One of the reasons I have made the sudden decision to finally leave St. George, Utah is the the ongoing situation started by that infamous thank-you card. That card has caused more stress and humiliation than any other event to have happened to me in this ungodly state.

My life has been an outrageous turmoil since my bishop met with me that first time to discuss that blasted card. Each new twist has been like puring gasoline an a flesh wound. As you know, my last meeting with the bishop did not go well at all. I left upset and it was clear that he does not want me to attend his ward.

The following day, I wrote a letter (names and locations have been omitted):

[Letter dated Monday, March 27, 2006]
Dear Bishop,
As much as I would love to stop attending the … Ward after our meeting yesterday, I regret to inform you that I can not. After some careful reflection, and prayerful consideration, I have reconsidered the hasty, spur-of-moment decision. It appears the Lord still has a purpose for me in relation to the … Ward. I do not presume to know why, but He wants me here, and His will be done.
I went into your office yesterday seeking understanding. At first, I thought I left empty-handed and wrongfully upset. On retrospect, I had indeed received some understanding; one more puzzle in this confusing escapade. But an important one that I had not given proper consideration.
I have always admired Bro.
[name omitted]
and his kindness towards me. He was, and remains one of the few members … who introduced himself and extended fellowship to me. Obviously, I am very grateful to him for that, but I have also been impressed with his grasp and acceptance of the Gospel. He is a very good and strong man, and I have always appreciated his comments and presence … .
It was because of this that I was so confused. I was under the impression that it was the mutual decision of Bro. and Sis.
[name omitted] for Sis. [name omitted] and [name omitted] to take the thank-you card to you for your council. Though I was aware of the possibility that Bro. [name omitted]
may not have been included in that decision, I had not acknowledged it as a viable explanation until you mentioned it to me yesterday.
If Bro.
[name omitted]
, as the family’s patriarch, had not been able to council his wife and daughter, that priesthood authority and responsibility would have fallen to you. If that is the case, the … family owes me no apology what so ever. Instead, the burden of guilt in this situation lies on your shoulders. The whole matter could have been handled through prayer that first night, without my involvement and subsequent pain, confusion, and humiliation.
This explains why Bro.
[name omitted], being my liaison to his family …, did not approach me, according to the the covenants I presume he and Sis. [name omitted] had made in the temple. By the time he was involved, the Sisters [name omitted]
may have already come to a conclusion based on your council. It is an explanation I would rather accept than the worldly excuses you were trying to offer me, and it explains a lot.
Over the past two months, I spent a great deal of time examining the various interactions of myself and Miss
[name omitted]
. In each instance, Miss [name omitted] displayed behavior of kindness and acceptance toward me, often with wonderful smiles and childlike joy. At no time did she ever show fear or give the slightest inclination that she thought I was scary, which is another reason I was so confused. One time particular, I came around a corner to find her sauntering in my direction. Upon looking up and seeing me, her gloomy countenance changed and she cheerfully skipped the remaining distance to me and delivered her kind message.
It is, therefore, my assessment that any fear she may have expressed to you, was a reflection of Sis.
[name omitted]‘s misunderstanding, who may have inadvertently reacted negatively towards the card, having never met me. I wonder then, just what [name omitted] would say to you about the whole thing, without her mother around. I am convinced that neither I, nor the thank-you card scared [name omitted]
. She is a too independent and spiritually sound young woman to be scared in that manner. Her kindness, honesty, and virtue should always be encouraged, supported, and honored.
As members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, it is a fundamental principle and practice for ward members to encourage and support the youth in all their righteous endeavors. There was never any other intent than to do just that while expressing my personal gratitude and extending my friendship with that thank-you card.
It is that very reason that I was hurt and confused. It was hard for me to fathom why I was being treated as the guilty culprit when I had done nothing wrong. Even yesterday in our meeting, you seemed to think it was a foregone conclusion that my actions, though well intended, were wrong and should not be repeated. I disagree and consider such a conclusion contrary to the Gospel of Jesus Christ. It may not be socially acceptable for a man like me to give a woman like
[name omitted]
a thank-you card, but it is Christian. … I will continue to do what is right, regardless of the consequences and regardless of what society wants me to do. After all, we are not here to please society, we are here to learn, teach, and live the Gospel.
A fundamental problem I have faced here in Southern Utah is society’s prejudices against people like me. Joesph Smith himself maintained that the worth of every soul is great in the eyes of the Lord. Yet nobody takes the time to get to know me or others like me. They automatically assume we are unrighteous, criminal, and so on. Your very own comment yesterday, told me where your heart was toward me. When I asked you what I could do that people could get to know me, I was expecting you to suggest I give a talk …. I was absolutely appalled when you responded with getting a job and moving into a house. As though I were a bum. Well, society may harbor such prejudice, but bishops should not and the Church of Jesus Christ does not. I am a child of God. Period. And, I expect to be treated as a child of God. I expect you to treat me as a child of God and a brother.
For the record, I do have a job. In fact, I have several. I may not have been paid yet for the work I am doing on my stories, and my other jobs are done through barter for what I need, but I do work for what I receive and I am honest in all my dealings. I am not a bum, nor have I ever been a hindrance on you or the ward because of my lifestyle, and I did not deserve such an asinine comment from my bishop.
It was that comment that lead me to my regretful decision to leave the ward. I am not prone to making such rash statements and displaying such anger. When I entered your office, I was hopeful of leaving up-lifted, with an assignment to give a talk. I was not prepared for your worldly answers, excuses, and responsibility shirking behavior. I expected you to offer a prayer and maybe pull out the scriptures for a few moment-inspired passages.
Bishop, I know you are called of God to administer to this ward. I support and sustain you as such. As your experience grows, I have no doubt that He will mold you into a formidable ally and tool to bring about His work on the worldly society which we live in. Joseph Smith said the Lord calls us in our weakness so he can lift us higher. I hope that the next time you encounter situations similar to the one Sis.
[name omitted]
brought before you, that you will put aside your assumptions and prejudices and trust more in the Lord and his guidance through the Holy Ghost and prayer. It will never be good council for you to tell members to ignore situations and move on, or to reject their feelings and concerns in relation to the matter. When that occurs, the confusion can fester and grow and lead to speculation, discontent, and fear, and, as in this case, false witness.
In the past year, I have learned to love the … Ward. I have gotten to know many of the members and enjoy the impact they have each had on my learning and personal and spiritual growth. Before I started attending this ward, I was lost and lonely. I sought for and longed after a ward to call my own, and the Lord often inspired me to try …
[that ward’s meeting house]
. I put it off for months before giving in to the promptings. I knew immediately through spiritual recognition and the confirmation of the Holy Ghost that I had been directed to this ward. It is through the same confirmation that I know I am to stay in the ward ….
I hope someday that you will accept me and forgive me for my rash behavior and hasty contentions against you yesterday. I am sorry. I do not know how long we will have to work through this …, but I hope that I can make appropriate amends to you before it is too late. Please expect to continue to see me at church every Sunday and other ward activities ….
As I have mentioned above, I would appreciate the opportunity to introduce myself officially to the ward. I think a talk … would be an appropriate way for everyone in the ward to get to know me a little better. A bit of my own background should provide an understanding of why I am in the
[name omitted]
Ward and may dispel any concerns others may have of me, and help prevent unwarranted fears.

Please forgive me.

Bro. Wesley Owen Campbell
[e-mail address omitted by, not me. ;-)] or

That was the week before General Conference. I have since changed my mind.

At General Conference, I had hoped to hear talks illustrating how I had been wrong, instead the major recurring theme supported much of what I had stated in the letter. And when the prophet spoke against discrimination in the Church, I knew there was no hope for me. I have no doubt that neither my bishop nor any other ward member in that ward had even an inkling that the prophet was referring to people like them and their actions toward me and people like me.

In the time since I wrote and sent that letter, I have become even more disappointed and discouraged. I am not welcome in that ward, and the woman I wrote that card to has begun to treat me no different than the rest of the ‘daughter’s of Zion’ in that ward and this whole state.

I am beginning to regret the day I bought that infernal card. I wish so much that I could go back and stop myself from buying it. Had I never given that kind woman the thank-you card, she most likely would have continued to be nice to me and I would still be oblivious to the discrimination inhibited in the ward.

I have decided not to attend that ward any more. I cannot stand the way I am treated there.

This past Wednesday, I wrote and sent another letter, this time to the father of the woman I wrote the card to (names and locations have been omitted):

[letter dated Wednesday, April 26, 2006]
Dear Bro. [name omitted]
and family,
Though I shall never pretend or presume to understand what caused your family’s reactions to the thank-you card I prepared for
[name omitted]
back in January of 2006, it is apparent that an apology is in order. I am sorry that my card tested the integrity of your family, and for the damage my actions have caused.
Be advised, that I never intended the card to be anything other than a sincere appreciation and message of encouragement to a young woman who I perceived (at that time) was a wonderful example of the pure love of Christ in a world of turmoil and void of morals. It tears my soul apart to know my simple act incited fear and the heinous allegations you took to the bishop against me.
Having moved from Idaho, Utah has proved a major culture shock for me. It is appalling to witness the thoughtless prejudices and actions of discrimination the Church members in Utah inhibit and encourage among themselves and in the youth. What I perceived as
[name omitted]
‘s kind acceptance of me as a child of God and brother in our faith was a refreshing delight and a cherished glimpse of a time yet to come.
But alas, this was not supposed to be a letter about me, or an explanation for something that should need no explaining. I have seen the discomfort my presence causes your family at church and the rift that has engulfed the ward. I cannot bear it any longer. I am the intruder, and have been since I first started attending your ward. Therefore, for the comfort of your family (and whoever else may know about the infamous thank-you card), I have decided to no longer attend your ward.
I wish you and your family long and prosperous lives and a righteous posterity worthy of exaltation. May the Lord bless you with a kind acceptance wherever your lives may lead you.
Please accept my apology and, someday, forgive me.

Bro. Wesley Owen Campbell
Post Script: It is evident that my thank-you card meant more to me than it did to any of you. If the card itself has not been destroyed or discarded, I wonder; may I have it back for my own memorabilia? That is, of course, assuming it is unwanted.

That letter should have been delivered by now, though there is no telling when it will be read or whether I’ll get a response. I am really hoping the thank-you card was not destroyed or discarded, and that the recipient desires to keep it. But, on the other hand, the possible countenance spelling error continues to be a source of great embarrassment.

I would like to keep the card for 3 major reasons. Number 1 is the out-of-sight-out-of-mind concept; for the members of that family who wish to forget about this ‘unfortunate’ incident, it would be best if they did not keep the card. Number 2 is that I really liked that poem and want to be able to always have it handy. Number 3 involves the repentance/forgiveness process-I cannot stop myself from buying the card, but I can make an attempt to rectify the problem by retracting it. I would also like to know, once and for all, whether I really did spell countenance wrong.

The main reason I wrote this letter, beside the fact that I truly want to rectify this situation with this family, is that I needed a ‘legitimate’ excuse not to attend that ward. By promising this family they no longer have to fear seeing me in their meeting house, I have established a reason for me not to go. I’d have stopped months ago if that woman had never greeted me that fateful day. This incident has only prolonged my departure and reiterated how judgmental, hateful, prejudice, and discriminating the people of Utah are.

At any rate, I hope this last letter is a closure for me. I want the whole situation to be understood and concluded. I have been so stressed out about this and those allegations, I just want to remove myself from them as far as I can. I want to remember the kind way that woman and her dad was towards me then rather than the prejudice and haughty way I am treated now.

She was my little angel who up-lifted my spirit each time I saw her smile at me and provided a light in the darkness of my weekdays. The only woman I came across who did not appear to be a daughter of Zion.

Make The First Move

O.k., despite the fact that I really don’t like the majority content of magazines targeted toward young women, I do read them every month to just keep informed of what this satanic society is feeding the lovely damsels. Often, I am appalled. However, on occasion, I do find articles that tickle my entertainment/romantic funny bone.

On page 125 of the May 2006 issue of Seventeen, there is an article with the caption, “cute guys reveal the little things girls have done to win them over”. It’s not really an article, just a bunch of quotes from presumably ‘cute’ guys.

Before I get started though, I have to chuckle about that assertion being as there’s no pictures associated with the quotes to substantiate the declaration. Who then is to say these quotes are from handsome, or good looking, [cute] guys? Shouldn’t that be left for the girls to decide?

Anyway, I like what most of them had to say. In fact, I consider all but one of these guys totally lucky. Like hundred-million-dollar-lotto-winning lucky. With the exception of one, the girls these guys are talking about are totally hot and attractive.

Russell mentions a girl who paid attention to him and remembered the things he told her. She surprised him with a picnic with his favorite treats, so cool!

During a conversation with a girl he had recently met, Kevin was interrupted mid-sentence to be told by her “you’re really cute”. I’d love that to happen to me. For some reason, girls don’t like it when guys do it them, but I’ll bet Kevin and I are not the only guys who would like it.

The whole situation Andrew details is to die for! I’d have loved to have been him that night. What a dream come true. He tells it real well too. He calls it the most unexpected and totally romantic situation he had ever been in. Would it work on me? Oh yeah, especially if the girls timing and delivery were as good as I dream his encounter was. I picture a coy, shy tease with a penetrating look and smirk just daring him to kiss her. 😉

‘Spell it out’ by Joe is something I think every hot woman should read. This girl shows brass and that just makes her more attractive. As he’s struggling with his words, she leans in and whispers “I really like you-you don’t have to be nervous”. Wow! I picture this athletic junior high Barbie-doll (volleyball player), who could have any man in the world.

What Frank said, though cool, I’m not entirely certain would work with me. I love the concept, especially how she kept looking right at him the whole time, but I’m not exactly sure what a girl singing Ricky Nelson songs would be like. Maybe if she performed a scene from my favorite movie just for me. . . Actually, I’m sure it would work either way.

Jonny had an experience similar to Kevin, only this time the girl kissed him! Right on. That would be soooo cool. . . as long as she wasn’t doing it just to shut me up. Like I’m so cute she just couldn’t help herself, on the other hand, now that would be awesome.

Noah, you make girls expect too much. No girl will ever get me by imploring the ‘lure him in’ concept. For that to work with me she would have to post a neon sign flashing out “Wesley pick up my book and bring it to me, I really like you and I’ll kiss you!” to it.

Daniel definitely has a point. The simplicity of an “old-school handwritten note” complete with check-boxes would be adorable. I will also add, that such a technique may make me giddy and young feeling, the way we felt in elementary school.

Going the distance as Dan explains it is always a good thing for an interested girl to do. Though I am not athletic, I do often imagine having a girl who likes me enough to always watch me when I do things. The concept of showing interest in me regardless what others think and say is extremely attractive.

Webpage Update

I just did some minor editing of grammar and paragraph placement on the About Me and My Wish List pages. Basically, I removed the excessive emphasis on my writing career, which I’m considering quitting-as usual-and concentrated the mention of my HTML knowledge to the wish list page only.

You can view the changes here:
index.html or index.html
page08.html or page08.html

The Party’s Over

Well, I have made up my mind. I’ll be moving out of Satan George, Utah sometime in the next 3 months. I’m going back to Idaho, but not home. I suppose that I’ll need to go to Sick City, Idaho for about 6 month to a year to get back on my feet. Utah has been harsh, and I won’t look back. Well, technically, I’ll have to while I finish up my book about all the misadventures I’ve sustained here in Satan George, Utah.

As it now stands, all I need is a dedicated couple of weeks to place the finishing touches on a few of my books and a place to wait for all the subsequent rejections. I just haven’t got the resources to do that here. If I can go to my grandma’s house, I’ll be able to dedicate more time to the effort and concentrate better on what I need to do to improve my writings.

The disadvantages about moving back to Sick City, Idaho are great, as covered by a previous entry sometime towards the beginning of ’05. But, there just isn’t any reason for me to stay in this God-forsaken socialist town any longer. I never should have attempted a life in Utah.

I remember back in the summer of ’04, before I started having so much trouble with the city police, when I used to sit at the gazebo and visit with all the homeless guys who passed through, I used to tell them, “if only I had a laptop computer, that would be my ticket to the future!” I knew, that if I could concentrate on writing a book, I wouldn’t need to depend on anyone else for a job ever again. I’m to that point now. The threshold of my new future.

It’s taken a while, and I’ve taken my time, but it’s time to get it done. I have been content with the homeless lifestyle, but other than the perfect opportunity it provided me to write my books, it is not desirable. Nor is it necessary or convenient any more.

Not to mention the fact that the girls have never accepted me. I hate them. I cannot wait to get back to Idaho, just for the girls. I am so tired of these ‘daughter’s of Zion’ as they are referred to in the books of Isaiah and 2 Nephi. I affectionately call them FUB’s, or f@#%ing Utah b!@#hes, with all their haughtiness and all other abominations mentioned in Isaiah 3 and 2 Nephi 13. They’re not even any different in church!!!

And oh to escape the socialism. Everyone wants to control everyone else. There’s nothing here but cowardice. Interestingly enough, that to is prophesied in the same books and chapters of the Bible and Book of Mormon as the daughter’s of Zion. I have often wanted to get up in church and preach against these foolish traditions and discriminations. I would title my talk [sermon] ‘The Party’s Over’ from the song Willie Nelson sang.

But that would be futile. No amount of preaching will divert the prophesies of these latter days. They are here, for those who are looking, as signs of the time preceding the second coming of Jesus Christ. They are a necessary factor in the grand scheme of things. My only fear is that since the signs were written for the whole world to witness, the plagues I have mentioned above would almost certainly have to infect Idahoans as well.

Perhaps it will not be too late for me to enjoy Idaho once more the way I used to. I hope I may still be able to meet woman not under the category of a ‘daughter of Zion’.

Athletic Works

Easter weekend marked the 27th annual arts festival in Satan George, Utah this year. I enjoy this festival, it reminds me of a mini-miniature Boise River Festival. I have a lot of good memories of that festival when it first started.

The arts festival is similar because of the various performance stages. I particularly enjoy the “library” stage. That’s the stage designated more for children and families-I think. It’s by far the funnest place to be all day long.

I was at the library stage all day Friday and thoroughly enjoyed the performers who were willing to show up despite the rain-sprinkling day. I don’t have the program with me at this time, so I won’t go into detail about who was there and my favorite parts. It was fun.

I spent all day Saturday at the same stage. Towards the middle of the day, however, I got up between shows for a toilet trip. On my way, I happened across a twenty dollar bill. There was no way I would be able to track down the original owner, so I claimed it for my self.

During the rest of the day, I pondered what I would be spending my new fortune on. There are many things I need, but twenty dollars just isn’t enough to buy any of them.

At one point, I shifted my position on the grass and heard the ruffle of the grocery sack I was wearing over my right sock. Because of the rain the previous day, and the hole worn into the sole of my right shoe, I had rapped the sack over that foot to help keep it dry. That’s when it dawned on me that a new pair of shoes may be purchased for under twenty dollars.

So, after the last performance at my favorite stage, I went shopping. First I went to K-mart then to Wal-mart to compare shoes and prices. K-mart had some shoes in the price range, and even some that would be on sale for less than ten dollars starting Sunday, the next day. None of them were anything I was particularly excited about though.

Wal-mart seemed to have even less. I was just about to consign myself to one of K-marts shoes, when, as I was leaving the shoe department, I saw a price tag for under ten dollars. The shoe seemed just what I was looking for. I tried it on, and sure enough, I found my new shoes.

I have been wearing them since Sunday after church. They are a lot more comfortable than those Ozark Trail shoes I bought way back in 2004. These are nine dollars and eighty-seven cent Athletic Works. I don’t know if they will last as long and the Ozark Trail shoes did, and they are not water proof, which is a must in rainy Satan George, Utah, but I did keep the Ozarks and a plastic sack, for those particular days.

So far, I am very satisfied with my new shoes. I remember when I bought my last pair, I had severe blisters within hours of wearing them. Not so this time. Those Ozark Trails were not made for walking, and my feet are definitely happier campers with the Athletic Works.

I got nine dollars and fifty-one cents back at Wal-mart. I think I’ll by a package of Hanes briefs. 😀

Egg Sculptures

With Easter approaching, the St. George branch of the Washington County Library has a display of egg sculptures. Some of these eggs are pretty intricate. I don’t know how they do it. Of course, I’m kinda stuck between the fascination of some of the designs-one egg has a cool castle cut out of it-, and the practical question of why? What is the purpose of doing it in the first place? The sculptures themselves do not serve a purpose.

Happy Anniversary

Today is a landmark day for me. It marks the 2nd full year I have lived as the homeless in St. George, Utah. Today, 2 years ago at 8:00 AM I moved out to a tent in the desert.

Yesterday, when I told the people I work with at the food bank that today was my 2nd year anniversary of being homeless, they responded with skepticism as to whether that was something to be happy about. The answer is yes. I had never been homeless before, and was quite nervous about the prospect. Surviving for a month was quite an achievement, and I’ve done it for 2 whole years now. That’s cause to celebrate, but I didn’t get a celebration.

In the past 2 years, I have gone through 4 bikes, 5 tents, and 3 pair of shoes. My sleeping bag, a heavy canvas thing I bought on a elk hunting trip in ’01 is about worn through on the bottom. I already have a backup. On a daily basis, I am honked at, yelled at, teased, and ridiculed. It is very depressing, discouraging, embarrassing, and humiliating. And yet, I am still trekking along.

My situation has always seemed queer to me. The reason I am homeless, is because no one in this town (Satan George, Utah) would hire me. I can no longer remember how many jobs I applied for and interviewed for in those first three months I lived in here (between January 8 and April 12, 2004). With my experience, I should not have had that problem. I have come to the conclusion that I was guided to this lifestyle at this time for a divine reason I may never fully comprehend or understand.

When I became homeless, I stopped looking for ’employment’, considering employment hunting in this socialist state futile. Instead, I concentrated my efforts on writing my stories. Now, I am quite content. It wouldn’t bother me in the least bit if I never sell a single story. I have everything I need for this mortal life, and what I need for exaltation, I know I will never get, so what’s the purpose? There is none. I am too content.

Well, with no end in sight, happy anniversary to me! 😀

Tolerating Injustice

Yesterday, a front page headline for southern Utah’s socialist rag, The Spectrum, reads, in large print: “JEFFS CHARGED”. According to the article, Washington County has hopped onto the illegal bandwagon, and filed charges of rape as an accomplice against Warren Jeffs. The case alleges that Jeffs encouraged, commanded, or intentionally aided another to have sexual intercourse with a “victim” without the victim’s consent and that he wasn’t even physically present at the time the intercourse took place.

The criminalization of Warren Jeffs is a perfect example of the American justice system gone astray. Which one of the prosecutors have the authority to file charges in the first place? The States of America are constitutional republics where the governments are limited to certain powers and authorities expressly constituted in their respective constitutions. No constitution exists giving government authority to charge citizens of committing crime. Period. The very concept of city, county, state, and federal prosecutors is unconstitutional.

The American justice system is set up so people who feel their rights have been violated may sue the offender for restitution. As the plaintiff, they then carry the burden of proving that a right was violated and that the accused committed the crime. Likewise, people who are accused of violating a right are guarantied the opportunity to face their accusers and to be presumed innocent until a conviction occurs. If the plaintiff is unable or unwilling to prove guilt, the accused is declared innocent. It is as simple as that.

The problem is rooted in the uninformed American citizenry. It is against the law for governments to assume responsibility and obligation outside those privileges expressed in their constituting documents. Yet, how many ‘Americans’ know this? When most of them hear it, they reject it and argue against it. Were they willing to attempt to prove me wrong, they would discover the truth for themselves.

America has been deceived by the subtle tolerance of the British Accredited Registry, or BAR. At first glance, the BAR offers a proved technique for the application of statute law among the people. The greatest flaw with this theory is that it depends entirely upon a sovereign government such as a monarchy or some form of socialism. In a republic the individual people are sovereign, making the BAR concept incompatible with the American justice system.

Statute law itself is an abominable injustice. The concept of redefining words to include actions unrelated should not be tolerated. It exists for the sole purpose of retribution and is a hindrance to the American justice system. Making rape, non-consensual sexual intercourse, a legal term including consensual sex between people of different specified ages, or encouraging, commanding, or intentionally aiding another to have sexual intercourse, for instance.

It is distressing that a legislature would even be allowed to write such heinous statutes when “its jurisdiction is limited to certain enumerated objects, which concern all the members of the republic, but which are not to be attained by the separate provisions of any”*. If the people would stop tolerating the crimes of the government and start enforcing the constitutions, there would be a lot less contentions, fears, and anger in this world.

Every day judges issue warrants, “law enforcers” make arrests, bonds are set, and convictions declared, all without the due process of law. Criminals are made when no crime has even been committed. It is an injustice the American people have come to expect.

If Jane Doe IV’s rights were violated by Warren Jeffs, and she can prove it, let her sue him, the way the American justice system requires.

* James Madison, The Federalist # 14

The Thank You

I think I have finally discovered what the problem was with that thank-you card. In an attempt to work it out, I have written the whole story in chronological order. I hope it helps me understand the situation better and explain the reaction I received.

It all started when I was feeling discouraged and depressed with my current situation. Life in St. George, Utah has not been pleasant for me. This community is very judgmental, hateful, prejudice, discriminating, and unrelenting. I came to look at church as a refuge.

There is two problems with this. One is that I hate going to church; always have, it’s a burden I wouldn’t do if it wasn’t a commandment of God. The second is that the problem with St. George, Utah is not limited to outside the church.

I attend a ward that I have found to be the best of the worst. Before I started going to this ward, I visited others in the area and was treated no different than I would have anywhere else at any other time. For the longest time, I maintained that the only Christian I had met here was my good friend Manuel, an Episcopal, Mexican immigrant. When I first visited the ward, I knew it was different; many people greeted me and welcomed me to church, something no one else had done, at any level, at all the other wards I visited.

Despite the friendliness, I still had to face my hatred of going to church. I moved to St. George to find a good LDS girl and get married. It was apparent that though I was comfortable and felt welcome in the new ward, I was not going to meet her there, like everywhere else in town, the single girls did not want to have anything to do with me and commenced to ignore me. That was somewhat acceptable, I had already resolved to move back to Rexburg, Idaho for my wife hunting.

This did not mean that I was not still hopeful and desirous for female acceptance and friendship or acceptance from any of the community. I became comfortable with my refuge in church. Some good points about having a ward family included regular Sunday school and priesthood meetings, and visits from my Home Teachers. One brother particular was very friendly and greeted me often by name. I always appreciated his comments and presence in Sunday School, the two of us often have the same understand and grasp of the Gospel.

Though I was comfortable with my ward, I often became discouraged with the lifestyle forced upon me by the community and from this important void of companionship. In any given week, I am subject to cat-calls, horn honks, obscene gestures, vulgar comments, and so on. Often I would ask myself, and God through prayer, “how can I love a people who do this”.

And then there’s the youth in this area. Disgracing. These are the men and women out of who the future leaders in church as well as country will be extracted. At one point during the fall of last year, the burden was getting too much for me to bear. I was especially discouraged concerning whether or not women with the moral values and qualities I needed even existed. I silently plead and longed to meet just one girl who would treat me kind and provide me with the hope of something wonderful to look forward to.

One particular Sunday morning, I was moving slow and not sure why I should even bother going to church. I don’t even like going to church. What purpose was it serving me? Yet, like a zombie, I dressed for church and went. I believe, on that morning I was on the verge of giving up everything and walking away from religion and hope altogether; becoming the homeless bum everyone accused me of being.

That Sunday, while I was at church, a young woman greeted me with a comment that had a profound impact on me. I can no longer remember what she said, it was inconsequential and said in passing, but it revived my hope. It provided me with an important insight: there were nice girls after all. Through the weeks that followed, I played that welcoming comment through my mind millions of times, and the beaming smile through which it had been delivered. She had truly lifted my spirits and restored my hope.

From that day on, I looked forward to each Sunday morning. Some Sundays I saw her, some I didn’t. Some days she would say something, others she would just smile that wonderful childish joy smile she has. She always made me feel welcome and accepted. It was like a game to me. All week I would ponder her clever words and wonder what the next encounter would bring. My favorite occurred on a cold day well into winter. I had decided to wear my big heavy coat and felt ridiculous for it. On my ride down I wondered if I would see the girl who had become my personal angel. I was sure that if anyone I knew from West Yellowstone, Montana had seen me, I would be thoroughly teased, and wondered what my angel would think. To my great astonishment and pleasure, there she was standing with her younger brother just inside the door. She had a very playful, almost skeptical facial expression and a mischievous grin. “Cold, isn’t it?” She pronounced “isn’t it” more like “inn’tit”. I smiled and about laughed. I’ll never forget that greeting. My angel.

From the very beginning, I had the urge to give her a thank-you card. I was so appreciative of her acceptance. Over the weeks, I thought often about buying a card for her. It is so wonderful to get a card of appreciation from someone. They give a sense of accomplishment and purpose. I even knew the greater part of what my personal message would say. Thoughts like, “When it seemed as though all were lost, your light has proved otherwise and provided me with the hope and inspiration I was so desperate to receive,” and “you are a wonderful woman,” and how I envy the man she’ll marry, were always there.

I knew for sure I would get her a card after Christmas Sunday. After Church, I had just exited the restroom and was really dehydrated. As I turned the corner to the drinking fountain, there she was sauntering in my direction. She seemed to be studying the floor and contemplating something. Upon looking up and seeing me, her gloomy countenance changed and she cheerfully began skipping-yes skipping, like a happy schoolgirl-the remaining distance to me, that glorious beaming smile shining before her. As I bent down to the drinking fountain she came around me to stand on my right and declared simply, “merry Christmas” and proceeded to lean against the wall and wait for me to finish.

Buying a card presented a little dilemma. I had no money. That’s one of the reasons it took so long for me to get it from the first time I wanted to. As I was contemplating this one day in January, I remembered I had a dollar-fifty left on a Christmas gift card at Target. I also had some change in my pocket, and wondered if I’d be able to get a thank-you card for so little. It was doubtful, but I peddled on over to Target and began looking through the cards.

After a while and having looked at every possible card, I had narrowed it down to the thank-you card I wished I could afford and some multipurpose cards that would work, but left much to desire. I decided to take a walk to the electronics while I thought about the decision. Was it worth giving a card I wasn’t satisfied with? I didn’t want to give the wrong impression. Also, almost all the cards were over a dollar-fifty. I would literally be paying down to my last penny. And of course, I had a strong desire to check the remaining balance on the card, which was weird because I knew I had $1.53 to be exact. If only I could afford the one with the nice poem on the front. That card said everything I needed my thank-you card to say. It was all about kindness. It was perfect.

I considered it for several minutes while browsing the electronics. The urge to check the balance became to much for me so I asked the guy in that department if he could do it. He said yes and, after a few moments, informed me I had over two dollars and fifty cents. Wow, I thought. It all came together, like destiny. I was able to get the card with the poem. I used the last of my gift-card balance and something like eleven cents out of my pocket. It was as if I was supposed to get that card all along.

I didn’t fill it out right away. For one thing, I didn’t know who this woman was I wanted to give it to, and I never would have had the courage to give it to her in person. So, I spent the next couple Sundays watching to see who she belonged to. Imagine my pleasant surprise when I discovered her dad was the very guy I had been admiring from Sunday School. Now I knew why she was so kind toward me when others wanted to shun me; she had a great example. I didn’t know her first name, but it wasn’t necessary to know it.

Incidentally, I also discovered where she got that distinctive smile that I cherished so much. She doesn’t look much like her dad, but she’s close to the spitt’n image of her mother, whom I had never met or really even seen until she bore her testimony that month. It was a wonderful testimony to hear too. I really admired this family and the way they were raising wonderful men and women.

It was Martin Luther King day when the time came for me to prepare the card. Being a holiday, the public library was closed, so I went across the parking lot to the Tabernacle. In the basement, there was a couple comfortable chairs in one of the lobbies. The missionaries, who were used to seeing me around, let me go down there to write my letter in peace.

Though it was a cold day outside, and therefore probably miserable, I was feeling pretty good and spiritual. I wandered into the big room with the art display of the mission of Christ. I found particular interest in the paintings depicting the wars preceding the Second Coming and the millennium of love and peace. It seemed so fitting that I was about to write a thank-you message for someone who gave me hope of that type of future.

It was then that I realized this young woman had been my very own glimpse of that great and marvelous time. In the next millennium, everyone will greet each other with kindness and acceptance, just as she had greeted me. I hope. I hope there will be no ill-judgments and prejudices against our brothers and sisters. I hope there will be no reason for a man to become disappointed and discouraged the way I had. I hope we will all be treated like equals.

That is what she gave me.

The next week, I presented the card to her father. I explained that his daughter had been kind greeting me and that I wanted to thank her. He has more than one daughter and after a bit, we were able to figure out which one I meant, he even insisted on telling me her name. He was happy to get the card and displayed every bit the proud father he should have been.

A few minutes later, while I was waiting near the bishop’s office to be set apart in my new calling, she came over. I was busy talking to someone else, so even though she lingered around for a time, presumably to mention the card, she had left before I finished my conversation. When I was done, I looked for her, but she was gone.

I searched for her with greater anticipation the following week. I couldn’t wait to hear what clever comment she would come up with. I was sure she had wanted to discuss the card with me. Much to my disappointment, her family wasn’t at church that Sunday, nor would they be for several Sundays following.

My bishop brought me the news the very next day. While I was helping to unload a truck full of books at the food bank, he came up. We went to a somewhat secluded section of the driveway where we were able to discuss what was on his mind.

He started by telling me that the night before he had a visit from a woman and her “little girl”. He had made it sound like this mother-daughter duo was new to the ward and in some kind of distress. I was thinking, “what does this have to do with me? I’m just a homeless guy, how can I be help to a woman and her little girl?” Obviously, if they needed a place to stay, I wasn’t going to be much help at all.

After a few confusing minutes of awkward stumbling, he mentioned a thank-you card. Oh! I thought, then I said the young womans name. Then I happily told him all about how kind this woman had been to me and how wonderful I thought she was for that kindness. I wondered what could possibly have happened to make them need my help, or why the bishop thought I could help.

I was in no way, shape, or form prepared for the bomb he dropped on me then. He told me that the card had scared the “little girl” and that her mother was concerned there must be some kind of hidden motive on my part. Apparently, the mother alleged that because I was a shorn-headed tent dweller and had perfect church attendance I was a sexual predator. He told me that he had read the card and told them he did not think the card was anything other than a sincere thank-you.

To make matters worse, the bishop told me they had not gone to church the day before because they didn’t feel comfortable around me. I started to cry then. All I wanted to do was thank her for her kindness, encourage her, and share the joy she brought into my life. She was my angel, and now I was being told that I had scared her and she didn’t want to be around me.

I cannot express how devastated I was.

My initial response was to issue an apology immediately. The bishop told me that he had offered that very possibility to the women, but that they “did not want any confrontations”. He told me he would talk to them again and let them know for sure that there was no hidden agenda. He also told me he probably wasn’t going to be able to do that until the next Sunday evening. He promised to keep me informed, and left.

When Sunday finally arrived, the first thing I noticed was that my angel and her family weren’t there for the second time. When the bishop came over, I asked how things were going with them and he answered that he had not talked to them since talking with me on Monday. That was the last we talked about it.

They returned to our ward the Sunday before stake conference. I barely saw them, and they left the building in seconds flat after the last meeting. I didn’t see her at all until three weeks before General Conference. She sneaked by me walking on the other side of her mom. Two weeks before General Conference, she was at church seemingly alone. At that point, I was still very confused how I had scared her, so I did not acknowledge her in any way.

During this time, I reflected often on my circumstance. In addition to being confused about how I scared this wonderful angel, I didn’t understand why temple attending parents would not have come to me first. They had gone straight to the bishop with their heinous allegation when certain covenants require them to attempt to resolve issues in person first.

I had become very uncomfortable seeing this family avoiding me. It seemed that my angel had become a devil in sheep’s clothing. The bishop’s casual just-ignore-it-and-it-will-go-away attitude was just as distressing. How could I ignore such contentions against me? How could I prevent this reaction in the future?

The Sunday before General Conference, I had a meeting with the bishop to address the issue. He was unsympathetic and unresponsive. He was disgusted at the thought that I could feel humiliated by these allegations. It was his foregone conclusion that what I had done was wrong and should not be repeated. When I asked for an explanation, he offered all sorts of worldly excuses, like television and news, and how society was. At one point, I concluded that the reaction I got was because the ward didn’t know me, and asked him what I could do so that they could. His reaction was to “get a job and move into a house”. He then explained that he could tell a lot about someone by how they mow their grass. I responded by telling him that I knew for a fact he was wrong.

I then suggested that I should stop attending the ward. He answered favorably to that, simply requesting that I inform him what ward I would be attending. So, I left. It is extremely apparent that my bishop is very prejudice and discriminatory. I had the distinct impression that the bishop is deliberately hindering communication between me and the family to whom I wrote the thank-you card in an attempt to weed me out of his ward.

I thought I left empty handed and wrongfully upset. I was wrongfully upset, but the bishop had let something slip during the conversation. He mentioned that he felt the mother and daughter had done the best they could considering that the father may have been out of town on business.

This opens up a whole new light on the subject. If the father, as the family’s patriarch, had not been able to council his wife and daughter, that priesthood authority and responsibility would have fallen to the bishop. If that is the case, the whole matter could have been handled by the bishop through prayer, and what I had perceived as an allegation against me, was just two concerned women asking the bishop for his opinion and counsel. No harm intended and no reason to involve me.

He also revealed that he had not even talked to the young woman directly, dealing only with her mother. This would suggest that all original concern about my thank-you card was confined to the mother. It is, therefore, my assessment that any fear my angel may have experienced, was a reflection of her mother’s misunderstanding, who may have inadvertently reacted negatively towards the card, having never met me. I wonder then, just what she would say about the whole thing, without her mother around. I am convinced that neither I, nor the thank-you card scared her.

Looking back on that young woman’s personality and my original assessment of her character, I have to say that she is a far too independent and spiritually sound woman to have been scared in that manner. In fact, now that I think about it, I would not be surprised to hear she may have even had a crush on me. If her mother thought that, it might explain the nature of the concern, something I had previously considered unwarranted.

So that’s my theory. It’s the one I would rather accept, explaining much and leaving nothing to the worldly excuses the bishop was trying to offer me. We’ll see. I am still going to attend this ward even though I am uncomfortable, they seem uncomfortable, and the bishop obviously doesn’t want me there.

If Wishes Were Horses

“…then beggars would ride on clouds of white stallions with bright fiery eyes chasing stars into corners of yesterday’s skies. If wishes were horses, then beggars would ride…

“… off to a bright colored castle of dreams where folks are just people and things what they seem; where all play the game but the young always win and love to the loser for losing again.”

I thought the last verse of this song particularly provocative. Most of the homeless people I know would agree with a place “where folks are just people and things what they seem”. It is my humble observation and opinion that the greatest need we [homeless] in St. George, Utah have is of acceptance.

I cannot express what a culture shock coming to this place has been. It is appalling how people treat others here. We are all people, regardless of age, gender, race, color, or wealth or any other distinction of difference. We are all equal.

I wonder, how many of you would ride?