About Meg Stout

Meg Stout has been an active member of the Church of Jesus Christ (of Latter-day Saints) for decades. She lives in the DC area with her husband, Bryan, and several daughters. She is an engineer by vocation and a writer by avocation. Meg is the author of Reluctant Polygamist, laying out the possibility that Joseph taught the acceptability of plural marriage but may have privately defied the commandment for love of his wife, Emma.

Lifecycle of a Wall

Deconstruction of the Berlin Wall, 1989

We spent a few hours at the Philadelphia Temple yesterday, where a friend and I participated in proxy sealings. Brother Young, a sealer, spoke of his mission in Germany, where his daughter had also served decades later.

The Wall

It so happened that Brother Young had served in Berlin in 1961, as the Berlin Wall was built. His daughter had served in Berlin in 1989, as the Berlin Wall was torn down. Brother Young spoke of a picture they had, of the two of them standing together with other Germans on a fallen segment of the wall.

Yet the presence of the wall, hated as it was by so many, caused one of the miracles of the gospel in Europe.

As I recall being recounted by then-apostle Monson during a DC-area conference, the German Saints were gathered in Berlin on the eve of the planned ban on travel between the Communist-controlled portion of Germany and the Allied-controlled portion of Germany. Those Saints who lived in the Communist-controlled portion of the city and country knew that they would experience severe religious oppression.

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Oscar Shorts: Reflections

Poster Art for Pixar’s Bao

It has become tradition on Valentine’s Day for our family to go watch the Oscar-nominated shorts.

Most years we only get around to watching the animated shorts. This year we splurged and watched both the animated and live action shorts.

Alas.

If you love feeling good, watch this year’s Oscar-nominated animated shorts. If you love to dwell on the terror, horror, and dread of the worst the world contains, watch this year’s Oscar-nominated live action shorts.

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The Sisters who made the Rome Temple Possible

Image of the Rome Italy Temple courtesy of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

It was in the summer of 2005 or 2006 in Temple Square when two sister missionaries from Italy explained the gospel to an Italian man and his wife. They showed the couple the grounds around the Salt Lake Temple. All too soon, the man and his wife had to leave.

At this time, we don’t know who those sisters were. They were, however, doing the happy work that all missionaries do, discussing the gospel of Jesus Christ with all willing to hear, comporting themselves with dignity and honor and joy. These sisters didn’t know then the huge impact their interaction would have.

A Friendship Born in DC

I heard about the sisters from Elder Gordon H. Smith, who is spending the weekend presiding over the Stake Conference in Annandale, Virginia. Though Elder Smith claims to have repented of his political past, he was a U.S. Senator from January 1997 to January 2009.

One day then-Senator Smith received a call from Salt Lake City. A General Authority from Europe would be in the DC area to assist in reorganizing a stake. Would Senator Smith be willing to give this General Authority a tour of the capitol?

Of course.

The General Authority was a fellow named Dieter Uchtdorf. Senator Smith thoroughly enjoyed the hours they spent, impressed by the enthusiasm Elder Uchtdorf had for history and other aspects of the United States.

Can You Help?

In 2006, a few years later, Senator Smith’s assistant poked her head into his office. She explained there was a fellow on the phone from Salt Lake. But she didn’t think the Senator wanted to take this call.

“What’s the fellow’s name?” Senator Smith asked.

“Something German. Dieter Uchtdorf, I believe.”

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Leadership and Inclusion

I live far from Utah, but Joy Jones (current General Primary President) is sister to my sister-in-law. In this time of transition, some small glimpses of inner machinations have become apparent, despite the appropriate caution and probity exercised by anyone in such a rarified position.

My husband visited in Utah this past week due to family health concerns. While there, my beloved had dinner with Joy’s sister, who is married to a Stout.

Joy’s sister loves Joy, and had eagerly anticipated Joy’s release from one of the General Boards. The sister was very upset when Joy became a member of a General Presidency, because where others see prestige and access, this sister knew that her sister would become even more tasked in ways that would preclude many family activities.

It’s been good to hear that this family sacrifice has been “worth it.”

Someone who presumed women in Church leadership are mere token participants asked if Joy and her female colleagues ever meet with the First Presidency. Joy’s reported answer?

“Every day.”

In another anecdote, Joy was told that President Nelson wished her to participate in a committee.

When Joy arrived, the four individuals in the room (all male), were surprised and wondered aloud if Joy was in the right place. She assured them she had been assigned to participate in the committee. Shortly thereafter, President Nelson arrived. He affirmed Joy was there at his request and acknowledged the other committee members had not received prior notice of this addition.

Then President Nelson said, “I’m going to do a Moses…” He asked the four men to shift so that Joy could sit in their midst. Then President Nelson addressed Joy, letting her know that he expected to hear her opinions on all the matters they would be addressing. If she didn’t offer an opinion, President Nelson assured her he would be asking for her opinion.

Now, I’m telling you these things as they were related by my husband, who heard the incident recounted by Joy’s sister and brother-in-law. I missed the family gathering where my husband met Joy, so she hasn’t ever met me. Yet history is often not reported real time by those who are direct participants. Time that could be used for such real time reporting is more appropriately spent with family over good food amidst discussion of family-specific concerns.

I look forward to a time when those involved with recent decisions might have a chance to explain the inspirations and processes involved. Until then, these tales delighted me, and I felt others might find delight and inspiration therein as well.