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At Christmas play and make good cheer, For Christmas comes but once a year.

—Thomas Tusser

Wrapping with Style

After you’ve spent time and effort finding the perfect present to thrill each person on your shopping list, why not wrap it to fit each person’s personality or interest. And the wrappings can become little presents in themselves.

For the avid jogger, a new pair of shoelaces makes a fun substitute ribbon. Pick out a pair to brighten a drab pair of running shoes.

For the prospective missionary, wrap the box in plain paper. Add a tie knotted as if on a shirt. Make a black card with white writing as the name tag.

For the seamstress, try wrapping the gift in a piece of gingham with a measuring tape as the ribbon. Use a couple of spools of thread tied to a bow to complete the package.

For the budding financier or established businessman, wrap the present in the financial page of the newspaper. Fold a dollar bill into a fan and incorporate it into the bow.

For the music enthusiast, decorate a new record or tape with the shiny brown tape from a cannibalized cassette and pull out plenty of tape to use as ribbon. If you are careful you can curl the tape by lightly pulling the dull side along the edge of some scissors and add several lengths as a bow.

For the seminary student, add a red pencil or other marking pens to be used on scriptures to the bow.

For the swimmer, try wrapping the present in a towel. Add a pair of swimming goggles to the top to add the finishing touch.

For the amateur photographer, use a length of old film as the ribbon. Take a couple of new rolls of film out of their boxes and add them to the bow.

For the outdoorsman, bag your gift in a nylon stuff sack and tie it up with rope.

For the car buff, wrap the gift in a road map. Add black ribbon with white lines marked down the middle.

For the gourmet cook, include a wooden spoon, some dried herbs, or stick cinnamon in the decorative bow.

In gift giving, it’s the thought that counts. Using some imagination and thought in the wrapping lets those special people know you really were thinking particularly of them.

Wonderful Pest

by Glenn Latham

This is a true story about a Wonderful Pest.

We have six children, four lovely daughters and two fine sons. All of our children have progressed nicely through the programs of the Church, including the Scouting program for the boys.

Unfortunately, we parents never caught Scouting fever, so neither did the boys. Consequently, our oldest son graduated from the Aaronic Priesthood program having attained the rank of Life Scout, falling several merit badges short of the coveted rank of Eagle (coveted by his parents, that is).

Like older brother, like younger brother, number two son saw Scouting primarily as an avenue for fun, with some resentment reserved for “all the clunky requirements.” And true to form, his parents were only a mild irritant to him to “get with it”; hence, the weeks and months toward the end of eligibility flew past with little hope of an Eagle landing. “After all,” we reasoned, “how influential can we hope to be when, after making several very attractive offers to encourage our son, he replies, somewhat disdainfully, ‘I don’t even want to be an Eagle Scout.’”

Enter our Wonderful Pest.

At the height (or depth) of our son’s lethargy and our resignation, Jeff Sessions, our Wonderful Pest, moved into our ward, the Third Ward, North Logan Utah Stake. He is an unassuming, determined, soft-spoken young fellow, married, the father of four precious children, and a graduate student at Utah State University. His talents were soon recognized, and before long he was called to be the priests quorum adviser—and to him that meant Scouting.

Our Wonderful Pest is one of those goal-oriented, management-by-objective types. For the priests quorum the goal was clear—100 percent Eagle Scouts (much to the dismay and discomfort of the quorum members).

With goal in hand, W. P. wasted no time. The strategy was simple: divide and conquer. None of this “let’s all get an Eagle together” stuff. He went after each boy individually. Then the phone began to ring, every day and twice on Sunday, at least. It went like this:

Ring, ring.

“Allen, it’s for you. It’s Jeff.”

(Mutter, mutter) “That pest. I’ll get it down here. Hi, Jeff. At your place? Now! Okay, I’ll be there in a few minutes. (Grumble, grumble) I’m going to Jeff’s. I’ll be back in a while.”

Not infrequently, W. P. was found at our front door following up on an assignment, just checking, or picking up our son to take him to some merit badge activity with, of course, a stop on the way home to get some pizza, doughnuts, a root beer, or whatever. In which event it was “grumble, grumble; munch, munch.” Allen always returned with a smile on his face, and he always returned one step closer to another merit badge. And so it went:

Ring, ring

Knock, knock

Grumble, grumble

Munch, munch

Merit badge, merit badge

Recently through the front door bounded our 17-year-old bundle of young male energy. “Guess what, Dad?” he proudly exclaimed with animated enthusiasm. “You’re looking at an Eagle Scout! And to think that only a few months ago, I didn’t even want to be an Eagle Scout. It’s all because of that pest, Jeff.”

“Yep,” I replied, “our Wonderful Pest.”

This scenario was duplicated in the homes of ten other priests resulting in the accomplishment of Jeff’s goal, all members of the priests quorum receiving the Eagle Award.

Encouragement by Mail

Julie Elsmore wanted to do something special for her brother and several friends while they were serving their missions. She started writing letters and sending small packages. Soon her list of missionary correspondents expanded to several dozen including missionary couples and sister missionaries. She now has organized a newsletter that highlights one missionary a month and includes encouraging advice and experiences of other missionaries. She remembers birthdays and sends surprise packages when they are needed to raise spirits.

Julie’s efforts keep her busy, and she has a part-time job to help pay the postage for letters to her “adopted” missionaries. Julie is a member of the Northridge Second Ward, Chatsworth California Stake.

Star Speaker

Robert Phillips has a way with words. He knows how to persuade and how to influence an audience. Robert took first place in the district Lincoln-Douglas A-2 debate and first place in the State of Idaho A-2 debate competition. This was the first time his high school had ever placed in state competition.

Robert is an Eagle Scout. He serves as first assistant to the bishop in his priests quorum in the Rigby Fifth Ward, Rigby Idaho Stake.

Regional Champs

The Young Men of the Santa Susana Third Ward, Simi Valley California Stake, have won their third straight regional championship. They took top honors in volleyball, softball, and basketball. They are trying to extend their winning streak as they participate in another year of the Church sports program.

Pacesetter

Kent M. Newman of the Anchorage First Ward, Anchorage Alaska Stake, has been a real pacesetter for other youth in the stake. As a result of never missing a personal scripture study time for 180 consecutive days, Kent completely read the Book of Mormon seven times by the end of the third quarter. In addition, he has maintained perfect attendance at early-morning seminary.

Kent is a sophomore in high school and plays the trumpet in the high school band.

English Miss

Catheryne Kitchen of Oxford, England, is a busy young lady. She works hard at keeping up with her school work and seminary lessons even though she is hampered by a learning disability. But through her determination, she is successful in her efforts. Catheryne also spends her Saturday evenings tracting with the sister missionaries. She plans to train as a nurse and hopes to use those skills serving on a mission.

Talented Amy

by Lynn Radnedge

Having just landed a part in one of the London West End theatres’ newest and most lavish productions, “Bugsy Malone,” 15-year-old Amy Wilkins knows she is on the threshold of something really exciting. She was selected out of 10,000 who auditioned for one of the three parts. But she is emphatic about one thing: nothing is going to endanger her church life.

Declares talented Amy, a member of the Wandsworth Ward in the London England Wandsworth Stake, “If my participation in the play threatens my church activity, I’ll give it all up.”

She has enormous confidence in the faith that has kept her and her family of five brothers and sisters firmly rooted in gospel principles all of their lives.

Already she has refused to participate in certain forms of dancing at the world-famous Italia Conti Stage School in London, where she studies. “Surprisingly, my teacher didn’t mind,” said Amy, whose father Reg is a former bishop at the Wandsworth Ward and is an international photographer. “I told her my reasons, and she just accepted my decision.”

Amy is convinced that the path she is treading towards success in show business is the right one because she and her family discussed it at great length and prayed about it before she set out to audition for the stage two years ago. Two thousand young hopefuls auditioned for the school and only 20, including Amy, were accepted.

“Most of my friends are members, and those at school know I am a Mormon and know what I stand for,” she continued. “I hope it’s always going to stay this way, and I’ll certainly do my best to see that it does.”

Math Master

Laurel Fearnley of Provo, Utah, took highest honors in the sophomore division of the Utah State Mathematics contest finals. She also attained the second highest score on the National Math Test.

Laurel is a Mia Maid in the Oak Hills Fourth Ward, Provo Utah Oak Hills Stake.

This Was His Life

The Young Women of the Mt. Vernon Branch of the Columbus Ohio Stake wanted to get to know their branch president, Kurt Southam, a little bit better. Under the guidance of Cynthia and Bill Dougherty, the girls went to work gathering information and planning the surprise evening under the guise of a youth talent show.

After the first talent number, the spotlight was turned from the stage and fell on the branch president in the audience. Then as the details of his life were told, his brothers and sisters who had flown in for the event were ushered on stage to tell interesting stories of his youth.

The activity was a special one for the young people and the other branch members. The event was covered by the local newspaper.

Promising Artist

Kenneth Miess, 16-year-old priest in the Orchard Park Ward, Buffalo New York Stake, was recently awarded first place in a county-wide competition among Boy Scouts to design a poster for the Erie County Chapter of the New York State Association for Retarded Children. Ken entered the contest as a member of the ward’s Boy Scout troop.

Two State Champs

Strange as it may sound, two young men from the same ward won wrestling championships in different states. Kip Palmer and Dwight Witherspoon are both members of the Bayfield Ward, Durango Colorado Stake. The ward boundaries cover areas in both New Mexico and Colorado.

Dwight attends high school in Aztec, New Mexico. He wrestled in the 132-pound class, winning the New Mexico state championship. He serves as priests quorum secretary in his ward.

Kip attends high school at Ignacio, Colorado. He wrestled in the 145-pound division, taking the Colorado state championship. He also was the state’s leading rusher in football. He serves as first assistant to the priests quorum president.

Book of Mormon Scenes

The hills above the Golden Gate Bridge near San Francisco were transformed into the lands of the Book of Mormon as the students in the San Rafael California Stake acted out scenes from the Book of Mormon. Their reenactments were recorded on videotape.

The seminary class from the San Rafael First and Second wards held a super-activity that would reinforce their study of the events, personalities, and teachings of the Book of Mormon.

In the eerie, foggy setting, the World War I bunkers provided an ideal background for the scenes. Boxes of items brought from home helped create costumes for each character. Headbands, helmets, capes, homemade swords, and draped fabric helped create the illusion.

Situations from the Book of Mormon had previously been selected during seminary, and groups had been assigned to each story. No scripts were written, but students studied the stories carefully to prepare and ad-libbed the scenes. After two hours, the recording was finished, resulting in 25 minutes of tape. The videotape was shown the next night following seminary graduation.

The seminary students who participated in this unique Book of Mormon review will remember what they learned and the good time they had with those who participated.

Television Odyssey

Some young women of the Orange California Stake appeared on a local television talk show to explain the Young Women program.

In a departure from the usual format of the interview show, this program was presented by the Young Women themselves. Two young women were invited to participate. Theresa Johnson, 17, of the Orange First Ward, showed how a girl reports her personal progress as she and an adviser, Kathy Petersen, had a Personal Progress interview about Theresa’s goals in the areas of service and compassion.

“It was a neat experience,” said Theresa, “but I don’t know if I’d like to do it often. It’s a lot of hurry up and get there and wait and wait and wait until it’s your turn in front of the camera.”

Alisha Powell, a Beehive from the Orange Fourth Ward, showed her talent in a ballet dance number. She said, “We were all very nervous, but we were excited to be able to tell people who are not members of the Church how fun and exciting the Personal Progress program is.”

Book Reviews

Solo (Deseret Book $5.95) by Patricia O’Brien King

While qualifying for her pilot’s license, Sherleen Jaussi is forced to crash-land her small plane. For five days her fate is unknown until, against incredible odds, ground searchers rescue her. This is the story of those five days as she fights heat, thirst, pain, and loneliness while her husband and five children cling to the hope that she is still alive.

What Price Zion (Deseret Book $6.95) by Carol Partridge McIntosh and Carole Osborne Cole

Ann Littlefield’s ten-year struggle to bring her family from England to the Rocky Mountains is chronicled in this novel. Based on true incidents, the story exemplifies the difficulties overcome by Saints over a century ago as they gathered to Zion.

Success Is … (Bookcraft $4.95) by Paul H. Dunn

Everyone wants to succeed, but few are able to define success. Elder Paul H. Dunn suggests that too often people look at success in terms of worldly attainment. Success in the light of the gospel reveals that we must concentrate our efforts on families, relationships, faith, testimony, knowledge, and character to truly succeed.

Trust (Bookcraft $4.95) by Robert E. Wells

Using the analogy of a person seeking a bank loan, the author suggests that the loan officer would look at a person’s character, capacity, and capital in determining whether to make a loan to him. Likewise, the Lord will assess our character, capacity, and spiritual capital in determining our worthiness to obtain blessings and trust. Commitment, self-control, faith, humility, and work all play a part in our becoming trustworthy.

Commandments and Promises of God (Deseret Book $15.95) by Bernard P. Brockbank

What statutes and requirements has God given us? What are the promises that accompany them? In his book, Elder Bernard P. Brockbank has compiled over 4,300 entries from the scriptures, divided into 120 topics. It is a comprehensive reference source to help identify specific commandments and promises.

The Challenge and the Harvest (Deseret Book $7.95) by Franklin D. Richards

In his new book, the author outlines challenges that face modern-day disciples of Christ, things they must know in order to reap the harvest or salvation and eternal life. “Our challenge,” he claims, “is to make wise choices in everything we do, always within the context of the gospel and Christ’s teachings.”

Today, Tomorrow, and Four Weeks from Tuesday (Bookcraft $5.95) by Carol Lynn Pearson

Ted is honest, true, chaste, benevolent—but just a touch colorless. That’s one reason Carrie doesn’t want to marry him. So with promises to write home, she is off to Israel to live on a kibbutz. There she struggles as Mother Nature becomes a matchmaker. Creative, humorous, imaginative—Carol Lynn Pearson’s new novel is a lively story of life and love.

Champions of Light (Randall Book) ed. Richard Cottam Shipp

A collection of exciting, true-life, first-person accounts never before published from young people who were there to see Church history events take place. Included are accounts from a teenager who was among the handcart rescue party, a young member of the Mormon Battalion who was at Sutter’s Mill for the discovery of gold, and a handicapped elder serving a six-year mission in Wales. These are accounts of faith, courage, and sacrifice.

From Clergy to Convert (Bookcraft $5.95) compiled by Stephen W. Gibson

Once they were known as ministers, priests, nuns, and monks. Today they are all known as Mormons. This book is a compilation of 14 first-person accounts of the conversions of former leaders of various churches who embraced the restored gospel of Jesus Christ, overcoming great difficulties and personal struggles in search of truth. These converts show that courage comes in many forms.

A Widening View (Bookcraft $4.95) by Carol Lynn Pearson

This new collection from a well-known poet focuses on the expanded visions of life—seeing beyond that which is apparent, gleaning from life’s precious moments, thoughtful insights that enhance life’s meaning. This is the author’s fourth volume of poetry.

Take Charge of Your Life (Deseret Book $7.95) by Robert L. Backman

“Many people go through their lives letting things happen to them. … The truth is that we are free to act and not merely be acted upon, free to take our lives in hand.” Elder Robert L. Backman explores the amazing world of the mind and says that what we do does make a difference.

To Grow in Spirit by Joe J. Christensen

This book offers specific suggestions that can help you grow in spirit. As the author points out, spirituality is an essential ingredient to a successful, happy life.

Mormon Mind Puzzlers (Randall Book $1.95) by Fern and Joan Oviatt

Mormon Mind Puzzlers is a collection of puzzles, riddles, and word games all based on clues using a knowledge of Mormon phrases and scriptures.

The Will to Win (Randall Book $4.95) by Keith J. Karren

The Curt Brinkman story is one of perseverance and achievement against incredible odds. As a teenager, Curt lost his legs in an accident. He has gone on to accomplish great things in athletics, in his schooling, and in his personal life.

[photo] Photo by Martin Mayo