Sunday, December 18, 2011

Randall Bennett

I just found out that Randall Bennett is in my ward.  Ok, I didn't just find out, since we have been in the same congregation for a long time and we frequently have ward council, elders quorum, and stewardship meetings together and talk in the hall.  But he told me today that he is on the TWiT network every so often.  He mentioned Tech News Today, which is not one of the TWiT shows I generally watch, but I looked it up and sure enough, he is semi almost famous.

Since I am a geek, this is almost more cool than when I was in a ward with Rob Morris, defensive lineman for the Indianapolis Colts, and my wife use to go visit teach his wife each month.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

The Mission Field

I heard this term "The Mission Field" used a lot by people that would come to the mid west from Utah.  When I first joined the Church I suppose it didn't bother me much, but it irritates a bit more as the years go on and as I hear it frequently here in Utah.

I was pondering today as someone said it.  Where is the line where the mission field begins?  Is it the Utah boarder.  Is there some distance I can drive down I-80 and all of a sudden I find myself in the mission field?  Is Oregon in the mission field.

What is the opposite of the mission field?  I am assuming that the opposite that people have in their mind is Zion. As I understand it, every stake is a stake of Zion, which means Zion is everywhere that a stake is organized.

If one is envisioning Zion being established in the tops of the mountains, then I supposed the mission field would be anything outside the Rockies.

If one is envisioning Zion as "This is the place.", then clearly Ogden is the mission field.  So is Provo and Orem and Logan and Brigham City and all the rest of Utah outside of Salt Lake City.

When I served my mission the impression I got was that once I left the Missionary Training Center property I was in the mission field.  When we took a trip into Provo to get some clothing we were in the mission field.  When we returned to the MTC we were not.  When they took us to the airport to depart to our various assignments we were in the mission field.  When we were on the planes or vans or buses, we were in the mission field.  When we arrived at our assigned area, we were in the mission field.  Some of those I was in the MTC with went to Temple Square in Salt Lake City.  Was that not the mission field?  If not, why would missionaries be sent there?

The only reason I didn't consider the MTC the mission field was because it was a controlled environment where the only people we had to teach was other missionaries.

It is probably ridiculous for this to irritate me.  I realize it is just an easy way to refer to places where the Church is less established than in Utah, but let's keep in mind that the mission field is white and it is everywhere, all around us, no matter where we live.

Tuesday, November 01, 2011

Having Prophets and Apostles Close

This past weekend we had stake conference.  The Saturday evening adult session was as usual at the stake center and the stake presidency spoke.  The Sunday morning session was at the Dee Events Center and was for nine Ogden stakes.  The prophet, Thomas S Monson, was there, as was Elder Neal L Anderson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles.  President Rosemary M. Wixom, the general primary president was also there as well as Elder Marlin K. Jensen, of the Seventy.

This was the same venue where we had come to see Elder Jeffrey R Holland speak for pioneer days in July.  When we had gone to see Elder M Russell Ballard at the Browning Center on the Weber State University campus, it was not as personal of a setting as I would have liked, since I think there were three or four stakes at that as well, but I was able to pick a seat four rows in front of him and see him very well, just by arriving a half hour or early.  I think we were actually an hour early, but it appeared that a half hour would’ve gotten us the same seats.

In the Dee Event Center, they sit the bishops and stake presidents down on the floor where it would be possible to get a seat as good as we got at the Browning Center, but in the non VIP seats, it was difficult to get a seat less than nine rows up with having arrived an hour early.

All of this is nice history information of how things went down, but here is what I wanted to share.  Every time I stand when the prophet enters the room it is very moving for me.  I remember what it was like to live so far from Salt Lake City when we lived in Indiana.  I hope I never forget how great it is to be in the same room with the prophet and apostles.  To have the opportunity to be near 3 apostles and the prophet over the last  four months has been so great.

Since my son and I also went to the priesthood session of General Conference at the beginning of this month, I should also include in this the great privilege I have had to be in the room with all of them, although in an even less intimate setting.  Conference was always something to see on TV.  The conference center, tabernacle, and temple square was always something almost exotic.  Certainly something I imagined rarely seeing, if ever.  Now every time we go down there and see the temple and the Church’s presence, it moves me.  I look forward to when my other can go too and taking both my boys.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

The Joseph Smith Papers

I have been watching the video series that the Church did called The Joseph Smith Papers.  It touted that it was going to chronicle the research done in preparation of publishing the Joseph Smith papers books, which are volumes of things that Joseph wrote or others wrote about his experiences.

I thought it was going to be a discussion of the methods they used to get the information and preserve the documents and all that, which it was.  I was fascinated at one point where they talked of how they chose what to include.  They were very careful to check sources.  They classified the information they were considering into how reliable it was.  I think they said they had several levels of reliability.

Additionally, the series covered the material that was in the papers.  There were many episodes going through Church history and discussing what the project had found on those events.

At one point they discussed the events at Carthage jail and the martyrdom of Joseph and Hyrum Smith.  I have been to Carthage when I was you and heard the story of the bullet being stopped by John Taylor's pocket watch and saving his life.  They discussed in the program that they had recently discovered that the watch had not been struck by a bullet, but by the corner of the window.  The back of the watch, I think they said, had the appearance of a bullet crushing it, but in reality was just parts of the watch that had been compacted by the window corner.  I can't remember how they got on to chasing that.  Perhaps they were doing a Myth Busters sort of thing and read through the papers finding no mention of this and then looked more closely at the watch.  Nonetheless, it appears that John Taylor came out of the ordeal, never having been struck by any of the bullets.  He just took a beating from the window.

The Joseph Smith Papers video series also discussed Emma and her family after the Saints headed West.  I have always been very torn on what to think of Emma.  She stood by Joseph through everything and was in key roles during the translation of the Book of Mormon and during the early days of the Church.  Then to see her stay behind and not go West with the saints and to see her posterity start up this other Church with themselves as false prophets.

As I listened to the presentations I wonder if it wasn't God's will.  Yes the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was not Christ's church, but perhaps it was necessary to preserve thing Church sites out East like the Kirtland temple.  Perhaps it was to leave some contention behind.  The project talked about times where the brethren would make a decision and some of the people would turn to Emma for what she wanted them to do.  I guess there was a hymnbook she created and the brethren at one point made a hymnbook to be the official hymnbook of the Church and there was contention about not using Emma's.

Why did Emma join with her children in the other Church?  Maybe she had gotten the revelation that she needed to stay behind and not go West with the saints and this other church was the closest thing she had to the truth.

There have been many generations of Joseph' descendants that were not members of the true Church of Christ and only recently have some of them joined the Church.  This seems so sad and we want to say, "How can this be part of the plan?"  How often do people say that a just God would not do this or that when there is pain or tragedy?  He can see beyond the tears to the hope.  He can see what good those tears brought forth and that would not have come forth without those tears.  He can see that this life is just a blink and that death is not some vile abyss, but just part of our eternal existence.  So for Him to use death for the benefit of man is reasonable.  Death is not the end, just a change and our next step.  All the same is true for what happened with Joseph's descendants.  God has a plan for them to be saved, even though he left them in a hard situation.

I am still working my way through all of the episodes of The Joseph Smith Papers, but so far I find them very instructive and interesting, and I highly recommend them for viewing.

Monday, May 16, 2011


We visited Disneyland last week and noticed that there appeared to be a lot of LDS members there.

We would walk around the park and the obvious ones were the ones wearing BYU hats or shirts.  Of course there are BYU fans that aren't members, but I think they are a lot fewer.

Another thing we would notice is the way people would interact with their kids and even the people around them.  Many times there was a calmness or maybe even a reverence.  We would look more closely and generally find garment lines.

Another characteristic we could use to make our determination that they were members was the presence of long shorts and the lack of tattoos, extra piercings, profanity, and tank tops.

Often we tire of the same lessons on the same subjects at church, but I am convinced that even having the repetitive lesson weaves the fabric of our character and it is visible.  The more we surround ourselves with those lessons and media drawn from those lessons and doctrines the more complete our tapestry of character become.  We spend a lot of our times weaving the world into us through its media and such.  If we let that go on too much it can obscure the picture of who we want to be.

An illustration of spotting members happened at our motel one evening.  I took the kids swimming.  It was getting chilly, so I only wanted to soak my feet after a long day of standing in lines.  There was a family swimming there.  I watched them a bit as I watched my kids.  The mother was sitting on the side and she appeared to have long shorts on.  The father was swimming with the kids.  I keep using the word reverent, which may not exactly be the right word, but there was something like that as he interacted with his children.  perhaps a better word is selfless.

There was no profanity and the kids were polite to each other.  The father was very attentive to playing with the kids and keeping them safe.  The father had no tattoos or piercings.

As we got up to leave I asked him where they were from.  He said Provo, Utah.  We talked a little bit that night and ended up meeting up with them at other times and places.  We never asked them if they were members, but we noticed garment lines at some point and the conversation floated to temples we had visited on the way and to other church stuff.

We went to Huntington Beach one afternoon to swim in the ocean and get a break from amusement parks.  As I was swimming with a couple of my kids I noticed a couple come into the water.  The guy had a long swim suit on and had a Utah look about him, which I can't really describe.  The young woman had a bikini on, which made me doubt the assessment I was starting to make, but she had shorts over it.  Later she put a tank top over the top.  I was still doubting due to the bikini, but neither had tattoos or piercings.  There was also a little of that reverence about them.  A little while later I noticed an older couple sitting behind my wife and the husband had a BYU hat on.  Eventually the young couple I had been watching went and sat with them.  I went and asked the older guy if he was from Utah or just a Cougar fan.  He said both.  I only talked to them briefly and told them it was nice to see them.  I then took my kids back out to the water as my family looked at me strangely for talking to strangers.

It is just so nice to have members around me.  I grew up only having members around me at church.  I would go to school and work and for the most part not have the saints around me.  People obviously will say that there are good people of other faiths and whatnot, but it is different.  It is just different.

Indiana Jones was the first ride we went on when we got to Disneyland.  We went again on our last day or so.  In front of us was another young couple.  He had a bit of a Utah Mormon look to him.  He did have a t-shirt collar hanging out of his shirt, but I could not tell about her.  She looked a little worldly, but was dressed modestly.  There was more of that calmness in their interactions together.

He was noticing the teenagers making a fuss behind us.  I was getting irritated, but he took the opportunity to mess with them.  He seemed to have been on the ride before and knew the tricks in the cave entrance to the ride.  He walked by a place when you could yank on one of the fake supports and make the cave rumble like there was a cave in happening.  The teen-aged girls freaked out.

I have heard things about liberal practices creeping into Disney, so I was surprised that the Mr. Lincoln display lives on, since it speaks positively and in favor of God.

Sunday, May 15, 2011


I am increasingly seeing a trend within myself where at times I am distracted and get little out of my church services at times unless the speaker or teacher really grabs me something.

One week I was completely preoccupied with something stupid I had said in priesthood opening.  It consumed me the rest of the morning at church and somewhat into the afternoon at home.

Today I was excited about my son getting the priesthood and being ordained a deacon.  I was also nervous about being the one to ordain him.  I was hoping to do it in quorum meeting, which in our ward is first, but I found out he had to be sustained by the congregation first.  Then I was sad that he wouldn't get to pass the sacrament, which he has been bugging me to do since at least the beginning of the year.

The good news is that there is a temple trip scheduled for Tuesday night.  He has been looking forward to doing baptisms with me.

So between the thought of doing baptisms this week, of ordaining him after church, and the fact that we just got back from vacation at 9PM last night, my head was buzzing.  I heard and absorbed many things that were said in Elders Quorum and Sunday school, even though my notes were not very good, but by the time sacrament service rolled around I was zoned out.  The excitement was exhausting me.

I don't know if I need to prepare better before church or if I to do some exercises to better control my concentration, but very frequently I find that my notes are lacking due to having spaced out for periods of time.

Sunday, May 01, 2011

LDS Employment Services Mentor

I received a phone call today from a member of the bishopric.  He wanted me to be a mentor, since I am the ward employment specialist.  I was not familiar with the concept in the context of ward employment specialist.  The bishopric and former ward employment specialist had no experience with mentoring in this context either.

I did some searching and found the following resources that gave a little more description of what is entailed in being a mentor to someone looking for employment.  I hope these links will be of use to bishoprics and ward employments specialists to understand the concept of mentoring in the context of LDS employment services and Deseret Industries.

Thursday, April 28, 2011


We were talking in Teacher Development class a few weeks back about always having the scriptures with us.  We talked a little of more and more people having their scriptures on their phones or music devices or pocket organizers.  We then talked that a better way is to have them in our minds.  Mostly with a familiarization, but also to some degree through memorization.

When I was a kid I had to memorize various things for school.  I didn't care for it because it was a lot of work.  My dad had to memorize the Gettysburg address when he was a kid and he also did not care for it.  At the time he expressed that he didn't see the value in it and I agreed.

Memorizing still takes a lot of work.  Whether there is value in memorizing the Gettysburg address or other things from school, I know not, but what I do know is that memorization is a good brain exercise and brains need exercise just like muscles.  I also know that the more of the scriptures and words of the prophets we have memorized, the better teachers we can be to our families, our ward, and the world at large. We will be able to more easily recall them impromptu when we are teaching or when we are answering people's questions in life.