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Photos, Missionaries & Fatherhood

My thoughts and feelings as I read the mission events of Miss Kate, oops, I mean Sister O’Reilly and reflect upon my life, my actions, and my role as a Husband, Dad, and now Grandfather.

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It’s a Great Day Here in Orem, Utah!

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Sister O’Reilly,

What a joy it has been to read your daily messages and then have the opportunity to format them for the internet and seek out at least one image to help convey the thought of which you are writing about. I love reading the culture shocks that you are experiencing, yet saddened to read about the health issues of which both you and your companion are enduring. I also applaud your desire to wake up with each new day and give it your very best.

HEADACHES - As you know, I too endure extreme headaches and most people have no real understanding of the excruciating pain that goes along with them. When you speak of them, I too start to feel ill. Is it stress? Is it lack of good sleep? Is it too much work? Is it from a bad diet? Or is it a combination of any or all of these things? I think that you are enduring at least a little of all of those things. I too have thrown up in the strangest of places. The best you can do is get a Priesthood blessing, plead with the Lord for some relief or at least the added strength to endure, and then get into bed and hope that you will feel better with the sin next rises.

I remember one such migraine that lasted multiple days back in 1987 when I was walking the streets of Southern Brazil with my companion. I drug myself to every appointment and did my best to keep the proselyting work moving forth. I finally could not take it anymore and we went the to pharmacy. Pharmacies are much different in 3rd world countries. I told the little 18 year old girl behind the counter what I was enduring and she said in effect, “I know just what you need!” She came back with a large syringe of what poorly translated in medical terms as an “Elephant Tranquilizer” and she brought me behind the counter and sat me down in a chair. I explained to her that I pass out when getting shots and she giggled and told me I would be okay. She shot me up in my arm and I said “See you later” and I passed out. When I regained my composure my 5’9” companion helped me up off the floor and I staggered across the street and down the alley to our home just as the drug hit me and knocked me out for about 18 hours. I arose rested and relaxed, void of my migraine. And while I don’t recommend the injection of elephant tranquilizers by young girls with little medical training, desperate times require desperate measures.

INTERESTING FOODS - I have enjoyed reading all of your comments about the food. Your latest lunch at the office sounded so tame when compared to what they could have been serving you. I looked up Philippine Lunch and found the main image for this blog entry. Pizza, garlic bread, and wings sounds tame when compared to many of the local deep fried options in the picture. As a proselyting missionary we were told to eat anything placed in front of us (within reason) when sitting in the home of a member or investigator. The Brazilian people sound a lot like the Philippine people that you have described. Very poor, very humble, but still full of love. The majority of families we taught ate rice and beans for most of the meals during the week and they could afford to eat meat once a week. When we would arrive, it was not uncommon for the Father of the home to whisper in a child’s ear and he would run out the door and return a few minutes later and head into the kitchen where the Mother was preparing food. The young child usually brought in a bottle of “Coke” and some type of meat. In about a half hour we would be invited to sit at the table and they would proudly provide a feast that included their normal rice and beans, along with meat, and then Coke. Before my arrival in the mission field I vowed to not drink caffeine during my mission. This was a vow that I quickly changed once I saw the sacrifice of these non-LDS people who treated the missionaries as though we were angels sent from Heavenly Father. They were giving us their very best and I ate each bite and took each drink with gratefulness.I know that you are not a meat lover, but I surely am... Here is me while in Brazil.


Some of this food was the worst I have ever endured and some was the best I have ever tasted. I was always determined to show the gratitude to my new friends that they deserved for their efforts and sacrifice to provide. This was not always easy and I threw up many times after leaving their homes. I always ate what was placed before me and prayed to heavenly Father that he would help me hold it down long enough to never disrespect the family that provided. The non-LDS treated us as though we were traveling without purse or script and this caused a lot of guilt as they sacrificed to help provide for our needs. Our needs were covered before their sacrifice to feed us, but they knew we were about the work of the Lord and their lives were blessed by sacrificing on our behalf. Truly a lovely people. In fact, there are lovely people everywhere!

SCHOOL STARTED - It was odd only having two of our kids still in school this year. I took both Aaron (10th) and Haily (12th) to Orem High School on the first day. Aaron soared over Haily and Haily looked stunning with her blonde hair, tan skin, and bright smile. They have settled into the normal flow. Aaron is now on the cross country team. Haily opens in the role of Woodstock next week in “You’re A Good Man Charlie Brown”. Haily also made it to the callbacks for Shakespeare and was really touched by some kind words from Miss Pam after her initial tryout. My lovely wife Shelly stepped into the role of one of the killing old ladies in “Arsenic and Old Lace” that opens this Friday. She says it is the role that Lex Hatch (Mullis) played in the Canyon View production years ago. Aaron is going to be one of the dead bodies, the same role that Jessica stepped into after being your Student Director for the play. This means that I will be taking photos and videotaping quite a bit in the next few weeks.


It must have been odd for you to not have the stresses of getting the school year started. It was odd for me to not have already visited Canyon View 10 times to take care of classes, fees, and of course to see Miss Kate and discuss what we needed to do for the next upcoming play. That doesn’t mean I don’t have to sew a Woodstock costume for Haily by this Thursday, because I do. It just means that I don’t have to dream of how we are going to install a fly system, find an old hot rod, or figure out how to create some over-sized creature for some play I have never seen. Think of all the culture that you have helped to instill in me over the years. Think of how many times I have looked at you with glazed over eyes as you referred to a production that I should have either seen or remembered, and yet I had no idea what you were talking about. Yet I always loved trying to climb into your head for at least a moment and try to catch your vision of what could be created. Once I got a feel for what you wanted, then I always loved trying to bring to pass something that would make you proud. I missed the mark a few times, but usually I was able to hit a home run and sometimes even hit a grand slam (That is a baseball reference... baseball is a sport that is very popular in America... Ah never mind!).

DEVOTE YOUR TALENTS - I have yet to hear just what is happening with the Canyon View plays this year, but I am sure I will be helping out in one way or another. Don’t worry about it. Instead, take a look out your 23rd floor window and dream up some ways that you and your talents can bless the Philippine community. Sure you need to hone your computer skills, but I can see you putting on a small (if that is possible) Mormon Pageant with the Branch/Stake/Mission. You have been called to be humbled, to serve, and to dedicate all of your talents in the work of the Lord. Plant the seed in the heart of your Mission President and see how it can come to fruition.

I was a big-time skateboarder before my mission and I also vowed to set it aside and just before my 25th birthday I entered the MTC. While in Brazil I prayed that I could not desire to skateboard and concentrate upon the work. There were about a dozen times that I rode a skateboard in Brazil and each was tied into capturing the attention of large groups of young people and teaching them the gospel. Each time I sought the confirmation of the Spirit that my motives were pure and that I could use my talents to help spread the message of glad tidings. Each of these events is well documented in my journals and each was successful in touching the hearts of youth that would have otherwise remained hardened to spiritual things. Each was usually tied into a wager, that’s right... gambling, that if I lost I would buy them pizza and if they lost that they would listen to our message and come to church the following Sunday. I never remember opening my wallet for pizza.:-) I am certain that you will be inspired as to how to use your developed talents to bless the lives of the Philippine people.




ONE MORE PROSELYTING EXAMPLE - While my companion and I roamed the streets of rural Brazil we were told about a Senior couple that had served in the same small city a few years prior. The Elder husband was slow of speech, but good with his hands. The Sister wife was outgoing, full of love, and just needed a way into the home and she could take it from there. After the initial long period of door knocking rejection and feeling down, the Elder husband purchased a grinder and sharpening stones and he started to sharpen and make kitchen knives for the women in the neighborhood. It wasn’t long before word spread that if this couple knocked on your door that they would sharpen your knives and teach you about Jesus. Their success was incredible using his talents to break the ice. Door rejection was rare. Knives were sharpened. Discussions were taught. Church membership grew as this missionary team touched lives. I was excited to hear that you will be doing some proselyting after your normal work day is done. Don’t let the rejection get you down. Figure out how both you and you companion can break the ice and get inside the door. You can help strengthen the Church and the perpetual Education Program by day and then touch lives and help strengthen families by night. What a glorious way to serve the Lord!

We love and miss you and are proud of your service!!!

Michael Leavitt and the Leavitt’s - Michael, Shelly, Adam, Haily & Aaron... And then there are Jessica, Dave, Poppy (3), Rolf (3), and little Tommy (15 months).

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Michael Leavitt is a long time friend of Sister O’Reilly. She wrangled me into the Canyon View Junior High play system to sew 7 costumes for my Daughter Jessica in her minor role in The Music Man and then the rest is history. Together we have produced some incredible costumes including a giraffe, crocodile, an incredible stilt walker, and my very favorite... Lumiere. Along the way we have procured antique cars, and installed a human flying system so that those much more diminutive than us could soar across the stage. Once I learned to climb inside Miss Kate’s fabulous brain and see a glimpse of her vision, then I could help work to pull it off. Our efforts have been reqarding, but have comewith great sacrifices of time and effort. But this is what has made them so precious and dear. Sacrifice truly does bring forth great blessings!!!


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Guest Wednesday, 19 December 2018