|At the first waterfall on our hike up Timpanogous.|
Now that the red-eye bleariness is beginning to wear off, I am taking a vacation from my Utah and Idaho vacation to get a bit of offline-work done. In the midst of the post-vacation, pre-school work, I find myself reflecting on the land of perfect hair, pre-made fry sauce, and vinyl-sided homes.
I admit to not being a fan of much of Mormon culture, especially where it sits in opposition to Mormon doctrine. (Prime examples being drives to perfection that lead to Prozac and mortgage failures rather than relying on the Atonement of our Savior and financial self-reliance and planning. However, I am a big fan when our culture emanates from doctrine, such as the Utah delegation to the Republican convention using their suddenly free Monday yesterday to prepare care kits for hurricane victims in preparation for Isaac.)
However, I got a rare view into the genesis of that culture as I visited a small farming town in rural Idaho where my husband's family has a rather large farm. As we walked the perimeter of its 1,000 acres, a neighbor stopped his car and backed up to say g'day. Another neighbor finished plowing a row in his field and then hopped off to come join the conversation (after chatting, he left abruptly after getting a laugh from telling a very funny, completely unrelated political joke). These neighbors discussed their common plight in facing down the government and in working hard long after most retire.
When the Saints gathered in Utah over one hundred and fifty years ago, Brigham sent them to distant wildernesses to tame the desert and make it blossom like the Biblical rose. I'm sure the towns they started mirrored this small Idaho farming town, where almost everyone shared the same faith, the same challenges, and the same work ethic. This tight-knit community feeling replicated itself in dozens and then hundreds of small and growing towns in the intermountain West, from Albert, Canada, to the Mormon colonies in northern Mexico and eventually to the Polynesian islands and Hawaii where missionaries met with enormous success.
In towns that have almost (but not quite) outgrown its agricultural roots, the feeling of common faith, challenges, and work ethic yet produces a strong sense of community as in my smallish (but growing) hometown of Provo, Utah. Just as my father-in-law knew each person and each tractor in his hometown, my father ran into his neighbor across the office complex while up at Emerald Lake atop Timpanogous mountain, and I knew the couple sitting in front of me (she was my high school English teacher at Timpview High School, he my law professor at BYU) and a member of the bishopbric (my hairdresser's husband) in the random ward we attended on Sunday.
This strong sense of community based on common values and beliefs has replicated itself across the main body of the Church. As my dad says (and I have said before on this blog), "Mormons are Mormons are Mormons" wherever you go, and you can count on fitting into the LDS community wherever one lives in the world--with rare exceptions--either temporarily or permanently.
I concluded that there is no place like home - not only is community strong there, but Provo is a beautiful town nestled against the Wasatch Mountains with quick access to even more beautiful places up its Canyon or down south in the land or red rocks.
But thanks to the LDS culture of community wherever one goes, a Latter Day Saint can always find a congregational family that share common beliefs, challenges, and work ethic and, well, just feels like home.
|Dad Toler, the cow whisperer. These cows literally congregated along the fence at his behest.|
|We rented a Harley Davidson for the week as Lance's birthday present - thanks, Mom and Dad Toler!|
|The view from the top of the Gap.|
|Dad Toler resting against "Landmark Rock" in the Gap.|
|River and rope swing at Lava Hot Springs.|
|Top of the North Peak of Old Tom. I think Lance looks awesome in a cowboy hat.|
|Mom and Dad Toler.|
|Jacquie and Mark.|
|Turns out Lance is a great shot.|
|The old barn at the farm. We saw a Great Horned Owl sitting in the window two nights out of four.|
|See the Billy Goat?|
|At Emerald Lake with feet in freezing water after a serious elevation climb.|
|I was so proud of my dad for making it!|