Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Welcome Home, Elder Vic Smith

Elder Vic Smith, son of Eric and Karin Smith - and big brother to Mitchell, Sarah, Caroline and Martin - returned honorably on Saturday, December 19 from a successful fulltime mission in Portugal. Calling the two years he spent in Portugal, "the best and the worst experience of my life," Elder Smith elaborates. "There really is nothing more gratifying than doing the Lord’s work among His children . . . but there is probably nothing harder either!"

The Church was first introduced in Portugal in the 1970's by members in the U.S. Armed Forces. In 1974, then President Spencer W. Kimball visited Portugal where he dedicated the country to the preaching of the gospel after receiving word the church would be recognized by the government. Immediately, four missionaries were transferred from Brazil to begin the work. The earliest Church meetings were held in the home of a Canadian embassy member living in Portugal.

Prophesied to become "the Church’s lighthouse in Europe," Portugal’s membership growth in the late 1980's was brisk, but slowed significantly in the 90's and overall retention of newly baptized members is difficult. Today, with two missions and slightly more than 38,000 members in 73 wards and stakes, Portugal has the highest percentage of members in any country in Europe but is the second largest population of members without a temple.

As to his future now that he is officially an RM . . . Elder Smith is looking forward to attending school in northern Utah - either the University of Utah or BYU - in the fall of 2010. In the meantime, after Christmas he will be looking for a job - in plumbing, delivery, general construction, retail or landscaping - to finance his education.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Open House Welcomes Christmas and the Neighbors

On Sunday evening, December 20, Dick and Ruth Graf welcomed dozens of ward members, neighbors and friends to their home for their annual Christmas open house and to see the festive display of hundreds of Dickens-esque miniature houses, shops, and churches, complete with lights, moving parts, trees and itty-bitty villagers. Dick reports he and Ruth begin bringing boxes up from their basement storage room in late August and begin setting up the display in September, finishing just before Thanksgiving. Their collection includes nearly every piece manufactured by Department 56, including the Dickens Village, Snow Village, Christmas in the City, New England Village, and others which they alternate from year-to-year. In addition to the village pieces, which take hundreds of hours to assemble, Ruth - and many of her friends - spend dozens more hours in the kitchen preparing a delicious spread of cookies, candies, meatballs, miniature sausages, punch bowl and much, much more - everything more delicious than the last! Both admit, their open house is the highlight of their holiday season, but it takes weeks for them to recuperate! Any party planner who believes a holiday open house is a laid-back party with a minimum of fuss, has never been to Ruth and Dick’s place at Christmas time.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Meet the Carsons

Kendall and Mary Jean Carson came to St. George for one teeny, tiny reason. Oldest daughter Stephanie and her husband Tyrell Bangerter already lived in southern Utah, as did their son Kadin Carson . . . but it was the birth of their first grandchild - 6 lb. 11 oz. Kylee Marie Bangerter born July 18 - which made the Carson's decide to relocate to St. George after 24 years in Overton, Nevada. Kendall and Mary Jean met in Richfield while both were attending Sevier Valley Technical College. After their marriage, the couple moved to Overton to work for NV Energy (formerly Nevada Power and Light) as a control operator. In his church service, Kendall has served with 9 bishops as either the financial clerk or the membership clerk, calling his "the perfect calling" because he doesn't like the limelight. When not traveling up and down the I-15 freeway on his days off, Kendall spends his leisure time shooting and keeping up his carpentry skills. Mary Jean is now a stay-at-home grandma caring for her family, including 16-year-old daughter Lisa, and 6-month-old grandbaby Kylee while Stephanie works as the office manager for Apple-A-Day Dental. In her spare time, Mary Jean enjoys sewing, quilting, crafts and "playing with the baby." Youngest daughter Lisa, who recently received her Young Woman of Excellence Award, is a scrapbooking, poetry writing sophomore at Dixie High School where she maintains a 4.0 gpa.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Breakfast with the Bishopric

Sleepy-eyed and some still in their pajamas, Young Men and Young Women from the Bloomington 7th Ward joined members of the bishopric for breakfast on Saturday, December 12. Members of the Laurel and Priest classes met at the home of Bishop John Goldhardt where they enjoyed a delicious breakfast, then viewed together the powerful conference talk on the Book of Mormon given by Elder Jeffrey R. Holland. The Teachers and Mia Maids were guests in the home of First Counselor Michael Twitty and Second Counselor Ryan Barton hosted members of the Beehive class and Deacons. Each group enjoyed breakfast and a special Christmas message.The purpose of this activity - which also included YM/YW leaders and teachers - was to strengthen the bond between the youth of the ward and the bishopric, and to remind everyone Jesus Christ is the "reason for the season!"

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Ward Members Celebrate Christmas Together

There was "Joy to the Ward" in the not-so "Silent Night" as members of the Bloomington 7th Ward from near or "Far, Far Away . . ." accepted the invitation to ". . . Come All Ye Faithful" to the annual ward Christmas party. It was "With Wondering Awe" ward members enjoyed the beautifully decorated hall and a delicious Hawaiian Christmas dinner prepared by Ellen and Jim Sorensen, assisted by the Activities Committee, with Barbara and Doug Schaerrer as chair, Allen and Sherry Scott, Jerry and Lorraine Erskine, Jim and Debbie Harrison. The program included prelude and dinner music performed on two cellos by Colyn Pereira and Toshi Becker. Alyia Cazier shared her exceptional young vocal talent singing "Where Are You, Christmas" and "Silent Night" while Primary children anxiously awaited hearing "Here Comes Santa Claus."

Thanks to all who made this wonderful evening a great kickoff to the holiday season. "I was so impressed by the committee who truly 'magnified their calling'," said Barbara Schaerrer. "Many were there the entire day - and stayed in the kitchen for the whole evening - and they are fun to work alongside!"

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Meet the Walboms

Paul and Penny Walbom have a rich history of service in the church and in their community. As a teenager, Paul left friends and family in Idaho Falls, Idaho to serve a mission in Florida. At age 21, Penny said goodbye to her life in Provo to serve a mission in Paris, France. Their life together began in the square dance club at BYU and they were married six months later. In their early years as young marrieds, Paul completed a degree in pharmacy at the University of Utah while Penny worked as the Assistant Chief Dietitian at Cottonwood Hospital in Salt Lake. Penny and Paul both graduated from BYU, as well - he with a Masters Degree in Public Administration and she with a degree in Food and Nutrition. During their 31 years in Salt Lake City, Paul worked as the Director of Pharmacy for Intermountain Health Care; Penny taught aerobics and line dancing and for 19 years, administered health programs and services at the Murray City Senior Center; and, together they reared three children - all who have followed their father into health care careers (two are pharmacists and one, already a Chiropractor, will continue his studies to become an MD). Walbom’s are also the proud grandparents of 8!

After Paul’s early retirement from IHC, the couple moved to Island Park, Idaho and built a home "with our own hands" states Penny. "It was always our dream to summer in Island Park and winter in St. George." In October 2008, the couple purchased their home in the Vintage. "We had been looking at homes in St. George for more than 30 years but got sidetracked on our way to Dixie by a pharmacy job in Sierra Vista, Arizona."

In her spare time, Penny loves to teach, quilt (she has baby quilts for sale), scrapbook, sew, cook, and dance! When he has a few extra minutes in his day, Paul enjoys playing the piano, violin, and guitar, woodworking, biking, and fixing almost anything. They love going dancing and attending concerts and plays. Both lifelong members of the church, the Walboms have each served in a number of callings. He has been an Elders Quorum president, served in a bishopric, as a high counselor and as a financial ward clerk, and has taught in dozens of capacities in all of the church auxiliaries. Penny’s favorite calling was as a Gospel Doctrine teacher, but she has taught in all the auxiliaries and served as ward and stake Primary president, as a Relief Society president and enjoyed twelve years in the baptistry and family file at the Jordan River Temple. Both love attending the temple and are appreciative to be so close to the temple here.

Penny adds, "We already feel very welcome in the ward and in the neighborhood. We appreciate all those who have reached out to make us feel at home in our new community."

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Elder Puriri Bids Auf Wiedersehen

Isaac Puriri, son of Rakipaka and Lani Puriri and brother to Rakai (25), Karamea (23), Ammon (17), Asa (13) and Hamilton (10), left November 18, 2009 for the MTC. For the next three months he will become proficient in the German language in preparation for a return to Berlin, this time as a fulltime missionary. Elder Isaac first saw Berlin in August 2007, when at age 17, he traveled halfway around the world as one of 74 Rotary youth exchange students for the ten months of his senior year in high school. The experience of being totally immersed in the language and culture, along with his classroom studies at Dixie High School, set an example of righteousness and honor for his family and friends. It also prepared him in many ways for what is certain to be "the best two years" of his life.

The history of the Church in Deutschland dates back to 1852 when the first missionary traveled there to introduce the gospel of Jesus Christ. Through all this nation’s political turmoil in the subsequent 100 years, devout members quietly lived their faith. During the dark days of the Third Reich and under communist rule (which did not end until the mid-1980's), members maintained contact with Church leaders, including President Monson and others, who bolstered the spirits of the members through occasional visits when permitted. Today, the Church in Germany has grown steadily and now includes dozens of stakes and branches, 14 missions, and two temples.

The Freiberg Temple, the 33rd operating temple, is the only temple originally built in a communist country. The church’s smallest temple when it was dedicated by Gordon B. Hinckley in 1985, the Freiberg Temple today provides the richest blessings of the gospel to members from Germany, Ukraine, Hungary, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Poland, Romania, and Moldova.

In 1945, Elder Ezra Taft Benson was called to minister in Europe following the devastation of World War II. In 1963, he returned as president of the European Mission headquartered in Frankfurt. In August 1987, after he was sustained as the 13th president of the Church, he had the special blessing of being able to return to Frankfurt to dedicate the 41st operating temple.

Follow the spiritual adventures and travels of Elder Puriri on the blog his mother has set up for him at (scroll down on the right side of the ward blog to "Official and Unofficial Links" [the last gadget in the "black" section] . . . then click on Elder Isaac Puriri).

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Young Women Achievements Celebrated

On Sunday evening, November 15, in the presence of other young women, parents and church leaders, Lisa Carson, daughter of Kendall and Mary Jean Carson and sister to Stephanie Bangerter, received her Young Womanhood Award. To earn this award - comparable to the Eagle Scout award - Young Women must live the standards outlined in For the Strength of Youth; complete six Value Experiences and one 10-hour Value Project for each of the seven values; keep a personal journal; and, record their testimony of the Savior Jesus Christ.

During the annual Young Woman in Excellence program, Lisa and another 15 young women of the Bloomington 7th Ward also celebrated their personal progress this year and shared their achievements in a variety of presentations. The purposes of the Young Women in Excellence program are to help acquaint parents with the Personal Progress and Young Women programs; give recognition to help each young woman to recognize the value of making Personal Program throughout her lifetime; and share the vision of Personal Progress with parents.

The sisters of the Bloomington 7th Ward Relief Society were also invited to participate in the evening since many have accepted the challenge to work toward completion of the newest Young Woman value of Virtue.

At the conclusion of the evening, testimonies were written on slips of paper which were then attached to a helium-filled balloon before being released into the night sky. Thanks to all those who helped make this a beautiful event.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Student of the Month Named

Elizabeth Bown is having an amazing senior year at Dixie High School. A member of the Laurel class in the Bloomington 7th Ward’s Young Women’s program and an active participant in the Washington County Youth Court, Elizabeth was recently honored by the St. George Exchange Club as one of seven October Students of the Month (one from each high school in Washington County) in recognition of her "hard work to attain high levels of scholastic achievement, community involvement and leadership."

The 2nd daughter of James and Paula Bown has also been selected to perform as one of six featured soloists in the Southwest Symphony Orchestra’s annual "Salute to Youth" Concert on March 26, 2010 at the Cox Auditorium. Elizabeth has studied piano for 12 years, including 4 years with D’On Snow and eight with Dr. Lynn Dean. She has performed for the State Music Teachers Convention in Salt Lake City and for the Southern Utah Performing Arts Festival in St. George where she was a scholarship winner.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Relief Society Celebrates The Plentiful Life

On Wednesday, November 11, the sisters of the Bloomington 7th Ward Relief Society gathered for dinner and a program to usher in the holiday season. The hall was beautifully decorated for an evening focusing on how to have and enjoy "The Plentiful Life." The food was a holiday feast fit for a queen! Each table sparkled with fine china, silver and stemware on loan from sisters in the ward. The sumptuous meal featured Cornish game hens with orange glaze, creamed green beans, sweetened yams, cranberry salad and pumpkin pie, all served by the young women of the Bloomington 7th Ward.
The program included prelude and dinner music by Billie Clinger with the "Star Spangled Banner" sung a cappella by Bill Hobson in honor of America's veterans. Special recognition was given to Barbara Schaerrer and Sherolyn Pederson, who were recently released as President and counselor in the Bloomington 7th Ward Relief Society. Each was presented with a Relief Society necklace by President Mary K. Temple.
The program focused on the various aspects of "The Plentiful Life" in music and the spoken word. Those who participated included Ellen Sorensen on the subject of "Appreciate." Debbie Harrison addressed the need to "Assist." Roma Goldhardt spoke on the topic of "Attitude." Barbara Schaerrer reminded the sisters of the need to "Aim." Lois Baker encouraged appropriate "Association." Tina Forsyth performed her original musical composition entitled "Hannah" written in honor of her great grandmother and the things they have in common. Mary Jean Carson spoke of the need to "Align." Diane Miller encouraged sisters to take "Action" in the important things in life. Stephanie Bangerter shared her thoughts on the need to "Avoid" while Ruth Graf reminded sisters of the importance of "Adapting." Mary K. Temple concluded the outstanding evening with thoughts on "Always."

Thanks to Jill Jones, a counselor in the Relief Society presidency, for all her hard work organizing this exceptional event, to Jeannine Smith who headed up the dinner committee and to everyone who helped make this a memorable evening.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Ward Members Celebrate Halloween

Trunk or Treat has gained popularity in communities across the country as a church or community-sponsored Halloween event which invites people to gather in a parking lot where they pass out candy from decorated trunks or backs of vehicles. The event provides a safe, family-friendly environment for trick or treaters. In the Bloomington 7th Ward, the Primary extended an invitation for one-and-all to join in the fun. President Olene Walker did not need to worry about whether ward members would support the Primary's costume-optional "Trunk or Treat" event on Saturday, October 31. From the looks of it, ward members opted to get into the spirit of the day in a big way!

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Missionaries Report from Out of Africa

Warm greetings to family and friends!

Out of Africa a message is heard. What is this message that seems to be coming from so very many different places, and day-by-day is growing in strength and in scope? It is the message of the restored gospel of Jesus Christ. The message is being heard by more and more people and they in turn are telling family, friends and neighbors about a gospel which brings hope and the promise of salvation for all those who are willing to fully embrace and live the standards this gospel sets forth. Those who forsake the ways of their past, who pray, study, and live the principles the dedicated and able missionaries teach, find joy and understanding like they have never heard nor felt before.

This gospel is refreshing and satisfying, like delicious water bubbling from a cold and beautiful spring on the side of a tree shaded hill. It is a pleasant soul filling process that quenches deep spiritual thirst just as that cool spring water revives a tired, dusty, parched and weary traveler. This beautiful gospel answers age old questions not answered satisfactorily until these latter days. The scriptures the missionaries effectively use reveal truths long hidden from the casual, unmotivated reader.

Where missionaries in some parts of this vast world must work ever so diligently to hopefully find a family, or an individual to teach, the missionaries in many African countries have large teaching pools of those persons who are anxious and eager to be taught and baptized into the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. It is certainly not uncommon for the missionaries to have ten or more baptisms to attend to every week or two.

The missionaries are diverse in their individual backgrounds. There are many who arrive from the United States, England, Canada, and other nations, as well as the fine young men and women who come from Kenya, Botswana, South Africa, Nigeria, The Democratic Republic of Congo, and many other countries where the Church has been established. Those coming from the African countries are generally black members, but there are also those caucasian members whose roots run deep from several generations of their families being members. Almost all of these young men and women enter the MTC here in Johannesburg, to be lovingly and effectively taught to become an army of God, anxious to go forth and prove themselves in the battle for human souls as well trained ambassadors of the Lord Jesus Christ. There is an air of anticipation and excitement, in their walk and in their voices. They are happy to be here, ready to go forth and serve, even as Helaman's stripling warriors were well prepared for their assignment. These missionaries are capable and full of great faith to do as they had been prepared to do, to teach and testify of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Almost all of the black missionaries come out of places of poverty. So many live in the townships, where thousands upon thousands live in conditions which bring tears to your eyes as you see the terribly difficult conditions deep, abject poverty places on those who have relatively little hope of ever being able to move forward to a better life. Africa is a land of rich minerals and millions of acres of rich productive farm land. It is a land where there are so many millionaires, and so very many more millions of the impoverished, untrained, visionless, masses of humanity. What is the hope for Africa? What is the hope for all the many ills which beset so many of God's children? The answer to all these many problems is found in the message of the restored gospel. Here can be found a new view of life, and life’s purpose. Here is found the courage to listen, learn, accept and commit one’s self to the possibilities of a new day dawning, to embrace fully and assuredly that which cannot be bought, that which a loving Heavenly Father, and His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, make available to those who will but try to learn and grow. It is a marvelous thing to witness the joy seen in the faces of the members here. They become fully dedicated to the Lord and His work. Oh, they struggle and have challenges - don’t we all - but they see something tangible, something beautiful and rewarding in every way as they take hold of the restored gospel truths.

We look in amazement every Sunday as we see how very well dressed are those who live in such squalor conditions. The men and boys wear brilliantly white shirts, and the women and girls are dressed in their very finest, they only wear on Sunday, or for some very special occasion. They bring their scriptures with them and they use those scriptures. When they give talks, even the very young, speak with confidence and love for the Lord their God. When the priests say the sacrament prayers, it is a thing of beauty. When they sing, they really sound wonderful, for they sing from their hearts and with emotion and great feeling. Last Fast Day, near the end of the service, two young men bore testimonies which brought tears to our eyes. Theirs were not just casual, unfeeling words spoken; these two gave from the depth of their very beings the thoughts that sprang from deep within their souls. Their testimonies were what one would normally hear from someone with decades of rich spiritual background, but these two could not have been a day over the age of ten. Oh, what composure, and their testimony was not casual, repetitious, nor what is commonly heard from one of that age. Giants, (spiritual), are being trained and prepared in the role of leaders in the Church and in the land.

Do we love Africa? Oh yes! We love the land and we love the people. There is here, “the arm of the Lord stretched out still”. The Spirit is brooding over Africa. The Church is growing and it is a delight to be here, and be a part of this, the Lord’s work. We are busy, we have a large number of students who are attending a college, university, trade school, or some other training NGO, (non-government organization). It is a challenge to work through the methods used to bring fruition to the Perpetual Education Fund program of helping the impoverished to realize educational opportunities not even dreamed of here ten years ago.

We send our love and greetings to you. May the Lord bless you abundantly in every righteous effort. May your testimonies grow as you nourish them with the good word of God. The gospel is true, the work is marvelous. These are the end times. Shall we labor diligently so as to not have any empty chairs in the kingdom of our Father?

Elder Dean and Sister Margaret Hooks
Perpetual Education Fund Missionaries
Johannesburg, South Africa

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Daddy/Daughter Date

Seven Primary girls, over age 8 and their fathers, gathered on Thursday, October 22 at the church for a country-themed Daddy/Daughter Date complete with hay bales, line dancing, wheelbarrow racing and high-spirited riding ponies with names like "Lightning," "Bronco," "Rocky Doc," "Bruzer" and "Bob!" Wilson and Dave Wright won the horse race. Dads and daughters in jeans and cowboy hats enjoyed a tasty dinner of sloppy joe sandwiches, chips, watermelon, with brownies and ice cream for dessert, much of the food prepared by the moms. Thanks to Shannon Evans and Elaine Christensen for a memorable event, the first of many for the girls as well as for new Primary president Olene Walker.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Meet the Harrisons

Jim and Debbie Harrison have lived in St. George for more than five years, but recently moved to Bloomington and live at 971 Cactus Circle. Jim and Debbie were high school sweethearts in their hometown of Salt Lake City and have been married 34 years. When Jim returned from military service and a fulltime mission in Nova Scotia, he begged and pleaded enough that Debbie agreed to marry him. After graduating from BYU they eventually settled down in Mink Creek, Idaho where they raised their two daughters, Autumn and Brooke, on a cattle ranch. Autumn moved to St. George a couple of years ago and recently meet a great guy. Jim and Debbie think they can hear wedding bells pealing in the distance. Brooke is married and lives in Kaysville and is the mother of the Harrison’s three beautiful grandchildren. Always active in the Church, Jim and Debbie have happily served in many callings and currently serve as ordinance workers in the St. George temple. The Harrison’s love riding mountain bikes, snow skiing and especially boating and water skiing which brought them to St. George because of its close proximity to Lake Powell. Jim has a professional background in communications and the ward's second Debbie Harrison is currently employed with Quest Diagnostics as a medical technologist.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Beehives Help Heart Patients

About 2 months ago, in a Beehive class planning meeting, Kendi Hansen proposed a service project. She mentioned that her mom, who works as a CNA at Dixie Regional Medical Center, would like to start a video library to benefit long term patients in the hospital’s cardiac care unit. The girls were excited and created a handout explaining the project and asking members of the Bloomington 7th Ward to donate pre-viewed or new DVD's. The young women subsequently collected 4 boxes of videos and DVD’s in 2 months. On Sunday, Oct. 4, a delegation of 3 Beehives, including Elizabeth Larson (daughter of Aaron and Rebecca), Kendi Hansen (daughter of Stacy Sappington Foote) and Aspen Erskine (daughter of Jerry and Lorraine), accompanied by Karin Smith, one of their leaders, delivered the collection of more than 50 films to the hospital.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

'Til We Meet Again, Cliff Rice

Cliff Ferman Rice, Darlene’s "kind, sweet husband" of nine years, passed away peacefully on Monday, September 28 at his home. The tall, distinguished and longtime faithful member of the Bloomington 7th Ward was a native son of Smethport, Pennsylvania where at age 6 he developed blood poisoning. Doctors advised amputating his infected arm, but his parents knew of a medicine woman who was said to work miracles. Her native salve saved his arm . . . and began what would become Cliff's lifelong affection for native American people and their culture.

Cliff served in the US Navy during World War II, stationed in the Aleutian Islands and later in Salt Lake City where he met and married Joyce Green, a little Mormon girl from Clearfield. It was through Joyce and others willing to share their testimonies - and Cliff's own reading of the Joseph Smith story - that, at age 23, he was ready to be baptized. Throughout his adult life, he embraced the gospel of Jesus Christ with faith and devotion and served faithfully in many ward and stake callings.

After his military service, Cliff graduated from Utah State University with a degree in Engineering Technology, then worked for the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) during the day and built homes in the evenings and on weekends - including designing and constructing homes for each of his four children. After his retirement in 1979, the couple moved to St. George.

Joyce and Cliff shared 54 years together and a happy relationship with their four children, eight grandchildren and five great grandchildren. After Joyce’s death in 1999, he married Darlene with whom he spent the last years of his life attending concerts and plays, golfing, and together in church service including a mission to San Diego in 2002.

Cliff will be remembered as a hardworking, funloving man of integrity with a fiesty sense of humor, a permanent smile and who quietly led by example. He was respectful of everyone, including those of other ethnicities and cultures; advised his children and grandchildren to "sing to your children" and loved brightly colored shirts. Cliff was widely sought after for his expertise in residential building construction. Many homes and young homebuilders in the St. George area bear the imprint of his accumulated knowledge and experience.

Cliff Rice will be missed by his family - and members of the 7th Ward - who enjoyed his gentle good nature and strong testimony.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

"Eight is Great" Says Newest Member

"Eight is great," says Shane Simkins who was baptized and confirmed by his father Randy on Saturday, September 25 in the presence of his mother, Sharlan; sister, Summer; cousins Jarett and Jillian, uncles, aunts, grandparents and members of the ward. Shane, who reached the age of accountability this month, has learned at home and in Primary about the importance of his baptism by immersion which represents the burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ and serves as a reminder to Shane of his promise to follow the Savior and keep His commandments.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Meet the New Primary President

Olene Walker has been a wife, mother, educational administrator, state legislator, Utah’s Lieutenant Governor and the first woman to hold the office of Governor in the 113-year history of the Beehive State. In the church she served for many years in the Young Women’s program in Salt Lake City; as a fulltime Public Affairs missionary in New York City alongside her husband Myron with the assignment to "make friends and build bridges with United Nations Ambassadors;" and, most recently in St. George she has taught the Gospel Doctrine class. Now she can add "Primary president" to her list of accomplishments.

The focus of Utah's 15th governor has always been on children - her own and the state’s - throughout her lengthy public service career. Still she notes "the only thing more shocking than this calling would have been to be asked to be a scoutmaster!" Sister Walker also jokes she "may well be the church’s oldest Primary president and my daughter says to remind you I can’t sing!"

Sister Walker assumes responsibility for the 35+ children of the Bloomington 7th Ward Primary from Pat Chappell who, with her husband Matt, has been called to shepherd the ward’s young single adults. Sister Walker will be assisted in her duties and responsibilities by Annie Green (left) as 1st Counselor; Gentry Wright (center) as 2nd Counselor and Shar Simkins (right) as Secretary.

"Create" Was Opportunity to Share Talents

Lois Baker admits she wasn’t sure what she was doing when she was asked to chair the Bloomington Stake event leading up to the General Womens Conference on Saturday, September 26. But with the help of a representative from each ward, including daughter Jill Jones from the Bloomington 7th Ward Relief Society, she jumped into the project she had been asked to "CREATE!"

"It started slowly," she states. "We all wondered if we would end up with anything to display," but as the sisters of the stake caught the vision there came exquisite quilts, paintings, genealogy books, crocheted doll clothes, violin music, scrapbooks, photography and hundreds of other examples of the amazing creativity of Mormon women!

Following a delicious light meal of finger foods served by stake priesthood leaders, sisters of the Bloomington Stake gathered in the chapel for the broadcast from the Conference Center in Salt Lake City.

Julie Beck, President of the General Relief Society reminded sisters the purpose of Relief Society is to prepare women to live eternally by helping to strengthen each woman and her family. "Everything in Relief Society matters and is part of the Restoration and organized after the pattern of the Priesthood," she noted. "Relief Society magnifies and sanctifies each sister." Light laughter could be heard in the background when she announced the title "Home, Family and Personal Enrichment" would now be called simply "Relief Society meetings!" She encouraged RS leaders to rely on revelation to fulfill the purpose of their organization based on the needs of the sisters in their wards.

Silvia Allred, 1st Counselor in the General Relief Society Presidency, expressed her concern that many women in the church are not fully enjoying the blessings of their membership because they are not fully involved in Relief Society. "Relief Society’s purpose is to teach them, to testify to them, to enrich them and to extend friendship."

2nd Counselor Barbara Thompson counseled women to "‘mind the gap’ between what we know and what we do; between believing and knowing; between the completion of the Young Women’s program and becoming fully participating members of Relief Society; and between believing in Jesus Christ and being valiant in our testimony."

President Henry B. Eyring, representing the First Presidency, said "Relief Society has always had the watchful eye of a loving prophet to oversee its direction. Charity is at the heart of the Society - born of faith and the Atonement of Jesus Christ."

For those who may have missed the General Womens Conference broadcast or might like to hear the messages again, watch for a re-broadcast on KBYU / Channel 11 or follow the link at