Level 30 to 40 – 2000 to 2010

This was an eventful decade. On the home front we added a new soul. Jade was born in 2001. Bringing our clan up to seven, plus daddy and momma under the same roof. Living in this new location, we certainly had living space for Jade’s arrival as opposed to the Rigby house. The kids played with cousins that lived close by. They roamed in the barn and in the pasture. We chose not to have a television in our home most of the years, and our kids learned to read a lot, use their imaginations, and explore the outdoors.

The unexpected happened. Momma Durtschi passed away unexpectedly, and we were left to care for daddy. We did have some help occasionally from nearby family, but, day in and day out, the responsibility was mostly on us. We did it for as long as we could before his condition became so bad that a nursing home was needed. He was in a nursing home for about a year when he passed away.

Us moving to Driggs was actually the only reason a nursing home was not used before. The doctor had been recommending it even before we arrived, but Joan wanted to prevent that. Before Joan passed she had made the decision to give us the house because of our willingness to move in and help. Why us? Momma liked me, and she knew Marya would like to be back in the valley. Plus, other Durtschi family who already lived in the area had their own homes and families to tend too.

To this day, because of the sentimental attachments to the house, and the subjective opinions of whether we cared and helped daddy enough to earn it being given to us, there is still an undertone of discontent among some of the siblings. I was asked once, if given the choice to move up and help, would I do it again. Yes. Moving in to help Walter and Joan was the right thing to do. The other stuff is just human nature at play. You never know what life is going to present, and you don’t have any control about how others might feel about it. We “rolled with” the circumstances that came along the best we felt we could. We did rent our home in Rigby for a few years and then we sold it. We came to realize that with another family member added, and the circumstances being what they were, we couldn’t go back to that house very easily even if we did move again.

During this decade I also served as 1st counselor in the Driggs 2nd ward bishopric with Wayne Egbert as bishop, and Meredith Wilson as 2nd counselor. Just like serving in the mission field, this was a challenging and rewarding time. Here is a story connected with this time. Of course I was on the stand each week, and Marya bravely brought the kids to church. A sister moved into the ward and noticed Marya coming in with all the kids. She didn’t know us. She was disgusted that Marya’s husband would send all those kids to church with her every week while he was relaxing or off recreating. It wasn’t until several months went by, and she saw us together at a ward party that she finally realized I was Marya’s husband. Even though this sister had never told Marya about her feelings about her “slacking” husband, she felt a need to apologize to Marya for drawing unfounded conclusions.

Work wise…well, I kind of experienced an identity crisis during this decade. At Anderson Lumber I was promoted to Receiving Clerk before too long. In that job I was responsible for checking in all shipments and making sure the proper quantity was there and there was no damage. The work was good. Then some corporate changes occurred. Anderson Lumber was a small regional chain of stores, and they were bought out by national corporation. A new manager came on board. I could tell right away that we were going to clash. He was cocky and arrogant. He didn’t treat his team like equals. I was the first one to leave after he took command. He actually offered me a generous raise if I stayed. A raise that would have put my income above that of my supervisor. (I didn’t think that was a wise leadership move on his part either.) I left and went to work for Suburban Propane delivering propane and training as a technician.

With each of these companies I worked for, in my mind, I was sincerely striving to make it a career. I think this attitude came from the example of my father and mother. My dad had worked in the same building all my life (he did have different promotions, but same career.) Mom too, she was a librarian all her life. I thought that is the way it should be. Find a career, a company, work with dedication, earn promotions, and stick with THAT company. You take care of them, and they will take care of you. Well, I was learning that this wasn’t how the world was working anymore.

I was not with Suburban long. I received an unsolicited phone call and an offer from the owner of R&R Landscape. He wanted me to come on board as an office manager, and potentially buy him out of the company along with some of the crew chiefs that managed the landscaping crews. I could not let that potential opportunity go without trying. It seemed much too good to pass up.

To make it short, it didn’t work. The old adage was verified, if it seems too good to be true it probably is. Again, I liked the work because of what I was learning and what I was able to contribute, but it didn’t end up being full time during the winter as promised. I hated drawing unemployment when I had been taught you get what you work for. The price he wanted for the company was more than any bank or private lender was comfortable with. And his method of financing was…well, let’s just say creative…and didn’t sit well with me. I was asked by local small supplies and large corporations all the time when R&R Landscape was going to pay them on the past due amounts. I was not given control of the business checking account. He and his wife only saw those numbers.

What to do? Anderson Lumber’s name had officially changed to Stock Building Supply and the community was not fond of the new manager. He was not fired, but his position was changed, and he was transferred to another location. After he left as manager, I approached the guy who accepted the manager position, who knew me from before, and he welcomed me back. Again, changing jobs so much was really uncomfortable to me because I wanted to “settle in” and stay with one company like I had seen my parents do.

At Stock Building Supply I started from entry level again as forklift and truck driver. Then I went to inventory control specialist, to Operations manager relatively quickly. I was responsible for the smooth running of the retail portion of the store. The manager kept the office staff and outside sales team leadership as part of his duties. The yard foreman took care of fork-lift and truck drivers. This looked like the right track, but then a nationally-owned corporation started dictating changes that were not good for a small town lumber store. They wanted to let large stores, like Home Depot and Lowes, take care of the everyday-home-owner’s building and project needs. They wanted to focus on professional-contractors-only market; those companies who built homes for a living. They began dictating things such as closing on Saturdays because most contractors don’t work on Saturday. They wanted to get rid of some of our inventory because it was homeowner needed items and not professional contractor items. Both I and the manager fought them on this. We repeatedly told that their picture just wouldn’t work for a single lumber yard in a small town . They didn’t like this answer. We were not fitting their envisioned mold.

I could see the writing on the wall. I could see this was not going to end well. As much as I hated to do it, I started looking for work AGAIN. A few years prior, Larry Juarez, owner of Grand Interiors which dealt specifically with cabinets, appliances, flooring and interior hardware such as door knobs and lighting fixtures in new homes and remodels had approached me, and asked if I would come work for him. Even though that had been a few years before, I approached him to see if he still had a need. He did. I did all kinds of work for him. My main job was appliance sales, ordering, and installation, but because it was such a small company I also helped install cabinets, drive truck, and performed office management duties.

Incidentally, a year after I left, Stock Building announced they were closing the Driggs location and many other locations that were not fitting their mold throughout the country. I am so glad I got out when I did. In this valley, being small in population, it was a bit of a challenge for all the employees there to find a place to go for work.

In 2008, due to unwise housing and real estate loan practices in the country, the real estate market took a financial nose dive nationwide causing construction to slow dramatically. This ushered in a recession that had global effects. Grand Interiors was connected with the construction industry and things became troublingly slow there. I was able to do some part time work on short term projects for people in the valley when I was only working part-time at my regular job.

While working at the lumber yard I was impressed with the character and work ethic of a man by the name of Chris Harris. We did not do much together outside of work while we worked there, but afterwards we started trying to go out to eat, play games, or watch a sporting event together. Chris became my best friend. It is a joy to spend time with him.

During this time my appendix needed removed. We did not have health insurance, but a very generous soul stepped in to pay the $10,000 hospital bill. I have an idea who it was, and no way of telling for sure without directly asking. Most anonymous, good-hearted souls like that don’t want to be known.

So, yes, this was a challenging decade on many levels. Yes, it can be argued that life always has challenges, and that would be true. This decade left me wondering what path I was suppose to take in life especially as a provider to my family.

Larry was relieved when I found a job in Jackson, Wyoming with Hyko. They sold cleaning and paper products to businesses, primarily hotels and restaurants. It was a good temporary job, but I knew it would not be a long commitment there.

This is going into the next decade, but since I am on the “job changing” theme. The next job was with Coca-Cola at their Jackson Hole warehouse as the warehouse manager. Which put me, again, in a leadership position. I was in charge of everything that went on inside the warehouse. The manager had responsibility for the outside sales team and the drink machine technicians. During this job I was in the best physical condition I had been in since high school soccer and riding my bike in the mission field. My mornings were spent taking inventory, ordering products, or unloading shipments of products that came from the bottling plant. Near noon, the orders started coming in from the traveling sales staff. These orders needed to be pulled from stock and staged on mobile carts ready to load that night to go out to stores the next day. The cases of canned and bottled pop were not heavy, about 15 to 20 pounds each, but we were moving hundreds and hundreds of cases each day. Bend down, pick up, lift, swing onto the wheeled cart, repeat. I left for work before the family was up in the morning, and arrived home around six in the evening. All of this left me worn out.

Even with all that was going on in our family’s life during this decade, we added yet another family member; Marya’s sister Beth would visit during the summer months from Texas to avoid the heat. One summer she brought Crystal, a 17-year-old young lady, with her to help out with her four children, but alternative motive was to get Crystal (We call her Big Crystal to distinguish from our younger daughter Crystal) was to get her away from an unhealthy home environment. At the end of the summer she did not want to go back. However, her grandparents, who had legal guardianship over her would not let her stay in Idaho. We told Crystal that when she turned 18 she was welcome to come live with us if she wanted to.

Her birthday is at the end of December. She hopped on a plane just a few days after, came to live with us, and graduated from Teton Valley High School. She worked at Burger King, and then a clothing store. She chose to serve a mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. She had fallen in love with Marya’s nephew and married him. So, she was semi-adopted by us, but then married into the family also. She is a lively, energetic person we love dearly.

Different line of thought…..As I was growing up in Preston we camped regularly in tents during the summer. I enjoyed those times out in nature with my family. I thought I liked camping, but after moving to Teton Valley I realized I like being in nature, but not necessarily camping. Because Teton Valley is right next to the mountains, I found that I liked going hiking and enjoying time in a campground around a fire and so forth, but my own bed was usually only 15 to 20 minutes away from many camping areas. I preferred to go home and sleep, and come back in the morning to resume activities. I really enjoy hiking. One of my favorite hikes is up to Table Mountain, or Table Rock. I have done that so many times I lost track.

Level 20 to 30 – 1990 to 2000

As I move into the years that include marriage and the arrival of children, there is absolutely no way I can include all the details of things we did as a family, with all the family and children’s activities, the vacations, the church involvement, and so forth. So, this is where my posterity will have to be forgiving that I did not include something they thought I should. If you are a reader that feels something should be recorded that I did not include, I encourage you to make the time to record those vivid memories in your personal histories. I talk a lot about work in this section because that is where I spent a lot of time, and my dedication to work directly affected my responsibilities as a husband, father, and provider. Most of the time I felt like I kept a good work and home life balance. I guess my wife and children are the best judges as to whether I succeeded at that in each of their memories.

Upon returning from serving a full-time mission, I was only in Preston for a few short days. I intended to return to BYU in the fall and I wanted to see if I could secure work down there as well. My Aunt DeVonna and her husband divorced while I was in the mission field, and I asked if I could stay with her in Orem, Utah. I paid her rent each month, but also helped with inside and outside chores. She was eager for the company and help. Staying with her was very enjoyable, and ultimately very life impacting.

The first place I looked for work was at Deseret Industries, the thrift store chain owned by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. As mentioned before in chapter five, they also operated the humanitarian aid center that I had worked at for only three months before leaving on my mission to South Africa. That day, I walked out of the human resource department disappointed; They said they did not have an opening for me. As I was leaving the building, I happened to run into Garret Davis, who had been my manager before. He couldn’t believe two years had already gone by. He asked me what my plans were. I told him the intent to go to school at Brigham Young University, and that I had just been told there was no

work there. He said, “Come back tomorrow ready to work. I will have a job for you.”

He told me how he liked Idaho farm boys who knew how to work. I started there at $6.00 per hour as a forklift driver, which was pretty good for an entry level job at that time period. Garret was the congenial, cowboy-type, fleet manager. His team of drivers and dock workers respected him. He knew how to make people feel cared for, but also knew how to encourage and push them to grow and get things done. It was his suggestion that I get my commercial driver’s license so I could drive large semi, tractor-trailer trucks. My thought was, “I don’t need that. I am going to school to be an exercise physiologist.” Wow! I ended up using that CDL for decades in all kinds of capacities.

The Deseret Industries location had a cafeteria that all employees could eat at if they wished, including the humanitarian center workers. I was not aggressively looking to date ladies much. I was quiet and reserved in personality, but I did enjoy meeting new young ladies, especially in a casual, non-committal place like the cafeteria where we could just talk as friends with no expectations. One day I saw a gal I had never seen before, and asked if I could sit next to her. I barely got her name, …Marya, before she got up and left.

Well, fortunately, the reason she left was because she was done eating and had to get back to work at the humanitarian aid center where she sorted clothes. Her quick departure didn’t have anything to do with me. We had many lunches together. I didn’t ask her out, because I had only been home from the mission field for a short time, and was not looking for anything in the terms of a steady relationship yet.

My Aunt DeVonna also worked at the humanitarian aid center. Well, this might be a news flash, but women tend to talk to each other about life. And before too long, DeVonna told me if I didn’t ask Marya out I was going to lose my chance. Marya and I had spent enough time together by that time that I knew I had feelings for her. I decided to act. And “The rest is

history”…Let me think…I don’t remember the time frame exactly, I think it was June when we first met (when she got up and left). We started dating in August, and by October I had bought the ring. It was in my pocket the first time I traveled to Driggs, Idaho to meet her family. She didn’t know it. I felt ill because I was so nervous. On Saturday we went on a horseback ride up the Aspen trail just east of her house. We stopped and got off the horses at a break in the trees, a good spot to see the valley, and I knelt down and asked her to marry me. She burst into tears, but she didn’t say yes. There was a slight complication. She had dated a young man quite seriously before he had left to serve a full-time religious mission. She had to make the final decision in her heart as to whether to accept my offer or wait for his return to see how their relationship might progress. That evening we drove up to a lookout point where we had a magnificent view of the Grand Teton mountains, and she said yes. We decided to get married after BYU got out in May. That was a loooong engagement, seven months. We were married in the Idaho Falls temple on May 7, 1992 the same day as her mother’s birthday. (Under those circumstances, DeVonna was not sad to see me move out. She told people she was the one who played matchmaker because I was being so “chicken”. She was right.) Marya and I enjoyed a honeymoon to the Oregon coast. Not only because it is a beautiful place, but so Marya could also meet my family that lived up there.

Not long after I had asked Marya to marry me, Garret had convinced his up-line leaders that I would make a great addition to the more permanent team. Up to then I was paid by the hour with no benefits, but with Garret’s help I was offered a salary position as a supervisor over the receiving dock. This came with pay increase, paid vacation, paid sick leave, retirement savings, health insurance, etc. Of course, I said yes. I had a family to start, and this seemed like a great blessing. (Garret cared for his people, and did what he could on their behalf.)

My Grandpa Byington helped us buy a small two bedroom trailer home just down the street from my work. We paid him a reasonable interest rate on his loan to us. We were grateful for his generosity. It was a humble place,

but it served our needs well. I could walk to work, which made our one car available for Marya to use during the day. We felt impressed not to wait to start a family. Just shy of eleven months after we were married, Taylor Durtschi Moosman joined our family. Marya didn’t like the huge Provo, baby factory/hospital, so Taylor, and, later, Caleb Christian Moosman were born in Payson, Utah hospital. At that time, Payson was a smallish town on the edge of the populated areas of Utah Valley. (But not any more; Payson is crowded now.)

As a supervisor over the dock at Deseret Industries, I was also considered a job coach. One of the main missions of Deseret Industries is to help individuals with mental or physical disabilities, or work skills challenges, improve their abilities to be able to get jobs in the standard competitive marketplace. The more I fulfilled the duties of a job coach, the more I grew to love that work, and decided to make working for Deseret Industries, and with those individuals with disabilities, my life career. It was at this time that  I chose to stop attending college and put my efforts into my work and my young family.

I learned and accomplished so much with Garret’s support and mentorship. When I started, the donations were received mostly by drive up donations by the thrift store, but had no method for real efficient handling before being put on the sales floor. There were piles of stuff everywhere in the receiving area. With Garret’s encouragement and mentoring, I redesigned the drive-up donation area, and implemented an organized system for sorting the donations. Within three years of my adjustments, the production department (who priced and cleaned items) was able to order boxes from my department of various types of things they wanted to process to put on the sales floor.

I also learned that you have to prove department needs to upper management by statistics, so you could get the man power, and equipment needed to do the job well; I developed a method to count and track the number of cars that donated on a daily and hourly basis. It wasn’t a

flawless system, but over time, patterns began to emerge to help gauge how to schedule my crew. An average of over 300 cars per day donated at that location. Week days, and winter was slower of course, but weekends and summers were crazy. Through these statistics we were able to prove we were the busiest donation location of all the Deseret Industries stores. Construction began on a new building in 1996 and I helped provide input on the design of the three-lane donation area and the square footage needed for a proper sort and storage area.…It was a good thing I was young, energetic, and healthy. It took a lot out of me.

I served in the young men’s organization in the Church ward in Provo. My favorite memory was hiking to Mount Timpanogos three times. Two of them were mostly at night, and we arrived on top to see the sun rise. This is where my love for hiking mountain trails started.

We had always wanted to get back to Idaho, so I had turned my resume into the Idaho Falls Deseret Industries during one of our trips to see family. I was offered a lateral responsibility position as job coach and dock supervisor there. We moved to Idaho in 1996. I was able to make similar changes in Idaho Falls as I made in Provo, but it was not nearly as large of a scale, and with not nearly as much trial and error thanks to experience.

We rented a house for a few months in Idaho Falls while looking for a place to “put down roots”. I don’t remember how we found it, but we bought an acre of ground in the middle of farm country. We ordered a home that was assembled in Boise and shipped to the site. The term used for this type of home was a manufactured home. It was a nice little home for our little family. By that time we had both Taylor and Caleb. I’ll tell you more about the home later.

Side note. Caleb often didn’t go to sleep well at night. We would stay up with him and watch the news and then Star Trek The Next Generation television series. Maybe that is why he likes science fiction so much now. 

Our ward in Rigby, Idaho, called the Shelton ward, was amazing. There was a strong unity there, and we made many great friends. I served in the young men’s organization there as well. There was something unique about the group of boys there. Because of the location of the ward boundaries, the boys went to three different school districts, so when they got together during the week or on Sundays, it was new and fresh because they had not spent all week seeing each other at school. This dynamic seemed to help them NOT to take each other for granted as much as many groups in an area with a large Latter-day Saint population.

After about a year and a half working in Idaho Falls, the area manager asked me if I would accept a position as Assistant Manager in the Rexburg location. Yes! By title it was another advancement, but it was actually more of a lateral move again. Rexburg was smaller than Idaho Falls. My learning and duties expanded to cover the sales floor crew when Loren Rogers, the manager, was not present. He and I made a good team and I enjoyed working with him.

Again, I was able to help improve the efficiency of the receiving dock. When we moved into a larger location I was able to design the receiving area and production area from “bare walls” into an efficient donation processing system. I enjoy this kind of creative challenge.

Sapphire and Crystal were born while we lived in the Rigby/Ririe area (we were about half way between the two towns). Our little three-bedroom, two-bathroom home was now quite full. It was right around 1,000 square feet. It became obvious, if we wanted to grow more we either need to add on to the house or sell and find something bigger.

I began discussing with Deseret Industries leadership the possibility of qualifying for the next advancement. After all, they had asked ME to become a supervisor in the first place. I did initiate the desire to transfer to Idaho, but again, they had approached me about taking the position as assistant manager in Rexburg. I was good at what I did. I was good with systems, and with few exceptions my crew enjoyed my leadership. The

answer I got was that I couldn’t qualify for the next promotion without a college degree. Well, with my small family’s temporal needs, time, and emotional needs, how was I going to do that? (Ricks College, the closest college was still only a two-year school at that time. Idaho State in Pocatello was the closest four year school. On-line college degrees were not an option yet.) I still enjoyed my work, but I became a bit “put out” by the response I got. Please, don’t get me wrong, I feel a college education is a great way to get qualified in knowledge and skill to make a positive contribution to a work force and to a community you live in. My frustration is that so many seem to think it is the ONLY way, and they pass by very good candidates for that reason and that reason only; because they have no college degree. Some examples of why I thought this policy didn’t make sense was the manager of the Provo store had a degree in agriculture and another manager I knew had a degree in political science. Neither of those degrees had ANY application in the jobs they were actually doing. My questioning of wisdom in the practice of ONLY hiring those with college degrees started then and continues to this day. Why is so much emphasis put on that piece of paper by so many when often it doesn’t apply to the position needing to be filled and its responsibilities? In my experience, the important thing is a person taking responsibility for their learning whether it is formally obtained in a classroom, on the job, or through life experience. Those who take responsibility do make a significant contribution to most any environment they are in.

Anyway, at that point, I felt stuck career wise. It looked like I would either need to change careers or figure out a way to find the time, and come up with money, to go back to school. As much as I enjoyed working for Deseret Industries the pay was not on the generous side. After all, it is a nonprofit organization. Supporting the needs of a family of six didn’t leave much wiggle room since we decided right from the “get go” we wanted Marya to be able to stay at home with the children.

Then something came “out of the blue”. Marya’s father was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease and began to deteriorate physically and mentally. Her

mother, Joan, called us and asked if we would move to Driggs and help her take care of him. The next day, she called and retracted the request feeling that it was too much to ask of us, but not long after she called again to ask for help.

We prayed about it and decided to make the move and see how it would go. We chose not to sell our home in Rigby in case it did not work out. We made the move motivated by the desire to help Marya’s parents, but our own family still took priority. On March 1, 1999 we moved into the main portion of the Durtschi house that was built in 1974. Our kids would be the 4th generation of Durtschi descendants to live in the house. Walter and Joan moved into the log portion/addition of the house that was built in the late 1980s, and our responsibilities to help care for Walter began.

I still commuted back and forth to Rexburg every day, but being away from my family with four young kids and a wife, father-in-law, and mother-in-law for 10 to 11 hours each day did not feel sustainable. I began to look for work in Teton Valley to cut off the two hours of driving time each day to and from work. During the summer of 1999 I was interviewed at Anderson Lumber Company and was hired on the spot as a forklift driver and truck driver. (Using that commercial driver’s license I didn’t think I needed.) Even though I was not a manager, or supervisor over anyone, (It was considered an entry level position) I was offered a pay and benefit package that matched what I was earning at Deseret Industries.

I cherish the opportunity and experience gained while working at Deseret Industries. What I learned there has helped me in other employment and other life areas more than I can explain. And working with those who had disabilities was challenging, but fantastic. By the time I left it felt like it was time to move on. It was a tough decision at the time, but in retrospect of what life offers over time, it was the right thing to do.

I Belong To The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

I Belong To The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

Chapter: 6

In 1988, I requested the opportunity to serve a full-time mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. In December of that year, I was called by a prophet of God, Ezra Taft Benson, to serve in the South Africa Johannesburg Afrikaans speaking mission from March 1989 to April of 1991. It was a very challenging and amazingly rewarding time in my life. I grew to love the people of that country. I sobbed uncontrollably the last day of my service. I was going to miss being a missionary, and miss the people of South Africa. Most I would never see again in this life.


What is Afrikaans? It is a form of Dutch. It was the Dutch and British that colonized the area. It is amazing how the history of South Africa parallels the United States. As the European settlers spread inland, they came in contact with African tribes. Some were hostile, and some were not. Ultimately the Europeans subdued most of the tribes in that area. The tribes also fought amongst themselves. The Dutch decided they didn’t want the British ruling over them so they had a war of independence called the Boer War which translated means farmers’ war. The Dutch mainly settled inland and the British on the coastal areas. There is an honored site near the capital city of Pretoria called the Voortrekker Monument. There are carvings of covered wagons, statues of men in buckskin clothes and long rifles, women in bonnet hats and full dresses. It would compliment any American western pioneer museum. Voortrekker means before-goer or before-walker…pioneer.

I lived at the Missionary Training Center in Provo, Utah for two months while learning the language. We did have meal times, scripture study time, exercise time, but the large majority of the day was in classes learning the language and about what the culture of the country was like. Here is a sampling of some vocabulary words:

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints –

                                                                     Die Kerk van Jesus Christus van heiliges van die Laaste Dag

Ouderling – Elder

How are you? – Hoe gaan dit?

Goodbye – totsiens

I am not interested. – Ek stel nie belang nie. (We heard this a lot while knocking on doors.)

Baptism by immersion – doop duer onderdompeling (under dunk)

Just as with other areas of my life, I can really not do full justice to all the people and experiences I had while there. The few stories I do share I hope will give you some understanding of what it was like. How can a really summarize and do justice to these two years? So many people contacted. So many people who listened to the gospel message. So many people drawing closer to Jesus Christ. So many people influencing my life. To borrow a phrase from The Book of Mormon…”I can not write a hundredth part.” What I do write I hope you will find valuable. If you are a person reading this who I came in contact with, and I don’t mention your name specifically, I am sorry. It doesn’t mean my experiences with you don’t hold a special place in my heart. It is simply that I cannot include them all.

Here is one memory of becoming connected with and the baptism of a lady by the name of Cheryl Cloete. When we knocked on her door and introduced ourselves as missionaries she said, “Oh, you belong to The Book of Mormon.” She had been given a copy of the book before, had read it, had enjoyed it, but didn’t know what else to do besides that. Well, we were, of course, willing to tell her what she could do next. She chose to be baptized. It wasn’t a quick process. There were some truths to ponder and accept, and some life changes to be made. The day before her baptism, the missionaries in our group went to the church to go through a “dry run” so she would know what to expect. While going through the motion of baptism, my companion tipped her back and her head struck the faucet that fills the font. No blood, but painful and a tender bump. The next morning she joked about bringing a helmet to the service, but decided that might not be appropriate.

Missionaries do not convert people to the gospel of Jesus Christ. God, through the Holy Ghost, does the converting. Missionaries are just there to share, to testify, to teach truth, to do things to invite the Holy Ghost to touch hearts, and strive to teach individuals what they can do on their own to invite the Holy Ghost into their lives. Tommy and Ilze Rothmann were an amazing, young couple. They enjoyed our meetings. They were spiritual and religious individuals. But, Tommy just wasn’t sure if changing religions was for them. We had several visits with them, and it was about getting to the point that if they didn’t choose to do more, then we needed to move on as missionaries. One evening, we were scheduled to share another lesson with them. Tommy said to us that he enjoyed our visits, but he would need to see a miracle, some kind of manifestation, for him to change religions. Instead of sharing the lesson we had prepared we felt impressed to watch a movie called “What is Real?” Near the end of the movie music is playing, and the Savior’s face appears on the screen, the lyrics say, “And when we see His face, what peace and joy we’ll feel. At the glory of Him, our hearts burn within…” The movie concluded and we sat there in silence as the influence of the Holy Ghost was palpable in the room. Tommy exclaimed, “Wow!” He got up, and rewound the movie to a bit before that picture came on…He watched it again. He began to cry. He said never before had he felt such a powerful yet peaceful feeling as he did in those moments when the Savior’s face appeared. He recognized it as his miracle. He and his wife Ilze decided to be baptized shortly thereafter. Even now, twenty years later, as I type this story…my eyes well up with tears at the sweet, powerful memory of those moments with Tommy and Ilze.

Swaziland is an independent kingdom within the geography of South Africa. We had missionaries serving there. I had the opportunity to go into the country twice. Many, many families lived in makeshift huts with one water faucet and bathroom area per about 10 to 20 individuals. Most were very poor. The prince who ruled the country chose a new bride to add to his collection each year during a ceremony called the reed dance. Missionaries tried to encourage young girls not to participate because part of it involved dancing topless.

Some of the foods that made an impression on me while in South Africa: We were offered Rooibos Tea every day multiple times. It is a delicious herbal tea and the plant it comes from only grows in that country. Boerewors (sausage) was a meat source staple. Curry, rice, and chicken were also frequent. At Pizza Hut in that country I had my first and last calamari pizza. It didn’t taste bad at all, a little chewy, in America they don’t put squid on pizza. (Well, not at any pizza place I have been to.)

This is not about South African food, but one Christmas I received a memorable care package from Dad and Mom. Mind you, a box took a month or two on a boat to get to the country the affordable way. In October, she had gone to an LDS Church cannery and had canned homemade Christmas cookies: sugar cookies, no bake cookies, etc. When I opened the cans they tasted as if they had just been made. It was challenging, but I did the Christ-like thing and shared them with my companion.

I had the chance to work in the mission office for several months. I would take incoming phone calls and forward them to the person who needed them. I handled the mail. Some was for the office itself, but because the missionaries moved around so much and it took awhile for the mail to travel from the United States, for all 100 plus missionaries, all the mail was sent to the office. Each day, I would go with my companion to the post office, pick up a bag of mail, sort it, put the correct address of where the missionary was serving and then take it back to the post office to go to them the next day. My companion mainly dealt with supplies if I remember right. Besides our duties, we were able to observe the inner workings of the office. It was inspiring to see how President Snow mixed his business leadership experience with inspiration to run the mission and respond to unexpected circumstances with revelation. A picture of all the missionaries and some basic information about them hung on a huge board in his office. He would study that board and listen to promptings as to where that missionary should serve and with what companion.

Michael and Audrey Koerber were very active in the Witbank branch (my last area) before I and Elder Brandon Lewis were there. They were hosting branch activities at their house. Michael, at times, played the piano for priesthood. They loved the fellowship they felt with the members. They just had not had that witness that The Book of Mormon was true, that Joseph Smith was a prophet, and this was Jesus Christ’s restored church.

The Lord inspires the mission president as to which two missionaries should be companions. The opportunities for growth within each missionary can be the reason, the ability to touch lives in unique ways can be the reason. It was the bold and direct approach of Elder Lewis that made the connection for Michael Koerber. It was my quiet, reserved demeanor that connected with Audrey. The pivotal moment for their conversion took place on a family vacation. Michael had taken The Book of Mormon with him and was reading it by the seashore, and the Holy Ghost touched his heart. He knew it was true, and he knew he had to act. It wasn’t the many missionary lessons that had done it. It wasn’t sitting in church hearing gospel teachings. It was when he was alone on that beach that the Spirit impacted his heart. The Sunday before I left the mission field they were baptized in their swimming pool.

Michael and Audrey are the only people besides companions that I met in South Africa that I have seen since leaving that country. He was a mining engineer. He and his family moved to Canada for his work. Their children are grown, and he and Audrey are now (as of this writing) living in China.

Because of the political climate of the country, most of the missionary work was among the European-descendant population when I arrived. While there, Nelson Mandela was released from his 27 years in prison, and there was a cultural shift to the official abandonment of government supported apartheid. This allowed for more work to begin in the native-African populated black areas of the country. (Blacks were required by law to live in separate cities from the whites.) In the last area where I served, Witbank, there were only two adult, black male priesthood holders. (By the way, Witbank can’t be found on a map any longer. The name was changed in 2006. Witbank was an Afrikaans word for the area. The name was changed to Emalahleni which is from an African Tribal language.) I and Elder Lewis had the opportunity to teach and baptize the first black sister. By the time I left we were baptizing every week. Most were adult, black males in their late teens or early twenties.



This chapter seems like an appropriate place to include my testimony about the spiritual side of life. I know there is a heaven, a realm of existence of finer matter than what we mortals can experience with our senses. A realm that is also outside our realm of current understanding of physics. I know there is a Father in Heaven. I know that the man called Jesus of Nazareth was the Son of God. He lived, He died, and He lives today as a glorified, resurrected being. He will return to earth again as a glorified being to claim what He created under the direction of His Father. God is a title of a being who has learned to live in harmony with celestial law. Through the atonement of Jesus the Christ, all can overcome the effects of selfish sin and return to live with God.

I know that Joseph Smith Jr. was an instrument in God’s hands as He began to restore gospel back to the earth because truth and priesthood authority were lost due to the wickedness of men. Lucifer is real. He is an enemy to all things of celestial value. The Bible contains the word of God as far as it was translated correctly by unauthorized scribes and religious leaders. I know The Book of Mormon is an ancient text written and compiled by ancient prophets, found and translated by Joseph Smith. There are prophets and apostles on the earth today who direct God’s work with the same authority and truth as Peter, James, and John did as recorded in the New Testament.

I know families are the most important unit in the eternities. That in temples, families can be bound forever if covenants are kept. I recognize The Family: A Proclamation to the World as truth and an inspired document.

My parents were members of The Church of Jesus Christ before I was born. I am not a practicing member just because they were. I have studied the doctrines and precepts of other denominations, Christian and non-Christian, there is a great deal of truth in most, but not authority. They do preach principles of salvation, but without the complete picture they cannot teach principles of exaltation.

To those who may read this who doubt there is even a spiritual side to existence…Just as I have experienced and felt the laws of physics act upon my senses and the world around me….Just as strongly have I seen, felt, and witnessed spiritual aspects working in my life and the lives of others. I cannot deny this. I may not always be the best example of a celestial life, but I cannot deny the truth of what I have felt at the core of my being.

I share this testimony to be included with my life history as my eternal solemn witness. In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.




January 4, 1970 by Albert Reed Moosman at the Preston 3rd Ward, in the Oneida Idaho Stake.


Both ordinances done on December 6, 1977 by Albert Reed Moosman at the Preston Idaho North Stake Center

AARONIC PRIESTHOOD  each office ordained by Albert Reed Moosman

Deacon –         December 13, 1981

Teacher –        December 11, 1983

Priest –              December 8, 1985

MELCHIZEDEK PRIESTHOOD each office ordained by Albert Reed Moosman

Elder –               August 14, 1988

High Priest –    February 16, 2003

This high priest ordination was done in preparation to serve as 1st counselor in the bishopric in the Driggs 2nd Ward; Driggs Idaho Stake,  with Bishop Wayne Egbert and 2nd Counselor  Meredith Wilson


February 25, 1989 in the Logan Utah Temple


May 7, 1992 in the Idaho Falls Idaho Temple to Marya Durtschi







Eric Reed Moosman was ordained an Elder on August 14, 1988 by Albert Reed Moosman (father)

Albert Reed Moosman was ordained an Elder on November 28, 1954 by Welborn Moosman (his father)

Welborn Moosman was ordained a High Priest on January 12, 1946 by Thomas E. McKay

Thomas E. McKay was ordained a High Priest on July 26, 1908 by George F. Richards

George F. Richards was ordained a High Priest on April 9, 1906 by Joseph F. Smith

Joseph F. Smith was ordained a High Priest on July 1, 1866 by Brigham Young

Brigham Young was ordained a High Priest on February 14, 1835 by Martin Harris, Oliver Cowdery, David Whitmer

Oliver Cowdery was ordained to the Priesthood June 1829 by Peter, James and John

Peter, James and John were ordained Apostles during Biblical times by Jesus Christ, Son of God


This a summary of callings I have held as an adult in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints after returning home from serving a full-time mission in the South Africa Johannesburg area.

Missionary Preparation Teacher, Orem, Utah

Teacher’s Quorum Adviser, Provo, Utah and Ririe, Idaho

(Our physical address was Rigby, but we were in the Ririe Idaho Stake.)

All of the following were in the Driggs 2nd ward or Driggs Idaho Stake

Financial Clerk

Elder’s Quorum Instructor

Elder’s Quorum President

1st Counselor in Bishopric

Sunday School Teacher for youth

Ward Membership Clerk

1st Counselor Stake Sunday School Presidency (2013-2015)

Priest Quorum Advisor (2015-2017)

Young Men’s President (2017-2018)

Ward Chorister (2019-to this publication)

Ward Membership Clerk (October 2019-to this publication)


A patriarchal blessing is intended to be a personal life guide from the Lord to the individual receiving it. It is given by an individual who serves specifically as a Stake Patriarch. The blessing also declares a lineage of the House of Israel that the individual is part of as a direct blood line or adopted into as part of the covenant of baptism into the Lord’s church.

I received my blessing at the age of 16, on May 29, 1986.

The Patriarch was Orval DeWain Robinson of the Preston North Stake.

My grandfather, Leo Irving Byington, was the clerk to the patriarch and typed up the text of my blessing from the audio recording done by the patriarch.

Because of the sacred nature of the blessing I will not record the whole thing here. Just portions. A relative can request the full text using The Church of Jesus Christ’s internet genealogy link.

I am of the lineage of Ephriam.

Seek the blessings of your father…

By sincere, humble prayer, honoring your Priesthood, your Father in Heaven shall increase your knowledge of the commandments of the Lord, and through humble prayer you shall receive spiritual direction for good throughout your life.

Honor your mother, seek her counsel…

You will have a desire to sustain the leadership of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and as you do so your testimony will grow stronger and their blessings will enrich your life spiritually.

Set your goals and standards in accordance with the commandments of the Lord. Check them often to be sure you are measuring up.

Honor your priesthood and as you do so you will be blessed with all your righteous desires. Choose your friends wisely.

You will be given the blessing of missionary work at home which will change the lives of many for good in the gospel of Jesus Christ.

In the future you will…enter the holy temple of the Lord and have sealed to you a sweet daughter of the Lord as a companion and help-mate for time and all eternity.

No blessing will be yours you do not earn.

I bless you with a desire and a will to live the gospel of Jesus Christ and as you do so your sins will be forgiven you.




I believe you can learn a lot about an individual from the type of things they consider favorites in their life; books, movies, music, visual arts, performing arts, games, food, etc. This is not a comprehensive list of my favorites, but it gives you a taste of my character through what I like.

Some movies on this list are not completely made for the whole family to be entertained. Please check quality reviews before showing to whole family. Also, there are many more Disney movies that could be included on this list that are just “cute” or “fun”, but I wanted to include movies on my list that were a little more impacting than talking animals, or story lines primarily intended for children. These lists were created when I was 45 years old, and update when I felt something was worth adding. They are not in any particular order.

The Ultimate Gift – By Dean Rivers Productions. 2006. Rated PG. 114 min.
Self-Improvement Fiction. Based on a book by the same name: Book also recommended.
TO DATE THIS IS MY VERY FAVORITE MOVIE. Not because the best action, the best comedy, or the best acting, but because of the message it shares.

The Pistol: The Birth of a Legend – L.A. Film Partners. 1991. Rated PG. 90 min.
Biographical. This is the movie I saw while flying home from serving a mission in Africa. Inspiring.

The Make Over – By Hallmark 2013. Rated PG. 95 min. Fiction. Drama. Romance.

Amazing Grace – By Walden Media, 2007. Rated PG. 111 min. Based on the fight to abolish slavering in Great Britain. William Wilberforce

Gifted Hands – The Ben Carson Story – By Johnson & Johnson 2009, TVPG. 86 min. Biographical. Based on a book: I also recommend the book for reading.

Temple Grandin – By HBO 2010. Rated TVPG. 107 min. (thematic elements) Biographical Beauty and the Beast, A Latter-day tale – By Candlelight Media 2007. PG. 91 min. Drama. Romance.

Forever Strong (caution: drinking & drugs) – By Go Films. 2008. PG-13. 112 min. Drama

Invictus (caution: language) – By Warner Bros. 2009. Rated PG-13. 134 min. Drama I discovered this book giving the background to the movie IN 2014: Recommended Reading: “Playing the Enemy, Nelson Mandela and the Game that Made a Nation”

The Blind Side – By Alcon Entertainment. 2009. Rated PG-13. 129 min. Drama. Sports. Semi Biographical. Recommend reading Michael Oher: I beat the Odds.

Secretariat – By Disney. 2010. Rated PG. 123 min. Drama. Fireproof – By Sony Pictures. 2009. Rated PG. 118 min. Drama “42” – By Warner Bros. 2013. Rated PG-13. 128 min. Drama To Sir With Love – By Columbia Pictures. 1967. Unrated. 105 min. Drama

Mr. Holland’s Opus– By Hollywood Pictures. 1996. Rated PG. 143 min. Drama

Remember the Titans– By Jerry Bruckheimer. 2000. Rated PG. 113 min. Drama

A Walk To Remember (caution: some crude language) – By Warner Bros. 2002. Rated PG (crudeness in some characters) 101 min. Drama

The Miracle Worker – By Disney. 2000. Rated PG. 90 min. Drama. The story of Annie Sullivan and Helen Keller, and the beginning of their relationship.

Inside Out – By Disney/Pixar. 2015. Rated PG. 94 min. Animated. Currently, this is the only animated film on my list. Many animated films are “cute” and wholesome family entertainment. However, I found in this movie a much deeper meaning than most animated features have.

Miracles from Heaven – By Columbia Pictures. 2016. Rated PG. 109 min. Drama. The Story of a terminally ill little girl, and the miracles that took place during her treatment. Based on a true story and the book written by the girl’s mother. The movie carrying the same name as the book. (I haven’t read it yet.)

Hidden Figures – By Fox 2000 Pictures. 2016. Rated PG. 127 min. Drama. The story of three African American women and their contribution to the NASA space program in a time where the odds were stacked heavily against the career success of black women in the culture of the United States.
In Search of Bobby Fischer – By Paramount Pictures 1993 Rated PG. 110 min. Drama. The story of Josh Waitzkin and his extraordinary gift for chess, and how the adults in his life reacted, sometimes positively, and sometimes negatively to this talent. Josh had to comes to term with what he wanted, why he wanted it, and the best way to get it and still be himself.

Wonder – By Lions Gate 2017 Rated PG. 113 min. Drama. The fictional story based on a Novel by the same name. Follows the story of August Pullman, a young man born with significant facial deformities as he is introduced into a more mainstream school system. A story of the strength of his character. A story of how others have hidden struggles. A story of how we can all grow with listening and actions of kindness.

One movie I use to have on my list is Ground Hog Day starring Bill Murray. I liked it for its over-all message, which is you don’t truly begin to live until you learn to love unselfishly and serve others. However, more recently I have felt that other elements of the film were a little uncomplimentary to that theme, so I took it off my list.

In today’s age, television is done mostly in the form of watching a show on the internet. Growing up I enjoyed Gilligan’s Island, Beverly Hillbillies, Hogan’s Heros, The Cosby Show, Bewitched, America’s Funniest Home Videos. For educational programming I enjoy NOVA and Nature on the PBS station.

I enjoy Scrabble, Rummikube, Pictionary, Carrom among others.

I use to play football and soccer. I still like them but don’t watch them much. Of course, I enjoyed the sports my children participated in: soccer and cross country running. I enjoy watching Olympic gymnastics. Although I like competitive sports, I just don’t make them a priority in life.

I find I listen to classical music when I am doing something else of an intellectual nature, but want back ground music. I listen to 1980s pop music for exercise and up-beat work activities. I like a wide variety. However, heavy metal and rap music don’t interest me. If I was asked to choose music I would like to have as my personal theme music, a song that would announce my arrival at an event, and help define my character what would it be? I think my “fun” pick would be “I Love to Laugh” from Walt Disney’s Mary Poppins movie 1964. I think my “idealistic”, personal -theme music would be the theme song from Superman the Movie 1978. The persona of the super hero known as Superman has undergone some less than positive changes over the years. But the original Superman stood for all that was positive and good in the human character, and this music gives that lofty feeling. It would be a bit ostentatious to actual have it play as a personal theme song, but it is more an ideal to strive for. My “sophisticated” side would be “An American Symphony” from the sound track of Mr. Holland’s Opus 1995. “Believe It Or Not” from the 1970s television show Greatest American Hero is fun. And Yanni’s “Santorini”. This is a nontraditional instrumental piece. My “cool” pick would be Axel F by Harold Faltermeyer 1984. This song is associated with a movie called Beverly Hills Cop. I have never seen the movie, it is rated R. But I like the music it IS COOL. My “spiritual” side would be Because I Have Been Given Much…I’ll Go Where You Want Me To Go….You Can Make the Pathway Bright… Have I Done Any Good. My “romantic” side would be “Hello” by Lionel Richie 1983. As an assignment in English class my freshman year of high school I did a time capsule. I put the lyrics to this song in it. One final song to add…Believe It Or Not, by Mike Post and Stephen Geyer, it is the theme song to a television show called The Greatest American Hero.

In my teen years ,the science fiction genre seemed to capture my attention the most. As an adult I have found that a fiction book must be very intricately written with a considerable amount of real-to-life research included to make the story plausible. For example, I enjoy several of John Grisham’s books. Non-fiction, biographical, and autobiographical works hold my attention the best. However, I find that it is not the chronological type story I enjoy. Of course, there needs to be some background and historical context information, but I like those that focus on a particular aspect or event associated with the person’s life verses one that starts at their parents or grand parents and catalogs that person’s life to the time they die.
The On-Purpose Person: Making Your Life Make Sense by Kevin W. McCarthy. 1992 Pinon Press. Reread. Parable.Thoughts: Worthy of anyone’s time, and permanent library.

Up From Slavery: An Autobiography Booker T. Washington by Booker T. Washington. 1937 The Sun Dial Press Inc. Nonfiction

Assisted: An Autobiography of John Stockton by John Stockton (with Kerry L. Pickett). 2013 Shadow Mountain Press. Nonfiction.

The Education of Little Tree by Forrest Carter. 1976 University of New Mexico Press. Nonfiction. Thoughts: Written with the unique perspective of a very young Cherokee boy being raised by his grandparents. His view of nature, people, and life at that age and that culture.
Mafia to Mormon: My Conversion Story by Mario Facione. 2004 Cedar Fort Incorporated. The story of a man whose new found belief compelled him to risk his life to leave an organization that is usually only exited by death. This is the second time I read this book.

Mandela: An Illustrated Autobiography. By (of course) Nelson Mandela. 1994 by Brown and Company. I found this book fascinating…what he sacrificed for the benefit of the South African people is incredible. Although it was fascinating it was not captivating for me because of the necessary political nature of the book.

Kisses from Katie: A Story of Relentless Love and Redemption, by Katie Davis and Beth Clark. 2011 Howard Books. I found this book heart warmingly touching, but also sad in revelation of poverty that so many live in. The book begs the questions: What am I doing? What can I do to make a difference?

To Heaven and Back: A Doctor’s Extraordinary Account of Her Death, Heaven, Angels, and Life Again. by Mary C. Neal. 2011 Waterbook Press. After ever chapter of this book I exclaimed “Wow!” As Mary describes being killed in a white-water kayaking accident, going toward heaven, being told it was not her time yet, and the reasons she needed to return to earth. INCREDIBLE STORY! There are others mentioned in the movie section that

Some more without detail: The Boys In the Boat, Michael Oher’s autobiography, Secretariat, Helen Keller’s autobiography….The list of books can go on and on, but I think this gives a good idea.

Dr Seuss books I find wonderfully entertaining in written word and illustration. At the writing of this entry I have a copy of each book he has written in my personal collection. I do not have the ones he co-wrote or illustrated with others. They are good, but they do not seem to be as captivating as the ones where he was the sole author. Marya and I read to our children growing up, and they all have become avid readers. I now look for opportunities to read to other groups of children. In honor of Dr. Seuss’ works, I created a costumed character by the name of Marco Sam Sneelock who reads to children on occasion. How did I come up with that name? Marco, in honor of the main character in Dr. Seuss’ first published children’s work, “To Think That I Saw It On Mulberry Street.” Sam, from “Green Eggs and Ham”, and Sneelock, from the unwitting hero of “If I Ran the Circus.”

While doing work in North Dakota I began listening to books on compact discs and from an internet site connected with the local library. Here are just a few I enjoyed:
The Secrets of Happy Families by Bruce Feiler. 2013 HarperCollins Publishers. Self Help. Audio book by Dreamscape.
The John Bytheway Collection by John Bytheway. 2008 Deseret Book. Gospel Talks. Thoughts: John has a great skill in mixing quirky humor, stories, and gospel teachings to make for and entertaining and uplifting talk.
The John Bytheway Collection #2 by John Bytheway. Deseret Book. Gospel Talks. Thoughts: This collection is more readings of his books than live talks. Still valuable in inspiration and entertainment.
Out of Darkness: The Story of Louis Braille, by Russell Freedman, Recorded Books Inc. Biographical . INCREDIBLY INSPIRING STORY about the man who invented the braille system of reading for the blind. He was only 15. This system opened up the world of the written word to blind people.
Playing the Enemy: Nelson Mandela and the Game That Made a Nation, by John Carlin. Recorded Books Inc. Historical. An incredible story of how skillfully Nelson Mandela helped diffuse volatile political tensions through respect, wise visionary insight, and the sport of rugby.
Lighting Their Fires: Raising Extraordinary Children in a Mixed-Up, Muddled-Up, Shook-Up World by Rafe Esquith. Recorded Books Inc. Informative/Self-Help. Useful information on how to create an engaging learning environement.
Father Joe: The Man Who Saved My Soul, by Tony Hendra. Recorded Books Inc. Non Fiction. I have mixed feelings about this audio book. The figure described as Father Joe is incredibly insightful, noteworthy, and divinely charitable. However, his pupil, Tony was for a great deal of life an irreverent, comic satirist, consumed a great deal in selfishness…and, as I think Father Joe would describe him, a child of God. Bad language near the end, sexual references in the beginning.

Sully, My Search for What Really Matters by Chelsey B Sullenberger. The story of the pilot who landed a plane on the Hudson River after both engines were destroyed because of hitting birds. All 155 passengers survived the incident.

I enjoy being on dirt trails and in the mountains. I also love the ocean. There are a lot of magnificent, beautiful places, but I enjoy the Oregon Coast line the most.

I think of covered this elsewhere, but in summary: hiking, kayaking, nonfiction reading, and as of the last few years in my forties, public speaking has gone from being a dreaded experience to an enjoyable hobby.

There is no way to include all the quotes I like, but here are a few…
“We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.” -Winston Churchill
“There is more hunger in the world for love and appreciation than for food.” -Mother Teresa

“Men and women who turn their lives over to God will discover that He can make a lot more out of their lives than they can. He can deepen their joys, expand their vision, quicken their minds, strengthen their muscles, lift their spirits, multiply their blessings, increase their opportunities, comfort their souls and pour out peace.” Ezra Taft Benson

“God does not begin by asking our ability, only our availability, and if we prove our dependability, He will increase our capability.” -Neal A. Maxwell

“The larger the island of knowledge, the longer the shoreline of wonder.” -Ralph W. Sockman

I enjoy cleaver humor and corny humor. Jokes that you have to think about for a second, or that they make a person groan a little because of a play on words. This tendency has earned me the nick name of “dork” with my family, because of these types of jokes and puns.

“If you wear cowboy clothes….you’re ranch dressing.”

“What does a dentist get on his one-year work anniversary?”…..”A little plaque.”

“I buy my guns from a guy who calls himself T-Rex…..He is a small-arms dealer.”

“When is the best time to go to the dentist?….Tooth-thirty.”

“I have tried to tell jokes about unemployed people…But, none of them work.”

Laugh, chuckle, or groan…that is what these types of jokes are about.

One of my favorite combinations of food for a meal is baked chicken (I don’t like fried stuff.), mashed potatoes with white gravy, and corn on the cob. I also love garden fresh green beans. I always ask for tacos for my birthday meal, but I enjoy plain ground hamburger on it instead of seasoned meat. A medium well steak with a hint of pink is enjoyable. I hardly ever drink anything but milk, water, and fruit juices.

I would rather eat chocolate chips than most cookies. Although I do have a weakness for chocolate chip, pumpkin cookies. Doritos dipped in cottage cheese. Home popped popcorn. Most other snacks don’t get me too excited. For my birthday I would rather have a bag of jerky than a cake any day. And, I can’t forget to mention ice cream. I really enjoy most ice cream flavors.

I have always liked the otter. They are playful, intelligent, and cute.

Back to the Farm

Pat and I returned to the farm in Kansas around the middle of December 1956. The weather was cold and wet.

Mom hired a high school boy to help her with the farm after dad had died in October. After I was home a few days she moved to Wellington, Kansas where most of her folks lived. I knew I didn’t want to be a farmer but I do like living In the country.

Friends and neighbors came one day and we cut sixty acres of sorghum and shocked in one day. Man, what a good feeling to have that done, and what a good bunch of friends they were.

I was busy feeding the livestock and couldn’t go and get a job to take care of Pat and my expense, so mom said we would have a sale in April, 1957 and rent out the farm. We sold most of the older cows at the livestock sale barn. We had the auction of the the rest of the cattle, horses and machinery in April. It really hurt to sell my horses and Dad’s work team, it made me feel like I had failed. I rode my two horses around the barn yard while they were being auctioned off, it still hurts now after fifty plus years.

The next move was to El Dorado, Kansas and we rented out the farm.

Level 10 to 20 – 1980 to 1990



LEVELS 10 to 20 1980-1990

One of the main events that drew people to the Preston area each summer was the Famous Preston Night Rodeo. For three days in a row, near the end of July, on a Thursday, Friday, and Saturday, there was a fantastic parade in the late afternoon through town. Filled with floats, marching bands, horses, pooper-scoopers after the horses, fire engines, cool cars, and lots of taffy thrown from  the floats to the thousands gathered. After the parade, the carnival rides at one of the city parks began to breathe to life, and next door to the sounds of squeals and thrills of carnival riders was the rodeo arena with its lights that illuminated the night. There was something for everyone to enjoy: food, rides, animals, socialization. It was a fun time. (Unless you just wanted peace and quite.)

The Kiwanis and Lions Clubs sold concessions at each rodeo as fund raisers. Grandpa was a member of the Kiwanis, and when I was old enough, he asked if I wanted to help. That first night, a major rainstorm began drenching the area half way through the rodeo. Most of the crowd left. Only a smattering of die-hard fans stayed in the stands covered with umbrellas or blankets. The rodeo didn’t stop. Two vivid memories I have of this are…. One was of the steer wrestling. When the cowboys jumped off their horses, grabbed the horns of the steer and planted their feet, usual they gained traction on the dirt and could flip the steer over. In the deep mud, their boots became skis on the shallow lake of mud and the steer pushed them along with a spray of mud. Second was the bull riding competition. Vividly, I recall a cowboy getting bucked off the bull, the beast stepped on him, and his whole body nearly disappeared in the sludge. The soft, brown muck actually saved him from very serious injury. But, I bet he was sore. Yet, soreness is familiar territory for a cowboy.

I started my first paid job at age eleven. I would feed calves in the morning and after school for Reed McEntire’s farm. Once summer came, my duties were expanded to moving pipe, cleaning the barn after milking, and helping with the yard work around their home. My employment came to an end there when mom felt like he was not increasing my wages fairly. I might have been young, but I know I a was diligent and conscientious worker, and she felt like I was being taken advantage of. Being my first job, I had no idea what was considered fair.

Being a good sized and strong young man, I also was frequently asked to help “buck hay” for farmers. Which meant helping to gather the 50 to 70 pound bales from the field and stack them in covered hay sheds. It was hard work, but, in retrospect, I liked it. Now, in the twenty-first century, most bales are one to two tons and only moved by tractors and other equipment. Moving bales by hand is considered archaic and inefficient farming. However, it is sad to see that character building opportunity go away for country raised kids.

At about age 14, Dad helped me get a job at Parker Brothers, the John Deere dealership, where he worked. I remember my first assignment was to wax several used combines so they “sparkled” for resale. Combines have A LOT of surface area. Daniel, in The Karate Kid movie (1984), had nothing on me for experience in “wax on” and “wax off”. Later, my duties expanded there too. During the school year I would go in to vacuum, sweep, and mop the sales floor and parts area. In the summer I was running parts around (I received my driver’s license at age 14), delivering combines that couldn’t fit on the semi they had, washing tractors before the mechanics worked on them, and I even began to learn to do body and paint work on used equipment that was being refurbished for resale. I enjoyed the job. Cleaning out the drain on the cement pad where the tractors were washed off was the least desirable. It was filled with grains, tractor lubricants, and manure, a “toxic” combination in sight and smell. I wore a protective, filtered breathing mask to do that job as I did for painting equipment.

During my senior year a fire took out the sales area of the dealership. My dad bought what was left of the building, basically the shop area only, and started his own repair shop, Reed’s Farm Repair, but he did not do any sales of used or new equipment. One other short term, but in retrospect, awesome job I had was working on a Navajo Sheep Ranch. (It wasn’t run by Navajos, that was the breed of long-haired sheep that was raised on it.) It was owned by a wealthy man from California, but Mark Anderson was hired as the live-on-site manager. I moved pipe, built pole and rail fences, repaired barbed wire fences, sprayed weeds, and cleaned the shop. It was hard but rewarding work. A particular fond memory was how Mark and his family treated me so much like family. I didn’t have to bring my own lunch each day. Near noon Mark came and found me where ever I was working, we went to his house, washed up, and I sat with his family for a delicious meal. Afterwards, we would go downstairs into the cool basement, lay on the carpeted floor and fall asleep for about thirty minutes before going back out and tackling the afternoon work.

Once I reached seventh grade I was able to play running back and defensive end on the school football team. Again, I was a big kid. Only one other kid in the middle school compared with me in size at that time. I played football for three years. I decided to stop my sophomore year for two reasons…One, I was getting hit harder than I could hit back (that wasn’t fun), and the coach was an arrogant jerk. (I don’t use that term often, but that term seems most accurate based upon how he treated me, and how I saw him treat many others not within his favor.) I did play a little basketball, but only on the church ward team. I was okay in skill level, but not great.

I continued to play soccer all through high school. At that time Idaho had not officially recognized it as a sanctioned sport. We competed against AYSO club teams in Idaho and played against school sponsored teams in Utah. We weren’t a great team, but we had fun and broke ground for an expanded program for years to come. I don’t know how coach Jerry Moore pulled it off without it being an official sport, but he gave us athletic “letters” for playing.

I participated in Boy Scouts of America and earned my Eagle Badge at age 14. My primary supporters to achieve this were my parents and Byron Kelly, a dynamic scoutmaster. I admit I was kind of a wimpy scout. I really didn’t like camping with a bunch of boys. Most boys, when out in that environment were rude and gross: belching, farting, spitting, and annoying stuff like that.

The only broken bone I have had in life (up to age 50) came from a winter camp experience. I was sledding down a hill on an inner tube, bounced off, and rolled the rest of the way down. My shoulder/neck area was in great pain. My scout leader who knew anatomy because he was a dentist, checked me out, and determined I was not injured bad enough to take home (about a 45 minute drive). I don’t blame him for thinking I was exhibiting wimpy-ness again. I spent a long, miserable night. Each time I moved in bed I felt my bone pop and grind. The next day when I got home, I was taken to the hospital by my mother, it was revealed that my collar bone was broken. In retrospect, as an adult, this is what I think happened. I cracked the collarbone on the hill, so when he inspected it, he couldn’t feel anything because nothing was out of place. It was when I tried to climb in the top bunk that the already cracked bone snapped in two. So, I don’t blame him for that. But, I think my mom still might. Whenever I visit Preston he reminds me that mine was the only broken bone he ever had in his many years as a Scoutmaster. Some others who were there and recall that event claimed I was a real tough kid. They remember it differently than I do. But, I don’t remember crying in front of anyone. I was just trying to move as slow as possible and clench my teeth with any motion because of the pain.

As mentioned in the previous chapter, I had chronic bronchitis regularly. Coughing so loud and so often became a source of embarrassment to me. It did affect my self-esteem some. I am not sure how I did sports so well. I guess my passion for them outweighed my lung discomfort. When I quit football, part of my plan was to get bigger and stronger and return to the game, so I developed my own year-round fitness routine. It wasn’t long after that my bronchitis symptoms subsided. By the time I served a full-time mission at age 19, I did not miss one day of service during those two years due to personal illness. (I never went back to football. I began to find rewards in academic and paid work achievement.)

I lost my first permanent tooth in middle school. I was chasing a boy who was making fun of me over my affections for a girl. As I chased him my body went on one side of a locker and my face went on the other, and my front left tooth greeted the corner, broke off completely, and flew out somewhere. I have had a false front tooth ever since.

Believe it or not I discovered girls were significantly different than boys during this decade of my life. Miriam Christiansen was the first girl who “chased” me. She ended up terrifying me more than anything. She liked to kiss a lot, and was very clingy. I halted our relationship on that level, I was not socially graceful, and don’t remember how I did it, but it ended. How could I be graceful, that was 8th grade maturity? We were still cordial friends. In fact, after I was married, and with children I saw her at the Hogle Zoo in Salt Lake and we exchanged a hug and some catch-up conversation.

Linda Gebbs, the older sister to my friend Dwayne who lived down the road, took an interest in me and I in her. We were considered boyfriend and girlfriend for two years. What happened? Well, she was a senior in high school when I was a sophomore. She went away to college and discovered men far more interesting and mature than me…well, that ended that.

During my junior year, Grandpa Byington took me on a trip to Florida, the Kennedy Space Center, Disney Epcot Center, and on a cruise to the Bahamas. (Grandma had passed away by this time.) On this trip most of the people were retired folks who had time and money to travel, but there was one family that had a girl two years younger than me, and her little brother. I can honestly say Michelle (Shelli) Phillips was my first serious crush. We spent quite a bit of time together on that large ship. I still feel bad to this day that I didn’t spend more time with grandpa during that time. (I plan on apologizing to him when I see him in heaven.) But, when grandpa and I were on land we did everything together, just not on the boat.

Once we were back in Preston and school life…I didn’t officially “date” Shelli because the LDS church has a teaching of not dating before 16 years of age, and she wasn’t that old yet. I honored that age recommendation, but I liked to hang out with her occasionally. She cut my hair several times. She actually had a boyfriend, so we were just friends spending time together. At the time, I think we were both curious as to where our relationship might go. I wasn’t impressed with the way her boyfriend treated her. What happened between us? This time I was the one who went away to college and started dating Rebecca (Becky) Head.

Becky was from Chicago, a city girl. We dated all of my first semester of college at Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah. In fact, between the time the fall semester ended to the time I was to enter the mission field I had three months. To the dismay of my parents I chose not to stay home during that time. I asked my Aunt DeVonna if I could live with her in the Utah Valley area because I wanted to be close to Becky for those three months. Even after I entered the missionary training center, Becky would write me at least twice a week. When she went back to Chicago after the college semester ended and I was in South Africa, everything changed. She never “Dear Johned” me. She just stopped writing. I think I got one letter and one audio recording from her the whole twenty-two months I was in South Africa, and she didn’t even act like anything was wrong. I was sad and a bit ticked. Needless to say, we grew apart. We dated once or twice when I got back but nothing as far as romance there.

However, because I wanted to be near Becky for those few short months I worked at the Deseret Industries Humanitarian Aid Center located in Provo at that time. I made such a positive impression on the manager, Garret Davis, that he made a special effort to get me back when I returned from serving a mission. It was while at that work place that I met Marya. So, indirectly, my relationship with Becky led me to the place for meeting Marya. (I will share more on that story in the chapter covering Levels 20 to 30.)

I liked music and followed the pop music billboard charts, and liked the big-hair, music groups and break dancers. I started trying to dress like the music stars. Let me put it this way, at one time my hair was buzzed short on the sides and back of my head. My hair was longer on top and I bleached it a light brown using hydrogen peroxide. I also had a tuft of longer hair on the back of my neck called a “rats tail”. I bleached it lighter too. One of my favorite outfits to wear to school was camouflage high top shoes, camouflage pants, a camo vest, a British flag bandanna around my knee, a blue polo shirt and a silver-colored necklace choker around my neck. This personal dress fad stopped sometime during my sophomore year of high school. My parents didn’t fight me on this, but I am confident they were glad when this fashion fad of mine ended. (In retrospect this is what I think happened inside me. I was no longer getting attention for being one of the large boys in school, so I created a new way to get attention. During my sophomore year academics and my work became important to me, and I began to feel recognition for that.)

Mrs. Adair and Mr. Johnson. There are times in life when people cross our paths that seem to be heaven sent. I was somewhat of a school brat. I wasn’t rude to teachers, but at the beginning of my freshmen year I was not taking school seriously, and my grades proved it. I was more concerned with trying to fit in with peers than school. The skilled teaching of Marta Adair made me realize learning can be fun, and challenging, and rewarding, all at the same time. I credit her skills for much of my turn around in my perspective of school. Later in her career, she went on to instruct university students on how to be teachers, how to master and create a learning atmosphere in their classrooms.

Another impacting teacher was Mr. Johnson, the art teacher. I had been talented with drawing for many years. Mr. Johnson helped to magnify my knowledge and skill in that area greatly. I even considered majoring at college in art. He was an energetic soul. He knew how to connect with kids and have fun, but also gain their respect.

During high school, through the scouting program, there was a medical explorer post I took part in. With my love of sports, fitness, science, and participating in this medical “club” I decided I wanted to major in physical therapy in college. That is what I started my collegiate studies in, but changed to exercise physiology when I learned that physical therapists have to work on cadavers as part of the major requirements. (I didn’t do well with “gross” things. I usually threw up.) I chose to go to college at Brigham Young University in Utah because that is the only place I ever wanted to go.

Dad and Mom were kind enough to let me use their cars most of my growing up years. Most of the time it was a little white Toyota hatchback Corolla. At that time, as noted before, in Idaho you could get a driver’s license at age 14. The theory was that a lot of kids worked on farms and were driving equipment and trucks anyway, so why not let them drive legally so they could work and have responsible citizen building experiences. Yes, I had my driver’s license before I entered high school. I didn’t buy myself a car until after graduating high school. It was a 1979 Chevrolet Monte Carlo dust blue in color. It almost looked white unless it was parked next to a white car, then you could tell it was very, very, very light blue. It had a big engine, went fast, and burned lots of fuel. (I wouldn’t want it today.)

I was quite shy and didn’t participate in a lot besides soccer. I focused on academics. I ended up getting my grades up enough to get into the top 10% of my graduating class despite that terrible freshman year. I was asked to participate in the National Honor Society, I was part of the art club. Because of the level of academics I did achieve, I was asked to give the welcoming remarks at high school graduation.

My senior year I received three awards. Awards that I was not trying to earn, but did earn just because of my academic commitments and character traits. At the last assembly I attended at the end of the school year, I was awarded with being the second fastest typer in the school (This was before computers so it wasn’t called keyboarding. There were manual and electric typewriters. Computers were just barely starting to gain a foothold as far as a standard in educational priority. Let’s put it this way, computers were so new that the less-than-fully-qualified football coach taught the computer class. Black screens with yellow dot characters was the norm.)

I was also presented with the award for achieving the highest science and math grades for all four years of high school. I have no clue how I did this. I didn’t consider myself that intelligent or that good of a student….but that is what the teachers claim who analyzed the records and declared I had the highest accumulative grade point average in those types of classes for my time in high school.

The final award had no academic importance, but to this day I still consider it the best award I have ever received. The senior class voted on personality types. They were, to some degree, a bit of tongue-in-cheek awards. Things like best smile, most likely to succeed, shyest, biggest flirt, and so forth. My peers voted me as the “most polite” graduating boy with Tonya Winn the “most polite” graduating girl. Yes, that is the award I cherish. Even though it had no official importance except to the 147 members of my graduating class.

I was very active in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I served in the Aaronic Priesthood as Deacon, Teacher, and Priest. I did my duties well and consistently. During my senior year I was the only young man my age who attended church  in our ward frequently enough to be dependable for doing priesthood duties. I held church youth leadership positions. Also, my senior year I was asked to be the main youth leader for the summer youth conference. I received the ordinances of the temple a few weeks before entering the mission field.

Birth to Level 10 – 1969 to 1980

Birth to Level 10…1969-1980
Most of me was born in Utah. Try as I might, I have had to rely on the recollection of my parents for details of this story. It is probably a good thing I don’t remember it. I am told that Mom did not have labor with me. Her water broke and my foot came out at home. I can only imagine the frantic and rapid sequence of middle-of-the-night events, as arrangements were made for the care of my brother Wade and sister Julie, and then Dad and Mom got into the car for the rocket-like trip to the Cache Valley Hospital Logan, Utah hospital. The reason I wasn’t born at home was due to my other leg being stuck. When Doctor Bishop freed my other leg and I did emerge into this world, the umbilical cord was wrapped around my neck twice. Thank goodness for the wedged leg and the skilled hands of a physician. Dad was 33 years old when I was born. Mom, 29. Wade, 10. Julie 8.

Home was in the rural farming country in the town of Preston, Idaho. After the customary stay in the hospital for that time period, I was brought home to Address: 687 North 8th West, Preston, Idaho 83263. Located in Franklin county. This would be the only house I lived in until moving away to attend college at age 18. Preston was primarily an agricultural community with the town population being roughly 3,300 in 1970. You will find Preston nearly on the southern border near Utah, and also close to the eastern side of the state line.

Because Dad and Mom had wanted another child so earnestly, and yet it took several years for that to happen, when I was brought home it was a greatly celebrated event by my family. I’m told Wade and Julie could hardly contain their excitement when riding home on the bus the day I came home. Later in life, I actually asked my mother if I was an “accident.” She assured me that I was not. I was probably spoiled to some degree being so much younger. Well, wait! I should not kid myself. I was spoiled, but not bratty (Julie may debate this when she was a teen and I was an obnoxious little brother). I lived in a home surrounded by love, and was taught the value of caring, good manners, hard work, the joys of learning, and engaging in wholesome country-kid play.

Dad was a mechanic and used his skill primarily with agricultural equipment while working at the local John Deere dealership. Mom was working as a librarian, first at the public library and then at Jefferson Middle School. They worked as a complimentary team to create a love-filled home. Dad enjoyed gardening, fishing, and music as his hobbies. Mom loved to read, be out in nature, and work in the yard.

Wade was my hero (he has been good with children from my earliest recollection). He loved planes, and assembled many models of them to decorate his room. As soon as I was able, I would climb out of my crib to sleep with him. He ended up letting me sleep with him all the time. In retrospect, a noble and generous thing for 10 to 14 year-old brother to do. Julie was a wonderful big sister. I successfully filled the role of annoying little brother as I got older. I never remember complaining about going to church when I was real young. Why? At church, after the sacrament was given to the congregation, I would lay my head on Julie’s lap. She would glide her fingers over my face and through my hair. I fell into a blissful sleep until I was awakened after the closing prayer. I wonder if I drooled on her lap sometimes?

The house I was brought home to sat on just over an acre of ground. Lots of trees were on the property. Lilac bushes and apple trees were the most plentiful. House, lawn, and driveway covered two-thirds of the property, and garden area the back third. It was a modest, single-level home my parents said they bought for $8000. It had a combined kitchen/dining area, a living room, three bedrooms (one bedroom was more like a small office), one bathroom, a mudroom in back, and covered front porch. The basement was for food storage only and had a pump in it to push out water that came in during the time of irrigation ditches and flood irrigation of the fields around us. During the 1970s an addition was added on the west end. Or, I should say, part of an addition was added. Economic inflation hit strong during that time, and the outside was finished while the inside remained used as a storage area for decades to come.

At that time, the closest neighbors were a few hundred yards in either direction. McEntire brothers, who were farmers, were on the north and south. The Roper farm was across the road to the east. Farm ground was all around the house, and the local airport was the closest structure to the west about three quarters of a mile away. On our mile-long road there were only about nine homes along the whole stretch in 1969.

The first memories that come to mind as I sit here, unprompted by stories from others, is that of attending preschool at the McEntire’s just down the road. I don’t know how long it took before Mom trusted me to walk there on my own, and how much longer, if ever, it took her to let me walk there without watching me the whole way….maybe never.

I do recall two specific things from this time: A cartoon Superman was on a cereal box. I cut it out, with blunted scissors, and Superman “flew” with me to preschool until he wore out. Also, when it came time for tying shoes, I was frustrated to tears that I was not understanding how to do it like the other kids. No matter how many times the teacher showed me how, I just couldn’t get it. For a four-year-old it was so traumatic. I am sure I had shown tendencies before then, but it was discovered that the reason I was having such a hard time is that I was left handed, and it was being demonstrated to me right handed.

We gathered as extended family nearly weekly. We either met at our home or at Grandpa and Grandma Byington’s home that was also in Preston. At that time, believe it or not, most televisions received only three or four stations. Each Sunday night Disney would televise one of its movies. Also at that time, you either went to the theater to watch a movie or you watched it on one of the limited television stations. There were no other options. We would gather nearly every Sunday night to watch the Disney movie, pop popcorn to eat with cheese, drink Kool Aid, play games and talk. When I was little, I thought the movie was the focus. No, I was mistaken. As I grew more mature, I realized the movie was an excuse that created a lasting family tradition.

I continued this tradition with my own family. Even with the evolution of available entertainment because of VCR and DVD players, (and later internet streaming) we would either rent movies before Sunday, or check out some from the local library. Even when I was working away from home in North Dakota during 2012 to 2014, I kept this tradition alive. Whether I lived in an apartment or travel trailer, on Sunday evenings I would pop microwave popcorn, but a family-friendly movie in a DVD player, and if possible, invite a coworker in that area to join me.

Grandma Byington had a stroke when I was six years old. Her personality and abilities changed because of that, so I don’t really feel I knew her well. She lived for ten years after the stroke and passed away when I was fifteen. In my young, limited way, I remember the dedication and care my Grandpa Byington gave her. Before her stroke he had retired and bought a camper and truck so they could travel together. After her stroke, he sold it all so he could care for her.

Grandpa was known for his organization, skilled hands with woodcraft, sharing short quotes and inspiring stories, and his testimony of Jesus Christ. Because Grandpa and Grandma Moosman had passed away before I was born, and with Grandma Byington’s stroke, Grandpa Byington was the only grandparent I really felt I knew. He did an excellent job of filling that role. He was a noble son of God.

Friends. Living out in the country with not a lot of houses close by, my friends came from school and church. My two closest friends during the first years of kindergarten and elementary school were Jeff and Casey. They moved away before elementary school was over. Mom worked at the public library during my youngest days, and she dropped me off at a family called the Burks. I enjoyed spending time with those kids too. On our street Chad Noyes lived about a half  of a mile away. As time moved on more houses were built on the road, and I remember playing (and sometimes getting in arguments) with Jason Roper, Dwayne Gebs, and Scott Fredrickson. At church were also Randon and Ryan Neagle (twins), Adam Gleason, Brian Baxter, and probably many others that I should remember but cannot recall right now. Besides playing football (no organized league for kids then, just casual kid-led play time) with them, we were involved in cub scout activities together.

I learned to occupy my time creatively. I loved making things out of boxes and tape. I remember making a box robot as big as me. I would spend hours with the little, green, now classic, plastic army men, and little plastic cowboys and Indians. Wade gave me an army doll that stood about 11” tall when he felt too old for it. Stony was his name. He and I had grand adventures together. As an adult, I gave him back to Wade as a Christmas present. (As I am writing this personal history, I grew nostalgic and decided to look online to see if a Stony doll was still available. I found one and bought it. Definitely an impulse buy based on emotions. I am excited. I do feel like a little boy again just waiting for that package to arrive.)

I am told that I nearly died as an infant due to being allergic to my formula. No one could figure out what my problem was. It was my Dad, by inspiration, that suggested changing my formula. I did spend some time in the hospital for surgery because of a strangulated hernia. I think I was four or five when that happened. I seemed to have regular lung issues, most often in the form of chronic bronchitis. This condition seemed to flare up until my late teens. I believe it was an improved commitment to regular exercise that helped me overcome this condition.

Wade and Julie had pets. I remember a ginormous dog named Lash that Wade had. Julie had a Siamese cat, and a Pekinese dog named Dushka. I remember my uncle Kenny and aunt Bonnie gave me a white Malamute puppy as my first dog, but that dog and Lash chased cars, and that was the demise of my first pet. I don’t remember seeing its body after it was hit, maybe Dad and Mom spared me that sight. But, I do remember sobbing violently holding only his detached white tail in my hands.

The pet I had the longest was Phantom. I have no idea what breed he was. He was black and white and on the long-haired, small side. He slept in his own bed in my bedroom. He was a good dog. He tolerated my boyish teasing. He was still in our home when I left for college and to serve a full-time mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. His end finally came when a neighborhood dog attacked him, and his old body could not withstand the blows of the young, bigger bully.

As with many kids, I tried several sports: basketball, baseball, wrestling, football, soccer. The two that I gravitated to were football and soccer. For some reason I was unusually large for my age, and remained so up until about age 15, then peers started passing me in weight and size. You know how they say girls grow faster than boys? Well, in middle school I was about the same size if not bigger than most of the girls even then. When I played eight years of AYSO (American Youth Soccer Organization) soccer, mom would often tell me parents were complaining on the side line because they thought I was too old compared to their boys and could use my power and strength to get the ball most of the time I wanted, legally of course. I usually played the defensive position called Sweeper. I played in front of the goalie. My legs were strong, and I could easily kick the ball far upfield to protect our goal.

My size is probably why I liked football so much too, because I was hard to tackle. I was faster than most, and my coordination was pretty good too. Mom would say that I ate, drank, and slept football for a few years. I will have to admit football probably occupied too much of my time. The Pittsburgh Steelers pro team was consistently one of the best then, and I watched them play as much as I could. I followed the activities of Terry Bradshaw, Mean Joe Green, Lynn Swann. But, my hero was Franco Harris, the running back. I became a member of his fan club, had a signed picture of him on my wall. (A picture I received in the mail.) One Christmas I received a Pittsburgh Steelers football uniform with shoulder pads, helmet, and the works. I put Franco’s number on my shirt. I was a happy kid.

During the 1970s and 1980s, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was trying an experiment with the Native American population. Conditions on the reservations were not very conducive to allowing a young person to break the cycle of alcoholism, low education, and to some degree a pervasive cultural laziness. So, they started the Indian Placement Program. During the school year, kids from the reservation would come and live with families in developed, Christian areas. During the summer they would go back to their reservations for three months. Dad and Mom were concerned about me getting lonely at home since Wade and Julie were leaving as they were so much older than me, and they decided to participate in this. Darrell Nelson Cadman, from the Navajo tribe in New Mexico, lived with us for eight school years. I’d say on the whole it was a good thing. There were times he and I got along well, and times we didn’t. I think that is typical of brothers close to the same age especially. One reason Darrell came to our home specifically was he had severe arthritis. Dad had challenges with arthritis too. While in our home, due to proper diet and health care, his symptoms subsided a great deal. Unfortunately, each summer when he returned to the reservation he did not, or could not, keep the same habits, and he came back to us at the end of the summer in physically struggling conditions because of it.

Darrell terminated his own participation in the program during his teen years. There were rules to follow about conduct which included no tobacco or alcohol. The last year he was with us he would sneak out of his window often, and spent time with kids doing things they should not. I don’t know how much alcohol he drank, he didn’t smoke that I knew of, but he chewed tobacco. Occasionally, I hear from him every few years, but he has had a rough life because of a series of choices that do not produce health or stability personally or in relationships. So, I look back on it with mixed feelings. I am glad I can say I had and have an Indian brother, but also sad for what I know he could have become had he not made the choices he did.

Dad and Mom were members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. We lived in the Preston 3rd ward my entire life, and went to the same meeting house. At one point it was extensively renovated and remodeled, but it was a source of joy and stability in my life. I was baptized at age eight. I will discuss it later in this personal history, but as an adult, and gaining an understanding of other world religions and other organizations, I am still in awe of the inspired multi-faceted aspects of this Church and have made it a choice to stay active in the religious practices.

I asked Wade for a memory of my early years that I wouldn’t be able to recall. Here is his contribution: “The first one to pop up made me laugh out loud….hadn’t thought about it in decades! We were all sitting around the dining room table having supper. You were in your highchair next to Mom by the parakeet cage. No clue as to how old you were, but we were working on counting to 10….A LOT. As I recall, the numbers came up several times during the meal between mouthfuls…when suddenly outta nowhere, a high pitched squeaky little voice ripped through those numbers fast. Of course we all looked at you first in amazement, but you were looking all bug eyed and open mouthed at the bird just as it finished the last 3 digits. I remember just about choking on whatever was in my mouth as realization of the bird counting, a whole lot of sputtering, and uncontrollable laughter erupted around the table. I may have even fallen off my chair at some point. The sudden ruckus kinda scared you a bit. The look of shock on your face as the whole family went slightly crazy was totally priceless! I remember Mom trying to get out some soothing words between gasping for breath and fits of giggles. Once you figured out everyone and everything was really alright in spite of all the howling going on, you joined in. It was TOTALLY AWESOME!!!!”

Forward and Table of Contents

Eric Reed Moosman Personal History Birth to Level 50


Chapter 1 – Abound in Good Works – Crosby, North Dakota.

                     A major life impacting story from 2012, level 42 in life.

Chapter 3 – The Basics, Family, and a Bit of History

Chapter 4 – Birth to Level 10…1969 to 1980

Chapter 5 – Level 10 to 20…1980 to 1990

Chapter 6 – I belong to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

                     Full-time missionary service, church callings, testimony, etc.

Chapter 7 – Level 20 to 30…1990 to 2000

Chapter 8 – Level 30 to 40…2000 to 2010

Chapter 9 – Level 40 to 50…2010 to 2020

Chapter 10 – Favorites. Books, movies, foods, etc.

Chapter 11 – Some Summaries



Dear Family, Friends, and Curious or Interested Individuals,

Think buffet! When a person goes to an all-you-can-eat buffet restaurant, they get to pick and choose what dishes they want to taste. The wise take small portions of several items, and then might have enough room in the stomach to go back for seconds of those dishes they really enjoyed. Even then, there is a danger of exiting the restaurant feeling bloated due to consuming too much. With that vision in mind, I have tried to create this personal history so that it is a buffet where you can sample the flavors of my life as you wish. You can taste lightly in areas, but go back for seconds and dive deeper in areas you choose.

I have attempted to make this personal history fun to read, have enough facts to set a context, and include enough feelings to gain an understanding of my character, and select photos that compliment the narrative. My thoughts in creating this personal history was to include enough information so you gain some understanding of who I am, and yet not overwhelm you with so many details that could lead to boredom. It is a delicate balance, and all readers will be unique. Let me say up front to those who lived the same time I did, I apologize if I neglected to put something in this history you feel should be here, or if I include something that may seem trivial, or if something is shared inadvertently, inaccurately, or with a different perspective than your memory recalls, or maybe I haven’t included the best photos of a person or event. But, the truth of the matter is this,  the whole process is very personal and subjective, and limited by space and memory. Regardless of the potential mistakes or perceived flaws, I hope you discover some measure of enjoyment in your experiences within these pages, whether you just casually flip through them, or if you read every detail and study all the pictures.  As mentioned above in the buffet analogy, I am trying to appeal to the quick-glancer AND the interested historian.

Why publish my personal history when I am fifty? Well, this is my line of thinking. Many people do not record their personal history because they feel overwhelmed by the process. In aging years, it is also possible that mental and physical capacities could be diminished, making it difficult to complete. I figured if I completed the first fifty years now, then I will not feel quite as overwhelmed in my later years. Doing it this way will also allow me to add some addendums to other volumes if I wish. I don’t know for sure if I will follow through exactly as planned, but at the moment I am thinking of doing additional books every ten years. So, there may be three to five volumes of my life history. Another thought in doing it this way is this: If I should die unexpectedly, those I leave behind will have at least something to remember my life. That might be satisfying enough for them. But, if they wish to complete a volume covering my last few years they will have a pattern to follow.

Be Kind, Be Wise, Be Safe, and….Keep Smiling! is the title of this volume. As my children were growing up, often when they left the house I would say this phrase to them. The idea being, that if we can act kindly to others, make wise choices on the truths we know, and keep ourselves physically, emotionally, and spiritually safe we will have a great deal to smile about.

PS Years ago, I read this humorous thought somewhere: Wouldn’t it be better if we refer to age in terms of “levels” instead of “years old”? It sounds better to say, “I have reached level 50 in life,” rather than saying, “I am 50 years old.” Hence, I decided to use that idea in my chapter headings.


Abound In Good Works

What was I going to do? I felt helpless to change what was happening. There I sat, six hundred miles from home in the little town of Crosby, North Dakota (population 1,300), twelve miles from the border of Canada, it was a place I had never been before. I didn’t know anyone. There was no one there I could really consider a friend (not yet). I had come up to North Dakota to drive water truck in the booming oil fields of the Bakken where fracking technology had created a demand for work. The water hauling truck I was driving was not being called by dispatch to work. If the truck didn’t move, I didn’t make money to provide for my family. I did all I could to make sure the truck was ready at a moment’s notice to roll. It was fueled, serviced, plus food and supplies in it for me. But nothing was happening. I read my scriptures often to strive to find peace and guidance when my heart was full of concern and uncertainty.

In my readings I came across two verses that I had read many times before. In this instance, they made an impression on my mind like never before. They are part of Alma’s teachings to the people in the land of Gideon, found in chapter seven of The Book of Mormon. Verse 23 and 24 read, “And now I would that ye should be humble, and be submissive and gentle; easy to be entreated; full of patience and long-suffering; being temperate in all things; being diligent in keeping the commandments of God at all times; asking for whatsoever things ye stand in need, both spiritual and temporal; always returning thanks unto God for whatsoever things ye do receive. And see that ye have faith, hope, and charity, and then ye will always abound in good works.”

Those last five words, “always abound in good works,” made me stop immediately and ponder. I felt this distinct impression, “Get out of the truck and go to work serving someone whether you are paid or not.” I reasoned, “Serve who? I don’t know anyone.”…The answer, “Go find someone. Discover and make an opportunity.” So, I hopped in my car and started driving around this little town to see what I could find. Work opportunities didn’t just miraculously happen, but….well, let me put it this way, within two weeks some heaven led events did happen. I helped unload a shipment for the local food bank. I got to know two of the ministers from different denominations in the area by their first names. I cleaned shelves at the local library. I did landscaping for a nursing home. I was given a few free meals for my volunteer work. I helped with some concrete work, and was paid more per hour than I ever made in my life even though I had volunteered to do the work for free. Three job offers were extended to me. One of which I accepted, and it changed the course of my life dramatically. The more complete story can be found in the chapter covering Levels 40 to 50 of my life. (The reason I use levels instead of age will be explained later.)