Thursday, April 30, 2015

Ward Family Picnic

On a beautiful spring evening (although with the temperature nearing 90 degrees, it could have been a summer evening), members of the B7 Ward along with family, friends and neighbors – about 150 in total - gathered at Christensen Park in Bloomington for a pot luck picnic.  The menu included delicious fruit salads, green salads, potato salads, and amazing desserts provided by ward members and hamburgers and hot dogs with traditional toppings, provided by the ward and grilled by our own Bishop Mike Bair.  The evening also included music by Scott Ford and Boyd Kanenwisher, joined by some talented ward members for a hilarious version of "Old McDonald."  Thanks to all who contributed to the success of this fun evening.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Walboms Leave for Nashville

Paul and Penny Walbom entered the Provo MTC on April 27 to begin a year of fulltime service in the office of the Tennessee Nashville Mission.  

They say they "were shocked” at the short time they had to prepare – only about 5 weeks from the time their call letter was received until they reported for duty.  They also both admit to being "just a little disappointed at being called to the American South" because he had served there as a young man and had hoped to be called somewhere exotic as a senior missionary.  She had served in Paris, France as a young woman and had an expectation of a second French-speaking mission because they had been told of the need.  

Soon after their call to service as Member and Leader Support Missionaries, the mission president telephoned to ask them to serve instead in the mission office which caused them to ask another big “why?”  His next phone call was to ask them to take on a second assignment.  In addition to office work … they will also be providing member and leader support to a Swahili French-speaking branch in Bowling Green, Kentucky!!!  "No doubt, we will soon find the brethren were 'truly inspired' and we will have an amazing experience in Tennessee," notes Sister Walbom. 

The Walbom’s will be leaving behind two of their three children and five of their eight grandchildren for twelve months, but a happy coincidence for the couple is a recent announcement from their youngest son who, at the same time, will be moving his family to Huntsville, AL – only about 50 miles outside the borders of the Tennessee Nashville Mission.

When missionaries for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints arrived in Tennessee in October 1834, they preached at a Campbellite church meeting and baptized seven converts. Another 24 were baptized later. These missionaries were joined by future Church President Wilford Woodruff in 1835, who preached to 500 people at a tavern. During the next three months, Woodruff and his companion baptized 20 converts. By year’s end, Woodruff had traveled 3,248 miles, baptized 43 people (three of whom were Campbellite preachers), and had three mobs rise against him.

The worst massacre of Church members in the South occurred on August 10, 1884, when mobbers shot to death missionaries William S. Berry and John H. Gibbs, and two local members during Church services near Cane Creek, Tennessee. B.H. Roberts, who was in charge of the mission at the time, heroically donned a disguise, traveled to the tense area and retrieved the bodies of the slain missionaries. In 1888, a group of 177 Church members left the unfavorable conditions in Chattanooga and moved to Colorado and Utah. By the 1890s, public opinion became more tolerant. The oldest existing Church building in the Southeast was dedicated in Northcutts Cove in 1909.

Currently there are 48,612 members in 102 congregations in the two Tennessee missions.  Two temples, one in Nashville and one in Memphis were dedicated in 2000.  Elder and Sister Walbom are now numbered among 84,000 missionaries currently serving in 406 missions around the world.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

What's Hat About?

Primary chorister Rebecca Larson is amazing ... and dedicated to her calling and to the 25 children in the B7 Ward Primary.  In preparation for Mothers' Day, Rebecca sent each child home with a CD of 16 Primary songs to practice and on Sunday, April 12, she gave the children the opportunity to choose a song from among those they are rehearsing during Singing Time.  Sister Larson told the children if they sang it well, they got to put a silly hat on a Primary leader!  

Judging by the assortment of hats modeled by (from left) Sisters Denise Clarke, Rebecca Larson, Jill Jones, Diana Smith, Michelle Carlston and Wendy Johnston, our little guys - and girls - must have really sung their hearts out!!!

Monday, April 6, 2015

Welcome Home, Toshi

At 11:02 p.m. on Friday, March 20, Sister Toshi Becker arrived at the St. George Airport on Skywest’s last flight of the day, to be greeted by her mother Taj Becker and father Adolph Becker and more than thirty B7 Ward members.  This enthusiastic welcome concluded 18-months of fulltime service in the bitter cold but warmly receptive Russia Moscow Mission. 

“The best part about serving in Russia were those moments, which came out-of-the-blue, when I realized I had become someone better through the power of the Atonement.  It was such an amazing experience witnessing every day – and in such an intimate way - how the Atonement changes lives,” states the new RM.

“My least favorite part of missionary service was seeing people use their agency to make wrong choices when they knew the right choices.  It hurt,” she states.

Toshi’s future plans involve returning to BYU for the spring semester which begins in May and where she will study for "at least a couple of years" to finish her bachelors degree in molecular biology, with a minor in music and chemistry.  She will leave for school in mid-April to look for work, which she hopes might be her dream job “working as a Russian teacher at the MTC.”

The website tells the following history of Church activity in Russia:  In 1843, just 13 years after the Church's organization, Church President Joseph Smith called two men to preach in Russia but this assignment was canceled after the martyrdom of the Prophet and his brother in 1844. In 1895, a native of Sweden was sent to St. Petersburg, where he baptized the Johan M. Lindelof family. The family was occasionally visited by Church leaders in the early 1900s. In 1959, Ezra Taft Benson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, simultaneously serving as United States Secretary of Agriculture, visited the Central Baptist Church in Moscow and preached to an attentive congregation.

In September 1989, Church leaders authorized a US Embassy worker in Russia to begin holding group meetings in his apartment. Four months later, in January 1990, missionaries arrived in Leningrad.  In February 1990, a congregation was organized in Vyborg. By mid-summer 1990, the Leningrad congregation, created in December 1989, had 100 members, and the Vyborg congregation had 25 members. In September, the St. Petersburg congregation was recognized by the government and in October a religious freedom law was passed. With membership in Russia at 750 in February 1992, two other Russian missions were organized.

In June 1991, the world-renowned Mormon Tabernacle Choir received publicity "beyond its wildest expectations" as it performed in the Bolshoi Theater in Moscow and in Leningrad (now St. Petersburg). The choir recorded songs later broadcast to a potential audience of 339 million. In May 1991, the Church was officially recognized by Russia. Elder Russell M. Nelson of the Quorum of Twelve Apostles, organized the Moscow Russia Stake on 5 June 2011 — the first stake in Russia and the second in the former Soviet Union.

There are now 22,039 members in 7 missions in Russia.