Mormon 100 Year Partnership with BSA that Almost Wasn't

I could not have been convinced, even a year ago, under any circumstances imaginable, that I would have an interest in reporting on anything having to do with Mormons and BSA. But alas, here I am, finally converted to the value and dignity of this program adopted by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints 100 years ago - the first to do so!

That conversion, if you will, began only months ago, when I felt compelled, on principle alone, to take on what I feel is the biggest controversy having to do with the Church, this year, and that many thought would threaten the relationship with BSA. I felt completely different and decided to say so, and why, in this post.

'A Century of Honor', presented in the LDS Conference Center, was a gala event to celebrate the 100-year-old, strong, partnership between the Boy Scouts of America and the LDS Church - made perhaps even more significant (from my perspective), after the decision of BSA to allow openly gay boys to fully participate in the scouting program.  Prior to that vote, the LDS Church made a public statement that rocked the Christian world - and left many of its own members confused.

Right beside BSA, in full support, and in the face of tremendous backlash, the LDS Church stood boldly, and issued a statement following that decision. Not surprising, a good amount of that opposition came from those of Christian faith, including Mormons on all sides of the aisle - some threatening to withdraw their boys from BSA, feeling that the wrong decision had been decided by leaders of the Church. And perhaps even more surprising, was the positive feedback from many within, and who support, the LGBT community who although they would like to see more inclusion of gays, willingly gave the thumbs-up to both organizations.

Mormon Missionary's Teaching From Outside-In!

If you haven't noticed lately, Mormon Missionaries of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are using their unique skills, talents and determination to preach the gospel around the globe.

And, they're doing it in the most interesting ways; making what they do both cool and fun!

Today, I want to give a shout out to a couple of very innovative Mormon missionaries' who serve in a ward within the bounds of the England Manchester Mission. Within the mission there are 16 missionaries called to teach, specifically, those who speak Chinese - although the numbers are relatively small, perhaps 1 in a thousand, at best.

These focused, LDS missionaries visit restaurants, takeaways, and are trying other creative means to seek out the Chinese, and pray they will listen to the message of the restored gospel. 

What I've learned from, John, a local ward member, is that the "the Brethren" are eager to teach the Chinese living outside of their homeland, with the desire that the gospel of Jesus Christ will find its way inside of China - a country that will not allow proselytizing.

Elders' Chong and Hare, have developed a Unique Selling Point, which is heard everywhere they go - ukulele's in hand. John said, "They are often found wandering into a Chinese takeaway serenading the staff and customers".

Elder Chong spoke mandarin before coming, whereas Elder Hare, a mountain of a man, from Hawaii, spent three months in a LDS Mission Training Center in order to learn the language. Hare, as a former policeman in Hawaii, never tires of peoples first comment being, "book 'em Dano"!

John explained that these two, fun-loving Elders, are experimenting with all sorts of ideas to help them find people to teach. But don't worry, their shenanigans are first approved by a responsible Mission President, before they ever make it to market. And boy, am I glad he gave them the go to launch a YouTube channel: England Manchester Mission Videos.

And without further ado, I want to share the video that launched the YouTube channel endeavor, made by... you guessed it, Elder Hare and Elder Chong, on their locally renowned ukulele's! (I suggest you begin video at the 3:00 mark and then go back and watch the entire video.)

Update: I just found out from LDS Living Magazine, who just picked up the video from this post, that you can "use the CC button at lower right for English captions". Perfect!

Video: 你为什么不接受洗礼? (Why Won't You Be Baptised?)

(Video link: begins at mark 3:00

FYI: The England Manchester Mission President has the goal to make this missionary video go"viral", which is why John contacted me. To date, its been viewed 3124 times - not a bad start.

Can we help? Sure we can! 


Mormon Missionaries Use Graffiti to 'Preach It' in Union Square!

I hardly know what to say about this inspiring video, that shows what a few LDS Missionaries, two who recently launched their proselyting blog, Reach My Gospel, did just recently, and in all places, Union Square, New York, with the intent to capture the attention of passersby in order to teach them about the Plan of Salvationusing the art of chalk drawing! 

One thing's for sure, that each one of us have gifts, talents and desires to share the gospel with others, and with a little creativity and willingness to use everything we've got to get the job done, we will be successful; what God needs our help to accomplish, and right now!

Watch video:

Mormon Missionaries Use 
Chalk Art
to Teach Plan of Salvation
 Union Square, New York, NY.

Elder Witbeck, who blogs on Reach My Gospel, said that the new blog, "is designed to invite others to come unto Christ by helping them receive the restored gospel". He went on to explain that one of the purposes of the blog is to share different ways we can be successful. (And apparently he wasn't kidding!) He lists three important helps for all of us:

Mormonism's Obsession with How Families are Formed

All human beings have the essential need to be strongly connected to others for life, in order to experience meaningful relationships and ultimately to feel unconditional love.

When this need is not met with some degree of satisfaction, a person will generally experience a sense of detachment from people in general, mild to severe depression, and worst of all feel unloved. Each of us belong to the Family of God and have felt His perfect love in abundance. The undetected, spiritual remembrance of such love, instilled within every human heart, is a blessing from God intended to bring forth the desire, in every individual, to form their own family, in order to become like Him.

In this life then, it is natural for us to have a need to reconnect with the truth of who we really are - a child of God. Without the knowledge of our former existence and divine destiny (or testimony of such), many of our brothers and sisters have been persuaded to accept the current, progressive ideology that either a mother or a father is not necessary in the forming of a strong family; now being distorted in its 'modern' definition as two adults of any gender, legally bound (or not) who bring children into that coupling through various means, including adoption, surrogacy or laws created to support the distortion of what constitutes the natural, ideal family unit.  The result of which, is that the inherent entitlement of every child born is completely disregarded for the demands of a minority.

"Heavenly Father has made each of us unique. No two of us have exactly the same experiences. No two families are alike. So it is not surprising that advice about how to choose happiness in family life is hard to give. Yet a loving Heavenly Father has set the same path to happiness for all of His children. Whatever our personal characteristics or whatever will be our experiences, there is but one plan of happiness. That plan is to follow all the commandments of God." ~ President Henry. B. Eyring, October 2013 General Conference

The adversary is acutely aware of our pre-earth existence

Satan knows that his work is greatly threatened whenever the veil of forgetfulness is pierced, even momentarily, giving the forgetful son or daughter of God inklings of spiritual remembrance, which will likely cause them to pause and consider the possibility of something more, and often because of how they've tried or are trying to unknowingly recreate their former family experience, which perhaps, for one reason or another, isn't working so well.

Therefore, Satan places his greatest emphasis on undermining God's plan of happiness, centered in the family, by directing a concerted effort in the blatant distortion of, not only what constitutes a family, but also relationships between men and women set apart by God, for distinct and important purposes, in order to bring about their exaltation.

Thoughts and Impressions: Oct. 2013 General Conference

To those who question whether leaders of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints care about individuals, thinking that perhaps they are either out of touch, don't listen to the concerns of members, or lack compassion for the challenges of faith that some struggle to reconcile, I sincerely hope that the inspired messages and counsel delivered at the October 2013 General Conference will be received personally, and with the deep love that God has for each of His children, which I felt in each of the conference addresses I heard - because, they do care. 

As a good friend described her own experience as she listened to conference, "It was like being fed from a fire hose"! I think it's safe to say that there is a personal message for every seeker of truth, with a heart willing to receive, which will uplift the soul! 

Regardless of where we are spiritually, or may have been, to those who desire added strength to press forward along life's perilous journey, look to God, and to those whom He has called, and trust that He provides the way for us to safely navigate our way back into His Presence.

Not only did LDS prophets and other inspired leaders reach out to the downtrodden, but also collectively they clarified specific doctrines applicable to the concerns of many, which I feel can easily be related to both our individual lives, and much of what is happening throughout the world  - making this conference, in my opinion, one of the most relevant in recent memory. And in so doing, placed the burden of not choosing God, directly on the individual, as it should be. 

Of historic note, were a few exciting announcements by President Thomas S. Monson in his brief, but powerful opening address. He joyfully shared that the LDS Church hit a major milestone in reaching 15 million members! We also learned that from October 2012 the numberof full-time missionaries serving has increased from 58,500 to 80,333! (A sister missionary, serving on Temple Square, shared with me that they were told that number is expected to hit 90K by the end of 2013.

"It is my prayer that we may be filled with the Spirit of the Lord as we listen and learn." ~ Thomas S. Monson

The unprecedented increase in full-time missionaries serving is due to the inspired announcement made in conference, just a year ago, in the lowering of the age requirement for both men and women. I was in the Conference Center when the announcement was made, and literally heard gasps; my own included!

As part of the media covering the conference, I attended the press conference held immediately following the session. What a thrill that was, to sit and listen at the feet of two Apostles of the Lord, relate how that stunning decision came about, why, and to feel the Spirit bear witness of the truthfulness of the work.

The Lord is indeed continuing the hastening of His work, in spite of adversarial distractions to derail it. The "stone cut out of the mountain" will continue to roll forth until its prophesied destiny to fill the entire earth is fulfilled!

As further evidence that the Lord continues to move His work along, President Monson made this prophetic declaration:

Malala Yousafzai: Words to Die For

Malala Yousafzai, is a 16-year-old young women raised in Pakistan. Many expected Malala to be youngest recipient of Nobel Peace Prize. If you haven't yet been introduced to her, through her courageous true-life story, which has captured the attention of the socially conscious, globally, this short video-clip extracted from her guest appearance on, The Daily Show, with John Stewart, should be sufficient - for now.

Please take a few minutes and be present with, Malala, as she describes in child-like detail, as a child, how she determined to face the Taliban if they ever came to take her life, simply because of how she uses her words - which they did. 

Video: Malala Yousafzai on The Daily Show

(begin at 01:50 mark)

Malala, is clearly an extraordinary person. Every facet of her young life is compelling, which is why in the telling of her very personal story, it has caused people everywhere to not only take note, but to stand - and reverence the dignity, grace and power in how a mere child has taken on evil, through the use of her words to speak truth, and on behalf of the most oppressed among us: women and children.

Her cause: education. And because education for women and children is a social issue of great concern to many throughout the world, Malala's profound courage to willingly face death to speak for her cause, in a part of the world where if you are female, you basically don't exist, and in direct opposition to those who would eventually try to take her life for doing so, is commanding of not only all of our attention, but personal introspection.


Malala's example of courage to speak truth with boldness, beyond what most will ever be required to measure, should bring forth from the deepest, most private part of the inner soul, the courage to ponder the same questions Malala was pressed to consider in order to fulfill her own life's mission:

What words am I willing to die for...?


Am I speaking them now?

Are my words being heard in order to make a difference for good in the lives of others?

"It is human nature that we don't learn the importance of anything
 until it is snatched from our hands." ~ Malala Yousafzai

Kathryn Skaggs

Photo Source: Wikipedia

Just one: Official LDS Tools to Help You Share General Conference Online

With the October 2013 General Conference upon us, has posted excellent social media tools to help you invite others to come listen to living prophets speak -- and they've updated them for you! You can choose to use the video invitation, an awesome widget, various banners and/or blog buttons in deciding the best way for you to share the gospel online. So, don't be shy!

Figuratively speaking, we want to flood the Internet highway with signs pointing to that building on the left - and fill it to brimming! We want to give the opportunity for anyone within the sound of the Lord's prophet, access to listen to him speak the words of Christ - if they so choose. And we want to do that one simple thing (our offeringthat has the power to bring a great thing about - but most likely you'll never know about it.

Pick one tool, and use it to share General Conference, online. Can you imagine what could happen if every member of the Church, online, shared this information once? I can. Our collective offering would be viewed as a great act of faith, in the Lord, and His work. He would pour out His blessings by increasing our reach to more of His children.

Just one.

The Loan, The Lender and The Deal

One month ago, my wife and I closed on a loan.

It wasn’t for a house, or for a car. It had a great deal to do with education, but would not result in a Bachelors, Masters, or PhD.

For us, this loan was the second of its kind and instantly it became one of our most prized possessions.

We had a long nine months to wait to close—much longer than our house, car, or education had taken. And when the deal closed, it wasn’t in a fancy bank or title office shaking hands with well-dressed business men who represented our lenders. It took place in a simple hospital room with scrub clad individuals who had also taken it upon themselves to represent our Lender.

I watched rather helplessly as my wife endured the pains that come with closing this kind of deal. My contribution compared to hers was small. I offered encouragement and strength through simple words and gentle touches as I watched her body being racked with the greatest pain she had experienced in her life.

And then it happened.

In a special and beautiful way, God gave us a little dark haired daughter that would be ours for as long as he saw fit. A loan from Him which would bless us, try us, teach us, and help us as parents to learn the skills necessary to become more like our Heavenly Parents. The conditions of the loan were unspoken, but in my heart I knew them: care for, protect, and teach this little one that the Great Lender had placed in my care and in return, she would be bound to me for eternity.

Ten Easy Ways to Share #LDSConf Using Social Media

The cat is totally out of the bag when it comes to knowing how much sharing General Conference using social media means to me personally! My passion for sharing the gospel online, over the last few years -- even prior to the official LDS Church doing it -- eventually caught their attention and has actually led to an incredible invitation to share General Conference, live, from the media center inside the LDS Conference Center. I still haven't quite figured out 'why me'? so instead I say 'why not me'? --  and just do it. This will be my 4th trip (I think) to Salt Lake City to do so, and each time I nervously wonder to myself if they will continue to allow me to do this in the future. Serving in this manner has become such a great joy in my life.

I have a sincere desire to be a part of this great movement, through technology, to share the message of the restored Gospel of Jesus Christ with those not of our faith. I know that many of you share a similar passion and it is a pleasure to work together in this endeavor. Making sure that information about how to watch General Conference is made available, as well as sharing the words of living prophets in real-time, I feel, is one of the greatest opportunities that we as average members have available to us, to help accomplish this great work. If you wonder just how important this work is to the Church, let me share a few quotes from some of our prophets.

Elder M. Russell Ballard: 
"The Lord, over the centuries, has had a hand in inspiring people to invent tools that facilitate the spreading of the gospel. The Church has adopted and embraced those tools, including print, broadcast media, and the Internet....Now, may I ask that you join the conversation by participating on the Internet to share the gospel and to explain in simple and clear terms the message of the Restoration." ("Sharing the Gospel Using the Internet," Ensign, July 2008, 58–63) 
Elder Russell M. Nelson: 
"Now in this day of the Internet, there are new and exciting ways you can do missionary work." ("Be Thou an Example of the Believers," October 2010 General Conference) 
President Dieter F. Uchtdorf: 
"With so many social media resources and a multitude of more or less useful gadgets at our disposal, sharing the good news of the gospel is easier and the effects more far-reaching than ever before.... 
"[P]erhaps the Lord’s encouragement to 'open [your] mouths' might today include “use your hands” to blog and text message the gospel to all the world! But please remember, all at the right time and at the right place. 
"Brothers and sisters, with the blessings of modern technology, we can express gratitude and joy about God’s great plan for His children in a way that can be heard not only around our workplace but around the world. Sometimes a single phrase of testimony can set events in motion that affect someone’s life for eternity." ("Waiting on the Road to Damascus," April 2011 General Conference)
Source: LDSTech
"Social media is fun, free and informative. It's also here to stay. It has the potential to connect the world, and any individual or organization trying to communicate a message to a large audience should take a serious look. With a message as important as the restored gospel, it's no wonder why the Church is taking gospel discussions online and encouraging members to do likewise." LDS Church News - "The Church in Cyberspace; Using social media to spread the gospel"

As we are now only days away from LDS General Conference I'd like to make sure you are all aware of some of the best ways to share this information with those whom you have influence online. Most all of us are now on Facebook, Twitter and/or Google Plus and/or use email, etc... where we frequently come in contact with nonmembers, giving us many opportunities to share our faith -- if we will but take the opportunities. 

Ten Easy Ways to Share General Conference 
Using Social Media

New LDS Book for Children Teaches to Never Sin: Not Even Once?

"The Not Even Once Club is an adorable and appealing way to engage children in a story that will help them choose for themselves to keep the commandments and to never break them. Not even once."


My first thought, after reading the above preface (partially), to Wendy (Watson) Nelson's new book for LDS children, was an immediate resistance. Let's face it, we all know that our children will not be successful in never breaking a commandment, so what sense does it make to raise the bar, so high, when you know they are going to fail?

I decided to go ahead and read the book (it's short), since I happen to nearly worship the ground that Wendy (now Nelson - she married an Apostle!), walks on. I came to highly respect, Sister Nelson, during the time she was still single, and chaired BYU Women's Conference. That's been  some years ago now, when I was regularly attending as the mother of school-aged children.

As I recall, Wendy (which is how I lovingly referred to her then, and which I would never use in her presence, mind you), would address the entire Conference in a packed Marriott Center during the opening session. When I heard her speak the first time, she immediately won my spirit with her ability to teach the doctrines of the gospel - brilliantly! At one particular Conference, she spoke on the topic of light. I will never forget how that doctrine affected me - mind blowing as it rang true to my very center - I understood! Her ability to teach doctrine, is exceptional.

After hearing her a number of times, a handful of us (including my best friend) who attended the Conferences together, put two-and-two together and realized that she was Sheri Dew's bestie! Are you kidding?

I'm pretty sure Sister Dew was in the general Relief Society presidency during this time. Most all of us, I'm sure, remember the initial impact she had on the women of the Church! Sister Dew, for me personally, resonated to the moon and back with how she spoke to us - still does. To this day, Sheri Dew stands at the forefront of what it means to be a latter-day-Saint woman in the last days. And the whole thing about light cleaving to light, that was how we saw Wendy and Sheri's friendship!

So, while most of the women we knew back home wanted to do lunch with Oprah, needless to say, me and my bestie wanted to hangout with those two incredible LDS women! We would have such fun imagining the kinds of gospel conversations we could have together - much like the ones the two of us frequently had - but super-duper charged!

Fun fact: shortly after Sister Watson no longer held the chair elect position for Women's Conference, my bestie and I were called to serve in our stake Relief Society presidency (she pres., me 1st. coun. ), and sooo for one of our own stake women's conferences invited Sister Watson to be our keynote speaker. Sneaky, I know. ; )

To make a short story, shorter, we planned an intimate luncheon with our presidency (lovely, I assure you), and finally had our personal encounter with Wendy. In our giddiness, I'm pretty sure we shared our secret wish about hanging with her and Sister Dew. (dorks!) Needless to say, it was a thrill. She was gracious, delightful, and "real", just like her best friend - two peas in a pod. I remember at the time, thinking how blessed I was to also have such a best friend, and how much we strengthened and enlightened each other during those tough times of raising our families.

A kind of close encounter: about two years ago, Sister Dew spoke at another of our stake conferences. I was an attendee, so I didn't get the perk of meeting her personally - but her talk was more than compensated. I was given an opportunity to meet her a few years ago, because of this blog, but wasn't able to make it to Salt Lake City on the planned date. Someday...

Sorry for the ramble, but its been fun to reminisce a bit. This is supposed to be a dignified book review. So, back to Wendy Nelson's book -- The Not Even Once Club! I knew that if Sister Nelson (still getting used to that), had written it, I had to read it. I was confident that she would teach spot-on, even if that preface threw me off a bit. And so, with that open-mindedness, I proceeded...