Tag Archives: Living Water

Answers Of Courage From Unexpected Sources

"Without courage, all other virtues lose their meaning." --Winston Churchill

“Without courage, all other virtues lose their meaning.” (Click on image to enlarge)

Sometimes, we ask why life doesn’t turn out the way we expect.

Or for any topic, sometimes, the answers available to us have little or nothing to do with the answers we want.

It’s times such as this that test our mettle. What we do at times like this can determine our level of courage.

Esther, Queen of Persia, decided to show courage at such a time as this:

Watch/download on Mormon Channel or via YouTube below:

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WebCredits—List of web resources used in this post but not explicitly credited above:

  • Header image, “Courage”, www. lds. org/media-library/video/2013-03-004-courage?lang=eng
  • Photo, “Without courage, all other virtues lose their meaning”, quote from Winston Churchill, British Prime Minister, www. slideshare.net/ssuser63877e/famous-quotation-the-courage
  • Painting credit, “Queen Esther”, by Minerva Teichert (1888-1976), www. lds.org/media-library/images/queen-esther-old-testament-792485?lang=eng.

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Esther, Queen Of Persia, Book Of Esther, Old Testament, Holy Bible

Esther, Queen Of Persia, Book Of Esther, Old Testament, Holy Bible

Heroes, Superpowers, and Kindness

When I think of superheroes, I think of Maren Halversen.

We don't have to agree on anything to be kind to one anotherI am lucky to have learned from a leader in kindness. Maren was a friend in high school. Down Syndrome never kept her from trying anything. She was the first student with Down Syndrome in the state to have been integrated into the regular school system. When I moved to her school in 8th Grade, I was young and awkward. I remember that she always said hi to me. Maren always gave me good reasons to be kind.

At our 10-year high school reunion, Maren saw me from a distance and came running up and threw her arms around me. It was fun to introduce her to my wife. But it wasn’t until later as I reflected on the reunion moment that I recognized the real lesson at work here—that all along, Maren had been the leader. She had taught me to be kind. She had taught all of us well, and we had been following her lead. Why did I think that it might be the other way around? I was glad that I finally learned to see with better eyes than that. And, again, as I reflect now on that reunion moment and the strength behind her hug, I hope that—maybe, possibly—that I saw with better eyes than that even back in high school. After the reunion moment, I think that I simply had finally learned to recognize it. Again, Maren had lead me to that point.

As we all celebrate other reunions, I hope we take time to see and to recognize the real leaders in our lives. So often, they are not the ones clamoring for attention. So often, true leaders simply lead quietly, maybe even without realizing it. As Maren did. I think that was her superpower.

We can all be superheroes. What is your superpower?

The Superpower Of Listening Closely

The Superpower Of Listening Closely

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WebCredits—List of web resources used in this post but not explicitly credited above:

  • Header photo, “Children Playing Around The World: In Vietnam, a small girl helps another to ride a bike by leading from behind”—expofotomiami.org/30-magicas-fotografias-de-ninos-jugando-alrededor-del-mundo/
  • Photo, “We don’t have to agree on anything to be kind to one another”—Image with quote, from Twitter quote of Yahya Adel Ibrahim of Pemberton, Western Australia—twitter. com/yahya_ibrahim/status/587185223076487168
  • Photo, “The Superpower Of Listening Closely”—ldsmissionaries.com/tag/lds/page/13/
  • Photo, “Who Knew Reading Could Be A Superpower That Might Change Lives?”—ldsmissionaries.com/tag/lds/page/13/
  • Photo, “Young Man With Superpowers”—ldsmissionaries.com/tag/lds/page/13/

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Who Knew Reading Could Be A Superpower That Might Change Lives?

Who Knew Reading Could Be A Superpower That Might Change Lives?

Young Man With Superpowers

Young Man With Superpowers

Burning Lessons In The Brain: A Child’s Formative Years

The lessons learned in the home are those that last the longest.

Kid On TractorI grew up on a farm in Missouri, and many of my early lessons were about work. Mowing the fields by tractor took half a day, but it reduced the chiggers when we ran to the pond to swim each afternoon. We spent three hours each morning weeding the gardens; somehow, despite hating it, we learned that the painstaking care itself seemed to make the vegetables taste better. We’d sit in the yard for hours to shell peas, snap beans, or strip corn of the cob, and Mom would have us singing the whole time to pass the time faster. It was in the home that I learned the sweet rewards of self-imposed hard labor.

Dr. Glenn J. Doman wrote on the importance of creativity and breadth in early childhood experiences:

“The newborn child is almost an exact duplicate of an empty … computer, although superior to such a computer in almost every way. … What is placed in the child’s [mind] during the first eight years of life is probably there to stay. … If you put misinformation into his [mind] during [this period], it is extremely difficult to erase it.” Dr. Doman added that the most receptive age in human life is that of two or three years. [How to Teach Your Baby to Read, Dr. Glenn J. Doman, (1963), Pages 43-45.]

In an article entitled “A Day at the Beach”, Arthur Gordon tells how one of his early lessons was the importance of family time:

Swimming After The Work Is DoneWhen I was around thirteen and my brother ten, Father had promised to take us to the circus. But at lunchtime there was a phone call; some urgent business required his attention downtown. We braced ourselves for disappointment. Then we heard him say, “No, I won’t be down. It’ll have to wait.”

When he came back to the table, Mother smiled [and said,] “The circus keeps coming back, you know.”

“I know,” said Father. “But childhood doesn’t.” [A Touch of Wonder (1974), Pages 77-78.]

The blessings of starting early at home are real. Close families don’t emerge overnight. It takes work, and it’s all worth it—They grow up, take responsibility, and start families of their own. And by so doing, they learn some of the sweetest lessons life has to offer, such as, a child’s future is worth every sacrifice:

The hearth at home is the heart of learning. I’ve learned for myself that lasting lessons are learned at home.

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Life in the Woods at Henry David Thoreau's Walden Pond

Life In The Woods At Henry David Thoreau’s Walden Pond

Bonus Materials:

1. Gordon B. Hinckley stated

The home is the basis of a righteous life, and no other instrumentality can take its place nor fulfill its essential functions.

2. Read, watch or listen to Thomas S. Monson, “Constant Truths for Changing Times”, Apr 2005 LDS General Conference.

3. Read, watch or listen to Robert D. Hales, “Strengthening Families: Our Sacred Duty”, Apr 1999 LDS General Conference.

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WebCredits—List of web resources used in this post but not explicitly credited above:

  • Photo, kid on tractor—www. expeditionoklahoma.com/2011/04/
  • Photo, swimming after the work is done—www. expeditionoklahoma.com/2011/04/
  • Photo, “Life In The Woods At Henry David Thoreau’s Walden Pond”—From personal collection
  • Photo, “Make Way For Ducklings! And Kids!”—From personal collection

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Make Way for Ducklings! & kids!

Make Way For Ducklings! And Kids!

 

Come Now, And Let’s Listen Together

Listening

Listening

Exquisite—That’s what it was. One of the most meaningful talks I’ve ever listened to was the one Neal A. Maxwell delivered as he was sustained as an apostle, “Notwithstanding My Weakness.” General Conference is an important time for any member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, because we get to sit at the feet of a prophet and listen to the word of God. Like Mary of old, we want to choose “that good part”, and Elder Maxwell certainly helped us to do that. He spoke to anyone with recurring feelings of falling forever short. Maybe to each of us?

I was in the Missionary Training Center, getting ready to go to Argentina for two years to serve my mission. During General Conference, all of us missionaries wanted to take copious notes so that we might remember all of the wonderful ideas in these talks. Recordings were not generally available back then, and we knew that we’d be out of the United States by the time the text was available in the November 1976 Ensign. For Elder Maxwell‘s talk, after taking notes furiously for four or five minutes, wanting to retain quote after great quote, I paused to look around the room. All the other elders and sisters had already stopped trying to take notes and were just sitting there listening, hands and pens at rest, trying just to soak in the spirit of the rapid-fire, beautifully worded, carefully crafted text. It was like the lyrics of a song. I struggled for a bit longer to retain it all on paper, before I, too, gave up note-taking, rested my pen, and just sat and listened. It was an incredible moment for all of us. For weeks afterwards, nearly everyone said that their favorite moment in that General Conference was when they sat and feasted on Elder Maxwell‘s words, hands and fingers exhausted from trying to keep up. It was just sweet. Every time I re-read it, every time I listen to it yet again, I get emotional, just sitting — and remembering…

I invite you to read, watch or listen to the entire address from the October 1976 LDS General Conference. It is simply exquisite. It has something for all of us, and I hope you love it as much as I.

Putting The Fun In LDS General Conference

Putting The Fun In LDS General Conference

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Bonus Materials:

1. Great are the words of Isaiah, from which I take the title of this post: “Come now, and let us reason together…”

2. Article by Caleb Trujillo, “Come, Listen to a Prophet’s Voice”: http://www.byui.edu/pathway/news-index/come-listen-to-a-prophets-voice

Article by Caleb Trujillo, 'Come, Listen to a Prophet's Voice'

3. “Come, Listen to a Prophet’s Voice”, Mormon Tabernacle Choir:

4. LDS Hymn 21, “Come, Listen to a Prophet’s Voice”: https://www.lds.org/music/library/hymns/come-listen-to-a-prophets-voice?lang=eng

5. Thoughts and experiences of various people on this topic:

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WebCredits—List of web resources used in this post but not explicitly credited above:

  • Photo, “Listening”—nature. berkeley.edu/ucce50/ag-labor/7article/article40.htm
  • Photo, “Putting The Fun In LDS General Conference”—www. lds.org/media-library/images/conference-events/general-conference?lang=eng&start=41&end=80&order=
  • Photo, “Article by Caleb Trujillo, ‘Come, Listen to a Prophet’s Voice’ ”—www. byui.edu/pathway/news-index/come-listen-to-a-prophets-voice
  • Photo, Hemingway quote-Listen completely—izquotes.com/quote/82873 (Source/Notes:
    As quoted in: Ernest Hemingway: the man and his work, by John K. M. McCaffery, World Publishing Co., 1956)

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Hemingway quote-Listen completely

Safe And Secure Walls Around Us

What do you do in your family to develop strong young adults? Here’s what works for us…

"Great Wave Off Kanagawa", Hokusai (1829-32)

“Great Wave Off Kanagawa”, Hokusai (1829-32)

There is a tide in the affairs of men,
Which, taken at the flood, leads on to fortune;
Omitted, all the voyage of their life
Is bound in shallows and in miseries.
On such a full sea are we now afloat;
And we must take the current when it serves,
Or lose our ventures.
William Shakespeare
(Marcus Brutus in Julius Caesar, Act IV, Scene 3, lines 217-223.)

One of the first things a little child learns in swimming lessons is the importance of the wall on the side. When kids swim out into the pool, whenever they flounder, they can always come back to the safety and security of the wall.

Learning The Importance Of The Wall On The Side

Learning The Importance Of The Wall On The Side

No matter where they go or how scary the open water gets, the wall never moves. The wall is always there. Gospel standards, the words of the prophets, the commandments of Christ: All provide my family with the safety and constancy of the wall in the water of the pool. These standards give us the confidence that we can manage things just fine, even when we get in over our heads and the water runs deep.

“…the envy and wrath of man have been my common lot all the days of my life; … deep water is what I am wont to swim in.”
Joseph Smith

As my kids grew up, I knew that the unquestioning faith they had as children would be replaced by all the important questions of youth. As parents, Kim and I encouraged lots of intellectual exploring by reading widely, continually discussing and debating with our children. It helped that she and I are usually at opposite ends of any spectrum of opinion, so the kids grew up knowing the importance of disagreeing agreeably and of digging out answers that satisfied their individual concerns. But we united as parents as far as eternal truths are concerned, and it was important that our kids have confidence that they could get solid answers. They could get solid opinions from Mom and me, and they could get solid answers directly from God. It was especially important that they do so when it came to matters of faith, whether to live righteously, to keep commandments, to stay morally clean, or to follow the weightier matters of the law. When they were teenagers, we’d spend hours studying to master scriptures and to wrestle for gospel answers, making a game of it whenever possible. Bribing with Skittles candy made it fun — It was a game only when the kids felt it was fun. Tackle scripture chase, anyone?

In the process, our children learned not only to stand on their own but to fight for what they know is right. Generally speaking, they’ve made decisions worthy of any adult, even when they were teenagers. They continue to choose to keep their feet firmly planted on the strait and narrow path, teaching their families to do so as well.

What deep discussions have achieved really is pretty dang incredible – thoughtful gospel education has helped the young adults in our family to feel the right things. It allows them to take time out of their busy schedules, to rebuke the winds of change and to calm the sea of life. It gives them experience with spiritual feelings. It gives them experience with standing on their own.

“And he was in the hinder part of the ship, asleep on a pillow: and they awake him, and say unto him, Master, carest thou not that we perish?

“And he arose, and rebuked the wind, and said unto the sea, Peace, be still. And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm.”

Family Garden

Family Garden

The opportunity to experience and experiment with spiritual feelings is essential to my kids, both as teenagers and now as adults with families of their own,  as they come to know Christ and to learn the variety of ways by which He interacts with each of us.  This training of their spirit with eternal communication processes is enhanced as they have consistent experience repeatedly hearing the words of the Prophets.

“But unto him that keepeth my commandments I will give the mysteries of my kingdom, and the same shall be in him a well of living water, springing up unto everlasting life.”

I have learned for myself that these things not only bring me joy. They bring me safety and security.

Building Strong Young Adults

Building Strong Young Adults

“And he shall spread forth his hands in the midst of them, as he that swimmeth spreadeth forth his hands to swim: and he shall bring down their pride together with the spoils of their hands.”

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Elder Bednar on answers to every question and challenge:
“Acting in accordance with the teachings of the Savior invites spiritual power into our lives—power to hear and heed, power to discern, and power to persevere. Devoted discipleship is the best and only answer to every question and challenge.”
-David A. Bednar, Ensign, March 2014

The secret of strong young adults for our family? Start ’em young. Keep sharing with them what’s really important to you when they’re old. Works for us…

Still Sharing And Finding Safety And Security In The Wall

Still Sharing And Finding Safety And Security In The Wall

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Bonus Material:

1. A Change in Course: Watch the Hopf Family story. (Length: 4:06.)

2. An Incredible Meeting, an Answered Prayer: Watch François Verny’s Story. (Length: 4:03)

Raising Strong, Studly Adults Who Contribute To Society

Raising Strong, Studly Adults Who Contribute To Society

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WebCredits—List of web resources used in this post but not explicitly credited above:

  • Ukiyo-e Woodblock Print, “Great Wave Off Kanagawa”, Hokusai (1829-32)—en.wikipedia. org/wiki/File:Great_Wave_off_Kanagawa2.jpg, with further info at en.wikipedia. org/wiki/The_Great_Wave_off_Kanagawa
  • Photo, “Learning The Importance Of The Wall On The Side”—www. eagerbeaverswimschool.com/
  • Photo, “Start ‘Em Young To Have Confidence In The Wall”—www. examiner.com/article/study-swimming-lessons-appear-to-have-a-protective-effect-against-drowning-for-tots

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Start 'Em Young To Have Confidence In The Wall

Start ‘Em Young To Have Confidence In The Wall

Forever Clean: Asking For And Receiving Help

Seminary Teacher Laughs With His Class Of High School Students

Seminary Teacher Laughs With His Class Of High School Students

Growing up as a Latter-day Saint youth, I had lots of infrastructure to help me stay clean. Much of that had to do with learning to receive help from the spirit of God, learning to receive the Holy Ghost. From 9th to 12th Grade, I had lots of friends through opportunities in  education that I found in Seminary, a before-school Bible study class where they encourage lots of questioning and lots of peppered discussions. It was high school, and we were feeling our way in life. While others around us complained, whenever life’s worries got us down, we found friends, hugs, empathy, shared tears, and hearts that listened. All this infrastructure was strengthened by lessons we taught ourselves on our own initiative by learning to receive the Holy Ghost.

Seminary Student Participates In Class

Seminary Student Participates In Class

Not limited to youth, such lessons are ones I continually learn yet again as an adult. In my previous post, I shared an experience with a suicidal friend who had just lost his entire family in an accident, who soon changed and was able to seek on his own the further help that he needed. As I see it, the help that I received and the help that he received was because we were learning to receive the Holy Ghost.

Two Mindsets, Carol S. Dweck, Ph.D., Growth Mindset v. Fixed Mindset

Two Mindsets, Carol S. Dweck, Ph.D., Growth Mindset v. Fixed Mindset

Have you ever felt that your life was in the toilet? I know I have. Might you know someone who has hit rock bottom? I find the WAY OUT when I understand a need to change myself, to see myself as God sees me. That’s called repentance. I submit that the WAY OUT, wherever we find it, is always lit by God. We find it when we learn to receive the Holy Ghost. In psychological or sociological terms, here’s a great graphic, brought to us by Carol S. Dweck, Ph.D. She describes two mindsets, a fixed mindset and a growth mindset. I have learned that I find a WAY OUT when I choose a growth mindset.

Missouri Sunrise Over Ozark Mountain Country

Missouri Sunrise Over Ozark Mountain Country

Throughout my life and through my own baptism in Missouri when I was eight years old, I’ve learned that baptism is a covenant, a two-way promise; we promise certain things to God, and He promises certain things to us. We promise to live His ways, to follow and remember Him; remembering brings us to asking Him for help. He promises to send us His Spirit if we remember Him. Baptism has two essential parts: By water and by fire (by the Spirit).

But why baptize? Why on earth should God teach us to be baptized? Joseph Smith taught: “You might as well baptize a bag of sand as a man, if not done in view of the remission of sins and getting of the Holy Ghost. Baptism by water is but half a baptism, and is good for nothing without the other half—that is, the baptism of the Holy Ghost.” (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, Page 314.) David Bednar explains the tools of the Holy Spirit, how He works: “The influence of the Holy Ghost is described in the scriptures as ‘a still small voice’ and a ‘voice of perfect mildness’.”

My conclusion: “Forever clean” doesn’t exist. Along the way, I make lots of mistakes. We all do. The good news is that “Forever cleansing” is alive and well. The Holy Ghost helps us get back on track. By celestial design, that’s His job. I’ll be forever glad that He does it well.

Cleansing Hands

Cleansing Hands

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Bonus Material:

Watch, listen, or read Elder David A. Bednar’s entire address regarding overcoming both sin and the desire to sin, both the taint and the tyranny of sin, entitled, “Clean Hands and a Pure Heart”. (Length: 14:33.)

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WebCredits—List of web resources used in this post but not explicitly credited above:

  • Photo, “Seminary Teacher Laughs With His Class Of High School Students”—www. lds.org/church/news/parents-can-now-register-students-for-seminary-online?cid=HPTH012314379&im=true&lang=eng
  • Photo, “Seminary Student Participates In Class”—www. lds.org/church/news/parents-can-now-register-students-for-seminary-online?cid=HPTH012314379&im=true&lang=eng
  • Illustration, “Two Mindsets, Carol S. Dweck, Ph.D., Growth Mindset v. Fixed Mindset”—alumni.stanford.edu/content/magazine/artfiles/dweck_2007_2.pdf, from web article—alumni.stanford.edu/get/page/magazine/article/?article_id=32124
  • Photo, “Missouri Sunrise Over Ozark Mountain Country”—thepanoramapoint.wordpress.com/category/missouri/
  • Photo, “Cleansing Hands”—yankeecandleblog.wordpress.com/
  • Photo, “Bathing In The Ganges River To Cleanse Sins”—www. annbrooksphotography.com/blog/?p=1290

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Bathing In The Ganges River To Cleanse Sins

Bathing In The Ganges River To Cleanse Sins

5 Secrets of Staying Clean

Have you ever been so grungy that you clearly felt unclean? In St. Tammany Parish, Louisiana, in the days after Hurricane Katrina, I joined a group of volunteers to help people clean up and repair their homes in the communities of Covington and Mandeville on the north side of Lake Pontchartrain. It was grueling work, and we were truly grungy. We overnighted at a local church with no power and no shower facilities. Someone came up with the brilliant idea to make an outdoor camp shower by drooping a garden hose over the top of a fence as a makeshift shower. For modesty, tarps were thrown over the fences, allowing a couple hundred volunteers from a dozen states to take a decent shower. I was surprised that it felt so good to be clean after a long day of backbreaking labor—and from such a small and simple thing.

Staying Clean And Sober

Staying Clean And Sober

I remember a close friend who worked very hard to stay clean, a young father with five small children. He had severe substance abuse problems with various substances, but he had recently developed a deeper desire to conquer them, to really lick it this time. On one visit, we had just sat down to talk with Jason and his wife, when he interrupted, “How do you do it, Dave? How do you get us to feel these things?” After that, we opened our hearts to each other like never before, and our souls were knit together like brothers. Each time, we would plan our next visit, a week away or more often a month away, depending on what he felt he needed for support.  Sometimes, in the dead of night, he would just call me out of the blue and say, “Please come, Dave. I need your help. I need to stay clean.” These were some of my favorite moments, sitting and talking in the dark on the small stoop outside his home. But I simply could not go to see him often enough, and I looked forward to each visit with all my heart.

Getting Clean, Staying Clean

Getting Clean, Staying Clean

These experiences remind me of how I felt on the day I was baptized. I was eight years old, and I think I was prepared to understand its value. In the months leading up to it, I remember distinctly talking to some young friends who had been baptized recently about how if I were to do any big-time sinning, I had better do it quickly before I was baptized so that I could wash away all those wrongs. While I didn’t yet have the attitude that God wanted me to have in recognizing the sacrifices that His Son has made on my behalf, it was clear that I understood the meaning of the ordinance of baptism as a symbol of cleansed sins and living a new life.

So, here are some secrets of staying clean:

  1. Recognize the need to get clean.
  2. Commit to getting clean.
  3. Put yourself in situations/places where you may stay clean.
  4. Ask for clean help when you need it.
  5. Be honestly curious. Learn more about staying clean.

I have learned for myself the importance of getting clean and staying clean. For me, the symbolic cleansing of baptism is a vital part of me doing so. 

Alma Baptizing People (Mosiah 18:7-17)

Alma Baptizing People (Mosiah 18:7-17)

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Bonus Material:

1. Read or listen: Alma baptizing as people came into the church of Jesus Christ, Mosiah 18:7-17 (in The Book of Mormon)

2. Watch, listen, or read James E. Faust’s address regarding this sacred ordinance, entitled, “Born Again”. (Length: 18:02.)

3. Resources to stay clean from drugs (most towns have some great community resources; this is merely an example): http://www.louisvilledrugrehabs.com/rehab-types/staying-clean-from-drugs/

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WebCredits—List of web resources used in this post but not explicitly credited above:

  • Photo, Katrina volunteers—www. perfectplank.com/katrina.html
  • Photo, “Staying Clean And Sober”—www. louisvilledrugrehabs.com/rehab-types/staying-clean-from-drugs/
  • Photo Montage, “Getting Clean, Staying Clean”—blog. docsuggest.com/753/personal-hygiene-sofiya-sujad/
  • Illustration, “Alma Baptizing People”—www. lds.org/media-library/images/gospel-art/book-of-mormon?lang=eng#alma-baptizing-people-39653
  • Photo, “St. Tammany Katrina Clean-up”—www. nola.com/opinions/index.ssf/2014/01/fema_canceling_disaster_loans.html

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St. Tammany Katrina Clean-up

St. Tammany Katrina Clean-up