Press Forward

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This is a photo of Kirsten Erickson Benson, a courageous lady who left her home in Denmark as a teen, traveled across America by handcart and settled in Utah, all in search of religious freedom.

Kirsten’s journey was difficult. She left Denmark when she was very young. She couldn’t cross the plains with her family and had to shoulder much of the burden of pulling the handcart over mountains, sand and water. There were days she wanted to give up, sit down under a tree and die, but her faith and prayers, and the faith and prayers of her friends and family kept her pressing forward day by day.

Kirsten’s journey left her nearly dead, But her steadfast faith in Christ saw her through the difficulties of leaving the home she loved in order to make a better future for her children and grandchildren.

Today, our journey is different than our forefathers. We may not have the backbreaking work, lack of food, or building a new life in a wilderness to press forward through, but our journey is just as arduous.

There are times where the evil “wrong is right”, “nothing is sacred” attitude that is prevailing all around us is almost more than my spirit and body can handle. To tell you the truth, there are days where the sadness and hopelessness stops me in my tracks and it’s all I can do to keep pressing forward. Is it any wonder why this year’s Young Women/Young Men theme is……

““Wherefore, ye must press forward with a steadfastness in Christ, having a perfect brightness of hope, and a love of God and of all men. Wherefore, if ye shall press forward, feasting upon the word of Christ, and endure to the end, behold, thus saith the Father: Ye shall have eternal life” (2 Nephi 31:20).

Can you imagine a more time-appropriate theme? Everyday when we watch the news, head to the public bathroom, or see the anger on social media, we have to decide -like Kirsten- if we want to continue pressing forward or sit down and give up. Everyday we have to learn to love ALL men, feast upon the words of Christ and continue to endure to the end.

This life is not a fight to be won, it is a journey we need to continue on until our destination is reached.

It is my prayer that we will all learn what Kirsten learned so many years ago and have the strength, vision and courage to endure the hard days, enjoy the easier times, and find joy in the journey!

-Jenny Baker

Prayers for America: What Can I Do!? Even ONE makes a difference!

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Make a difference in your community by encouraging your neighbors to participate in the Prayers For America campaign!

Independence Day and Pioneer Day are quickly approaching which presents a perfect community outreach opportunity. These ideas take a quick phone call, email or comment or at the most a few hours of time.

1- Make a quick phone call. Ask the Mayor or Organization running your fireworks this year if there will be a prayer or moment of silence for prayer at your firework shows, breakfasts etc. If not, will there at least be a pledge or anthem?

2- Is there a local parade that we can enter with a banner for “Pray for America” or pass out flier along the route inviting people to join us?

3- What about hosting a neighborhood or family Potluck BBQ that we include patriotism, patriotic or uplifting music and join in prayer?

4- What is the American Legion doing for activities that we can join or help with? Did you know that in ID they have a Government Boys State Camp they select a few individuals to sponsor to attend and learn about the constitution and government?

5- What other churches or organizations are hosting events? Contact them and ask them to join others in having their congregations “Pray for America”.

6- What about our ward and Stake Events? Invite your church organizations to take an activity in June or July for Prayers for America theme? Can we have a backdrop to “Pray For America” that people can take pics and post?

7- Remind our congregations to “Pray for America”. Follow the spirit if it asks us bear testimonies of our country, BofM examples of prayer and extend an invitation.

8- Invite a refugee to speak on freedom.

9- Temporarily change your social media profile pic to one of the “Prayers for America” memes.

10- Talented folks can participate in singing prayerful patriotic songs and introduce it and extend invitation as a “Prayer for America”. Just think of God Bless the USA!!!

11- Balloon Releases with Please join us in “Pray for America”?

12- Share your pictures in of your family or these activities on social media. Use #PrayersForAmerica and #GatheringFamilies.