Monthly Archives: February 2009

Official Church YouTube channels

Recently, the LDS Media Talk web site mentioned that the Church currently has 3 official YouTube channels. I only knew about two of them.

Mormon Messages

An official channel from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints featuring videos from the New Era, a magazine for Mormon teens.

LDS Public Affairs

Videos from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

Mormon New Era Messages

Each week, Mormon Messages provides short video segments about the Church’s basic beliefs, as well as inspiring stories and messages of hope.

I’ve added these to the Official web sites of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints page.

Put faces to the numbers

I may have mentioned before that I go for a long walk each day during my lunch hour. I have a few podcasts I listen to during the week as I walk (Wait Wait… Don’t Tell Me!, Prime Time Sports, 60 Minutes, and occasionally some others). A couple of weeks ago there was a segment on 60 Minutes about Flight 1549, Captain Chesley Burnett “Sully” Sullenberger III, and his crew. It was quite a moving piece, but one part of it particularly stuck out. When talking about how everyone survived, Captain Sullenberger said this:

You know, 155 is a number, but when you can put faces to it and not just 155 faces but the other faces, the wives, the daughters, the sons, the fathers, the mothers, the brothers, it gets to be a pretty big number pretty quickly.
60 Minutes podcast. Flight 1549: An Emotional Reunion [online]. [Accessed 20 February 2009]. 2009. Available from World Wide Web: [Podcast]

In the Church, as in essentially all other organizations, the only way to measure progress is with numbers. Sometimes we focus on this number, or that number, but it still comes down to a number. What was our sacrament meeting attendance? How many baptisms have we had this year? What was our home teaching percentage? We need to often remind ourselves that those numbers do, indeed, represent people. Captain Sully and his crew expertly maneuvered the plane and got the passengers out, and 155 people were saved. But the impact of what they did is far greater than that. It has affected hundreds of people directly, and probably thousands, maybe even millions of people, more. The same goes for our service in the Church. Whether in a calling, or as a home and visiting teacher, we may be only working with a certain person, or a small group of people, but the effects of our work can affect dozens more and can last for generations. It is a humbling, but inspiring thought!

Baptisms for the Dead

I know there has been some discussion on various Mormon blogs recently about baptisms for the dead, and how other church’s perceive the practice. I’m not interested in debating that right now, but I figured I’d just share a little about our most recent trip.

My ward is about 120km away from the Toronto Ontario Temple. We try to take the youth there 4 times a year. Last Thursday night was our first trip of 2009. Overall we had 43 people from the ward there that night (I think we had at least two other people there earlier in the day).

  • 16 youth (12 YM, 4 YW)
  • 1 YSA
  • 8 men on “team” (2 bishopric, 2 YM leaders, 1 EQ presidency, 1 ward clerk, 1 WML, 1 seminary teacher)
  • 3 YW leaders
  • 5 members of the ward serving/working
  • 10 other ward members doing some form of temple work

All of the baptisms that were done were family file. The couple “running” the baptistry that night said it was the first time during their time of service (I’m not sure how long that has been) that every baptism was family file. Apparently there were over 250 baptisms and confirmations done.

After going to the temple, the tradition used to be that we’d all end up going to some fast food joint (usually McDonald’s) and get something to eat. A couple of years ago one of my counselors suggested that we use the cafeteria at the temple and bring our own “treats”, so that we can stay together and still feel the spirit of the temple. It has worked out great. It obviously is less expensive than having 20 extra value meals purchased by the members. The ward foots the bill for the food now which is always less than $50 for all of us. The treats are healthier. We usually get away earlier than we would if we had to pack up, drive to a restaurant, and pack up and leave again. But like I said, the best part is we are still in the temple.

The youth love going to the temple. It’s great to see. Hopefully we keep having positive experiences with them so they are strengthened, and have that desire to return often.

The cost of tracing your family tree…

Here is a cute Wizard of Id cartoon/comic from Friday, February 20, 2009 about the cost of tracing your family tree:

274476_full

Interestingly enough, on Saturday, February 21, 2009 there was a similar theme for The Other Coast:

273432zoom

New CDOL (Church Directory of Organizations and Leaders) web site

I already had a link on the Official web sites of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints page for the Church Directory of Organizations and Leaders web site. At one point, the Church published a thick book containing the contact information for every unit and leader in the Church. I’m not sure how often this was updated, but I think it was yearly. Then they started to send out a CD with this information on it. I think it was sent out quarterly. Now, all of this information is online. There used to be a section of the LDSChurch.org domain where this information was hosted. The Church has released a new version of CDOL at http://CDOL.LDS.org/. It now uses an LDS Account for credentials, and is a much prettier version (Web 2.0 feel).

Here is the old version:

20090218_old_cdol

Here is the new version:

20090218_new_cdol

I’ve updated the Official web sites of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints page with this new site. Since both sites are currently active, I have included them both. I will remove the old link when it no longer works.

“Red Hat board member trades one mission for another”

CNET News has a nice article about a board member from Red Hat that is leaving the company to serve as a mission president in Japan:

Steve Albrecht, a longstanding Red Hat board member, has resigned from Red Hat’s board effective June 30, 2009. The reason? Albrecht, originally tapped six years ago by Red Hat chairman Matthew Szulik, will serve as a mission president in Japan for the Mormon Church (Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints), starting in early July.

It’s a new mission for Albrecht, but will require many of the same attributes that made him a successful board member for Red Hat.

It would appear that the author of the story is also a member (or at least his father is). The official Red Hat release is here.

We often talk about the great sacrifice it is for young men and women to go on a mission for a year and a half or two years. It surely is. But it is also an impressive sacrifice that mission presidents and their family (sometimes just their wife, sometimes with their children as well) have to give up their home and employment for 3 years. Some of these families are certainly financially able to do this (a few years ago, the president of the Canada Toronto West Mission was Alan Ashton, the founder of WordPerfect); others struggle. Whether proselyting missionaries, mission presidents and their family, or service missionaries, the blessings of service more than make up for the time away.

Attending Church away from “home”

I haven’t posted for a week and a half. My family went on a vacation down to Orlando. My in-laws rented a house there for a month, and we visited for 8 days. It was great. The weather was gorgeous (blue sky and 27°C/80°F every day).

We were there for one Sunday, and went to Sacrament Meeting at the Kissimmee Ward. The first thing that caught our attention was that it was our building. By that, I mean that the building was obviously built around the same time in the 50s and is the same basic building plan. I’m sure back when it was built the meetinghouse was in the middle of nowhere. Now it sits in the middle of a plaza parking lot along a major roadway.

It happened to be their ward conference that week. There were loads of people there and 8 YM (we only use 5 in our ward) passed the sacrament (I don’t know if this is normal, or if they had more because of ward conference). There were 2 speakers; a counselor in the stake presidency and the stake president. The counselor spoke about the importance of families. The stake president spoke about Proposition 8 (briefly), families, and then concluded his talk with a side note about how if you have a temple recommend and you don’t pay your tithing, you won’t have a temple recommend any more (perhaps there is a problem in Kissimmee, I don’t know).

On the one hand, attending Church in a different ward, was almost like attending Church back home (especially when the building looked the same). The hymns are the same, the way the prayers are offered are the same, etc. On the other hand, it still didn’t feel like home. The members were welcoming, but I missed my friends, associates, and others I serve with back in my home ward. There’s no place like home!

Church “Disabilities Resources” web site (sub-domain)

I first heard about this on the LDS Tech web site in a posting called Disability Resources Web Site

Apparently the Church has a sub-domain of the main LDS.org site that focuses on disabilities. It has information about a variety of disabilities, and focuses on how to help people with disabilities and their families. It also has suggestions for leaders and teachers.

This Web section on disabilities has been created to offer support, comfort, and an increased level of acceptance toward those with disabilities.

Those individuals who live with a disability, their caregivers, as well as leaders, teachers, and members may find within this site additional understanding of specific disabilities and some of the difficulties faced by those involved.

Normally these sub-domains redirect to the regular LDS.org site. In this case, it seems like many of the pages actually stay on the disabilities sub-domain.

I’ve updated the Official web sites of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints page with this information.

Brother Russ Ballard in the Instructor

1970_july_instructor_cover

As I’ve mentioned before, I recently borrowed some old issues of the Instructor magazine (see The Busy George Romneys – Juvenile Instructor May 1958 and April 1957 Juvenile Instructor – Draw It With Chalk… note: I erroneously called the magazine Juvenile Instructor). The July 1970 issue of the magazine had an article by some guy named Russ Ballard:

1970_july_instructor_russ_ballard_title

Russ Ballard is president of the Family Achievement Institute and the organizer of several business in Salt Lake City, Utah, where he and his wife, Barbara Bowen, make their home. The couple have seven children and are members of the Monument park (Utah) Stake. Brother Ballard completed a mission to Great Britain in 1950, has served as a high councilor and twice as a bishop. He currently teaches Sunday School in the Monument Park 13th Ward.

Yes, that is Elder M. Russell Ballard, of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. I’m not exactly sure why, but I love stuff like this. I loved hearing Presidents Hinckley, Monson and Faust, referring to themselves or each other as Gordon, Tommy, and Jim (I wonder if Dieter has an short-form). We show so much respect and reverence for their positions, that sometimes we forget these are men, who at one point lived just like me. I actually find it more faith-promoting to think of these men as regular men who have overcome the average challenges of life to become who they are, rather than as these perfected beings that we seem to associate with Prophets, Seers and Revelators. I wonder what type of a person Russ was… Was he a good Sunday School teacher? Did his members like him when he was a bishop? Was there any sign in 1970 that 15 years later he’d be an Apostle?

1970_july_instructor_article

Finding Mormon-themed desktop wallpaper

This isn’t exactly a Mormon-related post, but it’s a good tip that might help you as you search for desktop wallpaper, clipart, icons, and more. The example I use is specifically Church-related.

I always tease my wife if she’s typing something up. She spends 5 minutes doing the typing and an hour on Google Images looking for good clipart to go with what she is typing. I’m sure many of you are the same. I recently heard about a “hidden” feature of Google Images that might help. It let’s you search for specific sizes of images. For a while now there has been a drop down list where you could choose between small, medium, large, and extra large. Well, along with your search term, if you put in imagesize:1024×768 (or whatever size you want, you’ll only see results of that size. This is particularly useful for finding desktop wallpaper.

For instance, doing a search for…

imagesize:1024×768 mormon temple

…brings up hundreds of pictures of temples that are that size.

google_image_search_imagesize_example

Along with 1024×758, other common desktop wallpaper image sizes are 1680×1050 (widescreen), 1440×900 (laptop widescreen), 1280×1024, and 800×600. Also, icons are generally 32×32 or 64×64. Unfortunately, clipart could be any size, but you might try a small/medium size of 400×400 or 400×300 and see what you get. Of course, just searching for mormon clipart does bring up a fair number of results on its own.