Volume 18, Number 1, Issue 70, Jan/Feb/Mar 2017

Blackgum Branch

– Gail Kightlinger Reporting

Due to bad weather, we had to cancel services a couple of Sundays. We had many prayers going up to God for us to be able to come together again soon.

We had several members who were out with various illnesses or hospitalizations. Our branch is small, so we miss everyone when they are gone. We pray for them and are pleased upon their return.

Charlotte Jamison welcomed a new great-granddaughter. Aleiha Jasmine Green was born on January 4th to Jasmine and John Green.

The branch enjoyed a great Christmas program. Charlotte Jamison did a great job putting it together.

Branch President Elder Curtis Davis, along with the rest of our priesthood, have been preaching the word of God. Each priesthood office has a unique gift; when they speak, we feel the Lord's spirit within our service.

I want to thank you for the prayers for our branch. We are thankful for the many blessings we have received from our Lord Jesus Christ. May God bless you all.

Blue Springs Branch

– Ardyce Nordeen Reporting

The saints at Blue Springs Branch have experienced highs and lows recently. Four beloved brothers in the faith left their earthly homes and our church family. Henry (Hank) Goldman passed away suddenly on November 11th, just after he had been diagnosed with lung cancer. A valued member and priest in our branch, he will be sorely missed, and our hearts go out to his widow, Kathy, and their sons. On November 14th, Jack Coop passed away. He will be remembered for his loyal service as a deacon and his gentle smile and cheerful greetings in the church foyer. Jack had been at The Groves for a number of years. His widow, Luella, is at the Longview Care Facility in Missouri Valley, Iowa. Long-time Blue Springs resident and church member, Frank Englebrecht, died on November 28th, after a lengthy illness. He was one of the first members of the Blue Springs Branch, with his service to our group going back over several decades. And just into the new year, Elder Roger Marsh died at his home in Oak Grove on the evening of February 13th. Roger's quiet ministry and ready smile will be missed by his family and his church family. Our hearts go out to his widow, Mabel, and his three sons and their families.

On a much happier note, Andrew and Mandy Erickson and daughter, Piper, were finally able to officially adopt their little foster daughter on November 18th. At the courthouse in Kansas City, Missouri, Poppy Rya legally became a member of the Erickson family. We celebrated her adoption at an open house in their home that evening. Many prayers have been answered!

Last November, we also joyfully welcomed new life when Adeline Mae Purvis was born to Austin and Christina Purvis on the day after Thanksgiving. Five-year-old Lydia is delighted to be a big sister! Adeline was blessed on February 19th at our branch by her grandfather, Patriarch Dennis Evans, and her great-grandfather, Elder Kenneth Purvis.

In December, we hosted the Center Place children's Christmas musical. Our sanctuary was filled to near capacity as we gathered to see and hear the culmination of several months of work by our children and youth.The youth presented a living nativity scene, and the younger children sang songs about Jesus as the "Light of the World." We also had a very special service on Christmas Day, attended by many of our own members and a goodly number of family and friends.

The beginning of January found us celebrating the marriage of Stephanie Turner and Michael Durant. They plan to be members of the Blue Springs Branch until the Air Force sends Michael to a service location. We will appreciate their ministry while we have them!

On February 7th, Craig and Ardyce Nordeen welcomed a new granddaughter, Adele Ariana Nordeen. She is the daughter of Monte and Jerah Nordeen of Florida, son and daughter-in-law of Craig and Ardyce Nordeen.

Congratulations to Heather (Moats) Martens of the Blue Springs Branch, daugher of Harvey and Ruth Moats. She has been awarded 2018 Teacher of the Year for Blue Valley Northwest High School in Overland Park, Kansas, where she has taught Spanish for twenty years. Heather is the sponsor of the school's Spanish Honor Society. She will go on to compete at the district level for the Blue Valley District Teacher of the Year.

As we have moved into a new year, it is with hope and determination to follow the commandments of the Lord more closely and fulfill his purpose in us.We met together to discuss how we can accomplish, individually and as a congregation, the steps to building the kingdom.

Bountiful Branch

- Annie Williams Reporting

Bountiful Branch is chugging right along this winter. After an ice storm and a later snow storm, we are prepared for whatever comes our way!

Bountiful celebrated Christmas by having our annual Christmas party. We packed into the trailer for a hayride and carol sing through the neighborhood, followed by snacks, hot chocolate and a Yankee gift exchange at the home of Fred and Betty Williams. All of our members looked forward to seeing who ended up with what gift. It is always so much fun.

The home of Austin and Christina Purvis is nearly done, with pretty blue siding already up. Bountiful is excited about our new neighbors and adding precious children to the branch.

We are very proud of Katelyn Purvis who graduated from high school in December. We know that God has her future in his hands, and she will be blessed in her next academic endeavors.

As we start our new year, 2017, Bountiful is excited about the coming growth of the neighborhood and branch and seeing God's blessings unfold.

Carthage Branch

– Elder David Tevebaugh Reporting

Three of our little ones were blessed at our first district meeting in Sperry, Oklahoma, on September 14th. Dustin and Tina Westbay had son Alex blessed by Patriarch Roger Tracy and Elder Ron Westbay (Grandpa). Keaton and Lea Conley had daughter Iris blessed by Elder Ron Westbay (Grandpa) and Elder David Tevebaugh. Casey and Shelly Tevebaugh had son Logan blessed by Elder David Tevebaugh (Grandpa) and Elder C. H. Whiteman.

We have had some medical problems in our branch, but were mostly all present for the first Sunday of 2017. What a way to start the new year

January 8th we were blessed with hosting the first South Central District Branch Presidents' meeting with High Priest Elbert Rogers (District President) and High Priest Steve Van Meter from Sperry, Oklahoma; High Priest John Atkins and Elder Denny Post (District Secretary) from Rogers, Arkansas; and myself, Elder David Tevebaugh, from Carthage, Missouri, attending. Much business was discussed and will be presented later. Bishop Dan Keleher not only attended the meeting, but also brought a wonderful message to us all at worship time.

We are working to improve our building, and with help from Bishop Joe Ben Stone, we had the one-hundred year old wall that was crumbling stuccoed.

Seventy Roger Schuelke brought us the gospel on January 22nd, and we were happy to hear him speak and share in fellowship.

Keep us in your prayers as we continue the Lord's work and try to grow our branch!

No matter who you voted for, pray for our president and his staff to keep our country free and under God!!

Center Branch

– Cindy Patience Reporting

On Christmas day, we were blessed as the Center Branch children and youth provided music and worship for Center Branch's Christmas Program with the help of Jonna Patterson, Judith Deacon, and others.

Our branch is happy to welcome Ralph Hendrickson into the church with his baptism in December. He and his wife Lola, who is already a member, have been attending Center Branch for a number of months.

Two of our young men were called to the Aaronic priesthood last fall and recently ordained during our Sunday services. Madison Moore was called and ordained to the office of deacon, and Isaiah Woods was called and ordained to the office of teacher. Both of these young men are a blessing to our branch.

We are happy to report that Ben and Diana Galbraith have returned to Independence after a long and arduous stay in Estonia where they had assisted with their granddaughter's care after she was injured in a serious accident. Their granddaughter is making slow but steady progress in her recovery.

Recently, we were saddened by the loss of our brother, David Wheeler. He was baptized into the faith at the age of eight and served as a deacon, priest, and elder, and as a bishop's agent over the years. He served in the Marine Corps during WWII. From 1953 to 1985, David was employed by KMBC-TV Channel 9 of Kansas City. He quietly and humbly gave fully of himself to the church and to the Lunch Partners program and served in many ways in the Independence community. He and his good wife, Manon (also deceased), welcomed many people into their home. We have and will miss them both but we are glad to know that they are reunited on the other side.

First Branch

– Brenda Evans Reporting

Even though November events seem much too long ago to be included in this report, the First Branch Thanksgiving Fellowship Dinner was one we want to remember. The delicious variety of food, along with the beautiful table decorations, added to the holiday gathering. The feast was truly enjoyed by all, and Keilah Zahner's musical talent shined as she played several violin selections. The remarks by President Fred Larsen highlighted the poetry of his ancestor, David Smith. It was a good reminder of the richness of our history.

The branch's election of officers was also held in November, and High Priest David Van Fleet was sustained by the people to continue shepherding the branch as branch president. His counselors, High Priests Mike Hogan, Ammon VerDught, and Jack Evans, also continue their supportive ministry.

Sunday, November 27th First Branch witnessed a poignant scene as the Joe and Nancy LaChance family brought Parker Sundberg and Marshall Sundberg, sons of Keith and Stephanie Sundberg and grandsons of Joe and Nancy, to be blessed by High Priests Ammon VerDught and David Van Fleet. "...and he took their little children, one by one, and blessed them, and prayed unto the Father for them" (III Nephi 8:23).

Much to our dismay, December brought the loss of two cherished members. Sister Wilma Lotz and Brother Joe La Chance answered the call of their Lord to come home. Each of these lives was dedicated to our Savior and brought love and happiness to many as they lived out their days here on earth. "...the spirits of those which are righteous, are received into a state of happiness, which is called paradise; a state of rest; a state of peace, where they shall rest from all their troubles, and from all care, and sorrow..." (Alma 19:44).

The Children's Christmas program was held at the Blue Springs Branch on a wintery December Sunday evening. Much dedication, time, effort, and prayer brought together a lovely presentation by approximately sixty young people to remind us of the hope of the world. "...Lift up your head and be of good cheer, for behold, the time is at hand, and on this night shall the sign be given, And on the morrow come I into the world..." (III Nephi 1:12,13).

The new year of 2017 begins with hope and prayers for God's presence to fill the hearts of his people and cause them to love him and one another.

Southern Indiana Branch

– Rebecca Paris Reporting

The Southern Indiana Branch has had several adventures in the last few months to report! One of our big events was having Corwyn Mercer come to visit with some of the youth group from the Center Place! They were kind enough to come support Nathan Paris as he performed Elf and also brought us an awesome worship service as well! The youth sang two beautiful songs for us and brought a wonderful worship experience.

December brought our college student, Rachel Paris, home to our branch, and we loved having her with us. Her thoughtful questions and comments during Sunday School are always appreciated, as is her beautiful singing voice. We appreciate your prayers for Rachel as she spends the next six months in Orlando, Florida, for the Disney College Program. We are proud of her courageous spirit as she starts her adventure to choose her career.

We once again hosted one of our favorite events in December, our live nativity! We had over one-hundred guests on our church property by the highway and helped raise about $500 for the Salvation Army Angel Tree Program. Some friends of the church love animals, and they bring their miniature donkeys and sheep to visit for an evening. They constructed a stable, and we added straw, actors, costumes, music, a campfire, snacks inside, lighting, and a red kettle from the Salvation Army, as we strive to create a wholesome environment where people will know that we love and serve the babe in a manger, Jesus Christ, our Lord.

Riley Woodruff has joined a traveling volleyball league, and Kevin Woodruff made the A team on his school basketball team! Nathan Paris had the lead in his high school play as well as a fractured tibia from a cross country meet. He is on the mend now and wanting to play baseball. The youth in our area continue to be vital to our branch. Nathan has now led three worship services. We are thankful for their willingness to take their place in the branch and to help serve in various ways.

Richard, Rebecca, and Nathan attended the Aaronic Priesthood Retreat and helped bring ministry for the weekend. More to come on that experience next time!

Your prayers are always appreciated for our branch, and please know that we are praying for you, too! Until we meet again!

Sperry Branch

– Debbie Eastin Reporting

The fall season was busy with normal celebratory family events and holiday dinners. On the weekend of November 11th, several of our men attended the Men's Retreat in Blackgum, Oklahoma. That Sunday, High Priest Steve Van Meter was confirmed as our 2017 branch president. Elder Will Jobe returned as our guest speaker and everyone rejoiced over a Thanksgiving feast. Christmas morning, Apostle Roger Tracy gave the message, and seven-year old Scarlett Heilman provided the special music. All in attendance were richly blessed.

The season always brings the close of the school semester, testing, and state competitions. So, congratulations to all our students that completed the fall semester. You are awesome! A special shout out goes to Paige Sanders for her vocal performance in the Texas Regional and Area Mixed Choir Competition.

At the close of the year, we lost two of our beloved members. Sister Jonnie Fae Basse and Brother John Lawson both went to be with the Lord on December 28th. While thoughts of each still bring tears to my eyes, I rejoice in their renewal. John has tossed the cane away and walks tall with no pain. Jonnie Fae's mind and body are now free. Surely, she is singing with the angels, and dancing, too. May we be as prepared and looking forward to the day God calls us home.

Treasure Valley Branch/Magic Valley Group

– Sandee Hill Reporting

We, in the Treasure Valley Branch and the Magic Valley Group, are still trying to figure out what happened to 2016; it has been a long year for some of us, and others are still trying to figure out how it is already January of the new year!

It is January 24th, and I read in the newspaper yesterday that as of Monday, the 23rd, we had set a new record for snowfall – thirty-five and a half inches in the last few weeks. Those of you who were in attendance at our reunion a few years ago, when we had snow in June, are probably not too surprised; but for all of us that are experiencing this now, it came as a surprise to us, since we have not had much snow for the last few years. However, this did provide an avenue for service to our neighbors as our priesthood members spent their before and after work hours using snow shovels and snow blowers to help clean up the neighborhoods where they lived. Even Priest Buck Lee was seen, snow shovel in hand, assisting those that could not get out and shovel their walkways. I also heard a rumor that Beth Wigle was seen outside in her neighborhood, not only shoveling snow, but cleaning out city drains for the "big thaw." We are looking forward to spring!

Our elders continue to travel to Castleford to meet with the saints in the Magic Valley Group once a month, while the saints there meet regularly for classes two weeks out of the month and travel to meet with us the first Sunday of each month to partake of communion.

A special service was held in October to confirm A. J. Gonzales as a member of the Remnant Church. Both groups met in Castleford to celebrate together in this ordinance, and afterwards we fellowshipped together and shared a meal.

On Halloween, we met at Morgan and Beth Wigle's home. Brother Morgan set up his grill and served spiced apple cider to the parents and children in the neighborhood. Elden and Hazel Easterday brought their old-fashioned apple juice press and several boxes of apples and shared fresh cider with all in attendance. Several neighbors stopped to watch the process and visit with us. The juice is like nothing you have ever tasted! We hope to make this an annual tradition!

In December, the Treasure Valley group traveled to Hagerman for a combined Christmas program with Remnant and Community of Christ youth! The musical was titled The Lone Manger. It was set in the old west, and the children did a fantastic job! It was co-directed by Hazel Easterday and her daughter, Janelle Roland. Paula Bracket played prelude music while the people gathered.

Our Church School class started a new study of The Central Witness of the Book of Mormon, facilitated by Debbie Kollecker. Sister Debbie is guiding our adult class while Tony Hill leads another class for our young adults.

Debbie Rivera welcomed a new great-grandson to their family on December 12th. His name is Grayson Donovan Poehler, and he joins parents, Mark and Eleana.

Elden and Hazel Easterday welcomed a new grandson, Ridge Levi, on December 5th. He is welcomed also by his mother and father, Desiree and Levi Hymas. He joins an older sister, Hazlee, and older brother, Tripp.

We are all anxiously looking forward to what the Lord has to share with us in the coming year!

...Other News

The Marlin Texas Branch is saddened by the passing of member Edna Fisher in October. She was a faithful follower of Jesus Christ and his restored gospel. Edna's son, Richard Hoover, and daughter, Debra Michael, are both members of the Marlin Branch.

Two members of the Missouri Valley Branch in Iowa passed away recently. Patriarch Alvin Pitt passed in November, and Patriarch Darrell Argotsinger in December. Brother Pitt spent much of his life studying the Scriptures. He served many years as a branch president at two different branches in Iowa. Brother Argotsinger also served at two different branches in Iowa as branch president. His life-long service to the church was most dear to him.

All three will be missed by their families, friends, and the saints in their respective branches.