Saturday, December 21, 2013

Belief Box

I've searched via google for an image of the map in Virginia Pearce's book, but to no avail. So I took a photo of it, here you go: We have "The Map"
 First step on the map to our thoughts is Sensory Input which comes from external data or experience.
 Next comes the Belief Box - the thoughts we have about that input
Our thoughts about the input lead to our emotions and feelings about the input, which can be good or bad depending on our thoughts about it.
Followed by our actions and behavior, which is how we react to the input
...which actions were decided upon by our thoughts and beliefs in our BELIEF BOX. The Belief Box is really where it all happens and is the one place where we can really take control of the situation. Our thoughts in the Belief Box fall into three Categories:

  1. Beliefs that are always true - Eternal Truth, or Truth with a capital T.
  2. Beliefs that can be true, like good tips and/or advice
  3. Beliefs that are lies



I'll update more soon with a few examples of these situations in everyday life. 

Friday, December 20, 2013

The Truth of All Things

I loved loved loved this talk by Ryan Holmes which was rebroadcast this past Wednesday - "The Truth of All Things" - it was amazing. (text here)-

It seemed to be a perfect collection of all the ideas and thoughts that have been floating around in my head, teachings I've loved from other books and talks - two things that I can remember off the top of my head were: Being Present! (from Amy Jensen's talk and from Bob Greene's book, he referred to giving our food our full attention, to the Change Your Life Challenge of giving your kids 5 minutes of uninterrupted time) accepting Truth! - that's from Virgina Pearce's book and from John Pontius "Following the Light of Christ" where he talks about the voices in our heads. So good, please listen to it!

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Live Your Life With Purpose

Wow, once again, the 11:00 BYU devotional yesterday was exactly what I needed to hear. (I love the BYU Devotionals!) There seems to be a recurring theme of topics in these devotionals that are meant for me, which can be summed up as "be proactive, don't let life just happen to you! Make a plan!" ~ the challenge is figuring out how to do it. Still figuring it out, and I love working on it. So, here's more food for thought by Janie Penfield in her talk "Life Your Life With Purpose", given 5 Feb 2013 - (text here)

Friday, November 22, 2013

Keeping A Record

A wonderful devotional by Amy Petersen Jensen was rebroadcast this week, titled "A Some Hopeful Words on Media and Agency". This quote from her speech sums up why I used to love to scrapbook and why I now blog:


When I was about to be married, my BYU stake president gave me some very good advice: He told me to take pictures and document my life and my marriage and my family. He explained that this would benefit my children, because they would see that my husband and I existed before they were born, that we loved each other, and that important things happened that they didn’t necessarily remember. He said that a record of our life through pictures would give our children a sense of eternity, because they would have evidence of good, happy, and worthy things beyond their own experiences.

How are you keeping records of the good, happy, and worthy things in your life?

Watch her talk below, wonderful words...


I also loved her thoughts about how we divide our souls by dividing our attention (see 9:13). Perhaps that is one of the reasons that Christ's name is I AM - he is always fully present in the current moment. If we strive to be fully present like Him, that will help us follow his example and become more like Him.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Homemaking with an Eye Single to God

We enjoyed a wonderful day at church again (as always!) The lesson in Relief Society particularly fed my soul and gave me determination to do better. The lesson was from Chapter 22 of the Lorenzo Snow manual, titled "Doing Good to Others". One of the topics of discussion that went along with my thoughts was that we just have to do it. ("Do it" was President Spencer W. Kimball's motto long before Nike came up with their "Just do it" slogan.) Yes, it's hard managing this family and running full speed all day with all the things there are to do and I feel like I'm falling short most days, but service is never easy or convenient, but it is important and it's worth it. I just need to keep doing it, and I need to do it for the Lord.
Which reminded me of an article I read by Jeffery A. Thompson called "What's your Calling in Life?" (read/print it  here, watch it here) ~ Under "Heresy #5 (24:00 at the video) is the part that I think I loved the most from this talk, which was the insight shared by his mission President's wife. Brother Thompson states:

  When I was a missionary, and as I was nearing my release date, I anticipated a sense of loss when I could no longer give all my time to serving God. At a zone conference, I raised my hand and asked the mission president, “After our missions are over and we are no longer full-time servants of God, how can we keep a sense of purpose?” Before the mission president could answer, his wife leapt to her feet and said, “I’ll take this one.” I will never forget her response. “When I do the laundry,” she said, “I am building the kingdom of God. When I scrub the floors, I am serving the Lord. When I tidy the clutter, I’m an instrument in His hands. I do a lot of mundane jobs, but if my eye is single to God and I’m trying to serve my family, then I feel as much purpose in my work as a missionary can.” 
  Those words remind me of what King Benjamin said about laboring in the fields to support himself—a decidedly unkingly occupation. He said, “I do not desire to boast, for I have only been in the service of God” (Mosiah 2:16). So perhaps the state of our hearts is as important as the tasks we do in determining whether our work is truly—and eternally—meaningful. 

I was reminded of another quote along these lines that comes from the book "One Thousand Gifts" by Ann Voskamp, page 194-195:

  When the laundry is for the dozen arms of children or the dozen legs, it's true, I think I'm due some appreciation. So comes a storm of trouble and lightning strikes joy. But when Christ is at the center, when dishes, laundry, work, is my song of thanks to Him, joy rains. Passionately serving Christ alone makes us the loving servant to all. When the eyes of the heart focus on God, and the hands on always washing the feet of Jesus alonethe bones, they sing joy, and the work returns to it's purest state: eucharisteo. The work becomes worship, a liturgy of thankfulness.
  "The work we do is only our love for Jesus in action," writes Mother Teresa. "If we pray the work... if we do it to Jesus, if we do it for Jesus, if we do it with Jesus... that's what makes us content. 
  That is what makes us contentthe contented, deep joy is always in the touching of Christin whatever skin he comes to us in.

and page 155:

All gratitude is ultimately gratitude for Christ, all remembering a remembrance of Him. For in Him all things were created, are sustained, have their being. 

And one last thought/article along these lines, from the Feb 2013 Ensign - Under "Discipleship in All Places":

  Stacey White, a mother of four in Indiana, USA, was longing for an opportunity to help a neighbor, friend, or even a stranger during the week she studied Matthew 25:35–40, where the Savior teaches that serving “the least of these” is, in fact, serving Him (verse 40). 
  “Because I am a busy stay-at-home mom of four young children, I sometimes feel frustrated that I’m not able to be of service as often as I would like,” Sister White explained. “I am so busy taking care of my own family’s needs that I have little time for anything extra.” 
  Sister White noted that as she continued to study, cross-reference, and ponder these scriptures, praying for opportunities to serve, “the week seemed to take on a higher level of stress than what normally comes with motherhood”—certainly not what she had hoped for. 
  "There were school projects to help with, more than the usual messes to clean up, sibling fights to referee, and a mountain of laundry that seemed to regenerate itself. The to-do list seemed to never come close to being completed. My prayer seemed to go unanswered as I longed for the free time and energy to serve someone other than my husband and children.” 
  But then, partway through the week, Sister White came to a realization: just because she didn’t have the opportunity to serve outside her home did not mean that the Lord had let her prayer go unanswered, and it didn’t mean that she hadn’t been serving in meaningful ways. 
  “The Lord was answering my prayer by giving me those opportunities within my own family,” she says. “At times I feel that the service within my own family somehow doesn’t count, that in order to be classified as service, it must be outside the home, rendered to someone other than a family member. But with my new understanding, while I was making beds, doing laundry, chauffeuring kids, and doing all my daily duties as a mother, I did them more joyfully. My tasks didn’t seem quite so mundane, and I realized I was making a difference for my family.”

I loved how the Lord answered her prayer by keeping her busy serving her own family, and that article was an answer to my prayer as I read it. I think it's something I always need to be reminded of, that all the mundane tasks I do as a mother are important and meaningful, not just to my husband and children but to the Lord. And as I work in remembrance of Him, I won't feel put out by little toddlers turning up their noses at the dinner I slaved over or for no one saying thank your for their clean underwear - I won't be frustrated waiting for words of appreciation, cause I didn't do it for appreciation, I did it for the Lord.  I am serving Christ and it is important to Him, and he tells me thank you and shows me that he loves me in thousands of ways everyday.


“No task will be so sordid and base . . . 
that it will not shine and be reckoned 
very precious in God’s sight” 
- John Calvin

Friday, November 15, 2013

When Life Gets Cold...

What a powerful message was shared today, I hadn't heard this one before. "What Happens When Life Gets One Degree Colder" by Dallan Moody. When my life seems to hard, I'll listen to this talk again and remember the take aways from this talk that hit home:
- a perfect plan was already presented, and rejected.
- We need opposition to develop faith.
- Hope and courage have always characterized the righteous
- "You are being exalted"

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Habits

I've been listening to Elder Scotts April Conference talk over and over again, titled "For Peace at Home"~ I want my home and my life to be full of peace, and I got a long way to go. One quote from his talk: “Remember: little things lead to big things. Seemingly insignificant indiscretions or neglect can lead to big problems. More importantly, simple, consistent, good habits lead to a life full of bountiful blessings.”

Habits - simple, consistent, good habits, lead to a life full of blessings. Habits can bless our lives. Habits can fill our life with the spirit.
Aristotle: “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.”

I will strive to make a plan of my routine, what I would like to accomplish and be, repeat it each day and make a habit of it. What I personally do, my personal habits, will determine where I end up. Dear Lord, help me establish good habits. Give me strength, cause I really feel like I'm in over my head (housekeeping wise and "my life is a whirlwind of activity" -wise. I don't feel like I'm on top of things very well and want to just fly away to Costa Rica to escape it all... help!)

Sunday, October 27, 2013

"I Walked to Zion"

I read this book last week "I Walked to Zion" by Susan Arrington Madsen. It is a collection of short true stories of pioneers' first hand experiences crossing the plains to migrate to Utah in the 1840s, '50s, and '60s.
I think my favorite line from this book was on page 138: Alma Elizabeth Mineer was crossing the sea with her parents when she was 6 years old in 1861. They left Liverpool England on the ship The Monarch of the Sea which was a very old ship and she said was entirely unseaworthhy. The sea was rough and stormy on their trip and the waves washed over the top of the deck. When the people were frightened, the captain would tell them "We'll land in New York all right. We've got Mormons on board, and we always get through when we have Mormons." I thought that was really funny. Go Mormons! :) The ship was loaded with cargo, and sank on it's return voyage, but the captain and crew were saved.


Thursday, October 24, 2013

From Muslim to Mormon

I thought this story was amazing - reposted below from LDSLiving.

My father named me Muhammad after the prophet of Islam. He expected me to emerge as a leader among clerics, capable of leading a jihad, or holy struggle, to convert nonbelievers to Islam throughout our entire Nigerian homeland. And though I spent more than two decades striving to fulfill his dream for me, my life took an unexpected turn when I found the gospel of Jesus Christ and joined the LDS Church—a decision that would cost me my family and my freedom.
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The guards unlocked a sliding cell door that led to a common area packed with fanatic Islamic terrorists of one sort or another. They were all looking at me.
“This is the Al-Azhar student who converted to Christianity,” one of the guards announced, shoving me through the door. “This is the infidel.”
The guards barely had time to exit and lock things down before a throng of inmates converged on me. The hatred in their eyes terrified me. I dropped to my knees and wrapped my arms
around my newly shaved head as they pummeled me with fists and feet.
I am the last person you might expect to become a Christian. I began memorizing the Qur’an at age five. When I was a teenager, my father sent me to a radical Islamic school in Syria. Later I studied with members of the Muslim Brotherhood in Cairo, Egypt, while pursuing a degree in Islamic studies at Al-Azhar University.
But over the years, I began to have doubts about my religion. Islam, at least the way it was taught to me, felt more like devotion to rules than devotion to God. While studying at Al-Azhar, I started to question the legitimacy of Muhammad’s being a prophet. And if he wasn’t a prophet, then the whole idea of Islam was a fraud.
If my true feelings ever got out, I’d be seen as blasphemous. My personal safety would be at risk. So rather than talk to anybody, I put my private thoughts down on paper. But my days at the university ended abruptly when my personal notes accidentally ended up in the hands of my professor. I was expelled, and my father disowned me.
What Religion Is This?
After being expelled, I continued living and working in Cairo as a DJ. With my faith in Islam shaken, I became much more Westernized and wild—I started drinking, smoking, and womanizing. One evening in 1988 I went to visit an acquaintance named Gaston, a frequent patron at the nightclub where I worked.
As soon as I arrived at his place, I removed a pack of cigarettes from my pocket and offered him one.
“I don’t smoke anymore,” Gaston said.
“Why not?” I asked. When Gaston didn’t reply, I persisted. “Is it for religious reasons or for health reasons?”
“Religion,” Gaston said.
I laughed. At the club, Gaston had been practically a chain smoker. A few minutes later, he asked me if I wanted something to drink—but then I discovered he didn’t have any alcohol, either. He explained that not all Christians abstain from liquor and cigarettes. But The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints teaches that these things should be avoided because they are addictive.
I had been raised to believe that all Christian churches were evil. Yet in my eyes, Gaston was anything but evil. I was curious to learn more about his new church.
That Friday morning I accompanied Gaston to church. At 9:30 sharp, the congregation assembled and started singing a Christian hymn. The tune was unfamiliar. So were the words. Yet as I listened to the references to Christ and love, I felt as if wind were rushing through me.
One after another, men and women of various races and nationalities expressed their faith in the divinity of Jesus Christ, along with their belief in the Bible and the Book of Mormon as
holy scripture. I couldn’t escape the feeling I had inside.
There’s something here, I kept telling myself.
At my request, I was given a Bible and a Book of Mormon. I ended up spending the entire weekend working my way through the Old Testament. I didn’t leave my apartment once. By the start of the new week, I had finished the one thousand-plus–page book and turned my attention to the New Testament.
The parable of the prodigal son hit me hard, and my eyes welled up. I had become that prodigal son. I was a drunk and a womanizer. I had strayed from everything my father had taught me and embraced many of the vices he abhorred.
Guilty and miserable, I buried my face in my hands and sobbed.
“Please, God, let this be true,” I whispered. “Let this be true.”
For the next few weeks, I attended services at the Mormon congregation. I spent every spare minute reading. When I finished the New Testament, I turned to the Book of Mormon. The part that intrigued me the most was the account of Jesus Christ spreading his gospel to a region of the world far removed from the Middle East. The latter part of the Book of Mormon describes Christ descending out of heaven and saying:
“Behold, I am Jesus Christ, whom the prophets testified shall come into the world.
"And behold, I am the light and the life of the world; and I have drunk out of that bitter cup which the Father hath given me, and have glorified the Father in taking upon me the sins of the world, in the which I have suffered the will of the Father in all things from the beginning.”
The people had fallen to the ground in amazement. Christ admonished them to stand up:
“Arise and come forth unto me, that ye may thrust your hands into my side, and also that ye may feel the prints of the nails in my hands and in my feet, that ye may know that I am the God of Israel, and the God of the whole earth, and have been slain for the sins of the world.”
Those words—“the God of the whole earth”—really impacted me. Tears filled my eyes as I visualized people touching the nail marks in Christ’s palms. I wanted to touch those nail marks myself. For the first time in my life, I wanted to be in Christ’s presence. I never thought I’d say something like that. But the words of the Bible and the Book of Mormon had stirred my soul.
But leaving Islam and becoming a Mormon would make me a marked man. I had no choice, though, I told myself. I had compiled quite a collection of sins. More than anything, I wanted a
clean conscience. I told the Mormon leaders in Cairo that I wanted to be baptized.
To my surprise, they told me no. The Church simply did not have the legal authority to baptize Muslims in Egypt, and Mormon policy prohibited it. I could attend church and act like a Mormon. I just couldn’t be one.
A New Name
Baptism or no baptism, I figured no one could stop me from accepting Christ as my Savior and living my life as a Christian. So I decided to make some big changes. I stopped smoking and drinking. I quit my job as a DJ and found a full-time job as a translator. Next, I decided I didn’t want to be called Muhammad anymore. I wanted a Christian name instead. I chose Tito, the Italian version of Titus, which was the name of a missionary companion to the Apostle Paul. The more I learned about Titus, the more I felt a connection to him. Christians initially rejected Titus for not being circumcised.
Titus was an outsider. I was too. The people made me feel welcome, but I couldn’t be baptized. And without baptism, I didn’t feel completely accepted.
For months I kept asking to be baptized, but I was told the same thing every time: Wait.
Eventually, I was told that a way had been found for me to be baptized, and arrangements were made for me to travel to a location where the baptism could be performed. After
so much longing, I finally had my wish!
Soon after my baptism, the police started harassing me. My fiancĂ©e, Aaban, had also reported my Book of Mormon and Bible, and that had ended our relationship. I lived underground for the next year. I didn’t go anywhere or do anything other than part-time work as an English tutor and an interpreter while still attending church once a week. I felt I was under surveillance, and I was afraid to do anything that would get me in trouble.
I started researching immigration law in Egypt. I knew my name was likely on a watch-list, and I was looking for a way out of the country without detection. It occurred to me that a legal name change might just do the trick.
On April 7, 1991, the paperwork to officially change my legal name from Muhammad to Tito was completed at the Ministry of the Interior. But I still had to visit Al-Azhar, because I had come into the country under a student visa that was associated with the university. I started sensing a problem when the clerk who took my paperwork disappeared. Nearly two hours later, I was still waiting. Finally, a couple of state security officers showed up, and the next thing I
knew, I was being hauled off campus.
Falsely Accused
I was taken to an interrogation room where an officer was seated at a beat-up wooden table. He stepped out from behind his desk.
“You don’t like Muhammad’s name? You don’t want the holy prophet’s name?” He backhanded me across the face. “You took a dog’s name.”
He pushed me in the chest, causing me to lose my balance and fall to my knees. “How could you do something so blasphemous?” he said, looking down on me.
With the officer still shouting at me, two guards in combat boots began kicking me. One blow to my abdomen knocked the wind out of me. I gasped for air. It was pretty clear why I was in so much trouble—my religion.
I was sent to a place referred to as the Investigations Prison, where accused criminals were held until they got a hearing. The jail had a ripe smell of urine. Cockroaches moved along the ceiling. I was put in a giant holding cell with more than 60 other accused criminals who were waiting for their cases to be heard.
After nearly nine months in detention, I was finally taken before a panel of judges. I was charged with drug possession and falsifying my identity. I didn’t know what to say. I had never used illegal drugs in my life. Yet there I was being accused of using cocaine and heroin.
I was in the middle of a silent prayer when I heard my case called. The judge pronounced a guilty verdict and ordered me to serve a life sentence.
His words just hung in the air.
Life?
At first it didn’t sink in. I wanted to bury my face in my hands. But I couldn’t even do that. My hands were cuffed behind my back. Instead, I just let the tears flow down my cheeks. I didn’t care who saw me. I told myself: The Lord knows best. But at that moment, I wasn’t sure I believed that anymore. I was trying to cling to my faith, but I felt like a man hanging by his fingertips from the edge of a high rock cliff. I lacked the strength to pull myself up. And there was no one around to lend me a hand.
I went to prison.
Prison Life
After 10 years in prison, I began having severe health problems. I started losing weight. I felt weak and tired all the time. I started feeling sharp pains in my chest. I feared I was going to have a heart attack. On a couple of occasions I thought I might have suffered minor ones.
I hit rock bottom. I couldn’t help thinking that I wouldn’t be in this mess if I hadn’t become a Christian. I had accepted Christ as my Savior. Since then I had lost my fianc.e. My father had disowned me. My mother had killed herself after being blamed for my choice to leave Islam. I was in prison on trumped-up charges. And after all that, my health was failing. Meantime, where was God?
I was dwelling on this one night when a guard opened my cell and pushed in a prisoner. The guy had white skin, blond hair, and blue eyes. He was twenty-something. “He’s staying the night,” the guard said.
I’d seen this sort of thing before. Every once in a while a foreigner would be arrested and thrown in with the general prison population overnight. Then in the morning he’d be taken to court, and you’d never see him again. This guy was one of those cases.
His name was Simon. He was from London and was arrested as a tourist on immigration violations. I told him I was a Christian, and it turned out he knew a lot about the persecution of Christians throughout the Middle East. He said he belonged to a nonprofit organization dedicated to helping Christians who are persecuted for their beliefs. The organization was called Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW), and it was based in England. I had never heard
of the group. But one of CSW’s main areas of emphasis was conducting public awareness campaigns to free Christians who had been jailed or imprisoned for their beliefs.
Before this Englishman was released, he told me this group could make my situation known to Christians around the world. I was pretty skeptical. This was 1997, well before Facebook,
Twitter, and YouTube. Very few people around the world even had email at that time.
Miracles
Just as I expected, nothing happened at first. Then one day a guard informed me that I had mail. I sat up and rubbed my eyes. He handed me the envelope. It was postmarked from Greece. For a moment I just stared in disbelief. I didn’t know anyone in Greece.
Slowly, I tore open the envelope and removed the letter.
            Dear Tito,
            Hello in Christ . . .
            I always remember you and pray for you. Who knows? Maybe our Lord
            permitted your imprisonment so that you’ll be able to know Him better; to love
            Him more. His wills are unexplored. But we are sure about one thing: That He
            is thinking of us.
A Christian minister signed it. My eyes welled up. Some stranger in a faraway land had taken the time to write me. Her letter gave me something to do. I wrote her back.
Within weeks, more letters came. I spent my days writing back to them. The more I wrote, the more letters I received. A few letters turned into hundreds. I was so encouraged that I decided to write a letter directly to Gordon B. Hinckley, the head of the LDS Church in Salt Lake City, Utah, just before Christmas in 1998.
I didn’t actually expect to hear back. But I did. I received a letter from President Hinckley’s personal secretary dated January 26, 1999. It was sent directly to the prison and said that President Hinckley had read my letter, appreciated my expressions of faith, and encouraged me to keep the faith.
The letter was a big boost, and it came just in time. Right afterward, I suffered a stroke. A cardiologist was dispatched to my cell, and he had me transferred to a hospital on February 15, 1999. Over the next few days, I was diagnosed with congestive heart failure. The cardiologist recommended open-heart surgery, but prison officials refused to approve the procedure.
While I remained hospitalized, I wrote another letter to President Hinckley. I updated him on my medical condition and thanked him for his support. Not too long after I sent it, I received
a package at the hospital. It had come from Salt Lake City and contained a leather-bound edition of the Bible and the Book of Mormon. It had been sent by President Hinckley’s office.
I also received a letter from a program specialist with the Church’s Social Services office in Salt Lake City, informing me that Church headquarters was in direct contact with Church leaders in Cairo about my condition.
“Remember, Brother Momen, the Lord knows you by name. He loves you without limitation. May the Lord bless you with the faith to follow Him and do His will.”
The words of encouragement gave me the desire to persevere.
At the time I had a cellmate from Zaire, and one day I overheard him talking about a diplomat from Niger who was helping him apply for clemency. At one point he said the diplomat’s name: Muhammed Donle. I knew that name. I had attended primary school with Muhammed’s brother
in Nigeria.
I immediately decided to get in touch with Donle. Within a week he showed up at the prison. He filed a petition with President Mubarak seeking clemency for me. He assured me that my medical condition qualified me for an early release under medical hardship. As he put it, my
strokes, heart disease, and diabetes were a good thing. He said I should thank God for them.
I took his advice—I thanked God.
Meantime, Donle did more than petition the Egyptian government for clemency. He went to the Nigerian embassy and started putting backdoor pressure on the Egyptian consulate. At the same time, CSW stepped up its public campaign to have me and other Christian inmates released. Other human rights organizations got involved. And thanks to Donle’s efforts, representatives from the Church in Cairo were able to spend more time with me in prison,
enabling us to start mapping out a transition plan to help me settle in Ghana once my release was secured.
Before I knew it, I was behaving as if I were definitely going to be released. My whole outlook underwent a change. So did my physical appearance. My paralysis lifted. I actually regained the use of my limbs on my left side. From a medical perspective I can’t really explain this, and neither could the doctors. But men from the LDS Church administered to me, and Christians from all over the world were praying for me.
My spirits were lifted. I had hope again. Hope has a way of being self-perpetuating. Hope breeds faith. And faith produces miracles.
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Redemption
On April 8, 2006, after 15 years in prison, I was finally freed. The guards led me to the doors that led outside. The sun was just coming up over the horizon. It was so bright I had to shield my eyes.
“Good luck,” one of the guards said.
With the help of the Nigerian embassy and individual members of the LDS Church, I landed in Ghana shortly after my release from prison. Unlike in Egypt, Mormonism was flourishing in
Ghana. Church members there were on hand to greet me at the airport. They helped me find housing. They bought me groceries, helped me look for employment, and provided me with money during the interim. They even gave me a used computer and set me up with an email account. I had never even heard of email.
I began settling into a new life. Then, on a hot September day in 2006, I had a chance encounter with a cousin I hadn’t seen in almost 20 years.
“Your father is dying,” he said. “And he wants to see you.”
That made me suspicious. There was no way my father wanted to see me. My family had held a public funeral for me in 1989, two years before I went to prison. In their eyes, I had died when I became a Christian. What if this whole thing was a ruse to get me to go back there? I could be a dead man if I went home.
But something told me he was telling me the truth. I vowed to return home before it was too late.
I went directly to the hospital. When I entered my father’s room, I found him sleeping on his hospital bed. He was bald, emaciated, and frail.
Then his eyes opened, and he recognized me. A peaceful smile came over his face.
“My son,” he whispered.
I approached slowly. We stared at each other in silence. Then he reached for my hand. I leaned over the bed to get closer to him.
“Now that I see you,” he whispered, “Allah has answered my prayer. I asked Allah that if what you believe in is true, I should see your face before I died. Allah has shown me your face. So I believe in whatever you believe in.”
Was I hearing things? Was my father senile?
“Is it too late for me?” he asked. He sounded so desperate, so pathetic.
“Christ died for everyone. Everyone can be redeemed, Father.”
“The Lord you’re worshipping will take care of me?” he pleaded.
Too choked up to speak, I just nodded.
We talked for two hours that day. It was the best conversation I ever had with my father. He died later that afternoon.
The next time I see him will be on the other side.At that point he won’t be a Muslim and I won’t be a Christian. We will simply be children of God. I fully expect that he will open his arms and I will accept his embrace. It will be sweeter than any embrace I have felt in this life. My mother will be there, too. I expect her to be at my father’s side. She will be proud of me.
She will know what I believe. And she will be forever grateful.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Moon Shall Turn

I thought this interview in this video presented some pretty cool and fascinating soon to come to pass latter day events. It reminded me of the articles about calendars I read by John Pratt, I was on a big kick reading those when we were in Brazil in '07.

Monday, September 30, 2013

Expectations

Yet again, a great talk on the devotional this morning - Jeffry H. Larson gave a talk titled "What do you Expect? A Key to Personal Happiness (text of talk here). I loved it cause it went right along with things shared by Virginia H. Pearce in her book "Through His Eyes" - how we feel (our mood) stems from our thoughts (Pearce calls it a "belief box") more than the actual events in our lives.


We should not let ourselves suffer from all or nothing thinking with the trials we face. We can choose happiness and be happy whether the circumstances we find ourselves in are favorable or not. :)

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Becoming and Overcoming

Loved the BYU devotional on Monday by Carol Wilkinson titled "Becoming and Overcoming" - transcript here, originally given on March 17, 2009


I loved this quote from Thomas Steed, recorded in his journal after he immigrated to the US and arrived in Nauvoo, Illinois:

The Prophet Joseph Smith was at the pier. At first glance I could tell it was him, by his noble expression. He came on board to shake hands and welcome us by many encouraging words, and express his thankfulness that we had arrived in safety. As he could not stay with us, he sent Apostle Geo. A. Smith to preach on board. “What did you come here for?” asked he. “To be instructed in the ways of the Lord,” answered someone. [Apostle Smith said,]“I tell you, you have come to the thrashing floor, and after you have been thrashed and pounded you will have to go through the fanning mill, where the chaff will be blown away and the wheat remain.” (The troubles of Nauvoo were just coming upon them).[Life of Thomas Steed, 8–10]

This earth life is the thrashing floor. Ugh, that doesn't sound fun. But that is what we are hear for, to help us learn humility, trust, and charity. She gives 4 steps that we can apply when we face adversity in our lives:

Step 1. Your Plan Is Thwarted; You Trust God and Ask Different Questions
Step 2. Faith Doesn’t Bring Desired Results; You Ask for Strength
Step 3. You Are Not Consumed with the Trial; You Focus on the Good Things in Your Life
Step 4. You Consecrate Your Life to God; You Draw Closer to Him

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Notes from Church Class

Sister Christofferson taught Sunday School today 22 Sep 2013 - class centered on D&C 107~

Succession of the presidency, mantel fell to Brigham  Young. People witnessed Brigham Young having an image of Joseph and even a hissing "s" as he spoke, just like Joseph had. Many people witnessed it, but we only know about it by the people who wrote it down.

Benjamin Franklin - "If you would not be forgotten as soon as you are dead, either write something worth reading or do things worth writing."

Are records today as treasured as records from earlier times where records are scarce?

5615 living endowments in Nauvoo before they left.

Pres Packer "Rocky Ridge was easy compared to what we face in the latter days" - Ahh! Yikes! Basically, you ain't seen nothing yet. Pres Packer was speaking of hte EVIL we face compared to the evil they faced. Spiritual death is more devastating than physical death. like pioneers burying their infants on the plains.

In Sacrament meeting, Eder Harris (missionary from AZ, convert, only member in his family) said when they teach sometimes people ask "Are you saying there's nothing good about my religion?" He received what he considered as a revelation - churches can be compared to car washes. They still get clean, but we want to be spotless and protected by temple blessings and covenants - which is the $9 wash:
$3 car wash - basic scrub and rinse.
$6 car wash - basic plus wax and dry
$9 car wash - shine and spotless finish

In Russia, Sis Christofferson said they translated "Come Come Ye Saints" on their own before Russian hymnbook was printed, and they translated "All is Well" as "Not so Bad, Could be worse" - I loved that!

Relief Society lesson - April 2013 General Conference talk by Elder Holland "Lord, I Believe"

He wanted to be a doctor, but on his mission he kenw that God wanted him to be a teacher. "An average LDS kid seminary attending boy from Southern Utah.

TED Steward "The Mark of a Giant" - 7 people who changed the world
FHE - Fan the Fire of your Faith - DESIRE
New insight Relearned "Write it down"
Matt 17:20 Nothing shall be impossible unto you
Hold fast to what you already know
Helaman 5:50 - greatness of the evidences - by their fruits ye shall know them - the fruit = evidence
2 Nephi 31:13 - Pray with real intent. Ask your father.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Grace

Today's 11:00 devotional was a talk by Brad Wilcox titled "His Grace is Sufficient". He shares such a wonderful analogy of how Christ's grace is like a mother paying for piano lessons. This analogy was also shared by him in an article of this month's Ensign here.
Christ’s arrangement with us is similar to a mom providing music lessons for her child. Mom pays the piano teacher. Because Mom pays the debt in full, she can turn to her child and ask for something. What is it? Practice! Does the child’s practice pay the piano teacher? No. Does the child’s practice repay Mom for paying the piano teacher? No. Practicing is how the child shows appreciation for Mom’s incredible gift. It is how he takes advantage of the amazing opportunity Mom is giving him to live his life at a higher level. Mom’s joy is found not in getting repaid but in seeing her gift used—seeing her child improve. And so she continues to call for practice, practice, practice. 

If the child sees Mom’s requirement of practice as being too overbearing (“Gosh, Mom, why do I need to practice? None of the other kids have to practice! I’m just going to be a professional baseball player anyway!”), perhaps it is because he doesn’t yet see with Mom’s eyes. He doesn’t see how much better his life could be if he would choose to live on a higher plane. 

In the same way, because Jesus has paid justice, He can now turn to us and say: “Follow me” (Matthew 4:19); “Keep my commandments” (John 14:15). If we see His requirements as being way too much to ask, maybe it is because we do not yet see through Christ’s eyes. We have not yet comprehended what He is trying to make of us.



Sunday, September 1, 2013

Ring The Bells


Ring the bells that still can ring 
Forget your perfect offering 
There is a crack in everything 
That's how the light gets in.

Tyler Jarvis gave a great devotional talk on 9 July 2013, titled "That's How the Light Gets In".  He shared his thoughts of while we would like perfection in ourselves and our actions, we have to accept our limitations and failures for now. And Christ will use us with our imperfections to do his work and build his kingdom - that is how others will see Him - through Him working through us. Great talk


Friday, August 30, 2013

Spacious Buildings

This past Monday night, Corey shared a lesson with the kids about Hollywood and the great and spacious building of Lehi's dream (see 1 Nephi 8:26).
We talked about seeking the praise of the world and if it's hard or not to be righteous in a decaying world. Then we read them this article about Corbin Allred. (He is awesome.) Then lo and behold, I learned Tuesday morning that we had yet another perfect example of what we had just talked about. I have never watched MTV or their music awards, but thanks to facebook I have heard about the awards show this past Sunday. Friends and news articles linked me up to some articles - I agree with Nancy French's article  where she says "There’s nothing original, clever, or entertaining about her slide away from virtue. ...it’s sad but boring. In pop culture, there are no boundaries left to transgress, no consciences left to be shocked." Also this one was spot on. And now, to quote Stephanie Nielsen:

"I heard they were crass, explicit, embarrassing and very disrespectful. Awesome. I like a good song as well as the next person, but if those idiots ever think they can come into my home and mess with my children and influence them with their "shocking" ways; then I say: over my dead freaking body. Nice try world. If there is anything virtuous, lovely, or of good report or praiseworthy, we seek after these things. -13th article of faith"

From an interview President Hinckley gave to Mike Wallace in 1995 (5:06-6:34)

Mr. Wallace: “Since World War II, we seem to be splintering; we seem to be becoming more selfish, more self-absorbed, less community minded. Families don’t seem to mean so much, and morality has gone to hell [his expression] in a handbasket. Why?”
Response: “The basic failure is in our homes. Parents haven’t measured up to their responsibilities. It is evident. A nation will rise no higher than the strength of its homes. If you want to reform a nation, you begin with families, with parents who teach their children principles and values that are positive and affirmative and will lead them to worthwhile endeavors. That is the basic failure that has taken place in America. And we are making a tremendous effort to bring about greater solidarity in families. Parents have no greater responsibility in this world than the bringing up of their children in the right way, and they will have no greater satisfaction as the years pass than to see those children grow in integrity and honesty and make something of their lives. …”
All those Hollywood award shows sure do make it look like they're having a lot of fun, don't they? Are you convinced that is where we'll find real lasting happiness? Not me, and I'll strive everyday to give my kids a big dose of what true happiness feels like (aka - babies learning to walkplaying on the beach, or just goofing around at home) so that they won't be duped by Satan's counterfeit.

Nice try.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Loving This Book

I've been reading this book this week and am feeling pretty excited about it. :) The baby needs me, so I'll try to write some of my thoughts later, but did want to hurry and shout out to go get this book and read it! Good Great stuff!

Monday, August 19, 2013

Let Your Happiness Shine

In 1975, the Church did an extensive survey of new converts to determine what it was about the Church that had initially interested them (article here). These were the results, in order of frequency of mention:

1) The feeling of closeness to God that they wanted to experience because they could see this closeness in the lives of Mormons they knew.

2) Happiness and a sense of peace, which they wanted and which they saw in the lives of Mormons they knew.

3) They wanted a better sense of purposefulness and direction in their lives. They tended to see this in Mormons they knew.

Only 9% of new converts said that doctrine was the main thing that attracted them to the Church. For all who are baptized and remain active, doctrine becomes much of the glue that cements them in the Church, but it typically isn't what they were looking for at the outset. And from my testimony in the previous post, when it comes down to it, the doctrine isn't what converted me either. It was the happiness and joy that I felt when I believe. Here are some other stories from converts who are finding joy in the gospel.
That happiness is still a huge part of my testimony today. Keeping the commandments and obedience to God's laws continue to give me peace and joy. I hope I can help others find this same happiness, it is found in loosing yourself and putting God first. I'm very happy when I let go of worry and doubt and turn my problems over to Him. I know I can trust him and that I will be happy as I say "Thy will be done."

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Happiness and Truth

I shared my testimony on Sunday in our ward at church.  This is what I shared, from what I remember.

When I entered the MTC to prepare to serve my mission, my boyfriend now husband was a week away from finishing his mission.  That is one of the main reason why after entering the MTC, I began to have second thoughts~

"Should I really do this?  I'm gonna be gone another year and a half on top of the 2 years he's been gone and just finishing up.  I could see him really soon if I weren't going on a mission.  Do I really want to do this?  Do I really know that this gospel and things I'll have to be testifying of are true?  Ummm..."

Thus began my doubts that first week.  And as I doubted, my happiness plummeted and I was a very miserable person. I continued to doubt and wonder if there was a way for me to get out when I attended my first Sunday sacrament meeting. Our branch president spoke, and the words he shared were for me. The part I remember was him saying "You've already committed to go, you signed a letter to the prophet promising that you would go." After hearing those words, I thought "Well, I guess I have to do this then..." and as I changed my commitment in my mind, my attitude changed too.  As I let to of my doubts, I was immediately happy again.  That was a testimony to me.  Maybe I didn't know if it all was true, but I did know that if I believed it was true and obeyed what the Church teaches, I am happy.

It often now reminds me of this scripture from Alma 30:35 -

And now, believest thou that we deceive this people, that causes such joy in their hearts?

If we are happy, we will know it. I think there are a lot of people who look like they are happy who are not. And I know that wickedness is not happiness, and righteousness and obedience do give me happiness.

Also, when I got my hair cut recently and was going to pay the cashier, my hairdresser mentioned to the cashier that I was expecting my 9th, and he said "wow" and I got excited and said how fun it was, and I could have gone off about it, but I could tell it wasn't something I needed to share, didn't sound like "fun" to him, so I smiled and said thank you and as I left to my car, the thought "it is foolisness to them" came to me from this scripture in 1 Corinthians 2:14

But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.

I felt he would not believe it that having a big family is fun, no way that he'd ever wish he could trade places with me. But I wish he really knew the joy I have. We first have to obey the commandments as an act of faith, and then as we obey and do, we will truly know the happiness and joy that come from them. But most people can't see it until they experience it themselves. I'm so thankful for the happiness that my family gives me, for my amazing in everyway husband who is my best friend, and for my beautiful children. I'm thankful to know that I can be with them forever. Here in this life, they will soon be fleeing the nest and starting their own lives and gaining their own experiences, and so although things will change, we start and end with FAMILY, thanks to our Lord Jesus Christ. I'm so grateful for this knowledge that I have of this happiness and truth.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Forgiveness

Beautifully said, from a friend's facebook ~

I am deeply troubled of all the hate that has surfaced surrounding the Trayvon/Zimmerman case. Instead of looking endlessly at CNN, MSNBC and the like "experts" may we rather look to Jesus Christ for direction in our time of need and pain. I was reminded of the tragic murder of 5 Amish girls a few years back and how the Amish community dealt with that. This talk on the healing power of forgiveness is a wonderful account of how that Amish community worked through their greatest trial. I pray that we can lean on Christ in our time of need so our communities and nation can heal and rise to higher levels together.

The Healing Power of Forgiveness by President James E. Faust - text here

Monday, June 17, 2013

Receiving

I've been enjoying our summer schedule so far.  From 11:00 - 12:00 it is quiet time for the kids and they read, and I get to listen to the BYU Devotional.  It's a great way for me to get an hour of pondering and study done while sitting and listening or doing some chores around the kitchen.  This was the devotional today - "Receiving" by Kent Jackson, originally given June 28, 2011 ~


I liked it and think I'll use it for our Family Home Evening lesson tonight, cause it goes right along with where we are in our scripture reading.  We just read Mosiah 12 last night and in verses 31-33 Abinadi asks King Noah's priest whereby salvation cometh - by the law or Moses or by keeping the commandments?  After Abinadi asked that I paused and asked the kids the same question and got to point out to them that even if we did keep all the commandments, we still could not heal ourselves, resurrect ourselves or give ourselves anything but by God's help.  It's not a bad thing, how blessed we are to be in debt to a good and kind God for all that we have and are!  Great talk.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Study Journal

After listening to this talk by Elder Kopischke over and over again (as it was the cd in my car) I decided that I should use "Preach My Gospel" as a study guide for myself.  On page "x" of the Introduction, they recommend that you use a Study Journal, and thus I created this little 3 ring binder for myself.
I took all the stuff I had put in the fourth tab of my family binder book and moved it to here.  I wasn't referring to it much in the other binder, this will be a little bit better for me.  I'm keeping a log in there of what I study each day, of my temple attendance, and printing up talks and blog posts that I want to read.  And I'll rip out talks from Ensign magazines and the BYU Magazine that I love and that will be classics for me to refer to frequently.  Good stuff.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Give The Lord Equal Time

From a CES fireside by Elder Ballard:

"Some years ago one of my missionaries came to see me.  He said: "President, I am losing my testimony.  I have some questions tha tno one will answer for me.  My bishop and stake president just told me to forget them, and they had no answers."  I asked for his questions in writing and then suggested he come to see me in 10 days, and I would answer every one of his questions. As he was leaving my office, I was prompted to ask him, “Elder, how long has it been since you have read from the scriptures?” He acknowledged that it had been a long time.
I said: “You have given me an assignment; it’s only fair that I give you one. You read at least one hour from the scriptures each day until you come back for your answers.” He agreed to do this. When he came back, I was ready. He said: “President, I don’t need the answers. I know the Book of Mormon is true. I know Joseph Smith is a prophet. I’m OK now.” I replied: “You will get your answers anyway. I worked hard on them!” All of this anti-Mormon stuff was what we were dealing with. After our discussion I asked him, “Elder, what have you learned from all of this?” And he gave me a very significant response: “I’ve learned to give the Lord equal time!”

Elder M. Russell Ballard, CES Fireside, 7 Nov 2010

Monday, May 13, 2013

Conference Ensign

The Conference Ensign from this past April's General Conference just arrived in the mail.  While listening to Conference I thought I heard family and home mentioned in almost every talk.  So I'm reading through it and underlining in green every reference that teaches about or mentions home and family and it's importance.
On a personal note and since yesterday was Mother's Day, I'll add that I'm so thankful to be a mother, I feel so lucky that I am healthy and strong and able to have all these kids.  I recently went and got my hair trimmed.  As I was leaving, they asked if I'd like to reschedule a follow-up appointment right now, and if I did I get whatever incentive.  I said no thanks, I don't know when I'll have the time in my schedule to get away again.  The lady who cuts my hair says "I can understand that" and turning to the recpetionist says "She's got 9 kids!"  "Almost nine" I replied with a smile as I pat my pregnant belly.  "Eight and a half..."  The guy checking me out just said "wow".  "It's a lot of fun..." I continued, and I do love it more than anything, but given the situation and that this person wasn't really interetsed, I just left it at that, and I thought of this scripture in Corinthians.

1 Corinthians 2:14
But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.

I felt a little silly trying to share that it's fun being a parent.  It's just not believeable, unless you're already a parent and already know.  It's much more easy to be persuaded that there's much more fun out there in the world to be had if we're free from the burden of caring for children.  Having kids sounds like foolishness.  But being a mother has brought me joy I didn't know existed, and that I didn't even know I wanted.  I'm thankful for the promptings of the spirit and the words of the prophet that have led me on this wonderful path of motherhood.

President Monson in this talk:
It may appear to you at times that those out in the world are having much more fun than you are. Some of you may feel restricted by the code of conduct to which we in the Church adhere. My brothers and sisters, I declare to you, however, that there is nothing which can bring more joy into our lives or more peace to our souls than the Spirit which can come to us as we follow the Savior and keep the commandments. That Spirit cannot be present at the kinds of activities in which so much of the world participates. The Apostle Paul declared the truth: “The natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.”4The term natural man can refer to any of us if we allow ourselves to be so.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Influence

Tonight was the first session of our Stake Conference.  There was so much of it that I enjoyed, but I want to share one story in particular that touched my heart.  The Second Counselor in our Stake Presidency, President Funk, shared this story.  He was mission companions with Elder Gordon Smith, who mentioned during their service together as missionaries that one day he might like to be involved in politics.  Years later he did as he was elected as a US Senator from Oregon.  As happens with many LDS members who are involved in politics, he was invited to accompany President Uchtdorf and others during a meeting with government officials in Italy where they were going to petition for tax exempt status.  (I'm assuming that Bro Smith related this story to Pres. Funk in a personal correspondence) Before their meeting, a secretary informed them that there was no way they would be granted to be tax exemption, as Italy had never granted that for any church other than the Catholic church.

The meeting started and President Uchtdorf presented their case to the one person who had authority to make it happen.  After President Uchtdorf was finished, this person asked "Is your church headquartered in Salt Lake City?"  He replied yes.  Then this person told them that in preparation for their meeting, he had taken a trip with his family to the United States and had visited many of our large and famous cities including Salt Lake, and said that their visit to Salt Lake City was the highlight of their trip.  They had visited Temple Square where two Sister Missionaries from Italy gave them a tour of the grounds and also a tour of the city.  He said "Because of your presentation, but more because of the deep impression these two Italian missionaries had on me, I am prepared to grant you tax exempt status, on one condition."  The church officials looked at each other with some uneasiness and said "And what would that one condition be?"  "That you build a temple and a visitors center here in Italy."  "I think we can agree to that!"  (Another story of that meeting related here about 3/4ths of the way down)

Anyway, then President Funk shared these thoughts which touched me deeply - "That is the way the Lord works..."  I'm sure that those humble missionaries didn't know they were going to have influence in that governmental meeting, and they surely they don't know the profound effect they ultimately had - not only tax exempt status for the Church in Italy, but a TEMPLE!  And a visitor's center!  Because of their righteous example, look at what was achieved! Their influence from that one day will have no end really in the work that will be done for many souls in the Rome Temple, but for the people from all over the world that will visit the grounds there.  Just amazing and inspiring.  I hope that I, like those missionaries, can be an influence for good, to build His kingdom and help further His work.  Do all that you do with an eye single to his glory.  We may never know in this life the influence we have, but if we are doing our best and trying to follow the Lord, He can and will use us.

28 May 2013 - Update: Corey met with President Funk on Sunday and Pres Funk emailed his talk to Corey, so here's the exact story in President Funks words, quoted below:

On one such trip Senator Smith went with President Uchtdorf to meet with a high official in the Italian government. The purpose of their visit was to ask for a tax exempt status for contribution made to the LDS Church. You see, the only church in Italy that has been granted a tax exempt status is the Catholic Church. 

They had made an appointment with a man in the government who had the authority to make a decision on this matter. Before meeting with this lady, they met with one of his assistants who in essence told them there was no way they would be given a tax exempt status because no organization or religion besides the Catholics had ever had this granted to them. 

They were finally able to meet with the man in charge. President Uchtdorf made his beautifully articulated presentation about the beliefs of the Church and why they should be granted a tax exempt status. When Pres Uchtdorf was done the man asked him if the headquarters of their Church was located in Salt Lake City, Utah. The answer of course was yes. Then he said; I must tell you of an experience my family had in your city. 

When I found out about the meeting that was scheduled for today, I and my family took a trip to Salt Lake City to find out what I could about your Church. While we were in the United States we also visited other cities, but the highlight of our trip was our visit to Salt Lake City. While we were there, we visited the temple square. Two lovely Italian young ladies guided us through the beautiful buildings there, we walked around your temple. They even showed us much of the city. They spent a good part of the day with us. We were so impressed with your city, the beauties of your visitors center, but especially with those two young missionaries. We felt such warmth and love from them. 

Based on the presentation you have given me today and on my families experience with those lovely young missionaries, our government will grant the LDS Church a tax exempt status for contributions made to your Church, but I will do this only on one condition. 

President Uchtdorf and Senator Smith looked at each other, gulped a little and said; Ok, what would that be? Then he answered, I would like your Church to build a temple and visitors center here in Rome similar to the one you have in Salt Lake City. President Uckdorf said without hesitation; I’m pretty sure we can do that! 

Those sister missionaries probably don’t know what effect they had on this Italian family or what resulted because of that day spent with them. But I think this is a great example of the way the Lord works though each of us to move his work forward here on earth. Those humble missionaries teaching, testifying and showing love was the means whereby a great work was accomplished, not only achieving a tax exempt status for Church members in Italy, but also in securing permission for the temple and visitors center that is now being constructed in the suburbs of Rome. 

We as members of the Church can, by the goodness of our lives and the strength of our testimonies, share the gospel message and help prepare family members, friends and other acquaintances who are not latter day saints to be taught by the full-time missionaries.
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