News of the Church

By Marvin K. Gardner

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    Remember Supreme Gift, First Presidency Urges

    The supreme gift of eternal life should be remembered during this season of gift giving, urged President Thomas S. Monson during the annual First Presidency Devotional held December 6.

    With a background of sparkling lights, red and white poinsettias, and simply decorated evergreen trees, President Monson, Second Counselor in the First Presidency, addressed the audience assembled in the Tabernacle on Temple Square.

    “Faith, sacrifice, love, and tears were part of that first Christmas in the Salt Lake Valley,” he noted. “They continue down through the years and find their way to our homes and hearts. Indeed, they are a part of what we call the Christmas spirit. …

    “President Hugh B. Brown counseled that the spirit of Christmas illuminates the picture window of the soul, and we look out upon the world’s busy life and become more interested in people than things. To catch the real meaning of the spirit of Christmas, we need only drop the last syllable, and it becomes the Spirit of Christ.

    “This is the spirit which marked that first Christmas day—a day foretold by the prophets of old,” President Monson explained. After quoting several scriptures prophesying the birth of Christ, President Monson continued: “One penetrating lesson taught at Christmastime is the lament of the Lord: ‘The foxes have holes, and the birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man hath not where to lay his head.’ (Matt. 8:20.)

    “‘No room at the inn’ dogged His footsteps and saddened His heart,” President Monson continued. “Let us remember the supreme gift described by the Apostle Paul: ‘The gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.’ (Rom. 6:23.) His promise is forever valid: ‘Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him.’ (Rev. 3:20.)

    “The real spirit of Christmas lies in His assurance: ‘I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live:

    “‘And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die.’ (John 11:25–26.)”

    President Gordon B. Hinckley, First Counselor in the First Presidency, conducted the devotional. He, too, remarked on the gift Jesus Christ gave to all people.

    “His is the gift given to all men to rise from the grave in resurrection. His is the invitation to go on to eternal life.

    “We love Him. We honor Him. We thank Him. We worship Him. He has done for each of us and for all mankind that which no other could have done. God be thanked for the gift of His Beloved Son, the Savior and Redeemer of the world, the Lamb without blemish who was offered as a sacrifice for all mankind.

    “We testify of His living reality,” President Hinckley concluded. “We testify of His divine love. In our times of grateful meditation, we acknowledge His priceless gift to us and pledge our love and faith. Again at this Christmas season, we bear witness of Him.”

    The Mormon Tabernacle Choir, with the sisters attired in red long dresses and the brethren in black tuxedos, provided the music for the devotional. They were joined by the congregation, who sang several well-known Christmas hymns.

    [photo] Bright trees and poinsettias decorate the Tabernacle for the First Presidency Christmas devotional. (Photography by Melanie Shumway.)

    [photo] President Monson discusses the Christmas spirit.

    Belize Nation and Chapel Are Dedicated

    On 7 December 1992, thirty-six members and leaders of the Church gathered in a secluded, grassy garden on a farm a few miles outside of Belize City, Belize. There, Elder Russell M. Nelson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles dedicated the nation of Belize for the preaching of the gospel. Later that evening, Elder Ted E. Brewerton of the Seventy, president of the Central America Area, dedicated the Belize City chapel.

    Belize is the seventh and final Central American nation to receive an Apostolic dedication. Years earlier, in 1952, Elder Spencer W. Kimball, then of the Quorum of the Twelve dedicated the entire area of Central America. Now each of the seven Central American nations has been individually dedicated.

    Formerly known as British Honduras, Belize, a small nation of approximately 200,000 inhabitants, lies along the Caribbean coast, bordered by Mexico and Guatemala. Its people are a mixture of African, European, and Indian descent. English is the official language: many also speak an English Creole dialect, Spanish, and one of various native Indian languages.

    The Church is a little more than twelve years old in Belize. On 11 May 1980, Samuel Flores, president of the Honduras Tegucigalpa Mission, held a sacrament meeting with a small group of missionaries in a hotel room in Belize City. From that quiet beginning, the Church has grown to 1,300 members living in three districts and eight branches.

    The presidents of all three districts, along with presidents and members of seven of the eight branches, attended the dedicatory services.

    In his prayer, Elder Nelson dedicated the land “for the purpose of bringing a rich harvest of choice souls unto thee, our beloved Father.” He prayed that “missionary work may abound,” and that local leaders “may be able to inculcate faith among their members, to perfect their lives to the point where they may be able to receive the sacred endowment offered in thy holy temples. We pray that thou wilt help us to raise up a generation of obedient and faithful souls who will be worthy of all the blessings that thou hast in store for thy faithful sons and daughters.”

    Elder Nelson also invoked a blessing upon the country, its people, and its leaders. He prayed that the Church members would “respect their government of law and order and be good citizens of the land.” He blessed the nation’s resources—“the beasts of the field, the birds of the air, the flowers, the fruits, the vegetables, the natural resources, that they may abound and provide the needs of the people of this choice land, and even have enough to share with people of the other nations of the earth.”

    He also prayed that Belize may become a “haven of peace, a sanctuary of faith.”

    [photo] Elder Russell M. Nelson of the Quorum of the Twelve and Elder Ted E. Brewerton of the Seventy attend dedication ceremonies in Belize. (Photography by Marvin K. Gardner.)

    [photo] Members in Belize are thrilled with the country’s dedication.

    First Presidency Designates Special Purpose for December Fast

    In December, the First Presidency released the following announcement to all members of the Church.

    Dear Brothers and Sisters,

    As has been true in ages past, we have witnessed the devastating effects of hurricane, flood, earthquake, and drought in various parts of the world. Our hearts are drawn to those who have and are suffering the severe effects of such calamities. An extended drought continues in the western area of the United States and Canada. Others have felt the results of severe weather in their locales. In such circumstances, we counsel our members to be faithful in keeping their covenants, including observances of the Sabbath day, paying an honest tithe and a generous fast offering, and fasting with a prayerful heart. The words of the Lord to the Prophet Isaiah counsel us:

    “Is not this the fast that I have chosen? to loose the bands of wickedness, to undo the heavy burdens, and to let the oppressed go free, and that ye break every yoke?

    “Is it not to deal thy bread to the hungry, and that thou bring the poor that are cast out to thy house? …

    “Then shalt thou call, and the Lord shall answer; thou shalt cry, and he shall say, Here I am. …

    “And the Lord shall guide thee continually, and satisfy thy soul in drought … and thou shalt be like a watered garden, and like a spring of water, whose waters fail not.” (Isa. 58:6, 7, 9, 11.)

    We call upon all members of the Church, in connection with the observance of the regular fast day in December, to petition the Lord for moisture in drought-stricken areas and for relief for those who are suffering from the effects of other calamities. We suggest that our people everywhere be most generous in their fast offering contributions so that means are available to assist the poor and needy, the sick, and the afflicted.

    Through a faithful observance of all of our Heavenly Father’s commandments, we can draw upon His promise: “I, the Lord, am bound when ye do what I say; but when ye do not what I say, ye have no promise.” (D&C 82:10.) It is our prayerful desire that members of the Church receive the blessings of happiness and peace promised to the obedient as we move forward in an era of enlarging and strengthening the work of the Lord.

    Sincerely your brethren,

    Ezra Taft Benson
    Gordon B. Hinckley

    Two New Missions Created

    The First Presidency has announced the creation of two new missions in Australia and India. Both missions were scheduled to begin operation in January 1993.

    Elder Glenn L. Pace of the Seventy serves as mission president of the Australia Sydney North Mission, which was organized through a division of the Australia Sydney Mission. The new unit brings to six the number of missions in the country, and it is the second mission based in Sydney. Other missions are headquartered in Adelaide, Brisbane, Melbourne, and Perth. There are nearly 80,000 members of the Church in Australia.

    Boundaries of the new India Bangalore Mission are shown on above map.

    Boundaries of the new India Bangalore Mission are shown on above map.

    Gurcharan Singh Gill of Provo, Utah, serves as mission president of the India Bangalore Mission, which was organized from the Singapore Mission. The new mission includes the countries of India, Sri Lanka, and Pakistan within its boundaries. There are approximately 1,200 Church members in those three countries.

    Cape Town Saints Serve Orphans

    In Cape Town, South Africa, members and missionaries combine efforts twice a month to see that refugee orphans who have flocked to the city get a well-balanced meal and some recreation.

    The youth, who come from many cultures, are organized into basketball teams and spend two days every month playing the sport in the LDS meetinghouse cultural hall. To many of the young people, it’s their first exposure to the games—and to the Church.

    The project was organized by Scott and Melissa Lewis, a violist and violinist in the Utah Symphony who spent one and a half years while on sabbatical playing in the Cape Town Symphony.

    During that time they became aware of a community program, sponsored by another local Christian church, that provided an opportunity each year for fifty youth to live in a boardinghouse and be integrated into the regular school system.

    Brother and Sister Lewis were impressed with the program, and when they realized the financial demands to keep the program running, they offered to organize three fund-raising concerts. They approached fellow musicians in the Cape Town Symphony, who willingly volunteered their time and musical talents. The concerts, which were held in the South Africa Cape Town Mission home, turned out to be a great opportunity for both the musicians and the children to learn more about the Church and its commitment to service.

    “Many of the musicians involved in the concert told us it was one of the best experiences of their lives,” said Sister Lewis. “It was also wonderful that the churches could work together for such a good cause.”

    Once the Lewises became involved in the program for helping the orphans, they couldn’t quit. They approached fellow members of the Cape Town First Ward, who eagerly got involved. With permission from local Church leaders, the basketball program was organized. It continues to be a service to refugee orphans. Relief Society sisters arrange a meal for the youth, tired and hungry after spending an afternoon playing ball.

    “This was fun for these kids because many of them had never even seen a basketball before. The friendships that we made with them will last forever,” Brother Lewis said.

    Ken Rogerson is a stake missionary in the Layton Utah Stake.

    McLellin Papers Available for Research

    In 1908, the Church acquired some papers written by William E. McLellin, one of the first Apostles in this dispensation. The records were stored away in the Church Historical Department and eventually forgotten. Those papers—several journals and four small manuscript books—have now been catalogued and are available for study by qualified researchers.

    The papers written by McLellin, who was excommunicated in 1838 and eventually became an enemy to the Church, contain significant information about what was happening in the Church during the 1830s, said Richard E. Turley, Jr., managing director of the Church Historical Department. Brother Turley is the author of a new book, Victims, an account of the Church’s victimization in the Mark Hofmann forgery and murder case. (During the late 1980s, Hofmann claimed to have materials written by McLellin. That material never existed.)

    According to Brother Turley, McLellin collected information about the Church before and after his excommunication. “At one time or another,” wrote Brother Turley in his book, “he reportedly owned the original record of the Quorum of the Twelve, two copies of A Book of Commandments, manuscript revelations, certificates from early Church members, and various books, pamphlets, and periodicals containing Church information. McLellin was also a writer. Late in his life he worked on a book about Mormonism that he nearly finished but never published.”

    The materials currently located in the Historical Department were obtained in 1908 by Samuel O. Bennion, president of the Central States Mission, under the direction of President Joseph F. Smith and his counselors in the First Presidency. The material was in the possession of a descendant of J. L. Traughber of Texas. Traughber was an associate of McLellin.

    The journals in this collection, “spanning most of the period when McLellin was active in the Church, revealed a man deeply dedicated to his religion. McLellin endured hardship and persecution as he preached the gospel revealed through Joseph Smith,” Brother Turley wrote. “The little manuscript books, on the other hand, typified the later McLellin, an avowed enemy of the Church.”


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    A Good Turn in Palmyra

    The golden statue of the angel Moroni shines brilliantly day and night atop forested Hill Cumorah, near Palmyra, New York. The captivating scene recalls the ongoing fulfillment of the Prophet Joseph Smith’s prayer that the Church “come forth out of the wilderness … and shine forth fair as the moon, clear as the sun.” (D&C 109:73.)

    The Smith family left the area in 1831, but clouds of prejudice toward Latter-day Saints lingered for decades. Passing missionaries and converts would pause reverently in the Sacred Grove and gaze at Hill Cumorah, then quickly depart, to the relief of resentful residents.

    Joseph Smith Home

    Today, however, the image of the Church in Palmyra is generally very favorable. And Palmyra Saints are making further strides—not only for their church but also in partnership with other Palmyrans, for the community.

    Recent milestones for the Church in Palmyra build on the legacy of Elder Willard Bean, a former boxing champion called as caretaker of the Smith family farm in 1915. In a few years’ time, the doughty Elder Bean and his wife, Rebecca, cooled public disfavor toward the Church by winning respect and friends. Their investment in the town was noticeably genuine: Living there twenty-four years, they became increasingly involved in community affairs, and they even named one of their children Palmyra.

    Palmyrans today respect Latter-day Saints whose interest in the community is similarly genuine. Mayor Jim Elliott and other people unaffiliated with the Church speak fondly of John Russon, a dynamic LDS missionary who personally raised a considerable amount of money for the town historical society’s endowment fund.

    Missionary couples at the area’s Church historical sites donate at least four hours weekly to community service. They also enjoy doing good turns whenever they can, like organizing a town cleanup campaign, operating information booths during the annual Canaltown Days celebration, or delivering loaves of homemade bread to thank Main Street merchants for putting up with teeming tourists during the Hill Cumorah Pageant season.

    Joseph Smith resided in this frame home near Palmyra from 1825 until 1829.

    Joseph Smith resided in this frame home near Palmyra from 1825 until 1829.

    But missionaries are not the only ones doing good turns for the people of Palmyra. Members of the Palmyra Ward, Rochester New York Palmyra Stake, are pulling together with other residents—a healthy “cross-fertilization” of talents and energy, according to Reverend Clinton McCoy of the Western Presbyterian Church—for the common good of the town.

    As Relief Society president years ago, Marilyn Dahneke felt she should serve the community, so she got involved in Historic Palmyra, Inc. Today, as a board member of the organization and office director at Hill Cumorah, she’s busily engaged in two worthy causes, not out of duty but freely, “because I now feel part of the community and naturally want to help.” But such service “gets us nowhere,” she cautions, “if we appear to pat ourselves on the back and draw public attention.”

    Her husband, Barton, a physicist and past president of Historic Palmyra, appreciates the many community-minded, non-LDS individuals who anonymously serve the town welfare. “We should use our gifts to help people out of concern for them, acting on our own initiative so others see our goodness and respond to us as individuals,” he says.

    Palmyra resident Robert Palmateer, a school principal in nearby Newark, points out that because Palmyra is a conservative town, the Church is “perceived better when it takes a less visible role, going about its business quietly.”

    That does not mean that Palmyra Saints do not make their voices heard in community affairs, however. Soon after joining the Palmyra school board in 1981, Lynne (Tinelli) Green spoke out on a controversial moral issue. Her objection helped break the board’s deadlock. “If we feel strongly about an issue, we’ve got to speak out strongly. Sometimes we’ll be outvoted, but people listen, and it’s a chance to uphold good values,” she says.

    Palmyra Ward chapel.

    Palmyra Ward chapel.

    Because the Palmyra Ward consists mostly of young families with children at home and spouses who work in Rochester (and thus do not get well acquainted with other residents of Palmyra), it is difficult for some members to be civically active. Another limiting factor is job mobility in Rochester: Many LDS families who move to the area leave after a few years because of out-of-state job promotions.

    But the fluid ward is also vibrant, says Bishop Steve Heltemes; new members and missionaries nurture fresh bonds in the ward and in the community. One example was Elder F. “Mac” Bay, past director of Church historical sites, says Methodist minister Todd Goddard. “He is very affable and got along well with the local ministers and townspeople, even though it usually takes a long time to prove oneself in Palmyra.”

    A museum director, school teacher, home restorer, and ten-year resident of Palmyra, Gail Harmston is pleased when fellow teachers ask her to teach a history segment (“Mormon Trek”) to eighth-grade students. It’s an opportunity to put timeworn rumors to rest.

    In 1989, Palmyra’s bicentennial, Historic Palmyra published a history that contains an LDS-authored article on the Church, correcting errors in the 1877 Wayne County history. Even so, misconceptions about the Smith family and the Latter-day Saints persist.

    Bill Boys, a resident of Palmyra for more than fifty years, has seen prejudice toward Church members soften during the last decade; he says unfavorable community attitudes have been “slowly but surely overcome.”

    He talks about how William Avarell helped “crack the ice” in Church-community relations while on a family history mission there with his wife in 1984–85. Mr. Boys urged Elder Avarell to “get his people to mix socially” with other Rotary members. “He became a real entrepreneur, an excellent Rotarian,” says Mr. Boys. The Avarells befriended and mollified many merchants who had resented Pageant-goers for not patronizing town services as fully as merchants desired.

    Beginning in 1991, Church officials let local service clubs set up concessions at the Hill Cumorah Pageant, with the stipulation that all proceeds go to support community improvement projects.

    The cooperative spirit has brought happy consequences. Some non-LDS residents have since referred to Hill Cumorah as “our hill,” notes full-time missionary and Church historical site director Joseph P. Kjar. Second only to Canaltown Days in popularity, the pageant is now more of a community affair than an exclusively LDS event.

    Despite doctrinal differences that hinder the Church from being fully accepted in Palmyra, says Pastor McCoy, Latter-day Saints are respected for their visibility in the community and for the work of “top-notch” missionary couples who serve there. He chuckles at how impressed he was when LDS women responded with alacrity to an invitation to join other Palmyra church members in preparing meals for workers engaged in improving a school playground. “Sometimes getting people to help is like pulling teeth, but [the Latter-day Saints] do it without complaint,” he says.

    Such service flows both ways. While the Presbyterian church let ward members use its roomy Fellowship Hall to prepare meals for the six-hundred-plus pageant crew, members of the Zion Episcopal Church made sandwiches for the public. The goodwill shown by another “Four Corners” church (one intersection in Palmyra is well known for having a church on each corner), the United Methodist Church, when it offered its meeting facilities to area ward members whose chapels were being renovated, is also appreciated.

    Although those of other faiths generally hesitate to accept invitations to attend social events at LDS chapels and historical sites, efforts are continually made to include those of other faiths in local LDS events. Last year, for example, history buffs gathered at the E. B. Grandin Building, where the first edition of the Book of Mormon was printed in 1830, to hear Elder Keith Watkins, a retired printer from Providence, Utah, explain early printing methods. And some one hundred area ministers attended the annual pageant banquet, held at the Palmyra Ward meetinghouse.

    A small yet significant token of the goodwill toward Latter-day Saints in Palmyra is a souvenir sold by the historical society. The brightly enameled lapel pin commemorates three key aspects of early Palmyra history: a cannon honors Palmyrans killed in the Civil War, a canal lock recalls the prosperity brought by the Erie Canal—and a Book of Mormon marks not only the origin of the restored church but also Latter-day Saint acceptance in the community.

    [photos] Photography by Don L. Brugger

    [photo] Palmyra mayor Jim Elliott

    [photo] “The page has turned” in LDS community relations, says former bishop Paul Baldauf, right, shown here with member Chuck Collie.

    [photo] Methodist minister Todd Goddard lives by a historic site that draws many LDS tourists to view Alvin Smith’s gravestone.

    [photo] Clara and Gus Kommer, front, enjoy visits by LDS missionaries like Elder and Sister Verl Perry, who conducted tours in the nearby Smith home. Gus was a friend of early missionary Willard Bean.

    Stake Center Scheduled for Central Los Angeles

    Church leaders and government and university officials broke ground for a stake center in south central Los Angeles recently as part of the Church’s commitment to help rebuild the riot-torn areas of the city.

    Despite overcast skies, more than six hundred members and friends, including the Southern California Mormon Choir, gathered at a vacant corner lot to witness the ceremony.

    Elder John H. Groberg of the Seventy, president of the North America West Area, presided over the activities. He reminded listeners that the gospel is for all people of all races. “Our mission,” he said, “is to prepare a people and an area worthy to receive the Savior when he comes again.” Elder Groberg said that the new stake center and the stake members will be an important part of that preparation and that they will indeed be “a light unto the world.”

    The building will house the Huntington Park West Stake, the first Spanish-speaking stake in the United States. The stake was created in 1984 under the direction of Elder Howard W. Hunter. Its membership has grown from 2,500 when the stake was created to approximately 3,800 members.

    Other speakers at the ceremony included Ramon O. Giuliani, president of the stake; Donald A. Peart, architect of the Spanish-style building; and William W. Tanner, former president of the Los Angeles Stake and now bishop of the student ward in the stake boundaries.

    President Giuliani testified that positive changes would occur in Los Angeles upon completion of the building. “The Lord has taught us the gospel of love, and that is the gospel we will teach,” he said, explaining that the Church would teach and strengthen families.

    Brother Peart commended stake members for their faith and sacrifice for the new building. He encouraged them to use the building as an incentive to share the gospel with friends and neighbors. He also reminded them that they were “given this building as a tool for accomplishing the Lord’s purposes.”

    Bishop Tanner, who participated in the organization of the stake nine years ago, encouraged those present to help bind up wounds and to love one another with unconditional love.

    Other speakers at the ceremony included a government official and an administrator from the University of Southern California, which is located across the street from the building site.

    California state senator Marian Bergeson said that it was one of the most exciting days she’d seen in a long time. She presented a proclamation from the governor commending the Church for its work.

    In his remarks, Dr. Alvin S. Rudisill, assistant vice-president of community relations at the university, explained that the university and the Church have, for many years, worked closely together. “Together there is so much we can do and must do to unite this city of angels and to end violence in Los Angeles forever,” he said.

    [photo] Seated second from left, Elder John H. Groberg of the Seventy, area president, presides over ground-breaking ceremonies. Stake president Ramon O. Giuliani speaks at pulpit.

    Karen Mohr is a member of the Studio City Second Ward, Los Angeles California North Hollywood Stake.

    Church Receives Premier Award

    A public service announcement produced for the Church for the observance of the Relief Society’s sesquicentennial celebration has received a Clio award. The spot, which is titled “Service on the Run,” received the top advertising award in the “Television/Cinema National Public Service” category.

    Produced by Bonneville Communications, the public service announcement was filmed on location in St. George, Utah, and is part of the Church’s Homefront campaign, a series of public service announcements which have been distributed for some twenty years to more than 1,200 television stations and 11,000 radio stations throughout the United States and Canada.

    “‘Service on the Run’ depicts a woman supporting a neighbor with small gestures of kindness,” said Relief Society General President Elaine L. Jack. “A young woman arrives home to find a letter from an elderly lady whom she has helped many times, but has never met face-to-face. The spot closes as the two embrace, now linked by the bond of selfless service.”

    The public service announcement was a collaboration of the Relief Society and the Church’s Missionary, Audiovisual, and Public Affairs departments.

    Gospel Art Picture Packet Available

    A gospel arts picture packet has been developed to assist Church members where meetinghouse libraries have not yet been fully implemented and to enhance family gospel discussions and lessons inside the home.

    The kit contains 104 color pictures, most of which depict scriptural stories and events. Each picture measures 8 1/2 by 11 inches and includes a simplified story description on the reverse side. Divider tabs are included in the packet, as well as an instruction sheet with an index of picture numbers and appropriate scriptural references.

    The complete set of pictures is available from Church distribution centers or can be ordered from the family resource catalog. The packet is available in a blue plastic box with a folding lid (order no. 34730—$12.75) or shrink-wrapped with no container (order no. 34735—$9.50).

    “Even though the Spirit is the most important teacher to individuals studying the gospel, gospel learning can be enhanced and teaching can be improved when lessons or study are accompanied by visual aids,” explains Wayne Lynn, of the Church’s Curriculum Planning and Development staff. “This is particularly true when vital scenes and characters from the scriptures are depicted. We encourage each meetinghouse library to make these picture sets available to members within their unit boundaries. Individuals and families are also welcome to purchase the kits.”

    [photo] The gospel art picture packet is available from the Church distribution centers. (Photo by Jay Drowns.)

    LDS Scene

    PROVO, UTAH—Brigham Young University’s annual “Celebration of Christmas” was broadcast across the country on more than 170 public television stations during the 1992 holiday season. The concert program featured three of the university’s choirs, as well as a steel band, and was produced by BYU’s College of Fine Arts and Communications and the LDS Motion Picture Studio.


    I Could Hear

    I read “See That You Tell No Man” by President Thomas S. Monson (June 1992) with deep gratitude and tearful humility. I have recently undergone several months of extensive chemotherapy which resulted in the loss of my hearing. Long a teacher of youth, I was in anguish because I knew that if I could no longer hear the responses of my class, I could not teach. After talking with my bishop, I went home to discuss with the Lord whether or not I should be released from my teaching responsibilities.

    Midweek, I received a phone call from an audio company. The company had been contacted by someone who wished to remain anonymous. That person had instructed the company to contact me and fit me with hearing aids. After an evaluation and fitting, I received my hearing aids.

    As I sat in sacrament meeting the next Sunday and listened to the speaker, my eyes filled with tears. I could hear. My anonymous brother or sister had reached out and made it possible for me to hear again.

    Yes, I still teach my Sunday School class. Each week as I prepare and teach, I again feel gratitude for a Father in Heaven who loves each of us and for his children who reach out to serve.

    L. Marilyn Johnson Sacramento, California

    Answer to Prayers

    I just got a subscription to the Ensign and received my first magazine in October. The articles in that issue dealt with specific problems I am facing now in my life. I had prayed for help and guidance and found the answers in the magazine.

    I cannot adequately describe the joy I felt as I read these pieces. From the bottom of my heart, I thank you.

    William J. Daniel Fort Knox, Kentucky

    Legacy of Donna Continues

    As I picked up the December Ensign and noticed a title on the front cover, “The Donna Carson Story: A Legacy of Love,” my mind immediately returned to my missionary days. I served with Sister Carson in the New England States Mission and remembered one evening when I answered the telephone at mission headquarters and listened as Sister Carson’s companion explained that there was a problem. My companion and I were sent to pick the two sisters up and take them to the hospital. We waited into the wee hours of the morning only to hear the doctors pronounce that this marvelous lady had polio. Thus started a cherished relationship with Sister Donna and her family.

    I visited her in the hospital many times over the next few months and continued to visit her at her home in Blackfoot, Idaho, during the ensuing years. I always came away uplifted, with a wonderful memory of her sweet smile. What a wonderful living lesson she was for our five children!

    I just want to thank you for running the story so that others might share the spirit of one of the Lord’s great ladies. After reading the article, my wife, several of our children, and I spent some time remembering our relationship with Sister Donna.

    Garvin E. Carlile Bountiful, Utah

    Miracles in Japan

    We found “The Blossoming of the Church in Japan” (October 1992) very interesting, as we were there at the re-opening of the mission in 1948. Just for your information, the picture on page 35 was taken by Paul Merrill; it is Irene Merrill standing by President Clissold, not Anna Merrill.

    The obtaining, rebuilding, and complete furnishing of the mission home there in Japan was, we felt, a miracle. Because President Clissold was a reserve Naval officer, he was able to accomplish things no other American could. He purchased a bombed-out building at a time when few could purchase any property at all. The mission home was completely furnished with items purchased from auctions held by the Allied Forces. As President Clissold bid on items, others would cease and he was able to obtain all the items he needed.

    We are honored and humbled to have been a part of this truly great time in Japan.

    Paul and Anna Merrill Logan, Utah

    Recognizing the Spirit

    I just returned from my mission. While serving as a missionary, I learned for the first time how to recognize the Spirit when I felt it. I think that is sometimes overlooked as we teach our children. If feeling and recognizing the Spirit are so important that more than forty thousand missionaries are taught about it in missionary training centers, shouldn’t we be teaching the same thing to our children? They definitely have the same questions as investigators.

    I don’t have any children yet, but I know it would have been nice if somebody had explained the Spirit to me when I was a young child and teenager, as the missionaries do to investigators. I can remember several occasions as a youth when I felt the Spirit; I just didn’t recognize it. It’s been a wonderful testimony strengthener for me now to be able to feel it and identify it.

    Matt Hammond Ogden, Utah

    Helaman’s Testimonies

    I thoroughly enjoyed reading the January 1992 issue on the Book of Mormon, especially “Defending against Evil.” I, too, had questioned the purpose of Mormon’s detailed record of early American warfare tactics.

    Subsequent readings of Alma, chapters 43–63, brought me further insight: these battles can give us patterns by which we can fight our own personal battles—the doubts and spiritual conflicts within us.

    Helaman’s 2,060 stripling sons were small in number compared to the larger Lamanite forces; nevertheless, Helaman’s men were “firm and undaunted” and were preserved by the “miraculous power of God because of their exceeding faith.” Similarly, our faith should be just as strong.

    Reading Alma 58, we learn that Helaman’s army poured out their souls in prayer to God, asking for strength and deliverance from their enemies. Our enemies include real or imagined fears, feelings of insecurity, worthlessness, or helplessness in a situation we may believe is beyond our control. We are told that God assured Helaman’s army that they would be delivered and that they would be blessed with peace. We, too, can receive that assurance. A steadfast and continual trust in God will bring about the freedom we are fighting for.

    There is, indeed, much to be gleaned from Helaman’s reflections and his praise to God. They are testimonies that Heavenly Father hears our prayers.

    Sandra Tan Baton Rouge, Louisiana

    Flood of Memories

    Imagine my surprise when, on page 30 of the February 1992 Ensign, I found a picture of my family when I was about four years old. The picture was taken about 1912 and shows us looking at the Bible in our dining room. You have not identified the people in the photograph, so allow me.

    From left to right: my mother, Martha T. Worthen Larson; my elder brother, O. Blaine Larson; myself; my father, Thomas Christian (Tuck) Larson; and in the baby pram, my younger brother, G. Clyde Larson. I am the only member of my family still alive.

    Seeing the photo brought back a flood of warm and happy memories of my childhood.

    Melba L. Kartchner Palo Alto, California

    Lifetime Slogan

    Not long after I arrived in the mission field to which I was assigned, I discovered the difficulties of missionary work. Learning a new language, adjusting to the different culture, and memorizing discussion concepts were just a few of my challenges.

    I had always had a strong desire to serve a mission and wanted to succeed as a missionary. I was frustrated as I struggled with each new situation. I tried to dedicate my every spare moment to study but still felt confused and unsettled.

    I turned to the Lord for guidance and comfort, spending hours pleading for help with my frustrations and struggles. One morning, as I began my personal scripture study, a scripture leapt out at me:

    “And now I would that ye should be humble, and be submissive and gentle; easy to be entreated; full of patience and long-suffering; being temperate in all things; being diligent in keeping the commandments of God at all times; asking for whatsoever things ye stand in need, both spiritual and temporal; always returning thanks unto God for whatsoever things ye do receive.

    “And see that ye have faith, hope, and charity, and then ye will always abound in good works.” (Alma 7:23–24.)

    This scripture became a slogan for me as a missionary. Nine years later, I am a soldier stationed abroad, and this scripture still helps me to stay focused on the Savior.

    Paul D. Horlacher Bad Hersfeld, Germany