Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Christmas Memories

Lavona Richardson
These last few days in 2014 I have enjoyed reflecting back on so many memorable Christmas season’s throughout my life.
One of my first memories is the year when I was I received a beautiful porcelain doll that I still treasure.  It was so beautiful with its pretty white dress with a pink coat and bonnet.  I remember how careful I was to handle it so it wouldn’t break.  Leona, my twin sister and I got baby dolls alike. Nena’s doll was a toddler doll that stood up.  I still have that doll and treasure it.
Growing up my Mother and Daddy would not wrap the gifts but wait to put them out until Christmas Eve.  Christmas morning we would have races into see the tree and then we would each have a turn to say what we saw before my mother played the piano as we all marched into the tree.  The races were competitive with each one wanting to have the shortest time.  Jay and I kept this tradition in our home as our children were growing up and now many of our children have Christmas races keeping up the tradition. As a child I didn’t have a Christmas stocking that I hung up so this tradition was brought into our family by Jay. 
Another Christmas memory is coming home for Christmas from BYU after finishing finals and finding time to bring home gifts for everyone.  It was about a twelve hour drive from Provo to Snowflake and we usually started out tired after our last final because we were so anxious to get home.
I left for my mission in Mexico in October 1955 checking out of school and becoming a missionary all in one weekend.   My friends in my home ward didn’t know that we were on a mission until we didn’t come home for Christmas.  Nena, Leona and I were all on our missions at the same time so none of us were home for Christmas.  I was in Mexico for two years so missed being home for Christmas two different years.  I remember helping our investigators and new converts find the true meaning of Christmas.  The first Christmas in Mexico I was in Tampico and enjoyed helping the Primary with their program.  I played the piano for them to sing.  After the program we broke a piñata.  Christmas 1956 I spent in Monterrey where I was serving as secretary to President Bentley and helping Sister Bentley with the Relief Society.   In my journal I wrote that on Christmas Eve I was in charge of a release program for a missionary and then went out to the Nuevo Republic Branch to help with the Primary program.   After the program the children broke a piñata filled with goodies.   Other entries in my journal state that I made Christmas boxes to take to some families in need.  I cooked the Christmas dinner for all the missionaries in Monterrey since Sister Bentley was busy with her family.   I got home from my mission the end of October 1957 so spent Christmas with my family in Snowflake before going back up to BYU to finish my last classes to graduate in Elementary Education. 
I graduated from BYU the summer of 1958 and started teaching 2nd grade at the Edison School.  I remember helping my 2nde graders learn a song about each letter of the word “Christmas” for our school program.  The song started out “C” is for the Christ Child born on Christmas Day.   I had a wonderful class of 2nd graders and loved teaching.  I gave my parents a special gift that year.  I found a painting called “Slowpoke” of a little horse following a rider on a horse that my Daddy loved and cherished. 
One of the most memorable Christmases was in 1959.  Jay and I were married on December 22ndjust three days before Christmas in the Arizona Temple.  Cecil and Sylvia were married the same day.  We had a double wedding reception in Virden that night.  We spent Christmas Eve with Jay’s family and all his little nephews and nieces.  Christmas Day we rode up to Snowflake to spend the rest of Christmas with my family.  We had a reception in Snowflake a few days after Christmas and drove back to Chicago to begin our own little family.
Christmas 1960 we had as 3 month old baby to help us celebrate Christmas.  We rode the train to Arizona for Christmas.  This was our first opportunity to show off our sweet little Miriam to our family.  She was a doll.  Everyone loved her.  I will always remember how proud Jay was of his little daughter and how anxious he was to show her off and let his family and friends see how cute she was. 
We spent the next two Christmases in Chicago since I t was too far and too expensive to come home.  Jay graduated from Northwestern Dental School in May 1963 and our family had grown to three little girls.  We packed up all our belongings and drove to Arizona and then back across country to Lewisburg, Pennsylvania where Jay spent a year working as a dentist in the Federal Penitentiary.  Lewisburg is situated on the banks of the Susquehanna River.   I remember that when we first drove into Lewisburg they were celebrating a historical event so all of the stores had antiques in them.  I worried about how we were going to find toys for our little girls but soon learned that they had fun Christmas toys to buy there too.  We were only in Pennsylvania for one Christmas.  We were busy with Jay being the branch president in the Sunbury Branch which was very spread out and I was serving as the Primary President.  Jay wanted to visit all the members at Christmas time so we did lots of traveling with our little girls.  We made some good friends in Millersburg, Sunbury, and surrounding areas that we kept in touch with for many years.  We went to Harrisburg about an hour away for our district meetings. 
Christmas 1964 was spent in Arizona with a new baby.   We lived in a rental home on 11th street in Tempe and Jay worked as a dentist on North Central Avenue in South Phoenix.   Joann was born in November.  We bought dolls and doll buggies for our four little girls and loved providing Christmas for them. 
We moved into our new home at 304 East Geneva in Tempe before Christmas 1965.  With our little girls we started lots of Christmas traditions.  I made cinnamon rolls for Christmas morning; we hung Christmas stockings and introduced the girls to the races into the tree.  I sewed dresses alike for the four girls.  They loved to perform and learned some cute songs that entertained their grandparents and friends. 
Vernon was born in July 1966 so for Christmas that year we added trucks and trains to our dolls and doll dishes and continued our Christmas traditions.  Another tradition we began was a Nativity pageant on Christmas Eve with the children acting out the Nativity as Mary, Joseph, the baby, shepherds, wise men, etc.  We kept that tradition up each year and it is still something that we do in our family.   The children still performed a lot and added their little brother to their productions.
A fun Christmas memory during this time of our lives is the Christmas that we put a key under the Christmas tree.  The children had to figure out what the key opened and were so delighted to find a cute little doll house out in our back yard big enough for them to play inside.  The house had a window flower box, cupboards and cute little furniture.  The girls spent many hours enjoying their dolls and playing in their doll house. 
We started sending out Christmas cards each year with a Christmas poem Jay wrote.  Often he would write another poem to include giving an update on our family.  The next years our Christmases were busy.  As the children grew older we were involved with school programs, primary programs, and other activities.  We enjoyed a new family tradition of caroling to our friends. We taught our children to play Christmas carols on the chimes to add to our Christmas caroling. Ray went caroling with us after his birth in 1969 and Kenneth in 1970.  We added more gifts to our Christmas tree and our children loved their Christmas stockings and Christmas races. 
Another Christmas memory is the year that I had the Christmas cinnamon rolls all made and sitting out on the sideboard in the utility room at “304”.  Jay brought in an old bicycle to paint for the girls to make it look like new.   I hadn’t covered the cinnamon rolls so they got paint on them and had to be thrown out.  I had to make another batch of cinnamon rolls.
Changes came to our family when in January 1972 just after Christmas Donald was born and only lived for seven hours.  More changes came because we moved that year to a bigger home just a few blocks away on Broadmor.   Christmas 1973 was made special because we Dale entered our family.  He had eating problems and never was very healthy.  He made a wonderful baby Jesus at our Christmas pageant that year before he died in January 1973.   These were difficult years losing two babies in just a couple of years.
The year 1974 brought joy and more changes into our family with our “almost twins” Margie and Melvin.  Two babies brought lots of joy to our family.  I took lots of pictures of our twins and the double fun they gave our family and our Christmas activities.
Our older girls were very musical.  We went to lots of fun Christmas programs where they sang and played musical instruments.  Miriam learned to play Handel’s Messiah and accompanied her high school choir singing it.  Marlene was one of the top sopranos and they all loved music and performed in choir, orchestra, band and ward and stake programs.
Dean joined our family for Christmas 1976 and brought lots of joy.  He was a cute little boy who loved hats and make believe.    Amy was born in November 1978 making our family complete.  She was a cute baby for our Christmas pageant in 1978.   Each one of our children added to our Christmas joy and the fun we all had of finding the right gift for everyone.
More changes came to our family when Miriam graduated from Tempe High and began school at BYU.  Marlene joined her in 1979.  I have special memories of Christmas that year.  When Miriam and Marlene arrived home from Utah after finishing their finals they insisted that we open their Christmas gifts early.  They had painted a beautiful seventeen piece Nativity set for us complete with Mary, Joseph, the baby, 4 shepherds, 2 sheep, a cow and a donkey, three wise men with three camels some of which are almost a foot tall.  This was the start to my collection of Nativities from all over the world.  We bought an olive wood Nativity when we were in Israel with Miriam when she was there with the Travel Study from BYU.  Our missionary sons brought us Nativities from places where they served their mission.  Melvin had some special Russian eggs painted to display the Nativity and many others.  I enjoy each year arranging about 100 different Nativity sets from around the world.
More changes came into our family and we didn’t always have all of our children around us.  We enjoyed them when they were able to be with us and communicated with them when they spent Christmas somewhere else.  The first to leave was Marlene when she married Mark in 1981, followed by Tony that married Miriam in 1982, Fred married Rauna in 1983 and Robert married Joann in 1985.  They started their own family traditions but came home to enjoy Christmas with us. As the grandchildren started coming we enjoyed having little ones around and the joy that children bring.  Vernon left for Venezuela for his mission in 1985 followed by Ray assigned to Japan, 1988 and Kenneth served his mission in Scotland in 1989.  More changes came as Melvin was called to Russia and Margie served in Chile on their missions.  We continued to have more temple weddings in our family with Vernon marrying Connie.  Kenneth and Jenni married in the Arizona Temple in 1993 just a couple of days after Christmas.  Several years later Melvin married Tami and Margie married Russ.  Just a couple of years ago we went to Washington to be with Dean and Jennifer as they celebrated their Christmas wedding. 
The years passed with lots of fun Christmases made special with new babies and new traditions along with keeping the old traditions.   Jay retired from Dentistry and we were called to serve a mission in Indonesia.  This brought more joy to our Christmas celebrations.  We were in Indonesia away from our family for Christmas 2003 and 2004.  The first Christmas the only gift we got for Christmas was an orchid plant given by one of our friends.  Melvin and Tami visited us about a month later and brought gifts from home.  Our last Christmas in Indonesia we chose to stay a few weeks longer on our mission so that we could help our new converts enjoy their first ever Christmas celebration.  A special memory of a miracle is when we went out to Jasinga with the package of Christmas gifts Miriam sent to us.  She had in the package Christmas lights.  We told our friends we needed a tree so we watched as they cut down a tree and brought it into the house.  We strung the American lights around the tree but then realized they didn’t have electricity.  Our Indonesian friends hooked up a generator.  The electricity in Indonesia is different so the American lights were not supposed to light but we had a Christmas miracle and they did light.  A memory that I will never forget is seeing the children’s faces as they saw a Christmas tree and Christmas lights for the very first time.  I am grateful that Miriam had provided gifts that we had wrapped to give to all of the children.
We were not home for Christmas in 2005 or 2006 because after getting home from our mission in Indonesia we were anxious to serve a senior mission again and this time were assigned to be missionaries in Nauvoo.  The Christmases in Nauvoo were very different than the ones in Indonesia because we were around lots of other missionaries and participating in a Christmas walk around the Nauvoo sites and other missionary activities.
I have only highlight ted a few Christmas memories.  There are so many more.  Some Christmas activities stay the same and others change.  I am happy to learn that many of my children still have Christmas stockings, Christmas races and Christmas pageant on Christmas Eve when the children re-enact the story of the first Christmas. Many still have homemade cinnamon rolls on Christmas morning and all have the joy of being around Christmas with family.  This is my fourth Christmas to not have Jay with me.  Jay loved Christmas.  He loved buying the oranges, apple and little gifts to fill the stockings.  He loved helping me decide what to give to each of our children and grandchildren.  I love Christmas too.  I love the Christmas music, Christmas lights at the temple, homes and businesses, Christmas stories and the lights on the Christmas tree.  I love reading Christmas poems especially the ones that Jay wrote and left for us.  I love planning what to give each of my children and their families for Christmas.  All year I work at getting ideas of what to give that will bring joy into their lives and express to them the love I have for them.    I look forward to decorating my home for Christmas, setting out all of my Christmas Nativity sets and other decorations.  Each one has a special memory.  I love having all of my family come to my home for my family Christmas program and the opportunity to be together.  I love telling my Christmas story and Ray or grandchildren singing Jay’s song, “Mary Sweet Mary”.  I love going to the various homes on Christmas and enjoying the Christmas spirit there.  I love Christmas and look forward to more made special by my 11 children and their spouses, 65 grandchildren and 25 great grandchildren with more on the way. Each one is very special to me and each one makes Christmas something that I look forward to.  I am grateful for my Savior, my Redeemer whose birth and life we celebrate at Christmas time.  I want my children to know that I have a testimony that Christ’s church is again upon the earth restored in these Latter-days.  I know that we have a living prophet that receives revelation for His church.  I know that because of Christ’s resurrection and atonement I can be with Jay again if I live worthy and we can be an eternal family.   I am grateful for my family and that they all celebrate Christmas like I do and are living good lives. 

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Jesse N. Smith's Lost Book of Mormon/found

by Shaun Heaton
It had been 60 years since any Jesse N. Smith’s family member knew what had happened to the Book of Mormon that Joseph Smith fondly gave to his 7-year-old youngest cousin Jesse. It was a treasured family heirloom and a symbol of Grandpa Jesse’s love for the restored Gospel. Had it been lost, stolen, or misplaced? Here is the incredible story.
 A photograph portrait of Jesse Smith.
Jesse N. Smith
In 1839, Grandpa had lost his father Silas Smith Sr., brother to Joseph Smith Sr., and his 6-year-old brother John, as a result of Missouri persecution. Joseph and Hyrum and Uncle John Smith took it upon themselves to take care of the tiny family of Mary Aiken, mother to young Silas Jr. and Jesse. In adult life, Silas Jr. is remembered for being called by Erastus Snow to lead the San Juan Saints to the San Juan as detailed in Gerald Lund’s book Undaunted.
In his April 1905 General Conference address in the tabernacle, President Jesse N. Smith, first leader of the Snowflake Stake, shared this striking and humorous experience he had in Nauvoo.
When I was enabled to go to school, there were no free schools then; contracts were made by the parents; and I had a very meagre supply of books, almost none at all. I had heard that they were using the Book of Mormon in the schools, so I took my father’s Book of Mormon with me. It was the first edition. Our honored Patriarch was in that class with his Book of Mormon: young Joseph Smith [the third], the son of Sidney Rigdon, the son of William Marks, and the son of Peter Haws were also in the class. I was in good company. But they all had books of the second edition, with new and beautiful binding, and I felt I was a little behind them. As I was going to school one morning, and passing the Prophet’s place, he was walking in the garden, and he answered my salutation. I think he would answer any child’s salutation just as readily as that of a grown person. He came up to the fence and spoke very kindly to me. He said, “You are going to school?”
“What book do you read in?”
“I read in the Book of Mormon.”
“Come in here.”
I passed in at the gate and he made a present of a Book of Mormon of the new edition, with beautiful binding. I could then hold up my head with the rest of the others in class. He gave me this injunction: “Read it in school and read it at home.” I have done so. I believe the Book of Mormon.
A picture of the Book of Mormon given to Jesse Smith by Joseph Smith.
Book of Mormon Given to Jesse Smith by Joseph Smith
The Prophet wrote an inscription inside that said “Presented to Jesse Nathaniel Smith. My friend and kinsman. Joseph Smith March 1842.”
Grandpa Jesse went on to be a great leader in building the church in Parowan and Eastern Arizona, serving 54 years. These years were divided equally in each location under Prophets Brigham Young, Wilford Woodruff, John Taylor, Lorenzo Snow, and Joseph F. Smith.
As a young 9 year old, he remembered seeing the martyred bodies of cousins Joseph and Hyrum and the sadness he felt in his heart.
In 1846 at winter quarters he was part of a mission to acquire food for the starving saints. As an 11 year old, he and Thomas Callister went to Missouri to acquire corn. On the return trip, the wagon tipped over and Jesse was almost impaled by a broken wagon bow and nearly died, being smothered in 100 bushels of corn. He received a blessing from Brother Callister and survived. He went on to be Mayor of Parowan, a member of the Utah Legislature, and a probate judge. He also served in the territorial legislature of Arizona. He faithfully served twice as a Mission President in Scandinavia helping more than 3,000 Saints immigrate to the United States and then on to Utah. When the saints settled the Snowflake and Woodruff area of Arizona, they purchased the land and raised crops only to find out many years later that the Aztec Land and Title Company owned the ground. President Lorenzo Snow relied upon Jesse Smith and Brigham Young, Jr., to lead the delicate negotiations in New York City and they reacquired the property through faithful prayer and keen diplomacy.
After finishing his mission to the Muddy, Jesse was transporting a load of cotton from St. George to Salt Lake City for Brigham Young, when he was caught in a flash flood destroying the load as well as his wagon and other personal prized effects. He didn’t feel responsible, but when he found out that President Young had opposite feelings, Jesse faithfully paid back the value of the load, though it took a few years and also involved selling personal stock in the Parowan Cooperative to do it.
In later years as Stake President in Snowflake, he prophesied that Gila Valley would have a temple.
Jesse’s greatest accomplishment was his posterity. He had 5 loving and faithful wives that bore 30 daughters and 14 sons. His wives were Emma West, Margaret West, Janet Mauretta Johnson, Augusta Outzen, and Emma Larson. As of 2001 Jesse had more than 27,000; the number is probably much higher now. The contributions in service and leadership of his family’s service to the church and public are incalculable.
Grandfather Jesse died June 5, 1905. The precious Book of Mormon given to him by the Prophet Joseph Smith was passed on to his seventh son Asael Smith and then passed on to seventh son Richard Smith, a current resident of Orem, Utah. It was then donated to the Mesa Arizona Temple at the suggestion of Emma Larson. It then disappeared. Family members had no idea what happened to it. Richard Smith who made the original donation thought it may have been taken by mischief. The Jesse Smith family had no clue as to the book’s whereabouts and was saddened by its loss. For years Richard shared the story with others hoping that someday it would be found.
Enter into the picture my aunt Jan Farr, granddaughter to Jesse N. through his wife Janet Mauretta Johnson. She was married to my very loving uncle Lee Shumway who passed away 2005. She met and then married her cousin Lamarr Farr, grandson of Augusta Outzen, He had recently lost his wife to cancer. She then tells this story in her own words.
While LaMarr and I were on our Mission in Salt Lake City, we had discussed Grandpa’s book a few times, and wondered if it could be in the Church History Library. LaMarr prayed about it, and one day as we were walking by, decided to stop and ask if it could be there. We talked to the secretary, Marie Ericksen, and after we told her the story, she looked in the records on the computer couldn’t find out anything about it there, but she said she would make a few phone calls and get back to us. She discussed it with Glen Rowe who was the head of that department at that time, so he would be aware of it. One day he was looking in the Prophet’s safe for something else and he came across a Book of Mormon that said “presented to Jesse Nathaniel Smith from your Friend and kinsman, Joseph Smith, March 1842.” The date checked out because Jesse would have been 7 years old by then. Upon some research, we found out that the book had been given to Uncle Ashael Smith and later, Richard Smith, President of the Smith Organization, who decided that it should belong in the Mesa Temple where there were other artifacts displayed. Glen Rowe called us one day and invited us to come over and see the book he had found in the Prophet’s safe. We entered the room and there on the table was the Book. Brother Rowe said we could look at it and as I touched it, I felt a thrill go through me knowing that the Prophet Joseph Smith and Grandpa Smith had touched this book, and of course, I became quite emotional at that point.
A 3X5 card had been placed inside the Book of Mormon that said:
September 30, 1948 This copy of the Book of Mormon was presented to the Arizona Temple by the family of Jesse N. Smith. President Harry L. Payne of the Arizona Temple brought it to President George Albert Smith this morning saying that he thought it should be in his possession. President Smith felt that it should be turned over to the Historian’s Office.
As far as we can tell, it sat in special church vaults for a little over 60 years. The mystery was resolved but others ensued. One being was that the first 63 pages had gone missing.
A picture of Shaun Heaton (Author) Holding the Rediscovered Heirloom.
Shaun Heaton (Author) Holding the Rediscovered Heirloom
My personal interest in my great-grandfather’s life started last summer when I developed a determination to read his journal. Many descendants had put forth thousands of hours in keeping a regular monthly newsletter called the Kinsman that kept the legacy of this great man and family alive. Extensive writings had already been done and published. His stories of faith and service in a world without electronics, technology, and automobiles fascinated me. A strong desire to add to the research followed.
My mother, Esther Ruth Heaton, had in her possession copies of the documents my aunt was allowed to copy and which she allowed me to study. After calling my aunt and hearing her special story, I was determined to view the Book of Mormon on my own. I found out that Menlo Smith, Scott Barker, and Jeff Adams (all descendants of Jesse N. and active board members) were meeting with administrators at the Family History Library west of Temple Square to discuss how to glean living descendants of Jesse N., which now number thousands, from their records.
I was able to meet briefly with them and told them of the Book of Mormon, but removed myself to the Church History Library to further the research. Having never been to the Church History Library, I found everyone helpful and kind. A young man named Tyson seemed fascinated by my story of the Book of Mormon which he quickly looked up on the massive church history library database, but couldn’t find any record of it. I remember thinking with a smile “Oh Great, it has disappeared again.” He did find some other documents of Jesse N’s that were a little unclear exactly what they were but did hint at copies of his diary. For some reason, the possibility that they had his original diary escaped me.
After filling out the proper requests, I was taken to another room secured for viewing valuable documents and was handled a file. As I opened the file, it appeared to be a handwritten document of about 30 pages. It became apparent that it was a summarized autobiographical sketch of his life in his own pen. Some emotion welled within me. After studying his life intently for 6 months, I was reading his original handwriting. The veil was thin. The emotion came a few minutes later when they brought his original journal. I remember thinking how large and heavy it was and how amazing it was to lug that around for the last 50 years of his life. I was amazed to read exact phrases in his pen that I had just read that day in published form. The library was closing soon and workers kindly reminded me I only had a few minutes left. I quickly wrapped things up determined to bring my mother, a granddaughter of Jesse, and other family back as soon as scheduling would permit. That opportunity came in one month.
I contacted the same person my aunt had gone through, Marie Erickson, and we set up a meeting time in one week to view the original documents. Through Facebook and personal emails, I invited my family and other descendants to participate in this special occasion.
A picture of Richard Smith, Original Donor of Heirloom, Holding "Lost" Book.
Richard Smith, Original Donor of Heirloom, Holding “Lost” Book
The original donor, Richard Smith, just happened to live in the same ward that shared my building. I realized how important this would be to him, so I sought him out how the following Sunday and got his attention in the foyer after Sacrament meeting. There I told him the book had been found and had been in the church vaults for many years. Being elderly and stooped over in age, he straightened right up with delight and surprise at the news.
The day arrived and we and excitedly loaded the car with my wife and me, my parents, and Richard and his wife and headed to Salt Lake City from Orem. We knew other relatives were going to meet us there but were unsure how many. I had originally told Sister Erickson that perhaps 10–15 of us would be there, but in actuality there were around 30, many of whom I hadn’t met. There was a little difficulty getting us all in the same room. Normally research was done by individuals and all the workers and missionaries hadn’t remembered when they had an entire family come en masse like this. Graciously, they accommodated us.
After sharing the story of how Jesse had acquired the book as a child, we had an opportunity to hold it and to feel of its spirit. We were particularly excited to hear from Richard as he shared the background behind his donation. He was then handed the book and he just held it in awe and kept staring at the inscription inside the front cover which meant so much to him.

Very special letter from Vernon: June 2011

I wanted to write a short note to thank each of you for a wonderful memorial service for dad.  It could not have been more perfect!  Such a wonderful day to commemorate dad in Mesa and Virden and then to bury him in the setting sun.  Someone mentioned how fitting to bury dad in the sunset and to resurrect in the morning of a new day.

Dad’s legacy now lives on in us (and our children) and I commit to being a better person because of him.  There are things dad and mom taught that I am not doing well enough and I commit to change.

To Mom, Thanks for helping dad be all he could be.  You gave him time to spend with us.  You gave him time to write poems.    You cared for him so well at home for so long without complaint.  We will always remember this service to him clear up until the end.  We thank and revere you mom for all you have done and continue to do for us. 

To Miriam, Thanks for spending dad’s last week with him and for offering a very fitting memorial talk at his funeral.  You have always been a great leader and example to me.  And it is a great credit to mom and dad to have raised a wonderful, responsible oldest daughter that was by mom and dad’s side every moment to comfort them in need.  These qualities live on in your children and it is glorious to see. You are his legacy.

To Marlene, Thanks for the years of service directly to mom and dad.  In my opinion, dad could not have stayed home without the Arizona children helping at every step. In my opinion, your calm, loving personality is the closest match to dad’s personality. I am eternally grateful for you.  You are his legacy.

To Rauna, thanks for the years of service directly to mom and dad.  Thanks also for the wonderful musical arrangements (using verses from dad’s poems).  It was a great way to show our love to dad and mom by singing both by children and by grandchildren.  Singing with family is one of my best recollections of my childhood.  Just as dad communicated through poetry, you communicate through music.  Dad is very proud of you. You are his legacy.

To Joann, thanks for spending time with mom after the memorial service.  There is plenty of needed time of service and I am grateful you are by mom’s side.  You’ve always been able to see the need of the individual and I am grateful.  The picture dvd was priceless and made the viewings of high quality as we remembered our dad.  And thanks to Robert for taking the pictures so we didn’t need to worry about them.  Both of you have always been willing and able to give. You are his legacy.

To Ray, I am so grateful you have spent so many hours at mom and dad’s side.  You have taken care of so many things that they needed.  I am grateful for your willingness to serve so selflessly, never asking for anything in return. Thanks for being worthy to bless our dad in his final days and pronounce blessings upon him. .  Thanks for your fine memorial in Virden.  I just kept thinking how fitting it was to ask those in the audience who had been seen by our dad, the dentist.  That was very clearly a direct manifestation of his service.  I’ve been thinking in my own life, who would raise their hand as being served by me.  Our dad left a fine example to follow.  Dad always has been and continues to be proud of you – he once told me that.  Please always remember that.  You are his legacy.

To Kenneth, you dove in this past week on many of the funeral arrangements, the program, the funeral details, the mortuary details, etc. etc.  I am so grateful for you and your talents.  Thank you for taking a lead role in this.  And thanks for taking the past week to be right next to Dad and literally, directly blessing him in his final moments of need. You are his legacy.

To Margie, you bring so many unique talents to the table and are able to focus on things that others don’t see.  My boys and I are so grateful for your passing out dad’s ties – that will live on as a memory.  I am also grateful for the picture frames you worked on for the viewings.  They were wonderful.  Despite your distance from home, I know your daily calls to mom and dad have been a major blessing to mom.  This has been a great source of strength and joy to her and dad during these difficult years.  I am grateful. You are his legacy.

To Melvin, I know for many years you have blessed mom and dad directly with frequent calls and visits.  The life sketch given of dad was very well written and delivered (and had many comment on it).  It was a fitting tribute to dad.  I also know the past week, you literally left work (even though you were expected to be there) to be at dad’s and mom’s side.  I am thankful for this service to them.  I am also grateful that you repeated texted and allowed me to see video of dad – that kept me connected to the process.  Thank you!! You are his legacy.

To Dean, thanks for coming and bringing your beautiful bride.  I enjoyed spending some time with Jennifer and gladly welcome her to the family.  Dad is proud of the good things you are doing.  You are his legacy.

To Amy, of the children, you gave the most to dad.  When I spent a week with dad last year, I could never quite shave his face like you could!  I know dad delighted in you.  And would always tell me you had just the right disposition to work with others.  You are his crown jewel. You are the most direct example of what dad’s love could do and you have shined.  I am very proud of you and I am very thankful for you. You are his legacy.

Dad on his mission

Monday, December 1, 2014

Weak things made strong, by Melvin Richardson

I came across this article/paper by Melvin that he wrote July 24, 2011 shortly after Dad's passing.  It is truly a classic and has many important principles for us to live by.  Really really love this article.  

Some special Flake family stories: from Flake roundup Nov. 2014

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Fast Offerings Talk/life memories

Lavona Richardson’s Talk on Fast Offerings in the Keating Ward
Nov.  30, 2014
Our theme for the humanitarian mission that Jay and I served in Indonesia was a quote from Joseph Smith, “A man filled with the love of God, is not content with blessing his family alone; but ranges through the whole world anxious to bless the whole human race”.
What a joy we had in helping those in need.  People would ask who are you and why are you here. We would tell them that we were only there to help anyone that needed help.  How grateful I am to belong to a church that reaches out to people all over the world to help make lives better for those in need. 

 My biggest joy was delivering wheelchairs.  I took pictures and kept a record of each of the wheelchairs that we helped give.  With each wheelchair I had a special feeling of gratitude to be able to help someone who couldn’t help themselves.  I remember the joy of seeing a man who had never been off his bed now able to sit in a wheelchair and hold his little children in his lap.  I remember a little ten year old girl who was born without legs and had never been out of her home. We had what seemed like a thousand people following us as we walked to her home with a wheelchair.  The people in the neighborhood didn’t even know that she lived in that home.  What a joy it was when we took the wheelchair out of the box and removed the plastic around it and then sat her in it for the first time.  She was frightened with so many around so I told the people if they would go over by a nearby tree that I would take their picture.  This gave me time to take the picture of the little girl in the wheelchair so the family would know that we knew she had a wheelchair and that they would not be tempted to sell it.  The father promised that he would now see that his daughter went to school.  We stopped by their home sometime later and saw a little girl completely changed and enjoying friends and going to school. 

One more quick memory of our time in Indonesia.  We would take the beautiful homemade quilts many of you made to the very poor in the third class hospitals.  I would always make a presentation saying that someone in America loves you and wants you to have this quilt.  I would then give a little silent prayer that both the people who made the quilt in America and the people in Indonesia would feel the love.
This is all made possible by paying our fast offerings.  President J. Reuben Clark, Jr., had this to say: “The fundamental principle of all Church relief work is that it must be carried on by fast offerings and other voluntary donations and contributions. This is the order established by the Lord.   Tithing is not primarily designed for that purpose.  

Fast offering is the Lord’s financial law given for the blessing of the poor. For many years it was understood that fast offerings should represent the cost of the two meals not eaten. This understanding came into being because, in the early days, members were generally asked to give the actual food saved by fasting. Conditions were so desperate that money would have been of little use. Later, the understanding seemed to be that $1 per capita would be adequate.

However, in recent years, President Spencer W.  Kimball has said of the fast offering: “I think we should be very generous and give, instead of the amount we saved by our two meals of fasting, perhaps much, much more—ten times more where we are in a position to do it.”
It is important to recognize that the fast offering is a freewill offering, the amount of which each individual is responsible to determine. It is not the same as tithing, which is 10 percent of our interest annually. The amount is left up to each individual, and yet a prophet has said we should be very generous. 

You will recall when a certain ruler asked Jesus what he should do to inherit eternal life, the Savior responded:
“Thou knowest the commandments, Do not commit adultery, Do not kill, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Honor thy father and thy mother.
“And he said, All these have I kept from my youth up.
“Now when Jesus heard these things, he said unto him, Yet lackest thou one thing: sell all that thou hast, and distribute unto the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come, follow me.
“And when he heard this, he was very sorrowful: for he was very rich.
“And when Jesus saw that he was very sorrowful, he said, how hardly shall they that have riches enter into the kingdom of God!
“For it is easier for a camel to go through a needle’s eye, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God.” (Luke 18:20-25)

This has been a great talk for me to prepare because I have sometimes thought that the poor bring it upon themselves. The Lord knew what I needed when in my patriarchal blessing it says, “I bless you with the good things of earth that you may have ample to provide for your own and have some to spare to help those who may be in need.  Be free in helping the needy, for the Lord loves a cheerful giver and will multiply blessings upon you inasmuch that you will not miss that which you give away.”

In the book of Jacob in the Book of Mormon chapter 2 verse 17 it states “Think of your brethren like unto yourselves, and be familiar with all and free with your substance, that they may be rich like unto you.” 

In the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, fast offerings assist the poor and needy.    Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin said, “How much should we pay in fast offerings?  My brothers and sisters, the measure of our offering to bless the poor is a measure of our gratitude to our Heavenly Father.  Will we, who have been blessed so abundantly, turn our backs on those who need our help?  Paying a generous fast offering is a measure of our willingness to consecrate ourselves to relief the suffering of others.   

President Marion G. Romney said, “Be liberal in your giving, that you yourselves may grow.  Don’t give just for the benefit of the poor, but give for your own welfare.  Give enough so that you can give yourself into the kingdom of God through consecrating of your means and your time.”

I think this is a fitting subject to consider as we celebrated Thanksgiving this past week and thought of the many blessings we have.  A Thanksgiving memory I have growing up in Snowflake is the Wood Dance that we held Thanksgiving evening.  During the week we would all help cut down trees and fill the widow’s wood boxes with wood for the winter.  My Dad was a cattle rancher and around Thanksgiving would butcher a beef  and cut it up to distribute to the widows and those in need.

President Holland in the last conference gave a talk entitled “Are We Not All Beggars?”  He said that rich or poor we are to “do what we can” when others are in need.  In his talk he also said “In our day, the restored Church of Jesus Christ had not yet seen its first anniversary when the Lord commanded the members to “look to the poor and …needy and administer to their relief that they shall not suffer.”  President Holland then made the comment “Note the imperative tone of that passage…”they shall not suffer”.  That language God uses when he means business.”

This past week I noticed on the news that the city of Show Low has an annual  community fast where the city leaders are asking the community to set aside the cost of going without for one meal and donate that money to help the local in- need population.

At the close of World War II members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Europe faced crises both material and spiritual.  In the Netherlands, people distrusted their neighbors and friends as a consequence of the social upheaval of the German occupation.  Under the supervision of the church leaders the Dutch members began a welfare project where they were asked to send their entire potato harvest to Germany. This proposal stunned the Dutch Saints because not only were they being asked to sacrifice the potatoes they had worked so hard to grow, they were being asked to send that harvest to their former enemies.  In the end, the Lord blessed the Dutch Saints with an abundant harvest, and the Saints in Germany received as much as 100 pounds of potatoes per family. This success inspired the Dutch members to donate more potatoes as well as herring the following year. The German members saved some of the potatoes for their own planting. During the North Sea Flood of 1953 in the Netherlands, the members in Germany sent humanitarian aid to their fellow saints as a way of showing their gratitude.

When we sacrifice to provide for each other in the Lord’s way, we show gratitude for His sacrifice, and we bear record of it.  I bear testimony that Heavenly Father wants to bless us when we are obedient and strive to follow his commandments.  I pray that we might remember the poor and give willingly of that which the Lord has blessed us with.  I bear testimony that this is His church, even the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  I am so grateful for my membership and the opportunity I have each week to share my testimony with others at the Conference Center in Salt Lake City. . I am grateful for this Christmas Season and pray that we will all strive to make Christ the center of our family celebrations.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Remembering Bruce R. Flake, by Garry R. Flake

Remembering My Father
Garry R. Flake

I am grateful for the life and example of my father, Bruce M. Flake.  As a teenager, I remember trying to persuade him with, “But, everybody’s doing it.”  He said, “We are not ‘everybody’ – we are a family with our own traditions and rules.”   

            One time he decided we were not giving Mother enough respect.  He called a special family meeting and said, “I don’t think you children are giving your mother the support and respect she deserves.”  He expressed his love and support for her and then asked each of us to express what she meant to us.  Then, he asked us to improve and we did.

            I asked permission to go to a dance over in the ward cultural hall.  He granted it on condition that I would be home before midnight since we would be leaving at dawn the next morning to “ride the range.”  The dance was fun and I was still there when my dad came to the dance at 12:20 a.m.  I was shocked to see him come to the dance and made a quick beeline for him.  I felt guilty for disobeying him.  I expected him to say something as we crossed the street to our home.  Not a word was said.  I then thought, “I’ll bet he’ll talk to me about this when we get in the house.”  All he said was, “Garry, better get to bed and be ready to leave early.”  I thought he’d talk to me on the way to the ranch the next morning.  Never another word was said!   His late-night arrival at the dance was discipline enough. 

            When I was 15, I was one of the rowdy ones in Harvey Turley’s Mutual class.  Several Tuesday nights, he tried to settle us down.  One Tuesday evening after opening exercises and to our great surprise, our fathers – eight of them – were waiting for us when we arrived in the classroom.  Brother Turley explained the situation then sent us home with our dads.  Nothing was said until we got home where I sat down with him and Mother to explain what had been happening.   The punishment was no more driving the pickup to the field to do evening chores.  I could walk or ride my bike.  It was a bit acrobatic to balance grain sacks on the bicycle handle bars.  I asked how long before I could drive again.  He said, “When you learn to be responsible again.”  Several months went by before I was permitted to drive again.  It hurt the pride of a fifteen-year old for friends to see him back on a bike.  That hurt!  Now, years later, I am grateful that he cared enough to discipline. 

            I learned respect for animals.  My dad believed in handling cattle gently.  I remember his reprimand as I used a board on a milk cow.  He taught me to love nature and the beauty of the earth.  The rejoicing following a good rain was exciting but taught lessons of gratitude, as well.  He taught me of our dependence on God for every blessing. 

            Throughout life, no honor has been more significant than Bruce Flake’s words, “I’m proud of you.”  I look forward to when he might once again say that to me and I can tell him that I am proud that he’s my dad.  

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Lucy Hannah White Flake: Mormon Pioneer Migration to Utah

Lucy Hannah White Flake’s Reflections of the Mormon Pioneer Migration to Utah

Both of my parents, Samuel Dennis and Mary Burton White, were born in “York State” as New York was then called, and had moved, with their parents to Illinois, where in Knox
A black and white portrait of Lucy Hannah White Flake.County on the 23rd of August 1842, I was born, the eldest of their children. When I was two years old they joined themselves to a very unpopular religion, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Like their Huguenot, Quaker and Puritan ancestors, they suffered much persecution because of their desire to “worship God according to the dictates of their own conscience,” a privilege granted by the Constitution of the United States, for which many of them fought and died.
My earliest recollection was when my father held me up to see the faces of our beloved prophet, Joseph Smith, and his brother, Hyrum, who had beenSamuel Dennis Whitemartyred in Carthage Jail.
Mobs of armed men burned our homes, confiscated our property, heaped every indignity imaginable upon us. We were driven from county to county, from state to state and finally from the confines of civilization, this too, in the dead of winter.
My grandmother Burton, a gentle little English lady, unused to hardship soon sickened and died. As mother stood by the shallow wayside grave, she brushed away her tears and I heard her say, “Thank God, she won’t ever have to suffer cold, hunger or exposure anymore.”
Mary Hannah Burton WhiteThe exodus toward the west began in 1846, but Father remained behind until the Spring of 1850 assisting other families to leave. The company in which we crossed the plains was not very large. We made good time on the trip. I walked most of the way from the Missouri River to the Great Salt Lake Valley. We all walked who were able to lighten the load of the poor oxen. I was always glad when it came time to camp. The oxen soon learned without much gee-ing and haw-ing how to place the wagons to form a circle, leaving very little space between the front wheel of one and the near hind wheel of the wagon ahead.
In the corral thus formed, the fires were made to cook the meals and the beds were made down near the wagons. If the Indians were troublesome, the cattle were put in this corral for the night and guard kept over the camp by the men.
When suppers were over, all gathered around the campfire, or if it were moonlight we needed no other light, someone would start a song, all would join in, or someone would tell an amusing story. The weary miles trudged that day would be forgotten. Soon the lively tune of a fiddle or accordion, a flute or a fife, or maybe all of them, could be heard playing a quadrille or a reel. Hardship, weariness, separation from loved ones were forgotten and these homeless exiles joined in the dance.
A statue of a Mormon pioneer pulling a handcart. And a quote about life being a test from Sheri Dew.
I would keep my eyes open as long as I could, picturing myself as a grown young lady, Belle of the Ball, with beautiful flowing skirts that would swish and swirl as I danced. Before I knew it my poor tired head would rest on Mother’s lap.

When the dancers were all tired out, or ten o’clock arrived, I would be awakened, to join in the closing hymn and kneel in prayer in a big circle before going to bed. Some of the prayers were so long that I would go to sleep again, then Father would carry me to bed.
Poor grandfather, John Griggs White, was not strong so we had to be careful of him on the trip giving him the best we had to eat. Father, Samuel Dennis White, contracted Mountain fever a week or two before we reached our destination, so Mother had to look after them and had a hard time doing that and all her other things. To me the three months journey was not a hardship.
Provisions were not plentiful any of the way. We had a cow along but she didn’t give much milk after walking all day. We ate the last of our food for breakfast in the morning of August 31, and about the middle of the afternoon we arrived at the home of Mother’s people. They had reached the Valley the year before. That date stands out in my memory as one of the happiest in my childhood. That day happened to be Mother’s thirty-second birthday, and was a joyous occasion.  I couldn’t understand her tears. I said, “Mother your loved ones are here, you wanted to come, so why are you crying?” She squeezed my hand gently, and smiling through her tears answered, “Lucy Hannah, when people are as happy as I am, they can not keep from crying.”
That was the first time I knew that tears could express both joy and sorrow.
Lucy Hannah White Flake, To the Last Frontier: Autobiography