Independence Visitors’ Center in Missouri
Kevin D. and Janice HydeThey were also called as mission president and companion.
Stephen L. and Collette JohnsonSister Hyde is a ward temple and family history consultant and a former temple baptistry coordinator, stake Primary presidency counselor, ward Relief Society presidency counselor, ward Young Women president, and ward music director. Born in Phoenix, Arizona, to Richard Truman Felix and Ellen Litchfield Turner.Carl Bradford Allen, 65, and Dantzelle Lewis Allen, eight children, Northbridge Ward, Washington Utah Buena Vista Stake: Mormon Battalion Historic Site in San Diego, succeeding Elder Michael F. and Sister Lee Ann Hemingway. Brother Allen is an elders quorum instructor and a former mission and stake presidency counselor, bishop, high councilor, stake Young Men president, temple ordinance worker, and missionary in the Missouri Independence Mission. Born in Panguitch, Utah, to Clem Crosby Allen and Anna Colleen Beebe Allen.Stephen Lee Johnson, 67, and Collette Wiest Johnson, four children, Stonebridge Ward, St George Utah Sunset Stake: Mormon Trail Center at Historic Winter Quarters in Nebraska, succeeding Elder Randy C. and Sister Charlotte G. Russell. Brother Johnson is a ward mission leader and a former stake presidency counselor, bishop, high councilor, stake and ward Young Men president, seminary teacher, and missionary in the Ohio-West Virginia Mission. Born in Salt Lake City, Utah, to Leland Dewey Johnson and Marion Lucille Rushton Johnson.Sister Falk also serves as Primary teacher and is a former ward Young Women president and camp director, ward missionary, and seminary teacher. Born in Logan, Utah, to Robert Eugene Rallison and Loraine Glenn Rallison.Barry Graham Garlick, 68, and Eva Lynn Black Garlick, five children, Highland 21st Ward, Highland Utah South Stake: Matthew Cowley Pacific Church History Center in New Zealand. Brother Garlick is a former MTC branch president, bishop, high councilor, institute teacher, and missionary in the Australia South Mission. Born in Auckland, New Zealand, to Geoffrey Richard Garlick and April Clair Thompson Garlick.St. George Historic Sites in UtahSister Johnson serves as a ward Relief Society presidency counselor and is a former stake Relief Society president, stake Young Women presidency counselor, ward Young Women and Primary president, and ward missionary. Born at Clark Airforce Base, Philippines, to Don Sanford Wiest and Margene Terry Wiest.Sister Garlick is a former branch missionary, ward Relief Society president, institute teacher and seminary teacher, family history consultant, and gospel doctrine teacher. Born in St. George, Utah, to Allen Clarence Black and Genevieve Hardy Black.The following eight couples have been called by the First Presidency to lead the work in various Church history sites. They will begin their service early next year.Charles Jeffery Morby, 72, and Connie McArthur Morby, six children, Bloomington 4th Ward, Bloomington Utah Stake: St. George Historic Sites in Utah. Brother Morby serves as a temple sealer and high councilor and is a former mission president in the Oregon Portland Mission, stake president, stake and ward Young Men president, bishop, and missionary in the Central States Mission. Born in Ogden, Utah, to Charles Alwyn Morby and Marian Smith Morby.Sister Allen serves as a Primary teacher and is a former mission financial secretary, stake and ward Young Women president, ward Primary presidency counselor, seminary teacher, temple ordinance worker, and missionary in the Missouri Independence Mission. Born in Ajo, Arizona, to Malin Wilson Lewis and Myreel Smith Lewis.Sister Cannon is a former senior missionary in the Africa West Area, assistant to the temple matron, stake and ward Relief Society president, ward Young Women and Primary presidency counselor, and seminary teacher. Born in Glendale, California, to Dahl Hatch and Bethe Choate Hatch.Wyoming Mormon Trail MissionHistoric Kirtland Visitors’ Center in OhioKevin Daniel Hyde, 63, and Janice Eileen Felix Hyde, seven children, Meadows Ward, Thayne Wyoming Stake: Wyoming Mormon Trail Mission, succeeding President Lonny V. and Sister Carolyn L. Pace. Brother Hyde is a ward missionary and Sunday School teacher and is a former temple baptistry coordinator, stake presidency counselor, bishop, high councilor, ward Young Men president, elders quorum president, and missionary in the Arizona Tempe Mission. Born in Nyssa, Oregon, to Gale Woolf Hyde and Charlene Joy Holden Hyde.
Eva L. and Barry G. Garlick
Russell R. and Michelle CannonJohn Robert Falk, 68, and Lu Ann Rallison Falk, nine children, Stafford Ward, Lake Oswego Oregon Stake: Cove Fort Historic Site in Utah, succeeding Elder Richard W. and Sister Louise H. Crosby. Brother Falk serves as a Primary teacher and is a former stake president, bishop, ward mission leader, high councilor, and missionary in the North Germany Mission. Born in Tremonton, Utah, to Dewayne Holt Falk and Mary Barbara Falk.
Connie M. and Jeffrey MorbyDaniel J Isaac, 61, and Jan T Myrberg Isaac, five children, Batesville Ward, Erda Utah Stake: Historic Kirtland Visitors’ Center in Ohio, succeeding Elder Gilbert M. and Sister Leslie G. Jennings. Brother Isaac is a former stake president, high councilor, bishopric counselor, ward mission leader, temple ordinance worker, and missionary in the New York New York Mission. Born in Spanish Fork, Utah, to Bert Douglas Isaac and Afton La Reta Brockbank Isaac.
Lu Ann and John R. Falk
Jan and Daniel IsaacSister Morby serves as a stake Primary president, served with her husband in the Oregon Portland Mission, and is a former ward Relief Society, Young Women and Primary president, stake Young Women presidency counselor, and Sunday School teacher. Born in St. George, Utah, to LaRaine McArthur and Beaulah Killpack Belliston.
Dantzelle and C. Bradford AllenCove Fort Historic Site in UtahSister Isaac is a former ward Young Women and Relief Society president, stake temple and family history consultant, ward Primary presidency counselor, and temple ordinance worker. Born in Salt Lake City, Utah, to John Edward Myrberg and Chloe Jane Thomas Myrberg.Mormon Trail Center at Historic Winter Quarters in NebraskaRussell Rich Cannon, 64, and Michelle Hatch Cannon, six children, Amber Hills Ward, Las Vegas Nevada Desert Foothills Stake: Independence Visitors’ Center in Missouri, succeeding Elder George E. and Sister Kathryn M. Peterson. Brother Cannon serves as a temple sealer and is a former senior missionary in the Africa West Area, temple presidency counselor, bishop, ward Young Men president, seminary teacher, and missionary in the Australia Melbourne Mission. Born in Salt Lake City, Utah, to Edwin Quayle Cannon and Janath Russell Cannon.Matthew Cowley Pacific Church History Center in New ZealandMormon Battalion Historic Site in San Diego
Elder Neil L. Andersen of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles created the 100th stake in the Philippines—the Mandaluyong Philippines Stake, on September 10, 2017. He said the growth of the Church in the Philippines is reflective of the character of the people. “They are very spiritual by nature,” he said. (See related story.)There are more than 780,000 Latter-day Saints spread throughout 1,218 congregations in this country of more than 107 million people.The Manila Philippines Temple—the country’s first temple—was dedicated in 1984. Other cities with currently operating or announced temples are Cebu City, Manila (one constructed, one announced), Cagayan de Oro, and Davao, which was announced in the October 2018 general conference. Artist rendering of the Urdaneta Philippines Temple.“This is just the beginning,” Elder Ronald A. Rasband said during a Facebook Live event in March. The Philippines “is going to be a source of huge strength for the future of this Church,” he said. (See related story.)Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles will preside at the event, which will include other Church leaders and invited guests of the community. The groundbreaking marks the beginning of construction.Dates for the temple open house and dedication will be announced on events.lds.org when the construction of the temple is completed.The Urdaneta Philippines Temple was announced by President Thomas S. Monson during the October 2010 general conference. When Elder D. Todd Christofferson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles visited in June, he said the growth of the Church in the Philippines is reflective of the character of the people. “They are very spiritual by nature,” he said.The First Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has announced the date for the groundbreaking of the Urdaneta Philippines Temple will be Wednesday, January 16, 2019.
Conference talks“I didn’t sleep much as Relief Society President. I actually trained myself not to sleep because I didn’t have time to sleep. I would sleep for two hours and get up and work. If I had time, I’d sleep for two more hours, then get up and work. Bodies don’t readjust,” Sister Beck said, “but I do sleep more.”For a decade now, Sister Beck has felt strongly about the importance of keeping covenants. She recently published a book titled Joy in the Covenant, and she felt President Nelson summarized the message perfectly with the catchphrase “Keep on the covenant path.”Sister Beck and her husband, Ramon Beck, served for about five years at the missionary training center in Provo before she spent the next 15 serving in the Young Women and Relief Society General Presidencies.“All 15 of them are my friends. I consider them to be friends, and yet I don’t presume on their time now because I realize they have these monumental responsibilities. But those associations are always in my heart, and will be,” she said.Something special happened when the project was ready for Church leadership approval. The small team had stapled every page of Daughters in My Kingdom to the wall so they could visualize the entire book. Before printing copies for Church leaders to review over the Christmas break, they needed approval from their advisers in the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, Elder Robert D. Hales and Elder Neil L. Andersen.“I absolutely accepted the invitation,” she said.“That project was heaven-directed and prophetically administered. It was not a project I contemplated or proposed. I pondered it for a long time. I knew we needed something that would help sisters,” Sister Beck said. “Then out of the blue one day came an assignment from the First Presidency to do that. They were feeling it too.”“It’s terrifying,” Sister Beck said. “The first time I went up to give a talk … my husband said, ‘Don’t trip.’ I thought, thank you very much. That was his only advice, and I thought I would be the first person to die up there.”“It’s not a comfortable place, but it’s a holy place,” Sister Beck said of the Conference Center pulpit. “I didn’t know that the first time. I realized it after that first experience. I recognized that I had not approached it with enough faith. And I was thinking too much of myself and not enough about the Lord and being His agent and what He wanted me to do. I recognized looking back how He had helped me through that process. So I made a determination to trust Him more in subsequent opportunities.”
Julie B. Beck speaks at the national Families Supporting Adoption Conference in the Davis Conference Center in Layton, Utah, Friday, August 12, 2011.Fortunately, Elder Hales and Elder Andersen were able to come. As Sister Beck greeted them, Elder Hales was in a wheelchair and not looking well. But as he entered their room, the Apostle appeared energized. Elder Hales stood, walked around the room, and examined each page.Speaking became easier when Sister Beck could visualize a person she wanted to speak to directly, such as a friend, grandchild, or someone she met in her travels. It helped reduce the crowd of millions down to a personal, intimate level, she said.Yet there was one mammoth-sized assignment that Sister Beck will always appreciate—the production of Daughters in My Kingdom, a resource published in 2011 to strengthen women and their families. Sister Beck devoted a chapter in her book to telling about the experience. Right, Julie B. Beck, who served as Relief Society General President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints from 2007 to 2012, is interviewed in Salt Lake City, Tuesday, August 30, 2011. Photo by Ravell Call, Deseret News.In her writing, Sister Beck uses personal experiences to show different ways her parents taught her about keeping covenants.Sister Tanner told her friend she was moaning as if in pain, and she worried she might pass out. Sister Beck wasn’t aware she was doing that, she said.She did not miss the commute or constant pressure of deadlines and assignments, which felt “relentless,” she said. Sister Julie B. Beck is interviewed in Salt Lake City, Tuesday, August 30, 2011. Photo by Ravell Call, Deseret News.It’s a message she now wants to pass on to her own children and grandchildren.“Those kind[s] of things have been touching my heart,” Sister Beck said. “I’m grateful for a prophet. We’re trying to find ways to apply his counsel with all of our family and not excuse anyone. My mother does not know that she is fulfilling the challenges of the prophet, but I sense that her spirit is feeling the blessings that were promised.”“A leader who does not understand the ministry of the Savior is just doing work,” she said. “As I traveled around the world, I tried always to visit people in their homes; learn about sisters and their situations, their struggles, their trials, their traumas; and have a good grasp about what life was like for people. When you know what life is really like, then you can scale what you’re asking people to do to what their mortal experience is and help them to cope with what they have and stretch just a bit more keeping their covenants.”Sister Beck recalled one time when she thanked Sister Susan W. Tanner, the Young Women General President from 2002 to 2008, for reaching over to squeeze her hand and express support before Sister Beck’s turn to speak.Daughters in My KingdomAs a Church leader, Sister Beck tried never to forget that the work of the Church is about individuals and families.Elder Hales was ill at the time, but Sister Beck learned he was planning to attend a Christmas social and requested he and Elder Andersen come see their project. Elder Hales’s secretary said “it was a maybe,” Sister Beck said.“We focus a lot on securing our eternal family, as much as we can, and supporting our children in their heavy responsibilities now.”“In her decline, I’ve learned a lot of lessons about patience, compassion, and helping someone who is a burnished soul live out the plan honorably and with dignity as much as possible,” Sister Beck said. “The concern for her is never away from me.”“The minute he went into the room, you could tell he was struck by the Spirit. It was powerful,” Sister Beck said. “He went all the way around the room and then sat back down. He said, ‘The Spirit is in this, print it.’ … The Lord quickened Elder Hales long enough to give the approval.”While she served at Church headquarters, their children grew up, married, had families, and built careers. Sister Julie B. Beck speaks at a BYU devotional in 2012. Photo by Mark A. Philbrick.“As we went to work, it was just nothing but a miracle every day. Stiff opposition every step, but a miracle every day,” Sister Beck said. “That was when I came to know the Lord better than I’ve ever known Him in my whole life because He wanted to speak to me. I had to work so hard to be a worthy vessel and not miss the messages. When I didn’t miss them, He parted the seas. It was a revealed work and very much aided by heaven.”The last six yearsA thought on ministeringWhen asked if she missed serving at Church headquarters, Sister Beck said she missed the “close association with prophets, seers, and revelators.”With some creative thinking and family collaboration, a plan was formed to help their elderly mother follow the prophet.But the experience became much more meaningful when Sister Beck recognized the need to help a loved one fulfill the same task—her 94-year-old mother, who suffers from dementia and other causes incident to age. As mother and daughter sat together in a sacrament meeting at an assisted-living facility, a high councilor pointed out that President Nelson didn’t place an age limit on his invitation.Sister Beck, who served as Relief Society General President from 2007 to 2012, was nearly finished with the Book of Mormon at that point but opted to start over and eagerly embraced the other parts of the prophet’s challenge.When she was released in 2012, the biggest changes involved getting more sleep and becoming reacquainted with her family.The tender experience was one of many Sister Beck recently shared in an interview with the Church News. Among various topics discussed, Sister Beck described life since her release at Church headquarters, taking care of her family, memories and lessons from her time as a Church leader, and the power that comes with keeping covenants. Then-Relief Society General President Julie B. Beck, center, and her counselors, Silvia H. Allred, left, and Barbara Thompson, at the general Relief Society meeting Saturday, September 24, 2011, in Salt Lake City, Utah. Photo by Tom Smart, Deseret News.During her time at Church headquarters, Sister Beck delivered 15 talks. She estimates spending between 100 and 150 hours preparing each talk, which gave her great appreciation for the work required to receive revelation. Brother Ramon Beck hugs his wife, Sister Julie B. Beck, after her devotional address at BYU in 2012. Photo by Mark A. Philbrick.There was no hesitation on the part of Sister Julie B. Beck when President Russell M. Nelson issued his invitation to women of Church during October’s women’s session.Sister Beck described the process of producing Daughters in My Kingdom as “amazing.” She thought writing her own book would be similar, but it was not even close.Sister Beck has also assumed the role of lead caregiver for her 94-year-old mother, with the assistance of siblings and some professional help.“It’s what I hope my grandchildren take away, that they’re part of a magnificent covenant heritage. They have a great obligation. This book was written with them in mind,” Sister Beck said. “They don’t remember the years I was away. We spend time now trying to cement relationships with them and teach every chance we get.”
Sister Julie B. Beck recently published a book titled Joy in the Covenant.Sister Julie B. Beck holds of a copy of Daughters in My Kingdom and speaks at a BYU devotional in 2012. Photo by Mark A. Philbrick.“If you want to raise a child in the gospel, the only way to do it is keeping covenants. There is no other path,” Sister Beck said. “You can read books about it. You can get advice from people. You can follow examples, but it’s all about keeping covenants. … You can’t orchestrate agency, but you can stay on the covenant path. That provides the power in your parenting.”What’s it like to stand at the Conference Center pulpit and deliver a talk?Although Sister Beck considered her mother to be a “finished soul,” the speaker’s words left her “shaken by the Spirit” and she “went home humbled,” she said.
Sister Julie B. Beck recently published a book titled Joy in the Covenant.“No other path”“I was unconscious of how much pain I was in,” Sister Beck said. “I think it got easier in that regard. I grew to trust the Lord, that He would help me. I knew He’d helped me in the process of preparation, and He would help me in the process of delivery.”“I got on my knees and repented and said, Heavenly Father, my mother can’t do this on her own, so I will help,” Sister Beck said.“It’s about work ethic, and somehow in the middle of that work, the Lord begins to reveal His will. But if I just laid on my bed, hummed hymns, and waited, I wouldn’t get the talk,” she said. “There are a lot of drafts I never used.”
Elder Jensen listed other principles revealed through Joseph Smith, like tithing, chastity, sacrifice, and consecration. “In these cases, and in many others, my experience in living the revealed truths has convinced me they come from God through Joseph Smith, a true prophet.”Joseph Smith’s teachings regarding the Godhead, the plan of salvation, agency, temporal welfare, salvation of the dead, revelation, and the Atonement of Jesus Christ are further examples of the fruits of a true prophet. “Because of them,” Elder Jensen said, “I know that Joseph Smith was a prophet of God.”In the intervening years, Elder Jensen has been blessed to pray in the Sacred Grove and visit other sacred Church history sites. “At every occasion and place, my spiritual witness of Joseph Smith’s divine calling has been confirmed and strengthened. I know by the power of the Holy Ghost that he was a prophet of God.”One can know the truth of a doctrine or commandment by living it, Elder Jensen said.“In the intervening years, by observing the law faithfully and, by gaining a greater understanding of its purposes, I have developed a firm conviction that it is a law of God,” Elder Jensen said.In this digitized, sensualized, and skeptical modern world, developing personal religious convictions is more important than ever, Elder Jensen said. He shared three parts of his personal epistemology, each focused on the role played by Joseph Smith.“I am grateful the law of the fast is part of the gospel of Jesus Christ restored through Joseph Smith.”The Savior taught in John 7 that “if any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of myself” (John 7:17).Elder Jensen observed some of the fruits of Joseph Smith’s prophetic calling when his youngest child received her patriarchal blessing, including “the concept of our daughter’s place in the house of Israel, the priesthood authority to bless her, the principle that God reveals His mind and will concerning His children, even the knowledge that, in Joseph’s words, ‘an evangelist is a patriarch,’ and ‘whenever the church of Christ is established in the earth, there should be a patriarch for the benefit of the posterity of the saints,’” he said.Epistemology: a great word that can be used to impress others. It’s also the study of the methods of human knowing, or “how we come to know,” Elder Marlin K. Jensen said in a Joseph Smith lecture series and BYU–Hawaii devotional address on November 13.One can know a true prophet by his fruits, or the results or product of his life and teachings, Elder Jensen said. “This is a way of knowing based on observation and evaluation. This Church is a thinking person’s Church.”As an example, he shared how he had never observed an honest 24-hour fast prior to his mission in Germany in 1961. Shortly after his arrival, his companion informed him that they would be fasting from food and drink for 48 hours. At that point, Elder Jensen vowed to learn more about the law of the fast.Before his mission, Elder Jensen never received a discernible spiritual confirmation that Joseph Smith was a true prophet, despite study and prayer. But when he and his companion had an opportunity to speak to a Lutheran congregation, he bore his testimony of Joseph Smith’s calling. “In that moment an overwhelming assurance came into my heart that what I was saying was true,” he said. “This feeling of assurance—given to me by the power of the Holy Ghost—has never left me.”Knowing through observation and evaluation Elder Marlin K. Jensen at a devotional of the Mormon History Association Conference in 2012. Photo by R. Scott Lloyd, Church News archive.Knowing through experienceKnowing through the Holy SpiritIn Matthew 7, the Savior gave His followers a way to determine the difference between false and true prophets, saying, “Ye shall know them by their fruits” (Matthew 7:16).In agreement with Paul, who said that “[no] man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him[.] Even so the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God” (1 Corinthians 2:11), Elder Jensen said the one conclusive way of knowing that Joseph Smith was a true prophet is through personal revelation.As Elder Jensen, an emeritus General Authority Seventy and former Executive Director of the Church History Department and Church Historian and Recorder, has reflected on the origins of his personal beliefs about the restored gospel, he has realized that “gradually over my lifetime I had developed a simple epistemology, or way of knowing, that informs and supports the deeply held convictions that I have about my religion. There are things I know are true.”
“This is really special to us,” said Gorzitze’s wife, Ilene, “to hear the choir and speakers and appreciate those who have gone before.”
German soldiers’ names are displayed on a monument during the German Day of Remembrance (Volkstrauertag) at Fort Douglas Military Cemetery in Salt Lake City on Sunday, November 18, 2018. Photo by Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News.“Volkstrauertag, or National Day of Mourning, has been officially observed since 1948,” said James T. Burton, Honorary Consul, Federal Republic of Germany. “While it was originally organized to recognize those that had died at war, its purpose was ultimately expanded in 1952 to recognize all those who suffered or died as a result of the violence of oppressive governments, whether civilian or military, and from every nation of the world.” Governor Gary Herbert, Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, Adjutant General of the Utah National Guard Jefferson Burton, and James Burton salute after placing a wreath at Fort Douglas Military Cemetery in Salt Lake City on Sunday, November 18, 2018. Photo by Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News.With the podium set up in front of a mass grave honoring 41 German soldiers who died as prisoners of war while at Fort Douglas during World War I, Elder Uchtdorf spoke of the soldiers who paid the price of historic consequences.Not only is Volkstrauertag a day to remember the past; it is a day for individuals to commit to heartfelt effort to craft peace. Being a positive change in the world comes through Christlike compassion and empathy for all. Governor Gary Herbert and Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf walk through graves during the German Day of Remembrance (Volkstrauertag) at Fort Douglas Military Cemetery in Salt Lake City on Sunday, November 18, 2018. Photo by Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News.“But recent history has also proven that the work toward reconciliation and peace can bring long-lasting peace and friendship between past enemies,” he said.“We honor the memory always of the service of those whose remains are in the cemetery,” said Utah Governor Gary R. Herbert. “While we remember our shared past, we also celebrate our shared ties today and our shared optimism that the future relationship between Utah and Germany will forever become stronger and more mutually beneficial as we both become lights and examples to the world.”“Today, we are gathered here at the historic Fort Douglas cemetery to remember the 41 German soldiers who died as prisoners of war after WWI and WWII and are buried here,” said Elder Uchtdorf. “They are buried next to many of their brothers in arms from different nations. I think that is very important that we try to learn from these challenges.”“Our desire and our action to help someone who is sick, who is hungry or in trouble will bring peace and reconciliation not only to our personal lives, but to those around us and to the communities we are living in and eventually to the whole world,” he said. “Therefore, every day can and should be a day of reconciliation, even a joyful day of new beginning.”“Individually and as a people we can and should be a people of peace and reconciliation,” Elder Uchtdorf said. “I consider this as one of our prime responsibilities toward our children and their children. … It takes empathy and action to influence the future of mankind based on dignity, honesty, and eternal values.”Now, 73 years after the end of WWII, Koenigsberg is Russian and Danzig is Polish.
Combined troops of Kaysville Boy Scouts carry the American flag and German flag during the German Day of Remembrance (Volkstrauertag) at Fort Douglas Military Cemetery in Salt Lake City on Sunday, November 18, 2018. Photo by Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News.Emmy Gourley holds her children Madisen and Abigail during the German Day of Remembrance (Volkstrauertag) at Fort Douglas Military Cemetery in Salt Lake City on Sunday, November 18, 2018. Photo by Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News.For Vern Gorzitze, attending the annual event has become a tradition for more than two decades.That was part of the message the Apostle shared during the annual Volkstrauertag event at Fort Douglas Military Cemetery in Salt Lake City on November 18. The gathering, held each year on the German National Day of Remembrance, pays tribute to German prisoners of war—and others—who are buried in the cemetery.“It is indeed a day of remembrance and a day of mourning for all who died in wars, but it is much more,” said Elder Uchtdorf. “The commemoration and service include the victims of violent oppression because of race, religion, or conviction.” German Chorus Harmonie sing during the German Day of Remembrance (Volkstrauertag) at Fort Douglas Military Cemetery in Salt Lake City on Sunday, November 18, 2018. Photo by Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News.Recognizing the loss Utah citizens recently felt at the death of Major Brent R. Taylor, a Utah National Guardsman and North Ogden mayor who was killed while deployed in Afghanistan, Governor Herbert spoke of the sacrifice that continues today with soldiers.“My father was born in Berlin, my mother in Frankfurt, and they met here [in Utah] in Sunday School,” he said. Coming to the event honors not only those who have died but also his family and heritage.Today the celebration is an opportunity to join together in respect for those who have sacrificed and gone before, as well as a reminder to move forward with gratitude and love for others who may think or act different, Burton said.“As we commemorate this sacred event this Sunday, I hope we can all be committed to being more tolerant, particularly of those with whom we disagree,” Burton said. “I believe we truly can … disagree without being disagreeable.”For Elder Uchtdorf, who is from Germany and served in the German Air Force, the day is personal.“Volkstrauertag was a solemn reminder of the causes that lead to the tragedy of war and the need to do everything in our own individual power to preserve and regain peace, or at least to clearly speak out for peace.”“At the end of World War II, these cities were totally destroyed,” said Elder Uchtdorf. “They became vast places of ruins and rubble, and all the survivors had to leave to the West. As Harriet and I looked at photos right there at the places of tragedy, our hearts almost stopped.”In Elder Uchtdorf’s family as he grew up, Volkstrauertag was “never only a day to mourn the dead,” he said.Volkstrauertag is celebrated two Sundays before the first Sunday of Advent in Germany and throughout the world. The program brought together local civic and religious leaders and members of the community to honor soldiers from nations throughout the world.“Nazi Germany, my country, started the events of WWII,” he said. “I think to recognize that and find ways to prevent these things in the future, that is our task, that is what we need to take care of.”Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles and his wife, Sister Harriet Uchtdorf, recently traveled to Russia and other countries in Eastern Europe. While there, they visited Kaliningrad (Koenigsberg) and Gdansk (Danzig), two cities that were for many generations “beautiful and strong German communities.”The day is an opportunity to look back at what has happened in history and a reminder that there are ways to protect peace.
Then she added, “I actually feel ennobled by being a Latter-day Saint woman. Every opportunity for growth I have ever had has come because of the Church.”The pair discussed the growth of the Church in South America, the Rome Italy Temple, abortion, same-sex attraction, polygamy, family history, self-reliance, and religious freedom.It’s a sentiment I know he means. Sergio Rubin, Argentine journalist and biographer of Pope Francis, interviews President Russell M. Nelson of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Montevideo, Uruguay on October 26, 2018. Photo by Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News.“Many churches are ruled by men, at the exclusion of women,” said Mr. Rubin. “Is this the case for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints?”Sister Dew told Mr. Rubin that he would have a hard time finding a church where more women have more authority than in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.With other Church and Deseret Management Corporation employees, I was allowed to sit in on the October 26 interview and listen.“The family is under attack and religion is under attack,” he declared. “But we are confident that the family will prevail and religion will prevail.”President Nelson looked at Mr. Rubin and said, “It is better coming from a woman than from me.”“Can you help with this answer about the role of women in the Church?” he asked her. He motioned her into camera range.The Church needs our voices. Let’s be ready. President Nelson has called on each of us to speak for ourselves.The message was powerful. When given the chance to talk about women in the Church, our prophet had not spoken about Church doctrine or priesthood authority. He had not spoken of his wife or nine daughters. And he did not draw from one of the many sermons he has delivered about women. Instead, he called on a woman to speak for herself.MONTEVIDEO, URUGUAY“There are hundreds of thousands of women, right now, who have legitimate leadership opportunities and expectations. As women in the Church we teach and preach, we expound doctrine, we serve missions as full-time proselyting missionaries, and we have leadership responsibilities,” she said.An Argentine-based journalist and writer, Mr. Rubin had many questions for President Nelson.I will never forget the way President Nelson watched as Sister Dew answered Mr. Rubin’s question. It was a look that reflected gratitude and trust for all Latter-day Saint women.Mr. Rubin agreed. “That is a live testimony,” he said.President Nelson’s messages to women have always been profound.President Nelson then turned and looked at Sheri Dew, executive vice president of Deseret Management Corporation, the CEO of Deseret Book Company, and former Relief Society General Presidency member.However, the question that meant the most to me was the question President Nelson elected not to answer.“Well,” said President Nelson, “you should talk to a woman about that.”President Nelson was confident with every answer.President Nelson’s invitation to Sister Dew seemed like an invitation to me as well. The Church needs my voice as a Latter-day Saint woman. That is what I know now that I didn’t know before the South America ministry tour.During his recent trip to five countries in South America from October 19 to 28, President Russell M. Nelson sat down for an interview with Sergio Rubin, Pope Francis’s official biographer.“My dear sisters, we need you!” he said during the October 2015 general conference. “We need your strength, your conversion, your conviction, your ability to lead, your wisdom, and your voices” (“A Plea to My Sisters”).
Basic survivorElder Gay suggested an alternative important question to ask: “What lack I? And what do I need to do to move my life ahead the way Heavenly Father would have me move it ahead?”To students who are working two jobs just to pay the bills, parents, busy doing Church service, who don’t have a spare minute in their lives to think about attending school or don’t feel like they can afford education, the leaders—while recognizing the hard work they are already doing—encouraged them to keep an eternal perspective.Sister Gilbert, who with her husband, President Gilbert, has eight children, added that her education has helped her in establishing a learning environment in their home as well as with time management.Recognizing all experience doubt or discouragement at some time, Elder Holland reminded them, “God is on your side,” and encouraged listeners to “keep the doctrine in mind and remember who you are.”“I feel that if we work toward our divine potential, anything that we learn is an advantage,” she said.Whether it is a student who is distracted by getting married and having children—both righteous endeavors—or a student who is still living in his or her “mission days,” some struggle with focusing on investing in the future.
A broadcast to Pathway students around the world November 8 included a panel discussion on overcoming obstacles in education with messages from Elder Jeffrey R. Holland and other members of the Church Board of Education, including Elder David A. Bednar, Elder Quentin L. Cook, Sister Jean B. Bingham, and Elder Robert C. Gay, along with Elder Kim B. Clark, Church Commissioner of Education, and President Clark G. Gilbert with his wife, Christine. Photo by Michael Lewis.The panel spent close to an hour discussing how to overcome obstacles to education.“As we go around the world and meet with lots of people, I’m always touched by the fact that so many of [the leaders we meet] … when you ask them about earlier in their lives, there were huge sacrifices and times of want and times of deprivation,” said Elder Cook. “But most of them look back on that time with great joy and happiness, and a time of preparation, not just a time of sacrifice. Sacrifice does bring forth the blessings of heaven. …“Our hearts are so touched by anybody who’s having to work several jobs and trying to get an education at the same time. You have our admiration and our appreciation, but it’s worth it. It’s worth it in this life, and its worth it in the eternities.”“Even if you never use that education degree in the field you go into, you will always use that experience to teach people what you have to do to move your life and the lives of others ahead,” he said.The doubter is a student who is not sure if he or she will make it in the program, who in the first week feels school is tough and the lessons are getting hard to understand.“There is a strength and a power beyond our own that helps us do what we otherwise could never do,” said Elder Bednar.“You are continuing to be a disciple of Jesus Christ progressing to receive everything that God has,” Elder Gay said. “It is about becoming, and we have to get that deep down in the heart. The question is not ‘Am I happy?’”When it comes to education, “you have divine help,” said Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles.“I know that the Lord will bless those who are trying to develop their divine potential to their fullest,” she said. “Sometimes we have to step off into the dark and trust that the Lord will help us to be able to accomplish the things that we need to accomplish.” A broadcast to Pathway students around the world November 8 included a panel discussion on overcoming obstacles in education with messages from Elder Jeffrey R. Holland and other members of the Church Board of Education, including Elder David A. Bednar, Elder Quentin L. Cook, Sister Jean B. Bingham, and Elder Robert C. Gay, along with Elder Kim B. Clark, Church Commissioner of Education, and President Clark G. Gilbert with his wife, Christine. Photo by Michael Lewis. A broadcast to Pathway students around the world November 8 included a panel discussion on overcoming obstacles in education with messages from Elder Jeffrey R. Holland and other members of the Church Board of Education, including Elder David A. Bednar, Elder Quentin L. Cook, Sister Jean B. Bingham, and Elder Robert C. Gay, along with Elder Kim B. Clark, Church Commissioner of Education, and President Clark G. Gilbert with his wife, Christine. Photo by Michael Lewis.The purpose, President Gilbert said, is to “help us understand how to stay the course and pursue our education even when things get tough.”“We all have the weakness of the natural man,” Elder Clark said. “We get lazy, we get afraid, we doubt, we get subject to all sorts of maladies, but the Lord says that if you will humble yourself and come unto Him, He will make weak things … strong through the power of His atoning sacrifice to His redeeming power.”“Missionary work is hard work. … It’s down in the nitty gritty of planning, seeking, knocking, and in really moving people along,” he said. “I cannot think of anything that you would learn in the classroom that is not applicable in some other setting.” A broadcast to Pathway students around the world November 8 included a panel discussion on overcoming obstacles in education with messages from Elder Jeffrey R. Holland and other members of the Church Board of Education, including Elder David A. Bednar, Elder Quentin L. Cook, Sister Jean B. Bingham, and Elder Robert C. Gay, along with Elder Kim B. Clark, Church Commissioner of Education, and President Clark G. Gilbert with his wife, Christine. Photo by Michael Lewis.Important to that change is acting in faith, Elder Clark said.Elder Bednar added, “I would recommend a very simple thing when you have doubts. Repeat the first article of faith to yourself. It is the Father’s plan of eternal progression. We come to earth to learn from our own experience the good from the evil, and we are blessed through the Atonement of Jesus Christ. … His Atonement helps us to overcome sins and mistakes and strengthens us to do what we otherwise could not do on our own. And the Holy Ghost is the teacher. The first article of faith denotes the help from heaven that is available to every person who acts in faith and follows the teachings of Christ: the plan, the Atonement of Christ, and the teacher.”Although she doesn’t have to take tests or turn papers in on time anymore, Sister Gilbert said, “I’m still blessed knowing how to manage our time and our schedules and the things that go on in our house.” Learning how to ask good questions as a student has also helped her as a mother.Paraphrasing a quote from Brigham Young, Elder Holland said the tragedy in life is not failure—the tragedy in life is “diminished expectations,” where a person expects too little of oneself and aims too low.Elder Bednar shared an experience he had as a young father with two children while serving as an early-morning seminary teacher and completing a demanding graduate program. “When we talk about our capacity being enlarged, because of and through the Atonement of Jesus Christ—a blessing available to every covenant-keeping Latter-day Saint—it doesn’t mean it gets easier immediately,” he said. “You may sometimes have questions and wonder, ‘Can I do this?’ Through stretching and turning to the Lord, our capacity is increased.” As a person does his or her best and strives to live the gospel, there are “compensating blessings.”“You are able—you are far more able than you think,” Elder Holland said.“Even in your difficulty, and they’re real, even in your difficulty, make sure you step outside yourself and bring someone else along. It’s amazing how much better two of you will make it than one can do alone.”Happy as I amThe doubter“We’re going to walk through a number of concerns students at BYU–Pathway face as they work through the program,” President Gilbert said, later adding, “As you listen to each of these students, maybe some of them are more true to you; maybe all of them are true to you.”“When we shortchange ourselves on education as a woman, we are not prepared to bless others and really fulfill our divine potential as a daughter of God. … We are commanded to learn in this life,” Sister Bingham said.
Some 450 BYU–Pathway Worldwide students and educators—and more via broadcast around the world—met in a special devotional originating from Church headquarters in Salt Lake City on November 8.“We are all more able than we think; we’re all capable of infinitely more than we do,” said Elder Holland. “And we must not let our fears get in the way. … You have help, we are all children of God. We have divinity in us. We have potential and promise and covenant and privilege that we haven’t even begun to tap, and there are legions in heaven that are prepared to help you fulfill that destiny.”“As limited as your dream might be and as worried as you are, they are more worried—will you remember them? You’ll do a lot better, if in all of your travail, you realize that there’s a neighbor … who needs you.Elder Bednar added, “In the mission field, there is a structure, a scaffolding that surrounds a missionary. When a missionary comes home from a mission, they sometimes question if they can continue to develop and dedicate themselves to a holy purpose without that protective scaffolding. That’s part of the test.” It is through two words—develop and dedicate—that a person is able to be successful, Elder Bednar taught.During the broadcast, BYU–Pathway Worldwide President Clark G. Gilbert acted as moderator in a discussion with Elder Holland, Elder David A. Bednar, and Elder Quentin L. Cook, all of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles; Elder Robert C. Gay of the Presidency of the Seventy; Sister Jean B. Bingham, Relief Society General President; Elder Kim B. Clark, General Authority Seventy and Commissioner of Church Education; and Sister Christine Gilbert.Identifying the students who are “happy as I am” and may spend much of their time on things that distract them from accomplishing their work or education, President Gilbert asked leaders what advice they would share with them.
Sister Jean B. Bingham, Relief Society General President and a member of the Church Board of Education, was part of a panel discussion during a devotional for BYU–Pathway Worldwide students and educators November 8.Speaking to 450 BYU–Pathway Worldwide students and educators in a special devotional originating from Church headquarters in Salt Lake City on November 8—and more via broadcast around the world—Elder Holland and many of his associates on the executive committee of the Church’s Board of Education offered encouragement and advice to students.“We’ve talked about doing hard things,” said Elder Holland. “Please believe that the great things in life for any generation come by people who do hard things and put forth hard work. Let me ask you to do another hard thing: however tough you think you have got it, someone near you has got it tougher than you do. …Doing hard things A broadcast to Pathway students around the world November 8 included a panel discussion on overcoming obstacles in education with messages from Elder Jeffrey R. Holland and other members of the Church Board of Education, including Elder David A. Bednar, Elder Quentin L. Cook, Sister Jean B. Bingham, and Elder Robert C. Gay, along with Elder Kim B. Clark, Church Commissioner of Education, and President Clark G. Gilbert with his wife, Christine. Photo by Michael Lewis.The panel focused their remarks on four types of students—“the doubter,” “misplaced zeal,” “happy as I am,” and “basic survivor”—and shared personal insights to help students along their path to education.Elder Clark spoke of the scripture found in Ether 12:27, which speaks of weakness becoming strong.To the returned missionaries who are wishing to “go back to those glory days” when they were “building the kingdom and doing things that mattered,” as President Gilbert described, Elder Gay reminded them the things they have learned as missionaries will help them throughout their lives. Some 450 BYU–Pathway Worldwide students and educators—and more via broadcast around the world—met in a special devotional originating from Church headquarters in Salt Lake City on November 8. Photo by Michael Lewis.Sharing her own experience of becoming a mother while taking nursing classes, Sister Bingham said, “Everything I learned in those classes, even though I didn’t finish my degree at that time, I used in my mothering. The child development, nutrition—every one of those classes helped me.”“We have to act, but act in faith,” he said. “If we do, power flows into our lives through the redeeming and strengthening power of the Savior.”Years later, she returned to finish her degree in education, and she said it was fascinating to see that “not one class was wasted” and they each helped her to be a better person, a better mother, and better in her service in the Church.“I really learned during that time to invite the Spirit into my life every day to help guide and direct me in the things I need to do,” she said.Misplaced zeal“Who do you suppose is the ‘father of doubt’?” Elder Holland asked. “If you had to have an antonym to doubt, wouldn’t it be faith?”Recognizing that getting married and raising a family requires problem-solving, creativity, discipline, and education, Elder Gay encouraged listeners to continue working toward achieving goals.Sister Bingham added sometimes a person has to give up what’s at hand in order to have something better in the future.“I’d much rather have a goal and if there’s failure or limitation or inadequacy along the way, you keep working at it,” said Elder Holland. “But to not even have the goal or to have the goal too low … that really does smack of tragedy.”
Thirteen years ago, President Gordon B. Hinckley visited San Antonio—and, according to local Latter-day Saints, south Texas was never the same.Tens of thousands gathered inside the indoor football stadium to hear their prophet share counsel, encouragement, and love. It was a weekend marked by revelation and unity. The next day, President Hinckley dedicated the San Antonio Texas Temple.President Russell M. Nelson is scheduled to preside over a San Antonio member devotional at the Alamodome. The Church’s 17th President will be joined by his wife, Sister Wendy Nelson; Elder David A. Bednar of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles and his wife, Sister Susan Bednar; and Elder Adrian Ochoa, a General Authority Seventy, and his wife, Sister Nancy Ochoa.Rain is forecast for San Antonio on Sunday. No matter. An evening with President Nelson, Elder Bednar, and the other visitors is certain to again prompt smiles from heaven and across the Lone Star State.On Sunday, November 18, a President of the Church returns to the Alamo City.Latter-day Saints and their friends from 17 stakes and two districts are being invited to the Sabbath evening devotional. Organizers expect about 25,000 people to attend. Many will be Spanish speakers who will listen to live translations of the talks via a translation app.Since learning of the November 18 devotional, stake presidents across south Texas have been asking members to pray for the visiting leaders, who are seeking revelation on their behalf.“The level of excitement for this devotional has really intensified—it is electrifying,” said Elder Carlos Villarreal, an Area Seventy and south Texas resident.“I would think that the heavens are smiling on Texas today,” said Elder Ballard.Now they are humbled “that the prophet wants to be with us,” said Elder Villarreal. San Antonio’s Alamadome will be the site of a November 18 member devotional featuring President Russell M. Nelson, Elder David A. Bednar, and other visiting leaders. Image courtesy of visitsanantonio.com.On May 21, 2005, the Church’s 15th President presided at a youth jubilee at the Alamodome in downtown San Antonio.The members living across the greater San Antonio/McAllen region appreciate that President Nelson’s visit comes at a moment of prolific revelation for the Church, he added. They have closely followed President Nelson’s travels across the globe, including his recent member devotional in Seattle and his South American tour. They listened intently to his recent general conference messages.Following the May 22, 2005, dedication of the San Antonio Texas Temple, then-Elder M. Russell Ballard of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles stopped to speak for a few moments with a Church News reporter.
A service missionary is called by the Lord through His prophet to serve in an environment uniquely tailored to his or her talents, skills, and gifts.
A service missionary is called by the Lord through His prophet to serve in an environment uniquely tailored to his or her talents, skills, and gifts.Missionaries can be home for a grace time of about nine months to a year and still be able to transfer to a service mission to finish out their mission, said Porter. “We’ve been piloting this [reassignment] program around the U.S. and Canada, and it’s been highly successful,” he said, “and our hope is to expand the program to other countries in the future.”Mission reassignments Service missionaries on Temple Square. Changes to the Church’s missionary programs expand service opportunities for worthy young adults who desire to serve a mission.“Their call will be from the prophet,” said Elder Dale G. Renlund of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles in a video on MormonNewsroom.org. “They will apply just like every other missionary to full-time missionary service.”“They go about doing good, just like the Savior did,” said Elder Renlund.According to the updated website lds.org/service-missionary, “A service missionary is called by the Lord through His prophet to serve in an environment uniquely tailored to his or her talents, skills, and gifts.”“What this means is that any worthy young person in the Church [men ages 18–25 and women ages 19–25] who desires to serve a mission will submit an application through a single online portal, and the Missionary Department then through prophetic keys will decide whether they go on a proselyting or a service mission,” said Porter.Called to serve
Service missionaries fulfill a variety of service needs, such as these service missionaries helping to plant flowers at the Ogden Utah Temple.Service missionaries serve anywhere from six months to two years, live at home, and serve locally. “They make a huge difference,” said Elder Renlund. “They’re dependable, they show up, they do the work. They’re cheerful, they’re positive, they’re enthusiastic. They bring life and energy.”If a candidate will not be called to a proselyting mission, a representative from the Missionary Department will counsel with the stake president before a service mission call is issued. Those called as a service missionary will work with their stake president and local facilitators to find the best service opportunities for them.But an opportunity to serve as a young Church-service missionary at Church headquarters “changed everything for me,” she said. “It gave me a purpose and made me feel like I had worth and could contribute to the Lord’s work.”Service missionaries serve on Church farms in Florida and Texas or in departments at Church headquarters in Utah, or they help with seminary and institute enrollment and other stake-assigned service opportunities. Catholic Charities, Habitat for Humanity, and the California Old Towne state park are some of the non-LDS organizations that currently use service missionaries. “The Church is always looking for more partners who need service volunteers,” said Porter.Regardless of the type of mission someone is called to, the Lord is behind the call and equally values all service rendered in His name. According to the updated website lds.org/service-missionary, “Service missions are acceptable offerings to the Lord when a proselyting mission is not possible. … All missionaries represent the Lord and are His agents in the work of salvation.”In addition, missionaries who are not able to complete a proselyting mission due to due to mental, physical, and emotional health reasons may be able to transfer to a service mission for the remainder of their mission.Major changes to the Church’s missionary programs announced November 16 will further expand service opportunities for worthy young adults like Schuyler who desire to serve a mission.Three changesAnother significant change is that service missionary candidates will apply the same way as proselyting missionary candidates, through an online portal, and their mission calls will likewise come from the prophet.“These changes will affect the lives of young people and their parents in the U.S. and Canada in a significant way,” said Ben Porter, managing director over the service mission programs of the Church.Parents and potential missionary candidates are encouraged to visit lds.org/service-missionary and then talk to their bishops about their desire and eligibility to serve.Missionary candidates don’t get to pick their type of mission. Mission assignments are made under priesthood keys by prophets and apostles based on the information provided in the application, which includes various evaluations.Proselyting missionaries from the U.S. or Canada who are not able to complete their missions due to mental, physical, and emotional health reasons may have the option of transferring to a service mission, if approved by their stake president.“The Lord said if you have desires to serve, you are called to the work,” said Elder Renlund. “This is serving the Lord as a missionary and bringing to pass God's work. … [Service missionaries] bring great blessings to themselves, but more importantly, as they are doing this work, they’re blessing Heavenly Father’s children in unique ways.”“They don’t proselyte,” said Casey Mortensen, a manager in the Service Missionary Program, “but they serve the Lord in His name and in His way. They have a strong desire to serve and don’t take this opportunity for granted.”Beginning in January 2019, young Church-service missionaries will be called “service missionaries.” The Service Missionary Program, which has been available in the U.S. and Canada for about 10 years, makes it possible for worthy young adults who for various reasons have been excused from serving a proselyting mission to still serve a mission.Mickelson has an extensive background in music. Serving as a service missionary in the Church’s Music Department on the new hymnbook project was a great fit for what she had to offer. “It felt like a big blessing because I was working on the best project for the skills and talents I have been developing since I was young.” She hopes other missionaries can have a similar experience.When reoccurring health problems prevented Schuyler Mickelson from completing her proselyting mission in Boston, Massachusetts, she was “devastated and really sad. I was depressed for months and months,” she said.
Learn more now at LightTheWorld.org, available in English, Spanish, and Portuguese.Returning this year are the popular Light the World giving machines. These vending machines symbolically illustrate how easy it is to donate to charities by allowing donors to instantly give instead of receive.For the third year, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is encouraging members to #LightTheWorld with simple acts of service and Christlike love during the 2018 Christmas season. Giving machinesThe 2018 theme, “Light the World, Give as He Gave,” is influenced by President Russell M. Nelson’s call to minister in “new, holier ways” (“Let Us All Press On,” Apr. 2018 general conference).Special sacrament meeting“The emphasis the past two years has been on how can I serve. With President Nelson’s invitation to minister, we’ve adjusted our focus to whom can I serve,” said Greg Droubay of the Missionary Department.This year’s campaign, detailed at LightTheWorld.org, encourages people to find ways to share their time, love, and resources with those in need, “helping others in a new way each week.” It includes four weekly themes and videos: light the world, light your community, light your family, and finally, light your faith. For service ideas, see the downloadable advent calendar.Light the World giving machines will be located in the lobby of the Joseph Smith Memorial Building in Salt Lake City, Utah; at the Water Tower Plaza in Gilbert, Arizona; in Manhattan outside the temple; at the Hyde Park chapel and visitors’ center in London, England; and inside the SW Megamall in Manila, Philippines.If you can’t make it to a giving machine, you can learn about and donate to the charities involved by visiting LightTheWorld.org.Using credit cards, people can purchase representations of items like a goat or a chicken, socks, a new pair of school shoes, an eye exam, clean water, baby supplies, first aid kits, medication, and food. After the purchase is complete, the machine vends the item into a bin at the bottom. These donations, and the money used to purchase them, are then distributed to charity partners like CARE, UNICEF, WaterAid, and Water for People.Kicking off the season is a worldwide day of service December 1, where Latter-day Saints worldwide are encouraged to do simple acts of service in their neighborhoods and communities. Members are encouraged to use JustServe.org (where available) or to contact local charities to find simple service opportunities.Worldwide day of service
Light the World giving machines illustrate how easy it is to donate to charities by allowing donors to instantly give instead of receive.On December 23 members and missionaries are encouraged to invite those not of our faith to attend a special Christ-centered sacrament meeting that will focus on the birth of Jesus Christ with appropriate messages and Christmas music.
Sunday offered members from both Paradise wards a few hours of welcome Sabbath day respite from their staggering challenges. The two wards worshipped at the Chico stake center at a combined sacrament meeting. They listened to messages of hope, sang hymns, and partook of the sacrament. They enjoyed a shared meal together in the cultural hall.“That gives you some sense of the proportion,” said Bishop Harrison.The blaze swept over the town of 27,000 and practically wiped the town off the map with flames so fierce that they melted metal off cars, the Associated Press reported.Bishop Harrison, meanwhile, learned he had lost his two Paradise-area houses shortly after fleeing for safety on November 8 when the wildfire spread across the Northern California community. But even as they minister to those in their charge, both Bishop Harrison and Bishop Mattson said they too are being ministered to by fellow members from the Chico California Stake and beyond.“It could take years to get our town back into shape and get things cleaned up,” said Bishop Harrison. Members of the Paradise 1st and Paradise 2nd Wards meet together on November 11, 2018, for Sabbath day worship and post-disaster assistance at the Chico California Stake Center. Photo courtesy of Josh Cook.All members from the Paradise 1st Ward are accounted for, said Bishop Harrison.The wildfire that largely incinerated Paradise, California, offered a stark reminder that Latter-day Saint bishops often shepherd others even while enduring their own trials.As of Monday, November 12, their status was unclear. The bishop said he rejoices each time he learns a previously unaccounted for member is alive and well.The two bishops know shepherding holds no expiration date. Difficult days await the Paradise members. They will all be asked to look out for one another along the way.“We got confirmation on Sunday that our home had been completely destroyed,” said Bishop Mattson, a husband and father of four children, ages 10–15.There was some good news to report. The damage at one of the Paradise meetinghouses—the so-called Billy Road building—was limited to trees outside the structure, reported Bishop Harrison. The fire destroyed the second meetinghouse in Paradise.At least 29 people have been confirmed dead, equaling the deadliest blaze in California history. Nearly 230 people are being called “unaccounted for” by public safety officers.
Flames continue to burn at the site of the charred remains of the Paradise 1st Ward meetinghouse in Paradise, California, on the day after the November 8 fire destroyed the town. Photo by James Dimmitt.For many Latter-day Saints from the Paradise area, the temporal and spiritual support they are receiving now represents a sizable chunk of all they own.Church-provided counselors were also on hand to offer practical and emotional support for members of all ages. Following the religious services, children and youth participated in breakout sessions hosted by professional counselors.The Paradise members left the Sunday meeting reminded that they would not have to face the coming weeks and months alone. “It was good to get together and just spend time with one another,” said Bishop Mattson. “Everyone left with clothing, food, toiletries, and bedding.”“Ninety-five percent of the members in our ward have lost their homes,” said Bishop Harrison, who is staying with relatives.
Google maps image of the Paradise 1st Ward meetinghouse in Paradise, California, prior to the November 8 fire that destroyed the town. © 2018 Google.“It’s amazing how the members are coming together and supporting one another,” Bishop Harrison told the Church News.The adults, meanwhile, were divided into two groups: those who lost their homes and those who did not lose their homes. The families whose homes were spared met in the stake high council room. The families whose homes were lost met together in the spacious cultural hall.Meanwhile, displaced Latter-day Saints have found shelter with family, friends, or fellow members from Chico and neighboring stakes. A sobering number of Paradise members are now homeless.Paradise 1st Ward Bishop Robert Harrison and Paradise 2nd Ward Bishop Troy Mattson have spent the past several days monitoring the welfare of their members, offering spiritual support, and coordinating relief efforts with fellow priesthood and Relief Society leaders.Bishop Mattson acknowledged Monday that communication remains a challenge. There are 750 members on the Paradise 2nd Ward rolls. He has sent out mass surveys to collect status information from each family. Most have responded, but a few have not.Both bishops lost their own homes to the flames and are counted among the thousands displaced by one of the most destructive wildfires in California's history.Most member families have not been able to return to their charred home sites. The roads into Paradise are being blocked to keep people safe and to discourage would-be looters.
My parents have been a consistent thread of strength and guidance. I have fond memories of sitting on the living room floor listening to my mother tell a flannel board story of Lehi and Sariah and their four sons. I felt then that what she was telling me was true, and from a young age I have loved and treasured the Book of Mormon. I felt secure and loved in my home and could easily visualize what my Heavenly Father was like, because I knew He had to be like my earthly father.The Oxford Dictionary defines weaving as “the craft or action of forming fabric by interlacing threads.” I like to think of my life much like a fine piece of fabric, consisting of people and experiences as the different types of threads added throughout a lifetime. Each person I associate with and learn from can add luster and strength to the cloth I am weaving.In retrospect of my six decades of mortality, I remember and am filled with gratitude for many influential teachers who have contributed to the tapestry of my life. I can’t say one outshines another, because they have all contributed in very tender and significant ways.My youth years were laced with teachers and leaders who took an interest in me. They made me feel important and special. Brother and Sister Stowe were new to our ward, and in my 12- to 13-year-old mind, they were perfect. They were a young couple who loved each other and loved the gospel. I can’t remember details of their Sunday School lessons, but they always came prepared. I remember thinking that I wanted to be just like them when I grew up.I had two bishops during my teenage years—Bishop Orvil K. Anderson and Bishop Ray Don Reese. These men were some of the kindest men I knew. I felt their love and interest for me, and I could feel the power of the priesthood as they served. They taught me to trust my leaders. I gained a testimony of priesthood power and how it is operative in my life every day.
Sister Vicki G. Jackman of the Young Women general board.My life has been woven with threads of testimony by these ordinary, committed Latter-day Saints who taught me that God lives and cares about me. Because they loved and cared about me, I felt the love and care of a Heavenly Father and His perfect Son. These dear teachers are extraordinary!I had many Primary teachers and leaders who taught me gospel truths. I knew they cared about me and loved me, so I was secure in what they were teaching me. I grew up when Primary was held during the week. I can still envision sitting in the Brigham City 10th Ward chapel, with the afternoon sun streaming in the windows, singing the song “I Wonder When He Comes Again.” I gained a testimony then that one day Jesus will come again, and I want to be ready.I loved camping, and I had a fabulous camp director, Sister Donna Hansen. I was convinced that she knew everything about nature. She took us on hikes and identified all the plants, flowers, and trees. We learned how to lash poles together and create our own Clorox bottle showers. We learned to build fires and baked cakes in a reflector oven, which actually turned out. She instilled within me such a love for the outdoors. I could tell she was passionate about the world around her, and that threaded in me a sense of passion for God’s creations.
However, President Hinckley said he wasn’t announcing a temple for Fiji on that day, but he promised that—one day—a temple would be built in the island nation.President Hinckley began his tour in Laie, Hawaii, on October 10. The Church News turned over to a correspondent in Hawaii the assignment to report on that leg of the prophet’s journey for the simple reason I couldn’t keep up with him and his entourage. They traveled by private jet; I flew on commercial airlines—the schedules of which didn’t always meet their itinerary.One of those moments for me occurred on October 15, 1997, in Suva, Fiji, which was one of the stops on President Gordon B. Hinckley’s visit to eight islands of the South Pacific from October 10 to October 17. The tour gave me new insight to the term “island hopping.”As he addressed the members, President Hinckley asked how many of them would like to have a temple in Fiji. It almost seemed as though an electric current ran through the stadium. Hands went up. More tears flowed.Instantly, tears welled up in the eyes of many in the congregation. Emotion choked their voices, but they continued to sing “to guide us in these latter days.” Soon, emotion overcame control. Many stopped singing and wept. They used handkerchiefs, scarves, backs of hands, shirttails, sleeves, and dress collars to wipe tears from their eyes so they could have clear vision to see the prophet.That promise, that dream for the Fijian Saints, became reality when he returned and dedicated the Suva Fiji Temple on June 18, 2000, less than three years after that memorable visit.The moment I mentioned earlier—in Fiji—occurred as President Hinckley arrived in Suva. I got to Fiji’s National Stadium about two hours before he was scheduled to address Church members there. I watched members from many of Fiji’s islands arrive. As in the other island nations, most had never seen a prophet in person. Their anticipation was almost palpable.I met some members from the Labasa Branch, part of a group of 100 Latter-day Saints who undertook an arduous journey from the island of Vanua Levu to Fiji’s main island of Viti Levu. The Labasa members began saving money to pay for their trip to Suva as soon as they heard President Hinckley planned to visit. They did without things they ordinarily would have bought for daily use. They traveled four hours on an uncomfortable bus over dusty roads and then 12 hours on a boat. The daytime travel was hot and humid; the night hours were chilly. The journey was the first time many had traveled away from their island.The meeting was scheduled to begin at 3 p.m. That hour came and went. President Hinckley’s plane had been delayed leaving Tonga earlier that day. Time seemed to stand still. Every few seconds, members looked toward the portal through which President and Sister Hinckley were to enter. Then the moment finally came. At 3:10 p.m., the members stood and began singing “We Thank Thee, O God, for a Prophet.”I met up with President Hinckley and his group in Apia, then Western Samoa—now it’s called Samoa—on October 11. He visited the island of Savai’i and then went to Pago Pago, American Samoa, on October 13. That same day, he traveled to Nuku’alofa, Tonga, a trip of about 90 minutes, but because of crossing the International Dateline, he arrived on Tuesday, October 14.Those accompanying President Hinckley included Sister Marjorie Pay Hinckley; Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles and his wife, Sister Elisa Wirthlin; and Elder Vaughn J. Featherstone, General Authority Seventy, and his wife, Sister Merlene Featherstone.We all have moments we’re not likely to forget, some so vivid they seem to knit together past and present. The Suva Fiji Temple was dedicated in 2000 by President Gordon B. Hinckley.They arrived at National Stadium three hours before the meeting. They watched people arrive by the hundreds until about 5,000 had assembled. Labasa Branch President Tipo Ralifo told me their eyes widened in amazement as they, for the first time, found themselves in the midst of a vast congregation of Latter-day Saints.
The manuals for Primary and Sunday School supplement what is being studied and taught at home during the week, providing opportunities for individuals to share experiences, ask questions, and participate in a discussion about what they have been studying at home.His wife, Alish Anderson, added, “I’m excited to put my best effort into my family teaching in the home.Promised blessings
Image by Aaron Thorup.A family studies together from the new Come, Follow Me—For Individuals and Families manual for 2019.“That was our goal—to come when we could all come together,” said Alish Anderson.
A young woman studies from the new Come, Follow Me—For Individuals and Families manual for 2019.“‘The new home-centered, Church-supported integrated curriculum has the potential to unleash the power of families, as each family follows through conscientiously and carefully to transform their home into a sanctuary of faith. I promise that as you diligently work to remodel your home into a center of gospel learning, over time your Sabbath days will truly be a delight. Your children will be excited to learn and to live the Savior’s teachings, and the influence of the adversary in your life and in your home will decrease. Changes in your family will be dramatic and sustaining’ (“Becoming Exemplary Latter-day Saints,” Oct. 2018 general conference).”“Individuals and families, however, seek inspiration as they choose to study what will best meet their needs. They prayerfully consider options such as the Book of Mormon and other standard works, general conference messages, Church magazines, information available on LDS.org, and other materials suggested by general or local leaders. There is no expectation that members will study all, or even most, of these resources at any one time.”“When [leaders] would ask the children questions in Primary, they had learned so much at home and you could tell they were enjoying it,” he said. “It really improved conversations in music and sharing time and was a real positive thing for Primary.”According to materials enclosed with the First Presidency letter dated October 6, 2018: “Gospel study at home deepens conversion to Heavenly Father and the Lord Jesus Christ and strengthens our families. A study of the scriptures, supported by the new resource Come, Follow Me—For Individuals and Families, is the suggested course of gospel study at home. This rich resource provides a variety of study options for individual and family adaptation and aligns Sunday School and Primary curriculum with home study.For Brian Noble’s family, the pilot program became an important part of their family scripture study in the morning before family members left for school and work.“It became not just a time to read a bunch of verses or chapters, but [also] a time to discuss what we were reading as we went along with the manual,” he said. “I felt like it made scripture study a lot more meaningful. We were talking about things more than we would otherwise and it became a more spiritual experience.”Being together in the Conference Center was memorable, but to be in the Conference Center when so many changes were announced was more than memorable, it was historic.“We saw in all the organizations people came prepared to discuss the neat things they have learned,” he said. “It changes the dynamics of the class.”At the time his ward was first involved in the pilot program, President Lemperle was serving as the Primary music leader.Noble, who is a father of five and serves as bishop of the Briarwood Ward in the Centerville Utah Stake, said the new curriculum helped members in his ward participate more in discussions than they would have otherwise.Doran Anderson said, “We’ve been feeling like we needed a little more for our family, and this is an answer to prayers, especially the focus on more quality time as a family discussing gospel topics.”Because classes in the Sunday meeting schedule will be on a rotating basis, the schedule is meant to be a guide, allowing Church classes to skip or combine the lessons when necessary due to a stake conference or other meetings.During an LDS Business College devotional on November 6, President Henry B. Eyring, Second Counselor in the First Presidency, spoke of the changes to Church curriculum and reminded listeners of President Russell M. Nelson’s prophetic promise: “Last month during general conference, many Latter-day Saints welcomed the announcement that the Church will soon implement a two-hour Sunday meeting schedule. Those listening by the Spirit, especially parents, heard in that announcement the Lord’s call to greater responsibility. You remember President Nelson’s promised blessings to those families who embrace the opportunity for increased Sunday stewardship:“Nobody wanted it to end”An elevated focusSingle members who had studied on their own at home were able to bring their insights and experience to a greater conversation in class on Sundays, President Lemperle said. For those who come from a home where it wasn’t being done—a less-active member or part-member family—President Lemperle said class still became an enriching place of learning.When David A. Lemperle’s stake was asked to be part of the pilot program for the new curriculum, many of the stake members were uncertain of how they were going to do it.“When you come to church on Sunday, you are able to share with each other,” President Lemperle said. “The most important thing of all of this—when people are gathered together to talk about the Savior, the Spirit teaches what we need to know and you leave feeling better than when you come.”“I always encourage people, even if all you can do is spend five minutes a day, then spend five minutes a day,” President Lemperle said. “Do what you can, even a little bit. Consistency is the most important thing. For us, it is exponentially easier to [study] at the same time every day. For our family, it happened to be in the morning; another family that time might be at night. It is more about creating the habit of consistent daily study.”A quick glance through the manual shows lessons broken up into a weekly study, each one including seven elements:“This resource is for every individual and family in the Church,” according to the Come, Follow Me resources. “It is designed to help you learn the gospel—whether on your own or with your family. If you haven’t studied the gospel regularly in the past, this resource can help you get started. If you already have a good habit of gospel study, this resource can help you have more meaningful experiences.”A greater responsibilityBecause the outlines in the resource are organized according to a weekly reading schedule, Sunday lessons in Primary and Sunday School classes will follow the same schedule. A study guide is available for every week of the year, with the exception of general conference weekends.For some, figuring out a time that works with a busy family schedule may be tricky; for others it may be difficult to study on their own.Since the October 6 announcement, Church members around the globe have been anticipating the arrival of the new Come, Follow Me—For Individuals and Families curriculum. While the actual distribution of the manual is up to local leadership, all active households will have a copy by the end of the year. Church members who would like to view content before they are given a manual can view the content online at comefollowme.org.To those who are worried or concerned about the responsibility that comes with the new curriculum, Bishop Noble said to “exercise some faith and you will find remarkable blessings in your life and as a family and ward. You will be so glad leaders have been inspired and come out with this program.”A highlight was hearing President Russell M. Nelson as he discussed the need for a “home-centered Church, supported by what takes place inside our branch, ward, and stake buildings.”“I felt like within our home, conversations were really great,” said President Lemperle, who had two teenage children at home when they were doing the pilot program. “I found myself trying to do my own study, and then we would read as a family. My family members had their own insights, and then when I would go to Sunday School the depth of the conversations with people were very enriching. We had different insights and perspectives.”President Lemperle said the material the Church provided—videos, commentaries, insights, and prompts—made it so “you will never run out of stuff to do.”“I feel like we are going to have to make some sacrifices to make this happen,” said Alish Anderson. “We’ve already cut back a lot on extracurricular stuff, and we’ll just have to make it a priority.”
Image by Aaron Thorup.After their youngest child turned 8, they decided to make the drive from Reno, Nevada, to Salt Lake City so they could attend the October 2018 general conference.Alish and Doran Anderson had been looking forward to the time when they, with their four children, could attend general conference in the Conference Center.For those who are already having scripture study and home evening, these changes will come fairly easy, said Bishop Noble. For those who aren’t in the habit of studying at home, the new curriculum is an opportunity to start.“Once we got into the rhythm of doing it, it was not a difficult thing,” said President Lemperle, who serves as president of the Centerville Utah Stake. “Integration only took a week or two, and then everybody moved forward as if we had been doing it all along. When it ended, nobody wanted it to end. Nobody wanted to go back to the old way.”
“That phone call started a professional, then personal, then apostolic friendship that will continue warmly and wonderfully forever,” he said. “Suffice it to say that second only to some very profound experiences in prayer in New Haven, the fact that I would pursue a teaching career in the institute program of the Church—clearly the least exciting and least Ivy League-like choice available to me—was due in large measure to that and subsequent conversations with Neal A. Maxwell. My life since then continues to have his fingerprints all over it.”“But if it did come down to a choice, it would be faith, the yearning, burning commitment of the soul, that would always matter most in the end.”The group is a gathering place for scholarly research about religion—specifically about The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.“I was very impressed,” he recalled.Addressing the topic “Mormon studies”—a well-recognized part of the Maxwell Institute’s identity—Elder Holland spoke of the need for a name change after President Russell M. Nelson’s general conference address.“I am not suggesting our BYU approach to scholarly dialogue has to start with slides of your mission and end with an anthem from the Tabernacle Choir at Temple Square—notice that modified name,” he said. “But any scholarly endeavor at BYU—and certainly anything coming under the rubric of the Maxwell Institute—must never principally be characterized by stowing one’s faith in a locker while we have a great exchange with those not of our faith. … Bracketing your faith is what those in the field call it.”“How do we best and most warmly open that door, personally and professionally, and on what do we sup when the Master is admitted?” he asked. “Will our time and conversation in the Maxwell Institute be consistent in every way with His gospel, His grace, His life, His loving, persistent plea to ‘Come, follow me’?”Although she is not a part of the Maxwell Institute, Amanda Burnham, a junior at BYU studying communications, said she liked hearing from Elder Holland and his reminder that scholarly and academic pursuits should never contradict her spiritual beliefs.Elder Holland told the crowd of scholars and students, “We are at a moment in His Church, the Savior’s Church, when there is a demonstrable, near-tangible hastening of the work. These continue to be the latter days with no one knowing when that last ‘last day’ is going to be.”“Beloved colleagues, if we do our work well today, we can make things better for those who will come in troubled times ahead, those prophesied times before that day when Christ Himself will rule and reign, that eschatological moment against which I increasingly measure both my own personal worthiness and that of the Church generally. In that regard, we all need to do what we can in the hour we have been given, acknowledging as the later Nephi did that ‘these are [our] days.’”J. Spencer Fluhman, executive director of the Neal A. Maxwell Institute, said of Elder Holland’s lecture: “Our Maxwell Institute mission statement challenges us to become ‘disciple-scholars’ who inspire and fortify Latter-day Saints in their testimonies of the restored gospel with academic work that also meets the highest scholarly standards. Elder Holland’s remarks formed a powerful charge to pursue that mission with energy and wisdom. His insight and experience, and his apostolic vision in particular, will help shape and prioritize all the good that we can do.”Not only does bracketing one’s personal faith limit truth claims and moral judgments, it has often cost scholars credibility with readers because “no one knows exactly where authors are coming from ideologically.”“Take heart, we are going through the same exercise at Church headquarters, addressing a whole host of adjustments that are necessary in our own departments, our own printed materials, and public communications,” he said. “We know this assignment will give you heartburn, but it doesn’t rank with the Missouri persecutions, so dive in.”In June of 1971, Jeffrey R. Holland, then a young student in New Haven, Connecticut, read an article in the Church News about the newly appointed commissioner of the Church’s educational system, Neal Maxwell.“Friends, what we are asking you to do is difficult, it is demanding, it is among the stiffest challenges we could give you,” Elder Holland said. “We know you can’t be credible in every circle if you are seen as lacking scholarly substance and categorically defensive all the time. But neither can you afford to ever be perceived as failing to serve the larger, faith-oriented purposes of this Church. All we can ask is that you pray and fast and strive and sweat to find your way through. And then, if there be error, let it be on the side of your covenants and on the side of your faith convictions.”According to the Maxwell Institute’s mission statement, “As a research community, the institute supports scholars whose work inspires and fortifies Latter-day Saints in their testimonies of the restored gospel of Jesus Christ and engages the world of religious ideas.”Whatever the audience, the Maxwell Institute must engage in work that builds the kingdom, set its agenda according to its own objectives, and ensure that the dominant tone of its work affirms core values of the Church.While there will be times where a person is not obligated, or it is not appropriate, to declare everything he or she knows, Elder Holland warned of even looking “like what we do not believe.”“As I look back on it, that was a silly, embarrassing thing to do—some insipid graduate student Brother Maxwell had never met asking via a telephone call what he should be when he grew up,” Elder Holland told listeners during the 2018 Neal A. Maxwell Lecture at Brigham Young University on November 10.Quoting from Elder Maxwell, Elder Holland said, “‘The highest education, therefore, includes salvational truths,’ thus the invitation to include in your scholarly backpack the body of ‘divine data’ that the eternities have placed at our disposal. We are to use salvational truths whenever and wherever we can.”“I care about [Elder Maxwell’s] name, about the life he lived, the legacy he left, and the legacy that will run on into the 21st century and beyond,” Elder Holland said. “In great measure the Neal A. Maxwell Institute for Religious Scholarship will, for good or ill, be the means of communicating much of that legacy to an ever-younger, ever-newer generation in the Church who never heard Elder Maxwell’s voice, nor delighted in his prose, nor felt the fire of his faith.”The Maxwell Institute at BYU has an important responsibility to reflect the Savior and His doctrine in all that it does.That personal relationship was one of the motivating factors of his lecture on November 10, titled “The Maxwell Legacy in the 21st Century.” Elder Holland, who served as the ninth president of BYU from 1980 to 1989 as well as commissioner of education for the Church and was the dean of the College of Religious Education at BYU, understands the purposes of the Maxwell Institute as a place for gathering and nurturing academic scholarship through “disciple-scholars.”Elder Maxwell often spoke of the “disciple-scholar” and the commitment to seek learning with “full intellectual stretching” and that not all truths are of equal importance.“And in the case of the Maxwell Institute, they must come as close together as an ecclesiastical sponsor and an academic recipient of that sponsorship can be,” he said. “So if the university is to reflect the best the Church has to offer by way of a world-class academic endeavor, no apologies to anyone, then the Neal A. Maxwell Institute must see itself as among the best the university has to offer as a faithful, rich, rewarding center of faith-promoting gospel scholarship enlivened by remarkable disciple-scholars.”But Commissioner Maxwell—who was later called to be a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles just a few years before Elder Holland was sustained to the same quorum—could not have been more gracious in his manner, nor more generous with his time, Elder Holland recalled.Unlike other universities and institutions with departments or courses dedicated to studying the Church in a purely intellectual and historic way, BYU has to provide scholarly dialogue within a spiritual context.“The spiritual half of that union was always the more important,” said Elder Holland. He later added, “But the wonderful thing with Neal, and the thing I want for us, is that it didn’t have to come down to a choice between intellect and spirit. In a consecrated soul—and consecration was one of his favorite doctrinal concepts—they would be aligned beautifully, a perfect fit, a precise overlay.Elder Maxwell taught that a person is not really “learned” if they exclude the body of divine data that the eternities place at a person’s disposal through revelation and the prophets of God.“Sometimes as students we focus only on our studies, and we are actually studying to be a disciple,” she said. “We are disciples first.”Because of that, continuing revelation to prophets, seers, and revelators is significant and will continue to be. Just as an individual must “open the door” and allow Christ into his or her life, so does the Maxwell Institute in the academic world.Speaking to a capacity crowd in the Joseph Smith Building on the university’s Provo campus, Elder Holland explored the importance of scholarship and discipleship and how, in both, representing the Savior is most important.Several years later, with his dissertation moving along and decisions arising such as “after this degree, what?” he decided to call Neal Maxwell for advice.Recognizing the missions of the Church and of BYU are not identical, Elder Holland spoke of how their missions can never be at odds with each other.Although there are some limitations to what can be shared, there are many topics that Church members and scholars must share “without compromising their unique Latter-day Saint characteristics.”He later added, “But as with all such challenges in gospel life, I see the requirements to adjust that name as being a blessing not in disguise. A unique name of somehow reflecting language given by the Savior Himself will be one way of sending a signal that we are different—sometimes a lot different—out here in Provo, Utah. Of necessity we will often be ‘a peculiar people’ in the academy as well as in other arenas of life.”
“He told me once that if he could strip off his skin to hold the priesthood, he would,” Johanna Brutinell said.A Christlike example“I remember from the first time walking into Harry’s shack … he just had the ability to make you feel like the only person in the room,” Johanna Brutinell said. Even if there were 15 people around, he made each individual feel special, she recalled.As Mortensen recalled, he didn’t think much about racism. When attending the movies with his young friends, Bailey was required to sit in the balcony section, due to the color of his skin; and at restaurants, Bailey was required to go to the back door to order his food, Mortensen recalled. And although it bothered him when Bailey was treated differently, he said that as a teenager, he didn’t feel there was anything he could do to change that.A different kind of family“Harry grew up poor and lived poor,” Mortensen said.“We’d go there just to talk and listen to Harry’s stories and to plan mischief,” Mortensen said, noting that many of the adults in the area never seemed to understand why the youth chose to spend their time there. “Prejudice against African Americans was very common, and Harry expected and accepted it.”When Mortensen first met Bailey in 1952, Bailey was at least 54 years old, while Mortensen was just entering his final year of high school.“Harry worked whatever jobs he could find and always had some work,” Mortensen said. “Farm labor, picking cotton by hand, roofing houses, etc. And he seemed to know everyone—the farmers, politicians, Church leaders, and the African American community.”Despite his many domestic skills, Bailey wasn’t much of a housekeeper, and, with a small iron pot-belly stove as his only heat source, smoke and ash often covered the surfaces in his small home. Bailey was always making things for others. “Before he would give his crocheted items away, he would wash them to change the color from ash grey to white,” Mortensen said.Curtis said that during the event, Bailey was the only person she could think about, particularly remembering his tolerance for so many things and his perseverance through so many difficulties in life.But despite the prejudice shown to him, Bailey treated all alike and all kindly.On November 15, 1978, Harry Bailey Jr. was endowed in the Mesa Arizona Temple. It was a day he had waited 25 years for, since the day he had joined the Church.“Harry always had a twinkle in his eye,” Curtis said. “He had a great sense of humor and he was a proper gentleman, just always a very kind man.”Bailey was single, had never been married, and had no children of his own, yet photos of youths, mostly young men from the Safford and Central areas who were serving missions or who had gone into military service, were displayed proudly on a long table adorned with handmade doilies in his home. As Mortensen and his younger sister, Lafaunda Curtis, explained in a recent interview with the Church News, these were Bailey’s family, “his boys.”“I left my office and went to see Harry with the news,” Mortensen said. “He was in his home, which needed some cleaning, and pictures of ‘his boys’ were still on display.”Church records, social security records, and even Bailey’s obituary contradict Bailey’s birthdate, Mortensen explained, but as far as he has been able to research, Bailey was born sometime between 1898 and 1909 in the state of Georgia.“He was a good listener,” Brutinell said. “He treated you like you were somebody because to him you were somebody.”Johanna Brutinell and her husband, Mautice, were among the youth of the valley who often sought refuge at Bailey’s home, and when they were married, Bailey attended their reception and gave them three pot holders that he had crocheted himself. “We still have one,” Johanna Brutinell said.“Harry told us of growing up on the Bailey Plantation in Georgia,” Mortensen said. “From his stories, I believe his grandmother was a slave, at least in her youth, and the living he described was pretty much like a slave camp, … hence why he had the last name of Bailey.”Bailey was always there to listen to their stories and their plans for the future and to counsel with the youth, Mortensen explained. Bailey was always understanding, and he would help whenever he perceived a need.Throughout the years, Bailey was inconsistent with his activity in the Church. At times, he would only attend Relief Society meetings, where he learned a great deal from the sisters. In the late ’70s, due to health problems, he attended church very infrequently. But around that time, many years after Mortensen had returned from his mission and after Bailey had been forced to move from his small condemned shack near the railroad tracks, Mortensen became Bailey’s bishop.While Bailey had no formal education, he had learned to play the piano and organ and could read and write. In the Gila Valley, Bailey spent much of his time with the local Relief Society sisters, learning to knit, crochet, and cook.For those who remember Bailey and the impact he had on the community, the temple there is a reminder of the faith and kindness of a remarkable character with a selfless spirit.Fond memoriesIn June of 1978, while at work on Main Street in downtown Safford, Mortensen received a call from his wife, who had just received word that all worthy men could be ordained with the priesthood, regardless of their skin color.Johanna Brutinell said that as teenagers, they didn’t pay much attention to how other people treated Bailey, or to the issues of race in their community. To them, “Harry was just a good friend, someone we could go and talk to any time,” Johanna Brutinell said. “It didn’t really occur to us that he was black. He was just Harry.”Through their 62 years of marriage, Bailey has remained an important figure in their minds.In May of 2010, more than 20 years after Bailey died, on a plot of land visible from where Bailey’s old shack-like house had once stood, the Gila Valley Arizona Temple was dedicated by President Thomas S. Monson.“We can’t let his memory die,” Curtis said. “He deserves to be remembered.”When Mortensen explained the news to Bailey and reviewed the process for being ordained an elder and entering the temple, Bailey told his young bishop that he had been waiting for this day for a long time. He even had a set of pressed temple clothes ready to go.Bailey’s good character and the way he affected his community is part of why Mortensen and Curtis felt so strongly about wanting to share the story of their dear friend following the “Be One” event in June.Kindness firstA remarkable characterOn Friday and Saturday nights in the Gila Valley, the youth who were looking for something to do would often end up at Bailey’s house.And although Bailey never had a lot of close family or connections, he had an impact on everyone around him. “He was an example of kindness and the ability to love without judgment,” Curtis said. “He was a colorful staple in the valley. Just a truly loved character.”Mortensen never knew how or why Bailey ended up in the Gila Valley, but that part didn’t matter much to him in his teenage years. To him, Bailey was a staple of the community and a great friend.“He made delicious bread,” Mortensen recalled. “And he was always making something by crochet, … but by the time he finished it, it was quite dirty.”As a true minister and an example of what it means to “love thy neighbor as thyself,” Bailey taught Mortensen and Curtis many things over the years, for which they expressed their gratitude, and with their memories starting to fade, they expressed the hope that others would learn from Bailey as well.But while Bailey was aware of the prejudices against his skin, the youth who so frequently sought his company seemed to not fully understand it.When Irval Mortensen, a Church member from Safford, Arizona, tuned in to watch the “Be One” celebration in June, his thoughts turned immediately to a figure from his past—someone he described as an “unforgettable character,” and someone he hoped would be remembered, even as his own memory fades.One time, when a student from a nearby community college ran out of funds to stay in his college accommodations, Harry made a place for him by giving the kid his own bed and sleeping on the couch himself, Mortensen recalled.For Mortensen, Johanna Brutinell, and Curtis, Bailey stands out in their minds as a perfect example of what it truly means to minister and to be a ministering brother.Waiting for change“He didn’t want anything. He never did,” Brutinell said. “He would just give of his time. Youth would go see him with their problems, especially the problems they felt they couldn’t go to their parents with.”Among the difficulties Bailey faced, like many black members of the Church, was difficulty with understanding his role prior to the 1978 revelation on the priesthood. Portrait of Harry Bailey Jr. Photo courtesy of Irval Mortensen.The full-time resident of the small shack was a man named Harry Bailey Jr., and in the year 1953, when he was baptized, Bailey was one of the only African American members of the Church in the Safford area.As a teenage boy growing up in the Gila River Valley of eastern Arizona, Mortensen spent much of his free time about 10 miles west of his house in the rural town of Central. There, just west of Highway 70 and the railroad tracks that run parallel to the road, stood a small shack-like home on the edge of a cotton field. It was a small and humble structure, likely meant to serve as a semi-permanent residence for a farmer to house seasonal workers. It had no indoor plumbing and no water. Water had to be carried in buckets from across the railroad tracks and highway. With just a small kitchen space, a small bedroom, and a small living room area, the house was hardly considered an ideal place for youth of the area to hang out in their free time, but despite its lack of modern comforts, the house and its resident served as a refuge for many youth in the community.“He had very little, so he ministered with his time,” Curtis said. “He would’ve given anything anyone asked of him.”
Elder Melvin J. Ballard’s prophecy is becoming a reality, said Alfredo Salas, director of public affairs in the Church’s South America South Area. Housing lines the hillside in Lima, Peru, on Friday, October 19, 2018. Photo by Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News.Forty years later, the Barranquilla Colombia Temple, scheduled for dedication on December 9, will become the 19th temple in South America.“And the best is yet ahead,” said President Nelson in Paraguay. “We are just looking at the beginning now.”The Delgados and other second, third, and fourth generations of Latter-day Saint families “are becoming a strength in the Church and hopefully in the world,” said Salas.“I saw the Church with just a few members when I got baptized,” Curbelo said. “Now there are thousands and thousands.”The journey to 19 temples Churros are sold at Plaza Mayor in downtown Lima, Peru, on October 21, 2018. Photo by Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News.During his October visit to the South American nations of Peru, Bolivia, Paraguay, Uruguay, and Chile, President Nelson spoke to thousands gathered for member meetings. During each meeting he addressed the members in Spanish and spoke of the miracle unfolding before them in South America and across the world.In 1925, three leaders of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints—Elder Melvin J. Ballard, Elder Rey L. Pratt, and Elder Rulon S. Wells—embarked on a 34-day journey, by land and sea, from Salt Lake City to Buenos Aires, Argentina.Another example of the growth of the Church in South America is Nestor Curbelo. After three years of working with the missionaries, he was baptized in 1969. On the day of his baptism, he paid the tithing he had been saving for more than one year.On Christmas Day of 1925, in the park of Tres de Febrero in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Elder Melvin J. Ballard dedicated South America for the preaching of the gospel.Early in the mission, Elder Wells became ill and had to return to Salt Lake City. Elder Ballard and Elder Pratt remained, walking the streets of Buenos Aires passing out handbills about the Restoration of the gospel; their efforts resulted in a single conversion.In 1960, when missionaries arrived in Talcahuano, Chile, the Church was not yet organized in the area. They prayed and were directed to Alberto Altamirano’s home. Alberto’s parents, José and Luz, listened to the message. They believed the missionaries to be men of God.Having temples close to the people is a wonderful blessing, he said.Then on July 4, 1926, as Elder Ballard was preparing to return to Utah, he spoke about the future of the Church in South America. From his office in Salt Lake City, President Ballard read his grandfather’s prophecy: “The work of the Lord will grow slowly for a time here just as an oak grows slowly from an acorn. It will not shoot up in a day as does the sunflower that grows quickly and then dies. But thousands will join the Church here. It will be divided into more than one mission and will be one of the strongest in the Church. … The South American Mission will be a power in the Church.”“Bless the presidents, governors, and the leading officials of these South American countries, that they may kindly receive us and give us permission to open the doors of salvation to the people of these lands,” he prayed.The work of early membersIndeed, more than nine decades since that inspired prophecy, South America is a power in the Church. Latter-day Saint membership on the continent numbers 4,076,054, with 692 stakes, 4,178 wards, 95 missions, and 18 operating temples, according to Church statistics. Since 1970, more than 187,000 missionaries have served in South America.But “the Church started growing little by little. We started learning about the temple little by little.” Physical therapist Diana Cam Chiock looks over a donated wheelchair at the Institute of National Rehabilitation in Lima, Peru, on Friday, October 19, 2018. LDS Charities has donated 6,200 wheelchairs to the center. Photo by Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News. Blind individuals applaud during a delivery ceremony at The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints Las Brisas Ward in Lima, Peru, on Friday, October 19, 2018. LDS Charities donated 1,150 canes and 1,150 braille readers. Photo by Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News.During a recent visit to South America, President Russell M. Nelson spoke of the early missionaries, who “didn’t feel very successful. In fact, they finished their visit here feeling rather down that they didn’t get much done.” And President Nelson spoke of the Church today in South America. “It is not just numbers; it is strength, it is power, it is faith,” said President Nelson.Secundino Delgado joined the Church in Peru 50 years ago. One of 40 baptisms performed on Christmas Day a half century ago, Delgado’s baptism was dubbed a “white Christmas” by missionaries.The family, who came into the Church in 1973, has a tradition of missionary work. “We are so proud of our children,” said Risso, noting their first goal for their posterity was Church activity.“I still feel like there is more to come,” he said. “A few years ago, we only had a few temples. Now we have two, three, or four temples in some countries.” Motorists travel along the coastal highway in Lima, Peru, on Friday, October 19, 2018. Photo by Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News.The missionaries carried an artist’s depiction of the Savior. Soon Alberto’s mother—followed a few months later by his father—entered the waters of baptism in San Pedro Lake.Missionaries became a symbol of the Church in early days in Uruguay. Elder Floyd Rose helps Dr. Urcia Fernando unload a Church-donated wheelchair at the Institute of National Rehabilitation in Lima, Peru, on Friday, October 19, 2018. LDS Charities has donated 6,200 wheelchairs. Photo by Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News.A prophecy fulfilled A student peers out of a window of a prefabricated classroom at Heart of Jesus Preschool in Lima, Peru, on Friday, October 19, 2018. LDS Charities donated three classrooms, including tables and chairs and other school supplies. Photo by Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News. Valentine Alfredo walks with her daughters to the Heart of Jesus Preschool in Lima, Peru, on Friday, October 19, 2018. Photo by Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News.Seeing the new temple in Concepción would make his parents very happy, said Altamirano of the Talcahuano Chile North Stake. “They worked so hard at the beginning of the Church here. [A temple] here is the culmination of all their work.”“The São Paulo Temple was the temple of South America,” he said. “All the converts who joined the Church from the beginning to 1978 had the blessing of the temple.”José Altamirano became the first branch president, and then district president, in Talcahuano. When the Talcahuano Stake was created in 1977, he became the first stake president.At the time of the historic dedicatory prayer, President Nelson was 15 months old. Students sit at a donated table at the Heart of Jesus Preschool in Lima, Peru, on Friday, October 19, 2018. Photo by Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News.“The Church is relatively young here in South America,” said President Nelson. “Ninety years ago, nothing. … And now … we saw four-generation families.”Days later he elaborated during an interview in Chile. “We’re witnesses to a process of restoration,” said President Nelson. “If you think the Church has been fully restored, you’re just seeing the beginning. There is much more to come. … Wait till next year. And then the next year. Eat your vitamin pills. Get your rest. It’s going to be exciting.”Early in their marriage, Curbelo’s wife, Rosalina Coitino, thought of the temple as “something she would do in the millennium.”“A power in the Church”The 1978 dedication of the São Paulo Brazil Temple—the 17th in the Church and the first in South America—changed everything for the Curbelos and the other members. Many members sacrificed for the temple, selling military medals of honor or the gold from their teeth, said Curbelo. “Families sold their TV or their car or their bicycle. They did this to build the temple or to travel to the temple.Instead, they found an apartment to rent and went to work.One of those families is Eduardo and Jeanet Echevarria Risso. “Our posterity is our most important thing,” said Eduardo Risso. “It is our joy.”Back then, without a temple in South America, he was told to “get baptized, be faithful, and attend church.”Of the trip, President M. Russell Ballard, Acting President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles and the grandson of Elder Melvin J. Ballard, said: “My grandfather went out into the streets of Argentina. They did not have a great harvest. They did not see the people flock into the Church by any means.”“It has been a miracle how the Church has grown,” said Delgado. “We were one stake; now we are hundreds of stakes. It has been amazing to be part of that.” Students at the Heart of Jesus Preschool sing a song in Lima, Peru, on Friday, October 19, 2018. LDS Charities donated three prefabricated classrooms, including tables and chairs and other school supplies. Photo by Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News.
Sister Milder served with her husband in the Brazil Cuiabá and Brazil Ribeirão Preto Missions and is a former stake Relief Society presidency counselor, Relief Society and Primary teacher, and ward Relief Society president. Born in Curitiba, Paraná, Brazil, to Leugim de Paula and Antonia Gonçalves Ramos de Paula.César Augusto Seiguer Milder, 61, and Maureen Daisy de Paula Milder, three children, Horto Florestal Ward, São Paulo Brazil North Stake: Brazil Missionary Training Center, succeeding President João R. C. and Sister Maria Lúcia Martins Silva. Brother Milder is a former Area Seventy, mission president in the Brazil Cuiabá and Brazil Ribeirão Preto Missions, stake president, bishop, high councilor, and missionary in the Brazil São Paulo South Mission. Born in Uruguaiana, Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil, to Eldio Krunsel Milder and Branca Flor Seiguer Milder.New Zealand Missionary Training CenterDavid Ellsworth LeSueur, 69, and Nancy Lee Rigby LeSueur, seven children, Stratland Ward, Gilbert Arizona Stake: Provo Missionary Training Center, succeeding President David C. and Sister Deanie Martino. Brother LeSueur serves as a temple sealer and ward music chairman and is a former temple president, Area Seventy, mission president in the Philippines Manila Mission, stake president, and missionary in the Central British Mission. Born in Mesa, Arizona, to Leo Robertson LeSueur and Thelma Claire Ellsworth Leslie.
Christine and Lindsay T. DilSister Clark serves as an assistant director of public affairs, served with her husband in the Philippines Angeles Mission, and is a former stake seminary supervisor, seminary teacher, ward Primary president, and stake Young Women camp director. Born in Salt Lake City, Utah, to Jay Kent Curtis and Bonnie Jean Curtis.Sister LeSueur serves as ward organist, served with her husband in the Philippines Manila Mission, and is a former temple matron, stake music chairman, ward Young Women and Primary president, and stake Relief Society president. Born in Berkeley, California, to Charles Emery Rigby and Mary Jayne Tolton Rigby.Scott Boyd Clark, 59, and Sandra Gail Clark, four children, Bentonville 2nd Ward, Bentonville Arkansas Stake: Philippines Missionary Training Center, succeeding President Rodolfo A. and Sister Brenda R. Carlos. Brother Clark serves as a stake executive secretary and is a former mission president in the Philippines Angeles Mission, stake president, bishop, high councilor, ward Young Men president, and missionary in the Japan Sendai Mission. Born in Murray, Utah, to Wallace Ivan Clark and Colleen Clark.Philippines Missionary Training CenterProvo Missionary Training CenterSister Olson serves as a ward organist and temple ordinance worker, served with her husband in the Uruguay Montevideo Mission, and is a former ward Primary, Relief Society, and Young Women president; stake Young Women president; and seminary teacher. Born in Idaho Falls, Idaho, to Walden Weaver Johnson and Gwen D Johnson.Lindsay Thomas Dil, 67, and Christine Mary Dil, four children, Takapuna Ward, Auckland New Zealand Harbour Stake: New Zealand Missionary Training Center, succeeding President Philip F. and Sister Judith L. Howes. Brother Dil serves as an area Church history adviser and is a former Area Seventy, mission president in the Ghana Cape Coast Mission, stake president, bishop, and missionary in the French Polynesian Mission. Born in Auckland, New Zealand, to Wilfred Thomas Dil and Gloria May Dil.Brazil Missionary Training Center
Sandra G. and Scott B. Clark
César A. S. and Daisy Milder
Rose Ann and Timothy M. OlsonSister Dil also serves as an area Church history adviser, served with her husband in the Ghana Cape Coast Mission, and is a former stake and ward Relief Society president. Born in Thames, New Zealand, to Jack Charles Cathro Patrick and Daphne Myrtle McLean Dawson Patrick.México Missionary Training Center
David E. and Nancy L. LeSueurTimothy Michael Olson, 70, and Rose Ann Johnson Olson, seven children, Monte Cristo Ward, McAllen Texas West Stake: México Missionary Training Center, succeeding President Curtis R. and Sister Sheri M. Bennett. Brother Olson serves as a patriarch and temple ordinance worker and is a former Area Seventy, mission president in the Uruguay Montevideo Mission, stake president, bishop, and missionary in the Argentina Mission. Born in Downey, California, to Roger Lee Olson and Faith Wanda Olson.The First Presidency has called five new missionary training center presidents and their wives; with the exception of the Milders, who have already begun serving, the couples will begin their service in January.
By the time the Mathews arrived home late Sunday, they had been reminded of charity’s paradox: the benefactors of service are often as richly blessed as those they serve.They both offered kudos to the local Helping Hands organizers in Wilmington. Efficiency defined the project, allowing yellow-clad volunteers to spend their time focused entirely on service.Both have spent most of their lives as key members of their respective sports squads. But “teamwork” has perhaps been redefined for the Mathews after recently joining thousands of other Latter-day Saints volunteering on Helping Hands work crews in hurricane-affected regions of the southeastern U.S.On October 12, the couple made the six-hour drive to their assigned work area in Wilmington, North Carolina. They camped in a tent outside the stake center and arose early Saturday morning to begin a weekend of Helping Hands service. They rested a few moments from their efforts on Sunday morning for a brief sacrament service at the Wilmington meetinghouse.The Mathews worked with fellow volunteers—new “teammates”—cleaning out several heavily damaged homes. They pulled out drywall, removed waterlogged furniture, and salvaged other valuables. Mitch and Madie Mathews recently worked alongside fellow Helping Hands volunteers, removing waterlogged debris from a home in Wilmington, North Carolina. Photo courtesy of Madie Mathews.Both were celebrated athletes at Brigham Young University. Remember the Cougars’ last-second, game-winning touchdown against Nebraska in 2015? That was Mitch on the receiving end of that unforgettable score.Working on a Helping Hands project “really brought me down to earth,” said Madie. “It helped me recognize the small, everyday tender mercies in my own life.” Madie Lyons Mathews played soccer and ran track for Brigham Young University. The former athlete recently worked alongside her husband, Mitch, during a Helping Hands cleanup effort in Wilmington, North Carolina. Photo courtesy of BYU.The Mathews don’t know if the houses they worked in belonged to fellow Latter-day Saints. It makes no difference. “It was good for us to get our hands dirty alongside others doing the same thing. It was humbling to put on a mask, pull on gloves, and get dirty,” said Mitch.Both Mitch and Madie are Westerners. They didn’t grow up with hurricane terms such “category 5 winds” or “storm surges.” But after seeing Florence’s wrath on television, they were eager to pull on yellow Helping Hands vests and join the ongoing multi-state cleanup effort.Mitch and Madie Mathews know the ins and outs of good teamwork.Madie, meanwhile, was an all-conference striker on the BYU women’s soccer team and a sprinter on the track team.They knew the work would be hot, grimy, and exhausting. “But we also knew we would be much more uncomfortable just sitting at home instead of getting out and helping,” said Mitch.The floodwaters may have receded, “but everything inside the homes was still wet—and there was a lot of mold, so we had to wear masks,” said Madie.Mitch and Madie quickly discovered that the work moved smoothly when the Helping Hands volunteers came together as a team. Their first few work orders moved slowly, but soon their crew established a rhythm and leaders emerged. Once everyone learned their job, “we could accomplish a lot more and get things done,” said Mitch.“We were blessed not to have been affected by the hurricanes, so we wanted to help those who were,” said Madie, a Utah native who now calls Alpharetta, Georgia, home. Mitch Mathews enjoyed a celebrated athletic career playing wide receiver at Brigham Young University. He and his wife, Madie, recently participated in a Helping Hands service project in Wilmington, North Carolina. Photo courtesy of Deseret News.The Mathews are relatively new members of the Johns Creed Ward of the Roswell Georgia Stake. After Hurricane Florence inundated much of eastern North Carolina, calls for Helping Hands volunteers went out to wards and branches across the South.
Former BYU athletes Mitch and Madie Mathews donned masks and yellow Helping Hands vests during a recent cleanup project in Wilmington, North Carolina. Photo courtesy of Madie Mathews.
But the winds were blowing, flames were moving, “and I knew I had to get my family out of there.”The fast-moving flames prompted mass evacuations for members living in Paradise. Fellow members from the nearby city of Chico and other neighboring communities immediately stepped up to offer shelter to displaced Latter-day Saints.Bishop Robert Harrison was commuting from his Paradise, California, home Thursday morning, November 8, when a spiritual urge he couldn’t ignore hit hard.By late Thursday night, 66 member families were staying in the homes of Latter-day Saints from the Chico and Gridley stakes. Such efficiency was made possible thanks to a previously established stake website that matches displaced people with families eager to help.Local Church leaders are relieved that all members and missionaries are safe and accounted for. But the so-called Camp Fire exacted an awful price in the Paradise Latter-day Saint community and beyond.In less than 24 hours, the Camp Fire had torched over 31 square miles, or 20,000 acres, turning escape routes around the town of Paradise into tunnels of fire as the entire community of 27,000 residents were ordered to evacuate, USA Today reported. Several other wildfires are burning across the Golden State.He also sent out mass texts to the members issuing a similar plea to leave Paradise immediately.“So far, the members are doing well. We have a really tight ward. We will hang on and reach out to each other. We will make it through.”Bishop Harrison’s terrifying get-out-now account could be echoed by thousands of residents forced to flee from this town in Northern California’s Butte County.“I was baptized in that building,” said Bishop Harrison, a convert to the Church.Bishop Harrison spent the night with his in-laws. He told the Church News he’s holding up well—but his heart is heavy. He’s heartsick for his ward members and his neighbors. And the decades-old meetinghouse that hosted countless sacrament meetings, wedding receptions, funerals, and ward gatherings is now nothing but a memory.The wildfire that would eventually consume much of Paradise, destroy two of Bishop Harrison’s homes, and incinerate the Latter-day Saint meetinghouse he loved seemed far off at that initial moment of inspiration.“I had several promptings to turn around; turn around and go back,” he said November 9.“Most or all of our members have lost their homes—I know I’ve lost two homes,” said Bishop Harrison, who presides over the Paradise 1st Ward, Chico California Stake.Latter-day Saints across the region “have done amazing work to help everyone in need,” he added.The Chico stake center is functioning as both a temporal and spiritual anchor for the fire-affected members. For many Paradise members, it was their initial destination after escaping the danger.Paradise 2nd Ward Bishop Troy D. Mattson reported Friday that “emergency crews seem to have done an excellent job of search and rescue,” even though communication was often difficult.Meanwhile, both meetinghouses in Paradise were reportedly destroyed.But the true strength of the ward—the members—remains resolute and unshaken, he added.“Local Church leaders are accessing needs in the community and evaluation will be ongoing,” said Church spokesman Doug Andersen. “We pray for first responders working tirelessly to fight the fires and for all those affected by this disaster.”