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Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Matthew Martinich's Potential Temple Sites Predictions: April 2015 Edition

Around each General Conference, one question on many Church member's minds may be "What (if any) new temples may be announced, and where will they be located?" Matthew Martinich, a Church member who devotes his blog to everything relating to LDS Church Growth, attempts to answer that question by making careful predictions based on extensive research. He recently posted his predictions for temples that could potentially be announced at the upcoming April 2015 General Conference, and with his permission, I am posting a link to those predictions. Before doing so, I want to make it absolutely clear that these are Matthew Martinich's predictions, not mine, and that a link to them only appears with his express permission. After posting the link, I will make some comments of my own about his post. Click here for the predictions.

I believe Brother Martinich's predictions to be well-researched and thought-out, more so than my own. A careful study of temple distribution around the world is instructive. There are no temples in North or East Africa, only in the West or South. All temples in Asia are in the East. The temples in Europe seem fairly evenly distributed. There are no temples in the Yukon Territory, the Northwest Territories, Nunavut, Manitoba, Virginia, Kansas, New Jersey, Arkansas, Wisconsin, Iowa, Mississippi, Iowa, West Virginia, Maine, South Dakota, New Hampshire, Delaware, Vermont, Rhode Island, and Washington D. C. (what is called the Washington D. C. Temple is technically located in Virginia). The temples in the Pacific, South America, and Brazil seem to be fairly evenly distributed.

There are some temples that have been publicly proposed by apostles and prophets but have not yet been announced though sites may have been procured for one or two of them already. This list includes five proposed by President Gordon B. Hinckley: ((Nairobi Kenya: February 17, 1998); (Maracaibo Venezuela: August 3, 1999); (Singapore: January 30, 2000); (Bangkok Thailand: June 13, 2000); (Southwest Salt Lake Valley: October 1, 2005)); one proposed by Elder Neal A. Maxwell: (New Delhi India Temple: June 1992); and one proposed by Elder Russell M. Nelson: (Managua Nicaragua Temple: January 18, 2012).

Additionally, I wouldn't be at all surprised to see one or two more temples in Utah County in the near future, perhaps in Orem or Lehi. I would personally love it if President Monson or his immediate successor made a goal of having 200 temples by the 200th anniversary of the reestablishment of the Lord's Church on the earth (April 6, 2030). I was looking over the progress of temples being built. It took us over 167 years after the Church was first organized for us to dedicate the first 50 temples of the Church. The next 50 temples took a little less than three years to dedicate thanks to President Gordon B. Hinckley's goal of having 100 temples by the year 2000. By the end of this year, the 185th year of the Church's organization, we will almost have another 50. In fact, we will be just one short of that. The 149th temple of the Church will be dedicated on December 13, 2015. It is not unreasonable to believe that we could have another 51 done in less than 15 years, especially if President Monson announces several more temples that could be completed relatively easily. It is wonderful to contemplate the progress the Church is making in this regard.

It has been said that each temple built lessens Satan's power over the hearts of the children of men. If that's the case, I hope to see within my lifetime 300 or even 400 temples. It could happen. We are a temple building people. But even as we build, let us not forget our duty to attend. I feel like a hypocrite saying this, because I don't do it nearly enough, but for those who live here in American Fork, we have a temple in our midst, so it is our duty to use it. It is my prayer that we will attend often. "Brethren [and sisters], shall we not go on in so great a cause? Go forward and not backward. Courage, brethren [and sisters]; and on, on to the victory! Let your hearts rejoice, and be exceedingly glad. Let the earth break forth into singing. Let the dead speak forth anthems of eternal praise to the King Immanuel, who hath ordained, before the world was, that which would enable us to redeem them out of their prison; for the prisoners shall go free." They are waiting for us to redeem them. It is my prayer that we will go and do so, and my testimony that blessings abound as we do so. In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

Monday, March 16, 2015

Important Legislation Passed/General Update

In this third post of the day, I wanted to focus on something the Church has spoken out about and then give a general update of all that has happened since my last general update two weeks ago.

The Utah Senate recently passed Bill 296. It is a bill that is meant to provide a careful balance between rights for the LGBT community and religious freedom. The Church issued the following statement in response to the passage of the bill:

"We are pleased that the Utah Legislature has passed Senate Bill 296. It reflects the very best of collaboration and statesmanship from groups and individuals who may not always agree on all things but who have passed landmark legislation that balances religious freedom and antidiscrimination. While other states may find a different solution, we hope this fair, balanced approach shows that fairness for all is possible. The Church applauds the efforts of the Utah Legislature and other members of the community for this historic accomplishment."

The Church also provided an excellent explanation in layman's terms about what the bill accomplished and the Church's position on it. That explanation can be found here.  I was glad to see that this bill was supported not only by people of various religious beliefs and faiths but also by many of the LGBT community as well. I believe this legislation to be balanced and fair to all concerned. I hope this will serve to bridge the gap and promote greater understanding between LGBT people and supports and those who desire to be free to live their religion as they choose to do so.

That being said, it's time to update you on all that has happened since I last posted. Work has continued. I have been super stressed lately. Because of this, I have not been sleeping well. As a result, last week, I fell asleep on the job twice in one day, the second time while I was actually on the phone with a customer, so that was not good. Both times I was called in for a meeting with my team leader Trent and our manager Nick. The first time they had me fill out paperwork that basically said I had been given a verbal warning about it. The second time, they were more insistent with me that this shouldn't be happening again. The next time could result in a write up, if not a termination of employment. But that being said, the way they approached it was very well and tactfully done. They made it clear that their primary motive was concern for me. They asked if there was anything they could do to help. While they couldn't excuse or overlook my behavior, they wanted to let me know that they were worried about me. They told me that if there was anything they could do to help me overcome this problem, all I needed to do was ask. When I got off of work that day, I was uncertain about whether or not to burden Amy with what had happened. But I finally broke down and told her. I had a good cry about it. She was very sweet and understanding regarding the whole situation, but she said we needed to do more to get me to bed at a reasonable time. So we are working on that.

I had the opportunity to twice review my progress with Trent. I am getting my productivity up, but it's still not quite where it needs to be. He said I am doing well as an agent and if I can get my productivity up and especially remember to get my notes on each account done while I have each member on the phone, that will help immensely as well. We also consulted about cutting down the amount of time I was in the "Break" auxiliary and determined that one solution would be for me to take my breaks when I take my pills. So instead of having 2 15 minute breaks, I am having 3 10 minute breaks. While it does mean less time to get things done during my breaks, it means it should boost my productivity, so that's excellent. I also got high praise this week from Breck Hildreth, another supervisor at ROI, who said he appreciated how hard I tried to be a good agent and how well I was doing in meeting the members' needs.

On Friday, we had a team meeting. There we learned that because there were more employees available now, ROI would be redoing the way it designated worker's shifts. During the next week, Nick will be meeting with every employee in order of their ranking, which is determined by their productivity. He will let each worker in that order pick their preferred shift. I have looked at the available shifts, and I hope with all my heart that I can retain the same shift I'm currently on. However, my productivity is still not where it should be, and I have had disciplinary action taken against me on this job several times, so I'm not sure where I fall in rank-wise. My greatest fear is that by the time Nick gets to me, I will get stuck with an evening shift (which will not work because of pills I need to take) or having to work one or both weekend days. I have already made up my mind that I will never work on a Sunday, so I hope it doesn't come to that. I would also prefer to keep my Saturdays free for errands and Physical Therapy. I suppose if I still had the Monday-Friday shift but started an hour or two later it wouldn't be a problem. I am not able to start any earlier, though, so I also hope it doesn't come to that. Otherwise I might have to quit and look elsewhere.

I got paid last Friday. It was close to a $700 check. Lately, with staying behind to make up time, I have been clocking in many 8 hour days. My paycheck will love that, even though Amy and I aren't too crazy about it. It was good to get that check. Then, as part of Amy's inheritance, Amy's dad gave us some money to pay off Amy's student loan. Oddly enough, I also received an SSI check for the full monthly amount of $721. I still don't know why that check came, especially after they have been so difficult about giving us enough to go on. The combined amounts of the two checks did give us enough to pay off our dentist bill before I got the four fillings. So that was good.

I saw the dentist last week and got my four worst fillings done. Surprisingly, they were a lot less complicated than I thought they would be. I had to wait several hours for the Novocaine to wear off, but it was worth it. Now we just need to wait until I can get my other four fillings done on June 1. I also finally saw someone about the swelling in my feet. My PCP, Dr. Sean Doyle, wasn't available, so I saw Dr. Thad Barkdull instead. He ordered some blood work and a CAT scan. I still need to get the results of the blood work. I was originally scheduled to have the CAT scan done yesterday (Saturday), but then was informed that AF Hospital didn't do CAT scans on Saturday. So I will be getting it done on Amy's birthday, which is a week from tomorrow (on March 23).

I went to Physical Therapy both last Saturday and the Saturday before. When I saw Buck on Saturday, he again commented on the fact that he was pleased with my progress. The week before, they had changed the order in which my treatment was done to see if it would work better, but it didn't, so we're back to the normal routine now. Two Saturdays ago was the monthly family gathering. It was good but also bittersweet as it was the second-to-last time Joanna's family will be at our monthly dinners for a few years.

Last Sunday, I was asked to teach the lesson in Elders' Quorum. It was good to have the opportunity to do so. I stayed up far too late the night before and so I was very tired the next day. It was a miracle I made it through the lesson. But I must have done all right because many of the Elders said it was the best lesson they'd ever had. Today (Sunday) was Ward Conference. Amy didn't come because she wasn't feeling well. It was good to sustain our leaders. Two interesting things of note happened during that conference. The First Presidency has apparently determined that people don't need to stand up when they are being sustained. So all those sustained remained seated while they were being sustained. Then in Elder's Quorum, instead of getting a lesson from a member of the Stake Presidency, we had a member of the Stake High Council teach. It was a very good lesson about agency, but since I was up late again last night (Saturday night), I was tired and may have zoned out through it. 

One more thing bears mentioning. We have been trying to buy that house that we like some much. We talked to Amy's dad again, and he agreed to increase the amount he would give us from $50,00 to $75,000, but he said that's as high as he could go and that after doing so, he couldn't help us anymore. We went to the bank and tried to get a loan. The bank mentioned that because I had only worked four months, we didn't qualify for the size of the loan we were asking for without a cosigner. So we attempted to find one. We asked Amy's dad, but he had too many assets to be considered a viable option. So we asked my parents. But they aren't in a position to help us either. So we settled on asking for a lesser loan and seeing if we would qualify that way. But it didn't work. And while the bank was hemming and hawing over whether or not to give us a loan, the house we like was sold again. We had hoped the sale would fall through again, but haven't seen that happen. So we are trying to find something else. No luck yet, but we keep hoping. And we trust that when the time is right, the right solution to our problem will come along. And so we will move forward.

Amy and I counseled together last night and determined that I needed to reconfigure the way I take my medication so that I wasn't taking it so frequently. So I readjusted my schedule so I am taking more of it less frequently. And with this schedule, I take my final set of pills at midnight rather than 3 am. I started on the new schedule today (Sunday).

This next week the dress code is business formal all this week. I will, as mentioned above, have the opportunity to meet with Nick and hopefully wind up with the same or else a similar shift. I will be hopefully getting to bed at a more reasonable time all this week since my pill schedule is better. I will hopefully have many opportunities to exercise. And I hope I will have lots of time to spend with Amy and be less tired as a result of getting a better night's sleep. Also, I will be attempting to find and get an appointment with a new neurosurgeon. I will keep you all updated on developments as they happen. Until I write again, all the best!

Sunday, March 15, 2015

General Conference Predictions

I wanted to post my predictions for the next General Conference, as it was about this time six months ago that I posted my predictions for last General Conference. Since the First Presidency has in the interim decided and declared that the General Women's Meeting is now an official session of General Conference, for the first time, my predictions include who I believe will speak at the General Women's Session on March 28. Now for my predictions.

First, near the end of each year, I take a look at past changes in Church membership numbers each year. Based upon the average number of members added each year of President Monson's presidency, I then make a projection about the number of Church members there were at the end of each year. My predictions for this have general been way off, but I enjoy making them anyways. I recently reconfigured that chart to make it more readable and easier to understand. I include it to show you what I mean:

Statistical Yearly Report Record During President Monson's Presidency

Year covered by statistical report
# of Church Members
2007 (reported in the April 2008 General Conference)         
2008 (reported in the April 2009 General Conference)
2009 (reported in the April 2010 General Conference)
2010 (reported in the April 2011 General Conference)
2011 (reported in the April 2012 General Conference)
2012 (reported in the April 2013 General Conference)
2013 (reported in the April 2014 General Conference)
2014 (reported in the April 2015 General Conference (projected))

Now, here are the changes I predict we will see in general Church leadership next conference:

April 2015 Predictions for Changes in General Church Leadership
First Quorum of the Seventy: New members added from Second Quorum of the Seventy, Area Seventies, or Church at large.
Second Quorum of the Seventy: New members added from Area Seventies or Church at large.
Area seventies: Releases and sustainings.
Young Men General Presidency: David L. Beck, Larry M. Gibson, and Randall L. Ridd released; new Young Men General Presidency sustained (perhaps with Randall L. Ridd remaining as President or Counselor).
Primary General Presidency: Rosemary M. Wixom, Jean A. Stevens and Cheryl A. Esplin released; new Primary General Presidency sustained.

Here are my predictions for General Conference speakers, including, as noted before, for the first time ever, the General Women's Meeting:

April 2015 Conference Predictions [Text in Brackets indicates what actually happened.]
General Women’s
Bonnie L. Oscarson
Cheryl A. Esplin

Carol F. McConkie

Carole M. Stephens

President Thomas S. Monson
Saturday Morning
President Dieter F. Uchtdorf
President Thomas S. Monson

Elder L. Tom Perry

Bishop Gérald Caussé

Linda K. Burton

Elder L. Whitney Clayton

Elder Richard G. Scott

President Henry B. Eyring
Saturday Afternoon
President Henry B. Eyring
President Dieter F. Uchtdorf (Sustaining of Church Officers)

Church Auditing Department Report, 2014
Kevin R. Jergensen

Statistical Report, 2014
Brook P. Hales

President Boyd K. Packer

Elder David A. Bednar

Elder Kevin W. Pearson

Elder Rafael E. Pino

Elder M. Russell Ballard

Elder D. Todd Christofferson
Saturday Priesthood
President Dieter F. Uchtdorf
Elder Russell M. Nelson

Elder Ulisses Soares

Larry M. Gibson

President Dieter F. Uchtdorf

President Henry B. Eyring

President Thomas S. Monson
Sunday Morning
President Henry B. Eyring
President Dieter F. Uchtdorf

Elder Quentin L. Cook

Rosemary M. Wixom

Elder Jose A. Teixeira

Elder Neil L. Andersen

President Thomas S. Monson
Sunday Afternoon
President Dieter F. Uchtdorf
Elder Robert D. Hales

Elder Jeffrey R. Holland

Elder Jorge F. Zeballos

Elder Mervyn B. Arnold

Elder Yoon Hwan Choi

Elder Brent H. Nielson

Elder Dallin H. Oaks

President Thomas S. Monson

I will post again sometime after General Conference to update you on how my predictions turned out.  In the meantime, I will post again in a few minutes. Only one or two more posts to go!