Other brief remarks and testimonies were offered at the Saturday morning gathering by Sister Renlund, Elder and Sister Alonso, Elder and Sister Gonzalez, Dominican Republic Santo Domingo East Mission President Bret Smith and Sister Jeanette Smith, Dominican Republic Santo Domingo West Mission President Jose Santos and Sister Madeline Santos, and Dominican Republic Missionary Training Center President Richard M. Gulbrandsen and Sister Karen Gulbrandsen. Missionaries await the arrival of President Russell M. Nelson and Elder Dale G. Renlund at a missionary meeting on September 1, 2018, in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. Photo by Rex Warner. Sister missionaries wait in line to shake hands with President Russell M. Nelson. Photo by Rex Warner.President Nelson clearly relishes being with missionaries. He and Elder Dale G. Renlund of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles made time to shake hands with every missionary attending the event at the Santo Domingo meetinghouse. Joining the visiting Brethren was Sister Ruth Renlund, along with Elder Walter F. Gonzalez and Elder Jose L. Alonso and their wives, Sister Zulma Gonzalez and Sister Rebecca Alonso.The Church President and the thousands of Caribbean Area missionaries that he spoke to—either in person or via live broadcast—are partners in a sacred gathering that has been prophesied of for thousands of years.To the sister missionaries: When your “Prince Charming” comes and asks for your hand, he said, say no “unless he proves to you he loves the Lord first.”Elder Renlund referenced the experience, almost nine months ago, when he and his fellow Apostles placed their hands upon the head of Russell M. Nelson and set him apart as the President of the Church.The Savior is anxious for Dominicans and others in the Caribbean to become His covenant people, he added. The missionaries here play essential roles in gathering Israel in this corner of the world.“I knew President Nelson was God’s prophet on earth. I know it with all my heart and mind. … Every time I look at President Nelson my heart leaps for joy.”The two-hour meeting provided the young elders and sisters with a veritable mission’s-worth of wise counsel. Each likely returned to their apartments with their notebooks stuffed with advice and encouragement. In all, four General Authorities and five former or current mission presidents addressed the missionaries, along with several of their wives.When missionaries trust God and feel His love, “we learn our missions are not about us. They are about the Savior and Heavenly Father’s children.”The Dominican people, he told the missionaries, are naturally drawn to matters of the Spirit. “There is something very special here. … The people love the Lord Jesus Christ, yet they don’t [truly understand Him]. That’s why you’re here—to make that connection, so the Lord they love can become real to them.”President Nelson asked the missionaries to look ahead to a future time when they will be choosing a husband or wife.Fortunately, there are proven methods to remedy muted receptors and feel God’s love, said Elder Renlund: “Pray for the Spirit, purify your heart, keep the commandments, diligently treasure up God’s work, and teach so that others understand your message and are edified.”“I was reminded today that I needed to lose myself and put my full effort and full heart into the work. I need to give my all and not worry about myself.” President Russell M. Nelson, right, and Elder Dale G. Renlund shake hands with missionaries at a September 1, 2018, missionary meeting in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. Photo by Rex Warner.The missions across the Dominican Republic and the Caribbean Area include elders and sisters from many lands and cultures. Each missionary has a duty to serve and better his companion. President Russell M. Nelson, along with Elder Dale G. Renlund and Sister Ruth Renlund, arrives for a September 1, 2018, missionary meeting in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. Photo by Rex Warner.President Nelson said he was awakened at 2 a.m. just days ago with an unmistakable impression: go to the Dominican Republic.The Lord loves to mend all those in need of healing. “He is the only one that can make anyone whole and complete.”Teaching the gospel allows missionaries to improve their own spiritual receptors. “When we have fixed our receptors, we have a desire to do God’s will,” he said.SANTO DOMINGO, DOMINICAN REPUBLIC“Help one another—teach, teach, teach,” he said.President Russell M. Nelson is just days away from his 94th birthday. But his colt-like enthusiasm for inviting others to Christ doubles as his spiritual alarm clock. President Russell M. Nelson greets missionaries at a September 1, 2018, missionary meeting in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. Photo by Rex Warner.With the gentleness of a loving grandfather, President Nelson acknowledged that many of the missionaries were likely battling a bout of homesickness. They miss and sometimes worry about their families living far away.He concluded his remarks by invoking an apostolic blessing on the “beloved missionaries” that they would be cared for as they “feast on the words” of the Lord and apply His teachings in their own lives.Former mission presidents Don H. Staheli and Mark B. Woodruff also shared personal insights and testimonies.Inviting others to Christ and gathering scattered Israel, he said, “is your great opportunity, and it won’t stop when you get off your missions. It won’t stop when you get to be 93 years old. This is going to keep going until the Great Jehovah says, ‘The work is done.’”“I can hardly wait to jump out of bed every morning to see what will happen in this gathering process,” he told a crowded audience of missionaries on September 1 during his recent Caribbean visit. (See related story.)Following the meeting, Elder Logan Hess from Cheyenne, Wyoming, marveled at his good fortune. He’s just days into his missionary service and found himself in the company of the Church’s 17th President and several other leaders.Sharing the gospel and inviting people to come to Christ remains one of the central purposes of the Church. Thousands of years ago, the Lord scattered His people because of their disobedience. But the prophets, both ancient and modern, have revealed God’s covenant to gather Abraham’s lineage in the latter days.“The best thing you can do for your families is to serve your mission well,” he said. “As you do that, the Lord will care for your families. He will do a better job than you would.”President Nelson encouraged the English-speaking missionaries to teach their Spanish-speaking companions their native language. He issued the Spanish-speaking missionaries a similar charge to teach their companions who speak English as their first language.Now, in the year 2018, “you and I get to participate in [this gathering]. We’re not spectators. … It’s so exciting.”But many do not know that they are in need of the relief offered only by Christ’s gospel. “They need to know the joy of the gospel. They need to experience the joy of redemption.”The missionaries serving in the Dominican Republic and in other Caribbean lands live in an era “of unprecedented revelation,” he said. And every missionary has the right to claim revelation for himself or herself.“It was awesome to be able to listen to the prophet in the first week of my mission,” said Elder Hess, who will serve in the Dominican Republic Santo Domingo East Mission after completing training at the local MTC.And to the elders: “Make sure the girl you want to be sealed to loves the Lord first.”Instead, the problem is with one’s individual spiritual “receptors.”God’s love for His children is perfect and ever-present. “If you don’t feel it, or if the people you teach don’t feel it, it doesn’t mean there is a problem with God’s love. His love is perfect.”They also need to know they are sons and daughters of God.
Thursdays—Research Classes at 1:00 p.m. MDTIf you are unable to attend a class in person or online, most sessions are recorded and can be viewed later online at your convenience at Family History Library classes and webinars. Online classes are noted on the schedule as webinars. Webinar attendees need to click the link next to the class title at the scheduled date and time to attend the class online. Those attending in person simply go to the room noted. Invite your family and friends.The FamilySearch Family History Library in Salt Lake City, Utah, has announced its free family history classes and webinars for September 2018. Research classes will focus on Denmark, Germany, England, France, Portugal, and the United States. Many classes are offered in Spanish this month in celebration of National Hispanic Heritage Month, which begins on September 15. Participants can attend in person or online. See the calendar below for the complete list of classes. No registration is required.
TITLE (SKILL LEVEL)
WEBINAR | ROOM
Thursday, September 6, 1:00 p.m.
German Civil Registration (Beginner)
Tuesday, September 11, 10:00 a.m.
Submitting Names for Temple Ordinances (Beginner)
Thursday, September 13, 10:00 a.m.
Portuguese Language Indexing (1.5 hours) (Beginner)
Thursday, September 13, 1:00 p.m.
United States Research: Mid Atlantic (Beginner)
Tuesday, September 18, 10:00 a.m.
Metodología de la investigación genealógica (Beginner)
Tuesday, September 18, 11:30 a.m.
Encontrando personas en Geneanet (Beginner)
Tuesday, September 18, 1:30 p.m.
Introducción a la genealogía genética (Beginner)
Tuesday, September 18, 3:00 p.m.
Mantenga su propio árbol en un programa como Ancestral Quest (Beginner)
Wednesday, September 19, 10:00 a.m.
Wednesday, September 19, 11:30 a.m.
Genealogía y las redes sociales (Beginner)
Wednesday, September 19, 1:30 p.m.
Establecimiento y jurisdicciones en la Nueva España (Intermediate)
Wednesday, September 19, 3:00 p.m.
Registros notariales (Intermediate)
Thursday, September 20, 10:00 a.m.
El ADN y la genealogía (Beginner)
Thursday, September 20, 11:30 a.m.
¡Mama Mía! Búsuedas básicas en Italia (Beginner)
Thursday, September 20, 1:00 p.m.
England and Wales Civil Registration (Beginner)
Thursday, September20, 1:30 p.m.
Los archivos españoles, un viaje a través del tiempo (Beginner)
Thursday, September 20, 3:00 p.m.
Corrientes migratorias hacia Chile (Beginner)
Friday, September 21, 10:00 a.m.
Finding Echeverria In Spain and France (Beginner)
Friday, September 21, 11:30 a.m.
Finding Your Hispanic Ancestors on FamilySearch (Intermediate)
Friday, September 21, 1:30 p.m.
Migration Patterns in New Spain (Intermediate)
Friday, September 21, 3:00 p.m.
Online Resources for Northern Nueva España (Beginner)
Tuesday, September 25, 10:00 a.m.
Starting Family Tree: Correcting Relationships (Beginner)
Thursday, September 27, 1:00 p.m.
Danish Emigration (Beginner)línea (attend online).Wednesdays—Indexing Classes at 10:00 a.m. MDT
Sister Lisa L. Harkness of the Primary General Presidency, right, greets a patient during a visit to the Children’s Hospital of Infectious Diseases and Rehabilitation, in Guatemala, Wednesday, August 29, 2018. Sister Reyna I. Aburto, second from the left, and Sister Lisa L. Harkness, second from the right, talk with medical personnel at the Children’s Hospital of Infectious Diseases and Rehabilitation, where they presented a donation of medical equipment on behalf of the Church, Wednesday, August 29, 2018. Sister Reyna I. Aburto, Second Counselor in the Relief Society General Presidency, gives a hug to a Church member who is living in temporary housing following a volcano eruption in Guatemala, Wednesday, August 29, 2018.On August 29, the two women greeted victims of the volcano as they walked around a community of temporary housing in Finca la Industria, Escuintla.The duo—who were traveling in Central America from August 24 through September 4—have been interacting with members, Church leaders, and local organizations to offer comfort and provide aid on behalf of the Church, according to a Newsroom release.During a visit to Guatemala on August 29, Sister Reyna I. Aburto, Second Counselor in the Relief Society General Presidency, and Sister Lisa L. Harkness, First Counselor in the Primary General Presidency, met with survivors of the devastating Fuego Volcano eruption that occurred on June 3. Dr. Natalia Barrientos of the Children’s Hospital of Infectious Diseases and Rehabilitation in Guatemala shows Sister Lisa L. Harkness medical equipment donated by the Church, Wednesday, August 29, 2018.
Sister Reyna I. Aburto, Second Counselor in the Relief Society General Presidency, comforts a volcano survivor in Escuintla, Guatemala, Wednesday, August 29, 2018.Also on their itinerary was a visit to the Children’s Hospital of Infectious Diseases and Rehabilitation, where Sisters Aburto and Harkness met with local doctors and patients and presented a donation of medical equipment on behalf of the Church. Temporary homes for volcano survivors have been built in Finca la Industria, Escuintla, with funds from the Church’s Humanitarian Aid Fund.
Sister Lisa L. Harkness, First Counselor in the Primary General Presidency, hugs a girl who is living in temporary housing in Escuintla, Guatemala, Wednesday, August 29, 2018.Sister Reyna I. Aburto of the Relief Society General Presidency, right, and Sister Lisa L. Harkness of the Primary General Presidency talk to a member of the Church displaced by a volcano eruption in Escuintla, Guatemala, Wednesday, August 29, 2018.Other displaced members have been living in a local church building that serves as temporary housing as well as a rehabilitation clinic for survivors.The pair will also go to El Salvador, Honduras, Costa Rica, and Panama during their visit to the Central America area, where they will train Church leaders and participate in devotionals with members. Sister Reyna I. Aburto of the Relief Society General Presidency, right, and Sister Lisa L. Harkness of the Primary General Presidency talk to a member of the Church displaced by a volcano eruption in Escuintla, Guatemala, Wednesday, August 29, 2018. Temporary housing for volcano victims in Guatemala.The community of wooden structures was built with funds from the Church’s Humanitarian Aid Fund and serves as a refuge for those who were impacted from the natural disaster. Sister Reyna I. Aburto, Second Counselor in the Relief Society General Presidency, and Sister Lisa L. Harkness, First Counselor in the Primary General Presidency, were in Escuintla, Guatemala, Wednesday, August 29, 2018, to visit with volcano survivors. Sister Aburto listens to Ignacio López, a member of the Church who was displaced.
Through the process of change, we can keep progressing and keep trying. Our Father in Heaven can help us and our loved ones overcome addiction and other harmful behaviors.
Watching for signs like acting isolated, angry, withdrawn, depressed, or secretive can help you take steps to talk with your loved one about their behavior, understand what they might be experiencing, and get the loved one help.Adolescent addictionYou can view the playlist “Addiction: Understanding Destructive Behaviors” to see all the videos. Below are highlights from several of the videos.Signs of addictive behaviorMany who are working to experience recovery from an addiction or compulsive behavior relapse or slip up. This can lead to anger, shame, guilt, and depression. However, when this happens, we can start again and keep working toward recovery. There is no single method, formula, or program that leads to recovery and healing for every person. Each person’s reasons for their behavior are different, and each person’s recovery will take shape individually.Through the Church’s Addiction Recovery Program, we can find support as we work to overcome harmful behaviors and come closer to Christ.The video “How To—Recognize Teen Substance Abuse: 12 Steps to Change” lists some signs of a substance abuse or addictive behavior:Addictive behaviors can result from personal decisions, biological makeup, the family we grow up in, and even peer pressure and the kinds of people we associate with. Different people even have different ideas and experiences with what addiction is and how it feels.The following are helpful ideas to begin the process of recovery:“Our faith in the Lord Jesus Christ is the source of spiritual power that will give you and me the assurance that we have nothing to fear from the journey,” said President M. Russell Ballard (“You Have Nothing to Fear from the Journey,” Apr. 1997 general conference).Many people around the world struggle to resist temptations of many kinds. Some can even rise to the level of addiction. Whether it’s a friend or loved one who has struggled deeply, or even ourselves, addictions and compulsive behaviors can make us feel powerless.Why is it hard to recover?To watch the video series and other helpful playlists and videos, visit howto.lds.org.The video “How To—Understand and Overcome Addiction” shows that overcoming an addiction is not just a matter of stopping the behavior.It’s important to know that use of a substance or a potentially addictive behavior does not make an addiction. These substances and behaviors can develop into addictions, but it’s best to catch problematic behavior early on.
In 1993, as a young married student studying in Nauvoo, Illinois, Steven C. Harper woke up in a hospital bed with no recollection of who he was, where he was, or how he got there.
Cover of the first volume of Saints.
The first volume in the new history of the Church series, titled The Standard of Truth, is now available in 14 languages digitally and in print in English. Print editions in other languages will follow before the end of the year.Harper, who is one of the writers of the Church’s new history, Saints, likened his experience to Church members knowing their past and shared six reasons why “Saints need Saints.”1. “We aren’t Latter-day Saints if we don’t remember what makes us Latter-day Saints.”He had an infection in the tissue around his brain, and no one knew whether he would ever know who he was again.“From the very beginning there was an inspired vision for this project,” said Harper. “It would be inclusive, it would be creative, and be transparent and powerful, be sacred and truthful and edifying and fortifying, and good in every sense.”“Characters beginning with Joseph Smith and his family are flawed because the natural man is an enemy of God,” Harper said. “This story is not about perfect people; it is about fallen people who are trying to become saints through the Savior’s Atonement by making and keeping covenants.”“The story depends on the choices the characters make; their choices create the drama and suspense that is inherent in history and in great storytelling,” Harper said. “The story is global and universal. It concerns all people everywhere, throughout time and space.”By looking at the imperfect experiences of the characters in Saints, readers are able to see how their forebearers—despite opposition or even a poor decision—were still loved by the Lord and able to draw upon the Atonement of Jesus Christ to change.6. Saints helps readers safely through the gap between naïve faith and informed mature faith.This new history is meant for Church members today, to help them with present-day problems.“That happened to me,” Harper recalled during a BYU Education Week presentation. “In 1993 I was on a semester travel study with my wife, Jennifer, in Nauvoo, and I woke up in the university hospital at the University of Iowa. I did not know who I was, who she was, or that we were expecting a baby.”“We begin with the kind of naïve faith—the childlike faith—in an ideal world where prophets and pioneers and parents are perfect,” said Harper.The four-volume history tells the history of the Church through the stories of its members. Rather than a comprehensive history of the institutional Church, the narrative walks readers through the lives of Saints.“One way to think of Saints is as a collective memory of all Latter-day Saints, the knowledge that we share or will share in common that makes us one and gives us our existence as a group,” he said.4. To correct two false ideas: that God worked only through ultra righteous people in the past, and if Joseph Smith, Brigham Young, and others were flawed God couldn’t have worked through them.3. “Our story teaches us who we are and whose we are. It shows us how we fit in God’s plan for our salvation and happiness.”Although the history isn’t able to include every single member of the Church in the narrative, it is a sample of compelling, sacred stories that are analogous to one’s own sacred quest to become a saint.With an understanding that the people and the Church are “not perfect—far from it,” Saints helps readers understand that the Church is a great laboratory for perfecting Saints.Doctors peppered him with questions, asking what his name was and if he could identify where he was from.But that naïve faith will not withstand the rigors and forces of the real world if members do not mature in their faith.Past Church histories are really good for what they are and when they were composed, Harper said.There is a link between knowing “who we are” and “whose we are,” he said. People without memory are unaware of who they are and where they came from. Without that understanding, knowledge of the greater plan of salvation is incomplete.“Some people choose to fill the gap between naïve faith and mature faith with cynicism,” Harper said. “In the gap, we discovered that some of our naïve assumptions are not true. We run up against facts of history that cause us to rethink assumptions of our naïve faith. In the gap we have choices to make: Do I still believe what it is that I believe?”“Thankfully, I was healed in my memory,” Harper said.5. Saints teaches a reader to interpret the facts of history with faith, hope, and charity.2. “Past histories aren’t helping us remember our story.”He called it a “happy marriage between accurate history and narrative storytelling.”“However, as I and many other people have experienced personally, we can mature past cynicism to informed faith,” he said. “We can make it safely through the gap. Saints is very intentionally designed to help people safely bridge the gap that they must pass from naïve faith to informed faith.”Since that time, the Church historian has thought a lot about memory.“A person without memory/history is unaware of who they are, where they came from, and where they’re going,” Harper said. “A person without memory/history does not know how they relate to God.”Some people decide, Harper explained, that because the facts are not what they assumed they should be, they can’t believe anymore.
Sister Mary Ruff from Midvale, Utah, and Sister Erin Bianucci from Layton, Utah, talk with Miraida Ortiz as they use a pump to inflate a ball for Miraida’s son in Puerto Rico on Saturday, February 17, 2018. Photo by Scott G Winterton, Deseret News.Through the process, almost all mission calls will be delivered through a secured website after the prospective missionary is notified by text or email that an assignment has been made. By simply logging into the website, a future elder or sister missionary will be able to open an online call letter to learn his or her mission assignment—along with other key details such as their mission language and where they will report for missionary training.“First, we knelt together in prayer. I remember Elder Eyring using very sincere words, asking the Lord to bless him to know ‘perfectly’ where the missionaries should be assigned. The word ‘perfectly’ said much about the faith that Elder Eyring exhibited that day.“I think it’s going to be a wonderful change for us,” Elder Nielson said.When a young man turns 18—or when a young women turns 19—he or she can begin the process that typically ends in an assignment to labor as a full-time missionary. Sister KayLee Todd of Colorado Springs, Colorado, and Sister Xana Rogers of Bountiful, Utah, high-five during a lesson at the missionary training center in São Paulo, Brazil, on Thursday, May 24, 2018. Photo by Spenser Heaps, Deseret News.Traditionally, that eagerly anticipated assignment to full-time missionary service has arrived in the mail enclosed in a familiar white envelope.“With the encouragement and permission of President Henry B. Eyring, I would like to relate to you an experience, very special to me, which I had with him several years ago when he was a member of the Quorum of the Twelve. Each Apostle holds the keys of the kingdom and exercises them at the direction and assignment of the President of the Church. Elder Eyring was assigning missionaries to their fields of labor, and as part of my training, I was invited to observe. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is rolling out an initiative in which missionary candidates receive their assignments online instead of in the mail. In Fruit Heights, Utah, 17-year-old Billy Elliott recently received his call to the Peru Chiclayo Mission.Before viewing the letter, missionaries will be notified that they are about to open their call letter and learn their assignment. This will give them the opportunity before opening the letter to gather together family and friends to participate in the experience.“I joined Elder Eyring early one morning in a room where several large computer screens had been prepared for the session. There was also a staff member from the Missionary Department who had been assigned to assist us that day. Bill and Liz Elliott stand with their son, Billy Elliott, on the day the 17-year-old received a call to serve a mission to Peru. The call to serve as a missionary came electronically rather than by mail.The method of delivering mission calls may have been streamlined, but Church leaders emphasize that determining each individual mission assignment remains a sacred, deliberate process made only by members of the Church’s First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles.Making missionary assignments remains one of the most essential duties for latter-day Apostles. Assignments are made every week, year-round, even during the holiday season and in the busy days leading up to general conference.Opening a mission call—it’s a life-changing, deeply personal event for tens of thousands of young Latter-day Saint women and men (and senior couples and senior sisters) each year.In his April 2010 general conference talk, Elder Ronald A. Rasband of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, then a member of the Presidency of the Seventy, spoke of witnessing the assigning of missionaries:The switch from “snail mail” to email was made to reduce wait time for future missionaries. That means no more anxiously watching for the mail truck to arrive and wondering if “today’s the day.”And, of course, the digital mission call letter can be printed out for framing and scrapbooks.First, the prospective missionary meets with his or her bishop or branch president, who authorizes him or her to begin filling out the online recommendation form found under “Share the Gospel” at LDS.org. That form gathers detailed information about a future missionary’s background—along with results from standardized medical and dental examinations. While the moment of knowing where a young missionary is going to spend 18 months to two years of their life is highly anticipated, 17-year-old Billy Elliott reflects on going to Peru, learning Spanish, and being away from family and friends.The steps to receive a mission call also remain unchanged—allowing prospective missionaries to prayerfully prepare themselves and work closely with their local ecclesiastical leaders.“He told me that in his own mind he liked to think of where the missionaries would conclude their mission. This would aid him to know where they were to be assigned. Elder Eyring would then study the comments from the bishops and stake presidents, medical notes, and other issues relating to each missionary.“As the process began, a picture of the missionary to be assigned would come up on one of the computer screens. As each picture appeared, to me it was as if the missionary were in the room with us. Elder Eyring would then greet the missionary with his kind and endearing voice: ‘Good morning, Elder Reier or Sister Yang. How are you today?’Elder Rasband added that Elder Eyring ended the meeting by saying Christ’s love allows the Apostles to know where to assign each missionary for full-time service.Additionally, missionary candidates living in countries far from Church headquarters in Salt Lake City have had to wait over a month for the call to arrive through the mail. Now, a young man living in, say, Tokyo, will receive his mission call as quickly as a young woman living in Draper, Utah.“I recently assigned missionaries, a sacred responsibility for which we always come fasting,” he wrote. “I assigned 240, my share of the 1,047 (which includes young missionaries, senior couples, and senior sisters) whose papers were ready for assignment last week.The mission call processThe recommendation form is then electronically submitted for initial review and assessment.On September 5, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints announced that it is rolling out a new initiative in which missionary candidates receive their assignments online instead of in the mail. This process has been tested in various parts of the world for the past several months and will now be expanded to all of Utah and Idaho.In recent years, the opening of a mission call has frequently become a popular social event. Family and friends squeeze into living rooms with smartphone cameras at the ready as a future missionary opens his or her assignment. Such gatherings can still occur—except web browsers will now be opened instead of envelopes.“He then referred to another screen which displayed areas and missions across the world. Finally, as he was prompted by the Spirit, he would assign the missionary to his or her field of labor.In 2015, Elder Dallin H. Oaks, then of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, utilized Facebook to share a unique glimpse into the apostolic duty of determining where in the world a missionary will serve.The new online call letter process will also allow missionaries to speed up possible visa applications and to often report earlier to their assigned missionary training center.No longer.“We are assisted in this sacred experience by a member of the missionary department staff, who keeps records and manages the computer screens on which we view the essential information on elders and sisters and the needs (including languages) of our more than 400 missions in the world.” In a May 27, 2015, Facebook post, then-Elder Dallin H. Oaks works with Dwayne Saviano at a missionary assignment meeting.Then the local Church leaders review the recommendation form and conduct personal worthiness interviews. The local leaders submit confidential observations and impressions about the prospective missionary.Then it’s time for an Apostle to make the missionary assignment.“From others of the Twelve, I have learned that this general method is typical each week as Apostles of the Lord assign scores of missionaries to serve throughout the world” (“The Divine Call of a Missionary”).By the end of 2018, it is anticipated that nearly all missionaries around the world with reliable internet access will receive their calls online to serve in one of the Church’s 407 missions in more than 150 countries. Elder Fernando Armindo Zuca, left, and Elder Jorge Gabriel, right, work with other missionaries on a lesson at the missionary training center in São Paulo, Brazil on Thursday, May 24, 2018. Photo by Spenser Heaps, Deseret News.“Technology is there, and it’s so easy to do,” said Elder Brent H. Nielson, Executive Director of the Missionary Department. “We just put it online and they can read it in a matter of minutes.”
As Elder Renlund explained during the press conference, the new series makes Church history accessible, accurate, and compelling for readers. “The history of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is precious to both members of the Church and the Lord,” he said.Scott Hales, one of six creative writers who worked with historians to compile and write Saints, said one of the greatest challenges about writing compelling histories is that “history doesn’t unfold in a nice, set story.” History is chaotic and messy, Hales explained, and for that reason, Saints is more of a representative history than a comprehensive one, since it would be impossible to include everything in Church history.Since the 1930s when the last history was released, the Church has grown from fewer than 1 million members to more than 16 million members spread throughout 140 nations across the globe.So much of Church history is told just through the Joseph Smith era, Grow said, but here the Joseph Smith era is just one volume, and there are three others. “We’ve got three more to tell them how the Church becomes a global organization,” Grow said. “It’s a fantastic story, and it’s a story that we as Saints don’t know very well.”The new series is like a tapestry detailing the restoration of the Church, Elder Renlund explained, and “when looked at in a context that’s real and true, and when we understand that these were people doing something that was incredible, it will be faith-promoting.”
Elder Steven E. Snow, General Authority Seventy and Church Historian, speaks to media during a press conference announcing the book Saints: The Story of the Church of Jesus Christ in the Latter Days, in Salt Lake City on Tuesday, September 4, 2018. Photo by Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News.“Saints draws on the power of narrative, but it is not fiction,” Elder Snow said. “It is a true story based on the records left behind by the early Saints and by others. Every detail and every line of dialogue is supported by historical references.”But as Elder Renlund added, it’s not just about learning new facts about the Church and its history, it’s also about the spiritual experience that comes from gaining further knowledge.He continued, “Saints: The Standard of Truth has transported and inspired me as I read accounts of individuals who do and don't figure prominently in Church history.” Various language editions for the history, Saints: The Story of the Church of Jesus Christ in the Latter Days in Salt Lake City on Tuesday, September 4, 2018. Photo by Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News.“While the history includes exciting rushes of revelation that affect the whole Church, some of the most interesting aspects are the individual stories of faithful members—people who have, in their own quiet way, gone about living relatively ordinary lives, yet developed Christlike attributes in facing adversity and selflessly serving others around them,” Elder Renlund said.And for Elder Snow, accounts of individuals attached to historical fact are what really make the new series powerful.Available online at saints.lds.org and in the Gospel Library App, the first volume of the four-volume history commissioned by the First Presidency is called “The Standard of Truth.” It is available in print in English (other languages will be made available in print throughout the year), online in 14 different languages, and by audiobook in three languages. (See related story.)As Elder Steven E. Snow, a General Authority Seventy and Church Historian and Recorder, detailed during the press conference, the Saints series marks the third time in modern Church history that an official history of the Church has been published. The first was done by Joseph Smith during the foundational period of the Church, while the second came at the Church’s centennial in 1930 and is known as the “comprehensive history of the Church.”By following records and accounts of missionaries from Canada, England, Jerusalem, and the Pacific, Saints allows readers to get a sense of the Church's worldwide history from its foundations up to the present, explained Matthew J. Grow, director of publications for the Church History department.Considering the vast growth of the Church in the last 90 years, “it's time for a new history for the global Church,” Elder Snow said during the press conference.
Elder Quentin L. Cook of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles speaks during a press conference announcing the book Saints: The Story of the Church of Jesus Christ in the Latter Days in Salt Lake City on Tuesday, September 4, 2018. Photo by Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News.Elder Quentin L. Cook of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles looks over Saints: The Story of the Church of Jesus Christ in the Latter Days in Salt Lake City on Tuesday, September 4, 2018. Photo by Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News.In addition to the release of the first volume in the series, Grow announced at the press conference that the Church has also made 116 Church history topics available for use and referral in connection with Saints. All 116 of the topics are referred to in the footnotes of the series, he said, and the topics are also available in the same 14 languages online.
Writer Lisa Olsen Tait speaks during a press conference announcing the book Saints: The Story of the Church of Jesus Christ in the Latter Days in Salt Lake City on Tuesday, September 4, 2018. Photo by Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News.“We hope that readers get the sense of the global nature of the story from the first page,” he said.“There’s lots of really neat and diverse stories that we're telling that have not been told in Church history before,” Hales said. “And I think that's one of the coolest things about Saints.” Elder Dale G. Renlund of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles speaks during a press conference announcing Saints: The Story of the Church of Jesus Christ in the Latter Days in Salt Lake City on Tuesday, September 4, 2018.
“If you’re a teacher, if you’re a Primary teacher, or if you’re a Sunday School teacher, your study of the scriptures that you’ll be teaching for the week starts here, it starts at home, and it starts in this home manual,” said Barber.“We’ve got young single adults and individuals who are married and a part-member family and new converts and unsupported youth in the home in a lot of areas,” said Chad Strang, who is a senior product manager in the Priesthood and Family Department of the Church.“Youth Sunday School will go back to studying the scriptures—[all classes] are aligned [so] they are all the same scripture block every week,” said Mike Barber, a curriculum developer. All of the classes “will be aligned with this home resource.”The new manual will be available digitally through the Gospel Library app and online at LDS.org sometime after general conference, and units should expect to get their hard copies near the end of the year.Each week includes a few pages of content that contains the scripture passage, an introduction paragraph, ideas, and prompts for scripture study and activities, as well as ideas for family home evening. Additional resources, including images, are also included in the week’s study.“As a convert myself, sometimes it is a little intimidating to be in front of a teacher who has all of the answers in front of them,” said Strang. “And then they are asking questions … to get me to guess what is in their mind.” Rather than focusing on just the teaching in the weekly Church-meeting block, much of the learning is to be done at home so that church learning becomes a support—rather than the primary source—to teaching and learning in the gospel.All Church classes—Primary, youth Sunday School, and adult Sunday School—will study the same passages of scripture each week. Although the new resource provides activities to do as a family, the home study is applicable for individuals who live alone or whose family members are not interested in studying with them.“Programs of the Church are home centered and Church sponsored,” said Mike Magelby, director of curriculum for the Church, during the Education Week presentation. “Your study starts at home. You will get the doctrine and learn things from the home manual.”After testing the curriculum in seven countries and 35 stakes over four years, the curriculum team said that the results were powerful.“The fact that the Lord is doing this now is an indication that He is not giving up on families and that [there are] benefits that come from teaching in the home,” said Barnes. “I would just invite all of us to stick with it,” he added. “If you teach Primary and you know there are kids in your class who don’t have support at home, don’t give up on them or their families, because I don’t think God gives up on people. … Let’s do what we can to support the family and make it what Heavenly Father believed it to be.”So how will the new curriculum look?Curriculum writers realized there are a lot more hours in the week than the one or two hours members spend in class at church. Because of that, they felt the need for more home learning.Recognizing that Sunday School—as well as the other classes at church—is still an important opportunity for Church members to gather and worship together, curriculum writers decided they needed to elevate Sunday worship.The team encouraged the education week class to let the prompts spark ideas and inspiration for their own families rather than just looking at the activities and doing exactly what is described.Rather than just focusing on lessons to be taught in church, the new curriculum shifts the emphasis to studying as individuals and families at home.The feedback they have received shows that in all of those cases, members of all backgrounds felt they were strengthened at home through study and were then able to contribute in the classroom experience.One of the main ideas for the new curriculum came from section 1.4 of Handbook 2: Administering the Church, which reads: “God has revealed a pattern of spiritual progress for individuals and families through ordinances, teaching, programs, and activities that are home centered and Church supported.”Relief Society, priesthood, Young Men, and Young Women will continue to follow the doctrinal approach pattern that has been established. Rather than focusing on just the teaching in the weekly Church-meeting block, much of the learning is to be done at home so that church learning becomes a support—rather than the primary source—to teaching and learning in the gospel.Although many of the same principles used in the current Come, Follow Me youth curriculum will be applied in the new home, Sunday School, and Primary courses, a major component to the curriculum has changed.“The beauty of what happened in those tests is that people … we interviewed … didn’t talk so much about the manual; they talked about the scriptures,” said Bryce A. Anderson, a product manager in the Church’s Priesthood and Family Department. “They would say, ‘Before I would tell my kids scripture stories, and now we are talking doctrine and principles. It has sort of elevated how we read and study the scriptures.’”In 2019, the Church will study from the New Testament. Rather than giving each adult member a class study guide at the beginning of the year, every household will be provided with a home study guide that goes over the scriptures for the week that will be discussed during Sunday classes.Although the new resource provides activities to do as a family, the home study is applicable for individuals who live alone or whose family members are not interested in studying with them.Church members now have the answer to Elder Hales’s question.“It doesn’t have to always be this big involved thing,” said Ted F. Barnes, one of the curriculum developers. “Sometimes it can be this nice little question to get us thinking about what we are reading about. … We don’t want learning the gospel at home to be church at home. … If you do, you are missing all of the advantages of being at home. Try to take advantage of the unique home environment.”“We tried to make this not sound like a manual, so I think you’ll start to see that the writing is a little different than what you’ll find in a Church manual as a teacher,” said Barber.The new curriculum is meant to be a guide to help strengthen individuals and families in their faith. The new approach helps everyone to study from the same materials but in many different ways, bringing different insights to the classroom.“We’re hoping that you’ll get the doctrine and learn things from … the home manual,” said Barber. “[We hope] you’ll get it into your heart and then go to the teacher manual.”Early in July, the Church announced that a series of resources—Come, Follow Me for home, Sunday School, and Primary—will be available for classes beginning in January 2019.“[Research has] found that scripture study in the home—personal religious devotion—had a greater impact on conversion than anything else. … Interestingly, the research bore out that family religious devotion was the greatest cause of personal religious devotion. We felt that was a really important idea,” Hansbrow said.“We have been working to try to figure out what we ought to do for the adults of the Church,” said Brian J. Hansbrow, a curriculum developer for the Church.Not even a week after the Come, Follow Me curriculum first launched in 2013 for the youth of the Church, the late Elder Robert D. Hales of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles asked the question, “When are we going to do this for the adults of the Church?”A sneak peek into what Church curriculum will look like in the future was the topic of a course at BYU’s Education Week, held August 21–24. A group of Church employees who have worked on developing the new curriculum offered the presentation.Teachers will still have manuals, but they are meant to be an additional reference to the home study.The new approach helps everyone to study from the same materials but in many different ways, bringing different insights to the classroom.Rather than focusing on just the teaching in the weekly Church-meeting block, much of the learning is to be done at home so that church learning becomes a support—rather than the primary source—to teaching and learning in the gospel.“Conversion is the end goal, and we know that the Spirit leads to conversion,” said Hansbrow. “The previous curriculum model … worked under the assumption that better church experiences lead to more of the Spirit, which leads to deeper conversion. In order to have better church experiences we had to have better teachers.”Unlike the small study guides of the past with only a list of scriptures to draw from, the new guide includes activities, questions, and “helps” for individuals and families to deepen their gospel study.How will the new curriculum look?Curriculum developer Paul Murphy added: “Children ages 3 to 11 will be in Come, Follow Me. Everybody is going to be in the scriptures during Primary and Sunday School.”Visit comefollowme.lds.org for more information.“And so we came up with our new curriculum model, which still has conversion as the goal, … and the Spirit is what deepens conversion,” Hansbrow said. “We’ve added personal religious behavior as the next ingredient in that equation.”
“It’s been nearly a year since Hurricane Maria came,” said President Nelson. “You have not given up. We are proud of you. You faithful Saints have lost much, but through it all, you have fostered your faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. You have learned that He is aware of you and that He loves you. And He will continue to help you as you keep His commandments.”During his remarks, the Church President noted his deep admiration for the Puerto Rican Latter-day Saints who served and remained faithful during the awful weeks and months following the hurricane. President Russell M. Nelson traveled to the Dominican Republic to extend a message of love and encouragement to Latter-day Saints Saturday, September 1, 2018.In their brief devotional remarks, Elder and Sister Gonzalez and Sister Renlund encouraged the Puerto Rican members and their friends to watch closely the example of President Nelson and the other prophets and apostles. There is safety in following their lead while seeking personal revelation. President Russell M. Nelson of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints spent the weekend, September 1–2, 2018, consoling and encouraging Church members in Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic.So with Maria raging outside, Esteban and Anali gathered their family about and opened the Book of Mormon.On Sunday, September 2—almost a year after Hurricane Maria’s arrival—Esteban and Anali traveled under sunny skies to San Juan to hear the counsel from another of the Lord’s prophets, President Russell M. Nelson. From their shared vantage point in the member choir, the couple watched as the Church’s 17th President entered the Coliseo de Puerto Rico arena and began teaching divine lessons of peace during a Sabbath-day member devotional.That “gathering” is spiritual, he added. People of the world are being gathered “into the fold of Jesus Christ” in each of their respective lands. And in their native lands, they take upon Christ’s name, are baptized, and faithfully keep God’s commandments. But even with those blessings, God’s children can expect difficulties. “That is part of life. It’s why we’re here. We are here to have a body and to be tried and tested. Some of those tests are physical, some are spiritual, and your trials here have been both physical and spiritual.”Tomorrow’s great optimism“That is the course to follow,” said Elder Renlund.They vividly remember the violence of the deadly storm as it tossed and churned outside their home in southern Puerto Rico on September 20. “It was starting to get really scary,” said Esteban.Listening to their 93-year-old prophet testify in Spanish triggered smiles and tears for many in the audience. Many others scribbled vigorous notes in their journals and notebooks as they listened to the messages of President Nelson, Elder Dale G. Renlund of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, Caribbean Area President Walter F. Gonzalez (a General Authority Seventy), Sister Ruth Renlund, and Sister Zulma Gonzalez.“As you individually grow to become more of the person God wants you to be, you can know for yourself that better days are ahead for the people of Puerto Rico,” he said. “You can face your tomorrows with great optimism, knowing that the best days of your life are ahead for you and for your loved ones.”For Esteban Ojeda and his wife, Anali, Hurricane Maria will always be regarded as a family paradox.
Elder Dale G. Renlund of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles accompanied President Russell M. Nelson on his visit to the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico, September 1–2, 2018.“Christ being the center of our lives changes everything,” he said. “It gives us power, stability, and direction. And no matter what’s going on in our lives, if we focus on [Christ], we’re safe.” After speaking to Latter-day Saints in the Dominican Republic September 1, 2018, President Russell M. Nelson greeted members of the congregation. Latter-day Saint youth in Puerto Rico wave to President Russell M. Nelson. He spoke to members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in the Coliseo de Puerto Rico José Miguel Agrelot Sunday, September 2, 2018. Members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints line up to attend a special meeting with President Russell M. Nelson, Sunday, September 2, 2018. The meeting was held in the Coliseo de Puerto Rico José Miguel Agrelot.Take care of one another
President Russell M. Nelson spent the weekend, September 1–2, 2018, consoling and encouraging Church members in Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic.“We felt at peace inside our house,” said Esteban. “The words of the prophets and apostles rang true.”Life offers many choices, he added. Seek and follow the direction of the Holy Ghost. Do what God “would have you do.” Latter-day Saints sang sacred hymns of the Church and listened to their prophet, President Russell M. Nelson. He spoke to congregations in Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic September 1–2, 2018. Young women of the Latter-day Saint choir sang for the special meeting with President Russell M. Nelson. He spoke to the congregation gathered in the Coliseo de Puerto Rico José Miguel Agrelot and acknowledged that they had lost much during Hurricane Maria.Even those dealing with harsh personal difficulties can find strength in Christ, declared Elder Renlund. Joy and hope reside in Christ, who gives life direction and purpose. Elder Dale G. Renlund of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles joined President Russell M. Nelson in the Dominican Republic Saturday, September 1, 2018. President Russell M. Nelson, far right, listens intently to a choir perform at the beginning of a September 2, 2018, member devotional in San Juan, Puerto Rico. Photo by Jason Swensen.And to the wives: “Love your husbands. You are partners.”
A young Latter-day Saint girl was thrilled to see the prophet and president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Russell M. Nelson, following his remarks in the Dominican Republic Saturday, September 1, 2018.But even in that moment of primal terror, the family discovered spiritual peace. Just days earlier, a special visitor to the island—President Henry B. Eyring of the First Presidency—promised the Puerto Rican members that if they prayerfully read the Book of Mormon all would be well.Personal revelation is essential in times of difficulty and trial, he added. “I don’t need to tell you that life doesn’t always turn out the way we expected.” Elder Dale G. Renlund of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles encourages members in Puerto Rico on September 2, 2018, to center their lives on Christ. Photo by Jason Swensen. Members from across hurricane-weary Puerto Rico gathered at the Coliseo de Puerto Rico in San Juan to listen to counsel from President Russell M. Nelson and other Church leaders. Photo by Jason Swensen.Members of the Church worldwide have prayed for the Puerto Rican people, he said. Many have volunteered in relief efforts. The leaders of the Church at all levels remain mindful of the Puerto Rican members and are committed to their care.SAN JUAN, PUERTO RICOFind safety and joy by living the commandments, he counseled. Be kind to one another and protect your family. And then the 93-year-old leader graciously dismissed his interpreter and shared his testimony and apostolic blessing in Spanish.
President Russell M. Nelson greets a young mother and her child following a member devotional in San Juan on September 2, 2018. Photo by Jason Swensen.The Church President counseled the Puerto Rican members to keep their families united and strong in faith. Husbands should be kind and considerate of the wives. “The best thing you can do for your children is to love their mother. Your highest priesthood duty is to care for your wife.” People arrive early outside the Coliseo de Puerto Rico on September 2, 2018, for a member devotional featuring President Russell M. Nelson. Photo by Jason Swensen.Better days await, he promised.President Nelson “taught us today that we could find peace during difficult times through Christ,” said Anali after the devotional. “That’s how we overcame this past year, through Christ.”President Nelson testified of Christ’s role as the Atoner. Through His sacrifice, the Savior made immortality a reality for all. Meanwhile, the exalted blessings of eternal life are available to all who seek and follow Him. “By keeping God’s commandments, we can find joy even in the midst of our worst circumstances.”“Most important, the Lord knows you,” he said. “Puerto Rico and other islands of the sea are very important to the Lord. These islands are rich with the blood of Israel. You are a vital part of God’s promises. Those promises are to be fulfilled by people from the islands of the sea. Those prophecies pertain to the gathering of Israel.” President Russell M. Nelson traveled to the Dominican Republic to extend a message of love and encouragement to Latter-day Saints Saturday, September 1, 2018.
A plat for the City of Zion in Missouri is featured in Joseph Smith Papers, Documents, Volume 3. The map is considered a sacred relic of the Restoration.
First edition of the Book of Mormon.A few weeks ago, Casey P. Griffiths was touring Tarawa, an island atoll in the Pacific Ocean where a bloody World War II battle was fought between U.S. Marines and the Japanese forces.Griffiths clarified that he’s not suggesting people become hoarders and keep everything, but certain objects will stand out over time.Drawing upon material from the project, Griffiths discussed and showed a number of photos of historic Latter-day Saint objects, including the following items:“This is really an introduction to a type of history called material history, the most approachable type of history there is,” Griffiths said. “This is a part of history that’s touchable, that’s ‘feelable,’ that all of us have participated in. You may not have written a history book, but if you ever had your grandfather give you his mission journal, if you ever got a card from a relative, if you ever had a lock of hair from your ancestors, you’ve participated in material history. Touching and feeling history is sometimes a way for us to connect to the past in ways that are surprising and unique.”Material history is something everybody can relate to. Any object sanctified by our suffering, experiences, or sorrows can become a sacred object, Griffiths said.
A young man examines Stephen Markham’s cane and John Taylor’s pocket watch, sacred relics of the Restoration, at the Church History Museum. Photo by Trent Toone, Deseret News.In his BYU Education Week presentation, “Sacred Relics of the Restoration,” Casey Griffiths told about seeing this tank on the beach of Tarawa, an island in the Pacific Ocean. The tank was used in a bloody battle between U.S. Marines and the Japanese in World War II. Photo courtesy of Casey Griffiths.“Pay attention to the objects of significance that get passed on to us and recognize that what you hold in your hand right now might seem like a worthless piece of junk, but in 200 years it might be a sacred relic that connects your ancestors to your time and connects people in the future with the struggles we have right now.” Casey P. Griffiths, an associate professor of Church history at Brigham Young University, gives a presentation during BYU Education Week. Photo by Trent Toone, Deseret News.Griffiths, an associate professor of Church history at Brigham Young University, related the experience as part of his presentation, “Sacred Relics of the Restoration,” last Monday at BYU Education Week.While walking along the beach, Griffiths took photos of a tank still sunk into the sand. He also found what appeared to be a misfired 50-caliber shell in the surf. As he held the shell up for his audience to see, Griffiths said, “It was so amazing to walk up and actually see and touch and feel an object that participated in this battle.“For the last year, Griffiths has worked with coauthor Mary Jane Woodger to take high-quality photographs of historic objects or relics from the history of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in hopes of publishing a book with the working title A History of the Church in 100 Objects. The project is in the writing phase, Griffiths said.“With that in mind, I want everybody in here to start thinking about history in the sense that it’s not just words that are written down or stories told from person to person. It’s things,” Griffiths said. “One of the unique things about our religion as Latter-day Saints is that we’re just a baby, speaking in terms of time. You can find things. Some of the most important discoveries in Church history have been found up in someone’s attic that no one knew about.”PROVO, UTAH
Asking Heavenly Father to teach us by the Spirit in each of our classes helps us attend with the expectation that we will learn things that may not even be said.2. Read3. Pray“Additionally, situations at home may arise that will present opportunities to teach family members from the scriptures highlighted in the upcoming lesson. As I prepare for the Sunday School experience, I am in a much better place to take advantage of these teaching moments in the home.”“While pondering James 1:5, Joseph was motivated to go to the grove. Pondering brought forth the marvelous revelation on the three degrees of glory (see Doctrine and Covenants 76:19) and the vision of the redemption of the dead (see Doctrine and Covenants 138:1–4). Pondering has the power to increase the frequency and depth of our personal revelation. As we receive these revelatory insights, it will increase our confidence and heighten our desire to share these thoughts in class.”“As I study, I also like to consider how I might teach the lesson. What doctrine would I emphasize? What questions would I ask? By putting myself in the teacher’s place, I become a more active and engaged learner, which enriches my personal study and enhances my preparation for the upcoming Sunday School class.“For me, one of the best ways to prepare to participate in a Sunday School discussion is to read the assigned scripture block early in the week and then strive to live the gospel of Jesus Christ each day,” said Brother Devin G. Durrant, First Counselor in the Sunday School General Presidency. “By doing so, the Holy Ghost can prompt me with thoughts related to the scriptures I’ve read that I may be inclined to share the following Sunday in class.Brother Tad R. Callister, Sunday School General President, said: “One way is to ponder the assigned scripture block for the coming week. Pondering seems to require a higher level of intellectual and spiritual energy than merely reading and thus more readily invites revelation. Pondering may come in the form of pausing to meditate on a scripture, contemplating what it means and how it might apply in our lives. It may also be exercised by discussing the scriptures with friends or family or by crystallizing one’s thoughts in writing on the subject.1. PonderBrother Brian K. Ashton, Second Counselor in the Sunday School General Presidency, said: “In addition to reading the assigned scripture block prior to Sunday School each week, every Sunday in my morning prayers, I ask Heavenly Father to teach me by the Spirit in each of my classes.
Sunday School General President Tad R. Callister and his counselors, Brother Devin G. Durrant and Brother Brian K. Ashton.“I then attend class with the desire and the expectation that the Holy Ghost will teach me. I also bring with me note cards to write down what I am being taught. Rarely do I find that I am disappointed. In fact, one of the classes in which I was taught extensively by the Spirit, the teacher got up and said that he had just learned that he was to teach and that, as a result, he had not had time to prepare. Nevertheless, I learned a tremendous amount in that class. Because my heart was prepared, the Holy Ghost was able to teach me things that were not said. We can all have that experience.” Taking the time to read the assigned scripture block early in the week allows the Holy Ghost to prompt us with thoughts related to the scriptures we’ve read that we may wish to share the following Sunday in class.The Church News asked the Sunday School General Presidency to respond to the question “What can members do to prepare for Sunday School each week?” Following are their three suggestions: Pondering may come in the form of pausing to meditate on a scripture, contemplating what it means and how it might apply in our lives.
“Every recipient of the campaign, regardless if they have a direct ancestor in Saints, will be able to link to the stories of the settlement, building up, and eventually abandoning of Nauvoo,” Godfrey added. “It’s a story that’s part of our shared past and will be meaningful to anyone who had ancestors who came through Nauvoo or who are members today of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.”“Being part of the FamilySearch campaign allows us to reach out to individuals whose family members are the characters in the story,” said Ben Godfrey, the Church History Department’s project manager for Saints. A screenshot of Key Events in Nauvoo from FamilySearch’s My Nauvoo Ancestor Story website.“We anticipate that descendants of Nauvoo residents will appreciate seeing the original documents that name their family members and connect these pioneers to historical places and events,” Crandell said. “The lives of the early Saints can be seen in the context of their experiences and bring greater understanding to the events of their lives.”Students have been researching Nauvoo residents for several years, striving to improve the accuracy of genealogical information, said Jill N. Crandell, director of the BYU center and assistant professor of history. The project’s website contains links to the original courses documenting the lives of these residents and pioneers and adding details to individual stories. A screenshot of Key Events in Nauvoo from FamilySearch’s My Nauvoo Ancestor Story website.Also, users can see how the timeline of their ancestors in Nauvoo coincides with the listing of key historical events there, ranging from the Latter-day Saints first residing in what was then known as Commerce, Illinois, through the organization of the Relief Society and the death of the Prophet Joseph Smith, and on to the subsequent dedication of the Nauvoo Temple and the departures to trek westward.Facts and information for each ancestor can include full name, photograph, lifespan, relationship to user, age, years residing in Nauvoo, photograph of headstone, and date and place of death. Additional links, when available, provide more information from and links to the five database sources—such as mentions in Saints or citations in the Mormon Overland Trail or Nauvoo Community Project databases.Do you have an ancestor who may have settled the city of Nauvoo, witnessed the organization of the Relief Society, heard the first cries announcing the martyrdom of Joseph and Hyrum Smith, or helped with the dedication of the Nauvoo Temple?Or perhaps you have ancestral connections to Nauvoo during its formative Church history years and not even know it?Each of the five sources—BYU’s Nauvoo Community Project, the new historical compilation Saints: The Story of the Church of Jesus Christ in Latter Days, Church History’s Nauvoo Relief Society minutes and Mormon Pioneer Overland Travel databases, and BillionGraves.com—offer information on early Nauvoo residents. My Nauvoo Ancestor Story then weaves together the information from each to offer a more vibrant account of each individual.“We hope that people will get in and dig deep into this campaign, because they could spend a lot of time with each ancestor,” said FamilySearch’s Roger Dickson, the campaign manager.By going to My Nauvoo Ancestor Story, users of the new online discovery experience can identify up to 20 ancestors who resided in the early Latter-day Saint settlement in western Illinois any time from 1838 to 1848, with information coming from five database sources providing rich insights into their lives there—even, at times, an eyewitness perspective.Both follow the Tuesday, September 4, public release of volume 1 of the four-volume Saints Church history. (See related story.) In fact, since the new tome is created in part from personal histories and mentions names of early Church members from that era, users who have ancestors identified in Saints will be able to click a My Nauvoo Ancestor link to read the excerpt cited.“That’s the magic of it,” said Dickson of My Nauvoo Ancestor Story. “There are so many rich data sources, one could spend hours and really have some cool discoveries.”FamilySearch patrons using the My Nauvoo Ancestor Story discovery experience can see as many as 20 of their ancestors who lived in Nauvoo. The 20 are listed in order of proximity of relationship to the user.Either way, you could be among the 1.1 million Latter-day Saints soon to receive an email announcing a new FamilySearch campaign, My Nauvoo Ancestor Story, with email recipients identified by and linked to their Nauvoo ancestors.The September 9 release date for My Nauvoo Ancestor Story is the same day as the Face to Face worldwide devotional for young adults, with Elder Quentin L. Cook of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles speaking from Nauvoo. (See related story.)Dickson points to the Nauvoo Community Project—from BYU’s Center for Family History and Genealogy—as the key database source for the new campaign.While testing the new FamilySearch feature, Dickson said he found ancestors he hadn’t known of previously. One was a young man who lived in Nauvoo and died in his 20s after emigrating to Utah. Curious about the circumstances, Dickson researched through the database links and cited sources and found that his ancestor had been logging in the Mill Creek area. When a friend was crushed by a fallen log, the ancestor ran five miles for help—and then died of heat exhaustion.Descriptions of those historical events are linked to chapters in Saints, which in turn provides more details.
The Bruns also feel blessed that Ethan’s situation wasn't worse. It was something they could live with. The slender, smiling teen has never complained about his rare disease. He decided early on that he was going to “roll with it.” He wants to use his experience and knowledge to bless others while finding inspiration in a quote from the 2002 film Spider-Man—“With great power comes great responsibility.”
Ethan Bruns, who has a rare disease called Atypical Hemolytic-Uremic Syndrome, and his father, Ryan Bruns, play a game at their house in Plain City, Utah, on Saturday, August 25, 2018. Photo by Adam Fondren, Deseret News.“Many years ago my husband became very ill with a rare disease,” Sister Reeves said. “As the weeks went by and the sicker he became, the more I became convinced that he was dying. I told no one of my fears. We had a large, young family and a loving, eternal marriage, and the thought of losing my husband and raising my children by myself filled me with loneliness, despair, and even anger. I am ashamed to say that I pulled away from my Heavenly Father. For days I quit praying; I quit planning; I cried. I finally came to the realization that I could not do this alone.”Because of individuals and families like the Bruns who live with rare diseases, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is calling attention to this cause and lending its support, said Douglas G. Richens, a senior manager in the Church’s Priesthood and Family Department.“Because of the blessing, I knew everything would be OK, and it has turned out OK,” Ethan said. “Heavenly Father is real; He’s looking out for all of us, and He has a plan.”“You can achieve anything, even if you have a rare disease,” Bruns told his audience in 2017.
Anne Bruns prepares her son Ethan’s drug regimen that helps treat his Atypical Hemolytic-Uremic Syndrome at their house in Plain City, Utah, on Saturday, August 25, 2018. Photo by Adam Fondren, Deseret News.Both organizations are dedicated to finding rare disease treatments, advocacy, and educating the community. They also provide resources that help families navigate the medical system.At age 8, what his parents initially thought was the stomach flu almost shut down his kidneys, turned his skin yellow, and left him unable to move on a hospital bed.The rare disease experience has given Ryan Bruns a new perspective on service.In March 2017, 12-year-old Ethan Bruns stood in front of about 300 people at the Utah Rare Disease Symposium and shared his story.Lisa Schill, the event development consultant for EveryLife and a mother with her own rare-disease child, was recently in Utah as part of the organization’s Rare on the Road tour. The Church’s involvement is “wonderful news” and a “good connection to make,” Schill said.More than 7,000 types of rare and genetic diseases are affecting one in 10 Americans and an estimated 350 million people worldwide, according to research by Global Genes, a nonprofit rare disease advocacy organization. Ethan Bruns, who has a rare disease called Atypical Hemolytic-Uremic Syndrome, and his father, Ryan Bruns, begin grilling kabobs for lunch at their house in Plain City, Utah, on Saturday, August 25, 2018. Photo by Adam Fondren, Deseret News.“That’s what it’s all about—sharing and collaborating and helping each other and coming together a community to help patients and families,” Schill said. “I think it’s wonderful that the [Church] is going to be offering more resources to rare-disease families because every life matters.”
Ethan Bruns, who has a rare disease called Atypical Hemolytic-Uremic Syndrome, gets his hand stuck in a mason jar of homemade slime at his house in Plain City, Utah, on Saturday, August 25, 2018. Photo by Adam Fondren, Deseret News.Learning of the Church’s support for families with a rare disease was welcome news to Ethan and his parents, Ryan and Anne Bruns, Latter-day Saints living in Plain City, Utah.
Ethan Bruns, who has a rare disease called Atypical Hemolytic-Uremic Syndrome, contemplates the game he and his family are playing at their house in Plain City, Utah, on Saturday, August 25, 2018. Photo by Adam Fondren, Deseret News.“It’s huge. The Church has this global humanitarian effect that can reach so many people that are feeling isolated,” Anne Bruns said. “There's only so much you can do in a clinic, and a large percentage of it is emotional. I feel like that emotional support is where the Church can really come in and help those that are struggling. I think it’s really exciting.”“The early stages of discovering a rare disease include shock and confusion,” Sister Jones said. “The rare disease community works together to provide support for each other, but I hope we can all recognize their challenges and wrap our arms around them. I hope we can better comprehend what these families are going through and help them feel that they are not alone. They are loved, valued, and needed in the Church.”
Two of the best resources in the rare-disease community include the EveryLife Foundation and Global Genes, Richens said.“What I’ve learned is that our whole purpose in being here is to serve and love others,” Ryan Bruns said. “It’s not some big, complicated thing. Serving others is what this life is all about.”Not long after her son’s condition was stabilized, Anne Bruns became involved the AHUS Foundation. She and other Utah mothers of children with rare diseases created Utah Rare as a way to generate awareness and bring together families affected by rare disease in Utah. As a result, the Bruns have developed many deep bonds with other families who can relate to what they’ve been through.“We’ve desired to reach out and make sure that those members feel that they belong, that they are understood, that leaders are in a position to minister effectively to their needs,” Richens said. “What these families go through is complex. The mental energy they go through just to explain their condition, their situation, over and over, let alone deal with it, let alone pay for it, and everything else. … Church leaders are aware of this.”“Who would ever think that we’d have these friends that we’ve never actually met in all sorts of countries across the world,” Anne Bruns said. “But we’d do anything for them because we know their struggles and they know ours. It makes the world a lot smaller and shows how compassionate people can be.”Sister Jones expressed her hope that every Primary is a welcoming place for every child. “Each child is loved and needed in Primary. Each child is known and loved by our Heavenly Father. We can learn much from the faith, strength, and fortitude of these children and families,” she said.Sister Linda S. Reeves, who served as the Second Counselor in the Relief Society General Presidency from 2012 to 2017, spoke of her husband’s battle with a rare disease in October 2012 general conference. Sophie Bruns and Ethan Bruns, who has a rare disease called Atypical Hemolytic-Uremic Syndrome, play with homemade slime before lunch at their house in Plain City, Utah, on Saturday, August 25, 2018. Photo by Adam Fondren, Deseret News.Even though he goes to McKay-Dee Hospital in Ogden, Utah, every two weeks to receive one of the most expensive drugs in the world, the experience has opened unexpected doors and welcomed new friendships. Now the Bruns attend rare disease conferences and share hope. Ethan’s dream is to become a geneticist so he can help find cures for his other buddies who have rare diseases.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is lending support and resources to families and individuals with rare diseases. Graphic by Mary Archbold, Deseret News.Eventually doctors ruled out a foodborne illness related to E. coli, and Ethan Bruns was diagnosed with Atypical Hemolytic-Uremic Syndrome, a rare immune deficiency disease.Years later, although his condition has dramatically changed all aspects of life for his family and the road hasn’t been easy, Ethan and his family have survived.Families in which children have rare diseases can often become exhausted from the rigors of care and can slip through the cracks from congregations, Sister Jones noted. “Surely they must feel very isolated.”Sister Joy D. Jones, Primary General President, acknowledged the need to help these families and support the rare disease community.The Bruns’ experience with Ethan has also taught them that all are fighting their own battles and need to know they aren’t alone.Ethan Bruns also draws strength from a priesthood blessing he received when he first went into the hospital several years ago. Anne Bruns talks about her work and what she still wants to accomplish into the research of her son’s disease, Atypical Hemolytic-Uremic Syndrome, at her home in Plain City, Utah, on Saturday, August 25, 2018. Photo by Adam Fondren, Deseret News.
President and Sister Kimball went to Nauvoo for the dedication of the Relief Society Monument to Women. While there, they visited some Church historic sites. I wrote of some of the events of June 28:A missionary guide related some details of the murder and asked if President and Sister Kimball would like to listen to the recording that tells the story of the events that occurred in that room 134 years earlier. A crowd of admirers gathered at the historic Heber C. Kimball Home in Nauvoo, Illinois, when President Spencer W. Kimball and his wife, Sister Camilla Kimball, visited on June 28, 1978. President and Sister Kimball arrived in a horse-drawn buggy, visible in the background. Photo by Gerry Avant.On the next day, June 29, we went to Carthage Jail, a little more than 22 miles northwest of Nauvoo, where the Prophet Joseph and his brother, Hyrum, were martyred June 27, 1844.I remember that buggy ride very well. Laden with a bag containing two camera bodies, three lenses, a strobe, about 20 rolls of 35mm film, a tape recorder (not the tiny lightweight digital device of today) and other stuff newspaper people feel they can’t do without, and feeling the heat and humidity of a Mississippi River town in the throes of summer, I walked at a quick pace behind them—all the way from the bakery, past many restored buildings of Nauvoo, until the carriage finally came to a stop in front of the Heber C. Kimball home.Acknowledging that he would like to hear the recording, President Kimball sat with his head slightly bowed as he listened to the hymn “A Poor Wayfaring Man of Grief,” which the Prophet Joseph, just moments before his death, had asked John Taylor to sing.About this time of year, many Church members visit the faith’s historical sites. Some travel to places such as Nauvoo, Illinois, where they can walk where the Prophet Joseph Smith walked.A missionary couple related the story of Carthage Jail and escorted President and Sister Kimball and others upstairs to the room where Joseph, his brother, and others had been imprisoned.President and Sister Kimball went on a condensed tour of the home and then visited other restored buildings, including Brigham Young’s home. Then they walked to the blacksmith shop.The room was silent for a few moments after the recording had ended. President Kimball stood, thanked the guide, and asked some questions as he and Sister Kimball left the room to go downstairs.“The couple went inside, visited with the baker, then returned to the front door to wave at the crowd that had grown in size and was waiting eagerly outside the white picket fence.“The prophet and his wife left through the back door and got into a horse-drawn buggy. A prophet once again was riding the streets of Nauvoo, waving and smiling at his many well-wishers.”In my opinion, it’s one thing to walk where the Prophet Joseph lived; it’s quite another to do so with one of his successors.“A crowd gathered as the prophet and his wife walked up the steps to the Scovill Bakery in Nauvoo, Illinois.I was fortunate to be among them.Let me clarify a bit: There were moments during a June 27–29, 1978, trip to Nauvoo when I walked side by side with President Spencer W. Kimball and his wife, Sister Camilla Kimball, but I spent most of my time there following them with a camera and notebook in hand.Outside the jail, President Kimball shook hands with those who were fortunate enough to be near him. To the others, he and Sister Kimball smiled and waved. For as long as their time allowed, they posed for pictures taken by professional and amateur photographers.President Kimball walked to the window from which Joseph’s lifeless body had fallen to the ground. For several minutes, he stood silently by the window, looking over its broad windowsill to the ground below. That image is emblazoned in my mind. I visualize it nearly every time I read about or visit the jail.
During the devotional, held in the Los Angeles California Santa Monica Stake Center, President Oaks answered important questions raised by young couples “on the frontline of what is vitally important to the Church.” He addressed questions dealing with Church leadership, mental illness, Church history, and the Church’s policies relating to children raised by gay couples. He also counseled the couples on how to strengthen their marriages and families and spoke about the Church’s efforts to simplify programs that take leaders out of the home.President Oaks said some people wonder whether the leadership of the Church know what is going on in the lives of members much younger than they and in conditions much different than those in which they live.Church leaders are informedPresident Oaks said it is his hope that all marriages are loving and free from serious conflict over important values and priorities, “but we know that some are not.”Prioritizing the eternalLOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA“The leaders of the Church are incredibly in tune to the stage of life we face and the trials it can bring when trying to maintain a righteous marriage,” said Deserae Alard, who attended the devotional. “Every word was relevant and resonated with us deeply.”President Oaks called the group “the rising generation” who is “raising the next generation.” President Dallin H. Oaks, First Counselor in the First Presidency, greets members of a capacity congregation of young married couples from nine stakes in the Los Angeles area before a devotional held in the Los Angeles California Santa Monica Stake Center on Friday, August 24, 2018. Photo by Bruce Johnson.“Our eternal perspective sets us against such changes,” he said. “God’s love is so great that He requires His children to obey His laws because only through that obedience can they progress toward the eternal destiny He desires for them. Thus, in the final judgment, which follows the universal resurrection, we will all be assigned to the kingdom of glory that is commensurate with our obedience to His laws.”Adding to the complexity of the challenges young married members face personally and with their children is the reality of the environment of mental illness; scholars reported in 2014 that one in five of the U.S. population between the ages of 18 to 25 had a mental illness, said President Oaks.President Oaks said answering the questions of children in an appropriate way is one of the most important things parents can do. President Dallin H. Oaks, First Counselor in the First Presidency, greets members of a capacity congregation of young married couples from nine stakes in the Los Angeles area before a devotional held in the Los Angeles California Santa Monica Stake Center on Friday, August 24, 2018. Photo by Bruce Johnson.“We were sorry to see how many critics of that policy failed to consider its positive purpose, which was to follow the Church’s long-standing effort to avoid creating conflicts between children and those who are raising them,” he said. “Where children are being raised by custodians who do not have such a fundamental conflict with Church doctrine, there are ways to obtain approval for children to be baptized.”“Truly these are different times for your generation, and it is not surprising that you young marrieds look to Church leaders for help in doing what you need to do and teaching your children what you need to teach,” he said.“Brothers and sisters, we know much more than you suppose,” he said. “You know we are constantly traveling to be with our members all over the world. What you may not know is that every week we receive reports from the most knowledgeable professionals in every field of concern in a worldwide Church—economics, politics, social sciences, legal requirements, diplomacy, the latest thinking on social issues, etc.”President Oaks spoke of the importance of making and keeping covenants and for preparing for eternal life; he also addressed those who make no plans for what happens after they die. President Dallin H. Oaks, First Counselor in the First Presidency, greets members of a capacity congregation of young married couples from nine stakes in the Los Angeles area before a devotional held in the Los Angeles California Santa Monica Stake Center on Friday, August 24, 2018. Photo by Bruce Johnson.“You are doing what is vitally important to the Church in our day. We love you for that and for your faithfulness in pressing forward with what is most important to all of us.” President Dallin H. Oaks, First Counselor in the First Presidency, greets members of a capacity congregation of young married couples from nine stakes in the Los Angeles area before a devotional held in the Los Angeles California Santa Monica Stake Center on Friday, August 24, 2018. Photo by Bruce Johnson.Concluding, President Oaks said the theology of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints centers on the family. “Our relationship to God and the purpose of earth life are explained in terms of the family. We are the spirit children of Heavenly Parents. The gospel plan is implemented through earthly families, and our highest aspiration is to perpetuate those family relationships throughout eternity. The ultimate mission of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is to help us achieve exaltation in the celestial kingdom, and that can only be achieved in a family relationship.”President Oaks’s message hit home for many in the congregation.“When you are asked a difficult question, such as a puzzler about Church history or doctrine, be honest and, if necessary, say you don’t know,” said President Oaks. “But then be sure to say what you do know: ‘I know that Joseph Smith was a prophet of God.’”In a lighter moment, President Oaks shared a list of five things that a husband should say to his wife. “I love you. I am sorry. Yes, dear. You look good in that. We can’t afford it.”“We struggle to be informed. We struggle to be close to our members, who number about 16 million in about 150 nations.”This reaches down to younger ages and causes overall anxieties and significant overload among mental health counselors.
President Dallin H. Oaks, First Counselor in the First Presidency, greets members of a capacity congregation of young married couples from nine stakes in the Los Angeles area before a devotional held in the Los Angeles California Santa Monica Stake Center on Friday, August 24, 2018. Photo by Bruce Johnson.Challenges in raising next generationReferencing the Church’s 2007 publication God Loveth His Children, President Oaks said there are many political, legal, and social pressures for changes that would change the definition of marriage or de-emphasize its importance, confuse gender, or homogenize the differences between men and women that are essential to accomplish God’s great plan of happiness.The young married demographic in the Church faces “what must seem to be insurmountable obstacles,” he said. “You are raising children in an environment with overwhelming information and attitudes that are hostile to the mission and teachings of the Church.”“As has been true throughout history, in this life we must choose between Jesus’s way and the world’s way,” said President Oaks, referencing teachings from the Savior found in John 6 when Jesus expands five loaves and two fishes to feed 5,000. “Of course we know that we must meet the requirements of the world in many ways, including the need to earn our daily bread and pursue the education and other activities that will allow us to do so. But we should never lose our priority on the things of eternity—the bread of life—that the Savior and His Church will provide us.”Directing his remarks to the sometimes “neglected group” of “extraordinary importance,” President Oaks, First Counselor in the First Presidency, addressed young married couples from 11 stakes in the Los Angeles area.The Brethren are informed “about the world in which we live,” but “we are even more intensely informed about our own members—the challenges they face in medical care, mental health, public schools, higher education, employment, the marketplace, retirement, and in their personal relations such as marriage, childbearing, adoption, child-rearing, challenges to faith such as questions about Church history, same-gender attraction, transgender issues, etc.,” he said.The Church cannot be strong if a majority of its leaders and members come from weak families, said President Dallin H. Oaks on August 24.President Oaks then addressed a difficult question that has caused some to criticize or even leave the Church—the policy to not baptize young children being raised by same-sex couples until they were old enough to make a mature decision.“Conversely, if most of the families in a ward or stake are strong, the ward or stake will also be strong,” he said. “The same is true of the Church.”
President Dallin H. Oaks, First Counselor in the First Presidency, greets members of a capacity congregation of young married couples from nine stakes in the Los Angeles area before a devotional held in the Los Angeles California Santa Monica Stake Center on Friday, August 24, 2018. Photo by Bruce Johnson.
President Dallin H. Oaks, First Counselor in the First Presidency, arrives to address a capacity congregation of young married couples from nine stakes in the Los Angeles area before a devotional held in the Los Angeles California Santa Monica Stake Center on Friday, August 24, 2018. Photo by Bruce Johnson.
President Dallin H. Oaks, First Counselor in the First Presidency, greets members of a capacity congregation of young married couples from nine stakes in the Los Angeles area before a devotional held in the Los Angeles California Santa Monica Stake Center on Friday, August 24, 2018. Photo by Bruce Johnson.Members of a capacity congregation of young married couples from nine stakes in the Los Angeles area await a devotional message from President Dallin H. Oaks, First Counselor in the First Presidency. The meeting was held in the Los Angeles California Santa Monica Stake Center on Friday, August 24, 2018. Photo by Bruce Johnson. President Dallin H. Oaks, First Counselor in the First Presidency, greets members of a capacity congregation of young married couples from nine stakes in the Los Angeles area before a devotional held in the Los Angeles California Santa Monica Stake Center on Friday, August 24, 2018. Photo by Bruce Johnson. President Dallin H. Oaks, First Counselor in the First Presidency, greets members of a capacity congregation of young married couples from nine stakes in the Los Angeles area before a devotional held in the Los Angeles California Santa Monica Stake Center on Friday, August 24, 2018. Photo by Bruce Johnson. President Dallin H. Oaks, First Counselor in the First Presidency, addresses a capacity crowd of young married couples from nine stakes in the Los Angeles area during a devotional held in the Los Angeles California Santa Monica Stake Center on Friday, August 24, 2018. Photo by Bruce Johnson. President Dallin H. Oaks, First Counselor in the First Presidency, greets members of a capacity congregation of young married couples from nine stakes in the Los Angeles area before a devotional held in the Los Angeles California Santa Monica Stake Center on Friday, August 24, 2018. Photo by Bruce Johnson.“All of us—husbands and wives—can do better,” he said. “We must do better. But we are doing better than we assume in our most discouraging times.”President Oaks asked the men in the congregation to rise up to their responsibilities to lead families in righteousness.“We have spent many hours talking about how we can simplify our Church programs to perform their essential function for a wide variety of family circumstances,” said President Oaks. “Now, I am pleased to tell you that some help is on the way and more is under discussion.”Stance on LGBT community President Dallin H. Oaks, First Counselor in the First Presidency, addresses a capacity crowd of young married couples from nine stakes in the Los Angeles area during a devotional held in the Los Angeles California Santa Monica Stake Center on Friday, August 24, 2018. Photo by Bruce Johnson.President Oaks also addressed questions about the rising generation, which “increasingly sees the Church’s stance on the LGBT community as intolerant and inconsistent with our local and national laws” and who are seeking understanding about those who deal with same-sex attraction. President Dallin H. Oaks, First Counselor in the First Presidency, addresses a capacity crowd of young married couples from nine stakes in the Los Angeles area during a devotional held in the Los Angeles California Santa Monica Stake Center on Friday, August 24, 2018. Photo by Bruce Johnson.Strengthening marriagePresident Oaks said leaders understand that many callings take young couples away from their home and family.President Oaks said in his “persistent prayerful ponderings, I have never found a better, shorter answer to the innumerable questions on this subject than a thorough knowledge and total faith in the love of our Heavenly Father and the plan of salvation He has established for the blessing of all of His children. The central truth of that plan is the Atonement of His Only Begotten Son, our Savior, Jesus Christ.”
The event is dedicated to celebrating family and discovering family histories and includes hundreds of breakout sessions and celebrity speakers. The expansive expo hall features hundreds of companies offering products and services designed to help individuals discover and connect with family. RootsTech opened at the Salt Palace in Salt Lake City on Wednesday, February 28, 2018. Photo by Scott G Winterton, Deseret News.“We are excited to further position RootsTech as a global community for everyone to discover their family and deepen their sense of belonging that we all yearn for,” said Jen Allen, event director, in an email to FamilySearch subscribers.RootsTech, the popular family history and technology conference and trade show, is expanding its international reach in 2019 with an event in London October 24-26.Interest in the RootsTech conference has been growing steadily since its launch in 2011. More than 17,000 guests from every state and 47 countries gathered at the Salt Palace Convention Center and more than 111,000 tuned in via the internet for RootsTech 2018.RootsTech London will not replace the Salt Lake conference but will serve as an ancillary event. It will be held in the ExCel Convention Center, located just 5 minutes from the London City Airport.RootsTech, held annually in Salt Lake City, is hosted by FamilySearch International, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints' family history organization. Vendors and attendees move around the exhibit hall as RootsTech opens at the Salt Palace in Salt Lake City on Wednesday, February 28, 2018. Photo by Scott G Winterton, Deseret News.Registration for RootsTech London will open in late February 2019. To receive the latest updates and announcements, visit rootstech.org/London.
The legions of Puerto Rican Latter-day Saints aren’t immune to the disaster’s lasting sting. Members endure uneasy flashbacks “when there’s even a small power outage,” said San Juan Puerto Rico Stake Wilfred Rosa.President Russell M. Nelson is scheduled to speak at a Sabbath-day member devotional at San Jose’s Coliseo de Puerto Rico. He is expected to be accompanied by his wife, Sister Wendy W. Nelson, along with Elder Dale G. Renlund of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles and his wife, Sister Ruth Renlund.For many full-time missionaries, listening to counsel from the Church president and a member of the Twelve on Puerto Rican soil mark an unforgettable event in a year defined by such moments.“Everyone is thrilled,” said Puerto Rico San Juan Mission President David Smart.It’s been almost a year since Hurricane Maria battered Puerto Rico—exacting an almost unimaginable toll in both human life and property damage.The spiritual recovery continues for Puerto Rican members. They are counting down the days until Sunday, September 2, when, for the first time in many years, the president of the Church will visit the island.Repairing the island’s critically wounded infrastructure proved a long and tedious. For months, electricity and running water were mere wishes for many Puerto Ricans.In the hours leading up to Maria’s late September arrival, 55 sister missionaries found shelter in the mission home in San Juan. Almost 100 elders gathered in the mission office, a converted meetinghouse that included a gym and a stage. (See related story.) Audona Agosto stirs a boiling pot of food on a makeshift stove in what is left of her home, as Hurricane recovery efforts in Puerto Rico continue on Thursday, February 15, 2018. Photo by Scott G Winterton, Deseret News.And, of course, the hurricane’s September 20th anniversary will be a day of mourning for the many who lost loved ones. No one on the island wants to ever repeat the Hurricane Maria experience. It was horrible—no qualifiers needed. “But the experience had made us closer and stronger,” said President Rosa. “We have grown so much over the last year.”The Nelson’s and the Renlund’s visit to the Caribbean won’t be limited to Puerto Rico. They will be in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, on Saturday, September 1, for a missionary meeting and a member devotional that will be broadcast to several regions across the Church’s Caribbean Area.Days later, the young missionaries were evacuated from the devastated island. The first wave of returning missionaries arrived in Puerto Rico a few days before Christmas. Subsequent waves have since returned. With each passing month, the mission creeps closer to pre-hurricane missionary complement.“We now have missionaries in every location where they were before,” said President Smart.Now he and his missionaries are eager to listen to a prophet’s voice. “Everything we will be hearing on Sunday will be coming from the Lord—and we know it’s for us,” he said.Today, utility service has essentially returned in full. And for a visitor, things likely appear normal. But for the more than 3 million people who call Puerto Rico home, Maria’s emotional wounds remain fresh.
Of course, Latter-day Saint vocabulary contains words and phrases not common in ordinary conversation, so the next step was to translate the American Sign Language from the Church’s book used in the United States into GSL to cover 700 words. Sister Föger and Elder Franz completed 400 words for the GSL book in addition to their other normal mission activities before she returned home to Vienna in July 2017.Then, as she contemplated and prayed about a mission, something—a little thing—happened. Her mother asked her to simply hold the medical cochlear device in her hand for a photo. Looking at the photo later, Föger said, “I wondered, is this reminding me that I need to consider this again?”To put them in context required another 40,000-70,000 words, a project she’s still working on. She’s made teaching videos and provided them to Elder Axel Leimer, the Area Seventy who has been an advocate for hearing accessibility and who began his service as president of the Germany Berlin Mission in July.Merging worlds through sign languageAn elder who had arrived before her and had previously expressed his desire to the mission president to learn sign language was given permission to be taught by Sister Föger.Living in two worldsShe said, “God was preparing a way for me to teach GSL. I felt like Nephi building the ship—I didn’t know how, but I knew this was my purpose.”Her journal page for January 23, 2017, records (translated): “I was in the [Freiberg] Temple thinking about Joseph Smith, and how he’d started from zero. ... Since then, we’ve received more revelation. This is the stone upon which we will start to build the program. ... We are each the different tools coming together so that there will [someday] be a temple session in German Sign Language.”
Luciana Adele Föger, born with a profound hearing impairment, was able to serve in the Germany Berlin Mission, thanks to cochlear implants and a strong desire to share the gospel. Photo by Laurie Williams Sowby.At first fearful when told of the risks of this type of surgery (the auditory nerve must be severed, rendering a person totally deaf), she recalled, “I just had to find the courage to talk to one doctor; I didn’t have to commit. I knew God was leading me, preparing me, for a cochlear implant.”She wrote down the scripture reference 3 Nephi 18:32 to remind her that she’d had that personal revelation on including everyone and needed to act on it.“One became five, then all the missionaries wanted to learn some basic phrases in German Sign Language.” The missionaries she taught wore name tags indicating they could speak GSL.VIENNA, AustriaSister Föger was encouraged and assisted in her quest by a senior missionary couple, Elder Gentz Franz and Sister Jeri Franz, serving in her same area of Rostock. Elder Franz’s career working as a rehabilitation counselor for the State of Illinois had involved work with deaf and hard-of-hearing clients and given him a sense of the challenges they face. He was also well acquainted with ASL because of a 20-year friendship with a deaf member in his home ward.Being in the mission field was frustrating and daunting at first.At age 25, she applied to serve a mission.The daughter of a mother who had served a full-time mission and a father who had converted from a strong Catholic family, Sister Föger’s desire was to serve a mission when she turned 21. Yet, she couldn’t imagine how she could do that with her impairment; she had already rejected the idea of a cochlear implant at age 16.During her mission, she was often told, “Be still.”She was called to serve in the Germany Berlin Mission, entering the Missionary Training Center in Preston, England, in January 2016.Missionaries there are all encouraged to learn another language besides German in order to serve the diverse population of Germany. Many are choosing to go beyond just the basics of GSL, according to Elder Franz’s observations.With everyone’s help, things began changing.The gospel in sign languageThe possibility of hearing and speakingAt age 21, she decided to go ahead with the two separate procedures, two weeks apart. After recovering from the surgeries, it took time and patience to adjust to the unfamiliar and exhausting bombardment of stimuli. She had to learn to sort out the noises she was hearing into a meaningful context, but Föger says now she “hears in colors.”Now 28, Föger can hear and speak both German and English and has a full-time job in the cosmetics industry. She’s engaged to be married next year. And she’s a returned missionary who’s paving the way for the gospel to be taught in German Sign Language.“The steps are being taken,” he said. “I applaud all those who are moving this forward—and especially Lucy, who had so much to do with it initially. I’m amazed at her willingness to work so hard and try to function in a world that’s not accessible to her unless she makes it so. What she’s done is start the process of making the gospel and ordinances accessible to all German-speaking people in Europe.”Föger acknowledges the help she’s received from others in the mission. Trying to envision the scope of her personal contribution to seeing that happen, “I get goose bumps,” she said. “This is just the beginning.”“But Christ invited all people to come to Him, and bring to the temple the deaf and dumb, those with disabilities, and those with heavy burdens to carry,” she recounted. It came to her that this was her mission, too.The surgically implanted electronic device provides a sense of sound to a deaf person by stimulating the auditory nerve. Although cochlear implants had already proven a benefit to many, Föger wanted no part of it as a teenager.After all, she’d done OK with less than 10 percent hearing ability, attending a school for the deaf in Munich, Germany, and learning to speak German with the help of speech therapy and a lot of one-on-one work with her mother to learn complicated German grammar. One of four children, Föger had even taken piano lessons and learned to match up the notes on the page with the keys on the piano, although she never really knew how it sounded.When she was born at 28 weeks gestation, no one expected Luciana Adele Föger to live. Doctors removed part of a tiny lung and put her on a breathing machine. Her parents prayed. She had to be resuscitated three times over the next few weeks.“I wasn’t sure how I belonged,” she related. “I felt I was living in two worlds—the deaf and the hearing.”
Sister Luciana Föger taught German Sign Language to fellow missionaries. Since returning home to the Vienna Second Ward, Austria Vienna Stake, she is developing tools to expand GSL with Church vocabulary. Photo by Laurie Williams Sowby.When she survived to toddlerhood and beyond, it was suggested to her parents that she couldn’t hear and could certainly never be expected to speak, hold a job, or lead a normal life. In fact, she had a profound hearing impairment, and the little hearing she did have would deteriorate steadily as she got older.“When people become aware of the challenges,” he said in a phone conversation, “changes start getting made. The Church is making more services available to members in Germany that will make church more accessible.”Although she would later be able to merge those two worlds through sign language, it was a struggle for many months. For one thing, mission conferences were conducted in English, and Sister Föger was overwhelmed with the German translation until the mission president found her an interpreter.Initially, Sister Föger hadn’t expected to use sign language on her mission, as there are not many deaf Latter-day Saints in Germany.
Elder Ulisses Soares, who is from Brazil, greets members and friends during a visit to the area August 24–31.President M. Russell Ballard and Elder Ulisses Soares greet members during a visit to the Brazil Area August 24–31.“We want you to love your Lord, Jesus Christ, and let His love be in your home,” Elder Ballard said. “Be kind to each other, and teach each other.” Elder Ulisses Soares speaks to leaders during a visit to the Brazil Area August 24–31. President M. Russell Ballard and Elder Ulisses Soares, accompanied by Elder Soares’s wife, Sister Rosana Soares, and members of the Brazil Area Presidency and their wives, participate in a live Facebook event, “Family Home Evening with President Ballard, Elder Soares, and the Brazil Area Presidency.”
Elder Ulisses Soares and President M. Russell Ballard listen during a visit to the Brazil Area August 24–31.From left: Elder W. Mark Bassett from the Brazil Area Presidency; Sister Angela Bassett; Sister Rosana Soares; Elder Ulisses Soares of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles; President M. Russell Ballard, Acting President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles; Brazil Area President Elder Marcos A. Aidukaitis; Sister Luisa Aidukaitis; Elder Adilson de Paula Parrella of the Brazil Area Presidency; and Sister Elaine Parrella. Elder Ulisses Soares speaks to missionaries serving in Brazil during a visit to the area August 24–31.All over Brazil, stake centers filled with members who watched the event together. The live event reached almost 200,000 people and had approximately 75,000 views on Facebook. President M. Russell Ballard and Elder Ulisses Soares, accompanied by Elder Soares’s wife, Sister Rosana Soares, and members of the Brazil Area Presidency and their wives, participate in a live Facebook event, “Family Home Evening with President Ballard, Elder Soares, and the Brazil Area Presidency.”When the name Ulisses Soares was announced as one of two new members of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles during the solemn assembly on March 31, 2018, the reaction of Brazilians all over Brazil and in the Conference Center echoed all the way to the pulpit, said President M. Russell Ballard, Acting President of the Quorum of the Twelve.Rosvaldo Avelino da Silva, a bishop in the Educandário Ward, São Paulo Brazil Rapouso Tavares Stake, attended the meeting. “When Elder Soares was a stake president here in 1998, … he called me to serve as a bishop. Now I am serving as a bishop for the second time, so I went to the leadership conference. It was very special for me to see him as an Apostle. When he and President Ballard decided to shake hands with all those attending the conference, I lined up with everyone else. When Elder Soares saw me, I extended my arm to shake his hand, but he pulled me into a warm hug,” said Bishop Rosvaldo.Born and raised in São Paulo, Elder Soares began attending The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints when he was just seven years old, eventually serving as stake president and President of the Brazil Area. During the event, he met some lifelong friends who teared up as they heard the apostolic message he had brought to the Brazilian Saints.Brazilian members had a chance to welcome back Elder Soares in his first official visit to Brazil as an Apostle of Jesus Christ when President Ballard and Elder Soares arrived in São Paulo August 24.After leaving São Paulo, President Ballard and Elder Soares flew to Rio de Janeiro, where they held another leadership conference, presided over two different stake conferences, and met with the missionaries of the two missions in Rio.“I know how good the people from Rio de Janeiro are. I shared the gospel with them, they welcomed me into their homes, they fed me. I love them,” said Elder Soares in the meeting with the two missions in Rio. President M. Russell Ballard and Elder Ulisses Soares, accompanied by Elder Soares’s wife, Sister Rosana Soares, and members of the Brazil Area Presidency and their wives, participate in a live Facebook event, “Family Home Evening with President Ballard, Elder Soares, and the Brazil Area Presidency.”The two leaders first attended a missionary conference with about 800 full-time missionaries from the five missions in São Paulo. Elder Moreira from the Brazil São Paulo West Mission was one of the 800 missionaries watching the conference. “It was so inspiring to listen to an Apostle speaking in Portuguese,” he said of Elder Soares. “I felt the Spirit, and he answered questions that I had.” Elder Ulisses Soares speaks to missionaries serving in Brazil during a visit to the area August 24–31.
Elder Ulisses Soares shares a message with Brazilian Saints during a visit to the area August 24–31.President M. Russell Ballard and Elder Ulisses Soares, accompanied by Elder Soares’s wife, Sister Rosana Soares, and members of the Brazil Area Presidency and their wives, participate in a live Facebook event, “Family Home Evening with President Ballard, Elder Soares, and the Brazil Area Presidency.”The “Family Home Evening with President Ballard, Elder Soares, and the Brazil Area Presidency” can be watched on the Brazil Area’s official Facebook page, LDS Brasil (facebook.com/LDSBrOficial). Elder Ulisses Soares greets members during a visit to the Brazil Area August 24–31.
Elder W. Mark Bassett from the Brazil Area Presidency, Elder Ulisses Soares, and President M. Russell Ballard take time to shake hands with leaders during a visit to the area August 24–31.
President M. Russell Ballard and Elder Ulisses Soares greet members during a visit to the Brazil Area August 24–31.On Saturday morning the two Apostles held a leadership conference with the São Paulo Interlagos and São Paulo West coordinating councils.As their last assignment in the country, the two visiting Apostles addressed all the members in Brazil on Sunday evening through a Facebook Live event titled “Family Home Evening with President Ballard, Elder Soares, and the Brazil Area Presidency.” They were also joined by Sister Soares and the wives of the members of the Brazil Area Presidency, with whom they chatted about their family experiences raising children and strengthening their families in the gospel of Jesus Christ in these latter days. Elder Ulisses Soares greets members during a visit to the Brazil Area August 24–31.Elder Soares and his wife, Sister Rosana Soares, each served a full-time mission in Rio at different times when they were young, so they understandably were feeling emotional to be back with the people they grew to love when they were young missionaries.
President M. Russell Ballard and Elder Ulisses Soares speak during a visit to the Brazil Area August 24–31.“Prayer is just one of the basic fundamentals to the home,” he said, but also emphasized the importance of family councils. “In my judgment, one of the most important councils we have in the Church is the family council,” he said, explaining that a council could also be conversation between a father and daughter, a mother and a son, and other one-on-one experiences with family members you are trying to help.
Port-au-Prince Haiti TempleFritzner Andre Joseph, 60, Orchard 1st Ward, Orem Utah Orchard Stake, called as president of the new Port-au-Prince Haiti Temple. President Joseph’s wife, Marie-Gina Michel Joseph, will serve as temple matron. He is an elders quorum presidency counselor and a former Haiti Port-au-Prince Mission president, bishop, district presidency counselor, self-reliance service missionary, and temple ordinance worker. A job coach manager at Deseret Industries, he was born in Carrefour, Port-au-Prince, Haiti, to Cidoine Joseph and Licette Francois.
Gina M. and Fritzner A. Joseph.Sister Joseph is a Relief Society compassionate service assistant coordinator. She served with her husband as he presided over the Haiti Port-au-Prince Mission and is a former branch Relief Society president, self-reliance service missionary, and Sunday School teacher. She was born in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, to Jacques Roger Michel and Claire Senatus.A new temple president and matron have been called by the First Presidency. They will begin their service when the temple is dedicated.