Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Your Thoughts

This is where we will come together as sisters and share our thoughts. As we listen together to a Prophet's voice we can help one another by our inspiration and insights in the talks we study. Feel free to share whatever you would like.

Relief Society Retreat

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Retreat Recipes

Cherry Delight
Put the following ingredients in a 9X13 pan in this order:
1 can cherry pie filling
1 small can crushed pineapple
1 box yellow cake mix (sprinkle over fruit)
2 cubes melted butter or margarine
1 can coconut and 1 cup chopped nuts mixed together and sprinkle over the top.

Bake at 350° for 45-60 minutes tent with foil
Serve hot or cold with vanilla ice cream

Egg Dish
10 eggs
1 t. baking powder
½ t. salt
1 lb grated cheese
1 pt. cottage cheese
½ c. flour
½ c. (1 stick) melted margarine
1 can diced green chilies

Mix well (9X13) 25-35 minutes at 350°

Monday, April 27, 2009

Reflections of Christ

Family Home Evening

This week's Family Home Evening lesson is on Example. To see the entire lesson go to There are also additional lessons to choose from, just click on the Family Home Evening icon at the right sidebar, near the bottom.

Missionary Corner

From Elder Paul Israelsen,
Chibok? (how are you in the Dinka language) Greetings from the very lush and mild-temperatured city of Kampala! You don't know what you got 'til its gone. And now without any further delay, I am sure you are anxious to hear about Sudan.

We left to fly to Juba, which is the capital city of Southern Sudan- just north of the border with Uganda. The city is just waking up from a long gridlock of war. Southern Sudan had been at war for 45 consecutive years with Arab Northern Sudan until just 2005 when they signed a Peace Agreement. Since then, the city and the country has developed slowly, but the people seem to have hope that things will improve. About half of the buildings there look like they are going to crumble to bits and many had from bombings and battles of the past. We found lots of shelled out tank remains driving around, and many other interesting things. Be grateful for gas prices in US- in Juba its 20$ a gallon!

We stayed at a place called the Juba Grand Hotel, which was pretty nice considering the surroundings, and on Sunday we had the first official sacrament meeting held in Southern Sudan that we know of. It was only us and one other Priesthood holder that lives in the area. Our group consisted of Elder Dube and me, Pres. and Sis. Christensen, the humanitarian couple E. and S. Glenn, and the passport/visa/public relations guy from the mission office named Fred Kitimbo.

We left on Monday morning for a town in the Northwest of S. Sudan called Aweil in a tiny local flight plane and arrived on a big dirt runway in the middle of a desert. Aweil is a small town with no big buildings and one hotel, which we stayed in. All of the people stay in round mud houses with thatched straw roofs and dirt floors- much less developed than here in Uganda. We stayed there Monday night, then hired a couple Land Rovers to go out to a village called Nyamlel.

Ok so heres the story, a couple years ago a Sudanese man named Akol, who had been living in Salt Lake, was converted, and then traveled back to his home village of Nyamlel and told the people there that this church should be their religion and explained a bit. The people took it on faith and began worshiping under the name of the church. Soon it spread to surrrounding villages and now there are 7 "branches" there with about 4500 people calling themselves members of the church, all of whom would be baptized in a heartbeat.

When we drove up to the village in the middle of a barren scorching wasteland with a couple scattered trees and no water in sight, we saw a sign they had made with the name of the church painted on it. And then as soon as we parked, we saw tons and tons of Sudanese children running over to greet us. Apparently there are about 1000 orphaned children that were just recently brought to that area from N. Sudan after the Peace Agreement was signed.

The village organized a primary school for them and they all meet under huge trees that they said will lose their leaves very soon. They all lined up in front of us and sang us songs to welcome us. The words I remember are "How are you visitors? We are together, we are happy to see you!" As I looked into their dust-covered faces and beautiful white smiles I was so touched that I almost burst into tears. I felt God's love and concern for them.

The rest of the day, Elder Dube and I taught the "leaders" of the branches that could speak English while everyone else drove around to other areas looking for where they could drill wells for water. There are no baptized members or priesthood holders there yet because there are no facilities and no missionaries yet. We were completely exhausted by the end of the day from so much teaching in such an environment, but were grateful for the opportunity. The people are so humble and so eager to learn.

The next day, we taught only for a short time, then drove around to the other branches to visit them. Those people literally have nothing but the environment around them. I felt like I was walking around a National Geographic shoot. All the houses are made from sand, mud, sticks, and grass, and people sleep on dirt with only a cowhide to divide them from the earth beneath them. The children and some of the adults don't have any shoes, and most look like they wear the same pair of torn, dirty clothes every single day. The people in each branch were so incredibly happy to see us, and some shouted and others cried. Each branch had constructed their own small church to worship in; they are so devoted to their God and sacrifice so much just to be able to worship Him. I was just in awe the whole time.

Some of the places we visited were so remote that the people had to walk upwards of 2 hours just to get any water to survive. They were so happy to hear that drills were coming for wells that they clapped and cheered every time. It was something I will never ever forget. People cut off from the rest of the world, but still worshiping the same God in the same way that we do. And I know that He loves each and every one of them as much as he loves me and you. I was so grateful to be a part of bringing the gospel to those wonderful people and I hope I get the chance to return.

There is so much more to tell, but we are running out of time cause we have to run some more errands. I will try to send some pictures from Sudan soon. Uganda seems so much more advanced than Sudan- funny how so often we don't recognize how many blessings we have until they aren't there anymore. I don't think I can ever complain about my circumstances again after that experience. I love all of you and I pray that you will have a super awesome week!Love,Elder Paul Israelsen

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Just a thought!

Never be afraid to try something new. Remember that a lone amateur built the Ark. A group of professionals built the Titanic.
Dave Berry

Responding to Persecution with Faith and Courage

Kristi Krueger taught the lesson Sunday. With a look back at the early saints and a look forward to our own time, she reminded us, “Fear not, but be strong in the Lord and in the power of his might.”
The key points of the lesson:
1. The enemy of truth opposes the servants of the Lord, especially as they grow closer to the Lord.
2. Those who love God will bear persecution with courage and faith.
3. God’s mighty power will sustain those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake.

She also shared this story from Cheryl Bonnet:

Lance and Casey are cousins and were marines stationed at Camp Pendleton when Chris & I got to know them. They are both from Indiana, where Chris is from. Casey is the boyfriend of Chris’ niece so that’s how we got to know them. They became part of our adopted family when they were here in California.

The two of them were best of friends since the time they were babies. They were good old Indiana boys and one day when they were 16, they were sitting on a bench under the shade of a tree and decided they wanted to be marines. They wanted to serve our country.

They served their first tour of duty in Iraq together and both returned home with honor to families and friends who were thrilled to have them home. When it came time for a second tour of duty Casey was unable to serve due to a back injury, so Lance went without him. Unfortunately, he did not return home. He was killed in a car bombing along with several other marines.

Chris and I were able to attend his memorial service at Camp Pendleton along with all of his family, who we met for the first time. We got to talk to his fellow marines who served with him. There were many stories but one stood out. We found out they called Lance“ lantern boy” because every night he would go to his tent alone, light his lantern and read the bible. The guys always kidded him and gave him a hard time about this. The Friday before Lance was killed he called his mom and said “don’t worry about me, I know God is looking out for me”. I think of this often- Lance had great faith in Christ and in the similitude of our Savior, who is the light of the world, Lance was also a light to the world. In a very dark and dreary place, Lance's lantern shone brightly. He was an example to others. He knew where true comfort and joy came from in his life and he knew where he would go if called upon to leave this earthly life. He had deep love for his family.

Every year on Memorial Day, we have a lantern that we light in Lance's honor and we remember the sacrifice he made for all of us, a sacrifice that also reminds us of the sacrifice of our Savior Jesus Christ. Every year at Christmas we hang a star ornament with a picture of Lance on it right in the middle of our Christmas tree for all to see. We often have questions about it and we are all too happy to tell about Lance.

I recently talked with Lance’s mom and she shared another part of this story. Lance’s good friend Shiloh (a fellow marine) wrote Lance’s mom about 2 weeks after he died. She said she could just hear the sobs in his words as he told her the terrible thing he did . . . . . he did not pack Lance's lantern to go home with his items. Shiloh said that they just couldn't bear to have a night go by without the glow of Lance's lantern and what that represented to him and afterwards to them. He said he would send it home right away...of course she told him that Lance would want his light to shine for them...they should keep it...they did and Shiloh said they continued to light Lance's lantern each night until they came home. She now has Lance’s lantern. She also bought a dusk to dawn lantern that looked similar to the one Lance had in Iraq. She puts it on his grave to shine through the night as the one in Iraq did.

Lance’s light still shines even though he is no longer with us, just as our Savior’s light still shines, even though He is not still physically with us.

Lance’s story reminds us that we too can be a bright light in the sometimes dark and dreary world we live in.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Stake Relief Society Project "Warm Souls"

Please join the stake for the first “Community Quilting Bee” to benefit families in need in the Escondido/San Marcos area. Our goal is to deliver 100 handmade quilts to Interfaith Community Services by November 20, 2009.

Feel free to join us on any of the dates below:
Day sessions, 9:00am-12:00pm: April 20, 28, May 6, 14, 22, 26, June 3, 11, 19, 22, 30, July 1, 9, 17, 20, 28, August 5, 13, 21, 24, September 1, 9, 17, 26, 28, October 6, 14, 22, 30, November 2, 10, 18
Night sessions, 7:00pm-9:00pm: April 21, 29, May 7, 12, 20, 28, June 2, 10, 18, 23, July 2, 7, 15, 23, 29, August 6, 11, 19, 27, September 2, 10, 15, 23, October 1, 7, 15, 20, 28, November 5, 11, 19

All quilting sessions will be at the Stake Center and all materials will be supplied...just bring a warm heart and helping hands.

No childcare provided.

Creatures of Creation

If you've ever said, "I'm not creative", you are wrong.

Letters from Liberty Jail

We are excited to add Lynn Davis to our teaching circuit. She gave an informative and entertaining lesson last Sunday. In a "game show style" she used "contestants" from the congregation to answer some questions about Joseph Smith's four month imprisonment in Liberty jail (what an oxymoronic name for a jail).

While Joseph, his brother Hyrum, and several others were cruelly and inhumanely kept in a cell not even big enough to stand up straight in, their beloved family and fellow church members were being driven out of Missouri. The emotional pain of what was happening to their loved ones was greater than their physical pain, discomfort and hunger. Even the Judges of the court knew Joseph and his men were wrongfully imprisoned and being served a great injustice but they themselves feared the mob that called for the blood of Joseph.

This chapter is comprised of letters Joseph wrote Emma and the church membership while he was incarcerated. Some of those letters became sections 121-123 of the Doctrine and Covenants. Even though Joseph got to a point where thought he'd been forsaken by God and questioned God, he was given comfort and his faith was made stronger. He relayed this faith to his family and church members. He tried to encourage them to keep the faith themselves as he was given the inspiration to know that adversity lasts only a moment and those who "endure it well" will be rewarded and "triumph over all ...foes".

No one knows complete suffering like the Savior, Jesus Christ. He, too, was falsely accused and imprisoned and ultimately unjustly crucified. Joseph encouraged his followers to reflect on what the Son of Man suffered and to take comfort in what He overcame. They are fighting the good fight and the Lord is on their side. Through the Holy Spirit they are able to receive consolation even in the pit of despair. Quoting from 2 Corinthians, Joseph wrote "For although I was 'troubled on every side, yet [I was] not distressed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed'" May we all tap into the same source of comfort and freedom when we feel imprisoned by the Adversary.

Thursday, April 16, 2009


by Arta Romney Ballif

Multiply, multiply – echoes multiply

Thy sorrow, sorrow, sorrow –

I have gotten a man from the Lord
I have traded the fruit of the garden for fruit of my body
For a laughing bundle of humanity.

And now another one who looks like Adam
We shall call this one, “Abel.”
It is a lovely name“Abel.”

Cain, Abel, the world is yours.
God set the sun in the heaven to light your days
To warm the flocks, to kernel the grain
He illuminated your nights with stars

He made the trees and the fruit thereof yielding seed
He made every living thing, the wheat, the sheep, the cattle
For your enjoyment
And, behold, it is very good.

Adam? Adam
Where art thou?
Where are the boys?
The sky darkens with clouds.
Adam, is that you?
Where is Abel?
He is long caring for his flocks.
The sky is black and the rain hammers.
Are the ewes lambing
In this storm?

Why your troubled face, Adam?
Are you ill?
Why so pale, so agitated?
The wind will pass
The lambs will birth
With Abel’s help.

What is dead?

Merciful God!

Hurry, bring warm water
I’ll bathe his wounds
Bring clean Clothes
Bring herbs.
I’ll heal him.

I am trying to understand.
You said, “Abel is dead.”
But I am skilled with herbs
Remember when he was seven
The fever? Remember how—

Herbs will not heal?

And Cain? Where is Cain?
Listen to that thunder.

Cain cursed?
What has happened to him?
God said, “A fugitive and a vagabond?”

But God can’t do that.
They are my sons, too.
I gave them birth
In the valley of pain.

Adam, try to understand
In the valley of pain
I bore them

This is his home
This the soil he loved
Where he toiled for golden wheat
For tasseled corn.

To the hill country?
There are rocks in the hill country
Cain can’t work in the hill country
The nights are cold
Cold and lonely, and the wind gales.

Quick, we must find him
A basket of bread and his coat
I worry, thinking of him wandering
With no place to lay his head.
Cain cursed?
A wanderer, a roamer?
Who will bake his bread and mend his coat?

Abel, my son dead?
And Cain, my son, a fugitive
Two sons
Adam, we had two sons
Both – Oh, Adam –

Dear God, Why?
Tell me again about the fruit
Please, tell me again

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Missionary Moments - News From Elder Weston

From: David Weston

Well, I got transferred. And what a transfer. Imagine this. Saturday night, I find out that I'm getting transferred, and I'm wondering where in the heck I might be going, because we don't find out anymore until we get to our new area and meet our companion. I'm hoping to go over to Beaumont, because it's close enough to Orange that I could get a ride over to see Don's baptism on Saturday. So, Sunday night, Elder Dowies and I were just chillin' around the apartment, me wondering where I'm going and him wondering who he's getting, when all of the sudden the phone rings, and it's the mission home. So we answer it, and President Moldenhauer is on the other end of the line and asks if he can talk to me. All right, this could be interesting. He tells me that he has a very unique calling for me in the mission, which really could mean anything. Then he tells me that he wants me to be a Spanish missionary. A SPANISH MISSIONARY?!?!?!? What the heck? I've been English for 14 months and now I go Spanish? Spanish missionaries are weird! (All this was going through my head. All that I said was "I guess I can do that.") Plus, I don't speak Spanish that well. And all the Spanish missionaries are way over in Houston, 3 hours away from Orange! Curses! But, as it turns out, Elder Wrigley and I are opening a new Spanish area in Port Arthur, about 15 miles away from Orange. So, I can still go to Don's baptism this Saturday (and I just found out this morning that he wants me to baptize him. Woo-hoo!), and Elder Wrigley's cool. I still can't speak Spanish, but two of my three worries were assuaged quite well. Anyway, to make a short story long, I'm a Spanish missionary now, I guess... And I'm still freaking out about it a little bit. We're living with a member over here in Port Arthur, or Port Arturo as the Spanish put it. (I don't know why it's not Puerto Arturo. I didn't make the rules.) Oh, and our new address is:
3175 Merriman
Port Arthur, TX 77642
We're living with the Estes family, and they're really cool. They keep telling us to eat their food.
Speaking Spanish is really weird! I'm still not quite on top of it. We went over to the Gutierrez family home evening on Monday night, which was my first introduction into Spanish stuff. I almost understood a third of what they said. Every now and again my brain tuned in a figured stuff out, but then I'd lose it again. Methinks I'm going to have to work for a while at this before I pick it up. It gets easier when you have to speak it all of the time, I think. But yeah. Weird. Still slightly surreal. I'm glad it's P-day so I have a few minutes to chill and try to re-connect with reality. It's very far away from me right now. :)
Anyway, Don IS getting baptized this weekend, it will be amazing. Everyone back in Orange is excited for him, and I am too. Still hadn't taught Tina, but we saw her last Wednesday, and maybe Elder Dowies can coax her into coming to the baptism. We don't have a whole lot in the way of investigators here, but the members all seem really excited about missionary work. Either that or they were outraged at having a gringo missionary and I just didn't pick up on it. You never know. :) They're all really nice though, and we've got a couple of meal appointments for the week. It should be good down here.
Anyway, I hope everyone's doing well over there! Haven't heard from y'all in a while, but I figure that was probably from transfers. In any case, I hope y'all have an awesome week, tons of fun, and be good!
Elder Weston

Pray earnestly and regularly for forgiveness and discernment

Our Heavenly Father is eager to grant wisdom to those who ask, seek and knock (James 1:5). Our plea ought always to be what King David's was, " Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me" (Ps 51:10). What greater wisdom could we obtain from heaven than the spiritual capacity to make righteous judgements. Discernment is not just the ability to distinguish clearly between good and evil - as vital as that is - but also a divine gift that equips us to perceive the difference between the unimportant and the important, the fanciful and the substantive, the secondary cause and the primary cause. With God's help we will be given eyes to see and hearts to comprehend.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Monday, April 6, 2009

Family Home Evening

This week's Family Home Evening lesson is on Discipleship. To see the entire lesson go to
There are also additional lessons to choose from, just click on the Family Home Evening icon at the right sidebar, near the bottom.

Joseph Smith Manual

I just received this link from our Stake RS. Counselor, Cid Takagi. Here is an interesting article regarding our current Joseph Smith manual. The manual is even more valuable to me now that I've read the article. I thought each of you would appreciate it.

Just click on the link:

2009 Relief Society Book Club

The Infinite Atonement by Tad R Callister on May 5 (Tues)
The Last Breed by Louis L'Amour on June 4 (Thurs)
1776 by David McCullough on July 2 (Thurs)
The Great Divorce by C.S. Lewis on August 6 (Thurs)
The Last Lecture by Randy Pausch on Sept 3 (Thurs)
5000 Year Leap by W. Cleon Skousen on Oct 1 (Thurs)
The Christmas Sweater by Glenn Beck on Nov 5 (Thurs)

Gardening Class Pictures

Sunday, April 5, 2009