Welcome to June. It is already all planned out!

Boy, am I glad June is here!  My wife has joined me after our long separation from job and school.  What a relief.  I don’t have to worry about her stressing herself out or being picked up by a much more dashing, intelligent, catch of a man.

We leave this week for what may be the trip of a lifetime.  How many times in a lifetime, if ever, does one get to go to Europe for 6 weeks?  We will be starting with friends in Belgium, working our way to Luxembourg, France, Switzerland, Italy, Slovakia, Germany, The Netherlands, England, Wales, Scotland, and who knows where else we may stumble.  We really cannot afford it, but why not live with some reckless abandon for a little while?  There are so many friends who do so every day of their life and seem to make it through their whole lives.  Granted, their quality may be diminished some.  But what is lost by worry seems it might be made up by the large home and toys that the self-proclaimed responsible typically don’t get to enjoy.  We leave on the 4th to return on the 16th of July.

We signed a purchase contract for a home this month.  Somewhere around the 22nd of June we will be closing on a humble home in Oklahoma City.  Who would ever have thought my first home purchase would be in Oklahoma City?  Did I ever think I would move or live in Oklahoma City.  Most certainly not.

Amanda and I just hit all three of the Idaho temples this past week.  Amanda had never been to any of them.  We have now hit all three Idaho and 11 Utah temples.  Before year end, we will have three more in that geography alone to hit to make it complete once again.  I am very sad I will be in Oklahoma City when the dedication of the Twin Falls Temple takes place.  Being so close to home, and wanting a temple closer for so long, now we get one and I cannot attend.  Amanda and I will be helping with the open house in July.  I guess that is some solace for missing the dedication.  I believe Idaho Falls and Manti are still my favorite temples.  The Rexburg Temple has so many gorgeous rooms.  However, for some reason I still prefer the sessions that are split up into all their sections.  Manti and Idaho Falls Temples both have you moving between all the rooms.  Manti has the pioneer value and beauty with a live session, but the simplicity of Idaho Falls with its rooms and movement make it a favorite.  Salt Lake certainly has the beauty but the place seems more like a zoo than a temple, especially in the summer with all the sealings.

This past week Amanda spent a day with me at work doing bench testing.  It was a beautiful day and we spent nearly all of it in Minidoka.  The Minidoka Longhorn Cafe and Whitesides Dairy was enjoyable for me.  The wastewater we play with is less than beautiful but it is part of life.  Whether we like it or not, we all have waste and somebody has to deal with it.  I thought Amanda was going to throw up at one point when we were doing some filteration.  She kept it down, luckily.  The day turned out well.  Except for the fact Amanda picked up a tick somewhere.  Not only did she pick him up, the tick dug in and started to sup near the middle of her calf.  She was not a happy camper when she discovered him.  A little polish remover and she backed right out.  Hope she got plenty to eat for the long stay in the septic tank.

For the first time in what must be at least 8 years since Grandma Ross passed away, all my siblings were back together.  Becky was coming through Southern Idaho so Scott organized a BBQ.  All five of us where there.  It was really quite a bit of fun and I enjoyed myself.  Even though we were never really close, I am glad we are still cordial and can enjoy ourselves when we get together.  Vicki, Dad’s first wife, was even there.  Dad and Jan were there as well.  Andra brought Brian and Daniel and little Daniel was certainly a favorite.

I know I have not been writing as much.  Despite more people reading the blog than ever before, I just don’t feel like I have much to write.  A couple of people want me to write more relevant things that would pertain to them, but how does one write interesting things for everyone?  Then, how does anyone write for someone else and keep their voice and soul into it?

Prairie Home Companion

Well, I just put out a whole philosophical e-mail and thought I would take a moment to do an actual update on life.
I am sitting here listening to Prairie Home Companion enjoying a few good laughts.  Earlier I listened to Die Frau Ohne Schatten (The woman without a shadow) by Richard Strauss.  It was fascinating to listen to.  Made me want to learn my German.  Funny how music can take us other places.
I have just finished my second week at Bank of America.  Things are going very well.  I am learning many more things about mortgages and all the documentations that attend.  The lessons mostly center around learning the DOS-based system they use for processing all these loans.  I have to admit it is a very detailed system that handles thousands of people working on it at all times with large amounts of information.  Impressive as that it, they tell us it has only gone down once in the last 10 years!  They have replaced one or two systems with Windows applications and they crash regularly so they are not in any rush to be replacing the old DOS-based system.  Therefore, I have to learn the codes and names to navigate the system to check and update information.  They teach us how to check the documents and how to put it into the system.  We were done covering the documents within the first week.  I have found out the position I will be in is basically an assistant underwriter.  It has a whole host of names, but currently it is Home Servicing Specialist (HSS).
Last Saturday and Sunday we had Stake Conference.  I think it was the most powerful Stake Conference I have ever been to.  I have been to some very good ones.  Two were in the Logan Tabernacle (one for the Logan University 4th Stake the other for the Logan University 5th Stake), another in the Springfield Missouri South Stake Center, and the last I can think of was a Stake Conference for the Chester Stake in Wrexham, Wales.  The most impressive part in Missouri was the music and the unity I felt within the congregation.  The Chester Stake was powerful for the fact of some amazing talks given, one particularly by our mission president.  The one for the 5th Stake at USU was that it was basically turned into a stake testimony meeting.  That in and of itself changed the tenor of the meeting but all were invited by name by the Stake Presidency.  The last one for the 4th Stake, I can think of two conferences in particular.  One had Elder Burton, the Presiding Bishop and the other was all the Presidency’s remarks.  President Cherrington usually gave a great talk at all conferences.  So this conference is in good company.  It wasn’t the first conference I have been to with an apostle, but this one had an apostle acted as we expect them to.  Elder Holland gave some powerful comments.
In Priesthood he taught us about Satan binding our tongues, the difference between lips and hearts, and the difference between forms of power and the real thing.  He basically told us we are doing too many things without our hearts and without conviction.  Time to step up to act in the name of the priesthood like we are expected to do.  In Saturday evening, we were taught how we live in a broken world.  Whether you like it or not, things are not perfect.  He taught us about the Atonement and how all broken things will be restored to their proper order at the right time.  Then he pounded out the importance of not whining, not complaining, and going forward in our lives with faith.  He was very direct in those who complain or say something is wrong in life.  He said nobody has the right to complain or wallow in the misery when the Savior took care of them for us.  Time to walk in faith, get up, and be about doing good.  The Sunday session proved to be just as good.  He spoke about his personal experiences of President Hinckley and his prophetic calling.  It was fascinating to learn more about the personal life of a prophet.  He spoke to us about the importance of the gospel and the role of the church.  Again, the topic had to do with looking beyond ourselves and seeing the big picture.  He ended with the importance and the role of the Holy Ghost.  How as latter day saints we live below our privileges and don’t claim the rights that are ours.  We do not appreciate what has been given to us and need to wake up.
Even though I have heard similar talks, the basic point is the power by which he spoke, namely the Spirit of God.  It literally took the message directly to my heart.  I noticed at a couple of points how my bosom literally trembled at what it was he was speaking.  I recognize the power which he conveyed.
In other news, we have been looking for a second car.  With Amanda needing to travel long distances for school this fall, it isn’t going to work to have one car.  So we are looking for a nice little car under $5,000.  So far it has been a miserable failure.  There are very few cars that are below that limit and what we are finding feel like questionable deals.  We went to look at a little Audi A4 for $4,700 and he sold the car at noon.  So we took a little Passat for a drive that he said he would sell to us for $4,000.  It only has 103,000 miles on it.  We took it for a test drive and something about the transmission raised all sorts of red flags for me.  We will have to see if something else pops up.  I may be too picky.  I don’t want a car that smells of smoke or animals.  I would like one which runs well.  I would like one that isn’t completely ugly, like a stationwagon.  Most people take such bad care of cars.  Many have rips in the seats, big marks in the doors or dash, and more.  I keep waiting for someone to give us one so we don’t have to take on a little more debt, but that probably won’t happen soon.  We will have to keep you updated.
Well, I believe that is enough of an update for now.

Thanks be given

There is not a whole lot to report on at the present.  We enjoyed a Thanksgiving here in blessed Virginia.

Amanda and I drove to Massanutten, a resort up in the hills.  We went up to spend Thanksgiving with Amanda’s Uncle and Aunt.  It turned out to be an interesting day.  I enjoyed the drive up to the area.  Gordonsville was the highlight of the day, the town having a personality completely its own.  A rare thing it seems these days.

Massanutten wasn’t anything to boast about.  They do have a very large indoor water park.  Other than that, it was just a bunch of condos in the middle of the mountains.  Don’t get me wrong, the mountains were beautiful.  How much more beautiful without the “hello, here I am” presence of the resort? 

Amanda and I have determined we will never go out to enjoy our Thanksgiving meal again.  It seems to undermine what the day is about.  Who would have ever thought it was Thanksgiving.  Where was any resemblance of Thanksgiving, other than a commercial version of the foods associated with the date? 

We went back and pretty much watched the TV for the rest of the day.  Driving home, we were relieved to leave the situation which seemed lacking so much.

Hopefully, I can pay some homage to the day here even though the day did not provide much.

This week, I discovered I am the posterity of individuals who lived at Jamestown.  Yes, next years celebration of 400 years in America, honored even by the Queen, is directly relevant to me.  Not just through this nation, but through my ancestors who lived there.  The Clark (or Clarke) family, the Summers, Lumpkin, and Thompson groups I am all related to.  There is a possibility my Clark’s even come from the famous John Clark, who was the Master’s Mate on the Mayflower.  He had been to Jamestown before, imprisoned in Spain, made the trip of the Mayflower, and eventually made his way back to live in Jamestown.  He died not too much afterwards.  I am also a descendent of the Graham Clan who settled parts of Virginia, West Virginia, and Kentucky.  They extended into Missouri, Indiana, Iowa, and Ohio as well.  I am an American very deep in some roots.  One of those Grahams was a personal friend of George Washington, and convinced him to help endow a new school he had founded.  Yep, a Graham founded Washington and Lee.  My history includes three future presidents, universities, and other numerous recorded aids to society.

My roots expand the ocean many times.  My roots run to Wales, Ireland, Scotland, and England.  My ancestors were in the court of rulers; my ancestors even ruled parts of the Roman Empire.  My ancestors come from Sweden, Norway, and the largest number from Germany.  I have family who can be traced into Russia, Australia, and a score of other nations.  The foundations I have been given are broad and inclusive.  I am so very fortunate.  Each of us have a history which began long before we were born.

Those blessings extend beyond my family.  This nation, which has its hopes in liberty and freedom are one of the greatest blessings to me.  I am very fortunate.  It may be a weakness in many ways, but is a great boon in many more ways.  I pray for the principles upon which it is founded to continue to go to the whole earth.  I pray that those principles would be grasped by other nations and be implemented into their states.  I pray our nation might return to the principles of truth and freedom for which it is founded.

I remember the lives of those who were given for this freedom I enjoy and others do not.  Two of my Great Grandfather’s were gassed in WWI and both lived to tell the tale.  Both met painful and difficult deaths due to it.  One grandfather has purple hearts to show for his wounds and success in WWII.  The other grandfather tried to enroll, but due to health issues was not allowed to be a part.

I pray for the soldiers of freedom everywhere.  I care not what nation they represent, as long as they are there for liberty, freedom, and truth.  I pray God will bless those who represent those hopes and ideals.  That those who do not represent those ideals, or those they represent, will be thwarted in their designs.

It is with gratitude I offer my thanks to He who makes death not a fear.  I thank and give adoration to the Savior of all mankind, even Christ that we might all live again.  That despite wickedness and fear, we have nothing to fear but sin.  I express my deepest thanks for the restoration of His church back on the earth and the miracles which abound about us.  The gathering of lost nations, the restoration of Israel, the building up of the kingdom in preparation for the king whose right it is to rule.  My deepest sympathies are with the restoration and furthering of eternal purposes upon the earth.  My greatest joys and delight come from this impressive, yet almost unrecognizable effort happening in our midst.

I am pleased to have been born at this time of such great blessing.  It is with a certain hope I see the future, despite all which is prophesied to come upon us.  So much pain that the Saints will barely escape with their lives.  We have seen little or nothing of what is to come.  Nations will rise up against nations and desolation shall abound on all the earth.  Those of the order of God have not need to fear though.  This I am grateful for.  For the Priesthood which shall protect those within the covert from the storm, for the Resurrection that those who will be lost; both for their own sins and for a more full judgment upon the wicked.

Most close to home I thank for those who are dearest to me.  I am thankful for those who so deeply touch the deepest parts of my soul.  Many who are now separated from me by death, but that too shall not be for long.  My dearest wife, and all her splendor for which I am a blessed soul.  My parents who fought and struggled so hard for my upbringing and their abiding love for me. 

There is a whole multitude of souls I could reference for their influence in my life.  The more I learn and contemplate, the more I realize how intricately every soul is linked to one another.  Even years later we remember the influence of another.  There are influences from childhood, influences from events far away, and even influence from beyond the grave.

My heart is full.  I am thankful for all things. 

Thoughts in Malad

One of the best parts about being able to spray is that you have a nearly endless amount of time to think about anything you choose.  What a wonderful opportunity.  I hear of these people who are bored with their job, or have nothing to do, and even this job, that it is so boring.  Well, that tells the state of their mind doesn’t it?  What a wonderful opportunity.  It is like the old fairy tale of the hero getting into the cave of precious gems, with only one stipulation, that he can have any one he wants, but only one.  How sad that so many people choose to leave the cave with no gem, or with a tawdry, poor quality gem.
Anyhow, when I arrived at Larry’s this morning, he asked me about my meeting with Larry and Lori Kaye Gleim.  I told him about my experience and what it was they said.  He was disappointed that she did not want to get to know the family any.  He told me that he broke his leg and ended up staying with Donald and Carolyn for a time.  For about 4 1/2 months, nearly every day he would stay with baby Lori Kaye and take care of her.  He said he would never forget holding her on his knee and how beautiful she was.  He said there are some similarities between Toni and Lori Kaye, but he considered Lori Kaye beautiful as a baby.  That was only confirmed when he met her at her Grandfather’s, Harley Jepsen, funeral.  He said he could see the point of her keeping it quiet, but just did not understand it.
It was an interesting starter thought for the day.  I sprayed for a couple of hours thinking about that.  I think of the doctrine that at the last day all things shall be made known.  Those things which are secret shall be shouted from the rooftops.  Now, whether that has any bearing on me, I do not know.  However, Lori Kaye’s mother, and Lori Kaye will some day have to face that.  At some point, Lori Kaye’s own children will have to be told who is their biological grandfather.  At some point, Carolyn, for what reason she is hiding all this, pride, children’s hearts, or something else, will have to face it an answer it.  It will all have to be sorted out.  Especially someone who is where she is now, you would hope the wife of a Stake President would be more honest with her own family.  The wife of a High Councilman, who is a representative to a student stake, would also be more honest with their own family.  Anyhow, to each their own.  However, I would feel that I would seek to know the man to whom I was born in the covenant to.  The man to whom untold priesthood blessings will come to me.
I finally took a moment to drive near the elementary school, and notice the foundation of the old Evan’s store still there across the street (the old Malad High School).  It was Diane Evans Spackman’s grandparents store.  (I stayed with the Spackman family in Eagle last year.  She told me about it last year, finally I took the time to pay attention to see if I could see it.  It is still there.
I sprayed this lady’s lawn who was in the back yard while I was working.  We started talking.  She told me about her husband’s death in February (Bill Price).  She told me about his death, how it happened, and how she is struggling.  I was not sure how to reply.  But I just listened.  She asked me about my winter and I told her about my marriage.  She was excited and told me about her marriage.  Eventually, I found out she currently lives in what was her parents house.  Then, found out her father was a four term Senator to the state of Idaho.  She asked me if I liked to read, and I told her I did and biographies were my favorite.  I told her I was currently reading a biography on Borah.  She then told me that U.S. Senator Borah was a friend of her father.  In fact, she remembered her father and Sen. Borah talking on the front porch of that house.  I was surprised.  She told me about her memories of the man.  Who would have thought I could get personal testimony on a man whose biography I was reading at the time.  I was very impressed with how genuine Helen Daniels Price was.  I spent a good half hour visiting with her about the lives of others.  She was a librarian in Malad for 25 years or so.  Such great people in the world everywhere. 
At some down time, I read some of the Nuffer family history that Larry gave to me.  It was a very interesting read about Neuffen, Germany.  Also some of the surrounding towns my family is from.  It was interesting to learn that John Nuffer (son of John Christoph Nuffer, my Great, Great, Great Grandfather) studied architecture and building in Stuttgart before converting and coming to America.  That is why he ended up building so many buildings including the Oneida Academy.  He also worked on the Logan Temple.  It was interesting to read his blessing by Apostle Teasdale and setting apart as a Seventy before going back to Germany for a mission.  It will be interesting to read more.
I visited with Lorraine Dives today, whose son is Larry Dives, who lives in Pleasantview, and works at the Malad Post Office.  We had a good visit about her yard and how it is improving.  It is these types of experiences that I like.  Mingling with those individuals who are the salt of the earth and go about doing their own thing.
Of other news, something to add to the usual surprises of life.  Amanda returned home on Thursday evening to find that there was a fine layer of dust throughout the house.  Originally, due to the dark nature of the dust, it was assumed to be coal dust.  There are workers replacing the old coal furnace in the basement, and somehow they ended up shooting dust up into both apartments. Our landlord, John Payne, send a nice cleaning lady to take care of the problem.  Saves us from having the clean the whole home I suppose. But it was not a happy thing for Amanda to discover.
Well, that will do for today.  Tomorrow is spraying in Malad again.  I have to admit, it is the only place in the country I know of, and somehow a great source of pride to me, that they fly an American flag on every other light pole on the main streets.  The clincher, on the other poles there is a Welsh Flag.  Reminded me of my mission, and I am excited that a city takes its heritage to heart and shows it.  So many cities have become mainstream Babylonia.  Here is a town who has not forgotten some of what it is and where it came from.  Plus, I have a special place in my heart for Cymru.  I even bought a Welsh Book of Mormon a while back and would like to learn to read it.    I hope Malad is doing it for the right reasons, and continues to do it, for it is a wonderful thing.
Tomorrow Amanda and I attend Prairie Home Companion.  I am really excited.  Not that I have to leave at 5:30 in the morning to finish work in time, but that I am going to personally attend a Prairie Home Companion.  I have always admired them, even from when I was in Junior High.  Also, tomorrow night after Prairie Home Companion, Amanda and I attend the last Utah Temple, Ogden.  That will complete our goal of attending all 11 temples.  If we had time, I would like to get in both Idaho Temples (soon to be 4!).