Thursday, January 28, 2010

Meet John and Margo Freeman

John and Margo Freeman have lived all over the Western states, including their long time home in Island Park, Idaho followed by 8 years in Hurricane - during which time they served a 1-year fulltime mission at the St. George Temple and the Church Historic Sites - before finally settling in Bloomington. John worked for many years for Bridgestone / Firestone where he did lots of traveling selling off-road work tires (you know, the great big ones!).

Originally, John was from Ogden but military service in the U. S. Army took him to Colorado Springs where he met his wife when he joined a choir at Colorado College where Margo was a student. After their marriage, Margo worked at a variety of jobs. "I was a jack-of-all-trades and master-of-none, but I’ve had many wonderful experiences."

When they moved to Lewiston, Utah (near Logan) she was the only non-LDS resident in the tiny town and quickly became a "community project. I didn’t fight it much. The church was a good fit for me. Although none of my family has ever joined - and most of them still think I am crazy - I will be forever grateful for the blessings my membership has given me and our family." Margo enjoys spending time with her four children - 3 who live in northern Utah and one who lives in Colorado - and 18 grandchildren. "There is always a baptism, graduation or some other event going on in our large family and we don’t mind a bit, hoping in the car whenever they want us there!" the doting mother and grandmother notes. Margo also enjoys handicrafts - especially knitting - and John, an avid outdoorsman, particularly loves to fish. Both love to travel, but are pleased to come home to a great new ward in Bloomington!

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Meet Fritz and Gayle Morawetz

Fritz and Gayle Morawetz have had a very blessed 55 years together!

Gayle, the youngest of nine children, grew up in Richmond, Utah - just north of Logan. Fritz was an "Army brat" who never lived in the same town for more than six months - until he enrolled at Utah State University. There he studied and graduated with a degree in Political Science with every intention of going on for a masters degree, but instead accepted a job in Salt Lake City so he and Gayle could stay close to her mother.

Fritz started his working career with Western Airlines (which later merged to become Delta Airlines), where he worked 13 years in a variety of supervisory roles. He later took a position overseeing the average 2500 lbs. of freight which comes through U.S. Customs everyday from such faraway places as Germany, Japan, and Korea. Gayle graduated with a bachelor’s degree in business, then went on to BYU where she earned a masters degree in business education, then taught school for several years before her children - two daughters and a son - were born. When the children were old enough for school she accepted a position as a full professor at Salt Lake Community College. Her mother, who lived next door, cared for the children while she taught for 23 years. Now retired, Gayle is enjoying scrapbooking, has written her life history and is encouraging Fritz to write his. The couple also has 12 grandchildren and 2 greats!

Gayle is a lifelong member of the church, but Fritz studied the gospel for seven years before he was converted. His first calling was that of counselor in the Elders Quorum, but within a very short time - and even before he even really understood the church - he was called to be the Elders Quorum president. Since that time, he has served in many capacities, including counselor in the bishopric and was later ordained by S. Dilworth Young as a Seventy. As the only member of his family to join the church, Fritz is now completely immersed in genealogy and enjoying the career perk of free travel through Delta Airlines - including a trip to the east coast where he "hit the jackpot - genealogically speaking!" Gayle was actively involved in cub scouting when her boys were little, then "worked my way through the Primary." Most recently, the Morawetz’s served six years as a missionary couple at the Joseph Smith Memorial Building.

Gayle and Fritz have visited her oldest sister in St. George for many years. During their frequent visits, "we came to like the area. After we sold our big house in Salt Lake City, we looked and looked but couldn’t find the right place . . . until we found the Vintage. We are across from the Walboms, the Matlocks and Joyce Cannon and next door to Dave and Nancy Church. We couldn’t ask for a better neighborhood! We just know the Lord guided us here!"

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Klondike Campout A Cool Fun-for-all!

On January 15-16, boy scouts (age 12-13) and varsity scouts (age 14-15) in Troop 817 of the Virgin River District and sponsored by the Bloomington 7th took part in the annual Klondike winter campout in the snow and ice at Woods Ranch, about 11 miles east of Cedar City. Hail and hearty Chase Wright, Christian Goldhardt, Peter Bown, Ian Anderson, Cody Forsyth, Wesley Woodland, Bronco Hollowell, Cole Wilkes, Mitchell Smith, and Braden Evans built - and many spent the night in - caves they carved by themselves out of the abundant snow at the top of Cedar Mountain. The Varsity Scouts prepared dinner, then - as the temperature dropped in the darkness - most everyone crawled into the welcome warmth of their beds at about 8 p.m. In the cool light of day the boys and their adult leaders Eric Smith, Eric Evans, Ryan Barton, Rob Wilkes, and Steve Forsyth enjoyed breakfast prepared by the Boy Scouts before participating in survival activities such as fire starting, rope rescue, travois racing (a form of emergency response training), ice fishing, snow blind obstacle course, orienteering, cannon shoot, 100-yard sprint and of course, a Klondike sled race with an award to the most unique sled. Although Troop 817 was not a contender in that contest, they did take home 1st prize for their snow sculpture.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Elder Cameron Sevier Bids "Adios"

Elder Cameron Sevier, second son and youngest of Tami and Rudy Sevier’s four children, left January 13, 2010 for two years of fulltime service in the Mexico Guadalajara Mission. During two months in the Provo MTC, he will sharpen his gospel knowledge and learn to speak Spanish before departing on March 15 to serve the Lord’s children in Mexico’s 2nd largest city. A 2008 graduate of Dixie High School, Cameron is happy about his mission call, saying he has always hoped for a Spanish speaking mission because of his family heritage which has helped him "understand it a little, but I can’t speak it yet!"

When asked whether he is nervous, excited, or apprehensive, Elder Sevier noted with humor, "I was more nervous and apprehensive about giving a talk in Sacrament meeting . . . but I am excited about spending a month in the MTC with Amanda!" His sister will enter the MTC in mid-February to prepare for 18-months in the Honduras Comayaguela Mission.

The Mexico Guadalajara Mission, one of 21 missions in Mexico, includes more than 4 million residents, dozens of LDS stakes and the church’s 105th temple - one of twelve providing the richest blessings of the gospel to the Saints in Mexico!

The church in Mexico dates back to 1874 when Brigham Young sent six missionaries to preach the gospel and to find prospective locations for Mormon settlements. The missionaries were positive in their praise of the country and its future with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Their assessment was correct! Mexico was the first country outside of the United States to have 100 LDS stakes. In 1993, the 2000th stake was organized and at the end of 2009 church membership "south of the border" was nearly 1,200,000. With Elder Sevier’s hard work and testimony of the gospel, that number will continue to increase!

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Meet the Wheelers

Dick and LaRae Wheeler are "snowbirds," not one of the species of feathered creatures who survive best in snowy winter conditions, but those of the two legged variety who flee to warmer climates before the white stuff hits the ground! Dick and LaRae spent their youth in the eastern Idaho communities of Ririe (population 545 at the 2000 census) and nearby Shelton. Both graduated from Ririe High School and were married a year later. As a young husband, Dick took an entry level position with the Atomic Energy Commission (AEC) facility outside of Idaho Falls, where he worked for 8 years before venturing out on his own to create the family-owned Wheeler Electric based in Idaho Falls, which grew over time to become one of the state’s bigger electrical contracting companies.

Throughout the years, LaRae stayed at home to rear the couple’s six children and now enjoys applauding the successes of their 30 grandchildren and 42 greats! Both are licensed pilots, although LaRae admits, with the responsibilities associated with caring for her large family, she hasn’t had much time in the air. Always active in the church, LaRae has held many positions in the Relief Society and the Young Women’s program, while Dick served five years as a bishop and another eight years on his stake high council.

The Wheelers have enjoyed dividing their time between eastern Idaho and southern Utah. "I don’t mind the cold weather," notes Sister Wheeler, "but Dick wanted to be somewhere warmer so when our two sons took over the company, it seemed like the right time to make the move to St. George. We have been very pleased with the warm welcome we have received from the members of the Bloomington 7th Ward who have made us feel right at home!"

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Christensens Called to South Africa MTC

Dean and Elaine Christensen have been called to oversee the 3-year-old Missionary Training Center in Johannesburg, South Africa, one of the church’s 16 international training centers worldwide. Dean will serve as President of the MTC and Elaine will assist and also serve as Relief Society President. In this 2-year calling, which begins in January 2010, the Christensen’s will be responsible for training young missionaries from all over the world who have been called to serve in the Africa Southeast Area including the South Africa Johannesburg; Zimbabwe Harare; South Africa Durban; Mozambique Maputo; South Africa Cape Town and Kenya Nairobi missions.

With a capacity of up to 50 at any one time, the facility has approximately 35 missionaries arriving every three-weeks, all who live in dormitories on-site with meals provided by a contracted caterer. In their service to the Lord and His children, the Christensen’s will be assisted by four part time classroom instructors - all returned missionaries - and, a capable fulltime employee who serves as the MTC’s Manager of Training and Services.

Dean notes, "Obviously, we were shocked at this assignment, but honored to be counted worthy to serve in such a capacity. We will do our best not to embarrass the ward!"

Elaine says, "Wow! I don't think it has actually ‘sunk in’ yet! Clear across the world for two years! My first thoughts were how much this past mission has helped us see things from the missionaries perspective because we have now been in their shoes and know what they face each day. I have wonderful memories of serving in Los Angeles and also in the Jacksonville Mission and know this will be no different. It will be an amazing experience! Our kids have mixed emotions I'm sure, but are excited and thrilled for us to have this opportunity and blessing."

The Christensen’s were serving in the Jacksonville, Florida Mission when this call was extended and were released early to come home and prepare, surprising members of the Bloomington 7th Ward by simply showing up one Sunday in July. Follow their South African adventures on Elaine's blog at