“We use all of our creativity, storytelling, and technology innovation to help tell their stories—to help them achieve what they’ve come to do, whether it’s a sales meeting or whether it’s an incentive meeting,” Malquist said in an Orange Observer article. “We can provide anything and everything for them, from audiovisual to entertainment to the room decor to special experiences in all the parks.”“Trying to create this arena that normally houses all of these sports experiences—and I was just there for my daughter’s graduation, and they did a wonderful job with that—we need to transform this through the colors, through the music, and through the setting and through the visuals that are all on the screens to turn it into an extension of one of our churches or one of our temples,” he said.With this background, he now has the rare opportunity of transforming the Amway Center from a sports arena into a place for 17,000 people to feel the Spirit and listen to President Nelson.Malquist is anticipating this experience to have a great impact on those who attend. He hopes that the people who come are uplifted and feel they are changed in some way.“Imagine getting a call saying that Moses or Noah or Abraham was going to come and speak to people, and you’re being asked to help set that experience up—that’s the level, that’s the joy and the humbleness that we have and the reverence that we have for our modern-day prophet, just like we read in the Bible,” Malquist said. “That’s the magnitude of this.”In preparation for President Russell M. Nelson’s June 9 ministering visit to Orlando, Florida, Ken Malquist of the Lake Reams Ward is using his gifts and talents for storytelling and stage production to make it the best experience possible for those who come to hear the prophet’s message.Read the full story on the Orange Observer.As a show director for Disney Event Group at Walt Disney World, Ken Malquist creates and hosts private events for companies and families who seek an experience only Disney can provide.
“We have long standing cooperative relationships with the Committee on Religious Affairs and other government officials in Vietnam,” said Elder Gerrit W. Gong of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. “We appreciate those relationships continuing and deepening with the visit of this important delegation.” Senior Church leaders hosted a delegation from Vietnam, headed by the Vietnamese Committee for Religious Affairs, in Salt Lake City on June 4-6. President Russell M. Nelson and his counselors in the First Presidency, President Dallin H. Oaks and President Henry B. Eyring, met with Mr. Vu Chien Thang, chairman of the Committee for Religious Affairs in Vietnam; Mr. Nguyen Hu’u Tuan, director of the Department of Personnel and Organization, Ministry of Home Affairs; Mr. Nguyen Duc Vinh, director of International Relations Department; Mr. Nguyen Phong Thinh, head of General Administration-Statistic Office; and Mr. Dao Huy Cuong, Protestant Department specialist. Senior Church leaders hosted a delegation from Vietnam, headed by the Vietnamese Committee for Religious Affairs, in Salt Lake City on June 4-6.Senior Church leaders hosted a delegation from Vietnam, headed by the Vietnamese Committee for Religious Affairs, in Salt Lake City on June 4-6. Senior Church leaders hosted a delegation from Vietnam, headed by the Vietnamese Committee for Religious Affairs, in Salt Lake City on June 4-6. Senior Church leaders hosted a delegation from Vietnam, headed by the Vietnamese Committee for Religious Affairs, in Salt Lake City on June 4-6. Senior Church leaders hosted a delegation from Vietnam, headed by the Vietnamese Committee for Religious Affairs, in Salt Lake City on June 4-6.The delegation included Mr. Vu Chien Thang, chairman of the Committee for Religious Affairs in Vietnam; Mr. Nguyen Huu Tuan, director of the Department of Personnel and Organization, Ministry of Home Affairs; Mr. Nguyen Duc Vinh, director of International Relations Department; Mr. Nguyen Phong Thinh, head of General Administration-Statistic Office; Mr. Dao Huy Cuong, Protestant Department specialist.Chairman Thang thanked Church leaders for Latter-day Saints’ desire to honor and obey the law and for their many positive contributions to society in Vietnam. Elder Gerrit W. Gong of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles meets with Mr. Vu Chien Thang, chairman of the Committee for Religious Affairs in Vietnam. Senior Church leaders hosted a delegation from Vietnam, headed by the Vietnamese Committee for Religious Affairs, in Salt Lake City on June 4-6.During the meeting with the First Presidency, President Russell M. Nelson thanked the delegation for religious freedom in Vietnam and emphasized its importance, said Elder Gong. The focus on family and family values is something shared deeply by those in Vietnam and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, he said.The delegation met with the First Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints—President Russell M. Nelson, President Dallin H. Oaks, and President Henry B. Eyring—and visited Welfare Square, Temple Square, the Family History library, the Provo Missionary Training Center, and Brigham Young University. The delegation participated in meetings with government, religious, and academic leaders in Utah.
An overhead view of Tom Holdman adjusting pieces for them “Come Unto Me” art glass installation created for the Rome Italy Temple visitors’ center. Photo by Tom Holdman.An exterior view of the windows to the celestial room of the Tijuana Mexico Temple. Photo by Tom Holdman.Sharing details of the windows they produced for the Memphis temple, the Holdmans described how they made use of the pawpaw flower, native to the eastern U.S., and how the windows change with varying lights.
Tom Holdman poses while inspecting the recommend desk window for the Lima Peru Temple before it is shipped for installation. Photo by Tom Holdman.The window of the celestial room at the Palmyra New York Temple from outside the temple. This custom window features an interpretation of the tree of life. Photo by Tom Holdman. A skylight in the celestial room of the Boise Idaho Temple. Photo by Tom Holdman.
Workmen raise the madonna lily windows to install on the Paris France Temple. Photo by Tom Holdman.
A view of the custom windows on the recently renovated Memphis Tennessee Temple seen from the outside at night. The windows feature the pawpaw flower. Photo by Tom Holdman.But when it comes to modern stained-glass installations, both Utah and the Church are gaining recognition. For Tom and Gayle Holdman of Holdman Studios, located in Lehi, Utah, stained glass—or art glass as they refer to it—is making a ‘comeback’ in the art world and they are happy to be part of the reawakening.Looking at the pawpaw flowers, which are featured prominently on all of the windows of the Memphis temple as vine-like borders as well as center pieces, it’s amazing to see how different the cranberry color looks as the light changes.“When you walk into the temple, you realize that you are walking into a special space and that you can open up your soul and ask for inspiration from a higher power than your own,” Tom Holdman said, explaining why he and his wife feel passionate about contributing their work to those sacred buildings.The way the colors change is one of the Holdman’s favorite things about the Memphis temple.“The pawpaw flower has a rich cranberry color in it,” Tom Holdman said. “To get that color, the cranberry color comes from gold ore.”Each project is approached first by learning about the agriculture of the area and then speaking to local members. From there, along with the team of Church designers, architects, and artists working on the temple as a whole, they share ideas with one another for what design concepts they want to include or highlight throughout each individual temple and each art glass installation. Each temple has its own unique design and, while the Holdmans use recurring themes like the tree of life, each temple design allows their use of gospel themes to be presented in new ways.“We feel that a temple should reflect the Saints that will be the patrons of His holy house,” Tom Holdman said. “Then we gather inspiration from the culture and mother nature around us.”When someone mentions the beauty and art of stained glass, the first thing that comes to most people’s minds likely has more to do with Europe and Catholicism than it does with Utah and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.“They look completely different at night with the artificial light coming out,” Gayle Holdman said. “When you’re in the temple and it’s the natural light (from the sun coming in) they almost look pastel. But then in the evening when you’re seeing it from the outside they almost look like they’ve kind of turned into the fall pallet of those same colors. They’re a little bit warmer. But it’s all the same glass, just depending on the light and what’s happening outside and inside.”The glass is there to enhance the beauty and experience for those attending the temple, Gayle Holdman said, but “ultimately, we don’t want people to get so caught up in what the glass means that they forget why they’re there.”For Tom Holdman, the stained glass stands out as an important item not only because it is his area of expertise, but also because it is the only part of the temple that can be seen from the inside and the outside, he explained.“In the evening time, they just really glow,” Tom Holdman said.“Our job is to create something that is kind of familiar for [people] that will help them feel at home in the house of the Lord,” she said.That’s what makes their work on temples different from any of their other commissions as artists, Gayle Holdman explained. And that’s why they love it.As of May 5, when the Memphis Tennessee Temple was rededicated—following 18 months of renovation, including the design and installation of custom glass art windows—Holdman Studios has either designed and fabricated, or done restorative work on the stained glass window features for 90 of the 163 temples around the world; with another 10 temples currently on their docket as well.On a truly good piece of art, the artist will leave a piece of their soul, Tom Holdman said. “And as a member of our faith, it’s an honor to be able to do art glass, which harnesses and magnifies the light of God, that I may share it with others.”
A view of the custom windows on the recently renovated Memphis Tennessee Temple seen from the outside at night. The windows feature the pawpaw flower. Photo by Tom Holdman.On the Paris temple, for example, the Holdmans said that each room had its own flower that was incorporated into the window designs, and on the temple in Rome every window was unique.“We’re just this teeny little piece … but seeing the pieces come together in the right time and in the right way over and over again, it’s just little miracles that remind me, this is real. There is a real ability to connect with God when it comes to making and keeping sacred covenants,” Gayle Holdman said.The windows, she explained, are different than the curtains which were often used in earlier temples because they allow for more light to flow through while still providing for the sacred nature of privacy. And for Gayle Holdman, the color and light that the windows produce enhances the sacred experience.
An art glass installation in the Paris France Temple visitors’ center titled “Consider the Lilies of the Field.” Photo by Tom Holdman.In a recent interview with the Church News, Gayle Holdman explained how, in her experience, many people think of stained glass as a dying art. “Even when we began doing it, people didn’t see it as an art. It was thought of as a craft,” she said.“I love being able to see how it doesn’t matter where in the world a temple is, what color skin anyone has, what language we speak, we are all children of God and the temple covenants are the same,” she said. “And the reality of the Savior, of His Atonement, of His priesthood power, that is just confirmed with every opportunity that we have to help bring the temple closer to His children and see the blessings in their lives.”In the long process of building temples, from the initial purchase of land through to the dedication by a prophet of God, the Holdmans play just a tiny role. But it is a role they love to fulfill because it brings them closer to God.Although their Utah studio may not reflect the gothic and renaissance vibes so often associated with art glass, looking at the work that Holdman studios has done around the world, it is apparent that their work can hold its own against even the windows on the great cathedrals of Europe in size, scale, quality, and detail. But for the Holdmans, the true beauty meaning of their work comes from its message of light.Explaining their process for creating the individual and unique designs for each temple, Tom Holdman said they try to pull inspiration from the landscape and culture surrounding each temple.“We’ve been blessed to do an art form that can speak so much through light and because we are children of light, we respond to it,” Gayle Holdman added, explaining that her favorite part of their work on temples is being able to see how people respond to it when they see it for the first time. Meeting the members who live and work near the temple and seeing their reactions as they witness something that was created for their use, which reflects their culture and environment, is a touching experience the Holdmans look forward to each time they visit one of the newly completed temples.Because of the addition of gold, the cranberry color used for the Memphis Temple is some of the most expensive stained glass artisans can use. “So you choose carefully how you use it,” Gayle Holdman said.Yes, there is actual gold mixed into the glass to produce that color, Gayle Holdman added.
Sister Reyna I. Aburto, Second Counselor in the Relief Society General Presidency, greets a BYU-Idaho student following a devotional held on June 4, 2019. Photo by Brooklin Larson, BYU-Idaho.So how does one cultivate these divine relationships? Sister Aburto gave five principles to consider:Human beings tend to build a shell around themselves to be protected from harm. While it’s good to discern between good and evil, Sister Aburto said, “I wonder if we just go too far—to the point where we prefer to isolate ourselves instead of opening up for friendship and for love.”Cultivating relationships is a decision, Sister Aburto said. Everyone decides whom to put effort into and whom they won’t. “We can all use our agency to be more intentional in cultivating our divine relationships with God and our neighbor,” she said.5. Pray for love and be patient BYU-Idaho students enter the BYU-Idaho Center on June 4, 2019, for a weekly devotional. Photo by Brooklin Larson, BYU-Idaho.Sister Aburto asked the students to not give up on their faith, their efforts to live the commandments and get closer to God, or their efforts to develop love for others.“Be patient with yourself and with the people around you.”“They strengthened me and they gently invited me to come unto Christ,” she said. “They exemplified what it looks like to have pure, Christlike love.” Sister Reyna I. Aburto, Second Counselor in the Relief Society General Presidency, greets a BYU-Idaho student following a devotional held on June 4, 2019. Photo by Ericka Sanders, BYU-Idaho.“Our relationship with God and our righteous relationships with others are all divine, and they can help us become what we came to this earth to become,” she said. “They can help us to be the best self each of us can be and to fill the measure of our creation.”“Jesus Christ is the perfect example of how to cultivate divine relationships,” Sister Aburto explained. He has a close relationship with His Father, shown by the way He respects and honors Him and always follows His Father’s will.One by one, her friends testified about the law of tithing, counseling her to pay her tithing before paying her other bills, and allowing Heavenly Father to open the windows of heaven and pour blessings on her and her family. Rather than judging her, pointing fingers at her, or being self-righteous, Sister Aburto’s friends had a genuine concern for their friend and wanted to help.“They listened to me intently and lovingly, and all of a sudden, the room was filled with the Spirit.”“President Nelson has invited us to gather Israel on both sides of the veil,” she said. “If we are to accomplish ‘the greatest challenge, the greatest cause, and the greatest work on earth today,’ we need to labor together at the individual level; at the family level; as members of the divinely organized priesthood quorums and Relief Societies; interdependently as members of our wards, stakes, and the Church as a whole; and under the direction of priesthood keys.”2. Repent and minister“We did not come to this earth to be isolated.”Sister Aburto testified that connecting oneself with a quorum or Relief Society “helps us be part of the most important work there is.”4. Be active participants in priesthood quorums and Relief SocietyEveryone is learning to love, to love better, and to love Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ. Students wait outside of the BYU-Idaho Center for the weekly devotional to begin on June 4, 2019. Photo by Brooklin Larson, BYU-Idaho.Love for God and His love for His children is an enabling power, Sister Reyna I. Aburto, Second Counselor in the Relief Society General Presidency, taught during a BYU-Idaho devotional on June 4.Additionally, she explained, “when we repent, our love for others grows, and when we minister to others, our love for God grows.”Spending too much time and effort building that shell runs the risk of distancing oneself from the influence of God and others on one’s life. This goes against the nature of the gospel of Jesus Christ, she said.This teaching demonstrates the importance of learning to love God and one’s neighbor.He also loves each one of God’s children, “manifest in the way He approached those who came close to Him during His ministry on this earth and in the way we can feel His influence in our life when we turn to Him.” Sister Reyna I. Aburto, Second Counselor in the Relief Society General Presidency, meets with BYU-Idaho students following a devotional held on June 4, 2019. Photo by J. Lawson Turcotte, BYU-Idaho.3. “Get out of your shell”To love someone specific, one needs the desire to get to know him or her and spend time together, preferably face to face, Sister Aburto said. “Likewise, to love Heavenly Father and the Savior, we need to read the scriptures and the words of the prophets, who testify of Them; we need to pray with real intent; we need to fast; and we need to follow the commandments so our life can be aligned with God’s will.”One evening while with a group of friends, she felt impressed to express her desire to pay a full tithe.Relationships need time to grow and to give fruit. She explained that many of her BFFs (best friends forever) didn’t seem to start with strong compatibility, and it took three years after meeting her husband, Brother Carlos Aburto, before they realized they could start a family together.Sister Aburto counseled students to turn outward instead of inward. “We become stronger and we grow when we help others and also when we accept the help of others.”Repenting and ministering work together because they fulfill the commandments to love God and love one’s neighbor. Repenting brings one closer to Heavenly Father, and ministering brings one closer to one’s neighbor, causing love to grow for each.Sister Aburto shared an experience she had soon after joining the Church at 26 years old. As a divorced single mother, finances were tight and she was unable to pay a full tithe for a few years.1. Follow the example of Jesus ChristThe Savior is always ready to “lift us up, every time we reach for Him,” Sister Aburto said. “His grasp is strong enough to sustain us and to give us the strength to endure.”The Lord has promised that those who keep His commandments will receive of the fulness of the Father, which includes eternal life. During His mortal ministry, Jesus Christ summarized the commandments, saying, “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself” (Matthew 22: 37-39).
“Love, hope, and the power of community when that is present,” Guinup said. “That’s the mission of the choir.”Someone new comes almost weekly, and “when someone walks into the door, they feel that love immediately upon entering the door,” she said. “That’s probably the thing that I’m most proud of, is that we’ve gotten to a place where everyone feels empowered to be part of this movement of welcoming.”As members and participants of the Tacoma Refugee Choir filter into their practice room and form their typical singing circle, Guinup said she is never really sure who will show up. Their open-door policy means each of their weekly practices is different—but it matters little. Everyone is a friend and everyone belongs, she said.
Members of the Tacoma Refugee Choir greet each other during a rehearsal. Photo courtesy of Erin Guinup.With Refugee Awareness month beginning in June, Guinup expressed her excitement for TRC’s upcoming concert and looking ahead to what the choir will do next. As she transitions to running the nonprofit full-time, she expressed a nervous excitement.Learning how to start a nonprofit from the ground up proved to be a steep learning curve, Guinup said, but she noted that every time she had the desire to quit or give up, members of the choir would remind her why she was doing it and why it was important.The impression to form a refugee choir kept coming to her, she explained, but she felt she didn’t know where to begin. “I mean, God might as well have asked me to build a boat,” she said with a laugh, recalling how she didn’t know a single person who was a refugee at the time.“It’s a miracle that this organization has grown the way it has,” she said. “It’s nothing short of a miracle, and I’m really just so honored that this was something I was asked to do.”In January 2017, the group was officially launched as the Tacoma Refugee Choir, and Guinup began dedicating more of her time to the choir. By August 2017, she began raising funds to turn the choir into an official nonprofit organization.“There is no way I would be doing this if the Spirit wasn’t guiding me. It is too hard,” she said. “The very first thing I knew as a member of the Church—that we teach our nursery children—is that I am a child of God, and I feel that. I feel such a strong testimony of my Father’s love for me and of His love for all of His children and that is something that I can reflect to others. I think that’s why people come back, is that they feel the love in the room. They feel that sense of community and everyone needs that.”“The Tacoma Refugee Choir changed me,” said Mohamed Bangoura, a choir member from Guinea, who spent much of his youth in Cambodia before coming to the U.S. “When we’re singing, it’s like we’re praying for God to enjoy. Everybody loves each other there and we can help each other out.” The Tacoma Refugee Choir sings on stage during one of their performances.People can accomplish so much when they are given a leg up, Guinup said. “The refugee members of our choir are some of the most inspiring people I’ve ever met. They are people who have overcome horrific tragedies and have used that to become their strengths. Their weaknesses have truly become their strengths.”Bangoura and Bajinya, both long-time members of the choir, have a sense of belonging because of the community they have formed and people they can turn to when they are in need of support, Guinup explained. Members of the Tacoma Refugee Choir during a performance.
Tacoma Refugee Choir participants take a selfie together after a performance. Photo courtesy of Erin Guinup.Feeling she had accomplished what she had set out to do, Guinup thought that would be the end of it. “I thought this was a small project and I didn’t know how much more I could do,” she said. But after their first performance in September 2016, a choir member named Zamo, from Kurdistan, asked Guinup when they were meeting again. Trésor John and Erin Guinup lead the Tacoma Refugee Choir in a performance. Photo courtesy of Erin Guinup.Pulling from the lyrics of an original song composed by members of the choir, including Bajinya, Guinup said, “Everyone can love someone and everyone needs love. It doesn’t matter where you’re from, we all need love.”A new kind of family“He had never sung before, he had been in the country for four months, and he was like, ’This is my family, when are we getting together again?’” Guinup said. She then realized what the community she had formed meant to people and that she needed to keep going.As general conference weekend approached, Guinup prayed she would receive answers to her questions, but she was surprised by how strongly an impression came to her.Relying on faithOne of Guinup’s favorite choir moments came when a Congolese woman with very limited English said, after her first night with the choir, that it had been her best day in America.“It made me cry,” Guinup said. “I thought how simple is it to turn the tide for someone? It’s so simple, and sometimes we make it so hard.”“This is a big step of faith for me. I’m going to be centering on prayer a lot to make this happen, but I feel like it’s time. It’s time to make the leap,” she said. Abou and Keala, members of the Tacoma Refugee Choir. Photo courtesy of Erin Guinup.After contacting the TCH director, Guinup worked with the organization to plan a six-week choir program that would welcome refugees, immigrants, and community members to come together and sing. The program would culminate with a performance during National Welcoming Week that September.But in truth, every member of the choir serves to inspire one another. The Tacoma Refugee Choir at a performance. Photo courtesy of Erin Guinup.During the process of forming the choir and turning it into a nonprofit, Guinup said she has relied heavily on her faith.Bajinya has been an inspiration for Guinup since the day they met. “When I was struggling so hard with the choir, Nathalie was the one saying, ‘Erin, we need this, you can’t give up.’ And she pushes me to be a better person. I am a better person because of her,” Guinup said.While the TRC itself is a secular organization with no church or religious affiliation, Guinup said she has made no secret that her faith and relationship with God is a large reason for why she started the organization and the message of love and welcoming that it represents. It’s a secular space informed by sacred things, Guinup explained, noting that her faith informs everything she does.Standing in as family for those who don’t have family around them, the choir regularly throws baby showers for members, Guinup said, noting that when Bajinya gives birth in the next month or so, the choir will welcome its sixth baby since it started. Members of the choir additionally support one another by attending events like graduations and weddings.“I have often felt that anytime I can take lessons from my experience in the Church and apply it to this organization, it makes it a stronger organization,” Guinup said.But she figured she needed to start with the basics, so she looked up local organizations that worked with refugees and immigrants and began reaching out. That’s when she found the Tacoma Community House.“At the time I just thought, ‘Wow, what an amazingly cool thing,’” Guinup said. “But during that conference session, I felt very moved by the speakers and the counsel to do something local in our community.”“There is a very family-oriented feel to Tuesday nights,” Guinup said.For Nathalie Bajinya, a refugee from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the choir is what gave her a sense of belonging after coming to the United States.“What people don’t understand is that when we come here from other countries, it is hard. It is hard here to make friends,” Bajinya said. “So when I found the refugee choir, I found friends. I found family, you know, because it was the first time I had anyone.”The conference session featured a number of messages about refugees, Guinup recalled, noting the choir that performed at the women’s session of conference included many refugees. (See related story.)When she had the idea to start the choir three years ago, Guinup said she could never have imagined where it would lead, but she is grateful for the things she has learned and the people she has been able to teach and learn from since then. Members of the Tacoma Refugee Choir take a selfie following one of their performances. Photo courtesy of Erin Guinup.The support helps people forget about their difficult pasts, Bangoura explained. “People stop thinking about the past, and it makes you feel not worried about your life and that everything is going to be better,” he said. “People have a lot of friends there and the potential to help you, whatever you need, because there, whenever you need anything, people will help.”“The idea was that, like at that [general conference], refugees and community members would come together to create this welcoming space where we could be supportive of one another,” Guinup said. But as that first week of rehearsal began, not a single refugee had turned up, and Guinup was filled with disappointment.Three years ago, in March 2016, Guinup faced a lot of questions. As her children moved away from home, she was entering a new stage in life as an empty nester, and she wanted to know what God had in store for her next.For many, the choir provides a sense of family and community that they wouldn’t have otherwise, Bajinya explained. “Most refugees, they miss [a sense of community] but in the choir it’s easy to talk to anyone,” Bajinya said. “Community is something important. We encourage each other. We need each other, and that’s what one of our songs says, is that we all need each other.”Taking action“Then, in the last 30 minutes of our time together, two women walked in and the energy in the room completely changed,” Guinup said. The two women, Sudanese refugees, were just the first. By the end of the six weeks, at least seven countries were represented in the group of about 22 participants, Guinup said. “So I felt really successful about that and I thought we did our part.”Turning the tide by welcoming strangers as friends is what the TRC is all about, Guinup said. In the two years since the choir was officially formed, it has evolved, but their purpose and mission has remained the same. The Tacoma Refugee Choir stands in a circle during one of their rehearsals. Photo courtesy of Erin Guinup.Initially, she said, she considered volunteering to teach English classes—something she had done earlier in her career. “But the very clear impression came that what I needed to do was something like the music that was on that program,” she said.With a singsong voice, Erin Guinup begins nearly every Tuesday evening with a vocal warm-up singing, “Hello friend, how are you today?”
Quoting from the Church’s “The Family: A Proclamation to the World,” Elder Cook explained that Latter-day Saints believe “parents have a sacred duty to rear their children in love and righteousness, to provide for their physical and spiritual needs, to teach them to love and serve one another, to observe the commandments of God, and to be law-abiding citizens wherever they live.”“It is a sacred place,” he said, “honored by three great monotheistic religions—Judaism, Christianity, and Islam.”Speaking to an audience of students, faculty, staff, and friends at the Brigham Young University Jerusalem Center for Near East Studies in Israel on June 5, Elder Cook was joined by Rabbi Michael Melchior—a Jewish leader, Orthodox rabbi, and chief rabbi for Norway—for the semiannual Jewish-Latter-day Saint Dialogue.
Elder Quentin L. Cook speaks to an interfaith group at the semiannual Jewish-Latter-day Saint Dialogue at the BYU Jerusalem Center on June 5.Adding his own fourth commonality between the faiths, Elder Cook shared data from a study done by the Gallup organization some years ago ranking Latter-day Saints and Jews at the top of what they labeled as the “Well-Being Index Composite Score.”The third commonality noted is the strong commitment to charitable giving. Such interests, carried out through international humanitarian efforts, serve to make the world a better place for all, not just those of faith.Noting the reasons listed for why Latter-day Saints were ranked at the top of the list, Elder Cook said researchers cited the following: a pro-social orientation, a focus on family, a sense of purpose and meaning in life, an understanding of autonomy and agency, and general physical health. Rabbi Michael Melchior, chief rabbi of Norway, speaks at the semiannual Jewish-Latter-day Saint Dialogue at the BYU Jerusalem Center on June 5.He added: “In my mind, I can imagine the tears shed as a result of the Shoah or Holocaust. He is a God of empathy who does not have a hand in what causes the suffering. He is the Great Consoler.”Of Abrams’ list, Elder Cook added commentary to only three of the commonalities before adding one of his own to the list.The influence for good that the teachings of the Bible have had throughout history are undeniable, he explained. Protections for religious freedoms are a crucial part of continuing that good.Citing examples, such as the Magna Carta, where the teachings of the Bible have crossed into influencing the secular rule of law, Elder Cook said, “I see a direct line from the Hebrew Bible through English law to democratic societies today.”As a result of their shared teachings from the Bible, Jews and Latter-day Saints have “the highest sense of well-being in the United States,” he said.Such teachings, recorded in the Bible several millennia ago, have played a crucial role in shaping and influencing the teachings of historical leaders, both religious and secular, he noted.Before concluding, he shared one doctrinal understanding which he said “provides Latter-day Saints with a distinctive view of God.”“Each has a fundamental focus on family; each places a very high value on education; each has a strong commitment to charitable giving; ... each has a history of disproportionate success due to ability, hard work, and determination; and each has been subjected to fierce persecution and prejudice.”The first commonality, the fundamental focus on families, stems from the Bible and the doctrine of the first commandment given to Adam and Eve to multiply and replenish the earth, Elder Cook said.He quoted Robert Abrams, a four-time attorney general of New York and member of the Jewish community who has worked with The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in the past to facilitate interfaith dialogue, on commonalities shared between the Jewish community and Latter-day Saints.The second commonality, the high value placed on education, is something that Latter-day Saints believe deserves their best efforts, he said. As such, the Church puts significant resources and energy into making high-quality education accessible and affordable.With the historic and iconic backdrop of the Old City slowly darkening under the setting sun behind him, Elder Quentin L. Cook of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles said his mind focused on the people, the land, and the shared history of all those who honor Jerusalem as the Holy City.“Think for a moment of the two great commandments,” Elder Cook said. “‘Love the Lord’ and ‘love your neighbor.’ These profound teachings represent the highest ideals and make the world a much better place.”He explained that revelation given to Joseph Smith—found in the Pearl of Great Price—indicates God is empathetic and His children’s misery and suffering cause Him to weep.Elder Cook said he told Abrams that “although Latter-day Saints had suffered persecution and prejudice, there is no analogue, in all of history, to the Shoah or Holocaust, and there is no comparability to it.” Elder Quentin L. Cook of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles shakes hands with Jewish students on the evening of his June 5 address at the BYU Jerusalem Center.“It is important for us to gather, talk, share, and discuss matters of the heart and mind,” Elder Cook said, noting that both Jews and Christians continue in modern times to apply the ancient and timeless principles and teachings of the Hebrew Bible to live better and more fulfilling lives.He also noted Latter-day Saints have long admired the Jewish community’s commitment to education. “In every sphere of learning, the Jewish people have not only excelled but also have helped expand the boundaries of knowledge that have blessed the world.”Elder Cook expressed his gratitude for the two communities’ willingness to seek understanding and build respect for one another. “It is a time to listen to one another and learn from one another,” he said of the event. With the panoramic view of the Old City visible through the background windows, the semiannual Jewish-Latter-day Saint Dialogue is held June 5 at the BYU Jerusalem Center.“To me, this scripture provides a window into God’s heart, mind and soul,” he said of words found in Moses 7. “[God] is our living, loving Heavenly Father, and we are His children … . He weeps with us as we suffer and rejoices as we do what is right in His sight.”The gathering—an event now in its third year—centered on the importance of religious freedoms, open interfaith dialogues between the two religious faiths, and the commonalities of interests between Latter-day Saints and Jews.
The Music and the Spoken Word broadcast is available on KSL-TV, KSL Radio 1160 AM/102.7 FM, ksl.com, KSL X-stream, BYU-TV, BYU Radio, BYU-TV International, CBS Radio Network, Dish Network, DirecTV, SiriusXM Radio (Channel 143), and on the Tabernacle Choir’s website and YouTube channel.Everyone’s heartache and disappointment is different, but we all have one thing in common: the power to choose our response. We can’t choose whether or not we will be hurt, but we can choose whether or not we will heal. In fact, we might say that life is a never-ending series of moments to choose—each and every day—how we will respond to life’s pleasant and unpleasant surprises.Some might say that layoff defined this man’s life, but that’s not entirely true. He is far from the only person who has ever suffered a setback like that. What defined this man’s life was what he chose to do about his unexpected disappointment. Now, while being laid off is never easy, think how his life could have been happier if he had been able to see his layoff differently. What if he had sought help and support and moved forward with his life? Instead of asking, “Why me?” what if he had asked, “What can I learn from this? How might this disappointment help me become a better person?” He still would have felt pain, but a hopeful, positive approach to the future would have helped him heal and move on. Instead of being “the start of anger,” the day he was laid off could have been the start of a new opportunity and a wiser, happier, more compassionate life.Tuning InEvery life is different; the only predictable pattern is that all of us experience a mix of joy and sadness, happiness and heartache—usually occurring unpredictably. No matter how carefully we plan, setbacks—large and small—can disrupt our plans. We settle into a good job, a relationship, a neighborhood, and then life surprises us.Some time ago an elderly man passed away, and as his friends and loved ones looked back on his life, they wondered why he often seemed so angry. Then, while sorting through his personal belongings, his family found one of his work pay stubs from long ago. Across the top of it he had written, “The end of a good job with good pay! The start of anger and ‘Why me?’” The handwritten outburst seemed to connect some dots for them. He had been laid off from that job, and apparently he never really rebounded from that disappointment. For more than 30 years, he carried bitterness in his heart. As a result, he closed himself off to others, shutting out their light and love.Editor’s note: “The Spoken Word” is shared by Lloyd Newell each Sunday during the weekly Tabernacle Choir at Temple Square broadcast. The following was given June 2, 2019.The program is aired live on Sundays at 9:30 a.m. on many of these outlets. Look up broadcast information by state and city at musicandthespokenword.org.
“But on the flight home from Boise I started crying because I realized that was where I wanted to go; it was where I needed to be even though I had always thought I would stay in Utah,” she said.But each athlete shares something in common that’s perhaps not evident at first glance:Laura began learning more about the gospel and was eventually baptized. “Being able to help her was a big testimony building experience for me. I realized I had a testimony of my own.”Each plays a different sport for different universities. They don’t even compete in the same element: Abbey (Boise State swimming) is in the water, Charlotte (Wyoming soccer) is on the grass, and Avery (Navy volleyball) plays on a hardwood floor. Latter-day Saint athlete Abbey Sorensen is congratulated by her Boise State teammates following a successful race. Photo courtesy of Abbey Sorenson.Size up Abbey Sorensen’s personal, religious, and athletic profile and you have a fairly typical Brigham Young University athlete.There were occasional challenges—but Charlotte is accustomed to being on teams where her Church affiliation made her an anomaly.
Latter-day Saint athlete Avery Stowell enjoyed a championship plebe season at the United States Naval Academy. Photo by Phil Hoffman.The returned missionary now looks forward to her final year of college soccer. She recently finished her undergraduate degree in kinesiology. And with three YSA wards in Laramie, Charlotte has made plenty of Latter-day Saint friends on campus.Standing out“I knew I wanted to be there,” she said.She’s also enjoyed success in the pool. After earning honorable mention All-America honors in 2017, Abbey was the 2019 Mountain West Conference Swimmer of the Year. She claimed conference titles in both the 50-meter freestyle and the 200-meter backstroke, as well as being part of eight relay championship teams.Plebe year at the United States Naval Academy is tough because, well, it’s supposed to be.As a Division 1 athlete, Midshipman Avery Stowell also dedicates several hours each day to training and competing. And during the season, she’s playing catch-up on classwork she missed traveling to away games.
Latter-day Saint Charlotte Hume plays soccer for the University of Wyoming. Photo courtesy of Wyoming Athletics.Yes, being an Academy student-athlete is a time grind. But like any Latter-day Saint student, Avery makes a choice to read her scriptures and to attend church, institute, and weekly family home evening gatherings as often as possible.“Being able to care for people and to have the light of Christ shine through me by caring for them is something that’s important to me. Being a nurse will allow me to do that.”Still, she battled a bout of nerves when she broke the news to her coach, Pete Cuadrado, that she had decided to serve a mission. She worried her scholarship and her spot on the team were in peril.Her advice for young adults who find themselves living in areas with few Latter-day Saints?The young women’s experiences are not really unique. Any member who has lived or worked or studied someplace where being a Latter-day Saint is a curiosity will likely recognize their challenges—and their frequent opportunities.Collegiate athletes Abbey Sorensen, Charlotte Hume, and Avery Stowell have never played against one another. They never will.Laboring in the Ecuador Guayaquil North Mission “was the best experience of my life—I wouldn’t trade it for the world.” Learning a new language was rough in the beginning. She would sit in discussions and understand few words. But after much prayer, fasting, and study, the once-daunting Spanish language—with all its rolling Rs—became part of her lexicon.Laura respectfully declined, at least initially.She’s quick to credit her coaches, teammates, and advisors for supporting her academic goals. Most Division 1 college athletes wouldn’t consider studying nursing because of its demanding classroom and clinic schedules. But the Bronco swimming staff allowed Abbey to often train on her own so she could participate in the school’s nursing program.One of her freshman roommates had never met a Latter-day Saint. Others on campus had faulty understandings of the Church.
Latter-day Saint Avery Stowell plays volleyball for the United States Naval Academy. Photo courtesy of United States Naval Academy.But each day she chooses to live gospel principles.Abbey, Charlotte, and Avery are all active Latter-day Saints competing on teams where their religious affiliation makes them minorities.“It was a big adjustment—but in the best way,” she said. “I realized I couldn’t lean on everyone else and I couldn’t expect everyone to believe the same way I did. I had to stand up for my beliefs when they were challenged and explain myself in ways that I hadn’t done before.”She also discovered missionary moments. She remembers sharing her testimony with another freshman roommate, Laura Williams, and inviting her to join her at the young single adult ward.A lifelong member and a native of Yorba Linda, California, Avery initially had little interest in relocating to the Atlantic Coast and attending a service academy.She points to her two grandmothers for placing her on the path to becoming an oncology nurse and, eventually, a nurse practitioner. She remembers watching her maternal grandmother, Pat Jacobsen, gently tend to others as a nurse. She also witnessed the compassionate care her paternal grandmother, Genele Sorensen, received from many nurses during her battle with cancer.She’s also grateful for her fellow Latter-day Saint midshipman and Church military missionaries that are always looking out for her.She was challenged to make that daily decision by Navy football coach Ken Niumatalolo, who also presides over the Annapolis Maryland Stake.From the beginning of her college career she’s felt “supported and respected” by the Wyoming program.Here’s a time-tested remedy for little girls “afflicted” with massive levels of energy: Find her a soccer ball and a pair of cleats—and then let her run, run, run.But the Wyoming Cowgirls coaches liked her talent and tenacity and offered her a scholarship. After getting to know the Wyoming staff and players, “I just took a leap of faith and I ended up loving it.”She quickly learned Boise was a bit different from her hometown. There are plenty of Latter-day Saints in the capital city, but Abbey was a religious minority on campus and on the swim team.“I was really aggressive, so my parents knew it was the right sport for me,” she said, laughing.It worked for Charlotte Hume. The daughter of gymnasts, the Colorado girl found a natural fit in what is sometimes called “the beautiful game.”“I met with Coach Niumatalolo before committing to Navy,” she said. “He simply told me that I would make a choice every day to either live the gospel—or fall away from the gospel.”“I had always seen myself playing at BYU; that’s all I had ever known,” she said.During her recent senior season, Abbey enjoyed having two Latter-day Saint teammates on the Bronco squad—including Laura.A unique opportunityShe grew up a BYU soccer fan and attended several camps in Provo, finding mentors in several Cougar players. Despite growing up just a few hours away from Laramie, she never gave much thought to playing for the University of Wyoming.But after visiting the storied school, she was hooked on the culture and camaraderie defining the Brigade of Midshipman.They simultaneously represent their respective schools and their shared faith.“But he was totally supportive and excited for me,” she said.She was welcomed into an “instant family” on the volleyball squad, where she is the only Church member.Freshmen at the service academy in Annapolis, Maryland, endure a grueling academic load (calculus, chemistry, cyber security) all while adjusting to military life and its many rules and regulations.The lifelong member grew up in the Salt Lake Valley and claimed three Utah state swimming titles at Riverton High School. She was planning on being a Cougar. Her recruiting visit to Boise State seemed a mere afterthought.Several of the Cowgirls players are from Australia—and Charlotte was the first Latter-day Saint they had known. She often invites teammates to church, “and sometimes they come.”
Wyoming’s Charlotte Hume, left, battles for a soccer ball with a player from the United States Air Force Academy. Photo by Ted Brummond.Her charge to share the gospel reached from South America to the Cowboy State. She included her Wyoming teammates and coaches in her weekly email home, telling them about her experiences of sharing the gospel with the Ecuadorian people.Abbey added it was invigorating learning from teammates and classmates. “It expanded my testimony of the gospel and my perspectives on the rest of the world.”Avery’s maiden season on the Navy volleyball team was replete with memories. The Mids claimed the Patriot League title for the first time in almost two decades before making their initial appearance in the NCAA Tournament.“The team is so open and accepting and you can go to any other player with concerns,” she said. “We know we are there for each other.”An unexpected turn“I’ve had opportunities that I would not have had at any other school.”And rather than feeling isolated, each athlete is accepting President Gordon B. Hinckley’s invitation to be “kingdom builders”: “I invite every one of you, wherever you may be as members of this church, to stand on your feet and with a song in your heart move forward, living the gospel, loving the Lord, and building the kingdom. Together we shall stay the course and keep the faith, the Almighty being our strength” (“Stay the Course—Keep the Faith,” Ensign, Nov. 1995, 72).“Being able to talk to them about what they are experiencing, and about their own faith trials and about their own highs and lows is really important,” she said. “Having that support system is so beneficial.”For the first two years in a Cowgirl uniform, she was the only member of the Church on the squad. (Fellow Coloradoan and Latter-day Saint Savannah Warner was added to last season’s roster.)“Then one Sunday I went to church and there was Laura with one of my friends from the track team.”“Most of my friends, for years now, have been nonmembers,” she said. “I’m not afraid to share my beliefs. I’ve loved being on a team where I’m the only member because I know people will ask me questions. I have opportunities to share my beliefs.”Such openness means Avery’s often answering questions from teammates and fellow Mids about her religious convictions. Many ask if she is a Christian. She realizes she’s an example. Others are always watching.“You can’t stop reading your scriptures every day, saying your prayers every day, and going to church. Try to increase your faith in Christ, and never be afraid to stand out. Look for ways to serve and share the gospel through your actions.”
“They, in the main, are a credit to the Church and an inspiration to these other Christian people who are their allies.”In the July 8, 1944, Church News, Elder Brown wrote of his impressions from London, England, following D-Day:
Hugh B. Brown was a member of the Canadian forces during World War I. The remarkable stories of his experiences in the war were the subject of his sermons in later years. Photo courtesy of L. Tom Perry Special Collections, BYU.Although the troops have been provided with the best equipment current science could produce, “our greatest assurance is based upon the fact that from general to private, from admiral to seaman, from king and president to the man in the street the allies undertake this task with a prayer on their lips, with trust in their hearts and with a firm conviction that they fight for freedom and not for conquest.“‘D-Day’ in Britain as in America was a day of prayer and intercession. When victory comes let us remember on whom we relied and as nations try to be worthy of that victory. Let us pray that in the peace which follows there may be ‘charity for all and malice toward none.’”During World War II, Hugh B. Brown—who would later serve as a General Authority, an Assistant to the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, and a member of the First Presidency—was appointed as the coordinator of Latter-day Saint servicemen while serving as president of the British Mission. He had served as a major in the Canadian army during the previous world war and traveled extensively in his assignment to servicemen, offering them counsel and encouragement.In watching the troops move down the coast to be transported by “their brothers of the navy” and protected by air forces, Elder Brown wrote, “One seems to sense a gentle minor chord of humility harmonizing with a major chord of faith and he himself is lifted up, and strengthened.”“On the morning of June 6, just after the announcement was made that the invasion had indeed started, I went into the city, to Piccadilly Circus, Leicester Square, Trafalgar, down White Hall, past Downing Street and on to Parliament Buildings and Westminster,” Elder Brown wrote. “There was no shouting or noise, no strutting or boasting, no evidence of a sudden release of suppressed excitement, no crowds or knots of people on the streets, in fact nothing out of the usual every day business-as-usual attitude. But as I approached Westminster and later St. Martins in the Lane and St. Paul’s Cathedral I found that great crowds had assembled, crowds from all classes of society and upon going into these historic places of ancient worship I found thousands on their knees in silent supplication.”Seventy-five years ago, on June 6, 1944, more than 150,000 Allied ground troops landed along a 50-mile stretch of coastline to fight Nazi Germany on the beaches of Normandy, France. The D-Day invasion, formally known as “Operation Overload,” successfully breached the German defense and allowed Allied forces to liberate Europe.The letter was signed, “Greetings and best wishes to all, Sincerely, Hugh B. Brown.”Elder Brown goes on to commend the Latter-day Saint servicemen: “The attitude of our men in the forces testifies to the fundamental soundness of the homes from which they come and provides an inspiring report from the laboratories where they have been tested.
In 2000, Fortaleza Latter-day Saints rejoiced with the dedication and opening of the Recife Brazil Temple, considerably closer than the temple in São Paulo but still about 500 miles and an 11-hour drive away. Up until 2019, the city of Fortaleza and the state of Ceará have been part of the massive temple district that includes 80-plus stakes and districts in north and central Brazil.And gesturing in the direction of Fortaleza’s new temple, he added: “Now, we’re going to see if the results will come.”
A full inside part of the January 4, 1966, edition of the Correio do Ceará—one of several newspapers in Fortaleza, Brazil—feature the new missionaries of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints serving in the city. Photo courtesy of John M. Beck.But the local Latter-day Saints—those who have lived through the early struggles of a branch, a district, and then a stake—a temple isn’t seen as an accomplishment as much as a new beginning.While the Cintra-Beck gathering had been planned for some time, what came as a surprise, however, was the appearance of Antonio Ferreira, who with his parents and siblings comprised the first family baptized in Fortaleza earlier in 1966. Baptized at age 16, Ferreira now lives in Natal, Brazil, 435 kilometers (270 miles) south of Fortaleza; many of his family and descendants spread throughout the country are active Church members. Elder John Beck and Carlos Cintra stand in Lake Messejana in Fortaleza, Brazil, preparing for the latter’s baptism on December 31, 1966. Photo courtesy of John M. Beck. A view from Fortaleza, Brazil, toward the coastline of the Atlantic Ocean in 1966, when the city of 650,000 had no high-rise hotels and apartments lining the beaches, as the city of nearly 4 million does today. Photo courtesy of John M. Beck.A typical temple-caravan trip from Fortaleza to São Paulo consisted of three days’ travel to arrive, three days in São Paulo, and then a three-day return.When Elder David A. Bednar of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles came to preside over the November 15, 2011, groundbreaking at the temple site, the number of stakes had increased to 17. “This temple will be a source of hope, light, and faith in God for all who come here,” Elder Bednar said, adding “the city will always be better and different because of the temple to be built here.”
The four missionaries serving in Fortaleza, Brazil, in 1966. Clockwise from top left, Elder Cordell Finlinson, Elder Craig Evans, Elder John Beck, and Elder Robert Dionne. Photo courtesy of John M. Beck.Fortaleza Mayor Murito Borges, right, greets missionaries serving in the city in 1966—from left, Elder Cordell Finlinson, Elder Robert Dionne, and Elder John Beck. Photo courtesy of John M. Beck.
A newspaper clipping shows Virgilio Tavora, center, the governor of the state of Ceará, meeting with the four missionaries serving in Fortaleza, Brazil, in 1966—from left, Elder Craig Evans, Elder John Beck, Elder Cordell Finlinson, and Elder Robert Dionn. Photo courtesy of John M. Beck.On December 23, 1965, Elders John Beck of Nyssa, Oregon, and Robert Dionne of Meriden, Connecticut, arrived in Fortaleza on December 23, 1965, assigned by their mission leader, President Wayne Beck, who had succeeded President Bangerter and who shared a great-great-grandfather with Elder Beck.Tears of joy, love, and appreciation flowed freely the day before the dedication of the Fortaleza Brazil Temple as longtime Latter-day Saints reunited with missionaries who had served in Brazil’s northeastern port city in decades past.The Church’s first Fortaleza rootsA second stake came in 1983, a third stake the next year, and in 1987, the Brazil Fortaleza Mission was created, with Helvécio Martins—a much-loved leader among the Brazilians and known beyond as the Church’s first black General Authority—as its first president.Not allowed to tract door to door, the elders relied on street contacting and posting banners they had printed up, calling attention to the Church as well as the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. The choir-specific banners, which were popular, often turned up missing. The missionaries also called on the mayor, the governor, and other civic and community leaders.With hotel-room costs starting to cut into their funds, the two went to the local police chief to inquire about possible places to stay. He instead invited them to stay in his family’s home for a period, provided the two American missionaries would help his daughter study English.Today, Fortaleza and Ceará are home to 19 stakes—17 in Fortaleza and its metro area and another two farther inland—as well as two missions and now one operating temple to serve the 90,000 Latter-day Saints living throughout northeastern Brazil.Beck shared his first return to Brazil with his wife, son, and daughter-in-law. And the Cintras once again welcomed the former missionary back into their home as they spent the days surrounding the June 2 dedication reliving the past and catching up to the present.Coming from serving in the regions of São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro more than 2,100 kilometers (about 1,400 miles) to the south, the two elders received a simple directive for working in the new city: find families to teach and baptize and men who could receive the priesthood and become local leaders.Standing before the Apostle and the Brazil Area Presidency, the families introduced themselves—the Ferreiras, the Cintras, the Silvas, and many more—with some now four generations strong in spanning Fortaleza’s half-century of Church existence. One of several banners the missionaries had printed and hung in downtown Fortaleza, Brazil, in 1966. Photo courtesy of John M. Beck. The family of Carlos and Gilda Ferreira, joined by Elder John Beck, are photographed on one of the beaches of Fortaleza, Brazil. The Ferreiras were the first converts in Fortaleza, baptized at different times beginning on May 15, 1966; the family moved from Fortaleza later that year. Photo courtesy of John M. Beck.With the closest Church branch located some 500 miles away in Recife, the two elders started by residing in a local hotel, then going to the local newspaper offices to announce the arrival of Church representatives in the city. The missionaries made front-page headlines jumping to full-page coverage inside—but they still didn’t have a meeting place to provide an address to those interested in hearing their message. Nor did they have a real residence. Elder Robert Dionne, left, and Elder John Beck—presenting a Book of Mormon to the mayor of Fortaleza, Brazil, in 1966—were among the first missionaries to serve in the city. Photo courtesy of John M. Beck. Pausing for a photo by a family member are, from left, Maria Cintra, Lino Cintra, John M. Beck, and Antonio Ferreira on June 1, 2019, outside the stake center on the grounds of the Fortaleza Brazil Temple. The Cintras and Ferreiras were among the first converts baptized in Fortaleza in 1966, with Beck among the four missionaries who taught them. Photo by Scott Taylor.Beck remembers Raul, the 11-year-old son, as the first of the three to be baptized; other children were baptized in subsequent weeks.“It was very difficult,” he recalled, pointing to his wife, Maria. “When the missionaries left, she was crying, she was inconsolable.”Elder Mark E. Petersen of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles created the Fortaleza Brazil Stake on July 19, 1981, as some 1,225 members crowded into the Aldeota meetinghouse, with Orville Wayne Day Jr.—a Utah native teaching at a local university—called as the new stake president, and Silva as the first counselor.
Sharing a tearful reunion are John Beck, left, and Antonio Ferreira, center, on June 1, 2019, in Fortaleza, Brazil. As a missionary in 1966, Beck helped teach and convert the Ferreira family, who were the city’s first Church members. Photo courtesy of Kristy Beck.Maria Cintra pauses for a photo in 1966 in Fortaleza, Brazil. She and her husband, Lino, were baptized that year and were among the first Church members in the city. Photo courtesy of John M. Beck.The June 9, 1978, announcement of the revelation affording the priesthood to be given to all worthy male members ages 12 and older opened up opportunities among the substantial share of Brazil’s population with black African heritage. Much of Brazil’s black population begins in São Paulo and increases dramatically moving into north and northeastern Brazil, especially along the coastal areas. Elder Ulisses Soares of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, right, greets Antonio Ferreria following a meeting with visiting Church leaders and the pioneer members of Fortaleza, Brazil, on June 1, 2019. Photo by Scott Taylor.With the arrival of newly assigned missionaries in Fortaleza, the branch reopened in 1969—never to close again.“It was very emotional, very emotional,” Lino Cintra said of reconnecting for the first time in more than five decades with Beck, who had baptized him and his wife, Maria, in September 1966.Two other families followed during Elder Beck’s tenure in Fortaleza, including the Cintra family, with baptisms then performed in the city’s Lake Messejana, one of the many bodies of water scattered throughout the city.In 1971, the Fortaleza Branch received its first non-missionary branch president—Raul Price. A half-dozen years later, the city’s first chapel was constructed, and also in 1977, Fernando José Duarte de Araújo became the first missionary called from the state of Ceará.A temple for FortalezaConditions then were ripe for Church numbers in Fortaleza to explode, starting in 1979, when the Fortaleza Branch was first divided, with a third branch created from the two later that year.Likely, the most heartfelt tears were those waiting more than a half-century to be shared, as members of two of Fortaleza’s first member families—the Ferreiras and the Cintras—reunited with John M. Beck of Provo, Utah, one of the early missionaries who helped teach and convert them in 1966.Two monumental Church events in 1978 brought immense priesthood and temple blessings along with increased missionary activity—not only in Fortaleza and Brazil but also throughout the world.Besides many such small-group homecomings of former missionaries returning to Fortaleza, the weekend included a number of formal, larger gatherings as well.One day walking in the city, the missionaries noticed a man—with a woman and children in tow—waving at them from across the street. “Where have you been? I saw you in the paper,” Elder Beck recalls the man shouting. “When can you teach us?”As for where the temple stands today in a metropolitan area of some 4 million people, the area 50 years ago was simply undeveloped sand dunes located between the Atlantic beaches and the city of 650,000.As they viewed the October 2009 general conference, Latter-day Saints in Fortaleza heard President Thomas S. Monson announce a temple for their city, which at the time was home to 13 stakes.The Church in Fortaleza stays putEarly on, worship meetings were held in members’ homes, and branch attendance—including visitors participating in Peace Corps efforts in northern Brazil—sometimes surpassed 20 individuals.(With a job change resulting in the Days moving a year later, Silva was called as the new stake president.)“I came to know that my relatives who passed away before—my grandpa, my grandma, others whom I loved—could still receive baptism,” said the 81-year-old Lino Cintra, the patriarch of the Fortaleza Brazil Stake since 2006. “The chance they had to know the gospel was through me and my family.”Consider that in fewer than 400 days, Fortaleza’s district, comprised of 550 members, became a stake of 2,500. That averages to about 170 new members monthly for a year, with most of the six ward bishops having a year or less as members of the Church.The Church then flourishes in Fortaleza“We started from scratch,” recalled Beck, who served the final 13 months of his mission in Fortaleza. “We knew then what the Lord had called us to do.”The missionaries quickly became acquainted with—and started teaching—Carlos and Gilda Ferreira and their children, five of whom were of baptism age. And baptized they were—first the parents and a son on May 15, 1966, the date specifically selected by Carlos Ferreira, since it was the anniversary of the restoration of the Aaronic Priesthood.President William Grant Bangerter, who presided over the Brazilian Mission from 1959 to 1963 and later became a Church General Authority, sent missionaries to Brazil’s northern cities in the early 1960s. Historical notes from the Brazil Area report missionaries being assigned to Fortaleza in 1962 but withdrawn in 1964 because of a lack of baptisms.Within a month of their arrival, the two received companions. More than a dozen new missionaries flying to mission headquarters in São Paulo had a plane stop in Fortaleza. Elders Beck and Dionne were directed to line up the missionaries outside of the plane, pick their new companions, and pull off their luggage. In such manner, Elder Cordell Finlinson of Oak City, Utah, joined Elder Beck, and Elder Craig Evans joined Elder Donne, with the four missionaries needing to arrange new accommodations.More tears, more embraces, more tender expressions with Ferreira’s unexpected arrival—and more photographs, this time in 2019 with smartphones and instantaneous images.However, the Ferreiras moved south to João Pessoa and the second family baptized faded into inactivity, leaving the Cintra family as Fortaleza’s Church members. The missionaries once again were withdrawn for the second time in a half-decade, leaving Lino Cintra to gather his family in their home—alone—to sing hymns, pray, and read the scriptures.
Elder John Beck, left, and Carlos Cintra, middle, stand at the edge of Lake Messejana in Fortaleza, Brazil, prior to the latter’s baptism on December 31, 1966. Photo courtesy of John M. Beck.Elder Ulisses Soares, the Brazilian member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, led a contingent of visiting Church leaders and their wives in a June 1 afternoon meeting hosting the city’s “pioneer members”—to greet, acknowledge, and thank them for their foundational conversions and decades of Church service.The Fortaleza Brazil District—a district and branches being precursors to the formatting of wards and stakes—was organized on July 14, 1980, with Antenor Silva called as district president.
Elder Ulisses Soares of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, left, embraces Lino Cintras following a meeting with visiting Church leaders and the pioneer members of Fortaleza, Brazil, on June 1, 2019. Photo by Scott Taylor.With its October 30, 1978 dedication, the São Paulo Brazil Temple became not only the first temple in the country but throughout the continent. And for Church members in Fortaleza and throughout the nation, temple worship and ordinance work went from being all but an impossible dream to a real possibility—albeit one of great sacrifice in time and money.“He’s still teaching me,” said Cintra of Beck, who taught seminary and institute in Utah, Idaho, and Arizona for 36 years. “He has such a profound knowledge of the Church and its history.”
Timothy R. and SanDee K. CottrellTroy G. Parker, 51, and Jill L. Parker, two children, Molalla Ward, Oregon City Stake: Perú Iquitos Mission, succeeding President José Alfonso Li De La Cruz and Sister Maritza Bustamante de Li. Brother Parker is an Oregon Portland Mission presidency counselor and a former stake presidency counselor, bishop, stake executive secretary, high councilor, stake and ward Young Men president, and missionary in the Dominican Republic Santo Domingo Mission. He was born in Portland, Oregon, to Giles Eslie Parker and Judyth Anne Street Parker.Sister Ingalls is an institute teacher and a former stake Primary and Young Women presidency counselor, ward Young Women and Primary president, ward Relief Society presidency counselor, and seminary teacher. She was born in Wiesbaden, Germany, to Daniel Lester Wagner and Betty Jean Chesser Wagner.Perú Iquitos MissionChile Santiago South MissionSister Parker is a seminary teacher and a former stake Young Women presidency counselor, ward Young Women and Primary president, Primary, Relief Society and Sunday School teacher, and missionary in the Dominican Republic Santo Domingo Mission. She was born in Silverton, Oregon, to Paul James Puffer and Carma Rae Swalberg Puffer.Sister Gehring is a former ward Relief Society and Young Women president, Cub Scout leader, and missionary in the Czech Prague Mission. She was born in Provo, Utah, to Clyde Randall Frehner and Ingrid Marie Ursula Wiese Frehner.
Tina M. and Jacob G. Gehring
Maria Angarita and John N. PalmaZambia Lusaka MissionVenezuela Valencia MissionNoé Domínguez González, 56, and Corina Campos de Domínguez, three children, Alborada Ward, Xalapa México Stake: México Querétaro Mission, succeeding President Steven M. Williamson and Sister Kerma Williamson. Brother Domínguez is a former stake president, high councilor, bishopric counselor, stake clerk, institute teacher, ward Sunday School president, and missionary in the México México City North Mission. He was born in Alto Tio Diego, Veracruz, México, to Aureo Domínguez Barradas and Castula Gonzalez Viveros.
Brent and Laurie WhitingSister Harper is a former stake Young Women president, ward Relief Society, Young Women and Primary president, ward missionary, Primary music leader, and temple ordinance worker. She was born in Preston, Idaho, to Dan Lee Dedrickson and Kathleen Royle Dedrickson Rasmussen.W. Michael Ingalls, 63, and Roxanne W. Ingalls, three children, Eustis Ward, Leesburg Florida Stake: México Chihuahua Mission, succeeding President Jose L. Montoya and Sister Leticia Montoya. Brother Ingalls is a former stake president, stake presidency counselor, bishop, stake mission president, high councilor, and missionary in the Spain Barcelona Mission. He was born in Tacoma, Washington, to Irvin LeRoy Ingalls and Leora Joan Paskins Ingalls.Sister Palma is a seminary teacher and a former stake Relief Society presidency counselor, ward Relief Society and Young Women president, and institute teacher. She was born in Bogotá, Colombia, to Carlos Eduardo Angarita and Berta Beatriz Lores Ruiz.
Noé and Corina Campos DomínguezJohn N. Palma, 47, and Maria Angarita de Palma, three children, Lechería Ward, Puerto La Cruz Venezuela Stake: Venezuela Valencia Mission, succeeding President Ramon E. Sarmiento and Sister Mery Sarmiento. Brother Palmas is a high councilor and a former mission presidency counselor, bishop, seminary and institute teacher, elders quorum president, and missionary in the Venezuela Maracaibo Mission. He was born in Guanare, Venezuela, to Edgar Benavides Rojas and Maria Mercedes Palma.
Jill L. and Troy G. ParkerSierra Leone Freetown MissionSister Cottrell is a Young Women adviser and a former ward Primary president, ward Primary and Young Women presidency counselor, and seminary teacher. She was born in Badconnstat, Germany, to Gaylin W. Thomas and Pamela LuEllen Peterson Thomas.México Querétaro MissionJacob G. Gehring, 48, and Tina M. Gehring, five children, Sunset Ward, Tacoma Washington South Stake: Czech/Slovak Mission, succeeding President Jan Pohořelický and Sister Pavlína Pohorelická. Brother Gehring is a seminary teacher and a former bishop, stake and ward Young Men president, scoutmaster, and missionary in the Czech Prague Mission. He was born in Tacoma, Washington, to Gerald Kay Gehring and Rebecca Dickson Gehring.Neil M Harper, 61, and Laura Harper, six children, Declo 2nd Ward, Declo Idaho Stake: Sierra Leone Freetown Mission, succeeding President Kevin Clawson and Sister Toi Clawson. Brother Harper is a former stake presidency counselor, bishop, bishopric counselor, high councilor, elders quorum president, ward Young Men president, and missionary in the South Africa Johannesburg Mission. He was born in Rupert, Idaho, to Clyde G. Harper and Vonda Merrill Harper.Timothy R. Cottrell, 55, and SanDee K. Cottrell, five children, Northridge Ward, Farmington Utah North Stake: Chile Santiago South Mission, succeeding President Douglas J. Gwilliam and Sister Stephanie Gwilliam. Brother Cottrell is a former stake president, stake presidency counselor, stake Young Men president, high councilor, bishopric counselor, institute teacher, and missionary in the México Torreón Mission. He was born in Salt Lake City to Warren Raleigh Cottrell and Michal Doxey.México Chihuahua MissionCzech/Slovak Mission
Neil M and Laura HarperSister Domínguez is a former stake Primary presidency counselor, ward Relief Society president, and Sunday School teacher. She was born in Xalapa, Veracruz, México to Gabriel Campos Aguayo and Irene Navarro Marquez.Sister Whiting is a former stake Primary president, stake Relief Society presidency counselor, ward Young Women presidency counselor, ward family history consultant, and Sunday School teacher. She was born in Provo, Utah, to Karl Dean Black and Claudia Porter Black Jackson.
W. Michael and Roxanne W. IngallsBrent Whiting, 54, and Laurie Whiting, seven children, Mapleton 17th Ward, Mapleton Utah West Stake: Zambia Lusaka Mission, succeeding President 'Inoke F. Kupu and Sister Moana M. Kupu. Brother Whiting is a former bishop, bishopric counselor, branch presidency counselor, ward Young Men president, and missionary in the Ecuador Guayaquil Mission. He was born in Provo, Utah, to Oscar Juan Whiting and Alma Snow Whiting.
Sam Williams is preparing to leave on a Latter-day Saint mission to Nashville, Tennessee. Photo courtesy of Chris Williams.“I felt life was against me. My relationships with family and friends weren’t good. I felt alone,” Sam Williams said. “But I wasn’t looking in the right place for happiness. I realized I was going at it alone and not relying on the Savior to heal me.”As he’s grown, gained a testimony, and prepared to serve a mission, Sam Williams has learned to count his blessings and recognize the Lord’s hand in his life. He’s grateful things have worked out and understands that when trials come, you’ve got to trust in the Lord and push forward. He’s also grateful to know his family’s story and his father’s example of forgiveness has touched many lives.Sam Williams doesn’t remember much of what happened before he arrived at the hospital.Chris Williams recognized his son was going through some dark times and wondered if he might be losing him, but he found comfort in knowing he wasn’t parenting alone. Sam had his Heavenly Father, the Savior, and other family members, both living and deceased, who were looking out for him, Chris Williams said.
A recent family photo of the Chris and Mikkel Williams family. Photo courtesy of Chris Williams.“I want to be a strong voice for hope,” Williams said in an interview with the Deseret News. “I want people to know there’s a way for all of us to make it through our pains and hardships of life.”“The choices we make here will affect our lives and existence forever,” Sam Williams said.During his high school years, Sam endured some bullying, struggled socially, and at one point entertained suicidal thoughts, he said.Williams was six years old when a 2007 car crash left him with internal bleeding, a head injury, a broken collarbone, and broken ribs. He recalls walking “like a hunchback” down the long hallway to the therapy room, he said.“Life may be unbearable at times, but all will be made right in the end,” Sam Williams said. “We just have to push through.”One time Chris Williams stood in front of his son’s bedroom door, ready to enter and address some things he didn’t agree with, but something stopped him.Chris Williams said it’s been “amazing” to have a front-row seat in his children’s lives to witness their growth and development through life’s experiences.
Sam Williams is preparing to leave on a Latter-day Saint mission to Nashville, Tennessee. Photo courtesy of Chris Williams.“It never crossed my mind once why I was there,” he said. “I just went with it.”Chris Williams also thinks the day will come when we’ll thank the Lord for our adversity and afflictions. In the next life, when we look back on everything we’ve learned, he said, perhaps Heavenly Father will ask us if we would have wanted to do anything differently, such as avoid scraped knees or wish he had fixed every problem immediately, preventing growth?“Just to hear this witness after 12 years of all the parenting and everything else, it’s a wonderful payday and milestone,” the father said.“I’ve found it helpful to accept things as they really are and let go of things as you think they should have been,” Chris Williams said. “Then we can celebrate and be grateful for the things we have. What I saw in Sam was suddenly he was much more thankful for what he had instead of being upset about what he felt was taken from him.”It’s been 12 years since Sam and Chris Williams survived the tragic accident that forever changed their lives. It’s been a journey of many tribulations for Sam, but he’s learned some valuable lessons along the way. It’s part of what he hopes to share with the people in Nashville, Tennessee, where he’s about to serve as a missionary for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.On the night Sam was released, his father, Chris, was tucking him into bed when the boy asked, “Where’s Mom?” That’s when he learned his pregnant mother, Michelle, his brother Ben, and sister, Anna, had been killed in an accident involving a drunk driver. Tears flowed from his father’s eyes as Sam sat expressionless, trying to comprehend what he’d just been told. Sam and his father had survived, along with his older brother, Michael, who was not in the car at the time.“Now, I tell you this because I want to talk about the hope the gospel provides,” Sam Williams recently said while delivering a talk to a Latter-day Saint congregation. “Over the last 12 years I can’t tell you how many times I’ve thought, ‘Why me?’ or, ‘Why is life so hard?’ The secret truth that I’ve had to rely on is [that life] is supposed to be hard, but that doesn’t mean life can’t be good too. Through Christ all can be made whole again.”“I relied on the fact that I was one of several fathers,” Chris Williams said. “I held on to the faith that he’s going through a wonderful learning experience, and I wanted to make sure that I didn’t disrupt that experience before it had fully borne the fruit it was going to bear. I could have confronted the behavior, but I sat back and let things kind of work itself through, having faith that I had other support people I couldn’t see.”“I think we would say ‘no way.’ The experiences we have are too valuable, especially those experiences that bring us to Christ and allow us to understand Him better. They’re just too valuable to not pay the price to go through,” Chris Williams said. “So I am very grateful that Heavenly Father doesn’t prevent every bad thing from happening, so that we can go through it and in so doing experience His healing power and then come to a greater appreciation of Jesus Christ.”“As I got to his door, it was almost as if my deceased wife was there telling me to be quiet, don’t go in, let him figure this out,” the father said. “I felt myself being shut down so the Spirit and the people on the other side of the veil could in their way have their say in this and influence him. As time went on, to see his progress and to see his testimony developed, it reassured to me that as parents we don’t parent alone. There are so many people involved in our lives and in the lives of our children that we can’t see. If we have faith in their input and ability to help us, miracles can come from it.” Sam Williams stands on the field at Old Trafford Stadium, the world-famous home of Manchester United. Photo courtesy of Chris Williams.Sam Williams also learned it’s important to keep an eternal perspective when making choices. He’s often heard other kids use the acronym “YOLO,” which stands for “you only live once,” to justify doing something bold or rash. He prefers an expression his brother taught him: “YALF,” which they say means “you actually live forever.”One change Sam Williams wasn’t ready for came less than a year after the accident, when his father remarried to Mikkel, a widow with two kids of her own. The transition was hard for Sam, but some advice from his father helped him find new perspective, he said.Chris Williams, whose experiences with the crash were later published in a book and made into a movie, told his son it’s helpful to “live in the present” and “accept things as they really are,” a principle he learned from studying Jacob 4 in the Book of Mormon.His situation improved when he transferred to a new school and made some new friends. An answer to prayer helped him find more joy in his life, Sam Williams said.
A new stake has been created from the Ballesteros Philippines District. The Ballesteros Philippines Stake, which consists of the Abulog, Allacapan, Ballesteros, Claveria, Lasam, and Sanchez Mira wards, was created by Elder Michael John U. Teh, General Authority Seventy, and Elder Tomas S. Merdegia Jr., an Area Seventy.
BALLESTEROS PHILIPPINES STAKE (March 17, 2019): President—Donald Medel Credo, 41, computer technician, Columbia Computer Center; wife, Terchita Peralta Kingor Credo. Counselors—Maximin Barcarse Donaure, 37, self-employed engine mechanic; wife, Sheryl Ann Raght Dela Cruz Donaure. Felino Cervantes Zaragosa, 39, self-employed, piggery, poultry; wife, Gennie Rivera Viernes Zaragosa.
A new stake has been created from the Lima Peru Chorrillos and Lima Peru San Juan stakes. The Lima Peru La Campiña Stake, which consists of the La Campiña 1st, La Campiña 2nd, Las Delicias, Las Palmeras, Las Villas, and Umamarca wards, was created by Elder Enrique Falabella, General Authority Seventy, and Elder A. Fabio Moscoso, an Area Seventy.
LIMA PERU LA CAMPIÑA STAKE (March 10, 2019): President—Frank Gustavo Camarena Montoya, 36, general manager, cell phone company; wife, Rocio Angelica Parra Briceño. Counselors—Orlando Martin Ynoñon Moreno, 53, administrator, customs official; wife, Sonia Lili Menor Segura. David Manuel Gamboa Espinola, 43, supervisor, JE Construcciones; wife, Linda Shany Medina Gamboa.Reorganized Stakes
ALPHAVILLE BRAZIL STAKE (March 10, 2019): President—Paulo Frederico Gomes Brandão, 53, chief financial officer, ALSCO; succeeding Acelino José Alves; wife, Claudia Maria Achão. Counselors—Bartolomeu Gama de Souza, 46, self-employed service provider; wife, Patricia Bonano de Souza. Fernando Plubins Schneider, 34, engagement manager, McKinsey; wife, Shirley Santos Schneider.
CALGARY ALBERTA FISH CREEK STAKE (March 24, 2019): President—Lawrence Bradley Stevens, 53, deputy city manager, City of Calgary; succeeding R. Kipp Craig; wife, Constance Donna Cooper Stevens. Counselors—David Donald Hansen, 51, professor, University of Calgary; wife, Lanna Lee Olsen Hansen. Leon Tage Davidsen, 56, U.S. vehicle export manager, Kaizen Automotive; wife, Louise Ann Greep Davidsen.
CEDAR CITY UTAH MARRIED STUDENT STAKE (March 24, 2019): President—Kenneth Rand Bettridge, 48, president and co-owner, CB Oil; succeeding Eric O. Leavitt; wife, Cami Alise Millett Bettridge. Counselors—Henry Rollo Brunson, 55, market manager, BMC; wife, Michele Stevens Brunson. Joseph Spencer Grant, 52, president, Metalcraft Technologies; wife, Alicia Ann Davenport Grant.
CHAMBERSBURG PENNSYLVANIA STAKE (March 17, 2019): President—Leonard Allen Loski, 60, self-employed magazine publisher; succeeding Matthew S. Hurley; wife, Diana Halderman Loski. Counselors—Brandon Miles Bushey, 60, sales, Larco; wife, Marcy Sue Myers Bushey. Caryn Ty Richins, 48, policy and planning manager, Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission; wife, Emily Ann Greenway Richins.
COLUMBUS OHIO EAST STAKE (February 24, 2019): President—Craig Murray Bell, 55, self-employed, Ripple Rock Fish Farms LLC; succeeding Kevin W. Birch; wife, Traci Lynne Stirling Bell. Counselors—Todd Neal Trauntvein, 53, senior IT manager, Discover Financial Services LLC; wife, Amy Gordon Trauntvein. Kristopher Jay Jacobs, 36, assistant vice president, JPMorgan Chase; wife, Candice Lorraine Betts Jacobs.
COPENHAGEN DENMARK STAKE (March 24, 2019): President—Steen Gershøj Petersen, 49, high school teacher, Ringsted County; succeeding Erik Bernskov; wife, Elizabeth Ann Mantilla Petersen. Counselors—Jbarne Lund Jakobsen, 63, industry technician, Kuisgaard; wife, Ulla Kathrine Korsgaard. Patrick Allan Olsen, 33, CEO, Michael Olsen & Partners; wife, Anita Holm Larsen Olsen.
ETINAN NIGERIA STAKE (March 24, 2019): President—Aniefiok Jacob Udo, 45, farmer; succeeding Percus W. Etukudo; wife, Ekaette Urua Ekanan. Counselors—Peter Dan Robson, 35, director, Peteric; wife, Josephine Friday Sampson. John Udo-Udo Ekanem, 44, director, Baruch Beth-Shan; wife, Patience John Ekanem.
FAYETTEVILLE NORTH CAROLINA WEST STAKE (March 10, 2019): President—Brady Mitchell Smith, 51, controller, Ward Productions; succeeding David L. Chandler; wife, Cynthia Colleen Monahan Smith. Counselors—Stacey Allen Dickerson, 59, area manager, Verdin Company; wife, Anne Marie Confield Dickerson. Brent Alexander Wadas, 36, CEO, PsyLynx; wife, Christina Denise Leer Wadas.
GILBERT ARIZONA VAL VISTA STAKE (March 24, 2019): President—Brian Paul McLeskey, 44, vice president of research and development, Fender Musical Wst.; succeeding Timothy R. Lines; wife, Mary Louise Duffin McLeskey. Counselors—Chris Lynn Webb, 59, chief financial officer, Cance Construction Company; wife, Roxanne Alena Hendry Webb. Gregory Scott Slater, 57, vice president and global director of IP, competition, and standards policy, Intel Corporation; wife, Sharon Deon Ruff Slater.
GREEN BAY WISCONSIN STAKE (March 24, 2019): President—Sean Forrest Pattee, 46, physician; succeeding Maurice D. Jones; wife, Dana Camille Larson Pattee. Counselors—Ian Keith Nishimoto, 60, criminal justice instructor, Northeast Wisconsin Tech College; wife, Kim Rae Cornelius Nishimoto. Derek James Hall, 54, chief marketing officer, Northern Michigan University; wife, Holly Kay Richards Hall.
GUAYAQUIL ECUADOR CENTENARIO STAKE (February 10, 2019): President—Ronald Efrain Valenzuela Saa, 43, messenger, IMC; succeeding Edison Harry Landires; wife, Martha Ivonne Zuniga Puruncajas. Counselors—Juan Carlos Rodriguez Correa, 42, freelancer; wife, Diana Raquel Lopez Molina. Carlos Steve Yepez Gaibor, 28, senior analyst, Chubb Seguros; wife, Tanya Filomena Gonzalez Vergara.
HILLSBORO OREGON STAKE (March 24, 2019): President—Blake Stucki Bennett, 55, controller, Davis Tool Inc.; succeeding Robert C. Fotheringham; wife, Angela Elizabeth Topol Bennett. Counselors—Scott James Bowden, 45, engineering manager, Intel Corporation; wife, Tiffany Ann Etherington Bowden. Bruce Kalanikiekie Mossman Jr., 53, marketing manager, Intel Corporation; wife, Darcy Kimiko Diamond Mossman.
HOLBROOK ARIZONA STAKE (March 17, 2019): President—Daniel Thomas Garrett, 59, tax attorney; succeeding V. Blaine Hatch; wife, Rebecca Williams Garrett. Counselors—Kamron Doy Reidhead, 45, autos teacher, Holbrook High School; wife, Tracy Dawn Fuentes Reidhead. Kim Joel Pearce, 59, superintendent, Sanders Unified Schools; wife, Maylene Webb Pearce.
IBADAN NIGERIA STAKE (March 24, 2019): President—Akingbade Ademola Ojo, 49, seminaries and institutes coordinator; succeeding O. Peter Apantaku; wife, Oludayo Olawunmi Banjoko Ojo. Counselors—Pius Olusola Adeosun, 39, security operative, CStrategy; wife, Omolade Esther Adesoji. James B. ADedokun, 65, self-employed; wife, Oludunni Falicia Akinyemi.
KAMPALA UGANDA NORTH STAKE (March 17, 2019): President—Fredrick Kyambadde, 39, managing director, Loyal Group Security Ltd.; succeeding Lupaka O. Powell; wife, Christina Lydia Kyambadde. Counselors—Wayne David Kook, 34, executive lead, Stanbic Bank; wife, Irene Adokorach Cook. Godfrey Lufafa, 44, tour manager, 3GS Tours; wife, Hassy Gertrude Lufafa.
MARACAIBO SOUTH VENEZUELA STAKE (March 17, 2019): President—Javier Zambrano Lima Francisco, 32, grocery retailer, self-employed; succeeding Domingo J. Perez Doria; wife, Paola Nava Gil Sickiu. Counselors—Yimy José Chirinos, 46, retailer; wife, Rodelys del Sol Nuñez Socorro. Marvin José Zambrano Omaña, 61, administrative assistant, Plastisun Industries; wife, Isabel Elena Lima David.
MONTERO BOLIVIA STAKE (March 10, 2019): President—Roly Sensano Vildivia, 37, business owner; succeeding Dulfredo Vasquez Mercado; wife, Leidy Parra Vasquez. Counselors—Erwin Sanchez Ibañez, 35, owner and manager, Estudio Juridico Sanchez; wife, Jesica Beatriz Duran Quispe. Ramiro Peña Martinez, 42, portfolio manager, Banco FIE; wife, Fabiola Ribra Ibañez.
MOORE IDAHO STAKE (March 10, 2019): President—Bart Loren Gamett, 46, fish biologist, United States Forest Service; succeeding F. Richard Reynolds; wife, Charmaine Waddoups Gamett. Counselors—Rory J. Pancheri, 52, rancher; wife, Janet Elizabeth Bell Pancheri. Seth Wade Teichert, 41, ranch manager, Mark Shev; wife, Natalie Dawn Teichert.
NEWBURGH NEW YORK STAKE (March 31, 2019): President—Scott Cameron Woodbrey, 43, Air Force liason officer; succeeding Scott L. Ey; wife, Marianne Mays Woodbrey. Counselors—Alec Paul Galo, 42, client service coordinator, Cox Automotive; wife, Norma Garound Solis Galo. John Douglas Fuller, 48, professional engineer; wife, Holly Shannon Stephenson Fuller.
PAULISTA BRAZIL STAKE (March 10, 2019): President—Reobson Nascimento Duarte, 43, work coordinator, AMBEU; succeeding Alexandre Aurelio M. Albuquerque; wife, Marlene Francisco Costa. Counselors—José Luiz Araújo de Medeiros, 49, technical assistant, Max Relê; wife, Marisa Cândido Pereira. Kepler Pedro da Silva, 42, military police; wife, Djaci da Cruz Silva.
PLATTE CITY MISSOURI STAKE (March 24, 2019): President—Shane Breslin Smeed, 44, vice president and chief operations officer, Park University; succeeding Ted A. Thomas; wife, Angela Danielle Espinosa Smeed. Counselors—David Lance Blain, 59, senior leader and operations manager, United States Army; wife, Cambria Smith Blain. Wyle James Williams, 54, school teacher, Savannah R-3; wife, Jacqueline Joan Jackson Williams.
PORT ANGELES WASHINGTON STAKE (March 17, 2019): President—James G. Weller, 48, teacher, Quilcene School District; succeeding W. Brent Basden; wife, Erika Liane Larson Weller. Counselors—Mark De Wayne Eveland, 55, sales manager, Air Flo Heating; wife, Lisa Gail Rasmussen Eveland. Leslie John Scott, 56, instructor, Peninsula College; wife, Julie Kristin Parker Scott.
PROVO UTAH YSA 10TH STAKE (February 3, 2019): President—L. Chris Wells, 59, business owner; succeeding Jeffrey Acerson; wife, Teresa Ann Harding Wells. Counselors—Frank Owen Allen, 61, owner, Prime Landscape & Design; wife, Kathy Carter Allen. Alan Russell Smoot, 53, software engineer manager, FamilySearch International; wife, Marcie Rae Draper Smoot.
PROVO UTAH YSA 14TH STAKE (March 17, 2019): President—Bill Orr Heder, 54, managing partner, MacArthur, Heder & Metler; succeeding Jay D. Clark; wife, Lee Ann Muir Heder. Counselors—Paul Raymond Ressler, 52, director of sales, csimsoft; wife, Joelle Jacob Ressler. Eldon Richard Stonehocker, 60, pharmaceutical sales, Boehringer-Ingelheim; wife, Cynthia Lynn Marriott Stonehocker.
PROVO UTAH YSA 15TH STAKE (March 10, 2019): President—David Lee Tueller, 57, assistant vice president of human resources, Brigham Young University; succeeding Curtis F. Swenson; wife, Margaret Jeanne Young Tueller. Counselors—Robin Dee Moore, 53, CEO, Property Pin; wife, Carrie Lynn Bell Moore. James David Stice, 59, professor, Brigham Young University; wife, Kaye Soelberg Stice.
QUEZON CITY PHILIPPINES SOUTH STAKE (March 10, 2019): President—Bernabe Arriola Magsino, 54, contractor, Dom Builder; succeeding Edwin V. Malit; wife, Evnice Origenes Trojillo Magsino. Counselors—Constancio Baluyot Lim, 50, buyer, area presidency of the Church; wife, Editha Peñalosa Pizarra Lim. Ronaldo Estipular Gabuyo, 50, facilities management employee for the Church; wife, Gina Arzadon Gabuyo.
RIVERTON UTAH SUMMERHILL STAKE (February 3, 2019): President—Aaron Wadsworth Bleak, 45, owner, EA Architecture; succeeding Ryan V. Davis; wife, Elizabeth Reber Bleak. Counselors—Robert David Walker, 45, partner, corporate secretary of executive board, Kirton McConkie; wife, Amy Christine Summerhays Walker. Brandon John Metcalf, 43, archivist, Church History Department; wife, Angela Daines Metcalf.
ROCKFORD ILLINOIS STAKE (March 31, 2019): President—Daniel Stoddard McConkie Jr., 40, professor, Northern Illinois University; succeeding Marc A. Stewart; wife, Adrienne Criddle McConkie. Counselors—Brian Lynn Webb, 51, research manager, Thermo Fisher Scientific; wife, Julia Mac Hamilton Webb. Leland Robert Howlett, 53, engineer, Department of Defense; wife, Tanya Kaye Winward Howlett.
ROCKLIN CALIFORNIA STAKE (March 17, 2019): President—Alan Freeman Smith, 53, chief operating officer, delaware North America; succeeding Sean B. Murphy; wife, Lisa Suzanne Throckmonton Smith. Counselors—Justin James Wright, 42, business strategy and finance manager, Kaiser Permanente; wife, Rebecca Lynne Redford Wright. Benjamin Andrew Brasher, 39, software and real estate investor; wife, Emy Cannon Brasher.
SALT LAKE STAKE (March 31, 2019): President—Douglas Harding Wilks, 60, editor, Deseret News; succeeding Stanford P. Fitts; wife, Christiana Taggart Wilks. Counselors—Henry Manning White, 60, physical therapy clinic owner; wife, Lisa Thorpe White. Owen Jall Richardson Jr., 52, artist; wife, Amy Parker Richardson.
SALT LAKE WINDER WEST STAKE (March 17, 2019): President—Paul Donald Johnston, 54, owner, Certified Chem-Dry; succeeding M. Larry Anderson; wife, Kathryn Lee Johnston. Counselors—Kevin Eugene Washington, 64, classroom teacher, Granite School District; wife, Clara Marie Wilson Washington. Brian Robert Mitchell, 35, group leader, Westech Engineering; wife, Katie Diane Thornock Mitchell.
SAN JOSÉ COSTA RICA LA PAZ STAKE (March 10, 2019): President—Diego Jaimes Ruiz, 46, information systems engineer; succeeding Eduardo R. Mora Villalobos; wife, Débora Ileana López Jaimes. Counselors—Max Anibal Ureña Ferrero, 46, geographic information system employee, Instituto Costarricence Electric; wife, Ana Yancy Hernández Ureña. Rafael Ángel Loáiciga Chavarria, 54, professor, Universidad de Costa Rica; wife, Gaudy Chacón Loáiciga.
SHERWOOD PARK ALBERTA STAKE (March 10, 2019): President—Francesco Michael Mosaico, 44, physician, medical director, Boyle McCauley Health Centre; succeeding Robert W. Mendenhall; wife, Sarah Elizabeth Craig Mosaico. Counselors—William Darwin Laurie, 62, president, Britannia Construction Ltd.; wife, Caroline Adelaide Wilchynski Laurie. Bradford James Albert Appleton, 45, senior project manager, PCL Construction Mangement Inc.; wife, Amy Jacquelynn Hornberger Appleton.
SPANISH FORK UTAH YSA STAKE (March 17, 2019): President—Allen David Merrill Jr., 54, leadership coach, Alletrust; succeeding James R. Stewart; wife, Caroline Anne Brown Merrill. Counselors—David Kent Nance, 60, dentist; wife, Stacy Felix Nance. Jeffrey Kim Pierce, 63, owner, Kim Pierce Masonry; wife, Janet Louise Peterson Pierce.
ST. GEORGE UTAH YSA 1ST STAKE (March 3, 2019): President—Timothy Scott Hollingshead, 56, physician; succeeding Robert C. Huddleston; wife, Kristen McKendrick Hollingshead. Counselors—Jack Wynn Rolfe, 59, health care compliance, Ensign; wife, Lexie Steel Rolfe. Robert David Wright, 60, appraiser, Washington County; wife, Carrie Lynne Willis Wright.
TEZONTEPEC MEXICO STAKE (March 10, 2019): President—Juan Hernández Cervantes, 45, associate professor, ITSOEH; succeeding Itzcoatal Lozano; wife, Nely Garcia Lopez. Counselors—Hector Ortega Vallejo, 39, public accountant; wife, Rosa Isela Sanchez Mendez. Rafael Contreras Perez, 38, financial assistant, Rafael Rodriguez; wife, Anaya Violeta Martinez.
“In the scriptures alone, I have found at least 35 references to fasting,” he said. “Eighteen of those, more than half, link fasting to prayer. Proper fasting magnifies our ability to study, pray, and teach.”
Elder David F. Evans, Asia Area President of the Church, led the event jointly with the president of Jamiyah Singapore. Photo by Soh Wee Leng Daniel.Members of the Church in Singapore have partnered with Jamiyah Singapore to work on several service projects in the past and have built great relationships in their community. They hope to reach out to other faiths and inspire more interfaith collaboration and collective action.“If we seek understanding and take time to look closely, there are many things that can and do bring us together,” Elder Evans told Newsroom. “When observed with charity and understanding, these intersections of faith, practice, and custom can and will bring a feeling of unity and purpose.” A youth choir composed of Latter-day Saints and Jamiyah Singapore members opened the iftar on May 27, 2019, with song. Photo by Soh Wee Leng Daniel.Mr. S. Iswaran, minister for communications and information, and Melvin Young, a member of Parliament, were in attendance and took the opportunity to share their thoughts. They both expressed their satisfaction in and appreciation for the impact of the interfaith harmony initiatives.This community event was led by Elder David F. Evans, Asia Area President of the Church, and Dr. Mohd Hasbi bin Abu Baker, president of Jamiyah Singapore. Seven hundred people were involved with the iftar, and government officials, diplomats, grassroots leaders, and religious leaders of various faiths in Singapore came to hear from speakers and participate in the event.Dr. Mohd Hasbi addressed the urgent need to strengthen interfaith collaboration and action. Respecting the principle of unity in diversity, regardless of race, nationality, and religion, will help to mitigate how often crimes and violent acts occur. Government officials, diplomats, grassroots leaders, and religious leaders from various faiths in Singapore attended the historic iftar on May 27, 2019. Photo by Soh Wee Leng Daniel.This event, built on the common foundation of fasting, is an inspiring display of a desire and effort to collaborate with and respect each other within our diversity. The fast that Church members participate in once a month is very similar to the Muslim practice of fasting during the month of Ramadan. Both faiths dedicate their fast to be closer to God and to donate money to serve those in need.
Special guest Mr. S. Iswaran, minister for communications and information, spoke at the historic iftar event. Photo by Soh Wee Leng Daniel.Members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and Jamiyah Singapore organized a community iftar held on May 27, 2019, at a meetinghouse of the Church—a historic occasion, as it was their first time breaking the fast in a Christian house of worship.
Member of Parliament Melvin Young shared his appreciation that many community leaders from other faiths were in attendance at the iftar on May 27, 2019. Photo by Soh Wee Leng Daniel.
We express our profound gratitude for all the marvelous blessings that Thou hast bestowed upon us, and we pray that Thou wilt accept our humble prayer, full of faith at this historic and sacred time for all of us and for our beloved country.We especially wish to express our profound gratitude and love for Thy Son, Jesus Christ, and for His atoning sacrifice that is extended to all of us, Thy children. For we know that through Him and His sacrifice, all of us may be forgiven of our sins and become clean, without spot before Thee. Oh, how we love and adore Thee.We further implore that Thou wilt bless this great nation of Brazil, its governors, and its people. May faith, love, and peace be more abundant in their hearts, and may they be influenced for good through Thy Holy Spirit and through the Light of Christ.We are also grateful, Father, for the efforts made by all those who, through these last ten years since the announcement of the construction of this temple, have contributed and worked so hard in so many ways, in order for this building to be constructed and now dedicated to Thee. Designer detail in the Fortaleza Brazil Temple.Our dear, beloved, and omnipotent Heavenly Father, with hearts full of gratitude and love for Thee, we, Thy children, on this solemn, sacred, and long-awaited occasion by all the members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in this beautiful part of this country, do bow our heads reverently before Thee in prayer to dedicate this holy house erected unto Thee in this city of Fortaleza.Father, we are grateful for Thy gospel restored in this dispensation through our beloved Prophet, Joseph Smith. We are grateful for the restoration of all of the priesthood keys that permit temples to be erected to Thee and provide means so that Thy children may be blessed with eternal promises of living in Thy presence and in the presence of Thy Son, Jesus Christ, for all eternity, according to their faithfulness to the holy ordinances and covenants made with Thee in this holy house.Heavenly Father, we are so grateful for Thy goodness and love for us and for having inspired Thy Prophet to construct a holy temple in this city of our beloved homeland, Brazil—a land that has palm trees where the thrush sings, a land that has more beauties, a land whose valleys have more flowers, whose forests have more life. This is a land where so many faithful Saints have dedicated their lives for the establishment of Thy kingdom. Sealing room in the Fortaleza Brazil Temple. The Fortaleza Brazil Temple exterior and grounds.Following is the translation of the prayer offered in Portuguese by Elder Ulisses Soares of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles to dedicate the Fortaleza Brazil Temple on Sunday, June 2, 2019. Art glass detail in the Fortaleza Brazil Temple. Baptistry of the Fortaleza Brazil Temple.We supplicate Thy protection on this building and its grounds against any impure hand or evil influence that might detract attention from the importance and magnitude of all that is undertaken in this holy house. We ask Thee to bless all those who serve here: the temple presidency, the matron and her assistants, the temple workers, the volunteers, the employees, and all those who serve in this holy temple in any way, so that they may have Thy Spirit to be with them and so that they may be positive and loving influences and examples, in the manner of the model established by Thy Son, Jesus Christ.We dedicate this Holiness to the Lord as a house of prayer, of fasting, of faith, of instruction, and of learning; a house of revelation, of consolation, of peace, and of righteousness. May Thine abundant blessings found in this house be showered upon all those who herein enter to perform sacred ordinances and covenants, whether for themselves or for their ancestors, so that they may feel the influence of Thy sweet Spirit and of Thy tender, loving mercies.Beloved Father, we further implore Thee to bless all those who visit the location of this temple, who may not be of our faith. May they feel Thy influence and Thy glory emanating from this holy house, and may a desire awaken in their hearts to know more about Thy marvelous gospel and about Thy tender mercies toward all of Thy children. Bless the members of the Church and the missionaries, so that they may work together to edify Thy kingdom here in this area, thus blessing thousands upon thousands of people who hear and accept the invitation of Thy Son, Jesus Christ, to come, to see, and to remain with Him. Chandelier and art glass detail in the Fortaleza Brazil Temple. Baptistry of the Fortaleza Brazil Temple. Instruction room in the Fortaleza Brazil Temple.Now, beloved Father, in the name of Jesus Christ, duly authorized and under the keys of our dear Prophet, Seer, and Revelator, Russell Marion Nelson, and by virtue of the authority of the Holy Melchizedek Priesthood which I bear, we dedicate and consecrate to Thee and to Thy beloved Son, Jesus Christ, the Fortaleza Brazil Temple of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. We dedicate the temple ground, its foundations, its floors, its walls, its beautiful gardens, its interior and exterior finishing and features, the furniture therein, the tower that bears up the Angel Moroni, the baptistry, the ordinance areas, the endowment rooms, the sealing rooms, the sacred altars, and all the areas and spaces contained in this temple, destined for the performance of all the sacred ordinances pertaining to this temple. We also dedicate all of the auxiliary structures that have been built to attend the needs and purposes of this temple. The Fortaleza Brazil Temple.As we conclude this dedicatory prayer, we raise our hearts to Thee in the hope that the Lord may accept our supplication and that this holy house may become a lighthouse, not only for the city of Fortaleza, but for our beloved, admired and adored homeland of Brazil. For all these things we implore Thee and express our gratitude unto Thee, in the sacred name of our Redeemer, Savior, the King of Kings, Jesus Christ, amen. Celestial room of the Fortaleza Brazil Temple. Recommend desk of the Fortaleza Brazil Temple. The Brazil Fortaleza Temple, photographed June 1, 2019, a day before its dedication. Photo by Scott Taylor.We implore Thee, Lord, to bless all the Saints of this great country, so that they may walk in obedience to the commandments of the Lord and may enjoy the great blessings reserved in Thy hands for all those who faithfully follow Thy teachings. We ask Thee to bless them to be a standard for this country, that they may influence the people around them with their righteousness and their love of the gospel of Jesus Christ. The Brazil Fortaleza Temple, photographed June 1, 2019, the evening before its dedication. Photo by Scott Taylor.We also express our gratitude for all the pioneer Saints who helped establish The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints here in the region of Fortaleza, from its beginnings. We are grateful for their sacrifices and for all those members and leaders who followed in their footsteps to strengthen Thy kingdom, culminating in the establishment of Thy work here with such a solid foundation. Oh Lord, how grateful we are for the many blessings poured out upon our people, our country, and especially upon this city of Fortaleza.
When Savage Hodge was a missionary, she donned a skirt and pedaled a bicycle. As an Army officer, she wears a military uniform and trains with an automatic weapon. Professionally, she’s a platoon leader with the 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team in northern Italy.But before committing to full-time active military duty, she answered a call to a different sort of service. Full-time missionary work in Tokyo taught lessons of resiliency and tenacity that she utilized during the most difficult moments of Ranger School.But successfully completing the course involves far more than push-ups, pull-ups, and jumping out of planes.But missionary and military life share more in common than it might seem.She and Matthew, whom she met on her mission, also find fellowship in their adopted ward. Serving together in the Church “gives us a chance to study and stay involved.”Legions of women teach in over 30,000 Relief Society units across the globe—delivering weekly lessons that champion gospel learning, unity, and spiritual growth.“Being a full-time member of the military is full-time missionary work,” she said.“That really snapped me out of it, and I realized my hatred of the cold and cold water was nothing special,” she said.Soaked and shivering, she told a fellow soldier that she had an aversion to frigid water.So how did a lifelong Latter-day Saint-returned sister missionary-Army first lieutenant (and, yes, Relief Society teacher from Highland, Utah) become part of one of the world’s elite military forces?A Ranger’s primary mission is honestly simple: Engage the enemy in close combat and direct-fire battles—and win.A pair of female Army officers made history in 2015 by graduating from Ranger School. Gender is not considered for the course. Women must meet the same physical standards as their male counterparts. Minimum fitness requirements for all candidates include performing 58 push-ups, 69 sit-ups, running five miles in 40 minutes, and completing a 12-mile march with a 35-pound rucksack and weapon in less than three hours.A well-worn copy of her patriarchal blessing lent “eternal perspective” amid the day-to-day grind.Military culture and missionary culture are starkly different. Alcohol and cursing remain pervasive. But like any well-trained Army Ranger, Savage Hodge remains steadfast.Obviously, Savage Hodge’s family couldn’t join her at Ranger School. But she was fueled by their prayers, along with the priesthood blessings of loved ones. General conference talks—including President Dieter F. Uchtdorf’s April 2010 address “Continue in Patience”—offered added strength.
Matthew and Anna Hodge met while serving missions in Tokyo, Japan. Matthew has been a devoted supporter of his wife’s military career, including her graduation from Army Ranger School. Photo courtesy of Anna Savage Hodge.“There are so many chances in the military to speak with others that maybe a ‘normal’ job might not provide,” she said.“As long as you decide what you are going to do and what you’re not going to do, I don’t think there’s any reason to fear.”The soldier’s reply? Join the club.“I thought ROTC [at BYU] might be a good way to pay for school,” she said.Meanwhile, her husband, Matthew Hodge, “was so supportive of me,” she said. “He was always encouraging me stick it out, no matter how long I was there.”“My mission has helped me a lot,” she said. “It’s where I learned how to deal with rejection and heartbreak. Those are mission experiences.”She hopes her successful commitment to her Ranger training helped change a few lasting perceptions and perspectives.A female Ranger candidate can still expect heightened scrutiny, she said. A male soldier might go unnoticed if he rarely volunteers to, say, pack the radio or the heavy machine gun. “But if a woman never volunteers, others will think you are avoiding it.”“Ranger School has been and always will be a team sport—or more accurately, a squad and platoon sport,” she said.Savage Hodge learned of Ranger School during her first ROTC year at BYU. At the time, women were not allowed to attend.Expect tough personal challenges, but don’t forget every other Ranger candidate is enduring those same challenges. Savage Hodge won’t forget completing a water obstacle course that included a series of balance beam walks, commando crawls, and swims in 40-degree water.Ranger candidates must also pass a water survival test and complete airborne (paratrooper) training.And like many candidates, Savage Hodge did not pass Ranger School on her first attempt. But she persisted. She knew she was not alone.“Each time I hit the water, my body and lungs would seize up and it felt like I couldn’t breathe or swim very well. It was horrible.”But only one Relief Society instructor, Anna Savage Hodge, goes to work each morning with a U.S. Army Ranger Tab sewn on the shoulder of her camouflage uniform.Many of Savage Hodge’s fellow soldiers know little about The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. She and other members in uniform enjoy a unique opportunity to represent gospel beliefs through their actions. People know that she is a Latter-day Saint, and she always keeps a copy of the Book of Mormon on hand to share with someone.“But from the first moment I read about it, I wanted to go. It sounded like one of the hardest things I could do, and I was curious to see if I could make it through.”Five years ago, not a single woman had graduated from Ranger School. Since then, only Savage Hodge and a handful of other female soldiers have completed the grueling Army training course that lasts more than two months and is staged in locales ranging from mountain peaks to sweltering swamplands.“Looking back, I can see that God was there for me,” she said. “I was not always happy, but He helped me remain hopeful that I could always make it through one more event. ... He wanted me to see it through.”For starters, the self-described tomboy was drawn to the physicality of the military. She was also anxious to graduate from Brigham Young University without burning through her savings.
U.S. Army 1st Lieut. Anna Savage Hodge is one of a handful of women to graduate from Army Ranger School. She enjoys the support of her husband, Matthew Hodge. Photo courtesy of Anna Savage Hodge.
Anna Savage Hodge enjoys a light-hearted “teaching moment” during her missionary service in Tokyo, Japan. The lifelong member would later graduate from Army Ranger School. Photo courtesy of Anna Savage Hodge.Sharing the gospel in Japan is rarely easy. But rewards, she discovered, are gleaned in doing hard things.
Elder Ulisses Soares of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles greets a missionary before a meeting with the Brazil Fortaleza and Brazil Fortaleza East missions on Saturday, June 1, 2019. Joining Elder Soares are three General Authority Seventies—starting from his side, Elder Marcos A. Aidukaitis, Elder Adilson de Paula Parrella, and Elder Larry Y. Wilson. Photo by Scott Taylor. Elder Ulisses Soares of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles and his wife, Sister Rosana Soares, arrive at the Fortaleza Brazil Temple on the morning of its dedication on June 2, 2019. Photo by Scott Taylor. Latter-day Saints congregate outside the Brazil Fortaleza Temple as some exit one session and others line up for the next session on Sunday, June 2, 2019. Photo by Scott Taylor. Elder Ulisses Soares of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles places mortar around the cornerstone of the Fortaleza Brazil Temple on Sunday, June 2, 2019. Sister Rosana Soares, and Elder Larry Y. Wilson, a General Authority Seventy and executive director of the Temple Department, watch. Photo by Scott Taylor.I A choir sings at the cornerstone ceremony of the Fortaleza Brazil Temple dedication on Sunday, June 2, 2019. Photo by Scott Taylor.“It was something they were dreaming of for a long time—the high cost of those days and the distance made such a trip then almost impossible,” recalled Elder Soares, explaining how his parents transitioned from worldly habits to gospel habits in preparing for the temple.There he had five hours in the temple—to first receive his own endowment and then to be sealed to his parents, who joined him that Saturday at the temple—before returning to Rio for his last month of service.One month before his scheduled return, Elder Soares and a half-dozen other similarly unendowed missionaries received special permission from their mission president to join one of the overnight weekend temple caravans carrying members from Rio to the São Paulo temple.And he and his wife, Sister Rosana Soares, were anxious to share the same as they spoke to the Saints in Fortaleza—hoping the local members would see their new temple as symbolic in their lives as the city’s name, which in Portuguese means “fortress” or “strength.”For he and his family, the new temple is like a door opening to the celestial kingdom, where they can worship regularly, he said. “It brings me closer to Heavenly Father and to Jesus Christ.”“The temple is a good influence”Said Elder Soares after the day’s third and final dedicatory session: “I felt like we were in heaven—I think the Lord gave us an opportunity to feel the spirit of the country and the spirit of the language.”The temple dedication provided an opportunity to celebrate the history of the Church in Fortaleza, which started as a struggling branch with a handful of converted families 50 years ago before flourishing into a city with a temple district of more than 30 stakes and 90,000 members. The dedication in Fortaleza also made Church history—on several accounts.From history to making historyFifty years ago, Brazil had one stake, three missions, no temples, and no Brazilian general authorities. Today, South America’s largest nation claims 273 stakes and nearly 1.5 million members, 35 missions, seven temples, and a half-dozen native General Authorities, with five General Authority Seventies joining the Apostle, Elder Soares. Missionaries take notes while listening to Elder Ulisses Soares of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles and his wife, Sister Rossana Soares, during a meeting of the Brazil Fortaleza and Brazil Fortaleza East missions on June 1, 2019. Photo by Scott Taylor.The Soareses underscored the importance and impact of temple covenants and temple attendance in their lives, particularly in speaking in two of the three June 1 meetings held in conjunction with the dedication—a morning meeting with missionaries from the Brazil Fortaleza and Brazil Fortaleza East missions and an evening youth devotional with young men and young women from the temple district. Elder Ulisses Soares of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles and his wife, Sister Rosana Soares, are interviewed by local media on Saturday, June 1, 2019, in Fortaleza, Brazil, a day before the dedication of the temple in that city. Photo by Scott Taylor.He brought a number of civic leaders—including the mayor and governor—to the temple’s open house, which drew 60,000 visitors through mid-May. Church General Authorities and their wives stand pause in front of the Fortaleza Brazil Temple on Saturday afternoon, June 1, 2019, a day before the temple's dedication. From left, Elder Adilson de Paula Parrella, a General Authority Seventy and counselor in Brazil Area; Sister Elaine Parrella; Sister Luisa Aidukaitis; Elder Marcos A. Aidukaitis, a General Authority Seventy and President of the Brazil Area; Elder Ulisses S. Soares of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles; Sister Rosana Soares; Sister Mônica Godoy and Elder Carlos A. Godoy of the Presidency of the Seventy. Photo by Scott Taylor.With a strong midday breeze taking the edge off the high-80s temperature and low-80-percent humidity on a bright day less than 260 miles south of the equator, Fortaleza’s temple dedication carried through as most do—three sessions broadcast to meetinghouses throughout the temple district, lines going into the temple, and members congregating outside afterward to visit and relish the experience. Elder Ulisses Soares of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles greets a sister missionary before a combined meeting of the Brazil Fortaleza and Brazil Fortaleza East missions on Saturday, June 1, 2019. Photo by Scott Taylor.Elder Soares now becomes the first Apostle from outside the Untied States to dedicate a temple in his home country. And he dedicated the Church’s seventh temple in Brazil—and 164th worldwide—in Portuguese, his native tongue.
Elder Ulisses Soares of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles embraces a young girl after she applied mortar to the cornerstone of the Fortaleza Brazil Temple on Sunday, June 2, 2019. Photo by Scott Taylor.“Because of those five glorious hours in the temple,” he recalled, “I learned of the plan of salvation and the promises the Lord had for me, so I was anxious to share those with my investigators.” Elder Ulisses Soares, joined by his wife, Sister Rossana Soares, greets attendees as they arrive at a youth devotional Saturday, June 1, 2019, the evening before the dedication of the adjacent Fortaleza Brazil Temple. Photo by Scott Taylor.Having served in central Brazil about the same time the Fortaleza Branch in the country’s northeast region started to take hold, Elder Wilson checked off the Church’s differences from when he arrived in 1969 to present-day 2019. Members of the choir sing at the cornerstone ceremony of the Fortaleza Brazil Temple dedication on Sunday, June 2, 2019. Photo by Scott Taylor.“But they gave me the opportunity, they gave me the assignment,” he added, choking at a lump in his throat, “and it means a lot—it is my own country, my own language, and my own people.” Young men in a choir sing at the Saturday, June 1, 2019, youth devotional in Fortaleza, Brazil, the evening before the dedication of the temple. Photo by Scott Taylor.With no temple in all of South America, the Soareses were part of the Los Angeles California Temple district. They waited 14 years before being able to go to the temple to receive their endowments and to be sealed as a family. Elder Marcos A. Aidukaitis, a General Authority Seventy and president of the Brazil Area, speaks to young members during the June 1, 2019, youth devotional in Fortaleza, Brazil, held the evening before the temple dedication. Photo by Scott Taylor. Elder Ulisses Soares of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, at left with his wife, Sister Rosasa Soares, speaks to members gathered at the cornerstone ceremony of the Fortaleza Brazil Temple on Sunday, June 2, 2019. They are joined by other visiting general authorities and their wives and the temple presidency and their wives. Photo by Scott Taylor.He added: “So we see the importance of the temple—not just for the members but for the nonmembers, because it’s an inspiring place, a place that will propagate goodness and restrict the bad.”And the historic language element goes one step further: all three dedicatory sessions in Fortaleza were done completely in Portuguese—all talks, all hymns, all prayers, as well as the dedicatory prayers and Hosanna Shout. For previous temple dedications in a non-English-speaking area, at least something—a talk or a dedicatory prayer—required side-by-side translation for the non-native speaker.As a young man in 1978 and well before the completion and dedication of a new temple in São Paulo later that year, he left on his mission to Rio de Janeiro without ever having attended the temple. While he was gone, the rest of his family went for the first time. Latter-day Saints crowd to see and take images of Elder Ulisses Soares of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles and the cornerstone ceremony at the Fortaleza Brazil Temple on Sunday, June 2, 2019. Photo by Scott Taylor. Members linger as dusk falls Sunday, June 2, 2019, well after the third and final dedicatory session of the Fortaleza Brazil Temple. Photo by Scott Taylor.He also turned to Fortaleza’s old and new to share in the moment, bringing up several of the long-time members and a handful of young children to try their hand with the mortar and a trowel.Said Elder Soares of the weekend in Fortaleza: “It means a lot to me to be a part of this historic moment—to see the wonderful growth that has happened and the blessings showering Brazil. Attendees sing a hymn during the June 1, 2019, youth devotional in Fortaleza, Brazil, held the evening before the temple dedication there. Photo by Scott Taylor. The Brazil Fortaleza Temple, photographed June 1, 2019, the evening before its dedication. Photo by Scott Taylor. Apologizing that he would be unable to personally greet each young member attending the June 1, 2019, youth devotional in Fortaleza, Brazil, Elder Ulisses Soares shows he is giving attendees a “virtual embrace.” Photo by Scott Taylor. Members await the beginning of the cornerstone ceremony of the first dedicatory session of the Fortaleza Brazil Temple on Sunday, June 2, 2019. Photo by Scott Taylor. Elder Carlos A. Godoy of the Presidency of the Seventy speaks to young members during the June 1, 2019, youth devotional in Fortaleza, Brazil, held the evening before the temple dedication. Photo by Scott Taylor.In several weekend meetings associated with the Sunday, June 2, dedication of the Fortaleza Brazil Temple, Elder Soares—the Brazilian-born member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles presiding over the events—recalled his parents’ conversion when he was five years old.“They felt a good spirit,” he said of his guest leaders. “For them, the temple is a good influence—besides just being beautiful, it is a place of peace.”And then they lingered, well after dusk, some standing around the temple, hesitant to depart. Others found benches or plastic chairs positioned along the walkways threading the temple and meetinghouse grounds. Others were merely content to sit on the grass and talk as the temperature, the humidity, and the sunlight all dropped.“It is something that touches my heart profoundly, because I see the hand of the Lord blessing our country, blessing our people so they can perform their own ordinances and make covenants with the Lord in preparing for his Second Coming.”It’s only the third time a temple dedicatory prayer has been offered in a non-English language, not needing to be translated for the predominant population of local Latter-day Saints. The Brazil Fortaleza Temple, photographed June 1, 2019, a day before its dedication. Photo by Scott Taylor. Elder Ulisses Soares of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, with his wife, Sister Rosasa Soares, waves to members after the cornerstone ceremony portion of the dedication session of the Fortaleza Brazil Temple on Sunday, June 2, 2019. Photo by Scott Taylor.IElder and Sister Soares also joined other visiting leaders in an afternoon meeting with a chapel full of Fortaleza’s “pioneer” Church members, including some who had been baptized more than a half-century previous. The pioneer families came three and four generations strong to the meeting, drawing the admiration and appreciation of the general authorities who greeted each one.
Elder Ulisses Soares of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles embraces a young girl after she applied mortar to the cornerstone of the Fortaleza Brazil Temple on Sunday, June 2, 2019. Photo by Scott Taylor.Children take turns applying mortar to the cornerstone of the Fortaleza Brazil Temple after the cornerstone ceremony had concluded Sunday, June 2, 2019. Photo by Scott Taylor.For the Latter-day Saints in this northeastern coastal city who struggled to start a branch with just a couple of convert families five decades ago and then patiently waited for the dedication of temple announced nearly 10 years ago, Elder Ulisses Soares served as an empathetic friend. Elder Ulisses Soares of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles joins other visiting General Authorities in greeting missionaries of the Brazil Fortaleza and Brazil Fortaleza East missions Saturday, June 1, 2019. Photo by Scott Taylor. Elder Ulisses Soares of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles speaks to the combined Brazil Fortaleza and Brazil Fortaleza East missions Saturday, June 1, 2019. Photo by Scott Taylor. Elder Ulisses Soares of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, and his wife, Sister Rosasa Soares, walk to the cornerstone of the Fortaleza Brazil Temple on Sunday, June 2, 2019. Photo by Scott Taylor.And Elder Larry Y. Wilson, a General Authority Seventy and executive director of the Temple Department, joined in Fortaleza by his wife, Sister Lynda Wilson, served as a full-time missionary in Brazil from 1969 to 1971. The Brazil Fortaleza Temple, photographed June 1, 2019, a day before its dedication. Photo by Scott Taylor. Sister Rosana Soares, wife of Elder Ulisses Soares of the Quorum of the Twelve, speaks during the June 1, 2019, youth devotional in Fortaleza, Brazil, held the evening before the temple dedication. Photo by Scott Taylor.The first dedicatory session featured the traditional, public-facing cornerstone ceremony. After he and his wife led out placing mortar around the capstone symbolizing the finishing of the temple, Elder Soares invited other visiting leaders and temple presidency members and their wives to do the same.Elder Soares emphasized the purity of the House of the Lord and the importance of one being worthy to participate in temple ordinances, even as a youth and young adult. He repeatedly gestured and pointed toward the temple from the pulpit of the adjacent stake center where the Saturday meetings were held to underscore a fortress of strength to help withstand temptations, both before and after missions and marriage. Elder Ulisses Soares of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles and his wife, Sister Rosana Soares, speak together from the podium in a meeting with missionaries from the Brazil Fortaleza and Brazil Fortaleza East missions Saturday, June 1, 2019. Photo by Scott Taylor.The all-Portuguese meetings benefited from an official traveling party with a predominant Brazilian flavor. Joining Elder and Sister Soares were fellow countryman Elder Carlos A. Godoy of the Presidency of the Seventy and his wife, Sister Mônica Godoy; and the Brazil Area Presidency based in São Paulo—Elder Marcos A. Aidukaitis, President, and Sister Luisa Aidukaitis; Elder W. Mark Bassett, First Counselor, and Sister Angela Bassett; and Elder Adilson de Paula Parrella, Second Counselor, and Sister Elaine Parrella.Moroni Torgan, Fortaleza’s vice-mayor, has held numerous government positions in the city, the state of Ceará, and in Brazil’s congress, as well as having served as a bishop, state president, Area Seventy, and mission president in Portugal. Elder Ulisses Soares of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles with his wife, Sister Rosasa Soares, speaks to members gathered at the cornerstone ceremony of the Fortaleza Brazil Temple on Sunday, June 2, 2019. Photo by Scott Taylor. Elder Ulisses Soares of the Quorum of the Twelve and Sister Rosana Soares join other General Authorities and wives in a photo of the combined Brazil Fortaleza and Brazil Fortaleza East missions Saturday, June 1, 2019. Photo by Scott Taylor.Elder Soares is very familiar with the location, having been in involved in selecting and showing the site to the First Presidency when he was the Brazil Area’s director of temporal affairs before his call as a general authority 14 years ago. Later he took President Henry B. Eyring of the First Presidency there when they had an assignment in Fortaleza—and not long after, in the October 2009 general conference, President Thomas S. Monson announced a future temple for the city of nearly 4 million people.The 36,000-square-foot, single-domed temple is the featured building on the 10-acre grounds in the Lourdes and Dunas areas of eastern Fortaleza, not far from the Atlantic Ocean coast and some of the city’s well-known beaches.“I am so grateful to the First Presidency—they could have sent any other Apostle,” said Elder Soares, the junior member of the Quorum of the Twelve whom President Russell M. Nelson directed to Fortaleza.FORTALEZA, Brazil“I can hardly believe the strength of the Church here,” said Elder Wilson, mindful of the 30-plus stakes comprising the Fortaleza temple district. Elder Ulisses Soares of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles expresses appreciation to long-time Latter-day Saints from Fortaleza and their descendants in a meeting of “pioneer members” Saturday, June 1, 2019, in Fortaleza, Brazil. Photo by Scott Taylor.The first came in September 2016 when then-President Dieter F. Uchtdorf of the First Presidency offered the rededicatory prayer for the Freiberg Germany Temple in German. The second was earlier this year when Elder Dale G. Renlund of the Quorum of the Twelve dedicated the Kinshasa Democratic Republic of the Congo Temple with prayers in French, the official language of that country.As the Soareses and other visiting couples departed the temple in the late afternoon, hundreds of local Saints gathered to wave, to photograph, and to reach out and touch and thank the guests.Blessings showering Brazil
After serving in the Japan Fukuoka Mission, Elder McCune reconnected with Debbra Kingsbury at Brigham Young University when she helped him find housing in her same apartment complex and ward. About four months later, the couple was engaged to be married.As Elder McCune completed his MBA program at UCLA, he and his wife had another powerful experience that strengthened their trust in the Lord.“He would tell me there wasn’t a God, but toward the end of his life, he began to soften a little,” Elder McCune said. “When he was failing I asked him, ‘Dad, what can I do for you?’ He said, ‘Just pray for me, son.’ For a professed atheist with liberal views to say that at a critical moment of his mortality and ask a son to pray for him I think is pretty significant. So we have hope.”“We are disciples of the Savior Jesus Christ, wherever we are, in any setting, in any opportunity,” Elder McCune said. “We have jobs and careers, but it’s there to support our families and put us in situations to share the gospel. That’s our primary responsibility as disciples of Jesus Christ.”The man entered Elder McCune’s office and asked why Latter-day Saints didn’t eat cookies or dance?“The Lord communicated to me that he needed investment managers,” Elder McCune said. “He needs accountants, plumbers, archaeologists, or whatever in every arena because there are people who need to learn of Him and the gospel from His disciples. My primary responsibility was to be a husband, father, and a disciple of Christ, but it was OK for me to be an investment manager. That changed the way I began to view my work relations and career.”Elder McCune, the youngest of six children, was six years old when his parents were divorced and his father became less active in the Church. His mother later remarried a widower with eight children, creating a new family of 14 children. Her example of selflessness and dedication to the Lord bolstered his testimony while his stepfather, Ray Schulthies, became an example of hard work and consecrated priesthood leadership.
Elder John A. McCune was sustained Saturday, April 6, 2019, as a General Authority Seventy in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.Elder McCune went on work as the senior vice president and managing director for Capitol Investment Advisors before becoming a donor liaison for principal gifts with The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints Philanthropies.John Allen McCune was born in Santa Cruz, California, on June 20, 1963, to Clifford McCune and Joan Fuhriman Schulthies. He was primarily raised in Nyssa, Oregon, where he grew up irrigating, bucking hay, fixing fences, and working cattle.Elder McCune met his future wife, Debbra Ellen Kingsbury, at Ricks College that same fall. They became good friends and shared a unique experience when she became sick and requested he give her a priesthood blessing.About six months later, when they would have been preparing to move to Dallas, Elder McCune was again commuting in the Southern California traffic, praying for direction, when an answer came that it was OK to move. He felt impressed to call American Airlines back and learned a position had just opened up. He was offered the job with better pay. Then upon returning to Dallas, the McCunes found the same “perfect” home was still for sale at an even lower price. They were able to move in right away.“Throughout my life I’ve had a series of wonderful experiences that have further cemented and secured my conversion,” Elder McCune said.“We are deeply grateful to our Heavenly Father who has led and orchestrated our lives, often in ways that we just could not foresee,” Elder McCune said.As they talked, Elder McCune clarified misconceptions about the Church and put the man at ease, which led to other positive conversations about the gospel of Jesus Christ.Elder McCune’s own father was never again active in the Church, but before he died, Elder McCune would periodically drive 12 hours to visit him, do handyman repairs around his house, and take him out to eat. In his father’s last hours, Elder McCune saw a light in his eyes that strengthened his faith that things would work out. The McCunes were married in the Salt Lake Temple in 1984. Today they live in Midway, Utah, where they are the parents of four children and the grandparents of eight grandchildren.The experience reaffirmed for Elder McCune the importance of always being ready to share the gospel with others.If we are willing to trust the Lord, He will orchestrate the details of our lives, Elder McCune said.Just as Elder McCune was starting his career, he had an experience that caused him to doubt what he was doing. One day he was scheduled to meet with a successful cardiologist and discuss the man’s investments. But the cardiologist was late because he was saving a patient’s life. What seemed so important to Elder McCune before left him feeling deflated. For the next few months he questioned his career path and wondered if he should be doing something more significant with his life, he said.“Obviously I eat cookies,” Elder McCune said with a smile, rubbing his stomach. “I think you have us confused with another church.”
Graphic by Joseph Tolman, Deseret News.But when they prayed, the clear answer was not to take the offer. While greatly disappointed, they followed the Lord’s counsel, Elder McCune said.“Of course neither of us knew that we would later be married,” Elder McCune said. “But it was a neat experience.”“We learned a profound lesson in trusting God,” Elder McCune said. “It doesn’t always work out that way, we understand that, but our faith and obedience always leads to blessings. We don’t know what those blessings are, and we don’t know the timing. A challenge of mortality is learning to trust enough to know that even though things might not make sense, if we listen to Him, He’ll guide and direct our lives, and it will be OK.”Elder McCune was one of 10 new General Authority Seventies sustained in the April 2019 general conference.Elder McCune received a bachelor of science degree in finance from BYU and later earned a master of business administration in finance from the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA).Elder McCune has served as ward finance clerk, elders quorum president, counselor in a ward Young Men presidency, counselor in a branch presidency, counselor in a bishopric, bishop, stake president, and president of the Utah Provo Mission. He was serving as Area Seventy in the Utah South Area at the time of his call as a General Authority Seventy.Elder McCune received a “dream job” offer from American Airlines to work at its corporate office in Dallas. They also found an affordable home in a beautiful neighborhood. As they flew back to California, it appeared everything was falling into place for an exciting new life. The only thing left to do was pray and receive the Lord’s approval, he said.Early in his business career, Elder John A. McCune recalls a conversation he had with his boss in which it quickly became clear the man didn’t know much about The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. In fact, Elder McCune realized the man probably wouldn’t have hired him had he known he was a member.The foundation of Elder McCune’s testimony was established at age 15 or 16 as he attended seminary and read the Book of Mormon. It was later cemented as a freshman at Ricks College (now BYU-Idaho) when living on his own for the first time. He recalled sitting in his apartment and having a “profound experience” as he listened to general conference in October 1981, he said.Elder McCune, then 18, was a newly ordained elder and had not given a blessing before, but was somewhat ready because he’d just given a lesson on priesthood ordinances in elders quorum. Sister McCune grew up in a less-active home and her father died when she was 14, so the first blessing she ever received turned out to be from her future husband.Then one day while commuting to work, Elder McCune said the Lord taught him an important lesson that changed his outlook.
“I’m really looking forward to RootsTech London,” said Osmond. “The United Kingdom is like a second home to me. Much of my own ancestry is British, so I feel a particular affinity to this country and the people who call it home. I’ve enjoyed performing in the UK throughout my career. Family and family stories are also very important to me. I’m excited to speak about my heritage at this exciting event.”Throughout his illustrious career, Osmond has been surrounded by his family. These relationships, past, present, and future, continue to be important to him. So much so that he has a section on his website, Donny.com, dedicated to family and family history. He enjoys finding common ancestors and linking his family tree with people from around the world.At 18 he became one of the youngest variety television show hosts in history with his younger sister, Marie, on The Osmonds, which aired in the United Kingdom on BBC1 on Sunday afternoons, and on ABC in the United States as Donny and Marie from 1976 to 1979.RootsTech, hosted by FamilySearch, is a global conference celebrating families across generations, where people of all ages are inspired to discover and share their memories and connections. This event, held annually in Salt Lake City, Utah and now in London, England, has become the largest of its kind in the world, attracting tens of thousands of participants worldwide.About RootsTechRootsTech, the world’s largest genealogy conference, is coming to London and is pleased to announce Donny Osmond as a featured speaker.The 2019 conference will be held at ExCeL London October 24-26, 2019. Osmond will address RootsTech attendees on Saturday, October 26, at 11:00 a.m.In 2009, Osmond won the 9th season of the American television series Dancing with the Stars with dancing partner, Kym Johnson. More recently, American audiences were astounded to discover that Donny was the talent behind the masked peacock, a fan favorite, on the first season of the American television show The Masked Singer.Family has always been an integral part of Osmond’s life and career. He joined his older brothers singing on The Andy Williams Show at the age of five. By the time he reached adolescence he had become a teenage heartthrob. With his brothers, he released beloved songs such as “Puppy Love,” “Sweet and Innocent,” and “Go Away Little Girl.”
Donny Osmond, renown entertainer, will be speaking at RootsTech 2019 in London about his heritage.Are you related to Donny Osmond? Find out by creating an account on FamilySearch Family Tree mobile app, and don’t pass up the opportunity to see him in person at RootsTech London 2019. Register today at rootstech.org/london.Throughout the ’90s Osmond spent much of his time participating in musical theater and was wildly successful in his role as Joseph in Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, performing the role over 2,000 times. Later, in 2006, he played the villain Gaston in Disney’s Beauty and the Beast. He also provided rich vocals for songs in two well-known animated films. He sang “No One Has to Be Alone” in Universal’s The Land Before Time IX: Journey to Big Waters and “I’ll Make a Man out of You” in Disney’s Mulan.Osmond has been performing with his younger sister, Marie, in Las Vegas since 2008. Their show, originally scheduled for just six weeks, is now in its 10th year, with the final show now scheduled for late 2019. During the last decade, their show has received multiple awards, such as Best Show, Best Singer, Best Band, and Best Dancers.In the late ’80s Osmond added two more popular singles to his list of hits, “Soldier of Love” and “Sacred Emotion,” both ranking high on billboard charts.Osmond’s successful career as an entertainer has spanned five decades. He is known internationally for his talent as a singer, songwriter, actor, television series host, and as a best-selling author.