Sunday, June 29, 2008

Cherish Virtue

Today was a lesson on Priesthood power. I taught the gospel doctrine class today and the lesson was on Alma 13-16. Alma and Amuelek were teaching the people in Ammonihah. Some of the people accepted the gospel but most did not. In fact those who did not killed the wives and children of those who did. As a torture to Alma and Amuelek, they were made to watch the carnage. Amuelek begged Alma to use his Priesthood power to call down the powers of heaven to stop it. Alma explained that it didn't work that way. Later in prison after days of torture and abuse they excercised their Priesthood power and pulled the prison walls down and killed the chief judge and lawyers.

Later today in Stake Priesthood Meeting President Brewer spoke about Priesthood Power and he related it to the story of Jesus when the woman touched his coat and he asked who touched him, and felt the virtue went out of him. President Brewer then went on to explain how the power of the Priesthood in expressed in the virtuous acts of service. President Ogles told me afterwards that the story of Jesus and the Women in the Book of Luke the word Virtue is spanish is translated power ( Poder). The closing song was "Dearest Children God is Near You" The second verse was perfect summary of President Brewer's talk. Afterwards I complimented President Brewer on his talk and the perfect selection of the closing song. He said it was just one of those wonderful gospel coincidences.

Dearest children, holy angels
Watch your actions night and day,
And they keep a faithful record
Of the good and bad you say.
Cherish virtue! Cherish Virtue!
God will bless the pure in heart.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Cousin Matt

My cousin Matt Whitaker and his family ( wife Niecia, son Kie, and daughters Sophie and Karisa) made a stop over on their way to Northern California for a family reunion. Matt is the youngest son of my Dad's youngest brother. He studied cinematography at BYU and for several years he worked for the LDS Church's film making studios. He was involved in many of the seminary videos and some of the feature films used in the Joseph Smith Memorial Auditorium. He was the screen writer for the film Saints and Soldiers. He is now working on movie called Truth and Treason. It is the story of Hans Huber, a teenager who led a resistance movement in Nazi Germany. He has also done some great documentaries, one one the true story of Hans Huber, another on Micro Credit Financing in third world countries. I have invested some of the WFIC in his current film project. It is a high risk investment as investments go, but I have great confidence in Matt's abilities and taste in film making. It will depend on his group's ability to raise the necessary funds to complete the project. Watch for it in the theaters in a year or two.

Reno Rodeo

Every summer the Reno Rodeo comes to town and it adds around $100 million to the local economy. This year the contributed around $100 to the mix. We went to the Rodeo for family night on Monday. Thea took her friend Brittany and with five gallons of $4.00 gas, barbecued pork sandwiches, lemonade, fries, funnel cakes, and grandstand tickets later we are Reno Rodeo fans. These are professional rodeo athletes and they put on a great show. The pace was fast with a little bit of all the events. Bareback bronco riding, saddle bronco riding, steer wrestling, team roping, barrel racing, and the big event, bull riding. They had mutton busting, ( 5 -6 year olds riding black faced sheep), clowns, stagecoaches, and draft horse teams pulling fright wagons. The show lasted about 2 1/2 hours. We could have spent longer looking at the exhibits, vendors and carnival rides. I have wanted to go to the Reno Rodeo for 15 years, ever since we moved here; but it seems that I was either at a Waddell and Reed trip or a scout outing. I hope we can go next year.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Thea's Kayak Trip

Today Thea and I went on a Kayak trip to Caples Lake. Caples is in between Carson Pass and Kirkwood Ski Resort. It was a beautiful day, with big puffy cumulus clouds. It was a little bit windy. There was still snow in the mountains. We went to the river inlet on the other side of the lake and had a picnic lunch of ham, cheese, triskets, jerky and dried fruit. We had a good day together.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

New Musketeers

Sara's friend Stan Gudmundson came out from Colorado for a visit. The Gudmundsons lived in Gardnerville for a number of years prior to their move to Colorado. I promised him and Sara a flight in the Musketeer. Three and half years ago my friend Don Dixon and I started to take flying lessons. After we got our licenses we bought into a partnership with Adam Wiese to own a 1967 Beechcraft Musketeer. We've been flying it around for the last two years.

It was a beautiful morning for a flight. We flew up over Kingsbury Grade and then over Lake Tahoe and the Lake Tahoe airport. then it was over Luther pass and through Hope Valley bake into the Carson Valley and back home to the Minden Airport. The weather was calm the Musketeer was in fine form and I still remembered how to fly.

Friday, June 13, 2008

The Last Concert Bash

When Sara was 16 she started playing the cello with the Carson Symphony. Here she is pictured with the director David Bugli. When we moved to Nevada we told the kids they could each take up an instrument as long as they continued playing the piano. They took lessons from Vicki Sweet our nieghbor across the street and Sara announced that she would be playing the cello. She started taking lessons from an elderly sister in the nieghborhood, Hellen Jones. After a few years with Hellen she started playing with the Carson Symphony. Over the years they have both improved quite a bit. Since Sara will be going away to Law school this fall, this was her last concert for a while. The Concert was held outside at the Governors Mansion. It was a beautiful day and a half decent concert. Sara decided that she wanted to throw a party for the symphony members at our house after the concert. Of course this would require relandscaping the back yard which she and Jared have been working on for the last month, a complete cleaning of the house. reworking all the outside lights, and stringing a variety of additional outside lighting. The house and yard were beautiful. Sara prepared a ton of food, enough for at least a hundred people. We had about 20 people come and it was a very nice evening. I think Sara was pleased with the evening.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Early Morning Visitors

Tuesday morning about 2:45 AM we get a call from the Douglas County sheriffs office. O dark thirty calls from the Sheriff all always a little unnerving. They asked me if I owned two horses, a dark one and a white one. I was relieved that it was the horses and not one of the kids. I told her that I had two horses and assumed they got out. Then the dispatch office said the horses were going up and down Kimmerling Street and there were two officers in the front yard with the horses. I got dressed real fast and went outside. It was very dark but sure enough one was dark and one was light colored so I figured it was GS and Zanna. An officer led one and I led the other. When we got two the barn, I saw two horses in the barn, our two horses. I was still half asleep but I turned on the lights and realized, "These aren't our horses. I told the officers they could leave the horses with us until they figured out where they belonged. Turned out they belonged to a family on Rojo and they suspect fowl play from a neighbor. They said that there have been a number of strange goings on at their house lately. They keep five horses on their property so maybe a neighbors doesn't like horses so much.

Youth Conference

This year for Youth Conference the Carson City Stake combined with the two Reno Stakes for a combined stake Youth Conference. The conference was held at UNR and the kids stayed in the dorms and the activities, classes and dances were held in the new student union building on campus.

There were over 600 kids in attendance. They had a popular EFY speaker and a former member of the Seatle Seahawks who was a returned missionary from Russia. They had two dances and a "quilting" service project meeting. Food was provided for in the dorms.

It was quite a walk from the Dorms where the sleeping and eating arrangements were to the Student Union building. So the organizers wanted to position "security people" along the way. It was to help the kid navigate to the right place, keep them from wandering off to the wrong places and provide security for the kids at night. I was asked to be one of the security. I was positioned outside the new library on the way to the Student Union building. So all the kids past me coming and going to the activities. Everything seemed pretty well organized and it was very entertaining watching the girls try to navigate the walk while trying to learn how to walk in poor fitting stiletto heels and skirts blowing in the wind. Most of them gave up on the heels and went barefoot. Our ward wasn't so well organized and Thea ended up making arrangements for kids luggage and transportation. Her leaders said she was a good leader. She was mostly annoyed.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

La Ramita

My latest calling in the Church is to be Second Counselor in the Eagle Valley Branch Presidency. The Eagle Valley Branch is a Spanish Speaking Branch of the church. They come from all over Douglas County rather than a specific area like the Wards in the area. We have 5 familys that come out on the regular basis and a couple of more that we see once in a while. If all of the actives were to come at the same time we would have about 27 people. We have a few individuals who like myself are non latinos assigned to the branch to help with leadership. Callis Ogles is the Branch President. He has worked with the various Spanish units of the church for many years. He sees the members like his children and shows a lot of love and concern towards them. Even though the branch is tiny compared to a Ward he makes sure everything is done just like in a big ward. Callis served a spanish speaking mission to Phillidelphia. Curtis Campbell is the Elders Quorum President and has served in spanish branches a lot over the last few years and his wife is from Cuba and they speack spanish at home. He served a spanish speaking mission to Florida. Sister Canon is a counselor in the Relief Society Presidency. She served a mission to Lithowania and never spoke spanish but she is learning amazingly well. The members come from Peru, Columbia, and Mexico at the present time. Some are here illegally and some have green cards and some have worker permits. Many of the illegals have been here so long that their children born in the country are legal citizens of the US.

It is interesting to me that the church does not make a big deal out of the legal status of their citizenship. The Book of Mormon states that no one is led to this land except he be led by the Lord and the Doctrine and Covenants state the everyone should hear the gospel in their own tongue. So the church orgainizes branches for these good people.

There are many challeges that the Latino members face. Consider these issues and remember this is a very small group of folks. One family had a terrible accident where a baby fell off a changing table and died. The couple's other child was taken away by the authorities and put up for adoption and the father is currently serving a prison term for the incident while his wife who is pregnant again will have to have there baby alone. I can't imagine that happening to a white family in this country. Medical and Dental work is done by unlicensed praticioners in their homes. Many of these practicioners are professionals from other countrys but do have have American licenses. There are many horrible lending practices that are plyed to these people. One member told me that to buy a car he had to agree to a 30% interest rate on the car loan. The dealer said that since he did not have a drivers license that he would have to pay it. Many have been in the country illegally and do not have drivers licenses and valid social security numbers. With no social security numbers they do not pay income taxes but they also do not get other services that needy families might be entitledd to. They are actually very careful drivers because they are so afraid of being pulled over by the police and the consequences of driving without a license. Many of them tend to work in areas where most of the employees are in similar circumstancs, ie. fast food, house cleaning, waiters, construction related work or assembly jobs. There jobs are tenuous at best. Subject to seasonality and I suspect that if the economy weakens further their jobs will be some of the first to go. If the government ever were to get serious about verifying social security numbers for payroll taxes that many of them would loose there current jobs and not be able to get new ones. They would be forced to return to Mexico after living here for 10 -15 years and having children that are US citizens. There are millions of people in similar circumstances so I suppose it would create havic in the work place and displace millions of people from there homes. So maybe the government would not take such steps but there is a groundswell of opposition to illegal imigration in the country. Those who are here legally are finding it more difficult and expensive to maintain their worker permits that have to be renewed every year. One family has lost the home they bought largely due to preditory lending practices. Another family built their home but had to use credit cards to finance much of it and are being crushed by the credit card interest. One family actually got divorced and remarried to American Citizens so they could get legal status in this country. It as all just on paper. They remained living together during the process. Such marriages are fairly common and a thriving business for those who provide the service. We had to disfellowship them from the church for breaking of marriage vows until we could help them get divorced again and remarried. We have since restored them to full fellowship in the church..

In spite of their challenges these folks are happy and consider themselves blessed to be living in America. They still consider this a land of opportunity and feel they are doing much, much better than if they still lived in their native countrys. The lack of opportunity, corruption and oppresion of poor people is much worse in their native countrys. They love the gospel and excersise a simple but profound faith. It is my pleasure to serve amongst them.

It is a challenge for me to relearn spanish after 30 years from my missionary time. I have been blessed with the gift of interpretation of tounges. I understand 80-90% of what they say in church and 50-60% of the things they talk about outside of church. My comprehension is far better than it ever was while on my mission. Speaking is another matter. It is coming back but it is hard work for me. I just can'nt get my lips around a lot of words. I'm getting better and everyone is very patient with me.