• A Mormon miracle

    by Donald K. Sanders

    Last week, Libby Earthman and Sara Tremayne of the Putah Creek Council (PCC) asked me if I’d like to help them get ready for a very big volunteer planting event. “Wanna help?” they said. Well, I can tell you, I was on the spot because with Libby’s beautiful smile and Sara’s piercing blue eyes, how could I say no. I said, “Yes.”

    They told me that this is no ordinary volunteer planting event because there would be 300 to 400 people; all from the Mormon Church. At first I thought, “OMG, there is no way I want to be around 400 Mormons!” I thought they would be hanging around in little groups, preaching at me, and trying to save my soul. There was no way I wanted to hang around all day with 400 Mormons. There was no way I wanted to hang out with anybody.

    I took a minute to let my big brain think this over. Well, I thought and I thought for about a whole minute or so before it dawned on me that for the last 50 years or so, only one person in the whole world was actively trying to save my soul. He is an elderly gentleman that comes to my house and gives me religious pamphlets and reads a word or two from the Bible. He comes about once a month, just like clockwork and he too is a Mormon. Yep, out of 7 billion people on Earth, only one Mormon cares about my soul.

    However, that’s a different story so I’ll stick to the subject at hand. These volunteer planting events held by the PCC take a lot of planning and prep work. Well, I don’t have to tell you that an event with 400 volunteers has to take a lot of extra preparation to get it ready. I helped and I helped every day for about 10 days because there are about a thousand little things that have to be done before the volunteer workers arrive. That’s where I come in. Libby calls me her “Super Volunteer!”

    Normally I will help with the preparatory work and then step out of the picture. Libby and Sara have an elite group of “Stewarts” that step in to direct the real planting event. So, to cut a long story and make it short, we worked and we worked every day for about 10 days to get everything ready for the coming of the Mormons. Some days I worked an entire hour.

    The volunteer work that I do with the PCC not only keeps me active and less fat, and it puts me in a unique position to see what goes on behind the scene at these volunteer planting events that seem to be held every Saturday. I think it’s about four times a month. If I put too many Saturdays in there, it would be over a month. Anyway, what I do see is the streamkeeper, Rich Marovich, and Libby and Sara working at least 10 hours every day, sometimes more, to get the Winters Nature Park ready for us to enjoy. I get really tired just watching them.

    Like I said, this planting event is special, so I found my name on the PCC Stewart assignment list. I was to help Rich Marovich at the planting sites near where Pedrick Road intersects with Putah Creek. Our assignment was to direct the setting of about 250 posts and to run a large 2 1/2 inch rope for the length of about 2,000 feet. I thought that hundreds of Mormon volunteers would be bumping into each other and nothing would get done. I was wrong.

    I’ve never seen anything like it since I got out of the Army. Arriving in a convoy, hundreds of Mormon volunteers with tools in hand moved like a thousand ants through the brush setting post after post, one after the other. Before I knew it, they were pulling the rope through the eye of the post like a giant snake, 2,000 feet long. I could not believe the amount of work they got done in just a few hours.

    All of a sudden, I’m thinking to myself, “This was truly a miracle.” I’m not talking about how much work they got done. The miracle I’m talking about was within me. For the very first time, I could see the members of the Mormon Church clearly. These people were top of the line. At a time when families across the world are falling apart, they are solidifying as an extended family; they are strengthening and nurturing themselves in righteousness and in truth. For them, every season is a season of goodwill.

    I could clearly see that these Mormon families are the same families that crossed this country as pioneers. Their families are responsible for many of the good things we have today. These families built half of the roads and many of the cities from the East coast to the West. Yep, my big brain is telling me that these people of the Mormon Church are among the best of us and if I could be just a little more like them, I would feel much better about myself and I’d probably be a whole lot happier.

      • Carolyn Wyler

      • May 6, 2012 at 4:55 pm
      • Reply

      Thanks for writing this Donald. I’ll share with my Mormon friends and family.

    • Still not voting for Mitt and when they donated in mass to defeat Gay marriage rights in California nothing you say will change my mind, Maybe it was just the good ones that helped:) in Winter’s.. No offense to the good ones. Let them convince the bad ones to change their ways. 🙂

    • Donald, I liked the story, and HOW you described it, as well as how you felt. Nothing is black and white in life, and certainly not cultures or religions, at least in my experience. So, I’m happy to hear that you had a positive experience. We need all the inspiration we can get in life!!!

      • Jesse

      • May 7, 2012 at 10:53 pm
      • Reply

      Nice story. Sometimes Brian and I volunteer for One Brick. The folks show up at an appointed time and everyone works. It is always a good time. I especially like effecting positive change in the landscape. They aren’t Mormons though. There sure are good people everywhere and we just don’t hear enough about them.
      Thanks for the story. I’m not voting for Mitt either. I am pro-choice (right to marry, right to see the doctor, right to birth control, right to vote, right to privacy…). Jesse

    • I’ve worked a lot with Mormons, too, and while they are nice family-oriented people, and I believe in unity and acceptance of all people and cultures, I’m suspect about their belief systems. Until the 70’s, they didn’t allow black people to be church members, believing them to be inferior. The book of Mormon say that those born with dark skin were meant to be slaves. And just like they banded together to build that park, they also banded together with their money in the 70s to beat down the ERA, and again in the last couple years to beat down gay marriage.

      Keep one eye open, that’s all I’m saying.

    • I also think it’s very sketchy that they don’t allow anyone inside their temples unless they are indoctrinated into their faith. That is not a Christian value. Christian and Catholic churches open their doors to all, every color, every faith, the poor, the homeless, not just the indoctrinated.

        • Carolyn Wyler

        • May 8, 2012 at 8:51 pm
        • Reply

        Holly, I’ve been in their temples and I found the ceremony’s very strange and not at all spiritual or calming, although most of my family and a lot of my friends who are Mormons do find them inspirational. I felt the ceremony inside is condescending to women and weird. I thought about writing a column about it but out of respect to my family and friends, I think I’ll avoid that one. I don’t agree with the Mormon church at all anymore and have in fact had my records removed. I too will not be voting for Romney as I am pro choice, pro marriage and pro multi cultures.

        But on the positive side of the Mormon church, they do do a lot of community service and are very pro family and generally honest, hard working people.

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