Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Othello: Shorty


I was born in Othello, Washington, and we lived there until I was in the first grade, six years old. 
A memorable character from Othello Washington was Shorty.  He was called Shorty, because he had no legs.  He would transport himself by using his arms, pushing his body up and then swinging forward.  In this manner he could travel fairly quickly.  I have a faint memory that he also sometimes used a creeper to get around.  I asked Mom about this and she said only when he worked on cars, which is what everyone uses a creeper for.  I do not ever remember seeing him in a wheel chair.  Nor do I ever remember him begging or asking for a hand out.  Things seemed to be different in those days.  He worked.  I know my father employed him on the farm.  My Mom says he worked as a mechanic.  He would even climb up on top of the engine to do his work.  It was always a special treat to see Shorty in town when we might be that way with my mother.  We would say, “There goes Shorty” or something to that effect. Mom couldn't remember Shorty's last name, or his true given name.  Nor did she have any idea as to how he lost his legs.  He was just Shorty, and he was a citizen of Othello, a community of 2000 at the time we lived there.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Wendy Wardle Thomas

Earlier this year, Neil Frank, a friend of mine from growing up, posted on Facebook that Wendy Wardle Thomas had passed away.  I knew she had been in poor health, but thought she was getting better.

Wendy moved into Hyrum when we were in junior high school.   Her parents had moved to town to mange the Sambo’s Restaurant that had just opened in Logan.  We shared the same last name, which was very unusual, but our families did not know each other before they moved in.  They were Vernal Wardles, and we were Idaho Wardles.  If you looked back far enough, there probably was a connection, but not in our recent genealogies.

The Wardles lived in our ward for a few years, and Wendy's father played the organ.  My mom, a fellow organ play, use to comment on how well he could play the pedals.

The most memorable time we had with them was a triple date (sort of as we weren't yet 16) to Lagoon.  It turned out that James Salvesen, who went with us, paired up with Wendy.  My brother paired up with Wendy's sister, Tina.  I was paired with a friend of their's from the Vernal area.  I wasn't very impressed with her.  We did have fun on the rides, but before the end of the night, I sort of gave up on the rides because I didn't want to sit by her anymore.  I wasn't very sensitive in those days.

Most of my older siblings worked for her father at Sambo's.  (The restaurant where Sambo's was, is now Angie's in Logan.) 

Wendy went through most of high school at Sky View with us.  However she and her family moved back to Vernal before she graduated.

When we moved to the Basin some years later, and I was involved in drama in Vernal, I became reacquainted with she and her husband, Thomas Thomas.  They were in some of the early Outlaw Trail Festival play, "Star of Justice."  Wendy's character, and her egg money were the victims of A Butch Cassidy and Elza Lay bank robbery.  I held the horses for them.  Her father portrayed a man that was the victim of a shooting which was the plot of the play, and then her husband portrayed a worker who had a tooth ache.  They were fun times.

We took a scene from the musical to the state fair.  It was a dance with a fight in the end.  The staging was different and more crowded.  There was a part when everything turned to chaos.  Wendy would be on the ground. Somehow in the crowded conditions I fell on her face, and broke her nose.  Gives a new meaning to "Break a leg."  I don't think she faulted me.  Her nose would break easily because of past injuries, she said.

We moved shortly after that, and only more recently had re-met via Facebook.  However she is gone now.  Another friend gone too early

Lessons from my children: Billy Boy; A Time to Grieve

Dads are supposed to teach their kids, but in my case the experience has been reversed. Of course I have shown my children how to hold a baseball bat, or how to throw a Frisbee, but the important lessons, I have been the student.

My wife, Sheri, and I are the parents of eight children, five boys and three girls. Our first baby boy was stillborn. In our elderly years we have been the foster parents to about 30 children. One of our foster children we have adopted; three-year old Tony.

And so what are these life lessons my children have taught me. To explore that, I need to go slowly, and talk about each child

Billy Boy

Billy Boy is the name we gave to our stillborn baby. He was our firstborn, but actually our second pregnancy as a miscarriage had preceded him. We were always going to name our first born, after my wife’s brother, Mark, who died when he was young. However we didn’t want to waste that name, and so in our haste to change the baby’s name it came out Billy Boy. The hospital had already given him the name, Baby Boy Wardle, so we just changed it slightly. Sheri and I wanted to be parents so much it hurt. We had moved from Utah to faraway Nevada to start our family. We lived in rural Duckwater. (Duckwater really was rural. It was 70 miles to the nearest grocery store over good roads. If you wanted to go over dirt roads there was a grocery store only 50 miles away. We generally shopped in Ely, 70 miles, and that is also where medical care was found.

>We were very excited for a baby to come to our family. When Sheri was eight months along in her pregnancy, I picked her up after her regular medical appointment. She was all upset and had been crying. She reported that we needed to go to Salt Lake City because they feared the baby had died. They could not find the baby’s heart beat when they attached a monitor to see how the baby was doing. They did not have ultrasound equipment in Ely, Nevada at that time, so we were referred to the University of Utah Hospital for an appointment and evaluation the next day.

I remember, before we went home to Duckwater, I took several pictures of Sheri. I wanted to get a roll of film developed and there were pictures left on the end of the film. I guess I was in denial that anything could really be wrong. We then drove to Duckwater in silence. Sheri had already accepted that the baby had died. She had noticed that the baby had stopped moving inside her, and the report from the doctor in Ely only confirmed this. I had no such belief, and was not ready to accept any such outcome

The next day, after packing, we traveled to Salt Lake and the hospital, Leaving Duckwater by five in the morning. I remember the trip was somber. I made several attempts at levity, which seemed to falter and fall flat, like something in your stomach that doesn’t want to digest. We arrived in Salt Lake late morning, and went directly to the hospital. Initially they tried to find a heart beat by monitor, and when that was not successful we were referred for an ultrasound. After a couple hour wait we were with the ultrasonographer and he was using KY Jelly to help with the review of the baby’s systems. It was at this time that Sheri’s belief was confirmed, and my denial was proven to be false. They could not find any activity on the part of the baby. They looked at the baby’s heart, and it was not beating.

We were advised get a hotel room and then return the next morning when they would start Sheri’s labor and deliver the baby. We had dinner, and Sheri started to have contractions, but not very regular. We went from there to get a hotel room, and Sheri couldn’t sleep because of the pain. We called the Dr. and I returned to pick up some sleep medication for her. Turns out the hotel was mostly a waste of money. (I seem to think about money a lot.) Sheri had a bath, but then couldn’t get to sleep. She had gone into labor of her own self while we were having dinner. Initially the pains were not very alarming. By the time she got out of the tub her labor was very active. We returned to the hospital about 10:30 that night, after not getting any rest.

After returning to the hospital, the baby came quickly. I was to coach and help Sheri. Sheri at one time became frustrated with me, and socked me. Sheri did not get an epidural. They didn’t have time to get the anesthesiologist and she just had local pain medication in her IV. When the baby came they did a major episiotomy, and Sheri also tore considerably. The baby was born just after midnight on Sunday morning, December 9, 1984, within two hours of the time we returned to the hospital.

They figured the baby had been dead for about a week. The only thing we heard from the autopsy report was that his heart was enlarged. This meant he had been under stress for some time. We never were given an explanation as to why the baby was under stress.

Even so, when the baby was born, I wanted, beyond hope for some miracle to take place. I waited for the Dr. to pound him on the chest and bring him back to life. He never pounded. The baby was dead.

They moved Sheri to a regular inpatient unit rather than to a maternity ward. I think I would have preferred the maternity ward, but Sheri asked the hospital staff to put her someplace where she wouldn’t be around people with live babies, as that would have been hard to deal with.

I went to the room with Sheri. My first after-birth task was to massage Sheri’s belly, which was suppose to help her uterus contract and return to its normal size. As the morning dawned, I was given another task, to call family and let them know we were in Utah (my family lived in Northern Utah and Sheri’s in Eastern Utah,) and also to inform them of our loss. I didn’t much like this a chore. However it was within just a few hours that people started showing up to wish us well. For my side of the family, a loss of any kind, other than grandparents, was something new.

As for Billy Boy, the hospital staff tried to remove his birth covering and clean him up, however in doing so his skin peeled. Consequently they stopped and he was left with what looked like a red rash where they had cleaned him up. We have one picture of him, and you can see his red rash.

I held him. He was very tiny. He weighed just less then five pounds. Sheri did not hold him, and she has expressed regret at this since.

My older brother’s father-in-law, Bishop Garbett came to the hospital.He was a former bishop and we consulted with him about the proper way to proceed with a stillborn in terms of church blessings. We decided there was no reason we shouldn’t give him a name and a blessing, so we did. My brothers assisted me. They brought the body to the room and I gave him a name. I don’t remember much of the blessing, but it was very short.

We did not take the body home for burial. The hospital staff said they would conduct an autopsy, and then dispose of the body for us.

That is the story of Billy Boy. From this experience, I learned there is a time to grieve. The grieving process was not just a one-day thing, but took place over several weeks, even months. How do you grieve for a baby you never cuddled and held? It wasn’t hard. The baby was real to us, and we had made plans to make him part of our lives. Sheri’s grieving was intense, because she had felt every kick and movement while the baby was inside her body. I had felt kicks, but only when Sheri shared them with me.

We went to spend a week with Sheri’s family for bereavement. It was a comfortable week for me. Not so much so for Sheri. They had given her what would be an inflatable tube for her to sit on to aid in her heeling process. We spent most of our time in the living room while Sheri tried her best to get comfortable.

We returned to Duckwater after at week of grieving leave. I worked for the Duckwater Shoshone Tribe, and while we were gone an elderly tribal member had passed away. I am not sure why, but where this gentleman had been a member of the Church, it fell upon me to talk at his funeral. Preparing that talk, and remembering the eternal nature of life and family, helped me along my grieving process. The funeral was attended by the entire reservation of almost 200 people. I had received delivery of two large turkeys from BYU Community Outreach, which I brought back with me for a tribal dinner for the Holidays. We used these for a tribal feast to honor our newly departed elder. I felt I was handling everything OK.

Sheri did not grieve for some time. In fact she really didn’t grieve until a couple years later. My niece had a stillborn baby boy, Skyler, for whom they had a funeral. Sheri finally was able to grieve at that funeral, and let out her feelings about Billy Boy. In the mean time we had a new baby girl.

It’s funny about grieving. It is not a one-time process and then you’re done with it. Grief is less intense over time, but it is something that comes back. I wrote in my journal about having a bitter day a month after losing Billy Boy. Bitterness is evil and to be avoided. It can blacken your soul. I avoided bitterness by leaving things to the Lord and accepting that all will work together for our good. (See D&C 122:7) There is peace in that thought, and peace replaces bitterness.

A couple years later I wrote in my journal:"When Billy Boy died I remember asking myself inside for a long time, 'Why? Why? Why?' The question went away, but I’m not sure if I ever really answered it for myself. I do know when Tali was born and I saw how beautiful she is, the hurt seemed to fade—although for a time it was more piercing as I realized what we had missed. God, I know, has blessed me greatly, but it was after the tribulations and trials that allowed him to pour our more abundant blessings and make Tali so beautiful."

My trials have not been near so hard as others--As Job who lost everything, but was then able to see God. Or as the pioneers who lost so many children. (In uncovering an old burial site archeologist discovered four times as many infants as adults. In my own family there are stories of numerous children dying on the trek.) But these families overcame and built a city and temple with God’s help.

I know I can expect more trials, likely of a different nature. I have further to go to be in control of myself, and my own destiny. It is through trials I can prove to myself that I have made gains towards becoming more like Heavenly Father and Jesus—more perfect.

Sheri, for her part, fought depression. I realize now I wasn’t there enough for her. I wasn’t open to her talking about her loss and her issues. I just wanted to go on. A coworker suggested that perhaps we needed counseling to help deal with the loss. This seemed foreign to me.

23 years later, I still have days when I miss Billy Boy, or where he is acutely in my thoughts. At every funeral I attend he seems to be there. A few years ago we traveled to Arizona, to bury the nephew of my wife who had been struck by a car and killed while bicycling home from high school. That was a funeral with a significant amount of grieving. Seeing Sheri’s brother, wife and family, and their grief was painful. I started to write a poem I couldn’t finish:

One thing I would never wish to be
Is the guest of honor at a funerary

Parents should grow old, and their children should bury them, who are buried by their children and so on. Everything should be done in a proper order, but things don’t work that way. I remember the words of the poem The Weaver:

The Weaver(author unknown)

My life is but a weaving,
between my Lord and me,
I do not choose the colors;
He knows what they should be.

Ofttimes he weaveth sorrow,
and I in foolish pride
Forget He sees the upper,
and I the underside.

Not till the loom is silent,
and the shuttles cease to fly,
Will God unroll the canvas,
and explain the reasons why

The dark threads are as needful
in the skillful weaver's hand
As threads of gold and silver
in the pattern He has planned.

I am grateful for Billy Boy, and his short time in our lives. I still look forward to the day when I will be able to parent him and hold him in my arms. In the meantime, I feel his presence, and his loving concern for Sheri and I, and our family.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

missionary stories


The first part of my mission was a time of purification.  Most of my life I believed in God, Jesus Christ and in the church.  I believed Joseph Smith was a prophet of God.
            But I wanted something more.  I wanted an experience akin to Joseph Smith’s vision.  Not to see God and Jesus; but to have an impressive, deep fire experience with the Holy Ghost.
            It is only after the trial of our faith that one has that kind of an experience.  This is the story of my trial. 
The day I entered the Language Training Mission (now the Missionary Training Center) I and all the other new hundreds of missionaries, with our families, were shown a new video the church had produced: “The First Vision.”  Afterwards there was a spontaneous testimony meeting as the question was put to the crowd, what did you think of the movie, and how did it make you feel?
            As I listened to the other testimonies, I was convinced that I was lacking.  My testimony was inferior to those of the people around me.  People were standing and telling of the burning experience they had as they watched the video.  Although I believed it was a true story, I had no such experience.  I had a testimony, but a small one.   Combining that with my shyness, I didn’t say a word at the orientation.
That day we were put into companionships, and into a district.  We were placed at Knight Mangum Hall.  (I think we were probably the last group of elders to go to Knight Mangum Hall as the LTM was expanding.  We would move to the regular LTM about two weeks before finishing our two-month course.)  I was placed with a group of very strong elders, who all seemed to have very strong testimonies.
Among them was Elder Tsuneishi.  He was an older Elder, of Japanese descent.  He had converted to the church a couple years before his mission.  He was headed to Ecuador with his companion.  He was a very serious Elder, with a very deep love for Jesus.  This love showed in the things that he did, and the way in which he did things. 
I was teamed with Elder Sedgewick.  He and I were both headed to Argentina; the only two Elders in our district going to Argentina.  However there was another district in which everyone but two were going to Argentina. 
Elder Sedgewick was called to be our district leader.  I guess that made me, by default, the assistant district leader.  (I don’t think it was an actual call, but those rare instances when Elder Sedgewick was away to a meeting, I would call on somebody to say prayers.)  Elder Sedgewick and I had a good time.  We both liked to sing, and he taught me a few songs.  He also was a whistler.  I had never been able to learn the secret for whistling, but during that two months I mastered this, and can whistle just about anything.  (I especially like to whistle bird-like sounds.)
I remember a song we made up when we were moved from Knight Mangum to the LTM.  We sang it to the tune of ”Oh Babylon.”  “Oh Knight Mangum, Oh Knight Mangum we bid thee farewell.  We’re going to the prison on the hill to dwell.”
Not a very positive song, but it did express somewhat the way we felt in making the move.  The LTM was new, and stark, and had no character.  It was an institution in every sense of the word.  Knight Mangum had a different feel to it.  The Young Ambassadors rehearsed there.  It had a smaller cafeteria.  At the LTM there were thousands of missionaries.  At Knight Mangum there were only a few hundred of us.
Getting back to my original theme, I had a testimony, just not a very strong one.  I wrote home that I knew Joseph Smith was a prophet.  But as I said, I always wanted something more, some kind of a sure testimony, like a burning bush, or a light, or a vision like Joseph had.  However visions aren’t for everybody.
President George Pace was our branch president.  He was a religion instructor at BYU.  Every week he welcomed a new group of missionaries to his branch.  He then had eight weeks to share a series of firesides with them.  Sometimes he would combine the districts, but not usually.
The inspiration he provided was incredible.  It made me want to do everything I could to purify myself to be worthy to be a missionary.  Before going on a mission, I had gone through a repentance process for misdeeds I had done.  But with the increased motivation, my internal search went deeper.
A few months before my mission, during bad weather, I had been driving our old pickup.  I slid on the ice and ran into the fence of an elderly gentleman in our ward.  I left that day with a promise that I would come back and help repair the fence.  One thing had flowed into another, and I never did get back to that fence.  I wrote to him asking for forgiveness.  He wrote back and said he was disappointed in me, but should consider myself forgiven and go about the Lord’s work. 
There were numerous other sins, I confessed to in letters; and sought forgiveness for in prayer.  I was becoming a new person.  This process would extend into the time I was actually in the mission field, when I would remember some sin I had overlooked and would go through a repentance process.  I hope I got them all.
President Pace was a great teacher.  One time he shared a parable with us, which let us know of our dependence on Jesus, and the atonement:

   A college student was offered $1,000,000 if he could walk and run a certain distance during the course of a day, leaving at sunrise and arriving before sunset.  This man wanted the money, and knew that he was physically fit enough to make it.  He had a mountain to go over, and then had to go through a swamp to get to the place where he would earn the money.
   In the early going he climbed the mountain and thought to himself that it would be easy to make it as he was extremely fit and strong.  He was also very intelligent and a good problem solver.  However he noticed that by the time he got to the top of the mountain, the sun was lower than he would have liked it to be.  He knew he would still make it, however he would have to quicken his pace.  So he ran down the other side of the mountain, knowing he would make it in time.
   But the sun still seemed to be ahead of him.  He began to run faster.  He knew he could make it.  He was strong and in good shape. 
   After running down the mountain he came to the lowland and swampy area.  He had to hurry, but he could make it.  He felt very strong.
   In his hurry, he was not really watching where he was going.  He stepped onto some mushy ground, and the minute he did he realized he had stepped into some quicksand.  But it was too late.  He quickly sunk to his waste.
   He was no longer focused on getting a million dollars.  That was an ancient goal.  Now he was focused on extracting himself from the filth he was in, and saving his own life.  After reviewing his situation, he figured he could quickly get out of the mucky quicksand with the use of his exceeding strength.  So he started to churn his legs, faster and faster.  But as he tried he only sunk deeper and deeper. 
   He finally stopped, and realized that this was the first time his physical strength had failed him.  He would have to rely on his intelligence.
   He looked around, and noticed a limb from a tree that extended over the pond of quicksand.  The limb was connected to a trunk, which was firmly planted on solid ground.  He realized all he had to do was grab the limb, climb up on top of it, and then shimmy down to the trunk and from there to solid ground.
   He was able to grab a hold of the limb, and began to pull himself out of the quicksand.  He was making it, getting higher and higher.  But the limb began to crack from his weight, and his heart fell as the limb broke, and he found himself again in the quicksand, deeper than before because of the momentum of his fall.
   He was totally broken, and saw no way to cling to life.  He continued to sink into the quicksand, up to his chest, his chin, his mouth, and then about ready to cover his nose.  He didn’t want to die.  He tilted his head back clinging to every last breath.
   He watched a hand extend out of heaven, reaching down to him.   He didn’t stop to think of how illogical     that hand being there was.  He simply grabbed the hand and held on as best he could. 
   He started to climb out, getting higher and higher, but the hand was unfamiliar, and his hand was slippery with muck.  He began to slip.  He clang on for dear life, but couldn’t, and fell back into the quicksand. 
   He quickly looked up for the hand again and it was still there.  He grabbed again, and again he failed.  He tried again, and again until finally he was able to hold fast and reach the safe ground.
(From a talk by President George Pace 12/19/1976.) 

            This story was given in response to the words of King Benjamin:

For the natural man is an enemy to God, and has been from the fall of Adam, and will be, forever and ever, unless he yields to the enticings of the Holy Spirit, and putteth off the natural man, and becometh a saint through the atonement of Christ the Lord…  (Mosiah 3:19)

The message of the story, struck home to me.  I had always been one who would use, not so much my physical prowess, but my intellectual capacity, to figure things out.  I was not one who often put his trust in the arm of the Lord.  President Pace also said, “Man can stand as a man, but if he wants to stand as a God there must be a redemption.”
The man in the story represents the natural, proud man of the world.  I had been full of self-admiration, or at least the pride that I was sufficient unto myself.  I had the capacity to figure things out.  And like the man in the story, I had fallen into my own personal muck of quicksand.  The first instinct is to rely on our own resources.  But this, like Paul discovered, is just kicking against the pricks. (Acts 26:14)
My next instinct, much like the young man in the story, was to rely on the learning of the world.  However, the learning of the world will not sustain us, as the limb did not sustain the central character in the story.  As the learning of men fails, fortunately there is another rescuer, another who can save us. 
God’s arm of mercy is always extended towards us.  (Jacob 6:5)  It may be difficult for us to accept in faith, or to grab hold.  But even if we slip, His arm is still extended towards us.  Oh, that we can hold on to His arm, until we are on solid ground, where we are encircled in the arms of His love. (2 Nephi 1:15)
Nephi summarizes this lesson:

O Lord, I have trusted in thee, and I will trust in thee forever.  I will not put my trust in the arm of flesh; for I know that cursed is he that putteth his trust in the arm of flesh.  Yea, cursed is he that putteth his trust in man or maketh flesh his arm. (2 Nephi 4:34)

You can imagine the force with which President Pace’s message effected me.  He was a terrific teacher.  I wanted to do everything in my power to trust in God, and not man; to have the conviction of Nephi.  I continued my process of seeking purification, holding unto the Lord, as I repented and sought to become a better person.  I still slipped at times, turning to my own resources.
The thought of missionary work can be daunting.  It is the Lord’s work.  But without the ability to rely on the Lord’s help, it can be an overwhelming task.  It was while attending a temple session at the Provo Temple, that I realized that I must petition God for his help.  I also realized, thousands of people across the globe were doing the same thing.  Every day in the temple, people prayed for missionary work.  And hundreds more prayed in their own homes.  I petitioned my family, in letters to also pray for my missionary efforts.
After eight weeks of training in spirituality and Spanish, I with a group of Elders was on my way to Argentina.  The flight was very long.  I remember sitting in the back of the plane, thinking about my testimony, and the task I was taking on.  I reflected on my life and experiences in the church.  My thoughts followed this course:  I had such positive experiences I would gladly tell people of the positives that come with association with the church--the experiences in Primary, and scouting, the many people who were willing to devote time for my betterment.  If I couldn’t bear fiery testimony of the Gospel, certainly I could tell people of  these positives and I would be fine with this. 
This strategy worked for the first couple weeks I was in Argentina.  I was assigned to Elder Brad Larsen, who was the district leader for Barrio 1, the first ward in Argentina with a history of over 50 years.  The family of the bishop of the ward, Obispo Hoffman, had been one of the first families to join the church in Argentina.  He now worked as a barber.
Elder Larsen and I worked in the Mataderos area; Mataderos meaning meat packing plant.  There was a large Mataderos in the Northern part of our area.  Sometimes the smell was very bad.  Once we saw a dead horse through the door.
There was a language shock.  I could speak a little, from my learning at the LTM and in high school.  But I couldn’t understand a thing.  The people in Argentina didn’t talk like the instructors in the LTM.
But it was an enjoyable time as I became accustomed to Argentine culture: street vendors selling sweetened peanuts or riding bicycles selling ice cream, a highway encircling the Districto Federal (federal district,) traveling by bus and train, mosquitoes, watching old men play bocci, an Italian game of lawn bowling (there was a field just off the highway we would often walk pass on our way to the church,) rain, and Argentine foot baths.  (The sidewalks were often tiled and if a tile would get loss, water would seep under it when it rained.  When you stepped on such a tile it would squirt water that would get your legs wet.)
The people were also incredible.  Argentina has a mixture of many European cultures—Spanish, Italian and German mostly.  There are very few people of Native American descent, like other places in Latin America.
We lived with the Gallardo family.  They had a couple of rooms built on top of their house.  Roofs were usually flat.  The rooms were heated with gas heaters.  Outside the rooms was a lattice roof covered with grape vines.  The grapes were very large and juicy.  
Hermana Gallardo, the owner of the house, made our meals.  We usually had milk and cookies for breakfast, pasta, meat or soup for dinner. One time she served snails in barbeque sauce, which was very good.  She also fixed a tortilla, which was eggs and potatoes cooked together which was very good.  She made a poor man’s stew, which had everything in it, including field corn.
A couple weeks into my mission, Elder Larsen and I were teaching the Graciano family.  I didn’t say much as I had difficulty following what was going on.  However I could tell things were not going well.  We were hoping to challenge them to baptism.  I felt the distinct impression that it was my turn to speak.  Being very shy, I initially resisted this impression, but finally gave in.  I bore a very brief testimony.  The church is true and blesses families. I wrote about this in my journal:

   Yesterday while we were there, I felt something tell me I should explain something to them.  I first tried to put it off but the drive was so great that I did tell them.  I know I said the words the Spirit wanted me to say.  One time I didn’t understand what they said, and didn’t know what to say.  But I prayed inside and said I had to know.  I finally ran out [of stuff to say] and became totally blank.  Then it was my companions turn again.
   Later he [my companion] explained how he didn’t know what to say when we started, and the reason was I was suppose to talk… I know Hermano Graciano has received the words of the Spirit and if he listens with the spirit we’ll get him in the water.

That short testimony, with the teaching of Elder Larsen, was enough that they accepted the challenge to baptism.  Hermano Graciano was the first person I ever baptized.  He was a very large man.  I almost couldn’t get him back up after he was under the water.  Fortunately the baptismal font was small and I was able to steady myself against the wall and help him up. 
My companion baptized his wife.  They also had a three-year-old daughter with curly Shirley Temple hair.  I remember teasing her because she would pronounce her s’s like t’s.  She would say asi, meaning that’s the way it is, but it would sound like a ti, meaning to you.  When she said this I would say “A mi?,” (to me?) and we would have fun going back and forth, “Asi,” “A mi?,” “Asi,” “A mi?.”  It was fun.
We also rode in their 1939 De Soto one time.  We had a party at their home and stayed much longer than we should have.  It was after when the buses ran so they gave us a ride home in their car.
I was with Elder Larsen a couple of months.  Then I was moved to La Tablada, still in Barrio 1, with Elder Ellsworth as my companion.  We found a new place to live, with a member family, but still ate lunch with Hermana Graciano.  This place was different.  We had a room at the back of the house.  There was a bathroom behind the residence, which was our restroom, stand alone like and outhouse, but with plumbing.  It did not have any hot water.  The first few times showering it was very cold.  We purchased a personal shower heater, which basically was a bucket with a spigot and a heater.  You would fill the bucket with water, plug in the heater and let it warm up, and then you would have a bucket of water for your shower.  You had to use your water wisely.
Missionary work now became more difficult, as we were basically working in a new area.  Of course there were a few members in this area, but no missionaries had worked this area for sometime.  We had no progressing investigators, and basically were starting from scratch.
We began contacting people as quickly as we could.  We had haircuts, and taught the barber in the area about Joseph Smith with no result.  We organized a street meeting which lead to us teaching a group of young people at a community center who had a street band.  We finally settled into teaching a very nice family.  We thought they were golden and would make great members of the church.  However the father decided the church wasn’t for him, and would not let us continue the discussions with his wife and children.  It was very frustrating, as we knew they had felt the Spirit.
There were also several other frustrating experiences, which lead to discouragement on the part of two missionaries, who were working hard, but not having any results--doors not opened when we felt they should have been, a hard time getting anyone to listen to our message.  It was in this environment, as we were drifting off to bed one night, that my companion asked me if I would bear my testimony.
I took my time before answering.  I knelt by my bed and said a prayer, that God would give me his words.  I then climbed back into bed.  The testimony I bore was simple:  “God lives, Jesus is the Christ, Joseph Smith is a true prophet.”
The spirit that permeated the room was so thick and strong it felt like you could cut it with a knife.  It removed any room for doubt about the truthfulness of those statements.  God lives.  There is a God who is concerned about us, and we are his children.  We can grow and develop and become more and more like Him.
Jesus is the Christ.  We have an older spiritual brother, who offered Himself as a willing sacrifice to atone for our sins; consequently we can be at one again with God.  
Joseph Smith is a true prophet.  The things Joseph said are true.  The church has been restored, and we have living prophets on the earth today.  When I read the Book of Mormon, even today, the peaceful spirit of that book re-manifests this testimony to me.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Carma And Sherrie Nelson

Sherrie Nelson

Sherrie was a good friend.  She moved with her family to Hyrum when I was in high school.  I took her out on a few dates, and she wrote to me while I was on my mission.  She was a year or two younger than me.  I ‘m not sure is she graduated from Sky View, because her family moved back to Brigham City.

Sherrie was pretty much the assistant editor of the Hyrum Crusader with me.  I would ask her to write stories for me, and she would put something together for me.  She also helped me put together the book of poetry and art from young people in Hyrum. 

I can’t remember any particular dates, other than one that the priests put together.  We had spaghetti dinner at the church.  I was slow in getting my date, but all the priests were supposed to have dates.  David Keeley had a regular girlfriend at the time, Joyce Ballard, from Lewiston.  Others of us in this group were Mark Applegarth, James Salvesen, Ronald Salvesen, Kent Nate, Brad Thomas, Neil Frank, Randy Allen, Mike Albrectsen, Randy Wood and Russel Egbert.  I am not sure who they brought.  I don’t think we had our entire group of priests, but we did come close so we had a large group. 

We had the dinner catered by the teachers.  In addition to the spaghetti dinner there was dancing.  It was really a formal affair, and would be akin to the “Mormon Prom” of today but was only our ward.  We didn’t wear tuxes, but we wore our Sunday best.  We did some decorating. 

Anyway, back to Sherrie; she wrote me while I was on my mission, but we never made contact after I returned home.

The story has another paragraph.  My son ran into Sherrie and she now works at the library in Logan.  I was in Logan and stopped by to say “hi” but she was busy working so it didn’t work very well.

Her younger sister Is Carma, who married James Salvesen a high school friend .  However they are no longer together.  They do have children together.  Carma had a poem published in the New Era this past month.  She gave me permission to put it here:

Carma Salvesen, “If,” NewEra, Nov 2010, 49
If I could go to Galilee
And walk where Jesus walked
And sit in tender grasses
On the hillside where He taught.
If I could sit and ponder
On a rock that knew His hand,
Or walk along the seashore
Where His feet had touched the sand.
My spirit yearns within me,
But it doesn’t seem my fate.
I’ll never walk where Jesus walked.
I’ll never see … but wait.
I worship in His temple
Where I know He’s walked before.
Have His feet been down this hallway?
Have His fingers touched this door?
Has He stood here in this very room
And looked at what I see?
In the beauty of His temple
I can feel His love for me.
I close my eyes and picture Him,
My worries melt away.
I don’t need to go to Galilee
Or travel far away.
For my tender heart is filled
With what He wants me to be taught
And my testimony burns within—
I’ve walked where Jesus walked!

Pretty cool, and I knew her when.

My Life Story with Alcohol


I don’t have much history with drugs or Alcohol.  In fact I have never drunk, and never used drugs.  The closest I ever got was smoking a weed—not marijuana but an actual weed.  There was a weed that was hollow, and we were told you could smoke them and keep the thing burning.  That was my only experience on the wild side, and it wasn’t very pleasurable, so I only did this once with a group of friends, when I was 9 or 10 years old.

When I was in high school, I wanted to go to a basketball game but didn’t have a ride to get there.  I called around to some friends, and finally got a ride with James Salvesen and Terril Morgan.  I can’t remember for sure who was driving.  I lived in Hyrum, Southern Cache County, and the high school, Sky View, a county school, was in the Northern part of the county.  It was about 10 miles away, and you had to go through Logan to get there.

On this particular night, the people I was riding with decided they needed to get some alcohol to make the trip more enjoyable.  There is a small market close to the University, and my friends ventured there.  I think it was James who ventured to ask men as they entered the store, if they would buy some beer for him.  We were too young to make the purchase.  It was the second or third time he asked that someone agreed to purchase the beer.  He came back to the car with a six-pack in a paper bag.

We were still a few miles away from the school.  Instead of going the traditional way to get there, we took the back roads.  My friends proceeded to drink the beer.  They offered me, but I declined.  We hadn’t gotten very far when we were hit with a dilemma.  They needed to relieve themselves.  I think we were only in North Logan where we found a quiet street for this process to take place.  I hadn’t realized that beer would go so quickly to your bladder.  I was so na├»ve. 

With the beer ingested, we made it to the school.  I don’t remember noticing any impairment with driving abilities.  I didn’t drive even though I wasn’t drinking. 

I sort of wandered and found a different crowd to hang with during the game.  I found a different ride home.

My next closest run in was when I turned 19.  I happened to be in Idaho for this birthday, where the drinking age is 19 instead of 21 in Utah.  I decided I would venture to a bar and check out the scene.  I walked in proudly, and was asked to show identification, which I did and was then cleared to pass.  I took a couple steps farther into the bar, looked around, decided I'd seen enough, and exited.  That was in Burley.
The only other times I have in a bar was once on my mission, because that is where they had a pay phone, and in Nevada when they lived there for the same reason.  In Nevada on the dessert you had to use what amenities were available.

Needles to say alcohol and drugs have not been an issue for me.  I have seen its destruction however through being a foster parent and through my employment.  Drugs are often a contributing factor to mental illness.

Charles Dickey, Fallen Sheriff



Charles Dickey

Charles Dickey was a member of the Elders Quorum IN Hyrum Second Ward after I returned from my mission.  He was also a police officer for Hyrum City and worked with Kim Cheshire who was also in our Elders Quorum.  Hyrum City Police department contracted out to Cache County Sheriff’s and both Kim and Chuck, as he was called, went to work for them.  Chuck was always very pleasant and very involved.  He had a big smile and a large mustache.

I went away to school in Salt Lake and lost contact with his family for a time.  He and his wife could not have children and decided to adopt downs syndrome babies.  During the summer of 1982, I traveled with Cliff Elmore to New York for the North American Council on Adoptable Children conference.  Cliff and I had dreams of establishing an international adoption agency at the time.

Chuck and his wife Patricia were there at the conference.  While they were there they also met a new baby with downs syndrome who was going to become a part of their family.  As part of the conference, we took a tour of New York.  This included taking the Coney Island Ferry across the river, which afforded a view of the Statue of Liberty.  I sat by Chuck and his wife during this excursion.  They had a baby with them.  I am not sure if it was a newly adopted baby or the one they had adopted previously.  They adopted two babies.  I enjoyed spending some time with them.

A couple years later, I had gotten married and moved to Nevada.  During this time, Charles Dickey, while responding to a domestic violence call, missed a curve in his police vehicle, rolled the car, and was killed.

His wife remarried, and raised the two Downs Syndrome Children along with another child.  She too met a tragic end just a couple years ago.  She was sleep walking, which is a problem she had for some time.  However this time she got outside and a winter's night.  She succumbed to the elements.  Her children were going to be taken care of by family.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

My Poetry: Humpty Dumpty silliness

Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall
Humpty Dumpty had a great fall
All the king’s horses and all the king’s men
Couldn’t put Humpty together again

They brought out the tape
And wrapped him up tight
His blood flow was cut
Humpty screamed with fright: Oh! Oh! Oh!


Next they tried glue,
The super stick kind,
They plugged up his nose,
He went out of his mind: Oh! Oh! Oh!


So next came the stapler,
It just had to work.
But the pain was too great,
and it made his head jerk, Ay! Ay! Ay!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Halloween 2002

Party at work.  I am the lovable bunny, Hue the bloody butcher, Carol with him, Elizabeth the blow up whatever, I am not sure who is Sponge Bob.  I think Anne is the witch.  This is the courtyard at DLP.  We have moved since then.

My Poetry: There is no love in Paradise

I think I wrote this after and argument with Sheri. It is sort of stupid, but conflict makes better poetry.

There is no love in Paradise

There is no love in paradise
Only pain, heartache and cries.
What should have been heaven on earth,
Is instead of little worth.

Coal dust, where diamonds are sought.
Hate not love, the latter ought,
But no, life squeezes like a vise.
My quest for love, avarice.

Booify, Halloween lyrics

Boo! Boo! Boo! Boo!
Boo! Boo! Boo! Boo!
We’re here to boo-i-fy you
We’re here to boo-i-fy you
Scary and eerie, wary and dreary
We’re here to boo-i-fy you
On a Halloween night I took quite a fright
When I went out to prowl and howl
You see, I saw a witch in flight
On her face was an ugly scowl
She spied me and dived at me
But I managed to escape,
At that is why I’m here today,
To join in this Halloween growl.
On a Halloween night I took quite a fright,
When I went to the trunk or treat,
You see, I saw a ghost in white
And me he did want to eat.
He chased me and ran at me
But I managed to escape
He couldn’t find me amongst his friends
For I was hid under a sheet.
Boo (in round)

Kim Chang

Kim Chang, his father and younger brother

Kim Chang was on the soccer team I coached after coming home from my mission.  It was a time when soccer was new, and I was coaching 12 year olds.  We had a fast stopper in the back (Mark Wengreen) and with him a couple kids who could kick the ball a long ways; (one was Steve DeHeck) but the focus of the team was Kim Chang.  We wanted to get the ball to him, and let him do his magic. 

He could score and distribute and create better than anyone else on our team, or in our league for that matter.  We road his shoulders to many victories, and he did some incredible things with the soccer ball—at least for us who had never seen such play.  I know he had several games with multiple goals, and three in one game.

I didn’t know how to coach any way but offensive.  I would put most of our players forward, and we would control the ball most of the game.  It was just a matter of time until we scored, and keeping the ball at our end, the other teams had few chances except for an occasional counter attack.

The only time we had a rough game, playing one of the better teams, they put somebody on Chang the entire game, with the idea of pushing him and playing rough with him so as to knock him off of his game.  It worked, and that game we lost 1-0.  It was a rough game because the opposition scored their only goal on an indirect free kick that went directly into the net untouched.  In those days all the refs were new and inexperienced (as well as the players) and there was no way to get it corrected.

But the Chang family was something more to our community.  I grew up in a small rural Utah town, where everyone was white.  As I was growing up, a minority in our town was someone who wasn’t Mormon.  I think we had a couple of Catholic families, and sometimes people who were affiliated with the university would spill over into town with different religions.  There were also a few people of Mexican decent who worked in the agricultural industry, but not many.  The Chang family represented the first family from Korea to live in Hyrum.

At the time, I did some writing for newspapers, and I wrote an article about this family, and their culture.  I was thrilled with the different types of food they ate, and how they were adjusting to a new lifestyle, and their experiences that landed them in rural Utah.  Kim Chang’s younger brother (who also played soccer and often practiced with us) was also named Kim Chang.  I couldn’t understand that.  But I imagine it was hard adjusting to a new culture.

But Chang always seemed happy, popular and content with life.  But being the first at anything can be hard.

I moved on with my life, and so did Chang.  I guess he had some problems becoming an adult.  I don’t know if the stress of being from a different culture, or just the beginning of a mental illness had anything to do with it, but the way I understood the story, is that he was becoming paranoid and delusional.  He was arrested for being in someone’s house.  I think he had been hiding in the closet.  He had become parnoid.  It wasn’t his first arrest.

While he was in jail, he hung himself with a sheet and died.

I loved to see him playing soccer.  I will always remember him on the soccer field. 

Monday, November 15, 2010

My poetry: The Peace of Home

The Peace of Home
                                      Dedicated to my mother        

When I was young, I often marveled
That the world could torment and trouble,
But when I arrived home all was peace,
As if I’d curled up in a blanket of fleece.

I always took that peace for granted,
As if for free it had been planted…

But not for free, but a mother’s work

Created this peace apart from a world gone berserk.

And now that I’ve become a father,
I’m still confused.  I wonder.  I ponder.
Is there some magic code to release,
That special, loving feeling--feeling of peace?

So it can permeate in my home,
And call to my children when they’re gone,
“Here is a place free from worldly cares.
Come, be refreshed.  Here is peace, free of briars.”

And it dawns on me, there is a key,
A Christ centered man I need to be,
Like my mother; full of love, quick to pray,
Bearing all things, giving kind service each day.

If I can exemplify these traits
In my children’s eyes--I will be great.
Not because of me, no I’m not the one,
Just love God, as my mother also has done.

                                                Billy Wardle