The Church’s Self-Reliance initiative, for example, provides opportunities for course participants to build a network of friendship and support that builds confidence and positive behaviors, leading to economic and personal success. It focuses on the “whole person” by building both faith in God and essential principles such as integrity, honesty, hard work, service, and teamwork.As part of his apostolic duties, Elder D. Todd Christofferson meets with members and many others across the world. He’s witnessed places of great beauty and wealth.The Church’s Perpetual Education Fund is another key program improving lives and families. The idea of PEF is simple: loan money to motivated but underprivileged individuals so they can obtain a formal education, allowing them to pay the loan back gradually as their education leads to greater income and a higher standard of living.His remarks at the forum of global religious leaders focused on the Church’s worldwide efforts to help “those less fortunate.” His intention was not to boast—only to “share our experiences” and build understanding. “We all have much to learn from each other, whatever our religious or ethical motivations for serving.” Elder Christofferson, right, applauds during the G20 Interfaith Forum in Buenos Aires, Argentina, on Wednesday, September 26, 2018. Photo courtesy of Gustavo Garello, Deseret News.The Church’s Humanitarian Relief efforts supply basic necessities to those in acute need—whether caused by natural disaster, political instability, or other forces.Elder Christofferson is no stranger to Argentina. He served a mission in the South American nation and retains a love for “this country and its wonderful people.”“It comes from my faith’s scriptures, which tell of a promised land, a holy city, established by the Prophet Enoch thousands of years ago. All who sought to live in peace and walk with God were welcomed there. In time the city became great in the eyes of God, even heavenly, because, as our scriptures state, the people ‘were of one heart and one mind, and dwelt in righteousness; and there was no poor among them’” (Moses 7:18).“When breadwinners are able to escape poverty and become economically and personally self-reliant, they have more resources to raise their children to be self-sufficient, educated, productive, and good citizens,” he said. “And people who are self-reliant can better serve in their communities and make valuable contributions to their societies and nations.”“Over the past three decades, the Church and its members have given more than $2 billion in assistance to people in 195 countries and territories,” he said. “Our objective is to relieve suffering, foster self-reliance, and provide opportunities for service.”Now as a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, he commits Christ’s teachings to care for the poor and needy. “We believe that is one of our fundamental moral obligations as a people and a Church. With members in virtually every country in the world, we seek to help wherever and whenever we reasonably can.”“But I have also met numerous people of great potential and goodness living in terrible poverty, struggling to provide the basic necessities of life for their families,” he said Wednesday during his plenary address at the G20 Interfaith Forum in Buenos Aires, Argentina. “It is often heartbreaking.”The Church’s efforts to help the less fortunate are jointly anchored to meeting both a person’s short- and long-term needs. It is vital to distinguish between the two.But does it really work?And its results?Recent examples include emergency relief projects following natural disasters such as earthquakes in Mexico and hurricanes in the Caribbean and the Philippines. There are also longer-term programs that provide communities with, say, improved sanitation facilities and training and equipment for improved neonatal care.Concluding, Elder Christofferson shared his vision of success in the quest to alleviate poverty and elevate society: Elder D. Todd Christofferson, right, talks to Sharif Aly, CEO of Islamic Relief USA, at the G20 Interfaith Forum. Photo courtesy of Gustavo Garello, Deseret News.“I’m happy to report that the results have been marvelous,” he said. “In just three and a half years, over 700,000 participants have taken a course, including thousands from other faiths. In Argentina, Chile, Uruguay, and Paraguay alone, almost 7,000 business have been started or improved, over 4,200 individuals have found a new or better job, about 1,500 participants completed a personal financial course, and approximately 7,000 others started an education with a career goal.”Elder Christofferson emphasized that the Church’s aim is to help not only individuals but also their families.“Since its launch in 2001, the Perpetual Education Fund has issued more than 93,000 loans in over 70 countries, including over 2,500 loans in Argentina alone,” he said.“In contrast with these humanitarian programs, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has programs that provide or facilitate practical education and skills that supply what some might call ‘human capital’—the knowledge and ability to be more productive and create lasting economic and personal improvements.”Meanwhile, the Brigham Young University-Pathway Worldwide program makes higher education more accessible without the need for students to come to a university campus. Flexibility and affordable tuition allow participants to further their education and build valued skills.“Secular knowledge and faith combine to empower group members to achieve their goals and become more self-reliant.”Elder Christofferson explained that all such aid is based on core principles of personal responsibility, self-reliance, and sustainability. Elder Christofferson spoke at the G20 Interfaith Forujm on the Church’s moral obligation to help the poor and needy. Photo courtesy of Gustavo Garello, Deseret News.Assistance is provided without regard to race, religious affiliation, or nationality. Elder D. Todd Christofferson, right, Yoshinobu Mlyke, center, and Abdullah Al Lheedan, left, pose for a group photo at the G20 Interfaith Forum. Photo courtesy of Gustavo Garello, Deseret News.“Through both the Perpetual Education Fund and the Pathway program we seek to provide participants with the education and skills needed to succeed in the economy of the future,” he said.“Someone who lacks sufficient food cannot pursue an education,” he said. “But treating long-term problems as if they were short-term needs can produce dependency, indolence, and resentment. Therefore, while the Church of Jesus Christ has programs aimed at both types of needs, the ultimate goal is always to foster greater dignity, self-sufficiency, and independence.”
Sister Grahl served with her husband as he presided over the Brazil Brasília Mission and the Brazil Missionary Training Center. She is a former stake and ward Relief Society president, stake Young Women presidency counselor, and ward Young Women president. She was born in Uruguaiana, Rio Grande so Sol, Brazil, to Romeu Morais and Gelsa Carvalho Varallo.A new temple president and matron have been called by the First Presidency. They will begin their service when the temple is dedicated. Artist’s rendering of the Fortaleza Brazil Temple.Paulo Renato Grahl, 70, Vila Sônia Ward, São Paulo Brazil Stake, called as president of the Fortaleza Brazil Temple. President Grahl’s wife, Zuleika Morais Grahl, will serve as temple matron. He is a former Area Seventy, Brazil Brasília Mission president, Brazil Missionary Training Center president, stake president, branch president, patriarch, and temple sealer. Retired translator for special projects for the Church, he was born in Novo Hamburgo, Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil, to Albino and Iracema Grahl.
Paulo and Zuleika Grahl.Fortaleza Brazil Temple
“Expose yourself to a wide variety of thoughtful, reasoned opinions to provide you with an understanding of different points of view and enable you to make quality decisions for yourself,” he said.“In fact, seeking light and truth should be a necessity and a duty for every one of us. I invite you never to stop quenching your thirst for knowledge at the fountains of truth.”Recognizing that Nicolas’s question “concerns all of us,” Bishop Caussé said it has continued to run through his mind even years later.“Choose your sources of information with great prudence and wisdom,” he said. “The invasion of technology in our society has impaired spirituality and resulted in a great deal of confusion.”“He didn’t say this, but I felt like I should write it down—we can find revelation and seek revelation in spiritual things,” Mayanin said, “but also in school. I can use the Spirit to understand it.”2. Seek knowledge out of the best booksBishop Caussé, along with Nicolas Giusti, an Italian pianist and conductor, played an impressive duet on two pianos on stage in the Assembly Hall in downtown Salt Lake City on September 25.“After several minutes of silence, a very distinguished man sitting with his family on the front row stood up and asked the first question,” the Presiding Bishop recalled. “I can still hear his words, expressed with great enthusiasm and a huge smile: ‘My family and I were baptized just a few months ago. Before my baptism, I had a million questions in my mind, but since meeting the missionaries, all of my questions have been answered. I feel completely satisfied, and I no longer have any questions. Is that okay?’”“The gospel is made of plain and simple truths, which even a child should be able to understand,” he said. “Rejection of the principle of simplicity and clarity has been the origin of many apostasies.”Bishop Caussé warned students of being fascinated by the sensational or of intellectualizing spiritual concepts.Stating that the discovery of the restored gospel and receiving long-awaited answers to life’s questions can produce deep feelings of joy, wonder, and fulness, Bishop Caussé said that although a person may have received a fulness of the gospel, it doesn’t mean they have received all knowledge.1. Read, study, and ponder the scriptures
LDS Business College students line up outside the Assembly Hall on Temple Square before a devotional with Presiding Bishop Gérald Caussé on September 25. Photo courtesy of Kristin Murphy, Deseret News.LDS Business College students fill the Assembly Hall on Temple Square to hear Presiding Bishop Gérald Caussé’s advice on avoiding religious indifference. Photo courtesy of Kristin Murphy, Deseret News.
Presiding Bishop Gérald Caussé and Nicolas Giusti play a piano duet, which Guisti composed, for LDS Business College students during a devotional at the Assembly Hall on Temple Square. Photo courtesy of Kristin Murphy, Deseret News.Make reading, studying, and pondering the scriptures—in particular the Book of Mormon—and the words of the modern-day prophets a “nonnegotiable part of your daily routine,” regardless of time constraints.“God’s intelligence is so vast and infinite that ‘it is impossible that man should find out all His ways,’” he said. “However, it does mean that we have received everything necessary to accomplish the purpose of our existence or, in other words, to obtain our eternal salvation and exaltation.”Their friendship began nearly 10 years ago while Bishop Caussé was visiting a stake conference in Rome, Italy. He opened up the Saturday evening session to questions from members.“Always remember that the knowledge of gospel truths comes from a spiritual witness and not from the intellect,” he said. “We may, at times, experience periods of spiritual doubt. However, these doubts are rarely resolved by a search for rational explanations. Although certain scientific or intellectual discoveries may occasionally comfort us and strengthen our testimonies, spiritual knowledge cannot be proven by logic or by tangible means.“Not wanting to know the truth does not change the reality of things,” he said. “The vital need for all individuals to find happiness should inspire them to seek the truth continually.”“Your spiritual learning should not be motivated by doubt, but rather by a sense of awe and wonder for the truths of the gospel,” he said.Base a search for knowledge on recognized and reliable sources of information rather than on the “hodgepodge of content often found in social media.”“I am always surprised to observe how many people in our day, even after having been introduced to the gospel, do not find the truth simply because they feel no particular need or desire to learn more about it,” he said. “Religious indifference is one of the evils of our day.”“I feel great joy in knowing that, as members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, even though we have received a fulness of essential gospel knowledge, we can still continue to ask questions and learn every day of our lives. Thanks to personal revelation, we have access to an ever-increasing flow of spiritual and secular knowledge and understanding.
Presiding Bishop Gérald Caussé hugs Nicolas Giusti after the two performed a piano duet. Bishop Caussé first met Giusti at a stake conference in Rome, Italy, nearly 10 years ago. Photo courtesy of Kristin Murphy, Deseret News.Megan agreed and added, “I don’t have to have deep questions about the gospel to acquire knowledge—I can find knowledge in all aspects of life and in school.”“We share the same passion for music, but he is a musical maestro while I am only a simple amateur,” Bishop Caussé said.So, in response to Nicolas’s inspired question from a decade before, Bishop Caussé responded:“Be willing to consider differing, well-considered opinions about the issues of our day. … The broad perspective provided by these information sources gives me a good foundation upon which to form my own opinions,” he said.Recognize that with the internet comes an “uninterrupted avalanche of extreme opinions” that provide often insignificant pieces of information.“Use the gift of the Holy Ghost that you have received. Use it without restriction.”“Today I would like to give him a more complete answer,” said Bishop Caussé.For Mayanin and Megan Pazos, LDS Business College students and sisters from Pueblo, Mexico, listening to Bishop Caussé gave them new insights about receiving revelation.The leader then spent the next half-hour discussing different elements of learning and knowledge, emphasizing the importance of pondering as an essential foundation for learning.“This information overload can often become disconcerting and paralyzing. How can one distinguish between truth and error?”Bishop Caussé encouraged students to use sources of information that are recognized as reliable and to avoid social media sites that may not be accurate.Recognizing there are still more truths to receive, Bishop Caussé spoke of the pursuit of knowledge and revelation and shared four pieces of advice:Always have at home or on a mobile device one or several well-chosen books available to read.Presiding Bishop, General Authority Seventy, businessman, and concert pianist.Cultivate faith, humility, and simplicity, and seek the constant companionship of the Holy Ghost.Those are just some of the titles that could easily be bestowed upon Presiding Bishop Gérald Caussé, especially after the LDS Business College devotional on Tuesday morning.Whether a person is satisfied with his or her current beliefs, is afraid to know the truth, or is caught up in a world view, that doesn’t change the fact that there is truth available.3. Make sure sources of information are reliable4. Strive for faithful, simple, Spirit-led study
“I prayed they would be able to live and reach their 100th birthdays,” Allen said. “He was so involved in serving others. He served God and kept the commandments. That was first in his life. … He’s a faithful guy.”The Henderson brothers were born in Arimo, Idaho, on September 6, 1918, with Boyd born about two hours before Ralph. The 1929 stock market crash led the family to Pocatello, where the twins grew up working side by side in the family feed store.“The party was an amazing experience to see so many people come to not only wish him [Ralph] a happy birthday but to thank him for the powerful impact his example and service has had on their life,” Monroe said in a text message. “I was told countless stories about my dad’s Christlike love and service. As I thought of his long life, I was overwhelmed to think of the thousands who have been a recipient of his goodness.”“I have seen him in many difficult situations, whether it was caring for 14 years for my mother after her debilitating stroke or health challenges and the ravages of age. He continues to push forward and does not give up,” she said. “He faithfully attends church, has a ministering assignment, and constantly asks me what more he could do to serve. He has limited eyesight and hearing, not to mention his compromised heart function since his attack in April. He just keeps going, and I know it isn't easy for him. His influence and love has touched thousands through his 100 years.”The brothers Henderson are also stalwart believers in observing the Word of Wisdom, the Church's health code, outlined in Doctrine and Covenants 89.After the war, the Henderson brothers settled down with their families and opened a sawmill in the Salmon National Forest. Later, they started the Henderson Lumber Company in Pocatello.
Brothers Ralph and Boyd Henderson while at Fort Lewis, Washington, in 1942. Photo courtesy of the Henderson family.Before their service in World War II, their father promised the twins, along with two other brothers and one brother-in-law, in priesthood blessings that if they observed the Word of Wisdom and lived the commandments, they would be protected and return home safely. They never forgot that promise, and all five returned home, the Hendersons said.Besides being a patriot and Church leader, Boyd Henderson has been a BYU football season ticket holder since the 1970s and has a passion for water-skiing, although it’s been a while since he was behind a boat. He also supported the Boy Scouts of America and received the Silver Beaver Award, Allen said. Twin brothers Ralph and Boyd Henderson visit with family and friends at their 100th birthday party last week in Pocatello, Idaho. Photo courtesy of the Henderson family.“There is a blessing there,” Boyd Henderson said of the Word of Wisdom. “There are a lot of people who don't understand it, and I explain it to them. That is why I think I am here today, because I kept the commandments of God and kept the Word of Wisdom.”While Boyd Henderson served as a county commissioner and also as stake president and later a mission president in Melbourne, Australia, Ralph's wife, Lena, suffered a stroke that left her partially paralyzed. Ralph was her primary caretaker for 14 years. She died in 2001. A year later, Ralph married LeNore Thompson Smedley.One lesson Monroe learned from her father is what it means to have grit.Boyd and Ralph graduated from Pocatello High School in 1936. They went to a year of college and were considering missionary service when the radio announced Ralph's draft number in 1941. The brothers decided to enlist in the National Guard and became part of the 183rd Field Artillery Battalion.Boyd's wife, Ethel, died in 2011. They also have a large posterity that includes dozens of grandchildren and great-grandchildren. Daughter Melanie Henderson Allen helped to create a display showcasing her father's life and was thrilled to see some of her father’s missionaries visit with him at the party.Jason Henderson, Boyd’s son, continues to see his father as a real-life hero.Ralph and Lena's posterity includes five children and many grandchildren and great-grandchildren. Julie Henderson Monroe, Ralph's daughter, said the 100th birthday party was worthwhile to see so many people honor her father.During the war, Boyd and Ralph Henderson did their best to stay in touch as they served in parts of North Africa and Europe. They were among the first troops to enter Rome and returned home with a souvenir Nazi flag.“Well, you have to keep the commandments. They are essential in life,” Ralph Henderson said. “I don't know why all these things have come upon me to live this long, but I am trying to keep the commandments, and someday I will go back to my Father in heaven and to my [wife,] Lena.”Before they celebrated their 100th birthdays with friends and family earlier this month, twin brothers and World War II veterans Boyd and Ralph Henderson shared lessons learned over a lifetime of membership in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.As a demonstration of their devotion, they sold the cigarettes and liquor that came with their K rations and collected enough money to buy lumber and supplies to build a small chapel for worship services on the island of Sardinia in the Mediterranean, with the help of other Latter-day Saint soldiers. Left, Boyd and Ethel Henderson, with Ralph and Lena Henderson, in Cheyenne, Wyoming, before the brothers departed for officer candidate school in 1941. Photo courtesy of the Henderson family. Ralph Henderson, standing far left, and Boyd Henderson, standing second from the right, in front of the Latter-day Saint chapel they built with other LDS soldiers on the Isle of Sardinia. Photo courtesy of the Henderson family.POCATELLO, IDAHOBut it's not quite over yet, his slightly younger brother, Ralph Henderson, added.It has made all the difference, they agreed.Seated in matching soft red chairs and dressed in suits with orange ties, the silver-haired Henderson brothers were asked what difference the gospel of Jesus Christ has made in their lives.“It is the only thing, the main thing in my life,” Boyd Henderson said. “That is why I am 100 years old today, because I have kept the commandments that have been given to me.”When his convoy to the West Coast stopped to refuel in Pocatello, Ralph Henderson arranged to marry his high school sweetheart, Lena Rawlins, in less than four hours.“It’s hard to put into words how I feel,” Jason Henderson said. “Most boys grow up and idolize different people, a ballplayer or movie star. I can honestly say I have never idolized or held up anyone like I have my dad. He is the genuine article. After the war, he did everything he was supposed to do for his family. He served in his church and community. In all the different facets, he lived the way we hope we can live. I just want to emulate what he did. He has lived in a way that speaks volumes.”Before going overseas, both brothers married their sweethearts. While on a three-day leave, Boyd Henderson was sealed to Ethel Chilton in the Salt Lake Temple. Ralph Henderson, left, and Boyd Henderson, right, were honored in the Provo Freedom Festival 2012. Photo courtesy of the Henderson family.
Elder Rasband, front right, watches his wife, Sister Rasband, speak during a mission leadership seminar with the mission presidents and wives from the South America South Area on August 28, 2018, in Montevideo, Uruguay.Ministering Elder Rasband of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles is interviewed by former Paraguay president Federico Franco during the latter’s radio program on August 30, 2018.Mentoring Elder Ronald A. Rasband, Sister Melanie Rasband, and Elder Carlos A. Godoy of the Presidency of the Seventy greet missionaries following a meeting. Members, leaders, and missionaries attended meetings presided over by Elder Rasband.The memory spurred Elder Rasband on to greet the Saints during his late August and early September visit to the South America South Area. And Elder Rasband not only applied that teaching moment from years ago, but he shared it in several ways.The other shared teaching came when Elder Carlos A. Godoy of the Presidency of the Seventy, who accompanied Elder Rasband to South America, approached the Apostle prior to a meeting with some 700 members and suggested “maybe we had better skip this shaking-hands today.”In addition to the meetings, Elder Rasband highlighted the opening of Paraguay’s inaugural Symposium of Strengthening Society Through Strong Families as the keynote speaker. It was held in Asunción’s Palace of Congress, as the government’s Ministry of Education and Sciences brought together religious, government, and academic leaders for the multi-day seminar.Elder Rasband responded with a finger in the chest of his companion—à la Elder Scott—and a reminder of his earlier experience. “It has been passed on,” Elder Rasband said. Map of Elder Ronald A. Rasband’s visit to the South America South Area. Aaron Thorup, Deseret News.Elder Rasband described the myriad of meetings with people of all ages and varied callings and responsibilities as an opportunity to uplift and encourage. “We’re putting spiritual gas in the tanks of our members,” he said.During his recent nine-day assignment to the South American trio of Argentina, Uruguay, and Paraguay, Elder Ronald A. Rasband of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles looked forward to daily greeting the Saints, including shaking the hands of hundreds of members, leaders, and missionaries.Besides helping reiterate and underscore President Nelson’s teachings in all their meetings, Elders Rasband and Godoy looked to minister by example. “It was for me ‘a message without words,’” said Elder Godoy of all the settings, whether large or small. “Just shaking hands, being with them, spending time with them was a message of ministering and how important they are to the Lord.” Itinerary of Elder Ronald A. Rasband’s visit to the South America South Area. Aaron Thorup, Deseret News.Following Elder Scott’s brief message, the two shook every hand—and departed in time to make the connection. Elder Rasband is joined by Sister Rasband and Elder Carlos A. Godoy of the Presidency of the Seventy in greeting missionaries.“Then I would make it our message—‘We love you and we thank you’—and on those principles of a simple handshake and a message of love and appreciation, then we taught the gospel of Jesus Christ. But it had the foundations of this tender little ministering and the expression of love and appreciation.”Elder Rasband covered a wide range of topics during the radio interview—from the earlier symposium speech to the name of the Church and on to principles of self-reliance and welfare. And when asked about the Church’s position on abortion, he used the opportunity to speak of the Plan of Salvation.“That was a mistake on my part,” Elder Rasband recalled. “He literally pointed his finger in my chest—I’ll never forget it, I can still feel it—and he said, ‘I will cut my message short because shaking hands is part of my message.’ And he did.”He repeatedly thought back to an experience years earlier in the same area with Elder Richard G. Scott, when as a General Authority Seventy he joined the late Apostle in visiting with members in Córdoba, Argentina. Elder Rasband knew of Elder Scott’s love for the people and his desire to shake their hands after meetings, but as the two faced limited time to make a connecting flight that day, Elder Rasband suggested dispensing with greeting the members. Elder Rasband gestures to the congregation—who answer in kind—in a member meeting.On that same day, Elder Rasband was featured on an Asunción radio program hosted by Dr. Federico Franco, a former president of Paraguay. Members in the country were encouraged to tune in, as were the missionaries, many of whom listened with those whom they were teaching.They coupled the ministering by example with verbal messaging from the Prophet as well as from themselves. “I said, ‘Would you all like to have a little message from President Nelson?’ and, of course, they all got excited,” Elder Rasband said of the meetings, when he would then tell of President Nelson’s instructions to the Apostles in their temple meeting to go out and convey his personal love, best wishes, and appreciation for the members. Elder Carlos A. Godoy of the Presidency of the Seventy speaks at a meeting while accompanying Elder Rasband on a nine-day assignment to the Church’s South American South Area.The pair of leaders gained a greater appreciation for the members and the obstacles they face—such as during the visit to Argentina, that country’s government devalued the national currency by 30 percent. But still, the Saints in Argentina—as well as Paraguay and Uruguay—remain strong and faithful.The recalled experience and using it to express love to the members and teach them and the leaders were representative of the South America South experiences for Elders Rasband and Godoy—ministering, expressing love, and mentoring new leaders. Elder Rasband greets missionaries. The Rasbands met with missionaries and mission leaders in three countries during the late August and early September 2018 trip to the South America South Area. Elder Rasband and his wife, Sister Melanie Rasband, speak during a mission leadership seminar with the mission presidents and wives from the South America South Area on August 28, 2018, in Montevideo, Uruguay. Elder Rasband, left, gives his keynote address on the pillar of religious freedom and the pillar of the family at the August 30, 2018, Symposium of Strengthening Society Through Strong Families in Asunción, Paraguay. Held at the Palace of Congress and sponsored by the government’s Ministry of Education and Sciences, the event drew religious, government, and academic leaders for the multi-day seminar. Missionaries take notes during messages from Elder Rasband and Sister Rasband at a mission meeting in August 2018.Symposium and radio programThe catalyst for the interfaith symposium started a year earlier with an invitation from Paraguay’s ambassador to the United States when he visited Elder Rasband and asked him to share a message on religious freedom and families similar to the one the Apostle gave previously in El Salvador. Elder Rasband agreed on the condition that the government sponsor the event, rather than the Church. A year after the invitation, on August 30, the symposium became a reality.“It was like friends talking about different subjects and not like a professional [radio host] talking to somebody he doesn’t know,” Elder Godoy said, adding “It was a different way of spreading the gospel and the news about the Church to thousands.”One was with the members during his recent assignment. “I said, ‘Let me tell you what I learned from this Apostle in Argentina—shaking your hands is part of my message today,’ and they loved it,” he said as he told of his experiences with Elder Scott. “It’s just another little mode of ministering and expressing love. . . . And I kept doing it up ’til the very end.”For Elder Godoy, it was his first international assignment since being called to the Presidency of the Seventy in the April 2018 general conference, being mentored throughout the trip by Elder Rasband, who before his 2015 call to the Apostleship presided over the Presidency of the Seventy as its senior member.“They come to these meetings, and they don’t need to be berated, they don’t need to be given a guilt trip, they don’t need ‘do this, do that.’ They come to know that God loves them and that they’re appreciated and that we care about them and that the Lord loves them.”“It was a great opportunity for them to start with the right vision and the right spirit,” Elder Godoy said, adding that he was an equal recipient of the training and mentoring. “And they got the message that whatever they are doing should be done by focusing their priorities, goals, and plans with the priorities of our prophet, President Nelson.”“We changed the whole nature of those meetings by starting and talking about the importance of the pillar of religious liberty and the pillar of family, that they go together,” Elder Rasband said, adding that the seminar was considered a success, with plans to have similar events in coming years.“They have their personal, family, economic, and even church challenges,” Elder Godoy said. “But at the end of the day, they love the Lord. And they are willing to be taught, they are willing to follow their leaders. They’re humble people with challenges in their lives, but their hearts are in the right place.”And together, Elders Rasband and Godoy in turn mentored not only the member leaders in meetings but also the Area Presidency of Elders Benjamin De Hoyos, Mark A. Bragg, and Juan Pablo Villar—the latter two General Authority Seventies in their first such assignments.
Church members walk around the Nauvoo Illinois Temple, June 26, 2002. Photo courtesy of Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News.One marker bore a statement by Newel Knight: “Here we all halted & took a farewell view of our delightful City. … We also beheld the magnificent Temple rearing its lofty tower towards the heavens. … My heart did swell within me.”During the closing moments of the dedication of the Nauvoo Illinois Temple on June 30, 2002, President Gordon B. Hinckley noted it was “a very hot day” in Nauvoo. Nevertheless, he asked that those attending the dedication in Nauvoo to take a few minutes to “walk down Parley Street to the waterfront,” the landing on the Mississippi River from which the early Saints departed Nauvoo and crossed into Iowa on their westward trek.What unfolded on that late afternoon/early evening on June 30, 2002, was as a spiritual snapshot, the capturing of a moment to remember forever. Church members heeded a prophet’s voice. It was 95 degrees Fahrenheit, as humidity readings hovered in the 90s. The distance covered, approximately a mile, wasn’t significant, but the walk itself was.He asked members to leave behind the comfort of their air-conditioned cars to walk and take time to read plaques along what is designated as the Trail of Hope and read about those who left behind the beautiful temple and the “city of Joseph” they had built in just six and a half years.There we were, 156 years later, gazing at a similar scene, feeling some of the same emotions.Parents pushed baby strollers and carried infants in their arms and toddlers on their shoulders. Some members went to the waterfront in conventional or motorized wheelchairs. Some walked with the aid of crutches or canes. Mike Larsen, originally from Blackfoot, Idaho, who then lived in Iowa City, Iowa, made his way down the route on crutches. “It’s nothing compared to what the pioneers did,” he told me.When the dedicatory session concluded, the temple’s doors opened. What happened next was a sight to behold. More than a thousand members exited the temple, some by its front doors from which they could see the late afternoon sun glistening on the Mississippi River. Hundreds who watched the dedication in the nearby Nauvoo Illinois Stake Center joined the throng walking down the hill. I fell in with them. With the new Nauvoo Illinois Temple to our backs, it wasn’t hard to imagine the scene as earlier Saints left the original temple for the last time. Church members wait to enter the Nauvoo Illinois Temple during one of 13 dedicatory sessions held June 27–30, 2002. Photo courtesy of Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News.President Hinckley surely knew what that walk would mean to those who attended the dedication of the Nauvoo Illinois Temple. He had gone on that walk many times during earlier visits to Nauvoo. I was privileged to take along my camera as he walked down Parley Street to the water’s edge on one of those visits several years earlier.Mary Hart of the Garden Park Ward in Salt Lake City and a descendant of two of Nauvoo’s original settlers, James and Drusilla Hendricks, walked as far as she could while using crutches, but eventually resigned to sitting in a wheelchair pushed by a young relative, LeAnn Hord of Mesa, Arizona. Every bump along the uneven verge caused pain. Still, Sister Hart persisted in going the distance. President Gordon B. Hinckley dedicated the reconstructed Nauvoo Illinois Temple; he presided over 13 sessions June 27–30, 2002. Photo courtesy of Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News.
Latter-day Saints wait in line to attend a dedication session of the Nauvoo Illinois Temple, June 28, 2002. Photo courtesy of Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News.I walked with a mixture of emotions. Daylight was in its last moments; getting proper film exposures was difficult. Besides the fading light, I had trouble looking through the viewfinder because tears often blurred my vision. I felt spiritually elevated and emotionally drained.“Look across to Iowa,” President Hinckley said, inviting the members to ponder on those past events. He asked they imagine it not as a hot day in June but a day of bitter cold in February, the month when the first company of Saints left Nauvoo under dire circumstances in 1846.
President Gordon B. Hinckley talks prior to applying mortar to the coverstone at the Nauvoo Illinois Temple June 27, 2002. Photo courtesy of Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News.Until after dark, a steady stream of people walked to and from the river. It was a beautiful, yet rather somber, occasion. The mood was contemplative. Many members stopped to read some or all of the 28 markers along the Trail of Hope. Crowds stand outside the Nauvoo Illinois Temple after its first dedication session June 27, 2002. Photo courtesy of Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News.The marker bearing words of Bathsheba Smith touched many: “My last act set in that precious spot was to tidy the rooms, sweep up the floor, and set the broom in its accustomed place behind the door. Then with emotion in my heart … I gently closed the door and faced an unknown future; faced it with faith in God.”
President Eyring invited anyone battling doubts about the Church to try a spiritual experiment. “Assume that the Church is true, notwithstanding the human frailties of its members and leaders. Then look for at least one way in which you are not being true to the teachings of the Church.”President Eyring’s wife, Sister Kelly C. Eyring, also spoke at Tuesday’s devotional, comparing the process of gaining a testimony to collecting small coins.However, accumulating many pennies over a long time produces financial fortunes.But he had a secret weapon. His father had just been called as a General Authority.“‘Yes,’ I replied.So he called his father on the phone, described his situation, and awaited the answer that would surely refute these accusations. But his father’s answer surprised him.“He asked, ‘How do you feel when you read it?’After pondering this regret long enough to feel a softened heart, one should seek direction from Heavenly Father, consider talking with his or her bishop, then follow the example of Enos and Alma, President Eyring said. “Pray for feelings of remorse and for guidance in making things right. Having done that, pray for feelings of forgiveness.”“A single penny isn’t worth much,” she said. “In fact, we may feel that it is not worth the time and effort to pick it up.” Students walk out of the BYU–Idaho Center in Rexburg, Idaho, following the devotional presented by President and Sister Eyring. Photo courtesy of Cami Su, BYU–Idaho.“When those feelings came to me, as they had to them, I knew in both my heart and my mind that those stories are true. I could not deny that Enos and Alma the Younger were real people whose stories had been compiled by the prophet Mormon and revealed to the Prophet Joseph Smith.”“‘Good,’ I admitted.One might think the BYU–Idaho president would immediately call his father, President Henry B. Eyring, Second Counselor in the First Presidency. President Henry J. Eyring and his wife, Sister Kelly C. Eyring, talk to a student on the way to a devotional. Photo courtesy of Cami Su, BYU–Idaho.From reading the stories of Enos and Alma the Younger in the Book of Mormon in his teenage years, President Eyring learned the need for heart-changing repentance. Following their examples, he prayed for forgiveness and peace.When President Henry J. Eyring was a young law clerk, a supervisor who knew of his Church membership told him new research had invalidated the book of Abraham. “I was shaken by that accusation,” he said.“‘What else do you need to know?’ he asked.”That phone conversation didn’t help him out much at work, President Henry J. Eyring explained in a university devotional address held Tuesday, September 18, in the BYU–Idaho Center auditorium. However, it has caused him to reflect for the past 30 years on his own testimony of the book of Abraham and other works of scripture revealed to Joseph Smith.So where does he turn if not to his own father?“Likewise, the habit of looking for and picking up the seemingly small experiences that Heavenly Father places in our day can fill our testimony banks to overflowing,” Sister Eyring said. “The key is to recognize and ‘pick up’ those experiences and put them into our spiritual ‘bank accounts’ where they can be added to and grow larger, rather than being lost to memory.”As this happens, “you can recognize not only the miracle of forgiveness but also the power of the doctrines of the Church, through which forgiveness has come,” he said. “You can once again prove the truthfulness of the Church, notwithstanding the imperfections of its members.”“Whenever I am tempted to doubt the Church or any of its leaders, past or present, I need only to reevaluate my own spiritual state,” President Eyring said. “I ask myself the question, ‘Am I true?’”To the examples found in the scriptures, he said.Who does President Henry J. Eyring turn to when he begins to question the Church?Whenever following the cycle of recognition and repentance, he is not just relieved of the pain of feeling “untrue” but also has re-proven to himself that the Church and its sacred teachings are true, he said.“He simply asked, ‘Have you read the book of Abraham?’More than that, he knew that in this dispensation “the Lord has restored His gospel in its fulness and His Church in its completeness, with priesthood leaders authorized to speak for Him,” President Eyring said. Thus, he gained an unshakeable testimony that the Church restored through Joseph Smith is still led by a living prophet and by other leaders, called under His direction, he said.In order for a statement to be true, all parts of it must be true. One part of falseness makes the whole statement false. By that standard, the answer to President Eyring’s question is always “No.” Sister Kelly C. Eyring speaks on the process of gaining a testimony during the September 18 devotional in the BYU–Idaho Center. Photo courtesy of Cami Su, BYU–Idaho.“There is always some weakness I can identify, some failure requiring repentance,” he said.
Elder Renlund reminded the displaced members that they are “graven … upon the palms of [Christ’s] hands” (Isaiah 49:16) and that He will not forget or forsake them. He asked them to receive the blessings promised by the Savior in keeping the Sabbath day holy and honoring the law of the fast, reiterating the Lord’s promise that if they will, they can “raise up the foundation of many generations,” and they will “ride upon the high places of the earth” (Isaiah 58:12–14). Elder Renlund presides over a religious freedom conference in Peru. Photo courtesy of Dalene Griffin.For the first time in Peru, Elder Renlund presided at a religious freedom conference held in the Limatambo Peru Stake Center. Sister Renlund, an attorney by profession, participated in a panel discussion with Sister Denise P. Lindberg, a former district court judge of the 3rd judicial district of Utah; Dr. Moises Arrata, a Peruvian attorney; and Brother Guillermo Estrugo, public affairs director for the area. They answered questions such as “What can I do to protect and promote religious freedom?” and “How can members establish civil dialogue with others about the importance of religious liberty?”Elder Hugo Montoya, First Counselor in the Area Presidency, summarized Elder Renlund’s visit: “The Saints in the South America Northwest Area have been greatly blessed with the visit of Elder and Sister Renlund and Elder and Sister Teixeira and their great love for the Savior and for the members. Their teachings and witness have inspired us to be better and to minister to one another as the prophet and the Savior have taught us.”In a special devotional, Elder Renlund counseled and comforted displaced Venezuelan members, like Jose and Yarenmys Garcia. The Garcias arrived in Peru from Lara, Venezuela, six months ago to look for better opportunities. Though they have faced many challenges, they are grateful to have met the missionaries and to have been baptized while living in Peru.In a series of leadership, stake, and missionary conferences from September 8 through 16, Elder Renlund thanked members for exercising faith, accepting calls, and caring for the children of Heavenly Father. He asked leaders for a report on ministering efforts and taught the importance of ministering in “a newer, holier approach,” citing President Nelson’s direction for ministering to our brothers and sisters. He also focused on the importance of following the Savior’s example in Christlike caring for others. Parents and leaders, Elder Renlund reminded, can touch more hearts if they follow the Lord’s counsel in Doctrine and Covenants 121:39–41 to use “persuasion, by long-suffering, by gentleness and meekness, and by love unfeigned” rather than “unrighteous dominion.”Elder Enrique R. Falabella, Area President, concluded: “We are better people because of the visit of Elder and Sister Renlund.”
Elder Renlund greets a woman after a stake conference in Bolivia. Photo courtesy of John Griffin.While visiting Lima and Iquitos, Peru, and El Alto, La Paz, and Santa Cruz, Bolivia, Elder Renlund was accompanied by his wife, Ruth L. Renlund; Elder José A. Teixeira, of the Presidency of the Seventy; his wife, Filomena Teixeira; and Elders Enrique R. Falabella, Hugo Montoya, and Mathias Held, the Presidency of the South America Northwest Area. “The visit of Elder Renlund as an Apostle of Jesus Christ to Peru and Bolivia will surely bless all those who have heard his voice and follow his words full of wisdom and love,” said Elder Held, Second Counselor in the Area Presidency.Looking back on his recent visit to Peru and Bolivia, Elder Dale G. Renlund of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles said the country “just takes my breath away”—both in jest about the altitude (13,600 ft., or 4,150 m) and earnestly referencing the joy of meeting with Church members. A young sister missionary asks Elder Renlund a question during a conference in Bolivia. Photo courtesy of Dalene Griffin.
“We are mortals; we all make mistakes. But God wants us to become more like His Beloved Son,” President Nelson says in a video on the website. “[We can] literally become more like Him with every passing day. … We want to choose to be on the Lord’s side. We want to have Him as our God and let Him know that we are His people.”
“I remember having questions about being sealed in the temple, the temple garments, and covenants,” she said. “At first I didn’t really understand how important marriage is. As we talked about it in class, I started to understand more the importance of marriage and how it fits in the plan of salvation.”Because the premise of doctrinal mastery is meant to address current topics and questions facing youth today, it is important to include updated information and resources.
As the number of student enrollments in seminary rises, so does the need to provide doctrinal answers to students’ sincere questions. Graphic by Aaron Thorup and Seminaries and Institutes of Religion Annual Statistical Report (2018) enrollment and statistical information for the 2016–2017 school year.This year, the doctrinal mastery lessons are written as 40-minute lessons meant to take the entire class period about once a week.“We have included a suggested pacing guide in the appendix of the doctrinal mastery teacher material that suggests which … lessons to combine to make room for the doctrinal mastery lessons and suggestions about where to teach these lessons,” said Cameron Packer, manager of seminary curriculum. “This will help alleviate the problem teachers had with transitioning between doctrinal mastery and sequential scripture teaching.”“Gone are the days when a student asked an honest question and a teacher responded, ‘Don’t worry about it!’” President Ballard said during the 2016 announcement. “Gone are the days when a student raised a sincere concern and a teacher bore his or her testimony as a response intended to avoid the issue. Gone are the days when students were protected from people who attacked the Church.”Most important, instructors must create an environment that helps youth acquire spiritual knowledge.“The hardest thing has been fitting it in,” said Damon Kenrick, a seminary teacher at the Salt Lake City Utah West Seminary. “It is good material—well-written, essential, and we need to have it—it is just trying to fit it in in an applicable way.”Added Webb: “A constant challenge for teachers is to know what the most important things will be for your students to understand and learn. There is a balance between how much to cover and how deeply to cover certain topics. We hope our teachers will seek the guidance of the Holy Ghost to try to meet those needs the best they can.”
Seminary students worldwide benefit from the doctrinal mastery curriculum, which encourages them to find answers to current gospel questions in the scriptures. Graphic by Aaron Thorup.Since it takes some time to update the materials, especially with the translation process for students and teachers around the world, Webb said they are working on integrating doctrinal mastery into the daily class curriculum.Global impact“Beginning in 2019 (Old Testament year), the doctrinal mastery lessons and review activities will be incorporated into the Old Testament seminary teacher material so that there will no longer be two separate teacher manuals,” Packer said.“Doctrinal mastery has helped young people to open up with questions and arguments that are very profound and serious that sometimes are not addressed or shared,” said Paolo Petrollini, a seminary teacher for the Terni Ward in the Rome Italy East Stake. “It helped them to better understand the divine nature and the role of Christ for personal repentance. The best experiences for young people are related to the contextualization of personal life and the actual problems that they live and face in everyday life.”Since that announcement, seminary classes around the world have hosted important conversations covering important topics facing youth today. The focus on the doctrine allows students to find answers to questions for themselves.Among the topics included in doctrinal mastery are the Godhead, the plan of salvation, prophets and revelation, priesthood and priesthood keys, ordinances and covenants, marriage, and family.Doctrinal mastery, first introduced by President M. Russell Ballard of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles during a February 26, 2016, broadcast for Church Educational System employees, is one way students are learning how to learn in the gospel.“It’s remarkable how current the Book of Mormon is,” Webb said. “We’ve seen students come with questions that they think are new, and the answers are in the Book of Mormon. They come with a challenge they’re facing, and they feel a little bit alone in that challenge, like it is the first time that anybody’s been confronted with that question. And then they turn to the scriptures and find answers to their current questions.
Though they are spread throughout the world, seminary students study the same doctrines and concepts each year in classes around the globe. Graphic by Aaron Thorup.For the first years of doctrinal mastery the lessons were written with the idea that the portions of the lessons that helped students understand the doctrine would be taught in shorter 5- to 10-minute segments, with the practice exercises designed to take anywhere from 15 to 40 minutes.When Valeria Guzman was in high school, her mother dropped her off at the church meetinghouse every morning in time for seminary at 6:30 a.m. For many of the youth in her class, the early start time was difficult; for Guzman, it was the highlight of her day.Look to the futureJuswan Tandiman, who is the Asia Area Seminaries and Institutes director, said the initiative has been an “effective bridge” to help students better see and understand the relevancy of the doctrine and principles of the gospel of Jesus Christ in their personal lives.Kim Huber, a seminary teacher in the English-speaking seminary class in Rome, Italy, teaches youth through a video-conferencing platform. She said the addition of doctrinal mastery has enhanced the teaching of correct doctrine.That deeper understanding of marriage—in addition to other doctrinal topics—helped her as she navigated the halls of her high school and, more importantly, as her testimony began to grow.“More … seem to find it safe to ask their faith-related questions and concerns, to know where to look for additional legitimate information, and have begun developing greater confidence in living and sharing what they learn,” Brother Tandiman said.“Not everyone has implemented it exactly like we hope yet, so we’ve still got a ways to go,” he said. “It’s certainly blessing students, and I’ve heard a lot of positive feedback … but we still want to make it better. We keep updating materials and try to keep it current.”Guzman found her time in seminary became something she looked forward to daily, for it was a place she could ask questions and learn about the gospel. “My parents are converts, so they don’t have the background that some people do,” she said. “We learned the gospel together.”More than 400,000 seminary students are having similar conversations as they study doctrinal mastery in their classrooms, meetinghouses, and homes today.Rather than making doctrinal mastery separate than the curriculum of the school year, it will be part of the study guide for seminary teachers.Seminary teachers worldwide report that as they integrate doctrinal mastery into classroom discussions, they are seeing positive results with the students.“Doctrinal mastery helps the students to gain a focused, in-depth understanding of the gospel’s teachings. It helps them be able to connect the dots with the things they know or have been taught and put it together into a bigger picture. This is the foundation upon which their faith and testimony is being built.”“Just because the Book of Mormon was written anciently doesn’t mean it doesn’t apply and have the inspiration and guidance we need today.”
Seminary teachers and missionaries will be able to find both doctrinal mastery lessons and regular teaching material in the same manual beginning in 2019. Graphic by Aaron Thorup.“Questions are good and invite revelation,” Webb said. “We welcome questions and invite students to search out what the Lord has taught and then, as they find truth, to act on that truth. There are right answers, there are eternal truths, and we want students to come to those answers on their own.”“I would say a prayer before each class so my mind would be open and ready,” said Guzman from Kennesaw, Georgia, who is now a freshman at Brigham Young University.One of the highlights of her seminary experience, she recalls, was the time her class spent on doctrinal mastery.Recognizing that with a new initiative comes some unforeseen challenges, Webb said curriculum writers are always trying to work through problems as they arise. West High School junior Matthew Wilson discusses a scripture with his classmates during a seminary class at West High School in Salt Lake City on Monday, September 17, 2018. Photo courtesy of Steve Griffin, Deseret News.“For those teachers that are spending the time on it in class, it is helping students to understand fundamental doctrine better and how it applies to their questions in real-life scenarios,” said Chad H Webb, administrator in the Church Educational System. “It’s not just 100 questions and 100 answers. Rather, it is ‘how do I find answers and view this question with a more eternal perspective?’ Hopefully what we’re doing is helping them to learn how to learn as much as giving them answers to specific questions.” Students read to each other during a seminary class at West High School in Salt Lake City on Monday, September 17, 2018. Photo courtesy of Steve Griffin, Deseret News.Always improvingPacker said research also shows that while doctrinal mastery is helping students improve their understanding of the doctrine, a greater emphasis on using scripture passages to explain and teach doctrine is still needed.“Last week, a young man told of an experience which he had had and connected that experience to a principle we had been discussing in class,” said Jeanne Isaksen, a teacher in the Skien Ward, Drammen Norway Stake. “Another student had experienced a challenge in connection with her choice of schools. After she had been through that trying time, she was able to see the Lord’s hand in this experience and how He had in fact guided her through it, remembering a story and gospel teachings discussed in class. …Sonny Aiono, a coordinator in American Samoa, said the initiative has helped his students who are a little more quiet and reserved, saying, “They develop confidence to share as well.”“The program has really helped me as a teacher to be more mindful of pointing out when a doctrinal point is being taught and, I believe, helped the students to recognize how much doctrine is actually being taught in the scriptures,” Huber said. “Anything that leads us to more truth and better understanding is worthwhile—that is how I view the valuable addition of this doctrinal mastery program.”
Amy Wright, 46, Cherry Lane Ward, Layton Utah East Stake; born in Salt Lake City to Joy Bailey and Robert Anderson. Received a bachelor’s degree from the University of Utah in human development and family studies. Worked at Marquette University in the College of Communications where she helped facilitate an urban journalism camp for inner city youth. Married to James McConkie Wright; they have three children. Has served as a stake Primary president, gospel doctrine teacher, Sunday School teacher, and in various auxiliary presidencies and Scouting. Volunteered with the PTA, Spectrum Program, and the Huntsman Cancer Institute.Michael T. Nelson, 62, Wallsburg 2nd Ward, Midway Utah West Stake. Born in Salt Lake City to Monte and Viola Nelson. Studied organizational communications at Brigham Young University and the University of Utah. Works as the chief financial officer of a Utah-based conglomerate. Married to Barbara Fluckiger; they have nine children and 13 grandchildren. Served as a California San Bernardino Mission president, stake president, stake presidency counselor, stake executive secretary, bishop, ward and stake Young Men president, and missionary in the Chile Santiago Mission. Volunteered on the Utah National Parks Council and served on the 1997 Sesquicentennial Wagon Train Committee.Vicki G. Jackman, 64, Windsor 6th Ward, Orem Utah Windsor Stake; born in Logan, Utah, to Sally Taylor and Kenneth Glauser. Received a bachelor’s degree in early childhood education from Brigham Young University. Married to Brad Jackman; they have six children, 21 grandchildren. Served as a senior couple missionary with her husband from 2015-2017 in the England London Mission. Served as a stake Relief Society president, stake and ward Young Women president, Young Women camp director, and gospel doctrine teacher. Volunteered with the PTA and the Food and Care Coalition.
Shauna Merrill OgdenThree new Relief Society General Board members join four existing board members. The new board members are Tracy Yeulande Browning, Lori Draper, and Susan “Susie” Marie Mullen.
Tracy Yeulande BrowningSusan Marie Mullen, 62, Pleasant View 5th Ward, Provo Utah Sharon East Stake. Born in Newport Beach, California, to James Edward Owen and Jane Marie Stabler. Received a bachelor’s degree at Brigham Young University. Works as an adjunct faculty member in religious education at Brigham Young University where she teaches missionary preparation. Married to Thomas E. Mullen; they have four children. Served with her husband as he presided over the New York Utica Mission from 2003-2006 and as a Provo MTC branch president. Served as a gospel doctrine teacher, institute teacher, stake mission preparation teacher, ward Young Women president, and stake Young Women presidency counselor, and camp director. Volunteered with the PTA and as a Pathway institute teacher.Tracy Yeulande Browning, 41, Prairie 8th Ward, West Jordan Utah Prairie Stake. Born in New Rochelle, New York, to Clive Adams and Sharon Cox. Studied at St. John’s University. Works as a client service director in the Publishing Services Department of the Church. Married to Brayden D. Browning; they have two children. Served as a ward and stake Relief Society presidency counselor, Relief Society teacher, Mia Maid adviser, and in various Relief Society and Young Women callings. Volunteered with the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, Habitat for Humanity, and United Way Day of Caring.Carol Lawrence Costley, 58, Park Ward, Centerville Utah North Stake; born in London, England, to Mavis Gordon and Benjamin Lawrence. Received a master’s degree from Brigham Young University in social work. Worked with individuals and families as an independent services professional. Married to Gerald “Jerry” Louis Costley; they have five children and six grandchildren. Served as a Young Women and Relief Society presidency counselor, gospel doctrine teacher, and Young Women camp director. Volunteered with a local theater, counseling groups and the Disabled Rights Action Committee.
Vicki G. JackmanShauna Merrill Ogden, 53, Grandview 14th Ward, Provo Utah Grandview South Stake; born in Santa Monica, California, to Suzanne Turner and Steven Merrill. Attended Angeles Harbor College and received a medical assistant degree. Owns and operates medical businesses where she works as a financial officer and manager. Married to Jeffrey Gale Ogden; they have seven children and nine grandchildren. Served as a ward and stake Young Women president, Primary president and counselor, ward Relief Society president and Relief Society compassionate service leader. Volunteered with and served in leadership on the America’s Freedom Festival board, and other civic, philanthropic, and community organizations.Relief Society General BoardThomas E. Mullen, 63, Pleasant View 5th Ward, Provo Utah Sharon East Stake. Born in Idaho Falls, Idaho, to Charles Verlin Jr. and Eula Belle Starkey Mullen. Received a bachelor’s degree in business management and accounting from Brigham Young University and an MBA from the University of Utah. Works on the senior management team of a multinational firm, as president of a private charitable trust, and as an adjunct faculty member in Religious Education at Brigham Young University. Married to Susan Owen; they have four children. Served as a New York Utica Mission president, Provo MTC branch president, stake president, bishop, ward Young Men president, elders quorum president, and missionary in the Canada Toronto Mission. Volunteered with the Special Olympics and as a youth sports coach.Thomas E. Mullen and Michael T. Nelson have been called to the Young Men General Board.
Tara Lee MickelsenFour new members join several existing members of the Primary General Board. The new members are Nancy Pilkington Dance, Michelle M. King, Tara Lee Mickelsen, and Dana Wright.
Amy WrightDana Wright, 59, Sherwood Hills Ward, Provo Utah Edgemont North Stake. Born in Houston, Texas, to Jeannie Juergens and Gene Wright. Attended Brigham Young University. Worked as a receptionist in a pediatrician’s office in Provo, Utah. Married to John Wright; they have five children and eight grandchildren. Served as a ward Relief Society president and counselor, Young Women president and advisor, Primary president and music leader, and stake Relief Society presidency counselor. Volunteered with Mac’s Gifts, a children’s cancer charity, and as a member of the BYU Women’s Conference Committee as chairwoman of the service project.
Elizabeth Jane DargerTara Lee Mickelsen, 54, Alpine Cove Ward, Alpine Utah North Stake. Born in Salt Lake City, to Anita Freeman Bennett and James Michael Nielsen. Attended Salt Lake Community College and the University of Utah.Worked as a legal secretary and paralegal for seven years at a Salt Lake City law firm. Married to Richard Wayne Mickelson; they have four children. Served as a ward and stake Young Women president and counselor, ward and stake Primary president and counselor and Primary music leader. Volunteered with the PTA as well as a member of the Alpine District Cub Scout Committee in the Utah National Parks Council.Nancy Pilkington Dance, 61, Deer Creek Ward, Midway Utah West Stake. Born in Tokyo, Japan, to Joan Berntson and W. Farrell Pilkington. Received a bachelor’s degree in finance from BYU and a teaching certificate from Saint Xavier University. Married to Douglas Leon Dance; they have three children and two grandchildren. Served with her husband as he presided over the Baltic Mission from 2008 to 2011. Served as a stake Relief Society president, early morning seminary teacher, institute teacher, gospel doctrine teacher, and in various callings in the Relief Society, Young Women and Primary organizations. Volunteered with the PTA and Girl Scouts.
Dana WrightShelby Killpack, 57, Cascade 2nd Ward, Orem Utah Cascade Stake; born in Santa Barbara, California, to Doremis Sumter and Harold Williams. Studied family science at BYU. Married to Chris Daniel Killpack; they have six children and 13 grandchildren. Served with her husband in the Utah Orem Mission from 2015 to 2018. Served as a Young Women president, Primary president, gospel doctrine teacher, Relief Society instructor, stake cultural arts specialist, Young Women camp committee member, and service missionary for addiction recovery with young single adults. Volunteered with the PTA and as a service missionary at Orem High School Seminary.
Thomas E. Mullen
Primary General Board
Nancy Pilkington Dance
Lori Christine NewboldA new seven-member Young Women General Board has been organized. The board members include Carol Lawrence Costley, Elizabeth “Liz” Jane Darger, Vicki G. Jackman, Shelby Killpack, Lori Christine Newbold, Shauna Merrill Ogden, and Amy Wright.Lori Draper, 52, Emigration Canyon Ward, Salt Lake Monument Park Stake. Born in Salt Lake City to Ron and Barbara Veach. Received a bachelor’s degree in health promotion from Brigham Young University and a master’s degree in social work from Fordham University. Works as a social worker for LDS Family Services in Salt Lake City and has worked for LDS Family Services in New York City. Married to Malcolm Draper; they have three children. Served as a missionary in the North Carolina Charlotte Mission, an early morning seminary teacher, and in various Relief Society, Young Women, and Primary callings.The General Presidencies of the Young Women, Primary General, Relief Society, and Young Men of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints have called new members to their general boards.
Michael T. Nelson
Carol Lawrence Costley
Michael T. NelsonYoung Women General BoardYoung Men General BoardLori Christine Newbold, 37, Draper Single Adult Ward, Sandy Utah Willow Creek Stake; born in South Jordan, Utah, to Donna Catmull and Reed Newbold. Received a bachelor’s degree in psychology from BYU and a master’s degree in mental health counseling from University of Phoenix. Works as the director of training services for Seminaries and Institutes of Religion. Served in the Ohio Cincinnati Mission from 2002-2004. Has served as a Young Women president, Relief Society president, Sunday School teacher, Relief Society instructor, Young Women camp director, and member of the Materials Evaluation Committee for the Correlation Department of the Church.Michelle M. King, 61, North Canyon 4th Ward, Bountiful Utah North Canyon Stake. Born in South Ruislip, England, to Renée and Donald Milne. Received a bachelor’s degree in broadcast journalism from BYU. Worked as a KUTV news anchor (1978 to 2007), at BYU as an adjunct faculty and as a special projects producer at KSL-TV. Married to Steven D. King; they have four children and nine grandchildren. Served with her husband as he presided over the Georgia Atlanta North Mission from 2008 to 2011. Served as a ward Relief Society and Primary president, gospel doctrine teacher, choir director, stake and regional young single adult advisor, and Primary teacher and pianist. Volunteered with the School Music Program and on the CenterPoint Legacy Theatre Board.Members of the general boards work with the general presidencies to help meet the needs of members around the world.Elizabeth Jane Darger, 40, Grove 2nd Ward, Pleasant Grove Utah West Stake; born in Cincinnati, Ohio, to Anne Carroll Peterson and Stanford Parley Darger, Jr. Received a bachelor’s degree in family sciences and a masters degree in school counseling psychology, both from Brigham Young University. Works as the senior associate athletic director at BYU. Served as a part-time service missionary in LDS Distribution Services from 2003 to 2004. Served as a Relief Society president, Relief Society instructor, Young Women presidency counselor, nursery leader, and gospel doctrine teacher. Volunteers on the leadership team of the NCAA Common Ground initiative.
Michelle M. King
Susan Marie Mullen
That was the good news being reported September 19 by the Philippines Area Newsroom.Ninety-six chapels or meetinghouses were used as evacuation centers, which housed more than 4,000 evacuees composed of both members and those of other faiths. Priesthood leaders prepared food and water prior to the typhoon, which were provided to all those who took shelter in the meetinghouses.LDS Charities, the humanitarian arm of the Church, in coordination with the Helping Hands volunteers of the Church, were packing relief goods Wednesday. The provisions are expected to be distributed to impacted areas in coming days.Mission emergency plans were activated as mission presidents mobilized to ensure missionaries were in safe and secure locations, were transferred to higher ground, and had emergency kits with them at all times.Local Church leaders were planning to distribute 3,000 food kits to Benguet Province, 2,000 food kits for Cagayan Province, and an additional 2,000 kits will be distributed in the Ilocos Norte Province.No Latter-day Saints living in the path of Typhoon Mangkhut in the Philippines were killed and injured, and all missionaries in impacted regions in the Asian island nation are safe and accounted for.The massive storm caused deaths, landslides, damage to homes, and power outages.Rapid assessments were immediately done after the typhoon, and the Church is working with local vendors to secure food, water and other basic supplies, according to the report.In a radio interview, the Provincial Governor of Cagayan expressed appreciation to the Church for opening its doors to evacuees, according to the report.The current emergency response initiative of LDS Charities is in partnership with Humanitarian Response Consortium, Alagang Kapatid Foundation, Kaya Natin Movement, and Angat Buhay Program.The staging centers for the repacking of goods will be in the Tuguegarao North Stake Center for Tuguegarao; Legarda Stake Center for Baguio; and San Nicolas Chapel for Laoag, Ilocos Norte.
Camps and other outdoor activities will be a part of the new children and youth experiences the Church is currently developing for 2020.President M. Russell Ballard recently emphasized the need to find new ways to bless the children and youth of the Church.To read the new frequently asked questions and answers, visit childrenandyouth.lds.org.“We have been considering for many years how we can best meet the needs of a worldwide Church. Our children and youth in every part of the world are so precious to us. We have a deep desire to help them strengthen faith in the Savior Jesus Christ and feel of His love,” President Ballard said.In response to these questions, two new frequently asked questions and answers have been posted on childrenandyouth.lds.org.The frequently asked questions explain that “camps and other outdoor activities will be an important part of gospel learning, building relationships, and strengthening faith in Jesus Christ.”On May 8 of this year, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints announced plans for new resources for girls and boys, young women, and young men coming in 2020. Some have wondered if camps and activities would continue to be a part of the experience for children and youth.
The Church’s opposition to Proposition 2 should not be interpreted as an effort to simply table the medical marijuana issue. Instead, it is prompted by a “great urgency” to care for those in dire need of care.Church leaders are in hopes the Utah Legislature will legalize safe and responsible medical marijuana use in a special session by the end of the year.All three of the Church leaders spoke of their empathy and compassion for people, including many children, who suffer each day with chronic and debilitating pain. They have spent time with many of them. The parents and caregivers of those in need, they added, also deserve help.“We believe this proposition loses sight of our real purpose, which is to relive pain and suffering, and if passed, could become a slippery slope to unintended uses of marijuana,” he said.“Proposition 2 is not the answer,” said Elder Gerard. “We are in favor of appropriate use of medicinal marijuana, and it’s our view that by calling upon our legislature and local leaders, we can quickly find an appropriate resolution.”Additional information about the Church’s opposition to Proposition 2—and its combined efforts with others in the community to find a better solution—can be found at MormonNewsroom.org.Elder Gerard said states with laissez-faire marijuana policies, such as Colorado, have witnessed increases in teen recreational use, auto fatalities, and other adverse consequences.The Proposition 2 initiative “goes far beyond what we consider the appropriate use of medical cannabis,” said Elder Craig C. Christensen, a General Authority Seventy and President of the Church’s Utah Area.In appropriate circumstances, the Church supports the use of medicinal marijuana when it is distributed correctly to people enduring chronic pain and suffering.
But the medical marijuana initiative that Utahns will vote on in November is not the right solution, it says.The Church is not alone in its rejection of Proposition 2. It is part of a broad coalition of medical professionals, educators, law enforcement officials, and fellow religious leaders who are united in their opposition of the initiative.Elder Christensen, along with fellow General Authority Seventy Elder Jack N. Gerard and Sister Lisa L. Harkness, First Counselor in the Primary General Presidency, met with the Church News on September 19 to discuss the Church’s opposition to the ballot initiative.“We joined this coalition so we can come to a Utah solution that works,” said Sister Harkness.“We are one voice in the chorus,” said Elder Gerard.As a mother and a grandmother, Sister Harkness said she grieves for anyone who has to watch a child or loved one suffer. The Church is working to find responsible legislation that would allow patients to have legal access to appropriate dosages of cannabis under the direction of their doctors.Elder Christensen said the medical marijuana initiative that will soon be in front of Utah voters does not do enough to protect vulnerable members of the community, including children and teens.The leadership of the Church is eager for pain-ridden patients to find relief as quickly as possible. When responsible controls are in place, medical marijuana is an acceptable option for those who need it most.
But aside from all the ceremonial parts of the celebration, Dennis expressed how wonderful it was to be amongs a large group where everyone was speaking Welsh.For the last 40 years, Dennis has had an admitted “bee in his bonnet” regarding the Welsh language and culture.Of the prestige that comes from being made a Bard, he added, “It really is quite amazing. They have a few awards for Welsh people from outside Wales that have contributed to Welsh culture and society … but it’s really quite rare.”The plaque was commissioned and created by the Llanelli Community Heritage group, who wanted to honor the key piece of history. After organizing the plaque installation, they worked with local Church history specialist Jill Morgan and local Latter-day Saints to include the Church in the unveiling efforts.
In a ceremony sponsored by the Llanelli Community Heritage Group, Dr. Ronald Dennis unveils a blue plaque marking the former location of the historic Church building known as the Island Place Meeting House. Photo courtesy of Grant Vaughn.Built near the center of the small town, the building drew large crowds of people looking to learn more about the new faith coming from America. Although humble in appearance, the chapel could accommodate more than 1,000 visitors, according to a letter written by Dan Jones to Parley P. Pratt following the dedication of the building on January 28.Having begun his work approximately 40 years ago, Dennis has published nearly 6,000 pages of the periodical Zion’s Trumpet as well as pamphlets, journals, and other documents of the Church there. And if anyone—whether an academic or an individual researching their family history—wants to know something about the Church in Wales, Dennis and his website Welsh Mormon History are usually the first sources to which they turn.“I’ve set up an endowment so that young students can keep working on it and expanding it, doing sourcing and connecting it to Family Tree and that sort of thing,” Dennis said.Pointing to Doctrine and Covenants section 123, in which Joseph Smith encouraged Church members to gather and document the atrocities committed against them for their faith, Dennis said he takes that commission by extension to gather and document opposition that occurred anywhere. “So that’s what I am doing,” Dennis said.“One of my responsibilities as a Church history specialist is to document sites of interest to the Church,” Morgan said. And when approached for help to find a well-known Church member to participate in unveiling the plaque to the public, Morgan said Dennis immediately came to mind.A mission on the earthAnd although he hopes others will carry on his work, Dennis said he recognizes that the barrier of the Welsh language has given him an unintended monopoly on his area of research.Ever since he began researching his Welsh ancestry, he has felt driven to unearth more and more information about his ancestors as well as the general history of Church members in Wales. But it wasn’t long after beginning his personal challenge to research the Church in Wales that Dennis realized a giant road block in his research would be the Welsh language.The honor of becoming a Welsh BardThere is a phrase that is common to Church members regarding how each person has a mission they need to complete on this earth, Dennis explained.“He is generally recognized as the ‘go-to man,’” Morgan said. “What he’s done is invaluable and certainly inspired.”On August 25 of this year, Ronald Dennis, an emeritus professor at Brigham Young University and great-great-grandchild of Dan Jones, was invited to unveil one of the United Kingdom’s well-recognized blue plaques to commemorate the old chapel and the presence of early Church members in Wales.While this historic building, commonly known as the Island Place Meeting House, was demolished just over 10 years ago, its presence and the historic role it played for Church members from Wales has not been forgotten.In 1849, a small chapel located in Llanelli, Wales, was dedicated for use by Dan Jones, president of the Welsh Mission at the time. It was the second building constructed and dedicated by members of the newly formed Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints—the first was the Kirtland Temple—and the first built outside of the United States.“It’s a nice circle of sorts,” Morgan said. “Dan Jones was able to bring people to a knowledge of the gospel through writing in their language, and Ron has turned that back into English for those of us who don’t have that knowledge or skill.” Chair of the Carmathenshire County Council, Councilor Mansel Charles, Plaid Cymru of Llanegwad, speaks with Dr. Ronald Dennis, who was recently inducted into the Gorsedd of the Bards in Wales for his extensive translation work of many Welsh Church history documents. Photo courtesy of Grant Vaughn.The Gorsedd induction is held annually as part of a Welsh National Eisteddfod—a weeklong celebration of Welsh culture and language. And for the Gorsedd ceremony, there is pageantry that goes along with it, Dennis explained, detailing the horns blowing, flower girls dancing, people singing, and everyone arriving dressed in regalia particular to the Eisteddfod.As far as Dennis is aware, he is the first Church member to be inducted into the Gorsedd, and more particularly, he is the first to be inducted specifically for Church-related contributions.“Oh, to speak English is heresy,” Dennis said, explaining how the groups involved in the Eisteddfod are all working to preserve and elevate the status of the Welsh culture and language. “That’s what they want more than anything else; it’s almost like a religion.”Even though Dennis said he hopes others will carry on his work once he is no longer able to, there are still two major projects he wants to complete. First, he wants to finish the biography he is writing about Dan Jones. And second, he wants to gather up and translate all the “anti-Mormon” literature he has found from the 1840s and ’50s.“Well, I feel that’s been my mission here, and I’ve been happy to do it,” he said. And even though he spent years learning and teaching Portuguese, he added, “My true love is Welsh and the history of the Latter-day Saints.”“It’s important to them and it’s a big, popular event,” Vaughn said.In the 1840s and ’50s, much of the Welsh population still primarily used Welsh, so missionaries and Church leaders like his great-great-grandfather took on the task of producing Church materials for the people in their own language. As such, most Church records, as well as a Church periodical called Prophet of the Jubilee and later Zion’s Trumpet, were all produced completely in 19th-century Welsh.Since that time, he has returned to Wales nearly 25 times for extended visits to continue his work of researching the Church as well as leading tours that help others of Welsh descent to connect to their relatives, both living and deceased.Recognition for the pastJust two weeks prior to the plaque unveiling, the 78-year-old Dennis was inducted into the Gorsedd of the Bards in Wales. It’s an honor comparable to the United States’ Presidential Medal of Freedom civilian award, explained Grant Vaughn, a federal attorney and close friend of Dennis who assists him with his research.Taking care to ensure all his work is freely accessible to all, Dennis has worked with the Welsh National Library as well as the BYU Center for Family History and Genealogy to guarantee perpetuity of his work and to allow students and other researchers to add to it.He was honored in the category of “arts and letters” for his extensive work in translating and making available many documents regarding Church history in Wales.“The fact that he was being made a Bard was what swung it with the Llanelli Community Heritage,” Morgan said, noting that the honor alone gave him enough prestige to be considered for the unveiling.She added that while the group was likely hoping for someone a little more famous to the general public, since Dennis’s great-great-grandfather was the one who dedicated the original building, it was appropriate for him to be the one involved.And considering it was Dennis’s ancestor Dan Jones who played a key role in making Church doctrine and materials accessible for members in the Welsh language in the 19th century, it seems fitting that his descendant is the one translating his work into English to make it more widely accessible over 140 years later.Since retiring from being a professor 14 years ago, Dennis has spent the majority of his time continuing his Welsh research. In that time he has published nine volumes of Zion’s Trumpet, which he explained average about 400 pages each. And although it’s always been something he loves doing, he said it has gotten a lot easier with the improvements of computers and website databases.“I’m not particularly fond of [the pageantry], but I thought it might reflect well on the Church to have somebody that has investigated the history of [the Church] in Wales in the 19th century,” Dennis said.“But someone needs to do it, and I’m happy to do it for as long as I can,” he said. “My purpose in doing this is simply to make it known to historians and descendants of the early converts. But this is a body of knowledge that is important to our history and has not been previously known, and I just want to make it known that it is available.”Unwilling to let a language barrier stop him from learning more, Dennis took it upon himself to learn Welsh. In 1976, while he was still working as a professor of Portuguese at BYU, Dennis decided to take a sabbatical to Wales, where he spent six months immersing himself in the language as much as possible.The circle of ancestors and language
It’s also hot in Wilmington, with high temperatures and high humidity forecast for the coming days. So many of the local Relief Society sisters with air-conditioned homes are hosting ward members who have lost power.“Everybody is trying to help each other out,” she said.Gasoline in the greater Wilmington area is a precious commodity with people needing to refuel their generators. “We still have a lot of people without electricity.”North Carolina Wilmington Stake President David Glew said the minute-to-minute efforts of Pierce and other “outstanding Relief Society leaders” in his besieged stake are ministering to many in need.Pierce deflects any praise for her actions. She agrees the circumstances of her ministering were far from ideal. The storm displaced her for several days. She was sleeping and eating in a public shelter.Meanwhile, floodwaters are invading the streets and homes of many in the city of Lumberton in southern North Carolina. Relief Society sisters there have utilized all available resources to keep tabs on one another. Some have shared water and flashlights. Another sister picked up a prescription for a women who was staying in a shelter. Others have taken in entire families.Duty called Karen Pierce, even from her Red Cross-provided cot in the hallway of an elementary school where she found shelter from Hurricane Florence’s deadly winds and rains.“Everyone is working together,” she said. “We will help one another out and get through this.”Meanwhile, Meadows and her fellow ward Relief Society sisters are anxious to pull on their yellow Helping Hands shirts and vests and serve anyone in their community in need.“It’s going to be a long recovery for our members, but their faith and resilience are amazingly strong,” he said.The Hampstead Ward Relief Society president knew people were depending upon her. “So I pulled out my ward list of single sisters and started calling. … I wanted them to know that someone was thinking about them; that they were not alone.”“Most of them are right in the heart of [the disaster],” she said.Tart agreed that coordination before, during, and after the hurricane between priesthood and Relief Society leaders at both the stake and ward leaders in the greater Fayetteville area is resulting in optimal service for those in need. “This has taken ministering to a whole new level.”Hurricane Florence may be history, but inundated waterways remain grave concerns. On Tuesday, 16 rivers across North Carolina were reportedly at major flood stage. The Cape Fear River near downtown Wilmington was expected to crest Tuesday.Pam Meadows, the president of the Wilmington 1st Ward Relief Society, said the sisters and priesthood brethren in her ward are also working together to ensure fellow members have adequate food, water, and fuel.Local Relief Society leaders in North Carolina such as Pierce are playing key roles in making life a bit easier for fellow ward members and neighbors affected by Hurricane Florence. They will be relied upon even more in the coming days and weeks as Latter-day Saints recover from a catastrophe that has claimed more than 30 lives, forced legions into shelters, and left hundreds of thousands without power.“But I felt very blessed,” she told the Church News. She was safe. She was dry. She could serve.Hampstead Ward Relief Society President Karen Pierce was finally able to leave the shelter on Sunday. There are leaks in the roof of her home and she can only guess when electrical power will return to her community. But she continues to make welfare calls and, when the roads are traversable, she visits her Relief Society sisters. Members clad in yellow Helping Hands vests help repair roof of damaged home on Harkers Island, North Carolina, following Hurricane Florence. Local Relief Society and priesthood leaders have joined forces to minister to fellow members in need. Photo courtesy of Mariah Gillikin.Members of the Wilmington 2nd Ward have been staggered by a one-two punch from Florence and subsequent flooding. Relief Society president Rosemary Abrams said many families in her ward are experiencing significant flooding in their homes. But by combining forces, the priesthood and Relief Society members have been quick to respond.“But there are other sisters who have eight inches of water in their homes or they have cars that won’t start because of the flooding,” she said.“There’s a lot of service going on,” she said.North Carolina Fayetteville Stake Relief Society president Janet Tart said it is humbling to watch the devotion and capacity of the women serving across her flood-damaged stake. From impacted units she hears accounts of individual ministering. Many of the sisters are dealing with their own challenges even as they claim opportunities to serve others.Much of the most meaningful service, she added, is happening ”one-on-one“ across the Kinston stake as Relief Society sisters and others reach out to storm-weary families and provide them with, say, a warm meal or a warm shower.“We’re going to have an awful lot of work to do” in the coming days and weeks, said Pierce.Taylor has also been invigorated by cooperation stretching across religious congregations. Many Latter-day Saints in Greenville, for example, donated food, diapers, and others provisions to a local Christian church for distribution to those in need.Relief Society sisters are delivering food and water to families and making frequent welfare visits. Abrams counts herself among the lucky homeowners in waterlogged Wilmington. She has plenty of food and water and the damage to her property was limited to a few fallen trees.Units such as the New Bern Ward and the Harkers Island Ward in the Kinston North Carolina Stake were severely impacted by Hurricane Florence. Stake Relief Society president Kelly Taylor said effective coordination between the sisters and the local priesthood leaders has allowed for effective service.
“Anxiety can be exceedingly, exceedingly uncomfortable,” said licensed psychologist Debra Theobald McClendon.McClendon also addressed anxiety management techniques, citing a theory that says, “You feel the way you think.”“Anxiety gets progressively more intense as it goes along if you don’t intervene,” McClendon said. “When we let our anxiety get out of control, it starts to control us.”Anxiety becomes a problem, however, when it becomes so high that a person is unable to cope. This can look like a number of things such as severe shyness, panic attacks, or agoraphobia, which means “fear of the marketplace” and describes when a person becomes essentially homebound because they’re so afraid of being in crowded places.“There weren’t terms for that when I was growing up,” she said. “You just muddled through.”For example, scrupulosity may make a person unsure if the Spirit is telling them to confess something to their bishop, with the intense guilt making promptings difficult to discern.Anxiety can also cause scrupulosity, which McClendon described as “basically someone’s anxiety hijacks their religion.” This means simple things like scripture study or praying can cause tremendous guilt.In addition, the Spirit is encouraging and helps people act with intent, whereas anxiety is condemning and urgent; the Spirit gives clarity and hope and allows people time and space to ponder, while anxiety is confusing, impulsive, and creates despair and less stability.Exposure therapy can be difficult because the discomfort creates a strong desire to avoid the situation; however, “Just remember, anxiety does not last forever,” McClendon said, adding that repeated thoughts over time lose power.“You don’t ever let anyone know … just how sophisticated your coping mechanisms can get,” she said. “I could see that with myself just over and over again, just with people and the dance we do to make sure everyone else thinks we’re fine.”She also reminded listeners, “Normal is not symptom-free.” This means people should accept the nature and reality of where they’re presently at.“Don't think it’s just going to pass over, because I did that for so many years,” she said. “You don’t need to keep it to yourself. … It’s just another trial that you are put on this earth to deal with, and it will make you stronger eventually.”However, “When you feel anxious, it’s OK because it’s normative. The question is what you do with it that can be helpful or not,” she said.Linda and Eve Crawford, a mother and daughter from Colorado, attended the session together. Linda said the more she helps her son through anxiety, the more she realizes she has the same issues.“Confront the fear and you’ll defeat it,” she said.McClendon explained that anxiety is normal and protective; it helps people anticipate future danger, and in moderate doses, it improves performance. Lower anxiety produces lower proficiency. For example, an Olympic gold medal winner isn’t necessarily the best athlete, but they’re probably the person who manages their anxiety most effectively.“I think we fight a lot in life,” she said. “We don’t like what’s happening. We fight against it, we push against it. And I think the fighting … intensifies a lot of our own anxiety, a lot of our own stress.”Linda Crawford said her biggest takeaway was the breakdown of coping mechanisms, particularly avoidance.These thoughts can be overcome, however, through exposure to the fear, either with “in vivo” techniques, where a person faces a real-life situation, or imaginal techniques, where a person works mentally through a situation. Exposure eventually leads to habituation, the state where a person feels comfortable with what previously made them anxious.Eve Crawford said she’s known for a while she has anxiety, and she’s trying to get better at developing coping mechanisms before she leaves on a mission to Barcelona, Spain. She hopes people with anxiety don’t “bottle it up” but seek help and become comfortable with having anxiety. It’s also important that those with anxiety accept they may be judged for having it.Some of these distorted thoughts include assuming people are reacting negatively to them (“mindreading”), assuming the worst possible outcome (“fortune telling”), or “should” and “could” statements (“I should’ve done this better”).“If we make an action [based] on what the Spirit is telling us … then discomfort diminishes,” she said. “Whereas anxiety continues to grow … worry, panic, [and a] sense of crisis.”In addition, “anxiety is future-oriented,” she said. “When you find yourself feeling anxious … one of the biggest interventions is simply to remember that and pull yourself back into the present moment.”Stand in front of a clock and breath in and out, as hard and as quick as you can, for one minute. Your throat will go dry, you’ll feel ready to pass out, and you might gain some sympathy for people who experience these symptoms as part of anxiety.However, McClendon compared the Spirit and anxiety, pointing out that if someone truly needed to confess, they would have a sense of peace and comfort even though they’d naturally be uncomfortable going to the bishop.“Anxiety comes from distorted, illogical thoughts or self-talk,” she said. “You’re telling yourself things that aren’t true, but you’re buying it because these physical sensations … are so powerful.”McClendon explored the differences between healthy and debilitating anxiety during an August 22 BYU Education Week presentation titled “Anxious, Anyone? The Adaptive and Maladaptive Power of Anxiety: Anxiety vs. the Spirit, and Theoretical Approaches to Treatment.”If you know someone with anxiety and think they blow it out of proportion, try hyperventilating.“Acceptance does not mean that we don’t work to improve our situation,” she said. “But what it does means is we accept where we are … [and then] you’re free to say, ‘Well what can we do about it?’”“If I didn’t have any anxiety about performing in front of all of you, I wouldn’t prepare,” McClendon said. “Think about how your anxiety has helped you in the past—giving a talk in church, giving a presentation at work, [or] taking an exam. … If you can manage your anxiety, you will perform better.”She also cited the mantra “If you won’t have it, you will,” meaning when someone is determined not to become worked up over something, they tend to actually get worked up over it.
“There are other things that we can do to enhance our ability to receive revelation, including expanding our understanding of the truth that revelation comes in the manner and timing that God determines,” he said. “We need to recognize that His goal is not just to give us instruction but to help us become like Him.”He shared three points of how a person can increase his or her ability to receive and recognize revelation.The “line-upon-line” revelation, although less obvious, is equally powerful, he said. And yet, even though people may be doing better than what they initially think, there is still room for improvement, Worthen said.At times, the perfecting process requires hard work, study, and sometimes even action when a person is not 100 percent sure that it is right. “We will often need to stretch our souls beyond what we think is possible before revelation comes. … Answers may be slow in coming not because we are doing something wrong, but because Heavenly Father is leaving it up to our agency, or because He has already given us the answer and wants us to learn how that prior answer came, or because we need to learn something more before the answer makes sense to us. … Please know that even in those times when the heavens seem silent, there are explanations that will become clear over time if we will but trust God. … In the end, the one thing we can do to increase our ability to receive revelation is to trust God more, to increase our faith in Him.”While Worthen took a logical, street-by-street and door-by-door approach, his companion would feel impressed to skip houses or entire streets.To those who may be experiencing similar feelings, President Worthen said, “None of us is spiritually tone-deaf.”To those who wonder if it is a prompting from the Spirit or their own thoughts, President Worthen said if a person is impressed to do something good for someone else, there is little need to deliberate about its source.“I started wondering whether I was missing something,” he told students during a campus devotional at Brigham Young University on Tuesday, September 11. “I began to imagine that I would get up to the judgment bar, and God would say to me, ‘I tried to tell you what you needed to do in life on such-and-such a date and again on another such a date, and you just missed it.’”“Admonitions about the need to receive revelation intimidated and, quite frankly, worried me more than a little bit,” he said.Recognizing there are different types of revelation—some more dramatic, clear, and distinct impressions versus the more common, subtle revelation that comes “line upon line”—Worthen encouraged listeners to not “unnecessarily question” their ability to receive revelation because they experience the latter.“Set aside time and space when you can focus on being open to those thoughts and feelings,” he said. “Turn off the music; pause Netflix; take out your earbuds. Find time to listen to your feelings,” he said.“We can improve our ability to receive revelation if we better prepare both our spirits and bodies for such experiences,” he said. “Spiritual preparation includes daily scripture study, daily prayer, keeping the commandments, sacrament meeting attendance, Sabbath-day observance, and regular temple worship.”PROVO, UTAH“In addition to adhering to the principles of physical health outlined in the 89th section of the Doctrine and Covenants, we can increase our capacity to receive and recognize revelation by following the admonition the Lord provided in the immediately preceding section,” he said. In addition to following the Word of Wisdom, President Worthen referred to when the scriptures say to “retire to thy bed early, that ye may not be weary; arise early, that your bodies and your minds may be invigorated,” and encouraged students to follow that counsel.1. Revelation includes both heart and mind.2. Physical preparation to receive revelation. BYU students and faculty gather in the Marriott Center to hear President Kevin J Worthen’s counsel on seeking divine inspiration. Photo courtesy of Jaren Wilkey, BYU.Sharing that he keeps a notepad by his bedside to write down thoughts and ideas that come to him early in the morning, President Worthen encouraged students to make scripture study and prayer their “first order of morning business.”That feeling was only compounded during his mission, when he was paired with a companion who “genuinely had a gift for knowing where to go to find people who were ready to accept the gospel.”“And more often than not, he was right,” Worthen said. “But I rarely, if ever, felt such promptings. Thus, for much of my youth and young adulthood, I wondered if I had been born spiritually tone-deaf.”BYU President Kevin J Worthen remembers when he was the age of many college students, listening to some of his acquaintances sharing stories about how the Spirit had given them specific directions in dramatic ways. But he couldn't readily recall any such personal experience of his own.Recognizing those are all familiar tasks that Church members are regularly counseled to do, Worthen said he hopes “that repetition does not cause us to undervalue the significance of these actions. … Spiritual preparation facilitates revelation.”3. Time and space to listen.“Candor requires that I admit that when I was in college I did not consider myself a ‘morning person,’” he said. “I never took a class earlier than 9 a.m. … But over time I have come to find that early morning time is sacred, a time when few people interrupt and my mind is more open and invigorated—or alive—to new ideas and spiritual impressions.”Because every person is a literal spirit child of perfect Heavenly Parents, he or she has the innate potential to receive and recognize revelation, Worthen taught. “But there is more good news for those who question their ability to receive and recognize revelation despite their sincere—but often seemingly ineffective—efforts to do so,” he said. “It is that you are likely doing better than you think. The scriptures make it clear that it is possible to be influenced by the Holy Ghost and not fully recognize it.”
When asked how they feel about becoming ministering sisters, some of the young women we spoke with said they are a little nervous. However, they also are quick to report that their excitement to have more responsibility as young women overshadows their apprehension. Although the Mia Maids and Laurels have been given this new opportunity to serve in a formal assignment, the Beehives are also anxious to increase their level of ministering. All of our young women are extraordinary!Elder David A. Bednar of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles reminds us that “each of us as a disciple of the Master has a responsibility to minister to others and recognize that what we do truly matters, even if what we do may seem small or inconsequential” (One by One , 4).The young women are quick to see how unity in their ward families will increase as they serve in the capacity of ministering sisters.“I feel like this will help to get to know more people in our ward,” one young woman shared. “We already know the young women, and now it will help us get to know the adults.”We see an acceleration of spiritual growth as the young women look outside themselves, see the needs of others around them, and then act to help meet those needs. In doing this, they will more fully live the covenants they made at baptism to bear one another’s burdens, comfort those who stand in need of comfort, stand as a witness of God, serve the Lord, and keep His commandments (see Mosiah 18:8–10). Sister Bonnie H. Cordon, Young Women General President, right, poses for a selfie with her ministering companion, Jessica Akins. Photo courtesy of the Young Women General Presidency. Young women are invited to participate in ministering assignments with Relief Society sisters, and many—such as young woman Clara Thompson and her ministering companion, Sister Michelle D. Craig, First Counselor in the Young Women General Presidency—have responded to the call. Photo courtesy of the Young Women General Presidency.As young women learn to serve and minister, they will feel the love of the Savior more deeply in their lives. They will realize that as they reach out to help the “one,” they are serving the Savior Himself and becoming His disciples.Carol McIlrath from Centerville, Utah, sees a wonderful benefit from having a young sister minister to her. “What a pleasure it is to have a young woman come and do ministering to me. She brings with her a young and refreshing view about the gospel and challenges me to try to be better. How excited I am to get to know the youth in the ward better.”The young women of the Church are extremely capable and have countless talents they are ready to share with others. They will be a valuable force for good as they take part in the work of salvation for those they serve. Ella Nielsen, from South Jordan, Utah, shared how she thought young women could minister when she said, “You can check in on people and say, ‘How are you doing?’ and make sure they are doing OK and see if they are happy and how their life is going.” It can be that simple.With this new opportunity, we see the spiritual blessings afforded not only to those sisters the young women serve, but also to the young women themselves. A young woman named Katie Varga shared her enthusiasm to minister by saying, “I get to exercise my faith more regularly. I can bear my testimony in people’s homes when I think I should, and it will help me know that the Church is true.”Simple acts of service performed by our young ministering sisters will bless the lives of many as they learn to become more devoted disciples of Jesus Christ.Our hope is that every Mia Maid and Laurel will be considered for an assignment as a ministering sister. These assignments may be determined as the Relief Society president, Young Women president, priesthood leaders, and parents counsel together. Some young women who may not be able serve in traditional ways may be given an assignment suited to their abilities. All young women have gifts that could benefit another sister in some way—and the blessings to the young women who serve cannot be measured.In a time when personal relationships have been largely replaced by virtual friendships, many youth of the world often lack basic social and communication skills. This additional opportunity for young women to serve will aid them in developing the confidence to talk with and connect with others in a personal way. They will become more like the Savior as they learn greater compassion, understanding, and patience. They will be less judgmental of others, become more able to discern needs, and be better able to act upon promptings from the Spirit.Grace Rogers, a Mia Maid from Centerville, Utah, learned that ministering was a little different than she thought it would be. “I first thought that it was teaching and giving a lesson. That’s until I was given the opportunity to minister to Sister [Carol] McIlrath. Ministering for me now is building friendships and all aspects of being there for each other.”Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles taught: “True disciples of Jesus Christ have always been concerned for the one. Jesus Christ is our greatest example. He was surrounded by multitudes and spoke to thousands, yet He always had concern for the one” (“Concern for the One,” Apr. 2008 general conference).As the young women serve in this new capacity, they will build friendships with older, more mature Relief Society sisters. This relationship will help them learn and understand the purpose of the Relief Society organization to which they will soon belong. As they minister together, Relief Society sisters can have a significant impact for good on the lives of their young companions as they teach and mentor them in their joint assignments.
Once in Germany, she settled into the traditional missionary duties of finding people to teach, building relationships with the members, and inviting others to embrace the gospel. But when appropriate, she shared her testimony of prayer and scripture study through her song, often performing at missionary street displays and in the homes of investigators.Several months ago, Sister Roach was serving in the northern German city of Lübeck and was invited to sing at a musical event at the local meetinghouse. She performed “Plans for Me” because it worked with the evening’s Christ-anchored theme.Five minutes later, she had completed a song she would call “Plans for Me.” Her opening stanza doubles as a supplicant’s prayer:Afterward, a woman from the ward who is a videographer approached her. She said she was inspired by the song and asked if she could make a video of the missionary’s song to share with others.“It is a raw recording of the song—no editing and very simple. But it goes with how I received my answer, which was in a simple yet powerful way.”And, yes, a follow-up video will soon be finished on a song Sister Roach wrote called “Forgiveness.”“Plans for Me” has reached a far larger audience than Sister Roach could have imagined. But the song remains, at its core, her witness of personal revelation.Sister Erin Roach had no clue the song she was penning during a challenging moment at the missionary training center would eventually be heard by tens of thousands of online viewers.Most missionaries will never write and record a song, but the genesis of “Plans for Me” will ring familiar to young sisters and elders serving anywhere in the world.Soon the YouTube video of the studio recording was being viewed across the globe. Others watched on Facebook. To date, the video has received nearly 25,000 views. Counted among her listeners are fellow missionaries from different parts of the world and other Latter-day Saints.“Be my guide so my heart can open wide;
Be my light when my eyes see only night.
Shelter me when I’m sinking out at sea;
Care for me when I’m ripping at the seams.”“It has been really cool for me as well hearing such positive responses from people who aren’t of my faith but are touched by the song.”After speaking with her mission president, President Axel H. Leimer, Sister Roach made arrangements with a local studio and recorded “Plans for Me.”“At that moment, inspired words filled my head, and it was important for me to write down these words because they ultimately became my prayer and answer from Heavenly Father,” she said.“Praying before beginning to read the scriptures has helped me stay in tune with the Spirit and feel prompted to read specific passages to find the answers I desired to know.”She began reading the fifth chapter of Helaman. Specific words seemed to be jumping off the page: Repentance. Salvation. Rock. Foundation. Christ.Sister Roach was soon performing the song for her fellow sister missionaries and at an MTC departure devotional before leaving for Germany.“I was struggling to learn the language and meet the demands and expectations of what I thought a ‘successful’ mission was supposed [to be],” she wrote in an email from her service area in the Germany Berlin Mission. “I felt very incapable in my abilities to thrive, and I began to question why God wanted someone like me, with all my flaws, to accomplish His work.”“It was a really special experience for me to connect with and strengthen the missionaries around me as I played this song,” she wrote.Sister Roach, who grew up in California, remembers praying “fervently” for assurance and strength. At the end of one particularly difficult day of German-language study, she felt impressed to open her scriptures.She was simply drawing upon a moment of personal revelation—transferring inspiration from her mind to her music.“We have already recorded the song in the studio and we are in the process of filming the video,” she wrote. “It will go with a Church campaign in Germany, and I am really looking forward for people to see it.”