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Sunday, February 18, 2018

Oakland California Temple Closes for Renovation

Hello again, everyone! For those who are not aware of this fact, I wanted to note that, while all temples worldwide are closed on Sunday, most (if not all) of the temples within the United States are also closed on Monday as well. My purpose in mentioning this is to note that, while the closure for the Oakland California Temple was officially set to begin tomorrow, because that temple traditionally is closed on Sunday and Monday, the closure has essentially gone into effect.

As we also know, when this temple's closure was announced roughly a year ago this month, the stated purpose for the renovation is to upgrade electrical and mechanical systems upgraded and for its' finishes and furnishings to be refreshed. According to that news release, the temple is anticipated to be rededicated before the end of the next year. But because this is the first time this temple is being renovated, and because the first renovations for older temples have had a history of taking longer than anticipated, it has, as I have observed, been my feeling that this temple's rededication may only occur during early-to-mid 2020. I will keep my eyes open for more information on this process as it unfolds and will do my best to pass it along as I learn of it.

That does it for this post. Any and all comments are, as always, welcome and appreciated. Thank you for the privilege of your time. Until my next post, I wish each one of you all the best and pray that the Lord will bless you all in everything you do.

A Word About the First Presidency Message in the March 2018 Ensign

Hello again, everyone! With the fact that an Ensign Supplement accompanied in February 2018 Ensign, I had felt that the March 2018 edition of that magazine might contain articles about the reorganization of the First Presidency. With an HTML version of the magazine now available, I can confirm that did not happen. Those articles may be printed with the April edition of the magazine.

In the meantime, it has been somewhat customary for the new Church president to write the first First Presidency message published following his ordination. That was the case for President Monson (whose first First Presidency message was published in the April 2008 Ensign), President Hinckley (whose first First Presidency message was published in the July 1995 Ensign, as the April 1995 Ensign covered President Hunter's funeral, the May 1995 edition was a report of President Hinckley's first General Conference as Church President, and since the June edition had an article about President Hinckley written by Elder Holland in lieu of a First President message), and President Hunter (the July 1994 Ensign was a tribute to President Benson, the August 1994 edition had a feature article on President Hunter written by then-Elder James E. Faust, and the September 1994 Ensign contained President Hunter's first First Presidency message as Church president).

Looking further back into the history of the first First Presidency message following the ordination of a new Church president, the first First Presidency message published following President Benson's ordination as Church president in November 1985 (which appeared in the December 1985 Ensign, directly following the tribute articles (including addresses given during the funeral) written in honor of President Spencer W. Kimball. Since President Hinckley had previously been asked by President Kimball to write the First Presidency message for that edition of the Ensign, President Hinckley was given permission to follow through on that assignment, and the message was published under his former title of Second Counselor in the First Presidency.

My purpose in mentioning all of this is to set the background for what occurred for the March 2018 First Presidency message. Apparently, with the usual rotation kept during President Monson's presidency, it was then-President  Uchtdorf's turn in that rotation to pen a message for that Ensign. With President Nelson's approval, President Uchtdorf's prepared message has been published with the March 2018 Ensign, and can be found here.

For that reason, I imagine that President Nelson's first First Presidency message will be published in the April 2018 Ensign. It will likewise be interesting to see if the traditional report of the new First Presidency is included in April as well, and how soon an Ensign supplement is published to reintroduce President Nelson to the Church membership.

I hope this information is helpful to at least some of you. That does it for this post. Any and all comments are, as always, welcome and appreciated. Thank you for the privilege of your time. Until my next post, I wish each one of you all the best and pray that the Lord will bless you all in everything you do.

Friday, February 16, 2018

Some Additional Observations About Future Temples

Hello again, everyone! As I promised to do so, I have been working on researching, editing, and revising my list of future temple locations. While getting that together, I discovered some things about how the temple announcement boom that occurred beginning with this announcement from President Hinckley about how the number of operating temples would more than double in a few years compares with what is potentially going to happen based on Elder Wilson's statement last April about the 80 potential temple locations that may subsequently have an official announcement within the 15 years following that statement. What I have put together below goes into detail on my findings about that thought.

Two things have occurred within the last year that will affect temple announcements going forward. First, President Monson, who for the final 3 years of his presidency (2015-2017) gave shorter addresses, habitually announced temples during his Sunday Morning remarks. If he had continued to live through this General Conference, any new temples would have been announced, with his consent, by one of his counselors. In view of President Nelson now being the Church President, it seems clear that he will make new temple announcements himself, and for this General Conference, that seems most likely to occur during the Sunday Morning Session, which, if recent tradition holds, will be President Nelson’s first General Conference address as President of the Church to the entire membership.

Second, Elder Larry Y. Wilson stated in late April 2017 (around a month after President Monson announced 5 new temples in General Conference) that the Church was actively considering 80 potential temple locations for a future announcement within the following 15 years. That statement was made almost a year ago, and no new temples have been announced since that time. This means that, whether or not each one of those 80 goes on to be officially announced within that time, there are slightly more than 14 years remaining in which to do so, which means, if Elder Wilson’s statement is anywhere close to being literally taken, 5 or 6 temples would need to be announced per year, which could result in temples being announced in every General Conference, and with a few others here and there in between those times. 

The task therefore for me was to try and determine, of the many locations that I considered, which should be on my list for the near future and which might occur at some point, but perhaps not as immediately. For that purpose, I posted in-depth analysis of such prospects on my blog and requested feedback. Based on what was said in the course of doing that series of posts, I made changes, revisions, and substitutions. Since the conclusion of those conversations, I have done more research and have made a few additional adjustments.

The list as it now stands represents my best researched thoughts, based on personally-gathered data and (where applicable) insight from those who have commented on those prospects. It should also be mentioned that I will be organizing the list a little differently this time around as well. As I considered how best to do so, it seemed advisable to group this list first by general world area (which corresponds to the regions that make up the Third-Eighth Quorums of the Seventy), then by likelihood within that area. I am also providing endnotes to set the context for any pertinent information about either the regions or specific locations, which I hope will be illustrative.

With all of that noted, while it may be impossible to anticipate every potential location that may get a temple, or how imminently that might occur, I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that the Lord is hastening His work in His time, is very much aware of the needs of the members of His Church, and knows exactly when, in what locations, and how imminently temples are needed anywhere, and He reveals such locations at the right time through His prophet. Exactly 20 years ago this conference,

President Gordon B. Hinckley announced to the Church his smaller temple design, and the goal to more than double the number of temples in a few short years. There were 51 operating temples at the time that announcement was made, and in the 20 years since, that number has more than tripled to 159, a total increase of 108 temples, or roughly 5.4 per year.

And of those 108 (if my research and subsequent calculations are correct), around 76 were both announced and completed within those 20 years. With that in mind, it is not a stretch of logic to believe that Elder Wilson’s statement will likely prove correct and justified, and that around 80 (if not exactly that or more than that) could easily be announced in the next 14 years. That is great to think about.

That does it for this post. Any and all comments are, as always, welcome and appreciated. Thank you for the privilege of your time. Until my next post, I wish each one of you all the best and pray that the Lord will bless you all in everything you do.

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Additional Church News Updates

Hello again, everyone! While the update on the Kinshasa temple and the death of Elder Morrison warranted their own blog posts here, I am back to cover other Church news stories that are significant, and I think I can cover the remainder of those stories in a single post. If that changes, I will let you know. So let's get right into all of that.

Many of you living in the United States are no doubt aware of the shooting that was reported as taking place at a high school in Florida. The Church News shared that two young women who were members of the Church were among those killed in this attack, and the First Presidency released this statement about the shooting.

Next, the Church News reported that missionaries have returned to Puerto Rico after they and others who have since concluded their service were evacuated following Hurricane Maria. I will be evaluating how (if at all) this development changes my previous assertion that a temple in Puerto Rico would likely be delayed. If any of you have thoughts on that matter, I'd love to hear from you.

Continuing her series of articles highlighting her time as a reported and editor of the Church News, Gerry Avant wrote this article to share her interviews over the years with Presidents Benson, Packer, and Faust and Elders Perry and Haight containing their reminiscences about their calls to the apostleship.

And the Church News also wrote about new mission presidents called to serve in England, Brazil, and the DR Congo, which you can read about here.  Finally, we have this report of how, following inspired counsel from Elder Jeffrey R. Holland, local Church leaders in Mississippi came together to assist in needed refurbishment for the local offices of the NAACP.

It was great to read of all the good the Church has done as reflected in these articles, and I am grateful for the opportunity I had to share them with you herein. I will be keeping my eyes open for any further updates and Church news and will pass those along to you as I become aware of them.

That does it for this post. Any and all comments are, as always, welcome and appreciated. Thank you for the privilege of your time. Until my next post, I wish each one of you all the best and pray that the Lord will bless you all in everything you do.

Emeritus General Authority Elder Alexander B. Morrison Passes Away At Age 87

Hello again, everyone! I mentioned in my last post that there had been a lot of Church news today. One such item is that Elder Alexander B. Morrison, an Emeritus General Authority, has passed away. You can find the Church News report on his life, Church ministry, and funeral arrangements here, and review any of the four addresses he gave during General Conference over the years of his ministry (which are well worth a review) here. From a quick review of those sources, I can tell Elder Morrison is a wonderful man, and that the Church was blessed to have his voice in Church leadership. That does it for this post. Any and all comments are, as always, welcome and appreciated. Thank you for the privilege of your time. Until my next post, I wish each one of you all the best and pray that the Lord will bless you all in everything you do.

Update Provided on the Kinshasa DR Congo Temple

Hello again, everyone! There have been some exciting Church and temple developments to report today, but in view of my need to take care of a few personal matters, I have not been able to post about them before now. It is time to rectify that.

Earlier today, an update was reported on the status of the Kinshasa DR Congo Temple. I last reported an update on that temple on Saturday January 27 of this year. That update can be found here. New information today indicates that this temple has its' steeple, roof shingles,  and exterior paint nearing completion, and that an adjoining guardhouse is being built.

It may be a while yet before we know for sure, but this update gives me hope that we could see this temple dedicated before the end of this year. However, I will not alter my latest estimates again until I can prove that will be the case.

Again, it is good to see how temple progress can be made on a day-to-day basis, and I will continue to monitor, track, and report these developments as they occur. That does it for this post. Any and all comments are, as always, welcome and appreciated. Thank you for the privilege of your time. Until my next post, I wish each one of you all the best and pray that the Lord will bless you all in everything you do.

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

A Comment About General Conferences That Coincided With Easter Sunday

Hello again, everyone! As some of you may be aware, Easter Sunday (at least here in the US) falls sometime between mid-March and late April every year. At times, however, we have seen General Conference Sundays coincide with Easter Sunday of that year. According to my research, the last time that occurred was in April 2015, and I am pleased to report that the first General Conference held during President Nelson's presidency will be another such example.

This will make the April 2018 General Conference all that more significant. I haven't been able to search back too far, but it would appear (again from my research, which may be flawed or inaccurate) that the April 2018 General Conference will be the first time in a very long time (if it has happened before at any other point in Church  history) where this one General Conference will mark the Solemn Assembly for a new Church president and the calling of two new members of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles the day before the world observes Easter Sunday.

I find that significant, amazing, and humbling. Unless he opts to speak after the Solemn Assembly, the first opportunity President Nelson will have to address the general Church membership in General Conference will be Easter Sunday, and, unless he feels inspired to do otherwise, the Easter Sunday Session of General Conference will be filled with talks from six special witnesses of Jesus Christ, two of whom will be speaking to the Church for the first time as such. That is amazing to think about.

I apologize if I have bored or troubled any of you unnecessarily with this trivia, but thought it was worth noting. That does it for this post. Any and all comments are, as always, welcome and appreciated. Thank you for the privilege of your time. Until my next post, I wish each one of you all the best and pray that the Lord will bless you all in everything you do.

Some Thoughts on Valentine's Day and My Own Special Valentine

Hello again, everyone! I am back as promised on this Valentine's Day to share some thoughts, and especially a tribute to my own special valentine. It has been somewhat of a tradition on this blog that every Valentine's Day, I post a copy of the poem I penned in High School, entitled "Will You Be My Valentine", and add to that a brief tribute to my wife. This year will be somewhat different. Having noted in my last post the beautiful tribute Elder Holland published to his wife on social media, that seems to be a better context for what I would like to say in tribute to my wife, Amy.

As many long-time readers of this blog know, I first met my wife in early 2009 when I was serving as a temple worker. The moment I first heard her voice, I had the distinct impression she would be my wife one day. Perhaps unwisely, I shrugged off that feeling (as we were not able to exchange much personal dialogue at the time, and since I had never previously met her and had no idea who she was), and I promptly forgot about that impression.

By contrast, I later learned that our brief exchange, though no personal dialogue was involved, had left a favorable impression of me on her. And in retrospect, it was just as well that her neither of us sought out the other until later, since her focus at that time needed to be on her mother, for whom she had been the primary caregiver for the previous 15-20 years or so, and who passed away in Janury 2010.

In due course, Amy became a temple worker herself. And when her school schedule prevented her from maintaining her assigned shift (on Tuesday evening), and her only option was to move to the Friday evening shift (on which I had been for about 3 years at the time).

She instantly recognized and remembered me, although my memory of our previous encounter was not restored in full until several years after that. Because I have always been a people person, she was one of the many temple workers I talked with on a regular basis during times that were less busy at the temple.

We continued to chat, forming a strong friendship, and although I didn't know it at the time, we both wondered whether or not we were mutually attracted to each other. In point of fact, she had (again without my realizing it) just been waiting for me to ask her out.

But in view of a wide variety of factors (which in retrospect were far more minor than they seemed to be at the time), I had convinced myself that she wouldn't be interested in going out with me. But I had decided that if the Lord opened a way for that door to be open, I would walk through it.

And so it was that during a time when the temple was closed for cleaning, I got a letter from her indicating her interest in me and her willingness to work around whatever my situation was to enable us to spend time getting to know each other better. Although an unexplained error resulted in my first acceptance of that offer not reaching her, once I learned that response had not gone through. I sent it again.

Having ascertained our mutual interest, we went on 14 dates in the next 3 weeks, agreeing after the first week that the question of marriage would be when and how rather than if, as long as the Lord approved of that course.

On July 4, 2010, we fasted together and thereby determined that we should go ahead and get engaged. In the 5.5 months that followed, we saw much in terms of both blessings from the Lord and challenges in the process of preparing for our marriage. Because we knew the Lord had brought us together, we trusted His promises, and that trust proved justified, as we were able to be married on December 18.

In the 7 (going on 8) years since that time, although trials have continued (and at times have been quite severe), we have been reminded over and over again that, in terms of the many reasons the Lord brought us together, perhaps the most fitting were that we are so much on the same wavelength that we not only complement each other in the best ways, but more than that, each of us has been able to help the other with times when struggles have been particularly challenging.

I could not ask for a better, more wonderful, or more loving eternal companion. Particularly in light of the many additional difficulties with which we continue to grapple (not the least of which are those factors relating to how my health limits my ability at times to do as much as I would like to), my wife has shown me great patience, understanding, sympathy, empathy, and so much more.

She sees me not as I am now, but as I may become And that takes a very special and unique kind of woman. Because of that, and because of all she constantly and consistently does to keep us going, I owe her a greater debt than I can every repay.

And so, on this Valentine's Day, I am infinitely grateful to the Lord for placing her in my path 8 or 9 years ago. She is my best friend, my confidante, someone who can help me look at situations in different ways than I have previously done, and someone who never fails to keep encouraging me to become better than I am, and someone with whom I am always in good company.

We were best friends before we ever started dating, and that has helped us realize just how good we are for each other. I find it no accident that the Lord put us in each other's paths. I am so grateful that I heeded the spiritual prompting to continue my temple service beyond the original length that service was supposed to be. If that had not been the case, we would never have met.

And so I could go on. My point in mentioning all of this is to demonstrate that the Lord is at work in and very much aware of the details of our lives. That was true for me, and I know it is true for all who have lived, are living, or will ever live on this earth.

That does it for this post. Thank you for the privilege of your time. If any of you have comments or questions about what I have said herein, let me know in the comments below, and I will be happy to address those Until my next post, I wish each one of you all the best and pray that the Lord will bless you all in everything you do.

Additional Church News Reported

Hello again, everyone! It was my intention to do a post earlier today in honor of Valentine's Day (and in tribute to my wife), but had to postpone that until now while I attempted to deal with ongoing health issues. In the interim, I became aware of some Church news updates that were well worth passing along. So this post will cover those items, and the next will be the one I intended to do earlier today. With that said, let's talk about the news updates from the Church.

First, although it has not been reported in official Church news resources (which rarely, if ever, devote time to such things), the First Presidency has observed one full month of service together as of today. A lot has occurred within that time, and it is obvious that they have hit the ground running. If the last month is any indication whatsoever, then the remainder of 2018 will be full of many Church and temple developments and updates. And you can catch many (if not all) of those developments here on this blog.

Second, in connection with this Valentine's Day, the Church News ran this article highlighting a sweet Valentine's Day tribute which was published on social media by Elder Jeffrey R. Holland honoring his wife. His tribute makes it clear how successful marriages are established and maintained. Next, in this article, dates and featured speakers were announced for BYU's annual Church History Symposium.

And as reported here, BYU hosted a forum today featuring the former US Chief Data Scientist, who spoke on the importance of gathering and sharing information and data. We do live in a remarkable time when data can be gathered, assimilated, analyzed, adapted, and shared on a scale and to a degree that we have not seen before in the world's history, and I hope the things I share on this blog agree with the principles taught in this address.

The Church News also reported on the three LDS athletes competing at the Olympics who are hopeful that they will earn medals. It is good to see that the Church continues to have a presence in the Olympics.

And we conclude this news update by mentioning that, from the Church's Pacific Area, we have this report covering the devastation and relief efforts in American Samoa and Samoa, and this one covering the same procedures which are underway in Tonga.

That does it for this post. Any and all comments are, as always, welcome and appreciated. Thank you for the privilege of your time. Until my next post, I wish each one of you all the best and pray that the Lord will bless you all in everything you do.

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

1100th Blog Post: Temple Updates

Hello again, everyone! This will be my 1100th post on this blog, and I could not think of a better subject for this milestone than temple updates. I have found updated status reports for the Concepcion Chile Temple and also for the renovation process for the Raleigh North Carolina Temple. I have said before and will continue to say again that it is amazing to see how quickly things can change, even on a day-to-day basis, in terms of temple progress.

Before I get to those updates, I wanted to first pass along updates on where the Church stands in its' progress towards 200 operating temples. As I mentioned previously, the Church may be able to dedicate as many as four new temples during this year. Whether or not all of those four are dedicated, I have previously shared my thoughts that the Church could (and likely will) have 200 operating temples by or before its' bicentennial anniversary (which, as noted previously, will occur on Saturday April 6, 2030).

As of today, there are 12.14 years left before that date. So the Church would merely need to announce 18 new temples and complete the other 23 in various phases within that time. That means that with a total of 41 temples to be dedicated between now and the Church's bicentennial, as long as the Church completes roughly 3.38 temples per year, it could be done.

And since we have Elder Wilson's statement made in late April of last year that 80 potential locations are under active consideration for an official announcement within the 15 years that followed that statement, whether or not all of those locations make it to an official announcement within that time, it not only seems reasonable but also highly probable that 18 of those will surely be announced and that they, along with those 23 others, could easily be completed within that time.

With all of that noted, let's now turn our attention to the updates I referenced at the beginning of this post. First, for the Concepcion Chile Temple, reports show that landscaping is progressing, art glass is being installed, and the interior work on the temple is entering its' final stages.

Based on that progress, it seems entirely likely that the more-specific estimate I ventured for this temple's dedication (Sunday August 12 or 19) may be justified. I will post with further updates on those estimates or future announcements of such temple events as I become aware of them.

In the meantime, we now turn to the other item I mentioned at the beginning of this post, the progress made on the renovation process for the Raleigh North Carolina Temple. The latest updates I have been able to locate show that the interior has been fully dismantled, and that the removal of marble cladding around the temple's exterior is well underway.

I am grateful to have been able to pass these updates along to you all. I continue to keep my eyes open for further updates in such progress, and I will keep you all informed of the latest developments as I can.

That does it for this post. Any and all comments are, as always, welcome and appreciated. Thank you for the privilege of your time. Until my next post, I wish each one of you all the best and pray that the Lord will bless you all in everything you do.