Alura Nash Obituary … A SUNRISE INTO HEAVEN – ALURA GOES HOME

Written and Prepared by Son, Kevin V. Hunt

ALURA LARSEN NASH

Our wonderful mother, grandmother, great grandmother, sister, aunt, and beloved friend to all, Alura Nash – passed away quietly at 4:41 AM on Friday, September 23, 2022 at age 90.

Born: 29 July 1932 – Fairview, Utah

Died: 23 September 2022 – Gilbert, Arizona

Our wonderful mother, grandmother, great grandmother, sister, aunt, and beloved friend to all, Alura Nash – passed away quietly at 4:41 AM on Friday, September 23, 2022.

Here are the details for the funeral and celebration of Alura:

The chapel is in the same parking lot as the Gilbert, Arizona Temple!

Here is the link for the live broadcast.  And note that this link will still work for the full broadcast – even now as the service is over.

The Funeral Broadcast – and this continues to be active and viewable.

Here is the funeral program in its final form -with (Graphic Design by Ray)

https://drive.google.com/file/d/1tZQGbmKt0fDM7I0wklINbyZDcO-fEDQm/view?usp=sharing

See below for special links to Alura and her great life.  Click on each one and enjoy as you wish.  If the link does not open, copy and paste it into your browser and with a click, it will open there.  Also, feel free to copy and save any material for your own future use and memories of Alura.  Kevin

Here is her story … as prepared by Kevin for her funeral September 29, 2022

MOM, ALURA … QUITE THE LADY

I am pleased today to talk about our dear Alura … our mother, grandmother, great grandmother, sister, aunt, and friend.  We have truly lost one of the “great ones”.

In her own words, mother – mom said,

“I, Alta Alura Larsen was born in Fairview, Utah on July 29, 1932.  My father was Henry Erastus Larsen and my mother was Alta Jane Pritchett Larsen.  I was the youngest of 6 children, Maria Theresa Larsen, John Darrel Larsen, Estella Larsen, Ila Winona Larsen and Boyd Newreen Larsen.  I always said, “It’s okay to be born last, look how nice I turned out.”  {My note:  Grandpa Larsen was 40 and Grandma was 20 when they got married … and this was the first marriage for both.  Our Larsen immigrants were Danish and mother even knew her pioneer grandmother, Elsie Pedersen, Larsen]”  The Pritchetts were from long time American Colonial families.

Mother continues:  “My family decided I should be named Alice Lorraine – but when it was time for me to be blessed (or named) at the Church, my dad gave a note to the bishop [who was to bless me] saying my name should be Alta Alura Larsen.  I heard this was a shock to my mother, but I have always been proud to have been given the name of my mother.  I have always been called by my second name – Alura.”

Alura says that her mother was kind of shocked when her daughter was named something different than what they had discussed.  She said to Grandpa, “Where in the world did you get that name of Alura?”  He said, “From the funny papers!”  She has only known one other Alura – and that is a granddaughter.

So, yes, Mother grew up in a very small Utah village called Fairview – about 30 miles north of the Manti Temple.  And Bishop Raymond, it is interesting that she grew up in Fairview and lived her final days now made her earthly departure from the Fairview ward.  Very cool.

As a teenager, Mom was in several drama plays.  In one play, she played the role of a little colored girl (and remember that this was 70 plus years ago).  She had to wear a lot of dark make-up.  She said that the make-up was expensive and the show went for multiple nights.  She had to wear the make-up to school.  She was the high school student body president.

Alura met and married the handsome Russel Frank Hunt on a blind date on Friday the 13th.  They were married September 14, 1953 in the Manti Temple.  The happy couple soon moved to Ft. Collins, Colorado, where I was born on Halloween a year later.  (As a side note … my wife and I were married on their 25th anniversary and then our daughter, Jenae and Paul were married on our 25th anniversary.)

We moved to Cheyenne, Wyoming when I was just a few months old.  My brother, Russel Dean was born in Cheyenne.  He got pneumonia soon after he was born and was in the hospital for a long while.  The doctor said, “He will never survive Wyoming winters.”  So, Dad, Mom, and I literally went to the hospital in the moving van and picked up Dean and we moved to Arizona.  And Arizona has been home to us and to Alura most of the rest of her life.

The family first rented from Clyde and Lucille Farr on a farm located north of Baseline between Greenfield and Higley Roads.  It was here that our sister, Lesa, was born.  We then moved and rented a very small home from the Fred Arnett family on Stapley Drive in Mesa.  It was at this time hat Mother’s mother, Alta died at the young age of 59 and when mother was just 25.  Then her father, twenty years older than Grandma, died just four years later –  on Alura’s 30th birthday!!    But, Grandpa Ray and Grandma Augusta Hunt accepted her as their own daughter.  And Alura loved them.  Everyone loved Aunt Alura.

Dad worked then for the US Post Office, and he decided to transfer to Orem, Utah where he could be closer to their families.  Kyle was born during this short Utah adventure.  Dad soon found, however, that he could not handle the snow as he walked or biked on his mail route, so we moved back to Mesa.  We first lived in the Mesa First Ward – with Oakley Ray as Bishop.  He recently died at age 101 – with 10 children, 88 grandchildren, etc.

Our neighbor was building a home over by Pioneer Park in Mesa.  He convinced my parents to buy his house.  And so it was that we were destined to grow up on the Monopoly Board – on Park Place.   Then a couple of years later, Cash Smith, of Utah, built a house next door to our house.  He planned to live in it, but they changed their plans.  They never lived in it.  They asked my dad to sell their home for them.  Many people came to see the house but none of them liked it.  Then one day, a lady came to our house after seeing the house next door.  She loved it and ultimately loved it.  We then moved next door – to 732 E. Park Place.  That was the hardest move we ever made – since literally everything had to be walked over to the new place.

We would live in this home for the next twenty plus years.  We lived in the Mesa 10th Ward and we all loved this ward and the great people who lived there.  And mother would remain friends with the 10th Warders for the rest of her life – and often planned parties for them at her place.

In this ward, Mother was the President of everything.  She was president of the Primary, then the YWMIA and then the Relief Society.  When she became the RS president, she had 13 funerals in the first three months – one of them being my own brother, Dean.  She loved working with Bishops Max Killian and Egon Johnson.

In the 10th Ward, Mom became the official baker of the sacrament bread.  She baked the sacrament bread for 30 years – in two different wards.

Mom was a very busy mom at this time.  Darcy, Laurie and Ray had joined the family so this gave her seven children to take care of.    At one point, she had four sons with Lesa in the middle.  It was a grand day when our Sister Laurie was born.  An interesting note about the birth of Laurie.  She was born as dad was in Salt Lake City with his church champion softball team.

We lived in a rather small home – with just three bedrooms.  We had the two girls in one bedroom and then four boys crammed into one other bedroom – with double sets of bunkbeds.   If baby #7 had been a girl, no worries … she could have fit into the room with two sisters.  But since Ray was a boy, and there was no more room in the boy’s room, the family had to add another bedroom onto the house to accommodate him.

There was not a lot of money, but mom survived.  She became a “district advisor” for the Mesa Tribune and many carriers came to our home to get their papers. She hired all of the carriers.  And with this meager job, she taught her sons all how to work as her carriers.

Mom became an avid seamstress and made most of the shirts and dresses for the entire family.  She was known for making look-alike outfits for all of us – shirts for Dad and the boys and blouses – and dresses too, for the two girls.  She also created dozens of beautiful quilts – a hobby which she very much enjoyed.

Mom was ever the party planner (and also the life of the party).  She took up party planning with great energy and enthusiasm.  She hosted annual Christmas parties for all of the old folks on our street.  Everyone loved her parties.

All of us boys were involved in Scouting and mother was always on the troop committee.  She did anything and everything in support of her five sons – who all became Eagle Scouts.  She proudly wore her Eagle pins in flight formation on her blouse.  She taught her daughters her wonderful skills to be a wife and mother.  And she developed very strong and life-long bonds with her daughters.

We were kind of an adventuresome family.  We always went deer hunting several times each fall.  One season, the weather was really bad.  In the area of Southern Utah where we were hunting, there was snow and bad stuff.  We had a neighbor who had nothing more to do but to worry about what the Hunt family was doing.  Every little while she would come over with a more grim report and thoughts on what might happen to us.  Finally, Mom said, “Mrs. Lejeck, if they didn’t think that something like that MIGHT POSSIBLY HAPPEN TO THEM, they wouldn’t have gone at all.”  That was my favorite quote of her the rest of my Scouting days.

One beautiful spring day, when Kyle was in high school, he and friends decided to ditch school – and went to play at the Salt River.  The next day, Kyle was ready for school and asked mother for an excuse.  He expected a fight out of her but to his surprise, she promptly said, “Sure”.  She wrote:  “Please excuse Kyle from school.  Spring fever hit and there was no choice but for him to go to the river.”  He looked at the “excuse” and laughed saying, “I can’t take this …”  She said, “Well, that’s all you get!”  The principal later called her personally and congratulated her on the honest excuse.  He said, “You would not believe the number of kids who go to the dentist every day!”

That shows the humor that we have all come to love and enjoy about Alura.  In her final days of the past couple of weeks, my wife and some of our family would visit her.  And we would try to connect her with some of the out-of-towners via Facetime and technology.  I said, “Mom, share some of your jokes with them.”  She said, “I don’t know any jokes … funny things just come out of my mouth!”  She told Keith, “I don’t smile with my teeth anymore – because I don’t have any.”

Mom was a real organizer.  She organized everyone.  Saturdays were her big work days at home.  She got newsprint through her newspaper job – and made large work charts.  She made a square for each of us children and in each square, she listed six or eight jobs that we were expected to do before we could do anything fun.  When she had money, she would pay each of us a nickel – 5 cents – for each job completed.  Then often, as a special treat, we would use those same nickels to buy tacos at the little joint that is still standing a couple of blocks east of the Mesa Temple near where we grew up.

In 1973, we suffered the death of our beloved brother, Dean.  He died a week before his 17th birthday of melanoma cancer.  He had been the president of everything – and was the Jr. class president at Westwood High School when he died.  Everyone in town knew him.  The death of Dean was something that kind of haunted Mother the rest of her days.  And after nearly 50 years away from him, I am sure that she is now enjoying a wonderful reunion with him and her parents.

And did I mention her bread?  She made bread two to three days every week.  Her best bread was always the batch that was made for the sacrament.  And she had her own recipe for making great bread.  She said that in each batch, you should plant to give one away.  And that is what she did.  I often became her escort when she was the Relief Society President to help deliver her bread and other gifts (from the Bishop and others.

Mom didn’t learn to drive until she was 35 years old. 

Mom was one of the greatest cooks ever.  She loved to cook – and to cook for a crowd.  A standing joke with her was that she only made two pies a year.  She actually did a few more but that was her story.  And often, she would call our neighbor, Sister Clara Hardy to come over and be her “taster” for pies.

Mom and Dad built the dream home out on Greenfield Road – just south of Baseline – by the Pioneer School in Gilbert.  They were in the Gilbert 6th Ward and again made many wonderful friends.  She continued to serve her ever expanding family – that now included many grandchildren.

Mom continued to be a writer – writing poems, and material for special occasions, plays, and more.

Sadly, the Russel/Alura marriage faced some big challenges and they divorced in 1996 after 42 years of marriage.   Mom said that divorcing dad was one of the hardest things that she ever had to do.  The home was sold so that each could take their own half.  She then bought her own home on East Alder Street and lived in the Windsor and other wards.  Again, she made a lot of friends – and especially her “sister friends” as they called each other.

After the dust of the divorce settled, mom’s Gilbert Relief Society President introduced the single Alura to her single father, Malcolm Richard Nash.  And they hit it off immediately.  Richard lived in Salt Lake City and made many trips down to woo Alura.  They soon fell in love with each other – and they were Alura’s family virtually doubled in size.  She worked hard to be mother to all of this giant clan.

With the marriage, the Relief Society President, Ruthanne Van Wagoner became Alura’s daughter, and she was in with us like blood.  She and Jeff and their boys have become one of us and we have enjoyed many special times with them.  (The rest of the Nash family live in Utah and we have not seen them too often.)

Richard Nash made mom very happy. The enjoyed some fun Church history tours together.  They served in the Temple together and mom worked there even after his death.  She served there for 12 years and loved her service there.  They began the monthly “Empty Nesters” group and together this tight group enjoyed many wonderful gatherings – in her home and often with much food of her own.  She coordinated the lessons and the activities.

The traditional Hunt Halloween and post-general conference scone parties continued.  And did I mention her bread?    Those scones and cinnamon rolls of her bread dough were fabulous and made her famous and loved.  And one of the greatest treats ever was to be at her home when her fresh and hot bread came out of the oven.  It was so wonderful when she would let us “break” open a loaf – when the bread was too hot to slice.  Her many varieties of home-made jam made the bread almost Celestial.

Richard and Alura served together on four missions.  They went on their first mission they went to Tuskegee, Alabama. My own patriarchal blessing said that I would be called to serve a foreign people and that I would learn their customs and ways and enter into their hearts.  I was very surprised when I got called to Alabama.  My mother quipped, “Well, those folks are about as foreign as you can get.”  I reminded her of that when she and Richard got called to serve in the very black but historic community of Tuskegee, Alabama.  They increased the white population by about 400% when they went there.  (And that was when they looked in the mirror!)  They learned to love those special black folks and particularly David and Christine Oryang, the Tuskegee branch president.  They helped to get the Oryangs to the Atlanta Temple for their first time and to be endowed and sealed.  Mother and the Oryangs have had a special and wonderful bond ever since.  Pres. Oryang is presently the President of the Washington, D.C. stake!

For their next mission, Richard pulled some strings in Salt Lake and thought that he had all of the t’s crossed and all of the I’s dotted to be called to Nauvoo.  Bishop Raymond’s father was then their stake president.  When they received their call, Richard called up the Bishop and said, “Now Bishop, how did you spell Nauvoo on that application?”  The Bishop said, “N A U V O O …”  Richard then said, “Well, this is how THEY spell it … T O O W O O M B A!”  The Bishop said, “Where in the world is that?”  They went to Toowoomba, Australia and taught institute out in the Australian “Bush”.    

They served as “investigators” for senior missionaries in training at the Provo, MTC.  They served for many months with the Church records department working to try to find lost people who didn’t want to be found.

We were all very surprised and shocked when Richard Nash died on Christmas Day in 2006 – after just 10 years of marriage.  But, from the marriage, mother was a very loyal Nash and has proudly worn his name.   The memory of Richard has remained strong within her all of these 16 years later.

And did I mention her bread?  She continued to make that glorious bread and shared this with everyone .  And she held cooking lessons and taught her skills to granddaughters.  Some have carried on her tradition.

We were all saddened with the death of our special sister, Laurie in 2016 – and her husband a year later.  It was a grand day when she was free of her years of physical and mental challenges.  We are all sure that she is dancing there (as the song of her daughter, Crista will sing about shortly).  And now, mother is probably there cheering Laurie on in her heavenly dancing.

Mother has been a widow for these past 16 years.  She lived in her own home for most of this time.  For many years she worked almost full-time in Lesa’s Crismon’s Baby Boutique store.

Mom fell one day at home and my sister Lesa, got her into a care center that afternoon – maybe a bit earlier than was needed.  But, from that day, Mom has been in care centers.  She loved being with Steve and Sharon McRae and later with Marilyn Willis.  She has been at Estancia in the Fairview Ward for about a year.

From this time, Alura was kind of anxious to move on to the next life.  She was a stoic and never complained about her ails.  She was her usual cheery, funny and happy self – in spite of her declining health.  She confided to Lesa and occasionally to me that she hurt almost everywhere and every day.  She saw as her mission to make her fellow patients happy each day.  She always had her characteristic candy kisses to share with guests.  And the men around her loved her kisses!  She loved the weekly letters from friend, Shirley Bird, and visits from her special “sister friends” – Judy Naughton, Sharon, and many others. 

She continued to write daily in her journals as she had for forty or more years.  I think she has over a hundred volumes of her almost daily journal entries.  Her last entry was on September 9th – the day that she fell. She wrote about her great-grandson having his mission interview with his stake president.

Mother had a great memory even to the end.  But, one would often hear her same stories repeated over and over many times.   But she knew when she was repeating a story.  She would begin by saying, “I think I told you about …” (and then she would proceed to tell the story again and again.) As I thought about it … she really wasn’t losing her mind, she just didn’t often get anything new to talk about – so she had to tell the same old stories.

When a visitor would leave mother and would ask, “Is there anything I can do for you?” her response was always the same.  “Visit me as often as you can and pray for me in between.”  Lesa was especially careful about mother’s every need and sacrificed much over the three years – doing anything and everything to meet mom’s needs.  Thanks Lesa for your devoted and special service.  Ray came a couple of times a week.  I came weekly on Thursday nights when I came from Maricopa to attend scouts with Alura’s great-grandson., Brodey.  We all enjoyed these visits.    Kyle and Darcy called when they could.  We are grateful to the plethora of her devoted friends who continued to visit often.  And mother loved her new Fairview Bishop and his members as she attended sacrament meeting most weeks in his ward.

The extended family all enjoyed a wonderful milestone 90th birthday party for Alura a couple of months ago – in July.  The theme for the event was “Kentucky Derby” and Alura loved every minute of this event – and the family – all dressed in fancy Derby attire – also basked in the special time with her.  It was a great blessing to have had this last grand celebration with her.  And riding with her in the limousine was a special treat for her and all else.

I had the privilege and opportunity to compile a 700-page book about Mom.  The book, “Alura … Quite the Lady” details all of her life.  It is available on Lulu.com for purchase.   She loved this book and read it through five or six times. With her death, we have created a webpage for her – on my kevinthescout blogsite.  That book in its entirety is linked there for free. The site also has a multitude of fun and historic memories of her special life.  I encourage all of you to check out this site and learn to love her even more.  (Also see the links below … you can download a free copy of the book to enjoy! Or you can order your own nice/printed bound volume on Lulu.com – with a search on “author” and my name Kevin Hunt))

Mother fell on Friday, September 9th and found herself in the hospital.  She later reported that she had prayed that she could go to heaven that day.  She was “told”, “Are you willing to go through what you have to go through to return to me?”  She responded within that she was.  She was hospitalized for a few days.  She received a priesthood blessing to depart this life.  She was released from the hospital and returned to the Estancia Assisted Living Center.  A Hospice nurse was assigned.  Family visited often and technology was again used to connect her with all of her large family.  Everyone cherished those special last moments with her.  On September 22nd, family was notified by the Hospice nurse that mother had taken a turn for the worse and had gone down rapidly.  The nurse gave her 48 or less hours to live.  She was given another blessing of release on the night of September 22nd by Ray.  She died quietly at 4:41 AM on Friday, September 23rd – at the ripe old age of 90.

              Fun Photo of Alura – taken a couple of days before her death

A granddaughter Jenae and Paul Merrill and family are stationed in O’Fallon, Illinois.  Illinois time is two hours different from Arizona.  That Friday morning was just another typical day for them – getting the kids ready for school, and beginning their day.  They live at the edge of a small lake and each morning they go out to enjoy the sunrises from their front porch and across the lake.

On this particular morning, they were overcome with the gorgeous pink and lavender sunrise over the small lake.  Their time was 6:41 AM.  Without knowing that her Grandma was then having her last breath in Arizona, they both took photos of the gorgeous sunrise. 

Jenae commented to Paul, “That is Grandma’s going to heaven sunrise.”  They documented the moment with a time stamp at 6:41 AM.  A while later they learned that Grandma had quietly passed at 4:41 AM – Arizona time – at the exact time that they got the photo and time-stamp of the glorious sunrise – in Alura’s favorite colors of pink and lavender.  They later sent this time-stamped sunrise to family and all rejoiced in the special sunrise that had been prepared to welcome Alura to her Heavenly home.  Heaven was indeed prepared for her and created this special sunrise to welcome her to her heavenly home.  And she has gone home!  Let us all remember her love, her humor, and her love for all of us.  “Alura, Quite the Lady!”  Thanks, Mom!  We all love you.

Alura on her whimsical Valentine’s Day 2022

SPECIAL LINKS TO LEARN MORE ABOUT ALURA:

To view and or copy the full book, “Alura … Quite the Lady!” (free) as written and compiled by son, Kevin Hunt

https://drive.google.com/file/d/1JIG15ipoGKLK5KgxUOFX7FIpq6QIDaOW/view?usp=sharing

To Purchase your own copy of the “Alura … Quite the Lady” book from Lulu.com ($32)

Photo History of Alura’s Life and Times

Alura’s Autobiography – In Her Own Words:

Alura’s Favorite Recipes:

https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/1qzyqppHHgLBbtk-F5bxzpprStmldck5J?usp=sharing

Alura’s Pen and Prose (Her own writings):

https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/1qmRcPcUZdwRpiBai-8tur2oNW3UPJ-VP?usp=sharing

Alura’s Bread Recipe:

https://drive.google.com/file/d/1JhJ53Ncd0DGL23hjxX9i4ZrcYtc8Ry0U/view?usp=sharing

Alura’s Recipe for Happiness in LIfe

Alura’s Whimsical Valentine’s Day – 2022

Twenty Questions for Alura – 85th Birthday

Alura’s Pedigree Chart

https://drive.google.com/file/d/1bmGrvbXd9y_3PIdq69k3w0xKJ9v6aP4t/view?usp=sharing

Alura’s Testimony:

Son Dean’s Cancer Experience – As Remembered by Alura

History of Fairview, Utah

Alura and Parents in the 1940 US Census:

https://drive.google.com/file/d/1kDNTKl6uG8B8rCu-BZgxBYQqfk0Nz-cQ/view?usp=sharing

Lesa Writes about her Mom Alura

David and Christine Oryang – of Tuskegee, Alabama talk of Alura

Alura’s Posterity:

https://drive.google.com/file/d/1Rcu6GefeG8_nHIlb_Qiq2SP9n9R4FWAC/view?usp=sharing

Recent memories submitted about Alura (following her death)

A whole lot of photos of Alura and her families

https://photos.app.goo.gl/ecGBc4V8RUV5Sdq19

A million photos (at least) from the “Kentucky Derby” 90th Birthday Celebration for Alura

https://photos.app.goo.gl/NbsTENZNrMUHtRHY9

60 Years of Scouting Adventures Documented in 7 New Books by KevinTheScout

By Kevin V. Hunt (KevinTheScout)

Key Links:

Link to my 7 Scouting books where you can click and download the books for free:

https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/1-cLEDBFIGLOAEivZ8kMzBzKIRh6MGyxp

In a recent blog article (of this same name), I included a link to the seven books. That link did not work. Let’s try the one above and see if it works. This link contains all 20 of My Life’s Collective Works volumes. The Scouting books are Volumes #14 to 20.

Go to Lulu.com and purchase any or all of the seven Scouting adventure books (they are titled “MLCW … “ Volumes #14-20 with their titles … scroll down, use arrows to find additional book titles … until you find the right ones):

Link to Lulu.com to obtain Kevin’s Scouting Trails Books

Introduction:

In October of 1962, as I turned age 8, I first joined the Boy Scouts of America program.  I was a Cub Scout in Pack 155 in Mesa, Arizona and was later a Scout in Troop 155 (both sponsored by the Mesa 10th Ward). 

Hunt Scout brothers – Darcy, Mom, Ray, Kyle, Kevin and Dean

From that time and to the present time, I have always held a position as an adult in the BSA Program.  In 2012, I staged a Jubilee Celebration for myself – to celebrate FIFTY YEARS in the Scouting program.

In October 2022, I will celebrate 60 years in the Scouting Program. Wow!

KevinTheScout – 60 Year Scouting Veteran

I could hardly wait to become a Cub Scout when I turned age 8.  I joined right away.  Being a Cub Scout was a grand experience.

After I was a Cub Scout, I entered the Guide Patrol Program in Primary – again in the 10th Ward.  I was a Trekker and a Guide.  I worked on my Tenderfoot award requirements.  I became a real Boy Scout when I turned age 11 and was in “Troop 155 – The Best Alive”.  I loved everything about being a Scout.  Kimball Nelson was our Scoutmaster.  I achieved the rank of Eagle Scout with four Eagle palms – a couple of months before I turned age 14.

I went to Camp Geronimo for seven summers – every summer until I went on my church mission.  I worked at Camp Geronimo for a couple of weeks when I was 16.  I worked at the new trading post.

Camp Geronimo – Troop 155 Campsite #3 – Blackfoot

I went into the Exploring program for a while, but we had a definite loser program.  We did not have anything going at all.  We failed to get anywhere.  Not liking a steady program of basketball, I returned to the troop and remained there until I went on my mission.  I served as a Junior Assistant Scoutmaster with Jim Johnson – the new Scoutmaster. 

I conducted merit badge classes at my home for the Scouts – most of them about three years younger than me.  Many of these boys credit me with helping them achieve their Eagle Scout awards.

At age 16, Bishop Max Killian called me to be a Webelos Leader.  He said, “I know you are supposed to be older, but you are it!”  I served in this assignment (without an assistant) for two years.  My brother, Darcy, was one of my Webelos Scouts.  Then I became the Blazer Scout  (or 11-Year Old Scout Patrol) Leader and Assistant Scoutmaster for a year (with the same boys I had in Webelos).

When I was about sixteen, I read in the “Scouting Magazine” about the opportunity for troops to attend the upcoming 1973 National Boy Scout Jamboree as a troop – and at a much lower cost than participating in the council Jamboree contingencies.  I got really excited and went to visit Scoutmaster Jim Johnson.  I said, “Jim, we are going to go to this Jamboree.”  He said, “We are …?”  He bought into the idea – as did Bishop Killian.

Then for two years, we had every kind of fund raiser that we could think of in order to raise the funds for the trip.  We ended up taking thirteen Scouts from Troop 155 up to the Jamboree in northern Idaho.  We had a grand experience.

Troop 155 at the 1973 National Scout Jamboree in Farragut, Idaho

For many years, I had the goal of working for the Boy Scouts of America as a professional Scouter.  I looked into several college options and settled on Brigham Young University.  Six months after I got home from my mission, I began school at BYU (June 1976) in the Youth Leadership Department.

Kevin and Lou at Lake Bonneville Council Office, Ogden, Utah

Even before I graduated from BYU, I had a job interview with Darl Gleed, the Scout Executive in the Ogden, Utah Lake Bonneville Council and was hired to begin work there January 1, 1978.

I worked for the Lake Bonneville Council for five years.  I loved being the council advisor to Varsity Scouting, the NYLT Program, and being Camp Director.  I was the Senior District Executive for the Mt. Ogden District. 

I worked at Camp Loll for the 1978 summer (and proposed by mail to Lou while there).  The next four summers, I worked at Camp Bartlett.  I was assistant director for one year and then Camp Director for three years.

Kevin and his staff at Camp Bartlett – 1981

I then transferred to the Mission Council in Santa Barbara, California.  I had loved professional Scouting in Ogden (where everything I did was program oriented) but hated it in California (where my whole time was spent raising money and trying to make membership goals).

I decided to leave the employ of the BSA after seven years.  But even though I was no longer a Scouting professional, I still worked many hours each week – as a Scouting volunteer.

I have served as Blazer Scout (11-year old new Scout patrol) leader about five times.  And I have been Cubmaster five or six times through the years.  In Santa Paula, California I was recognized as the “Cubmaster of the Year”.   I have spent many years in the function of training Scoutmasters, and I loved this role.  I was district training chairman in Ventura, California and again in Gilbert (San Tan District) Arizona.  I was Exploring Chairman for the Mesa District and for the Grand Canyon Council.  For nearly twenty years I served on the staff of the University of Scouting event.

I am proud that I have three Eagle Scout sons and five (of six) sons-in-law.

For twenty plus years, I have served as Advancement Chairman – in the Troops 668 and 351 – in Mesa.  I loved this role and helping Scouts progress up the Scouting advancement trail.

I was recognized with the Award of Merit award and later received the Silver Beaver Award from the Grand Canyon Council.

For many summers, I took my entire family, and we went to Camp Geronimo. I served as a volunteer camp commissioner.  The family played and had a good time while I worked with troops.  These were grand experiences for us.

Camp Geronimo with my daughters and grandsons

In 2012 I became the Head Commissioner at Camp Geronimo and was up there for the full summer.  I took a break from camp in 2013 and Lou and I went to Germany to be with our daughter Jenae and Paul.  In 2014, I became the Camp Director for the Jack Nicol Cub Scout camp in northern Colorado.  I returned the following summer (2015) and with Lou staged a fabulous “Cubbywood” movie theme program.

Kevin with a troop of pirate Scouts at Camp New Fork in Wyoming

In 2016, Lou and I went to Camp New Fork in Pinedale, Wyoming.  I was the Camp Program Director and loved this role.  Lou was a commissioner.

In 2017, we worked for the summer at Camp Thunder Ridge near Parowan, Utah.  We were both commissioners.  We were burned out of our camp with the Brian Head fire and had to transport our camp to various locations for the rest of the summer.

Kevin with “The Warriors” of Logandale, Nevada – 2017

In 2018, I was the Camp Director – and Lou was the Program Director – at Camp Oljato on Huntington Lake – in the High Sierra Mountains east of Fresno, California.

For twenty five years, I have been a member of the modern Mormon Battalion.  In this role, I have attended literally a hundred or more Eagle Scout courts of honor wherein I have made neckerchief slide presentations for the Battalion.  I have really enjoyed being a part of these grand occasions through the years.

I have, forever, been a champion of The Boy Scouts of America and the BSA program within The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  I have written several books on various functions of Scouting – many of them drawn from my own personal journals.  I wrote the history of Scouting in the LDS Church.  I was very sad when the Church announced in 2018 of its intention to leave the Boy Scout organization.  Ultimately it was the “3 G’s” that caused the demise of Scouting in the church – girls, gays, and godless.  President Ballard said, “The Church did not leave the Boy Scouts … they left us.”  It was a sad day when the 110 year association ended.

Finding myself with a plethora of Scouting memorabilia items, I decided to create my own memorabilia museum in our own home.  This has been a fun effort – though I wish that I could have hosted many more visitors to the museum.

After Scouting ended in the Church, I joined with Troop 54 in Lehi, Arizona.  This troop was made up of many of the Scouting greats of the Mesa area and it was great fun working with them.  I loved my association with the Hawk patrols – working with Wayne Lines, Pedro Ramirez, and Dick Carpenter.  Later I joined with the Star Patrol – working with Eddie Nolte and TJ Lindberg.  I enjoyed taking my grandson, Brodey Stoddard, down to Mesa with me each week.  We enjoyed the program together.

The year – 2022 – will mark 60 years of my working with the Boy Scouts.  The Stoddard family has accepted a job to be in Texas – and they have now moved there.  With that move, I plan to “retire” from Scouting – after the 60 years in the program.  Sad day!

Scouting and I have had grand adventures together.  It has been a great life.

In these books of my Autobiography, I have included much of the detail of my Scouting experiences over the 60 years.  Where possible, I have quoted various blogs and articles that I have created over the years.  About 2015, I began writing blogging articles and I submitted material to three or four different councils who published my material.  I also have had my own Scouting Trails website and my own blogsite at KevintheScout@wordpress.com.

Also, I have 49 years of daily entries in my personal journal – which I began May 20, 1973.  Hidden away in these nearly 40,000 pages of journals are hundreds or even thousands of entries about my involvement with the Scouting program.  If [you] see any date in this book, the journals can be consulted for an expanded view of what happened on the noted date.

In commemoration of my 60 Years of Scouting Adventures, I announce the creation of SEVEN new books specifically on my Scouting life and times.  These are actually Volumes #’s 14-20 in a much more comprehensive autobiographical package – which I have entitled, “My Life’s Collective Works” (“MLCW”).  Here is a summary of the seven Scouting Trails books:

SCOUTING TRAILS – BOOK #1 – “ADVENTURES ON MY SCOUTING TRAILS”

Scouting Trails Book #1 and Volume #14 of “MLCW”:  “Adventures on My Scouting Trail” begins with my Scouting association in gool old Troop 155 – “The Best Alive” and shares memories of 30 years of grand Scouting adventures.  This Scouting Trail takes me through Pack and Troop 155, to the 1973, National BSA Jamboree, and earning a Bachelors degree in Scouting at the Brigham Young University.  The book details my five years as a Scouting professional in the Lake Bonneville Council in Ogden, Utah.  It tells of adventures again as a Scouting Professional in the Mission Council in Santa Barbara, California.  The book details my service in several Cub Scout packs as Cubmaster.  It tells how I helped pioneer the National BSA Varsity Scouting Program.  The book details my Scouting involvement in Santa Paula, California up until our move to Arizona.

Scouting Trails Book #2 – “More Adventures on my Scouting Trails”

Scouting Trails Book #2 and Volume #15 of “MLCW”:  Named  “More Adventures on my Scouting Trails”, this book covers the next 30 years of my Scouting Trails experiences.  It details my return home to Arizona and involvement with the old Theodore Roosevelt Council (now the Grand Canyon Council).  It tells of my adventures in Coolidge, Gilbert and Mesa, Arizona as a Unit Leader (various capacities) as well as key roles district leadership – mainly in the training function..  The book tells of my involvement with Troops 688, 351 and finally with Troop #54 in Lehi, Arizona.  Included are programs and event packets for various events.

Scouting TRails Book #3 – “Scout Camp – The Greatest Adventure”

Scouting Trails Book #3 and Volume #16 of the “MLCW”:  “Scout Camp: The Greatest Adventure”   This book details the fun and adventure experienced in many different Scout camps.  My Scouting trails took me to fully a dozen different Scout camps – where I served in a variety of administrative roles (such as Camp Director and Program Director).  This book details adventures from Camp Geronimo (In Arizona), Camps Thunder Ridge and Del Webb – both in Southern Utah near the Brian Head Ski Resort – above Parowan and Cedar City, Utah, Camp Loll (in Wyoming), and Camp Bartlett (in southern Idaho) and others.

Scouting Trails Book #4 “Scout Camp Adventures at Camps Geronimo and Nicol”

Scouting Trails Book #4 and Volume #17 of the “MLCW”:  Scout Camp Adventures at Camps Geronimo and Nicol.”  This book details the adventures that I had as I was the Lead Commissioner of Camp Geronimo in the year 2012.  It tells of the trauma and joy of service in that role. In 2014 and 2015 I served as Camp Director at the Jack Nicol Cub Scout Camp located in the far northwestern corner of Colorado (near Ft. Collins, where I was born).  Included in the book are the full journal entries that I made as I served in the various roles and so by reading them, one can truly experience the joy, challenges, and the trauma of service in the camp administration. 

Scouting Trails Book #5 – “Scout Camp – The Adventure Continues at Camps Nicol (“Cubbywood”) and New Fork

Scouting Trails Book #5 and Volume #18 of the “MLCW”:  “Scout Camp – The Adventure Continues at Camps Nicol (“Cubbywood”) and New Fork”.  In 2015, my wife, L  ou, and I were the Directors of the Jack Nicol Cub Scout Camp.  The theme for our camp was “Cubbywood” (an obvious take-off from Hollywood).  We loved creating this fun program for the Cub Scouts and their families.  Then in 2016, I was the Program Director at Camp New Fork, located near Pinedale, Wyoming.  My wife was the Commissioner.  This book details the grand adventures – and again quotes from my daily journals of the times.

Scouting TRails Book #6 – “Scout Camp – Adventures at Camps Thunder Ridge and Oljato”

Scouting Trails Book #6 and Volume #19 of the “MLCW”:   “Scout Camp – Adventures at Camps Thunder Ridge and Oljato”.   In 2017, Lou and I ventured to Camp Thunder Ridge above Parowan, Utah.  I had the privilege of returning to the Camp where I had served as the camp’s first Program Director exactly 40 years previously.  Wow!  How things had changed.  Lou and I were both Commissioners.  We had more excitement than we had planned that summer.  After our first week of Scouts, a major fire erupted near the Brian Head Ski Resort, and we were evacuated from the camp.  And for the rest of the summer, we took our camp “dog and pony show” to various other locations – but staged a magnificent program.  And then in 2018, we went to the High Sierra Mountains of California (located on Huntington Lake west of Fresno).  I was the Camp Director and Lou was the Program Director.  We had some rough times but also some grand times.  And again, Included in the book are the full journal entries that I made as I served in the various roles. 

Scouting Trails Book #7 – “KevinTheScout” – Woods Wisdom from the Scouting Trail”

Scouting Trails Book #7 and Volume #20 of the “MLCW”:  “KevinTheScout” – Woods Wisdom from the Scouting Trail” introduces Scouting books I’ve written – as well as a multitude of blog articles written and published to the world on my kevinthescout.wordpress blogsite – and various other sites.  The book truly shares “the wisdom” (at least the experiences gained) through 60 years of Scouting participation.

At the top of this article, I included a link where you can click into all seven of my Scouting Trails books.  I invite you to open the link and read each of the books (but you are not authorized to forward the link or the books on to anyone else – since they are copyrighted to me).  I hope that you enjoy the books.  And I would welcome your comments and memories after you have read the books.

In addition … if you find a book that you really like, you may purchase a copy at Lulu.com (and this link is also included.  Most of the books are around $40 each.  Lulu often has sales where you can get 10 to 15 per cent off.  Watch for these deals before you place your order.

What a grand adventure it has been through my 60 years of association with The Boy Scouts of America..  Such great times … in beautiful places … and with such great people.  It has been quite the journey on my Scouting Trails.   Thanks to all of you!   I will always cherish those special memories.  I look back with joy and gladness for the opportunities and blessings I have experienced on those Scouting Trails.

Happy reading!

Kevin Hunt’s Scouting Trails Museum in Maricopa, Arizona

I note too, that my Scouting Trails Museum remains open.  I would love to have you, you and your family, your Scouting unit come to visit if your own trails bring you to my part of the country in the rural town of Maricopa, Arizona.  Come and let’s share some Scouting memories together!

Best wishes on your Scouting Trails …  KevinTheScout!

ANNOUNCING NEW BOOK “EXPRESSIONS OF MY GRATITUDE”

Just published: A new book entitled, “Expressions of My Gratitude”. Check it out at

Also available as an E-Book

It was November 20th, 2020.  I had been anticipating this day as it had been announced that President Russel M. Nelson, President and Prophet of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, would present a “Message of Hope and Healing” to the world.  My anticipation was high …  what would he say to us?  (Knowing that we presently lived in a rather crazy COVID Pandemic world and realizing that we could use all the help that we can get!)

As I listened that morning, I enjoyed President Nelson’s message.  I did find hope through his message.  As he talked to people all over the world, he said that the greatest thing that could bring the world new hope was our combined expressions of our true gratitude.  It sounded like a simple solution that we could each do.  He then offered an invitation … an invitation to share our own messages of gratitude through our various social media connections.

As a writer and blogger, I immediately felt the inspiration that I could, indeed, write on the subject of “gratitude”.  And having my own blogsite for such occasions, I believed that I could contribute thru the blogsite.  I began to ponder the subject.  And as I did so, the ideas began to flow into my mind.  Then there came thoughts of what I should write about. 

These Gratitude Blogs – and a few more – on the subject make up the new book.  Sixteen different blogging articles from my kevinthescout.wordpress.com blogsite. Now these articles are combined into one great new book.

I invite you to check into the book.

Enjoy (again)!

Kevin Hunt

GRATITUDE FOR OPPORTUNITIES TO HEAR CHURCH LEADERS

By Kevin V. Hunt

In our modern world, it is a great blessing and opportunity to readily hear the words of modern Apostles and other church leaders.  I am grateful for the changing technology that makes all of this possible.

(Material taken from a talk given by Kevin Hunt  Feb. 11, 2007 – Dana Ward)

It was a bit of a surprise when the Bishop asked us to speak.  We have spoken frequently but it has usually been with a missionary coming in or going out.  He asked me to speak about the need to attend and listen to ward, stake and General Church leaders in stake and general conference meetings.  In his conference talk this past October, Elder Joseph L. Wirthlin Apostle, began with the words, “Today I would like to indulge in a few personal memories.”  That is how I would like to begin my talk today – with a few personal memories.  You old-timers may remember these times and you youth and children can think, “Boy, Brother Hunt is really old!”

In that vein, I recall the first Scout board of review that I helped conduct for a young Scout Johnny as he received his Tenderfoot award.  We had asked him several questions and at the end, I asked him if he had any questions for us.  He looked at me and said, “How old are you, anyway?”  Johnny, in case you haven’t figured it out yet, I am almost exactly half-way between Old Brother Jess Root [over age 100] and young Miss Budge (a baby who was blessed last week by her father.)

I grew up in Mesa, Arizona but it was a bit different then.  The Mesa that I knew as a teenager was about 40,000 people.  In those days, we did not have beautiful stake centers that would hold large crowds for stake conferences.  Our stake conferences were held in what we now call the “Inter-Stake Center” But, way back then it was called the “Tri-Stake Center” since there were then only three stakes in Mesa.

I remember sitting there in that very hot building on folding metal chairs.  Sometimes we sat on the wood bleacher seats that pulled out from the wall.  President Eldon Cooley – father of our former Stake President, Jeff Cooley, was our stake president.  (So, I’ve had two generations of Cooley stake presidents.)  I loved the talks and counsel of both Cooley generations.  Anyway, back to the hot Tri-Stake Center.  In those days, the stake conferences lasted over two days and we had two general sessions – morning and afternoon each on Saturdays and Sundays.

I still remember being a primary boy and singing with my brothers and sisters and other kids of the stake for one of the sessions. We sang songs that are still familiar and loved: “I am a Child of God, “I Thank Thee, Dear Father”, “Reverently, Quietly’, “Teach Me to Walk in the Light”, and “Whenever I hear the Song of a Bird …”.  Even today, as old as I am, whenever I hear those songs, my mind reverts back to singing them with that stake Primary choir and the feelings that I had as I sang them.  The Church was smaller then and we had a General Authority at every one of our stake conferences.

In spite of the heat of the tri-stake Center, I enjoyed stake conferences.  It was neat to see the place full of chairs and then people and to hear the addresses of the speakers.  Attending the conferences with my family as a child set a pattern of attendance that has stuck with me throughout my life.  I don’t think I have ever missed a stake conference.

I remember General Conferences as a child, also.  I remember seeing and hearing then Prophet and leader, President David O. McKay.  He was the prophet from my birth until I was 16.  He was very tall and he had a full head of gorgeous white hair.  He looked very much a Prophet.  I loved hearing him speak.

The method by which we get to receive General Conference now is a bit different from what it was “in the good old days” – as my journal entries detail.  I started writing in a journal in 1973.  By April Conference 1974, I was on my mission and was serving in the small town of Tifton, Georgia.  The Saturday session of General Conference came on our P-day (preparation day).  My journal for April 6, 1974, records that after doing our laundry and the usual P-day stuff, “We rode with [Branch] President Osborne of Tifton to the town of Albany, Georgia – located 50 miles away – to hear the closed circuit radio “wire-in” broadcast of the General Conference Priesthood session.  I liked Conference very much.  The speakers included Bishop Victor L. Brown, Elders Marion D. Hanks, and Presidents Marion G. Romney, N. Eldon Tanner and then President Spencer W. Kimball was the concluding speaker.  It was announced that Elder L. Tom Perry is to be the new Apostle [following the death of President Harold B. Lee].  We did not get home until about 11:30 PM but it was worth the trip and we were glad that we could go.”

The next day I recorded:  “Today was a good day.  We went to the home of the Jensen’s (he was the District President) and watched General Conference on TV with them.  …  It was a very good conference.  President Kimball conducted.  Other speakers included Bishop John H. Vandenberg, Elders Milton R. Hunter, Paul H. Dunn and Joseph Anderson.  President Kimball hit on all of the big questions of the day – including women’s lib, abortions, restricting of family size and streaking.  I enjoy listening to him and knowing that he is a Prophet of God.”  Since we could only receive the morning session, we still held Fast and Testimony meeting in the afternoon.  (In those days the men would attend Priesthood meeting about 8:30 in the morning.  Then, we’d hurry home to try to get some breakfast before having to be back at the church for Sunday School about 10:30 AM.  Then Sacrament meeting was held in the late afternoon.”

So, it is interesting – looking back after 30 years of technological advances to see how things have changed.  Back then, there was no big-screen and even no pictures of the speakers.  The Priesthood session was “audio” or sound only and came via radio “wire” transmission.  We got just the one Sunday session via television.  And we felt very blessed to receive those two sessions.  We rejoiced in the technology that made the two sessions possible for us.

I think we all kind of take for granted our General Conferences of today.  We are all accustomed to having all sessions available to us and we do not stop to think much of the blessing of being able to hear and experience conference as we make the five-minute drive to the Stake Center – or as we watch any and all sessions on television – or even our personal computer – at home.

In his opening address of this past October’s General Conference, President Hinckley said, “My brothers and sisters, as we gather in another general conference, I am pleased to report that the Church continues to grow in strength and influence.  In 1982, some 24 years ago, I noted this in my journal:  “There will be in place for the October general conference more than 300 downlinks in our satellite service.  This means that we will have more than 300 stake centers, where our people may gather across the nation and participate in the conference.”

Still quoting Pres. Hinckley:  “I am now advised that there are 6,066 Church-owned satellite receiving sites in 83 countries.  How grateful I am that with our growth in numbers there is also an increased ability to reach out and communicate with the Latter-day Saints throughout the world.”

And in his final address on Sunday afternoon, he said, “My beloved brothers and sisters, what a miracle these conferences are. There is nothing to compare with them anywhere in the world.  When you think that we gather here in this great conference hall and that what we say is carried all across the world so that people on every continent worship together the living God, it is truly and wonderfully a miracle …  We are so grateful for this tremendous Conference Center, this great hall in which to meet, and for the technology which has permitted out words to be carried over the earth to our people in many lands and climes.”

We are truly blessed with the modern technology that makes conference available to us.  The Lord has provided us with the facilities and the opportunities to hear and watch – and to see and to feel and to know of the messages from our Prophets and leaders.  The first question is, “Are we attending or viewing the conference sessions?”  And the next question is “what are we doing with that which we hear?  Are we heeding their words and implementing their counsel into our lives?”  Do we realize the great blessing that we have in our ward, stake and general church leaders?  Do we look forward to their messages and do we act upon them?

Much will be said this year about President Spencer W. Kimball.  He said that we should not dwell on dead prophets but that we should hear and heed the words of the living prophets.  In spite of that counsel, I would like to recall some of his teachings and the effects of them as I now look back with a perspective of 30 plus years later.

He strongly urged that we each keep personal journals.  I heard that counsel as an 18-year old young adult.  I went home THAT DAY and began.  I have since written in the journal FOR every one of the 13,000 or so days since that time and am now presently in volume #108.  The journal has been a great blessing to me and to my family as we have gone back to read in those historic books.  We have truly seen the pattern of the Lord’s blessings in our lives.  And it is because I followed his counsel that I can talk today from personal experience the results of doing so – because I wrote about them in my journal that he challenged me to keep.  Recently I have had a project to read my back journals – specifically reading about the Christmases  – and it has been a truly exhilarating experience.

President Kimball challenged us all to “Lengthen our Stride” as it related to missionary work.  I remember well, his talk entitled, “Go Ye Into all the World”.  I can still see him as he spoke at the chalkboard and with maps in hand.  He said, “Missionaries will come from here and will go there.  And they will come from here and go there …”  He promised us that as we are/were prepared to preach the Gospel, the Lord would bring down iron or bamboo curtains so that we could indeed take the Gospel to the world.  At that time, the communist “Iron Curtain” was indeed a very real thing.  We all thought that breaking through that “curtain’ could never happen.  But, we rejoiced in faith as almost overnight, that wall came down and we now have wards and branches and stakes and missions in all of the Germanic and Russian countries  – and missionaries – like our Jared Stradling – are serving in all of those countries.  That prophesy has been – and will continue to be fulfilled.

He received a revelation which presented to the members at General Conference in 1978 – in which extended the blessings of the Priesthood and Temple to all of God’s children.  Our family has specifically seen the results of that revelation as our son, Rusty, now serves in areas of Brazil which previously would not have had missionary opportunities.

President Kimball challenged us to not be “penurious” relative to our fast offering donations.  I had to go to the dictionary to learn that penurious means “mean or stingy”.  He said that “where possible, we should pay much, much more.”  Those were times of financial stress and high inflation but my wife and I determined to follow his counsel.  We increased out fast offering donations substantially and were blessed proportionately.  As we made that first big increase, I received a raise from the Boy Scouts of America where I then worked.

The boss called me in at the end of the year and said that I was to be given a raise – but that it would ultimately have to be approved by the volunteer leaders of the Scout Council.  With this news, we raised our fast offering donation again in January – proportionate with the proposed raise.  And after doing this, I was called back to visit with the boss.  He said, “I have some good news and some bad news. …  The bad news is that your raise WAS NOT APPROVED”.  I gulped and tried to digest that one – as he continued, “But the good news is that they said that you SHOULD BE PAID MORE.”  (And that’s a scenario that had never before existed in the Boy Scouts of America.  It really was a miracle.)  We found it very fascinating that the added increase went up in the EXACT proportion that we had again increased our monthly fast offering donation.

We continue to be blessed with the counsel of our stake and ward leaders.  These men are directed of God and they receive specific guidance for us of the ward and stake.  I know this to be true.  As the Ward Clerk, I have opportunity to sit in on Bishopric and Ward Council meetings and I see the Bishop as he begins to realize that he needs to talk about a specific subject.  In fact, I hear of it four or five times before he actually presents it to the ward membership.

Following counsel in the “Preach My Gospel” book, I now keep a “study journal” wherein I record my notes from some ward and most stake meetings.  This helps me focus on and remember the teachings that we receive.

I remember well, a stake Priesthood meeting where we were all given framed pictures of Jesus and we signed written “covenants” to keep ourselves pure and free of pornographic material.  Having made that commitment – and entered into that covenant with Jesus and Heavenly Father – and myself, I have had a commitment to stay away from dangerous websites and other sources.  And being on the internet for about ten hours every day at work, that covenant has given me a strength to shield myself from those things.  It has saved me many times.  How grateful I have been for the inspired counsel from stake leaders.

The ward, stake and General Church leaders do receive specific and direct counsel for us through the power of the Holy Ghost.  D&C 1:38 tells how important it is to listen to the words of the current Prophets, Apostles, and other leaders for there the Lord says, “My word shall not pass away, but shall all be fulfilled, whether by mine own voice or by the voice of my servants, it is the same.”

As Lou and I were married, we determined that we would attend every General Conference and that we would take the children to hear and participate in them. We did not – nor do we yet, have a television.  So, even when we have lived 15 or so miles away from the stake center, we have always attended ALL sessions of General Conference – with the children.  So, in almost 29 years of marriage, we have missed only a total of two or three sessions.  Generally, it has just been our family, the missionaries and a handful of other people at the sessions.

Attendance at all of these Conference sessions has had a dramatic and profound influence upon our children.  It has been like a distilling dew from heaven that has settled upon us through the years as we have attended.  Our children have come to love the prophets and General Conference.  They recognize that it is something very special and also a very wonderful thing to look forward to twice each year. Attendance at all of these General Conference sessions has been one of the greatest things that we have done for and with our family. The results have been phenomenal as we now look back at them.

And those same feelings and attitudes can be attributed to the many stake conferences and other sessions wherein we have heard and received the direction of ward and stake leaders.

After a weekend of hearing General Conference talks, I was inspired, a few years ago, of the Holy Ghost – to write the feelings of my heart as felt on that occasion.  I wrote the following – which I have entitled, “The Conference Spirit”.

                                      THE CONFERENCE SPIRIT

                             As Conference ends, with glorious peace,

                                      Our hearts are glad, we do rejoice.

                             We’ve felt the Spirit whisper peace,

                                      We’ve listened carefully, heard Thy voice.

                             We’ve heard Thy prophets here this day.

                                      We’ve felt their witness of Thy truths.

                             Now may their message with us stay,

                                      As we now live these Gospel truths.

                             Help us remember, and obey,

                                      That we might serve and do Thy will.

                             Help us to follow thee each day,

                                      That we might feel thy Spirit still.

                             Thanks for new courage, will to do,

                                      Thanks too, for strength to carry on.

                             Thanks for renewed eternal view,

                                      New focus, truths to think upon.

                             We will, O Father, go and do,

                                      That we might bring thy sheep to Thee.

                             We’ll lift ourselves and others too,

                                      Thy sons and daughters we will be.

                             We’ll now go forward, filled with joy,

                                      Committed now our lives to change.

                             So greater blessings we’ll enjoy,

                                      Renewed in faith, our hearts to change.

                             Our hearts are full, we do love Thee,

                                      We’re grateful for Thy church restored.

                             We’ll walk Thy path, we’ll follow Thee,

                                      We’ll live each day for Thee, dear Lord.

                                                @ Kevin V. Hunt, 1994

I am profoundly grateful for opportunities through the years to hear the words of church leaders at every level.  Hearing and striving to heed their counsel has greatly blessed my life.

I testify of that which I have talked about.  I know that as I have been blessed as I and we have attended, listened to, and heeded the counsel of our inspired ward, stake and General Church leaders, we have and will be blessed in ways that we may not now realize.  I am grateful for the blessings that have come from such opportunities. 

I am grateful for the knowledge that I have that Church leaders know our needs – both generally and specifically and they will guide us in the ways of truth and salvation – with solutions to our here and now problems.  I am grateful that God has given us the technical miracles for hearing and seeing His words!  I am grateful for opportunities over the years to “be there” – physically and spiritually – to avail myself of the great miracles that our Father has for me as I have heard and tried to heed His word through His leaders at every ward, stake and General church meeting or conference.  A marvelous blessing …

GRATITUDE FOR JOSEPH SMITH’S “FIRST VISION”

By Kevin V. Hunt

                On a beautiful Spring morning in 1820, a young boy of just fourteen (in his “fifteenth year” as he said) went into a grove of trees to pray.  The boy was Joseph Smith.  On that occasion, Joseph’s prayers were answered in a way that he never dreamed possible.  As he prayed, God, the Father of all creation, and His Son, Jesus the Christ, the Savior of all mankind personally appeared to the boy Joseph.  This later became known as Joseph’s “First Vision”.  And this vision would forever change the world.  Having studied Joseph with my heart and soul – over many years, I have come to know that his vision was divine.  I know that it happened.  I know that he saw God and Jesus Christ.  The Holy Ghost has borne witness to my soul that this vision is true.

How grateful I am that I have been blessed to know of this Vision.  How grateful I am for the focus that this vision has given to me in my life – and those of family members.  I am grateful that the Gods of the Universe came to the young Joseph and that they directed him in future years to restore in its fullness, the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  I am grateful for Joseph Smith and for the answers given to him that day in what we now call “The Sacred Grove”.

Reference:  Joseph Smith History written in 1838 and as found in “The Pearl of Great Price”, a book of canonized scripture of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  Inspired by an invitation from our current Prophet, President Russell M. Nelson, to read and study the First Vision in preparation for the upcoming 2020 April General Conference sessions as the bicentennial (200 Years) of the First Vision was to be celebrated, I took him up on his challenge.  This article or treatise is now written from that personal study.

BACKGROUND AND SETTING:

Joseph’s family had lived in Vermont and other places as they tried to eke out a living as poor but determined farmers.  And recently they had moved to the village of Palmyra in Western New York.  This was not a chance move for the Smith family.  The Lord guided and brought them to this location.  He needed them there.  He needed Joseph to be there for future events.  For fourteen hundred years before this time, God had directed an ancient American Prophet, named Moroni, to bury sacred metal records in a hill near this Palmyra.  Joseph needed to be there to be prepared to obtain and receive this record.

In 1820, young Joseph Smith went into a grove of trees near his home to pray.  He was a religious, sober, and reflective young man who was very concerned about his standing before God.  Following his prayer, he was visited by God, our Eternal Father and His Son, Jesus Christ.  The Holy Ghost was also present and testified to Joseph’s heart of the divinity of his Heavenly messengers.  We can learn much truth from this vision and subsequent events surrounding the Restoration of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

JOSEPH’S FAMILY HELPED PREPARE JOSEPH FOR HEAVENLY ANSWERS:

Joseph was a young man who was brought up in a strong religious home.  Scripture reading and prayer were a part of his everyday experience as he grew up in the Smith home.  The Bible was readily available to him in his home.  The scriptures were read frequently as a family and he spent much individual time reading the scriptures.  This Christian upbringing prepared Joseph’s young mind for his questions relative to God’s plan for him, taught him that with faith, he could talk to God and receive answers from Him.

There was much action in the community relative to religion.  God also had a hand in this revival excitement in that it helped instill questions and concerns in the mind of young Joseph.  Joseph attended the meetings of various preachers and denominations.  He had read of the establishment of the Church of Jesus Christ as recorded in the Bible.  He seriously sought for a church that mirrored that of the former day church.  But the more he heard from these various preachers, the more he was confused.   His family members added to the confusion as they joined different churches.  And being a serious and a contemplative boy, Joseph did not want to make a hasty decision.  He wanted to KNOW which church was right and which he should join before he took action.   He sincerely believed that there was a true church to which he should become affiliated.  And Joseph was concerned about his own spiritual situation and wanted to be “right with God” in his conscience, feelings, and actions.

JOSEPH PREPARED HIMSELF SPIRITUALLY TO RECEIVE PERSONAL REVELATION:

Joseph teaches us how to study the scriptures:  As a family and individually.  The Smith family often read the Bible together each night after the heavy and strenuous work of the day.  There was no technology and very few books in that day.  So, much of the teaching from one generation to the next came through a dedicated and purposeful study of the Bible.   Joseph also spent much personal time in the scriptures.  He read them often.  But he went beyond just reading.  He seriously pondered the truths that he read.  He tried to apply them to his own life.  With his background with the scriptures and prayer, he went to the grove of trees to pray.  He wanted to know where he stood with God and wanted to repent of his sins and shortcomings.  And being confused with the many religious beliefs of the day, he wanted to know which church he should join.  He was looking for a church that matched the early-day Church as established by Christ in the New Testament.  He had a basic belief that there was a God and that He could answer his prayers.  This was a teaching given him through the faith and teachings of his God-fearing parents.  When he read James Chapter 1, Verse 3-5 in the Bible, these verses rang true to him. 

                “I was one day reading the Epistle of James, first chapter and fifth verse, which reads:  If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of god, that giveth to all men liberally and upbraideth not: and it shall be given him.  Never did any passage of scripture come with more power to the heart of man than this did at this time to mine.  It seemed to enter with great force into every feeling of my heart.  I reflected on it again and again, knowing that if any person needed wisdom from God, I did …  (JSH-Verses 11-12)”

Joseph thought of these verses frequently over time and pondered their application to himself.  His was not just a single reading of these verses. Joseph studied them over and over again and thought of them deeply.  “Can God really hear me and answer my prayers,” he wondered?  “If any of you lack wisdom …”  And Joseph certainly felt that he did lack wisdom.  “Let him ask of God … And let him ask in faith …”  Joseph wondered if he had the faith to ask of God and to receive an answer. 

                At length I came to the conclusion that I must either remain in darkness and confusion, or else I must do as James directs, that is, ask of God.  I at length came to the determination to “ask of God”.  (JSH-Verse 13)

Again, this was not a quick decision.  He thought of these questions again and again.  This pondering, combined with his simple but strong faith in God, ultimately led him to the grove. 

                So, in accordance with this, my determination to ask of God, I retired to the woods to make the attempt.”  (JSH-Verse 13)

Again, he did not make a hasty decision.  He checked out possible places in the grove, maybe going there multiple times to ponder his questions and heart desires.  Finally, he found his desired spot and he thought of this spot a few times and maybe even visited the spot over the next several days as he tried to envision how he would pray and what he would do.

Then, having made his decision, Joseph was at peace.  He was excited as he looked forward to the experience ahead.  And then the morning came.    He got up real early (likely on a Sabbath Day but if a weekday before the planned work of the day).

                It was on the morning of a beautiful, clear day, early in the spring of eighteen hundred and twenty” (JSH-Verse 14)

 Joseph went firmly knowing of his plan for prayer and he had the faith to know that he could receive his desired answers.

                “… I retired to the place where I had previously designed to go … [and] looked around me, and [found] myself alone” (JSH-Verse 15)

Joseph purposely went to the quiet place he had previously selected and where he knew he could be alone to commune with his Heavenly Father and to offer his heart out to God.  He went to his chosen spot deep in the woods – a place in nature that was calm and beautiful.  He went to the grove in the early morning – when the world was most beautiful and serene.  No doubt he sat again and pondered the beauty around him and his mission in going there.  He enjoyed the peace and solitude of the morning as well as the beautiful creations around him.  He prepared spiritually for his desired experience.  He likely had no idea of the magnitude of what would follow but somehow in his heart, he believed in faith that he would feel and know the desires of his heart.   He knew that it was time to exercise his mission and reason for going to the woods.  

                “I kneeled down and began to offer up the desires of my heart to God.”  (JSH-Verse 15)

Joseph knelt and folded his arms and quietly bowed his head.  He waited a few moments as he tried to imagine speaking with God and the questions that permeated his mind.  In faith he began softly …

                “It was the first time in my life that I had made such an attempt, for amidst all my anxieties I had never made the attempt to pray vocally.”  (JSH-Verse 14)

Joseph had prayed in his mind and heart many times in his life before this occasion.  But this occasion was different in that he felt a need to pray vocally.   He had not done this before.  But, in so doing, he believed that he could more directly speak with God.  He wanted to use his voice and not just inner feelings.  He spoke vocally with the faith that his God could actually hear his voice.  He opened his mouth and slowly began with the words, he had read so many times in his scriptures: “Oh, God, the Eternal Father … Hallowed be Thy name …”  He probably paused there a moment thinking of how to say next what he wanted to say and waiting for a response back.  He wanted to know and feel that he was being heard.

                “… Immediately I was seized upon by some power which entirely overcame me and had such an astonishing influence over me as to bind my tongue so that I could not speak.  Thick darkness gathered around me, and it seemed to me for a time as if I were doomed to sudden destruction.”  USH-Verse 15)

Joseph was overcome with a power of darkness.  He knew that he was struck by a very negative power.  He could not move.  He was about to give up as this power bore down upon him.  From this experience, he came to know without a doubt that Satan was real and that he was working hard to thwart the work of God.

                “Exerting all my powers to call upon God to deliver me out of the power of this enemy which had seized upon me, and at the very moment when I was ready to sink into despair and abandon myself to destruction – not to an imaginary ruin, but to the power of some actual being from the unseen world, who had such marvelous power as I had never before felt in any being …” (JSH-Verse 16)

JOSEPH IS DELIVERED FROM THE EVIL INFLUENCE THAT HAD HELD HIM BOUND:

Joseph prayed with great fervor and increased intensity exerting all inner strength that he had, “OH GOD …  Help me … Save me …” (He was trying desperately to hold on … to be rid of the overwhelming power of darkness.  The record does not say this, but Joseph likely needed help to get rid of Satan.  God appeared and likely told Satan to depart).

JOSPEH IS VISITED IN PERSON BY TWO ANGELIC BEINGS:

And then with Satan ousted from the scene, God then was able to speak to Joseph.  Joseph was probably worn out, exhausted from his encounter with Satan.

                “I saw a pillar of light exactly over my head, above the brightness of the sun, which descended gradually until it fell upon me.”  (JSH-Verse 16) “I found myself delivered from the enemy which held me bound.”  (JSH-Verse 17)

Joseph must have looked with great joy and gladness upon the two personages there before him.  He was then overcome and amazed at the brightness around him.  The Holy Ghost came upon him and he was able to see and comprehend the two people who stood before him.  He thought he was seeing angels.  At this point, he did not know who they were.  But he knew that the darkness and depression was gone.  And he could feel and see the glorious and exquisite brightness before him.  As his eyes adjusted to the light, (and as now prepared of the Holy Ghost to see God), Joseph now relieved, overwhelmed with joy and peace as he basked in the light and glory of the scene before his eyes.

                “When the light rested upon me, I saw two personages, whose brightness and glory defy all description standing above me in the air.  One of them spake unto me, calling me by name and said, pointing to the other – This is my Beloved Son, Hear him!”  (JSH-Verse 17)

GOD CALLS JOSEPH BY NAME AND INTRODUCES HIS SON TO JOSEPH:

We can only imagine how God the Father and Jesus smiled upon Joseph.  They likely told him that they had come in answer to his prayers.  And then God smiled again and quietly said, “Joseph … This is my Beloved Son, here him!”   Joseph knew then that it was God, the Father, who was talking with him.  He gazed and listened with rapt attention and great joy as the significance of the occasion began to sink into his soul.

Jesus added his own self-introduction to himself as he said, “I am the Lord of Glory.  I was crucified for the world …”  (First Vision 1832 Version) The Lord then asked Joseph, “Joseph, what can we do for you?”  Joseph then said that he had come seeking forgiveness of his sins.  Imagine the joy as the Lord said, “Joseph, my son, thy sins are forgiven thee.  Go thy way.  Walk in my statutes and keep my commandments.” (1832 Version of the First Vision)

Joseph expressed his sincere gratitude for this feeling of grace that he felt from his Savior.  He had a feeling of great joy and peace in his mind and heart.

                “My object in going to inquire of the Lord was to know which of all the sects was right, that I might know which to join.  No sooner, therefore, did I get possession of myself, so as to be able to speak, than I asked the Personages who stood above me in the light, which of all the sects were right. … and which I should join.”  (JSH-Verse 18)

Joseph then also stated the second reason why he had come to the Lord in prayer.  He said, “I am confused about the many churches and I want to know which church I should join.”  J

“At this time, it had never entered into my heart that all [churches] were wrong …”  

Joseph was surprised when the Lord told him that none of the churches then on the earth were His true church and that Joseph was to join none of them, The Lord said to Joseph:

“… they [are] all wrong … [for] their creeds [are] an abomination in [my] sight, … those professors [are] all corrupt; [and] they draw near to me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me, they teach for doctrines the commandments of men, having a form of godliness, but they deny the power thereof”.  (JSH-Verse 19)

 Jesus “again forbade me to join with any of them.” (JSH-Verse 20)

  Joseph was “called of God” (JSH: Verse 28) for a future work and told by the Lord that he, Joseph, would later be an instrument in His hands to restore His true church to the earth.  We have no other details at this time, but there must have been much other conversation and instruction given to Joseph from his Heavenly visitors.  For said Joseph,

“And many other things did he say unto me, which I cannot write at this time.”  (JS History, Verse 20)

As the “interview” concluded, Joseph found himself on his “back looking up into heaven.”  Joseph notes that “when the light had departed, I had no strength”.  (JSH-Verse 20)    He was spiritually and physically exhausted.   He remained in the grove for a time as he pondered on what he had just experienced.  And having recovered somewhat, Joseph returned to his home.  He went quietly – in reverent awe of what we now refer to as “Joseph Smith’s First Vision”.   He said within himself,

“I beheld a [glorious] vision … I know that I did.  I saw God, the Father of the Universe and His Son, my savior, Jesus Christ.”  And said Joseph, “My soul was filled with love and for many days I could rejoice with great joy.  The Lord was with me.” (1832 Version of The First Vision)

Joseph did not run quickly to tell his mother of his experiences but as he came into the house, Lucy Mack Smith could see that Joseph was exhausted.  She wondered what had happened to him.  Mother Smith asked her son if he was alright or if he was sick.  Joseph told his mother what he had seen, experienced and felt.  He knew that his mother would believe his words.  And she did.  And then he gave her a little jab as he said, “I have learned for myself that Presbyterianism [the church she had joined] is not true” (JS-History verse 20.)

What a glorious vision Joseph Smith experienced.  And because of his experience, he would never be the same.  And the world would also be forever changed.  Joseph came out of that grove of trees on that spring morning knowing more about God and Christ than any other man then on the earth.  He would go forth to testify of that which he learned and knew.  Persecution began immediately to rear its ugly head in opposition to the vision that Joseph had seen.  And he recalled the New Testament words of the Apostle Paul who had seen a similar vision soon after the death and resurrection of Christ. 

                “It seems as though the adversary was aware, at a very early period of my life, that I was destined to prove a disturber and an annoyer of his kingdom, else why should the powers of darkness combine against me?  Why the opposition and persecution that arose against me, almost in my infancy?”  (JSH-Verse 20)

Joseph lamented as he experienced intense persecution and said, “It was often the cause of great sorrow to myself.” (JS History, v. 23) but Joseph would forever be bold in his testimony to the world, saying,

“It was nevertheless a fact that I had beheld a vision.   …  “I saw a light, and heard a voice.”

 And while those of the world would say he was dishonest or mad, and ridiculed and reviled him, this did not destroy the reality of Joseph’s vision.

 “I did see a light, and in the midst of that light, I saw two personages, and they did in reality speak to me.  I had seen a vision, I know that I did, I know it, and I know that God knows it, and I cannot deny it and none of this persecution can make it otherwise.”  “And,” said Joseph, “I will know to my latest breath that I [did] see a light and heard a voice speaking unto me and all the world could not make me think or believe otherwise. …  I continued to affirm that I had seen a vision.”  (JS-History, Verse 25, 27)

Joseph knew that he must join with none of the other churches of the day.  This, combined with the relentless persecution from neighbors, former friends, and seemingly everyone around him (but his supportive family) made for a very lonely life for young Joseph.   He was left to himself much of the time because others did not believe what he said that he saw and heard. 

                “… My telling the story had excited a great deal of prejudice against me among the professors of religion, and was the cause of great persecution, which continued to increase; and though I was an obscure boy, only between fourteen and fifteen years of age, and my circumstances in life such as to make a boy of no consequence in the world, yet men of high standing would take notice sufficient to excite the public mind against me, and create a bitter persecution. … and it was often the cause of great sorrow to myself.” (JSH-Verses 22-24)

Joseph knew that he must “continue as I was until I was further directed.”  (JS-History, Verse 26).  That must have been a very hard time for Joseph, but it was a time to ponder, reflect and to prepare for his future mission.  And says Joseph, “I often felt condemned for my weakness and imperfections” (JSH: Verse 29) Joseph knew that he had been called of God (JSH: Verse 28) and that the Church would be restored through him, but Joseph was not given the timetable for the events.  When no further direction came to him, he would have been tempted further of the father of lies and who would try to make Joseph doubt the reality of his experience or to give up on his forthcoming mission.  But, in the meantime, Joseph waited patiently knowing that eventually, he would be given further direction.  He continued to read, study, and ponder.  And as time passed, Joseph wondered continually of his status with God.  “Am I still worthy?  What am I to do?”  Joseph wondered what the next step would be and when it might happen.  Finally, the time did come.

                “[On] the twenty-first of September, after I had retired to my bed for the night, I betook myself to prayer and supplication to Almighty God for forgiveness of all my sins and follies, and also for a manifestation to me, that I might know of my state and standing before him; for I had full confidence in obtaining a divine manifestation, as I previously had one” (JSH: Verse 29).

Moroni, also a resurrected being, came in the form of a man to Joseph on the night of September 21, 1823.  In a series of visits, Moroni, the last surviving prophet of the ancient Americas came to Joseph.  As the Father and Son had earlier, Moroni came in a pillar of light that was brighter than noonday and “his whole person was glorious beyond description, and his countenance truly like lightning.  (JSH: Verse 32) And Moroni also called Joseph by name (an indication that the angels of heaven know us mortals here on the earth). 

Moroni stated that he was “a messenger sent from the presence of God to me, and that his name was Moroni; that God had a work for me to do.” (JSH: Verse 33)

                Moroni was very specific in what Joseph needed to do and quoted many Bible scriptures (with some variance from the current Bible wording) and prophesied about the coming forth and restoration of the gospel of Jesus Christ.  Once again, Joseph knew that God remembered him, that God loved him and still had a great work for him to do. 

                “He said there was a book deposited, written upon gold plates, giving an account of the former inhabitants of this continent, and the source from whence they sprang.  He also said that the fulness of the everlasting Gospel was contained in it, as delivered by the Savior to the ancient inhabitants.”  (JSH: Verse 34)

Moroni appeared to Joseph five times on the night of the 21st and morning of the 22nd of September.  He quoted many scriptures and told Joseph that he, Joseph would help these to be fulfilled.  Joseph was told by Moroni to go tell his father all that had transpired.

                “I obeyed:  I returned to my father in the field, and rehearsed the whole matter to him.  He replied to me that it was of God, and told me to go and do as commanded by the messenger.”  (JSH: Verse 50)

Joseph was led of the spirit – and following Moroni’s instructions – to the nearby Hill Cumorah.  And again, it was interesting that Joseph and his Smith family then lived in very close proximity to this referenced hill.  Joseph knew the place as he arrived there.  He dug into the ground as directed by Moroni and there he beheld the sacred records written by Moroni and other prophets.  Moroni himself had buried these records and other sacred items before his death some 1,400 years previously.

Joseph was instructed that the time to obtain the plates was not yet – and in fact would not come until some four years later. 

                “I made an attempt to take them out, but was forbidden by the messenger, and was again informed that the time for bringing them forth had not yet arrived, neither would it, until four years from that time.”  (JSH: Verse 53)

Joseph was instructed to come to the same place exactly one year later and subsequently each year until it was time to obtain the plates.  As he had been commanded, Joseph

“… went at the end of each year, and at each time I found the same messenger there, and received instruction and intelligence from him at each of our interviews, respecting what the Lord was going to do, and how and in what manner his kingdom was to be conducted in the last days.”  (JSH: Verse 54)

Joseph ultimately received the promised golden plates from the Angel Moroni on September 22, 1827.  Joseph had remained true to his call and mission.  He was careful to safeguard the plates – even amid the intense persecution which was ever present around and against him.

                For no sooner was it known that I had them, than the most strenuous exertions were used to get them from me.  Every stratagem that could be invented was resorted to for that purpose.  The persecution became more bitter and severe than before, and multitudes were on the alert continually [from Satan] to get them from me if possible.  But, by the wisdom of God, they remained safe in my hands, until I had accomplished by them what was required at my hand.  … [Then] according to arrangements, the messenger called for them.  (JSH: Verse 60)

By this time, Joseph was married to Emma Hale.  Her folks had originally been very opposed to Joseph and what he was doing but ultimately their hearts were softened by the power of God.  They became friendly to Joseph and Emma and invited Joseph and Emma to come to live with them in Pennsylvania.

Following the direction of Moroni, and under intense inspiration of the Holy Ghost, Joseph began the translation of then the historic and sacred record that later would come to be known as The Book of Mormon.  The Lord sent Oliver Cowdery to assist Joseph as scribe in the translation process.

Joseph copied some of the characters from the Golden Plates – along with a written translation.  Martin Harris took these to New York and showed them to two different professors of ancient languages.  It is very interesting that the first, Professor Anton, answered exactly as had been prophesied some 2,500 years previously in a vision given to the ancient American Prophet, Nephi.  (Book of Mormon, 2 Nephi – Chapter 27) as well as to Isaiah an ancient Jewish prophet (Isaiah Chapter 29) Again, God knew from the beginning of time, events that would surround the Restoration of the Gospel in latter days.

As the work of translation transpired, Joseph and Oliver read of the need for baptism.  They inquired of the Lord and received guidance and instruction as they knelt and prayed (again in a grove) near the Susquehanna River in Pennsylvania.

                “We still continued the work of translation, when, in the ensuing month (May 1829), we on a certain day went into the woods to pray and inquirer of the Lord respecting baptism for the remission of sins, that we found mentioned in the translation of the plates.  While we were thus employed, praying and calling upon the Lord, a messenger from heaven descended in a cloud of light, and having laid his hands upon us, he ordained us saying, ‘Upon you my fellow servants, in the name of Messiah, I confer the Priesthood of Aaron, which holds the keys of the ministering of angels, and of the gospel of repentance, and of baptism by immersion for the remission of sins; and this shall never be taken again from the earth until the sons of Levi do offer again an offering unto the Lord in righteousness”  (JSH: Verses 68-69)

And so, heavenly messengers once again came – on May 15, 1929 – to Joseph (and Oliver).  The messenger said that his name was john – the same that is called John the Baptist in the New Testament.  John the Baptist, … who had been beheaded in the time of Christ, but who was now resurrected at the resurrection of Christ, appeared.  John stated that he was acting under the Priesthood authority, keys and direction of Christ’s ancient Apostles, Peter, James, and John.  He ordained Joseph and Oliver to what he called the Levitical Priesthood and commanded Joseph and Oliver to be baptized.

                “It was on the fifteenth day of May, 1829, that we were ordained under the hand of this messenger, and baptized.  Immediately on our coming up out of the water after we had been baptized, we experienced great and glorious blessings from our Heavenly Father [and we] prophesied many things which should shortly come to pass.  …  We were filled with the Holy Ghost, and rejoiced in the God of our salvation.”  (JSH: Verse 73)

Oliver is eloquent in his description of the event and states that on that sacred occasion, “we heard the voice of Jesus, and the truth unsullied as it flowed from a pure personage, dictated by the will of God, is to me past description.”   (JSH in notes following the last verses recorded by Joseph) This was the grandest of occasions and one for which Jesus and His Father had looked for thousands of years – even from before the creation of the world.  Oliver does not give details, other than to say that they heard the voice of Jesus, but perhaps Jesus could have even been there to witness this joyous occasion in fulfilment of His Father’s Plan.  Oliver also said of the occasion: “We were wrapped in the vision of the Almighty.  The Heavens were parted.”  Could it be that Jesus himself was there as one of the two required witnesses of this great event?   Interesting to ponder and to contemplate!

Later, Joseph would indeed become the Lord’s representative to restore the church once more to the earth.  What joy and gladness! The Church of Jesus Christ once more established and restored to the earth just as in ancient times and in fulfilment of words spoken to his Prophets since the beginning of earthly time.  The Lord’s Church, with priesthood authority to act in the name of Christ, was once more upon the earth.

Joseph’s “First Vision” and all subsequent events that brought forth this restoration were miraculous and amazing.  And because of these events, the world would forever be changed as the Gospel would roll forth to all the world in preparation for the promised Second Coming of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

And indeed, we can learn many great and marvelous truths from the First Vision and other events of the Restoration.  And it now becomes the mission of all members of the Church of Jesus Christ – the Latter-day Saints, to be bold in testimony of these truths – knowing that we have the divine revealed knowledge and truths that the world does not know or have.  The people of the world are depending upon and waiting for us to share the glorious message with them.  It is essential to them and for the salvation of all of God’s children now on the earth – and for all future generations. 

So, what are the truths that we learn from the First Vision and other events of the Restoration?

GOD HAS A MASTER PLAN FOR OUR EARTH AND THE GOSPEL OF JESUS CHRIST UPON THE EARTH:

God the Father had his eye on the Smith family for some 4,000 years before Joseph was born.  In the Book of Mormon, as Lehi gives a blessing to his son, Joseph, Lehi quotes a prophesy of Joseph the son of Isaac (the same that was sold into Egypt).  In this prophesy, the patriarch Joseph said that he who would restore all things would be called Joseph (after him, the patriarch) and that his name would be named after the name of his father (Joseph Smith, Sr.)  (Book of Mormon: 2 Nephi 3:15)

As already noted, The Smith family was BROUGHT to New York to be near the buried plates and future events already planned by The Father in his eternal plan.

God delegates to Christ the administration of this earth but is there to introduce and support him.

God and Christ knew the name of Joseph as a son of God.

God can indeed appear to man – though some may say that “No man has seen God”.   (He was able to see God because he was first prepared “of the Holy Ghost” to see them.

We are commanded to hear Christ – we go to God through Christ and His church.

Joseph was called of God to accomplish a specific work or mission.

When God wants to implement a new plan, He works with someone young and teachable.

Joseph was told that he would be the instrument through which the true church of Jesus Christ would once again be restored to the earth.

When God wants to communicate with us or with our church leaders, he does it through Jesus Christ.

The next step in the restoration of the Gospel after Joseph’s “First Vision” was the introduction of The Book of Mormon.

The Book of Mormon contains the fullness of the everlasting Gospel.

God prepared the Urim and Thummim thousands of years earlier for use in translation of the sacred record [into the English language.   Joseph became a Seer because he had the Urim and Thummim.

The Book of Mormon records and prophesies concerning the taking of translation samples to noted professors of the day and what the men said was recorded over a thousand years before they men said what they said.

Satan also knows the eternal plans of God.

There is now one true church of Jesus Christ upon the earth

NATURE AND ATTRIBUTES OF GOD AND CHRIST:

God is real!

God and Christ have physical bodies.

God and Christ spoke to Joseph with their mouths, and he heard with his ears and saw with his eyes.  God has ears to hear our prayers, eyes to see our actions, a mouth to speak to us, and a heart to feel compassion and love.

Joseph saw a light and heard a voice.   God and Christ appear in pillars of light.  God and Christ have light brighter than the “noon-day sun”.

Light dispels darkness.

God and Christ come in great glory “The Glory of the Lord”.

God the Father is the literal father of Jesus Christ.

God and Christ are separate beings (an important truth not known to most of the world).

God is a personal being and all men and women are made in his physical image.

God and Christ exactly resembled each other (a trait of human genetics)

When God the Father comes to earth (on very rare occasions) he comes to introduce His Beloved Son.

Joseph Smith testified that God does live, and that Jesus Christ also lives.

Jesus is a resurrected being (as is The Father).  He rose from the dead and lives today.  (And because of His resurrection, we too may all be resurrected).

The Holy Ghost is separate from God and Christ.

The Holy ghost is conferred upon us by the power the higher or Melchizedek Priesthood.

NATURE OF ANGELIC VISITORS

Angels have appeared to minister to men in our modern day.

Moroni and John the Baptist both appeared as resurrected beings.  Both had died during mortality.  Resurrection restores the full body even as in John’s case, parts of the body were separated.

John the Baptist was beheaded in New Testament times.  Moroni had died on or after the year of 422 AD.  He died and was resurrected – so the resurrection is ongoing from the resurrection of Christ.

Moroni and John the Baptist had physical bodies.

Angels bring commandments and direction acting by direction from God.

There is life after death.  We knew our ancestors prior to our birth and made sacred promises to them to help them to receive sacred Priesthood ordinances and covenants.

Angels may give direction of events that may take place – now – or at a later time.

We need to be obedient to the directions from Heaven.

Angels often appear in pillars of light.

Angels from heaven know us by name and work at God’s direction to us individually.

Angels recognize that parents need to be consulted and informed when their children receive heavenly communications (as Moroni instructed Joseph to go tell all to his father).

CHRIST AS OUR REDEEMER:

Jesus told Joseph that his sins were forgiven.

Christ said that he saved us from death and hell.

John the Baptist was beheaded as a mortal being but came to Joseph Smith as a full person who had been resurrected with other saints who had died prior to the resurrection of Christ (they were resurrected with Christ) through the power of the Atonement and resurrection of Christ.

THE POWER OF SATAN:

Satan is real and powerful.

With fortitude we can overcome the temptations of Satan and his followers

Satan tries to thwart the work of God’s plan.  He inspires opposition.

Satan also knows us by name and knows who we are as sons of God and our specific roles for building the Kingdom of God.  Satan knew Joseph personally and knew of his upcoming mission.

God is Light but Satan is darkness.

Satan will motivate evil-disposed and designing persons to thwart the rise and progress of the church.

At that moment, Joseph was overcome with darkness and the power of Satan himself.  He learned that:

Satan prompted church priests and converts (of churches of the day in 1820) around Joseph Smith to create “a scene of great confusion and bad feelings with priest contending against priest, and convert against convert” (JSH-Verse 6)

Satan used “both reason and sophistry” to confuse people interested in religion (JSH-verse 9), prompting people to “establish their own tenets and di disprove others” (JSH-Verse 9) and causing a “war of words and tumult of opinions” (JSH-Verse 10)

Satan wanted to keep Joseph (and us) from praying.

Satan will cause those around us to treat our gospel communications “not only lightly, but with great contempt” – saying that “it is of the devil, [and] there [are] no such things as visions or revelations in these days; that all such things … ceased with the apostles, and that there [will] never be any more of them.”  (JSH-Verse 21)

Satan knew God’s eternal plan (including God’s plan for Joseph Smith and the Restoration of the Gospel) and wanted to keep it from happening.

Satan is real.

Satan appears in darkness and deceit.

Satan can physically appear (as a spirit) as well as through other means.

Joseph could (and we can) exert faith to get Satan to depart from us.  It took great personal strength and determination to get Satan to depart.

Satan made him (and can make us) depressed and want to give up.

Satan used all his resources to militate against Joseph and his First Vision to make it less likely or possible (JSH-Verse 1)

Satan does not want us to listen to God.

Satan does not want God to speak to us.

Satan can overpower our emotions and even our physical being if we allow him to do so.

THE PROCESS OF PERSONAL REVELATION:

Joseph’s “mind was called up to serious reflection and great uneasiness, with deep and poignant feelings” (JSH-Verse 8) which caused him to reflect seriously upon religion, and which church was right and who was wrong.

Joseph Smith had questions he wanted answered: “What is to be done?  Who of all these parties are right; or are they all wrong together?  If any one of them be right which is and how shall I know it?”  (JSH-Verse 10)

Confusion led Joseph to dig deeper into the scriptures for answers (JSH-Verse 11)

Joseph read with his mind and “felt” the scriptures with his heart.  The scriptures he read “seemed to enter with great force into every feeling of my heart.”  (JSH-Verse 12)

Joseph reflected upon verses of scripture again and again.  He wanted to receive wisdom from God.  (JSH-Verse 12)

When a scripture is not understood, one needs to go to God – the ultimate source of all truth – for additional light and knowledge.

When we lack wisdom, we can ask of God, and obtain, and not be upbraided.  (JSH: Verse26)

The heavens are yet open in our day – not closed as in the dark ages of the past.  There is revelation and there are visions in our day.

To receive revelation, we need to retire to quiet places where we can be alone to pray.

Revelation and answers from God often come in the early morning hours when our mind is clear and alert.

We can and often will receive answers to prayers out in “nature” or in the mountains (forests and mountains)

We need to pray vocally as well as in secret – and use all our faculties.

All revelation comes through Christ to us.

God has an answer to religious and other confusion in our lives.

Personal scripture study can bring revelation.

We should ponder and meditate on the scriptures and not just “read” them.

Faith can bring answers from God.

Feelings of the heart can bring us closer to God.

God can give us guidance and answers in our search for truth.

The spirit of prophesy comes after baptism and receipt of the Holy Ghost.  Sometimes new converts can prophesy after baptism and receipt of the Holy Ghost.

The Holy Ghost enlightens our minds.

If we ask of God, we can know that we can receive answers.

Great mysteries can be unfolded to us as we study the scriptures.

Christ can speak from Heaven to us and can also appear in person.

The Holy Ghost can bring understanding to the scriptures.

We each have the opportunity to STUDY, PONDER AND PRAY for divine guidance.

We can all pray to know of our own standing before God.

God speaks to the poor and the humble.

We can prepare for prayer by kneeling and humbling ourselves – getting in the right location where we can be alone.

God and Christ promised Joseph further light and knowledge – additional revelation.

We must be true to revelation and inspiration we receive/

To receive revelation, we must be specific in our requests and what we seek.

Having received revelation from God, we must act and testify to others.

We can have confidence in God’s promises.

We need to call upon God for strength to overcome feelings of darkness and depression.              

Receiving revelation can physically and emotionally drain us.      

Following baptism and receipt of the Holy Ghost we can “have the scriptures laid open to our understandings, and the true meaning and intention of their more mysterious passages revealed unto us in a manner which we never could attain to previously, nor ever before had thought of.”  (JSH: Verse 74)

THE CHURCH OF JESUS CHRIST WAS RESTORED TO THE EARTH:

There was an Apostacy from the true church of Jesus Christ following his death.

God knew the whole plan of the gospel on the earth – from the beginning – including the creation and fall of man, the Atonement of Christ, the restoration of the Gospel and how and by whom the restoration would come (many thousands of years before it came about).  Then, all happened according to the divine plan of the Father.

God inspired an unusual excitement (an extraordinary scene of religious feeling and zeal) about religion in Joseph’s area as a foundation for Joseph to seek greater truth.  (JSH-Verse 5-6)

All churches existing prior to 1820 were not true (in the words of Christ himself).

The name of the church is The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (JSH-Verse 1)

The Gospel of Jesus Christ and obedience to the ordinances thereof can bring us joy and peace.

The Church needed to be fully restored subsequent to 1820.

Joseph wrote his history of the Restoration events to put “inquirers after truth in possession of the facts” (JSH-Verse 1) in truth and righteousness as they transpired (JSH-Verse 2).

Religious professors [in 1820] were corrupt, gave lip service but their hearts were far from God, teaching commandments of their own – thereby denying the power of God.

Seers are called of God to give revelation to mortals, and they can also use stones or other means to translate records by the power of the Holy Ghost.

Joseph and Oliver Cowdery were ordained by John the Baptized and received the Priesthood from him.

Joseph and Oliver received the priesthood through the “laying on of hands” of John the Baptist.

Joseph and Oliver were promised that they would later receive the Higher Priesthood.

Families – fathers and sons, etc. are saved as their hearts turn to each other.      

Building God’s Kingdom should be our highest priority.

The Book of Mormon contains the fulness of the everlasting Gospel.

The Prophet Elijah held/holds the Priesthood keys of binding families together (JSH: Verse 38) Elijah would come again (after 1820) to restore Priesthood keys relative to eternal families.  Additional LDS Scriptures notes that Elijah did return April 3, 1836 as the Kirtland Temple was dedicated and he did restore the promised priesthood keys.  (See D&C Section 110)

The Levitical or Aaronic Priesthood was restored on May 15, 1829.

Having been ordained to the Priesthood, Joseph and Oliver could ordain others.

The Levitical Priesthood has the power to perform baptisms.

By the Priesthood we can see angels, repent and be baptized.

Men and angels act in the name of Jesus Christ.

Baptism is to be performed by immersion.

The Priesthood will never again be taken from the earth.

There are two Priesthoods:  The Aaronic or Levitical and the Melchizedek.

Priesthood authority and the power to act in the name of Jesus Christ was taken from the earth and needed to be restored.

Baptism and gospel ordinances require proper Priesthood authority and keys from God.

Heavenly beings appeared to Joseph Smith and restored the Priesthoods of God through the laying on of hands.

Man cannot perform for God without His authority.

John the Baptist acted under Priesthood direction from Peter, James, and John (showing that they too are alive.

THE POWER OF THE GOSPEL AND ITS INFLUENCE UPON OURSELVES AND OUR FAMILIES

As we drew nearer to God, we experience persecution.

By “continuous labor we can get a comfortable [earthly] maintenance”.

Men of influence and power can work to thwart the work of God.

Family members can have hearts softened as they see the influence of the Gospel upon us and as they are touched by the Holy Ghost.

Our preparation to do the work of God can take years.  God will protect and provide for us so that we can accomplish His work.

MY OWN TESTIMONY AND WITNESS:

Having read, studied, pondered, and prayed about Joseph Smith, his “First Vision” and subsequent visits from angelic messengers, I (Kevin Hunt) have felt the witness of the Holy Ghost relative to Joseph and the coming forth of the Gospel of Jesus Christ in our day.  I know that God the Father and His Son, Jesus Christ, did in reality, come to earth and that they spoke as live and resurrected beings to Joseph Smith – giving him much guidance and instruction for our day.  I have come to know that Joseph was indeed called of God and that the Church was restored once again to the earth through him.  I know that Joseph became and was a prophet of God.  I know that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, is indeed the Lord’s only true church here upon the earth.  I know that The Book of Mormon is true and contains the fulness of the Lord’s Everlasting Gospel.

I love the Prophet Joseph Smith!  I am and will forever be grateful for this knowledge and for the truths restored to the earth through the Prophet Joseph and because of his visit from God and Christ.    I am so deeply grateful that my prayers have been answered.  I am grateful for the testimony that I have of Joseph Smith, his First Vision, and subsequent acts and visions that ultimately restored the true Church of Jesus Christ once more upon the earth.  I am grateful for the blessings of that Restored Gospel in my life and in those of my family.

GRATITUDE FOR KNOWLEDGE OF GOSPEL TRUTHS

By Kevin V. Hunt

As a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, I have been blessed through my life to know and live beautiful truths that are a part of the Church. I am so grateful for the knowledge of those truths as they have brought great joy and happiness to me and to my family through many years. We have been blessed as we have known and lived these truths.

From Thoughts Presented at the Missionary Farewell for Jenae Hunt December 9, 2001

It is a pleasure for me to be here today to be a part of this special scene.  We welcome our many family members and friends who have come from near and far.

Jenae is going on a mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints because she has faith.  She is going to talk on that subject.  She does have tremendous faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.  She also has faith in a Prophet of God who has called her to serve in faraway Bristol, England.  This same Prophet who called her to serve has spoken to all people who are not of our faith.  President Gordon B. Hinckley has said, “There are good people everywhere.  There is much of truth and goodness in the world and there is truth in all churches.”  He continues, “We do not ask you to give up truth.  But we invite you to bring the truth that you have received and come to us and receive more truth.”

This is the subject that I would like to address today.  I would like to share some gospel truths that are unique to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints – and which Jenae will teach people as she serves for the next eighteen months.

#1 – The Mission of Christ

With the rest of the world, we believe in the life and mission of the Lord Jesus Christ as taught in the Bible.  Modern Prophets and Scripture have taught us much more about him and His divine role as our Savior and Redeemer.

#2 – The Apostasy

Jesus Christ organized His Church when here upon the earth as mortal man and Son of God.  A couple of centuries after His death, the Church and His priesthood authority to act in His name was taken from the earth.

#3 – The Restoration

In modern times, God the Father and His Son, Jesus Christ appeared to young Joseph Smith (then of New York) and called him to be a Prophet of God.  Later, John the Baptist and Christ’s Chief Apostles – Peter, James, and John – came and gave to Joseph Smith, the Priesthood authority that they had held in mortality.  This authority included the right and directive to establish and restore the Gospel of Jesus Christ in our day.

#4 – The Nature of God

When God and Jesus appeared to Joseph Smith, he saw them as men – separate and distinct – with resurrected and glorified bodies.  The Holy Ghost, the third member of the Godhead, also was present on the occasion, preparing the Heart of Joseph to receive God and Christ.  He is a personage of spirit who can guide us to all truth.  Joseph’s witness of this truth would change forever, the world’s knowledge of the nature of man and God.

#5 – The Eternal Nature of Man

Through revelations received by Joseph Smith, we learn that we lived with God and Christ prior to coming to the earth.  We there heard our Heavenly Father’s plan for our mortal existence.  We knew him literally as our Father – the father of our spirits.  He sent us here to gain physical bodies and to test our obedience.

#6 – The Free Agency of Man

God gave us our agency to choose good or evil – to choose eternal life with Him or eternal damnation.  All of us on the earth today fought valiantly for the principle of free agency and the chance to choose while here.  We accepted the Father’s plan – which included Jesus as our Savior and Redeemer and vowed to follow that plan.  Satan, or Lucifer, crusaded against free agency.  He was cast out of heaven and with his followers, tries even now to tempt and lead us from Father’s plan through negative use of our agency.

#7 – Our Life After Death

After we die, our eternal spirits will return home to God. We may there continue to grow and to progress in accordance with the Lord’s eternal plan.  At a future time, each of us who does now live, or whoever has lived or will live upon the earth will be resurrected.  This means that our spirits and bodies – our souls – will come back together – made possible through the Death and Resurrection of Jesus Christ – never to part again.

#8 – Eternal Nature of Families

Through Priesthood authority and righteous living, we can be “forever families”.  This means that we can have continuing relationships as husband and wife with our children and our ancestors even beyond the grave.

#9 – Temple Building

The doctrine of “Life after Death”, combined with that of “Eternal Families” gives meaning to why we build Temples throughout the world.  In Temples, families are united through Priesthood authority for time and all eternity.

#10 – Family History

We do extensive family history research and perform vicarious Temple ordinances so that all our ancestors and posterity – both the living and the dead – can enjoy all the Gospel blessings that our Heavenly Father promises to all His children.

#11 – The Gospel is for All People

Because of truths that we enjoy – and the knowledge of who we are – as Children of God, we are anxious to share the joy and happiness that is possible for all our brothers and sisters, and friends.  That is why some 60,000 young men and women and older couples and sisters serve for a year and a half to two years at their own expense – in virtually every country of the world.  It is the Lord himself, who organized the missionary effort and sent the missionaries two by two to declare His word to all the world.  We follow His pattern.

#12 – Priesthood Authority is on the Earth Today

The Church is organized today just as it was in the days of Christ – with the same Priesthood and offices.  All worthy men may receive the Priesthood and through it may bless the lives of their family and others.  Through it, people receive blessings wherein the sick are healed, men and women are baptized, and the Lord’s work is implemented throughout the earth.

#13 – We Have a Prophet Today

Just as in ancient times – and as recorded in the Old and New Testaments, we have a living Prophet to lead and guide us today.  From the time of Joseph Smith, there has been a Prophet at the head of the Lord’s Church.  President Gordon B. Hinckley today gives us revelation and guidance as he receives it from the Lord Jesus Christ himself.

#14 – Additional Scripture Has Been Revealed

Prophets speak and write as inspired of God and their words become scripture.  The writings and revelations given to ancient American prophets have come to us today as “The Book of Mormon – Another Testament of Christ”.  It is named for Mormon – the book’s chief editor.  The Book of Mormon testifies with the Bible that Jesus is the Christ.  The Book teaches us the Lord’s plan of joy and happiness available to us through obedience to Christ’s teachings.

#15 – Inspired Family Programs

Since the family is to be eternal, the Church of Jesus Christ promotes family togetherness.  Various organizations exist in the Church to strengthen the family unit.  There are organized programs for men, for women, for young women and children.  Scouting is the official activity program for young men and boys in the church.  Families are given support materials and training whereby they can gather at least once a week – usually on Monday evenings – to study gospel truths, read scriptures and to enjoy fellowship together in an organized family home evening program.

#16 – Correlation of Gospel Teaching

The worldwide church membership receives gospel study material that ensures that the same lessons and teachings are taught – generally in the same week – to all Saints – no matter whether they live in Arizona, in Bristol, England, Denmark, Samoa or Argentina.  Each organization of the church teaches the correlated plan so that youth and adults all receive the same truths concurrently.

#17 – Care for Each Individual and Family

Each family in the church is assigned two Priesthood holders who come to their home at least monthly on specific errand of Church leaders.  It is their role to support and teach the family while helping to meet their spiritual and temporal needs.  Admittedly, these visits generally come at the end of each month, but no other church membership enjoys this worldwide fellowship and strengthening of one another.

#18 – Personal Testimony

All people are invited to hear the message of the Restored Gospel of Jesus Christ and to receive their own personal testimony, of the Holy Ghost, relative to the truths presented.  It is upon this rock of personal revelation and witness that each member progresses and serves in the kingdom.  Personal testimony guides the three-fold mission of the church which exists to “Perfect the Saints, Redeem the Dead and to Proclaim the Gospel” for all of Father’s children.

It is the testimony of members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints – and I add my own witness – that these principles are true.  Good men and women of the earth (prepared already through the basis of truth already received through teaching of their parents, church ministers, prayer, and personal inspiration) will hear these truths and their lives will be greatly blessed for doing so.  Those who are prepared and who are seeking additional truth will respond positively to Jenae, other missionaries, and their own neighbors and friends who will want to share the Gospel message with them.

Though other churches do not generally teach these truths, most people have personal feelings about them.  They are often given this knowledge through the Light of Christ – which lights the souls of all men.  And with these personal feelings, people will feel, as they hear, that they “have come home”.  The truths will “ring true” with their souls and they will say, “Yes, I believe that!”  They will not know why they believe these truths but will respond, “I’ve always felt that way even though my church doesn’t teach that.”  They will have these feelings because they have, in fact, already been taught the truths when we all lived as brothers and sisters with our Heavenly Father before our mortal births.

And so, this brings us back to faith.  If we allow the seed of faith to grow within our hearts, it will swell and grow – allowing receipt of even more truth.  The opportunity is there for all of us to “return home” by hearing and heeding the added truths that our Father has for members of his church and kingdom.  It is with that faith and knowledge of added gospel truths that Jenae will go forth – armed as an official ambassador of the Lord’s message.

I am indeed grateful for my knowledge of these special truths.  They have indeed, made my life beautiful and very much worth living.  The truths have brought peace, joy, and happiness to me and to all my family.

GRATEFUL FOR LIFE MOMENTS OF DANISH HYGGE

By Kevin V. Hunt

With some extra time on my hands, having recently retired, I have signed on as a “Service Missionary” for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  I will work for the FamilySearch (family history) arm of the Church in the area of blogging and fact checking.  I am excited about this new opportunity.

As a part of my training for the new opportunity, it was suggested that I explore the FamilySearch “Country Pages” for geographic areas from which my family originated.  Okay, I see … Denmark.  I found the Denmark “Country Page” and began to read.  What I found was fascinating and so very interesting.  It was great fun to read of the country of Denmark and some of the unique features about it.  I became enthralled with the Danish attitude of “Hygge” (that I found mentioned in the Country Page) and began to research it in greater depth.

I am not a Danish linguist, so I did not know how to pronounce “Hygge”.  I read that in “English” it is actually pronounced “HOO-GAH”.  What a great word!  Hoo-Gah!   I read with interest that Hygge is a word meant to “capture coziness or the good things in life—friends, family, relaxing, gathering”.  I learned that the Danes have been rated as one of the happiest nations in the world – that they truly enjoy the good things of life.  I read that Hygge is their state of “cozy contentment.”  To have hygge is to give courage, comfort and joy, and an “everyday togetherness.”

Friends, family, relaxing, and Gathering …  Wow!  Talk of the good life …!  Those are pretty great words!

I am proud to have Danish ancestry.  My mother’s grandparents on her father’s Larsen side – were both from Denmark.  Her great-grandfather was Hans Rasmus Larsen, born in 1806 in Abitlorpe, Branderslev, Denmark.  He and his wife, Katrine, brought their lone surviving son, Lars (whose Americanized name became Louis Rasmus Larsen) to America about 1854.

Several years ago, I became drawn to Hans and Katrina.  I had a family group record with them as parents.  On the chart were shown two children.  Christen was shown as being born in 1844 and he died way too young – at just six years of age – in 1850.  Then there was Lars – my ancestor.  He was born in 1846.  It was young Lars who came with his parents to Amerika (that is how they spelled it).  Then at the bottom of the family group record was a little note.  It was kind of “cryptic”:  It read, “A little girl died and was buried at sea.”  That was it.  That was her whole dash of her life.

It was that little footnote that got me going about Hans and family.  Who was this little girl?  What was her name?  How old was she?  Why did she die?  “Buried at sea …”  That sounds brutal.  I wanted to know more of her how and why.  I began to seek any kind of evidence about her life.  I began to search any and all records that I could about the family.  I wasn’t sure where to start.

At this time, I was then living in Ogden, Utah and was working for the Boy Scouts of America.  I knew that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints had a comprehensive collection of Danish records in the genealogical or family history library in Salt Lake City.  I began to make regular trips down to the Salt Lake Library.  I began to work smarter and managed my time such that every two weeks, I could take a full weekday to drive to Ogden to research my Danish ancestors.  I began to live for those Salt Lake trips.

I learned that many of the Danish people were farmers.  And I learned that my Larsen ancestors were also farmers.  I learned that the Danes would live on small family farms or they could be a part of a big community type farm – usually for generations.  And often, their farms were named for the village that they lived in.   The village became the key.  I learned too, that surrounding the family farm – and within a few miles, there could be numerous small Lutheran church parishes.  Most of the time, the family members would attend church activities in the little village nearest them, but sometimes, they would venture out – go to the “bigger” church for special occasions.  So, in my research, I learned to “spiral” out various parishes in the general area.

I found that like most folks, the most important moments of life were the days of birth, baptism, confirmation, marriage, and death.  And it was these events that would be recorded in the church records.  And it was interesting to note that the folks really did not move around too much in the 1700’s and 1800’s.  So, if you found them in a particular village, you likely had them “captured” there for even a couple of hundred years.

Often, these Danes did not have last names.  I learned that they “received” their surnames in three main ways.  One was the village that they lived in.  So, my Hans, might be in the record as simply, “Hans from Abiltorpe”.   Another way that they received their name was by their occupation.  So, I found many ancestors that were listed as “Hans the Smed” (the blacksmith) or Hans Belveredere (the leather tanner) – or whatever their work might be.  The third naming method was their “patronymic” name.  This is confusing to many folks, but once you get onto it, it does kind of make sense – knowing that there really were not always surnames.  In the patronymic system, My Hans might be shown in the records as “Hans, the son of Lars” – so he became Hans Larsen.  And his sister might have been Anna Larsdatter (the daughter of Lars).  This would be even though his father could have been Lars – the son of Hans – or Jens, or Soren, or whomever.  So, with this system, the name could and actually did change with each generation.  It wasn’t until about 1850 that the patronymic names were kind of “dropped” and retained with the then current name.  So, about 1850, all children of Hans Larsen would retain his Larsen name. And to add to the confusion, the same Hans guy could have been shown in various records by more than one (or combination of two or more) naming methods (farm, village, occupation or “son of … ”  So, to be successful, the researcher had to be kind of a sleuth – a detective – in order to put all of the pieces together.

I learned that the Danish records were actually pretty decent.  Many or even most Danes of the 1600-1800’s belonged to the Lutheran Church because this was the “state church”.   And the Lutherans kept good records.

In my family, there was long tradition that “the records were all burned during World War II”.  This kind of scared off those who might otherwise want to research the family.  Luckily, I learned that this tradition was mostly false.  There were some few records that were, in fact, burned, but that generalization was way too broad.  In many cases, the Lutheran parish records extended back to about 1640 – but this date varied by individual parish.  Early in the 1700’s, the Danish government established a set format and specific information for the collecting and recording of vital records.

When I began my research, I knew no Danish.  I had little knowledge of what records might be available for my Danish research.  My saving grace was that the Salt Lake library had personnel trained in Danish and they could read the old Gothic writing and interpret it for me into understandable English.  I began to search Lutheran Church parish records that might contain my people.  The challenge was that the records were all written in Danish.   The Church had been in Denmark for years and had arranged with government and Lutheran Church officials to film any record that might have historical significance.  There were hundreds of Danish microfilm records to search.  The film titles helped me to focus and look for specifically for my people.  Luckily, the records were mostly arranged chronologically by geographic area.   The geographic location was the key.  I needed to know where my people lived so that I might zero in on records for the area where they lived.  The family group record for Hans Larsen had some hints about my Danish locations – though I later learned that they were just that – hints.  (Since the various life events could have occurred in neighboring village parishes.)

Anyway, at the library, I would tediously “roll” through various microfilm records.  And when I found a record that seemed to “fit” my people, I would take the microfilm roll off of the giant machine – being careful not to lose my place while juggling the two microfilm rolls. Then at the help desk, I would put the two reels onto their machine and would ask for an interpretation.  They were most gracious in their willingness to help me. And if they were my folks, I would print a copy from the microfilm slide.

Ultimately, I learned to “read” much of the records myself.  I noted that eventually the records were recorded in a specific format – many with columns.  And in these columns, it was relatively easy to pick out the name of the person, the date for the event, the parents, and witnesses.  So, I really did not have to know “Danish” – I just needed to know what the columns were. So, once I got down the key terms for birth, death, marriage, parents, village, etc., it was fairly easy to find the needed information.

I began with what I knew about Hans and Katrina.  I found them in the Nakskov Lutheran Parish. That is where Christen and Lars were born.  I found no record of a little girl born to Hans and Katrina, however.

I then somehow learned of the immigration records that recorded ships and their passengers from Denmark to America.    I knew the approximate year of immigration for Hans and Katrina.  I looked at the various ships that came in that time period.  I suddenly found Hans and Katrina and Lars in the shipping record – the Captain’s Log – that he turned in to US officials as the boat docked at New Orleans.  In the record were listed Hans and Katrina, Lars and DOROTHE.  There she was!  Dorothe Larsen, age 1 ½. The record for Dorothe, had a note in the margin saying that she died on March 6, 1854 and “was buried at sea” (that being the only option.  Typically, when a person died on the ship, the body was placed in a gunny sack with rocks to help the body sink.  Kind of gruesome, but sadly, that was the way it was).

So, now, I was ecstatic.  I had her name.  I had her age … though “a year and a half could mean anything between age one and two).  I went back to the parish records.  She was not listed in the village of Nakskov with the others.  I began to spiral out from that village.  I ultimately found her in a nearby parish.  Evidently the family had moved to this new parish (about 50 miles away) shortly before Dorothe’s birth in 1852.  I found her born on 12 May 1852!  Wow!  So exciting.  It was with great pleasure that I added her actual name, birth and death dates to the family group record.

And to add to the story …  little Lars and his parents did make it to Utah. He ultimately met and married Else Marie Pedersen, also from Denmark.  She also had a very interesting story.  Her father died shortly before the mother and most of the seven children had joined The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  The mother wanted to immigrate to Amerika with her children and fellow saints.  Having limited resources, she could only afford to bring the youngest three of the seven children with her.  Her plan was to save money and somehow later bring the other children to join them in Amerika.  She booked passage and she and the three children – my great-grandmother being the youngest and only age 8 – set sail.  Sadly, the mother died of Cholera in St. Louis en route west.  This left the three children to basically fare for themselves.  My great-grandmother, Else, is said to have walked the entire 1,400 miles across the plains – and did not even have a pair of shoes.  She covered her feet with burlap gunny sacks.  She rode in a wagon only a half day when she was sick.  She and Lars (now Louis) later met and married and had ten children.  My own grandfather, Henry Erastus Larsen, was their 6th child – born in 1879.

After I had found my desired facts, I began to look at all the records where I had found evidence of my Hans Larsen ancestor.  Here was a guy who was born over two hundred years ago – and who died over a hundred years ago.  He was pretty obscure – just a quiet farmer who had lived his “Hygge” contented life in a small Utah village following his immigration from Denmark.  But, yet I found him documented in over 75 different records!  Wow!  So unbelievable but wonderful.

I then decided to write the history of my Hans – based upon the many records where I had found him.  And by this time, I felt that I knew him so well that I actually wrote the history in “the first person” as if it were Hans, himself, who was telling his story.  I happily shared his history with family members.  They experienced my Hygge!

As I concluded my research and the life history, my mother suggested that I connect with her first cousin, an Art Greco, who lived in Bountiful, Utah (located about 30 miles south of my Ogden home).  He was so excited about all that I had found out about the family.  He had known Else (his grandmother) well.  He showed me several artifacts from the family and eventually passed some of them on to me – including a beautiful photo of Hans and Katrine, a German Danish Bible – published about 1750 and an original 1851 Danish edition of the LDS “Book of Commandments” (now the Doctrine and Covenants) book of scripture.  I have great hygge as I treasure those special Danish relics.

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Though I did not know my Danish ancestors, I have a great love for them.  I am grateful that they experienced the Danish Hygge – living life cozy and content – though they really had zero of this life’s goods.  I believe that they were happy and content with their “friends, family, relaxing and gathering”.  I think that was their simple and happy life.

Before I leave Hans, I would like to share a story that has come down through the family about him.  When he was over age 75, the LDS Church was constructing the Manti, Utah Temple – located about 30 miles from the Fairview village where Hans lived.  He would – along with other men of Fairview and surrounding villages) go to church and would be given an assignment to go down to help with the Temple construction in Manti.  He lived long before the advent of cars or vehicles.  He had no horse or buggy.  But, to do his duty, he would get his little wooden wheelbarrow, would put into it a blanket and a few meager food supplies.  He would then push his wagon as he walked the 30 miles down to Manti.  He would work there on the Temple for a couple of weeks and would wheel the cart home.  And a few months later, he would again get an invitation/assignment to again work on the Temple – and he would repeat it all over again.  Unbelievable!  Wow!  What an example of perfect Hygge!

I think this temple service – and the anticipation of the Temple completion – and being with his son and his family – all contributed to his Hygge (Hoo-Gah) lifestyle.  His life was simple, but he was happy (aside from the fact that his beloved Katrina had died many years previously and I am sure that he was lonely).

In my research of the Danish word, hygge, I learned that the word dates back to the mid 1800’s or beyond.  And since then, many nations, Norway, and others, have adopted the special word and have embellished upon it.

I have a son whom I say is a true Dane.   He has the Danish fair skin and red hair (though not all Danes have ginger hair).  We named him with the middle name of Hansen – so that he was literally, Keith, the son of Hans in the old patronymic system.  And it seems to fit him well.  I am glad that the Danish “Hygge” is preserved in him.

Recently Keith attended basic and then culinary training for the US Army Reserves.  I was intrigued with a term used at his graduation exercise (which we watched by video – because of COVID pandemic restrictions.)    I loved the word, “Hooah”.  I think that the term has to originate with the Danish “Hygge” of Hoo-Gah.  I don’t know if Hygge is the state of every Army recruit, but the spirit of the term is there with the folks of the Army battalions. 

Keith said that the term “was used all of the time in the training environment”.  I think that it had become a fun tradition which even the rigid drillmasters enjoyed using and maintaining.  Keith said, “It can mean many things … like, do you understand? Hooah?  Can you respond in the affirmative with a Hooah!?”  He said that the Hooah was also given as somewhat of a “battle cry” – meaning that you agree with what’s happening or you’re excited about what’s happening, or you are just pumped up.”

My Air Force son-in-law uses a similar word in his ranks.  I guess it is just a fun term that everyone enjoys.

“HYGGE!  HOO-GAH!”  What a great term or state of mind.  I am so glad that our Danish friends (and ancestors) shared it with us.  And I think that we all need a bit more “HYGGE” in our lives.

One more thing …  I found that Hygge and Hoo-Gah tie closely to the term hug.  In my research, I found that the word hug – meaning “to embrace” comes from the 1500’s and the Danish word, “Hugge”.  I think that hugs and “Hoo-gah” tie closely together.  I am a hugging person.  I guess I just like the “Hugge” opportunity with family and special friends.  I like a bit of Hygge with every gathering in which I find myself.  (In the best of the Danish tradition!)

I am grateful for the HOO-GAH moments in my life.  It is the Hygge moments that have made life worth living for me.

Friends … we cannot have enough friends.  Sadly, none of us have enough of them.  Friends … the people who want to be with us in spite of our quirks and challenges.  We all need more friends to help us achieve the Hygge moments!

Family … family is everything!  I have often told my children that “friends come and go, but family is always there.”  I believe that God gave us families so that we can enjoy Hygge moments together.  All the special moments … births, parties, marriages, deaths, and all the good times in between.  I believe that families (in all their generations) really are the key secrets to Hygge and happiness in our lives.  I can truly say that much of the Hygge of my life has revolved around my family and special moments with them.

Gathering … This has long been one of my most favorite words.  Gathering … and all that it implies.  Gathering is where family and groups of friends can truly enjoy the Hygge moments together.  (I even had a catering business for many years and Gatherings was the first word of our company name.  It seemed to say everything about who we were what we had to offer.  We wanted to help others experience the best of Hygge in their lives and in their special events that created that Hygge.

I experienced some Hygge in my mission as I served “down Sawth” (Alabama, Flawda, and Jawja).  I loved how many folks had porch swings and how they could seemingly spend hours out in them in the evenings.  Those folks were not Danish, but they knew all about “Hoo-Gah”.  I have the rocking chairs on my back porch but I need to train myself to have more “Hygge” in them.

It was and is the Hygge of life that created the traditions that have bound generations of family and friends together.  Gathering …  such a special opportunity for Hygge … the “Hoo-gah!” of life.

I have experienced the Hygge moments when I have been the happiest in my life.  It is with it that I have found true cozy contentment.  Hoo-Gah has given me a feeling of contentment and well-being.  With Hygge, I have been able “to have a good time, to enjoy myself” (as Wiktionary states).  With Hygge, I have had courage, comfort, joy, an everyday togetherness, a sense of personal wholeness.

I am so grateful that Danish Hygge runs in my blood – in my veins.  I am grateful for the Danish ancestry that has helped me to experience their Hygge even today.  I feel some Hygge each time I eat soup with our traditional Danish dumplings – with the recipe handed down through multiple generations from my Danish ancestors – from Hans and Katrina, to Louis and Else, to Henry and Alta, to my mother, and down to me.  Those dumplings give me a special feeling of Danish Hygge.

I can say that at this time in my life, I am experiencing some true Hygge.  We are greatly blessed of the Lord.  Life is good and I am enjoying the family, the friends, the relaxation and the gatherings.  I am grateful for the Hygge moments of my life.

Hygge … let’s do more with friends, family, relaxing, and gathering.  Life can only be made more wonderful and joyful (cozy contentment) with more Hygge in all aspects of our lives.  Let’s enjoy and be grateful (as I am) for each “Hoo-Gah” moment – and do more to create them.  HOO-GAH!

Here is a link to the history on Hans and Katrina Larsen

https://drive.google.com/file/d/1sMpIEO1jfSM8sIKnnN0MLYnhyqDt4hFq/view?usp=sharing

gratitude for righteous guiding principles

By Kevin V. Hunt

Back a few years ago, I was invited to talk along with our son, Rusty, in a church Sacrament meeting.  The occasion was his eminent departure for a Church mission to Brazil.  That talk was an opportunity to reflect upon the things that had become important to me (and to my wife and our family).  And in whole, the talk really was a statement of my gratitude for God and a glorious way of life – righteous principles – that He had inspired us to live.  It was recognition – and again gratitude, of His beautiful concepts that inspired and guided us.  It was a time of reflection and gratitude for our children and posterity and their power and strength.

And it is in the spirit of Gratitude, that I now publish this article in recognition of God’s blessings unto us.  It is often in retrospect, that one can fully appreciate the blessings given to us.  This message is shared – not in the spirit of pride or bragging, but in the acknowledgement of blessings that come as we have strived to live in God’s way and to press forward with a desire to do good things.

RAISING A RIGHTEOUS FAMILY

(From a Father’s Perspective) – By Kevin V. Hunt

Talk given at Rusty’s “Mission Farewell” August 14, 2005

[My wife, Lou was assigned to speak on the same subject “from a mother’s perspective” and covered many of the same subjects.  At the beginning of my talk, I said, “My wife and I did not correlate what to talk about on our talks so you will notice a lot of duplication.  But that is, in reality, a testimony of husband and wife working together for common goals.]

The Hunt family has enjoyed a glorious and wonderful weekend as a family.  We have gathered in a family reunion to celebrate our Rusty going on a mission.  Jenae and Paul and new little Kaitlin have come from Utah.  Kaylea and Pete and their big/little Bryson as well as Jackie and Michael and their brand-new Abby all live nearby but have been here with us.  Siblings and Parents have also joined in various activities.  We have together celebrated the joy of family – of being together and of accomplishments of family members.  And that means that we have basked in the joy of the Gospel of Jesus Christ – for the two go together.

Our weekend together began with a family Temple trip.  We enjoyed baptisms and sealings with six of our children and spouses there.  Saturday morning, we migrated en masse to Gilbert’s Freestone Park for a big family photo.  Our favorite photographer joined us and performed wonderful service on our behalf.  To add to our joy of being together on that beautiful summer morning, K.C., home just three months from his mission, announced his engagement and coming Temple marriage to Miss Celeste Farr – from the middle of nowhere, Nevada.

The family photo was an opportunity for me to measure success and growth of our family.  It had been five years – almost to the day – that we had had a full family photo.  Since that time, we have always had a missionary serving and each of them overlapped with a sibling.  So, it has been that long since we have been fully together.  (We were actually all together in May as KC returned but we had to wait for the arrival of Miss Abby for the family photos.)

Much has happened in the five years since that last family photo.  Two boys followed their older brother and five uncles in achieving their Eagle Scout Award.  Keith has been ordained a Priest in the Aaronic Priesthood and his two brothers both became Elders in the Melchizedek Priesthood.  Five children have gone to the Temple for their endowments.  Jackie served a mission to Venezuela.  Jenae Served a mission to England and Wales.  K.C. served a foreign mission to Ft. Worth, Texas.  Rusty is now called to serve in Brazil.  Larissa was baptized.  Four more children graduated from high school.  Two summers ago, we had three daughters get married within 60 days.  It was a wonderful whirlwind of family joy and happiness as we went to marriages in two states, three temples and endured five receptions.  Son-in-Law to be, Paul, nearly died in a major car accident in Provo Canyon.  We rejoiced in the Miracle of his recovery – which even allowed him to dance – in great pain, and with a rod in his femur – at his own wedding reception.  Jenae and Paul got married on the 25th Anniversary of Lou and me.  And that was a real shock – since Lou is still only 29.

Now each of those three new families have added to family posterity with the addition of three new grandchildren.  And we rejoice in them and their wonderful spirits.  And K.C. has now become engaged.  I might note that a marriage so soon was not in his plans.  He had big plans for school and career.  But the Lord literally dropped Celeste into his lap so K.C. recognized that blessing and is now taking early action.  K.C. learned in his youth and as a missionary to listen to the Lord – and then after hearing the message, standing up to salute with a “Yes, Sir” and then taking action.  The home children have developed talents, progressed in school, church, Young Men and Young Women.  We are very proud of each of the children and their accomplishments – for WHO and WHAT they are.

As I have contemplated the above, I have had frequent occasion to reflect with sincere gratitude, on the family and the children that we have been blessed with.  I feel much like Book of Mormon Ammon who said in Alma 26:8-12:  “Blessed be the name of our God:  let us sing to his praise, yea, let us give thanks to his holy name, for he doth work righteousness forever.  And it came to pass that when Ammon had said these words, his brother Aaron rebuked him, saying: Ammon, I fear that thy joy doth carry thee away unto boasting.  But Ammon said unto him:  I do not boast in my own strength, nor in my own wisdom; but behold, my joy is full, yea, my heart is brim with joy, and I will rejoice in my God.  Yea, I know that I am nothing as to my strength I am weak:  therefore I will not boast of myself, but I will boast of my God, for in his strength I can do all things, yea, behold many mighty miracles [we have seen] wrought in the land, for which we will praise his name forever.”

Our friend and neighbor Bishop Hale asked me to talk today on the subject of “Raising a Righteous Family from a Father’s Perspective”.  That subject gave me opportunity to pull together some of my own thoughts on the subject as I have contemplated the Lord’s blessings in our behalf – and the accomplishments of our family.  He asked me to speak to the many young couples and families of the ward.  So, with that injunction, I go forward.  And from 27 years of marriage experience, I now share with you the contemplations of what has brought success, joy and happiness to the Hunt family.

I have compiled a list of things that we have done – and that I would recommend to others relative to raising a righteous family.

  1. Commit yourselves and the whole family to the Lord.  Put Him first and live and serve according to all His commands.
  • Build upon a foundations of family traditions.  Have traditions for church attendance and service, Sabbath observance, family work projects together, a lot of recreation and trips together. Watch General Conference together.  Expect family participation by “always doing it” together.
  • Set goals for the family, for expectations, for achievement, for obedience and commitment to the Lord.  Unite together as a couple and a family to achieve all that the Lord has in store through conformance to His plan.
  • Plan for a big family.  Don’t limit the number of children.  Plan for and welcome all that you can possibly get.  We set a goal at marriage – to have twelve – but ended up with nine.  And, as Lou says, “Nine is Fine”.  And remember that the number of children that you can have and nurture and provide for is not tied to economic wealth – though having nine children does have some impact on the budget.  We have enjoyed our many children and it just keeps getting better.
  • Keep the mom home with the children in the early years.  That is probably the greatest decision of our lives.  What wonderful things have come from the commitment and sacrifice by all of us.
  • One of the greatest things that we did – and we didn’t really pre-plan it – was to not have a television in the home.  I can not begin to tell you of the blessings of that one decision made when Jackie was just four and which continues to this day.  Having no television gave us a multitude of time together, time to learn crafts, develop talents, a great amount of “talk time” and has sheltered and protected our children from the evils of the world.
  • Read together.  What great benefits we have derived from the thousands of hours we have read together.
  • Pay a full tithe.  And the question is, “Do you want the Gross blessings – the big blessings – or do you want the Net – just part of the blessings.”  And pay a generous fast offering.  These offerings will help to solidify the family financial success and survival.
  • Do the basics religiously and regularly.  Not big things any of them – but have family prayers, personal and individual scripture study.  Attend church – to ALL of the meetings and activities together.  Eat meals together and talk together.  Work and play together.
  1. Be a part of all activities and programs of which the children are a part.  Celebrate achievement and success.
  1. Parents and siblings unite together in personal example to all of the children of the family.  Work for and achieve pre-set goals for family righteousness, missions, and Temple – and all the intermediate steps and standards needed to meet those big goals.
  1. Talk often of missions and Temple marriage and the expectation and opportunity for each to be ready and prepared for these major life milestones.
  1. Trust in the Lord – and build this attitude of trust in family members through recognition and gratitude through life’s activities, commitments, and decisions.
  1. And I just thought of another one – not in my original typed text: Record the events and blessings and them refer to them often to reflect upon progress made and the Lord’s blessings in your lives.

Well, there you have it.  That’s the “Reader’s Digest” version.  There is more that can be said, but those 13 items will establish a major foundation.  Those are the Hunt family keys to success.  They have certainly worked for us and we have had great joy because of them.  And even though I grew up on Park Place – on the Monopoly board, I don’t believe that the Hunt family has a monopoly on the good things of life – the blessings and opportunities and the end results.  I believe that those same blessings and opportunities are available to all through obedience, planning, and trust in the Lord.  Just DO IT, as President Kimball always stressed, and all things will come together.  As our Hunt family scripture says in Proverbs, “Trust in the Lord with all thine heart and lean not unto thine own understanding.  In all thy ways, acknowledge Him and he shall direct thy paths.”

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

And as I prepare this blog article for publication, I am again reminded of the Lord’s guidance in our lives.  I am so grateful for the principles that were taught to us through the years and which we strived each day to try to live.  And doing so has brought great blessings to me, to my wife, and to our family.  Fifteen plus years more (since the 2005 church talk) have just accentuated the truth of these guiding principles.  And those blessings just keep coming.  For that I express my profound gratitude to my God.

GRATITUDE FOR GENERATIONS OF MOTHERS

GRATITUDE FOR GENERATIONS OF MOTHERS

By Kevin V. Hunt

Today is Mother’s Day, 2021. On this special day, I have reminisced about the generations of mothers who have touched my life. And as I do so, I would like to share a talk given with my daughter, Larissa’s, Mother’s Day Mission Farewell Talk

May 11, 2014

I am happy to be here and to share the Mother’s Day program with my daughter, Larissa.  She has really wondered who else would be talking today, how long they would take, how long she should take, etc.  That is so Larissa! I did not let on to her nor to my wife that I was to speak also today.  My wife just found out and could not believe that I pulled one over on them.  She stuck her tongue out at me.  It was a great moment.

I’m pleased that Larissa has chosen to go on a mission.  She has been influenced by 3 generations of family LM’s – lady missionaries.  Three of her sisters served before her and set the example – as did her mother and both grandmothers and her Aunt Laurie on the Hunt side.  And on the Belcher side, Lou and ALL four of her sisters (and all four brothers – so all the 9 Belcher siblings served).  One sister did not go when she was young – since she got married – but she later served four or five missions.

In addition to the Hunt ladies, Larissa’s three brothers served missions – as did five of the Hunt uncles – and all eight of the Belcher uncles.

Mothers of many generations have taught these missionaries.  Mothers have a very profound influence upon missionary sons and daughters.  In the case of my own mother, she tells of her first recollection of me wanting to go on a mission.  She says I asked her one day if I could take Pogo, my teddy bear, and my blanket with me on my mission.  She wisely said, “If you want to!”  Obviously there had been some missionary discussion prior to that conversation.  Pogo had long since worn out by the time that I went on my mission. but my mother did make me a new quilt to take with me.

Mother’s Day in 2008 was on May 11th – as it is this year.  On that day, I recorded some thoughts in my daily journal:

MAY 11TH – SUNDAY

Today was Mother’s Day – the day set aside to recognize mothers for their sacrifices and contributions in our lives.  The Bishop cancelled the leadership meetings of the day so that we could be home with our wives and mothers.  This was a welcome blessing.

As I pondered mothers, today, I thought of five generations of mothers who have affected my life.  I first thought of my great grandmother, Else Marie Pedersen Larsen – who represents all the pioneer mothers who sacrificed their worldly goods so that we might today enjoy the great blessings of the Gospel.  Her father died just before they joined the church in Denmark.  The mother wanted to go to Zion but could not afford to take all seven children.  She took the three youngest – two boys and my great grandmother and headed to America – with plans to send for the other four children later.  However, the mother died in St. Louis – leaving the three children on their own.  Great grandmother Else made it to Zion, married and ultimately had 10 children.

I then thought of my own grandmother, Augusta Wilcox Hunt who gave her entire life in service to others.  I thought of how she raised her thirteen children and how she served them and everyone else.  I thought of her funeral when most of my 82 cousins and coincidentally also 82 of her great grandchildren (and I counted them this morning from records of that time) all stood together and sang, “Because I have been Given Much” as a symbol of her life of service.  That was one of the great moments of my life.

I next thought of my own mother.  I thought of her teaching to me.  I thought of how she taught me to work, to trust in the Lord, to serve others.  I reflected upon her testimony, her dedication to the Lord and to all worthy causes.  I thought of her support of me in Scouting as a youth. Whatever I was interested in, she was also interested in it.  She served faithfully on the Scout committee and helped ensure that her five sons had a good program.  I thought of her today as the continuing example of righteousness and good things.

My wife, Lou was next on my list.  I thought with gratitude of her and was glad that she has been given to me – and that she is the mother of our nine children.  I reflected upon her great sacrifices for me and each of the children.  I thought of her faith through trials and her core of strength and commitment.

And then, finally, I reflected upon each of my six daughters – the mothers of my current and future grandchildren.  I thought of their lives and their preparations to be mothers.  I wondered if Lou and I have given them the training and preparation that they need and will need for their great lives and work.  I reflected on those who are presently mothers and the good things that they are doing with their own children.  I hoped that each one would take the time to teach their children the Gospel truths that the children so greatly need in today’s world.  I hoped that each daughter might remain true and faithful and joyful in their world and the possibilities that each has and will have as a mother in Zion in these final days of the world.

So, I was grateful for many generations of wonderful mothers who have affected my life and the lives of my ancestors, my children, and future generations.  I have been blessed to have had association and influence from these great women in my life.  I am thankful for each and their contributions to my life.

So, today I am talking of the influence of generations of mothers.  My family is blessed to have four generations of mothers present today.  I’m going to invite them to be my visual aids for my talk – and they can kill me later.  As I tell their names, I’d like them to stand and then to remain standing.

I’d like my own mother, Alura, to stand.  She’s shrinking with age, but she still stands tall as the grand matriarch of our family.

Mom is:

Mother to 7

Grandmother to 24 (12 boys and 12 girls)

Great Grandmother to 36

And with a second marriage she doubles the children and grandchild generations and I think she’s lost track of the great grands on that side.

Her Hunt posterity now numbers 85 (with the in-laws).  Of that 85, 33 have served missions, 22 are Eagle Scouts, and 19 girls earned their Young Women Recognition Award, and an equal number are now mothers.

In the second generation, I have here two sisters – Laurie (mother of two) and Ruthanne (mother of three).

Also in the second generation is my wife, Lou – or “Momma Lou” as we all know her.  Lou is:

Mother of 9

Soon to be grandmother to 27 with the upcoming births of three more grands.  This will make a total posterity of 45! 

Of this 45, three sons and four sons-in-law are Eagle Scouts.

8 daughters and daughters in law have received the Young Women Recognition and these eight are now all mothers.

Larissa makes our seventh missionary – and four sons in law have also served.

All nine of her children are now endowed at the Temple.

In the 3rd Generation, I introduce three of our daughters:  Jackie, mother of three and full-time college student at BYU-Idaho; Fabriza – our Brazilian daughter-in-law – and Marinda – who will give birth to her first child and our 27th grandchild in August.  She is nurturing the baby in many ways – even now.

And then we come to the 4th generation.  In this generation we have the future mothers.  These include Larissa, Abby, and Sienna.

I wish that all our family mothers could have been here to stand as mothers with us but that was not possible.  But look at the power in these generations of mothers!  Thank you, mothers, you may be seated.

Now let’s talk about each of these generations of mothers.  Great grandmothers are just that.  They are experienced and great grandmothers.  Mothers in this generation can:

          Share their testimonies with their posterity.

          Write for their posterity.

          Send birthday cards and letters – the young kids love them.

          Attend concerts, sports events, weddings, baptisms, and blessings.

          Attend the Temple as an example to her posterity.

          Encourage and help the grandmothers train young mothers.

          Contribute to missionary funds for their posterity.

A scripture that can characterize this generation is Moses 5:11. This scripture talks of Adam and Mother Eve.  Some of you ladies think you have it “bad” with four or five children.  Think of Eve – she may have been the mother of 150 or more!  Anyway, she was able to look back on her situation and could then rejoice in her posterity.

Grandmothers can:

          Bake and decorate cookies with the grandchildren.

          Make clay dough for the grandchildren.

          Make dresses for granddaughters for Christmas and special occasions.

          Go on missions as an example to the grandchildren.

          Attend events involving the grandchildren.

          Establish mission savings accounts for the grandchildren (instead of giving other gifts)

          Serve faithfully in the church and in the family.

          Establish family traditions that are unique to her.  [Momma Lou, for instance makes home made doughnuts, cinnamon rolls and has rock out dance parties with the grandchildren.  They want to do these things with her every time that she goes to their place – and whenever they come to our place.]

          Call and encourage her daughters as one who has been through it.  I know that my wife calls and connects with her daughters almost every day.  She is a great source of encouragement to them in their times of challenge.  I know when my wife was a young mother, she thought her situation was bad.  It was so bad, in fact, that she ripped the pages of those days from her journal and burned them.  Now it is too bad that she can’t share those entries with her daughters – who are now going through those same struggles.  Young mothers, know that it does get better with time!

A scripture for the grandmother generation is found in Alma 56.  We are all familiar with the account of the young Ammonite warriors and their mothers who taught them to trust in the Lord.  They were definitely “mothers who knew” as Larissa just quoted Sister Beck, former General President of the Relief Society.

But there were at least two other generations of mothers who were not mentioned in the original account.  One of those generations was the grandmothers of the young Ammonite warriors – the mothers of the mothers of the soldiers.  This generation of mothers were the first generation converts to the church.  They made covenants and were true and faithful.  Twenty-nine years had passed since their conversions and their daughters would have been the initial Young Women of their day.  They taught their daughters to love the Lord.  The Ammonite youth were ages 14 to 20 when they served.  That would put their mothers around ages 30 to 45 and the grandmothers ages 45 to 65.  So, most of that generation of mothers would have been alive during the war and would have offered much support and many prayers in support of their daughters and their warrior sons.  They would have assisted their daughters in the training of the 3rd generation.

And the third generation of mothers in The Book of Mormon story are those who were the sisters of the Ammonite warriors.  Say for an example that each of the soldiers had a sister who was at home.  This would mean at least 2,000 sisters – and perhaps many more.  These daughters received the same training as their brothers.  They were the future mothers who were then preparing for their roles of wives to the 2,000 young men soldiers who would come home from the war – and their future children.

Mothers, you are the generation who are now up to your eyeballs in diapers, you are the barbers, the Cub Scout den leaders and so much more.  In your role as mothers, you can teach your young children to trust in the Lord.  I still remember when I was a child and how my mother made a large poster with what became our favorite scripture:  Proverbs 3:5-6 which says, “Trust in the Lord with all thine heart and lean not unto thine own understanding.  In all thy ways, acknowledge Him and He shall direct thy paths.”

Ammonite mothers taught that same trust in the Lord to their children.

Mothers, you are the women who are just trying to make it “through another day”.  You offer your support to your husbands and his family as did Ruth to her widowed mother-in-law as she said to Naomi, “whither thou goest, I will go; and where thou lodgest, I will lodge: thy people shall be my people, and thy God my God” (Ruth 1:16)

You mothers are the true nurturers that Larissa quoted from Sister Beck (LDS General Conference, October 2007).  Always have family home evening and read the scriptures with your children.  Pray with them often.  You are the trainers of this greatest generation of missionaries, and it is your task to train them so you and they can participate in the great “hastening of the work” which is now in progress with missionary work.

Future mothers … You can use your time to learn from the generations of mothers before you.  Read The Book of Mormon, gain a testimony.  Be a missionary now and later.   A scripture for your generation comes from the story of Esther.  She became the queen in a foreign country and with people not her own.  Under the tutelage of her Uncle Mordecai, she became the queen and saved her people from destruction.  Mordecai told her, “thou art come to the kingdom for such a time as this …” (Esther 4:14)  And like Esther, you have indeed been reserved to come forth at this great time to help prepare God’s children for the 2nd coming of Christ.  You are a part of “the chosen generation a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a peculiar people” (2 Peter 2:9) and you have a very special service to perform as a mother in these final days.

Elder Jeffrey R. Holland talked of mother.  He said (“Because She is a Mother”, Ensign, May 1997): “I wish to pay tribute to the modern counterparts of those pioneer mothers who watched after, prayed for, and far too often buried their babies on the long trail. … I … praise those motherly hands that have rocked the infant’s cradle and, through righteousness taught to their children there, are at the very center of the Lord’s purposes for us in mortality.”

“In speaking of mothers generally, I especially wish to praise and encourage young mothers.   The work of a mother is hard, too often unheralded work.  The young years are often those when either husband or wife – or both – may still be in school or in those earliest and leanest stages of developing the husband’s breadwinning capacities.  Finances fluctuate daily between low and nonexistent.   The apartment is usually decorated in one or two smart designs – Deseret Industries provincial or early Mother Hubbard.  The car, if there is one, runs on smooth tires and an empty tank.  But with night feedings and night teethings, often the greatest challenge of all for a young mother is simply fatigue.  Through these years, mothers go longer on less sleep and give more to others with less personal renewal for themselves than any other group I know at any other time in life.  It is not surprising when the shadows under their eyes vaguely resemble the state of Rhode Island.

“Do the best you can through these years, but whatever else you do, cherish that role that is so uniquely yours and for which heaven itself sends angels to watch over you and your little ones.  …  Mothers, we acknowledge and esteem your faith in every footstep.  Please know that it is worth it then, now, and forever. … Through the thick and the tin of this, and through the occasional tears of it all, know deep down inside [you] are doing God’s work [and] … that in [your] motherhood [you] are in an eternal partnership with Him.”

Quoting again, as did Larissa from Sister Julie B. Beck, former Relief Society General President:

“The responsibility mothers have today has never required more vigilance.  More than at any time in the history of the world, we need mothers who know.  … Mothers need not fear.  When mothers know who they are and who God is and have made covenants with Him, they will have great power and influence for good on their children.

“In the culture of the gospel we still believe in having children.  Prophets, seers, and revelators who were sustained at this conference have declared that “God’s commandment for His children to multiply and replenish the earth remains in force.”  President Ezra Taft Benson taught that young couples should not postpone having children and that “in the eternal perspective, children – not possessions, not position, not prestige – are our greatest jewels.”

My own mother willingly received all children who came to her.  She often said that with each new child came increased resources and capabilities to take care of them.  Our family was greatly blessed because our parents brought children – seven of us – into the world.  So, young couples, invite as many as you can to your home.

Jackie was our oldest child.  She was in a secure position.  We have a wall of our home that has various family photos – mainly taken when we added another child to the family.  Larissa once looked at that wall and said, “That’s not fair!  How come Jackie is in every picture and I am only in one?” 

Don’t postpone having children as you wait for “your ship to come in”.  If you spend all your time waiting for your ship to come in, you may sit at the beach for a very long time.  You may see some beautiful sunsets, but you will miss much of the joy and happiness of life.  If you wait to have children until you can afford them, you probably won’t have any.

Fabriza, what would have happened if the Hunt family had quit with just four children.  And Mike, what would have happened for you if the Hunt family had quit at six children.  And Larissa, where would you be if we had quit after eight!  We trusted in the Lord and He has forever taken care of us!

Again, quoting from Sister Beck,

“Mothers who know are nurturers.  This is their special assignment and role under the plan of happiness.  To nurture means to cultivate, care for, and make grow.  Therefore, others who know create a climate for spiritual and temporal growth in their homes.  Another word for nurturing is homemaking.  Homemaking includes cooking, washing clothes and dishes, and keeping an orderly home.  Home is where women have the most power and influence; therefore, Latter-day Saint women should be the best homemakers in the world.  Working beside children in homemaking tasks creates opportunities to teach and model qualities children should emulate.”

Sister Beck continues: [And] “Think of the power of our future missionary force if mothers considered their homes as a pre-missionary training center.  Then the doctrines of the gospel taught in the MTC would be a review and not a revelation.  That is influence; that is power.”

Elder M. Russell Ballard recently spoke to women – wives and mothers. (LDS General Conference, April 2008)  This came after he gave a similar talk to men of the Priesthood.  He said, “As you might expect, my 5 daughters, 24 granddaughters and ever-increasing numbers of great-granddaughters have been asking for equal time. …

“And so, my dear young women, with all my heart I urge you not to look to contemporary culture for your role models and mentors.  Please look to your faithful mothers for a pattern to follow.  Model yourselves after them, not after celebrities whose standards are not the Lord’s standards and whose values may not reflect an eternal perspective.  Look to your mother.  Learn from her strengths, her courage, and her faithfulness.  Listen to her.  She may not be a whiz at texting; she may not even have a Facebook page.  But, when it comes to matters of the heart and the things of the Lord, she has a wealth of knowledge.  As you approach the time for marriage and young motherhood, she will be your greatest source of wisdom.  No other person on earth loves you in the same way or is willing to sacrifice as much to encourage you and help you find happiness – in this life and forever. … Teach your daughters to find joy in nurturing children.  This is where their love and talents can have the greatest eternal significance.”

Let us all be grateful for the generations of mothers who have influenced our lives.  Mothers, of all generations, we thank you!  Keep doing and being mothers, grandmothers, and great grandmothers.  I am thankful for the generations of mothers in my own life and all that they have given to me.  I have a testimony of their power and influence.

In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

Time ran out – but if I had had time, I would have shared material from my talk given in 2006 at the missionary farewell of Rusty – entitled, “Raising a Righteous Family.”

  1. Commit yourselves and the whole family to the Lord.
  2. Build upon a foundation of family traditions (including Sabbath, missions, general conference, and more)
  3. Set goals for the family (Achievement, obedience, commitment)
  4. Plan for a big family
  5. Keep mom at home with the children.
  6. Don’t have a television.  Do other fun things together.
  7. Read together.
  8. Pay a full tithe and generous fast offerings.
  9. Do the basics religiously and regularly.
  10. Be a part of all activities of each other.
  11. Parents and siblings unite in personal example.
  12. Talk often of missions and Temple marriage.
  13. Trust in the Lord
  14. Record events and blessings

 [And a 2021 update:  Those nine children of ours have all married.  And with the pending birth of three new grandchildren, the new total will be 41 – and the total family group will have grown to 61!  It is kind of mind-boggling, but so wonderful!  We just keep welcoming each new one as they come.]

ANNOUNCING PUBLICATION OF “THE IMMORTAL DEAN HUNT” 65TH BIRTHDAY COMMEMORATIVE EDITION

A couple of months ago, I posted a blog for my brother, Russel “Dean” Hunt in celebration of his 65th birthday on March 14, 2021. In that blog article, located here, https://kevinthescout.wordpress.com/2021/03/14/remembering-the-immortal-dean-hunt-on-his-65th-birthday/ I announced a forthcoming publication of a book to honor and celebrate his 65th birthday. I am pleased now to announce that the book has been published and is now available for purchase on Lulu.com

The 333 Page hardback book, titled, “The Immortal Dean Hunt” sells for $30 and is now available at this site:

The book is also available as an E-File book (Cost of $12.00) at this site:

https://www.lulu.com/account/projects/8d2y8e

Book Description:

ABOUT DEAN …  Dean was a dynamic youth leader with VISION … He had a vision for himself and what he wanted to accomplish and the ability to lift everyone around him with new vision.  He had a charismatic energy for life.  He shared that enthusiasm with everyone.  He died of cancer the week before his 17th birthday but his faith and spirit live on.  Even fifty years later, he still continues to inspire others.  The 333-page book honors Dean on his 65th Birthday.  A few years ago, a condensed book about Dean was published and was enjoyed by many people who knew Dean. This new version is greatly expanded. It contains many photo pages, his life story, his goals and ambitions, awards and certificates, his literary works, and a narrative about his cancer experience.  The book contains Dean’s own journal IN HIS OWN WORDS, tributes to Dean from many family members and friends – and much more.

I hope that you will obtain and enjoy the book about the Immortal Dean. Dean lives on … May his spirit continue to inspire you …

Kevin V. Hunt (Brother to Dean)

Kevin the Scout Blogger

Full Hands, Full Pockets

A growing family's journey to financial independence through experiments in extreme frugality, homesteading, real estate investing, and side hustling.

KevintheScout

Kevin the Scout Blogger

Full Hands, Full Pockets

A growing family's journey to financial independence through experiments in extreme frugality, homesteading, real estate investing, and side hustling.

KevintheScout

Kevin the Scout Blogger

Missionary in Training

Missionary Training Program for home and family

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