“We are not human beings having a spiritual experience.
We are spiritual beings having a human experience.”
— Pierre Teilhard de Chardin
An empty nester group from the Ephrata Ward met on the first Monday of the month to share thoughts and stories. In one home evening meeting Sister Everlie Powell suggested that we take time and record our spiritual experiences. I took this to heart and started collecting these stories. My granddaughter, Julia Capener, requested me to answer some questions regarding my spirituality. This collections of stories shares some of the important spiritual experiences in my life. I found the histories of my ancestors to be invaluable in building my testimony. I pray that this document may help a friend or descendant build or strengthen their testimony.
My first introduction to the Church was when my mother took me to primary at a young age. I have no memory of this experience because we stopped going, probably about the time Carol Sue was born. My next introduction to the church came while we were walking home from school in the second grade. As we passed the Church on a bright, wintry Tuesday, a friend invited me to primary. I had no idea what that was, but he promised me that it was fun. So we went in, and the experience wasn’t too bad other than I got lost in this old building. When I got home Mom was worried about me, but when I told her where I had been she was not upset. In fact, she pointed out that she used to take me every week, and she encouraged me to continue. I really got into primary; we contributed birthday pennies to The Primary Children’s Hospital, filled our bandalo with progress markers, and learned about Jesus. Later on I attended Sunday school and was ordained a Deacon, Teacher, and Priest by my father. I loved my church and could bear a testimony that I believed in Jesus and Heavenly Father. I did not say that I knew that God existed.
Charity or Service
My first service was in the family. I would help my parents around the yard. We had cows, pigs, chickens, Bantam roosters, Skippy the cat, and Duke the dog when I was very young. The first job was to help gather eggs from the nests. Then as I got older I was told by Jennie to go mow our neighbor’s (Tessie Drissel) lawn. I remember the whole family helping Grandpa and Grandma Tanner move from the farm into town and Uncle Wayne move to the farm. I still remember the flooded dirt road to the farm house. The gravel trap broke and Dad opened a flood gate and sent water flooding through this farm area. I remember one family that lost the bridge to their home.
My concept of service expanded when I started going to Church. In Primary we delivered fruit baskets to the widows and senior members on Thanksgiving. We were allowed to actually deliver these baskets to people.
As a deacon we served by passing the sacrament and collecting fast offerings.
I knew everyone in the neighborhood except Ross Dowdle. The house between Schramms and Larsons was a small house that no one seemed to live in. Rumor had it that Ross was a sheepherder and was always out on the range. I envisioned that he lived in a sheep wagon like the ones that came by every spring and fall with the herds going to and from the mountains. Ironically his house was on 4th north just across the street from our barn on that road the sheep traveled. I was about 7 years old and playing in the yard. I looked up and saw smoke coming from Ross’s house. I quickly ran in my house and reported that the neighbor’s house was on fire. Mom used our new phone to call the fire department, and dad grabbed some buckets as we headed toward the house. On the way we told Schramms that their next door neighbor’s house was on fire. 🔥 Soon we had a bucket brigade taking water from the irrigation ditch to the house a few feet away. One of the Schramm boys was up on the roof fighting the fire. We could hear the fire siren but no fire truck came. We had the fire almost out when they finally got there. Important to this was the water in the ditch. Finding water in the ditch at our end of town was very lucky. 🍀 You only find water in the ditch if it is someone’s water farther down the line. Since we were near the end of the line, water was rarely in the ditch. There were two Dowdles in town, and the firemen had gone to the wrong one. Not too long after this the house was renovated, and somewhat later I met Ross for the first time. He considered me a hero and treated me as such. We became fast friends and spent many hours together over the next few years. He had a record player and drawer full of 78 rpm records. He had a great collection of cowboy records; we would listen to them and talk. I remember him explaining how an aircraft carrier could cross the Pacific Ocean on a cupful of uranium. He put boards across the back of the pickup for seats and started taking us to school every day. One day Ross got out his paint brush and inscribed “The Shrimp Boat” on the doors of his truck.He named his truck after the then-famous song “Shrimp Boats” by Jo Stafford. I guess he still loved the Navy and thought of us as shrimps in his boat.
He would take all of us to the movies on Thursday. We always sat in the same place, toward the front of the theater on the left side. I think this kept us from upsetting the general audience. Ross would sit on the aisle so that he could control our movements. Then out would come the tootsie pops that were essential to this treat. Ross reached out to every one in our ward. He would take widows and divorcees and their children. Because of his service he became one of my childhood heroes. He was my hero, and I was his hero. Ross taught us what true service was all about.
#HEARHIM LOVE FAITH HOPE CHARITY #HEARKEN
Ross Dowdle, Brent Wilson, Geneva Finch Wilson, and Clarence LeRoy Wilson. In the living room of the five room house at 394 North First East, Payson Utah.