Carie Nielson and Kandace Eral of La Verkin, Utah


Carie Nielson and Kandace Eral of La Verkin, Utah

Carie Nielson (11) and Kandace Eral (12) of La Verkin, Utah, love exploring the area where they live. “The desert has many interesting things to discover,” said Kandace. “You just have to be willing to get out and look for them.” The lava hillside behind their home is a perfect place to start. The girls have found ancient arrowheads and fossil vertebrae. Not far from their home on Hurricane Hill they found petroglyphs made by the Anasazi Indians.

The girls like to include their younger sisters on some of their exploring trips. Julie (9) and Nila (8) Nielson and Stacha (8) and Tausha (6) Eral are thrilled when they get to go. “Our favorite places have always been Pah Tempe Hot Springs and Bear Cave,” said Carie. “There aren’t really any bears in Bear Cave. We just call it that. There are a lot of bats, though. Stacha and Nila think that they’re cute!”

“Living in the desert is different from living in other places,” said Kandace. “We have red rocks, rattlesnakes, sand, and hot, hot summers—up to 110° F (43° C).” Both girls swim and love to cool off in the Hurricane Pool on hot days. “Or just give me a hose!” said Kandace, giggling.

Carie said, “We have two desert-life specialists in our ward: Brother Russel Bezette and Brother Gary McKell. Brother McKell is a conservation officer, and he’s second counselor in our bishopric. He’s always finding animals and bringing them to school to show us. Brother Bezette is a biologist who works mainly with reptiles like Gila monsters and desert tortoises. The desert tortoise is an endangered species. Brother Bezette is trying to make sure that they don’t become extinct.”

There is a lot to discover about Carie and Kandace too. Carie has three older sister, Merrick (17), Jean (15), and Florie (13), and two brothers, Barratt (16), and Daniel (3). Her father built the house they live in. Carie is a good speller; she placed fifth in the school spelling bee. She also won first place in her fifth-grade class for reading the most books.

“At home we have what we call the ‘Consecutive Club,’” said Carie. “We each read five chapters in the Book of Mormon or, for the younger children, five illustrated Book of Mormon stories each week. If we’ve finished our reading, we get a treat on Sunday. One of us helps Daniel go through his ‘missionary book’ so that he can get his treat. He can already name all the Apostles and recent prophets. We also read the scriptures at night before family prayer, then spend a few minutes memorizing scriptures or poems. Some poems take us a month or more to learn.”

Kandace is an excellent student and was chosen by the sixth-grade faculty as Student of the Month. She has four older brothers, two of whom have been on missions and one who is now serving in the Canary Islands.

Kandace’s mother teaches piano to help support her sons on their missions. Kandace and her sisters take lessons from her too. “I know Justin (14) will go on a mission,” Kandace said, “just like Darrin, Terry, and Bret have. That’s just the way we are. We have scripture study every morning before Dad takes us to school (where he teaches sixth grade), and we go to church together as a family. I think my family is a good example of a family living the way Heavenly Father wants us to live.”

Discovery can come in many forms, and for Carie and Kandace, discovering the right way to live is the most important. Both girls prove it by their examples.

[photos] Photographed by Marsha B. Nielson

[photo] Kandace examines Anasazi petroglyphs on a basalt boulder

[photo] Six friends set out on an exploring trip

[photo] Tausha with a desert tortoise, “Moses

[photo] Enjoying a picnic in the cool cave

[photo] Fossils next to a perfectly round volcanic marble