Saturday, November 11, 2017

A Full, Steady Stream of Blessings by Jodi Heap

I have been a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints my entire life. I grew up in a warm and loving home that encouraged correct gospel principles.  For these two facts, I am eternally grateful (and undeserving).  The gospel has always brought me happiness that I am seldom able to adequately describe, and though I have at times questioned, I have never doubted its verity and truth.  
Certain aspects of the gospel have come more easily- faith in my Savior Jesus Christ, personal prayer, tithing, self-reliance, church attendance, the Word of Wisdom… Others, however, have not come so easily. Despite the best efforts of my mom, an incredibly dedicated seminary teacher (Sister Herring, I will never forget you), and young women leaders, I never dedicated myself to reading the Book of Mormon as a youth.  I knew then, as I know now, that by reading the Book of Mormon I would grow closer to my Savior and be guided to do what was right if I abided by the precepts found within its pages.   I simply never made it a priority.  During my young, single adult years, my efforts at personal scripture study improved but were still spotty.  Later, after marrying and becoming a mother, one would think that reading the Book of Mormon every day while rearing my precious little children would have been made an obvious priority.  Nope, more excuses.  
Fast forward eight years… I can’t tell you exactly what affected the change, but if my commitment to reading the Book of Mormon daily was lukewarm before it is definitely nearing hot now.  I am still far from perfect, sometimes my mind wanders and I have to reread the same chapter, but I do read daily.  This new habit of mine has brought about some changes in my life that are so precious I wouldn’t dare live without them again.  I have been blessed with greater patience (not perfect patience, mind you), within in my home especially, because I feel so much closer to my Savior, Jesus Christ.  What mother couldn’t use a little more patience?  Along with this greater patience, has been clarity of mind to see situations with my children and others from a deeper perspective.  I am able more patiently and quietly assess what and if action needs to be taken.  I have a greater peace about who I am, and about Heavenly Father’s plan for me specifically.  And finally, I feel as if all of these improvements are tied into the final, and most important change since my recommitment to reading the Book of Mormon daily… my ability to feel and recognize the presence and promptings of the Holy Ghost.  I know the Spirit has always been present in my life, but it’s like by reading daily I have opened the valve to full blast, or cleared the traffic jam. Where before there was a trickle of water or a couple cars, there’s a full, steady stream and clear highway full of traffic zooming by.  I have felt promptings so clearly that they’re unmistakably the Holy Ghost leading and guiding me. 
I know the Book of Mormon is true and its promises are sure.  I would challenge anyone who desires to feel closer to the Savior and the Holy Ghost, to read it daily. Don’t make excuses as I did for so long, commit to reading daily and you will see marvelous changes in your life.  They may not come immediately, (obedience before blessings) but they will come, and they will be life changing!

Sunday, November 5, 2017

Listen for an Answer by Bob Badger

Prayer is an amazing way of communicating with a loving Heavenly Father. One of the parts of prayer that can be lost is the act of listening. A wise man once told me, “we go to the Lord in prayer to ask out question and then we go to the scriptures to get our answers.” 
The other morning as I was reading in the Book of Mormon, I came across Lehi’s counsel to his two boys Laman and Lemuel in 1st Nephi 2: 9-10. “And when my father saw that the waters of the river emptied into the fountain of the Red Sea, he spake unto Laman, saying: O that thou mightest be like unto this river, continually running into the fountain of all righteousness!
10 And he also spake unto Lemuel: O that thou mightest be like unto this valley, firm and steadfast, and immovable in keeping the commandments of the Lord!”
I had been praying to know what the Lord would have me do. Part of my answer is here in this scripture. As I read it this time, I wondered why Nephi and later Moroni would include what seems to be a family problem. Then it dawned on me that I am one of those children as well. That counsel wasn’t just to those two boys, but it was counsel to an old man thousands of years later. To sum up the counsel “just be true and do what the Lord counsels you to do.”
 This morning, Elder D. Todd Christofferson counseled us to be thankful for a pause to go back and study what President Monson has already instructed us to do. Part of that counsel was to spend time in the Book of Mormon. As we search the scriptures and pray, the answers come little by little like a beam of sunshine shining through the storm clouds. He really is there and really does answer prayers.

Saturday, October 28, 2017

The Magic of a Primary Program by Suzanne Hancock

On Sunday, our ward had its annual Primary program. As a new Primary president, I experienced this program in a different way than I had in the past. Before, I got to simply sit back and enjoy watching all of the children, as well as my own son. Now, in a new role, I felt stress and anxiousness as the day approached. It soon became apparent to me, however, that I need not worry at all because I truly am not the one in charge.

This is just my opinion, but I believe that the Spirit is the strongest in Sacrament meeting the week that those kids take over the podium. After all, the Lord counsels us multiple times to become as a little child. When I think about that, and when I watched the Primary children on Sunday, it is no wonder we should be more like them. They are humble. They are innocent. Their testimonies shine bright and pure. They sing like their voices are traveling straight to Heaven ... because they are.

Just as the parents' eyes focus on their child when it is their turn to speak their part, smiles and tears abounding, Heavenly Father, too, is focused on each child. He hears them proclaim that they will choose the right, that they will keep the commandments, that they will live Gospel principles, that they will try to live as courageously as the heroes in the Book of Mormon. He hears them, and He smiles.

How we need the examples of these children in our lives! I am so grateful to be able to work with them and to see their Spirits shine. They teach me how I need to live. I want to bottle up all those warm and fuzzy feelings that filled the chapel last week and experience the magic over and over again.

Matthew 18:3-4
And said, Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven.
Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven.

Saturday, October 21, 2017

The Great Diaper Dilemma by Jana Eisley

There was a time when God helped me change... diapers. It sounds funny, I know, but it's true. 

It was a time in our lives when money was tight, and just when we thought it couldn't get any worse it did. My husband was working tirelessly to keep our struggling business afloat. We had five kids under eight years old, two in diapers and one just potty trained, and I was consumed by the daily challenge of keeping all my children fed, clothed, and happy. 

I was drowning in worries and problems too big for me to solve, but I was tough. I could handle this. Everyone has tough times. We would get through this. All I needed to do was keep on keeping on. Then there came a day when we were trying to decide which bills NOT to pay, and we were faced with the or diapers? I'd hit my limit! It seemed clear what the choice should be, we all have to eat after all, but I couldn't see how to do without diapers. You have to have diapers! You can't just not have diapers! I had been so good at making it work, so good at getting by. I was trying so hard, I was doing all that I could. Didn't God care? What more did He want from me? What more could He ask of me? ... "I WANT YOU TO ASK ME FOR HELP" Here I was, beyond my limit, and now, I was finally broken enough to ask him. "Father, please help!..." I prayed more sincerely than I had in a long time. 

My prayer was answered, but not in a way that I would have expected. Not in the way I would have liked. 

I can't really describe the feelings that I was experiencing after that prayer... I felt calm, I felt reassured that it would all work out, I just knew it would be ok, but most of all I felt like Nephi from the Book of Mormon, I felt, "led by the spirit, not knowing beforehand the things which I should do." 

First there was a strange interest in wool. Yes. The fabric, the yarn, I was fascinated. I was obsessed. I read everything I could find about wool. Who knew that wool had such amazing properties? Then I learned that people were using wool as a cover for cloth diapers. This sparked an idea. I had done research before on cloth diapering, enough to know that I couldn't afford the cost of the set up. I had disregarded the idea as too expensive, but maybe there was another way. 

I took some hoarded cash, I think I literally had $ 7, and headed to our local thrift store. They had an amazing sale on sweaters 4 for $1 or something like that. (I think it must have been the end of sweater season.) So, I gathered up all of the wool sweaters I could find, 4 or 5. I also found that an entire trash bag of old stained and torn t-shirts was just $5, this could be the absorbent lining, so I picked up one of those. As I was checking out I talked to the cashier about it, and told her my plan. She looked at me like I was crazy, but it wasn't the first time I'd come in to buy things with entirely another purpose in mind. They had begun to expect the unexpected from me at the thrift store, and would always ask me what my plan for my purchase was, like buying skirts to make pillows, men's shirts to make little girl dresses, dresses to make aprons, and jeans to make quilts. The cashier told me that they couldn't sell many of the wool items that came in because they couldn't be laundered. She offered to give me those free of charge! I was amazed. So now I had an entire bag of old wool clothing, and along with the bag of t-shirts, I had enough to make a start. 

The small miracles continued as the other things that I needed were conveniently provided for me. Buttons, elastic, thread, from a lady who was cleaning out her sewing room, and even lanolin (which is pretty expensive and required to make the wool waterproof) from a friend who was done having babies... It took some trial and error to get the pattern right,  but in just a few days I had an entire diapering system set up for my little ones for less than $10. 

That day God really did help me. I don't know if everyone would see this as a miracle, but it was to me. I feel like God inspired my curiosity, He led me to the idea, and the materials, He took me by the hand and led me through. This experience gave me hope. It showed me what I can do, and even better, what I can do with God. It taught me that God really does want to help us, but he won't always just deliver a package containing the solution. And, It proved to me that God really can help me change, even if what I need to change is diapers.

Saturday, October 14, 2017

The Little Girls who Prayed by Jeanne Greer

Growing up in St. Johns was the best. There was always fun and adventures awaiting to be found. The Community Center/4-H building had just been built, and there were all kinds of fun classes like  sewing, cooking, and beading. I'm sure cow, chicken, sheep, and rabbit classes were going on that I wasn't interested in at that time. 

That winter we'd had a lot of beautiful snow. The snow had melted off the mountains and Lyman Lake had an abundance of water. The water was going over the spillway which had the Little Colorado River running high and swift.

There were some boys that were fixing a fence down on the river, so that the cows wouldn't be able to get in and get hurt. It was cooking class day, and several of us girls were at the Community Center cooking up some delicious stew and biscuits.

Someone came into the building and was telling our teacher that one of the boys that were working on the river couldn't be found. It just happened that this boy's sister was in the class. As girls that age, we were all so worried, and the first thing that came into mind was that we needed to have a prayer and ask Heavenly Father to help him be found safely.
In Proverbs 22:6, we read: Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it. My parents taught me that in time of need or in gratitude that I could always talk to my Heavenly Father, and he would be there for me.

Matthew, Mark, and Luke in the New Testament say, "Suffer the little children to come unto me.” I know that Heavenly Father listened to our prayers that day as the boy that we were praying for was Tim Raban. I'm sure he never knew that five of us little girls would ever be praying for him that day.

Saturday, October 7, 2017

For a Reason by Lesley Nielsen

My first thought about learning that Trek was going to be this year was, Hey maybe they need some help. I had never been on the Trek before, so I figured I could try and be a helper. Boy, was I in for a treat.

I had no idea what I had gotten myself into. Learning what my role was going to be and what I was expected to do, I was feeling a little overwhelmed with all the responsibilities I had to take care of. 

First responsibility I had to make sure I took care of was, how do I make sure Subway is taken care of. Second, how do I make sure that my parents can run it properly. Third, the shock of, "I have to wear dresses?!" Since I don't wear dresses, except on Sundays, have never really been sized to wear one, I was a bit nervous on trying to come up with them. Fourth, walking 4 miles in an hour. I mean I walk around Subway a lot, so I'll be fine right? Yeah right, I about died walking that far that fast.

With all those responsibilities, I didn't know if i could handle it. Well everything worked out perfectly. I had Subway taken care of, showed my parents what to do, got the dresses made and powered through those four miles. I was all set for the best weekend/experience of my life.

Not knowing what to expect with being put into Trek families, I was a bit worried with what would happen and who was going to be in my family. Let's just say each one of those young men and young women who became my "brothers and sisters" were put in my family for a particular reason.

I was so excited to get to know each and every one of those kids and of course our Ma and Pa, Nicole and Shane Johnson. We shared laughs, heartfelt stories, what some of our fears were. Things I probably wouldn't have gotten to know if I wasn't there. They all helped me in such different ways, they have no idea what it meant to me to be their "Big Sis." I don't have little brothers or sisters, so this was the coolest experience, because I felt like a person that these kids could look up to.

With that being said, Trek also had some rough times. One in particular happened quite out of nowhere. Everyone knows the saying, Everything happens for a reason. Well, I'm a firm believer of everything happens for a reason. Here is a small story of why.

While walking with the handcart along with the fam, I started to get really bad muscle cramps in my calves. I told Ma that I'm going to go a little slower to see if I can just stretch them out and get them to cooperate for me. Being the Ma she is, she stayed behind with me to make sure I was okay. The cramps started to subside, so being the stubborn person that I am, I decided to keep on trekking, pun intended, along with everyone.

Not 30 minutes later, I was on the forest floor bawling my eyes out because I was in such pain from my calves. The cramps came back, but this time they disabled me. I couldn't move my feet either way without having my calves seize up and not move. I was hurting, disappointed in myself, and embarrassed, because everyone was making a fuss over me. I'm the type of person that puts others first way before myself, because I'll take care of myself when I can. So the fact that the medical team and the head Trek people were all gathered around trying to help me out, made me feel uncertain about myself. If it wasn't for them though, I wouldn't have gotten through the rest of the night.

This all happened just minutes before it was the Women's pull. I had been looking forward to that all day because I had never experienced it before, so I was ready. I was ready to be a leader and show these girls that they can do hard things. That, unfortunately didn't happen for me. Here is why I believe things happen for a reason. If I were there with the girls, pulling and pushing the handcart, I think I would have either severely hurt myself and/or put myself in a position where I, personally, had to do most of the work. I say that because I don't like others, especially "little sisters" doing things that will hurt them. Why put all of them through this, when it just has to be me. That's just how I am. Why does everyone have to suffer, when just a few are needed.

With me out of the picture, I had to come to the realization that not everything has to be done just by me. That I don't have to put that pressure on just myself anymore. Those girls pulled and pushed that handcart through everything that was in their way and proved to everyone that they didn't need an adult participant helping them, that they can handle anything that comes their way.

Well the cramps finally subsided, and I could walk again, barely, but I pushed through it. When I finally showed up again with my family, I realized then how much I was missed and cared for. In just that short amount of time of walking with my family, they became like my real family.

The rest of Trek flew by. I know it was just a couple of days, but it truly seemed longer than that. Doing so many activities, getting to know our ancestors better, and getting to know our Trek families better, was the best experience I think I have ever had. I have a testimony of this gospel, and I truly believe that everything does happen for a reason. So if you're late, or forgot your keys and have to head back to your desk or even get hurt along the way, it is for a reason. A reason that we may never know at that moment, but in due time it will come to us and we'll realize why these things have happened.

I truly loved Trek even with the bad stuff. Without trials, we can never fully enjoy our blessings. I loved all of the families and helpers who were there. Without all of you being a part of it, it wouldn't have been the success that it was. Thank you for the experience of a lifetime. Can't wait till the next one!

Saturday, September 30, 2017

This Small Town that Answers Prayers by Taytum Waite

They say when it rains, it pours. Well we've sure had our fair share of the downpour these last few months. It's almost laughable at this point. Trevor keeps saying he's not sure what lessons we are supposed to be learning, but we better figure it out quick!
I think maybe I personally have a lot to learn. I have an independent streak that runs deep. I like to think I don't need help and I can handle things on my own. It's an attribute in a lot of ways, but it also makes me prideful. The amount of love and service shown to our family by this little community, family, and friends is enough to bring me to my knees. Many, many times.
There is no way for us to adequately express our gratitude to everyone! Thank you for showing up at my door with things from your garden, meals I said I didn't need, gifts for our new little guy, cards with money to "help where needed," and so many other little and sometimes not-so-little (wonderful) things. Today people will be picking up pit-cooked pork roasts from a fundraiser that my cousin and friends did. Many thanks to you and your husbands. Thank you for the hours of planning and labor and for putting it all together and sending me a text shortly before fliers went up saying, "Don't be mad, but we love you!" You knew I'd say no if you had asked. 
All we asked for was prayers. We have received those by the hundreds, I'm sure, and SO much more. THANK YOU a million times over! You have been the answers I didn't know I needed to my prayers and many worries!