The June issue contained a great deal of valuable information that my wife and I had to gather in bits and pieces when we were married two years ago. We think it was extremely appropriate and also very enjoyable. But please, meaningfulness [page 3] is not a word. Meaning will do nicely.

Robert Goodrich Fairview Heights, Illinois

Check page 524 of Webster’s Seventh New Collegiate Dictionary.

A few incidents

I’d like to give a view of what the Church is like over here in Vietnam. The base I’m at is a composite base with Air Force, Army, Navy, Seabee, and Vietnamese armed forces stationed here. There are Mormon members in each group. There is one Vietnamese member-family and they have several children, two of whom attended church this morning. They are certainly cute, and as are all Oriental children, they are well-mannered; but they are full of zest and giggle and wiggle as do all children. I haven’t learned all their names yet, but one of them is called Nga. Their father is an enlisted man in the Vietnamese Air Force.

You never know about this Church! While driving my jeep this morning, I picked up an Air Force sergeant who was walking toward the west side of the base where we have our meetings. I asked him where he was going and he said rather vaguely, “Over by the fire station.” I knew right away he meant where the Mormons were meeting because no American goes over to that side of the base on Sunday—everything is closed down. So I prodded him a bit to see how far I had to force him before he’d tell me he was a Latter-day Saint. I asked, “Where near the fire station?” “Oh, anywhere will be fine.” “Do you mean where the Mormons are meeting?” I asked. “Yes, I do,” he said in surprise. I held out my hand and introduced myself. We drove along and came upon another man walking. This time he was a young soldier in combat fatigues. He was carrying a zippered book that looked suspiciously like a three-in-one. As we pulled up, I called out, “Going to priesthood?” “Hey, yeah!” was the startled reply. He climbed aboard. After introductions he asked, “Where have you been stationed?” I said in Ohio. Then I said I had also been stationed in Puerto Rico, and his face lit up. “‘Hey, do you know President Burke Adams?” “Sure do,” I said, adding that I was his counselor for awhile. “That’s it,” he said. “I was in the Florida Mission and I met you in Puerto Rico. We even ate dinner together once.” So two and a half years later and 10,000 miles away, our paths crossed again. When we got to the meeting place, there were ten Mormon servicemen present. We had priesthood, Sunday School, and fast and testimony meetings. During it all I couldn’t help but wonder if Joseph Smith and those who were with him in New York on April 6, 1830, really knew what they were starting. Over a hundred years later and thousands of miles away, a small group of American servicemen, a couple of Vietnamese, and a Chinese were to meet in humble circumstances to enjoy the gospel’s message. Our meeting was no doubt being duplicated thousands of times in other parts of the globe. We sat on crudely fashioned benches worn smooth by the seats of combat uniforms. Here priesthood bearers sincerely confessed their weaknesses and their gratitude and in reverent silence partook of the sacrament while jet and prop-driven planes from the air base nearby roared overhead.

Virgil Kovalenko Vietnam

Note: If you’re in an interesting place or undergoing interesting experiences, drop a line. Give us an insight into what it’s like to be a Latter-day Saint where you are. Virgil has set a good pattern. Now let’s hear more from the field.

Is your teacher doing this?

I want to tell you how pleased we are with the New Era. We set aside one class period each month in our seminary to discuss the New Era. This day has been especially enjoyable for the students. They are assigned ahead of time specific articles to study and to report on to the rest of the class. We have also used stories, poems, articles, and advice on numerous occasions to reinforce lessons and have used eighteen specific articles as major points in eighteen different lessons. This works extremely well, because most of the students have already read the articles and can immediately refer to them in their minds.

I think so much of the New Era and its potential for keeping youth close to the Church that at the close of the school year I wrote a personal note to all parents of my students to encourage them to see that their youth receive the magazine during the summer months.

I simply cannot tell you how well the magazine is being received and how very useful it is to both youth and teachers.

One suggestion: Students keep permanent file systems and like to tear articles out of the magazine. It would be helpful to have articles arranged so that tearing one out will not mean losing part of another. Make sense?

Larry W. Tippetts Principal, American Fork Junior High Seminary American Fork, Utah

Ten points for a good filing system idea, Larry! But if we were to do this, it would do away with single-article, double-page spreads in the magazine, and that would make for a very dull publication visually. It would allow no space for what we call “air,” or for flair, or for strong impressive treatment.

Utopia myopia

Several months ago I was selected as valedictorian of my class. I had been thinking, worrying, and praying about what I could say to my class on graduation night. Brother Spencer Condie’s thoughts on monkeys expressed very well what I had unsuccessfully tried to put into words myself [May, “Things They’re Saying,” p. 37]. As you certainly must know, the New Era is great in so many ways, and my testimony increases with each issue.

Connie Hair Loring Air Force Base, Maine

More fiction

Your July fiction was great! Please put more in. I was assigned to help sell subscriptions and found that young people want more stories. The active kids read what you have, but what about those who are less interested in the Church? I think some fiction about teenagers and their problems would help.

Shirley Jordan Oxnard, California

Couldn’t agree more! In fact, the reason we haven’t printed more fiction is because we haven’t received any from readers like yourself. Your assessment of the kind of fiction we’d like is right on. We want it to deal with Latter-day Saint youth, their problems, the issues they face, and what it’s like to be a Mormon. We also welcome fiction on traditional themes, an occasional romantic story, and some fun material, too. Let the word out—send in your fiction! Short shorts and short stories are wanted.