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Dear Roice, Ben, Paul, Melanie, Sara, and Rob,

cc: file, Mom, Sara and Des, Lloyd and Luana Warner, Darrell and Nancy Krueger, Diane Cluff, Tony Hafen, Claude and Katherine Warner, Forest and Amy Warner, Ivan and Chell Warner, and Eric and Renee Miner

Welcome to "Thoughtlets." This is a weekly review of an idea, belief, thought, or words that will hopefully be of some benefit to you, my children, with an electronic copy to on-line extended family members. Any of you can ask me not to clutter your mail box at any time.

"This is the first year I have put up the United States of America flag at our house for the fourth of July. It is the first year I have had a flag. It was part of the stuff I brought back from Utah two weeks ago. The stars and stripes have become very special to me over the years.

I attempted to summarize this with a stanza in `Prime Words' titled `Execution' (page 130). Although the points are probably made clearer in footnotes a, b, and c (page 136). To quote the footnotes:

a. Second trip to Nigeria in about 1978: arrived at the Mobil guest house on Victoria Island, a large white Victorian Mansion and watched the evening news. Three men were shown blindfolded on the beach and their crimes of petty theft were described, as the camera zoomed back to show the firing squad and the smoke and the three men dropping. As they hit the sand the announcer came on and said: `And now for the weather.' b. First trip to China in about 1984 we were taken on a tour of the Geophysical Research Institute's (GRI's) computer processing facility. There were no Chinese there. As we were leaving about 11:00 AM, the Chinese started streaming in. A Chinese American in our group asked a friend where they had been. He was told they were all at the stadium. When asked why, the answer was to see a public execution. Responding to another why, he said, the criminal had stolen a television a few days before. c. Recently a Shiite Moslem was put to death by having his head cut-off in a public market on a Thursday morning (equivalent to the Saturday morning shopping crowd on Labor Day weekend). At age 16 this individual had said the prophet Mohammed was not inspired. His execution followed five years in prison.

I believe most of you heard of another adventure that helped focus my mind on the value of the liberty we so much take for granted at the end of my first trip to China. But in the spirit of turning these Thoughtlets into a documentation of anecdotes you will hopefully find interesting I will write the experience out.

Largely influenced by President Kimball's talk `When the World Will Be Converted' (address at a Regional Representatives Seminar, Thursday, April 4, 1974; see The Ensign/October 1974, pages 3-14), I suggested to Bob Limbaugh, the initial President of Landmark Graphics, we should present a paper at a joint SEG/CNPS (Society of Exploration Geophysicists / China National Petroleum Society) seminar. He immediately agreed and this resulted in the first of my 19 trips (so far) into the People's Republic of China. I had no idea what I was in for, nor did I do any real preparation. I just assumed everything would work out and I would be able to meet with those I needed to meet with to open up China to Interactive Seismic Interpretation technologies. Therefore I allowed three days at the end of the trip to just have meetings. The experience referenced above (see b) dramatically taught me life in China was different than life in Texas.

However, I didn't change my objectives and my plans. At the end of the symposium, when all of the others attending from outside China were leaving, and when I couldn't place a phone call, send a fax, or understand the language or the culture I started to realize the trip was not going to turn out like Wilford Woodruff's mission to England. I finally gave up trying to contact potential clients and went on a tour with the last of the group still in China. We went to The Summer Palace. However the van driver went the wrong way. As we were going we saw a military air field with military jets and then we came to an intersection where a policeman in the green Mao suit stopped us, told the bus driver Americans were not suppose to be there, and sent us back to headquarters. We were joking about how they wanted to make sure we had an opportunity to take photographs of the planes (although none of us took any pictures). It took about an hour of angry discussions to get us released and to allow us to go on our tour of The Summer Palace. Then we went back to the Fragrant Garden Hotel and the next morning everyone left. I couldn't even figure out how to change my plane schedule and realized I would be stuck there for two more days alone in China. I read, I went to the museums and the Pagota's in the area, and I found myself very bored. So I decided to go for a walk. There were a lot of Chinese riding a chair lift to the top of the mountain, but I decided to climb the mountain.

When I got to the top I was absolutely astonished to see that all of the beautiful vegetation and trees stopped at the top of the hill. Evidently the valley had belonged to royalty and they had protected it, but outside the valley everything had been stripped for firewood. It was pretty and I decided to walk along the ridge. I walked a little further than I thought I had and realized that the ledge a ways further on might look right down on the military compound where we had been held for an hour the day before. I went on to the ledge and looked down at the compound with my telephoto camera lens. I did not take any pictures. About this time I realized the sun was starting to go down and did not want to walk the two + miles back along the ridge to the hotel. So I decided to just take a short cut and go straight down the cove and back to the hotel. Big mistake.

The further down I went the thicker the vegetation. Then the sun went down and it immediately turned black. The foliage turned into thorns, and started to tear my clothes. I had dropped a long ways, maybe 1,000 feet, and really did not want to climb back up the mountain. After all I was pretty close to the bottom of the mountain. Then I came to a brick fence with barb wire and as I looked into someone's backyard their big German Shephard saw me and started to bark. The men in the house all had on green Mao uniforms. They came out and got the dog and went back in the house with him. He kept barking. I climbed through the barb wire, tearing my shirt again, walked up to their back door, knocked, and as they answered the door I said, `You don't understand me, I don't understand you, if you are half as scared as I am I feel sorry for you, and I am going to walk through your house.' They did not stop me, but they were obviously as scared as I was. I walked through their house, went out their front door, walked down the walkway around the corner, and then ran as fast as I could to the hotel. Until the cab came to take me to the airport I lived on room service and read some books I had brought with me. As I recall there was a novel and my scriptures. I definitly realized the importance and the value of liberty that evening.

As I watch you kids grow up and make choices, I hope you realize the wonderful blessings we take for granted. As Sister Collette McMurtry said in her testimony today: `Understand what freedom is and what it costs, for there is a cost.' Paul is the first of you kids to really come face to face with the value and cost of the liberty we enjoy. I look forward to watching his interactions with the rest of you over the next twenty + years. I hope you never have to come face to face with the cost of freedom, and yet I want you to each realize how wonderfully blessed we are. I expect you will each have opportunities to visit exotic places and to see the impact of a lack of freedom on individuals, families, and societies. In the meantime, take my words for it, reverance the flag, and be very careful how you choose to spend the freedom which has been purchased for each of us at such a tremendous cost of lives, sacrifices, consecrations, and atonement."

I'm interested in sharing weekly a "thoughtlet" (little statements of big thoughts which mean a lot to me) with you because I know how important the written word can be. I am concerned about how easy it is to drift and forget our roots and our potential among all of distractions of daily life. If you ever want to download any of these thoughtlets, they are posted at or you can e-mail me at

With all my love,
(H. Roice Nelson, Jr.)

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Copyright © 1997 H. Roice Nelson, Jr.