Tuesday, September 30, 2014

A World-Wide Sisterhood

Faithful Latter-day Saint Women gather for Conference in spite of the rain
Saturday, September 27th, Latter-day Saint women gathered all over the globe in a special Women's Conference, the second of its kind in this Dispensation.  Women and girls ages 8 and older were invited to participate in this event.

What can I say?  It was great.

I had to watch from my couch this time, as an illness kept me from attending at our Stake Center with the other women of Whitter.  I was so grateful for BYU-TV!  This broadcast brought such a great spirit into my home.

Accomplished women worthy of emulation
I love these women.  They are good women, and committed to the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  They are truly women worthy of emulation.

I love getting together with the good ladies of our Whittier Stake, too.  I missed out on that this time. We always have a great time together.

This broadcast was unique in that, in addition to the lovely choir in the Conference Center, there was also a children's choir that performed from Korea.  There was also a beautiful video segment with women from all over the world bearing testimony of the power and importance of the Lord's Temples in their lives.

Their messages were powerful, timely, and extremely touching.

This wonderful choir of moms and daughters performed
The choir that performed at the conference center consisted of a combined Primary, Young Women and Relief Society sisters from stakes in Magna, Hunter and Taylorsville, Utah.  The choir's wonderful renditions (I particularly enjoyed a hymn medley they performed) were lovely and uplifting.

You can hear them, and the beautiful Korean Children's choir, here:

Sister Neill F. Marriott
Second Counselor in the Young Women General Presidency
“Do you know how important you are? Every one of you — right now — is valuable and essential in Heavenly Father’s plan of salvation,” Sister Neill F. Marriott said when it was her turn to speak. “We have a work to do. We know the truth of the restored gospel. Are we ready to defend that truth? We need to live it; we need to share it. We must stand firm in our faith and lift our voices to proclaim true doctrine.”

Sister Jean A. Stevens
First Counselor in the Primary General Presidency
 Sister Jean Stevens spoke on the importance of making and keeping covenants.  "When daughters of God focus on the temple and on their sacred covenants, God is able to send blessings in personal and powerful ways," she said.

"If we are to receive all the blessings God so generously offers, our earthly path must lead to the temple," Sister Stevens reminded us.  "Temples are an expression of God's love.  He invites us all to come, learn of Him, feel His love and receive the priesthood ordinances necessary for eternal life with Him.  Each covenant is made one by one.  Every mighty change of heart matters to the Lord - and it will make all the difference to you."

President Linda K. Burton
Relief Society General President
Sister Linda K. Burton also spoke of the importance of the temple, but began with a reference to the parable of the 10 virgins as told by the Savior.

“Though this parable refers to being prepared for the Second Coming of our Savior, we could also liken it to being prepared for temple blessings, which can be like a spiritual feast for those who are well prepared.”

The parable, found in Matthew 25, recounts the story of five wise virgins and five foolish ones. The wise took oil in their vessels. The foolish had no oil and could not meet the bridegroom when he came.

Sister Burton told the congregation that as they consider the parable as a pattern for temple preparation, they must also consider the words of a latter-day prophet, who taught that the oil of spiritual preparedness cannot be shared.

“President Spencer W. Kimball helped clarify why the five wise young women could not share the oil in their lamps with those who were foolish when he said, ‘Attendance at sacrament meetings adds oil to our lamps, drop by drop over the years. Fasting, family prayer, home teaching, control of bodily appetites, preaching the gospel, studying the scriptures – each act of dedication and obedience is a drop added to our store. Deeds of kindness, payment of offerings and tithes, chaste thought and actions … these, too, contribute importantly to the oil with which we can at midnight refuel our exhausted lamps.’ ”

The Parable of the Ten Virgins

“We are reminded in the Bible Dictionary, ‘Only the home can compare with the temple in sacredness,’” she said. “Do our homes or apartments fit that description? … It may be worthwhile for us to check ourselves now and then to make sure our homes are places we are prepared to feel the Spirit. As we prepare our homes to be places where the Spirit is welcome, we will be prepared to feel more at home when we enter the House of the Lord.”

Sister Burton said because Latter-day Saints come to the temple to receive eternal blessings, it should not surprise them that a higher standard is required to qualify for those blessings.

Sister Burton added, “Can you see the pattern of preparedness — drop by drop — that can help us as we think how we might be more diligent in our preparation to receive sacred ordinances for ourselves and others? What other small and simple things might we do to add precious spiritual drops of oil to our lamps of preparation?”

The Los Angeles Temple
She said personal worthiness is an essential requirement to enjoy the blessings of the temple.

“World-class athletes and university doctoral students spend hours and days and weeks and months and even years of preparation,” she said. “Daily drops of preparation are required of them to come out on top. Likewise, those who wish to qualify for exaltation in the celestial kingdom are expected to live a higher standard of obedience that comes by practicing the virtue of obedience day by day and drop by drop.”

"Those who wish to qualify for exaltation in the celestial kingdom are expected to live a higher standard of obedience that comes by practicing the virtue of obedience day by day and drop by drop," she said.

President Uchtdorf of the First Presidency was the final speaker.  He always has special messages for the women of the Church.

President Dieter F. Uchtdorf
of the First Presidency
"...Live the gospel joyful," President Uchtdorf challenged us.  “Heavenly Father is constantly raining blessings upon us. It is our fear, doubt, and sin that, like an umbrella, block these blessings from reaching us.”

He reminded us that we need to trust in the saving power of Jesus Christ and keep His laws and commandments.

To watch this wonderful meeting yourself (whole, or in parts!) on-line, go to: 

Print versions will also be available on-line through LDS.org by Wednesday.

-all photos from the Deseret News or LDS.org website

Monday, September 29, 2014

Spending a Day With Mickey and Friends

A few weeks ago, Mickey invited me and a few of my friends for a tour of the Disney Studios in Burbank.  Regular tours are not given to the public here, so this was a very special invitation!

Checking in at the guard station
I was told when to report at the gate.  When I showed up, a guard had a name-tag all ready for me.

They completely mangled my name
I was supposed to meet the rest of my group at the company store.  So, I settled down to wait.

The Employee Store
It wasn't a difficult wait.  I loved the employee store!

These adorable Dalmation pups were for sale!
There was all kinds of Disney merchandise available.  It was a Disney fan's paradise.

Huge statues of the 7 Dwarves hold up the building
I was soon joined by my friends and our tour began.

The Walt Disney Studio was originally built in 1940 and started out with a simple, one-story white stucco building where animators, inkers and painters worked.  Walt and his brother Roy had their offices there, too.

Today, the studio covers about 44 acres and contains all kinds of buildings, including a streamlined animation center.  Walt wanted the Burbank Studio to be a workers' paradise, and it is!  In addition to having its own telephone lines, fire hydrants and roads, the studio boasts large lawns, with baseball and volleyball courts too!

Back in the 40s and 50s, there were all kinds of sets where live action films and television programs were filmed.  Many of the "backlot" sets have since been destroyed to make way for office space.

Julie Andrews and I are nearly a match!
According to their website, recent construction includes a new Feature Animation Building and administration buildings.  Since Disney purchased ABC, a new ABC building was constructed near the animation department.  A bridge spanning Riverside Drive helps to link the new additions (which are located across the street) to the Buena Vista lot that we visited.
I've heard that this statue of Walt and Mickey graces every park throughout the world
One of the very fun places on the property is the Disney Legends Plaza.  This plaza contains bronze plaques of the stars who helped make the Studio famous.  I slipped my hands into Julie Andrews' prints (see photo above) and was stunned to find them a nearly perfect match - with the exception of my weird, crooked little fingers!  That was fun.

Eva found Robin Williams' handprint

We got to poke around and look at all the celebrity prints.

Checking out the hand-prints while Disney gives us his blessing

Eva hanging out with Roy Disney and friend Minnie Mouse
Roy Disney, Walt's brother, was a huge part of the Disney Studio's success.  He never got any of the glory, however.

Hey Mickey!

Yours Truly enjoying the day

We wandered through the Animation Building afterwards and even ventured into the bowels of the earth to traverse a hidden underground passage to the Ink and Paint building.  Peggy pointed out that several scenes from one of our favorite TV shows, Alias, had been filmed down there!

A fortune in beautiful, framed animation art and cells lined the walls of each of these buildings.

This is an old map (maybe from the 1960s?) showing the lay-out of the studios
Quite a bit has changed since then.
As lunchtime grew near, we headed towards the commissary to chow down.  There were many different kinds of food choices!  I ended up getting carnitas tacos with rice and beans.  

A delicious lunch at the commissary
I loved the mural above the theatre.  Snow White was one of the first films I ever saw as a child.

This historic studio is literally where magic is made.  It has had a wonderful 60+ year history.  I hope it continues for many, many more!

We stopped for a group photo after our tour.

Chris, Lesley, Me, Eva and Peggy

This was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, and a lot of fun!  Thanks, Peggy!

Friday, September 26, 2014

Beverly Hills Bop

Lots of famous folks have passed through these doors!

Playing Tourist in Beverly Hills was fun with Eva and Peggy.

Take a second look - they're not alive!
We, of course, had to visit the famous Cupcake ATM machine!

Eva at the Cupcake ATM at Sprinkles, Beverly Hills
And then we went next door and got some refreshments:  ice cream, sorbet and mini-cupcakes.

Peggy and Eva getting at the cupcake place
It was VERY good!
Strawberry ice cream YUM

Peggy eating ice cream
I opted for the blood orange sorbet.  It was wonderful - tart and tangy.

Blood Orange Sorbet
They do a lot of blood orange flavored sodas and sorbets in Europe, but not so much here.  I miss that.

Not bad!
It's always fun to play tourist!

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Veronica's Day

This is adorable, isn't it?
As fate would have it, my co-worker Veronica - who, by the way, is also the famous Bianca's Aunt (see my post of 9/12/14) - shares a birthday with my mother.

Veronica got a surprise delivery at the office from her fiancé that day: a teddy bear made of flowers.

Beautiful Bride-to-be Veronica and her birthday loot
Okay.  It looked like a teddy bear to me.  She says it's supposed to be a dog, because she has a little tiny Chihuahua named Taco whom she loves very much.

In all honesty, the flower bear, er, doggy... is about twice the size of the actual dog, Taco.  Which I think is rather funny.

Veronica and Evan are getting married on Saturday.


Today is her last day at the office until after the Honeymoon.  She has been remarkably calm about the wedding.

So. Far.

As the day wears on, all bets are off.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Laurel Canyon

Los Angeles
I don't often get to drive up Laurel Canyon.  When one lives in the area, it's just not something you do often.  However, when playing tourist guide it's different!

Peggy and Eva looking out over Burbank
The views from up on top are fantastic, and there are several View Turn-outs so you can park and enjoy the beautiful vistas.

Peggy pointing to where Eva was staying across the valley
I know there are famous people who live up this canyon, but I wouldn't want to live there!  The houses are secluded, but the traffic is horrendous.

A shot of L.A.in the distance as we round a bend
You do get an appreciation for how huge this city is - how Los Angeles proper and a hundred little cities have just mushed into one big mass of humanity.

I believe the native Indians used to call this the "Valley of Smokes", because with the sea on the one side, and the mountains on the other, the basin tends to trap smoke, dust and particulates.

It was very hot the day we did this bit of sight-seeing, and very smoggy.

A very HOT and SMOGGY day in Los Angeles
In spite of the heat and smog, it was fun to get up on the mountain for a fresh perspective of life in Los Angeles!

Monday, September 22, 2014

Teen Princess

Beverly, looking like a Disney Princess

I had never been to a Quinceañera before.

In case you don't know, a Quinceañera is the traditional Hispanic "Coming Out" party for a young girl on her 15th birthday.  

This was a special night.  Beverly was dressed like a princess in pink and her party was a really fun party!

There was a meal served, and all kinds of tasty things to eat and drink.  I came with my friend Evangeline and we thoroughly enjoyed ourselves.

A lovely photo of Beverly sat at the guest book

Evangeline, Mark and Amy were at my table
Ellen and Janice sat right behind us
There were so many people there!

There was a Mexican crooner on hand to wow the crowd
The music was good.  The entertainer had a lovely voice.

The place was packed!
(This is just a small portion of the hall where the festivities took place.)
One of the highlights of the evening, for me, was the daddy-daughter dance.  I didn't know that Beverly's dad was such a smooth dancer!

Their performance was so nice.  It tugged at my heartstrings.  My own father passed away many years ago.  I found myself missing him.

After that, the floor was available for everyone to dance.

My friend Laurel was there.  She had a time keeping up with her little grandson, Noah.  He's a "terrible" two!  Don't get me wrong, he's adorable, but his energy is astounding and matched only by his curiosity for the world.  He moves FAST, and he was everywhere.  His favorite spot was on stage with the DJ.

Laurel's grandson Noah kept wanting to perform too
Beverly changed clothes during one portion of the evening, and she and her dad did another dance routine - a more modern one.  That was fun!
Beverly and her dad bustin' loose!
After that, Beverly, together with her sisters and their friends - all very beautiful young women - put on a fun dance number for us all.

My camera battery chose that time to die.  Dang!  I wanted to get a photo of them, too!  It ended up that the only photo I got of all of them just shows their backsides!  (Sorry, girls!)

Beverly surrounded by her sisters and girlfriends
All night long, photographers went through the crowd, taking photos of everyone with the birthday girl.  It was certainly a night for Beverly to remember.

Glenn and Angie with the birthday girl
 (see this blog's series on their 25th wedding anniversary trip to Europe in August)
This was such a fun evening!

Happy 15th Birthday, Beverly!