FYI: For Your Information

    “FYI: For Your Information,” New Era, Oct. 1980, 34–37

    For Your Information

    Always do right. This will gratify some people, and astonish the rest.

    —Mark Twain

    Genealogy Club Catches On

    When Robb Thomas, a 14-year-old teacher in the Bangor Ward, Augusta Maine Stake, decided to start a genealogy club in his school, Garland Street Junior High, he got a lot more than he bargained for. The club rapidly became one of the more popular clubs in the school.

    “It was hard at first, because a lot of people didn’t understand the word genealogy, and they wanted to make fun of it,” Robb said. But when the club started bringing in films and guest speakers and taking trips to the state archives, interest grew quickly.

    “One of the fellows who made fun of the club to begin with eventually ended up joining,” Robb said.

    Other students now share an interest in discovering their ancestry. “It’s something I didn’t have before,” said 15-year-old Mary England, a member of the club. “I discovered my great-aunt had worked on tracing a family tree, but her records were misplaced.”

    “I went to my grandmother, and she talked about my great-grandparents—who they were, and where they were born. I used that as a starting point,” said Holly Sands, 15, another member of the club.

    Robb worked with the student council to obtain permission for forming the club, which meant finding a supervisor, making a presentation to the student council, and convincing the council to vote in favor of his proposal. “Robbie got the ball rolling, and then we got in and pushed beside him,” Holly said. A bake sale was used to generate finances.

    Robb says he’s had a lot of opportunities to explain Church beliefs because of his work with the club. “Some people in the club asked me informally to make a presentation to them about temples and why we have them,” he said. “I showed them pictures of the interior rooms and the outsides of several temples, and we talked about baptism for the dead, endowments, and why genealogy is so important. We talked about temple marriage, too.”

    Robb also spends a lot of time at the public library doing research and thinks about a career in genealogy. “I get a lot of help and encouragement from people in the ward, from missionaries, and from my parents,” Robb said. “I have some relatives in Salt Lake City who have helped out, too.”

    This fall, Robb starts high school at Bangor High. There’s already a genealogy club there, and you can bet he’s got plans (along with many of his friends) to be active in it.

    Super Duper Double Service Project

    Inspired by the theme “We all do better when we stick together,” the Young Men and Young Women of the Pleasant Hill First Ward (Walnut Creek California Stake) launched enthusiastically into a two-pronged spring service project. Day one was spent renovating the recently purchased meetinghouse of the Sea Ranch Branch in Guala, California. Early one Thursday morning during spring vacation, the 29 youths and seven leaders joined the branch members in work crews that cleared the backyard of weeds, prepared the flower beds and garden area, painted the interior of the building, mowed the lawn, dug postholes for a fence, and cleared a large picnic area under the giant redwoods. That evening the branch members served a barbecue dinner to all the laborers, after which the youth presented a musical variety show.

    The next day, phase two began when the Pleasant Hill youth drove to the nearby Pomo Indian Reservation to clear a large field of brambles and brush. Afterwards the volunteers prepared a pit barbecue for the Lamanites and presented a portion of the previous evening’s program.

    After the two days were completed, the youths agreed that the time spent serving their brothers and sisters had been well spent. The general feelings of all were expressed by one of the youths who said, “I didn’t know you could have so much fun while working so hard.”

    In the Swim of Things …

    When Peter Lauritzen of Eugene, Oregon, had to choose between attending early morning seminary or high school swim team practice, which met each morning at 6 A.M., he had to get up early to find a solution. In fact, he got up at 4:30 AM, each weekday so he could attend his own swim practice at 5 A.M. (with his coach’s approval), then make it to seminary. He was soon joined by three other seminary goers, Karen and Gary Orth, and DeWayne Colombe.

    Karen and Peter were soon setting swim records for their high school, and doing well at state meets, too.

    “I seem to be wider awake during the day than when I didn’t get up early,” said Pete. “It wasn’t that much of a decision really. Church comes first and then swimming.”


    by Deborah Coon

    Are you an international people-lover? Have you lived abroad or wished you could? Do you write to a pen pal? Have you received your mission call? If so, culturgram may be a word to add to your vocabulary.

    A Culturgram is a four-page culture capsule published by the Language and Intercultural Research Center at Brigham Young University. Covering almost 70 cultures, these materials can introduce you to social customs and people all over the world.

    A Culturgram is people-focused, briefly describing greetings, rules for visiting and eating, etiquette, gestures, and other valuable information about a specific country that will help you understand your brothers and sisters throughout the world.

    Until you have had frequent and in-depth experience with people of different cultures, it may be difficult to imagine what differences actually do exist between cultures. Culturgrams try to point out many helpful do’s and don’ts that hopefully could keep you from an awkward or embarrassing situation.

    For instance, if someone nods at you, you may assume that person is in agreement with you. However, in some cultures a nod means the exact opposite—no. In other cultures, raised eyebrows, and not a nod of the head, means yes.

    An American may ask you to “come here” by waving the fingers with the palm up in many cultures, that gesture means good-bye.

    When meeting friends, the dialogue in your country may begin:

    “Hi. How are you?”

    “Fine, and you?”


    Then it goes on to something else. Many people around the world are offended at this seeming abruptness and prefer elaborate greetings that may take several minutes or longer before changing subjects.

    If you’d like to learn more about a particular country, send a legal size, self-addressed, stamped envelope for a complimentary Culturgram dealing with the country of your choice. Write BYU/LIRC, 244 B-34, Provo, UT 86402.

    [Dora Veronica Carrasco]

    [Brian Cox]

    [Honoring Branch President]

    “President Herman A. Volz, this is your life!” That’s how the Young Women of the Sheboygan Branch, Midland Michigan Stake, surprised their branch president one evening at an activity honoring his service to the branch. The program included reading President Volz’s life history (written and read by his wife Gloria), a tribute by his son Richard, and a recitation of his favorite scripture (Mosiah 2:17) by his daughter Sara. Since it was the Sheboygan Branch’s sixth anniversary, the branch history was also read. Church members as well as nonmembers who are friends of President Volz were invited, and a member of the stake presidency and his wife also attended.

    Off with the Old, On with the New

    It has been said that “nobody ever lost his shirt with his sleeves rolled up.” This theory was recently put to the test by a very ambitious group of youths from the Layton Utah West Stake. Working hard they scraped the old paint off and put the new paint on their stake farmhouse in the short space of three and a half hours.

    Lights in the homes of ward members began clicking on at about 5:30 A.M. one recent Saturday, and soon Mia Maids, teachers, Laurels, priests, and their advisers were gathered together at the stake farm for breakfast. (The official passport to the scrumptious meal of ham, pancakes, and orange juice was a paint scraper!) After eating, the youths found they had more than enough energy to complete their project. Within an hour most of the old paint had been taken off by paint scrapers; in some cases, it was beaten off with the ends of brushes. Nearly three hours of brushing or rolling the paint onto the house followed, after which the young people joined together for a group picture to help them remember the morning’s work.

    That evening they enjoyed themselves at a dance, but the truly memorable part of the day was summed up by Anne Rowley who said, “Our greatest sense of satisfaction came from the feeling that we were following the guidelines set down by our prophet and other Church leaders. We had made a concrete attempt to keep our community clean and orderly.”

    A Comfortable Place for Friends

    A different stake acted as host each time, but the result was always the same: an evening of fun, fellowshipping, and missionary activity as young Latter-day Saints and nonmember friends gathered at the Washington D.C. Temple Visitors’ Center. Each Sunday evening from August to September last summer, one of the stakes in the area would act as a host group, presenting a musical program followed by a tour of the center. Everyone was invited to bring a friend who might be interested in learning more about the Church. The activity coincided with a special visitors’ center display about youth involvement in Church programs. “It was a fun thing to do on Sunday nights,” one of the young women involved said. “It was a comfortable place for our friends. They could feel like part of the group, because they were with others from the same age group.” These pictures were taken the night the Oakton Virginia Stake sponsored the program.

    Refugee Relief Fund

    The First Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has announced the establishment of an LDS Refugee Relief Fund to help refugees of any religion throughout the world.

    “Since 1975 we have been deeply concerned about and involved in helping and sponsoring Church members and their extended families who are refugees from the conflicts in Southeast Asia,” the First Presidency letter says.

    “While the needs of our members are being met, the plight of thousands of refugees from all over the world is worsening. Vietnamese boat people, Cambodian and Laotian refugees, Afghan, Haitian, Somalik, and now Cuban refugees are among the displaced.”

    The LDS Church joins other charitable organizations in encouraging its members to “give as they are able to the charity of their choice.” Those who wish may send contributions to the LDS Refugee Relief Fund, seventh floor, 50 East North Temple, Salt Lake City, Utah 84150.

    by Jack Weyland
    Deseret Book Company
    $5.95, pp. 98

    Sam was a computer science major from Utah who had always felt it was best to marry someone born and raised in the Church—that way both sets of grandparents would be LDS. Then he met Charly—a liberated rich girl from the East who was planning to spend her life laughing at people’s beliefs. Her father was Sam’s father’s boss, and so Sam agreed to take her out—once. But what starts out as a disaster (“You never told me how much your father is paying you to take me out.” “Not enough.”) ends up in a marathon Ferris wheel ride—and the beginning of an entertaining and engrossing love story.

    Charly’s conversion; her and Sam’s courtship, temple marriage, and semester in a broken down BYU basement apartment, and their first few years together in South Dakota (“where fall lasts two days”) are told with the unpredictable humor that Brother Weyland is known for. Charly’s struggles to become a good Mormon wife (“If you want me to, I’ll learn to make plastic grapes in Relief Society”) are matched by Sam’s efforts to overcome his pride (“I could believe that the Savior could forgive past sins—but I wasn’t sure I could”). How each succeeds gives the novel some of its most memorable and sensitive moments.

    Charly’s death (which Brother Weyland introduces in the opening paragraph of the book) is a moving climax to the story. As Charly weakens, Sam agonizes: “This thing that to us was such a great tragedy, what was it to [the Savior], who saw beyond the grave? Did he understand the depths of my sorrow?”

    Then Sam answers his own question: “I remembered the raising of Lazarus—Mary and Martha weeping for the loss of their dear brother. … Jesus was certain that in five minutes Lazarus would come forth. What if he had turned to Mary and told her not to cry and that everything would be okay? What if he had treated lightly her sorrow?

    “Instead he wept.

    “He wept because they wept and because he shared their sorrow. He wept because he loved them, and whatever grief they carried, he shared it with them.

    “He would not leave me comfortless because he loves me, and he loves Charly. He wept because he loves us.”

    Charly is the first novel written by Jack Weyland, whose short stories have been appearing regularly in the New Era since 1972. Since then his humorous handling of and insights into what it means to be young have made him a favorite with New Era readers. Charly—perhaps his greatest effort yet—is bound to stir hopes that more novels will follow.

    Holly Sands, Robb Thomas, and Mary England examine genealogy

    Karen Orth, Gary Orth, and Pete Lauritzen finish workout before 6 A.M. (Photo courtesy Eugene Register Guard.)

    Dora Veronica Carrasco of the Winnipeg Third Ward, Winnipeg Manitoba Stake, has had an added challenge to her schooling this year. A straight “A” student ever since she and her family moved to Canada from Chile in 1975, Dora is taking her sophomore year in high school by correspondence so she can work, making it possible for her father, who practiced law in Chile, to attend school for a law degree in Canada. She’ll be back in public school during her junior year. “Sometimes you have to take a step backwards in order to take three steps forward,” explained Dora, who’s been a Church member for a little over a year. She is Laurel class president and also keeps busy tutoring math and English at a local junior high school.

    Brian Cox, a priest in the Greenwood Village Ward, Littleton Colorado Stake, welcomed 1,200 students and 400 faculty members from all 50 states and Puerto Rico to a national convention held in June at his high school. Serving as chairman of the 44th annual convention of the National Association of Student Councils was a big responsibility but one for which Brian was prepared. In June of 1979 he attended the 43rd annual convention in Orlando, Florida, and last January he traveled to Miami to present details of the upcoming conference to a meeting of the National Association of Secondary School Principals. Brian, an Eagle Scout, will be a senior this fall at Smoky Hill High School in Littleton.

    Art by Shauna Mooney