I submitted this to the Peninsula Daily News but I guess they decided not to publish, so I thought I’d share it here.
I’m 49 years old. In my lifetime, the closest thing that I can relate to today’s COVID-19 pandemic, is 9-11. The world as we knew it had changed. The loss of life was heartbreaking. The uncertainty of the future made everyone uneasy. Then something incredible happened. People turned to God. The nation came together. I had never felt the need to pray so fervently.
Fast forward to today as we have a global pandemic. Currently the loss of life globally is almost 10 times the loss of life of 9/11. Yet, I don’t see the nation turning to God.
Sunday we cannot gather at church, but our congregation of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints will be holding a special day of fasting and prayer in our homes, asking God to bless and inspire our leaders to combat COVID-19. We will pray for those suffering from the physical, emotional, spiritual, and economic impact of the coronavirus. We will pray for relief of this global pandemic.
In fasting we will abstain from eating for two meals. We take that money, (more if we can), and give a generous donation to the church for the poor and the needy. Also, we can designate some money to go to a humanitarian fund which is used globally.
Whatever your faith, please consider joining us in this special day of fasting and mighty prayer this Sunday, March 29, 2020. Pray for heaven’s help and blessings. Take the money that you would have spent on those two meals (or more if you are able), and donate it to some reputable charity that can help those affected by COVID-19.
It sure seems like we are living in the last days. A short time ago I had not heard of the coronavirus or COVID-19 as it is now called. We weren’t thinking of global pandemics. We were thinking about what to do for our 25th anniversary. A cruise? A trip whale watching? A getaway to Victoria, Canada? Those are all currently not a possibility because of the world conditions in which we now live. I think what has many people on edge is that we don’t know what life will be like tomorrow, next week, or next month. Almost every day this week I’ve woke up to some new restriction, more deaths, and more confirmed cases. As of this writing, there are 329,935 confirmed cases and 14,386 deaths worldwide. (Source: Johns Hopkins)
China was the first to see the outbreak but Italy has surpassed China in deaths. It’s frightening. Italy at the time of this writing has 5,476 deaths. That is huge for any nation, but for a country the size of Italy, it’s shocking and devastating. We have a missionary in Italy from our ward. He’s been quarantined in his apartment for several weeks. Now with the new travel restrictions announced this week by the U.S. government, it sounds like all native U.S. missionaries will be returning home. They will be self-quarantined for 2 weeks, then be reassigned somewhere in the USA. The missionaries here in Washington cannot have in-person contact with members or investigators. We are being asked to not congregate in groups larger than 10. So church gatherings worldwide have been cancelled. Today was the second week of having church in our living room. Gavin, who is 14 and holds the Aaronic priesthood, prepared and passed the sacrament. I knelt in our living room and blessed it. Both Sundays have been special and spiritual. Last Sunday we had a testimony meeting. This Sunday my daughter Emma gave a talk on Joseph Smith’s First Vision and the Restoration. I gave a talk and spoke about September 11th and how important having a prophet was to me back then and how it reminded me of what we were going through now. I miss the social interaction with those other members of our congregation (ward). The worst part is that we have no idea how long this will continue. April? May? longer?
Wednesday I woke up and my phone was going crazy with messages. There had been a 5.7 magnitude earthquake in Salt Lake City, Utah. My daughter Julienne lives south of Salt Lake in Provo, and my daughter Maggie lives north of Salt Lake in Logan. So on top of all the panic buying from the COVID-19 virus, now people were really going to stock up.
Yesterday was Saturday, and we went grocery shopping here in Port Angeles, WA. We usually shop for our household and for my wife’s parents who are elderly. We’ve done this for a while, but now, it is dangerous for them to be in the public. The elderly, especially with underlying health problems, cannot fight this infection and are more likely to die from the coronavirus. Many of the shelves were bare. Bread was mostly gone. Cleaning supplies, especially disinfectants, were gone. Hand sanitizer was all gone and has been for a long time. There are limits on how many soft soap and canned goods you can buy. Toilet paper and paper towel shortages have been common. The soup isle was mostly empty except for cream of mushroom. I found a few cans of chicken noodle which I picked up. The hamburger was out. It definitely wouldn’t be easy to find the ingredients you wanted to follow a recipe. Something would be out. Luckily I found some Diet Coke.
This week I was thinking of how crazy it all was and literally wondered if maybe I was dreaming. It all seemed so strange. The kids are all being home schooled now because all the schools are closed. They can’t play with other children for the fear of spreading the coronavirus. We can’t let them visit their grandparents for fear of getting them sick. These are really scary and difficult times. We’ve had to have a lot of talks with our children to answer their questions and calm their fears. We are living in the last days. “And all things shall be in commotion; and surely, men’s hearts shall fail them; for fear shall come upon all people” (D&C 88:89–91).
A few weeks ago before all of the shortages, both my wife and I both felt prompted that we needed to stock up a bit on our food storage. We’ve always been counseled by the Church to have a food storage for times of need. We got rid of a lot of it in Utah before moving and haven’t ever really stocked up like we should have here in Washington. After stocking up a bit, I felt at peace. We didn’t go crazy, but just enough to cover us if we couldn’t get food for a month. Where we live out on the peninsula, if the highway 101 were blocked for some reason, like an earthquake or landslide, there would be no easy way to truck in food. It has always worried me. The Lord has said, “If ye are prepared ye shall not fear” (D&C 38:30).
President Nelson sent this video which was very reassuring.
My poor daughter Julienne lost her job because they’ve pretty much closed down the mall where she worked due to the COVID-19 virus. BYU has shut down and told the students to go home and finish their classes online. The government has said to stay indoors and practice social distancing. Church has been cancelled. Pretty much all of her social life is on pause. So she is making the best of it and made this video:
The economy is not looking good. People are losing their jobs. Restaurants have closed. Theaters are closed. Disneyland and Disney World have closed. The NBA has stopped playing. March madness was cancelled. Concerts everywhere are cancelled. Trade shows and conferences are cancelled. Hotels are empty. Nobody is flying. The airlines are in trouble. The strip in Las Vegas is shut down. We are heading into a massive recession. My business was affected early on because the factories in China were ordered to remain closed after Chinese New Year. We couldn’t get any product. We still haven’t received any of the product that was ordered back in December. Now they’ve closed Universities and all of the University stores have closed. That is where we sell a lot of our cables and charging cords. For our other customers which are not college stores, in some states they have actually ordered people to stay at home. So if our customers’ doors are closed, that will further slow down our sales. Already this year our business is way down. It makes me nervous, but I know that the Lord is in charge. There are things out of my control and I can’t change those things. I can be close to my family. I can trust in God. I can pray. I can be kind to others who are in difficult circumstances. It is hard for everyone in different ways. There are those who have lost loved ones. There will likely be many more. We have no idea where this is going.
In troubled times like these, I’m so grateful for a prophet. President Nelson’s words have comforted me: “I know the great and marvelous blessings that God has in store for those who love Him and serve Him.”
The only thing to which I can compare what we are going through currently, is after 9/11. After the tragedy of September 11th, I was nervous about the world we were living in. I was 31 years old. I had a wife and two small children. I had a home mortgage and a car payment. I wasn’t sure what was ahead. Was the next world war coming? Were we to be fearful of terrorists everywhere? Would we ever fly again? Would we ever congregate in large numbers? I so looked forward to hearing from the prophet at the next general conference. We really didn’t have the means for the prophet to send out videos to the members of the Church like we do now. So we waited for general conference. His words reassured me that things would be OK. He quoted Joseph Smith and said, “No unhallowed hand can stop the work from progressing; persecutions may rage, mobs may combine, armies may assemble, calumny may defame, but the truth of God will go forth boldly, nobly, and independent, till it has penetrated every continent, visited every clime, swept every country, and sounded in every ear, till the purposes of God shall be accomplished, and the Great Jehovah shall say the work is done”
I’m thankful to live in a time where technology allows me to make a video call to my mother back in Utah and speak to her for over an hour. She too is lonely and gets bored. She is in the age group that needs to be extra cautious with the social distancing. In the click of a button I can see and talk with both of my daughters in Logan and Provo, Utah. I’m thankful to be able to have the Come Follow Me program which makes having church at home easier. We have the lesson plans. We know what to study. The Lord has prepared us for the last days. God will do His work. Let us turn to Him in prayer. Let us Hear Him and what He wants to speak to our hearts.
As an update, 4/10/2020, the death toll is now tragically over 100,000 worldwide.
As an update, 4/27/2020, the death toll is now shocking. It’s over 209,000 worldwide.
As an update, 5/8/2020. The death toll is over 270,000 worldwide.
This video took way longer than it should have. Back in the October 2014 General Conference, Elder Neil L. Andersen of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, invited everyone to consider recording Joseph Smith’s account of the First Vision in our own words. I tried doing an audio recording of everyone reading it during a family home evening. My digital recorder battery ran out half way through and the kids were not into it all. Failure.
I kept thinking about it. Then last year I started recording it on video, but I could never get enough time when the family was all together. Finally one night, we recorded the video part. But the real time needed is in the editing. So again, I put it on the back burner… for a long time. So these videos were recorded last year. But, I’ve finally finished it. I ran out of time and wanted to do more, but I had to call it good. I hope you enjoy it.
Joseph Smith at the age of 14, prays to God to be given some direction in his life. He miraculously sees a vision of God the Father and His Son, Jesus Christ. I believe in Joseph Smith’s words. I believe that he was called as a prophet to reorganize and re-establish Jesus Christ’s Church on earth in preparation for the Second Coming of our Savior.
I am currently in Detroit, Michigan making a connecting flight from Harrisburg, PA to Seattle, WA. It was a ridiculously early flight which boarded at 5:10 a.m. I wanted to get home so I would still have some of my Saturday with my family back in Port Angeles, WA, but wowza! What a long day of travel and setting the alarm to wake up at 2:45 a.m. (that is 11:45 p.m. pacific time)… yeah… not so fun. But, luckily I was able to sleep for most of the 2-hour flight.
After landing in Detroit, as I made my way to the connecting gate, I spotted a McDonald’s and since I knew the next leg of the flight is a long one, I stopped to grab an egg and cheese biscuit. It’s my go-to breakfast item, which is complimented with any icy Diet Coke. It was crowded and I maneuvered to a spot where I could put the lid on my refreshing soda. I had stopped next to a couple who were eating their breakfast. I smiled and nodded at the gentleman, which is my normal polite thing I do when I come into eye contact with someone. He then surprised me by speaking to me, and asked, “Where are you headed?” I said, “Seattle, how about you?” He said, “Salt Lake.” I said, “Oh is that home for you?” He then told me that they were from Detroit but were heading on a ski vacation. I said I was actually originally from the Salt Lake area and that Salt Lake City was definitely the right place to go for skiing. Then he asked me what they should do today since they have some time to kill? I thought for a second and said, “You should definitely see Temple Square.” I could see by the look on his face and his wife’s face that they didn’t want to go there. As someone who has lived in the Salt Lake area most of my life, I explained that it was the number one place where I took people who came from out of town.
They didn’t show much interest and asked about the zoo. I told them that it was a really fun zoo and I told them about Ruth’s Diner as a great place to eat close to Hogle Zoo. I also mentioned City Creek and that there was a lot to do downtown. The conversation wound down and then I was off to my gate.
As I walked away I thought that it was too bad that they seemed to have a negative perception of Temple Square. It is always the highlight of everyone’s visit, whether they’ve come from France or from North Carolina, everyone really loves their visit.
So if you are reading this and you are wondering what to do in Salt Lake City, nobody ever regrets going to see Temple Square. In fact, what I’ve heard most people say is that they wished that they had more time. There is a lot of history and the temple itself is beautiful. I love Temple Square, my wife loves Temple Square, and our children love to visit Temple Square. You will enjoy it if you are alone, with your family, or even with a big group. I should mention that I know that they are doing some renovations currently, but I’ve heard they are adding even more things for visitors to see. In the meantime, expect a little construction. (This was written March 7, 2020)
OK. One last thing. Here is an insider tip. If you really want to have a memorable experience that you will look back on fondly for the rest of your life, catch a live performance of the Tabernacle Choir at Temple Square. Every Sunday since 1929, the perform a radio and TV program called “Music and the Spoken Word.” It is a free performance every Sunday morning. Doors open at 8:30 a.m. Trust me on this. This will be the crowning event of your trip to Salt Lake City! After hearing the choir, spend some time on Temple Square. It is one of my favorite places in the world. You won’t regret it. Whatever hesitation you might have, it isn’t warranted and you’ll be happy you took my advice. Drop me a line and let me know how you liked it.
I watched this presentation by Sharon Eubank and thought that I would share it. I love how she compares our lives, which is our unique masterpiece, to art. It’s worth the time to watch what she has to say.
As archaeology gets more high-tech, we seem to be finding more and more about the ancient inhabitants of America.
I’m fascinated to hear about discoveries of the ancient civilizations who lived right here on the American continent. I don’t remember hearing much about great civilizations the built temples and cities. I only heard about the native Americans who lived in teepees and moved around with the seasons to get food.
Recently a friend posted an articleabout a lost North American medieval city, Cahokia, which was bigger than Paris. It is located in East St. Louis, in Southern Illinois.
Artist’s recreation of downtown Cahokia, with Monk’s Mound at its center.
At the city’s apex in 1050, the population exploded to as many as 30,000 people. It was the largest pre-Columbian city in what became the United States, bigger than London or Paris at the time. How cool is that? A huge civilization that we know virtually nothing about.
It’s not next to Palmyra, NY, where Joseph Smith was given the gold plates, a record of ancient inhabitants, but it sheds light on a population that was here for which we do not have much information.
I have personally traveled to the Ocmulgee national monument in Macon, GA several times. I’ve walked to the top of the grand temple mound and have gone around to the other mounds. It is worth the visit. These people disappeared around 900 AD to the best of our knowledge.
These temple mounds are similar to other mounds found in Mississippi, Ohio, and elsewhere in the USA. They are also similar to Mayan temples in Central America. In Macon, GA, they found bows and arrows which were used for hunting and wars. Deep trenches were excavated around the city possibly for defense. It’s amazing to think how many people it would take to carry dirt by hand to build these mounds. This was a large civilization that engaged in commerce, war, metal work, and farming 2,000-3,000 years ago.
National Geographic recently did a video and article on a huge Mayan find in Guatemala where they found more than 60,000 previously unknown Mayan structures, part of a vast network of cities, fortifications, farms and highways. Source
So what does this all mean for the Book of Mormon? For almost 200 years, critics have scoffed at the idea that there was a large civilization in the Americas. More and more, we are finding out that there indeed were more people living here than we had previously known. But at the end of the day, that isn’t going to convince anyone of the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon. That will always come personally, as someone earnestly reads it, and turns to God and asks with sincerity and real intent if it is true.
I can tell you my witness has been that this Book is ancient, it is written by prophets, and it came to us just as Joseph Smith said, from an angel of God, translated by the gift and power of God. There is no other explanation. It rings true from start to finish. I read from it every day and I am continually taking notes and learning new things.
Here is a 60-second explanation:
Recently The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints released new videos depicting The Book of Mormon. They give you a good idea of what the book is all about. We’ve enjoyed watching these as a family. It brings to life these ancient prophets and helps one visualize what it might have been like in 600 BC.
My hope is with all of these ancient findings, at least there can be one more thing we can check off the list that the critics point to saying the book cannot be true. For me, I’m seeing evidence everywhere to back up the claims of the Book of Mormon. But come what may, my faith is in the writings of the book, not in the things archaeologists are digging up.
This is a fantastic way to remember the true meaning of Christmas this Christmas eve.
I’m grateful for Jesus Christ and love to remember Him, His birth, His example of kindness to all, His life, His Atonement and Sacrifice for each of us, and His resurrection bringing life beyond the grave to each of us.
There is no star in Bethlehem today, but we can be the light in the world bringing others to Christ. Wise men (and women) still seek Him. Merry Christmas! I hope you enjoy this video.
The call went out to have a participants for a variety show for our ward church Christmas party in Port Angeles. I love Vocal Point and for years I thought it would be fun to do a skit to this number “Primarily Vocal Point” (A cappella Tribute to Children’s Songbook Primary Songs). My only regret is that I didn’t do it sooner when Maggie was still living with us, but it turned out pretty well. Oh, and TV adds like 50 lbs so I hear.
My wife and kids are good sports for having done this. The song starts off with us doing carpool karaoke singing in the car.
We go through and sing:
Give said the little stream
I hope they call me on a mission
Do as I’m doing
My Heavenly Father loves me
Jesus wants me for a sunbeam
Pioneer children sang as they walked
Book of Mormon Stories
I hope that you enjoy us have a little fun and being silly.
I have been blessed in my life to have had some wonderful examples, leaders, and friends. As I have thought today about someone who exemplifies Christlike service, my mission president, now an Apostle, Neil L. Andersen, has been on my mind.
He was called at a young age to be a mission president. He still had small children. The whole family became our family in Bordeaux, France. He dedicated those 3 years, laboring along our sides as missionaries, probably thinking that he would go back to his regular life afterwards. He was soon after called as a General Authority, and was again assigned to Europe and Brazil. Later in 2009 he was called as an Apostle of the Lord Jesus Christ.
As a Servant of Jesus Christ, he has dedicated his life to the Lord. Elder Andersen now spends his days ministering to those around the globe. He testifies of the birth, life, and mission of Jesus Christ so powerfully that the Spirit witnesses the truthfulness of his words.
My faith in Jesus Christ has been strengthened time and again as I have listened and learned from Elder Andersen. When we have had mission reunions, despite it being a busy weekend with General Conference and other meetings, he always takes the time to meet each member of every former missionary’s family and shake their hand. I know that he is called of God to be a special witness of the Savior.
While others end their careers in their 60’s and 70’s and retire, modern-day apostles work steadfastly to prepare the world for the Second Coming of Jesus Christ. I’ve watched as Elder Andersen leads such a very busy schedule. Rather than slowing down, playing more golf, spending unlimited time with grandchildren, etc., he continues to serve the Lord tirelessly. There is no retirement from being an Apostle.
As I feel that my life is so busy at times, I look to him and the other Apostles and First Presidency and see their example of being anxiously engaged in a good cause every day. This helps me to know that I can do more. Elder Andersen and his wife Sister Andersen are so kind and thoughtful. They truly represent Jesus Christ and our Savior’s love for us all. #LightTheWorld
Over the past few weeks I have been digitizing old home movies that are on VHS tapes. We haven’t owned a VCR for several years. Every now and then I’ve come across these VHS tapes and I’ve wanted to preserve them and show them to our kids, some of whom are now adults.
The process is long. You have to basically watch the video in real time as you capture the video onto a computer with software and a special video capture cable which converts the composite signal to a USB connection. So every night as of late, after we get the kids to bed, I go into the basement, and hook up the VCR which we borrowed from my in-laws, and digitize a part of the tape. It is not a quick process.
I’ve been taken back to before my mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, when I rented a camcorder to do a Ferris Bueller’s day off of sorts and video tape my friends, family and girlfriend before leaving for my 2 year mission in France. I have video from my mission, when an investigator let us borrow a camcorder for our P-day. (Jour de préparation) I have a tape from our wedding day. Then I have one from our first Christmas after we were married. I remember going into debt at RC Willey for the camcorder. We needed to establish credit so that we could qualify to buy a home, so it sounded like a good idea. I have video tapes from our move from the United States to Holland, where our first child was born. Then later video tapes from when we moved to England. Then there are video tapes from moving back from England to the USA. There are video tapes from our first home in Springville, Utah. Then recording from Highland, Utah where we lived for 12 years. It tapered off as it became easier to record things with your smart phone. I need to gather all of these random phone videos together and put them into digital folders and organize them next.
All of this has had me reminiscing of the past. There are regrets. I see video of my Grandmother, Maggie Alldredge. I miss her so much. She was such a big influence in my life. I wish that I would have spent more time with her. I can’t imagine how much she would love my children and what a kick she would get out of how funny they can be. I regret not being a better husband and father at times. I regret not buying Apple and Microsoft stock in the 80s… OK, that was never even on my mind, so it’s really not a regret. I regret all the cool cars that I’ve sold. I’ve owned a lot of cars, and some were keepers that I should have held on to like my 65 Mustang. Others were junk and I couldn’t wait to get rid of them. Farewell 1992 Pontiac Bonneville.
But I’ll tell you what I don’t regret. All the time I spent with my family. I’m so very blessed. Today in about an hour, we will pack up our Toyota minivan and head from Port Angeles, Washington to Utah to spend Thanksgiving with my mother, my brother and his family. I’m really looking forward to it. I hope I can make the most out of this short trip. I believe that families are forever. These bonds can last for eternity. These are my people. I love each of my six children. Sometimes life gets kind of crazy, but we wouldn’t have it any other way. I don’t regret having six children. I don’t regret loving my family and sacrificing to provide for them. They mean the world to me as does my wife.
Live in the moment. Be with your family. Pay attention to them. Love them. Listen to them. Hug them. Tell them how much you love them. Happy Thanksgiving!