“to be held in remembrance”

2017-5-20 Stake Conf The Dalles (1)

This afternoon we attended a Stake Conference in The Dalles for Stake.  During the 4:00 Priesthood Leadership Meeting, I sat in the foyer, preparing my talk for the evening session.  I couldn’t help but notice a grandma near me writing in what looked like a journal.

The talk I was preparing was on Family history and preserving our family stories, so I watched this lovely lady intently as she wrote, and smiled and wrote more.  I loved what I was seeing.  After the meeting ended, I introduced myself and made a new friend–Harriett Madden, grandma to a lucky 23-year-old granddaughter who will receive this book– this perfect gift for her birthday in a few months.

We had a delightful visit about what she was writing and sharing, her stories.  What I watched reminded me of 3 scriptures I’ve been thinking about:

D&C 127:9 talks about records and how things like histories, stories and testimonies should be “held in remembrance from generation to generation.”  What does it mean to be held in remembrance?  If it’s not recorded, it won’t be remembered.

2 Nephi 25:22 also talks about records and says “these things shall go from generation to generation, as Nephi describes what and why we should write.  In verse 26 he says that we write “that our children may know.”  How will they know if we don’t record our experiences?

In Jacob 4:2-3, Jacob writes (about 500 BC):

1 Now behold, it came to pass that I, Jacob, having ministered much unto my people in word, (and I cannot write but a little of my words, because of the difficulty of engraving our words upon plates) and we know that the things which we write upon plates must remain;

2 But whatsoever things we write upon anything save it be upon plates must perish and vanish away; but we can write a few words upon plates, which will give our children, and also our beloved brethren, a small degree of knowledge concerning us, or concerning their fathers—

3 Now in this thing we do rejoice; and we labor diligently to engraven these words upon plates, hoping that our beloved brethren and our children will receive them with thankful hearts, and look upon them that they may learn with joy and not with sorrow, neither with contempt, concerning their first parents.

4 For, for this intent have we written these things, that they may know that we knew of Christ, and we had a hope of his glory many hundred years before his coming; and not only we ourselves had a hope of his glory, but also all the holy prophets which were before us.

I loved watching Sister Madden as I thought about the reasons we write and record.

2017-5-20 Stake Conf The Dalles (4)

These things remind me of my 20 November 2013 post:



Posted in Family History, Thoughts and Insights | Leave a comment

The Calf Path by Sam Walter Foss

Calf Path

One day through the primeval wood
A calf walked home, as good calves should,
But made a trail all bent askew,
A crooked trail, as all calves do.

Since then three hundred years have fled,
And I infer, the calf is dead;
But still behind he left this trail,
And thereon hangs my moral tale.

The trail was taken up next day
By a lone dog that passed that way,
And then a wise bell-weather sheep
Pursued that trail o’er dale and steep,
And drew the flock behind him, too,
As good bell-weathers always do.

And from that day o’er hill and glade
Through those old woods a path was made.
And many men wound in and out,
And dodged and turned and bent about,
And uttered words of righteous wrath
Because ‘twas such a crooked path;
But still they follow–do not laugh–
The first migrations of that calf,
And through this winding wood-way stalked,
Because he wobbled when he walked.

The forest became a lane
That bent and turned and turned again;
This crooked lane became a road
Where many a poor horse with his load
Toiled on beneath that burning sun,
And traveled some three miles in one.

The years passed on in swiftness fleet,
The village road became a street,
And this, before men were aware,
A city’s crowded thoroughfare.
And soon a central street was this
In a renowned metropolis;
And men two centuries and a half
Followed the wanderings of this calf.

Each day a hundred thousand rout
Followed this zigzag calf about;
And o’er his crooked journey went
The traffic of a continent.
A hundred thousand men were led
By one poor calf, three centuries dead.
They followed still his crooked way,
And lost one hundred years a day;
For just such reverence is lent
To well established precedent.

A moral lesson this might teach
Were I ordained and called to preach;
For men are prone to go it blind
Along the calf paths of the mind,
And work away from sun to sun
To do what other men have done.
They follow in the beaten track,
And in and out, and forth and back,
And still their devious paths pursue,
To keep the paths that others do.

But how the wise old wood-gods laugh,
Who saw the first primeval calf!
Ah! many things this tale might teach —
But I am not ordained to preach.

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Ann Laemmlen and Mary Ellen Edmunds in Nigeria: Our report to headquarters 27 October 1984

2017-05-18_221335From 1984-1987 I lived in Eket, Nigeria.  Mary Ellen Edmunds and I were sent to direct a child health project for the Thrasher Research Fund in Salt Lake City.  I recently found this report we sent to headquarters not long after we first arrived there.

We lived in The Palace, mostly without electricity or running water.  We helped build our furniture and we killed lots of cockroaches.  It was a grand adventure!  This letter gives a fun taste of establishing ourselves in an African village.2Nig174

1984-10-27 Eket to SLC Letter 1

The Palace:Nig077

The generator house:2Nig114

1984-10-27 Eket to SLC Letter 2


The local markets:Nig041Nig038Nig039

1984-10-27 Eket to SLC Letter 32Nig177

Collected rain water::Nig084

1984-10-27 Eket to SLC Letter 42Nig104

Furnishing The PalaceNig0652Nig1072Nig1342Nig105

Film canisters filled with spices, and a few things we brought from home:2Nig095

We had to filter, boil and chlorinate our water and soak all of our local fruit and produce in a chlorine solution.

1984-10-27 Eket to SLC Letter 5

2Nig119  Cockroach has wings

Dedication of the chapel in Aba.  This was the first building built to be an LDS Church in the whole Cross River State area.  Now there is a temple there.2Nig2902Nig325.jpg17097945_10210905722353402_2298671528927089642_o.jpg2Nig458

1984-10-27 Eket to SLC Letter 6Killing bugs:


Eket Branch meeting in Samuel and Cecilia’s home:Nig0961984-10-27 Eket to SLC Letter 7Baptisms:2Nig304

On this day, more than 60 people were baptized.  You can see the 3 baptismal sites below:2Nig310Some of the men were confirmed, and received the Priesthood so they could baptize their family members.2Nig3132Nig321

Dinner with the Tretheways and Madsens:2Nig253

1984-10-27 Eket to SLC Letter 8Cecilia working in the garden planting waterleaf:Nig025

Our front yard with my pineapple crop:2Nig361Grass grew non-stop in my pineapple garden:Nig078Chief’s wife, Ama Imeh helping in our garden:Nig079Wandering Bob “mowing the lawn”Nig080Our garden, before and after–ground nuts, waterleaf, potatoes, beans:2Nig092

2Nig179   2Nig1362Nig096Nig0812Nig097  2Nig140

What our rice looks like before cleaning it.  Yes, those are bugs.  Yes we ate it all.2Nig151

This sweet child is Doraty.  She was 9 years old and weighed 23 lbs.  We called her “broomstick” because her arms and legs were no larger.  Her little belly was filled with roundworms living on whatever little food she received.  2Nig166

Here is Doraty’s family, the Bassey Udoeyos.  They were our dear friends and neighbors. Sister Helen, the mom had 9 children.  They lived on what they could produce.2Nig1702Nig465

We gave the children worm medicine to kill the worms in their bellies.  Here is Esther, Doraty’s sister with the worms she passed the next morning:2Nig330

Helen named her 9th child after me:  Ann Bassey Davies Udoeyo:2Nig2672Nig4612Nig417

Samuel and Cecilia and their family, our neighbors, mentors and dear friends:2Nig2282Nig2352Nig462

Eket Branch members at our new meeting place:2Nig2992Nig4312Nig467

I served as the Relief Society President in this dear Branch.2Nig2872Nig2812Nig456

Fetching water–the children bathe, wash laundry and gather drinking water all in the same place.  No wonder the children are so often weak and sick.Nig0582Nig1912Nig199

We taught and trained 100s of men and women to be Village Health Workers during the next 3 years, working in more than 25 villages.  Here are a few of these good friends.  I hope their lives were better because we were there.2Nig3372Nig3402Nig3492Nig3482Nig377Branch members participated too:2Nig3442Nig3452Nig3472Nig167

A big part of my heart will always be here, in Eket with these dear friends and with Mary Ellen, who taught me to love more than I’d ever loved before.

Posted in Family History, Humanitarian Work | 3 Comments

Happy Mother’s Day!

Photo0320Thinking of my mom today, on Mother’s Day.

Here is an essay I happened across this week that speaks to my heart in many ways.  Not all of us had perfect mothers or perfect relationships.  We all struggle.  My mom struggled.  But so do I.  “We don’t just love people for their strengths. We love them for their struggles. I suppose the lesson is in learning to trust that God trusts us. Flaws and all.”

I’m Celebrating Mother’s Day Differently This Year
PUBLISHED ON May 13, 2017
by Toni Sorenson

I must love and trust you all because I’m sharing something that’s sacred to me: a portrait of my mother. It is, after all, that time of year to honor those who gave us birth and those who’ve given us life. (think about that for a sec, will ya?) I’ve always loathed Mother’s Day because I leave church as wilted as the little pink geranium passed out to the mothers in the congregation. I never measure up to the standard preached from the pulpit. I never will.

This year I’m in a mind to turn the whole thing upside down. Mother’s Day is no longer about my kids honoring me. It’s about honoring the women who have mothered me. They are legion. My own mother was my world when I was growing up. She was an alcoholic, so my childhood was mapped with all kinds of experiences: good and anything but good. Mom was gone long before I became a teenager, leaving me an orphan, someone in dire need of mothering.

John Updike believed, “It’s easy to love people in memory; the hard thing is to love them when they are in front of you.” I spent most of my life assuring myself Mom was a wonderful mother because to say anything less would be disloyal to her memory. But then I went to therapy. That’s where I learned I could still be loyal, still love Mom, and still tell the truth. That’s when I saw my mother as something more than a woman who had given birth. She was a woman with a past, a woman with dreams that came true and disappointments that devastated her. She had relationships. She had talents. She had secrets and desires. She had addictions and she had breakthroughs. My mother’s wild side led her to a long-term friendship with Judy Garland, a fur coat from Howard Hughes, and plunge from the top of a building.

Being able to admit that Mom wasn’t anywhere near perfect brought me blissful freedom. If I could love her—flaws and all—I could love my very imperfect self. That set me free to love others, and to celebrate the phenomenal mothers my daughters have become.

We don’t just love people for their strengths. We love them for their struggles. I suppose the lesson is in learning to trust that God trusts us. Flaws and all.

That means this Mother’s Day I’m celebrating unconventionally. I honor women who have never even given birth, but still they’ve mothered brilliantly. I honor the mothers who cry real tears, not over the messes they’ve had to clean up, but over the messes they’ve made for others to clean up. I honor the bruised, broken, battle-scarred women who are still in the fight. I honor the ones with the guts to present themselves genuinely. I honor those who sew and bake from the home front and those who march on the front lines. I honor those with stellar faith and those who admit God is foreign to them. I honor all their shapes and sizes. I dance in happy circles at the rainbow of their cultures and varying skin colors. Oh, how blessed am to be encircled by so many different women who mother.

This year let’s focus on miracles instead of mistakes. Let’s lavish love. Forgiveness. Joy. Let’s let go of the judgment and the self-criticism and simply celebrate that we’re partners with the Giver of life. That puts us, not on a pedestal where we can fall, but at an elevation where we can see clearly: we’re all in this together doing our best.

My friends, I love you. I love you because you try. I love you because you dare. I love you because you give it all you’ve got. I’m thinking of my friend whose child is incarcerated. I’m thinking of my friend who sings lullabies to the world’s babies. I’m thinking of my friend whose only daughter died this month, and another whose son is in his last days of cancer. I’m thinking of my friend whose child hasn’t spoken to her in a year. I’m thinking of my friend who desperately wants to bear a child, but can’t. I’m thinking of aunties, grandmothers, and an abundance of friends. I’m missing my own Mom. A lot. Maybe because I’ve matured enough to ache for a sit-down with her to discover who she really was: “How’d you get that scar? Why are you scared of the dark? What’s life like from your viewpoint, Mom?”

If you’re blessed to still have your mom available, please get curious about who she is as a person, not just a mom. Get to know her and to appreciate her for more than the resources she offers.

No judgment, no justifying, just loving. Celebrate those people who’ve managed to love you when you weren’t so easy to love. And do me a favor…please release the stranglehold you’ve held on your own throat. Inhale. Exhale. There. That’s better.

Now have a safe, memorable, peaceful weekend, celebrating love. Isn’t that what this day’s really all about?


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Moving Day

Moving Day

It’s beginning.  My peeps are beginning to fly.  Today Claire and Graham drove away from our Orem home in a U-Haul filled with everything they own.  They are moving to Rock Springs, Wyoming, where they will begin living their own lives away from ours.

Every time I see a moving van or truck, I get emotional and think of this song by our favorite Story Teller, Bill Harley.  I haven’t moved many times in my life.  I grew up on a farm.  Farmers don’t move.  But I moved to college.  I moved to Israel.  I moved to South Africa.  I moved to Nigeria and then Salt Lake, and then Orem, with quite a few apartment moves in between.  Then two years ago we moved to Washington.  Leaving a place is always hard for someone like me.  I love the history of places and the memories those places hold.  It’s hard for me to move away from those memories.   I like keeping memories close.  I suppose that’s one of the reasons why I write.

This tender children’s song captures the emotion of Moving Day perfectly.

Moving Day
©Bill Harley, All rights reserved

Listen to it here.  Makes me cry every time.


Car’s full,
Trunks packed –
Stuff on the roof rack.
Mom says
We leave soon.
Last time
In my room.
One last look out my window –
The yard, the street,
the place I know.
I go, they stay –
It’s moving day.

Here’s where
My bed stood.
Floors made
Of old wood.
Mom left
The light on
Walls marked
With crayon.
The door I slammed when I was mad.
The place I cried when I was sad.
I go, they stay
It’s moving day.

When I grow up, I might come back
To this place again.
If I find some kids live here
I’ll tell them who I am.

“Let’s go,” Dad calls
I guess that’s all
Goodbye house,
Goodbye room
I won’t be back soon
Down the steps,
Out the front door
Now I don’t live here
Part of my heart stays
On moving day.

Posted in Lewis Family | 2 Comments

Orem Home Connects Two Families, Multiple Generations

This article by Karissa Neely was in the The Provo Daily Herald this week, featuring the Farm House in our back yard.  We lovingly call this home our portal to heaven home. Several family members departed from our family here, to join family members in The Next Place.  There is a powerful sense of family here, for us and for our children, and for generations of family who lived here before we came.

This article tells a bit about this pioneer home, we all love.

2017-5 Farm House History (1)Jean M. Larsen, left, and Helen Blake, center, stand with Adam and Heidi Lewis in front of the James Edgar Booth home in Orem on Wednesday, May 3, 2017. Blake and Larsen are descendants of Booth, who owned the home for 90 years. The Lewis family owns the home now.2017-5 Farm House History (6)

In society today, people are very migratory, moving from home to home without truly setting down roots. But many of us — no matter how many times we’ve changed addresses — still remember that one house that was more than four walls, that one place that was truly a home.

For Helen Blake, the farmhouse at 468 S. Main St. in Orem is that home. Though she now lives in the Courtyard at Jamestown Assisted Living in Provo, her heart will always live within those red brick walls in Orem. For her sister, Jean M. Larsen, and many others, the feeling is the same. Larsen said there were so many happy times there that sometimes it’s hard to drive by the home now — she’s hit with such a sense of nostalgia.
The Orem farmhouse was built in 1894 by George Clinger, who grew fruit trees on the land. After his death in 1902, the home was left vacant. Long before tall buildings obstructed the view of the mountains, and cars cruised constantly up and down State Street, James Edgar Booth and his wife, Charlotte Booth, bought the home and its 30-acre farm in 1903 at a tax auction for $3,900.

According to Blake’s written history of the home, when James Booth bought the home, he also obtained some additional property: “two horses, wagon and harness, one mower, two harrows, two plows, one hayfork and cable, two hogs, eleven stands of bees, one spray pump, one wheelbarrow, one buggy (and) one cow.”

Though less than 10 years old at the time, the home was in need of many renovations and repairs, all of which Booth did, in order to prepare the home for his wife and daughter Lorna.

“Joseph Booth was a successful sheepherder in Nephi, but his wife wanted to settle down and not have him gone so much,” Blake said.

The Booths are Larsen and Blake’s grandparents, and both lived at the home for a time during the 90 years it was owned by the Booths and their descendants. Ultimately, three Booth generations called the farmhouse home, with additions and remodels throughout the years to accommodate their needs. According to Blake’s history of the farmhouse, a cellar was dug in the 1930s under the kitchen — all by hand.

“Using picks and shovels, the men and boys of the family loaded the rocks and dirt into the horse-drawn ‘fresno’ (a type of farm soil scraper) which was then hauled to the field and dumped,” Blake wrote.

James Booth died long before his wife Charlotte, who lived in the home until her death in 1972 — under the watchful care of family members for many of those later years. Joseph and Charlotte Booth had three children, and those children also had three children, so the nine cousins became very close because of days spent on the farm. Blake remembers the home as the gathering place of her family.

“For Christmas, we were all together there, birthdays were always celebrated there. And everyone expected to be involved with everything there — the hay hauling, strawberry and raspberry picking and peach picking and processing,” Blake remembers. “It was a place of many, many happy memories.”

Because of the bonds made in those walls, she and Larsen regularly get together with their cousins — all of whom are still alive.

“The cousins grew up together — we always had Sunday dinners here, so we bonded so much. We’re still close,” Larsen said.

“We have just as much fun now when we get together,” Blake chimed in.

“A lot of that fun is reminiscing about things that happened here,” Larsen said, looking around the front room of the home.

But as the families aged, the home aged as well. After selling off much of the original 30 acres over the decades, and 90 years of struggles and successes, the Booth family decided to sell the home in 1993 to the John and Ann Lewis family. It was a hard choice that needed to be made, Blake said, but it was made easier because of the Lewis family.
“Knowing it’s important to the Lewis family, made it easier,” Blake said.

Though the families did not know each other previously, Blake could tell the Lewis family loved it just as much. According to their son Adam Lewis, John and Ann Lewis loved the home and its property. They first built their own home just south of the old farmhouse, and then set about remodeling the 100-year old home — one of the oldest still standing in Orem.

“They passed by it, and thought it was beautiful. They wanted to refurbish it,” said son Adam Lewis, who has lived in the remodeled farmhouse since 2014. John and Ann are currently mission presidents for the LDS Church in Yakima, Washington.

Adam’s parents were scrupulous in their attention to historic detail, while also modernizing the home. Blake and Larsen love visiting, because many of the woodwork and inside features remind them of their childhood. In fact, when the Lewis family added a small bathhouse on the property, they mimicked the slope and style of the old farmhouse, so it looks like it’s been there the whole time.

Because of the shared love of one 123-year-old Orem farmhouse, two different families have become friends. Just a few years ago, the Lewis family opened the home to 200 of the Booth descendants so they could celebrate a Booth family reunion there. What was once a place of three generations of Booth memories, is now a place of two generations of Lewis memories.

As Blake and Larsen sat in the front room of the home Wednesday with Adam and his wife, Heidi, Larsen remembered when she was a girl, she felt like the farmhouse one of the largest in the neighborhood at the time.

“But as I sit here, I think this isn’t so big,” she laughed.

For Adam and Heidi, who have only been married for three years, and have one young son, the home is more than they need, but they are grateful to live there.

“Knowing it’s important to both families, we want to take extra special care of it,” Heidi Lewis said. “We feel lucky to make memories in this home that already has so many memories.”

*   *   *   *   *

Helen Blake gestures while sharing a memory of the Booth home in Orem. Blake lived in the home, which was owned by the Booth family for 90 years.2017-5 Farm House History (2)

Copies of photographs of Charlotte and James Edgar Booth, owners of this 123-year-old farmhouse.2017-5 Farm House History (4)Copy of a photograph in Helen Blake’s written history of the James Edgar Booth home.
Many of Booth’s children and grandchildren posed for their wedding photos by this staircase.2017-5 Farm House History (9)

Jean M. Larsen, left, and Helen Blake pose for a portrait on Wednesday, May 3, 2017, by the same staircase they posed by for their own bridal pictures decades earlier. The staircase had been shortened during a modern remodel.2017-5 Farm House History (7)2017-5 Farm House History (8)2017-5 Farm House History (10)

Jean M. Larsen, center left, and Helen Blake, center right, stand with Adam and Heidi Lewis near an original fireplace in the James Edgar Booth home in Orem May 3, 2017. Blake and Larsen are descendants of Booth, who owned the home for 90 years. The Lewis family owns the home now.
2017-5 Farm House History (3)

You can read more about this home and the stories the walls contain here:



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Our BYU Graduates!

2017-4-28 BYU Graduation (3)Adam, Claire and Graham graduated from BYU this week.  While we were sitting in our Mission President’s Seminar in Los Angeles, they were receiving their diplomas in Provo. It was a great day in our family.

Here are a few photos they sent to us:2017-4-28 BYU Graduation (1)Claire and Graham with Pres and Sis Worthen, BYU President.

2017-4-28 BYU Graduation (2)Adam with Heidi and Clark.  Adam’s degree is in Bio Technology and Genetics.2017-4-28 BYU Graduation (4)

Claire and Graham with Graham’s parents, Mary Ellen and Randy Johnson2017-4-28 BYU Graduation (5)2017-4-28 BYU Graduation (6)Claire received her degree in Public Health with an emphasis in Epidemiology, with a minor in Statistics and a minor in Art.2017-4-28 BYU Graduation (7)Graham received his degree in Chemical Engineering.2017-4-28 BYU Graduation (8)2017-4-28 BYU Graduation (9)And for now, school’s out!!  Adam and his family will be heading to Kansas City University in Missouri for medical school.  Claire and Graham will be heading to Rock Springs, Wyoming, where Graham got a great job with Halliburton, a huge oil field service company.  He’s thrilled.

Now the next adventures begin!

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