Utah Wedding

For Easter weekend, we went to a wedding in Utah.  The kids were a little more dressed up than normal, so I thought I would share a couple of those photos.  There were many more, but these were just from the ones that I took.

Hiram & Aliza in front of a Salt Lake City Temple window

 

Hiram & Aliza in front of Salt Lake City Temple doors

 

Aliza, Lillian, Grandpa Bryan Hemsley, & Hiram walking to church on Easter Sunday in Kaysville

I am happy spring has finally arrived.

Lillie passed out in Nursery from wedding exhaustion!

Apostolic Brush

Ruby and David Haight, Paul Ross, Rose and John Byrom

Ruby and David Haight, Paul Ross, Rosie and John Byrom

I stumbled upon this picture the other day and thought maybe it was time to share it.  This picture has an interesting story behind it.

On the far right are John and Rosie Byrom.  Rosie is mostly in the shadow so it is difficult to make her out.  I served in the Runcord Ward from around December 1999 to around August 2000.  John served as Ward Mission Leader and Rosie as a Ward Missionary.  (The Byroms have since separated and divorced).  I served in the ward for a long time and they remained in their callings for the entire time, so we built a friendship which, I feign to believe, still exists to this day.

I returned home from my mission in December 2000.  It was not long into 2001 that I learned the Byroms were planning on visiting Utah.  Of course, I invited them to spend some time in Idaho.

During the majority of time I served in Runcorn I had a companion by the name of Brad Hales.  Also in our district was a senior sister companionship of Meriel Peterson and Patricia Kleinkopf.  We were all native Idahoans and were in close proximity of each other.  It was natural that the Byroms also wanted to visit each of them while they were in Idaho.

This particular day we drove to Oakley, Idaho to visit Sister Peterson.  We had an enjoyable breakfast and conversation.  Sister Peterson decided she wanted to give us the tour of Oakley because there were some architectural gems that she thought the Byroms would enjoy.  I grew up near Oakley so I was familiar with many of these local landmarks.

We all piled into my little Camry and away we drove.  We had not made it very far driving down some of the streets of Oakley when Sister Peterson announced, “Wait, David is home, he will want to meet you!”  She had me turn around and we pulled into a little home in Oakley.

I had no clue who David was and I was not familiar with the home we were now pulling into the driveway.  We all exited the car.  In the yard there was a man trimming his hedges with a large straw hat and a large set of sunglasses that you only see old people wear.

Since Sister Peterson indicated that David would want to meet the Byroms because they were from England, I remained at the front of my car in the driveway and leaned back against it in the hot, summer, morning sun.

I have to give a little bit of background on the month prior.  We are in the latter half of July 2001 at the point of this picture (I recollect it was the 21st, but may be wrong).  I had just spent considerable time in Hawaii with family at the beginning of the month.  During that time I picked myself up a shirt and a shell necklace among other items.  As you can see in the picture, I am wearing my red shirt (not the blatant Hawaiian design you regularly see).  For years I thought I was in a pair of board shorts too, but this picture corrects my memory on that tidbit.  But I had continuously wore my new puka shell necklace since the trip to Hawaii.

Back to the story, I am leaning on the front of my car watching the Byroms enter the back yard through the hedge and approach this old man in a large straw hat and holding an electric hedge trimmer.  The man stopped trimming and turned to greet his trespassers.  Curiously, after what was a short couple of moments, probably no more than 20 seconds of conversation, this man leaves the Byroms and Sister Peterson and headed my direction.

My first reaction was that I was doing something wrong so I looked around to see my misstep.  Alas, not seeing I had done anything wrong I approached the man and met him near his hedge.  He had set down his trimmer before arriving to me and he pulled his hand out of his glove to shake my hand.  I shook hands with him and he with his free hand reached up and took of his hat and glasses and asked me my name.

My first thought was something along these lines, “Boy, this David fellow sure looks familiar.”  He asked my name and I gave it.  He asked about my Ross name and whether or not it was Scottish.  I informed him it was my name but not the name of which my ancestors carried.  He then informed me that Ross was a common name in Scotland where he had served as a Mission President.

He then grew quiet and he sidled up closer to me and put the hand with the hat and glasses in the small of my back while still holding my other hand in a handshake.  He was now close enough that his face was in my shadow (and he was considerably shorter than me).  He then broke the handshake and with that hand reached up and touched my puka shell necklace.

“What is this?”

“My necklace?”

“I am disappointed that you have fallen from the principles of the gospel that we teach as missionaries.  We teach than men and women have separate and distinct roles and this is confusing the two.”

My first impression was, “How did you know I served a mission?”

This man then turned to walk away back to the Byroms and Sister Peterson.  As he walked away, the thought occurred, “You have just been rebuked by an Apostle.”

Then it dawned.  David was David B Haight, one of the twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  This was an individual I recognized as a Priesthood Leader and on my first meeting with him, I had been rebuked.

I stood there reeling from what had just happened.  It stung.  David went to the back door of his house and summoned his wife Ruby.  Ruby appeared and they all stood 25 feet away from me chit chatting about England, Scotland, and whatever else they were talking about.

What seemed like an eternity was likely only a minute or so, if that.  I remember reaching up and taking the puka shell necklace off and holding it in my hand.  I dwelt on what was really an unintended and probably unwanted visit that was a bother to me and this old man.  Sister Peterson just commented he was home and a few lines of dialogue just ended up potentially effected my eternities.  According to him I was already on the path, so I guess it did not matter what he said except to correct my backsliding ways.

Next thing I knew, the distant conversation between the Haights and Byroms had stopped and this Apostle was returning to me.  He again held out his hand as if to invite another handshake. I held out my hand with the necklace in it and he cupped his hand to receive whatever I was offering.  I dropped the necklace into his hand and once he realized what it was he let it drop to the ground.

He held out his hand again inviting mine in a handshake and I clasped his.  He sidled up close to me again, put his other hand in the small of my back, and was close enough to be in my shadow and that I could smell the salt in his old man sweat, and he continued…

“Where did you serve your mission?”  (I remember thinking that was an ironic question since the Byroms were from England, Sister Peterson served in England, and he asked where the fourth member of the party served his mission?)

“England Manchester Mission”

“How long have you been home?”

(After a quick mental tally) “Nine months”

“Elder, you hold the Priesthood.  You have a duty to uphold that Priesthood.  You should have been married by now.”

He released my hand, pulled his hand from the small of my back, turned, and walked away.  Maybe 4 steps later he turned around and said, “When it happens, I want to know about it.”

He returned to a conversation with Ruby, Sister Peterson, and the Byroms.

I stood there while they chatted for a few more minutes.  I do not recall hearing anything of the conversation between them, even if I was close enough to have heard.

Rosie had a picture taken of the occasion.  Sister Peterson sacrificed herself in the moment to take the photo that now memorializes this occasion.

I shook hands again with Elder David Haight and Sister Ruby Haight and we headed on down the road to see some other homes.  I ended up driving many more hours that day to Boise, Idaho City, Stanley, and elsewhere chauffeuring the Byroms through some of the sights of Idaho.  Rosie Byrom teased me about the moment the rest of the time I was with them.  After all, it is not every day that you get rebuked by an Apostle.  I cannot recall if they overheard the conversation or if I told them about it.  I cannot imagine that they overheard the conversation due to the close proximity in which David and I spoke that day.

Oddly enough, it weighed on me for a long time.  It became the butt of jokes as time went on, especially as David continued to age.  He was already over 95 at the time of my meeting him.  Roommates and friends would indicate that I better hurry or else I would not fulfill the rest of my duty to let David know when it happened.  I will not lie, it became a great story to tell people.  People loved to hear about my rebuke by an Apostle.

I regularly tell the story to individuals I am close to and that wear a necklace.  Missionaries I worked with I regularly told the story, especially if they wore a necklace.  I admit, I never wore a necklace or bracelet of any type since that date.  I know a number of missionaries who have “fallen from the principles we teach as missionaries” and forsaken their evil ways.  Honestly, I do not know that the story is one that should be heeded by others.  But for the deep effect it had upon me at the time and the power in which he spoke to me, I recognize it was for me.  Others should be careful about applying revelation of others to themselves.  But I do believe there is a principle here that we can learn, I just don’t know that I can very clearly articulate it.  I know the principle clearly for me, but don’t know how narrow or general to make it in application to others.

I remember Rosie reminding me that if I properly repent, I would be married within another 9 months.  Boy if that did not apply a little pressure!

As a side, I did pick up my little puka shell necklace and ended up giving it to a friend when I returned to Missouri later in August.  I don’t believe she has any clue what that little necklace meant to me.

There is more to the story.

On the following Monday, I believe 23 July 2001, I was in Salt Lake City with the Byroms.  After an endowment session, Rosie announced we were to go to the Church Administration Building.  She did not tell us why and I thought she just wanted to see the sights from the Church Office Building.  We walked in the Church Office Building and after Rosie talked to the man at the desk, she said we were in the wrong building and we needed to go to the Church Administration Building.  I informed her that the Church Administration Building was not really open to the public.  Rosie announced that we had an appointment.

In light of my experience a few days before, I was not really thrilled about our appointment in the Church Administration Building.  We walked around to the front door of the Church Administration Building and walked in.  As we approached the man at the security desk he asked,

“Are you the Byroms?”

Rosie responded, “Yes.”

“We have been waiting for you.”  (Never a very heartwarming phrase, whether the morgue, jail, CIA, bank, or Church Administration Building)

The man then responded, “You will need to leave your bags here, take the elevator to the fourth floor, take a right, and it is the last door on the left.  I will let them know you are coming up.”

We entered the elevator and headed to the fourth floor.  Rosie then turned and commented to me, “John helped provide security and drive for Elder Ballard while he (Elder Ballard) was in England for the Preston Temple Dedication.  He told us that if we were ever in Utah to stop and pay him a visit.”

Suddenly the realization came to me that I was going to visit with my second Apostle in less than a week.  I am a fairly laid back guy but felt some apprehension after the experience just days before.  We turned the corner and there stood M Russell Ballard in the doorway.  He invited us in to his office, introduced us to his secretary, and then ushered us into his office.  Across from his desk, I think, there were two nice wing-backed chairs.  Another chair was already there for me, or we pulled up a chair.  Elder Ballard left the office for a moment and then reappeared pushing a little chair toward me.  We were already all seated and he asked,

“Where is your wife?”

“I am not married.”

“Oh, that is something you will have to fix.”

He turned to push the little chair back out the door.  I heard Rosie chuckle and comment, “In the mouth of two or three witnesses…”

Elder Ballard returned and took his seat and we had a nice conversation that probably did not take more than 15 minutes.  Once again, Rosie had a picture taken.

Paul Ross, Rosie and John Byrom, Elder Ballard

Paul Ross, Rosie and John Byrom, M Russell Ballard

That was the extent of the interaction and I felt some sting from the second witness of my duty to uphold the Priesthood.  But it was a pleasant experience.  Rosie reminded me often after that, “In the mouth of two or three witnesses shall every word be established.”

Well, time passed and eventually Elder David B Haight did pass from this veil of tears at the end of July 2004, three years after our encounter.  Fortunately, Elder Haight and I did have an opportunity to talk again regarding our first interaction that lessened the blow of the occasion.  Nevertheless, roommates and many friends called after Elder Haight’s passing to let me know how dire my situation was now that the revelator had passed and I had not fulfilled my duty.

Rosie commented to me that I could fulfill my duty by reporting my marriage to Elder Ballard when the time came.

Well, forward a few more years and I became enamored with a little red-headed girl from Kaysville, Utah.  She came to enjoy her time with me and after a while we would end our walks with a little dancing on the porch of the Alumni House at Utah State University.  It became a regular thing to end our walks and evenings out with a dance and closing conversation on the porch of the Alumni House.  I dare say we danced on the porch of that building more than 60 times.  It was on the porch of this little Alumni House that I made an unofficial proposal to Ms. Hemsley.  It just seemed like the right place.

Months later, Amanda and I returned to Logan under the guise of visiting some friends.  While on the campus I took her to that little porch of the Alumni House and there after midnight, now on 4 July 2005, I fell to my knee and proposed to her.  Of course she said yes and we danced and kissed there on the porch of the Alumni House.  Interestingly, before we left that night, I caught sight of a huge portrait hanging inside the doors that open to the porch that had become an important part of our courtship.  As I looked closer, I could see the familiar sight of a man whose face I knew.  As I got a little closer to see in the dark the portrait lit only by fire escape signs it dawned on me it was a portrait of David B Haight.

If that was not a little coincidental, and perhaps a little creepy, I do not know what is.  Elder Haight’s portrait had actually witnessed some of the most personal moments of my courtship.  The building I had only known as the Alumni House is properly named the David B Haight Alumni Center.  Somehow it seemed the whole experience had just came full circle.

We sent a wedding invitation to Elder M Russell Ballard with a short note explaining that due to Elder Haight’s passing I was sending the note and invitation to him to fulfill my duty.  He responded with a card thanking me for my note and invitation and suggested I consider my duty fulfilled.  He also apologized for not being able to attend our reception (which I am glad about, surely some further duty might have been laid upon me if he had!)

There is my story for the above photo with the Haights and Byroms.  Maybe some day I can tell my story about Elder Hales (the Apostle, not my missionary companion)…

Aliza’s Four Generations

Maybe it is a product of our day where people live longer, but Aliza is fortunate to have 3 of her great grandparents living at this time.  For family history purposes, I thought I might post these pictures of Aliza with her great grandparents.  Further, I thought I would post a picture or two that Amanda and I have with our great grandparents.

Here is a picture of Aliza with Amanda’s paternal grandfather, DeLece (“D”) Hemsley. This picture was taken at a party in Kaysville, Utah for Amanda’s brother, Derek, upon coming home from his two-year mission in July.  We took the opportunity for a couple of photos with family.

(l-r): DeAnne, D, and Bryan Hemsley with Aliza and Amanda

This is Amanda’s paternal grandmother, Shanna Thompson.  This photo was also at Derek’s party.

(l-r): Mel and Shanna Thompson; Paul, Aliza, and Amanda; Bryan and Jill Hemsley

Lastly, here is my paternal grandfather, Milo Ross.  We took these pictures, the day after at Derek’s homecoming party, at Grandpa’s house in Plain City, Utah.  I will post three pictures because I think they are good photos.  This first one shows a great smile on Grandpa, Aliza, and Amanda.  I also like the profile of Grandpa.

Grandpa’s first sight of Aliza

I like this one because Aliza looks as cute as she always does.  For being 90, Grandpa can sure pick her up and throw her in the air with ease.

Here is one we took of the four generations with my sister, Andra, and her son, Daniel. Grandpa has two of his great grandchildren in this picture (and Dad has two of his grandchildren).

Andra, Milo (Jr), Daniel, Milo (Sr), Paul, Aliza

Fortunately, Aliza has now had her photo taken with all of her living Great Grandparents.  Amanda was also fortunate to have such a photograph with all of her living Grandparents and Great Grandparents.  Even more, ALL great grandparents and grandparents are in the same photo!  Here is that photo from the day of her baby blessing in Kaysville.  LeRoy, D, Shanna, and Clara are all Amanda’s Grandparents.  Belle is D’s mother.  Walter and June are Shanna’s father and step-mother.

Back (l-r): LeRoy Holden, D Hemsley, Bryan, Jill, and Amanda Hemsley, Mel and Shanna Thompson. Front: Clara Holden, Belle Hemsley, June and Walter Hansen.

I had three Great Grandparents who were alive when I was born.  Unfortunately, I do not seem to have a photo in my possession with my Andra Great Grandparents despite the fact that I was 10 and 11 years old when they passed.  Oddly, I have pictures of my Great Grandpa and Grandma Andra that I was present when the photo was taken, like the one below.  This is my mother’s maternal grandparents about 1989.

Mary and Bill Andra

This is my mother’s paternal grandmother and some of the rest of the family at her sister’s funeral, Edna Coley Neilson.  My Great Grandma Lillian Bowcutt (remarried in 1953 after her husband Joseph Jonas died in 1932) is in the center of this photo and is the mother to the two ladies beside her and the four men in front.  I am more of a footnote in the photo, but at least I have one with Great Grandma Bowcutt in the same picture.

Far back (l-r): Unknown, Larry Talbot, Unknown (completely unseen), and Unknown. Middle: Jimmie Jonas, Hilma Jonas, Lillian Talbot, Lillian Bowcutt, LeReta Andersen, Lona Jonas, Colleen Elliott.  Front: Spencer Jonas, Joseph Jonas, Ellis Jonas, Evan Jonas, Paul Ross, Jackie Jonas, Andra Ross.

William and Maria Wagstaff

Back row: Willard, William, Annie, Parley, Maria, Jesse. Front row: Elsie, Edna, Herbert.

Since this is another peripheral line, I will not get to write much on this family.  But this photo I thought deserved to be shared with others.

Maria Magdalena Wanner, the mother of this family in the photo, is the sister to my Johann Georg (John George) Wanner Jr.

William Addison Wagstaff was born 7 November 1860 in Kirstead, Pinxton, Derbyshire, England.  He passed away 31 May 1931 in Ogden, Weber, Utah.

Maria Magdalena Wanner was born 12 Sepember 1873 in Grünkraut, Tübingen, Württemberg to Johann Georg Wanner and Anna Maria Schmid.  Her whole family joined the LDS church in 1891 and immigrated to the US in 1892 settling in Logan, Cache, Utah.  She passed away 23 October 1952 in Ogden.

William and Maria were married 17 June 1896 in the Logan LDS Temple.  To this marriage were born 11 children.  All of which were born in Glendale, Franklin (then Oneida County), Idaho.

George William Wagstaff born 26 January 1897, died 4 February 1897.

James Addison Wagstaff born 24 June 1898, died 14 March 1913.

Annie Eliza Wagstaff born 27 December 1899, died 20 December 1940.  I do not think she married.

Wilford John Wagstaff born 28 August 1901, died 23 June 1903.

Parley Leroy Wagstaff born 9 April 1903, died 18 Jan 1996.  Married Eliza Dorothea Blanch 14 March 1929.

Willard Lesley Wagstaff born 3 March 1905, died 21 January 1973.  Married Mary Isabell Gibson 19 October 1927.

Jesse Olsen Wagstaff born 9 January 1907, died 27 October 1991.  Married Berta Edna Gibby 28 October 1936.

Herbert Spencer Wagstaff born 11 November 1908, died 19 March 1962.  I do not believe he married.

Edna Leona Wagstaff born 10 July 1910, died 11 January 1997 in Kaysville, Davis, Utah.  Married Horace Raymond Owen 10 March 1933.

Elsie Magdalena Wagstaff born 7 August 1912, died 4 December 1990.  Married William C Coleman 17 January 1974.  I do not know if she had a marriage before that.

Albert Wanner Wagstaff born 8 July1915, died 19 August 1970.  Married Marvel Irene Higley 2 October 1948.

The entire family moved to West Weber, Weber, Utah after the last child and before 1920 and remained there the rest of their lives.  Most of these children died in or near the Ogden area.  One or two returned to the Preston, Franklin, Idaho area, probably due to relationships from before the move.

The individuals in the photograph above are as follows from left to right, front row consists of the three children in front.  The photo above was taken about 1914 after James had died, but before Albert was born.  Aren’t they a cute little family?

If you have more information to add to this family, I would be happy to correct or add to it.

Shout from Idaho

I am writing from sunny and green Idaho.  The amazing thing is another rain-storm is pondering the roll through right now.  The reservoirs are all full and life seems to be looking pretty good here.  The locals say it has been a bit humid for the past few days, but I can handle 20 or 30% humidity with little issue.  Especially after 100+ Oklahoma with a heat index into the cent teens.  I thought I would share a couple of thoughts of our little trip.

This morning found us at the bright and beautiful Twin Falls Temple.  I will have to post some pictures later, but it was a full session.  It was a clear morning and we could not have asked for more.  We ran into my cousin on the session and it was fun to catch up with her.  We took some pictures after we got out as Dad and Jan were going in.  Amanda needed some R&R so we came back and crashed for this afternoon.  We did have lunch with Ms. Felicia Poteet and her cutest daughter, Evie.  I am glad I have friends, that I get to hang out with them, and learn from their life experiences.  Where would we be without family and friends?

The week was busy getting Derek off into the MTC (Missionary Training Center) in Provo.  All went off, pretty much without a hitch, on Wednesday.  His farewell went well, he spoke well, and the family congregated to the Hemsley home in Kaysville.  All enjoyed the food, spent some good quality time with family, and plenty of stories.  I was exhausted after the whole thing and I didn’t even have a role to play in the open house.  There must have been 50-70 people who came through the home during the open house.  We helped Derek pack, finish shopping, fulfill a few last requests, and enter the MTC.  We also had a meeting or two with friends of Amanda’s from high school to catch up on old times.  We stopped to visit Amanda’s Grandpa in Springville, Utah as well.

We drove up to Idaho yesterday but took our time doing it.  We took the old highway from Snowville up through Strevell, Bridge, City of Rocks, Oakley, and home.  Everything was so green from all the rain and it looked good.  We enjoyed the drive.  We took some pictures of the old homes in Elba, Idaho.  Someday we want to design our own home with a design that is both unique but that has some classic designs, one of which is found in the early pioneer homes.

Tonight we head off to a melodrama at the restored Wilson Theatre in Rupert.  Tomorrow morning we have the Scout Breakfast at the Rupert Square and then we will watch the parade.  Tomorrow is also Dad’s birthday.  Jan’s was last week.  We treated them to dinner last night and the show tonight.  I am certainly looking forward to the parade.  Then we drive back down to Kaysville to watch fireworks at fly out Sunday Morning.

Tuesday Derek and I went hiking up Adams Canyon near Kaysville, Fruit Heights, Layton.  We hiked it very quickly and then pretty much jogged all the way down.  I sure did hurt the next day.  I thought I was getting old but Derek felt the same way the next day so it wasn’t just me!  We also got some pictures at the waterfall which I will have to share as well.  Anyhow, no nuggets of truth in this entry.  I don’t do them as often as I used to.  Someday I will be smart and have something to offer…

June 09 is here

A quick update for the week.  Cousin Dan Ellis Jonas passed away on the 30th of May.  His service in Denver was on the 5th.  His funeral and burial took place on Saturday in Smithfield, Utah.  He was the son of Ellis and Geri Jonas of Smithfield.  He had liver problems that required a transplant and when the liver didn’t come, he knew it was a matter of time.  He was only 50 years old so I took quite a few of the family by surprise really.  I hope all are doing well.

The attorney I work for decided to take Thursday and Friday off.  Meaning, I ran the office myself on those days.  It was an education to muddle through without him after only a week of really doing any of the work.  I think I did okay though.  Good thing we didn’t have anything serious!

This coming weekend I fly out to Idaho for the Andra Reunion in Lava Hot Springs.  I fly in to SLC on Friday and drive to Richmond that night for a graduation party for some high schoolers.  A good portion of Saturday will be at the Andra Reunion.  Afterward I run to Kaysville to go to the Bountiful Temple with Amanda’s brother, Derek.  I am looking forward to a busy weekend.  Then I fly out Sunday morning back for the craze here in OKC.  It will be a quickly weekend.  Sadly, my skipping the reunion last year means a number have died I didn’t get to see for quite a while.  Hopefully we have a good while before any more go.

Amanda’s birthday was yesterday.  The big 23.  I spoiled her with a 8 gig iPod.  I thought I was buying her a present that I could also reap some gain from.  However, as she uploaded her music and I looked at mine, I found out I have over 10 gig of music on my computer alone.  I guess I will have to get my own since Amanda has over 4 gig of her own.  It is all hers now.  Perhaps she will let me listen on a road trip.  I threw a little party for her on Saturday night with my law buddies.  Holt and Lindy made home made ice cream.  How is that for a party?  We played a number of games, chatted, ate Amanda’s birthday cake, and relaxed away some perfectly good hours.  Today we had dinner with the Curtis family, who also came to the birthday party.  They spoiled us with dinner including lasagna, minestrone soup, and more.  We played a game called Ticket to Ride.  It was actually quite a bit of fun and we enjoyed ourselves.  I recommend it to others.  Ticket to Ride and Axis and Allies are both two games that we will have to purchase at some point in the future.

Time to turn off and go to bed.  On the safari hunts each night killing cockroaches, I have to boast an all time high of 137 in one night.  I may have boasted of this fact in the past.  I am also happy to report the numbers have been quite a bit lesser since.  Tonight was a whopping 38.  Tonight also included a camel cricket, 4 slugs, 1 regular cricket, and 2 spiders.  The number of cockroaches seem to be falling each night.  I hope it continues.  There are less getting into the garage and getting stuck on the sticky bug traps.  May it continue.

2008 in Review

This morning while everyone sleeps, I thought I would give a quick year in review.  Wow, what a year.  Probably the best year of my life.  I hope I can continue to say that every year!

One year ago, it was the first day of being laid off in my life.  Good ole Bank of America laid off the entire Wholesale Division.  My life as a underwriter came to an end as the mortgage industry was obviously in signs of trouble.  I decided to leave the entire industry.  Boy, am I glad I did!  1 January 2008 brought a month of trying, scrambling to find out what to do.  I had severance for a year and my job working professionally as a genealogist.  That carried us through.  I have been doing genealogy for the same family over the Christmas Break to supplement our income.  That is certainly a great blessing.  I know it is a blessing to their family and those who have gone on before as well.  I have probably added more than 2 or 3 generations on each of their family lines.

The first week or two of January I received an offer for employment in Pasco, Washington covering the states of Idaho, Utah, and Wyoming for Inlande Environmental Resources.  I would be making more than 10K more, have my own vehicle, card, and a whole lot more.  The only downside is I would be in Idaho most of the time while Amanda would remain in Virginia to finish her education.  We decided it was a great offer, much better than our options in Virginia, and could help open doors for the future.  The end of January, Brad Hales flew out, and we made a cross country trek in my pickup.  Brad has always been a very generous, kind friend.  Who would have thought a mission to England would have such long lasting repercussions?

February through June found me working for IER working with existing customers and making new sales.  The only big contract I found was with J.B. Swift in Hyrum, Utah.  It was 2 or 3 truckloads a month at present.  They were having so many problems with Thatcher Chemical that it was a fairly easy sell.  Honestly, I was just at the right place at the right time.  I really don’t think I personally did anything that really made the sale but it made me a favorite with the bosses.  We opened quite a few doors.  The big thing I enjoyed was the travel.  Salem, Portland, The Dalles, Weston, Pendleton, Gresham, and more in Oregon.  Toppenish, Yakima, Zillah, Sunnyside, Grandview, Pasco, Kennewick, Wenatchee, and Colfax Washington.  Wenatchee was another example of just being in the right place at the right time.  We were solving a foaming problem with apple concentrate waste.  We just had the right chemical but became known as the defoaming expert!  I also traveled all over Utah, Vernal being the most exotic visit.  I sure enjoyed Inlande Environmental.  They were really good to me and I enjoyed working for them.

May rolled around and I decided to accept an opening at Oklahoma City University for Law School.  I announced it to my bosses and they were more than accepting.  They knew when they interviewed me for the job I was seriously considering law school.  They were so good to me!  In fact, they let me keep my salary through to August while Amanda and I took our trip to Europe and here to Oklahoma City.  Amanda also graduated in May.  Amanda’s parents and I flew out for the big occasion.  We sure had quite a bit of fun!  During the time there we packed everything to move all our stuff to Oklahoma City.  We did a little sight-seeing as well.  Monticello was probably my favorite place to visit and I was fortunate everyone else wanted to go as well.  In the end, I flew back to work in Idaho and Amanda with the in-laws drove to Oklahoma City in a moving truck, and from there to Kaysville in the car.

A big first for the year.  We purchased our first home!  A quaint little 30’s home near 23rd Street NW in Oklahoma City.  A wonderful little home with plenty of things to keep me busy but still liveable.

June rolled around and then Amanda and I went on our very expensive weight loss program.  I can boast losing about 20 pounds running around Europe.  We spent six weeks in Europe.  Many, many firsts for both of us.  We visited friends in Belgium and they were very kind to treat us.  Primarily, it was perfect for getting over jet lag!  We then went crazy in traveling for the next 6 weeks.  About 4 days in Belgium.  We attended a Stake Conference in Antwerp and attended dedicatory prayers in Dutch.  That prepared us for Brugge, and where we spent our next few days in Amsterdam.  We saw the sights and even made a trip to Den Haag.  Off we shot across The Netherlands, across Germany to Berlin, and down to an ancestral home in Dresden.  I still think Dresden was probably my favorite place.  Even better than Vianden or the rest of Luxembourg.  Dresden is also near to Meissen which was another ancestral home.  I would love to spend a week in Dresden.  We shot across Germany through Leipzig down to Augsburg.  There we were based to hit Munchen, Dachau, and Fussen for Hohenschwangau and Neuschwanstein.  Then we headed off to visit Stuttgart with Neuffen and Holzgerlingen (ancestral towns) before heading to Salzburg.  Salzburg was definitely another favorite.  Gorgeous town.  Then off to sweltering Venice via Innsbruck.  There we spent time in a very different culture and climate in a city on the water with no water to drink!  After Venice, up through Padua to Zurich and down to Bern.  Bern was definitely another favorite.  I really wish we could have spent some good quality time there.  Then off through Lausanne and Geneva for a few wonderful, long, unorganized days in Paris.  If there was ever a point Amanda and I were getting tired it was in Paris.  More with each other than with the city.  But we really enjoyed Paris nevertheless.  If we had been stuck in Amsterdam during this time, we may have been in marital breakdown, but Paris made it bearable.  After Paris, we headed back to Belgium for a day or two before flying off to Prestwick, Scotland.

We then were in a car for the next 3 weeks!  That day we made our way through Glasgow before ending in Edinburgh for some wonderful times there.  We really liked that city.  I could certainly feel we were back in the United Kingdom.  There is a flavor in the air that reeks of Britain.  From there we worked our way down through Manchester, Liverpool, Northern Wales, Birmingham, Bath, Dorset, and finally to London.  In the UK we spent two weeks of it in the old stomping grounds of the England Manchester Mission.  We visited loads of people I knew and tried to balance that with seeing the sites for Amanda.  I think we did a good job.  We also caught up with some long time friends, the Gores and the Byroms.  We also met up with my old missionary companion Elder Gheorghe Simion and his wife who now live in Liverpool.  After the mission we visited ancestral homes near Birmingham, even stumbling on a cemetery in Halesowen with plenty of ‘my’ Coley line.  It was fun.  Bath was quite a bit of fun crashing that night with a cousin in Milton Abbas, a gorgous little Dorset town.  They treated us very, very well.  Then off to London crashing with the Jeppesen’s in Weybridge.  We spent our remaining time with them in their posh house until we flew out.  All in all, we loved our entire trip.  Paris could have used a bit more planning, but the trip as a whole was utterly marvelous.  We feel very, very blessed to have been able to take the trip.

We landed in Utah and the gears started grinding in different ways.  I tried to make sure everything was a successful transition for IER and we headed out for Oklahoma City.  We arrived here the very last week of July.  Before August had arrived we had moved all our possessions into the home and started setting up for the next few years.  I went to work on the yard, Amanda went to work on the inside.  We came to know our ward, get lined up for school, Amanda a dental hygiene license, and job.  Everything fell into place within a month.  I was rolling with law school and Amanda had a job blocks from home.

The rest of the year was fairly uneventful.  I sat trying to recoup some of my weight lost in Europe (I have been unsuccessful, not that I really want it back) in the law school library.  I picked up squash here again.  Amanda works her days away.  I am slowly remodeling a bathroom with all that extra time.  Amanda took up sewing our Halloween costumes and organizing Thanksgiving and Christmas.  Then the year was over!

All in all, what a year!  I feel highly blessed of heaven.  Who could ask for anything more?  We have started paying off student loans for Amanda.  We are also paying for some work done on the house and what little remains of our trip to Europe.  We paid off the washer and dryer, now the refrigerator next.  Then we can start socking it away for retirement (since our retirement took quite a hit in October and since!).  Plus there will be plenty more to do to the house if we should really want to invest.  But all in all, God has been very good to us.  May he continue to light our paths and may we continue to do what is needed to bring down the extra blessings!  I am looking forward to 2009, although I think it will be much less eventful than 2008.  But hey, who knows?