Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Missionary Peeps

When I was getting ready to go on a mission in 1975 there were eight guys from my ward going out within a few months of each other. The peeps from my ward were Doug Atkin, Charlie McKnight (Chile), Brad Bergquist (Austria), Alan Pulsipher, Ron January (Argentina), Alan Harper, Richard Lang (Oklahoma), and me. I had a couple of other peeps in the stake that included Bill Fouts and David Hollingsworth (France Toulouse).

Most young men who are going out on a mission have some young men in their ward or stakes that are their buddies or peeps or they pick up peeps in the MTC and especially on their missions. Before my mission I made friends with Doug Atkins. His father Claire lived in my ward. I knew him vaguely from Rancho High School but I never hung out with him because he was a year younger. He drove a Dodge Charger. We were both reporting to the Missionary Home on the same day on the 20th September 1975. He invited me to go up to Salt Lake City with him to take out my endowments. We drove to Santaquin, Utah where his mom lived. She was married to a Jerry Loveland. He was the Dolly Madison driver and representative for that part of Utah. I remember our cruising along at well over 110 miles per hour. I thought a couple of times we were going to bite the bullet but we got there in one piece. We took out our endowments in Salt Lake City. I went back with him a second time to report for our missions we stayed with his mom and his family living there. Due to my needing to be ordained an elder I was sustained in my home ward in North Las Vegas and ordained an elder and set apart as a missionary by Stake President Don S. Robertson in Spanish Fork, Utah which was unusual. After his mission I heard Doug was a sheriff down in Utah. I haven't heard from him for about thirty years. I wonder how his life is going.

I went with Bill Fouts in the Summer of 1975 to the Manti Temple. He was a character he had special purple scripture covers. The interior of was done in purple cloth and fur. His mother made him some wild purple scripture covers. He even wore wild purple shirts and suits with matching purple ties. He lived about a block from the chapel on Carey by a Pentecostal Church. We left Vegas at around 10 p.m. and drove until 5a.m. right through the LaSal National Forest. When we arrived in Manti it was one of those eerie stories. When we went in to the chapel there was just a few of us including a few elder workers. When we opened with a hymn it was mind boogling experience it sounded as though an angelic choir was singing. The volume was like the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. There couldn't have been ten people in the room but I heard this majestic choir singing. I figured I was hallucinating since we drove all night without sleep but I know what I heard it was one of those twilight zone kind of experiences right up there with the three Nephite stories.

After my mission I was the only one that was willing to hang out in the summer so Charlie McKnight and I went to Institute. He took a liking to Cynthia Utley the daughter of the Institute Director Dwight Utley. I had made friends with Charlie when we both went to BYU after our missions. We were both majoring in history so we had a few classes together. He roomed with Brad Bergquist but I hardly ever saw Brad. Charlie and I would discuss our papers and classes. Anyway in the Summer we were tight. Cynthia's best friend was this quiet girl named Andrea Irons. She was a gorgeous girl but it was hard to get her to open up. As a favor to Charlie I would ask out Andrea on a double date with Charlie and Cynthia. The interesting thing was that Cynthia later married a guy in my Y ward Rex. He wasn't even half as good looking as Charlie and he was a quiet sort of guy. I think he was from Idaho. I was Charlie's wingman when he met his wife Laurie Rose. We played Clue in her house for a young adult activity. I think he met her going to Institute at UNLV a couple of summers after our missions. He didn't look like much but he was a swell guy that was very bright. I lost track of Charlie when he went to work for the state department and through Reunion.Com was able to hook up with him last week after about fifteen years. He is living with his wife and three children down in Australia. He has a house still in the Las Vegas area and goes there on vacations.

Alan Harper and I ran in to each other at the Y. We kept in touch for a few years after our mission. I even had him and his wife over for dinner a couple of times. He was working in a herbal operation for a while. I haven't seen him since I left Provo twenty-one years ago. The thing I remember most about him that he was an awesome scripture chaser as a young man. He could open his scriptures within nanoseconds to any place in the scriptures. I actually worked one summer after our missions with him down in Bullhead City, Arizona. We were hired out of the LDS Employment Office to guard a Commonwealth Edison Plant that was on strike. It was fascinating as the peaceful strikers sit and talk with us. I only lasted a few weeks but Alan raked in the dough and lasted the whole summer. That was the summer I worked as a carpenter's apprentice for this guy who cut all his fire blocking with a chain saw. It was a hairy experience seeing that blade go by my foot as he cut the wood for the AC Ducts and fire blocks in the walls. We did about three houses a day. He taught me an interesting lesson one day asking me the geometric formula to build a false ceiling in a kitchen. When I couldn't figure it out Brother Chamberlain laughed and said I only have a high school degree and make a $1000 a week and you go to BYU and can't explain how to do something as simple as that. I was so embarrassed that I studied harder after that.

I noticed today that one of my home teachers at BYU Tim Sloan who was working on an MBA and with whom I used to swap missionary stories with was called to be a mission president. He was one of the best home teachers and helped me do a professional resume that I still use the remake on me. They showed me how to dress for success and turned me on to the book What Color Is Your Parachute. They also took me golfing. I noticed he lost much of his hair. I had to look a couple of times till I recognized him. I am sure he will be a powerful mission president.

Most missionaries will develop peeps that can last a lifetime. Staying in touch with peeps after your mission can bring back some of the best moments in your life. Mission reunions are a good time to see old peeps. I have been going to my mission reunions for over thirty years now. I love seeing old peeps and hearing how they continuing serving in the Lord's Church. Sharing a mission with companion or a friend that serves can give you a common experience to last a lifetime. Don't let careers and daily life rob you of peeps. They can be a real network and in a world where we are so busy it doesn't hurt to have friends. I still have one or two companions I check on from time to time.

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