Especially friends

Thank you, Pam Hunter, for the poem entitled “To My Friends” in the February New Era. It’s beautiful. I write (or should I say try to write) poems, too, because it is the easiest way I know of expressing my feelings about everything, especially my friends! How great are the blessings that friends bring to our lives! I think this poem helps us all to realize just what a true friend means to us.

Jack Mason Gilbert, Arizona

The first step

Thank you very much for the New Era. I love it so much because it makes me feel so close to the Lord. I have saved every old New Era since the first one was published in January 1971.

The article “Friendship Is the First Step” in the February issue was very good. I am deaf, and I have attended the BYU deaf youth workshop for three summers. This article will help hearing people understand us better.

Elizabeth McClellan Salt Lake City, Utah

Something about today

I am 15, a recent convert to the Church, and attend the Church College of New Zealand. While I was investigating, I had no idea that such a fantastic magazine was being published by the Church. I have been reading the New Era for only four months, and already I’m impressed. I always thought that any Church book of any faith was filled either with great long lectures telling us what to do and what not to do or else stories from the lifetime of Jesus. These are definitely important concepts, of course, but I’ve always enjoyed learning something about today as well as yesterday. The New Era gives us information about today and prepares us for the future and for any sort of predicament we may be caught in. Every time I start reading a New Era, I finish it by the next day. That’s how neat it is to read. If you put another magazine of the same number of pages by it, it would take me weeks to read.

During my investigation of the Church, my mom was against my joining. But Dad gave his consent to my baptism and sometimes sat with me during discussions. I’m very grateful to him for that. To all the Latter-day Saints out there whose parents are members, I want to say, “Count your many blessings.” When you don’t have a family to go to Church with on Sunday, or the privilege of experiencing the spiritual enlightenment that the family home evening program brings, or have the Melchizedek Priesthood in your home, you miss out on a lot of blessings. But one great blessing I do have is a father and mother and family who love me. Since I joined the Church we’ve drawn closer together than ever before.

Thomas Karena Fairfield, Hamilton, New Zealand

Femininity versus sweat

As a mother of five, I find the New Era very spiritual, with much “food for thought.” I hope we can always have it in our home. I must, however, comment about the last two issues (February and March). You seem to be placing emphasis on the physical side of our young ladies. We all know that girls are involved in many sports. We have all enjoyed playing basketball, softball, etc., on Church teams, and I realize that girls need to be as physically fit as boys. But six pages on the basketball prowess of one particular girl? Straggly hair and perspiration on faces do not lend themselves to femininity. As mothers, Mutual leaders, and teachers, our main job seems to be teaching the girls about femininity. They don’t really have any good models in the world to follow. They have been touched by the women’s liberation movement to the point where they feel that equality means masculinity. If you are a girl, you must try to be a girl in all ways. This makes everything else fall into place. It is also easier for the boys to identify with their masculinity. I feel very strongly about this, though it may seem minor. I know the New Era needs to look at all areas to remain interesting and ongoing, but please keep femininity foremost in articles about our young ladies. We must continue to be different from the world. We must always be certain that we are part of the solution and not part of the problem.

Mrs. Stan Shofer Salt Lake City, Utah

Salty subscriber

When reading the New Era, I continuously find tears running down my cheeks. The entire magazine is wonderful, and the short articles, fiction, and poetry are always the highlights of my day. The New Era inspires me to be the person I am working toward being. The New Era is one of the greatest blessings in my life and has changed me greatly.

Sharon Sandage Arlington, Texas

The only way

I have been a convert to the Church for three years. I can’t begin to tell you how much this great magazine has helped me in my social life as well as in my Church callings. I especially enjoyed the song “Children” in the August New Era. I have just begun to work in the Primary and Junior Sunday School, and I can truly say that this song teaches us the only way to describe children—like the kingdom of God, clean and pure.

Suzy Peck La Puente, California

Which Diane is which?

I was surprised to find my by-line attached to the story “Make it Patchwork” in the February New Era. It was actually written by Diane Mangum, not by me.

Diane Bentley Salt Lake City, Utah

When “Make It Patchwork” was written, Diane Lofgren (now Mangum) and Diane Lofgreen (now Bentley) lived close to each other in Salt Lake. Sister Mangum married and now lives in Chicago. So when a New Era staff member saw her maiden name on the story, he wanted to make sure it was properly changed. He called Diane’s father, David, who lives close to Diane’s father David, who lives close to Diane’s brother David. Since both Dianes are writers, her brother assumed the New Era was talking about Diane, not Diane. Well they’re friends, anyway, so Diane and Diane got everything straightened out. As for us, we’re still confused, but wanted to give Diane the credit she deserves. Editor.

True-blue and dyed-in-the-wool

I read the New Era as part of my scripture study, especially Feedback, which seems the least like scripture but never fails to give me a spiritual lift. I love the Church so much that it hurts, yet I have inhibitions about telling other people about it. I like the FYI department where I can keep in contact with my brothers and sisters all over the world.

The Church is gradually starting to expand in Australia, although still very slowly. I love the missionary work, and it is slowly gathering momentum. My parents were baptized in May 1966 by Elder Jay Sorensen and Elder Michael Leigh. Shortly after my parents’ baptism in Sydney, we moved to a country town in New South Wales named Dubbo, and for three years we either met at home as a family every Sunday or else traveled 200 miles to the nearest chapel. We were the only Mormons in a town of 19,000. We stayed in Dubbo six years and pioneered a branch there. My dad became the branch president, but though missionaries labored there all the time, only four members were baptized in six years. Finally, our family and the other two families left, and the branch closed down. I can never be grateful enough for the strength and faith of my parents during the Dubbo years. I marvel at it now, because they themselves had only been members less than a year when we moved. I wasn’t a bit surprised when my dad was called as a bishop after being in Adelaide only a year. I love talking about my family because I’m just so proud of them and owe them everything I am in this life.

Although I love being in a big ward (150 active), I wish in a way that everyone could go away and be the only Mormons for two or three years, because you really have to rely on the Lord, and you really learn whether or not you have a testimony.

After being in the Church ten years, our family finally made it to the New Zealand Temple in January of 1976. My mum had to go out and work, and we had to exist on mincemeat and bread, but we made it. Now we are a family for time and eternity. It’s almost too good to be true.

I love to read the messages from the General Authorities in the New Era. The spirit of these men reaches me even through ink on paper. It makes me feel good to know that they are thinking of us. I feel especially close to those brethren I saw at the area conference in Melbourne—President Spencer W. Kimball, President N. Eldon Tanner, Elder Marion D. Hanks. I really have a special testimony of these men. I love the gospel with all my heart. It is life itself. It is my sole motivation in all that I do. When I look at the mess the world is in and wonder what I can do, I say, “Let me begin with me!” To all the young people of the Church, I send my love and appreciation and the hope that one day we can all meet in the celestial kingdom. We are the youth of Zion. We must not falter but fulfill our divine destiny here on this earth.

I really appreciate the effort that goes into the New Era. Thanks, maties, from a dinky-dye Mormon, true-blue and dyed-in-the-wool!

Karen Wisserman Adelaide, South Australia