Laurel Expedition 2017

These adventurous Laurels spent the weekend rappelling through Secret
Canyon, floating the Colorado in the dark, night hiking to the hot spring,
camping, and surviving the long march out! They carried their own gear,
boats, oars, life jackets, and rappelling harnesses in packs weighing more
than 30 pounds. They pitched their own tents, ate dehydrated meals, pondered
the beauty of the Earth, felt the spirit, and proved they can do really hard
things!  Laurel Expedition 2017 was a great success thanks to President and
Sister Hess, some willing leaders, and a whole bunch of adventurous girls!

We were featured on LDS.org!

->CLICK HERE!<-

“You have to go to Texas.”

Jessica Brown of Mission Lake ward remembers the exact moment she felt inspired to go to Texas. After days of watching the heart-wrenching news of Hurricane Harvey’s devastation, she was loading a box of groceries into her car when a very strong thought came to her. “You have to go to Texas.”

About an hour later, her husband called her and said, “I can't stop thinking about the idea that we need to go help in Texas.” But how could they make it happen? A few weeks went by punctuated with the urgent feeling that Jessica needed to follow this prompting. Finally she decided to start researching how to do it, and everything fell into place. She found affordable plane tickets and a place to stay with the Barr family, formerly of Mission Lake ward, who had relocated to the Houston area last year.

Jessica and her fifteen-year-old daughter Gracie  flew to Houston and reported to the Helping Hands home base with the missionaries to get an assignment. One of the women in charge grew very emotional as she expressed how grateful they all are for the countless visitors from other states willing to help. But Jessica was even more impressed by the other volunteers. She says, “Another couple we worked with was from Utah and had a scheduled ten day vacation that they canceled. Instead they flew to Texas, spending each day working hard in mucky conditions to serve people they didn't know.”

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Despite the hours of news reports she had consumed, nothing prepared Jessica for the reality. “It’s hard to comprehend what it’s like actually driving through a neighborhood and seeing the piles of debris lining the streets and smell the stink of furniture, carpets and household belongings soaked in flood waters and full of mold. My heart ached for these people as I witnessed the destruction of their personal belongings. It was especially sad to see piles of ruined photographs, personal papers and books.”

The Browns worked in four houses while they were there. In one, they mucked out a garage, pulling out moldy drywall and sorting through the homeowner’s belongings. Most went into the trash heap in the yard. She didn't have flood insurance and was trying to save as many things as possible by laying them out on tarps in the backyard. Her house already had been stripped of everything on the ground floor including drywall five feet high and all the flooring. It was hot and humid, and rained off and on, making her attempts to salvage items in her backyard almost impossible.

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Gracie says, “The very last people we helped were the most grateful. It was an older couple and they were so sweet. It must be so hard to witness your house and almost everything you own be destroyed. Once we were done with their house they hugged me so tightly and wouldn’t let me go. The whole experience was so humbling and I’m so happy I had the chance to help these people. I can't imagine anything better I could have done with my time.”

For Jessica, the most touching part of this experience was the reaction of the homeowners. “They were thankful for their lives and for those serving them. I saw people from all different backgrounds coming together to help one another, neighbors hugging and talking in the streets, churches working together despite different beliefs. The local Lutheran church served a free lunch to all the LDS helping hands workers. While wearing our yellow Helping hands shirts, we were stopped several times with thanks and comments like, ‘Hey, yellow shirts! We’ve had yellow shirts working in our neighborhood all week, thank you!’"

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The whole experience has profoundly changed Jessica’s priorities. “I think it is easy for us to get distracted spending a good majority of our life dedicated to acquiring the very things that we saw in those piles of moldy, wet mountains of trash in front of each house. There is nothing inherently wrong about having these things and some are necessary to our daily lives, but I realized that it all can be gone in the blink of an eye. As I ponder on our experience last week the following scripture keeps coming to mind:

“Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through and steal: For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” --Matthew 6:19-21

“I feel like I gained so much more than anything I was able to actually to do help. I now understand more fully the concept of service being its own reward. Many times I heard the missionaries respond when thanked for their service with, “It’s my pleasure!” I realized the truth of this statement. Doing service for others is a pleasure and can bring great us great joy, while giving comfort to those we serve.

“I can’t help thinking of how we can apply the lessons of these types of disasters to our spiritual lives. I have had to ask myself: What is my foundation? When the storms of life come as I know they will, whether literal or figuratively, how will I fare? Have I set my heart on the right treasures?

“I am so grateful for the Gospel of Jesus Christ. I am grateful for the scriptures that can be a lifeline to guide us through the storm. I am grateful for this opportunity to remember what is most important, and for the extraordinary opportunity to have this experience in Texas.”

 

 

 

Julie's Conversion Story

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Julie Monroe, from the Aliso Creek Ward, decided to join the church in June of 2002. She was 22 years old. She had said that growing up, she knew several friends who were LDS, but that she learned the most about the church from her then high school boyfriend Chad, whom she later married. Julie had grown up a Lutheran but said that “it just didn’t feel right”. She stopped attending in high school. Before she had the chance to learn more about Mormons, Julie said she mostly thought “they were really nice people with big families and the fact that they didn’t go out on Sundays was really weird” to her. Regardless, she was interested in learning more. She started attending Institute and then soon after, began taking the discussions. It didn’t take long from there before Julie decided she was ready to be baptized!

“Within the first lesson with the Missionaries I knew I wanted to be baptized,” Julie says. And one month later...she was! What an exciting time for Julie and her life. The Gospel and its principles seemed to come so easy for her and was easy to accept. But most good things in life do come with trials. Julie said that the biggest challenges following her baptism involved her family accepting the decision she had made in joining the church.

“My family was not happy with my decision at first, mostly because they didn’t understand the religion and heard all sorts of crazy stuff about it being a ‘cult’. It took a few years after my husband and I got married in the temple for them to finally realize that this church wasn’t a bad one.”

And life would throw more trials Julie’s way. She was later diagnosed with cancer. But because she had the gospel and Jesus Christ, Julie said that it brought her closer to God in “every single way”. That even though she had a plan for her life, “God had an even better plan.” Julie said that she knew God loved her and “even though having cancer was very scary, I saw that He was there for me in every little detail of my life. People from the ward and friends were working through God and He was letting me know that He was watching over me and taking care of me.” Her testimony of the Spirit and the companionship it brings shows the great strength of Julie’s faith. Facing a scary trial and yet remaining true to the Gospel and trusting in the Lord’s plan for is a sign of Julie’s strong foundation.

Julie leaves us with a bit of advice for any who are interested in learning more about the church: “In the days that are hard or that you feel the world is against you progressing in your journey, just stick with it. Stay close to God. Read your scriptures, say your prayers and it will all work out okay in the end.”

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Drew's Eagle Project

For my Eagle project I made and collected stuffed animals and blankets for the Trauma Intervention Program of Orange County. They are a group of volunteers who Mission Viejo Police Services and others call to help support victims and families involved in a trauma.  They do not get a lot of supply donations to help comfort victims, so they were very excited to receive 200 blankets, 200 stuffed animals, crayons and coloring books. (photo credit Brent Harder)

      Drew Christensen

LDS General Conference Traditions

According to Angel Lefler, a mom of 4, this is how they try to bring the spirit from General Conference into their home.  

"With having kids that are so little and not able to understand all the benefits of conference I had to decide what my goals for conference weekend were. I decided I wanted my children to be excited for conference and to want to be apart of it. I wanted them to see that mom and dad wanted to participate I conference and that it brought us peace and strength. I wanted traditions of conference weekend to be familiar, fun, and something that brings the family together and not just the parents saying "shhh" every 3 minutes. 

Sooo, with that in mind. Saturday and Sunday morning we have big breakfasts. We eat them while listening to the first part of the the first sessions. The kids love it and full mouths are quiet mouths.  When breakfast is over we come to the couch and start the activity sticks. The activity sticks have written on them quiet activities the kids can do while listening to conference. Busy hands are happy hands.  They are things like painting nails, draw a picture of the speakers tie, conference bingo, lacing cards, tracing pictures, drawing pictures of/for family, making bead necklaces, etc. I also print activities from lds.org. The kids get to take turns picking the sticks out of a can at random and the activity is done when they are finished. We don't wait till the next talk happens or anything. 

As the kids grow older and more mature we have them sit with us while the prophet speaks, and start taking notes while certain speakers speak. 

Saturday between sessions we eat lunch  and usually go for a bike ride or walk and Sunday between sessions we usually eat lunch and play board games."

How awesome are her ideas and thoughts on how to entertain little children during General Conference?!

Here is the April 2017 LDS General Conference Schedule

Saturday, April 1, 2016
Saturday Morning Session (9:00 a.m.) for everyone
Saturday Afternoon Session (1:00 p.m.) for everyone
General Priesthood Session (5:00 p.m.) for men and young men 12 years of age and older

Sunday, April 2, 2016
Sunday Morning Session (9:00 a.m.) for everyone
Sunday Afternoon Session (1:00 p.m.) for everyone

What is LDS General Conference?

Meet your Presidency! Introducing Brad Cooper

This is part of a three part series introducing our stake to the new stake presidency. We contine with our new first counselor. 

What is your favorite thing about living in this stake?

The people! The Santa Margarita Stake is amazing in so many ways because of the individuals! Elder Kim B. Clark at stake conference captured our stake wonderfully when he said we are "this close to Zion as a a people.” I am so blessed and grateful to raise my children in this stake of Zion. 

 

How did you feel when you were called into the presidency?

Shocked, humbled and completely surprised!


What are you most looking forward to in this new calling?

Getting to know more members of the stake. I am also so excited to learn form President Hess and President Warnick. They are men whom I love and deeply admire and I know the Lord has called them to lead our stake at this time. I sustain them fully.  


What is your favorite scripture?

D&C 84:88. "And whoso receiveth you, there I will be also, for I will go before your face. I will be on your right hand and on your left, and my Spirit shall be in your hearts, and mine angels round about you, to bear you up."

I know that when I am on the Lord's errand, I am never alone.

 

What do you like to do for fun?

Skiing - water and snow.  I love to ski with my kids!


Did you serve a mission? Where?

I served in the Italy Milan mission - a long time ago! The first stake in Italy was organized about a year after I returned from the mission field, to give you an idea of just how long ago. I loved my mission. It was a defining period in my life that taught and shaped me significantly.   


What is the one thing you'd like the members of this stake to know about you?

I love the Lord and my greatest desire is to serve Him by serving the members of this stake for whom I have great love, admiration and respect.

 

What is your favorite food?

UH - ITALIAN - could there be any other answer from someone who lived in Italy?  

 

Meet your new Stake Presidency! Introducing Bob Warnick

This is part of a three part series introducing our stake to the new stake presidency. We contine with our new first counselor. 

What is your favorite thing about living in this stake? 

The most faithful, valiant people I’ve ever been associated with.  We have raised our children here and can’t think of anyplace we would rather be.

How did you feel when you were called into the presidency? 

Humbled, and very surprised.  I certainly never expected to have this opportunity again.  However, I am excited to serve in any way that I can.

What are you most looking forward to in this new calling? 

Getting to know all of the members that I don’t already know.  Serving with President Hess and President Cooper and the rest of the stake leadership; they are fantastic.

What is your favorite scripture? 

I have many favorites, but one of the best is 2 Nephi 31:20. Wherefore, ye must press forward with a steadfastness in Christ, having a perfect brightness of hope, and a love of God and of all men. Wherefore, if ye shall press forward, feasting upon the word of Christ, and endure to the end, behold, thus saith the Father: Ye shall have eternal life.

What do you like to do for fun? 

Be with my family; travel with my sweetheart; spend time at our cabin near Yellowstone; golf.

Did you serve a mission? Where? 

I served in the New Zealand North Mission, the best mission in the church!



What is the one thing you'd like the members of this stake to know about you? 

Besides the fact that I know that the church is true, I have way too much fun in my callings!

What is your favorite food? 

Never met a meal I didn’t like!  But it’s hard to beat slightly overdone Tollhouse chocolate chip cookies.

Meet Your Presidency! Introducing President Kirk D. Hess

This is part of a three part series introducing our stake to the new stake presidency. We begin with our new stake president. 

What is your favorite thing about living in this stake?

This area is beautiful, but what got us here was the idea that we could raise our kids alongside some of the most amazing youth I have met. As the saying goes, “The apple does not fall far from the tree,” and we have some really amazing parents here also. There is a wonderful culture of inclusion here in this stake.

 

How did you feel when you were called as the stake president?

Presidents Daly, Whitesides, Woffinden . . . these were my heroes while growing up here and to ever think I would occupy a seat where they once sat is profoundly humbling!


What are you most looking forward to in this new calling?

Certainly getting to know our stake family better. Being able to see the hand of the Lord work in people’s lives is so enriching. This is what makes a serving a mission so rich. Seeing people come closer to Christ through consecrated service be it our missionaries or in callings to serve, that selfless service in the kingdom is inspiring.


Favorite scripture:
Right now with this call in mind, I love 2 Timothy 1:7-9:

"For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind. Be not thou therefore ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, nor of me his prisoner: but be thou partaker of the afflictions of the gospel according to the power of God; Who hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began."


What do you like to do for fun? 

Anything with my wife and kids. We are an outdoors family so you will often find us rock climbing, rappelling down canyons in Utah, trail running, kayaking, mountain biking.

What is your favorite food?

I love lasagna.


Where did you serve your mission?

Auckland, New Zealand


President Hess would like you to know:

I have a testimony of the truthfulness of this gospel. I love the scriptures. They are the words of eternal life! 

A Cause for Endurance

Jesse Zweig, 28, of the Lake Forest ward is defying all odds this week as he attempts what few have done in their lifetime. On February 10th, 2017 Zweig will begin a 200-mile continuous run in an attempt to raise money for a cause. His goal: to raise funds for CHOC Children’s Hospital. He’ll start at the hospital where he has attained celebrity status among the kids undergoing treatment and run for approximately 48-60 hours to cover the 200 miles. Zweig credits his parents’ emphasis on the gospel in their home with instilling in him the desire to use his gifts in the service of these most vulnerable patients. “I’ve learned a lot about the good this hospital does for younger kids. I’ve been lucky with my health and my family has as well. I feel like it’s my obligation to give back because I've been given this talent of running and it’s a way I can do something. I felt it was a unique way to raise awareness and to help kids in my local community,” says Zweig. The former cross-country and track athlete from El Toro High is no stranger to longer distances. In high school, he set a goal to run 100 miles in 24 hours for charity. He accomplished this and raised $6,000 for CHOC. Then in 2007 he set his sights on running 200 miles again for charity. He accomplished an impressive 124 miles and raised over $13,000. And now in 2017 he is prepared to take once more the grueling 200-mile challenge to help raise money for children fighting for their health.

Jesse Zweig, 28, of the Lake Forest ward is defying all odds this week as he attempts what few have done in their lifetime. On February 10th, 2017 Zweig will begin a 200-mile continuous run in an attempt to raise money for a cause. His goal: to raise funds for CHOC Children’s Hospital.

He’ll start at the hospital where he has attained celebrity status among the kids undergoing treatment and run for approximately 48-60 hours to cover the 200 miles. Zweig credits his parents’ emphasis on the gospel in their home with instilling in him the desire to use his gifts in the service of these most vulnerable patients. “I’ve learned a lot about the good this hospital does for younger kids. I’ve been lucky with my health and my family has as well. I feel like it’s my obligation to give back because I've been given this talent of running and it’s a way I can do something. I felt it was a unique way to raise awareness and to help kids in my local community,” says Zweig.

The former cross-country and track athlete from El Toro High is no stranger to longer distances. In high school, he set a goal to run 100 miles in 24 hours for charity. He accomplished this and raised $6,000 for CHOC. Then in 2007 he set his sights on running 200 miles again for charity. He accomplished an impressive 124 miles and raised over $13,000. And now in 2017 he is prepared to take once more the grueling 200-mile challenge to help raise money for children fighting for their health.

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He says of training for such a distance, “I run for about 1-2 hours in the evenings after work but Saturdays I’ll do a long run, anywhere from 30-50 miles. As far as eating on these longer runs, I eat small at first; nutrition bars, etc. But then as I continue, I need more calories. I’ll stop and eat something like pizza or a hamburger. I’ll even run and eat at the same time if need be.”

Zweig stays motivated through the grueling training by making little goals in order to achieve the bigger goal, explaining that this strategy is crucial to success. “I’ll look at a light pole and focus on it 'til I make it there. Then I’ll choose another object; a bush, or a sign and once I make it to that I set a new goal.”

Zweig emphasized another key to his success is having others support during the long hours of running. “About half way through, it gets pretty mental. You go through your ups and downs and can hit a runner’s wall. I like to run with people, my family and friends, and have them talk with me. It’s a roller coaster and they get me through it.”

Zweig says this time around he has spent ample time preparing himself mentally for this run, unlike he ever has before. He has spent more time preparing his body nutritionally as well. “Making sure you’re hydrated and ready to go is key.”

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As crowds gather along the course to cheer Zweig on this Friday, one thing is certain: the children in their beds at CHOC Hospital will be rooting for him in spirit as he makes his way along the 200-mile course through Orange County.

Jesse says to any and all looking to take on a new challenge, “Don’t be afraid to push yourself. I’ve always been interested in seeing how far the body can be pushed. I think people have a lot of potential that we tend to not figure out as human beings.”

For further information and to see the work Zweig is doing, check out his website at www.acauseforendurance.com where you can read more and also donate to the cause.

Farewell to President Brennan

In March of 2008, Sterling Brennan accepted the call to serve as the president of the Santa Margarita Stake. Nine years later, he has accepted a call to serve as the president of Lansing, Michigan mission. President Brennan himself would emphasize that the important part of both of those callings is “to serve.” This is what he does.

Perhaps the people best qualified to speak to this are the very ones he served as he shepherded our stake through growth, change, and challenges. As stake Relief Society president Cindy Suman notes, “President Brennan has a remarkable way of connecting with everyone - men, women, youth, children, single, married, the elderly, the devout, those with problems, those who feel unnoticed, those who have made mistakes, investigators, long time members, the less active, the capable, those with questions, and the faithful.  His love for Jesus Christ is obvious through his years of tireless service to the members and nonmembers living in our stake boundaries.  I especially appreciate his concern for women – he regularly asks for our opinions and then acts on our suggestions.  He is a man of testimony, a man of vision, and a man of God.”

Stake Young Women president Melanie Christensen agrees with this assessment. “President Brennan loves and cares for the women of this stake. He wants us to be happy, to be fulfilled, and to understand how important women's contributions are to the church. He and the stake presidency regularly counsel with me, Cindy Suman, the stake Relief Society president, and Cindy Duffy, the stake Primary president. They take our temperature on current issues and programs, they seek our input on decisions. They want to know how the stake can help meet our needs.”

Kirk Hess, stake Young Men president, also notes President Brennan’s extraordinary capacity for work and service. “I am absolutely convinced nobody in our stake travels as much as President Brennan. He spends more days on the road than anyone I know. Yet never once did I ever question where his commitments lie. No one can say to him, ‘I have no time to pray, read the scriptures, attend the temple, or share the gospel.’ He is the busiest man on the planet, yet with his priorities in place all the ‘noise’ falls to the wayside. I’m grateful for how President Brennan quietly exemplifies strict obedience to the prophetic priorities of the brethren.” 

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Bishop Tony Smith (Lake Forest) agrees. “My favorite thing about serving with President Brennan is the care and importance he applies to each individual he works with.  I remember one night he had an appointment with me and he was a bit late because he just flew in from Cleveland, drove straight to meet with me, and had a perfect excuse to cancel the meeting or at least keep it short.  Instead he met with me in the same calm manner as always, took a bit of extra time to speak about my personal life, and even remembered details about me from past conversations even though he meets with so many people.  He makes everyone he meets with one on one feel like they are close friends.”

Bishop Mitch Owens (Live Oak) shares this sentiment. “My favorite times with President Brennan have been the personal interview times. He has the ability to show his concern and interest in what is pressing for who he is with. His concerns were my concerns; his interest was in the well-being of those who have been called to serve, his focus was on how I was doing, how my family was doing, how our ward family was doing, and what he could do to help me do better. I always left those visits feeling uplifted and energized.”

“President Brennan is unrelenting in reminding me of my duty, but always with love,” says Bishop Jeff Robinson (Aliso Creek). “I always come away from meetings with him both knowing that he loves and appreciates me and wanting to do better.  Missionaries need to be loved, lifted, and motivated to forget about themselves and work hard.  I think he will do that masterfully.”

Bishop Reed Feist (Foothill Ranch) shares this optimism for the kind of mission president Sterling Brennan will become. “He has a great love for missionary work. I have heard him bear solemn testimony on many occasions of The First Vision and the events of the Restoration through the prophet Joseph Smith. These truths are near and dear to his heart. What a blessing it has been to have been led by a servant of the Lord who was called by prophecy and revelation to lead and preside over the Santa Margarita Stake these past many years.”

This is all true, but they also ALL agree on President Brennan’s secret weapon as a mission president. “One very special element he will bring to his new calling as a mission president is his dear wife, Annette,” says Bishop John Bennett (Altisima) with a smile. Bishop Owens is in absolute agreement on this point. “Sister Brennan has always been a great example of how to be supportive; watching her you can see she has great leadership skills and great compassion for those she is called to serve. She will be a delight for the sister missionaries, the elders, and the senior missionaries they will serve side by side with in the mission field.” 

Bishop Owens adds, “I think his legacy will be that those of us within this stake will remember this as a time of well-being as we spent our time in the service of others. We will recognize looking back that we improved ourselves, that we had struggles but we pulled together as a stake family and accomplished much.” This is a sentiment Bishop Bennett echoes. “One of the most important things I have learned from working with President Brennan is just how much his unwavering love of the gospel of Jesus Christ is illustrated in everything he does.  I have not met anyone as busy as he is, yet in every interaction his love of our Heavenly Father, our Savior, his family, and of the gospel shine through as if they are the only thing that matters.”  

Many of us can remember the profound spirit of peace that filled our chapels as we listened to President Brennan speak over the years, but perhaps the best tribute to him is in all the ways he watched over us without us ever knowing, through our bishops and other leaders, through prayer and loving care. President Christensen relates an experience when she witnessed this firsthand. “In 2014 our stake girls camp on Catalina was cancelled due to a big storm.  President Brennan was working in Utah when I called to give him the news.  The decision was made to hold a local girls camp instead, but that meant we only had a few hours to get a program together.  The stake Young Women board met until midnight trying to arrange lodging, food, and activities for over 200 hundred young women and leaders. After the meeting I stepped into the hallway to turn out the light, and there was President Brennan.  Unbeknownst to us, he had been patiently waiting in his office while we met, watching over us even though we had no idea he was there.  I'm not sure when he flew home, but there he was serving us.” 

Perhaps Bishop Robinson says it best. “President Brennan's tender relationship with our Father in Heaven shines through in every conversation.  The Gospel is absolute truth to him.  Both his life and his leadership style are driven by the eternal realities of our premortal existence as children of heavenly parents, our need to be saved by God's Beloved son, and the wonderful opportunity that is ours to build His kingdom in these latter days.”

It's something I will do until my hands won't let me anymore.

Like all great stories, Colleen Yeoman's path to finding the Mormon church began unconventionally. She was baptized in Salt Lake . . . as a Catholic in the Cathedral of the Madeleine. Some day she would find herself inside the walls of an equally beautiful edifice there—the Salt Lake Temple. But it was a long and winding road with several fascinating stops along the way.

Colleen was born to a Mormon mother and a Catholic father. In fact, she was even blessed as an infant in a Mormon church. But her mother died when she was four and Colleen was raised by her Catholic father. At the age of 13 during the peak of World War II, they moved to South Dakota because her father, who owned a Hudson auto dealership in Murray, UT, was tapped as the automotive advisor to the 8th Army/Air Force Regiment.

Eventually, Colleen ended up in San Diego after marrying her first husband in 1943. He wasn’t Mormon either, and when Colleen began taking the Mormon missionary lessons at the age of 21, he didn’t particularly mind. And even when it took her two months after joining the Mormon church to actually attend a meeting, he seemed fine with her choice. In many ways, Colleen had dream life: not only did she have four healthy children and a dream house, they owned a profitable TV store and lucrative rental property. When her kids reached the age of eight, her husband didn’t object to their baptism. But their attendance at church began to put fractures in their marriage. In those days, Sunday School, sacrament meeting, primary and Relief Society were spread throughout the week and her husband resented his family’s attendance on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays too.

Colleen knew that it was what was best for her kids so she held firm. Her husband wanted her to leave the church, but when she wouldn’t he grew verbally abusive and eventually gave her an ultimatum: leave the church or he would leave her.

And so Colleen left behind her affluent lifestyle so she could continue to raise her children in the gospel. She was a single mother for eleven years and moved to Utah so she could have the support of her extended family. There she was able to send her son on a mission and see all of her children married in the temple.

While she was happy and busy a mother, Colleen needed to work. She’d always had a talent for drawing and soon took a job drawing house plans for a large development company where she would work for many years. But she did feel a missing piece in her life: a husband to love, one who would treat her with respect and love the gospel like she did.

One night a cousin of hers called her and said she was going to listen to her husband, Jim Sharpe, play with his band at a pizza parlor and wanted to know if Colleen would like to go. Jim had a friend in the band named Harvey Yeoman, a gifted musician whose wife had left him after he suffered a heart attack. He was living with his kids in California when Jim invited him to come teach stringed instruments in the Springville schools. Jim liked Harvey quite a bit and when they had an intermission during the pizza parlor performance, he brought Harvey down to the table to visit with his wife and Colleen. Jim gave Colleen the third degree, asking all kinds of questions as Harvey listened quietly.

Colleen liked Harvey, but he wasn’t LDS. In fact, he’d been a Pentecostal minister with a very famous band called the Christian Troubadours. They performed gospel music all over the United States and even got some gold records. When they toured, the band would play then Harvey would preach the good word of God. But life had now brought him to the hotbed of the LDS church, and he found he liked the Mormons. He’d been studying the gospel for a year, attending his local ward, even paying his tithing. His high priest group thought he was already Mormon!

But Colleen knew he wasn’t. She’d been down the road of marrying someone who didn’t share her faith, and she wasn’t interested in doing it again. She liked him, though. He was a warm, charismatic man, and so she invited Jim and Harvey to come perform at a single adult fireside held at her home. Jim left after the performance but Harvey stayed, and during the course of the evening, Colleen bore her testimony.

It wasn’t long after that when she received a curious invitation in the mail. The card showed a little boy with a fishing rod hauling a giant fish from the water. It was captioned, “We caught a big one!” It was an invitation to Harvey’s baptism!

Seven months after Harvey listened to Colleen bear her testimony, they were married. They lived in Springville and Orem, and as Colleen said with a twinkle in her eye, “We were very popular.” They had 25 wonderful years before he died of cancer.

Colleen was never one to let grief or tragedy hold her back. She has taken solace in the gospel and her talents throughout her whole life, especially in her art. She never had much formal training; as a child in South Dakota she took lessons once a week for a while, but she was gifted enough that when she divorced, she was able to support herself teaching lessons in her garage for a while. And talent ran in her family: her uncle was a famous sculptor in Utah named Maurice Brooks. He made the angel Moroni atop the LA temple as well as the This Is the Place monument. Funnily enough, he is one of her Utah Catholic relatives, not one of the Mormon ones!

Over the years she continued developing her talent and moved from drawing to painting, selling and trading a lot of her art over the years. “Oil is forgiving,” she explains. “You can keep working until you get something you like.”

Sister Yeoman with an original landscape.

While she has primarily worked in sea and landscapes as an artist, she has recently taken up a new challenge: studies. This is where she recreates the work of famous artists in beautiful oil canvases as a way to keep her skills sharp and learn new techniques. “It’s something I’ll do until my hands won’t let me anymore.”

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Above all else, even more than her passion for art, it is her passion for the gospel that keeps her smile on her face. At 80+ years of age she’s taken on another challenge: uprooting herself from Utah to move to Santa Margarita to be near her daughters, grandchildren, and great-greatchildren spread across the Tijeras Canyon and Live Oak Canyon wards. “I’ve been in the church for fifty years and it’s made my life and the lives of my family much better. I believe in the Restoration. I moved here (to California) hoping I could get people in the gospel because I haven’t had a chance to be a missionary.”

Colleen Yeoman’s beautiful art is a reflection of the beautiful woman who makes it.