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|Ordinary Latter-day Saints|
Jul. 16th, 2008 at 7:09 pm
Boyd K. Packer a few years ago said, “Let no one underestimate the power of faith in the ordinary Latter-day Saints.” I wanted to write to tell you about some otherwise ordinary Latter-day Saints I know who are doing some extraordinary things. Several months ago, I through some business associations I met Ron and his daughter Shauna. I knew right away that they were great people, people who make me proud to be a fellow Latter-day Saint.
I know that we’ve spent plenty of time complaining about the Latter-day Saints, especially those in Utah, here. We complain that they are insular, self-centered, welfare cheats, racially insensitive, fond of dubious marketing schemes, and addicted to psychotropic drugs.
And yet there are also examples of Mormons who embody the best of our stated aspiration to follow the admonition of Paul, to seek after anything virtuous, lovely, of good report or praisworthy.
Some time ago ESO lamented that too few Mormons were entering the peace corps. I shared the lament, but in a comment mentioned that many members quietly were involved in humanitarian service initiatives, much of it without instigation from Church headquarters. Little did I know how quietly! Even though I already knew Ron and Shauna, I didn’t know about their charity, which they have modestly titled “In Our Own Quiet Way”.
Without having to be commanded in all things by Church leaders, they began an extrordinary effort, completely on their own initiative. While Ron was serving an LDS mission in Germany with his wife a few years ago, they met a new convert named Bernadine, the woman in the denim shirt in the picture above. She had already shown great courage and fortitude, having survived the ravages of disease that took her father and several other members of her family, and experiencing great opposition when she decided to join the Church. Ron and his wife met her as she was trying to raise money to admit her sister to get admitted to the hospital when she came down with malaria. This money came too late, and her sister died, but Bernadine’s courage inspired Ron and his family to see how they could help prevent further loss of life.
Partnering with Bernadine, they have adopted her hometown village and its surrounding areas. Each year they undertake various projects, including installing clean water projects, furthering education for the villagers, and microenterprise initiatives. Everything Bernadine and her friends do is based on the idea of helping people help themselves.
Ron asks, rhetorically, “Is this going to make a huge difference, with so much suffering in the world? No. Are we going to help all of Africa, or even a significant part of Kenya? No. But we are going to do what we can. We can at least make a difference for these people. What I love about this work is how much we can do with so little money, and Bernadine’s connection to the local culture makes sure none of our assistance goes to waste. It’s amazing what a huge difference a few hundred dollars can make.”
Now is when I ask you to help, if you can, in your own quiet way. My friends are trying to raise money for a medical mission in November. They have already recruited medical staff who have agreed to donate their time and amassed a great deal of donated medical equipment and supplies. As I write this, they are loading it onto a shipping container. But my friends need some help. They are trying to raise about $100,000 to pay for the shipping container and the travel expenses for the large medical team Shauna has assembled. With the economy where it is raising money has become more difficult.
If you live near American Fork, Utah, and you have young daughters, I invite you to their Princess Festival to be held next month. It will be lots of fun, and 100% of the proceeds will go to the charity, since all expenses and costs have been donated. And wherever you live, I invite you to donate and help them continue the great work they’re doing. Their organization is a fully accredited 503(c) non-profit organization and all donations are tax-deductible, from the U.S. at least. I’ve sent in my contribution. Will you join me?