Thursday, May 25, 2006

Gloria de Alvarado

Thursday, May 25, 2006

It happened on November 28, 1960 in Guatemala City, Guatemala.  It was on the evening of November 28 that Gloria de Alvarado was baptized a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  My companion, Elder Lynn Jensen, along with another young Elder he was working with that significant day, had found Gloria and her family as they were knocking on doors in Zone Nine in Guatemala City.  Being new in the country and unable to speak Spanish, Elder Jensen took me to the Alvarado home the next day so the family could be taught.  46 years later I can still remember the smile and shining face of this young 24 or 25-year-old wife and mother as she was standing in front of her home waiting for the Elders to arrive.  She and her husband were not married, but had four little children, all under the age of eight.  The oldest girl had suffered from polio and was not physically very strong, but the other three children were strong and healthy.  We taught the entire family, and it was evident after the first discussion that Gloria wanted to be baptized immediately.  Her husband wasn't quite as receptive, but soon agreed to go with us and Gloria to a government building in downtown Guatemala City to be married.  Without marriage there could be no baptism.  They were married on November 27, 1960 with Elder Jensen and I serving as witnesses, and Gloria was baptized the next evening.  Her husband was baptized several months later after Elder Jensen and I had both left the city.

During the next month Gloria was responsible for bringing 22 of her friends and neighbors into the Church.  I had some contact with Sister Alvarado for the next few months until my mission was completed and I flew home to the United States.  I had no contact with the Alvarado family for almost 30 years, although I thought of them often and what had become of them.  As things turn out sometimes, my youngest son John was called to serve a mission in Guatemala.  During his mission he was called to serve in the ward where the Alvarado family lived.  They were thrilled to meet my son, as he was to meet a family baptized by his father so many years ago.  Gloria and her husband now had eight children, six of them had served full-time missions and five or six had been married in the temple.  Her son Eduardo, who was a two-year-old boy that I used to carry to Church in my arms, was now serving as a bishop in Guatemala City.  As a young man he was called on a full-time mission to teach the Mayan Indians in their native tongue in the highlands of Guatemala.  We began to exchange letters and Eduardo and I have been writing e-mails to one another for some time now.  He is currently serving his third term as bishop for a total of almost 12 years now.  He owns his own business and is very successful in life.  Brother Alvarado, the father, passed away last year as did Eduardo's beloved younger brother, Abinadi.  I have lost count of the number of Gloria's grandsons that have served missions, but it has been a large number.

Several times each year the phone will ring and it will be Eduardo calling me from Guatemala City.  It is very humbling to talk to him because he feels he owes me such a debt of gratitude for bringing his mom and dad into the Church so many years ago.  Truthfully, any Elder who happened to stumble upon Gloria de Alvarado would have baptized her, but I will be forever grateful that Elder Jensen and I had the incredible opportunity of teaching this special woman and her family.

I would like to share with you the last e-mail that Eduardo sent me from Guatemala City because it tells you so much about Gloria as a 73 or 74-year-old woman now.  I have translated the e-mail from Spanish into English for your benefit.

"April 3, 2006, Guatemala City
Dear Elder Rushton: I cordially greet you, hoping to find you and your beloved wife very well.  We are all well here.  Yesterday we enjoyed the conferences of the Church and also the sessions on Saturday.  I am a little tired but appreciate greatly what the prophets taught us.  I must tell you that my mother never gets tired of doing missionary work.  She is always inviting people to come to Church, taking advantage of every opportunity such as stake conferences, ward conferences, or general conferences, to bring some invited nonmember with her.  My mother is untiring in speaking to anybody she encounters in her path about the Church. She has no fear speaking about the Church with anybody.  She is always teaching someone, even the doctors, every time she goes to the hospital.  

Some months ago a doctor who had treated her knee prohibited her from walking much and told her it would be better if she did not leave the house.  She told him that every week she went to the Temple and had to walk in order to do so.  The doctor then told her that it was not worth the pain it was causing her to continue doing this.  However, she continues attending the Temple two times each week and her knee feels very good as she does so. 

A few days ago a brother in the Church by the name of Domingo Miguel L√≥pez passed away.  He was an evangelical pastor from 1971 to 1972.  During these two years he was our neighbor.  One day my mother decided to invite him to a "Mormon Night" in our home.  He accepted the invitation and in 20 days, more or less, he left his Church and was baptized in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.   This brother had eight children who were also baptized, but only two of them served missions. However, he has had 10 grandsons who have served missions; it is a very big family. Very soon another nephew, the son of my oldest brother, will be serving a mission in El Salvador -- the El Salvador East Mission. Well Elder Rushton it is a pleasure to write to you. Hasta luego. Eduardo Alvarado."

As I think of Gloria de Alvarado, I am quite embarrassed as I realize that she has undoubtedly been a better missionary than I have over the past 46 years.  On the other hand, I think of the, undoubtedly, hundreds of people who have now come into the Church because two Elders had enough faith to accept a mission call and then go knocking on doors in a strange city, not even knowing how to speak the people's language.  Of course the story will go on forever.  Eduardo is an avid genealogist and has done a great work in identifying his ancestors and making sure their work has been done in the Guatemala City Temple.  How much is a single soul worth in an eternal sense?  I'm not sure we can comprehend that with our finite and mortal minds.  I do know truth of the Lord's statement to us in a beautiful revelation:  "Remember the worth of souls is great in the sight of God...13 And how great is his joy in the soul that repenteth!...15 And if it so be that you should labor all your days in crying repentance unto this people, and bring, save it be one soul unto me, how great shall be your joy with him in the kingdom of my Father! 16 And now, if your joy will be great with one soul that you have brought unto me into the kingdom of my Father, how great will be your joy if you should bring many souls unto me!  [Doctrine & Covenants 18:10, 13, 15-16]


Tuesday, May 16, 2006


Tuesday, May 6, 2006 Observation

"There is no love sincerer than the love of food."  [George Bernard Shaw, Man and Superman (1903) Act 1]

I agree!  I hate to admit it, but at this time in my life, and in my particular physical condition, eating has become my favorite indoor and outdoor sport.  Not being able to do much of anything else physically, I love to eat!  We were at a wedding reception the other evening and were sitting at a table with some friends we hadn't seen for many years.  Jo Anne was shoveling pasta, Caesar salad, and bread rolls into my mouth as my friend looked on in amazement saying, "Don't you have any restrictions to your diet in your condition?"  Between bites of pasta and salad I managed to choke out the words, "Only what Jo Anne places on me." My statement to my friend, I'm sorry to report, had grave implications.

At the time of my accident I had a feeding tube inserted in my stomach.  I was on a ventilator system at the time that did not allow me to speak or eat or drink.  I was so traumatized by what was happening I can't really say I missed eating regular food.  The ingredients that came to me through the feeding tube seemed to satisfy my need for nourishment and I wasn't suffering from hunger pangs.  About a month and a half after the feeding tube had been inserted the doctor felt it was time to remove it and try to get me eating normally once again.  This would begin an eating saga that that would continue to the present day.  Unbelievably, I found that I had no desire to eat once the feeding tube was removed.  No food tasted good to me and eating was simply a bother.  I believe I was also in a deep depression and just simply could not eat.  Every mealtime became a confrontation between Jo Anne and me; she pushing food on me I didn't want, and me resisting vigorously.  Finally the doctor threatened to put the feeding tube back in which would have caused me to take a big step backward in my recovery. 

The Vita Mix machine came to the rescue!  I could easily suck through a straw whereas chewing literally required more energy and power than I could muster up at the time.  Jo Anne and her dad began to make wonderful Vita Mix drinks with every conceivable good thing in them including protean supplements.  I would manage to get down a couple of these each day, and I still remember the day almost 18 years later, as Jo Anne and I were walking and rolling down one of the corridors at Rancho Los Amigos hospital that I felt hunger pangs and a desire to eat for the first time in months.  There was a little food cart in that part of the hospital and if I remember correctly Jo Anne bought me a burrito which tasted better than good.

Well, once I started eating again I grew very accustomed to it rather quickly.  Everything began to taste really good.  After I was discharged from the hospital, whenever I would accompany Jo Anne in the van while she was running errands, we would invariably stop at Carl's Jr. to pick me up a Western bacon cheeseburger with fries.  Jo Anne was feeling sorry for me at the time and didn't know how long I would live so she was willing to meet all of my requests for greasy hamburgers and french fries which reminds me of the time we ordered just french fries and the girl at the counter said "Would you like fries with that?".  One day my son John was looking at me very closely and said to his mother, "Mom don't you think dad is getting really fat?"  I never did like that kid!  Jo Anne took a critical look at me and instantaneously I was escorted out of "Hamburger Heaven."  She put me on a diet and when I'm on a diet I can't cheat.  Think of it, for almost 18 years now, every item of food that has entered my mouth has come by way of Jo Anne or under her direction.  In the midst of one of my first "Jo Anne diets" Dick Fox saved my life.  Jo Anne left me in his care one afternoon while she went somewhere, and Dick cunningly was able to smuggle in a brown paper bag filled with bite-size snickers candy bars, a can of sour cream Pringles potato chips, and a large can of Cashew nuts.  I thought I had died and gone to heaven.

I have learned to eat in a variety of positions.  I eat really well flat on my back for example.  In intensive care one morning a couple of years ago I had ordered up bacon and eggs, hash browns and pancakes for breakfast.  I was lying flat on my back and an elderly RN refused to feed me until she could prop me up.  I finally convinced her that I could handle breakfast efficiently and quickly in my current position.  She was astonished as I seemingly inhaled that big breakfast.  I don't do so well on my left or right side.  Soup is a particular problem when you are lying on your side.  Jo Anne is not extremely good with her left hand and as she spoons clam chowder into my mouth with an awkward backhand motion I get about a third of the spoonful in my mouth and the rest runs down my chin.  Have you ever had a clam chowder bath?

I do my best eating sitting up in my wheelchair.  It is a very interesting experience to not be able to feed yourself how and when you would like to.  Eating lunch with Jo Anne at home for example, can take an inordinate amount of time.  She will give me a bite of the sandwich and then go check on the mail.  If there's mail she will take it into her office and go through it.  She will whiz through the kitchen, giving me another bite, on her way to put in a load of wash, and so it goes.  If I have soup, halfway through lunch, I have to have it reheated in the microwave.  I don't want to put Jo Anne in a bad light however.  She has been blessed with a great talent for multitasking.  She can feed me, herself, and our granddaughter, Natalie, all at the same time without missing a beat.  You can tell a lot about a person by the way they feed you.  If we were to go to a wonderful restaurant or have a special meal at home Jo Anne would invariably give me the first bite.  If I were hungry would I do the same thing?  I don't know; would you?

Truthfully, Jo Anne has helped preserve the quality of my life through her wise choice and amounts of food she allows me to eat.  I consider her my personal fitness trainer, and submit my will to hers regarding my diet.  With my weight under control now, and with Jo Anne getting a bit softer, you might see us at In--N--Out Burger more frequently than you would imagine.

For me, eating is a humbling experience.  Not only does the food and daily nourishment I require ultimately come from a loving Heavenly Father -- although processed by men -- but also from the hand of a loved one.  I am doubly dependent on God and loving family and friends for my daily physical nourishment.  My constant need for physical food helps me to understand the Lord's words to the people among whom he ministered. They said to Him:  "Our fathers did eat manna in the desert; as it is written, He gave them bread from heaven to eat. Then Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Moses gave you not that bread from heaven; but my Father giveth you the true bread from heaven...And Jesus said unto them, I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst."  [John 6: 31-32, 35]


Saturday, May 13, 2006

Sip ‘N Puff

Thankfully, I have some mobility because of my “Breath Control Wheelchair.” Christopher Reeve—Superman—had one exactly like mine.  Some call it a “Sip and Puff Wheelchair” because that is how it is controlled. Because I have zero movement in my head or neck, my only alternative is this type of chair.

Living in a wheelchair, after having been a "normal walking around person” for most of my life, presents some interesting challenges. I initially felt very self-conscious in my new wheelchair lifestyle whenever I would go out in public. For instance, when I go outside I like to wear a ball hat, but Jo Anne will hardly ever let me because she says it makes me look too conspicuous.

Also, the perceptions of little children regarding me in a wheelchair are very interesting. Their comments are always right on target. A little four-year-old nephew who had not seen me since my accident was mesmerized by my condition. He wanted to know why I couldn't walk and so I went into an in-depth explanation about how my spinal cord had been severed. Just as I was concluding my discourse, he impatiently asked, "Well, can you crawl?" His little baby sister was doing just that on the floor near by and he screamed at her and said, "You better get out of the way or he will squash you!"

A while back, we were meeting some of our children and grandchildren at a Mexican restaurant. When our daughter informed our three-year-old granddaughter that they were meeting us to eat tacos, she piped up and said, "Grandpa can't eat tacos--his hands are stuck! Even his feet are stuck! Why his whole body is stuck in that wheelchair!"

A few months after my accident, we ventured over to the local elementary school to see our youngest daughter in a little program. As I was rolling across the playground to the parking lot, all of a sudden I was surrounded by a group of five-year-olds. Five-year-olds are the most inquisitive and uninhibited creatures on this earth. The questions started coming: "Hey Mr., what happened to you? What were you doing at the beach anyway? What is that hose for, and what does this button do?" I was starting to get very nervous and wanted to leave, but a little boy who had been standing near me got real close and looking into my eyes said, "Hey Mr., what happened to your face?" "My face, I thought, was the only part of me that was halfway normal and was still working!" I tried to run over the kid!

Some time ago I received my third new chair since my accident.  Each chair has been much better than the previous model, which is the case with my new one.  I have adapted to it very quickly, thankfully. A wheelchair for somebody in my condition really becomes an extension of their body.

I control my chair by giving commands through sipping and puffing on a hard plastic straw held between my teeth that activates micro switches, which in turn control all the functions of the chair.

I also have a little display by my left hand which enables me to see in which mode the chair is operating.  I have four different drive modes that have been custom programmed by a computer to meet my specific needs and desires.  My first drive mode I call "The Church Drive."  I designed it to be very gentle going forward or backward and especially as I turn right or left. Drive 2 I call my "All-purpose Drive." I had it programmed to go faster than Drive 1 in all directions and yet it is safe enough to use at Church or at home and other places.  Drive 3 I call "Ramming Speed." It is strictly an outdoor mode in which I can flat-out move.  I use it driving to the park for example or in Costco.  There is enough kid still in me to enjoy letting it go full blast and then seeing how tight I can turn it.  All of you without wheelchairs are really missing out on a lot of fun.  Drive 4 is the attendant control Drive.  Jo Anne operates it and so I had it programmed to be gentler than the "Church Drive," as a life preserving (my life) and precautionary measure.

The chair is a new concept created by Invacare Corp. They won many engineering awards for its design. It has six wheels--two small ones in front and in back and then two larger wheels at the right and left center of the chair.  It is called a “Center Wheel Drive.”  It has great stability and the back two wheels even have shocks to make the ride more comfortable. My particular model allows me to also tilt and recline, which comes in handy during some church meetings. The make of my wheelchair is "Storm TDX 3."  That name alone is enough to just get my blood pumping.  The only problem I have with the wheelchair is that it is much smarter than I am.

Although each new chair is better and safer than the previous one, if I am not careful, I can still run into things, over things, and off of stairs and curbs.   I always have to remember to be alert, careful, take nothing for granted, and not get lulled into a sense of false security while driving about.  I am just an accident waiting to happen.

My first chair seemed to have a lot of safety issues. If I hit a bump in the road or sidewalk it would disconnect the sip and puff mechanism preventing me from controlling the chair. It would be like driving a car 50 miles an hour without being able to steer it or apply the brakes to stop it -- very frightening!

On one occasion, Jo Anne and I went to Sea World in San Diego to attend a social with some of our colleagues. Driving in my chair from the parking lot to the restaurant, I had to maneuver my way over some rough cobblestone lanes. As we arrived at the entrance to the restaurant, Jo Anne, walking in front of me, entered the main area. I was unable to follow her because, at that very moment, I realized that the sip and puff connection had become disconnected.  Unable to change modes, I started rolling down a long hallway at the end of which was a long flight of stairs. Unable to stop my chair I knew I was going to roll down them and end my mortal life. I hate to admit it, but I panicked and instead of screaming "Help," I started screaming "Jo Anne, Jo Anne!" Just before I got to the stairs a good friend of mine came up out of the stairwell, heard my cries for Jo Anne, read the panic on my face, observed the situation and grabbed my wheelchair and pushed it into the wall where it continued to grind away. Others heard my cries for Jo Anne and she soon appeared on the scene to turn off the chair. It was, to say the least, a very harrowing experience.

I enjoy driving around our neighborhood in my wheelchair.  One evening, Jo Anne and I were out rolling – me in my first generation chair and she on her bicycle. I went over a bump in the road and it caused me to lose control of the chair as I had at Sea World.  I hollered at Jo Anne, but before she could get to me and hit the “kill switch” (which is designed to stop the chair immediately -- isn’t that a nice name for someone in my predicament), the chair turned up a driveway and crashed into the back of a new Thunderbird.  This not only stopped the chair, but the impact also caused the chair to be wedged into the bumper in such a way that neither I nor Jo Anne could get it loose.  Needing help, she was forced to go knock on the owner’s door.  A large man opened it and Jo Anne said, "My husband just ran into your new Thunderbird!" He growled and came running out of the house. He was caught so off guard seeing me in my paralyzed state with my wheelchair stuck to the back of his beautiful red Thunderbird, that he was speechless.  Finally he took action and was able to dislodge my chair.  Fortunately the damage was minimal for both of us and he seemed happy to just see us continue on our way. 

Another potential disaster was the day I was tooling down the hallway in our Church.  Without warning, a door suddenly opened in front of me and a huge seeing-eye dog with his blind master entered the hallway. The dog, upon seeing me rolling toward his master at top speed, went ballistic trying to save him from impending danger. The blind man, in shock and total confusion, wanted to know what was happening.  Fortunately, I was able to stop before running over the dog and knocking this good man down.   Jo Anne quickly explained the situation and assured him that all was well.  I can't recall Jo Anne saying anything comforting or kind to me -- I wonder why?  Thankfully, no harm was done and we didn’t get sued.  I could just see the headlines, “Paralyzed man in wheelchair driving at a reckless speed runs over blind man.”

  Thankfully, there are still technicians who know how to fix the chair--I hope I don't outlive them all. How blessed I am that there are people in the world that are talented and trained and have the desire to invent wonderful creations that bless and improve the quality of our lives. 

I probably shouldn't write what I'm going to write next.  I'm sure Jo Anne will submit my name and some of my escapades to the following website I recently found on Google called "A Darwin's Award."  It is "A Chronicle of Enterprising Demises or near demises honoring those who improve the accidentally removing themselves from it!" [Google]

For example, one incident that almost received the top "Darwin Award" a few years ago is as follows: two young men living in Wisconsin went ice fishing for the first time.  It was bitterly cold and they were ill prepared for this event.  They had all their gear in the back of a beautiful brand-new red truck along with their faithful dog.  Although they had a special saw to make a hole in the ice they thought it would take too long and so they got the brilliant idea of blowing a hole in the ice with a stick of dynamite.  One of the young men lit the stick of dynamite and threw it as far as he could.  The dog, thinking this was a fun game ran after it, retrieved it, and started running back toward the truck as fast as he could.  They tried to wave the dog off, but the more they waved and shouted the faster he came toward them.  Just as he got to the truck he slipped, slid under the truck, and the dynamite exploded.  The only happy thing about this story, I'm afraid to report, is that the two young men were able to save themselves--wish I could say the same about the truck and the dog.

I believe that all of us have probably done something to qualify for a Darwin Award sometime during our lives.  Just as I have to be constantly on the alert when driving my wheelchair so as not to injure myself or somebody else, I believe this principle applies to all of us in a physical way.

When we become careless in our spiritual drive through life, we can lose control and get off the narrow path and in the process destroy ourselves and possibly many loved ones as well.  We need to be careful never to be candidates for a spiritual Darwin's award."

Just as I always have to remember to be alert, careful, take nothing for granted, and not get lulled into a sense of false security while driving my wheelchair, so I must also be equally as careful in my spiritual drive through life.


Friday, May 5, 2006

Hair Day

Well, yesterday was "hair" day for me. About every week or week and a half Jo Anne takes a good, critical look at me, and announces that I am unfit to be seen in public.  Those words are like a dagger in my heart because I know what is coming and I can't defend myself.  She has a little instrument that runs off batteries that has tiny blades rotating at a high rpm that she shoves up my nose to cut out any extraneous hair.  It is only supposed to cut the hair but inevitably it manages to chew up a little tissue as well.  If the rotating blades don't get all the hair she comes at me with her little scissors -- and all the while I am screaming, groaning and shouting "Quad abuse!"  With my nose now having achieved a satisfactory rating, she concentrates her efforts on my ears.  Accompanied by groans, screams, and accusatory "Quad abuse" statements on my part, she calmly inserts her little scissors in my ears, cuts out any extra hair, and digs out any foreign matter that she doesn't feel should be there.  I now give a sigh of relief because the worst is over -- but not completely.  She next attacks my eyebrows telling me that no husband of hers is ever going to look like Andy Rooney and then using a combination electric razor and hair clipper device she trims up my hair, what little I have, to her specified standard of excellence.  About this time I am very happy and relieved but yet lurking in the back up my mind is the painful thought that this process will be repeated in the not too distant future.

Parenthetically, the word "hair" almost cost me my life shortly after my accident.  One night in the rehabilitation hospital about 2 a.m. a Hispanic nurse's aide -- a sweet little woman -- was performing a procedure on me. As she worked over me I could sense that the hose that runs from my throat to the respirator was coming loose and I wasn't breathing really well.  I looked at this little lady and said in a gasping way "My air, my air, I'm losing my air!"  With great compassion in her eyes and voice she responded, "Mr. Rushton, don't worry, you have lots of "hair"."  Then with my last breath I murmured "No, my air, my air." She insightfully rejoined "You shouldn't worry so much about your "hair" -- it's OK." At that point the hose popped off my throat, I quit breathing, and the little Hispanic lady never had a clue what was happening.  The alarms went off thankfully, and two nurses ran in from the nursing station to save my life.

Getting back to Jo Anne and her handling of my hair problems -- I have thought a great deal about it over the years.  In her eyes the way I look is a reflection on the type of care I receive from her and the kind of person she is.  I believe she feels she will be judged by others by the way I look.  It goes far beyond that however, in that I believe she loves me enough to care about things that no one else would even think about.  She understands that my groaning and complaining about "Quad abuse" is just a lot of hot air and knows how much I truly appreciate her desire and willingness to make me feel and look as good as she possibly can. She has been waging war in our home against dirt in any of its forms all of our married life. There is no way that she is going to let her quadriplegic husband look disheveled, dirty, unkempt, unshaved or not dressed in the best and most appropriate outfit available.  My wheelchair, which is such an extension of me, is dusted daily, cleaned, and even the wheels are checked to make sure they are spotless.  Though not much to look at, I go out in public with great confidence knowing that Jo Anne has made me as presentable as possible.  Doctors and nurses are amazed that I am 17 years into my injury and look and feel as good as I do.  They stand in awe of the quality of care I have received at her hands for such a lengthy period of time.  What I look like, and my attitude of faith and hope, really tell you much more about Jo Anne then they do of me.

I believe that cleanliness and orderliness and being in control of one's life are really such an important part of what life is all about. These things communicate better than words what our true character really is.  I will never forget my first trip to Nauvoo in the early seventies and how impressed I was with my visit to the Wilford Woodruff home.  The guide took us from room to room in this beautiful brick home and in the main parlor told us how in the haste of fleeing from Nauvoo to escape the wrath of the mob the piano had inadvertently been pushed into the wall leaving a gaping hole.  Wilford Woodruff paid a man to come and patch the wall of the home they were abandoning so that whoever occupied it after their departure would know that people of substance and quality had lived there.  That was a great lesson to me as a young married man regarding the importance of beautifying and taking care of one's home as best as possible.  Our homes are such a reflection of who we are.  They don't need to be luxurious or ostentatious but they should be clean and orderly.

When the Church builds a temple it is made of the finest materials and put together by the best artisans and craftsmen available.  We go to great extremes to ensure that each temple is really a precious jewel.  Why? Because these temples are "The Houses of the Lord".  They are a reflection of Him and who He is.  Similarly, our personal appearance and our homes are a reflection and an extension of who we really are.

I know we can go overboard and be obsessed by appearance and style, but true cleanliness and orderliness is never out of style.

In the little Mayan Indian village of Patzun located in the Western Highlands of Guatemala in the late 1950s you would have been impressed with the home of Thomas Coo Coo.  Thomas was a member of the Church as well as the mayor of the village.  In these little Indian villages, the homes of the Indians were made of adobe walls with a thatched roof.  Their source of heat and cooking was a little fire pit in the middle of the room with no provision for getting the smoke out of the home.  Consequently most of the Indian women went around with weeping, smarting eyes from the constant exposure to the smoke.  Soon after his baptism, and in counseling with the elders who baptized him, Thomas had a desire to get the smoke out of his house.  They introduced to him the concept of a fireplace with a chimney and with their assistance they actually built one in his little hut.  Thomas' home was free of smoke and a wonder to his neighbors in that little village.  The light of the Gospel in his life was evident in his beautiful, healthy, smoke-free one-room home.

I think our appearance and homes should be a reflection of the light we have in our lives.