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The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

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We've seen the pictures of the Mormon Helping Hands cleaning up after the Baton Rouge Floods, but here is the untold story of the Mormon Bayou Food Angel

The Untold Story Of The Mormon Bayou Food Angel

How does it sound to cook food for an army of Mormon Helping Hand volunteers? How about doing the cooking from a mobile kitchen? How about doing with only limited help? Any takers? Oh, one more thing, you’re paying for all the food yourself and not getting paid for your work. Who in their right mind would do that? I know someone, Glenda Fuller, nicknamed the Mormon Bayou Food Angel.

Hundreds of Mormon Helping Hands volunteers ate her food this past weekend but almost no one knows her story, I had the chance to spend 2-3 hours helping Glenda Saturday night and she told me her story of service and sacrifice.

Backing up a bit, this Labor Day weekend I had the opportunity to accompany the Charleston South Carolina YSA Brach to Baton Rouge Louisiana as we joined with members across the south to help with the flooding clean up. It was surreal it looked like a war zone with what could only be described as rubble everywhere.

The flooded district of Baton Rouge.
The flooded district of Baton Rouge.

At the end of gutting houses for the day we were told to head to the Zachary Ward building, as it was acting as the command post because the stake center was damaged by the flooding. (The story of how the Zachery building was protected from the floods is worth telling itself!) As we arrived in at the building we noticed there was food, which was odd because they told us that there would not be food provided. So I found the lady in charge (Glenda Fuller from Bossier Louisiana) and I asked her story and let me say it was amazing. Here is her story.

Glenda Fuller and her husband Kenneth live in Bossier, she runs a catering company called “cooking cousins” with her cousins of course. Earlier this year their home flooded with 2 feet of water so when she heard of the flooding here in Baton Rouge she wanted to help.

Physically with her back problems she can’t do much work so she wanted to find a way to help, So she prayed and reached out to Andrew Maas the man who is in charge of the Baker Mormon Helping Hands Command Center.  She asked what she could do to help and he explained that everyone was being told to bring their own food and to gut houses. Glenda who could not physically gut a house told Andrew “I can cook! Can I come down and cook for everyone?” She told me that she thought for sure Andrew thought she was crazy but he told her to come on down…

Read more at MyLifeByGogoGoff.com

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Elder and Sister Bednar Visit Liberia together, Ensure Mormon Missionaries Are Safe
via MormonNewsroom.org

Missionaries of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are returning to Liberia after no reported new cases of Ebola in that country since June. Elder David A. Bednar of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles and his wife, Susan, recently traveled to the West African nation to show the country is safe for missionaries.

“The World Health Organization declared Liberia Ebola free,” explained Elder Bednar. “We want people to know that we’re here. … We would not be calling young men and young women to serve in Liberia if there was great danger or concern.”

Mormon missionaries serving in Liberia and Sierra Leone were transferred out of those countries and reassigned to other missions by the Church as a precaution in August 2014 following an outbreak of the Ebola virus. The first cases were reported in Liberia in March 2014. The World Health Organization declared Liberia free of Ebola virus transmission September 3. Young full-time missionaries began returning in early September.

There are currently 53 young Mormon missionaries and four seniors serving in Liberia. About half of those missionaries are from Africa, and the other half are from outside the continent. The Church Missionary Department hopes up to 100 young missionaries will be serving in Liberia once the buildup is complete, in addition to 12 senior missionaries. Prior to the Ebola outbreak, there were 80 young missionaries serving in that country, along with six seniors.

READ the rest of the article at MORMON NEWSROOM 

Elder Dale G. Renlund in Zambia
(Image via louthansinafrica.blogspot.com)

Elder Dale G. Renlund

Here are some AWESOME excerpts and quotes about missionary work, featuring our newest Apostle, Elder Dale G. Renlund.

Story from ’Doctor’s Orders: A Blessing’ on africase.lds.org

When serving as the Africa South East Area President, Elder Renlund learned that one of the incoming senior missionaries was also a patriarch.

President Renlund, well aware that there were many leaders, missionaries, and members who had never received their patriarchal blessings, got things in motion. Permission was granted by the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, who oversees the work of the patriarchs in the Church.

Throughout the approval process, the Hoffmans continued to deal with missionary medical issues, until Jan 26, 2013, when Elder Hoffman began to give patriarchal blessings. By the time the Hoffmans completed their mission in April of 2014, he had given 179 blessings. Elder Hoffman recalls, “Those blessings were given solely to members who generally did not have access to Stake patriarchs. Our medical travel allowed us to have contact with members from Addis Ababa, Ethiopia to the cities along the southern coast of South Africa to give [members] their blessings. Many other members, who came to the temple for their temple blessings, were able to receive their patriarchal blessings at the same time.”

Sister Hoffman remembers the event that changed the way they conducted the blessings. One day, Elder Hoffman was prepared to give a blessing to a man who had ridden his bike many kilometres to receive it. To his surprise, the member asked Elder Hoffman if he could delay the blessing a bit longer, because his wife was on her way and he wanted her to be present. While they waited, Sister Hoffman started chatting with the man about his conversion to the gospel. His story was simply amazing. He had nine children, and when asked what he did for a living to support them, he replied, “I dig.” Puzzled, Sister Hoffman asked for more information. He explained that he went out every day with a pick and a shovel, and if somebody needed a hole dug, he offered his services. Sister Hoffman then turned her IPad tablet onto some Mormon Tabernacle Choir music, to help pass the time and invite the spirit.

This good brother cradled the tablet carefully in his hands, listening to the music with reverence. He asked Sister Hoffman, “Do you think I might ever hear this choir sing in person? That would be so wonderful.”

Then his wife arrived. She had paid for someone else to give her a ride on the back of a bike. Not only that, she had their eight-week-old baby with her. Sister Hoffman remarks, “Sometimes we forget the sacrifices people must make to simply get a blessing. We never wanted to forget these amazing people.”

October 2015 General Conference

Something wonderful happens in a missionary’s service when he or she realizes that the calling is not about him or her; rather, it is about the Lord, His work, and Heavenly Father’s children. I feel the same is true for an Apostle. This calling is not about me. It’s about the Lord, His work, and Heavenly Father’s children. No matter what the assignment or calling is in the Church, to serve capably, one must serve knowing that everyone we serve “is a beloved spirit son or daughter of heavenly parents, and, as such, … has a divine nature and destiny.”

April 2015 General Conference

Some years ago a wonderful young man named Curtis was called to serve a mission. He was the kind of missionary every mission president prays for. He was focused and worked hard. At one point he was assigned a missionary companion who was immature, socially awkward, and not particularly enthusiastic about getting the work done.

One day, while they were riding their bicycles, Curtis looked back and saw that his companion had inexplicably gotten off his bike and was walking. Silently, Curtis expressed his frustration to God; what a chore it was to be saddled with a companion he had to drag around in order to accomplish anything. Moments later, Curtis had a profound impression, as if God were saying to him, “You know, Curtis, compared to me, the two of you aren’t all that different.” Curtis learned that he needed to be patient with an imperfect companion who nonetheless was trying in his own way.

Story from ‘Louthans in Africa’

Story from the mission blog ‘Louthans in Africa’ about meeting the new area president and his wife:
“District Conference with Southeast Africa Area President Renlund and his wife Ruth was wonderful to attend. We also stayed in the same lodge so we were able to visit with them. What great people….we listened and are still contemplating things that we learned.

“When asked if it was hard to give up their practices (President Renlund was a heart surgeon doing transplants, and Sister Renlund an attorney) they said no, they had already made that decision. The decision to always do what was asked of them. When called by a prophet there was no vacillation, no regrets, they just said yes and started to prepare to leave. We are blessed to have them here!”

Excerpts from ‘Hastening the Work of Salvation‘ on africase.lds.org

No injunction is as frequently associated with the forgiveness of sins and personal salvation as is missionary work. Doing so in the right way allows us to have our sins forgiven (D&C 31:5; 36:1; 60:7; 62:3; 84:61), stand blameless before God at the last day, bring salvation to our souls (D&C 4:2, 4), and to be made holy (D&C 60:7). Think of it! By joining the Savior in His work, the power of the Atonement is brought to bear on us individually in a focused and magnified way.

Many come up with gimmicks or standard patterns or approaches to create a missionary opportunity or react to it when it presents itself. The specific approach one uses is one of those things about which the Lord would say, “it mattereth not unto me,” so long as we do it (See, for instance, D&C 61:22; D&C 62:5; and D&C 80:3).

           Here are three simple approaches to consider:

1.  Accurately report your activities to co-workers and friends. When you go to work or other activities on Monday morning, how often do you respond to the question, “how was your weekend?” with the statement, “Oh, fine,” and leave it at that? What would happen if you instead accurately reported on what you experienced? For instance, what would happen if you said, “We had an amazing meeting in our Church where all of the congregations came together for a conference. Two young women were called on extemporaneously to share their thoughts. They were outstanding!” Or, “it was great. We had a new missionary from Ghana who is giving his full-time for two years to work in our congregation. He shared his humble circumstances and thoughts and it made a big impression on me.” Or, “we had a great activity in our Church where we used a pamphlet to record the names and stories of our ancestors. It helped me understand the sacrifices my distant relatives made so that I could be well-born.”

Responses such as these will act as filters for co-workers and friends. Some will respond with no interest. Others will inquire further. As they do, the dialogue will be natural.

2.  Offer an invitation to “come and see.” If someone asks anything about the Church, even if it is negative, respond, “come and see” John 1:39. If there is a baby blessing, baptism or confirmation, ordination, or any such event occurring in your life or in the life of one of your family members, invite a friend or co-worker to “come and see.” If someone asks how you are able to raise your children to be so respectful, invite them to “come and see.”

3.  Carry Church materials with you. Be observant. Be ready to obtain contact information for those you meet. Many are the successes of those who carry copies of the Book of Mormon, pass-along cards, and For the Strength of Youth pamphlets to share. Take down names and contact details of those who express an interest to give to the full-time missionaries.


Children See Angels Bear President Monson Up at General Conference
(Image via www.ilovethebookofmormon.org)

While the news of three apostles being sustained during General Conference seemed to be the big news, two other visitors have been garnering a great deal of attention recently on social media.

Who you ask?

Two angels, that is.

Towards the end of President Monson’s final address he appeared to have difficulty standing, and at one point was leaning on the podium to brace himself. We posted an amazing eye witness account of what President Uchtdorf was doing behind President Monson as he spoke, but an even more incredible story has surfaced that will give answer to Moroni’s question “…have angels ceased to appear unto the children of men?”

Risa Anderson Bates, a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints commented the following on her Facebook page:

“Do you believe children see things we can’t? I do! My sister had her children draw the Prophet during his talk today to help them listen better.

President Monson’s health started to greatly falter towards the end of his talk, and many of us were worried. Yet he incredibly finished what he started.

My niece Saylor (age 5) did as she was told and “drew what she saw”. When my sister questioned her about the two figures on either side of him, she replied she didn’t know, but there were 2 guys!”

Read the rest at I Love The Book of Mormon

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President Thomas Dube answers tough questions about the Church on South African podcast
(Image via http://cliffcentral.com/the-open-book/the-open-book-unity-in-diversity/)

South Africa Mormon Newsroom shared this podcast on Facebook on October 6th. It’s so interesting! (President Dube’s part of the interview starts at about 7:05)

“President Thomas Dube from Cosmos City Branch (congregation), joined Pastor Jacqui Rivers from Grace Point Methodist Church as special guests on CliffCentral.com, an online podcast forum in South Africa. The show, held on Heritage Day 24 October, was entitled: “The Open Book – Unity in Diversity”. President Dube addressed questions ranging from the history of the LDS Church, the Church’s beliefs in relation to family, and controversial subjects such as polygamy. Gareth Cliff, the station’s founder, was recently hosted at the ASEA Area Office, and expressed interest in learning more about the Church and its doctrine. The recent podcast resulted in effective dialogue between the interviewer, Loyiso Bala, President Dube and Pastor Rivers, as they embraced their diversity, rather than being divided by it.”

Click on play to listen to the Podcast. Way to represent, President Dube!

(President Dube’s part of the interview starts at about 7 minutes if you’re pressed for time)

You can also listen to the podcast at Cliff Central.

RM delighted to hear Elder Christofferson delivering his Conference talk in Spanish!
(Image via MormonNewsroom.org)

This weekend, I had the unique opportunity to watch General Conference from a stake center in Trujillo, Peru. As the session began, I remember feeling a little disappointed that no one spoke in their native language. As a bilingual RM, I can’t tell you how awesome it was to hear Spanish being spoken over the pulpit during last conference, but my disappointment was short lived when I got a very pleasant surprise. Just before Elder Christofferson got up to speak, the translator announced that he would be giving his own talk in Spanish.

For the first time, Elder D. Todd Christofferson, during the Sunday afternoon session of the 185 semiannual General Conference, provided his own Spanish translation for his talk. Rather than the typical voice of a translator, this gave the Spanish speaking members the chance to hear his own voice give the talk in a language they understood.

Read more at Mormon Buzzz

President Monson…I Wish I Could Have Come And Held You Up
(Image via www.gregtrimble.com)

If you were watching general conference this Sunday morning, your heart probably melted as you watched President Monson’s physical strength begin to fail on him in front of the entire Church. He started strong, and then all of the sudden it was as if an entire lifetime of church service came crashing down on to his shoulders.

It’s the first time that I can remember actually praying specifically for a person at the pulpit so that they would have the strength to endure. As I watched this man…this great man struggle through the last half of his message, I couldn’t help but become emotional. For me, it was as if the words he was speaking at the moment took a backseat to the symbolism of what I was witnessing, and in that moment, it was as if his spirit was speaking directly to mine.

I can’t imagine what the last couple years, let alone months have been like for President Monson. His amazing wife Frances who has supported him and been with him through everything, passed away. The world’s values are exponentially declining and effecting members of the church. He feels a responsibility to be there for them and comfort them.

Read the rest of this touching post at Greg Trimble’s blog

3 New Apostles—Where They Served Their Missions
(Image via mormonnewsroom.org)

Millions of right hands were raised todayin the Conference Center, in chapels, and in living rooms all over the world. By this action, members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints sustained 3 new members of The Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. We welcome our new Apostles, Elder Ronald A. Rasband, Elder Gary E. Stevenson and Elder Dale G. Renlund, and we thank them for their willingness to serve.

We will likely learn many new and interesting facts, stories, and tidbits from their lives as time goes by. For today, and here at LDS Missionaries, we share a little about their missionary service.

Elder Ronald A. Rasband

Mormon Newsroom shares this story about Elder Rasband’s mission call when he was a young man.

“Elder Rasband says the scriptures have been a life-long source of personal guidance for him.  As a 19-year-old he received a call to serve as a missionary. He hoped to be called to Germany where his brother and his father had served. As he privately opened the letter he was perplexed to learn he would be serving in the Eastern States Mission headquartered in New York City.

“‘Ultimately I decided that I needed to get a testimony of this or I was going to be in a real sorry condition.  I knelt down by the side of my bed and I prayed.  You know, I’m just a 19-year-old, I didn’t have that much experience in the scriptures, but I grabbed my Doctrine and Covenants and it opened at the one hundredth section and I began reading.

“Therefore follow me and listen to the counsel which I shall give until you…and an effectual door shall be opened in the regions round about in this eastern land.  Therefore, verily I say unto you, lift up your voices unto this people” (Doctrine and Covenants 100:2-3, 5).

“I had a witness come across me that not only should I be enthusiastic about that call but I knew it was exactly where the Lord wanted me to go. And I went from depression about my call to elation about my call that fast’.”

Mormon Newsroom also shared some of Elder Rasband’s feelings about being a mission president:

“His service in the Church is extensive: bishop; mission president; supervised the North America West, Northwest, and three Utah areas; a counselor in the Europe Central Area Presidency; executive director of the Temple Department; a member of the First Quorum of the Seventy since April 2000 and Senior President of the Quorums of the Seventy since April 2009.

“‘The calling that brought me to my knees the most, and that was serving as a mission president,’ he said. He oversaw hundreds of missionaries in the New York City area, serving with his wife. ‘My view is that it doesn’t matter what you’ve done in business. It doesn’t matter what your occupation has been in life. There is really nothing that can completely prepare you or even closely prepare you to be a mission president and companion. So I really learned to rely on the scriptures.’

“‘I really learned to rely on the Lord. I was on my knees more on that assignment than ever before in my life,” he continued  “I was caught in situations that I had no experience in, things I didn’t know how to deal with and the Lord spoke to me through the Holy Ghost and I knew what to do.  So I began to understand and learn the power of being spiritually dependent on a higher source.'”

Elder Gary E. Stevenson

Mormon Newsroom shares this about Elder Stevenson’s missionary service:

“More than nine years of Elder Stevenson’s life have been spent living in Asia. As a young missionary, he served for two years in the Japan Fukuoka Mission. ‘Missionaries develop a love for the people and the place.’ Later, he would return to Asia many times on business, and then served as the mission president of the Japan Nagoya Mission (2004-2007) and as Area President of the Church’s Asia North Area (2008 – 2012). ‘It’s really my second home,’ he said. ‘I’m very, very comfortable in Asia.’

“When a major earthquake hit Japan in 2011, Elder Stevenson was serving as the Area President of that region, and experienced a ‘defining moment’ in his life. ‘We knew immediately that this portended to something really big somewhere on the island. To see the destruction, to see the loss of life, to walk the streets and see it and feel it and be with people who were affected with family members that were gone. And to be able to see a response and to help shape a response. That was a manifestation of the Church of Jesus Christ filling one of its divinely appointed responsibilities of caring for the poor and needy. If there were people that were needy, this was them.’ He described it as a sacred privilege to be able to “go and minister, and bless, and organize assistance. There was so much we learned about the goodness of humanity'”

 Elder Dale G. Renlund

Mormon Newsroom talks about the heritage of faith in Elder Renlund’s family that began the moment his grandparents met the missionaries:

‘With tear-filled eyes, Elder Dale G. Renlund describes a family legacy of faith and hope built on the restored gospel of Jesus Christ that has sustained and inspired him throughout his life. Both sets of his Nordic grandparents ‘instantly converted’ to the gospel in 1912 when they heard the message of Mormon missionaries and made great sacrifices for their newfound faith. That pattern continued with his own immigrant parents, who came to the United States in the late 1940’s so they could marry in a Mormon temple. ‘That kind of faith is what’s in my family. Does it motivate me? Absolutely’.”

LDS.org shares this about Elder Renlund’s missionary service:

“Elder Renlund was raised in a home where the blessings received from following the Lord’s counsel were cherished. He was also blessed to live in his parents’ homeland twice: once as a teenager when his carpenter father was called to Sweden on a Church-construction mission and several years later as a full-time missionary for the Church in Sweden.”


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Prisoner of War Finds Hope Through News of General Conference
(Image via ldsliving.com)

“It’s conference time again.” During 1971, these four words were part of the brief daily communication between rooms two and three at Camp Unity, a Vietnamese prisoner of war camp. They stirred emotions, brought back memories, boosted morale, and gave a needed reminder that there was still good in the world. They meant that the places I dreamed about still existed. Hearing those words was a very significant, memorable event.

On August 24, 1967, the F-105 I was flying over North Vietnam was hit by ground fire while pulling off a target on the railroad northeast of Hanoi, near the Chinese border. It caught on fire and pitched down uncontrollably. I ejected, and in the chaos that followed, I was captured and became a prisoner of war in Hanoi. During that time I stayed in camps we called the Hanoi Hilton, Annex, Zoo, Faith, and Unity. Days seemed to be a week long and nights were longer. Four years of isolation often made me question what was real, imagined, or a dream.

I was allowed to write my first letter on Dec 13, 1969—more than two years after I was shot down. In it I wrote: “These are important: temple marriage, mission, college. Press on…Set goals, write history, take picture twice a year.” After my family and friends back home in Utah received this letter, my military status changed from missing in action (MIA) to prisoner of war (POW).  After a rescue attempt at nearby Son Tay on November 21, 1970, they moved everyone to big rooms in the Hanoi Hilton. There were 40-50 of us crammed in each of seven cells.

Though communication between rooms was difficult and rarely personal, one long-time prisoner, Air Force Captain Smitty Harris, taught a tap code to others. By chance, he had learned it at survival school. It wasn’t part of the curriculum, but an instructor had told him about British POWs during WW I or WW II communicating between buildings by tapping on pipes that ran between them.

Read the rest at LDS Living

President Nelson reflects on being an Apostle of the Lord
(Image via Deseret News)

“Every day is historic in this Church.”

So declared President Russell M. Nelson when a visitor to his office commented about the history-making event of having three vacancies in the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles as the 185th Semiannual General Conference convenes and the likelihood that the empty chairs among the Brethren would be filled during one of its sessions.

The historical record of this conference will make special mention of President Nelson. For the first time in a general conference, he will be sustained as President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. His appointment to this position came with the deaths of two Brethren of the quorum who were senior to him: President Boyd K. Packer and Elder L. Tom Perry. The death of Elder Richard G. Scott created the third vacancy in the quorum.

“People are wondering if there will be apostles chosen at this conference,” Elder Nelson said in a conversation with the Church News on Sept. 29. He said there probably will be announcements of new apostles, “but that is a matter between the Lord and His prophet.”

“There have been conferences where a vacancy has not been filled,” he explained. “President Heber J. Grant had announced to the Twelve that ‘so and so’ would be called, but it didn’t happen. Members of the Twelve asked him when the conference was over why he didn’t fill the vacancy. He replied that the man he said would be called wasn’t ready yet.”

Read the rest of the story at Deseret News