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Saturday, December 31, 2016

Happy New Year 2017!

Hello, all! This is my first blog post of 2017 (which, through circumstances beyond my control, was written early enough to technically be viewed as my last post for 2016). As I commemorate the start of yet another year, my heat swells with gratitude to realize just how far I've come as a blogger since this time last year. 2016 was a big year for me in terms of blogging. I covered a variety of topics, including personal news and updates, some political and world developments, and so many milestone posts about Church growth and development, with special emphasis on various temple-related posts. There have been unnumbered temple construction progress reports, lots of posts regarding possible future temple sites, and even a few related to when future temple events might be announced and scheduled. It was during 2016 that I was advised, much to my great astonishment, that my blog was one of the top Google search results in terms of such future developments. That is gratifying, humbling, and more than a little terrifying. As I have explained many times in the past, I have been instructed in my patriarchal blessing that my life's purpose is to lift and encourage others, and I feel that my best way to do that is to keep the world informed about developments and news about the Church I have loved since I was old enough to know I could gain my own testimony of the truthfulness of the gospel. Through my extensive gospel study, I have come to know for myself, with unshakable certainty, that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the Lord's Church, and that the work done within, by and through the Church is the Lord's work. He is in full control of all facets of this great work, and miracles have not ceased to happen. Thoughout my life, I have been the very unworthy recipient of far more miracles than I can count, and because of that, I know that there is a purpose behind everything we experience in our lives, and there are few if any so-called coincidences. While we all do have the absolute freedom to determine how we will live our lives, whe we turn ourselves and the events of our lives over to the capabale hands of the Lord, He can sanctify any experiences we may have for our good. Since the Savior willingly paid the price to redeem us from the effects of our transgressions, and since He has borne all of our trials, we do not walk alone in our lives. The greatest miracle of all is the softening and changing of the human heart. I have had that change of heart in many ways. My experiences, such as they have been, have served to bring me closer to the Lord. And because of my closeness to Him, I feel a solemn obligation to bear the witness and testimony I have and to share that with the world. The Ensign article I was able to write and which I had published in 2015 was one such opportunity to do so. And, especially lately, this blog has become another outlet to continue doing so. I am humbled and very grateful for the success which I have achieved. I am also continually touched by people who have told me they take time to regularly read my blog. And when I think that some who have read my blog take time to comment on almost everything I post, especially when added to those who have requested my friendship on Facebook as a result of simply getting to know me here.

And so, it is with that sense of gratitude and sense of obligation that I feel to share my witness with the world, even in this small way, that I look forward to continuing in the traditions which I have recently established here as a blogger.  I anxiously await word of the developments with the Church that will no doubt happen in terms of general Church news and events and also everything we will see in terms of temple construction progress and events. You can depend on hearing about these developments as soon as I hear word of them, provided there are no obstacles preventing me from doing so. Thank you so much. Happy New Year! Stay tuned for much more in the not-too-distant future.

Construction has formally begun on the actual temple in Lisbon Portugal

According to a comment made on an earlier post I did here regarding temple construction progress, it appears that construction has formally begun on the actual temple in Lisbon Portugal. Up until now, they have been clearing the site there and working on the construction of the meetinghouse and maintenance building. This information is new enough (the comment that was posted on an earlier blog post here early yesterday in the afternoon) that the only reason the one making the comment about it knew of it was through the Facebook page for that temple. This information has yet to be updated on Rick Satterfield's website, but I expect that to happen perhaps before the new year. That being said, what a year it has been for temple milestones! Most of the posts I have done this year have been temple-related. Not sure of the exact number, but it is staggering to think of how far we have come within that time. In the interests of following the tradition of looking back at the events of this year, I have decided to see if I can post two different versions of my temple progresss report, the first from the first one I posted this year, the second from the one posted most recently. Enjoy the progress!

Temple Construction Progress (current as of 1/21/16)
Current Temple Status: 149 operating, 14 under construction, 10 announced, 4 undergoing renovation.
                           
Dedication scheduled:
150. Provo City Center Temple: Public open house tours underway; scheduled to be dedicated Sunday March 20, 2016.
151. Sapporo Japan Temple: Exterior floodlighting operational; work progressing on interior; scheduled to be dedicated Sunday August 21, 2016.
152. Philadelphia Pennsylvania Temple: Angel Moroni installed on December 30, 2015; scheduled to be dedicated Sunday September 18, 2016.
                    
Under Construction:
153. Fort Collins Colorado Temple: Sod laying and landscaping continues; completion anticipated in late 2016.
154. Hartford Connecticut Temple: Angel Moroni installed on December 11, 2015; attaching stone cladding; completion anticipated in late 2016.
155. Rome Italy Temple: Spire framework attached to both towers; completion anticipated in late 2016—early 2017.
156. Paris France Temple: Attachment of exterior stone cladding nearing completion; completion anticipated in late 2016—early 2017.
157. Star Valley Wyoming Temple: Steeple assembly installed; attaching exterior cladding; completion anticipated in late 2016—early 2017.
158. Meridian Idaho Temple: Installing windows; work progressing on interior; completion anticipated in mid-to-late 2017.
159. Cedar City Utah Temple: Structural framing rising; completion anticipated in late 2017.
160. Tucson Arizona Temple: Foundation walls going up; completion anticipated in late 2017—early 2018.
161. Concepcion Chile Temple: Laying foundation; completion anticipated in late 2018.
162. Lisbon Portugal Temple: Ground broken on Saturday December 5, 2015; completion anticipated in late 2018.
163. Fortaleza Brazil Temple: Full-scale construction pending; completion date TBD (To be determined).

Groundbreaking scheduled:
164. Kinshasa Democratic Republic of the Congo Temple: Preparing for groundbreaking ceremony; groundbreaking scheduled for Friday February 12, 2016.
165. Barranquilla Colombia Temple: Preparing for groundbreaking ceremony; groundbreaking scheduled for Saturday February 20, 2016.

Rededication scheduled:
91. Suva Fiji Temple: Closed for renovation; scheduled to be rededicated Sunday February 21, 2016.
33. Freiberg Germany Temple: Closed for renovation; adding extension;
steeple covered; scheduled to be rededicated Sunday September 4, 2016.

Undergoing Renovation:
8. Idaho Falls Idaho Temple: Closed for renovation; interior remodeling underway; rededication anticipated in late 2016.
41. Frankfurt Germany Temple: Closed for renovation; rededication anticipated in mid-2017.

Renovation scheduled:
20. Jordan River Utah Temple: Scheduled to close for renovation on February 15, 2016.

Announced:
166. Arequipa Peru Temple: Construction preparation phase; groundbreaking pending.
167. Winnipeg Manitoba Temple: Planning and approval phase; groundbreaking pending.
168. Rio de Janeiro Brazil Temple: Planning and approval phase; groundbreaking pending.
169. Port-au-Prince Haiti Temple: Planning phase.
170. Bangkok Thailand Temple: Planning phase.
171. Urdaneta Philippines Temple: Planning and approval phase; awaiting official site announcement.
172. Durban South Africa Temple: Planning and approval phase; awaiting official site announcement.
173. Abidjan Ivory Coast Temple: Planning phase; awaiting official site announcement.

Temple Construction Progress Report (current as of 12/31/16)
Current Temple Status: 155 operating; scheduled for dedication; 11 under construction; scheduled 1 scheduled for rededication; 2 undergoing renovation; 10 announced; (NOTE: Up to 3 additional temples may soon have a groundbreaking announced).

Dedication scheduled:
156. Paris France Temple: Exterior lighting system operating; interior work underway; scheduled to be dedicated on Sunday May 21, 2017.

Under Construction:
157. Meridian Idaho Temple: Light fixtures hung; interior trim underway; completion anticipated sometime in late 2017.
158. Cedar City Utah Temple: Fencing progressing; entrance plaza created; landscaping areas defined; hanging drywall; completion anticipated sometime in late 2017.
159. Tucson Arizona Temple: Pouring walkways; erecting fencing; installing art glass windows; hanging drywall; completion anticipated sometime in late 2017.
160. Rome Italy Temple: Interior work progressing; completion anticipated sometime in early-to-mid 2018.
161. Kinshasa Democratic Republic of the Congo Temple: Building the exterior walls; completion anticipated sometime in early-to-mid 2018.
162. Concepcion Chile Temple: Attaching building wrap to exterior walls; adding landscaping structures; completion anticipated sometime in mid-2018.
163. Durban South Africa Temple: Pouring temple foundation; setting rebar for missionary housing walls; palm trees planted along entrance road; completion anticipated sometime in mid-2018.
164. Barranquilla Colombia Temple: Pouring walls for steeple base; completion anticipated sometime between late 2018 and early 2019.
165. Winnipeg Manitoba Temple: Groundbreaking held Saturday December 3, 2016; completion anticipated sometime between late 2018 and early 2019.
166. Fortaleza Brazil Temple: Pouring the second floor exterior walls; completion anticipated sometime in 2019.
167. Lisbon Portugal Temple: Excavating for temple underway; structural framing continues for meetinghouse; excavation continues on maintenance building; 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 between late 2017 and early 2018.
41. Frankfurt Germany Temple: Closed for renovation; some exterior stone removed; foundation exposed; old meetinghouse razed; rededication anticipated sometime between early and mid 2018.

Announced:
168. Harare Zimbabwe Temple: Approval and construction preparation phase; official site announcement anticipated in early 2017, with the groundbreaking anticipated to take place shortly following the site announcement.
169.  Rio de Janeiro Brazil Temple: Governmental approval phase; preliminary environmental license issued in November 2016; groundbreaking pending.
170. Arequipa Peru Temple: General contractor selected; groundbreaking pending.
171. Urdaneta Philippines Temple: Planning and approval phase; awaiting official site announcement.
172. Port-au-Prince Haiti Temple: Planning and approval phase; awaiting official site announcement.
173. Bangkok Thailand Temple: Planning and approval phase; awaiting official site announcement.
174. Abidjan Ivory Coast Temple: Planning phase; awaiting official site announcement.
175. Quito Ecuador 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 report.


My theory about changes in the Europe East Area Presidency

In the midst of comments on the LDS Church Growth Blog recently, the death of Elder Bruce D. Porter was discussed. The topic was raised about who might have succeeded him and how that may have factored in to the reorganization of that area presidency. I made a comment to the effect that, in my many years of following such changes, often the First Counselor becomes the new President, and the Second Counselor becomes the new First Counselor, with a new Second Counselor called. If the reorganization of that presidency happens that way, then Elder James B. Martino has become the president succeeding Elder Porter, Elder Larry S. Kacher has become the new First Counselor, succeeding Elder Martino, and a new Second Counselor has been called from among the General Authority Seventies remaining, even if that means that some other assignments at Church headquarters have had to be reshuffled. I imagine that any changes that have taken place will be announced within the next few days. But I honestly don't know whether the funeral for Elder Porter may be arranged and take place before any such announcement is made public. What I have proposed here would be perfectly in line with what has happened in such reorganizations in the past. For what it's worth, those are my thoughts. Thanks for being so attentive to my posts. I wildl try to do a couple more posts I have in mind before the New  Year, but since that is less tahn 21 hours away, your guess is as good as mine as far as if that will happen. Thanks.

Friday, December 30, 2016

My very close call

Hello, all! The last couple of days have been personally hectic for me. I will explain that in a minute. But first, there was so much Church news yesterday what with the temple construction updates and the reported death of Elder Porter, and given the situation I have had in the last 24 hours, I have not been at liberty to blog about things until now.

Yesterday was a fairly good workday. I felt confident doing what I was doing, and the best part of yesterday was that the assistant account manager had a split shift, so even after Trent and my TL left for the day, by that time, she (her name is Jenny) was back, and she was able to stay the rest of the night.

Things went swimmingly . . .until about 8:15 PM. Due to some technical errors with my system that could not be resolved because our technical support staff had gone for the day, I was sent home. While I was getting ready to leave, Jenny talked to all of us that were representing the campaign. She said the agent company had come down very hard on Trent due to mistakes made by the ROI agents who represented the agent company. The situation was bad enough that they were threatening to pull the contract.

While I had been assured by Jenny when she shared this news that even if our contract with the campaign ended, they would try to find another campaign at the Lindon ROI for me, I had that all-too-familiar knot in my stomach about the stressful nature of the situation. As instructed, I went home at about 8:45 since the issues with my system would not be cleared up until today when the technicians could handle it.

When Amy came to pick me up, I told her about the situation. She waited until we were home to ask me about it further. Her fear was that I would lose this job within the same week of getting it. I had been assured by Jenny that there was a learning curve for the job,, and that any errors I had made were due to not being properly trained on how to handle them, and that this would be a consideration in determining my fate, regardless of the outcome with the campaign.

Shortly after we arrived back home, Amy asked me how I was handling this. Putting a brave face on it, I told her I was fine. But I couldn't look her in the eye while saying so. When she told me to repeat that while we had eye contact, I couldn't. I had a meltdown right then and there. She held me tight and let me know that whatever happened with work, she was here for me.

One thing I have always been able to count on during the last 6+ years is Amy's ability to calm me down and reassure me. She has never once failed to do so. She encouraged me to pray right then and there for the Lord's blessings in our situation.

As I followed her advice, I became convinced that everything would be okay. I felt an overwhelming sense of peace. I was able to enjoy the rest of the day and get to sleep with relative ease, albeit in the early morning hours.

I had no end of trouble waking up and getting going today, but I still managed to arrive at work on time. When I got here, I received additional training from Trent and from my TL. Latitude had been extended to me because of the learning curve. Some of my coworkers, with whom I formed a good bond in a short time, were not as lucky unfortunately. I am hoping beyond hope that nothing I did led to their termination. Time will tell.

In the meantime, with the retraining, I was able to handle things so much better today. It was a wonderful day. There were system issues, but I had no issues learning from my mistakes and changing my behavior accordingly. If only everything could be resolved so easily!

Well, FWIW, that's my report of the latest personal happenings. Another bullet dodged. I am one of the luckiest men alive. That said, the time has come for me to leave for the day. Thanks to you all for your interest, concern, and support. Any comments continue to be welcome and appreciated. Thanks for your readership and support.

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Temple Construction Progress Report

Given all that has happened today between work and personal stuff, I was only able to make my first daily check of the LDS Church Temples site a few moments ago. I was amazed and overjoyed to read of the progress that has taken place since my last posted update. This blog post will serve to let you all know the latest developments on that front. Enjoy, and .let me know what you think.

Temple Construction Progress Report (current as of 12/29/16)
Current Temple Status: 155 operating; scheduled for dedication; 11 under construction; scheduled for rededication; 2 undergoing renovation; 10 announced; (NOTE: Up to 3 additional temples may soon have a groundbreaking announced).

Dedication scheduled:
156. Paris France Temple: Exterior lighting system operating; interior work underway; scheduled to be dedicated on Sunday May 21, 2017.

Under Construction:
157. Meridian Idaho Temple: Light fixtures hung; interior trim underwaycompletion anticipated sometime in late 2017.
158. Cedar City Utah Temple: Fencing progressing; entrance plaza created; landscaping areas defined; hanging drywall; completion anticipated sometime in late 2017.
159. Tucson Arizona Temple: Pouring walkways; erecting fencing; installing art glass windows; hanging drywall; completion anticipated sometime in late 2017.
160. Rome Italy Temple: Interior work progressing; completion anticipated sometime in early-to-mid 2018.
161. Kinshasa Democratic Republic of the Congo Temple: Building the exterior walls; completion anticipated sometime in early-to-mid 2018.
162. Concepcion Chile Temple: Attaching building wrap to exterior walls; adding landscaping structures; completion anticipated sometime in mid-2018.
163. Durban South Africa Temple: Pouring temple foundation; setting rebar for missionary housing walls; palm trees planted along entrance road; completion anticipated sometime in mid-2018.
164. Barranquilla Colombia Temple: Pouring walls for steeple base; completion anticipated sometime between late 2018 and early 2019.
165. Winnipeg Manitoba Temple: Groundbreaking held Saturday December 3, 2016; completion anticipated sometime between late 2018 and early 2019.
166. Fortaleza Brazil Temple: Pouring the second floor exterior walls; completion anticipated sometime in 2019.
167. Lisbon Portugal Temple: Structural framing underway for meetinghouse;  excavating for maintenance building; temple site cleared; 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 between late 2017 and early 2018.
41. Frankfurt Germany Temple: Closed for renovation; some exterior stone removed; foundation exposed; old meetinghouse razed; rededication anticipated sometime between early and mid 2018.

Announced:
168. Harare Zimbabwe Temple: Approval and construction preparation phase; official site announcement anticipated in early 2017, with the groundbreaking anticipated to take place shortly following the site announcement.
169.  Rio de Janeiro Brazil Temple: Governmental approval phase; preliminary environmental license issued in November 2016; groundbreaking pending.
170. Arequipa Peru Temple: General contractor selected; groundbreaking pending.
171. Urdaneta Philippines Temple: Planning and approval phase; awaiting official site announcement.
172. Port-au-Prince Haiti Temple: Planning and approval phase; awaiting official site announcement.
173. Bangkok Thailand Temple: Planning and approval phase; awaiting official site announcement.
174. Abidjan Ivory Coast Temple: Planning phase; awaiting official site announcement.
175. Quito Ecuador 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.

General Authority Seventy Bruce D. Porter Dies at 64

Sad news today from the LDS Church. Bruce D. Porter, a General Authority Seventy since 1995, who was 64, died today at home as a result of complications from a severe pulmonary infection. He had been reassigned to Church headquarters earlier this month after his health rendered him unable to continue his assignment as president of the Europe Area of the Church. It may just have been incident to age. Elder Porter is the second actively serving General Authority Seventy to pass away this year. The first was Elder Per G. Malm, the first native Swiss General Authority. Elder Malm passed away on July 26.

Getting back to Elder Porter, I always loved listening to him speak during General Conference. His messages always struck me on a personal level. He will be greatly missed.

Though I do not believe anyone from his family will ever read this, my heartfelt condolences go out to the family of Elder Porter as they mourn his passing and celebrate his life. To read more about the life of this remarkable man, please click here. If any of you would like to review his 4 amazing talks given in General Conference over the years, click here.

Thanks to you all for your interest, readership and support.

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Temple Construction Progress Developments for Two Temples

After five days of no major temple construction progress developments, I checked on the LDS Church Temples site during my last few minutes of work, then again when I came home. I was amazed at the developments that have taken place with two temples. In Barranquilla Colombia, where the temple is anticipated to be completed either in late 2018 or early 2019, walls are being poured for the steeple base. In the meantime, at the Lisbon Portugal temple site (where construction is anticipated to be completed sometime during 2019), structural framing is underway for the meetinghouse that will reside on temple grounds, and they are also excavating for the maintenance building and the temple site has been completely cleared of all debris that would prevent consturction from moving forward.

With these developments announced, I am not sure how likely it is that any further progress or temple construction milestones will be reported by the end of this year. But you can count on my keeping track of such developments and doing everything in my power to report them as soon as I can after learning of them.

Thanks to you all for your continued interest and expressions of sympathy and support. Any and all comments are welcome and appreciated.

Third Workday: First Full Day on the Phones

Hello, all. My work shift is almost over tonight. After resolving several issues today, I am finally able to post with a report on how my first official day on the phones has gone. It's been quite a wild ride.

Even though I got out of bed when my alarm rang today, I still had trouble getting going. I was able to get some things done, though. And all too soon, the time arrived to leave for work.

When I got to work today, my team leader advised me that we were mainly getting the most basic types of call we deal with. And even though this first day on the phones has been busy enough, it has still been mild compared to what is normal call volume. I learned a lot today, and it's been a very good one.

The main problem for me is that my supervisor Trent, his assistant Jenny, and my TL are all scheduled earlier on in the day. It appears that on Wednesdays, for the span of roughly the last 5 hours of the shift, I am momentarily the one and only person manning the phones for this branch of the campaign.

I have had plenty of good conversations. I had received hands-on training from all three people mentioned above. And even though manning the campaign alone meant there wasn't really anyone to ask for advice and help for the last few hours, it hasn't been too much of a problem. For a while, I forgot about being taught how to set up callbacks for the job, but I was able to have my memory refreshed.

I also felt a little stupid. As those who know me best will tell you, I at various times have had trouble with appropriately modulating my voice. This became a problem today. I am hoping beyond hope that I seemed louder to myself than I actually was. Time will tell. And I am fully prepared for an appropriate tongue lashing if it is necessary.

I did get several compliments today on my excellent customer service. I hope that will work to my favor. It has been a most amazing day, and I am so thankful to have been able to be a part of it.

I had some major problems with headaches, nausea, and vertigo today, but I didn't let that stop me. I have stuck it out for my entire shift. And now there are less than 5 minutes until I can go home.

I am so grateful to be back to earning a living for my family. The fact of my working again has (not surprisingly) improved both the outlook and the mood of Amy and myself. It is so amazing to be back in the saddle again, and I couldn't be more grateful to have this opportunity. Thanks to you all for your interest, concern, and support.

As always, any and all comments are welcome and most appreciated. Thanks.

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Report of Second Workday

Hello, all! Once again, it was a busy day. Today I woke up early and made phone calls. I got almost everything addressed that I needed to, including getting doctor's appointments rescheduled. Most importantly, I was able to call about the error with my anniversary gift to Amy. The company representative I talked to was very sympathetic. She apologized profusely for the error, said we could keep the wrong set as a complimentary gift, and said she was sending out the correct set at no charge. So that was good. I wasn't able to call to get a status update on how close we were to getting Amy on the health insurance I have. That I will have to save until tomorrow.

Because I was so tied up getting things resolved and phoning people, I barely had time to eat breakfast. But I knew I would be coming home a few hours later, so that wasn't a problem. I did have to throw everything I needed for work together in a rush to get out the door.

Due to traffic and my running late, even with the shorter commute, I was a few minutes late for work. But I got right into things. Through talking to Trent and my TL, I was able to gain access to all the systems I needed to do my job. But as I read through the script for the different phone calls, I had some trouble understanding the flow. I brought this to my TL's attention. She was kind enough to rewrite the confusing parts for me, but I still felt insecure. Since the other trainee was likewise confused and uncertain, she volunteered to demonstrate how to do the job.

But another part of this job that will be a mixed blessing is that the call volume is inconsistent. From what I observed today, it seems that call volume is fairly mild (with long intervals between each call) and that somehow, the calls in the queue are not evenly distributed. So I honestly don't know how busy I personally might be. But that's yet to be determined. I now know more about the job than I did yesterday.

Once again, my day ended early. I start on the phones with my full-length shift tomorrow. And I feel ready for it, especially since I got mostly everything settled. One problem I encountered is a minor issue, but one that I am doing my best to get addressed. The other people assigned to my campaign seem very nice. They all introduced themselves to me and let me know they would do anything they could to help me adjust to things. However, most of them appear to be very heavy smokers, and the stench of the residual smell of smoke was severe enough that it caused me to have both an asthmatic and allergic reaction. It didn't help that this applied to most of the group I am working with. They even spoke about taking a smoke break as a group as I was leaving today. I advised Trent of the problem, and he promised to work on it. I just hope I don't get anyone in trouble. Some of the nicest people I know from my previous experience at ROI are smokers, but they hide the scent well, and they are very kind to me. My own brother has picked up smoking, which is a constant worry, but he has the decency to cover up the smell and not do it when he is around us. I tried my best to indicate to Trent that I had no desire to get anyone in trouble, but that the situation would be problematic for me. He sent me a very kind text in reply saying he was sorry about that, that he hoped I was okay, and taht he would try and work something out.

The one good thing about getting this job at this time is that it sounds like, among all of my coworkers, I have a real shot at becoming one of the most diligent employees assigned to the campaign. This is a goal which I indicated to Trent I would do my best to achieve. And it's not because the rest of the people on the campaign are lazy or inefficient. To the contrary, despite the obvious difference that I do not and never will smoke (as it would probably kill me, assuming I even had any inclination to do so), they seem to be a good group. And they seem to respect taht I am different and also to be mindful of what I'm dealing with. So I hope all of that will be taken into account when anything is decided about how to further handle my unique circumstances. I will keep you posted.

In the meantime, I had been hoping to do another blog post containing a massive Church news update, but in view of my fatigue (borne of the stress of the day and the close contact I had with smokers), it will have to wait for a day or two.

But one thing I did want to mention. My sister Joanna and her family headed out for Maine @ around 4 am. Joanna, if you read this, I hope you will have a safe journey. We will look forward to hearing of your adventures and seeing your family again this summer. Bon voyage!

As for the rest of you, thank you for reading all of my posts, and I hope that whatever I have to say about my life or the Church continues to interest you all. I look forward to much more blogging in the future. Today, I was still adjusting to my job. But as things evolve, I anticipate fully being able to report on all such developments with greater diligence and accuracy than every before.

Thanks so much for your interest and support. I appreciate all of you. Any comments or other feedback of any kind are welcome.


Monday, December 26, 2016

My first workday

Contrary to what I had supposed, today, which marked my return to employment, turned out vastly different than I could have every anticipated. Since I have time to do so, I wanted to report on what's happened.

I was able to get up early enough to make the phone calls and to look into things that I needed. However, much to my frustration, many of those whom I tried to call were closed in observance of the Christmas holiday. I was able to have plenty of time to pray soon after waking up, and that was wonderful. I also had time for quite a good breakfast, which I have not been able to do for a while. I was ready in well enough time. I went in to work. Directly as I got to the door, Trent walked out, letting me know that, if I would take a seat in the lobby, my team leader (TL) would be there shortly to train me. While I was waiting, I got to meet one of my coworkers, who is from Hawaii. He will be working the graveyard shift, so I probably won't see him a lot. But he seems like a very nice guy.

Our TL soon arrived on the scene and took us back to talk about what the job would involve. Much to my surprise and delight, the bulk of our brief training was to remind us of ROI's policies on attendance, pay, the campaign, and what would be allowed during down time (of which she indicated there would be a fair amount). Much to my surprise, I was gratified to learn that. as long as we weren't on sites that stream (YouTube, TV shows, etc.), anything else was fine. In my case, this means that I will be able to do my normal multiple checks during the day of my favorite websites, Church-related and otherwise. She also indicated that Facebook use was allowed.

In training us for the job, she describe three types of calls we would be dealing with (being able to do both inbound and outbound calls, which are automated and therefore will come unless we are not in a ready status with our phone systems. She also said that, while we should clock out for lunch every day, as long as our breaks weren't longer than about 10 minutes, we could stay clocked in. Breaks are paid in this case.

When me and my coworker that started today were unable to start on the phones (because we might have had the incorrect login information for some of the systems we will be using), we spent the time just chatting and getting to know each other, our team leader, and some of our surrounding coworkers. While my coworkers said they appreciated the fact that I was a Latter-day Saint and that my religion is so much a part of my life, not many of them share my faith. In fact, the conversation around me mostly centered today on tattoo styles, getting them and having them removed, and the personal significance behind some of the tattoos they've gotten in the past. There was also talk of relationships. I was able to talk about how I met Amy, and even was able to show them a picture of her. They all said she was really beautiful. This is one of the few opinions I share in common with my coworkers. In fact, I have a hard time believing that she loves me enough to stay married to me, especially given how stupid, irresponsible, and selfish I have been at times.

While we were chatting, Trent called my TL and asked to speak to me. He said he was pleased to see that I had made it, and that he wanted to make sure that the campaign was still going to be a good fit for me. I assured him that it would be.

There wasn't all that much to do today with the phones down. Much to my surprise and great delight, I learned that, in view of the holiday, ROI was closing early for the next few days. I got off work at 4, three hours after my arrival. Tomorrow will be another short day, and tomorrow and the day after will be business casual, which is what I typically come to work in anyways. And I am not worried about not getting paid for the early work shift end. It will just be a great blessing to have money coming in again.

And happily, the way it works with my SSI is that there will be a two-month lag between my starting the job and any reduction in my SSI amount. Our food stamp amount might be lowered more immediately than that. It may be adjusted before my wages are factored in anyways. I was told there was a possible slight reduction in EBT benefits as a result of the annual COLA (Cost-of-living adjustment; my SSI for 2017 will thus be a mere $2 more than it was last year. And I honestly don't know how my wages will factor in to any reduction of my SSI amount. The situation of any money coming in affecting that SSI amount has been an ongoing problem. It seems that we can never break even: the SSI is such a small amount that it's not enough on its own to carry us through a month, and unless I can work well enough to allow us to be compensated for the SSI money that the wages take away, we still might have some problems. But I do finally anticipate us being able to make some major headway towards paying off some of our debts and allowing us to get back on our feet financially to the best of our ability.

I admittedly didn't sleep well last night, and the stress and continual worry I have had about our situation, on top of the stress and worry surrounding starting this job today, not to mention the lack of sleep, gave me a really horrendous headache. But now that I am done with my first day and know beyond doubt, rather than merely believing, that this truly will be a great opportunity for me, and that I can do it, I expect to sleep much better tonight. And the stress headache itself should be gone within a day or two.

Today confirmed beyond doubt what I had tried to believe but which I couldn't quite convince myself: This will be an easy, wonderful opportunity. And I will be able to handle it with little or no inconvenience to myself. I only hope I will prove to Trent that he has made the right decision in giving me another chance.

After the way this all came together, how can I call the whole scenario anything less than the absolute miracle that it is? I have so much for which to be grateful. But I am particularly grateful for my sweet wife Amy, who has stuck with me all this time in spite of the many things I have done that might have caused a lesser woman to doubt the sincerity of my love and the honor of my intentions. And I owe her a great debt of gratitude for not giving up on me ever, and for continually giving me every chance (whether I have earned it or not) to improve myself.

And so, having the first day under my belt, I am determined to progress and be the very best employee I can be. I hope that, as in the past, I will become known for having a strong work ethic and that I can be trusted to be reliable and to serve the best interests of those whom I am assisting.

Thanks so much for taking time to read this. It has been a most wonderful day. More to follow as I can post of such developments in the future. As always, any and all feedback is appreciated. Thanks for your readership and support.

First post-Christmas Post and Last Post Before New Job Starts: Apostolic Age Statistics

Hello, all! I hope you had a wonderful Christmas Day yesterday. My wife and I had the opportunity, even though we weren't able to make it to Church, to spend time with each of our sides of the family. It was wonderful. As usual, our family's gifts on both sides were very generous. Yesterday marked the last time I would have a chance to see my older sister Joanna, her husband Lyle, and their children Grant (age 7) and twins Caleb and Alexis (age 1) for the next short while. I was gratified to learn, however, that instead of being away from the family until the next holiday when they might be able to come back, their plans merely involve a winter/spring 2017 residency for Lyle in Maine, and that they will be back for the entire summer next year. Also, with Maine being much closer than St. Kitts, the likelihood of us being able to chat with them via Skype increases substantially.

In the meantime, since my new job starts later today (while most of the nation observes a day off for Christmas falling on a Sunday), this may be my last chance to blog until I get into the rhythm and routine of the work I will be doing. I couldn't think of a more fitting blog post topic for this reason than an update on the apostolic age averages, as has been my custom every week for the last little while.

As of Christmas Day yesterday, the First Presidency average age was 83.02 years, while the average age of the members of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles was 74.57, and the average for the 15 as a group was 76.26 years. There have been no significant changes from the last report in terms of who is closest to each of these averages.

Also, just by way of future milestones I am looking forward to, President Nelson will jump up two spots in his tenure length as President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles just within this next week, assuming the rank of 22nd longest serving Quorum President on Tuesday (tomorrow; passing Spencer W. Kimball) and 21st longest serving Quorum President two days later (this Thursday; passing the second and shortest tenure of Brigham Young Jr.'s two separate service periods as Quorum President). There are no other foreseeable changes in age ranks and tenure lengths for President Nelson or President Monson, nor will there be any change in President Nelson's noangenarian rank within this next week.

Well, as diverting and exciting as all this has been to report, it's time I take a serious look at wrapping things up in preparation for going to bed. I need to get as much of an early start as possible tomorrow given all I need to settle before starting work at 1 pm, to say nothing of what might happen during my first day at the Cedar Hills branch of ROI Solutions. I will see what regulations prevail for floor activities and evaluate at that time if I will be able to continue blogging as I previously did during down time at work. With the new project to which I will be assigned, nothing would surprise me.

Until I can blog again, thank you for your readership and support. Your prayers would be appreciated in my behalf as I adjust to the new schedule and to working again. Thanks.

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Problems with my anniversary gift to Amy

Dear readers, sorry to post again on Christmas Eve. I hate the thought that my regular posts may be distracting from the reason for the season and from your time with your families. But I would appreciate your continuing prayers in behalf of my wife Amy and myself.

Such prayers are needed because of two things: I recognize what a miracle the job I was able to get is, but I am having some doubts and fears about my ability to handle it well, especially since I have been having a lot of pain this weekend.

Only adding to this frustration is the problems I've encountered with the delivery of my anniversary gift for Amy. It was supposed to have been a jewelry set with an opal inlay. I thought it would be nice for her because opal is her mom's birthstone, and, as many  of you are aware, Amy lost her mom to complications of the incurable and untreatable type of MS she had since Amy was about 10. So, knowing that opal meant something to her, I planned my gift so it would hopefully get here before Christmas.

It arrived today. While she loves the appearance of the set I got her, the opal was not what was delivered to us. I have looked into the relevant return policies from the shipper, and it sounds as though, unless I can convince them to make an exception in my case because the error is on their part, I will have to pay through the teeth to get it returned, and it may be a hassle I don't need on top of everything else we are going through to get the correct one sent out.

I am hoping I can talk to someone from the company from which I purchased it before I go in for my first day of work on Monday and get something worked out, but with how much I've been having trouble sleeping and becoming alert when I have been able to force myself to wake up and get out of bed, I don't know if there will be time or energy on my part to get anything resolved on this before I go in for work for my first day on Monday. Additionally, I was informed by the automated system when I called today that, due to high holiday call volume expected during the first two days of the week, it would be wiser to hold off until Wednesday or later to call.

But I can't wait that long. I waited long enough for the thing to get here, and it is the company's fault entirely that they failed to send me what I actually ordered. I am hoping they will make allowances for their error in this case, since their negligence is not my fault, but this is a post-anniversary and Christmas hassle we just don't need on top of absolutely everything else that is going on.

And so, I would ask you all to keep me in your prayers that I might be able to successfully handle this great new job opportunity, and that I might be able to quickly resolve the situation with my anniversary gift to Amy as quickly and as painlessly as conveniently possible.

I also received word from one of my regular readers who also regularly comments on my blog posts, L. Chris Jones, that he has had reduced hours at work lately and is also in need of prayers. If all of you who read this could keep Amy and I and Chris in your prayers, it would mean more during this Christmas season than I can say. Thanks, as always, for your continued prayers and expressions of kindness, sympathy, understanding, and support.

Interesting Posts by Matthew Martinich and the ensuing discussions

Before Christmas, I just wanted to focus on some recent posts and resulting comments on Matthew Martinich's amazing LDS Church Growth Blog. The discussions have been most inspiring to follow.

The first post of which I wanted to make mention is about the Church taking root in Kurdistan, Iraq. The milestone nature of this growth is such that the Church has been able to further establish deeper roots in its Middle East/Africa North Area. Click here to read that amazing post.

In the meantime, Matt did another recent post to report on the growth of the Church in Nigeria. This year, that African nation has marked the milestone of having 500 Church units. Matt indicated in the comment thread of that post that, in his analysis of the unit growth there, he is reasonably certain that the number of Nigerian Church units will double within the next 9 years. That Church growth is most significant to think about.

And, as I observed in one comment I made in response to that post, this reported development only serves to strengthen my belief that a second Nigerian temple is imminent for announcement soon. There was a very good discussion on that thread on a variety of Church related topics, even sporadic reaction and response to President-elect Trump's invitation for the Tabernacle Choir to perform at his inauguration.

But another crucial topic was the history of Elder Joaquin E. Costa, who was sustained in April of this year as a General Authority Seventy. I had a curiosity question: Are the two Costa GA Seventies (Joaquin E. and Claudio R. M.) in any way related? I have found that most people from South American countries with identical last names are often related somehow, however distantly that may be. I will keep you posted on that. Click here for that post. Yet another interesting part of the comment Matt made on that thread was that he had heard from a newly-called mission president that any new Church missions that will be formed in 2017 will be announced in early January. I will keep my eyes and ears open for when that happens, and you can be sure I will focus on those new missions in a new blog post as soon as I know anything. That was another great post.

In another recent significant Church growth blog post, Matt mentioned that new stakes had been created in Arizona and India, which will be the last stakes created in 2016. Additionally, the nation of Cameroon has had a second district created recently. Read more here. There was mention made of a possible future temple in India, but Matt did venture his opinion (which I share) that any temple in India is not likely to happen within the next 15-20 years at least, assuming it happens within my lifetime at all. I commented on the fact that a temple in India wouldn't surprise me at all, especially if it unexpectedly happens within the next few years. The surprise nature associated with some of the temples that have recently been announced makes it almost impossible to rule out any future temple site as a possibility. Obviously, as I have stated on numerous occasions, there are the most imminent possibilities every time, but, more frequently than not, the Lord surprises us with an unexpected temple site announcement that could never have been anticipated. If there's one thing I've learned in following temple developments, it's that miracles happen, and that the Lord's ways and timing are so vastly different from ours.

The day before my birthday, Matt blogged about his November 2016 newsletter for his Church growth site cumorah.com was now available.

Among the topics discussed in the comments thread for that post have been the temple being built in Manitoba. the creation of the Utah Salt Lake City Headquarters Mission next year (the first official mission creation announced for 2017), unit creations recently announced, and an additional discussion regarding the idea of a temple for either India or Pakistan. likely future temple possibilities (including a rigorous discussion of the list I have posted here), the continued growth milestones of the Church in Honduras and Nicaragua. and a most informative discussion on the distance between temples in the United States (which proves that while getting a temple within a 200 mile radius someday for all Saints is a determining factor, but probably not the most deciding one). Click here for more on that post.

That wraps up this Christmas Eve post on the subject of Matt's recent posts. I may be doing another sometime within the next 24 hours covering the apostolic age averages as of tomorrow. If I don't get to it then, I will try to do so around the times when I will be working this week. Thanks, as always, for the interest, feedback, and support. Merry Christmas!

Refined projection for when temple-related events will be announced and scheduled

Surprise! Much sooner than I ever could have anticipated, I am posting now with my promised update to what I feel will be the most likely timeline prevailing in regards to when future temple-related events will be announced and scheduled. Based on information found on Rick Satterfield’s excellent LDS Church Temples website, I have taken yet another look at temples whose construction has progressed so rapidly recently, especially just within the last 48 hours.

As so many of you know, Rick made mention on his site recently that the announcement for the site of the Harare Zimbabwe Temple was likely to occur soon after the new year, with a groundbreaking to follow shortly thereafter. It is my belief that the site announcement will take place in early January, and that the groundbreaking will take place within the 4-6 weeks following the site announcement. However, it would not surprise me in the least if the groundbreaking took place sooner than that. I was amazed at what is sure to be known for the duration as the fastest interval between a groundbreaking announcement in Winnipeg and the groundbreaking itself: a mere 2½ weeks. And Harare holds the distinction in Church history of being the first temple outside the United States to have a groundbreaking within less than a year after the temple announcement.

And of course, in terms of imminent temple events, we cannot forget the already-scheduled dedication in Paris France on May 20 and the rededication on June 4 for the Idaho Falls Idaho Temple. Rick indicates to me that, as an Idaho resident who resides in Pocatello, he is pleased with the announced rededication and the prospect of a dedication in Meridian shortly thereafter, to say nothing of my listing Pocatello as the city I believe will be the site of the next temple in Idaho.

Speaking of the Meridian Idaho temple, light fixtures are being hung, and they are installing the interior trim. This strengthens my prediction that a dedication date for the Meridian Idaho Temple is likely to be announced within the next 3 or 4 months, and the dedication itself will likely happen in early August.

In Cedar City, fencing is progressing, an entrance plaza has been created, landscaping areas are being defined, and they are busy hanging drywall. Because of this, the dedication could be announced within the next six months, if not sooner, and might take place in late August or early September.

As I stated last time, Tucson is so close to Cedar City’s level of completion that they are neck-and-neck in terms of a future completion date. In Tucson, walkways are being poured, fencing and art glass windows are being installed, and, as with Cedar City, drywall is being hung. Again, it wouldn’t be surprising to me to see the Tucson and Cedar City dedications scheduled for around the same time, with an announcement of these events within 6 months and the actual events in late August or early September.

While progress has slowed enough in the renovation of the Jordan River Utah Temple to the point that Rick is now estimating that the rededication could happen either in late 2017 or early 2018, I am still holding out hope that the renovation could be completed around August, with the rededication being announced about a month later and scheduled for either late November or early December 2017. I would welcome any comments from anyone disagreeing with that idea, but I can’t shake the feeling that this is likely to happen then.

Regardless of my personal opinion on the possible continuing delays in getting the temple in Rome Italy completed, Rick’s estimation is that, even with no recent significant progress reported in the construction of that temple, it will be the first one completed in 2018, during either the early or middle part of that year. I wouldn’t be surprised if a dedication was announced during the spring of 2018, with the actual dedication to follow, perhaps sometime in May or June. I can see a similar timetable prevailing for the rededication of the Frankfurt Germany Temple (where some exterior stone has lately been removed, the foundation exposed, and the nearby meeting house razed) and the Kinshasa DR Congo Temple, which has its exterior walls built and has progressed to potentially be completed ahead of the Concepcion Chile Temple).

Concepcion, where building wrap has been attached to the exterior walls, and where landscaping structures are being added, will likely have a dedication announcement within the first half of 2018, with the dedication itself to follow sometime in either August or September, after the traditional yearly July recess for the general authorities has taken place.

The temple in Durban South Africa is having its foundation poured, while construction site workers are setting rebar for the walls of the on-site missionary housing, and palm trees are being planted along the roads to the entrance of the temple complex. Even with the delays I always anticipated in view of my mother’s report of the work ethic that prevails in South Africa, Rick seems to feel confident that the temple will be completed within a similar time frame to that which is almost certain for Concepcion. I am therefore predicting that the announcement for the dedication will be made around the same time as that for Concepcion, within the first half of 2018, with the dedication actually scheduled for August or September as well.

The temple in Winnipeg, by virtue of its being a smaller building that, at present, is being built to serve one stake only, is expected to be constructed within 20 months from the time of its groundbreaking, which took place on the first Saturday of this month, which was also, coincidentally enough, the day Elder Holland was celebrating his 76th birthday. In adding 20 months to that date, we arrive at a completion month of August 2018. It appears that temple dedication announcements precede actual events by a few months. I would therefore expect and am predicting that the Winnipeg dedication will take place in either late November or else early December 2018. It wouldn’t surprise me if a similar timeline held true for the temple in Barranquilla Colombia, which is further along in terms of construction, but will be a much larger edifice.

So, it seems most likely that the Church will add 4 new operating temples by the end of 2017, and have a booming year for dedications (with a possibility of at least the six above being completed) during 2018. This would almost completely reduce and eliminate any semblance of a backlog in temple progress, and makes it extraordinarily more likely that many more temples could be announced within the next two years. The exact number of those announcements remains to be seen, though I have given my feelings on what I feel are the most likely and most imminent picks.

Future groundbreakings may be more unpredictable to anticipate than I originally thought. I look at the groundbreaking in Winnipeg, and it happened much faster than usual. The commencement of the construction of the temple in Zimbabwe will mark the first time in Church history that I know of in which three temples will simultaneously be in the construction phase at once on the African continent.

After the groundbreaking in Zimbabwe, since I have followed temple developments very closely lately, I see the next groundbreaking taking place for the first Haitian temple in Port-au-Prince. I have no reason to back this up. It’s just how I feel, and we could have the site announcement and the groundbreaking by spring of next year. This seems especially likely given the delays I have noted in the construction beginning in Rio de Janeiro Brazil and Arequipa Peru. However, I could see those delays being cleared up and a groundbreaking for both being announced and taking place within the first six months of next year. As for Bangkok and Urdaneta, those could happen by the end of 2017 or the beginning of 2018. But with there being one year (for Bangkok) and over six years (for Urdaneta) since their announcements, I don’t feel safe making any definite predictions about when those events might take place.

Thanks, as always, for taking time to read and (if you feel so inclined) respond to this post. It is your feedback that allows me to fine-tune my predictions. And I will always try to keep an eye on temple-related progress and will do my best to report that news and any updates just as soon as I become aware of them, though obviously my ability to do so will depend entirely on how soon I can hear of such developments as I adjust to the rigors of my new employment. Thanks again.

And, I can confirm with reasonable certainty: barring anything unexpected cropping up within the next 24 hours, this will likely be my last chance to post before Christmas Day on Sunday. To all of you who read (and comment on) my posts, thank you so much for your interest, feedback, and support. If I have achieved any degree of success in this, my own personal labor of love, it is only because of the magnificent interest taken in things I feel a need to “sound off” about. I have been told as recently as within the last 15 days that this blog, such as it is, has become one of the top Google search results for temple-related updates, especially those related to possible future event timelines and potential new temple sites.

And I never could have conceived of that being even in a small way possible without the excellent people who have read and commented on whatever I am musing about as often as I have been able to do so. The interest expressed in my thoughts, such as they are, has been amazing, humbling, and awe-inspiring. While I appreciate those who have told me they love to read my blog for just the personal updates, I am even more humbled by and grateful for those who read almost every post.

I know that the focus on Church news, information, and updates, especially in terms of temple-related current and future events, has been the means of driving away many readers I might have had if I had chosen to focus on just the personal stuff. But I have been instructed in my patriarchal blessing to lift and encourage wherever the opportunity arises, and I feel that I can best accomplish that mission of a lifetime by primarily focusing on all the wonderful things that are transpiring in terms of Church and temple developments of any kind. And it is a sacred obligation I hold dear to share my witness and testimony of the validity and veracity of the gospel that has been dear to my heart since I grew up with it. I never once lived on borrowed light. I was always encouraged to develop my own witness and testimony of the things I have learned by being a Church member, and I have always seen that as a most sacred obligation. I will try harder to reach out to people who only come here for the personal stuff, but I have no qualms about continuing to make this blog one of the best outlets possible to keep people informed about the faith I love and the teachings I hold sacred. And I hope to continue in this vein as long as I am physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually able to do so.

Thanks again to you all for making my labor of love, such as it is, the success it has become. I would never have the courage to continue if I lacked sufficient support. When I can, I do like to include information about what is going on personally for me and my wife. But Church news and developments, particularly those related to the sacred temples of the Church, will always and forever take precedence in this.

Wishing you all a very happy and Merry Christmas. May the true spirit of the season fill all of our hearts as we remember that without Christ, there would be no Christmas. He is the reason for the season. And it is in his name I close. I leave this post with you in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.


Friday, December 23, 2016

Mammoth Temple Construction Developments Reported/Future Post Now Necessary

After no notable progress in terms of temple construction had been reported in the last week since my birthday, I have been checking the LDS Church Temples website hoping for some news regularly, but not being surprised that nothing seemed to be happening around this holiday season. So it was that with not much hope for word of any progress in the two days left before Christmas that I checked again. Much to my surprise, there have been a great many temple construction developments that have crossed Rick Satterfield's radar since I last checked his website last night. I am overjoyed at these developments, and couldn't wait to share them with you, my readers.

Perhaps among the most notable changes to report are these: where Rick has not previously felt comfortable enough to venture an approximate completion time frame for those temples to be completed any time in 2018 or in the first little bit of 2019, the new information he has been given seems to have led him to be able to add that information within the last 24 hours.

As if that were not enough reason for me to post today, not only have important strides been reported in a majority of the temples now under construction, but also, Rick has felt confident enough to switch his listed completion order of the Kinshasa DR Congo and Concepcion Chile temples.

With the milestones reported and the changes made just within the last 12 hours or so, obviously, I will need to be rethinking my previous post regarding the possible timeline for temple-related events to be announced and scheduled for all of those temples that are slated to be within a now more specific period of time. That post will come as soon as I can make it happen. It may not be for a few days. In just about an hour or so, I will be having a holiday get-together with my family. And this weekend will be a flurry of activity as Christmas Day brings a gathering with Amy's family. And of course, I start my new job on Monday. So while I cannot commit to how soon I might have such a post written and published, I am determined to make it happen ASAP.

With that extensive introduction out of the way, I end this post by sharing my latest version of my personal temple construction progress report. As with anything I have done or will yet do on this blog, I welcome and appreciate any and all feedback. Thanks to you all, my readers, for your input, support, and concern. Have a Merry Christmas, and, if I cannot post anything else before that time, a Happy New Year as well.

Temple Construction Progress Report (current as of 12/23/16)
Current Temple Status: 155 operating; scheduled for dedication; 11 under construction; 1 scheduled for rededication; 2 undergoing renovation; 10 announced; (NOTE: Up to 3 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: Light fixtures hung; interior trim underway; completion anticipated sometime in late 2017.
158. Cedar City Utah Temple: Fencing progressing; entrance plaza created; landscaping areas defined; hanging drywall; completion anticipated sometime in late 2017.
159. Tucson Arizona Temple: Pouring walkways; erecting fencing; installing art glass windows; hanging drywall; completion anticipated sometime in late 2017.
160. Rome Italy Temple: Interior work progressing; completion anticipated sometime in early-to-mid 2018.
161. Kinshasa Democratic Republic of the Congo Temple: Building the exterior walls; completion anticipated sometime in early-to-mid 2018.
162. Concepcion Chile Temple: Attaching building wrap to exterior walls; adding landscaping structures; completion anticipated sometime in mid-2018.
163. Durban South Africa Temple: Pouring temple foundation; setting rebar for missionary housing walls; palm trees planted along entrance road; completion anticipated sometime in mid-2018.
164. Barranquilla Colombia Temple: Exterior walls poured; preparing for steeple walls and framework; completion anticipated sometime between late 2018 and early 2019.
165. Winnipeg Manitoba Temple: Groundbreaking held Saturday December 3, 2016; completion anticipated sometime between late 2018 and early 2019.
166. Fortaleza Brazil Temple: Pouring the second floor exterior walls; completion anticipated sometime in 2019.
167. Lisbon Portugal Temple: Laying meetinghouse footings and foundation; excavating for maintenance building; temple site cleared; 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 between late 2017 and early 2018.
41. Frankfurt Germany Temple: Closed for renovation; some exterior stone removed; foundation exposed; old meetinghouse razed; rededication anticipated sometime between early and mid 2018.

Announced:
168. Harare Zimbabwe Temple: Approval and construction preparation phase; official site announcement anticipated in early 2017, with the groundbreaking anticipated to take place shortly following the site announcement.
169.  Rio de Janeiro Brazil Temple: Governmental approval phase; preliminary environmental license issued in November 2016; groundbreaking pending.
170. Arequipa Peru Temple: General contractor selected; groundbreaking pending.
171. Urdaneta Philippines Temple: Planning and approval phase; awaiting official site announcement.
172. Port-au-Prince Haiti Temple: Planning and approval phase; awaiting official site announcement.
173. Bangkok Thailand Temple: Planning and approval phase; awaiting official site announcement.
174. Abidjan Ivory Coast Temple: Planning phase; awaiting official site announcement.
175. Quito Ecuador 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, December 22, 2016

The Tabernacle Choir Will Sing at President Trump's Inauguration

I wanted to do this post tonight to focus on two things. First, a personal note. I had my meeting as anticipated today with Trent Ginnett, my former TL at the American Fork ROI branch who is now a project manager at the Cedar Hills ROI branch. As he indicated yesterday when we spoke on the phone, the interview and filling out the paperwork was merely a formality. He said he was glad to have me on his campaign, and said he had no doubt I would do well there. He also reiterated his intention to do whatever he could to make this work for me.

I was also privileged to run into several of my former coworkers from American Fork who had moved to Cedar Hills with the various campaigns which Trent oversees. They all expressed their absolute excitement for my being able to rejoin them, and they all said to let them know if they could do anything to help me during this transition period. I was overwhelmed by their expressions of support.

And, happily enough for me, the woman who helps Trent oversee the campaign for which I will be working was formerly a TL for the Young Living project, and she was the one who initially greeted me upon my arrival today, indicating that they were having a team meeting at the moment and that Trent would be with me soon. It was overwhelming to me. I am absolutely overjoyed at the way this all happened, and even though I do wish that this had all happened when I originally lost my job in American Fork, I recognize that I needed this time to recommit to the excellent work ethic I had displayed when I started the original job, and recommit to doing what it takes to make this new opportunity work for all concerned now. The timing of it all cannot be called anything other than miraculous, and I am the most unworthy recipient of this miracle that we so desperately need.

Now to the main reason for this post. I wanted to voice my opinion on an announcement from the Mormon Tabernacle Choir today. The announcement, which was made by the choir president, was that, after several more popular and secular entertainment personalities had declared their intention to reject the invitation to perform at the inauguration of US President-Elect Donald Trump, the Choir had, as has been their tradition in the past, accepted such an invitation. The announcement was met with mixed reaction from the members of the Church.

Most, like I am now doing, expressed their admiration to the Choir for putting aside any political motivations and for accepting the invitation, as they have in years past. But not more than a few have come out in protest against this announcement. They said that the Choir's acceptance of this invitation is politically-motivated, and that in a Church that professes to practice political neutrality as an institution, it was the wrong move. Some are saying that the Choir should have distanced themselves from a candidate who has been in many ways so unsavory, so controversial, and even highly critical of the Church, its members, its doctrine, and its practices.

I couldn't disagree more. The Choir's acceptance of this invitation is not in any way unprecedented. They have marched in inaugural parades plenty of times in the past, and have accepted numerous invitations from past presidents to sing at the inaugural ceremony.

As for being politically motivated, I could perhaps see more merit in the argument had the Church come out in voicing a full-scale opposition for such a controversial candidate. But, true to form, and, as should not be surprising to anyone, they stayed out of voicing an opinion of any kind, regardless of how that might have influenced or impacted the results of the election.

Speaking personally for myself, I am honored that Donald Trump has had the sense and graciousness to extend an invitation to a world-famous religious choir. And that honored feeling is only heightened by the Choir's gracious acceptance of the invitation, especially in light of the refusal of personalities with equal secular popularity to have anything to do with this event.

To any of my readers who might be feeling that this was a wrong move on the Choir's part, I would implore you with all the energy of my soul to consider what an honor this is for the Choir to be recognized and chosen in spite of Donald Trump's expressed ambivalence towards most of what the Church stands for. Regardless of your personal feelings on this issue, political candidates have, regardless of party affiliation, expressed their admiration for and appreciation of the Choir. In fact, it was Republican President Ronald Reagan who first dubbed the Choir as "America's Choir."

Clearly, in spite of any hard feelings Trump may still harbor about the Church, he at least has the sense and decency to recognize that the Choir is an important icon in America's musical history, and that speaks volumes of his actions, whatever personal feelings might exist about his political motivations and moral character.

I think I have made it abundantly evident that I fear for America's safety and well-being under President Donald Trump, and, even with that in mind, this gesture gives me hope that Trump may yet prove to be, even in the smallest part possible, the great president he has the potential to become. For me, I am always willing to give people the benefit of the doubt. In this one respect, I may have been too harsh on Trump's ability to be sensible.

While I still worry how America will fare under the leadership of a man who, until today, seemed to have no sense of morality, common decency, or sensibility, I am hopeful that there is still a chance he could grow into this opportunity.

I mean, look at me. I'm the one who lost the one job I was able to get after two solid years of looking because I didn't take it seriously. And it wasn't until I was in a position to have a change of attitude and perspective that the right opportunity fell into my lap, coincidentally with another branch of the company which had originally hired me. If that says nothing of the Lord's ability to soften and change the human heart, which I have often said is the greatest miracle of all, I don't know what does. And I cannot share the feeling that the Choir did wrong. This decision can only be good for the image of the Church in the eyes of the president-elect of the United States, and I am proud to belong to a Church that professes political neutrality and seizes opportunities to improve its image in the public eye. In so many ways, I have never been more proud to belong to this Church.

Thank you for taking the time to read this. If any of you do comment on what I have said here, I would caution you that, in this matter, any politically or religiously controversial comments will be promptly deleted upon their being made. With that in mind, please let me know your thoughts.

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

I have a job, which I start on Monday!

It has been a most amazing and overwhelming evening. Because I was not able to get the job with Ancestry.com through Kelly Services, I spent most of the day after my talk with the Kelly Services representative being very hard on myself, and taking myself to task for blowing another opportunity. In my despair and frustration, I happened to post on Facebook about what happened and explained that I was really in a bad place and was not handling the situation very well. Instantly, I was flooded with comments of support, compassion, and understanding.

One of the first responses came from Trent Ginnett, who had been my first TL at my former job with ROI. I knew he was managing a new campaign somewhere, but I hadn't heard from him a lot lately. So his comment surprised me. He indicated to me that he was now an account manager at the Lindon branch of ROI and that he could hire me on the spot if I wanted a job. He requested that I call him if I was interested. I sent him a message explaining more about what I was dealing with and letting him know that, if he felt I would still be a good bet with all I was dealing with, as I had lost his number, he could call mine. Less than two minutes later, my phone rang.

Trent let me know about what was involved with the project he had in mind for me. In making further inquiries, I was able to find out about the dress code, when training would be, and more about what the job would entail. He again reiterated the fact that he had the power to hire me on the spot if I wanted the job, and that he would always work with whatever my situation involved. The starting pay was exactly what I was earning in my previous job at the American Fork branch. And he said the nature of the job was such that it was very low stress and that he felt it would be a good fit for me.

I asked if he would mind if I consulted with my wife before making a decision. He said I could take whatever time I might need, and could call him whenever I had reached my decision. It took me less than 10 minutes to explain everything to Amy, to pray about it with her, and for me to determine it would be an ideal opportunity. So I called him back and told him I'd take the job. He let me know that he was looking forward to the opportunity to work with me again, and he restated his intention to do whatever he could to make this work for me. He said I could meet with him anytime before 3 pm tomorrow at the ROI building in Lindon, and mentioned that the paperwork was just a formality. The job is as good as mine.

I am beyond overwhelmed and very grateful for this unexpected turn of events. I will be thanking the Lord for quite a while that He put this opportunity in my path. To top it all off, it is a job I know I will be able to handle, and I have no doubt I can make this work.

Once again, the Lord has proven to me that He is mindful of me. He has shown me that He is a God of miracles. And He, in His infinite wisdom, has placed into my path the very thing I need right when I had all but given up faith and hope that anything would be resolved in this regard anytime soon.

I feel so unworthy of this miraculous turn of events. And it cannot be called anything but that. The Lord must love me very much. I have never considered myself deserving of the lifetime of events that have rolled forward in the form of one miracle after another. It just goes to show that when you least expect it, that which you need most often comes to you in ways that, to the rational mind, cannot be explained.

I honestly don't know what the regulations may be as far as what activities might be allowed during work hours, or when I might have my lunch break or any other breaks during the day. But I know that this will be a most wonderful opportunity for me, especially in being able to work under someone who fully appreciates and understands my situation and will do whatever it takes to make this work for me. And because of the way it has come about so quickly within ten hours of finding out about not getting the other opportunity, it must be right for me to do this right now.

And so, no matter what may happen in regards to this, I know I can make it work. And I am beyond grateful for how well everything came together when the moment was right.

Once again, I feel I can say and mean this with all sincerity: God is in His heaven; All is right with the world.