Showing posts with label church. Show all posts
Showing posts with label church. Show all posts

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Changing Boundaries

            When there are not enough active members attending church, wards may combine as others are done away with.  When there is growth in the church, new wards and stakes are created. I have lived in such areas that affected ward boundaries.

            I am too young to remember when my mom and neighbors were a part of the third ward.  I had always known us as the forth.  Just after or right before I had graduated high school, it was announced that our ward boundaries would be changing as our stake would include members on the west side of state street.  One and a half streets were made a part of the seventh ward.  I remember there wasn't much support in the "sustaining vote" - nevertheless, it was carried out.  

            It wasn't too many years later when I was out on my mission, mom wrote to tell me that another stake would be created and we would have our one and a half streets of members back in our ward.  I remember, sometime after returning home from my mission,  a brother giving a talk in sacrament meeting about a short-lived calling that he had accepted in the 7th ward.  He had been called as a counselor in the bishopric and served for one week before it was dissolved.  I remember him saying he had never been part of a ward that had been dissolved,  let alone had accepted and served such a short calling.  

            Even though the 7th ward had been "dissolved" - it was due to the growth of a new stake. It seemed to be an opposite problem when I lived in Kearns.
            We had a bishop who had compared our ward boundaries to a giant apartment building in which move-ins and moving out happened so constantly that it was sometimes difficult to keep track - especially as the church would continue mailing back church records as it was always the "last known address"  We would even get records of members with addresses that were not even a part of the ward boundaries.  

            The stake lost two wards during the time that we lived there.  I remember one member complaining that she had lived in eight different wards during her marriage and lived at the same address through all eight changes.  Thus when the stake announced that the boundaries would change again, I was prepared to live in another ward.  The change put my next-door neighbor in a different ward than I; she was not happy about the change after having lived in the same ward for over 30 years.

            Before we moved to Douglas County, Canyonville and Myrtle Creek had been two separate wards.  I don't know when the boundaries changed, but the wards were combined and the church building in Canyonville was sold. It takes 45 min to an hour for some of our ward members to get to the building in Myrtle Creek.

            When we moved to Douglas County there were six wards: Winston, South Umpqua, Sutherlin, Roseburg, Melrose and Newton Creek.  The last three all Roseburg wards but none go by those names anymore, but rather names of the dividing streets: Garden Valley, Harvard, North Umpqua, and Parkway.  Growth:  our stake now has seven wards.  South Umpqua, North Umpqua, and Sutherlin are the largest wards geographically. Each ward is geographically larger than the other four wards put together. May we continue to grow.

Thursday, March 22, 2018

Coincidence or By Divine Design - Relief Society

            When I'm teaching primary, I'm sitting down.  When I taught RS, I was standing up.  The sisters have decided to put themselves in a circle, which has its benefits.  I thought I might try walking around and pace myself back and forth as I've seen another instructor do - but my voice doesn't seem to carry as loud as hers nor did I have much of a voice on Sunday and so had to stand behind the microphone.

            NONE of the shoes that I wear on Sunday are very comfortable and so my feet hurt as I neared the end of my lesson and later on that night I was experiencing back pain.  I blame the shoes.  I think Roland would blame my weight.  Probably a combination of the two.

            There are posts on either my own or my brother's blog which provide several reference to everything I discussed in my lesson - well almost everything.  

Dear Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin spoke of an occasion when President Thomas S. Monson said to him: “There is a guiding hand above all things. Often when things happen, it’s not by accident. One day, when we look back at the seeming coincidences of our lives, we will realize that perhaps they weren’t so coincidental after all.”

            After I had passed around the photos of my mom and dad found in this post, I shared an experience that Roland and I had while he was a realtor.  He had made appointments for showing clients houses that were still occupied by their owners.  The clients noticed a newly listed house across the street that hadn't been on Roland's agenda because  he hadn't known about it, but as it was also occupied, he might have to make arrangements for another appointment and return at a later date.  As it turned out, the owners were gone and we were able to go inside.

            The interior of the first house seemed to have dark walls in most of its rooms.  No photos on the wall.  Just a couple on a night stand.  I thought it seemed poorly lit. The house across the street was the same exact floor plan except in reverse.  And with brighter walls.  A great big picture of an LDS temple (though I forget which one; the picture was definitely the largest I have seen - exceeding the entire length on the couch) LOTS of photographs and "families are forever" themes. It was roughly 20,000 more than any other house they looked at.  But it's the one that they wanted.  Was it a coinsidence or divine design?

"But remember, He has always used ordinary people to accomplish extraordinary things" - Ronald A. Rasband,  Oct 1, 2017

            I'm sure that to most people my dad was as ordinary as they come.  He was a very quiet man which I have mentioned in a post I created  the year that I started my blog. Even though we lived in the same house for over 30 years, talking to dad was often like pulling teeth.  Most of what I had shared with the sisters was second or third hand information from sources other than my dad.  I shared a bit about my dad's upbringing and his not having a testimony of the gospel - or perhaps it was just the church itself that he had strayed from.

            He was quite studios and a very good student.  In 1955 he'd been offered a full scholarship to BYU but had turned it down in order to join the navy - which he loathed.  He had joined the navy chori and had enjoyed that.  The nation was between wars and so he was never involved in active duty.  I don't think he had even left the country, but I could be wrong. Overall he really did not appreciate his time in the service.  Since he didn't talk about it, we can only speculate about what we think it was.  I think he may have found the vulgar language and lack of ethics among many of the sailors to be upsetting.

            I think my dad used Church as an escape from the navy.  One fast and testimony meeting he remembers a girl of about ten years of age (this is one of the few sources I have directly from my dad's own mouth) bore her testimony and said she knew the church was true, and he thought  - "If she can know, I can know."  And he devoted more time into finding God and getting reacquainted with the LDS faith.

          One night he was given permission to go to a Church dance.  There he met my mother.  They were married 14 years later.  They were married in Los Angeles Temple and had their wedding reception in the Church in the photo I had passed around where my father had had his picture taken 12 years before.  I don't know if my dad made the connection.  Probably not. I don't remember having seen the photo until my brother Corey posted it.  Had this all come about by coincidence or by divine design?

"Our lives are like a chessboard, and the Lord moves us from one place to another—if we are responsive to spiritual promptings. Looking back, we can see His hand in our lives" - Ronald A. Rasband,  Oct 1, 2017
              I then asked the sisters:  "How many of you have ever made plans about where your life was headed?  You work so many years of your life to stay on that path toward your goal and all of the sudden there is that fork in the road.  God may nudge you to go one way or perhaps you believe you made that choice on your own.  And one day you look over to where you could have been and compare it to where you are on the road right now and think:  "Hey, wait a minute.  I'm supposed to be over there on that path.  I don't think I like where this path is taking me"

            I asked the sisters if any would like to share an example.  When nobody did, I continued. The next example I shared was about Diane Ellingson. I had breifly mentioned her remarkable triumphant found here.  You can also hear her life story in her own words in a two part video fournd here.

"Sometimes life is hard and seems unfair but you are only defeated when you stop trying." - Diane Ellington Smith

" Most often, our good works are known to only a few. They are, however, recorded in heaven. One day, we will stand as a witness of our whole-souled devotion to works of righteousness." - Ronald A. Rasband,  Oct 1, 2017

            I also shared some examples about how often when we ask for blessings, God will send us the tools we need to acquire that blessing.  I used the example of Princess Merida from Disney/Pixar's "Brave"  here.

            I concluded with a poem Corey had written which could be used to desribe almost every "ordinary" person.  His poem can be found both here and here.

            Other references for my lesson include: 

Ronald A. Rasband
                                        talk found here

                my comments from talk found here


Mom &Dad

                                 great pictures here and here

                      dad's service in navy and awesome tribute by Corey/Cody here



                        trailer for Brave here       

Monday, January 29, 2018

Who is To Blame?

            I was on my mission when Howard Jones released "No One is to Blame" found here. Whenever I heard the song I would visualize a lower to middle class young man who had taken a job at a country club.  He has his eyes on one of the members - a girl from a prestige family background.  He would like a relationship with her and she with him, but as they are labeled into upper class and lowly servant, there is no relationship other than "client and worker"


            I now hear this song expressed in some talks given by various leaders - particularly when the talk is geared toward the family.  How many others can hear these words (symbolically of course)?

            I am grateful for the ward members that I think of as family as Roland and Jenna are my only biological family in this state.  Unfortunately not all wards are the same.  There are a wide variety of members and there are some who offend - even when it's not intentional.

Thursday, June 29, 2017

If Dead is the Look they were Going For, They have Succeeded

          Though I have had a small hand and say in making funeral arrangements, I have not had the opportunity of having to find a mortuary nor have considered every financial expect.  Before either of my parents had passed, there needed to be a record of what funeral home to contact should they expire.  My dad lived out his final days at Cottonwood Hospital in Murray, Utah.  Ironically, he had also been born there (or so I was told) but at that time it had been called Cottonwood Maternity Ward and wasn't the full blown hospital where he had died.     
          Mom had used a local mortuary as a contact I’m guessing because it was familiar territory as it had been used by other members of our ward.  Before mom passed, Corey had made arrangements for Premier Funeral – though none of us had heard of it before, it really does seem the most economical way to go. 

          Premier doesn’t offer a chapel or a show room in which members can walk around and look at caskets.  They offer a catalogue – which I suppose doesn’t go over well with some people, but Corey and I were fine with it.  Premier has a lot to offer – for one thing the body is embalmed right away – at least where it is possible. (autopsy would be an exception)

          Jeanie was already gone when the paramedics arrived.  Possibly before she fell- or why she was falling.  Her mother said that seven clots had been found in her lung(s) and not just one.  I don’t know what shade she was when the paramedics arrived or how pale she must have gotten in the morgue.  It feels a bit morbid wondering. 

          I was not impressed with the makeup job - but I have no idea what of Jeanie's facial condition when she arrived to the mortuary.  Perhaps they had done a marvelous job with the "canvas" given - I just didn't see that.  Mommy and Daddy had looked so natural, so peaceful, as though they were sleeping.  Jeanie looked like a corpse – like in a really low budget movie when everything looks fake.  It appeared that she had jaundice underneath the make-up.  It was hard seeing her like that.

          Biff had never been involved with any plans concerning funerals – except when we had asked him to be a pall bearer at my mom’s.  But that was the extent of it.  He had never gone to look for a casket or a burial plot.  I’m sure the funeral home they went through was the same one his in-laws had used when they had buried their other two children.  It was right next to – perhaps even part of the cemetery.  I think Biff just went along with what they wanted.  What did he know?  They had been through it before.  Roland and I have both gone through it, but we weren’t there.  We weren’t involved with the decisions or give advice or hold our son’s hand.

          I don’t know that his in-laws would have felt comfortable using Premier as they had the viewing in one location and the funeral in another.  The mortuary was in a familiar place where family and loved ones had already gathered.  They would have had to make arrangements for another chapel with Premier. But I think they would have saved a tremendous amount of cost.

          My son, Randy, had set up a fund for Biff and his daughter – a plea to help pay for expenses.  The goal was to hit 5,000.  3,000 had been raised in eight days by 62 different people. I cried every time I would see donations being made.  I know there were many who knew Jeanie personally, but still many that did not know her at all.  Some hadn’t even known Biff for that matter, and that touched my heart.  My nephew, Brian, was the first to contribute to the cause.

          I don’t know how many chapels and "comfort" rooms the funeral home offered.  I would guess at least seven.  It felt as if there had been seven different viewings all scheduled for Sunday night.  Perhaps there had only been four or five.  We had to pass them all in order to get the room where Jeanie and family were waiting.  The lines were long.  I’m sure that is why they had put us at the end.

          When mom died, we had her at the Relief Society room in the building where she attended church.  We were there Friday night and the mortuary took her away and brought her back the following morning and then we moved into the chapel. Premier had driven her back and forth.  I'm not knocking the full blown centers but am in favor of using Premier again.  They did an awesome job for us.  I was overwhelmed by the amount of traffic involved with Jeanie.  I never felt overwhelmed with Premier.  The situation was always calm and respectful. 

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Jesus Wants Me for a Sunbeam

        I have two callings in the ward which I currently attend.  I was pining for a position as an instructor in  Relief Society.  The primary was just a bit quicker about snatching me up for a position.  I had agreed to substitute teach the sunbeams only the week before I was asked to be a teacher for the sunbeam class.

        Emily was not there the first week that I taught, but has been there every week since.  Quite shy at first because she didn't know me.  She was okay if there was another classmate in attendance.  But for the most part it's just been me and Emily.

        She reminds me of my granddaughter, Ester, though I wasn't given the opportunity for spending much time with Ester.  I am reminded of her smile and her great knowledge as I spend time with Emily, who often pretends that she is a horse.

        Before I left Utah, my ward calling was the activities director in Relief Society.  A calling I really wasn't comfortable with as I found it hard to find diverse activities to include all the sisters and felt frustration when the scout leaders or activity leaders did not support the activities in RS because they were serving in their own callings.  I thought that schedules should be alternated one every other month so that they could attend. 

        The last activity that I semi-coordinated, I was unable to attend.  I opted to go to the viewing for my uncle and had told the RS president that I could either help set up or attend the activity.  We opted for my setting up.

        I have asked about the attendance and how  the activity had gone.  I am still waiting for feedback. I don't think it was well attended.  I feel bad as it sounded like it was really fun.  

        I have always enjoyed being on the activities committee.  Just not being head chief.  Right now I am once again serving on the committee and have received a better understanding about why I may have been called to chair up the activities in my last ward.  To utilize the talents I was given in my Utah wards and bring them to Oregon. 

        We have an activity tonight.  I hope we have the same attendance that we had in July.  It was my first activity here and was very well attended.  But the last activity was not.  They don't have to share their building with other wards or be assigned certain days in which all activates fall.  They can spread out all week.  They can leave all of their kitchen utensils in the kitchen and not worry about another ward messing with it.

        In February, we are going to try out the activity that I had advertized for in May and June.  The second counselor in the RS is very excited.  I think it will be a great activity.  I hope that one is well attended. I'm impressed with the sisters who are willing to make the drive.  There is more distance to travel here than back in Salt Lake - where I could literally pass over 30 LDS buildings in the time it takes most of the members just to get to one.

        I like it here.  I am happy in Oregon.  I am happy at our Church.  I am happy to be part of a ward family.  I am happy to breathe clean air.   

Sunday, October 18, 2015

I Am Their Sounding Board

For the last two weeks, Roland has announced that he has so much lesson to cover that he expects he will run out of time before he runs out of material.  He teaches gospel doctrine or the adult Sunday School - which I have actually never taught before, and so I don't have a first hand account of teaching gospel doctrine. I have taught gospel principles before, and there was one time I substituted for a sister in Relief Society.

My lesson was based on two different talks - oh, as if I'd really have time to do both.  Well, I suppose I could have if I hadn't had the participation I'd been searching for.  Both talks were really good, but I had leaned more towards one than the other as one seemed more general on being an example and the other covered eternal marriage and forever families and I just didn't want to teach the forever family theme that I loathed hearing when I was single for so long.

Of course I would like all of my lessons to be inspired as I present them - that the Spirit may take over and not just words and emotions according to LaTiesha Cannon.  I did make room for the second talk if I needed to stretch out my lesson into the alloted time frame.  There are so many single sisters who attend the ward I last attended while in Utah,  I prayed for direction as I presented my lesson.  I taught the way I always do - by asking questions.

After sharing the first story from the first talk, I asked my first question. It was a personal one.  I had asked for someone to share a part of herself.  After a hushed silent fell upon the room, I shared an experience of my own, using my own dad as an example and what I had learned from him.  I became emotional of course - but it seemed to extend the invitation even further, for other sisters started to share their examples.  It was a beautiful lesson.

I had actually given it the very day I had been called to be the RS activities director - which is not a calling I felt comfortable about - but I had to accept it.  I felt like the outcome of my lesson was riding on my accepting the position.  If I accepted, I would be guided by the Spirit to give a lesson powerful enough to reach out to those who needed the lesson. If I didn't accept, I would stand like a fool, present both talks in a non-powerful way, run out of material long before running out of time and feel humiliated and not at all humble.

The subject of eternal marriage came up, and one of the sisters did complain about the topic and expressed the same feelings that I had had for so many years - and I understood what she was saying.  We became really good friends after that.

It's funny how two teachers can look at the same lesson and think, "How am I ever going to teach everything that is in this lesson?" or "What else am I going to use to fill up the time?"

I remember my mom saying that she had been called as a Releif Society teacher and felt quite out of place teaching other sisters who she felt were much stronger in the gospel than she. She said that when she gave her first lesson, she didn't ask questions or allow participation.  She said she had finished 20 minutes early.

Over the years, she learned about how to give a lesson and to prepare for extra time - or in the case of cultural refinement (that used to be a subject of lesson taught the forth Sunday of each month) she would use me as a sounding board and a plant in the audience to ask and answer questions if there was no other sister willing to participate.  It was okay when I was actually allowed to go to Relief Soiciety (seems like I always had a calling in primary) but the feedback was not the same when I was on my mission. 

Mom would detail her letters with what she had read and what had been outlined for her to teach.  By the time she'd get a letter back with my input, she had usually given the lesson already and was working on the next.

Mom persisted in doing her best to fulfill all of her callings.  Unfortunately she was always comparing her methods of teaching to others - which isn't right.  There's a reason that each of us is called to serve in whatever position - and sometimes only a certain individual can touch another in a way that no one else can.

After Roland and I were married, Lily and her husband started going back to church.  Lily loved when my mom taught the lesson.  Mom was taken aback to hear her say that.  Everyone loved it when Peggy taught - or so mom believed.  But Peggy often went over Lily's head.  Lily liked my mom's lessons better because they were easier for her to understand.  We all related to different people in different ways.  And that's a good thing.

Many people love and feel comfortable with Roland.  But I suppose there may be a few who feel intimidated with the way he presents himself - and that's okay.  Roland can reach certain people that others can't - and there will be people who are touched by others that Roland might not be unable to reach - or his teaching methods rather.  

It's not a contest to see who can get the most followers.  We're put in positions to be used for tools to assist others.  Not all tools work the same though they can have the same purpose in the final result of what is being built.

So now I'm Roland's sounding board.  I don't attend his classes as I am in the primary - again.  I have my own lesson to teach - which is very different from the one he gives.  And so is my audience.  I have one to two three-year-olds that I "try" to teach.

Today we had our primary program.  I enjoyed practicing for it for the last two weeks and not having to prepare a lesson that often feels like I've prepared for in vain.  But I know there is a purpose for this calling.  As of now, I don't ask of anyone to be my sounding board - not on lessons anyway. I have relied on Corey to be my sounding board in life.  Is that the same? 

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Picking Pears in Medford

While living in Salt Lake, Roland and I had several opportunities to assist with the welfare program.  When Jenna was in first and second grade, I tried going to the cannery at least one a month. For the most part, the items were actually in bottles and not in cans - at least at the one I went to.

I have been to another location that does actual cans - food like chili, beans, tomato sauce - mostly messy stuff.  Roland and I would work as a team at the pasta plant - or I would team with one of our boys.  We'd assist at the dairy, storehouse, and DI.  All of these locations could be driven to in 20 minutes or less. 

In Oregon we don't seem to have as much opportunity to assist with the Church's welfare program due to our location.  Even to be recipient of the welfare program is a lot different from driving oneself to the storehouse to pick up an order.  From what we are told, orders are shipped from a city larger than Roseburg.

We have not had the need to be recipients of the welfare program in Oregon - and hopefully will not have to rely on that. We had been recipients in Utah probably at least half of Jenna's life (different years off and on). There isn't anything wrong with being recipients - except that it indicates to me tha we are financially disabled.  At the same time I LOVE church cheese and BYU creamery chocolate milk and many products that we get at the bishops storehouse.

The bishops storehouse offers a lot in the way of fresh produce as well as canned goods.  We have had many canned good put out by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.  Beans, spaghetti sauce, soup, assorted canned vegetables, jellies, honey, peanut butter, fruit.  Of the fruit, we mostly liked the canned peaches and pears and applesauce.

I don't recall a welfare project in which the members canned fruit in Salt Lake. Today I learned that the pears are canned in Idaho.  I have also been told that the Church's only pear farm is located in Medford, Oregon. We were told that 80 volunteers from our stake (church boundary) were needed to pick pears today.

Originally we had planned on taking Jenna with us and have her pick pears with us.  We were told that the youth had to be at least twelve and Jenna just turned eleven in April.  I had tried to make other arrangements for leaving her with someone, but ended up taking her anyway. 

I set the alarm for 3:20 a.m.  We were on the road by 4:00 a.m. and arrived in Medford just before 5:30.  We signed in at 5:30 to 10:00.  We were also told to give ourselves credit for the three hour travel (or whatever other amount was given.)  We ended signing Jenna up to pick with us, no questions asked.  She was fine.  The farm was fine.  No harm. No accident.  I saw some youth there that looked to be a lot younger than her. And I saw some who were obviously in the Young Men's program that weren't working with the same effort that Jenna put in.

Jenna and I had picked pears before at my mom's house.  Picking from an orchard is a lot different than having Brian or Patrick shake the branches while the rest of us glean from the ground.  The government has placed stipulations and the Church is not allowed to use pears that have fallen to the ground.  That is so sad as the amount of pears that have fallen to the ground were many - pears that are still edible.  Pears that fell to the ground when another pear was picked. It was hard having to leave them on the ground.

In addition to her pear tree, my mom also had at least two pine trees in her backyard (they were put there before I got married and continued to grow long after I moved out)  I remember that she would offer to pay the younger grandchildren a penny a pinecone.  I think pears may have been worth more.  I know I spent more time gleaning pears from the ground than picking them off the tree.  I think that honor went to Patrick's family.

The rows of trees were long.  They seemed to get longer as the morning hours pressed forward.  The length between the last pear tree that weighed my bag to "too heavy for comfort" and the bin in which to "carefully let the pears out of the bag" seemed like miles. Their goal was to fill over 100 bins today.  Surely they met their goal before we left Myrtle Creek.  Our stake was told to work the hours between 6:00 and 12:00.  When we arrived, we were told that they wouldn't shut down until after 2:00. 

We had also been told that we'd have access to doughnuts between 8:00 and 10:00.  That's what we were told.  Fortunately we weren't there for the doughnuts as the doughnuts were non-existent.  However we were hungry and had been before our last shift. We stopped off at a McDonald's on our return.

Jenna had been invited to a party that took place at Stanton Park in Canyonville that took place at noon.  Instead of going directly home to Myrtle Creek, we stopped off at the park so that Jenna could be with her friends.  It had been such a long morning and I was so very tired - of course Jenna is the Energizer Bunny who continues to go and never wears out.

The expectations for the party were placed at a much higher value than what actually took place.  I felt bad as I know a lot of planning went into it, and I think everybody made the best of the situation at hand, but I did feel bad for Callie's mom (Callie is the birthday girl) as she had spent several hours preparing for the event -  a lot more hours preparing than what was actually spent.

Though we had arrived 90 minutes after the party supposedly started, the potato salad didn't actually arrive until after we did.  By then, almost everybody had finished eating (though some of the adults did return to get some)

Though the kids seemed to enjoy the idea of having a colored-water fight with water guns and blasters - it was very short lived.  The piñatas that were made came down after only two whacks.  No one else received a turn at whacking.

Though the piñatas themselves seemed well made, not everybody got their fair share of candy as some of the greedier children loaded their bags leaving no thoughts for the others.  Jenna managed to grab three pieces.  The birthday girl ended up with an empty bag.  So all the bags were dumped into the middle and divided up evenly.

I think the most fun that anybody had was in playing "Red Rover" which I think was just an impromptu game that was suggested while Josie and her husband set up for the water activity.

Roland and I, both tired, didn't want to stay for any of it really.  By the time the cake was served, we were more than ready to leave.  But Jenna wanted to stay as Callie hadn't even opened her presents. Casey and Carley's mom said she would bring Jenna home if we wanted to leave.  I expressed my gratitude and told Jenna about our plans.  Just as we got ready to leave, Jenna expressed her desires to go with us.  And now we are home and I am ready to call it a night.

Monday, January 26, 2015

If you can’t question your religion, Why Are You In It?

         I don’t know if I had met Kelly prior to the being called to serve on the activities committee.  The first activity I remember being involved with was a “food storage/budgeting made-fun activity” Kelly played Betty Barker and I became the emcee who drew the names of contestants and invited them to “come on down”.

         Even then she was struggling with the Church and her family life – desiring to connect the two but feeling torn with her beliefs.  Her husband showed no sign of ever wanting to be involved with the Church or even anybody who belonged to it.  Perhaps Kelly wasn’t even active when they met but gradually came around with a desire for having God and direction in her life – perhaps not necessarily the “Mormon Church”

         That was five years ago.  And she continues to battle with herself and her maintaining a comfortable relationship and self worth which she is not finding in the Church.  I understand.  Perhaps not completely.  But I do understand why she would leave – although she hasn’t withdrawn completely.

         Her husband still gives her no support as far as showing any interest in church or church members.  I didn’t even know what he looked like until the other night when I glanced at him through the window.  He had heard we were coming and made his “get-away” before we were even out of the car.

         Kelly’s last calling had been a counselor in the primary.  Not where she wanted to be, but accepted the calling believing it would keep her on the path to and at that the Church is where she needed to be – until she was asked to create the program for the 2014 “Families are Forever” theme.  That became the straw that broke the camel’s back.  It wasn’t in her heart to create a program that she herself felt discriminated against.

         Actually, I had wondered how the majority felt as many of the primary children are from broken homes, inactive or part member families, many with barriers that seem to prevent the traditional “families are forever” theme. 

         Elenore sat on the stand near the pulpit, to help the children with the lines they might have forgotten. I wondered if the program had been difficult for her as she and her husband had divorced long before I had even met her. She’d gone back to her maiden name rather than identifying herself with her married name.  She has custody of their two children, but he has visitation rights.

         I hadn’t even paid attention to Kelly’s absence as I watched various children get up and recite lines that just didn’t seem to fit in their current living environment.  How many of them believed in the words that they said?  How many struggled through that program?  I did.

         Kelly’s youngest son and Jenna have often played together.  Kelly had told me about sending her son to a water park all summer.  I had been dragging Jenna to Kearns with me last summer.  Perhaps “drag” is not the correct word as she really did enjoy being with her cousins.  But I know she would have loved spending summer at a water park if given the opportunity. 

         I had asked Kelly if Spencer would be returning to the water park this summer and thought I would look into a pass for Jenna.  I thought we had talked just last month, but then she disappeared.

         I was substitute teaching the last three weeks of December.  I think there were five or six names on the role in Jenna’s class, but it was usually just Elenore’s son and Jenna.  Spencer wasn’t there during the three weeks I had taught.  I sent Kelly a message to inquire if she and her family had been out of town for the holidays.  Turns out she is actually attending another church – one that doesn’t push the “Families are Forever” theme.  One that doesn’t make her feel discriminated against.

         I had the same struggles when I was single for so long – not as long as several sisters in the current ward I belong to.  I was married at 39.  There are several sisters in my ward who are much older that have not had opportunity to marry – or perhaps they have and it just didn’t feel right with choice of partner.  I don’t know.  I know that there are several who feel discriminated against when lessons are given on eternal marriage or husband/wives relationships.  It’s hurtful to hear when that very thing doesn’t seem to exist in the earthly future.

         I recently read that divorce is 50/50 but that a marriage needs to be 100/100.  And there are some couples that each give 100% and then there are other couples in which one does all the giving while the other does all the taking.  I can only control what I give, but I cannot control what another might contribute.  Roland contributes 100% - perhaps more.  But not everybody has that.  Not everybody has the support from family members.  Not everybody gives 100%.

         Hannah moved into the ward about a year after we did.  For the longest time I believed that she was a single parent as I never saw her with a spouse.  She was diligent about coming to meetings and activities though it was challenging at times.  It wasn’t known to all that there were struggles, for Hannah wore a smile on her face and pressed on.  One day she announced that there were struggles and coming to church wasn’t easy. Her husband didn’t wish to attend church with her.

         When Asher (her son) got closer to turning eight, he begged his dad to please come back to Church so that he could baptize him.  Thus after eight or nine years of attending Church on her own, Hannah’s husband finally came around.  He is the one who baptized Asher.  Endurance.

         So where is Kelly’s reward when she has seemingly had to endure even longer?  Why are there some whose trials seem to outlast their faith while others seem to be rewarded in just a matter of minutes?  How many of us feel that we have been or are being dealt with unfairly?  For how long must we endure?

         One of my biggest hang-ups in this “pushing family” church is the discrimination that seemingly takes place at the temple.  The sealing ceremony in which only the worthy temple recommends holders can participate.  All loved ones who are not temple recommend holders are allowed to wait in the lobby but cannot witness the special event because they don’t have recommends.  They have been labeled “unworthy” How do you explain that? 

         I was married civilly over three years before I was sealed.  The civil marriage was a lot more personable.  I enjoyed having guests at my wedding that otherwise couldn’t come to see Roland and I exchange vows.  I don’t like to feel excluded because I don’t have a recommend (or didn’t; not when Patrick married.  Not when my cousin married her first husband) and I don’t wish for others to feel that way.

         What does a “Forever Family” mean in my case?  That the boys will go with Roland and their mom?  That Jenna will go with Roland and me?  And what’s to become of Roland’s oldest two girls?  They were born under the covenant?  But do they sense that now?  Do they even know what that means?

         The boys are adults with spouses (soon families) of their own.   How does that work?  Are they always going to reside with us in the hereafter or will they go with their wives’ families?  I don’t think our concept of “Families are forever” will be the same as what we may build up in our minds.  We are required to have faith that it will all work out.  God’s kind and men’s kind are very often not the same.

            Denise shared her testimony after her forty plus years of struggles – though not with the Church.  She had been baptized when she was 19.  The ward bishop had called her into his office to call her as a primary teacher.  But there was a condition that came with accepting the call.  She would have to stop dating her boyfriend.  It wasn’t because even because he wasn’t a member, but apparently the bishop objected to his race.  I don’t know if she saw that as discrimination coming from the Church or just that particular leader.  It wasn’t right that he had told her that.  She left the Church and did not return until over forty years later.

            The elder missionaries showed up on her doorstep shortly after she lost her dad.  She was in a state of depression.  She had answered the door in her pajamas and commented that one elder in particular was dead set about helping her.  She said she needed her dishes done but didn’t have any soap.  The elders dismissed themselves but said they would return.

            When the elders returned, they brought back some dish soap along with a missionary couple.  While the elders did dishes, Denise sat in the other room with the elderly couple and asked about her father.  It was a very good visit and an indication for her to return to the Church in which she had been baptized a member over four decades earlier.

            We all have our trials.  We all have our disappointments.  Endurance is not an easy thing.  For many, it is hard to see the light at the end of the tunnel.  For many there is no life.  They have given up home.  Some hang on by a thread searching for a glimmer of hope.  May each of us find the strength needed to endure than we may find peace?  That is my hope.