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Monday, August 28, 2017

419: RECENT LDS TEMPLE DAMAGES and NEW CONSTRUCTIONS

Houston, Texas
Houston Temple President Marshall Hayes confirmed Monday night that the LDS Houston Temple was flooding. "The creek became a river and the current is so strong that it’s been dangerous to even try and approach the temple," he said. Nearby Cyprus Creek rose by more than 20 feet. “It appears water to the depth of four or five inches has gone inside the temple," he added. “That includes a baptistry, a marriage waiting room, dressing rooms, kitchen and laundry. We haven’t been able to go inside so we really don’t know the extent of the damage.” The temple closed Saturday after the 11 a.m. session. Water also breached an adjoining building.

Photo taken of the outside of the LDS Houston Temple. 


Bountiful, UT
Last year, lightning struck the bountiful Temple causing part of the head of  Angel Moroni statue's to go missing and a hole in the back.  News Article
 Image result for lightning bountiful temple

This year there has been substantial structural damage to the Bountiful's spire which needed to be fixed. The fiberglass structure showed signs of decay and cracking. The spire has been removed and repairs are currently underway. Below is a recent photo I took with the missing spire on the Bountiful temple and the scaffolding to now rebuild it.



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Sidenotes: Speaking of no spire.

Here are some recent LDS Temple constructions.
Below is a photo I took of the recently dedicated Paris Temple. There is no spire.. on purpose. At first we drove by it and did not think it was a Temple. Long are the days of the impressive "San Diego" like Temple structures.



Below is a photo of the Rome Temple.  This Temple was announced almost 10 years ago on October 4, 2008.  Groundbreaking and Site Dedication was on October 23, 2010 by Thomas S. Monson. It has encountered numerous construction problems. When we visited it last month, it appeared that construction had stalled. Apparently it was supposed to be completed years ago, even before the Paris, France temple was completed.



And lastly, below is a photo of the newly dedicated LDS Temple in Tucson Arizona. It is definitely different looking. To me, it kind of looks a little like a Mosque with the exception of Moroni on top instead of Mohammed.  :)






Oh the Glory Days.

Friday, August 25, 2017

418: HOMELESS


Recently I visited a small church in old city of Barcelona that was built in 1141. This Church was unlike all of the ornate Catholic Cathedrals that we saw all through Europe.  It was simple, small and unassuming.  If you visit this church during the week, it is not closed unlike thousands and thousands of our chapels around the world.  During the week they turn the church into a soup kitchen and a place for the homeless to sleep. The Church pew benches are rearranged and placed around portable tables. Plastic table cloths are laid down on the tables and dinner mats are used like you would see at a restaurant. The local parishioners volunteer days to come to their church to serve the homeless. Food is prepared and served to the hungry. This church is a place of refuge for the homeless, the outcast, the hungry and the needy.

Above is the photo I took of the church. You can see some of the homeless sleeping on the floor and on the benches. On one of the walls there is a beautiful painting of Christ serving the five thousand with five loaves of bread and two fish.


Compare that to what is happening in Salt Lake City.



I have written a few blogposts about the growing problem of homelessness in downtown Salt Lake. The Road Home which houses over 1000 people is being shutdown. Three smaller locations are planned to be built in other areas of the city. These new facilities are planned to only accommodate 150 people each. The numbers don't add up, because without the Road Home, this will effectively reduce shelter beds by 500. One of the proposed sites is owned by the LDS Church. I posted about it here.
This week the Salt Lake Tribune published this article about the financials of the sell of this proposed site. Here is the news article. 

State to pay $4.5 million to buy Deseret Industries thrift store from Mormon church for homeless shelter
" Utah will fund the purchase of a downtown thrift store owned and operated by the Mormon church for $4.46 million following negotiations on the final of three future homeless shelters to be opened by July 2019.

The Salt Lake County Assessor’s Office values the property at $2.7 million – $1.4 million for the land and $1.3 million for the building."
Even though the SL County Assessor's office values the property at about half of what the LDS Church is selling it for, the property was apparently appraised at about the selling price.

My purpose for even pointing this out is.. why doesn't the LDS Church just donate this to the city to build a homeless shelter. I mean we donated a mansion names after Thomas S Monson to the University of Utah. It appears that we might even be making a profit off the sell of the land especially if it was valued on the tax appraisals  at almost half of the selling price.

Also, one more thing I want to point out:

Instead of helping the homeless find a place to sleep and eat, We are arresting them. It is called Operation Rio Grande. This past week alone police officers have arrested 423 people that are homeless.  Below are some photos from this article. The first photo shows the brand new mobile command center. It is large hi-tech moving vehicle used to coordinate the efforts of the law enforcement.   Now I understand that many of those on the streets have drug and alcohol addictions. Many have to resort to crime. I agree that arrests should be made for illegal activity and unlawful behavior. But homeless is not a crime.. and maybe it is more of a crime on our part for not helping them.


Here is the news article:
http://kutv.com/news/local/inside-the-heart-of-operation-rio-grande



Tuesday, August 22, 2017

417: THE GREAT AMERICAN ECLIPSE ON AUGUST 21, 2017


Standing in the middle of a wheat field in Eastern Idaho, just a few miles west of Salem, Idaho  my family witnessed the Great American Eclipse of 2017. We were invited by our close friends to camp out near the center line of the Path of Totality. Words can't really describe the experience. Unless you saw it, no one can really explain the event to you and give it justice. A total solar eclipse is not only meant to be seen, but needs to be experienced first hand. It is not just a visual spectacle, it is an experience you feel with your entire body. It is life changing.  My mouth dropped in awe.  Tears fell down my wife's cheek. My confused 5 year old daughter asked us, "When is it going to be morning again Dad?"

Within a 3 minute time span , one witnesses the bright blue sky of the midday change to a dark sky of night. Stars and planets appear, temperatures plummet as the sun and moon align perfectly changing day to night then back to day in minutes.

To sum it up best would be to quote D&C 88: 47: "Any man who hath seen any or the least of these  hath seen God moving in his majesty and power."
I testify that my family and I witnessed God moving in Their Majesty and Power yesterday at 11:33 AM on August 21, 2017.

Here are a few photos I took with my camera to document the event.

 Taken Just a few minutes before the complete total eclipse. 

Photo of the total eclipse that lasted for us for about 2 minute 18 seconds. While the moon completely covered the sun, we could watch this without any eye protection. This sign in heaven was meant to be seen with the natural eye without any protective eye gear.

Photo of the sun reappearing after the total eclipse with the moon. 

The moon and the sun continuing to move apart after appearing to be exactly the same size. 

This is still frame from the video I took with a wide angle lens while the eclipse was occuring. 



Sidenote:

For weeks I was trying to determine where I would go to view the eclipse. There were alot of factors to consider including the weather, traffic, accommodations, and who was going to come from my family. We finally decided on Saturday and we got ready to leave early Sunday morning. It was a beautiful drive up to Idaho Falls and we continued further North to be as close to the center of path of totality. That evening some clouds began to roll in creating a beautiful sunset but causing some concern and/or doubt that maybe it might be cloudy the next day. It seems like in every important event in our life, we have "clouds" of doubt roll in and cover our skies.

Photo taken of the sunset on August 20,,2017 on the eve of the Total Eclipse in Plano, Idaho.

However the next morning, just hours before the eclipse, I woke up early to beautiful clear skies. I went into a nearby wheat field to watch the sunrise.




Standing in the middle of a wheat field. I could see the location where NASA set up their operations for the eclipse. NASA They were located on top of the plateau that you can see in the distance.



Photo taken hours on top the water irrigation tower that is located in the center of wheat field.
This is the location where my family would return to watch the eclipse.  

In the distance it was possible to see the Grand Tetons in the horizon just before the sunrise. 


The event was not just observed by us, but it seems like all of creation anticipated the event.

Photo of a flocks of birds heading east towards the sun in the horizon.

(Not the best photo since it is kind of blurry, but it is a photo of a night owl flying low over the wheat.
It 
was taken in the wheat field where we watched the eclipse.

Not only have I never seen a total eclipse, I have never seen an owl fly in the wild.

Photo of a dove perched high up in blue spruce just prior to the eclipse. 
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Image for comment no 3 from Taylor:


Wednesday, August 16, 2017

416: LDS CHURCH SUPPORTS LGBTQ CONCERT EVENT





Today, on the front page of the Deseret News, the LDS Church owned paper, there is an article entitled: "LDS Church issues statement of support for LGBTQ concert event".  See above in highlighted yellow.

On  August 26, there will be a first-time music festival called LoveLoud, an event which is aimed at supporting LGBTQ youth. It will be hosted at the Utah Valley University campus where Elder Jeffrey R Holland's son is the University President.  This event now has a statement of support from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Here is the LDS statement:
“We applaud the LoveLoud Festival for LGBTQ Youth’s aim to bring people together to address teen safety and to express respect and love for all of God’s children. We join our voice with all who come together to foster a community of inclusion in which no one is mistreated because of who they are or what they believe."
“We share common beliefs, among them the pricelessness of our youth and the value of families. We earnestly hope this festival and other related efforts can build respectful communication, better understanding and civility as we all learn from each other.” 

Here is the full article online:NEWS ARTICLE


To the average member, the stances that the Church takes on these LGBTQ issues is be confusing....It is almost as if the Church is bi-polar. One the one hand the Church is supporting the LGBTQ youth, but on the other hand,  if you are a straight youth with just one LGBTQ parent, you CANNOT get baptized until you are an adult and are forced to renounce your parent.


Tuesday, August 1, 2017

415: OVERBLOWN, EXAGGERATED STORY GIVEN BY ELDER HOLLAND HAS NOW BEEN RECANTED

In his remarks during the 2017 Seminar for New Mission Presidents, Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles shared a missionary account, which was published by the Church News under the headline: “Elder Holland shares 'The Missionary Speech of All Time' at Seminar for New Mission Presidents.” The article was widely read and shared. It was also reprinted in the Deseret News.

Here is the excerpt from the published story:

Elder Holland closed by relating a story — being careful to protect the privacy and anonymity of the participants — of a young man from southern Idaho. One night the young man stormed out of the house and set off to join an infamous motorcycle gang. He succeeded in that resolve and for 20 years became immersed in a culture “of temptations yielded to and degradations explored,” never contacting his parents, who feared that he was dead.

Eventually ending up in Southern California, he one day was sitting on the porch of a rented home when he saw two LDS missionaries making their way up the street.

“With a rush of memory and guilt, regret and rage, he despised the very sight of them,” Elder Holland recounted. “But he was safe, because he kept all visitors at bay by employing two Doberman Pinschers who viciously charged the gate every moment that anyone came near.”

The dogs startled the missionaries as they passed by and continued on, “our man on the porch laughing at the lovely little drama he had just witnessed, wishing only that the gate hadn’t restrained his two dogs.”

Then, the two elders stopped, looked at each other, conversed a little, “likely said a silent prayer,” then turned around and approached the gate.

“The Dobermans on cue charged the gate again, hit it, snarling, frothing, and then stopped in their tracks,” Elder Holland said. “They looked at the missionaries, dropped their heads, ambled back to the front steps and lay down.”

The man on the porch was speechless as they missionaries opened the gate, walked up the path and greeted him.

“One of the elders said, ‘Are you from this part of California?’

“The man said, ‘No. If you want to know, I’m from Pocatello, Idaho.’

“There was a pause. ‘That’s interesting,’ the elder said. ‘Do you know the [such-and-such] family in Pocatello?’

“With a stunned look, our biker paused, and then, in very measured words, said, ‘Yeah, I know them. They are my parents.’

“ ‘Well, they’re my parents too,’ the missionary said. ‘God has sent me to invite you to come home.’ ”

The younger brother had been born after the older boy had left home. The elder brother did not even know of him.

“Mom and Dad have been praying for you every morning and night for 20 years,” the younger brother said. “They were not sure you were alive, but they knew if you were, that someday you would come back to us.”

The wayward son invited the two in, and they talked for the rest of the day and some of the night. He did return home, returned to Church activity and, in March 2015, was married and sealed in the Boise Idaho Temple.

Commenting on the account, Elder Holland said, “This is a story of the role of Almighty God, the Savior of the World, and the Holy Ghost involved in the work of the ministry to which we’ve been called.

1. “The Holy Ghost prompted those parents to keep praying, to keep believing, to keep trusting. …

2. The Holy Ghost inspired that rebellious boy to come to himself like the prodigal he was and to head for California. …

3. The Holy Ghost influenced that younger son to serve a mission and be willing to accept a call to Southern California. …

4. The Holy Ghost inspired one of my brethren in the Twelve, who was on the assignment desk that Friday, to trust his impression and assign that young man for service not a great distance from his native-born state.

5. The Holy Ghost inspired that mission president to assign that young missionary to that district and that member unit.

6. The Holy Ghost led those missionaries to that street, that day, that hour, with big brother sitting on the porch waiting, and, with Doberman Pinschers notwithstanding,

7. the Holy Ghost prompted those two elders to stop, talk and in spite of their fear, to go back and present their message. …

8. “And, through the elders, the Holy Ghost taught repentance and brought true conversion to one coming back into the fold.”

Elder Holland said the young elder, without realizing it, gave the missionary speech of all time, when he said to his brother, “God has sent me here to invite you to come home.”

“We are sent by God to invite His children home,” Elder Holland concluded.

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This story was retold word for word in our Sacrament last week at a Missionary Farewell. My wife turned to me after hearing the story and said.. "as if that really happened that way". She has great discernment and apparently not everyone can recognize truth from error when they hear it.

However, in the end, truth will always prevail..

On July 31, Elder Holland released the following statement regarding the account:

"A few weeks ago when speaking to new mission presidents at the Missionary Training Center, I shared a story about two brothers, just as I heard it from individuals who knew the family and had heard it recounted by a family member. Within a few days, my office was contacted by the family, who expressed concern that some elements of that account were not accurate due to embellishing by a family member.“
As a courtesy to me the family contacted my office, wanting me to be aware of the inaccurate parts of the story and offering their help in avoiding any perpetuation of those elements in the account I heard. I am deeply touched by their humility and courage in doing so, and as an equal courtesy to them, I am withdrawing the story completely and request that it not be shared further."
Elder Holland revised the story stated that the facts were:
  • The older brother did indeed leave his home and his family and for many years pursued the lifestyle I described in my talk. 
  • During these years his parents lovingly tried to maintain contact, prayed faithfully for him and even sent local leaders to seek after him. 
  • However, at the time his younger brother was called to serve as a missionary, the older brother had already returned to Idaho. 
  • With the help of missionaries there, he started the difficult and courageous process of changing his life. 
  • In time, he would return to full activity and be sealed in the temple, and he would also have a son who would serve a mission.

So... no Doberman pinchers, No younger brother serving a mission who found his wayward brother. No emotional dialogue that took place.where the younger brother said "They’re my parents too,God has sent me to invite you to come home.’

I mean how do you get those details included in a story?

Personally, after reading this press release from the Church, I had a déjà vu moment since I grew up listening to Elder Paul H Dunn talks.