I imagine there have been many of you out there who have paused to
think about your life and your legacy, and what you would leave to posterity when as you pass
on. The Question is-- if we are suddenly called home, as Tanya has been, are we living our
life to leave "Foot steps of faith". So...this talk is about Tanya, my grandaughter, a sixteen year
old young women, who left "Foot steps of Faith" as her legacy.
I don't think Tanya actually sat down and out lined her legacy. She had set many goals in her
life. She had many ups and downs just as we all have. However when it became obvious ,
after her death, that she had touched the lives of so many people, I felt that part of her legacy
would be sharing her story with others, and by doing so, perhaps strengthening other peoples
As the KSL video (television documentary) points out--she loved and was loved by people
who's life she had touched. She was taught by her parents and others the principals of the
Gospel. She had learned to exemplify the principals by practicing them.
Tanya loved sharing testimonies. She made a point to ask me, when we were together in
our church meetings, if I was going to bear my Testimony. She was able to share her's from
a very young age. By the time she was age 16 she had a very powerful Testimony, the result of
her "foot steps of faith".
Spirit & Physical Self in Harmony
HerStake President, told us at her funeral "that our spirit comes to earth as a full grown
intelligence. We had embraced the gospel in the premortal life and could progress no more
there. The physical body we receive may be led and taught to obey, by our spirit. The spirit
continues to learn to obey God as directed by the "Holy Ghost". We need to learn how this
Spirit and mortal body can connect. Tanya had made that connection. Her spirit and mortal
body were in harmony. The result being in tune with the "Holy Ghost".
Preparing for her mission
One of the goals she had set and had been working toward for several years had been to go to
Germany on a mission. She had taken a High School German Class to begin getting ready.
Her friends and Stake president knew of this desire. Shortly after Tanya departed this life, Her
Stake President commented, "Tanya's death was not an accidental, she was taken for a
purpose. She was a valiant spirit in the Spirit World", who has a measure in creation to
fill". Another speaker told us "She is one of the "WHEAT" that has been plucked from the
During the funeral another member of the Stake Presidency made the following comment
"Tanya has been called home early to fill her mission, on the other side of the veil". He
reminded us that our mortal life, in the eternal story of our life, is a mere comma, not even
and exclamation point". Much has happened in the preexistence and much will happen in the
eternities to come.
Foot Steps leading to this moment
Her life seemed to be a series of learning experiences, foot steps, leading to the moment when
she was taken. One gift she had was determination. Determination seemed to be a driving
force in her life.
The Accident before Birth
I am going back to the time just prior to Tanya's birth. Events in her life at even so early a time
indicated her determination. In 1979, Tanya's mother , who was in the early stages of pregnancy,
(4 months), was driving by her self from Colorado, where we lived, to Salt Lake. Terry lost
control of the car on some loose gravel and rolled over and over, about 200 feet, down the
mountain side in Heber Canyon. Terry was thrown from the car which had come to rest above
her. Some campers were sitting around a camp fire and saw the headlights in the dark as it
rolled. The campers ran to the car, finding Terry unconscious and bleeding from many wounds
and broken bones. Their efforts saved both Tanya and her mother. A miracle had stopped the
car from rolling over them. It lodged on a small stone and teetered there just above them..
At the hospital we could see how grievously wounded she was. Her left hand and arm were in
danger of amputation. During the rest of the pregnancy Tanya and her mother spent long months
as they did skin grafts, fought infection and finally gave birth to Tanya. Terry says she truly
feels Tanya's survival was a real miracle. She was determined to have her mortal body. She
arrived Whole, Hearty and happy. Her happy nature came out immediately. She was loved and
adored by the nurses at the first stay in the hospital, and welcomed back several months later as
Terry underwent more repairs.
This grandmother recalls her happy, joyful nature as she tippy toed, sang and danced her way
through her childhood. A song in a persons heart comes from the joy in their "Soul", an
expression of the "Soul Voice". Because of Terry's injuries Tanya's child hood could have
been unhappy, there was so much pain. Terry recalls that when Tanya was about 10 or 11
years old, she came into the house and announced "I'm going to be happy". She had decided on
her own (inspiration I'm sure) that her mother needed her to be happy and to help around
the house. She seemed to enjoy helping as she sang , danced and smiled her way through those
years. This joyful heart must have been another gift she had received, as part of her
measure of creation.
One example of her determination, of which must have been a gift from her father in
heaven, showed up early. Tanya had seen a beautiful dress with a full skirt, ribbons and ruffles.
When she ask if she could buy one, it was determined that it was too expensive. (T-Jay and
Terry were still in school at BYU and paying medical bills). This did not deter her however.
After her request was turned down several times she was told if she could earn enough to
buy the material, a friend would sew it for her. The material and labor would cost about $100
dollars. To a ten year old that was a fortune. However she set out to earn it and earn it she did.
She got the dress and a very full slip--and danced around, sang songs and loved her "Princes
Dress", as her daddy called it.
From Junior High through her High School Years, she was a straight "A" student. From about 8
years old she began her music training and learned piano, flute, and Baritone. She began
learning German, saying she wanted to go to Germany on her mission. After her return from
Germany she learned the "TUBA.
Ancestral "Viets" German Roots
The summer before her Sophomore year her parents went to Germany to gather Genealogy
from her German side of the family. While there they met Terry's relatives who were still in
Germany. After a ceremony by the town Bergermister, who presented them the key and the Red
Carpet, to the tiny village, they met a family who had been gathering family records. The father,
Mr. Witt (Veit), had computerized them and was elated to find Terry would take them to the
SLC archives for him. There were some 17 thousand family records all linked into families on
that disk. They discovered after returning home that this same lineage (WITT=VIET) was the
ancestral lineage on her father's also, that had been dead ended for many years (1740).
The Red Wagon Story
I saw a quote recently "there is no limit to the hights we can soar, as long as we do it our
selves." This story is an example of this. After they returned from Germany, Tanya was invited
to go to Germany to live with the Witts and go to school. Tanya was young yet (15) and so,
much discussing of pros and cons, went on before making decision. Finally her parents told her
if she could make the plane fare, she could do it. Determination came to her rescue once more.
She did every odd job she could. Her biggest project was to make and sell brownies and
homemade loaves of bread every Saturday. After baking them she would load them into her
little "Red Wagon", and set off merrily around the neighbor hood pulling it behind her. She sold
all she could make.
Her Italian Trial
By July she was in Germany. She and her German family went for a vacation. One morning
while they were in Italy, she had one of the biggest trials of her young life. She had set out
jogging. She felt that if she jogged straight away from their villa that all she needed to do to
return, was turn around and jog straight back. When she turned around to return, she could see
many streets veering off from where she was. She had no idea how to get back, did not speak
Italian, and could not remember her address they were staying at.
She turns to the Lord
Tanya was used to conferring with the "Lord". Her parents had trained her well. Family home
evenings, church attendance, and seminary training came to her rescue. She immediately turned
to him. She let him know she was hopelessly lost, frightened, and would he please get her back.
She then began to jog. She was praying for inspiration and got it. She was literally led back to
the family. I heard her bear her testimony about this time in her life, after she returned from
Germany. She was filled to over flowing with the spirit, as she testified to the power of the
"Holy Ghost", as she had relied upon him that day. Seldom if ever, have I heard or seen more
spirituality radiate from a young person.
Recorded in Her Journal
She wrote the account of it in her journal as she did daily. On the day that we waited on the
canyon wall, for them to find her, I read a portion, where she said " I learned that day that
"I could handle anything that might happen to my physical body (including Rape), but I
could not bear to live with out the "Holy Ghost", and her big brother Jesus Christ. She had
truly made the connection between her physical self and her spiritual self.
Her Drug Encounter
She was really tested another time while she was in Germany. Here is a letter written by the
Mission President's wife about an Encounter of the "Drug Kind". This letter was sent to her
parents while she was in Germany.
"A couple of months ago Tanya came to me and said that she had a problem and just needed
someone to talk to. It was about an experience she had which was worrying her immensely and
I'm going to try to remember it as she told me and write it down. In Bockhorn, the town where
Tanya lived with her "foster" parents, there was to be the usual yearly town celebration. The
Witts had told Tanya about it and had expressed their wish that she stay at home that weekend,
instead of going to Wilhelmshaven to the LDS Church, so that she could attend the activities
with the family.
On the Saturday of that weekend, Tanya was together with some of her girlfriends from school.
They attended the festivities and looked around and chatted and laughed together Later in the
evening, the girls got together and wanted to go off somewhere and smoke. Tanya did not
want to go with them so she was more or less alone.
There was a boy from the school, named Christian and he accompanied her as she walked
around the fair and talked to her. He liked to speak English and perhaps he thought this would be
a good opportunity to practice his English. They talked about all kinds of things and he spent
quite a while telling about himself and problems he had at home with his family, etc. The
Witts had told Tanya that she was to be home at a certain time, so when she excused herself
from Christian, he offered to walk her home. She wasn't particularly happy about the idea, so
she asked the Witts what they thought, hoping that they would say no, but they seemed to be quite
happy about the fact that she would not have to walk home alone, so they gave their consent. As
they walked they continued to talk - he talking about his problems mostly, and Tanya talking
about the Church and how wonderful it is and how it could help him.
During this time, Christian offered Tanya a piece of perfumed wood to smell. She took it but
was not very impressed with it and gave it back. When they arrived at the home of the Witts,
they talked a short while and then Tanya said it was time for her to go inside. Christian gave her
the perfumed wood again which she smelled but returned. He then left her and went to his own
home. When Tanya got into her room, she was terribly cold. She quickly got ready for bed and
cuddled under the warm featherbed, but could not get warm. Also, she could not sleep. She
tossed and turned throughout the night and slept, perhaps out of pure exhaustion, for just an hour
or two. She was not only physically uneasy, but spiritually uneasy. She felt strange. Empty.
Alone. For the first time in her life she felt absolutely alone! She felt as if she couldn't get
through to Heavenly Father and she missed the warm feeling of the Holy Ghost. This made
her frightened and unhappy. During the next hours and day or two she had a very depressed
feeling and thoughts kept coming into her head that she was unworthy to have the Holy Ghost
and that Heavenly Father didn't love her. She also got the thought that if she could smell
the perfumed wood again, she would feel better. She discovered that this was not just a
normal piece of perfumed wood that one might put in the closet or chest of drawers, but that it
was a piece of wood that had been drenched in a drug which was called "Peace"! She spent
some very miserable and unhappy hours, praying that Heavenly Father would forgive her,
praying that she might just feel his spirit again.
Relationship with Heavenly Father
Most times, with Converts to the Church, people put aside their old ways and have their first
experiences with the Holy Ghost and are overwhelmed with the joy of it. With Tanya, having
been brought up in a Mormon community and in a good Latter-day Saint home where the spirit is
abundant, she had her first experience of being without the Holy Ghost. which was
overwhelmingly terrible, especially in a foreign country, among people with a different
language and being far away from her family and friends.
She Struggles with the Spirit
After some "struggling in the Spirit", Tanya finally felt the presence of the Holy Ghost again and
above all the assurance that God loved her. Mrs. Witt had noticed that Tanya was troubled
and was able to find out what had happened. She felt very sorry for Tanya and that she had been
deceived, and very angry with Christian for having taken advantage of the situation. Mrs. WITT
reported the incident to the school.
On the following weekend Tanya talked to me about it and I was able to assure her that she had
not been guilty of a sin, because she had been the innocent victim of what Christian thought was
just an amusing joke. It was not very easy for Tanya during the following weeks. Christian
and some of the other students didn't think so well of Tanya because she had told on him. The
whole situation was not easy for Tanya.
She wanted so badly to talk to her parents about it but it was so hard to do over the phone, and
she certainly didn't want them to worry. However Tanya has been very strong. She is actually
amazing because she has been the only Mormon in her community and has stayed strong to
the faith. She has not been afraid to talk to people about the gospel and give her testimony
s of faith to everyone who was willing to hear.
Her Stepping Stone
This experience which was at first terrible for Tanya, turned out to be a stepping stone. She has
matured, has withstood the adversary and learned to stand spiritually on her own feet. Now,
when she stands up and gives her testimony that she knows that God lives and that he loves her,
she says it because she really knows. She has felt in a moment of despair and loneliness the love
of an eternal Father who is always there and always loves, even when we think he doesn't.
Unusually Strong Spirit
I'm thankful for being able to get to know Tanya. She is an unusually strong spirit. I'm
sure this experience has given her the necessary strength to withstand the difficulties and
problems of this time in which we live and I'm thankful to know that there are young
people in the Church who are like Tanya and who will influence the World in the future.
She gave Christian a copy of the Look of Mormon and has forgiven him. Perhaps someday
he will read it and remember that Tanya told him that the Gospel can help us with all our
Hamburg Germany Stake.
I have written this from memory. It may be that Tanya will have to fill in or change things if
necessary, but I think I have been able to get the main points down.
Difficult School Experience
Tanya loved the experience she was having in Germany, but soon found that being taught and
learning in a different language, in a foreign land, was most difficult. She studied untold hours
out side of school. The heart was willing. She had disciplined herself to doing straight "A"
work at all times. However by Christmas she had to decide whether to just stick it out by
staying there or to come home before her grade average suffered. She wrote in her journal "I
have done all I can here. I am at a place where I can not progress any more by my self".
After much soul searching she called her parents and it was decided that rather than lose her
grade average she should come home. She made that choice. She left behind many people who
she had shared her testimony with.
It was decided her friend Sabrina would come live at her house in Utah, and go to school until
December break. She left behind another little friend she was very close to. Both these girls
played a part in the events surrounding her departure from life.
About The Marching Band
When she returned from Germany, she wanted to get into the American Fork Marching Band.
However all the chairs were filled for instruments she played. Once again determination
came to the rescue. She determined that she could get in if she played the "TUBA". The month
before school started she practiced her heart out. When tryout time arrived she tried out, and
won her seat in the 250 member nationaly renoun marching band,. There were some special
friends in it too, which she was delighted to be able to play with. You saw them on the KSL
Video. She was 16 years old.
Still a missionary
Her friend Sabrina from Germany and several others, were learning Heavenly Father's Plan
from her. Whether Jogging, at an activity, or at work, Tanya took time to touch lives for good.
Testimonials came by the hundreds, to the family by people she had touched , who needed
comfort to understand why she was taken.
Her Temple Work
The Timpanogas Temple can be seen from the Humphries home from the deck at the rear of the
house. The Stake youth were very involved as they played host and hostesses for the public open
house, prior to the Dedication. The family had submitted names to be ready when the temple
opened. Terry was playing the organ once a week at open house and would continue when it
was dedicated. T-Jay was doing Missionary work as a "Stake Missionary".
Family Activities Together
Because of terry's injured neck. The result of still another rolled car, plans for a family outing
had been put off all summer. Now as the middle of October arrived they either had to go or
wait until the next year. The family, neighbors & ward members decide to go and take
advantage of what would be the last opportunity of this year.
Tanya's Measure Filled - She is Taken Home
Little did we suspect that this weekend would be the time when Tanya's measure on earth
would be filled and father would need her at home. However, Father had prepared the way to
help us under stand the events that would transpire that day. The Holy Ghost had whispered to
Tanya "that some one was going to die. She interpreted it to be her mother. SHE HAD
COME TO HER MOTHER EXPRESSING THIS INSIGHT".
One Of The Boys Gives His Account Of The Day
"We reached the area known as "Hugging Rock" at about two o'clock. This spot was a little
trickier than the others. While the adults, mostly the men, were trying to figure the best way
around, the teenagers continued to be positive and enjoying each other's company. We sat on one
side of this gully for about an hour. We were all cold and shivering at this point also. After
scouting the area and saying a few more prayers, it was decided to cross the water, scale the
rock face, go down a ledge, with the help of the men, and onto a platform area. This spot is
known as "Hugging Rock." We all did this successfully.
When we all reached this point, it became apparent that we would now have to jump back
across the water to go down further. Seven of those in the group jumped. Barry, Gary,
Tanya, Melissa, Jacob, Curtis and Austin. Six of us didn't make it. Personally, I was afraid
to jump and wanted Gary to get a log or something so I could get across it. I even told
Nannette to wait and not jump. While this was going on, we noticed the water began to
rise, then all of the sudden it was flooding the entire area. Gary and Austin went farther
down the side they were on and they were safe. Curtis was left stuck against the rock wall
and standing on a very small ledge. Barry, Tanya, Melissa and Jacob were on a rock that
was not totally safe if the water continued to rise. Those of us left, T.J., Tamara, Nannette,
Autumn, Sabrina and Sam, on the platform needed to get back up the ledge to safety. T.J.
yelled, "climb up me now!" And we did. First on his knee, then his shoulder, then with a
push and a pull from someone on top we made it.. Then to get T.J. up, we mustered all of
the strength, which we didn't know we had and pulled him up. We were safe, but stranded.
T.J. saved our lives just then. We all knew we were in serious trouble, not knowing if the
water would continue to rise or how long it would take to do down, besides being cold and
almost four o'clock, time was running out. No one spoke for 10 minutes. Gary decided that
he would scout the area down from him. He saw that he could go 300 yards down the
canyon. Gary and Austin left to see if they could hike out. They went down a ways and
climbed two rock shelves and saw that they could hike out. They came back in about 15
minutes. Before Gary and Austin left, T.J. yelled to Gary to get Curtis off the wall. He did.
Then Gary told Barry "I need you over here." Knowing what they had to do and that was to
go for help. Gary encouraged Barry across the narrow shelf finding places to put his hands
and feet. Barry made it, now it was time to get the others across with the help of the two
men. They could not have remained on that rock shelf overnight
The six of us on the ledge watched this all, helpless and praying continually. One by one we
watched each of them make it across this rock wall, except Tanya. She was the last one to
cross. She lost her footing and slipped into the water. She screamed. We all did. She landed
in a cove area and was able to stay there for a while. She looked like she was trying to find
a way back up where she had just fallen from, but it wasn't working. The water was still
moving swiftly at this point. T.J. was trying to yell to Barry and Gary ideas to help her, but
they could hardly hear him. He tried to describe with his hands, but still it was so difficult.
While all of this was going on, I kept my eyes right on Tanya. She wasn't crying. To me she
didn't look frightened. She would look up to us on the ledge, probably mostly at T.J., then
back to the others. She did this several times. Then Gary and the others took off their life
jackets and tied them together. Jacob helped as they tried to throw them to Tanya for her to
grab. After five or six tries, she got it. Gary then told her to wrap the strap around her
whole wrist, not just in her hand. She did this. Gary also told her that she would have to try
to pull herself up as she came out of the cove while they pulled from above. Then as she
came out of this small cove, the water's force prevented them from pulling her up. She
slipped into the hole the water was rushing down. The life jacket was ripped from her and
she went down through the rocks. She came up on the other side, she did not move. Her
life jacket looked like it had caught on something underneath the water because it seemed
to be sticking out from her body. There was nothing we could do. The life jackets were
stilled tied together up where she went in. It would have been unsafe for anyone else to go
in after her without a life jacket. She continued down with the rushing current and was
quickly out of site. One of the boys pushed a log into the water in hopes she could reach it,
but nothing could be done.
We were helpless, scared, cold and not believing what we had just seen. We kept hope that
somehow she made it threw. Tanya was a strong and brave individual and I feel she was
this way especially now. The six of them left on that side tried to follow her down, but after
going around a big bend she was out of site. They came back, untied their life jackets, put
them on and yelled, "stay where you are, we're going for help!'1 And at 4:55 they were
Insight Prepares The Way
Her friend she had left behind in Germany was given insight to know there would be an
accident in a group of people on a stream bank. Some one drowned. She thought it was Tanya.
She wrote telling Tanya's parents of this insight. One of the leaders on the outing received
insight that some one on the trip would die.
After notification came that Tanya was missing, several of us received insight that Tanya was
safe. However Heavenly Father's concept of being safe and our mortal concept differ. She
was "Safe" at home with him and her remains had been lifted to safety 20 foot up on the canyon
ledge. She was safe from the elements, animals and being swept into Lake Powel.
Insight had told Georgene that although she was safe she was some place where we couldn't
hear her calling us, or our calling to her. Insight had told Grandmother Shepply that she had
been taken with in seconds after the swirl of water took her under. Cause of death
A Little about the events that day
For Tanya to be taken at the precise moment she was, events of the day had to be planned by
the master's hand. The Water started the day before, in a far away county and converged
toward the "Hugging Rock". As her Stake President said "this was no accident.". For the party
and Tanya to be at the precise place to meet with the converging water was no accident. For
Tanya to be taken in the manner she was, at that precise moment was no accident. This was part
of the plan. Testimonials from people whose life Tanya Touched
At the grave side we started singing church songs. Every one was reluctant to leave so we sang
song after song. T-Jay stood up and said "Don't stop, it sounds like angles singing. It was
perhaps one of the most spiritual times of the funeral. We were sure Tanya was singing with us.
Georgene had insight about Tanya's mission on the other side of the veil. Both Tanya's sides of
the family are submitting names by the thousands to the temple. For every one whose name we
provide proxies for, there has to be a conversion on the other side of the veil, or the work is
not valid. Tanya will be teaching members of our families over there, so they can accept the
proxies work we do on this side of the Veil. About 14 years ago I had an experience in the
Dallas Temple, a vision had been opened to me to remind me of the numbers of people who
were waiting on me to submit their names. A means has been provided so they may hear and
accept our Hevenly Father's Plan over there.
Tanya Visits The Callens
Tanya's friend Cherri Callen, had a spiritual experience. She could hear Tanya singing off and
on for several weeks after her departure. The words of the song giving reassurance. The
message was "I'll see you again when Spring breaks through" and "I wonder when He Comes
Again-will all the world know Spring". She brought an assurance that she would see them soon.
Cherri and the girls had been especially distraught. Molly's life had been touched by Tanya as
she gave a sympathetic ear. Molly considered Tanya her best friend. Now Father sent Tanya to
Sabrina loses her Missionary
Sabrina, concerned about whether Tanya had been hurting as she went, prayed for help to know.
A white personage appeared in her room. She was frightened and dove under her covers,
praying for it to go away. It did, before Sabrina could determine that it was Tanya. However
Father did not leave Sabrina without comfort. She knew of all the experienc