Sunday, December 22, 2013

Merry Christmas from Darrel and Joanne Hammon

Merry Christmas from Darrel and Joanne Hammon
from Pleasant Grove, Utah—December 2013

Joanne and I have had an eventful year. On January 28 2013, we flew from balmy Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic to frigid Salt Lake City, Utah. The moment we stepped off the plane we were ready to return to our 86-degree weather. But, alas, there were grandchildren and children waiting for us when we walked down to the baggage claim. It was so wonderful to see them that we forgot the balmy weather—at least for a few weeks.

"Welcome Home"--It was a very cold and snowy evening when we arrived!
 We enjoyed our mission! It was one of the best experiences we have had in our lives. We love the people. They are so friendly and loving. They may be poor, but they are grateful for everything they have, which is very, very little, and they are willing to share everything with you. Perhaps, one of the best parts of the mission was serving in the Santo Domingo Temple once a week. They are so thankful to have a temple in their midst and believe their island is protected from the elements because of the temple. We also enjoyed thoroughly the privilege we had to travel around the Caribbean and the Dominican Republic, training lay leaders in welfare and leadership principles. We loved our mission and urge all of you to prepare now to go somewhere in the world to serve. Your eyes will be opened. 

A group of senior missionaries: Los Snow, Rucker, y Hammon
 As you all know, we sold our home and most of our belongings before we left on our mission. So, Anna Rose said we could come live with her and her little family when we returned. The day we were flying in, she and her family were moving from Orem to Pleasant Grove. Thus, we started our new life in a new home along with Anna Rose, Christiaan, and their little family. It has been wonderful so far. We helped them finish the basement so we could live there. We get to see Emiline and William every day. Emiline is going to pre-school three days per week and loving it. William who was born while we were gone learned to walk and now runs and runs and runs. Plus, he is just a fun little boy. 

Happy Grandparents!
We have spent a great deal of time traveling about. When we arrived home, Hailey, Joe, and little Clark lived in Wisconsin; so, we flew there and spent a week or so with them. It was fun getting acquainted with our little Clark who also was born while we were serving. Joanne did come home to be with Hailey during the birth. 

Haily and little Clark on Cannon Beach
 In September, we visited them in Puyallup, Washington, where they are now living with his parent while Joe finishes his master’s in math from BYU. While Joe was doing his thing, we trundled down the Oregon coast and enjoyed four days of absolutely stunning beauty. Of course, the best part was being with Hailey and our sweet Clark. The Oregon Coast is a must see. 

Haystack Rock on Cannon Beach
We also spent time with our families in Idaho, traveling there at least four times, once to just visit, once to bury Darrel’s cousin Deloy, another time to bury Darrel’s youngest brother Heber who died from complications of diabetes, and once to attend the 60th birthday of Darrel’s oldest brother Dennis. One of our visits included a Memorial Day visit of all of the cemeteries where Joanne’s kin are buried. Anna Rose and her little ones came with us, and we all stayed at Brad’s. We had an enjoyable weekend with Joanne’s family. We do have beautiful cemeteries in eastern Idaho, especially the Annis-Little Butte Cemetery, where both of our parents are buried.

Little William at the Annis-Little Butte Cemetery
When we were in the DR serving as missionaries, we meet a Dra. Claudina Vargas, a Dominican by birth but schooled in Spain and the U.S. having earned a Ph.D. in Engineering from the U. of Iowa. She has a foundation that works with some of the poorest schools. We were able to return to the DR at the end of July and spend nine days, working with the students, teachers, and parents. Darrel did workshops on leadership principles and values. 

MACILE students in the DR
 We also were able to have a lunch and a dinner with our missionary couple friends and visit our little Consuelo Branch. What an incredible homecoming we had with the members there! We love them so. Overall, our return trip was extremely fruitful. We do hope to return.

Los Hammon con la Familia Díaz en Consuelo!
 Although we are native Idahoans, we have decided that while snow is beautiful, we would much rather be in a milder climate. There is something about living in the tropics where the blue skies dominate throughout the year and you can walk along some of the most beautiful beaches in the world. Aside from the humidity, the weather was spectacular! Plus, the fresh fruit was so enjoyable!

Snowy range in Pleasant Grove, Utah
We wish all of you a Feliz Navidad! May the Lord continue to bless you always with the knowledge that Jesus Christ, our Elder Brother and our Savior, is truly the reason to celebrate Christmas. 

"Precious in His Sight" by Greg Olsen

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Thanksgiving, November 28, 2013

Thanksgiving, November 28, 2013

As I sit and contemplate this year’s blessings, I am amazed how many blessings I truly have. Here are just a few:

A beautiful wife of 34 years whose continuous and unabashed support is mind-boggling.

My bride of 34 years. Still as beautiful as ever!
Two gorgeous daughters who are so much like their mother.

Anna Rose and Hailey
Two grandsons and a granddaughter who is now in pre-school.


 The privilege of living with our oldest daughter and her little family.

The Johnson Family
The Dominican Republic and the Caribbean Area and our many ties there.

Berroa Family from San Pedro
Being home and not having to wash fruits and vegetables and knowing that most people obey traffic laws.

Skype and Facebook for allowing us to keep in contact with our friends and family all over the world.

The knowledge that the Book ofMormon, Another Testament of Christ is true.

A Church that helps hundreds of thousands of people, if not millions, through its humanitarian projects throughout the world.

Men from the old folks' home in Bonao
Good health.

Brothers and sisters, especially my younger brother who passed away this year from complications of diabetes.

Sunflower in honor of my brother Heber who passed away this year.
The ability to still speak Spanish almost every day.

Visiting the Oregon coast with our daughter and our grandson in September.

Haystack Rock
The ability to have a garden and grow a few vegetables. 

The beginnings of a garden
Some of the produce from the garden
A good camera that still takes great pictures.

Puerta Plata in the early a.m.
The opportunity to write for others.

Senior missionaries (los regresados) and being able to hang out with them periodically.

Los regresados
 Being able to return to the DR in July and meeting new friends from MACILE.

Students from MACILE
Our new bikes we bought this summer and walks and bike rides in the early a.m. with Joanne on the Murdock Trail.

Joanne and her new bike this summer!
The opportunity Joanne has given me to learn how to cook a few things. Baked potatoes (Idaho spuds are the best!) and meatloaf are still my most favorite. I did bake two pies from scratch!

Yes, I made these peach pies from scratch!
The fact I love to teach and share what I know and what I would like to know.

Knowing I have a Heavenly Father who loves me.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Halloween: Gorillas, Frigid Weather, and 12 Grocery Bags of Candy

Halloween: Gorillas, Frigid Weather, and 12 Grocery Bags of Candy
Darrel L. Hammon

Halloween in eastern Idaho can be doggone cold, and I remember those cold Halloweens, replete with frigid weather, often snow and a biting wind, curling around the old Menan Buttes, seeping down the Snake River, and then on to Menan, Idaho, formerly known as Poole’s Island. But the coldness normally dissipates when I think of Halloween in Menan.
Our costumes were never as elaborate as the costumes today. In fact, our costumes were merely masks that covered our faces. When it was cold, we bundled up in our snowmobile suits, those dark green snow pacs, and brown Jersey gloves with fingers. The only thing available for any kind of costume was our face. Thus, a mask was sufficient for our needs. They weren’t the plastic kind either; rather, they were made from a thin rubber and seemed to stick to your face, especially in the cold when your breath was warm. I didn’t like the mask, but it was part of the drill of scurrying from house to house and “trick or treating.”
                In those days, people could give out homemade treats, and that was the best part—candied apples; regular Red Delicious apples from the neighbors’ trees; the stickiest popcorn balls ever; sometimes Rice Crispy treats; chocolate chip or sugar cookies, draped with orange frosting and chocolate eyes; and the usual array of candy.
Our most favorite and usually last stop was the Hart farm, which was about two miles from our home. Mr. Hart and his son Bud lived there. Mrs. Hart had long since passed away, and Bud never married. They lived in the country in a beautiful old home, surround by huge cottonwood trees. We clamored to the door and knocked loudly. Usually Mr. Hart would saunter over and open the door, feigning surprise at the hoards of masked children. They invited us in after we sang some sort of gibberish song.
Once inside, we stood there in awe, our bags dangling from our gloved hands. The living room was a mass of chairs, probably 10 or 12, arrayed in a half circle. A big grocery paper bag sat, bulging, on top of each seat. Inside each bag was a different kind of candy or goodie. I remember taking just one piece from each bag. Bud strolled over, looked at me, and said, “This is how you do it.” He stuck his big paw into the bag and grabbed a handful. Then, making sure my bag was open, he dumped the contents into it. I just looked up, amazed! So, I followed suit with each subsequent bag. By the time I reached the end of the half circle of chairs, my own Halloween bag was stuffed full.
When we finished, Mr. Hart looked at each of us and ask, “So, who’s driving you tonight.” We chorused, “Our Mother.” With that, he handed us a bag of Hersey’s kisses or some bag or box of chocolates and said, “Now, take this to her.”
Saying a million thanks, we jumped off the big porch and headed out into the cold night to Mom and a warm car. We excitedly handed the bag or box of chocolates to Mom who smiled. She always asked, “Did you tell them thank you?” We all yelled in unison: “Yes!” I think she loved coming here more than we did.
My Halloween always consisted of going home and dumping the entire contents of my Saving Center bag out onto the floor. Then, I carefully counted and categorized the various pieces of candy and goodies I had received. Often, we had contests as to who had gathered the most candy.
Part of Halloween’s was the knock on our back door at the beginning of our Halloween night. As we opened the door, a huge gorilla charged into the room, eliciting monster screams and us scurrying to get out of the way. Inside the incredibly realistic gorilla suit was either Uncle Wilfred or one of his two sons, Terry or Deloy. They were big boys who could toss up 70 pound hay bales, one handed onto the Uncle Milt’s hay wagon. As we came out from our hiding places, they would just laugh and laugh. Each year that happened, and it scared me each and every time although I knew full well who it was.
Both Mr. Hart and Bud have long since passed on. Each time I drive down the Lewisville Highway to the blinking light where we turn east to go to Menan, I look just a bit north to the Hart home on the west side of the road and remember the times we visited their home at Halloween and then later working for them.
Then, I pass Uncle Wilfred’s white home where he used to live. I remember the long bed of white carnations and the gorilla suit. Both Terry and Deloy have gone on as well as Uncle Wilfred. I don’t know what happened to the gorilla suit. But I suspect, Terry and Deloy are still causing people to scream and yell with their antics.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Gardening: A Sense of Accomplishment

Gardening: A Sense of Accomplishment 
Darrel L. Hammon

The beginnings of a garden
When people ask what some of my hobbies are, I include gardening, not that I am the best gardener in the world. Rather, I enjoy planting things and watching them grow--the ultimate sense of accomplishment—the planting of the seeds, watching the seedlings sprout through the fine dirt, the continual growing and leafing out, the actual harvesting and then canning/bottling of the fruits and vegetables, and then leaning back with satisfaction that you have accomplished something, watched something come to fruition from beginning to the end.

The growing garden
This summer has been one of those great summers of gardening. Anna Rose and Christiaan bought a home in Pleasant Grove and assigned me the garden. “Make it grow” was the only admonition. So, we made it grow—lots of hoeing, weeding, watering, etc. And the outcome was phenomenal!

The "catch" of the day
Emiline and William helped me quite a bit although Emiline wasn't totally excited about the worms and the grasshoppers.Plus, keeping a hat on William was more than a task. He hates them, but his mother said he had to wear one when he was outside.

William and his hat
The peas came first. 
Some of the pea pods
Emiline and I planted them too close, and we failed to stake them so they could grow up. So, they became a tangled mess. But peas are peas, and they are delicious! Our favorite, like many of you, is new peas and new red potatoes floating in a yummy white sauce.

the art of shelling peas
I made "pea boats" like my dad showed me. You carefully, squeeze out all of the peas, making sure you keep the ends in tack. Then, you find a small stick and place it gently in the middle, widening it some so it looks like a boat. Of course, you have to then try it out as you water the water, watching the boat trying to maneuver the hazards of rows.

Pea boats--all aboard!
We made some good hauls on a few days. 

Another catch of the day
Emiline wanted to hoist the beets to show them off. They were delicious! We ate some of them fresh, and we bottled a few for winter.

Emiline and her beets
Although we didn't plant much corn, it produced quite a bit. Of course, most of the corn we ate at dinners.We trundled out, picked a few ears, shucked them on the spot, raced to the house, and placed them in a pot of already boiling water--a must if you want to eat fresh corn on the cob.

Cutting the corn from the cob after it has been blanched
The rest we blanched and placed in storage bags for the freezer.

Blanching and bagging it
We bought some peaches in Washington on our way back from Hailey and Joe's. Plus we gleaned some from an orchard just up the hill.

Peaches gleaned from an orchard
The results:  

Peach pie.....

My first peach pie--ever
Peach jam.....

Peach jam
Bottled peaches.....

Bottled peaches
Plus, we scored some plums from a little place down the street where people place their excess garden stuffs. The result: yummy jam.

Plum jam

Now, as all this sits on shelves, in our freezer, and in our storage, we look forward to enjoying our garden all winter long.