Snapshots of Life

Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Memorial Day

On Saturday I took the morning to go for a bike ride along the Jordan Parkway trail. I have gone running along the corridor that stretches from 35th South to 41st South on a few different occasions, but being on a bike I decided to continue south until I was too tired, or until I got a flat tire. It was a beautiful sunny day with very few people on the trail. Just past 45th South along the trail is a lonely monument erected by the city of Taylorsville called the "Freedom Shrine". Being unable to resist the pull of history, or miss a monument, I pedaled over to take a look at the cement wall plastered with replicas of historical documents on golden plaques. In the center of the wall was the Consititution of the United States and the Decleration of Independence. Surrounding those sacred founding documents were various reminders of events in our nation's history that define who we are. There was the Gettysburg address, JFK's inaguaral address, the 14th amendment, the treaty of Paris, and the letter containing the famous response to the German call to surrender at Bastogne - "Nuts". It was fairly clear that the memorial is not the most popular attraction on the trail, grass and weeds grow up through the bricks that lay neatly in the earth to form a small plaza from which to view the monument, but it was all the better for me. For a time I was lost in the story of America. I felt a sense of gratitude to God and to all those who have paid the price of freedom for me. I wonder what I did to deserve the extraordinary blessing of being born in the land of the free and the home of the brave?
Yesterday, I awoke early to the loud claps of thunder that shook my house. I looked out my bedroom window to see the sheets of rain that poured down on our already saturated lawn. For a moment I thought this just might be the first time in a long time that we would not perform our annual Memorial Day ritual, but I underestimated the determination of my mother. It has become a family tradition come rain or shine. We cut the roses and the irises from the backyard and load the trunk of the car up with crysanthimums to overflowing. We visit 4 cemetaries and literally close to a hundred graves. We stop briefly at each one and someone takes the initiative to tell the story and refresh our memories of this ancestor or that. We hear of the generosity of my grandpa, we learn about little Nola who was hit by a fire truck outside the family backery. We laugh as we remember the story of my great grandpa being arrested at 82 for driving his laundary truck with an expired license, only to be sent home from jail because he kept asking what he could clean next. We recall searching the cemetary a few years back for the resting spot of young Heber who lived only a day, and then purchasing a headstone to mark his grave. We try to figure out the family secrets that are now lost to time. We contemplate the sacrifices of those who left their homelands to come to Zion and gather with the Saints, and of those who paid the ultimate cost in struggles for freedom. Despite the pouring rain and freezing temperatures as we traveled about I felt a deep sense of gratitude to God and to those who have gone before me that have established a legacy of faith. I wonder what I did to deserve the wonderful blessing of being born to a good and fortunate family?
At this time of year as we honor those who have paved the way before us and now watch to see where we will go, I express my appreciation and praise to them, and pledge to carry on in their tradition of freedom and faith!

Thursday, May 26, 2005

Some Thoughts

A few thoughts from nowhere in particular....

Time off! I don't have to work tomorrow and I couldn't be more happy! To those who have to work - my sincerest apologies, I will be chillin' at home. Breaks are great!

Interesting people. You know those people that are just a bit different than the norm? They're great and you like them just fine, but there is just something that's unique about them? You know, the ones where they do something or say something and you just are not quite sure how to respond? Such is a kid I know from work. He always sings little songs and cracks jokes while we are working. See, I can see from the corner of my eye that he is laughing his face off and looking in my direction to see if I will do the same. The problem is he's usually not very funny, so I don't know whether to give a fake courtesy laugh, or to smile, or to just ignore. Generally I just pretend I'm not paying attention and keep working intently as his laugh slowly fades. Really nice kid, but I don't know how to act with the guy.
Oprah Winfrey. So I was logging on to the internet the other day and one of the pop-ups from the internet provider was an article about one of the guests on the Oprah show. Perhaps some of you Oprah fans got to see this episode. The guest was a doctor. This was no ordinary doctor...he is an expert in human waste, that's right he is a pooh specialist. I admit I read the whole article, and laughed the whole time! I had to share it with my family too. Who on earth would go in to such a profession, and why did Oprah have him on her show?! It was too funny.
Summer weather! Hallelujah for this nice weather we are having in the blessed land of Utah. I love warm, sunny days. May they last for a long time.
Singing. Today at work I was busting out in song and doing a little head dance to the radio in my back room at work and one of my co-workers caught me. I turned and realized she caught me and felt my face go red as she laughed. I think she thought I was pretty weird, but it was a good song!
Sheri Dew. This woman is incredible! I am reading a book that she wrote and I am amazed at how she has gone from being a shy, unconfident, Kansas farm girl to one of the most influential women in the history of the church. That is cool. So Sheri, if you're out there, if I were 30 years older I would totally marry you! Where is my Sheri Dew??

Saturday, May 21, 2005


In just a few hours the first stake of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints will be created in Rome, Italy! I had the wonderful opportunity to serve and teach the people of Italy for 2 years as a missionary. I grew to love that country and those people with all of my heart, hence the name of the site. I miss them and pray for them all the time.
Day after day, and month after month during my time as a missionary, and since, I have prayed that miracles would occur in the work of the Lord to bring about a stake in Rome. Why is a stake so important? Because, a stake is one of the first signs of strength and growth that will pave the way to a temple in Italy!
Isn't it interesting that just last month a bishop was elected in Rome in the view of the whole world. I confess I was caught up in the historic occasion. The tradition and fanfare was broadcast to millions across the globe as hundreds of thousands looked to the great Basilica designed by Michelangelo from the great square of Bernini's making to see the sign of white smoke, to hear the bells, and to receive the word "habemus papum". Pope Benedict, which is the Latin for "blessed", appears to be a wonderful man; devoted to his faith for several decades, he is a man of great learning and sophistication. He was entrusted with leadership as he received the support of the electors and the acceptance of the people. The process was fascinating.
In contrast, a group of humble saints will meet tomorrow in the conference room of a local hotel. There might be a few thousand at most. There will be no secret election, no media coverage, no fanfare; but there will be the "power of God in great glory"! Most likely, few in the world will be aware or even care about this little gathering, but to those of us who know and believe, it will be a day of miracles. Tomorrow the prayers of hundreds of missionaries, thousands of faithful saints, and many spirits beyond the veil over many years will be answered when an Apostle of the Lord Jesus Christ organizes the Rome, Italy Stake of Zion! For the first time since the 1st century there will be a bishop and patriarch in Rome, called of God with proper authority. They will be ordinary men, but they will be part of an extraordinary event. They will be chosen by revelation and sustained by the people. The process will be inspiring. The meeting will close and they will quietly go forward to build the kingdom of God, with little commentary from CNN.
See, they know the prophecy of Lorenzo Snow, "O Italy! Thou birthplace and burial ground of the proud of literature and arts, and once the centre of the world's civilization. Who shall tell all the greatness which breathes in the story of thy past?...Here reposes the dust of millions that were mighty in ages gone by, and flooded the earth with the fame of their deeds...But is there nought here save the tomb of the past? O, Italy! Hath an eternal winter followed the summer of thy fame, and frosted the flowers of thy genius, and clouded the sunbeams of thy glory? No: the future of thy story shall outshine the past, and thy children shall yet be more renowned than in ages of old...Truth shall yet be victorious amid thy Babylonish regions. Where triumphant warriors were stained with gore, and princes reigned in the pomp of tyranny, the sure, though tardy working of the Gospel, now weaves a fairer wreath, and will wear a brighter crown. I see around me many an eye which will one day glisten with delight at the tidings of eternal Truth - many a countenance which will adorn the assemblies of the living God."
I am reminded of a scripture that brought me great comfort as I attended a meeting one Sunday in a little town called Carbonia on the beautiful island of Sardegna...with a congregation of 5. Two of us were the missionaries. "And it came to pass that I beheld the church of the Lamb of God, and its numbers were few...And it came to pass that I, Nephi, beheld the power of the Lamb of God, that it descended upon the saints of the church of the Lamb, and upon the covenant people of the Lord, who were scattered upon all the face of the earth; and they were armed with righteousness and with the power of God in great glory." (1 Nephi 14:12,14).
I have felt the power of the Lamb of God, I have seen those glistening eyes, and I have witnessed the miracles in Italy. I am so grateful that God has allowed me to be just a tiny part. How I wish I were there now!