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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 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.