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Monday, November 28, 2016

Church News Conglomeration

This will be a massive post to highlight Church News which, if not mentioned before, is still very significant for the Church.

On November 25, the Church flipped the switch to turn on the light display on Temple Square. The light and decor is, as always, amazing. Click here for more on that.

The Draper Utah South Mountain Stake was rocked with tragedy recently as a fatal car accident claimed the lives of two of the stake's youth, injuring three others that were also in the vehicle. To honor them, the youth in the stake went to the temple. More details here.

On the morning of Thanksgiving Day, Elder Neil L. Andersen of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles delivered an address to missionaries spending the holiday in the MTC. The details are well worth reading.

To mark the Worldwide Day of Service that will take place on December 1, the First Presidency has encouraged members of the Church to find someone to serve on that day, and to do as much service as possible to commemorate the Christmas season. They said, as they have repeatedly stated before, that the best gift we could give the Savior is to spend His birth month in serving. It is a call that appeals to me personally. I recall many Decembers between 2006 and 2012 when I was serving in the temple and (for two years) with Welfare Services. Our hearts were always humbled by the circumstances of those who came to assist those less fortunate. It is natural that the Christmas season can and should revolve around service. It makes my heart ache to think that I may not be able to serve very well this Christmas season because I honestly don't know what will happen on December 1. If future surgery becomes necessary, I may not be good for much during the holiday season. I only hope I can keep the spirit of the holidays, even if I cannot be out there benefiting my fellow man. To read more about this Christmas initiative, click here.

New Zealanders displaced by the massive earthquake in that nation were benefited by the assistance of the Mormon Helping Hands. Click here to read about the relief efforts.

As a sidenote, I am amazed continually by the number of centenarians there are in the Church, and the number of couples who are marking 70+ years of marriage. The Church highlights such milestones each week. The Church News website is an excellent resource to visit to read of these remarkable milestones.

This is the text of the Hartford Connecticut temple. A recent decision was made that the Church would no longer provide self-pack services. Want details?

The First Presidency's annual Christmas Devotional is coming up on Sunday. As per the tradition, I am anticipating a member of the First Presidency (In their rotation pattern of the last few years, it is President Monson's "turn", but he may elect to ask someone else to speak.), a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles (since they have been including the apostles, we have heard from Elder Bednar (2015), Elder Christofferson (2014) and then-Elder Nelson (2013)), a member of the Presidency of the Seventy (we have heard from Elder Clayton (2015), Elder Maynes (2014), Elder Rasband (2013, three years prior to his apostolic call)) and an auxiliary presidency member (we have heard from Sister Burton (2015), Sister Oscarson (2014)), and Sister Wixom (2013)).

With these past speakers, and no set pattern for choosing speakers or establishing the order in which they will speak, it is anyone's guess who will represent the Church. I will be particularly interested to see if any of the newer apostles, Presidency of the Seventy members, or male auxiliary presidents will be asked to represent their tiers at the devotional.

BYU is seeking qualified individuals to teach in China. It sounds like an excellent opportunity for someone to gain experience in a unique way. It's not my thing, but it is worth a mention.

The Church has called eight new visitor's center directors. A BYU Symposium was held to honor Alexander Doniphan. For those who don't know who he is, he was a soldier serving in the United States army at the time that Joseph and Hyrum Smith, along with many others, were illegally held in Liberty Jail. Doniphan, assigned to guard the men, refused point-blank to obey an order from his superior to kill Joseph and those captured with him. He said it was cold-blooded murder, that he would not follow the order, and that if he found out these men had been killed without due process, he would hold his superior responsible before a tribunal. His courage saved the lives of those men. It made such an impact on Joseph that he named one of his sons after this courageous, noble, and most honorable man. The Prophet found in Doniphan a sympathetic ear and the protection he needed to foil the attempts at falsely charging and trying him, all through Doniphan's permitting him to escape. As long as his story keeps getting passed along, Doniphan's memory will not be forgotten. This article says it all.

Colombia has marked 50 years that the Church has grown and progressed there. Their celebration was marked by service. The Church has announced a new Book of Mormon video series.

I mention my final news item reluctantly. The Church has updated its resources for members who struggle with same-sex attraction. While this is wonderful to hear, I have a member of my extended family who is a staunch defender of the practice of homosexuality, having a brother who deals with this. I have delayed posting about this Church milestone out of my concern that she will feel like I am attacking her and her beliefs. I have no desire to do so. Coming from a Church that, in its early years, was viciously and vituperatively attacked by those who wanted to deny our right to believe and practice the way we would like to, I can well understand how it might seem that all the Church is doing is to hurt those who deal with this. I have avoided goling in-depth on my beliefs regarding this practice in consideration of how it might affect my family. But it is awesome that the Church is doing more to help those who deal with this. Much like their resources for those dealing with pornography, addiction, or any other problem arising from living in a far-from-perfect world, their resources for those dealing with same-gender attraction are becoming ever more widely available. The latest resources to come from the Church are highlighted here.

It is my firm belief and testimony (because I have witnessed this firsthand) that there is no earthly problem, temptation, trial, or tribulation of any kind for which the Church is not prepared to offer support and resources. My personal study of the gospel of Jesus Christ and my adherence to the principles I have so willingly embraced and so fervently cling to are the only reasons I am able to deal with all that my situation entails. There is no wound that the gospel cannot heal. There is no challenge anyone can ever grapple with that is so far-reaching the gospel and the joy thereof cannot help them handle. And it is only because of my beliefs that I am able to be of any influence to anyone. I hope others will see in me the light of Christ, and that I can be successful in bringing even one person closer to the Savior. If I can do that, my life, no matter the length or the impact, will not have been wasted. Thanks for wading through this.

Important posts by Matthew Martinich

I wanted to use this post to weigh in on some important posts done by Matthew Martinich, the blogger of the LDS Church Growth blog.

This one discusses potential new missions that may be announced and created next year. There follows in the comments an excellent and instructive series of comments regarding the growth in the Church resulting from the creation of new church units.

This one was supposed to highlight the creation of new stakes recently in Arizona, Brazil and Utah, along with the creation of a new district in the Ivory Coast. For some reason, and for the first time in all the time I've followed Matt's blog, the information about the new Utah stake was not included in that post. At the risk of tooting my own horn, I only mention this next part reluctantly. Since the new stake was in St. George, the birth city of my father, and since I was curious about the new stake that was referenced, I dug as deeply as I could. It occurred to me after a few minutes that I could find the information on Rick Satterfield's excellent LDS Church Temples site by looking under the St. George Temple District. There I found the information on the wards in that stake, and I reported my findings in my next comment on that post. Matt initially promised to include the information in the post later last week, but he must have decided against doing so.

As Matt noted in an earlier post this month, the Church is well on track to have created 100 stakes this year. That's the most stake creations in a single year within the past decade. And as has been noted on Matt's blog itself, only nine more stakes need to be created in the four weeks between now and then. With about 3 weeks to get those stakes created (no stakes are likely to be created on Christmas Day), only 3 per week is the magic number to reach that milestone.

Church growth is significant, of that there is no doubt. And we are blessed to live in a time when the growth of the Church can be found at the click of a button. Matt's strength seems to be noting overall Church growth. With Rick's excellent site, you can easily learn of the latest Church units created, and especially the latest in temple news. I hope this blog is one that can also be looked to for the latest news, whatever it is, about the LDS Church. If that can be my lifelong labor of love, and if I can make a difference for just one person by blogging about such things, I will count myself most lucky.

Thanks for reading and (if you feel so inclined), giving me your feedback on my posts. It always helps to hear about people who follow this blog and to have their insights into what I have to report. Thanks to you all.


Apostolic Age Averages

With the next apostolic birthday on Saturday (Elder Holland will be 76), this second post shares the latest apostolic age averages.

These averages are current as of yesterday.

With the updates I made to my tables, I am pleased to report that the average age of the First Presidency is 82.94. That average is getting closer to the age of President Eyring. President Eyring is 83.94 years old, while President Monson is 89.21 and President Uchtdorf is 76.06.

The average age of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles is 74.49. President Nelson is 92.22 years old. Elder Oaks is 84.29, while Elder Ballard is 88.14. Elder Hales, younger than Elder Oaks by just twelve days, is 84.26.

Elder Holland, with his birthday just days away, is 75.98. Elder Bednar, the oldest and most senior of our 3 youngest apostles, is 64.45. Elder Coo, the oldest and least senior of the three apostles born in 1940, is 76.22. Elder Christofferson is 71.84 years old.

Elder Andersen is 65.80. Elder Rasband is just over six months older than Elder Andersen and is 65.81. Elder Stevenson is the very youngest at 61.30. The next youngest and least senior Elder Renlund is 64.04.

With these average ages, the easy calculation of the average age of the group of 15 apostle is 76.18.

Hope this information is helpful and informative to you. Thanks for your readership and for any and all feedback that may be provided.

Temple Construction Progress Update

This will be the first in a series of four posts created one after another today because Church News and Events have warranted it. This first post is to inform you of important developments in temple construction progress.

Here is my latest report. As always, any and all comments are appreciated.

Temple Construction Progress Report (current as of 11/28/16)
Current Temple Status: 155 operating; scheduled for dedication; 10 under construction; 1 groundbreaking scheduled; 1 scheduled for rededication; 2 undergoing renovation; 11 announced; (NOTE: Up to 2 additional temples may soon have a groundbreaking announced).

Dedication scheduled:
156. Paris France Temple: Interior work underway; open house and dedication dates announced; scheduled to be dedicated on Sunday May 21, 2017.

Under Construction:
157. Meridian Idaho Temple: Installing interior and exterior light fixtures; interior work and landscaping progressing; completion anticipated sometime in late 2017.
158. Cedar City Utah Temple: Installing sprinkler systems and planting bushes; installing window frames and art glass; completion anticipated sometime in late 2017.
159. Tucson Arizona Temple: Pouring concrete parking lot; adding landscaping structures; completion anticipated sometime in late 2017.
160. Rome Italy Temple: Interior work progressing; completion anticipated sometime in 2018.
161. Concepcion Chile Temple: Cupola assembly attached to steeple framework; paving main entrance; completion anticipated sometime in 2018.
162. Kinshasa Democratic Republic of the Congo Temple: Building the exterior walls; completion anticipated sometime in 2018.
163. Durban South Africa Temple: Pouring the foundations; connecting to city utilities; installing sewage lines; landscaping entrance mounds; completion anticipated sometime in 2018.
164. Barranquilla Colombia Temple: Exterior walls rising; completion anticipated sometime between 2018 and 2019.
165. Fortaleza Brazil Temple: Concrete forms surrounding main floor exterior walls; completion anticipated sometime in 2019.
166. Lisbon Portugal Temple: Pouring meetinghouse footings; clearing temple site; completion anticipated sometime in 2019.

Groundbreaking scheduled:
167. Winnipeg Manitoba Temple: Plans approved September 12, 2016; groundbreaking scheduled for Saturday December 3, 2016 @ noon (11 am MST).

Scheduled for rededication:
8. Idaho Falls Idaho Temple: Closed for renovation; finish work underway; rededication scheduled for Sunday June 4, 2017.

Undergoing Renovation:
20. Jordan River Utah Temple: Closed for renovation; rededication anticipated sometime in late 2017.
41. Frankfurt Germany Temple: Closed for renovation; rededication anticipated sometime in 2018.

Announced:
168. Arequipa Peru Temple: General contractor selected; groundbreaking pending.
169. Rio de Janeiro Brazil Temple: Construction preparation phase; plans approved by local government; groundbreaking pending.
170. Urdaneta Philippines Temple: Planning and approval phase; awaiting official site announcement.
171. Port-au-Prince Haiti Temple: Planning and approval phase; awaiting official site announcement.
172. Bangkok Thailand Temple: Planning and approval phase; awaiting official site announcement.
173. Abidjan Ivory Coast Temple: Planning phase; awaiting official site announcement.
174. Quito Ecuador Temple: Planning phase; awaiting official site announcement.
175. Harare Zimbabwe Temple: Planning phase; awaiting official site announcement.
176. Belem Brazil Temple: Planning phase; awaiting official site announcement.
177. Lima Peru Los Olivos Temple: Planning phase; awaiting official site announcement.

Key:
Bolded numbers and text denote temples whose numbers already exists (for renovations), or is certain due to a scheduled dedication, as well as information that is certain, such as dedication or groundbreaking dates.
Italicized numbers and text denote temples whose numbers may change based on the order in which future dedications and groundbreakings are scheduled.
Underlined numbers and text denote temples whose numbers may change based on progress towards planning, approval, and groundbreaking.

Red text denotes changes from the last posted temple progress update.

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Significant posts by Matthew Martinich

Matthew Martinich, a well known authority on the subject of growth in the LDS Church, recently has done several posts of import on his blog dedicated to such growth milestones. I refer to some particular posts that have lately been fascinating. As always, I would prefer conversation about those posts to take place at the location of the original posts rather than here. This post will mainly serve to enlighten my readers about these posts.

This post highlights some milestones about the largest missions of the Church that may split sometime during 2017. It is well worthy of your attention.

This one highlights the creation of several new stakes. Included in the excellent comments that follow include information about some specific stake and ward creation milestones this year.

Enjoy!

Updated Temple Construction Progress Report

Given the milestones I have noted in my last several posts, and, in light of further progress in temple construction above and beyond what I shared last time, I am now posting an update to my temple construction progress report. Any and all feedback is welcome. Let me know your thoughts. Thanks for reading this.

Temple Construction Progress Report (current as of 11/23/16)
Current Temple Status: 155 operating; 1 scheduled for dedication; 10 under construction; 1 groundbreaking scheduled; 1 scheduled for rededication; 2 undergoing renovation; 11 announced; (NOTE: Up to 2 additional temples may soon have a groundbreaking announced).

Dedication scheduled:
156. Paris France Temple: Interior work underway; open house and dedication dates announced; scheduled to be dedicated on Sunday May 21, 2017.

Under Construction:
157. Meridian Idaho Temple: Installing interior and exterior light fixtures; interior work and landscaping progressing; completion anticipated sometime in late 2017.
158. Cedar City Utah Temple: Installing sprinkler systems and planting bushes; installing window frames and art glass; completion anticipated sometime in late 2017.
159. Tucson Arizona Temple: Pouring concrete parking lot; adding landscaping structures; completion anticipated sometime in late 2017.
160. Rome Italy Temple: Interior work progressing; completion anticipated sometime in 2018.
161. Concepcion Chile Temple: Cupola assembly attached to steeple framework; paving main entrance; completion anticipated sometime in 2018.
162. Kinshasa Democratic Republic of the Congo Temple: Building the exterior walls; completion anticipated sometime in 2018.
163. Durban South Africa Temple: Pouring the foundations; connecting to city utilities; installing sewage lines; landscaping entrance mounds; completion anticipated sometime in 2018.
164. Barranquilla Colombia Temple: Exterior walls rising; completion anticipated sometime between 2018 and 2019.
165. Fortaleza Brazil Temple: Erecting structural framing; completion anticipated sometime in 2019.
166. Lisbon Portugal Temple: Temple site cleared; preparing to pour meetinghouse footings; completion anticipated sometime in 2019.

Groundbreaking scheduled:
167. Winnipeg Manitoba Temple: Plans approved September 12, 2016; groundbreaking scheduled for Saturday December 3, 2016 @ noon (11 am MST).

Scheduled for rededication:
8. Idaho Falls Idaho Temple: Closed for renovation; finish work underway; rededication scheduled for Sunday June 4, 2017.

Undergoing Renovation:
20. Jordan River Utah Temple: Closed for renovation; rededication anticipated sometime in late 2017.
41. Frankfurt Germany Temple: Closed for renovation; rededication anticipated sometime in 2018.

Announced:
168. Arequipa Peru Temple: General contractor selected; groundbreaking pending.
169. Rio de Janeiro Brazil Temple: Construction preparation phase; plans approved by local government; groundbreaking pending.
170. Urdaneta Philippines Temple: Planning and approval phase; awaiting official site announcement.
171. Port-au-Prince Haiti Temple: Planning and approval phase; awaiting official site announcement.
172. Bangkok Thailand Temple: Planning and approval phase; awaiting official site announcement.
173. Abidjan Ivory Coast Temple: Planning phase; awaiting official site announcement.
174. Quito Ecuador Temple: Planning phase; awaiting official site announcement.
175. Harare Zimbabwe Temple: Planning phase; awaiting official site announcement.
176. Belem Brazil Temple: Planning phase; awaiting official site announcement.
177. Lima Peru Los Olivos Temple: Planning phase; awaiting official site announcement.

Key:
Bolded numbers and text denote temples whose numbers already exists (for renovations), or is certain due to a scheduled dedication, as well as information that is certain, such as dedication or groundbreaking dates.
Italicized numbers and text denote temples whose numbers may change based on the order in which future dedications and groundbreakings are scheduled.
Underlined numbers and text denote temples whose numbers may change based on progress towards planning, approval, and groundbreaking.

Red text denotes changes from the last posted temple progress update.

Monday, November 21, 2016

Temple Progress Continues/My nearest guesses for temple completion milestones

Wanted to post today with some exciting temple progress news. As noted, the Hartford Connecticut Temple was dedicated yesterday. But there have been significant developments with two temples. My reason for posting today is to share the latest news on those temples. Rick Satterfield's most excellent website consistently is updated as he hears word of the latest developments or as he receives new photographs detailing construction progress. I rely on these regular updates in my efforts to keep aware of the latest temple-related news. Visiting the website is easy. Click here to check out his awe-inspiring self-titled "labor of love." Sometimes, his website is even updated before the Church confirms these updates officially. While not officially owned or endorsed by the Church, Brother Satterfield seems to always be right on top of the latest temple-related developments.

I may not have explained that I get the temple-related information I share with my readers primarily because of what I read on that site.

That said, and with my biggest and most sincere thanks to Brother Satterfield for indirectly helping me be constantly aware of the latest temple related news, updates, and upcoming events, as well as some of the latest Church statistics (I honestly don't know how he handles being constantly abreast of all the latest). Without his labor of love, I would not be able to share these tidbits with you, my readers. I will highlight the latest progress on temples that he thinks may be scheduled for dedications that will take place in 2017 or 2018. Where I feel confident in doing so, I will suggest a timeframe for a dedication announcement, and a timeframe for the scheduled dedication of these temples. If you have any disagreement or just want to throw in your take on my doing this for the first time, feel free to comment below. I will do my best to read any submitted comments ASAP following their being posted and will try and reply as much as I feel I need to. But also feel free to give me a nudge if you feel I have not adequately responded to your comments. Your feedback on my work is always appreciated.

I was overjoyed to read the latest on the Meridian Idaho Temple (which, he  projects, will be the next temple dedicated sometime following the dedication of the Paris France Temple on May 20 and the rededication of the Idaho Falls Idaho temple two weeks later). Interior and exterior light fixtures are being installed while interior work and landscaping are progressing. In looking back on the many temple construction progress report versions I have posted over the last little while, I would venture to say that a dedication date for the Meridian Idaho Temple is likely to be announced soon, perhaps within the next 3 or 4 months, and, if I may be so bold, I will go so far as to venture early August as a potential month within which that event may be scheduled.

No notable progress has been reported recently for the Cedar City Utah Temple. But based on my gut feelings, I will say that I wouldn't be surprised to have a dedication for that temple announced within 6 months or less, and scheduled either for late August or early September.

In the meantime, I can foresee the Church finishing renovation on the Jordan River Utah temple sometime mid-2017, with a rededication announced for either late August or early September. Whether or not the Church would announce the Cedar City and Jordan River temple events around the same time, it wouldn't surprise me if their dedication ceremonies were within weeks from each other.

The Tucson Arizona temple has been another one for which no notable progress has been reported for a while. Given where it's at, I will project that we will have a dedication announced within the first 8 months of 2017, and scheduled for early November.

Given what I have read about the temples to be completed in 2018, added to what I have picked up on by closely watching how the Rome Italy temple construction has spanned such a long period of time, I believe it is safe to predict that the Concepcion Chile temple will be the next completed temple, with an open house and dedication date announced in either late 2017 or early 2018 and set for around April 2018. The rededication of the Frankfurt Germany temple could be announced around the first quarter of 2018 and scheduled for around June of that same year. Rome could have an open house and dedication announced in early 2018 and set for around August 2018.

The Kinshasa DR Congo could follow, with an announcement of opening dates during the first two-thirds of 2018, and a dedication set for October. Barranquilla would be my next pick for completion, with a dedication announced during August, and the actual dedication date in November or December. I somehow don't see any other temples, Durban included, being completed before that time.

In the meantime, I could see as many as 5 additional temples having their groundbreaking before the end of next year. I see an early announcement (perhaps within the first quarter of 2017) for the Arequipa Peru and Rio de Janeiro temples. I also will be so bold as to predict that for the Urdaneta Philippines, Port-au-Prince Haiti, and Bangkok Thailand temples, a groundbreaking may be announced within the second third of 2017, and could take place before the end of next year.

That said, I wanted to also post my list of cities for which a temple may be announced within the next two years. This is the same list that I featured with my October General Conference predictions, but no new temples were then announced. I wanted to note that, to the list, I have added one candidate that is a favorite of one of my regular readers: Missoula Miontana.

Here's the list:

Managua Nicaragua; Port Moresby Papua New Guinea; Bentonville Arkansas; Freetown Sierra Leone; Kampala Uganda; Nairobi Kenya; Lehi/Layton Utah; Budapest Hungary; Pocatello Idaho; La Paz Bolivia; El Paso Texas; Puebla Mexico; Missoula Montana; Edinburgh Scotland; Brasilia/Belo Horizonte Brazil; Neuquen Argentina.

As I stated above, please let me know what your thoughts and feedback are on this post. Whether you agree with me or not, I value your honestly expressed insights into thoughts I have in this post presented. No matter what you have to say, I am listening. Thanks for your readership.

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Hartford Connecticut Temple Dedicated today/The Health of the Brethren and Apostolic Age Averages

The Church now has 155 temples. The Hartford Connecticut Temple was dedicated in three sessions today. Much to my surprise, delight, and great relief, President Henry B. Eyring, looking hale and hearty for a change from his last public appearance, presided at the dedication. He was accompanied by his "junior" apostle, Elder Jeffrey R. Holland (I say junior because, with the First Presidency organized as it is, he is in that sense "senior" to Elder Holland, though he is actually below Elder Holland in overall apostolic seniority.) As I found out and revealed in an earlier post, Elder Holland has personal ties to the Hartford area, having done post-graduate work near there.

To be honest, President Eyring's apparent vitality and presence at this dedication has me confused. I know that, being the age he is, he may naturally be feeling some physical complaints typical for his time of life. But I recall all too well how gaunt, pale, and frail he looked at General Conference, or even, more recently, at the dedication of the Thomas S. Monson building on the U of U campus. It is not without precedence for an "aging" apostle to have his moments of going between hale and hearty and pale and frail. The aging of the brethren is by no means a new concept, and the ebb and flow of their health is to be expected. It goes with the territory. For the most part, it was a relief to learn that President Eyring may not be as badly ailing in health as he appeared to be.

Now I am honestly not sure what to make of the health of the brethren. Whatever may have been wrong with President Eyring previously could have been resolved. There's no way of knowing. But if he is functioning above the capacity some, including myself, have been mistakenly led to believe, perhaps there won't be a need for an additional counselor in the First Presidency for a while, if indeed there is need for one at all in the near future.

President Eyring's health aside, the two apostles that may pass next seem to be President Thomas S. Monson or Elder Robert D. Hales. But then, there have been many times when I believed an apostle to be seriously ill only to have them bounce back for a conference or two or more, then pass away. At this point, it is highly speculative, in my opinion, to conjecture which apostles might pass and when.

One thing that is absolutely sure: No matter what goes on with the health of the brethren, and no matter who passes and who moves on to lead this Church, we have the absolute conviction that there is no need to worry about the future of the Church. The principle of apostolic succession is alive and well, and, as I've said in the past, we are extraordinarily blessed to not only witness the release by death of those apostles the Lord calls home in His way and according to His due time, but also the calling of equally amazing and qualified men to fill the vacancies of such deaths. It is a perfect system for the Lord's Church.

That being said, I wanted to end this post by reporting on the latest apostolic age averages, which I configured for today just last night. FWIW, the next apostolic birthday will be marked on December 3. On that day, Elder Jeffrey R. Holland will be 76. As of today, the average age of the First Presidency is 82.91 years, while the average age of the members of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles is 74.47 (interestingly, a palindrome). The average age of all currently living apostles is 76.16.

As always, thanks for reading my musings, and, if you feel so inclined, for adding any comments you might have.

Saturday, November 19, 2016

I may be having surgery in the near future

Hey, guys! I wanted to let you in on the latest personal health developments. I have been having a variety of neurological symptoms that I believe may be related to a physical problem with me. The nature of this problem has yet to be verified by medical testing, but I thought I would let you all know what is going on.

As those of you who have personally met me or read the article I wrote that was published in the July 2015 Ensign know, one of my many health conditions is hydrocephalus. For those of you not familiar with that term, it refers to an irregularity in the proper flow level of cerebrospinal fluid (CSF). Those with hydrocephalus either have too much or too little CSF in their brains. Throughout my life, I have been on both ends of that spectrum. When I was born, a CAT scan showed that all you could see was fluid and just a tiny speck that was my brain. But as I grew, the CSF level changed, and now, looking at a CAT scan, all you can see is brain, with only a little fluid. (My tongue-in-cheek joke is that this accounts for my superior intelligence).

Most people who have hydrocephalus have a mechanical device called a shunt to regulate the flow of the fluid. In its earliest and most primitive days, if anything went wrong with the shunt, whether it stopped working or was the incorrect setting, it had to be replaced. But as shunt technology evolved, the setting of the amount of pressure regulating the flow has been able to be magnetically adjusted. Because a magnet can alter the setting so easily, I have always had to have my shunt setting checked when my head came within any contact of a magnet.

The trouble with shunts is, they sometimes fail, malfunction, or stop working. Many of the signs that something is amiss with the shunt are neurological symptoms that hydrocephallics exhibit. They include but are not limited to increased headaches, nausea, dizziness, vomiting (TMI, anyone?) disorientation, trouble sleeping, trouble waking or staying awake, irregularity in normal bodily functions, confusion, difficulty concentrating or thinking clearly, forgetting how to do things that ordinarily come naturally, numbness of bodily extremities, and, in severe cases, blacking out or becoming comatose.

The long and the short of my telling you all this is to let you know that I have been experiencing many of these same symptoms, which has led me to conclude that there may be a problem with my shunt. I know that declaration may scare many of you, but rest assured, unless something drastic happens, I'm not going anywhere. Fortunately, I caught these symptoms early enough that it shouldn't create any problems or emergency situations. My one problem, which my parents have before struggled with on my behalf in the past, was getting my neurosurgeon to take these symptoms seriously. Oftentimes, when a problem is suspected, heaven and earth had to be moved in my behalf before my neurosurgeon would even take a look at me. This time has been no different. At first, my neurosurgeon's nurse tried to attribute my symptoms to a medication issue. But I have closely monitored and have been regulating the taking of my medication, and, since I remember all too well what others observed about me the last time I had such a problem (which was in 2004 when I was a teenager) and had noticed the same things about myself now.

As I noted above, for me, the main way problems or irregularities with the shunt have been determined in the past was with a CAT scan, a series of x-rays of my shunt line, and, in recent years, a heart ultrasound. (A shunt drains from the ventricles in the head either in to the stomach (peritoneum) or to the heart (atrium). My shunt used to drain into my stomach, but then my stomach began building cysts around the shunt line, irreparably clogging my stomach and ruling it out as a drainage site. So they put it into the third ventricle in my heart.)  I had never heard of any other option to determine problems.

So I was very much surprised, and understandably more than a little unsettled when I learned that a long-standing procedure for detecting shunt problems was a procedure called a lumbar puncture (which some term a spinal tap). While some incorrectly believe and assert that this procedure involves the opening up of the spine, what is actually done is that a small needle is inserted into the spine, and for half an hour, samples of CSF are taken. When they are analyzed in this way, the effectiveness and even the setting of the shunt can be easily determined and confirmed beyond reasonable doubt. While This has been done for years, but I have never had it done before.

The procedure is not in any way, shape or form risky. I was informed, however, that a slight increase or worsening of my neurological symptoms may happen. I was beyond relieved to discuss my upcoming procedure with my neurologist during our visit yesterday. Back in the early days of her medical practice, she performed lumbar punctures all the time. What relieved my mind the most is that she said while the potential side effects are possible, and while it is wise to schedule the exam for a week when not a lot else is needing to be done, in general, side effects do not present themselves in a good majority of those who have the procedure done. In fact, she went on to say that if there is a problem, the procedure might even relieve or resolve certain neurological symptoms instead of causing them.

Within the space of yesterday, I scheduled the lumbar puncture for December 1, scheduled a follow-up visit in the same city several hours later with my neurosurgeon's nurse to go over the results, and saw my neurologist. One of my main concerns during our visit was to ask for reassurance about the effectiveness of the lumbar puncture. As she always does, she did resolve my concerns about all of this and said she was glad to hear of my persistence in attempting to get my shunt checked out.

So now the waiting game begins. Depending on what happens on December 1, I may be having surgery to fix and replace my shunt. My wife says she is relieved that we are heading towards a resolution to any problems I might be having, and I couldn't agree more. I am also beyond relieved that I will be able to now let go of the worry about whether or not there is a problem and instead focus on being with family this Thanksgiving. I have spent far too many holidays in the hospital. In fact, I think it's fair to say that I have spent far too many days in general there.

My family has often joked that with my hospital stays alone, we have likely added a wing or two to the hospital that was like a second home to me during the major growing-up half of my life. I had those experiences in mind when I put together a personal tapestry project for a 10th Grade Honors English class. Part of my "tapestry" was a collection of poems for which I had either penned the words or to which I felt I personally connected. One of the poems I wrote about my lifetime's worth of hospitalizations was about my hospital stay. It was aptly and appropriately titled "Home Away from Home" because that's how I came to view the hospital.

As part of my explanation of what's going on with me, I wanted to share that poem today so you will understand just how connected I felt to my second home. Before I do so, I just wanted to offer a disclaimer. I don't believe I was even sixteen at the time I wrote this. Being somewhat of a poetry novice, I didn't have the sense of rhythm and rhyme and all the nuances of poetry that I have come to develop since that time. Some of you may find it therefore disappointing. Disclaimer over: you've been adequately forewarned. Here's the poem:

Home away from Home

A hospital bed, a window,
A TV, a chair,
A very small bathroom is what you’ll find there,
In my home away from home.

Doctors and Nurses are always there,
You know they’re here to help you,
But you’re too miserable to care,
In that home away from home.

It’s a place of healing and with fairly good food,
There, unlike school,
The people are seldom rude,
In that home away from home.

I go there too much, For surgeries and such,
Alone, feeling a void, Sometimes getting annoyed,
Sometimes for a long stay, Always willing to go away,
From my home away from home.


James Gordon Stokes

When it seemed like my main hobby was just sitting around waiting for the next time I needed to visit that second home, I began to keep track of the number of surgeries I had, most of which have been shunt related. I lost track at 50 when I was in the second grade. I am now approaching my 30th birthday. I wouldn't be surprised if by now that number has doubled or even tripled. I went through several periods of time in my life (particularly 2nd, 5th, 8th, and 11th Grades) when I had multiple surgeries within the same year.

Perhaps my worst year for surgeries was when I was in 11th Grade and had four such procedures in the short period of merely 3 weeks. It was in recovering from the fourth and final such surgery that I had the experience about which I wrote the article that appeared in the aforementioned edition of the Enisign. I have had experiences I would much prefer to forget.

I have even had one near-death experience of which the details escaped me until just recently this year. As with some near-death experiences, while I initially realized and acknowledged that I had had one, the resulting complications in my health made me forget the details thereof until earlier this year when my memories of it started coming back. Under ordinary circumstances, I would happily discuss the details of that experience, but, as with a couple of other events that have happened in my life, the details thereof in my case are too sacred to relate. I have shared them with my wife, as I have other similar experiences I have had, but until Heavenly Father sees fit to authorize me to make any of these experiences public, I hold it as a sacred obligation to not share those details.

Suffice it to say that, because of those experiences, I have a firm, unshakable knowledge that the work of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is truly the work of the Lord. Primarily borne of these experiences I have had, I feel I can testify without equivocation that I have the sure and certain witness of the validity of the life, mission, and purpose of Jesus Christ as our Savior. I have been told in my patriarchal blessing that we are in the Saturday evening of time, and it is my hope and prayer that Sunday will come soon. It is my fervent witness that the Savior will come again. I know and comprehend that as surely as a man knows and comprehends he has breath. I have also been instructed that my life's mission is to bring people unto the Savior and to help prepare the Saints belonging to the Lord's Church for the day when He will return. This blog, and how devoted it is to all Church-related news and developments, is one way in which I hope I am fulfilling that sacred responsibility.

I also know that one day I will stand accountable before God for how well I have met and fulfilled this purpose. I join with ancient and modern prophets in hoping that, at that day, I can stand before him with a clear conscience, knowing I have met his expectations for me. It is a goal which I work towards daily. Though along the way I have occasionally stumbled, I have always had the finest people to help me pick myself up, dust myself off, and keep trying. Many of those people now faithfully follow this blog. That each of us may strive with all our heart, might, mind and strength to fulfill our divinely directed, eternally orchestrated, and sublimely sacred purposes for which we have been sent to this wonderful albeit imperfect world in which we live and that we may all be ready for that great (for the righteous) and terrible (for the wicked) day is my humble prayer in the sacred name of Jesus Christ, Amen.


The Church is on track to have 200 temples in operation by the 200th anniversary of the Church

I tried just barely to post this comment on the LDS Church Growth Blog, but apparently it was too wordy for one comment. I reproduce it here in its entirety to announce that I believe the Church is well on track to have 200 temples in operation by the 200th anniversary of the Church.

According to Rick Satterfield's LDS Church Temples website (which, as I have previously said, I follow religiously), the original intention was the that groundbreaking for the Rio  de Janeiro Brazil temple would not take place nor even be scheduled until after this year's Olympics so as not to steal the thunder of that world-famous event. Over time, the website's estimated groundbreaking date shifted to late 2016, then was further adjusted to either late 2016 or early 2017. It has been just recently that the site's estimated groundbreaking date has been completely removed. It is still noted, as it was well before the Olympics even started, that the plans have been approved by the local government, and that it is in the construction preparation phase. But beyond that, no date, actual or estimated, is indicated.

The specific listing for that temple on his site simply notes that nothing has been officially announced. Obviously, with the inside information at his fingertips, he has seemed to feel less confident in firming up an estimated groundbreaking date. In point of fact, according to what I have been able to surmise from following his website so closely and from looking into specific listings for other temples, it appears that the Arequipa Peru temple has now taken the top spot in terms of how soon a groundbreaking might be announced. Without knowing for sure how dated the above-mentioned link is, I don't feel confident in making a guess at a potential groundbreaking date for either temple.

But I never would have guessed that the Winnipeg Manitoba temple would be the next one to have a groundbreaking scheduled. To me, this demonstrates the fact that estimating the readiness of announced temples for future groundbreakings is next to impossible and perhaps even highly speculative. That said, I felt fairly certain that the dedication of the Hartford Connecticut temple this Sunday would likely serve as the last temple-related event this year. I was blindsided by how fast things progressed and were scheduled in Winnipeg.

That said, from what I have been able to surmise, it appears most likely that the Arequipa Peru temple will be next, followed by Rio de Janeiro Brazil, Urdaneta Philippines, Port-au-Prince Haiti, Bangkok Thailand, (All of which are in the planning and approval phase and, depending factors of local approval and support, the availability of people to construct them, and how committed the construction process and those involved are, the order thereof may be altered.) and finally Abidjan Ivory Coast and the four temples announced this year. There is obviously a chance that this could change, but that seems to be the order in which these temples will commence construction. As to a specific date for any of these, as we have seen, even in the commencement of construction, there may be delays spanning several years.

For example, I know that though a groundbreaking was held in 2011 for the Fortaleza Brazil temple, due to government-imposed delays, construction on that temple did not begin in earnest until this year. Ground was broken for the Rome Italy temple in 2010. It has yet to be completed, though it is estimated that construction will only conclude in 2018. On the other hand, the Star Valley Wyoming temple construction spanned about a year and a half. Cedar City is expected to be completed in 2017, following two years of construction.

In following temple progress, I have noticed that Utah temples seem to go up the fastest, with construction ranging from 1-2 years. In the United States, the average seems to be 1-3 years. Construction of international temples can range from 1 to as many as 15 years. And I can never forget the 40 years it took to complete the construction of the Salt Lake Temple. Regardless of how long construction takes or when future groundbreakings may occur, one constant has been the massive and swift expansion of the number of operating temples.

It took the Church over 167 years to have its first 50 temples. About one year later, President Hinckley introduced his revelation to build smaller temples (with that fact alone completely debunking the false claim that there are no modern-day revelations), along with the goal of having 100 temples by the year 2000, doubling the number of those in operation. This goal was met and exceeded by two. Once we had 100 operating temples, it only took the Church 16 years to get the next 50, and, I can unequivocally state, because I've done the research and followed temple progress so closely, whether or not the Church makes it an official goal, we are well on track to have 200 temples by or before the 200th anniversary of the Church.

Six more temples will have been dedicated by the end of this year alone. In doing the math, which I have, we discover that if the Church only completes three or four temples during each of the following 13 years, whether an official goal is made to do so or not, we could have as many as 200 temples or more by or before the 200th anniversary of the Church. As any of you who regularly follow this blog know, I recently did a blog post on my feelings regarding temple progress. In fact, it seems that one of my main focuses on this blog has been keeping my readers updated on temple progress. In view of the responsibility which I feel to so report, you can depend on finding all the latest temple news and developments here. In this, I hope it has or will become one of many excellent resources for the latest temple-related developments. I hope in saying this that I'm not coming across as being too vain. Thanks, as always, for reading this post.

Friday, November 18, 2016

BREAKING NEWS: The apostle most likely to dedicate the Hartford Connecticut Temple this Sunday

While I am consistently increasing the number of people who regularly read my blog, I'm honestly not sure how many of you read any posted comments. This late breaking news post is necessary because of something a guy named Kenny said in a comment on my latest blog post.

 He said he thought he recalled hearing that either Elder M. Russell Ballard or Elder Jeffrey R. Holland had some ties to the Connecticut area. Being the naturally curious person that I am when it comes to knowing or learning as much as I can about our apostles, I did my research. I simply googled "Which LDS apostle has ties to Connecticut?"

One of the top results was the biography of Elder Jeffrey R. Holland, which reported him doing some post-graduate studying in the Connecticut area, which is where he first launched his lifelong teaching career. He even served in two stake presidencies during the time he resided in the area.

Given Elder Holland's special connection to the area and the people in it, and given the fact that Elder David A. Bednar was asked to preside at the dedication of the Star Valley Wyoming temple primarily because of his wife's ties to Star Valley, I now feel safe in predicting that either Elder Holland himself will preside at the dedication of the Hartford temple this Sunday, or else he will accompany the one who presides. But of the two options, given the Star Valley precedent, I think it most likely he will be the one to preside. Let me know your thoughts in the comments below. My thanks to all those who tnot only ake time to read not only my main posts, but who also wade through the few but often profound and sometimes overlooked comments on this blog.

I have often said that I began blogging as a way to personally digitize and journal the events of my life. When the blog became mainly about Church news, I know I may have lost some who, up to that point, had consistently checked it. But I very much appreciate and tip my hat off to all those who continue to come back for more, whether the focus is on Church news or us personally. I cannot overstate the significance I feel is lent to this blog and its content because of those who care enough to regularly check it, regardless of whether they see my posts advertised on Facebook or in the comments of the LDS Church Blog.

When I first started "sounding off" online, I didn't think my blog would ever be significant or far-reaching, nor could I imagine regular readers and followers who without fail read everything I post, regardless of the nature of the content. And to think there are people out there who not only read my blog but take time to read and sometimes respond to the comments here. This blog will likely never have as much traffic as blogs such as the LDS Church Growth blog, or even the Church's main blog, but it doesn't have to. It is more than enough for me to know that I have even a handful of regular readers who are paying attention to anything and everything posted here. I have even had a couple of people who got to know me through this blog with whom I am now friends on Facebook, and I never in my wildest dreams could have conceived that this blog would be the success it is. Thanks again, and may the Lord bless you all.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Winnipeg Temple Groundbreaking Ceremony Announced

Didn't find out about this until just barely when I was checking the Church websites, but on Wednesday, the Church announced that the groundbreaking for the Winnipeg Manitoba Temple would take place on Saturday December 3 at noon Winnipeg time (which is 11 am MST). I was excited and elated to hear of this news. Elder Ulisses Soares of the Presidency of the Seventy has been asked to preside at the event, and Elder Larry Y. Wilson, Executive Director of the Church's Temple Department, will also be in attendance.

With this announcement, obviously edits to my list of upcoming temple-related events and my temple construction progress report were in order. The updates are posted below. Enjoy, and let me know your thoughts.

Temple Construction Progress Report (current as of 11/17/16)
Current Temple Status: 154 operating; scheduled for dedication; 10 under construction; 1 groundbreaking scheduled; 1 scheduled for rededication; 2 undergoing renovation; 11 announced; (NOTE: Up to 2 additional temples may soon have a groundbreaking scheduled).

Dedication scheduled:
155. Hartford Connecticut Temple: Preparing for dedication; dedication scheduled on Sunday November 20, 2016.
156. Paris France Temple: Interior work underway; open house and dedication dates announced; scheduled to be dedicated on Sunday May 21, 2017.

Under Construction:
157. Meridian Idaho Temple: Adding landscaping structures; installing fence posts and lamp posts; completion anticipated sometime in late 2017.
158. Cedar City Utah Temple: Installing sprinkler systems and planting bushes; installing window frames and art glass; completion anticipated sometime in late 2017.
159. Tucson Arizona Temple: Pouring concrete parking lot; adding landscaping structures; completion anticipated sometime in late 2017.
160. Rome Italy Temple: Interior work progressing; completion anticipated sometime in the first half of 2018.
161. Concepcion Chile Temple: Steeple framework installed; walls poured for guard house; paving main entrance; completion anticipated sometime in 2018.
162. Kinshasa Democratic Republic of the Congo Temple: Building the exterior walls; completion anticipated sometime in 2018.
163. Durban South Africa Temple: Foundation columns poured; fencing the property; storm water system in place; landscaping entrance mounds; completion anticipated sometime in 2018.
164. Barranquilla Colombia Temple: Exterior walls rising; completion anticipated sometime between 2018 and 2019.
165. Fortaleza Brazil Temple: Erecting structural framing; completion anticipated sometime in 2019.
166. Lisbon Portugal Temple: Temple site cleared; preparing to pour meetinghouse footings; completion anticipated sometime in 2019.

Groundbreaking scheduled:
167. Winnipeg Manitoba Temple: Plans approved September 12, 2016; groundbreaking scheduled for Saturday December 3, 2016.

Scheduled for rededication:
8. Idaho Falls Idaho Temple: Closed for renovation; finish work underway; rededication scheduled for Sunday June 4, 2017.

Undergoing Renovation:
20. Jordan River Utah Temple: Closed for renovation; rededication anticipated sometime in late 2017.
41. Frankfurt Germany Temple: Closed for renovation; rededication anticipated sometime in 2018.

Announced:
168. Arequipa Peru Temple: General contractor selected; groundbreaking pending.
169. Rio de Janeiro Brazil Temple: Construction preparation phase; plans approved by local government; groundbreaking pending.
170. Urdaneta Philippines Temple: Planning and approval phase; awaiting official site announcement.
171. Port-au-Prince Haiti Temple: Planning and approval phase; awaiting official site announcement.
172. Bangkok Thailand Temple: Planning and approval phase; awaiting official site announcement.
173. Abidjan Ivory Coast Temple: Planning phase; awaiting official site announcement.
174. Quito Ecuador Temple: Planning phase; awaiting official site announcement.
175. Harare Zimbabwe Temple: Planning phase; awaiting official site announcement.
176. Belem Brazil Temple: Planning phase; awaiting official site announcement.
177. Lima Peru Los Olivos Temple: Planning phase; awaiting official site announcement.

Key:
Bolded numbers and text denote temples whose numbers already exists (for renovations), or is certain due to a scheduled dedication, as well as information that is certain, such as dedication or groundbreaking dates.
Italicized numbers and text denote temples whose numbers may change based on the order in which future dedications and groundbreakings are scheduled.
Underlined numbers and text denote temples whose numbers may change based on progress towards planning, approval, and groundbreaking.
Red text denotes changes from the last posted temple progress update.

Upcoming Temple Events (Text in parentheses indicates what the status of temples will be following the event listed):

2016
1.      Sunday November 20—Hartford Connecticut Temple Dedication (156 operating; 10 under construction; 1 groundbreaking scheduled; 3 undergoing renovation; 10 announced. (As many as 2 temples may soon have a groundbreaking announced)
NOTE: Since the health of the Brethren remains unclear, it is anyone’s guess who might be asked to preside at this dedication. Previous precedent indicates it may be any member of the First Presidency (with President Uchtdorf being the most likely candidate, as he is apparently the most functioning member of that body) or any of the apostles, as Elder Bednar presided at the last temple dedication.
2.      Saturday December 3—Winnipeg Manitoba Temple Groundbreaking (156 operating; 11 under construction; 3 undergoing renovation; 10 announced (As many as 2 temples may soon have a groundbreaking scheduled.))
NOTE: Elder Ulisses Soares, who oversees the work of the Church in the Church’s area in which this temple will be built, has been asked to preside at this groundbreaking.

2017
1.      Sunday May 21—Paris France Temple Dedication (157 operating; 10 under construction; 3 undergoing renovation; 10 announced (As many as 2 temples may soon have a groundbreaking scheduled.))
NOTE: Since the health of the Brethren remains unclear, it is anyone’s guess who might be asked to preside at this dedication. Previous precedent indicates it may be any member of the First Presidency (with President Uchtdorf being the most likely candidate, as he is apparently the most functioning member of that body) or any of the apostles.
2.      Sunday June 4—Idaho Falls Idaho Temple Rededication (156 operating; 10 under construction; 2 undergoing renovation; 10 announced (Up to 3 temples may soon have a groundbreaking scheduled.))
NOTE: Since the health of the brethren remains unclear, it is anyone’s guess who might be asked to preside at this dedication. If President Eyring, a former Ricks College president, is able to be there, he might be assigned to do so. Since Elder Bednar, a former BYU-Idaho president, has been previously assigned to preside at a temple dedication, he might be asked to return for this rededication. Another potential candidate, according to Brother Rick Satterfield, who manages the LDS Church Temples website, is Elder Neil L. Andersen, who is from that area.

NOTE: More temple dedications, rededications, and groundbreakings are anticipated to be announced and may take place early next year. We will have to see what happens there and add such events when the time is ripe.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Further Progress Made on the Concepcion Chile Temple

Late last night and again this afternoon, in checking the LDS Church Temples website, I was elated to discover that further progress has been made on the Concepcion Chile Temple beyond what I had reported yesterday.

Yesterday, I noted that the steeple framework was being installed. That installation has finished. Additionally, walls have been poured for the guardhouse and they are working on paving the main entrance.

As I noted yesterday, it is wonderful to see such stunning progress happening in temple construction. This will always be special to me not only because of my six-year service as a temple worker, but also because it was at the same temple I worked where I met and later married the woman of my dreams. I had always been fascinated by temple progress before then, but now I glory in each wonderful construction milestone.

I will never forget the statement made by George Q. Cannon (though I had always heard it attributed to Brigham Young) to the effect that every temple built and dedicated lessens the power of Satan on the earth. I

n an era of the dispensation of the fulness of times when we will shortly have 156 temples dedicated, think how much the power of Satan has been lessened since we started building temples. It is staggering to think of.

And I am of the opinion that it is more than likely that we will see 200 temples by the 200th anniversary of the restoration and reestablishment of the Lord's Church here on the earth (which will happen on April 6, 2030). Just think how much that will lessen the power of Satan. And to think of faithful saints worldwide frequently sacrificing everything just for one visit to these sacred places of worship is awesome to think about.

As I have previously mentioned, in my six years serving at one of these temples, in two shifts per week, I calculated I was helping roughly 100 patrons per week in the labor of redeeming the dead. Multiply that by millions of workers working millions of shifts and helping millions of patrons, and the number of the redeemed dead becomes staggering.

I look forward to the day when the Savior will return on the earth. Can you imagine sitting in an April General Conference of the Church presided over by Jesus Christ and hearing a statistical report detailing a Church billions of members strong? It will be wonderful.

Let us work towards such a goal with all our hearts. Let us move forward unceasingly in the labor of redeeming the dead with the knowledge that the work we do is recorded in heaven and will one day be known to all the world. That this may be our goal and our glorious end result is my humble prayer in the sacred name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Updated Temple Construction Progress Report

Though it has only been four days since I last posted a temple construction progress report, so much has gone on that I need to post the newest version of that report again. Some notable milestones have been reached, and we are blessed to be firsthand witnesses of that progress. I love posting these updates, and in so doing, I sincerely hope I am not boring anyone. My main desire in making this a focus of my blog posts is to let my readers know about the remarkable progress of a work that, in view of my six-year service as a temple worker, is so near and dear to my heart. As always, let me know your thoughts. I can't guarantee I will no longer post about this if it is tiresome to you, but I always appreciate your honest feedback. That said, here is my latest report:

Temple Construction Progress Report (current as of 11/15/16)
Current Temple Status: 154 operating; scheduled for dedication; 10 under construction; 1 scheduled for rededication; 2 undergoing renovation; 11 announced (With up to 3 that may soon have a groundbreaking scheduled).

Dedication scheduled:
155. Hartford Connecticut Temple: Preparing for dedication; dedication scheduled on Sunday November 20, 2016.
156. Paris France Temple: Interior work underway; open house and dedication dates announced; scheduled to be dedicated on Sunday May 21, 2017.

Under Construction:
157. Meridian Idaho Temple: Adding landscaping structures; installing fence posts and lamp posts; completion anticipated sometime in late 2017.
158. Cedar City Utah Temple: Installing sprinkler systems and planting bushes; installing window frames and art glass; completion anticipated sometime in late 2017.
159. Tucson Arizona Temple: Pouring concrete parking lot; adding landscaping structures; completion anticipated sometime in late 2017.
160. Rome Italy Temple: Interior work progressing; completion anticipated sometime in the first half of 2018.
161. Concepcion Chile Temple: Steeple framework going up; completion anticipated sometime in 2018.
162. Kinshasa Democratic Republic of the Congo Temple: Building the exterior walls; completion anticipated sometime in 2018.
163. Durban South Africa Temple: Foundation columns poured; fencing the property; storm water system in place; landscaping entrance mounds; completion anticipated sometime in 2018.
164. Barranquilla Colombia Temple: Exterior walls rising; completion anticipated sometime between 2018 and 2019.
165. Fortaleza Brazil Temple: Erecting structural framing; completion anticipated sometime in 2019.
166. Lisbon Portugal Temple: Temple site cleared; preparing to pour meetinghouse footings; completion anticipated sometime in 2019.

Scheduled for rededication:
8. Idaho Falls Idaho Temple: Closed for renovation; finish work underway; rededication scheduled for Sunday June 4, 2017.

Undergoing Renovation:
20. Jordan River Utah Temple: Closed for renovation; rededication anticipated sometime in late 2017.
41. Frankfurt Germany Temple: Closed for renovation; rededication anticipated sometime in 2018.

Announced:
167.  Winnipeg Manitoba Temple: Permitting phase; temple fireside held September 11, 2016; groundbreaking anticipated in early 2017.
168. Arequipa Peru Temple: General contractor selected; groundbreaking pending.
169. Rio de Janeiro Brazil Temple: Construction preparation phase; plans approved by local government; groundbreaking pending.
170. Urdaneta Philippines Temple: Planning and approval phase; awaiting official site announcement.
171. Port-au-Prince Haiti Temple: Planning and approval phase; awaiting official site announcement.
172. Bangkok Thailand Temple: Planning and approval phase; awaiting official site announcement.
173. Abidjan Ivory Coast Temple: Planning phase; awaiting official site announcement.
174. Quito Ecuador Temple: Planning phase; awaiting official site announcement.
175. Harare Zimbabwe Temple: Planning phase; awaiting official site announcement.
176. Belem Brazil Temple: Planning phase; awaiting official site announcement.
177. Lima Peru Los Olivos Temple: Planning phase; awaiting official site announcement.

Key:
Bolded numbers and text denote temples whose numbers already exists (for renovations), or is certain due to a scheduled dedication, as well as information that is certain, such as dedication or groundbreaking dates.
Italicized numbers and text denote temples whose numbers may change based on the order in which future dedications and groundbreakings are scheduled.
Underlined numbers and text denote temples whose numbers may change based on progress towards planning, approval, and groundbreaking.
Red text denotes changes from the last posted temple progress update.

Saturday, November 12, 2016

Important Posts by Matthew Martinich

Matthew Martinich, webmaster of many blogs, has one blog about Church growth that has become a favorite of mine. He recently did a couple of interesting posts: this one about how there may be as many as 100 new stakes by the end of 2016, and this one about the stakes outside North America that are most likely to split in the near future (some perhaps by the end of this year). Both are very interesting posts well worth reading. Rather than commenting here on these posts, I invite you to share any comments you have on the LDS Church Growth Blog itself. Thanks so much for your readership.

Apostolic Age Averages/Statistics about Prophets and Apostolic Quorum Presidents

I wanted to post again about apostolic age averages. I also wanted to post about something I've not mentioned before: the prophetic age and tenure ranks as they apply to President Thomas S. Monson and the latest statistics about the tenure of our current President of the Quorum of the Twelve. These are documented tables I update each week, generally on Sunday or a day or two before.

As far as apostolic age averages go, I wanted to note that tomorrow (Sunday), Elder Dale G. Renlund, the least senior apostle who is alos the second youngest, will celebrate his 64th birthday. As for the averages I spoke of, the average age of the First Presidency will be 82.9 years, with only President Uchtdorf being younger than that average. Meanwhile, the average age of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles on Sunday will be 74.45, with half of those twelve being younger than the average. As of Sunday, the average age for the 15 apostles will be 76.14, with 8 of the 15 (slightly more than 50%) being younger than the average. We have two, or possibly 3 apostles ailing in health (Presidents Monson and Eyring and Elder Hales), with the oldest apostle (President Nelson) still being vibrant and very much involved in Church business, by all reports.

It will be interesting to see what happens with the Brethren as time passes. Some will pass away, and others, younger or not, will be called. As I have mentioned before in previous posts, with the health of 2 First Presidency members being uncertain, it may be decided to call an additional counselor to assist in the workload. If that happens, as I have said, I believe that Elder Bednar is the man who will be called, thus lowering the average age of the First Presidency, which in turn would result in a vacancy in the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, which could then be filled by another man, possibly younger, and possibly even non-American. With what we have seen happen with the "changing of the guard", nothing would surprise me at this point.

In the meantime, I wanted to post some information about where President Monson stands among the other 15 Church presidents in terms of age and tenure length, and where President Nelson stands among the other Presidents of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles in tenure length, and also his nonagenarian rank among the 17 nonagenarian apostles in Church history.

First to President Monson's statistics as Church President. As of Sunday, he will have served as Church President for 8 years, 9 months, and 10 days. On that day, he will be 89 years, 2 months, and 23 days. He is the 16th prophet in terms of tenure chronology and birth chronology. He is the 9th longest serving Church President, and won't break the record for 8th longest serving prophet until June 30, 2017; in so doing he will replace Wilford Woodruff, having served for 9 years, 4 months, and 27 days. In terms of age rank, he is the 7th oldest man to serve as prophet, and will only become the 6th oldest on Friday March 30, 2018; by so doing he will replace Spencer W. Kimball, being 90 years, 7 months, and 9 days at that date. Barring a miracle, it is very unlikely he will live to become the oldest living prophet, (as he would have to live until March 26, 2025 in order to do so). We can also rule out the possibility of him living to become the longest tenured prophet in Church history because to do so, he would have to live until Friday October 6, 2037. He would be 110 years old by this time.

As for President Nelson's statistics, he is the 27th President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, and as of Sunday, he will have served as such for 1 year, 4 months, and 10 days, making him the 23td longest-serving Quorum President in Church history. He will quickly jump to the 22nd spot on Monday December 27 of this year; in so doing he will replace Spencer W. Kimball. Two days later, he will have the distinction of being the 21st longest serving Quorum President, taking the spot now held by Brigham Young Jr., having by that date served for 1 year, 5 months, and 26 days. Interestingly enough, Brigham Young Jr. holds the distinction of serving twice as Quorum President. His second tenure (the shortest one) will be the one President Nelson will pass on that day.

As for age, among our 17 nonagenarian apostles, currently President Nelson is the 10th oldest, being 92 years, 2 months, and 4 days old. He will assume the 9th oldest spot on Wednesday July 5 of next year, taking the spot currently held by L. Tom Perry. If he lives until Monday August 8, 2022, he will pass David B. Haight to become the oldest living apostle in Church history. I could definitely see that happening, though it is anyone's guess how long he will live. It may be that he could very well live to become the first centenarian apostle, which will happen on Monday September 9, 2024. That would be incredible to see, a first for Church history. I also see him becoming the next prophet, as President Monson, though a little less than three years younger than him, is reportedly not in good health and is feeling the affects of his age.

As I have before noted, if they live that long, two more apostles (President Monson and Elder Ballard) would bring the list of nonagenarians up to 19. I also have tables showing when and how long it will be until each apostle under 90 to join the nonagenarian list.

If any of you want more information, or if there are any requests to see how I track all this information, just let me know in the comments.

Thanks for taking time to read this post.

Friday, November 11, 2016

Idaho Falls Idaho Temple Rededication Scheduled/Updated Temple Construction Status Report and List of Upcoming temple-related events

The First Presidency today announced the open house and rededication dates for the Idaho Falls Idaho Temple, the 8th operating temple of the Church. Originally dedicated in 1945 by President George Albert Smith in one of his first official actions as the 8th President of the Church, the temple has been undergoing extensive renovation since March of last year. Click here for more details about what went on during the renovation. The public open house will be held for a period of five weeks between Saturday April 22-Saturday May 20 except for the Sundays of April 23 and 30 and May 7 and 14. A cultural celebration will be held on Saturday June 3. The temple will be dedicated in three sessions on Sunday June 4. Church services will be cancelled that day for all units within the temple district to allow appropriate focus on the rededication.

With this announcement, the question arises: Who might be asked to preside at this rededication? Of the 15 apostles that could do it, the two most likely candidates are President Henry B. Eyring (who formerly served as a president of Ricks College) or, if President Eyring can't be there due to his or his wife's health issues, Elder David A. Bednar, who served as president of Ricks College during the time it transitioned to BYU-Idaho, and who has already had one experience dedicating a temple (the Star Valley Wyoming Temple).

I would just like to make an observation before posting updated lists of upcoming temple-related events and an updated temple-related progress report. Living in the last days, we are witness not only to the aging of the leading brethren of the Church but also the marvelous fulfillment of the promise that the Lord is sanctifying their spirits to the renewal of their bodies. The Lord controls how His Church passes from one group of apostles to another, and we are truly blessed to witness not only the mortal release of each of them at the right time but also the appointment of equally remarkable brethren to fill those vacancies. It will always interest me to see what happens with the "changing of the guard", as it were. I will post this weekend with the latest apostolic age averages.

That being said, here are the updated lists: first an updated temple progress report, and finally an updated list of temple-related events. As always, I welcome feedback and comments of any kind below. Thanks for your readership.

Temple Construction Progress Report (current as of 11/11/16)
Current Temple Status: 154 operating; scheduled for dedication; 10 under construction; 1 scheduled for rededication; 2 undergoing renovation; 11 announced (With up to 3 that may soon have a groundbreaking scheduled).

Dedication scheduled:
155. Hartford Connecticut Temple: Preparing for dedication; dedication scheduled on Sunday November 20, 2016.
156. Paris France Temple: Interior work underway; open house and dedication dates announced; scheduled to be dedicated on Sunday May 21, 2017.

Under Construction:
157. Meridian Idaho Temple: Adding landscaping structures; installing fence posts and lamp posts; completion anticipated sometime in late 2017.
158. Cedar City Utah Temple: Installing sprinkler systems and planting bushes; installing window frames and art glass; completion anticipated sometime in late 2017.
159. Tucson Arizona Temple: Pouring concrete parking lot; adding landscaping structures; completion anticipated sometime in late 2017.
160. Rome Italy Temple: Interior work progressing; completion anticipated sometime in the first half of 2018.
161. Concepcion Chile Temple: Steeple framework going up; completion anticipated sometime in 2018.
162. Kinshasa Democratic Republic of the Congo Temple: Main level floors poured; completion anticipated sometime in 2018.
163. Durban South Africa Temple: Preparing to pour foundation; fencing west side of property; laying water lines; hydroseeding taking root; completion anticipated sometime in 2018.
164. Barranquilla Colombia Temple: Foundation walls going up; completion anticipated sometime in 2019.
165. Fortaleza Brazil Temple: Erecting structural framing; completion anticipated sometime in 2019.
166. Lisbon Portugal Temple: Removing asphalt from temple site; excavating for meeting house foundation; completion anticipated sometime in 2019.

Scheduled for rededication:
8. Idaho Falls Idaho Temple: Closed for renovation; finish work underway; rededication scheduled for Sunday June 4, 2017.

Undergoing Renovation:
20. Jordan River Utah Temple: Closed for renovation; rededication anticipated sometime in late 2017.
41. Frankfurt Germany Temple: Closed for renovation; rededication anticipated sometime in 2018.

Announced:
167.  Winnipeg Manitoba Temple: Permitting phase; temple fireside held September 11, 2016; groundbreaking anticipated in either late 2016 or early 2017.
168. Arequipa Peru Temple: General contractor selected; groundbreaking pending.
169. Rio de Janeiro Brazil Temple: Construction preparation phase; plans approved by local government; groundbreaking pending.
170. Urdaneta Philippines Temple: Planning and approval phase; awaiting official site announcement.
171. Port-au-Prince Haiti Temple: Planning and approval phase; awaiting official site announcement.
172. Bangkok Thailand Temple: Planning and approval phase; awaiting official site announcement.
173. Abidjan Ivory Coast Temple: Planning phase; awaiting official site announcement.
174. Quito Ecuador Temple: Planning phase; awaiting official site announcement.
175. Harare Zimbabwe Temple: Planning phase; awaiting official site announcement.
176. Belem Brazil Temple: Planning phase; awaiting official site announcement.
177. Lima Peru Los Olivos Temple: Planning phase; awaiting official site announcement.

Key:
Bolded numbers and text denote temples whose numbers already exists (for renovations), or is certain due to a scheduled dedication, as well as information that is certain, such as dedication or groundbreaking dates.
Italicized numbers and text denote temples whose numbers may change based on the order in which future dedications and groundbreakings are scheduled.
Underlined numbers and text denote temples whose numbers may change based on progress towards planning, approval, and groundbreaking.
Red text denotes changes from the last posted temple progress update.



2016
1.      Sunday November 20—Hartford Connecticut Temple Dedication (155 operating; 1 scheduled for dedication; 10 under construction; 3 undergoing renovation; 11 announced (Up to 3 temples may soon have a groundbreaking scheduled.))
NOTE: Since the health of the Brethren remains unclear, it is anyone’s guess who might be asked to preside at this dedication. Previous precedent indicates it may be any member of the First Presidency (with President Uchtdorf being the most likely candidate, as he is apparently the most functioning member of that body) or any of the apostles, as Elder Bednar presided at the last temple dedication.

2017
1.      Sunday May 21—Paris France Temple Dedication (156 operating; 10 under construction; 3 undergoing renovation; 11 announced (Up to 3 temples may soon have a groundbreaking scheduled.))
NOTE: Since the health of the Brethren remains unclear, it is anyone’s guess who might be asked to preside at this dedication. Previous precedent indicates it may be any member of the First Presidency (with President Uchtdorf being the most likely candidate, as he is apparently the most functioning member of that body) or any of the apostles.
2.      Sunday June 4—Idaho Falls Idaho Temple Rededication (156 operating; 10 under construction; 2 undergoing renovation; 11 announced (Up to 3 temples may soon have a groundbreaking scheduled.))

NOTE: Since the health of the brethren remains unclear, it is anyone’s guess who might be asked to preside at this dedication. If President Eyring, a former Ricks College president, is able to be there, he might be assigned to do so. Since Elder Bednar, a former BYU-Idaho president, has been previously assigned to preside at a temple dedication, he might be asked to return for this rededication.