Small and Simple is Moving!

That's right. With some help from Connor, I am finally making the jump to Wordpress. The new URL is:

The site is up and running, go ahead and check it out. If you would be so kind to update your links to that site I would appreciate it. Let me know what you think of the look/feel/functionality of the new Small and Simple.

Thank you so much for your support here, and I hope to hear from you often at the new site.

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Small and Simple is Moving!

That's right. With some help from Connor, I am finally making the jump to Wordpress. The new URL is:


The site is up and running, go ahead and check it out. If you would be so kind to update your links to that site I would appreciate it. Let me know what you think of the look/feel/functionality of the new Small and Simple.

Thank you so much for your support here, and I hope to hear from you often at the new site.

Read more!


Leadership, Human Relations, Self-Confidence and 'Night in a Museum'

My family went to see the movie 'Night in a Museum' last Monday. It was okay. Kind of a Jumanji meets Bill and Ted. What message there was in the movie had to do with leadership, self-confidence and human relations. I could not help but think of my Carnegie experience some more. A co-worker of mine, who took the course at the same time, frequently talks about how he has changed, and mentions his behavior in terms of 'before Carnegie' and 'after Carnegie'. It is much the same for me.

During the movie, I thought about how the five drivers of success all work together, and work for anyone in many situations. The five drivers of success are:

Human Relations

I put these in a list in no particulat order, but they should go in a circle of some kind, kind of like the spokes on a wheel. There is no priority to the list, and they all work together. It is actually difficult to separate them.

The method Carnegie uses to help people improve in these areas is a powerful thing. One learns specific things to do in each area. You hear and read about examples in each area. There are specific goals and commitments made for the week. And a two minute talk to the group about what you did, and what the results were. This continues for three months. I'd like to give a brief glimpse at these five areas, not as an expert, but one who is learning.


A vital thing. If you can not view yourself as a good person, who can be a positive influence on others, it will be difficult for you to accomplish much in life. I believe many of us, deep down, believe in ourselves. We may not admit it, but there is a spark there. By going out of our comfort zone and using proper techniques in communication, human relations, leadership and attitude, we can see positive results and build our confidence. Increased chances of success in all areas will then be available to us.


We can not expect to build friendships and be a positive influence if we do not communicate well. Communication is so much more than the words that are used. Our energy, enthusiasm, body language and facial expressions, are very important parts of what we communicate. Also communication is always a two way street. In many cases, true leadership and positive human relationships will only come when the other person does much, if not most, of the talking. You will then be in a position to know where the other person is coming from, and then be in position to be a friend and a positive influence. In time this will help your self-confidence, human relations, leadership and attitude.

Human Relations

So much in life revolves around the quality of our human relationships. I used to think human relations would just take care of themselves. They don't. We must actively do things to promote quality human relations if we want to be successful at much of anything. This is not being manipulative, it is taking responsibility for the quality of our relationships. So much of happiness and success in life will depend on what the quality of our relationships with others are. High quality human relations will increase our confidence, communication, leadership and attitude.


Leadership is something that is difficult for me to define. To me, when one cares about the success of a project, a company, a group, more than his own personal success and ambition they are in a position to be a leader. Helping others to succeed is leadership. Helping others to improve is leadership. Being a positve influence is leadership. This often does not require a position of importance, a degree, a calling, or anything of the sort. The low man on the totem pole can be a leader. A friend can be a leader. A parent. A child. 'A little child shall lead them'. As one awakens to their potential for pure leadership - not just management - their self-confidence, communications, human relations and attitude will all improve. See a pattern here?


For most of us, attitude is something that we can choose. What type of person do you want to be? For many, being a friendly, energetic, enthusiastic, pleasant, happy person is a matter of choice - and understanding what this type of person 'looks' like and acts like. As a man thinketh - so is he. As one begins to value and incorporate an improved attitude into their life, all other areas will be strengthened as well.

Success in many areas of life is often available for the taking. It is not really a competition with others, but a desire for something better for yourself and for those in your area of influence. I am so glad that I am beginning to wake up to some of these things. They are not natural for me. I am noticing subtle improvements in my life. I do not believe I have made a 180 degree change, but perhaps a 5 degree change. But it is encouraging to see how even minor improvements in these areas can have such a positive affect.

I hope this helps someone.

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In Awe of Church Leaders and In Fear of Jesus

One of my earliest memories as a member of the church came when I was about five years old. This was back in the day when families would go to church for Sunday school classes in the morning, and then return for sacrament meeting in the evening. We lived only about a block from the church, and I was walking home alone on a beautiful summer day.

Shortly after I left the building I became aware that someone was walking up behind me. I turned and saw Bishop Parkinson a few steps away. But I clearly remember that I thought that he was more than just a local bishop. I was pretty sure that this man was also Jesus.

The thought that Jesus was walking behind me, and getting closer, filled my little soul with great fear. So I fled. I ran home as fast as my little legs would carry me. I did not turn around or stop until I got home. What a relief to escape this bishop whom I thought was also Jesus.

I have not really given this early memory much thought. But now wonder why I would feel this way. It seems that I had a combination of two attitudes that might be good, or might be less than good. These attitudes are:

1 - An awe for church leaders.

2 - A fear of God.

It is good to have a healthy respect for church leaders. We should sustain them in their callings, and be grateful for their efforts. But Awe? This is an area where my attitude has changed quite a bit. About ten years ago I held church leaders, both local and general, in much higher esteem than I do now. Now they are just people, not much different from me. I do not have the nervous excitement during interviews and conversations like I used to. I don't get to meet many General Authorities, but it would not be as big a deal today as it would have been a decade or two ago.

It might also be good to have a fear of God. We are told to work out our salvation with fear and trembling. There are several scriptures about a proper fear we should have toward God. A common compliment many years ago might be that someone was a God-fearing person. What does it say of a five year old who wants to run away from the thought that Jesus might be coming. Would it be more appropriate that if I thought my bishop was Jesus that I would run toward him instead of away? This is another area where I have changed. I do not fear God as much as I once did. He loves me. His work is to bring to pass my immortality and eternal life. Why should I not seek his companionship? I have even thought at times that if it were time for me to step up to the judgment bar of God that I would do so without much fuss. I do not say this to brag about any great righteousness. I'm just not that afraid of Him anymore.

So, I am not currently in awe of church leaders, nor do I have a great fear of God. Is this progress?

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On Baptizing Thousands

I served in the Georgia Atlanta Mission in the mid 80's. We once had a visit from Elder Robert E. Wells who was a member of the Quorum of the Seventy at the time. For those who do not remember him, he had a very stern face and a big booming voice. He had a commanding presence, and could be a little intimidating.

During a meeting with a room full of missionaries, he asked a companionship that was sitting near the front to stand up. He asked them how many convert baptisms they had during the past month. They admitted that they had not had any. He asked about the previous month, and with some relief, they reported having one baptism. Elder Wells thanked them and invited them to sit down. He then posed an interesting question.

He asked what we thought might happen if Thomas S. Monson and Boyd K. Packer were to take a year off as Apostles and serve in the same area as the two missionaries he had questioned. How many baptisms might they have?

'50', said one Elder. '100', said another. 'Thousands', someone suggested. Many nodded in agreement. Certainly these great Apostles would have many times more baptisms than the Elders would have. Elder Wells then asked an interesting question: What would be the difference?

There was a few moments of silence as we thought about it. An Elder raised his hand and answered, 'They would have the spirit with them stronger than Elders would'.

'NO!', bellowed Elder Wells. He told us that missionaries can have the spirit with them every bit as much as Apostles do. What would be the difference?

A few moments more and a missionary offered, 'They would know the scriptures better than we do'.

'NO!", was the reply once again. He told us that if we studied as we should we would know the scriptures well enough to teach quite effectively, and that increased scriptural knowledge would not lead to more converts. What would be the difference?

A while later someone tried, 'They would work harder'.

'NO!", was loudly declared. These old men would not get more converts by increased exertion. Now come on, what would be the difference?

About this time we were stumped and intimidated. No one wanted to reap another 'NO!' from Elder Wells. But he was not about to let us off easy. He wanted an answer, and he wasn't going to go away without what he was looking for.

Finally a little Elder near the back timidly raised his hand and suggested, 'Maybe with the Apostles there the members would be more excited about missionary work'.

'Yeeeesssss', came the smooth and approving answer. We really felt the spirit then, or was it just relief?

Would more excitement and enthusiasm for missionary work among local members truly result in dramatic, long-term increases in convert baptisms? Is that all that is lacking? Are there really thousands of people in small towns across America, and the world, that are only kept back from eagerly joining the church because church members lack missionary zeal?

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Typical Day in Kenya

Dear Eric,

One of our typical activities is driving the young Elders to see their investigators
and to visit branch members. We have the only transportation(a Nissan pickup) and
the people we have to see are so widely scattered that it is the only feasible way.
We may drive 5 to 10 miles on a tarmac road, turn off on a dirt road for a mile, turn
off onto a track with bushes scraping the sides of the pickup, barely making it through mud puddles, finally getting out and walking a hundred yards and there is a mud hut where the Relief Society President lives!

She welcomes us, obviously very pleased with our visit, and invites us inside her home. Inside it is very dark and often quite hot, especially if the hut has a metal roof. She has a low table covered with a cloth she has embroidered, surrounded by a wooden couch and a couple of wooden chairs. She prepares a cup of hot cocoa for us as we watch the chickens come and go through the open door. All the children in the neighborhood gather around to see the visiting "wazungus"(white people) and want to shake our hands. A cow wanders past the door.

We discuss the gospel with her, perhaps giving a lesson to her daughter-in-law who is
visiting and is not a member of the church. She asks one of us to leave a blessing on her home, which we are glad to do. We part with many hand shakes and smiles and with tears in our eyes, stunned by her humble circumstances and her strong testimony and absolute dedication to the gospel. She walks two hours to get to church every week. That is two hours to church and another two hours back home! As we drive away we feel shame at the knowledge that if our circumstances were reversed we would probably not even be active members. Who is actually teaching the gospel here, she or us?

Thought you might appreciate this perspective.

Love, Dad and Mom

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What You Don't Know (about me) Can't Hurt You

I got tagged by Naiah, and am pleased to tell you five things that you may not know about me.

1. This is recent. I have just completed the Carnegie Course which is an intense 12 week training course in Human Relations and Effective Communication. At the final class, there was a vote at the end for which student was the best example of the Carnegie Principles. There was about 40 people in the class, and I won the award. I have come to believe that there are similarities between Carnegie principles and Christ-like character. This is the most meaningful award that I have ever received. When the results of the voting were announced I openly wept. I had not entertained any thought that I would win.

2. When I was in the fourth grade I may have been the best athlete my age in town. When I was in ninth grade, I couldn’t make my school sports teams. I had early dreams of being a professional athlete, and had those dreams crushed at a young age, and in an instant. This continues to be a downer on my self esteem.

3. I was voted the most outstanding music student in my high school. I received a small scholarship as the best music/academic student at Madison High School. I turned down a music scholarship to Utah State and went on my mission first. I later decided music was not going to be my career choice. I was a heck of a high school saxophone player.

4. I raised pigeons when I was young. I got the pigeons by sneaking out of the house at 2 in the morning and going to nearby barns and commercial buildings. I did this because at night you can shine a flashlight on a pigeon and it will just sit there. You can then pick it up and put it in a sack. My parents never knew until I told them several years later. It’s 2 a.m., do you know where your kids are?

5. I met my wife at Ricks College, and we got married in Colorado. On our way to the wedding, our car broke down in the middle of Wyoming. We had to hitch-hike to get to our wedding. We then had to return all our wedding gifts to pay for the repairs.

I would now like to tag Bradley, Bookslinger, and Tyler.

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Baseball Grandma

We once visited my grandparents in Blackfoot Idaho on a beautiful sunny day. I was about 9 years old. I got a little bored and decided to snoop around. In their shed I found a baseball bat and a ball, so I decided to play with them in the back yard. I would toss the ball up a few feet in the air and try to hit it. After a while I decided that what I really wanted to do was practice hitting a pitched ball. All I needed was a pitcher.

I asked my father, and he told me that he was busy visiting, and the answer was no. My mother gave a similar answer, as did my grandfather. I made these requests quite frequently, and often had positive results - just not this time. I then decided to ask grandma.

At this time my grandmother was probably around 70 years old. I really didn't know much, or understand much, about arthritis and osteoporosis. I just wanted someone to pitch to me. I asked grandma and she said okay.

We went outside and played. She pitched and I hit. She would then chase down the ball - sort of, and we would do it all again. After a while, if I remember this right, my parents came out and put an end to our arrangement. I received a mild scolding about begging grandma to play with me, which I may well have done.

It was not long after this that my grandmother's health got worse. This was inevitable. For the last several years of her life she couldn't get around very much. She spent her final years in what I imagine were constant discomfort and pain. I think of he sometimes, and I am much more likely to remember times like when grandmother and I played baseball together, than about the crumpled up woman in a wheelchair who could hardly move.

How do you want to be remembered? I think it may be good advice to treat others in the way you want them to remember you by. If you do this you will have a positive influence on all those around you that will bless your life and theirs.

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Kenya: Getting Started

My parents have arrived safe and sound in Kenya and sent the following email:

Dear Family,
Sorry for the delay in replying. We have not yet gotten our computer
connected to the phone line. The line had been disconnected and we are
having a problem getting it connected again. We are using a friend's
computer now. We will get back to you again as soon as we are connected.
All is going well and we are meeting some very interesting people and
seeing much that is strange.
Talk to you later.
Love, Mom and Dad

Sounds like a typical mission so far.

I also got this picture from the mission president (who happens to be quite familiar with LDS blogs). In the picture we have:

From left to right, President Gabriel Kandawala (Sikhendu Branch), Elder Nielson, Edward Ndung'u (son of Kitale Branch president), and President Martin Ndung'u. President Ndung'u had just presented your father with the hat he's wearing, to protect him from the sun.

My dad seems quite happy, which makes sense. He likes hats.

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Elder/High Priest Transition

If you must know, I turned 40 this month. Among the many things I have thought about as I crossed this milestone is the odd transition from being an Elder to being a High Priest. For now I am only an Elder. As far as I know I am the second oldest active Elder in our ward.

It was not many years ago when our little ward here in Michigan had no High Priest's group. The bishopric consisted of all the active High Priests in the ward. The stake presidency decided it was high time we had a High Priests group, and decided that every temple recommend holding Elder over 40 should be ordained a High Priest. Thus the group began.

For many the ordination to High Priest is accompanied by a calling to a bishopric, High Council or similar call. For others it appears to be simply a public acknowledgment of advancing years. Is there any advantage to being a High Priest?

Section 107 states that High Priests administer over spiritual things. That sounds nice. Certain callings require the one serving to be a High Priest. High Priests seem to be allowed to sleep during meetings without harsh penalties. I understand that High Priest group meetings can take off on all kinds of interesting tangents. I also believe that when one receives the Melchizedek priesthood he receives all of it. Is there that much difference between the two offices?

A few decades ago there were High Priests, Seventies and Elders all serving at the ward level. My impression of things at that time is that there was a division of responsibilities between these groups (possibly unwritten). The High Priests often took the role of redeeming the dead, the Seventies were the proclaim the gospel group, and the Elders tried to perfect the saints. Now with no Seventies, there is more of a sense that each group should be involved in every mission of the church.

Perhaps this is vanity speaking, but I think I would prefer that if I am to someday become a High Priest, that it is a necessity of some calling, other than somebody noticing that I am getting rather old. I would also prefer if it after my father returns from his mission (so he can do the honors), and before he ... can't. Fortunately, he is in good health and should live a long, long time - more.

Is being a High Priest all it's cracked up to be? Should there be a division in Relief Society with old sisters over there and young sisters over here?

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link to MA