Friday, December 25, 2009

Puerto Montt, Chile, Part II

Puerto Montt, Chile, Part II has more to do with people than with places and things. We had the wonderful opportunity to visit my Chilean mom whom we fondly called "La Mom." We lived with her family as "pensionistas." Basically, that means that we rented a room from them. They provided a maid who cooked and cleaned for us. Sometimes, Mom would get mad because we arrived late...past the 9:30 p.m. time we were supposed to be in. What can I say...we were very, very busy in Puerto Montt. We had a great time with them.

This is "La Mom" in 1977.

This is "La Mom" in 2009 when we visited her. I tried to get the exact same picture of her standing in her doorway.

Here is a picture of the entire family without the only boy.

It was so wonderful to see "La Mom" and her family. We had "once" (pronounced own say)with them. Luisa had made a delicious cake. We laughed and laughed at the various things that they remembered about the "Gringo Grande" (big gringo). From their home, they had such a beautiful view of the ocean and Volcan Osorno. Now, the view has been blocked by a tall building.

We also had the opportunity to visit a few members while we were there. The picture below is of President Usabeaga and his son Eduardo. He was the branch president while I was in Puerto Montt. He became the district president when Puerto Montt became a district. Plus, he was very instrumental in helping the Church purchase property for all of the church in Puerto Montt. He and his family were stalwarts in the Church and still are. We went to three churches in Puerto Montt to find him. The city and the Church have really grown. Puerto Montt is now a stake.

We loved Puerto Montt, even though it was clouded over and rained the last day we were there. We saw some of the people I loved the most.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Puerto Montt, Chile

Puerto Montt was wonderful even though it was cloudy and a bit rainy. We arrived late Friday night because we had driven all day and stopped along the way, the last stop being in Frutillar because I knew the weather wasn't going to be very good, and the sun was setting on Lake Llanquihue and Volcan Osorno. After taking a host of pictures, which you can see in a previous blog, we headed to Puerto Montt.

We arrived, checked in, and headed to our room. The hotel was very nice, and we were impressed. Our room overlooked the bay. Absolutely gorgeous. Pictures cannot really capture the element of feelings that I felt when I stood there in the window and looked out into the bay, remembering 30 years ago when I served. What a feeling.

The next morning, we rose, ate breakfast in the hotel's restaurant. The view was again breathtaking because it was on the top floor overlooking the entire city.

We hopped in the car and headed to Puerto Varas, hoping to catch a glimpse of the Volcan Osorno. Alas, it wasn't to be, but we had a good trip and saw some gorgeous countryside. Plus, we found one of the capillas (church buildings). Whether that was the right one, we shall see. The Church's website listed only one building, but we know there are more.

Once we returned, we caught a taxis and went to Angelmo. I really didn't want to drive down there with our car. Once I arrived, I discovered that it had changed over the past thirty years. While it was a small fish and tourist market back then, it has been very turista...We walked through the fish market while various young women tried to get us to eat in their little restaurants. Finally, we succumbed. We had a nice meal. Joanne and I both had different fish. I had Conger eel and Joanne had a fish I am not familiar with, but they were both delicious.

After a delicious meal, we wandered through the booths, looking at all of the great things Chileans make. Joanne bought a beautiful shawl, and we bought some things for the girls, but I cannot post what they are because Christmas hasn't arrived, yet, and we want it to be a surprise.

More later about my visit with my Chilean mother....

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Villarica, Pucón, La Unión, and Frutillar

Today was a most interesting day. Of all of the time we are spending in Chile, Thursday night was the one most in the air. We didn’t really know where we would be—perhaps in Concepción, Valdivia, or Osorno. We decided to stop in Villarica. On the way, we stopped at Los Saltos de Laja. What a beautiful site this was. I remember going there as chiquillos working in the office; so, I wanted to return.

We attempted to stay the night at a bed and breakfast run by Americans, but it was full. She gave us the name of another hotel named Hotel El Parque. It was about three miles out of town on a lake. I believe after we arrived, we decided it was a much better place and less expensive overall.

Once we arrived, Joanne and I walked down to the lake front and took a few pictures of some archaic swing sets and things. They were pretty old. Then we walked back up and headed to dinner. The people who didn’t have room for us asked us to come to dinner, which we did. It was delightful. Both Joanne and I had chuletas—pork chops—and all of the trimmings—potatoes and asparagus cream soup, which was absolutely delicious.

We rose early and drove to Pucón. I really wanted to see Volcán Villarica. It was too cloudy. Around 12:00 when we were heading to La Union and points south, the Volcán Villarica came out for a partial picture. What wonderful countryside pictures of wild flowers we took just wonderful.

We stopped in La Unión. On our way in, we saw three missionaries walking down the street. We stopped them and asked directions. They didn’t know Boris Ocampo, but they did tell us to stop at a place to make some calls. I parked the car and headed up the street. I stopped at the first Caja de Llamados I came to and tried to call Boris. He wasn’t there. For some reason, I didn’t write down his address; so, I attempted to find a place with internet, which I did. I got online and got his address. Before I left, though, I made another call to see if I could roust Boris. Fortunately, I did. He told me to meet him in the Plaza. We drove there and waited for him. Soon, he was walking toward us. He hasn’t changed a bit. Still joven, still delgadito, still great fun.

We chatted a bit and then walked to where the new capilla is or at least new to me. They had torn down the old house where we used to have meetings and built a brand new church house back in 1982. La Union used to be a stake, but because of the worthiness of so few males, they had to reduce it to a district. They are working very hard to change this.

Then we drove over to the Soto house where we lived as missionaries. Only Mr. Soto was in. He said that the señora was out with Mauricio in Osorno where she had a doctor’s appointment. We chatted for a rato and then had to live. I really wanted to stay and visit, but we needed to spend some time with Boris and his lovely bride. We spent a couple of hours with them. It was wonderful just to chat. They live in a tiny, tiny house.

We said our goodbyes at 7:15 p.m. Boris had a meeting or we would have taken them to dinner. It was hard leaving them. We promised to see each other in two years when the Concepción Temple is ready to be dedicated. I do hope we can return.

The sun was beginning to set when we pulled into Frutillar. I knew if we didn’t get pictures of the Volcán Osorno, we probably wouldn’t get to see it this trip because of the projected weather—rain and cloudy. When the clouds set in, then nothing can be seen. Lake Llanquihue was absolutely stunning with the sun lighting up the lake just a bit. I took a few pictures, but I don’t know how they will come out. We shall see. The first picture is Volcán Osorno and the second is Volcán Calbuco.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Talca, Chile

We made it to Talca on Tuesday evening. We arrived and headed into town. Again, the street signs were minimal. Some road construction creates some stir, but we made our way into the city by the Google map that I had made. Again, with Google’s help but with God’s help more, we found the hotel. We parked on the road and walked in and checked in. It was a bit eery because I felt as if we were really strangers in a stranger land. We checked in. They told me to park in the back of the hotel. I went outside and was ready to get in the car when a young man dressed in a uniform of sorts handed me a piece of paper and said, $230 pesos por favor. I asked him why? He told me that I had parked and that I owed money for parking on the side of the road.
With a bit of disgust, I told him I didn’t have any money because Joanne had it all. Let me park, and I would return with the few monedas that I owed. So, that’s what I did. I parked in the back; and while I went out to pay the young man, the the bellman hauled out luggage upstairs and helped us in our room.

Once inside, we arranged things and then I called Walky to see what was going on with the Diaz family. She said that she would be right over because her office was very close by. Within five minutes, she was there, giving us abrazos and such to welcome us to Chile. We jumped in the car and headed to her house, with a stop by the school to pick up Tamara y Natan, her two children. We arrived at the school, and they had already gone home. So, we turned around in the very narrow street and headed to the Diaz Family’s house.

We brought our presents with us and handed them out once we got in. Hermano y Hermana Diaz were very excited to see us. It was wonderful to say hello to them once again. We had a wonderful chat, and then we loaded up in two cars and headed to Rio Claro, one of the parks there in Chile. I remember having a picnic with the branch when I served her. And I remember eating sandia (watermelon) in the park with my companeros, just prior to going on a hike through the mountains. This hike result in a few blisters but a sunburn beyond sun burn. We took a few pictures and then headed to the top of the hill so we could see out over Talca. We parted company with Hermano y Hermana Diaz because they were going home to make Once for us, which I told them they didn’t have to do, but they wanted to do it anyway.

The ride to the hill was a short one actually. We arrived and looked out over Talca. Walky explained the changes that had occurred even her last fifteen years while she was in Brazil. Talca had really changed. Lots of new housing development had spread on various sides of the city. We then walked up to an old church, just up from where we parked. I took a few pictures, and then we watched the children play in the yard around the church. Walky said she let them play because in Brazil, you couldn’t let them play because of all of the snakes and other venomous things that hung around everywhere. I don’t think I could live in a country like this.

After our time there, we went to the Daiz’s house where we had once, which is comprised of bread, juice, cheese. Hermano Diaz had me give the blessing on the food, which was a wonderful experience for me. We had a wonderful conversation. After once, we sat in the living room. Soon young Guillmero came. Walky, Hermano Diaz, and Walky sang two songs for us, one was the Cueca and the other was Te Vas Para Chile, which is the national song. It was wonderful. Hermano Diaz inserted their names to pass by when we visited Chile. Just delightful.

On Wednesday, we started the day out with desayuno of bread, fruit, yogurt, thinly sliced meats, and bottled water at the hotel and then walked around downtown to see the city. I went to 2 Sur 937 to see if I could see my old pension. What I think was my pension is now boarded up. The little Mercado next door is now some sort of negocio. Gone are the real things; the only things that stayed our memories of walking to the house and being let it by Yolanda or the other maid whose name totally and completely escapes me.

Around 11:45 a.m., we met up with Walky and headed out to the La Universidad de Talca. We walked around a bit and then we went to the medical school part, specifically the dental part and visited with a few people. After the university visit, we headed once again to the Diaz family. They had prepared such a delicious meal for us—fish, potatoes, tomatoes, and fruit for dessert. It was delicious. We had such a good time. After the meal, Joanne and I drove to the church house where we thought the baptism was going to be. We felt good about knowing where it was just in case it was dark when we actually went to the building. Then we went home. Amazing, the street changed, and it became a one way really quickly, and everyone was quasi nice about it when we were driving up a wrong way for about one block. Then, we went home and took a nap. This nap business is getting in the way of visiting more, but the four-hour time difference is creating some havoc.

I took a short nap while Joanne lingered en la cama. While she slept, I attempted to do some more writing before we needed to go to the baptism. Around 7:00 p.m., I woke Joanne, and we got ready and left the house. We arrived at the appointed church house. A gentleman was just going in when we pulled up. I approached him, and he told me that this wasn’t the church house and gave me directions. Well, I had no idea where this was. I couldn’t believe this: Here we were trying to do what we were supposed to do. Well, we attempted to follow directions, but we couldn’t find the church. Time was gaining on us, and we were about to be late. We started back to the house to call Walky when all of a sudden I saw a church spire to my left. I quickly turned left and “poof” a church house appeared out of nowhere. We parked and went in. There was Walky who gave a sudden sigh. We had made it, thanks again to our Heavenly Father who continues to guide us in these days.

We met everyone and took pictures out in the hallway. Natan looked cute in his white clothes. The meeting started about 30 minutes late for some reason. The brother who was conducting asked that I come bear my testimony, which I did. I didn’t do as well as I would have liked. Also, during the baptism ceremony, I was one of the witnesses.

Afterwards was when I gave my testimony, and then I confirmed Natan Alexander Egar Diaz. It was a great experience. We blessed him that he would prepare well to be a good missionary, that he would be an excellent missionary, that he would listen to his mother’s counsel, that he would do everything he can to be the person Heavenly Father wants him to be. We also blessed his mother through him.

After the baptism and the confirmation, Brother Diaz and Walky stood and bore their testimonies. They both thank Joanne and me for taking time and coming to Chile for this occasion. They were too kind and gracious to us. We went into the cultural hall and had a few snacks. I met other members of the church. I met a young woman, Walky’s age, who had the opportunity to play basketball for BYU, but her mother told her she couldn’t go. So, she became a professional women’s basketball player and went to the Pan-American games. She now coaches a national women’s team. She was a hoot. I enjoyed visiting with her.

We took lots of pictures of the Diaz Family and the Hammon Family. It was very, very fun. We loved being there with them.

As we all left the capilla, we all hesitated just a bit because we knew that, perhaps, this might be the last time we saw each other. Yes, we made promised to “volver” to visit them. But it took me thirty years to make it back, and few gente are still around. We gave each other abrazos Chilenos, said our teary goodbyes, and then left in separate cars/camiones, each waving a fond farewell. Was the night worth it? Absolutely! Incrediblly, Sonja was there with her four children, two boys and two girls. She told me that her youngest was going to be baptized next year.

Wonderful times with Diaz Family. They are absolutely wonderful! We love them! We enjoyed our stay in Talca. I wish it could have been longer. We didn't get to see the Avendano family. Some of them were supposed to come to Natan's baptism. Later, I did "Facebook chat" with Priscila. The three children I knew have all been married in the temple. That is fantastic!

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Santiago Temple, Santiago, Chile

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

We woke early, got ready, and headed to the temple, arriving around 8:30 a.m. for the 9:00 a.m. session. When we walked through the doors, the man at the front desk said in English, “You two look like you are from North America.” His name was Elder Biddaulph from Denver. He said he and his wife lived about 700 feet from the Denver Temple and were on a temple mission in Santiago. He asked us to be the witness couple on the spot and sent us to get our clothing. We went to the clothing window, picked up our clothes, and headed back. When I asked la hermana if I needed to pay, she said, “No.” So, we don’t charge those who attend the Santiago Temple.

The session was wonderful. There were four males and eight females. It was a very small session, but the spirit made up for it. We had a nice prayer circle. I completed the entire session in Spanish--for the first time ever. I did all right. I knew what it was supposed to be in English, but I was more than tenuous as a Spanish speaker. But I made it through and met Joanne in the Celestial Room, which was beautiful. We sat down and just enjoyed the spirit.


Later, we dressed and headed outside and toured the Temple grounds. What a beautiful place! Flowers were starting to bloom, the trees looked wonderful, and the grounds were immaculate, just like any other temple grounds. The Church has a systematic approach to keeping things neat, clean, and beautiful. Thank you.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Viaje a Chile

Welcome to Chile o sea Bienvenidos a Chile!e are in Chile! Yes, we have returned the long, slender country know to the world as Chile, more specifically to southern Chile--Talca, La Union, and Puerto Montt with a plane landing in Santiago to get here. I will write when I can and insert pictures as we go. So, here are some first things:

As we were flying into Santiago, off to the east were the magnificent mountains that make up the Andes also known by many as the Cordillera. Wow! What a spectacular sight. I tried to take some pictures out the window; so, we shall see what they turn out to be. We landed around 8:00 a.m. By 8:30 a.m., we had passed through customs. We each had to pay a $131 entrance fee just to get in the country. Then we passed through customs. That wasn’t too hard.

We walked over to the Alamo place and stood there for a good half an hour for them to run through their things. Holy cats it took them a long time. I believe Budget spends most of their elsewhere. Finally, we were almost there when their system crashed so we had to start all over again. In the meantime, we finished and headed out to the car.

Now, what a experience this was. The guy and I walked around the car to make sure that he has written down all of the dings and things. There were a bunch, much more than the ones we see in the USA; but after driving around, I soon learned why. We drove out and followed the arrows. The GPS didn’t work; so, we didn’t get one to use. Basically, we were on our own. Soon, we did get lost and didn’t turn when we were supposed to. After stopped at a farmacia, we went on our way and poof got lost again. Amazingly, though, we just happened onto the Avenida Eliodoro Yañez. Ten blocks later we pulled off the street into one of the hotel’s parking spaces. When we checked in, we discovered we were way too early. We got directions and headed to the temple. Because of all of the one-way streets everywhere, it took us longer than we what thought. But in reality, it is only about ten minutes away. We plan on going to the temple tomorrow morning. We will try to hit the 9:00 a.m. session. The Church has a huge building on temple grounds. It must be the headquarters for the Church here in Chile.

When we returned, we checked in. A young man led us to our room. Lo and behold, it looks like a suite. He had already brought up our luggage and placed it in our room. Joanne and I lay down and fell asleep because we didn’t sleep well last night or morning, whichever it was. I just woke up around 12:30 p.m. and decided to begin my Chilean journey.

After we returned, we decided to walk around and find a place to exchange some dollars. Well, the bank where we wanted to go had a sign out that they were doing something inside; so, we couldn’t go in. We came back in ½ hour when they said they were going to open back up, but they never did. Come to find out, banks open at 9:00 a.m. and close at 2:00 p.m. Now, that’s where bankers receive the adage “bankers’ hours.”

Around 7:20 p.m., we walked down to the lobby and outside and waited for Fernando, Gloria’s husband (She served in our District/Zone in Puerto Montt). He was supposed to pick us up around 7:30 p.m. Because of the traffic y otras cosas, lateness isn't an issue. Well, around 7:45 p.m. or so, he drove up in his car. We gave abrazos, got in, and headed out to their apartment. The traffic was terrible. We arrived around 9:00 p.m. or so. We passed by Frank Aravena’s office, which is also Fernando’s office because they work together; then we headed for the apartment, arriving around 9:00 p.m. Gloria was there.

She had fixed us jugo. We had such a nice chat, some in English but mostly in English. Soon, it was time to eat. They had fixed asparagus, papas de purė, tomatoes, roast beef, little potato balls, and cucumbers. For dessert, we had flan, which is okay for once in a while. During the meal, we reminisced about Concepcion, about the mission, and about the families. After dinner, we chatted, took pictures, said our good byes, and Fernando took us home. We arrived around midnight. Joanne and I were both exhausted. After reading scriptures, we fell into bed. But what a wonderful evening with my Chilean friends. Just wonderful!

Stay tuned for more from los viajeros Chilenos!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Stick Horses

When my youngest daughter was young, she moaned about not having a horse. At times, it has become so bad, I hated to drive by a pasture where horses might be nibbling on a leaf of grass. She will use that voice, “Oh, Dad, aren’t those horses beautiful?” We did succumb and give her riding lessons, but that didn't lessen the desires of having a horse. She thought that since she had riding lessons, a horse should follow, something akin to if you go to a basketball camp, your parents should buy you a basketball court or put you on a basketball team. Fortunately, manufacturers solved that problem: portable basket hoop, which we had for years in our driveway. Now, what about a portable horse?

My Uncle Wilford solved that problem years ago—at least for me. With his nifty bandsaw, a chunk of inch or inch and one half pine board, a couple of white tacks, colored string, and 36" dowel, he was in business. One family reunion at the old rock building in Menan, he brought a whole herd of horses in the back of his pickup. And they didn’t even make a mess or require much coaxing to get them out.
He maneuvered them through the white doors of the building and handed them out to the little people, me included.

Mine was a beaut. The way I remember him, he was the epitome of a perfect stick horse: black head, cut carefully by a bandsaw; white tacks stuck deep in the pine and served as eyes. Carefully placed in the crevice where the saw dipped in to make his mouth, the yellow string reins were drawn tight to the back where the mane was supposed to be and stapled high on the neck. Its body was one slim dowel smushed tight in a round hole, held in by wood glue. How could you not love such a wonderful creature? And he was mine and didn’t take much of corral to keep him, either.

At that time, my corral was 1509 Beverly Road in Idaho Falls. Our backyard bordered what was to become Casseopeia Street. I don’t remember a road then, just high weeds that had some semblance of a trail weaving through it, built just right for little boys and stick horses. The weeds served simultaneously as sagebrush and big trees we could lope around and through. And on a good day, I could jump them although my horse’s hoofs sometimes dragged in the brush. I could never get him to make the clean jump. His 36" shank just couldn’t clear the tall timber. Not once, though, did we roll or get bucked off because of it.

I usually rode bareback. I climbed on from the left side, just like a regular cowboy, and grabbed the reins with my left hand. Sometimes, I was plain bold and hopped on from the back end, like I had seen Roy Rogers and the Lone Ranger do. And when I was in a big hurry, I stuck the long shank between my legs and rode pell mell out into the back yard, out the back gate, and through the weeds, pretending I needed to save folks holed up in fort just over the ridge. My job was to save souls and ride hard.

Often, my little pony would begin to buck incessantly. I have to admit, though, I induced him to buck more times than not. It was awesome the way I stayed on, left hand on the reins, right hand back (often vice versa), sometimes with my hat waving in the wind. He bucked high, and then he twisted around like some wild bronco I had seen once at the Jefferson County Stampede. If the judges had been there on those occasions, I probably would have scored high.

Somewhere along the way, my stick pony ended up in the fire bin, I suppose the way all good pine horse go. But I had several along the way. I think I even made one, once in cub scouts.

My daughter is now too old for a stick horse and out of the house. I figure by now the thoughts of possessing a pony have dissipated from her mind although I doubt it. I still think about the reasons why I just didn’t buy her a regular horse. But the thoughts of a different kind of horse comes to mind: one that does not need a garage or insurance or new tires or beaded seat cushions. I wonder if I could talk her into just riding her shank pony.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

October snows

In my previous blog, I told you about the October snow storm. Here are some pictures of our home and the surrounding snow drifts.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Snow, Snow, and More Snow

Today is going to be one of those days. The College closed yesterday at 1:00 p.m. because of massive amounts of snow falling and blowing all over the place. True to Wyoming form, the winds have been piling up snow as fast as it can. I shoveled a two-foot drift yesterday morning, just to get out of the driveway. By the time I arrived home, the snow had blown in my hole to the house and then some. My wonderful wife had been out shoveling, and I finished opening up the hole so I could drive back into the house.

This a.m. I awoke early, checked the road reports, etc. Plus, I received a call from the College--too much snow, too much wind, too much blowing the snow back into the roads that they have been trying to keep open since 2:00 or 3:00 a.m. They suggested closure. I called our PR person and closed the Campus. So,anyone reading this blog this a.m., particularly faculty, staff, and students, please stay home and inside today. Please no unnecessary travel. According to the Wyoming road reports, the roads are in terrible shape, and they suggest "no unnecessary travel."

My drift in front of the garage is back and is bigger than yesterday. Yes, everything looks so beautiful, so white--from the inside. I will have to don my winter duds and go outside sometime today to dig another hole, but I shall wait until later when the wind ostensibly dies down.

What is up with all this snow so early in the season? Some people say, "Well, this is the way it used to be." So I guess we can say that global warming has not arrived to Wyoming.

Everyone, take care today. Keep inside. Have fun with your children. Students, get your homework done before you go out and play in the snow.

Have a wonderful day! I'll have pictures later on today.


Sunday, October 11, 2009

“A Temple of Learning via Youth Conferences and Spiritual Angels”

The following essay just won 3rd place in the Alumni Spirit Week writing contest at BYU-Idaho (Ricks College):

For a young man growing up in Menan, Idaho, just a skip over the stoic Menan Buttes and over the mighty, meandering Snake River, Ricks College loomed large on the hill. Yes, we attended almost every youth conference at Ricks, watched basketball games on the “big boys’ court” in Hart Gymnasium, played basketball and volleyball in the auxiliary gym, earned our swimming merit badge in the swimming pool, and even spent time in the Library, working on various merit badges. No matter how many times I walked the halls, ate in the Manwaring Center, or just sat on top of Table Rock on the north butte, I was always in awe of Ricks College as a formidable institution, one that, perhaps, was beyond my reach.

During those early years, I did not initially equate Ricks College with Sarah Ann Barnes’ phrase: “A temple of learning.” I cannot remember my leaders discussing learning in this way. Perhaps, they did, and I just did not get it or I was not paying attention. Dances, swimming, basketball, staying in the dorms, and the all-you-can-eat buffet seemed to encompass my teacher- and priest-age mentality. But I knew I felt something different when I climbed from our leader’s car and stepped foot on the campus.

I still remember the first time I cautiously strode through the doors of the Manwaring Center. Chills and sense of awe mixed with feelings of excitement overcame me. I wondered whether I should even be there. But entered I did, and the more time I spent on campus, the more I captured the feeling that I belonged. Perhaps, that is how the spirit touched a young man whose home was not the most spiritual. It was on this campus where I was tutored in the spirit, feeling something strong pounding in my chest during youth conference testimony meetings. Was that the spirit touching me? Was I beginning to enter the “temple of learning”? But come there to learn, to go to college? Now that was a different story.

In my home, however, going to college was not necessarily discussed as the thing to do. It was something I wanted to do, but money was an issue. Having eight children, my parents struggled with the everyday needs of a large family. So, I worked. Perhaps, this integration of work and earning posited a stronger feeling of doing the Lord’s work so I could come home from a mission, go to college, and make something of myself.

Even after my mission, the “thirst” was there, but the container full of financial liquid was not. I still had to work hard in order to attend. After almost a year working, and I enrolled so that my thirst could be quenched. Although I still had to live at home, I had money enough to pay for tuition and books and a job to pay for gas and essentials.

The fifteen miles to Ricks College did not initially seem like a burden, except in the winter and the tortuous drive from Menan to Rexburg and driving over the very scary Thornton Bridge. But the moment I drove on campus after one of white knuckle drives through snow drifts and near misses of trucks and cars passing simultaneously on a very narrow bridge, sometimes only inches apart, I felt at home, relieved that I had made it without injury.

Yes, I can look back on it now, and as Sarah Ann Barnes said, “the memory [of those days] fills my very soul with joy, for [truly] it seemed that angels of God…” helped me navigate the terrain and the personal challenges that periodically beset me. But even more than that, Sister Barnes’ and Elder Eyring’s messages of having the spirit as a constant companion rang true, each day that I drove to the campus, parked, and sauntered to the Manwaring Center, the Library, Hart Gym, Smith Building, and others.

Ricks College, now Brigham Young University—Idaho, is a temple of learning. While I did not see it in the beginning as a young teacher or priest at youth conferences, I came to know it as a student because—finally—I possessed a “recommend for learning,” one that I acquired over time through patient diligence. I learned that I was worthy of a college education, and Ricks College boosted my confidence and propelled me to go beyond my own self, my own trappings. Surely, Sister Barnes’ “spiritual angels were there” to lead me by the hand.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Dad's Birthday

Today, my Father would have been 82-years old, having been born in 1927. Unfortunately, he had a massive heart attack a few years ago and died on his driveway in a little farming community in Idaho. He died so suddenly, none of us were able to say a proper goodbye.

I had just talked to him the Sunday before he passed away. We had a nice visit. He had just arrived home from his "snow birding" in Arizona and was attempting to begin the never-ending task of keeping an acre of land spruced up.

My Father liked to spruce up stuff. He always had a wonderful garden and great flowers, particularly the peonies. Over the years, he had given me starts of various flowers, and most of them have done well. Unfortunately for me the peonies have never flourished in Wyoming, and I doubt they will. The raspberries I have transplanted in north-central Idaho and eastern Wyoming have done great. After Dad died, I transplanted some raspberry plants to Wyoming. They definitely have not flourished. This past summer as I stood there contemplating the plight of my raspberries, I wished my Dad had been there at my side to tell me what I needed to do. He just had a knack for growing things and knowing what to do.

I also miss going to Arizona in the winter and hanging out on the BLM property that he and my mother used to park their trailer on. Even after my Mother passed away of colon cancer, Dad carried on the tradition of motoring south when the temperature hit 32 and freezing in eastern Idaho. When we visited, the ritual was always this: We would stop in, have a wonderful Dutch-oven meal with friends outside around the campfire (Dad was always the campfire guy); visit various people we had met the year before; spend the night in the trailer, get up the next morning and drive to Yuma and spend the night; have breakfast at the buffet in town where it seemed that our we were the youngest one in the restaurant; drive to Algadones, Mexico, to purchase different things, including his and Mom's medication; drive through the date farms; stop and get a date shake; and then drive back to the trailer where we spent time just chatting and listening to the coyotes--yippers, Dad would call them. We always had a great time.

Sometimes I would go by myself, but most often I would take the girls and/or my wife, and we would have a great time. The girls loved to go because the "snow birds" loved little children because they reminded them of their grandchildren at home. When we visited various people, it seemed like "trick-or-treat" because all of them had some snack to give to the girls. I was amazed at the relationships my parents made as snow birds in Arizona.

Dad taught us how to work. He made sure that we always had a cow to milk, chickens to raise and feed (100 chicks every spring), pigs to slop, and horses to feed and take care of. One of my jobs was to work in the garden, which I loved then and still love today. He tried to teach me how to build things. Unfortunately, I didn't take to it, but my little brother did. He is now a great cabinet maker and can build anything.

Plus, Dad volunteered in the community and help the elderly. We had next door neighbors on both sides of us. My brothers and I hauled wood, chopped wood, shoveled more snow than we wanted, pulled weeds, and did other odd jobs for them, never taking a dime. Dad insisted on service, including working on the farm, irrigating, pulling weeds, and harvesting potatoes. I am sure we weren't happy with some of it, but we learned to serve others, truly a trait that all of us have carried with us.

So, Dad, on your 82nd birthday, I salute you and wish you a great birthday. If you can, send me a message on how in the world to grow raspberries on the high plains of eastern Wyoming. I would appreciate it.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Ode to Leadership Wyoming

Care Takers…

Rising high and majestic above the looping Snake River
loom the Tetons, full, craggy, sharp, stoic, beautiful.
From their crevices and hidden springs run tributaries,
gurgling their way from snowy outcrops and sloping ravines,

meandering toward the Snake and the mighty Pacific.
For a moment, each of us perches on the top of our peak,
staring down into the valley below and beyond.
Our thoughts and knowledge flow from us,

taking our gifts that we keep sacred yet share freely,
mixing them with others through the flow of water,
clear, clean, vibrant, confluencing downhill
or on the flat, growing larger and stronger, giving

life to the parched lands and clamoring minds around them.
From a single point on the mountain, we rise as one;
and as we head downstream, our oneness joins
with others’ oneness, and we still are one—

in thought, in deed, in wisdom, in purpose, full of gathering
and congregating our enormous wealth
of life’s gifts to share with others as we saunter
into the meadows, through lush grasses and plains—

service to our churches, service to our communities,
service to those most in need, service to our neighborhoods,
service to our families, service to ourselves.
In time, our memories remain, multiple and diverse,

filling the streams with turning conversations,
emotions that run deep, singing , perhaps even humming,
the covenant that we make to ourselves and others
on the playground or on swings in the deep night

or on the soft leather sofa in our office
or in the gondola, chugging slowly to the top
or even in early morning shadows among quaken aspen:
“If you are part of a place, you take care of it.”

It is no wonder as we stand on our pinnacles,
far above the valley yet one with it,
we sense who we are, whose we are—
for we are one, focused and committed to serve.

Monday, September 21, 2009

"Free, Free, Free: Knowledge...Bring your Own Containers"

“Free, free, free—Knowledge. Bring you own containers,” so reads a poster hanging on a wall in Jaime Escalante’s classroom (Escalante’s life was portrayed in the movie Stand and Deliver). Although some of the information we need to be successful is not free, what’s so amazing in today’s society is how much information is out there, something to the tune of doubling every 18 months.

Knowledge flows so quickly, equally dramatically as well as undramatically, that it is there for the gathering. It seems everyone is willing—or appears to be willing—to share his or her knowledge with us.

Like baby birds in a nest, sometimes all we have to do is open our mouths (our personal containers), and knowledge plops in almost effortlessly and faster than we are able to digest it. Knowledge is prolific, and intriguing questions emerge from the flow:

 How are we dealing with the information?
 Is it overwhelming us?
 Are we ignoring it?
 Are we taking advantage of it?

I believe the latter question is of grave consequence to each of us. Taking advantage of this new information will enlighten us and help us become more productive and successful in the marketplace. Consider the following five areas of “filling your containers”:

1. Research what is happening in your market place/product area. In every business sector, someone is researching something for somebody to gain, hopefully, the market edge. Of course, you have to ask yourself: Do the research results parallel my own market analysis or do I need to do one myself? Or do I need more training in certain aspects of the business? Keeping current with the research is, at best, difficult to do, even if you have someone working full time just keeping tabs on the pulse of the information. Nonetheless, knowing what is going on in your market and how you will deal with it is imperative to your future survival.

2. Capture the newest and best information. While there is a surging flow of information, some of it may not be pertinent to you and your market. After you have identified the sources for the information, then decide the most appropriate information for you. Having a “jaundiced eye” will keep you from pursuing information not relevant to your mission. Being on the “cutting edge” is always nice, especially if you want to be ahead of the game.

3. Implement the new information. You have done the research. You know the best information possible. You send your employees or yourself to be trained in the new information. Now is the time to implement the new information/ techniques and see if all of your research will pay off. Implementation may be the scariest part although you should be moderately confident you have done your homework.

4. Assess how the information works. Most companies are constantly assessing and reassessing the process of how they do a particular component of their business. They are objective enough to understand when something does not work and either dumping the “container of information” altogether or readjusting the information to fit their current operation. Whatever the case may be, make sure you are striving for continuous improvement.

5. Continue the cycle. Part of any cycle is continuously running through the process and completing it all over again and monitoring it at every step. A continuous effort in capturing the best information from the most appropriate sources; converting that information to tangible, concrete answers for your business; continually assessing to see what impact the information had on your company, both short term and long term; and starting the process all over again—all these constitute a visionary yet practical process of remaining competitive.

If all else fails, remember Jaime Escalante and always keep an open container with you. You will never know when you will need to lean over and pluck some new tidbit of information from the roaring river of data. Don’t worry if you fall in. As you dry out, you will have time to reflect your future. Good luck filling those containers.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

"Paucity of Respect"

Okay, I am confused by all of the fuss about President Obama's speech to America's students. I am confused about a our local headline that read: "Should we invite Obama to our classrooms?"

Am I missing something here or are people having some sort of historical log jam that causes brain waves to dismount and flow into some abnormal recess where they won't have to think? Having the President of the United States of American talk to our children should be a good thing.

Before I launch in, I didn't vote for President Obama, but I do believe that he believes like I believe that education is the most important ingredient to add to one's life experience in order to "see beyond the present." In fact, my formulaic motto has been this (taken from strategic planning concepts): past + the future = the present. And I think that is what President Obama has tasked himself to do. He wants students to understand that school is very, very important. I don't think there is one person alive--well, maybe a couple--who doesn't believe that education is the key to personal success and the success of economic development.

From what I can gather, President Obama wants to discuss basically three things: 1) to encourage students to work hard (since when is working hard a bad thing?); 2) to encourage students to set education goals for their futures (now, there's a novel idea to set goals so you can achieve something); and 3) help student understand the importance of taking on personal responsibility for learning (student should be taught to be lifelong learners). Tell me what is wrong with these three items?

Okay, I know that there is a particularly "curriculum" that has been devised/developed/created by the Department of Education. I realize that some of the "discussion questions" may not be what some teachers or parents would like their children to be asked. But any teacher worth his or her salt can surely devise other questions that ostensibly will encourage some critical thinking. It seems to me that for decades, teachers--me included--have attempted to inculcate critical thinking into our curricula--across the board. Truly, it cannot be that tough to create other types of discussion or assignments to be used in the classroom. I can think of dozens of ways to make President Obama's speech to students integral to classroom learning. You just have to think about it.

Now, if today's teachers could utilize holograms to "invite" presidents to their classrooms, would they invite Washington, Adams, Jackson, Lincoln, Wilson, Roosevelt, Kennedy, and other historical figures to the classroom? You bet! Who wouldn't want President Lincoln to enter their classroom to talk about a variety of issues in his time. If you remember back, there were a whole lot of people who didn't believe anything he said for almost five years. In fact, we went to war over these issues, and families were destroyed because of them. But today, I believe, we would highly encourage President Lincoln to come. Can you imagine having him come and talk about the "Gettysburg Address" and its significance to him and that time and place?

But now, President Obama--the current President of the United States, duly elected by the people--would like a few words with our children to help them understand his love of education and its importance in their lives? I personally do not think there is anything wrong with this.

President Obama talks about the "audacity of hope." All of this hoopla seems to be nothing but a "paucity of respect" for the President of the United States of America. Let's see what he says and then have the discussion--an open, respectful, and critically thought out discussion.

Monday, August 31, 2009

Baby Blessing

We had a wonderful visit with our daughter and her family. We had the glorious opportunity to participate in our granddaughter's blessing. In the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, we bless babies after they are born. The purpose of the blessing is to give them a name that will be known upon the records of the Church and throughout their lives. Additionally, the person giving the blessing--usually the father--gives the baby a blessing as the spirit dictates. Her blessing was wonderful! Heavenly Father definitely loves our new granddaughter.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Social media

Joanne and I are learning more than we ever dreamed about social media. When our daughters left home, they felt we needed a better way to connect to them. Yes, we all had e-mail--to a point. They soon had us each sign up for G-mail, which we did. Then, they showed us how to do "G-mail chat," which has been loads of fun.

Thankfully, my mother forced me to take "typing" (that's keyboarding to all of you young people) in my sophomore year. Mrs. McIntire definitely spent a bit of time with us. With G-mail chat you can type conversations to each other as fast as you can. Amazingly, my daughters can "chat" with numerous people simultaneously and keep the conversations straight. I think the most conversations I have participated in have been maybe two or three at the max, and that was a difficult thing for a guy who learned how to type on a Royal 44.

Then, after G-mail, my daughters said, "Dad, you have to have a blog." Thus, I now have a blog albeit not as delightful or grandiose as some I have seen. Nonetheless, it serves its purpose to "inform." Plus, I have a great time posting photos of our trips.

Now, after G-mail and after the blog, our daughters said, "Okay, now's the time for Facebook. They helped us get on Facebook, showed us how to post pictures, and write notes. Next thing you know, we both have a Facebook page, and we are busily posting stuff--pictures, notes, and things. I have posted dozens of pictures. Many of them have received comments, which make me happy.

I believe one of the greatest things about Facebook is this: You can find people, and they can find you; people from my graduating class have found me; people from my mission in Chile have found me; and people from our past lives in Idaho Falls, Lewiston, Boise, and Miles City have found us. Plus, we are able to keep in contact with our family members and friends.

Probably one of the coolest things about this whole social media thing is the video portion of G-mail or whatever mail package that you have. On Saturday, I was outside working in the garden when my lovely bride of 30 years called me to come in. She and my oldest daughter were chatting via G-mail video. While that is cool in and of itself, the cool thing was that there was my new granddaughter up and front and precious. We had a wonderful visit. Of course, she is only two months old and was probably wondering what in the world was her mother doing sticking her in front of a camera and saying, "Say hi to Grandma and Grandpa." I suspect she will understand more of this in a few months. Now what is better than talking to and seeing in living color your daughter and granddaughter live?

I think in our society, keeping in touch is such a difficult thing. Letter writing has, unfortunately, gone by the wayside. But social media has brought the connectivity back, perhaps not as personal as old-fashioned letters home; but it has returned people to writing albeit a bit "non Englishy..." Most people try to write decently, which I appreciate. Of course, if someone asks to be your friend, and you don't want that to happen, you don't have to "accept" them as your friend. This may seem a bit odd, but your choice of who can or cannot be your friend is strictly up to you. Of course, once you accept someone, then everyone on their list can see what is going on with you via your friend. Thus, everyone literally has a zillion friends.

So, there you have it--social media from my perspective.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Let it Howl

Let It Howl

Summer escapes sometimes unscathed.
Perhaps, it is the wind that pronounces
its blessing or curse upon all of us, shouts at us
from the west, north, and then the northwest, sometimes

simultaneously from all three.
Early morning usually dawns quiet with just a whisper
but by nine, the wind abruptly climbs
from its lethargic bed like some giant lizard

that hasn’t eaten in days, perhaps weeks.
As summer matures and ripens into fall,
the winds clamor for winter and snows and blasts
from the direct north, hoping to catch one of us unawares

at the post box to snatch the paper and fling it south
where it will melt when the sun bores down on Arizona.
But we are too cautious, perhaps arrogant,
that we will beat this nasty wind.

Let it howl like wolves at night,
just meters from the sheep in Uncle Milt’s pens.
We shall prevail and capture mail before
the winds know we are there to fetch it.

Let it howl as we dig and chisel dirt
around for the 20’ x 30’ garden.
We will prevail in growing daisies, raspberries, strawberries,
mums, grape hyacinths, petunias, and even peonies.

Let it howl that we may see its ferociousness,
its lagging red tongue of strength.
Perhaps, it can show how it shifts tumble weeds
from fence to fence, from farm to farm.

Let it howl that we may howl back,
with thick voices, choked with pride,
shake our fists, stamp our thick boots
on the hard ground, frozen tundra of the high plains.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Arches National Park's the scoop....For a mere $10.00 per carload,you can enter one of the most amazing parks in the Unites States called the Arches National Park just outside Moab, Utah. Joanne, Hailey, and I went there this past week. What an amazing place! The Visitor's Center called many of the rocks "recycled" rocks. If we could recycle rocks to look like these, we ought to get busy recycling now. I was extremely impressed with the formations. The bottom line is this: I wish we had gone in earlier, the earlier the better, and stay later so we could have taken certain pictures when the sun was just rising and others when the sun was just setting. Nevertheless, here are some of my favorites:

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

I went to the Cheyenne Frontier Days this afternoon, thanks Qwest. They invited me up to their box. Mike Ceballos and company are good folks. What a rodeo we had today. I thought I would share a few pictures that I took. The bulls won again today over the cowboys. I went down and looked at the bulls close up. They are big dudes. I have to take my hat off to bull riders. They are a brave, courageous bunch. They take their lives into their lives into their own hands, each and every time they mount one of those monsters.

So, here are some pictures.