Thursday, May 28, 2009

School's Out!

Peggy Childs is a little hard to keep up with these days. One minute, she’s cleaning out her desk at the offices of the Washington County School District and being honored by friends and co-workers at a retirement party . . . and the next, she’s not! Well, not retired anyway! This hardworking and highly respected wife to Gordon, mother to 7 adult kids and step-kids, grandmother to 19, and great-grandma to 3, chose to retire early beginning on June 30 when her current contract expires after 20 years as a teacher and later as staff development coordinator for the WCSD. But when she heard of plans by the Utah Office of Education to create a Personnel Development Center in southern Utah, she was intrigued by the chance to share her knowledge and add to it.

With proposal in hand, she traveled to Salt Lake City and after hearing her ideas, the Utah Office of Education wisely offered her a position which involves training teachers, administrators and parents in 41 school districts across the state, including 100 charter schools. "I designed and developed the assignment I just left. We’ll invent this one as we go along, too." The irony she notes with her characteristic light-hearted chuckle, is that beginning July 2, when she goes back to work at 121 W. Tabernacle, she will take up residence in the very same cubicle she just left!

After nearly eight decades of life, most people can be found enjoying the fruits of their labors in retirement – playing golf, supporting activities of children and grandchildren, and traveling the world. Luana Warner of Bloomington was not quite ready for that lifestyle until recently when, at age 77, she retired from her fulltime position as a special education teacher at Dixie Downs Elementary School. There for more than three years, she taught life skills and basic literacy to five students with a range of mild to severe disabilities. With a Bachelors Degree from the University of Texas at Dallas and a Masters Degree from the University of Northern Colorado at Greeley, she also spent five years at Pine View High School using or modifying general education curricula to meet each child’s needs. Her teaching method included individualized instruction, problem-solving assignments and small group work.

When Lloyd, her husband of 58 years, decided to retire, she had just signed a contract with the Greenwood Independent School District near Indianapolis, Indiana. Although she had every reason to abandon her plans to teach another year, she chose to honor her contract and encouraged Lloyd to move to St. George without her to build their dream home. When the year was up – and the house completed – she joined her husband, then accepted a contract with the Washington County School District.

Her desire to help children learn has extended well beyond southern Utah when, in 1995, the Warner’s served an 18-month LDS mission in Pakistan. In the world’s 6th most populated country (located in the mountainous region between central Asia and the Middle East), she helped establish a school to teach English, as well as other subjects, to 50 local children.

The mother of 7 accomplished adults, grandmother to 29 and great-grandmother to 13 reflects on her lengthy career in the classroom. “I have just so much enjoyed helping these children, it never occurred to me it was time to quit!” she notes quietly. What does the future hold for this dedicated educator now that the retirement party is over? “Enjoying my family . . . that’s where I want to be!”

And speaking of school, congratulations to Bloomington 7th Ward’s Class of 2009 high school and college graduates Diana Stanley, Jerry Gardner, Brandon Forsyth, Isaac Puriri and Martin Smith.

On Thursday, May 21, Martin Smith, second son of Eric and Karin Smith’s 5 children, completed his secondary education at Dixie High School as well as four years of seminary. Until he leaves on a mission at the end of the year, Martin will be working and living in Green Valley with some of his friends.

Isaac Puriri, second son of Rakaipaka and Lani Puriri, also graduated from Dixie High School and three years of seminary after studying in Germany for a year as a Rotary youth exchange student. He has already submitted his mission papers and expects to be in service to the Lord before Christmas.

Brandon Forsyth, second son of Steve and Tina Forsyth, graduated from Pine View High School and four years of seminary. He plans to work, play a lot and attend Dixie State College for a year before serving a mission somewhere in the world.

Jerry Gardner, husband to Shauna Peterson Gardner, dad to Ashton and step dad to Tyson, Wyatt and Wesley Woodland, graduated on May 1 from Dixie State College with a Bachelor’s Degree in special education. In the fall, he will begin working with severely disabled children at Panorama Elementary School (a position similar to the one Luana Warner just retired from at Dixie Downs Elementary School).

Diana Stanley, a senior English major with an emphasis on professional and technical writing was selected to represent the Dixie State College Baccalaureate Degree Class of 2009 as Valedictorian and commencement speaker. She earned her Associates Degree with honors in 2008 and on Friday, May 1 received her Bachelor’s of Science Degree. This busy wife and mother of three is now working on a young adult novel and is getting ready to take the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) in preparation for grad school where she will pursue a Master's Degree.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Return(ing) with Honor

Adam Forsyth, the 74th missionary currently serving from the Bloomington Utah Stake and the oldest of Steve and Tina Forsyth's 9 children, leaves for the MTC on Wednesday, May 27 to serve among the population of more than 65,000 Hmong in the Minnesota Minneapolis Mission. Many Hmong living in Minnesota - considered to be the center of the world's largest urban population of this Asian culture - are said to be wrestling with issues of identity as they struggle to maintain ties to the past and seek to thrive in America. The Hmong people have their own language with a variety of dialects, so Elder Forsyth will be learning a foreign language while he serves in the heartland of America.

Kristen Oviatt, third daughter of Alan and Trudy Oviatt, is a fourth generation sister missionary who followed in the spiritual footsteps of her mother Trudy who served in the Sapporo Japan mission; her grandmother Gertrude Neal Wilsted who served in the Central States mission; and her great-grandmother Myra Matilda White Neal who served in England and Germany as one of the church's first sister missionaries. Kristen "returned with honor" on May 7 after 19 months in the Munich, Germany / Austria Mission. Now this 22-year-old has her eye on the next of her life goals to complete a Bachelor's Degree at BYU with a major in U. S. History and a minor in German. After graduation she will work towards the completion of a Master's - even a doctorate - in German. Her career goal is to teach!

On a beautiful Mother's Day Sabbath, members of the Bloomington 7th Ward enjoyed the unusual - but happy and spiritually uplifting - experience of saying goodbye to Elder Adam Forsyth and welcoming home Sister Kristen Oviatt.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Til We Meet Again, Brother Brown

James David Brown, husband to Ann Virginia Gourley Brown, "Dad" to five daughters and a son, and beloved "Grandpa" to nearly two dozen, passed away quietly in St. George in the early morning hours of Monday, May 18 at age 78.

One of four children, Jim was born in Mar Vista, California and grew up in Santa Monica where he attended school and lettered in three sports. After graduating from high school, former world heavyweight boxing champion Jack Dempsey offered to sponsor Jim to any college of his choice, but instead Jim chose to serve a mission to Great Britain. Later he began a successful career which spanned nearly thirty years as an interior decorator and owner of Brown’s Furniture in Sierra Madre, California - where he was recently honored on "Jim Brown Day" with a framed proclamation from the city. Signed by all five members of the city council, the proclamation acknowledged his "dedicated service to the community of Sierra Madre." During his years in southern California, Jim served as President of the Sierra Madre Community Hospital; on the Sierra Madre Redevelopment Committee and on the Advisory Board of Lloyd’s Bank.

Throughout his lifetime he also served the Lord and helped spread the gospel as a stake mission president; through service in the church as an elder, a seventy and a high priest; and for several years as a counselor in a bishopric and as a ward clerk. In retirement in St. George, he enjoyed woodworking, gardening and singing in the choir.

Brother Brown’s gentle demeanor and deep testimony will be deeply missed by those who knew and loved him. Our thoughts and prayers are with Sister Brown and her family.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Young Women Dinner Theater A Success

Ward members of every age came out to support the Young Women’s Dinner Theater fundraiser on Wednesday, May 13 in their efforts to prepare for this years Girls Camp! The dinner portion of the evening included delicious chicken enchiladas, salad and cookies and other sweet treats! The theater portion of the evening was an original presentation about the Young Women’s Values Program which helps each young woman, age 12-18 year old, understand God’s will for her, encourages her to keep His commandments, and prepares her to make and keep sacred temple covenants. Completing the Values program provides ways for every young woman to contribute to her home now and prepare for future responsibilities as a faithful woman, wife, mother, and Church leader by learning and applying the eight values of Faith, Divine Nature, Individual Worth, Integrity, Good Works, Knowledge, Choice and Accountability and the newest of Virtue. All participants in the Dinner Theater wrote, memorized and presented their parts including the choice of appropriate costuming.

Monday, May 11, 2009

From the Mission Field: Dean and Elaine Christensen

Things are going great for the “Senior” missionaries here in Brunswick. We keep pretty busy visiting part-member families, delivering media referrals, teaching the “after baptism” lessons to recent converts, transporting missionaries to zone conferences and transfer meetings, and talking in church now and again.

We are currently delivering packages from the Gladys Knight fireside held recently in Savannah. Several members here took non-members who filled out a referral card to have the missionaries deliver a sampler CD, a Book of Mormon, and a DVD of the Restoration - a very nice package donated by the Church. Several have invited us back to hear more about the gospel so we are pretty excited about that.

We loved the fireside. Beautiful music and great testimonies by Gladys and her husband. When the choir came up the aisle to go on stage we saw our former neighbor, Donnie Petit. We were surprised and excited to learn she is in Gladys Knight’s choir called “Saints Unified Voices.” We went backstage afterwards and talked to her for a few minutes.

We have had one baptism so far and a second one is scheduled for May 23rd. It’s interesting, but people do not see Senior Couples as “teaching” missionaries. They think that’s only for the young elders and sisters, so they are very surprised to find out we actually teach! Couples are definitely stereotyped as office couples, institute teachers, temple workers, humanitarian workers, serve at historical sites or a visitors’ center, or in public relations, but teach???? No, that’s for those young men on bicycles; and I have to admit they do a fabulous job! We surely do love and admire them!

We taught the after baptism lessons to a lady who had joined the Church a year ago. She was anxious to go to the temple so we taught her the temple prep lessons and then took her to the Orlando Temple to receive her endowment. She had done a lot of genealogy so we stayed two days to get it all done. Dean did the work for the men and I helped with the women. She was sealed to her husband, her parents and brothers and sisters. We also sealed her husband’s parents and the children to the parents. She was pretty excited about the whole thing. She is 86 years old.

Well, that’s pretty much our life everyday and we are really quite content with it all. We feel like it’s a wonderful blessing to be here and to have these experiences. Our testimonies of the Church have been strengthened and we realize more everyday just how blessed we are.

We miss you all and thank you for your cards and letters, e-mails, and support. You are the “cream of the crop!"

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Campout Celebrates Priesthood Restoration

The overnight campout, held Friday, May 8 and Saturday, May 9 drew approximately 30 men and boys to the Virgin River Rockville campground where fathers and sons of every age enjoyed play in the river, good food, S’mores, and one-on-one socializing into the night. Following dinner, participants gathered around an impressive campfire where Bishop John Goldhardt spoke of the events of May 15, 1829.

On that day, the heavenly messenger John the Baptist appeared to Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery and restored the Aaronic Priesthood. This visitation ended 1400 years of priesthood privation and absence of divine authority among the children of men with a promise it would "never be taken again from the earth, until the sons of Levi do offer again an offering unto the Lord in righteousness." Sometime thereafter along the banks of the Susquehanna River, the Lord’s apostles Peter, James and John also appeared and ordained the church’s first and second elders to the Melchizedek Priesthood, conferring the keys - or full powers - of the priesthood in the last dispensation of the fullness of times. This gathering of men and boys at the Bloomington 7th Ward’s 2009 father and son campout celebrated the modern miracle of the return of heavenly messengers in this dispensation and the restoration of those same powers they held for the blessing of all mankind.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Bingham's '29 Takes the Prize

Ralph Bingham’s restored 1929 Model A tudor sedan won the Outstanding Vehicle Award from among 150+ entries on display at the Desert Classic Car Show on Saturday, May 2.

The restoration of the white-with-green-racing-stripes roadster began in 1968 when Bingham, then a Cedar City teenager, found a rusted out hull upside down at the Kanarraville dump. There were no seats, no engine, no tires, no frame and both front doors were riddled with bullet holes, presumably the result of someone's target practice. With all the energy and enthusiam of a 16-year-old, Ralph thought his find - despite all of its obvious structural deficiencies - was beautiful and even then, he had a clear image in his mind of how the car would look when it was done. Over the years, he scavenged for parts "hoping to get it done in my lifetime!" The renovation took nearly four decades - and more than $30,000 - to complete in time for Christmas of 2008.

Pam has patiently supported her husband's expensive hobby, and has endured his long hours of research and bidding on the internet, believing when his '29 Ford was finished, he would move onto other things . . . and indeed he has. He recently enlarged the size of their garage so he had more room to work on the renovation of a Model A pick up truck he hopes to have finished before he is eligible for Medicare!