Mormon In America

Rock Center with Brian Williams tonight featured Mormons in America.  A good portion of the program was well done and informative.  There are a few things that I would like to correct for those who may have seen it.

Before I give criticism, however, I would like to say that the program did portray an accurate picture of the Church welfare system, and they gave a pretty accurate description of typical Mormon life.

Now for the criticism:

First, if you want to know about members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, ask us.  It amazes me that most of the interview time was given to past members of the Church who have an ax to grind.  While I understand that the media needs to give both sides of the story, at times it seemed that we were being “set up.”  I’m sure, if they had asked, they could have interviewed a member of the First Presidency of the Church, or one of the apostles. Dan Rather interviewed President Hinckley years ago — I miss Dan Rather.

Second, I was highly offended that pictures of our garments or “secret Mormon underwear” as the world seems to view them, were shown on national television.  The garment is very sacred to members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and it shouldn’t be displayed for the world to mock.  I can’t believe that the show felt it necessary to display the picture.  As President Hinckley explained to Dan Rather once upon a time, the garment is an “outward expression of an inward commitment.”  It’s as simple as that.  No mystery.  No magic.  They are just a sacred reminder  of who we are and the covenants we make with our Heavenly Father.  MANY religions have some sort of sacred clothing.  Get over it!

Third, I’m was shaking with emotion when the program said that in the Church the “two genders are not equal,” and that women can’t hold “leadership positions.”  Hogwash!  I’m furious!  Women hold extremely important leadership roles in the Church.  They are just different from the roles that the men hold.

I spent 3 1/2 years as Relief Society President (head of the women’s organization) in my ward (congregation).  It was my responsibility to “seek out” the poor and the needy, inform the Bishop, and counsel with the Bishop on how to take care of their needs.  I had the responsibility to meet with the needy in their homes and assess the situation.  I had the authority, if needed, to go through cupboards with a homemaker to see how we could best use Church resources to help feed families.  I helped homemakers plan meals to teach them how to best use the food we provided through the Bishop’s Storehouse.  It was also my responsibility to go to the Bishop and say, “I think Brother John and Sister Mary Doe need some help, but I think they are too proud to ask for it.  Maybe you should call them in for a talk.”  The Relief Society President is the Bishop’s right arm.  In addition, the Relief Society is responsible for the spiritual well-being of the families in the ward.  We teach classes every Sunday and participate in ward counsel meetings with other men AND WOMEN who hold leadership positions in the ward.  DON’T TELL ME WOMEN DON’T HOLD LEADERSHIP POSITIONS!  I’m still trying to recover from 3 1/2 years of total chaos in my life.

In addition, women run the Primary (Sunday School) for children 18 months to 12 years old, and they run the Young Women’s program for girls 12 to 18 years old.  I was a Primary President for several years, as well.  Two of my daughters are currently Primary Presidents in their wards today.  They will tell you just how much responsibility they have in their “leadership positions.”  As a matter of fact, I just saw their rants on Facebook about how women were portrayed on the show.  We are not wimpy  little girls who are “seen and not heard.”  We thrive in the Church.

Oh, and by the way, women can be missionaries too.  All of my children have served missions, male and female.  My stepson, Matt, went to England.  Molly served in Boston, Massachusetts.  Hannah served in Russia.  Ezra served in Uruguay.  My youngest daughter, Kaylonnie, is currently a missionary in Brazil.  The picture below is Kaylonnie reading her “mission call” to family and friends gathered in our home, as well as a family member on the phone.

Kaylonnie Opening her "Mission Call"

Kaylonnie Opening her “Mission Call”

Okay, rant over.  While I do have criticism about the show, I also believe that even bad publicity can be a missionary tool.  I’m glad that people are asking about The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  I just wish they would ask the right people.  If I wanted to know how to be a doctor, I wouldn’t ask a lawyer.  If I wanted to learn about the Catholic Church, I wouldn’t ask someone who had an ax to grind with the Catholic Church.  Go to the source.  If you want to know more, ask me, another Mormon, or go to the Church website.

http://tudierose.brandyourself.com/

Ultimate Prey, The True Story Behind the Yosemite Sightseer Murders

Ultimate Prey, The True Story Behind The Yosemite Sightseer Murders

Ultimate Prey, The True Story Behind The Yosemite Sightseer Murders

It is not often that you have the opportunity to read a book with your brother as one of the main characters, but that’s what just happened to me.  To say that I was thrilled, would be an understatement.

Stephen M. Sanzeri, author of Ultimate Prey, The True Story Behind The Yosemite Sightseer Murders, was also my brother, Rick Janes’ partner.  Rick and Steve were both very experienced ex-police officers turned private investigators.  Steve and Rick investigated the horrendous murders of Carol Sund; her daughter, Julie Sund; and their friend, Silvina Pelosso.  These high-profile murders became known as the Yosemite Sightseer Murders.

Besides being a good police officer and investigator, Sanzeri is an excellent writer.  The book had me on the edge of my chair, and I couldn’t put it down.  As a matter of fact, I read until 1:40 a.m. last night until I could no longer see the print on the page.  The dialog between Steve and Rick is written so well that I could actually hear Rick’s voice in my head.  The story is compelling on its own, but Sanzeri’s writing style adds an element of mystery and intrigue.  I am also impressed that he treated the victims’ families with such respect in the book, and I believe he has great empathy for them.

I’ve always believed that Cary Stayner did not act alone in these murders, although he was the only one tried and convicted.  After reading Ultimate Prey, I am shocked and frustrated that justice has not fully been served.  I can’t even imagine what these families have been put through for all these years.

Ultimate Prey is also an opportunity for readers to experience vicariously the life of private investigators/bounty hunters.  While I knew what my big brother, Rick, was doing all those years, I tried hard not to think about it.  It was too hard.  Sanzeri showed me a piece of Rick’s life that is important to me — and it came after he’s out of that life so I don’t have to worry about it as much.

If you remember the Yosemite Sightseer Murders, or if you just love a good mystery, I highly recommend you buy a copy of Steve Sanzeri’s Ultimate Prey.

There is one thing I would say, however, as a reader (and a writer).  It is important that writers understand that very few people read in this country anymore.  Sad, but true.  Those who do read, have more of a reverence for books than they do for churches.  They handle newly printed books as if they were handling a new-born puppy.  They relish every word.  They are disappointed and disheartened when they open the book and discover printing errors.  Mr. Sanzeri, not to take anything away from your amazing book, but please oh please, fire your editor before your next book is in print. I think I counted 38 errors in the first 20 pages.  Almost every page has some sort of mistake.   To those of us who do read and who love books, that is akin to scraping your fingernails on a blackboard.

Great book, Steve, and I’ll be watching for your next one to come out.

If you would like to purchase the book, it is available in paperback, as well as Kindle at Amazon.com.  

http://tudierose.brandyourself.com/

Sacramento-Yolo Tower Bridge

Although I’m a transplant to Sacramento, California, I’ve lived here twice as long as I lived in my native Nevada.  Gosh, I’m getting old.  Well, whatever . . . .  At any rate, while I’ve never relished the hot Sacramento summers, I have always loved Sacramento’s natural beauty. My dad used to say that you didn’t have to be a “gardener” to have a green yard in Sacramento, all you had to do was turn on the water once in a while.  I think he was a little jealous after gardening in the desert for so many years.  He took great pride in turning over virgin soil, treating the alkali, and then actually growing something.

Sacramento also has some beautiful buildings.  There are beautiful old Victorian homes, old Crocker Art Gallery, the Sacramento Train Depot, and beautiful modern buildings, as well.  I have my favorite streets to travel — T Street, for example, where the tree branches stretch from one side of the street to the other.  Many years ago when I lived downtown, I used to love G, H, and 21st Streets because of the beautiful homes and lovely yards.  (I only travel downtown when absolutely necessary now because the City has clogged the traffic by taking out most of the one-way streets.)

One of the best assets this City has is Tower Bridge connecting West Sacramento in Yolo County to the capital city over the Sacramento River.  I remember voting on the color back in 2001.  We were given the options of burgundy, green, silver and gold, or all gold.  I voted for gold, and then almost immediately thought that was stupid because gold paint is probably much more expensive than any other color.  Looking back, however, the gold was a very wise investment — no matter what it cost.

I often sit in the stands at Raley Field watching the Sacramento River Cats play baseball, and look up at the sun setting on this beautiful bridge.  Even when the River Cats lose, my soul is given a rebirth from watching the sun glisten on this beautiful bridge.

Tower Bridge

Tower Bridge

I looked up the history on this old bridge.  It appears it was dedicated late in 1935 by Governor Frank Merriam, and apparently, it was the first vertical lift bridge in the California Highway system.  Since 1982, it has been on the National Register of Historic Places.  (Thank you Wikipedia for that information.)

I hope that Sacramento always takes pride in our skyline, and that we take care of the beauty, natural and man-made, that is here.  We are the bright spot in California life.

http://tudierose.brandyourself.com/

Inspiration to Write

Apple Hill Splendor

Apple Hill Splendor
I took this picture last fall when beauty surrounded and inspired me.

Now that I’ve set up a new blog under my pen name, Tudie Rose, I’ve begun to set up a whole new identity for myself.  I have a new Twitter account, @TudieRose, and a new Pinterest account under Tudie Rose.  It has been an enormous amount of work recreating myself, but it has also been very inspiring.  I didn’t expect inspiration to come from such a task.

As I began to “pin” new things on my new Pinterest account, I decided to find things “to inspire.”  It was interesting to see what I could find.  My old Pinterest boards were very practical in nature — you know, recipes, home decorating projects, household tips, etc.  As I compared my two Pinterest accounts today, they are completely different!  They really could be from two different people!  Tudie Rose is obviously the more creative side of me.

Looking at Tudie’s Pinterest boards, she is inspired by God’s gifts.  Flowers, birds, butterflies, and the ocean.  Tudie is sure to be adding many more boards that depict the beauty around her.  She is also inspired by lovely works of art — beautiful colored and hand-blown glass, milk glass — and she will be adding lighthouses and possibly barns.  She is inspired by good music and good books.

In the coming days, Tudie expects to be looking through those new Pinterest boards for inspiration for stories and articles.  She was filled with emotion as she pinned these awe-inspiring pictures.  Maybe Tudie needed to be reminded about the beauty around her.  She may sometimes takes for granted the lovely gifts around her.  This has been a good learning experience for Tudie.

I look forward to discovering more of the Tudie side of myself in the near future.  I’m filled with anticipation for the stories that will come from perusing pictures of such beauty in the coming days.

http://tudierose.brandyourself.com/

Joy is Contagious

Smiley Face

This has been the most wonderful day!  I spent the morning with my husband in the LDS Temple.  That alone makes it a joyful day.  Something else just topped off the pleasure like a cherry atop an ice cream sundae.

I sat in the celestial room of the temple and listened to a good friend tell me about the marvelous things that are happening in her life.  She has indeed been blessed the last few weeks.  I’m not at liberty to discuss the details, nor do they matter.  What does matter is the feeling I have in my heart for her.

Since leaving the temple all I can do is marvel at the great blessings that are coming to my friend, and I feel so happy in my heart.  I’m so grateful to my Heavenly Father that it is possible to find such joy in the happiness of others.  I’ve met people from time to time who can’t find joy in the happiness of others, and that is such a shame.  When blessings come to one person, they can come to others if others are willing to be the receptacle of second-hand joy.

“Who is the happiest of men?  He who values the merits of others, and in their pleasure takes joy, even as though t’were his own.”  —  Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

“Let us be grateful to people who make us happy; they are the charming gardeners who make our souls blossom.”  — Marcel Proust

Gratitude

Pink Rose B 8-4-12

Yellow Roses 8-4-12

Pink Rose 8-4-12

The last few weeks have been very difficult.  To say that I’ve been on an emotional roller coaster would be highly understating the matter.  In an attempt to find peace in my life, I’ve been looking for “daily gratitudes” — you know the little things that I should be showing gratitude for, but that often get overlooked in my day-to-day life.

The laundry hamper was full this morning, so I began to sort.  After 35 1/2 years of marriage and raising four children, doing the laundry is not my favorite thing to do.  As I sorted and tried to find a “daily gratitude,” it occurred to me that I could never be grateful for laundry.

I finished sorting and began moving baskets to the garage to start the first load in the washer.  There is a window over my washer which overlooks our backyard.  I looked up and saw the most beautiful pink and yellow roses, and my heart was full of joy!  As my life has been in turmoil, I’ve not spent a lot of time in my backyard.  If I had not done laundry, I would not have had that moment of pleasure.  Thinking of the roses made me joyful all day.

I’m grateful for laundry.

Al Clemmens, 33rd Troop Carrier Squadron

Al Clemmens

Al Clemmens

World War II veterans are disappearing at an alarming rate.  Many of their stories have not been told.  When they came home, they tried to move on with their lives as best they could.  I think it is a shame that so many stories have been left untold (including most of my own father’s story).  It’s too late for me to interview my Dad, but a friend of mine agreed to sit and talk with me the other night.

Al Clemmens 7-31-12

Al Clemmens 7-31-12

Interview with Al Clemmens, 33rd Troop Carrier Squadron

Al Clemmens lived in Fallbrook, San Diego County, California.  He was 19 years old.  His mother had previously passed away, but he left his father for the Army Air Corps (now the Air Force) in November 1942.  He was not married.  He was in primary flight training in Santa Ana, California; basic flight training in Merced, California; advanced training in Ft. Sumner, New Mexico; and troop carrier training in Austin, Texas.  In April 1944, he went overseas.  His first overseas base was Hollandia, New Guinea.

Al’s job was to fly troops and supplies where they were needed.  He flew all over the Philippines, New Guinea, and Australia.  He flew C-47 aircraft first, and later C-46 aircraft.  Al loaned me a book about the troop carriers in the South Pacific, which I am really enjoying.  The troop carriers were absolutely critical to the war effort.  The terrain is such that the only feasible way to move supplies, vehicles, and troops was by air.  These pilots flew with no weather reports and no radio contact.  The loads were heavy and often unbalanced.  They navigated by the seat of their pants.  Al said it is called dead reckoning, but he wishes they would find another term.

While he was still based in New Guinea, they sent Al and two other aircraft to Tacloban in the Philippines.  There was only one airstrip there.  They were so short of fuel that if an airplane came in that was low on fuel, they just pushed the airplane off the strip and into the bay to get it out of the way.  They needed the space to bring in more supplies.  I still am amazed at this, but it makes sense to move them if they didn’t have fuel to fly them.  Getting supplies and troops in was more important than saving the planes.

The three aircraft that had flown in from New Guinea had flown in empty.  Al said he couldn’t figure out what was going on.  There was a briefing about 3:00 a.m. with intelligence people, and these pilots were told where the Japanese fighters were, and they were told to go into Manila.  They were just starting to fight for Manila.  Intelligence didn’t know if Nichols Field in Manila was under control by Allied Forces or by the Japanese.   They were told to stay over the water and go in through Corregidor.  They were told they may have radio contact, to give it a try.  They were able to get in touch with Nichols Field.  They were advised what runway to use, but cautioned to land short because of snipers.  They landed short, but were still confused as to why they were going in with empty airplanes.

About 45 minutes later, they saw trucks coming down the ramp with people in them.  As the trucks moved closer, they could see that they were women.  Army nurses that had been captured on Corregidor and held as prisoners of war for 37 months had just been freed an hour before the planes landed.  In Al’s words, “They were quite a happy lot.”  They flew them back safely to Tacloban where there were 4-engine planes waiting to take them back to the United States.  One of the passengers that Al had in the group of nurses was a major.  A number of years later after the war, Al saw this Army nurse on the television program, “What’s My Line?”.

Al talked about the terrain they flew through in the Philippines.  He showed me a picture of an airstrip that was pretty much cut out of a mountain side.  As pilots landed, they actually traveled uphill about 300 feet.  If they overshot the strip, they hit the side of the mountain.  He talked about a couple of pilots that were killed on that airstrip.

The pilots would sometimes be told that there was a storm coming in, but they didn’t know when it was going to hit.  So they would fly until it was too dangerous and then wait out the storm.  He told me a story of one pilot who didn’t survive a storm.

One time flying into Manila, Al had about an hour and a half’s worth of fuel, and things were getting bad.  There was a fresh water lake, and then the terrain went up about 400 or 500 feet.  Towards Manila Bay, there was a radio tower that stuck up about 1,000 feet.  He had no idea where it was located.  He was at about 200 to 250 feet, just above the water of Laguna de Bay.  His co-pilot was a mechanic, and was very rattled.  He had about 28 passengers plus crew on board.  The passengers were obviously frightened.  He didn’t know what to do.  He gave a thought to ditching, but continued to circle around.  He knew pretty well where he was and what direction he had to fly to get where he was going.   The radio tower was still a mystery.  He knew he had about 25 minutes to get over to Manila Bay the way he was heading.  He figured he could try that way, and if that didn’t work, he had about 20 minutes to try something else.  He said a prayer.  He decided that the tower was out there somewhere, but he wasn’t going to worry about it.  In about ten minutes, he came right into the air field.  He told me that this was the occasion that he began to get his testimony that there is a God.  He said there is no other answer.  When he landed, he sat and shook for quite a while.  Eventually, he tried to stand, but his knees wouldn’t hold him up, so he sat about another ten minutes before he could move out of the plane.  He has always remembered that flight as a day when he had Heavenly help.

Al also flew people and supplies between the Philippines, Okinawa, and Japan.  When the war ended, he flew supplies into Japan.  He was in Tachikawa just outside of Tokyo.  He remembered the people staring at them.  It was obviously quite unnerving.  He talked about being on a train with everyone watching them.  Suddenly, it became very dark, and he realized they were in a tunnel.  It was obviously very scary.  They went through about ten tunnels, and he figured that each one was going to be his demise.  He said, though, that when the Japanese surrendered, they truly surrendered.  There was no attempt made to do harm to them.  While in Japan, they were told not to fly over the cities that had undergone nuclear attack because of the air quality.

After the war, Al flew for an airline that had started in Manila.  He really enjoyed that job, but the airline sold out to Philippine Airlines.  At that time Al was ill with fever, so he returned to the United States.  He worked for the telephone company for three years, and then flew for United Airlines out of Chicago for a year.  He spent 4 1/2 years flying for California Central Airlines out of Burbank.  Later he spent many years flying for the telephone company and PG&E to inspect their lines and cable right of way.

I’ve mulled this interview over for a couple of days.  I know that my Dad spent a good deal of time in the Philippines and New Guinea.  He talked about how short of provisions they were at times, especially fuel.  I can’t help wonder if one of those important supply drops that Al made possibly saved Dad’s life.  Maybe there was food, munitions, or replacement troops that came just as Dad’s unit thought all was lost.  Maybe he was my Dad’s guardian angel.  I don’t know that it’s true, but it is certainly interesting to think about.  I’m grateful for this soft-spoken, lovely gentleman, for his skills in the air, and his willingness to serve.  In a few weeks he will celebrate his 89th birthday.  Happy Birthday, Al!  We love you!

33rd Troop Carrier Squadron

33rd Troop Carrier Squadron