Tuesday, January 27, 2009


OK, my tantrum is over and I am ready to continue my quest toward the annihilation of all joy found in blogs and their derivatives. Actually, I find great joy in my ponderings and writings so I guess the previous really isn't a true statement. The point is that I am back to normal (though slightly demented) mode in my entries for this site. And for those who are struggling, I say, practice makes perfect: keep reading and enduring and you will eventually find yourself converted (or brainwashed) by the style you now consider despicable.

Yesterday I found out that Joel has been named to the Academic All-State team for swimming. He was pretty excited and I must admit that I was very impressed that he could receive such an honor. That really says something for his efforts with schooling AND swimming. Way to go Goob. Now let's hope you can make it for Baseball!!!

In 1997, there were approximately 63,000 missionaries in the field, teaching the Gospel of Christ. Shortly after that, the Brethren asked that the bar be raised and the total number decreased significantly. During those earlier years, the number of missionaries who returned home for various reasons (indiscretions, homesick, physical or mental problems, lack of desire, etc) was equal to about 5% of the total missionary force (approx. 3500/yr). Today we have somewhere in the neighborhood of 53,000 serving missionaries all around the world but the number who are returning home early has increased to a number closer to 7% (approx. 3700/yr.). These numbers were shared in a stake conference and were given by one of the Brethren in a training meeting for mission presidents. When asked what reasons there were for the increase, one of the leaders indicated that they had also had the same wonder and decided to find out. After a long survey, the conclusion was that many of the missionaries who are coming into the field are lacking in one or all of the following areas:

  1. Physical Strength—they have not spent sufficient time working on their physical stamina and the hard hours and physical nature of the work that is done was too much for them. A lot of these missionaries have not worked at all and many have only had jobs or duties that required minimal physical activity.
  2. Mental Acumen—while every missionary is required to graduate from High School and be able to deal with a certain level of thinking, many have not spent the time that prepares them for the difficult study and effort needed to teach the Gospel. One thing that was found to be a great deterrent to mental strength was the abundance of video games played by many young men.
  3. Emotional Stability—sadly, a great portion of those who enter the MTC are leaving home for the first time. They have always had Mom there to take care of them and their needs (food, laundry, wake-up, etc) and when she is not around it is a hard transition. Most young men adjust eventually, but there are a number that never can make the change.

I don't know this for sure, but I suspect that if you were to look at the reasons for elders going home early during the days or the 60's, 70's, and 80's you would find the preponderance to be violations of mission/church rules and doctrines. My conclusion may be wrong and I can accept that…but the point of even mentioning this is to say that preparation is the key to success in anything we do, but especially missionary work. Thinking that one wants to serve but waiting until the final months of the 19th year is not sufficient preparation to be successful. And what a sad thing when one has not made arrangements in one's life to be able to serve the Lord as He has asked!!

Rather than pick on missionaries, it might be well for me to look at my own level of preparation. Have I really considered all that I need to do to be ready to serve in the Kingdom to my fullest? What is my understanding of the basic principles and doctrines of the Gospel of Christ? Have I done the things the Prophet has asked or am I procrastinating my day of repentance while I continue living IN the world and OF the world? Wow, maybe I'm not nearly as ready as I once thought I might be at this age. Better take stock and see where I am headed.

For those of you wondering, the plant shown as almost dead some months ago is still hanging on by a thread. It now only has two stalks and the leaves are just as droopy but the green is still there and so I keep watering, hoping for a miracle. I haven't had time nor money to increase my herd of plants but maybe come summer I will be able to invest.

Another entry has come to an end. I hope it hasn't been too difficult for you readers. I enjoy my time here and hope you do also. See you next time.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

A Short Post

Last week I asked my children if any of them actually read my blog and most answered in the affirmative. But more than one indicated that they felt my entries were much too long and difficult to read. There were too many words and not enough pictures for their liking. One even stated that their method of checking the blog was to look for one of their family members names and if none were there they went on to something else. While this seemed a little odd to me let me assure you that I AM NOT OFFENDED THAT MY OWN CHILDREN THINK MY BLOG IS BORING!!! After all, I teach high school kids and they say the same thing. So this entry will be short and will include a picture or two to satisfy those who are looking for something to look at rather than something to read. Maybe my feelings won't be hurt so much the next time I write and I can put a regular length entry for this week. That's all for this time. Be happy and remember to be good.

Here we have a drooling Matt with his Mom.

The DeMoux Family Picture (notice Bryce's defective eye)

Friday, January 16, 2009

My First Set of Lists

Ok, just for fun, I thought I would list some of my favorite things. This won't be a comprehensive list because I can't remember what comprehensive means. Many things will be left out and some that aren't really favorites might be listed but it will be a list that I have made. So here goes.

Things I like to eat:

  • Ice Cream—most any flavor but especially vanilla with hot fudge or chocolate syrup. But I hate the cheap brands because they have too much air and not enough flavor.
  • Shrimp—fried, broiled, baked, in things or fresh are wonderful. The fatter the shrimp, the better I like them. I'm not really a fan of the little ones they put in salads but I'm not really sure they are shrimp anyway. I suspect they are some fake thing like those fake crab meats you can buy.
  • More ice cream-- cause it is really super after eating some shrimp.
  • Mushrooms—fried, on pizza, sometimes raw (though this isn't my favorite way to eat them), in soup or casseroles. My only concern is the after effect.
  • Chicken Noodle Soup—Teresa makes homemade noodles and I love how thick and tasty they are. The soup part is pretty good also.
  • Burritos—really good Mexican food is fantastic. Teresa makes great burritos that rival any I have ever had at a restaurant. I used to think the very best came from the Red Iguana here in Salt Lake but I don't get there much anymore so they may not be as good as I remember.
  • Good Chinese food—not Panda (though that will do for cheap food) but food that is really Chinese. We used to go to a place on State Street (can't remember the name) that was excellent but we usually just go to Panda. If anyone has a good place to go, please let me know (and don't say Chinese Buffet cause I KNOW they use cats and seagulls for their meat).
  • Linguini with Clam Sauce—can't find this much anymore. Lots of places offer linguini but very few serve clam sauce anymore. Don't know why cause it is really good. Of course, most places want to put a thick Alfredo sauce on the pasta and I prefer the lighter, almost clear sauce (what is that called????)
  • Fresh Clams—I once ate a whole bucket of clams cause no one else at our table liked them. It was heavenly but I spent the night paying for the pleasure. This was a great example of actions and consequences.
  • Most vegetables—the only ones I can think of that I don't like are eggplant (horrible childhood experiences) and okra (nasty flavor). Most everything else I have tried is delightful. I even like cooked spinach and collard greens.
  • Corn on the Cob—nothing better in the summer (maybe it's the butter but I like to think it is more the corn).
  • Watermelon—Melissa disagrees but I think this is one of the greatest fruits God has created.
  • Tapioca—I know this is just 'frog-egg' pudding but I like the flavor. I also like the whipped cream that we put on top (even if it is Cool Whip).

Good Movies to watch:

  • The Hunt for Red October—one of the best Sean Connery movies ever. Lots of action and a great story.
  • The Outlaw Josey Wales—Clint Eastwood at his very best. Probably too violent for my likings these days but still a good western.
  • Silverado—the best of the modern western movies. Thankfully Kevin Costner was still a young actor so he didn't take the lead and mess things up.
  • Westerns—I grew up with cowboys and Indians so it's natural for me to keep that connection with my youth. Besides, the good ones always let the hero win.
  • Pride and Prejudice—I know, this is a 'chick flick' but it has a wonderful story and was well acted. And I'm not against any movie that has good acting and a good story.
  • Aladdin—Robin Williams made this a great movie. The story is a little lame but the comedic nature of the movie was excellent.
  • Toy Story (all iterations)—Woody and Buzz make good partners. The animation was top notch and the writing was very entertaining.
  • Waking Ned Devine, The Secret of Roan Inish—just had to put these in so my kids and wife would know that I continue to be a little warped.

Jobs I have held over the years:

  • Dishwasher—made $1.00/hr when I was in the 8th /9th grade. My dad was a cook at the same restaurant. The sinks were so deep I had to stand on a bucket so I could get to the dishes in the bottom.
  • Busboy--$.87.5/hr at the same place as above. They paid less per hour because we were supposed to get 10% of the tips the waitresses got. Didn't always word out that way but I was just a kid so they ignored me when I complained.
  • Paperboy—several times and none paid very well.
  • Construction—started in HS as a clean-up guy on construction sites. Also built highways while I was going to college.
  • Grocery Store Clerk—first job I really worked to get. I bothered the store manager for almost a year before an opening came and he hired me. I thought I was going to own my own grocery store so I would always have enough food but I found out it wasn't a very glamorous or fun business.
  • Shoe Salesman—a part time college job. I was assigned to sell women's shoes because it had the lowest margin and the full-time guys wanted to sell men's shoes. I ended up selling more than most of the full-time guys cause I could get the ladies to buy multiple pairs + socks and things.
  • Stock room worker in the bookstore—another college job that helped us make it through. Part of the deal was a discount on books and first choice of used texts.
  • Financial advisor—one of my favorite jobs before I became a teacher. Horrible hours (1pm-midnite, four days a week) but I enjoyed helping people take care of their money. This was the cause of 'the year without a dad' in our home.
  • Phone Technician/manager—longest duration for a job until seminary. Never really felt like I belonged but I was pretty good at it so I stayed. Finally realized that money wasn't the best part of a job.

Places I would like to go before I die:

  • Australia—seems like a very exotic place. I am especially interested in diving on the Great Barrier Reef. Don't know why but it sounds like a lot of fun.
  • Alaska—partly for fly-fishing but I have wanted to see what it might be like there. Canada was interesting but I imagine Alaska is a lot better.
  • Maine—haven't been to the east coast much. I see pictures of Maine and it looks like such a beautiful place. I think I prefer autumn but I would go anytime.
  • Hong Kong/Japan—the Orient has always been interesting to me. I would also like to go where I would be the tallest person in most any crowd.
  • The Moon—not much chance of this but we can dream can't we? With all the science fiction I have read is it any wonder I want to travel in space? I keep hoping for a travel company to start tours but nothing yet.
  • West Virginia—the original home of my ancestors when they joined the Church. I wonder if it is really as lush and beautiful as they describe.

That should be enough for today. I will try to add a few more lists as they become apparent to me. Its fun thinking about what I would include on each section. There are a lot of movies that I used to think would make my favorites but as I think about them they fall out of contention. The food list is really incomplete but I decided it would take too many pages if I kept going. I considered making a list of the favorite pets we have had but then I remembered that we never had any pets we liked. The fish always died and the others escaped when we weren't looking. Maybe I will work on some serious things for the future. Let me know how you like this and I will know whether to continue. See you round.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Stake Conference, etc.

I mentioned earlier that our stake was going through a leadership change. President Lynn Payne has been a wonderful servant to the Lord and our stake for the past 15 years (6 ½ as a counselor and 8 ½ as the president). His counselors were John Campbell and Bill VanWagoner and they also have been very faithful in their service. But as with all callings, the time has come for someone else to take the reins of the stake so Elders Bruce C. Hafen and Patrick Price were sent to make the requested changes. Early Saturday morning Elders Hafen and Price began interviewing the priesthood leaders (30+) of the stake to determine who the Lord would call to serve as the new stake presidency. The interview process took nearly five hours and then the brethren pondered and prayed about who should fill the position. Sunday morning we were called on to sustain the new presidency consisting of Dave Barker as president, Michael Jackson as 1st counselor and Steve Jensen as 2nd counselor. What an amazing process this is as we receive new leaders. There is not politicking, no campaigning and no climbing for position. Men who hold the authority of God pray and receive revelation that guides them to who should be the next leaders of the stake. And then the members of the stake are asked to sustain and support these new leaders for the next decade or so. This process would never work in the business world but it works very well in the Kingdom of God. I am so glad to be part of a church that can remain faithful to the precepts and doctrines of Christ without any wrangling or haggling for leadership positions.

As part of our conference, we were blessed to hear from the authorities assigned. One message I took from our training was a thought from Elder Hafen. He was talking about some of the things he has learned in his service in the Quorum of the Seventy. In one of their meetings, Pres. Faust was asked to make a few comments to close the meeting. He said to the brethren present, "your most important duty is to raise up a righteous posterity." Imagine that, instead of worrying about duties in their callings and administrative responsibilities, one of God's prophets advised these men to make sure their children and grand-children were raised in an environment of learning in the Gospel. Nothing is more important in our Church than the family and its protection. No wonder we respond so quickly to attacks on the sacred institution. It's one of the many eternal things we are privileged to participate in during mortality.

Last week there was a piece on the news show 'Nightline' that highlighted the opening of the new Draper Temple
I understand why the Church leaders want to take our message out in their own words because even with Elders Ballard and Cook trying to make things clear, the reporters still seem to have missed that the FLDS people are not part of our Church. And some of their comments seem to distort the truth about other parts of the doctrine of the Kingdom. Misunderstandings are rampant about what we believe and what we are trying to do in the world but I believe we will eventually be successful in our efforts. This is a sign of the power the adversary has over many of the souls of this world. He has the ability to cloud the truth and make that which seems good to be evil and that which is evil to be good. Nephi was right when he informed us of these things. Surely the Book of Mormon is inspired of God and serves as a guidebook through the challenges offered to the Church in the latter-days. Without a doubt, God has His hands in the workings of this organization and has prepared things so that we can work our way through the trials this life brings.

Sunday I am speaking in our ward and I haven't yet zeroed in on what my topic will be. There are so many things that I would like to share but I'm not sure which subject the Lord wants me to approach as I address the members. I suppose I can't go wrong if I choose one of the topics used in our last general conference but I'm not sure which would be best for our congregation. I hope I can come to some resolution of this dilemma before Sunday at 11:00 am so the folks in the benches don't hurt their heads as they sleep. Report later!!

Friday, January 9, 2009

Phat and Photos

I have always had a passion for ice cream and chocolate (go back a few entries where I express myself some about both) but I have noticed that as I grow older, my shadow grows wider. Not that I am obese or anything like that, but it is obvious that I am not the same boy my sweetheart married nearly 32 years ago. In those days there was a common concern amongst most of my relatives and friends that I might waste away if I didn't bulk up a little. After all these years of Teresa's good cooking and my insistence on frozen delights and products from the cocoa plant, there is a significant increase in my tonnage (or maybe just poundage) to the point that I have decided it is time to limit my intake of the two most delectable products on this green earth. Therefore, I am currently trying to change my habits and only allow myself one or two treats during the week so that there will be less of me the next time I make an appearance in a swimming suit or similar attire. There is also the slim chance that this effort, combined with my exercise program, will allow me to perform some of the manual labor around the home without the constant need for an oxygen tank at my side (jk). I have noticed that I do tend to get a little 'breathy' when I work hard so I am hoping there will be a change.

Actually, there is another reason for my efforts to improve my physical characteristics. Our insurance company, DMBA, has a program where we (Teresa and I) can earn up to $400 (combined) if we will follow a schedule they provide for us each month. They give us counsel on things we can eat so we avoid many of the more flagrant offenders in the healthy food area. For instance, they have challenged us to do away with sugared drinks like soda (which is pretty easy since Teresa doesn't like them so she doesn't buy them much) and they encourage us to eat fresh fruit instead of having a candy bar or ice cream. The taste isn't quite the same but the results on our bodies will be much better. We decided that this will be an easy to get some money for an anniversary bash next year. If they are going to offer free money, why not take them up on it.

There is a wall in my classroom that I dedicate to pictures of my family at the various stages of life. It starts with the wedding announcement for Teresa and me and progresses through each of our children to the present day (at least as much as I can smuggle photos out of the house). As we have added spouses and grandchildren, the space needed has grown proportionally, until the whole production takes about 10 feet of the side wall of my room. While it may seem a little prideful, I have found that is actually a good reminder to my students concerning the priorities we need to set in our lives. On a daily basis, they hear me teach and testify of the power the gospel has in the lives of people who choose to follow the Savior and His prophets. But my wall is a physical reminder of the rewards that come from living as we have been counseled. Seeing how two young 'whipper-snappers' started out as a couple and then witnessing the results of a life together, trying to do the best we can, my charges can see the consequences of seeking to be what God has asked us to be.

Many that come to my room are from homes where they have a parent missing or where one or the other has lost interest in the teachings of the gospel. Having something that represents what we are taught to do gives some of my students the courage to keep trying, even when what they want seems impossible to attain. It's not that we (Teresa and I) are perfect examples but it is that we are an illustration of people who have never given up trying. Through all the difficult times and the struggles that life has offered, we have not bailed out for our own selfish desires. If nothing else, I hope we offer hope that their own lives can be happier than what they see around them.

I believe I will go home now so I can be with my little wifey. She sure is a wonderful and patient woman. How else can you explain why she hasn't taken to a daily habit of beating around the head and shoulders for all my missteps? Thankfully she loves me with my 'warts'. See you next time.



Sunday, January 4, 2009

Fear and Service

Our stake is in the midst of a change in leadership and I have been thinking about how the Lord works in His kingdom to bless the saints. We are part of a very unique form of government as members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I can't think of another organization that goes about its business the way the Church directs things. This Saturday we will be visited by two men (Elders Hafen and Price) who have no direct association with anyone in our stake. They will spend a few hours meeting and considering the names of a group of priesthood leaders they know little about. Yet, when they leave on Sunday afternoon there will be a new Stake President called with two new counselors and the beginnings of a new leadership group that will stand for the next decade or so. And the wonderful thing about it is IT WILL WORK!!! There will be challenges for the new leaders and they will have to adjust their lives to meet the new callings but the end result will be that these men will become the foundation for the stake and will help many to find Christ and deepen their commitment to Him. Why does this work over and over again in the Church? I think the answer is found in the Doctrine and Covenants:

For thus saith the Lord—I, the Lord, am merciful and gracious unto those who fear me, and delight to honor those who serve me in righteousness and in truth unto the end. Great shall be their reward and eternal shall be their glory. And to them will I reveal all mysteries, yea, all the hidden mysteries of my kingdom from days of old, and for ages to come, will I make known unto them the good pleasure of my will concerning all things pertaining to my kingdom. Yea, even the wonders of eternity shall they know, and things to come will I show them, even the things of many generations. And their wisdom shall be great, and their understanding reach to heaven; and before them the wisdom of the wise shall perish, and the understanding of the prudent shall come to naught. For by my Spirit will I enlighten them, and by my power will I make known unto them the secrets of my will—yea, even those things which eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor yet entered into the heart of man.
(D&C 76:5-10)

Joseph and Sidney were in the process of asking some very specific questions concerning doctrines of the gospel and they had gone to the Lord for help in understanding what He would have them teach. What they received was more than they had ever imagined but it is exactly what the Lord wanted them to know. The same happens for us today. Elders Hafen and Price will come, fasting and praying, that they might know the Lord's will for the Granger Stake leadership. They will meet with some of the leaders currently serving and then will counsel with the Lord through prayer and listen for His answer as to who they should call to fill the callings available. And they can do this because they have prepared themselves through fear and service to the Savior and our Heavenly Father. Those are the two requirements God gives if we want to know His will.

To fear God is not to quiver and shake whenever we think of Him, but rather, it is to respect and reverence His name and the things He offers to us as blessings. When we treat the holy things He provides (scriptures, temples, leaders, the Spirit, etc.) as He intends, we are blessed to know Him in a way those who do not reverence Him can never experience. We become part of His 'inner-circle' and we are allowed to know things about His character and plans that cannot be shown to those who keep Him at arm's length. The more we honor Him and His Son, the more He can reveal to us concerning our own lives and the lives of those we are called to serve.

Service then becomes the fruit of knowing/respecting/fearing our Father in Heaven and His Son, Jesus Christ. In effect, we take the place of God and Christ as we learn more about Them and take Their image into our own countenances. That is what Mormon was teaching when he said:

Wherefore, my beloved brethren, pray unto the Father with all the energy of heart, that ye may be filled with this love, which he hath bestowed upon all who are true followers of his Son, Jesus Christ; that ye may become the sons of God; that when he shall appear we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is; that we may have this hope; that we may be purified even as he is pure. Amen.
(Moroni 7:48)

What we choose to do to bless the lives of others becomes the gauge by which we are measured in the eternities. It won't be enough to know what is true or to know who needs help, it will be necessary to DO something with that knowledge. And as we DO, we will be given a greater inheritance in the things God has to offer. One of the great things He has promised is a knowledge of things that are and were and are to be in this world. What more can we ask of Him than to be prepared in all things for the events this life will present to us.

One warning!! As Joseph and Sidney found, what God wants us to know may be much more than we feel we are prepared to understand. The truths we gain are given with the understanding that we will act upon them and use them to lift others to the same truth. Be prepared and know that you will never receive anything you are not capable of using to bless others. Such is the power of revelation in our lives and such is the gift we receive from God as we Fear and Serve Him faithfully.