Sunday, April 3, 2022

Mission Reunions: A Time to Greet, Reminisce, and Share/Make Memories!

Sister Hammon and I thought about the many reasons why we love mission reunions, and these are just a few that we came up with. We suspect you all have many, many others.

Everyone who stayed for the photo! 
We love missionary reunions…

We love seeing our missionaries and feeling their love.


We love catching up on what is happening in their lives.


We love to see the new additions to the families.


We love meeting their new spouses and significant others.

We love to feel their jubilation as they greet each other.


We love to receive and give abrazos.


We love renewing our friendships.

We love seeing the smiles on their faces when they enter the room.


We love that many of them make great efforts to come to the reunion.


We love to feel their spirits. 

We love sharing our love and counsel.


We love taking pictures and recording memories.

We love seeing our senior couples and expressing how much we love them and how much our missionaries love them.

Los Shirley, Hammon, and McBride (Elder and Sister McBride were
supposed to come to our mission while we were there, but because
of a variety of reasons, including COVID, they came after.)

We love reminiscing about our missionary experiences.

We love that they did not want to leave because of the love they feel for each other.


We love that they enjoy each other’s company.


We love that they make new friends.

We love sharing in their joys and their challenges.


We love standing in holy places and being with true disciples of Jesus Christ.


We love spending time with members of our missionary family who have become our eternal friends.

So many thanks for a delightfully wonderful evening with so many missionaries, their families, and friends. 


A huge thank you to Sister Marlene Shirley who took all but two of these pictures. Not only did she and Elder Shirley bring lots of treats, she is always ready with her powerful camera to record the history of the California Riverside Mission! These photos represent just a few of the photos she took. If you would like to see more, please visit Marlene Shirley's Facebook page.

“And we talk of Christ, we rejoice in Christ, we preach of Christ, we prophesy of Christ, and we write according to our prophecies, that our children may know to what source they may look for a remission of their sins” (2 Nephi 25:26).








Wednesday, February 2, 2022

Ah, the memories of youth basketball!

Joanne and I went to the Provo Recreation Center on a Saturday morning, which we don’t normally do, but we had missed Thursday and Friday, and we felt obligated to go. We are glad we did!

As we drove into the parking lot, we were surprised by the number of cars, particularly vans and SUVs. We looked at each other and said, “Probably youth basketball and swimming.” We were right. Four youth teams—two female and two male—were playing. They were probably third or fourth graders, dressed in either white or black jerseys.


We decided to use the equipment on the gym side so we could watch them play. As I pedaled the stationary bike, a flood of memories of our own daughters playing basketball at that age with me being the coach rolled through my mind. I probably yelled way too much when coaching. It was both a frustrating, fun, and exhilarating time!

In front of me was the girls’ game, and on the other court was the boys’ game. Watching them made me laugh and cry simultaneously. The laughing was mainly watching them trying their very best with the knowledge they had about the game. The crying emerged because of the memories of us watching our daughters play and grow and develop as individuals and being part of teams.

Watching youth basketball is about herding and bunching and helping them understand that team is more than one, and you can actually pass the ball to someone on your own team. Sometimes, you can even teach them a play or two or how to dribble with one hand, pivot, or how to play defense and rebound by actually jumping up to grab the ball. Yet, in the heat of the moment—and there are lots of those—they forget all about what you ostensibly taught them in practice.

Watching them play around the key is one of the most frustrating and funny parts of youth basketball. One of them dribbles down, stops, starts dribbling again, (and no traveling called by the referee who knows if they call it, the game would be stopping about every ten seconds), closer and closer to the basket as her opponent moves with her backward. Then, the girl turns and shoots while the others look on, not remembering or knowing what they are supposed to do at the exact moment.

More times than not, the ball either misses completely or bangs off the rim into a cluster of outstretched hands. For some odd reason that I have never figured out, they don’t jump. They stand flat-footed, arms outstretched, and fingers wiggling just so, hoping the ball touches their hands so they can grab it and pull it down through the crowd.

At this point in their progress, they haven’t learned to pass well or even at all. It is dribbling, dribbling, one side to the other, back and forth, until they are close to the basket, usually dribbling and backing up simultaneously. The person then turns to shoot. If they cannot shoot, they look at their teammate about 2.5 feet away and shove the ball toward them. That person takes the ball and dribbles some, and then shoots if she can. If it doesn’t go in, then the hands and fingers of at least seven girls reach up, all trying to capture the ball until someone magically grabs it.

Amazingly, someone always grabs it, and soon, they are all tromping, pell-mell, down the court. If one of the girls dribbles too fast, her feet get in the way of the basketball, and the ball bounces out of bounds. The one whose feet got in the way usually drops her head, shakes it a little until someone gives her a high five, and they all rush to the other end to repeat.

No matter who is winning, everyone cheers them on. Lots of “good jobs,” “great defense,” “get down the court,” “just shoot the ball,” “jump for the rebound,” or “keep shooting” emanate from the full bleachers. Grandparents, mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, friends, even future scouts all cheer them on, trying to make sure no one feels bad about a missed pass, several shots at the hoop, oscillating defense and offense, especially the bunching and milling as they gravitate down the court and around the key.

A couple of times, maybe around my mile and two-mile mark on my bike, tears haphazardly crept down my cheeks as I remembered our own girls playing, the milling around and bunching up, the no pass playing, just dribbling and the shooting and the missing and the dejection, the standing flat-footed while trying to rebound, and finally the one ball through the hoop as slick as it can be, the cheering, the running back down the court, the high fives, and the smiles as if nothing else matter in the world than that moment.


Ah, the memories of youth basketball! When you think of them, the fun, the frustrating moments, and the exhilarating times will emerge, and the emotions will ebb and flow just like young girls and boys running and up and down the court, sometimes not knowing exactly what to do but not caring because they are experiencing a moment in their own zone. 

Thursday, January 6, 2022

Fifteen ways to have a more positive 2022

 Fifteen ways to have a more positive 2022

Darrel L. Hammon with help from lots of friends in the world


Our 2021 was filled with both challenges and positives. None of us can deny the craziness of 2021 and the many challenges that so many have suffered. Yes, it has been a tough year for all of us in some minute or grand way. Consequently, I asked myself: How can I help make 2022 more positive than 2021? Answer: I asked my Facebook and Instagram friends to send me their thoughts and suggestions about how they are going to make 2022 a more positive year.

I collected their comments, thoughts, and suggestions and organized them thematically into fifteen categories to read, contemplate, reflect, incorporate into your own lives, and share with others. They are not in any hierarchical list. It is a list that can be shuffled in any way you desire.

Show more respect, love, and compassion
Last year was one of the most challenging years I have seen. Many, many people experienced challenging things. One of the major challenges was that people rose up and were vicious and disrespectful to each other, their families, and people they didn’t even know. When that type of hatred roams the streets and social media, no wonder people are feeling a bit skittish. Ken Aird (Utah) wrote just three words: “Respect, Love, Compassion” to describe what he is going to do. Amy Dyer (Utah) wrote, “Something that I want to do this year is be more prayerful and thoughtful about how I’m treating those around me!”

Sonja Diaz (Chile) wishes to show “love and understanding for every person and have compassion for even the most defenseless so they do not suffer.” She also wants peace and love.

For any of us, showing respect, compassion, peace, and love for those in our own lives will help us become more positive and kinder. I think if we were more thoughtful and compassionate about those around us, we would feel better about who we are.

Use writing to help
Lots of people suggested that they were going to use writing as a way to become more positive and see things in a positive light. Writing can be so therapeutic. Cynthia Egbert (Colorado) said, “I have a plan to spend at least the first two weeks of January journaling about what I have learned over the past two years. This may end up taking all the month of January but I feel the need to clearly see the gains I and my family have made in the most trying of circumstances. I believe this will strengthen us to face what is still coming.”

Another journal writer, Marian C Hobson (South Carolina), wants to “regularly use my spiritual thoughts journal to remind me of the way God is working in my life and teaching me.”

Stephen Lowry (Idaho) told me via a telephone call that he is going to “post something positive in my journal every day like acts by someone else that made my day brighter. I want to watch for good things that people do, not necessarily the bad things that I normally do.”

Lohany Smith (Texas) wrote that “I want to enjoy more the present moment instead of thinking about what’s next. And journaling more about the things I learn throughout the year.”

Being able to focus on the good things and not the bad will definitely help us climb out of any negative abyss.


Elevate your life by small moments and steps
The state of Utah has a tagline “Life Elevated.” What a great tagline. In our mission, we converted that tagline into “Mission Elevated.” Perhaps, each of us can determine how we can elevate our lives through a variety of means.

For example, Anne Marie Winters Harmon (Utah) offered up what she is going to do to elevate her life: “I have a goal to make time for the Lord every day. I have taken this challenge from President Russell M. Nelson and want to continue this. Ways that I plan to do this is to set aside time to meditate and know God is there. I also plan to elevate my scripture study for the preparation of weekly temple attendance. I look back and remember to elevate my life even by small moments and steps. I also have other goals of keeping my mind strong as well as my physical body. I strive every day to take time to exercise and push myself to a physical limit. Sometimes those limits we think we have, only exist in our minds. Overall I want to feel God's love and spirit continually.”

Elevating our lives, even by small or incremental steps, will allow us to see the bigger picture.

Center yourself on Christ
For many people who commented on how they are going to make 2022 a more positive year, they want to turn to or center on Christ. Tyson Crowther now going to college in Idaho stated, “I don’t have to be perfect. I just have to center myself on Christ and make him a bigger part of my family’s life.”

When you center yourself on a higher power, we learn as Kristen Vance Larsen (Utah) has recognized over the years that “learning requires experiences and challenges. This has scared me in the past and undoubtedly will continue to be overwhelming at times. Hopefully, the Lord will be compassionate, and I will be teachable; otherwise, the challenges will need to be greater or repeated in order for me to truly learn. I trust that these things will all be for my good.”

Marlene Shirley (Utah) understands where true joy comes from: “When there are hard days I am going to try harder to remember that true joy comes from living the Gospel and being a disciple of Jesus Christ. No one can take away my relationship with the Savior.”

Christian Nkwocha, a young man from Nigeria who lost both his father and mother within a few months of each other in 2021 from illness and COVID offered this counsel: “I encourage my beloved brothers and sisters as we are about to enter 2022 we need to increase our faith and regular studying in our scriptures use the same opportunity to invite friends and families to come unto Christ.” Even though he and his two sisters have gone through much tribulation, he said, “ Let not our hearts be troubled. Let's increase our faith and invite the Lord to be the finisher of our faith.”

Whatever your religious beliefs are, centering on Christ or a higher power may strengthen your faith and hope in positive things.


Think of tender mercies and blessings and look for the good in our lives
Often the big things in our lives do not appear readily, if at all, but the little things do. Tana Thorley Whicker (Montana) wrote: “I mentally review my day and look for “tender mercies” (the little blessings in life). Without fail, they’re there, but I often miss them if I don’t consciously look for them in my day.” Perhaps, Diane Hall (Utah) has a purpose in 2022 that we should all adopt: “I’m going to purposely look for the good.”

Sandy Mellows Pallesen Davis (Nevada) just went through a challenging yet positive 2021, including the death of her father. Sandy wholeheartedly believes that 2022 will be positive “if we focus on family and what we do have. In 2022, we will strive to enjoy every day and be thankful for God’s blessings. We will be exploring the USA in our RV and just enjoying life.”

Looking for the tender mercies or the good in our lives will help us chase away the negativity in our lives.

Be more positive in thoughts and actions
Coupled with compassion is being more positive in thoughts and actions. Myrna Newman Williams (Idaho) wrote about what she is going to do to be more positive: “I am challenging myself, every day to make it through that day without saying one negative thing about me or anyone else or life.

Josh Baker (West Virginia) is including his family in his suggestion: “Our family will be doing a gratitude and positivity journal. Friends that visit will also contribute to the book.” How exciting is this?

Personally, I think talking about and demonstrating positivity helps dissipate some of the negativity. One of the things I would like to do this year is to create a podcast that highlights positive people, positive adventures, positive philosophy, etc. Of course, I know I will need help and hope to reach out to those who can help me.


Remember who you are and what you represent
I truly believe that if people would remember who they are and try to represent themselves in positive and healthy ways, their lives would change for the better. Erika Y Martinez’s (Texas) suggestion is a phenomenal one: “I genuinely forget, at times, who I truly am. I get disappointed, frustrated, and mad at myself! So, my goal for this next year is to remind myself every time a thought comes into mind that I am a daughter of God! If the thought is negative in any way, it's going to be replaced with an elevating phrase!”

Follow through on your goals
Many of us set goals on January 1 of every year and then cheerfully begin. Within a week or two or even a month or two, our motivation to complete our goals diminishes, and our annual goals fall to the wayside. Corrin Adams from Utah offered a potential solution: “I think for me I'm using the new year to really focus on my current goals and start new goals.” Part of focusing on and starting the goals is a re-evaluation period every month or week or however long your goals are. We must be diligent in this assessment and just not quit doing them.

Even as far away as the Dominican Republic, Federico Rosario wants to become an entrepreneur and “sell household items.” Plus, Federico’s other goal is to “follow Christ and continue to go forward with the help of God who will give me wisdom.”

Continue what you begin!


Do fun family projects and family history
Many of us have family members who live fairly close to us. Others are not so lucky. Fortunately, because of the pandemic, we have all learned how to use a variety of video conferencing programs. Colleen Hammon Poole (Utah) whose children and grandchildren live all over offered a great solution to connect families in a positive way: “For Christmas, we received a question-a-week family history project. At the end of the year, we get a hardcover book of what we submitted. Fun idea—we are giving it a green light in 2022.” Marianne Christensen (Idaho) said she was going to finish her life history and her family albums, “both fun family projects.”

The old adage “families that play and learn together” stay together.

Change our attitude

Jackie ZoBell Chan (Canada) a unique way to help us to think about attitude: “People could have had the exact same experiences and someone had a great year and the other person had a miserable year. The difference is in the attitude. I had a great year by the way.” Jackie also mentioned laughing definitely changes her attitude more than most things: “I’m going to make 2022 even better by laughing more. When something doesn’t go my way, when the kids are being annoying, I’m going to laugh more. It will make 2022 lots of fun!”

Marlene Shirley (Utah) said, “I am going to try harder to not let the circumstances of life prevent me from feeling joy.”

Changing our attitudes will cause us to see the real joy in our lives.

Be more grateful and thankful for everything, even the small things
Probably one of the most prolific suggestions was to be grateful for what you have. People tend to only moan and groan about what they do not have or wish they had. Carl Harris (California) offered a suggestion to all of us: “Have a greater attitude of gratitude for blessings both seen and unseen towards our Father in Heaven and our Savior Jesus Christ!”

Robin Jergins, an Idahoan now living in Utah, was similarly succinct: “Focus on gratitude and serving others.”

Diana L. Kramer (California) was adamant about showing gratitude in 2022: “I want to show gratitude in physical and spoken ways. Giving a sincere compliment, noting someone’s efforts in challenges they may face, sending birthday cards, (yep, good old paper and stamps), greeting people I meet while out & about, sending notes to someone I’m thinking about, telling my family I LOVE YOU, whenever we talk. That should keep me busy.”

Carl, Robin, and Diane are absolutely correct. The more we focus on gratitude, we will place a priority on being thankful for what we have.


Serve others and practice charity
Serving others and practicing charity will definitely keep us off the “Woe is me” scale. David Hansen (California) had two keen insights into how to serve and help others: 1) Never let others I come in contact with go unnoticed. 2. Never suppress a charitable thought.” For him, it is about letting others know how important they are. Marianne Christensen (Idaho) also believes that “service weekly or even daily if I can” will enhance her 2022.

When we do things for others, we begin to forget about ourselves. We begin to see outward, not inward.

Be healthy
We all know that being healthy leads to a more positive life and lifestyle. Merrill McCracken (Idaho) was very pragmatic about his suggestion for a more positive 2022: “Take more precautions against COVID-like vaccines. That will help prevent the spread and save lives. Also will make life easier for everyone.” Josh Baker (West Virginia) commented that “personally, it is time for me to cut out some junk food from my diet.”

Most of us can probably think of just doing or not doing one thing that will enhance our overall health happiness.

Let learning become a more active part of my life
Learning new things often creates a newness that realigns our life more positively and fully. Kristen Vance Larsen (Utah) said one of her main goals was to ask, “What can I learn?” and “What more can I learn?” She went on to say that “Learning excites me and brings me joy, as well as delivers understanding and purpose to what I do. Even when everything falls apart or I fail miserably—if I ask, ‘what can I learn’? then everything will work for my good.”

Nathan Chase (Florida) loves the idea of learning new things. His counsel for us and himself is fairly robust: “I think I’m going to try new hobbies and activities I haven’t tried before. There’s so much to explore.”

One of the things that Eulalie Christensen (Idaho) wants to study deeply and practice “how to use conflict to create rather than contend. I have become aware of how we need to not fear or avoid conflict but embrace it and use it as our Father in Heaven does to build, but it’s something I have not practiced or seen done much so I am very interested in learning how to achieve this.”

Exploring and learning will always occupy our time and our minds with so many new and invigorating things that we will not have time to be negative.


Wallow and moan for a bit, then move forward in the best way

Dede Meredith Dyer (Utah) received some incredible advice from a wise woman years ago that she wants to share with us: “When you’re having a hard time, set a time limit, think about it, wallow in self-pity, beat yourself up about a bad decision, etc., whatever you need to do (cry, scream), then after your five, ten, fifteen minutes (or whatever time limit but not too long), your focus should be on how to move forward in the best way and what you are grateful for that is currently helping and supporting you and those you love.”

Conversely, Tamy Rogers (Alaska) does not believe in wallowing and moaning for a bit. Rather, she says, “Don’t go back and think, what should I have done? Why didn't I do that? or Why did I do that and what if I did or didn't do? or Why didn’t I listen to the Spirit when He was telling me what to do? And as the day ends count your blessings instead of your sheep.”

Thus, wallowing and moaning for a brief time may be okay to do. Just do not linger longer than you should. Move forward quickly, always looking forward to completing your goals and tasks.

Conclusion:

As you read these suggestions carefully, you will discover that many people are making changes in their lives and the lives of their families. They want to feel different than they did last year. They want to be different and make a difference in their lives and the lives of others.

As you contemplate your 2022, I sincerely hope you will be wise in making your goals and keeping them. Perhaps, your assessment is to tell someone about your goals, hire or engage a mentor or a coach to keep you on task. Whatever you decide to do, keep doing it, no matter how challenging it might be, and you will feel more positive and motivated than you ever have. Promise!

Thanks to everyone who participated by sharing with me your goals. I know there are many others who are sharing their thoughts and goals with others. I would love to hear how you are doing with your goals.

Happy 2022!


Tuesday, December 21, 2021

“Learning and studying out of the best books will help us overcome our challenges”

“Learning and studying out of the best books will help us overcome our challenges”
Darrel L. Hammon
December 2021

In the Doctrine and Covenants 88:118, the Lord taught….”teach one another words of wisdom; yea, seek ye out of the best books words of wisdom; seeking learning, even by study and also by faith” (see also Doctrine and Covenants 90:15).

On Monday morning, I was reading and studying from my most favorite book, the Book of Mormon. I was re-reading the informative letters between Captain Moroni, the Chief Captain over all the armies; and Pahoran, the Chief Judge and Governor of the land. Moroni was direct and to the point. This was a time of great war and internal turmoil between the Lamanites and the Nephites. Not only were these two great leaders fighting the Lamanites, but they were also trying to combat the internal political strife caused by the King-men.

As I read these two letters again, I thought to myself, “What am I supposed to learn from this to help me today?” It came to me: What Moroni and Pahoran were attempting to do was to deliver themselves from some very bad political and war situations. In fact, it was so grievous that the armies were suffering, Pahoran had been ousted from the Capitol, and the Lamanites were destroying everything around them.

While our own personal situation may not be as extreme as they were suffering, people around the world are experiencing exactly those things. The pandemic has created such havoc, some perceived, some conjured up, but mostly real.

After reading and studying these two letters that were preserved for our time, I knew exactly why Mormon inserted them into “the most correct book.” They were written to help us break out of slumps or very bad situations, especially those in which we currently find ourselves.

The following are concepts/principles that I learned:

We must be obedient to the commandments of God and adhere to the His word.
Being obedient to God’s commandments was my number one takeaway. For those who have read this passage and others understand that disobedience to God’s commandments creates so many issues. When we blatantly disobey the commandments, God’s blessings may not come as readily as they need to come. Early on in the Book of Mormon, the Prophet Lehi says to his family, “…Inasmuch as ye shall keep my commandment, ye shall prosper in the land” (1 Nephi 2:20), and this promise is repeated several time throughout the book.

We must not be slothful in our actions and daily doings.
When I read this passage, I could not help but think of the movie Zootopia and the incredible funny scene with the sloth at the DMV. I have now seen it many times and still laugh aloud. Slothful means lazy, indolent. Some of us have not cleaned our houses or apartments since the pandemic emerged from its dark abyss. Some have even failed to wash or even change their clothes. Really? Of course, many people were a bit slothful even before the pandemic, and now the pandemic has become the reason de jour for everyone’s slothfulness—and pretty much any other challenge. Being slothful does not really become us.

We must not forget all the wonderful things that we have received like blessings and overcoming other challenges.
Oh, the challenges of forgetfulness and not remembering. And it isn’t just the mature people of the world who experience this challenge. During challenging times, we “forget” about the good times, the blessings, and the miracles that have occurred in our lives. They simply slide out of vision when bad things begin to happen to us, many of them during burdensome times. It is imperative during these challenging times that we remember the good that has happened in our lives, the times we were blessed, especially during the dark times in our lives.

We must not sit in idleness.
During the pandemic, many of us were cloistered at home, some of us did not have a job, and others just sat around home doing nothing, even though so many tasks needed to be done. Moroni called this “idleness.” In essence, idleness is doing nothing when something ought to be done. The term “hanging out” comes to my mind. So many people have said to me when I have asked, “What have you been doing these days?” “Oh,” they say, “just hanging out.” I want to say, “What are you accomplishing?” The answer would probably be “nothing,” “nada.” I am not saying that hanging out is all bad. Sometimes, we need some downtime. But not all day or all week or for several weeks.

We must be up and doing and bestir ourselves.
I love this phrase Captain Moroni used, “Be up and doing.” That is diametrical opposed to idleness.” “Bestir” means “make physical and mental effort; exert or rouse oneself” (See Google search for “bestir” meaning in English). It is reminiscent of “be up and doing.” Some people have said to me, “Ah, I just cannot motivate myself.” Ironically, when we are up and doing good things or doing that project that has needed to be done for ages motivates us, propels us forward. Most good things occur because we “rouse ourselves” to do something. We have alarms on our phones to “rouse” us to do something at a particular time. Others have someone call them to help them remember. We can make a mental effort to do something, but it is the actual physical getting up and doing by our personal bestirring ourselves. We must remember how powerful our choices can be.

We must clean the inward vessel
What is the “inward vessel”? It is that which is inside of us. It is the core from which all transpires. We can read all the self-help books we want. We can watch or listen to all of the positivity podcasts there are. We can even listen to people all day who tell us to rise up and do more. But what must happen first is that cleansing from within us, the rooting out of the negativity and the “bad vibes” that doth beset us. Yes, it will take some doing and help along the way. The ultimate and most important choice is ours, ours alone, to get us going.

We must show a true spirit of freedom.
Freedom is not just a political thing. We sometimes hold ourselves hostage from our inability to choose, our inactions, our slothful ways of not doing anything. Our addictions hold us hostages. Our negative thoughts hold us hostage. Anything that causes us to do not move forward and accomplish our goals holds us hostage. We are free when we allow ourselves to move forward, onward and upward.

We must have exceeding faith and patience in our tribulations.
This is definitely a challenging one. Tribulations, burdens, and challenges in our lives somehow put us in a vulnerable state and cause us anxiety. We feel helpless and do not know what to do. Having faith that these challenges will pass is important. Mormon describes this important choice: “The Lord did strengthen that they could bear up their burdens with ease, and they did submit cheerfully and with patience” (Mosiah 24:15). I cannot tell you how many I have read this passage and others like it when tribulations and challenges came gushing over me like waves in an ocean. It has always given me comfort and the will—yes, the faith—to “submit cheerfully.”

We must rejoice in the greatness of hearts of those around us.
I do not know about you, but we have had so many people in our circle of influence and people we do not know who have posted positive things, sent us notes and texts and even letters, pulled us aside and talked to us. Many have brought us goodies and treats. These things have cheered us up and propelled us to do the same. People around us make an enormous difference, and we must rejoice with them because of the greatness of their hearts and their efforts to make things better.

We must put our trust in God.

I love to trust in God. He has helped us, blessed us, motivated us, and loved us in so many ways throughout our lives. We know He loves us. We are His children. He wants us to succeed and wants to help us. Often, though, He has to nudge us in ways that help us re-align ourselves with Him and His plan for us. We call it the “covenant path.” He has given us the way to follow. That is what we have to do. If we love Him, we must trust Him and do what He has asked us to do. When we put our trust in Him, He will gently guide us in the right way.

We must resist evil.
There is so much evil in the world today. I dislike watching the news and seeing what people do to other people, the rampant drug—legal and illegal—use, the shameless proliferation of pornography and all its ills, the increase in bullying and fraud, the persistent and careless taking of lives for whatever reason, the degradation of families and the roles of parents in families, the disrespect of people’s property, the stealing of anything that is not tied down, the ongoing destructive behavior and actions, and a host of other insidious evils that ravage the earth. This. All. Must. Stop! If not, we will have to bear the burdens of more tribulations, challenges, destruction, and plagues.

We must counsel with others and make a plan to overcome the challenges.
Doing anything alone is often taxing. Moroni and Pahoran were at odds with each other, but they counseled together and decided the best course of action, which proved successful in the end. We, too, must counsel with our spouses, our families, our clergy, or someone whom we trust. Develop a plan together to drag yourself out of destructive situations, self-induced slothfulness, and other challenges. Making and completing worthwhile and change-oriented goals are still in vogue. If there is something in your life that does not allow you to progress and grow and develop into someone you want to be or need to be, then ask for help to accomplish those tasks. There are lots of us all out there who are here to help.

We must not judge others.
One of the most important principles that I learned from reading these two Book of Mormon letters was not judging others. Our society is so inclined to judge others, whether we know them or not. Social media promulgates this type of judgement. People post things, say things, write things that are not true or have trappings of truthfulness but are lies that somehow people believe. We judge people by how they look, what clothes they wear, how many posts they have, where they live, how much money they make, and the color of their skin. Christ was very specific when He taught, “Judge not that ye be not judged. For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall by judged; and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measure to you again” (3 Nephi 14:1-2; Matthew 7:1-2). Jesus Christ Himself declared, “A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another” (John 13:34).

Conclusion:
Reading and studying good books will always help us find truth. Of course, finding truth is important, but implementing it in appropriate ways is even better. Moroni’s and Pahoran’s letters helped me understand what I need to do in challenging times. These letters propel me to be better, do better, and become a better person than I have been—whether in calm times or challenging times.



Sunday, December 12, 2021

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Merry Christmas

We have been busy this year as it has been a full year since we returned from the California Riverside Mission. After purchasing a patio home in a 55+ community at the end of December 2020, my brother Brad came and renovated the place. We moved in officially in April 2021. We have met some incredible people who live here in this community.


Joanne's collection of snowmen

We had a wonderful mission reunion in April with over 200 of our former missionaries. Only about 115 had said they were coming. The word went out, and you all know what happens with social media and texting. It was so good to see all of them and reminisce about the mission and hear what is happening in their lives. Many of them have stopped by with their families, fiancés, and wives and babies. What a treat it is to see them in a different setting and environment. Most of them are going to school, working, and trying to progress in this ever-changing world.

April 2021 Mission Reunion Photo

We were able to spend some time with Hailey, Joseph, Clark, and Avonlea. We went to Riverfront Park in Spokane, played games, watched movies, read stories together, walked the Eastern Washington University Campus, and had an entertaining time with them. Clark and Avonlea are growing up too quickly.


Joseph and Clark
Hailey, Joanne, and Avonlea

It is had been delightful being close to Anna Rose, Christiaan, Emiline, and William. We had the privilege of watching Emiline grow into a star softball pitcher and William play his heart out in soccer. Plus, they both had piano recitals, which were delightful because of the musical growth in both of them. It has been fun to spend time and play games together.

Emiline and Grandma

Grandma and Grandpa, William, and Emiline

The Johnson Family at a recent wedding reception

In August, we also spent some time at Bear Lake with two of our senior missionary couples, Kerry and Marlene Shirley and Alan and Shelly Glaus. The Shirleys own the cabin, and we had such a great time, sitting on the deck overlooking Bear Lake, playing miniature golf (Joanne and I won!), playing lots and lots of games, taking walks and photos, watching the sun set and rise, eating great food, and enjoying each other’s company. It is always a delight to be with great people.

Darrel and Joanne, Kerry and Marlene Shirley, and Alan and Shelly Glaus

We trundled to St. George at the end of September and spent a couple of days with some of the senior missionaries who served with us in the Caribbean Area/Dominican Republic. What a delight to see them! We participated in workshops, went to the new Family History Center, had a picnic in the pavilion by the new temple, and went to “The Count of Monte Cristo” at Tuacahn. It was one of the coldest nights we have spent in a long time. It was a good thing we had brought coats, gloves, and a blanket. It was a very chilly night. The play was well done, and we enjoyed it thoroughly, despite the cold wind blowing across our backs.


The Caribbean group at the historic Pine Valley Church

One of the highlights this year was a delightful evening and dinner at John and Jana Mullen’s home in north Salt Lake in October. They had also invited Mel and Linda Reeves and Paul and Karen Smart. We all served as mission presidents and spouses in the California Riverside Mission and represent four generations of missionaries who served there.

Darrel and Joanne Hammon, John and Jana Mullen,
Paul and Karen Smart, Mel and Linda Reeves 

Having been with all these missionaries, young and more mature, and doing service in any capacity have taught us the important principle of eternal friends and staying in touch.

We spent a wonderful Thanksgiving with our daughter Anna Rose, Christiaan, Emiline, and William; Joanne's brother John, his wife LaWane and daughter Nicole; and Christiaan's mother Heather. Lots of delicious food and wonderful people we love dearly! 

Thanksgiving at Anna Rose and Christiaan's house

Joanne continues to work as an accessioner at LabCorp and is having an enjoyable time working with blood samples and being the only LabCorp person in the entire Revere Health Building in Provo. She contracted COVID at the end of October although we have had both vaccinations and were waiting for the booster. She is able to sew periodically and is currently working on a quilt that she took with her on our mission but didn’t see the light of day for three years.

Christmas tree and star in Pioneer Park Provo

Darrel designated November as his “poetry month,” and posted an original poem, most of them having been written in November, each day. He had an exciting time posting the poems although some of them were posted much later in the day than he expected. You can read them all at http://darrelhammon.blogspot.com/.

Pioneer Park Provo

Darrel began volunteering at the Provo City Center Temple. What a privilege it is to serve in the temple. Plus, he resurrected his leadership and life coaching business and is having an enjoyable time with a variety of clients who are doing or wanting to do so many things.


Provo City Temple

We do hope you all experience an incredible and enjoyable Christmas and holiday season, one filled with joy, happiness, and love for all people. We love you and wish you a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Blown glass bulb from the Oregon coast


 Merry Christmas and 

Happy Holiday to All!

Tuesday, November 30, 2021

Bulmarito

Poem Day 30--Final day for the November poetry month

The following poem comes from an experience I had years ago in Menan, Idaho, that ended up as an essay not shared with many. After Joanne and I read Elizabeth Acevedo's Clap When You Land, I knew I needed to do what Acevedo did: Construct the story in narrative poetic form. It's rather long but worth the read. Grab your tissues because you will need them....

Bulmarito

In the dark night, a car lleno de niños
full of children
and a father
skid sideway,
smash into a cement embankment,
as the car attempts to round the curb.

The police arrive, red lights flashing,
only to find two young children already dead,
one almost dead who dies
en route to the hospital.

The other three children
and their father
are rushed to the nearby hospital
along the banks of the Snake River.
My call comes early the next morning.

A lump races to my throat,
sticks there like Elmer’s glue in your palm,
and the words “Why?” Why? Why?”
hang on my lips like shreds of cheese
from a hot pizza and cling there,
too afraid to leave and be exposed
to an unwanted answer.

I rush to the hospital,
see their diminutive mother,
standing alone and frail,
who rushes into my arms,
sobbing, shaking from grief, repeating
Mi Mario. Mi Juanita! Mi Benjamin!”
I ask her about the other three niños
and her husband.

We quietly go from room to room.
In one room, her husband is hooked up 
to tube after tube,
wire after wire, in a coma
from whence there is ultimately no return.
Eduardo lies with a broken collar bone
and badly cut up mouth and lips.
Graciela, the oldest, is covered with bruises,
her arm is in a cast,
her hair tangled around her face,
now laced with a scowl,
one that will remain
for some time, maybe even years.

The nurse enters, whispers to me
the little boy is crying for me.
For me? Why not his mother?
I follow the nurse, the words “why”
still on my lips, still stuck,
still unwilling to come out.

His room is dark, quiet,
a whir of machines interrupting
the dark with their sounds and lights.

The nurse tells me they amputated the right leg
just below the knee and even contemplated
taking the other but refrained.

A small white bowl of Jell-O
sits undisturbed by his bed stand.
The nurse said he has not touched any food,
even refused, but that he needs to eat something.
“Will you try to feed him?” she asks quietly.

Bulmarito, estoy aquí” I am here.
I whisper quietly, not wanting to interrupt his peace.
The niño, only eight, looks up at me
through those big butterfly eyes, tries to smile.
Me patita me duele,” My foot hurts,
he whispers through chapped and puffy lips.

I touch his forehead, too warmish,
sweep a couple of black curls out of his eyes.
His small brown face is soft
with no scratches or bruises.
A sense of both pain and peace
rest on his brown cheeks.

I lift a spoon half full of Jell-O.
Hay que comer un poquito, Bulmarito,”
“You have to eat just a little,” I say,
lifting the spoon to his lips.

Poco a poco, little by little,
he slurps bite after bite,
quietly using his tongue and teeth
until each spoonful is gone,
swallowing carefully
until nothing remains in the bowl.

I sit the bowl back on the little table.
I look back at Bulmarito,
so tiny and brown in that big bed,
covered with white blankets and white sheets.

Mi… patita… me… duele…!
My foot hurts!  
he keeps repeating,
Slower slower
until those big eye lashes close shut,
too tired to keep open.

I just stare at him,
wonder about his future,
his family’s future,
more so about tomorrow,
while my own tears stream down my cheeks
and land plentifully on the white blanket.

I then smooth out the blanket
where his right leg should have been.


 

Monday, November 29, 2021

I am a connoisseur of potatoes

Poem Day 29

Thanks to https://www.idahofb.org/ for the use of the photo of Idaho spuds.

I am a connoisseur of potatoes

Potatoes or spuds grow naturally in Idaho.
Sometimes, I think someone planted them
there right after the volcanic ash turned into
this deep rich soil that loves potatoes,
coos them to grow big and delicious
and grow they do, feeling right at home
with hot days and cool high desert evenings.

I picked spuds as a kid, filling
those rubberized wired baskets x 2
for about seven cents a sack.
Our lunches probably cost us more
than what we made, but the moon pies were great,
washed down with Shasta Tiki Punch.

I have eaten potatoes in so many ways—
baked, fried, cut up in French fries drenched
in olive oil and sprinkled with ranch powder
and baked in the oven, au gratin, cheesy potatoes,
fake potatoes made from pearl flakes,
(on gloomy days renamed funeral potatoes),
boiled potatoes, mashed potatoes and gravy,
hash browns, crinkle cut, potato chips,
and even raw potatoes with lots of salt
when you are hungry out moving
sprinkler pipe on a sweltering day.

On wet lines, you could literally bury your hand
deep into the sandy soil, feel around
for a new potato, gently freeing it
from its root, not disturbing the others,
wash it off in the sprinkler water, probably not as sanitary
as mother would have liked, pulled out
your Morton mini-salt shaker,
kept in your back pocket for opportune times
like these, sprinkling on an appropriate amount of salt,
and biting into it, savoring and mincing a bit
the crispness and raw flavor of spuds.

I have to say, though, baked potatoes are my favorite,
topped with all the accoutrements of fine dining:
chili, onions, cheese, sometimes broccoli or cauliflower,
some butter but mostly ranch dressing, a smidge
of sour cream, with a boiled egg cut delicately
and sprinkled on top of the whole potato.
Of course, I never liked the skins—
I know where they have been.
Some say the skins are the best part…Really?
These people must be from another planet.

I just like the white fluffy innards of baked Russets
with all those ingredient smooshed together.
There is something about the delicate naturalness
of spuds, no matter how you cook them.
I guess you could say I am a connoisseur of potatoes,
commonly known as spuds in eastern Idaho.

Photo by Dennis Hammon of Dennis Hammon Photograph
The Menan Buttes: a view from Rexburg