Walkden, England

Just a quick and short update.  I uploaded photos from Scotland this morning.  I hope you find them interesting.  We will see how many more photos it will let me upload for the month.

We are now staying with the Gore family in Walkden.  We arrived later than anticipated after a day of visiting in Runcorn.  We attended church in the Runcorn Ward at the local community center since their building burned down a while back.  It was good to see so many people and that we received such a hearty welcome.  We did go visit a number of families while there.  A couple of which include the Campbell (and Young), Fleming, McWilliam, Johnson, Byrom and more.  A couple of families were not home so we did not visit with them.  It was sure good to be back in Runcorn, despite the fact that you have to drive around in circles to get anywhere you want to go.  Busways might be spectacular, but at the sacrifice of the drivers!

Saturday we made another trip into Liverpool.  The only thing really to mention is that we got lost and had lunch with Gheorghe and Claire Simion family.  Gheorghe was one of my mission companions.  We spent nearly four hours with him and his good wife.  It was convenient he lives in Liverpool now as he was originally from Romania.  It was a great meeting.

We are off to Hyde and Disley today.

Favorite Script

It is a common thing.  We are supposed to have our favorites.  I am not sure why.  With such a large body of material, why do we have to pick out a few favorites, or even a ‘most favorite’?  In some senses, it doesn’t seem quite right.  Do we have a favorite child?  Do we have a favorite cousin?  Do we have a favorite anything?  I guess the question is more, ‘should we’?

Perhaps it is the world or a weakness tendency in the human race.  Another one of those great weaknesses like pride.  Really, I guess it just is a manifestation of pride.  Usually favorites seem to indicate those things that are most kin to us.  They are those things which somehow seem to reflect or speak of us.

When in the whole, aren’t we supposed to take the whole?  Take into consideration all?  Preferences seem okay, but they are the easy route.  Is this another reason we don’t like missionary work?  We are forced to work with those people who are not our favorites?  Or we are afraid we won’t be a favorite anymore?  Who knows.

Through the years, I have had one scripture which seems to reflect my feelings and passion of life.

One night as I spent the evening in the home of Terry McCombs, he gave me a scripture to think about before I retired for the evening.

“Ye endeavored to believe that ye should receive the blessings which was offered unto you; but behold, verily I say unto you there were fears in your hearts, and verily this is the reason that ye did not receive.”  (D&C 67:3)

As I laid there in the old comfortable bed, I read this scripture.  There happened to be a set of scriptures on the bedside and I did not have my own.  I could read it and think about it.  It really hit me pretty hard.  A whole host of blessings which I wanted to receive, but due to fears I was not receiving.  Terry had given this scripture to me for a particular reason and fear with which I was faced.  I just could not seem to let go of it.

Somehow I felt there must be an answer to this scripture.  I did not know how to overcome fear.  I did not know how to receive.  I did not know a whole lot of things.  I still don’t.

Then somewhere around 2 or 3 AM I stumbled upon this scripture.  Somehow in nearly all instances, it still speaks to me.  When asked my favorite scripture, I almost just as quickly give the reference.  In the mission field, the scripture took a whole new meaning.  It applied to others and the work with which I was employed.  Just a couple of weeks ago Brad Hales asked me my favorite scripture.  I gave it to him just as quickly.  While I am sure he must have heard it dozens of times, it meant nothing to him, no recollection whatsoever.  Yet it has somehow always been a bedrock for me.  It is somewhat out of context, but still very applicable.

“Yea, they shall not be beaten down by the storm at the last day; yea, neither shall they be harrowed up by the whirlwinds; but when the storm cometh they shall be gathered together in their place, that the storm cannot penetrate to them; yea, neither shall they be driven with fierce winds whithersoever the enemy listeth to carry them.  But behold, they are in the hands of the Lord of the harvest, and they are his; and he will raise them up at the last day.  Blessed be the name of our God; let us sing to his praise, yea, let us give thanks to his holy name, for he doth work righteousness forever.”  (Alma 26:6-8)

In the mission it was not to get baptisms or converts, but to put them in connection with and into the hands of the Lord of the harvest.  All people.  Member or not.  To help them make that connection.

In my personal life, despite all the storms and whirlwinds that may come, God will uphold and protect those who are faithful.  I thought of this scripture numerous times with the episode with Mom.  I thought of it with adversaries in all things.  Those who are truly converted will not be beaten or harrowed.  They are gathered to their place and singing to God.  Reminds me of “Guide us, O Thou Great Jehovah.”

“When the earth begins to tremble, bid our fearful hearts be still.  When thy judgments spread destruction, keep us safe on Zion’s hill.  Singing praises, singing praises, songs of glory unto thee, unto thee.  Songs of glory unto thee.”

May we all be more like this.  Less worrying, less fearful, more buoyant and pressing forward despite all odds.

Effectual Struggle

There was a time in the mission when I was really struggling with some things.  It was not one thing in particular, but with a whole host of different little things combined.  Add to that all the concerns and prayers for investigators and it can become a bit much at times.  It was during one of these times I had a pretty significant experience.
We had been out tracting all morning.  It was sometime probably about March of 1999.  I am too lazy to go find the date in my journal.  But it had been drizzling on and off all morning.  We actually came back with a pretty good list of call backs but I still had a number of things weighing on my mind.  There was one in particular with relation to my companion.  I want to make it known we did not have any big issues, but some things he did brought out inadequacies in myself, I believe in no fault of his own.  I was struggling how to overcome some of these feelings and disappointments.
The morning had been spent on exchanges with a Canadian, Elder Morton.  We returned for lunch and I was so exhausted and stressed under the weeks of dealing with things I went upstairs and plopped on my bed to take a quick kip.  However, as I laid there, I just keep rehashing things.  It was then I just stopped, opened my eyes, and asked, “What am I supposed to do?”
There I laid pondering that phrase when I very distinctly heard a scripture pop into my mind.  It was not an audible voice but I reopened my eyes to make sure nobody was there.  I laid there alone on the bottom bunk wondering what in the world the scripture said.
The scripture was Mosiah 7:18.
My first reaction was, “What in the world is in chapter 7 of Mosiah?”  I had no clue what was even going on in the chapter, which piqued my interest all the more.
I rolled out of my bed and located some scriptures to look up the verse.
“And it came to pass that when they had gathered themselves together that he spake unto them in this wise, saying: O ye, my people, lift up your heads and be comforted; for behold, the time is at hand or is not far distant, when we shall no longer be in subjection to our enemies, notwithstanding our many strugglings, which have been in vain; yet I trust there remaineth an effectual struggle to be made.”
It was absolutely powerful.  Somehow, the words seem to answer exactly what it was I was asking.  They hit me as they say, like a ton of bricks.  Every single time I read this chapter I think of this experience.  Every time when it seems difficulties just won’t go away, I seem to remember this scripture.  This is my comfort scripture you can say.  Regardless of what burdens we are under, lift up your head and be comforted.  The time is not far ahead when these things will no longer be.  Whether in death, release, or in the deliverance from the scenario, an end will come.  Then a warning, a suggestion, a plea for endurance because still an effectual struggle is to be made.
It is not enough just to wait it out.  A struggle must still be made.  We must continue working through things, not just give up.  The verses go on…
“Therefore, lift up your heads, and rejoice, and put your trust in God.  In that God who was the God of Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob; and also, that God who brought the children of Israel out of the land of Egypt, and caused that they should walk through the Red Sea on dry ground, and fed them with manna that they might not perish in the wilderness; and many more things did he do for them.  And again, that same God has brought our fathers out of the land of Jerusalem, and has kept and preserved his people even until now; and behold, it is because of our iniquities and abominations that he has brought us into bondage.”  (Mosiah 7:19-20)
The Lord has done so much good in our lives, don’t lose sight at the moment.  God’s promises always come true.  They will always ring in a new day, eventually.
Looking back, I can see how much this has come to pass.  As I have made the eventual struggle ever since, I find my blessings are becoming greater and greater.  I feel more and more in tune.  I see miracles all about me in my life.  Who really could ask for anything more?  I haven’t really been through a whole lot in my life either.  Some would disagree with me, but I keep pressing forward and making the effectual struggle.  Somehow everything works out right.  I have been fortunate it has all worked out for me in this life.  I fear there are many who it does not work out for in this life.
Some of my blessings are being realized in the past week.
This past weekend, the effectual struggle of helping out friends, listening to friends, continuing to foster friendships in the difficulty of school and university, and especially with friends after marriage opened doors for me.  I was invited to Vernal to spend time with three other friends who all lived on Darwin Avenue in Logan.  Anna, Allen, and Brad.  Anna, for all intents and purposes, is an old girlfriend.  I certainly don’t see it that way with a negative connotation.  However, both of us struggling through despite some awkward times, proved to be a foundation and grounding point where we can move on and have become great friends.  Allen, another individual I got to know fairly well, but never as well as I would have liked, through the struggle of maintaining contact, proved to be a great deal of fun, mutual respect, and some business dealing.  Brad, the struggle to maintain contact has turned into a bond and friendship I have never heard of between any other two missionary companions.  That relationship has affected so much of our daily lives I am not sure I could even begin to define its influence.
We meet up for a weekend together in Vernal.  It was a blast.  We hiked canyons and climbed cliffs.  We sought out petroglyphys and outlaws.  We toured Ashley Valley’s water treatment facility.  We enjoyed meals, told jokes, and explored museums.  What a blast.  All from the effectual struggle of not feeling adequate or capable of reaching out to effectively connect with others.
That commitment has gone even further.  I have maintained relationships with parents of many friends I went to high school.  Sometimes, I am not even in contact with the friend anymore, but am still with the parents.  One such relationship was with a girl named Nicole.  Again, a girlfriend by world standards, but we really just enjoyed ourselves.  That ongoing friendship not only with Nicole, but with her parents may turn out to bring other opportunities (perhaps business too) now.  Who would have ever thought that the parents who called every 10 minutes while we clasped to brick ledges holding on to our lives (all in complete safety) would become fast friends?  Who would have thought the parents of a girl whose piano bench I would break early one morning by sharing it with my date would spend hours with me showing my photos of their safari to Africa and motorcycle trip through New Zealand?
These are just a couple of examples on my effectual struggle to be better at reaching out, maintaining relationships, and remembering others would have blessed me in so many ways.  What is especially true is I am seeing some of these blessings while yet in mortality.  That too, is probably another blessing of making the effectual struggle.

Runcorn Burning

I received the news today the ward building in Runcorn, Cheshire burned down on Saturday.  It gave me an opportunity to reflect some on my experiences in good ole Runcorn and the building which is now no more.  I do remember hearing they were going to start adding on a new addition for the building.  However, I do not know if they had started yet or if that had any part to do with the fire.  Perhaps somebody thought if they burned it down, they would get a whole new building.  Hopefully the church isn’t as slow in rebuilding this building as I know they have been in replacing other buildings.
I remember seeing pictures of the Runcorn Building being built.  There were pictures of John Byrom’s mother on the roof of the building when it was being shingled.  I can see other good Saints helping in the construction of their building.  I remember hearing the stories of John and Audrey McKee in helping build the Birkenhead Ward Chapel.  They still had the saw that he used to cut a pipe down in a hole one day.  He asked if the power was turned off and assured several times it was.  The saw proved that it had not been.  He had shared stories about helping build other buildings, the Chester and Runcorn Chapels included.  Even though he lived in Wallasey he traveled to help.  That is the way I guess they did it.  I can see the pictures of Ray Holmes and some of his family helping on a building, I am not sure if it was the Runcorn Building though.  I tend to believe it was.
In another month or so it will be 8 years since I was transferred to Runcorn.  It was there I was assigned to be Elder Hales’ companion.  I had only met the boy a half year before at Pizza Hut in Stretford on Preparation Day.  He was a new missionary and I would see him a couple of months before one of us was transferred elsewhere.  I arrived at 29 Handforth Lane early one morning.  Brother Wood (Rob or Bob, cannot remember) had driven me from Eccles to Runcorn.  We became terribly lost on the meandering roads of Runcorn.  At one point we found ourselves illegally on the busway.  We finally pulled into the flat to find John Pass there with his father, Doug, to welcome me.  They actually were cleaning up some of the front and fixing the shower downstairs.  It had been having some problems.  I remember embracing Brother Wood and the expression on his face.  I too had really come to love Eccles and was not looking forward to leaving.
I entered which definitely had to be one of the largest flats in the mission.  Three floors and it was all to ourselves.  Just weeks before the missionaries for Northwich had lived there.  That P-day Brad and I cleaned up the apartment.  We stacked mattresses upon mattresses in the 3rd flood bedroom.  I remember being astonished there was a weight room on the 3rd floor.
That evening Elder Hales took me to visit the Bennett’s and the Byrom’s.  The Bennett Family was less active.  We sat there visiting with them and that was the first time I ever heard or saw Britney Spears.  She was in a music video singing her One More Time song.  Of course the family had to stop all conversation and turn it up.  We watched.  After that, we excused ourselves and walked to the Byroms.  There we met the whole family and their friend Simone Keogh.  It would begin a relationship that continues even until today.
I am going completely from memory so I may be slightly off in some of the details, but I believe I am correct.  But Runcorn proved to be one of what I felt was my most productive areas.  Elder Hales and I struggled sloshing through the rest of 1999.  One day in the kitchen of 29 Handforth Lane we had a disagreement that would change our relationship.  Our impromptu Companionship Inventory would change the rest of our missions.  Through the week that followed we adapted to each other and our unity increased.  The Lord visibly blessed us in a myriad of ways.  The remainder of Elder Hales’ time and my own in Runcorn saw success regularly afterward.  Our teaching pool became full, we saw lives change, and baptisms started occuring every week.  They were not always ours, but they were the district’s.
Every week we would have our District Development Meeting in the Runcorn Chapel.  The Elder’s from Chester, Northwich, and the Sister’s would join us.  Every week the baptisms were held at the Runcorn Chapel.  It was only a few weeks later the Northwich Branch was created and split from Runcorn.  It was a very exciting time.  We had whole families who were starting to come out.  The chapel was becoming fuller and fuller despite the loss of Northwich.  The whole energy was powerful.  We were very fortunate to be there then.
It was from those friendships there so many other experiences have come.  I would never have entertained Elder Haight or met Elder Ballard if it were not for Runcorn.  My Mission President and I bonded during this time.  I still count Brad Hales as one of my closest friends today.
I remember watching from the weight room in the Handforth Flat the fireworks for Y2K.  We had the perfect view overlooking the valley between us and Frodsham, Helsby, and towards Ellsmere Port.  The fireworks were phenomenal.  In the next room was the bathtub we had shined and filled with water for preparation just in case something should go wrong and we should have no water.  We had a score of water saved there for the drinking or for the toilet right there if need be.
Just across the tracks was the home of the Stake Patriarch, Tony and Norma Johnson.  We spent many an evening on their doorstep or in their dining room.  They were very good to us on a regular occasion.  If it wasn’t for Patriarch Johnson I would not have met Elder Brough and years later be asked if he knew me at a Stake Conference in Logan, Utah.  I remember accidentally fluffing it one evening after dinner to the horror of the Johnson grandchildren.  However, Norma was very civilized and all went on as if had never happened.  It was only a squeek but enough for the kids to smirk.  I am grateful for those who understand our slip ups and keep moving on with life.
I remember many evenings sitting there while Elder Hales made phone calls and I planned for the next day.  I admire how humble he was for making the phone calls because I so much disliked it.  Every evening after the calls he would collapse in bed irritated by the Sisters and annoyed that I harrassed him about being on time for prayers.  He was a humble man and I can only hope all the lessons I learned are retained and applied.
I don’t remember how often, but it was that flat we would arise at 5:30 AM to go running.  We would run and both would be exhausted by the time we got back.  It was then to shower and get ready for the day.  I really enjoyed our scripture study.  Is it any wonder that all the future times we were roommates we carried on that tradition.  Together we finished the entire Standard Works in 2003.  That was a goal we made together and achieved.
Anyhow, Runcorn holds many fond memories.  Elder Hansen who now lives in Richmond, Virginia and whose wife Amanda worked with this summer, that association was started in Runcorn.  Sister Peterson in Oakley started association in Runcorn.  President Wightman called me in Runcorn as he became lost going the wrong way on a busway.
It was on the porch of the Runcorn building I played with the Fullwood girls.  It was in the choir seats of Runcorn I refused to make a hip beat of a hymn.  It was in Runcorn I did a solo in the Easter Cantata.  I think it is sure to say, the Runcorn Ward and Chapel will forever be remembered as a great increasing point for the fire which burns in my bones.
I have heard in recent years the Runcorn Ward has diminished in activity.  There appears to have been a great deal of tumult in the ward.  Even the Byrom Family, who I would never have thought to separate, has been split asunder.  A former Bishop went Apostate and now the building has burned down.
One thing is for sure.  It can only go up from here.  I wish I was in Runcorn now to be a part of the rebuilding.

Pictures Explained

I thought I would take the opportunity to explain the pictures which are in the album to the right.  The British pictures are from the blessed land of Northern England and Wales.  I served as a missionary in Northern England in 1998-2000.  While there I served in the vicinity of Manchester and Liverpool the whole time.  The exact areas were Moreton on the Wirral Peninsula, Hyde near Aston-under-Lyne, Eccles (West Manchester/Salford), Runcorn, Wigan.  These pictures were taken during a trip back to Britain during the summer of 2003.  While I visited Wales several times on the mission, this was my first real get to know the area trip.  Conwy, Caernarven, Harlech, and others were the only castles we visited.  I traveled there with a friend and mission companion, Brad Hales, and his sister, Amy.  It was a trip not to be forgotten and I hope to make it back in the next few years.  I thought there were some pictures of London in there, but apparently not.  None of England made it either, I will have to fix that situation.
The next set of pictures are of Amanda and me.  The most amazing girl in the world.  Not only because she loves me, but as she is just that, amazing.  There are pictures of her and I at my Sister’s wedding, note the classy 1956 Dodge Coronet.  If anyone is interested in purchasing it for a reasonable price, let me know.  It needs a little work, but sure looks and runs great.  There is a pic after the 4th of July Water Parade in Kaysville, Utah.  Then there are pictures from Spring Formal at Utah State University 2005.
In May 2005, I went with a Hemsley Family (Amanda’s family) traditional fishing weekend.  It was a totally new experience for me.  I have never fly fished before.  In fact, I had not fished for probably 15 years.  Not really into the whole fishing game.  It was very fun, fascinating, and terribly beautiful.  It was a good chance to bond with the future in-laws.  I need to learn how to clean a fish, perhaps we can save that for next year, if I am invited.  We also did a little rafting on the trip, some of which photos you wil see.
While I was living in Logan and in the year 2003 we organized a Manti Temple trip.  In the end, only five ended up going out of the 20 who committed.  Never mind, we enjoyed ourselves.  Brian and Karene on the trip found it so wonderful, they fell in love and were married later.  Some of Karene’s family were from Fountain Green so we got to meet them as well.  The Manti Temple is an impressive structure.  I think it will need some renovating in upcoming years, but a magnificent monument to the pioneers who went before us.  It has not been renovated and modernized like the Logan Temple was.  In my opinion, they ruined the Logan Temple.  Especially where it was considered the more grand of the two similarly designed temples.  Oh well.  Life moves on.  I have family from Spring City, Wales, Ephraim, and other areas of the San Pete Valley.  I could do without the sometimes troublesome smell of turkeys.  What a beautiful valley.
The last bunch of current photos is of cars.  Yep, some of the loves of my life.  I have not done much with cars recently, but I used to quite a bit.  There is a 1956 Dodge Coronet which was owned by my mother.  She purchased it off a Dr. Karchner, who delivered me as a baby.  It is still in my possession.  I will have to one day work on fully restoring it, or finding a home for it.  I just can’t stand to see it sit.  The 1955 International R-100 pickup was fully restored.  I drove it for my Senior Year in high school at Minico in Rupert.  I had it until 2001 when I sold it to John Tanner of Hollywood, California.  I doubled the money of which I paid for it, but I had that much in the pickup.  A rebuilt engine, and then the restoration after my sister rolled it in 1998.  I do still have a 1949 GMC pickup which has just finished being restored.  We are looking to sell it at the moment.  I also have a 1946 Chevrolet pickup which is all torn apart ready to begin a restoration.  I need to divest myself of these autos really.  I just am so sentimental, plus I can’t keep them.  They require upkeep, maintenance, and other expensive help.  With getting married and all, I should get rid of them.  I can’t move to Virginia with them.  Oh well.  Someday I know I will kick myself for doing so, especially where I see so many of my friends parents doing the same.  Well, I am totally rambling, so I am going to close this little entry.
Enjoy the photos.  Perhaps I will put some more up sooner than later.