About Geoff B.

Geoff B has had three main careers. Some of them have overlapped. After attending Stanford University (class of 1985), he worked in journalism for several years until about 1992, when he took up his second career in telecommunications sales. In 1995, he took up his favorite and third career as father. Soon thereafter, Heavenly Father hit him over the head with a two-by-four (wielded by the Holy Ghost) and he woke up from a long sleep. Since then, he's been learning a lot about the Gospel. He still has a lot to learn. Geoff's held several Church callings: young men's president, high priest group leader, member of the bishopric, stake director of public affairs, media specialist for church public affairs, high councilman. He tries his best in his callings but usually falls short. Geoff has five children and lives in Colorado.

What does the possible normalization of relations with Cuba mean for the Church?

The Church has very quietly been growing in Communist Cuba. There are now two branches in the capital, Havana. Elder Bednar dedicated the country for preaching the Gospel in February 2012, and Elder Holland visited again this summer. The Church News quoted Elder Holland as saying: “Although we are small in number, each member is precious to us, and Cuba is precious to us.”

Elder Holland visited the site of Elder Bednar’s dedication, which overlooks Havana, and said, “the promises of the dedicatory blessing are unfolding.”

President Obama’s announcement Wednesday that he would seek the normalization of relations with Cuba seems to be coming right on schedule. It is easy to imagine that increased travel and trade with the United States would very soon lead to missionaries and strong growth of the Church in the coming years.

This story from the Deseret News has some interesting tidbits.

Though it is not registered, the Cuban department of religious affairs welcomed the church in 2004, when the first branch was established, and it and other faiths have helped the church find locations for worship.

Elder Holland also met with government officials in June.

That doesn’t mean missionary work is likely to happen quickly, Martinich added. In recent decades, the church generally has moved meticulously before opening a mission in a country where it hasn’t had one before.

“I wouldn’t imagine a mission there for a few years,” Martinich said. “What’s more likely to happen is that, when and if Cuba gives the church official recognition, missionaries would be reassigned from another mission,” such as one in the Dominican Republic.

One first already happened three years ago: A Cuban native from the Havana Branch served an LDS mission in the United States beginning in 2011.

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When the temple helps, part 2

This is a guest post by Daniel Ortner.

This is the second part of my story touching on how the temple has helped me through trials and challenges in my life.

As with the first post, I hope that those reading this post will contribute to future posts by sharing those stories and experiences. For those who have been comforted in a time of crisis or received personal revelation in a moment of need, I hope that your stories will inspire and help others. For those who struggled with the temple at first, I hope you will share stories of how you eventually came to find peace and meaning in the ordinances of the temple and that your words will be a balm in Gilead for those in pain.

If you would like to share a story, please e-mail it to me at [email protected], or continue to post in the comments.

After my conversion in front of the Boston Temple, I faced a great amount of family opposition as a result of my conversion and my desire to be baptized. Because of the opposition of my father in particular, I waited ten long months before his heart was finally softened in regard to my decision to be baptized. In that time, the temple again stood as anchor to my soul. When I felt down, I would often drive to the temple and read scriptures in front of it. I deeply longed to enter into the temple and to be able to perform the sacred ordinances on behalf of my mother who had died when I was 18.

As a studied abroad in London, I was also able to visit the London Temple grounds several times and loved the incredible peace that I experienced there.

After my baptism, my attachment to the temple only intensified. The weekend after my baptism, I went to the New York temple and performed baptisms for the dead. As I entered the temple and stood in the font, the spirit again strongly testified to me that I was in the House of Lord. Each time I went to the temple, I felt transformed, and empowered to overcome trials and challenges.

Soon, I faced the challenge of deciding whether I should serve a mission. I knew that I would face strong family opposition if I decided to go. As I struggled, I spent many hours in the baptistry and on temple grounds praying. Three experiences at the temple stand out.

First, in the coldest months of winter, I had a job going door to door fundraising for non-profit organizations. As part of that job, we were working in the Belmont area. I knew the temple was nearby, but for the first couple of days did not see it. Finally, on one of the days, I walked up a small hill and in the distance saw the temple. The Angel Moroni seemed to me such an incredible beacon of light and hope that pierced through the cold New England weather.

Second, during a particularly dark and difficult period for me, we had a stake conference in the chapel by the Boston Temple. Stephen Wood, the Boston Temple President, gave an incredible talk where he talked about the story of Peter walking on Water and emphasized that all of us must face moments in our life when we must walk in darkness and beyond our comfort zone. His talk made a deep impression of me and I felt that I should try talking to him, but could not get to him during the conference. The next day, I felt strongly that I should go the temple grounds. As I walked around, I felt prompted to walk on a path that I usually did not walk on. As I did so, I ran into President Wood. I spoke to him and expressed my appreciation for his remarks. As I told him about my conversion and my dilemma, he invited me to his house and gave me a priesthood blessing to help me make the right decision.

Finally, as the deadline for me to decide whether to put my papers in fast approached, I was still deeply conflicted. One morning, I felt inspired to fast and to go visit the temple grounds. I went early in the morning as the sun was just rising. As I looked at the sun rising above the temple, I felt a feeling like fire fill my bosom. I knew that heavenly father would take care of me if I chose to serve and that serving was the thing I could do that would do the most good.

I am so grateful for the power of the temple in helping me to overcome trials and receive reassurance in times of need.

Why didn’t the Church teach me this stuff?

In the wake of media attention regarding the Church essays on polygamy, one of the refrains you will hear from some members of the Church is, “why didn’t the Church teach me this stuff?”

I do not want to diminish the emotional toll that further disclosures on polygamy may be having on some members, but I would like to posit that if you are claiming you never were taught about polygamy you are a bit naïve. For several reasons.

The first is that the Church clearly has taught about polygamy in many formats: in Sunday School, in seminary, in official Church histories. In fact, if you go to lds.org and do a search for the word “polygamy” you will get literally hundreds of hits, including links to Church manuals that discuss the issue.

The Church has repeatedly encouraged you to read the scriptures (I know, I know, if you want to keep something secret, put it in the scriptures because nobody ever reads them). You may have noticed that there is a rather long section of the Doctrine & Covenants, D&C 132. That section includes this provocative excerpt:

61 And again, as pertaining to the law of the priesthood—if any man espouse a virgin, and desire to espouse another, and the first give her consent, and if he espouse the second, and they are virgins, and have vowed to no other man, then is he justified; he cannot commit adultery for they are given unto him; for he cannot commit adultery with that that belongeth unto him and to no one else.

62 And if he have ten virgins given unto him by this law, he cannot commit adultery, for they belong to him, and they are given unto him; therefore is he justified.

So, if you have read the scriptures and were even a little bit curious, this particular section may have jumped out at you. Yes, the Church taught you things.

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Harry Reid’s most embarrassing moments

As many of us at M* have been writing for years, Harry Reid is a good latter-day Saint who is an embarrassment as a politician.

With any luck, Bro. Reid will soon be just another senator from Nevada and not the majority leader, and his many gaffes will be confined to the Nevada press, rather than the national scene. And we can all hope that in 2016 he will retire and do something more productive (perhaps become a senior missionary?). Most pundits are predicting the Senate will soon be taken back by the Republicans.

But in case Bro. Reid is inclined to think he still has a reason to be involved in the dirty world of politics, I would like to remind him of his worst gaffes, and I would ask M* readers to chime in.

Bro. Reid’s single most horrifying gaffe, in my opinion, is his completely unsubstantiated charge that Mitt Romney did not pay any taxes for 10 years. This ridiculous claim, in the middle of the 2012 contest, was part of a coordinated and incredibly slimy campaign by the Democrats against any honorable man (and a very flawed candidate, as I wrote here). I predict that Bro. Reid will repent about this very low moment in his life, either in the coming years or in the afterlife.

But this is not all. Bro. Reid went on to say that Mitt Romney, a former bishop and stake president, had “sullied” Mormonism. This coming from the man who once said Barack Obama could be elected because he is “light skinned” with “with no Negro dialect, unless he wanted to have one.”

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