Declaration of Independence

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. - That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.

Tuesday, March 31, 2020

How Important Is Hope in the War with Coronavirus?

            President Donald Trump has been savaged both ways by the mainstream media. They blame him for showing too much hope in the early days of the viral attack on America. Now they are faulting him for scaring Americans for saying that 100,000 to 240,000 Americans may die from the coronavirus. This begs the question, how important is hope in our nation’s war with the coronavirus?

            Last Saturday Trump said that he was sending the Navy hospital ship Comfort to the people of New York as a “message of hope and solidarity.” The 70,000-ton ship was sent to treat patients that are not infected with the virus to free up hospital beds to treat COVID-19 patients. New York has the greatest number of COVID-19 cases in America. Another hospital ship is being sent to Los Angeles, another hot area with the virus, for the same purposes.

            How much hope can the people of the two cities gain by having hospital ships nearby? With thousands of people getting the virus and hundreds dying, I feel certain that the people feel more hope of treatment if they get the virus.

            Sunday Trump extended the “15 days to stop the virus” initiative to the end of April. It is now a “30 days to stop the virus” initiative. Cities and states have ordered residents to stay home, for all unnecessary travel to cease, and for all businesses to close except for essential businesses, such as grocery stores. This is all done with the “hope” that 30 more days of social distancing will stop the virus from spreading. What is this thing called hope?

            President Ezra Taft Benson explained why hope is important. “We must not lose hope. Hope is an anchor to the souls of men. Satan would have us cast away that anchor. In this way he can bring discouragement and surrender. But we must not lose hope. The Lord is pleased with every effort, even the tiny, daily ones in which we strive to be more like Him. Though we may see that we have far to go on the road to perfection, we must not give up hope” (“A Mighty Change of Heart,” Ensign, October 1989, 2).

            We must place our hope in God and His powers to help us. He has the power to stop the spread of the virus. He has the power to strengthen our overworked medical providers. He has the power to protect our loved ones. The hope that I speak of is the type of hope that goes with faith and charity. We must have faith in Jesus Christ in order to hope for God’s blessings in our lives, and we must have charity for other people. This is the kind of hope that will bring us through this pandemic – hope based on our faith in Jesus Christ. I invite you to turn your hearts to Jesus Christ. I also invite you to pray to Heavenly Father in the name of Jesus Christ to bless you with comfort from the Holy Ghost. I know that God has the power to help us, and I know that we must place our hope in Him.

Monday, March 30, 2020

Now What Do We Do?

            Today we entered the third week of sheltering in place. It is also what should have been the last day of President Donald Trump’s “15 Days to Slow the Spread” initiative. The reason for the 15 days was to give authorities time to collect data about what the country should do. After looking at the data and the models, Trump announced that the 15 days would be extended to the end of April. With approximately four weeks in April, this means that we will be sheltering in place for six weeks.

            I should not complain about hunkering down because I have an easy time of doing it. My husband and I are retired, and our home does not have a mortgage on it. Our finances are secure unless the State of Alaska goes bankrupt. Our children do our grocery shopping and run our errands. Ours is an easy life! 

We have stayed at home even though we know that we are free to walk or go for drives with the only stipulation being to avoid other people. With the increasing sunshine and the melting snow, we will most likely start venturing out of the house soon. Our lives are saddened with the death of my husband’s brother on Saturday. The death of a beloved brother is always difficult, but this one has been more difficult because we could not go see him before he died or attend his graveside services.

The emotions of knowing that a brother was dying and waiting for that awful telephone phone call have worn on us. In addition, the tension caused by the pandemic and the skyrocketing numbers of new cases and numbers of death have only added to the emotional toll. In today’s announcement, Alaska added 12 new cases and 1 death, bring a total of 119 cumulative cases, 3 deaths, and 0 recoveries. These numbers pale beside that of the nation (163,479 cases, 3,146 deaths, and 5,604 recoveries) and the world (786,228 cases, 37,820 deaths, and 166, 041 recoveries).

Trump expects the United States’ numbers to peak about the middle of April. He said that it is possible that as many as 100,000 to 200,000 Americans could die of this coronavirus. Millions of people are out of work, but the stock market is back up almost to where it was before the coronavirus hit the U.S. Trump wants to get the nation opened soon to avoid a repression or depression.

Missionaries have been called home from foreign missions. Many of them will be released or have their missions shortened. Others will be reassigned after they go through a 14-day self-quarantine. The temples are all closed worldwide. General Conference next weekend will be by technology only. Yesterday was the third Sunday that Church meetings were cancelled worldwide.

This is a whole new world for all of us except for the very oldest among us who were born during World War I and/or the Spanish flu pandemic, went through the Great Depression, World War II, and the 1957 pandemic. Most of us do not know what to expect, and the level of fear is high. Yesterday was a worldwide day of fasting and prayer for members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and all who joined with them. We hope and pray that this pandemic ends soon, and we can get back to life as usual – or as normal as it can be.

Sunday, March 29, 2020

Where Do We Draw the Line?

            The topic of discussion for this Constitution Monday concerns the power of the federal government. The Constitution and Bill of Rights were written to protect individual Americans and the state from too much centralized power. The Framers of the Constitution sought to safeguard against a too-strong central government.

            National emergencies seem to provide a major highway into usurping more power. After radical Islamist terrorists attacked the United States on September 11, 2001, Congress passed laws and regulations to “protect” Americans from future attacks. This site said that there were five ways that “federal laws and regulations were impacted.”

Soon after the attacks, as part of the Aviation and Transportation Security Act, Congress authorized the creation of the TSA where airports previously had used private security guards. [This was the beginning of removing shoes and not being able to take liquids through security.]

The USA Patriot Act, passed by Congress a little over a month after 9/11 and largely still in place today, amended numerous existing laws including the federal anti-money laundering statute and the Bank Secrecy Act of 1970, to make them tougher on terrorism.

The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act saw major changes, and major controversy around privacy. [This law] was amended in both 2001 and 2008, and lowered the legal bar for the government to engage in wiretapping and other surveillance practices.

Material support laws expand anti-terror efforts by allowing the U.S. Department of Justice to prosecute not only terrorists, but those who provide support like money, training and weaponry to terrorists.

The creation of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, which combats terrorism and other threats domestically and has promulgated regulations on everything from border security to natural disaster management, is the main federal agency to emerge from the attacks. The department was created by the Homeland Security Act of 2002, absorbing and reorganizing 22 existing federal agencies that deal with domestic safety, law enforcement and immigration. (Emphasis added.)

            Even though all five ways have impacted American citizens, I personally have felt the most impact when I go through security at airports. I have “cussed” the terrorists many times as I had to take off my shoes, empty my pockets, or throw away some forgotten item. How will the changes being made to protect America and Americans from the coronavirus impact our lives?

            With the coronavirus rapidly spreading through America, President Donald Trump declared a national emergency on March 13, 2020. In addition, many of the mayors and governors throughout the nation have declared their own emergencies and shut down schools, courthouses, public gatherings. They have strongly urged or even order citizens of the nation and residents of their states and cities to practice social distancing and to stay home whenever possible. Some people wonder where they got their power. 

According to Pete Williams at, the “laws conferring this legal authority” are “some of the oldest on the books.” Every state and nearly every country in the world adopted these laws to help stop the “plagues of past centuries that devastated Europe.” They were “reworked again after the 1918 Spanish flu epidemic and the more recent Ebola outbreak.” The powers to do this type of thing seem to be very broad during public health emergencies.

One of the emergency acts that is available to President Trump is the Defense Production Act. “The law gives the federal government broad powers to pressure the private sector into producing materials necessary to aid the national defense.” Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and other political leaders have pressured Trump to use this law to get the necessary medical equipment to care for victims of coronavirus, such as masks and ventilators. 

Trump invoked the Defense Production Act some ten or twelve days ago, meaning that the federal government can impel manufacturers to make medical equipment. He activated the Act three times but pulled it back because private companies were coming forth on their own with ways that they could help. However, General Motors (GM) resisted committing their equipment and personnel to build ventilators, and Trump was forced to activate the law against the company but hopes that full activation will not be needed. Even though I recognize the need for thousands of ventilators to be built quickly, I do not like to hear that the government is forcing any individual or company to do something.

Trump has great powers under the national emergency declaration as well as the Defense Production Act. Hopefully, he will use his powers wisely and deactivate them as soon as possible.

Saturday, March 28, 2020

What Is the Connection between Church, State, Freedom, and Disciple Citizenship?

            I studied Articles of Faith 11 and 12 this week. As you can see, these statements are about government, laws, freedom of liberty, and disciple citizenship.  These Articles of Faith are as follow: 

Article of Faith 1:11: “We claim the privilege of worshiping Almighty God according to the dictates of our own conscience, and allow all men the same privilege, let them worship how, where, or what they may.”

Article of Faith 1:12: “We believe in being subject to kings, presidents, rulers, and magistrates, in obeying, honoring, and sustaining the law.”

            I found several insights about government, freedom, religion, and discipleship that I would like to share with you. My first insight comes from Doctrine and Covenants 101:76-77. This scripture tells us that the Lord established the Constitution and commanded that it “should be maintained for the rights and protection of all flesh.” Verses 81-101 tell the Saints to importune their governments – local, state, and federal – for redress of their grievances. In the Doctrine and Covenants Student Manual, President Joseph Fielding Smith explained that the Lord had a good reason for these instructions. Once the governments declined to help the Saints and denied their civil rights [with regard to the persecution in Missouri], “those officials were left without excuse, and the judgments of the Almighty which later came upon them during the Civil War, were justified.”

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has the responsibility of taking the gospel to the living and the dead, and it has done so actively since 1830 when the Church was organized. Now there are circumstances beyond the control of the Church of Jesus Christ, and our leaders have suspended all meetings, closed the temples, and recalled the missionaries to their home countries. We understand that this is all a temporary situation, but we should also understand that the future work of the Church is in the hands of the Lord. We know that the Lord can do His own work (2 Nephi 27:21) and that He allows us to assist in it. As we watch the unfolding of events in these last days, we must keep our trust in the Lord and in His prophet.

            My second insight comes from Doctrine and Covenants 134. This scripture is a declaration adopted at a General Assembly in Kirtland, Ohio, on August 17, 1835. Verse 1 tells us that “governments were instituted by God for the benefit of man.” It continues by telling us that God will hold us accountable for the acts of the government. This includes the laws that are made and the way that they are administered. Verse 3 tells us that we should seek after and support men and women who will “administer the law in equity and justice.” The Doctrine and Covenants Student Manual for verse 3 has a quote from President Ezra Taft Benson: “Not only should we seek humble, worthy, courageous leadership, but we should measure all proposals having to do with our national or local welfare by four standards.” He says that all proposals should be measured by (1) the gospel of Jesus Christ, (2) the Constitution, (3) counsel from the living prophet, and (4) the effect that the proposal would have “upon the morale and the character of the people.” This section and living prophets and apostles tell us that we have a responsibility to make sure that our elected representatives and their proposals meet with these four standards and to support representatives who have the courage to stand for correct principles.

My third insight comes from a quote in the lesson material. “Citizenship refers to the obligation of Church members to fulfill their duties to their nations and communities in lawful ways that are consistent with ‘their inherent and inalienable rights’ (Doctrine and Covenants 134:5) (Gospel Topics, “Citizenship”). As citizens we have the responsibility to be actively engaged in the political process of our communities, states, and nations. We should become informed on the proposed issues and decisions made. We have the blessing of additional knowledge about governments and life in general, and we have the responsibility to apply gospel principles to the issues. In addition, we are encouraged to consider serving in the governments of our local, state, and national governments. 

            Our local, state, and national leaders are counseling us to distance ourselves from other people to stop the spread of the coronavirus spreading through the world. Many of us have been told to shelter in place to protect ourselves and others from the virus. As part of the vulnerable population as to age and underlying health conditions, my husband and I for about ten days and are planning to stay home for at least ten more days. We appreciate everyone who is practicing social distancing in our behalf. Someone compared this counsel to stay home to that of the Israelites who were asked to look upon the brass serpent to be healed. Staying home is such a simple thing to do, but it can reap great benefits. If we are practicing good disciple citizenship, we will be following the counsel of the prophet and the orders of the various governments.

            My fourth insight comes from Doctrine and Covenants 98, which is a revelation given through the Prophet Joseph Smith at Kirtland, Ohio, on August 6, 1833. The Saints in Missouri were being persecuted. The previous month a “mob destroyed Church property, tarred and feathered two Church members, and demanded that the Saints leave Jackson Count” (Section Heading). Yet, the Lord begins the revelation by telling the Saints to “fear not, let your hearts be comforted … rejoice … in everything give thanks” and wait “patiently on the Lord” (verses 1-2). This is excellent advice for all people during this time of apprehension about the coronavirus that is spreading throughout the world. This virus did not surprise God because He is all powerful and all knowing. We just need to put our trust in Him and listen for instructions in how to protect ourselves and our families. 

            My fifth insight comes from the same section – Doctrine and Covenants 98. This section testifies that Constitution supports the “principle of freedom in maintaining rights and privileges,” “belongs to all mankind,” and is “justifiable before [God]” (verse 6). It says that God makes us free, and the law makes us free (verse 8). In reality, God made us free in our pre-earth world when He gave us the “principle of agency – the innate freedom to choose” (“Why Religious Freedom Matters to Mormons”), and the Constitution and laws of the land protect that freedom. Our most important freedom is the freedom to practice our religion as we choose. “The principle of agency … underlies all of [the Latter-day Saints’] other vital teachings and doctrines. Human dignity and agency rest on freedom of conscience” (“Why Religious Freedom Matters to Mormons”). Freedom of Religion is sometimes called our “first freedom” because it comes first in the First Amendment of the Bill of Rights. It is also first because freedom of religion protects who we are at our core – our beliefs, thoughts, and attitudes.

            My sixth insight comes from a quote by Elder Quentin L. Cook, “All voices need to be heard in the public square” (“Religious Values in the Public Square”). All citizens have the obligation to fulfill their duties and responsibilities to their nations. Latter-day Saints are particularly obligated because we understand the importance of disciple citizenship. We have been counseled to seek out and support good and wise people to represent us and to “prayerfully study the issues and decisions” in our community and nation (Gospel Topics, “Citizenship”). The Church Handbook encourages us to “consider serving in elected or appointed public offices in local and national government” (Handbook 2, 21.1.29). Latter-day Saints have greater knowledge about the creation of the Constitution, and we are taught the importance of obeying laws and honoring political leaders. We should be at the forefront in making our voices heard. We can do this over the internet in blogs, articles, and other ways. We can send letters to the editors of newspapers. We can run for office and support others who run. We should be actively engaged in making policy.

            I applied the doctrines found in Articles of Faith 11 and 12 to the real-world problem of threats to religious liberty, which come from numerous directions. They come from members of other religions who try to force others to believe as they do, or simply persecute people who believe differently. They come from people who try to force people to abandon their religious beliefs to performs services that go against their religious beliefs – bakers, florists, etc. They come from people who have no religion and do not other people to practice religious beliefs in public places. They come from government officials who try to legislate religious beliefs.

            Latter-day Saints believe that “Religious freedom … is the human right to think and believe and also to express and act upon what one deeply believes according to the dictates of his or her moral conscience” (“What Religious Freedom Means”). This freedom allows all people to live according to their own beliefs – regardless of their belief. It is a basic freedom and a human right. Latter-day Saints defend the religious freedom of other people and groups because we know that we are protecting our own religious rights as we protect the religious freedom of others.

            As a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, I have strong feelings about the importance of defending my religious freedoms. The history of the Church of Jesus Christ includes much information about how freedom was denied to the early members. Persecution and hatred drove members of the Church of Jesus Christ from Palmyra, New York, to Kirtland, Ohio, to several counties in Missouri to Nauvoo, Illinois, and finally to the Salt Lake Valley. Mobs burned homes, barns, and stacks of hay. They drove people from their homes in the dark hours of the night in the middle of winter without enough clothing to protect against the elements.

            The Church history is also my family history. I had numerous ancestors who were driven from place to place and finally cross the plains to find refuge in the Rocky Mountains. The need continues for us to defend our sacred beliefs and practices from desecration of unbelievers. The Broadway play about the Book of Mormon is just one example of how people make fun of our beliefs and one reason why I must stand ready to defend my religious freedom.

Friday, March 27, 2020

Why Are Stick-Together Families Happier?

            Families that stick together are happier and stronger and can bring strength to their communities and nations. I feel certain that there are some – maybe many – families that would not agree with my opening sentence at this time. We are well into the second week of the fifteen-day order to shelter in place, and some families may be a little too crowded together. I saw this poem by Edgar Albert Guest titled “The Stick-Together Families” and thought that it may help all families feel better about their sudden togetherness.

The Stick-Together Families  

The stick-together families are happier by far
Than the brothers and the sisters who take separate highways are.
The gladdest people living are the wholesome folks who make
A circle at the fireside that no power but death can break.
And the finest of conventions ever held beneath the sun
Are the little family gatherings when the busy day is done.
There are rich folk, there are poor folk, who imagine they are wise,
And they're very quick to shatter all the little family ties.
Each goes searching after pleasure in his own selected way,
Each with strangers likes to wander, and with strangers likes to play.
But it's bitterness they harvest, and it's empty joy they find,
For the children that are wisest are the stick-together kind.
There are some who seem to fancy that for gladness they must roam,
That for smiles that are the brightest they must wander far from home.
That the strange friend is the true friend, and they travel far astray
They waste their lives in striving for a joy that's far away,
But the gladdest sort of people, when the busy day is done,
Are the brothers and the sisters who together share their fun.
It's the stick-together family that wins the joys of earth,
That hears the sweetest music and that finds the finest mirth;
It's the old home roof that shelters all the charm that life can give;
There you find the gladdest play-ground, there the happiest spot to live.
And, O weary, wandering brother, if contentment you would win,
Come you back unto the fireside and be comrade with your kin.

            I encourage you to make these days of togetherness in our homes the best possible memories for your children and teens. Do your best to make these days into happy memories for your posterity. My siblings and I grew up in a house that was too small for our family, but the togetherness we felt keeps us close to each other in our old age. I know that being a stick-together family brings great happiness and strength and prepares children and teens to make a difference for good in their communities and nations.

Thursday, March 26, 2020

Are Our Efforts Sufficient to Stop the Coronvirus?

            The number of cases of COVID-19 and deaths continue to climb in the United States. This nation now has the most confirmed cases in the world, higher even than Italy or China. This situation could be the result of more tests being given or greater spread of the virus. Two members of my family indicated that they went for tests today. My sister works in a school lunchroom and my great-nephew is a nurse in a nursing home. We will not know the results for several days as is the case with many other people.

            On March 16, 2020, President Donald Trump a new program with the title “15 Days to Slow the Spread.” The initiative was put in place to slow or stop the spread of COVID-19. There were certain actions that the President asked Americans to take.

·         Listen to and follow the directions of your state and local authorities.

·         If you feel sick, stay home. Do not go to work. Contact your medical provider.

·         If your children are sick, keep them home. Contact your medical provider.

·         If someone in your household has tested positive for the Coronavirus, keep the entire household at home.

·         If you are an older American, stay home and away from other people.

·         If you are a person with a serious underlying health condition – such as a significant heart or lung problem – stay home and away from other people.

            These guidelines were in addition to recommendations to practice strict personal hygiene, wash hands regularly for at least 20 seconds, wipe down surfaces in the home often, and practice social distancing. The goal is to protect Americans of all ages but especially the most vulnerable segments of sick and/or elderly. Additionally, I used a Lysol wipe on all the groceries brought into my home and on all pieces of mail.

            My husband and I are now in our eleventh day of sheltering in place because we started on March 16. However, our governor asked Alaskans to shelter in place for two weeks beginning Sunday night, March 22. That two-week period will not end until April 5, and we may choose to shelter in place for extra time.

            I was hoping to see some changes in the trajectory of coronavirus cases, but that is not the case. Are the increasing numbers of people getting sick caused by them not sheltering in place, or were they infected before March 16? The answer is probably “both.” We may start seeing the numbers decrease now that spring breaks are over for college students, cities are closing places of recreation where crowds gathered, and more businesses are closing their doors. 

            We are told that symptoms start to appear sometime between three and fourteen days after infection. This leads me to believe that we will start seeing a decrease in cases about three days from now nationally but ten more days for the Alaska program. It stands to reason that the sooner people stay home, the sooner we can defeat the virus. So, STAY HOME!

            From the vantage point of my front balcony, it appears that my neighborhood is taking both the national “shelter in place” initiative and the Alaska “hunker down” program seriously. The quiet in my neighborhood reminds me of the quiet of the skies after the terrorist attacks on 9/11. I see very few vehicles driving on my street and fewer individuals walking or playing. My husband and I took a short walk up the street this evening just to get some fresh air – our first time going further than the mailbox – and saw no vehicles or people on the street.

            President Russell M. Nelson has issued an invitation for all members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to hold a day of fasting and prayer for the Lord’s blessings on the people of the world. He invited all non-members of the Church of Jesus Christ to join us if they wish and are healthy enough to fast. We can see from the evidence that mankind does not know how to stop the virus, but we know that God is all powerful and all knowledgeable. If we humble ourselves sufficiently and ask with faith in Jesus Christ, I know that God will bless us.

Wednesday, March 25, 2020

Why Has the Prophet Not Called for a Day of Fasting and Prayer?

            Why has the Prophet not called for a day of fasting and prayer? This question did not originate with me, but it did cause me to ponder. On March 21 I received an email from my stake presidency, which began: 

On Sunday, March 29, we have the opportunity to join with church members across the globe to fast and pray together for a successful resolution of the COVID-19 outbreak. We as a stake presidency invite you to join with fellow saints in fasting and prayer, keeping in mind the five-fold purpose of this fast as outlined in the invitation letter from our North America West Area Presidency…. Please consider this invitation our second witness to the inspiration of our Senior Church Leaders and the love our Heavenly Father and His Son, Jesus Christ, have for all of us…. [The email included a copy of the mentioned letter.]

            The statement about being able to “join with church members across the globe to fast and pray together” caused me to think that all church members worldwide were receiving the same invitation. Today I discovered that my assumption was not true. Family members in the North America West Area received the same invitation, but a family member in the Utah Area did not.

            This realization brought several questions: Why did the invitation come from the area presidency instead of the prophet? Has the Lord told the prophet not to call for a day of fasting and prayer? Why would the Lord (who commands us to pray always) not want us to pray for a resolution to the coronavirus? I do not pretend to know what the Lord would do, but that possibility does not make sense to me.

            At any rate, I am sharing the invitation with all my readers no matter which area you live in or who sent the invitation. I am a firm believer in prayer, and I believe that many prayers going up to Heavenly Father will bring about great blessings. Let me share the invitation from the North American West Area presidency with all of you. I hope that you will join in fasting and prayer on Sunday, March 29, 2020, for the Lord’s blessings to stop the spread of the coronavirus.

Edit March 26, 2020: Today the Prophet issued an invitation to join him in fasting and prayer, so there was obviously no need to be concerned.

            Dear Brothers and Sisters,                 

We extend our love to you and want you to know we are praying for your safety and well-being.

We are entering a very critical phase in the COVID-19 outbreak. The next two to four weeks will determine whether the extensive efforts of national and local leaders to stem the rate of community spread of COVID-19 will be successful. The personal health of millions of people and the economic well-being of all nations hang in the balance. The next few weeks and months will likely be an unprecedented period of challenge and economic struggle for many. These are extraordinary times. There has never been a greater need in our lifetime for all people to turn to God for help and peace. We assure each of you that our Heavenly Father and His Beloved Son, Jesus Christ, are mindful of us and our individual needs. We can turn to Them for peace and comfort.

Sunday, March 29, 2020, is a fast Sunday. It is also the weekend just prior to April General Conference. As an Area Presidency, we invite you to join us in a Special Day of Fasting and Mighty Prayer. The purpose of this fast is five-fold:

            1. To ask the Lord to bless and inspire our leaders and their efforts to protect the health 
            and well being of all people and to find solutions to address the challenges we are facing
            in all nations.

            2. To pray for all those who are suffering the physical, emotional, and economic impact 
            of COVID-19, that they will be blessed according to their needs.

            3. To pray that the hearts of people everywhere will be softened and turned toward the 
            Lord in humility and that faith in Jesus Christ would increase on the earth.

            4. To pray for spiritual strength to overcome fear and anxiety, for inspiration to protect                         ourselves and our families, and for the awareness and ability to minister to those in need.

            5. To pray for increased understanding and personal revelation in preparation for the 
            prophetic guidance and messages regarding the bicentennial of the restoration.
            Like the prophet Enos, we too can turn to the Lord in mighty prayer in behalf of ourselves,                   our families, our nations, and those in need. He will hear and answer our humble prayers.

We hope you will invite others of faith to join with us in uniting our faith and prayers. As you do, please consider a generous fast offering and, based on your personal circumstances, a donation to the Humanitarian Fund. As an Area Presidency, we will be looking for significant and meaningful ways to address the immediate and growing humanitarian needs of our area. We encourage you to listen to and share President Russell M. Nelson’s recent media posts on hope and love with your family and friends.

We invite you to join us in a Special Day of Fasting and Mighty Prayer and to unite with others as we pray for heaven’s help and blessings.


The North America West Area Presidency

Monday, March 23, 2020

Why Does It Take an Emergency to Unite the Nation?

            My VIP for this week is the American people. The Chinese coronavirus came to America and attacked many innocent individuals and families. Americans said, “No, you cannot do that to my friends, neighbors, and countrymen. I will not let you.” Then we proceeded to do what Americans always do in a crisis – unite and work together. This is true for all Americans except for the Democrats in Congress who always follow their own agenda no matter what happens to America and Americans!

            Doctors, nurses, and other medical professionals form one group who makes extraordinary sacrifices in this battle. They put their health and possibly their lives on the front line of battle day after day. They have seen the enemy face to face, and they have fought in hand-to-hand combat with it. They are frightened at its power to destroy lives, but they will not back down. They work long hours doing their best to preserve the lives of their countrymen and often take risks to help others. Then they isolate themselves at home to protect their families.

            Another group is the truckers and railroad workers who keep the supply lines moving. Even though toilet paper and hand sanitizer are gone long before the store closes, there are trucks bringing more each day. Drivers are at the wheel for long hours each day because they know that the goods in their trucks are essential to the comfort and health of their countrymen.

            Store managers and employees form a third group. They serve customers all day long. They stock shelves and clean the stores after hours to protect customers who come to buy food and supplies day after day. They put up with rude Americans who treat them with disrespect. They see the hoarders who buy out the essential supplies and try to increase their bank account by creating shortages. Eventually, the stores personnel declare that there are limits on supplies, and then they must enforce their rules. Many stores are seeking more employees to handle the additional services being provided.

            Another group is formed by the farmers and ranchers who provide food for our tables and the restaurant and fast food industry who prepare it for us. When the government shut down all inside meals, workers in food outlets quickly adapted to make it a takeout and/or delivery service only. They continue to feed Americans and keep the economy humming at the same time.

            Manufacturers form another group. Some manufactures provide food and supplies that are still needed. Others recognize that Americans are not shopping for new furniture and vehicles, so they retrofit their manufacturing equipment to make medical masks and ventilators instead of couches and cars.

            Teachers are gaining new respect from parents who have had home schooling thrust upon them suddenly. Many parents will most likely discover that their children are not willing pupils, and they may stop blaming the teachers for the poor report cards brought home by their children. However, teachers are not vacationing but are learning new skills as they hold class with their students using Zoom and other technology.

            Quilters and other crafters are putting their sewing skills to good use in sewing medical masks for nurses, doctors, and home health providers. Patterns and instructions for masks are put on the Internet and freely shared.

            Patriotic Americans of all ages and groups are following instructions to isolate ourselves socially. Elderly folks and others who have underlying health problems are staying in our homes. Others are serving us by bringing groceries to us and serving in other ways. Families are staying close to home, and teenagers are sacrificing time with their friends to protect their grandparents. Couples are postponing or changing wedding plans. Seniors in high school and college are sacrificing championship games, drama and other competitions, and even graduation ceremonies to hunker down with their families.

            The Chinese coronavirus has done for America in two weeks what the Trump administration has been trying to do for nearly four years. Americans – other than congressional Democrats and virus deniers – are united in fighting the invisible enemy that has invaded our nation. Americans are always powerful, but we are invincible when we are united. The Chinese coronavirus is discovering the same thing that the Japanese discovered during World War II and the terrorists discovered after 9/11. America is a sleeping giant that awakens with a roar when provoked! 

Even though we often bicker among ourselves, most of us come together and fight as one when we are faced with a common enemy. We will fight this war and win it battle by battle until we have defeated the enemy. Then we will celebrate together before moving forward to the next crisis. May God bless America. May He heal our people and our nation and help us to come through this war greater than ever!

Sunday, March 22, 2020

What Is the Connection between Discipleship and Good Citizenship?

            The topic of discussion for this Constitution Monday concerns the rights and responsibilities of citizenship. Americans are guaranteed many rights and freedoms simply because we are citizens of the United States of America. Many of us insist on claiming our rights but are not concerned about the responsibilities that are part of those freedoms.

            We have duties that go along with each freedom, and we must fulfill those duties to be good citizens. For example, the first freedom listed in the Bill of Rights is Freedom of Religion. This means that we are free to think and believe as we choose, and it also means that we are free to express and act upon those thoughts and beliefs. It means that we are free to live our religion privately and in public. The duty that goes along with this freedom is that we must allow all other people to exercise their freedom of religion in the same ways.

            Another freedom given to Americans but not listed in the Bill of Rights is the freedom to choose our own political parties and political leaders. We are free to choose the policies and platforms that we will support. The duty that goes along with this freedom is the duty to exercise our right to vote. As good citizens, we will study the issues and problems facing our community, state, and nation, and we will exercise our agency to choose those people who we think will do the best job for us. Part of this duty is to allow all other people to make their own choices and vote in the way that they choose. The final duty in this regard is to accept the will of the people and to support the people who win the election.

            Disciples of Jesus Christ understand His teachings to “render under Caesar the things that are Caesar’s and to God the things that are God’s” (Luke 20:25). Members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints “believe in being subject to kings, presidents, rulers, and magistrates and in obeying, honoring, and sustaining the law” (Articles of Faith 1:12). We also believe that the Constitution was written by good men who were raised up by God to perform that task (Doctrine and Covenants 101:80). We believe that God expects us to honor and respect the Constitution and to be good citizens. We believe that good disciples are also good citizens of their nation. Therefore, discipleship and good citizenship go together.

Saturday, March 21, 2020

What Is the Difference Between the Latter Days and the Last Days?

            I studied Articles of Faith 1:10 this week wondered if I was living in the last days. A novel coronavirus is sweeping across the earth. It is making tens of thousands of people sick, killing several thousands, and destroying economies. Is it the desolating sickness that is prophesied to cover the earth prior to the Second Coming of Jesus Christ? It is a terrible sickness, and it is covering the earth!

We are now at the end of the first week of a fifteen-day period of isolation. My husband and I have not been out of the house since Monday afternoon except to pick up our mail. Our children have basically ordered us to stay home because our age and health make us particularly susceptible to the virus. Maybe it is the isolation causes me to think that we may be living in the last days, and maybe it is the combination of missionaries returning from numerous foreign countries. Whatever it is, I am convinced that we are moving rapidly towards the last days.

Article of Faith 1:10 says, “We believe in the literal gathering of Israel and in the restoration of the Ten Tribes; that Zion (the New Jerusalem) will be built upon the American continent; that Christ will reign personally upon the earth; and, that the earth will be renewed and receive its paradisiacal glory.” 

            The doctrines in the tenth Article of Faith covers four main events: Israel will be gathered literally including the return of the Lost Tribes, Zion will be built in America, Christ will return and reign on earth, and the earth will be changed. Israel is gathered as people learn about the gospel and are baptized. The gathering takes place in stakes of Zion located worldwide. Doctrine and Covenants 29:1-11 tells us that Christ will gather His elect and that His coming will usher in the Millennium. We know the signs of His coming because He shared them with His Apostles in Jerusalem and again through revelation to Joseph Smith. 

Doctrine and Covenants 45:15-35 tells us that Elders will be sent forth to cry repentance and to prepare the world for the Second Coming. The Lord calls to us by His own voice, by the Elders, and by the forces of nature. How we hear his voice depends on our own spirituality. Verses 24-38 tell us that there will be a “desolating sickness” that will cover the land prior to signs, wonders, and the return of the Savior. Doctrine and Covenants 101:22 tells us that all who call on the Lord and worship Him are to gather and stand in holy places. Verses 32-38 say that the Lord will reveal all things and that the people will not fear death but will care for the soul as they seek the face of Jesus Christ. Doctrine and Covenants commands us to prepare for the Second Coming of Christ. So, as we gather to the stakes and live the gospel, we are gathering Israel and perfecting the Saints. These two events help us to prepare for the coming of Christ and the Millennium. I found several insights during my studies.

My first insight came from President Russell M. Nelson’s quote from his address to the youth in June 2018: “… these surely are the latter days, and the Lord is hastening His work to gather Israel. That gathering is the most important thing taking place on earth today. Nothing else compares in magnitude, nothing else compares in importance, nothing else compares in majesty….”

President Nelson’s quote supports an earlier statement by the Prophet Joseph Smith: “[The] subject of the gathering … is a principle I esteem to be of the greatest importance to those who are looking for salvation. … All that the prophets … have written … goes directly to show that it consists in the work of the gathering” (History of the Church [1991], 2:260].

If the gathering is this important – and I believe that it is, then it stands to reason that Satan would pull out all his tricks to stop it. I believe that one of his tricks could be the coronavirus that is shutting down the world. Whether it is by the evil designs of men or an accident of nature, the coronavirus has slowed or stopped the work of the gathering on both sides of the veil. 

Missionaries have been sent home to protect their health. Other missionaries have lost the advantages of being trained in the missionary training center (MTC). Missionaries are being returned to their home countries, and some are being released early. Missionaries in the field are self-isolating as much as possible. This slows the missionary work a lot.

Then there is the situation at the temples. Many of them are closed, and the rest are closed for all proxy work. This action has stopped all temple work for people on the other side of the veil. However, the work of indexing and finding people may be quickening.

General Conference “attendance” will be by technology only, and sacrament meetings and stake conferences are cancelled. Will these changes make a difference in the perfecting of the Saints, and what kind of difference will they make? General Conference will be no different for me because I usually use technology to watch it, and my home sacrament meeting yesterday was wonderful. The Church of Jesus Christ has prepared us for years for such a trial.

I have been pondering God’s ability to take something terrible and turn it into something wonderful. An example of this ability is when Joseph was sold into Egypt and the great good that came from him being there to prepare for his extended family. What wonderful things will come out of this terrible scourge of sickness that is sweeping the world? I suppose that depends on how all of us handle the isolation and what we do with our added time at home! 

My second insight comes from the video, which points out that Article of Faith 10 consists of four great events: the gathering of Israel, the building of Zion, the Second Coming of Jesus Christ, and the millennium transformation of the world. Two of the events are happening at the present time with the first consisting of missionary work and temple work, and the second being the perfecting of the Saints. These events will continue until the work is done. The last two events are still in the future. There is something about the way that the video mentioned the four events that helped me to understand how the first two events work together to prepare the world for the last two events. It is in the process that we can become Zion with “one heart and one mind, and [dwell] in righteousness” with “no poor among [us]” (Moses 7:18).

My third insight is how God sent revelation about the gathering of Israel and the building of Zion in small packets. Doctrine and Covenants 29:2 tells us that Jesus Christ “will gather his people… even as many as will hearken to my voice and humble themselves before me and call upon me in mighty prayer.” Doctrine and Covenants 38:31-33 tells us that Christ will gather “a righteous people, without spot and blameless,” so they can “escape the power of the enemy.” He tells the Saints to go to the Ohio to receive “my law” and to “be endowed with power from on high” before going out “among all nations.” Then Doctrine and Covenants 105:1-5 the Lord says, “were it not for the transgressions of my people, speaking concerning the church and not individuals, they might have been redeemed even now…. They have not learned to be obedient to the things which I required at their hands … and are not united…. Zion cannot be built up unless it is by the principles of the law of the celestial kingdom….”

These scriptures tell me that God is working with us and doing all that He can do to redeem us, but we are not as obedient as we should be. The Brethren have spoken for years about our need to keep the Sabbath day holy. We are now in a situation where there are no Sunday meetings. How many members used the day to draw closer to God and family, and how many used the day to sleep in or to have fun? The Lord has provided the Come, Follow Me program to help us to study the scriptures at home. How many of us are obediently following the guidelines to study the scriptures? Remember, the Lord was upset with the church as a whole and not with individual members. I know that He has sent numerous little nudges to help me in my studies. Have I missed any promptings? Am I doing all that I can do?

I applied the doctrines in this Article of Faith to the real-life issues of racial strife and hatred in the following way. Heavenly Father is the Father of all mankind, and He loves all His children. He wants all His children to learn the gospel and to gather to the Church of Jesus Christ. The missionaries take the gospel to all people who will listen to them. As people accept the gospel and are baptized, they are gathered to the Church of Jesus Christ. As we live the gospel, we become better people. As we become better people, we bring Zion a little closer. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is seeking to prepare the world for the coming of Jesus Christ. His coming will usher in the Millennium.

            I believe that the amount of racial strife and hatred in the world would decrease if more people listened to the missionaries and gained better understanding of Heavenly Father, Jesus Christ, and how They work “to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man” (Moses 1:39). The better we understand that we are all God’s children, the more we love and serve our brothers and sisters of all races and nationalities.

            There are other blessings of the gospel that could decrease racial strife and hatred, and they include God’s ability to bless His righteous children in ways that cause them to prosper in the world. Gospel principles help people to overcome poverty, and more equal economic situations cause less stress between races and nations.

            The principles of work and self-reliance help many people to throw off the shackles of poverty and to raise their standard of living. I think that it was President Ezra Taft Benson who said that the gospel takes the slums out of people and the people take themselves out of the slums. The gospel of Jesus Christ makes us better people who are more capable of dealing with the trials of life that we face.

            Gathering people to the gospel of Jesus Christ blesses lives in many ways. However, I believe that knowledge of our relationship to Heavenly Father and His plan of salvation would go far in improving racial strife and hatred in our nation and throughout the world. Heavenly Father wants to bless all His children. He wants all of us to be gathered home to Zion. He wants all of us to be there to greet Jesus Christ with joyfulness when He returns. He wants all of us to grow and progress until we reach our potential and live together in love and harmony during the Millennium.

            The latter-days is the time period that began in the spring of 1820 when Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ appeared to the Boy Prophet, even Joseph Smith, to usher in the restoration of the gospel of Jesus Christ and continues today. The last days is the time period just prior to the end of the world as we know it and the return of Jesus Christ to earth to reign as King.

Friday, March 20, 2020

How Does Isolation Affect Children and Teens?

            Families are strengthened by time together, and strong families strengthen communities and nations. A few days ago, President Donald Trump urged individuals and families to isolate themselves for 15 days. This situation means that most communication with friends and extended family will be by technology. While technology is wonderful, the isolation also has its drawbacks for people of all ages.

            Many parents were enjoying the last weeks of the school years before the children were home for the summer, but the school year ended suddenly. Now parents and children are forced to adjust their thinking overnight and make other plans. Not only are parents trying to work from home, but students are trying to complete school assignments. All this work must be done on the same computers in some families, so coordination is necessary.

            While families work out all the physical kinks caused by being stuck together at home for who knows how long, the Deseret News editorial board  reminded us to consider our mental well-being. Their article quoted “Jenny Howe, a licensed therapist who works with anxious and depressed teens.” She said that school-aged children, particularly teenagers” may have a difficult time being isolated from their friends. “They are recognizing that they need that in-person energy in order to feel connected to people.”

            The idea makes sense. The rising generation is used to spending “six hours each weekday learning, laughing, eating and socializing with peers. Take that away, and a phone becomes a sorry substitute for a gaggle of friends in the lunchroom.” She said that families should consider mental well-being to be as important as washing hands and wiping often used surfaces.

            Howe said that a written schedule to be “paramount” even though every minute does not need to be planned. Input by the children is important. Meals should be consistent, and assigned chores help people to be needed. Cooking and cleaning together can be fun. There should be time for just hanging out as well as personal conversation with individual children and in family setting. There are bound to be some difficult topics to discuss as well as an opportunity to show love and support. 

According to Howe, parents should never expect their children to spend 100% of their time together. Teens and children need to find an acceptable balance between being with family and personal time. The important thing is to keep all family members physically and mentally healthy. Working on spiritual health by praying together, singing hymns, and studying scriptures is also beneficial to overall good health.

Situations that are not ideal make family life a little more difficult. However, by working and playing together, families can overcome many obstacles and come through the difficulty stronger. Healthy and strong families bring great strength to their communities and nations.

Thursday, March 19, 2020

How Did the U.S. Become the Most Prosperous Nation in the World?

            The liberty principle for this Freedom Friday concerns economic freedom. Because the world is engulfed in a coronavirus pandemic, governments are responding in ways that could put a damper on economic activity. However, the crisis should not be an excuse to institute governmental controls over the lives of Americans. Our leaders must take steps to end the controls as soon as possible to allow the economy to bounce back to robust health.

            During the health crisis, The Heritage Foundation released it 2020 Index of Economic Freedom on Tuesday. According to Terry Miller, the index “shows a world more committed to the principles of free-market capitalism than ever before.” There are 180 countries ranked in the index, and 124 improved their economic freedom scores over the past year. “The average score in the index is at its highest level in history, and the commitment to free-market reform is stronger than ever.”

            Miller reported that “the world economy has more than doubled in size” and “Poverty rates have declined by two-thirds” since the fall of the Soviet Union and other socialist/communist governments in Eastern Europe. This “unprecedent prosperity” in the developed economies and the “fantastic opportunities for growth” in underdeveloped countries comes as a benefit of the “globalization of world commerce.” “Hundreds of millions of people are enjoying better lives because their governments have embraced, at least in part, the U.S. way.”

            Is it any wonder that Americans – and Democrats in particular – grew concerned with the rising of self-proclaimed socialist Bernie Sanders in the polls? Now that the Democrats are down to two contestants – Bernie Sanders and Joe Biden – it seems that everyone is climbing on the Joe Biden bandwagon.

            Anyone with eyes to see knows that Biden is senile and slipping further down the slope as time passes, but Democrats obviously think that he has a better chance at beating Trump than Sanders. This must say something about the chances of socialism taking hold in a nation that has a roaring economy – or did until hit by the coronavirus from China. 

The bare shelves in our grocery stores and the governmental controls on our ability to assemble, travel, and work make a great show-and-tell item about life in a socialist country. If you doubt what I am saying, just look at Venezuela! There is no comparison between a roaring economy in a free-market enterprise and a stunted one that exists under socialism.

Hundreds and thousands of the rising generation fell under the spell weaved by Sanders and other socialists in our nation. This fact should tell us that the education system in our nation is indoctrinating our children and youth. We need to make some changes in our educational system. Maybe the coronavirus will help us to make those changes since the children and teens are now being home-schooled and the college students have been sent home to study online. Parents and grandparents may see more of what the students are learning and set their thinking straight. No one in their right mind would choose socialism over capitalism if they knew the facts about the two system.

I agree with Miller when he said, “we live in the most prosperous country in the history of the world, and the fundamental principles of economic freedom have played a vital role in making that happen.” Parents and grandparents must be instrumental in helping the rising generation to see the truth as it really is and facts as they really are. Let us stick with the economic system that brought us to prosperity in the first place and let it help us regain our roaring economy once we beat back the coronavirus sent to us by Communist China.