Sunday, October 17, 2021

I Love Gazing at Clouds!

 I haven't posted a video poem for some time, so I thought I would today. I have been impressed by the many clouds I have seen recently, especially the ones that looked like something. Thus emerged the poem "I Love Gazing at Clouds." It's about two minutes long. Enjoy! I would love to hear what you see in the clouds when you look at them.

I Love Gazing at Clouds



Clouds appear sometimes out of nowhere,
bunched up like cattle, then meander
through wind tunnels, change into shapes
like dolphins, frogs, swans, snakes, bears,
elephants, and a host of other things
that our eyes and minds can imagine
or maybe even conjure up.

Some of us can see them,
spot them in the sky as they whip around
and coalesce into something we know.

Our minds must see beyond the grays,
whites, purples, and all shades in between,
especially those that come
from glorious sunsets in the west
or during magnificent rain storms,
or when the sun appears
from behind angry clouds and calms them.

Puffy clouds, skinny clouds, elongated clouds,
all clouds, none exactly the same,
shift and change into vivid details
that we can see stretched across the sky. 


Perhaps, we shape them on our own,
focusing on one small gray cloud
in the middle of a big white one,
seeing eyes, maybe a lion’s tail
or even an elephant’s trunk and dragons’ feet.

Other clouds shift into being
animals in exotic zoos
or those in the wilds of Montana
or even those in our own backyards.

To others, clouds look like clouds,
just clouds, nothing more, nothing less.
They cannot see beyond
the whiteness of the fluff.

Perhaps, it’s only the creative minds,
the thinking minds, the conjuring minds
that can see images, real images,
that sweep down, open our eyes
to seeing and believing that they are real—
there on the stages of the sky,
above us and around us, like a circus.

Oh, the beauty of gazing at clouds
and becoming the spectators of it all.

Sunday, October 3, 2021

The Caribbean Experience in St. George!

The Caribbean Experience in St. George!

Recently, we had the incredible opportunity to gather with our friends who served in the Caribbean area/Dominican Republic when we served there. Each year, we gather in St. George to see how we are all doing, attend a play or two at Tuacahn, listen to the cowboy poet Lynn Snow, eat more food than we should, attend classes, chat about our lives and the past, visit sites around the area, and just enjoy each other’s company.

This year was no different.

We enjoyed a family history class at the new Family Search Center, near the St. George Temple. We were wowed by the professionalism of the missionaries serving there, and we all learned we still have lots of family history work to do. Probably the best part was that we found out we are all related in some way, even 14th cousins! 


Brother and Sister Rappleye wowed us with their historical discussion about founding of the Church in the Dominican Republic and what role they played. Plus, they served as temple president and matron of the Santo Domingo Temple. The whole presentation was fascinating! It seemed that miracle after miracle after miracle abounded in that country for Church to grow and develop as quickly as it did. One of the original families—the Amparo family—who helped organize the church there had been living in LA for many years before they decided they should return to the DR and help the Church. They arrived just two days before the Rappleye family. Together, they initiated the path for the Church to become what it is today. Amazing story!


We also listened to Marty Heaton talk about his excavation and study on what he believes is the Land Bountiful in Yemen. They have been doing research for several years, and he firmly believes he has found the place where Bountiful was. His presentation and research were interesting, and we loved the pictures of where he thinks Bountiful is.

During the same afternoon, we listened to Mary and Stacy from Intermountain Healthcare who came to talk to us about “Advanced Health Care Directives” and what we all need to do to prepare us for any medical challenges that might—or probably will—come upon us during our lifetimes.

Mark Tanner, one of the original DR missionaries and now attorney, also talked to us about trusts, probate, and other related questions. Again, we all discovered we have some work to do to make sure we are up to date on our financial documents, including completing the advanced health care directives.

Intermittently during the two days, Lynn Snow would say, “It’s time for a poem.” Then, he donned his cowboy hat for the authenticity and then launched in a cowboy poem, laced with humor and cowboy rhyme that makes the words chime. We are always delighted to watch Lynn recite cowboy poetry! He has several dozen memorized.


On Wednesday night, we all went to Tuacahn and attended the play “The Count of Monte Cristo.”  It was a bit chilly during the play. We enjoyed the singing and the characters. It had been some time since we had read the book and watched the movie.



After we arrived, we went to the Café to visit with Ellen who was my administrative assistant at UVU. It was a great conversation.


The next day, we had breakfast with the group before we headed out to the Pine Valley Chapel and the Mountain Meadow Massacre site. The drive out was absolutely beautiful. We hadn’t driven that way before. The Pine Valley Chapel was nestled among a group of trees and was just peaceful.


The Pine Valley Chapel is a historical meetinghouse of the Church that the settlers built in the valley in 1873. The branch continues to meet in the building each week. During the summer, they sometimes have up to 900 people who attend, inside and outside on the lawn. The uniqueness of the building was fascinating. A local settler and shipbuilder Ebenezer Bryce designed the building, using shipbuilding techniques because he been a shipbuilder in an earlier life.


We enjoyed being there. We listened to Brother and Sister Bergstrom who have lived in Pine Valley for years and are now “guides” groups because the Branch president told the Brethren their little branch would host visits to the building. They were a cute couple who answered all of our questions and gave insights in the various “secrets” within the building like the signature of one of the workers who did the feathering of paint from the old times. When we finished our tour of the Chapel, we took pictures of the group to remember our trip there.


Then, we drove over to the Mountain Meadow Massacre site. The sun was shining, but the wind made it a bit chilly for us. We donned our jackets and sweatshirts and braved the wind. The site had some beautiful plaques. Around the area were plaques and information about each individual who was killed there, including the young people. There were so many youth who were murdered during those tumultuous days. These people were from Arkansas and were passing through. The local militia attacked them and killed them and then blamed the native Americans for doing it. Ultimately, the leader of the militia, a guy named “Lee” was punished by death on the same site he had initiated all of killing. This was one of the darkest days for the Church.


While everyone went back to the cars, I stayed and walked the loop where there were other plaques. One plaque was especially memorable: “Ever Remembered: In honor to those who rest in this field. They were innocent and died in unjust attacks that began on September 7, 1857. They were defending their friends and families who buried them before leaving the protection of their camps. To the other victim of the Mountain Meadows Massacre who lie in unknown graves, rest in peace, and be assured you are remembered.”


I was saddened by this note and stood there, looking out across the large green field, the wind whipping about me. For that brief moment, I felt them and the enormous loss they must have felt when they attempted to fight against these men who had come to harm them. All they wanted was to move on to California for a better life for their families. Instead, they all lay resting in a place that was foreign, killed by men who knew better than to hurt their enemies or friends, and waiting for the day of the resurrection when they can be united again with their families.


After this experience, we met everyone at Marv’s Restaurant in Enterprise. We had called in our orders at the site, but they were not waiting for us. We all sat down on three lengths of tables and chatted until our meals came. The food was very good, and the shakes were divine. I had a chocolate raspberry. My wish was that there had been more raspberry flavoring in the shake.




Soon it was time to go, some back to St. George; some toward home. We all hugged, said our teary goodbyes, and wished everyone well. Our trip home seemed longer than going, but we arrived home, tired, knowing we had just spent two days with some of the greatest people on the face of the planet. Being with such an incredible group of people gave us motivation and support. We sensed their support and kindness throughout the entire time. They are genuine in their praise and wanting to help in every way. That’s just how they roll. We love them and count them as some of our dearest friends.


While we were in St. George, we also were able to see Tyler and Laura Heilbut and little cute Killian. Tyler and Laura served as missionaries in the California Riverside Mission. They are happily married now. Also, we visited with Kerry and Marlene Shirley at their home in St. George who served with us in California. We had such a nice visit with them and ate Sister Shirley’s famous brownies with ice cream.





What a fun, enlightening, and entertaining two days in St. George, Utah!

 More photos on my Facebook pages!

Golden Days


Golden Days
Darrel L. Hammon

The golden days arrive on time,
lingering longer each year,
allowing the ivory-colored,
daintily steepled church to bask
in the gilded aura of fall.
The church on its earthly bench
has always overseen fall,

like some watchman in the wilderness,

surrounded by rocks, carried stoically
by parishioners, too poor to pay
but not too poor to serve their God,
from the creek bed just down the hill
amid hanging branches, brambles,
and bugs, placing them just so

to provide a sanctuary for the faithful
and privacy and refuge to those
who come to confess.
Its red encased windows,
some round, some small,
allow the sun to enter and spread
its warmth and miracles among the pews

and finger-worn hymnbooks.
The leaves fell last night
or maybe the day before.
No one has passed by with haste
to disturb the golden brown leaves.
They just lie there, covering
the silent footsteps that for years

have slowed before the church,
hoping, just hoping that someone
would come out, greet them, invite them in,
encase them in joy and reconciliation.
Now, the Church just sits, overseeing the majesty
that surrounds it, soaking in the glory
that comes through the fall.





Monday, September 27, 2021

Funerals: Special Times for Tributes, Celebration of Life, and Healing

My wife and I recently attended a funeral of a good friend of ours, a father of six and only 49 years old. He died from complications of COVID-19. The events leading up to his death were sad. The family posted several times, requesting thoughts and prayers, which we gladly did. Then, early one morning, his wife posted a Facebook message came, informing all that he had passed away. 

Our hearts and minds were deluged with sadness for his family and the tumultuous time they had over the past few weeks, watching the gradual yet tragic decline of their husband and father. On Sunday evening, we went over for a candlelight vigil at their home. Many people attended, saddened and grieving, most with the question why? 

We attended the funeral a week later on a beautiful Saturday morning. We thought we had arrived early, but there were so many people already there at the viewing, watching a video of his life, talking, and reminiscing. Funerals are like that. People from their past and present congregate to celebrate the life of the person who has died and give encouragement to the family and friends. 

This man’s funeral ran the gamut of many emotions—happiness, sadness, peace, spirituality, and positivity. Two of the daughters spoke about their father, their best friend, and confidant. We heard from his brother about his early life and his fight for his life at the beginning and growth and even his role as the family jokester and prankster. We learned of this man’s propensity to help people, no matter who they were or what they were doing. We cried, we laughed, we smiled, and we remembered him and the impact he had on all of our lives. 

During the funeral, I remembered my mother’s and father’s funerals and the kind words we received through music, talks, and private conversations. I remembered the poem I wrote when my mother died, and tears welled up in my eyes. At my father’s viewing, one of my childhood friends looked at me and said, “Now, we are both orphans.” Until that moment, I had not realized that true statement, now that both of my parents had passed. We talked about that and the support we had both received from so many people on that day we became orphans and the days and years since. 

Before my mother’s funeral, my little brother decided he would make my mother’s casket from oak. My brother and I helped him, and it took us a few days to construct, sand, and then stain. It was absolutely beautiful, and many people commented about how they would like one just like it. We knew she would have liked it. Constructing the casket took away some of the pain as we sanded away the bumps and other imperfections, making the wood smooth to the touch. That’s what people do at funerals. They are sometimes the sandpaper, giving us hope and smoothing out the sadness. For our family, people were so kind to us, even though we were already grown, and most of us had families of our own. 

I also remembered about two funerals that Noel Raymond and I officiated in Menan, Idaho, many years ago. The funerals were some of the saddest I had ever attended. The first one was for three children who had died instantly in a car crash as their father was rounding a corner and smashed into a cement embankment on late, dark, and chilly October evening. Hundreds of people came to the Church, sat in the pews, and were quiet, except for some crying and sniffling. I could hardly get through the conducting part because I was so sad, so devastated at the loss of my friends. 

The father could not attend because he was fighting for his life in the intensive care unit at the local hospital. The mother of the three sat stunned at the thoughts of the present and afraid for the future. One of her sons, an eight-year-old, still lay in a hospital room, with one of his legs amputated below the knee and the other one in jeopardy. The other two who survived the crash were there, confused, heads down, still wounded about the whole ordeal. 

Not a week later, we were back conducting the father’s funeral. Yet, there was a peace about it because of the overwhelming support of the friends of the family, even people who barely knew them. They had come together to support and to show peace and comfort through words, prayers, pats on the backs, hugs, and just thoughts that hovered in the air like comfort blankets. 

Overall, funerals are tributes to the deceased, celebrations of their lives, and times for healing and comfort for those who remain. Even though our friend had died, I again felt the comfort and reassurance of the plan of happiness that I so adamantly believe in, knowing that he and all the others will live again and become whole. This reassurance lifted me as I listened to the singing of hymns, the talks, the hilarious stories about him and his family, and the positivity from this family who had just lost their father and husband to the devastating COVID, which has taken millions and is not finished with us. 

Truly funerals are not supposed to be completely sad although death is a challenging concept to even understand. It is a time, though, for the family, the community, and friends to come together to remember the good and the positive and to celebrate the life of the person who has died. While sadness and sorrow still hover in the room, the glow from friends and compassion and love help dissipate the sadness and other emotions that course through the crowd. 

Funerals are like one of the daughters said, “Dad is probably laughing right now, saying, ‘Hey, it’s okay. I am fine. You are going to be fine. Besides, what it comes down to is love, true, honest love.”

Tuesday, April 6, 2021

The Beauty of Storms

The Beauty of Storms

by Darrel L. Hammon
with inspiration from Mata Kāpeta
 


Storms come gently, sometimes viciously,
usually early morning, just about dawn.
They clamor over the mountains,

through the valleys, and on to the plains,
gathering ferocity, twisting trees until they snap,
causing grass and flowers to bend,

face down into the saturated ground.
The ferocity of spring storms is really no match
for the storms that doth beset us in real life—



Storms of divorce, depression, anxiety,
lost children, husbands or wives who stray,
disease and brittle bones, addictions,

and just plain sadness and withdrawal.
We often curl up by the window in large chairs,
grandma’s old throw wrapped around us for comfort,

stare into the wee mornings and watch the rains
and winds bash the windows outside
while our personal storms bash us from the inside,

wrecking more havoc than 50-mile per hour winds.
Yet, we know, though, that after the winds die down
and rains and their gray clouds dissipate over the ridge,



the sun emerges triumph. So, too, within us,
we also know—and plead fervently—
that the Son will appear as well, settle beside us



in any dark corner we find ourselves,
knowing His Light will dispel all darkness.
That is the beauty of storms,

knowing they retreat as suddenly
as they come when the Sun exerts its power
through Him who created all.








Saturday, April 3, 2021

Being children of a living and loving Heavenly Father provides us with a richness of human capacity

We had a California Riverside Mission Reunion on Friday! It was a glorious event! We attempted to social distance as much as we could. These missionaries love each other after having spent two years or 18 months of their lives together. They had sacred experiences with their companions, their districts, their zones, and their mission that only these people would understand. It is during these moments, like mission reunions, where you can feel those same feelings and share them with people who really understand.


During the reunion, Joanne and I had the opportunity to address these phenomenal young people. In essence, we talked to them about remembering and staying on the covenant path. For my portion, I have organized my thoughts under the title: "Being children of a living and loving Heavenly Father

provides us with a richness of human capacity": 

 

Helaman 12:2

When we sin or do things that we know we shouldn’t or we become lax in what we should be doing, a sense of dimness/darkness creeps upon and we begin to forget. It is Satan lulling is into a sense of shifting our gaze and focus on Christ to focus on the ephemeral things of the world, which doth canker and corrupt instead of the things eternal (also see 2 Nephi 28:21-22).

 

Question: What must we do to “remember” and enhance our capacity to remember?

 

  1. Remember who and whose we are. We are children of a loving Heavenly Father.
  2. Remember that we are worthy of God’s love and forgiveness, no matter what we have done in our lives.
  3. Remember why the Atonement is so integral in our lives and why we must repent every day, every day, every day. 
  4. Remember we possess great capacity to achieve and to do grand things. Thus, we can see a far off in a holistic way!
  5. Remember to educate the whole being—our minds, our body, and, especially, our hearts. 
  6. Remember to treat ourselves kindly. Don’t beat yourself up over the things you cannot control.
  7. Remember to be courageous and fearless in standing up for all that is good in the world. 
  8. Remember to love others with our whole hearts and treat them as Heavenly Father and Christ would treat them.  
  9. Remember to always show gratitude in all things.  
  10. Remember to find joy in doing what the Lord wants and needs us to.  
  11. Remember that everything we do has an effect on people, wherever they might be watching or listening or reading or observing. 
  12.  Remember that our purpose and meaning stems from what we promise the Lord we would do when we were baptized, when we took upon us the Priesthood and its oath and covenant, when we did our initiatory, when we took out our endowments and made covenants with the Lord, and when—for some of you— knelt crossed the altar and whispered that sacred “yes.” 

As we remember and do, we are filled with great light, which “growth brighter and brighter until that perfect day….that you may chase darkness from among you” (see Doctrine and Covenants 50:24-25).

 

May we do everything in the Lord’s name with what Samuel the Lamanite called “Unwearied diligence” (see Helaman 15:6).

Sunday, February 14, 2021

Hay 20 cosas debe hacer cada día para su esposa o querida

 Para mis amigos que hablan Español!

Hay 20 cosas debe hacer cada día para su esposa o querida

Haga el día de su esposa, cada día, con estas acciones simples que le recordarán su amor por ella.

 Díle que la amas

 Le debes decir que la amas más que una vez al día, incluso cuando sales y cuando regresas a casa. Como texting es tan popular, puedes enviarle un texto a ella aunque la conversación con ella cara a cara sea la más importante e íntima.

Muéstrale la amas

De todas las cosas que necesitas hacer cada día, esta es quizás la más esencial. Le puedes cuanto la amas, pero la demonstración de su amor hacia ella es vital en su vida diaria. La demonstración. Hay miles de maneras cómo mostrarle a esposa cuanto la amas. Sea creativo — Todos. Los. Días.

 Sé organizado

Nada es menos atractivo que montones de ropa, zapatos, calcetines, envolturas de dulces, etc. esparcidas por todas partes. Seguramente puedes gastar unos pocos minutos para poner en su sitio tus zapatos, colocar sus calcetines en la ropa sucia o hasta colgar tus pantalones. Si eres experto en arrojar las cosas al suelo o amontonar unas camisas de un número astronómico en la silla al lado de tu cama, deja la pereza y sé más organizado.

Limpia alrededor del fregadero

Uno de los lugares más insalubres en su casa hoy en día, aparte del teclado de su computador, es el fregadero.  Límpialo cada día, y ella estará gratamente sorprendida y agradecida.

 Plancha la ropa

Trata de planchar por ti mismo. Tú serías sorprendido cuán relajante—y terapéutica—es planchar la ropa.

Escríbele una nota

Este podría ser una de las más sencillas. No tienes que hacer un curso de poesia, solo una nota que le deje saber que ella es hermosa, o desearle que tenga un buen día. Pónlo en su bolsillo o en algún lugar donde ella puede verla. Prueba con una nota adhesiva en el espejo en el baño.

Haz la cama

O por lo menos ayudarle hacer la cama. Siempre es más fácil cuando dos hacen la cama, y sólo se tarda unos minutos de su tiempo. Hay algo refrescante tener una cama ordenada.

No te quejes

Sin duda, puedes abstenerte de quejarte una vez al día—hazlo dos veces mañana. Quejarse es un signo de pesimismo.

 Léele a ella

Quizás no sea lectura, pero el leer algo a ella cada día es dulce e íntimo. Podría ser uno de los comics del diario, un versículo o dos de la Biblia, o un increíble pasaje de la novela que estás leyendo.

 Cepíllate los dientes

La frescura es la clave de la felicidad.

No le preguntes por lo que se debes hacer

Al preguntar significa que no eres un buen observador.  Probablemente, ella te ha insinuado y tal vez incluso ya te había dicho: "Querido, ¿podrías tú hacer esto?" Sé observador, mira a tú alrededor; y escúchela.

Pon los platos en el lavavajillas

 No hay ninguna razón para dejar los platos en el fregadero o en la mesa. Si el lavajillas está lleno, váciela.

Parquéate correctamente

El espacio del garaje es sagrado; así pues, asegúrate que tú auto quede en tú propio lado.  La usurpación de su puesto no le será gracioso. Si su coche está fuera, siga adelante y pon el carro de tú esposa adentro del garaje también. Es una de las cosas que muestra que la amas.

Lleva la basura afuera

Siempre te toca sacar la basura—Asi es.

Cierra con llave las puertas y apaga las luces

Por la noche, anda alrededor de la casa, cierra con llave las puertas y apaga las luces. Tu cónyuge se sentirá segura y protegida si completas esta tarea.

Abrásela

Abrazos por la mañana. Abrazos cuando regresas a casa. Abrazos cuando se acuestan. Y asegúrate que no sea sólo un apretoncito. Déle unos abrazos de oso.

Congratúlela

Recuérdale cuánto amas esa sonrisa de la cual te enamoraste. Hay muchas cosas que ama en ella, así le recuérdatelas a menudo.

Ayuda con los platos sin preguntar

No solo en ponor los platos en el lavavajillas, ayuda también a una vez limpios ponerlos en su sitio, y a la vez poner la mesa a la hora de la comida y recoger la mesa después de las comidas.

Cocínale

 Esto puede significar que tienes que aprender cómo cocinar algo. Pero tus esfuerzos serán muy apreciados cuando preparas una comida deliciosa para ella.

Tengan una conversación increíble cada día

En la sociedad de hoy, con tanta tecnología, días laborables largos, etc., rara vez tenemos el tiempo para la conversación. Su matrimonio será reforzado si llevas tiempo para hablar con tu esposa cada día.

Memorice esta lista, añade a ella y siempre recuerda dos palabras importantes: "Sí, Querida."