I am from Utah, a state filled with beauty and, for me, stories of my ancestry. I still get excited to drive there, past all of the landmarks I remember from my childhood; Elephant Feet means we are one-quarter of the way there, Kayenta means we really are half-way and that we're about to drive through Monument Valley - and then Bluff, Blanding, Monticello and finally my town, Moab.
My family were cattle ranchers, real life cowboys and cowgirls with acres of land in the thousands for the herds of cattle that were driven up the Mountain in the summer, down to the valley in the winter. Over the years my mother has sold off almost all of that land, which was tough for her, but a brave decision. The population has gone from three families on the Mountain to a dozen or so. It's nice to have neighbors and even nicer to see the places they are building.
On my recent trip to the Mountain I got the opportunity to see a few of the newest cabins, still under construction, and was amazed by the craftsmanship I saw. The tile work was the most beautiful I'd ever seen. I started asking around about who was doing the work, and started learning about the Lost Boys.
These are not the Sudanese Lost Boys that Oprah Winfrey talked about on her show. These are young Mormon boys that were forced out of the FLDS compounds in Utah and Arizona (some as young as 13 years old) and there are hundreds of them. You see, Warren Jeffs (currently serving life in prison, plus 20 years) likes young girls. A lot. At last count, Jeffs had 79 "wives". He married twenty-four of them when they were under 18 years of age. Any competition for these young women had to be removed, thrown out of the compound in the middle of the night - not even their mothers would speak up for them.
You may be thinking that this could possibly be the best thing to happen to these young men, but understand that none of them have any formal education, have no idea how to get a job or even apply for aid. They are forced out, unprepared to live in a world that they have no knowledge of. But it looks like the FLDS did do one thing right, they taught those boys how to build, and build beautifully.
I'm proud to see my hometown, and all of Utah supporting these boys, giving them opportunities that their parents wouldn't. I hope each and every one of the Lost Boys grow up and live good lives, far away from monsters like Warren Jeffs. I hope they protect their sons and daughters and teach them to recognize evil, especially when it's under the guise of church doctrine, because that form of evil is the hardest to decipher.
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