Wednesday, June 27, 2007

You let offense keep you from your Father's House?

Here is a letter to all my friends who have opted out of our Father's house because they've been offended. I'm finding a lot of my friends lately have just stopped going to church because of how they feel they're being treated or something someone has said they didn't like. Let me preface by saying this: You can do what ever you want, because it's ultimately between you and the Lord, but don't stay away from HIM and his house because of them. If you want someone to sit next to you in church for moral support. CALL ME! I will Join you in your ward for support and reinforcement until you feel like you can handle it.

Dear Brothers and Sisters:

You know, some times you have to MAKE yourself feel at home. it sucks, but that's life. We can't change other people. All we can do is change how we act and react to other people. It's tiresome. I'm sure the savior felt that way when he walked the earth and I'm sure Heavenly Father feels that way when we fall short.

I'll be dog on if I’m going to allow someone to make me feel out of place in my father's house and in his Gospel. I HAVE A RIGHT TO BE THERE. WE ALL DO! All we can do is the following:

1. Make sure we make others feel as if they belong. Our father’s house should be at least the one place on Earth that anyone walking the streets should be able to enter in and feel God's love for his children and their love for each other.

2. Make sure we are filling our lives with those things that will remind us and feed us that love. It's sad to say but, we CANNOT always depend on others to give us that reminder or to "refill" that void when we're missing it.

3. Heavenly Father will provide for us times and places to teach the ignorant. Pray for opportunities and they will come. Be in places where those opportunities will surface. If you don't attend your meetings, you are missing opportunities. If you're turning down opportunities to speak, pray, bare testimony, or teach, we are cheating ourselves for sharing some of these concerns we have and cheating the Lord of his teaching moments.

Its TOUGH being LDS, we are a peculiar people. And with the history of the Church and racial relations with Blacks and Native Americans and so on...some of those old TRADITIONS will continue to be taught unless we dispel them. We have to know the Gospel to teach the Gospel. We have to be in those places where we can gain knowledge of it and we have to take upon ourselves to read and study the scriptures and doctrines not just rely on a 3 hour block one day week on Sunday to teach us all we know.

We, the children of God we are meant to be in his house, learning his ways and learning to be the living example of his ways.

Let's not be bitter and begrudging and weak in our resolve to not give up. Find reasons to be in his house instead of reasons not to be in his house.

We have been thru oceans and chains and shackles. We've been thru the "massa's whippings and raping and have had our families sold off and lost, cheated, “beated”, massacres and so on. We have been chased out of towns and states and have walked snow covered, wet, dry, rocky and dusty trails. I just think as a people, Latter Day Saints as a whole, we've gone through way to much to give up offended at this point even if at the hand of our own brothers and sisters. Know what I mean?

The truth is everyone has something that makes them feel out of place.

But you know we also agreed to that refiner’s fire when we choose to come to this earth. Where would we be if Jesus Christ , or Joseph Smith had walked away offended?

Please reconsider returning to our Father’s house.

House Rules...?

A friend of mine got married this month. She had indicated she wanted to get the Scriptures of Roman Chapter 12 printed up nicely and framed for her home.

When she said that, I did what most of us would probably do, I looked it up and fell in deep like with this chapter of Roman:

1I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.
2And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.
3For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith.
4For as we have many members in one body, and all members have not the same office:
5So we, being many, are one body in Christ, and every one members one of another.
6Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, whether prophecy, let us prophesy according to the proportion of faith;
7Or ministry, let us wait on our ministering: or he that teacheth, on teaching;
8Or he that exhorteth, on exhortation: he that giveth, let him do it with simplicity; he that ruleth, with diligence; he that sheweth mercy, with cheerfulness.
9Let love be without dissimulation. Abhor that which is evil; cleave to that which is good.
10Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honour preferring one another;
11Not slothful in business; fervent in spirit; serving the Lord;
12Rejoicing in hope; patient in tribulation; continuing instant in prayer;
13Distributing to the necessity of saints; given to hospitality.
14Bless them which persecute you: bless, and curse not.
15Rejoice with them that do rejoice, and weep with them that weep.
16Be of the same mind one toward another. Mind not high things, but condescend to men of low estate. Be not wise in your own conceits.
17Recompense to no man evil for evil. Provide things honest in the sight of all men.
18If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men.
19Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord.
20Therefore if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink: for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head.
21Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good.

As I read this, it was really touched and thought... these would make perfect house rules! What if each home lived by these rules and each person took upon themselves to internalize these things? That would be pretty cool. So I think I'm going to make a wall hanging as well and hang this up somewhere.

Somethings have happened that causes me to want to simplify life. While focusing on the big picture.... those little mircro managing nit picky things....sort of just fall by the wayside. THEY USUALLY DON'T MATTER ANYWAY is what I'm finding out. What matters most at the end of the day is how I've decided to effect someone else's life intentionally, for the worse or the better.

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

"This is TOO COOL!"

"Wait a minute! I'm sitting here out side the Provo Temple, in Utah listening to a black woman bear her amazing testimony!"

I thought the girl was going to jump out of her skin!

I rec'd an email on May 3rd from Sister Glo in Texas who is longing to be with and fellowship with other black Mormons. To feel their strength and partake of their spirit and know there are others out there who live and believe and can share their testimony with her. She was expressing her desire to come to the Annual Picnic on June 2nd. Here is a part of the email she sent:

" It is a 20 hour drive from the Dallas, TX area to Salt Lake City. I've got the first week of June off for vacation and I am so tempted to make the drive just to see the sea of African American LDS faces.But I'd be making that long drive alone. How could I afford it? Where would I stay? What would I do after the picnic is over? And then, the long drive back.Alas, perhaps some other time. Please know that I am with you all in spirit."

When I read her email, I knew that she was supposed to be here. Within minutes I responded to her:

"Sister, I have a feeling that if you want to be here, you should be here. Allow me to work on some things and see what strings I can pull. I think we can find a way to make this happen. Exactly what dates would you be looking to come. The picnic is June 2nd and the Genesis Meeting would be on the 3rd. Know that we are you with you in spirit as well."

To make a long story short she with a friend, Sister Nyk made the 22 hour journey all night from Texas to Utah and came to the picnic. They stayed until yesterday morning. Gloe said soon after that conversation things just fell into place for her and Nyk to come. They were able to stay with a friend from Texas who actually came back to BYU to come to school and doesn't have any roommates. She and I exchanged cell numbers so we could keep in touch while they were traveling through the night. I would be up doing preparations for the bbq anyway and wanted them to know we were here on the other end just waiting for their safe arrival!

It was such a great experience meeting Glo and Nyk. Because of my duties as the Genesis Activity Chairperson I was spread a little thin of spending too much time with them at the picnic and the Genesis meeting, but they found their way into the hearts of several others. I did spy them laughing and fellowshipping and having a great time with the other Genesis Members. I was able to spend time with them Monday evening with another friend Sister Teon. We had dinner and ended up at the Provo Temple because we wanted to hang out some more and take pictures. It was dark, about 10 pm as we all walked around the Provo Temple laughing and sharing our different experiences of trying to date black nonmember who think we've been brainwashed, and even trying to convert and share the gospel with others of our race who simply are closed minded and felt we had absolutely lost our own minds. We are not opposed to dating the white brothers in the church, their just seems to be a lack of interest on their part to date us. We are saddened by what seems to be a shortage of Worthy Males of any race for sisters in our age group. Most of the one's we know have taken to dating nonmembers and/or are inactive and have left their Priesthood and temple covenants dormant and vacant. They may not be unworthy of them, they are just not in full strength or desire to be in practice with them for the time being. We do pray for their strong and speedy return.

Earlier at dinner other restaurant patrons were getting a kick out of 4 black Mormon chicks all giddy, happy, laughing and thick into discussing Mormonism. Some looked at us like we took a wrong turn in Compton and ended up in Happy Valley Provo Utah, in and Indian Restaurant eating chicken curry and rice by some HUGE mistake!

It was good to vent and share these thing. And it always came back to the same focal point: WE ARE NOT STUPID! We are members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints and we proclaim that we have the fullness of the Restored Gospel. We know with all certainty what WE believe is true regardless of what myths others try and claim we believe. Proud to strong Mormon women who happen to have skin that are different shades of lovely divalicious brown! We talked about the blacks and the priesthood ban and how we understood the world to be at that time and why it's not a factor in our testimony one way or another. We did speak about how nice it was to know that more blacks are starting to believe the story about "a white boy, an angel and some gold plates!" And even how Sister Gladys Knight has brought some much needed "FLAVAH" to our beloved Hymns. We Mormon got us a Gospel Choir! A Grammy Award Winning Gospel Choir, how Cool is that? We talked about the lineage we were each given in our Patriarchal blessings. I'm from the house of Manasseh, I announced! Sister Glo and Sister Nyk announced the same, but one of them also added... "aren't we all going to be?" My JAW dropped! They are the first people I've encountered that I know of from the tribe of Manasseh! My family My sister, daughter and brother are all from the house of Ephraim. My parent weren't given a lineage because they rec'd their Patriarchal blessings pre 1978 and haven't gotten them amended yet. Sister Teon is also of the house of Ephraim. They learned something new! I met two new "Tribe Sisters!" And Sister Glo is also left handed like myself so that was an extra bonus to me! This discussion also led to who may have lamanite or native American blood in their lines as well which then led to the Blessing and obligations the different tribes of Israel have. It was wonderful to be able to speak of such things as if they were every day life subjects. How sad that they aren't subjected into our conversations with friends and family more. If the Gospel is part of our daily lives, such things should become more so.

We spoke about faith and fear and how they cannot coincide with the other and I began to share an experience about faith.. when Sister Nyk interrupted me and said.....

"Wait a minute! I'm sitting here out side the Provo Temple, in Utah listening to another black woman bear testimony! I'm sitting her with black sisters who believe the same as I do, share the same morals and standards and everything, I just can't believe it!"

We all knew what she meant!
I felt that experience about 10 years earlier when I attended my first Genesis Meeting which was for the 20th Celebration of every worthy male receiving the priesthood. I was 29 at the time. We assembled together in the Tabernacle on Temple square. I looked around me and I was surrounded by the Saint. There were Many of us there. But it was the first time in my LDS life when the congregation was predominantly black. I looked over the congregation with it's shades of brown, caramels and chocolate with specs of Vanilla hear and there, I caught my breath and got teary eyed as the congregation sang... "Come, Come Ye Saints!"

"Yes!" I said...

" Come on ye saints of black, brown, caramel, white and whatever shade there is... Just come!"

My family joined the church in February of 1973. We've ALWAYS been the only ones with an exception of a single brother or sister her or there within the stake. I saw my first Black Missionary when I had come home to Battle Creek, Michigan for the summer after my first year at Ricks college in 1987. I'll never forget him, Elder La Touche. It was stake conference and I was introduced to him about 3 times.

When I was called as Genesis Youth adviser in 11 years later I was able to have stewardship over 3 of his daughters when they attended the Genesis Group.

It's amazing to me the History of Black in the LDS church. I'll be speaking alot of this because on June 8th 2007 it will be 30 years that MY father has been able to personally bless his own family with the priesthood. He was not able to baptize or bless his own children. And we're making sure he's making up for lost time with the Grandkids.

So what's the BIG deal about being a black Mormon you ask? Shouldn't we not be so into races and colors and things, you ask. Perhaps we shouldn't. Because some will play the race card any chance they get.

Me, I just get excited about knowing that black families are assembling together in the Gospel of Jesus Christ and making the journey to repair passed damage to their generations.

Consider this scenario in YOUR family history:

Great great grand parents as slaves. The life of a slave, you wake up in the morning with your spouse, 3 daughters and 2 sons. You go to bed your spouse having been sold to the Jackson plantation, 1 son having been sold to the Kennedy Plantation, a daughter given to the master's neice 3 states over as a birthday present, the other given to the Master as a breeder to create more slave babies... or revenue to increase the Value of his own plantation. You may never speak to them OR even see them again in this lifetime. You are helpless to do anything but watch your family be torn apart. IF you have a decent enough master to allow you those good byes. You go to bed with only 1 daughter and 1 son with you as your family. You wake up the next morning and wonder, "will I still be here by the end of the day?"
So yeah, it IS a big deal.

We have been given the Gospel of Jesus Christ! We are blessed with the priesthood which provides our men the power to act in the Name of God. To Bind and seal in heaven those things that are bound and sealed on earth. This Gospel has given us hope and the actual power to bring our families back together... for ETERNITY! We have been given the way to reconcile our families members from the past and open the way for our family members for the future.

When the church opened up in Africa was there any wonder there were whole wards waiting to be baptized?

The Johannesburg South Africa Temple is the first LDS temple in Africa (dedicated 1985). In the dedicatory prayer, President Gordon B. Hinckley prayed for blessings on this nation and that its leaders be inspired "to find a basis for reconciliation" among its people.
I believe it's also a basis for reconciliation as well through the binding ordinances of the work we do in our temples. I love that!

That's the big deal. And it does give me tender feelings to know that even though I have A LOT of family history to get done, I have those things necessary to make it happen. To be the welding links between my passed and future generations. I do get misty eyed when when I see a congregation of black members gathered together in his name.

For the record, I get misty eyed when I see the priesthood gathered together in his name, and the relief society sisters, and the young women and young men, and the primary. Ok, so Maybe... JUST maybe I'm turning into a big cry baby when it comes to spiritual matters lately.

So be it, I'm cool with that!

Monday, June 4, 2007

Annual Genesis Family Picnic!

The Genesis Group of the Church Of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints just had it's annual family Picnic on June! I'm here to tell you, it was OFF THE HOOK! As the Genesis Activity Chair I must say I am well pleased at the event. My staff is awesome! There's myself and 2 other sisters both named Pat. We call ourselves P2K (two pats and karyn.) And our Priesthood leadership is Brother Eddie, 2nd counselor of the Branch Leadership. I calculated numbers between 350-500 folks show up! We had bbq chicken, burgers and dawgs with our the regular picnic items. I went straight for the stereotype: I had a bbq chicken leg and a slice of water melon. Had the fryers shown up I would have had the fried chicken wings and water melon. Oh, and a BIG Thing of blue cotton candy! For the last 3 years we've had cotton candy, popcorn and icee machines as well as a small passenger engine for the younger kids to ride, and a Dunking booth! I was so proud to see one of my Pat's in the Dunking booth. Yes, that's right Grandma Pat got in the dunking booth! Each year I like to provide the youth and the kids with items to have some water fun. I had Brother Eddy buy some water guns. Being over the activity I felt it was VERY IMPORTANT for myself to participate in as much as possible. So I grabbed my piece, and encouraged brother Eddy to do the same. I then put all the water guns is a big sack and walked thru the park throwing handfuls of them out to the crowd. LET THE MADNESS BEGIN! It was FABULOUS! Never had I seen so many adults involved in water activities. I saw Fathers vs Mothers, Parents vs Kids, Old folks vs Young Folks, siblings vs siblings, and then it got really fun. I sort of slipped away to "find" other duties when the ice coolers and Ice coolers filled with half water broke out! This went on until the sun went down. It was as if black folks discovered the fun of water for the first time. And don't be emailing me tripping out because I KNOW HOW IT IS. I happen to be one of "THOSE" sista's who knows how to swim and digs the water. Culturally speaking to get a black woman's hair wet is suicide. It can be an all day process from washing to styling. But this day, it didn't matter. Didn't matter one bit. If our hair is braided then there's no crime done. But to wet or seat out a pressing job..... wo wo WO to the man who get the black woman's hair wet. This year we extended and invitation to the Office of Black affairs from the state of Utah to come and join us. As Mormons we do tend to set ourselves apart from the community. We don't utilize the boys and girls clubs or hang out too much at community gatherings because we have our Relief Society programs for the Women, Youth and primary programs for the Teens and children, Young adult things for the singles between 18-31, and elder quorum for the men. Within the church we have a great community which has unfortunately pulled us out of our neigborhood communities. We are hoping to bridge this gap and use Genesis not only as a fellowship branch for black members, their families and friends but as a community bridge. I think this kick off party was a great beginning to that. Sadly enough I was pulled to the side and notified that I would soon be release from the calling of Genesis Activity Chairperson. I have learned so much about myself in this calling. I had a lot of growing up to do. I think learning to have faith in others and those in authority over me is the biggest lesson. I'm grateful for that opportunity. At the same time I was informed I was being released, they presented with me a new opportunity to serve. They proposed the calling to me there at the picnic. I let them know I would fast and pray about it. "Ok," they said.. "but we need your answer in 24 hours, before the meeting tomorrow!" YIKES! The rest of the evening I contemplated what I was being asked to do in the Genesis Program. I can remember feeling intimidated by a calling only one other time: My 2nd year of Ricks College, I was called as a Gospel Doctrine Teacher. I was too busy playing softball and doing artwork in school to bother with graduating from seminary, so I wasn't so UP on Gospel knowledge. T here is a line in my Patriarchal blessing that states:
"There may be times when you are called to a position and you may think that you are incapable of fulling, but i promise you Sister Dudley that the Lord will bless you that if you seek His help and council you will be able to fulfill them..."
I'm going to be falling back on those words and that council A LOT in this next calling. Well... here's hoping! I'll leave you all with the words I used to opened our Genesis Picnic. It was the introduction to the family prayer:

Brothers and Sisters

What a wonderful opportunity we have today to be united as families, friends and sons and daughter of a Heavenly Father who stands on high.

I present to you this day as a day of love, fun and fellowship. But I also challenge you this day to take an evaluation of your life and family and rededicate yourselves to the service of building up God’s Kingdom.

The family unit is the most sacred blessing Heavenly Father can bestow upon us. Heavenly Father is calling for his children to gather in his name and return unto him

Make this day a New Day. Make this day the day we start taking those step toward God our father. Find reasons to stay close to him. Return to our churches and temples and places of worship. Return to our families. Return to those Holy places where we can feel the gift of the Holy Spirit upon us and stand in the light of God the father and in his son Jesus Christ. Return to our communities with family values, Christian Values. Bring cleanliness, joy and holiness into our homes and families. And then let us fortify our selves and spread that into hour communities so we can go forth and fortify another.

Let each one teach one, and then go forth and reach another.

May we stand strong and united in our efforts to praise, honor and love the Lord! And when the World looks upon us, let them see a visual example of God’s love.

Amen and Amen,

Let us all hold hands and gather in a circle for our Genesis family prayer.

See the following link for more info on the LDS Genesis Group:

Big Brother, Little Sister Moments

Big Brother, Little Sister Moments
Hand in Hand


I earned some temporary wings!