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Trips, Vacations, and Youth Conferences

Nearly every year, our family took a vacation. Not only did this give us a chance to see much of the country, but also to grow together as a family as we experienced new things together.


1983, February 8–March 1. I traveled to Africa on a work trip for the Translation Division. On the way there, I stopped in Rome. I went to Kenya, to meet with translators and missionary couples there about Swahili and Kisii. I then flew to Johannesburg, South Africa, to coordinate Afrikaans translations. I went to Soweto to coordinate Sotho South translators. I then flew to the coastal town of Durban to meet with the Xhosa and Zulu translators. I also took photographs of members to be used in the missionary flipcharts. I then flew to Harare, Zimbabwe (formerly called Rhodesia until 1980 when a black government was elected and the name of the country was changed to Zimbabwe), to meet with Shona translators. On the return trip, I spent two days in London. I then spent a day or two in New York City. (See more details about the trip in the chapter “Church Employee.”)


2007, May. I went to Banff, Canada, for the 16th International World Wide Web Conference at the Banff Springs Hotel. I attended the conference with Ron Schwendiman and a few other Church employees.

2007, July 11–25. Our family took a two-week trip to eastern Canada to tour Jason’s mission. We flew to Maine, then drove 2,300 miles up the eastern seaboard, through New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, and Newfoundland.


2005, October. Bahamas

2010. Larry, Teri, Don, Merle, Hailee, and her friend Katie Hess.

2012. Caribbean

2019, May. Caribbean

2024, April. Caribbean with the Christiansens.


2001, October 27–November 7. At the beginning of a work trip to Europe, Ron Schwendiman and I spent a few days in Bern, Switzerland. Ron’s father Gary L. Schwendiman was the president of the Swiss Temple and we stayed at their house in Switzerland behind the temple. I went to a temple session in French, I listened with earphones in Spanish, the men at the veil spoke in German, and I responded in English. How was that for a multilingual session!

We also visited the Nazi concentration camp in Buchenwald, near Weimar, Germany. It was one of the first and the largest of the concentration camps within Germany’s 1937 borders. Prisoners came from all over Europe and the Soviet Union—Jews, Poles and other Slavs, the mentally ill and physically disabled, political prisoners, Romani people, gays, Freemasons, prisoners of war, and ordinary criminals. The prisoners worked as forced labor in local armaments factories. The insufficient food and poor conditions, as well as deliberate executions, led to 56,545 deaths at Buchenwald of the 280,000 prisoners who passed through the camp and its 139 subcamps. The camp gained notoriety when it was liberated by the United States Army in April 1945 at the end of World War II. General Dwight Eisenhower, Supreme Commander of the Allied Forces, visited one of its subcamps. He ordered all possible photographs to be taken, and for the German people from surrounding villages to be ushered through the camps and even made to bury the dead. He did this because he said in words to this effect: “Get it all on record now. Get the films. Get the witnesses. Because somewhere down the road of history some bastard will get up and say that this never happened.” We see that today, as the president of Iran and others publicly claim that the Holocaust never happened.

Today, the remains of Buchenwald serve as a permanent memorial, exhibition, and museum. I walked through the buildings, stood in the gas chambers, and spent time contemplating in the execution yard. I stood before the wall where 1,100 people were strung up by their necks to thrash about until they were dead. The youngest person to be killed this way was an eight-year-old boy. I then walked through the crematorium and saw the tables where the teeth were pulled from the dead and the hair cut off to sell before the bodies were cremated. And this was still happening up until ten years before I was born. (See Remembering the Holocaust.)

On the way to Buchenwald, we drove through the Black Forest, and I bought a cuckoo clock. (For more detail on the trip, see the chapter “Church Employee.”)

2006, May 22–26. I attended the 15th International World Wide Web www2006 Conference in Edinburgh, Scotland.

2015. Teri and I took a European tour to Italy, France, and Spain.

2021, October 17–27. Teri and I took Hailee and Chance to Greece. It was a guided tour, with five days with a tour guide to learn about the major historical sites, then four days on our own on two islands to relax and enjoy.

We visited the Acropolis with the Greek temple of the Parthenon, which was dedicated to the goddess Athena, whom the people of Athens consider their patron. The Acropolis also includes the gateway Propylaea, the temple of Athena Nike (built in 420 B.C.), and the temple of Erechtheion (dedicated to both Athena and Poseidon). We had a delightful stayed at the Zafolia Hotel.

We took a bus to Delphi, the center of the Ancient World (the navel of the earth), to visit the sanctuary Delphi, which was for many centuries the cultural and religious center. It was the seat of the Pythian Games, the second most important game in Greece after the Olympics. The sanctuary includes the legendary temple of Zeus, the treasury of the Sifnians, the Sphinx of Naxos, and the famous bronze Charioteer.

We drove to Meteora and had a marvelous night view of the sheer rock cliffs that encircled the city. We stayed at the beautiful Grand Meteora Hotel with a balcony view of the cliffs. The next morning, we drove up the mountains to see the monasteries atop the rock formations.

We drove back to Athens for a ferry trip to the island of Mykonos where we spent two days relaxing on the beach near our Hotel Petinos and shopping in the quaint town of Mykonos.

We took a ferry to the island of Santorini and rented a car to explore the island and see the blue-roofed houses and sunsets. We stayed at the beautiful El Greco hotel.

2021, December 1–2. Teri and I took Jamie and Robert to Iceland. Seeing the northern lights was on Jamie’s bucket list. The lights aren’t visible every night, but we were lucky enough to see them from a boat out in the harbor! We took a day tour of the Golden Circle, including (1) the Thingvellir National Park at Althing, where the Vikings held one of the world’s oldest parliaments and where the American and Eurasian tectonic plates are pulling apart above ground, (2) and the Geysir geothermal area where we saw the Strokkur geyser, and the Gullfoss waterfall, where runoff from the Hvítá glacial river drops over two levels into a canyon.

We went to the Sky Lagoon for a seven-step spa ritual in geothermal hot pools. We drove to the town of Vik for the Icelandic Lava Show where we saw real flowing lava up close. We took a super jeep from the Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon and hiked to the Crystal Blue Ice Cave where we went inside a glacier to see the crystal blue ice and a flowing river. It was an amazing trip!

Latin America

1978, Summer. I spent the summer in Guatemala with BYU professors and linguists to compile dictionaries of Mayan languages. In June, we went to Tikal, Belize, and Isla Mujeres. I then returned to Guatemala for more translation projects and linguistics studies. See the section “Dictionary Project 1978” for more details.

1981, December 15–23. Jason Nielsen and I took a trip to Cancun, Mexico. We spent a week basking in 80-degree sunny weather. We got as good a tan as one week would allow. We stayed on Isla Mujeres. It was my fourth time there. (The first was with the dictionary guys in June 1978, the second was with Greg Martin on the Eastern Airlines unlimited mileage trip in April–May 1979, and the third was with Bryan flake on another Eastern Airlines unlimited mileage trip in April–May 1980.)

We spent all but one day on the island snorkeling, swimming, or laying on the beach. One day was cloudy, so we went over to Cancun to shop. Two days were spent snorkeling at Garrafón. One day, I found a 100-peso bill floating in the water, which almost paid for the face mask I lost earlier that day. I think Jason enjoyed himself. It was the first time he had been to Mexico, and he’s a beach lover at heart. We returned on December 23 to several inches of snow in Salt Lake.

In Boise at Christmas, Tonya married Tom Fackrell. The wedding and reception were at the stake center. It was on short notice. Tonya only gave Mom 10 days’ notice.

1982, August 30 to September 13. I traveled to Latin America on a Church trip through all the areas where I supervised translation work, except Peru and the South Pacific. I went to Paraguay, Bolivia, Ecuador, Panamá, Guatemala, Mexico, and Haiti. (Read more detail about this trip in the “Church Employee” chapter.)

1982, October. Travel to Mexico and Puerto Rico with Teri

1984, May 7–24. I took a three-week work trip through Latin America for International Publications, then part of the Translation Division. I traveled to Peru, Ecuador, Colombia, Costa Rica, and Guatemala to coordinate the printing and distribution of Spanish materials that are translated and prepared in Salt Lake. We were able to identify many ways to increase the quality of work, decrease already reasonable costs, and improve service. We consolidated and shifted the printing of Spanish hardbound books, which saved the Church over $150,000 a year. While in Guatemala, I was able to attend a district conference in Patzicía and see many people I know and love from the Cakchiquel area. I noted good progress since I was last there four years previously. (Read more detail about this trip in the “Church Employee” chapter.)

1985, December 3–7. I traveled to Bogota, Colombia for Publications Coordination to make final arrangements for the printing of Spanish hardbound books. We found a way to use bulk mailing rates for the Church magazine, saving over $100,000 a year. (Read more detail about this trip in the “Church Employee” chapter.

1989. Teri and I took a trip to Cancun and Isla Mujeres.

1990, January 18–February 7. I traveled through Latin America for the Curriculum Department. I traveled with my managing director, Ronald Knighton, to evaluate the use of the curriculum materials and to review procedures relating to translation, production, printing, and distribution of printed and audiovisual materials. We met with the Area Presidencies, DTAs, materials management managers, translation supervisors, and distribution center supervisors. We visited the presses that printed materials and the audiovisual vendors who produced and duplicated videos. We also met with groups of Church leaders and teachers to discuss curriculum materials and receive their suggestions on how to improve them. We also visited many members in their homes. We visited eight countries in sixteen days. It was a grueling trip, with most days beginning before 7:00 a.m. and lasting until after 10:00 p.m. But it was also very rewarding. We got a lot of good feedback on how to improve the curriculum materials, and we were able to build relationships and find ways to coordinate our work more efficiently with the Church employees.

We traveled to Mexico, Guatemala, Colombia, Ecuador, Chile, Argentina, Paraguay, and Brazil. In Colombia and Paraguay, we set up procedures for printing major Spanish books for all Latin America. Paraguay was then printing almost all the Spanish copies of the Book of Mormon and the Doctrine and Covenants/Pearl of Great Price, as well as many of the standard hardbound books. Colombia printed the hardbound books the previous year and would be printing the Triple Combination that year. In 1989, we estimated that we had saved the Church over one million dollars by doing this printing in Paraguay.

At the end of the trip, I flew through New York and took a side trip to Washington, D.C. for two days to see Jeff. It was good to spend some time with him and Don. They were just getting settled in their new house in Arlington, Virginia.

1991, August 26–September 2. Teri and I traveled to Guatemala. We stayed with David and Nancy Frischknecht, while they served as president of the Guatemala City North Mission.

1993, March 18–28. I traveled to Guatemala and Colombia for Scriptures and Production Coordination. In Colombia, I attended a four-day training seminar for Materials Management personnel from the South America North area. I also stopped in Guatemala for a day to coordinate the printing of materials and to train employees at the distribution center. See the chapter “Church Employee” for more detail.

1999, July 4–10. I took the family to Cancun and Isla Mujeres, Mexico. We stayed at the Calinda Cancun Beach Hotel. Monday was a day at the beach. Our hotel had a very calm sandy beach with jelly fish that stung both Hailee and Jason and made Jamie petrified to enter the water. Therefore, the kids spent most of the time in the hotel’s two pools. We did not see or hear of jelly fish at any other hotels. We rented a wave runner for an hour, so each person had a chance to drive it. About one in ten women on the beaches in both Cancun and Isla Mujeres were topless, which disgusted Lanae and Jamie and probably intrigued Jason. At noon, I rented a Suburban and we drove down to the Oasis Hotel to spend time in the larger waves.

On Tuesday, we drove to Chichén Itza, about a 2.5-hour drive. The kids enjoyed the ruins. We had dinner that night at the Rainforest Café in Cancun.

On Wednesday, we took the ferry to Isla Mujeres and stayed at the Cabañas María del Mar, a quiet hotel on Coco Beach. We stayed in the tower, but next time would choose the cabañas around the pool.

On Thursday, we rented three motorcycles to explore the island. It was raining that morning, so we tried to be cautious on the motorcycles. As Jason and his rider started out, they ran straight into Teri and her rider. Then Teri started out and ran straight into the curb and fell into a tree. I then began to reconsider the wisdom of putting the family on motorcycles and damp streets. We traded two of the cycles for a golf cart, which proved to be a much safer alternative. Five of us rode on the golf cart and Jason followed on a motorcycle, grinning from ear to ear the whole time. We rode to Playa Lancheros and took pictures with the kids in a pen with a shark. We then went to the turtle farm and then on to Garrafón. The kids enjoyed learning to snorkel and were impressed with the fish.

On Friday, the girls went shopping and Jason and I rented motorcycles and returned to Garrafón. We snorkeled down to the point. It was a long swim with large waves, but we explored all the way to the point, then back to the reef. We then rode the cycles all over the island.

On Saturday morning, Jamie and Hailee had their hair braided on the beach. We then took the ferry back to Cancun, ate at the Hard Rock Café, and then went to the airport to catch our flight home. The family had a lot of fun and we all had a good time together.

2002, September. Frank Armstrong and I traveled to Latin America to install the Project Information Network (PIN) system that we developed to track the translation, printing, and distribution of Church resources. We traveled to Colombia, Argentina, Brazil, and Mexico. (See the chapter “Church Employee” for more information.)

2005, October. Teri and I went on a cruise to the Bahamas and got caught in Hurricane Wilma. We spent an extra two days at sea waiting for the hurricane to subside and for the power to be restored to the port so we could disembark. We were blessed enough to get on one of just 18 flights (out of a normal 2,800 flights) that left the Miami airport that day.

2006, July 8–15. Teri and I went to Nueva Vallarta with Rick and Wendy. We stayed at a resort, snorkeled, swam with dolphins, and went on a canopy zip line We even went on a pirate ship dinner cruise with (a look-alike) Elizabeth Taylor.

2021, March 27–April 1. Jason and I went on a father-son scuba trip to Cozumel, Mexico. (When we were in St. George in October 2020 with Jason, Abbie, and their family, Jason invited me to go on this trip.) Jason certified at The Scuba Dive shop in Riverton on December 26, 28, 29, and 30, and I took the course with him as a refresher. Our dive instructor was Ivan Hartle. I had originally certified as a PADI Open Water Diver in April 1987, and my open-water dive was at Lake Mead, April 11–12, 1987.

The trip to Cozumel was amazing. We left Salt Lake on March 27 and returned April 1, 2021. The Scuba Dive shop arranged the trip with about 20 people. We stayed at the all-inclusive resort Wyndham Hotel Cozumel, which only had about 100 people staying there because of the continuing COVID-19 pandemic. The 20 people divided onto two boats, with Eric Larson (dive shop owner) on one boat and Ivan Hartle (our dive instructor) on the other boat. The dive master on our boat was Guillermo. He led each dive and Ivan followed in the rear to make sure everyone was safe.

Cozumel was an amazing place to dive—one of the best in the world. The reefs and animal life were amazing. On our 12 dives, we saw turtles, crabs, huge lobsters, manta rays, stingrays, a green moray eel, puffer fish, squids, octopi, jelly fish, and every other kind of sea life imaginable. The reefs were lively and colorful. On several of the dives, we had reef swim throughs (short caves and archways). It was great to spend that much time with Jason.

2022, January 7-12. Teri and I took a trip to Cancún, Mexico. We stayed at the Haven Riviera Cancún, about halfway between the Cancún hotel zone and Puerto Morelos in the Riviera Maya. It was a five-star, all-inclusive resort, which was a nice place to relax for a week and enjoy some warm weather. One day, we took a ferry to Isla Mujeres, where we took the kids in 1999. It was fun to see mow much things had changed since then.

Middle East

1995, June 2–22. Teri and I took a trip to Rome, Jordan, Egypt, and Israel. In November 1994, we began attending classes and studying at home to prepare ourselves to visit the Holy Land. The study experience and trip were sponsored by the Church Educational System (CES) for seminary and institute teachers. Each year, CES extended the invitation to two employees of the Curriculum Department since we helped produce their manuals.

We visited Rome for 2–3 days and then went to Cairo, Egypt. We then climbed Mount Sinai to see the sun rise in the morning. It brought new meaning to the word “wilderness.” We then went to Jordan and saw Petra and many of the ancient Roman ruins. We then went to Tiberias on the Sea of Galilee. This was a beautiful part of Israel. It was easy to see why Jesus loved it so much. We traveled to Jerusalem and were taught much about the places that Jesus went and lived much of his life. It was a life-changing experience.

South Pacific

1984, November 15–20. I traveled to New Zealand, Samoa, Tonga, and Fiji for three weeks for Publications Coordination. I met in New Zealand with the materials management managers from Australia (Ron Innis) and Hawaii (Kris Christensen) to evaluate the Church printing center in Auckland, and establish procedures for coordinating schedules, quantities, printing, and shipping of materials to Samoa, Tonga, and Tahiti. We identified ways to save about $60,000 a year, maintaining an acceptable standard of quality. Kris and I then went to Samoa and Tonga to work out details with the distribution centers there. We also evaluated the Church magazine printed there. I then went on to Fiji to meet with Church leaders and identify needs for Fijian and Hindi translations. (See more details in the chapter “Church Employee.”)

2001, November 29–December 16. Michael Berry and I traveled to the South Pacific to install the Project Information Network (PIN) system that we developed to track the translation, printing, and distribution of Church resources. We traveled to Sydney, Australia and to Suva, Fiji. Marty (Stephens?), the materials management manager in Sydney, traveled with us to Fiji. That weekend, we had time to tour Fiji a little, including a scuba diving trip to Beqa Lagoon and jet skis to Beqa Island where we snorkeled. I had a one-day stop in Auckland, New Zealand on the way back. (See the chapter “Church Employee” for more information.)

United States Trips


2006, June 14–23. Teri traveled to Alaska with her parents.


2005, April 12–14. I was a keynote speaker at the DCI Conference on “Content Management, Portal, and Collaboration” in Phoenix. I spoke on April 12.


2013, August. Teri and I took a trip to Boston.

2015, June 23. Elder Mervyn B. Arnold, Lee Gibbons, and I spent the day at the Harvard Business School in Boston with Clayton Christensen and his wife to discuss ways to encourage members to share the gospel. (See more detail in the chapter “Church Employee,” section “Priesthood and Family Department.”)

2019, April 15–20. I attended a Content Marketing Conference in Boston.


1968, San Francisco. In 1968, our family vacationed in Portland, Oregon. We also drove to San Francisco and rode the trolley and ate at Fisherman’s Wharf. We also drove down Haight and Ashbury Streets. This was during the hippie movement, and we saw many dirty teenagers sitting on the streets doing nothing but begging for food. It was quite a revelation for us children.

1981, December 7–10. I attended the seminar “Basic Project Management (Planning, Scheduling, and Control),” taught by Ira Bitz of the American Management Association in San Francisco.

1984, May 25–June 3, Los Angeles and San Diego. I spent two days in Los Angeles at the end of a work trip before Teri arrived. She stayed in Blackfoot while I was in Latin America, then drove to Los Angeles with her mother, sister, grandmother, niece Krista, and nephew DJ. I drove around L.A. and spent most of the time on the beach. I rented a pair of skates and skated along the beachfront to Santa Monica and back. I enjoyed watching the break dancers and other street performers, and all the other strange people that hang out around muscle beach. MTV was interviewing people on camera, as was CBS Sports.

Teri and her family were to meet me in San Bernardino at 4:00 p.m. Saturday at “the gas station nearest the off-ramp of the most northern exit of town.” Our interpretations of that were different enough that it took 1.5 hours to find each other. When we finally did, we drove to San Diego and stayed at Eldon and Lucille Holly’s house (Teri’s uncle and aunt). We went to Sea World, Disneyland, and the beach. We drove to Anaheim and went to the Movieland Wax Museum and Knott’s Berry Farm. We also went to Santa Monica to stay with Helen Berger, the lady Teri lived with on her mission. Teri enjoyed visiting with her and driving through some of her mission areas. We then went to Universal Studios, Hollywood and Vine, and drove through the temple grounds. We drove through Beverly Hills and Belair to look at the stars’ homes. At a stop sign, Fred Astaire pulled up next to us in his Rolls Royce. Sunday, we went to church in Santa Monica and then flew home Sunday night. It was a fun trip. It was Lanae’s first time at many things, such as the beach, Disneyland, and Sea World.

1985, November 20–22. I attended the seminar “Managerial and Team Building Skills for Project Managers,” by Lynn Kearny and Pat Selsor of the American Management Association in San Francisco.

1986. We took Don, Merle, Lanae, Jamie, and Jason to San Diego and visited Donna and her husband Ken Frandsen. We went to the San Diego Zoo, Knotts Berry Farm, and the beach.

1989, June 26–30. I attended the seminar “Bottom-Line Project Management” by Planning and Control, Inc. in Los Angeles.

1996. We went to Disneyland, Knott’s Berry Farm, Universal Studios, Sea World, and the San Diego Zoo. We also stopped in Nevada and rode the world’s tallest roller coaster at the State Line.

1998, June 23–26. I attended the seminar “Improving Your Project Management Skills: The Basics for Success,” taught by Patricia Selsor of the American Management Association in San Francisco.

1998, October 9–14. October 9–10, I attended a two-day workshop “A Focus on the Project Management Controlling Process” by the Project Management Institute. October 11–14 was the Project Management Institute annual symposium. Over 3,000 project managers attended the symposium in Long Beach.

1999, December 6–10. I attended the ProjectWorld Conference in San Jose.

2003, September 8–11. I attended the Seybold Conference on Enterprise Publishing and Digital Media in San Francisco.

2004, November 8–11. On November 8, I attended the seminar “Business Architecture Bootcamp: Connecting Strategy with Capability through Process Management.” November 9–11 was the Business Process Management, DCI Conference, in San Francisco.

2005. We went to Disneyland with Teri, Lanae, Jamie, Hailee, Merle, Donna, Krista, Mike, Rachel, and Tatia.

2008, April 22–25. I attended the Web 2.0 Expo in San Francisco.

2011. Teri and I went to San Diego and Disneyland.

2011, November 2–5. I attended BlogWorld in Los Angeles.

2016. Teri and I took Merle to Universal Studios to see the Harry Potter experience.

2019. We went to Disneyland with the Walkers and the Christiansens.

2024, February. We went to Disneyland with the Terrys and Chances parents.

Church History Tour, September 2001

In September 2001, Dad and I visited Church history sites with Brian Judd Tours, including Adam-Ondi-Ahman, Carthage, Far West, Independence, Kanesville, Kansas City, Liberty Jail, Mississippi River, Mt. Pisgah, Nauvoo, St. Louis, Warsaw, and Winter Quarters. I had amazing experiences as we toured the Nauvoo temple with the temple president Spencer Condie. (Earlier, Elder Condie had been the Executive Director of the Curriculum Department.) I enjoyed learning more about my grandpa Brigham Young at Kanesville. I gained a greater appreciation for the life and works of Joseph Smith in Nauvoo and Carthage. During the trip, I read Hoyt Brewster’s book Behold, I Come Quickly about the final events in the last days. I read about the final events that will happen at Adam-Ondi-Ahman, and I wondered if I would be worthy to be counted among those who will be invited to that holy place.


1984, February 13–16. I attended the seminar “Senior Project Management,” taught by James R. Cumberpatch of the American Management Association in Denver.


1994. I attended the Orlando Temple dedication on October 9 with Teri, Lynn, and Mary. I had connections in the Temple Department to get us four tickets to the dedication session in the celestial room. We sat about three rows from the front. While in Orlando, we also went to Disneyworld.

1999, October 1–9. Our family took a vacation to Orlando, Florida. My dad also joined us. We stayed at a 3-bedroom condo and spent three days in Disney parks—one day at MGM Studios and Epcot, a day at Magic Kingdom, and a day at Animal Kingdom. We also spent a day at Busch Gardens in Tampa Bay and a day at Universal Studios Islands of Adventure.

2021, June 8–17. Teri and I flew to Pensacola, Florida, and spent 10 days driving down the gulf coast, exploring towns along the way. We were impressed with Mexico Beach, a tiny town on a beautiful white-sand beach. We thought we might spend a month there during an upcoming winter. (Clearwater was another option.) We drove 1,300 miles from Pensacola all the way to Key West, then drove back to Miami to fly home. We were disappointed with the keys. We found them to be commercialized and expensive—and they do not have great beaches. Since the keys (or cays) are formed on the surface of coral reefs, they do not have natural sand beaches. The few beaches in the keys are man-made.


1993, May 23–30. I attended the FUSE 1993 Educational Conference and International Users Meeting in Atlanta, Georgia. I also gave a presentation titled “A FOCUSed Look at Dates.” I had been frustrated by the lack of documentation about how to use dates in the FOCUS programming language, so I did some research about how to use the various date formats and gave a presentation on my findings. (See agenda and handouts.)

Glacier National Park

1960, July–August.

Grand Canyon


1972, August 17–25. Shortly after Dad married Mary, the family went to Hawaii. It was a great chance to bond as a new family.

1987.Teri and I went to Hawaii.

2004, June 25–July __. We took a two-week trip to Hawaii with the family and Don and Merle Jackman. We spent a week on Kauai, staying at the Pono Kai resort in two nicely furnished condominiums. We attended church at the meetinghouse just across the street. We swam and snorkeled at Lydgate Park Beach and then drove up Waimea Canyon. We also swam at Poipu Beach and at Tunnels Beach on the north shore. We took a catamaran up the beautiful Na Pali Coast (where they filmed the airplane scenes in Jurassic Park). We saw dolphins and sea turtles and were able to snorkel along the way. Besides getting a little motion sick, we all had a great time.

On July 3, we flew from Kauai to Oahu and stayed in two condos at the Royal Kuhio near Waikiki Beach. We attended church at the Manoa Ward at the beautiful Honolulu Tabernacle. We surfed and parasailed at Waikiki. One morning, while Jason and I surfed near the Outrigger Waikiki, Lanae, Jamie, and Hailee walked along the beach. Teri and Merle stayed in a grassy spot at Queen’s Surf Beach to relax and read. Don stayed in the condo watching TV. After Teri and Merle were laying on the grass for a while, they suddenly noticed that there were not any other women in the whole area. They thought it was rather odd, then realized they were in a gay section—there was not another woman around for 200 feet! But, since they were settled in, they stayed there for the morning, feeling rather safe around gay men. Afterwards, we all had a good laugh about it, except for Don, who did not think it was very funny.

Don really enjoyed going to the memorial at the Punch Bowl crater and reminiscing about World War II. We also toured Pearl Harbor. Three of our children went swimming with the sharks (in a metal cage). We also spent a day at the swap meet and several of the kids bought designer knives.

2016, July. Teri and I went to Hawaii.


1971.Craters of the Moon

Also see “Camping” in the chapter “Family Traditions.”


1997, September 22–October 2. I attended the Project Management Institute Symposium in Chicago. September 27–28 was the seminar “Team-based Strategic Management for Competitive Advantage” taught by Dr. David Cleland and John Tuman. The symposium was attended by about 2,000 project managers from the United States and many countries around the world.

Las Vegas

1997.A family trip to Las Vegas to enjoy the family stuff—like the roller coasters and the MGM theme park.

2000, June 15–18. Hailee’s and Jamie’s dance troupe went to Las Vegas and St. George to perform. On Thursday, they danced at the MGM Grand Theme Park on an outdoor stage in 114-degree heat. We spent the rest of the day at the theme park. The singer Marc Anthony was at the theme park that day and Jamie got her picture taken with his arm around her. Friday afternoon, we drove to St. George and met Teri’s parents and watched the girls dance at the Tuacahn Amphitheatre and Center for the Arts. We also attended the play “The Music Man.” Lanae and Karina decided not to go to Tuacahn, but instead drive around St. George and see if they might be interested in attending Dixie College. They also wanted to understand why St. George had such an attraction for youth during spring break. We returned to the hotel from Tuacahn at midnight and met Lanae and Karina in the lobby. They talked us in to letting them stay out until 1:30 a.m. When they had not returned to the hotel by 2:30 a.m., I borrowed Jackman’s car and went looking for them. By 4:00 a.m., I found our van parked a short distance from the hotel, but no sign of Lanae or Karina. We then called the police to help us search. They began searching St. George and notified the authorities in Mesquite (to the south) and Cedar City (to the north). At 5:00 a.m., Lanae and Karina returned to the hotel. They had met some boys and went to their house to watch videos. They fell asleep and woke up shortly before 5:00 a.m., about the same time Teri, I, and the Jackmans had gathered in the hotel room to pray for their safe return. That was a parents’ nightmare!

2004, April. We took a short trip to Las Vegas to ride the roller coasters and just have fun. Lanae did not go with us because she took a trip of her own to San Diego for Spring Break. She had a great time as did the rest of us.

2013, January 6–11. I attended the New Media Expo (January 6–8) and the Consumer Electronics Show (January 8–11).

Lake Powell

1990, October 25–28. Teri and I went to Lake Powell with four friends—Reed and Julie Coombs and Jerry and Mary Duke. It was a perfect trip because it was still warm (80-degree weather and 70-degree water) and there was hardly a boat on the lake. We set up tents on a sandy beach near Wahweap, then explored the Escalante River and hiked up Hole in the Rock. When we returned to our original camp, we discovered that some of our belongings that we had left in the tent had been stolen. The police later recovered the stolen suitcases.

2003, June. Lake Powell trip with Don, Merle, David’s family, Donna’s family, and our family. Don and Merle rented a houseboat, and we rented a ski boat.

2007, August 1–8. Lake Powell, Bullfrog with Don, Merle, Jason, Abbie, Robert, and Jamie.

Louisiana 2009

Teri accompanied her parents on a trip to Louisiana to visit her niece, Krista. Her parents bought a new car and wanted to drive across the country to see more of it. “Martha,” the navigational device, led them astray a few times.

New York City

1991, February 2–8. I attended the Top Gun School and Workshop and Symposium by Information Builders, Inc. in New York City.

1994, July 28–29. I attended the seminar “Budgeting Techniques for On-time, On-budget Project Performance,” taught by Marie Scoto of the American Management Association in New York City.

1996, May 1–3. I attended a project management seminar titled “Managing Project Managers: The People, the Resources, the Politics,” taught by Lee Lambert of the American Management Association in New York City.

1997, October 22–26. Teri and I spent five days in New York City.

1998, July 17–22. I attended the class “Teaching Techniques for Accelerated Learning,” a professional development training for American Management Association (AMA) instructors. It was taught by Jim Vidakovich and John Carey in New York City.

2005, February 28–March 3. I attended the Search Engine Strategies Conference by JupiterMedia.

2009, March 23–25. I attended the Publishing Business Conference and Expo in New York City. I learned about current trends and processes in the publishing industry to take advantage of the web, XML, print-on-demand, and other new publishing technologies. Teri met me there at the end of the conference and we toured the city and saw the Broadway play Wicked.

2010, March 6–11. I attended the Publishing Business Conference and Expo in New York City.

2011, February 5–11. I attended the Social Media Online Marketing Summit, Publishing Business Conference.

2012, February. I attended the O’Reilly Tools of Change Publishing Business Conference.

2012, June 5–7. I attended BlogWorld at the Jacob Javits Center.


1968. Our family vacationed in Portland, Oregon.

2010, July. We had a family reunion on the Oregon Coast. Teri, Jamie, Paityn, and I went from our family. We had a fabulous time with the family and watching 14 little kids playing together. Margie and Jennifer organized it. Jeremy and Elizabeth arranged a deep-sea fishing trip. Nearly everyone got seasick. Jeremey caught crabs and we had a crab feast. We enjoyed early morning trips to the beach to see the tide pools. We went shopping in the coastal shops. Best of all, we survived 38 hours in the car with a two-year-old. Paityn was a very good traveler.

2014, July. A relaxing vacation with Teri at Cannon Beach, Oregon.

South Dakota

1970, August 21–29. We took a trip with Grandma Richman and went to Mount Rushmore, the Black Hills, and saw the Passion Play. I made a detailed log of that trip for Jeff, who was on his mission in Germany. It was the first vacation that the whole family was not together.


1992, April 26–May 3. I attended the FOCUS Computer Workshops by FUSE, Inc. in Dallas.

1993. We took a road trip to Texas and tried to see as much of the country as possible along the way. We tried to see Zion’s National Park, but it was too crowded. We spent a night in Las Vegas, and then went to the Grand Canyon. Then, for a cultural experience, we went to El Paso, Texas. and walked across the border to Juarez, Mexico. It was an eye-opener for the kids, but they really enjoyed shopping in the marketplace. We then went to Carlsbad Caverns in New Mexico. We camped in a tent and had spiders in the bathrooms at the campground. We spent five days with Reed and Julie Coombs in Dallas. We also visited our former neighbors, Mike and Deanna Christensen. We also visited Teri’s aunt Diane and her cousin Kanae. On the way home, we visited our friends Steve and Karla Stotts in Oklahoma City and saw the Arbuckle Wild Animal Park in Oklahoma. Then we were “off to see the Wizard” at the Land of Oz in Liberal, Kansas. The trip was fifteen days and 4,000 miles.

2008, March 16–20. I attended the training seminar “Building a Next Generation Project Management Office (PMO),” in Houston, Texas.

2008, June. Teri went with her parents to Texas to her mother’s family reunion. It was fun for her to meet people she had never met and to see people she had met but did not know very well. She was also able to gather a lot of genealogical information.

Unlimited Mileage Trip, Summer 1979

1979, April 25 to May 13. I went on a trip with Greg Martin. Eastern Airlines offered an unlimited mileage trip for the set price of $372. You could fly any route they offered for 22 days. We planned the flights so that almost every flight was a meal flight. We also took some night flights to save the expense of a hotel. I spent $261.50 for food, lodging, and all expenses besides the plane ticket. (See Eastern Airlines trip 1979.)

First, we flew to Washington, DC to spend two nights with Jeff. Jimmy Seely was in town on vacation and Kent and Mary were living there, so the three of them and Jeff, Greg, and I spent a day and a half seeing the sights. Kent had a friend who worked for a congressman, and he took us on an inside tour of the Senate and House offices in the Capitol Building.

We then flew to Bermuda for a day. We found a nice guesthouse on the beach and went snorkeling. We then flew to Mexico City for 3.5 days. We went to the Ballet Folklorico in the magnificent Palacio de las Bellas Artes. We saw the Plaza de las Tres Culturas and took a bus to the ruins at Teotihuacán. We went to the Basilica de Guadalupe. The new basilica was right next to the hill where Juan Diego reports to have seen the Virgin Mary and where her image was imprinted on his cloak. It was May first, día del trabajador (Labor Day), so we watched the parade through the Zocalo main square.

We then flew to Orlando to spend two days at Disney World. Disney World had an attraction that told Walt Disney’s story. I was impressed with what he accomplished during his life. He did a lot to promote wholesome family entertainment. He had wonderful dreams and vision. I hope he accepts the gospel. What he did and what he stood for was an inspiration.

We then flew to Cancun, Mexico and spent four days on Isla Mujeres, where I went scuba diving the previous summer with the guys from the dictionary project. We slept in hammocks at a little place near the north beach for 30 pesos (US $1.50) a night. We shared a sand-floor room with three other guys. While Greg and I were walking along Coco Beach (the north beach) one morning, we noticed several bills folded in half lying in the sand. We picked them up to find ten 1,000-peso bills (US $435). No one was around and we did not know who to return it to. We asked the man at the hotel desk if anyone had reported losing money. Later, the police came after us trying to get the money “to return it to its rightful owners.” We avoided the police the rest of that trip. On Sunday, we went back to Cancun to attend Church. During the meeting, they asked Greg and me to help bless a baby.

We spent the next three days in Puerto Rico at the Sands Hotel. From there, we flew to Trinidad—the only mistake of the trip. Our hotel was the worst of the trip and we had to pay US $21 a night for the room! It was hot and humid, and we could hardly sleep. The only place we found with air conditioning was the Holiday Inn, so we sat in their lobby for a while. It was Saturday morning, and everything was closed. It was 10:00 a.m. before we could find a place open to eat. Every few minutes, we were accosted by taxi drivers who wanted to take us somewhere. Everyone spoke English, but with such a heavy accent that we could hardly understand them. We were told there was a lot to do in Trinidad, but no one could tell us exactly what. After a day, we were ready to leave, so we took a taxi to the airport and sat there until a plane left for Puerto Rico. We were scheduled to go on to St. Thomas in the Virgin Islands, but when we heard it was raining there, we decided to skip it and fly home.

Unlimited Mileage Trip, Summer 1980

1980, April 17 to May 8. I went on a trip with Bryan Flake. Eastern Airlines offered an unlimited mileage trip for the set price of $383. You could fly any route they offered for 22 days. We spent another $205 each in other expenses. During those three weeks, we flew a total of 19,000 miles (that is 80% of the number of miles to fly around the world at the equator), drove another 1, 775 miles, and set foot in 15 states and 3 countries. That vacation was a lot of work.

Our first stop was four hours in St. Louis to see the natural bridge arch. We then flew to Omaha to meet Bryan’s brother Lawrence, who was president of the Independence Missouri Mission. He rented a car and drove us to Winter Quarters to see the cemetery where about 600 Saints were buried. We drove to Far West and saw where the temple sight was dedicated, and the cornerstones laid. We spent some time at Adam-Ondi-Ahman and Liberty Jail.

For lunch, we stopped at McDonald’s Tea Room in Galatin, Missouri, which was rated as one of the ten best places to eat by Duncan Hines. In Independence, Lawrence lived in a beautiful mansion, complete with a stainless-steel swimming pool. I enjoyed being with Lawrence and hearing about his challenges and successes in the mission.

We saw the Church’s visitor’s center in Independence. We also visited the Reorganized LDS Church’s Auditorium. In their museum, we saw the Bible that Joseph Smith used in making his inspired translation of the Bible. We visited the temple lot and spoke with one of the apostles of the Church of Christ.

From Independence, we drove back to Omaha, and flew on to New Orleans to spend a day and a half with Bryan’s oldest brother, Dennis, who lives in Hattisburg, Mississippi. (That day we covered seven states in twelve hours: Missouri, Nebraska, Kansas, Iowa, Georgia, Louisiana, and Mississippi.) Dennis had been recently called to be a mission president in Australia.

Our next stop was two days in Mexico City. It was to be a one-day stop, but we missed the plane and had to spend a second day. That meant our day and a half with my brother Jeff in Washington, D.C., was reduced to a half day. Jeff took us out to eat, then for a walk around the city. Later, Kent and Jimmy Seely called with some good news and some bad news. The good news was that Joy was engaged to be married. The bad news was that Grandma Seely had passed away. I was sad, but also happy, for Grandma Seely. She was frustrated by not having the health to do the things she wanted to do. She could now join her parents and my mother on the other side of the veil.

The only way for me to go to the funeral would have been for both Bryan and me to fly to Salt Lake and end the trip, since the Unlimited Mileage restrictions would not allow any changes to the itinerary. I did not feel that would be fair to Bryan, and I knew that Grandma Seely would not want me to do that, so I missed the funeral.

Our next stop was Guatemala City. We took a bus to Panajachel and swam in Lake Atitlan. We surprised Doña Mere in Patzún. She said she was thinking about me that very morning as she was washing a pair of pants I had given to her son. She was wondering if I would ever come back to Patzún. We spent Sunday in Patzicía, and I had a good talk with Pablo Choc (then a counselor in the district presidency), Fulgencio Choy (district president), Luis Alonzo (Patzicía branch president), Rigoberto Miza (Comalapa branch president, who was in Patzicía for a meeting), and my good friends Alejandro and Roman Choc. Bryan and I walked up to the cemetery to see Daniel Choc’s grave.

Our next stop was Cancun, Mexico. Bryan had never swam in the ocean before and got rather sick drinking the salt water. Bryan got sunburned badly in the two days we were there. While snorkeling at Isla Mujeres, Bryan was so impressed with the fish and the coral reefs that he would come up out of the water and say, “I can’t believe it! I’ve never seen anything more beautiful in my life!”

We met Bryan’s brother Joel in Pittsburgh, and he took us through Pennsylvania to Morgantown, West Virginia. Bryan’s other brother Layne and his wife Jana had come from Plattsburgh, New York, and another brother Forrest flew in from a business trip for a three-day Flake family rendezvous. Although Bryan was very sore from his sunburn, it did not stop us from playing football most of the day, including on the AstroTurf at the West Virginia University stadium. I am sure that playing football that day more than doubled the total time I had played football in my life.

Bryan and I then flew to Rochester, New York. We drove a rental car to Fayette to see the Peter Whitmer farm, the sight of the organization of the Church 150 years and one month before. The previous month during general conference, President Kimball had dedicated the restored farmhouse, the chapel, and visitor’s center. We then drove on to Harmony, where we helped Bryan’s brother Layne baptize his son Oliver (named after Oliver Cowdery) in the Susquehanna River. We then drove to Palmyra to visit the Joseph Smith home, the grove of trees across the street where young Joseph Smith prayed and was visited by God the Father and his Son Jesus Christ, the Hill Cumorah where Joseph received the golden plates, the E. B. Grandin print shop where the Book of Mormon was first published, and the Martin Harris farm which was mortgaged to finance the printing of the Book of Mormon.

We then flew to Puerto Rico and stayed at the Sands Hotel (where Greg Martin and I stayed the year before). We then returned to Salt Lake.

It was a great trip. Bryan and I got along great. Our goals were to travel as many miles as possible, visit as many states or countries as possible, spend as little money as possible, and have fun.

Unlimited Mileage Trip, September 25–October 16, 1982

1982, September 25–October 16. Teri and I took a three-week Eastern Airlines unlimited mileage trip. This was the first time Teri had been outside the western United States. It was our official honeymoon, since we only had a short honeymoon in July, having planned this trip. We first went to Palmyra, New York, to attend church and visit Church history sites. We then spent a few days in Washington, D.C. with my brother Jeff and sightseeing. Teri’s cousin, Bill Sadler, was the director of presidential scheduling, handling everything on President Reagan’s calendar. So, we arranged with him an inside tour of the west wing of the White House, including the oval office. (Regrettably, I did not sit in the chair at the president’s desk.) We then spent a day in New York City and saw the Broadway play Evita. We then went to Mexico City and stayed at a hotel on the Plaza Garibaldi and listened to the mariachis play in the plaza. Teri was pregnant and got sick from the smell of chicken soup from the kitchen in the hotel. (Not everyone can say that their wife was pregnant on their honeymoon!) We also visited the pyramids of Teotihuacan.

We went to Disney World and the Epcot Center in Orlando. The Epcot Center had just opened on October 1, and we were there on October 5th. We then went to St. Croix in the Virgin Islands. We stayed at Cottages by the Sea and spent most of the time on the beach. We then went to Puerto Rico. We toured New Orleans and then spent a week in Cancun and Isla Mujeres, with a side trip to the ruins at Chichén Itza.

All this for the unbelievable airfare of $549 per ticket! The regular airfare to all these places would have been $2,949 each.


1977, August 8. I returned home from Guatemala for a family vacation. I arrived at the Salt Lake airport and the family was waiting for me, including my new brother David, but not Julie, Jennifer, and Becky who were home with Chicken Pox. We spent a few days around Salt Lake, Lagoon, Provo, and Lava Hot Springs for a day, and then back to Boise.

2009, August. We took a trip to Moab with all our kids and grandkids. We did a lot of hiking and site seeing. The sites around Moab were amazing.

2020, October. We took Jason, Abbie, and their family to St. George for a long weekend. Teri and I had decided that over the next few years, we would take each of our kids on two trips: (1) a close, long-weekend trip with their kids and (2) an international trip with just the parents. This was the first trip of that series.

Yellowstone National Park

1960.We took a vacation to Yellowstone the year of the big earthquake. During the night, our trailer started rocking. My parents thought that a bear had crawled under our trailer. People from other trailers were outside to see what was happening. Mom stuck her head out and asked them if there was a bear under our trailer. A man said, “No. It’s an earthquake. And it’s not funny!”

1967, August. This was perhaps my most memorable vacation, mostly because it was filled with a remarkable number of mishaps. The first incident was at a service station when Dad backed the trailer house into a post, bent the Green Stamp sign on the post, and knocked out the back window of the trailer. Since Dad was a Green Stamp salesman, he promised the man a new sign. After looking for some time for a piece of cardboard to cover the missing window, we found some, but we could not find any tape. So, we propped a pillow up to the cardboard to hold it up. The next time we stopped, we found the cardboard had slid down behind the bed, and the pillow had gone out the window. We misplaced the keys to the trailer several times during the trip. We would usually find them locked in the trailer, at the last restaurant we stopped at, or in the trailer door. We started the trip with two spare keys. After we lost the original and one spare, we decided to get a few more copies made. We were later glad we did because we lost several more. The original key was on my mother’s key case with her driver’s license. Luckily, someone found it, and it was in our mailbox when we returned home.

Washington, D.C.

Teri and I visited Jeff and Don and stayed at their apartment in the city. They had a ferocious cat named Kitty. One day, after Jeff and Don had gone to work, Teri and I tried to get Kitty into the bathroom before we left, but the cat did not want to. We tried for quite a while to get her into the bathroom, but she would run to a corner of the apartment and hiss at us.

1998, July. Mom, Dad, Rick, Wendy, Jennifer, Spencer, Teri, and I went to Washington, D. C. when Jeff and Don celebrated their 25th anniversary.

Youth Conferences

Venturer Camp, 2003

We went boating. Jason did not attend.

Youth Trek, July 7–11, 1994

July 7–11, 1994 was the stake youth conference pioneer trek. The experience was based on the program that BYU used to sponsor, which consisted of recreating a pioneer experience of coming to Utah in a handcart company. The total trek was 26 miles. Water and food were rationed, personal belongings were limited to specific items on a list, and participants were grouped into families with people they did not know. Over 300 participated, mostly youth with a few adults.

Teri and I went on this trek as a “ma” and “pa” over a trek family that consisted of 24 “children” and two handcarts. We were trained to be a ma and pa in several meetings and during a weekend trek wherein we went through the full course except for the first six and the last eleven miles. We were able to cover the miles over a weekend because we had only two handcarts rather than 22, because many of the mas and pas had been on trek six years ago when our stake did it last, and because we abbreviated some of the activities that were done during the trek. We were “children” during the training and learned a lot and enjoyed the experience. However, this time as a ma and pa, we learned many new lessons and saw things from a different perspective. In many ways it was harder to be a ma and pa, certainly emotionally, and perhaps even physically, even though we were not supposed to do any of the work ourselves. Our job was to get our trek family to pull and push the handcarts and do the work of pioneers in camp. It was a full-time job to keep track of them and supervise.

Thursday evening, we drove to the beginning point of the trek (18 miles up Daniel’s Canyon above Heber), played pioneer games in the field, ate dinner, and went to bed. Friday morning the families were organized and ate a scant breakfast of cream of wheat mush and water. We started on the trail at noon and continued until 1:30 a.m. Food and water were rationed. The only thing eaten on the trail was one piece of beef jerky. The first day was the most difficult and was even more difficult the last several hours where the trail became increasingly steep and rocky. When it became dark, everyone was exhausted and hungry. Some had strained their backs, most had blisters, and all had sore muscles. When we stopped to rest, they would either vomit at the side of the road or collapse in the middle of the road motionless. Teri and I talked to each one to be sure they had not passed out. We reassured them and talked to each about their specific pains and concerns. During one rest break, I was afraid that Richard Otteson, who had strained his back earlier, was going to pass out. As he sat in the middle of the trail in the dark, I put my arm around him and talked with him. I think it helped him. They all expressed later that they really appreciated the love and concern they felt from us.

As the evening went on, I really wanted to help pull the handcarts, but knew I could not. They had to do it themselves. I was not allowed to touch the carts. As they inched up the steep mountain side, the carts bounced over rocks, and at times stopped dead still in foot-deep ruts. My heart ached to see them struggle, groan, stumble, cry, tug, strain, and still go on. When I was not walking ahead of the carts to clear the trail of large rocks and to point out ruts to avoid, I circled the cart to reassure them and to listen to their breathing. At times, I pushed on their backs or put my hand on the shoulders of those in the yoke and pulled them along. (Mark Allred later commented that he appreciated me pulling on his shoulder and said that it gave him the courage to continue.) As we stumbled in the dark, I kept praying for God to give them strength. I prayed that the end would be around the next bend in the trail. Although I had only met them earlier that day, I had already started to love them.

For about ten minutes during a steep part, we took the men off the carts and had the women pull by themselves. This was to teach the women that they could not always rely on the men. Many of the pioneer women lost their husbands and had to journey by themselves. It was also difficult for the men to watch the women pull and not be able to help. Since they were not allowed to touch the carts, they spoke encouraging words, pushed on the women’s backs, and some even took bags off the carts and carried them to lighten the load.

I caught a brief glimpse of how God must yearn to help His children as we struggle on earth. He would rather step in the yoke and pull the cart up the hill Himself, but He knows He must let us do it ourselves. He knows and loves us much more than I did those kids, and therefore He must feel our pain much more than I did theirs.

Sunday morning was a scavenger hunt where the participants were blindfolded in a meadow and asked to find five objects and then sit down. After everyone sat down, the mas and pas began singing in hopes that the youth would get up and walk toward the music. One by one they got the message to walk toward the singing as they heard others do it and the chorus grew in number and volume. On training, Teri and I participated in it and learned several lessons. However, it was a more moving experience for me to watch the others blindfolded and struggling to find their five objects and sit down. When we sang, some got up and walked toward the singing. Others did not know what to do, so they sat still. It was heart-wrenching to see them make the decision to get up, then grope about trying to walk toward the singing, and to liken it to us trying to make our way in life. Some stumbled. Others wandered off in the wrong direction. Some got tired of trying and sat back down. Some bumped into another struggler and clasped hands and helped each other toward the singing. After stumbling a bit, and losing some confidence, one teenager dropped to his knees and crawled toward the singing. I learned that we all have to go at our own pace, but still keep moving in the right direction. Several times during this experience, I got so choked up I had to stop singing as tears streamed down my face. (Tears well up in my eyes even as I write this.) I wanted to go to each one of them, lift them up, and lead them to the singing at the top of the hill. But I knew they had to do it on their own. So must our Heavenly Father feel. As they approached the hill, we went out to get them and guide them in. I felt strong emotions as I put my arm around them and guided them to the top of the hill.

I spoke in priesthood meeting about the lessons I learned during the scavenger hunt. I also related the story of C. Allen Huntington, George W. Grant, and David P. Kimball, three teenagers who went to rescue the Martin Handcart Company and personally carry nearly everyone in the company across an ice-clogged river. After talking about how hard it was for the pioneers, I mentioned that I felt that the youth today have an even bigger challenge because the trials today are not as obvious (see Alma 38:5). Satan’s temptations today are very subtle. Some of the things he uses are not even bad, but they turn our focus from things that are more important. I encouraged them to constantly evaluate what they were doing and set priorities to be sure they put their time and efforts in the things that matter most. I also encouraged them to use their solo time that afternoon [four hours alone on the hillside] to get in touch with two things inside them: (1) the Holy Ghost and (2) their eternal spirit deep within them that is ancient and wise and knows them best. I concluded with 2 Nephi 31:20.

In Sunday School, Randy Sylvester mentioned that some may not be looking forward to the solo time and the thought of spending four hours alone with themselves because they may not be comfortable being alone with themselves. The youth seem to draw a lot of self-esteem from their friends. It was affirming to them to see the reaction of others to their jokes. He told them they needed to learn to like themselves and to be comfortable with themselves. I felt that the people you need to like best are the following: yourself first, God second, spouse and family third, friends fourth, and others fifth.

Solo was a good experience for most of the youth, and I looked forward to it. Because of the hectic pace of my life, I did not take enough time to think, evaluate, and make plans.

During solo, two of youth did not follow the rules and wandered so far off they got lost. Corbin Summers came back about six hours late, and Jonathan Donkin was finally found nearly 24 hours later. Many prayers were offered in their behalf, and I think it helped many people develop more unity and faith. Rick Donkin, Jonathan’s father, was on the trek as the communications specialist and he helped coordinate the search. Early in the evening when Jonathan was lost, it was cold, but shortly after midnight a cloud cover moved in and warmed the air. Rick called it nothing short of a miracle. I constantly remind myself that God works miracles in answer to prayers and that those small miracles are as important and as real as the big miracles.

We held a family home evening Sunday night and exchanged gifts for “Christmas in July.” Each person had made something for the person whose name he or she had drawn earlier. The gifts were mostly made of wood or flowers and were generally very creative. I received a wooden CTR ring. I made for a girl in our trek family a wall hanging made of wildflowers weaved into the leather band from my hat. The hat band was so she would have something permanent to remember me by after the flowers were gone. The flowers were to remind her of the variety of God’s creations. When we look at a meadow, we usually see only one or two kinds of flowers and think that is all there is. But if we look closer, we find hundreds of varieties, shapes, and colors. In about 200 yards in that meadow, I found twenty different kinds of flowers to put in that bouquet. God has created all this, but we usually see only the surface and miss much of the beauty.

On the last morning of trek, we had a brief testimony meeting in our trek family, and we expressed our love for each other. I was very proud of the youth and told them so several times during the trek. Today’s youth are very impressive, and their valiant souls can be seen at an early age. Complaints on the trek were few and not very significant. Virtually everyone did their share of the work and then some. There was a good spirit of unity and concern for each other. I saw a better side of today’s youth than I had seen before. Back home, at church meetings, and at mutual, I had often seen the superficial side. They clowned around and were sometimes inconsiderate. But when the outside world can be set aside and they are faced with a challenge, their inner character shines through. The influence of the world often hides that inner strength and pushes it deep within. Clothes, fashion, looks, money, status, and a concern about what others think of them can all work against them and distract them from what they really ought to be doing with their lives.

Teri and I tried to be loving in a gentle, but firm way. Part of the purpose of the trek was to help the youth learn responsibility and do most of the work. I had to keep backing off and remember to delegate.

David and Paula Ellis were the trail bosses. Bill and Cindy Rydalch oversaw the support team (water, food, portable outhouses at the base camp, cooking equipment, medical staff, and emergency communication). It was a lot of work, but it was worth it. If you strengthen the youth, you strengthen the stake. If you lose the youth, you lose the stake.

Youth Trek, 1995

Teri and I were a ma and pa.

Young Men Activity, Summer 1998

For the summer young men activity, we went to Paris, Idaho. We stayed at Ron Sander’s cabin and went waterskiing on Bear Lake. It was a good experience. Everyone cooperated and afterward said they had a great time. We each received a dog tag with our name and “Team 7918, Bear Lake 1998.”

Youth Conference, June 16–19, 1999

June 16–19, 1999 was our ward’s youth conference at Kodachrome Basin State Park, 22 miles south of Bryce Canyon National Park. Before we left, we held a fireside where the bishop spoke about the conference theme, “Build upon the Rock.” The youth chose the theme so that the magnificent rock formations of Kodachrome Basin could remind us that Christ is our Rock. I also spoke at the fireside about being positive with each other.

We set up camp among beautiful red rock formations and had a photography hike with games and activities around camp. One of the goals of the youth conference was to give the youth time to interact with each other to build relationships. Since the ward was organized six months previously from two wards, many of the youth did not know each other well. I was gratified to see the youth organize themselves into simple card games, crafts, water fights, and even a game of human foosball. They interacted well together and built friendships among themselves and with their leaders. Whenever we get the youth away from the worldly influences of school and peer pressures, they shine.

Youth Trek, July 19–22, 2000

July 19–22, 2000 was the stake youth conference pioneer trek. Teri and I were asked to be a ma and pa, just as we were on the stake pioneer trek in 1994. I truly enjoyed being a pa. It was great to put the world aside for a few days and relate with the youth as brothers and sisters. I did not look at myself as an adult and the youth as teenagers. I considered them my eternal brothers and sisters. By putting the worldly things aside, you can see the true personality of these great youth—and I am impressed with the depth of their souls. They are becoming great men and women.

The experience reminded me of what Ezra Taft Benson said to the youth: “God has held you in reserve to make your appearance in the final days before the second coming of the Lord…. God has saved for the [final days] some of His strongest children, who will help bear off the kingdom triumphantly. That is where you come in, for you are the generation that must be prepared to meet your God…. “In all ages prophets have looked down through the corridors of time to our day. Billions of the deceased and those yet to be born have their eyes on us. Make no mistake about it—you are a marked generation. There has never been more expected of the faithful in such a short period of time than there is of us.” (The Teachings of Ezra Taft Benson, pages 104–5.)

Youth Conference, 2003

Jason went with me on the youth conference at Snow College. One night, we attended the Mormon Miracle pageant in Manti.

Scout Camp, July 12–14, 2004

July 12–14, 2004, Jason and I spent a week with the Venturer Scouts at the Teton High Adventure Base camp. We went canoeing, biking, and did a high ropes course. On the way back, we spent a night in Paris, Idaho, complete with night games in the town square.

Youth Conference, June 2005

Hailee went with me on the youth conference at BYU in Provo. We stayed at Helaman Halls.