FYI: For Your Information

“FYI: For Your Information,” New Era, Dec. 1990, 40–44

For Your Information

Merry Christmas around the World

Ever wondered how your ancestors might have signed their Christmas cards? This year, you might want to try to do it the same way. Here’s a list of how to write “Merry Christmas” in a number of different countries. Have fun with it!

Belgium: Zalig Kerstfeest

China: Sheng Tan Kwai Le

Denmark: Glaedelig Jul

England: Happy Christmas

Finland: Hauskaa Joulua

France: Joyeux Noël

Germany: Fröhliche Weihnachten

Greece: Kala Christougenna

Italy: Buon Natale

Mexico (and other Spanish-speaking countries): Felíz Navidad

Netherlands: Vrolijk Kerstfeest

Norway: Gledelig Jul

Poland: Boze Narodzenie

Portugal: Bõas Festas

Rumania: Craciun Fericit

Russia: Srazhdyectvom Hristovim

Sweden: God Jul

Wales: Nadolig Llawen

Start a Christmas Tradition

Don’t leave all the traditions up to your parents—you too can help make the holidays more spiritual, more fun, more exciting, and more memorable. Look what some of your friends are doing.

“When my mom sets up the nativity, she puts the figure of the baby Jesus in a safe hiding place and leaves the manger empty. We scatter straw on the stable floor. When one of us does something nice for someone else, we anonymously sneak a piece of straw into the manger. By Christmas Eve, the manger is full of straw and ready for the baby Jesus.”

“Our mom quit making Christmas cookies, so we took over. She makes us sign a contract first. The contract lists the ingredients we’ll need, the night we’ll bake, and a promise to clean up EVERYTHING. Then she goes in another room to wrap gifts and leaves the cookie baking to us. We have a lot of fun creating unusual and traditional Christmas cookies.”

“Each night of December we pull a slip of paper with a scripture on it out of a basket, read it, and then pin the slip of paper on the tree. It’s like an advent calendar, and it keeps us from getting carried away with shopping and high expectations.”

“At Christmas time our grandparents visit and tell us stories about what our parents were like when they were kids. It’s so funny! We find out things about our parents that we’d never know just from watching them.”

“Our family went to a tree farm last year to cut our own tree. We made a day of it, including a massive snowball fight. We’re definitely going to do it again this year, so I guess it’s a new family tradition.”

Decking the Shaken Halls

It was a unique service project for a unique Christmas season. Many families in the northern California bay area were still busy rebuilding their homes after last year’s tragic earthquake and hadn’t given Christmas decorations a thought. But the girls in the Hayward Fourth Ward, Hayward Stake, had. They decided to make Christmas decorations for earthquake victims in the surrounding areas.

The girls made napkin holders, Christmas tree decorations, and Christmas wall hangings. Each piece was one-of-a-kind, and the recipients were thrilled with them, since many of their own decorations had been destroyed by the quake. Their project spread the true Christmas spirit to both the givers and the receivers.

Missionary-Minded Princess

Jennifer Jones of the Chelmsley Wood Ward, Lichfield England Stake, is hoping that her title of “Coleshill Carnival Princess” will give her the chance to do some missionary work. Since she was crowned, the 15-year-old has modeled for fashion shows and hair displays. “My portfolio has gone out now,” she says, “and if I develop a career as a model, I shall really enjoy meeting people and sharing my beliefs.”

Stormin’ Mormons

The best high school cross-country runners in the western U.S. gathered in Fresno, California, recently to see who was the fastest of them all. And when the dust had settled, it was discovered that the first-, second-, and third-place winners in the freshman division were all LDS.

Jeremy Call, who came in first, had one of the fastest times ever recorded for a freshman. He’s a member of the Bountiful 27th Ward, Bountiful Utah North Stake, and loves going to seminary. He’s also into Scouting, school, and basketball.

Christopher Merkley was second. He’s a member of the American Fork First Ward, American Fork Utah Stake. He has high grades (especially in science), loves studying Church history in seminary, and is completing his Eagle rank in Scouting.

Marc Lawson, of the Fresno Fifth Ward, Fresno California North Stake, was third. All five of his brothers and sisters, plus his parents, run competitively. Marc is active in seminary and is in his teachers quorum presidency.

No one realized the three top finishers were LDS until after the race. But they all became fast friends as soon as they found out.

Write On!

Robert Bennett of the St. Albert Ward, Edmonton Alberta Riverbend Stake, wrote his way to first place in the Canadians for Health Research—Youth Health Awareness Award Essay Competition. His essay covered acute lymphoblastic leukemia and its effects on his young sister’s best friend.

Robert is active in seminary and is president of his teachers quorum. He attends a French-immersion senior high school and loves art, music, and reading.

Pacifically Speaking

Joy Floreza Lavarino of the Matina Ward, Davao Philippines Stake, can give you the whole song and dance routine. The 17-year-old had the lead in the local institute’s version of “My Turn on Earth.” She also helped with the choreography. She’s always using her musical talents to help her ward and groups at school.

Joy is an honor student, studying to be a midwife. She also likes to play volleyball and bowl with her father. She’s a teacher and a Young Women secretary in her ward, and is a champion scripture chaser. Joy is the youngest of four children, and one of the greatest events in her life so far involved going to the temple, where her family was sealed.

What Goes On in Ghana

Although the Young Women program was not introduced in Ghana until early 1986, the program has really taken off. The young women have made banners depicting the Young Women Values and colors, and are busy applying those values by participating in a number of service projects.

One of the most memorable of those projects was preparing a program for the patients in a mental hospital. The girls acted out the story of the birth of Christ for the patients and did other activities for them. They also helped with the collection of needed supplies for the hospital.

The young women in Ghana also have an avid interest in cultural arts and hold cultural arts programs periodically.

Speaking Out

It’s not always easy to talk about the Church when you live in an area where Latter-day Saints are few. But Sue Porter, of the Windham Ward, Portland Maine Stake, has no fear. A recent newspaper article that cited Sue for being student of the month dedicated quite a bit of space to the Church involvement Sue mentioned to the reporter.

In addition to her exceptional grades and activity on the yearbook staff, the school choir, the field hockey team, and the cross-country ski team, the newspaper article said that Sue was president of her Laurel class and active in early-morning seminary. It also mentions her accomplishment at girls’ camp.

“Her goal is to attend Brigham Young University as a business major and have a successful marriage,” ends the article. Sue is not afraid to say what she believes.

Wrestle Mania

Fourteen-year-old Trevor Hoffman of the Carrolton Second Ward, Lewisville Texas Stake, has already been wrestling for ten years. Recently, he won the Texas Amateur Wrestling Association Championship, in the 15-and-under, 85-pound division.

Last year Trevor had a perfect 21–0 record. He credits much of his success to family support. He’s also got several Montana State wrestling and judo championships under his belt, which he earned before moving to Texas. His goal is to qualify for the 1996 and 2000 Olympics.

Trevor doesn’t live his life on the mat, though—he spends some time hitting the books and has made his school’s high honor roll. He’s also active in his ward.

In a Class by Herself

Being the only LDS girl in your class isn’t easy, but Kimberly Anne Travers, a Mia Maid in the Airdrie Ward, Calgary Alberta North Stake, found that it doesn’t hurt. Her classmates thought enough of her to elect her junior high school studentbody president. She’s the first LDS student ever to be elected to that office at her school, and she’s excited about setting an example as she serves. Kim’s other interests include studying and playing the flute.

Swimming and Strings

Outside of church, 13-year-old Joan Chidester of the Bowie Ward, Suitland Maryland Stake, has two major interests—competitive swimming and playing the violin.

Joan plays in her junior high orchestra, and although she’s only an eighth grader, she has been invited to play with the senior high orchestra too. That takes a lot of practice, as does her swimming. She was recently named the most outstanding swimmer of the 11–12-year-old girls in the Maryland Association of United States Swimming.

All this takes a backseat, however, to her Church activity. She is serving as Beehive class secretary, and loves to do baptisms for the dead in the Washinton Temple.

An Activity with Impact

When you want to do a stakewide service project but your stake covers a 75-mile area, what’s a ward to do? The Auburn California Stake solved the problem recently with their “Day of Impact.”

Each ward and branch chose a local project that would be completed on the same day. Afterwards, they met at a centrally located park for a barbecue, games, and story swapping. They talked about things like how they painted bleachers at a high school, built a concession booth by the football field at another high school, and weeded and cleaned yards and cemeteries. They also repaired broken headstones. They sanded and painted picnic tables at an elementary school and even restored a historical landmark—an old caboose.

Later, at a stake fireside, everyone was able to catch a glimpse of their work via video—leaders had filmed each project. Even though they had spent the day working apart, they felt a spirit of pulling together.

What’s in a Name?

Once you learn to spell the name of your home town, “Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysyliogogogoch,” you’d think the rest would be easy. Still, it was a major accomplishment for 13-year-old James Roberts, a member of the Reading Stake and resident of the long-named village on the island of Anglesey, North Wales, to be accepted into the Indefatigable School.

The Duke of Edinburgh is the patron of the Indefatigable School, which trains young men for leadership careers, especially within the armed forces. Although James learns all the normal school subjects there, he also has lessons in navigation, canoeing, seamanship, mountaineering, orienteering, archery, and as many other sports as he can manage.

“In our spare time we have to do our own laundry, clean the school, and prepare and serve the food,” says James. “It’s a good training for my mission.”

South African Stars

Three South Africans are shining, both at church and at school. Donovan Bowen, Bernice Doller, and Owen Porter, of the Verwoerdburg Ward, Pretoria South Africa Stake, have found time to excel in a number of things.

Donovan finished second in high school cross-country meets and a provincial area triathlon. He graduated from seminary, received his Duty to God Award, and likes cycling and other sports.

Bernice captains and coaches her school’s basketball team, which won the provincial league championship. She plays the piano, is also a seminary graduate, and received her Young Women Recognition award.

Owen was chosen to be his school’s athletics captain, was the Senior Victor Ludorum in athletics twice, and excels in volleyball and cross-country. Another seminary graduate and Duty to God Award recipient, Owen is also a leader in his priests quorum.

Photography by Philip Shurtleff

The “Mormon Meteors” met at a cross-country race in Fresno, California. They are (l-r) Christopher Merkley, Jeremy Call, and Mark Lawson.

Joy Floreza Lavarino of the Philippines not only dances and choreographs, but studies midwifery as well. She’s always willing to share her time and talents with the people in her area.

Young Women in Ghana’s Cape Coast district helped collect desperately needed supplies for a mental hospital, then presented the supplies and a program to the hospital staff and patients.

Mary and Joseph talk to an innkeeper in a service project play.

The Cape Coast Young Women gather in front of the mental hospital they helped.

The Auburn California Stake is a big one geographically speaking, but that didn’t stop the youth from getting together on a youth conference that helped communities in many different parts of the area.

South Africa’s Donovan Bowen, Bernice Doller, and Owen Porter. All are top scholars.