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King Benjamin Preaches to His People (About 124 B.C.) -by Gary Kapp
Alfred and Doris Morris Clark: This is a couple who have, as you will discover in this and in the following post, yielded themselves to the enticements of the Holy Spirit just as King Benjamin admonished his people in the scripture above, to do.
Mosiah 3:19 For the natural man is an enemy to God, and has been from the fall of Adam, and will be, forever and ever, unless he yields to the enticings of the Holy Spirit, and putteth off the natural man and becometh a saint through the atonement of Christ the Lord, and becometh as a child, submissive, meek, humble, patient, full of love, willing to submit to all things which the Lord seeth fit to inflict upon him, even as a child doth submit to his father. (emphasis added)
Although the Clarks may not be counted as descendants of King Benjamin's people, the Clarks like the king and his people, can trace at least some of their ancestry to Father Lehi who brought his family with him from Jerusalem in 600 B.C. to what is most likely known as Central America in our day. According to the words of the prophet Mormon, given below, we can expect the Clarks, as descendants of Father Lehi and before him, Joseph Who was Sold Into Egypt, to be greatly blessed:
22 And insomuch as the children of Lehi have kept his commandments he hath blessed them and prospered them according to his word.
23 Yea, and surely shall he again bring a remnant of the seed of Joseph to the knowledge of the Lord their God. (emphasis added)Alfred Clark's Life is the main focus of this Post. In the following Post we will focus on Doris Clark's Life.
Most of this post is copied from Chapter 20 of Blossoming II by Dale and Margene Shumway (Published in 2007). Except for the couple and family photos all photos were added by blogger Neil Birch using Google Search to find them.
Twin Buttes, shown on this map and in the photo below is not very far from The Clark's Home Village of Indian Wells.
Alfred Clark began his venture in mortality on October 11, 1961, at the Indian hospital in Winslow, Arizona. He was the second of four boys born to Francis and Ellen John Clark of the small Navajo Reservation village of Indian Wells to the north.
A Navajo Hogan
At that time his family lived in a hogan on their sheep ranch, in a smaller Indian village named Bitahochee, about five miles north of the trading post. The Clarks kept a herd of between 100 and 200 sheep. They also had horses and at one time raised cattle as well. Alfred’s maternal grandparents were Charlie and Evelyn Spencer John with Grandpa Charlie John finding fame as a medicine man of note. Alfred remembers people coming to hire his grandfather to perform ceremonies.
“My grandfather told me he specialized in performing the ‘No-Good Way.’ Each ceremony was different, and at times they could span four days.”
Alfred remembers doing a lot of sheep herding as a young boy, either by himself or with his brothers. Sheep herding provided entertainment for the children, who did not have many toys. Alfred fondly recalls those simple days. “We didn’t have money to buy toys, so our toys were things we made ourselves either from branches or rocks. We enjoyed playing rough in the washes and ditches. We had to be careful because if we got too involved in our imagination, the next thing we found was that the sheep were no longer nearby. Then we would have to track the animals down, which was an exciting diversion. We knew we couldn’t go home without all of the sheep; I remember several occasions when I was sent back out late at night to look for a missing animal. During some of the best times my grandma would herd sheep with us. She would ride a horse with a big bundle behind her that contained her wool for carding and spinning and her grill so she could prepare our lunch.
In those boyhood days both parents worked so Grandmother Clah was our primary caretaker. My mom was a clerk at the trading post from Monday through Saturday and my dad was away working on the railroads. He worked with what is called a steel gang, replacing the steel on the rails. Both of my parents had some schooling and could speak English. My parents never joined the LDS Church but they have always been active in organized religion. When I was a child, we attended the Presbyterian Church in Indian Wells.
“There were some problems with alcohol in my family. At times my uncle would come home drinking. Being young, I didn’t know why the adults would turn off the lights when he came home. When it happened, I would sit in the dark and just listen and wonder until I eventually drifted off to sleep. In the morning, it was like nothing had happened. My father was also an alcoholic. He tended to have a short fuse of a temper when he was drinking. We children weren’t abused, although I remember getting a good whipping a time or two when he was having problems with alcohol. Happily, he was able to overcome his problem later in his life when serious health problems forced him to acknowledge his weakness, and he was able to quit this negative habit.”
Much to his dismay, Alfred began school at nearby Greasewood boarding school at the age of six or seven. At the school, he cried himself to sleep many nights due to his missing his home and family, and on a couple occasions he returned home only to be taken right back to the BIA dorm. Alfred’s brothers also attended the same school. In general they were able to see their family once a month. The family didn’t have a car, so the boys could go home for the weekend only if they were able to get a ride. Life improved when Alfred’s uncle gave his parents a truck and the family had their own transportation.
Alfred remembers one serious attempt to run away from school: “In the fifth grade, three of us decided to attempt our escape, but before anybody could miss us, we came back. We were gone a total of three or four hours before our hunger and thirst persuaded us to give up the attempt.” Life at the boarding school was different than at home in many ways. “There were a ton of kids my age, and we were all scared. The food was okay but different than what I was used to. Learning how to use eating utensils was new for me. At home, my family sat down in a circle on a tarp on the floor of the hogan for mealtimes. Each of us had our piece of tortilla and we ate out of one skillet in the middle of the tarp.
“At school, we were advised that we had to change our ways. We were not allowed to mop up our gravy with bread. We were not supposed to talk in Navajo. I didn’t know any English when I started school, and it was difficult to learn, just like any new language.
“I was in the dorm in 1967, the year of the big snowstorm. We weren’t allowed outside for a long time, and when we were finally allowed out to go to the cafeteria, I remember walking through a tunnel of snow and looking up to see snow on both sides above my head. I stayed at Greasewood through the eighth grade and did fairly well. I was a good student, at least a B average student. English was my best subject by the time of my promotion. Socially, I was on the shy side. I was a good kid and never got in trouble.”
At Holbrook High School Alfred’s new found freedom led him to make some good and bad choices. Socially he started to blossom with many Anglo, Hispanic, black, and Native American friends. Unfortunately, he was exposed to drugs and alcohol, and Alfred found them an almost overwhelming temptation. Finding himself in their negative grip, his grades declined until he was asked to leave Holbrook High School.
For his junior year, Alfred transferred to Many Farms High School but his experimentation with drugs continued to drag him down. He remembers, "I found drugs changed my personality in many sad ways. School was no longer as important to me. I lost all sense of responsibility to the point that I regrettably involved my younger brothers with these same abusive substances. I later became sorry that I led them astray. At that time we rode the bus to school. Both of my parents worked, so we were able to get a little lunch money. Every day when we got into town, we’d combine our money to buy the drugs and alcohol we felt we needed to get through the day.
“A great change was wrought in my life when I met Doris Morris while we were both working at the chapter house the summer between my junior and senior year. We were involved in a summer youth program sponsored by the tribe. At the time I had shoulder-length hair, and Doris says I caught her eye riding up to the chapter house on my horse. Doris was an active Latter-day Saint, and didn’t approve of my gentile habits. Getting to know Doris helped me find new motivation to change and a more serious perspective in my life. I began to make positive changes, for myself as well as for her. When the summer ended Doris returned to Utah as a Placement student, in spite of my efforts to persuade her to stay and attend Holbrook with me. I completed my senior year and graduated from Holbrook High School.”
After graduation, Alfred began to consider continuing his education. He was interested in computers and looked into attending DeVry Institute, a technical school in the valley. But the plans never developed because Doris returned home, and the two began seeing each other regularly. Alfred and his brother, who married Doris’s younger sister Marjorie, spent a good deal of time visiting the two young ladies and Alfred and Doris became more serious.
In May 1981, a year after his graduation, Alfred and Doris took the big step into the unknown and were married. Alfred remembers the struggles of those newlywed years. “We didn’t have a lot of money and had to depend on living with my family for some time. Doris was working at Charlie McGee’s clothing store in Holbrook. I got involved with the local Navajo chapter projects and worked for two years, building homes and working as a carpenter in the Indian Wells, White Cone, and Dilkon areas. The job was full-time and fair pay.
“When Doris was pregnant with our first child, I found a better paying job off the reservation as a maintenance person at Cholla Lake near Joseph City, Az. We camped out at the lake during the time I was employed there. We were fortunate to have some good friends who helped us out along the way, especially Nelson and Karen Miller of Joe City. Personally I was doing better in my life, but I had a tendency to fall back into my old ways every now and then, especially with alcohol.
“When I first learned Doris was Mormon, I had mostly positive thoughts about her religion. During the time we dated, Doris would occasionally talk to me about the Church, and eventually the missionaries came to visit with us and teach me. I initially insisted that they teach me only from the Bible. They presented a lot of new doctrine to learn and understand. Having been raised in the Presbyterian Church, I finally agreed to attend Church with Doris. I admit that I was curious as a new born coyote and all eyes and ears at my first sacrament meeting, trying to comprehend everything that was going on.
“At this point in our courtship, Doris and I were living together although we weren’t yet married. We had been through several sets of elders, but I will never forget Elder Gardner, who really tightened the screws on me. We had come to the point of discussing baptism, and he told me I would have to change my ways in order to be worthy to be baptized; he admonished me that I couldn’t be baptized without being married to Doris. We were married on May 16, 1981, and I was baptized the following month on June 10.
“My decision to join the Church was not well received by my family, which was difficult for me. After I committed to baptism, I went to tell my mother and grandmother of my decision. Still an active member of her Presbyterian congregation, my mom was pretty upset with my decision. Mom told me I was already baptized in the Presbyterian Church and I shouldn’t be baptized into another church, and she refused to accept my decision. I told her that baptism was what I wanted to do and nothing could change my mind, but I would still love her in spite of her feelings about my baptism. When I attempted to give her a hug, she held out her hand to keep me away. Their reactions really hurt me, but I still went ahead with my baptism.”
Just months after his baptism, Alfred was called to be the branch president at Indian Wells. The calling helped to keep him active as a new convert and provided him an opportunity to gain a greater understanding of the gospel and strengthen his testimony. He is currently serving (for the third time) as branch president. He has also served as elders quorum president and first counselor in the bishopric.
Through his father, Alfred was able to get a job with the Santa Fe railroad. The job paid very well (the best pay he had ever received), but the work kept him away from his family and Church responsibilities. After a year and a half with the railroad, Alfred and Doris decided that being at home as a family was more important than the money, so Alfred quit his job, much to his parents’ disapproval. In retrospect, Alfred feels the decision to be at home with his family brought blessings into his life. “I know I’ve truly been blessed to be able to provide for my family. I’ve worked many odd jobs trying to make a buck when we were struggling to get by, but I have never been unemployed.”
Alfred was hired to work at Bitahochee trading post, owned by Church members Robert and Geraldine Walker. He and Doris eventually managed the trading post together. After several years, the Walkers had to sell the business because of health problems and Alfred found work first delivering mail and then driving a bus for the Holbrook school district. He has also served as a Navajo chapter president for eight years at Indian Wells.
Alfred ended his employment search with his current position working for the county probation department, which he has enjoyed. “I have about thirteen years with Navajo County, and there has never been a dull moment. The work is challenging, but fulfilling. I have worked with juvenile detention for eight years, before transferring to juvenile probation for several years. I recently transferred to the adult intensive probation.
“I have had a number of interesting experiences while on the job, and my first encounter with violence stands out in my memory. I was working with juvenile detention at the time. Back in the old days, there were always two people, a male and a female, working on twelve-hour rotating shifts. We had in our custody a seventeen-year old boy who had been caught and detained in our county until he could be sent to face charges against him on the east coast. On this particular night, my partner was busy with problems in the girls unit; I was monitoring the central control console, which has display monitors for each unit. One of the rowdier units was playing with toilet paper. The boys were unrolling all the toilet paper and flushing it down the toilet, so I took it away from them. Late at night, this particular boy called from that unit claiming he needed to use the bathroom. I entered the unit and unlocked the door. As the youth started to walk down the hall, I turned back toward the entrance. I then distinctly heard a loud, clear voice instruct me to not turn my back on him. I turned to look back at him and watched him walk into the bathroom. When the youth finished in the bathroom, he came to the door and informed me that he was done, and then he turned and started to walk toward his cell. I returned to his unit with the intention of re-locking his cell door. When I reached the steel door of the unit, I looked through the window and could still see him walking away from me. I inserted my key and as I opened the door, I looked up and saw him running straight at me. I tried to close the door, but before I could shut it, he hit it and we both came out into the main console area. The boy started throwing punches at me.
My first thought was to hang on to my keys and keep him from going toward the girls unit, where my partner was. The next thing I remember was being filled with a strong spiritual feeling that is hard to describe. I felt enclosed with warmth, and I felt a strong presence behind my back, supporting me. It was clear that the young man also immediately felt this presence because he suddenly backed up--and then said to me, ‘I give up!” I was able to restrain him and wait for backup from the sheriff’s office to assist in placing the juvenile back into his cell. This was the first time that I realized how much my Heavenly Father loves me. I was also amazed at the power of the Holy Ghost. As I was driving home the next morning, I reflected on the incident with tears and many prayers of thanksgiving.”
|The St. George, Utah Temple|
Two years after their marriage, Alfred and Doris were sealed in the St. George Temple on April 6, 1983. Alfred recognized the significance of the step he was taking at the time. “We had some great missionaries at that time in Indian Wells, Elder and Sister Fisher from Salt Lake, who took us to St. George to go to the temple. (We were still without our own transportation at that time.) Doris’s foster family came down from Bountiful. I knew it was a very special time for our family and that it would open lots of spiritual doors for us. We still go to the temple, and we learn every time we go.”The Clarks feel their membership in the Church and faith in the Lord have brought many blessings into their lives. “We’ve had many special experiences and have had miracles performed in our lives. Our oldest daughter, Tiah, is one example. At one point she had an infection in her eye, similar to herpes or cold sores, which resulted in major scarring. The doctor told us she would eventually lose sight in that eye. After various tests, it was determined that surgery was necessary. Tiah was only four or five years old at the time, and the news was difficult for us. As we were coming back from visiting with the doctor, we stopped at Brother Gayle Perkins’ house and asked for a Priesthood blessing. In several days we returned to Winslow for the final testing before the surgery. The doctors were mystified by the test results and were certain there was some mistake because although they could still see the scarring, Tiah’s vision had improved tremendously. It was decided that she no longer needed the surgery.
“Our family was blessed when we responded to President Hinckley’s challenge to read the Book of Mormon. In all the years since my baptism, I’d never taken the opportunity to finish the Book of Mormon, although our family has read the first few books many, many times in efforts to have regular family scripture study. But when the prophet asked us to read the whole book by the end of the year, we had a great desire to follow his counsel. Each member of the family individually set and accomplished the goal to finish the Book of Mormon that year, and just as President Hinckley promised, our lives were enriched. That choice experience prompted me to read more Church material; right now I am going through the New Testament.
“The best thing about the Church is its focus on families.
We just had the happy experience of seeing our new daughter-in-law become a member of the Church. When our son Ryan first began dating her, we didn’t want to tell her that she needed to be baptized, but we tried to teach her and hoped that our example would be a witness to her of the truthfulness of the gospel. Accepting the gospel has brought about many wonderful changes in her. I was very fortunate to find such a special woman in my own life. She has a special influence on me and has changed my life by her example and love. I am so grateful for the Church’s teachings and my wife’s Placement experiences that have helped us raise our children in righteousness. We have learned so much from all our brothers and sisters in the Church. I cannot say enough about the goodness of the Church and the truthfulness of the gospel. I know that the Church is true and that we have a living prophet today, and I can never deny it.”
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