Good Morning! I’m one of those crazy people who actually like public speaking. In fact, I love speaking in church! In high school I joined the speech and debate team in order to perform my speeches. And I took speech classes for fun in college. So I am truly glad to be here today!
Brother Call asked me to tell you a little about our family. My name is Sundy – like the day without the “A.” I was raised in the beautiful state of Colorado. My parents are both educators and I am the oldest of 4 kids. My best friend is my sister, G.J. and I have two awesome brothers. I decided to study music in college because it made me happy. I was actually better at computers and math, but music got my vote. After college hopping for a few years, I ended up back in Grand Junction at the local college.
Scott grew up in Wyoming, and served a mission in Brazil. While he was serving the Lord, his family moved to my home town. So when Scott came home, he didn’t know the area and he didn’t speak any English. He attended the local singles branch, which is where we met. He was assigned as my home teacher. I didn’t know right away that I was going to marry him… but my father and sister did….
Six months after we met, we were sealed in the Denver temple by my grandfather. I finally graduated with my music education degree and began teaching in Colorado and Scott got his bachelor’s in business management. Two years later, we had a baby girl and named her Kiara. A year and a half later I was a full time mother to two beautiful little girls as Katia joined our family.
Scott moved our small family to Las Vegas so he could attend UNLV for his master’s degree in marketing. We spent 8 years in Las Vegas and decided to relocate to Arizona. I went back to work, because of the economy. And Scott looked for work.
In January, Scott moved here to work for CPS. I had to finish my teaching contract, so the girls and I stayed in Arizona. I moved here 3 weeks ago following my job and bariatric surgery. So far we LOVE it here! Everyone in the ward has made us feel right at home and we are excited to serve and get to know all of you.
With this brief history of our family, focusing on the highlights, you might not realize that Murphy’s Law could have been named after me. Trials and tribulations seem to follow our family wherever we are. Of course, none of us are immune from “trials and tribulations.” Wilford Woodruff said, “It is impossible… for the Saints of God to inherit a celestial kingdom without their being tried as to whether they will abide in the covenants of the Lord or not.”
I have learned a great secret in dealing with hardships: There is only ONE source of Peace. Jesus Christ¸ the Prince of Peace, has promised us that “our adversities and our afflictions shall be but a small moment.”
Turning to the Lord during difficulties has not always been easy. Brother Hallstrom of the Presidency of the Seventy said last conference, “If you feel you have been wronged – by anyone or by anything – deal with the matter directly and with all the strength you have. … Giving up is not an option. … Turn to the Lord. Exercise all of the faith you have in Him. Let Him share your burden. Allow His grace to lighten your load.”
One of our biggest trials as a family was when Scott was separated from us twice. The first time was when we moved to Arizona. Our home in Las Vegas hadn’t sold and Scott couldn’t find work in Arizona. So he stayed in Las Vegas while Kiara, Katia and I moved to Arizona so I could start my job. Scott would drive 7 hours and “come home” two days a week and live in Nevada the other five days a week. We lived this way for almost an entire year. It was a struggle. And the girls and I cried every time he left…. The second time we were separated was the past 6 months. Scott was here with you, while I was in Arizona. During this time, I had surgery three times and many health problems. This time he didn’t even get to come home so we kept in contact through cell phones and the internet. Turning to the Lord was the only way we got through both separations.
I made a list of things that we have done that has helped us turn to the Lord in times of trial. I love lists. I love to write them. I love to read them. I love to cross things off of them. So I made a list of 7 things that helped our family “turn to the Lord” during our trial of separation. Upon reflection, I realized that this list could help others who are going through tough times.
#1 PRAYER. Prayer is what held us together during our time of being apart. Every night, before bed, Kiara, Katia and I would call Scott, put him on speaker phone and have family prayer. Those prayers really helped ground us as a family and keep us close to the Lord. Susan Tanner said,
“How often have each of us fallen to our knees with . . . feelings of inadequacy and need for divine reassurance? . . .
"[As did Joseph Smith,] we too can receive spiritual reassurance in response to our prayers. We can receive a witness that our Father in Heaven knows us by name and that He has an earthly mission for us to fulfill."
#2 GO TO CHURCH. Every week, no matter what, we went to church. Kiara and Katia were 8 and 9 years old when we moved to Arizona. I was called as the ward organist. So every week, my daughters would sit on the front row as I sat at the organ. It was extremely difficult to manage two young girls and the music without a husband. But we got blessings out of the deal. Kiara and Katia quickly learned how to be reverent without parents. And I did not have to worry about them at all. Church edified all of us and kept us close to our Heavenly Father.
#3 SCRIPTURE STUDY. We daily strived to read our scriptures and discuss them together as a family. We weren’t perfect. But we continued to improve. Elder Christofferson said, that “through the scriptures, God does indeed 'show forth his power' to save and exalt His children. By His word, as Alma said, He enlarges our memory, sheds light on falsehood and error, and brings us to repentance and to rejoice in Jesus Christ, our Redeemer." Scott and I felt that we could definitely use those blessings while enduring the trial of our separation.
#4 TEMPLE ATTENDANCE. Scott was really good about this one. While he was on his own, he attended the temple at least once a week. He often told me how that was what kept him going when he missed me and the girls. There are blessings from the temples that have helped to shape our family and renewing those covenants and blessings often helps during times of trouble.
President Faust told about the difficulties the pioneers faced. Just like today, we face problems and turning to the temple is one of the greatest sources of spiritual strength we can get. President Faust said,
“There were over 5,600 members who received their blessings in the Nauvoo Temple. … John and Jane Akerley and the others of the multitude who waited in the bitter cold to enter the majestic Nauvoo Temple received within its walls the greatest blessings offered by the Lord in this life. They endured much, but their suffering was just beginning. Their temple blessings helped strengthen them for what lay ahead. Separated by death in Winter Quarters, they were able to endure all things because of their faith and the blessings received that cold February night in 1846.
“As the pioneers had the larger vision in their daily challenge for survival, so also we need to have a greater vision and understanding of our eternal destiny. Our challenges are more subtle but equally hard. Maintaining our spiritual strength is also a daily challenge. The greatest source of that spiritual strength comes, as it did in their time, from our temples.”
# 5 GOSPEL DISCUSSIONS. While struggling with our separation, having gospel centered discussions with our daughters seemed to really help strengthen our family and our trust in the Lord.
Sister Grassli said that “Children can understand and should witness marvelous events – events like priesthood blessings, special ward and family fasts, the testimonies and prayers of their parents and leaders, and gospel discussions with people they love.”
I truly believe our kids are smarter than we give them credit for. My daughters would often compare books they were reading in school with the Book of Mormon. We would discuss similarities and differences over characters from novels and the heroes of the scriptures. These gospel discussions helped us through our trials.
#6 FAMILY HOME EVENING. I grew up in a family that truly believed in the blessings of family home evening. My parents had the most awesome family home evenings ever! And Scott and I have tried to incorporate family home evening in our own family. When we were separated, we still had our weekly family nights. We missed daddy, but it helped us through. Family Home Evenings helps families fortify themselves against worldly influences.
#7 FAMILY COUNCIL. Family Council was something my husband felt was extremely important to our family. Every Sunday, even when long-distance phone calls were our medium, we held Family Council. These weekly meetings helped us to organize our home and share our spiritual experiences that we had during the week with each other. We also had time to express concerns and express our love for each other. We called it Kudos and Koncerns. We would open with a song and prayer to invite the Holy Ghost into our council. This helped us endure to the end during our struggles.
Using this list, we were able to stay close to the Lord. We grew as a family. And made it through our tribulations without too many scars. I know that if we had not turned to the Lord during these trials, it would have been much more difficult.
Joseph Smith is a fabulous example of enduring hardships and trials. While suffering in Liberty Jail, this profound revelation was given to him: “If fools shall hold thee in derision, … if thou art called to pass through tribulation; … if thine enemies fall upon thee; … if thou shouldst be cast into the pit, or into the hands of murders, … and all the elements combine to hedge up the way; and above all, if the very jaws of hell shall gape open the mouth wide after thee, know thou, my son, that all these things shall give thee experience, and shall be for thy good.” Then the profound statement: “The Son of Man hath descended below them all. Art thou greater than he?” This is followed by clear direction and great promises. “Therefore, hold on thy way, and … fear not what man can do, for God shall be with you forever and ever.”
Over the following years, Joseph Smith continued to suffer and went through many trials. He stayed righteous. He turned to the Lord. As Elder Hallstrom said, “Never let an earthly circumstance disable you spiritually.” I like that quote so much that I’m going to cross stitch it. It is my prayer today that we will make it through our trials and tribulations by turning to the Lord. … Amen.