The Martyrdom

Yes, this is the anniversary of the martyrdom of Joseph and Hyrum Smith. 27 June 1844.

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On June 24, Joseph and Hyrum Smith bade farewell to their families and rode with other Nauvoo city officials toward Carthage, voluntarily surrendering themselves to county officials in Carthage the next day. After the brothers had been released on bail for the initial charge, they were falsely charged with treason against the state of Illinois, arrested, and imprisoned in Carthage Jail to await a hearing. Elders John Taylor and Willard Richards, the only members of the Twelve who were not then serving missions, voluntarily joined them. On the afternoon of June 27, 1844, the little group of brethren sat silent and disconsolate in the jail. One of the men asked Elder Taylor, who had a rich tenor voice, to sing to them. Soon his voice was raised: “A poor wayfaring Man of grief hath often crossed me on my way, who sued so humbly for relief that I could never answer nay.” Elder Taylor recollected that the hymn “was very much in accordance with our feelings at the time for our spirits were all depressed, dull and gloomy.” (John Taylor, quoted in History of the Church, 7:101; from John Taylor, “The Martyrdom of Joseph Smith,” in Historian’s Office, History of the Church ca. 1840s–1880, p. 47, Church Archives). Shortly after five o’clock in the afternoon, a large group of attackers stormed the jail, firing their guns at the men inside. Within a few minutes, the foul deed was done. Hyrum Smith was shot first and died almost immediately. Elder Richards miraculously received only a superficial wound; and Elder Taylor, though severely wounded, survived and later became the third President of the Church. The Prophet Joseph ran to the window and was fatally shot. The Prophet of the Restoration and his brother Hyrum had sealed their testimonies with their blood.

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God protected Joseph Smith until his earthly mission was complete. In August 1842, Joseph Smith said: “My feelings at the present time are that, inasmuch as the Lord Almighty has preserved me until today, He will continue to preserve me, by the united faith and prayers of the Saints, until I have fully accomplished my mission in this life, and so firmly established the dispensation of the fullness of the priesthood in the last days, that all the powers of earth and hell can never prevail against it.”  In October 1843, the Prophet said: “I defy all the world to destroy the work of God; and I prophesy they never will have power to kill me till my work is accomplished, and I am ready to die.”  In May 1844, the Prophet said: “God will always protect me until my mission is fulfilled.”  In June 1844, the Prophet said: “I do not regard my own life. I am ready to be offered a sacrifice for this people; for what can our enemies do? Only kill the body, and their power is then at an end. Stand firm, my friends; never flinch. Do not seek to save your lives, for he that is afraid to die for the truth, will lose eternal life. Hold out to the end, and we shall be resurrected and become like Gods, and reign in celestial kingdoms, principalities, and eternal dominions.”

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Early on June 27, 1844, in Carthage Jail, Joseph Smith wrote in a hasty letter to Emma Smith: “I am very much resigned to my lot, knowing I am justified and have done the best that could be done. Give my love to the children and all my friends … ; and as for treason, I know that I have not committed any, and they cannot prove one appearance of anything of the kind, so you need not have any fears that any harm can happen to us on that score. May God bless you all. Amen.” (Letter from Joseph Smith to Emma Smith, June 27, 1844, Carthage Jail, Carthage, Illinois; Community of Christ Archives, Independence, Missouri; copy in Church Archives).

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Before his death, Joseph Smith conferred upon the Twelve Apostles every priesthood key and power that the Lord had sealed upon him. Wilford Woodruff, the fourth President of the Church, recalled: “[Joseph Smith] spent the last winter of his life, some three or four months, with the quorum of the Twelve teaching them. It was not merely a few hours ministering to them the ordinances of the gospel; but he spent day after day, week after week and month after month, teaching them and a few others the things of the kingdom of God.” (Wilford Woodruff, Deseret News: Semi-Weekly, Dec. 21, 1869, p. 2.)  Gordon B. Hinckley, the fifteenth President of the Church, testified: “So certain was [Joseph Smith] of the cause he led, so sure of his divinely given calling, that he placed them above the value of his own life. With prescient knowledge of his forthcoming death, he surrendered himself to those who would deliver him defenseless into the hands of a mob. He sealed his testimony with his life’s blood.”  (Gordon B. Hinckley, Ensign, Nov. 1981, p. 7)

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PARLEY P. PRATT gave a detailed description of the Prophet Joseph Smith shortly after the martyrdom of the Prophet:  President Joseph Smith was in person tall and well built, strong and active; of light complexion, light hair, blue eyes, very little beard, and of an expression peculiar to himself, on which the eye naturally rested with interest, and was never weary of beholding. His countenance was ever mild, affable, beaming with intelligence and benevolence; mingled with a look of interest and an unconscious smile, or cheerfulness, and entirely free from all restraint or affectation of gravity; and there was something connected with the serene and steady penetrating glance of his eye, as if he would penetrate the deepest abyss of the human heart, gaze into eternity, penetrate the heaven and comprehend all worlds. He possessed a noble boldness and independence of character; his manner was easy and familiar; his rebuke terrible as the lion; his benevolence unbounded as the ocean; his intelligence universal, and his language abounding in original eloquence peculiar to himself – not polished – not studied – not smoothed and softened by education and refined by art, but flowing forth in its own native simplicity, and profusely abounding in variety of subject and manner. He interested and edified, while, at the same time, he amused and entertained his audience; and none listened to him who were ever weary with his discourse. I have even known him to retain a congregation of willing and anxious listeners for many hours together, in the midst of cold or sunshine, rain or wind, while they were laughing at one moment and weeping the next. Even his most bitter enemies were generally overcome, if he could once get their ears…. In short, in him the character of a Daniel and a Cyrus were wonderfully blended. The gifts, wisdom, and devotion of a Daniel were united with the boldness, courage, temperance, perseverance and generosity of a Cyrus. And had he been spared a martyr’s fate till mature manhood and age, he was certainly endowed with powers and ability to have revolutionized the world in many respects, and to have transmitted to posterity a name associated with more brilliant and glorious acts than has yet fallen to the lot of mortal.  (The Historical Record, VII, January, 1888, pp. 575-576).

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GEORGE Q. CANNON wrote this about when he first saw the Prophet Joseph Smith: (He had been converted in England in 1840 at the age of 15 and came to Nauvoo two years later).  This is what he wrote in his book, Life of Joseph Smith the Prophet:  It was the author’s privilege thus to meet the Prophet for the first time. The occasion was the arrival of a large company of Latter‑day Saints at the upper landing at Nauvoo. The general conference of the Church was in session and large numbers crowded to the landing place to welcome the emigrants. Nearly every prominent man in the community was there. Familiar with the names of all and the persons of many of the prominent elders, the author sought with a boy’s curiosity and eagerness to discover those whom he knew, and especially to get sight of the Prophet and his brother Hyrum, neither of whom he had ever met. When his eyes fell upon the Prophet, without a word from anyone to point him out, or any reason to separate him from others who stood around, he knew him instantly. He would have known him among ten thousand. There was that about him, which, to the author’s eyes, “distinguished him from all the men he had ever seen.”  (George Q. Cannon, Life of Joseph Smith the Prophet (Salt Lake City, Utah: Deseret Book, 1964), 20‑21).

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OTHER REFERENCES (I know there are many more):  Elder Dallin H. Oaks, “JOSEPH, THE MAN AND THE PROPHET,” Ensign May 1996 /  Elder Tad R. Callister, “JOSEPH SMITH – PROPHET OF THE RESTORATION,” Ensign November 2009  /  Elder Neil L. Andersen, “JOSEPH SMITH,” Ensign November 2014  /  Elder Lawrence E. Corbridge, “THE PROPHET JOSEPH SMITH,” Ensign May 2014  /  There is an article about the martyrdom written by Brother Joseph I. Bentley (currently president of the Newport Beach California Temple). Here’s a link:  http://eom.byu.edu/index.php/Martyrdom_of_Joseph_and_Hyrum_Smith   Brother Bentley, an attorney, also wrote “Road to Martyrdom: Joseph Smith’s Last Legal Cases.” It can be found in BYU Studies, Volume 19, #2, Winter 1979

Elder Dallin H. Oaks co-authored a book about the martyrdom with Marvin S. Hill: Carthage Conspiracy: The Trial of the Accused Assassins of Joseph Smith. It’s available on Amazon.com. I read a copy my Dad had, and it’s fascinating. This is what they (the authors) wrote about the book:  Our book is intended to have significance for both scholar and layman. We have tried to look at the trial as a significant legal event in Mormon and American history. But we have tried not to lose sight of the fact that good history is good narrative. Our introduction and concluding chapter may be of special significance for the scholar, but for most readers the point of interest will be the story between.

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He’s my BROTHER

In the Church News for 25 January, 1992, there was a story about a wonderful sister and brother in Cebu in the Philippines. The title of the article: “He’s not heavy, he’s my brother.” I wish I could show you the pictures I have, but they’re not “digital.” (You have to remember that I’m a digital immigrant, NOT a digital native….)

When people see Anastacio and Virginia Huguete, the words from a well-known story and song, “He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Brother,” often come to mind. The brother and his sister, members of the Talisay 1st Ward, Talisay Philippines Stake, could be a contemporary version of the slogan made famous by Boys Town founder Father Edward J. Flanagan in the 1920s.Father Flanagan penned the phrase after watching the young men living in his boys home carry Howard Loomis, a disabled young boy who was unable to walk, on their backs. That same devotion that existed among those young boys can be found between the Huguetes as Sister Huguete carries her brother, 64, who has suffered two severe strokes, to and from Church meetings. In a recent visit to the area to attend a stake conference, Elder Vaughn J. Featherstone of the Seventy, first counselor in the Philippines/Micronesia Area, wrote: “I was startled to see a woman carrying a man on her back. She brought him into the priesthood session, helped him sit on the bench and then left. When the priesthood session was over, she came back in, had him climb on her back and she carried him outside of the chapel. . . . The following day they were in all of the sessions.” Elder Featherstone soon found out that the man and woman were brother and sister. Brother Huguete, a well-known singer and entertainer in his native land, was left almost-totally paralyzed after suffering the two strokes in 1976. The strokes affected his speech and voice, but he was still able to think clearly. Sister Huguete, a single sister, began to take constant care of her brother, helping him with therapy and with any other need he had. Through her efforts, he gained limited use of his legs. He is able to stand, but cannot walk. He is also able to write. In 1979, the two were baptized along with two of Brother Huguete’s children. On the day of the baptism, Brother Huguete asked the elders to heat the water because he was afraid of what the cold water would do to him. The heater was broken, he was baptized anyway and witnessed his own miracle when he was immersed into warm water. When Virginia dressed him after the baptism, she was amazed to find that his body was warm. At the time of their baptism, they covenanted with the Lord to keep His commandments, which meant attending their Sunday meetings and partaking of the sacrament. They have done this faithfully for 12 years, according to Elder Joseph and Sister Alene E. Felix, missionaries in the Cebu Philippines Mission. “Virginia carries her brother on her back to and from their Church meetings, many times unable to ride a jeepney or pedicab so she carries him all the way.” Sister Huguete manages to carry her brother, who weighs about 130 pounds, more than two kilometers to their Church meetings. The Sunday following a typhoon, meetings were held Sunday morning instead of the usual afternoon time so members could help the typhoon victims. The Huguetes did not hear of the change and missed the meeting. “They both sat down and wept, for this was the only time Virginia had missed since her baptism,” Brother and Sister Felix explained. Brother Huguete serves as Sunday School president in his ward and Sister Huguete serves as ward Primary president. “To be a member of the Church is a pearl of great price,” Brother Huguete remarked. “I believe the greatest attainment a man or a woman could ever have is to be baptized in the Church as I am, to hold the priesthood as I do, to know that Christ is our Savior, which I testify is true, and to enter the temple for their own endowments as I have, and to be a part of an eternal family unit. Because of these great blessings, I am blessed above all men.” (Sheridan R. Sheffield)

There was a follow-up story in the Church News for 13 June, 1992. It made me feel so happy! SISTER’S DEDICATION PROMPTS READERS TO DONATE FOR CYCLE

Thanks to the giving hearts of Church members, Virginia Huguete and her brother, Anastacio, are finding it easier to get to Church meetings and other activities. Funds were contributed to the Huguetes – members of the Talisay 1st Ward, Talisay Philippines Stake – to help them find a mode of transportation after a Jan. 25, 1992, Church News article featured the Huguetes and their struggles of getting around. When they were baptized in 1979, Sister Huguete and her brother – who is partially paralyzed – vowed to never miss a meeting. Because transportation was often unavailable or unaffordable, Sister Huguete would carry her 130-pound brother on her back more than two kilometers to Church meetings. Brother Huguete, a well-known singer and entertainer in the Philippines, was left almost totally paralyzed after suffering two strokes in 1976. The strokes affected his speech and voice, and he has limited use of his legs as he is able to stand, but not walk. The recent contributions have assisted the Huguetes in getting a tricycad, a bicycle with a side car attached, so Sister Huguete can get her brother back and forth to Church. Elder Joseph and Sister Alene Felix, missionaries in the Philippines Cebu Mission, said the Huguetes are enjoying their tricycad “very much as it provides them with transportation to Church meetings and a feeling of independence.” The tricycad also has the potential of providing them with a little income for the future if they choose to rent it to tricycad operators, the Felixes explained. (This is not their Tricycad, but it will give you an idea of what they’re like).

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Members have also helped the Huguetes in other ways, they added. Brother and Sister Huguete recently returned from a week at the Manila Philippines Temple where they were sealed to their aged mother. They traveled by boat from Cebu Island to and from Luzon Island, where the temple is located. While they were in Manila, full-time missionaries and stake missionaries upgraded the Huguetes’ nipa hut (palm-thatched home) by pouring a cement floor, patio and walkway. “Needless to say, they were completely surprised and flabbergasted upon returning home following their long boat trip,” Brother and Sister Felix said. (This is a picture of a Nipa Hut – Bahay Kubo – but it’s not their home – it just gives you an idea)

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APOSTLES

Many years ago (MANY!) when I was much (MUCH) younger, I used to think it would be “fun” for the men called to be Apostles. I imagined them enjoying all their visiting. Back then we occasionally had TWO Apostles come at a time. My Daddy served in a stake presidency for 10 years, and we had many Apostles and other leaders come to our home for dinner. What a blessing! Of course it was a blessing for us… but I also considered it a blessing for them, since my Mother was such a good cook! My parents had started a book for visitors to sign, and it’s a great feeling to look back at all the Church leaders and others who were in our home.

So I was thinking, as I said, of how much FUN it would be for them to be Apostles. Probably lots of “get-togethers” at each other’s homes and such-like. Oh! I was SO naïve! (I still AM in many ways, of course). During the time I worked at the MTC, I attended many of the Devotionals where Church leaders would come to teach and inspire the missionaries (they really inspired me too!). One evening (22 April, 1980) it was Elder Boyd K. Packer’s turn. He brought a kind of “schedule book” or planner with him and told us about the past few weeks of his life. Samoa, South America, and other places he’d been, with HUGE responsibilities and PACKED schedules. He spoke of wishing he had time to change his shirt (that really “got to me”). He spoke of training new Patriarchs, explaining to members why the location of a new Temple needed to be changed, and on and ON.

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And then he taught us some powerful truths.  He said “We do not always have time to say things twice.” “We do not always have time to explain WHY.” “You do not release whom you did not call!” And then he admonished us: “FOLLOW THE BRETHREN!” I’ll never forget that experience or how I felt. It is not “FUN” to be an Apostle … I can’t even begin to imagine the RESPONSIBILITY . . . .

I remember in 1963 when a relatively new Apostle came to visit us (missionaries and members) in the Philippines. His name was Elder Gordon B. Hinckley, and he’d been called an Apostle by President David O. McKay in October of 1961. He met with us (I think there were still fewer than 20 of us missionaries serving in all the Philippines at the time – it was a zone of the Southern Far East Mission – and not many more than 100 members of the Church).

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We met with Elder Hinckley in the best hotel: The Manila Hotel. It was such a wonderful experience. He taught us a little bit about what it was like to be an Apostle – even one who was pretty “new” still. He said that maybe we thought it was easy for them to prepare messages, but that it wasn’t easy! He spoke of the earnest prayers and efforts to prepare what the Lord wanted others to hear and learn. He also spoke of what we had shared in our testimony meeting which came right before his message. We had (of course) spoke of how EXCITED the members were to have a visit from him – an Apostle! And the one who had dedicated the land for missionary work just two years earlier.  He said something about how the members might be disappointed when they saw a rather short, balding man . . . I don’t remember his exact words, but he made us laugh, and he made us THINK. I for one realized at least a little bit that it was a HUGE challenge and responsibility to be called as an Apostle.

The reason I’ve been thinking about this for quite a while this morning is because of an article I found from the Church News. I’m going to share it, hoping that for those who choose to read it (I know this is getting LONG) it will bring to your heart and soul an even deeper appreciation for those who accept the call of Apostles – Prophets, Seers, and Revelators! – The call to serve for the rest of their lives….  And that we will all be mindful of them in our thoughts and our prayers — sustaining them in every way we can.

Here is the article. It’s about Elder Rasband (who’s been an Apostle not quite as long as Elder Hinckley had been when he visited us).

ELDER RASBAND OFFERS COUNSEL, BLESSING TO QUAKE-WEARY ECUADORIANS – By Jason Swensen, LDS Church News – Published: Thursday, June 23 2016 1:00 p.m. MDT

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Elder Ronald A. Rasband and Sister Melanie Rasband, stand at the pulpit, offer words of counsel and love to members in Portoviejo, Ecuador. The area was severely impacted by a deadly earthquake last April.

In the days leading up to his recent trip to northwestern South America, Elder Ronald A. Rasband of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles experienced a powerful prompting. Elder Rasband felt strongly that he should visit the Latter-day Saints in western Ecuador whose lives were forever changed on April 16 by a 7.8-magnitude earthquake that killed hundreds and injured tens of thousands. He was told such a visit was impossible. Elder Rasband would be on a tight schedule during his June 3–13 tour of Colombia, Peru and Ecuador. Additionally, there were questions about the road conditions leading to the quake-impacted cities of Portoviejo and Manta. “Still, I felt like we somehow needed to get to those areas,” he told the Church News. His determination would be rewarded. On June 13 — the final day of his 10-day trip — Elder Rasband and his wife, Sister Melanie Rasband, traveled to Portoviejo and, a short time later, to Manta. “It was one of the highlights of the trip,” he said. Elder Rasband expected a few local priesthood leaders and perhaps a few members to attend the hastily organized gathering in Portoviejo. “But when we arrived and went inside the stake center the chapel was filled,” he said. “I was speechless. I could not believe it.” Seated on the front rows were members who had lost loved ones in the quake, along with “pioneers” of the Church in the region. Elder Rasband shared a message of love from President Thomas S. Monson. He also assured the quake-weary members that they were not forgotten. He told them they were the subject of many prayers. He thanked them for caring for one another. And then, in one of the few times since his call to the Twelve last October, he bestowed an apostolic blessing. “It was as if my hands were on their heads,” he said. “All the words came to my mind at that moment.”  Before leaving, the Rasbands exchanged one-on-one greetings with all assembled. “I received more abrazos [hugs] than at any time in my life,” said Elder Rasband with a smile. They then drove 30 minutes to Manta, where the local chapel was filled with hundreds. Once again, they shook hands and exchanged hugs with all who came forward. Afterward, they rushed back to Guayaquil to catch their flight home.

Elder Rasband marvels at how the initially unplanned trip to the quake areas came together “like clockwork. It was divinely orchestrated from A to Z,” he said. He was uplifted by the faith, courage and charitable actions of the members. “We all had a great sense that the Ecuadorian people were rallying to the cause and helping one another.”  Elder Rasband said the Lord’s hand could be traced throughout his trip. Elder and Sister Rasband met with thousands of members of all ages — both in person and via interactive devotionals broadcast over the internet.  They were joined at different segments of their travels by the South America Northwest Area Presidency — Elder Juan A. Uceda, Elder Carlos A. Godoy and Elder Hugo Montoya — and their wives, Sister Maria Isabel Uceda, Sister Monica Godoy and Sister Maria Montoya. In each country, the Rasbands and the other Brethren and their wives visited with missionaries. Elder Rasband encouraged the young elders and sisters to always remember that “they are to find the Lord’s elect” and to establish multi-generational wards and stakes in their own lands. Elder and Sister Rasband and the others also participated in several devotionals for young people. The youth gathering in Bogota was broadcast across Colombia and Venezuela, while a similar meeting originating in Lima was seen by youth in Peru and Bolivia. A third youth devotional in Guayaquil was seen throughout Ecuador. At each youth devotional, young men and young women asked questions of Elder Rasband and the others. “Their concerns are the same as youth living anywhere else,” he observed. “They have the same issues.” In a series of Priesthood Leadership Conferences, Elder Rasband and the Area Presidency met with local stake presidents, bishops and quorum leaders. Again, they addressed universal concerns — including societal challenges to the family, issues of religious freedoms and the dangers of pornography. Elder Rasband noted the capacity of the local priesthood and Relief Society leaders that ensures a bright future for the Church across northern South America. Temples, he added, are further evidence of the wonderful growth of the Church in Colombia, Peru and Ecuador. Temples operate in each of those nations — and, in each nation, new temples are either under construction or have been announced. “In all three countries, the Lord, through His prophet, has chosen to build new temples to bless the people.”

ROB GARDNER

Some of you may remember the post and comments a while ago about LDS composer Rob Gardner and the song (I call it a hymn) he wrote called “You Have Nothing to Fear.” Well, if you haven’t seen THIS yet, TAKE A LOOK AND A LISTEN!!!

http://www.deseretnews.com/article/865656678/BYU-alum-Rob-Gardner-Cinematic-Pop-featured-on-Americas-Got-Talent.html?s_cid=Email-4

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President Monson

I know that most of you have seen his Facebook posts, but I wanted to share two of the most recent with their loving, powerful, beautiful messages.  I feel SO thankful for a living Prophet, and for 15 called by God whom we sustain as Prophets, Seers, and Revelators. What incredible blessings we have!!!  (You can tell that I still don’t know how to do things very well on the Blog OR Facebook . . . oh well ……)

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Stresses in our lives come regardless of our circumstances. We must deal with them the best we can. But we should not let them get in the way of what is most important—and what is most important almost always involves the people around us. Often we assume that they must know how much we love them. But we should never assume; we should let them know. Wrote William Shakespeare, “They do not love that do not show their love.” We will never regret the kind words spoken or the affection shown. Rather, our regrets will come if such things are omitted from our relationships with those who mean the most to us. Send that note to the friend you’ve been neglecting; give your child a hug; give your parents a hug; say “I love you” more; always express your thanks. Never let a problem to be solved become more important than a person to be loved.

Thomas S Monson  June 16 at 12:32pm ·  This is our one and only chance at mortal life—here and now. The longer we live, the greater is our realization that it is brief. Opportunities come, and then they are gone. I believe that among the greatest lessons we are to learn in this short sojourn upon the earth are lessons that help us distinguish between what is important and what is not. I plead with you not to let those most important things pass you by as you plan for that illusive and nonexistent future when you will have time to do all that you want to do. Instead, find joy in the journey—now.

THE HEAVENS

Have you ever had a time when you were in a place where it was completely dark, and you could see ZILLIONS of STARS??  I’ve wanted to post something about this on the Blog for “many moons,” but it has taken a long time just to try to “organize” it.

The Heavens

My best friend from childhood and I used to sleep out a lot, lying in our sleeping bags and looking up at all the stars (we lived in a small community without a ton of street lights, so we could see LOTS of stars). We’d find one which we were sure no one else could see or had noticed, and that would be “our very own special star.” We loved looking at the Milky Way, the Big and Little Dippers, and other things we’d been shown. We loved the light that was reflected in and from these wonderful creations of God.

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I started counting stars when I was about 7 (I was interested in counting “everything”) . . . I never finished, and eventually I quit trying. Now I realize that my effort was futile anyway. I want to share a few things about the UNIVERSE.  Buckle up!

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The universe – which is EXPANDING – is believed to be at least 93 BILLION LIGHT YEARS in diameter (Factoid: A light year is almost 6 TRILLION MILES)…. and contains a VAST NUMBER of galaxies. A galaxy is a huge system of stars, gas, dust, and stuff. One typical galaxy is estimated to be 56,000 light years in diameter (I can’t even begin to imagine that!!) and approximately 60 million light years away from us…. (You might get a brain cramp just trying to comprehend such numbers, such distances!).  Most galaxies are separated from one another by distances measured in MILLIONS of light years!  And some are considered to be around 14 billion years old!!!  It is estimated that some galaxies contain ONE HUNDRED TRILLION STARS!! In October of 2013, a galaxy was discovered which is approximately 13.1 BILLION LIGHT YEARS from earth.  It produces stars at a phenomenal rate of about 300 suns per year . . . . And it is also estimated that there may be more than 170 BILLION GALAXIES in the observable universe!!!  That’s an incredibly large number of galaxies!  And this has probably increased just while I’ve been working on this blog!.  Things REALLY get complex when we try to think about the Universe beyond that which is observable. The “whole” Universe, as it were. Some estimate that the WHOLE Universe is at least 250 TIMES AS LARGE as the OBSERVABLE UNIVERSE and could actually be INFINTE! . . . . (Do you have a headache yet??) HELP!!!!! This is all so “MIND BOGGLING!” Or, to put it another way, it “BLOWS MY MIND!!”

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But I have to keep remembering that just because we can’t understand all of this doesn’t mean it’s not TRUE!  Listen again to what the Creator of all of these galaxies and stars (Who is THE LIGHT OF THE WORLD) said to Moses: (Moses 1:37-39) 37- … The heavens, they are many, and they cannot be numbered unto man; but they ARE numbered unto me, for they are mine. [HE KNOWS EACH STAR!!] 38- And as one earth shall pass away, and the heavens thereof even so shall another come; and there is no end to my works, neither to my words. 39- For behold, this is my work and my glory – to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man. 

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OK… to get to the point I’m trying to make, I have to leave the universe and galaxies and stars for just a few moments and focus on this tiny little planet called earth. We live here with just a few of Heavenly Father’s children (7 billion plus). We speak over 6,000 languages. We share the planet with over 10,000 species of BIRDS (and likely over 400 BILLION birds!), over 12,000 species of ants (over 100 TRILLION individual ants!), over 30,000 species of fish, 400,000 kinds of flowers, 100,000 kinds of trees, and 950,000 species of insects….

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And even with all these birds, fish, flowers and insects, and even with 170 BILLION galaxies and TRILLIONS of STARS, and even with BILLIONS of CHILDREN . . . [Imagine these words are 50 feet high]  YOU ARE KNOWN AND LOVED AND CHERISHED INDIVIDUALLY BY THE GOD OF THE UNIVERSE!!!  He knows how many hairs are on your head!  Not even a single sparrow dies without Him knowing.  (And yes… there are still a few who say there is no God….) HE IS YOUR HEAVENLY FATHER!!!  HE KNOWS YOUR NAME!!! YOU ARE UNIQUE!!!  YOU’RE A MIRACLE!  THERE IS NO ONE EXACTLY LIKE YOU IN ALL THE VAST UNIVERSE….

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If you have interest and time:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jY_0U3e-Az0

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1Eh5BpSnBBw

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2 QUIZZES

I know most of you will have read or seen something like this before, but I love what I learn from doing some thinking about the difference between the two quizzes.

QUIZ # 1

  1. Name the five wealthiest people in the world. (Extra points for spelling names correctly).
  2. Name the last five Heisman Trophy winners. (Extra points if you know what the Heisman Trophy is).
  3. Name ten of the people who have been featured on the cover of People Magazine in the past 3 months.
  4. Name ten people who have won the Nobel or Pulitzer Prize. (Alternate: Name the last five winners of the TV reality show “Survivor”).
  5. Name the last half dozen Academy Award winners for best actor and actress. (Extra points if you can name the last ten “Best Picture” awards).
  6. Name the ten most popular websites on the internet. (Extra points for ten most popular YouTube sites).
  7. Name the ten most popular websites on the internet. (Extra points for ten most popular YouTube sites).
  8. Name the last five winners of the Miss America contest. (Double points if you can name the last five winners of the Miss Universe contest).
  9. Name the ten most influential current political leaders in the world.
  10. Name the last decade’s worth of World Series winners. (Extra points for naming the last decade’s worth of Super Bowl winners).

HOW DID YOU DO? Some of you probably scored a LOT higher than I did. For most of us, the point is that we don’t remember too much about people who are in the headlines – who are celebrities or “winners” or just plain popular.

Now try QUIZ # 2

  1. List a few teachers who were especially helpful to you during your first 12 years of school.
  2. Name three friends who have helped you through some of the “deep waters” and “fiery trials” of your life.
  3. Name five people who have taught you something which has made a significant difference in your life.
  4. Think of three people who have believed in you – who have made you feel like you were worthwhile and important.
  5. Think of five people you enjoy spending time with.
  6. Name five or six people whose stories/lives have inspired you – people whom you consider to be heroes.
  7. List five people whom you consider to be absolutely honest – people of integrity and personal honor.
  8. Think of five people whom you trust completely.
  9. Name three friends whom you have known for at least 25 years (10 or 15 years if you’re only 20 or younger) who have kept in touch with you.
  10. List 5-10 people whom you have never met but whom you would love to have known because of their influence on you even without ever having been with you physically.

HOW DID YOU DO WITH THIS QUIZ?  It seems to me that those who have made the most difference in my life (and maybe it’s the same for some of you) are those who CARED (and/or still care!). This is just “food for thought.” Nothing scientific … and you could likely think of better questions … but I hope it’s been at least a little bit thought-provoking. HAPPY WEDNESDAY!!!

 

From OZ

I TRIED TO POST THIS ON FACEBOOK, BUT THE PICTURE WAS TOO LARGE?? (Or something) … My thought was: MAYBE THIS REFERS TO MEE . . . ???  (But I laughed anyway)

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SELF-RELIANCE

On this beautiful Sunday morning, I want to share a message from a great soul: President Marion George Romney. I love this good man so much. I hope you won’t mind me sharing a connection I have with him. One of his sisters – Jasmine – married my Uncle John. I always felt very close to President Romney, and I had the chance to thank him for all he taught me about the gospel principles which are emphasized in welfare services (including the importance of self-reliance). Once, at a time in my life when I needed rescuing, he was kind enough to give me an incredible priesthood blessing which “changed everything” for me. Today I’m sharing his message about the celestial nature of self-reliance. I’ve heard so many questions asked about this topic – even some questions as to whether it sounds like we don’t need God if we work to be self-reliant. I pray this message from President Romney will help you as much as it has helped me in understanding the spiritual (celestial) nature of self-reliance.  This is an edited version. You can read the talk as it was originally given in the Ensign for November 1982 (one of the last things listed in that issue).

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THE CELESTIAL NATURE OF SELF-RELIANCE  By President Marion G. Romney (1897–1988)  Ensign, Mar 2009, 61–65

Marion G. Romney was ordained an Apostle on October 11, 1951. He served as Second Counselor to Presidents Harold B. Lee and Spencer W. Kimball and later as First Counselor to President Kimball. After President Kimball’s death, President Romney resumed his position in the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles and became President of the Quorum on November 10, 1985. He died on May 20, 1988, at the age of 90. President Romney was serving as Second Counselor in the First Presidency when he gave this talk during general conference in October 1982. This edited version of the talk was first published in 1984. Original: Ensign, November 1982

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I love the simple gospel truths as taught by the holy prophets, and I never tire of speaking about them. Since the beginning of time man has been counseled to earn his own way, thereby becoming self-reliant. It is easy to understand the reason the Lord places so much emphasis on this principle when we come to understand that it is tied very closely to freedom itself.  On this subject, Elder Albert E. Bowen said, “The … Church is not satisfied with any system which leaves able people permanently dependent, and insists, on the contrary, that the true function and office of giving, is to help people [get] into a position where they can help themselves and thus be free.”1  Many programs have been set up by well-meaning individuals to aid those who are in need. However, many of these programs are designed with the shortsighted objective of “helping people,” as opposed to “helping people help themselves.” Our efforts must always be directed toward making able-bodied people self-reliant.

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GULLIBLE GULLS

I clipped the following article from the Reader’s Digest some time ago. It reads: “In our friendly neighbor city of St. Augustine great flocks of sea gulls are starving amid plenty. Fishing is still good, but the gulls don’t know how to fish. For generations they have depended on the shrimp fleet to toss them scraps from the nets. Now the fleet has moved. …  The shrimpers had created a Welfare State for the … sea gulls. The big birds never bothered to learn how to fish for themselves and they never taught their children to fish. Instead they led their little ones to the shrimp nets. Now the sea gulls, the fine free birds that almost symbolize liberty itself, are starving to death because they gave in to the ‘something for nothing’ lure! They sacrificed their independence for a handout.  A lot of people are like that, too. They see nothing wrong in picking delectable scraps from the tax nets of the U.S. Government’s ‘shrimp fleet.’ But what will happen when the Government runs out of goods? What about our children of generations to come? Let’s not be gullible gulls. We … must preserve our talents of self-sufficiency, our genius for creating things for ourselves, our sense of thrift and our true love of independence.”2

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The practice of coveting and receiving unearned benefits has now become so fixed in our society that even men of wealth, possessing the means to produce more wealth, are expecting the government to guarantee them a profit. Elections often turn on what the candidates promise to do for voters from government funds. This practice, if universally accepted and implemented in any society, will make slaves of its citizens.  We cannot afford to become wards of the government, even if we have a legal right to do so. It requires too great a sacrifice of self-respect and political, temporal, and spiritual independence.  In some countries it is extremely difficult to separate earned from unearned benefits. However, the principle is the same in all countries: We should strive to become self-reliant and not depend on others for our existence.

Governments are not the only guilty parties. We fear many parents are making “gullible gulls” out of their children with their permissiveness and their doling out of family resources. In fact, the actions of parents in this area can be more devastating than any government program.  Bishops and other priesthood leaders can be guilty of making “gullible gulls” out of their ward members. Some members become financially or emotionally dependent on their bishops. A dole is a dole whatever its source. All of our Church and family actions should be directed toward making our children and members self-reliant. We can’t always control government programs, but we can control our own homes and congregations. If we will teach these principles and live them, we can do much to counter the negative effects which may exist in government programs in any country.

We know there are some who, for reasons beyond their control, cannot become self-reliant. President Henry D. Moyle had these people in mind when he said: “This great principle does not deny to the needy nor to the poor the assistance they should have. The wholly incapacitated, the aged, the sickly are cared for with all tenderness, but every able-bodied person is enjoined to do his utmost for himself to avoid dependence, if his own efforts can make such a course possible; to look upon adversity as temporary; to combine his faith in his own ability with honest toil. … We believe [that] seldom [do circumstances arise in which] men of rigorous faith, genuine courage, and unfaltering determination, with the love of independence burning in their hearts, and pride in their own accomplishments, cannot surmount the obstacles that lie in their paths.”3

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SPIRITUAL SELF-RELIANCE

Now, I wish to speak of a very important truth: self-reliance is not the end, but a means to an end. It is very possible for a person to be completely independent and lack every other desirable attribute. One may become wealthy and never have to ask anyone for anything, but unless there is some spiritual goal attached to this independence, it can canker his soul.  The Church’s welfare program is spiritual. In 1936, when the program was introduced, President David O. McKay made this astute observation:  “The development of our spiritual nature should concern us most. Spirituality is the highest acquisition of the soul, the divine in man; ‘the supreme, crowning gift that makes him king of all created things.’ It is the consciousness of victory over self and of communion with the infinite. It is spirituality alone which really gives one the best in life.  It is something to supply clothing to the [poorly] clad, to furnish ample food to those whose table is thinly spread, to give activity to those who are fighting desperately the despair that comes from enforced idleness, but after all is said and done, the greatest blessings that will accrue from the Church [welfare program] are spiritual. Outwardly, every act seems to be directed toward the physical: re-making of dresses and suits of clothes, canning fruits and vegetables, storing foodstuffs, choosing of fertile fields for settlement—all seem strictly temporal, but permeating all these acts, inspiring and sanctifying them, is the element of spirituality.”4

Doctrine and Covenants 29:34–35 tells us there is no such thing as a temporal commandment, that all commandments are spiritual. It also tells us that man is to be “an agent unto himself.” Man cannot be an agent unto himself if he is not self-reliant. Herein we see that independence and self-reliance are critical keys to our spiritual growth. Whenever we get into a situation which threatens our self-reliance, we will find our freedom threatened as well. If we increase our dependence, we will find an immediate decrease in our freedom to act.  Thus far, we should have learned that self-reliance is a prerequisite to the complete freedom to act. We have also learned, however, that there is nothing spiritual in self-reliance unless we make the right choices with that freedom. What, then, should we do once we have become self-reliant in order to grow spiritually?  The key to making self-reliance spiritual is in using the freedom to comply with God’s commandments. The scriptures are very clear in their command that it is the duty of those who have, to give to those who are in need.

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LIFTING OTHERS

Jacob, speaking to the people of Nephi, said: “Think of your brethren like unto yourselves, and be familiar with all and free with your substance, that they may be rich like unto you.  But before ye seek for riches, seek ye for the kingdom of God.  And after ye have obtained a hope in Christ ye shall obtain riches, if ye seek them; and ye will seek them for the intent to do good—to clothe the naked, and to feed the hungry, and to liberate the captive, and administer relief to the sick and the afflicted” (Jacob 2:17–19).

In our own dispensation, when the Church was only 10 months old, the Lord said:  “If thou lovest me thou shalt serve me and keep all my commandments.  And behold, thou wilt remember the poor, and consecrate of thy properties for their support” (D&C 42:29–30).

The same month, the Lord referred to this subject again. Evidently the members had been a little remiss. They had not moved fast enough. “Behold, I say unto you, that ye must visit the poor and the needy and administer to their relief” (D&C 44:6).

It has always seemed somewhat paradoxical to me that we must constantly have the Lord command us to do those things which are for our own good. The Lord has said, “He that findeth his life shall lose it: and he that loseth his life for my sake shall find it” (Matthew 10:39). We lose our life by serving and lifting others. By so doing we experience the only true and lasting happiness. Service is not something we endure on this earth so we can earn the right to live in the celestial kingdom. Service is the very fiber of which an exalted life in the celestial kingdom is made.  Oh, for the glorious day when these things all come naturally because of the purity of our hearts. In that day there will be no need for a commandment, because we will have experienced for ourselves that we are truly happy only when we are engaged in unselfish service.

Can we see how critical self-reliance becomes when looked upon as the prerequisite to service, when we also know service is what godhood is all about? Without self-reliance one cannot exercise these innate desires to serve. How can we give if there is nothing there? Food for the hungry cannot come from empty shelves. Money to assist the needy cannot come from an empty purse. Support and understanding cannot come from the emotionally starved. Teaching cannot come from the unlearned. And most important of all, spiritual guidance cannot come from the spiritually weak.

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There is an interdependence between those who have and those who have not. The process of giving exalts the poor and humbles the rich. In the process, both are sanctified. The poor, released from the bondage and limitations of poverty, are enabled as free men to rise to their full potential, both temporally and spiritually. The rich, by imparting of their surplus, participate in the eternal principle of giving. Once a person has been made whole, or self-reliant, he reaches out to aid others, and the cycle repeats itself.

We are all self-reliant in some areas and dependent in others. Therefore, each of us should strive to help others in areas where we have strengths. At the same time, pride should not prevent us from graciously accepting the helping hand of another when we have a real need. To do so denies another person the opportunity to participate in a sanctifying experience.

One of the three areas emphasized in the mission of the Church is to perfect the Saints, and this is the purpose of the welfare program. This is not a doomsday program, but a program for our lives here and now, because now is the time for us to perfect our lives. May we continue to hold fast to these truths.

Notes

  1. Albert E. Bowen, The Church Welfare Plan (Gospel Doctrine course of study, 1946), 77.
  2. “Fable of the Gullible Gull,” Reader’s Digest, Oct. 1950, 32.
  3. Henry D. Moyle, in Conference Report, Apr. 1948, 5.
  4. David O. McKay, in Conference Report, Oct. 1936, 103

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GOING FISHING

Has fishing season begun? I don’t keep track of that anymore, but it seems like it’s time. One of the happy memories of my childhood was going fishing with my Daddy. We got to use “Uncle Leo’s” boat. He built it himself. He was a fantastic carpenter, and his “shop” was right across the street from us, in a lot behind a home. Once when Mom let me build a high-jump pit in part of her garden (I was preparing for the Olympics), I hauled many loads of sawdust from Uncle Leo’s shop in our little red wagon. I loved the smell of the lumber and the sound of the saw. When Uncle Leo built the boat, he carved a “head” to put on the front. He kept the boat at Navajo Lake. Several families in our neighborhood had gone together to build a little cabin (and I’m not kidding when I call it “rustic”). But oh the happy times when we got in Uncle Leo’s boat to go fishing. I caught a trout once, and it thrilled me to have Daddy be so proud of me.

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The other day I saw a video (yes, on YouTube) of a great fisher… an OSPREY. And this mighty fisher goes after a trout. It’s an amazing video. Turn on your sound, because the narration helps to make it so fascinating. Enjoy!!   https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yQOVcP67zFM