A Stranger, A Pilgrim: Liveblogging El Camino

March 30, 2013

[Update Day 1], [Update Day 2], [Update Day 3], [Update Day 4], [Update Day 5], [Update Day 6]

scallop shell symbol8 Yo te haré saber y te enseñaré el camino en que debes andar;
te aconsejaré con mis ojos puestos en ti.

9 No seas como el caballo o como el mulo, que no tienen entendimiento;
cuyos arreos incluyen brida y freno para sujetarlos,
porque si no, no se acercan a ti

10 Muchos son los dolores del impío,
pero al que confía en el SEÑOR, la misericordia lo
rodeará.

11 Alegraos en el SEÑOR y rogocijaos, justos;
dad voces de júbilo, todos los rectos de corazón.

- Salmos 32:8-11

Madrid, March 30, 2013john f.: A motley crew of Mormons walking The Way of St. James might seem strangers on the Camino indeed. This will not be the first time that Jordan and I have raised eyebrows as Mormons in a culturally non-Mormon setting. Nearly fifteen years ago we studied Yiddish together in Vilnius — many of our fellow students young and old, I recall, found it very amusing that a couple of Mormon brothers were among them. Read the rest of this entry »


Our Dead V: Memorial Day at St. Paul’s Cathedral

May 29, 2012

Part IV, Part III, Part II 1/2, Part II, Part I

St. Paul’s Cathedral, London, England (source: http://www.stpauls.co.uk/Cathedral-History)

St. Paul’s Cathedral is one of my favorite buildings in the world. I love spending time under its splendid, cavernous dome whenever possible, whether attending a service, listening to an organ or choral concert, or just dropping in sightseeing with out-of-town visitors who are staying with us. I spent time there last month when my parents visited and then again yesterday with my brother Adam and his wife Eve and their children. It turned out to be a moving way to commemorate Memorial Day.

In past years we have been blessed to use Memorial Day as an occasion to visit the resting places or birthplaces of ancestors here in the UK and in the United States. Little did we know that our sightseeing visit to St. Paul’s Cathedral on this Memorial Day would become an opportunity to reflect on the life and death of my grandmother’s brother Glenn Brady who was an American airman stationed in the UK to fly sorties over Europe as a crew member of a B-17 “Flying Fortress” during World War II. Read the rest of this entry »


Christmas Testimony

December 13, 2010

Now that President Uchtdorf has rehabilitated pride in one’s children and family, I feel confident in relating my immense gratitude for my children and how proud I am of how they are developing in the Gospel. My nine year old daughter shared the following testimony in Fast and Testimony Meeting last week:

I would like to share my testimony with you. In primary today we read a poem called The Christmas Guest. In this poem a man dreamed that the Savior was going to visit him on Christmas Day. He was so excited that he prepared everything to be perfect for his guest. But as he waited he saw an old beggar at his door with torn shoes and clothes. He gave him a pair of shoes and a better coat and sent him on his way, wondering what was taking his guest so long. Next an old woman came to his door bent over under a heavy pile of sticks. She asked him for a place to rest and he allowed her to rest in his house and gave her something to eat. But he kept wondering where his guest was. Next a lost child came to his door and he knew he had to help her find her family. So he took her home to her house. When he came home Christmas was over and the man sadly went to his room and prayed to ask God why the Lord had not come. But when he was praying the Spirit told him that the Lord had kept his promise and that when he had helped those three people in need, he had been helping the Lord.

What really struck me about this poem was that the Lord was everyone so when we help everyone we are helping the Lord. And I bear that testimony to you in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

We have neither encouraged nor discouraged the kids to go up to bear their testimony during Fast and Testimony Meeting but like we did when we were kids, they often choose to do so on their own, unprompted. When they do, however, they have never born the standard children’s testimony one frequently hears in Church*. This is different from when as kids we would go up and bear testimonies because I am pretty sure we always recited the standard testimony and sat back down.

I am grateful for my daughters’ thoughtful testimonies. (I’ve also seen this in Ronan’s then nine-year old son who bore his testimony at a Testimony Meeting that we held in my home at the instructions of our Stake Presidency one Sunday in January when the whole region was completely shut down with heavy snow. — These aren’t the rote testimonies that we used to bear as children.)

Earlier this year, my second daughter, six years old at the time, bore her testimony in Fast and Testimony Meeting and simply said “I am grateful to be a Christian and for the sacrifice of the Lord for me.” and sat down. These kids are miles ahead of where I was at their age. What better way to learn about the pure truths of the Gospel than from the mouths of our own children?

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* i know the church is true i love my family i know the book of mormon is true i know president [x] [when we were bearing this standard kids' testimony it was President Kimball and then President Benson] is a prophet in the name of jesus christ amen


A Personal Update

March 3, 2010

I just started reading my blog and realized that I have not contributed a post for two years!! That went by fast! Kudos to John for (kind of) holding down the fort for that time with semi-regular postings.

So, what have I been doing? Read the rest of this entry »


Our Dead IV

July 13, 2009

Part III, Part II ½, Part II, Part I.

Handgrip Oulton CemetaryMy great-great-great grandfather Alfred Parker Balls lived the early part of his life in a Dickensian nightmare. We celebrated Memorial Day this year in his old haunts in the Lowestoft area, England’s most easterly point, where he experienced a combination of Great Expectations, Hard Times, and Bleak House during his childhood. Read the rest of this entry »


Our Dead III

June 26, 2008

As in the past three years, we took the opportunity this year to celebrate Memorial Day (albeit a week late due to workload at the office on the actual holiday) by visiting the resting place of our dead. I described our previous excursions in the following posts: Our Dead, Our Dead II, and Convert Ancestor. Read the rest of this entry »


Family Search — On the Road, a Public Genealogy Outreach Effort

February 26, 2008

Has anyone else had exposure to or experience with the Church’s new mobile Family Search unit that travels around providing people in the communities where our chapels are found with the opportunity to do basic family history research? Read the rest of this entry »


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