Sunday, June 30, 2013


In September of 1961 at age 22, I started on a journey which would occupy a large part of my time for the next 50 years. I was hired as an early morning teacher in the Seminary program of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints and given a salary of $700 for the year. This wasn’t really a salary, but more of a way to defray the cost of materials which would be used during the year.

I was assigned to teach the students from the Westminster Ward in Orange County, California and we held class in the back of a Laundromat. It was actually a pretty good classroom after they brought in a teaching table, some tables and chairs and a piano. We also had a portable blackboard and I was given chalk and an eraser. I was taught how to make handouts off of a sheet of gelatin and the reverse side of carbon paper. It was a fantastic year and I knew I had discovered my career. Who would have believed that I would sign my last contract in 2005 and then teach as a volunteer until my 73rd year of life?

During that first year I was visited several times by Brother Doug Orgil who was the supervisor for the early morning seminary classes in Orange County. He always had meaningful suggestions and we usually spent some time visiting after the students had gone off to school. During one of these visits he told me the following story to help me understand that young people were struggling with problems we may not be aware of:

A single mother, struggling to safe guard her daughter through her teen years, had told her that she was not allowed to have friends, especially boys, over to the apartment after school when her mother was still at work. One day, succumbing to the pressures of young flirtatious love and the need to be liked, she invited two young brothers over for a snack, feeling secure that they would be long gone before her mother got home from work.

As those things always seem to go, this day of all days her mother had to return home early to fetch something she needed at work. Finding the three youngsters enjoying food and music, and feeling her daughter had breached an absolute rule of the home, the frustrated mother lost it. She ordered the boys out of the house and forbade them to have anything else to do with her daughter. She then put her daughter on restriction until she was 26 years old and sent her to her room.

That night the daughter left home, found her two friends and the three of them, ages 13, 14 and 15, decided to run away. They started walking out of town in the black of night, but soon grew tired of walking and decided to hi jack a car. They found a car with the doors unlocked and since in those days cars could easily be hotwired by putting a quarter on the bolts behind the ignition they soon had the motor roaring. Since the 15 year old boy was the oldest he took the wheel and their halting escape was gaining momentum.

Somewhere near Riverside, California they ran out of gas. The all night station attendant was more than happy to take the older brother’s watch for a few gallons of gas. Since gas was only 19 cents a gallon the attendant/thief was more than willing to take advantage of the runaways and was now the owner of a very nice watch.

By the time they reached Yermo and were well into the desert, as a result of the torture to the car administered by the efforts of the inexperienced driver, the transmission was jerking, the car was overheating and steam was coming from under the hood. They abandoned the car and, going over the railroad tracks near the highway, headed into the desert.

By 11 am the sun was well up and the heat was beating on the waterless group. The 13 year old brother fainted from sunstroke so they pulled him into the shade of a rock and decided that for his safety they probably needed to head back to the road and find some help.

As they came over the tracks they saw a police car parked behind the car they had hi jacked. When he waved to them, the two older children dropped the younger brother who they had been dragging back to the road and started running. They didn't go far before the officer caught up to them and eventually brought them back to safety where the long road of resolution could begin.

Brother Orgil had told me this story as an anecdote to a scripture I had used that day in class which Joseph Smith had received when the early members of the restored church were struggling with living the principles and doctrines of the gospel. The Lord told him, as he had once told Moses, that the persecution they were suffering was accountable to them because, they were walking in darkness at noonday. (Doctrine and Covenants 95:6)

My life’s journey has led me to believe that the brightness of noon day shines clearest through the lenses of the light, life and teachings of Jesus the Christ.

To those who have concluded that many of the world’s problems, wars and persecutions have been generated from the bowels of religions, I hasten to quote one of my favorite quotations from Mark Twain, “Christianity hasn’t failed, it just hasn’t been tried.”

I suspect to a large degree, to those whose journeys have been on different paths than mine, Mark Twain would also conclude that, Islamism, Shintoism, Buddhism etc. haven't failed, they just haven't been tried.

Generally speaking, we don't make wrong choices because of the lack of true and correct instruction or because there are no guides who do not suffer from blindness. We stumble and struggle because we fail to search for true paths or deliberately choose to cross into unexplored deserts.

In His parable of the Pearl, the Savior tells of a man who, having found the Pearl of Great Price, sells all that he has and makes it his.

We are only told of one seeker of the Pearl of Great price, but in the journey of life we seem to play the part of many different seekers.

There are times when we are the self-reliant seekers – who, having had varying degrees of direction on where to find the Pearl, turn their backs on proffered help and are soon lost, never even catching a glimpse of the Pearl.

At times we are like the half-way seekers – who, having been given a clear map, chose to sometimes follow the high-lighted path, but many times wander into unmarked territories and faint far short of finding the Pearl.

Sadly, some of us end up being short of the mark seekers – who, having faithfully followed all that we have been shown to do, when faced with having to pay the ultimate price, turn from the Pearl and shrink away.

Oh that we could become wise seekers – who, after earnestly seeking the knowledgeable guide who knew the way perfectly, strive with all their might to keep their feet firmly following the well-lit path and when finding the Pearl give their last farthing to make it theirs.

In the 58th chapter of Isaiah, Isaiah explains why the children of Israel are struggling and suffering. He recognizes their daily efforts to do the outward functions of religion, but calls their attention to the inner sanctifying acts of life which have been neglected.

The apostle Paul was adamant that all fall short of the goal! Eternal truth has not been tried. We stumble following after unknowing and blind guides who lead us into dark deserts.

May we all listen a little more attentively, be more diligent in our trying, until we find the Pearl of Great Price and purchase it with our all, is my prayer for each of us.


  1. Si esto es sobre los absurdos de la iglesia mormona, preguntamelo a mi que corri a casrme con la persona equivocada para no vivir en pecado.

    Martha Lucia Santos

  2. Yo naci en la iglesia y a mis 20 años me dedique a investigarla, a mis 28 entre a la universidad a estudiar Filosofia e historia, recorri el museo de Antropologia de Mexico city buscandovestigos de esa civilizacion de la que habla el libro de Mormon en la que habia caballos, rueda como medio de transporte, etc, etc, luego fui a vivir a Utah por 4 años y me dedique a leer sobre la historia de la iglesia, alli supe mas sobre Joseph Smith y su relacion con Fanny, el motivo por el que Emma lo dejo, en fiin, tantas cosas que decidi no volver a hablar del tema con alguien que no hubiera ya abierto sus ojos, me da pesar por que en la iglesia hay mucha gente engañada que morira engañada

    Martha Lucia Santos

  3. En este momento me siento sin fuerza para seguir en este camino pues pese a mis esfuerzos no veo el progreso. Gracias por estos pensamientos me animan y me dan el deseo de continuar

    Alexandra Ramos Anturi

  4. Una vez mas, gracias apreciado hermano, en espera de su reflexión después del 28.

    Un abrazo Colombiano.

    Alex Ospino

  5. Presidente gracias por su amor y dedicacion. Le hechare de menos sus mensajes

    Juan Antonio Gonzalez Mariangel

  6. Gran mensaje, gracias.

    gladys pimentel

  7. Hope you will be off having a lot of fun!

    Charlene Daniels

  8. Complete la historia

    Giovanni Escobar

  9. Mil gracias te amamos Maestro

    eulises lotero torres

  10. Dear Brother Riley, Thanks for the timely story and important lesson.

    Along with many others, I have thought much of the recent Supreme Court decision. Your statement "We stumble following after unknowing and blind guides who lead us into dark deserts" seems very fitting.

    We live in great and challenging times. Your threads of truth weekly remind me of what is important -- and what is eternal.

    Enjoy the week. May your 4th be one of joy, even in the midst of our wondering.

    Bonnie Lynn

  11. I can not put into words the depth that this email has touched my spirit. Thank you for sharing your journey with all of us especially me.
    As much of your work, you leave a person changed for the better after having feasted on your words. Thank you to you and to Kathy for
    getting this to us all the time!!!

    You guys will be missed,

    Rosemary Mitchell

  12. I appreciate your sharing your story ~~ you write so well, Bill!

    Carla Johnson

  13. enjoyed reading this today.

    Sent from your friend

    Clark Smith

  14. Hi Bill and Kathy,

    Thank you for these Sabbath Day thoughts.

    My husband Jerry and I moved to Westminster in 1964 J. We arrived there to our first, and only J new home.

    We drove to the newly built and dedicated Westminster Bldg.. We saw a man adjusting the sprinkler system and asked him the mtg. schedule. This man was Wesley Woodhouse, the Bishop of the Ward. Tracy was almost 4 and Lori was 2 J. We raised our children in the Westminster home, attended the Westminster Ward. We watched the Church blossom. President Woodhouse became the first Stake President of the Huntington Beach North Stake. Conway Nielson, being the President prior to the Stake being divided. I too taught Seminary, but in the building. We/I lived in Westminster for 48 years. Sold our home last year.

    You and I are about the same age, I am 73. Paths cross, we find in the Church… if we go back (and can remember) each will know or know of another. We knew the Orgil’s . Linden Orgil became the Bishop of HB 2nd Ward.

    Thank you again,

    Karen Perkins

  15. Buenos Dias....Interesante reflexiò nos ah dotado de buena inteligencia para saber que cuando nos gusta tomar los atajos,siemre habra dificultades..gracias,,,,,,

    clarita torres gonzales

  16. presidente, maravilloso mensaje muchas gracias, me ha permitido reflexionar mucho y sobre todo sentir la firme convicción de que estoy en el camino correcto. muchas gracias.

    Enalvis Padilla Berrio

  17. Thanks again, for thought provoking thoughts if inner sanctification. To me, after the daily prayer and scripture, the weekly temple service has been the most uplifting in influencing for good. I have not been able to check my email for about month, and have sincerely missed your messages. Hopefully your month's hiatus will be for a well deserved vacation! Thanks again for continuing your avocation with your Thoughts for a Sabbath Day.

    Jean Seavey

  18. Wonderful "Thoughts", as usual and I will miss them, but will probably learn to appreciate them even more! :>)

    I know your anniversary is just around the corner, so sending warm thoughts to you and Katherine. We had our 52
    June 24th.
    Have a nice time off!

    Hugs and Smiles,

    Erma Ward