Alex Boyé was born in England to Nigerian parents. When he was 11 years old, his mother told him that she was returning to Nigeria for three weeks. In his “I’m A Mormon” video, he remarks that three weeks turned into eight years. Subsequently, he was raised by foster parents in England who eventually kicked him out at the age of 16, leaving him homeless and aimlessly wandering the streets of London.
In an LDS Living.com interview, Alex recalls, “The only help I got was when I opened up and said ‘Heavenly Father, I can’t do this on my own.’” It was during those desperate hours of seeking help and guidance that he was introduced to the gospel and baptized a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He would later serve a two-year full-time mission in the England Bristol Mission.
However, even though he had embraced the gospel and had a music career that was beginning to take off, Alex still felt alone and abandoned by his family. On an “Hour of Power” broadcast, Alex recalled, “It was tough. I had a lot of despair and depression. I felt like all the people I had loved rejected me in some way. It wasn’t until years later that I learned the reason my mom left, and then I cried.” As a young boy, Alex did not fully understand the sacrifices that his mother made to eke out a meager living. She worked three jobs, including walking the tracks of the underground “with all the rats and everything” picking up trash from 9 pm until 3 am.
In speaking about how he learned to love as Christ loves each of us, and how that love helped him to forgive and love his mother, he remarked:
I look at Jesus Christ, the trials that he went through, and here I am complaining about mine. What we realize is that God’s version of good is different than ours. You must go through it; you know what I mean? We’re just like, ‘Just give me ice cream, that’s good,’ but I tell you I am grateful for those trials. I am grateful for those times when I was 16 walking the streets of London eating from the trash. I’m grateful for all those experiences [be]cause sometimes when I meet friends or people who are about to give up and I’m like, ‘Let me tell you man, all this that you are going through right now, you are going to use it to bless other people.’ Sometimes it’s not for you.”
Even though it seemed that his mother had abandoned him, she never forgot about the son whom she loved. She was eventually able to put him in a boarding school and sent money to support him.
The gospel has helped Alex and his mother grow closer, and on Saturday, 9 October 2016, he was blessed to baptize his mother a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in London. He posted about the experience on his Facebook page stating, “So I baptized my mum in London today…Have been waiting for this moment for over 20 yrs. Cried like a baby. BEST. DAY. EVER!!!!”
Six Sister’s Stuff, comprised of six Latter-day Saints sisters – Camille, Kristen, Elyse, Steph, Lauren, and Kendra – all share a love of simple recipes, crafts, and home decor projects. They created a blog together called Six Sister’s Stuff to be able to stay in touch with one another as well as share their creative ideas. In addition to the easy recipes, craft ideas, and home decor projects, their blog also includes travel tips and date ideas.
Their blog is not only an excellent way for the sisters to stay in touch with one another, but it is also used to emphasize the importance of family time and togetherness. Speaking of their blog they write, “We are all busy, whether it’s with our kids, jobs, school, husbands, community involvement, or something else eating up our time, so all the recipes and projects you will find on this blog are quick and easy! Our recipes are family favorites that use ingredients commonly found in your pantry. Our crafts and home decor projects can be made with little or no money. We don’t claim to be amazing chefs- we just know the importance of feeding your family a home-cooked meal and sitting down to eat it together.”
Camille is the oldest sister. She and her husband Jared have been married for ten years and are the proud parents of three children. Camille and Jared met at Utah State University and were married nine months after their first meeting. She graduated with a degree in Elementary Education but later decided that she enjoyed working in retail and managing a business more. However, she does claim to use the things that she learned every day in raising her children. Her husband graduated with a degree in Physical Therapy and is a practitioner in Farmington, Utah. Camille is also a social media consultant for both businesses and bloggers and travels around the nation speaking at various conferences and events. She also enjoys going to the gym, reading, catching up on TV shows with her husband, and eating ice cream outside with her family on warm nights. She currently lives in Utah.
Kristen, the second oldest, has been married to her husband Ammon for nine years. They have three daughters, Addison, Ensley, and Mailey. She is a socially outgoing person and has enjoyed living in five states and meeting different people and making friends. She loves to run marathons, watch soccer, read, craft and spend time with her family. Her favorite food is a store-bought white cake with white buttercream frosting- especially if the icing is thicker than the cake.
Elyse married her eternal companion, Jared, in December of 2008. They are blessed with three beautiful children – Camden (5), Parker (3), and Riley (1). They lived in Logan, Utah, after they were married where Jared attended school at Utah State University. During the summer months, Jared managed a summer sales team, so they lived in Edina, Minnesota, and various parts of California. She loves spending time with her family, hiking, enjoying the outdoors, baking, shopping, jogging, and traveling to warm and exotic places. She also lives in Utah.
Steph graduated from Utah State University with a degree in Communication Studies. She married her husband, Andrew, in 2013, and they lived in Logan, Utah, while he completed his Master Degree in Accounting. In December 2015, they welcomed two new additions to their family, Brooklyn Sophia and Olivia Jane. The family currently resides in Los Angeles, California, where Andrew landed a job with the accounting firm Ernst & Young. Steph loves reading, running – she has completed numerous half marathons, Ragnar Relays, and one full marathon, shopping, traveling and hanging out with her husband watching Psych or The Office and eating Cookie Butter Ice Cream.
Lauren is a senior at Utah State University where she is studying Family, Consumer, and Human Development. She is a University Ambassador and is afforded the opportunity to share her love of and experiences at Utah State University with students all throughout Utah. She has always had an aspiration to attend cosmetology school and hopes to do so upon graduating. She immensely enjoys meeting new people, going on fun adventures with her roommates, playing tennis, and working out.
Kendra is the youngest of the six sisters. She is currently a sophomore at Utah State University where she is studying Business Communications. She is considered the stylish one of the family and keeps the others up to date on the latest fashion trends. She enjoys playing soccer (or any sport), working out, cooking, shopping, and being with family and friends. And she is also the favorite aunt.
The Six Sister’s Stuff blog is updated with fresh content on a daily basis. Each sister takes turns posting one recipe one day of the week – Camille (Sunday), Kristen (Monday), Steph (Tuesday), Lauren (Wednesday), Elyse (Thursday), Kendra (Friday0, and their mom, Cyd, posts the recipe on Saturday. Their mom also responds to all questions and comments on the site. And, just recently, the American retail food chain Kroger turned over its Twitter account to “Six Sisters Stuff.”
Seventeen-year-old Jordy Collins (born 19 December 1998) from Carlsbad, California, is a talented competitive surfer currently sponsored by Hurley, the clothing company. He is moving up the ranks in the local San Diego contest scenes, becoming one of the country’s rising young surfers. Some of his past sponsors include Famous Surf, Futures, Borst Surfboards, Surfrider, and Bony Acai.
To say that surfing is a major part of Jordy’s life is an understatement. He surfs three-four times a day except Sundays. Jordy is a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and understands that Sundays is a time for attending Church meetings and spending time with family. In a 3 July 2016 interview with Deseret News, he said, “I usually don’t surf on Sunday, so I get questions. You explain and then they say, oh, OK, that’s cool.”
Surfing is his full-time job, and his work conditions are simply unimaginable. First, to get to “work” each day, he has to walk two entire blocks to get to the beach. Then he has to endure not only the heat from the sun but the water as well. But that isn’t all. His “job” also requires him to travel to competitions in Hawaii, Brazil, Mexico, Barbados, Florida, Virginia, and North Carolina. And, every year he moves to Hawaii for a few weeks to train. Being homeschooled, he can work at his “job” full-time.
Seven months ago in an interview with stabmag.com, he was asked what three things he would take to a deserted island and he replied, “boards, friends, and family. Maybe a girlfriend – do I get the fourth thing?” When asked what he hoped to be doing ten years from now, he commented, “I just hope I’m surfing. Whether it be on the tour, or free surfing, I just want to surf.” He stated that the biggest influence on his surfing is John “John” Florence, a professional surfer from Hawaii who is known as “one of the most dominant Pipe surfers of his era” and for his tube riding and aerial abilities. And he also mentioned that he is the most afraid of big waves and the possibility of drowning in them.
According to the 3 July Deseret News article, “Last year he was one of 10 surfers — and the lone American — selected from around the world to compete on a Brazilian island for the title of King of the Groms (in surfer parlance, a young surfer). Sponsored by Quiksilver, it’s part surf competition, part photo session. In the end, Collins was named the winner.”
Jordy has numerous accolades to his credit. At 2016 National Scholastic Surfing Association regional championships – a culmination of 10 qualifying competitions on the West Coast – he was the winner of the junior (19 and under) championship and placed third in the open men’s competition. His father, Daren, was the winner of the super senior division, marking the first time that a father and son had won trophies. In the Surfing America series, which uses a Grand-Prix type scoring system based on the results of six competitions, Jordy won the overall 2016 Series championship. And, at the Volcom’s global championships in June, he placed fourth in the junior competition. His ultimate goal is to qualify for the World Surfing League and make surfing a career. He also has hopes of making it to the 2020 Olympics as well.
Jordy learned how to surf as young as two-years-old when he would ride on the end of his father’s surfboard. He has three siblings – Justin, a returned missionary currently attending BYU, Joshua who is serving a mission in the Czech Republic, and Jill, who lives at home. All of them grew up learning how to surf. His father, a 51-year-old sales executive, who still surfs several times a week and competes in local surf events, commented, “The family that surfs together stays together.” Jordy recalls, “As long as I can remember my dad would take me out surfing.”
Deseret News further reports, “By 4, he was boogie boarding and surfing in the white water close to shore. At 7, he began paddling out alone to catch the waves. He started competing in local surf events at 9 and then two years later began competing in regional events up and down the coast.” He has surfed waves in the 25- to 30-foot range, but also has a keen interest in Big-wave surfing (riding waves that top 20 feet and are as big as 70 feet) as well.
Jordy believes his values have given him perspective and helped him deal with the pressure of the sport. As for flying off to spend weeks with other surfers whose values and morals differ from his, he comments, “My parents trust me. They know what I’m about. They know that I’m strong in the gospel and that I have values.”
Abraham Lincoln once said, “As I would not be a slave, so I would not be a master. This expresses my idea of democracy. Whatever differs from this to the extent of the difference, is no democracy.” On 1 January 1863, he issued a presidential proclamation and executive order known as the Emancipation Proclamation.
Emancipation freed approximately 4 million slaves. In turn, the Freedmen’s Bureau was established to help those once held in the bonds and tyranny of slavery to transition to living life as a free people and as citizens by providing food, housing, education, and medical care. As citizens, for the first time in U.S. history, their names were recorded and preserved so that future generations would know and never forget those who blazed the trails of freedom before them.
To help make those records accessible to those tracing their family history and wishing to learn about their slave ancestry, the Freedmen’s Bureau Project was created. The project is a collaborative partnership between FamilySearch International and the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA), the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture, the Afro-American Historical and Genealogical Society (AAHGS), and the California African American Museum. The objective of the project is to help both Black Canadians and Black Americans reconnect with their Civil War-era ancestors by focusing on records of former U.S. slaves who became citizens. Thousands of volunteers are helping to type, and index information from the Freedmen’s Bureau records so that they are searchable in an online database. As of early May 2016, the project is 78 percent complete.
Marcus Mosiah Garvey, Jr., a Jamaican political leader, publisher, journalist, entrepreneur, orator, and founder of the Universal Negro Improvement Association and African Communities League once said, “A people without knowledge of their past history is like a tree without roots.” On 16 April 2016, approximately 500 people gathered at the Etobicoke Ontario building of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, for the inaugural Canadian Black History Summit. FamilySearch International (the genealogical arm of the Church) and the Ontario Black History Society co-hosted the free conference. Those participating in the conference had the opportunity to connect with Black genealogy experts and Black history, and to learn more about the Freedmen’s Bureau Project.
Rosemary Sadlier, a presenter at the summit, described the proceedings using a word from the Ghanaian Twi language – “Sankofa” – which translated means “go back and get it.” She remarked that the event was an excellent opportunity for those participating “to go back and reclaim our past so we can move forward, … so we can understand why and how we came to be and who we are today.” Thom Reed, the senior marketing manager of FamilySearch and a specialist for the Freedmen’s Bureau Project, commented, “We are tearing down walls because not having an ancestry is like not existing. The records we will be releasing in the fall are making it possible for individuals to find themselves for the first time.”
Guests at the summit included members of Parliament; government officials; leaders of black history sites, black churches and black organizations from across Ontario; and Ontario Mormon leaders. Nikki Clark, president of the Ontario Black History Society, gave the opening remarks. The presenters at the summit included notable Black history experts. Among those presenting at the conference were Darius Gray (author, historian, journalist and co-director of the Freedman’s Bank Project and Bryan Prince (author, historian, and consultant). Shannon Prince (curator of the Buxton National Historic Site and Museum), Thom Reed (FamilySearch senior marketing manager), Rosemary Sadlier (author and historian) and Dr. Bryan Walls (author and founder of the John Freeman Walls Historic Site and Underground Railroad Museum) were also presenters.
The experience of the summit was both eye-opening and life-altering for many of the attendees as they learned how important it is to research their family history, and the brick walls that many descendants of former U.S. slaves have faced when searching their family history beyond 1870.
Each week hundreds of families around the world take their sons and daughters to Missionary Training Centers (MTCs) and bid them farewell for 18 to 24 months. The MTC is where their sons and daughters embark on the beginning of their journey as a full-time missionary for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Once they enter the MTC, they are expected to devote all of their time and attention to preparing to teach others about Jesus Christ. Some will remain at the MTC for as short a period as two weeks, whereas those who are learning a foreign language will remain at the MTC for nine weeks, before departing to their assigned mission.
Approximately one in four Americans speaks a foreign language. However, because Mormon missionaries serve in many different parts of the world, the percentage of Mormons who are fluent in other languages is higher than average. Not only are they fluent in other languages, but they are taught languages at a more accelerated pace. For example, a Mormon missionary assigned to a mission where he or she will speak Mandarin Chinese spends a total of nine weeks studying and learning the language at the MTC, whereas the U.S. military has an intense 64-week course in Mandarin taught at the Defense Language Institute in Monterey, California.
How does the Church teach foreign languages with great effectiveness in short periods of time? A June 2014 National Public Radio (NPR) report shares this insight: “They accomplish it through intense classroom instruction from teachers who are former missionaries, daily practice in realistic teaching situations, and learning by and following the Holy Spirit. As one missionary tells NPR, “Everything we do is trying to learn by and with the Spirit.””
The MTC in Provo, Utah teaches 56 languages. Thirty-one of those languages require a maximum of nine weeks of study and training. Twenty-six of those thirty-one languages are Asian or Eastern Bloc languages. The Church also has 14 international MTCs that teach seven foreign languages. International MTCs also provide native language training in 17 languages for missionaries not learning a second language. Each instructor is either a native speaker or is fluent in the language because of his or her missionary service.
To learn the language that they will be speaking to teach the gospel, missionaries study the language for 6 to 8 hours a day. After a few weeks of study, they are asked only to communicate in the language they are studying. They are also encouraged to pray, read the scriptures, and even think in the language they are learning.
Speaking of the challenges that missionaries face in learning a foreign language, President Thomas S. Monson has commented that he “marvels at the devotion and total concentration of these young men and women as they grapple with the unfamiliar and learn the difficult.” In a 2013 interview with The Salt Lake Tribune, Col. Derek Tolman, commander of Utah National Guard’s linguistic unit, remarked that MTCs are “excellent at teaching the fundamentals in a short time. The students are highly motivated, and the learning curve is amazing.”
In addition to language instruction, teachers also provide cultural training to help missionaries make a smoother transition into their assigned foreign country.
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