Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Grammy Thoughts

The Brother of Jared
by Arnold Friberg

I am just completing another study of the Book of Ether in the Book of Mormon. I love this book. It is a very abbreviated run through of from about 2000 years of history of a people. I love how the Lord led them to a promised land. Their journey across the ocean is such a metaphor for the Plan of Salvation. I have found that the light placed in my vessel - the light of Christ has seen me through some very remarkable times. Times when the waves were massive and would crash upon me with great force but I strive to keep myself "tight like a dish" fighting to keep the things of the world that will impair my spirit out of my thoughts and life. If you have ever seen a fowl upon the water bobbing up and down in peace, you can get the meaning of that image in the book.

Another aspect of the Book of Ether that I deeply value is the exposure of "Secret Combinations."  Truly this is a book written for our day. It answers questions like "Who is behind secret combinations?" and "How do secret combinations operate?"and "What is the over arching intent behind a secret combination? and "How do those who get fooled by the lies of a secret combination get caught up in the evil of the combination?" and "Can an immoral man do good for his country?" The story of Morianton has remarkable application today.

As you may know, I am an avid reader and student of history. Over the years I have learned how these things play out again and again. After all, the battle for the souls of men and the destruction of freedom began in the pre-mortal life and will continue throughout the ages of mortal life. As I have studied scriptures and biographies of everyday men and women as well as some not so everyday men and women who have been through very difficult days, I have come to appreciate more fully the truth of my personal freedom - a freedom I have received from a loving Father in Heaven who like all good parents has dreams for his children and desires for them to achieve every good thing and for them to receive every blessing of eternity. I have learned how to navigate through rough waters appreciating there is great purpose to the rough seas. Because of my free will choice to get on board, I will be steered to the promised land. I will be strengthened and enlightened throughout my journey. The reality is that my life has been and will be tough but there is great purpose to it all. I am a learning growing daughter of God with aspirations to become truer and truer with each wave that crashes upon me.

Please read the Book of Ether and share your insights with me. Be strengthened against the deceptions and pulls of the one who seeks to take you captive. Do not fear. Be faithful. Light your vessel with a light that will not fail. As you determine to have God guide you along, you will find peace amidst the trials and challenges you will face. You will know you are never alone. You will be able to endure the sneers of those who disdain or demean your views with confidence in prayers answered and guidance received.

I love you each and every one with a depth I am not sure I can express. I have dreams for you as you make your own ways forward. I yearn for your happiness. You are in my prayers and heartfelt thoughts.

Learn about the deceptive tactics of the evil one and be on guard. I have found time and again that when there isn't a clear way forward for me, Heavenly Father will give me guidance and direction often in a way quite contrary to what I expected. I have learned to not lean on the arm of flesh (especially my own) but to rely on the Gift of the Holy Ghost which is abundantly given. Sometimes I cannot see the full distance of the path before me but there is always the next step I can take.

I cannot overcome for you but the Savior can and will be with and by you if you so choose. And you can do all good and building and meaningful growing things through Christ who will never forsake his child. He knows you. He perfectly understands your struggles. He loves you with a deeper love than is humanly possible. Take your
clear "rocks" to the Lord and let Him touch them one by one that you may cross the great deep with light. 

Lead Kindly Light
by Simon Dewey

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

My Blog was lost so here we go again . . .

You may note that my blog is missing the many pictures it had. I lost the entire blog BUT thanks to one of my wonderful son-in-laws who archived it, I was able to retrieve the written word. Over then next couple of months, I will add the other four lost posts and begin the process of re-adding the rest of the pictures. I will then begin again to write my history in the hopes that it will be a blessing to my children and grand children as well as so many of you who have had such a remarkable impact on my life.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Two of Three Go to War, One Never to Return . . .

Grandpa and Grandma Smith's three sons, my dad Harry, my father David, and my Uncle Neil Lauritz Smith.

A few years back I was sitting with Claigh in the dollar theater in our St. Charles community watching the World War II movie "Memphis Belle." As a scene of a fierce air battle unfolded, they showed a young gunner sitting in the bubble under the rear of the plane. The plane was shot down. The tears flowed as I was filled with deep sadness and a small sense of just what my Uncle Neil experienced at the young age of eighteen. For the next few days, I thought of my Grandma Venice and Grandpa Havelock and wondered at their anguish when they received word that their boy was shot down over Germany.

On September 10, 1939, the Canadian Parliament declared war on the German Reich. World War II left it's mark on many families throughout the world. My Grandpa and Grandma sent two sons to war.

Harry Havelock Bills Smith III and brother Neil Lauritz Smith

The first of the brothers to enlist was Harry who enlisted in the Canadian Armed Forces July 31, 1943. He was soon followed by Neil who enlisted in the Royal Canadian Air Force on August 18, 1943. Underage but determined and with his father's permission, Neil made his way to Calgary. Only 17 1/2 years old, he was the youngest boy to enlist from Coutts. In a short seven months he received his wings and Sargent stripes. In April 1944 he left for Europe after a visit home to see his family. Harry was home during the same time. This would be the last Grandpa and Grandma would have their three sons together in this life. Neil served as the Mid-Upper Gunner in a Lancaster Bomber

My Uncle Neil's flight crew - In this photo, Neil is in the front row on the right.

Much to his dismay, Harry's service was more of a supportive role for those on the field of battle. Due to a severe case of Polio as a child, his arms were weak. He was only 5' 2 3/4" tall and weighed 190 pounds. While noting his weight and physical limitations, "determined", "thoroughly conscientious", "persistent", "can be depended upon", "an excellent chap", "pleasing personality", "straightforward", "cooperative", "first rate man", "intelligent", "thoroughly capable", "with much ability", "quite ambitious", "disappointed at his allocation [but] his attitude is excellent", "highly regarded by other men in his platoon" are direct quotes from various reviews in his military record.

In England Harry served for some time as a clerk before becoming a driver with the Army Corp of Engineers. While he was in areas that were bombed, he never saw battle. He did suffer night terrors recreating his experience "under fire" throughout his life. Dale reports that one time when he was playing with toy soldiers, creating bomb sounds, Dad told him just how terrifying it was to hear bombs falling. This was a rare admission by dad. We can remember his telling us often with a twinkle in his eye, "I won the Battle of the Bulge single-handed. When the Germans saw me coming over the hill, they died laughing." Like many of the men who went to war, he did not burden us with the horrors he saw.

Stationed at an airbase, Harry drove a large gravel truck. It was his responsibility to fill in bomb craters and keep runways in good repair. After Canadian forces liberated Holland, Harry was transferred to aid in the liberation of POW camps. He drove ambulance. He felt great concern that they avoid bumps and jarring due to the suffering of the ones they were transporting and the need to keep them as stable as possible. This was no easy task with the condition of the war damaged roads. Perhaps the most frightening experience Dad had during his war service was when his ambulance was separated from the main convoy. It all ended well but there were some tense moments before he made his way back to the camp.

The time in Europe made strong impressions upon dad. I remember him talking of devastated landscape, empty department stores, the starving people and the "black" bread that was tough to eat because of the un-milled seed. The soldiers were well fed. Dad could trade his cigarette rations for candy for the Dutch children or eggs for a German family he tried to help. While he did what he could, he felt the sadness of being able to do so little to alleviate the suffering. [For as long as I can remember, Dad and Mom were diligent in storing a years worth of food and supplies. This was not about hoarding but being prepared. And it was not about just being prepared for ourselves, but for any around us who had a need.]

In the meantime, November 16, 1944 found Neil's Lancaster in the skies over Düren, Germany. In one day the city of Düren was completely destroyed by Allied air bombings leaving approximately 3,000 residents dead. Casualties of the Allied forces were few. Uncle Neil's bomber was hit by anti-aircraft fire from the ground and crashed that day.

Just over a year later, Harry made his way by train to Düren in hopes of verifying his brother's death. It is possible that he had received a copy of a report issued in October The local Germans and possibly the American soldiers stationed there were very helpful and were able to guide him to the site. The plane had come down near a military barracks surrounded by flack guns. It is likely these were the guns that hit the Lancaster.

According to official reports, one body was left intact in the plane which was later identified as Sargent Leaman. It is unclear who buried the remains of the rest of the crew in three graves but it is believed that the graves were marked by American forces and reported to the British. Dad found some small bones and teeth in the wreckage and buried them along side the graves. He recorded numbers that were visible on parts of the wreckage to be used as identifiers. According to Mom, Harry tenderly set stones around the graves of the crew and spent quiet time alone reflecting on the loss of his younger brother. He took this photograph for his mother and father. Later the remains were removed to the Rheinberg War Cemetery in Germany. It wasn't until Jan 6, 1950 that the military confirmed that Dad had correctly identified the site.

While in Europe, Harry also located graves for two other Alberta boys, taking pictures for their families. I am confident this was a blessing to those grieving the loss of sons.

Harry was discharged 2 August 1946. He received the France and Germany Star, the Canadian Volunteer Service Medal with Clasp, and the War Medal 1939-1945.

War is such an ugly thing. The evil and lust for power that exists in the hearts of some will bring them before the judgment bar of a just God. They will be held to account for the destruction they cause. They will feel the full weight of the anguish they brought upon others. They will be left to themselves.

I am grateful for good men who give their all for the cause of freedom. Some like my Grandpa and Grandma sacrifice sons and daughters. Some lose brothers or sisters. Others lose fathers and mothers. Perhaps the greatest sacrifices are the ones made by brave men and women like my Uncle Neil. He gave away his future in a freedom fight for others.

As the world becomes darker and more distant from the God who created her, I too want to be on the front lines of freedom fighters. I may never face a gun battle but I know the fight with sin is real and I pray for the strength and guidance to meet each day strong in the cause of truth and liberty.

I pray none of my grandchildren will ever see war but if the cause is just and they must, may they will be armed and ready. I hope they live today becoming selfless men and women of honor. I pray are firm in the faith of their fathers as they grow in wisdom and spiritual power. May they ever stand firm in their individual places as ones who love God and his children and follow the example of the righteous Nephites and their worthy leader Chief Captain Moroni. [Alma 48]

There are times when we must face a fight. It is critical that we know when those times are and that we are prepared to stand with those who would defend the rights and freedoms of God's children wherever they are and in whatever circumstance they live. The greatest opportunities to declare freedom are in the opportunities to testify of the power of redemption through the Lord Jesus Christ. We must be in tune with the Spirit to know our place and our time.

To know the love of God is for me the greatest of blessings for perfect love casteth out fear. [1 John 4:18] Did Uncle Neil remember the love and the testimonies of his mother and father as he fell from the sky to his death? Did he feel the assurance that he was in the hands of God? I hope so.

I have confidence in a loving Father in Heaven and in my Savior Jesus Christ. I want my children and grandchildren to share in that confidence as they make their way through the challenges of life.

My favorite celebrate "freedom" Praise: