Tuesday, 29 April 2014

Life Seminar for Emily's Voice

An invitation to attend a Life Seminar in Northern Tasmania was a great opportunity for two Relief Society sisters to mingle with others in our community who share the same beliefs and goals for families and children. Members Gail Challis and Tania Honey gladly accepted the invitation from Claire Van Ryn, writer of the religious column for the Examiner newspaper, to participate in a full day of discussion and activity centred around the right to life for children and the support services that are available for women and their babies.

Paul O’Roarke, Gail Challis, Tania Honey, 
Claire Van Ryn and Ciona Gerke

The day was run by the organisation Emily’s Voice, and the CEO, Paul O’Roarke was one of the keynote speakers. Their website states,

“Motivated by love, Emily's Voice seeks to change culture through a relentless, truthful and yet sensitive and hopeful national media campaign that inspires Australians to fall in love with the unborn and support women and families facing an unexpected or crisis

One of the exciting things that really impressed both Gail and Tania was the knowledge that each person who attended the seminar that day was a practicing Christian. The day began and ended with a prayer of thanksgiving for the life and love that Christ has for each of us, and how His power can be manifest in our lives if we will accept Him.

Noeline Booth, from BabyMum, a community 
organisation that provides 24/7 support, 
outreach  programs and education for pregnant 
and new mums. Their aim is to make 
a better life for baby and mother.
They were able to participate in discussions about the health and well being of women and how Relief Society, the women’s organization of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, meets those needs. They were able to use The Family, A Proclamation to the World to share the vision of the church regarding families and their importance to our Father in Heaven.

Guest speakers included three brave women who shared their stories of grief and trauma after making the heartbreaking choice to terminate their pregnancies. All stated that if just one person had reached out to them in love and supported their desire to keep their child, life would have been so different.

The support services that attended all had one goal: to give unconditional love to all women throughout their pregnancies. All stated that counselling is essential. We must provide sincere, loving, wise counsel as parents and leaders. We need an understanding heart. The overall message of the day was that Heavenly Father loves us, forgives us. That is what his Atonement is all about.

Gail and Tania made many friendships that day and links to community organizations that can support women.

NB. Paul’s full keynote address can be accessed through the following link: Keynote address

Remembering Sister Tracy Hames-Bridgen

Sister Tracy Hames-Bridgen of the Devonport Ward passed away peacefully following a courageous battle with cancer on 23 April 2014. Family and friends gathered to remember and honour her at a service held Monday, 28 April 2014 at the Devonport Chapel.

Friday, 25 April 2014

Tasmanian priests practice spiritual survival

This week the priests from Hobart and Devonport Stakes participated in a 3 day hike at Freycinet Peninsular. Their 30 kilometre walk included a 454m climb to the top of Mt Amos, overlooking Wineglass Bay. The climb was as difficult as it was breathtakingly beautiful. It was a camp that required physical ability, and their survival instincts were almost evident with their design of whalebone spears and skinning and preparation of fresh cooked eel, that one of the priests managed to catch.

The purpose of the camp was to help the priests understand their duties now and in the future as priesthood holders. On the first day, they paired up as they walked and were asked to memorise scriptures about the creation. They were also asked to discuss what the three most beautiful places they had visited were. They also theorised how the mountains around them were formed. They shared their discussions and scriptures later in a post-dinner devotional with the theme: "Recognising the Lord's hand in all things."

The next day was the day they all climbed to the top of Mt Amos. As they walked, they were asked to ponder three questions that would help others understand who they were: if you were an insect, what insect would you be? if you were a colour, what colour would you be? In your opinion, what would be the difference between survival and resilience, if there is a difference? In the devotional later that evening and as we sat on the beach at (non-alcoholic) Wineglass bay, the priests shared what insects they would be; butterflies, ants and bumblebees were amongst some of their responses. They shared what colours they would be; it came by no surprise that a lot of their colours were inspired by the nature surrounding them: the blue of the sky, the green of the plants and the blue of the ocean. The reasons to the responses they shared helped make the devotional a truly bonding experience and it finished with a great discussion about resilience and survival; both physical and spiritual.

On the last day as we hiked back to the car park over the 'Saddle', the priests were given one last challenge: each of the priests had to make the passing tourists smile. Each priest was successful with this challenge and had made each of those tourist's day a little bit better. They were told that something as simple as that is part of their responsibility to care for the saints, but not just the saints; in fact, anybody that they come in contact with.

All in all, you could say the whole hike was challenging but enjoyed by all. It was physical as well as spiritual and there were a lot of memories created.

P.S If the priests are reading this blog, remember what you were invited to do: record these experiences and memories down so that you don't forget them.

Monday, 21 April 2014

Messiah provides a musical feast for members and friends

On Easter Saturday, 19 April, LDS meetinghouses across the stake hosted a unique musical event. Just hours earlier in Salt Lake City, the Mormon Tabernacle Choir concluded their Easter Concert which featured the 360-voice choir’s first ever full performance of Handel’s Messiah to a live audience of 6,000.

Through the wonder of modern technology, audiences in Burnie, Devonport, Deloraine and Launceston were treated to a high definition video and immersive audio screening of this majestic performance.

Some musical adaptations were made to enable the formidable ensemble to achieve the delicacy of a chamber performance and the end result was polished and beautiful. The quartet of soloists delivered moving renditions of the arias and the choir performed the beloved “Hallelujah” chorus with unique power and gusto.

Despite being a screening, all who attended agreed that the quality of the performance, the intimacy of the chamber-like gatherings and the warm, comfortable venues made the experience as good as being there.

The Church will host other concert screenings throughout the year, including a mid-winter “Pioneer Day” concert on Friday 4 July at 7.30pm which will feature beloved Welsh soprano Katherine Jenkins. The choir's Music and the Spoken Word programme can also be heard every Sunday at 8am and 6pm on Meander Valley Community Radio, 96.9FM (www.mvfm.com.au).

Friday, 11 April 2014

Devonport Stake women receive strength and relevation from General Women's Meeting

In sacrament meetings across the stake on Sunday 6 April 2014, a letter was read inviting all members to "gather together" to participate in the General Women's Meeting and General Conference rather than watching them from home. The letter reiterated the Lord's promise in D&C 110:21-23 that as the stakes of Zion "gather together, and stand in holy places," they would be blessed with strength and revelation, blessings that will be necessary to realise our stake vision. This promise was fulfilled in abundance that evening at the General Women's Meeting, as Paige Triffitt reports...

On the 6th of April 2014 Devonport Stake women aged 8 upwards, came together to watch and listen to the 2014 General Women’s Meeting of this years 184th General Conference. It was the first time that this meeting has included girls aged from 8 to 11 and what a special meeting it was. Not only was it so nice to see so many women there but also the number of babies as well! I think all generations were represented at this meeting and what a wonderful sight it was.

The thing that always stands out to me and touches me the most is not so much as what is said but what is sung. There were so many beautiful pieces played and sung by both choir and congregation. My first thought when the congregation of women started to sing the second verse of ‘Teach Me To Walk In The Light” (pg.177 Children’s Song Book or pg.304 Hymns) with the 8 to 11 year old girls standing, was how they sounded so much like angels. Never have I heard a more beautiful sound than the women of our stake as well as those in the recorded meeting, singing that song. Now I don’t know what angels sound like but I can bet it sounds pretty similar! It was such a wonderful spiritually uplifting meeting. And it was so nice to be able to sit there feeling of the spirit whilst eating Chico boys and Maltesers with my mum, sister and friends.

The Primary general president, Sister Rosemary M. Wixom spoke first. She spoke on how "Keeping covenants protects us, prepares us and empowers us.” As I was going over her talk I found so many wonderful quotes that I would love to share with you but there was one that stuck out to me the most. If I could I would quote her whole talk, I would quote all the talks given in that meeting! Quotes and music would have to be my favourite!  Sister Wixom said, “Tonight, we sang about walking the path in the light. As individuals we are strong. Together, with God, we are unstoppable.” What a wonderful statement, declaring that on our own we are strong but with the help of others and of God we can not be stopped no matter what comes our way.

Sister Bonnie L. Oscarson the Young Women’s general president, spoke on how we all need each other and how we are all sisters. It was really such a wonderful talk and I encourage all of those who have not watched, read or listened to it, and even those who have heard it to hear it again. She stated “We must stop concentrating on our differences and look for what we have in common.” The adversary does not want us to unite together as women as he knows just what we are capable of if we do just that. We must overcome our differences and prove that we can do it; we can work together as children of God and accomplish His will. At the conclusion of her talk Sister Oscarson invited us “…to not only love each other more but love each other better.” She then stated, “May we realise just how much we need each other, and may we all love one another better.” We do need each other, we need to build each other up and help everyone around us to stay on the straight and narrow path that leads to our goal as men and women of the church.

Next Sister Linda K. Burton the Relief Society general president addressed us. She talked about becoming Disciples of Christ. She said that we need to put the things of the world aside and to come unto Christ as that is what true disciples do. One of my favourite statements of the night was said by Sister Burton and it reads, “You have been sent to earth in this dispensation of time because of who you are and what you have been prepared to do. Regardless of what Satan would try to persuade us to think about who we are, our true identity is that of a disciple of Jesus Christ.” We have been chosen to come to earth at this time. We have been chosen to do the work of the Lord and we need to show Him that we can do it. We need to show Him that we can follow Him and live His commandments. We cannot let the world persuade us that we are not important as we know that “…the worth of souls is great in the sight of God;” (Doctrine and Covenants 18:10).

The last speaker of the night was President Henry B. Eyring, one of my personal favourites. He spoke again on covenants and how lucky we as women of the church are to have these covenants. He said “Only a few of His daughters have the opportunity in this life to even learn of those covenants. You are one of the favoured few. You, dear sisters, each of you, are a daughter in the covenant.” How lucky we are to be able to know that we have a loving Heavenly Father and to know the true Gospel. We have to share what we know so that we can help others lives to be filled with God’s love. President Eyring concluded his talk with this statement, “He sees not only what you are but what you may become. Because He loves you, He will provide the help that you need to move yourself and others upward along the way back to His presence.”

The evening concluded with a lovely supper provided by the auxiliaries. Sisters enjoyed renewing friendships and spending quality time with their families as captured in the accompanying photos.

I encourage all those who did not attend or have not watched this special meeting to do so. You will be blessed with the spirit and you will come to know of the importance of unity and covenants in our lives as women. I cannot express enough how much I enjoyed this meeting and how strong the spirit was.

You can watch the meeting below, or download the talks as text or audio/video at http://gc.lds.org.