Tuesday, May 29, 2012

A work in progress

I am a work in progress. Ask my wife, my children or anyone who knows me. I am not where I want to be, nor am I yet where I ought to be.

A friend of mine says it this way: “God’s not done with me, yet.”

I spent a fair amount of the long weekend working in my flower beds. This is an activity I really enjoy. It reminds me of weeding the flower bed in front of my childhood home with my mother. (I’m guessing I didn’t necessarily enjoy that so much, though I think I enjoyed it because we did it together.)

I planted impatiens, begonias, marigolds and a few daisies. I adjusted sprinkler heads and pulled some weeds. No matter how much I do, there’s always more to be done. There are the same beds I weeded just a few weeks ago before spreading nine yards of bark on them. And I’ll be weeding them again before I know it.

The time between planting little flowers from the flats until they grow up to something you can see even if you aren’t looking for it from the street is bittersweet for me. Part of me wants instant flowers (but for that I have to buy pots, not flats, and I buy too many flowers to afford that). And part of me enjoys watching the flowers take root and grow into themselves.

It’s that second part that reminds me that I am also still growing into what I can be, what I ought to be.

I don’t mean that in a “oh, wo is me because I’m not like so-and-so” sort of way. I mean instead that I understand I’m supposed – one day – to be perfect, and I’m not there yet. I also understand I’m on the path, and that I am moving forward one step at a time. And I have learned (after over 50 years) to recognize that I’m farther down the path now than I used to be.

I used to joke when I was a bishop that I knew I was not perfect. Anyone who thought I was should just ask my kids. They have, I told people, a list. I don’t know if they really had a list, but I sure did. And for a long time, I’d beat myself with that list without making much progress.

Regular readers will know that I have found help moving down the path by working the 12 steps of recovery. There are lots of versions of the steps which began in Alcoholics Anonymous, including the church’s own Addiction Recovery Program. These twelve steps are, as my wife once observed, a structured way to live the gospel and make the atonement real in our lives. The twelve steps are a way to recovery and peace, by they are not the only way.

I found when I started believing that the blessings of the atonement were really available for me, that my human weakness (which is different from my weaknesses) is part of how I was created (how we all were created, according to King Benjamin), and that, as President Packer often teaches, it’s never too late to repent, I could recognize that I was on the path and find peace, even though I wasn’t done.

So as I wait for my annuals to grow and mature, I will look for similar development in myself and in those around me. And, despite my desire to be further along than I am, I will feel peace.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Silence is golden!

Don’t get me wrong. Like many folks who have over active control tendencies, I am not thrilled by silence when I teach. But sometimes, silence in a lesson or in a meeting is great.

I remember my home ward in Pittsburgh. There were fast Sundays where it was common for there to be gaps between the testimonies. I don’t know how many people lived in the ward, but in our sacrament meetings, we probably had about 150 or so.

During the summer months when BYU kids were home, it was not uncommon for one of them to get up and start a testimony with words like, “I didn’t want this time to go to waste, so…”
When I was a bishop, I discussed more than once in our ward council that I thought it was a good thing to have moments of quiet in a testimony meeting. Part of the value of testimony meeting is allowing members to ponder about their own spiritual experiences, their own testimonies. If there is a steady stream of magical genealogy stories and five-year old memorized catch-phrases, there’s less opportunity for meditation.

(Please don’t misconstrue what I’ve said: I’m also happy to hear how someone’s faith was bolstered while working on family history, and I think there’s value in hearing from a child once in a while – though truth be told, I’m not particularly edified by hearing the same child every month. Maybe the child is edified by sharing her testimony each month, though, so live and let live…)

Similarly in a teaching situation, if I ask a thought provoking question, it makes sense that I’m going to wait for people to think a little before responding. And as a class participant, it’s ok to sit on my hands and not be the first to answer one of those questions. First, the silence allows thoughts to collect. And second, not being the first to speak allows me to hear things differently.

I learned this lesson well in the ward council. I had one bishop who was particularly good at listening to everyone else in the room before he gave his opinion on something. He (or someone else) would ask a question, he’d allow people some time to collect their thoughts, and then he’d listen to whoever responded. Often he would then query the other council members by name, just to be sure he’d given everyone the chance to respond. And then, after everyone else had a chance to speak, he’d weigh in.

The effect was that over time, people were much more willing to speak in ward council. There was much less temptation to hear the bishop’s idea and agree with it just because he said it. Sometimes when he spoke, he agreed with what others had said, and sometimes he asked further questions that had occurred to him.

I was so impressed by this that when I was a bishop, and I was asked to do some training on ward councils in a stake meeting, I said the bishop’s role on the ward council was first to be quiet!

Of course the value of silence enters our personal devotion, as well. Just as the bishop needs to stop talking long enough to hear the counsel his counselors and others give him, so we need to be quiet long enough to allow the spirit to speak to us when we pray and ponder.

For me that may mean reading the scriptures without a preconceived notion about the reading material to see what is “new” and “fresh” in this reading. (Reading an unmarked set of scriptures helps me here, as I’m finding out using my Kindle Fire scriptures this year.) It may also mean staying “connected” at the end of my prayer long enough to listen for promptings (I confess, this is really hard for this natural man to do). After all, it’s hard to submit to our Father in Heaven as a child submits to his earthly father, if we never hear what our Father wants us to do.

I have heard Elder Packer teach that the prelude can be one of the most spiritual times in sacrament meeting. I think that’s true if the prelude is a period of quiet contemplation (but not so much if it’s the time to set up our home teaching appointments or talk about the weekend’s BYU scores). Since my lovely wife is one of our ward’s organists, I particularly enjoy listening to prelude music. And I enjoy the opportunity for a little silence to gather my thoughts, to center myself on what is about to happen in the meeting, and to ponder the significance of the sacrament ordinance.

So if you see me sitting quietly on the bench in the chapel before a meeting, please just let me sit. Thanks. And shhh.

Monday, May 21, 2012

The Call

As we expected, that large white envelope turned up in our mailbox last Friday. My daughter received her mission call. She was not home when it arrived; our high-school-aged son called her with the news it had arrived. It lay unopened for a number of hours until she finally got home from work. She dialed up her sister who lives in Pennsylvania and then we all sat around the family room together as she opened it.

She read it out loud.

First surprise: a domestic city two states away. Not going to some far-off exotic location. In fact, she and her mother and sister are going to the same city for the weekend this week (a trip planned weeks ago).

Second surprise: she reports to the MTC in about five weeks. Not much time to get ready, nor to worry about changing her mind, nor to do much of anything but focus on the task at hand. Of course, she had just started a new job the day before the call arrived, thinking she might work the whole summer. Oh well.

Third surprise (buried in the last sentence of that first paragraph): she’ll be speaking Mandarin Chinese. She speaks some Mandarin already as she took two years in high school in Taiwan, and then took a couple of semesters at BYU. She worries she does not know any “church” Mandarin. We assure her the MTC will help her with that.

She commits us all to a Facebook blackout until she’s had a chance to call a few friends personally, and in the wee hours of the morning she finally posts about her call, and we are free to discuss it with friends and family by the time we get up. Over the next few days there are calls to extended family, congratulations to her (and, oddly, to her parents!), and even an email from her mother’s aunt who served with her husband in the same mission a few years ago; she provides some of the most interesting and helpful tidbits about what it will be like for our daughter

Our daughter is pleasantly surprised at the positive response from her non-LDS friends on Facebook, folks she knew in high school who also seem genuinely supportive and impressed that she is going to serve.

Last night we sat around the kitchen table working on the master list of Things To Be Done before she leaves – from contacting the missionary travel department to shopping to sorting out luggage to setting a date for her first visit to the temple (Interview #1 completed yesterday afternoon). And it sinks in to me: she’s really going.

One of our older sons is visiting from the Pacific Northwest. He congratulates us that finally one of our children is serving. He knows that this is important to us – and to our daughter -- and he seems pleased that our daughter is comfortable and happy to be doing something he did not feel he could do. I appreciate his respect for us and our feelings just as I honor his choice to follow his own path.

I reflect on my own call. I opened it at the mailbox on the summer afternoon it arrived as my girlfriend (now my wife) stood beside me. I skimmed the letter so quickly that I had to read it two or three times before I finally saw where I was going. And I only had three weeks to report to the LTM. No time for second thoughts for me, either. I remember my excitement, my confidence that everything would be ok. I was too young and too inexperienced to be nervous.

My daughter is older than I was then. I think she’s more mature than I was. And I think she knows enough to be a little nervous. But she’s pretty excited, too. And so am I.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

The Dark Side of the Moon

Teenagers are remarkable creatures. During these developmental years, they double in size, physically mature, lose all sense of reason (and then begin to regain it), question everything, think they know everything, and believe themselves to be alternately all-knowing and totally inept. Most adults I know would not choose those teen years as the best time of their lives. Many have said they would never wish return to that time in their lives.

I observed in myself (after the fact, of course) and my sons a tendency to go to the dark side of the moon during some of the teen years. You remember when the Apollo space capsules went around the moon there was that period of radio silence as the moon was between them and the earth. I’ve watched each of my teenage boys go through that period of radio silence in their lives. (My daughters have flirted with a similar condition, but not nearly in the same way as my boys.)

While they are on the dark side of the moon, teenage boys seem to forget that they have parents or siblings or responsibility or consequences for their actions. Some find themselves making terrible and long-lasting mistakes during this period that have long-reaching consequences. Others are just dumb and insensitive. I figured in my own case I was really lucky that I wasn’t good friends with anyone who drank or did drugs (that I knew about anyway – or maybe I was just too clueless to know) during that phase of my life, so I avoided those snares. But I had plenty of ways to be stupid nonetheless.

As a parent I’ve thought a lot about how to get through to a kid who is on the dark side of the moon. The fact is, if he’s really on the dark side of the moon and out of radio contact, you just can’t get through to him. And that’s frightening as a parent.

What I came to realize instead is that as a parent I need to do everything I can before my kid enters radio silence to get as much of me into his head as I can. A friend of mine talked about filling our kids’ wells, and she suggests that parents need to fill their teenagers’ wells with the parents’ goodness so that as the teens encounter the evil that is in the world, the good in their wells can counterbalance it. (Her well-filling lesson was very specific: fill the well with good things, positive encouragement, love and comfort, not nagging or lecturing or correcting.)

I think my folks did that with me. I can’t count the number of times I thought of doing something incredibly stupid as a kid and then having an image of my mom come to mind, and imagine myself trying to explain myself. That image of my mom and the fear of having to explain myself kept me out of a lot of trouble. (Not all trouble, of course. I was still stupid and I made plenty of mistakes.)

Something else my kids have taught me, and I think it’s supported in gospel teaching, is that each of our kids comes as an individual. In some families, all the kids look alike (my siblings and I are that way, for instance – everyone can tell instantly upon seeing us that we’re related), but that doesn’t mean they think alike. My kids don’t look a lot like each other (well, some do, but we’re not a cookie cutter family like mine was), and they don’t really think like each other, either. They all grew up in the same home, but each one has a different approach to life, to the gospel, to problems and to me as a parent. As a result, I’ve had to try to figure out how to reach each one in a language he or she can understand. Now that Number Six and Number Seven are the only ones still at home, I’m getting better at it. (Thanks for the lessons, Older Kids!)

The times my boys have been on the dark side of the moon have been the white-knuckle periods of my parenting. For a dad who loves to have predictable outcomes, it’s been particularly tough to know that they are out there making their own choices and there’s not a thing I can do about it. (Well, it’s not completely true I can do nothing, of course. I can pray as Alma the Elder did for his son, and I can create consequences where necessary. But I cannot make choices for them, and I cannot force them to choose what I want them to.)

I reflect on my Father in Heaven and how white his knuckles must be. Of course, he has the advantage of knowing how things will turn out in the end, but I imagine he’s shaken his head at me and wondered if I’ll ever come around from the dark side of the moon. Even at age 50-something I know I still go into periods of radio-silence with him, and I know that’s my doing and not his.

I’m interested in hearing your thoughts about how to communicate when your kids are on the dark side of the moon, or how to prepare them for that period. I’ll share some specific things I’ve learned in subsequent posts over the next little while.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Sacred music

My lovely wife and I had the opportunity to hear the Apollo Chorus in Chicago perform Rachmaninoff’s Sacred Vespers over the weekend. The Apollo Chorus bills itself as the oldest volunteer choral society in the United States. (It was founded in 1872, 25 years after the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, but Utah did not become a state until 1892; I do not know if that is the technicality that allows the Apollo Chorus to claim to be oldest or if it's organzing as a choral society or some other reason.)

As I sat in the sanctuary of the Fourth Presbyterian Church on Chestnut Street in downtown Chicago listening to liturgical music of the Russian Orthodox Church, I contemplated the role of music in my own worship. Does music bring the spirit? Does the spirit inspire the music? Or is my response to the remarkable artistry in Rachmaninoff and Brahms and Bach and others simply emotional? (Or technical?)

I thought about this again as we played yesterday evening the CD my wife received for Mothers Day, the Mormon Tabernacle Choir’s Glory. The CD features traditional religious music such as Beethoven’s "Ode to Joy," but also more modern fare from Leonard Bernstein and John Williams.

I was taken back in my memory to sitting in our living room in Hiroshima on Sunday evenings years ago, listening to Kiri Te Kanawa sing Gounod’s “O Divine Redeemer.” For many Sundays in a row, I’d recreate the same scene: The kids were in bed, the room was dark, and Hiroshima’s city lights danced on the windows that covered two walls of the room. Was it in this song I began to understand the atonement? “I pray thee grant me pardon, and remember not; remember not my sins.”

When I was on my mission in Germany, one of my sisters wrote to me from time to time with quotations from German composers who wrote of their own religious devotion and religious experiences in writing their music. It’s clear to me that at some level, these artists seem to be more than just excellent technicians of their craft; at least I hope that it true.

Rachmaninoff, when he wrote his “Sacred Vespers” (also titled “All Night Vigil”, because the 1 hour and 15 minute set of music is part of a larger religious service designed to include Vespers (night prayers) and matins (morning prayers)), did not have a close relationship with the church, but the religious text and chant origins of the music certainly suggest his religious feeling.

The music of this work, like so many other religious works, is for me as mysterious as the subject matter. In some movements, the chant restricts the melody to what my sister-in-law calls compact melodies, and in others, Rachmaninoff recreates the pealing of bells in the voices of the choir.

Excellent music well performed is a wonderful gift to those who hear, including, I believe, God.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Learning our history

I’ve enjoyed a discussion in the comments of a recent post over at BCC. The post itself was about teaching the methods Joseph used when translating the Book of Mormon, and the subsequent discussion has touched on how we Mormons learn about our own history. There seem to be two broad points of view that have emerged in the discussion (which I will now simplify in such a way that proponents of either might not recognize them anymore…):

1. I learned my church history from Sunday School and seminary classes and learned only the very basic and most sterile view of the restoration and events surrounding it.

2. Somehow I learned not only the fundamental founding stories of the restoration but also the complexity of our history. This knowledge may have come from Sunday School and seminary lessons or from my parents or from my own exploration or perhaps from further study I’ve done as an adult.

There is a view advanced by some that the church, by “sanitizing” a history, has either misled or oversimplified or out-and-out lied to its flock in order to teach a certain faith-promoting point of view. I do not share that view simply because that has not been my experience.

I am a convert to the church. I was baptized with my parents at age eight (almost nine), so I had the benefit of hearing the missionary lessons AND “growing up” in the church. I attended Primary for nearly a year prior to my baptism (I was the first in my family to go to church), and I continued to attend MIA (back in the day), priesthood, Sunday School and seminary. Our family was not completely diligent in holding Family Home Evenings throughout my youth, but we did often enough and regularly enough that I knew what Home Evening was and how it worked. And I have fond memories of many of our family activities. I’m old enough that church was in the morning and in the afternoon on Sundays, and Primary and Relief Society were held during the week. Our family car made the half-hour trip to church every day of the week – often twice – except the rare Saturday that there wasn’t a stake meeting, a youth activity or some sports thing going on.

By the time I got to BYU as a freshman, I was not unfamiliar with some of the anti-Mormon stories. I’d heard some of the arguments of the day against the church (some from my well-meaning “Christian” friends, some from politically active folks who worried about blacks and the priesthood). Perhaps because I came to the church as a convert in a convert family, I was not steeped in a more narrow view of our history, so if I heard something new (like Joseph’s use of a seer stone), I didn’t worry about it; I just filed it away with other things I’d learned.

I took a church history class from our mission president the summer before I went to BYU and there I was likely exposed to a few new things about Joseph and his experience. Our instructor was Kenneth Godfrey, whom I didn’t realize at the time was quite a church history scholar. I also benefited from a rather progressive Sunday School teacher in my last years in high school; she challenged us to consider our testimonies and consider what we knew and could know. She gave me new ways to think about general authorities and how they taught. She was completely faithful, but also frank in her discussions in our class.

When I got to BYU, I had a roommate whose father had been leaving the church for years. My roommate was well-versed in the foibles of our history, and he was anxious to find resolution to many of his questions. To my good fortune, he included me in his search for answers, and we spent a good deal of time at the Special Collections section of the Harold B. Lee Library at BYU. Ultimately, he and I ended up in different places. Although we both left for our missions on the same day, he left his mission after six months unable to look himself in the mirror and truthfully testify that he knew Joseph was a prophet. My reaction was the opposite. I am still impressed with his integrity, and I cannot account for our different outcomes, only my own. I found peace in my study of doctrine and was ok with some ambivalence along the way as it related to specific historical questions.

Over time, I’ve been greatly encouraged by efforts by the church to make more real history more available. And I’ve sought out and enjoyed reading more scholarly efforts from Bushman and Arrington and Givens and others. The relatively recent (well, several years old, now) work by Walker, Turley, and Leonard on Mountain Meadows was far more satisfying to me than Juanita Brooks’ treatment that I read in my freshman year at the Y, though Brooks’ account was also illuminating and helpful as far as it went.

Recent online conversations have caused me to think again about how I’ve talked about church history with my children. I could do more. I have had the approach of waiting for their questions and then to answer as honestly as I can, and reaffirming my own faith. Perhaps there is value in my being more proactive than I have been; I don’t know.

When I have taught church history in Sunday School or institute classes or in priesthood, I’ve also done my best to represent truth as I understand it. I have generally sought supplemental information, and, when I’ve felt it appropriate, I’ve introduced it into my lessons. I try to measure such introductions against the needs and interests of my class.

My testimony is not as simple as saying “I know the Book of Mormon is true; therefore I know that Joseph was a prophet; therefore the church is true.” In fact, that is absolutely not my own path to testimony.

But my testimony is pretty simple. I do know from my own experience and in my own way that God is in His heaven. The scriptures, including the Book of Mormon, have taught me doctrine that has blessed my life. The fruits of the restoration – the priesthood and its ordinances, including temple ordinances – have been the source of great spiritual strength for me. All of those things point me toward the atonement and its remarkable power and grace.

Against that backdrop, I’ve yet to be overcome by historical issues. I realize my approach does not work for everyone. I have members of my family who have left the church over unresolved issues regarding our history, and one needn’t look far on the internet to find many others who are in the same boat. I read a comment a while ago that wondered what a TBM like me would have to learn to turn him away from the church, and I don’t have an answer to that question. I suppose the reason is that my testimony is rooted in the gospel, not the church; it is rooted in the Savior and His redeeming power, including the ordinances of His priesthood, not in the history of the restoration as I understand it, nor even the historicity of the scriptures. It’s not that I doubt the history or the scriptures’ historicity; those things are not the most important thing to me.

But I’m happy to learn more about them as I go along.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Sustaining my teachers

I wrote recently about sitting on my hands (here and here). One of my reasons for that post was to renew my support of my gospel teachers at church. I raised my hand to sustain them, and I want to continue to sustain them.

But what can we do when we have a teacher who is sub-par (or who just bores us)? We don’t all respond to the same kind of teacher, I’m sure, so there are likely times when the person in front of the room isn’t our favorite.

Here are things I hope class members will do for me when I teach:

1. Prepare to come to class – read the lesson and come ready to learn something. It may not be from the teacher, but from another class member, or even just from quiet reflection on what has been said. But I hope students come to my class prepared to learn. (And yes, that also means bringing a set of scriptures (I don’t care what form!) and a copy of the lesson manual. Extra points if I’m teaching one of those Teaching for Our Times lessons and someone brings a copy of the conference talk! (Personally, I never know what talk we’re discussing until I show up; somehow it doesn’t get communicated very well in our ward. But at least now that I use my Kindle Fire at church, I can find whatever conference talk is under discussion.)

2. Volunteer to read and comment – there’s nothing worse for a teacher than inviting volunteers to participate and hearing crickets in response. Ok, it may be a lame question, but maybe your insight will drive the discussion in a positive direction. There’s one fellow in my ward who is particularly good at this – I love having him in class when I teach because I know he’ll say something cool.

3. Ask thoughtful questions – if the lesson is lagging or if there’s a question you brought to class hoping for an answer and it doesn’t look like you’re going to get it, ask the question. The worst that will happen is that you’ll get a blank stare. But the question might lead to an interesting and fruitful discussion. I’ve done this sometimes and had a fellow class member button-hole me after class for an extended discussion about my question.

4. Teach yourself the lesson you’d like to hear – if all else fails, you can always teach yourself the lesson while you sit in the classroom. Elder Eyring told a story a few years back about his dad’s doing this in sacrament meeting if a talk got a little on the dull side. I prefer to wait a while before leaping to this conclusion because if I’m teaching myself in my head, I probably won’t hear what others are saying in the discussion, and so I won’t learn anything from them.

I believe there’s value in showing up prepared for a class. It benefits me as a student and it also benefits the teacher. But sometimes there is a teacher we just don’t get much from. Hopefully that teacher isn’t instructing every week, and hopefully that teacher can get some in-service training. But even if he or she can’t, we can still sustain him or her by being present and ready to learn.

Some teachers do get better over time. I have a friend who taught a class I used to attend regularly. Initially I wasn’t all that thrilled going when he taught. But over time he introduced innovations to his lesson – he sought out information in other church publications to supplement what he was getting out of the shared manual; he did a better job of leading class discussions instead of reading from the manual; he became more confident in his own ability to teach. It was fun to watch the change in him, and it became fun to attend his class.

King Benjamin’s remedy for our earthly state seems to apply in this case, as well. If we are “submissive, meek, humble, patient, full of love” (Mosiah 3:19), we are more likely to be accepting of our teachers who might not be our favorites, and we might learn something along the way.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Feeding Sheep at Women's Conference

You might think I want to blog about the BYU Women’s Conference, but you’d be wrong. Our stake in Southeastern Michigan just held its annual women’s conference, and that’s my subject.

Now you might wonder why I would blog about a women’s conference. I had only a very tiny bit to do with this one. I did not present (though I did, with my wife, two years ago), but my lovely wife is in our stake Relief Society presidency, and she helped to plan and execute it. And she conscripted me to set up and take down tables and chairs…

But she and my daughter also told me about what went on there, and it was awesome.

Since I am not a woman, I do not know first-hand what kind of talk there is around here about what perfect women are supposed to be like, but I do hear that there is that kind of talk around Mormon culture. And there seems to be plenty of guilt among really good sisters because they somehow don’t match the perfect image. Hopefully those who attended our stake’s women’s conference left with a more realistic view of things.

The theme of the conference was the spirit of faith. And throughout the conference there were stories of faith – not stories of horror turning to gold or happily-ever-afters at the end of the rainbow, but real, gritty, in-your-face stories of how normal women work day-by-day to exercise faith to put one foot in front of another and keep moving toward honoring covenants in the face of adversity, rearing children in imperfect families, coping with difficult choices in life, and generally trying to do good things.

One of the activities that moved my daughter was the program over lunch. Certain sisters were invited to consider a particular statue from the Nauvoo Women’s monument, to write a brief essay describing the significance of that particular statue, and to re-enact the statue while a narrator read her essay. (My daughter was one of the narrators.) What could have been a rather pedestrian “here’s what the statue means to me” exercise turned out to be filled with personal stories of faith as sisters described their connections to one of the monuments or another. The sisters did not choose their subject; they were assigned. And still, each had a personal connection, a personal experience, a personal story to tell which allowed the spirit of shared experience to permeate the program.

As is common in women’s conferences, sisters could choose from a variety of workshops where they learned about subjects ranging from teaching faith in the family to learning faith in the temple, from studying faithful women from the scriptures to learning about offering help vs. co-dependence.

I wondered aloud to my wife why the sisters had such a conference and the men do not. My wife pointed out that she did not know why men did not have such a conference, but that the Relief Society program has long provided for such conferences at the stake or local level. (I found myself wondering if men would show up.)

My wife (who sat on the stand for the opening session of the conference) said as she watched sisters stream into the chapel (about 200 sisters attended), it occurred to her that each one came with a particular need to be filled; each one came to be fed spiritually. And my wife hoped that what they had prepared would fill that need. That is surely at least one reason why this particular conference was a success, because those who planned it prayerfully considered the needs of those who would attend and sought to feed them as the Savior taught Peter to feed His sheep.

It occurred to me that I could do better at adopting that attitude in my church service. I could do a better job of feeding my home teaching families, the classes I teach, and, of course, my own family.