Mel and I just returned from a weekend trip/service project in one of the most isolated places in America. It’s known as Short Creek which borders Utah and Arizona, Hildale on the Utah side and Colorado City on the Arizona side. We were there with the Fern Foundation helping rebuild a zoo that once had a bear, a zebra, and a camel, etc… When Warren Jeffs ( I am making an assumption you know who he is) took over many of the basic things this community enjoyed were outlawed and the animals in the zoo were sold. It appears that things are on the mend now after many years of crazy leadership!
On Saturday we helped to build a new outhouse, re-landscape nearly an acre, plant a bunch of new plants, put up a pergola, etc.. The kids in town are out riding bikes, running around on 4-wheelers and playing sports again. All of these things were forbidden under Warren Jeffs. We were told that the minute his brother Lyle Jeffs fled after the food stamp scandal kids began riding bikes again.
I can’t pretend to know the slightest about this community. I do know however that there is a division here between those that still follow Jeffs and those who have left the FLDS community. Many of the people who have left the church are hoping to rebuild this community and put the nightmare in the past.
Warren Jeff’s old home is now vacant but under the control of one of his ex wives. It’s hard to believe that it once housed dozens of children and dozens of wives. Each night Jeffs would stand at the end of a large room and his wives would wait in line and each in turn would give him a peck on the lips and then go to bed. Ugh! It’s creepy yes but we had a blast in a creepy kind of way sleeping in one of those rooms.
We met many ex-FLDS and some who are still followers of Warren. Say what you want about Warren, these people are some of the most kind people I have ever met. Words cannot describe how much we loved this experience with all the friends at the Fern Foundation and We absolutely fell in love with the people in this community and hope to return again soon. Here are some of my favorite pics.
Brick work on the side of Jeff’s house. A basketball hoop in the same courtyard. I took this picture because all basketball hoops were taken down during his last years there and now some are back up.
I purchased a fine bird house from this young FLDS faithful. His name is Warren. Good kid.
Colorado City is gorgeous!
These young FLDS girls braided the hair of some of the workers including my wife.
I asked these two what they do for fun. They said they had been camping three nights in a row and stayed up till midnight washing eggs to sell our volunteer staff. They said someone rustled their tent and it spooked em.
Flower bush in front of Warren Jeffs home. You can find some kind of symbolism there, maybe?
A morning road in Hildale.
The pond at the zoo. The wave runner is not fully active but when it is the kids can putt around on it.
These ducks were donated by the Fern Foundation. I think.
Fern Foundation leadership. They did an amazing job of getting this all together.
Andrew was our tour guide on a beautiful hike on the back side of Zion National Park. The kids in the above picture have hiked this canyon so many times they can’t remember. They were all a pure delight.
I made Candice pose to look like she was working. 🙂
We had some wonderful talks with many great people. Edna has seen some hard times. Her dad was banished 5 years ago and was only allowed to shake their hands before he left. She was so fun to talk to and very open about her experience.
This is Warren Jeffs front door and one of the many hall ways. Many of the homes in Short Creek having the word “Zion” written over the door. You would be surprised at the pink, blue and green carpet we found in there. Not to mention the secret door leading to a vault.
One of these girls is getting evicted this month. She told my wife they are best friends and will miss each other. Warren Jeffs is still communicating from prison and is not permitting the faithful FLDS to sign documents that would allow them to stay. These families are among the faithful.
On Friday we went to Mountain Meadows for a tour but it was freezing and windy I had already read the book so we bailed.
What a contrast this concert was. It was a small music festival but it attracted such a wide variety of people it was surprising who showed up.
My wife slipped near a water hole and literally was baptized by complete immersion, a funny joke while hanging out with ex-flds. Baptized at Short Creek!
I took this picture simply because we were on a hike with “Fern Foundation” and Bam! A Fern! That is a fern right?
Candice and Lance are my good neighbors in Northern Utah. She introduced us to this project.
Colorado City Music Festival participants.
Great food prepared by the Galloway family!