Thanks Given during Holiday Season

REXBURG, Idaho—Though the struggle to recover from the Teton Dam flood last June is by no means over, the Saints and their neighbors are taking time to savor the joy of the Christmas season.

Even those who lost homes, businesses, and irreplaceable personal possessions still find much to be joyful about.

Perhaps that is because in their great mutual need, they discovered last summer the spirit of giving, sharing, and serving that Christmas is all about.

Though some evidence of the flood is still around, most has been cleaned up. Buildings that were unsafe to use have been razed (see photo story) and are being replaced, and downtown Rexburg sports brand new buildings where Christmas shopping was on schedule.

The Saints in the flood-stricken cities have found much to be thankful for in the holiday season. For example, Sister LaRie Howard of Rexburg spoke to Utah state official Jack S. Bailey of how the Lord had taught her family a lesson in priorities:

“At the time of the flood our son, Cody, had been gathering things he needed for his mission. We aren’t rich, and so we have been planning for a long time.

“In his bedroom, he had a box with five white shirts and some socks. He also had some books that had been given him for his mission.

“The last thing he did before the flood hit was to put those books on his bed thinking that they would be safe and above any water that might get into the house. When he went back down to find them—and he had to wade in water up to his waist—he found that the mattress had floated and the books were safe.

“Later, when we started to clean up the house, he rummaged around in his room to see if there was anything that we could save. There was hardly anything—all of it was either wet and muddy or carried off by the flood.

“Then he came out of his bedroom carrying the shirt box. It had been covered with mud and was literally falling to pieces.

“He had a strange look on his face and he said, ‘Mother, do you believe this?’ Inside that ruined box were those five white shirts, completely dry. The water and the mud hadn’t touched them.

“I’ve heard people talk about miracles in their lives, and I guess I’ve usually been skeptical myself. But when he came out of his room with those shirts you could feel the Spirit saying to us, ‘He needs to be on a mission.’”

Sister Howard told about a man whose attitude has undergone a profound change since the flood. “He says that his eyes fill with tears when he looks at his older children. He realizes that had the flood come at night he wouldn’t have those children—they all sleep in the basement, and the flood came so fast they wouldn’t have been able to get out. He feels like it was the hand of the Lord that blessed us in this area.”

Blessing? A flood? Sister Howard says, “I don’t feel that the Lord said, ‘The people in this valley need a lesson.’ I feel the lessons and the blessings have come since the flood in the way people have felt towards each other. It’s made everybody so close.”

Perhaps it is a blessing. Wouldn’t it be good to be able to look at all your neighbors and know that they are your friends, that they can be depended on, that when the times are rough they have the stamina to build back? If courage and kindness are contagious, in flood-stricken Idaho they’re a pleasant epidemic.

[photo] Downtown Rexburg looks like a boom town, with dozens of new buildings beckoning customers on the main streets.

[photos] Its foundation so badly damaged that it is unsafe to live in, … the house is razed in only seven minutes, … and its replacement has already been raised.

Church Policies and Announcements

The following items were published in Messages, number 9, November 12, 1976.

1977 Commemoration of the Restoration of the Aaronic Priesthood

The restoration of the Aaronic Priesthood should be commemorated on May 14 and 15, 1977. Appropriate commemoration activities and services should be planned by local priesthood leaders. A new filmstrip entitled “Ordination—the Impact of the Aaronic Priesthood on the Life of a Young Man,” together with a suggested outline for its use, will be sent in April to stake presidents in sufficient quantity for one to be placed in each ward meetinghouse library. The filmstrip should be used as part of the commemoration observance. (Melchizedek Priesthood Executive Committee)

Visits with Missionaries

Long experience has shown that it is not wise for missionaries to telephone home or to talk by telephone to friends. It is even more distracting for the missionary effort to have parents and relatives visit a missionary in the field. Such visits or telephone calls are discouraged. The mission president should be consulted for permission before calls or visits are made. (Missionary Executive Committee)

Thai Translation Printed

The 30,000,000 speakers of Thai, the national language of Thailand, will now have access to the Book of Mormon in their native tongue.

The First Presidency has announced that the first 3,000-copy edition of the Book of Mormon in Thai was printed in Bangkok, the capital of Thailand, on 17 October 1976.

The translation was first assigned on 15 November 1969. Nine people worked over a period of seven years in the translation, review, typing, editing, and proofreading of the book. Now the Thai Book of Mormon becomes the first new translation to appear since the Afrikaans edition was published in 1972. Indonesian, Vietnamese, and Greek translations will soon appear.

The Book of Mormon is currently in use in nineteen languages besides English.

LDS Scene

The king of Tonga now holds a degree from Brigham Young University. In ceremonies held at Brigham Young University—Hawaii Campus on 20 October 1976, King Taufa‘ahau Tupou IV received an honorary doctor of humanities degree. A strong advocate of education for his 90,000 subjects, King Tupou expressed his pleasure at the Mormon influence in Tonga, where present Church membership is 15,000. The Church operates a dozen schools in Tonga.

The Church has been awarded one of 70 Certificates of Merit in the 23rd annual National Landscape Awards program in 1976 for the beautiful landscaping around the Washington Temple. First Lady Betty Ford presented the award for the landscaping designed by Church landscape architect Irvin T. Nelson, recently retired from the Church Operations and Maintenance Division. The awards program is sponsored by the American Association of Nurserymen.

“Home Is Heaven on Earth” will be the theme of the Church’s float in the 1977 Rose Parade on New Year’s Day in Pasadena. California. Depicting the theme will be the Osmonds, a famous Latter-day Saint entertaining group, who will ride the float as a family. Because last year’s float was considered a success as a missionary tool, it was decided to enter again this year. The float will be paid for by donations from Church members in the region.

It’s not every day that a high school choir gets to represent an entire state in the nation’s capital, but that’s what the largely LDS Orem High School A Cappella Choir got to do. Also representing the state of Utah in the Bicentennial Parade of American Music in the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts were BYU’s American Folk Dancers. The two groups gave joint performances on November 11 and 12.

While in Washington, D.C., the BYU Folk Dancers stopped by the White House to present a trophy to the people of the United States from the people of Israel. The 30-inch trophy was given to the Folk Dancers last summer while they were participating in the Second International Folklore Festival of Israel in Haifa.

Marion Jones Callister is the first Latter-day Saint ever to hold the office of U.S. District Judge in the state of Idaho. A former bishop and stake president now serving the Church as a scoutmaster, he was U.S. Attorney for Idaho prior to his appointment as judge. He and his wife, Nina Lynn Hayes Callister, have raised twelve children and eight foster children.

The Golden Eagle Award once again found its way to BYU’s Motion Picture Studio. Following up on the success of BYU’s Cipher in the Snow two years ago, the films The Great Dinosaur Discovery and Coronary Counterattack will now represent the United States in international film festivals. Dinosaur Discovery is the story of paleontologist Jim Jensen’s dream come true—the discovery of the world’s largest dinosaur, a sauropod more than sixty feet tall, a hundred feet long, and weighing over a hundred tons. Coronary Counterattack is a physical fitness film following up on BYU’s best-selling film Run Dick, Run Jane.