Tuesday, October 18, 2016


Stay in the boat, Hold on and Wear your life jacket!

We cannot be the lifeline for someone else if we are not securely strapped into our own life jacket.

16 years ago, my friend Gary and I took our families on a canoe trip down the Green River.  We started the trip at Green River Utah and went to Mineral Bottom, west of Moab Utah.  A beautiful 4 day trip of about 68 miles.

Now before I go further I need to tell you something personal about myself.  Many of you will find this hard to believe but here is my confession.  I am a very stubborn man.  When I was a little boy, I was a very stubborn child.  Fortunately I had a Mom and a Dad who knew how to teach me.  I have also been blessed with a Heavenly Father who knows me as He knows each of you.  Just as we know our children and know what they will do in certain circumstances, He knows what I am likely to do.

Now with that in mind, let’s go back to the river.  On the second day down the river, the water was very calm, very smooth water.  About midday most everyone stopped for lunch and to stretch their legs on a beach.  My Daughter Jessica was sharing a canoe with me and when we started to shore she cried that the mosquito's were too bad and said she did not want to go in.  She is very allergic to them and each bite swells more than expected.  So we floated a little further down the river where we found a place in the shade of the cliffs and stayed there in the canoe to have our lunch and rest.  It was cool there, no bugs and totally calm so we laid back to take a nap.  At some point I took off my life jacket and used it for a pillow. (Bad idea… more to come on that subject)  We stayed there about an hour and then took off when everyone else came along. We were bringing up the rear with Gary in the lead. Almost too late, Gary realized we were almost to "River Register" at approximately mile 77.5 where people have written their names for years and years back to the time of Major John Wesley Powell. Gary wanted to stop and hike to river register so he started hollering for everyone to go to shore. The Canoes were in the middle of the river had to turn the canoe sideways across the river and even paddle a bit up stream to get to the shore. I told Jessica that we should take a more direct approach (bad idea number 2) so we started to angle directly to the beach.  
When we got close to shore we saw that there was a big rock sticking out of the river a little so we tried to get past it on the side away from the shore but we were way too close to it. When we got to the side of it the current grabbed our canoe and sucked us sideways and promptly turned the canoe upside down throwing us out into the water. Remember the life jacket? Well it was still on the seat right in front of me but no big deal I’m a good swimmer, I have no shoes on to weigh me down, I have a cotton tee shirt and cotton Dockers so I can swim easily. Everything is tied in the canoe so again no big deal. My oar is not tied and is floating right in front of me so I grab it and start swimming to shore. Jessica is yelling something about my life jacket and is trying to pull it free from the canoe. All of a sudden I am going down in the water. That eddy is churning and sucking on the downstream side of that rock and it wants to take me to the bottom. I am kicking and swimming as hard as I can but I can’t get my head above water. I manage to get my head up about twice for quick breaths and as I go down the third time I’m thinking, If I don’t get up now I am through.

I will continue this story with Kyle’s account.  Kyle is Gary’s youngest son and was only 13 years old at the time. Quote “Well, we had about four to five canoes and one kayak and we would trade off and on with the kayak.  It was my turn in the kayak and we had to stop at this one stop called Register Rock.  There was a rock in the middle of the river that everyone had to go around and came back into the spot where we wanted to go except Theron.  He went in between the rock and us on shore.  He went facing across the river sideways when he tipped over and didn’t have his life jacket on.  At that time I was barely getting to shore when my dad told me to get out there and help Theron.  So I pushed out there and I tried to go up stream into the eddy, but it was a real strong current.  I could see his head bob up and down in the water so I went over to where he was I couldn’t see him.  Then I felt something at the back of the kayak, I yelled to him to grab on.  As I turned and looked back I saw him hanging on the back so I pulled down into safe water and over into the bushes.”  Close quote.

Now I was under water when I heard Kyle yell at me to grab on. I reach my hand straight up and there is the kayak. I grab the back of it and pull myself up out of the water. I am exhausted and can hardly do anything but hang on. Jessica swims to me with my life jacket yelling at me to put it on (she is crying). She helps me get my arms in it and zips it up.

Now after it is over I am told that Allen (my son) was on shore and already took his jacket off to go hike to register rock. He runs and jumps in after me with no jacket. Luckily Kyle saved me before Allen had a chance to get sucked into that eddy.

Was I lucky that day or did God know I was going to be stupid and stubborn.  Gary’s wife Lesley yelled at me to put my life jacket on just a few minutes before the accident.  I told her I was a good swimmer and the water was calm and not to worry.  Was I lucky or did the Lord prepare a 13 year old boy to save me from myself.  I am sure that if Kyle had not got to me when he did I probably would have drowned.

Was I lucky or was I again blessed with another miracle in my life.

Kyle is the youngest on the trip, I am the oldest.  He is the smallest, I am the largest.  What do you think? 

I know that Heavenly Father knew I would do something stupid that day and he helped a 13 year old boy learn to kayak and prepared him to save my life.  I heard him clearly tell me to grab on.  I didn’t hear anything else but I heard that!  How can I hear that when I am underwater in a river current that strong.  The Holy Ghost is the answer.  I know that God lives, I know that Jesus Christ is His Son, our Redeemer who atoned for our sins.  I know the Gift of the Holy Ghost is real and that He is the comforter.  I am thankful that I am allowed to learn and progress on this earth, that I can make mistakes, sin and repent of those sins and be forgiven.  I know that I need to be a little bit better today than yesterday and better tomorrow than today.  I testify of these things in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.


  1. I never get tired of hearing this story. Thank you for your testimony, Theron. And I'm glad you're still alive.