March 8, 2017

Some Highlights in the Young Life of An Old Man

I found this document a few nights ago in things I think my Mother had saved for me that I obviously wrote during the summer of 1968. I’m not sure if it was a letter or what – maybe just a sort of personal history. But it does cover some highlights that I had planned to write about – so I’m adding this as a post, which now includes additonal related memories and comments about the events inside parentheses.

Vicki Hunt (second from left in front) Lee Hunt and Merrill
Hunt (left of woman holding baby) in "All in Favor."
I had a lead part in the stake play, "Up with Balloons” as the popcorn man; and a lead part as Ralph Smith in the North Jordan Third Ward play “All In Favor,” both these plays I sang in. I was a lumber worker in the North Jordan Ward play, “No Time for Skirts.”
At Westlake Jr. High, I took drama instead of mixed chorus because I needed to take a geometry class, which was only available during the same period as mixed chorus. (I was pretty upset because I still hadn’t had a chance to be in a choir with girls. Men’s Chorus in 7th and 8th Grade and even in 10th Grade.) Our Westlake drama class put on two school plays.
W. Lee Hunt (kneeling) in mystery "Drop Dead."
I played the part of a wealthy son in one of the plays, which was called “Drop Dead.”

I started in Cub Scouts just in time to be a Lion Cub and then went on into the Scout program. I got as far as a Star before I moved into Explorers. (I did, however, receive my Duty to God award.)
I attended two Explorer Conferences at BYU, one in 1965 and the other in 1967.
(I remember one of the highlights was hearing the LDS astronaut Jon L. Lind, who at the time had not made it to space. “For first Mormon astronaut Don Lind, getting to space took almost two decades of grueling training and patience.  As a small boy, Lind and his sisters loved to climb trees in his neighborhood in Midvale, Utah, shaking the branches and pretending they were in a space craft hurtling through the universe.  At that time, space travel was a feat only dreamed up in comic books and science fiction.  It
Back: Ralph Sharp, Bruce Sharp, Larry Bunkall,
Front: Steve Crump and W. Lee Hunt at Explorer
Conference at BYU 1967.
wasn’t until over 20 years later that the first men entered space in 1961.  After hearing the news, Lind—then a Navy pilot and Doctor of physics—knew he had found his calling.
Lind was accepted into NASA’s space program in 1966 where he underwent rigorous physical and mental training courses.  “Our training involved night-shifts at the local hospital emergency room to learn what to do if we had to perform emergency surgery in space,” Lind said.  “We learned survival skills in the Panamanian jungle, which we’d need if we landed far off course.  We also were taught graduate-level geology courses.”
Despite having completed his training, Lind had to wait another 19 years before entering space—the longest waiting time for any American in spaceflight history.  But Lind kept himself more than busy.  He continued working on NASA missions, serving as the director of lunar operations on Apollo 11 when man first walked on the moon.
Astronaut Don Lind spoke
at 1967 BYU conference.
Stan Bawden (patch over eye), Lester Mackay (left of Stan)
Warren Hunt (Explorer hat on), Steve and Danny Peterson
(in front of Warren), Bruce Sharp (bottom left) and
Dennis Paxton (bottom right).
Air Force planes inside hangar viewed from catwalk.
Lind’s own spaceflight finally came in 1985 when he boarded the Challenger for an eight-day journey to study the Aurora Australis. Many miracles surrounded Lind’s exploration into space, the largest being simply his safe return home.  Just nine months after his mission, the Challenger exploded 73 seconds after liftoff due to faulty O-rings, killing the seven crew members on board. Lind believes that a priesthood blessing he received before his flight protected
him and his crew from a similar fate as they hurtled through the earth’s incinerating atmosphere aboard that very space shuttle.  Full of faith and gratitude for the Lord’s protection, Lind said, “We weren’t more righteous or more deserving of the Lord’s help—those on the Challenger were good people—but it had been promised us.” From Mormons Who Pioneered the Space Program, by Danielle Beckstrom, Famous Mormons,
As secretary and historian of our Ward Explorers,
U.S. Air Force rocket at Hill Air Force Base, 1964.
I corresponded with Hill Air Force Base and twice arranged for our Explorers to stay overnight in the airmen barracks during the Christmas holidays. We toured the base and watched some training-type films in the barracks. (Remember, this was during the Cold War, so it was a big deal for us to get on the base and stay overnight. I took a lot of pictures and wondered if I would be in trouble for taking them. I think some of the films we watched were related to Cold War issues.)

Lena Newbold,
4th Grade at
Monroe Elementary.
Probably my earliest accomplishment was winning a book in third grade for being the first in my class to finish all the sets in the back of my arithmetic book. Toward the end of the school year, a race developed between Lena Newbold, representing the girls, and myself, representing the boys. We had to do each set without making a single error or we would have to do that set over again. (I was proud that I finished them all before school was out for the summer – and especially excited that the competition came down to me and Lena, one of the girls from my ward who at the time lived on 4300 West just down the street from us and who I liked –  though just from a distance. Besides, she was a couple of inches taller than me!)
Lee, Troy, Merrill, Warren, Rendall,
Trena at Smith Palmyra home, 1966.

While back in Pennsylvania in the summer of 1966, Merrill and I helped two missionaries by going visiting and helping with discussions. I went tracking with them, and Merrill baptized a man into the church. (The summer back in Pennsylvania was a major event in all of our lives, but I’ll write about that in another post.)

Though I was old enough to play Little League baseball, I was still young enough to play in the Minor League. I chose the Minor League, or I should say it choose me (because I didn’t have a lot of experience and because I was small for my age. I played catch, mainly because I wasn’t strong enough to throw the ball very far, too slow in the outfield and because with all the equipment on, I wasn’t afraid to catch the ball behind the batters. I ended up making the All-Star team, but I didn’t get to play in the game because I went to California with Grandma Butt and family.
In church athletics, our basketball and softball teams went to Region Tournament in 1964 (I was 14 and Merrill was the star at 16). We won the Sportsmanship Award in softball. In basketball that year, we won every game up to the last two in Region when they (people in charge) decided Russell Jones, who was almost our whole team, was too old.
Lee Hunt was named Most Physically Fit
of all the students in Coach Newton
Gym classes at Westlake Jr. High, 1965.
At Westlake Jr. High, I made the basketball team and played a total of one minute and 30 seconds during two games and made one of two foul shots for a total of one point in my school basketball career. (Part of the basketball story is connected to the basketball coach, who was my gym teacher. He saw me play a lot, even commented once that I looked like Jerry West – NBA All-Star for Los Angeles Lakers – as I dribbled down the court in and out around the other players. The truth is I became pretty adapt at dribbling and avoiding trips because I didn’t want to fall and get hurt. But the coachfelt I was just too short and not good enough for the team. I pressed him – especially after I was named “The Most Physically Fit” in all his gym classes because I was able to do more pushups, sit-ups and running (overall) than any of the other kids in his gym classes. He posted our pictures on the bulletin board for everyone to see. He finally relented and let me be on the team. Me and Neal Hendrickson were the grants on the team!
Even though I didn’t get in Mixed Chorus as a ninth-grader, that school year was a special time for me. I relished the warmups before the home games. I could jump quite high for as short as I was, 5’ 4 ½”. I could almost tough the rim and could easily reach the netting. A lot of times when doing layups in the warmups, I would dribble the ball toward the basket and, without traveling, take the ball around my back from my left hand to my right hand and make the layup. I have no idea if anyone noticed, but I was stoked about it. I was always trying to impress the girls – one way or another.
Danny Carroll, top left, Bryant Hansen, top 2nd from right,
W. Lee Hunt, top right, Larry Bunkall, bottom left, Kay
Blackwell were managers for Granger football team, 1967-68.
As a sophomore at Granger High, I was the head manager for both the sophomore basketball and football teams. I was a manager for the Varsity football team and a junior, and was the Head Manager for the Varsity football team as a senior, the first year that our school team went to State.
(Though I didn’t make the school basketball teams at Granger, I had a lot of fun playing church ball – when I wasn’t recuperating for this or that injury. My senior year of church basketball was the best. My girlfriend at the time came to some of my games, and I played my heart out. In fact, that was the year I was named to the stake’s All-Star basketball team and played the game against the best youth players in the stake.)

(In seventh grade at Kearns Jr. High, I found that my voice had changed dramatically after signing up for Boys Chorus. Though I could still sing really high, I now could sing really low – in fact the lowest of any in the chorus.) I sang “Swing Low, Sweet Chariot” in a quartet during an assembly. The next year, (we had to bus to Brockbank Jr. High in Magna and, instead of being in a mixed chorus at Kearns Jr., I was again in Boys Chorus. During the one year there, my musical “prowess” expanded as) I sang my first solo in a school assembly, singing “A Fella Needs A Girl." That year I also sang "There's Nothin’ Like A Dame" in a double quartet with all ninth graders during a girls-only assembly.
The 1967-68 Granger High School Madrigals.
As a ninth-grader at the brand-new Westlake Jr. High, I made the Mixed Chorus, but I had to take an advanced class in Geometry, which was at the same hour as Mixed Chorus.
As a sophomore at Granger High, I was again in the Boys Chorus, but Norman Wendal made me the class secretary. As a junior I made history as being the first, and probably the last, male secretary of Junior Choir. We, the officers worked together to plan all the activities.
My senior year was full of joyful singing as I made both Concert Choir and Madrigals, and for the tops in my singing years I also made the All-State Chorus.
Lee Hunt and fellow Madrigal Vickie
Warburton after a performance.
A few places where we performed included: KBYU television, Madrigals; Channel 7 television, Concert Choir; BYU formal dance, Madrigals; PTA at Harman’s Cafe, Madrigals; Downtown Mall and Cottonwood Mall, Concert Choir. Madrigals and Concert Choir performed at many wards, including our final one at Principal Moroni Jensen’s ward; Primary Hospital and University of Utah Hospital, Concert Choir; Seminary Graduation, Madrigals; and School Graduation, Concert Choir; Skyline High School along with Skyline of Utah and Skyline of Idaho; state Capital and City Hall, Concert Choir.
(My senior year was a whirlwind: Madrigals, Concert Choir, sports editor, football manager, ALM president, Lancer Roundtable, church basketball and a steady girlfriend. I don’t think I could have had a busier or more fun time! Every one of the Madrigals became friends: Bruce Targgart, Claudia Albrechtsen, Robyn Barker, Terri Rogers, Mary Steffensen, Norbert Bench, Rick Schow, Duane Lambert, Garth Hardy, Carol Linton, Laurel Swensen, Cheryl Nickelson, Bryant Hanen and Vickie Warburton. Those were really good times. The best of my singing days – for sure!
Lee, wearing his Granger letterman's
sweater, poses with Vickie in 1968.
One of the highlights and the lowlight of my senior year was when the Madrigals went to a late night-early morning bowling party on a Friday night. I was so tired when I got home that I quickly asleep. But not more than an hour later, Dad woke me up and told me I had to get up and get the work done in the yard. Work on a Saturday was a ritual around our house. Unfortunately, I fell back asleep, and a little bit later he woke me up again and told me just because I was out partying all night, I still needed to get up and get the work done! I couldn’t believe he was pushing me that way. However, I made the mistake of falling asleep again. When he came in the 3rd time, he warned me that if I wasn’t up and out working by the time he got back (from somewhere), I wouldn’t be going to that dance in the evening. I really thought that was ridiculous – and I turned over and went to sleep again.
Warren M. Hunt in 1963.
Remember, it wasn’t too long before this that he stopped using a belt on Merrill and I and stopped spanking us. Of course, Merrill was long gone now – he married Vicki Kershaw in December of 1966, just out of high school. After he stopped using the belt and spanking, he resorted to threats – and “Do You See My Eyes Turning Green?” That was a warning that Hell was about to break loose.
Well, I was a slow learner. Besides, I never thought he would follow through on the threat. Well, when he got home and I still wasn’t out working, Hell broke loose – and he told me that no matter what I did the rest of the day, I wouldn’t be going to that Prom.
I was shocked, angry, and also upset with myself that I didn’t get up! Having to call Vickie and tell her I couldn’t go with her to the Girls Pref was terrible. She was really upset, too. I’m sure she had spent a lot on getting ready. What a blow between the eyes!
That was the only time I was ever asked out to a Girls Pref – and I didn’t get to go!
Aside from that ordeal, I was on top of the world that whole year! By the time graduation rolled around, things were looking bright – I was going to BYU as a football manager, I was following my dream of journalism and newspaper writing, I was going to go on a mission, and I was confident that I had found my soulmate. But some things do change!)

W. Lee Hunt in Cap and Gown with Honor Society Sash
during Graduation Ceremony at Granger High, 1968.
I graduated from Granger High School on June 4, 1968, and graduated from the Granger Seminary in 1967 after my third year of seminary, and again in 1968 after completing my fourth year. I also graduated from Primary in 1962.

I received a certificate of achievement in typewriting at Westlake Jr. High for doing more than 40 words per minute in five-minute trials three times. (Taking that type class was a major smart move on my part. Everything report in high school and college was easier because I was a good typist. Then I ended up in journalism and as a copy editor, which means I’ve been typing almost all of my life. Of course, at the time, I took the class partly because of all the cute girls in the class!)
Near the end of my Junior year, I was nominated by my history teacher, Mr. Carl Patterrsen, who was a state legislator at the time, to be a Granger delegate to Utah Boys State. (However, another classmate basically nominated himself, and American Legion selected him along with several others to attend. I was disappointed, but I was way too busy my senior year to really think much about it.)
As a Junior at Granger High, I became a member of the National Honor Society and graduated as a member.
Amazing group of leaders: two Winders and a Kimball.
Coach Paxton was our ALM counselor and Merrill's coach.
Toward the end of my Junior year at Granger, I decided to join the race for the Presidency of the Associated Lancer Men, which covered all the males at the school. (Because of my friendships that I had made as a football manager, choir member, and newspaper sportswriter, I felt I might have a chance. I felt the field was actually pretty weak that year. I remember Mom and especially Troyleen, my little sister, helping me with some posters. My campaign slogan was: “Hunt for The Best,” which was a play on the Hunts catsup, tomato sauce and paste ads, which had started running around the time I was born – 1950. We used pictures of Hunt tomato products on the posters and even had football jocks do a skit with them adding Hunts Catsup on their burgers and touting the slogan “Hunt for the Best” as they ate their burgers during the pre-election assembly. The skit was a big hit, and I was elected president.
During the following year,) our Lancer Men Association sponsored the Beard Contest, Deer Hunting Contest, and an assembly titled “The Affair of the Lost John Key.” On all these projects, we made money, and the audience liked the assembly. As President of the ALM, I was also a member of the Granger Roundtable. I have received a $300 Scholarship for Outstanding Character and Leadership from Brigham Young University. Also, I was contacted by BYU Football Coach and offered the opportunity to be Freshman Football Manager. I will be leaving to go down to BYU for varsity practices on Aug. 30th and will have my room and board paid for the quarter by the football program. (The football program ended up covering my room and board through the first two quarters, through December.)
I have received four individual awards from the church. I had over 90% attendance at Primary.

(During my sophomore year at Granger High, my English teacher complimented me on my writing, though she was critical of my spelling and grammar. It was she who suggested I should take my talents to the school paper. I took her advice and Mrs. Maxine Hill, the journalism teacher and adviser for the Tri-Color-Times, brought me into the fold and made me the sports editor and sportswriter, which I suppose was a no-brainer since I was so much into sports, including being manager of the football team.) I became the sports editor for both my Junior and Senior years on the school paper.
W. Lee Hunt interviewing Hollywood Star
Robert Redford at BYU conference in 1967.
During the summer of 1967, before my senior year, I attended the Special Courses and Conferences in Journalism at BYU. I was chosen by Steve Hale of the Deseret News to be the Managing Editor of the paper that we put together called “The ONE TIME WONDER." A girl and I interviewed the Broadway and Hollywood actor Robert Redford, who bought New Haven in Provo Canyon. (He later purchased the resort that was to become Sundance Ski Resort.)
The interview became the lead story on the front page of our one-time conference paper. (I actually hadn’t heard of Redford before the interview, but all the girls were thrilled to even be in the same room with him. He had recently starred in “Barefoot in the Park” in 1967, and would soon take off in Hollywood with “Downhill Racer,” “Butch Cassidy (Paul Newman) and the Sundance Kid (Redford),” and “The Sting,” also co-starring Paul Newman. The funny bit for me that day was the fact that when we entered the room he was seated on a folding chair and never rose during the whole time we were there. Might it have something to do with his short stature, especially compared to the tall young reporter who was going to be among those interviewing him?)
I also attended the 31st and 32nd Annual Utah High School Journalism Conferences, and I received a Certificate of Merit at the Sportswriters Clinic at the University of Utah.

February 22, 2017

Oh, That I Were An Angel -- In My Dreams

   Well, I feel compelled to share an amazing dream I experienced early this morning! (June 11, 2016.)
   Nancy has been on my case the last couple of weeks – or so – because I’ve been watching a lot of Kung-Fu type movies and war movies, including 13 hours. So you might expect that this amazing dream would be so related. But, nope, pretty much just the opposite.
   I wish I could convey the whole feeling of the dream, but it was inspirational and peaceful.
   I was with a man and his wife and their daughter (it felt like they were my relatives), but I didn’t recognize them. Because I can’t remember the exact details, I’ll need to do some dream interpretation here: I was trying to explain to them how we build our spiritual lives step by step, principle by principle. Some have their spiritual lives built higher than others, but we need to be building our spiritual edifice as a family. I was talking to them about how we gain a testimony about a certain principle and how that then becomes part of our foundation and edifice, and we build upon that.
Angel Moroni atop Star Valley LDS Temple
 (Jerel Olson Photography)
   Then we look down and see how much we have built and say how could I have built so much, and I replied that we didn’t do it ourselves. God has done most of the hard labor (the Atonement). He has seen our efforts and has glorified our efforts and has helped us build – more than we could ever do ourselves. His Grace is like that.
For me, the most profound feeling was that I was singing all of this and praising our Father in Heaven as I taught them. The dream really was a powerful musical.
In fact, it was like Moroni and his trumpet sounding to the whole world the Everlasting
Salt Lake Valley looking south from above the State Capital.
Gospel, but instead I was singing. I have never song as strongly and as powerfully as in that dream as I taught them.
    I could feel that the couple in the dream understood that they needed to work together as a family to build their Eternal Family – step by step.
   Then it was as if I was taking them on an airplane ride above the Salt Lake
Valley, but there was nothing obscuring our view straight down as we saw the beautiful Salt Lake Valley all green and vibrant – as if after a late-spring rain. Then I’m thinking that maybe we were actually flying (as in angels) because of the unobstructed panoramic view. And the feeling was glorious and spiritual. There was no fear that we were going to crash, like in most of my dreams.
   Then Nancy woke me up! But instead of being mad about being awakened during such an amazing dream, I was happy that I had had such a marvelous experience – and feeling the Marvelous Work and Wonder!

February 4, 2016

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints announced today a new research data system: Early Mormon Missionaries.

  I had fun searching for ancestors who might be listed.

I found three listed:

My ancestor Samuel Walton Utley, the grandfather of my grandmother, Ethel Sophia Utley Hunt, had a brother, Little John Utley Jr., who served a mission in Alabama.
Tuscaloosa, Alabama
Tuscaloosa, Alabama
Start Date: 1844
Mission type: Other
Marital Status: Married
Called From: Alabama
Notes: Per JH: "Little John Utley reported the Boquechetto Branch at a conference held in Tuscaloosa County, Alabama, April 12, 1844.."

My direct ancestor Harrison Burgess, who is the grandfather of my grandmother, Ethel Sophia Utley Hunt, served a mission in Ohio and other states.
Ohio, other states
April 1836–Unknown
Age Called: 21
Ohio, other states
Departed From Home: 18 April 1836
Marital Status: Married
Priesthood office: Seventy
Priesthood: Seventy
Notes: Mission information: Journal history of the Church 1896-2001 Apr 18, Sept, 1836. Office: Seventies List A-F, pg. 55-56. Family information: FamilySearch

My ancestor Jane Gadd, who is the great-grandmother of my father, Warren M. Hunt, had a brother named Issac Chapman Gadd. He, along with Jane, and four other siblings, and his mother, Eliza Chapman Gadd survived the Martin Handcart Company ordeal. His twin brother, Daniel, along with his father, Samuel Gadd, died on the trail to Utah. Issac later served a mission to Britain, his homeland.
April 1884–Unknown
Age Called: 29
Great Britain
Set Apart: 10 April 1884
Priesthood office: Seventy
Quorum: 71st
Priesthood: 71st Seventies
Called From: Nephi, Juab, Utah, United States
Set apart by: A H Cannon

January 21, 2015

Good man and a friend beats me to the other side!

The picture is of the float that I helped John and Paula
build in their driveway in West Jordan. Paula carved
the dog from foam! Good times! JD Rogers, Tim Loomis,
me and Jason in photo.
The world lost a very good man on Jan. 18, 2015. I came to know him during my family’s 20-plus years in West Jordan.
Everyone who knew John Graves, knew that being with him was always special – and usually fun – and if at all possible it involved sp
orts, whether it be basketball, volleyball or softball. 
My first recollections of John and his super wife, Paula, was when Nancy and I and the kids had just moved into our house about a block east of the Graves Place.
Nancy and I wanted to lay sod on our huge side yard and back yard, and they helped gather a bunch of the neighbors who worked all day to lay the sod. He was a dynamo.
Later, I loved being John’s ward basketball coach. He was always patient with me despite my short-comings!
Then in 1989, he and Paula really came to my rescue when I was asked to spearhead building a float for the stake for the 24th of July Parade. I still have a couple of pictures of us working together on the thing – plus one of the two awards we received! Paula has the other. John seemed to know how to everything – or knew someone who had the tools and knowhow to do the things he couldn’t do!
As a fellow ward member and as a friend, he was always willing to help! 
His biggest challenge – as far as our family is concerned – was probably getting our three boys in line! The thing is, he was always their friend and never gave up on them!
I really regret getting too busy with that second job and missing out on the good times with John and his family! Especially I miss hearing the stories he had about his missionary work in the Inner City and in West Valley.
Despite his battle with Crohn’s Disease, John enjoyed life and didn’t pity himself. He made me feel that despite the challenges that life had thrown my way, I didn’t need to sit around and whine and complain. He was a true disciple and an example of keeping our focus on God, family and all our brothers and sisters.
One of the things John and I share was a firm belief in the hereafter – in the Resurrection – and I know that not too far down the road I’ll be meeting up with him and he’ll give me his famous friendly grin and a bear hug! But, of course, then it won’t hurt my ribs!
Thanks John for being a friend to me and to so many of Heavenly Father’s children!

September 20, 2014

Atonement and Plan of Salvation

   Nancy and I were asked to speak in our Webb City Sacrament meeting on Sept. 14, 2014. 
As I prepared the talk, I kept wanting to focus on some issues that I've encountered from others recently.
Here's the talk (Click on gray lettering for link to original material; art added for blog post.):

     In April 1999, Elder M. RUSSELL BALLARD of the Quorum of the
Twelve, said: “Too many of our young men and women are succumbing to the pressures imposed by a world saturated with evil messages and immoral behavior. Lucifer is waging a vicious war for the souls of young and old alike,
and the casualty count is climbing. The standards of the world have shifted like the sands of a windblown desert.
"Like the sands of a windblown desert"
That which was once unheard of or unacceptable is now commonplace.
(And, remember, he said this 15 years ago!)
   “The world’s perspective has been so dramatically altered that those who choose to adhere to traditional standards of morality are viewed as strange, almost as though they must justify their desire to keep the commandments of God.
   “But one thing is certain: the commandments have not changed. Let there be no mistake about that. Right is still right. Wrong is still wrong, no matter how cleverly cloaked in respectability or political correctness.”

The world today wants it all, and right now but doesn’t concern itself with the idea of consequences.
Don’t burden me with all the rules that burdened my parents. Preach to me of the easy way to heaven – if there be a heaven!

In 2 Nephi Chapter 28, it states: “And there shall also be many which shall
say: Eat, drink, and be merry; nevertheless, fear God — He will justify in committing a little sin; yea, lie a little, take the advantage of one because of his words, dig a pit for thy neighbor; there is no harm in this; and do all these things, for tomorrow we die; and if it so be that we are guilty, God will beat us with a few stripes, and at last we shall be saved in the kingdom of God."

How many will be saved? 10,000? 100,000? If we believe what most churches teach today, then all that profess a belief in Christ will be saved. Most all churches lead to Heaven – and all roads lead to Rome!

There was a time when we had to make a choice between having every one of God’s children being saved and potentially losing more than one-third of them.

Lucifer and his followers wanted salvation to come automatically to all who passed through mortality, without regard to individual preference, agency, or voluntary dedication.

In the Book of Moses, Chapter 4: it says: “Satan … is the same which was
Great Council in Heaven where
Lucifer and Christ
presented opposing views.
from the beginning, and he came before me, saying: Behold, here am I, send me, I will be thy son, and I will redeem all mankind that one soul shall not be lost, and surely I will do it; wherefore give me thine honor.
2 “But, behold, my Beloved Son, which was my Beloved and Chosen from the beginning, said unto me—Father, thy will be done [I vote for your plan, the eternal plan, the one that teaches us to become Eternal parents, and then the Beloved Son said] … and the glory be thine forever.”

Then warfare ensued: Brothers and sisters fighting against brothers and sisters.

In Revelation, Chapter 12: “And there was war in heaven: Michael and his angels fought against the dragon and his angels... And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him."

How many suffered the consequence of their rebellion?
1/3 of the host of Heaven!

But we who are here today fought on the right side – we chose to support God and His Plan of Salvation, and we chose to support Christ’s role as our Savior!

Freedom of choice even in pre-earth life.
We have and always will have that Freedom of Choice!
And Freedom of Choice is crucial to learning how to become like our Father in Heaven – and learning how to be Eternal parents!

As part of the Atonement, Christ’s resurrection gave all mankind the gift of resurrection, but many Christians get confused about the second part of the Atonement, how Christ makes it possible to conquer Spiritual Death, which is our separation, physically and spiritually, from God.

In Alma Chapter 5, verse 21, it says: “…there can no man be saved except his garments are washed white; yea, his garments must be purified until they are cleansed from all stain, through the blood of him of whom it has been spoken by our fathers, who should come to redeem his people from their sins.” [from their sins, not in their sins]

In April 2004, Elder BRUCE C. HAFEN of the First Quorum of the
Elder Bruce C. Hafen, 2004
Seventy, said: “…We are God’s spirit “offspring,” sent to earth “innocent” of Adam’s transgression. Yet our Father’s plan subjects us to temptation and misery in this fallen world as the price to comprehend authentic joy. Without tasting the bitter, we actually cannot understand the sweet. We require mortality’s discipline and refinement as the “next step in [our] development” toward becoming like our Father. But growth means growing pains. It also means learning from our mistakes in a continual process made possible by the Savior’s grace, which He extends both during and “after all we can do.”

“… His plan is developmental — line upon line, step by step, grace for grace.

“So if you have problems in your life, don’t assume there is something wrong with you. Struggling with those problems is at the very core of life’s purpose. As we draw close to God, He will show us our weaknesses and through them make us wiser, stronger. If you’re seeing more of your weaknesses, that just might mean you’re moving nearer to God, not farther away.

“One early Australian convert said: 'My past life [was] a wilderness of weeds, with hardly a flower strewed among them. [But] now the weeds have vanished, and flowers spring up in their place.'

“We grow in two ways—removing negative weeds and cultivating
Yank weeds out by their
roots, repenting fully.
positive flowers
. The Savior’s grace blesses both parts—if we do our part. First and repeatedly we must uproot the weeds of sin and bad choices. It isn’t enough just to mow the weeds. Yank them out by the roots, repenting fully to satisfy the conditions of mercy. But being forgiven is only part of our growth. We are not just paying a debt. Our purpose is to become celestial beings. So once we’ve cleared our heartland, we must continually plant, weed, and nourish the seeds of divine qualities....

“We need grace both to overcome sinful weeds and to grow divine flowers. We can do neither one fully by ourselves. But grace is not cheap. It is very expensive, even very dear. How much does this grace cost? Is it enough simply to believe in Christ? The man who found the pearl of great price gave “all that he had” for it. If we desire “all that [the] Father hath,” God asks all that we have. To qualify for such exquisite treasure, in whatever way is ours, we must give the way Christ gave — every drop He had!
“How exquisite you know not, yea, how hard to bear you know not.” 

“…This earth is not our home. We are away at school, trying to master
We're away at school, trying to master
lessons of the great plan of happiness.
the lessons of “the great plan of happiness”
so we can return home and know what it means to be there. Over and over the Lord tells us why the plan is worth our sacrifice — and His.
   “Christ’s Atonement is at the very core of this plan. Without His dear, dear sacrifice, there would be no way home, no way to be together, no way to be like Him. He gave us all He had. Therefore, “how great is his joy,” when even one of us “gets it” — when we look up from the weed patch and turn our face to the Son.

“Only the restored gospel has the fullness of these truths! Yet the adversary is engaged in one of history’s greatest cover-ups, trying to persuade people that this Church knows least — when in fact it knows most — about how our relationship with Christ makes true Christians of us.

But … “some people want to keep one hand on the wall of the temple
One hand on the wall of the temple ...
while touching the world’s “unclean things” with the other hand. We must put both hands on the temple and hold on for dear life.

“The rich young man had given almost everything. When the Savior told him he must sell all his possessions – that wasn’t just a story about riches. We can have eternal life if we want it, but only if there is nothing else we want more….”

In Alma, Chapter 22, Aaron teaches King Lamoni’s father (who was the
King Lamoni's father greets
Ammon and Lamoni.
king of all the Lamanites) about the Creation, the Fall of Adam, and the plan of redemption through Christ. And the king and all his household were converted.

In that conversion story, the King prayed to God: “O God, Aaron hath told me that there is a God; and if there is a God, and if thou art God, wilt thou make thyself known unto me, and I will give away all my sins to know thee, and that I may be raised from the dead, and be saved at the last day.”

We must give away all that draws our attention away from our Eternal goals.

In Luke Chapter 9, Verse 23, it says: “…If any man will come after me, let
A man came to Jesus and asked,
“What must I do to inherit eternal life?
him deny himself [of his worldly desires], and take up his cross daily [not just once, or occasionally, but daily], and follow me.”

We must hold on to the rod – the word of God. We must focus our attention on our eternal goals and keep climbing – despite our setbacks!

We must pitch our tent facing the temple!

Is our tent pitched facing
temple -- facing God?
In Mosiah Chapter 2, Verse 6, it says: And they pitched their tents round about the temple, every man having his tent with the door thereof towards the temple, that thereby they might remain in their tents and hear the words which king Benjamin should speak unto them.”

Understanding the Atonement and making the atonement part of our lives is walking the straight and narrow path that leads back to God’s presence.

Lehi's Dream of Tree of Life
and path leading to the tree.
In 2 Nephi, Chapter 31, it says: “And then are ye in this strait and narrow is the path which leads to eternal life; yea, ye have entered in by the gate; ye have done according to the commandments of the Father and the Son; and ye have received the Holy Ghost, which witnesses of the Father and the Son, unto the fulfilling of the promise which he hath made, that if ye entered in by the way ye should receive.

 “And now, my beloved brethren, after ye have gotten into this strait and narrow path, I would ask if all is done? Behold, I say unto you, Nay….
“Wherefore, ye must press forward with a steadfastness in Christ, having a perfect brightness of hope, and a love of God and of all men. Wherefore, if ye shall press forward, feasting upon the word of Christ, and endure to the end, behold, thus saith the Father: Ye shall have eternal life."
[which is Exaltation in the Celestial Kingdom -- the life that God lives.]

The path is not broad! And there is only one path!

So how does Christ, our savior and mediator, save us from the law of justice?

Elder BOYD K. PACKER of the Quorum of the Twelve, said in April
Elder Boyd K. Packer, 1977
“… The Prophet Alma declared: “Justice claimeth the creature and executeth the law, and the law inflicteth the punishment; if not so, the works of justice would be destroyed, and God would cease to be God.” (Alma 42:22.)

“Let me tell you a story—a parable.
There once was a man who wanted something very much. It seemed more important than anything else in his life. In order for him to have his desire, he incurred a great debt.

“He had been warned about going into that much debt, and particularly about his creditor. But it seemed so important for him to do what he wanted to do and to have what he wanted right now. He was sure he could pay for it later.

“So he signed a contract. He would pay it off some time along the way. He didn’t worry too much about it, for the due date seemed such a long time away. He had what he wanted now, and that was what seemed important.

“The creditor was always somewhere in the back of his mind, and he made token payments now and again, thinking somehow that the day of reckoning really would never come.
Can Mercy rob Justice?
“But as it always does, the day came, and the contract fell due. The debt had not been fully paid. His creditor appeared and demanded payment in full.

“Only then did he realize that his creditor not only had the power to repossess all that he owned, but the power to cast him into prison as well.

“I cannot pay you, for I have not the power to do so,” he confessed.

“Then,” said the creditor, “we will exercise the contract, take your possessions, and you shall go to prison. You agreed to that. It was your choice. You signed the contract, and now it must be enforced.”

“Can you not extend the time or forgive the debt?” the debtor begged. “Arrange some way for me to keep what I have and not go to prison. Surely you believe in mercy? Will you not show mercy?”

“The creditor replied, “Mercy is always so one-sided. It would serve only you. If I show mercy to you, it will leave me unpaid. It is justice I demand. Do you believe in justice?”

“I believed in justice when I signed the contract,” the debtor said. “It was on my side then, for I thought it would protect me. I did not need mercy then, nor think I should need it ever. Justice, I thought, would serve both of us equally as well.”

As Jesus saved Peter from drowning,
He, as the Great Mediator, can be
our Savior and save us from our
sins ..., if we repent and follow him.
“It is justice that demands that you pay the contract or suffer the penalty,” the creditor replied. “That is the law. You have agreed to it and that is the way it must be. Mercy cannot rob justice.” [You must face the consequences of your actions!]

“There they were: One meting out justice, the other pleading for mercy. Neither could prevail except at the expense of the other.

“If you do not forgive the debt there will be no mercy,” the debtor pleaded.

“If I do, there will be no justice,” was the reply.

“Both laws, it seemed, could not be served. They are two eternal ideals that appear to contradict one another. Is there no way for justice to be fully served, and mercy also?

“There is a way! The law of justice can be fully satisfied and mercy can be fully extended — but it takes someone else. And so it happened this time.

“The debtor had a friend. He came to help. He knew the debtor well. He knew him to be shortsighted. He thought him foolish to have gotten himself into such a predicament. Nevertheless, he wanted to help because he loved him. He stepped between them, faced the creditor, and made this offer.

“I will pay the debt if you will free the debtor from his contract so that he may keep his possessions and not go to prison.”

“As the creditor was pondering the offer, the mediator added, “You demanded justice. Though he cannot pay you, I will do so. You will have been justly dealt with and can ask no more. It would not be just.”

“And so the creditor agreed.

“The mediator turned then to the debtor. “If I pay your debt, will you accept me as your creditor?”

“Oh yes, yes,” cried the debtor. “You save me from prison and show mercy to me.”

“Then,” said the benefactor, “you will pay the debt to me, and I will set the terms. It will not be easy, but it will be possible. I will provide a way. You need not go to prison.”

“And so it was that the creditor was paid in full. He had been justly dealt with. No contract had been broken. The debtor, in turn, had been extended mercy. Both laws stood fulfilled. Because there was a mediator, justice had claimed its full share, and mercy was fully satisfied.

“Each of us lives on a kind of spiritual credit. One day the account will be closed, a settlement demanded. However casually we may view it now, when that day comes and the foreclosure is imminent, we will look around in restless agony for someone, anyone, to help us.

“And, by eternal law, mercy cannot be extended save there be one who is both willing and able to assume our debt and pay the price and arrange the terms for our redemption.

Jesus took upon Himself all the sins of the world in the Garden
of Gethsemane from the beginning to the end. And for those
who repent of their sins, the Atonement also opens the way
to continued growth and progression through the eternities. 
“Unless there is a mediator, unless we have a friend, the full weight of justice untempered, unsympathetic, must, positively must fall on us. The full recompense for every transgression, however minor or however deep, will be exacted from us to the uttermost farthing.

“But know this: Truth, glorious truth, proclaims there is such a Mediator.

“For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus.”
(1 Tim. 2:5.)

“Through Him, mercy can be fully extended to each of us without offending the eternal law of justice.

“… There is a Redeemer, a Mediator, who stands both willing and able to appease the demands of justice and extend mercy to those who are penitent, for “He offereth himself a sacrifice for sin, to answer the ends of the law,
A broken heart and
a contrite spirit.
unto all those who have a broken heart and a contrite spirit
; and unto none else can the ends of the law be answered.” (2 Nephi 2:7.)

“Already He has accomplished the redemption of all mankind from mortal death; resurrection is extended to all without condition.

“He also makes possible redemption from the second death, which is the spiritual death, which is separation from the presence of our Heavenly Father. This redemption can come only to those who are clean, for no unclean thing can dwell in the presence of God.

“Eliza R. Snow, with deep spiritual inspiration, wrote these words:
That filled the courts on high
And sent the Savior from above
To suffer, bleed, and die!
His precious blood He freely spilt;
His life He freely gave,
A sinless sacrifice for guilt,
A dying world to save.
How great, how glorious, how complete,
Redemption’s grand design,
Where justice, love, and mercy meet
In harmony divine!”

This is His plan! There is only one plan and only one path. In the Plan of Salvation, all roads don’t lead to Rome.

In, Josh posted this:  “…I am a Mormon because it makes me
Josh in says there is only
one road that leads to living with God.
a better person. Not only that but I know it is a true church. I know that because I know God provided a path to navigate this life. It's the same path we all must take. Unlike the saying "all roads lead to Rome" only one road leads to living with God. I know The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (The Mormons) is that Road. There are many philosophies and churches out there, but I know God has only given us one. Many have parts of it or a watered down version, but the Path to eternal life with our God is through the full complete restored Gospel of Jesus Christ. I am a Mormon because in the year 1820 a boy asked a question, and the results of the question have blessed the entire world. The Gospel with all of the doctrine and principles necessary for salvation is here. You can know for yourself and experience God in your life! Read The Book of Mormon and ask God if this is all true and I promise, if you ask Him with a sincere heart and using real intent YOU will receive an answer. I am a Mormon because God answered MY prayer.

“…The Plan of Happiness has blessed my life so much. It completes the puzzle it paints a vivid picture to what the true meaning of life is. I know where everything came from. I know why I am here, and I know where and what happens after Death. The knowledge here is so priceless. I have so much peace in my life because of it. I can't imagine the fear and confusion I would feel if I didn't know about the Plan of Happiness/Salvation.

“…I live my faith by trying my best to be like Jesus. I wake up pray and go about my day trying to be my best self. I fall short in my imperfections but that’s what life all about, daily progression. I try to just live what I learn. That’s the bottom line. I go to church weekly and strive to read the Scriptures daily. That combined with Prayer and wholesome family activities have helped me be who I am today.”

If all are given the free gift of resurrection, why isn’t everyone also given Exaltation or Eternal Life, or the Life that God has? Why was Lucifer’s plan of compulsion rejected in Heaven?

A universe of order
Because God lives by the Eternal laws, too; His house is a house of order – not a house of chaos!

Only those who are striving to follow Jesus’ example – those who are climbing the mountain – will eventually in the hereafter become like Him and receive all that He has, which is Eternal life, Eternal Family and Eternal posterity.

Eternal families, eternal parents
But becoming eternal parents is restricted to those who are worthy because only they will know how to property teach their eternal children – by word and example – the eternal truths.

Phrased in the negative: Those who don’t keep this estate are not worthy to gain the next estate because they would not be able to properly teach the Eternal truths to their spiritual children by word and example.

We don’t give kids the keys to our new car when they haven’t learned how to drive or who have shown they don’t follow the laws of the highway.

In April 2004, Elder M. RUSSELL BALLARD of the Quorum of the
Elder M. Russell Ballard, 2004
Twelve, said: “There is no greater expression of love than the heroic Atonement performed by the Son of God. Were it not for the plan of our Heavenly Father, established before the world began, in a very real sense, all mankind — past, present, and future — would have been left without the hope of eternal progression….
   “Thankfully, Jesus Christ courageously fulfilled this sacrifice in ancient Jerusalem. There in the quiet isolation of the Garden of Gethsemane, He knelt among the gnarled olive trees, and in some incredible way that none of us can fully comprehend, the Savior took upon Himself the sins of the world. Even though His life was pure and free of sin, He paid the ultimate penalty for sin — yours, mine, and everyone who has ever lived. His mental, emotional, and spiritual anguish were so great they caused Him to bleed from every pore (see Luke 22:44; D&C 19:18). [and he paid for all mankind’s sins then – not after we die.]

And yet Jesus suffered willingly so that we might all have the opportunity to be washed clean — through having faith in Him, repenting of our sins, being baptized by proper priesthood authority, receiving the purifying gift of the Holy Ghost by confirmation, and accepting all other essential ordinances. Without the Atonement of the Lord, none of these blessings would be available to us, and we could not become worthy and prepared to return to dwell in the presence of God.

   “…The gift of resurrection and immortality is given freely through the loving grace of Jesus Christ to all people of all ages, regardless of their good or evil acts. And to those who choose to love the Lord and who show their love and faith in Him by keeping His commandments and qualifying for the full blessings of the Atonement, He offers the additional promise of exaltation and eternal life, which is the blessing of living in the presence of God and His Beloved Son forever.”

In Oct. of 1988, DALLIN H. OAKS, Of the Quorum of the Twelve, said:
Elder Dallin H. Oaks, 1988
“… What think we of Christ? As members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, we testify with the Book of Mormon prophet-king Benjamin that “there shall be no other name given nor any other way nor means whereby salvation can come unto the children of men, only in and through the name of Christ, the Lord Omnipotent.

"And as we repent of our sins and seek to keep his commandments and our covenants, we cry out, as Benjamin’s people cried out, “O have mercy, and apply the atoning blood of Christ that we may receive forgiveness of our sins” (Mosiah 4:2).

In all of this, we remember and rely on the Lord’s sure word: “Keep my commandments in all things. And, if you keep my commandments and endure to the end you shall have eternal life, which gift is the greatest of all the gifts of God.” (D&C 14:6–7.)

Can we expect to become like God in this life? Absolutely not! But we are expected to be on the path – striving, repenting – every day! That’s one of the reasons we take the Sacrament ever week!
Elder Jeffrey R. Holland, 1999

But we need to remember the encouragement given by Elder Jeffrey Holland: "Don't you quit. You keep walking, you keep trying, there is help and happiness ahead. Some blessings come soon. Some come late. Some don't come until heaven. But for those who embrace the gospel of Jesus Christ, they come. It will be alright in the end. Trust God and believe in Good Things to Come."
President Gordon B. Hinckley, 1995

And make President Gordon B. Hinckley’s counsel your motto:
“Every day try a little harder to be a little better.”