Sunday, October 4, 2020

Majestic Sandstone and Limestone Rock Formations in the Valley of Fire

The illustrious group of senior missionaries who served in the Dominican Republic/
Caribbean Area with us. We had a wonderful time with them a few weeks ago. 

For some reason, I love rocks. I took a geology class several years ago at Boise State University to fulfill a general education assignment. I used to know the names of rocks and time periods and all that, but I have forgotten what all those are. We went on a few field trips outside of Boise to witness rock formations and how in ancient times new rocks oozed into older rocks because of heat and things, creating these magnificent colorful rock formations. Despite my forgetfulness, it was fascinating—thus, my love for rocks and what they represent and how they came to be.

You can imagine my amazement when a group of former senior missionaries from the Caribbean Area and the Dominican Republic congregated at the Valley of Fire, just north of Las Vegas and south of St. George, Utah. The red sandstone rocks were stunning!

According to the Valley of Fire state park website—see“The Valley of Fire consists of bright red Aztec sandstone outcrops nestled in gray and tan limestone mountains.  The sandstone is from the Jurassic period and is the remnant of the sand left behind by the wind after inland seas subsided and the land rose.”

The Jurassic period was a long time ago. When you look around, you wonder how it could have been covered with an inland sea. Where did the water go? I am sure there is a reason for all this but not the space to write about it here. So….

We stopped at the Visitor’s Center to read a bit about the Valley of Fire. There, we saw about 14 head of mountain sheep, scurrying up the jagged rocks. I didn’t have my long lense or I would have taken pictures of them. What stoic animals! You have to wonder about the creation and how they were placed in this part of the world or whether they just migrated from somewhere and decided they love rock climbing, jumping easily from rock ledge to rock ledge; foraging for bits and pieces of precious green sprigs growing stoically out of rock croppings; searching for water to quench their thirst; or majestically standing on the top of sheer rocks and peeks, thinking they are kings/queens of the mountains.

Now, had it not been over 100% and admonished by the park rangers not to go out hiking and wandering about because of the heat, we would have been hiking around, taking more and more pictures, and basking in the enormous beauty of these incredible sandstone outcroppings.

Of course, the best part was being with our dear friends from the Caribbean and knowing the love we have for them and who they are. They are definitely great examples to Joanne and me. We hope we can be like they are when we grow up.

I placed even more pictures on my Facebook page: if you would like to see more of the photos. I would suggest that you go when it is cooler so you can get out and hike around a bit. No matter the season, be sure to take lots of water, sunscreen, snacks, and an extra battery for your camera as you will want to take hundreds of pictures. If you are like me, you cannot take too many photos.

Sunday, September 20, 2020

The Bursting of Fall

We have gone on a couple of fall drives in the past couple of weeks. We love fall. We love the colors. We love the majesty of it all. The following words came to me at I see these incredible views, mostly from a far. 

The bursting of fall

Fall mostly comes quickly, usually after school starts

and daylight savings time nears

its reluctant entry into our lives.

The sides of steep and sloping mountains


and deep and shallow ravines burst

into reds, oranges, burnt sienna, and yellows.


sometimes meshed like yarn in a kaleidoscope tie.

Often, we stop along the road in a safe place


or on a dirt road that runs up to a locked gate or fence, laden

with a rusted chain and lock, brittle weeds, or sagging fence line.


The fences are generally high, hopefully keeping the deer

from bounding over and onto the busy road, especially at night.


Some are great leapers and make it across,

only to face oncoming traffic and death.

I love the reds and oranges the most,

their vibrancy overwhelming my sense of calm and revelry.


I sometimes wonder, though, who decided on the colors,

the majesty of it all flowing so perfectly and decidedly


in the eternal equation of time—first, one day at 98 degrees,

then the next plummeting to 32 at night,


thwarting all living sap from flowing anywhere,

causing the various shades of colors and extravagant hues.


It is the night coldness in the dark and behind the scenes

that creates the flagrancy of colors on hillsides in the day


and in ravines and between green pines and golden quakies.

I still ease out of traffic onto the shoulder and dirt roads,


close to the fence, rock-laden paths, thistles, and grass,

just to be alone with creative colors and their Creator.


Darrel L. Hammon

September 2020

Sunday, September 6, 2020

How Great Thou Art--Reminiscing the greatness of God in our lives!

I just listened to the Tabernacle Choir at Temple Square’s version of “How Great Thou Art.” As I listened and watched them sing, listened to the orchestra’s incredible music, and watched the various images that depicted why God is great,” I thought I should share some of those images why I feel God is Great and pen a few lines why I feel this on this beautiful Sabbath Day!

God is great and His creations have had a lasting effect on my life and the lives of my family. 

The first time I think of when I recognized His Greatness was when we used to fish Birch Creek in Idaho. I remember standing on the banks of the little creek, which I thought was huge when I was eight. It was so quiet with a slight breeze rustling through some of the trees that lined certain portions of the creek. I stood there with a fishing pole in hand and worms in an old Band aid can, alone but not alone along a small creek meandering through that vastness of sagebrush, a few trees, and mountains on both sides of the valley.

Other times happened when my father and I fished on Rainey Creek, which flowed into the mighty Snake River. I was with my father when we witnessed a cow elk and her twins trying to escape us on the other side of the creek. She was trying with her might to get those two little ones up the hill and out of sight of us. We just watched quietly on banks, beneath some bushes, as she cajoled and finally convinced them to climb that steep mountain. They finally did, scrambling away and out of sight.

Still another time when Joanne and I were serving in the Dominican Republic and visited the great Caribbean and just watched sunsets, and enjoyed the beach and that famously beautiful blueish turquoise water, something that was so foreign to us having grown up in Idaho.


The Volcán Osorno in southern Chile is one of those majestic creations. I remember as a young missionary, standing on the banks of Lake Llanquihue and marveling at its beauty. When Joanne and I returned to visit Chile in 2009, I had to stop and have Joanne witness the same incredible view. We almost missed it, but dusk was just settling, and we captured the glorious essence of Volcán Osorno as we stood there holding hands as the sun gently, reluctantly slid beyond the horizon.

Still another was the event when Elder Neil L. Andersen, a modern-day Apostle, visited our mission with Elder Jörge Klebingat of the Seventy and Elder Kevin K. Miskin, Area Authority Seventy


The Tetons are one of those great sights that millions of people have seen and experienced. Every time I have seen them, I just stand in awe and wonder “how” and “why.” And then it hits me: It the majesty of it all.  


The Idaho Falls Temple is another sign of the Greatness of God. All temples are signs of His great majesty and wonder—yes, even the Lord’s sacred house. 

Flowers—how can I leave them out. I love flowers in their different arrays and creative bouquets scattered across the world. Can one question the majesty of God? They were designed by divine and loving hands. I am sure that Heavenly Mother had some say in all this. It is all too beautiful to not have our Heavenly Mother’s eternal eye on all this. I can see her gentle, kind smile, and a slight nod of love as the daisies and lilies wave their dainty heads toward Her.


Probably the greatest feeling of  how Great God is was when we were sealed in the Idaho Falls Temple. Yes, we were young, but we knew what kind of marriage we wanted. We waited a long time before Heavenly Father blessed with with two incredibly talented and beautiful daughters, Anna Rose and Hailey. They are a blessing to our lives.

Joanne and Darrel wedding

Of course, the greatest example of God being Great is the eternal principle of families! We may not have been around them as much as they would have liked or we would like. We love our family more than anything else in the world!

Yes, God is Great! The Choir finishes with these testimonial and powerful statements: “How great Thou art, how great Thou Art.” Those words continue to reverberate through my very soul as I contemplate how great He has been in my life!

Thursday, August 20, 2020

Basking in the beauty of Bear Lake and reminiscing with friends from the mission!

You have to get up early to see this kind of sunset!

Finishing and returning home from a mission can be a challenging thing! Joanne and I are experiencing this challenge, leaving behind what we had been doing for the past three years. Yes, we have a journal. Yes, we have pictures. Yes, we have a binder full of wonderful miracle stories. Yes, we kept all of your training presentations...and on and on. But being with the missionaries one minute and then not seeing them for a while can cause some consternation. 

Here is the entire group sans a few who came late or left early!
Incredible missionaries and young people!

Elder McConahay, Sisters Brown and Freeman, Elder Jackson. Elders Rich, Hite, and Staley

So along come reunions, events where you can see and talk to your missionaries who have also returned home, some recently, some two or more years ago. According to many of them, they are still transitioning. 

From the balcony of the cabin

Recently, Elder and Sister Shirley invited us along with a host of returned missionaries from the California Riverside Mission to join them at their cabin in Bear Lake. 

Shirley's cabin in Bear Lake--gorgeous views!

It sits just west of the lake in Garden City and overlooks the vast blue of Bear Lake. 

Los Hammon and Los Shirley!

A bunch at the beach with E. Mackay who happened up the group!

It's quiet there, away from the fray of Bear Lake Boulevard and the constant--and sometimes irritating--hum of boats and those awfully noisy water do.

Sisters Hindman and Brown
Sisters Hindman and Brown!

Las Hermanas Kaiser and Smyer!

Elders Jackson, Rowe, and McConahay. 

Over a three-day period, 36 former missionaries motored up the dirt roads to the Shirley's cabin. Some spent the night; others came a long distance just to spend some time, eating, chatting, reminiscing, playing a little basketball, renewing old friendships, playing in Bear Lake, learning first names, going on walks in the early morning light, standing or sitting on the deck and watching the sun rise in the east, meeting missionaries they didn't know in the mission field, and seeing people not dressed in white shirts and ties and skirts, or just sitting in chairs and watching what was going on and basking in the goodness and the comfortability of it all.

Elders Staley and Hite!

Elder Shirley: "Elder Jackson, here is the paddle. Be careful with it."

Ah, the kneeling Hermana Brown!

So, every minute was a pretty lively time and some quiet time contemplating and watching.  

Elder and Sister Thorne came by for lunch with Elder Shirley!

Aren't you supposed to sit, kneel, lie, or stand on this kind of board?

Hermana Frehner, Elder Emry, Sister Foster, and Elder McConahay
at the beach. Thanks, Sister Shirley, for the photo!

Sister Cienna Dorny brought her guitar that she has learned to play since coming home. She sang and played for us. 

Sister Cienna Dorny and her guitar!

Elder Sanchez with Elders Staley and Jacobs in the background!
Thanks, Sister Shirley, for the photo!

Sister Freeman

The food was delicious-- Taco salad, hotcakes, fruit, hot dogs, cookies, chips, chicken salad on croissants, and Sister Shirley's famous mint brownies.

And the hot dog BBQers: Elders Hallows and Hunt

Cannot be a picnic without hot dogs.

What's a reunion without food? Sisters Schmutz, Sands, Kaiser, Andersen, and Durham,

From above

They pitched tents and hammocks to sleep in, some on rocks, others on grass, and others among the bushes and flora and fauna.

Elder Michael Rich very comfortable in his hammock!

Night lights make beautiful stars!

They parked their cars in every nook and corner they could find or was allowable.

Thanks, Sister Shirley, for the photo!

Sisters Hindman and Schmutz

Sisters Sands, Hunt (Peterson), and Stettler

Ah, yes, they shared one bathroom and were very polite about all this. 

Las Hermanas Kaiser and Smyer!

Sisters Tanner, Dyer, and Corder

Sister Morgan

The newlyweds: Mr. and Mrs. Casper!

When Joanne and I left early Saturday morning after saying goodbye to those who were up, it felt lonely driving down the road again as we worked our way to Idaho, a wedding, and a class reunion. 

Sister Wilde, Elder Carlisle, and Sister Adams

The Hammons with Sister Fortin

Sisters Sands, Dorny, Morgan, Dyer, Andersen, Tanner, Hammon, and Hunt (Peterson)!
Thanks, Sister Shirley, for the photo!

It was a privilege to see them all. And we all promised to make time to join again from wherever we were.
L-R: Hermanas Stettler, Kaiser, Smyer, Cardiel, Schmutz, and Brown--all Spanish speaker!

Sisters Andersen and Durham, happy to be on the swing!

Hermana Cardiel

We love being with these missionaries!