The Short-lived LDS Health Mission Program

By Tulan, from

I am female, went on a mission in early 1980s. I was called as a Health Missionary. It was a program that President Kimball put in place. Health Missionaries went through the traditional missionary training plus extra training to focus on health, nutrition, service etc. I was also sent to a Spanish speaking area so I had language lessons. Health missionaries were not to proselytize, ever, even when doing the health work.

When I arrived at my mission, the mission president told me that I would not be utilized as a Health missionary but as a proselytizing missionary. I politely said that President Kimball called me as a Health missionary and therefore I was to do the work I was trained and called to do. He told me he was in charge at this mission, not President Kimball. The mission president forbid all Health missionaries from doing what we were trained and sent out to do.

During my entire mission I was partnered with another Health missionary. We did the Health training work. Another sister missionary found out and told the mission president. We were split up, and the mission president made sure that two Health missionaries were never put together as long as he was mission president. When I went home he was still mission president. I was never impressed with him, to this day.

During the short time that my Health missionary partner and I were together, we did a lot of health missionary work, and a lot of good. We received more referrals from doing service than from anything else. People asked us what we wanted in return for our help and when we said we wanted nothing, they were very surprised. Because of our service we had many people asking about the church. When we worked with people we did have a prayer before we left, every time without fail.

After President Kimball passed away, the Health missionary program was stopped. What a shame.

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Global Extreme Poverty

Recent United Nations’ Report

While global poverty rates have been cut by more than half since 2000, one in ten people in developing regions are still living with their families on less than the international poverty line of US$1.90 a day, and there are millions more who make little more than this daily amount. Significant progress has been made in many countries within Eastern and Southeastern Asia, but up to 42% of the population in Sub-Saharan Africa continues to live below the poverty line.

Poverty is more than the lack of income and resources to ensure a sustainable livelihood. Its manifestations include hunger and malnutrition, limited access to education and other basic services, social discrimination and exclusion as well as the lack of participation in decision-making.

Important facts:

  • 783 million people live below the international poverty line of US$1.90 a day;
  • Most people living below the poverty line belong to two regions: Southern Asia and sub-Saharan Africa;
  • High poverty rates are often found in small, fragile and conflict-affected countries; and
  • One in four children under age five in the world has inadequate height for his or her age.
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Robert Kirby’s Dilemma: Men and Women Together

Robert Kirby, humorist for the Salt Lake Tribune, was recently suspended for 3 months for interactions he had with a woman at Sunstone, a conference of Mormon fringe elements.

I first need to confess that I have a strong respect for Robert Kirby’s views, although I have never met him or talked to him.  Beyond his humor, his stated beliefs about Mormon doctrine, policy, and procedures closely parallel mine.  We are both males and roughly the same age.  But our backgrounds are totally different.  Enough said.

At Sunstone, it is alleged that Kirby started a conversation with a female co-panelist with an inappropriate comment.  The 2 then had a discussion that involved her being offered and accepting pot.  During their panel discussion at the conference, Kirby outed her for taking pot.  After the panel, the two had their photograph taken together, with the woman tilting her head toward Kirby.

Robert Kirby, Columnist for the Salt Lake Tribune

Last week, the woman, on her popular feminist facebook page, outed Kirby for his inappropriate behavior.  Kirby issued a public apology (which many called lame) and the Tribune investigated the incident.  The columnist was suspended for 3 months.  The newspaper implied that there may have been other incidents.  But they weren’t specific.

During post-facebook-post period, my daughter and I exchanged numerous texts.  She sort of sided with the feminist and I with Kirby.  I’ve also discussed the incident with female acquaintances.

I can agree that Kirby’s opening line to his co-panelist was inappropriate.  Since he apparently didn’t know her, offering her pot was certainly bad judgement, and outing her for consuming it was a serious faux pas.  However, since I don’t find pot consumption to be a serious issue (although it is still illegal in Utah), I’m ambivalent about this part of the story.  The photograph of the two of them together raises some interesting questions.

Kirby’s behavior was gauche.  Poking fun of institutions, and to a lesser degree people (particularly himself), is a big part of his act.  For this reason, he a very popular speaker.  I don’t doubt that he is “full of himself.”  However, in his column he expresses deep affection for his wife and 4 daughters.

The feminist co-panelist is an adult.  At what point is she responsible for her own actions?  After Kirby’s opening line, she could have refused to further engage with him.  She certainly could have refused the pot.  And what’s with that photograph?

Robert Kirby with Co-panelist

Kirby is not the woman’s boss.  As far as I know, he has no job-related or other hold over her.  They are equals.  Her excuse for going along with him was:  hero worship.

Kirby, in his apology, wished that she had talked to him privately.  A reasonable wish, under the circumstances.  But Kirby is a public figure and as such is fair game, I guess.  Feminist lined up to support the woman, including the likes of Kate Kelly.  Me, I’m not so sure.

Male/female relationship as it relates to power and other issues are currently under serious scrutiny.  And justifiably so.  But I’m not sure this is a very good case of an injustice.  Poor judgment certainly.

What if I had been approached by a famous “progressive” woman that I admired at Sunstone.  What if she had referred to me a lothario or gigolo?  If I perceived that it was in jest, I would continue the conversation.  I’m not easily offended.  When offered pot, would I accept?  I don’t know, but I wouldn’t feel any pressure to take it.  If I took it, I’m fair game to being outed.  Remember pot is not a big deal to me, and hell it’s Sunstone.  Beside, I could laugh it off.  And most of all, if I’m deeply insulted, I wouldn’t pose for a friendly photograph.

I realize that the reverse situation is hardly equal.  But it does provide something to think about.

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All About Me

In my autobiography, I describe myself as an introverted agnostic Mormon with anarcho-transhumanist and environmentalist tendencies. I’ve more recently described myself as a curmudgeonly cynical optimist.  But I don’t think that is completely accurate.  Check the following definitions:
  • curmudgeon:  crusty, ill-tempered and usually old man.
  • cynical:  believing that people are motivated by self-interest; distrustful of human sincerity or integrity.
  • optimist:  a person who tends to be hopeful and confident about the future or the success of something.
I will admit to being a curmudgeon, although I’m not particularly ill-tempered.  I am old.  I’m a curmudgeon in the Andy Rooney style. In retrospect, cynical is too strong.  I don’t believe that all people are “motivated by self-interest.”  Certainly Trump is.  But I know too many people who are selfless, many to the extreme.  Skeptical (not easily convinced, have doubts and reservations) is a better description of my personality. And despite my curmudgeonly demeanor and skepticism, I am an optimist.  I have to be; I have 11 grandchildren aged 7-20.
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Vibrant Colors of Yellowstone N.P.

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Escher-esque Architecture

M.C. Escher’s work has fascinated viewers for decades.  According to the Escher website:

He played with architecture, perspective and impossible spaces. His art continues to amaze and wonder millions of people all over the world. In his work we recognize his keen observation of the world around us and the expressions of his own fantasies. M.C. Escher shows us that reality is wondrous, comprehensible and fascinating.

The trompe l’oeil stairs of Escher have inspiration in physical world.

Escher’s Lithograph:  Relativity

The historic step ponds in India are one example.

Restored Step Pond in Abhalneri, India

The historic log lodge at Old Faithful, Yellowstone National Park, USA, is another example.

Interior of Old Faithful Lodge

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Another Playground in the Ocutuan, Peru, Area

Family members and I were recently in Sacred Valley region of Peru.  As part of our trip, we installed a playground at a primary school in Ocutuan.  After our departure, the Cardenas-Torres Family, fabricated and installed playground equipment in Ccoricancha, located near Ocutuan.

Installing the Swing Set in Ccoricancha

Students, Staff, and Working Posing for a Photo

Installed at the school were a swing set, climbing tower, and monkey bars.

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