Katy Family History Fair

On October 25th, our stake hosted a magnificent family history fair.
Many people put much time, energy and prayer into the planning of the educational event.
For those of us new to family history, it can seem very overwhelming to get started.
At the fair nearly every aspect of family history was covered: how to get started on familysearch.org, what types of research can be done online (and where), creating family history books, and even tips for writing your own personal history.
Another topic covered was the importance of working with your living ancestors. I especially love this idea and think about how I should get started on it often.
One of the presenters quoted Bruce Feiler, who said, “The single most important thing you can do for your family may be the simplest of all: develop a strong family narrative…The bottom line: if you want a happier family, create, refine and retell the story of your family’s positive moments and your ability to bounce back from the difficult ones. That at alone may increase the odds that your family will thrive for many generations to come.”
Now we just need to do it!
Another great way to get started is to try out family indexing. It is simple and fulfilling, and everything you need is provided for you. Try it out HERE!
Modern-day prophets and apostles have continually taught the need for Church members to become involved in family history work. Elder Richard G. Scott expressed, “The real value of research in identifying ancestors is providing the ordinances for them in the temple.” And Russel M. Nelson said, “When our hearts turn to our ancestors, something changes inside us. We feel part of something greater than ourselves. Our inborn yearnings for family connections are fulfilled when we are linked to our ancestors through sacred ordinances of the temple.”
If you were unable to attend, don’t worry, they have posted much of the information shared for us to easily access!
Just click HERE for handouts, power point presentations, etc.
You can also visit the Katy Texas Family History page on Facebook to find out the latest information.

Becoming Perfected in Christ 

In a recent Stake Conference, President Russell Shurtz gave a talk about how we can become perfected in Christ. This something that is so important for us to be reminded of as we go throughout our busy and often complicated lives. Here are some excerpts from his wonderful talk to brighten your Sunday!


Becoming Perfected in Christ
Where is your heart with the Lord? Where are you in your personal relationship with Jesus Christ?
Tonight I have felt impressed to share a few thoughts about how each of us can:
* Turn our hearts more fully to the Savior
* Learn to trust Christ more, to accept and appreciate his Atonement more fully in our lives, and let Him help carry our burdens
*Understand what the scriptures mean by “perfection” and how we can become perfected in Christ without being overwhelmed by unrealistic expectations we may have of ourselves.

When I was in high school, I can remember sitting at the lunch room table with a group of my friends one day. Somehow the conversation turned to religion. In my graduating class of just under 300 students, there were only 3 members of the Church. We lived in small town South Carolina in the heart of the Bible Belt, where even today the Church is still relatively small. Many of my friends knew precious little about our Church. On this particular day, we started talking about some doctrinal things like whether there could be any scriptures beyond the Bible and what it meant to be “saved”.
This was perhaps the first time that I can recall ever thinking deeply about these important Gospel principles. I realized that my friends had very different views than I did. This forced me to do some real soul searching and pondering and reading. I spent time talking with my parents and my seminary teachers.
One thing that really struck me was my friends’ view that in our Church, we placed too much emphasis on “earning” our way back to Heaven and thus didn’t really believe in Jesus Christ, the power of the cross, and His saving blood.
I was puzzled a bit. Was it my faithful obedience to the commandments and my personal righteousness that would help me return back to Heavenly Father? Or, as some of my friends felt, was it solely the Grace of Jesus Christ that would bring me back to Heavenly Father, regardless of what I actually did in terms of my obedience. They felt adamantly that after accepting Jesus Christ as our personal Lord and Savior, there was very little to do beyond that.
And so for several years after this conversation I grappled and struggled to understand what was true. It was while serving as a full-time missionary in Venezuela and gaining a deeper knowledge of God’s word that I developed a more clear understanding of our relationship with Christ—and what He and Heavenly Father expect of us.

I came to realize that while it was NOT true that we could simply profess Jesus and all was done, there was actually some truth in what my friends had shared with me. I knew that “faith without works is dead”—and that each of us must endure faithfully to the end, but I still found an important grain of truth in my friends’ faith. I saw that some of my friends were actively striving to embrace Christ, to let him carry their burdens, and to allow his Grace, love and mercy to strengthen them and fill them with joy and optimism in the journey. They clearly were not trying to do it all on their own. In contrast, to some extent, I had been.
In short, I had not fully appreciated the lifting and strengthening power of Christ’s grace. I had instead been primarily focused on dutifully following all of the commandments—mostly on my own. As a young person, I had some gaps in my testimony and my faith. I had sincere questions. I struggled sometimes with self-esteem, with wanting to know whether God really heard my prayers and would answer them. Whether He truly had a plan for me in this world. Whether He knew me individually.

In the 25 years since this enlightening conversation with my friends, I have come to see how we as members of this glorious Church may occasionally leave divine help on the table. We sometimes “live beneath our privileges”. We may be under-utilizing and under-appreciating the Atonement. We sometimes seem to unwittingly pull the load alone, not accepting Christ’s heartfelt offer to “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest . . . For my yoke is easy and my burden is light (Matthew 11:28, 30).

Brothers and Sisters, sometimes we and those we love may struggle with feelings of inadequacy. We worry that we’re not measuring up. We’re so far from being perfect. We may do fine for a while, but then we slip and fall. We then beat ourselves up. We see so clearly our shortcomings—and tend to compare our weaknesses with the strengths we perceive in those around us. No matter how hard we try, we simply will NOT be able to be perfect in this life.
My message and invitation tonight is NOT that we should stop striving to be like and follow Jesus. Indeed, if we are to reach God’s ultimate goal for each one of us to become more like Him, we MUST strive to emulate the Son in all that we do. But my invitation tonight IS that perhaps each of us, IN OUR STRIVING, can better understand and draw upon the transforming power of Christ’s Atonement, his love, his mercy, and his grace—all of which are freely offered to us. We can realize that its not just about us and our strivings—its about Christ and what he’s already accomplished for us.

I recently came across some beautiful insights shared by Elder Gerrit W Gong of the Seventy on this topic. Listen to what he’s learned:
“Understanding the Savior’s freely given atoning love can free us from self-imposed, incorrect, and unrealistic expectations of what perfection is. Such understanding allows us to let go of fears that we are imperfect—fears that we make mistakes, fears that we are not good enough, fears that we are a failure compared to others, fears that we are not doing enough to merit His love. The Savior’s freely given atoning love helps us become more forgiving and less judgmental of others and of ourselves. This love heals our relationships and gives us opportunities to love, understand, and serve as our Savior would.
His atoning love changes our concept of perfection. We can put our trust in Him, diligently keep His commandments, and continue in the faith (Mosiah 4:6)—even as we also feel greater humility, gratitude, and dependence on His merits, mercy, and grace (2 Nephi 2:8).”

The word “perfection” as used in the scriptures is often misunderstood. In the Sermon on the Mount, the Savior commands us, “Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.” (Matthew 5:48). Note the footnote here indicating that the Greek word for perfect means “complete, finished, fully developed”. This is far different from the mistaken view when the scriptures speak of perfection, it means never making a mistake.

So how can we do what Elder Gong describes and more fully accept the Savior’s Atonement, trust Him more, and let Him carry our burdens—avoiding the pitfalls of perfectionism?
Tonight I’d like to propose that it largely comes down to our heart. This is why I started my remarks by asking you where your heart is with the Lord? The scriptures have some beautiful insights about how our heart ultimately is the key.
1 Kings 8:56-61
King Solomon offered a beautiful dedicatory prayer for the temple. They had just placed in the Holy of Holies the ark of the covenant, containing the sacred tablets with the 10 commandments. Solomon then offered this inspired blessing upon all those who were in attendance:
57The Lord our God be with us, as he was with our fathers: let him not leave us, nor forsake us:
 58 That he may incline our hearts unto him, to walk in all his ways
60 That all the people of the earth may know that the Lord is God, and that there is none else.
 61 Let your heart therefore be perfect with the Lord our God, to walk in his statutes, and to keep his commandments, as at this day.
We find a similar teaching in 2 Chronicles 16:9
For the eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to shew himself strong in the behalf of them whose heart is perfect toward him.
I believe there is vital lesson for us in these verses. They indicate that the Lord wants us to make our heart right with Him. To get our desires right. To strive to love him and trust him. Our hearts are then perfect with the Lord and toward the Lord.

As we are struggling through this life, we often will be reminded that we are far from perfect. We will make mistakes. We likely will not be the perfect student, the perfect athlete, the perfect musician, the perfect artist, or the perfect missionary. We won’t have the perfect body or the perfect mind. And importantly, we will not be the perfect parent or the perfect child, the perfect homemaker or the perfect breadwinner. And occasionally we will stub our toe and sin. Sometimes our sins may feel like far more than just stubbing our toe.
Satan would have us believe that we should just give up because it is impossible for us to be the best—or to perfectly live the Gospel in this life. Indeed, many of us have fallen prey to this defeatist attitude at one time or another—because discouragement is such an intensely powerful tool of the Adversary.
But the scriptures teach the important principle that God is really looking on our heart. Are we trying to turn to Him? Are we striving to stay close to Him? Do we recognize that its His perfection, not ours, that ultimately will carry the day? In our weakness, are we actively trying to draw upon the power of the Atonement for strength to resist temptation or to overcome trials and tribulations?
In short, we cannot and should not try to do this on our own. God simply expects us to do the best we can, knowing that we will make some mistakes along the way.

Elder Neal A. Maxwell cautions us: ‟What can we do to manage these vexing feelings of inadequacy? . . . We can distinguish more clearly between divine discontent and the devil’s dissonance, between dissatisfaction with self and disdain for self. We need the first and must shun the second, remembering that when conscience calls to us from the next ridge, it is not solely to scold but also to beckon. (“Notwithstanding My Weakness,” Ensign, November 1976, p. 14.)”

We need to get our heart right with the Lord. As we strive to be like Christ and to follow his perfect example, let’s remember to be patient and kind with those around us and with ourselves. God’s word has made clear that we do well when we strive for our hearts to be full of compassion and Christ’s love.
Listen to these beautiful words in Colossians 3:12-14
12 Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering;
13 Forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye.
14 And above all these things put on charity, which is the bond of perfectness.

If we ultimately want to become like our Savior, more perfect and more holy, we need to be filled with His pure love—which the scriptures call Charity. How fitting that the scriptures equate charity with being perfect—“perfectness.” I want to close with a powerful doctrine from the Book of Mormon about how a loving Heavenly Father helps us ultimately become more like him. The scriptures of the Restoration shed such remarkable light on the Savior, his Atonement, the Great Plan of Happiness, and our journey back home to Heavenly Father.
Moroni 10: 32-33 
32 Yea, come unto Christ, and be perfected in him, and deny yourselves of all ungodliness; and if ye shall deny yourselves of all ungodliness, and love God with all your might, mind and strength, then is his grace sufficient for you, that by his grace ye may be perfect in Christ; and if by the grace of God ye are perfect in Christ, ye can in nowise deny the power of God.
33 And again, if ye by the grace of God are perfect in Christ, and deny not his power, then are ye sanctified in Christ by the grace of God, through the shedding of the blood of Christ, which is in the covenant of the Father unto the remission of your sins, that ye become holy, without spot.

How beautiful it is to note that perfection here is never referenced without being followed by the words “in Christ.” How comforting that our “perfection” is not measured by never making a mistake in life. God is fully aware that our performance on this grand stage of life will not be flawless. Indeed, we couldn’t become who He wants us to become without making some mistakes along the way. I love how Elder Gong described this process of becoming perfected in Christ.
Becoming perfect results from our journey through physical life, death, and resurrection, when all things are restored “to their proper and perfect frame” (Alma 40:23). It includes the process of spiritual birth, which brings “a mighty change” to our hearts and dispositions (Mosiah 5:2). It reflects our lifelong refinement through Christlike service and obedience to the Savior’s commandments and our covenants.
Our learning in this life comes line upon line, struggle by struggle, and repentance upon repentance. As I watch my precious little 3 year old boy growing and learning, the only time I really get frustrated is when he’s not willing to try. I see so visibly how he’s learning when he touches something that’s hot. How sad he is when others are eating ice cream that he can’t enjoy because he didn’t eat his vegetables. And how he’s trying so hard to get the button to button or the shoe to fit on his foot.
Brothers and Sisters, God sees us in a very similar light. He wants us to learn and to grow. He wants us to trust Him. He wants us to keep striving and not give up. But he doesn’t want us to do it all on our own. He sent the greatest source of Help and Support that any of us could ever need in the gift of his beloved Son.
May we turn our heart more fully to the Savior—and strive to fill our heart with His pure love, which is charity—the bond of perfectness.
And may we understand God’s beautiful message about how through the Atonement we can become perfected in Christ without being overwhelmed by our own imperfections and unrealistic expectations

How Fathers Can Provide Spiritual Leadership to Their Children

During the Priesthood leadership session of our Katy Stake Conference in August, President David Sosa gave a wonderful talk. Below you will find some inspired ideas for fathers that he mentioned.
I think they are helpful for all of us as we work to strengthen our families and lead our children in the gospel.
father 1
How Fathers Can Provide Spiritual Leadership to Their Children
1. Use our priesthood to bless our children. Look for opportunities to share our priesthood with them. Give them father’s blessings. Baptize and confirm them. Ordain our sons to the priesthood. These will become spiritual highlights in their lives. This will also help them gain a testimony and appreciation of the priesthood we hold.
2. Personally direct family prayers, daily scripture reading, and weekly family home evenings. It is our responsibility as a priesthood holder and a father to make sure these important activities take place in our homes. Our personal involvement will teach our children how important these activities really are.
3. Whenever possible, attend church meetings together as a family. Family worship under our leadership is vital to our children’s spiritual welfare.
4. Spend time with our children. Go on dad/daughter dates and on father/son outings. As family, go on campouts/picnics, to ball games, recitals, school programs and so forth. Having dad there and being emotionally present makes all the difference.
5. Build traditions of family vacations, trips, and outings. These memories will never be forgotten by our children.
6. Have regular one on one visits with our children. Let them talk about what they want to discuss. Teach them true values. Teach them gospel principles. Tell them we love them. Personal time with our children will show them what dad considers to be important.
7. Teach our children to work. Show them the value of working towards a worthy goal. Establish mission funds and education funds for your children. This will teach them what you consider to be important.
8. Encourage good music, art, and literature in our homes. . Homes that have a spirit of refinement and beauty will bless the lives of our children forever.
9. Attend the temple regularly with your wife. This will set a powerful example for our children. Our children will then better understand the importance of temple marriage and temple vows and the eternal family unit.
10. Have our children see our joy and satisfaction in service to the Church. This will help them want to also serve in the church.
father 2

Meet the Mormons

Last month we received a powerful message from Elder David A. Bednar imploring us to “sweep the earth” with authentic and uplifting messages through social media.
“I exhort you to sweep the earth with messages filled with righteousness and truth—messages that are authentic, edifying, and praiseworthy—and literally to sweep the earth as with a flood.”
—Elder David A. Bednar
He also announced the October 10th release of the documentary feature produced by the church“Meet the Mormons.” As he said, “This movie is one additional way members can share their beliefs with family and friends in a simple and effective way.”
October is quickly approaching and I wanted to share some information from the church about the movie so that you can use your own social media channels to get the word out to your friends and family members.
The new full-length feature film Meet the Mormons examines the diverse lives of six devout members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Filmed on location across the globe, Meet the Mormons takes viewers on a journey into the day-to-day realities of individuals living in the U.S., Costa Rica, Nepal and beyond. From their individual passions to their daily struggles, each story paints a picture as rich and unique as the next while challenging the stereotypes that surround the Mormon faith.
Meet the Mormons will hit theaters in the U.S. October 10, 2014. It is currently only coming to one theater in our area, but you can go HERE to request for the film to be shown even closer!
Meet the Mormons is a project created by the First Presidency. The primary purpose of this film is to show the diverse collection of people from around the world who make up the Church. We hope their stories will help people understand how the gospel of Jesus Christ brings joy and peace. We also hope viewers will gain a greater understanding of the richness and diversity of our faith.
The film will appear in more than 100 theaters across the United States beginning on October 10th, 2014 and all proceeds from the film will go to The American Red Cross.
When posting information about the movie on our own social media, it is a great opportunity for us to express how The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has transformed our lives by bringing us closer to Christ. We can let friends know that not all Mormons are just like you or me, or common Mormon stereotypes. Members of the Church come from many different backgrounds, cultures and experiences.
The official trailer…

I will be posting the trailer again along with a simple message about the film that will be easy to share with others later today on Facebook and encourage everyone to help get the word out about the movie.
Visit http://meetthemormons.com/ for even more information and ideas!

An Amazing Accomplishment

Jensen, Seth-013DF
Seth Jensen, a senior in the Katy 3rd ward, just accomplished a feat extremely rare in the scouting program by earning EVERY possible merit badge available!
In the 104-year history of the Boy Scouts of America, about 100 million boys have been involved in the Scouting program and 2.7 million of them became Eagle scouts.
In contrast, there have been only about 250 Boy Scouts that have earned all the merit badges available to them. Seth is now one of those 250.
(see http://www.meritbadgeknot.com/registry.htm for an unofficial list of all those that have earned them all.)
The number of merit badges fluctuates from year to year as some badges are added and others are removed, so the total number of merit badges may be different for each scout. With the 137 merit badges Seth earned, he has been surpassed by only three or four other scouts ever which is truly remarkable.
Seth began the scouting program when he was eleven years old. At that time his dad got him a requirement board and talked about the steps he would need to take in order to be an Eagle Scout. He asked his dad how many merit badges he could get and when his dad told him as many as he wanted, Seth decided that he wanted to earn them all!
Over the next seven years he worked extremely hard to earn his badges. His favorite badge to earn was his scuba badge. Seth was able to go scuba diving with his mom and older brother and said it was incredibly beautiful. One of the badges he is most proud of earning is his bugling badge because he had no idea how to play the instrument at all when he first began working on it. Seth’s father played a big role in his success in accomplishing his goal. With his help Seth was able to attend some merit badge fairs for the badges that were going to be harder to earn.
Not only has working so hard to earn these merit badges fulfilled his long-time goal and helped him become a better person, but it has helped Seth figure out what he wants to do later in life. Through earning the badges he has realized that he loves both medicine and computers and hopes to incorporate those into what he does professionally in his life.
What an outstanding example Seth is to his peers and fellow scouts. We congratulate him on his hard work and dedication in fulfilling this achievement.

What to Remember When Looking for a Spouse

Thank you to President Russell Shurtz of our Stake Presidency for this great piece! Although it is aimed to the young single adults of the stake, I think there is something for everyone.

What to Remember When Looking for a Spouse

SFam-19-2939985722-O - Copy

As a young single adult in the Church, there are both tremendous opportunities and challenges. Your ability to learn, to serve, to minister, and to get involved in the community is extraordinary. Compared to those who are married, you likely have more time to travel, develop your talents, study the Gospel, and explore the beautiful world in which we live. For those who are actively seeking a spouse, however, it can still be a discouraging time. You may feel a deep sense of frustration at not having found the right person yet, particularly as you see others around you starting their families and “moving forward” with their lives.

I remember very vividly this time period in my life when I was anxiously seeking to find the right person—but seemingly not having much success. Sometimes I didn’t seem to be meeting any new people at all. I felt stuck in a routine of seeing the same people over and over. Other times I was meeting new people, but none of them felt like the person I had been searching for—the right “fit” for me. And so for a period of years I hoped and prayed, sought to exercise my faith in God’s plan for me, went to the temple regularly, and reached out to meet as many new people as I could.

During this season of life, I remember receiving wise counsel from my bishop and other trusted friends and family members. With the benefit of hindsight, I can see that their counsel was indeed spot on—and helped me get through this particular season of my life. I share below some of their counsel with the hope that it may also prove valuable to you.

First, they invited me to focus on becoming the person that God wanted me to become. Sometimes that involves waiting and trusting. Personal growth and development often take time. As Elder Neal A. Maxwell observed, “The issue for us is trusting God enough to trust also His timing. If we can truly believe He has our welfare at heart, may we not let His plans unfold as He thinks best?” [Even As I Am (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1982), 93]

Rather than despairing and pulling our hair out, we can focus on building a meaningful and rewarding life without a partner, recognizing that if we can’t learn to be happy on our own, chances are that we’ll struggle to find happiness even when that special someone comes into our life. In short, we need to learn to be happy now, even when things are not ideal.

Life doesn’t necessarily get easier once we are married. In fact, it often becomes much more complex, particularly when children enter the equation. So learning to be happy now, even when we are single, is vital to our future happiness in married life.

While we are still single, we can focus on using this time to further our education, strengthen our future career and work opportunities, and more fully develop our testimony. Looking back, much of the Gospel knowledge and strength that I draw upon today came from that season of being single, when I had more time to study and ponder the scriptures—and to think deeply about what mattered most in my life. It truly was foundational for the rest of my life.

Second, they encouraged me to focus on becoming the type of person that I ultimately wanted to attract and be with. We generally will tend to attract people who are like us. If we are not focused on strengthening our testimony, if we don’t attend the temple, if we don’t share the gospel, and if we are generally unhappy, then it is unlikely that we will attract someone who loves all these things, who actively does them in their life, and who is happy.

Sometimes God moves in unexpected ways in our lives. I never cease to be amazed as I hear stories of people I meet (both in and out of the Church) who met their spouse in a highly unexpected way—or who married someone with a completely different background—and yet are now so grateful to have their spouse.

I am incredibly thankful for the inspired counsel that was shared with me when I was single and struggling. Those lessons have remained close to my heart even today. Lessons about learning to trust God, to use each season of life productively, to become the kind of person that God wants us to become and that will attract the type of person that we hope to attract.

God’s ways are indeed higher than our ways—and His timetable often differs from our own desired timetable. Blessings sometimes come sooner and sometimes come later. But come they will. I thank Him each day for the wonderful lessons He’s taught me—and for the blessing that eventually came into my life when He orchestrated events to eventually help me cross paths with Sister Shurtz on a blind date. That led to the greatest blessing in my life: an eternal marriage with a Christlike person and a family that is sealed to us forever in the temple. God undoubtedly has our best interests at heart. May we build our faith in Him and trust Him to lead our lives in the ways He knows will bring us the greatest joy and personal growth.

Youth Trip to Nauvoo, Illinois

nauvoo 8
nauvoo 1
At the end of July, nearly 300 youth from our stake headed to Nauvoo, IL on a 2,075 mile round trip adventure that strengthened testimonies and created new friendships. Accompanied by 100 adult leaders they were able to visit many church history sites not only in Nauvoo, but also Carthage, Adam-Ondi-Ahman, Far West, and Liberty Jail. They viewed the Nauvoo pageant, walked the Trail of Hope, attended the Nauvoo temple and were able to see the debut of the British pageant here in the US.
nauvoo 9
nauvoo 5

The youth were organized into “companies” of 10-13 youth and had couples from the stake who served as “Company Commanders”.  Three companies rode on each of the 8 charter buses and the groups would stop to visit sites together.
The other adult leaders included stake leaders, bishops and their wives, food personnel, medical staff and photographers.
Our group was the largest youth group ever to visit Nauvoo, and they were amazing! Everywhere they went they were complimented on how respectful and well behaved they were.

nauvoo 6
nauvoo 10

The testimony meeting in our ward following their return was filled with youth who had gone on the trip sharing the ways in which their testimonies had grown as a result of the experiences they had.
It was an amazing opportunity and although it would be wonderful to hear from all the youth who were able to go, I was able to get in contact with a few of them to share their favorite moments of the trip.

nauvoo - matt
Matt Bleazard, of the Katy Mills Ward: “I would have to say my best experience involving my testimony is when we saw the British pageant. I felt the spirit so strongly throughout it. But there was one particular instance that the spirit was so strong, I started tearing up and a thought popped in my head which was, ‘this church is the true church’ I already knew this but it was a strong confirmation from the spirit that is was and has strengthen my testimony because of it.”
Emily Hyde, of the Katy 4th Ward: “When we visited the Seventies House, part of the dedicatory prayer was read to us. In the prayer, it was promised that the missionaries who left from that house would cause Satan’s kingdom to shake and tremble. Throughout the whole trip, as we heard incredible stories about missionaries sacrificing all of their earthly possessions save the clothes on their backs, leaving behind their families, travelling to teach people in distant lands, not knowing if these people would listen to their message or slam their doors in their faces, I was touched by the power I felt. I was reminded of my many friends who are now serving missions and who are leaving soon. I was reminded of my own to desire to serve a mission when I come of age.
I am daunted by uncertainty. How can I know that any doors will be open to me, or that any hearts will be open to my message? I can’t. But that uncertainty, that doubt, is overwhelmed by faith in our Savior, faith in his gospel, and faith that I- that we- can do all things through Christ, and that he will protect us as he always has protected his messengers of the good news.
Just as the missionaries from Nauvoo, my testimony is firm. It became all the more steadfast and immoveable, though, as I heard their stories, saw the fruit of their diligent labor, and felt the Spirit bear witness to me that our mission today- to invite all to come unto Christ- has not changed.”
nauvoo - rachel

Rachel Hansen, of the Katy 2nd Ward: “One of my favorite parts of Nauvoo was walking down the Trail of Hope. This is the trail where the saints left Nauvoo to go west. Along the trail we heard journal entries of those who walked that very trail years earlier. My leader challenged our group to keep looking back down the trail to the homes and at the temple. You got a glimpse of how it would have felt to leave homes, farms, comfort,and the newly constructed temple. The faith of the saints was amazing. They gave up everything for the Gospel of Jesus Christ and were happy! It was an amazing experience!”
Joseph Udy, of the Katy 4th Ward: “Something that was testimony building to me was the Nauvoo Pageant . It gave a representation of how Nauvoo was built up and how the Saints put everything into the temple and their beliefs and during the pageant I could feel the spirit so strong and confirmed to me that Everything I learned In Nauvoo was true and also strengthened my Testimony of the Prophet Joseph Smith and how he was a true prophet of God and how he led the saints truthfully till the day he died! “

nauvoo 3
nauvoo 11nauvoo 4
Some other highlights from the trip included visiting Old Nauvoo and learning about the lives and sacrifices of the early Saints and about events in Church History. The Trail of Hope was a great spiritual experience for all as well. They followed the trail of the Saints to the Mississippi River as they left their beloved Nauvoo. The youth could look back up the hill to see the beautiful Nauvoo temple, getting a sense of the sadness the saints must have felt leaving, but also their hope for a new life, free from persecution. The groups attended the County Fair and Pioneer Pastimes and were each given a piece of stone from the original Nauvoo Temple at Zion’s Mercantile. There was a fireside with George Durant and Susan Easton Black and devotionals by President Allen and President Shurtz. I cannot imagine the amount of organizing it took to fit this all in for so many people!
Something remarkable about the youth attending the Nauvoo Temple was that almost 80% of them had researched and brought 5 family names with them so they could perform baptisms for their own ancestors!
nauvoo 7

nauvoo 2
This amazing trip was 9 months in the making!  Shauna Tracy, one of the adults who helped make the trip happen said, “We saw the Lord’s hand in helping organize this ‘spiritual odyssey’ (as President Shurtz called it). The trip ran smoothly and tender mercies were showered upon the Katy Stake from the early planning stages through the safe arrival home.  Even the weather was beautiful–unusually cool for the end of July!  The youth reported having a good time meeting other youth in the stake and learning more about church history.  There were many reports of spiritual experiences that increased testimonies and changed lives.”

There is also an article on the Houston Chronicle blog HERE, about the trip if you would like to check it out.
Feel free to share any thoughts or experiences in the comments!
(photo credits go to Tammy Schellenberg and Bill Tait)

Stake Conference Schedule, August 2014

Here is everything you need to know about this weekend’s conference…

Dear Brothers and Sisters:

A quick reminder from the Stake Presidency of the Katy Texas Stake that our stake conference, with a visiting authority Elder J. Romeo Villarreal, is this weekend.

Here are the details again:

Stake Conference begins on Saturday, Aug 9th with our priesthood leadership meeting from 3 to 5 PM at the Katy Stake Center. Those that should attend: Stake PEC members, Bishoprics/Branch Presidencies, Clerks and Assistant Clerks, Executive Secretaries and Assistants, HPGLs and Assistants, EQP and counselors, Ward Mission Leaders, YM Presidencies, and SS Presidencies.

The Saturday evening session will then be from 6 to 8 PM at the stake center. We have been asked again to have all adults and all youth ages 12 to 18 attend this session. We recognize that many families in our stake who have young children typically use the youth from our stake as their babysitters–and that those youth will not be available on Saturday since they’ll be attending stake conference. We are thus making some special arrangements so that babysitting concerns do not prevent anyone from attending. Here are the details:

We strongly encourage families with young children to identify a babysitter on their own so that they can attend the Saturday session and be able to focus fully on the important messages that will be shared.
For any who are unable to find a babysitter, we will have the Relief Society and Primary rooms at the Stake Center set up so that those with young children can still see and hear the Saturday evening session.
We will also broadcast the Sat evening session to the Longenbaugh and Drexel buildings. The session will be shown in the Chapel and the Relief Society and Primary Rooms, so that parents can be with their young children and still hear the messages. Again, wherever possible, we strongly encourage our members to join us in person at the Katy Stake Center for the Saturday evening session.

The visiting authority has asked for a special meeting for new or recently reactivated members. The meeting will be at the Katy Stake Center on Sunday from 8:30-9:30am and it is for new members or recently reactivated members over the past two years.

The Sunday morning general session of stake conference will take place on Aug 10th from 10am to Noon and will be broadcast from the stake center. We invite you to view stake conference as outlined below:
Longenbaugh Building: Copperfield
Bear Creek Building: Bear Creek and Westlake
Drexel Building: Katy 1 and Katy Mills
Sealy Building: Sealy 1 and Sealy 2
Katy Stake Center: Katy 2, Katy 3, Katy 4, and Nottingham Country [CHANGE we would like to ask for members that live in Cross Creek to attend at the stake center – this is a change from what had been announced previously).

We look forward to being with you at stake conference this weekend.

With Love, the Katy Texas Stake Presidency

Hurricane Preparedness

Although we are well into Texas’ hurricane season, it isn’t over yet and it is always a great time to evaluate how prepared we are for an emergency. Houston averages a tropical storm or hurricane every three years. It has now been six years without one, so we definitely need to be ready.
Our two main worries during these storms are wind and flooding. Tropical storms can potentially be more devastating to us in Katy due to the potential for flooding we face. Buffalo Bayou will actually reverse directions in a hurricane and travel towards us instead of out into the ocean.

There are many simple steps we can take now to be sure we are prepared.
72 hour
*Determine safe evacuation routes inland.
*Make emergency plans for pets.
*Check emergency equipment, such as flashlights, generators and battery-powered NOAA Weather Radio All Hazards and cell phones.
If you have useful hurricane equipment (generators, chain saws, etc) learn to use them properly now. Under the stress of a storm we may use less common sense.
*Buy food that will keep and store drinking water. Information on preparing 72-hour kits can be found HERE.
*Clear loose and clogged rain gutters and downspouts.
*Trim trees and shrubbery.
*Review your insurance policy…
Please know what your home owner’s policy covers with regards to water damage. The policies are very specific as to the cause of the water damage they cover. You can go onto the FEMA Map Service online to check your neighborhood for potential flood risk.
It is important for you and your family to determine if you need to upgrade your home owner’s insurance or choose to carry flood insurance. Insurance companies, as a rule, will not make changes on policies when there is a storm present in the Gulf. If you decide you would like flood insurance, there may be a 30 day waiting period from sign-up until coverage begins so it is important to think about these things now.
As a storm approaches it is very important to closely monitor radio, TV or NOAA Weather Radio All Hazards for official bulletins. If told to evacuate, do so immediately.

Other tips to secure your home:
*Store lawn furniture and other loose, light-weight objects, such as garbage cans and garden tools.
*Turn refrigerator to maximum cold and keep closed.
*Turn off propane tanks.
*Unplug small appliances.
*Fill bathtub and large containers with water in case tap
water is unavailable. Use water in bathtubs for cleaning
and flushing only. Do NOT drink it.
It’s also a good idea to have cash on hand in case power goes out and ATMs don’t work.
Here are some other resources to check out:
NOAA NWS National Hurricane Center on Facebook
American Red Cross
National Hurrican Center