Tuesday, December 31, 2013

A Masterpiece one brushstroke at a time for 2014

During the week of Christmas Linda and I went to the Sacred Gifts exhibit at the BYU Museum of Art.  I must say that you do not want to miss this exhibit.  You need a ticket to attend the exhibit, but they are free at http://sacredgifts.byu.edu/.  The exhibit features the work of 3 late 19th Century artists, Carl Bloch, Heinrich Hoffman, and Frans Schwartz.  Their work is exquisite and inspiring.  The thing that impressed me was that based on their work it is obvious that each man had a deep and abiding love for Jesus Christ.  I am grateful that they devoted their lives  and talents to helping others come closer to Christ.  It also made me wonder what talent or gift could I share that would help and inspire others to come unto Christ.  Since I don't have the kind of talent that these men possessed I have concluded that the only offering I have is the way I live my life.  Living a life that points others to Christ is similar to painting a masterpiece.  You do it one brushstroke at a time - that is one act of kindness or one good deed at a time.  Our paintings may not be perfect - there will be mistakes along the way, but these can be corrected by properly placed brush strokes - just like master artists do.  I hope my life can become a "Sacred Gift" that will lead others to Christ.

By: Richard Noble

Sunday, December 29, 2013

What's Most Important in 25 words or less

General Relief Society Meetings are a wonderful time for the sisters of our church to listen to satellite messages prepared especially for them. It seemed that the General Meeting on September 23, 1995 would be just another ordinary meeting. But what we heard that night was anything but ordinary.  Though given over 18 years ago, it seems like yesterday when for his message, our late prophet, President Gordon B. Hinckley read The Family: A Proclamation to the World. Our hearts were tender as the prophet reiterated our church's stand on the issue of family and parental rights and responsibilities. As he ended his proclamation, many remembered wanting to stand up and cheer for such a declaration prepared not only for us but for the entire world.

On that monumental occasion we were scattered in Relief Societies all over the globe. And since that night, we have worked individually and collectively to implement the principles taught in that document. In turn our own families have been strengthened and blessed as have countless other families. As we study the Proclamation we are reminded of the responsibility we each have to future generations. In the sixth paragraph, it states, Husband and wife have a solemn responsibility to love and care for each other and for their children. Children are an heritage of the Lord. (Psalm 127:3). Parents have a sacred duty to rear their children in love and righteousness, to provide for their physical and spiritual needs, and to teach them to love and serve one another, observe the commandments of God, and be law-abiding citizens wherever they live. Husbands and wives mothers and fathers will be held accountable before God for the discharge of these obligations.

Now together as the Cedar Hills 10th Ward Relief Society, we recently discussed the Proclamation in one of our Sunday meetings. We talked about the blessing of having a loving family and of the words we can use to express that love. We heard a story that was told in the October 2008 General Conference by our current prophet, President Thomas S. Monson. In his address about Finding Joy in the Journey, he told the experience of Jay Hess, an airman who was shot down over North Vietnam in the 1960s. The story was repeated recently by the current Primary General President, Sister Rosemary M. Wixom. She said, For two years his family had no idea whether he was dead or alive. His captors in Hanoi eventually allowed him to write home but limited his message to less than 25 words. Wanting to provide something his family could recognize as having come from him and also wanting to give them valuable counsel, Brother Hess wrote the following words: These things are important: temple marriage, mission, college. Press on, set goals, write history, take pictures twice a year.

In our lesson we answered the same question, What would you and I say to our families if we were in the same situation as Jay Hess not having seen them for over two years and not knowing if we would ever see them again? Here are our responses.

Keep your covenants.  Love each other. Serve the Lord. Nurture your testimony. Count your blessings daily.  Always remember to pray.  Remember how much you're loved!  (Lauana Allen)

Never give up. Pray always.  Families are forever & everything.  Together unstoppable.  Smile. Laugh.  Be believing.  Trust in God.  Love everyone.

Continue doing the good things you are doing.  Be supportive of one another.  Lift each other to higher places.  And remember we're an eternal family.

Remember who you are.  Remember where you came from and be faithful in where you are going.  Hold to the Iron Rod.  Trust in Christ.  (April Schultz)

Remember who you are; remember this life is a short test; remember to use your eternal perspective and remember how much I'll always love you!  (Amy Hafen)

Remember who you are!  Give freely.  Love unconditionally.  Simplify.  Count your blessings. Make your blessings count.  Love the Lord.  Love yourself.  I love you eternally!  (Amanda)

I love you with all my heart and hope that someday we will all be together in the Celestial kingdom.  (Nola Smith)

Remember: love one another, be kind, keep covenants, work hard, read scriptures, be true to self & God, laugh, you are loved.  (Kelly Ericson)

Build lasting relationships.  Stay close to the Lord.  Honor the priesthood.  Attend the Temple regularly.  Live life to its fullest.  I love you!

The gift of love last forever!  Take time to give that gift to those in your life!  Families can be together forever!  (Maureen A. Varney)

Love the Lord with all your mind, heart and strength and love everybody around you.  Read the scriptures.  Keep the Sabbath Day holy.  Pray always.  (Consuelo Briones)

Love now:  the Lord, family, those in need.  Be close to the Spirit.  Remember you are love. Make the Temple a priority.  (Erin McLerran)

Say I love you every day to your family.  Be a good friend.  Pray always.  Get a good education. Slow to anger.  Exercise faith.  (Julie Hambly)

You are my sunshine.  Remember who you are.  Look upward reach outward stand a little taller.  Keep smiling.  Love you more.  (Renee Jeffrey)

Remember faith, hope, charity.  Love one another.  Endure to the end.  Pass on the family history & photos with great emphasis.  (Ann Alton)

Respect your parents & family.  Be good & active citizen in your country.  Be protective of what you value.  Be grateful and show it.  Love God.  (DeAnn Nielsen)

Remember who you are and if you will keep the commandments you will always be happy.  You are loved and valued beyond words.  (Louise Wilhite)

The Gospel is true.  Have faith that whatever happens, Heavenly Father knows best.  Cherish your children and family times together.  Remember I love you always.  (Jan Curtis)

The Church is true.  I love each one of you.  Stay close to each other.  Serve others.  Serve the Lord  - Missions.  Be content & be grateful.  (Mary Vance)

Be nice to each other.  Read.  Pray.  Fast.  Keep God close.  Be happy & take care of Chauncey forever.

I love you so much.  (Emilie Campbell)

Love each other.  Lift each other.  Support each other.  Be LDS in all you do.  Read Scriptures. Be honest.  God will protect.  (Carole Ferguson)

Dont sweat the small stuff.  Be happy.  Smile.  Be nice to each other.  I love you.  The Lord Jesus Christ love you.

Love God.  Pray for guidance.  Be forgiving.  Be kind to yourself and others.  Do not be afraid to live your life.  Love you always.  (Jacqueline Burgess)

Keep your privilege of the Church.  Honor your Priesthood.  Be valiant in your testimony of Christ and know that I love you without measure.  (Dorothy Bryson)

Love another & let the little things go.  Remember that you are loved by a Father in Heaven and also by your earthly family.  (Diane Scruggs)

Live the gospel.  Love the Lord/each other.  Serve others.  Live so we can all be together eternally.  No empty chairs.  Im proud of you! (Susan Curtis)

Dearest Family: Stay in contact with and love each other. Remember, I will love you always. Follow the Savior. He knows the important things to do. (Shirley Condie)

These are important to me: Testimony, College, mission, Temple marriage, keeping covenants, spouse, parents, children, grandchildren, faith, love God and others, do your duty. (Janice Fuller)

I am a Child of God

This past month our Ward Primary, children between the ages of 3-11 put on a program about this year’s theme: “I Am a Child of God.” These children sang and talked about the importance of their relationship with God. As we were writing the program we felt led by the Spirit to know what to write. We feel it is very important for our children to know they are never alone, that they are actually a spirit son or daughter of God who loves them and wants them to succeed in this life.
The statement “I am a child of God” applies to all of us. We hope that each of us, young or old, can always remember this. We’ve told the children that if they can only remember one thing, remember that they are a child of God!
We know these things to be true and are so grateful to have the opportunity to work with these wonderful children.
– The Cedar Hills 10th Ward Primary Presidency

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Some thoughts about the Prophet Joseph Smith

December 23 is the 208th anniversary of Joseph Smith’s birth. As the founder and first Prophet leader of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latterday Saints he led a life of extraordinary accomplishments and experiences, most of which were written about extensively at the time.

Even though he had only 3 years of formal schooling at the age of 24 he published an over 500 page book that he translated from ancient plates which he said had been given to him by an angel. That he had such plates can hardly be disputed as eleven men gave sworn testimony that they had seen the plates and the engravings on them. It is true that three of those were members of his own family and one was a neighbor but the remaining seven were men whom he had never met until they heard about his experiences and became interested enough to investigate. That same year Joseph organized the church which now has a membership of over fifteen million.

During the following 14 years before his martyrdom he directed the church, sent out missionaries, wrote extensively and oversaw the building of two temples. He also founded the city of Nauvoo, Illinois which was as large as the city of Chicago at his death.

My great grandfather’s family lived close to Joseph and Emma Smith in Nauvoo. He attended the same school as their children and was baptized by Joseph Smith. Before his death he dictated a brief history of his life which included the following: "I have seen the Prophet and heard him preach many times. I have seen him on parade ... at the head of the Nauvoo Legion. ... He was the handsomest man on horse back or in any other position that I ever saw. He was a very jovial, sociable man. He loved children. If he would find some boys playing ball he would stop and take a hand a short time." I am sure he agreed with Brigham Young, who said: "I feel like shouting hallelujah all the time, when I think that I ever knew Joseph Smith."

by Nola Smith a Mormon Great Grandma

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Praise to the man Art Bailey

Last night a good man passed away. After a year long bout with several complications, arising from the residual effects of open heart surgery last January, Art Bailey graduated into the next life. Art Bailey was a true friend. I got to know Art, as we served together in the Heritage Park Branch, of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints for three years and as neighbors.

The branch consisted of approximately 75 elderly individuals, residing in the Charleston Assisted Living Center in our neighborhood. Art and his wife Kay, along with Kurt and Noriko Whitlock, Robert and Dorothy Bryson, Bruce and Susan Curtis, Robert and Donna Brown and my wife Christine and I, had the rare privilege of serving the spiritual and temporal needs of those wonderful elderly, but that is a topic for another time. I want to talk about Art and things that really matter in life.

From time to time, I would take the time to discuss with Art many of the whys of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, as well as things of life in general. As I would ponder and think about some of the deep things of life, I would often share some of my thoughts and perceptions with Art, knowing his vast experience and knowledge of Gospel topics. Our discussions were always enlightening and helped to solidify in my own heart and mind, some of the perceptions I had.

When I think of Art, I can't help but think of things I have come to learn and comprehend in life. It has taken me a long time to understand some important things about life and about the Gospel plan. Some of the things I have come to learn and come to value are also some of the traits I found in Art.

The Savior, Jesus Christ, gave all of us an invitation. First, to come follow Him and second, "What manner of men ought you to be? even as I am." As He went about doing good, the Lord often told others to "go and do thou likewise.

These admonitions were from a loving Savior, who knew that if we were to follow His example, our lives and the lives of others would be enriched. The life of the Savior demonstrated His single minded effort to do the will of His Father in Heaven and to lift and to edify those about Him.

In a very similar way, Art did just that. All of my interactions with Art were uplifting and enriching and I always came away a better person because of them. The same thing could be said of the others we served with in the assisted living center, as well as many of those elderly we served. I say served, but the truth of the matter is, they did more for me than I ever did for them, for which experience I will ever be grateful.

I have witnessed in the life of Art Bailey, as well as in the lives of others, some basic truths. First of all, it doesn't matter how gifted one is, or how intelligent one is, or how attractive one is, or how many resources one has. Everyone can lift and edify others. As stated by President Uchtdorf, we should lift where we stand. In other words, no matter what our situation in life is, we can lift and help others. Lifting and serving others is so much more important than the many other things we could pursue in life.

This is reminiscent of what the prophet Nephi in the Book of Mormon warned us about. He told us not to pursue four traps in life, the seeking of power for the sake of power, the seeking of riches for the sake of gain, the seeking of popularity and the lusts of the flesh.

Such trappings are the typical tendencies of the natural man and as the Lord admonished us, the natural man is an enemy to God. We take none of the things accumulated by such pursuits in life with us to the other side, but we do take what we have become and the value of our service to others, things that neither moth nor rust can corrupt.

Art is one of those individuals who took the admonition of the Lord to heart, he went about doing good. The same could be said of others with whom I have served and come to know.

I will miss our conversations and I will miss our association, but I am happy for Art, as he most assuredly has been welcomed home by so many he helped in life. I am sure Art is one who will hear the words from the Savior we all hope to hear someday, "Well done thou good and faithful servant.

Why am I a Mormon?

That’s pretty easy to answer: because my parents were.
The better question: Why do I STAY a Mormon?

I stay a Mormon because I need the power of Jesus Christ to change my nature. That enabling power, which most Christians call "grace", is best accessed in the Church of Jesus Christ. In my experience, Grace or power from God is the only thing that can really change what a person is. Not willpower or good intentions or anything else devised by men.

I stay because I feel uplifted and happier by my association with others as fellow disciples of Christ in my local congregation. Whether serving youth, or whatever I am asked to do, I always feel good about it. Staying a Mormon gives me a network in which to serve and be served by others. Boh are things I need.

I stay a Mormon because it helps me find the good in myself and avoid more of the bad. I need that help keeping the bad elements pushed back. On my own I would wear down and crumble and devolve into darkness. But the gospel of Christ that I get in my church keeps me pointed the right direction.

I stay a Mormon because I know that God spoke to me via his Spirit and told me that He really did appear to Joseph Smith in 1820. I don't just believe; I know it to be a verity. When I feel like I don't want to make the efforts I do make, I cannot deny that I know Joseph Smith saw God. And I also know that I am responsible for my actions because of the knowledge I possess. So I go on.
So that is why I stay a Mormon.

 -Mark Robins


Sunday, November 24, 2013


I was impressed with the comments of Sister Susan Curtis on Relief Society (see October13th entry “The Blessings of Relief Society: All I ever really needed toknow I learned in Relief Society”.  If you haven’t read it you should take the time to do so.  When I first read it, my memory leaped back 43 years, when I was first called to serve as a Bishop.   When I was called I felt it important to review some of the callings in the ward.  Some individuals had been serving for years in the same positions, and there were many others who would benefit by a new assignment.  The changing of a Bishopric provides an opportune time to seriously think about how the ward, and individuals, might be blessed anew by making some changes.
            The Bishopric was new and wanted to make certain that any changes made would be in the best interest of the ward and for the individual members of the ward.  We approached this task prayerfully.  We didn’t want to disappoint or discourage anyone, but felt that there could be exciting new growth opportunities for many. 
As we followed our impressions the Holy Spirit spoke, and the message and direction came very clear to me, that the calling of a new Relief Society President in our ward was, bar none, the most important of any changes we were contemplating.  There would be other changes coming, but the first and most important calling at that time was selecting the Relief Society President.  It was unmistakably clear to me that “as the Relief Society went, so went the ward.”  Just as the mother in the home brings a perspective and sensitivity to the home, so does the Relief Society do for the ward.  I felt keenly the Relief Society President, along with those who would be called through her inspiration, would be the heart and the soul of the ward.  If things were right in the Relief Society, many challenges within the ward, and within many families, could be avoided.  This is what happened.
            A few years later I was called as a Stake President to preside over a stake consisting of married students.  Again I had exactly this same impression.  The most important calling was selecting a good sister who would teach, and be a role model, for these eager young wives and mothers.  I felt the Relief Society to be the instrument to provide the heart and the stability in these relatively new families.  We searched valley wide and it became clear when the appropriate sister came to our mind.  Fortunate for us she was made available by a responsive stake president who felt the same as we did, and could see that she was the one needed in this assignment.    
            On a more personal note, seven of our first nine years of marriage were spent as students.  By the time I finished my graduate studies “trek” we had four of our six children.  I don’t ever recall that I let my studies, or graduate school commitments, interfere with my wife attending Relief Society.  In fact I could always tell when it was time for her to “be off” to Relief Society.  In our ward, where a large number of families were graduate student families, a weekly meeting for the Relief Society was held on a week-day night.  I would often say something like “well, I can tell that it must be time for you to go to Relief Society.”  My wife would come home thrilled with the opportunity of being with her sisters in the Gospel, receiving instruction, and being uplifted and rejuvenated from just being there.  She was ready for another challenging week of demanding children, graduate student poverty, and an often stressed out graduate student husband.  What a blessing Relief Society was for me, our children, and for her.    
            Thanks Susan for the reminder of the blessings which come to a family from Relief Society.  I hope that my observations about the importance of Relief Society will be a reminder to Priesthood holders to support and encourage their companions to attend Relief Society and attendant functions.  And to the good sisters, if my personal experience is worth anything, you will experience many returns by embracing the wonderful sisterhood of the Relief Society.

By: John R. Cragun 


God's Tender Mercies

Some years ago I was in Japan on a two week business trip. After many business meetings and many hard contract negotiations, I was ready to come home. I remember feeling spent spiritually and found myself on my knees praying to Heavenly Father for guidance and assistance. I prayed for an experience that day which would bring the Spirit into my life. I knew I had a long day ahead of traveling and hoped it would be a day of joy and encouragement.

My trip home started by traveling by bus for over an hour from my hotel to the Tokyo Narita Airport. I would then fly from Tokyo to Portland, Oregon, go through customs, and then take a final leg by plane to Salt Lake City, Utah. I boarded the bus and picked out a seat by the window and took from my briefcase my scriptures with the intent of reading them on the way. The bus would make one stop at Shinjuku Station and pick up more passengers before proceeding to the airport. As these passengers boarded the bus, the seat next to me and the seat across the aisle were two of a few seats open. A young teenage girl sat down next to me and an older woman, her mother, sat down across the aisle.

Soon after leaving Shinjuku Station, I fell asleep. Some time later I awoke to the smell of fish and the crinkling sound of newspaper. The young Japanese girl had just finished her lunch of some fish which had been wrapped in newspaper. She then proceeded to take a book out to read. I glanced over and noticed the Kanji characters and marveled on the complexity of the written Japanese Language. She then turned the page and to my amazement I saw a picture that I knew. I instantly recognized the large man of stature standing in water in the act of baptizing another man. It was Alma baptizing in the Waters of Mormon!

With great excitement I pointed to the picture and said "Book of Mormon" in my best English with a Japanese accent. I then pointed to my scriptures and said: "This is my Book of Mormon." Her eyes grew wide with great excitement and in her personal best English asked if I was a Mormon. I said yes and her excitement grew ever higher. For the next hour we chatted about the gospel and the Book of Mormon. Here was a sixteen year old girl heading to her cousin's wedding in Hawaii. She had met with missionaries and was reading the Book of Mormon in preparation to being baptized and becoming a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Upon arriving at the airport we parted ways and said goodbye. I couldn't help reflect on how the Lord had blessed me with an answer to my prayers by having one person in 50 million sit next to me with a Book of Mormon that contained a picture that I would recognize. What a sweet tender mercy!

I then proceeded to the gate for my flight. I boarded as soon as possible and sat in a window seat preparing to take a long nap as we flew across the ocean to the United States. I was quite tired and i fell asleep soon after sitting down. Some time later I awoke to find a Japanese girl in her early twenties sitting next to me. Not long thereafter she began to read a book and I pulled out my scriptures to read as well. I then noticed as she turned the page a picture of a muscular man in a cave setting holding what appeared to be golden plates. This was the picture of Mormon! She was also reading the Book of Mormon!

Again I pointed to my scriptures and told her I also had a Book of Mormon. I then found out she was going to Utah to live with a sister missionary that taught her the gospel. Her desire was to live with her and prepare to serve a mission a year later. Her English was good. She had studied in the USA and attended a college in St. George, Utah where she met missionaries from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. They taught her about the gospel of Jesus Christ. She then went back to Japan and looked up the Mormon missionaries, proceeded to learn more and eventually was baptized.

It takes nearly 22 hours to travel from the hotel to my house in Utah. For nearly that whole time the Lord placed in my path two sweet Japanese sisters who had a great love for the restored gospel of Jesus Christ. As an answer to prayer, He placed in my path people who lifted my spirit and helped bring His Spirit in to my life. I am so grateful for the tender mercies of God.

By: Kevin Curtis

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

"Mormon Helping Hands"- not just a church program but a way of life.

         In 1830 about 6 people met in a small farmhouse and organized the Church of Jesus Christ of Latterday Saints, often called the Mormon Church. Just sixteen years later, after much persecution and the murder of their leader Joseph Smith, about 14000 members were driven out of their homes and made the approximately 1,000 mile trek across the great plains to what later became the state of Utah. Here they established settlements which became towns and cities throughout the area. This great feat could not have been accomplished without divine leadership and much personal sacrifice.
        Although our church is still relatively small, we are now able to assist not only our own members but others who are suffering throughout the world. Some rather unique programs have been instituted to enable us to do that in an effective, organized way. For many years members of the church have observed "Fast Day". On the first Sunday of each month we abstain from two meals and make a donation called a "Fast Offering" which is used exclusively for humanitarian purposes, mostly within the church. In 1985 two special fast days were observed and more than 6 million dollars was raised for famine relief in Africa. That same year the church inaugurated the "Humanitarian Services" program for the express purpose of relieving suffering during times of emergency and addressing the needs of the chronically poor throughout the world. Every dollar that is donated to this program is used to help those in need without regard to race or religion. Most of the administration and distribution of this aid is done by volunteers and the church absorbs overhead costs. Since 1985 one hundred and seventy nine countries have received aid through this program.
         For many years church leaders have recruited volunteers from their congregations to provide assistance when there was a need in their communities or in communities near by. Recently groups of Mormon volunteers in South America who went out to serve began wearing yellow t-shirts with "Mormon Helping Hands" printed on them. In 1998 church authorities adopted these symbols church wide as a way of identifying Mormon volunteers. Hopefully it indicates that they are from a reputable institution, while also making more people familiar with our church. This year my son and his 16 year old son wore those t-shirts as they traveled from Rhode Island to spend some weekends helping the victims of Hurricane Sandy.
        This is a very brief and probably over simplified explanation of LDS charities. You can learn more and also read how the church is helping in the Philippines on the church website.

by: Nola Smith, a Mormon Great Grandma

Friday, November 15, 2013

Message From a Burning Bus?

Anciently, Moses received a message from God as He spoke from a burning bush.  Could I likewise get a message from a burning bus?

Right now I live within walking distance of the Mt. Timapnogos Utah Temple.  The Temple and the work that goes on there (special ordinances/sacraments for ourselves and our ancesters) were not always so convenient for our family.  In the late 80’s and early 90’s as we lived in Tampa, Florida, the nearest temple to us was the Atlanta Georgia Temple, which was about 450 miles away.  To make it easier for Stake members to get to the temple, every two or three months the Stake would arrange a temple bus trip where we would charter a tour bus for the weekend and make the trek to Atlanta.  We would meet at 9 pm on Thursday night at our Stake Center.  After traveling an hour north we would pick up some of the outlying members of our Stake and then settle in for an 8 hour trip to Atlanta.  We would do our best to sleep on the bus Thursday night.  Friday morning we would get to the hotel at about 6 am, change into Church clothes, and then spend the entire day in the Temple.  We would sleep in the hotel Friday night and then be back in the Temple by 6 am the following morning.  After doing Temple work until about noon, we would make a quick trip to the LDS bookstore and then head back home, getting back late Saturday night.

One of these bus trips my wife and I took was very memorable.  It was a wintery February, 1990 night and we were just a couple hours out of Tampa when a passing trucker flagged down the bus driver and had him pull off into an approaching rest area.  The back of the bus was on fire!  As it happened, we were sitting near the back of the bus and many of the older and more feeble members of our Stake were right at the front.  As we tried to wait patiently for these older people to “hurry” off the bus, visions of exploding buses from the movies raced through our heads.  We finally decided we could not wait for an orderly exit so we opened the bus window and jumped the 8-9 feet to the ground.  Everyone made it off the bus safely and some of the luggage was even rescued.  A volunteer fire crew from a nearby town eventually showed up but they were more equipped to fight a “brush” fire than to fight a “bus” fire and they were not able to help.  The entire bus burned to the ground.

I don’t know if this was the Adversary making it hard for us to go to the temple that night or just one of those things that happens with life.  But as we stood shivering in that rest area on that cold Florida night, many without any of their carry-on baggage (money, coats, Church clothes, Temple Recommends, etc.) we had a decision to make – do we wait for a replacement bus and try to salvage this temple trip or do we just go home and try again next time?  Logic would probably have said to just give up this night and try again next time but to a person, everyone felt compelled to continue on, in spite of the challenges it posed.  We did continue on and with some sharing, lending money, and generous accommodation by the Atlanta Temple workers, we ending up having a very spiritual, uplifting, and productive temple trip.

This experience is often at the back of my mind as I now live much closer to a temple.  Does my effort today to get to the temple match the effort required at that time to get to the temple?   Are temple visits ever put off to a “more convenient” time?  As Bishop of our ward I am blessed to be able to see the sacrifices so many of our members are making to serve in and attend the temple.  Many of our youth go to the temple often to do baptisms and confirmations – some of them every week.  It takes real sacrifice for a teenager to get up at 4:30 or 5:00 in the morning to go to the temple before school or to take a couple of hours out of their busy day in order to serve there.  On the other end of the age spectrum, many of our faithful ward members in their 70’s and 80’s are actively spending their retirement years serving in the temple as either patrons or ordinance workers.  One faithful brother in his 90th year is still working at the temple each week. 

I hope that my effort to go the Temple matches that of our youth and our older ward members and matches that of a bus-full of Florida Church members in a lonely rest area in the middle of a wintery Florida night.

By: Bishop Bruce Curtis

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Missionary with a great companion

A few years ago I was seated by a gentleman in a flight from Salt Lake City to Dallas.  As is often the case it didn’t take long before we were engaged in conversation.  After some casual talk I learned that he was a Scientologist, and he learned that I was a Mormon.  Before long we were talking about our beliefs.  Questions were forthcoming from each of us.  Much to my satisfaction I had in my briefcase, under my seat, a copy of the most recent General Conference edition of the Ensign.  I pulled it out and used it as a basis for our discussions about Mormonism.  It was an extraordinary visual aid.  I wrote internet addresses and phone numbers on the reverse side of the magazine.  I also provided information as to how I could be contacted, along with my invitation to do so.    I was also able to get his contact information. 

Being familiar with some of the talks, and by looking at the photos it was possible to draw his attention to topics specific to questions he had,  In addition, using the Ensign as a reference, and as a visual aid, it was possible to introduce topics and easily talk about many different things, including such things as:

  •          Families
  •          Temples
  •          The worldwide nature of the church
  •          The growth of the church.
  •          The Choir
  •          Priesthood authority and revelation
  •          The leadership and organization of the church (The Presidency, the Quorum of the Twelve, the      Seventy)
  •         Who the prophet is, and how he is called
  •          Jesus Christ and the Atonement
  •         Missionary work
  •          Priesthood, the Relief Society, and the other auxiliaries
  •          Our beliefs as shown in the Conference Topics index
By: John Cragun