Friday, November 14, 2008

Your Mission, If Choose To Accept It...

I have mentioned before that I served my full-time mission in Guatemala and El Salvador (1971-1973) and that for several months I was part of a singing group called "La Familia Unida", which toured around the mission. We were pretty successful, getting thousands of referrals and more than 200 converts directly connected to our show. We were 19 and 20-year-old star want-to-bes, who had a great time together--you can get a more complete, in-detail history of the Adventures of La Familia Unida by going to, where Familia member and historian, Gaylen Scott (Wailin') Shirley, has posted the definitive tome to that great performing group.

Anyway, we recently had a mission reunion here in Salt lake City. It was a great success. We missionaries and our spouses filled the cultural hall and chapel--it was President Glade's home ward building I believe--to overflowing. We had a great time trying to figure out who everyone was--for some reason, nobody looked the way they did 35-plus-years ago. It was fun to watch people go up to someone take a glance at the name tag stuck to their chest and declare, "oh...So and So". I was still wearing my Santa beard at the time, so I may have won the "most unrecognized" award of the evening, if there had been such a thing.

It was great to see some of my old comps and share evocadores (remeiniscences). My first and last companions were there and several of the guys I served with in between, all greyer, balder, heavier and wrinklier, like me. However, the apex for me was the opportunity to play some songs and sing with two of the other members of the old group for the "entertainment" part of the evening. We had planned to have all 5 of us at the reunion, but Randy (Dob) Teel bailed out a couple of weeks before, and Scott (Wailin') Shirley's dad died two days before and was unable to attend.
But, John Clarence (Clarence) Cameron,

Scott (Fester) Eddo

I, Randy (Emery) Mundy tried to fill the bill. We hung a couple of the outrageous Familia Unida ties we used to wear from microphones in our missing brothers' honor.

I have to admit that we were not quite as good as we had been in the good old days. Some might argue that we weren't really all that good in the good old days, but I have some really bad recordings of some of our performances that reveal that we were pretty good--good musicianship and tight harmonies. Of course, you had to be good to be able to do the numbers as fast as we did them. In most cases, we sounded like we were in a race to see how fast we could actually do the songs and get out of the performance hall. This time we limped along with me singing high harmony on the group songs and the lead that Teel used to sing on the love ballads. It was sad that we were missing two of our main guys--we would have sounded much better with them, but I had a great time with my other buds.

It is my intention to get Teel and Shirley out to my place this summer to record some of our greatest hits--I have a little recording studio at my home--and then, have they other guys, Eddo and Cameron, out when they can make it to add their magic. So, La Familia Unida will likely fly again on CD, and, if we can organize another big mission reunion in the near future, the world might get the chance to experience us live. What could be better? You don't have to answer that.

Monday, November 10, 2008

The Father of the Bride

Ready or not, here I come. I had thought about being a father for 29 years before it happened, and hoped that I would be ready for it when it happened on June 25, 1981. I guess I was. After my son, Jesse Lee, was born that day, my wife gave me four other children over the next ten years--Tyler Dean (June 12, 1983), Heidi Lynn (August 5, 1984), Ingrid Louise (December 4, 1988) and Dylan James (September 9, 1991). And from the birth of each one of my children I hoped that they would grow up and have the chance to find an eternal companion and have their own children.

I, myself, was married late by some standards--All of my siblings were married either in their teens or very early twenties. I was 27 years of age when I married Karen and I must say that my mother wondered If I ever would find the right girl. We had our first child, Jesse, when I was 29 years of age, and until recently, I was wondering when my first child would get married and settle down. I can't say that I was impatient. After all, I was pretty careful about marriage for myself and I was very happy to see similar carefulness in my children's romances.

A couple of weeks ago I received a call from a young man named Jeff Harris. He had called to ask for my blessing in marrying my younger daughter, Ingrid. I have to say that I was expecting it. I knew that Ingrid's interest in Jeff was pretty strong due to the fact that she had moved to Aurora, Colorado, to be closer to him and see him on a more steady basis and that it would make the romance grow or kill it. It seems to have thrived. At any rate, I asked Jeff if he thought she was ready for marriage. He replied that he thought she was. I told him that if he loved her even more than I did, and would take good care of her, I would condone, even support, the marriage. I have to admit that I have a problem thinking anybody would be good enough for my girls, but I also have to admit that Jeff comes reasonably close. He is a good Christian man, who tries to live his religion and is worthy, as a priesthood holder, to take my little Weezer to the Temple for marriage. I am sure that he will be a respectful loving husband to my daughter and a caring and and good example to my grandchildren, that he will always have his wife and children's happiness and welfare at the top of his priorities. If not, I will know where to find him.

I suspected years ago that Ingrid might be the first of my children to marry. She was always very motivated to marry in the Temple of the Lord and be a mother with children of her own. As I understand it, she had several pretend weddings with other children--her sister Heidi tried to marry her off twice before Ingrid was six to family friends' little boys, officiating at the ceremonies her self. Ingrid always wanted to do grown-up-things before she was ready. Once, when she was about four, I was trying to get all five of my kids into their seats to go to church. Karen had gone up into the house to run to the bathroom and asked me to take charge of the operation while she was indisposed. I had our infant, Dylan, strapped into his baby seat and told the older kids to get into their car seats or seat belts while I went back up to get my wallet. Jesse, Tyler and Heidi followed my directions, while Ingrid took the opportunity to jump behind the steering wheel and take the van out of gear. I heard Karen yell at me and I looked out of our bedroom window in time to see our van rolling down our steep driveway. Somehow, the wheels were turned so that, instead of proceeding across the street and into another steep drive that was so configured that it would surely have flipped our van on it's side, spilling Ingrid out of the still open driver side door, the van sharply turned onto the street and hit two cars parked along the street, nearly knocking the driver-side-door off of it's hinges before coming to a rest against the second car. Again, somehow Ingrid held on to something strongly enough that it kept her from being thrown out as the van turned so sharply at a pretty good speed coming off of our drive way. I flew down the stairs at the front of our house and out to the van hoping, almost against reason, that no one had been hurt. When I reached the van I quickly determined that no one had even a scratch. But, Ingrid was shaking and reaching out to me with a panicked, fearful, expression on her little face, declaring, "I not a bad girl, Daddy!" She was right, of course, she was not a bad girl. In fact, she was actually always a very good little girl, but a momentarily disobedient little girl who, fortunately, had her life miraculously preserved for, perhaps, some important future event.

I have always been extremely proud of my children and their accomplishments. My daughters are beautiful, like their mother, and my sons are all handsome like...well, they are all handsome anyway. They have all been blessed with great talents and attributes. All of my kids have great senses of humor and they are extremely creative. In Ingrid's case, she always seemed to exude self confidence, always expanding on her talents and taking opportunities to express herself artistically. She has great talent and gifts in the fields of art and entertainment--she sings, plays, and writes music, and dances and acts on stage--but I believe, perhaps, her biggest gift is her ability to be a friend to anyone. Karen and I always marveled at Ingrid's ability to create strong friendships with others in a very short time and her desire to make everyone feel a part of whatever activity she involved herself with. When Ingrid was born, for some reason she was unable to process enough oxygen--it is for this (her wheezing attempts to breath and process enough oxygen) and the fact that her middle name was Louise that I started calling her "Weezer"--so she had to stay in the hospital for about a week until she could breath on her own. I obviously worried about her and prayed that I would have the opportunity to see her grow up. Of course, my prayers were answered and Ingrid has surely had her life preserved to make it to this important point in her life. I still pray that my children will be successful and worthy of all of our Father In Heaven's choicest blessing, and I know that Ingrid is proceeding with faith and love and will be the best wife and mother that she can be.

I think she is ready, Jeff.

You are a good girl, Weezer. I love you.

Beardless Weirdness

As you can tell by the scary picture above, I recently shaved off my beard. You might think that that is no big deal; men shave all the time. But you must understand: I don't. I struggled to grow whiskers when I was a teen-ager and sported moustaches and goatees as well as I could before my two years in the Mormon mission field--facial hair was verboten as a missionary--but after I returned home I seriously began the beard. There were a few times when I felt obliged to shave: once, when I wanted to play intramural basketball--i could play as a non-student living in a university ward, but I had to adopt school grooming standards; and again, when I was called to be a counselor in the bishopric in Cerritos California--the stake president, Alma King, asked me to; and lastly, when I was called to be a ward missionary leader in Tennessee. I had asked President Sandstrom, the member of the stake presidency presenting the call, if I needed to shave and he said he would leave that up to me. I thought that, since I would be working closely with young full-time missionaries, it might be a good idea, so I did. I saw President Sandstrom a couple of days after I shaved and he immediately said "Grow it back! That pretty much settled it for me. Unless it was a requirement for some calling at church, I would likely never shave it off again. I have served in many church leadership positions since, including branch president, without having to shave. So, putting all of the times together that I have been without a beard, I am guessing it would total less than two years out of the thirty-five-plus years since I came home from my mission. Some of my kids could never remember seeing me without a beard. Ingrid had been begging me in recent years to shave it so she could see what I looked like without it. I avoided it.

The truth is: I like wearing a beard. And my wife, Karen, has preferred the beard, feeling that when I was shaven that she was being flirted with by different guy with the same mannerisms as her husband--it was a little off-putting for her. I have one of those faces that completely changes with a change in facial hair. When I was installed in the Bishopric in California, people were asking each other who that guy was that was sitting with Sister Mundy--they thought perhaps I was a brother or something. When I was called out of the audience to come to the stand jaws dropped. Of course it may have been that I was the last one they expected to be called. I recently got the same sort of surprise from people at church and work. Today another guy in the office said, "I just can't get used to you without the beard.

So why they the clean face, if it puts people off and scares little children and some stake presidents? Well, my wife Karen is hoping to teach release-time seminary here in Utah next year. She learned in her institute class this semester that not only do male seminary teachers have to be groomed to general authorities standards, but that the husbands of female teachers must also comply. So, I figured if this was her dream job--she taught early-morning seminary for ten years--that I should make the sacrifice (maybe sacriface is more like it)and get used to it now. I hope my wife is worth it, for all our sakes

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Ask Randy: What Happen?!!!

A friend asked me a few weeks ago about what I thought would happen in the presidential election. My sage response was that it would either be an extremely close race with McCain the winner, or it would be a blowout for Obama. As history will record, it was a blowout for Obama. I hate being right sometimes. I had hoped for the former but expected the latter, though I had a hard time understanding how the majority of the electorate would be able to embrace a candidate who had so many associations with unsavory and despicable people, the most liberal record in the Senate and a desire to redistribute wealth like Karl Marx. The answer, I think is several fold.

In the first place, Obama was the favorite of the mainstream media. It has been shown that the news media reported negative stories on McCain to the tune 60 to 70 % compared to 15 to 25% on Obama. The only place you could find serious reportage on Obama’s relationship with the racists, terrorists, crooks and anti-Israeli characters was on talk radio (from the beginning), Fox News (at the very last), and Republican ads (during the few days). Every time new information popped up that might hurt Obama’s chances, the mainstream media refused to look into it, or seriously comment on it. And, when the economic news swelled to fever pitch during the last few weeks of the campaign, the media refused to report on the blatant connections between the Democrats in Congress and their manipulations and unhealthy relationship with the directors of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, which started the whole sub-prime lending institutions and housing market going into a tailspin, effecting the overall economy. Further more, as things began to look good in Iraq and positive things were happening which reflected well on the Bush administration and McCain, who pushed heavily for “the surge”, the media virtually dropped all coverage of the war in Iraq. Let’s face it; the mainstream media was in the tank for Obama.

In the second place, the American electorate is largely uninformed and unconcerned about anything that dose not seem to directly affect them personally. Let’s also face the fact that they are lazy about educating themselves. Our education system in the United States, hamstrung by teachers unions in the K through 12 group and quasi Marxists in the university, has failed to teach us about history, economics, and society without requiring their students to master the subjects, or so skewing the information that our students often leave school with an extremely frail grasp on reality. I am often appalled when I see people on the street interviewed and asked the simplest questions having to do with history or even current events and they have no clue. These are the nunmb skulls whom the the Democrats count on to swing elections in their favor. According to exit polls this last election, we have roughly 20-some percent of the population who describe themselves as liberals—I assume they know at least something about ideology to make that self assessment—and there are slightly more, around 30 percent, as I understand it, who describe themselves as conservative—being one myself, I am relatively more assured that this group knows something of political ideology and history—and the rest claiming to be moderates—this means to me that they have no moral compass or clear idea of what they truly believe and will sway with the wind. If it is indeed true that 50 percent of the population has no deep convictions or clear idea of what they believe, it is easy to understand how they can be manipulated by the untrustworthy media and their perceived economic woes.

The third nail in the coffin of reason for the American electorate is their ignorance of faith and a strong religious value system. The most glaring example for me is the issue of abortion. As I understand it, the vast majority of our population believes in God—around 80 percent, I am told—and still a majority of over 50 percent believe that abortion is wrong and should be limited to some degree. It is therefore hard for me to understand how we can elect a man to the office of President of the United States, who will have the power to reinforce the state of abortions in our nation by wielding the power of nominating federal judges who will necessarily be supportive of the unconstitutional Roe v. Wade decision. Obama has consistently fought to protect abortion on demand, including so called “late term” abortions, where the baby is partially delivered during the last trimester and has it’s brains sucked out before completely leaving the womb, and even voting against providing life support for babies who live through botched abortions, allowing the babies to die unattended. It is an emotionally cold people who worry about something as superfluous as “Change” when thousands of babies (black, brown and white) are being sacrificed on the altars of selfishness and personal convenience.

So, “what we have here”, as the immortal Cool Hand Luke said, as he was about to be shot to death, “is a failure to communicate.” The public cannot seem to connect the dots when it comes to cause and effect in the economy, social injustice or world affairs. Rightly so, we tend to turn to Republicans when self defense is the issue. But, for some crazy reason, when national security is not at the front and center, we turn to the Democrats when the economy is the issue, even though raising taxes and government spending has never caused the economy to grow, but rather, they have historically stifled productivity. Yesterday we elected a President who promises to punish business and the wealthy, who already provide over seventy percent of revenues and increase government spending to provide “tax relief” for 40 percent of the population who already do not pay Federal income taxes with welfare checks. And we have enlarged the majorities that the Democrats in Congress, where the likes of Pelosi and Reed, who have enjoyed even lower approval ratings than George W. Bush, will have full sway, with their most liberal colleague of the Senate signing their craziest and most liberal legislation. We only have to look back to the Johnson and Carter administrations, when the Democrats controlled Congress and the White House to anticipate what we likely have ahead of us.

So, though I pray that President-elect Barack Obama has an epiphany as he takes office and tries to govern more from the political middle than his record would suggest, I foresee a long 4 years ahead of us. I hope there is not so much damage done in regards to federal judges, the War on Terror, the economy, energy policies, the 1st and 2nd Amendments, the sanctity of marriage, etc. that we are unable to repair it when sanity reigns again or the fickle 50 percent of the voting public wants another change and decides to lean back to the right.