Not many three-year-old kids can claim to be an international entrepreneur and have their own bank account and debit card. That is, unless they want something really bad, and are determined to do what it takes to make their wish come true. Such is the case of three-year-old Eva Sorensen who really wants to go to Disneyland. Her mother, Kaitlin Sorensen, has commented, “She’s crazy about Elsa and Anna (from ‘Frozen’) and Princess Sofia (from ‘Sophia the First’). I’d say Disney is practically her life.” Her father, Jay Sorensen, commented further on Eva’s passion for Disney and practically every Disney character, as well as her persistence. He stated, “She’s (telling) me every single day, ‘I want to go to Disneyland, I want to go to Disneyland.'”
“Beyond Infinity” by Evalynn Sorensen
In a tenacious effort to make a trip to Disneyland a reality someday soon, Eva creates abstract paintings which she sells to earn money towards the adventure. The lowest price for one of her paintings is $30. If a buyer would like one of the paintings shipped, a little more is added to the price to cover material cost and to give Eva a small profit. The paintings are 18” by 24” on watercolor paper with acrylic and fabric paint. Her mother states that Eva enjoys creating the paintings and will continue to do so as long as there are requests. Those interested in viewing and/or buying some of the beautiful artwork that Eva has created can visit her online gallery.
Evalynn, which is her given name, also participates in art contests and small charity projects. Her prowess has afforded her the opportunity to travel around the world to places such as China, South Korea, and Canada. With the month of October 2015 being designated as Breast Cancer Awareness Month, Eva made two pink paintings. Once the paintings sell, she will donate $10 a painting to breast cancer research. So, not only is she earning money to pay her own way to Disneyland, she is learning about charity as well.
Eva also has her own website and Facebook page. Posted on her website is a 7 October 2015 news article from the Iron County Today newspaper titled “Local artist turning heads in Cedar City.” Eva’s mother, Kaitlin, has a degree in art with an emphasis in illustration from Southern Utah University, and commented on her daughter’s unbridled passion to create art:
I could tell she was pretty serious about it, so I wanted to help her out by not just having colored pencils and crayons. So we went out and got her some paint.
I knew that quality materials would make for something better. I didn’t want her to fail; I’m trying to do my part to help her succeed.
Evalynn Sorensen Facebook profile picture.
Eva has only been painting for a few short weeks. She usually sits down at her work station in the kitchen of her family’s home once per day, choosing a few colors to work with, and experimenting with a variety of techniques. She is able to complete each piece in about an hour. Her mother, realizing how serious Eva is about fulfilling her dream, placed her first painting online for sale. The painting sold the very next day. In fact, several of Evalynn’s paintings have sold on Facebook blog shops. Eva has also started receiving commissions from people who have seen her work and want to help her make her dream come true. Kaitlin’s alma mater, Southern Utah University, recently commissioned two of Eva’s paintings which are on display in its Welcome Center.
On Eva’s Facebook page is posted a picture of her fortune cookie from 27 October 2015 with a fortune that reads, “You will take a pleasant journey to a faraway place.” Some may say that the fortune is just coincidence, but with her zeal and determination, Evalynn Sorensen is destined to have her wish of going to Disneyland come true.
Ann Romney, the wife of former Massachusetts Governor and two-time Republican Presidential candidate, Mitt Romney, has written a new memoir published by Thomas Dunne titled “In This Together: My Story.” In the book she talks about her life and how she has coped with the debilitating disease of Multiple Sclerosis which with she was diagnosed in 1998. At the time of her diagnosis, there were no effective therapies or treatments available. Speaking with Newsmax Health editor, Nick Tate, on “Newsmax Prime,” she commented:
It was an unwelcome teacher but it certainly humbled me and it humbled me to the point where it kind of destroyed my feelings of who I really was as a person.
From that point, you have to then grow and to figure out what’s important in life and who you are. It’s uncomfortable, it’s unpleasant, it’s painful but when you come out the other end, you’re, in a very strange way, grateful that you had that personal growth because of the pain you went through.
Ann fully realizes that the pain she has suffered has not been as great as the pain that many others deal with, nevertheless, the experience has helped open her heart to those who do suffer. She further remarked, “I have been low and depressed and in a very dark and scary place but through certain things I was able to pull myself through that and it’s a message of hope.”
A Never Ending Love Story
Ann would not be able to keep pressing forward like she does if it were not for the loving support of her husband, Mitt, who refers to her as his sweetheart.
Ann Lois Davies was born on 16 April 1949 and was raised in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan. Willard Mitt Romney, or Mitt as he is known, was born on 12 March 1947 in Detroit, Michigan. They first met in elementary school when he was a Cub Scout. She was riding a horse and he threw stones at her. Their first date, on 21 March 1965, was at the movies to see “The Sound of Music.” They dated through high school, and in June 1965, 18-year-old Mitt asked 16-year-old Ann if she would marry him, and her immediate response was, “Yes.”
The two were finally married on 21 March 1969. Mitt was 22 years of age, and Ann was 19. The first part of the wedding took place at Ann’s parents’ home in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan, in a civil ceremony which was officiated by Elder Edwin Jones of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Approximately 250 guests were in attendance, including President Ford, and President Nixon sent congratulations to the couple via a telegram. The next morning they flew to Salt lake City, Utah, where they were sealed for time and eternity in the Salt Lake Temple.They spent their honeymoon in Hawaii.
Ann is also blessed to have the love and support of five sons. Taggart Romney (Tagg), born in 1970, works in marketing and is married to Jennifer. Matthew Romney (Matt), born in 1971, works in real estate and is married to Laurie. Joshua Romney (Josh), born in 1975, is a real estate developer and is married to Jen. Benjamin Romney (Ben), born in 1978, is a medical student and is married to Andelynne. And Craig Romney, born in 1981, is an advertising music producer and is married to Mary.
A Public Voice and a Special Cause
For the past year, Ann, now the grandmother of 23, has been actively engaged in raising funds and making appearances on behalf of a Brigham and Women’s Hospital facility in Boston that now bears her name: Ann Romney Center for Neurologic Diseases. The facility was designed as “a one-stop shop where patients can get diagnoses, advice, treatment, and participate in studies and clinical trials.” It is nonpartisan. Marc Mezvinsky, the husband of Chelsea Clinton, and Congressman Joseph P. Kennedy III sit on the advisory board along with Mitt, Ann, and television personalities Meredith Vieira and Montel Williams.
Speaking about the research that is being conducted and the strides that have been made, Ann has said:
It studies not just Multiple Sclerosis, Alzheimer’s, ALS, Parkinson’s and brain tumors. This center is up and it’s running. It’s got 250 scientists and researchers already working on cures and treatments for these neurologic diseases. Right now in our labs, we have a vaccine for Alzheimer’s that is in obviously experimental stages, but doctors are believing within our lifetime we will see the ability to tackle some of these really tough diseases. For the very first time, there is a drug for ALS that’s in the lab that’s going to be coming out within the next year.
The book takes you through the years I struggled to get more energy. I am strong now and I’m well now and that is the reason I’m doing this. You don’t have to think that you’re going to be permanently that way. You can fight though these things.
Everyone is carrying a burden, and we can’t always see it. MS was a cruel teacher, and it’s not like I’m grateful I had it, you’re never grateful for that, but I have to say that it taught me a lot. You have to recognize that life has challenges and none of us can escape those challenges.
Success as a Grandma
Life isn’t strictly all business. In the midst of her ever busy schedule, Ann recently took time out to record a 90 second video (see below) for the Independent Journal Review in which she shares the qualities that all amazing grandmas have. The video is titled “How to be a Freakin’ Awesome Grandma with Ann Romney.” She shows off her awesome grandma skills with the knitting of a “Kanye 2020” sweatshirt, demonstrating her slaying light saber skills, keeping her kitchen stocked with mounds of treats, and wearing a gold chain with a sideways baseball cap. Her number one rule is “Always know your squad” as she names all 23 of her grandchildren.
Through both trials and triumphs in her life Ann has learned a valuable life lesson, “You can never ask God to tell you what the end is. You can ask, “Is this a good thing to do?” But not, “How is this going to turn out?” That answer you will never get.”
Of the many social media venues that are available to users worldwide for sharing their content with family, friends, or other users in general, YouTube, which is currently available in 76 different languages, is perhaps the most popular. Headquartered in San Bruno, California, YouTube is a video-sharing website that was created by three former PayPal employees in February 2005, purchased by Google for 1.65 billion dollars in November 2006, and now operates as one of Google’s subsidiaries. The site allows users to upload, view, and share both user-generated, as well as corporate media videos, including videos from such corporations as CBS, the BBC, Vevo, Hulu, and other organizations which offer some of their material via YouTube as part of the YouTube partnership program. Available content on the site includes video clips, TV clips, music videos, and other content such as video blogging, short original videos, and educational videos.
The Butler Family – YouTube Millionaires
Corporations are not the only ones who can earn monetary compensation for their contributions. There are many general users, such as the Butler family, who also earn revenue from the videos they upload to their YouTube channel.
Shay and Colette Butler, or the “Shaytards” as they are known online, are members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and live in Pocatello, Idaho, have five children, and earn millions of dollars per year through sharing their videos on YouTube. Because of their success in daily video vlogging, they have been dubbed one of YouTube’s first families, and were recently featured on ABC’s “Nightline.”
On 4 September 2013, the viral family posted a video that was dedicated entirely to talking about their faith and what they believe. During that video blog, which is nearly 18 minutes in length, the Butlers talked about attending the Brigham City Temple in preparation for Shay’s brother, Logan, leaving on a two-year full-time mission for The Church of Jesus Christ in Argentina. Shay himself served a two-year mission in the West Indies (Trinidad, Barbados, and Ghana). Shay began the video by explaining what temple worship means. He said, “It’s a place where we go to make promises to our Heavenly Father.” He then continued by explaining some of the basic beliefs of the Mormon faith:
What we believe is that Jesus Christ is our Savior. He is the central figure of our church. The real full name of our church is The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. We’re called the Mormons because we believe in another book of scripture called The Book of Mormon. The Book of Mormon is another testament of Jesus Christ. We believe that Christ came and lived on the earth, just like you’ve heard of in the Bible.
Shay also addressed the problem of discussing religion online, stating that such conversations can easily end in confrontation. He commented, “It would be great to just be able to sit down, one-on-one, and have a religious conversation in an open environment where there is no, ‘Well, I’m right and you’re wrong’ mentality and attitude. So I’m hoping we can do that in the podcast.”
The Butlers were also featured in a Mormon Message video titled “Our Fun Family Vacation” which was released by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in September 2013. The video features clips of the Butler family spending time together and with extended family. In the video Shay comments
In our lives these days there are so many things that are trying to matter to us: emails and phone calls and advertisements, and all these things that kind of barrage us. But I feel like some of the strongest, happiest, moments that I’ve ever felt in my life are when I’m with my children, when I’m with my family.
Butler’s Viral YouTube Videos Play Vital Role in Conversion of British Woman
It is true that we may never know how many lives we touch through our humble efforts and example. For Shay and Colette Butler, the fruition of the missionary groundwork that they are laying through the production of their videos was realized through the conversion of two families – Lois and Lewis Herbert of England, and Mandy and Rick Vellinga of Holland.
In an email to Deseret News in January 2015, Lois Marie Herbert wrote:
I just stumbled across one of their videos. I clicked out of the video, and then something made me go back and watch. From then, I was hooked. I went back that day and watched every video they had made. I found them both hilarious. They were so happy. There was just something so different about their family.
I guess I was just lost. I saw how they were as people, and I wanted to be like that. I was unhappy in my relationship with my boyfriend at the time, and I wanted the love that they had for each other.
Back then, I didn’t really pick up on their religion, or I didn’t take much notice. They just made me happy and laugh. Before I found out more about the church, I would always watch a Shaytards vlog (video blog) in the morning and think to myself, ‘Today, I am going to be happy like they are. Nothing is going to get me down, as other people’s opinions don’t matter.
The Herberts eventually made contact with missionaries from The Church of Jesus Christ, and they began teaching Lois in her home. At first, Lewis showed no interest in the lessons the missionaries were teaching, but seeing the happiness that learning about the gospel brought his wife, he agreed to allow the missionaries to continue coming. His views about religion began to change and before long the family began attending church, reading the scriptures and praying. They continued to meet with the missionaries, Elder Goodson and Elder Wolfgramm, twice a week and were introduced to members of their ward. Lois and Lewis were baptized on 13 December 2014. Lois continues to watch the Butler’s videos as she embraces life as a member of The Church of Jesus Christ.
Shay Carl’s Video Play a Vital Role in Conversion of Dutch Couple
Recalling the first time that he came across one of the Shaytards’ videos on 20 June 2010, Rick Vellinga wrote the following in an email to Deseret News, “I noticed they were so happy and friendly. It made me really happy. I wanted to show the video to my wife, Mandy. It put a smile on her face, and this was the beginning of our Shaytards life.” From then on, the Vellinga’s watched each new video the Shaytards posted and became drawn to Shay’s mantra: “Happiness is a choice.” The couple even named their daughter, born on 2 July 2013, after one of the Butler’s children, Avia.
It was during Mandy’s pregnancy with Avia that she and Rick heard Shay Butler explain his religious belief that families can be together forever. Still healing from Mandy’s earlier miscarriage, this idea intrigued the couple. The 10 March 2015 Deseret News article further explains:
That was something that made us curious, Rick said. So I was searching on the Internet for the Book of Mormon that I wanted to order. After leaving my name and address, there was a page that said, ‘The missionaries will be contacting you soon.’ I thought, ‘No! That’s not what I want,’ and my wife laughed really hard.
Two days later, in September 2013, Elder Spencer Rudolph and Elder Jonathan Knudsen, missionaries for the LDS Church, knocked on the Vellinga’s door. Mandy let the missionaries know they were interested and told them come back when her husband was home. Later that night, the missionaries returned.
We sat down and their first question was if we could pray. We said, ‘Of course,’ “Rick said.”The second question was if we believed in God and Jesus Christ. We said, ‘No, but we believe there must be something more.’ So they began to teach us more about God and Jesus Christ, the Prophet Joseph Smith, and the Book of Mormon. After a few weeks, we learned a lot, and we got a really good feeling about this.
The Vellingas began attending Church in the Spijkenisse Ward and continued learning about the gospel of Jesus Christ. They were baptized on 4 January 2014. One month later, Mandy was pregnant with their second child, and their son, James, was born 11 October 2014. Rick has further commented, “Shay and Colette are the perfect examples of how to be a good mother and father, husband and wife, and church members. Without the Shaytards, we probably wouldn’t be LDS members.” Rick and Mandy continue to watch the Butler’s videos, and they hope to teach their children what Shay and Colette taught them.
The standards governing what is considered modest and what is not considered modest may vary from one culture or society to another. In general, when speaking about the way males and females dress, “modesty” can be defined as that mode of dress or behavior intended to avoid encouraging sexual attraction in others. When used in this sense, it can be considered inappropriate or immodest to reveal certain parts of the body.
In some societies, modesty may involve women covering their bodies completely and not talking to men who are not immediate family members. In other societies, a fairly revealing, but one-piece bathing suit is considered modest, while other women may wear bikinis. Even nudity at times is tolerated in some societies; for example, during a world naked bike ride which took place in San Francisco, London, Madrid, Amsterdam and Guadalajara in June 2012, while a lone man attempting to walk naked through his neighborhood would find himself incarcerated for indecent exposure. In his April 1992 General Conference address titled “Our Moral Environment,” President Boyd K. Packer taught:
The rapid, sweeping deterioration of values is characterized by a preoccupation–even an obsession–with the procreative act. Abstinence before marriage and fidelity within it are openly scoffed at–marriage and parenthood ridiculed as burdensome, unnecessary. Modesty, a virtue of a refined individual or society, is all but gone.
Remaining True to Standards of Modesty at All Times
In his 8 October 1988 General Conference address titled “Train up a Child,” Elder L. Tom Perry commented:
President Kimball delivered a great talk many years ago at Brigham Young University entitled ‘A Style of Our Own.’ He encouraged us not to be among those who would follow worldly, immodest styles, but to have the courage to dress in a way which will send a message that our standards are different. Our dress will reflect the way we intend to live, founded on principles of the gospel of our Lord and Savior. It is impossible to expect a child who has been taught to love to dress in the immodest style trends of the day, to then change overnight to an entirely different wardrobe when they enter a Church university or a missionary training center, or when they are married in the temple, or even when they dress for the Sabbath day. Modest, proper styles must be taught almost from birth.
Bekah Pence, the 29-year-old returned missionary for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints who competed in the Ms. Virginia United States competition in April 2015 and won, is a role model to many as she remains true to her personal standards of modesty. During the competition, she was tenacious in her search for formal wear that she considered appropriate.
Her standards were put to the test once again when she competed in the Ms. United States pageant for women ages 26 to 39 which was held in Washington, D.C. on 3 July 2015. While preparing to compete, she learned of three mandatory outfits that she did not feel comfortable wearing and was resolute that she would only compete if the outfits could be altered to align with her standards. As a result, many were impacted because of her tenacity, and her example even gave another contestant the courage to compete. In a 15 July 2015 Deseret News article, Pence commented:
I think something that was reiterated or came through more strongly this time around is just not being afraid to keep your standards because you never know how it will affect someone. Sometimes (LDS Church) members just don’t realize that personally deciding to keep the commandments, it literally directly impacts others.
Pence hoped that exceptions might be made and turned to her director who approached the national directors of the Ms. United States pageant. When asked why she could not wear the outfits that had been selected, she stood her ground and explained that she believed in dressing more conservatively. The national directors told her that alterations were not allowed, and it was then that she turned to prayer and scripture study, believing that as long as she maintained her standards and beliefs, everything would work out in the end. She stated, “I was afraid that they were going to possibly turn me away or disqualify me. But my director made it very clear that she and her director partner were going to help me in any way they could.”
President Gordon B. Hinckley taught, “In matters of dress we wish neither silk nor rags. We seek for the clean look, call it a wholesome look, the bright and happy look of young men and women who walk with a sense of who they are, of what is expected of them, and of what they may become” (President. Hinckley, Church News, 22 October 1994, “Behavior Code” Modesty). As Pence was devising a plan, she learned that another contestant, Afton Liddell from Idaho, also a member of The Church of Jesus Christ, was also concerned about the mandatory attire. The two women each approached the national directors and asked to alter the mandatory outfits. Realizing that another contestant also had concerns about the outfits, the directors became more willing to find a way to make it an option to have the wardrobe altered. Pence stated, “It was just a miracle. People don’t realize that there is power in simply keeping the commandments. There is power in numbers, and it makes it easier for other members to keep their standards.”
According to the Deseret News article:
The opening-number outfits were mailed to Pence and Liddell, and they adjusted the dresses. The women also had swimsuits made that resembled the original suits. When preparing for the fashion show, Pence and Liddell submitted additional measurements that would ensure the dresses met their standards.
Be Thou an Example
Liddell said that it was because of Pence’s example that she felt comfortable competing in the pageant. In an email interview she commented, “She’s a great example. We had a riot figuring out how to make everything modest. Thankfully, we had each other to support the cause. There’s strength in numbers, even when that number is two.” She further commented, “”I am so grateful that Bekah listens to the Spirit. Her faithful adherence to her standards and the promptings of the Holy Ghost have already had a tremendous ripple effect and will continue to so do beyond what any of us can begin to imagine.”
Altering the outfits also gave the women an opportunity share their beliefs with other contestants.
Members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are taught from an early age the importance of serving others, and the blessings that are reaped from such service. They understand that when they are in the service of their fellow men, they are in the service of their God, and so they are always at the ready to volunteer their time and service to help those in need.
Honor to Whom Honor is due
At a luncheon held in late June 2015, volunteers from The Church of Jesus Christ who had given their time and talents last year were honored by GRACE (Grapevine Relief and Community Exchange), a faith-based, nonprofit relief agency, providing food, clothing and other emergency assistance to people in need in northeast Tarrant County, Texas while encouraging self-reliance. At the luncheon, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was named Volunteer Group of the Year.
The award was accepted by Ben Siebach, a coordinator for JustServe, an online service which was developed by the Church to match organizations that need volunteers with volunteers who are willing to help. He commented, “By partnering with the GRACE organization, our efforts in the community are more focused and impactful. GRACE identifies the needs. We bring the resources and efforts to fill the needs.” Lara Hohweiler, GRACE volunteer manager remarked, “Often times I have called with last minute needs for volunteers. The response, without hesitation, is always, ‘How many and where?’ Then they magically appear.”
Members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are a compassionate and service oriented people. Whenever a need arises, they are always ready and willing to render any assistance necessary. One way in which members are able to provide community service and disaster relief for those in need is through a Church priesthood-directed program known as Mormon Helping Hands. According to the official website for Mormon Helping Hands:
The program provides priesthood leaders with an optional service opportunity for Church members and helps establish the name and reputation of the Church. It is a proven means of helping dispel stereotypes often held about the Church, showing that Latter-day Saints are Christians who contribute to the good of their communities.
Successful projects have been conducted throughout Latin America, Africa, Asia, Europe, the Pacific, and the United States. The objectives of the program are five-fold: (1) help the needy and improve communities, (2) strengthen Church members, (3) share the gospel indirectly, (4) build relationships with opinion leaders, and (5) enhance the reputation of the Church.
Appreciation and Recognition of Service
The service that the Mormon Helping Hands render does not go unnoticed. They do not receive any monetary compensation. However, their lives are richly blessed from knowing that they touch the lives of those for whom the service is given in both small and oftentimes grandiose ways.
Recently, Mayor Annise Parker called upon local Mormon missionaries and the Mormon Helping Hands to assist in disaster relief following major flooding that occurred on Memorial Day. In appreciation for that service, on 24 June 2015, at a Houston City Council Meeting, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was recognized as the leading contributor of volunteers and time. Mayor Parker commented, “The response from the Latter-day Saints was so overwhelming and so immediate that it really set the standard.”
On that day a proclamation was enacted declaring 24 June 2015 as Mormon Helping Hands Day. The proclamation read in part:
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints’ dedicated disaster response team Mormon Helping Hands organized over 560 volunteers who have served more than 14,000 hours to help Houstonians clean up and recover from the Memorial Day flood.
The City of Houston commends and appreciates Mormon Helping Hands for its volunteer efforts as part of the S.A.V.E. Houston initiative. Their selfless dedication toward ensuring Houston’s resilience in the face of natural disaster truly encompasses the compassionate spirit of Houston.
The proclamation was accepted by Elder Daniel W. Jones, an Area Seventy of The Church of Jesus Christ, representing the 180-plus LDS congregations throughout the Southeast Texas Gulf Coast Region. In his remarks to the members of the city council, he stated, “We are grateful for the privilege of showing our faith by the works that we do.” He then presented Mayor Parker with the June 7th edition of the Church News, which featured a photo of her and a story about the city/missionary combined efforts.
One of the council members, Dwight Boykins of District D, exclaimed, “To the youngsters in the yellow shirts — just know for certain your work doesn’t go in vain. We see you guys on weekends, we see you doing work all around the city. Just prepare yourselves for the future because God has big plans for you.”
This website is not owned by or affiliated with The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (sometimes called the Mormon or LDS Church). The views expressed herein do not necessarily represent the position of the Church. The views expressed by individual users are the responsibility of those users and do not necessarily represent the position of the Church. For the official Church websites, please visit churchofjesuschrist.org or comeuntochrist.org.