Sunday, September 29, 2013

David Lange

A few years ago David and Janice Lange (plus three of their daughters) moved into a home at the bottom of our street.  Dave was a bicycle buddy of my brother Bob in So. California so that provided our first connection. Soon we were called to serve as home teaching companions. Then in August 2011 I was called to serve in the Young Men's program (working with the Teachers/Varsity Scouts). Dave was the Young Men's president so every Wednesday, Sunday and on weekend camp-outs we got to interact. Last spring Dave was diagnosed with testicular cancer. He cheerfully endured months of chemo. Yesterday, September 28th, his body gave up the good fight. His untimely passing has sent a shock wave of grief up the street (which has known too much of cancer) and throughout the ward.

Here are some photos of Dave Lange in action over the past two years:

Notch Peak hike fall 2011 (Dave is second from left). (to see more photos click here)

January 2012 ward youth conference. (to read more click here)

Visiting people in an extended care facility.

 Every youth activity would end with his signature Hawaiian chant of IMUA (forward, charge, go forth, carry on).

Spring 2012, hiking the Y for a Mutual activity.

Summer 2012 visit to the LDS set of Jerusalem in Goshen, Utah

Summer 2012 High Adventure: Canoeing the Provo River (to see more photos click here)

Rock climbing in Rock Canyon

Skeet Shooting in Hobble Creek Canyon


Spring 2012 campout on West Mountain. Dave was the most prepared for the cold and wind (four layers), Noah was the least prepared (one layer).

Fire starting competition, arranged by Dave.

November 2012 third annual Sweat Lodge adventrue up Diamond Fork Canyon. Emerging from a cold dip in the stream. click here for more

 Drying off after the sweat lodge and icy stream dip. (Dave is on the far right).

Today in priesthood meeting the Teachers and Deacons plus their leaders met together for a lesson. In place of the assigned topic (keep the commandments, which for the Deacons was a planned lesson on the Law of Chastity, which Joel was happy was preempted), I led a discussion on the topic: "Lessons learned from David Lange." Here are some of the things that were mentioned:

David honored his priesthood by faithfully serving in his callings.

David loved his family and worked hard to provide for them and to teach them. While sitting next to him one Friday night at a volleyball game for the young women in the ward David explained how much he enjoyed coming to watch his two daughters and wondered why more fathers weren't doing the same thing.

David had a zest for life. He loved fishing, shooting, biking, surfing, skiing, playing racquet ball, rock climbing, reading, etc. He was also competitive, measuring fish to see who caught the biggest, challenging the young men to see if any could beat him in racquet ball (none could)...

He loved to learn. When he moved to Utah he decided to take up fly fishing so he enlisted help from friends and then practiced casting in his back yard.
He played the ukulele and sang songs.

He was creative. He figured out how to make a sweat lodge out of metal stakes, PVC pipe and tarps. He figured out how to use his wood clamps and ropes plus tarps to turn the Primary Room at church into a Halloween Spook Alley. He figured out how to organize and carry out cost friendly, fun, stay at home Youth Conferences and High Adventures.

He loved the youth. At his suggestion and diligent work he made sure that there were monthly firesides. To make sure these events were inviting to youth he arranged to have them held in a warm, inviting home with refreshments and with casual clothing the standard dress. He was a master at teaching which included searching for just the right story, video clip or image to illustrate his point.

Dave made everyone think they were his best friend. He did this by actively trying to find common ground and connections. With some neighbors he would talk hunting and fishing, with me it was biking, gardening and skiing. With a woman we home taught it was learning about and accepting her non-traditional beliefs that included numerology, astrology, mysticism and the mother goddess.

He was a great neighbor. When our globe willow fell he came with his chain saw to help clean up, when the Ash boys had soccer games or baseball games, he would show up unannounced to cheer them on.

He had an infectious, distinct laugh.

His signature knock on the door was to ring the bell multiple times in quick succession.

He was never idle. He was always busy learning a new skill, developing a new hobby, visiting at length with friends (while his truck idled), preparing a fireside lesson or a campout activity.

When interacting with youth he always stressed that there was a time for "goof and giggle" and a time for "listen and learn."

Youth activities always ended with a "scout master minute" in which David would help them to draw out spiritual application from whatever they had been doing (spud derby, just dance, rappelling, hiking).

He loved to have the right gear for the right activity and he was always willing to share that gear.

Here are a few more Emmett experiences:

Today in testimony meeting, a tearful Joel told about one of his interactions with David. A few months ago Joel went to collect fast offerings from the Lange family. When David (then going through chemo) answered the door he took the opportunity to inspire the two deacons. He told them that whenever he was in the service of the Lord he would roll up his sleeves as a sign to the Lord that he was a willing worker. Joel now rolls up his sleeves when he passes the sacrament and collects fast offerings.

Marie and I fondly remember another impressive interaction between David and Joel. In August Joel was asked to give a talk in sacrament meeting about the scout canoe trip, which Dave had hoped to go on but was not physically able to do so (read the talk by clicking here). A weakened Brother Lange heard the talk from the back of the chapel. He was very impressed. Later that day, Janice knocked on the door to see if Joel was home. When we said yes she told us that David (who was waiting in the car and didn't have the strength to come alone or risk the effort to walk up to an empty home) wanted to talk to him. David slowly came in and sat down, then with tears in his eyes he told Joel what an amazing young man he was and that his talk was a perfect mix of humor and spirit and that it exemplified what the Young Men's program is all about--participating in a wide variety of things (like spending a week in a canoe) that will help us learn important life lessons. Thank you David!

One of my fond memories of David happened just a few months after I was called to serve with the Young Men. We were planning another November sweat lodge activity. David told me how the previous year they had heated limestone rocks but they cracked and popped when doused with water. He really wanted basalt because it retains heat and does not crack and shatter. At the time David was busier than usual and he didn't know where to go to find basalt or if he would have time to then go get it. I volunteered to see what I could do. I discovered the existence of Utah's black rock desert west of Fillmore. On a non-teaching day, Marie and I headed south where we loaded up the Subaru with basalt rock (to read more click here). When I unloaded the haul at the Lange home, David was impressed and touched (to read about the sweat lodge click here). To thank me, David came by a few weeks later and easily installed some bicycle hooks on my garage ceiling. It was a very nice gesture, I had neither the tools or know how to do such a thing. David refused to let me reimburse him for the supplies telling me it was thanks for supporting him in his calling.
Yesterday in our grief, Marie noted that David Lange would be someone our children would always remember. All three of them have had personal interactions with a busy man who has a large family of his own. Sarah knows him well from his help at girl's camp, from his firesides, from his fun activities at mutual and youth conference, and from her friendship with daughters Brooke and Annee.

Will's most memorable interaction with David was earlier this spring when the Young Men were cleaning up the yard of a widow in the ward. Will came along with me. In recent days, Will had been balking at wearing his bicycle helmet. I told David, with Will listening, of a discussion Marie and I had had earlier in the day about whether or not Will should be able to ride his bike down to the park with his friend. Without even knowing of our helmet kerfuffle, David turned to Will and said "I hope that no matter where you go on your bike you will always wear you helmet!" Score! David's emphasis on bicycle safety could not have come at a better time. He must have been inspired. That little talk by someone other than his dad soften Will's resolve.Thanks Dave.

I will miss David Lange and I will always be grateful for his friendship, his faithfulness, his service, his love and interest in the youth of the church, and for showing that it is OK for grown men to get choked up. Thanks to his family for graciously sharing him.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Good Samaritans

One of the things we as parents are trying to instill in our children is kindness to others and a desire to serve others. Knowing when and how to serve is not always an instinctive thing. Some people seem to get it and others don't. I talked to my 86 year old mom the other day and she told me of her driving to Richmond Utah to the grave side service of a childhood friend. The place where she parked was quite a walk across a rough, pock-marked lawn to where the burial would take place. Mom, who is slowing down, was able to walk there on her own, but at the end of the service she was a little dizzy and the walk back to her car on unsteady legs seemed more than she could do. Perhaps it was her snow white hair that tipped off the kind daughter-in-law of the deceased, or the fact that she was extra aware, given the circumstances at hand, of the fragility of people her mother-in-law's age, or perhaps she had been properly taught to be always on the look out for ways to be kind, but whatever it was, before mom could get very far she hustled over and offered mom a steadying arm. In former years there would have been no such need, but on this day there was a need and mom gladly accepted the help.

This is a story I could relate to. During the winter semester of our stay in Jerusalem, Marie and the kids were able to join in on the field trip to Jordan (see more at this blog post: Jordan Field Trip). I was excited that they would all be able to see magnificent Petra. The field trip always started out early morning (6:00 am) and was non-stop walking until boarding the bus later that afternoon at 3:00. Petra in April is hot and dry and as usual we all packed in large water bottles. And as usual mom and dad became the "haulers of water" for Sarah, Joel and Will. I was also the hauler of cameras, snacks, transmitters and headsets, sunscreen and other sundry things. I was also the hauler of Will. He was five years old and a pretty good walker, but there were times when he needed a lift. I piggy backed him part way up the 800 red rock steps to the monastery.

The guided tour ended before lunch and so for the last few hours everyone was able to go explore in smaller groups with the strict edict to be on the buses by 3:00. That meant that between 2:00-2:30 all 80 students and faculty families began the long trek back out. As we walked we ran into other groups and then other groups until there was quite a stream of BYU folks meandering along the hot, sunny, sandy valley floor. Will really wanted a piggy back ride and I really wanted to give him a ride, but I literally just didn't have the strength to do it. Tired Will kept pestering me. I told him that if he could just wait until the shaded part of the trail in the slot canyon called the Siq, then I would be able to carry him again. While this negotiation was going on between tired dad and tired child, various groups of students, including more than a few fit BYU men passed the slow moving Emmetts. By this point in the semester they were great friends with our children, particularly Will. They loved to play with him and even piggy back him when it seemed like a fun thing to do. But on this day those who passed were perhaps too tired (not likely) or perhaps too oblivious (more likely) to two people in need: Will in need of a lift and me in need of not giving a lift. And then she appeared, Megan Greer, my guardian angel, my good Samaritan for the day. Perhaps as she approached us from behind she had heard Will's denied request for a ride, or perhaps she thought about tired parents who had been carrying a heavier that usual load throughout the day, or perhaps she had been taught to think of others and to always be on the watch for ways to serve. For whatever reason, she came up to us and asked if she could give Will a ride. I could have cried. Will was a bit reluctant, but he soon agreed to climb on. Megan carried him a few hundred yards and then Will was good to go it again on his own. For the final stretch the kids all got to ride horses, which were provided as part of the entrance fee. We even arrived back before the appointed time, which allowed us all to have a refreshing ice cream bar.

I will always remember Megan Greer and the good gift she gave.

Megan Greer piggy backing Will (in his favorite Batman hat) at Petra.

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Happy Things

Happy things from the past ten days:

Accompanying Sarah on the piano as she sang "Where is love" for tryouts for the high school musical.

Finding out that sophomore Sarah got a part in the chorus of "Bye Bye Birdie."

Buying new skis and boots for Joel, new ski parka and pants for Sarah, and new parka for me. 

Family outing to Logan where we enjoyed lunch at Sizzler with Grandma Emmett and then all pitching in to do a short list of chores around her house and yard.

Stopping in Brigham City to buy 1/2 bushel of peaches.

Enjoying those peaches on my Corn Chex every morning for breakfast, in a delicious refrigerator cake made by Sarah and Marie, and sliced with milk as an end of day family dessert.

Lazy Sunday afternoons (one advantage of the 9-12 schedule).

Kids who surprise me with photos  (like the first three photos in this post) on my iPhone.

Watching two boys play and practice soccer. Will is pretty consistently scoring at least three goals each game.

Watching Joel run in his first cross country meet for Springville Junior High.

Seeing Sarah's excitement at starting a beginning ballet class. A project for her English class requires that she try something new (and write about the experience) so she chose ballet. She also considered hiking Mt. Timpanogos with her dad and starting bagpipe lessons (something her dad is checking out). Today she happily bought a leotard, tights and ballet slippers.

Date night with Marie attending the delightful James Taylor--Mormon Tabernacle Choir--Utah Symphony concert in the Conference Center with 25,000 other people. Marie is a long time, big time fan of James Taylor. We had 8 or so family members sign up to hopefully win the randomly distributed tickets and luckily Marie's sister Rachel won two tickets for us to use.

Tomatoes from our garden for dinner in BLTs, taco salad, fish tacos, shrimp salad or just sliced and for lunch everyday in tomato/cheese sandwiches.

Delivering tomatoes to home teachees and a few elderly women in the ward.

Afternoon thunder storms and rainbows.

Occasional morning bike rides to work with cloud cover.

Interacting with excited, interested students at BYU: 175 in my world geography class, 38 in my political geography class and 23 in my southeast Asia class.

Dreams of dining in Singapore.