Why Me? Why Write? Why Now? Why Not?

The Me is Doug Curran…Douglas M Curran…Douglas Metcalf Curran. Douglas is Celtic for “dweller by the dark stream”. Curran in Gaelic means “little spear”. And Metcalf? Scottish for “I met a calf”? Hey I don’t know! I don't have all the answers. I'm still trying to get the questions right. At least I seem to be a spear fisher by some dirty water. Or maybe I'm a Druid. And that Curran thing may not even be as Irish as my Irish American wife, Colleen Fitzsimmons, hoped it was when she married me. Ok, I might be a Viking. It's like this. I was reading this book, The Lion Of Ireland, see, and the author, Morgan Llewellyn, recounts a last battle between Brian Boru and the Viking invader king, to regain Irish dominance again throughout the island and kick the fureners out. The Viking king's name? Olaf Cuaran? Cuaran? Curran? I'm a Viking now, so I am? And a descendent of one of those marauding and murderous pillagers and plunderers? I've never pillaged a thing in my life...well, maybe a book or two from somebody. I'm really just a gentle giant who loves books and music. Ok, I bought a sword recently, but only as a wall decoration to enhance my Irish family history coat of arms! Honest! Viking, Schmiking, so rest my Irish soul! Or my wife will have my old bald Irish head!

November 1, 2009

Tender mercies and family history...a letter.

Hey family!

Don Fenn gave a good lesson in Priesthood I wanted to pass along, with some related family history too, about how to heal the wounds of life we all have from time to time, some more serious than others, referring to the recent losses of John Montrose and Dorine Jesperson. And He first quoted a scripture in Helaman 5:12, to emphasize who the real Healer of our wounds is:

"And now my sons, remember, remember(interesting he says that twice), that it is upon the rock of our Redeemer, Who is Christ, the Son of God, that ye must build your foundation; that when the devil shall send forth his mighty winds, yea, his shafts in the whirlwind, yea, when all his hail and his mighty storm shall beat upon you, it shall have no power over you to drag you down to the gulf of misery and endless wo, because of the rock upon which ye are built, which is a sure foundation, a foundation whereon if men build, they cannot fall."

Don emphasized that it isn't just the devil that causes us wounds in life, but life has its own tests for all of us, allowed by God to challenge us and strengthen us, so we can be more refined to live with Him. But if Satan is in our lives in any way, we also get the message here how we can withstand him, because although he is a part of our existence, we don't have to live with him or his influence if we choose to follow the Savior and accept His atonement in our lives. Light and darkness can't exist together.

Then he asked us to share how the Lord has intervened in our lives in tender mercies, the little things or maybe bigger ones by which the Lord has blessed us in some way. He shared one about his recent thought that he should have a burial plot, since he's getting on in age(but doesn't look or act it yet). He was out driving around in Provo and had an impression that said "Stop at the cemetery." He ignored it, but after it came more times, he stopped at the Provo Cemetery, to find they had been trying to reach him because they had some plots under the name of Thomas Fenn and wanted to know if he was related, because the plots were going to be sold otherwise for $1400. Donn Fenn said Thomas was his great grandfather - and with verification, he got both plots for $25 instead of $1400. He listened to the still small voice. But we hope he won't need those plots anytime soon.

(I was talking to Celestia Montrose outside church today, asking her how things were going without John. She looked radiant and happy, but said it was so hard. She said, maybe they needed him over there for some work to do, but she thought he was doing a lot of good work here too. I told her that's why I don't work so hard on this side of the veil so they won't take me too soon or need me over there right away. Ha!)

Mom has often said how she had impressions to go home or act quickly about some of you kids at times, which eventually spared you physical harm or even death at times. One was when Conn was eating a bottle of Fluoride and she felt she had to go home from teaching at BYU-Hawaii to get there in time to make him choke them out and save him. She said she saved Conn and Sean from killing each other in a machete fight because of a prompting too. I told her to write down the other times for you to read someday soon.

Incidently, I was up late watching Channel 21 last night and the BYU-Hawaii women were playing Hilo in volleyball. It took me back to when I was there and used to write sports stories about our women, especially a national championship game with Hilo on the mainland, when I traveled with them. I often catch BYUH-related stories now and then, Jim Smith's chorus performances, a recent labor missionary story, special talks and ceremonies at PCC. Lots of nostalgia. And with what inspiration did we get to Hawaii?

While watching tha game, my mind went further back to when I was working in Falls Church, VA at ADS Audio as a writer and producer of radio and tv public service spots for government agencies and national associations. We were struggling financially as always, and I was praying for answers - and one night as I stayed late in the office working on something, I heard a voice in my head say, "You must struggle but I will sustain you." From then on, that helped me make more sense out of my struggles.

I had also been praying a lot about my future with that company and thinking I should really be working in an environment of ethnic groups and different cultures. I had been reading a lot about cultural anthropology at that time, was really interested in that area of study, but didn't know how to get into it. It was shortly after that that a call came from my old friend Taylor Macdonald, then at BYU-Hawaii, wondering if I knew anyone who would want to interview for a job in student activities at BYUH. I said" Yes, me!" I had just lost my job there too, because of a cutback in BiCentennial spending. I passed the interviews, among many other candidates, and got the job in short order, a real answer to prayer, to live and work among 30 different cultures and languages.

But we had only been in our townhouse for 10 months, our first house, and wondered how we could sell it that fast when there were others in our little complex in Centerville, VA that had been on sale for months. We fasted and prayed - and a week before we had to be gone to Hawaii, one of the Sterlings who had lived across the street from us in Pimmit Hills/Falls Church area had just gotten married and was looking for a house - and while driving around our townhouse complex, saw our "For Sale By Owner" sign in our window and caught me as I was crossing the street coming from a going-away party for us by a neighbor.

We showed them the house right then, they loved it, and bought it within the week - and though we only made a small profit on it, at least we didn't lose anything, sold it fast, in time, and to friends to boot - another answer to prayer. Mom was in a minor car accident at that time too, right when we were giving our neighbors little Church BiCentennial presentations about the Book of Mormon every week or so. She was not hurt seriously and we were able to get all packed and on our way to Hawaii in August 1976, and take a job in there that answered a prayer and helped us grow in ways we never would have otherwise. Yes, we had challenges too - and things weren't always easy there.

But it changed our lives, taught us so much about the world Church and I had the chance to serve as a bishop and help over 50 members get to the temple - and maybe that's why I was there, who knows. We all grew in some way, some in many ways. But we feel there were a lot of tender mercies and a lot of intervention from the Lord in our lives to bless us in time of need, because we trying to do the right thing, flawed and failed humans that we were, dealing with our own weaknesses and shortcomings - but still trying.

And finally, getting into this house in Orem where we've lived for 23+ years was another answer to prayer. Our belongings were coming from Hawaii, it was the end of the summer, and we had no place to live yet - and no one would rent to a family with eight kids. We prayed and fasted. I had seen a house available earlier in the summer in the paper while we were living in BYU housing, but they wanted too much down. Then one night, I walked the streets of Provo, praying out loud, crying, desperate for help. I took a paper out of the dispenser and saw the same house, now available for nothing down. I called the next day and the realtor's wife answered and verified it was nothing down, and showed us this house. It looked perfect, 5 bedrooms, 2 1/2 baths, especially compared to our little cinder block Moana Street house - and we said we'd take it,

Then Steve Black, the realtor, called back and said there had been a mistake and it wasn't nothing down, but $2500 down. We cried again, feeling lost - but mom called her dad, who said, bless his heart, that he'd give us the $2500. We did a lease option with Harvey Black the owner, and started moving in. Then Harvey's wife, Susan Easton Black, tried to throw us out, thinking we had duped her recently widowed husband(Anne died in this house of cancer and that were just going to be squatters of some sort. But son Steve Black intervened, told us not to worry because we had already given him the money and to move in, that things were ok.

A few years later when the lease option was up and we couldn't buy the house yet, our good friends Ivan and Judy Keller from McLean Ward days bought the house for us, let us stay until we could buy it, using some of Grampa Fitz's inheritance money when he died - and then buy it at the original market price rather than increasing the price. Ivan had been befriended by my mother when he lived in DC, an older bachelor who had found comfort in my parents' home until he found his wife. Once again we were blessed so much by good people - and here we are still, having struggled mightily to keep the house, and now blessed with mom's job and hard work mostly which allows us to keep it and furnish it and have it for you kids to gather in or live in at times. (And a big thanks to Shane and Sharon and boys today for raking up apples in the backyard - and to Conn for raking leaves recently too - still lots to do yet though)

Hope that gives you some food for thought, some inspiring family history maybe not written down yet for you, and to remember, as Brother Fenn mentioned Brother Bradfield, our wonderful patriarch, used to tell him - "I just do the little things - pray, read the scriptures, go the church, serve others, keep the commandments - and listen." Thanks Don for a good lesson - and thanks kids for your lives and your love, to our mom especially. Let's hold this team together and make any corrections and adjustments we need to - and remember, the Savior is the Rock upon which to continually build and rebuild our lives, with broken hearts and contrite spirits, with joy and gladness, with gratitude and service - and not let Satan win by distracting and deceiving us, or robbing us of time or virtue, or... "And others will he pacify and lull them into carnal security, that they will say: All is well in Zion; yea, Zion prospereth, all is well -- and thus the devil cheateth their souls and leadeth them away carefully down to hell" as Nephi warns us in 2 Nephi 28:21. No, let's really not let that happen.

Love, Dad

1 comment:

  1. I LOVE this!! I so needed this today. Thank you, Dad. Love you!