Serving Up Some Summer Fun

As the summer months are here and you have a more open schedule or looking for some new activities for you and your family, here are some great ideas and opportunities!16x20DiveIntoService-01

Interfaith Ministries (IM) of Greater Houston:

Interfaith Ministries for Greater Houston’s Refugee Services department, in conjunction with the U.S. State Department, Episcopal Migration Ministries and Church World Service, resettles legal refugees fleeing their homeland in fear of political, social or religious persecution. IM helps refugees from around the world make new lives in America.

Donations: There is always a need for household and other items that are given to the refugees when they arrive. Donations are accepted to help with those relocating. Be sure to check the website on ways you can help and dates/times to drop off donations.
https://www.imgh.org/refugee-services/refugee-services-wish-list

Flash cards: Most of our refugees do not know English. Flash cards can be made and given to the families to learn basic English words that can help them get around the Houston area. Adult cards are in greater need however, elementary age children cards are also appreciated.

1. Draw or cut out and paste a picture on one side of the index card – these can be very basic items (oranges, bread, shirt, pants, dress, etc – think simple picture of one item)
2. Flip the card over and write out the word of the picture.
3. Use rubber bands to collect sets of 25 completed refugee cards and package in a sandwich bag.
4. Note on the bag Adult or Child so they know which age group the cards would assist the best.

Refugee flash cards may be delivered/sent to:   Interfaith Ministries 3202 San Jacinto St. Houston, TX 77004

Handmade cards: Holiday or Sympathy cards can be made to brighten the lives of Interfaith Ministries of Greater Houston clients such as recipients of Meals on Wheels. There is no need to place cards in an envelope, many have difficulty getting the cards out of the envelopes due to arthritis and stiff joints.

  • The following holidays are observed: Valentine’s Day, Memorial Day, July 4, Veterans Day, Christmas (generic holidays card around Christmas time). Please no glitter on the cards. Card sentiments should be sensitive to different religions: ‘keeping you in our prayers’ is ok. ‘stay strong, Jesus will guide you’ is not ok. Generic greetings like ‘happy memorial day’ is great. Holiday cards are needed about 3 weeks prior to the holiday as they do not have room to store them for prolonged periods of time.
  • Sympathy cards are always welcome. Sentiments should be sensitive to all religions. Suggested thoughts are:
    • With our deepest heartfelt sympathy at the loss of your loved one….
    • Our thoughts and prayers are with you in this painful season of your life…
    • In prayer for the healing of your heart in a very profound way…

Handmade cards may be delivered/sent to:  Interfaith Ministries/Meals on Wheels 3202 San Jacinto St. Houston, TX 77004

Other opportunities to volunteer at Interfaith Ministries of Greater Houston may be found on their website https://www.imgh.org/ under Meals on Wheels, Refugee Services, or Volunteer. Many things can be done from our area. Meals on Wheels is available in the Katy area for volunteers.

Texas Children’s Hospital (TCH): All items may be dropped at the front desk

Decorate Placemats for Food Trays: Decorate pieces of 11X17 paper to become colorful, encouraging placemats for food trays help brighten TCH patient’s day. Encouraging thoughts, pictures or small activities (tic-tac-toe, connect the dots, etc) patients can enjoy will be helpful.

  • Message guidelines: TCH is unable to use placemats with phrases saying ‘Get better soon’ or similar. Phrases such as ‘Hope you are feeling better’ or ‘Have a happy day’, etc. are appropriate. Patients come from many cultures so they ask that religious phrases/thoughts are not used.
  • Decoration guidelines: Keep in mind food plates are placed on the placemats so multi-dimensional placemats or raised embellishments would be best used another way. These are disposable. No need to laminate. No glitter please. Be creative, colorful and have fun!

Assemble Activity Bags: These bags are used to help a child waiting for a doctor’s appointment, surgery, medical procedure or just needing a little extra love. Small sized paper bags are best. (you may provide artwork on a bag but it is not required.) They are unable to use bags with religious phrases or “Get well soon”. ‘Hope you are feeling better’ is appropriate ). A few sheets of the following are always enjoyed. Coloring sheets, word search pages, hangman, tic-tac-toe, connect the dot, dot-to-dot, etc. may be copied off the internet or from books. A small type toy/activity may be added but not necessary. These may include a small container of playdoh, card game, small puzzles, etc. Patients from 2 – 3 years to older teen enjoy these bags.

Make Fleece Blankets: construct fleece lap blankets of all sizes are always needed. Any child loves to have a soft blanket to cuddle.

Donate New Underwear: New underwear is always needed. Currently there is a need for older children and teens but all sizes are welcome.

Katy Christian Ministries (KCM):

o Make Handmade cards for their clients are always welcome. A cheerful message, religious phrase or Bible scripture on the cards helps to give encouragement to others. Cards may be dropped at the Food Pantry.
o Thrift shop. Donations of gently used clothing (clean and in good repair), housewares and furniture are always accepted. These should be delivered to the rear entrance. Check their website for information on pickup of large furniture at your home. http://ktcm.org/donate/wherewhat-can-i-donate/
o Plastic grocery bags – Clean grocery bags (without holes) are needed at KCM. Flatten your grocery bags and drop them at KCM. 5510 1st Street, Katy, TX Hours: M-F 9am –5 pm, Sat 9am – 1PM

AngelGowns by Diane:

Angel Gowns by Diane provides burial clothing for families who have suffered the loss of a child before, during or shortly after birth at no cost. This is an opportunity to either donate formal dresswear (wedding dresses, bridesmaid dresses and other formal wear) or use your sewing skills to make burial clothing. Contact Diane Dionne at http://angelgownsbydiane.org/

Books Between Kids:

Books Between Kids is a non-profit organization serving Houston’s at-risk children by providing them with books to build their own home libraries. Volunteer or donate gently used children’s books to help children in HISD build a home library. http://www.booksbetweenkids.org/

Case for Smiles:

This is one of the few volunteer organizations solely dedicated to helping sick children cope with the stress of their illnesses and injuries. They provide handmade whimsical pillowcases for each child and distribute them in Katy area hospitals. Check out our website http://caseforsmiles.org/ Contact Theresa in the Katy area for directions on how to make these pillowcases. TheresaForSmiles@comcast.net

Share the gift of Sight:

Recycle eyeglasses you no longer need. The Lion’s Club drop-off box for gently used glasses is located in the front area at Maude Marks Library at 1815 Westgreen, Katy, Texas 77450.

Soul Hope:

Bless those in Uganda in helping to make the upper parts of shoes for people in Uganda. The pattern is traced and then cut from old denim jeans, sent to an individual in the US to send on to Uganda where they employ people in their country to make the shoes. These shoes cover the feet of people in Uganda to help protect them from ‘jiggers’ that burrow into the skin and make it painful and difficult to walk. We are so blessed!!!! http://solehopeparty.org/ or check with Grand Lakes YM/YW for more information. They recently held a Soul Hope Shoe Party for their combined activity.

Organizations that may have an opportunity for Eagle Projects or Personal Progress 10 hour  projects:

Brookwood Community

  • Located in Brookshire, Brookwood  Community is a God-centered educational, residential, and entrepreneurial community for adults with functional disabilities. Contact Brookwood Community directly to see what is needed at the time

 Katy Christian Ministries

  • Food drive summer- early fall.  Donations are needed to help feed others in our community.  Contact Lynn to make arrangements. Pantry Manager:  Lynn.Hooge@ktcm.org
  • Building shelves for Pantry or Thrift Store. Contact Katy Christian Ministries for other projects needed at the time you are identifying a project.
  • For information call Social Services at 281-391-9623.

Katy Parks – Keep Katy Beautiful

  • Contact Amy Reed at Katy Parks and Recreation  email: areed@CityofKaty.com

 Katy Prairie Conservancy­

  • Help maintain KPC’s Coastal Prairie Native Seed Nursery, combat invasive species, mulch trails, clear fences of vegetation, and restore prairie habitats.  Contact Christine Mansfield 713-523-6135  info@katyprairie.org

 

 

COMPASSIONATE HOUSTON WEEK

COMPASSIONATE HOUSTON
APRIL 10 – 16, 2016

Elder Dan Jones, Area Authority for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has encouraged members of the church to reach out and volunteer during Compassionate Houston Week April 10 – 16. Below are a few events still seeking volunteers in the Katy/nearby area. We invite you to volunteer for one of the events as we serve and help strengthen individuals and our community. Sign up is required. See link for each event.

Fri. Apr 15, 2pm- 4pm and Sat. Apr 16, 9 am-11am Sort food donations for Katy Christian Ministries, age 12 and older preferred, volunteers 12 – 13 years old need an adult to accompany them.
To sign up: https://www.justserve.org/project/details/?instanceId=75XZT4RF4R7G2WV7ZXV8

Sat. Apr 16, 1pm – 4 pm Walk and Bike at Brookwood Community. Family friendly!
Sign up to volunteer. Limited space.
www.SignUpGenius.com/go/20F0D4FADAC22A3F85-brookwood

Sat. Apr 16, 8am – Special Olympics Track and Field Meet hosted by Katy Stake YM/YW. See ward YM/YW leaders for details. Katy Stake YM/YW ages 12 –18.

Sat. Apr 16, 8am- 12:30pm – Tree Planting At Paul D. Rushing Park 9114 Katy Hockley Cut off at Hwy 290.
Must sign up in advance to help.
Call Stephen DuBois, Landscaper 713-295-8320 work, 713-459-3981 cell; sdubois@hctx.net.

Apr. 16-17 – BP MS 150 Bike Ride Houston to Austin. Volunteers needed along the route to support the riders.
Register at https://www.justserve.org/

Refugee Assistance
Help Interfaith Ministries as they assist refugees settling in the greater Houston area.
https://www.imgh.org/refugee-services/refugee-services-wish-list

Check https://www.justserve.org/ for many other volunteer listings and Just Serve.

Questions??? Contact Steve or Sue Feil, Katy Stake Public Affairs Community Service Specialists at ssfeil@swbell.net or 281-578-5047.

Katy Stake Trek 2016

Just two weeks ago, 200 high school youth from our stake gave up part of their spring break to participate in a 3 day Pioneer Trek and experience firsthand the faith and determination it took to make the journey across the plains. They participated in a variety of faith-building experiences similar to those of the pioneers who made the journey to the Salt Lake Valley in the mid-1800s.
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Over the course of the trek more than 11 miles were walked while pulling handcarts through some rough terrain that included many steep hills and a lot of mud. The youth were divided into families and led by a “ma and pa”, each family working together to overcome the obstacles. Jonah Turner of the Katy 2nd Ward said, “Going into Trek I didn’t really know anyone in my Family but by the end I felt extremely close to everyone and was very sad to return to my ‘normal’ life.” 3
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Hundreds of hours of planning took place in the months leading up to trek to pull off such a wonderful experience for these youth! 15 handcarts were made (many as part of an Eagle Scout project), meals planned and then enough food brought up to the remote location to feed the 200 youth and 50 adult volunteers, music prepared, pioneer games and activities were carefully planned (such as candle dipping and taffy pulling), babies were made by a quilting group for each family to care for along the trek, tents donated, fresh water brought in, etc. It was definitely all worth it to see the amazing experiences the youth came away with! “Trek was a wonderful experience for me. It was cool to get to see what my ancestors had to experience. It was very humbling and amazing to see how dedicated these people were to the church,” said Daemon Morse of the Katy Mills Ward.

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An especially moving moment for many was the women’s pull. The journey already long and difficult when pulling heavy handcarts, only intensified when the men were pulled away as a way to reinact being enlisted by the Mormon Battalion, leaving the women to pull their heavy handcarts alone.
Firesides were held each evening and on the last night we were lucky enough to have Brother and Sister Jim and Ola Mae Williams from Mesa Arizona host a square dance and then speak at the concluding fireside. They served a mission in Martin’s Cove and welcomed thousands off the trail, telling stories of the pioneers and calling the square dances there. It was a perfect way to end the long, hard days walking and pulling.

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Myah Perez of the Grand Lakes Ward summarized the experience perfectly, “Trek was an awesome experience for me! One of my favorite things about it was meeting new people and bonding with them through the hard things we faced. I think the biggest lesson I learned is that we can accomplish great things with the help of good people and the help of the Lord. I’ve come to realize that although there will sometimes be trials placed into our paths that are too difficult to bear alone, as brothers and sisters, we can help bear each other’s burdens through our service and love. We should always remember that the Savior loves us perfectly and will never abandon us in our times of need. I’m grateful that I got to go on trek this year, and that I was able to draw closer to my Savior while doing so!” 15
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For information on the actual pioneer trek made by so many early saints, click HERE.
And you can see more pictures and videos from our stake’s trek experience HERE.

Houston’s Compassion Week, 4/9-16

compassion houston

Compassionate Houston began in 2011 by developing a network of organizations and individuals interested in focusing on developing more compassion in Houston. Every year they celebrate Houston’s Compassion Week to encourage and promote greater service and increasing relationships within our city. For more information and a list of the participating churches, organizations and individuals, go to:  http://compassionatehouston.org/

By participating in service projects during this week of service April 9-16th we can emulate the example of Jesus Christ and join with church members and friends in the greater Houston area to serve and strengthen our community. Listed below are the projects that the Katy Texas Stake have planned or are supporting. We invite our members and friends to participate. Please support this opportunity to serve our community and sign up you and/or your family for one or more of the events.

  • Saturday, April 9th, 9am– 1pm.  Don’t mess with Texas Trash-Off Katy Style! a community wide cleanup event spearheaded by TxDOT and Keep Katy Beautiful. Volunteer as an individual, family, or team.  Every volunteer age 1 – 101 will need to register online no later than April 1.  Family friendly. For more information and to sign up online http://cityofkaty.com/dont-mess-with-texas-trash-off-katy-style/
  • Friday, April 15th afternoon and Sat Apr 16th morning – ‘If you can’t feed a hundred people, you can feed just one.’  ~Mother Theresa. Help Katy Christian Ministries as they feed many each month. Sort and organize food donations in preparation for distribution.  For more information and to sign up:  https://www.justserve.org/  Due to space limitations, volunteers should be age 12 and older only, and volunteers 12 – 13 years old need an adult to volunteer with them.  https://www.justserve.org/project/details/?instanceId=75XZT4RF4R7G2WV7ZXV8
  • Saturday April 16th, 1pm – 4 pm.  Support fitness at Brookwood Community in Brookshire for a Walk and Bike Bring your bike to ride, walk with the residents or come and cheer everyone on.  We will begin gathering at 1 PM, then bike, walk or cheer the participants on.  A brief social will be held around 3:30 for all to enjoy. Family friendly!   Sign up to volunteer, space is limited.  http://www.signupgenius.com/go/20f0d4fadac22a3f85-brookwood
  • Sat, April 16, Katy Stake YM/YW will host the Special Olympics Track and Field Meet at Cinco Ranch High School.  Check with your ward YM/YW leaders for more details.  Katy Stake YM/YW ages 14 – 18.

There are many other opportunities listed on JustServe.org including:

  • BP MS 150 Bike Ride Houston to Austin April 16-17:  volunteers needed along the route to support the riders.  For many BPMS 150 Bike Ride opportunities and to sign up see  https://www.justserve.org/
  • Saturday, Apr 16, 8am- 12:30pm – Tree Planting At Paul D. Rushing Park  9114 Katy Hockley Cut off at Hwy 290.  Must sign up in advance to help (please do not just show up). Call  Stephen DuBois, Landscaper 713-295-8320 work, 713-459-3981 cell  sdubois@hctx.net. Precinct 3 is willing to open the park weekdays during the Week of Service April 11-16. Please call for an appointment if your group wishes to volunteer on a date other than Saturday. Apr 16, 8am – 12:30pm. They will accommodate volunteer’s schedules.  Groups up to 50 volunteers are welcome: Families, Scouts (Eagle Scouts), and other groups. If you need more information, contact Steve & Sue Feil at ssfeil@swbell.net.

If you have any questions about participating in Houston’s Compassion Week, please contact Sue & Steve Feil, Katy Stake Public Affairs Community Service Specialists, at ssfeil@swbell.net or 281-578-5047.

 

World Wide Sing-Along!

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The Mormon Tabernacle Choir will perform Handel’s Messiah on Good Friday, March 25, 2016 as a way to celebrate the birth, life, death and resurrection of Christ during the Easter weekend. The choir will be joined by a full orchestra and four soloists from the Metropolitan Opera, This concert will be held in the Tabernacle on Temple Square and the last time they performed this sacred work in 2014, the tickets sold out in 7 minutes! This time the Mormon Tabernacle Choir chose to find a way that more can enjoy this beautiful concert and will be live streaming the concert on March 25, 2016 as a world-wide sing-along celebration of the life of our Savior.

You can watch the concert at home if you like, (http://www.mormontabernaclechoir.org/messiah.html), but it will also be available to watch live streaming at the Katy Stake Center that same evening. The pre-concert feed will begin at 8:00 pm and the full concert will follow at 8:30 pm and will last over 2 hours. Words to these sacred songs will be provided and the audience will be invited to sing along with the choir.

If you would like to learn more about the history of Handel’s Messiah, there is a great summary listed here:
http://www.mormontabernaclechoir.org/articles/history-of-handels-hallelujah-chorus.html

Recognizing and Following the Spirit

During our Stake Conference on February 7th, Brother John Evans gave a talk about how we can recognize and follow the Spirit. Below is a portion of his talk that can help each of us in living our lives in a way that we can recognize the spirit and be ready to follow the promptings we receive.

“…Recognizing and following the Spirit will be a great guide and protection in our lives. How do we recognize that voice? How do we know when it is the Lord guiding us and not just us listening to our own desires?

You have the Spirit when: you have a sense of deep gratitude for the leaders of the Church—that they have lived lives that enable them to be trusted agents for Heavenly Father and give us reliable guidance; when you sincerely want to sustain them in building the Kingdom.

You have the Spirit when: you accept others as they are. This doesn’t mean you accept sin as not-sin, or participate with them in unwholesome activities, but that you accept them as they are. You don’t demand that they live up to your expectations. You acknowledge they are dealing with their own challenges, perhaps the best they can, just as you are dealing with your own.

You have the Spirit when: you encourage people. Your desire is to build others up, not tear them down.

You have the Spirit when: you have an intense desire to help others and are willing to sacrifice for their well-being.

You have the Spirit when: you are in awe of the Book of Mormon because it is filled with the most profound truths and knowledge relevant to your personal success in life.

You have the Spirit when: you are not defeated by your past mistakes. You know Christ did not bleed from every pore in the Garden of Gethsemane and cry out to His Father from the cross for nothing. You know, deep down, that He was doing something essential for you. It was so you could be cleansed from the sins you have committed and others could be healed from the harm you have caused them.

You have the Spirit when: you love the hymns of the Church. They change your mood from anxiety and fear to tranquility and hope.

You have the Spirit when: you pray a lot. You know that there are many things that matter a great deal to you that you have no control over. But you know all things are possible for Heavenly Father. You lay those problems at His feet.
ou have the Spirit when: you forgive yourself. No message comes more strongly through the Holy Ghost than that Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ love you. Knowing that they love you, you can love yourself—or learn to love yourself again if you have forgotten how.

You have the Spirit when: you can accept the challenges of life: the physical handicaps, the illnesses, the setbacks, even the failures. You trust that the Lord knows what He is doing with your life and that your experiences here are necessary preparation for a future wonderful beyond the mind of mortal man to comprehend.

You have the Spirit when: you love the temple. You go there to marinate in the Holy Spirit.

To have the Holy Spirit we must implement procedures that will invite His presence. Many of you already do what is needed, and your list may be different than mine. I am intensely aware, however, that when someone comes to receive a patriarchal blessing it is the only one they will ever receive and that both Heavenly Father and the individual expect me to do it right. It is a heavy responsibility. My only job—one single thing—is to say the words the Holy Spirit puts into my mind. There is nothing unusual about that, however. It is exactly the same process every Elder uses when he gives a blessing for healing or comfort. It is exactly the same process a bishop uses when he is giving counsel, or a mother when she is thoughtfully advising a child. All of us need inspiration daily.

Here are some of the things I do to invite the Spirit:

I read a chapter from one of the four gospels about Christ every day because the Sacrament prayer promises that if we remember Him we will have His Spirit. When I read about Him, I remember Him.

Mary Ann and I read a chapter of the Book of Mormon together every day. There is such a power in that book I am afraid not to read it each day.

I read a conference talk every day. I believe it is easier to be in tune with what the Spirit wants said to this generation if I study what that same Spirit has instructed our Church leaders to teach us.

I seek and pray to be forgiven of my sins. I believe the Lord can do that so there will be less impediment to inspiration.

I pray, before giving each blessing, that I will say everything Heavenly Father wants me to say and that I will not say anything He doesn’t want me to say.

I don’t speak disrespectfully of Church leaders nor dismissively of revealed doctrine. If I disrespect what has been revealed through them, how can I expect the Spirit to reveal more to me?

I write down and review the personal revelations I receive. Receiving personal inspiration and direction is not rare. It is not unusual. If I don’t value what I have received, why should I expect to be given more?

I try to avoid conflict and contention. I don’t always succeed at that—after all, I’m an attorney. But I’m aspiring to get better at it.

Learning to recognize the Spirit is important because His touch is often a very soft one—just a gentle nudge…”

These are some great ideas for us to try and implement in our own lives, as well as a reminder for small steps we can take each day to be more like our Savior.
Happy Sabbath Day!

Having Faith

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During Stake Conference on February 7, 2016 President Morris gave a wonderful talk that reinforced the importance of strengthening our relationship with Christ.
Since one part of our Katy Stake Focus is “Strengthening our faith in Jesus Christ and in His Atonement and deepening our discipleship” I felt this was a perfect reminder.
Below are some excerpts from his powerful testimony…

“In our November conference, I said “If we merely have a social conversion and conform our lives only when it is socially expedient, the day is quickly coming when it will be too uncomfortable socially to belong to the Church. Those who are built on a sandy foundation will be swept away by the tide of the world.” I would like to talk about building upon the rock and the role of our testimonies in pressing forward through the storm.

In a world that is increasingly challenging and even hostile to faith – those of faith are viewed as weak-minded, naive, and even the source of the problem. Cynicism is fueled by citing the many atrocities that have occurred over time in the name of God and faith, or by declaring the hypocrisy of those whose actions are far from their words. As the Lord said to Joseph Smith, “they draw near to me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me, they teach for doctrines the commandments of men, having a form of godliness, but they deny the power thereof.” And so, declaring religion a failure, they are free to chart their own course. If there is no God, or he doesn’t really care what we do, then all is well. In that context, the scriptures don’t matter, or at best, they are open to interpretation. They can be distorted to fit in any image man desires – as we mingle the philosophies of men with scripture.

So, how do we immunize ourselves against these aggressive forces of opposition? We need to be settled on four fundamental truths of which I bear you my solemn witness today.

1) We are children of a loving Heavenly Father – we existed before this life and we will after. We have a divine nature and purpose. We are created in His image. In all the vastness of his creations, ultimately, his plan is very personal and individual to each one of us. He loves us and he has reserved his choicest blessings for those who love him.
“Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him.”
How do I know this – because he has shown me that it is so as he hears and answers my prayers, as I see the blessings of his gospel and the gift of his Son in my life – I know it is all for a far greater purpose than to just exist for this lifetime and then vanish.
He loves us and wants each of us home.

2) Jesus Christ is the Son of God, the Savior of the world, the Redeemer of mankind. It is a fact that he existed. Who he really was, and what his purpose was are the subjects of debate. Let us settle it in our hearts and minds brothers and sisters and be witnesses of Him.
He lived a perfect life, he fulfilled the Law of Moses and established the new covenant, he established his Church led by apostles under priesthood authority, he performed many mighty miracles including power over death, he suffered the pains, sickness, infirmities, and sins of all mankind in the Garden of Gethsemane, and then submitted himself to the hands of vile and evil men to be crucified. He voluntarily gave his life. Three days later by the Jewish accounting of time, he took it up again – and broke the bands of spiritual and physical death.
He heals all who will exercise faith and come unto him – through both the redeeming and strengthening power of His Atonement. Because of him, we are never trapped in our past – we can become new and we have hope. I testify of these truths borne out of very personal experiences that I cannot deny.

3) The restored Church is upon the earth. I speak with many of my Christian friends who declare that revelation and authority all ended with the Bible and the death of the apostles. There was no more need for anything further. I find that surprising on many levels. I have spoken with some members of the Church who are struggling with or who declare that they no longer believe the Church is true or that Joseph Smith was a prophet. I am reminded of those who were offended by various things the Savior said and did and “walked with him no more.” He asked Peter, “wilt thou also go away?” Peter responded, “Where wilt I go – thou has the words of eternal life.”
To those who have decided to go away, I ask in a similar fashion, where will you go? And I ask the question, did Christ intend for his Church to be organized and directed under apostolic authority? If so, and it is not here, where is it? You better go find it.
The scriptures make it clear Christ did intend for His Church to be led under such priesthood authority. “And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ: That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive;” Was that just referring to a period of 100 years 2000 years ago, when throughout millennia, he spoke through prophets? Do we no longer need to come to the unity of the faith? Are we no longer tossed to and fro by every wind of doctrine?
So, assuming he did intend for it to endure – it could only happen through one of 3 two means – unbroken line of authority, or a restoration. So then, the Restoration either occurred as we declare, or it has not come, because no other church makes such a claim.
Brothers and sisters, I testify that Christ intended for priesthood keys to direct his church – through revelation and through the ordinances of salvation. The Church is not perfect – it is led by imperfect men and women, because that is all God has to work with on this earth – but it is done under His authority and direction. Its fruits are a testament of that reality.

4) Finally, two interrelated points – Joseph Smith is a prophet and the Book of Mormon is the word of God. If the Church and priesthood authority were intended to endure, and the line of authority was broken, how did it return? It occurred as a young boy declared when he asked the question – “where was Christ’s church?” He received a very emphatic, personal answer as he saw God the Father and the Son. This began a cascading of revelation and restoration – the Book of Mormon, Aaronic and Melchizedek priesthood keys, the church organization, keys to the gathering and sealing power.
“To those of faith who, looking through the colored glasses of the 21st century, honestly question events or statements of the Prophet Joseph from nearly 200 years ago, may I share some friendly advice: For now, give Brother Joseph a break! In a future day, you will have 100 times more information than from all of today’s search engines combined, and it will come from our all-knowing Father in Heaven “
A word about the Book of Mormon – it was translated in 90 days, never reviewed, seen by 11 witnesses that never denied it. Again, facts – but I know of its truth borne out of the confirmation of the Spirit and the fruits as I have studied and applied it. It teaches powerful, fundamental truths that complement, clarify, and reinforce the doctrine of the Bible. It bears a powerful witness of the reality of Christ, who he is, and how we must come unto him.
For example, the Bible uses the word Atonement once. In the Book of Mormon, it is used 39 times. It testifies of Christ and was written for our day. I love the Book of Mormon – and I bear my solemn witness, it is true. Only a prophet would able to bring such a book forward.
There is much we don’t know or understand but that does not negate the truth that we do. The Lord has always revealed truth through his chosen servants – sometimes via messengers, sometimes by vision, and sometimes by the whisperings of the Spirit. This was done anciently and again today – they witness and then they testify. Their witness is then left for us to accept or reject.

You should not be discouraged or feel shaken because of things you may not know or understand. Focus on what you do know and move forward in faith – with great resolve, urgency, and focus as we did in the storm.
I have always loved the account in Mark of the man with the afflicted child. “Jesus said unto him, If thou canst believe, all things are possible to him that believeth. . . Lord, I believe, help thou mine unbelief.” I love the integrity of his response – recognizing what he wanted more than anything but acknowledging that he was still imperfect in his understanding.

Never lose courage, hope, or focus. Press forward with steadfastness in Christ – be not faithless but believing. As you do, you will withstand the tempest and he will guide you safely to the harbour. And just as I relied on my father to get us safely through the storm, your children are relying on your faith and testimonies to develop their own and to help them navigate through the spiritual storm.
Elder Neil A. Maxwell said, “Small equivocations in parents lead to large deviations in children.” We should not take such accountability lightly. I testify of the anchoring power of these four truths.”

In honor of Mothers

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We have a free printable for you in honor of Mother’s Day!
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Although we may not all be mothers, we each have a mother, a grandmother, a wife, a sister, a daughter or a friend in our lives who deserves to be appreciated and honored.

I love this quote from Elder Russel M. Nelson,
“During my professional career as a doctor of medicine, I was occasionally asked why I chose to do that difficult work. I responded with my opinion that the highest and noblest work in this life is that of a mother. Since that option was not available to me, I thought that caring for the sick might come close. I tried to care for my patients as compassionately and competently as Mother cared for me.
Many years ago the First Presidency issued a statement that has had a profound and lasting influence upon me. “Motherhood,” they wrote, “is near to divinity. It is the highest, holiest service to be assumed by mankind. It places her who honors its holy calling and service next to the angels.”
Russell M. Nelson, “Our Sacred Duty to Honor Women,” Ensign, May 1999, 38

Being a mother is definitely hard, but it is also so very important and rewarding!
Here are a few other favorite talks from our church leaders on motherhood for your reading pleasure:

Your Greatest Challenge, Mother Gordon B. Hinckley, October 2000
Because She is a Mother Jeffrey R. Holland, April 1997
Daughters of God Elder M. Russell Ballard, April 2008
Mothers Who Know Julie B. Beck, October 2007

Invite One

We have been challenged by our Stake Presidency in recent months to Invite One person to one church event. It could be a church meeting, church basketball, dance, seminary, Relief Society, the family history center. There are countless ideas!
Stake conference is coming up in just 2 more weeks (21 February, Saturday, at 7pm ADULT Session of Stake Conference and 22 February, Sunday, at 10am) which provides yet another opportunity.
We would love to share some of the experiences of the members of our stake as they participate in this initiative, so please let us know if you have a story to share!

Here is one member’s recent inspiring experience:

“I read Brother Moriss’ challenge to them on Monday and they decided they would put their faith in action this very week. They each prayed about a name of a friend they could invite to seminary on Friday, and once they shared the name they’d chosen, we prayed for those names as a class all week. Two girls invited their whole swim team. One young man challenged his whole soccer team to attend, assuring them they’d win their game if they attended seminary at 6am on game day. Not every invitation was accepted, but Friday morning, we had an additional FOUR young people attend seminary with us. We read from the scriptures, several students bore testimony of personal revelation and God’s plan for us, and then we enjoyed a LOT of donuts. It was awesome.

I’ve learned some things this week…

That when the Lord, through His servants, extends a challenge, the youth are willing and eager to demonstrate the faith enough to accomplish the request.

I learned that we need only be brave enough to extend the invitation… that if a teenager is willing to attend a 6am prayer meeting, then my neighbor or co-worker or relative just might attend a 10 am church meeting or a fireside or a Family Home Evening with me, too.

I’ve learned that the youth of this world who are not of our faith are just as hungry for truth and light as we are, and that I, as is everyone else in our Stake, am under obligation to help them find it.

And I learned that the youth of our Stake are born missionaries, we need only teach them and show them an example worthy of following, and they will perform the work they’ve been born to do.

I know that as teachers, we issue challenges and invitations to our students all of the time. I was especially humbled and impressed that these kids took this one to heart and that our experience was such a positive one. I know the Lord is mindful of these youth and that this is one of many miracles we can witness when we help these children understand His ways.

Thanks for letting me share!

G Woolwine
Cinco West Ward

PS One guest has said he will attend next Friday, when one of my students (his friend) will be teaching a 5 minute lesson
PSS The soccer team won their game, 4-0. Whew!”