Thursday, November 14, 2013

Taking Care of the Church Building

Before I throw away an old letter, I want to record one story from it, and I figured this would be the best place.
This is a picture of my great-grandparents and their family, taken in 1914. That would be Nels Peter Conrad Beckstrand and his wife Ida Lovisa Anderson Beckstrand and their seven children: Della, Vernard, Lillian, Ida, Elmer, Leonard and Olive. When our son was a deacon (in October 1998), my mother wrote him a letter which included the following:

"I am pleased to hear about your new calling as the Deacon's Quorum President. Soon you will move out of the quorum when your birthday comes, so do a good job while you can. I like reading the pioneer stories of the work that the deacons did to help the wards. Hopefully your members are being effective in watching out for the temporal needs of the ward. The deacons can help with the building upkeep. In the past, deacons kept the fires in the furnaces going, swept the building and walks, shoveled snow, and took care of the widows.

"Did you know that your great-great grandmother Beckstrand used to start the fires for the church building in Idaho? If they had several meetings going on the same day in different rooms she had more fireplaces or furnaces to keep going and to watch. She also washed the sacrament clothes and trays and cups. Remember, that was before the day of plastic and throw away paper. Winter time was especially a time of hard work. She was the custodian so was paid some money for the job."

Can you imagine how neat and clean our church buildings would be today if the deacons and other young men really fulfilled their responsibility like they did in the past?

I was going to add this as a story in Family Tree but found that another cousin had already added a much more complete biography for Ida Anderson Beckstrand. In that version, great-grandpa is the janitor, but I'm sure grandmother helped him. Here's the link so you can read it yourself: Ida Lovisa Anderson (click on the story box).

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

"Notwithstanding My Weakness"

I was trying to figure out how to remember some quotes I read this morning, and figured this would at least be a good starting place. I've been reading a conference talk each morning, and today's was Elder Scott's "Personal Strength through the Atonement of Jesus Christ." He talked a bit about the difference between sins and weaknesses, and how the Atonement can help us overcome both. The specific suggestions he mentioned at the end (making temple covenants, sharing the gospel, fulfilling church callings and being attentive to family members) all had the "common theme: fill your life with service to others" which fit in perfectly with our seminary lesson on Mosiah 2 today.

Then I came home and read a blog post on Diapers and Divinity talking about the same subject. Maybe it's something I need to hear today! Stephanie quoted and linked to a talk given by Elder Neal A. Maxwell many, many years ago, entitled "Notwithstanding My Weakness." The whole talk is wonderful, but the one line I want to remember is this:

"Feet are made to move forward—not backward!"

If we're moving in the right direction, we're making progress, however small it may seem at the time.