

We hiked to the first park and here is where I received my first reality check.  My sister in law was shadowing us for a little bit and I am sure she got some great pictures of me with the expression "You want me to do what????"  We started by doing 8 exercises which included: the bear crawl, pushups, low crawls (one of my least favorite exercises--pulling yourself across the ground with your butt and your head down), squats, flutter kicks, lunges and reverse lunges.  I did horribly.  It was embarrassing with my sister in law taking pictures of me just struggling.  I took my medicine though and just did the best I could. 

We traveled to park two and in the process got separated by a very busy street and traffic.  Because we got separated we learned the 8 point push up which is a push up with burpee blended in.  I think this exercise can be described as pure hell.  My class learned quickly to never to get separated again.

We refueled and filled out water bladders at a local gas station in downtown Dallas.

This shirt was made by a friend for me and fits me to a "t".  I love this quote because it is so true!!
We then traveled to another park on the Trinity River.  Normally they make classes get into the river and do water exercises but we did not and I could be more grateful to not have had to climb into that nasty river.  When we hiked to the Trinity we climbed up a wall to get onto the bridge.  I did better on this than I thought and needed almost no help.  We were then told we had 20 minutes to hike to the end of the bridge and then back.  Previous in the day we had a lady almost pass out and another guy pull a muscle so I was concerned we would not make it as we were told there would be a punishment if we did not.  We got to the end of the bridge in about 7 minutes and the Cadre (a title of a military trainer) then had us remove a shoe and hike the other half mile back.  We completed it in 15 minutes.  We then were instructed that 8 of our group of 37 were injured and we needed to carry them back to our starting point of our event.  We hiked the 3-4 miles back to our starting point with some carrying others rucks (backpacks) and 3 people alternating between carrying and being the injured person.  That took us forever.  It was painful to say the least.

Everywhere we went in downtown Dallas we go stares.  We had a Texas and American flag at the front of our group always and we were constantly running with our heavy backpacks.  It was crazy.  

We completed our course 90 minutes early--in 5 hours.  I was a bit scared by that as I have heard stories of false ends.  They tell you you are done, get you to relax and then slap you with more to do.  I knew until I got my patch in my hand, I wasn't done.  We did though over 10 miles of rucking.  I am pretty sure we did closer to 12.

I got my patch.  Am proud of it.  Will wear it often.  

My feet hurt, I am pretty sure my shoulders are bruised, I am sunburned and I am extremely tired but glad I did it.  I would do another one but I would train a bit differently.

So what did I learn from this 3 year experience?
  • I have a lot more friends than I thought.  They are constantly cheering me.  I hope in return I am cheering them.  Having this kind of support has been very humbling and my parents have constantly mention often on how grateful they are that I have such good friend.
  • I can do hard things.  I preached it to my Scouts and today I lived it.  There were parts where I questioned why I was out there torturing my body.  Either way I lived up one of Goruck's tag lines -- DFW - Don't freaking quit.
  • Team before self.  You could replace word "team" with God, family or friends.  Serving others is huge!
  • I learned by watch others who were given the opportunity to lead during the day that screaming isn't a good leadership skill.  Yes it was loud downtown but constantly yelling at those we lead doesn't work.  In fact for me, it was just the opposite.  I wanted to ignore one of my classmates.
  • I still have a lot of work to do physically.  After being overweight for most of my life and being really overweight for the past 20 years due to using eating as a crutch, I am done being fat.  It is exhausting.  Doesn't mean I won't enjoy a Code Red every once in a while but it means I am finally committed do make much better choices in my life in relationship to how I deal with stress, what I eat and the amount of exercise I will be doing.   I have 60 more pounds to go and I can do it!
  • I am proud of myself.  About 8 months ago I didn't think this was possible.  Today it is.  I wasn't the fastest or the best but I tried my hardest and I finished and earned my patch.  I am beginning to love myself for the very first time.
I can endure more than I think.
I can suffer more than I think.
I can do more than I think.
I have freakin' ridiculous friends.  What else could a guy want?

Class 675
More pictures to follow........

It has been a long day.  I am going to bed!!

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Interesting Turn of Events

In June 2014, I was released as my Ward Varsity Coach.  It was a tough.  I went camping with my Scouts this past weekend and I realize how much I miss them.  I want back in!  Bishopric says no.  I still work in district advancement.  I am now my ward's Executive Secretary.

5 months ago I started with a trial that is the size of a whale.  No need to go into detail other than the support system that has surrounded my kids and I.  I have had friends come out of the woodwork including my own family surround and support most importantly my kids.  I have had some really good days and some really bad days where I just wanted to just go to sleep and not wake up for a few days.  Two friends especially (and their wonderful families) have been ridiculously inclusive including Christmas and New Years.

Due to this trial I have spent more time on my knees, in the scriptures, talking with family and friends and per my Bishop's instruction serving those around me so I can forget myself.

Today I feel like I have so many opportunities in life.  Today I feel like I can overcome anything.  Today I finally feel like I will finally be happy soon.  Today I am extremely happy I have such good friends.  

I will still have trials but it will be OK.

Friday, May 30, 2014

Best Foil Dinner a Scout Could Eat

Let me first start by saying my Scout Son will eat anything but this is one of his favorites when there is a fire.  It is my version of a foil dinner, hobo dinner, etc.  Instead of using raw chicken or beef I use pre-cooked meatballs and he loves it!  This meal costs a bit more than I would normally like to spend on a Scout meal but the meal goes a long ways and could depending on the size of your Scouts and their ability to share feed two.

Here are all of our ingredients.  Cost was about $15 but $11 of that was the meatballs and I can feed my family the rest of them while my son is away.

Cut the veggies up small enough to cook easily.  I used the whole pototo and whole white onion.  Used baby carrots because while expensive compared to regular carrots, they are quick and easy.

Cover it with the cream of mushroom, add a bit of water and/or butter (I didn't use any this time but it is a great way to make sure it doesn't stick to the tin foil) and then add the meatballs.  

Special Texas touch, add some BBQ sauce that you have on hand.  I used Rudy's Sissy Sauce.  

Wrap that thing like it is a new born baby.  Cook and enjoy!

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Advice from a Navy Seal - Admiral William H. McRaven

Here is some advice from a Navy Seal:
  1. Make your bed each morning.  If you can't do the little things right, you might not be able to do the big things right.
  2. Find someone to help you paddle through life.
  3. Measure a person by the size of their heart, not their flippers.
  4. Get over being a sugar cookie and keep moving!
  5. You will likely fail; you will likely fail often.  Don't be afraid of the circus.
  6. Sometimes you have to go head first.
  7. Punch a shark in the snout.  Don't back down from a shark.
  8. You must be your very best at the darkest moments.
  9. Start singing when you are up to your neck in mud.
  10. Never, EVER EVER ring that bell!!

This is powerful message especially to our Scouts.