Friday, February 28, 2014

The Lord Answers Prayers

And, as it is written—Whatsoever ye shall ask in faith, 
being united in prayer according to my command, ye shall receive. 
(D&C Section 29:6)

We're getting buckets of rain today, and I'm so happy.  I thought you might enjoy the article from the Church News about our fast for an end to the drought.  God does hear and answer prayers.
The City of Glendora California, on the edge of January's burn zone, prepares for flooding
Photo: Reed Saxon, AP
California Mormons and neighbors fast and pray during drought, receive rain
By Jason Swensen, Church News staff writer
Published: Monday, Feb. 24 2014 2:05 p.m. MST
Updated: Monday, Feb. 24 2014 3:03 p.m. MST

The prophet Isaiah taught, “And the Lord shall guide thee continually, and satisfy thy soul in drought…and thou shalt be like a watered garden, and like a spring of water, whose waters fail not.” (Isaiah 58:6,7, 9, 11.)

Those divine words of comfort — written long, long ago — have taken on new, contemporary relevance for many California Latter-day Saints and their neighbors.

In recent years the “Golden State” could be aptly renamed the “Bone Dry State.”

An ongoing drought in California has been called the worst in state history. The governor recently declared a drought emergency. Reservoirs have dropped to frighteningly low levels. And local farmers have been left to wonder if there will be sufficient water to sustain tens of thousands of acres of thirsty crops.

The impact and reach of the historic drought stretches far beyond the state line. Much of the nation’s fruits, vegetables and other agricultural goods are, of course, produced in California.

Weather forecasts in the early days of 2014 offered little promise of significant moisture — so members recently came together in prayer and fasting to humbly petition the Lord for rain.

After gaining approval, local priesthood leaders of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in California organized a special fast and day of prayer for Sunday, Feb. 2.

The special fast was not limited to LDS congregations. Stake presidents, bishops, local Relief Society leaders and rank-and-file members reached out to their neighbors and other religious groups, inviting one and all to join their fast and prayer for moisture.

Many say they then witnessed a miracle. In some parts of California, the rain started to fall even as Latter-day Saints worshiped together during their Sabbath-day fast and testimony meetings. Then the rainfall continued in many more areas for several days.

A TV weatherman shows our rainfall
I'd give a photo credit, but I have no idea where this came from.  It may be from NBC.
California won’t emerge from drought any time soon. Extended periods of snow or rain are needed to replenish reservoirs and waterways and put farmers and civic leaders at ease. But the recent, unexpected rainfall did provide precious moisture — and an equal measure of faith-building hope to the many who fasted and prayed.

“It has been a sweet experience,” said Elder Zachary Smith, an Area Seventy. “In the days following the fast there were significant amounts of rain in many parts of California.”

Elder Smith is an attorney who specializes in water issues facing the state’s farm-rich Central Valley. His professional duties have offered him a sobering perspective of the dire situation in California. Local meteorologists, he said, had projected continued parched weather.

“Their forecasts were quite contrary to the rain we received after the fast.”

Elder Robert Packer, an Area Seventy, said he and many others witnessed the hand of the Lord in the days following the special fast. Several weeks ago, a high-pressure ridge had settled off the coast of northern California and prevented rain clouds from moving into the dry inland regions.

“But on the second of February — the day of the fast — that high pressure ridge lifted,” he said.

The rains in many areas of northern California began to fall and continued throughout the next week.

“The Lord did listen to our prayers and we were very grateful.”

Local priesthood leaders also told the Church News they will never forget the support that the day of fasting and prayer received from others in their community.
Morgan Hill California Stake President Steven C. Merrill invited members of his Rotary Club to join. Many immediately accepted his invitation. “The response from the community was great,” he said.

Meanwhile, President Robert L. Davis, who presides over the Laguna Niguel California Stake, delivered letters to local clergy members inviting them and their congregants to join with Latter-day Saints “in a special fast and day of prayer to petition the heavens for moisture.”

Such prayerful unity “was a great experience,” he said.

The Storm image as of today, Friday, February 28th
Photo: NOAA
Menlo Park California Stake President Dow Wilson commented on the remarkable spirit that could be felt on the day of the special fast as folks of all backgrounds joined in prayer and asked their Heavenly Father for the blessing of rain.

“There was a great sense [of] purpose felt between the Latter-day Saints and the rest of our community,” he said.

Elder W. Mark Bassett, an Area Seventy who lives near Sacramento, shared a sentiment offered by many local priesthood leaders: the blessings of the special fast extend far beyond rainfall and reservoir levels.

Elder Bassett began his fast by kneeling in prayer with his two young sons. The rain began to fall a short time later — and each of the Bassett boys witnessed, firsthand, the power of fasting and prayer.

Rainfall may have been the desired result of the day. “But the reality of the miracle,” said Elder Bassett, “is that our Heavenly Father listens to His people.”

Thursday, February 27, 2014


Photo from
RAIN..  I'd almost forgotten what it felt like.  Last night we received an inch of rain here in the Los Angeles area.  That's huge.  That's more rain than we received all last year combined!

You see, we're in a drought situation here in California.  It's been very dry these past three years, and it's starting to take its toll on agriculture here in the state.

That's a bad thing.  California's agriculture feeds a great chunk of the United States.

Well, Sunday, February 2nd, Mormons all over the State of California joined together for a special day of prayer and fasting, calling upon God to please end the drought.

Immediately following that, there began to be storms in the northern part of the State.  Now, we're finally seeing some moisture, with lots more rain predicted in the 10-day forecast.

Simply put: prayer works.

I know it will take more than a couple of inches of rain to end the drought, but we're on the right track.  With God's help, we'll get the moisture that we need.

Now, we can worry about flooding and mud slides in the burn areas from last month's fires..  Yup, that's the calamity cycle here in Southern California:  drought-fires-flooding-mud slides... and somewhere in there, earthquakes.  It's year round excitement.

Stay tuned!

 Photo from OSU blog site

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Sweet Doggies

Julie and Josie
 Have you ever tried to get a happy, wiggly dog to pose and smile for the camera?

C'mon girl!  Smile!
We tried it not too long ago up at my friend's place in North Hills.  They have two dogs, Josie and Holly Berry.

Julie tried very hard to get her canine friend Josie to pose properly for a good picture.

It was a lost cause from the beginning!

Close!  We're getting there!
The problem was, Josie was just so happy to see us and have some one-on-one time with her friend Julie, that it was impossible to get her to stand still and pose!

She had lots and lots of wiggles!

Now, just lift your head up!
We tried.  We really did.

No, wrong way, Josie!
But no matter what we did, Josie wouldn't cooperate.  She was just so full of excitement and happiness at seeing her friends.

There's our girl!
We came close, though, a few times!

I like Josie.  She's a great dog.

In the meantime, her adopted sister Holly Berry posed beautifully.

Holly and her human Mommy Jackie
Holly is very shy and timid around other people, but she was very happy to see us, too.  She just preferred to sit close to her mom and enjoy the moment from afar.

So, what kind of a personality are you when you are very happy?  Do you get all wiggly and excited?  Or do you sit quietly and savor the moment?

Please note that both of these beautiful and loving animals were rescues 
who were adopted from a shelter. 
Please spay and neuter your pets!  
Please adopt from caring, local shelters instead of puppy mills!

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Princess Livia

Her Royal Highness, the Princess of Ottawa
My nephew recently posted some photos of his daughter, Livia, that reminded me so much of the Audrey Hepburn film classic Roman Holiday, that I had to share with you!

Do you remember the story?

The young princess is on a tour of Europe and is exhausted from a life of all work and no play.  While in Rome, she manages to escape the confines of the castle and is able to spend a couple of days being an ordinary girl.

Along the way she is helped by a journalist, played in the film by Gregory Peck.  He takes her off on a wild motorcycle ride!
Livia and her brother recreating a scene from the film
Of course, the Princess finally has to return to her real life.  She holds a press conference to say how much she has enjoyed visiting Rome.

Okay, so it wasn't actually a press conference.
Livia is singing her rendition of "Old MacDonald" in this photo!
Our little two year-old pumpkin is quite the actress!  Don't you think?

Heavy hangs the head that wears the crown!

Monday, February 24, 2014

Sligo Abbey

The Abbey at dusk

At the center of the town of Sligo, Ireland, sits the Sligo Abbey.

This Abbey was founded in the mid-13th Century (1253, to be exact!) by a man named Maurice Fitzgerald. Now there's an Irish name for you!

The Abbey was a Dominican Friary back in the day.  Now, it's mostly a ruin.  It was accidentally destroyed by fire in 1414 and then rebuilt.  Later, when British soldiers sacked the town in 1642, it was again burned to the ground.  This time everything of value inside was destroyed.

A great deal of the stone structure remains, including the choir, a carved altar and the cloisters.

According to an Irish Heritage site, the Abbey contains a "great wealth of carvings".  This includes both Gothic and Renaissance tomb sculptures and stonework.

The Cloister is fairly well preserved
There is a sculptured high altar which dates from the 15th century, which is one of the few of its kind to survive.

Author Bram Stoker's mother came from Sligo.  According to legend, he used her ghost stories about the structure as part of the basis for his well-known novel, Dracula!

In 1952 they put up a plaque (see above) to commemorate the Abbey's 700 year anniversary.  It's going on 800 years soon!

Our forefathers built for the future, didn't they?  I'll venture a guess not many of the buildings from our century will still be standing in 762 years!

Friday, February 21, 2014

Jack Still Loves His Banana

Jack and his catnip banana
Hi.  I'm Jack.  I live with my mom.  I love my banana.  Mom says it's full of stuff called 'catnip'.  It smells really good.  I lick it and play with it a LOT.

Getting distracted by somebody at the door!

I don't always play with my banana toy.

Sometimes I just hang out with mom.  We've been watching the Olympics!  I like to cuddle up in the afghan on top of the couch and just hang.

I'm a chill California dude that way.

Just hanging out with mom watching the Olympics
But, then I get tired of watching TV and want to play some more.

My Aunt Jackie gave me my toy because we have names that are alike!  She loves me.  She and my Aunt Maura saved me from a very short life on the mean streets.

I like my banana toy
I'm a lucky kid.

Have a great weekend everyone!

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Hearts and Memories

The dance floor was full all night long
Ever go to a party and come home saying, "that was the best time I've had in a very long time!"?  Well, Saturday night was one of those nights.

The Whittier Stake hosted a Valentine's Dance, titled "Heart and Memories" and, judging by how many people attended and how full the dance floor was, it was a complete success.

By the way, a "Stake" is made up of several congregations, or wards.  It is similar to a Diocese.  Whittier Stake covers the entire city of Whittier, California.

The idea for the dance came from our Stake President, President Powell.  He remembered the dances the Stake used to put on years ago.  He had fond memories of those dances and asked himself why they didn't do that anymore?

Amy McKeon put together the lovely decorations
So, President Powell spearheaded a movement to host an adult dance for Valentine's Day - one that could be enjoyed by everyone, regardless of whether or not they could dance.

He succeeded very well.

The Singles' Ward performed an energetic swing dance number
Putting together a program that would include everyone over the age of 18 wasn't too difficult.  It included starting the evening with a DJ playing 1940s dance music for the older folks, then revving things up with an outstanding live band, The Imposters, who performed hits from the 50s, 60s and 70s.  They played everything from the Beatles, to Chuck Berry, to Santana.

They were great!

The Singles' Ward swing dancers were fun to watch
Interspersed with the dance numbers throughout the evening were musical numbers of all kinds.  It was highly entertaining and a great deal of fun.

The Mar Vista Singles' Ward evidently has many members who go Swing dancing on a regular basis.  Their contribution to the evening was a lively Swing dance number.  Those kids could really rock!

Mary Beth and Bishop Dan
We had a great turn-out from our Ward.  I attended together with several older singles.  Once there, we hooked up with others from our ward.  We had a lively table, and the menfolk generously danced with all the single ladies there.

We had so much fun!

Evangeline and Deonne
We saw lots of folks there that I haven't seen in a very long time.  Mercy and Bob came from Chino.  They used to live in the Stake and knew many people there.

The Garcias and Mary Beth
The nice thing about the evening was how everyone let loose and danced and laughed and really enjoyed themselves.  That's a rare thing, I think.  Just seeing the dance floor continually filled was really fun.

Randy and Bishop Patrick
I was told that Amy's crew had set up chairs and tables to seat 220 people.  These were all filled.  At one point in the evening, Evangeline and I agreed there had to be at least 400 people attending!

Jerry and Ellen
As the band played oldies, Jerry played air piano and we sang along doing hand jives.  I laughed a lot!

The Harmonics
A singing group from from the Santa Gertrudes Ward called the Harmonics performed several numbers, including a few hits by the Temptations.  They ended with a heartfelt rendition of "You Are So Beautiful", appropriately dedicated to all the ladies attending.  They were really good!

I only wished I'd been able to take better photos of the event.  I was severely limited by the low light conditions and my lack of good photographic equipment.  I've fixed a few of the photos in Photoshop, but there is a limit!  

Evangeline cuts a rug with her handsome grandson, Christopher
Another really fun aspect of the evening was that it crossed over all age groups.  We had the 18 yr-old kids there from the Singles' Ward - and the gray-haired oldsters - and everyone in between.  It really was fun to see.

The Salsa Performers
At one point in the evening, we were treated to a Salsa dance exhibition.  This couple was good, too!  I believe they were from the La Esperanza Ward, but I may be wrong.  They had the moves, though.  I felt like I was watching a professional dance team.

Doing the Salsa
There was also a fun Hip-Hop performance by the young people from the Rio Hondo Ward.  They lent some humor, and gymnastic ability to the evening with their dance number.

Rio Hondo Ward performing their Hip-Hop number
 The Hop-Hop group had some imaginative choreography, which played to the strengths of the group.

Rio Hondo strutting their stuff
Refreshment tables, set up in the patio just off the cultural hall, had all kinds of finger foods - raw veggies, huge bowls of fruit, chips and dips, brownies, cookies and bite-size cheesecakes were some of the things I saw there.  I found some cream puffs filled with ice cream that were really yummy.  There was also a fruit punch and ice water for those who got dehydrated from all that dancing.

What a fun night!  I actually danced - more than once!  I mean, who can hear Wooly Bully performed and not get up and shake a leg!

I repeat, I can't remember the last time I had such a good time.  

Thanks, President Powell.  Ya done good.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Be My Valentine?

My niece-in-law, Holly, made a delicious cake for Valentine's Day!
Up in the wilds of Canada, my nephew and his family celebrated a happy Valentine's Day on Friday. Mmmm.  Chocolate Cake.  Looks pretty good!

Fred and Livia enjoy their Valentine's day cake with their Mommy

Livia is doing a good job with that fork!

So is Fred.  He looks quite intent on eating his slice!

Afterwards, Fred decided to make his own Valentine's Day cake from Play-doh!

Looks pretty good!
He also fashioned some Angry Birds to go with it!

Angry Play-doh Birds.
I think Fred did a great job with the Play-doh.  He and his little sister can be my Valentines any day of the year!

Hope your Valentine's Day was a lot of fun and included some chocolate, too!