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Friday, June 26, 2015

Supreme Court votes to legalize same-sex marriage nationwide

As most of you are aware by now, the United States Supreme Court voted today to legalize same-sex marriage nationwide. I cannot articulate adequately how disappointed I am by this decision. The LDS Church, however, remains firm in its doctrine that marriage between a man and a woman is the only valid option in the eyes of the Lord. I am grateful to belong to a church whose doctrine and standards remain constant. Man may change what is legal, but the doctrine of the Lord's church will remain unchanged. We believe and teach that marriage between a man and a woman is the only valid option that is sanctioned by the Lord. And it will be so throughout our lives and all eternity. No man nor set of men has the power to change the doctrine that the Lord has decreed. And so, in spite of the disappointment which we feel about this situation, we will move forward. I think I've said enough about this issue. Until I post again, all the best!

July 2015 Ensign Insert on Elder L. Tom Perry/My sister is pregnant!/General Update

I wanted to post for three reasons. First of all, I discovered that the July Ensign will come with a special insert that pays tribute to Elder L. Tom Perry. It was amazing to read about his life and accomplishments. I always loved Elder Perry and his exemplary service as an apostle, but there were things in the insert that I hadn't known before. I think it's sad in some ways that we only hear about the apostle's personal lives and accomplishments when they are called, when they die, or if they mention any of their life experiences in general conference. That's why I have tried to learn everything I can about these men I sustain as prophets, seers, and revelators. Every new thing I learn about these brethren that speak for the Lord gives me greater respect for and an increased desire to learn more about their lives and teachings. That insert is well put together, and I encourage an in-depth study of it when it comes to your residences.

The second thing I wanted to mention (now that I can) is that my older sister Joanna is pregnant with twins, which are due in December. Grant is very happy about getting some siblings. He has already named the babies "R2-D2" and "C-3PO", It's still too early to tell the genders of the babies, but they seem to be growing properly. I've known about this for almost two months, but was asked by Joanna and her family to keep it quiet until they officially made the announcement. That took place earlier this week, and I have Joanna's go ahead to tell people about it. She will likely have the babies on the island, unless the birth becomes complicated, in which case she will come back to Utah for the delivery. But Lyle might not be able to come with her back to the States depending on his school schedule. So they are hoping and praying that Joanna can deliver the babies on the island. Lyle missed Grant's birth due to being deployed in Iraq, and no one wants him to not be there for the birth of the twins. We join in their prayers, even though it will mean that their families on both sides won't be able to be close to the Lyle Hickmans when the babies are born. Both sets of grandparents are planning on visiting the Hickman family once the babies are here. I honestly don't know when I will get my first chance to see and hold the new additions to the family. It makes me a little sad to think that I may not meet the new babies until they are toddlers. I'm sure something will work out. Maybe my book will sell so well I'll be able to afford regular trips to see the St. Kitts Hickmans frequently. Time will tell.

I wanted to conclude this post with a brief general update on our lives. We missed Church on Sunday because we were sick. Due to not feeling well, I have continued to miss work at least once or twice a week. The only day I was able to make it to work this week was Monday. On Tuesday, I woke up with stomach cramps, a fever, and extreme fatigue. Those symptoms went away by the time I woke up today. However, yesterday and during the first part of the day, I started to ache all over. The aching got worse as time progressed. So tonight, Amy took me to the urgent care clinic. The NP (nurse practitioner) examined me and determined that I may have contracted some form of the flu. From the symptoms I told her I'd had that had gone away and the symptoms that remained, she said it sounded like I'd had the flu and that it should be on the way out. I explained that I had missed every day of work this week except Monday, and wondered if she could give me a doctor's note excusing me from work for the days I missed. She did so, not only covering me for Tuesday-Thursday but also tomorrow (Friday) as well, on the offchance I still need to stay home tomorrow. She also said just in case it was something else, she'd order some blood work as a rush job for which she would have the results later on this evening. I should have had the presence of mind to tell her that if I didn't answer my phone, she could leave the results in a message, but I didn't. As the clinic's lab was closed, she sent me to AF Hospital to get the blood work done. I was in and out in short order. About an hour later, I was sitting at home with Amy when my phone rang. I couldn't reach it in time. Since I hadn't told her to leave the results in a message, she only said in the message that she had some results she wanted to discuss with me. So I will have to call her tomorrow to get those results. In the meantime, there has still been no word on the blood work Amy had done a week or so ago. Fortunately, the RN who ordered the blood work for Amy will also be on duty tomorrow, so we can hopefully get both results tomorrow.

We have been blessed financially in spite of a very low check received two weeks ago. I just hope we will have enough to get by with what we will receive as the next two paychecks. I also hope that I can recover from everything soon so I can go back to work where I belong. While being at home with Amy is always wonderful, we would both prefer that I be at work earning a living for us. We have faithfully paid our tithing, so I guess all we can do is keep praying for miracles and hoping for the blessings we desire.

On the good news front, my nausea has decreased substantially recently to the point where I am only taking one set instead of three of my nightly anti-nausea medications. I also have been able to reduce the number of Nauzene I am taking. My headaches overall seem to be better on this new schedule. If my headaches continue to improve, perhaps we can talk to Dr. Weinstein (my neurologist) about cutting back on some of the headache medication I am taking. I haven't been able to get to that point yet, but hope springs eternal.

Our situation is still at times discouraging, but, as I wrote in the Ensign article, I know there is a purpose for every trial we face and that some of the greatest blessings that will come into our lives will do so as a result of our faithfulness in "thanking [the Lord] in all things" and by doing our best to keep being optimistic, even in the most trying circumstances. I testify that I know the Lord is keenly aware of each of us. He pleads our cause before His Father. We have no greater Confidante or Friend than Jesus Christ. No matter what we go through, He stands ready to strength and help us, even to the point of removing the burdens from our backs.

I know our Savior has truly borne all our trials, and that through Him, we can make it through anything that comes our way. I know that "sorrow may endure for the night, but joy cometh in the morning." Anything I have to bear that will help me become closer to Christ is infinitely worth it. All these things will give me experience, and will be for my good. I testify that I know our Savior, Jesus Christ, is our advocate (defense attorney) with our Father. I have no better friend than Him.

I love Him with all my heart, and my greatest desire is that I might spend the rest of my life in His service, testifying of Him, and emulating His perfect example. If my example and testimony can help make a difference in the life of but one soul, it will be a success. That each of us may so influence any and all who traverse our path is my prayer, in the sacred name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

Monday, June 22, 2015

Trujillo Peru Temple dedicated/Happy Father's Day!

The Trujillo Peru temple was dedicated yesterday (Sunday) by President Dieter F. Uchtdorf.  He was accompanied by his wife and Elder David A. Bednar and his wife, as well as Elder Michael John U. Teh, who apparently is now serving in some capacity with the Temple Department, and Elders Juan A. Uceda, W. Christopher Waddell and Carlos A. Godoy, who serve as the South America Northwest Area Presidency. It was a very wonderful occasion for all in attendance. This brings the number of temples in operation to 147, with 12 under construction (2 of which will be dedicated by the end of this year, and a third scheduled for dedication next year), 5 being renovated (2 of which will be rededicated this year and one more scheduled to be rededicated next year, with 1 additional temple that will be closed for renovation later this year), 2 others scheduled for groundbreaking, and the remaining 12 with groundbreaking dates yet to be announced (of which all but 4 have sites announced). As I have excitedly mentioned before, this is a season where much is going on with temple construction, and I couldn't be more pleased that I can keep tabs on these important events and relay them to my readers.

Though Father's Day is officially over, I wanted to express my love to all the fathers out there, and especially those mentioned in this post. As I have before mentioned, the older I get, the more I realize that my father is not perfect. But in the same breath, I freely admit that I could not have asked for a better father. My dad has kept himself worthy as a priesthood bearer his whole life, giving me a legacy to follow. He has supported me in all I have done, even when he may initially have had doubts or misgivings about whether I was on the right path. He was my foremost example of how to treat women and honor and use the priesthood worthily. I vividly remember my first experiences as a newly ordained elder in the Melchizedek Priesthood. My dad had asked that I assist him in giving one of the people he home taught a blessing. My dad could have asked any man in the ward to do that, but he selected me. And he praised me afterward for how well I did in anointing the person.

My very next experience was my first time being voice for a blessing. My younger sister Elizabeth was sick, and had asked Dad for a blessing. My dad looked to me to assist him. He asked my sister who she wanted as voice for the blessing, and she mutely shrugged her shoulders. My dad indicated that he wanted me to be the voice. I searched for the guidance of the Spirit as I pronounced words of comfort, counsel, and healing. My sister went to sleep shortly after the close of the blessing. Not being sure how well I had done, I asked my dad what he thought about what I had said. He taught me a lesson that still rings in my ears as if it had been spoken anew today. He simply said, "James, you're a priesthood holder. As long as you speak the words the Spirit guides you to say, you don't need me or anyone else to ratify them." I have never forgotten that lesson. Thanks to my father, now I never second-guess myself while administering to people.

There have been many other father figures in my life. Next to my own dad, the one who has had the greatest impact on me has been my father-in-law. Amy didn't have many memories of her dad giving her blessings, but I have watched him also be a worthy priesthood bearer. It is partly due to his influence that my wife is the amazing person that she is. And I will be forever grateful that Amy's parents listened to the Spirit when it urged them to have just one more child.

There have been men I have home taught with and been a home teacher of and who have home taught me. All of them have blessed me with a respect for the priesthood and instilled in me the desire to use it worthily to bless the lives of others. There have been the many fathers of the various wards I've lived in who have been wonderful mentors to me. There have been lots of outstanding Scout leaders over the years who encouraged me to earn my Eagle. There have been the many fathers I have observed in the Elder's Quorums I have been to. There have been so many good men I worked with in the temple and with Welfare Services. There have been uncles and cousins and nephews and grandparents and fatherly figures in other ways that have kept me on the strait and narrow path. Most especially, I acknowledge and give thanks for and to my Heavenly Father, who loved me enough to send His Son to atone for my sins, carry my sorrows, and bear any and all burdens and trials I would face in this life. I have no better example of fatherhood and brotherhood than my Heavenly Father and His Son, Jesus Christ.

I gratefully and humbly acknowledge all the fathers in my life who have made such a difference in my life. If I can be even half the man, husband, and father that they have been, I will count myself very lucky. I hope all my readers who are fathers had a very pleasant Father's Day and that you all know how much your influence has shaped my life and how lost I would be without so many wonderful father figures in my life. And so I give thanks for and say thanks to them all as I express my love and best wishes for them. Please keep being the amazing examples that you are. I am better for having known each of you, and if I am any good as a husband or father, it is because of you all. Happy Father's Day!

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Ensign Article Published/Trujillo Peru Temple to be dedicated tomorrow.

I want to touch on two things in this very brief blog post. First of all, the article I submitted to the New Era that was subsequently transferred to the Ensign has been published in the July 2015 Ensign. As I predicted, it appeared in the Young Adult Section. It is wonderful to see my name in print. For any who did not see my wife's announcement about that on Facebook, here's the link to the article:
Christ Has Felt My Pain. I am so excited to have my name in print for the first time, and hope that this will generate support for and interest in my book that I am working on a lot more consistently now. I will keep you updated on book milestones as they happen. Stay tuned for more on that.

The second thing I wanted to mention is that the Trujillo Peru temple will be dedicated tomorrow. The cultural celebration will be held tonight. So the question is, who has been sent to dedicate that temple? President Thomas S. Monson may still be dealing with health issues. President Henry B. Eyring has only dedicated two temples, so, in my mind, he's the most likely candidate. President Dieter F. Uchtdorf has been sent many times to dedicate temples, but he's a possibility as well.

Another question is who might accompany the presiding authority. None of the now 11 members of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles has ties to Peru that I know of. It is most likely that the South America Northwest Area Presidency (Elders Juan A. Uceda, W. Christopher Waddell, and Carlos A. Godoy) will be there. Who else might be there is anyone's guess.

I will try and post tomorrow with a report on the dedication and a Father's Day tribute. Until that time, all the best!

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Massive Update on our personal lives (finally!)

Hello, friends! Here I am with the long-promised update. Since it has been about three months since my last general update, I hope you'll bear with me. This will not be a chronological post, but rather a snippet here and a snippet there.

First, on the work front, I have big news to announce. Some of you may know that I have twice switched shifts on the job. The first time was because of the shift bids. By the time they got to me, the only shift available that would work for me was 11:00 am-7:30 pm. So I worked on that shift for a number of weeks. You may recall me mentioning that I had problems with sleeping on the job. Well, one day, I was hauled in for two meetings with Trent, my former team leader who has been promoted to be a supervisor under our top man on the project. He told me during those meetings that I had twice been caught sleeping on the job. During the first meeting, I was written up for it. During the second meeting, Trent was very frank and direct. He explained that since I had once again been caught sleeping on the job, Young Living wanted me fired, even though I have been getting mostly great reviews from the members I interacted with. Trent told me he had been able to intervene in my behalf and had offered Young Living a compromise: If I would agree to start working on the late shift the next day (Friday; the shift goes from 12:30 pm-9 pm or whenever the phone lines close for the day), Young Living would give me a one-week trial period. If I had no problems during that time, I would be allowed to keep the job. If I fell asleep again or would not agree to this shift change, my employment would be terminated.

They had me over a barrel. Since I wanted to keep my job so we could maintain eligibility for a loan to buy a house, I had to agree to switch. So I am now working the evening shift. It's turned out to be a good thing. Due to health problems, I have had to miss work on several occasions, even taking many unscheduled days (like today) off because I didn't feel well. Where on other shifts, all my absences would ordinarily result in write-ups and perhaps employment termination, I have found, much to my delight, that the afternoon shift supervisors are a lot more easygoing and would only have me written up if I have unexcused absences. They are also much more easygoing about what we can do during our downtime at work. Where the day shift has to stick to the rule of no non-work related internet, my supervisors on the late shift don't mind if we visit favorite sites during our downtime, as long as we are not checking our e-mail or using Facebook. That's why I've been able to post so much Church-related news after work that I find out about during work. And with the late shift, I can get most of my medical appointments (including physical therapy) taken care of before work, rather than having to take time off during work for them.

Additionally, my work has given us 16 hours of approved time off for each month. Any time not used during a month rolls over to the next month. Also, I haven't had one single incident of sleeping on the job since changing shifts. Trent stopped by my desk the other day to tell me that my trial period had ended and that I had proven to Young Living that I was worth keeping, that there had been no complaints about my conduct since switching shifts. This was great news. I am out of the woods as far as that is concerned. One thing that does trouble me is my continuing absences due to health difficulties. I am working with my doctors to resolve these problems, but I  still am missing one or two days per week due to my health, and that's not good.

In the interim, I have developed vertigo. I have been seen by many doctors for it. Just yesterday, we went to the Hearing and Balance Clinic in Provo. The doctor there has suggested some things that he hopes will help me. I have met numerous times since my last major update with my neurologist, and she has suggested things that, so far, are helping me feel better. The main problem for me health-wise now is my vertigo. That is what prevented me from going to work today. Thankfully, I have been able to get notes from my doctors that have kept me from getting into any trouble at work for my absences.

Our families are doing well. My older sister, her husband, and their son moved to the small British-owned islands of St. Kitts and Nevis on my sister's birthday, May 4th, so Lyle can go to medical school. He will be on an accelerated program that should only take 1½ to 2 years. We are missing them, but know it is wonderful for Lyle to finally fulfill his life-long dream to become a doctor. I have been able to Skype with them a couple of times, and that has proven to be a great way to keep in touch. Amy's brother that is just older than she is was admitted to the hospital a few days ago with a torn aorta. He is out of the woods now, thankfully, but that still gave us a bit of a scare. My brother Neal's wife Sammi was admitted to the hospital several days ago after she passed out. What's going on with her remains to be seen, but we hope and pray for the best for them.

We continue to look for a house. There have been a couple that we have been interested in, but either they are bought by someone else while we have been trying to get a loan to pay for them, or they are out of our price range. The Lord has told me that He wants us to stay in the American Fork East Stake, where I have been ever since moving to American Fork 16 years ago. I have felt very strongly that I haven't finished the purposes I have come to the East Stake to fulfill. This makes our search for a house difficult, as many of the houses in this stake are over-priced, but I know it's where the Lord wants us to be. So something will work out.

Amy had a doctor's appointment last week because she was feeling ill. We had her thyroid levels checked, and she was also tested for mono. I hope the doctor is able to find out what is causing her to feel so sick all the time. Our lives are complicated enough without both of us being plagued by health issues.

My headaches are a lot better controlled now that I am on a better medication schedule. I take my first set when I wake up rather than having to get up early in the morning to take my first set, and making allowances so I am covered pain medication wise even when we stay up later.

I will be getting a new home teaching assignment next week that is effective this month. I will lose one of the families I home teach and perhaps pick up one or two new ones. Sundays have been great days for us with visiting family after going to Church, or just relaxing at home.

Saturday was my 10 year (where did the time go?) High School reunion. It was much better attended than the 5 year one. We had a lovely catered dinner (although I did cheat on my celiac disease diet for it) and got a tour of the new parts of the high school from one of the janitors that works there. That was great fun. I found that I had the stamina to deal well with the walking tour of the school. And my strength and energy held out for the whole reunion, which I was grateful for. It was an awesome event, and I am very grateful to all the Senior Class officers of the class of 2005 for making this 10 year reunion such a success. Directly after the reunion, we did some errands. At the Wal-Mart market, we ran into Dallas Smith, one of my teachers from AF Junior High School. We greeted each other enthusiastically, and he asked about my family. It was a good capstone to a great day.

We were able to go to the Payson Utah Temple Open House. I was able to walk all the way through the temple with just my cane, and I was grateful to be there for that. I was VERY excited to find out about the Provo City Center Temple open house and dedication. I am glad the First Presidency is making the temple dedication available to all LDS members in Utah, rather than just restricting it to those who live within that temple district.

I have loved keeping my eye on Church-related news, and I know that for the most part, those posts have been widely read and appreciated by my readers. I am so grateful that the article I wrote for the Ensign will be featured in the July edition. I have also gotten back to writing my first book. I've come a long way with that, and I'm grateful for all the support I have gotten and the interest that has been shown about my first book. I fully anticipate that I will have that book published before the end of the year.

Amy and I will celebrate our 5th wedding anniversary in December, so we've been making tentative plans for that. That has been great fun. How grateful I am that the Lord saw fit to bring Amy into my life. She is everything I ever wanted in a wife, plus infinitely more. The only way our lives could be richer is if we were blessed with children. But I feel confident that will come when the time is right. For the moment, we treasure any and all time we can spend together.

That, in a nutshell, has been our lives for the past three months. It's been wonderful to be alive, and I have every confidence that life will continue to be fantastic. There is so much to be grateful for in this life! I would like to end this post by thanking all of you who follow this blog and have expressed interest in and support for all that is going on in our lives. This blog would be nothing without my readers. You all give me a desire and reason to write. If I become any success as a writer, it will be because of the wonderful people like you all. Thanks again. Until I write again, all the best!

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Concepcion Chile Temple Groundbreaking Date Announced/Progress Report on First Book/Reminder about Ensign article

I know most of you will probably be let down by the fact that I haven't posted that general update yet. I meant to do it this weekend, but other things got in the way. I had to post today to share some more exciting LDS Church Temple News. As reported by ldschurchtemples.com, the Church has scheduled the groundbreaking ceremony for the Concepcion Chile Temple to take place on Saturday October 17. This will be the third temple groundbreaking in 2015. I anticipate at least one or more temples will have their groundbreaking announced before the end of the year, whether they take place late this year or early next year. Construction on the temple is anticipated to take 2-2½ years, which means it will be completed either late in 2017 or early in 2018. How thrilling it is to see all these temple-related developments! I will keep my ears open for temple news and will share it with you as time and circumstances allow.

Here's a updated list of temple developments. I have included all updated dedication and construction news that I am aware of.

Temples Undergoing Renovation:
26. Mexico City Mexico Temple: Scheduled to be rededicated Sunday September 13, 2015.
86. Montreal Quebec Temple: Scheduled to be rededicated Sunday November 22, 2015.
91. Suva Fiji Temple:Scheduled to be rededicated Sunday February 21, 2016.
33. Freiberg Germany Temple: Anticipated to be completed in mid-2016.
8. Idaho Falls Idaho Temple: Anticipated to be completed in late 2016.
41. Frankfurt Germany Temple: Scheduled for renovation beginning September 7, 2015.

Under Construction:
147. Trujillo Peru Temple: Scheduled to be dedicated Sunday June 21, 2015.
148. Indianapolis Indiana Temple: Scheduled to be dedicated Sunday August 23, 2015.
149. Tijuana Mexico Temple: Scheduled to be dedicated Sunday December 13, 2015.
150. Provo City Center Temple: Scheduled to be dedicated Sunday March 20, 2016.
151. Rome Italy Temple: Projected to be completed in mid-2016.
155. Hartford Connecticut Temple: Projected to be completed in mid-2016.
156. Fort Collins Colorado Temple: Projected to be completed in mid-2016.
152. Philadelphia Pennsylvania Temple: Projected to be completed in mid-to-late 2016.
153. Sapporo Japan Temple: Projected to be completed in late 2016.
157. Paris France Temple: Projected to be completed in late 2016.
158. Meridian Idaho Temple:Projected to be completed in mid-2017.
159. Star Valley Wyoming Temple: Projected to be completed in mid-2017.
154. Fortaleza Brazil Temple: Projected to be completed in 2018.

Announced:
160. Cedar City Utah Temple: Local government approval phase; site plan presented at January 2015 meeting; groundbreaking scheduled for Saturday August 8, 2015.
161. Concepcion Chile Temple: Approval phase; temple and site design plans complete; groundbreaking scheduled for Saturday October 17, 2015.
168. Tucson Arizona Temple: Construction approval phase; general contractor selected; groundbreaking pending.
165. Barranquilla Colombia Temple: Planning and approval phase; temple and site designs complete; groundbreaking pending.
162. Lisbon Portugal Temple: Planning and approval phase; land purchase finalized; groundbreaking pending.
169. Arequipa Peru Temple: Planning and approval phase; final piece of land for temple site acquired; groundbreaking pending.
164. Winnipeg Manitoba Temple: Planning and approval phase; groundbreaking pending.
167. Kinshasa Democratic Republic of the Congo Temple: Planning and approval phase; groundbreaking pending.
170. Rio de Janeiro Brazil Temple: Planning and approval phase; groundbreaking pending.
163. Urdaneta Philippines Temple: Planning and approval phase; groundbreaking pending.
166. Durban South Africa Temple: Planning and approval phase; awaiting official site announcement.
171. Abidjan Ivory Coast Temple: Planning phase; awaiting official site announcement.
172. Port-au-Prince Haiti Temple: Planning phase; awaiting official site announcement.
173. Bangkok Thailand Temple: Planning phase; awaiting official site announcement.

I will also announce an exciting new development in my personal life outside of the personal update: I have resumed work in earnest on my book. I have been adding scenes to previously written chapters, and doing a touch up here and and a touch up there, Once that's done, I will write scenes for the final part of the book. No word yet on when it will be ready to publish. It all depends on how swiftly I can finish it and how quickly Brandon Sanderson reviews it. Then before I submit it to a publishing company, I plan on enlisting the services of my mother to proofread it. I have tried to be conscientious about grammar and punctuation errors, but it will help to have Brandon and my mom review it for content needing to be changed and grammatical errors, since they aren't nearly as emotionally tied to the project as I am.

I also remind my readers of something else: my first published work will be an Ensign article that is scheduled to appear in the July 2015 edition, unless it gets bumped for something more important, like Elder Perry's funeral proceedings (which may be included in an insert rather than the magazine proper) or something else similar. It will appear in the Young Adult section. Be on the lookout for that. It will be good to get my name more widely known before publishing my first book.

As always, I will keep you updated on temple, writing, or publishing news. And I promise, I will very soon do the massive personal update I've been promising. You can count on that.

Friday, June 12, 2015

Two Major Addresses given recently by General Authorities/Sunday School General Presidency Reorganized

I am posting today for two good reasons. The first is to give a brief report on two major addresses given to two major governmental organizations, and the second is to report on (Friday) today's reorganization of the Sunday School General Presidency.

Elder Jeffrey R. Holland, during a Europe tour, addressed an All-Party Parliamentary Group in the United Kingdom's House of Lords on June 10 on the subject of how the Church's humanitarian aid can help in the midst of religious conflict. For a report on his address, please see this article. Yesterday,Elder Jörg Klebingat encouraged dialogue and deeper understanding among global faiths in an address to the Fifth Congress of Traditional and World Religions, which convened in Astana, Kazakhstan, on Thursday, June 11, 2015. For a report on his address, please see this article.

Mormon Newsroom reported today (Friday) that the Sunday School Presidency had been reorganized. Tad R. Callister remains Sunday School General President. His former second counselor, George D. Durrant, is now the first counselor, replacing John S. Tanner, who will start his new assignment as the new President of BYU–Hawaii on July 27. This made necessary the calling of a new Second Counselor. Brian K. Ashton will assume that assignment immediately following his return from being president of the Texas Houston South Mission. He becomes the youngest currently serving auxiliary leader in the Church. I knew that a reorganization of the Sunday School General Presidency would follow the announcement of soon-to-be President Tanner's new assignment. But I didn't expect it to happen this fast. It makes me wonder if perhaps a new apostle might be called soon. But I really don't anticipate that happening until the week before General Conference. Anyhow, I got off topic. This was exciting news to me, and I am happy to share it with my readers.

Barring any unexpected post to report on Church News, I fully anticipate that the next post will contain my long-promised massive life update. The longer time goes by, the more things happen that I need to report to you who read this blog. And the more things happen, the more daunting the update becomes. So I bump it in favor of the latest Church News. But I promise, it is coming soon. You have my word on that. Thanks, as always, for reading my posts.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Big Temple News

I know I said the next post would likely be the general update I've been promising for 3 months now, but some temple news crossed my radar that I just had to share. First, the Frankfurt Germany Temple will undergo a renovation starting on September 7. Additionally, the First Presidency announced the open house and rededication dates for the Suva Fiji Temple. The temple open house will only span a 12-day period from Monday January 30-Saturday February 6, 2015, excluding Sunday January 31. A cultural celebration will be held on Saturday February 20, and the temple will be dedicated the next day. Dedicatory services will only be broadcast within the temple district, which spans the small island nations of Fiji, Kiribati, Vanuatu, and New Caledonia. I wasn't aware of this, but apparently those islands and the others immediately within that area comprise the region of what is called Melanesia. Who knew, right? Anyways, that's the newest exciting temple-related developments. I will post more about temples when news is available to me, and, in the meantime, my next post should be this weekend and contain the long-promised and hopefully long-awaited update on my life, unless any Church news catches my attention tomorrow. Thanks for your readership. I hope you all are still enjoying my posts. "Happiness to you in your life ahead!"

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Payson Utah Temple Dedicated/Provo City Center Temple Dedication Dates Announced

The Payson Utah Temple was dedicated on Sunday. Just as I'd thought and predicted, President Henry B. Eyring presided at the dedication. He read the prayer for the first two sessions, and invited Elder Neil L. Andersen to read it for the final session. Additionally, the sessions were attended by Elder Russell M. Nelson, Elder Dallin H. Oaks, and Elder Quentin L. Cook, all of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles; Elders Ronald A. Rasband, Donald L. Hallstrom and Ulisses Soares of the Presidency of the Seventy; Elder Kent F. Richards of the Second Quorum of the Seventy and Temple Department Executive Director; and Bishop Gérald Caussé. The new Payson Temple Presidency and matrons also spoke. I have not yet ascertained who exactly did what in each session, but I will post such a list if and when it becomes available.

Additionally, the Church announced today the open house and dedication dates for the Provo City Center Temple. The temple will be open to the public Friday January 15-March 5, 2016. A cultural celebration will take place on Saturday March 19, 2016. The dedication will take place in three sessions (10 am, 1 pm, and 4 pm) on Sunday March 20, 2016. Due to the ties many in Utah have to what was once the Provo Tabernacle, the dedication will be broadcast in all stake centers in Utah. I am excited by this news. As can well be expected, this dedication bumps other temples who had, prior to the Provo City Center Temple groundbreaking, had their ground broken. In light of this most exciting news, I thought I would post my list of temple progress again. Numbering and approximate dates for events come from ldschurchtemples.com. Here's the list:



Temples Undergoing Renovation:
26. Mexico City Mexico Temple: Scheduled to be rededicated Sunday September 13, 2015.
86. Montreal Quebec Temple: Scheduled to be rededicated Sunday November 22, 2015.
91. Suva Fiji Temple: Anticipated to be completed in early 2016.
33. Freiberg Germany Temple: Anticipated to be completed in mid-2016.
8. Idaho Falls Idaho Temple: Anticipated to be completed in late 2016.

Under Construction:
146. Payson Utah Temple: Scheduled to be dedicated Sunday June 7, 2015.
147. Trujillo Peru Temple: Scheduled to be dedicated Sunday June 21, 2015.
148. Indianapolis Indiana Temple: Scheduled to be dedicated Sunday August 23, 2015.
149. Tijuana Mexico Temple: Scheduled to be dedicated Sunday December 13, 2015.
150. Provo City Center Temple: Scheduled to be dedicated Sunday March 20, 2016.
151. Rome Italy Temple: Projected to be completed in mid-2016.
155. Hartford Connecticut Temple: Projected to be completed in mid-2016.
156. Fort Collins Colorado Temple: Projected to be completed in mid-2016.
152. Philadelphia Pennsylvania Temple: Projected to be completed in mid-to-late 2016.
153. Sapporo Japan Temple: Projected to be completed in late 2016.
157. Paris France Temple: Projected to be completed in late 2016.
158. Meridian Idaho Temple: Projected to be completed in mid-2017.
159. Star Valley Wyoming Temple: Projected to be completed in mid-2017.
154. Fortaleza Brazil Temple: Projected to be completed in 2018.

Announced:
160. Cedar City Utah Temple: Local government approval phase; site plan presented at January 2015 meeting; groundbreaking scheduled for Saturday August 8, 2015.
168. Tucson Arizona Temple: Construction approval phase; general contractor selected; groundbreaking pending.
161. Concepcion Chile Temple: Approval phase; temple and site design plans complete; groundbreaking pending.
165. Barranquilla Colombia Temple: Planning and approval phase; temple and site designs complete; groundbreaking pending.
162. Lisbon Portugal Temple: Planning and approval phase; land purchase finalized; groundbreaking pending.
169. Arequipa Peru Temple: Planning and approval phase; final piece of land for temple site acquired; groundbreaking pending.
164. Winnipeg Manitoba Temple: Planning and approval phase; groundbreaking pending.
167. Kinshasa Democratic Republic of the Congo Temple: Planning and approval phase; groundbreaking pending.
170. Rio de Janeiro Brazil Temple: Planning and approval phase; groundbreaking pending.
163. Urdaneta Philippines Temple: Planning and approval phase; groundbreaking pending.
166. Durban South Africa Temple: Planning and approval phase; awaiting official site announcement.
171. Abidjan Ivory Coast Temple: Planning phase; awaiting official site announcement.
172. Port-au-Prince Haiti Temple: Planning phase; awaiting official site announcement.
173. Bangkok Thailand Temple: Planning phase; awaiting official site announcement.

Any feedback is welcome. I will keep my eye on temple-related developments, and you can be sure to find the information here. Massive update still pending.

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Report on Elder Perry's funeral/Who will be the next apostle?/Payson Utah Temple Cultural Celebration

Elder Perry's funeral was Friday. President Henry B. Eyring conducted, the invocation was offered by Elder Russell M. Nelson, and the benediction was offered by Elder Jeffrey R. Holland. Elder Perry's only son, Lee T. Perry, gave a beautiful tribute to his father. Elders Dallin H. Oaks and M. Russell Ballard both shared different portions of their final tender visit with Elder Perry. President Monson, looking hale and hearty, paid a beautiful tribute to Elder Perry. That should debunk some rumors about his health. Anyways, the Tabernacle Choir sang some of Elder Perry's favorite hymns. It was a beautiful service, with all testifying that they knew Elder Perry still lives and continues to carry on the work of salvation on the other side of the veil, unencumbered by the health conditions that hindered him for the last month or so of his life. I watched most of it when it originally aired (on Friday morning on a sub-channel of KSL (I overslept and missed the first 20 minutes or so)), then watched it in its entirety late last night. I think it went very well.

Now that the funeral is over, speculation can begin in earnest about who the new apostle will be. I offer my thoughts on the matter. As mentioned in a previous post, 6 of our 14 currently serving apostles came from the Presidency of the Seventy. So it is most likely that the apostle could come from that presidency. The most likely candidate? When Elder Ballard was called to be an apostle, he was the 3rd most senior member of the Presidency of the Seventy. When Elder Scott and Elder Christofferson were called to be apostles, (Scott in 1988 and Christofferson in 2008) they were both the 2nd most senior members of the Presidency of the Seventy. When President Dieter F. Uchtdorf and Elder Quentin L. Cook were called as apostles, (Uchtdorf in 2004 and Cook in 2007) they were both at that time the 5th most senior member of the Presidency of the Seventy. And when Elder Neil L. Andersen was called to be an apostle, he was serving as the Senior President of the Seventy. So any one of the currently serving Presidency of the Seventy could be called. If I had to give my top three picks from this body, I would pick Elder Ronald A. Rasband (Senior President), Elder L. Whitney Clayton (2nd most senior member) or Elder Ulisses Soares (who as the 6th most senior member would also be an international apostle).

Two currently serving apostles (President Henry B. Eyring and Elder Jeffrey R. Holland) were serving as members of the First Quorum of the Seventy. So the new apostle might come from there. My top three picks would be Elder Michael John U. Teh (who would be the first Filipino apostle), or either Elder Joseph W. Sitati or Elder Edward Dube (either of whom would make history as the first black apostle of the Church), If I had to pick my top candidate for the First Quorum, it would be Elder Teh. In April 2008, after the First Presidency had been reorganized and there was a vacancy in the quorum) I was praying for the new apostle and felt distinctly that it would be Elder Teh. I didn't pray for Elder Teh by name at that time, and it was just as well because Elder Christofferson was called. But I just can't shake the hope that my gut feeling was right and that Elder Teh will be called as an apostle one day, perhaps even this time.

The new apostle could also come from the Presiding Bishopric. Elder Robert D. Hales was the Church's Presiding Bishop, and, Elder Eyring, prior to his call to the Seventy, served as his counselor. This means it's not out of the question for the new apostle to come from the Presiding Bishopric. The most likely candidate in my mind is Bishop Causse, who would be the first French apostle and also become the youngest apostle.

Of course, the Lord could surprise us by inspiring President Monson to call the new apostle from either the Second Quorum of the Seventy, Area Seventies, the Sunday School or Young Men's general presidencies, or the church at large. Whomever the Lord inspires President Monson to call will have my full support.

I also wanted to remind my readers that the Payson Utah Temple will be dedicated tomorrow. It looks like President Eyring will preside over that dedication, as he was there for the cultural celebration. If that's the case, this will be only the second temple President Eyring has dedicated solo. (The first was the San Salvador El Salvador in 2011, though he has rededicated or been the presiding member of the First Presidency at some sessions of other temples.) Four apostles (Elders Nelson, Oaks, Cook and Andersen) were also there and may participate in the dedicatory services tomorrow. There were three members of the Presidency of the Seventy there (Elder Rasband, Elder Hallstrom, and Elder Soares). Bishop Causse was there as well as Elder Richards, the Temple Department's Executive Director, and Sister McConkie of the Young Women General Presidency, and Sister Esplin of the Primary General Presidency. I hope the Church publishes who participates in which sessions, because that will make me feel a little better about not having the privilege of attending the dedication (which is only open to those living in the Payson Utah Temple District). I will report more on that as information becomes available.

In the meantime. I've "sounded off" enough for one day. I will try to post tomorrow with a report on the Payson Utah Temple Dedication participants and a general update. Until I write again, all the best!

Monday, June 1, 2015

Elder Perry's funeral is Friday

The Church has announced that Elder Perry's funeral will be held this Friday @ 11:00 am. It will be carried live on LDS.org and KBYU's and KSL's subchannels. I imagine we will hear from at least one apostle and perhaps each member of the First Presidency, and either of his two surviving children. I don't know quite what to expect. But one thing I do know. It will be a celebration of life focused on the doctrinal foundation that death is just another step in our progression to eternal life. How grateful I am to know that Elder Perry still lives and that he is now free of health problems and can be about the work on the other side of the veil. Still no word on who might replace him, though I have my own theories on this matter. I have elected not to post any speculation at least until Elder Perry's funeral is over. After that, I make no promises. Still intend to do that much-needed update. Just wanted to post the latest developments.