If You're New to this Blog...

It's been a wild ride since we left Jerusalem. If you're new here, I'd recommend starting at the beginning with the First Post. Otherwise, new posts are below.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Last Post. I'm Done.

Mom passed away this morning. With her and Laman gone (along with Hoshea being recently killed by one of tribes we are planning to raid), there’s a lot more responsibility on my shoulders to lead the family and take care of the widows. I feel like the marriage relationships in our family are generally stronger and healthier than what I remember the Jews having when we lived there. So I think that adds to the pain that Ashtaroth and Zilpah are experiencing. Then for Ziplah, add on the fact that the man who killed her husband is now in charge of the family, and you can see just how difficult this whole situation is.

If there’s one thing Mom and Dad taught me, it was how a husband and wife are to love one another. I know I haven’t blogged much about their relationship, I’ve probably been more focused on all the negative crap going down. But in the background of all this crap, it was always clear to me that Mom and Dad had the sort of marriage everyone should strive for. Their relationship is the ideal I hope to see reflected in all the relationships within our family—the Lamanites.

This will be my last blog post. I’m going to need more time now to focus on the responsibilities of leading our family, and healing the wounds in our relationships. One of our native friends thinks he spotted Nephi’s camp a couple days ago, and so on top of eking out a living here in this wilderness, we need to be prepared to defend ourselves against Nephi’s traitorous ambitions.

I wish I was sending this blog out on a more positive note, but I have no such peppy messages to offer. Life can be filled with sorrow, and sometimes there’s no balm in Gilead. I hope that sharing our story allows you to be wiser than we were. I’ll probably compile this blog into a book or ebook and I’ll let you know when that’s available.

(I don’t want to make any money off this, so I’ll probably just self-publish the book at cost. Unfortunately, I’ve heard sometimes Amazon forces you to sell the book at above cost. If that’s the case I’ll just find a charity to donate any revenue to.)

Man, I hate Nephi.

If it weren’t for him and Dad, we wouldn’t be in this situation. I’ve been the good guy all along, and look at the fruits.

Pray for us. Adieu.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Tragedy

I don’t even know how to start this blogpost. We’ve experienced tragedy to the point that my usual slightly snarky tone is now massively inappropriate. Two nights ago, Laman and I were trying to talk to Mom, and she opened her mouth and actually spoke to Laman for the first time in weeks. But it wasn’t helpful. She chewed him out as thoroughly as Dad ever did. She told him it was his own fault that Nephi had left, and that Nephi was never a threat to anyone. That Laman and I had cut ourselves off from God on our own account by driving Nephi away.

What happened next is all a blur, and I’m still trying to put it all together because it happened so fast. I remember Laman actually hitting Mom. Hard. She was sitting up in her bed, and it knocked her down. He attempted a second swing, but I jumped on him to stop him. I was behind him so when I intervened, I jumped onto his back and put him in a chokehold to restrain him. He struggled at the chokehold for only a couple of seconds before he lost consciousness and fell to the floor (I didn’t know cutting off someone's breathing could drop them that fast). But when he hit the ground and I released the hold, he didn’t start breathing again. I couldn’t get him to respond, and my brother died right there in my arms.

The family didn’t expel me because when they saw mom’s broken jaw, they knew I was only trying to defend her. But that’s no comfort to Zilpah and her children who are now left without a husband and father. Trying to process all of this has been more than I can handle. I don’t know how to put into words everything going on in my mind. It’s just that, you know, I didn’t even really want to kill Nephi, who was an actual threat that might’ve required it. I can’t believe the brother whose life I took was Laman. Laman has been trying to protect our family from the moment this whole craziness started. How is he the one that deserves to die? How is it even possible that I killed him? I only had him in the hold for a couple seconds?

Then to top it all off, Mom is far too old to recover from a broken jaw and a ripped apart family. She likely has only a few days left. I don’t know if I’m going to be able to keep blogging about this. At first, it was therapeutic for dealing with the stupidity of our situation. But our situation has moved from stupidity and craziness to misery and tragedy.

Monday, May 22, 2017

Laman and Mom Problems

We’ve conducted two more searches for Nephi since I last wrote. Laman is getting increasingly frustrated with our failure to find him. He is more convinced than I am that Nephi intends to attack at some point. We don’t want to give him that opportunity, so we’re trying to make sure we find him first.

Mom insists she doesn’t know where Nephi is, and Laman’s paranoia is creating a real rift between the two of them. Mom won’t even speak to Laman anymore, and all he does is yell at her for not letting him know that Nephi was planning to bolt. I think it’s obvious why she didn’t say anything. While she tried to keep harmony, she generally sympathized more with Nephi, and had her health allowed, I’m sure she would’ve left with him. Laman knows that too, and for that reason, he worries that Mom might betray him.

Yesterday, during one of their one-sided “discussions," he even clenched his fist and started to raise his arm. But I caught his attention with a “dude, better cool off” stare, and he relaxed, and just walked away mumbling about why he even tries since there’s no reasoning with a traitor. So as I was saying in the last post, Laman is growing as he takes on the leadership role, but his own demons are exacerbating his weaknesses and causing this division with mom. Her health isn’t great, so I don’t think Laman needs to be so concerned with her. Let her live out her last days in peace. Then we can turn over a new leaf of pragmatism in the family.

Old age should be like this picture—a peaceful place to reflect on
the peaks and valleys of life.

On a somewhat related note, with all the search parties during spring planting season, I’m worried our crop this year might not be sufficient for the growing family. Laman said he has plans to “supplement” our food by raiding the camps of one of the native tribes that recently attacked our native friends. There aren’t as many of us in our group, but we have way better weapons, so we shouldn’t face much of a threat. I’d prefer we were a little more self-sufficient, but this plan allows us to deal with the threat of Nephi and help our friends deal with the threat to their survival. So I guess it’s the best possible option, but I don't like it.

Friday, May 19, 2017

O Brother, Where Art Thou?

We got back from searching for Nephi yesterday. We spent nearly a week looking for him, but a couple days ago, Laman decided it was enough, and we started to head back. You would think a bunch of people with their herds, kids, tents, etc. would be easy to track, but we totally lost their trail within a couple hours of searching for them on the first day. Their trail seemed to lead right into a mountain and stop at its base. I wasn’t very familiar with that area, so I guess I’m remembering wrong, but I swear there wasn’t even a mountain there when we were hunting in that area last year. And our native friends were really confused by the mountain too, so maybe it’s not just me. Anyway, this threw a major wrench into the whole process, as we now had no idea which way to go.

Laman was saying we need to “think like Nephi” to figure out where he went, but that’s not exactly an easy task. For all we know he built another boat and sailed off to someplace else. I’m only half kidding.

On the way back to camp we were hungry, and Laman managed to shoot a mountain lion. I was initially hesitant about eating it because it’s not clean. Laman pointed out though that the Law of Moses was a covenant given to the Israelites that was attached to their inheritance of the land of Canaan. Therefore, it provided a law regarding the animals of that land. But if we want to survive in this new land, we must receive the spirit of the land from those who know it best—its wildlife. We cooked and ate most of the mountain lion, but Laman left a small part uncooked that we then ate. He said that just as God had allowed us to survive on raw meat in the wilderness to protect us from the consequences of Dad's actions, we would continue to show our remembrance of God's protection by this token.

Laman isn’t normally the type to get too religious, so it was good to see him open up a bit more to the things of God. I see the mantle of leadership falling on him as he ponders not just the physical, but also the spiritual welfare of our family.

Anyway, we’re going to strengthen our defenses to ensure we’re prepared for any future raids Nephi might conduct against the family. He’s chosen to break off and no doubt views us as threats to his claims of authority. He’s stolen the brass plates, which we too risked our lives to acquire. I’m sad he’s chosen this road. Now Nephi is a brother by blood only, not by any real relation.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Gone Girl(s and Boys)

This isn’t going to be a very long post. Just wanted to update you. We woke up this morning to find Nephi, Sam, Jacob, Joseph, Zoram, their families, and Tamar and Ephrath had all disappeared. Their tents, flocks, and food were all gone. Mom is still with us, but her health is bad, and she’s not taking kindly to Laman’s interrogation regarding Nephi’s whereabouts. While in there, I noticed the brass plates were gone, so Mom must have known that Nephi was going and gave them to him. I didn’t mention that to Laman because I didn’t want to send him over the edge. Laman, Ahijah and I are headed out shortly to track them down. We’re taking some of the natives we’ve befriended with us because they’re more familiar with the land. We’re leaving Hoshea in charge of the family.

On a weird note, I woke up really late this morning. I felt like I'd been asleep forever. The sun was high in the sky, and I was surprised I didn't see anyone else up yet. So our search party is getting a later start than we should. We didn’t drink any wine last night, so I have no idea why we were all out for so long. Unless Nephi slipped something into our dinner… But the families each had dinner in their own tents last night, so no idea what’s up with that.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Clear and Present Danger

It’s been almost a month now since Dad passed away. There’s a lot of tension right now in the family. Laman has assumed the mantle of leading the family, but Nephi, Sam, and Mom seem unaccepting of that fact. I feel like overall, Laman is doing his best for the group. He’s not prone to the whimsical “visions” that lead to suffering the way Dad was. He can be harsh, but it’s generally in trying to keep Nephi from leading everyone off on whatever foolish misadventure he’s conjured up. Mom has really been keeping the tension manageable up until now. Laman and Nephi both respect her, and so I think she’s the real force that has kept this group together.

But I’m worried things are going to get worse, and Mom’s limited in what she’ll be able to do. Yesterday, Nephi and Laman got into a huge argument. Nephi has been working on gathering gold, silver, and copper in order to make some tumbaga plates and start writing his own scriptures. Laman however thinks that Nephi should be working to provide more for the family. Of course, wrapped up in this whole argument is the subtext of who is really in charge. It ended with Nephi reminding Laman what the angel told us years ago outside of Jerusalem—Nephi would rule because Laman and I were wicked. Laman didn’t have a good retort for that, but you could see the anger boiling inside of him. The next day, Laman and I were out hunting and I was trying to calm him down a bit about Nephi, when we had the following conversation.

Me: Honestly, I think we’d be better off if we ignored him more. You’re the eldest, you have the right to rule, so just rule. As long as the family follows you, let Nephi do what he wants.

Laman: Lemuel, I don’t think you see what’s really going on here. Why did Nephi kill Laban?

Me: He said God told him that it’s better for a wicked person to die than for our posterity to fall into apostasy.

Laman: Now, think about your interactions with Nephi. How does he view you and me?

Me: …as wicked people who…might lead our family into apostasy...

Laman: So you see, in Nephi’s mind, he would be justified in killing you and me.

Me: You’re being paranoid. Nephi wouldn’t kill us!

Laman: Did you think he’d kill Laban?! He didn’t have to. He could’ve just taken his clothes, grabbed the plates, and we’d have been gone before Laban woke up. Ishmael died as a result of his actions too. And he abducted Zoram for no reason. Think about it, he didn’t have to bring Zoram out to meet us, did he? Why did he do it? Nephi’s lust for power knows no bounds, and he saw an opportunity to pick up a servant while demonstrating his superior obedience to Dad. The fact is with Dad gone now, Nephi’s going to make his move. If you want your wife left as a widow and your children without a father, keep your head in the sand. But I have a responsibility as a father to protect my family, even if you want to evade yours.

Me: uhhh...

Laman: Of course, your wife probably won’t be a widow for long. I’ve heard Nephi’s quietly preaching something to “the righteous” about adoption into the family of God, and “sealing" other women to himself. I think that basically means he’s marrying them. So I guess your wife could join his harem, and she’d be alright.

Me [trying to stay calm]: Now you’re just being a jerk. Look, Nephi’s loves power, but he wouldn’t go that far.

Laman: The kid keeps surprising us, Lemuel! I don’t want the next surprise to be fatal! I’m done talking to you about this; take some time to really think about it. Think about your family. Isn’t it your job to protect them?

I hate to say it but Laman kind of has a point here. With Dad gone, Nephi is a real threat to Laman and me. This is the sort of thing that’s littered throughout the books of the kings—brothers killing brothers to secure their rule. I don’t know what to do. Nephi’s my own brother, but I’m worried he might not value my life the same way I value his. With Laman, I at least know that he has the family’s welfare at heart. I hate this situation. There are just no good choices right now.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Which Dad Do I Remember?

Dad passed away yesterday. Right now we’re busy with the burial ceremonies, so I won’t have a ton of time to write.

This whole thing is really weird for me; I have a lot of mixed feelings. Most of growing up, Dad was amazing. He was this tough dude that would go out on the dangerous caravan trading routes and bring home riches. He was always kind to me too. I really looked up to him. Then he started listening to those weird apostates like Jeremiah who were attacking our religion and God’s chosen leaders. Once he joined that clique, he only ever seemed to be disappointed with me.

And then for the last twelve years, he’s brought nothing but increasing hardship on our family. And he thinks I’m the problem! He was warned in a vision that Jerusalem was going to be destroyed, and then once we get to this new land, he’s also informed via a vision that Jerusalem was destroyed. He offered that as proof that he did the right thing in destroying so much of what our family had worked to build. But if his first vision was crazy (or possibly a deception by evil spirits who tempt proud men like Jeremiah to rise up and condemn the rest of the leaders), then his second vision was likely also inaccurate. Then at the end of all of this, after I followed him out here against my better judgment, and put up with Nephi constantly trying to outdo the rest of us, after all of that, he tells my kids I’m wicked and that their curse will rest upon my head. He’s basically teaching them to not honor their father and mother.

So yeah, the part of me that’s still the kid back in Jerusalem is sad to see Dad go. But adult me has seen nothing but hardship and difficulty from Dad’s decisions, and so I hope our family can turn over a new leaf now where we won’t be led into suffering through the whimsies of Dad’s dreams. Laman might be a bit harsh at times, but he’s essentially a very practical guy. The challenge that’s coming will be Nephi. It’s clear he wants to be in charge, and his leadership would be just as poorly thought through as Dad’s, but it would have an added problem: he has a chip on his shoulder because he wants to be in charge, but he’s the younger brother. So who knows what he’d resort to if he thought he had a chance to take charge.

"Long live the king"

Anyway, over the next few days, we’ll finish up with the ceremonies for Dad. I’m going to try to focus on the good times before everything went south (literally).