Saturday, February 23, 2008

What is in a name?

A few years ago I had a few incidents that were a bit out of the ordinary. When I was working at Martin Marietta in Denver I was at my desk and received a phone call from a bill collector. The person participating in the phone conversation with me accused me of not paying a bill to Rose Medical Center. I denied having ever contracted a debt at Rose Medical Center. The person on the line demanded that I was the one who had incurred the debt and that my wife Rosa received services at Rose Medical Center. I then informed the person on the line that my wife's name was not Rosa and that I had never had any dealings with Rose Medical Center. He then proceeded to threaten me with garnisheeing my wages and insisted that I was the Larry Vance that had contracted the expenses at Rose Medical Center. I asked the man on the phone for his name. He promptly hung up.

One night when I lived in Denver I was called at a fairly late hour (for me anyway, maybe 10:30) by a woman that accused me of being abusive and hateful. I listened to her accuse me of beating up her friend and tell me what a horrible person I was. I asked her if she knew who she was talking to and she said Larry Vance. I asked her if she had the right Larry Vance, to which she replied, "Do you work at Safeway?", to which I replied no. She apologized and then hung up the phone.

Some time after this I went into the Southwest Plaza Mall near where we lived to get my driver's license renewed. It was a Saturday. I approached the counter and asked if I could get my license renewed and handed the woman at the station my driver's license. She types some information at her keyboard and looked at the monitor for a few moments. She called her supervisor over to the monitor at her station. They looked at the monitor together for a period of time. They both left to go into a back room for a minute or two. When she came back she handed me my driver's license and said, "I can't help you today." After which I asked if there was something wrong. Her reply was not what I expected. She cupped her hand by the side of her mouth and said in a subdued fashion, "You are deceased." This was a surprise to me, because I was right there with me as a witness that I was not deceased. Jeanette was there too.

Jeanette helped me by going to the State of Colorado Division of Motor Vehicles and testified that I was not dead. They changed the entry in the database to indicate the I was in fact still alive. There was another Larry Vance that had expired. Not that I wish ill on this Larry Vance that died, I wondered if it was the same Larry Vance that had generated so many controversial situations for me because my name is Larry Vance.

Not long after this I was informed that there was a peculiar sign along 6th South in Denver as you go into town from the west. There was this sign that said, "Larry Vance died here".

As a youth I had heard anecdotes about somebody telling some significant figure to "remember who you are". In my youth I am sure that I had heard similar statements by people near to me. I did not hark well to the advice. I set out and did things that were implicitly excluded from the activities that I should have performed. Tobacco, alcohol, and automobiles were involved in my extracurricular activities that should not have occurred. This went on for a few years. One day I decided that my life was not going where I wanted it to go. I decided to change my life. I began the repentance process by talking to my Bishop and to the Stake President. They helped me get ready to serve a mission to Argentina.

I went to Argentina for two years to teach the Gospel of Jesus Christ. I had as an objective to share the gospel and help others to come to the knowledge of Jesus Christ. Ironically, the person that probably got the most benefit from my effort to help others was me. I changed some of my lax habits. I learned to study. I lost the cravings for cigarettes and alcohol. I set goals for my life after the mission. I feel that I was forgiven for my sins and that I was convinced that Jesus Christ is my Savior and that the Holy Ghost does testify of the truth of all things.

When people hear your name, what do they think? When you hear the name Adolf Hitler, Joseph Smith, Jesus Christ, Abraham Lincoln, or Bill Clinton, what do you envision? I believe that we all have an influence on people around us. Due to the things we do and say we earn a reputation. Sometimes our reputation is based on things outside our sphere of influence. Prejudice may be one thing that can influence what others think of us.

I like having an influence in the lives of others for good. Sometimes I would like to make decisions for my children beyond what I do and what they would like me to make. I realize that everybody is in charge of their own decisions and they are the masters of their own destiny. I do not lend any credence to there not being external influences, but I believe that ultimately people are responsible for their own choices and actions. A reputation is built by performing actions that are observed by others.

When people use your name, are they holding the words on their tongue with disdain, or do they have feelings of charity and praise. Your focus will determine your reality. What is in a name?


  1. The name game can go both ways. I googled my name and found that someone in Utah with my name is a University President.

  2. Larry, I have watched you as a small child, very strong willed and determined. I always knew that if you made up your mind to do anything that you had the will to do it. I may have taken a time for you to go the way of the Lord. I have seen how you love your family and want them to do what is right too. I admire you and Jeanette for the effort you put into your life and your family. I believe the Lord has a great hand in our lives too. I believe you are both great people and nobody else in the world can have effect eternally on your name, but you. I think you are a great person and I love you dearly . Mom

  3. It is a good thing that I was not taken earlier. I am still repenting. Maybe some day I will get it right.

  4. Join the crowd. Getting some things right sometimes takes a long time. I look back and think of all the things that I should have done differently and I wonder how long it takes for me to see the light. One thing that I feel I have done right is having my children. All of you are precious to me and this blog has opened my eyes to much of the good in all of you. I love you and all of our family. Mom

  5. I suppose that I need to strengthen my faith by being obedient and valiant. Maybe I need to go back to Primary.

  6. Primary is a good place for all of us. If fact, Betty is going to primary every Sunday. She's teaching a primary class and she's loving it. I sat in with her one day and that's all it took to let me know that I just don't have the patience any more. I'm getting old and crochety!!

  7. Have you ever noticed that when people are in kindergarten they know exactly what they want to do when they "grow up".

    Then notice that when they are "grown up" that they have no idea what they want to be.

  8. I know you are right. I was so sure of myself with I was in my twenties. I am so unsure now that I am nearing 60.

    The one place I do feel sure is with my Mom and my Brothers and Sisters. I love you.

  9. Larry, you have been a wonderful example in my life. Iam also still trying to do things right.
    I am now teaching a Primary class, which at first I did NOT want to do.
    The Bishop knew what he was doing. I am learning much more than my kids. It's like every lesson I teach has my name on it and I realize I need to practice what I teach to Heavenly Father's children and I am his child too.

  10. When I was Blaze Leader the boys would move into the Deacon's Quorum as they turned 12. At the end of the year I would not have any boys left in the group. I would then work in the nursery until the beginning of the next year.

    My last experience in the nursery was here in the Waco area. One of the little girls was having a difficult time in nursery if her dad did not stay around. I held her and coddled her a bit. This was for the whole nursery period. Afterward we had choir practice. She was there with her mother. She boldly came up to me and asked, "What are YOU doing here?" I suppose that she just had her fill of me that day.


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