Sunday, October 2, 2016

Leaked Videos Shows The Brethren Are Deeply Concerned About YSAs

Although the 2016 October General Conference has just ended a few hours ago, the biggest news about the LDS Church may not be about what was said during General Conference, but what the Church leaders have said behind closed doors away from public view. Someone has uploaded videos of internal discussions among senior leaders of the LDS Church on YouTube account called "Mormon Leaks." These videos show Church leadership being briefed on a variety of topics such as YSAs & Marriage, politics, and marijuana. After each presentation, they talk about the impact these topics could have on the LDS church.
Two of those videos will be of interest to those who are young single adults in the LDS Church. One video shows Church authorities receiving a presentation on the topic of single Mormons delaying marriage. Another video shows the Brethren sharing their concerns about the young single adults in the Church.
The LDS Church has quickly put out a response to today's leak. Their response is below. 
LDS church spokesperson Eric Hawkins said in a statement to 2News, "Most of these videos appear to be from briefings received by senior Church leaders between 2007 and 2012. In these committee meetings, presentations are routinely received from various religious, political and subject matter experts on a variety of topics. The purpose is to understand issues that may face the Church, and is in pursuit of the obligation Church leaders feel to be informed on and have open discussion about current issues. This is an informational forum, not a decision-making body."
The Brethren work hard to stay informed and current on the issues of our day. It appears that these meetings is just one way they work to stay informed about current events and issues that are of interest to the LDS Church.
The videos of the Brethren talking about YSAs are available below.
Talking about single Mormons delaying marriage



Sharing their concerns young single adults in the Church


Monday, April 4, 2016

Feeling Conflicted Over Elder Kearon's Talk About Refugees

Elder Patrick Kearon, of the quorum of the Seventy, gave a moving talk about the Church's call to help refugees during the Sunday afternoon session of the April 2016 General Conference. 
Many Mormons were clearly moved by his talk. However, there were many of Mormons who felt conflicted about his talk. I can see this conflict in debates among members of the Church after General Conference on social media sites.
Before I explain the conflict felt by many members in the Church, I want to make it clear at the beginning that we are all for helping refugees. We fully support the Church's efforts in mobilizing members to gather food, water, clothing, bedding, and bags full of sanitary items so that they can ship it to refugee camps in the Middle East and Europe. 
Elder Kearon's talk certainly pulled at our heartstrings. Elder Kearon raised the valid point that Christ himself, at one point in his life, was a refugee when his parents fled to Egypt when he was a little child. He talked about how Mormons were refugees when they were forced to flee from place to place by angry mobs and ultimately had to leave the United States to find peace beyond the western frontier of the United States by moving into what was then Mexican territory. We know that many in the Church were once refugees. We clearly heard the call to be compassionate and charitable towards refugees that are escaping war, famine, and economic uncertainty in their homelands. 
It was clear that Elder Utchdorf was moved by Elder Kearon's talk afterwards. Elder Uchtdorf talked about being a refugee prior to Elder Kearon's talk in General Conference.
However, many members couldn't help thinking about the ongoing political debate in America and in Europe about letting refugees into their homelands during his talk.  Many of us were thinking about how Europe suffered repeated terrorist attacks because they allowed people to come into their country without asking any questions about who was coming in. 
Elder Kearon didn't mention anything about opening the borders and letting as many refugees in as possible. His talk simply focused on the need for members of the Church to help the refugees. He explicitly stated in this talk that his desire was to focus on refugees themselves and not on immigration policy or the debates over the definition of a refugee. 
Yet, many members were torn between having compassion for these refugees and the desire for security against terrorism by refugees coming from certain parts of the world. Clearly, the hot topics of immigation, terrorism, and other issues came to mind to some people when they heard this talk even when Elder Kearon explicitly stated that he would be avoiding these issues.
Correctly or incorrectly, some people got the impression that we should sacrifice our desire for safety and security in the name of compassion. Many of us have a legitimate concern about sacrificing security for compassion by opening up our borders to people who wish to do us harm. The United States government, through both the FBI and DHS, have admitted that we have no way to verify who is coming into our country. Many members of the Church want to help the refugees, but they have a legitimate concern about their safety not being compromised while helping others.
We fully acknowledge that not every refugee is a terrorist bent on hurting as many as possible. Refugees do flee from all parts of the world to come to places of safety. Not all of refugees come from the Middle East. But some of the terrorists did come into Europe during the large wave of refugees who came from the Middle East last summer. And this fact certainly is still a presence in many people's minds.
Its clear that the recent events in Europe have affected some people's reception of Elder Kearon's talk. Under different circumstances or had the recent terror attacks not occurred, the response to his talk would have been more universally accepted. Instead, many people felt conflicted about his talk. Many debates erupted on social media sites about the issue of compassion versus security.
I don't know how to resolve the conflict between the call for compassion and the legitimate desire for personal safety while helping others. I don't know what the answer to that problem is. I felt this conflict while I listened to his talk. I confess to having participated in these online debates on various social media platforms.
I have been reflecting on this inner conflict and thinking about the points raised by both sides. I decided to write this post to ask the readers for solutions on this conflict. I don't want a debate. I want answers. I want to be Christlike but I also want to protect myself and others at the same time. 
How can members of the Church balance their desire for compassion and safety? Is such a balance possible? 

Saturday, April 2, 2016

The 2016 LDS Deaf Symposium Now Open For Registration

The LDS Deaf Symposium is a great way for Deaf and Hard of Hearing members of the LDS Church to gather together to be spiritually strengthened and to form connections with one another. Those who know American Sign Language are also invited to come. The dates for the 2016 LDS Deaf Symposium have been announced and online payment is now available.  More information is available in the flyer below.


Saturday, March 26, 2016

April 186th Annual General Conference Broadcast Schedule For Deaf Members of The LDS Church

General Conference is coming upon us again soon! As always, I am providing the broadcast schedule for Deaf and Hard of Hearing individuals who wish to watch Conference in an accessible format. See below for information on how to enjoy General Conference. 
If you have trouble viewing the infographic below, click on it and download it for better viewing. 

Sunday, September 20, 2015

October 185th SemiAnnual General Conference Broadcast Scheduale For Deaf Members of The LDS Church























































UPDATE: This has been updated to include more information about how to view General Conference in ASL.

UPDATE #2: We received word from many members trying to view the ASL interpretation for the General Women’s Session this past weekend that it was difficult to find the ASL interpretation on lds.org. We’ve done some research and it seems ASL and all other languages available through the language drop down menu have been removed from the main English broadcast page. All languages will now be shown on their individual language pages. This means that you need to go to lds.org/asl to find the ASL interpretation of General Conference. It will appear between “American Sign Language” and “Scriptures” on the page captured below. Sorry for this confusion. Please help us spread the word.

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Can Deaf People Serve LDS Missions?

Recently, I received a Facebook message from an LDS Bishop serving somewhere in Europe. He contacted me asking me if a Deaf member in his ward can serve a mission.
People with a hearing loss of any kind CAN serve a mission. I am hard of hearing and I served as an American Sign Language (ASL) missionary in the New York Rochester mission. 
However, just because someone has a hearing loss doesn't mean that they will serve as a Sign Language missionary. There are many Deaf and Hard of Hearing missionaries who have served in other countries and have learned to speak other languages. 
Sometimes, an individual with a hearing loss will be called to serve in their own country but will serve a foreign speaking mission. For example, I know of one Deaf missionary who has been called to serve in the United States and to preach among those who speak Mandarin. A lot of us were surprised when she was called to a Mandarin speaking mission because we all expected her to serve as a Sign Language missionary.
Given that there isn't a whole lot of information for branch presidents, bishops and stake presidents located outside (and inside) of the United States to review, I've decided to compile information to help people understand that any worthy young adult who is Deaf or Hard of Hearing can serve an LDS mission.
Can A Deaf Young Adult Serve On A LDS Mission?

Yes.
Any Deaf individual who wishes to serve a mission can serve a mission just like any other young adult who desires to serve. A Deaf person must go through the same process of going on a mission by first meeting with their bishop or branch president. The ecclesiastical leader such as a will give the young Deaf man or woman access to the Missionary Online Recommendation system. 
 How Does a Deaf Individual Prepare To Serve A Mission? 
A Deaf or Hard of Hearing individual must prepare for a mission just like any other young man or woman will. They must prepare spiritually, physically, mentally, emotionally and financially. 
Spiritual Preparation

Spiritual preparation means that they should be studying the scriptures and from Preach My Gospel prior to serving a mission. They should be engaged in serving others. They should be attending all of their classes at Church and actively participating in those classes. Be aware that The Church does have materials and resources for Deaf and Hard of Hearing people in American Sign Language but they do not have resources and materials for sign languages in other countries. Perhaps someday in the future, there will be materials created for people who speak sign languages in other countries. 
If possible, have the Deaf or Hard of Hearing youth work with the Sign Language missionaries in your area. If there are no Sign Language missionaries in the area, reach out to the Mission President and ask him to prayerfully select two missionaries who are willing to work with the individual in sharing the gospel.
If you know of a member in your branch, ward or stake who knows sign language, they can work with the youth in learning the gospel. Most Deaf individuals need extra preparation in learning the gospel because they are often not taught the gospel in their first language which is Sign Language.  Deaf people can also watch Church videos that are captioned in their native language of their country. 
Finally, be aware that some Deaf people will receive extra doctrinal preparation in the MTC from those who have already served Sign Language missions and are fluent in Sign Language. 
Personal Worthiness

They should be able to meet the personal worthiness standards requirements to serve a full time  mission because in order to share the gospel, they must  have the Holy Spirit with them. (see D&C 42:14). If there are any unresolved issues that they need to inform their ecclesiastical leader about, they should be encouraged and supported in meeting with their local Church leaders.  
Physical Preparation 

A missionary can be physically prepared for a mission by exercising everyday. Most missionaries walk or ride bikes every day for long periods of time. A missionary must be able to walk an average of six miles (10 km) per day and ride a bicycle 12 miles (19 km) per day. The best way to prepare is to walk or ride a bike everyday. They can also go to a gym and work out. 
However, most ASL missionaries in the United States are assigned cars because Deaf people do not live in close proximity to each other. Thus, they will spend a many hours driving around the city or country side. Yet, being physically in shape is essential when serving as a sign language missionary. 
Emotional Preparation 

It is hard to be emotionally and mentally prepared to serve a mission. Most missionaries work long hours everyday without financial compensation. A typical missionary day begins by waking at 6:30 a.m. for personal study. The day is spent proselytizing by following up on appointments, visiting homes or meeting people in the street or other public places. Missionaries end their day by 10:30 p.m. In addition to working long hours, they must deal with stress, rejection, living in a new area and meeting strangers and working with another missionary. 
Missionaries will have to learn to how to deal with limited contact with friends and family. They are limited to letters and emails and occasional phone calls to family at special times. They must cope with having their social life drastically reduced since they will spend most of their time teaching the gospel or serving others. They cannot use social media or play on computer games during their time on a mission. They are also expected to know that a mission is not a time to date other people or develop romantic relationships. They are expected to work for Heavenly Father. 
There are specific and unique hardships that ASL missionaries will face. They will have to deal with other missionaries and Mission Presidents who do not understand how to properly proselyte among the Deaf and Hard of Hearing. Mission Presidents are not prepared in the MTC of how to lead Sign Language missionaries or how Sign Language missionaries proselyte. 
They will have to confront missionaries who might be unkind or rude towards missionaries with a hearing loss. I have experienced this many times on my mission. I know that other Deaf missionaries have experienced this as well.
Sometimes missionaries will get angry that the ASL missionaries are in their area teaching Deaf people. They insist that THEY should be teaching Deaf investigators because they live in THEIR area. I have to make it clear to many missionaries on many occasions on my mission that my companion and I are called to preach to the Deaf and our coverage area is not limited to any area within the mission. 
Those who will be serving a Sign Language mission will have to prepare to preach the gospel to people who are Deaf and Blind or have other disabilities other than a hearing loss. Sometimes, missionaries don't have the resources and materials they need to share the gospel and will have to be creative in how they teach investigators. Many Deaf people have other unique challenges such as poor education or difficulty reading because English (or the native language of that country) is not their first language. 
Since Deaf people rely heavily on technology such as email, Facebook, Videophone, and TTYs to communicate with one another, Sign Language missionaries must rely on communication technology to connect with Deaf members and investigators. During my mission, it was really frustrating that we could not use these technologies as part of our missionary work. 
Financial Preparation

Like any other young individual, Deaf and Hard of Hearing individuals should also prepare financially for a mission by finding a way to earn and save money for their mission. They can also prepare by paying tithing.
What If a Deaf Person is Not Eligible to Serve a LDS Mission?

A Deaf or Hearing who desires to serve a mission but cannot serve a full time mission can still serve as a Young Church-Service Missionary. If you feel that it would be better for them to serve as a youth service missionary, they must meet the following requirements:
Be worthy to hold a temple recommend.
Meet the standard mission age requirements (18-25 for young men, 19-25 for young women).
Be honorably excused from a full-time proselyting mission (applies to young men only).
Be physically, mentally, and emotionally able to fulfill the specific call and its related duties.
Provide their own transportation.
Be responsible for their own financial support, including living expenses and insurance.
Be responsible for their own medical and dental needs, including eye care and prescription drug expenses.
Be endorsed by bishop and stake president.
If you have questions about Church Service Missions, you can contact the Church Service Mission Office.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

ASL Translation of the Book of Mormon Now Available on the Gospel Library App

The LDS Church has made the Gospel Library a lot more awesome by putting up the ASL translation of the Book of Mormon in the App. Here's how you access the ASL translation:
1. Open the Gospel Library app on your mobile devise
(or download it if you don’t already have it)
2. Go to “settings”
3. Under “content,” select “American Sign Language”
4. Click on “scriptures”
5. Download “Book of Mormon”
6. Enjoy!
Additionally, the LDS Church has also made available ASL translations of other Church resources such as the Ezra Taft Benson manual on the App. For example if you wanted to see the Ezra Taft Benson manual in ASL, then after completing steps 1-3 above, click on “Teachings of the Presidents” and download “Ezra Taft Benson.”
You can switch back and forth between your ASL materials and your English materials any time you want by going to "settings" and switching the language.
You can also view the General Conference videos in ASL on your smart phone, tablet or other device.
NOTE: Several users have been reporting difficulties in accessing ASL translated materials on Android. The LDS Church has already recieved feedback on this problem and are currently reviewing the issue to fix it.