Saturday, 29 March 2014

Deloraine member teaches family history to U3A

With the growing emphasis on family history work throughout the Church, stake members have looked for creative ways of helping others to get started on their journey of discovery. At the beginning of the year, Deloraine member Suzanne Walters had the idea of promoting family history through the local chapter of the University of the Third Age (U3A). Although students and instructors in the U3A are generally retired professionals, the organisers welcomed Suzanne's offer of a free six-week beginner course on family history.

In the weeks leading up to the first term, the U3A held a number of enrollment days at which the Church was invited to display a large FamilySearch banner and leaflets advertising opening hours of the local Family History Centre (FHC). One such open day coincided with the local council's Australia Day volunteer expo, at which Deloraine FHC volunteers managed a successful FamilySearch stall (read more here).

By the time the course commenced, 8 people had signed up, none of whom were members of the Church. For most, their participation in the course was their first personal contact with the Church and first experience inside a Church building.

Each two hour lesson block was divided into an hour of instruction and an hour of practice time, assisted by local FHC volunteers including the Centre director and his wife, Graham and Sue Brown. Topics included:
  1. Getting started - Why the Church invests so much in family history, and why it's worthwhile for us to get to know our ancestors. 
  2. Recording your family history - Using paper (including the new My Family booklet), computer and on-line facilities including the Family Tree on FamilySearch.org.
  3. Australian research - How to access local births, deaths and marriage records and Australian newspaper archives.
  4. International research - Using international databases, websites and forums to research ancestors in other parts of the world.
  5. Photos and stories - Preserving precious family memories that turn our hearts to our ancestors.
  6. Unlocking records - Volunteer projects that enable us to contribute to the availability of on-line records, such as FamilySearch Indexing and BillionGraves headstone recording.
By the end of the course, each student was signed up on FamilySearch and had begun recording their research and memories on the Family Tree. Some were able to connect with other people who had been contributing research on their family lines to the Family Tree. Many had been in touch with children and grandchildren around the world who had expressed an interest in learning more about their families, and had started to help them to connect to the Family Tree or find their local Family History Centre. Almost all students had made significant discoveries, including finding members of their immediate families they had previously been unaware of!

In describing the experience, Suzanne said, "I've always appreciated the importance of family history as a member of the Church, but to be able to see others who are not members of the Church visibly touched as they made discoveries about their ancestors was a real testament to me of the power of turning our hearts to our fathers."

None of these students may ever join the Church - that was not the objective of the course! - but each one has a deeper connection to their own families and greater understanding of the value that Church members place on enduring family relationships.

A copy of the course in PDF format will be made available here shortly.

Wednesday, 26 March 2014

Burnie Branch Conference Report

By Paige Triffitt
 
Burnie Branch had their Branch Conference on the 23rd of March (2014). I personally love Branch Conference for two reasons: the first being because the spirit is so strong, and second, because it’s the only time that the Burnie chapel is practically full (leaving my family to sit in the front row instead of our usual spot a couple rows back). I know that I got a lot out of the talks, testimonies and lessons throughout the day and that many others did as well.

In Sacrament meeting we had the pleasure of listening to President Corona, the Stake Presidency (Presidents Walters, Triffitt and Buckley) as well as a testimony from Sister Buckley. The main message that I got out of the meeting was that we as Burnie Branch need to go out of our comfort zones and share the gospel with our friends and others we know so that we can become a Ward. This message doesn’t just apply to the Burnie Branch but to all members of the Devonport Australia Stake - we all need to be missionaries and bring others to the knowledge that we have.

Something that President Buckley shared was that the single Branches and Wards are not important - it’s the whole Stake. It is not convenient for us to all meet together every Sunday and so we have our separate Wards and Branches, but really we need remember that we are still one body of saints all working together to help each other grow and to one day be able to have a Temple in Tasmania. We need to find small and simple ways to share the gospel every day and to go that extra mile, we need to find that one person and invite them along to church or simply an activity.

Something that I have realised over the past little while is that it doesn’t mater if they say "no," there is always going to be a second chance to ask! Maybe they won’t say "yes" this time but one day they will and you have to be ready. The Lord knows that we are not perfect and that we make mistakes every day, and just like asking someone to come along to church, we always have a second chance or even a third and fourth. We need to remember that there is no such thing as failing as “You have not failed until you quit trying” (President Gordon B. Hinckley).

President Buckley also talked about Ammon and how he served King Lamoni instead of trying to teach him the gospel straight away, knowing that he would not listen. We can be like Ammon and teach by example: we can first serve those around us, and slowly we can teach them, we can teach them by serving.

I don’t want to say too much about Sunday School and Young Women as I don’t want to spoil it for any other youth, but I will say that they were both amazing! One thing that I took from Sunday School was how the Lord doesn’t force us into keeping His commandments. He doesn’t force us to follow Him, but He lets us choose. He wants us to accept Him and all that He has done for us, but we don’t have to, we have that choice. He gives us the opportunities to know His way and He wants us to follow Him, but He doesn’t make us. This can also tie into missionary work, as we might be the person to teach someone the gospel so that they can choose for themselves to follow Him like we have. We need to give everyone the opportunity to choose for themselves, it does’t mater whether twenty people or nobody accepts our invitation to come unto Christ, it only maters that we have given them that choice.

In Young Women our wonderful new Stake Young Women President, Esther Wooley, taught us about this year's mutual theme, “Come unto Christ” (Moroni 32:10). We found out why and how we come unto Christ, it was such an amazing lesson, and I’m sure that all the Young Women there would say the same thing if I asked them! I’m so grateful for Esther and know that she’ll be an absolutely amazing Stake Young Women President! I don’t want to spoil too much, but there is one thing that I want to share as I feel it’s important for all us, not just the Young Women. Esther was talking about how prayer can help us come closer to Christ, and she brought up the fact that if we want to get to know someone, we talk to them. There is no way that we can get to know someone if we don’t talk to them, and it’s the same with the Lord. If we don’t pray then how do we expect to know Him better? We need to talk to Him to know Him.

I know that if we forget ourselves and see that the world is full of those who need our help, and if we give them the opportunity and choice to follow Christ, that we will grow the Devonport Stake. Not only do we need to be sharing the gospel but we need to be helping those who are in our stake to strengthen their testimonies and help them to keep choosing to follow the Lord.

Sunday, 23 March 2014

Three endowed and one couple sealed at Stake Temple Day

It was in the early hours of the morning of Saturday 15th March that Saints began to congregate at the airport awaiting the boarding call to fly to Melbourne for another wonderful spiritual experience of entering the Lord’s house.Many of the saints travel long distances to catch the early morning flight but spirits are high and greetings are warm as we wait for one another in anticipation of spending valuable time together. Our stake temple trips are wonderful opportunities to forge loving bonds with each other as well as those for whom we do proxy work.

This temple experience was made all the sweeter as we welcomed 3 members going for the first time. Robert and Leanne McDonald from Launceston West Ward and Lina Higgins from Launceston East Ward. We are so fortunate to have these trips made so easy for us with a bus to meet us at the airport and take us straight to the temple and return to pick us up at the end of the day and make the return trip.

One of the great experiences of Stake Temple trips is the opportunity to be surrounded by others from our Stake and to feel the love we have for the Saviour and each other as we participate together in sacred saving ordinances. It was a sweet experience to have our own ordinance workers assist those attending for the first time. Robert, Leanne and Lina all commented on how wonderful it was to be encircled about by loving members of their wards on their momentous day.

I think their smiles tell it all. They are glowing with the spirit the temple brings into their lives.

Learn more about our Stake Temple Days at http://temple.ldsdevonport.org.au.

By Gail Challis, Stake Relief Society President

Thursday, 13 March 2014

Deloraine Primary children bake bread for sacrament


On the 25th of February, the Deloraine Faith in God Primary children met at Sister Simone Triffitt's home to do some bread making. But this was not your usual kind of bread making. The bread was being made for a very special purpose.

The children had decided that instead of just learning how to make bread and eating it, they wanted to make the sacrament bread. They had decided that they wanted to serve the congregation of the Deloraine ward by providing the bread to be blessed and passed during the fast and testimony meeting on Sunday, the 9th of March.



The Primary leaders thought this was a wonderful idea and were very excited to take the opportunity to remind the children about the covenants they make at baptism and how important it is to think about them each week as they take the sacrament.

Hallie and Daniel


Sister Brown and Jory

Rebekah

While the children were making the bread, Sister Sue Brown, opened the scriptures to D&C 20 and the children read out the sacrament prayers found in verses 77 and 79. The children talked about the covenants each of them made when they were baptised and how being reminded of them each week when they listen to the sacrament prayers, helps them to continue to make good choices when they are at home and school.


Daniel, Hannah and Oliver getting ready to put the bread in the oven.

The children also discussed that by renewing their baptismal covenants each week, they are honouring the promises made to Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ when they were eight years old. And that makes them feel good inside.


While the bread was cooking, the children had a well-earned break outside, eating brownies and ice-cream.




Once the bread was cooked, there was a little left over for the children to try.



The bread was cut up and placed in the freezer ready for Sunday. The children were very excited and waiting with anticipation to see their very own bread blessed and passed. 

We know that they will feel of the Spirit as they see the fruits of their labour used for such a sacred occasion. We know that they will continue to be reverent each week as they consider the importance of partaking in the sacrament and that in the words of President Thomas S Monson, they will know that:

"Service to others is akin to duty, the fulfillment of which brings true joy."



By Simone Triffitt

Friday, 7 March 2014

A leadership transition without campaigns

While the airwaves have been saturated with political advertisements aimed at winning votes, over 500 members and friends of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Northern Tasmania witnessed and participated in the quiet, simple transition of authority from one president to another.

The annual conference of the Devonport Australia Stake of the Church was conducted over the weekend of March 1-2, and presided over by Pacific Area President Elder James J. Hamula of the Seventy. Elder Hamula had been assigned by the First Presidency of the Church to re-organise the presidency of the Devonport Stake, and he was accompanied by Elder Robert J. Dudfield of the Seventy (a former Tasmanian) in this sacred assignment.

Elder Hamula described the process as similar to when the Lord assigned the prophet Samuel to anoint a new king of Israel, as recorded in 1 Samuel 16 in the Old Testament. On Saturday morning, the visiting Elders met in brief interviews with the existing presidency and other Church leaders, including the clerk, executive secretary, patriarch, members of the high council and the bishops. Elder Hamula said that as the interviews progressed, "a tapestry unfolded" until finally, through careful consideration and prayer, the Lord revealed to them who had been prepared to serve as the next stake president.

Contrasting this process with what we see in political, business and even other religious organisations, Elder Hamula said, "There was no political campaigning, no waiting for white smoke. Just the simple, sweet witness of the Spirit that the Lord had called a new leader."

Prior to the announcement of the new stake presidency on Sunday morning, other sessions of the conference were conducted on Saturday to provide training to the priesthood leadership of the stake, and encouragement to youth and adults about engaging in the Lord's hastening work of salvation. Members were blessed to hear from the visiting Elders as well as the mission president, President Maxwell, and his wife, and the temple president, President Hoare, and his wife.

On Sunday morning, members and friends of the Church began to gather from as early as 8am. A choir of children ages 3-12 sang a prelude item, then the meeting commenced at 10am, conducted by outgoing stake president, President Scott Prebble. After a rousing hymn and inspiring opening prayer, President Horsman, outgoing first counsellor, read the local business of the conference. He was followed by Elder Dudfield, who conducted the business of the stake re-organisation.

He began by extending an honourable release to the outgoing stake presidency, President Prebble, President Horsman and President Walters. He expressed his personal appreciation for their service, and invited the congregation to join him in a vote of thanks. He then invited the new stake presidency to stand as their names were announced. President Lionel Walters, former second counsellor to President Prebble, was called as stake president, with first counsellor, Dion Triffitt from Burnie Branch, and second counsellor, Peter Buckley from Devonport Ward. Members were invited to raise their hands to sustain the new presidency, and an opportunity was given for members to offer a dissenting vote. The vote was unanimous in favour of the callings, and then the meeting proceeded.

Left to right: Elder James J. Hamula, President Dion Triffitt, President Lionel Walters, President Peter Buckley and Elder Robert J. Dudfield.

After another beautiful musical item from the children's choir, the outgoing stake presidency and Sister Lisa Prebble, wife of President Prebble, were invited to share their testimonies, followed by testimonies from the new stake presidency and Sister Suzanne Walters, wife of President Walters. Following their testimonies, the congregation was blessed to hear from Sister Maxwell of the Melbourne Mission and President Hoare of the Melbourne Temple, who both encouraged members to engage in the work of salvation.

The congregation stood to sing the intermediate hymn, then Elder Dudfield spoke about the importance of deepening our personal faith in Jesus Christ through reading the Book of Mormon. He encouraged members to follow the invitation of the Area Presidency to read the Book of Mormon twice this year, and advised that the ushers would provide each family with a suggested reading schedule as they left the chapel.

Elder Hamula gave concluding remarks, describing the process of calling a new stake president, and emphasised the essential role that women play in that process. He shared how prior to extending the call to President Walters, he met with Sister Walters to ask searching questions about her husband's conduct as a husband and father. When he was satisfied her report of her husband's conduct was in harmony with the spirit of the call, he asked whether she would sustain her husband if he were to be called to "a significant position in the Church." He explained to the congregation that if, for whatever worthy reason, the wife could or would not sustain her husband, the husband would not be called. He taught that this prerogative should not be abused or used as an excuse to not serve, but should be recognised as a powerful example of the trust the Lord places in the women of the Church.

At the conclusion of the meeting, the congregation mingled, the new stake presidency were set apart and received some brief training, and then the visiting Elders left, trusting that the new presidency would follow the guidance of the Lord and the established procedures of the Church to carry out the work in the Devonport Stake.

President Walters, President Triffitt and President Buckley have been called to preside over the nearly 1,500 Latter-day Saints in Northern Tasmania, with a charge to engage every member in sharing the good news of the gospel of Jesus Christ with those around them. They were not called because of any worldly qualifications, such as academic degrees or professional experience, and like all other local leaders of the Church, will serve without financial remuneration and in addition to their work and family obligations until such time as they are released by the Lord through His appointed servants. At that time, they may be called to serve in the children's organisation, repairing the hymn books or anywhere else the Lord may need them.

President Walters with two of his predecessors, Scott Prebble and Philip Challis.

Someone once expressed the transition in Church leadership by saying, "One day a peacock, the next day a feather duster," meaning that no calling is of more importance than another in the Church. No other organisation in the world could conduct a transition of leadership in such a simple, ordered and dignified way with the assurance that the essential principles and policies of the organisation would be maintained. In the Lord's Church there is no campaigning, no ladder climbing, no imposing of personal agenda. Just simple, sacred trust in the Lord and willingness to serve where called.

For more information about the Church, visit mormonnewsroom.org.au.

An article about this transition was printed in the Examiner on Tuesday 1 April 2014 (read here).

Monday, 3 March 2014

Launceston East Ward bids farewell to Derek Jones


This week we said goodbye to another member of Launceston East Ward, with the passing away of brother Derek Jones. We have marvelled at his faith and courage over the past few years as we have watched him fight to stay on earth as long as he could, so he could spend as much time with his family as he could.

Derek’s wife Jenny, daughter Melissa and two sons Simeon and Reuben were surrounded by extended family, friends, work colleagues and clients at his funeral which was held on Thursday the 27th February at the Launceston chapel. Beautiful musical items were sung by the sister missionaries and a priesthood chorus, who sung Derek’s favourite hymn ‘Brightly Beams Our Father’s Mercy’.

His daughter Melissa shared stories about her Dad, which reminded us of his sense of humour, his love for his family, his love of his work and the gospel. She told us that his two grandsons Will and Henry were the light of his life, and how sad he was that he wouldn’t be able to see them grow up. She knows that he will be watching over them all, as he continues his work on the other side.
Sister Annette Clark shared a beautiful poem which defined what Derek’s life was about, which was called The Measure of a Man. Part of the poem said:

These are the things that measure the worth
Of a man as a man, regardless of birth.
 

Not - How did he die? But - How did he live?
Not - What did he gain? But - What did he give?


President Lionel Walters concluded the funeral and said that it can be easy to wonder why certain things happen, but like Derek’s family we can choose to look to the eternities as we know that this life is not the end.

We know that Derek gave so much in his life, and that was evident by those that were there to farewell him. Derek and Jenny’s son Dylan had Down Syndrome and passed away when he was just a few years old. A friend of Derek’s family was an extra special pall bearer. Nick has Down syndrome and was the same age as their son Dylan.

It was beautiful to witness Nick hugging Jenny at the graveside, and for Jenny to tell him how much she and Derek loved him, and how special he was. Nick hugged her for a long time and told her he loved her too and then said to her boys ‘hug your Mum’ which made us all smile. We also smiled as Derek’s grandson Will placed poppies on his coffin with a big smile, as he knew his Granddad was in Heaven and that he will see him again.

I’m sure Derek would’ve been smiling down on them as well. We will miss his big smile and beautiful spirit, and pray that we can help his family will have the strength, love and faith that they need, until they are reunited again.

By Lisa King