Family Report to Elder Ben

Monday Sept 26 No school today – Teacher Development Day. Didn’t really do anything fun as a family. Though sleeping in until 9am was “fun” for Sam, Jacob & Ammon.

Really mostly for Sam who rarely gets to sleep in. I still had my morning walk with Eliza. Weight workout. Clients.

Grandma report:

Mom had a rough night. They said she was really anxious, like screaming and yelling. They had to give her a pill about 2:00 in the morning to calm her down. Then they couldn’t wake her at 7:00 when the aide came to the shower her. 
So they let her sleep a little bit longer. Then got her up and showered. She ate a little oatmeal for breakfast in bed. Went to the salon to get her hair curled like she does each Monday. 
I got there about noon. They said she only ate about a third of her lunch. Well just the vegetables and a little bit of a cupcake and that was it. 
She was sleepy. She didn’t know who I was. Mostly garbled words. I could hardly understand anything she was trying to say. I stayed for a little bit and took her back out to the Commons area.

Tuesday Sept 27 Morning walk with Eliza – 3.5 miles. Client paperwork.
Sam and a few others were Student of the Month. There was a little recognition party for them and the parents in a small conference room with pizza and dessert for lunch. Each teach who nominated the kids gave a little highlight of why they nominated the student. I’ve attached Mr. Hurst’s spiel about Sam. 
 CJC clients in the afternoon.

Grandma report:

Mom was in bed at 7:00 when I went to see her. Happy and chatting away with her angel friends. Half of the time she was speaking Spanish. That’s a new one. She talked about being ready for some new adventures with her husband.  She blew me a kiss when I was getting ready to leave. 😘

I think I forgot to tell you last Tuesday Jacob, Ammon & I went around the neighborhood doing cub scout popcorn sales. We went to (Bishop) Slack’s house and saw him for the first time since his stroke. He looks like he is recovering well, but has no use of his left arm, and his speech is not back-to-normal, but you can tell he is really trying hard. He said in his slower speech that he’s going to try to make it back to work next week. Sister Slack gave me a side glance with the “Wishful thinking” look. I told him to keep working towards those goals! Sheesh – strokes suck. When your Grandpa Leavitt had his 1st minor stroke he had a blessing that he would make some recovery, but it would be difficult.

Then a week after he had the massive stroke in which blood filled 50+% of his brain. Sigh. Yeah. Your great Aunt Elaine asked her great-great grandma Mary Stucki Hafen her secret to a long healthy life (Mary walked across the plains pushing a handcart as a little girl and she died at 101 in 1980). This is what she said:

  1. Take naps with your babies
  2. don’t borrow trouble
  3. eat very little red meat.
  4. In a later conversation she added, also eat dandelions.

Wednesday Sept 28 Morning walk with Eliza. 3.17 miles. Dad had his annual check-up with the doctor who gave him the typical old-man advice: eat more fiber, take more walks. I went out to lunch with Denise Jamsa (your old violin teacher). She has posted something on Facebook about her mom being in memory care, so I figured it would be good for her to have someone to talk to who is in the same boat. PLUS I wanted to catch up with my old music friend/family! It was so good for both of us. We chatted for nearly 2 hours, and could have gone more. 

Grandma report:

Mom had another fall  around 8pm in the commons area. She fell out of her wheelchair. Don’t know if she was trying to stand up or just slid out. They didn’t say. Seems to be “okay”…as okay as mom can be. 🫤
This afternoon when I visited she was very wound up and anxious. Talking a lot but I couldn’t understand anything.

Thursday Sept 29 I didn’t have my typical morning walk with Eliza because I was on a FMF Operations Board meeting call at 7am. Dad helped a guy in our ward move – Nathan Davis. Anthony came over around 1pm to chat and talk about his proposal and honeymoon plans. Went on a long 3.76 mile walk with Eliza and E while Jacob was at swim practice. Julles went to the BYU football game (game not on a Saturday because of General Conference). 
Grandma report:

I went over at 8pm, but she was already asleep in bed. The door was open and they had the TV on the classical music station.
I went back to the commons area and Kalani (CNA) asked, “did your mom live in Mexico?” 
I told the nurse about our ward in PHX becoming a bilingual ward around 1997 and mom learned Spanish so she could speak with the members. 
Apparently mom had been speaking more Spanish than English today! Kalani asked mom to speak English for her. But the other Hispanic nurses probably think it’s great!
Alzheimer’s causes holes in the brain. Perhaps the English language center is gone, but her Spanish language center is still intact? So interesting….

Friday Sept 30 Dad, James and Anthony went up to Fairview this morning to help work on the yurt. James and Anthony planned to stay overnight and come back Saturday afternoon.

I had an 8am client in the office. When we finished at 9am I wanted to hurry back home to make sure Ammon got off to school. After I finished my 8am client, I grabbed my therapy bag, locked the door, took one step and realized I locked my purse in the room WITH my keys to my car AND the room. Good thing I only live 1.8 miles away and it was a beautiful morning for a walk. I’m grateful I followed the impression to not wear my sandals to work this morning but to wear my tennis shoes. Also it was good that Jacob stayed home this morning (his legs hurt from swimming the day before – and didn’t want to do PE today – golf.) Jacob got Ammon off to school.

I Walked home and got the spare keys. Got Eliza and she and I walked back down to drive the car back home – just in time to get ready for my Telehealth sessions at home.

During swim practice I walked another 3.4 miles with Eliza. Total mileage for today = 7. When I came up to a street light in Provo, another dog ran across the street to see Eliza and nearly got hit by a car. The other dog was literally 1 foot away from being crushed. The owner had her on a leash, but didn’t have a tight grip because he was distracted talking with someone else, and his dog lunged out of his hands. So grateful for the driver who was fully paying attention. He and I chatted for a bit while the 2 puppies jumped around and played. 

After swim practice took Jacob to the food trucks and got Big South Soul Food. With all your talk of bland Chilean country food, I won’t torture you other than to say you’ll have to try this food truck when you get back. There was a couple behind me in line who follow this truck wherever they go. The couple lives in Lehi!

Went to the MMHS vs. Springville football game. Ammon wanted to pick up trash again. I came to sit next to Sam in the pep band to give him some dinner. It was half-time and the band director (Mr. Hurst) was wandering through talking to the students. He saw me and said this is the only way you can see Sam is to come sit with him in a band? I said yes this is how I know what he is doing. For instance I just found out tomorrow he is going to the demolition derby in Logan with the MMHS demo car. Good thing he also has a detailing job in Logan to make some money that day as well! Sam told me he also went to the junk yard 2x today after school to pull a starter off a junker to put it on the demolition derby car. The first one he got and brought back someone busted when they accidentally dropped the engine. Then he had to go back to the junk yard to pull a 2nd starter. Fortunately it came off easily so it wasn’t a major pain. But he proudly showed me the back of his shirt covered in dirt and oil! 😆
The football game was painful to watch. Interception after interception including a 91 yard touchdown by Springville. It’s hard to see any team so deflated, especially MMHS. MMHS 20, Springville 74. The last 3 minutes of the game it looked like Springville was going to make another touchdown (and hit 80), but MMHS finally got fired up and prevented it. 

Saturday Oct 1 Didn’t do a morning walk. Since Sam took the Prius to Logan, and Anthony left his car at our house when he carpooled with James up to Fairview, I needed to fill up Anthony’s car with gas or me to drive to Heber.
Jacob had a swim meet this morning in Heber. I took Ammon with us. I saw my former cello student, Brooke, along with her husband, parents who were there to cheer her daughter (Ruby), who is the same age as Jacob. So interesting to see how life marches on, yet stays the same. Jacob did great and in one of the heats was 1st place. 

50 Back old 40.31Y / new 35.82 
100 Medley  old 1:32.55 / new 1:22.5?
100 Breast old No Time / new 1:36.36
50 Fly old 46.04 / new 37.32

He wanted Sushi Burrito as his pat on the back. We also met up with someone who I ordered some authentic Chilean beef empanadas. Ground beef with sauteed onions and hard boiled egg in the middle. Probably jazzed up for the Americans? (Pictures attached)Dad and June chopped up jalapenos while I was at the swim meet so when I got back I could make “Cowboy Candy”. 

Grandma report:

I sat with mom during the afternoon session of conference. The first 30 minutes 2 of the residents were talkative (their normal mumbling), and mom in her gentle way kept saying with a smile, “shh, I can’t hear”. She was alert the whole time, watching and smiling at the speaker on the TV.

 James and Anthony got back around 4pm exhausted, but with some great pictures and time-lapse videos of the yurt. It’s pretty much finished! I’ll ask them to send the finalized videos.They had some of the Chilean beef empanadas with my new batch of cowboy candy and said it was FAN-tasTIC.

The demolition derby event with the MMHS car didn’t have a high school heat, but they were combined with others. Payson HS had 2 cars and Provo HS had 1 car. MMHS derby car didn’t do too well, the cable to the battery terminal came off at the early part of the smash-up and the driver (Aubrey) couldn’t get it back on. This demo derby was recorded by “Gladiators of Steel” who are putting together a documentary about how demolition derby’s are the best form of sport. I’d send you these links, but it’ll probably be blocked for you. I’ll send it here anyway – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-1dRAINPcnk  (Trailer)https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BXH8Sq5R6Y8 (No participation trophies)

Sunday Oct 2 Morning walk with Eliza 3.15 miles. She is SOOO smart. When we got to the dog park at 7:30am, our usual weekend friends weren’t there. So Eliza and I circled around the block. When we got again to the corner, she didn’t see the dogs, BUT she recognized their car and IMMEDIATELY began pulling like an Iditarod sled dog. They had fun playing for about 15 minutes, but the cold wet grass brought their play to an end. Eliza went back to the gate and sat there waiting for me! 

Listened to Conference in the kitchen while cleaning up and making 2 dozen cinnamon rolls. Anthony and Gracey came over to watch Conference with us. Dinner was leftovers. I was done cooking! We actually are at 300 temples!168 operating53 under construction5 in renovation74 announced

I love going to the temple! 

Seen by Julles on the way to the BYU football game
Mom makes batches of cowboy candy (candied jalapenos)
Chilean empenadas
Close up
Inside
Grandma Grace chillin
Grandma Grace’s place
Sam in the football Pep Band
Sam and fellow Students of the Month for September at Maple Mountain High School
Jacob doing butterfly at a swim meet
Provo intersection corner – music store gone – ready for new construction

Family Report (letter to Ben)

I’ve been listening to your daily journal and you said you’d call 12noon Utah time! But then you called 9:30am our time! I’m glad we finally caught each other at 2pm. Yes, please send a message early on your Monday morning once you know your schedule so I/we can plan. 

Since you didn’t get last week’s email from me, did you happen to get the email/article/picture I sent about Jaren Hall and the double overtime? Really moving story and picture.

Ben, you said you do read my epistles, so here is another one!
Monday 19thNormal stuff for me – 630am dog walk, then weight workout, client, piano lessons for Jacob and Ammon. Did a test run of Ghanain Jollof Rice. Total fail. Gave it to the chickens. They loved it.Lynette visited Grandma in the afternoon:

When I visited she didn’t want anything to do with me. She had no idea who I was. She was in the Commons room and I sat down by her and every time an aide would walk by she’d wave them down and point to me and say ‘this lady needs help.’ 🙄

Tuesday 20thGorgeous morning for a walk. Light rain, thunder and lightning above the mountains, golden clouds. I’ve attached a video. Sure do love our little slice of heaven here.I picked up your 6’1″ cut out to have available for family events. When Eliza noticed you standing in the living room she barked at you for 5 minutes! Then she sat down and watched you. See video and picture. I didn’t tell anyone I was getting it today so I got to see people’s reactions. It was funny! Wish I had a hidden camera to capture it for ya!

Tried another batch of Jollof Rice. Better, but not quite there yet. Followed the instructions of “let it burn on the bottom for a genuine smoky flavor” (haha- it’s totally true though!)Led Group Therapy at the CJC. Took the Impala for its weekly run. Jacob carpooled to swim practice. Ammon went to Cub Scouts with Dad. I went to visit Grandma in the evening. Here’s my text to my siblings:

Arrived at mom’s at 8pm and 2 aides were with her in the bathroom getting her ready for bed. She saw me and gave me a big smile. She was able to use her walker from the bathroom to her bed, but was ready to not be moving anymore by the time she got to her bed! She tried to talk to me, but I couldn’t understand anything she was trying to say. I put on the classical music channel on the TV and she closed her eyes, enjoying the music and was in between sleep and awake.

Wednesday 21stMornings are getting darker for our daily walks. Chillier, but not freezing. I picked up 3 fallen peaches from an unattended tree. I’m done processing peaches, but it sure is nice to have some fresh ones on the counter to snack on. Had some clients this morning and an intro training about Play Therapy – way cool stuff. Dad went to our accountant to finish off our 2021 taxes. We filed an extension because Julles couldn’t quite figure out how to do the oil wells. TurboTax doesn’t include that in their program. Gee I wonder why? Our accountant did all the numbers and filing with the oil wells and we ended up getting a refund. Going to turn it around and do another oil well!
Lynette went to visit Grandma this afternoon

Mom’s very sleepy today. Frailness in her voice. Expressionless face for the most part. She held my hand for a while. She tried to talk but I really couldn’t understand. I told her tomorrow is her sister’s birthday. She tried to ask if we were going to send her a card. I said she died 4 years ago. She was surprised. Aunt Dawna would have been 100 today. I told her I loved her before I left. She tried to say something back to me but I couldn’t make anything out.

I drove the swim carpool. Dad took Ammon to the flag football playoffs. After swim, I was able to get Jacob dropped off at YM at 7:10 then caught the last 30 minutes of Ammon’s football playoffs. They didn’t win, but they had fun!  (See picture)

Earlier in the day I made another batch of Jollof Rice and took it to the combined Young Women/Young Men activity which was about missionaries and missionary work. The adults made and brought various foods from around the world. There were stations to 1) learn how to sew a button on pants 2) iron a shirt 3) write and address a letter. The leaders also had letters for each youth to open where they had been called to labor. Sam was at Marching Band practice, but I brought home a plate of food, and his “mission call”. See attached videos.

Thursday 22nd (Aunt Dawna’s 100th birthday)Morning walk. Clients. Dad took Ammon to choir practice while I drove swim carpool.
From Lynette:

Mom was in her wheelchair in her room after lunch. She’d open her eyes once in a while and look at the ceiling back and forth and close her eyes again. She had a grin on her face most of the time. I read to her for a while from my book. After about an hour had passed she started opening her eyes more and seemed to be talking to angels for a minute and then closed her eyes again. She gradually got more awake and started asking me questions about getting ready to go and what time the program is tonight, etc.She asked where I was going to sing with the choir and where I’d be. As I was getting ready to leave, she was bright-eyed and wanted to know where we were going to sit for the program tonight and “need to hurry and get there early so we can get a good seat. I should be dressed up more than this, don’t you think? Mother will be there too.”
As I left, I took her out to the Commons area and she looked around the room and asked, “Where did Mother go?” I told her not to worry and said that she’d be back. So interesting that I could actually understand some of the things she was saying in the that 30 minutes whereas most of this week I couldn’t understand anything she was trying to say. I also haven’t heard her talk about her mother lately so that was interesting to me. Oh, and one of the things she said while looking around the room was “So there’ll be the 3 of us there then?”

From me:I arrived at 7:45pm and mom was in the living room area in the recliner, but nearly falling out. When she saw me she nearly cried and reached out to give me a hug. “Oh, thank you for coming! I don’t want to leave you!” I moved her up in the chair and I began to have a nearly coherent conversation.“I feel like my brain is gone. What do I do about that?”There’s nothing we can do about that here on this earth. It’s time for your body and brain to rest and for your spirit to move on. You can leave this body behind and do all the things you love again – sing, play piano and organ, dance with no pain.

Her eyes opened wide, “really? No pain? How do I do that? [go on]”When your sister Dawna or your husband Henry comes, just reach out your hand and they will show you how to go.  

Pause. “Hmm. I’m not ready to go.”I understand. I hear from others it is hard to leave the body behind. 
“Is that so?”
“I am so tired”

Yes, you would be with all the angel visitors you have been having the past month. They have everything ready for you. 

Mom’s eyes were closed and she smiled and nodded contentedly. We cycled through this conversation a few times with a few variations, and then her speech became very garbled.

I had one of the CNA’s (Alyssa) come help move her to the wheelchair so we could get her ready for bed. 

As Alyssa (a CNA) was helping get mom ready in the bathroom mom said her usual, “thank you so much”. Alyssa replied, “thank you Grace for always being so kind”

After we got her in bed and situated mom asked, “where will I wake up?”
Here. (Though I wanted to say, ‘in heaven’)
Mom patted my hand and said again, “I don’t want to leave you. You girls have been so good to me. Thank you for everything you’ve done. How do I go again?”
You just reach out your hand to Dawna or Henry when they come.

She closed her eyes and mumbled something about “Ready for a ride in the car”. Friday 23rd 

Beautiful morning walk with Eliza Doglittle as usual. No doggie friends at the dog park. Everytime we get close to the park she pulls and pulls, and when we get there with no one there she gets sad 🙁

Dad went to Fairview again with Dave Lewis and LaMont to keep working on the platform for the yurt. Another week’s worth of activity in one day for dad. He came home exhausted again. Dave Lewis got him a Mountain Dew from the gas station, but it was DIET. Dave took it back into the station to exchange, but the gas station ONLY had DIET of ALL sodas! Gross, and I don’t even drink sodas.

In the afternoon Jacob had a swim meet. While I was doing my internship the past year I wasn’t very good about getting him registered in time for the meets. He didn’t do as many in 2021 as he should have. I challenged him to do an event that he hasn’t done yet. He picked the Butterfly 100 Meter (or 4 laps). Butterfly is the hardest stroke because you have to pull yourself up and out of the water while keeping your arms straight. His swim heat had 2 high school kids and 2 Jr. High kids (he was one of those). I was a lane timer for the high school kid, but was watching Jacob as much as I could (wasn’t allowed to take video behind the starting blocks because of “Safe Sport” rules.) When I was comparing the fast high schooler who had massive shoulders with Jacob, I was really impressed with Jacob’s form and the strength building in his broadening shoulders and he’s not even 14 yet! (He’ll be 14 November 3rd).

Jacob also did the 50 meter freestyle and shaved 4 seconds off his last time from July’s swim meet. 

  • 50 M freestyle (front crawl) – 30.4 seconds (8th place for 13-14 year olds)
  • 100 M butterfly – 1 minute 20 seconds (3rd place for 13-14 year olds)

Sam had a detailing gig that bailed on him. He was bummed. James left for Fairview to take a turn helping with the yurt. He also took a 1 man hiking tent to sleep there overnight and help all day Saturday. 

Saturday 24thSam left at 5:30am to go to the Welding lab to work on his power wheels project. Then at 9am he went to marching band practice until 5:30pm. He had a 12 hour day at the school on Saturday. As dad (Dave) would say, “it was just a half day”.

Anthony borrowed the Prius to drive to St. George with Gracey. He asked Gracey’s dad for her hand in marriage. In a private room he asked Dan (her dad), “I want to marry your daughter.” Dan gave a long pause and asked, “what are your plans for the future?” Anthony told him he plans to attend MTECH (vocational school) in the fall and start the machining certification to do precision laser CNC work with metal. Anthony already knows CNC for wood, but the metal work is much more in demand with higher pay. Dan said, “That’s good, but you should also start your own business.” Dan is the CFO of some large company. 

Dad, Jacob & Ammon took your Caprice and I took the Impala to the Wings and Wheels event at the SF airport. I parked on the street next to the industrial complexes, but dad took your Caprice into the event parking lot. The parking attendant immediately asked, “Are you selling the Caprice?” The attendant said it should go to the car show event. 🙂  We got there in time for the air acrobatics show. After 30 minutes Ammon was whining and wanted to go see other stuff. Jacob and dad stayed to watch more airplane acrobatics. The Gail Halvorsen “Candy Bomber” Foundation had a STEM “Fun Bus” with flight simulators inside. Ammon tried a simulator on a laptop for a few minutes, but couldn’t figure it out. We went to see some more exhibits. Dad and Jacob left about 11:30, but I had Ammon stay with me. We watched the drag racing warm-ups, the RC flyers, wandered through the car show, ate from the Waffle Love food truck (shortest line). Then Ammon wanted to try the flight simulators again. This time there was someone there to help kids work the controls. Ammon stayed there for nearly 2 hours. I had my camping chair so I just sat outside the bus in the shade and people watched while reading. He would come out every 20 minutes or so really excited. He figured out how to switch plane profiles and was starting to help the other kids around him. 

The grand finale they had a WWII plane with a Rolls Royce V12 engine do some fly-bys. The announcer would say, “imagine this sound duplicated x100 going over Germany with the Allied forces. Now here’s an explosion of what one bomb would sound like.” The pyrotechnics people had a barrel full of gasoline that exploded as the plane flew over. They did that twice. Pretty amazing! During this grand finale Ammon said he was done and started to walk away. When he realized he didn’t know where the Impala was he got really frustrated! 

At 8pm we had an impromptu 18th birthday party for Ryan. When June kept asking him what he wanted to do, or eat, or anything he replied, “Nothing. Nothing. Nothing.” Last week he blew a tire on his car and June bought 2 new back tires. Sam found in trunk of your car a shredded tire, so we had Sam put that on the kitchen table with a bow. June went and got Barry’s Drive-Inn and a cake from Macey’s. We convinced him to come upstairs to the kitchen to come get food (a feat in itself). We sang Happy Birthday over a shredded tire, fast food and a chocolate cake. Perfect birthday for Ryan!

Kalani (CNA) said Grandma was in her bed most of the day today. However, Grandma was having a grand time talking with all her angel visitors. 

BYU football game started at 8pm vs. Wyoming Cowboys (unranked). BYU won 38-24 (they are still #19). In history, it was this same team in 1969 that had 14 black players who were kicked off the team because of their protest against an upcoming game with BYU and church policy regarding blacks and the priesthood. If you want to know more (black14.net):

The Black 14 is a story of fourteen black student-athletes from the 1969 University of Wyoming (UW) football team who were unfairly kicked off the team for requesting to participate in a peaceful protest planned by the Black Students’ Alliance (BSA) during an upcoming game versus Brigham Young University (BYU).

Three years prior to the 1969 football game between UW and BYU, the Cowboys won 31 of 36 games, had played in the Sun Bowl and the Sugar Bowl, and were ranked #12 in the UPI Board of Coaches Poll.

Leading up to the  BYU game (October 18, 1969), seven of the 14 African-American players were starters.  John Griffin was the leading receiver and his cohort Ron Hill led in kickoff returns and scored Wyoming’s first touchdown in college football’s centennial year. Joe Williams, Tony Gibson, and Ted Williams were the top four rushers. Tony McGee tackled the Air Force quarterback for a loss seven times in UW’s come-from-behind win at AFA. Early that week, the BSA announced plans to protest UW’s participation in the game against BYU.

This protest was in response to a tenet held by the church that owns BYU, stating that African-Americans could not ascend to the priesthood.  The BSA release stated that using university facilities and student monies to host BYU sanctioned that tenet. Upon approaching coach Lloyd Eaton to discuss how they might show solidarity with the Black Student Alliance, wearing black armbands as a symbol of protest, the 14 Black players were kicked off the team. He based this punishment on his team rules: 1) scholarship players could not participate in demonstrations, and 2) they could not form factions within the team.

Realizing these rules could be unconstitutional, UW withdrew the rules the following week, but players were not reinstated. Their story was covered nationally, including an article in Sports Illustrated. The Denver Post carried an editorial asking whether football was more important in Wyoming than human rights.

ESPN article on Saturday:

BYU on Saturday night will recognize members of the Black 14, a group of former Wyoming players kicked off the team in 1969 for wanting to protest a Latter-day Saints church policy that prohibited Black men from becoming priests.

Black 14 members Mel Hamilton and John Griffin will serve as “Y Lighters” and be honored before BYU’s home game against Wyoming. In 1969, Hamilton, Griffin and 12 of their Black teammates requested to wear black armbands for the BYU game as part of a protest by the school’s Black Student Alliance against the LDS church priest policy. Wyoming coach Lloyd Eaton kicked them off the team.

The Black 14 later formed a philanthropic organization to serve communities in need, and it partnered with Latter-day Saint Charities to provide food for communities. In 2020, the group delivered more than 180 tons of food in eight states near the homes of the Black 14 members.

BYU’s communications school made a documentary about the Black 14 and its work with LDS charities, which was shown to BYU coaches and athletes, and aired publicly in Provo, Utah, this week. Hamilton and Griffin have participated in several discussions and presentations at BYU’s campus this week. They will be on the field at LaVell Edwards Stadium for the first time since the 1968 game between BYU and Wyoming.

“It took me years to share my story, I was angry for 10 years,” Griffin said in a statement. “What we decided to do, and when Mel reached out to [former BYU quarterback] Gifford Nielsen, was to develop a partnership that dealt with giving back food to those who are in need. That relationship has grown into something pretty darn special. If you look at what happened to us in 1969, you could say now that it was a tragedy turned into philanthropy. That’s in essence what we’ve done, and we aren’t done yet.”

BYU president Kevin Worthen added: “It’s pretty powerful to say, we can get a lot done for our communities to help them but also help heal the wounds that have been felt in the past as we do service today.”Deseret News article:
…The University of Wyoming formally apologized to the Black 14 in 2019. Hamilton’s son Malik became a Latter-day Saint years ago.

“Never did I hate the people of the Latter-day Saint religion,” Hamilton has said. “It was a mission of mine to … speak out wherever I went to clarify we don’t hate people. We just wanted that one policy changed. And thank God, there was a revelation that changed it.”Sunday 25thStake Conference: 8am youth session dad went with Jacob & Sam. I took Ammon at 9:00 with me for Choir warm up. The youth had the traditional breakfast cereal at 9am, and to encourage them to stay and chat with others (learn how to talk to each other face-to-face!). James joined us for the 10am session. President Martin is so awesome. He mentioned in conference how the visiting Seventy for our last stake conference said that in every stake he visits he always gets an overall feeling for the spiritual state for the stake. The Seventy said, “Your stake is a very meek stake. This is wonderful because they are teachable.” 

Those who were presented to be ordained to the office of an Elder: Ryan Seegmiller, Enzo Allred, Nick Nielsen (and another guy from our ward I didn’t know) along with others from our stake. With you being gone I miss having Enzo around!
I visited with grandma in the afternoon:

Mom at the dinner table tried to hush the people around, “shh, can’t you hear the music?” (But garbled speech) and she was conducting in a slow 4/4 nearly for the whole meal. She didn’t eat much (I was helping her), but she did drink all her water. Attached is a short video.

For Sunday dinner I made Texas Lasagna to use up the corn tortillas that nobody eats. I’ve had such rare experiences with good corn tortillas. Dutch Oven Cherry Chocolate Cobbler with left over 2 Liter of Dr. Pepper from LaMont and Kris. Sam was the fire starter and cook for the dutch oven outside. Even though I said 10 coals on bottom and 20 on top, when I went out there the top was stacked full of coals. Of course the top was burnt, but still tasted fine once we peeled off the top layer.

Anthony & Gracey came back from St. George and Anthony told us about asking Dan to marry Gracey. 

Jacob REALLY wanted to watch another Shakespeare play, so we watched “Taming of the Shrew” with Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton. It was 2 hours and Jacob said, that felt more like 45 minutes. He really likes Shakespeare!

Lynette sent another text in the evening about Grandma:

Tonight when Amanda and I went to visit Mom she was in the Commons area. She was crying. We came up to her, said hello and asked her what was wrong. She said, “I’m going to die. I don’t want to die.” We wheeled her down to her bedroom and Amanda and I each held her hands and pretty much had the conversation I think LaReita had with her on Thursday about how we can understand why it would be scary, but that it would be okay and she didn’t need to worry. 
We assured her that she’s lived a good life and Heavenly Father and her parents are proud of her. She said, “I’ve tried to be good.” We assured her that she has served and loved others all her life. Going to heaen will be a eaceful and joyous experience, etc. She asked, “So I’ll be in a new world?”
After a while she said that she felt better and then she kept repeating the question “are you sure it will be okay?” At one point she said, “ok I’m ready then.” She expressed her love for both of us and thanked us for all we’ve done. The aides came in and helped get her ready for bed. I stayed for a few minutes and asked her if we could say a prayer together. She said that would be nice. As I started to pray she said, “I hear a bell ringing.” After I finished she went to sleep pretty quickly. 

That’s all for this week. I really should rough draft each day so this doesn’t take me 2+ hours on Monday! All the images/videos were too big with one email and I can’t do a drive link to your missionary.org address, so I’ll be sending the rest in separate emails. I even shrunk the file sizes down!

– LaReita Berky (mom)

Eliza (lower-left) examines Ben’s IRL avitar
Eliza “welcomes” Ben
Ammon’s final flag football game (for 2022)
Mom’s first attempt at jollof rice (African dish)
Grandma Grace still conducts
Spanish Fork sunrise
Mission calls – YM activity
Spanish Fork Wings and Wheels day – acrobatic airplanes
Drag racing
Ammon tries out a flight simulator
Air car (airplane?)
For those longer commutes
Ammon plays on the Fun Bus
1933 Chevy
1971 El Camino
1970 Jaguar
1961 Studebaker
VW Bus
County Sheriff – all terrain/airspace vehicle
“Mormon Mustang”
1949 Piper
VL 3

Rolls Royce V12
Sea Bush planes
Air show stunt duos
Stunt duos – part 2
Stunt solo
LaMont’s yurt – platform 30′ diameter
Wall up, roof frame going up
Walls and roof frame finished (so far)

Family letter to Elder Ben

Elder Ben Berky,

We love you and are proud of you. Since we missed talking to you last week, and I don’t know when we’ll chat again, I thought it’d be good for you to hear how we are all doing.

We are praying for your continued safety and an abundance of the Spirit to be with you. Remember to always find the good and nurture the good each day. ❤ This helps to invite the Spirit 😉

Monday

Sam made his first $325 payment for his Fine Arts (Band/Choir/Orchestra) NYC tour in March. It all came from his own earnings! He has recently posted an ad for his motorcycle washing/detailing biz in a few motorcycle groups and has been getting a lot of interest. He has his next 5 detailing jobs scheduled. ($50 per motorcycle, though he is going to raise his rates to $75. People say regarding his $50 charge, “that’s all?”) We still hardly see him between school, band, working at Mike’s, and now his new side gig. He leaves at 6:50am for early morning seminary, sometimes catch him for 30 minutes around the afternoon time, and then not again until 10pm! He got picked as Student of the Month for September (see attachment).

Tuesday

I had group at the CJC in Provo as I usually do in the afternoon, so I asked Dad to take Jacob to swim practice. He took your Caprice. It was raining. It wouldn’t get above 45mph on the freeway, then at the Springville exit it decelerated to 25mph. Every time he tried to accelerate, it decelerated. Sam thinks the last time the Caprice acted this way it was also raining. Did it do this for you? 

Fortunately James was just getting off work and picked up Jacob at the Springville exit and took him to swim practice. Dad called the tow truck, and while waiting he was browsing on KSL.com for a new used car. I think we are becoming partial to Toyota’s hybrids. 

Wednesday

I did inititories in the morning at the Payson temple. I put a whole slew of names on the prayer roll. 

Jacob AND Ryan went with the YM to do baptisms in the evening. Sam didn’t go as he had Band practice 6-9pm.

James brought home a flyer for Institute classes that are on Wednesday evenings. I asked if he was going. He said, “they didn’t say on the flyer which building”. I said, ‘Which building did you get the flyer from?” He replied, “the YSA church building.” I smiled and nodded and smiled even bigger 🙂 

He didn’t go, but we’ll keep working on him! 

Thursday

Ammon had his 2nd practice with the Millenial Choirs (Children’s choir). There are probably 50 kids in the children’s choir and I was really impressed with the organization in the drop-off and pick-up of the kids. The conductor is Mr. Mendenhall, who James had at MMHS and LOVED. 

Friday

Dad went to Fairview with Dave Lewis and LaMont to do more building of the yurt floor. He came home exhausted again with a month’s worth of physical exercise in one day. Dave Lewis did a time-lapse video that we’ll send the link to watch (if you are able to watch it). 

Sorry I missed your video call in the early afternoon! I didn’t have my laptop with me when the Facebook Messenger call came through, and I didn’t even hear it ring through. 🙁

I took Ammon with me to the Friday Homecoming game to also watch Sam and the marching band perform at half-time. Ammon brought his Macey’s sack and picked up garbage in the stands for the 2nd half. He earned $9 from people who thanked him for his work. He was pretty excited about that, but as we were walking back to the car he said, “The money was nice, but I really liked the thank you’s more.” Then he asked when the next game was going to be 🙂

Score: Wasatch 55 MMHS 17

Saturday 

Cubscout popcorn sales season is here! Dad took Ammon to the Payson Smith’s from 8-10am to sell popcorn. They made $290 in sales with some cash donations. It would be easier to just pay his yearly dues without doing the sales, but the popcorn sales really helps him to learn marketing, money, and hard work! There’s a new popcorn flavor that is “Flamin’ Hot” that is our new favorite. Probably similar to Taki’s.

Ammon’s last flag football game was at 10am. He was tired from standing for 2 hours selling popcorn, and didn’t really run much (he usually doesn’t anyway). But he did almost have a few catches! He also likes to hang out at the back to be “Safety”. I’ve included a short 1 minute video compilation. I have been playing catch with him every few days. I’m also practicing when he catches the ball, to know which direction he needs to run. We practice the muscle memory: catch the ball, turn and run! There have been 2 times in games that he’s caught the ball and ran to the wrong end-zone! His team (the Raiders) made it to the play-offs and have another game this coming Wednesday. 

Sam had his first marching band competition in Payson (Mt. Nebo Invitational). There were 12 bands. MMHS got 2nd place – woohoo! Dad was exhausted and stayed home to take a nap so June came instead. We went to see her property in Salem (great views!) We also stopped at the Payson Pet Hospital for Eliza’s final round of puppy shots. 

James went up to Fairview in the early afternoon and helped some more with the yurt. Exchange work for LaMont and Tanner coming over a month ago to hook up the CAT5 network cabling to James’ trailer. 🙂

I took Ammon, Jacob & Eliza to the Utah Valley Refugees potluck dinner in Orem. The majority of the refugees in Utah County are from the DR-Congo. Utah Valley Refugee’s organization has 2-3 advocate American families who serve as mentors/helpers/ministering families to help the DR-Congo families adjust to American life. We are just monthly donors to help the organization. 

In the evening Jacob went over to Lyla’s to hang out with her and Jakob Meyer. Actually, Jakob Meyer wanted to hang out with Lyla, but Lyla was uncomfortable being alone with just one boy, so she invited her best friend Jacob Berky to also be there 🙂 

Speaking of our Jacob, he leaves each morning at 7:20 to walk to SF Jr. High. I’m already walking with Eliza during that time, so I’ve changed my route to meet up with him and we walk together until the corner of Canyon Road. Eliza gets really upset leaving him behind as he continues to school and we continue home!

Eliza is getting really good at jumping up to catch the frisbee in my hand. She can get up to 4 or 4.5 feet high! Now I just need to encourage her to run after the frisbee. Sometimes she’ll chase it, but not until it already has hit the ground, and her retrieval rate (bringing it back to me) is only about 50%. I sent a text to the lady from whom we bought Eliza to give her an update (the lady requested let her know how the puppy is doing). She was so happy to hear from me:

“Thank you for letting me know how Eliza is doing. I always enjoy hearing about and seeing the pups. Thank you for the photos (I sent her a google album of just Eliza pictures). She looks like she is very loved, content and happy. Thank you for giving her such a good home. My husband passed away a month ago. I know this makes him happy too!”

Sunday

Lynette sent this message to the sibling chat group about 10:30am:

Mom was really struggling to speak this morning. Could barely talk. Was really quiet and had her eyes closed most of the time I was curling her hair. Then we finished watching the Music and The Spoken Word in her room. Long story short (I typed up the details) she was trying to tell me goodbye again. In a very clear and understandable voice said that her sister Dawna was coming today and that Henry had everything ready.

Side note: This is one of the rare times in the past 10 years that she has mentioned grandpa Henry by name without prompting from one of us. 

I went over at 1pm and sent this:

I just spent a couple hours with mom. Yes, I can barely understand anything she is trying to say. Very animated, but no understandable words. She tried to talk to me, but when I just nodded and smiled she began to look upward and mumble towards the ceiling and to the other unseen beings in the room. So very hard to see her in this state. She did mention again something about a party and a car coming for her.

Kylie came over at 3pm and played a game with Dave, Julles, June and Jacob until 5:20pm. I was at stake choir practice from 3:40-5:10. We sent Kylie home with 2 dozen eggs (which I hope were still good- they may have gotten frozen in the outside fridge), tomatoes and blackberries from the garden.
Anthony & Gracey came over for dinner. We had breakfast casserole with garden fresh sautéed onions & peppers (serrano, bell, banana & Anaheim). I know, I know, I’m killing ya mentioning all this fresh food. I also got for my birthday some new restaurant quality stainless steel pans. While doing more Alzheimer’s research prevention, heavy metals of aluminum and iron have been found in excess amounts in the brains of dementia patients. Since we have been using cast iron exclusively I thought it would be prudent to take preventative steps now and start cooking on stainless steel.   Last week we tried to watch “South Pacific” musical, but it was really slow. At intermission it was 10:15pm and we all went to bed, except dad. He stayed up to finish it. I think we are done with all the ‘good’ musicals for now. We are going to start watching Shakespeare plays on Sundays. Probably just the comedies and not the tragedies! Jacob is in TWO drama classes and loving the acting. In his theatre classes they have been doing a unit on Shakespeare since school started. We watched the comedy “Twelfth Night” from 1996 with an all-star cast. Such a good production. Even Anthony was laughing at some of the Shakespearean jokes! Helena Bonham Carter (who played Bellatrix Lestrange in Harry Potter) was playing a lead role. To see this actress not play a deranged Bellatrix was interesting! 
If you make it all the way to the end of this – congratulations! That must mean you love us. 🙂

Caprice putters out in the rain
Eliza tries the frizbee
Sam awarded Student of the Month at MMHS
Ammon and Eliza
Ammon’s last flag football game

Ammon’s 8th Birthday Party

Pizza!
more pizza
and more pizza!
Brothers waiting their turn for a go at the pizza
Pizza for brothers also
Two table feast
Cake and presents
Helicopter present from James
King for the Day
King Anthony holds court
James and Ammon
Ammon on the obstacles
Sam flip
Jacob flip
Battle: Ben vs Sam
Battle: Ben vs Jacob
Battle: Ben vs James
Battle: Ben vs Anthony

Ben’s High School Graduation

The 2022 Graduates of Maple Mountain High School in Spanish Fork, UT assemble
Ben walks up to the stand
Ben on the big screen
Ben receives his diploma
Ben posing
Family picture – Jacob, LaReita, Sam, Ben, Ammon, David, Anthony, James
Strong men
Ben and younger twin, Ammon
E, Julles and Ben
Kaleigh and Ben and Ammon
Dressing up for the graduation dress rehersal

Random

Ben getting ready to go to Prom – Sorry, Ammon, you can’t go – 4/16/2022
Ammon’s soccer team – 4/20/2022
Jacob at swim practice – 4/24/2022
Happy swimming
Sam helps Ammon with a pinewood derby car – 4/25/2022
Close-up of the car
Ammon excited to go to the dentist- 4/29/2022
Ready for inspection

Nauvoo Trip

We bought the cheap tickets on the flight so we were all scattered around on the plane.  They didn’t even put LaReita and Ammon together, which I think is against the law, but Ammon was fine and we decided not to make a big deal out of it.  James, Anthony, Ben and I ended up in a group of 4 seats in the back of the plane, but the other 4 were scattered around the middle area. We got into Kansas City airport about 12:30am and to our hotel for the night around 1:30.

In the morning LaReita and I went back to the airport (on the hotel shuttle – had to take an Uber from the airport to the hotel since no hotel shuttles were running at 12:30am) to pick up our rental cars.  We ended up with a couple of smallish SUVs.  One has room for 6.  Renting 2 cars was cheaper than renting a passenger van.  The SUVs were free upgrades since they didn’t have any of the mid-sized cars we reserved.Friday we had a burger lunch at a local restaurant which was in the basement of a building in the town square (of Independence) then visited the Harry S Truman Presidential Library.  Then we went to the church Visitors Center near the temple site and next to the spiral Community of Christ tower across from the temple site.  We also walked on the temple site and sang the 12th article of faith about the New Jerusalem being restored.  We then checked into our AirBnB which was across the street from Truman’s home and served as the offices/home of the Secret Service detailed to Truman back in the 70s.

Saturday morning LaReita went to Legoland with Ammon and I and the older boys went to the WWI museum a couple hours later.  In addition to touring the museum we did a 15 min VR tour of being in the trenches.  LaReita and Ammon joined us after they were done at Legoland.  We then went to a local Mongolian grill-type all-you-can-eat restaurant and we ate all we could eat.  We then returned to the Secret Service House and watched afternoon conference.  We worked on a 1000 piece puzzle, napped and just hung out for the evening.

Sunday we watched morning conference and then went to Liberty Jail and took the tour there.  Then watched afternoon conference in the basement of the visitors center where they had a small auditorium and projector.  The boys were able to get one of the older missionary’s phone to connect with the projector so we could stream conference through Youtube – it’s a modern world.  After conference we made and sandwiches out of the back of one of the cars then headed to Richmond to see a monument to the Three Witnesses in an old pioneer cemetery.  Then headed home to relax for the evening.

Yesterday we cleaned up the AirBnB and headed to Hannibal MO.  On the way we stopped at the Far West temple site, then a local general store which was church oriented, and then on to Adam-Ondi-Ahman.  We had the boys separate for a while and spend some time alone thinking and praying.  We also took the opportunity while there and overlooking the valley, to give each of the boys a father’s blessing, and LaReita a blessing, then James gave me a blessing.  It was a great spirit.

We then drove into a local town and had a fried-chicken buffet and got our money’s worth.  Then kept driving to Hannibal and checked into a hotel.  Hit the pool and hot tub, and LaReita went to the next door restaurant to get some cake and appetizers to celebrate James’ birthday (23 y/o).  Then we hung out, watched TV then went to sleep.

Today, we got up around 8:30 – everyone was tired – had breakfast and are hanging out in the room. We have 12pm tickets to a riverboat ride.  Then we’ll go to a “Mark Twain” cave system and then finish driving on into Nauvoo.  We’ll need to plan meals for the next few days – we’ve been eating out a big meal once a day and having meals at the AirBnBs or hotels for the rest of the meals to save some money.  But there’s no grocery stores near Nauvoo so we’ll need to plan and then purchase food for the next few days.

Truman’s Oval Office

Independence temple lot

Ammon at Legoland

Family at WWI museum

Puzzle during conference

Liberty Jail

Three Witnesses Monument