March 30, 2013
[Update Day 1], [Update Day 2], [Update Day 3], [Update Day 4], [Update Day 5], [Update Day 6]
8 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
11 Alegraos en el SEÑOR y rogocijaos, justos;
dad voces de júbilo, todos los rectos de corazón.
– Salmos 32:8-11
Madrid, March 30, 2013 — john 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 »
March 1, 2013
O be wise, what can I say more?
– Jacob 6:12
A Mormon boy from an affluent neighborhood in Utah, barely 18 years old, will leave a few days after graduating from high school for the crushing poverty, suffering, and misery of Sierra Leone. This isn’t the plot of an off-color Broadway musical. It’s going to happen in a couple of months to a real person. He’s not going to experience mere culture shock; it will be an entirely different world, a different universe. Nothing in the boy’s lived experience up until this point is going to have prepared him for even the smallest percentage of what he is going to observe landing there. I hope and pray he survives!
There isn’t much difference between an 18 year old boy and a 19 year old boy — both are teenagers still, both usually as green as can be. On paper it’s a wash. Read the rest of this entry »
May 29, 2012
Part IV, Part III, Part II 1/2, Part II, Part ISt. 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 »
January 16, 2012
As I made my way through the crowded local Costco recently, I stepped back a moment and appreciated the diversity surrounding me. Although approximately 92% of the population in the UK is white, about 45% of the remaining 8% of the UK population that are ethnic minorities live in London. And we’ve enjoyed having a high concentration of this 45% in and around the area of London where I currently reside. We have become accustomed to seeing people in their religiously significant daily dress in all circumstances, from the morning school run, to regular visits to the supermarket, to going to movies in the cinema and just about everywhere else. (In fact, it is not unusual for us to see such dress in our LDS ward on Sunday as investigators from all of these ethnic and religious backgrounds politely keep their commitment to the missionaries working in the area to visit us and see what the Church is all about.)
Read the rest of this entry »
October 14, 2011
I am a recent convert to “Mormonism” myself. Not too many years ago you could find me vigorously arguing on Mormon-themed blogs about the importance of avoiding the word “Mormon” as a nickname for members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. At the time, it felt like a concession to detractors of our faith to self-identify by the nickname they derisively gave to us in the nineteenth century. Ironically, however, it was precisely our nineteenth-century ancestors in the faith who had made peace with the descriptor and good-naturedly co-opted it to describe themselves, leaving us with the lasting nickname. Read the rest of this entry »
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?
* 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
November 15, 2010
The tradition in our ward and in some other wards in the UK is to have a Remembrance Sunday service on the second Sunday in November — the Sunday closest to November 11, or Armistice Day. In doing so, we essentially join with the rest of society in this act of remembering veterans as the rest of the Christian churches in the country uniformly dedicate a service on this day to the memory of those who died serving in past wars and to those currently serving. Part of this tradition in our ward is to move away from the assigned congregational talks that we usually have on a Sunday and stick to a readings-based program planned out in advance to capture the Spirit of the day and convey the purpose of the meeting. Read the rest of this entry »