About JA Benson

Joanna entered the world as a BYU baby. Continuing family tradition, she graduated BYU with a degree in Elementary Education and taught for several years. Growing up in Salt Lake County, her favorite childhood hobbies were visiting cemeteries and eavesdropping on adult conversations. Her ancestral DNA is multi-ethnic and she is Mormon pioneer stock on every familial line. Joanna resides in the Southeastern USA with her five children ranging in age from 8 to 24. Her husband passed away in 2009. She is an avid reader and a student of history. Her current intellectual obsession is Sephardic Jewish history, influence and genealogy. She served as a board member for her local chapter of Families with Children from China. She is the author of “DNA Mormons?” Summer Sunstone 2007 http://www.bycommonconsent.com/2007/04/dna-mormons/ and “Becoming Hong Mei`s Mother” in the Winter Sunstone 2009 http://theredbrickstore.com/sunstone/becoming-hong-meis-mother/.

Scouting: The Means to an End

Tex is guest posting in honor of the 101st Anniversary of Boy Scouts of America. Tex is a Junior at Tennessee Technological University majoring in Civil Engineering on a ROTC Scholarship. Tex served a two year mission in the Texas Houston Mission. He currently serves as a Elders Quorum instructor and Stake YSA Rep.

In the minds of many people scouting is about camping or playing army, but truth does not always equate to public opinion. Uniforms and camping are simply a means to an end. That end is turning boys into men. There is a reason why scouting is the Young Men’s program of the church. I believe, Scouting has been inspired by God to teach boys how to follow Lehi’s council to “arise from the dust… and be men, and be determined in one mind and in one heart, united in all things, that ye may not come down into captivity;” 2 Nephi 1:21

When I was a scout, my Dad was a scout leader from Webelos until I achieved the rank of Eagle. He was also a Scoutmaster for my eighteen year old brother. Dad was an overworked accountant, and yet I cannot think of a camping trip he missed until I earned my Eagle. He passed away in 2009; my favorite memories of him are what we did in Scouting. This was quality time for me, to be with my Dad and learn from him. He has been an example to me of what it means to work very hard and overcome adversity.  He taught me what it means to be a man.

My Eagle Court of Honor with Dad and Brother

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A Tale of a Good Samaritan on the Road to Chattanooga, Tennessee

And Jesus answering said, A certain man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among thieves, which stripped him of his raiment, and wounded him, and departed, leaving him half dead.
And by chance there came down a certain priest that way: and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side.
And likewise a Levite, when he was at the place, came and looked on him, and passed by on the other side.
But a certain Samaritan, as he journeyed, came where he was: and when he saw him, he had compassion on him,
And went to him, and bound up his wounds, pouring in oil and wine, and set him on his own beast, and brought him to an inn, and took care of him.
And on the morrow when he departed, he took out two pence, and gave them to the host, and said unto him, Take care of him; and whatsoever thou spendest more, when I come again, I will repay thee.
Which now of these three, thinkest thou, was neighbour unto him that fell among the thieves?
And he said, He that shewed mercy on him. Then said Jesus unto him, Go, and do thou likewise.  Luke 10:30-37

On an seemingly  ordinary Veterans Day six years ago, the most notable aspect of the day was the miserable weather. The  usually gentle southern breezes of Middle Tennessee  were replaced by a fierce Canadian wind biting and  gnawing at the very bones of anyone, who ventured out for a quick run to the car.  It was late afternoon, and my husband Mike left the office for home.  Preoccupied with the daily grind, the last thing Mike expected, was he was about to become a “Good Samaritan” and  care for one who was unfortunate to have “fallen among thieves”.

Mike had a business meeting scheduled  early the next morning in Chattanooga, Tennessee, a city two hours south of us, by way of the I-65 and I-24 thru the hills and mountain pass leading to the Tennessee-Alabama-Georgia border. Leaving work early, he stopped at home to retrieve his overnight suitcase and computer bag, Mike was preoccupied with stress.  The past few months had been unusually difficult. It seemed to him, he had been abandoned by even God.

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Just In Case You Missed It

A natural disaster, in the form of a 500 year flood, occurred last weekend in Nashville/Davidson County and the surrounding counties of  Benton, Carroll, Cheatham, Crockett, Decatur, Dickson, Dyer, Fayette, Gibson, Hardeman, Haywood, Henderson, Hickman, Houston, Humphreys, Madison, Maury, McNairy, Montgomery, Obion, Perry, Rutherford, Shelby, Sumner, Tipton and Williamson Tennessee. Perhaps the costliest non-hurricane disaster in the US, national news coverage has given little attention to this event. At this time, it is known that 29 people have died, and thousands of homes and businesses are underwater.  Nashville’s tourism industry has been severely crippled as Grand Ole Opry Hotel is 10 feet underwater along with nearby Opry Mills Mall. The touristy honky-tonks and restaurants on Broadway, the Schermerhorm Symphony Center, the Tennessee Titans’ field, and  the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum are all flood damaged.  This article sums the spirit of cooperation and charity demonstrated by the Tennessee citizens.  Tennessee is nicknamed the “Volunteer State”, and it truly is, in word and in deed.

Creeks and rivers quickly rose, to overflow into nearby homes and businesses.

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A Tale of Two Wards: What Is Zion?

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way. . . . Charles Dickens A Tale of Two Cities

In 2009 the full-time missionaries were pulled from our large ward and sent to a small ward, recently split, in a neighboring stake. This “other ward” has four sets of missionaries.  Our ward could be described as a typical transplanted Utah/Arizona/Idaho ward with a few true southerners. Pious yet worldly, are the  words to describe most of us. The news we no longer had full-time missionaries, was not well received by the members of our ward. After all, our  ward is upwardly mobile middle class, and we are accustomed to achieving success.  In all aspects of mormondom, we consider ourselves to be  well above average.  Our proselytizing failures are a blight on our wealth= righteousness checklist.  In contrast, the ward our missionaries were re-assigned to, can best be described as predominantly native Tennessee country folks plus single/married university students; with a few professionals such as a country doctor,  a small town lawyer, and a handful of college professors. This other ward is definitely not suburban upwardly mobile middle class. Humble and genuine would be the words to describe this other ward.

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