Part Five
Voyages of Discovery and Other Trips:
 The Good Old Days

At the conclusion of level two at what was now called Summit University, I was invited home for the co-op period with a fellow student and friend named L.B. who was a true blue student of the masters from Sioux City, Iowa.  She was about fifteen years older than me and had two sons who lived in Sioux City.  We found a ride from Spokane to Sioux City with someone who had been at the conference.  I took L.B. up on her invitation because I did not want to go back to my old house, job and life after level two. 

L.B.'s family were fine, middle class people.  Sioux City was a  city of about 80,000.  I thought living in a small city would be sort of an adventure.  We settled into living with Leolaís parents in their nice, older two-storey home that was a lot like my momís house.  The only job I could find was waitressing at Howard Johnsonís working odd hours.  I had done waitress work during high school and college and it was not something I relished. 

After about two weeks at Howard Johnsonís my old job at the phone company started to look real good.  Also, I found that small town living had its drawbacks.  I got on the bus one day to go to work and the bus driver knew I was staying with L.B.ís family!  I am a private person and I donít like it when strangers know my business.  So all things considered, I soon left L.B. and went home to Denver for the remainder of the co-op period.  When I got back home it was so refreshing to walk down the street in Denver and be anonymous.

By now, my intensity and fanaticism had begun to tone down a bit.  I wasnít as fanatical about diet or decrees or watching TV.  I even wore black slacks to work!

I did not contact the local group in Denver during that co-op period but I did develop a friendship with a Keeper of the Flame there by the name of Faith.  I had met her at my first conference on the Land of Lanello and she and I had shared a motel room at the Easter conference at the outset of level two at AMU/SU. 

Faith was about my age and married to a man who had no interest in the teachings.  She was torn between having a family or leaving her husband to dedicate her life totally to the masters.  She chose to stay with her husband and subsequently had some children.  Faith was very devoted to being a Keeper.  She had gotten another person interested in the teachings and we all used to get together to decree once in a while.

I was fond of Faith.  We had many long talks.  One time she told me that she had heard that when Mrs. Prophet had joined TSL she had to choose between her first marriage and joining Mark Prophet to serve the masters.  I was surprised to hear the story because in the two levels I had been at SU, Mrs. Prophet had never mentioned that she had ever been married before she met Mark Prophet.  At the time, I thought what Faith had heard was an untrue story.  Faith greatly admired Mrs. Prophet for making the choice she did. 

During that co-op period following level two at SU, I had to make a big decision.  All my life, I have always loved the military.   I was thinking of returning to school for my degree and joining ROTC.  I was approaching twenty-four years oldóthe cutoff age for ROTC.  I felt a pull to join the military.  I loved the discipline and purpose.  Anything to do with WWII fascinates me to this day.  I had to choose between TSL and the Navy.  I thought about it for several weeks.  It was a difficult choice for me.  I believed the messenger was the representative of God on earth.  What could be higher than serving her and her mission?   I chose TSL.

Today with 20/20 hindsight, if I had to choose again, I would choose the military.  Not pursuing a military career is one of the main regrets of my life.  I wonder sometimes how my life would have been different if I had taken that path.  I would have made a good naval officer. If I had taken that path, today I would have a real profession--and a pension!Öbut I am getting ahead of myself.

Level three of SU was postponed for several months.  During that time, I did not get anything from TSL except conference announcements.  I could not afford to attend conferences and also save for SU.  I was saving enough money for levels three, four and five of SU because I did not want to come home again on a co-op period.  It was too easy to fall back into my old ways.  I needed a new environment. 

I had to work hard at home to maintain my devotion schedule and sense of connection to TSL.  At one point, I wrote out a formal vows ceremony and made a pilgrimage to Cabrini Shrine outside of Denver for a private commitment ceremony.  I pledged my life and full devotion to the masters and the will of God for me. 

The Cabrini Shrine is a wonderful place in the foothills west of Denver where Mother Cabrini had touched a rock and water had gushed out.  To this day water still flows and you can fill your own bottles with as much as you want.  There is a convent, beautiful chapel and gardens and a walk up a hill with stations of the cross along the way that leads to a 33-foot statue of Christ overlooking all of the Denver metropolitan area.  At the base of the statue are a group of little rocks outlining the Sacred Heart of Jesus that Mother Cabrini herself positioned there.  It is a place of great peace and back then one of my favorite places to go.  It was a comfort to my Catholic soul.

During the co-op period, I did make a couple of journeys to LaTourelle to listen to tapes.  On one trip I heard the album from the fall conference of 1974 (Voyages of Discovery) which I had missed.  I spent the whole day in the family room listening to tapes and taking copious notes.  Marla Bray was the receptionist and she set me up with tapes.  Marla was so nice. 

When I arrived one morning at LaTourelle, the staff were in the process of doing a Pearls mailing.  There were long tables set up with all the staff stuffing envelopes and other staff filling trays to take to the post office.  It was a great flurry of activity.  I was so impressed seeing all the staff working so hard.

In November of 1974, L.B. called me from Sioux City and said she had been asked to join TSL staff in Colorado Springs as a secretary.  She was coming to Denver on the train from Iowa and wondered if she could stay over at my house for a night on her way through.  I found out from Leola that the big Summit Lighthouse summer conference in 1975 was being held in Shasta, California.  I also found out that a three-month period of staff service was a prerequisite for level three of SU.  Level three was scheduled to begin in September.

With the date set for third level to begin, I made plans to quit my job and head for three months of staff service in Colorado Springs.  I timed it to the day.  I quit my job and departed for staff.  

The day I left for Colorado Springs was a bright, sunny Saturday--Flag DayóJune 14, 1975.  It was hard to leave home because I knew I would never live there again.  My mom and sister and I had all weathered some tough times together in that house and I felt the sadness of closing that chapter in my life.  I took a late morning Greyhound bus to Colorado Springs and arrived about noon.

When I arrived at the bus station in Colorado Springs, I called LaTourelle to tell them I was at the bus station.  They knew I was coming.  K. S.  was on phone duty. 

K.S. told me that staff were out on Saturday afternoon doing errands but she would find someone who could come and get me.  I sat down to wait at the station and saw a woman whom I recognized from TSL.  I had seen her at the service at LaTourelle that my mom and I had attended just before I went to level one at SU.  The ladyís name was Mary Spelzhaus.  It took about two and a half hours for someone from the Summit to come for me and Mary and I sat and talked the whole time.

Boy, did Mary have stories to tell!  I was spellbound.  She had been in the Bridge to Freedom and maybe even the I AM movement.  (I forget all of the details now.)  She had been the roommate of one of the previous messengers from the Bridge to Freedom.  She had seen it all.  Mary rambled a bit and I didnít quite understand everything she told me.  She talked about mostly fantastical things in dictations as I recall.  

She was a faithful member.  I saw her at most public services at LaTourelle the whole time I was there and she followed the church to Pasadena when we moved there.

By and by, a staff member showed up to take me to LaTourelle.  Her name was N.R.  I liked her from the moment I saw her.  She was gracious and kind and made me feel welcome.  N.R. worked as a correspondence secretary on staff.  She took me directly to LaTourelle at 1st and Broadmoorójust one block away from the elite Broadmoor Hotel.  LaTourelle was one among many sprawling mansions in the Broadmoor district.

When N.R. and I arrived, K. S. came out to meet us.  I remembered K.S. from the conference on the Land of Lanello.  She stood out because she was so genuinely friendly and outgoing.  She did not have the impersonal intensity of so many staff.  K.S. worked in the graphics department.  She was very artistic.  K. and N. helped me move my stuff to the upstairs room where I would be staying. 

There were not many staff home at the time I arrived.  K.S. showed me into what was called the Angel Dining Room where staff had meals.  T.C. was a cook and he was there when I came in.  He greeted me in his gracious way and offered me some fruit soupóthe standard Saturday afternoon fare for staff lunch.  It was like a smoothie.  Very good and very sweet. 

I spent the rest of the afternoon unpacking my stuff.  I would be staying in what was the Montessori classroom.  It was formerly a bedroom for the Prophet children when Mark was alive and Mrs. Prophet  lived at LaTourelle before moving to Santa Barbara in 1973.  The room had a huge walk-in closet and that is where my trunk and clothes were.

As the afternoon waned, staff began to return from errands.  At dinner I met most of them as we all ate our dinner out in the big backyard.  There were about 40-45 staff members at LaTourelle at the time.   Most of them were very friendly and made me feel welcome.  After dinner it was off to the Saint Germain Service in the chapel. 

I loved the chapel at LaTourelle.  It was so warm and cozy.  Decrees at services presented problems.  Any time we did inserts for a decree or certain decrees (e.g. the Communist decrees), all of the windows had to be closed so that the neighbors would not hear us.  Each window had a screen that had to be opened to open or close the window.  At first, it wore me out to watch the screens for the windows going up and down and the windows being cranked open and closed for each insert.  After a few weeks, though,  I hardly noticed.

I retired to my room after the Saint Germain Service.  I shared the bedroom/classroom with one or two other staff members.  We all slept on pads on the floor.

Sunday morning dawned bright and beautiful.  I was excited but a little nervous.  I think we had a forty-five minute rosary (those were the days before the short rosary) at 7 a. m.  

On Sunday morning after the morning rosary, everyone went outside and circumambulated the property.  The purpose of this ritual was to anchor a spiral of the resurrection flame.  In April of 1971, Omega had established LaTourelle as an official retreat of the Great White Brotherhood.  The resurrection flame was anchored there and LaTourelle was designated the Retreat of the Resurrection Spiral.  All of the staff were required to wear all white for Sunday services.  It was quite a sight to see all of us walking around the property in our white "Sunday duds."  The neighbors got an eye-full.

After our circumambulation, we had breakfast.  I was too shy to interact with staff so I hid in the closet in my room during breakfast.  <G> I was glad I had my own private cloister to retreat to. 

Next came the Sunday service which consisted of a lot of decrees and a taped dictation.  Mrs. Prophet was not at LaTourelle when I first got there.  She resided in Santa Barbara at that time.

Following the service we had lunch.  If there were no big projects in progress, the staff had about two and half hours free time on Sunday afternoon.  If there was work to be done, everyone returned to their jobs.  

Sunday evening, the staff were supposed to attend another service that was open to the public.  A lecture from Mark Prophet was played and I think a dictation.  It was always geared to new people.  I noticed that not many staff were at the service, esp. when big projects were in the works.

That first weekend I was there, everyone was working feverishly getting ready for the Shasta conference.  I think some of the staff worked during the Sunday morning service (which was abbreviated so we could all get to work) but I attended the morning service that day and then reported for work after lunch.  

I was assigned to work in the shop with J. W.  J. was a nice guy and like everyone else was a hard worker.  He was prepping the school buses that would carry the staff to Mt. Shasta for the conference.  I think there were two buses.  I helped J. do some painting and I also cleaned the buses.  I painted the name "Ich Dien" (I Serve) on the front of one of them.  I had not brought any old clothes with me but by the time I finished painting I had some "old clothes." 

I was also assigned to work part of the day in the bindery under Peter Arnone.  We were collating Climb the Highest Mountain as well as advertising material for the Shasta conference.  Peter was a good boss.  He was always very energetic and efficient.  I liked Peter.  I recognized his genuine devotion.  We had both been raised Catholics.  I felt like he was a brother.  Peter was getting married at the Shasta conference.

Kitchen duty was also one of my daily duties.  While I worked in the kitchen, I got to be good friends with M.B.  We went for walks and ice cream cones to the Broadmoor in the evenings a few times.  M. is a dear and devoted soul.  She was a cook and shared running the kitchen with T. C.  She mentioned to me that she would love to paint the kitchen but it was impossible having to serve three meals a day to staff every day of the week.

Florence and Tom Miller were in charge of LaTourelle in the absence of the messenger.  I was fond of Tom and Florence from the very beginning.  I had first met Florence at the registration table on the Land of Lanello at my first conference.  When I first saw her, I felt as though I had known her before.  I remembered Tom from his leading decrees at that first conference.  Florence had a great sense of humor and Tom is a sweet and very pure soul.  I still hold Tom and Florence in very high regard.  They were a cute couple.  Tom had a way of talking too long at staff meetings and Florence would give him a look and he would end his dissertation in short order.

A few days afer I started work on staff, Florence found out I had phone company experience.  Within fifteen minutes I was being trained for phone duty.  The receptionist, M. B., was also going to be married to G. S. at the Shasta conference and she needed time off for wedding preparations.  After that, I didnít see much of the shop, bindery or kitchen duty.  I was locked into phone duty most of the time.

I was required to pay room and board for my three months of staff service.  I remember thinking when I paid it that it seemed as though I was paying for working.  I did not mind paying it, though, because I considered it a privilege to work on staff. 

Florence made it clear to me that I was not a staff member but an SU student.  She told me that I would have to find my own transportation to the conference at Mt. Shasta because the buses were reserved for staff.  She said she could not guarantee me a space on the bus.  I did not mind.  (The ride from Santa Barbara on a school bus through the desert was still fresh in my memory.)  

I started to look for a ride to the conference.  I got to be friends with a local Keeper who came to services regularly.  I mentioned to her that I needed a ride to Shasta and she graciously offered me a ride in her van.

T. C. got wind of my having a ride in a van to the conference and he wanted to go, too.  It was fine with me and the Keeper.  

A few days before the conference was to begin, the staff shipped out on the school buses.  I remember Peter Arnone drove Ich Dien.  A skeleton crew of four staff members was left at LaTourelleóA. and M. R., T. S. and K. F., a new mother.  T.C. and I didnít have to leave for a couple of more days. 

After the staff were gone, I was on phone duty one night and during the night I got a phone call from a Keeper who was traveling from somewhere near St. Louis to the Shasta conference.  She was going through Denver and wanted to know if there were any Keepers in Denver who would help her drive to Shasta.

Knowing that we would be going through Denver on our way to Shasta in the van, I volunteered to help her drive.  I told her that my mom lived in Denver and she could pick me up at my momís house.  The Keeper was delighted.  

I had T.C. and the Keeper drop me off at my momís house on their way through Denver.  I took several boxes of material advertising the Shasta conference to distribute on the way to the conference.  I stayed at my momís house and waited for several days for the Keeper to call.  She never did.

Since I had all of the advertising material I felt like I should distribute it so me and my mom drove north through Colorado distributing it where ever we could.

I wasnít terribly disappointed the Keeper never called.  It was nice to be home again and not have to get up at 6 a.m. for the rosary and decrees.  

I knew I had to return to LaTourelle soon to fulfill my three month requirement for SU so after a few days of being AWOL I had my mom drive me to LaTourelle and leave me there.  

I had a terrible sinking feeling in my gut as one of the staff members opened the gate for us to drive into the property at LaTourelle.  This particular staff member had a peculiar way of staring that spooked me.  I thought he might be a robot.  

It was difficult to watch my mom drive away and leave me there alone.  I went to the chapel and told El Morya he was going to have to help me through this and give me the vision because I did NOT want to be there. 

The conference was still in progress.  While the staff were gone, we didnít have any formal services that I recall.  We did play the Jesus Watch tape on Wednesday afternoon but we did not have formal decree sessions much, if at all, and no other services that I can remember.  The staff were not due to return from the conference for a few days.  

I had a brilliant ideaóI could paint the kitchen.  I consulted with Alex and Margaret and they agreed it was a good idea.  I threw myself into the task.  Alex was the official staff decorating expert that Mrs. Prophet consulted.  He decided on the coloróa light yellow--and I went to work day and night to get it done by the time the staff returned.

One night we heard the alarm go off in the print shop out by the back gate.  We went to see what happened but everything seemed in order.  

The next day, T. S. was nowhere to be found.  He had disappeared.  After searching, we found a note on his typewriter in the shipping department.  It read simply, "Gone to Tahiti."  The alarm we had heard was T.S. putting his gear in the print shop to make his getaway.  He actually did go to Tahiti. 

T.S. was very youngóaround 18 or so.  Not much was said about his leaving.  A few weeks later, Mrs. Prophet said that Lanello (Mr. Prophet's ascended name) had told her that he wanted T.S. to leave staff and go to school.  T.S. left before she had delivered Lanelloís message.  Eventually, T.S. did join either the military or merchant marine (I forget which).  He was a fine young man.  

In a strange sort of way, I admired T.S. for doing what he did.  I was too conservative to ever do something like that.

After multiple delays because of breakdowns of the buses on the road, the staff finally returned to LaTourelle.  Several SU students arrived to fulfill their required staff service for level three. Some of the third-level SU students had already fulfilled their three months and left before I got there.  Also, I think some were serving on staff in Santa Barbara and at the Idaho property.

Shortly after she got off the bus that had returned from Shasta, Florence mentioned the services we had held at LaTourelle while the staff had been away to M. R.  It was an awkward moment.  I wondered what M.R. would say.  She kind of shrugged off the topic and didnít say much.  I didnít say anything, either.  (It was fine with me that we had all had a vacation from services while the staff were away.)  Florence didnít press the issue.

After the staff returned, we settled into a more normal routine.  Morning rosary and decrees began at 6 a. m. Breakfast and work followed.  Lunch, noon decrees, work, dinner, work, evening Astreas or service and bed.  That was the daily routine.  

On Saturday morning, staff attended the Kuan Yin Jubilee Service for the youth of the world.  It was one of my favorite services.  Then we went to work until lunch.  Staff were allowed to go on personal errands after lunch and had to return by dinner and attend the Saint Germain Service on Saturday night.  I already outlined the Sunday routine earlier. 

I have some fond memories of Sunday afternoons at LaTourelle.  Tom and Florence Miller would stand at the front gate like dad and mom telling us to be careful as they saw all the staff off to our two and half hours of recreation.  

I relished those free times.  A favorite place for staff to go was a spot in the mountains that supposedly was close to God Taborís retreat.  We would hike and enjoy the forest.  Our time was always too short to really do much of a hike but I loved going to the mountains. 

At one point during that summer, for some reason (I do not remember why) I had to move out of the Montessori classroom.  I remember Florence sitting in the little phone nook off the kitchen pondering where I could sleep.  She decided on a filing room where Emilie Chisko worked.  It was a very narrow and little room on the second floor that had a small closet and a window.  It was too small for more than one person to sleep in so I had a private bedroom.  I moved my clothes and pad into the closet and spent the rest of the summer sleeping there.  I was in seventh heaven.  I had found my nunís cell at last.

There were things about staff life that surprised me.  For instance, I was horrified at the staff laundry room.  L. W. tried in vain to keep it neat and clean. (Bless her heart.) There was a huge sign on the wall: "Cleanliness is next to godliness."  It didnít seem to help.  

It was risky to wash your clothes there.  I washed some of my good shirts and ended up with car grease all over them.  There was no other alternative, though.  Also, your laundry might disappear from there and never be seen again.  I was careful not to put all my eggs in one basket (i.e. all my underwear in one load) because you could really be up a creek if all your underwear disappeared from the laundry room.  If it happened on Monday you would have to wait until Saturday to have a chance to buy more.

There was always a huge pile of what was called "Mother Mary's give-away" clothes in the laundry room.  (I donít think there was much underwear in it, though. <G>) I could never figure out where all that stuff came from.  This was true of my whole tenure on staff.  I rarely recognized any of the clothes in the give-away as something I had seen previously on a staff member.  Itís one of those mysteries that I never was able to solve.

Another surprise for me was seeing both men and women walking down the hall in their bathrobe.  (Alone, not together. <G>)  There were only two or three bathrooms with showers in the house so you had to fit your daily ablutions in whenever you could during your schedule.  

Staff would leave their towels to dry in the bathrooms for the most part.  Mine disappeared once but several days later it reappeared.  I took it back and kept it in my room after that.

Staff were supposed to fast on water on Thursdays.  It was expected that SU students would fast with staff. Those who could not fast for some reason were served leftovers.  Sometimes the leftovers were very unappealing.  When I worked in the kitchen,  M.B. said the staff would eat anything with cheese on it.  So often we put cheese on leftovers and heated them up.  

Of all the properties the Summit owned while I was on staff, LaTourelle was bar none my favorite.  No other property was quite like it.  It was a truly beautiful building with lots of surrounding grounds in a gorgeous area at the foot of Pike's Peak.  I had favorite places there.  One was the bottom of the stairs in a great rotunda that had a spiral staircase going up to the second floor.  Halfway up the staircase was a mini-balcony that had a door and flower box.  I used to love to look up and see the flowers blooming from the bottom of the stairs.

Another favorite place of mine was a secret, underground passageway that led from the main house to the gatehouse out back.  We called it The Tunnel.  You had to crouch down to move through it.  It was the one place staff could go to really let loose with fiats and decrees.  I used to love to do my decrees there. About halfway through The Tunnel was a little kid chair where you sat to do your decrees.  There was a picture of planet earth from space on the wall.

Today as I write, I look back on that era with a certain fondness and nostalgia.  I was innocent and dedicated in my service to the masters and messengers.  I lost myself in my duty to a higher purpose.  All of the staff were so dedicated and sincere.  There was a genuine camaraderie in our common dedication to serving the cause of the Great White Brotherhood.  

It was pretty much a level playing field among staff as I perceived it at that time.  (Of course, I was only an SU student then and not part of the inner workings.)  As far as I could tell, those with money did not receive any special treatment.  I did not detect an elitist/aristocratic consciousness of any kind at that time among the staff at LaTourelle when I first arrived there.  

In my opinion, Tom and Florence Miller were shining examples of humble staff doing a job.  They did not consider themselves superior to anyone.  It wasnít until the messenger and some of those who worked around her directly  began to arrive on the scene at LaTourelle that things changedófor the worse, I might add.
 

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