Tuesday, December 23, 2008

In that lowly manger

In that lowly manger

In that lowly manger as beautiful Mary looked
upon her newborn Son, caressed His soft features,
felt the reassuring hand of her beloved Joseph,
did she see Him as a babe or as "the Savior of the world"?
Could she have heard what the Shepherds heard
while watching their flocks by night:
"For unto you is born this day in the city of David
a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord"?
Could she see the Prophet Samuel stand on the wall,
prophesy of her Son and of His coming hence?
Did she see Him as one who sat before the teachers
in the synagogues, teaching them when He was but 12?
Did she see Him walking along the sea, beckoning
Peter, James, and John to "come follow him"?
Did she see Him cause the blind to see, the deaf to hear, the maimed to walk?
Did she see Him say unto Lazarus, "Come forth…"?
Did she see Him beaten, torn, scorned by those who hated Him?
Did she see Him hang on that awful cross on Galgatha?
Could she have seen the empty tomb? Mary Magellan in the Garden?
Could she have heard the Father testify of her Son
when He introduced Him to the Nephites of old?
Could she have felt what other mothers felt when her Son
took each Nephite child, healed them, blessed them,
touched their lives for 200 years?
Could she have known as He lay there, wrapped in swaddling clothes
while the sheep bleated, the cows quietly mooed,
the Heavenly Star shining brightly above the stable,
announcing "Christ the Lord is born this day"?
Could she have known all of this as she sat with her first-born son,
cuddled him in her arms, stroking His subtle hair, cooing
her favorite lullabies to Him, making promises to teach Him
about what she knew, what she had been told
that He was "Son of the Highest"?
Yes, she would teach Him for she was His mother
and hast found favour with God…"

Sunday, November 30, 2008

We had a wonderful Thanksgiving. Anna Rose and Christiaan Johnson and Hailey and Joseph Keller drove in from Provo, Utah. It was so fun to have them here. We ate lots of food, went to a movie (Twilight), played games with Sarah/Chad and Elaine/Phillip and their families, shot BB and pellet guns in our backyard, drank hot chocolate, did a little shopping, took pictures, ate more food, had lots of ice cream, had Thanksgiving with four Chinese students from Dalian Medical University who are going to Laramie County Community College, watched snow fall and blow, opened a couple of early Christmas presents, decorated the Christmas tree, played more games with our children, went to Church (Sacrament Meeting), and just had a lovely time with our family. I cannot think of anything more pleasant than being around and with my family. Check out the pictures above.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

The Puyallup Reception

So, here are the newlyweds after one month. They had a good time at the Puyallup reception. So many people came and gave their hellos and counsel. Joseph's little brother Eric went around with a video camera and asked everyone to give their counsel to Hailey and Joseph. After the reception, we all watch it at the Keller home. Funny. Funny. Funny. The most quoted line usually came from the men who graciously counseled Joseph as to what he should say in all situatons, "Yes, Dear."

Bonnie and Travis joined us as well. They had to drive a couple of hours. It was so fun having them there.
It was wonderful to have Anna Rose with us at the reception. She stayed with us for a couple of days. Because of Christiaan's work schedule, he couldn't come with us, but we had a good time. We spent a bit of time at Pike's Place Market. What beautiful flowers they had! We bought a big bouquet for Mary. They were stunning.

This is Mt. Rainier and sits stoically by Puyallup. Can you imagine, waking up every single morning and seeing this outside your window? It would be totally awesome. The first day when we came in, you couldn't see it because of the clouds. But on the day of the reception, we could see it clearly. How majestic is this?

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Hailey Jean Hammon becomes Hailey Jean Keller

Yup, it looks like my baby Hailey found another man--Joseph Aaron Keller of Puyallup, Washington. They were married in the Mt. Timpanogas Temple in Utah on August 23, 2008. It was a beautiful wedding followed by a extremely wonderful lunch at a Mexican restaurant in Linden. Dennis was there to do his thing: take pictures. Anna Rose and Christiaan were there. Plus, Delaina, Keith, and Andrew motored from Rigby. Joseph's parents and his grandparents came. Joseph's parents, Todd and Mary Keller, are such good people, and they have taught Joseph well. Todd is currently Bishop Keller and has served about seven years. We look forward to the reception in Puyallup, Washington, at the end of September. We have gained a wonderful son-in-law in Joseph.

The Cheyenne reception was on Saturday, August 30, a week after the wedding in Utah. Lou Jean, Sarah, and LaWane were there to help. And what great help they were. I trundled to Fort Collins on Friday to pick up the cakes. They were beautiful and delicious (and very expensive). We decorated the Church in browns and greens. Overall, it looked stunning! We attempted to keep the reception simple and small. Thus, we invited just a few close friends, some members of the ward, and some people from the College, mostly the President's Cabinet and the Board members.

It's rather odd, actually, to know that both our daughters have found young men whom they love deeply. Hailey still calls every day; so, that hasn't changed--yet. Joanne loves to chat with her, and I think Hailey loves to chat with us. They are both enrolled at BYU-Provo. I think--maybe hope--this is Hailey's last year at BYU unless she decides to complete a minor in international relations. Joseph still has a couple of years and then graduate school. They will do fine.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

The Daddy of Them All--Cheyenne Frontier Days

Yup, Joanne and I went to the rodeo on Tuesday afternoon. We sat in the Qwest box as guests. Lots of people stopped by, including the Governor. It was warm, but there was lots of water and other refreshments. I took loads of pictures--some good, some bad. Some of the good ones I will post here for the world to see--or maybe just my beautiful daughters who periodically log on to their Dad's blog to see, if by chance, he may have written something different.

Thunderbirds at Laramie County Community College

The Thunderbirds flew in like bombers over a terrorist country. But this time they were quite friendly. They are truly amazing--flying low, flying high, flying wing tip to wing tip, twisting and turning up, twisting and zooming down. Catch the pictures above.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Trip to Idaho Falls and Salt Lake/Provo

Joanne and I trundled to Idaho Falls/Rigby for the Bradley K. Hammon annual 4th of July breakfast--and "happy birthday to Brad Hammon" day. We had a great time being with family. Anna Rose and Christiaan came up for the breakfast. We dropped Mother Boltz off at Joanne's Aunt Esther's place in Idaho Falls so she could spend some time with her.

We also went to other annual event: the Delaina Hammon Scholes Annual Easter Egg Hunt. What? An Easter egg hunt in July? Yes, Delaina couldn't have it at Easter because of a huge snow storm; so, she waited until we all were there for Easter. What a kick it was to see all of the cousins, nieces, and nephews--big and small--running around Delaina and Keith's yard, scooping up eggs and such. What a fun time we all had! Once we were finished we drove over to Brad's house. We then drove over to Abbott's Hardware where I bought a new pellet gun to take home. Cannot wait to fire this one.

We left around 5:30 ish to drive to Provo. After picking up Mother Boltz, we headed south to the great land of Provo where we spent the night. We woke up the next day and had breakfast with Hailey and Joseph. After just a few short hours, we had lunch with Joseph's parents and siblings--two sisters and a brother--from Seattle. What a nice family! We enjoyed ourselves with them and chatted about Joseph and Hailey. We shall see how this all goes down, eh?


Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Anna Rose's Birthday

Good morning! Today is Anna Rose Hammon Johnson's birthday. I am honored to be Anna Rose's father. She has been a model child, excluding the Bubble Tape incident when she was younger; but that is another story for another time. She has become an extremely professional young woman who has already accomplished much in her young life--accomplished pianist, phenomenal tennis player, spectacular speech and drama champion, valedictorian at Miles Community College, high-achieving college graduate, wonderful wife, and the list goes on and will continue to go on because that's who she is. I would like to say that she has great genes, but I believe Anna Rose came that way. She was definitely a blessing to her mother and me, after seven long years of waiting, praying, fasting, and more praying. While she caused some challenges to her mother, she arrived perfect and beautiful--and all those years dissipated into nothingness when she looked at us with those heavenly eyes and that awesome smile. Surely, Heavenly Father was sadden to let her go but elated when He knew that her earthly parents were wonderfully happy with His precious daughter.

So, my precious Anna Rose, a very Happy Birthday to you on this special day. I LOVE YOU TONS! And I look forward to seeing you this weekend.


Your proud Father.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Saratov, Russia

Saratov, Russia....I went to Russia in April with a group of Rotarians although I am not a Rotarian. One of Laramie County Community College's trustees invited me to go. I was able to visit three universities and a middle school. We hope to partner with them on a variety of projects, including an exchange of students and faculty.
While I had wonderful experiences, I wish to tell you about a scary experience. The morning after we arrived,
I woke up around 5:00 a.m. I couldn’t sleep any longer; so I rose, got ready, and headed down to the Volga River. I wanted to be there before the sun came up. As I strolled along the river, I took some pictures. The closer I got to the bridge over the Volga, the pictures seemed to get better. I walked up and around a dirt patch. The closer I got to the bridge the dirtier the area around it became. I said to myself, “I will take a couple of pictures of the shadows in the river, and then I will head back.” And thus I did. When I turned to walk back up the hill, I was confronted by a policeman. Of course, neither he nor I could speak a lick of each other’s language. He was a big man with a grim face. He didn’t smile. He pulled out his identification and asked, I suppose, where was mine. At that moment, my heart began to speed up. I had heard about people being taken and never seen again. I had seen in movies how they take foreigners, beat them up, take their money, and then either kill them or throw them onto the street.

While all this was churning in my head, the officer took me to an enclosed area and called out. As he was calling out, he clanged the gate shut. Another man appeared at the door of a little shack. He was much smaller with black hair. He lacked one of his teeth on the right side of his mouth. He said something to me and then ushered me to a little room off to the left of where I entered. A small table stood in the center of the room and was shoved up against the wall. On the table lay two billy clubs. Another piercing to the heart—“they are going to beat me” raced through my head. On one side of the table was a bed. He beckoned me to sit down. He sat down on the other side of the table in a chair and began to ask questions. Of course, I couldn’t understand a word he said. Fortunately, I had my little Russian phrase book and began rummaging through it to find the right phrases to say or to show him. When he asked me something about documents, also pulled out my driver’s license and showed him. He took down my name and other information off the license. While he was writing all this down, I showed the pictures on the camera to the other officer. He wanted to see them all. I suspect they may have thought that I was a terrorist and was taking pictures of the bridge to potentially blow it up.

Then he began to pepper me with other questions. I attempted to answer them through showing him some of the phrases. Somehow, I told him about coming from Wyoming, flying into New York City, landing in Moscow, and then coming by train to Saratov. We also talked about me being a tourist and visiting the university. Through my gestures and pointing to my blue Laramie County Community College shirt, he realized that I was a “college person.” Soon, he was finished. We shook hands, and he led me out the door. Before leaving the building, I noticed several T.V. screens that monitored the surrounding area, including bridge. I am sure they monitored every step I took and then decided to give me a scare. A scare they gave me. Before I walked out of the gate, I shook hands, and the big man introduced himself as Alexander. At the gate, the other officer introduced himself as Valdamir. Alexander said “Good bye” in English, and I hightailed it out of there as fast as could, realizing that I must not run. I must not run. I must not run—this was I kept telling myself.

Once I got out of range, I hurried along the path until I was moving toward the hotel. I stopped to take one single picture of a couple of fishermen, and then I headed to the open, safe door of the hotel.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Chichen Itza

Joanne and I were able to go to Cancun, Mexico, at the end of January. On one of our excursions, we were able to go to Chichen Itza.

We boarded a bus and began our travels toward Chichen Itza, the former Mayan capital. We stopped at the Cenote Azul, which was a huge water well for the Mayan. Joanne and I walked down to the well and watched people jumping in. It was beautiful. It was a huge pool about 100 meters deep. Long vines hung from the ceiling throughout the cenote. Water sprayed from the top from somewhere. Apparently, these cenotes were everywhere in the Yucatan, and they supplied the water for huge numbers of people—upwards of 100,000 just in Chichen Itza. As Joanne and I were walking around the top of the cenote, a little breeze came up and blew my new Stetson straw hat over the edge. Since it was so deep, I couldn’t just crawl over the wall and try to retrieve the hat. I rushed back down into the cenote to see if it might have dropped into the water. But, alas, it hadn’t. Because of the hot day and begin out in the sun, I had to buy another hat, which wasn’t as wonderful as my Stetson, for about 20 bucks. Ouch! I didn’t want to pay that much for a hat, which I probably could have purchased downtown Cancún for a ton cheaper.

Huge vines hung down from the ceiling in several different areas. From the top of the cenote to the bottom, it was probably 100 plus feet. It was just stunning. Many people were swimming in it, diving, and just having a good time. The rest of us were on the sidelines, taking pictures and just looking around in awe at the magnificence of everything.

The bus then drove us through Valladolid and then on to the place where we had a buffet lunch. After lunch, we finally made it to Chichen Itza. Wow! Wow! Wow! I couldn’t believe the huge buildings, the temples, and the castle. We had only three hours to tour. Our tour guide talked to us about many of the ruins. Finally, we had time to ourselves. Joanne didn’t want to walk up and down the stairs; so, I walked over to the observatory and looked at what was there. Amazingly, the Mayans were experts in predicting weather by using stars, the moon, and other things. Their calendar is probably the best in the world, and others use it even today.

I took many pictures of the Temple of the Warriors (El Templo de Los Guerreros), El Castillo del KuKulkan, and other buildings. It was amazing to me the design and the actual building. The rocks were close together. When I asked the guide what happened to the people who lived there. She said that over time they just disappeared, and no one knows why they left. I find that to be very interesting. I need to do more research. I continue to walk around and take some pictures, but I had to hurry because there wasn’t much time left. Joanne and I did a bit of negotiating. We purchased a couple of carvings and two replicas of the Castle of Kukulkan. I was totally fascinated by what I saw.