Sunday, August 30, 2015

Sisters Bown Receive Young Womanhood Recognition Awards

Grace Bown and her mother Paula Bown have together completed and received the Young Womanhood Recognition Award. 

To receive this award both had to commit to:

Attend sacrament meeting regularly (where possible).

Live the standards in For the Strength of Youth.

Complete value experiences and project for each of eight values of the Personal Progress program.

Keep a personal journal.

Attend seminary or participate in independent study
Read the Book of Mormon regularly.

Record her testimony of the Savior Jesus Christ.

This award recognizes Sister Paula and Grace Bown for worthiness and encourages them both to continue following this pattern of progress in life; to make and keep sacred temple covenants; keeping the commandments, serving others, and developing and sharing their gifts and talents.

Grace, at 16 has now completed this young woman’s program, so what's next in her remaining two years in the Young Women's program?  “I’ll probably do it again,” she says.

Paula states she is so happy to have completed this program with her daughter … and wishes she had done it with Sarah and Elizabeth, too.  “It is truly an inspired program.”

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Meet the Jensens

The family of Nathan and Camille Jensen is a wonderful addition to the B7 Ward.  Not only do they have charismatic personalities and many skills and talents which will strengthen the ward, they also have two adorable little Jensens:  2-year-old daughter, Logan – who her mothers calls “a big spirit” and 10-month-old son, Cache – who she says is “a joyful and fun spirit.”

Camille is from Logan, UT and Nate is from Willard.  They met at Dixie State University where she was recruited to play soccer and where he was studying communications, following a fulltime mission to San Francisco, CA.  The couple dated at DSU but it wasn’t until a date at Disneyland they decided their relationship had moved from a friendship to the promise of an eternal companionship.  While they were planning their marriage, he received an offer to teach seminary … on the condition they actually followed through with their plans. 

Prior to moving to 2913 S. Bloomington Dr. East in Bloomington, this “wonderfully imperfect” family lived in LaVerkin where Nate taught seminary at Hurricane High School for five years.  Now at Pine View High School’s seminary, Nate is in his sixth year of teaching.  Camille enjoys being a homemaker and playing the organ in Sacrament meeting.  Logan is exercising her independence more every day and Cache loves to laugh. Together they enjoy good food, reading books, watching movies, going to the park, being involved, playing pickle ball and Ring Around the Rosies!

We are happy to welcome you to the B7 Ward family.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Shoulders Wanted: Pioneer Trek 2015

Trek is a reenactment of the travels of pioneers as they migrated across the United States. It's usually done over a weeklong period and includes pushing and pulling a handcart while wearing 19th century-styled clothing. The purpose of a trek is to honor the sacrifices of those who braved the wild frontier, who walked 1,300 miles or more, to find religious refuge free from persecution, where temples could be built and covenants made.

More than 400 Bloomington Stake youth, ages 14-18 and their leaders participated in the event called “Shoulders Wanted” where they gained a better appreciation of the challenges faced by those early pioneers as well an opportunity to experience for themselves a small portion of the miracles and blessings associated with such sacrifice.  This year’s trek was in Wyoming, along portions of the original Mormon and Oregon Trails.

Handcarts are a genius invention, which in their day, allowed thousands of people to travel by foot with necessary goods when funds were scarce and wagons, teams of horses and oxen and other means of transportation were unaffordable for most.  These wood boxes on giant wheels, which were moved forward with manpower - both human and angelic - can crawl over and through any terrain, including the rockiest of trails and rivers.

It was determined early on, the goal of the stake committee was to prepare the youth for a stake temple trip to be held the week before trek, where each youth would bring 5 of their own names and perform baptisms for them. Throughout the year, they were trained to use new techniques in finding ancestors who needed ordinance work done … and identify one ancestor for whom they trekked.  This ancestor could be one they admired or the first one they could trace back to joining the LDS Church.  Each young man and woman was asked to provide the conversion story and a brief history. All of these histories were then gathered and printed on individual cards to be worn by the trekker as they hiked in remembrance and in honor of their pioneer.

Pioneers made the trek west as families in companies.  Our trek was similarly organized.  Each Ma and Pa was assigned 8 children over which they had stewardship for the entire trek. The process by which youth were placed in families was done with much prayer, temple attendance with thoughtful and concerted fasting.  Ultimately, the Bloomington Stake had 33 families in 4 companies of A, B, C and D.

The logistics of putting together a trek for 400 people is staggering.  Roundtrip transportation to Wyoming, food and bathroom facilities … its hard to comprehend how it all came together.  The only way any of this was possible is through hard work, prayer, fasting and miracles.  The Stake Presidency, the Stake Young Women's Presidency, the Stake Young Men's Presidency and the Stake Trek Committee Chairs went above and beyond to provide the youth an unforgettable and sacred experience.

The physical trek journey began at 4 pm on Monday morning, July 27 when B7 youth Liz and Stephen Larson, Vivian and Pete Fraser, Summer and Shane Simkins, Jarrett Thomas, Grace Bown, Cara and Aspen Bair, Tiana and Tanner Schall, Cole and Luke Wilkes, Warner Brown, Haus Jones, Wyatt Woodland, Adam and Luke Gwilliam and Jake Stokes boarded one of seven buses, followed by a dozen-or-so trucks for a 15-hour drive to the destination.  Also along for the trek were Bishop Mike Bair who cooked for the hungry trekkers and President James and Sister Paula Bown, representing the Bloomington Stake.

When the travelers arrived at Sage Campground, the sun was going down and the wind was blowing 50 mph.  Tents were set up before dinner - in the dark and in the raging wind.  Trekkers were up again at 5:30 am to begin trekking the 14+ miles of designated historical – and “hallowed” ground – known as Rocky Ridge.

Dedicated by President James E. Faust, he explained the designation of "hallowed" means the Savior Himself has been there.  It is evident this sacred stretch of trail where the Willie Handcart company was rescued, is indeed sacred as it is the site where many saints consecrated their lives to the Lord by heeding the call to travel to Utah and ultimately giving their life in sealing their testimony and dedication to the Gospel and Jesus Christ. 

Trekkers in the summer of 2015 also encountered hardships, including cases of dehydration, sun burn, wind burn and blistered feet on their 10-hour hike, but there was a lot of joy as well, as they stopped along the way for breaks and uplifting devotionals.  After dinner the first night, trekkers gathered for a spiritual fireside at the Rock Creek Amphitheater near the cemetery where those who perished with the ill-fated Willy Handcart Company are buried.

The second day of trek began with some transportation hiccups and delays, which resulted in a late start on the Trail of the Sixth Crossing of the Sweetwater River.  At the top of the ridge, the men were called out of the line to symbolize pioneer men asked to leave their families to march with the Mormon Battalion.  Without the men to assist them, our young women pulled handcarts up a steep and rocky trail for a short distance.  It was a sacred moment for many, including young men who tearfully and helplessly watched as their sisters struggled to make it up the hill. 

The final - and hottest - day of the trek was spent in Martin's Cove, where the rescue of the Martin Handcart Company took place.  At this sacred site, our youth and leaders cross the Sweetwaster in the same place where young men from the first rescue party offered rides on their backs for women, children and others to weak to walk on their own.  Young men carried them one-by-one through icy water in frigid weather to the other side then returned to help the next person for several house in water above their waste.

Many Bloomington Stake young women allowed young men or their Pa to carry them across the water for the experience of offering that service as the rescuers did.  This was a very spiritual experience for many young men.

The day ended in Martin's Cove with a walk through the actual valley tucked behind rocks and a hill, where the Martin Company huddled together for shelter from the wind and snow and where they were discovered by the rescuers.

Cheryl Kanenwisher, B7 Trek Committee Chair testifies, “I know every one who participated in this trek had testimonies strengthened and witnessed many miracles during this week.  Each was completely unplugged from electricity, social media, cell phones and everything else worldly.  Not once did I hear complaining or the mention of missing technology.  The Spirit of the Lord was there. We all felt the love of our Heavenly Father and those who have gone before, making it possible for us to have the gospel in our lives today and temples enabling us to be with our families forever.”

On the last morning, while trekkers waited for their bus ride home, President Hal Anderson gave a powerful closing prayer and pronounced a blessing on the youth of the Bloomington Stake.  In his prayer, he blessed the lives of the youth and told them they were being prepared as they would be on the earth ushering in the Savior when He returned at His Second Coming.

Sister Kanenwisher noted, “I am a witness to these things” (as follows):

Pioneer children were not so different from youth today.  They pestered their parents with "how much farther are we going today?" and "how many miles will we be walking?" or "how far have we gone?"(By the way, I wore a GPS to track our walking.  Not including running to and from everywhere around camp, fetching water, going to firesides, square dancing and so on, we hiked almost 30 miles).

Women's bonnets were not a fashion accessory, they were a necessity. As stifling and constricting as they seem, they provide protection from wind and sun. While none of us looked 'pretty' on the trails, I couldn't help but be in awe of how BEAUTIFUL the women were.  Pioneer clothing was practical.  Hiking in skirts and bloomers really wasn't cumbersome or a burden, in fact, I actually enjoyed it.  There is also a unifying experience about having everyone wear the same kind of clothing, just like there is in the temple.

Angels exist.  They are around us at all times.  In some places, the veil is very thin and when we look with our spiritual eyes, we behold them.  Our ancestors love us and are around us always.  They petition on our behalf, they strengthen us and guide us.  If we will turn our hearts to them and learn of them, they will make their presence known.  As much as we honor them for their sacrifices and faith, they admire us for the challenges we face in these latter-days.

Miracles continue today.  I have come to the knowledge there are miracles happening all around us all the time, we just need to open our eyes to see and acknowledge them in gratitude.  Our Father in Heaven is constantly blessing us with what we need and wishes to bless us with much more.  He loves us with an infinite love and proof of that in these miracles.

Our Bloomington Stake Presidency and Auxiliary Presidencies have been called of God.  They live worthy to receive inspiration for what our stake needs.  I am eternally grateful for their service and all they do.  Words can't adequately express my gratitude for their hard work on behalf of our youth and this trek.

The stories of the Martin and Willie Handcart companies are lessons in Remembering and Rescuing.  Shoulders are wanted and needed in this great work.  It is up to us to be prepared and willing to go out and serve and rescue.

Our Savior lives.  He is our Redeemer and he lives and will be in sacred places where righteous people do righteous things with a righteous outcome. We are His. He loves us infinitely and individually and wishes to bless us with His love. He rescued us. He rescued me. He requires that we rescue others and always remember Him.

Hearts and souls were changed because of this trek.  We came home as different people and I pray with all my heart I will always remember this experience and to stay valiant and endure to the end.  I recognize the family unit as designed by our loving Father to be eternal.  Happy day!  All is well!

Here's what some of the young trekkers had to say:

Tiana Schall said, "I didn't want to go, but it turned out to be a huge blessing.  The steep hills were hard to traverse ... everyone was struggling, but as tired as I was at the end of the day, I still had enough energy to help others in need."

Matthew Clarke said, "it was probably the best experience of my life.  I felt the spirit like never before and it strengthened my testimony."

Liz Larson said, "the trek was filled with blessings and miracles.  There were angels all around us and we felt the difference between sacred and hallowed ground."

Vivian Fraser said, "I am so full of gratitude for this amazing experience.  It was so hard ... but so worth it."

Paula Bown said, "it was a monumental feat to get 400 people to and from so they could experience what their ancestors went through to have the gospel in their lives."

President James Bown called it "a high privilege to see the young men and women of the Bloomington Stake become closer to their Heavenly Father and His Son Jesus Christ.  It was an amazing experience to walk the trail traversed by our ancestors.  It was powerful ... there were miracle and tender mercies every step of the way.  These modern young people left behind their iPhones, iPads and other electronics and we didn't hear any complaining."

(See additional pictures on the Bloomington Stake Trek website at