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Ken Duvall

Parable of Two Mustangs

What a beautiful spirit comes with that marvelous music. The President leaned over and touched my arm as I got up and said, “Teach us the doctrine.” And in an interest to do that, I let you know that everything is better with chocolate on it. There are so many things in the interest of full disclosure that I invented covered with chocolate, and most of them never made it to market, I have to tell you that.

What a marvelous thing it is to be able to flood the earth with this message that we’ve just heard, and in the prayer and the testimony earlier. Elder Bednar asking us to be “authentic and edifying and praiseworthy,” [from a video viewed earlier in the devotional] and the things that we use to flood the earth. We read, maybe it changes a little bit the wording of Nephi when he said, “And we talk of Christ, we rejoice in Christ, we preach of Christ, and we prophesy of Christ, and we write according to our prophecies” (2 Nephi 25:26). We assume he was talking about Nephi. But maybe he was counseling us to follow a prophet’s counsel to write and flood the earth through social media with this teaching of “preaching of Christ and rejoicing in Christ.”

Besides the message of Christ our Redeemer, it seems to me that one of the things that we ought to focus on again comes from the scriptures, and from Nephi, as he taught us, “And it came to pass that we lived after the manner of happiness” (2 Nephi 5:27). That ought to be something that we flood the earth with, is that we live after the manner of happiness. “And moreover, I would desire that ye should consider on the blessed and happy state of those that keep the commandments of God” (Mosiah 2:41). Wouldn’t that be a marvelous message to flood the earth with? “For behold, they are blessed in all things, both temporal and spiritual. And if they hold out faithful until the end they are received into happiness, that thereby they may dwell with God in a state of never ending happiness” (Mosiah 2:41). What a marvelous blessing that is, to know as we think of this concept of happiness, it was mentioned in the video, that we ought to share the happiness we feel.

As I was considering this concept of happiness, and certainly flooding the earth with this happiness, as Brother Taggert shared with me that video yesterday, the words of Jacob came as I studied the scriptures, “O all ye that are pure in heart, lift up your minds and receive the pleasing word of God, and feast upon his love; for ye may, if your minds are firm” (Jacob 3:2). That phrase jumped out at me this time. What would it mean if my mind…I can see if it’s obedience, if you’re firm in your obedience, but what might it mean if it says your minds are firm? That led me to a scripture from  Mormon: “And then cometh the judgment of the Holy One upon them, and then cometh the time that he that is filthy shall be filthy still, and he that is righteous shall be righteous still, he that is happy will be happy still” (Mormon 9:14). The principles, one of the guiding doctrines of the church, is that men are that they might have joy. We are to learn on this earth how to be happy.

What happens if your life isn’t perfect? What happens if you might be struggling with a challenge, or if it rains on your plans for the day? If anyone listened to you bear your testimony, would they know you’re happy? Would they know that you’re a Christian if they saw what you wrote? Many times as I listened, particularly, in YSA (young single adult) wards, but not necessarily just in those wards, in fast and testimony meeting, I think, after so many of the testimonies, “Well, I’m depressed now, too. This gospel is tough. Why would anybody want to join this gospel?”

And occasionally somebody will say, “Well, I’m glad I joined the church.” Yes! Good. But there maybe ought to be a little more than that. As Brother Burkhart said last week in the devotional, “Discipleship is not a spectator sport.” We participate in it, and we get beat up in it, and we participate in it. On the other hand, as we do that we often forget Elder Holland’s comment that he gave us in conference, when he said, “No misfortune is so bad that whining about it won’t make it worse,” (“The Touch of Angels,” October 2014 General Conference). We seem to find some solace in whining about it, but maybe we shouldn’t flood the earth with that whining. Maybe it ought to be happiness that we flood the earth with.

At times, members of the church are criticized for being a little “Pollyanna-ish.” It’s an old Disney movie, maybe you’ve seen it in a museum or something, but they played the Happy Game. And it worked sometimes. But often we forget a little bit about that. Perhaps a parable might help us with this issue of perspective. Now I call this parable the parable of two Mustangs. Now for those of you from the East, I’m not talking about cars, I’m talking about horses. And I share this with you for two reasons at least. Number one: many of you are from international countries, and your parents sent you to the middle of nowhere, Wild West United States, and we ought to share some culture with you that we have here about that. So we share our culture of wild horses with you. The second reason is because I love horses, since before I was born. Here is a picture of me before my second birthday. I remember loving horses before I remember anything else in my life. Now as you see this picture, your first reaction might be, “Where is this kid’s parents?” My first reaction is, “Why is this horse stopped? Why aren’t we going? There are cattle to round up, there are some things we need to be doing. Why is this horse stopped?” Thank you, Cathy.

So this is the picture of me, then? Actually not this one. This one. So this is the picture of me before I was two.

Where are this kid’s parents? Well, I love horses. So let’s talk about that. This is on my grandfather’s ranch, and I’m going to use my grandfather. Whatever’s not true in this parable ought to be, as we start through here. My grandfather homesteaded in Eastern Wyoming, and as they all did, started through a very difficult process of trying to earn a living in the middle of nowhere, where the most famous part of that country is the Willie and Martin Handcart [Company], and you know how that went for them. So he started out to round up some wild mustangs that could help him on the ranch. And as absolute worst luck would have it, as the horses split up (horses tend to do that), one went to the right and happened to be closest to my grandfather, and sure enough, his lasso went around that horse’s neck, and there began the challenge. There began the battle of taming this horse.

Now, those of you, again, who have been to museums and have seen the John Wayne westerns, know how they break horses. It’s not a pretty sight, but they get it done, and you have to teach this horse how to pull a plow. You have to teach the concept of, here’s this horse, finally tame, in the harness, helping my grandfather build his ranch and develop his life. Hard work, always in the harness every day.

Now as this horse would do this day after day, you can imagine this horse looking up on the hillside, and seeing his friend that got away. “How unfair this life is! Why me? I’m pulling in this harness day after day, and I look up and see my friend running wild.”  

Now you can imagine what the friend is saying back. “Oh, what a dummy. I wouldn’t do homework either if I was you. Do you know the movie is starting?” There are all sorts of things that the wild mustang would say back, and all sorts of whining that the tame horse could do. As you think of those two concepts here, which of these two would you prefer to be? What would it be like?

I remember a time in the mission home in Bilbao, Spain. Not exactly sure what I was supposed to be doing, I think I was supposed to be developing a zone conference schedule. But we were up on the second floor in a house I’m convinced was designed by Satan, because as you would look out the window, there was stunning, stunning golf course country club right outside the window. And one day, when I should have been, I suppose, doing the calendar, I looked out and just thought, “Wow. How I would love to be a wild mustang. Wouldn’t it be great to be out on that golf course right now?” And I just kind of sat there, I don’t know how long I’d been there, nor do I know how long my wife had been in the doorway, when she said, “You remind me of a little boy, when he should be playing the piano, he wants to go out and play baseball.” That’s exactly how I felt.

None of us are immune from that. Today, I’ve invited two of my daughters to come, and help us with the perspectives of these two mustangs. We’re going to put the words up on the screen in a minute, so you can ponder on those words as they sing this song for us. But this song came as a result of my oldest daughter, who had just finished going through chemotherapy, and had just finished her treatments for breast cancer, and my second-to-youngest daughter, who had just gone through some hip surgeries and was struggling with the concept that they wouldn’t be able to have children and were hoping to adopt. And both of them had just gone through this challenge in their life, and shared this testimony with their parents through song, to help us understand a little bit about this perspective. Cathy?

[Daughters sing “Blessings”]

We pray for blessings, we pray for peace.

Comfort for family, protection while we sleep.

We pray for healing, for prosperity,

We pray for your mighty hand to ease our suffering.

And all the while, you hear each spoken need.

You love us way too much to give us lesser things


Cause what if your blessings come through raindrops?

What if your healing comes through tears?

What if a thousand sleepless nights are what it takes

To know you’re near?

And what if trials of this life are your mercies in disguise?


We pray for wisdom, your voice to hear.

We cry in anger when we cannot feel you near.

We doubt your goodness, we doubt your love.

As if every promise from your word is not enough.

And all the while, you hear each desperate plea

And known that we’d have faith to believe.


Cause what if your blessings come through raindrops?

What if your healing comes through tears?

What if a thousand sleepless nights are what it takes

To know you’re near?

And what if trials of this life are your mercies in disguise?


When friends betray us, when darkness seems to win

The pain reminds this heart, that this is not, this is not our home.

It’s not our home.


Cause what if your blessings come through raid drops

What if your healing comes through tears

What if a thousand sleepless nights are what it takes to know you’re near

What if my greatest disappointments or the aching of this life

Is the revealing of a greater thirst this world can’t satisfy?

What if trials of this life, the rain, the storms, the hardest nights,

Are your mercies in disguise?


That’s a testimony to us, of this concept of perspective. Now for those of you not familiar with horses, let me tell you the rest of this story. This is what Satan would have us believe: life is full of stunning stallions, running free, doing whatever they want without restrictions. That’s what we’re told, that’s what Satan hopes that we will believe.

Now, I’ve been very careful to find the least offensive picture I could. This is a real wild mustang.

Wild mustangs have a life expectancy less than half of a normal horse. They’re full of worms. Their hooves are split. They are usually starving to death. They are constantly fighting. They have a brutal ending. They are the pure example of the Telestial world. And what is their destiny? They will be eaten by predators.

I hope this picture sinks into your heart, you wild mustangs out there. This is your destiny. The world will eat you, unless you decide that there is a different approach. Contrast that with the tame mustang—in the barn every single night, out of the elements, protected from predators. Grandpa always fed the tame horse. He had the best medical care. All of us grandchildren loved that horse. And we spent every waking moment we could with that horse. Maybe that wasn’t a blessing for the horse, I’m not sure. But [it] received all of its shots. Warm blanket in the winter, all the water it could drink. That horse grew old and lived years and years and years beyond the other one. He was shod with protective iron horseshoes that would protect his hooves from the ground. That is the perspective of where we’re at.

Now I take you back to my experience in the mission. And those of you who have served a mission, those of you under mission call, here’s the question: You leave your family, we leave our little youngest, who by the way got married on our last mission, now she’s having a baby on the next one. I can’t see them, can’t be with them, I’m forced away from my home, I can’t live in my home. That sounds like the Telestial world to me. Or, I get to be yoked with the Savior. I am in the harness. I get to be with my wife 24-7, working with the Savior as our partner, building the kingdom of God, spreading the gospel to all of the world. That sounds like the definition of the Celestial kingdom. So which is it? You get to decide. Do you live in the Telestial world, or the Celestial world? You get to decide. It’s that perspective that gets to determine what you flood the world with. Is the world going to hear from you that the gospel is the greatest thing there is? It is the manner of happiness. When I am in the harness, when I am living the gospel, there is no place else I’d rather be. Is that what they’ll hear from you? Or will the world hear something different?

That would be the end of the story a little bit. Let me share with you the words in Spanish. A word for wild mustang is “mustaña,” or “caballo salvaje,” depending on where you’re from in the world. But in that same word, when you change a wild horse to a tame horse, what you’re doing is changing it from a “mustaña” to “quebrantada,” which means “tame.” And by the way, that’s the exact same word that you find in the scriptures when it says, “And thou shalt offer a sacrifice unto the Lord thy God in righteousness, even that of a broken heart and a contrite spirit,” (D&C 59:7). What the Lord is asking us to give him is a tame heart, one that’s been through the process of becoming tame, getting rid of our wild nature, wanting to be in the harness with him, doing what we should.

The story would end there, except for another personal experience. Cathy, can we see that picture again?

Since before I was born I knew I could ride a horse. Okay, since after I was born. I grew up knowing I could ride a horse by myself. I was focused on that; it brought great confidence in my life. It brought a feeling that I could do anything, because I can ride a horse by myself. And I was always focused on this picture in the back of my mind. For some reason, probably because I’m very old, I started looking at this picture again the other day. It was a couple of months ago as we were scanning for some family history, and I looked down and saw that Spot’s legs were really weird-shaped on his front legs. And then I saw in the shadow on the ground the shadow of my father’s cowboy hat, and heard him say, “I’ve always been there for you.” In that moment, I heard, in a real voice, Heavenly Father say, “No matter how big of a knothead you’ve been, kid, or a wild mustang, I’ve always been there for you.”

How is it that President Monson can be so happy, in spite of losing his wife, and the burdens of the entire Church and the entire world? How can he be so happy? Have you ever seen President Eyring without a smile? And yet, I was at our faculty training meeting when his son came and spoke to us and told us of his mother’s declining health. How awful that must be for President Eyring. And yet you never see him without a smile. How can that be? In chapter 5 of Preach My Gospel, we’re reminded that the Book of Mormon gives us “meaning and perspective to our life.” No matter what happens to us, no matter what comes along, we have a meaning and a perspective that allows us to choose to be happy.

President Richards in his opening devotional quoted President Monson when he said, “Your future is as bright as your faith” (“Be of Good Cheer,” President Thomas S. Monson, April 2009 General Conference). And may I add to that, to President Richards, not to President Monson, no matter how many raindrops fall on your plans, the gospel puts us in perspective. No matter what challenges you’re going through, we share our happiness with each other. No matter what challenges you have, we flood the earth with the good news of the gospel. No, the gospel isn’t hard to live. It’s the greatest thing that’s ever happened in our life. Oh, yeah, we also have problems. But the gospel is the greatest things that’s ever happened to our lives. It isn’t that Moses, when his lifted the serpent up on the stick, on the staff, and invited the children of Israel to look up, it wasn’t just that it healed them. It lifted them, which is the mission of our College. We enlighten, we ennoble, we lift, that we might enjoy the plan of salvation no matter how many raindrops fall on our plan, is my prayer today, in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

Introduction: President J. Lawrence Richards

 Ken was born in Salt Lake City, Utah, and after graduating from Granite High School he attended the University of Utah, and obtained a degree in finance. He then served a mission to Chile, and while working in the mission office he helped to open up the Chile Concepcion Mission. After returning from his mission to Chile he returned to the University of Utah and graduated with a Masters degree in Business Administration; and after graduating Ken worked for companies in health care distribution, as well as sporting goods manufacturing, both in California, Oklahoma, and Utah. And after several years with Easter Aluminum, Ken was hired to be the Vice President of Sales for Sweet Candy Company. Now let me ask you a question. How many of you have ever had a cinnamon bear? How many of you have ever had a chocolate-covered cinnamon bear? Brother Ken Duvall is the inventor of the chocolate-covered cinnamon bear. This is his mark on the world, but those of you who’ve had the opportunity to be in one of Ken’s classes, Institute or one of his sales classes, know about the mark he has made upon your heart, and upon your life.

After working 14 years selling candy, Ken received a call that would change his life. He and his wife were called to preside over the Bilbao Spain Mission. And after three glorious years of serving, Ken decided to follow his passion for teaching, and he’s been a full-time teacher here at the College since then, where he’s been the program director of professional sales and global supply chain programs. In addition to many callings in the Church, he has served several times in the Young Men’s program, twice as an elder’s quorum president, a high councilor in a YSA stake, a bishop, and a stake president. He currently serves as the ward mission leader in his ward. He’s married to Mary Cummings. They are the proud parents of five children, three of whom are here today, and just after announcing their new call, because Ken will be leaving us at the end of this semester, he and his wife will go to Bogota Colombia, where Ken will serve as the president of the Bogota Missionary Training Center; and just after receiving their call their youngest daughter announced that she was expecting their 20th grandchild in March of next year. We are very grateful for Ken; we are grateful for his contribution to this institution. I have been mentored and taught by this man, and he has marked my spirit, more than he has marked my stomach with chocolate-covered cinnamon bears.


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