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Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Miscellaneous Church News

Hello again, everyone! As you know, most US employers are gracious enough to allow their employees a four-day weekend for Thanksgiving. Because Church employees are among those that have that happen, many articles that would have otherwise been published towards the end of any other work week are now available on the Church News website. With that in mind, here are some recently published items that I found fascinating and significant enough to pass along. Let's dive right in and talk about those articles.

In this article, I learned that Sister Harriet R. Uchtdorf, wife of President Uchtdorf, today received the German-American Friendship Award. In attendance at the presentation were President Henry B. Eyring, First Counselor in the First Presidency, and Elder Neil L. Andersen of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, among other leaders of the Church. The award recognized Sister Uchtdorf for her efforts to build bridges, promote peace, and to be a good citizen of both the United States and Germany. It was awesome to read about that.

As reported here, the Harman Music Fund was established almost 20 years ago for the purpose of enabling senior missionary couples to teach the congregations they serve how to direct and play hymns for Church meetings. Prior to that time, senior missionaries would take on those roles, and then the congregations would have no one to succeed them in that assignment once their service period ended. I am glad someone recognized the need for that.

Church service efforts continue worldwide with volunteers who give time to the Mormon Helping Hands program, and volunteers in that group recently planted 4,000 trees in the Pacific Area of the Church, as recounted here. As one who served two years with the Welfare Services program of the Church, I am profoundly grateful to hear of the volunteers in this outreach efforts.

Other recent stories include temple-related developments. The second counselor of the Preston England Temple presidency was recently announced as the new president following the death of the previous one in the midst of his active service. Additionally, in conjunction with the dedication of the Meridian Idaho Temple on Sunday, the Church News released this article (with a copy of the dedicatory prayer and information about the new temple) this article about how the saints in Meridian Idaho are ready to go to work on the new temple.

As with everything else, I am keeping my eyes open for any and all Church- and temple-related news and developments, and I will be sure to pass along any additional developments in that regard. That does it for this post. Any and all comments are, as always, welcome and appreciated. Thank you for the privilege of your time. Until my next post, I wish each one of you all the best and pray that the Lord will bless you in everything you do.

Updated Estimates for Temple-related Events

Hello again, everyone! As promised, I evaluated the changes I could make to the estimated time-frames I had provided just 12 days ago, factoring in the recent progress (or the lack thereof) that has been noted on temples around the world. As always, they are subject to confirmation, denial, or change if and when future announcements come from the Brethren about the actual timeline. The updated estimates follow. That does it for this post. Any comments are, as always, welcome and appreciated. Thank you for the privilege of your time. Until my next post, I wish each one of you all the best and pray that the Lord will bless each one of you in everything you do.

Revised estimated time-frame for future temple-related events:

Sunday December 10, 2017: Dedication of the Cedar City Utah Temple (159th operating temple; already confirmed)

January: Raleigh North Carolina Temple Renovation Closure (already confirmed; exact date may not be as set in stone as I once believed)
February: Baton Rouge Louisiana Temple Renovation Closure (already confirmed; exact date may not be as set in stone as I once believed)
Sunday March 4: Washington DC Temple Renovation Closure (already confirmed)
April or May: Full-scale construction anticipated to begin on the Winnipeg Manitoba Temple
May: Mesa Arizona Temple Renovation Closure (already confirmed; exact date not yet released)
Sunday May 20: Jordan River Utah Temple Rededication (already confirmed)
Sunday August 12 or 19: Frankfurt Germany Temple Rededication
Sunday September 16 or 23: Concepcion Chile Temple Dedication (160th operating temple)
Sunday October 14 or 21: Kinshasa DR Congo Temple Dedication (161st operating temple)
Sunday November 11 or 18: Barranquilla Colombia Temple Dedication (162nd operating temple)

Mid-April: Memphis Tennessee Temple Rededication
Mid-to-late April: Rome Italy Temple Dedication (163rd operating temple)
Early-to-mid May: Oklahoma City Oklahoma Temple Rededication
Mid-May: Asuncion Paraguay Temple Rededication
Late May-early June: Durban South Africa Temple Dedication (164th operating temple)
Mid-June: Port-au-Prince Haiti Temple Dedication (165th operating temple)
Early-to-mid August: Fortaleza Brazil Temple Dedication (166th operating temple)
Mid-to-late August: Rio de Janeiro Temple Dedication (167th operating temple)
Mid-September: Raleigh North Carolina Temple Rededication
Mid-October: Baton Rouge Louisiana Temple Rededication
Mid-to-late October: Lisbon Portugal Temple Dedication (168th operating temple)
Mid-November: Arequipa Peru Temple Dedication (169th operating temple)
Mid-December: Oakland California Temple Rededication
NOTE: The Church indicated when announcing the renovation of this temple that it would reopen in 2019. That said, it is an older temple, and as such, may take longer than anticipated. I could see it being rededicated in 2020, if the process is delayed for any reason.

Mid-to-late April: Winnipeg Manitoba Temple Dedication (170th operating temple)
Mid-May: Tokyo Japan Temple Rededication
Early-to-mid September: Mesa Arizona Temple Rededication
Mid-November: Washington DC Temple Rededication
NOTE: If, as I expect, almost all of the temples that are currently announced have a groundbreaking in either 2018 or 2019, then it is more likely than not that many of them could be dedicated during 2020. For now, the only events that are anticipated to happen in 2020 are listed here. As the next two years unfold, I will be adding future events to this list.

A Thanksgiving Message: The Link Between Gratitude and Service

Hello again, everyone! In view of the fact that Thanksgiving Day will be observed in the US on Thursday, I wanted to post a Thanksgiving message on this blog for all of you, my readers, for whom I am thankful, especially at this time of year. I pray that the Lord will bless us all with His Spirit, especially me as I write this and each of you as you read it in the coming days.

As many of you may be aware, I have had life-long health-related difficulties. The extent of these difficulties has led to numerous surgeries and hospitalizations. Pain is a daily factor in whatever I do in life. I have done my best to push through things as much as I can to do what needs to be done on a daily basis, and the varying degrees of success or failure in those endeavors has largely been determined by the drive I can muster to do what I know needs to be done. And I know that I am no stranger to the concept that the load I carry, however heavy it may be at any given time, may be far less or far more cumbersome than what other people may be dealing with. A couple of things hat have resulted from all of this is that I have always tried to rise above whatever my condition might be to lift and encourage those around me, and it has always been hard on me to see the suffering on any scale of anyone with whom I am acquainted.

That is one of many reasons why, as a Welfare Services Missionary serving in a local Humanitarian Service Room at the Deseret Industries, I was touched by one massive project after another that would provide basic needs for those without such things. The memory of one in particular will live on in my heart for as long as I am able to remember and share it.

The story behind it is very moving. Andy Noble, a young man who was living in Michigan and was 17 years old, was born prematurely with fetal alcohol syndrome. He also had cerebral palsy, terminal lung disease, frequent seizures, uses oxygen, and is unable to speak. At birth, doctors gave him less than a year to live. Each day of his life was and is a miracle, and that was enough to make me grateful for my own disabilities (cerebral palsy and hydrocephalus) but the next part of the story is even more remarkable. 

Andy, who loved everyone and idolized all emergency service personnel, started a collection of patches from emergency personnel in his hometown, and before long emergency services personnel nationwide, hearing of his interest in them, sent in their patches. The Church became involved in this story when one of the firemen who donated his patch to Andy let Salt Lake know what Andy wanted to do with them. He could easily have kept them for his own private enjoyment, but this young man amazingly saw a higher purpose in the project he had started. 

Before long, around 15,000 patches were sewn onto 300 banners. Salt Lake did 100 and asked our center to do the other 200. The banners became a quilt, which started a nationwide tour at the Vivint Smart Home Arena (which was then known as the Energy Solutions Arena) the beginning of the year following the start of the project. 

But it gets even more amazing. While money raised from these exhibits may have been badly needed for Andy’s medical care, all proceeds went to local emergency services charities wherever the banners are displayed. Tears blurred my vision as, without one exception, each volunteer who worked on the project expressed gratitude for the opportunity to help this young man. While the banners may fade and grow tattered in time, the spirit of the story behind the banners will remain in my heart forever, as will the important lesson it taught me.

The lesson is this: A grateful heart is a serving heart, and a heart that serves will become more grateful. If Andy Noble, this young man with so many health problems, can take time to start a project that grew to such a wide scope, why can’t we serve each other every day? As one of our hymns say, “the world wants daily little kindly deeds.” 

When I think of Andy Noble, I think of another favorite hymn, A Poor Wayfaring Man of Grief. Much like the man whose words are the hymn, Andy Noble may not physically comprehend who he is serving, but his spirit understands, and he is grateful to serve Him any way he can, no matter how small. Andy’s service is acceptable to the Savior, and at some point he will know it for himself. Will it be the same for us? I heard it said once that gratitude is a spirit-filled principle. May I also suggest that gratitude is a service-filled principle. Our gratitude increases as we serve, and our service opens our minds and hearts to more things for which we can express gratitude.

The Christlike love which Andy Noble so nobly demonstrated should be an example to all who wish to be called the people of God. The Prophet Joseph Smith stated that "a man filled with the love of God is not content with blessing his family alone, but ranges all over, anxious to bless the whole human race."

As Thanksgiving (and Christmas) approaches, I would like to invite all of you who read this message to take time to serve. As you do so, you will be blessed beyond your ability to comprehend. And as you recognize those blessings in your life, your heart will swell with gratitude for the gift of your life. Truly, my brothers and sisters, “because [we] have been given much, [we] too must give.” I pray for the Lord’s blessings to be with us, that this time of Thanksgiving will also become a season of service. For these blessings I pray in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.