Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Pray Always

Anne Steenblik gave us her "swan song" lesson last Sunday as she leaves us to teach the Laurels. The lesson was taken from David Bednar's last Conference talk, "Pray Always". (This is actually "part 2" from his April Conference address). This talk goes right along with one of our goals leading us to personal purity, that goal is meaningful prayer.

Elder Bednar gives us three principles to help us have meaningful prayer. The first is to council with the Lord in all our doings as Alma admonished. Our prayers are directed to the Father, through the Son and answered by the whisperings of the Holy Ghost. We are taught that all things are created spiritually before they are created temporally. Elder Bednard admonished us to think of our morning prayer as the "spiritual creation" of our day before the "temporal" creation, or what we actually do that day. Evening prayer is when we "report back". We give thanks for blessings received and reflect upon what we can do better. Each prayer is a continuation of each other.

The second principle is expressing heartfelt gratitude. Parents can truly appreciate children who express genuine gratitude. We need to remember that our Heavenly Father would also like to hear what we are grateful for. Elder Bednar invited us to occasionally offer prayers of gratitude only, asking for nothing. He has found that some of his most powerful prayers were ones he asked for little and gave thanks for much.

The third principle is to sincerely pray for the needs of others. Expressing gratitude "enlarges the conduit for revelation" and so does praying for those we love as well as those who treat us poorly. If our loved ones or the ones we serve haven't heard us praying for them, we need to repent. Our capacity to understand and receive revelation will be even greater as we pray for those who despitefully use us. The Savior offered countless prayers on the behalf of others while he was in His mortal ministry. During our last Stake Conference, we felt the power of President Haynie's prayer that was offered on our behalf, and behalf of all those who were fighting to preserve the traditional family.

Elder Bednar testifies that as we "pray always", whether it be vocally or in our hearts, and follow these three principles our prayers will be more meaningful.

The Mom Song

An old favorite, but fun to see again.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Church's Humanitarian Services

From 2001 to 2008 the Church delivered nearly 300,000 wheelchairs in 95 countries. For more on the story be sure to read the current February issue of the Ensign on pages 76-77. Here is a story from that article:
It Wasn't An Ordinary Day by Sister Cathern Roberts
The morning was like any other on the streets of downtown Solo, Indonesia - people came and went, mororcycles dodged between cars, and vendors were setting out their wares. But then I noticed her. A little old woman sitting on a mat with her legs folded under a ragged dress stretched her hands toward me. Her palms showed only stubs wehre her fingers should have been. Her mouth was open, but no sound came out. Her plea was in her tired eyes.

I was deeply moved by the scene, I placed some coins in her tiny palms then started on my way, but something drew me back. I bent down, and putting my hand on her cheek said, "Allah, Berkat Ibu" (God bless you, mother).

We saw her from time to time during the next few weeks, and we would always exchange the same greetings. Then one day, Latter-Day Saint Charities provided us wheelchairs to place wherever we saw the need. I immediately thought of her.

We went to the place where she usually sat, and for the first time I noticed the set of handmade crutches lying on the ground behind her. They were worn with age, and the paint chips that still clung to them indicated they had once been red.

A man who turned out to be her husband approaced us and put his right hand straight out in front of him for me to shake; he was blind. He said he had longed to buy a wheelchair for her but could not afford such a luxury. Smiling, he said, "I can push!" even though he was blind.

The following week we scanned the crowd and could make out the bright white LDSC emblem on the back of her chair. She sat in it proudly, comfortably, and perhaps a little taller.

These words cam to mind: "Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me" (Matt 25:40)

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Turning our Hearts, Binding Family Ties

Thank you Jenn Volper for being our substitute teacher Sunday. Jenn taught a powerful lesson on the greatest power we are offered here on earth; the power to bind in heaven what is bound on earth- the Sealing Power of Elijah.

The lesson begins describing the remarkable event of the dedication of the first temple of the last dispensation. After much sacrifice the saints completed the unimaginable and the Kirtland temple was ready for dedication. Joseph Smith gave the dedicatory prayer which he had received through revelation and where he described some of the blessings that would be poured out on those who come worthily to God's temples. After the prayer, the choir sang "The Spirit of God" and the congregation participated in the "Hosannah Shout" "with such power as seemed almost sufficient to raise the roof from the building". Everyone sensed a divine presence and some even experienced heavenly manifestations. Later that evening while the Prophet assembled with some 400 priesthood holders in the temple, they heard a noise like a mighty rush of wind which prompted the congregation to simultaneously stand. Joseph declared to the congregation that they were in the midst of a host of angels.

Jenn made the point that this manifestation of heavenly hosts was not unlike what transpired at Christ's birth. An event so incredible, so powerful, so important to all of mankind that the heavens could not help but burst forth with joy.

Among the awesome events of that day in the Kirtland temple, was the appearance of Christ Himself to Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery. After Christ had given His approval of the temple, Joseph and Oliver had three separate visions where "ancient prophets appeared to them and restored priesthood keys necessary for the latter-day work of the Lord". One of these visions was so important it had been prophesied by the ancient prophet Malachi and again by Jesus Christ. That was the coming of the ancient prophet Elijah, to restore the keys of sealing and the power to bind in heaven and make a heavenly law, what is bound on earth.

Jenn led a discussion on how this sealing power manifests the Lord's mercy for us. Sisters also shared their feelings regarding what the sealing power means to them. Those who have physically lost children or grandchildren through death, take comfort in the promise of their loved ones being sealed to them so long as they keep their covenants. Those who seem to have temporarily lost their children spiritually can also take comfort in the same promise. Because of Elijah's return to earth, family units can be bound in heaven.

Jenn also led a discussion about how important it is that we turn our hearts to our family members who have gone before us. We talked about how family members who have passed on are still very much connected to us. We heard a moving account of how someone knew a deceased family member is aware of and aiding in a family's current crisis. We need our deceased ancestors and they need us. The turning of our hearts to them will prepare us for the Second Coming of the Lord and ultimately save us.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Next 4 Books for Book Club

Thursday, February 5 "Princess Academy" by Shannon Hale
Thursday, March 5 "Persuasion" by Jane Austin
Thursday, April 2 "Murder on the Orient Express" by Agatha Christie
Thursday, May 7 "The Infinite Atonement" by Tad R. Callister

2009 Enrichment Night & Enrichment Group Schedule

Group Enrichments:
  • Temple: February 26 and July 23 (evenings)
  • Book Club: 1st Thursday of every month
  • Park Play: Resume on April 24--Fridays at Felicita Park from 3:30-5 p.m. (north playground) until June 11
  • Pool Hops/Beach Days: Pool hops every Tuesday from June 23 through August 18 from 2-4 p.m.; Beach days every Thursday from June 25 through August 20 from 2-4 p.m. at Buccaneer Beach
  • Homemaking/Crafts: 2nd Tuesday at 7 p.m. except in October and December with Super Saturday, October 10 from 8:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.
  • “G” Group (Girls, Giggles & Goodies): Tuesday, January 20; July 7; October 20
  • Friday, April 24-25 will be a RS retreat at Israelsen’s cabin
  • Food Storage: 4th Tuesday of every month except no meeting in February, June, November or December; March will be the 5th Tuesday on the 31st
Enrichment Dates:
  • Saturday, February 28 at Stake Center, Stake Relief Society Service Project
  • Tuesday, March 17 at Stake Center, Felicita Ward Relief Society Birthday Party at 6:30 p.m.
  • Tuesday, May 19 at Stake Center, Felicita Ward Service Enrichment
  • Saturday, June 27 at Stake Center, Stake Relief Society Education Day from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
  • Saturday, June 27 at Stake Center, Stake Relief Society Fireside at 7 p.m.
  • Tuesday, August 18 Felicita Ward Enrichment
  • Saturday, September 26 at Stake Center, Relief Society Broadcast
  • Tuesday, December 8 “Giving Tree” (location TBD)

For questions: Cathy Nielsen (

Monday, January 12, 2009

Earthly Stories/Heavenly Meanings

Kristy Krueger taught this weeks lesson, "Truths From the Savior's Parables in Matthew 13". She began her lesson by asking us to remember (or imagine) what it was (is) like to prepare for the most important event in a girls' life, her temple marriage. What would it be like if, after all the planning and preparing for that special day, some of your loved ones showed up without their temple recommends and asked you to put your wedding on hold while they made arrangements to get their recommends. She asked us to think about how we would feel, knowing that these people had plenty of notice ahead of time to be prepared, but they weren't. She asked us to ponder how we would feel, knowing we had to go on with the ceremony without those loved ones. This was Kristy's modern twist on the parable of the Ten Virgins.

In this chapter of the manual, we learn how much Joseph Smith studied the scriptures. He even studied Hebrew so he could understand the scriptures in their original form. His knowledge of the scriptures and the parables they held was so deep yet he could explain the scriptures to even the simplest of minds.

Kristy explained that parables are "earthly stories with heavenly meanings". It is our responsibility to discover how to interpret and apply the parables of Jesus. We are to first study what the parable meant to the people at the time it was given. Then we are to ponder what it means to us, in our life at this time. And finally, to pray to know how to apply what we've learned. Kristy encouraged us to read the scriptures before and after the parable to better know to whom Jesus was talking, what was going on to merit the parable and how the parable helped.

Kristy went on to talk about a few the parables in Matthew 13 and how they apply to us today. She ended with the song "Search, Ponder and Pray", sung beautifully by her daughter Hannah and Collette Knowlton.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Perfecting Our Lives

Robert L Millet wrote: "......Like many of you, I find it extremely difficult to maintain virtue in my thoughts, desires, and actions in a world where the shoddy, the secondary and seductive are paraded before us at every turn.

There have been seasons, however, where I have felt a measure of success in doing so.

As Amulek taught so powerfully, that "this life is the time for [women] to prepare to meet God; yea, behold the day of this life is the day for [women] to perform their labors" (Alma 43:32). God our Father and His Beloved Son Jesus Christ are holy beings, and their pleas and sacred invitation to us is: "Be ye holy in all manner of conversation; because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy" (1Peter 1:15-16)." Church News 12/27/08

Missionary Moments

A message from Sister Deborah Romney

Dear Friends and Family,

A New Year in Nauvoo! Imagine that!! Well, here I am. And I’m having a wonderfully different year from any I’ve ever experienced. It’s been nearly 39 years since Clyde and I packed up our little red VW and headed to San Diego where we would settle in for so many incredibly great years. Now, I am in the middle of American, meeting the most amazing people, sharing the most wonderful stories about people whose trials I can only dream of, and bearing my testimony to all who will listen. It’s a great life!

Winter is here in Nauvoo. In the morning our cars are covered in a hard frost, our fingers freeze when we grip the steering wheel, even through our gloved hands, and the roads are often hazardous and slick. Still, we go on, and get to our Preparation meetings, arrive at our sites, spend 6 hours there hoping for ANY visitors, and anxious to participate in “Rendezvous In Old Nauvoo” two nights a week. Last night we began the rehearsal for “Sunset By The Mississippi” which we will begin performing in early May. By the time we have the amazing numbers of visitors that have come to Nauvoo in the past, each of the three casts will be involved in daily six hour shifts at our assigned site, two performances of “Rendezvous” on two nights each week, then two nights of “Sunset….” before we head home to sleep soundly, only to rise at 6:30 the next morning and do it all again. Everyone says it’s wonderful!! We’ll see.

Attending the missionary ward here in the Nauvoo Stake Center, where the other two Nauvoo Ward meet following ours, is a thrill. Without all of the summer missionaries and performers, we are already a full congregation. Of course, the 70 Temple missionaries are here, too. But, they get an additional 100 missionaries for the six month summer time, and the young lady missionaries (about 24) and all of the summer performers, as well. Then you add the three weeks of the dozens of “Nauvoo Pageant” performers, and we overflow the chapel and Cultural Hall.

The Pageant runs from July 7 through August 1, except Sundays. But, the sites are still open on Sundays so the only day we have completely free of daytime responsibilities is our Prep Day. Mine has been Wednesday, so far. It’s entirely possible that there will be some changes, as five new single sisters are arriving in the next two months. That’s too bad, because the threesome that I am currently in is very compatible and we are in a home with a piano. All three of us are accompanists, so it’s a busy and fun home with people stopping by for rehearsals, or parties. We are actually known as the “wild and crazy” Domino players, so look out!! Nothing like a good game of “chicken foot” to keep an old sister up past 8:30 at night!

It is an honor and privilege, indeed, to be in this hallowed place. On the morning of February 4th, we are involved in an “Exodus” walk down Parley Street following the Trail of Hope that led to the Saints crossing the frozen Mississippi River that same day in 1846 to escape the threatening mob in Nauvoo. That is when so many lost their lives, about 2400 souls. Count your blessings.

Love, from a grateful woman who recognizes the sacrifice made by many so she could have the life she does. I am blessed, indeed. Warmly, Sister R.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Making Personal Purity Our Priority

Sister Proffitt taught the first lesson of the year and laid out her plan for us to achieve our goal this year - to purify our lives. "Our personal holiness matters to Heavenly Father", she said. She encouraged us to take an account of where we are on the path to personal purity. She reminded us that it didn't matter where we were so long as we were on the path and moving forward.

She shared a poignant story of a man at BYU trying to get into his car with a frozen lock. He even went so far as to walk to someone's house and borrow a candle and matches to see if he could thaw the lock. This effort allowed him only to get his key into the lock but it still wouldn't turn. As the evening wore on, the parking lot slowly emptied and his frustration increased. Just as his frustration was reaching it's boiling point, he looked up and saw his car at the other end of the parking lot. He had been trying to get into someone else's car the whole time. Sister Proffitt admonished us to not squander our time doing things that are useless and unfruitful. Our time should be spent doing things that will help us return to our Heavenly Father.

James E. Faust said, "Holiness in part is achieved by conforming to God's will". Sister Proffitt also admonished us to zero in on holiness, to constantly elevate holiness to a daily priority. She quoted Neil A. Maxwell who said "Moments are the molecules that make-up eternity". To make the most of our moments, Sister Proffitt gave us a checklist to enable us to achieve our goal.

#1. Recognize the Voice of the Lord through (a) reading the Book of Mormon, (b) studying the words of the living prophets, (c) MEANINGFUL personal prayer.
#2. Temple Worship. Make the most out of our temple experience by first asking ourselves at the front door if we are worthy to enter and repenting if need be before our session. We need to take advantage of the oasis that the temple provides us.
#3. Consistent FHE. Even if you are a single sister, FHE is required. Sister Proffitt explained the minimum requirements for FHE (1) a song (2) a prayer and (3) a treat. Some days squeeze a lesson in between 2 and 3 and some days you can make it an activity but every Monday night do at least do 1-3.

She ended her lesson talking about the fox and the hedgehog. The fox is always around, lying in wait to attack. The hedgehog goes about it's business without too much care regarding the fox but when the fox does attack, the hedgehog immediately rolls into a ball and sticks out it's quills in defense. We need to be able to spiritually defend ourselves at all times. We can do this by making personal purity our priority.

Saturday, January 3, 2009