“News of the Church,” Liahona, Sep 2006, N1–N13
Choir Honored for Broadcast 4,000 of Music and the Spoken Word
By Brittany Karford, Church Magazines
Brittany Karford, “Choir Honored for Broadcast 4,000 of Music and the Spoken Word ,” Liahona, Sept. 2006, N1–N2
Both President Gordon B. Hinckley and U.S. President George W. Bush had something to say at the 4,000th broadcast of Music and the Spoken Word, the world’s longest-running continuous network radio broadcast.
The 4,000th program is but one more record for the weekly Sunday broadcast. It is a notable achievement for broadcasting both in the United States and around the world.
“We are thrilled with its continued prosperity,” said Scott Barrick, general manager of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, which performs at every broadcast. “People still love the music—it’s a vibrant force for good in the world today.”
The 4,000th broadcast featured “A Legacy of Music through 4,000 Broadcasts”—a special retrospective broadcast tracing historical and meaningful moments in the program’s 77-year history—and included a recorded message from President Bush.
Brother Barrick said the president was grateful to be involved. During its nearly 160-year history, the Mormon Tabernacle Choir has performed for 10 U.S. presidents and at 5 presidential inaugurations. The choir’s most recent appearance at the White House was in November 2003 to be awarded the National Medal of Arts, the nation’s highest honor for artistic excellence.
Recognition during the program also came from Utah governor Jon Huntsman Jr., who proclaimed the April 30th milestone as Mormon Tabernacle Choir Day in Utah.
Yet even with all the choir has accomplished, Brother Barrick said there is much more to look forward to. “President Hinckley said the choir is only at the foothills of what it could accomplish,” he said, recalling the prophet’s words from the 2004 celebration of Music and the Spoken Word’s 75th year. “The 4,000th is just another marker on the slope President Hinckley has asked us to climb.”
Those in attendance at the Conference Center were privileged to see and hear from President Hinckley, who spoke briefly in a live program following the retrospective broadcast. U.S. senator Orrin Hatch, Governor Huntsman, and others who are involved with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir also gave brief statements.
Led by music director Craig Jessop, the Mormon Tabernacle Choir performed with the Orchestra at Temple Square following the broadcast. Since its initial broadcast on July 15, 1929, Music and the Spoken Word has featured the Mormon Tabernacle Choir weekly, joined in recent years by the orchestra. Over the years, the program has featured a variety of religious, patriotic, folk, show-tune, and other music, accompanied by inspirational spoken messages.
“Four thousand broadcasts over a period of more than 75 years is a truly remarkable achievement and a notable affirmation of Music and the Spoken Word’s enduring quality,” said choir president Mac Christensen in a press release.
The actual broadcast was narrated by longtime CBS newsman Charles Osgood—the choir’s “poet-in-residence”—and was broadcast live on KSL TV Channel 5.
[photo] The Mormon Tabernacle Choir performs during the 4,000th broadcast of Music and the Spoken Word, the longest-running radio broadcast in the world.
[photo] President Gordon B. Hinckley honors the choir for reaching the 4000th broadcast of Music and the Spoken Word.
New Temple Announcement Answers Members’ Prayers
“New Temple Announcement Answers Members’ Prayers,” Liahona, Sept. 2006, N2–N3
It’s been 22 years since the only temple in the Philippines was built in Manila. Now it’s time for another. In April the Church announced that the Saints of the island country will receive a new temple in Cebu.
The new temple will serve members in the central and southern parts of the Philippines who will no longer have to travel the long distance to the Manila temple, which was built in 1984.
“The news of the announcement of the new temple to be built on the Cebu Island spread like wildfire throughout the Visayan Islands and in Mindanao,” President Ray W. Nelson, the Manila Philippines Temple president, told Church magazines. “This has become an answer to the prayers of the Saints, who are eager to have a temple constructed nearer their area. These Saints have exercised determination in their temple trips to Manila and normally experience a great deal of sacrifice to the point of selling material possessions just to allocate funds for their trip.”
In 2005 a group of Saints traveled 12 hours aboard a flatbed truck under inhospitable weather and road conditions to perform ordinances for themselves and their ancestors.
The youth in the Philippines have also been responsive in going to the temple to do baptisms and confirmations. The Manila temple has had to run a tight schedule to accommodate them.
Sister Kleah Nelson, matron of the Manila temple, told Church magazines that a group of more than 60 youth from a remote, rural area with no electricity or plumbing in the Visayans recently sacrificed to come to the temple in Manila.
“Because of the service project organized by very dedicated missionaries, all the youth were able to come dressed appropriately in white shirts and ties and girls in lovely Sunday dresses,” Sister Nelson stated.
This youth group performed more than 2,000 baptisms and confirmations.
A local priesthood leader said that there had been a “marked difference” in the attitudes of the youth who went to the temple to perform ordinances for the dead.
“This has helped them remember their commitments to the Lord as they face the challenges and pressures they experience as teenagers,” said Elder Michael John U. Teh, an Area Seventy in the Philippines.
Missionary work in the Philippines first began in 1898 when two Latter-day Saint servicemen from Utah, who were set apart as missionaries before their departure, preached the gospel. The work picked up after World War II, and in 1961 the Church was officially registered in the Philippines.
Manila and Cebu City were the first two missions in the Philippines. The year the Manila temple was built, Church membership was 76,000. Today, Church membership in the Philippines is more than 520,000 with more than 1,000 congregations. The Cebu temple is the 132nd temple of the Church that is announced, under construction, or operating.
[map] A second temple in the Philippines has been announced for the island of Cebu.
Fulfilling Our Duty to God: A Window of Opportunity
By Charles W. Dahlquist II, Young Men General President
Charles W. Dahlquist II, “Fulfilling Our Duty to God: A Window of Opportunity,” Liahona, Sept. 2006, N3–N6
The First Presidency announced a few years ago a new achievement program for the young men of the Church. Aaronic Priesthood: Fulfilling Our Duty to God was created to help young men prepare for the Melchizedek Priesthood, the temple endowment, a full-time mission, marriage, and fatherhood through setting and achieving worthy goals. On September 28, 2001, the First Presidency sent a letter to priesthood leaders stating: “We desire all young men to strive to earn the Eagle Scout [in the United States and Canada] and Duty to God Awards. We desire all young women to strive to earn the Young Womanhood Recognition. As youth work on these goals, they will develop skills and attributes that will lead them to the temple and prepare them for a lifetime of service to their families and the Lord.”
In this fall’s Young Men open house and workshops, as well as in other upcoming training, the Young Men general presidency will be emphasizing the important role parents and quorum leaders play in helping young men reap the promised blessings of this program.
As I have traveled throughout the world, I have been pleased with the progress young men have made in the program. However, there are still many young men and their leaders who know very little about the program. Yet our youth are hungry for opportunities to achieve and develop their talents and abilities.
I was recently in Vladivostok, on the east coast of Russia. As I sat on the stand at the beginning of a youth and adult fireside, I noticed a young man in the second row immersed in a Duty to God guidebook for priests. I was thrilled and thought to myself: “Marvelous! Seventeen time zones away from Salt Lake City, and Duty to God is alive and well.” When I rose to speak, I asked him what his name was.
“Gere,” was the reply.
“How old are you?”
I then moved to my real inquiry: “I noticed that you have been reading a book. What book have you been reading?”
Quickly came the reply: “I don’t know!”
“Well, where did you get it?”
“Out in the hall just before the meeting!” was his reply.
Immediately, as Gere spoke, Dimitri, a young man on the front row, jumped up, left the room, quickly returned with his own copy, and began to read. They were so ready for opportunities to grow.
The program is intended to be individual-, quorum-, and family-oriented. This means that many of the requirements for each of the deacon, teacher, and priest awards may be accomplished at home—and signed off by a young man’s parents. Thus, the first place a young man and his parents should become acquainted with the program and the guidebook is in the home. Let’s see just how this might happen.
The Visit from Priesthood Leaders
My friend Dan is 11 years old, and soon he will be ordained a deacon. Shortly before he becomes a deacon, Dan will receive a visit from the deacons quorum presidency in his ward and either a member of the bishopric or his deacons quorum adviser to welcome him into the quorum. They will explain to Dan and his parents all the wonderful things that Dan will be able to do when he receives the Aaronic Priesthood and is ordained a deacon, such as passing the sacrament, collecting fast offerings, being involved in service projects, and attending priesthood meeting and Mutual.
They will probably also share with Dan the wonderful blessing it is to bear the Aaronic Priesthood, which was restored by John the Baptist when he appeared to Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery on the banks of the Susquehanna River and said, “Upon you my fellow servants, in the name of Messiah I confer the Priesthood of Aaron, which holds the keys of the ministering of angels, and of the gospel of repentance, and of baptism by immersion for the remission of sins” (D&C 13:1).
They will bring Dan his own copy of the deacon’s Aaronic Priesthood: Fulfilling Our Duty to God (item no. 36412) guidebook. They will explain to Dan what the program is and what it is to accomplish. They might have Dan read the promise of the First Presidency to each deacon who works on and achieves the Duty to God Award:
“The Lord believes in you and has an important mission for you to do. He will help you as you turn to Him in prayer. Listen for the promptings of the Spirit. Obey the commandments. Make and keep covenants that will prepare you for the temple. Work with your parents and leaders as you set goals and strive to achieve them. You will feel a great sense of accomplishment as you fulfill your duty and prepare for the exciting challenges of the future.”1
In the Home
Since many of the requirements can and should be fulfilled in the home, the quorum adviser will suggest that Dan’s father and mother become familiar with the requirements. Dan’s parents may receive a Guidebook for Parents and Leaders of Youth (item no. 36415), which explains their role in helping Dan. A number of the requirements (especially those in the “Family Activities” and “Spiritual Development” sections) are appropriate for family home evenings or for Sunday and will help Dan keep the Sabbath day holy.
His parents will want to know, for example, that one requirement is for Dan to give four family home evening lessons during his time as a deacon. They can arrange for him to learn how to prepare and give those lessons. They will also want to know that Dan (and possibly the entire family) will review and rememorize the Articles of Faith. Dan also needs to prepare at least two meals for his family, fill out a four-generation pedigree chart, complete a service project, develop the habit of reading the scriptures daily, and read the For the Strength of Youth pamphlet (item no. 36550) and discuss it with his parents or priesthood leader.
As Dan’s parents learn about the program, they will know how they can help and support him in accomplishing its requirements. What a great thing it would be for Dan’s father to review Dan’s progress toward his deacon certificate in father’s interviews with his son. During these interviews it might be helpful for Dan’s father to ask: How are these goals helping prepare you for your mission? How do they help prepare you for the temple? Tell me how your testimony has grown as you have read the Book of Mormon. How do you think your efforts in accomplishing your Duty to God goals are helping strengthen our family and helping you be a better son? How are your efforts preparing you to be a husband and father? (In families without a father in the home, this is a wonderful time for a mother to talk with her son about his goals and dreams and to discuss these same questions.)
In the Quorum
Dan’s quorum president may also mention to him that some of the requirements are quorum based and that quorum activities will be planned to help Dan fulfill these requirements. The president may also review Dan’s progress with him periodically and may check with Dan’s parents now and then to see how the quorum can help. The quorum presidencies and advisers will also plan Mutual activities to help him complete the goals leading to his Duty to God Award. The bishopric can also use their regularly scheduled interviews to review Dan’s progress. They might even have an adult in the ward or branch, possibly the secretary to the Young Men presidency, help track each young man’s progress in the program.
Certificates and Advancement
When Dan has accomplished all the requirements for the deacon certificate, he will have an interview with the bishop to review his progress and sign the “Completion of Duty to God” page at the end of his deacon’s booklet. Dan can then receive his deacon Duty to God certificate.
Shortly before Dan becomes a teacher and then again when he is ready to become a priest, he may receive a similar visit from his quorum leaders to receive his teacher (and then priest) Duty to God guidebook. When he has received his deacon, teacher, and priest certificates, he is eligible to receive his Duty to God medallion. And though that, in itself, is a wonderful accomplishment, the most important result of Dan’s efforts will be the personal growth he has experienced in earning the award—personal growth that will help him be better prepared to receive the ordinances of the temple, to serve a full-time mission, and to be a faithful husband and father.
If you are a parent of a young man in the Aaronic Priesthood, I encourage you to carefully study the appropriate Fulfilling Our Duty to God guidebook, as well as the Guidebook for Parents and Leaders of Youth. Discuss the requirements and purposes of the program with your son, and help him set appropriate goals that will challenge him. You will note that the requirements listed in the guidebooks may be modified according to the individual circumstances, interests, and needs of the young man—with the approval of parents and Aaronic Priesthood leaders.
A Window of Opportunity
With the challenges that are bombarding young men today—Satan’s attempts to weaken them and lead them astray—there has never been a greater need for the blessings that come through achieving the Duty to God Award. A young man who is dedicated to reading the scriptures daily, memorizing the Articles of Faith, and accomplishing the other requirements will not only be more focused on that which is good and right and true, but he will be more prepared to shun evil.
When I was a teenager in Mutual, we learned a scripture that was our theme for the year: “For behold, this life is the time for men to prepare to meet God; yea, behold the day of this life is the day for men to perform their labors” (Alma 34:32).
The window of opportunity with our young men is not open for very long and passes so swiftly. Today, as the scripture teaches, is the day to perform our labors. The First Presidency has challenged the young men in the Church: “You live in a day of great challenges and opportunities. You have been called to make a difference in the world. As a son of God, with the power of the Aaronic Priesthood, you can be a wonderful force for good.”2
May God bless each parent and leader of young men in the Aaronic Priesthood to begin today to understand the Duty to God program and to help our young men achieve the objectives of this program.
To Home Teachers
Often a young man of Aaronic Priesthood age is the only member of the Church in his family. In such a case or in single-parent families, home teachers can help support a young man in his priesthood duties and in accomplishing the requirements for the Duty to God Award.
Checklist for Parents
1. Get a copy of the Guidebook for Parents and Leaders of Youth (item no. 36415) as well as the appropriate Aaronic Priesthood: Fulfilling Our Duty to God guidebook (item nos. 36412 [deacon], 36413 [teacher], 36414 [priest]). If you don’t already have a guidebook, you may wish to show this article to your bishop or branch president or to your son’s Aaronic Priesthood adviser and ask when you might expect a visit. (These guidebooks are available at no charge at local distribution centers and in the U.S. and Canada through www.ldscatalog.com.)
2. Become familiar with each of the requirements for the appropriate Duty to God certificate.
3. With your son, review the requirements he has completed, and help him select those he still needs to accomplish. You may find the Duty to God Achievement Record (item no. 36720) helpful. Remember, you can modify the requirements or write your own to meet the needs of some young men.
4. Help your son plan when he will work on and complete each goal. Discuss how you and the family can help him. You might also discuss how each of these goals will strengthen the family and help prepare your son to become an effective missionary.
5. Set a regular time to review progress. Have your son keep his guidebook in a safe place. Remember that young men need praise when they have accomplished a goal. Be generous, specific, and sincere in your praise.
6. Repeat steps 3 to 5 above. Have fun working with your son as he strives to complete his requirements.
[photo] Many Duty to God requirements are appropriate for family home evening or Sunday activities.
Pioneer Concert Broadcast from Conference Center
By Abbey Olsen, Church Magazines
Abbey Olsen, “Pioneer Concert Broadcast from Conference Center,” Liahona, Sept. 2006, N6–N7
Thousands gathered in the Conference Center on July 21, 2006, and in locations around the world for a July 23 rebroadcast, for a Mormon Tabernacle Choir and Orchestra on Temple Square concert to celebrate the 159th anniversary of the first Latter-day Saint pioneer company to enter the Salt Lake Valley on July 24, 1847, and the 150th anniversary of the first handcart companies to enter the valley.
“The Choir and Orchestra were honored to be invited by the First Presidency to help commemorate the great latter-day pioneers who laid the foundation for so much of what we cherish as members of the Church,” Mormon Tabernacle Choir music director Craig Jessop told the Church magazines. “Our commemoration concert was meant to be a celebration of the pioneer spirit, not only of those who went before us, but also of those who are pioneering in the Church today.”
One such pioneering family was invited to perform with the Choir and Orchestra at the concert. The Brett Family Singers are a Latter-day Saint family who perform a daily morning variety show broadcast over PBS television from Branson, Missouri.
The Brett family’s performance in the Pioneer Day concert was not the first time they have sung with the Choir and Orchestra. On December 4, 2005, the family members were guests on the Music and the Spoken Word broadcast and performed a mini-concert for the choir afterward.
Tom Brett said of performing with the Choir: “The experience of being with the Lord’s choir like that—it brought [new] meaning to our music. It really helped us to focus. … It helped us feel inspired to lift it to a different level of excellence.”
Three years have passed since the last Pioneer Day commemoration concert because the Choir and Orchestra focused their efforts on celebrating President Gordon B. Hinckley’s 95th birthday in 2005 and the 75th anniversary of Music and the Spoken Word in 2004.
Past Pioneer Day concerts have included music from the Nauvoo Temple dedication and hymns associated with pioneer heritage. The Pioneer Day concert this year was listed as an official event in Salt Lake City’s pioneer celebration, the Days of ’47.
Archived audio and video versions are available at www.lds.org/broadcast.
The Internet audio archive of the concert eventually will be available in 17 languages: English, Cambodian, Cantonese, French, Haitian, Hmong, Korean, Laotian, Mandarin, Marshallese, Navajo, Polish, Portuguese, Samoan, Spanish, Tongan, and Vietnamese. The archived video version will be available in English, American Sign Language, and Spanish.
October Liahona Special Issue Aimed at Helping New Members
“October Liahona Special Issue Aimed at Helping New Members,” Liahona, Sept. 2006, N7
New members of the Church and those who work with them will receive an important additional resource in October. The October Liahona will speak directly to those who have recently joined the Church, providing information and encouragement aimed at strengthening their testimonies and commitment while explaining some of the blessings and challenges associated with joining the Church.
New and long-time members alike will find the issue helpful in dealing with common challenges and frequently asked questions. The issue features a welcome by President Gordon B. Hinckley, what a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles wishes every member knew, and articles addressing the topics of learning new traditions and leaving old ones behind, finding peace in part-member families, how to share what you’ve learned, finding your place in the Church, and more.
The issue will retain all of the magazine’s usual departments, including the First Presidency Message, Visiting Teaching Message, Sharing Time, and Latter-day Saint Voices, yet each article will contain a special message for new members. Many converts will share how they overcame the challenges and difficulties they experienced as new members. The issue will also include an introduction to the Church magazines and suggestions for getting the most out of them.
For members who would like additional copies of the issue, the magazine will be available through local distribution centers.
Additional Sharing Time Ideas, September 2006
“Sharing Time: Additional Sharing Time Ideas, September 2006,” Liahona, Sept. 2006, N8
The following are additional ideas Primary leaders may use with the Sharing Time printed in the September 2006 Liahona. For the lesson, instructions, and activity that correspond with these ideas, see “Comfort and Courage from the Scriptures” on pages F4 and F5 of the children’s section in this issue.
1. Show Gospel Art Picture Kit 517 (Spencer W. Kimball), and explain that when President Kimball was called to be an Apostle he turned to the scriptures for comfort and support. President Kimball said that 1 Nephi 3:7 gave him comfort. Have the children look up the scripture and read the words of Nephi.
Tell the children that you want them to find some of the other promises taught in the scriptures that give us comfort when we face hard things. Before Primary ask three older children to read the following scriptures during sharing time: John 14:26 (the Holy Ghost), D&C 108:8 (the Lord will bless us and deliver us), and 1 John 2:25 (eternal life). Ask the children to listen for what the promises are as the three children each read a scripture. Testify to the children that they can find comfort and courage in the scriptures just as President Kimball did.
Help the children understand Romans 15:4, another scripture about finding comfort in the scriptures. Write on either wordstrips or the chalkboard: “… things … were written … that we … might have hope.”
Have the children recite this several times. Explain that three periods ( … ) mean that one or more words have been left out of a quotation. Adding just a few words at a time, teach the scripture, defining such words as whatsoever (any or all) and aforetime (at an earlier time). Add “comfort of the scriptures” last.
2. Display the map “The Persian Empire.” (This is map 912 in the meetinghouse library or map 12 in the map section of the scriptures; it can also be printed from www.lds.org under “The Scriptures,” “Study Helps: Bible Maps,” “7. The Persian Empire.”) Explain that the Persian Empire was very large. To give the children an idea of how large, compare the land area to something with which they are familiar. For example, you could say, “The Persian Empire was almost as large as the continental United States.” Place a star on the city of Susa (also called Shushan), and explain that the star represents two things: (1) Susa was the capital of the Persian Empire, and (2) it was the home of Esther. Esther’s name means “star.” Explain that Esther’s name was appropriate because she was a guide to her people. Invite the children to listen as you tell Esther’s story (see Esther 4–5). Focus on how she risked her life by going before the king, asked the people to fast for her, and submitted to the Lord’s will when she said, “If I perish, I perish” (Esther 4:16). Ask the children what Esther did to be an example to her people.
Tell the children that they can be examples when they have courage like Esther. Ask them what they could do and what they could say to show the kind of courage Esther had. Alternate between what the children can do (“I can invite a friend to Primary” or “I can turn off a television show that isn’t appropriate”) and what they can say (“I don’t think the words to this song are very good. Let’s listen to something else” or “Let’s include Joey in our baseball game. He looks lonely”).
“Speaking Today,” Liahona, Sept. 2006, N9–N12
President Faust Urges Young Adults to Seek New Beginnings
At a Church Educational System fireside broadcast from the Salt Lake City Utah University Institute May 7, 2006, President James E. Faust, Second Counselor in the First Presidency, urged young adults to look for opportunities and new beginnings.
“Beloved of the Lord,” he quoted from Paul’s message to the Thessalonians, “God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth” (2 Thessalonians 2:13).
“Here, Paul says that you were chosen from the beginning,” President Faust said. “There are many beginnings. Some of you are beginning your important educational career. How you start, where you are going, is of transcendent importance.”
As a young man, President Faust competed in races both in high school and at the University of Utah. He would train, stretch, watch his diet, and do myriad other things to prepare for the track meets. Preparing for the start of the race was crucial.
“We knew if we did not prepare and get a good start, we could not hope to finish in front,” he said.
President Faust said Paul gave an insightful admonition: “Know ye not that they which run in a race run all, but one receiveth the prize? So run, that ye may obtain” (1 Corinthians 9:24).
President Faust said business scandals, bankruptcies, floods, hurricanes, earthquakes, and other disasters have plagued the world.
“It has been a time for caution and reserve,” he said. “Yet for those … who are bold enough, innovative enough, creative enough, wise enough, there have been as many opportunities as ever. Out of every tragedy comes opportunity.”
President Faust said when a person faces new beginnings, it is sometimes necessary to change or readjust a goal when a choice becomes no longer available.
“For instance, you may not be accepted to the school you always wanted to attend or the door is closed to the career path you wanted to pursue or the special person in your life chooses to marry someone else,” he said. “At such times, it is important to realize that other choices are available to you and new beginnings are possible. Surely as one door closes, another one opens.”
President Faust said every year offers new opportunities, and it will take courage to face the changes necessary.
“For those who can adapt, who can bend, who can modify, who can improve, lies great opportunity,” he said. “Sometimes we need to have the strength not to take counsel from our fears.”
President Faust offered six essential measures to ensure a daily spiritual renewal and strength to face challenges: (1) communicate with Heavenly Father through prayer, (2) give selfless service, (3) increase in obedience and perfection, (4) acknowledge divinity, (5) study scriptures, and (6) do something.
“Life is fuller and richer and better for those who are not afraid to make a new beginning,” President Faust said. “Most of life’s rich rewards come to those who prepare carefully. Preparation and staying power are more valuable than brilliance.”
President Faust said that without repentance, there can be no beginning.
“Surely repentance is one of the great principles of the gospel,” he said. “No one is perfect, and we all need to invoke this principle from time to time.”
He said for those who have committed serious transgression, repentance is a life-saving principle.
“The longer we go down the wrong road, the harder it is to come back and get on the right road,” he said.
President Faust concluded his talk with his testimony: “I do so as one of the special witnesses, declaring to you with all the conviction of my being and every cell of my body—from the crown of my head to the soles of my feet—that Jesus is the Christ and the Redeemer of the world, and our Savior and the head of this Church. … He lives. There is no question about that.”
He said, “I invoke that blessing upon you and pray that our Heavenly Father will watch over you in all your comings and goings and guide your footsteps in paths of truth and righteousness, that you will be wise beyond your years, that you will be sensitive to your great destiny and your great promise.”
[photo] President James E. Faust
Spiritual Safety a Concern, Elder Nelson Advises
Elder Russell M. Nelson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles warned graduates at Brigham Young University–Idaho that they are entering a wicked world where spiritual safety is constantly in danger. Elder Nelson presided over graduation services there on April 29, 2006.
To help graduates protect themselves, Elder Nelson offered in his address what he called three circles of safety: the family, the Saints, and the Savior.
“Spiritually strong families are made by individual effort,” Elder Nelson said of the first circle. “Hearken to this counsel given by President Brigham Young: ‘Individual self-government lies at the root of all true government. On heaven or on earth, this will apply to great kingdoms and mighty nations or to the home circle.’ Self-control must be strong—strong enough, for example, to keep us from the ever-expanding evil plague of pornography.”
Elder Nelson admonished graduates to avoid such temptations that would destroy their families.
Regarding the circle of safety of the Saints, Elder Nelson recalled how Latter-day Saint pioneers “circled the wagons” for safety as they crossed the plains to Utah. He said the practice continues figuratively today, providing protection for members of the Church. “The moment one strays from the safety of the circle of the Saints, one is at additional risk of attack by evil, conspiring predators,” he said.
Elder Nelson then explained the circle of safety the Savior provides. “That circle is timeless,” Elder Nelson said. “It extends from premortal to mortal and postmortal realms. Here and now, we keep close to heaven through daily prayer and scripture study. Later, thanks to the Atonement of the Lord, we may be encircled about in the arms of His love.”
Elder Nelson concluded by teaching the graduates that their hopes can be realized by staying within those circles of safety and following the commandments of God.
[photo] Elder Russell M. Nelson
Elder Hales Counsels Graduates to Serve, Avoid Debt
“Enter to learn; go forth to serve” is the axiom students hear during their studies at Brigham Young University, and graduates who gathered on April 27, 2006, for commencement heard it again.
Elder Robert D. Hales of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles told the audience, “You entered this institution to learn, and today, as it has been said, you go forth to serve.”
Elder Hales told the new graduates that while in college, they were primarily focused on personal achievement and growth. He said now they must lose themselves in service to others. “Commencing today, you have the opportunity to lift your sights beyond yourself,” he said.
Elder Hales explained that the graduates can no longer act like students who memorize or regurgitate class lessons to impress others. “I’ve seen this with many MBA students who accept their first job thinking that what they know and say is more important than who they are and how they relate to others,” he said.
He said these graduates fail because they simply repeat what they’ve learned in order to be at the top of their class. They should instead focus their talents and abilities to help others be successful.
“You must use your education not to distinguish yourself from others, but to devote yourself to them—to helping them grow and flourish, even if it seems at the expense of your own prominence and glory,” he said.
Elder Hales said one area where education can be of service is in the home. “The world will try to convince you that the most important success is achieved in the workplace,” he said. “I salute all who will focus their efforts on the family. I especially salute you sisters who will train up our Heavenly Father’s children in the way they should go.”
Elder Hales said debt prevents people from giving service both temporally and spiritually. He urged those present to perform “plastic surgery” on their credit cards by cutting them up and discarding them.
“If you had to go into debt to obtain your education, I encourage you to repay your debts as soon as possible,” he said. “Then go forward with commitment not to finance on credit any item of any kind, except perhaps a house and vehicle that are well within your means.”
The 6,401 graduates honored at commencement were from 50 states, 3 U.S. territories, and 70 countries. Of the graduates, 923 received their master’s or doctorate degrees and 1,736 completed their course work in December.
[photo] Elder Robert D. Hales
Elder Kikuchi Encourages Korean, Japanese Students
Elder Yoshihiko Kikuchi of the Seventy shared words of encouragement with Korean and Japanese students at BYU–Hawaii during a special meeting on April 20, 2006.
Elder Kikuchi, the first native-born Japanese to be called as a General Authority, and his wife, Sister Toshiko Kikuchi, stopped over for the meetings in Hawaii en route to other assignments. He is currently serving in Salt Lake City, Utah, but previously was a member of the Asia North Area presidency, which includes Japan and Korea. He was also president of the Tokyo Japan Temple and president of the Hawaii Honolulu Mission.
Elder Kikuchi related how, as a young missionary called to serve in Japan for two years, he was first asked to extend for six months and then for an additional 12 months. He agreed without hesitation but each time asked his mission president to call the future Sister Kikuchi. “She was so happy that the Lord needed her future husband,” he recalled.
The young couple married soon after he returned, Elder Kikuchi continued. Then a Latter-day Saint American general who had been stationed in Japan offered to provide him with a complete scholarship and living expenses at Brigham Young University in Provo. “It was a wonderful, ideal situation,” he said, “but we felt we should stay in our country and serve the Church. We kindly turned down that great scholarship.”
Ten months after enrolling in the Asia University of Tokyo—where he eventually graduated in business psychology and management—“I was called as a branch president, and one year later our first daughter came,” Elder Kikuchi said, recalling he got by on four hours of sleep a night. “Those days were the most profound experiences of our lives.”
Elder Kikuchi stressed that though he never went to school in the United States, the Lord also blessed him with the ability to speak English. “I studied English very, very hard,” he said, adding he realized many of the students were struggling with this same challenge. “If you have a desire to serve Him, I promise you Heavenly Father will open your heart and mind. Let the Lord help you,” he said, adding that professors and others are important, “but far greater help will come from Jesus Christ.”
Elder Kikuchi encouraged the students to “go to the house of the Lord, sit in the celestial room, and see the eternal perspective.” He also encouraged them to read the Book of Mormon along with other scriptures every day.
Addressing the singles among the students, Elder Kikuchi said, “If you find somebody special, don’t wait. Get married. … I am glad I married right after my mission.”
“I love you,” he added. “Thank you for your faithfulness. I hope and pray that you will have a most glorious, wonderful student life here and then go home and be great leaders in your beautiful countries.”
[photo] Elder Yoshihiko Kikuchi
Church Donations Aid Romanian Flood Refugees
By Shaun D. Stahle, Church News staff writer
Shaun D. Stahle, “Church Donations Aid Romanian Flood Refugees,” Liahona, Sept. 2006, N12–N13
Deep snowpack in European mountains and heavy spring rains earlier this year filled the Danube River to its highest level in 65 years, causing severe flooding along the southern border of Romania and down into the Danube Delta near the Black Sea. Runoff was strong and powerful, breaking dikes built several years ago to prevent such flooding.
Fertile farmland was flooded and hundreds of small farms and houses were crumbled in its wake, leaving thousands homeless. Many of the older houses were built with a chalk-like material that crumbles when wet.
Refugee camps were established near many villages. Those living near the Danube fled their homes with only the clothes they were wearing.
With funding approved by the Europe Central Area presidency, Church humanitarian resources, missionaries, and members in Romania provided immediate relief to flood victims. Members from 4 of the 22 branches in Romania, along with 18 full-time missionaries, lined up in a meetinghouse in Bucharest to assemble more than 3,000 hygiene kits and food packets. These packets, with blankets, bread, and bottled water, were delivered to the Spantov, Chiselet, and Manasterea villages along the Danube River.
This was believed to be the largest emergency relief project undertaken by the Church in Romania, said humanitarian country directors Steven and Kristine Johnston.
“I feel so good. I feel satisfied,” said one member from Bucharest as three large delivery trucks were in the final stages of loading. Vasile Andreea and her 15-year-old brother, Vasile Marius-Florin, and a newly baptized member, Cosma Adrian, spent much of the day helping create the kits and loading the trucks. They enjoyed it so much that they found their own transportation to the afflicted villages, located more than 100 kilometers to the southeast of Bucharest, where they helped with distribution.
Many of the more than 3,000 flood victims expressed gratitude for the Church’s humanitarian donation. One woman told missionaries, “Another church brought us little crosses, but the Mormons brought us food.”
Another flood victim told President John Ashby of the Romania Bucharest Mission, “I didn’t know what I was going to eat tonight. All I have are the clothes on my back.”
During a visit to the afflicted area prior to the distribution of the packets, Elder and Sister Johnston met a little boy named Cosmin. His house had been destroyed and he was living under a tarp.
When the Johnstons returned a while later with food, he and his family were nowhere to be found.
“We desperately wanted to find them,” said Elder Johnston. “We promised them we would return with help. We left the distribution to others and began scouring the faces in the crowd of refugees, hoping to find him and his father and mother.
“Near the end of the day, after most materials were distributed, we found them standing off a distance from everyone else, waiting patiently. They were a contrast to the majority who pushed and shoved their way to the front of the line. We were touched by their humility and gratitude. Little Cosmin soon brought us flowers and said, ‘Thank you.’ ”
“I think [members having the opportunity to serve] was the most gratifying aspect of this project. We hope all the members here know that their Church is truly concerned with the less fortunate and follows the Lord’s admonition to care for the poor and needy,” Elder Johnston said. “The comfort provided by Church members and missionaries made a big difference to many people, both to the recipients and to those providing the service.”
[photo] Sisters Lindsay Shepard and Alyson Bowers comfort two Romanian women who were left homeless after the Danube River overflowed its banks. (Photograph by Kristine Johnston, courtesy of Church News.)