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. 

Visit from Grands

This week brought some happy differences from the mundane run.  Not at all to give the impression that life is mundane though.  The longer I live, the more I realize it is just like beauty, all in the life of the beholder.  There are those people wandering their lives thinking they are a nobody and with nothing great in their character or soul.  Then there are those people who find fascination, excitement, and life in all there is about them.  They are a different breed.

Somehow, I feel like in Richmond, I walk through a load of people with no excitement in their lives.  Life is a labyrinth for them to wander and walk.  There are so few who are in it for the game, and the experience.

The great Samuel Clemens, a fascinating man.  One who watched the every move of those about him with great detail.  Their every movement captured their personality for him.  That is one of the things that made him such a great writer.  He was able to take those little details and wind them into a story and make the characters that much more real. 

Suppose it would be the experience of the riverboat pilot which would teach you even more closely to watch the details of the water.  The slightest quiver could mean life or death.  Just his assumed name of Mark Twain shows a certain yearning.

Earlier this week I was able to pick the brain of a man who I found to be very fascinating.  A silent man in the past, but who gave voice this week.  I wanted to hear his story.  So I started to inquire and found some wonderful stories.

Having William Borah fresh on my mind, I was thinking of the honour of the President of the United States coming to visit you in your home state.  Senator Borah toured with him and introduced him to all audiences that he was presented before.  For some reason this has really lingered with me the past weeks.  President Roosevelt paying one of the greatest honours to a man of the opposite party.  President Franklin Roosevelt went to Republican Idaho and toured with its Senator.  It also showed the distinction of Senator Borah.  This really has hit home with the latest election.

So it was with greatest delight that I wandered through the mind and history of Mel Thompson.  Learning he moved with his family to Nyssa, Oregon in the mid 30’s.  They moved up there and basically homesteaded a new territory.  Knowing many of my own family would move to that same area within the next 10 years I really sought to pick his brain. 

Family history and my delving into history met ironically in the mind of Mel.  He told of the experience when he was still in school that the President of the United States came to town.  Yes sir, little Nyssa, Oregon welcomed the President.  I knew who one of the men was who traveled with him, the same Senator Borah.

These stories come to life for me when I can go to the places these events happened.  But they come so much more alive when I know a person and can learn from firsthand experience.  Like sitting on the porch of the Price home in Malad, Idaho where Senator Borah visited with Helen Daniels Price’s father.

Having been to Nyssa several times in my life, the latest just in 2005 when I traveled out there with a visit to Parma.  The Amalgamated Sugar Factory, with which Dad was closely tied for a good 25 years.  Cannot forget the Sharp family members who moved, and some of which still live in Malheur County.  The Fort Boise replica is not far away either.  Oh, and the elusive Rhoda Christensen Davenport Pappas Halan who wrote letters from there, but that is the end of the story.  I have found no more.

All truth can be circumscribed into one great whole.  That truth certainly extends beyond the theoretical.  That truth engulfs us into it as well.  Funny thought, to consider ourselves the truth, but in essence all things are truth.  Whether we like or live it or not; even our lying is in truth and will be treated as such.  Our lives mingle, intertwine, and are very much related to each other.  How could one ever conceive that their actions don’t affect another?  President Roosevelt, Senator Borah, and in the school yard where the children were let out from class to go out to the street to see the President’s motorcade prove that point.  One of those children had a face, had a personality, and had the name of Melvin J Thompson.

Last weekend, we went to Washington to attend the temple, to see Amanda’s grandparents, and to witness of a baby blessing.  It was a great weekend, but turned even better when Amanda’s grandparents came to stay with us for an evening.  An honour I would be willing to give a lifetime to do with one of my sets of grandparents.  (I suppose I am giving a lifetime to do so!)  It will yet come to pass and I will cherish that day.

We attended the Washington Temple Saturday morning.  Amanda and I were asked to be the witness couple for the session.  That was our second time.  Shanna just thought that was something else.  I wish I could have done an endowment with any of my grandparents, living I mean.  It bothers me even still today my Grandfather, my only living grandparents, chose not to come to our sealing.  For what reason I do not know, and probably prefer not to know.  There again, how woven our lives are together.  That the mere presence, or absence thereof, would so affect me.  What if Mel Thompson had not been in the audience that day?  Who would ever have known?  Nobody would have known, but now I do.  Somehow it rings a siren to my soul and brings back me back to the reality of the past.  It seems so far distant sometimes.  But now that nameless face has altered my life some 70 years later.  Even further, all those who read this will be altered to one degree or another, by this events significance.  That says nothing of all the other individuals present that day.  How many of them told that experience later in life, how many wrote it down, how many family members recall that event today.  I would venture that at least one somewhere, somehow, even if from a recorded record.

Our families were tied a little more closely that day in Washington and the following convo.  The drive back to Richmond brought out the stories of childhood in Pingree, Idaho; Nyssa, Oregon; and Ogden, Utah.  The stories included excursions to the Pacific and World War II and running into Mel’s brother at Pearl Harbor from Air Craft Carrier #77 to his training at Farragut in northern Idaho.  His missing attendance at the Laie, Hawaii Temple by one day was told followed by his bouts in learning telegraphy for the railroad.  Even those appear to be the most ordinary have a life to tell.  Sadly, it is in the eye of the storyteller that plays just as much of a role as that of the listener.  The listener has to seek and find connections, living what is true empathy.  In return, the speaker has to give of himself in such a way for the other to experience it. 

Is it any wonder the gospel works the way it does?  Not only does one have to be prepared to receive, but the giver has to be prepared to give.  Otherwise neither will give nor receive and both will most certainly not be edified.  One side operating just doesn’t work.  It falls on deaf ears, or is droned out before even arriving at the other party.

Too often there are those who are giving for the wrong reasons make it strained.  Those who seek it for the wrong reasons ruin the experience.

Anyhow, it was a fascinating lesson, and I was able to come and grasp some more of the 60’s.  I have really struggled coming to understand the 70’s and 70’s.  I just cannot tell why.  Even though I was born in the late 70’s, there seems to have been some type of disconnect.I have been fully engulfed in Richmond, Utah in 1961 and 1962 through the eyes of Lillian Coley Jonas Bowcutt.  The lifestyle of a lady in her 60’s though just does not seem to portray the era.  Especially this is true in a community which was still very rural and in some ways behind the times.  I just cannot seem to get the culture of the time.  50’s, 40’s, 30’s, I feel like I have a very good grasp, like experiencing through proxy.  In stepping backwards farther, I struggle to back further and feel it is due to the 60’s and 70’s.  Honestly though, I have not much desire for that time.  I don’t know why.  So I push further back into the 20’s and 1800’s without it. 

Anyhow, I never really got to pick Shanna’s brain much.  I got Mel on such a roll that he was not about to give up his shine.  We both were so enjoying it while the others just slept, knitted, or did something else.  So I regret not picking apart Shanna’s past, which I am sure holds many interesting experiences and stories.  Perhaps another day, with the right experiences will open that book.

They spent the night, and we had breakfast together before Amanda went to school and I went to work.  Mel, Shanna, Dennis, and Gwen toured the Museum of the Confederacy and St. John’s Church.  We invited them for dinner, of which they accepted.  We made white chili for their dinner.  They loved it, we put it over rice with corn.  In the end, games and conversation were out as Dennis seemed not very desirous to stay.  So we bid them adieu and wished them well on their drive home.

It was an experience I will not soon forget.  It is a rare thing such experiences happen.  So much has to align for such events to occur.  A man I had viewed as so quiet proved to be very perceptive, keen, and wise.

I don’t like the tone of this little blog, so I think I will be leaving.  I feel like I am condescending or portraying some type of sage.  Which I am not attempting, but failing.  I am so weak at words it is frustration.  What I would not give to have the power and verse of Mark Twain or Hugh Nibley.

Mt. Vernon

Probably time for another little update. We have just returned from another weekend up in the bustling city of Washington. We went up last night, stayed with Dennis and Gwen Thompson, and had ourselves a great time. We attended the Washington Temple this morning. Amanda, Dennis, and Gwen all did a session while I did initiatory. It was a great, much needed, release from the week. I actually quite enjoyed myself.We had lunch with the whole Thompson Clan to celebrate Grandparent’s Day, and then they went off to a soccer game for Faith and Destiny. Amanda and I met up with Greg McNeill and headed to Mount Vernon. This was Amanda’s first visit, my third. We drove over separately and spent the time walking through the grounds. Amanda was already exhausted from the day, and seemed to be dragging the whole time. She says she enjoyed Mt. Vernon. I really liked sitting with Martha Washington and listening to her talk about Thomas Jefferson. She did not have much to say that she liked about him.

Greg and I had a great chat about a whole host of things. We discussed politics, Mormons, campaigns, Supreme Court rulings, and who knows what else. Poor Amanda was even more exhausted after hanging out with us. It was great to catch up with him though. He is a good man. He announced and gave us his wedding date for May 26th next year. I have put it on my calendar, we are planning to go, it is at Fort Belvoir at the officer’s club. That should be exciting.

The week went well. I worked my tail off some more and became pretty frustrated with things. I am supposed to have two full weeks of training, all day long. That is 10 days. So far, I have had a whopping 3 days I think, and then they tell me that they want me to do more sales or something. I honestly don’t have a clue about what I am doing with some stuff. For example, I collected premium from a lady this week for a policy that has been paid for up for 20 years. She was old and senile enough not to notice, and I had no clue. What the company will do with that is beyond me. The best part, it was life insurance premium I collected, and is technically illegal for me to do so. That is how green I am in many ways.

I did write three policies this week, but I need to learn how to do more. I want to, but I seem to be so very alone. Oh well, I will endure.

They made me go on a conference call this week. That will be the last time I do that. I spent a good 30 minutes listening to the sub-regional manager talk about all these little goals and that they have for us. They are not paying for my lost 30 minutes of cell phone time. Next, Mr Stone himself said that a goal that is not ours, does not have the power to motivate. Well, I will be making my own goals. I don’t care if I go to Nashville. I don’t care if I get some luxury spa set. Honestly, I don’t care if I have a big bonus at the end of the year. I want to feel my job is worthwhile, and that I am succeeding at it. That is hard to do sometimes when you have not a clue what is going on, and then some people start riding you for their goals. Well, I know where they can go. Back to that little throne that they think they are on, and live their little dream. I will do the work in my realm, and do what is necessary, with what capacity I have. I don’t know how they expect me to write 15 policies in a week when the three I had this week were in my estimation pure luck.

On top of all that Marc, tells me he wants me to be a Sales Manager. I cannot even get the training to sell, why in the world would I want to be a Sales Manager and oversee other’s selling. How can I train on something I have not yet figured out. Seeing as I won’t get the training just yet. Having said all that, I cannot expect them to do so, nor will I pass the buck. I will do my part, I will do what I can, and improve at my own pace. How they expect more, on my own, I have yet to figure out. If somebody can help me, I would appreciate the advice on how I can do more than I know how. Trial error is not the best way, but if that is all they leave me with, fine. I will work that method. I do have a great set of resources from Mr. Stone himself, but the LSAT takes precedence right now. Not that I am doing great in that either, but at least I have priority.

Well, time to prepare for the Sabbath. Lessons to review, read, and ideas to be familiar with. I hope this coming week will provide greater opportunities and I will keep my sight higher. I cannot let myself get weighed down by my inadequacies. ( I think I spelled that wrong, but I just don’t want to check….)

 

Ides of July

There is not loads to report for this week.  I have applied for probably nearly 50 jobs online.  I have an interview tomorrow for a position with Combined Insurance.  Who would have thought?  What are the chances? Grandma worked for Combined for 30 years.  I have in essence sold Combined Insurance for 6 months of my life.  That is probably the equivalent that I spent with Grandma out on the road selling insurance.  I sure loved it.  Funny what we remember isn’t it. 
There was a couple of times we went to Soda Springs to sell.  I remember the Caribou Lodge.  It was my first time going over, I must have been about 4-6 years old.  We were in the old 1974 two door Mercury Cougar.  What a car.  As we came down the pass from Lava Hot Springs we hit a pheasant.  The old car took it in the headlight cover.  So when we needed the light, we were Popeye into Soda.  Grandma liked the Red Baron pizza and she promised that she would treat me.  Accordingly, we went and bought one and took it back to the Caribou Lodge.  It was only then we realized that we did not have an oven.  Grandma went down, and knowing the owners well, asked if they would cook it.  They agreed and we ate Red Baron Pizza.  It sure was good.
This was my first time on the road selling with Grandma.  She had taken me several times to other places close like Kimberly, Twin Falls, Wendell, and American Falls. I always felt so loved.  She would buy me clothes and completely dress me for the week.  This week, she bought this little red suit that had zippers over the pockets.  It was a short sleeved shirt with shorts.  She gave me the permission to carry the money if I promised not to lose it.  So I would zip it up in my little pockets and keep it safe all the time.  Made me feel like a million bucks. 
Every morning we would get up and she would make oatmeal out of the packets.  She had a little warmer that you put in the coffee cup and it would boil the water in the cup.  She would pour the water in with the oatmeal and we had the little feast every morning.  She would comb and part my hair with a duck’s tail in the back.  I felt like a little prized doll the way she took care of me.
It was this same week that we stopped at this home to visit some people.  That is one thing I remember, we always had leads.  Grandma never knocked not knowing who lived there.  This house was on a corner or curve in the highway.  I could probably take you there today, even though I was only about 5.  We were sitting in the front room of the home and the people kept commenting on how adorable I was.  Being a little bashful I asked to go in the backyard.  I went out and stood at the back fence watching a baseball game.  Never had seen a baseball game.  I was thrilled, it was warm, slight breeze, and the shining metal baseball bat.  Our visit came to a close and they were begging Grandma in front of me if they could keep me.  She asked me if they could keep me and I remember breaking out in tears. They thought I was so much more adorable.  It would be funny to know who lived there and see if they even remember this.  I very much doubt it.
One of the best parts about being with Grandma and doing this insurance business was that when we set out to drive there, she would give me all the lead cards.  Sometimes there would be up to 200 of them.  It was my job to take a look at the map and figure out where things were.  Then I would go through and organize the lead cards according to street, and then line the streets up to area.  This was a big job coming to towns like Idaho Falls/Rexburg.  I remembered I became quite the pro.  The entire week we came back to the car, I could tell her the house number of the next house, and then would direct her how to get there.  I became a master at map reading and directions.  Even to this day, I can look at a map, get a good feel for where anything is, and I can know how to get where I need to go.  Coming to Richmond, I think Amanda is constantly amazed that I already know where everything is.  I already know the main streets, where they are, and where they go.  Even in church today, changing our ward boundaries, I knew all the roads they talked about.  This has been a great blessing to me.  All thanks to my beloved Grandmother, and Combined Insurance.
It is funny how much we remember.  At least me.  I have noticed that others are not so fortunate.  I remember that same week going to the sulfur mines and Grandma showing me where the Circle A trucks were.  She took me and showed me where my Uncle Doug lived at the time.  (Uncle Doug moved from there about 1987, which means I was definitely younger than 8.  I remember going to Grace, Idaho and Grandma showing me where Evan was raised.  I cannot take you there now, even though I have tried to find it.  Evan and Grandma divorced in 1987 as well.  I remember her taking me to the Minne Tonka caves, Bennington, Georgetown, and even little Niter.  Oddly, driving through Chesterfield a few years ago, it seemed too hauntingly familiar.  I still don’t know if it was from an expedition with Grandma or if it was for family history purposes.  (I did later find family history links)
This weekend we went to Northern Virginia.  Amanda and I have made a commitment to keep President Kimball’s challenge to the Saints that if circumstances permit, members should attend the temple at least once a month.  I have done this ever since I came home from my mission.  I have done it pretty well since I was endowed, except for several months in the mission when missionaries were not allowed to attend the temple.  Accordingly, Amanda and I needed to attend for the month of July and thought now was as good time as any.  We went up Friday night, stayed with Dennis and Gwen Thompson, who I lived with when I worked in Washington, D.C..  We spent the evening, caught up, and planned out Saturday.  Saturday, we went to the temple, dropped Miss Mandy Lundstrom off at the Baltimore Washington International Airport, drove to Annapolis, Maryland; and then crashed back at the Thompson home.  I did 15 initiatory at the temple and Amanda/Mandy both did a session.  We got lost getting there as we talked and passed every single junction for a free way.  Mandy was staying with the Thompson’s.  Oddly, she was the old girlfriend of Brad Hales, my good friend and old roommate.  She was going to ride the train from Springfield clear to BWI with all her luggage. Knowing how horrible that is, how much I hate traveling with luggage, I offered our services.  Plus she got to go to the temple one last time.  Amanda and I then ran to Annapolis to see the historic downtown.  Sadly, we got there 5 minutes after they closed the statehouse.  But we drove around a little longer.  The Maryland Capitol is the longest used Capitol in the U.S..  It has also served at the United States Capitol while the current one was being built.  It was in this very building that General George Washington resigned his commission of the Continental Army.  Wonderful history.  The College of St. John is right by as is the United States Naval Academy.  The town reminds me so much of Britain.  I love it.  I recommend all pay a visit there.  Go to the Capitol when it is open. I did last year and enjoyed it.
Anyhow, we came back to Richmond this morning and got ready and went to church.  They reorganized our ward, but as we did not know anyone, it did not make much difference to us.  At least we don’t have to attend another ward.  It was a good day.  At least we got a new lesson, no more of that adultery lesson we had for the last 3 weeks.