Category Archives: Inspiring Talks – Articles

The Ultimate Object Lesson in Preparedness

By Laraine Thompson

Talk about a powerful object lesson in preparedness! This coming July 17-20 the youth of our stake will embark on a Pioneer Trek, Zion: One Heart, One Mind. Youth, ages 12-18 in groups of 20 or more—“families” each headed by a ma and pa—will hike and experience conditions similar to what our pioneer ancestors endured as they traveled over 1,000 miles from Nauvoo to the Salt Lake Valley in the 1840’s. They will hike along the Barlow Trail near Mt. Hood. Each youth will dress in pioneer garb as they push or pull a handcart. They will hike anywhere from 2-10 miles per day. They will sleep each night in tents. Food will be pioneer simple. They will truly begin to understand what it takes to be a pioneer.

Brother and Sister Ron and Sylvia LaFord of the Columbia River Ward are the stake specialists for this event. They, along with their stake committee, have been planning this event for months now. Youth are in the midst of registering for this event. In order to participate, each youth must do a number of things to be ready:

Register for the Trek
Attend meetings with Ma and Pa
Make/Obtain a pioneer outfit to wear.
Find a pioneer story to share on the trek—hopefully about a pioneer relative)
Participate in three hikes in preparation—one 3, one 5, and one 10 mile hike
Prepare a meal using a Dutch Oven
Complete and submit a medical form
Pack and turn in your bucket to the Trail Boss

Each youth has a card with 8 punch out areas representing each of the above 8 items required to participate. Each of these boxes must be punched out in order for a youth to be a part of the trek. The wards are in charge of seeing to it that the youth are as prepared for this event. Just making certain that a card is completely punched is great training! Beyond that, the trek will test the mettle of each—youth and adults alike.

Obviously, there is much more preparation than those items listed above. There will be medical needs, sanitation needs, transportation to and from the trek venue, enrichment activities, spiritual activities. The list is endless. Coordinating this event is a Herculean task. We are blessed to have so many dedicated adults and youth who are willing to put their shoulder to the wheel—literally—to see that this event will be one to be remembered positively for years to come.

We have heard wonderful stories about the experiences of those in our stake who have participated in previous treks in other locations. Throughout the church, a trek is a common stake/ward event. This is the first time that our stake has opted to plan such an experience. We are thrilled for the opportunities that a trek represents and hope that our youth, by participating, will truly learn what it means to be prepared.

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Not For Fun Only—The evolution of Girl’s Camp

By Laraine L. Thompson

By the time this article goes to print Portland Oregon East Stake Girl’s Camp will be a memory. The church’s Girl’s Camp Program has been around for numerous years.

Camp has always been a place for girls to learn to love the outdoors and to build friendships. For a very long time the girls responsibility was to do just that. Somewhere along the way, the church began to see the need for our young women to go beyond merely enjoying themselves in nature. Just as the legacy of Boy Scouts of America was to teach our young men wilderness survival/self reliance skills along with vital leadership skills, the Girl’s Camp program saw fit to require similar skills from the girls participating in a yearly Girl’s Camp.

The Young Women Camp Manual, published in 1992 by the church cites these goals for each young women attending camp:

  • Draw closer to God
  • Appreciate and feel reverence for nature
  • Become more self-reliant
  • Develop leadership skills
  • Respect and protect the environment
  • Serve others
  • Build friendships
  • Enjoy camping and have fun

Now, each of the first four years that a girl attends Girl’s Camp, she learns basic survival skills—camp sanitation, water purification, campfire building and cooking, wilderness orientation, compass reading, first aid. In addition the girls learn about the environment and the ways in which man must care for its protection.

Beginning in a girl’s fifth year of camp, she assumes the duty, as a junior counselor of helping to teach the younger girls the skills she has already mastered. As a junior counselor she hones her leadership skills and learns to be responsible for the care and keeping of those younger than herself. She helps teach the survival skills that she has already learned and in which she has become certified. She guides the younger girls in her group as she develops spiritual devotional material for each night of camp. She helps these girls plan and perform camp fire skits.  Above all else she serves as an example of self reliant competence and devotion to the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

For many young women, Girl’s Camp is the highlight of their year. If properly approached, Girl’s Camp can be the greatest survival and leadership training that a young woman can experience in her young life. The friendships made, the fun along the way, in addition to the superb spiritual experiences to be had are further exclamation marks to a wonderful wilderness week.

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Breaching that Brick Wall

By Laraine L. Thompson 

For many years I, as my father before me, have worked to find the parents of my second great grandfather. He was born in 1813 in Kentucky, probably in one of the many forts erected along the Cumberland Gap trail and beyond. In 1820 he and his family migrated through SW Indiana to SE Illinois. They met or left off many relatives along the way. In Illinois, a will from 1837 lists his mother’s name. He, along with three other, supposed, brothers appear as signers of the will. Their X’s are clearly visible. A history of the county tells of my grandfather’s arrival, along with that of another family. Tracing the genealogy of the accompanying family has produced nothing to tell me more about my great grandfather’s parents.

We, my father and I, had stood at the bottom of that proverbial brick wall for far too long. My father died in 1984, long before DNA testing was available to the masses. Dreaming of finally being able to breach that wall, I was thrilled when DNA testing became a realization. I urged my brother, the only known living male relative on my father’s side to submit his DNA. Testing the Y chromosome is the most accurate way to trace one’s lineage. At first, we paid for the 12 marker test, then the 24 marker and ended, some years later, paying for the 67 marker test. The results arrived and I was excitedly anticipating seeing other men with the same last sir name. My anticipation was not rewarded. I received, and so far, continue to receive periodic updates with the names of matched men who, it turns out, share with me a common ancestor—a long, long, long time ago. We know our haplogroup which identifies us with a very common group of ancestors who migrated from the upper mid east through Eastern Europe, Scandinavia, the British Isles, to America. We are like countless others with the same haplogroup identification. I knew that we were very ordinary people, but reality is still difficult to accept sometimes.

I have this dream that my great, great grandfather will one day stand over my shoulder and dictate to me the details of his life and that of his parents and hopefully, his grandparents. Until then, I will have to content myself with mining and re-mining the depths of the records that are already here. And one day, just one day, someone with the same sir name will appear on that DNA list and my research will begin to make more sense. I have and will continue to join sir name projects associated with the DNA testing sites. Notice the plural use of the word, sites. It pays, pun intended, to submit DNA to more than one site, to join the sir name groups of each site. I have also learned that it is of value to submit my own mitochondrial DNA to better insure a more detailed outcome.

There are a number of genetic testing websites:

 

Several cautions:

  • Testing is not particularly cheap
  • There are privacy issues (there are ways to insure privacy, but what would be the point?)
  • You may find skeletons in the closet (an illegitimate child from some unknown father has DNA totally different from what one would expect)
  • Take care not to overreach when interpreting results, particularly Mitochondrial DNA results

Would I do this again? Absolutely! While there have been no results yet to connect me with that elusive 3rd great grandfather, I know that our DNA is recorded. The technology is increasing in its effectiveness to trace our genealogies. As more people submit their DNA, the data banks increase, thus increasing our chances of a match with the same sir name. Twenty years ago a DNA test was only a dream. Twenty years from now, who knows what might be possible? Knowing that the last male member of my father’s family will be dead, I want his DNA, our family data to already be there. Just as I would prepare for any eventuality by storing water, food, fuel, I want my brother’s stored DNA to one day link us to loved ones who, for now, are only a dream.

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The Chosen

By Laraine L. Thompson

Suffering all of his life from the effects of asthma, my father, in his waning years had what was referred to as organic brain syndrome. Its cause was restricted oxygen to the brain as a result of those debilitating asthma attacks. It resulted in symptoms sometimes similar to those of Alzheimer’s Disease. He would often forget the events of the recent past. It seemed that we were constantly reminding him of the important details of his life, just lived. The one constant in his life however was genealogy work. He never seemed to lose his ability to do it. He indeed was the one who had been called to do that work and as such, he had become on of the chosen….

We are the chosen. In each family there is one who seems called to find the ancestors, to put flesh on their bones and make them live again, to tell the family story and to feel that somehow they know and approve. Doing genealogy  is not a cold gathering of facts but, instead, breathing [another] life into all who have gone before. We are the story tellers of the tribe. All tribes have one. We have been called, as it were, by our genes. Those who have gone before cry out to us, “Tell our story.” So, we do. In finding them, we somehow find ourselves. How many graves have I stood before now and cried? I have lost count. How many times have I told the ancestors, “You have a wonderful family; you would be proud of us.”  How many times have I walked up to a grave and felt somehow there was love there for me? I cannot say. It goes beyond just documenting facts. It goes to who I am, and why I do the things I do. It goes to seeing a cemetery about to be lost forever to weeds and indifference and saying, “I can’t let this happen. The bones here are bones of my bone and flesh of my flesh.” It goes to doing something about it. It goes to pride in what our ancestors were able to accomplish. How they contributed to what we are today. It goes to respecting their hardships and losses, their never giving in or giving up, their resoluteness to go on and build a life for their family. It goes to deep pride that the fathers fought and some died to make and keep us a nation. It goes to a deep and immense understanding that they were doing it for us. It is of equal pride and love that our mothers struggled to give us birth, without them we could not exist, and so we love each one, as far back as we can reach–that we might be born who we are–that we might remember them. So we do. With love and caring and scribing each fact of their existence, because we are they and they are the sum of who we are. So, as a scribe called, I tell the story of my family. It is up to that one called in the next generation to answer the call and take my place in the long line of family storytellers. That is why I do my family genealogy, and that is what calls those young and old to step up and restore the memory or greet those who we had never known before.

                                                                         Della M. Cummings Wright

Continuing his legacy, I too now seem to be one of the chosen. Reader Beware: It can become an obsessive pursuit. Remembering the novel and the movie after the same name, I call it a magnificent obsession. Unlike my father and others of his generation who had to type each record by hand, have it checked for proof and accuracy by two other persons before submitting the content to the church family history department, I use my computer. And with a mere toggle, I am anywhere on earth that might have a thread of information that will identify those of my family.  Message boards/public family trees have connected me to long lost, distant cousins. Many e-mails later, I now have photos to match many of the names in my records. A marvelous chosen one in North Carolina has just sent me a portion of Indiana marriage records to transcribe and return to her so that she can then publish them on a county’s genealogy website for all to see. I cannot overstate the effect that her work has had upon me and the work that I love to do. As a result of her work in Indiana, I was able to solve a 40 year old family mystery. There are countless more just like her. They are just a click away. They constitute people participating in the second most popular hobby behind gardening.

With the internet and ever evolving software programs, genealogy has never been easier to do. Its ease would take what was remaining of my father’s precious breath away! I thank the Lord daily for modern technology which has allowed us to make exponential leaps forward in our ability to access and store vast amounts of information. Even with all of this, New Family Search estimates that roughly only 5% of records have been retrieved and recorded through their efforts. The future possibilities are beyond staggering to the imagination.

 Stake genealogy libraries dot the world. They are staffed by happy volunteers eager to help those who come, most of whom are not members of our church. The libraries are there for all to use. I was in New York City recently and found 3-5 people eagerly working cheek by jowl in a very small Manhattan Stake Family History Library. Every computer, every microfilm reading machine was in use. That scene is being repeated everywhere.

It seems incumbent upon us to add to our list of preparation/intelligent living the ability to do our genealogy. It is so easy and will undoubtedly only become easier with time. In doing so, we may find that we will truly join the ranks of the chosen.

To access the world’s largest online resource for family documents and family trees, click here…

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Establishing a Beach Head

By Laraine L. Thompson

June 6, 1944 is a date with which we older, at least, Americans are very familiar. It marks the anniversary of D Day. It was the day when thousands upon thousands of American and allied troops stormed ashore on the beaches of Normandy, France. It truly marked the beginning of the end for Hitler’s stranglehold over Europe, his monstrous reign of power. The death toll that morning was overwhelming as soldier after soldier fell before ever advancing the beach. Their goal of course was to establish a beach head—a fortified position of power from which they could plan further attack, a position of relative safety from the opposing forces.

My father was a second generation member of the church. Of his three brothers, he remained the only active member of the church. As such, he keenly felt the responsibility to teach the Gospel to his children, to help insure that they would continue in building a beach head of activity and dedication to the Gospel that would give them that position of power and safety from which they could not be moved. He would often refer us to an incident in the life of Count Leo Tolstoy, the famed Russian author of War and Peace:

From the February, 1939 Improvement Era:

In 1892, on a visit to America, Tolstoy asked his American host, Andrew W. White, “I wish you would tell me about your American religion.” “We have no state church in America,” replied Dr. White. “I know that, but what about your American religion?” Dr. White explained to Tolstoy that in America each person is free to belong to the particular church in which he is interested.

Tolstoy impatiently replied: “I know all of this, but I want to know about the American religion…. The Church to which I refer originated in America and is commonly known as the Mormon Church. What can you tell me of the teaching of the Mormons?” Doctor White said, “I know very little concerning them.”

Then Count Tolstoy rebuked the ambassador. “Dr. White, I am greatly surprised and disappointed that a man of your great learning and position should be so ignorant on this important subject. Their principles teach the people not only of heaven and its attendant glories, but how to live so that their social and economic relations with each other are placed on a sound basis. If the people follow the teachings of this church, nothing can stop their progress—it will be limitless.”

Tolstoy continued, “There have been great movements started in the past but they have died or been modified before they reached maturity. If Mormonism is able to endure, unmodified, until it reaches the third and fourth generation, it is destined to become the greatest power the world has ever known.”

My father knew that I and my siblings represented the third generation of Mormons in our family. And like the soldiers on D Day, he was adamant that we should establish a beach head that would protect not only ourselves but those of our family’s fourth and fifth generations. He truly believed Tolstoy when he prophesied if we could do this, we would become part of ‘…the greatest power the world has ever known.”

As I teach my family, as I am actively involved in living the Gospel of Jesus Christ, Tolstoy’s words, spoken repeatedly through my father’s mouth, continue to inform me. So far, the beach head seems to be holding. I think my father would be pleased….

           

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Tithing-A Commandment

By William Bork

President Romney, many years ago, said that if we as Wards would double our Fast Offering, we would double the Spirituality in the Ward. I believe the same is true for our individual homes. Today is the day to rededicate ourselves to pay a full tithing and a generous fast offering.

 Sister Bork loved the story of the widow in the Temple as given to us in Mark 12:41-44. Our Lord used her as an example of a beautiful woman of great worth who was willing to share what she had with others. Verse 42: “And there came a certain poor widow, and she threw in two mites, which make a farthing.” Verse 43: And he called unto him his disciples, and saith unto them, “Verily I say unto you, that this poor widow hath cast more in, than all they which have cast into the treasury.” The widow was probably a woman few people knew or noticed. We know her worldly possessions were few but the Savior was not concerned about these things. He did not look upon her outward appearance.

The Lord values His children for reasons far different than the world. In 1 Samuel 16;7, we are told that he, “seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh on the heart.” My Brothers and Sisters, may we give a Full Tithe and also give a generous Fast Offering so the Lord might bless us in these difficult economic times.

This I leave you in the name of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

The natural man has a tendency to think only of himself—not only to place himself first, but rarely, if ever, to place anyone else second, including God. For the natural man, sacrifice does not come naturally. He has an insatiable appetite for more. His so-called needs seem to always outpace his income so that having “enough” is forever out of reach…,  to continue reading this article entitled ” Tithing –A Commandment Even for the Destitute”, click here

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Abdul’s Christmas

By Seth Doty,

Abdul and his son, Atheer, were two of my interpreters I had my first tour in Iraq. I spent a lot of time with them on different missions. One time, on a base called Al Qime, while we were waiting for the convoy to offload, I saw Abdul quietly sitting, reading a small book. I assumed it was the Koran. I walked over to him and asked, “Put that Koran down and play some cards Abdul?” He looked up at me, smiled and said, “This is not the Koran Sgt. Doty. This is the Holy Bible. I am a Christian man, not a Muslim.” I was shocked! We had a long conversation about how he went to school in the States back in 1977. There he was introduced to the Christian faith and brought it back to his family where they had to practice their faith in secret.

All he had was that little Bible. It was too dangerous to keep anything else around the house. He went on to tell me how he wished he had more, now that he was able to safely show his family, and not just tell them what Christmas was and how we celebrated here in America. They had never seen a Christmas tree or Christmas lights, or hung their stockings, had a candy cane, or even saw a picture of the nativity scene. 

On the convoy back to base I got to thinking. We had so many things for Christmas back at the barracks. It was all just sitting there. When I got back I asked the other squad leaders to ask the Marines to give me anything having to do with Christmas they didn’t want. They gave me a lot of things like toothpaste, soap, shampoo, and all their extra candy. I got some pictures of the nativity scene and some others of Jesus from the chaplain and I even got my hands on a string of lights.

My parents had sent me a stocking with some candy in it, a little Christmas tree and a bag of my mom’s caramel. I put everything in a box to give to Abdul to take to his family. I called Abdul and told him to stop by the barracks before he left for his home in Baghdad for Christmas. He was so happy to look through the box and see all the things that we put together. He placed the box in the trunk of his car, looked up at me with tears in his eyes, smiled and said, “Thank you. Now I can give my family a real Christmas.”

After a few days Abdul was assigned to my squad and I asked him how his Christmas went. He said his family was so happy and, “…it was worth everything to be able to give that day to them.” His youngest son (6 years old) loved the stocking and his wife enjoyed the caramel.

My platoon left the country a few months later. Before we left, Abdul thanked me again and told me he would never forget what we gave him and his family. It was a great feeling to be able to help this man give his family their first real Christmas together.

It didn’t hit me when Abdul told me that “it was worth everything” to give his family that day. To me Christmas was just something that happened every year. I knew what it was, that it was special, that it’s a time for family and friends. But we also get caught up in the presents and the shopping. We all dread the lines and the price of it all. And let’s not forget how hard it is to make it to everyone’s house to visit and exchange cards or presents.

When I get stressed about it all, I stop and think about Abdul and his family. I think about how Abdul gave everything for that first and last Christmas with his family. Two weeks after I left Iraq, he was captured and killed by insurgents. He died helping us free his country so that he and his family could practice their faith openly and celebrate one of his favorite holidays just as we are doing tonight. It’s my wish that we stay calm and not stress about it all. Just enjoy the family and the people you love. I think to myself, what would I give for this?

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Two Christmas’s and a changed Heart

By Todd Doty, POES President

In my fifty-five years on this earth I have had several Christmases that stand out in mind.  I would, however, tell you of two during which I came to an understanding of the love of Christ. 

In 1973 I was sent to England as a missionary for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  In December of that year I was assigned to work in the industrial city of Watford.  I was a young and very self-centered young man.  I was living in the home of an inactive member.  She had three little girls, all under the age of nine.  The house was a Council house, meaning it was owned by the city and the city charged small amounts of rent for those who were poor.  This family fell into these circumstances.  They had about one or two lumps of coal to heat their home per day.  The electricity was provided by a shilling box.  You would deposit shillings in the box and receive a limited amount of electricity.  This would run out at the most inopportune times. 

I was homesick and very unsympathetic to the problems of the family we lived with.  I often thought of my home and our own family traditions.  I thought of Christmas dinner and the great feast I was going to miss.  I thought of all the gifts around the tree and how I was not going to be there to take part as my family would sit around and open them all.   I thought of me and what I was missing. 

The mother of this family came home one day with a Christmas tree.  It was about two feet tall.  It reminded me of the tree Charlie Brown brought back to his friends and they all laughed at him.  I thought how pitiful that she could not even provide a decent tree. 

Christmas Eve came and there were three small gifts under the tree and nothing for me.  My companion woke up Christmas morning at the normal time. We got dressed, had a small breakfast and exchanged a gift with each other.  We then went downstairs.  The family was up; the little girls were filled with excitement over the small little gifts they had received.  To what I was accustomed to, they had nothing and I missed out.  All I could think about was me and what I had missed by not being at home. 

Our Christmas dinner was comprised of some fish and chips.  I left the table hungry and disappointed. 

Looking back, I missed Christmas that year because my heart was closed and my mind was thinking only of me.  I did not see the joy in the eyes of the children, the love their mother had for them or how she had to save to provide the small gifts she gave them and the “large” meal she fed her guests, the missionaries.  I missed it all. 

The second Christmas was different.  We were invited to spend Christmas day with a family in Gilford England.  They lived in a Council house, just as the family I was with the prior year.  They heated their home with coal and had very little, just as the last year.  We arrived at their home and sat down in their living room.  They had a small, poor looking tree, just as the last year.  They gave us each a gift, small and inconsequential, but still something they could not afford.

We sat down for dinner; we had a small chicken and roasted potatoes.  It was the best they could do and they were happy to provide it.  

I felt something that Christmas, something I don’t think I had ever felt.  I missed it the year before because I was all about me.  This Christmas something had changed, and it had changed in me.  I had gained a love of the people in England and for the work I was doing.  As Christmas was coming I felt the love of Christ and his Atonement. 

I came to the realization that Christmas was not about me, but about sharing the love of Christ with others.  I was reminded of the heavenly choirs on the plains of Galilee as the shepherds received the announcement of the birth of Christ. 

After dinner, I asked the family if I could share this scripture with them.  We sat down and I read:

 AND it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Cæsar Augustus, that all the world should be taxed.  And all went to be taxed, every one into his own city.

And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judæa, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem; To be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child.

And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered. And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.

And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.  And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid.

And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.  For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.  And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.

And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.

And it came to pass, as the angels were gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds said one to another, Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass, which the Lord hath made known unto us.

And they came with haste, and found Mary, and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger. And when they had seen it, they made known abroad the saying which was told them concerning this child.  And all they that heard it wondered at those things which were told them by the shepherds. And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told unto them”.  (New Testament | Luke 2:120)

From that day to this, the meaning of Christmas has taken on a much greater meaning to me.  It’s not about me; it’s not about boxes all wrapped within paper or a great dinner or feast.  It’s about a small child who came into this world to save the world and take upon Himself my sins. 

It took me nearly two years to fully understand Christmas and now I have a perspective on it that has changed my life.  I had two experiences.  The circumstances of each were very close.  The difference was my heart.

God bless you, and have a wonderful Christmas.

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The Christmas Gift

By Donna White

On our second Christmas as a married couple, we lived in a small town in southeastern Arizona where my husband was teaching Seminary.  Everything was new and different for us at the time.  There were so many firsts.  This was my husband’s first job after graduating from college; our first home, which left a lot to be desired, having been converted from a TV repair shop to a rental; our first child, David, born just a few months earlier; the first time we had been away from our families for any holiday.  In addition, those first few months of teaching were difficult, as any new teacher can attest.

I was having my own challenges, too.  After being in the 3-room house for a short time we were able to find a larger home.  Even though it hadn’t been lived in for some time, we were glad to get it since there were few vacancies in the small town.  What we didn’t know at the time we moved in was that it was overrun with mice.  I was terribly afraid of mice.  After spending several days standing on a chair in the middle of the large kitchen shrieking while mice ran all around the floor I decided to be courageous and do something about it.  Armed with a sack of mousetraps from the store I set out traps everywhere.  For the next several weeks we could hear loud pops all day long, sometimes one right after another.  I spent my days taking care of a new baby, resetting traps and disposing of mice.  It took one month to get rid of the problem, and then everything in the whole house needed to be thoroughly cleaned.

That winter I was having trouble getting into the Christmas spirit.  I was lonely, being far away from family in the Northwest, dear friends from college, and hadn’t had the opportunity to make new friends.  Since I didn’t know how to drive yet, I was stuck at home most of the time.  It was depressing being in that drafty mice-ridden house day after day. 

But, Heavenly Father, who has his eye on the sparrow, also has his eye on each of us, and knows our names and our needs.  Something happened one day mid-December that completely changed my attitude and outlook.  Early in the morning I opened the front door to take something outside.  There, hanging up on the porch, were two complete outfits of brand-new baby clothes with a note attached, “Merry Christmas to David Marcus White, Love, Santa”.  Rushing into the house, I called my husband, Marcus, to come and see what was on the porch.  We looked at the clothes, then at each other.  No words came for awhile.  Joy filled our hearts as we basked in that wonderful act of love, given freely and anonymously. 

So it is in the eternal scheme of things.  Love of a Father and a Son, freely given to us.  As we experience, marvel, and are inspired by that love, we want to pass it on to others, just like our benefactors.

That morning, another note appeared.  Written on the board in the Seminary room were the words, “Dear Santa Claus, thank you so much for my new clothes.  Love, David Marcus White”.

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Provident Living—A Way of Life

The Ant and the Grasshopper

The wisdom of living providently has been recognized since ancient times. Joseph encouraged the Egyptians to store grain during the seven “fat” years against the lean years to come. From the ancient Greek storyteller, Aesop, comes a fable about the ant and the grasshopper, which illustrates in a very simple way the principle of provident living. In time of plenty, the grasshopper took no thought for what he might need when the winter came. But the ant worked busily, preparing and providing for a time when food would not be so plentiful. The ant could look to the future with confidence, while the grasshopper—if he thought about the future at all—could only hope for the best.

“Provident Living—A Way of Life,” Tambuli, Sep 1987, 7

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Winter Storm 2009 in Western Kentucky

We have had ice storms. We have had power outages. We have many a weatherman say that this could be a “big one”. Most of the time such warnings bring about a rush to the grocery store to purchase an extra gallon of milk and a few extra bags of potato chips.

On Monday night at about 9:00 pm on January 26, 2009 I dropped our oldest son off at Grandma’s house where he would have more one on one attention should there be no school and found myself at Wal-Mart stocking up on groceries. The weather man predicted that this could be a storm where power might go out and it occurred to me that our charcoal grill from the summer of 2008 had been retired with the plans to purchase a new one the next summer. Wal-Mart had just put away Christmas ornaments and was starting to put out gardening and spring-like items and so I picked up the only grill they had which was a table top charcoal grill with a grill top that was about one foot in diameter with two bags of charcoal—just in case it got really bad!

The drive home to Marion from Paducah generally took about an hour. The sleet had started to fall and the newscasters were warning people to get home and stay home. The car tires began to slip and the more I progressed toward home the heavier was the precipitation. Two hours later I arrived home to a worried husband and settled in for what I figured would be a long day or two.

The eight children who were at home were excited to awaken to a snow day! They made plans to sled as soon as the snow would stop. We waited and watched and listened as the weatherman said that a second wave of ice was hitting and that they were anticipating a third wave. Chili sounded like the perfect meal for an icy day so preparations were made for a chili dinner. Just as the chili was heating the lights blinked off for about a minute and then came back on. It was nearly three in the afternoon but we began looking for every flashlight that we could find. The electricity blinked once more and then was gone. We weren’t too worried. We’d had the electricity off for a day or two at a time. This would be an adventure! We put the pot of chili in the refrigerator and ate Poptarts and crackers for dinner.

A thick layer of ice covered everything outside. We had not seen a single vehicle on the road all day and neither of our neighbors had left their houses. The radio warned that a third round of storms was on its way.

The temperature outside was in the 20’s. Although our heat was fueled by gas we discovered that electricity was required to run the central heating system. The house became progressively colder over the evening. At around 6:00 it began to get dark and my husband and I began preparing the children for bed. By 6:30 it was totally dark outside and eerily so since the streetlights were all out. We sent flashlights to each bedroom and made sure all of the kids had plenty of blankets and since it was so dark and cold we all went to bed early.

It was a cold night (around 10 degrees)! The morning brought that third round of storms and, by the time the ice stopped falling there was an inch and a half of ice. The temperature remained in the twenties throughout the day and on our crank radio (which had been a Christmas present just a month ago from my mother) we heard that it was to be in the teens that night. With the ice no longer falling we pulled out the charcoal grill, fired it up, and heated the chili. It was Wednesday and the second snow day in a row. The temperature inside the house made the idea of a snow day not quite so enjoyable. The kids were bundled up in layer upon layer and really just sat around with blankets on because it was too cold to do anything. As I was washing bowls from eating chili I noticed that the water pressure was not so good. I was worried (but not surprised) that the pipes were beginning to freeze. This time opening the cabinets that hide the pipes wouldn’t provide much heat to keep them from freezing and leaving the hot water dripping wouldn’t help either because we have an electric water heater! I hoped that the temperature would come up in the coming days and that the pipes wouldn’t burst in the meantime. We had stocked about eight twenty-four packs of bottled water so we knew we’d be alright for drinking water. Within four hours the trickle of water had stopped completely. We hunkered down for the night with lots of blankets around 6:30 in the evening.

Wednesday morning brought about two inches of snow and a realization that no water meant that toilets would not flush. We had drinking water but had not stored water for washing and flushing. We shut bathroom doors, had little boys go outside to take care of their routine potty needs, and prayed for the water to come on soon.

Wednesday came and went and no one around appeared to be leaving their houses. No cars were on the roads. The world was eerily quiet.

The world was so quiet. No one inside was warm enough to run around and play and enjoy the days off. No one outside was leaving their homes. The ice prevented any vehicle from being able to be on the roads. We had seen no one outside of our home since Monday night.

Thursday dawned a brilliant day! The sun shined without a cloud in the sky. Everything glittered as if covered in crystal. The temperature was still in the low 20’s so not too much melting occurred. The weight of the ice, however, began to take a toll on the poor tree limbs. As we stood in the back door and looked at the glimmering world around us we heard branches and entire trees crashing down in the woods as if some unseen force were chopping away. The crash of the icy branches on the icy woods floor below was constant. The wind blew fairly briskly which added to the trauma.

On Thursday afternoon our neighbor and her son came to the door. She asked if we were all OK. She said that the water pipes were not frozen but that electricity was out in the entire county including the water treatment facility and that there was no water anywhere in the county except those who had wells (and if the wells were run by electricity they wouldn’t likely have water either). Although we were listening to our crank radio for hours at a time we had not heard a single word about what was going on in Crittenden County. Our neighbor told us that her husband had spoken to a neighbor who is a police officer and found out that the county was unable to convey to the media our needs in Crittenden County because all phone and cell phone coverage was down. (Cell phone towers require electricity to operate and electricity was out, except in very few spots, throughout the entire 14 county region) She said, however, that county officials were beginning to estimate that water could be out in our county for up to a month and that electricity would likely be out for at least that long. She said that county officials were encouraging people to evacuate if they were able and to get to the only shelter in the county which was at the elementary school in town if they were not able to leave town. She said, however, that the elementary school did not have electricity or running water and that the National Guard and FEMA had not been able to get into the area yet because of the ice on the roads.

On Thursday afternoon Howard and I made an attempt to dig our van out of the driveway. After an hour or so of attempting we saw that it would not be possible. We did, however, sit in the van for a few minutes (we rotated kids as well) and thawed with the heat on! We were able to hear from the radio that someone from Crittenden (our county) had gotten word to the radio stations that Crittenden was in need of supplies and help to get to people who were having medical emergencies. Ambulances and police cars were unable, at that point, to get to anyone other than those on the main road. Hope was that the National Guard would be able to get to the shelter within a day or so and bring a generator. They were suggesting that if people were able to get to the shelters that they bring their own bedding, food, water, and medications. They could provide no more than a place to stay for the time being.

When we discovered that toilet flushing water would not be forthcoming any time soon we decided to get creative. We lit a fire in the charcoal grill, heated some canned food, ate, and then used the remaining embers to melt snow which we scraped off of the ground. It took four pots of melted snow to flush the toilet one time. That took about an hour.

The sun blessed us again on Friday. By this time all of us were feeling quite grimy (no baths if there is no water!) The temperature outside was still in the 20s but the sunshine had really increased the amount of melting! We put plastic tubs in the front of the house to catch the melted ice that fell off the roof! We used that water to flush toilets! The water was crystal clear and cold (as ice!) and yet we washed our faces, our hands, and my teenaged daughter even washed her hair! Our spirits were high because it was such a beautiful day. We ran in the yard and attempted to build a snowman. In the afternoon we even had a visit from the state police. My family in Paducah (an hour away) were worried because they had not heard from us. Their power had come back on and they had cell phone coverage and weren’t able to reach us. They sent the police to us for a “welfare check”. We told the police that we were all well and alive. They asked what we needed. We told them we had plenty of drinking water for now but that we couldn’t get our car out of the driveway. He said “Join the club!” and left. We continued scraping the driveway and Howard eventually got his car out of the driveway. He drove to town only to find that nothing at all was open. He came home and we put the kids to bed at dark (6:30) again and waited for what Saturday would bring.

The ice continued to melt on Saturday. I drove into town to see if there was any way to get more charcoal and to see if we could find any supplies. One bank in town had opened (still no electricity) and was allowing people to withdraw $50 a day. I withdrew the cash they would allow (one person at a time in the bank and they used flashlights to do the transaction.) One gas station in town was running on a generator and allowing people to fill one car with $10 worth of gas if you had cash to pay. Police officers ushered one car at a time. The line was WAY down the road (maybe a quarter of a mile long). I filled with $10 worth of gas and headed to the grocery store. The grocery store did not have electricity but was allowing people in about three at a time and they would allow you to walk with their cashier who took each item that you wanted and wrote the price of the item with a magic marker onto the item and then added your purchases with a calculator and took cash only as payment. They only allowed people to purchase the necessities… food (no perishables-they were deemed unfit) and charcoal and toilet paper. Everyone was quiet and it was a spooky, ghost town feeling. I went home in awe of how scary a situation it had become.

On Saturday afternoon my aunt and uncle from Paducah showed up at the house. They came and bundled up kids and helped us get the big van out of the driveway. We all went to Paducah to stay with my aunt, uncle, two cousins, my mother, my sister and brother, my brother in law, my nieces and nephews, and my grandmother (that was twenty one people total in the house) who had electricity and running water! We stayed with them through Tuesday (one week exactly from when the electricity went out!) when we came back to take care of our dogs and found the electricity was back on and the water was running (though there was still a boil water order for another three days!)

Some people in our area were still without electricity for another two weeks. It is now May 22 and the cities and counties are still trying to clean up tree limbs and winter storm debris. In the papers it has been reported that the damage to trees will be felt for generations to come.

Howard’s 2 cents: – The total debris (trees/tree limbs) gathered for clean-up so far (May 22nd) for District One in Western Kentucky (which makes up around 4 or 5 counties) adds up to 3,053,615 cubic yards. – 40,000 dump trucks have been used so far in the clean-up process. If you lined the trucks up end to end they would span about 280 miles.

What I had not anticipated: – Though we had enough drinking water, I had not stored enough water for flushing toilets, hygiene purposes beyond brushing teeth. – As the town was coming alive again, having cash was a necessity. We did not keep much at home (usually used a debit card). – Even when places were starting to open again, don’t assume you can get the supplies you need. Everyone is wanting the same thing. It took weeks for some things to stay on shelves again. – This storm isolated everyone (even the county) from each other and the rest of the world. One week can seem like an eternity and there where many who were without power for up to 4 weeks.

What I learned: – You can never be too prepared – Different situations call for different needs, so it is important to anticipate as many scenarios as possible that could cause a crisis – I had always thought about emergency preparedness, but an Ice storm caught me by surprise. You never know what can hit you. – Stay positive, have faith that God will provide you with what you need – I relearned that trials are for us to become stronger in the gospel

What I would do differently: – Have more emergency cash stored somewhere – Have a whole lot more water – Already have a list of things to keep the family occupied (games, etc.) to keep them busy and their mind off of other problems – Talk more with my family about preparedness and potential problems.

What I’m glad I did: – The whole family kept an unusually positive attitude, despite how scary the situation was. We are not a gripey, argumentative family anyway, but given the circumstances, we had an incredibly positive attitude (both parents and all 8 kids) – I’m sure this was due to increased scripture reading and prayers that we had during this time (the extra time in the house gave us plenty of opportunity for this) – Having a grill outside was great and saved us especially for melting ice. (a propane one would have been even better in this situation I think, but we had enough charcoal.

Howard & Willa S., Paducah Kentucky Winter 2009

Close relatives of Brigitte S.

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Filed under 3 Month Supply, 72 hour Emergency Preparedness, Inspiring Talks - Articles, Self-Reliance, Water Storage

Deathbed Repentance

 By Gary L.

Regional Welfare Specialist

 

I was told of a brother who has been inactive for most of his life.  He was approached by his home teacher and asked why he didn’t come to church.  He said his dad forced him to go to church with the family, and when he was old enough to rebel, he said “that was enough”, and refused to go any more.  He and his brother decided they would do whatever came to their minds, and experience all that the “world” had to offer.  They would hurry and repent just before they die and that would solve everything.  He is 70 years old, in good health, and not ready to repent yet. 

 

What about Emergency Preparedness and Self-Reliance?  There are many who are practicing “Death-bed Repentance” with regard to Food Storage and Preparedness.  The importance of following the counsel of the Prophet in this regard is paramount. 

 

We should offer our help to those who want to accomplish the goals of the pamphlet “All Is Safely Gathered In – Home Storage”.  Could you be a mentor to someone who struggles with this goal?  Let’s protect them from the belief that Death-bed Repentance works.  A natural disaster, including a flu pandemic, might confront us suddenly.  It would then be too late to “safely gather in” what we would need to survive.

 

Gary L.

Portland Welfare Regional Specialist

2008 Noah’s Ark Newsletter

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