Vision, Cowboys, Space, and Christmas

As a young child, I had bad problems with vision. I remember falling down stairs all the time. I couldn’t see depths, so I assumed that when the rug ended and the floor began, there would be a drop off. So, I always tested with my foot. My little brother used to help me find my toys when I dropped them and couldn’t see to find them again.

Just before I started school, my mother wanted to have the elders over to administer to me so I could see better. She said later that while the blessing was taking place, she felt the whole house was crowded, like it was full of spirits or something. I remember getting the blessing, I did well in school. In fact, I did really well in school. I don’t know whether I was really smart or just tried harder, but I always got into the top reading groups, the advanced classes, and the honors classes. At home, I used to take my school readers and read to my brother. My mom thought I was a better reader than I really was. I just had the story memorized.

I sensed being different from an early age. I just wrote it off to having bad eyesight and everything that followed from that. I was no good at sports, so I didn’t like them. I enjoyed reading and playing music. I took piano, and after that several other instruments. My dad said that if I joined a band, it would take me a lot of places. He was right. I got to march in parades, get into games for free. Once, I even got to travel from Provo to El Paso, TX to play with the BYU band at a football game. We got to see Mexico, also.

My brothers liked to watch cowboy shows and cops and robbers on TV. I couldn’t stand them, but I loved science fiction. I watched Superman, Rocky Jones. Tom Corbett, Flash Gordon, and all the rest. I read every book I could find on astronomy and wanted to go on the first trip to the moon. My dad’s brother gave me a microscope for Christmas, and that opened a whole new world for me.

Speaking of Christmas, my parents gave my an LDS Missionary Bible for Christmas one year, and a Triple Combination the next Christmas. I read them both several times, took them on my mission, and have them in my nightstand, right to this day. I read and re-read them constantly and always get new meanings from them. One thing that struck me the first time I read them was that the scriptures taught many things they taught weren’t being taught in my local branch. I overlooked the differences for the first couple of readings, but after my mission and after listening to people, who really knew the scriptures and spoke from a deep knowledge and conviction, explain them, I realized that I needed to know that the book actually said, not just what people in my local branch taught about the book. The Book of Mormon is a marvelous book, but other than a few historical accounts about Nephi and Moroni, little if any of the doctrines taught in the book are actually taught in church. I saw this and wondered as I studied the Book of Mormon at BYU. In Gospel Doctrine class at BYU, I would call this to the attention of class members, who then laughed at me. I learned to keep studying, keep praying, and keep my mouth shut.

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