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Tuesday, December 31, 2019

Final Temple Construction Progress Updates for 2019

Hello again, everyone! With the final hours of 2019 drawing to a close here in Utah, I'd be remiss indeeed if I did not take this opportunity to provide a look back at temple construction progress that has been made throughout 2019. And with my now being able to share specific links to particular reports, there is far less actual information for me to share in this post itself.  So, without further ado, I present the first report of 2019, the one from April 1, 2019, what that progress looked like half-way through 2019, how things looked as the fourth quarter began, and where that progress is now that 2019 is coming to a close. Based on all the progress that has been made this year alone (as evidenced by these reports), I have every reason to hope for similarly-outstanding progress, perhaps to another significantly-unprecedented degree, in 2020. I will continue to monitor all such developments as they occur and bring you word of those ASAP after I learn of them. That does it for now. Any and all comments are, as always, welcome and appreciated, on any post at any time, as long as such comments are made in accordance with the established guidelines. Thank you for the privilege of your time. If you enjoyed what you read here and would like to stay informed of newly added content, please feel free to subscribe. Until my next post, I wish each one of you all the best and pray that the Lord will bless you all in everything you do.

List of Temples for Which a New President May Be Called in 2020

Hello again, everyone! Contrary to what i had supposed and originally planned, on this New Year's Eve 2019, I am pleased to bring you earlier than expected a copy of the list I have put together which shows temples for which a new president may be called in 2020. Given that the announcement of new missions which will begin operating in 2020 came in November, I have no doubts that the list of new mission presidents who will begin serving in 2020 will be released either by the end of this week or next week, with the announcements of new temple presidents for 2020 beginning to be made by either March or April at latest. In the meantime, as I mentioned, after New Year's, I anticipate that the announcements of temple events will start relatively early in 2020. If the information I have obtained is correct, then full-scale renovation will begin on the Salt Lake Temple on January 2, 2020, and the announcements coming down the pike in relatively short order could include (at minimum) the open house and dedication information for the Rio de Janeiro Brazil Temple, with groundbreakings being announced for the following temples: Auckland New Zealand, Richmond Virginia, Layton Utah, Tooele Valley Utah, and Orem Utah.

I also anticipate more official details coming down thcpike (including potential groundbreaking announcements) in relatively short order for the following additional teemples: Bengaluru India, Nairobi Kenya, Harare Zimbabwe, Brasilia Brazil, second Manila Philippines, Managua Nicaragua, San Pedro Sula Honduras, and Coban Guatemala Temples. Further, based on the reports I have received from various contacts or sources I have come across, it seems possible (if not almost entirely likely) that the Church could potentially break ground for as many temples in the first half of 2020 as was the case for 2019 in its' entirety (which would be 11 at minimum).

And as I have previously noted, depending on how much the Church can do to clear the queue of announced temples somewhat between January 1 and the weekend of the April 2020 General Conference (which is set to occur on April 4-5), the additional research I have done seems to point to the fact that, while a massive number of temple announcements is not likely to occur, I would not be shocked to see President Nelson provide initial details of his temple construction goals and plans, with anywhere between 1-3 dozen new temples announced over that weekend.

If any of these developments occur, there will be plenty to cover in 2020, but I anticipate that number of reported developments will continue to increase year-by-year going forward for however long President Nelson continues to live and serve as the Lord's prophet (which, if the great plethora and abundance of statements made by his wife and his apostolic colleagues are to be believed, is likely to be another 1-2 decades at minimum). For my part, I will do my level best to stay on top of all such developments and will endeavor to do whatever I can to bring word of those to you all as I become aware of them in the coming year.

That does it for now. Any and all comments are, as always, welcome and appreciated, on any post at any time, as long as such comments are made in accordance with the established guidelines. Thank you for the privilege of your time. If you enjoyed what you read here and would like to stay informed of newly added content, please feel free to subscribe. Until my next post, I wish each one of you all the best and pray that the Lord will bless you all in everything you do.

Monday, December 30, 2019

Temples Which Will Have An Extended Closure Period in 2020/Blog Projects Planned for 2020

Hello again, everyone! As 2019 continues to wind towards its' close, I am pleased to post now to note that I have compiled a list of temples which will have an extended closure period during 2020. The list largely speaks for itself. Just a couple of things I would note. First, for the first time in a couple of years, the Provo Utah Temple does not have a continuous extended closure period planned. Secondly, the list for this year and the list for next year may or may not impact the list of temples I have previously provided for which a renovation might take place. That particular project is something for which I will be providing my analysis after the first of the year. In the coming days, I will also continue to monitor all Church news and temple developments. In addition to that, I wanted to share my list of upcoming projects which I have planned ahead for this blog in 2020 as well, and I also plan to post a list of temples for which a new president may be called in 2020 as soon as I have that put together as well, which will be at some point after the first of the year. I similarly anticipate that after the first of the year, there will be a list of new mission presidents for 2020 releawsed, in addition to several new temple developments reported within the first 2-3 weeks of this year.

Above and beyond all of that, before 2019 officially ends, I will be publishing on this blog a post that will focus on the quarter-by-quarter progresss during 2019 which has occurred for the temple construction program of the Church. And due to my new practice of sharing links to these documents, this end-of-year review of that progress will be the first to feature every quarterly version of that report which I previously published on this blog, in addition to a look at the never-before-shared fourth-quarter 2019 version of that report.

At the outset, I hope all of you are looking forward to the upcoming content just as much or more so than I am to providing it. That does it for now. Any and all comments are, as always, welcome and appreciated, on any post at any time, as long as such comments are made in accordance with the established guidelines. Thank you for the privilege of your time. If you enjoyed what you read here and would like to stay informed of newly added content, please feel free to subscribe. Until my next post, I wish each one of you all the best for a happy, safe, and inspiring end of 2019 and beginning of 2020 and pray that the Lord will bless you all in everything you do.

Sunday, December 29, 2019

UPDATED: Current Apostolic Statistics

Hello again, everyone! I wanted to take the chance now to provide the latest apostolic statistics. I have come to the conclusion that the best way to do so is to provide shareable links to those updates, so that anyone with those links can read them in their current forms. And that will also eliminate the need to publish two posts for this update. The updated data comprises two parts, the first, and the second. The information largely speaks for itself. I continue to monitor all Church news and temple developments, and will do my best to pass word of those along to you all as I receive it. In the meantime, it is also worth noting that, once the Salt Lake Temple ran its' final sessions last night, it is now officially closed for its' renovation. As previously noted, that temple is anticipated to be closed until sometime in 2024, when the conclsuion of its' renovation process will be marked by a public open house which is expected to last at least 3 months, with a rededication following that which could very well span 2-3 weeks, in a way that would allow at least one session to be viewed by members in every part of the world in which the Church has a formally-established presence. That said, if not before then, I will be back two days from now to provide a look at temple construction progress that has occurred during the fourth quarter of 2019, and also how much progress has been made since the beginning of this year in comparison to its' end.

In the meantime, that does it for now. Any and all comments are, as always, welcome and appreciated, on any post at any time, as long as such comments are made in accordance with the established guidelines. Thank you for the privilege of your time. If you enjoyed what you read here and would like to stay informed of newly added content, please feel free to subscribe. Until my next post, I wish each one of you all the best and pray that the Lord will bless you all in everything you do.

Monday, December 23, 2019

Elder Gerrit W. Gong Celebrates His 66th Birthday Today

Hello again, everyone! I am back two days before Christmas to post a tribute to Elder Gerrit W. Gong, who is celebrating his 66th birthday today. As I mentioned previously, his is the last apostolic birthday to occur in 2019. The next apostolic birthday (which will be the first for 2020) will be marked on January 24, at which time Elder D. Todd Christofferson will be 75. But getting back to Elder Gong, let's get into some biographical information. Gerrit Walter Gong was born in Redwood City, California, on this day in 1953, to Walter and Jean Char Gong. While he was given his father's name for his middle name, his first name was given in honor of and out of respect to Gerrit de Jong, whose family his mother had lived with while studying at BYU-Provo. Both of Elder Gong's parents trace their ancestry back to China, although his father's family emigrated from China to the US during the late 19th century, and his mother's family are ethnic Chinese and lived in Hawaii. After graduating from high school in Palo Alto, California, he served as a missionary for the Church in Taiwan. He went on to earn a bachelor's degree at BYU, then continued his education at Oxford University, where, as a Rhodes Scholar, he earned a master's degree and a doctoral degree in philosophy. He first met Susan Lindsay, the woman he would later marry, while giving presentations at the MTC focused on the culture of Taiwan, to groups of missionaries assigned to serve in that nation (Sister Lindsay, at that time, was preparing to serve her mission in Taiwan). At some point following her return from missionary service, while he was on summer break from Oxford, the two began dating. After Gerrit returned to Oxford, he and Susan (who was a BYU student) continued their courtship. The couple was married in the Salt Lake Temple on January 2, 1980, and raised 4 sons. They spent most of their married lives in Virginia and Maryland. Brother Gong became a special assistant to the US Secretary of State in 1985. He went on to be a professor at Johns Hopkins University and Georgetown University.

He would go on to serve as a special assistant in the US State Department and as a special assistant to the US embassy in China. In 1989, he served as China Chair and Asia Director of the Center for Strategic and International Studies. He was tapped to participate in multiple education summits, in addition to serving on the United States Department of Education's National Advisory Committee on Institutional Quality and Integrity. He went on to serve as Assistant to the President of BYU for Planning and Assessment. In the Church, Elder Gong served as a bishop, stake president, and area seventy. During his time in the latter assignment, he accompanied the presiding authority to my parent's Stake Conference. As he spoke, I was impressed by his warmth, knowledge of the scriptures, and ability to teach from them. While I may not remember any specifics of what he said, the power of the Spirit which I felt when he was speaking was unmistakable. After that conference, I had the opportunity to greet and chat with him informally. What I had seen at the pulpit while he spoke was even more apparent in his personal interactions with me and other members of my parent's stake. This is a man who feels and teaches by the Spirit.

During the April 2010 General Conference, Elder Gong was among those called as a General Authority Seventy (to serve in the First Quorum). He filled various assignments at Church headquarters for the first year or so after his call. From August 2011-August 2013, he served in the Asia Area Presidency as a counselor. In 2013, he was called as president of that same area. As a result of Elder Ronald A. Rasband's call to the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles during the October 2015 General Conference, Elder Gong was called to the Presidency of the Seventy on October 6, 2015. He transitioned out of his role as Asia Area President and into his new assignment in that Presidency effective January 4, 2016. He had responsibility for overseeing the work of the Church in the North America Northeast Area. He also served on the Church Board of Education and Boards of Trustees, and a member of the Executive Committee of the Boards.

After serving in the Presidency of the Seventy for roughly 2.5 years, and following the deaths of Elder Robert D. Hales and Church President Thomas S. Monson, new Church President Russell M. Nelson called both Elder Gong and Elder Ulisses Soares to serve as members of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. They were first sustained in that assignment on March 31, 2018, and both were ordained to the apostleship the following Thursday (April 5, 2018). The two are the first Asian American and Latin American apostles of the Church. In June 2018, Elders Gong and Soares met with representatives of the media for the first time as new apostles. At that time, Elder Gong reported that he had been asked to chair the Scriptures Committee. He also serves as a member of the Priesthood and Family Executive Council, the Leadership and Training Committee, and the Outreach Committee. He had additionally indicated that he had been asked to oversee the Church's Asia and Asia North Areas, but official Church resources say those areas are supervised by Elder Gary E. Stevenson.

Elder Gong has given only 6 addresses in General Conference thus far, 1 following his call as a General Authority, 1 other while in the Presidency of the Seventy, and 4 more since beginning his service in the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, all of which are worthy of review, and each of which I can endorse without hesitation. I am grateful to have been able to write this post in honor of his 66th birthday today. Because of my previously-referenced personal interaction with him, I can testify that the Lord has prepared him for his present assignment, and I whole-heartedly sustain him and the other 14 apostles. That does it for now. Any and all comments are, as always, welcome and appreciated, on any post at any time, as long as such comments are made in accordance with the established guidelines. Thank you for the privilege of your time. If you enjoyed what you read here and would like to stay informed of newly-added content, please feel free to subscribe. Until my next post, I wish each one of you all the best and pray that the Lord will bless you all in everything you do.

Sunday, December 15, 2019

BREAKING TEMPLE NEWS: Elder Ulisses Soares Dedicates the Arequipa Peru Temple

Hello again, everyone! As some of you may recall, on November 12 of this year, the Church's official Newsroom shared this report in conjunction with the start of the open house for the Arequipa Peru Temple. At that time, the article indicated that Church President Russell M. Nelson would dedicate that temple. Fast forward to the day of the dedication (today). When I reported last night on the youth devotional that was held under the direction of Elder Ulisses Soares of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, I had assumed that it was a continuation of the new format of the "divide and conquer" strategy wherein two apostles would be in attendance at a dedication or rededication but the junior apostle would preside at one part of that event, while the senior apostle would preside at the temple dedication the next day. And that theory seemd to be proven last night when, at the youth devotional, Elder Soares took the opportunity to excuse President Nelson from the youth devotional. However, this afternoon, I found another report from the Peruvian Newsroom, which indicated that Elder Soares himself presided at the dedication of the Arequipa Peru Temple today. Therefore, President Nelson's absence the entire weekend despite the prior announcement marks another example of him sending junior apostles to represent him at such events. And that means that Elder Soares has now presided at two temple events this year, which is a good opportunity for him to grow into his apostolic assignment

The dedication of this temple, meanwhile, means that there are now 167 operating temples of the Church. And given that the Church now only needs to dedicated 33 additional temples to have 200 in operation before the 200th anniverssary of the restoration of the gospel (Saturday April 6, 2030, which is now just 10.31 yeajrs away), the Church would only need to dedicate roughly 3.2 temples on average per year during that time to do so. The Church will dedicate 3 new temples next year (slightly below that average), but will go on to dedicate a minimum of 5 temples the following year, and at least 5-7 more in 2022. So that average will continue to go down.

In the meantime, as reported by both the Newsroom and the Church News, on the Friday before last week's First Presidency's Christmas Devotional, President and Sister Nelson welcomed Claire Crosby, a 7-year-old viral Youtube sensation and Church member, and her family to their home, where the prophet played the piano while Claire sang "Silent Night." It was wonderful to catch this glimpse illustrating that President Nelson is not only social media savvy, but loves Primary children in the same way the Savior would if He were here.

Additionally, Elder Tad R. Callister, who is an emeritus General Authority and was released in April of this year from his service as Sunday School General President, took an opportunity recently to look back on how conversing with a young missionary who was struggling with personal doubtts and questions about the gospel led him (Elder Callister) to realize that the Church ruins its' members for any other Church. I continue to monitor all such developments and will keep passing word of those along to you all as I receive it.

That does it for now. Any and all comments are, as always, welcome and appreciated, on any post at any time, as long as such comments are made in accordance with the established guidelines. Thank you for the privilege of your time. If you enjoyed what you read here and would like to stay informed of newly added content, please feel free to subscribe. Until my next post, I wish each one of you all the best and pray that the Lord will bless you all in everything you do.

Wednesday, December 11, 2019

BREAKING TEMPLE NEWS: First Presidency Announces Site Locations for 3 US Temples

Hello again, everyone! Around 2.5 months after the October General Conference, the First Presidency today announced the locations for 3 of the 4 United States Temples which were announced during that conference. The McAllen Texas Temple will sit on a 10.6 acre site on the northwest corner of Second Street and West Trenton Road. It is anticipated to be a single-story temple with an area of approximately 25,000 square feet, with a central spire, complete with an adjacent meetinghouse that will have an area of 17,000 square feet. The Orem Utah Temple is set to be built on a 16-acre site, sitting at 1471 South Geneva Road. It will be a three-story temple anticipated to be around 70,000 square feet, with an adjacent meetinghouse of 20,000 square feet. And the Taylorsville Utah Temple will sit on a 7.5 acre site located at at 2603 West 4700 South. It is anticipated to be roughly the same size as the Orem Utah Temple. An existing meetinghouse on that property will be razed to accommodate the temple, with no plans at this time to replace it.

Unless I am mistaken, this brings the number of temples which could potentially have a groundbreaking within the next 12-18 months to around 19. The First Presidency certainly is placing a high priority on moving things along where they can. And quite honestly, when I saw temple news, I was anticipating something more official on the Harare, Nairobi, or Bengaluru temples. But I am grateful that the Lord has opened the way for this preliminary information to be released for these temples, which indicates to me that city leaders in these locations are anxious to have a temple in their midst.

For my part, I continue to monitor all Church news and temple updates and will do my level best to pass word of those along to you all as I receive such news. That does it for now. Any and all comments are, as always, welcome and appreciated, on any post at any time, as long as such comments are made in accordance with the established guidelines. Thank you for the privilege of your time. If you enjoyed what you read here and would like to stay informed of newly added content, please feel free to subscribe. Until my next post, I wish each one of you all the best and pray that the Lord will bless you all in everything you do.

Tuesday, December 3, 2019

Some Thoughts About the First Presidency's 2019 Christmas Devotional

Hello again, everyone! As some of you may be aware, since the Church changed the layout of the First Presidency's Christmas Devotional, I have kept track of who has spoken therein every six months. Based on my research and analysis, I am predicting that, at this year's devotional (which will be held this Sunday), President Henry B. Eyring, Second Counselor in the First Presidency, will be conducting it. I am also predicting that the speakers will be the following general Church leaders: Brother Milton Camargo, First Counselor in the Sunday School General Presidency, Elder Carl B. Cook of the Presidency of the Seventy, Elder Neil L. Andersen of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, and President Dallin H. Oaks, First Counselor in the First Presidency. This is the first time I have ever attempted to publicly predict the speaking lineup for this devotional. As always, I will be just as pleased if any or all of these predictions prove incorrect as I will if any or all of them are verified as correct. The important thing will be what is said therein, not whomever might speak during it. And I look forward to the Christmas messages that will be given through song, prayer, spoken word, and the Spirit. In advance of that devotional, I offer my personal witness that the devotional has been planned in every detail in accordance with the Lord's will and under the direction of the Spirit, and that we will be blessed as we hear and act on the messages we will receive thereat.

That does it for now. Any and all comments are, as always, welcome and appreciated, on any post at any time, as long as such comments are made in accordance with the established guidelines. Thank you for the privilege of your time. If you enjoyed what you read here and would like to stay informed of newly added content, please feel free to subscribe. Until my next post, I wish each one of you all the best and pray that the Lord will bless you all in everything you do.

Elder Jeffrey R. Holland Marks His 79th Birthday Today

Hello again, everyone! I am back today with a post written in honor of Elder Jeffrey R. Holland, who is celebrating his 77th birthday today. Elder Holland has long been one of my favorite apostles, and I have a couple of familial connections to him. My dad was born and raised in St. George, and his father (Dean Stokes), was Elder Holland's home teaching companion when "young Jeff" was an Aaronic Priesthood holder. According to my dad, his father often expressed his wonder that a boy like Elder Holland had been could become an apostle of the Lord. I know that at times, it may seem that each member of the Church, to a certain degree, may put the leading Brethren of the Church on a pedestal, but I am reminded in accounts, such as that which was shared by my grandfather, that these men may have been foreordained to the apostleship, but they are no different than any other member of the Church; the Lord just ordered their lives based on their personal choices in such a way that when such calls came to them, they were qualified through years of service in the Church and living what they believe. That is important for all of us to remember.

I also have another indirect connection to Elder Holland. My mom is a freelance proofreader, and in the early days of her marriage to my dad, she worked on many projects for the Church Educational System. Since that occurred at the time when Elder Holland was the Commissioner of the CES, he was essentially my mom's "boss." And she speaks warmly of the experiences she had working with him on such projects.

Personal connections aside, I wanted to share a brief biographical sketch of Elder Holland. Jeffrey Roy Holland was born in St. George, Utah to Frank D. and Alice Bentley Holland on December 3, 1940. He served full-time in the British Mission. His mission president was Marion D. Hanks, (who at that time was a member of the now-defunct First Council of the Seventy and later served in the First Quorum and Presidency of the Seventy). One of young Elder Holland's missionary companions was Quentin L. Cook, with whom he would later serve in the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles.

Upon his return from his mission, he married his high school sweetheart, Patricia Terry, in 1963. They are the parents of a daughter and two sons, one of whom, Matthew, had been serving as the President of Utah Valley University, until he was called to serve as president of the North Carolina Raliegh Mission last year.  Following his mission, Elder Holland attended BYU, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in English and a master’s degree in religious education.

He went on to earn a doctorate degree in American studies from Yale. He then became a professor at BYU, serving as Dean of the College of Religion. He served as Commissioner of Church Education from 1976-1980. In 1980, President Dallin H. Oaks, who was then serving as President of BYU-Provo, announced his intention to move on to other opportunities. Commissioner Holland was put in charge of the committee to find the new BYU President. Two days later, he was stunned when the First Presidency appointment him to that assignment. He had reportedly been favored for the position by President N. Eldon Tanner, who was then serving as First Counselor in the First Presidency, and was the protege of then-Elder Gordon B. Hinckley, who at that time was the senior member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles asssigned to the Church Board of Education.

Elder Holland would go on to serve as president of BYU for 9 years himself, until his April 1, 1989 call as a General Authority and member of the First Quorum of the Seventy. Prior to his call to general Church service, Elder Holland also served as a bishop, counselor in a stake presidency, and regional representative. After the First Presidency was reorganized following the death of President Ezra Taft Benson, President Howard W. Hunter took immediate action to fill the apostolic vacancy. In the space of a few short hours on Thursday June 23, President Hunter issued a call to the apostleship to Elder Holland, gave him his apostolic charge, set apart and ordained him to that calling,  and had him join the other 14 apostles in their weekly meeting at the temple. That action was sustained by Church membership during the Solemn Assembly that was held exactly 100 days later.

Elder Holland gave 3 talks prior to his apostolic call (one of which he gave in April 1983 as president of BYU during the Priesthood Session, with his son, Matthew, (who was a teacher at the time) also speaking during that session. And since his call to the apostleship, he has spoken 51 additional times, meaning he has given a grand total of 54 addresses  in General Conference. To me, it always seems as though the talks given by Elder Holland are specifically focused on something I have been dealing with personally at the time. As a consequence, listening to him speak every six months is one of my favorite things about General Conference weekends.

Some of my favorites among those 54 in recent years have been None Were With Him (from the Easter Sunday Morning Session of the April 2009 General Conference); Lord, I Believe (from the Sunday Afternoon Session of the April 2013 General Conference); and Songs Sung and Unsung (from the Saturday Afternoon Session of the April 2017 General Conference). The last thing I want to mention about Elder Holland is that he is currently the second most-senior member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles and the fourth most-senior of our 15 apostles. He is also the fourth-oldest member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, and is the seventh-oldest of the 15 apostles.

I am grateful for the life and ministry of Elder Holland, and although he may not ever read this, and for the chance I had to write this post in tribute to his birthday today. That does it for now. Any comments are, as always, welcome and appreciated, on any post at any time, as long as such comments are made in accordance with the established guidelines. 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 all in everything you do.

Tuesday, November 26, 2019

Miscellaneous Musings

Hello again, everyone! I have a few thoughts on my mind that I wanted to pass along to you all here. Firstly, I am scheduled to check in for the procedure I previously referenced tomorrow morning at 8:15 AM Utah time, which means 12 hours from now, I will likely either be under anesthesia or just coming out of the surgery. As I mentioned in that earlier post, it is anticipated to be a same-day procedure, which means I could be home by late afternoon or evening, barring anything unexpected. Your continued prayers in my behalf are appreciated, and hopefully this fixes the issue correctly this go-round. In the meantime, I have a few Church News updates to pass along, including one octagenarian who is retiring from her 22-year role of playing the piano in the Joseph Smith Memorial Building, another inspiring octagenarian who is a violinist with the Tabernacle Choir at Temple Square. some insight from the Young Men Presidency about the new Aaronic Priesthood theme, the unusual way BYU's cross country men's and women's track teams celebrated a national championship, and the unique elements related to the Church's newly released video, "The Christ Child".

I also have a few temple updates to pass along to you all. First, the Durban South Africa Temple has been delivered to the Temple Department, and, while training of key temple staff is underway, custodians and groundsmen are assuming their duties, and all final details are now being addressed. And while preliminary construction efforts are underway on the Yigo Guam Temple, training was delivered this month regarding how local Saints can develop a history of the Church in their nation which will subsequently be placed in a time capsule in the temple capstone.

Yet another update has been provided on the Pocatello Idaho Temple, where concrete stairs and floor slabs are being poured, temporary windows are being installed, and framing and exterior sheathing is making progress, while the installation of the steeple framework for the temple spire is still pending. And since I reported two days ago on a fantastic development related to the Richmond Virginia Temple, let's move on to temples undergoing renovation. At the Tokyo Japan Temple, interior renovations are progressing, structural framing for the nearby annex is nearing completion. And at the St. George Utah Temple, 400th South is closed to traffic.

Finally tonight, I have made updates and adjustments to what were previously the "Groundbreaking Anticipated" and "Announced" sections of my temple construction progress report. Specifically, I have now divided that "Groundbreaking Anticipated" section into 3 separate sections. The first will utilize the name of its' originally-larger eponymous counterpart and will include those temples for which, having a rendering released, makes estimating a groundbreaking easier. The second will contain those temples for which the announcement of official details may be pending. And the third and final section will be for those temples for which I am aware that a site has either been confirmed or at least acquired. Those 3 newly-divided sections join the group of "Announced Temples" on this document, to which anyone with the link thereunto has access granted.

As always, I do continue to monitor all Church news and temple developments and am committed to doing my best to continue to pass word of those along to you all as I become aware of such developments. I am cautiously optimistic that if my procedure tomorrow morning has any impact on my ability to share such reports, that impact will be minimal. TIme will tell. But that does it for now. Any and all comments are, as always, welcome and appreciated, on any post at any time, as long as such comments are made in accordance with the established guidelines. Thank you for the privilege of your time. If you enjoyed what you read here and would like to stay informed of newly added content, please feel free to subscribe. Until my next post, I wish each one of you all the best and pray that the Lord will bless you all in everything you do.

Monday, November 25, 2019

UPDATED: Speaking Order Predictions for the April 2020 General Conference

Hello again, everyone! It took longer than I'd hoped, but I was finallyt able to finish the process of updating the speaker layout I had predicted for the upcoming General Conference. You can find those revisions here. That does it for now. Any and all comments are, as always, welcome and appreciated, on any post at any time, as long as such comments are made in accordance with the established guidelines. Thank you for the privilege of your time. If you enjoyed what you read here and would like to stay informed of newly added content, please feel free to subscribe. Until my next post, I wish each one of you all the best and pray that the Lord will bless you all in everything you do.

Friday, November 22, 2019

BREAKING NEWS: Saturday Session of the April 2020 General Conference

Hello again, everyone! Breaking news was reported by the Newsroom a few hours ago relating to the April 2020 General Conference. According to an official announcement from the First Presidency, all sessions (I am assuming in their entirety) will originate from the Conference Center. But above and beyond that, for this General Conference, the Saturday evening session will not be classified as a Priesthood Session, and will instead be an additional general session held for all Church members 11 years of age and older. A couple of thoughts on this announnced development: First, I hope that officially puts any rumors that parts of General Conference might originate from special locations to rest. And as I mentioned previously, even if some leaders do speak from outside the Conference Center, there will not be a wide-scale spreading out of Church leadership through various parts of the world. It is scriptural doctrine that the Church cannot convene a General Conference unless a majority of the apostleship is present in one location for it.

Secondly, and only slightly less important, this essentially shoots down my previously-offered thoughts about the probable layout of the speaking order for this General Conference, so I will be throwing those thoughts out the window and starting from scratch. Stay tuned for more on that as I figure it all out. In the meantime, I appreciate the opportunity I had to share this news with you all here, and will continue to monitor all Church news and temple updates and pass them along ASAP after I learn of them.

That does it for now. Any and all comments are, as always, welcome and appreciated, on any post at any time, as long as such comments are made in accordance with the established guidelines. Thank you for the privilege of your time. If you enjoyed what you read here and would like to stay informed of newly added content, please feel free to subscribe. Until my next post, I wish each one of you all the best and pray that the Lord will bless you all in everything you do.

Thursday, November 21, 2019

BREAKING NEWS: Church to Open 8 New Missions in July 2020

Hello again, everyone! As some of you may recall, a few days into January of this year, the Church announced changes in missions (both consolidations and newly-created ones) that would go into effect six months later (in July). I remarked at that time that Church leaders were well ahead of hte curve from what had occurred in recent years. Today, I am pleased to share an official announcement from the First Presidency which indicates that 8 new missions will go into operation in July of next year. The missions will be based in the following locations: Recife Brazil; Yaounde Cameroon; Guayaquil Ecuador; Addis Abbaba Ethiopa; Beira Mozambique; Dar es Salaam Tanzainia; and Austin and Dallas Texas. i am grateful to have learned about this development to to have been able to pass word of it along to you all here. It looks like Matthew Martinich has already provided a more thorough analysis about this on his blog, which I'd refer you to for further information and context.

That does it for now. Any and all comments are, as always, welcome and appreciated, on any post at any time, as long as such comments are made in accordance with the established guidelines. Thank you for the privilege of your time. If you enjoyed what you read here and would like to stay informed of newly added content, please feel free to subscribe. Until my next post, I wish each one of you all the best and pray that the Lord will bless you all in everything you do.

Personal Update/Prayers Would Be Appreciated

Hello again, everyone! As some of you may recall from previous posts, I have been dealing with a severe migraine for the last 6 weeks. Additionally, back in mid-April of this year, I had a same-day bladder neck procedure due to several issues I was having. Earlier today, we followed up with my urologist, and due to some additional circumstances, we wound up having to go back to that office before they closed and I wound up having a minor in-clinic procedure there, from which I am now in recovery. But based on what they are seeing with the symptoms I described an the issues I have been experiencing lately, it looks as though I will need to go in again for another same-day procedure to deal with the relevant issues. That procedure is anticpated to occur anytime between now and the end of the day Saturday, or, at latest, early next week. So I wanted to put out a request here for prayers in my behalf and in behalf of my wife.  The odds are very good that the next week or two will be extremely difficult for us, so I wanted to mention that here.

And although I don't anticipate the usual level of coverage on this blog to be impacted by these circumstances, if I am off-the-grid as far as that is concerned at any point within the next two weeks, that will be why. I wanted to mention this due to the fact that I take seriously the obligation to share such reports here, and the last thing I want to do is let anyone down in that respect. But it will be essential to get the issue dealt with sooner rather than later. So I felt it my duty to let you all know here about this issue, just in case my normal ability to pass along such reports within the next week or to respond to comments is impacted as a result.

I realize the details I have provided herein are sparse and few. I would be happy to provide more details on the specifics of what is going on with me to anyone who may ask for them. But I thought that until such specifics are requested, it would be best to be general and more vague in this case. That said, I would be remiss indeed if I failed to mention my thanks to you all for your continued interest and suppport. When I began this blog five years ago, I could not imagine it becoming the success it has.

I hope it will continue to function as a safe space where inspiring dialogue can occur regarding the develpments which are highlighted here. If it were not for your continued interest and ongoing support, I could not have done what I have in terms of the latest reports I have shared here. So please accept my profound appreciation and deepest gratitutde for that.

That does it for now. Any and all comments are, as always, welcome and appreciated, on any post at any time, as long as such comments are made in accordance with the established guidelines. Thank you for the privilege of your time. If you enjoyed what you read here and would like to stay informed of newly added content, please feel free to subscribe. Until my next post, I wish each one of you all the best and pray that the Lord will bless you all in everything you do.

UPDATED: List of Temples Which May Be Renovated in the Near Future

Hello again, everyone! I attempted to post this earlier, but had to delete that prior post and start again due to formatting issues. Since I have received many requests about publishing an updated version of the list of temples which may be renovated in the near future, I wanted to provide that information in this post today. I have that update completed, but have had additional formatting issues with pasting it into this blog post that have rendered it impossible to include here. Therefore, I am providing a shareable link to it here, so that anyone with that link has access to view the list in question. Since the link in question negates the need to reproduce the list here, I will end this post as I always do: That does it for now. Any and all comments are, as always, welcome and appreciated, on any post at any time, as long as such comments are made in accordance with the established guidelines. Thank you for the privilege of your time. If you enjoyed what you read here and would like to stay informed of newly added content, please feel free to subscribe. Until my next post, I wish each one of you all the best and pray that the Lord will bless you all in everything you do.

Tuesday, November 19, 2019

Initial Predictions for the April 2020 General Conference: Part Three—Prospective Locations Which May Have a Temple Announced

Hello again, everyone! I am back with the third and final part of the initial version of my April 2020 General Conference predictions. This latest version will cover the prospective locations for which a temple could potentially be announced. Just a preliminary note: as I mentioned in the references of the first post in this mini-series, given what President Nelson described as the intended purpose for this General Conference, I don't anticipate that a mass number of temples will be announced.  But I would not be shocked if, at some point during the weekend of the next General Conference, President Nelson, perhaps with an assist from Elder Bednar (who is the Chairman of the Temple and Family History Executive Council), explains and details the preliminary elements of his temple-expansion plans. Time will tell. And for my part personally, I will be very pleased by any number of temples that might be announced for any locations. With that said, due to the fact that far fewer temples were announced last month than I was anticipating, my personal preference in this case is to be more conservative in the estimated number I suggest. Having noted all of this, the list I have put together for this go-round (along with the relevant references) follows below. In order to not disturb the flow of that information, I will end here as I always do: That does it for now. Any and all comments are, as always, welcome and appreciated, on any post at any time, as long as such comments are made in accordance with the established guidelines. Thank you for the privilege of your time. If you enjoyed what you read here and would like to stay informed of newly added content, please feel free to subscribe. Until my next post, I wish each one of you all the best and pray that the Lord will bless you all in everything you do.

Temple Predictions: 8-12 temples announced in any of the following locations13:
Africa Southeast14: Antananarivo Madagascar; Second DR Congo Temple (in Mbuji-Mayi or Lubumbashi); Maputo Mozambique; Kampala Uganda; Cape Town South Africa
Africa West15: Kumasi Ghana; Monrovia Liberia; Benin City Nigeria; Yamoussoukro Ivory Coast
Asia16: Jakarta Indonesia; Singapore; Taichung Taiwan; Hanoi Vietnam
Asia North17: Ulaanbaatar Mongolia; Osaka Japan
Brazil18: Belo Horizonte, Florianopolis, João Pessoa, or Ribeirão Preto Brazil
Caribbean19: Santiago Dominican Republic; Kingston Jamaica
Central America20: Villa Nueva Guatemala
Europe21: Edinburgh Scotland; Berlin Germany; Barcelona Spain; Oslo Norway; Vienna Austria
Mexico22: Torreon, Durango, or Queretaro Mexico
Pacific23: Tarawa Kiribati; Savaii Samoa; Christchurch or Wellington New Zealand
Philippines24: Tacloban or Angeles Philippines
South America Northwest25: Santa Cruz Bolivia; Iquitos Peru; Cali Colombia; Maracaibo Venezuela
South America South26: Bahia Blanca Argentina; Osorno Chile; Ciudad del Este Paraguay
                                                                    
North America (including the United States and Canada)29:
North America Central30: Missoula Montana; Green Bay Wisconsin; Wichita Kansas; Des Moines Iowa; Colorado Springs Colorado; Rapid City South Dakota
North America Northeast31: Cleveland Ohio; East Brunswick New Jersey; Concord New Hampshire
North America Southeast1: Jackson Mississippi; Knoxville Tennessee; Jacksonville Florida; Charlotte North Carolina
North America Southwest2: Queen Creek Arizona; Elko Nevada; Fort Worth Texas; Las Cruces New Mexico 
North America West34: Victoria British Columbia; Eugene Oregon; Fairbanks Alaska; Bakersfield California
Utah35: Herriman Utah; Evanston Wyoming; Heber City Utah; Washington County Utah (Third Temple)

References—Part Three
13As mentioned previously in note 5, although it would not surprise me to see President Nelson (perhaps with an assist from Elder Bednar) provide the initial details and timing involved in his plan to increase the number of temples ten-fold, I do not believe that a mass number of temples will be announced this go-round, since that might detract from the highlighted and intended focus of the bicentennial of the important events of the Restoration. Instead, I am estimating a small number of temples will again be announced, and conjecturing that, if it happens, a mass amount of temples being announced might be deferred for the next 2-3 years or so.
14The Africa Southeast Area has experienced significant Church growth. In fact, the degree to which such growth has occurred resulted in the First Presidency announcing the division of this area on June 26, 2019, which will go into effect in August 2020. There are currently 2 operating temples which are serving this area, with the Durban South Africa Temple set to be dedicated in February of next year. With 2 other announced temples for which a site confirmation or groundbreaking are pending, I have found 6 additional cities which could get a temple in the near future. Most of these candidates are on the list based on either the mileage to the current temple(s), travel rigor, or oversized temple districts. Additionally, Uganda, Madagascar, and Mozambique appear to now be the second, fifth, and sixth respectively among nations with the strongest Church presence that do not yet have a temple in any phase. Due to its’ isolation from the rest of the African continent, Madagascar is my top pick for this area. And in reference to a second DR Congo Temple, I have personally favored Lubumbashi, but a 2019 report on the Church Growth Blog pointed to the idea that a temple in Mbuji-Mayi might be more imminently needed, so both are on this list. Moreover, a temple in Mbuji-Mayi would fulfill the public proposal of a temple for the Kasai region, which was made by Elder Andersen in 2016. For some of these locations which are in political, moral, or other turmoil, the temples mentioned could provide a welcome refuge.
15The same factors I referenced in note 14 above (about significant Church growth, the mileage and rigors involved, and temple district sizes) also applies to the Africa West Area, as reflected by the 4 candidate cities listed here. With only 2 temples currently operating, 1 more under construction, and 2 others announced, the Church Growth Blog has noted that West Africa could have at least 13 operating temples by 2030. Only 1 of the 4 candidate locations I have prioritized for this area does not have a temple in any phase: Liberia, which may now be the nation with the fourth-largest Church presence that does not have a temple in any phase. Also, although it may be difficult to know how soon a second temple in Ghana and the Ivory Coast, or a third Nigerian temple, may be announced, I have felt confident enough in these picks to include them here. 
16The Asian Saints, whose ability to practice their faith has been somewhat limited at times by governmental regulations, are nonetheless very faithful, as evidenced by recent temple announcements for that continent. With 2 temples currently serving the Saints in this area, one other is under construction, and two more have been announced. The factors first mentioned in previous notes above also apply to the Asia Area, which is the largest geographically in the Church. Indonesia may now rank as the tenth nation with the strongest Church presence that does not have a temple in any phase. Additionally, President Hinckley publicly proposed a temple in Singapore around 2 decades ago, and Vietnam is a dark-horse pick that I included based on reports of Church growth in the area. And based on the fact that President Nelson visited Indonesia, Singapore, and Vietnam recently, the odds seem very good that one of them could have a temple announced this go-round.
17Despite the fact that the Asia North Area has seen some stagnating growth conditions, on July 24, 2019, the Mongolian Newsroom shared information indicating that Mongolia was being reassigned from the Asia Area to the Asia North Area. Since Mongolia has been a Church strong-hold, the transfer should enable the Asia North Area to grow in ways it has not yet been able to. Of the locations listed, Mongolia is my favored pick, since that nation may now be the nation with the third-strongest Church presence without a temple. Consequently, any temple to which the Saints in that nation are assigned will involve extensive and expensive travel. Additionally, since President Nelson announced a temple for Yigo Guam in October 2018, and a temple for Okinawa Japan last April, no location can be counted out, which is why my list also includes a probable temple for Osaka. A combination of the reasons I have provided previous leads me to conclude that temples in both Ulaanbaatar and Osaka may simply be a matter of time. 
18Brazil has been a Church stronghold for a while now. With seven temples currently in operation, the Rio de Janeiro Brazil Temple will be dedicated before the Brethren take their annual July re months. The Belem Brazil Temple is now under construction; the Brasilia Brazil Temple may have a groundbreaking at some point before the next General Conference; and more information may soon be released on the Salvador Brazil Temple. Most of the candidates in this section are based on either the undue hardship that is required for them to reach their assigned temple, or the fact that the temples to which they are currently assigned are overcrowded. I anticipate at least one of these locations to have a temple announced this go-round. 
19For this area of the Church, last October, I simply had Kingston Jamaica as a dark-horse pick, because the Kingston Saints are 650 miles from their currently-assigned temple (Panama City Panama), but I have also added Santiago Dominican Republic, as a result of the Dominican Republic seeing somewhat significant growth since the dedication for the Santo Domingo Dominican Republic Temple was held in September 2000. The Saints in Santiago are less than 100 miles from Santo Domingo, but the growth alone may be reason enough to warrant a temple in Santiago, and such a prospect may be slightly more imminent than a temple in Kingston.
20I have previously referenced information on prospective temples in Central America from someone who lives and works in Guatemala. With a temple having been announced in Coban six months ago, this individual informed me that the next most likely prospect would be a temple for Villa Nueva. The only question is how soon that might happen. But for now, I am including it on this list.
21The situation of Saints living on the European continent is somewhat interesting. Where there are centers of strength established, significant growth has occurred. But there has been some stagnant growth through the continent in recent years. With 13 temples currently operating in that nation (in addition to 1 under construction and 1 more that has been announced), the 5 locations noted in this section seem to be the most likely prospects for future temples within this area. The temples in Scotland, Norway, and Austria would be the first in their nations. Given some increased coverage of Spain by the Church News recently, it seems likely that a second temple could go to Barcelona. And with Germany having recently celebrated the 30th anniversary of the Berlin Wall coming down, it would be wonderful to see a temple announced in Berlin, marking another new phase of history for that city.
22Mexico presents an interesting anomaly. With some significant growth in areas of strength, the mass consolidation of units in that nation continues. A temple which was announced in Puebla last October is now under construction, and it is thus difficult to know how soon another temple may be announced for that nation. But the cities of Queretaro and Torreon have been identified by a Church member living in Mexico as likely to get a temple in the near future, so both are on this list. And I have additionally added Durango this go-round based on recent opinions offered by that same individual. The only question might be which one gets priority, and how soon that might occur.  
23The Pacific area is another stronghold of Church growth. With 10 temples currently operating there (and 3 others announced), it seems logical to assume that other temples will be needed to serve the area. Most (if not all) of the factors I mentioned previously apply equally to this area. Additionally, Kiribati may now be ranked first on the aforementioned top ten list of nations. So I have no doubt the Pacific Area will see temples announced in each of these cities within the next 5-7 years, if not sooner. 
24The Church has two operating temples in the Philippines (Manila and Cebu City). The temple announced in October 2010 for Urdaneta is now under construction, with four more announced for Muntinlupa City, Cagayan de Oro, Davao, and Bacolod. If that is any indication of what might happen in the future, then other temples may be needed for the Philippines, and the cities mentioned here seem to have the highest likelihood of having a temple announced, due to difficult travel which may constitute an undue hardship for reasons outlined in prior notes. 
25The entire South American continent has experienced massive Church growth. Having previously discussed Brazil, in reference to the South America Northwest Area, I wanted to observe that there are 8 operating temples there. 2 more are currently under construction in  Lima Peru Los Olivos and Quito Ecuador. And while I have personally-favored La Paz as the candidate for Bolivia’s second temple, my research shows one in Santa Cruz may be more crucially needed. And although I had two candidate cities each for Peru and Colombia, further research has enabled me to narrow each down to the most likely location. Also, President Hinckley publicly proposed a temple in Maracaibo, and further research on my part suggests the time may be right for that prospect.
26The South America South Area has likewise seen very significant and rapidly expanding growth. So again, with President Nelson’s extensive temple-building plans in mind, I have considered the most imminent prospects for future temples in this area, and the factors mentioned in previous notes hold true here as well. Currently, this area of the Church is served by 6 operating temples, and there were 3 more announced for this area in 2018 and last year. With that in mind, the 3 locations listed in this section seem to have the strongest case in their favor of a temple announced in the near future. In reference to Argentina, I received word of a report that Saints in the city of Bahia Blanca were lobbying Salt Lake City for a temple of their own. And in view of President Nelson’s visit to the Buenos Aires area 5 weeks before this General Conference, it seems probable he went there in order to personally assess such a prospect in addition to visiting with Church members there.
27Although the North American continent (primarily in the United States) has seen somewhat of a stagnating growth situation, in light of the recent increased mentions of President Nelson’s ambitious temple-building plans, the likelihood is extremely high that the US and Canada will be included in whatever the plans are to expand the number of temples worldwide. The locations listed below represent what I believe are the most imminent prospects for each of the now-6 North American areas of the Church. 
28As mentioned in previous notes, on the one hand, it may be difficult (if not impossible) to gauge the imminent likelihood of any locations. But as also mentioned, in view of some of the relevant factors, I can see the merits of each location listed here. Particularly, I heard a report of a public proposal of a temple for Missoula Montana. Colorado Springs made the list due to a report I received of high attendance numbers at the Denver Colorado Temple. For Kansas, Iowa, and South Dakota, mileage is the main factor driving my choices, and a temple (if only a smaller one) seems likely for all three states in the near future. And a temple in Iowa could be named for Mount Pisgah, a significant landmark in the pioneer history of the Church.
29Given the steady growth of the Church in Ohio, a second temple seems to be likely sooner rather than later. And New Jersey and New Hampshire may be eligible for the first temples of their own given the distance factor, and the rigors of travel involved in getting to its’ currently-assigned temple.
30Since the Saints in Jackson currently have an arduous journey to get to their assigned temple, it is my opinion that a temple will be announced in that city sooner rather than later. And an arduous journey also factors in to my reasoning for temples in Knoxville, Jacksonville, and Charlotte. If, as I anticipate, President Nelson plans to prioritize the mileage factor and also filling in the gaps that exist in the areas covered by the current temple districts’ coverage, then any or all of these may simply be a matter of time. 
31For this area of the Church, the Saints in some cities currently assigned to temples across the Mexican border may, depending on what happens in the future, have a hard time reaching those temples. With a temple announced for McAllen last April, I am basing my pick for Texas on the opinion of someone living within the current Dallas Texas Temple district. This individual noted that Fort Worth would almost certainly be the next city in Texas to get a temple. So if border issues arise, those could be ameliorated by a temple in Las Cruces, which would likely also cover El Paso for the time being. Arizona and Nevada both fall under the “Mormon corridor”, and, based on further research on my part, I have prioritized Queen Creek due to recent growth in that city. And although Elko and Ely Nevada once seemed to have an equal likelihood of having a temple announced, after further research on my part, I have chosen to prioritize Elko this go-round.
34With this area having been consolidated in August of this year with the North America Northwest Area, there are a total of 3 locations for which I feel a temple announcement is most likely. Victoria was mentioned by name to me by someone living there, who reports the hardship of rigorous travel and the expense involved, which makes a temple a feasible prospect. Fairbanks is one of two Alaskan cities for which I anticipate a temple will be announced in the near future (the other being Juneau), but my research shows the former as being the more imminent prospect. And although there has recently been some stagnant growth in California, Bakersfield has been on my radar for a variety of reasons, many of which have been explained in previous notes. Additionally, in my opinion, the fact that a temple was announced in Yuba City last October does not at this time eliminate the likely imminence of a temple for Bakersfield. 
35Since five new temples have been announced in the Utah Area of the Church during the last four sets of announcements, more are surely in the works. Particularly, a temple site was publicly mentioned as being held in reserve in April 2005 for a temple in the Southwest Salt Lake Valley. Though no official confirmation has occurred, if my research is correct, the land in question has been the subject of a border dispute between Herriman and Bluffdale cities, but is currently owned by the city of Herriman. For Heber City, Preston, and Evanston, they all seem to have an equal likelihood of having a temple announced in the near future. And Elder Steven E. Snow, who was born in Washington County, recently told the Saints there at a stake conference that someone from the Temple Department had indicated to him that a third Washington County temple would be needed in the not-too-distant future. For these reasons, I couldn’t narrow any of these selections down, at least not for the moment.