Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Thursday, June 4, 2015

[such a lovely man of God!]

I'm reading about Elder L. Tom Perry's life (1922 - 2015) and thought I'd share these two stories that I especially enjoyed.

When Tom and his family moved to the East Coast for work, they began searching for homes close to his place of employment. As house hunting continued, they started looking further away. At long last they found a house that the whole family fell in love with. It was a beautiful one-story home nestled in the deep woods of Connecticut. The final test was to try out the commute. Tom returned home discouraged. The commute had been an hour and a half each way.
He posed the problem to his family, saying they could have either the house or a father. Their response surprised him. “We will take the house,” they said. “You are never around much anyway.”
This was a turning point for Tom. “I needed to repent fast,” he said. “My children needed a father who was home more.” He took the lesson to heart. “I changed my work habits to allow me to have more time with my family.”

Elder Perry made friends wherever he went. A story from his life illustrates his ability to form friendships in virtually any setting. After he and his family moved to New York City for work, he noticed how people kept to themselves on the streets and in the subways.
Tom devised a plan in his morning commute to get acquainted with somebody. He watched a man at his subway stop who went through the same routine each morning. The man arrived at the same time, bought a newspaper, stood at the same spot on the train platform, and sat in the same seat on the subway each day without variation.
Tom wanted to shake things up and see if he could form a friendship. He showed up early one day and stood on this man’s favorite platform location. Then he sat in the man’s preferred subway seat. After two days of doing this, Tom showed up to find the man had arrived earlier than usual and had claimed his spot on the platform. The man gave a little sneer at Tom, who then walked over and started laughing as he explained what he’d been doing.
“He thought that was the greatest thing he’d ever heard of,” Elder Perry said. He and the man got on the train and rode together. They soon became great friends. Each morning it was a race to see who could reach the platform first. Soon the race expanded to three, then four, then ten commuters hustling good-naturedly to claim the prized spot.
“It livened up the whole platform,” Elder Perry said. Throughout the process, all involved became a close-knit group. One Christmas about ten of them stood on the platform singing Christmas carols together. “I developed some of the greatest friends I’ve ever had.”

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

[what matters most]

"In the routine of life, we often take our families - our parents and children and siblings - for granted. But in times of danger and need and change, there is no question that what we care about most is our families!"

"Our family-centered perspective should make Latter-day Saints strive to be the best parents in the world. It should give us enormous respect for our children, who truly are our spiritual siblings, and it should cause us to devote whatever time is necessary to strengthen our families. Indeed, nothing is more critically connected to happiness - both our own and that of our children - than how well we love and support one another within the family."

Elder M. Russell Ballard
October 2005 General Conference

Thursday, April 23, 2015

[Love this youth activity idea that involves seniors!]

 What a great idea! I'm sharing this whole New Era article. Poor seniors are often so lonely. This is a GREAT way to bring some cheer into their lives and help youth realize that age doesn't matter when it comes to friendship. 

Youth in Arizona took a blast to the past with a memorable service project.
man at microphone
photographs courtesy of Keaton Allen
Time machines have been dreamed up in all shapes and sizes. Such fantastical devices have been represented on screen and in books as everything from hyped-up supercars to phone booths.
For a large group of youth from Arizona, USA, their blast to the past took place inside their local stake center.

Connecting Generations

This particular journey began after President Boyd K. Packer, President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, told youth, “You may wonder, at my age what I can contribute to your lives. I have been where you are and know where you are going. But you have not yet been where I am” (“Counsel to Youth,” Ensign, Nov. 2011, 16). These words prompted leaders in one stake to start thinking about ways to help youth connect with elderly people in their area.
As youth and leaders began planning, they decided to put together a program in the spirit of The Lawrence Welk Show, a popular American TV show featuring music and dancing that ran from the 1950s through the 1970s. This was a show many of the seniors in the stake knew and loved well.
Most of the youth, however, had never heard of it, and at first some of them didn’t know quite what to think of the idea.
“I was unsure,” says Lisette L., a Laurel from the stake. Adds Slade C., 15, “Honestly, I thought it was going to be kind of weird.”
After all, we’re talking about barbershop quartet music, dance styles from decades past, and the hope to form close friendships across wide generation gaps. Still, the youth jumped in with both feet and started preparing.
“We wanted the youth and the elderly citizens to get to know each other,” says Pam Nielson, one of the leaders. “We wanted them to realize they have a lot in common.”

Practice, Practice, Practice

barbershop singers
This wasn’t an activity that could be thrown together in a few days. Preparation involved weeks of rehearsals. There was an all-youth orchestra, an all-youth barbershop chorus, an all-youth band, and all-youth dance teams who learned songs and routines from the 1920s through the 1960s. That takes time to create. “These kids were amazing,” says Pam.
For their part, Slade and Lisette were both chosen as part of an advanced dancing team. “There were lots of rehearsals,” Slade says. “After Mutual, we went down to the stake center and practiced.”
As the show began coming together, the excitement grew. “It was really fun,” says Lisette. “For most of us, it was our first time hearing any of this kind of music.”

Unexpected Friends

young man and old woman dancing
When the big day arrived, the surprise highlight—for many—took place before the first note of music even rang in the air.
The activity was scheduled in two segments. For the first part, the 200 youth from the stake were divided into groups of four, and then each group was assigned to visit an elderly man or woman in his or her home for an hour and a half.
“That was definitely one of my favorite parts,” says Slade. He wasn’t alone, either. For many of the young men and young women, these get-to-know-you sessions were fascinating as well as inspiring.
Slade’s group was assigned to visit Hazel Cameron, a widow in their stake who lived through the Great Depression. “I never guessed at all the things she’s been through,” Slade explains. “She told us a few stories that I thought were pretty exciting.”
Slade and the others in his group spent 90 minutes getting to know Hazel, asking her questions about her life. They all enjoyed one another’s company—and none of them minded a bit when Hazel shared a few treats she’d made. It turns out baking cookies and making candy is one of her favorite hobbies!
Another of Hazel’s favorite hobbies is dancing, including the fox-trot. “She taught me a few moves,” Slade says.
At the end of their time together, the elderly members in each group shared a few words of advice with the youth. These messages were recorded and later compiled and handed out as treasured DVDs.


young women
When visiting time was over, the youth said good-bye to their new friends and got ready for the performance later that night. They could hardly wait to put on the performance.
After all the hard work, The Lawrence Wright Show was ready to begin. The event was named for the stake president, Lawrence Wright, who played the role of host Lawrence Welk, complete with a flurry of bubbles like they had in the original show.
The youth went all-out in performing for their new friends. All night long, the stake center became a time machine as song after song turned back the years for the guests of honor. “I loved seeing how happy they were as we performed for them and brought back memories,” says Lisette.
After the grand finale—a song and dance routine to the traditional closing song from The Lawrence Welk Show—music continued, and the youth invited their friends from the audience to join them for more dancing. “It was super exciting,” says Slade, who shared a dance with Hazel.

A Change of Hearts

young woman and old man dancing
The friendships formed that day have lasted well past the show’s closing curtain. The youth enjoy seeing their new friends at church and around town. Slade, for example, drops by Hazel’s house now and again just to say hello. He often thinks of ways to brighten her day. “I didn’t think this activity was going to be amazing, but it was,” Slade explains.
Pam hears all the time from senior members in the stake who tell her how the youth will come up and talk with them at church. “They truly made friends,” she says.
This activity ended up providing much more than entertainment. By getting to know those they served, the youth formed friendships they never knew they were missing. “No matter what age we are,” says Lisette, “we’re all part of the same family.”

Monday, April 20, 2015

[personal story - Elder Christofferson]

Elder D. Todd Christofferson is one of the Twelve Apostles in our Church today. He became an Apostle in April 2008. This is what his biography states about his work experience: 

"Prior to his call to serve as a full-time General Authority of the Church, Elder Christofferson was associate general counsel of Nations Bank Corporation (now Bank of America) in Charlotte, North Carolina. Previously, he was senior vice president and general counsel for Commerce Union Bank of Tennessee in Nashville, where he was also active in community affairs and interfaith organizations. From 1975 to 1980, Elder Christofferson practiced law in Washington, D.C., after serving as a law clerk to U.S. District Judge John J. Sirica (1972-74)."

I just read an article written by Elder Christofferson in the New Era (a magazine geared towards the youth of our Church). I love it when the Church leaders share personal experiences as sometimes us Church members tend to think of them as having special lives with no troubles and trials. I'm pretty sure all of them had had many, many trials. Here is what Elder Christofferson shares in the April 2015 New Era:

"Some time before I was called as a General Authority, I faced a personal economic challenge that persisted for several years. At times this challenge threatened the welfare of my family and me, and I thought we might be facing financial ruin. I prayed for some miraculous intervention to deliver us. Although I offered that prayer many times with great sincerity and earnest desire, the answer in the end was “No.” Finally I learned to pray as the Savior did: “Nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done” (Luke 22:42). I sought the Lord’s help with each tiny step along the way to a final resolution.
There were times when I had exhausted all my resources, when I had nowhere or no one to turn to at that moment. More than once I fell down before my Heavenly Father, begging in tears for His help. And He did help. Sometimes it was nothing more than a sense of peace, a feeling of assurance that things would work out. I might not see how or what the path would be, but He gave me to know that, directly or indirectly, He would open a way. Circumstances might change, a new and helpful idea might come to mind, some unanticipated income or other resource might appear at just the right time. Somehow there was a resolution.
Though I suffered then, as I look back now, I am grateful that there was not a quick solution to my problem. The fact that I was forced to turn to God for help almost daily over an extended period of years taught me truly how to pray and get answers to prayer and taught me in a very practical way to have faith in God. I came to know my Savior and my Heavenly Father in a way and to a degree that might not have happened otherwise or that might have taken me much longer to achieve. I learned that daily bread is a precious commodity. I learned that manna today can be as real as the physical manna of biblical history. I learned to trust in the Lord with all my heart. I learned to walk with Him day by day."
The article is all about how we should look to God each day. How we can manage our trials by dealing with them little bit at a time with God's help. Elder Christofferson also shares this story about his mother:

"In the 1950s my mother survived radical cancer surgery, but difficult as that was, the surgery was followed by dozens of painful radiation treatments in what would now be considered rather primitive medical conditions. She recalls that her mother taught her something during that time that has helped her ever since: “I was so sick and weak, and I said to her one day, ‘Oh, Mother, I can’t stand having 16 more of those treatments.’ She said, ‘Can you go today?’ ‘Yes.’ ‘Well, honey, that’s all you have to do today.’ It has helped me many times when I remember to take one day or one thing at a time.”

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

[surely we must help others in need]

This was one of my favorite General Conference talks. Pure religion is taking care of the poor and needy. Love how tenderhearted President Eyring always is and how he can barely hold back the tears when he speaks. heart emoticon Love how organized our Church is with the task of helping people around the world (whether they are members of our Church or not). Just recently, due to my Church calling (my "volunteer job"), I helped five families receive food from the local food storehouse our Church has to help those who are struggling. Our Church is very well organized to help the poor and needy around the world. If a disaster strikes, our Church is instantly ready to ship supplies right away (the humanitarian center in Utah is an amazing place!) and thousands of Church volunteers always offer a helping hand as well. People often say that it's enough to believe in God and live a good life. But Jesus organized His Church for a reason - it's so much easier to help others when there is a well organized organization to do that. Plus the Church offers ton of opportunities for volunteer service. I have even crocheted bandages for people with leprosy (how can there still be leprosy in the world?!) and have made washable sanitary pads for girls who don't have access to them (and miss school because of it). I doubt I'd do anything like that if I didn't go to my church. I love the Church I belong to. I love the gospel! heart emoticon

Monday, March 9, 2015

[the importance of tuning into God's revelation]

I love it that I can have a full gospel library available to me on my cell phone and on my tablet. It is so easy to study the gospel nowadays. No need to carry a heavy set of scriptures with me wherever I go. I can even look up something on my phone if I have some extra time while out and about. I decided to study General Conference talks starting from 1971 and on. I just studied Bruce R. McConkie's talk from the April 1971 Conference titled "The Lord's People Receive Revelation". I have always admired Bruce R. McConkie and what a spiritual scholar he is. 

He talked about climbing on top of Mt. Wellington in Australia with his missionaries (he was a mission president there). There they visited a television broadcasting station and someone explained to them how television signals were broadcast to the valley below. He related that to how we receive revelation from the Holy Ghost.

"This Tabernacle is now full of scenes from Vietnam and Washington. There is even a picture of men walking on the surface of the moon. But we are not seeing these things. The minute, however, in which we tune a radio to the proper wave band and tune a television receiving set on the proper channel, we begin to hear and see and experience what otherwise remains completely unknown to us.
And so it is with revelations and visions of eternity. They are around us all the time. This tabernacle is full of the same things which are recorded in the scriptures and much more... but we do not hear or see or experience because we have not tuned our souls to the wave band on which the Holy Ghost is broadcasting."

Cool to think that we can learn pretty much anything regarding God if we only tuned ourselves spiritually to his revelations.

"The laws governing radio and television have existed from the time of Adam to the present moment, but only in modern times have men heard and seen and experienced these miraculous things. And the laws have always existed whereby men can see visions, hear the voice of God, and partake of the things of the Spirit. But millions of people everywhere live and die without tasting the good word of God, because they do not obey the laws which implant the revelations of the Lord in their souls."

And this next part is almost funny to me as I think of Bruce R. McConkie as a brilliant man but this is what he says:

"We do not come to a knowledge of God and his laws through intellectuality, or by research, or by reason. I have an average mind - one that is neither better nor worse than the general fun of mankind. In the realm of intellectual attainment I have a doctor's degree... But when contrasted with spiritual endowments, they are of but slight and passing worth."

And then this quote about what kind of knowledge and skill really is important in life:

This is so true as well. Some people think they know all sorts of things about God but they really don't. Things of God are learned by revelation. Not by secular study.

I must say that to me, the gospel is the most interesting and fascinating topic to learn. The spiritual experiences I have had, are so cool and I wouldn't trade them for anything. I have received revelations from God and even if others might question that, I know what I have seen, heard and experienced. They haven't tuned into God's revelations so they have no idea what it's like when you do receive them. It is worth every effort we can put forth to get to know God. Receiving revelation is the coolest thing ever!

Thursday, February 26, 2015

[Bet not afraid. Only believe.]

I bet I haven't mentioned before how much I love Elder Holland. :) I just watched his February 2015 CES Devotional speech. Such a powerful testimony, as usual. His talk starts at about 17 minutes of the video.

Some quotes from this talk that I managed to write down:

" nothing could I have more faith than I have in God the Eternal Father, in Jesus Christ, His Son, in their redeeming gospel and in their divinely guided Church. So what do we owe our students...? We owe them an uncompromised testimony and a life of good cheer. The Savior asked for that so often that I personally consider it a literal commandment. However, worry, and fear, and pessimism, and fretting can destroy anyone's good cheer. Yours and people around you. So put a smile on your face and cherish every day of your life."

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

[the most severe test]

With prosperity, there often comes the temptation to embrace the materialism of the world. We lose sight of what really matters in life.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

[the power of a parent and of prayer]

Love this story about the power of a parent:
Ben Carson said of himself, “I was the worst student in my whole fifth-grade class.” One day Ben took a math test with 30 problems. The student behind him corrected it and handed it back. The teacher, Mrs. Williamson, started calling each student’s name for the score. Finally, she got to Ben. Out of embarrassment, he mumbled the answer. Mrs. Williamson, thinking he had said “9,” replied that for Ben to score 9 out of 30 was a wonderful improvement. The student behind Ben then yelled out, “Not nine! … He got none … right.” Ben said he wanted to drop through the floor.
At the same time, Ben’s mother, Sonya, faced obstacles of her own. She was one of 24 children, had only a third-grade education, and could not read. She was married at age 13, was divorced, had two sons, and was raising them in the ghettos of Detroit. Nonetheless, she was fiercely self-reliant and had a firm belief that God would help her and her sons if they did their part.
One day a turning point came in her life and that of her sons. It dawned on her that successful people for whom she cleaned homes had libraries—they read. After work she went home and turned off the television that Ben and his brother were watching. She said in essence: You boys are watching too much television. From now on you can watch three programs a week. In your free time you will go to the library—read two books a week and give me a report.
The boys were shocked. Ben said he had never read a book in his entire life except when required to do so at school. They protested, they complained, they argued, but it was to no avail. Then Ben reflected, “She laid down the law. I didn’t like the rule, but her determination to see us improve changed the course of my life.”
And what a change it made. By the seventh grade he was at the top of his class. He went on to attend Yale University on a scholarship, then Johns Hopkins medical school, where at age 33 he became its chief of pediatric neurosurgery and a world-renowned surgeon. How was that possible? Largely because of a mother who, without many of the advantages of life, magnified her calling as a parent.
You can read Ben Carson's biography here.
I got that story from Tad R. Callister's General Conference talk. In his talk, he also shares a wonderful story from his youth:
One of the most meaningful things we can do as parents is teach our children the power of prayer, not just the routine of prayer. When I was about 17 years of age, I was kneeling by my bed, saying my evening prayers. Unbeknown to me, my mother was standing in the doorway. When I finished, she said, “Tad, are you asking the Lord to help you find a good wife?”
Her question caught me totally off guard. That was the furthest thing from my mind. I was thinking about basketball and school. And so, I replied, “No,” to which she responded, “Well, you should, Son; it will be the most important decision you will ever make.” Those words sunk deep into my heart, and so for the next six years, I prayed that God would help me find a good wife. And, oh, how He answered that prayer.
So much important wisdom in Tad R. Callister's talk. Here's one more quote: