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President Hinckley Visits U.S. President, Others during Busy Period

President Gordon B. Hinckley recently met with U.S. president Bill Clinton at the White House in Washington, D.C. Elder Neal A. Maxwell of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles accompanied President Hinckley. U.S. vice president Al Gore was present. During the visit, ways to strengthen families were discussed.

“It is our feeling that if you are going to fix the nation, you need to start by fixing families,” President Hinckley explained to the media after the November 13 visit. “That’s the place to begin.”

During the thirty-minute White House visit, President Hinckley presented the president with a copy of the Church’s recent proclamation on the family, which calls for “responsible citizens and officers of government everywhere to promote those measures designed to maintain and strengthen the family as the fundamental unit of society” (Ensign, Nov. 1995, p. 102).

President Hinckley said that President Clinton was respectful and appreciative. “President Clinton has spoken a good deal about family values recently, and we discussed that and expressed our appreciation for what he has said,” President Hinckley observed.

As the two leaders talked, President Hinckley explained that “we advocate a program we call family home evening, reserving one night a week where father, mother, and children sit down together and talk, talk about the family and about one another and study some together,” President Hinckley noted.

President Hinckley also presented President Clinton with one volume containing six generations of his family history and several volumes containing the family history of first lady Hillary Rodham Clinton. A copy of each history was also prepared for the couple’s daughter, Chelsea.

The visit, which came at the invitation of President Clinton, renewed an acquaintance dating back to 1992 when Mr. Clinton, then a presidential candidate, visited Salt Lake City and met with the First Presidency. The last visit of a Church President to the White House was in 1986 when President Ezra Taft Benson called on President Ronald Reagan.

The evening before his White House visit, President Hinckley met with the full-time missionaries serving in the Washington D.C. North and South Missions.

“If each of you is the kind of missionary your mother thinks you are, then you are all right,” President Hinckley told the 347 missionaries assembled in the Oakton, Virginia, meetinghouse. He noted the often unseen results of missionary work and told the missionaries that “you never can foretell the consequences of your service. Don’t get discouraged.”

He also encouraged missionaries not to think in terms of how many people they baptize, but to focus instead on “the fact that I have had the opportunity of putting someone on a way of life that will bring happiness to him or her and that will have eternal consequences in his or her life and the lives of his or her posterity.”

Commenting on the large diplomatic community in the nation’s capital, President Hinckley told the missionaries that they are ambassadors for the Church. “Do you know what an ambassador plenipotentiary is?” he asked. “One with full powers and authority granted by his government to act in its behalf. That’s what you are. Each of us is an ambassador of the Lord Jesus Christ with authority given by Him to represent Him in this work of teaching the gospel to others.”

After the missionary meeting, President Hinckley hosted an informal reception with the Latter-day Saint members of Congress and their spouses. President Hinckley told those in attendance that his visit to the White House was “to express to President Clinton the fact that we pray for him as we do for all our elected representatives.” Those in attendance also received a copy of the proclamation on the family.

Following the White House visit, President Hinckley traveled to New York City, where he met and spoke to a group of corporate executives, media representatives, and heads of charitable organizations at a Harvard Club luncheon.

During his remarks, President Hinckley highlighted the growth of the Church, noting that only 17 percent of the Church’s membership now lives in Utah and that the Church is growing at a rate of approximately one million members every three and a half years.

President Hinckley also spoke about the Church’s welfare and disaster relief efforts. “We try to teach our people to be self-reliant and when they can’t take care of their own needs to enlist the help of their families and when those needs can’t be met by the families, then the Church moves in to help them.

“We have a great program that involves farm properties, ranching properties, and field properties where people can work and grow that which they eat,” he continued. “We have flour mills, grain storage, meat-processing plants. We operate ninety-nine storehouses, more than one hundred employment centers, forty-six thrift stores. In 1994 members donated the equivalent of 150,000 days of labor in such facilities to help those who are in distress and need. During the past ten years, the Church has provided disaster relief and reliance development in 109 countries. The value has exceeded $30 million per year in humanitarian gifts to those not of our faith in many parts of the world.”

President Hinckley also noted the Church’s emphasis on education and family relationships. He explained the Church’s seminary and institute programs and told of the Church’s extensive building program, in which about 375 buildings are under construction at any one time.

Memorial Service for Yitzhak Rabin

Earlier in the month, President Hinckley and his two counselors in the First Presidency, President Thomas S. Monson and President James E. Faust, attended a memorial service held in Salt Lake City for Israel’s prime minister Yitzhak Rabin, who was assassinated on 4 November 1995 during a peace rally in Tel-Aviv.

“We mourn with the people of Israel,” President Hinckley said in his remarks, which were made at the invitation of Rabbi Frederick L. Wenger of the Congregation Kol Ami. “We mourn with Jewish people throughout the world. We mourn with all who deplore murder, violence, and terrorism. … What an unnecessary and tragic thing this has been, and how great has been the loss, not only to Israel but to the entire world.”

Honor from the Railroad

Representatives from the Southern Pacific Lines Railroad company visited President Hinckley recently and presented him with a polished brass bell from a locomotive in gratitude for service rendered by President Hinckley during World War II for the line’s predecessors, the Denver & Rio Grande and Western Pacific Railroads.

From 1943 to 1945, President Hinckley worked first as assistant superintendent of the Salt Lake City Union Depot & Railroad Company and then as assistant manager of the mail, baggage, and express traffic department in Denver. “I think I can say I worked hard when I worked for the railroad,” President Hinckley said during the meeting with railroad officials. “I was fascinated with the transportation business. I was treated well by my supervisors and peers. It was a wonderful experience for me for which I have been grateful ever since. The D&RG has a warm spot in my heart.”

Jocelyn Mann Denyer, public affairs specialist, North America Northeast Area, and Michael R. Leonard, public affairs specialist, New York Office Public Affairs Department, reported on President Hinckley’s Washington-New York assignment.

[photo] During White House visit, President Hinckley, far right, and President Clinton look over U.S. president’s family history while Elder Maxwell and Vice President Gore look on. (Photo courtesy of the White House.)

Numerous Language Editions of Scriptures Available

In 1830 the first edition of the Book of Mormon was printed in English in New York City. Twenty-one years later, in 1851, the Book of Mormon was printed for the first time in another language—Danish. The next year German, French, Italian, and Welsh editions of the Book of Mormon were printed. Today the scriptures are available in a multitude of different languages:

  • The complete Book of Mormon—40 languages

  • Selections from the Book of Mormon—48 languages

  • Doctrine and Covenants and Pearl of Great Price—30 languages

  • Triple combination—12 languages

First Presidency Rejoices in Season and the Savior

Christmas is a solemn reminder of the Lord Jesus Christ’s birth and atonement, said President Gordon B. Hinckley during the annual First Presidency Christmas devotional. President Thomas S. Monson, First Counselor in the First Presidency, and President James E. Faust, Second Counselor in the First Presidency, also spoke during the December 3 meeting.

“The story of Christmas is so much larger than the story of His birth in Bethlehem of Judea,” President Hinckley told the thousands gathered in the Tabernacle on Temple Square. The devotional was broadcast over the Church satellite system and KBYU. “It is the very core of the entire plan drawn and adopted for the salvation of the sons and daughters of God of all generations. His birth cannot be separated from His earthly ministry. Neither can it be detached from His divine sacrifice, the atonement made in behalf of each of us. At Christmas, we sing of His birth. I feel so profoundly grateful for that birth. But that birth would not be remembered but for the gift He made to all of us through His mortal ministry, followed by the terrible pain and suffering of His death, to rise glorious and triumphant as the Redeemer of the world.

“Christmas is a solemn reminder of all of this, and it has a wondrous effect upon our lives,” President Hinckley continued. “Somehow in the magic of this season, there is less of hate and more of love, there is less of greed and more of giving, there is less of indifference and more of gratitude. If only for a brief season, we are inclined to lay aside our selfishness and reach out to help others.”

Illustrating that inclination, President Hinckley related a story of two Canadian mounties who walked more than half a mile through knee-deep snow to deliver gifts and food to a needy family. The two almost turned back because of the cold and snow, but for some reason they continued. When they arrived at the home, the children were overjoyed and the mother burst into tears, telling the men that they were an answer to prayer.

Earlier in the evening she had tried to explain to the children that Santa would not be coming, but the children couldn’t believe it. One of her sons suggested they kneel down and pray. As they finished their prayer, the mounties arrived.

“That beautiful and touching story could be repeated in a variety of circumstances a thousand times at this season of the year when hearts reach out to others,” observed President Hinckley, who also thanked Church members around the world for their confidence and prayers since March 1995, when he became President of the Church.

“I know that I am not the head of this church,” he said. “The Lord Jesus Christ is its head. He is its living head. My mission, my chief responsibility, my greatest honor comes in bearing solemn testimony of His living reality. Jesus Christ is the Son of God, who condescended to come into this world of misery, struggle, and pain to touch men’s hearts for good, to teach the way of eternal life, and to give of Himself as a sacrifice for the sins of all mankind.”

In his remarks, President Monson observed that sometimes we expect too much of Christmas Day. “‘What did you get for Christmas?’ This is the universal question among children for days following that most celebrated holiday of the year,” he observed. “Newly acquired possessions are displayed and admired as Christmas day dawns, then departs.

“The gifts so acquired are fleeting. Dolls break, dresses wear out, and fun games become boring. Pocketknives are lost, basketballs lose their bounce, and trucks are abandoned when the batteries which power them dim and die.

“If we change but one word in our Christmas question, the outcome is vastly different,” President Monson continued. “‘What did you give for Christmas?’ prompts stimulating thought, causes tender feelings to well up, and memory’s fires to glow ever brighter. … Giving, not getting, brings to full bloom the Christmas spirit. It 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 Faust shared a story of a young man serving as a Marine in Japan following the dropping of the atomic bomb during World War II. While working in a chaplain’s office during the Christmas season, Brother Kenneth J. Brown met an older Japanese gentleman, Professor Iida, who came seeking permission for his small Christian choir to perform a concert for the American marines.

Permission for the concert was given, and the date was set—Christmas Eve. Hardened military personnel sat in the audience, perched on jagged walls, listening to the music, which was performed in English. The students probably had no idea what they were singing, President Faust explained, but they had memorized the words beautifully. The closing number was a solo from The Messiah, and the young performer sang it with all the conviction of one who knew that Jesus was the Savior of mankind. Her performance brought tears and a full minute of silence, followed by thundering applause.

Brother Brown helped Professor Iida clean up after the concert and asked the Japanese man how his group survived the bomb. He was informed that this was only half the group, and that most members had lost one or more family members. The soloist had lost a mother and two brothers, Professor Iida explained, and then quietly explained that she was his daughter.

The young marine was touched as he reflected on the hatred he had seen during the war and then realized that these Japanese Christians from their point of view had reason to hate the American troops. Yet their love for the Savior taught them to forget their grief and serve others.

“That power has influenced for good the hosts of His followers on the earth for almost two thousand years,” President Faust reflected. “It is the power in the knowledge that Jesus Christ is our Redeemer, our Savior, our advocate with the Father, the King of Kings, Lord of Lords, and the Prince of Peace. It is the power by which, through faith and obedience to His teachings, we can find joy and happiness, peace and comfort.”

[photo] Audience and Mormon Tabernacle Choir members join in singing Christmas hymn during annual First Presidency Christmas devotional held at historic Tabernacle on Temple Square.

[photo] Audience sings during devotional.

[photo] President Hinckley, center, flanked by counselors President Monson, left, and President Faust, right, participate in singing Christmas hymn.

Ambassadors’ Families Welcomed at Annual Picnic

Ambassadors and embassy officials from twenty-nine countries joined members of the Church at an annual Ambassadorial Picnic in Hume, Virginia.

This year’s picnic, which was held on the Marriott Ranch, had a western theme. Diplomats enjoyed a hay-wagon ride, viewed pioneer memorabilia, and attended a dramatic presentation, “The Westward Trek.” In addition, eight of Brigham Young University’s folk dancers performed and taught those in attendance line dancing and square dancing.

“This picnic is one small way we extend hospitality to ambassadors, their families, and their nations,” explained Beverly Campbell, director of the Church’s international affairs office. “We welcome them as we hope they will welcome missionaries and members of the Church who reside within their countries’ borders.”

Of the twenty-nine diplomats in attendance this year, fourteen were attending for the first time. “It is exciting to see how this one singular event can have such an impact on the Church’s relations with the international community,” said Buck McKeon, an LDS congressional representative and host from California.

Many diplomats thanked the hosts and commented on how they and their families enjoyed the picnic, an annual event for the last five years. “My children saw the invitation and knew right away what it was,” said Christian Hoppe, deputy ambassador of Denmark. “We knew we couldn’t miss it.”

Plans are already being made for next year’s activity. “This is our best day in America so far,” said Mrs. Birna Thorsteinsson from the Embassy of Iceland, who has been in the country six weeks. “We will definitely return again next year.” 9

Alysa Hatch Whitlock, a member of the Langley Ward, McLean Virginia Stake, formerly worked on the staff at the Church’s international affairs office in Washington, D.C.

Madrid, Spain: Just the Beginning

“When the missionaries knocked on our door on 29 January 1973, our family was preparing to celebrate my mother’s birthday,” recalls Enrique Cantos, who was ten years old at the time. “We thought we had something to share with these strangers, so we invited them in. Little did we know what they had to share with us.”

Enrique and his family joined the Church at a time when Spain had relatively few Latter-day Saints. “The Church, like my family, has come a long way since those early days,” he says. “It is still a challenge to be a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Spain, but because we have something special to share, the Church will continue to grow. Our perseverance is beginning to produce great things.” Today President Cantos presides over the Madrid Sixth Branch of the Madrid Spain Stake, and his wife, Alicia, is a counselor in the Madrid stake Relief Society presidency.

The Church was first introduced to Spain after World War II by U.S. servicemen stationed in Madrid, the robust capital and geographical center of the country. One of the first Spanish converts, José María Oliveira, was baptized in 1966. After a religious-liberty law was passed in 1967, native Spaniards began to join the Church in increasing numbers. Despite some opposition and centuries-old religious and cultural traditions, growth progressed enough that by 1982 Elder Howard W. Hunter of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles was assigned to form a stake in Madrid. Today, Spain has nearly thirty thousand members, four stakes, seventeen wards, five missions, nineteen districts, and 128 branches. In hopes that Madrid will grow from one stake to three stakes by the time the newly announced Madrid Spain Temple is completed, stake leaders have set a goal of five thousand baptisms within the next four years.

“I have good reason to be so involved in missionary work,” says Madrid stake missionary José Javier Madorrán. “The gospel saved my life!” As a young man, Javier studied in a monastery to become a priest, but before he committed himself to the ministry he felt the need to earn some money to help his financially troubled parents. In 1982 he found a job at a hotel in northern Spain. When the hotel was destroyed by a terrorist bomb, Javier was severely injured and spent the next several years partially paralyzed from the waist down. “That was the darkest season of my life,” he says.

One day during his long recuperation, missionaries came to Javier’s door.”I was particularly sick that day, and I really had no interest in their message,” he recalls. Concerned by Javier’s obviously poor health, the missionaries informed a doctor. When the missionaries stopped by again, Javier told them he had a severe liver infection that had also damaged other internal organs. The doctors said he had only a few months left to live.

The missionaries offered to give him a priesthood blessing. “From somewhere deep inside my soul I cried out for the spirit these two young men brought into my room,” Javier recalls. “They gave me a blessing at eight o’clock and then left. By ten I began to feel a power enter my body. Within thirty minutes I was able to stand up on my own. Then I became strong enough to walk, something I had given up hopes of ever doing.” Fully healed, Javier was baptized soon after.

Soledad García joined the Church with her family after meeting missionaries in 1982, but she later became less active. “I had a problem with the idea of paying tithing,” she recalls. Over the years she watched as blessings came into the lives of her husband, Feliciano, and three children—blessings she knew deep down were a result of their efforts to live the gospel. Even when the family went through lean times, Brother García diligently paid tithing. “My husband’s steadfastness converted me,” says Sister García. “I have a strong testimony of tithing now. I don’t know what we would have done without the gospel during those years.”

The García family was sealed in the Swiss Temple, and all three children have served missions. Reflecting on the temple marriages of his two oldest children and on his two grandchildren, Brother García smiles and quietly observes, “The third generation of Garcías is in the Church. Everything of value requires a sacrifice. It is always worth the wait.”

The same could be said of the Church in Madrid. “Really, we are at the beginning of the Church’s great future here,” says Javier Madorrán.

[photo] A view of Madrid, Spain’s capital and largest city and home of the Church’s Madrid Spain Stake.

[photo] The Enrique Cantos family

Michael J. Mitchell was recently released as bishop of the Madrid Fifth Ward, Madrid Spain Stake, and is now a member of the Ben Lomond Tenth Ward, North Ogden Utah Ben Lomond Stake.

Conversation on Self-Reliance

The gospel principles related to self-reliance are timeless. Further, developing our individual capacities to meet our own spiritual and temporal needs is as important today as it ever was. To discuss some aspects of the application of the teachings on self-reliance in the lives of members, the Ensign spoke with Keith McMullin. When this interview was conducted, Brother McMullin was managing director of the Church’s Welfare Services Department. On 27 December 1995, he was called as Second Counselor in the Presiding Bishopric.

Bishop Keith McMullin

Bishop Keith McMullin. (Photo by Welden Andersen.)

Question: From your vantage point as managing director of Welfare Services, would you say that Church members are generally self-reliant?

Answer: While many persons over the age of forty live the principles of self-reliance in earnest, many in the younger generation seem to have grown up somewhat unacquainted with these concepts. Perhaps this is because many of them have never faced serious, hard times during their lives.

Many members live in cultures where it can be said that they live in a consumer age. When something wears out or breaks, many of us tend to throw the item away. When we want something we cannot afford, many of us tend to buy it on credit. A surprising number of young homemakers are not adequately skilled at cooking, sewing, gardening, and processing and storing food at home. Also, a surprising number of young breadwinners are not learning to save for the future and are allowing their family units to take on excessive debt. In a time of plenty, when one should consider laying up in store for potentially hard times, many of us consume everything we have—and more!

Yet while some of us fall into today’s economic pitfalls and seem to be putting aside many of the self-reliance standards that the Lord’s prophets have taught, conversely we have certain strengths as a people. Overall, we are well educated, we are healthy, and we are strong in family relationships. Our challenge is to use these blessings so we can better help others, so we can act rather than be acted upon, so we can place our trust and our dependence where they truly belong: with the Lord.

Q: How do persons improve their state of self-reliance?

A: We each have differing talents, resources, and circumstances. Our leaders encourage us to periodically take stock in six basic areas dealing with self-reliance: education and literacy, health, employment, home storage, resource management, and social, emotional, and spiritual strength. The welfare booklet Providing in the Lord’s Way: A Leader’s Guide to Welfare (1990, item no. 32296) outlines what we should achieve in these respective areas of our lives. Pick one or two areas that seem the most important for your particular situation. Set goals, yet allow yourself to progress in small steps. For instance, if food storage is your need, you could buy just one extra can of food each week. If saving is your need, you could start by saving a few dollars each pay period. If debt is your challenge, you could begin by progressively paying off one creditor, then another, without incurring additional debt. If physical exercise is your need, you could begin by exercising two or three times a week. If enhancing employment skills is your need, you could set aside a few hours a week to take a class that increases job-related skills. If spiritual strength is your need, you could start by studying the scriptures more diligently, praying more fervently, or serving more earnestly. If we keep up the effort, our momentum increases and we take steps in other areas where improvement may be needed as well.

In other words, far from being cause for alarm or extremism, Church leaders’ teachings regarding self-reliance encourage a way of life. We achieve it by applying fundamental principles of the gospel. But to establish ourselves as self-reliant, we don’t simply respond to occasional pricks of conscience. Rather, we adopt whole new attitudes and patterns of behavior for our lives. In the broad perspective, seeking to become or to remain self-reliant is a lifelong endeavor, yet the Lord will prosper our individual efforts as we keep working at it.

Q: What Church resources are available to help members achieve self-reliance?

A: Two main cornerstones of self-reliance are the scriptures and the counsel of the living prophets. When a person regularly reads the scriptures, often there settles upon him or her a spirit of urgency to move forward in living the gospel, including becoming self-reliant—and the scriptures also help teach how to go about that. For example, besides telling us that “if any provide not for his own, and specially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel” (1 Tim. 5:8), the scriptures also teach us to “see that all these things are done in wisdom and order; for it is not requisite that a man should run faster than he has strength” (Mosiah 4:27).

Modern-day leaders have given specific, inspired guidance for our day about subjects ranging from home storage to debt. President Spencer W. Kimball was very clear about our duty to be self-reliant: “The responsibility for each person’s social, emotional, spiritual, physical, or economic well-being rests first upon himself, second upon his family, and third upon the Church if he is a faithful member thereof.

“No true Latter-day Saint, while physically or emotionally able, will voluntarily shift the burden of his own or his family’s well-being to someone else. So long as he can, under the inspiration of the Lord and with his own labors, he will supply himself and his family with the spiritual and temporal necessities of life” (Ensign, Nov. 1977, pp. 77–78).

From our work in Welfare Services, we see that members are able to be a great resource to one another by teaching priesthood and Relief Society lessons on self-reliance, by sharing their knowledge on related issues of self-reliance, and by setting an example on an individual basis. Church-sponsored self-reliance projects are often able to accomplish much in the lives of members. For example, one ward holds preparedness-training meetings on subjects ranging from cultivating a garden to surviving an earthquake. As a result, the number of families with a year’s supply has doubled.

In many areas, priesthood quorums and the Relief Society make available a variety of self-reliance resources, such as literacy programs, help with job placement and enhancement, and organized approaches to home storage, including the use of Church canneries for this purpose.

Members would also do well to seek out, as needed, self-reliance resources that may be available in their own communities, such as local educational opportunities, financial management help, and emergency medical training.

Q: How is our own self-reliance related to meeting the needs of others?

A: The prophets teach us that although the Lord never forsakes us, usually he does not do for us what we can reasonably do for ourselves. When we do need help, very often the help comes through other persons. Thus, the more self-reliant we become, the more able we are to build up God’s kingdom and to use the things the Lord blesses us with to help and serve others. Self-reliance is vital to our temporal and our spiritual well-being, and its fruits bring us full circle, for “when ye are in the service of your fellow beings ye are only in the service of your God” (Mosiah 2:17).

By Their Works

A Celebration of History

As ward mission leader in the Pensacola Third Ward, Pensacola Florida Stake, Juan Gonzalez often spoke and worked with African-Americans in his neighborhood and was impressed with the love they had for the Savior. He wondered how he could help these individuals understand that Latter-day Saints shared many of the same values.

After approaching his bishop, Grady W. Davis, and receiving approval, Brother Gonzalez began planning a celebration of African-American history as a bridge of communication and respect. The first celebration focused on the theme “Love One Another,” and more than 150 individuals from many congregations attended. Guest vocalists from various churches in the area performed, and Michael W. Shurtleff from the Church Educational System was the keynote speaker. “We are brothers and sisters,” Brother Shurtleff noted. “We are children of a great and glorious God. He loves us and desires us to love one another.”

Encouraged by the success of the first celebration, Brother Gonzalez began plans for a second celebration. The theme for this activity was “I Am a Child of God.” Several guest performers were part of the program, but the evening was stolen by the children, a sixteen-voice children’s choir from the Pensacola ward and the Mt. Zion Baptist Church. More than three hundred people were in attendance, and bridges of friendship were developed and strengthened.Fran Councill, Tallahassee, Florida

Spring Cleaning

Recently sixty-six junior and senior high school youth joined together for an “earth day” spring cleanup in Julian, California, a small town in northeast San Diego County. The event was organized by Latter-day Saint volunteers, who were joined by volunteers from the Community United Methodist Church and St. Elizabeth’s Catholic Church.

Organized into seven work crews, the students worked for nearly two hours clearing weeds and trash from a cemetery and museum building, planting cottonwood saplings, painting a toolshed, cleaning up residential streets, planting ground cover, and clearing some ball fields.

The entire community cooperated on the project. Relief Society sisters from the Julian Branch, Poway California Stake, donated supplies for the litter-pickup group. A local nursery supplied bottles of vitamins for the saplings. Local radio stations, newspapers, and churches advertised the event, and local merchants provided a meal, which was served by the Relief Society sisters, for the youth after the project was completed.Marianne Burton, Julian, California