I started out in Wyoming third born of four children. I have two older sisters and one twin brother. My father worked for the oil field industry and my mother was a stay-at-home mom for a number of my childhood years. We weren’t wealthy but they were able to afford the basic necessities and we didn’t know that there were people in the world who struggled to survive. We all learned how to swim. We learned how to do chores. We rode our bikes around the neighborhood. We delivered newspapers for money to put into a saving account.
In regards to religion, my parents didn’t have a particular faith that they followed; however, they would let us kids go to church when we wanted. There was even a church within walking distance, just a few blocks from our home, or people who lived close by who would take us with them to their church, and sometimes a bus would pick us up. I liked the summers when I could go to the church for the week-long bible school. There was a girl (Michelle) in my first grade class whose father (Mr. Creasy) was the pastor at that church nearest our home, so I would go there every so often because I would know someone in the children’s class. I stopped attending that church when the one time I went to her house on a Saturday to have a bit of play time with Michelle, and the following Monday at school, she told me that her father spanked her for me visiting, just because she didn’t tell me to go home. Still, I found the Bible to be fascinating. The Bible stories grabbed my attention and I worked towards being able to read the bible. The only real problem I encountered was I would try to share what I “learned” at church to my mother. She told me that she didn’t mind me going to church, but I wasn’t to bring it home.
When I was 10, my family moved to a medium sized town in Utah. It was here that I discovered the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. Almost immediately I was ostracized because I didn’t know who Joseph Smith, Jr. was. I also discovered that the education system in Wyoming was better than Utah. In Wyoming, the system was set up for students to learn at their own pace and there was a bit of competition to excel. In Utah, students went at the pace of the classroom as a whole, with minor adaptations in that the students who learned quickly would be put into groups to be provided a chance to learn faster. I was placed in the advanced class with the students who learned faster than the general class, but I was ahead of those students, too. However, because I wasn’t Mormon, I was ostracized and bullied. This stunted my education and I lost my advantage in a very short period of time. It was a struggle for me to make friends and the other students made me feel like a ‘know-it-all” who had no value. Where we lived now, I would need to go to church to learn about Joseph Smith, Jr, learn about Mormonism, learn about the history of the Church of Latter Day Saints. I would need to learn the ‘rules,’ those unwritten rules that the other students knew, the in-crowd, so that I could get along better and fit in. The one real struggle was that I was a square peg trying to fit into a round hole. It didn’t matter that I was trying to learn, I was never going to be good enough to be a part of the society these children were growing up in, where eventually they would take over and decide who was good enough and who wasn’t. I wasn’t a pretty child, my parents weren’t Mormon, we didn’t live in a fancy home, we didn’t wear the current fashion. I became the butt of the joke.
I started going to church on Sundays with the neighbors – The Jacksons. They were living the concept that “everyone is a missionary.” The Jackson family had 3 children the same ages as our family – Debbie, Sherry and Clint. They would take us to church with them minus my parents. My parents weren’t interested in converting, but they would let us go. It didn’t take long for me to learn the routine – wear your best clothing, sit quietly during Sacrament, go with the other kids your age to the Sunday School class, go to the Wednesday after school class called Primary, and be sure to develop a “testimony” so that you could brave up and give it during Fast and Testimony Sunday.
With all the change going on from moving to a new state, new community, new school, the perceived change in our social status, and no social skills for making friends, I didn’t really stand a chance. I lost my self-esteem. I gained 30 pounds in one year. I went from being a normal kid in Wyoming to a kid who didn’t know where she fit in anymore and who had lost her way.
When my parents found a new place to live that was bigger than the one they settled for to move us to Utah, they bought it and we moved again. Now I was in another new school although in the same town. This meant changing “wards” for church. It also showed me that one half of the town is related to the other half. It seemed all the kids were cousins in one way or another. Its also where I discovered that it is important what your daddy does. If “Daddy” was a doctor, lawyer, accountant or owned his own business, then one would be able to rule the social circle at school. If “Daddy” was a worker bee, then one could only make friends with the other kids whose daddies were also worker bees.
“Mom’s” status was also important for establishing social status for children in school. She needed to be a stay-at-home mom who filled a calling in the church. If she had a job, it needed to be a career. Otherwise, she needed to have special skills that would help her children stand out (e.g., being able to sew her daughter’s clothing, including making designer blue jeans) and contribute to charity.
Another rule was that “Dad” had to have gone on a mission and “Mom and Dad” were married in the temple, and the children “born in the covenant.” The higher his “calling” in church the better. It was the best if he was the bishop, had been a bishop, was in the bishopric, or in the stake presidency.
I started struggling in school. Not so much with learning but with getting along with the teacher. Mr. Peterson was my teacher now that I was in 6th grade. He had no problem with using the whole class to humiliate a student. He would lead the class in a pity party – “1-2-3… AWWWW” moment for any student who felt the teacher was being unfair. If a student was caught chewing gum, then the student was required to put the chewed gum behind their ear for the day. There was a reward/penalty system using a money system. Once a week the students would get ten $1 in paper money. With the paper money, a student could get treats. If a student didn’t turn in their homework on time, they would be penalized money. One specific girl decided she was mad at me, took my homework out of my desk, and I ended up having to pay. She confessed to me about this a number of years later, after we became friends in junior high.
My (twin) brother also attended school in the classes I was in, because he was also an advanced student. He was less socially awkward and better able to fit in the social circles. We didn’t get along so very well as siblings so he enjoyed making fun of me in school. This added to my difficulty making friends. Mother did her best to make sure we had some separation, but this didn’t always work out. The advanced classes were limited in elementary grades, so quite often we would be placed in the same class. It was a bit easier in junior high as we could avoid each other, except for those few classes we were forced to attend together.
I remember at age 9, my mother started teaching me homemaking skills. It was then that she taught me how to embroider. By age 12, she had started teaching me how to sew and cook. She also allowed me to start babysitting to make some extra cash. She knew that we needed to earn our own money and that doing chores for an allowance wouldn’t be enough. At age 12, mom got me a job cleaning a local dentist’s office with my sister. That was how I paid for the braces to straighten my teeth. At 14 I got a job at the community swimming pool as a lifeguard.
The in-crowd kids would get to do fun things that we weren’t able to afford. Those whose parents could afford it would join bowling teams. They would get on buses on Saturdays to go skiing. They would go on great vacations that would include Disney or Hawaii for a week, trips that would include water-skiing, camping, boating etc. Once in a while, I would get invited to join in, such as the time Laura Winward (one of the three Laura’s in my 6th grade class) asked me to go to the cabin on the mountain with her parents for the night. I felt it was a sympathy invitation extended to one of the lesser kids just to help her learn charity. Laura had a crush on my brother, which may have also been why she asked me to go with them.
My mother was creative. She had talent with knitting, sewing, embroidery, cooking, canning. This opened a door for me that I have taken advantage of. I made my first quilt top at 12. I made skirts for school in 6th grade. I would add embroidery to clothing and make doilies for gifting. She realized that she taught the older girls how to cook and somehow I got missed for the lessons by the time I was 12. She had me do all the cooking for the next six months. This taught me how to combine flavors that would go well together in food dishes. I learned to make pies and cakes. I learned knitting and crocheting. Everything she taught me I expanded on later in life. By the time I was 15, a young man I was talking with told me I would make an “excellent wife.” My mother also said that I “would always need a man to take care of” me. So, I made this my goal – to become a good wife. I wasn’t encouraged to try to go to college and get a degree to gain a career by my parents. I was always expected, required even to bring home good grades. I was always an honor student.
I tried to excel ahead of my class. Mom found a teacher teaching the 4th grade (Mr. Gamble) who accepted me in his reading class so that I could go faster than the rest of the students in my 6th grade. Still, that was the only accommodation the school would allow. This increased the bullying I experienced. In 7th grade, I was grabbed up and thrown in a trash can. This was supposed to be a form of junior high initiation. In 8th grade, I was beat up at the place the buses pick up students to take them home. When I was in 9th grade, Mom worked it out that I could attend high school half days. This opened up the door to let me get classes completed ahead of schedule. However, this damaged my social status again. The sophomores had left junior high the previous year resented me being there and the bullying continued, and even a another fist fight, when one girl instigated a third girl into trying to beat me up again. She couldn’t get her hands dirty so she had her muscle do it for her.
By the time I reached high school as a sophomore, I had finished with wearing braces and lost the excess weight. I was kind of pretty. Still, it was too late to be socially acceptable to the in-crowd. They were well established and it didn’t matter that now I had a testimony that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Days was the ‘one true church’ or that I had learned some social skills.
I started dating a man who moved in just a few houses from mine. I was 15 and he was 19. His whole family was Mormon. We got married shortly after I turned 17. My mother allowed this, as she was preparing to divorce my father and this would free her from parental responsibilities. My siblings had already left home. The oldest sister moved to Wyoming and married. My other sister moved in with a high school friend and was supporting herself. My brother also moved out and started his own life.
Once I married a Mormon, the next step was to get baptized, which happened pretty quickly. I wanted to be a forever family, sealed in the temple. I was on my way to the Celestial Kingdom.
It was a struggle to continue with school, though. My husband wasn’t able to support us, and we ended up living with his parents and his five siblings for the greater part of our time being married. I had been working at a local restaurant before we got married and continued after we wed. My husband also got employment at the same place as a cook. He managed to get both of us fired, though I didn’t really know why. Within a few months I got pregnant and quit school. I miscarried the baby shortly afterwards. I found another job working part time for another restaurant. My husband still wasn’t able to keep employment and we continued to live with his parents.
Eventually I got pregnant again. At this time, I had enrolled at the local adult high school and was trying to get my diploma. The pregnancy was making me ill and I was struggling with getting along with my in-laws. I completed a few classes and finished with an adult education high school diploma. My mother saw my struggles, knew my husband was unfaithful and why I was fired from the first restaurant job, and tried to help me without telling me things that would hurt me. She convinced me I should get an abortion then helped me get it. Utah has set it up so that women couldn’t get abortions easily. Women must drive to the one location where abortions are available, women have to have their husband’s permission if they are married, and women have to wait 24 hours after they sign up as a ‘cooling off’ period to allow them to think it over and change their minds. Mom drove me to Colorado to get it done because I was almost too far along to get one. When I returned to Utah, I told my husband and his family that I miscarried again.
Mom discovered she had ovarian cancer about 2 years after I got married. She had divorced my father and remarried about 4 months later. My father had also remarried about 9 months later. Dad was happy with his marriage. Unfortunately, mom’s second marriage wasn’t so good.
Eventually my husband and I moved out of his family’s home and were renting an inexpensive trailer. Soon I discovered that my husband was not faithful. I discovered he had been repeatedly unfaithful through our whole relationship. My mother stepped up and helped me move out. By that time I had found another job that was full time in a department store. I went through the steps of getting a divorce. Within a month of the divorce being final, he remarried because he got another woman pregnant. This was yet another woman he got involved with while we were still married.
After the divorce was finalized, I started working with a military recruiter. I had to lose weight and earn my high school diploma. Regular diplomas are more accepted than adult high school diplomas, so I chose to finish school correctly. I lost 50 pounds over six months and graduated. I joined the Utah Army National Guard after testing high enough to qualify for almost any military job I wanted, including nuclear electronics. I chose the language program because the Navy wasn’t allowing women on nuclear subs. One unit in Draper, Utah recruited linguists, former Mormon missionaries, and would send them to the military school for foreign languages (Defense Language Institute). At this point I signed up to be a Russian Interrogator.
Unfortunately, the day that I signed up was the day I learned that my mother had terminal cancer. Up to that point, we thought she was winning the fight. I didn’t know that I could cancel my enlistment due to this hardship, so I followed through with going to basic training.
Shortly after I finished basic in New Jersey and was a few days at my language school in California, my mother passed away, February 14, 1988. This was heart breaking to me. But I remembered the teaching that I could go through the temple and be baptized for her as a proxy and she still be able to enter the highest level of heaven, the Celestial Kingdom.
When I finished training for becoming an interrogator, I was released back to my home unit in Utah. Before I left Arizona, I thought I found love again, though I was concerned that he was about to be shipped out to Korea. I moved back to Utah and he soon followed me, to convince me to marry him. He promised me that he would become Mormon and take me to the temple. I did marry him and he returned to Arizona, then shipped out to Korea. He returned back to the US after a year and we moved to Georgia. I had our first child there. When our daughter was 6 months old, we were transferred to Hawaii.
It was when we were in Hawaii that my husband remembered his promise and joined the Church. Some missionaries had come to visit us and he liked the young men. He didn’t really like the Church. He didn’t have much time off and he didn’t like spending his spare time sitting in a church building. He didn’t like that he was expected to pay tithing while we were so poor and the words of “God blesses those who pay their tithing faithfully” didn’t mean anything to him even though I tried to point out that, yes, we weren’t financially as well off as others, but we never had set backs and that was God’s way of blessing us.
We had our second child, our son, after being in Hawaii two years. After 3 years and 7 months, we moved back to the states. My husband was released from the Army and he attempted to move us to West Virginia. That failed miserably as his mother was bipolar and didn’t like me. She was very religious and her pastor had told her that Mormonism was evil. So, we left and settled in Iowa.
Getting restarted in Iowa was difficult, and after 5 years, we ended up divorced. He had extreme trouble finding a stable job. Supporting our family fell on me, and I wasn’t well educated and certainly didn’t have much job experience. Yes, I had worked some in Hawaii, but as a security guard for a small apartment complex which didn’t count for much. I found work doing janitorial. I miscarried another baby about three months in the pregnancy. We were very unstable financially and it was likely a good thing that I didn’t have another baby at that time. Still, it hurt me that he was so callous about the loss. It appeared that Iowa was bringing out the worst in us. It seemed that he couldn’t handle me working outside the home, even though we needed me to help support the family. He needed an at-home wife and resented me working to keep us from being homeless.
Another part of the divorce was I started going back to church again. By this time, I had a full time, stable job working for a trucking company. We had been married almost 10 years now and I wanted to go to the temple. I wanted my children sealed to me. He still felt that paying tithing while we were so poor was not right. He also didn’t like how men who went to college, had good employment and could afford to buy suits were telling him he had to pay tithing. So I started paying tithing on my own earnings. I would go to church every week. One particular Sunday when he went with us, he had a conversation with the bishop. The bishop told him that I couldn’t go to the temple without my husband giving his permission. Basically, he told me that he held my temple recommend in his hand. I recognized that he was never going to take me to the temple, he would never give me permission to go on my own and I would never have my children sealed to me. I realized I would need to divorce him if I wanted to go to the temple. I needed to take my power back. Things were already bad for us. I figured I could do bad all by myself. I certainly didn’t need his help.
While I was still undecided about getting divorced, I fasted for 3 days. I didn’t let anyone know I was fasting, and since my husband finally had a secure job (I was also working), no one was the wiser. After 3 days, I realized that I could do this, that I was strong enough. I started making plans to start college. I enrolled in classes full time and quit my job. The financial burden of supporting our family now fell fully on my husband. He didn’t support me with going to college. He resented me for it. This made our situation even worse. When I finished my first semester, I had plans in place to leave. At this point, our situation was very unpleasant. I managed to get away from him, but he managed to take the kids away from me.
It took about a year for me to get a decent job. The courts gave him custody; I got visitation rights and the honor of paying child support. I felt that was the better option since I knew he would never willingly pay child support. I felt that someone needed to make sure the children were fed. He had done everything he could think of to make me look like the monster and the courts accepted his testimony without evidence.
It was all I could do to keep from going under… financially, emotionally, mentally, physically. I struggled with my self-esteem and depression had set in. I tried to go to another semester of college and had to drop out. At one point I had come down with the flu for a week with no one to take care of me. My car died. I would only see my kids every 2 weeks. My ex-husband wouldn’t allow the kids to talk with me outside of those visitation weekends. I had to pull myself up and be the mom they needed me to be. I had to rebuild myself. This was the time when the church tried to reach out to me again with the home teachers and visiting teachers.
When my divorce was final, I started working 2 full time jobs – one as a permanent employee and one as a temp. I worked first shift soldering computer components together on mother boards 35 hours a week and second shift as a medical transcriptionist 40 hours a week where I had to learn everything about transcribing from the ground up. This was working 75 hours a week, Monday through Friday, 7:30 AM to 12:00 AM, leaving the weekends for the visitations with my children. Then 9/11 happened and I lost the temp job I was working. Still, I was starting to do well at transcription so the manager allowed me to work overtime, which helped make up the difference in income.
Once the office cut off the overtime, I was again struggling. I had moved into an apartment by myself and suddenly I couldn’t afford heat or water. I would turn the heat down to 55 and wear blankets when my kids were not with me and turn it up when they were. I had to find another income. This is when I started an alterations service. It took six months for me to get a contract with the local dry cleaners, but after that I could afford heat again and my kids were none the wiser about my struggles.
It was another slap in the face that my ex filed for food stamps about this time. He was in a relationship with the woman who had been our babysitter but he was still not able to keep steady employment. By applying for food stamps, the state decided to raise my child support to more than double and required me to cover the children’s medical insurance. My landlord decided not to renew my lease and I needed to move. I didn’t have good credit since my ex ran our credit cards up and then expected me to pay the bills, so finding a new place to live on short notice proved difficult. I was barely able to buy a cheap, broken down mobile home and move by the deadline.
My children were growing up without me, being brainwashed to believe I was an abuser, that I was negligent because I wasn’t calling them at night (because the ex would turn his phone off so I couldn’t call), that I was working too much, etc. They stopped wanting to spend time with me on weekends and holidays that were supposed to be mine, and the ex was using every tactic possible to make me a failure. I felt like a failure. The only place I had any peace was at church. I was still hopeful that I would be able to go to the temple and receive my endowment.
I had accepted a calling to be a library assistant. Then I was given another calling to be on the activities committee. I finally qualified for a temple recommend. I went to the Navoo temple and received my endowment. I accepted all callings despite the fact that I was working too much and didn’t have time to take care of myself. I bought the Book of Mormon on disk so that I could sew and listen at the same time. I specifically remember the part where the Nephites were required to protect the Lamanites who had converted, who buried their weapons of war and swore they would never kill again. That part struck a cord deep within my spirit, that there were two examples to choose to follow.
It was at this point that I started digging, looking for missing scripture. I wanted more than was being provided. The church goes over the 4 standard texts every 4 years. It is like being provided milk only. There was no meat. If we are meant to be God’s chosen, where was the buffet? I wanted more. I was ready for more. I bought the apocrypha. I bought the Book of Jasher. I wanted to find the missing information that I felt was denied to me. When I mentioned that I was looking for meat, the Bishop tried to discourage me. As his example, he pulled out his Quad Combination and said, “This is all I need.” This did not discourage me. It just made him look like he was holding back. It was by Brother Cazier’s example, where he had mentioned in a sacrament talk, that he had read from some of the apocrypha some wisdom and shared with us. That was when I learned that the church will tell people that there are truths outside of the standard books and encourage us to find these truths, but then stand in our way to discourage us because when we do look outside, that we could slip into apostacy.
A few months before my endowment, I had purchased a pickup truck, in hopes that my daughter and son would like to come live with me. They would need transportation to go back and forth to school. When it turned out that this wasn’t going to happen, I sold the truck on contract to a member of the church. After a few months of payments, the member stopped making payments. I went to the bishop for advice on how to handle this situation. He said, “if you have a contract, then enforce the contract.” This is also about the time when I met Bob. He was also on the activities committee. My life was so crazy at this point, that I really wasn’t paying attention and didn’t see that God had placed him in my path. A year later Bob’s home burned down. I couldn’t imagine losing what little bit I had and I thought about what could happen if I lost my home to a fire. My heart was opened and I reached out to him. We went out to lunch and he started courting me. I had been through so much that I was blind and didn’t realize that he had been waiting for me to notice him for over a year. He had almost left Iowa to go to Texas for a job he had been offered.
Six months after I started dating Bob we got married in the Navoo temple. We sold my old trailer and bought a newer one to live in together in the same area. It was about this time that we started having real problems with the church membership. Bob had helped me see that it would be necessary to sue the member of the church who was contracted to buy my truck but stopped making payments for breach of contract. We started receiving harassing phone calls which escalated into threatening phone calls. Someone vandalized my car. My husband started getting speeding tickets where he had never had them before. He had met with the bishop, tried to get the bishop to help with the situation. This is when the bishop threatened to pull my temple recommend. He threatened to take me before the high council. Bob reminded him that I had come for advice and the Bishop himself had told me to “enforce the contract” and that Bob wouldn’t allow them to take my temple recommend. The persecution had started and wasn’t going to stop. One man even asked Bob in a local store if he was “still” beating me and that’s how we learned that the membership had become involved. These were things Bob didn’t tell me, as he knew I was still very much a believer and he didn’t want me to be hurt. He needed me to start seeing things as they really were, without the illusion, without the cognitive dissonance that comes with this kind of revelation. He needed me to wake up without the harm that comes with a person’s beliefs being shattered.
After we won the lawsuit, the persecution continued, now with people showing up to the door (as well as calling on the phone), telling us we needed to return the truck. We never received the payment we were due according to the courts, and the man is still in contempt of court. But he was the church’s golden child, so he received no reprimand nor condemnation. Of course, there are other problems that have not been expressed here, as I am trying to keep this narration generalized without too much specific information.
After 2 years of marriage, Bob and I moved to another town because of this persecution. We attempted to start going to the church there, but this didn’t work out too well. Bob had seen too much in the church to be a true believer. I had been a full Molly Mormon. He had never fully developed into a Peter Priesthood. I had to trust in my husband that he knew what was best for us. At that point, I let it go, let it all go. I let the church go. It helped that Bob had encouraged me to start college and learn to think critically. Bob has a legal mind where I have a medical mind. He is skilled at understanding the law and I can grab concepts regarding biology. Slowly over the years I have been able to grasp the concept of “look for the agenda” behind a situation but I needed him to help me overcome the brainwashing. He would say things like “I understand that you need to process to accept change” and that I should trust his experience in life to know. He knew that my intuition could pick up that something wasn’t right, but that I couldn’t identify what the problem may be. He would walk me through the steps for critical thinking.
One day, when I was learning deep research for my college courses, I was thinking about how the bible expresses that whenever there is a prophet needed, God would find someone outside of the established church. I remembered that the Church was waiting for the Lord to provide the sealed portion to its people. I remember thinking it odd that it was already over 170 years since Joseph Smith, Jr. had brough forth the Book of Mormon. How long would it take for God to prove his church as righteous enough to provide the sealed records? So, I thought to go online and see if I could find anything, anything at all regarding the sealed portion. This is how I found the work of Christopher Nemelka. I stumbled upon the Book of Lehi and read it quickly. Then I started diving deeper and found the authorized biography of Joseph Smith, Jr. Then I started reading Human Reality and continued on with The Sealed Portion.
We moved back to the town where Bob and I met when the business we started failed. The church wasn’t yet ready to let go. We stopped to visit with some LDS friends of mine and they offered to let us stay with them until we found a place to live. I helped with the house while Bob went to work. When he had made enough for us to buy another cheap, broken down trailer we moved into it. This took two months of living in their basement. Part of the agreement was that Bob help them with readying their home for sale, as they were looking at retirement and were going to move back to Utah. This was in gratitude of them helping us not be homeless on the street with two dogs. We believed they were true friends.
On one Saturday, Bob was at their home, helping with the manual labor that comes with painting and finish carpentry. He had gone upstairs to speak with them about the work he was doing. He overheard the couple making disparaging statements about Bob being unworthy of having me as his wife. They were quite mean spirited with the things they were saying, words that cut him to the heart. After he knew their true feelings about him, he calmly walked out their door. That was the end of any effort to restore us to the fold. We figured out that they were just keeping tabs on us for the Church so that the church would know our business.
It was at this point that we successfully made a complete break from the Church. It became clear to us, because we were still getting the occasional contact via emails with meeting announcements or missionaries showing up at the door, that we would need to make a stand. So, I sent an email to the leadership that if they did not cease and desist that I would contact a lawyer and sue for harassment. I also told them that I would tell anyone and everyone, including missionaries that The Sealed Portion had been published and they needed to read it. That seemed to stop the harassment. Of course, Bob had also contacted the Department of Motor Vehicles and complained about the police department, explaining that the church leadership had caused the police to target us deliberately in an attempt to sabotage us, that one of the church leaders had been a chief of police in the area. There were members of the police who backed this up when interviewed.
I continued to follow Christopher on Facebook, reading about the Humanity Party and the plan to eliminate poverty, and his request to sign the book with our names, etc. It was because of The Sealed Portion that I was better equipped to leave the church behind, that I was able to let it go and not keep returning to it as I had previously. I had joined the church when I was 17 and returned to it again and again over 30 years’ time. It took The Sealed Portion and the aid of my husband teaching me how to think critically that I was able to be free, and for this I am grateful that the True Messenger was willing to commit to so much pain of his own to help us break free. Thank you, Christopher, for your kindness and generosity.