Category: News (Page 1 of 29)

Pig trucks, missing Ubers and rain, Oh my!

One of assignments in July was to attend a conference on human trafficking with a member of the church who is opening an aftercare center for children who have been rescued. We rode together to the University of Santo Tomas to attend. We listened to lectures and watched videos. It was hard and heartbreaking. Friday we visited an aftercare shelter. It was hard and impressive at the same time. The girls we met showed the resiliency of the human spirit as they shared their stories. Those who had been their the longest had light in their eyes. Those more recently arrived would smile a bit and then you would see a deep sadness in their souls. Their faces and stories still haunt me. Sister Cecilia was at the conference with other nuns. She works with this center and others that are part of the. Visayan Forum. She sat near me and translated for me.

That night I wrote about the crazy experience Julie and I had on the way home.-

Tonight-on the bus from Antipolo to UST Julie and I decided that we needed to follow the example of a nun on the bus with us and hop off halfway there instead of going all the way to UST. We had just watched the nun hop of the bus and hurry to jump in a jeepney. If we hopped it would be faster to get home or so we thought. We crossed the two lane service road wove through the jeepneys under the over pass and across two more traffic lanes to the 7-11 to request an Uber pickup. Just as we got there it began pouring. We sheltered under the awning and waited and watched 5 or 6 other groups get in their Uber’s. Then we realized that it looked like ours had passed us. We were watching and never saw it. The map now said it was 17 minutes away. This happened twice. While we waited two trucks with open beds filled with pigs went by. We cancelled that Uber and ordered another one. It did exactly the same thing! Why couldn’t they find us! We requested another car and it looked like he was right in front of us. Fortunately, he texted and said he was at the MiniStop. We told him to wait and trucked across the traffic and jeepneys back to the other side. Yay! The rest of the trip home was uneventful. That one night in the rain when we could’t get a ride and trucks with pigs kept driving past!

My favorite toy


Chatty Cathy

The first toy  that came to mind was my Chatty Cathy doll. I am not sure when I got her, but she was a very popular item for Christmas that year. I got one and Susan did. too. Mine worked, Susan’s did not and the stores were all sold out. Her Chatty Cathy was exchanged for a Charming Chatty. Charming Chatting was cooler in some ways. Chatty Cathy had a string on the back of her neck that when pulled she would talk- “I love you! I’m hungry, I’m sleepy.” She had about 10 phrases that she could say. This was great in the very beginning, but became boring really fast. On the other hand, Susan’s Charming Chatty was a bit ugly and wore a sailor dress, but her coolness factor and what made her truly the superior doll were the little records that you inserted into her that allowed her to say so much more than Chatty Cathy. Plus, Charming Chatty had eye glasses. I think I actually liked her better than Susan did. I think she always felt bad that her Chatty Cathy didn’t work and she got the uglier doll. I am not sure why we just didn’t trade.

Charming Chatty

Charming Chatty


The Aunts

When I was young I had two aunts in my life on a very regular basis. I saw them for sure every Tuesday night for dinner and every Saturday for shopping. Neither of the aunts were married and neither drove a car. Arvilla was my grandmother’s sister and Hilma was my grandmother’s aunt. So they we my great aunt and my great great aunt. Since I spent every Tuesday and Saturday with my grandma we also spent part of that time with them.

Hilma Ekstrand

Hilma Ekstrand

Hilma was very eccentric. In the 1960’s she stood out in her leopard prints and her big hats. She worked at Auerbach’s department store on the corner of State Street and Broadway in Salt Lake City. One of the perks of her working there was watching the Christmas parade from the store windows. Hilma’s day off was Tuesday and so she cooked. She would ride the bus up to Wainwright Bakery for roll dough and then shop at Buyrite Grocery for whatever she felt like cooking that night. Always, the best things for dinner were her rolls. Hilma was not a good cook. One night she decided to cook rabbit. I had heard the aunts and grandma talking about it in the kitchen so I refused to eat it. They told Susan it was chicken and she ate it. Later, when grandma told her it was rabbit she vomited all over me and the bed. I guess that’s what I deserved for not telling her she was eating a bunny, before she ate it.

Whenever, my dad told us to try a new food at home and we said we didn’t like it. He would say, “You’ve never tried it.” Our reply was always, “Yes, we have! We tried it at Hilma’s!” Amazingly, it worked every time.

We drank a lot of iced tea at Hilma’s we put at least two tablespoons of sugar in it and a lot of lemon juice. It was more like a little tea with our lemonade. (Disclaimer-No one in my family attended church when I was young and no one was teaching me about the Word of Wisdom). Hilma loved to garden and back then we thought her back yard was huge and amazing. She had a fish pond, lots of white wrought iron chairs and benches to sit on, and lots of paving stone paths to follow. She also had several pink flamingos way before they were cool. Susan and I loved playing back there during the summer months and dinner was always outside enhanced by the smell of citronella candles to keep the mosquitoes away.

At Christmas, because she was Swedish she always planned a smorgasbord. The dining room table was laden with cold cuts, deviled eggs, rolls, pickles, boiled shrimp and a variety of sweets. Mom and grandma always warned us away from anything but the sweets since Hilma kept this spread out all day long. That way she was prepared in case anyone dropped by with Christmas greetings and all the relatives did come. My favorite Christmas sweets then were the Mexican Wedding cookies coated in powdered sugar. They were messy, but yummy.

I heard that Hilma had a beau once. I’m not sure why she never married.

Arvilla Kathleen Brown

Arvilla Kathleen Brown

Arvilla lived with Hilma in my great grandparents house. Although the house had two bedrooms, they chose to sleep in twin beds in the same room for as long as I can remember. They both had quite a collection of dolls and stuffed animals that they arranged every morning and took off every night.

Arvilla worked as a librarian at West High School. She wore her long waved auburn hair back in tight bun. She was very stern. I both admired her and feared her. She believed that children should be seen and not heard. I adhered to that whenever I was at her house except when I was in the backyard. Susan and I spent as much time as we could outside. From time to time she would read us a new book. The one I have always remembered was, “Patty’s Moon.” It was about a girl and the crescent moon. Whenever Susan and I saw a crescent moon we would say, “Oh look! It’s Patty’s Moon!

Every Saturday we would drive up to the east side of Auerbach’s to pick Hilma up from work. Then we would go and get Arvilla at home. Grandma took them shopping every week and every week she bribed us with a Little Golden Book if we were good. You must understand that this was excessive shopping for two little children. We spent every Saturday morning shopping with grandma and every Saturday evening shopping with the aunts. We survived, had quite a collection of Golden Books and I don’t ever remember getting in trouble.

When I was ten and Susan was nine Arvilla decided to take us on a trip to Disneyland. We were part of a group tour that took the train. It was fun and we made some new friends. Arvilla is credited with bringing any culture and refinement I possess into my life. She took us to concerts, plays and the ballet. Each of these events usually involved a new dress made by my grandmother and lunch before or after the concert at a nice restaurant, usually the Hotel Utah.

The aunts were quirky and eccentric, but I think they loved us and we loved them.

A Sibling-My Sibling #8minutememoir


I only have one sibling. Growing up I always wished we had more brothers and sisters. Not because I didn’t love my sister, Susan, but just because I thought it would make life more fun. My best friend had six siblings and life at their house was always fun. Susan and I got along most of the time. I remember one summer possibly when I was about twelve our parents decided it would be okay for us to stay home while they worked. The alternatives were going to Gramma’s house or having my mom work the night shift. We thought we could handle being alone.

One day when were supposed to be cleaning our room we got into a fight and started throwing stuff around. Then through the open window we heard Mrs. Hutchinson from downstairs yelling at us to stop the ruckus or she would tell our parents. Both of us were surprised and started making slapping and screaming sounds so she would think we were really hurting each other. We threw more stuff around and she yelled her threats up through our window. We sat on the floor laughing so hard we couldn’t breath. We finally decided to stop faux fighting to give her some peace.

I will never forget another time a few years later. Susan and I had come home on a snowy evening. While we waited for our parents to come home we sat in the darkness of the kitchen watching the snow fall. It was a beautiful scene, no one was out. The world was quiet and white. I think we were scared that our parents wouldn’t make it home. We began to sing Christmas carols. The singing  calmed us and we waited for what seemed like forever before Dad’s truck swung up in the driveway. I think of this night whenever I am somewhere with snow or sometimes when I sing Christmas carols.


Memories of My Grandfather


My grandfather, Alma Alexander Gren, was very artistic. He was a sign painter, as in- he painted billboards all over the state of Utah, he did this by hand with paint and brush. He also was a glass blower making neon signs and small blown glass decorations. I remember seeing a neon candy cane and a snowman in the closet at my grandmother’s house when I was young. They used to put these on their Christmas tree. He never brought the Christmas tree home until the night before Christmas. One year this got him into trouble because he could not find a tree anywhere. Finally, he found a scrawny one missing branches. He gathered discarded branches from around the Christmas tree lot and took them and the scrawny tree home. He drilled holes in the trunk of the tree and inserted the branches he had collected. My grandmother told us this story each year and said that it was the best tree they had ever had.


He married my grandmother, Helen Madeline Brown in 1927 and they had 3 children between 1931 and about 1940. I am not sure how long he stayed around after that. He was a wanderer. He was not living with my grandmother by the time I came around in 1954 and I think he was gone long before that. I only remember seeing him at my grandmother’s house once. Another time on a family trip near St George my dad stopped the car abruptly and turned around and went back to a man painting a billboard. My grandfather climbed down and talked to us through the car window for a few minutes.

I remember when the divorce papers were brought to my grandmother, she signed them and cried. She was sad a lot after that and often sang songs that I know made her think of him like, I Love You Truly, The Red River Valley and the Old Rugged Cross but, mostly I Love You Truly.

He soon married Cleo Belle Larsen. I remember seeing him once or twice after that. We went to Las Vegas to see him when he was diagnosed with Hodgkins disease and later at the hospital in Salt Lake when he was there. We went to Roosevelt, Utah for his funeral and that is where he is buried.

I remember when… #8minutememoir

I remember when I thought summer was the best time ever. I remember one summer when Cindy Smith and I would ride bikes everywhere. One Sunday we decided to ride to Farmington. I ended up with a flat tire and we stopped at every gas station on Main Street between Farmington and home to put some air in my tire. I think it was the summer between our Junior and Senior years. What I wore– I remember wearing a green and white striped tank top that I had made with white shorts a lot that summer. I also remember riding bikes to Baskin and Robbins a lot that summer and eating my favorites, chocolate brownie and peppermint fudge ribbon. My flavors always have to match. We rode in the back of Ray Priest’s truck to Pineview. I thought we were going to die. He was a crazy driver. After a day of waterskiing I think I found another ride home. Life was different then- I am not sure how we all figured out what we were going to do and how we were going to get there without the technology we have today. We did have fun!

8 Minute Memoir

I have decided to use prompts from Ann Dee Ellis’s blog to get me writing again. I am going to need to find something similar to get me taking photographs again, too. The idea is to look at the prompt, set a timer for 8 minutes, and write. I like it and 8 minutes is just long enough to complete something.

Stacey is also sending me prompts to get me writing. So the Ann Dee Ellis prompts will appear with #8 Minute Memoir. Stacey’s and those I write from my list of stories will just have a title.

Speaking in church, superman, an old friend…


Elder and Sister Carruth-Courtesy of the very talented Susan Larson

Today was an interesting day in a funny sort of way and I have no pictures to show for it. I stayed up late last night and got up early. We were speaking in the Mustang 1st Ward today. I stayed up to finalize my talk and I also got to talk to Leigh for awhile. She requested advice on cooking a venison roast…I don’t eat venison and I have rarely cooked a roast with any success.

I got up early and hurried to get ready so I could go to the institute and print out my talk (no printer in our missionary apartment, although I have been looking at buying a smallish one). We left in plenty of time. The first thing I noticed when we entered the chapel was that the podium was higher than in most churches. Most have two steps up to them, this one had three. I made a comment about it being like the Rameumpton, it wasn’t really. It just seemed so much higher!

As we waited for the meeting, I looked around the congregation. I keep being surprised by the man wearing the bright blue superman hoodie. It’s not that I cared that superman was there, it just surprised me every time I looked that way. It was a bright contrast to the muted colors of winter the rest of the congregation had decided to wear today. Soon after the meeting started we learned that superman was very special today. He has had a fairly long association with the Mustang 1st ward and he was baptized yesterday. He was confirmed by one of the missionaries today. What a great day for him!

Our talks went well…we think. After the meeting a familiar looking face came up to greet me. Immediately I recognized my friend from high school, Paula Muir Brammer. I guess when you get to be almost 61 and you have moved to 18 different houses or apartments in four states and four foreign countries, you might see someone you know somewhere. She is living here temporarily while her husband trains air traffic controllers.

After sacrament meeting we drove some backroads to get to the Midwest City building and to attend the meetings of the YSA branch. It was great to see everyone and I love being there. Sunday school class was quite hilarious, the discussion was about how John the Baptist came to teach repentance. A member of the branch presidency has the funniest stories and today he told one about his grandson, potty training, and how he blames the “wiener” dogs for his accidents. This good man was trying to tie the story to repentance and how this little boy needs to repent. I was nearly rolling on the floor. The teacher also confessed her sin of stealing her sisters fruit snacks and hiding the wrappers in her toy drawer. It was a good Sunday!

Now, I’m off to prepare my next lesson-Paul teaching on Mar’s Hill in Athens.

P.S. I need to take more photos!

Time flies…



Choose your own ending…

A. …on wings of lighting.

B. …when you are having fun.

As far as our mission is concerned I think the answer is both!  We have been having fun and the time is flying. As of today we have exactly 11 months left of our 18 month mission.

We have fall semester classes behind us. We learned so much about the first half of the Book of Mormon and four gospels in the New Testament. We learned much about teaching,  ourselves and the students in our classes. We taught two classes and visited two others. We baked a tremendous quantity of treats and watched as they were devoured. I watched one young man eat up to 12 cookies at a time.

We start teaching again next week. We will continue on and complete the Book of Mormon and the New Testament. There are plans for us to teach a Building an Eternal Marriage class that will begin as soon as the students have been identified.

Each month the institute plans a Family Home Evening for the University Ward. We take turns with the Bailey’s so we have planned a few…Write your own obituary, Minute to Win It Games and Making a Gratitude banner. We continue to attend both the ward and the branch alternating between them for Sunday meetings and FHE nights.

Alex, Stacey, Ellie, Daniel and Tyler came to spend Thanksgiving with us. We had a fun weekend hanging out and going to various playgrounds. We even made it to the zoo one morning. The time was far to short.

In our free time we have tried many mediocre restaurants and found three great ones so far, Simply Falafel, Pho Bulous and Cafe Icon. We drove to Okarche, OK during the Christmas break and had the famous fried chicken and okra at Eischen’s Bar…the oldest bar in Oklahoma. The week before Christmas we were in Houston for my scan at MD Anderson. It went well, the cancer is still gone. It was fun to spend time with James, Kristina, Andrew, and their families. David turned 8 in November and decided that he wanted to be baptized when we were there in December. So far we have been to all of the baptisms. We plan to be in South Africa at the end of the year for Izzy’s.

Andrew, Leigh, Rorey and John came for a visit the week after Christmas. the days that they were here it was cold so we played and hung out here. We did get one day of duck feeding and play grounding in.

Things are going well in Edmond.


Our Week

I am not doing a good job of keeping you updated on what we are doing. It has been busy with the start of a new semester…preparing lessons and baking and more baking. I would welcome any treat ideas you have sweet, savory or gluten free. 

During the summer we taught a class in the south stake and Elder and Sister Bailey taught a class in the OKC stake. We are not teaching the class in the south stake this semester, Brother Valletta our S&I coordinator (CES employee) is teaching that class (29 students), but we will visit often and will sub for him sometimes. 

The Bailey’s are teaching the Wednesday night Book of Mormon class here in Edmond and they had 23 students. They also take lunch on Tuesdays to the class at the OU health Science Center. We plan to trade off with them in the future so we can visit this class. We teach a Tuesday night New Testament class in Edmond and we have 20 students registered for that class. We also teach a Book of Mormon class in Shawnee with 4 students. We visited that ward today and met some more potential students. We will work on praying them there. Shawnee is about 50 miles from here, each way. One of the interesting things we learned was that two of our students work for “The Tribe.” That’s exactly how they said it. The tribe is the Pottawatamie Indian tribe. There are many different Indian tribes here in Oklahoma and from what our students tell us they are very wealthy. The casinos are always run by the tribes. One girl works at the preschool and one of the young men works as a bagger at the tribe’s grocery store. 

Tuesday, we will be teaching for Brother Valletta at the Stillwater institute next to the Oklahoma State University campus. He is going to court to finalize the adoption of his youngest son. So we are definitely staying busy. We also go to the temple once a week. It’s only a 30 minute drive from here.

This week besides our missionary activities and attending the temple we finally made it to POP’s on Historic Route 66. It’s an interesting place, it’s a gas station, convenience store, burger joint. They have a huge bottle of pop out front and we hear that at night it’s lit up with neon. We’ll have to check it out.

Here’s the 66 foot tall pop bottle and the front of the convenience store/burger place: IMG_5063
IMG_5064They are famous for stocking 600 hundred different kinds of soda from all over the world. (EXCEPT, the one I was looking for, Shikuwasa, from Okinawa). Although, I did see a few Japanese sodas, none that I recognized. Andrew and Leigh…They did have Cheerwine. Every bottle is $2.19. Here are our selections, both root beer: photo 3 We also had burgers with fries and onion rings followed by this dessert, an apple pie-ish thing topped with ice cream, whipped cream, caramel sauce and cherries. It was huge and yummy: photo 5   They have cartons to fill with your favorites, which we did not do. At $2.19 each, that’s a pricey 6 pack. However, 6 packs were flying out the door. photo 5 photo 1 All the windows across the front and back of the shop are lined with bottles of pop.
photo 2 photo 4 Then yesterday after our visit to the temple we drove to Choctaw to this: photo 5Yes, we know it’s still August, obviously those who live in Choctaw know something about when to hold Octoberfest that the rest of the world has missed. We went mainly to eat and it’s a good thing since the main attraction seemed to be drinking beer. We had water!
Our meal, bratwurst on a pretzel bun and smoked pork chops smothered in sauerkraut with red cabbage. We also had potato pancakes with applesauce:

photo 1 photo 2 We listened to two bands, the first played polka type music and the second played Cajun??? There were even a few people dancing.
The decor:
photo 4
Today on our way back from Shawnee took Route 66 again and got to see the Round Barn in Arcadia, it’s just a little east of Pop’s. It was built in 1898.
photoOkay, so there you have our week. We love you all and miss you!

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