Building hope and families in Ukraine

The meeting did not go as expected.

Mormon humanitarian missionaries Brent and Charlene Lee thought that the Ukrainian official would be excited about their plans for another international conference on foster care and orphans. Not only would this conference help several countries, but it would also be great public relations for the LDS Church.

But the official wasn't interested. She had a new mandate from the president of Ukraine.

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Sugar Beets and the Worth of a Soul

Thomas S. Monson, “Sugar Beets and the Worth of a Soul,” Liahona, Jul 2009, 2–5

Many years ago, Bishop Marvin O. Ashton (1883–1946), who served as a counselor in the Presiding Bishopric, gave an illustration I’d like to share with you. Picture with me, if you will, a farmer driving a large open-bed truck filled with sugar beets en route to the sugar refinery. As the farmer drives along a bumpy dirt road, some of the sugar beets bounce from the truck and are strewn along the roadside. When he realizes he has lost some of the beets, he instructs his helpers, “There’s just as much sugar in those which have slipped off. Let’s go back and get them!”

In my application of this illustration, the sugar beets represent the members of this Church for whom we who are called as leaders have responsibility; and those that have fallen out of the truck represent men and women, youth and children who, for whatever reason, have fallen from the path of activity. Paraphrasing the farmer’s comments concerning the sugar beets, I say of these souls, precious to our Father and our Master: “There’s just as much value in those who have slipped off. Let’s go back and get them!”

Right now, today, some of them are caught in the current of popular opinion. Others are torn by the tide of turbulent times. Yet others are drawn down and drowned in the whirlpool of sin.
This need not be. We have the doctrines of truth. We have the programs. We have the people. We have the power. Our mission is more than meetings. Our service is to save souls.

Our Service: Save Souls

The Lord emphasized the worth of each man or woman, youth or child when He declared:

“The worth of souls is great in the sight of God. …

“And if it so be that you should labor all your days in crying repentance unto this people, and bring, save it be one soul unto me, how great shall be your joy with him in the kingdom of my Father!

“And now, if your joy will be great with one soul that you have brought unto me into the kingdom of my Father, how great will be your joy if you should bring many souls unto me!” (
D&C 18:10, 15–16).

Remember that you are entitled to our Father’s blessings in this work. He did not call you to your privileged post to walk alone, without guidance, trusting to luck. On the contrary, He knows your skill, He realizes your devotion, and He will convert your supposed inadequacies to recognized strengths. He has promised: “I will go before your face. I will be on your right hand and on your left, and my Spirit shall be in your hearts, and mine angels round about you, to bear you up” (D&C 84:88).

Primary leaders, do you know the children you are serving? Young Women leaders, do you know your young women? Aaronic Priesthood leaders, do you know the young men? Relief Society and Melchizedek Priesthood leaders, do you know the women and men over whom you have been called to preside? Do you understand their problems and their perplexities, their yearnings, ambitions, and hopes? Do you know how far they have traveled, the troubles they have experienced, the burdens they have carried, the sorrows they have borne?

I encourage you to reach out to those you serve and to love them. When you really love those you serve, they will not find themselves in that dreaded “Never, Never Land”—never the object of concern, never the recipient of needed aid. It may not be your privilege to open gates of cities or doors of palaces, but true happiness and lasting joy will come to you and to each one you serve as you take a hand and reach a heart.

Lessons Engraved on the Heart

Should you become discouraged in your efforts, remember that sometimes the Lord’s timetable does not coincide with ours. When I was a bishop many years ago, one of the leaders of the young women, Jessie Cox, came to me and said, “Bishop, I am a failure!” When I asked why she felt this way, she said, “I haven’t been able to get any of my Mutual girls married in the temple, as a good teacher would have. I’ve tried my very best, but my best apparently wasn’t good enough.”

I tried to console Jessie by telling her that I, as her bishop, knew that she had done all she could. And as I followed those girls through the years, I found that each one was eventually sealed in the temple. If the lesson is engraved on the heart, it is not lost.

I have learned as I have watched faithful servants like Jessie Cox that each leader can be a true shepherd, serving under the direction of our great and Good Shepherd, privileged to lead and cherish and care for those who know and love His voice (see
John 10:2–4).

Seeking the Wandering Sheep

May I share an additional experience I had as a bishop. I noted one Sunday morning that Richard, one of our priests who seldom attended, was again missing from priesthood meeting. I left the quorum in the care of the adviser and visited Richard’s home. His mother said he was working at a local garage servicing automobiles. I drove to the garage in search of Richard and looked everywhere but could not find him. Suddenly, I had the inspiration to gaze down into the old-fashioned grease pit situated at the side of the building. From the darkness I could see two shining eyes. I heard Richard say, “You found me, Bishop! I’ll come up.” As Richard and I visited, I told him how much we missed him and needed him. I elicited a commitment from him to attend his meetings.

His activity improved dramatically. He and his family eventually moved away, but two years later I received an invitation to speak in Richard’s ward before he left on a mission. In his remarks that day, Richard said that the turning point in his life was when his bishop found him hiding in a grease pit and helped him to return to activity.

My dear brothers and sisters, ours is the responsibility, even the solemn duty, to reach out to all of those whose lives we have been called to touch. Our duty is to guide them to the celestial kingdom of God. May we ever remember that the mantle of leadership is not the cloak of comfort but rather the robe of responsibility. May we reach out to rescue those who need our help and our love.

As we succeed, as we bring a woman or man, a girl or boy back into activity, we will be answering a wife’s or sister’s or mother’s fervent prayer, helping fulfill a husband’s or brother’s or father’s greatest desire. We will be honoring a loving Father’s direction and following an obedient Son’s example (see
John 12:26; D&C 59:5). And our names will forever be honored by those whom we reach.

With all my heart I pray that our Heavenly Father will ever guide us as we strive to serve and to save His children.

The Freedom To...

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What do Mormons do in Their Temples?

In the temple, priesthood ordinances for the living and the dead are preformed, and sacred covenants are made. The primary purpose of the temple is to “seal” or unite families together for eternity. For this reason, Church members search out information about their ancestors.

The Lord has commanded His people to build temples. One such command was directed to Solomon, who proceeded to build a house of the Lord and the most sacred structure on earth. Earlier, the Israelite’s tabernacle in the wilderness served as a temple, and there was a temple in the time of Jesus Christ.

When Jesus Christ restored His Church through Joseph Smith, He again directed that temples be built. In the temple, sacred covenants are made and worthy members? are endowed with a gift of power and knowledge from on high.

In the more than 100 holy temples worldwide today, members:

Learn eternal truths. Receive sacred ordinances, including those that bind husband and wife together for eternity, as well as join children and parents ( Malachi 4:5).

Perform ordinances such as baptism in behalf of those who have died without the opportunity to receive the gospel?, making it possible for those who choose to accept them to return to live one day with Heavenly Father ( 1 Peter 4:6 and 1 Corinthians 15:29).

Visitors are welcome to visit the temple grounds at any temple and attend open houses prior to dedication, thereafter only baptized members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints who are qualified and prepared are allowed to enter a temple after it is dedicated.

Members of the Church are actively involved in family history work. This work is to identify their ancestors and enable them to bind their families together for eternity in holy temples.

The Church operates the largest genealogical library in the world—the Family History Library in Salt Lake City, Utah. Open to the public with no fees for any of the services, the Family History Library offers access to millions of volumes of birth, marriage, death, and other records. The Church also operates branch libraries throughout the world that are open to anyone interested in family history.


In the temple, holy truths are taught and solemn covenants are made in the name of Jesus Christ, both by the individual members on their own behalf and as proxies on behalf of others who have died (the latter have the choice in the spirit world to accept or reject such vicarious service). Various ordinances including baptisms for the dead, washings and anointings, endowments, and sealings are performed inside the temple. In the endowment, participants watch and hear figurative presentations in which scenes are acted out, depicting why the earth was created and how one may come to dwell again in God's presence. The words of the endowment set forth eternal principles to be used in solving life's dilemmas, and they mark the way to become more Christlike and progressively qualify to live with God.

Temple participants also make covenants and receive promises and blessings. Sealings consist of temple marriages and the sealings of families that are solemnized for time and eternity. Members generally receive their endowment shortly before serving a mission or being married. In order to enter a dedicated temple, members must be worthy, present a temple recommend from their Church leaders, and men must hold the Melchizedek priesthood. Latter-day Saints do not talk about the details of the temple ceremony outside the temple because they are sacred. The temple is an ideal place to worship through meditation, renewal, prayer, and quiet service.

Written by: Immo Luschi: He was employed in Frankfurt, Germany by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints as a translator of the Book of Mormon.

The ordinances performed only in the temple are baptisms for the dead, washings and anointings, endowments, and marriages or sealings for eternity. The privilege of entering the House of the Lord, the temple, and participating in its ordinances is a spiritual apex of LDS religious life. Through temple ordinances, one receives a ceremonial overview of and commitment to the Christlike life. Temple ordinances are instruments of spiritual rebirth. In the words of President David O. McKay, they are the "step-by-step ascent into the eternal presence." Through them, and only through them, the powers of godliness are granted to men in the flesh (D&C 84:20-22). Temple ordinances confirm mature discipleship; they are the essence of fervent worship and an enabling and ennobling expression of one's love for God.

All participants must be baptized and confirmed members of the Church, and must receive a temple recommend. However, children under eight years of age may participate in their own family sealings before being baptized. Members who are twelve years of age or older may serve as proxies in baptisms for the dead. Worthy adults may participate in the temple Endowment ceremonies. All men must have been ordained to the Melchizedek Priesthood. Temple ordinances are performed in sequence.

WASHINGS AND ANOINTINGS. Washings and anointings are preparatory or initiatory ordinances in the temple. They signify the cleansing and sanctifying power of Jesus Christ applied to the attributes of the person and to the hallowing of all life. They have biblical precedents. Women are set apart to administer the ordinances to women, and men are set apart to administer the ordinances to men. Latter-day Saints look forward to receiving these inspired and inspiring promises with the same fervent anticipation they bring to baptism. They come in the spirit of a scriptural command: "Cleanse your hands and your feet before me" (D&C 88:74; cf. 1 John 2:27). A commemorative garment is given with these ordinances and is worn thereafter by the participant.

TEMPLE ENDOWMENT. The temple Endowment is spoken of in scripture as an "Endowment," or outpouring, of "power from on high" (D&C 84:20-21; 105:11; 109:22, 26; cf. Luke 24:49). Participants in white temple clothing assemble in ordinance rooms to receive this instruction and participate in the unfolding drama of the Plan of Salvation. They are taught of premortal life; the spiritual and temporal creation; the advent of Adam and Eve, and their transgression and expulsion into the harsh contrasts of the mortal probation; the laws and ordinances required for reconciliation through the Atonement of Christ; and a return to the presence of God. The Endowment is a series of symbols of these vast spiritual realities, to be received only by the committed and spiritual-minded (TPJS, p. 237; see also Temples: Meanings and Functions of Temples). "All the ordinances," wrote Heber C. Kimball, "are signs of things in the heavens. Everything we see here is typical of what will be hereafter" ("Address to My Children," unpublished). The Endowment increases one's spiritual power, based in part "on enlarged knowledge and intelligence—a power from on high, of a quality with God's own power" (Widtsoe, 1921, p. 55; Widtsoe, 1939, p. 335; see also Endowment).

During the Endowment, solemn covenants are made pertaining to truthfulness, purity, righteous service, and devotion. In this way, the temple is the locus of consecration to the teaching of the law and the prophets and to the ways of God and his Son. One does not assume such covenants lightly. Modern commandments relating to temple building have been addressed to those "who know their hearts are honest, and are broken, and their spirits contrite, and are willing to observe their covenants by sacrifice—yea, every sacrifice which I, the Lord, shall command" (D&C 97:8-9). As with Abraham of old, latter-day revelation says that to obtain "the keys of the kingdom of an endless life" one must be willing to sacrifice all earthly things (TPJS, p. 322).

Before taking these solemn vows, new converts prepare for at least a year after baptism. Missionaries typically receive the temple blessings prior to their service. Couples receive them on, shortly before, or sometimes well in advance of the day of their temple marriage.

This order of instruction and covenant making culminates in the celestial room, which represents the highest degree of heaven, a return to the presence of God, a place of exquisite beauty and serenity, where one may feel and meditate "in the beauty of holiness" (Ps. 29:2). Communal sensitivity in the presence of like-dedicated and like-experienced loved ones enhances deep fellowship. The temple is "a house of glory" and "a place of thanksgiving for all saints" (D&C 88:119; 97:13).

SEALING OF FAMILIES. Only after patrons make these unconditional covenants with and through Jesus Christ may they receive "the most glorious ordinances of the temple," the covenants of marriage and family sealing (Widtsoe, 1937, p. 128). Marriage and sealing covenants are performed in temple sealing rooms convenient to the celestial room. Officiators and close family and friends often attend the couple. Kneeling opposite each other at the altar, the bride and groom are placed under mutual covenants to each other, and are married through the sealing power of Jesus Christ; their children will thus be born in the covenant, and the family kingdom will become a nucleus of heaven. If the couple has been previously married under secular authority and now has children, the husband and wife are sealed in the temple under the new and everlasting covenant and their children are then brought to the altar and are sealed to them. All subsequent children born to this family are born in the covenant. By apostolic authority, the blessings of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob are explicitly invoked upon all marriages and sealings. It is envisioned that eventually further sealings will link all the couple's progenitors and all of their descendants in an unbroken chain. Thus, divine parenthood is imaged on earth. The saintly life is not in renunciation but in glorification of the family. The quest for happiness and completeness within the marital state is transformed from the banal and temporary toward the divine and eternal.

SEALING OF ADOPTED CHILDREN. If a couple elects to adopt children, those children are brought to the temple for a ceremony of sealing to their adoptive parents just as children born to them may be sealed.

PROXY ORDINANCES. All temple ordinances, beginning with baptism, may be performed by proxy for persons who died not having the opportunity to receive them for themselves.

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