Joining the Conversation Series

As I’ve mentioned in past posts, as well as on my page ‘About My Blog Topic’, the brethren and other LDS church leaders are increasingly encouraging us as members of the church to join the online conversation. Indeed, it is exciting to hear and see of some of the ways that members of the church are embracing this challenge and harnessing many of these online technologies (see the end of this post for some examples of this).

Elder M. Russell Ballard, in 2007, described these online tools as the modern day printing press. He states, “The Internet allows everyone to be a publisher, to have his or her voice heard, and it is revolutionizing society” (“Sharing The Gospel Using the Internet”). We only have to look at the LDS Church as an example to see the means by which it has harnessed these new media technologies:

When you think upon the printing press analogy, you may recognise the momentous impact that these new media technologies can have on the world at large. I love history, so for me, understanding that these new technologies can assist in bringing many people out of spiritual darkness, just as the printing press did in the 13th Century, and offer something  they have never had access to before, excites me. I see it as a tool for a reformation of many things spiritual.

These new media channels, such as social network sites, blogs, vlogs, tweets, and interactive websites, are now becoming available to use by the average ‘Joe’ and ‘Jane’. At least, we can share ideas, opinions and stories that may be of interest to the world. At best, we can use them to further progress the Lords work here on earth, and help dispel the false information that is being so readily published.

For many of us this can be scary. For me, a student of the Internet even, it is daunting to say the least, but if we are prepared it can offer some wonderful opportunities for each of us to share our story in an honest, personal, and loving way. “…if ye are prepared, ye shall not fear.” D&C 38:30

Most recently, Elder L. Whitney Clayton, of the Presidency of the Seventy (see my post ‘Advice on Representing the Church’), encouraged all members of the church to tell their story. In this discussion he recognises that it may not come naturally to many of us; we may need to work on it. Elder Clayton suggests two very important things we can do to prepare:

  1. Be well informed
  2. Be friendly

The purpose of this series is to assist you in being prepared by understanding the in’s and out’s of using the Internet as a means of sharing your story. Part of being well informed not only includes being informed about your subject (the gospel, which is worthy of a series of its own), but also being well informed about the safest and easiest ways of navigating this great space, the best way to share your story, what to share, and skills and ideas needed to deal with different situations that arise.

For this purpose, the ‘Joining the Conversation’ series will be divided into four parts:

  1. Online Privacy and Identity Protection
  2. How to Share Your Story
  3. What to Share
  4. Handling Difficult Situations

Each week, for the next four weeks, I will share a new part from this series. I encourage each of you to explore the suggestions and resources offered here. We can all participate in the work of the Lord in our own unique way.

Please feel free to make suggestions, corrections, or comments where you feel the need. But, for some, this blog may be an opportunity to simply dip your toes a little further into the  waters of the World Wide Web.

So, come on in, the water is fine 🙂

Examples of how some LDS members have joined the conversation:

If you have any other LDS blogs, vlogs or websites, that fit within the terms ‘Joining the Conversation’, that you would like to share then please do so below.

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Cutting the Ties

Some of Susan's Ties

As Elder ‘T’ stood to give his farewell talk just before entering the MTC, you would have been forgiven for thinking that he brought with him his own personal cheer squad. Sitting in the congregation were four of his friends, all sporting the same colour tie as him. These were just five of the 13 ties that Elder ‘T’s’ mum had made he and his friends while he was studying at BYU-I.

But this was not just a quirky display of solidarity for a newly called missionary.  For Susan Bever, it was the only way she could think to support her missionary son as he dedicated the next two years of his life to the Lord.

After losing her job, and with no means of a steady income, Susan determined to find a creative way to help support him. When discussing her situation with her sister one day, and knowing that her son was about to submit his mission papers, it was suggested that she give tie-making a go.

Having been a seamstress for much of her life, Susan felt confident that this could be the opportunity she was looking for. She declared, “I couldn’t make a financial commitment, because I didn’t have the income to make it… the purchase of a piece of fabric was about all I could do.”

Elder ‘T’, sporting a new tie, and ready to serve…

The term cutting the ties took on new meaning for Susan as she bid her son farewell. Since August 2010, when her son entered the Provo MTC, she has cut, sewn, and sent him at least 3 ties per month; and estimates that by the end of his mission he will have received close to 200 ties.

Not all of them end up around his neck tho’. Elder ‘T’ generously shares some with fellow missionaries, and many of his investigators. When this happens, Susan simply gets back to cutting and sewing some more.

But this is not the extent of her commitment. Susan is determined to share her tie-making talents both at home, and across the globe. She makes ties for many of the missionaries serving around the world from her own ward, as well as sharing them with missionaries serving near to where she lives. It is her way of showing support for not only her missionary son, but for dozens of other ‘s as they spread the gospel.

Recently, through the LDS Missionary Mom’s Email group, Susan offered to trace, cut out, and mail several tie patterns for any of the missionary mum’s who might like to sew a tie for their serving missionary. Each pattern was traced by hand, tailored to measure the individual missionary, and mailed at her own expense (in my case, sent half way around the world to New Zealand).

Since making those first few ties for her son and his friends, she, and her sister Lois, have started up an online tie making business.  “All Tyed Up” gives you an idea of  the extent of her tie-making skills. Susan also suggests that if the tie you are looking for is not there, then it is only a phone-call or email away.

Elder ‘T’ shares one of his favourite tie’s – 8 inches wide!

If you are interested in purchasing a tie from All Tyed Up, then pop on over to Susan’s website and scroll through the huge range she has displayed there. Orders cannot be made through the website, but if you email Susan with your order or questions, she can make arrangements from there.

Some interesting facts about ties:

  1. Not all men are the same size and therefore can’t wear the same size tie – you have to make adjustments for both taller and shorter men. Susan has made a tie small enough for a child – a tiny 42” long, as well as a tie for a 7’7’’ tall man – a huge 78”.
  2. Ties can come in different widths, according to your preference.  Susan makes ties to order, anything from 1 ½ “ wide through to 4 ½” wide.
  3. Ties can be made with many types of fabrics including cotton, cotton-polyester blends, silk, satin, satin brocades, ultra suede, and denim – just about any material can be used.
  4. The only type of tie she would encourage missionaries not to wear are character ties – Spiderman, Pokemon, Little Mermaid etc. But as for which colours not to wear, according to her missionary son, “If she makes it, I will wear it”.
Thank you Susan for allowing me to share your inspiring story. We wish you and your son all the best as he prepares to return home in August.

There is an assortment of ways that we can be missionaries or, at least, support the missionary effort. We are all blessed with different talents and abilities, and it is up to us to find those talents and use them in the unique way that only we can.  Susan found her unique way.

I wonder if any of you have had a similar experience with something that you are passionate about? Please share with us here what your passion is, and how you see it as an opportunity to support the missionary effort.

Missionary work of a different kind

Over last weekend I was excited to be able to attend our Stake YWs camp. I use the word ‘camp’ loosely as we actually stayed in the dorms of the old CCNZ campus, within the shadow of the New Zealand Temple. But if any of you have been to Temple View you’ll agree with me when I say it is one of the most beautiful places to visit, and it certainly was the perfect setting for our YWs camp.

The blueprints for this event had been laid more than 15 months earlier, and was inspired, to say the least. Long before Elder Bednar’s Oct 2011 Conference talk ‘The Hearts of the Children Shall Turn’, our Stake YW Leaders had a vision for the YW.

That vision included each YW learning how to research her family tree, identifying 1-3 ancestors who needed their work completed, and bringing those names to the Temple. But this wasn’t the extent of our Stake leaders vision.

Over that 15 months of preparation they commissioned a local member and author, Sis. Pamela Reid, to write a novel.

Yes, that’s right, she wrote a book for our YW!

‘SARAH’

The story follows the life of a young Scottish girl in the late 1800s who, at the age of 17, travels across the seas from England to start a new life in New Zealand. To add context, the story is told through the eyes of a modern day YW who discovers her heritage as she reads the diary of this young traveller.

How amazing!

My girls were captivated by the narrative, which was released chapter by chapter through an online blog in the weeks leading up to the camp. The last three chapters where left for the camp, where each YW was presented with her own copy of the completed novel.

There were many moments during camp where noses were buried in the book to catch the end of the story.

As the YWs President in my ward, it was inspiring to hear my girls stand and bear their testimonies on the last day of camp, and to see their countenances as they came out of the Temple.

We have been told that we cannot be saved without our dead, so to see these young women work to bring the gospel to many of their ancestors was truly a time of salvation. This was their opportunity to do missionary work of a different kind.

I will finish with the words of Elder Bednar himself:

I invite the young people of the Church to learn about and experience the Spirit of Elijah. I encourage you to study, to search out your ancestors, and to prepare yourselves to perform proxy baptisms in the house of the Lord for your kindred dead (see D&C 124:28–36). And I urge you to help other people identify their family histories.