Monthly Archives: September 2014

What Are The Odds?

I’m writing this post while I still have it fresh in my mind after an interesting day. This morning I took the UTA bus (Utah Transit Authority) to the FrontRunner train station (part of the UTA’s major transit artery along the Wasatch Front) in Provo. My goal for the day was to approach a specific company in Salt Lake City about sponsoring our Painting the HeART of America plein air tour across 16 states. I didn’t have an appointment, but I did succeed in getting her direct contact information and sent her an email with a teaser about our tour. What this blog post is about though, happened on my return trip back to Provo.

I’m calling this post, “What Are The Odds?” and I will attempt to form my thoughts into intelligible words….

Timing is everything. I believe that when we want something bad enough, the Universe delivers. And sometimes the Universe (or God, as I prefer to call this great manifesting power), let’s us know by some indicator if we are on the right path toward reaching our desire. Sometimes however, we may often and unknowingly play a role in becoming another person’s delivery man (otherwise known as an angel) toward manifesting what they, themselves desire. This happened to at least two individuals that I am aware of today… myself, (a Mormon by faith) and an Amish man in the center of Utah Mormon country. What are the odds of the two of us meeting together who are both residents of states which are thousands of miles apart at a specific time and place? Two individuals, peculiar to the rest of the world, who discovered we had a few things in common and became fast friends! Utah is about sixty percent Mormon (also known as The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saint or LDS) and has the highest population of LDS members in the United States than any other state. As far as I know, there are no permanent Amish residents here. The further you head east from Utah, Mormons are a rarity. My new Amish friend, named Melvin is from Indianapolis, Indiana, one of the few states with largest concentration of people of the Amish tradition in North America (the other, being Pennsylvania)… what are the odds that the two of the most unlikely people to get together, would meet at a specific time and place?

I shared with Melvin, why I found the Amish culture so interesting and how this people related to the purpose our painting tour across the USA. Once Melvin understood clearly what our project was, he suggested a few of the best places in Indiana where we might find the type of subject we are looking for, if we choose to record the Amish way of life. One of the areas we must witness is in northern Indiana, called Amish Acres. Melvin also suggested we check out the Shipshewana community and Lancaster, PA as well… Unfortunately, I couldn’t find Shipshewana anywhere on our road Atlas map book.

Ah, ha!… I just Googled it! Shipshewana is within the Amish Acres area East of South Bend, Indiana. Perfect!

One of the things Amish do not like is to have their picture taken….

How the Amish Feel About Photographs

Amish Gentleman from Indianapolis

From my memory… this is not an exact likeness of Melvin nor is it a great drawing, but it gives you a general idea what the Amish men from Indiana look like.

The Amish hold humility as a highly-cherished value and view pride as a threat to community harmony. Because items such as personal photographs can accentuate individuality and call attention to one’s self, they are prohibited from the home. Moreover, the Amish believe that photographs in which they can be recognized violate the Biblical commandment, “Thou shalt not make unto thyself a graven image.” They want to be remembered by the lives they lived and the examples they left, not by physical appearance.

Just as the Amish do not carry personal photographs or display them in homes, they do not want others to take photographs of them. Many visitors to Lancaster County, find it difficult not to do so. Yet, if there is one that appears to frustrate the Amish, it is tourists attempting to take their picture. Please follow our lead in taking no photographs in which faces are recognizable. Refraining from taking photos is more than just a courtesy; it’s a respect for our Amish neighbors and their way of life.

(The above taken from

I told Mevin he looked just like Brigham Young… we had a good laugh about that! Then I said, “What if I painted your portrait, but titled it Brigham Young? Would you sit for me if I do that?” We had another good laugh! Mevin was pretty good natured and easy to talk to. Actually, my new friend looked more like Sylvester Stalone with a thick and mildly curly graying beard, beginning at his chin and ending at the mid section of his chest. Dangling out of Melvin’s traditional Amish straw hat, his thick wavy locks of air hung slightly over his ears in a modest, but not-to-stylish bowl cut. My friends nose was large and Romanesque-like, with a dominant bridge and he had a very prominent brow. His smile was genuine and he smiled easily, with a broad grin and a slight overbite. When he smiled, his bright blue eyes would light up. He had an air of confidence about himself, yet there was not even the slightest indication of pride. Melvin also displayed a quiet humility, as if he a a sure knowledge of and great reverence for someone far superior than himself and all mankind.

Once we made it to our Provo FrontRunner destination and began to board a UTA bus, I let Mevin know about the bus fare, how much it costs and where to deposit it on the bus. My friend looked surprised and said, “I just came from a Greyhound bus, but I didn’t know I had to pay another fare!” I then showed him my $7.20 all day ride ticket, good for one day, which allowed you to take the FrontRunner, the UTA bus or the TRAX (similar to an electric trolley car) system all day long. Even though Melvin and I just met, he had already gained my admiration quickly just by the way he carried himself– Yet my respect for the honesty, integrity and character of this new friend went up several more notches as I observed what he did next…

Instead of shrugging his shoulders and letting it go, he jumped out of the bus and made a jog over to the computerized ticket vending machine to make things right, squaring his unblemished honesty before himself and God. Struggling with the modernization of technology, yet not shying away from it, Melvin took several minutes in his attempt to make things right, but not getting past his lack of computer savvy. Finally, I watched a kind individual step up beside him and help him through it. Once he had his own ride pass in his hand, he made a mad dash back to our bus just in time before it pulled away. There are a few really good people in this world, Melvin is one of them.

After Melvin settled back into the seat I saved for him, I asked him where his final destination was. He said, Provo, to the downtown “Mario” Hotel. At first, when I heard the word Mario, I of course thought of the Mario Brother’s computer game and was confused. I knew there was no Mario Hotel anywhere in Utah and was humored by what he said. It then occurred to me he just mispronounced Marriott Hotel, leaving the double t’s silent. I promised to walk him to the hotel myself. He was my angel, because God put us together and gave us a sneak-peek at and a sampling of the kind of good people we will encounter on our way east. He was also my angel, because he helped me learn more about his people and the best places to find them in his state, New York and Pennsylvania. I became his angel by helping him find his hotel and convention center and I think I made him feel a little more comfortable about Utahns in general. What are the odds? I will remember this day for a long time

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