Allen Butler History
 

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Robert Gaylen Allen (1928-living)

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Person identifier: KWCJ-B1J
    Source
Name:
Robert Gaylen Allen Allen (2010)
Gender:
Male Allen (2010)
Birth:

April 20, 1928

Hyrum, Cache, Utah

Allen (2010)
Marriage:

May 24, 1951

Logan, Cache, Utah

Allen (2010)
Occupation:

Wheat Farmer; Accountant

Allen (2010)
Death:
Living Allen (2010)
   

 

Life History

Allen (2008b). An autobiography

 

Introduction

Why a personal history? It seems that when we reach this point in our lives—that is, over 70 years old—we look about and see our children and grandchildren and we realize what they see in us, that is, parents that are aging with hair turning white and a level of ambition much less than it has been in earlier years. Yet within us we have all these wonderful memories of what has happened before: our hopes and dreams and the desires of our hearts to understand ourselves and to do those things that life has offered to us.


We realize that some of our children and especially our grandchildren have no idea who and what we really are because of how they see us now. Some of the later grandchildren see old folks and it’s hard for them to visualize us any different.


And so my desire is, as I start this program of recording that I can pass on some of the things that make me what I am. Then perhaps my children and grandchildren can come to know themselves better and can partly understand why I am the way I am.


I have a lot of deep feelings inside of me—spiritual feelings—that if I had the writing skill I would like to write many of these things. But because my skills lie more in the area of the spoken word rather than the written word, I hope that this recording will preserve something that is the essence of what Robert Allen really is.


If there is some sort of legacy that I can leave for you, my children and grandchildren—not that I am perfect or have not made mistakes, because indeed I have— I want you to know, that I do indeed love you. My love for you is without end and without bounds. 

Chapter 1: Preschool

My Family

Our family had come through a period of very lean years. My mother was my father’s second wife and I was the fourth child in their marriage.1 His first wife was deceased and left him with two children, Douglas and Drew. After her death Dad moved in with his mother, my grandmother Allen, and she was their primary caregiver.


During this time dad had a business that failed and income was very meager. He had taken a job with the city of Hyrum as a city Marshall and caretaker of the ten-acre park where the city jail was located and where the Lincoln school was built. He was paid the handsome fee of $75 a month in the winter time and $95 a month in the summer. It was after these very lean years that I came along in 1928.

 

ABC’s

As a child I lived at what is now 365 East and Main before our home was remodeled in 1937 and 1938. Prior to going to school my dad had a wonderful influence on me and did much to increase my self-confidence. I had a metal dish that I used at the table called my alphabet dish. It had the ABC’s all the way around the edge and in the process of using it for one or two years I learned my ABC’s very well. I could say them backward and forward! Many times when family was there or other people were visiting my dad would call me over to demonstrate the skill that I had developed through his encouragement: to say the alphabet backwards. After I had finished he would say, “Now, you try doing that” to whoever the guest was. In my memory I don’t remember anyone who took up that challenge and tried to do it!

 

My Father

Dad had always taken a great interest in politics. In the campaign of 1932, when I was four years old, Franklin Delano Roosevelt was running against Herbert Hoover for president. My dad campaigned very actively in Hyrum and in Cache County for the election of Roosevelt. And Roosevelt was of course elected. Through the political spoils system2 of that time dad was offered his choice of a position either as postmaster of the Hyrum post office or as a deputy collector of internal revenue. He chose to take the job with the Internal Revenue Service. The IRS was an infant bureaucracy compared to what it is now and taxes were very simple. He was assigned to be the representative of the IRS for the five countries of northern Utah and to collect taxes and handle correspondence between tax payers and citizens. My father’s primary responsibility was to resolve problems that resulted from faulty reporting. The problem of making people honestly report and pay their taxes is just as much an issue today as it was then. 


The whole reason why I chose to become a CPA was because of my father. My father often had so much work to do that he asked my mother to assist him. When I grew older he would ask me to aid him as well. When I was about 23 he turned the business over to me.


Salt Lake Trips

As my dad got this new job our financial situation improved a great deal. As a part of that improvement every year he would go to Salt Lake City for a tax school for three or four days to keep up on current tax laws. I remember going to Salt Lake City one year with mom and dad. We obtained an apartment in which we lived for a short time. The apartment was on Main Street, north of Temple Square. I stayed there with mom while dad went to sessions each day. Each evening he would return and we would go out for the evening meal and then to a movie or some other entertainment that was available at that time. I really enjoyed that. I think that was the only year I went with mom and dad to Salt Lake.


Another time, when I had not gone with them but they had gone together to this tax school, they returned and brought some little treats with them for the family. I remember they bought me a little red car, either a fire engine or a toy truck, and I was so pleased to have received this little truck and played with it on the floor. Mom and dad also brought a delicacy that was very special. They had purchased from ZCMI what we call rock candy. It was something very special, but I got so involved playing with my new little toy truck that I did not even get any of the candy! It was all gone before I got any. But, the little truck was important to me at that time.


Endnotes

1 Children from second marriage: Claron, Gwen, Robert, and Merle Jean.

2 Since the FDR reign, political parties can no longer decide local government positions based on the political preference of the president. At the time, the common phrase regarding the political spoils systems was: “To the victor go the spoils.” 

Chapter 2: Elementary School

Lincoln Elementary

When I started school I went to the Lincoln school in Hyrum. Mrs. Smith was the teacher of my first grade class and I enjoyed going to school very much. Then something very significant happened at the beginning of my second year; they started a new system for how the school was structured. I was there in the Lincoln school from the first grade through the eighth grade, but starting in the second grade we had a home room that we would go to for an hour in the morning and then an hour and a half in the afternoon. For the rest of the day we attended five other classes.


One was a library class in the school library that was watched over by Bessie Brown, the school librarian. We would be in the class for thirty minutes. Another class was a civics or history class and Vance Walker was the teacher. And then we had an art class that was a thirty minute period. I think it was Miss Olson who lived in our ward, Hyrum Second Ward, who was the teacher of that class. We had another class that was literature and dramatics and Fern Buist was the teacher of that class. The fifth class was music where we spent a half an hour in music and gym activities. For my first few years in that system a man by the name of Mr. Rosengreen was our music teacher and he would play music for us. He introduced us to a number that he called the “Dance of the Hours,” which is a light classical number. He would help us visualize what the composer was trying to set forth in that particular number. Another musical number was something about clocks. It was all tick-tock, tick-tock—many different clocks, and it was also a light classical number. I enjoyed those classes very much.

 

Paper Route

When I was in the seventh grade I took over the paper route for the Herald Journal that my brother Claron had been doing for some time. The price for a subscription to the paper was forty-five cents a month, and the area where I passed the papers was the entire south half of Hyrum city, a very extensive route. I don’t remember the number of papers but it was somewhere around one hundred. As I started into this business for myself I traded bikes two or three times and got a new upgrade. We had a special kind of handle bar that we could tie the paper bag on the front and put all the papers in. I would pick up the papers down at the U & I railroad station, which was on the first street north on Center Street in Hyrum. The old electric U & I train came through Hyrum everyday bringing the papers from Logan. I would pick those papers up shortly after school and then make the route. I had pretty good luck on the paper route.

 

My Brother Claron

Claron decided that he did not want to finish high school. He had gone for three years, but it was the year after I started that he decided he did not want to continue with school. He got a job at Elison’s market, a grocery store that was on Main Street, right next to the old South Cache Theater. He worked there and earned a little money and decided to buy a car that Aunt Dawn Johnson had. It was a 1936 Ford V8, and it was only a year or two old. When winter came the snow was a little deep and I was fearful that I couldn’t get the papers delivered on my bike with the deep snow. I would stop at Elison’s market on more than one occasion and I would beg and plead and sometimes weep a little bit asking him to take me out on my paper route. He did that several times and we could run over the ten or twelve miles in the paper route in pretty short order—an hour or an hour and a half—when it would take me three or more hours to do it on the bike.  

 

Mr. Buttars’s Horse

Dad had a good friend by the name of Buttars, who was the campaign chairman of the Republican Party in Cache County. By that time dad had been doing his IRS job for several years. Mr. Buttars had a very nice horse and he wanted to have a place to put it in the winter time. We had a barn on our property in Hyrum where we had kept a cow for many years and where the horse could have some housing in the winter. Dad made arrangements with his good friend Leo Nielson for some of his hay. It was grass hay that Leo had put out on his land that was grown in the north field. The only problem was that the grass hay had quite a few thistles in it. We brought this beautiful red horse to our barn and I got to use it this one winter to pass my papers.


The horse was very spirited. It loved to run and was a joy to be with, but the feed that we had for the horse was not adequate. The horse would try to eat the grass hay and he would get the thistles from the hay in his lips. Of course the horse had no way to get those thistles out and so he would not eat the hay. I was a dumb kid and I didn’t know anything about it! But we would always buy rolled barley and feed him a container of barley each day. I used the horse for several months all through the winter season, and by the time the spring had arrived, and when Mr. Buttars wanted his horse back, the horse had lost much of its body weight. It was just very skinny and looking very poorly, but it still had its spirit and loved to go out and run and be a very useful horse. I think Dad lost a friend when he returned that horse to its owner in much poorer condition than it was when he had taken it.

 

Commitment to Work

I continued with the paper route until my junior year in high school and it was my only source of money. I was surprised to hear at an eighth-grade class reunion that several of the other kids were quite envious of me because I had some money that would come from that paper route. They were more than happy to help me spend it and ask me to buy some candy or other things. That made me kind of a popular friend among some of the boys because money was very scarce in those times. Finally, in my junior year in high school a decision was made that I could stop the paper route. I didn’t make much of a financial success out of that thing. I had several new bicycles, but when I finally gave it up I still owed some money to the Herald Journal. I don’t remember how I worked that out, but I really enjoyed my elementary years.

 

Mr. Vance Walker

One of my favorite teachers was Vance Walker. He was responsible for my interest in and love of history and politics. When my mom went to him during a parent teacher night, Vance Walker said some very complimentary things about me to mother. A comment that I remember was that he had told her that I was smart enough that I could do anything in this life that I made up my mind to do. That really gave me a wonderful feeling about him and myself, as someone who had the ability to accomplish whatever I needed to do.


There are other significant memories of my childhood and elementary grades, but most of it was positive and I had a good feeling about school.

 

Teasing Gwen

I did some things to Gwen that I’m certainly not proud of. I am ashamed that I teased her unmercifully as I was a kid growing up. I could have been a better brother in many ways.

 

Our First Radio

It was during my elementary and high school years that we got our first radio in our home, and so we lived a great deal by the radio. I loved the radio very much and would listen to many programs. My dad had remodeled our home and added on to it in 1937, so we had lived in this new home for about four years before the war. My little sister, Merle Jean, was born on December 29 in 1937 so our family was complete.

Chapter 3: High School

Public School System

In the school system that I grew up with we had an eight-year elementary school and then a four-year high school. The high school included the ninth, tenth, eleventh, and twelfth grades. The principle of the high school was H. R. Adams. He lived in Hyrum in the Third Ward. South Cache High School was on the west side of Hyrum. It included not only Hyrum, but all the south end of Cache Valley. Kids from Mendon, Wellsville, Paradise, Millville, Nibley, and Providence all came to the one high school. Most of those kids would ride the U & I (Utah and Idaho Electric Railroad) which was primarily a passenger railway. They would get off of the train about a block to the north of the high school.

 

Friends in High School

My friends, when I was a freshman and sophomore in high school, were mostly boys from the Hyrum First Ward. Some of them were not the best examples. One of my good friends was Mervin Jensen and he had no interest or inclination to go to school. If he could find any excuse, he would skip. He was a bad influence on me because sometimes I would skip with him—“sluffing” it was called. Mervin’s dad died about the time we were in high school, so his mother was left a widow. She worked in Logan at a knitting mill. There was no one at home that was responsible, so Mervin would find it easy to skip school and find something else to do. Once in a while I would go along with him. So my high school experience did not start out very well.


Gradually my friendship with some of those First Ward boys kind of diminished and I became a better friend to some of the people in the Second Ward, the ward where I grew up. I developed quite a friendship with Clyde Olsen. He was the same age, but he was quite a bit smaller than I was. We were in the same class.

 

Auto Body Work

My junior year my dad got me a job at an auto body shop sanding cars down for $18.75 a week. I didn’t do any mechanical work; the job just required muscle to rub down the cars. We used a rubbing compound or some sort to aid in removing the oxidized paint. After I had worked there for several months and became quite skilled at my duties, the owner decided he needed another worker to assist me. He hired an older guy to do the exact same work as me but he paid him $35 a week! I remember being troubled that this new worker got paid almost twice as much as me without any of the experience that I had. I spoke with the owner, to which he replied, “Bob, older people always get paid more than youngsters.” That logic did not make a whole lot of sense to me at that time.

 

New Teeth and Confidence

I worked for Cal-Pack (California Packing Company) during the summer break. They had a pea viner for processing peas and a bean factory in Hyrum. I worked at both of those places in the summer time. I got enough money then so I could afford to do a few things that I needed to. The summer before my senior year started I worked at the bean factory and saved up some money. So I decided that I would get my teeth fixed. My teeth were very decayed in the front, and I was very sensitive about the way I looked.


While I was in the first year or two of high school, one of dad’s sisters, Aunt Flora and her husband Vene Jacobson, moved back to Hyrum and lived with Grandma Allen. Grandma Allen lived across the road. Aunt Flora had several kids. One of the girls was the same age as I was and she had very bad teeth too. So I didn’t really feel like I was picked on for my bad teeth because it was quite common to see kids with decayed teeth, simply because they couldn’t afford to get them repaired.


Our local dentist in Hyrum was Joe Wright. I went to him and told him that I wanted to get my teeth fixed. I made the arrangement and I had the income so during that summer I had all my back teeth pulled out on the uppers. About a month before school started he had made me a new upper plate. I had the rest of my teeth pulled out and a new upper plate of false teeth was put into my mouth. By the time school started, I was fairly well adjusted to those teeth.

Senior Class President


Right after school started we were having the class elections and one of my First Ward friends, Reid Olsen, stood up and nominated me to be the senior class president. Well, I had never been involved in student government at all. I was a nobody like most of the kids are in school. But, by golly, the nobodys voted for me, and I was elected the senior class president! That helped me come out of my shell. Plus, I had these new teeth in my mouth that I had got a little bit acquainted with, so I didn’t have the humiliation of having bad teeth.

 

Debate Class

During my senior year I took an English class from V. R. Carver. He was primarily an English teacher, but he also taught debate. He saw in me some potential to be a good debater. That year we were debating the proposition that the draft should be included as a part of our national policy so that we would have an adequate force of military men. When I was a senior in high school World War II was still on. It started in 1941, and that was about the time I was a freshman in high school. The war did not end until 1946 so that was a very interesting topic because without the draft to get men into the military service there was not adequate man-power to staff the army, navy, and the other forces necessary to carry on the war. I was assigned to work with my second cousin, Thayer Allen, for the year. He was kind of a self-confident, athletic type guy. Mr. Carver always gave me a lot of encouragement and gave me the feeling that I could speak and think on my feet. I developed a lot through my debating experience.


I had an interesting experience during a debate meet held at Utah State University. As a part of that debate meet they had an extemporaneous speaking competition. The subject was a particular issue of the Reader’s Digest magazine. All of us that signed up to participate knew that that would be the topic. I had just happened to find an article about Lyla Wallace when I was reviewing that addition of the Reader’s Digest. Lyla’s husband was the founder of the Reader’s Digest magazine. He started the magazine while he was in the military. He was injured in France. A lot of magazines were being published, so he started making a condensed magazine of the best articles that he could find in other magazines. I had that article and knew something of the history, so my extemporaneous speech had to do with this background information. As a result, I was very fortunate to be chosen the winner of that extemp-speaking competition at Utah State University. There were about five or six high schools that were participating, so that was a real boost to my ego. My debate team went to the state competition. We were eliminated quite early from the competition. We went to the state finals and another debate meet at Weber State College in Ogden. We didn’t get very far on the debate basis, but we still enjoyed the experience as far as standing on our feet and thinking and expressing ourselves. Much of my desire to do these things came from that experience.

 

Football Season: Coach Clifford Pool

The coach of the high school football team was Clifford Pool. He wanted me to play football because I was a large boy. But, as long as I had that paper route I couldn’t take the time to play football. But as I mentioned previously, we decided (I think it was my decision mainly, but my parents acquiesced in that decision) that I give up the paper route before my senior year of high school. Having given up the paper route, I consented to Coach Pool that I would play football.


I enjoyed my football experience during my senior year in high school. In those days they had programs like they do now that list all the players. At that time I weighed 215 pounds, which was large for a high school senior. All the rest of the teammates were less than 200 pounds. Coach Pool decided they would list my weight at 195, so it wouldn’t appear that I had any particular advantage.


I wasn’t a particularly good player. I played the right tackle position and I made several mistakes in critical games that seemed to me to make a difference in the outcome of the game. But we still had a wonderful season, and we ended up in second place in our region and started in the state playoffs.


That was a wonderful self-confidence building experience for me, and I’ve had quite an interest in football ever since. The real mementoes of my football experience had to do with injuring a knee that’s still bad to this day and an enlarged thumb on my thumb knuckle on my right hand. While neither one of those have been great problems for me, they’re still some of the little mementoes that I’ve carried from that football experience.

 

Dating

Even though I was the class president I did almost no dating in high school. I was once invited to a school dance by Gayla Fuhrman from Providence. She invited me to be her escort. I never responded very well to her.

 

Prisoners of War and a Ring

During my high school experience the Second World War was on. The Second Street Depot in Ogden was a military supply depot where military things were stored, mostly clothing and vehicles. There wasn’t a lot of armament, but there were all of the other necessary things for military forces. Because they needed a lot of help to load and unload box cars and things like that, they had a program where the juniors and seniors in high school could work on Saturdays and some Sundays if they chose to. In those days it was pretty good pay, so, being a big kid, I went to Second Street several times during that senior year of high school while the war was still on. They had some prisoners of war who had been brought from Europe back to the United States to work. There were both German and Italian prisoners that worked there and some of these Italian prisoners of war were quite skilled in the making of jewelry. They would take a silver dollar and make a silver ring out of the metal in the dollar. They would decorate it and put your initials on it.


I had a ring made with my initials, “R. A.,” on it. I can’t remember what it cost me, but I was very proud of that ring and I was happy to have it. One day one of the girls in high school wanted to look at it—a girl by the name of Marie Walker, who is now deceased. She took it and would never give it back to me. I used to wear it on my little finger and I guess she was wanting to make points with me. I tried and tried to get her to give it back to me, but she never would and I didn’t like that very much. But she was a good person and I guess she wanted me to be her boyfriend. She wanted to wear my ring even though I never did date her.

 

Reunions

Ever since 1946 we’ve had high school reunions. In the last few years we’ve had our fiftieth, fifty-first, and fifty-second annual reunions. I was in charge of some of our school reunions to start with, then I got the ball moving on the fiftieth reunion because a lot of other classmates expected it. One of our classmates, Boyd Maughan, kind of took over. He located all the living class members and since then, he and others that worked on the reunion enjoyed that fiftieth year reunion so much that they have continued every year since the fiftieth year which would have been 1996.

 

The Draft

When some of my friends, including Clyde and many in our senior class, turned seventeen they were eligible for enlistment in the services and some of them did not stay around to graduate from high school. They felt like they wanted to enlist, especially some of those that didn’t do too well in school. I didn’t have any inclination in that direction, but Clyde Olsen was one who enlisted in the Marine Corps. Ten or fifteen other boys from our graduating class of about one hundred and seventy students enlisted in different branches of the military.

 

Pearl Harbor

One of the great events of my life during the years I was in high school was the beginning of World War II. December 7, 1941, was the day the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor and brought the United States into the war. I was walking home from church in the old Second Ward church house that day down to our home where we lived at 365 East Main. Somebody went by in a car and called out that the Japanese had attacked Pearl Harbor.

 

World War II

The start of World War II and the great feeling of depression and agony that comes from war was like a great cloud that hung over all of our lives. We would listen every night to the radio.1 Gabriel Heater was one of the commentators and he had a phrase that he would use: “There’s good news tonight,” or “There’s bad news tonight,” and then he would give his commentary about the events of the day and the war effort and what had taken place. We had no television of course and when we went to the movies they would have some news reels where we could see some things about the war. We did have the newspaper but the news was slow in getting to us. It was interesting to look at the soldiers leaving their families, and the joy they receive when they returned home.


One of the great principles that the Book of Mormon teaches very clearly is that we have to be willing to stand up to aggression. I heard a guy talking on the radio recently who said that America no longer has the will to fight. They want peace at any price. Appeasers. America is fast becoming a society of peace demonstrators. Peace is important, but standing up to defend truth and freedom is the foundation for peace to exist.


I actually feel guilty about not serving in the military. During the Korean War I didn’t want to be drafted because I was in love with Norine. I still read the obituaries today about the people who served in the military and something about their lives make me see them as more noble. Because I have felt a little bit guilty because I didn’t serve, I have tried to convince others to serve in the military. The military is only a bad experience if we’re worldly. It is not a bad experience if we’re spiritual and we’re willing to live up to high principles. Captain Moroni called Pahoran to repentance trying to call him to task. I think that is the whole reason that Mormon named his son Moroni, because of his standing up for liberty and defending families and communities. I don’t feel bad about my life. I feel like we’ve been blessed way beyond our worthiness. But I do feel a little bit like I did not do my share of the military obligations.

 

Claron Draft and Marriage

My brother Claron (he had quit high school) started his work at the Elison’s market as I mentioned before and then he decided that he needed to improve his skills so he took a course at Utah State University in sheet metal work. He got a job in Ogden working at Hill field in sheet metal where they were working on the repair and maintenance of aircraft.


There was instituted a draft system to take people into the military service. Local draft boards2 were established and of course, all of the boys and men of eligible age had to register. Unless they were in some critical industry they would have to go into the service. Claron got a little deferment because of his job at Hill field, but it wasn’t good enough that he could maintain that deferment, so he was drafted.


I remember the feeling that came into our home and family when he was drafted into the army. While Claron was working at Hill field he met and fell in love with Nora Ward from Bloomington, Idaho. She was living there with her sister and he decided he was going to get married before he went into the service. She agreed and they got married.


When the draftees would depart from Cache Valley they would all come to Logan and get on the UIC train going to Salt Lake City. There would be fifty to one hundred young men drafted several times a year. When the young men were due to report, there would usually be a high school band performing. The parents would gather to say goodbye to their loved ones and a lot of tears were shed. The great news of the war was very important and I remember my grieving mother fearing that she would never see her son again and that he would end up being killed in the war.


Claron finished his basic training and then he was sent to a military school in Biloxi Mississippi. Nora went down there to live off base so Claron could get off at night and be with her, his new wife.


Claron Kicked in the Ear

One day while Claron and Nora were stationed in Mississippi they happened to be swimming in the Gulf of Mexico. Claron got kicked in the ear by one of the people they were swimming with which broke his ear drum causing him to not qualify for the air force training that he was taking. As a result of that, he was discharged from the army, came back to Utah and got a job at Hill field. Claron resumed his position doing sheet metal work on airplanes but quickly became dissatisfied with his job. It was at this time that Claron began to look around for another job. It was his looking around that ultimately got us three brothers—Claron, Douglas and I—interested in farming.


Endnotes

1 It was during my elementary and high school years that we got our first radio in our home, and so we lived a great deal by the radio. I loved the radio very much and would listen to many programs.

2 According to the War Powers Act passed by congress, draft boards were created on the local level. Data was collected and supplied to the draft boards regarding the age, marital status, health, and occupation of young men. Draftees were then chosen by matching qualified men to criteria needed by the military. 

Chapter 4: Farming

Three Farmers in the Making

It was about the time that I graduated from high school that Claron had been talking to Genie Peterson1 in Hyrum. Genie and his bother Willard owned a lot of land out in Box Elder County and they wanted to get this land into dry farming activity. They had purchased much of this land for very cheap during the depression when many people could not pay their property taxes. Genie and Willard would go in, pay their taxes, and buy the property.  These stories caused Claron to want to get started on something different that had a little bit more potential.


Douglas had got deferment all through the war years. He graduated from Utah State as a Civil Engineer and then he worked for the Utah State Road Commission for a time. When the war came along Douglas got a job working on the building of a steel mill near Orem. After the steel mill was completed he got a job working for the steel company. Because of these jobs he was able to obtain deferment from military service.


Later, Douglas married Ruth Hanks and they had a three children: David, Stanley, and Carol Ann. They bought a home there in Provo and were doing quite well. At that time Claron and Nora had two children: Janice and Joanne. Claron wanted to investigate this farming activity along with Doug and Dad. I was also interested in it, but was just out of high school. So we had the potential but almost no money.

 

Why Farming?

Now there were several families in Hyrum that had been dry farmers in the Blue Creek area for a number of years. The farmers all seemed to be fairly prosperous so we thought that farming would be a good opportunity. In addition to Claron, Doug was ready to change his occupation as well. So it was in the spring of 1946, just one or two days after I graduated from high school, that we leased the property from Genie Peterson and started breaking up the land.


Genie had a used sheep camp2 that we took out to live in for the first year we farmed. It had no wheels under it; it was just the camp part. We pulled it up on a hill out there in lower Hansel Valley where this property was located and parked it under a juniper tree. We then proceeded to start breaking up the land.

 

First Tractor and a lot of Sagebrush

We bought a D-6 Cat tractor3 from Genie Peterson. We leased from him what ultimately was about 6,000 acres of sagebrush. Our plan was to break up that land out of sagebrush and put it into farming. Initially we had no decent equipment for the tractor, but we were able to obtain a disk harrow4 from the Chevrolet garage in Logan. It was called an Evans plow and it was about a 12-feet wide plow. The disk harrow was not built for sagebrush, it broke down often, but at least it was something to work over that sagebrush on all this land out west.

 

First Planting

During our first year of farming in 1946, we got a little financing from the Farmer’s Home Administration. To get started, dad offered his house as part of the security for the loan and so we went out there to start breaking up this land.


Now there was only enough room in the sheep camp for two to sleep but there were three of us. So this meant that somebody was on the tractor all night. The night shift was the better shift because the heat was more bearable. That first summer of 1946 we had broken up about 1200 acres of land, cleaning it off well enough from the sagebrush that we could plant seed. We bought some wheat seed from Howard Glen who was a dry farmer across the valley. So after we got this land ready we planted about 1200 acres of wheat.

 

First Farm House

We had no crop to harvest that first year because we planted in the fall and would harvest the next summer. There was no water out there so we got a few milk cans and put a tap spout on one of them so we could haul out some water. The second year we were there we got some military boxes that were used to haul water. These boxes were about twenty-feet long, eight feet wide, and eight feet high. These were very sturdy, wooden boxes. We were able to buy them at surplus down at Second Street. We bought two of them to start with, then two more later that we used as grain-dumping bins. With these boxes we were able to make something that resembled a place to live. We bought a used generator from the Zollinger brothers who farmed up in Hansel Valley. So we had a little electric generator out there on the farm that we could crank up to have lights in the evening. We got a gas refrigerator and put it in the military box that we used as a kind of cook house. In that box there was room enough for one bed. In the other box we had a bed for others to sleep in, so we had some resemblance of living conditions. During harvest time, each of the wives took turns coming out to the farm to help cook for us. The wife would sleep in this other bed.

 

Mosquitoes and Barbed Wire Fences

The one thing that was bad about that area was that there were an awful lot of mosquitoes. There were little fresh water springs down around the edges of the Great Salt Lake and the mosquitoes were so thick that you couldn’t even breathe. To continue working, we had to make bee hats to keep the mosquitoes out of our face, mouth, and ears.


Part of our agreement with Genie was that we were to fence all of this territory. Genie furnished the fencing materials and each year we would build one or two miles of fence. I think all together we probably built six to eight miles of fence. We put three rows of barbed wire on because we were in an area where it was open range, and the Homegreens,5 a neighboring rancher, owned a lot of livestock. If we were going to keep the livestock off of our wheat, we had to put up the fence to prevent them from grazing on it. So, an awful lot of work went into that.

 

First Harvest

In 1947, we had our first harvest. The wheat actually looked pretty good. We got it planted in the fall of 1946, and we brought some drills to do the planting with—double disc drills, Oliver brand—and the wheat looked fairly good. At harvest we had purchased a John Deere side-hill combine with a twenty foot cutter bar that was pulled with the D-6 tractor. We started harvesting that crop of wheat when we realized we had to get a dump truck. We got a small Dodge military truck and built a box on it that would hold 90 bushels of wheat. The combine bin would hold about 90 bushels, and so we would dump into that box then take it up and dump into the big boxes on the side hill.

 

Crutches, Court, and Sleep-driving

We also bought a K-7 International truck and built a grain bed on it. We would load the K-7 truck out of these two side hill boxes and then we would haul the wheat to Ogden. With this K-7 we would haul about two to three hundred bushels at a time. We took turns delivering the grain to the Farmer’s Grain Co-Op in Ogden. We delivered to the big elevators with the cylinder storage bins that you can still see south of Ogden. Claron was the main driver, but every once in a while I drove.


I remember one situation as I was driving over a bypass and getting ready to turn on to the exit ramp to go to the Farmers Co-Op. A driver put his arm out but failed to make the proper signal for a left hand turn and turned directly into our truck. The impact pushed him directly off the road.


He tried to sue on the grounds of permanent disability. So our insurance went to court against hi $100,000 claim. He came into the court room on crutches, barely able to move. What he did not know was that our insurance company sent investigators to follow him in the previous weeks before the court hearing. The investigators took pictures as he stopped his truck, jumped out, and shoveled dirt. Well, the insurance investigators showed their evidence in our defense and the judge threw out the lawsuit out. That was quite a dramatic event for all of us.


The year after that fraudulent claim, I had another interesting experience with the K-7 truck. Because the Co-Op was open until midnight or later, I made a late delivery and was coming home. While driving, I was unconscious for about five minutes. I was sleep-driving for about five or six miles! I don’t know who was driving the truck for me, but I didn’t hit anyone and I kept driving.

 

Sabbath Day Work No More

At this time one significant thing happened when the financial pressure was very great, having gone a year and a half with no income. By the first week of August we were about half way through harvest and all was going pretty well. The crop looked pretty good, and so with our new combine we decided that we might try harvesting on Sunday. The  Saturday afternoon preceding the Sunday we intended to work, we had a breakdown on the combine. Even though the combine was new, it broke down. It was surely not the kind of combine that we have nowadays; it had constant break downs problems. So we decided because the breakdown of that combine took us all day Monday to get the parts and repairs made, that we would not plan on doing any further harvesting on Sunday. We needed that Sabbath day to be at home with our families and worship the Lord as was expected of us.

 

A Storm and the Priesthood

One event that was really significant to me occurred during the first harvest year. I’ve never shared this experience openly with people. I had been ordained an Elder right about this time, and felt deeply about receiving the Melchizedek priesthood. One night as we finished our harvest work, a cloud came up behind Monument Mountain. After dark it just started raining and hailing. Suddenly a very violent thunder burst right over the farm. We all were so filled with anxiety that I’ll never forget the moment that I stood there in that bedroom box of ours, feeling and hearing the sound of that storm raging. I prayed with all my heart to the Lord that He would stop this. I even went so far as to say, “By the power of the holy priesthood, I command the elements to stop this destruction.” In the space of a few minutes, that storm had stopped.


In the morning we looked around and water had run down into a big wash6 that was several feet deep. The wash from the storm had completely filled the dirt ramp7 that we had excavated underneath the boxes for loading the grain into the trucks. We had to dig all that mud out before we could continue handling the grain. The next year we moved the grain boxes up higher on the hill so that if another flood took place we wouldn’t have to put up with that again.

 

At that time I felt that the elements themselves had responded to the power of prayer and the priesthood that was in the hands of this nineteen-year-old boy as he stood there witnessing the power of nature destroying the efforts of the year. I don’t know for sure whether it was the correct thing to do or not, but at the time I had the conviction and feeling that indeed the Lord heard and granted the request that I had made of him.


Endnotes

1 His full name was Eugene Peterson.

2 The term “sheep camp” would nowadays be called a camper. It was wooden box ten feet long and six feet wide with bowed arches covered by canvas ceilings that would fit on a four wheel wagon. On this wagon there was a stove, a bed for one or two people to sleep in, and the bare essentials for living. These sheep camps were originally pulled around by horses from one area to another as the sheep grazed the land.

3 This was a miserable tractor. It had no cab and it eventually got so hot that we had to cover the driver with an umbrella during the day. The 100 degree sun combined with the 200 degree tractor, almost fried the driver. The tractor had to be started by pulling a rope that would act as a crank. I think I pulled the starting rope 100,000 times to get it started.

4 A light weight plow.

5 Homegreen Land and Livestock

6 A wash is a deep river-like-path through farm land created by runoff rain water. These runoff paths are dry all the time except during a thunderstorm.

7 This hole was a more or less a decline ramp that we dug out of the ground. In those days hydraulics were nonexistent, so we had to find a way to position the bed of the truck at the same level of the base of the military box holding the grain. The ramp allowed the truck to be backed up so the grain could be put on the truck.

Chapter 5: Mission Experience

Mission Call

We had another year of farming in 1948 and by the summer of 1948 I had a desire to serve a mission. Doug and Claron told me, “If that’s what you want to do, we’ll back you up and we’ll see that the farm work is taken care of while you’re gone.” With their support, I processed my papers and had my interviews with Bishop Levi J. Anderson. He was a man that really loved me. I was in his Priest Quorum and he always gave me the feeling that he cared a great deal about me. It was shortly thereafter that I received a call to serve in the Northern California Mission.

 

Farewell and the Missionary Training Center

My mission experience began in October of 1948. I embarrassed myself a little bit in my farewell talk. My emotions kind of overcame me and I couldn’t speak so I didn’t say much of anything. To make it worse, my friends saw the whole thing.


After my farewell I went to the mission home that was then in Salt Lake City. There were some houses that we stayed in that were on the same block where the Church Office Building is now located on Main Street.  Our meetings were held in the old Deseret Gym building where they had kind of an amphitheater right behind the Hotel Utah.


We had ten days that we spent in the mission home. The first week that I was in Salt Lake, different General Authorities would come in and speak to us all day long at the mission home. I enjoyed their instruction as we sat at the feet of the General Authorities and they taught us wonderful things. I remember one talk in particular by Frederick Babbel who talked to us for a couple of hours. He had gone with President Benson after the end of World War II to check out the conditions of the saints that were in Germany and the other European nations. He gave a very powerful and moving testimony of Elder Benson’s efforts to get help to the saints that were in Europe. I think he’s since written a book that contains all of those experiences.

 

Home on the Weekends

In those days we were able leave the Missionary Training Center on the weekends so I came back to Hyrum on Sunday and went to church in Hyrum Second Ward. I remember when Bishop Anderson called on me to make a few remarks. I was so filled with the Spirit that I wished I had given that same talk at my farewell! At that time the Spirit really bore witness to me with great power that the Lord had indeed called me to serve in California.


I remember a faith promoting experience on the Sunday night after that sacrament meeting. Having been so touched by the Spirit there and the fervent testimony that I had born in Sacrament meeting, I had an experience which was to be repeated many times in my life that dealt with the hymns of the Church. On that particular night a hymn touched me in a very special way. The hymn, “I Need Thee Every Hour,” was going through my mind. The words of that song repeating over and over, “I need thee; oh, I need thee. Every hour I need thee. Bless me now my Savior, I come to thee.” This was the sacred feeling I had that night as I was on the verge of this great missionary experience. Whenever I hear that song I return to that same great spiritual witness that I had in October of 1948 as I was about to leave on my mission.


It was in the middle of the following week that I went back to the mission home to attend the temple for the first time in Salt Lake City, and receive my endowment. I had a wonderful experience.

 

Arrival in California

After going to the temple, we went by train from Salt Lake City to Oakland on an overnight train that didn’t have a sleeper. We sat up in the train all night trying to get a little sleep to little success, but fortunately we arrived in Oakland the early part of the next day. I think it took us about 12 to 13 hours to get down there.


When I got off the train I had two suitcases, one that was too big and one that was not too big. We had to walk from the end of the train down to the pier. It seemed like it was about a five-mile walk (I’m sure it wasn’t that long but it still was a long walk.) Then we got on a ferry boat that took us across the Oakland Bay. We landed on the San Francisco side and by that time it was the afternoon. There were several of us missionaries together and no one was there to meet us so we found a telephone and the address of the mission home that was up on Buena Vista Way, just off Buena Vista Park in San Francisco. One of the elders called and told the office missionaries we were waiting down by the ferry so it wasn’t until then that they sent some cars down and took us up to the mission home. We spent the remainder of the day there at the mission home and met with our mission president, German E. Ellsworth.

 

First Assignment – Eureka, California

Later that night they divided the incoming missionaries up and I was taken back down to the bus depot where I got on a Greyhound bus headed toward Eureka, California. I went alone because I was the only missionary going to Eureka. Eureka is across the Golden Gate Bridge and then north of San Francisco for six to eight hours on the bus. I think I got on that bus close to midnight and as we wound up through the Redwoods I got very sick. Back in those days they had a tree so large that they cut out a portion so a car could drive through. Some of these trees were 18 feet in diameter. They had beautiful red wood forests all throughout the national parks. It was about 6 o’clock in the morning when I arrived in Eureka, California and there Elder Wittaker and another missionary were there to meet me. We walked from there up to where our apartment was another mile or so.


We had one apartment in the city of Eureka. It was in Sister Smith’s house and the missionaries had the entire upper floor of that house. There were two bedrooms and a front room, a kitchen and bathroom. There were four missionaries there at the time. I was assigned to be a companion to Elder Wittaker, who had another month or two to serve on his mission. Elder Whittaker was serving as the district president.1

 

Alice Thurber: A Golden Experience

I had a very remarkable spiritual experience quite soon after arriving in Eureka. Elder Wittaker and I were out tracting in the southwest part of the town. We were tracting on Idaho Street on the outskirts of the town of Eureka where there were not too many houses. We went down a street that was about three or four blocks long. As we got to the end of that street, we knocked on the door. A very little, fragile lady came to the door. She was old and very sickly. We introduced ourselves and told her that we had a message for her. We gave her a Book of Mormon and made an appointment to come back later. A quite good friend to that lady was an Indian lady next door, who lived in the last house on the block. She also listened to us and allowed for us to make an appointment to come back. This proved to be a very golden experience.


The first lady’s name was Alice Thurber. She was sixty-nine years old and she had an asthmatic condition that was very bad and so she was very, very feeble. We worked with her for about a month until Elder Wittaker went home. Then I continued with my next companion, Elder Tinsmeyer (who was new in the mission field).


Sister Thurber was very receptive. She had a difficult time reading the Book of Mormon, but she seemed to believe anything we told her as being true. One night as we finished our meeting with her she said, “I’ve had a dream I want to tell you about.” She proceeded to describe the room where the baptismal font was in the Eureka chapel. The odd thing was that the chapel was not quite finished, yet she described the room as it would later appear. She said she went into that room and she saw me standing in the water dressed in white clothes and I beckoned for her to come. She came over and went down the steps into the baptismal font and I baptized her in the water. She said when she came out of the water, it was like the sun had come out from behind the clouds and there was a bright light up above her head. She said, “Elder Allen, does that mean I’m ready to be baptized?” It was shortly thereafter we were able to baptize her into the Church. She was very accepting of everything.


Alice Thurber was a person that often saw the missionaries throughout her life. She said they looked like a picture painted by God—the missionaries always looked like they were hovering over the ground.


It was after her baptism on another occasion when we were visiting her that she said she said she had something else she wanted to tell us about her conversion experience. She said, “Did you ever wonder why I acted so funny when you first knocked on my door?” I said, “Well, I didn’t know because it was obvious that you weren’t feeling quite well.” She then proceeded to tell me of the experience that she had back in 1928 when she was living in San Diego.


In January of 1928 she arrived in San Diego and found a job working in a café on the outskirts of the town. She worked way before daylight and on one particular day she was in the kitchen getting ready for the day’s business, peeling some potatoes in the sink. As she was peeling these potatoes she slipped and cut her hand quite badly right below her wrist. As it bled she was standing there just holding her hand and trying to decide what she should do to stop the wound from bleeding. While deep in thought she looked up at the window that was right above the sink and saw a face looking at her. She said her first feeling was one of fear, of this face looking at her through the window. She said that for full a minute that person stood there looking at her!
Alice continued her story by saying she had forgotten completely about that unsettling experience until the day that I stood on her doorstep tracting. She said, “The person that was standing outside of that window was you, Elder Allen.”


I’m quick to mention that she said this experience occurred in January of 1928. Now she didn’t know when I was born, but I was born in April of 1928. As she described this thing to me, I felt the chills going up and down my back and goose bumps on my goose bumps. The convincing part was that Alice had no reason to make this story up. She said, “When I first saw you my first feeling was one of terror; and I wondered, what does this mean? But as you continued to teach and the truths of the gospel became apparent to me, I knew that you were someone who was sent by God to bring me the message of the gospel.”


Well, a marvelous transition took place in that little lady’s life. She was literally born again at the time of her baptism and these other experiences. We administered to her two or three times while teaching her and resultantly her asthmatic condition seemed to clear up and the vigor of youth started back into her system. Even her hair even started to darken in color. It had been snow white and all of a sudden the roots of her hair started to look dark and she was just so pleased and happy.


But the important thing to me was the experience the Lord gave me to let me know that indeed I had been called by Him. The perfect placement of events proves the Lord’s hand in this process. I was separated out of the group of 12 or 13 that went to California and I was the only missionary sent to Eureka, California. While with my very first companion and on the very first street I started tracting on, I found this person that gave me the witness that indeed God had called me to serve this mission and that I was doing what He wanted me to do. All of this was a marvelous witness to me that indeed I had been called by Him to serve where I was serving and that all of these things could work together and bring to pass this miraculous event in my life.
It is part of my continuing witness that all of us are on a mission here, and we have certain things to do in this life. If we will yield ourselves to the Lord and indicate to Him that we indeed are willing to do what He wants us to do, then He will lead us to such beautiful experiences.

 

Pesticide Pants

One difficulty for many missionaries in Eureka was the amount of fleas in that area. This was a bad thing for some of them. The fleas would live in the bushes and jump on your pant legs when you walked by them. If you got a flea, it would bite you every two or three inches leaving very itchy welts at every bite mark. I built up immunity to those insects during my time as a dry farmer with so many mosquitoes and other bugs. So for me, the fleas would bite, but the bites didn’t swell up and itch. Even to this day if I get a bite, it doesn’t swell. However, there were some missionaries that really wished they had my body’s response. I had one companion that was very allergic to fleas. He became so terrified of those insects that he put DDT, a very strong insecticide, in the cuff of his pants. If fleas came anywhere near his pant leg, they were surely dead. Since then that pesticide has been outlawed for commercial and home use, and probably for pant cuffs as well.

 

Twelve Suit Robbins

Now this elder was Elder Robbins. He had difficulty with obeying the mission rules. He was transferred up to the Redwood District. Elder Tinsmeyer, who had been my companion, had been made the district president so he assigned me to work with Elder Robbins. Well, Elder Robbins owned a motor scooter. The mission president told him to get rid of the motor scooter and transfer to Eureka. He didn’t get rid of his motor scooter. And he had his bags all packed and he was on his way up on his scooter and his scooter died. One of our contacts that we were teaching, Elder Tinsmeyer and I, saw this boy out on the highway. They knew he was a missionary by the way he was dressed. He drove a truck so he stopped and picked him up and drove him into Eureka.


Elder Robbins’s nickname was “Twelve Suit Robbins”. Every time he would leave, he’d have at least one camera around his neck, with a light meter directly to the side of it, and he was always taking pictures.


Some of the missionaries were quite critical of Elder Robbins. And he did have his problems. But I found out he had been a bombardier during World War II. He had flown his full quota of missions over Italy. And he had a psychological break down—he could not stand the pressure. So he was hospitalized for many months before he was sent home. They finally sent him home and discharged him. He looked alright, but the trauma from the wartime experience was very difficult for him. After I knew what he had gone through, I was not nearly as critical of him. He didn’t adapt well to missionary life and he had many problems, but there was a reason for it.

 

My Mission Car

I had another wonderful experience while in Eureka, California. My third companion, Elder Brinton, came to Eureka after I had been there for some time. While serving together we met Brother Hodges, a wonderful member of the Church. Brother Hodges lived on a ranch about 30 miles south of Eureka in Garberville, California. Garberville is located on Highway 101 and Brother Hodges ranch was on the top of some big hills up there. He had a sheep ranch and remained a devoted member of the church. Every five or six years he would ask the missionaries to come out to his ranch and live there while tracting all of his neighbors that were in that area. Brother Hodges lived near several small mountain towns so the offer sounded like a good idea. The only problem was transportation. How were we supposed to get to Brother Hodges ranch and how were we supposed to get from mountain town to mountain town?


Well, before I went on a mission I got my first paycheck from our farm operation and bought an automobile. I went to Salt Lake and found a 1940 Chevrolet, a two-door sedan with the papers still in the car from when it was new. It cost $595 brand new and when I bought it in 1947 I paid $1150 for it. I paid twice as much as it cost when it was brand new! This was right at the end of World War II so because of all the war years in between, the car to rose in value. I got driving that car home and all the sudden it threw a rod and it started clanking. We towed it back to Salt Lake City and the dealer that sold it to me made the necessary repairs so the engine was pretty good. When I went in the mission field I left the car at home.


One of the other two missionaries that lived in our Eureka apartment was Elder Craven. Elder Craven, who had been the mission secretary, was not afraid of President Ellsworth and was determined to help Elder Brinton and me. He wrote a letter to President Ellsworth indicating that I had a car at home and asked him if it would be all right if my family brought the car out so we could have the transportation that we would need to go and fill that assignment.


To all of our delight, President Ellsworth consented to that arrangement. So I had Claron, Nora and Mom bring my car to the mission field. They drove two cars out to California, left my car with me, and then drove back in Claron’s car.2 So we used that automobile to go up there in the hills.

 

Teaching Seventh Day Adventists

Elder Brinton and I went out and we tracted all of Brother Hodges neighbors. While tracting we had an interesting little experience. There was a little Seventh Day Adventist community that was about four or five miles away from where the Hodges’s ranch was located. These people had separated their families from the world so not to be influenced or pushed around. There was no snow in that country, so they grazed their sheep and worked in the logging industry.


As we began tracting there one day and started talking to the people we learned that these were a very devout and humble people. The people were very gracious to us and said they would be glad to meet with us providing that their Elder, the presiding church officer in their community, could also attend. So that evening we came back when the men were through with their work (they worked in the lumber mill around there) and they agreed that we would have the chance to speak first. We presented the story of the restoration and Joseph’s Smith’s witness as to what he had done in restoring the gospel to the earth. We took about the first thirty minutes and concluded by bearing our testimonies. They listened very courteously and when we had finished our presentation, the presiding Elder, who was Greek, brought out his Greek translation of the Bible. I still remember how he would try to discount things we said by saying, “But in the Greek translation it says . . . .” He proceeded to try to convince us how wrong we were and how right they were, and how the gospel was all about the day of the Sabbath. His presentation, although opposing, was polite and respectful.


The discussion ended and I think we both remained convinced of our beliefs. However, that experience did help increase my awareness of other cultures and belief systems as well as increase my confidence in teaching.

 

Converted by the Mormon Tabernacle Choir

There was another family that lived close by the Hodges’s ranch. They ran a local store in the mountain town of Fort Seward near the railroad track which was a considerable distance away from the highway. This family, the Eldridge family, had been listening to the Tabernacle Choir broadcast for years and had written to Salt Lake asking for more information about the Church. The father was named Joe, the mother Lois, and they had two little children. They were given some general information and given the address of the missionaries in Eureka. Our first interaction with the Eldridge family occurred one day when they came into Eureka with a whole carload of groceries they bought for us! I’ve still got a photograph of all the $100 or $150 worth of groceries that they bought and gave to the missionaries.


I remember this one particular Sunday before they made their decision to join the church. We were teaching them about the Law of Consecration as stated in the Doctrine and Covenants. Brother Eldridge said, “To me, this is what the gospel of Jesus Christ is all about. When a man can take everything he’s accumulated throughout his life and place it on the alter and say, Lord here it is, I will give everything I have to the building of the Kingdom.” He said, “This sounds like the true Church to me.”


And these people were baptized into the Church and were just wonderful, wonderful contacts. We had the experience of being with them for three or four months while we were out there in the mountains and were in their home many times. It was difficult for this family to attend a branch because they lived quite a distance away, but I remember receiving an announcement from them later indicating that they were sealed in the temple.

 

President Ellsworth and Masonry

I remember a time when President Ellsworth came to a ward conference in Eureka. President Morley, who was the Branch President, was a 32nd degree Mason. In times past there has been a great difference of opinion between Mormons and Masons. Well, President Ellsworth in a Priesthood meeting stood up and talked about Joseph Smith and his relationship to masonry. He pointed out that because of Josephs’ insights that he had gained through revelation he understood much of what the Masonic order was trying to teach in their programs. President Ellsworth said at that time that Joseph Smith actually gave the Masonic Order their 33rd degree (which is the most advanced degree of the Masonic order). President Morley, who was a good branch president but one that needed a lot of instruction, was taught that day by President Ellsworth making sure he understood that relationship properly.

 

Building Church Houses

Another important part of our missionary experience was the building of church houses. As missionaries we worked on the Eureka chapel and helped finish it. We did the painting and a lot of other things that required one or two days a week of work. At that time the branch members had to raise most of the money or part of the money from local sources in order to meet the building costs.


There were various ways that missionaries worked to raise money for local building funds. One method was the publishing of community phone directories. Permission was obtained from the mayor and city counsel to publish a directory with all the residents of the city listed. This would be distributed to every family in the city free of charge. This also proved a good way to get into the homes of the city. The missionaries did the work of gathering the information and they also sold advertising space to cover the cost of printing and to contribute to the building fund. At that time, Sister Norine Butler helped develop this program while working on the Medford city directory, and not long after that I helped on the city of Alturas directory.


In the Medford directory everything was going fine, but the community businesses were not purchasing advertising space. As a result of this, the missionaries in Medford had a two day fast. The result was a complete success. The missionaries turned over $15,000 to the local building fund! Sister Butler also worked on the Lakeview and Avenal directories.


Nowadays it’s different because many more people are paying a full tithing. One hundred percent of new building costs for the Church come from the tithes, but back then, a lot of money had to be raised locally. I was told by President Morley’s son-in-law, Lowell Thompson, who is a very devoted member of the Church, that President Morley would buy a truckload of lumber using half for the construction of the building and selling half of the truckload to other people. With that extra profit from selling the lumber he was able to raise money that was needed for that building.


After I’d been out about ten months we finished building the Eureka church house and President Ellsworth came to see the finished work. President Ellsworth was such a dedicated mission president. He knew that if we were ever going to have growth in the Church we needed to have places for people to come to that was inviting, where the Spirit of the Lord could be felt. For that reason he pursued this very ambitious building program in all of northern California. Many beautiful churches were built under his aggressive leadership style toward building up of the kingdom of God.


Looking back at my 11 months in Eureka, I found several people interested in the Church, built a church house, and had many other wonderful experiences.  

 

President Ellsworth – Teaching Style

I want to tell you a little bit about German E. Ellsworth. He was the mission president for those first ten months of my mission and he was just a remarkable man. When he was the president of the Northern State Mission in the Chicago area, it was the first time he had served as a mission president and he was one of the old school leaders, similar to Ben E. Rich and LeGrand Richards, and just a great mission president. When he got to northern California, his third term as mission president, he decided that if we were ever going to make progress with the Church we had to have decent places to worship. Most of the missions back in those times were meeting in rented halls and small quarters. President Ellsworth decided that he had to get started on a full-time building program. So he soon got the approval of the Brethren to have the missionaries work on the chapels.


Another interesting part of President Ellsworth’s leadership style was that if he needed church leadership in one part of the mission and a prospective leader lived somewhere else, he would ask these men to take their family and move to a new area and find new employment. This way he selected the kind of people that could build up each area of the Church, and as a whole, strengthen missionary work across the mission boundaries.

 

President Ellsworth – Book of Mormon Distribution

President Ellsworth had a remarkable experience when he was first called as a mission president to the Northern States Mission. He went to the Sacred Grove to do some meditating before he went to the mission field. While he was in that sacred grove praying and asking the Lord for a special blessing so that he could be the kind of mission president the Lord wanted him to be, he said that he heard a voice just as clear as any voice he had every heard. It was a voice to his mind and the Lord said to him, “Push the distribution of the Book of Mormon and you will do more to bring people to me through that means than anything else you can do.” As a result, he was extremely devoted to pushing the cause of the Book of Mormon.


I remember we bought copies of the Book of Mormon by the case and back then they were fifty cents a piece while now the Church gives them away to everyone that wants one. But back then, finances were not as good as they are now, so we had to buy the books for fifty cents to give them away.


Do you know how President Benson was so determined in having us recognize the value of the Book of Mormon? President Benson taught the great role that it played and in the 84th Section of the Doctrine and Covenants where it says that the Church was under condemnation because it had not received the Book of Mormon the way that it should be received. Well, these were the same teachings of German E. Ellsworth. It is my understanding, even though it may be incorrect, that Ezra Taft Benson’s father served a mission later in his life under German E. Ellsworth as mission president. President Ellsworth was a devoted teacher and pusher of the Book of Mormon because of that experience he had in the sacred grove. Later in my life when I heard President Benson talk so profoundly and clearly about the Book of Mormon, it sounded like the echoing of the Lord’s instruction to German E. Ellsworth.3

 

Called as District President

When President Ellsworth was released, Thomas E. Gardner was appointed as the mission president. It was he that called me to be the district president4 in Klamath Falls which is in southern Oregon. I had some wonderful experiences while serving there.


In Klamath Falls there was a beautiful new church house. Right across the road lived District President Ron Shiftman, which would be the same as the Stake President. President Shiftman’s wife, Jeannette, had polio and was confined to a wheelchair, but she had such a beautiful spirit.

 

Visit by Elder Bruce R. McConkie

While I was in Klamath Falls, Bruce McConkie toured the mission and there were some inspiring meetings that were held while he was there. I remember the meeting he had with just the fifteen missionaries in our district. We talked all morning and then he gave us a scripture to memorize during the noon hour while we had our dinner. He said, “This scripture is one that you will not find in the four standard works. Nonetheless,” he said, “it is scripture.” It was a quotation of Joseph Smith which many have taught and brought out lately, that says, “And I told the brethren that the Book of Mormon was the most correct of any book on the earth. And a man could get closer to God by living by its precepts than by any other book.” Well that was something that was recorded in the documentary history of the Church and was a direct quotation from Joseph Smith.

 

Visit by Elder Joseph Fielding Smith

Another interesting experience took place when Joseph Fielding Smith, as a member of the Quorum of the Twelve, toured the mission. This happened while I was in Eureka, but while Sister Butler was in the Klamath Falls area. Sister Butler and other missionaries went to a meeting in Lakeview, Oregon which was about 80 or 90 miles east of Klamath Falls. Sister Shiftman was speaking in the meeting. She was a very beautiful lady in her wheelchair talking about her great faith and her love of the Savior. After she spoke, Joseph Fielding Smith got up and said, “Oh if I only had the faith, I could lay my hands on Sister Shiftman and she could stand and walk! But I do not have the faith to bring that to pass. And of course, it has to be in harmony with the Lord’s will as well.”

 

Sister Shafer’s Son and the Resurrection

Some of the wonderful experiences that I had while in Klamath Falls occurred while I was working with President Shiftman, the Stake President, and President Shafer, one of his councilors. These were wonderful devoted people and I got well acquainted with them.


One day Sister Shafer told me a story of her son who got very ill many years before the time that I was there. The Shafer’s were people of great faith so they administered to this little boy and prayed for him night and day. The family just continued in prayer and the boy just lingered—he wasn’t getting better, he wasn’t getting worse. Sister Shafer said that one night as she was kneeling to the side of his bed and pleading with the Lord for his life to be spared, she heard the voice of the Spirit speak to her saying, “Sister Shafer, if you can’t stand to let your son go, I’ll have to take your husband.”


As she rose from her prayer she was so shocked by that impression and the counsel that came to her. She said within a few hours, her husband became very ill in addition to her son. She didn’t know what to do and so she told her husband what had happened to her and the feelings that she had. As a couple they then knelt down and said to the Lord, “If it is your will that our son be taken, then we will accept that as being your will.”


And that’s exactly what happened. He passed away within a day. Brother Shafer recovered, and these people of great faith increased their testimonies, looking forward to the time when they would have the privilege of rearing this little boy because as he went to the grave, so will he be resurrected. The body of the child will come forth from the tomb and then those noble parents will have the opportunity of rearing that little boy to adulthood before he is perfected. This was an event that gave them great hope and faith.

 

Trip to Crater Lake

Another experience we had in Klamath Falls was very memorable. We got permission from President Gardner on the 24th of July to hold a three-district conference in Klamath Falls. We invited the missionaries from the Rogue River District which included Medford and Ashland, Oregon and the Shasta District which was down around Redding, California.


The first day we arranged that there would be housing with the members of the Church in Klamath Falls. The missionaries all came and there were about 50 missionaries all together. We rented a couple of flatbed trucks. This was something we could do then but certainly couldn’t be done now. We went to a rental agency and rented a flatbed truck that was large enough so all fifty missionaries could sit on the truck. Also on the first day of our conference we drove up to Crater Lake, Oregon which was about 40 miles north of Klamath Falls.


Crater Lake was a beautiful place—one of the deepest inland lakes in the world—and it’s a lake that is formed where a great volcano once blew its stack and left this crater in the earth. The bottom was sealed tight so that as snow and rain fell into it over thousands of years, the crater filled up with the bluest and deepest water that you could ever imagine.


We went up there and had a picnic the first day and then the second day we met in an all day testimony and report meeting in the Klamath Falls chapel. This was a beautiful chapel. One of the local radio people came to the dedication of that chapel and he said, “I thought I was going into a theatre instead of a chapel.” It had individual opera chairs rather than bench seats and it had indirect lighting. It was just a lovely building.


So that is where we had the all day testimony meeting and all fifty of the missionaries stood before the group one at a time and shared their testimonies, feelings of the work, and blessings that the Lord had given to them. It was my privilege to preside at that meeting, sitting on the stand, and I think the two other district presidents from the Rogue River and the Shasta District sat with me as well. At the close of the meeting we had a lovely dinner there in the Church house and then around four or five o’clock, I announced the closing song and prayer. The fifty missionaries that were there sang “God be with you ‘till we meet again.” The words of that song had so much Spirit it was just like the angels of heaven were there with us and that the time would come when we would all meet again at the feet of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. And so that became a great high point of my missionary experience.

 

Mission Conference in Oakland

We had a mission conference in Oakland, California while I continued serving in Klamath Falls. We rented a Greyhound bus and picked up all the missionaries of the Rogue River District. We drove down Highway 101 passing the redwood trees and the Pacific Coast. We then went through Crescent City and picked up all the missionaries in Eureka, and then we all went on to Oakland where we had the wonderful mission conference.


I’ve got a photograph in my photograph album that was taken at the time of the conference. I’ll never forget the talk by the Stake President in Sacramento. His name was Aria W. McDonald. He said, “All the world looks to America, and all America looks to California” because California was the fastest growing state in the Union back then in 1948, 1949 and 1950. He said, “You’re serving a mission to the Lord in the best place in the entire world,” and of course we believed what he said.


Another thing that I remember about his remarks was when he said, “The years of our life are like the cables connecting telephone poles. As you look back on the many years of your life, all of the years blend together as do the poles when looked at from a distance, but your experiences as missionaries will be like golden poles linked together in those years of your life. They will always stand out and you will always have great memories of this time, regardless of what went on before or what will take place in your future.” And I certainly do believe that that was the case for me.

 

Sister Norine Butler

One of the greatest things that happened in Klamath Falls was my introduction to Sister Norine Butler. A rumor got started among the missionaries that I was married (married missionaries in that time were rather common).5 All of the lady missionaries that were serving out there told each other that, “Elder Allen is married”—so nobody looked at me any different than they would a married man. They soon found out after they got to know me that I wasn’t married as they originally thought.


Once a month we would meet in a mission district meeting and there we would record our missionary activities, bear our testimonies to each other, and have a great time together to strengthen each other to help us to go forward with the work.


In preparation for this meeting, Sister Butler was trying to teach me to sing a bass part in a quartet that I was going to sing in for that occasion. I remember a thought that went through my mind at that time, I didn’t express it, but I remember thinking “I really enjoy this kind of opportunity.” In fact, it was partly because of Sister Butler that I had the confidence to join in a quartet that was formed much later in my mission. So that was the place where we met, in the setting of music. I said to myself, “Is this the kind of life that you want? Because if it is, maybe you ought to be friendlier with Sister Butler.” And that indeed happened.


She was soon transferred away from Klamath Falls and she went over to Medford for awhile. She then went in the mission office and then south of Sacramento until she finished her mission.

 

Bass Singer and Chauffeur

Another great experience I had while in Klamath Falls involved singing. We had a few missionaries that had really good voices. Elder Nolan Packam had a beautiful tenor voice and Elder Cutler from Salt Lake City was a fine pianist as well as a good singer. We had those two missionaries plus two others serving in Lakeview. Those four missionaries convinced me that they could form a quartet and present programs to civic groups in Lakeview and Klamath Falls, and thereby stimulate some interest in what we were doing as missionaries. And surprisingly they were successful at it.


The day came when the bass singer of the quartet had to go home. His name was Elder Liddiard and he was a tall, red-haired fellow. Well, because I was blessed with having an automobile, and they needed a bass singer, I became the bass singer and chauffeur. We presented several programs and sung several numbers during those performances. We also showed some slides of ancient America and other Church film strips that were enhanced our performances in cottage meetings.


We even took our quartet to the local radio station in Klamath Falls. We asked if we could have a five-minute radio program. We told them that it would be patterned after the choir broadcast in Salt Lake City and of course everybody knew about that so they consented. We went to the radio station and recorded several songs and then I selected and narrated a number of passages from Richard L. Evans’s spoken word program. We had these five minute programs once a day on the local radio station that ran for a couple of months. That was a fun thing to do. I don’t know that it ever opened many doors to us but I think it did help some.


In Klamath Falls the church had a good reputation. We had members of the Church who were well known in the community and the beautiful Church house was also known. This reputation was a great benefit to missionary work because everyone knew who the Mormons were and there was a good feeling toward the Church as far as I knew.

 

Return Home and Courtship

I returned home in October and Sister Butler returned from her mission probably three or four months after me. We wrote to each other occasionally while we were in the mission field but it wasn’t until she came home and I persuaded her to come to Utah State to go to school, that our interest really developed. I think it was in December 1950 that she decided to move to Logan, having decided that was a good idea.


We decided we liked each other a great deal so while she was here we got engaged and set out wedding date for May 25, 1951. That decision was one of the great things that helped confirm to me that this was the direction that I wanted to go.


I was so in love with that Sister Butler when she came home from her mission! I had never seen such a beautiful girl in all my life. I remember I just sat there and wept as she walked toward me. My whole soul was filled with excitement and love for her. It was after we spent a little time together that evening that I made up my mind. It took a little time for this relationship to develop, but soon enough it blossomed into something exquisite and wonderful.


Endnotes

1 Now they’re called zone leaders, but back in those days they were called a district president.

2 Claron’s car was a 1946 Chevrolet. Before he left for the military he traded in another car he owned with the stipulation that he was to get one as soon as they were back in production. So as soon as he returned from the army, he bought that new car.

3 President Ellsworth is also on record for saying,  "For several years we have given three rules to our missionaries, as a means to success; the first rule is Work, the second Hard work, and the third Persistent, prayerful, honest work. We bear testimony that success has come to every one who has followed these three rules. We have never had an elder go into the field, who has complied therewith, but who has come home with his heart full of joy, with a testimony that God lives, and the messengers of our Father have been sent before his face to guide his footsteps in the way of the honest in heart, and in the way of friends." — German E. Ellsworth, "Conference Report," April 1907, p. 87-88.

4 Nowadays the position of missionary district president is equivalent to the position of a missionary zone leader.

5 There were several missionaries that got married and then went on missions. Sometimes their spouse would even go to a different mission!

Chapter 6: Marriage

Our First Year of Marriage

There is a wonderful excitement that comes with finding a mate, a spiritual companion. There is a physical excitement that comes and I have at times wondered why these emotions and passions are so strong to pull us toward desiring to find our mate. I really believe that the most important thing we do in life is to bring children into this world—to give other children of God, His spiritual children, an opportunity of mortality. In order for God’s purposes to be fulfilled here in earth life, there must be a drive (because truly most of the children of God do not understand the purposes of our Heavenly Father) that pushes us to fulfill the great and grand design of creation and to provide this opportunity of mortality to others. There must be built-in incentives, built-in drives that will bring to pass His purposes.


In the book of Abraham, there is a discussion in the spirit world about the importance of this mortal experience. This discussion is echoed during the rather short period when the powers of procreation are given to us. Abraham heard God say that he would take the spirits, clothe them in bodies of flesh, and send them to the earth. He would give them a chance to see if they could learn to walk by faith and keep all of His commandments as a process of growth and development.

 

Marriage Loneliness

In the great wonder of it all, I remember that many things in our marriage early in life were not ideal. The fact that I resumed my involvement in the farming partnership meant that for six months of the year I spent most of the time out at the farm. There were no facilities for taking our families out there, so it meant that we had to leave our wives at home. That wasn’t so bad for Claron and Douglas because their families were established and they had children to help their wives bear the loneliness; but it was pretty hard in my case because Norine was all alone. And being alone is not a happy condition to be in.


Another difficulty for Norine was that we lived right across the road from my folks. Dad was always very interested in what was going on at the farm and how things were going, so when I would come home on Saturday I would go over and visit with them for a little while, not really realizing that my wife needed my attention and concern. Unfortunately, this situation often offended her and it was difficult for her to understand.

 

Finding Winter Employment

That first winter when the farm work was finished, I tried to find things that I could do to generate a little money. I worked with a company in Salt Lake called The Rich Plan that was trying to sell freezers and foods for home use and storage. I spent quite a lot of time on that and I went with one of the sales people up to Montpelier and we spent all day canvassing and tracting the area trying to find people that might be interested. But it didn’t amount to anything and I didn’t earn any income.


When winter came I went to Hill Field and got a job as a mechanic’s helper working in the outdoor storage area where vehicles were kept and stored. I would do maintenance and repair work on these vehicles. I carpooled from Hyrum to Hill Field with Lloyd Allen, a long-time employee of Hill Field, and a few others. The odd thing about Lloyd was that he would fall asleep the minute he got in the car, but instantly he would awake going through Sardine Canyon from Brigham City to Manaway. He would stare into the mountains and always was able to spot deer before anyone else could get a chance. After he found the deer, he would fall right back to sleep. He was never a great help to those of us who had to drive that long distance because he was always sleeping.

 

First Child

That first summer Norine said she wanted to have a baby. I certainly wanted to have that happen so that she would not be so lonely, and also so that we could begin fulfilling the purpose in our marriage. So it was, that we found ourselves expecting our first child.


During that time of expecting our first baby a new MD moved into town who had finished his internship and decided that he wanted to set up his practice in a rural community. It was this new doctor, Dr. Harline, who helped us make sure things were going okay during the pregnancy. He was one that believed that nature should take its course and there should be almost no interference in that process.


About the end of May or first of June, the time arrived for the birth of our first child. Norine went to the hospital which we learned that with delivery of our first child was a new unique experience. She was in intense labor for 30 some hours! Dr. Harline was not one to not try to hurry the process, so he just let it continue. He let it continue as she labored to the point of almost complete exhaustion, and finally the baby was delivered—a baby girl. Having anticipated this experience so much, I’ll never forget it. We were in the old Budge hospital that was kitty cornered to the Logan temple. As I was waiting for the baby to be brought in I almost went into shock. I spent so much time wondering what the result would be between the union of the two of us, because you never quite know. And all of a sudden there was the nurse holding this little girl with glowing white hair about an inch long. I don’t know whether the nurses that cared for her did it, but her hair was standing straight up all over her head. And partly due to the strain of the labor period, and partly due to the tension of not knowing what our progeny would be like, we really had quite a good laugh looking at this little one as beautiful as she was with her hair standing straight up like she was afraid and almost in shock.


Babies have to be very tough even to survive birth. The great miracle of the human being begins with two little cells at the time of conception. A sperm unites with the egg, causing the growth structure to start and the physical characteristics of the mother to adapt to this new little one inside her body. There are all these symptoms of morning sickness as this new baby grows, and quite simply stated, it’s just a miracle from beginning to end.


I’ve always believed that one of the greatest miracles of earth life is life itself. How remarkable that from such a simple beginning this complex organism develops! It is complete and perfect in every way with all functions of the adult body—the circulatory system, the respiratory system, the emotional, and nervous system. Yet with so much given from birth, the newborn certainly has many characteristics still to be developed—the sensation of pain; the ability to open eyes and see; and a mind that functions comprehending, learning and hearing things. It’s just a miracle almost beyond our ability to comprehend that each one of us human beings is a part of this developing system. We don’t think of it as a miracle because it’s something that all human beings have in common. When we’re the product of these things it seems to be less of a miracle than it really is. 


Well with the birth of our first baby, then our family was really beginning. Gaelyn was born on the 2nd of June, 1951. We talked and thought about what she should be named. It was Norine’s great desire for music that caused her to think of the name “Gaelyn and her magic violin.”1 This would be her title and this would be Norine’s expectation as a mother, and certainly that expectation has come to pass.


In the beginning it was kind of a rough beginning for our little one. The custom was and still is that when you have a new baby the baby should nurse for their food. Norine tried for a couple of weeks to nurse but her breasts got so sore that she could hardly do it, and only in extreme agony and pain. We also found out because of Gaelyn’s fussiness that we were overdosing her on vitamins. Norine decided to alleviate the tension within the baby and herself by not try to nurse the baby but rather giving her formula. So that pattern was started with our first child and it continued on with all the children that came in to our family.

 

Leap of Faith: Moving to Strevell

On our first farm we had most of the land leased from Genie Peterson. He was going to sell it to us after a ten-year lease. Claron didn’t want to buy it, so we broke up our partnership. Genie had two young boys whom his wife wanted to have Claron’s land. So Douglas and I each bought a section of about 1200 acres. Needing more land to make a living, I went to one of my neighbors, Browning Bar-B, and he offered me two and a quarter sections of his property. I knew my family still wouldn’t survive with only this much land, so we started looking for another centralized place to farm.


We finally found a place to farm that was over 5000 acres of land in Strevell. As I was inspecting the property I looked at the cistern and had an impression. I went and told Norine that this was the right place to be. There was a home on this farm which was a real advantage, instead of leaving my wife home. So I went to Don Rigby and asked him to loan me the money so I could make a down payment on the farm. He gave me the money, we made an offer which they accepted, and we bought that huge farm. We had a bunch of equipment. We farmed that land for several years before we bought the motel in Tremonton. In the process we kept that big farm in Strevell.

 

Ruptured Appendix and Muddy Shoes

I had boys driving trucks for me in November at the Strevell farm. I had one of these kids dumping, and he drove out of the building where there was a bunch of wheat with no door. I told Norine that we had to go out to the grain bins so I could fix the doors. When we got to the grain bins, I worked all day and fixed the doors. When I finished, we realized the station wagon was stuck in the mud. I told Norine we couldn’t leave during the night because we had to wait until the mud underneath the car froze.


Well, that night my appendix ruptured. I have never felt so horrible in my life. Needing to get to the hospital but having our car stuck in the mud, I forced myself to go up and pull it out of the mud with a tractor.


Norine drove while I lied down in the back seat. On our way to the hospital she said we first needed to pick up the kids. I told her I thought we could call Grandma Butler from the hospital and have her go out to the farm and stay with the kids. Norine said, “No, that won’t do. We have to go pick up the kids and take them to Grandma Butler’s. Besides, I have to change my muddy shoes anyway.” Still to this day I can’t believe we didn’t drive straight to the hospital.


We got to Logan and immediately went into surgery. They had a stomach pump going in my nose to stomach. After three days I pulled that out cause I so swollen. I also got these needles. This was before the days before IV therapy. Every two hours I had needles in my rear so much that I felt like a pin cushion. I remember was a great light above and a lot of chrome on the ceiling. I had a local anesthetic. During the surgery, there was such great pain.


Following surgery I was singing hymns because I was so happy. Norine thought I was sweet talking the nurses. I insisted that I was so happy that the pain was relieved. The surgeon’s aid later told me that I was the luckiest man, because I had the best surgeon he knew. The surgeon took pieces of my stomach that had ruptured and put it all back together.


As I reflect on that night, I realize I could have died easy as pie. And I still remember very clearly how Norine, said, “I want to take the kids to Grandma Butler,” and then, “and I need to change my shoes anyway.” Well, once again the Lord took care of us. The Lord gently took us to that big farm and even as problems continued to come along, the Lord took our hand and looked after us.


Shady Lane Motel: A Tale of Loss and Hope

When not working at the farm in the summer, we lived in Hyrum. It was in Hyrum that Norine gave birth to our first four children.  One day we decided that we needed to make some changes in our life. We couldn’t survive with the farm income that we had so we decided to buy a motel and rental property in Tremonton. Our investment came with about twenty motel units, a four-plex, and a home that we could live in. Because of the mature trees that brought a lot of shade to the property, the motel was named the Shady Lane Motel.


At the time we were gullible. Although we thought to verify the financial history of the motel by asking the seller if he would show us his tax returns, somehow he talked us out of it and we didn’t see them. He said that he didn’t record all of his income on the tax forms so the forms wouldn’t be a good measure of how successful the investment was.


After a year of this experience we realized that the property was just too old. We had to replace the boiler and furnace, and overall we were losing a lot of money. I went to the Bishop seeking some advice but he told me that he was a builder, not an investor; however, he did advise me to go to J. D. Harris.


J. D. Harris was a successful local business man. He started out with a service station that ended up doing well. He then started up a business selling International trucks and leasing big construction equipment to people. He became successful because of his aggressive business sense and friendly personality. He was known for starting his business among farmers, and even though he became very successful,2 he always kept close ties to the farming industry.


So I went to talk to J. D. and we talked about my situation for a long time. He said, “I can’t tell you what to do, but I’ll tell you what I’d do. I’d go to the guy and say, I want to give this back to you. You could go to a court, but my experience is that whether I win or lose, I still lose.” I ultimately decided that his advice was about the best advice I had received, so Norine and I carried out his plan. We went back to the seller, told him that we couldn’t make the payments, and gave the property back.


The decision to leave the motel business wasn’t as difficult as the decision to leave Tremonton. With the bitterness of a failed business venture, the Lord gave Norine and me wonderful spiritual experiences that set a pattern for growth in our lives.

 

After a full year in Tremonton we now had five children, and no home.

 

Temple Project in the Tremonton 2nd Ward

While we were living in Tremonton, Brother Fredric Freedall, a member of the bishopric, heard of a program of reactivation for members of the senior Aaronic priesthood that he wished to implement. The bishopric called me to be the instructor of the class that met each week. This was a twelve week course that included class assignments to prepare these people to receive the Melchizedek priesthood and then to prepare them for the temple.


This was a wonderful group with enrollment of about fifteen couples whom the Bishop invited. By the end of the twelve weeks, ten of the men had been ordained to the office of Elder. Of these ten, almost all went to the temple, received their endowments and have been sealed.


Wayne Watson and his wife were of particular interest to me. This fine young couple had been married for several years but had not had any children. Wayne was a deacon and had never been active in the church even though his wife had been very active prior to their marriage. They had been living the Word of Wisdom so there was very little problem for the temple recommend. The wonderful part of their story comes when we heard about six months later that Sister Watson was going to have a baby. This miracle was a result of a spiritual special blessing given to them through President Raymond when they were married in the temple. Their blessing was that children would come to them. In 1966, Wayne became one of the ward clerks in the Tremonton 2nd Ward.


Brother and Sister Ray Thompson were also a great inspiration to us. These folks were relatives to the Bishop and were both over age 65. These people were most faithful in attending every class. It was almost a year after we had moved from Tremonton that we got a letter from Sister Thompson inviting us to attend the temple with them. We wept with them as their family, all grown men and women, knelt around the sacred altar and were sealed to their parents. Two proxies had to stand in for two of their children who were deceased.


This was really a spiritual high point for Norine and me to participate in. We only lived in Tremonton for about a year, but from this program I still remember the first lesson. At the end of the class period after we had discussed the role of prayer and emphasized the great importance it should be in our lives, we asked each couple to take each other by the hand. We suggested that they now make a commitment that they would kneel down together, hold each other’s hand, and have a vocal prayer together every night before they went to bed so that the Lord might bless them to move in the wonderful direction to take them to the temple.


That was such a high point in our lives that we almost felt that we had been led to Tremonton so that we could participate in the temple project. But then again, these experiences were probably the mercies of the Lord because living there proved to be rather disastrous financially. The Lord gives us blessings that help to compensate for those unfortunate situations that happen to all of us.

 

The Saintly Gentleman

After much prayer, Norine and I decided that we should move our family to Logan. We decided to move to Logan so I could finish university education, getting my teaching degree to become a seminary teacher. I was from that wonderful experience on the temple project that I felt like I could be a good teacher. To help me get through school we decided that I could do tax work in Logan because my father had many tax clients in the Logan area that were willing to let me do their taxes. Norine also though Logan would be a good choice because Ray Haslum, the music teacher from the Cache County school district moved to the Logan school district. She thought he was the best and wanted to get the kids in his music program at the school.


We started looking for a home in Logan. While driving around we saw a new house still under construction that looked like it was almost finished. I went in and met with the builder. His name was Thomas Call and he was a very saintly old gentlemen. We talked for about 45 minutes after which I told him that I’d like to buy the house. I asked him how much he was selling it for. He told me fifteen thousand dollars. I told him that sounded fine and then asked if he would be willing to carry the contract, to finance my purchase of the house. He replied that he would, then I asked if 5.5 percent interest sounded okay. “Oh no, 5 percent will do.” I said, “I have a farm in Box Elder, could I make annual payments instead of monthly?” Once again, he agreed to help me out. I gave him five hundred dollars down and then he said, “Well, you draw up the contract and I’ll take it to the bank.”


Let me put this into perspective. Here is a guy with five children, no income. What are the chances of talking to someone just over thirty minutes and having him decide he would finance a house for me as long as I needed, at twelve hundred dollars a year? It is just unheard of, that a person would make an offer of that kind!


By the time we were ready to move, he completed the unfinished basement, so we had a place to move in. The house had a two car garage, and 2,000 square feet. Upstairs there were two bedrooms and two bathrooms and downstairs there was a large family room, a bathroom, and a laundry room. We later hung blankets from the ceilings in the family room to add two more bedrooms downstairs. This gave Robert the privacy and allowed the four girls to share the other two areas.
The Lord and Thomas Call certainly took care of us that day.

 

Utah State University

The reason we went to Logan was so I could go into the CES teaching program at Utah State University for a degree in teaching secondary education. I finished my schooling in two years and completed my practice teaching in the seminary at Box Elder high school. I then submitted an application for employment with the CES. I did all the paperwork but still didn’t hear back from them. I finally called BYU and asked them to tell me the status of my application. The secretary said, “I’m sorry, we have no application for you.” So that means that the institute director, Christensen was his name, decided not to turn in my application. Why not? Was I too old, too ugly, or not smiley enough?


My first thoughts were that I spent three years completing this degree while my family sacrificed so much. I had the opportunity of turning bitter, but the more I thought about it, I thought maybe the Lord had a different call for me. Perhaps He wanted me somewhere else. I soon came to realize that teaching actually wouldn’t have worked out well with my farming. Doing income tax work allowed me to make the same amount of money in three months that I would have made in nine as a seminary teacher.


Four or five years later I learned how the Lord knew what was better for me than I did. He carefully led me to a saintly old man who could look at me and say, “This is a man that I can trust and depend on,” and He opened the door for other opportunities.
Do I ever regret spending those three years finishing my degree with five children at home? No. For me getting a college degree was mostly about helping me realize my self-worth. I felt I needed to do that to be a whole person. I just always had a desire to complete my education. Norine has often said, “You’re only doing it to help your ego.” I don’t know if she’s right, but I do know the degree did something for my personal worth.


Temple Miracles in Logan  

When we moved to Logan we moved into the 23rd ward. Once the bishop got acquainted with us a little bit, he called me to be the High Priest Group leader. I told him of the wonderful experience that we had in Tremonton, and he felt like Project Temple was something the ward should do.


Using the same outline as in Tremonton, the Bishop chose people in his ward who had not been to the temple and who had not received the Melchizedek priesthood. He would then personally interview them and invite them to participate in this group. It seemed that once again we were going to have another wonderful experience with this temple project.


We had several people go to the temple from that ward. The few that I can remember were Kent Cramer and his wife, Phil Coleen and his wife. This was certainly a blessing. Then, when they divided our stake and realigned the ward boundaries we were asked to attend the 7th ward. Once again, we were called to teach this temple class and the Lord blessed us with wonderful experiences.


Of the great success we shared in the Logan 7th ward, I remember the Andrews family. Blake Andrews was one who was not married in the temple. He was a fine young man. He bought Georgia’s house right next door to our property. He and his lovely wife attended every meeting of that class and later went to the temple. In 2003, he became first counselor in the ward bishopric and certainly has proven a real strength and blessing to the ward.  


I’m convinced that these temple miracles came as a result of small yet consistent choices. All of the weekly class lessons included specific assignments. Class members started with individual prayers then proceeded to family prayers. Next they were to attend weekly sacrament meeting and renew their covenants by partaking the sacrament. Then they moved on to paying their tithing and then keeping the word of wisdom. To be a part of this temple process and see many people go to the temple as a result of their participation has been a tremendous blessing in my life.

 

Music in Our Home

A habit of Norine is to get up Sunday morning and practice the piano, playing some of the hymns of Zion. She plays beautiful spiritual music to set the pattern for this day. And so I so appreciate that talent and desire that she has to bring that beautiful spirit of music into our home.


I’m sure that Norine realized that her love of music was one of the great things that attracted me to her, and one thing that I wanted in my family. Norine truly brought to our family the ability to perform music and to appreciate the great spiritual blessings that come to people through the channel of music. I really think the feelings created from performing sacred music bring us as close as we can to communing to God through the Holy Spirit, as any other medium.


Endnotes

1 That was a completely random phrase that Norine made up on her own.

2 Later in his life he was selected a member for the Board of Regency at USU, making financial decisions for all universities in the state of Utah.

Chapter 7: Home Teaching Miracles

Elton and Vira Welker

I would like to continue with blessings that have come to us through home teaching assignments in particular. These blessings kind of overlap a bit with the temple project. When we were in the 7th ward, I had an assignment teaching the Book of Mormon in Sunday school. One day after having a particularly wonderful spirit in our class, there was a man that came up to me after class and said, “I’d like to visit with you a few minutes when church is over.” I said that would be fine.


This man was Elton Welker. I first met Elton when I was at Hyrum High School. I worked one summer with Grant Nielson who was building a home in Hyrum 2nd ward and Elton was one of the carpenters on the building of that home.


That was back in the days when we built the forms and mixing all the concrete right on site for the foundation. We had wheelbarrows that we had to build runways so we could dump the concrete into the forms that had been built. It is a far cry from the way they do it nowadays.


While working on this job I became acquainted with Elton Welker. He was a quiet man and he didn’t talk as much as some of the other guys. There was one guy that was a drinker that loved to describe all of his exploits as a sinner here in Zion. But Elton never said much about it. He talked about his wife and how he loved her a great deal. His conversation stood out as different from the other guy talk.


So that Sunday I met with Brother Elton Welker after our block. He said, “I would like some help. I’ve received the Melchizedek priesthood and I want to go to the temple but I want my wife to come with me so that we can be sealed.” I said, “I don’t know whether I can make a difference, but I’m willing to try.” So I asked the Bishop if I could be a home teacher to Elton and Vira Welker and he said that would be just fine.


We found out after we got acquainted with Sister Welker that she was a convert to the church. She was born and raised in Mallad, Idaho and her family was part of a group that were called the Josephites didn’t go along with Brigham Young and his leadership in the church. They believed in what the Prophet Joseph did, but they were one of the fringe people of the church. Sister Welker said that the home teachers or bishopric would come quite often to their home in Mallad and try to convince her parents that they should become active in the church, and not be hold outs who were Josephites as they were called. She said that when they would come and visit, why the children would be sent to bed. But she and her sisters would go sit on the stairs steps and listen to the arguments, the discussion, between her parents and the other members. Of course she believed the point of view that her parents took.


One of the big issues that these Josephites thought was inappropriate was polygamy. It was this reservation that kept her from wanting to go to the temple. The issue of polygamy caused her to not believe in the LDS teachings of temple marriage.


I was home teacher for them for over a year and we were making almost no progress. Then Brother Welker became ill. Sister Welker called and told us that her husband was ill and they had taken him to the hospital. Brother Bob Hammond, the High Priest group leader, and I went to the hospital to administer to him. Brother Welker had a very severe temperature and they said he had cancer and the prognosis was not good. We anointed him and gave him a blessing that he would be able to return home and that the desires of his heart, that of a temple marriage would be granted to him.


The cancer went into remission, and he did return home. During a home teaching visit after Brother Welker returned from the hospital, I said, “Sister Welker, would it be alright if Elton and I gave you a blessing?” That invitation shocked her a little bit, and she said, “Well, I guess that would be alright.”


So we put our hands on her head. I was the voice of the blessing. I asked that her heart might be softened, and I asked that she might have a desire to go to the temple with her husband. We left, and the next morning Sister Welker called me on the phone and she said, “Brother Allen, I’ve had the most wonderful feeling ever since that blessing was given last night.” She said, “I’ve had a feeling of peace come to me that is something I have never felt during my time as a member of the church.” She had joined for Elton’s sake, and she said, “That wonderful feeling of peace that I’ve had since that blessing—I’m ready to go to the temple, just as soon as we can get the arrangements made.”


These people were living the standards just fine, so she got her temple recommend and we went to the temple with them and they were sealed. Some of her boys did not attend the temple and have not been active, but her daughter Alice was there and was sealed to her parents.


That was a wonderful milestone for them. Shortly thereafter, within three months time, Elton’s cancer returned. It was bone cancer and they elected to stay at home. He lived for just about a year. He went from a man of two hundred pounds down to less than one hundred pounds. Sister Welker was his nurse and she cared for him and she gave him the morphine shots. She said that he got so thin and just a bag of bones that she had difficulty finding a place where she could give him the injections that he needed. Of course they were not using an IV like they use nowadays, however, it did mean that she had to give him this shot once or twice a day.


It was one year from the time they went to the temple that he passed away. She confided in me and said, “You know, this has been a terrible ordeal. But in a way, it has been the best year that Elton and I have ever had together because there has been complete love between us and it has been a wonder year in lots of ways.”


I was privileged to speak in the funeral and I told much of this story. It was interesting to me that Sister Welker’s view of this whole process was a little different from mine. She said, “You know, all that you needed to do was to ask me. Just to ask. Just to say, I want you to go with me to the temple. I would have been happy to do it.” But we really felt through the blessings of the Lord and the priesthood that the desire of Brother Welker came to pass.


The story of Sister Welker goes on. She was a marvelous woman and single. She served as a counselor to my wife Norine when she was the Relief Society president, and was a great help there. She and Sister Johnston became special interest leaders. In our ward we had a family home evening for the single sisters, the widows. Norine and Sister Welker were in charge of that group and they were a great blessing to the ladies of the ward in loving each other and in taking care of each other and doing all that they could in making their life of being single and alone bearable. They called each other every day and shared the love that they had for each other.


Sister Welker’s health gradually started to go down and she got an infection in her one leg. It couldn’t be cleared up, and she had a very difficult time. Finally she did pass away. I visited her just a day or two before her death and was able to participate in a blessing that she had at that time. She had such a tough time for over a year with this bad leg infection, but she certainly did overcome the problems of this world and was a great example for all of us.

 

Florie and Emma

Another experience that relates to home teaching was with Florie and Emma. When we were in the 23rd ward there were two ladies that were recluses that lived on 90 North 400 East. Florie Wiseman and her sister Emma Hardwood. As far as I know I have never seen these people or had anything to do with them. I was the High Priest group leader in the 23rd ward and Brother Don Schafer lived in our ward, and he was the home teacher assigned to these two ladies. Brother Shafer could only get in for home teaching appointments if he telephoned first—it was Florie’s phone, she was the older of the two ladies—so he would call and make an appointment.


Now these sisters were getting an order from the Bishop’s storehouse once every week or every two weeks. There was some fresh meat and some canned goods, toilet paper and other necessities. And it was always left on the front porch because they wouldn’t answer the door if someone came and knocked. You could knock, knock, and knock and still nobody would answer.


When we were moved to the 7th ward, Don Schafer was moving from the ward. At that time I was the finance clerk for 7th ward and I knew of Brother Schafer’s work with these two sisters, so I volunteered to be a home teacher. I got Brother Schafer to go with me on one of the first occasions so that I could get acquainted with these two sisters. They were lovely elderly ladies.


Emma had been married. Her husband had died so that’s the reason her name was Hardwood. So I took over as home teacher. This was during the time that Norine was the Relief Society president, so she could go with me. This went on for a long time—a year or two years, and conditions were getting worse.


I remember there was one year that there were some people in the ward that worked as custodians in the university building, one of the university stake buildings. School would let out during the middle of the month in December, so they would take down all the Christmas decorations. They had a little Christmas tree that was fully decorated that had been in that building, and they offered it to anyone who would want it. So I said that maybe Sister Wiseman and Hardwood would like that Christmas tree. I got the tree with the decorations and made the usual appointment and we took it over. We got into their home and plugged in the tree. Usually Florie would be out to visit with us and Emma would peek around the corner a little bit. We plugged the lights in on the tree and it was lovely. Sister Wiseman said, “Emma, Emma, please come and look at the tree. Look how beautiful this is.” She came in and looked at the tree.


My wife was very nervous in their house because there were mice that were visible during our visit. I don’t know whether it was this time or one of our other visits there, but the mice were up running across the back of the couch. There were more than one—we could see several. Norine has an aversion to mice so she always sat on a hard chair and held her feet up off the floor because she was afraid that a mouse was going to run up her legs.


There living conditions were just so bad that something needed to be done. After that visit I reported back to the Bishop, and Norine as the Relief Society president had the grocery orders continue, and after discussing it in the Welfare meeting and with the Bishopric (Vaughn Benson was the Bishop) we decided that the time had come that we needed to take those women out of the home, clean the place up, and see if they needed any medical attention.


We set a date, a Saturday, and we met at the church. There were ten or twelve people that came. The plan was that we were to meet over in the church about nine o’clock, kneel in prayer and ask for the blessing and direction from the Lord as we tried to do something to change the situation here in their home. Now we made arrangements for them to be taken to a nursing home in Mendon where they could receive the nursing care and still have everything alright for them. After our prayer, I went into the Bishop’s office and called the number and let it ring, ring, and ring. We waited there for over an hour, and I called two, three, and four times. Still no answer.


So we went over to the house and knocked on the door. We knocked on the windows and walked around the house. We called again and we tried to be heard, but there was no response. At this point, there was nothing we could do. We had to cancel our plans. I said that I would keep trying on the phone and maybe they’d pick. Well it went on for ten days. Every day I would call and receive no answer on the phone. Finally, we decided we would have to break the door down to see what was wrong, so I called the home one more time, and surprise—surprise, Emma picked up the phone. She says, “Oh, Brother Allen, Florie is ill. She has been ill for ten days, and I can’t revive her.” I said, “Well, let us come.” She said that she would open the door, so I went right down. The door was open, and I went right in. Emma was there ringing her hands so worried. Florie was in the bed, and she was dead. Emma had just lost track of reality and she said that she had been trying to spoon feed a little milk into her mouth, but she couldn’t get any action from Florie.


I called the Bishop, then I called mortician Jim Hall, and he came up to pick up the body. Jim said, “I’ve seen a lot of bad ones, but I’ve never seen anything quite like this.” Florie was laying in bed, she had been dead for ten days, and the mice had gotten into her bead and had eaten some of the toes off of her feet. That’s how bad it was. Jim brought a bag and got the body in the bag. He took it directly to his deep freeze so that she could be prepared for a funeral.


Before the service, our ward cleaning crew rallied around, and we had a couple of work days at the house trying to clean it out. Brother Mel Schwanevelt backed his pickup towards the one door that was on the side of the house, and we just threw things in the back of the truck. He was going to take all of the things to the dump. One of the things for fresh meat that they had received on their orders for I don’t know how long, at least years, had all been put in a chest type freezer that was on the back screen porch of the house. Well, that freezer had stopped working and the meat was all rotten, and it was just a mess almost beyond imagination. All the toilet paper they had received from their orders had been stuffed into a closet and it was full just about to the ceiling, and the mice nests were in there like you can’t imagine.

 

We ran into social security checks that had been delivered to their home—over four thousand dollars worth of checks from the Social Security. Remarkeably, the mice had not eaten the checks. They had made their nest in the toilet paper, and these checks were in the same closet as the toilet paper. Well, we didn’t know what to do with it, so we called social security. They said, “Well, we can’t reissue it, just go ahead and deposit them in their bank accounts.” The social security thought this would be fine, even though some of them were eight, nine, and ten years old. Things were a little simpler in those days—I don’t think that would ever happen now. But they said to go ahead and deposit those checks.


After the day of clean up, I remember Mel Schwaneveldt. He took his pick up down to the dump, the land fill. He says as he unloaded it, the mice just ran in every direction from his truck. It was just something that you never see.

 

We didn’t take Emma directly to the nursing, but we decided to take her to the hospital into emergency where they could check her over and make sure everything was fine. They found out that her toe nails were very long, over an inch long, and the emergency room doctor said “That isn’t anything I would dare touch, you’ve got to have a podiatrist that has been trained in handling the feet to take care of those feet.”


They emergency room staff cleaned her up and one of the good ward members whose mother had passed away not to long before, had some of her mother’s clothes. So we got those clothes and got her fixed up for the funeral.


We had a lovely funeral in the ward house. Now, these folks had some relatives that lived down in Bountiful and they had tried for years to get into them. They would come up in Christmas time in particular, and leave a box of things for them on the porch because they could not get in. They didn’t know the phone number. These relatives were at the funeral.


Emma looked just so lovely. Her white hair, she was this little short woman, and she had this beautiful black dress on. We had a wonderful service.


The day of the funeral came and the relatives were there from Bountiful. They saw this lovely little lady and as far as we knew we still had the arrangements for the nursing home in Mendon. But they looked at Emma, and they said, we want to take her home with us and take care of her.


Following the meal after the funeral, Sister Emma said, “I think it’s time I get home.” Keep in mind that she had not been out of that house for years and years. One little anecdote: The reason she would never answer the phone was because Florie owned the phone, not Emma. And Emma had never used the telephone, never used it at all. It was Florie’s phone and she was the one who always answered. So, in all our calling, her sense of desperation got so great and her mind had played some tricks on her, she didn’t know Florie was dead, she thought she was just sick. She in desperation picked up the phone. I think it was the first time in her entire life that she had used a telephone. Well, and that’s the reason we couldn’t get in.


But I think there was another reason there. The Lord knew that if our plan had been implemented, and if we had taken those two ladies out of the house against their will, that it would have been more than they could stand to have that happen. So in His mercy he took Florie’s life so that she wouldn’t have to go through this ordeal that we had decided that we must go forward with.


Another interesting, as I was one of the speakers at the funeral, and we had found some genealogical papers that the mice had not got into at all, and the testimonies of these two sisters. Their written testimonies of the gospel and their love of the Lord, and their honest feelings. In the testimony there was something kind of indicated—I read those testimonies as part of my talk—we still have those testimonies, but it’s somewhere with our other papers, but I think it was an indication of the Lord’s love for those ladies, that Florie be taken. She didn’t have to go to the nursing home.


Anyway, after the funeral, after the dinner that was held at the church, Emma said that it was time to go home. So she took my arm, and see the relatives from Bountiful had said we want to take her, so I took Emma out and sat her in the car. She kind of glared at me, and she said, this isn’t the car we came in. She said, “What are you doing.” I said, “I’m sorry Emma, but you’ll have to go and live with your family, your loved ones, and they will take care of you.” This was not what she wanted to do at all. But it was something that had to be done for her benefit.


So her relatives took her to Bountiful. They went to a podiatrist who was able to get her toes taken care of—the nails cut. It took two or three visits more to get those in order so she could walk around. They even got a temple recommend for her, and took her to the temple before she died.


Now Bishop Benson had stopped in to their home in Bountiful a couple of times and visited with Emma. I didn’t get down there to see how she was doing, but he was very encouraged at the way things had worked out for her.


That was just a marvelous spiritual experience for all of us, the whole ward, as we participated. There was one little caveat there that kind of come out in the testimonies that they had written down. Florie had one leg shorter than the other. In order to walk without a very severe limp, she had an elevator shoe on one foot with a very thick sole and heel, but they still had a very hard time getting around. They would go to church, they lived just two blocks to the north of where the church was, they would walk down to the old 7th ward church where they would attend meetings. But somebody had said to them, at least we surmised this, that people saw how difficult it was for them to move and walk, and they made the comment: “This is too hard for you to get here.” We think they had taken offense by people saying to them, although it was in kindness I’m sure, but it was too hard for them to come and walk up the many steps in that old building and get into the regular church service. And maybe it was too hard, maybe it was more difficult than they could handle, but that was the beginning of their shutting out the world. As a result, they lived as recluses their for fifteen or twenty years.


The reason they were getting social security was because Emma’s husband had social security credits. But another factor that contributed to their being recluses, Emma had never gotten her citizenship papers. As a young girl she came into the United States, and she had never gone through the process of becoming a citizen. They were afraid that they would be found and they would have to be deported, so that’s another reason perhaps, that contributed to their being recluse as they were.


One other little comment about their house, there was a man that lived in the 23rd ward that was in the fumigation business for treatment of properties to get rid of mice and other undesirable things. He was contacted to go and fumigate the property to get rid of the mice and clean it up. He said, “I’ve seen some bad one’s in my life, but I’ve never seen anything like that house.” He had to go back three of four times and re-fumigate to get rid of all the mice that were there.


Another little comment that Afton Cobridge, who was Norine’s counselor in the Relief Society, she lived just three quarters to a block to the east where Florie and Emma were. She said, “You know, we never had any mice. But after the fumigation, the mice were fleeing in every direction.” And she said she saw a mouse in her house the same day she been down their working. She thinks the mice were just going all through the neighborhood to find a place to hide.

 

Norma Spencer

Another home teaching experience occurred a little after this very dramatic thing with Florie and Emma. I was working as a companion with Hyrum Ward, and there was a lady that lived on 5th East just through the block of Florie and Emma’s house. Her name was Norma Spencer. Norma was a very unusual woman. She was a little retarded. She had been raised in Smithfield. Her mother had lost a baby earlier who had died, and when Norma came along, her mother was so possessive that she never let her go to school and kept her home to keep track of her. Now this is kind of hearsay, I don’t know for sure that all of these details are true. This house where Norma was raised had cats. They had many, many, many cats. The story is that when Norma’s mother died, the authorities went into the home, and it was so bad that they decided it should be burned.


So, Norma was sent out to a nursing home. When the property was sold in Smithfield where her mother lived, there was some money that came to Norma. So she bought a home that is here on 5th East in Logan. She bought this little home and moved her meager possessions into that home. She was also a woman that was receiving Welfare help.


She was a woman that had been raised in an environment of cats, that was familiar to her. So she started to accumulate cats in this house. I think the address was about 45 North on 500 East. When we would go there home teaching she would let us in alright. I’ve always been blessed with a nose that couldn’t detect odors, but Brother Ward would go in there, and after a few minutes he would say, “I’ve got to step outside a minute.” He said that the smell was so bad that he could not stay in the house any longer, he had to go out and get a breath of fresh air.


We made our visits quite regularly. The house was bad, but not anything so bad as Florie and Emma’s house. Norma has always been a walker. She’s always been one that went on walks, long walks. She walk to town and she’d walk out to K Mart, and she’d walk over the town. I think it was all that exercise that helped her retain her health. But one day she was crossing the road on 1st North and 1st East, and she stepped out in front of a car. She was hit by the car and injured a bit, not awfully seriously but enough to be taken to the hospital.


We came aware of that with Bishop Benson who was aware of most of these things that were going on, and went to the hospital. We decided with the Relief Society president and the Bishop, and the state Welfare being involved that it was a time that the house be cleaned up before she went back in.


Norma had worked a little bit at DI, and we made arrangements with the DI that they would launder all of the clothing of Norma, so it could be taken back into the house. We hauled out the old couch and the other things that were not fit to be used. There again, the toilet didn’t work and the tub was half full of dropping from the cats. It was just a dreadful situation. We got crews together and cleaned out the house. We took these things to get cleaned, and one of the employees at DI she had a wonderful doll that her mother had given to her. It was a precious keepsake, whether she had bought it or it was given to her I don’t know—but that doll disappeared while those things were being cleaned up to be put back in her home. When we took her back, of course the cats—she asked us to go in and take care of the cats.


Norma’s house was not habitable. The plumbing was gone, the toilet didn’t work, so between the Bishop and the state welfare, it was decided that the property be sold and that Norma be placed in the nursing home out in Mendon.


Norma got very upset mostly because of the loss of her doll. The cats were all taken to the humane society, and they take care of them. Norma went to the nursing home. She really didn’t require to live in a nursing home, she had lived quite independently for a long time. After some time, six or eight months, she was moved back to Logan. The welfare rented her a place on 1st South, the old Bridgerland motel. She had an apartment there. She was out walking the streets again and she did so for some time and we kind of lost track of her until we saw the death notice that she had passed away.

Chapter 8: Letters to My Children, Grandchildren, and Greatgrandchildren

Departing Words to Future Missionary Grandchildren and Great-grandchildren

I reflect back to the words of Arid W. McDonald, who was the president of the San Francisco stake, while I served my mission. He came as a guest speaker to one of our mission conferences. He said that as you live your life out, every year is like a telephone pole. After many years of life, looking back in retrospect, all the telephone posts seemed to be aligned in a blur of posts. However, regarding serving a mission, he said that every year in the mission field is like golden posts. No matter how far you get away from the posts, you will always see and remember those gold posts.


To all my future grandchildren, I would say, “Accept the missionary call and serve with joy. Work, work, and work.”

 

The Eternal Consequences of Choices

I wrote this letter to our children, grandchildren, and missionaries. I hope it will last better in this personal history.  

 

Dear children and grandchildren missionaries,

 

I’ve had some things weighing on my mind for the last few days that I would like to share with you. When children are born into this world, there is such a feeling of excitement and joy because this person, this living soul, which means the spirit and physical body has been brought together to make a living soul, has been created an earth life for this person has begun.


This person has been alive as a spirit in the presence of our Heavenly Father and has progressed to the point where the next step is necessary. This all important step is to obtain a body of flesh and bone. Such love is given to this new little one, and every day the progress of growth is anticipated and enjoyed. As one of your mothers said to me once, ‘I wish that they could always be as sweet as each of us was during our first year of life.’ But growth must come, and all of us learn things both good and bad. That is part of the reason that we are here to experience good and bad and to learn to make choices. It is so important to realize that our choices have eternal consequences.


We also know that we will make mistakes, and the perfect plan of our Heavenly Father has provided the way to overcome our mistakes and get back on the straight and narrow way that will lead us to eternal life.


We are constantly tempted to do things that will lead us away from the promises and covenants that we have made. The Lord through the Holy Spirit that we have been given will always help us to make corrections that are needed to keep us on course. He wants us to be hopeful, helpful, and happy. I’m sure that each of you have felt that great joy that comes when we make the good choice and receive the spiritual confirmation that our direction is good. Those of you that are serving in the mission field are serving in other righteous ways know what I mean. My counsel to you is to always keep in your memories a bright recollection of all the blessings that has come to you. Do not let the ways of the world deter you from you faithfulness.


Every one of us has and will continue to have challenges that we must work through. With our determination and the blessings of the Lord we will prevail. He has promised that his angels will be on our right hand and on our left. You usually don’t see them, but we can and do know that they are there. The investment that the Lord has made in each of us is too great to let it fail.


If we want with all our hearts to succeed, the blessings of eternal life is a million times greater than any of us could imagine. I love you, and most importantly, God loves you.

 

With love,


Grandpa Allen

Chapter 9: Gospel Talks and Commentary

Conquering Ourselves

Well, today in our Priesthood lesson we were discussing some of the teachings of Joseph F. Smith as it relates to happiness in this life and the title of the lesson is, “Let us conquer ourselves.” And of course a lot of our people in this country have been fearful that additional attacks will come. But this comment by President Smith kind of puts those things into perspective when he said:

 

No man is safe unless he is a master of himself; and there is no tyrant more merciless or more to be dreaded than an uncontrollable appetite or passion. We will find that if we give way to the groveling appetites of the flesh and follow them up, that the end will be invariably bitter, injurious and sorrowful, both to the individual and to the society. It is hurtful in example as well as in its individual effects; dangerous and hurtful to the unwary; why the denial of these appetites . . . and aspirations for something noble; whenever possible, doing good to our fellow creatures, hoping for the future, laying up treasures in heaven, where moth and rust can not corrupt and where thieves can not break through and steal [see Mathew 6:19–20]—all these things will bring everlasting happiness; happiness for the world and the world to come. (Teaching of the President of the Church: Joseph F. Smith, 372)

 

He goes on to say:

 

For my part I do not fear the influence of our enemies from without, as I fear those from within. An open an avowed enemy, whom we may see and meet in an open field is far less to be feared, than a lurking, deceitful, treacherous enemy hidden within us, such as are many of the weaknesses of our fallen human nature, which are too often allowed to go unchecked, beclouding our minds, leading away our affection from God and His truth, until they sat the very foundations of our faith and debase us beyond the possibility or hope of redemption, either in this world or that to come. (Teaching of the President of the Church: Joseph F. Smith, 372–373)

 

 And he goes on to talk about how we will use ourselves, how we entertain ourselves, that the entertainment of our lives should be in complete harmony with divine approval.


He points out that we should lead lives that avoid excesses and cease from sin. Profanity and vulgarity are gross sins in the sight of God. And he says the desire to get something from nothing is a pernicious habit.


We live in a town when the lottery has become an obsession in the United States. And most of the states have state run lotteries. And millions of people pay in and buy lottery tickets in the hope that they will indeed hit jackpot and become wealthy. And this very appetite of trying to get something for nothing, the desire to get something of value for little or nothing is pernicious and any proceeding which strengthens that desire is an effective aid to the gambling spirit.


We live in a time when the title of investor, which is really a speculator, has become a much desired title to have. Now, I recognize that the use of stock markets for raising of cash and for financing big operations has certainly been a desirable thing for our economy. But without the work that goes along with any kind of venture, the desire to get something of value for little or nothing is a pernicious habit that seems to have taken over much of our thinking in our country.


This discussion was concluded with a question. And quoting again from President Smith,


. . . What manner of people ought we to be; what manner of individuals should we be? Should we not set an example worthy of our profession? Should we not live pure lives? Should we not be upright, virtuous, honest, God fearing and God-loving in our souls every day of our lives and in every position in which we may be called to act; ought we not to set an example for good? Ought we not to be Christ-like, manly, true to every principle of the Gospel, and honorable out in the world and at home . . . ? That is indeed the kind of people that we ought to be. God help us to be such is my prayer. (Teaching of the President of the Church: Joseph F. Smith, 378)

 

 Certainly the world it seems in 2001 has become in many ways much more sinful and more evil back in the days of Joseph F. Smith. Of course we have made wonderful progress in other ways, but we need to be alert to those influences that would tend to degrade us as individuals and hurt our families as they’re growing and trying to become that which our Heavenly Father would like them to be.


Choice and Accountability

I’m going to give a talk tomorrow in 7th Ward, and I want to go through and review a few of the things that I’m going to talk about. We’ve been assigned a topic to speak on: Choice and Accountability. These topics were very well by other speakers talking about different aspects of these two principles.


What I have to say is that both choice and accountability are essential parts of the great plan of life, the plan of salvation—what I like to call God’s perfect plan for the mortality of his children here on earth. You know, in thinking about the idea that choice and accountability was also to be a part of our earth life, our Heavenly Father had to make a pretty difficult decision in that world following the great grand council that was held. In order to provide the opposition that would be needful here for his children on the earth he had to make provision for opposition so that as we live out our lives here in mortality we have to make choices about that which we are going to do and that which we are going to embrace.


Without the force of opposition, if we lived in a world that was always pleasant and good, we may choose things that are pleasant and good or if we lived in a world where all was evil and I honestly believe that some people in this planet earth live in that kind of environment, then they come to accept to that as being a normal way of living. And so with that condition such, I wonder if they really have the choices that they need to have here on the earth.

 

Our Pre-existent Condition

I came across a teaching of John A. Widtsoe some years ago that talks about the council in Heaven and our pre-existent position. He said in that time that the circumstances into which we are born here in mortality is determined largely by the environment that we were in our pre-earth life. He went on to say that just as our condition here after will be determined by that which we do in this mortal sphere, the conditions have great bearing and we know that this is one of the most important things that we can do if we make the right choices we can indeed qualify for immortality and eternal life.


The prophet Lehi, a very kind and loving parent, as we read in 2 Nephi 2:16–18. He said,

 

16 Wherefore, the Lord God gave unto man that he should act for himself. Wherefore, man could not act for himself save it should be that he was enticed by the one or the other.

17 And I, Lehi, according to the things which I have read, must needs suppose that an angel of God, according to that which is written, had fallen from heaven; wherefore, he became a devil, having sought that which was evil before God.

18 And because he had fallen from heaven, and had become miserable forever, he sought also the misery of all mankind. Wherefore, he said unto Eve, yea, even that old serpent, who is the devil, who is the father of all lies, wherefore he said: Partake of the forbidden fruit, and ye shall not die, but ye shall be as God, knowing good and evil.

 

Because of the great mercies that opposition was provided, and Satan and his angels—those that were against our fathers plan of choice and accountability and the atonement of the Lord Jesus Christ to be the means of getting back into the heavenly spheres—they were placed on the earth to provide the opposition that was required in order for us to have the opportunity of making the choice.

 

Obligation to Teach Children

The Lord has been very specific how important it is that we teach our children. In D&C 68:25 the Lord says,

 

Inasmuch as parents have children in Zion . . . that teach them not to understand the doctrine of repentance, faith in Christ the Son of the living God, and of baptism and the gift of the Holy Ghost by the laying on of the hands, when eight years old, the sin be upon the heads of the parents.

 

It seems to me in this world that we live that it’s becoming more difficult all the time to adequately teach our children. We have one example in the Book of Mormon of what happens when children are adequately taught. You remember that beautiful setting described in 3 Nephi where the Savior came down among the people that were spared from destruction and he called forth all the little children to come up to him and each one he put his hands on and blessed and prayed for them. And they wept together, all of them did, to hear the great blessings and the love that the Lord Jesus Christ had for the little ones.


And he said in another place, “Suffer the little children to come unto me, for such is the kingdom of heaven. And if anyone does anything to offend one of his little ones, it would be better that a millstone were placed around his neck and he were cast into the depths of the sea.”


The teaching experience that the Nephites were able to participate in made a tremendous impact on their society. For two hundred years those people lived in righteousness because they had been adequately taught. They had accepted, believed and they knew and their teachings were so marvelous that they were able to pass it on to their children.


Now brothers and sisters, our responsibility is to try to teach our children so that their faith will be strong enough to meet all of the difficulties that mortality brings. I think with the advent of television and the low caliber of moral that is there displayed before us, the chance of teaching our children to lead honest and upright lives, the Book of Mormon also tells us that the natural man, if he follows the tendencies of the flesh, that he will be—what are words that are used—sensually devilish and something else.


The natural man has always been an enemy to God, but indeed unless the natural man is put off, and through faith and obedience to the principles of the gospel to put off that natural man he cannot do it, and so I pray that we might have the strength to teach our children so that they might have the faith that they can live a righteous life.


Enticements of the Devil

As I was thinking about what father Lehi said and the enticement, if we are enticed by evil what our reaction to that would be or if we are enticed to that which is good. If we listen to the enticements of the evil one, what will result? Worldiness, lust, enslavement to drugs, alcohol and pornography? And what ends up as the result of that kind of addictions and that kind of following after the evil tendencies of the flesh. Well, ashes misery, the devil wants everyone to be as miserable as he is, and so therefore that would be the result if we listen to those enticements.

 

Enticements of the Lord

Now, what are some of the enticements that the Lord offers us? I started making a list, and to tell you the truth, I had a very long list. It’s really not all inclusive. Well, when the Savior was born into the world the angelic choirs came and sang “Peace, Peace on earth goodwill toward men.” The offering of love, happiness and purpose in this life.


We are enticed with forgiveness from our sins and mistakes. And just think of what he’s done to try to help us to make good choices. Through the ages he has called prophets to teach his people. He grants to every person that is born in the flesh the Spirit of Christ, to every soul so that they may know the difference between good and evil. These prophets that have been called right down, their experiences, and so the scriptures thank heavens in our day is available to all. And if we listen to those words, those instructions, there will be peace and we will have love in our hearts and happiness in our homes.


Just think, he gives us air to breathe, forgiveness for our mistakes, he’s offered to us the opportunity of immortality and eternal life if we want it. The privilege of sharing in his life, all he stands ready to give to us.


And think of the operation of the church in our lives and what a blessing that is to us. How wonderful our baptismal services when someone has made up their mind to join the church and be a part of this great kingdom.


And then the gift of the Holy Ghost is given to them so that they can make those choices that the Lord would have them make. The great quotation in the book of Moroni says that “by the power of the Holy Ghost we can know the truthfulness of all things” and that’s a gift to us.


Think of the privilege of receiving the priesthood, both Aaronic and Melchizedek, the endowment of power from the temple ordinances, membership in his church, the love of a ward family. You know the church is like a great circle of love which we are a part of and which we are inviting other people to come in and join and feel that love and acceptance.


What are all the blessings of the primary organization for our little children? We see them learning the primary songs and so happy in that which they learn. Think about the Young Women’s and Young Men’s program—new programs that they have announced just at the beginning of this year—the Duty of God award, and the special medallion for the Young Women when they have lived their lives in a good and proper way.


Think of the quorums of the priesthood and the groups. Our young men in the deacons quorum and the teachers quorum. The Elder’s quorums, the High Priest quorums and groups—what a blessing all of these is to us, to encourage us to make the right decisions in our life.


Think about the Relief Society organization—this great organization of women—and all of the good they do in the lives of the women folks of the church.


Think of the church welfare system, and this wonderful effort that has been made to help people help themselves and to get through difficult situations.


Think of our wonderful fast offering program where we fast two of our meals a month and give the savings to the Bishops to help out in the care of the needs of those with special problems. Think of the Bishops store houses and all of the commodities that are available there. The dry pack canning program, the church distribution centers with all of the teaching aids and all of these other things that are available for us to help us make good decisions in our lives.
Think of the church education system that’s spread all over the planet, institutes of religion close to most major universities. And then our church universities—BYU, BYU Idaho, and BYU Hawaii. All of these and many more enticements to help us choose the right way and the way of the Lord.


And I pray that we might have the strength to teach our children to cast off the worldliness about us, the sin saturated society that we live in. Even in our schools and all other places.


May we have the strength to teach our children and to keep them safe in the fold of the church, and this I humbly pray in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

 

Consistency in the Gospel1

Why are some members of the church completely faithful to the church? I think in order to understand, we need to see what happens in the lives of people as the love of God enters their life.


As the Savior began his ministry, He needed some helpers to go forward with the great work he was sent to Earth to do. As he walked along the seashore, the sea of Galilee, he saw some men fishing and he said unto them, come follow me and I will make you fishers of men. And some went straightway after him from that time forward and for three years they listened, they followed, and they tried to put into their lives the things that the Savior was teaching.


They heard the teaching that he gave when he said, “Enter into the straight gate, for straight is the gate and narrow is the way that leadeth unto life,” meaning eternal life, or God’s life, “and few there be that find it. For broad is the gate and wide is the way that leadeth unto death,” and many there be that enter in to that wide gate.

 

Importance of Music


Today is May the 19th, and Norine is preparing to go with the girls to Lynette Butler Duersch’s reception for her daughter. I’m sitting here in the office listening to Norine practice the piano. I think of all of the hundreds of times in our marriage when this has been the case, Norine preparing for some musical event. And this wonderful beautiful music filling our home as she’s practicing and getting ready, of course when we were younger it was the girls playing with her and they will be playing with her tomorrow evening at the wedding reception. She’s just brushing up her skills now and they’ll have a practice at Mary Jo’s place prior to the wedding reception.

 

“Days may not be fair, always,
better to know that you’ll be there, always,
not for just an hour, for just a day,
not for just a year, but always.”

“Together. Together. Together.
My memory, we always will be, together.”

“I’m in love with you. That you love me too.
Keep the love light burning. So true.
Let me call you sweetheart.
I’m in love with you.”

 

As Norine has said many times, her kind of music is what she calls “smulchy” music—love songs. The old fashion tunes.

 

Individual Soul and Agency

I would like to spend a few minutes talking about the High Priest discussion we’ll have tomorrow on May the 6th 2000. Occasionally we need to reread the manual of instructions that come to us through the church. The scriptural foundation of home teaching is a commandment for priesthood holders to watch over the church always, and to be with and strengthen them. In Doctrine and Covenants 20:53-55, and then in Moroni 6:4, it says, “And after they had been received unto baptism and were wrought upon and cleansed by the power of the Holy Ghost  they were numbered among the people of the Church of Christ, and their names were taken that they might be remembered and nourished by the word of God to keep them continually in the right way, watchful unto prayer, relying alone upon the merits of Christ who is the author and finisher of their faith.” Well, and that’s exactly the way it is now.


In this context of the teaching of the Lord when he said, “even the hairs of your head are numbered, even the falling of the sparrow is known unto him”—the incomprehendable love of the Lord. I think he is saying everything matters. Everything we do matters. King Benjamin told us that the Lord was even lending us breath even as we must breathe for life, we could not sustain life even for a moment without his sustaining power.


Now this great and good Father in Heaven has asked us to represent Him in watching over the church. Now the promise is given to us in section 121 of the Doctrine and Covenants verse 26, where he says that “God will give unto you knowledge by his Holy Spirit, yea, by the unspeakable gift of the Holy Ghost that has not been revealed since the world was until now.” He will not leave us without help. Now he even tells us how we can do this as we relate to our brothers and sisters in the church and as we function as home teachers. “No power or influence can or ought to be maintained by virtue of the priesthood, only by persuasion, by longsuffering, by gentleness and meekness, and by love unfeigned, by kindness and pure knowledge which shall greatly enlarge the soul without hypocrisy and without guile. So this is the way that we are to strengthen one another using these principles.


The Lord has given us the right to choose and we should rejoice that every person has that right. That we can choose the direction that we will take in this life as well as all of our brothers and sisters. But if we can help each other understand this great loving Heavenly Father that has told us that all things matter; I like the little sequence in Sunday school that was a video sequence where this young lady was feeling unworthy and that she could not be forgiven of her transgressions, they were to much, that surely the Lord would not want her. And as the bishop counseled with her, they looked at the painting or the representation of the Savior that was hanging on the wall and he said to her ‘Now you feel that this God is so good. That he couldn’t want someone like you to be part of his kingdom.’ But he says, ‘I see in this picture, a God that is so good—so loving that he says that his kingdom would not be complete without you because He has indeed given his life for you, that you can come to him.’


One of the great incomprehensible things about mortality is that we’re born into this world one at a time. We have a father, we have a mother, and we’re born one at a time. We reach the age of accountability one at a time, and then we choose if we’re going to be baptized or if we’re going to go some other way. And in his great and perfect plan mortality is just a brief moment of eternity. A very important moment when this freedom of choice is given to us and if we desire strong enough to follow in his footsteps, then indeed the doorway will be open. He says, “Behold I stand at the door and knock, ye that will open to me I will come into him.”


Now the great promise of the Doctrine and Covenants is so remarkable. In the first section of the Doctrine and Covenants which is the Lord’s preface to this book of commandments, the Lord says that “what I the Lord have spoken I have spoken and I excuse not myself. And though the heavens and the earth pass away, my word shall not pass away, but will all be fulfilled, either by mine own voice or the voice of my servants it is the same.” And then in the second verse he says, “verily the voice of the Lord is unto all men, and there is no escape, and there is no eye that shall not see, neither ear that shall not hear, neither heart that shall be penetrated.” This is the promise that the Lord gives to all of mortality, that sometimes going their last time, or in the spirit world following this mortal probation, that everyone will hear and see, and their heart will be penetrated so that their choice will be either to serve the living God, or to follow the ways of the powers of evil. So ours is the great privilege of making this great and good God so understandable so close that none of us can resist the desire to move closer to him, and to come unto full fellowship in his church and kingdom.

 

Strength in a Quorum

July 2nd, this being the first Sunday of the month, we are trying to implement our responsibilities as priesthood leaders. The Elder’s quorum presidency and the High Priest group leadership sit in counsel with and teach their respective quorum and group members, these leader’s counsel quorum and group members teach them their duties and teach them to act in the offices into which they have been appointed in all diligence.


In 1977, President Gordon B. Hinckley, then a member of the quorum of the twelve, said,

 

It will be a marvelous day my brethren, it will be a day of fulfillment of the purposes of the Lord, when our priesthood quorums become an anchor of strength to every man belonging to every man belonging thereto. When each such man will be able to say, I am a member of the priesthood quorum of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I stand ready to assist my brethren in all their needs, as I am confident they stand ready to assist me in mine, working together we shall grow spiritually as covenant sons of God, working together, we can stand without embarrassment, and without fear, against every wind of adversity that might blow be it economic, social, or spiritual.

 

Priesthood Organization

Beginning in 1998, the Melchizedek priesthood was encouraged to use the monthly meeting schedule described in the following paragraphs,

 

The Melchizedek priesthood and relief society will continue to meet separately to strengthen, study, learning and application of gospel principles at home. The Melchizedek priesthood and relief society will have similar lessons on the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th Sunday’s beginning in 1978.


On the 1st Sunday, the quorum meeting, the focus of this group meeting is on the duties, actions, and service of Melchizedek priesthood bearers, as they learn to act in all diligence in magnifying their priesthood calling and in helping accomplish the mission of the church. The Elder’s quorum presidency or High Priest group leadership usually should instruct on this Sunday. Suggestions for the group leaders to consider for teaching their brethren on the 1st Sunday include: strengthen families through quorum, or group and committee work. Provide training in performing ordinances, activation, home teaching, missionary work, fellowshipping, welfare service, temple and family history work.


The result of the first Sunday quorum or group meetings should be planned, designed to make greater use of the talents of Melchizedek priesthood bearers. These plans should help them become better husbands and fathers and sons, and worthy, faithful priesthood bearers actively engaged in accomplishing the mission of the church.

 

Now there are a series of suggestions that we’re to follow, the first of which is using the priesthood to strengthen to family members. We will read carefully and discuss Doctrine & Covenants 121:41-46, and then we will also read together the counsel given by the apostle Paul, and discuss how he instructed the saints to ‘love your wives, even as Christ loved the church, and gave himself for it’. We will then discuss how Christ gave himself to the church, and how brethren can emulate His example in the way they relate to their wives, children, and extended family members. We can exchange our thoughts in teaching children on leading the family in scripture study, family home evening, and family councils. After doing those things I will present this idea that came from President Hinckley some time back, that says, “Life is fragile, handle with prayer” as a summation for the discussion this Sunday.

 

New Conference Center

A few comments that I would want to make about the general conference that we had the 2nd of April, the year 2000. What was the first general conference that was held in the new conference Center in Salt Lake City, this huge, new, beautiful auditorium that the Church has built. Not quite ready for dedication yet, but it was ready enough that the conference could be held there. I had wondered somewhat about this and had wondered if the priorities of building this huge and expensive building is really what it ought to be. In between the sessions on Sunday there was a program that went for an hour about the new assembly hall and the steps of building and there was conversation with President Hinckley about the building and why it was built. And you know, as I listened to his assessment of why now was the time, I became completely converted that this was the right thing to do and the right time.


The Church has really come of age in this new century—over 11 million members. The resources of the Church were such that indeed the means were there and the question was, what can we do to signal this great and important time in the progress of the Kingdom of God here upon the earth? And President Hinckley, as he talked about his feelings about why and what to do, he completely converted me that he was indeed inspired of the Lord in making the decision that this conference center should be built. Because the kingdom is going to continue to grow and great numbers of people are going to come into it and the cornerstone of the kingdom here in the valleys of the mountains should be what the Lord want it to be. So that indeed all nations can flow unto it and be brought into the circle of membership in our church. So I was really thrilled and impressed with his feelings about it and so my witness was as I listened to him that indeed this was the time.

 

Palmyra Temple Dedication

And then we had the privilege on the 6th of April to attend the first satellite broadcast of the dedication of the temple. The Palmyra temple was dedicated on Thursday the 6th of April and Norine and I got all our tickets and we went over to the stake center. We were over there by about twenty after six in the morning and the dedication ceremony took about an hour and a half. There were over fourteen hundred state centers in North and South America and many languages carried the dedication of this building where the beginning of the restoration took place and the things the Church is going to continue to do is bringing all the members into the fellowship of . . . that this is one kingdom, that they all belong to the kingdom of God here upon the earth. And so all of the rich experiences that are available to us as members is coming in an every-enlarging circle as we use modern technology to carry information to us so that each of us can be touched by that wonderful Spirit.


We are hopeful of course that maybe we would get a glimpse of Scott who is now serving right in that area where the new temple is. We listened with great interest as we were at Gaelyn’s a short time ago where they had made a tape recording of their visit to the temple, that was part of the dedication, there was a new family that they had been working with that joined the church, and in celebration of their baptism, why they went on a trip with them to the temple site, the Joseph Smith home, the hill Cumorah and the sacred grove where all of these experiences happened. And this family was so excited and so happy that they had made the decision to join into the kingdom and unite their lives with that which the Lord wants us to do. And indeed the whole process of what the Lord is trying to do through his church is to bring souls unto Him. This is our great work to bring not only our own soul, but as many as are willing to accept and to follow on that straight and narrow path that he has opened before us.

 

Praising God

This morning its Sunday, July 2, 2000. I have a priesthood responsibility today and I’ve been thinking about some things and I wanted to just praise God for a few minutes. Praise God from whom all blessings flow. Praise him all creatures here below. This is the essence of what all of us should be doing.

 

The Gene of Gratitude

I think now that they’ve mapped the human genome—the complete gene codes in this incomprehensible way that the medical community has tried to decide how we are and why we are as we are. I suppose there’s a gene in us that teaches us that we should love God who is our Creator. And in the physical sense we are to love our parents who are our earthly mortal creators. Its amazing to me how much when we get down to the final analysis how much we owe to those who gave us life, and the depth of that love, the love that exists in our family for our parents, our grandparents.

Passing on a Legacy


We attended Pat Atkins funeral yesterday. I was very impressed with the expressions of her granddaughter about how much she loved her grandmother and her husband, the granddaughter’s husband had written a song about Pat that expressed his great love for her and for the one who is in great measure responsible for the life of his wife, Pat’s granddaughter. It seems that we as mortals can never repay those who gave us life. If we will open our minds and our thoughts to it, we owe them everything. And the love that we have for those who gave to us life is deep, and its there, and its wonderful, and its permanent.

 

The Beauty of Nature

Another thing that I would like to praise God for, from whom all blessings flow, last night I turned on the TV to channel 7, and on the screen came on the announcement of a symphonic number—one of great peace and beauty. And as this musical number was being presented, there was a visual tour of the mountains and grandeur of southern Utah. The camera’s that was used to take these photographs of this beautiful mountain country—and for fifteen minutes I sat in awe at the beauty, the rugged mountain beauty, of God’s creation. I don’t understand why all these things as they are that certainly is the as the process of creation was complete, Michael and Jehovah was doing their work and Michael said to Jehovah, “The earth is beautiful” and they were pleased with the creation, and I feel to say ‘amen’ to that. This glorious time in which we live in the space of fifteen minutes we can have a tour of these breathtaking and beautiful scenes presented to us.

 

The Beauty of Music

And then I flipped over to the news and in the first commercial I went to channel 11, and it was a rebroadcast of President Hinckley’s 90th birthday that was held in the new conference center in Salt Lake City. And I sat there in awe and just so impressed with the array of talent, the beauty of that talent, the musical—it was a musical program, the mastery of the filming, the videotaping. The thought that kept recurring to me was the prophecy of Isaiah when he said, “And in that day” meaning our day “that the branch of the Lord would be beautiful.” The full orchestra, the Tabernacle Choir, the conclusion of this beautiful program they sang “Lead Kindly Light” and then “The Spirit of God like a Fire is Burning” and then the encore finish of this great production, the audience in attendance was 21,000 people.


They performed that moving beautiful song, “The Battle Hymn of the Republic.” And my soul was so stirred and moved by this beautiful occasion, certainly from the mountain of the Lord’s house, and the tops of the mountains is going forth. This great and inspiring declaration, that God lives, that He is at the helm, and that His church and kingdom is on the earth. I was just so thrilled to sit in my chair and to watch this thing on television that was so beautiful and inspiring.

 

Receiving the Call to Follow Him2

Many of us have had that experience of receiving that call to follow Him. And in my judgment, they have made a valiant effort to keep his commandments and to apply them in their lives. They’ve been peacemakers and the Lord said, “Blessed are the peacemakers for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” He also taught beautiful things I think they tried to implement in their lives when he said, “Suffer the little children to come unto me, for of such is the Kingdom of heaven.”


They experienced the truth of his teaching when he said, “The kingdom of heaven is like the merchantman, when he found the Pearl of Great Price he gave up everything so that he could obtain this perfect pearl.” And indeed the kingdom of God is that Pearl of Great Price.


The way that the Lord seems to work with people on the Earth in most instances is that he calls some and then send them forth to teach and to invite people to accept the gospel message. Indeed the prophet Amos said, “Surely the Lord God will do nothing except he revealeth his secrets to his servants, the prophets.”


One of the great prophets who wrote the first five books of the Bible was Moses and we’re all familiar with his story as to how he received his wonderful call as he fled from the land of Egypt and he went into the desert and then went up onto Mount Sinai and there he had this great vision that the Lord gave to him and called him to do his work and to go forward with the salvation of his people who were the children of Israel who were held in bondage in Egypt. And in the process of this call, Moses was shown all the creations of God. And he was so amazed that he said, “Why, why are you doing all this? What is the purpose of all this?” And the Lord answered that he was doing it for his own purposes and then he went on to explain a little further and he said, “For behold, this is my work and my glory, to bring to pass the immortality and the eternal life of man.” So actually, God’s work and His glory, is man, the convincing of man that he should accept the teachings of their own free will and come unto him.


He has given us this great principle of agency where each one of us have the power to make those choices that we choose to make in life and none will be forced into accepting His way, but rather, they will be given the opportunity to accept.


At the end of the three-year ministry of our Lord and Savior, Jesus had his disciples gathered together at what we call the Last Supper where the sacrament was introduced and where that beautiful ordinance of the washing of the feet did take place. And he told them that the time had come and he was going to leave them. Well, this was devastating news to his disciples. How on earth could they ever survive without him? They had become dependant on his teachings and the strength that they got from being with them. And he said that he would not leave them alone, but that he would send a comforter in his place and this comforter, which is the Holy Spirit, would bring peace to their lives and to their heart. That he would bring all things to their remembrance and they would have the capacity to receive the encouragement and help and strength through him and through this blessed gift of the comforter of the Holy Spirit they would be able to go forward with this work.


And it’s still so in our time. The promise is given that if we desire to follow him, that the Holy Spirit will bear record to us and bring us the peace that we need in order to go forward with our lives and face the challenges that life brings to us. And I really believe that John and Oagie both felt an overwhelming feeling of peace in their lives, which made them able to bear the very difficult burdens they have had to bear since the time of Oagie’s stroke. And especially last year for John when he was alone without the companionship of his wife. Now he has this great privilege of being with her again. And as it was stated so beautifully in the obituary that he is now reunited with his waiting wife who has been there preparing a place for him.


And even the Savior says that he will prepare a place for us. And the teachings of the scriptures are very clear. The prophet Alma was told that at the time of the death of those who loved the Lord that they would be taken home directly to him and they would be received into a state of peace and a state of comfort and a state of happiness where they will rest from all care and sorrow until the time of their resurrection of the physical body and it’s my testament to you that John is now graduated from this sphere of life and he moves into the spirit world and is as close as the other room. He has gone there to be with his loved ones and his dearly beloved companion and there he will wait until the time of the resurrection.

 

Remembering Blessings at FHE

Norine and I, in our home evening this week, read a talk by Elder Neuenschwander of the Council of the Seventy and it certainly brought into our lives the marvelous blessings of the past and how important it is that we retain that memory in our mind and return to it so we can indeed see the hand of the Lord in our lives. As I expressed to her that many times, hundred of times that the Spirit has touched me and given me that feeling of faith, that it’s a hope that comes only from God and the assurance that indeed we are involved in His great work and that the most important things we can do in our lives is to serve and love Him and to try to nurture our own children and bring them up in that faith so that their time on Earth here, this period of mortality, will be of value to them so they can work out their salvation while they’re here.

 

Temple Preparation

This is Sunday October the 22nd year 2000, and I’ve had some feelings today that I would like to put on tape. Occasionally when I wake in the morning, and usually it’s on a Sunday morning, having thought a good deal about the coming Sabbath and the blessings that we have received. This morning I went through some of that kind of pondering if you will, my mind went back Thursday evening when we had a temple session—a regular ward temple day.


Only this time, the Bishop had suggested that we meet together in the temple cafeteria for an evening meal, and then either go through the temple session that followed, or if any wanted to go to the temple prior to our meeting in the cafeteria at six o’clock. It was a lovely occasion.


There were twenty-five to thirty ward members that had wonderful meal together and just a little bit of socializing and greeting, but then we were able to get some names from brother and sister Hundley. Bishop Birschbach had given out all of his names that he had left, then the Hundly’s passed out some names that we could take through the session.


Now both Bishop Birschbach, former Bishop of the ward, and the Hundley’s, are converts to the church, so they are engaged deeply in family history work and identifying their ancestors and getting the temple work done for them. And I of course, volunteered to take one of those names as did Norine.


The name I had was Grandpa Joel, his name was really Joel Fettecini, but he was a great grandfather of some of sister Hundley’s children that she had had prior to her marrying brother Hundley. So anyway, I took that name, and had a delightful time going through the temple and I thought about this man who was an Italian, and he came to the US so brother Hundley told us today to escape some of the mafia influences in Italy that he was apparently associated with some regard but he came to the United States along with other family members and wanted to continue his life away from that influence.

 

Finding Peace in the Temple’s Celestial Room

Anyways, I went through the temple and I got up to the veil, and there was a man there that was working as one of the veil workers that I had served with on a high council many years ago. And as I saw him, the thought came to my mind that he had shared with President Jenkins, Rod Tueller was the senior member of the high council, and he had told President Jenkins that brother Allen was, in his opinion, the best high council man that he had ever served with. And President Jenkins shared that feeling with me. You know what that kind of feeling gives to you, that others can recognize your efforts and maybe feel that there is some merit in those things.


Well, brother Tueller was working at the veil, he’s recently returned from being a mission president somewhere in the world. But I happened to go through the veil where he was working, and went through the process there at the veil and brother Tueller patted me on the back and said, “Well done.” As I went into the celestial room, and looked around and there were a few ward members there, I had the most magnificent feeling of joy, just an almost overwhelming feeling of joy and peace. And just the most warm. The thought occurred to me there, this is surely the right place to be. This is such a blessing to be here. And to feel these wonderful feelings.


This morning as I woke up I thought about that, and of course that wonderful feeling of peace and joy that I felt in the celestial room was actually what I believe the presence of the Holy Spirit—the confirming action of the Holy Spirit on my spirit telling me that this was the right thing and right place to be. And as I’ve thought about that, I wondered why those feelings were so pronounced.

 

The Power of Compliments

And then I wondered if Brother Tueller’s comment that he made, oh, fifteen years ago, about me and about an appreciation of my efforts, if it was just my own vanity that was causing this acceleration. But really I don’t think it was, I think it was an indicator of the power that we have as individuals to lift others. And sometimes it may not be a big thing, it may be a very tiny thing, but in passing, we have the power, we have the capacity to lift others in a way that can be so positive, so wonderful. It gives me the incentive to want to greet people with friendliness, and wherever possible to say something that will complimentary to them. And make them feel that their life is of value and worthwhile.


Now we often have these feelings, and sometimes we act on them and sometimes we don’t . But I think it is important that we try to do it. And the kind of joy that comes from those kind of efforts, even those the effort may be small, the effect on people may be great, and long lasting. I never thought of that experience and the little comment in passing that Brother Tueller made when he was on the high council and I was also on the council until this morning when I was thinking about it. I think that is one of the things that binds us together as a people and helps us to enjoy the blessings that the Lord has for us, if we will try to do those things that the Spirit indicates that we should do.

 

Terrorism and September 2001

Today is the last day of September of 2001. It was a little over two weeks ago that we had the terrible terrorist attack on the United States and on the World Trade Center in New York and the Pentagon in Washington D.C. and of course, our leaders have been expressing concern and making efforts to mobilize the country to fight terrorism wherever it may occur if possible in the world.


Terrorism against liberty and this treatment is certainly the right thing that we should do as a country because we’re taught in the Book of Mormon that unless we have liberty, we’re not free to worship the Lord and follow those teachings that we’ve been given if we live under a system where dictatorship exists and in this case the radical fringes of the Muslim religion, the Taliban as they’re called, in Afghanistan, and the one radical leader in that group whose stated aim and purpose is to destroy the United States and all Christians. It certainly isn’t representative of what the Muslim religion is all about, but that’s their interpretation of it.

 

Uniqueness of Personality

I want to talk a little about uniqueness of personality. A song comes to mind, part of the words I remember. “There maybe other songs to sing, another fall, another spring, but there will never ever be another you, or another me.” Part of the reason the gospel helps us to feel unique and special, in all of God’s creation, each individual, each person is unique.


Each one has a mind that has the capability of communing with the Holy Spirit and to think our own thoughts, to interpret the circumstances of our lives in our own unique way. And to me, it is just incredible that no matter how many million or billions of individuals there are, as a part of the great creation of God, that each one is unique. Each one must be taught, each one must hear, each heart must be penetrated and each one must come to, if they choose to, to their own conviction of what reality is, and what is really important in our lives.


My own view is that as we interpret the circumstances of our lives, we either have the vision to see the hand of God and our great Creator, or we have the unique ability to be deceived by social customs by power, by the lust for things physical, or we have the capacity to commune with the Holy Spirit and see the design and the purpose of the great Creator.


This uniqueness of personality is a great testimony that each of God’s children has their own unique characteristics. We each can see the great vision of eternity or see the mundane and the things that debase and to destroy and lead to the downward path. The pathway is really quite simple; first we must enter in at the straight gate, we must hear, we must understand, we must have a desire to proceed and to grow and move closer to our Heavenly Parents. Then as we exercise those options that are available and realize that each one of us have the ability of seeing and understanding the hand of God.


The prophet Joseph was a great preacher of this fact. While talking to some of the brethren, he said, ‘You have no idea who I am, or what our eventual place will be’ and his great vision of individuality. Orson Pratt talked some about it in his book “The Seer” when he said that the process of creating is an individual thing. And once we have fully understood the purpose and extent of what the glory of God really is, then we can begin to move into those abilities that will help us to emulate our Heavenly Parents so that there is the chance, the opportunity, to know all things, to understand all things.

 

Understanding God’s Plan for You3

There is indeed a plan for our lives. It’s sometimes called the Plan of Happiness. I like to call it God’s perfect plan of life. There is not a problem of any kind that cannot come into our lives that the plan cannot resolve or help us resolve. Central to the plan is the atonement made for each of us by the Lord Jesus Christ. Though our sins or mistakes be as scarlet, they shall be as white as wool. This is the promise, this is the free gift that the Lord Jesus Christ, who every one of us here on the Earth, if we will but accept his offering in our behalf, indeed the price has been paid already. And if we refuse to accept it, why then it would be a waste as far as our life was concerned.


I’ve always loved to go to funerals. I love the spirit that is to be found in these sacred meetings. It seems to me that I come face to face to my own humanity when I come to a funeral. We’re all human. We have weaknesses, we’ve made mistakes, we have done less than we would like to have done perhaps, but the plan is such that if we will accept it, if we want to accept it, the scriptures promise us that we’ll be judged for the desires of our hearts, even though circumstance prevents us from doing many things that we should like to do or hope to do or dreamed of doing, those circumstances are sometimes immutable. There’s nothing we can do to change them. But the promise is that in the Lord’s due time, if we, with all our heart desire to accept his offering and then work for it, the promise is that if with all your hearts ye truly seek me, ye shall surely find me.


This is my witness in the name of the Lord, Jesus Christ, Amen.

 

Why do we have Spiritual Experiences?

I want to talk a little about the Priesthood lesson that I gave recently in the ward. I entitled my remarks for the lesson, “Why do we have Spiritual Experiences?” The background for this promise of the Lord, when He knew the time was approaching, and he had to leave His disciples, his disciples could not imagine how they could survive without him, considering the role he had played. He brought to them a completely new way of life. He taught such doctrines: love your enemies, do good to those who despitefully use you, blessed are the peace makers, gentleness was to be preferred over force, blessed are the little children, for such is the kingdom.


Though as we live in a world where violence and brute force had to be reckoned with, what was the effect of these teachings in their life? They were released from the anger and hatred and the feeling that came to them, this overpowering sense of peace and hope and joy. He said to them, “I will not leave you alone, so you have to go back to the evil and wickedness and pain in the world you knew before.” That the comforter, who is the Spirit of truth, will make possible the continuation of these wonderful experiences that you’ve had while I’ve been with you. He will bring all things to your remembrance and all of us have been given spiritual experiences in our lives.


A recent article that I’ve read by Elder Holland, he talks about why the Lord gives to us spiritual experiences, experiences to build our faith, to nourish us in following after the ways of the Lord.


I’m reminded of the conversation I had with Mark that day that he went into the mission home and we had a breakfast with him and we visited for a few minutes after. And about right before we left, I said, “Now Mark, you have some wonderful spiritual experiences that have brought you to this point where you’re now committed to go to the mission field and serve the Lord.” I reminded him of some of those experiences when he was a senior in High School. He was injured on the football field. He had to be taken on a stretcher, they called the ambulance to come get him and in the brain scan that they take, they found an aneurism on his brain, some kind of a growth and they didn’t know what had caused this, probably a series of heavy impacts that you get in football, but the neurosurgeon suggested that he really should have that aneurism taken out, that growth on his brain, so they consented to that. They opened his skull and removed the aneurism from his brain. Well, this was a time when he was the captain of the football team and highly thought of. And the senior class in high school voted him the most admired student. So then many of his friends at the Lone Peak high school came to the hospital where he had this treatment and poured out such a feeling of love and best wishes to him. And that was a marvelous experience in his life.


Another thing that the bishop mentioned in his comments during Mark’s reception, he said that he stepped into the cultural hall when the boys were playing basketball and Mark was standing back in the hall attempting to make 3-point shots. And he stood there and watched while Mark made ten three-point shots in a row. Now he was just amazed and he said, Mark, you have really got a talent and that’s the kind of young man that he was. A pleasant, good young man to be around, now proceeding to go on a mission.


And as we talked that day when he went into the mission home, the purpose of these spiritual experiences which was to convince him that indeed the path he had taken was correct. And I suggested that if he had any time to record some of those spiritual experiences in the beginning of his journal so that if he got to a point where he was discouraged or things were not going as well as he would have liked them to, and all of us face times of discouragement, that he could go back and refresh those feelings that he had at the time that these spiritual experiences had happened.
We are well acquainted with the teaching of Alma in the 32nd chapter where he compares faith to a seed and how that seed must be cared for and nourished and the spiritual experiences of our life is the nourishment, what we give to the seed of faith and we plant in our feelings a desire to do that the Lord wants us to do.


Now the role of the Holy Spirit in our lives and in the lives of Christ’s apostles as he was about to leave them was to bring to their remembrance all of these wonderful experiences that they had had while watching the master as he had taught the gospel and as he taught people and as he healed them, that all of these wonderful experiences would be brought to them. And indeed their conversion to his cause was not complete until after he had left when the rebirth of the Holy Spirit had come into his life. We all know that during the last supper the Savior was talking and Peter was thinking that the Lord should not wash his feet and the Savior said, either I wash your feet or you have no part of me. And Peter then heard and said, “Not only my feet, but my hands and my head.”


And his enthusiasm for his love for the Master was great, but the Savior said to him that before the cock would crow, the dawn of the new day would come, he would deny him three times and indeed as we know in the scriptures that did happen. But after the day of Pentacost, this great man Peter, the converting power of the Holy Spirit came into his life. He came out from in prison and to persecution by the Jewish councils and he felt pleased that he could be punished because of his faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.


And these spiritual experiences, unless we request them in our lives, unless we bring them up to date, and through the Holy Spirit we can do this, we can relive those moments in our lives that have been of great strength and great help to us and in gaining the faith and the testimony that we have.


An example in my own life that has always been of great help to me, when we lived in Hyrum 2nd Ward and was an early married man, I think I was president of the Elder’s Quorum at the time. We had maybe two of our children or no more than three. I was singing in the choir one day in Hyrum 2nd Ward in the old building and we were singing, “Jesus, Lover of my Soul, let me to they bosom fly.” And as I sang that song, the overwhelming power of the Holy Spirit came to me and just convinced me beyond doubt that Jesus was the lover of my soul and that he did care for me, that he loved me. And it was such a powerful and moving experience that I couldn’t even sing the rest of the song, I was so filled with emotion and with testimony that the thought of that song, even now, brings that back to my memory.


Some of the letters, etc. that I’ve written in the past, special sacred moments, and a witness comes that our companions are the right ones for us. I’m reminded of that beautiful musical number that says, “Behold, I stand at the door.” If we will open unto him, what will be the result? He says, “I will sup with you.” What does sup mean? The promise, “I will not leave you alone, I will come to you and make my abode with you.” So the spiritual experiences of our lives is the witness that we can make it.


Now the power of the opposition in this world is always poking at us: did we really have the experience? did any of this really happen? The ways of the world are always pecking away at us. We need the spiritual strength of each other. We need to come to the Sacrament table, and if we spend time in worship of the Lord, we will open ourselves so that the functions of the Holy Spirit can be operative in our lives. The question is, what are we becoming? We are all in a state of becoming something. Our spiritual experiences are the means of helping us stay on track, to stay on the straight and narrow way and it gives us the assurance that the direction of our life is in harmony with what the Lord would have us do.

 

The Beginning and the End—Our Savior

Today is December 21, 2003. I was asked by the Bishop two weeks ago to present a five minute talk in this sacrament meeting. I have written it out because of time restraints, and I thought with my record keeping as it is, I will record it here so it will be in a place where it will not get lost.


What a privilege it is to be here with you in this sacrament meeting. To feel the power of the Holy Spirit in this meeting. On the outskirts of Bethlehem, some very privileged shepherds heard the angels announcement.

 

For unto you is born this day, in the city of David, a Savior which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you. Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes in a manger. Suddenly with there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly hosts praising God and saying, Glory to God in the highest and on earth Peace and goodwill toward men.

 

In my minds eye I imagine billions of voices were raised in singing. All of the spirit children of our father in heaven that were destined to receive their body of flesh and bone on this earth. At last the time had come that the Lord God Jehovah was to receive His body of flesh and bone, and thus the greatest part of the great plan of happiness was being implemented. We were all there on the great day when the plan was made known unto us. When our elder brother said, “Here am I, send me, and Thy will shall be done.” All of the holy prophets from our earthly father Adam have looked forward to this great day.


May I tell you a true story? A young bishop of three months was interviewing a faithful mother when a voice called out that a little boy had just been run over in the church parking lot. The mother instantly called out, “oh my boy!” The bishop had apparently pulled the gear selector out of park and the car started to roll back. The boy fell out and the car had run over his head. The bishop could see that he was dead. The father came running and put his hand under his head and pleaded with God to spare his life. But the blood coming around his fingers had tested that the boy was dead.


In such a moment of grief and despair, where can we turn? Many of us have had near death tragedies in our lives with our families, and some have not been spared, but had to go through major tragedies.


One of the names by which we know our Savior—He is the Beginning and the End. He is the end of sorrow, pain, and despair. He is the end of loneliness, hunger, and thirst. The end of darkness, death, and grief. He is the beginning of hope, the beginning of gratitude. The beginning of the understanding of love, the beginning of happiness, of light and peace, and everything that is good.


We sing, Oh, come let us adore him and Joy to the World. Christmas is a time of homecoming, a time of greeting, a time of remembering, of thanksgiving. A time of warm hearts and hugs. The spirit of Christmas is the light of Christ. No mortal tongue can express the fullness of heart, warmth, and peace that the Son of God has brought to us, even in times of tragedy.


He told his apostle John, “Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If any man hear my voice and open the door, I will come into him, and sup with him, and he with me.”It is my prayer that each of us will open our doors and our hearts to him who is the author and the finisher of our faith.


In the name of Jesus Christ, our Savior and Redeemer, amen.


Endnotes

1,2,3 Taken from Funeral Speech for John Barrett, August 10, 2001

 

Complete History pdf

watchPictureswatch

Preschool (Allen 2008a)
     
Elementary School (Allen 2008a)
         
High School (Allen 2008a)
           
Farm Life (Allen 2008a)
 
Mission
 
Marriage
           
Allen Family Slides 1949-1985
View Allen Slides

 

listenAudio Recordingslisten

File Source File Source
Introduction mp3 (Allen 2008b) High school mp3 (Allen 2008b)
Preschool mp3 Allen (2008b) Farming mp3 Allen (2008b)
Elementary school mp3 Allen (2008b) Mission mp3 Allen (2008b)

 

viewHeadstonesview

n/a

 

Map of Events


View family group record 2 pdf View family group record 1 pdf
Parents Source
Father: Austin David Allen Birth: 1889 Death: 1961 Allen (2010)
Mother: Vesta Rose Birth: 1898 Death: 1985 Allen (2010)
  Marriage: June 22, 1921 Salt Lake City, Utah Allen (2010)

Other

Spouse:

Georgia Obray Birth: 1892 Death: 1920 Allen (2010)
  Marriage: June 25, 1913 Logan, Cache, Utah Allen (2010)
Siblings  
1st Child: Austin Douglas Allen* Birth: 1914 Death: 2006 Allen (2010)
2nd Child: Drue Allen* Birth: 1916 Death: 2004 Allen (2010)
3rd Child: Reed Woodrow Allen* Birth: 1917 Death: 1920 Allen (2010)
4th Child: Stillborn Allen* Birth: 1920 Death: 1920 Allen (2010)
5th Child: Claron Wray Allen Birth: 1922 Death: 2001 Allen (2010)
6th Child: Gloy Allen Birth: 1923 Death: 2005 Allen (2010)
7th Child: Gwynne Allen Birth: 1926 Death: 2000 Allen (2010)
8th Child: Robert Gaylen Allen Birth: 1928 Death: Living Allen (2010)

* Children from marriage with Georgia Obray

View family group record pdf
Spouses Source
Husband: Robert Gaylen Allen Birth: 1928 Death: Living Allen (2010)
Wife: Norine Butler Birth: 1927 Death: Living Allen (2010)
  Marriage: May 24, 1951 Logan, Cache, Utah Allen (2010)
Children  
1st Child: Gae Lyn Allen Birth: 1952 Death: Living Allen (2010)
2nd Child: Lee Ann Allen Birth: 1953 Death: Living Allen (2010)
3rd Child: Robert Dean Allen Birth: 1955 Death: Living Allen (2010)
4th Child: Janene Allen Birth: 1957 Death: Living Allen (2010)
5th Child: June Allen Birth: 1959 Death: 1959 Allen (2010)
6th Child: Marjorie Allen Birth: 1961 Death: Living Allen (2010)
7th Child: Mary Jo Allen Birth: 1963 Death: Living Allen (2010)
8th Child: Teri Sue Allen Birth: 1964 Death: Living Allen (2010)
9th Child: Richard Wray Allen Birth: 1968 Death: Living Allen (2010)

 

Ancestors of Robert Gaylen Allen

Surname List

Alexandersen , Allen , Andersen , Anderson , Barber , Bendtsen , Benson , Brown , Christensen , Christenson , Christiansen , Cunley , Eaton , Ejlertsen , Hansen , Haskell , Helgensen , Hill , Hudson , Jensen , Jeppeson , Johnson , Jorgensen , Kipper , Larsen , Leavens , Lee , Lewis , Manning , Messenger , Monks , Nielsen , Olsen , Partridge , Pedersen , Pederson , Rasmussen , Rose , Sorensen , Sorenseon , Sornsen , Stirrup , Thayer , Thorsen , Unsworth , Urmston , Vail , Wray

 

 

 

 

Descendents of Robert Gaylen Allen

Surname List

Abramson , Allen , Burtenshaw , Butler , Elmer , Emch , Hart , Henderson , Humble , Jones , Larson , Lindsey , Madsen , McAllister , Millar , Miller , Pehrson , Saunders , Sawyer , Shumway , Taylor , Thomas , Wayman

Individual Ordinances

Status Ordinance Completion Date Location
check
Baptism May 11, 1936  
check
Confirmation May 11, 1936  
check
Initiatory October, 14, 1948 Salt Lake
check
Endowment October, 14, 1948 Salt Lake

 

Sealings

Status Ordinance Completion Date Location
check
Sealing to Parents Born in Covenant  
check
Sealing to Spouse May 25, 1951 Logan

Sources

 

Allen, Robert Gaylen. (2008a). Oral description of picture album. Transcribed by Sam Lindsey. Allen and Butler. http://www.allenbutlerhistory.com/webpages/_living/robertallen/

 

Allen, Robert Gaylen. (2008b). Oral recording of life history: An autobiography. Transcribed and edited by Sam and Amy Lindsey. Allen and Butler. http://www.allenbutlerhistory.com/webpages/_living/robertallen/

 

Allen, Robert Gaylen. (2009). Oral description of complete picture collection. Transcribed by Teri Sue Allen Abramson. Allen and Butler. http://www.allenbutlerhistory.com/webpages/_living/robertallen/

 

Allen, Robert Gaylen. (2010). Personal records. Allen and Butler. http://www.allenbutlerhistory.com/webpages/_living/
robertallen/