Q&A: Questions and Answers

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    Answers are for help and perspective, not as pronouncements of Church doctrine

    “Where do I go to obtain or ask about the special clothing worn in the temple? May I, for instance, sew or purchase all I’ll need before I go for the first time? Where can information be obtained about the sacred clothing in terms of cost, styles available, and places it can be purchased?”

    Answer/Sister Barbara B. Smith

    By assignment of the First Presidency, the Relief Society is the exclusive distributor of all such clothing. This action was taken to safeguard the sacred nature of temple clothing and to make it more conveniently available to Latter-day Saints who have received or who are about to receive their endowments. Information regarding the costs and styles of all such clothing is available through the Relief Society garment distribution center nearest you or from your Relief Society garment representative. Contact your ward/branch or stake/district Relief Society president for either the location of your nearest distribution center or the name of your garment representative.

    The Beehive Clothing Mills, a Church owned and operated manufacturing establishment, is the only agency authorized by the First Presidency to produce the sacred clothing. The Church has not seen fit to authorize individuals to make temple clothing for sale. Worthy individuals, however, who have received their endowments and who desire to make temple clothing for themselves or a family member may do so upon the proper authorization of the stake or mission president.

    Individuals not having received their own endowments but who have received recommends to go to the temple and who desire to make their own temple clothing may do so under the direction and instruction of the stake/district Relief Society president. (May I caution you that this is not an easy project. It requires great skill and special fabrics to meet the required specifications.)

    Because of the sacred nature of this clothing, members should not work on any part of it during any meeting or group gathering.

    Questions regarding the care and wearing of this sacred clothing should be referred to the presiding priesthood authority in your area.

    I hope this answers your questions; if not, please contact your stake/district Relief Society president.

    General President of the Relief Society

    “I am so busy with Church and other assignments that I don’t have time for anything else, yet I am taught to never say no when asked to accept a Church position. What do I do?”

    Answer/Elder Franklin D. Richards

    As a mission president and supervisor of missions, I have heard thousands of missionaries bear their testimonies, and invariably they say, “The great joy and happiness that I get out of missionary work is to see the change that comes into the life of a man, woman, or child as he accepts the gospel and lets it work in his life.”

    What accounts for this change? Yes, they do receive the Holy Ghost at the time of their baptism to guide and direct them, providing they live the gospel principles. But another reason for this change is their involvement in Church activities. Inasmuch as there is no paid ministry in the Church, service opportunities are available to men, women, and children of all ages.

    Like Nephi of old, I was born of goodly parents, and two of the most important things that my parents taught me were to follow the leaders of the Church and never turn down an opportunity to serve in the Church.

    These teachings have had a profound influence in my life, but I must confess that it has been difficult at times to accept and magnify callings. However, to my best recollection, I have never turned down an opportunity to serve in the Church when asked.

    We must recognize that there are times when people can be involved in so many activities that they don’t seem to be able to take care of them the way they would like, let alone take on more. Elder Richard L. Evans referred to this in one of his sermonettes when he said, “Always there is less time left—a fact that we sometimes face with feelings of frustration because we are so busy—too busy sometimes to think enough about what we are busy about—

    “Could it be that we have enslaved ourselves somewhat with many unessentials?

    “Can we avoid letting unessentials enslave us? Can we resolve to seek somewhat to SIMPLIFY and to make a new appraisal of what we really consider essential, with a little more living, a little less of mere mechanics, a little less time on the treadmill, a little less of meaningless motions?”

    Before turning down a request to serve because you feel you are too busy, you might want to do as Elder Evans suggests: SIMPLIFY somewhat and make a new appraisal of what you really consider essential. Reconsider your priorities and remember your covenants with the Lord wherein you have covenanted to give of your time, talents, and means liberally to the upbuilding of the kingdom of God.

    As you simplify your life by putting first things first and eliminate less essential activities, you will probably find time to accept the Church assignment. If after such a careful and prayerful consideration of the request you are still undecided, it would seem appropriate to discuss the request further with your local Church leaders.

    Also, sometimes we are asked to accept Church callings that we do not feel qualified to handle, and we are prone to say no because we are afraid. I have found that to a very large extent life is a series of assignments for which we don’t feel fully prepared, but as we accept and do our part, the Lord blesses us with wisdom beyond our natural selves, and in such cases we really reach beyond ourselves. Thus we grow by having to exceed our past selves.

    It is my opinion that being generally too busy and not being qualified are really not valid reasons for turning down opportunities to serve in building the kingdom of God.

    The Prophet Joseph Smith said, “I made this my rule, when the Lord commands—do it.” (History of the Church, 2:170.)

    To us the Lord commands through his authorized servants; so my advice is, follow the leaders of the Church and never turn down an opportunity to serve. By so doing, you will, like the missionaries, not only see a great change come into the lives of those you are working with, but into your own as well. You will experience joy, happiness, contentment, growth, and development. To these things I can truly testify.

    of the First Council of the Seventy

    “How do I find my talents?”

    Answer/Brother Joseph S. Wood

    It is not difficult for a young person to have a feeling of inadequacy and failure as he watches the success and acclaim that accompany the performance of someone with a remarkable talent or gift. It is understandable how many of us can say to ourselves, “What’s the matter with me? I can’t do anything really well.”

    But hold on a minute. How about some of the statements of modern philosophers that would indicate that most people have the capacity to polish and develop a talent of their own. A man by the name of Thomas Buxton once said, “With ordinary talent, and extraordinary perseverance, all things are attainable.” And haven’t we heard frequent talks in general conferences of the Church that have brought out the thought that just about everybody has the ability to develop a talent. A person needs only to search with perseverance to find his talent. That’s true! Almost all of us who fall in the category of “ordinary” people can find a talent for which we are particularly suited. Let me tell you about some people I have known who depict this principle with emphasis.

    A few years ago I was at beautiful Jackson Lake in the Grand Teton National Park of Wyoming. Not far from the shore of that exquisite body of deep blue water at the foot of the Teton peaks, I bumped unexpectedly into a very close friend from my hometown. He was sitting in the shade of some tall pine trees, painting a scene of the beautiful Teton Mountains. I had known him intimately for many years but had no idea that he knew the first thing about a brush and landscape.

    “For heaven’s sake, Jack, what are you doing up here in the mountains with a paint brush in your hand? How long have you been doing this?” I asked.

    “I’ve been puttering around for just a few months, and it’s the most fun I’ve ever had. I’m almost done with this one. What do you think of it?” He showed me his painting. I was absolutely amazed that he could paint.

    “But how did you learn to do this? A guy can’t just pick up a brush and start painting.”

    “I guess my boy is the one who started me,” he said. “He took an art class in high school and went crazy over it. He showed me a few of the fundamentals. It’s much easier than you would think. And it’s fun!”

    Whenever my car is sputtering and needs the careful diagnosis of a good mechanic, I take it to a particular friend of mine. This fellow’s brothers all prepared for life by studying law, medicine, or engineering. But my friend just seemed to love to tinker with cars. He has his own automotive repair shop (rather small), and it is a joy to take a car to him for repairs. He is the picture of contentment because he is doing what he really enjoys doing. He bubbles with enthusiasm as he repairs an ailing part. He perpetually flashes a warm and genuine smile, and it is a complete joy to see how much he enjoys mending an automotive ailment. He’s a very good mechanic, and each time I visit him I get the strong impression that he is much happier in life than his brothers who are in supposedly more lofty professions.

    Another friend of mine is a prominent corporation lawyer. For years he’s had trouble sleeping at night. An ardent fisherman, he decided one restless night that he would try making the flies that fishermen use. The next day he bought some inexpensive equipment. He went completely overboard on flytying. He enjoyed it even more than fishing. In the space of a few years he must have tied half a million of those things, and he was proud of every single one of them. He became an expert.

    A few summers ago our family visited Catalina Island just off the coast near Los Angeles. While there we visited the excellent aviary, which has the most interesting collection of birds I have ever seen. But even though the birds were fascinating, the most important part of the visit for me was the acquaintance I made with a man whom I shall never forget. He told me something that still lingers vividly in my memory, even though this must have been ten years ago.

    He worked at the aviary. I first noticed him as he was feeding the birds in the cages. He seemed to know each bird individually, calling them by name and chatting with them as though they were children gathered around him. It was easily apparent that he loved every bird in the place, and the birds seemed to feel the same way about him. After he had finished his feeding chores, I felt compelled to talk to him for a moment.

    “It was interesting to watch you feed the birds,” I said. “It’s easy to see that you enjoy your work here.”

    “Yes sir, I enjoy it here more than I can tell you. In fact, I can’t think of a single person I would trade places with—none of the movie stars, none of the bankers or lawyers, none of the merchants, none of the presidents, premiers, or kings. I like it right here, and I like what I’m doing.” We chatted a few minutes longer. Then he said, “You know, mister, there is one important thing I’ve discovered in life—at least as far as I personally am concerned. It’s this: If you like what you do, and if you’re doing something that is really worthwhile, and if you do the best job you can do, then, brother, you’ve got it made!”

    I have a friend who makes a living selling women’s shoes. But this fellow is much more than a shoe salesman. You should see his garden. What a gift! His yard is the envy of everyone within miles of his place. Talk about a green thumb! His petunias and marigolds and other plants just seem to realize that they are destined to be the best in the land, and I don’t think a clump of crab grass would dare invade his yard. But the nicest thing about this is to see the complete enjoyment he gets out of his great talent of gardening.

    I have a friend named Doug whom I must tell you about. He went through school with an unexciting C+ average, and his current earning power is about in the same class—comfortable but not lavish. He has his share of aches and pains, and life has dealt him a full crop of the tougher problems that seem to accompany just about every family. Yet Doug is a man with a gift that is worth more than money can buy. He is a tremendously happy man, and there is no doubt that his happiness comes primarily from his one polished and perfected talent. Perhaps it might be called a knack rather than a gift or a talent. At any rate, it works.

    Doug has the knack of absorbing real enjoyment out of the simple and ordinary happenings of each day. I suppose it could be called the knack of enjoyment—and he utilizes it in a fantastic fashion. A normal dinner at night with his wife and kids is a memorable thing for this fellow because he knows how to reap an unusual amount of enjoyment from the carefully set table, the taste of the food, and the conversation of each person, no matter how trivial. It’s as though he had been looking forward to this particular occasion for weeks. A day on the job to Doug seems a challenge, with new decisions and opportunities, while others doing the same thing may feel they’re in a repetitive rut. He can go to church and find a half-dozen worthwhile pearls in a sermon and make plans for adopting them in his own habits, while others sitting in the same service may grumble to themselves about how boring and empty the spoken word has been. When Doug’s golf game is sour, with a score that soars to 105, and his pant cuffs are filled with sand from the traps and prickly weeds from the rough, this guy can actually smile and talk about how great it was out there in the beautiful out-of-doors.

    You see, Doug discovered many years ago that most people expected and anticipated a great wad of happiness to come to them when certain events or accomplishments just over the horizon of the future would materialize. Such events could be graduation, or marriage, or the birth of children, or the betterment of a job, or the acquiring of a home or a car. Anyway, Doug has always felt that life is now, and it should be enjoyed now. He taught himself how to enjoy the simple and ordinary things of each day that so often are taken very much for granted.

    I once asked Doug to tell me the secret of this unusual gift that he possesses. He told me there were three things that he accentuates every day of his life. First, he tries to slow down in his path through life. He stops to listen to the laughter of children playing in the neighborhood. He takes time to notice flowers, gardens, and homes as he walks along a street. He enjoys each day and wants it to last. Secondly, he reminds himself many times each day that he is going to find happiness on that day! He always seems to be alert in the search. And third, he emphasizes how necessary it is to develop the ability to genuinely appreciate the many things in life for which we should be grateful. Appreciation!

    Doug taught me that anybody can acquire his gift if they will strive diligently for it. It doesn’t take great intellectual ability, great physical strength, great heritage, great wealth, or great accomplishment. It’s open to anyone who is looking for a talent. Try it. It works.

    Associate Professor of History, Brigham Young University