I’ve missed a few days for this year’s gratitude project. I was off on an adventure in northern Arizona that included nearly 10 National Historic Landmarks, 1 National Park, 3 National Monuments, and more.
I’ll be sharing about those experiences shortly, but so as not to overload your inboxes with multiple posts a day over the next couple of weeks I’ll limit my gratitude posts to once a week. This will give me two more Sundays before Thanksgiving and Thanksgiving Day itself. In the meantime, here are a few I planned to share. Then I ended up hiking all day and going to sleep super early.
Seven years ago I was a newly transferred student to Brigham Young University after receiving an Associate’s Degree from LDS Business College. As I had my general education classes out of the way, my focus was on major coursework. I decided on a communications degree and began taking all of the prerequisite courses to applying for the program.
This is when I met Vanessa. She too was taking these communications courses, and we happened to share Comms 101. We both engaged in the lessons and ended up sitting near each other toward the front of the lecture hall—the front right corner to be exact. The class ended up having a major group component, and as you may guess Vanessa and I were in the same group.
She was much more of a leader than I was at the time and led our team to a successful project. She was also very engaging in the class discussions as I was. Over the next few years our paths crossed in leadership positions on campus at events and more. She was a great classmate who inspired her cohort to be engaged in what was going on and be excited for what was happening. Thank you Vanessa for being awesome and being a good friend and classmate.
During high school I was one of just a few Mormons in the whole student body. I didn’t have a problem with it, but it meant I was a minority. One of my friends from classes and the literary magazine I was co-editor of was a very strong born-again Christian. She shared her story and would lead prayer groups before school. There was always one item you could count on Towela to have and that was her Bible.
Unexpectedly, she was no longer coming to school. Her family had to move to Canada practically overnight, which means she didn’t really get to say goodbye to anyone. She did, however, leave a letter for me. In the letter she explained how I was wrong and what I believed was false. She bore her personal witness of Jesus while trying to do what she thought was right by correcting mine.
I don’t fault her for this. In fact, I still have the letter. Instead, I remember her as an example of the believers. She knew who she was and what she believed and wasn’t afraid to share it or live it. She didn’t care what others may say or think or if it was cool to carry around a Bible. Her letter didn’t dissuade me from my beliefs. If she ever sees this I want her to know that I’m grateful for her example. She was a kind, loving friend. For that courage to share and live what she believed, I will always be grateful.
A Good Boss
Really, a boss who gave me a chance, made me part of the family and provided the opportunity that changed my life. When returning home from Hungary ten years ago, my brother got me a job at This is the Place Heritage Park where he and his friend would be putting on a dinner show about Utah. I was brought along to be the technical crew. This really did change my life, and Cliff is one of the reasons why.
I was immediately welcomed to the team. He was a mentor, a friend and a counselor—like my dad away from home. He trusted me and let me enjoy my work. Over the next few years, I gained more responsibility and had many opportunities at the park to do some amazing things. However, what he may not even realize is how the trajectory of my life was altered because he hired me.
While working at the park, I worked as support for some concerts where Joe Anderson was running sound, Rod Elwood was doing lights and Tyler Castleton was managing the production. We worked a few gigs at the park together and as the holidays drew near, I was invited to join them on Michael McLean’s The Forgotten Carols tour throughout the western U.S. I accepted and for the next two winters traveled from the last week of November until just before Christmas from Seattle to Phoenix as a part of the crew.
Each year when in the Wasatch Front (the part of Utah from Provo north to Ogden) a man named John would help us load-in, set-up and strike. Anyway, the second year I was contemplating going to BYU the next year for school, and John was the Technical Director for a performing group there. We talked about it and I was offered a position as the Stage Manager for the BYU Young Ambassadors, which really helped me in the application process to be admitted to BYU. Then over the next three years I would tour the world with this performing group.
And that’s just one of the ways Cliff’s hiring me changed my life. Thank you Cliff. Thanks for taking a chance on me, for trusting me and for being a good boss. Thanks for being there when I needed someone and for encouraging me to do great things.