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Thank you for visiting our Christmas Service Blog. We welcome comments from visitors.
We would love to hear if you decide to implement this idea in your family.

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

To Mitzi from your other child who moved to NC

Merry Christmas to Mitzi

I want to start by saying I was the crazy person on the airplane bawling as writitng this.
She helped me find joy and make every moment magical.

Now to start. Most of you know my year has been a little well, hectic. By the time I got thr name in which I was to do service for I cried. The email simply read Mitzi. I had no idea how I was going to do this. She saw me at my worst. She provided everything for me when I couldn't do anything for my self. I was so floored because even though out the year as I struggled I called her. I almost felt like she had my name.

She helped me look up when I felt down.

 Well, for one thing I called her super stressed about a ward acticity one time. I didnt know how I was to pull it off. I didnt have great people on my committee and I called her for ideas. After she talked for about 45 min with me as I shopped in Wal-Mart I said "Man ,why cant there be a Mitzi McBride in my ward that I could put on the committee" we laughed but she quick said,  "they do have a Mitzi McBride in the ward...shes the head of the committee". She was talking about me. And as much as I may have been sassy and said okay no really i need help. I knew that I could do it. I worked my butt off for some activities and I even have one more in the works. But one other thing I did was I watched MeiLanis kids so she could go be "the Mitzi McBride " of her work. MeiLani threw a big Christmas  party for her work and she needed a babysitter pretty last minute so I ditched my plans and went and babysat her 5 kids for free. 

Lastly. I know some of you know my friend Clancey. He is serving his mission in Arizona. Well, just like Mitzi was there when I needed her I was there when Clancey needed me and after he left when his family needed me. Clancey was worried about his family. He felt hesitant to leave them behind, I assured him as much as I could that God had a plan. And that he would make sure his family was okay. Mitzi often reminded me of Gods plan for me. Sje never claimed to understand what it was but told me that she knew God would answer my prayers. I often shared my experiences with Clancey and assured him that Gods plan will go through. And if necessary he will intervene in our lives. Clancey and I would discuss that if his family needed someone God would put them in thier path. Even if it was as simple as Gatlin, Clancey's brother, having a new friend like Brighton to hang with. Now Gatlin was missing the snow and his brother this Christmas season. And for complicated reasons they couldnt decorate thier tree. So I went to the dollar store and bought a ton of cheap plastic decorations and Gatlin and I decorated the house. I also got gifts for everyone in the family. Some were coloring books for thier airplane ride the next day and then favorite candy and for Gatlin a frozen cup, to represent his white Christmas. My favorite was to see Mama Blacks face when she saw I got jer a kids coloring book. "Not one of the crapy adult ones" as she said. I wish I jad a video when she sawit had dot to dots. It was priceless. I also bought Mama Black some new gloves because her hands get cold. It reminded me of Mitzi and all the cold stuff shegot for Christmas this year.

Lastly I just wanted to thank Mitzi for all she did for me this year. I think about how she picked me up on one of the hardest days of life a year ago today. And I really cant thank her enough. Thank you for all that you do and all that you are. I love you Mitzi!

P.S. we can be buddies because apparently I'm dead to the North Carolinaians 

Monday, December 25, 2017


Dearest Charise -

I have loved watching you (really through Facebook) over the last year. Your hashtag that you often use has been a reminder of how to focus on the positive people and opportunities in my life. I have seen your business grow, your confidence grow, and your wardrobe grow (haha). 
You are an amazing mother and wife with an excitement for life that is infectious. Your caring and generous spirit is always appreciated by those closest to you and also strangers.

This year my service was more personal in nature and Charise will receive an email with a detail of how I tried to serve in her honor this Christmas season.


Water, Water Everywhere, But Not A Drop to Drink!

By serving in Africa as a missionary it's not very hard to find a way to do a service project!😳🤔The real challenge is putting that serving to the particular person who you will be serving for?

I really thought about who I was to serve, early in the year. 

You have heard about the orphanage, we have kind of adopted.   On our last mission we built a wall to stop the flooding creek.  In early November there was a terrible storm and the creek overflowed and rushed through the area.  Our wall held up, but not the neighbors on two sides.  The pictures will show what we found when we arrived, better than me trying to explain it to you.  

My service was for my favorite daughter in law Ashley!  The challenge was that I had to connect my getting the water 💦 out and doing it for Ashley who is the Relief society president.
The water originally was up above the top of the door and windows.  However, much of that dissipated when the 2nd neighbors wall collapsed.  The bedrooms are about 2 feet lower than the ground, so when we arrived, there was over 2 feet of water in the house and a good foot throughout the yard. We tried to pump the water out of the house, but the pump didn't work.  After hours of trying, we finally gave up and bucketed the water out of the house.

There was much clean up, and many dishes to be done, once we got the water out.  I said to Kristine that we needed help from the local relief society but they never came.  I spent most of two days getting the water out and she kept busy cleaning dishes and working on getting clothes dry and helping get clean food for them.

I know that if this was in Ashley's ward, she would have made sure that there were some sisters there helping get the clean up done!😍

I am proud of you Ashley for the way you serve as president of your Relief Society.  There were many many times throughout this year that my thoughts were of you and of how I could do a service for you.  .🙄

To end this report, I need to say how difficult it was,not physically,but mentally.  It was extremely difficult not get depressed,because of how blessed I am,and how blessed all of us are.  I do know that as you have served in this  calling, there have been some of those same feelings.  Both of us have been able to grow from the service we have been blessed to give.

I love you Ashley.

Making Magical Moments for Tiffany

My original plan for doing a gift of service for Tiffany was to take a baking class at Pinners and then teach a couple of classes back in North Carolina for my ward YW and Savvy's classmates. I took the class and loved it!! I got all the supplies, I was ready to rock and roll! But I didn't realize that what I didn't have was talent. I tried repeatedly to recreate what I learned in the class, and it was a dismal failure every time. It made me appreciate Tiffany even more!!!

I did have a really special experience with the teacher of the class. Tiffany is a huge fan girl of this instructor, and I was able to share with her how much baking means to Tiffany in a time where she misses that part of Ryan, and how much she has inspired Tiffany. The sweet instructor cried and said she was so thankful that she had been able to help, and that in a small way she might help Tiffany find joy in dark moments.

 While we were at Pinners, we took Lisa Funk's class, and it was soooo great to see her!!

I realized that I would not being doing anyone a service trying to teach them to bake anything!!
So now I needed a fresh idea. HEEELLLPPPP!!!

What else does Tiffany love???? 
Disney? How on Earth can I tie in this idea with service?
Well... I have really cute Disney clothes... and I could give them away and make a game out of it.... Tiffany would think that was cool! And so the idea of scavenger hunts for free Disney clothes was formed!! It was really special to me because it made me keep Tiffany in my heart and thoughts all day for the two days I was at Disney. I really missed her, and it was fun to keep thinking of her as I saw all of the attractions. I teared up when we went on Expedition Everest... I missed Ryan so much it made my heart ache. My favorite thing to do at Disney is to sit and watch  the shows... and over the summer, when we were in New York City, the Disney Store had a darling Patriotic Disney Quillow!!! It immediately felt like the perfect gift to unite both of us together. 
Disney+Patriotic+Quillow=YES PLEASE! So Tiffany, that I why I sent you the random Christmas present. It loved thinking of you and hope that every time you use it you will know how amazing I think you are and how very proud of you I am!


The Happiest Place On Earth.....

I have a confession to make: I am part of a family of Disney FANatics. The first step to recovery is admitting that one struggles with certain issues or vices.  My vice: I'm married to a Disney FANatic, who has turned me into a Disney FANatic.  Unfortunately, we enable each other! That's right, we're enablers! We do the Disney runs. We go to Disneyland for weekly date nights and family time. I even use Disney for daddy-daughter dates. As you enter Disneyland, there is a plaque overhead that says the following:

Disneyland is known as "the happiest place on earth."  It truly is a magical and marvelous place where children feel the magic of princesses, heroes, a talking toy cowboy and toy spaceman, pirates and ghosts, and a famous race car! Disneyland is where adults feel like children all over again. Everyone knows who Mickey Mouse is. Everyone is familiar with Disney and Disneyland (due to Disney's incredible and pervasive marketing!)

Cast members are incredible people! A HUGE part of their job is to be NICE and POSITIVE to EVERYONE! Albeit Disneyland is the happiest place on earth, the magic does not magically transform ALL people who go to the parks!  There are still a few people you may encounter (park patrons) who do not exhibit the most positive of attitudes or are the best examples that humanity has to offer. Yet, despite these park-goers' less than stellar manners, cast members are required to treat them with respect and greet them with the most positive of attitudes, always with a smile on their face. Dixie definitely personified the Disney Cast Member: always smiling, happy, and positive, despite her long works hours and attending online school courses at the same time.  My family and I loved seeing her and having her here in Orange County, CA.

Albeit Disneyland is considered by many as the happiest place on earth and a magical world of yesterday, tomorrow, and fantasy, few people are aware of its close proximity to a not-so happy place on earth.  Only a few blocks away, there is a large congregation of homeless who have taken up residence along the Santa Ana riverbed.  This community of homeless is known as Anaheim tent city and is literally under the shadow of the Big A next to Angels Stadium.

The City of Anaheim has declared Tent City to be a health hazard and a state of emergency for the city. Living conditions are abjectly poor: sanitation is a major concern; drug use is rampant; crime is high. Many of the Tent City residents have their own struggles, vices, and addictions, including drug abuse, alcoholism, and mental health disabilities.

In honor of Dixie the Cast Member, who is always smiling, helpful, happy, and cheerful, I looked for an opportunity to offer Christ-like service in her name for others who are living in less-than "happiest place on earth" circumstances.

I armed myself with socks, gloves, and beanies I had acquired at a local thrift store, and several boxes of granola bars, bottles of water, energy bars, apple sauce squeeze packets, and other individually-wrapped snacks that were donated by a generous client, and I went to Tent City early one Friday morning before heading to work to hand out items that would possibly provide a little warmth and food for several less-than-fortunate individuals.

It did not take long to hand out the food and clothing items. It is hard to describe the look expressed by an individual's eyes when you hand them a pair of gloves, socks, and a beanie in the cold hours of the morning before the sun has risen above the Santa Ana mountains, accompanied with items of food and water.  A beanie and a granola bar can warm the coldest spirit that has very little, if any, hope for the day to come. It was an honor to make some people's day a little warmer and brighter in Dixie's name and place this year.

Merry Christmas, Dixie!  Love you!


Helping Others by Being Obedient

OK. Here we are again looking at the big screen. One thing that makes me feel good is helping others. I just love the feeling that I get. Over these past 20 years with the Gates' I have really admired the fact that Ed and Kriss have secretly given service at Christmas time. I am going to give credit to Kriss on this because I would imagine she gave a great support to Ed for his fantastic idea. As with myself, I was really excited with Charise's idea of helping out a family. So together as a family we explained to our kids what we were doing and how we are an extension of Heavenly Father to take care of our fellow Brothers and Sisters. How if we see a need, it is our job to fill it. So our family helped out this other family and learned that it was so much more than what we ever expected. They were so over the top excited. They were having financial challenges and were very blessed by their obedience on following the commandments.

I know I am being vague. That is because I want to protect that family and keep the spirit of service alive. I do not even want to post any pictures because of this. Thank you Kriss for another great example of helping others.

Lani needs something too...

Earlier in the year, we were reminded on how fragile our lives are.  In a weird way we talked about those days as some of the best days of our lives.  The night after AJ's surgery was one of the best nights of my life; Lani and Hock were exhausted from the past 24-36 hours, and they needed to sleep.  I got to spend the night holding this sweet little boy and I prayed...prayed may not be a strong enough word, I pleaded and begged for this sweet child.  I spoke with my Heavenly Father, on and off for the full night...it was one of the most celestial nights of my life.  If you all remember, there was a chance that AJ was never going to speak again.  Very early the next morning, AJ woke up and asked "Mamma?  I just lost it.  Thank you Heavenly Father for the gift of AJ. 

A couple of months ago, Dixie asked me what I was doing for my Season of Service gift.  I told her it was easy because I had Lani.  Alaska Airlines has a program that they will pay a non profit organization for the hours we do service in the community.  I was going to do that and donate it to the Ronald McDonald house.  That when Dixie told me that wasn't enough.  I paraphrase: AJ was a big part of Lani's life, but even though that has shaped who Lani is, Lani is still her own person.  As is the case most often, one of my kids taught me to see things deeper.

So for AJ: I served in my community and Alaska Air donated to the Ronald McDonald house in Jacksonville, were we stayed for many hard, but priceless days.

Now I needed to focus on Lani.  I found a non-profit in the state of Alaska, it's called Priceless Alaska.  It focuses on helping victims of human trafficking.  This is not only a problem in third world countries, it happens here in the US.  Their motto is Redefine Worth.  They had a fundraiser this season, a festival of trees at a mall.  I volunteered their first day, I helped with set up and manned one of the booths.  I am also setting up a class for Alaska Airlines agents, to help them better identify what we can do to help stop this crime at our airport.  I don't want to get too much in the details of this great organization or what is does to help others, as it is very rated "R".  Just know, there are some people that don't have the confidence and self-worth that we take for granted.  But because of our strength in who we are and the gift of the gospel, we can help others be stronger and know that there is a Heavenly Father and a Savoir who love them very much and can help them though their deep trials. 
Billy Johnson, fashionista sluggard or visionary haute couture renaissance man?

I apologize for the slight delay in getting this out, I have been busy getting my hatchimal hatched. The recipient of my service this year is Billy Johnson. There are so many things to admire about this guy, like......


Thanks for the pic Lani, and nice legs! Can you really get enough of this picture? Billy Johnson: a decade late to the fashion party or three decades early? 1986? Really?? Hmmm maybe 1976. But how could you not love it either way. But the picture could have easily been set in 2016 with Billy wearing the latest LuLaRoe, Travolta leggings. Billy Johnson, fashionista sluggard or visionary haute couture renaissance man? Movie rights pending.

Service 1

Beyond his fashion capabilities, Billy is a manly man, Tim the Tool Man-esque construction contractor dude. (15 minutes covering every Tim Allen grunt--662 grunts...feel free to watch them all or skip it)

I figured I would put my hard hat on and build something. After doing this project, I gained additional respect for my in-laws who seem to be able to construct anything without much effort.

As many of you know, our girls have chickens. From the get-go, I said I will have nothing to do with the chickens. Unfortunately, Bill made me break that promise. Our move to Utah brought many new things, including cold winters and snow. The girls were very concerned about the chickens being in the cold all day and having limited shelter. So I came up with the idea of constructing a shelter that would cover half the coop where the chickens could hang out and still get the sun they need via a skylight in the cover. Bill, thanks for the inspiration. The girls and the chickens love you.

Service 2

As many of you can attest, I love it when I get woken up in the middle of the night. There is nothing like having a great night’s rest interrupted. I admire Bill the airport worker as he works really strange hours to support his family and his drug habit. I don’t know that my body could handle the weekly changes to schedule….but Billy does it all the time and seems to remain quite cheerful. When my parents mentioned that they would be flying in at 12:45AM to SLC, admittedly, I was a little slow to offer any assistance. After a few days and thinking about my service for Billy, I decided this would be a great fit for my service. So I let my younger brother, who had offered to pick them up, off the hook. Credit to him, he was going to do the service and he doesn’t even know Bill. One advantage to going at this time of night was no traffic on I-15, yea!

Anyway, thinking about Bill and the service I was doing made the trip much easier. The next day still sucked though.

We all think Billy is great. This expresses how we feel better than words:

Bill, thanks for your example. Sincerely, Mike

Where Earth and Heaven Meet

In receiving Garrett's name this year it took me some thinking of how I could best serve in his honor. I love this tradition because it isn't about material things, and sometimes it isn't even about the service, but for me it is thinking about your assigned person and trying to act in their honor and growing closer to them through your service.

I thought and prayed about the best way to honor Garrett. The answer came but not in the usual way; no food bank to donate to, no kids to help, no money to charity. The answer came while sitting in a sealing room. I debated back and forth if this was too sacred for me to share on the blog fearing that my words will not be able to fully explain the beautiful experiences that I have had in praying to honor Garret, but I have decided to post it for now in hopes that those reading will have an open heart to try to understand through the spirit instead of my words.

Our temple is closing next week for an estimated 18 month renovation. The temple has been rather busy lately with people feeling the rush to go before it closes. A few months ago, I sat in a regular sealing session. There were 3 couples plus 3 grey haired single women in the session. Each couple took a turn as proxies and then I saw that there was a stack of couple names to be done but the sealer was hesitant on how best to use these 3 sweet ladies.

The session was coming to a close and 1 of these women had not had a chance to do any work yet.  This moment became very deep symbolically to me and my spiritual eyes were opened. The yearning I had for this woman to have the opportunity, even if just by proxy, to kneel across from a worthy priesthood holder (not to mention such a handsome one :) were consuming me. So when the sealer asked that Michael and I return to the altar I asked, "Is there any way I could let one of these beautiful women have a turn" the sealer smiled and explained that he never knows because he has had some people very passionate about not doing proxy sealings with anyone except their spouse but that he was grateful for me being able to share my husband to allow her the opportunity.

It was a simple brief exchange but left a lasting impact on me. The immense love I had in my heart at that moment when my husband held the hand of this sweet senior sister to allow her to participate in blessings she could only enjoy with a man, my spiritual understanding was enlarged and for a fleeting moment I could see the amount of knowledge  I do not yet understand on how our families, and Our Father's Family tree really works. The brief glimpse of light that came that moment was bright enough for me to receive a lasting testimony of something some of us have mentioned over the years, that our family does not work as a lineal tree but instead three dimensional. The work that needs to be done in heaven does not always translate directly here to earth. At that moment, I better understood that the temple is a portal where Earth and Heaven meet, where the work we do here is elevated to what it needs to be in heaven.

Over the next 4 months I doubled and sometimes tripled my temple attendance, focusing mostly on sealings. For the first time in my life I actually printed my own family cards, a lot of them, and took to the temple. I gathered dozens of names from the last 3 wards I have lived in that needed sealings done and were able to complete almost all of them.

I don't understand why Garrett and Tiff can't be sealed on this earth, yet for that moment I was reminded that there is someone much wiser and all knowing than I, that is in control and well aware of the situations of his children, saints on earth, like my brother Garrett.

So Garrett, I just want to testify to you that I don't understand everything in life, but I do know that you are an eternal part of our family and I am so grateful to call you my brother. Thank you for being you. Thank you for taking care of my little sister. Thank you for your patience, love, and for choosing to be a part of our family. I love you and am grateful for this chance I had to think of you often and serve in your honor. I love you brother~

Merry Christmas Robot...Oops I mean Mike.

One of the coolest things about this gift of service is the opportunity to think about the person throughout the year and reflect on the experiences you have had with them and how they have impacted your life.  Over the last few years Mike McBride and I have been able to spend a lot of time together and develop a lot of memories. When AJ was diagnosed with cancer Mike was the first one to meet Lani and me at the hospital.  Through working together we have spent a lot of time looking over spreadsheets, flying on airplanes, attending meetings, and giving each other a hard time.

The first year that Lani and I lived in North Carolina, Mike signed up to coach Connor's basketball team.  He asked me to help out as an assistant coach.  It was a lot of fun! The kids were all really young. We spent half of the time just trying to keep them organized and focused.  In honor of that memory with Mike I volunteered to help out with the North Carolina Special Olympics basketball Clinic/Competition.  I had never worked with the special Olympics before but after this experience I will definitely do it again.  They could not have picked a better name for the event, because the whole experience was very special.

The participants were all high-school aged kids and had varying degrees of abilities.  Some of the kids were pretty functional. They communicated well and were able to do higher level drills like shooting a free throw.  Others were much more limited in what they could do.  One group of kids were all confined to a wheelchair and only able to move a couple of fingers to push a button on their chair to move.

All of the kids had a special spirit/light about them.  The highlight of the day was to see them light up when they walked in the gym and everyone started cheering for them.  They all smiled proudly when they received their medal at the end of the event. One of my jobs at the event was to serve as a guide and lead the kids to the different events.  This was actually very fitting, because there have been many times in my adult life that Mike has served as a guide to me.

My first job in North Carolina was a tough one.  I was thrown into the deep end quickly and expected to swim.  Fairly early on there I was tasked with coming up with a marketing plan and presenting the plan to all of the top executives of the company.  I was in way over my head and suffered what I would call in my non-medical opinion a near nervous breakdown.  I couldn't sleep or eat.  I was so stressed about coming up with a plan and presenting it to these important people. The night before the presentation I went over and met with Mike. He talked with me about my presentation, shared some scriptures with me, and gave me a blessing. It really helped and I was able to get some sleep. The presentation went well and I grew from the experience.  I was very grateful for Mike.

Later on he helped provide me with a life changing opportunity by opening the door for me to join GE and then serving as a tremendous mentor for me there. Joining GE has changed my life and provided me with opportunities that would NOT have happened if I stayed at my last job.  Lani and I would never have been able to invest in real estate without GE, I would never be able to afford AJ's ongoing medical expenses at my last job.  I would not have been able to develop the professional confidence I have now. It was a life changing move and made possible because of Mike.

I was nervous to have a job so heavily based on commission.  I was worried about my ability to provide for my family.  Mike provided reassurance and promised he would teach me to be successful.  He worked with me and taught me how to be a top performing rep.

When Mike announced that he would be taking a new job, I was very nervous about how I would survive without him.  But the lessons I learned from him before he left have continued to help me.  At least once a month I will have a difficult problem or situation come up and ask my self "WWMD" What Would Mike Do?  Usually that helps me come up with a solution.  I have gotten by alright without him, last year I was a top 3 rep and expect to be one again this year. The lessons Mike taught me has been a big part of my success.

Mike's posts are usually clever with a lot of humor. He's not a very sentimental Robot, I mean guy.  So I'm going to make him a little uncomfortable by saying that I love him. I am grateful for Mike McBride.  Knowing him has blessed my life and I'm grateful for his influence in my life.  He has been a mentor when I needed a mentor and a friend with I needed a friend.  I never had an older brother growing up and Mike has been an older brother to me.  Merry Christmas Mike. Thanks for all you have done for me and my family.

I wish I will grow up to be just like my dad

This is the eighth year of the Gates Family Season of Service, so I think we can be real with one another... There have been times when it has been a real source of frustration. Come on, admit it. We've all had years where we forgot about it until the last week or we were feeling a bit "Bah Humbug." After all, it isn't easy to perform the act of service and then write about it on Christmas Eve after staying up late to prepare for Christmas morning.

I must admit, last year, I allowed myself to begin to consider this service tradition as a chore. I couldn't think of what grand gesture I could do for this Season of Service, but after I prayed to ask for guidance, Ashley and I were inspired to serve one of my sisters in Christ who had become homeless and was struggling. Little did I know then just how much this annual reminder to serve one another by serving others in our lives would touch my heart when I needed it most.

So, as I sit to write this on the afternoon of this Christmas Day of 2017, I am reminded of why this Gates Family Season of Service continues to be a blessing in my life.

Dear Dad,

In this, the most difficult and challenging year of my life, I have been honored and blessed to be serving in honor of you. And yet, I don't feel like I did very much because in every trial of service that I had, you were there to lift my spirits and inspire me to reach a little bit further outside of my comfort zone.

The only way that I have made it through this year was to often ask myself, "What would my Dad do in this situation?" This year, I've begun telling you, mom, and my sisters how as a young boy, every wish I made before blowing out the candles on my birthday cake or biting into a cherry in the fruit cocktail was that I might grow up to be just like my dad. Little did I know the joys - and the struggles - that would come through that transformation.

When we took in three young women as "semi-foster daughters," it seemed like our lives were filled with people telling us we were crazy. But when we just felt like we had to say yes, you and mom were there to call to encourage us, offer to help, and inspire us to continue to serve those three young "refugees" of life. During the most difficult moments, I was inspired by memories of you serving those in our life growing up. It was our honor to provide a safe place for those young women when they had very little on which to base their hope.

This summer, our Father in Heaven opened a door for me to forgive another by delaying our road trip by a day, before pushing me through that door by having us attend church in a ward in rural Virginia, where I needed to right a situation by both forgiving and asking for forgiveness. 

And when my life seemed to be falling apart around me this past month, you were there with a bottle of spiritual glue to help me begin to put it back together. I am so glad Our Heavenly Father inspired Stan to send you back to us a week earlier. The 48 hours you and Mom spent in our home, helped guide us through the mists of darkness and strengthened my grip on the iron rod leading to the tree of life. Thank you for your guidance.

In that time, I believe you taught me the greatest lesson of all... to never stop growing or learning. Your humility in recognizing your weaknesses and striving to make them strengths is what makes you a magnificent tool in the hands of Our Father in Heaven. You continue to raise the bar of which I hope to meet someday. I hope that when I am 72 years old, I will be every bit as focused on spiritual growth and service to my wife, my children, and the rest of God's children as you are today.

Over the past few weeks, there have been many moments in which I have wanted to wither away into nothing, but I have chosen not to because you have given me short, simple instructions on how to get out of the abyss in which I have found myself. It has been my joy and salvation to follow your simple instructions and return and report on the success. Because of you, my life is so very much brighter today.

[To those who are reading, I realize this message has been vague, but I feel constrained to limit the sacred details shared in this format.]

Dad, I want you to know how much I love and appreciate all you have done for our family. As my own children grow, I am constantly realizing just how much you did for us. When I look at my Eddie, I now know what you must have felt looking at me.

I love you so much Dad. Thank you for living a life of serving others. Thank you for teaching me as a child, through your words and your actions.

Your son


When I think of Chuck and his amazing qualities, the first one that comes to my mind is how darling he is with his children.  He is so cute to play with them and take them to every little festival and fun event in his area.  When my neighbor called and invited me to go with her daughter to the witch festival, my first thought was no way!  It will be crowded and it will be cold!  Then I thought about Chuck.  I thought of all the memories he makes with his kids taking them to fun local events even though it may not sound as enticing as sitting at home by the fire drinking hot cocoa.  I decided to give it a try AND take my girls!  We didn't even leave until 8:30 at night (an hour after Cora's bedtime!)

When the time came for volunteers to help with the TOFW in Salt Lake City, I thought about the time my sisters and I went to TOFW and how Chuck babysat all the kids at his house.   His kids, Lani's kids and my Tara.  Tara had so much fun with him.  I decided to join the TOFW team and help out!  It was also very fun to serve with Cecia on the group so I could think of Chuck and the fun times we had in the Stanford ward together with Tyler and Cecia!

(I searched for over an hour for a photo of chuck with all of the kids the week he did that.  But I couldn't find one.)

Merry Christmas Chuck!  You are an amazing father!!  I hope you have a wonderful Christmas Day!