Thursday, July 10, 2008


My sister, Shirley Thompson Hardman, along with her husband, Reg, have compiled and published a book of faith-promoting stories, entitled "Faith from Down Under - 200 Australian Stories of Faith."

Shirley was raised in America, but as a young mother she willingly uprooted to settle in Australia. Her story, #67 in their book, is an inspiring account of faith and family, and closely parallels my cause to create a new musical program entitled, "A Great and Marvelous Work."

Shirley publishes her story in 2008 It hurt our family when Shirley left, but great and marvelous works have taken place in the lives of two very close sisters who separated 37 years ago. Shirley states: "I left all my loved ones behind and was going on an adventure to a land far way. I was determined to be cheerful while following my husband to 'wherever,' a commitment I had made as a nineteen-year-old bride."

Our sisters' story begins when we were little girls, having been born into a noble family that embraced the teachings of the LDS Church for many generations. Ours was a happy childhood.

The Thompson Family 1949, with Kaye Starr (L) and Shirley in front

Shirley & Kaye Starr Thompson, 1951. We were the best of playmates, and felt very loved by our parents and three older brothers. Mama loved to wave our hair, and even made our dresses seen in the picture below. It's important to me that you, the reader, understand the loving bond that we had developed as little girls.

Shirley and Kaye Starr, 1953, holding our rabbits on our farm. Our parents sang duets, and on Sundays our family would harmonize in the car while riding many miles to and from church. We also offered rides to non-members, which gave us many memories of happy friends.

1956: Kent, Shirley, Kaye Starr, Daddy (Karl R. Thompson), Gale, Glenda, Mama (Maudie Mae Hull Thompson). We were all elated when our little sister, Glenda, was born in Santa Cruz, California. At the time, I was ten years old and Shirley, eight. Roger, our oldest brother (not shown), was at BYU in Provo, Utah. Glenda gave our family much pleasure and fulfillment, since we had lost a baby sister the year before Glenda was born.

These were happy times, yet hard times for our family. Kent had contracted a kidney disease, and Daddy was blinded soon after this picture. As a family, we fasted and prayed for better health and improved finances. In the process of seeking help from our Heavenly Father, we drew even closer together. This is a very important factor as I explain the loving bond that existed in our family.

1960: Shirley, age 14 and Kaye Starr, nearly 16. Our parents sacrificed so that all of us kids could take music lessons. Through the years we were sought after in church because of our piano, singing and acting skills. Shirley also played the violin. Music and church activity played an integral part in our family heritage on both sides of the family.Karl Kent Thompson, 1961. Another time of sorrow came when our brother, Kent, died in 1962 because of his kidney disease, which brought our family even closer to the Lord, as well as closer together. Mama (Maudie Mae Thompson), Shirley, Joan Redzich (fiance of our brother, Roger), and Kaye Starr, 1963. We continued to be very active in missionary work, parties and friends.

Shirley Thompson and Edward Reginald Fuller Hardman. In 1965, Shirley married Reg, a returned missionary from Brisbane, Australia, who had been called to the Northern California Mission (1961-1963), where they met and worked in the missionary programs.
They fell madly in love and married in the Oakland Temple.
Six years later, Shirley, with two infant daughters, arrived as Australian immigrants in Brisbane, 1971. She was called to many positions of church leadership, as can be seen in this 1992 photo: Shirley (in blue), Brisbane Stake Relief Society President.
Karl and Maudie Mae Thompson visit Shirley, Reg and family, 1976. Many visits were made, one way or the other, so that Shirley could stay close to her family. Kaye Starr, Glenda Thompson Hicks, Shirley, Mama, Daddy, 1987, two months before Daddy died. Shirley was active as the Stake Music Chairman in 1988, and was called to direct a very large regional choir.
Sonja (the oldest daughter of the Hardman's), Shirley Thompson Hardman, Maudie Mae Thompson, 1988, before the Messiah concert, which Shirley directed. Mama was able to make the trip, and also helped Shirley many times when she had her babies.
Meanwhile, back in Utah, I was busy with my family duties and was also composing music. I formed a choir called "Promise," pictured here in 1992. These singers were loving volunteers who desired to promote the Book of Mormon through my music.

It's important to understand that within the story of Shirley's growth and development far away from her family, I was growing, too, and started to create music in Utah that would eventually complement her Australian efforts.
2002 Shirley visits Kaye Starr and Glenda in Utah: We truly love and understand each other, and we three sisters have so much fun when we're together!
Later in 2005, Shirley and Reg Hardman were called by the LDS Church to become service missionaries to gather faith-promoting stories throughout the Australian continent.
The Hardmans travelled 21,000 miles (35,000 kilometres) and interviewed hundreds of people on their mission. Their book is awe-inspiring, and contains stories about people from very remote areas of the world who remarkably found the gospel of Jesus Christ.

The Hardman Family have resided in Brisbane, Australia over the last 37 years where they have raised six children and are the grandparents to 19+.

While on their mission in 2006, they made their way to Salt Lake City for a couple weeks to review some historical records. We were very happy to see them again. Shown is (Standing in back): Shirley, Mama, (Front): Kaye Starr and Glenda.
Mama, Shirley, Pam Hardman Hansen (Reg's sister living in Utah), Kaye Starr. We, sisters and mother, were very happy to get together to chat and relax. Yummy, what fun!
Stories #87, #100, #50. #95, #116 were written by Alex and Irene Boulton, pioneers from Australia. Here they are seen visiting the Hardman's in 2006 while the Boulton's were living in their home located in Ogden, Utah. I, also, had the privilege to personally hear their stories, which are very inspiring!
The turning point of this amazing sisters' story takes place when Shirley and Reg met some folks from Southern Australia, shown below. (Left): Murray and Cynthia Hull, Shirley Hardman and Robert (a Hull relative). Shirley learned something incredible about our ancestry: we have a direct relative who also relocated to Australia...a young LDS pioneer who moved there in 1851! His name was Adam Hull, our great-grandfather's brother, and he has descendants living all over the country, but mostly in South Australia. Shirley was very pleased to learn that her family tree had roots in two continents!
She relates: "There's a peculiar story about Murray Hull, one of Adam Hull's great-grandsons. In 1977, while living in Perth, he was awakened in the wee hours of the morning and saw a terrifying vision of an old lady. For some reason, the dream caused his heart to research his family tree. Several years went by and, while visiting relatives on a genealogy trip to the States, Murray saw an old lady's picture on the wall of a museum in Idaho. Abruptly, with shock and surprise, he declared the lady depicted was the same old woman who had terrified him in his dream!" Her name was Mary Benson Hull.

A very scary-looking Mary Benson Hull, common ancestor of Murray Hull and Shirley Hardman. Linking their family histories, it was proved that Shirley and Murray were distant cousins.

Shirley and I believe that there were special reasons for Murray's unusual dream of the old woman. We feel that perhaps his dream has something to do with the importance of researching our kindred dead. Shirley concludes: "Murray has since given us many family names for temple work. Even though there is a wide ocean between distant Hull cousins, the powers of the priesthood are now bridging our families together."

The Hardman's New Book:
It's no wonder that the Hardman's chose a picture of the Brisbane Temple to grace the cover of their new book. It is here, in one of five temples in Australia, and over 120 in the world, that through the powers of the holy priesthood, family members are sealed together forever.

Shirley's profound account of finding our Hull relatives on the other side of the earth prompted me to connect my music to those stories of faithful Australian pioneers.

The cover page of my program, "A Great and Marvelous Work," using 10 stories from Reg and Shirley's book, is shown below. Please click on the picture and read what it contains.

The song I chose to illustrate the importance of Family History Research, so beautifully exemplified by Murray and Cythia Hull, is entitled, "We'll Sing a Song for Them."

How can I explain it? I now appreciate, in a more profound way, the importance of Shirley's move to Australia and her life's mission over there. I've been able to connect with many of her friends and associates, and they are blessing my life, also. Oh, Shirley and Reg, our whole family is very happy with your accomplishments, and we're still so very close!

Thompson Family Reunion 2007: Roger, Glenda, Shirley, Kaye Starr, Gale, with Maudie Mae and Jim Bradley in front.

When Shirley comes, we just pick up where we left off...usually in the middle of a sentence...and can chat and giggle all night! Isn't life fun...and interesting! To be continued...

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

"VOICES FROM THE DUST"...our 2008 presentation

The talk which is printed here, spoken by President Ezra Taft Benson at General Conference in October 1998, is the talk that had a great influence on my life. He said that he had a vision of artists putting into words, music and pictures the great characters and themes of the Book of Mormon. He didn't know, but I had already begun. Please click to enlarge and read this wonderful talk. It may change your perspective about the Book of Mormon, like it did mine. These pages are from my journal. I included the testimony of Christopher Columbus, also in my writings, to help illustrate my feelings about why I started writing the music.
"Voices from the Dust" was finally written in 2006, and received a special award from the Church. I created this work to emphasize the importance of "the great characters and themes from the Book of Mormon" as defined by the prophet in 1988.
I asked Linda Sisneros, my friend and artist from Syracuse, Utah, to create this picture which shows that music can, indeed, come from the Book of Mormon. I've felt it, I know it, and I've done it.
This cover letter gives the central theme, synopsis and song list of the program, "Voices from the Dust."

The next two pages give the copyrighted song texts of the music.
page 2
THE KAYE STARR SINGERS, program specialists since 2000.
Top row L-R: Mike Burdett, Andria Tupola, Kent Petersen, Chris Castro, Jared Midgley
Middle row: Suzanne Horne, Krista Fisher, Craig Morris, Kathi Nickell, Shauna Morris
1st row: Cindy Bingham, Jason Bingham, Kaye Starr Heninger, Peter Danzig, Venice Williams Here I am. These pictures were artfully donated by Jim Winborg. Thank you, Jim!
Excerpts from my copyrighted script, "Voices from the Dust."
(The pictures used are from a purchased calendar. Please note that the artists are named. Thank you!)
We'd like to tell you about some of the great priciples taught from the Book of Mormon, and introduce you to some of the people that lived and died in that ancient world.
We'll begin with Father Lehi, who was a man of considerable means and great reputation in Jerusalem. While journeying through the Arabian wilderness, the prophet Lehi, a visionary man, had a dream in which he beheld the Tree of Life. He tasted of its sweet, white fruit, and it filled his soul with such exceeeding joy that he wanted his family to taste it as well.
What was that fruit? It was the pure love of Jesus Christ. The impact of that symbolic fruit remains as fresh and delicious for us today as it did to that tiny band of uprooted Israelites.
It is seldom we find a character in the history of the ancient world that was as faithful and righteous as that of Nephi. He delighted in the things of the Lord, but sorrowed in the weakness of his own flesh. He wrote, in beautiful prose, what is now known as "The Psalm of Nephi."
Years later in the Promised Land, the people of Nephi were called to go to the temple to hear the last words from their dying prophet, the great King Benjamin. Within his speech, King Benjamin addressed the cause of families...
Some of the most precious gospel teachings come from Abinadi, a prophet who was condemned to death and burned at the stake. In the face of seething anger and hatred, Abinadi's countenance shone with luster as he spoke to the wicked priests with power and authority from God,...
Alma the Elder, one of King Noah's Priests, repented from his sins and hid in the borders of the wilderness at a place called Mormon where there were thickets of small trees and fountains of pure water. Here in the midst of this verdant valley, and by the side of the inviting streams, Alma proclaimed the principles of everlasting life and baptized everyone that went forth...
Alma the Younger was a wicked and idolatrous man, taking pleasure in evil-doing. He, along with the four sons of the honorable King Mosiah, ridiculed and persecuted the saints and did great damage to the cause of the church. Their fathers prayed with much faith concerning their sons, and in answer to their prayers, an angel suddenly appeared before the young men, causing a terrible earth quake, terrifying the young men as they collapsed to the ground...
Ammon was one of the greatest, most endearing characters of Nephite history. His desire to serve the Lamanite King, Lamoni, led him to join the king's servants in protecting their flocks. When Lamoni heard of his miraculous service, he thought that Ammon must be the "Great Spirit," and believed all his words...
These inspiring stories are beautifully spoken by our artful narrator, Grant Barton, seated here with his wife, Sheri, after our presentation for an Ogden Temple group who celebrated at Maddox's in Brigham City, Utah.
Darin and Joyce Anderson. Joyce is our expert program accompanist, and also one of my talented daughters.
Suzanne Horne and Krista Fisher. Suzanne serves as our Secretary/Treasure and Krista is our Contact/Public Relations Specialist.
Dave Petersen, Dave Burdett, Kim Waite and Kent Petersen, father of Dave, who engineered our sound. Thanks, Dave! We couldn't have done it without you!
Kent sang the words of the great king, father of King Lamoni. Kim sang Queen Lamoni's words.
Chris Castro, soloist for "Cry in Your Wilderness," uses words from Alma 33 & 34. She serves as my Assistant Director and is my "right-hand man" in all that we do.