Archives for November 2009

Updated LDS Church Membership Statistics

2010 LDS Church Almanac

2010 LDS Church Almanac

The 2011 Church Almanac has arrived. See this post for the latest statistics.

Today I purchased the Deseret News 2010 Church Almanac. I like to browse through the membership statistics country by country. Sometimes I come across a country I have never heard of like Benin (east of Nigeria), Mayotte (NW of Madagascar), Palau (east of the Philippines). They sound like Disney characters to me. I don’t look at much else in the Almanac except maybe the occasional temple trivia.

All these membership numbers are all very fine but they would be a lot more useful if they were in tabular form. It’s the comparison that is really useful — well maybe not useful but entertaining. So I put the world’s LDS membership in a sortable table. I added the change in membership from 1 January 2008 to 1 January 2009. By sorting on the “Change” column I found that 16 countries out of 166 had a decrease in membership. The three biggest increases came from the United States (100,633), Brazil (41,403), and Mexico (36,343). Canada had the biggest loss with -502.

The largest LDS populations by percentage are in Tonga (45%), Samoa (31%), and American Samoa (22.5%). The United States comes in at 13th with 2%, tied with Palau — there’s that Disney character again.

The countries with the most members are the United States (5,974,041), Mexico (1,158,236), and Brazil (1,060,556). The Falkland Islands has the least members (5) of any country that has members. The most temples are in the United States (72), Mexico (12), and Canada (7).

There are many more permutations to be found. Try it.
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Mongolian Moments #4

Mongolian Moments #4

Uuz

Uuz is Mutton Back that is stewed in one piece. A well fed sheep will collect substantial fat in the lower back and in the tail as an energy reserve. This fat is the main component of Uuz.

Khuushuur

Large filled pockets that are deep fried in mutton fat or Khuushuur.

Buuz

Buuz are small filled pockets, cooked under steam, and usually have an opening at the top.

Daniel got quite sick eating Byyz, which sounds like it is Buuz, but who knows?

Click on comic strip for larger image. Created using Strip Generator. See all the comics on the Comics Page.
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Missionary Dan Email #5 from Choibalsan, Mongolia

Daniel (fifth left) at a couple missionary's home for Thanksgiving

Daniel (fifth left) at a couple missionary's home for Thanksgiving

This week was full of adventures. We had a wonderful Thanksgiving. All the missionaries went to Elder and Sister Anderson’s house to the dinner. They are the couple that is assigned to our area. We had chicken instead of turkey. The stuffing was really good. That is always my favorite and we had some great pumpkin pie.

The house looks way awesome! Congratulations I hope all goes well. It is exciting that Steven and Ada are having another kid. They could have a third one on the way before I get home :). Congratulations a second time.

The sisters apartment lock broke and they weren’t able to get in their house. So they had to take over our apartment while we slept at the district leader’s house. We fixed their lock today so we get to be at home again. It was really strange to find a long black hair on my sheets.

Daniel with a member called Purvee

Daniel with a member called Purvee

The church was closed again so we took the sacrament to the members again. We did it 9 times to 58 people. Hopefully the church will be open next week. The Branch President returned from his temple trip so we got to meet him. He is young and really cool. The members are still very thankful to receive the sacrament.

I mistook the words “work cow” for “husband” at one of the member’s houses. She was asking if we could give the left over blessed bread to her husband. She said, “He eats vegetables, fruit, paper, meat, just about anything. I thought for a moment and it really didn’t make sense to me. So I asked her, “Your husband?” That was funny, we laughed very hard.

I got the Primary letters last week. The package will be coming with President when he makes his trip out here for zone conference on December 11. So I’ll get it then. Also that is when my companion leaves. When I get my new companion I’ll be to a total of 11. That is quite a few for only being half way. Maybe soon I’ll have a companion for more than one half transfer. Anyway thanks for the all letters. They are way fun to read.

Love Elder Willoughby.

Presented have been portions of an email from Elder Daniel Willoughby serving in the Mongolia Ulaanbaatar Mission. If anyone wishes to send Daniel a message, write it in the comments and I will make sure he receives it.

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Giving Thanks The Pilgrims Left

The Embarkation of the Pilgrims

The Embarkation of the Pilgrims

I was born in England and emigrated to the United States while in my twenties. I am thankful to be living here and the people have been very welcoming and kind.

My two brothers were also able to emigrate and they and their families will join me and my family for Thanksgiving today.

Occasionally I am asked if we have Thanksgiving in England. My stock answer is always is the same:

We do have Thanksgiving in England. We give thanks those annoying pilgrims left.

About the Painting

Protestant pilgrims are shown on the deck of the ship Speedwell before their departure for the New World from Delft Haven, Holland, on July 22, 1620. William Brewster, holding the Bible, and pastor John Robinson lead Governor Carver, William Bradford, Miles Standish, and their families in prayer. Painted by Robert Weir (1803-1889).

When Speedwell reached Southampton they met with Mayflower and additional colonists. The two vessels set out on August 5 (old calendar) / August 15 (new calendar). Soon after, Speedwell began taking in water, so both were diverted to Dartmouth. There Speedwell was inspected for leaks and sealed, but a second attempt to depart also failed, bringing them only so far as Plymouth.

It was decided that Speedwell was untrustworthy, and it was sold. It would later be learned that crew members had deliberately caused the ship to leak, allowing them to abandon their year-long commitments. The ship’s master and some of the crew transferred to Mayflower for the trip. (Wikipedia)

High-resolution version (3.5Mb)
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Mongolian Moments #3

Mongolian Moments #3
Daniel and the other missionaries destined for Mongolia stayed longer in the Missionary Training Center (MTC) while waiting for visas. Then Daniel and a few others were sent to the Georgia Atlanta Mission to tract and wait for visas. He actually went straight to Alabama. Three weeks later the coveted visas arrived and he was on his way to Mongolia.

Click on comic strip for larger image. Created using Strip Generator. See all the comics on the Comics Page.
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Driving On The Cheap

Honda Civic

Take a look at the car in my driveway. It appears to be just a plain 2005 Honda Civic. I purchased it last Friday to help me drive down the cost of transportation. With only V6 engines in my other vehicles I decided to make a change, ready for higher gas prices next summer.

How much cheaper is this Civic for me to drive? Well this is Utah and this Civic is a Natural Gas Vehicle (NGV). With Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) at a subsidized 93 cents GGE throughout the state I really am driving on the cheap.

CNG Advantages

Natural Gas Vehicle

Natural Gas Vehicle

These advantages potentially affect me directly or indirectly economically:

  • Park for free at Salt Lake City parking meters with a Salt Lake City “Green Vehicle” parking permit.
  • Use the Express/HOV Lanes for free while driving alone.
  • Subsidized fuel at less than a dollar GGE.
  • $2,500 tax credit on a first time registration in Utah.
  • CNG is free from adulteration and theft.
  • Less maintenance costs as compared with other fuel-powered vehicles.
  • Fuel system is sealed, preventing any spill or evaporation losses.
  • Increased life of lubricating oils.
  • Mixes easily and evenly in air.
  • Less likely to auto-ignite on hot surfaces.

These advantages affect the community directly or indirectly:

  • Non-toxic and free from benzene.
  • Produces significantly less emissions of pollutants as compared to gasoline.
  • Produced in Utah.
  • Delivered to the service station by pipeline.
I test drove and filled a Cavalier.

I test drove and filled a Cavalier.

CNG Drawbacks

  • Fuel storage needs a greater amount of space.
  • Limited availability of refueling stations.
  • Reduced driving range.
  • Higher vehicle cost.
  • Less choice of vehicles.
  • Converted vehicles have 5% — 10% reduced power.
  • For CNG only vehicles running out of fuel can be very inconvenient.

Summary

CNG_Pump

Me by a CNG pump,

I filled up for the first time last night. It was straight-forward though a little different. The pump was the old style non-digital readout type (not the one pictured). The car gas gauge (interesting that it is still called a gas gauge) was reading 1/4 left. It cost $4.56 to fill and took about the same time as filling a gasoline tank with the same amount of fuel. That is probably enough for about 150 miles. I expect to get 200 miles out of a tank. If there is interest I will post my mileage and CNG use in a future post. I’m used to larger cars but this Civic surprised me with quite some zip. It was a gas to drive.

If you are interested in a used CNG car yourself, check out the CNG Utah website where I purchased my Honda. The folks there were low pressure and friendly. Perhaps you already own a CNG powered vehicle. How do you like it? What have been your savings? Would you purchase another CNG?

By now you may have figured out that my purchase of this CNG Civic was purely economic. As far as the environment is concerned I am against Cap and Trade. The threat from CO2 (plant food) has been greatly overstated. The earth has enough and to spare. Just relax and use the resources God has given you and go out into the world with a little less fear and trembling. You will do just fine in your stewardship despite what Al Gore says.

Updates

14 Dec 2011 — There is now a CNG station right in my hometown.
1 Jan 2012 — Without the 50 cent a gallon federal subsidy the price has risen to $1.50/gge in Utah.

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Missionary Dan Email #4 from Choibalsan, Mongolia

Daniel ready for snow.

Daniel ready for snow.

The new car looks really fancy. What happened to the other two cars? Good job on your talk too Mom. Happy Thanksgiving this week! Eat lots of stuffing etc. We are going to the senior couple’s house for dinner. It should be really fun.

The church is closed for another two weeks. So yesterday we took the sacrament around to all the members. We basically followed the same route as last week. It went by really fast and was still a good opportunity. Seminary and institute is allowed, as well as all the schools started up again today. The mission got the all time high for lessons taught per companionships in one week. We are doing what we can to keep the members and progressing investigators strong and faithful. The Lord has greatly blessed us in that outstanding achievement.

Other than that, every day seemed to be much the same. Time goes by really fast but at the same time goes by really slow. My companion only has 23 days left I think, so before I know it I’ll have a new companion. There isn’t much more to write about this week. This next week will have plenty of excitement so I’ll write about that more.

To Steven

Happy Birthday Steven! Sorry… I remembered on the day it was your birthday — I just kept forgetting to say happy birthday.

Thanks for all the support, Happy Thanksgiving!

Love Elder Willoughby.

Daniel by the river in Choibalsan

Daniel by the river in Choibalsan

Presented have been portions of an email from Elder Daniel Willoughby serving in the Mongolia Ulaanbaatar Mission. If anyone wishes to send Daniel a message, write it in the comments and I will make sure he receives it.

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Preparing A Missionary

Today my wife spoke in church.

Daniel receives his mission nametag from his mother

Daniel receives his missionary nametag from his mother

Our five children were born within seven years of each other so are really close in age. When they were small our favorite song in FHE was “I’m so glad when daddy comes home“.  Instead of a great big kiss at the end of the song, the kids would tackle dad and wrestle with him on the floor until one of the kids got hurt and then the song was over. Our other favorite song was “I Hope They Call Me on a Mission” when I have grown a foot or two. I hope by then I will be ready to teach and preach and work as missionaries do. I have been asked to talk on preparing a missionary. Our oldest son served in Santiago Chile West, the next son served in California Oakland Spanish speaking, the third son served in Mexico City North and our last son is serving in the Ulaanbaatar Mongolia mission.

I don’t have anything profound or new to share, just four simple things we did in our family.

1. Family Home Evening

I am glad to be able to teach primary to an amazing group of eight year old children in our ward. They are bright and happy and it is very apparent that these children are being taught the gospel in their home. They know how to say a prayer, they are learning to read the scriptures and starting to memorize the articles of faith. They have wonderful parents. These children have parents that follow the counsel we have all been taught about holding a regular FHE, scripture study and family prayer. We had times in our own family when we were consistent and able to do these things but there were other times when family scripture study, FHE or family prayer just didn’t happen. We had our share of teenagers that came to FHE and remained in a prone position on the floor with their eyes closed the entire time. But we never decided it wasn’t worth the effort and we never stopped trying.

2. Home Teaching

Jake tracting in Mexico.

Jake tracting in Mexico.

We have been fortunate to have the best home teacher in the stake for the past twenty years or so. During all the time he was a counselor in the stake presidency and then as our stake president, he never missed a month home teaching. I’m not sure how many home teachers are that faithful. We got to know all the Hulse boys over the years — young Loren, young Nathan and finally young Joseph. They learned to set up appointments by calling us on the phone or talking to us in person. They learned how to shake hands in greeting and how to prepare and give a message. I’m grateful for Brother Hulse and his example and love for our family. I’m also grateful to my husband, Richard, and the families in our ward that allowed our boys to home teach and learn these skills.

President Monson said:

Brethren, is every ordained teacher given the assignment to home teach? What an opportunity to prepare for a mission. What a privilege to learn the discipline of duty. A boy will automatically turn from concern for self when he is assigned to “watch over” others. (Thomas S. Monson, “The Call to Serve,” Ensign, Nov 2000, 47–49)

3. Savings Account

We were our children’s employers while they were young so they could learn to manage money. As Richard was the main force behind this topic, he agreed to write how the savings accounts were managed:

A black hole has a one-way surface, called an event horizon, into which objects can fall, but out of which nothing can escape. It is called “black” because it absorbs all the light that hits it, reflecting nothing.

Thus a black hole mission savings account will not allow any deposited money to escape. The one exception made is for a mission.

We set up mission savings accounts at the bank for all the children when they were young. The accounts were set up so that their Dad’s signature was required to withdraw money. The children were required to put 50% of any earnings into their account. When they were old enough for Scouts, ten dollars was paid into their accounts for each completed merit badge. An Eagle required 21 merit badges which meant each boy earned a deposit of $210.

Remember Richard wrote this part for me:

One day my wife said the children wanted to change the mandated percentage. It sounded like a rebellion and my wife appeared to be siding with the children. I called a family council and planned for the worst. The new percentage that the children wanted was to change it from 50% to 40%. So after tithing they would still retain half their money to spend. I pretended to reluctantly agree and was happy they would still be saving a substantial proportion of their earnings.

After a few years I removed the percentage requirement but the children still contributed heavily into their black hole accounts. Their percentage would sometimes be much higher than the old 40% rate.
All four boys earned all their mission money this way. Our daughter, Sarah, was exempt from saving for a mission but the account was still a black hole. She could withdraw money for parental approved activities like marriage and buying Fathers Day gifts.

She used it to go the Europe instead.

We tried to help some of the children with dating and other expenses to allow them to focus on saving for their missions. One of our sons worked at Lagoon in Group Foods for a summer when he was 15. He went to work happy and came home covered with grease from having slaved over a hot grill frying hamburgers all day. But he came home just as happy as when he left because he was earning money for his mission.

4. School and Church Activities

Most of our children studied a foreign language in Junior High. President Hinckley said:

Study a foreign language if you have opportunity to do so. You may never be called to a land where that language is spoken, but the study will have given you a better understanding of your own tongue or of another tongue you may be asked to acquire. (Gordon B. Hinckley, “Tithing: An Opportunity to Prove Our Faithfulness,” Ensign, May 1982, 40)

Paul with a little girl.

Paul with a little girl.

I’m grateful to the good youth leaders from our ward that served over the years. They took the boys camping even in the winter and organized terrific youth camps and treks. There were lots of great service projects that helped the boys learn to work and serve others.  Participating in ward activities, attending church and going to seminary helped build the enthusiasm for serving a mission.

What young man wouldn’t look forward to the adventure of eating sheep head, goat stomach, and horse pizza? Daniel, who is serving in Mongolia, also looks forward to the day his eyelashes freeze his eyes shut. When I asked Daniel what helped prepare him to serve a mission, he wrote:

To Mom:

The things that helped me prepare for a mission the most were the small and simple things we were taught to do every week and day. Scripture study, prayer, attending church, and opportunities to serve others. I am happy that I always liked going to church. I can’t really remember a day when I wanted to stay home and not go. I learned that from Dad and your example of always going yourselves. Also I don’t know how you taught me, or where I learned it from, but the discipline to wake up every morning is very helpful. I just remember always waking up myself with my alarm for school every day, and giving me that responsibility early was probably a good idea. That seems to be a struggle for some missionaries.

After turning 18 years old, going to mission prep class each week really helped. It made me want to go and got me excited about it. I learned a lot from there, especially how to take notes from teachers in that kind of setting, as in the MTC there is tons of things to take notes on.

Other important preparation was just the fact that I knew Dad and you loved me and always wanted to help. Sharing of your testimony and love for the gospel were all things that influenced me to get ready to serve a mission.

Daniel is not allowed to proselyte but serves the Mongolian people by teaching English and can share the gospel with those that express an interest. He writes:

We did two big service projects this week. One was on Friday for a member in the branch. She needed her fence to be moved since the ground where it was no longer could support it. We had most of the members in our district get to work. As I was working it reminded me of my summer job. I had the thought that, “I worked all summer earning money for my mission digging fence holes, and now I’m on my mission digging fence holes.” It made me laugh. We were able to finish the project and it looked good.

I wish I could show you a picture of the fence they moved. It consisted of some logs with the rusted tops of barrels connected eight lids across and four lids down. It is an interesting structure but I wouldn’t call it a fence.

In 1993 Elder Neal A. Maxwell of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles dedicated Mongolia for the preaching of the gospel, and the Ulaanbaatar Branch was organized that same year. Today, the Mongolian members of our Church number 9,000, reportedly the largest group of Christians in the country.

Couple Missionaries

Steven's welcome home sign as he returns from his mission.

Steven's welcome home sign as he returns from his mission.

We have been counseled to get out of debt. President Threadgold said he hoped we all had a 401-M account in place in preparation for our mission. I’d like to share an experience from the blog of a couple now serving in Mongolia.

The people of Mongolia sometimes seem to be caught between a rock and a hard place. Universities and Colleges here are not as robust as we find elsewhere, like in the States. They are improving but still have some catching up to do. So, many companies located here in the capitol city of Ulaanbaatar ask for a college degree from a foreign university in order to qualify for their best jobs. But it is very difficult for most here to be able to handle that kind of expense. Particularly when a young family is involved. Sometimes, fathers have left their families to secure the needed degree, something we worry much about.

Then, a couple of months ago, Brigham Young University – Hawaii campus announced the offering of new online classes which students could register for and take over the Internet. What a tremendous blessing! Students can actually complete up to three years of college over the Internet. The final year they must spend on campus. But that is much better than four years!

Interest was high here, as one might expect. We knew the tremendous benefit this could be and tried to pass the word around. We would learn later that Mongolia would account for 50% of all enrollments in the entire Asia area!

The couple wanted to help by setting up a computer lab in the mission home. They tried lots of different ways to get the needed computers.

We finally contacted the BYU-Hawaii administrator over the online program, Brother Griffiths. He said they were in the process of upgrading computers and he would bring them personally. We worried about customs and the enormous charges that might be incurred.  We finally greeted Brother Griffiths as he made his way through the airport. We weren’t seeing what we had expected by way of boxes, etc. in which computers might be transported. So we figured they might still be making their way through customs and we would need to pick them up somewhere.

But finally we asked him how it went with the computers. And he said, “Great! They’re all right here in my bags!” He had packed them all in his luggage, only needing to pay for one extra suitcase! They didn’t even bother to ask him his name. Just checked him through without even saying “goodbye”! And he had twelve computers — six laptops and six desktops without monitors. Twelve of them!

This is the impact just one couple is making by serving a mission.

A quarterly newsletter is emailed to us telling us news from the Mongolia mission. This was recently written:

Re-upping is something that two of our senior missionary couples are doing. Elder and Sister Olpin have recently returned from a 3-month break in the US to serve a second mission in Mongolia. Elder and Sister Anderson finished their first mission in Mongolia on September 2. They will be back in November to serve their second mission here. Our complement for senior couples is 14, but we have never had more than 11 couples in the country during the past 2 years — right now we have 7. We are constantly pestering the Mission Department to send more.

Elder Tingey said that the senior couples are the scaffolding for building the Church. This is so apparent in Mongolia. We love our senior couples!

In the D&C we read “Behold, the Lord requireth the heart and a willing mind”. (D&C 64:34)

In the May 2001 Ensign Elder Robert D. Hales said:

What is the best way to teach our children — and grandchildren — light and truth?  What is the most important way to set our families, both immediate and extended, in order?  Is it possible that in spiritual matters our example speaks louder than our words?  Temple marriage, family prayer, scripture study, and family home evening are all vitally important. But there is another dimension — the dimension of service. If we are willing to leave our loved ones for service in the mission field, we will bless them with a heritage that will teach and inspire them for generations to come. (Robert D. Hales, “Couple Missionaries: A Time to Serve,” Ensign, May 2001, 25)

I hope they call me on a mission, when I have shrunk an inch or two. I hope by then I will be ready to teach and preach and work as missionaries do.

Sarah inside the Colosseum on her European tour.

Sarah inside the Colosseum on her European tour.

Testing Your 72 Hour Kit MREs

One area of preparedness we have neglected over the years is our 72 hour kits. We only have one full kit for one person. As I want to be able to take the kit with me in an emergency I decided long ago that it needed to be based on MREs (Meals Ready to Eat). MREs are lightweight and come with their own food warmer. For me the civilian MREs will do as they are easier to obtain. If you want to learn more about MREs I highly recommend the MRE Info website.

There were nine MREs in our kit which is three full meals per day for three days. The meals have snacks to supplement and boost the calorie count. We tried four of the menus:

  • Ham and Shrimp Jambalaya
  • Egg Omelet with Vegetables and Cheese
  • Breaded Chicken Breast Pattie with Rib Meat in Tomato Sauce with Pasta
  • Chicken Breast Strips with Chunky Salsa

The first two we did not like but the last two were OK. Later I googled online for the distributor of the MREs and found the corporate website at Ameriqual Foods. I didn’t see the meals that we tried in their A Pack Ready Meal self-heating emergency meals at the Ready Meal website. I ordered a box containing two each of the MREs to try them out. Alternatively a half case can be ordered from The Epicenter containing one each of the six menus.

Every APack Ready Meal includes an entrée with self-heating unit, side dishes, beverage mix (bottled water not included), condiment, utensil and towelette. As mentioned, the MREs we tried were very different from the APacks. When the APacks arrive I will check those out and report.

The food is already cooked and all you have to do is warm the MREs. We did this as part of our Family Home Evening on preparedness.

Jake, Rick, and Paul slip the food pouches into the supplied heaters.

Jake, Rick, and Paul slip the food pouches into the supplied heaters.

Paul filling the heater bag with a small amount of water.

Paul filling the heater bag with a small amount of water.

Paul and Jake put the heater and the food pouch back in the box.

Paul and Jake put the heater and the food pouch back in the box.

Find a handy "rock" to angle your MREs while they warm.

Find a handy "rock" to angle your MREs while they warm.

Partake of your MRE dessert or snack while your meal is warming.

Partake of your MRE dessert or snack while your meal is warming.

Jake's MRE was so gross no-one would eat it. The others were fine.

Jake's MRE was so gross no-one would eat it. The others were fine.

It is important that you try your emergency foods before you actually have to use them. In an evacuation you will no doubt be stressed so foods that you are familiar with and like will help to ensure you stay nourished.

Do you have an 72 Hour Kit and if so what kind of foods are in it? Do you use MREs? Have you ever had to evacuate your home?

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