Church Leaders Instruct New Mission Presidents

“I have no doubt that every day, somewhere in the world, there is a remarkable miracle of conversion taking place, perhaps many of them,” President Gordon B. Hinckley said as he concluded this year’s new mission presidents’ seminar held at the Provo Missionary Training Center on 26–28 June.

“You will become acquainted with such [conversion] stories during the years that you preside. …

“This is a Church of miracles. I know it. I have seen so many of them.”

President Hinckley and other members of the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve Apostles instructed 108 new mission presidents and their wives who were called from 12 nations and will serve in 39 countries. In July these new leaders joined the ranks of 334 mission presidents worldwide who currently preside over some 60,000 missionaries.

President Thomas S. Monson, First Counselor in the First Presidency, gave the opening address at the seminar. In assuring the new presidents that their abilities would be enhanced as they served, President Monson cited principles taught by President Harold B. Lee (1899–1973): “First, whom the Lord calls, the Lord qualifies; second, when you are on the Lord’s errand, you are entitled to the Lord’s help; and third, the Lord shapes the back to bear the burdens placed upon it.”

President Monson ended with a promise: “Put aside any fears you may have, and the Lord will bless you. As you serve, you will learn who He is, how close He is, and that this is His Church. The Lord blesses those who put their trust in Him.”

President James E. Faust, Second Counselor in the First Presidency, also spoke during the seminar, emphasizing the importance of involving members in missionary efforts.

“For full-time missionaries to be fully successful, they need to have the support of the members of the stakes,” President Faust explained. “One of the fruits of missionaries working together with members is that spirituality increases for both the members and the missionary.”

President Faust gave several suggestions for involving members in missionary work. He included the need for bishops to support missionary efforts, effective work by missionaries with ward mission leaders and the bishop, obedient and hardworking missionaries, youth participation, and fellowshipping of new converts.

During the three-day seminar, instruction was also provided by President Boyd K. Packer and Elders L. Tom Perry, Dallin H. Oaks, Joseph B. Wirthlin, Robert D. Hales, and Jeffrey R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles.

[photo] At the Provo Missionary Training Center, President Gordon B. Hinckley addresses new mission presidents and their wives as members of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles and other Church leaders look on. (Photo by Stuart Johnson, Deseret News.)

President Hinckley Celebrates 91st Birthday

President Gordon B. Hinckley quietly celebrated his 91st birthday in June with family members and a few associates. On his birthday, 23 June, he enjoyed a family gathering. On the previous day a small birthday reception was held with First Presidency members and their wives and several other General Authorities in the Church Administration Building.

[photo] Members of the First Presidency and their wives celebrate President Hinckley’s birthday in the Church Administration Building. (Photo by Craig Dimond.)

Tabernacle Choir Tours Southern U.S. States: They “Brought Us Close to Heaven”

In June the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, accompanied by three Tabernacle organists and 21 members of the Orchestra at Temple Square, made its first tour specifically to the southern United States. Three chartered airplanes, 2 luggage trucks, 1 equipment truck, and 10 buses carried the group to its 11 performances in 8 cities and 5 states.

Besides performing in Houston, Texas, and Orlando, Florida, where the choir appeared in 1964 and 1989 respectively, it was the first time the choir had performed in any of the other cities on the tour, which included Fort Worth, Texas; New Orleans, Louisiana; Birmingham, Alabama; Atlanta, Georgia; and Tampa and Miami, Florida.

The tour also marked the first time that members of the Orchestra at Temple Square traveled with the choir and the first time in recent years the choir performed each concert entirely by memory. Singing from memory allowed the group to make eye contact with audience members throughout the entire performance. “They sing with their soul and their minds on the crowd,” said a Fort Worth choral director who attended a concert. “They embrace the audience.” An audience member in Tampa added, “Listening to the choir, I feel like I’m at the gates of heaven.”

The Southern States tour, which included preconcert receptions attended by local civic, religious, music, and Latter-day Saint leaders, received praise from local media, government, and the public:

  • “The signature arrangements of ‘America the Beautiful’ and ‘The Battle Hymn of the Republic’ were once more stirring. The setting of the spiritual ‘The Battle of Jericho’ was a virtuosic tour de force.”—Houston Chronicle

  • “The group wasted no time proving that their vaunted reputation is richly deserved. … [The] hallelujahs in ‘All Creatures of Our God and King’ rose slowly and powerfully until it rattled the very gates of heaven. It made the hair on the back of the neck stand straight up.”—Fort Worth Star Telegram

  • “Hearing the choir live was a dream come true.”—Bill G. Carter, Texas House of Representatives

  • “It was the most glorious night of music I can recall.”—Ed Bridges, director of Alabama State Archives and History

  • “To say it was an unforgettable experience is an understatement.”—Sam Rumore, president of the Alabama Bar Association

  • “When a group like this comes to town, it can really bring people together. Seeing and hearing the choir can clear up misconceptions of the Latter-day Saint faith.”—H. Roy Kaplan, executive director, National Conference for Community and Justice in Tampa

  • “It’s really fantastic to have a group like this come to Tampa. … I think we all felt a special connection.”—Dr. Joe Gonzalez, director of Tampa’s Ambassador Chorale

  • “It was a true honor to see the Mormon Tabernacle Choir in person—a moving experience.”—Ted B. Edwards, Orange County, Florida, commissioner

The choir’s repertoire for the tour included hymns, anthems, patriotic songs, and American folk music. Following are just a few highlights from the tour.

The choir’s 15 June concert in Houston was nearly canceled when tropical storm Allison caused heavy flooding in the downtown area, leaving the scheduled Jones Hall for the Performing Arts inoperable. Even after several days of frantic searching, only two nights before the date of the performance a new venue had not yet been found. The media began to announce that the concert had been canceled. “But we didn’t give up; we kept working to find a new venue,” said choir president Mac Christensen.

Just over 24 hours before the concert was scheduled to begin, a venue was found: Houston’s Reliant Arena (formerly the Astro Arena) was quickly transformed from a rodeo grounds into a concert hall. The choir’s performance provided a needed lift for the 4,000 attendees whose city had been ravaged by the floods.

Tickets for the next day’s performance in the 2,000-seat Bass Performance Hall in Fort Worth sold out months in advance. Following one of the concert’s numerous standing ovations, choir announcer Lloyd Newell joked with the audience, “Don’t encourage them too much. They have a repertoire of 1,500 songs.”

As a special conclusion to the concert, the choir sang in Spanish, “God Be With You Till We Meet Again,” delighting the hundreds of Spanish-speakers in attendance. The same conclusion was also later performed at all three concerts in Florida.

In Birmingham, choir member Ken Wilks recalled how more than a century ago his great-great-grandfather had stood before a crowd intent on tarring and feathering Mormon missionaries in southern Alabama. His ancestor convinced the mob to turn away.

On 20 June, Brother Wilks also stood before a large Alabamian crowd, but the feeling was much different. Brother Wilks, along with his fellow choir members, received two five-minute standing ovations from the audience of 2,500 attending the concert at the Birmingham-Jefferson Civic Center.

Besides its regular concert, the Choir also recorded its weekly broadcast, Music and the Spoken Word, in Birmingham. John E. Enslen, a seventh generation Alabamian and second counselor in the Alabama Birmingham Mission presidency, says he believes the performances in his state will do much to change misperceptions about the Church.

“I feel as if a spiritual stone has been dropped in the center of the ‘pond’ of Alabama, and the ripples will move steadily forth, washing away longstanding prejudices,” said Brother Enslen. “My guests who attended the concert are still expressing how much it meant to them. One man said hearing the choir made him experience feelings he didn’t even know existed. Another couple later accepted our invitation to a ward activity, which I don’t think they would have done before the concert.”

Later in Tampa, fans filled the 2,557 seats at the Tampa Bay Performing Art Center’s Morsani Hall on 23 June. One local fan in attendance was Gail Wright, who began watching the choir’s weekly broadcasts a few years ago after she’d lost her mother and was suffering from chronic stress and depression. The music and uplifting messages buoyed Gail up, and during one broadcast she felt particularly drawn to one sister. “I can’t explain it exactly,” said Gail, “but I know the Lord led me to her.”

Gail sent a letter to the choir and eventually began a correspondence with choir member Karen Jepson. The two women quickly bonded; they shared their mutual faith in the Savior, and Karen taught Gail principles of the gospel.

“I’m not sure what I would have done without Karen’s encouragement,” said Gail. “Her friendship helped me hang on, and things have gotten so much better for me.” The two women met on the morning of the concert. “We hugged and cried,” says Sister Jepson. “We talked for a few hours.”

Gail and her husband, who were recently married, sat on the front row during the concert, after which she exclaimed, “I prayed that someday I would be able to meet and thank Karen, and now my prayers have been answered.”

On 25 June the choir played to a standing-room-only crowd in Orlando’s Bob Carr Performing Arts Centre. The 2,300 in attendance gave three standing ovations, which were answered with three encore numbers. “I wanted to stand up and applaud after every song,” said Katie Bravar, a 16-year-old member of another faith.

The day before the concert, the choir also performed twice in front of Cinderella’s Castle at Walt Disney World theme park. Hundreds stopped to listen and cheer for the choir’s rendition of several familiar American songs, including “The Battle Hymn of the Republic.” On the Sunday prior to the concert, choir members divided into three groups and sang and shared their testimonies at firesides in three area stake centers. In total, 2,100 members and their friends attended the firesides.

“The choir and members of the Orchestra at Temple Square have truly softened the hearts and enlightened the minds of many of our friends in the Orlando area,” said Mason Herzog, a member of the Windermere Ward, Orlando Florida South Stake.

Perhaps the words of Douglas Stringham, a member of the Westin Ward, Fort Lauderdale Stake, sum up the tour best. After attending the final, sold-out concert in Miami’s James L. Knight Center on 27 June, Brother Stringham said, “We were the beneficiaries of a marvelous outpouring of talent and Spirit. The Choir on compact disc is wonderful, but the choir in concert brought us close to heaven.”

[photo] Choir members performed each concert from memory, which made greater interaction with the audience possible. (Photo by Gerry Avant, Church News.)

[photo] Flooding in Houston shut down the choir’s concert hall just days before the scheduled performance. To the delight of the Houston audience, the choir was able to locate a site for their performance. (Photo by Gerry Avant, Church News.)

[photo] In Fort Worth, Tampa, Orlando, and Miami, the choir sang “God Be with You Till We Meet Again” in Spanish, charming many Spanish-speakers in attendance. They “brought us close to heaven,” said one fan. (Photo by George Papas.)

New Temple Announced for Texas

President Gordon B. Hinckley recently announced that a temple will be built in San Antonio, Texas, the fourth in that state.

He made the announcement to a crowd of nearly 5,000 during a regional fireside in San Antonio on 24 June. Thousands more watched the fireside in selected regional meetinghouses via satellite broadcast.

President Hinckley challenged members to prepare to be worthy to enter the temple. “A temple becomes the bridge from mortality to immortality,” he said. “I don’t know of anything more serious.”

Elder David B. Haight of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles and Elder Rex D. Pinegar, President of the North America Southwest Area, also spoke about the significance of the temple.

Temples are currently operating in Dallas and Houston, Texas, and another is under construction in Lubbock. Church membership in Texas has grown to more than 217,000.

Programs Honor Brigham Young, Mormon Battalion

Church leaders recently spoke at separate programs honoring Brigham Young and the Mormon Battalion.

Speaking at a lecture series observing the 200th anniversary of Brigham Young’s birth, Elder D. Todd Christofferson of the Presidency of the Seventy called President Young “the quintessential man of action.”

The lecture series, “Brigham Young, Prophet, Colonizer, Patriarch: The 200th Anniversary of His Birth,” was held in June at Brigham Young University.

“If he felt something to be right, Brigham Young had no hesitation in pursuing it, even where he could not see his way through to the end or did not at the moment possess means to finish,” said Elder Christofferson. “He was convinced that the Lord would provide whatever he legitimately could not.”

President Young knew from experience that faith comes from working hard and accepting responsibility, Elder Christofferson concluded. “Both Brigham Young’s words and actions bore testimony that if he applied all the resources at his command and asked God in the name of Christ to bless his application of those resources, he could then rely implicitly on God for anything yet lacking.”

During a program in Salt Lake City on 16 June, Elder Lance B. Wickman of the Seventy praised the Mormon Battalion for “their abject willingness to suffer unspeakable privations; their vibrant faith in their God, their prophet, and eventually, in their tough and austere commander.”

Elder Wickman was the main speaker at an annual Mormon Battalion Heritage Day program held at the Mormon Battalion Monument on the Utah State Capitol grounds.

During the program, plans for a Mormon Battalion memorial building at This Is the Place Heritage Park in Salt Lake City were announced.

[photo] Elder Lance B. Wickman praised the Mormon Battalion for “their vibrant faith” in God at a program honoring the battalion in June. (Photo by R. Scott Lloyd, Church News.)

Conversation: Elder Carmack Speaks about the PEF

During last April’s general conference, President Gordon B. Hinckley made a historic announcement: a new Church program called the Perpetual Education Fund (PEF) would soon be put into operation to help young Latter-day Saints in need, especially returned missionaries, gain an education. Shortly thereafter, Elder John K. Carmack of the Seventy was announced as managing director. Elder Carmack recently spoke with the Ensign about the program.

Question: What is the Church’s plan for the PEF?

Response: The Perpetual Education Fund is patterned after the Perpetual Emigration Fund, established by the Church in the mid-1800s to assist European converts immigrating to Zion. That program created a foundation of righteous families, Church leadership, and self-reliance that brought the Church great strength.

The Perpetual Education Fund is based on the same principles as the Perpetual Emigration Fund. It is a modern plan to strengthen Latter-day Saint individuals and families in their own countries.

Education and gainful employment will help bring stability to families worldwide. These families will then strengthen the Church through serving in leadership callings and through paying tithing. The program will also help assure young members throughout the world that the Church cares about them and will help them get out of the cycle of poverty described by President Gordon B. Hinckley.

The PEF comes as inspiration from a prophet of God; its reach extends in seemingly every direction. Thirty years from now, I think we’ll call it one of the most important things that has happened in the Church.

Q: How have members responded to the PEF?

R: The response has been overwhelmingly positive. It seems members of the Church received an instant testimony that it is a program inspired of God. So many who served missions in developing areas have come home with hearts yearning to help the members they served and the native companions they served with. The PEF now provides an immediate, effective way to do so.

Thousands of members have contributed, and the fund is growing rapidly, but we need much more. We’ve also had dozens of people call to ask if they could give all or part of their time to advancing the program. From these, two men have been chosen to serve as full-time volunteer assistant directors. Another one or two will likely be added soon. Other volunteers will serve on Church headquarters committees and on local PEF advisory committees worldwide.

The response from prospective participants has also been strong. We’ve had inquiries from many countries already: “How can I get a PEF loan?” Area Presidencies are saying, “We’re being bombarded with interest—when will the program be ready?” On our recent trip to Mexico, Chile, and Peru, young people eager to know more about the PEF filled the meetinghouses where we spoke about the program.

Q: How has the program been developed?

R: The general priesthood meeting talk in which President Hinckley announced the establishment of the PEF has become our charter or constitution for what we do. It contains the key concepts and doctrines and is the inspired pronouncement. We’ve taken this foundation and have worked toward creating the PEF Department and a practical program. We’ve felt the inspiration of the Lord in doing so, and we’re now ready to try it out.

We operate under a board of directors, which consists of the First Presidency, the chairman of the board being President Hinckley himself; two members of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles; the senior President of the Seventy; the Presiding Bishop; the general Relief Society president; and the administrator of Religious Education and Elementary and Secondary Education. President Hinckley has been closely involved in the program’s development. We feel his urgency. He is anxious for us to get the program in place quickly.

Q: How exactly will the PEF work?

R: The interest and income earned on the donations that make up the fund will be used for student loans. These loans will help pay education costs of those who need assistance. The fund itself will remain intact.

The primary group targeted is young returned missionaries, and others are welcome to apply as well. Applicants must be adults 35 years of age or younger. They must attend the local Latter-day Saint institute of religion and be endorsed as worthy and committed by their bishop or branch president.

But the PEF does more than just provide a loan. It is an inspired, complete program that helps people become self-reliant. Even before the PEF was announced, a Church career workshop was already being taught in developing areas to help members learn how to find local resources—grants, loans, and job opportunities.

The workshop also teaches how to make an educational and vocational plan. Individuals must complete this workshop before their application for a PEF loan is considered complete. Applicants must also show they have exhausted other financial resources before seeking PEF assistance.

Institute of religion leaders throughout the world will receive application forms and will guide applicants through the process. Applications will be reviewed for completeness by a local PEF committee of Church members before copies are sent to the Area Presidency and to the PEF Department at Church headquarters. Area Presidencies will contact us if they have any suggestions, ideas, or concerns.

Loan payments will be made from Church headquarters directly or through a bank to local educational and training institutions, not to the individuals. Participants will be required to report their progress regularly to their local PEF committee. The committee will mentor and supervise participants until they complete their education and obtain gainful employment.

After participants complete their training, they will be required to repay the loan at a very modest interest rate. As these individuals repay their loans, the fund will continually be increased so it can help more young people. We hope it will grow sufficiently to assist hundreds of thousands of young members of the Church.

Q: When and where will the program start?

R: President Hinckley has counseled us to try the program on a modest basis at first, perfecting it before we go full-scale. We are starting this summer with students in Mexico, Chile, and Peru, three countries that have large numbers of returned missionaries. Initially, most of the education will be vocational in nature, but that may broaden as the program grows.

In October, we hope to extend the program to other parts of the world.

Q: What about some developing areas of the world where there simply are no jobs available, even if a person has an education?

R: That’s a challenge. In these areas, self-employment is the key. Entrepreneurial training and education can help individuals learn how to start and operate their own small businesses and even employ others.

In all areas of the world, training and education will be chosen to suit needs and available opportunities.

Q: Will the program help only young people in developing countries?

R: That question has been posed to us by a number of stake presidents and other Church leaders. Certainly there are areas in the United States and other industrial nations that are like developing countries. There are people in these areas that have few opportunities. Surely in time they will be considered, but first we’ll start in the developing countries.

Q: Is there still an ongoing need for member support?

R: Yes. Our goal is to develop a fund large enough to handle the needs of every worthy, qualified applicant in the world, so it needs to be quite a large fund. Thankfully donations are continuing to come in.

Whether donations are small or large, all are needed. People may be surprised to learn how far their donations can go. In South America, for example, a year of technical education can be obtained for as little as $500, so even a small donation can help substantially.

Members should also know that 100 percent of their donations go to help the recipients because program administrators are all volunteers and the Church covers all costs of operation.

To make a donation, simply write “PEF” and the contribution amount in the “Other” box on a tithing and offerings slip, then give the donation to the bishop or branch president.

Q: What more can members do to support the program?

R: Some members will be called to volunteer on local advisory committees, of which there will be quite a few in the world. They will help direct, train, and mentor loan recipients and select and work with participating schools.

Members in general can pray for the program’s success. We know their prayers can be effective. We believe what the scriptures teach in this regard: the fervent prayer of the righteous “availeth much” (James 5:16). This inspired effort allows all of us to sacrifice, to “lift up the hands which hang down” (D&C 81:5), and to “be one” as we seek to build up Zion (see D&C 38:24–27). It allows us to make a difference for good in the Lord’s “own way” (see D&C 104:13–18).

[photo] In years to come, “I think we’ll examine [the Perpetual Education Fund] and call it one of the most important things that has happened,” says Elder John K. Carmack, who serves as the program’s managing director. (Photography by Don L. Searle.)

[photo] Member response to the PEF has been overwhelming, says Elder Carmack. But help is still needed. (Photography by Don L. Searle.)

Church Aids Disaster Victims Worldwide

After natural disasters struck the United States, Peru, Colombia, and the Philippines in June, humanitarian aid was sent from Church headquarters and given by local Church units as well.

Quake in Peru

An earthquake measuring 8.1 on the Richter scale struck the southern tip of Peru on 23 June, killing more than 115 people, injuring 1,500, and displacing more than 46,000. One member child was killed, four Church members were seriously injured, and hundreds were displaced. Local Church leaders used fast-offering funds to supply members in need with water, food, blankets, tents, and other items.

One Church meetinghouse was reported to be seriously damaged, and a few others sustained minor damage. Some meetinghouses were used as temporary shelters for displaced victims.

Church humanitarian funds were used for immediate purchase of emergency relief items in the area. Church Welfare Services also shipped 110,000 pounds of food, blankets, hygiene kits, and first-aid supplies. These relief items were distributed by local civil defense authorities.

Flooding in Texas and Louisiana

Floods and heavy rains from tropical storm Allison killed 16 people in the Houston area and one person in New Orleans. Some 10,000 homes and businesses were flooded, with downtown Houston sustaining much of the property damage.

The floods forced 100 member families to evacuate to homes of other members or relatives, or to emergency shelters. Local leaders used fast-offering funds and the bishops’ storehouse to provide food and supplies to displaced members; supplies from the bishops’ storehouse were also donated to local agencies. Local units also organized neighborhood cleanup crews. Church humanitarian funds were donated to the American Red Cross to support relief efforts.

The flooding nearly caused cancellation of the Houston performance of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir scheduled on 15 June, but an undamaged venue was found the day before the concert (see related story, p. 73).

Tornado in Colombia

A tornado in Barranquilla, Colombia, on 4 June killed seven people and injured 1,000. Four homes of Church members were extensively damaged. Local leaders used Church welfare resources to help members in distress. The Church provided funds for emergency relief items to be purchased locally and also sent about 65,000 pounds of food, hygiene kits, toys, and clothing to aid relief efforts.

Volcano Eruption in the Philippines

Thirty member families were evacuated when Mount Mayon erupted on the southern end of Luzon Island, Philippines. The volcano spewed lava 800 meters (about 2,600 feet) into the air, leading to the evacuation of more than 30,000 people. Local leaders used fast-offering funds to assist affected members, and the Church donated locally purchased food and relief supplies to the Philippines Red Cross for distribution.

Policies and Announcements

The First Presidency sent the following letter, dated 11 May 2001, to General Authorities; Area Authority Seventies; stake, mission, and district presidents; and bishops and branch presidents, to be read in sacrament meeting.

It has come to our attention that some commercial enterprises promising heightened self-esteem, improved family relationships, increased spirituality and the like by participating in their programs are implying Church endorsement. Such claims are untrue and unfounded. The Church has not endorsed any such enterprise. Neither should the Church’s failure to formally challenge any such enterprise coming to its attention be construed as a tacit endorsement or stamp of approval.

We repeat the counsel set forth in the Church Handbook of Instructions, page 157:

“Church members should not participate in groups that:

“1. Challenge religious and moral values or advocate unwarranted confrontation with spouse or family members as a means of reaching one’s potential.

“2. Imitate sacred rites or ceremonies.

“3. Foster physical contact among participants.

“4. Meet late into the evening or in the early-morning hours.

“5. Encourage open confession or disclosure of personal information normally discussed only in confidential settings.

“6. Cause a husband and wife to be paired with other parties.”

We strongly counsel against affiliation with any such group and warn against believing any claim of Church approval, tacit or otherwise, by any private organization offering “experiential” or “empowerment” training.

Merlin R. Lybbert, Former Seventy, Dies

Merlin Rex Lybbert, who served as a member of the Second Quorum of the Seventy from April 1989 to October 1994, died on 6 July in Salt Lake City at age 75.

He had been president of the Cardston Alberta Temple for three years following his release as a member of the Seventy. Previously, he had served as a high councilor, bishop, stake president, and regional representative.

He worked professionally as an attorney for almost 35 years before being called to full-time Church service. Born on 31 January 1926 in Cardston, he was a son of Charles Lester Lybbert and Delvia Reed. He married Nola Cahoon on 26 May 1949 in the Cardston Alberta Temple, and they are the parents of six children.

PAF 5.0 Adds Many Languages

The Church recently released version 5.0 of the Personal Ancestral File (PAF) computer software, offering family history researchers greater versatility in many languages.

Thanks to the software’s new features, users can now view screens and print reports in Japanese, Chinese, Korean, Swedish, and German (as well as English); enter data in most languages of the world, including those that use Asiatic and Cyrillic characters; and download data to a Palm OS handheld computer.

“As far as we are aware, this is the first genealogy software that allows users to enter information in nearly any language and view screens and reports in six languages,” said Steve Cannon, product manager. “The Palm application will allow users to take their PAF data with them when doing family history research away from home.”

PAF 5.0 may be downloaded free of charge at It may be purchased in CD-ROM form (item no. 77034, U.S. $6.00) from Church distribution centers. Optional PAF 5.0 Companion software (item no. 50128, U.S. $13.50), offers enhanced ways of charting pedigrees and stronger search capabilities.

Because PAF 5.0 has greater computer system requirements than previous releases, current PAF users who do not need the Palm application or the non-English applications may want to continue to use earlier versions.

In the Spotlight

Chinese Member Sings in National Opera

Tang Yau-Ngan Lai, a member of the Ma On Shan Ward, Hong Kong Tolo Harbour Stake, was the only opera singer from Hong Kong invited to Beijing to perform in a nationally televised Cantonese opera. The opera was recently broadcast by China Central Television.

“I am grateful for a gifted voice that allows me to carry on the heritage of Chinese art and culture and, at the same time, to share the gospel through my example,” Sister Lai says.

When not performing, Sister Lai spends time with her husband, Tung Sang Lai, as a temple worker in the Hong Kong Temple, which she has done since 1996. Sister Lai joined the Church in 1980 as a teenager in Hong Kong.

BYU Athlete Sets American Record

Brigham Young University runner Elizabeth Jackson won the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) 3,000-meter steeplechase title on 1 June. This was the first women’s steeplechase competition in NCAA history. In the race, Sister Jackson set the American record and had the third-fastest time ever recorded in the world.

A few weeks later, Sister Jackson earned a spot on the USA National Track and Field Team by placing second in the USA Outdoor Track and Field Championships. She is a member of the BYU 23rd Ward, BYU 20th Stake.

Latter-day Saint Woman is Miss Indian World

KeAloha Alo, whose heritage includes White Mountain Apache, Hawaiian, and Samoan ancestry, was selected as Miss Indian World 2001 at the Gathering of Nations in Albuquerque, New Mexico, on 29 April.

Sister Alo, a member of the Pinetop-Lakeside Third Ward, Pinetop-Lakeside Arizona Stake, is the first Miss Indian World to represent the Hawaiian Islands, where she was reared. The competition is based on talent, speaking, interviewing, and traditional dancing. As Miss Indian World, she will spend the next year promoting education for native youth worldwide.

[photo] A Chinese opera singer, Sister Tang Yau-Ngan Lai also serves as a temple worker in Hong Kong.


The Man Who Talked Straight

I so enjoyed the June 2001 Ensign, especially the article, “‘We Must Keep One Another,’” about President Brigham Young’s correspondence with Native American leaders. As a side note to the article, I wanted to tell you about my grandfather Amos Russell Wright, who baptized Chief Washakie in 1884.

Grandfather served several missions to the Wind River Reservation and carefully recorded the names of the 311 Shoshone Indians he baptized. These Native Americans called him Mose Peah Tibo, “the man who talked straight.” He, like President Young, was deeply committed to Native Americans.

Jo Ann Farnsworth Montpelier, Idaho

Each and Every Month

I had to write and tell you how grateful I am for the Ensign magazine in my life. Never has any magazine on this earth helped me to gain a testimony of Jesus Christ and strengthen my faith in God the way the Ensign has. Each and every month more of my questions concerning the gospel are answered in a way to increase my understanding of the gospel, and I always feel the Spirit on every page.

Adrienne Sears-Logan Salt Lake City, Utah