President Hinckley Dedicates Mormon Battalion Monument
President Gordon B. Hinckley spent a whirlwind day on 14 December 1996 in Tucson, Arizona, where he dedicated a new Mormon Battalion monument in a downtown park and made the battalion his theme while addressing several gatherings of Latter-day Saints.
Designed by Clyde Ross Morgan, the monument is a 2-ton, 19-foot-tall bronze statue of battalion members Christopher Layton and Jefferson Hunt raising the U.S. flag and engaging in peaceful trade with Teodoro Ramirez, a prominent Tucson merchant. In a dedicatory prayer given before about 3,000 people, President Hinckley said: “May this [monument] stand through all generations to come as a memorial to their names and as a reminder of their great sacrifice. May all who pass this way be constrained to pause and think of these great men of another generation.”
The U.S. flag raised in Tucson in December 1846 by members of the Mormon Battalion is believed to be the first to fly over what would later become the state of Arizona. The battalion entered Tucson during its historic 2,000-mile march that began in Council Bluffs, Iowa, and ended in San Diego, California. Although battalion members had been enlisted to assist the United States in its war against Mexico, they treated the people of Tucson—which was then a small Mexican settlement—with kindness and respect. Their march remains perhaps the longest ever made by U.S. infantrymen, and they created a trail that helped make possible the settlement of the southwestern United States.
“These men volunteered to serve their country in spite of the fact that their government had done so little to protect them as citizens in Illinois and Missouri,” said U.S. congressman Jim Kolbe at the dedication ceremony. “This is a monument to peace and social tolerance and to these great men who chose to exchange goods rather than gunfire.” Arizona state senator Larry Chesley, U.S. congressman Matt Salmon, and Tucson mayor George Miller also shared messages at the ceremony.
To commemorate the battalion march, 2,500 Scouts from 18 southern Arizona stakes hiked for 10 miles along the marked Mormon Battalion trail into Tucson. At the end of their hike, several descendants of battalion members, along with two Tucson boys related to Teodoro Ramirez, presented the colors at the dedication ceremony.
In a separate Scout gathering, President Hinckley urged the boys to follow the battalion’s example of faith and determination. “You think you had a hard time hiking a few miles yesterday and today—think how [the battalion] felt hiking for five and a half months! But they didn’t give up. They didn’t complain. They just kept marching. They were scouts in a very real sense.”
President Hinckley encouraged missionaries of the Arizona Tucson Mission to look to the battalion for an example. “They had a terrible time. They were without water some of the time. They were hungry, they were cold, they were hot, they were miserable. But they kept going. That becomes a model for each of you to carry on and keep up the good work.”
President Hinckley concluded his one-day tour of Tucson by speaking to 2,000 youth assembled at a local stake center. He promised the youth that if they would follow prophetic counsel, “the Lord will bless you and magnify you and make your lives great for good wherever you may go and whatever you may do. You will go on missions, you will preach the gospel to the world, and you will marry in the temple. You will have all the blessings that your hearts can desire.”
Storms, Floods Hit Western United States
Unusually severe winter storms dumped snow and rain in December and January on parts of California, Idaho, Nevada, Oregon, and Washington. Subsequent snowmelt contributed to widespread flooding and mud slides. Throughout the region hundreds of thousands of people were evacuated, isolated, or left without power. Numerous homes, buildings, highways, and railways were damaged or destroyed, and more than 20 deaths had been blamed on the weather by mid-January. Damage estimates are in the hundreds of millions of dollars, and a state of emergency was declared in more than 80 counties.
Though several Church members lost their homes, all members and missionaries were reported safe. Members throughout the region were organized under priesthood direction to assist with prevention and cleanup efforts, and local Church welfare committees coordinated efforts to care for the elderly and families with special needs.
“We used the geographic codes in our meetinghouse computer to pinpoint all members in the disaster zone,” said Bishop Gregory E. Bertola of the Modesto Sixth Ward, Modesto California Stake, where flooding occurred. “We started a phone tree to determine who needed extra help. Members in higher zones provided shelter, food, and clothing to the eight ward families who were evacuated. Work groups have already been organized to clean up homes as soon as the waters have receded.”
“Our meetinghouse was used as a shelter,” reported Bishop Dan Charles Speigle of the Shelton First Ward, Elma Washington Stake, where ice damage, flooding, and power outages occurred. “Members dug out a family whose house was snowed in near a lake. In another case a leader checked on the house of a family who was away on vacation. When he discovered that fallen tree limbs had damaged the roof, he climbed up and did what he could. He then informed the family and helped arrange for repairs.”
Several Church meetinghouses suffered roof leaks or other minor damage. The bishops’ storehouse in Spokane, Washington, was temporarily closed because the roof was not draining properly. In Seattle, heavy snow followed by rain collapsed about a third of the roof of the Church’s Deseret Industries building, damaging sales and production areas.
“We’re in the process of salvaging the building and restoring production,” said President Paul William Tucker of the Seattle Washington North Stake, who serves as local priesthood advisor for Deseret Industries. “Dangerous areas have been shored up, and most of the 110 employees will be able to return to work soon.”
Church College Sports Roundup
To conclude an unusually long and successful season in which the Brigham Young University football team had a Division I record of 14 wins and 1 loss, the Cougars played their first-ever New Year’s Day bowl game. In a nationally televised contest, BYU beat Kansas State 19–15 in the 61st annual Cotton Bowl in Dallas, Texas. The Cougars were the year’s Western Athletic Conference champions and finished the season with a number-five national ranking.
The BYU women’s volleyball team won the WAC championship and advanced to the NCAA national tournament, where they missed making the final four by one game. Although the team had a difficult time at the start of the season, they went on to win 24 games in a row later in the year. Coach Elaine Michaelis was named WAC coach of the year, and BYU players were recognized as player of the year, freshman of the year, and most valuable player in the tournament.
For their third consecutive time, the BYU—Hawaii Campus women’s volleyball team won the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics Division II championship in a tournament held 4–7 December 1996 in San Diego, California. The title is the team’s seventh national title in 11 years. This year the Seasiders also won their conference championship for the ninth time in 10 years. They finished the season with 30 wins and 1 loss.
A national championship was also won by the Ricks College women’s cross-country team. In a meet held 16 November 1996 in Overland Park, Kansas, the Vikings earned their second-in-a-row National Junior Collegiate Athletic Association national championship by beating the runner-up team by 21 points. Six Ricks players earned All-American honors, and Coach Doug Stutz was named cross-country coach of the year for his second straight time.
Though the Ricks College football team was leading its opponent at halftime in the 10th annual Real Dairy Bowl in Pocatello, Idaho, the Vikings ultimately fell before Garden City Community College with a final score of 42–35. After starting the season with three losses and only one win, the Ricks football squad had rallied to win five games in a row, which led to the bowl invitation.
Church History Video Now Available
A collection of video selections on Church history and doctrine is now available on one videocassette for use at home and in Church classes. The Doctrine and Covenants and Church History Video Presentations (53912) are 11 presentations chosen from existing Church Educational System audiovisual materials and other historical resources.
The videocassette was designed for use with several Gospel Doctrine lessons in 1997. Selections range from 5 to 10 minutes in length and include some excerpts from general conference addresses.
Teachers are encouraged to watch the video during their preparation for class and then show it at an appropriate time to help class members understand and apply the selected gospel topics. Members can also view it at home during individual gospel study and family home evening. It can also be used as a missionary tool.
Selections include President Gordon B. Hinckley speaking about the First Vision, with excerpts from the movie The First Vision; President Spencer W. Kimball speaking from the Peter Whitmer home in Fayette, New York, with excerpts showing a re-creation of the organization of the Church; President Ezra Taft Benson urging every worthy young man to serve a mission, along with scenes from Called to Serve; President Howard W. Hunter challenging all members to make the temple “the great symbol of their membership”; President Thomas S. Monson speaking about the calling of bishop, with scenes from Caring for the Needy; and President Hinckley and President James E. Faust talking about the revelation on the priesthood, with scenes from Long-Promised Day.
The Doctrine and Covenants and Church History Video Presentations can be ordered from local distribution centers for $5.
BYU Hosts Masada, Dead Sea Scrolls Exhibit
On display at Brigham Young University’s Museum of Art from March to September 1997 are artifacts recovered from the ancient site of Masada in Israel as well as replicas and actual samples of some Dead Sea Scrolls.
“The siege of Masada in A.D. 73 could be considered the last major event in the war against the Jews that brought about the Roman destruction of Jerusalem,” says John W. Welch, professor of law at BYU and editor of BYU Studies, a multidisciplinary Latter-day Saint scholarly journal. Masada was the name of a mountain-plateau fortress in Judea where more than 900 Jewish warriors resisted Roman forces and ultimately committed suicide.
“One of the richest parts of studying the Masada artifacts is the way they transport the viewer back into the world of the first century, the New Testament world of Peter, Paul, James, and John not many years after the time of the Savior himself,” says Brother Welch, who helped arrange for the exhibit to make its North American debut at BYU. The exhibition is under the auspices of the Institute of Archaeology of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem in collaboration with the Israel Antiquities Authority and is sponsored by the Israel Ministry of Tourism, the Schussheim Foundation, and the Israel Exploration Society.
“Masada artifacts make up the bulk of the exhibit, but also on display is a full-size replica of several of the major Dead Sea Scrolls found in the Holy Land near Qumran,” says Brother Welch. Discovered by archaeologists and Bedouin nomads in caves 50 years ago, the Dead Sea Scrolls are leather and papyrus Jewish manuscripts dating from as early as 200 B.C. Many of the scrolls contain books of the Old Testament and other religious writings.
“The Dead Sea Scroll part of the exhibit includes an original document that is of special interest to Latter-day Saint scholars because it contains the Hebrew word Alma,” says Brother Welch. Visitors will also have the opportunity to browse the BYU—FARMS (Foundation for Ancient Research and Mormon Studies) Dead Sea Scrolls database on interactive computer monitors.
“This exhibit is largely made up of bits and pieces,” says Brother Welch. “The story and setting are compelling, but visitors shouldn’t expect to be overwhelmed by gold mummies or beautiful jewelry. This is a different kind of exhibit, in which the content and meaning of these remnants of the lives and experiences of some of history’s most fascinating people echo out of the fragments.”
A special issue about Masada and the world of the New Testament will be published by BYU Studies. More details about the exhibit are available by calling the museum information desk at (801) 378-2787.
Gospel Progress in Slovenia
On a clear day, members of the Ljubljana Branch in the former Yugoslavian republic of Slovenia, located on the Balkan Peninsula in southeast Europe, can look west from their small building and see the nation’s tallest mountain, Mount Triglav. The mountain’s name means “Three Heads.” According to a local peasant saying, this ragged peak watches over the province with one head looking to the past, one to the present, and one to the future.
The folk belief about Mount Triglav mirrors the attitude of a growing group of Slovenian Saints, who now number more than 80 members organized into three branches. Slovenian members are proud of their heritage. They are thankful for their presently stable political and economic situation that has allowed the restored Church to be established among them, and they look forward with faith to the blessings the gospel of Jesus Christ will yet bring to their mountainous, forested homeland.
“The people here and throughout eastern Europe are spiritually hungry,” says Matjazh Juhart, Slovenia’s first returned Latter-day Saint missionary. Baptized in June 1992, Brother Juhart served in the Utah Salt Lake City Mission for two years and then returned to Ljubljana, where he now serves as branch mission leader. “I have found peace and happiness as a member of the Church of Jesus Christ. When I tell my friends where this comes from, they are interested and want to know more.”
Although a missionary visited Slovenia as early as 1899 and in more recent years several Slovenian converts returned to their homeland after joining the Church while living or studying abroad, the restored gospel did not gain a secure foothold in Slovenia until 1975, when Neil D. Schaerrer, president of the Austria Vienna Mission, was able to establish the Church as a legal entity. He was assisted by former Brigham Young University basketball star Kresimir Cosic, a native of the former Yugoslavian republic of Croatia. The Yugoslavia Zagreb Mission was organized in July 1975 but was soon discontinued because of political difficulty. Yugoslavia was part of the Church’s international mission until July 1987, when it became part of the Austria Vienna Mission.
Most of Slovenia’s two million people are of Slavic descent and speak Slovenian as well as a second language, typically German, Italian, Serbo-Croatian, or English. The Slovenian language uses the Roman alphabet rather than the Cyrillic alphabet used by many other Slavic languages. Despite spending some 45 years under communist rule while their country was part of Yugoslavia, most Slovenians are staunch Roman Catholics. This fact, coupled with the people’s relatively high level of prosperity despite their recent turmoil, has made missionary work challenging—but progress is steady. Slovenia was not embroiled in the ethnic war that recently devastated other parts of the former Yugoslavia, so Church growth in Slovenia has been able to continue uninterrupted.
While attending school in Norway, Albin Lotric met missionaries and was converted to the gospel. He returned to Slovenia about three months later, and every Sunday for more than a year he drove from his home in Slovenia to attend Church meetings in Klagenfurth, Austria, a round-trip of about 100 miles. After Slovenia declared its independence from Yugoslavia in 1991, the branch in Ljubljana, Slovenia’s capital city, was organized with Brother Lotric as president. He continues serving as branch president today. Later, branches were organized in the towns of Celje in central Slovenia and Maribor in the northeast near the Austrian border. In 1992 Albin Lotric and Bozha Gartner became the first couple from independent Slovenia to marry in the temple.
“One of the challenges the Church faces in Slovenia is teaching members to govern in local areas,” President Lotric reports. “But we have quite a large percentage of young members, and this will be an advantage to the Church in the long run. When President Thomas S. Monson dedicated Yugoslavia in 1985, he especially blessed the youth, and we are seeing a fulfillment of that prayer.”
Another young Slovenian member setting an example for her friends is 19-year-old Katja Iglich, who until recently was the Church’s only young woman in Slovenia. Baptized on Christmas Day 1994, Katja now teaches Primary and serves as a district missionary. “I had prayed about the Church but didn’t know if I could keep all the commandments,” she says. “But then I felt the Spirit so strongly when I heard President Dieter F. Uchtdorf of the Area Presidency speak. I learned that if you know something is true, you should not doubt or wait. The Spirit and the other members and missionaries will help you.”
An indication of the growing strength of Slovenian members is the number who have gone through the temple for endowments and sealings. “I ask a blessing on all who seek the truth,” President Monson said in his dedication of Yugoslavia, “that each may find the truth, … that one day wards and stakes may grace this land” (Church News, 2 March 1986, 3). Though much remains to be done, significant progress has already been made in this region of the former Yugoslavia.
By Their Works
Infant Burial Gowns Sewn by Relief Society
Losing a loved one is never easy, and without a full understanding of the plan of salvation, it can be particularly difficult. But Relief Society sisters in the Philadelphia Pennsylvania Stake have made a difference through local hospitals for parents who have lost infant children.
Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia contacted Cathy Moyer, stake Relief Society president in the Philadelphia stake, seeking someone to provide burial gowns for infants who die in its Newborn Infant Center. The hospital had cared for two of Sister Moyer’s daughters, both of whom died of cancer. Sister Moyer asked Tammy Engebretsen, a member of the Broomall Second Ward, to head up the project.
Sister Engebretsen arranged for a local children’s clothing store to donate fabric and design a simple pattern. Each Relief Society in the stake has participated in sewing a total of more than 200 burial gowns in this ongoing project. The gowns are made to fit a baby as small as two pounds.
The Relief Society includes a card with each donated gown testifying of the return of the child’s spirit to its Heavenly Father and of the power of the Resurrection. Also on the card is the scripture Luke 18:16: “But Jesus called them unto him, and said, Suffer little children to come unto me, and forbid them not: for of such is the kingdom of God.”
Chris Clarkin of the Newborn Infant Center at Children’s Hospital expressed her appreciation for the gowns. In a thank-you letter, she wrote: “I want you to know that because of your group’s kindness, families know that they are not alone, that others acknowledge and sympathize with their loss. … You have made a significant contribution.”
Conversation: The Church in North America’s Northwest
The Church’s North America Northwest Area covers territory ranging from the farmlands of Idaho, where Latter-day Saints make up almost 30 percent of the population, to the cold, rugged stretches of Alaska, where isolated Latter-day Saint families sometimes hold Church meetings alone. For an update about the Church in Alaska, British Columbia, Idaho, Oregon, Washington, and the Yukon Territory, the Ensign spoke with Elder of the Seventy, North America Northwest Area President, and his counselors, Elder of the Seventy and Elder , an Area Authority.
Question: Could you tell us about the Church in Alaska and the Yukon Territory, which both border on the Arctic Ocean?
Answer: Alaska and the Yukon Territory comprise a vast, beautiful area that inspires a deep respect for nature. To give a perspective of distance, it is as far from Boise, Idaho, to Anchorage, Alaska, as it is from Boise to New York City. Traveling through this cold land, it is not uncommon to see moose, eagles, and large flocks of geese. During the extremes of the northern winter, darkness can last for 20 continuous hours. Also, some locations are accessible only by plane. Consequently, a few of the Church’s meetinghouses have been specially designed for arctic conditions. In fact, at the dedication of one meetinghouse, local leaders had to delay the proceedings for about an hour until a polar bear left the premises. Even in Anchorage, a modern city of more than a quarter million, a member of a stake presidency recently told of a potentially dangerous bear being shot within a block of his house.
Members willingly sacrifice and make extra efforts to meet challenges. For example, leaders in the Anchorage Alaska Bush District, which has seven remote branches, do much of their ministering by phone and mail. Alaska has about 24,000 members organized into six stakes, the newest of which is the Juneau Alaska Stake. Much of that new stake’s populated area is separated by water, necessitating the use of ferries and planes. At high council meetings, distant councilors participate via telephone. A recent stake conference was held by hooking up farflung meetinghouses electronically. The Juneau stake includes the Whitehorse Branch, the sparsely populated Yukon Territory’s only Church unit.
Q: What about the Church in the area’s lower states and provinces?
A: Listeners were told at a recent regional conference attended by President Gordon B. Hinckley in Eugene, Oregon, that the Church is now the second-largest religious denomination in the state of Oregon. One of Oregon’s two U.S. senators, Gordon Smith, a Latter-day Saint, was recently elected. Although the average person on the street might still have some misconceptions about Latter-day Saints, the Church is coming out of obscurity more and more each day. We have 327,000 members in Idaho, who represent 27.8 percent of the state’s total population; 126,000 members in Oregon, representing 4 percent; 211,000 in Washington, 3.8 percent; and 26,000 in British Columbia, 0.7 percent.
In many ways, these proportions of members in the general population make for an ideal situation. There are enough Latter-day Saints that quite a large community of members can interact and flourish, yet huge opportunities for missionary work exist. The majority of persons who live in our area are probably acquainted through work, school, or the community with a Latter-day Saint from whose example they can benefit. Even in locations where Latter-day Saints represent only about 4 percent of the population, this still represents about 80 members in a high school of 2,000, for example. Thus it is inspiring to see that over and over again the outstanding Latter-day Saint youth of the Northwest demonstrate success in school leadership and accomplishments far out of proportion to their numbers.
The Church in the Northwest is blessed by the participation of members from many different ethnic backgrounds. Some missionaries in each of the area’s nine missions are assigned to speak foreign languages, of which more than a dozen are spoken by members in the area. The area has 28 Spanish-speaking units and several Asian and Polynesian units, particularly in Portland, Seattle, and Vancouver. All members are greatly strengthened by having the opportunity to attend temples in Seattle, Portland, Boise, and Idaho Falls.
The growth that has occurred in recent decades in the Northwest highlights interesting patterns in the Church’s overall development. The area has about 190 stakes, which is how many stakes the entire Church had in 1951, when David O. McKay was President. The area has about 700,000 members, which is how many members the entire Church had in 1932, when Heber J. Grant was President. Today, in proportion to the number of members, there are fewer General Authorities available to supervise and direct the affairs of the Church, which means that the role of local leaders has become more important. As the Church continues to grow, stake and district presidents and bishops and branch presidents have an ever-increasing responsibility to lead their units with inspiration. We are very impressed with the calibre of leadership in the Northwest. When organizing stakes, we are constantly impressed with the wealth of leadership with which this area has been blessed.
We are also impressed with the spiritual depth of the sisters in the Northwest. What they are doing in Relief Society, Young Women, and Primary and in their own homes is wonderful. Their talents, abilities, and commitment to the gospel are just thrilling.
Q: What kinds of efforts and initiatives are going forth among Northwest members?
A: Members here are focusing on the same things as members all over the Church: leadership training, the proclamation on the family issued by the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles (see Ensign, Nov. 1995, 102), and the balanced effort between missionaries and members. President Hinckley’s talk in the October 1996 general conference titled “Reach with a Rescuing Hand” has had much influence on members in this area. “We have some of our own who cry out in pain and suffering and loneliness and fear,” he said. “Ours is a great and solemn duty to reach out and help them, to lift them, to feed them if they are hungry, to nurture their spirits if they thirst for truth and righteousness” (Ensign, Nov. 1996, 86).
Recently members of the Area Presidency have been issuing challenges in stake conferences for local leaders to personally go out and rescue a member or family stranded in transgression or disaffection. Often in the Church we talk about numbers and needs, but a person has to interface with another person before anything can be accomplished. An elders quorum president we heard of took the challenge to heart and started visiting elders in his ward with the intent to rescue somebody. One family he contacted has set a date to be sealed in the temple. If each member and leader would do likewise, the Church would see great progress in retention of new converts and activation of those who have slipped away.
We are seeing marvelous manifestations of the wisdom of the Brethren’s decision to embrace the institute program rather than establishing more Latter-day Saint colleges and universities around the world. Student wards and stakes are growing fast, and enrollment in institute classes has tripled in some areas in recent years. Latter-day Saints who study at the world’s institutions of higher learning have great opportunities to be an influence for good. They can also be a great strength to one another, as in Boise, where young adults are making a concerted effort to identify and reach out personally to the lost sheep among them.
As we go to conferences and mingle with the members of the Northwest, we are impressed with their depth of commitment and willingness to sacrifice and do what the Lord would have them do. In many of the stakes we visit, members wonder when they will have a temple in their midst, which is a healthy desire. We sense the same spirit of dedicated gospel living in the remote branches of Alaska, where only two or three families might meet together, as we do in places where many members can easily get together. The atmosphere in the Northwest is one of good people getting better as they live and share the gospel.
“Mending Our Marriage” (Oct. 1996) provides wonderful spiritual and practical suggestions for saving troubled relationships. However, it is important to note that most localities have strict laws governing the protection of children from abuse and neglect. Though the topic of protecting children was beyond the scope of the reports you published, parents struggling to maintain their marriage must be sure that children are safeguarded from such experiences as witnessing drunken rages, being verbally abused by a depressed parent, or having access to pornography.
Gayle B. Adams Licensed clinical social worker Salt Lake City, Utah
On Mental Illness
Eight years ago, I was diagnosed as having a mental illness. My initial diagnosis was clinical depression. That diagnosis has changed several times through the years, but my doctors and therapists have finally agreed that I suffer from schizoaffective disorder, involving both thought and mood disorders.
Many times I have knelt in prayer, shedding tears and asking for forgiveness for the sins that were causing me so much pain. Now I can see that though, like everyone, I have sinned, this pain is caused by a real illness.
Mental illness is one of the most misunderstood maladies of all time. People who are not mentally ill sometimes look upon those who suffer from mental illness as being “wacko” or perpetrators of horrible crimes. Actually, only a tiny percentage of those who are severely mentally ill actually harm anyone except themselves. They feel alienated from society and are filled with hopelessness, helplessness, and loneliness. I have learned that the mentally ill are not menaces to society; they are simply in need of help and support from their families, friends, and Church members.
My struggle with mental illness will probably never end in this life, but I am filled with gratitude to my Heavenly Father for letting me feel emotions and undergo trials of my faith.