When Mormon Times debuted in January 2008, our editors sent out an invitation for readers to send in their stories. We wanted a collection of insights and experiences pertaining to not just LDS doctrine, but Mormon culture as well.
Since then, we've received a lot of heart and humor.
This week, Mormon Times presents a sampling of short anecdotes sent in by readers. Some stories are the product of child innocence; others of slippery wax floors. But whether they deal with drifting ward clerks, meetinghouse mice or a "precious" mistake on a missionary plaque, we have just two hopes — that these stories make you smile, and that you'll continue to send them in.
Back in the 1970s, I was called by our bishop to be the ward clerk. In those days, one function of the ward clerk during our sacrament meetings was to sit at the table on one side of the stand, in front of the congregation, and take minutes, recording the hymns that were sung, who offered the prayers, who the speakers were, the topic of each talk, and so forth.
Unfortunately, during that time, sacrament meeting was held very late on Sunday afternoon, and I was often sleepy in church. In fact, my wife, Marie, tried multiple times to make me understand that by so obviously dozing while the speakers were talking, I was bringing shame and disrepute to myself and the entire family.
I went along with some remedies that the family suggested to keep me awake. For example, I would sometimes take a nap before sacrament meeting, so it might be easier for me to stay awake during the meeting. In addition, Marie and the children (who usually sat on the front row) would get together and stare fixedly at me. Marie told me that they hoped their collective mind power could somehow arouse me from my slumbers.
I suppose that if I had thought my behavior really needed correcting, I might have been more concerned. But really, I didn't think that my occasional dozing would be such a big deal.
But that all changed one Sunday, when I was awakened from my slumbers at my ward clerk's post by the sound of laughter. It was obvious that every person in the chapel was looking, and laughing, at me.
As soon as the meeting was over, I asked Marie what had happened. One of the newer young deacons had been assigned to be what was informally referred to as the "bishop's runner." His job was to deliver messages from the bishop, if needed, to somebody in the audience. Most sacrament meetings, the deacon had nothing to do, so he just sat up there on the stand behind the bishop.
This particular Sunday, the runner was a young deacon named Clayton. He was evidently very sleepy that day, because he was nodding off, too.
At one point, someone had said, "Look at Clayton — he must be practicing to be a ward clerk!"
Submitted by Francis William "Bill" Houghtaling, Raleigh, N.C.
My daughter recently returned from the Germany Munich/Austria Mission. While she was gone, my husband and I were serving a church service mission in the inner city project and did not attend our home ward. This and other circumstances (along with some procrastination) made it so I didn't get a picture and scripture to our home ward for a missionary plaque until right before she came home. They did, however, get it done in time to present it to her when she spoke in church upon her return.
As the bishop stood at the pulpit to give her the plaque, he said there had been a mistake by the company that made the plaque. He said that while he may have chosen the scripture on it for her or her parents may have chosen it, he knew she would not have chosen it for herself.
The scripture that she had chosen was Proverbs 3:5: "Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding."
But what the plaque actually had on it was Proverbs 3:15: "She is more precious than rubies: and all the things thou canst desire are not to be compared unto her."
Submitted by Carolyn Ipson, Sandy, Utah
In trying to remember my days as a young man in the priesthood, there is one moment I will always recall vividly. It was back in 1938. Now, for some of you that seems like a long time ago, but for me it was just yesterday.
I was a young deacon in the South Morgan Ward in Morgan. We had a nice stone chapel with wood floors, but no carpeting, just a nice varnished finish. The raised dais, where the organ stood, had the same flooring.
One Sunday I was given the assignment to pass the sacrament to those on the stand. As I was passing the water to the organist, I slipped on the recently waxed, varnished floor and fell flat.
Now this wouldn't have been such a great problem, except that in those days the sacrament cups were glass. When glass falls upon hardwood floors, it tends to break. Further, this young deacon was in front of the whole congregation and it was deathly quiet ... that is until I came along.
When glass quit falling and breaking, and the metal tray quit bouncing, a very embarrassed young man dragged himself to his feet and started to gather the remnants of his performance. A couple members of the bishopric came to my aid and I was able to finish my passing assignment.
Not long after this, either as a result of my experience or that of others, the church sent out notices to all custodians that they were not to wax the floors with their usual slippery wax, but to use a new non-slippery form.
Submitted by Lamar Burnett, Orem, Utah
I was recently washing dishes in a meetinghouse kitchen when my niece's 4-year-old daughter, Millie, asked me what we were doing.
"We're cleaning up the dishes so we won't leave a mess."
"Because when we use Jesus' house, we need to leave it nice and clean."
"Because it wouldn't be polite to go to someone's house and make a big mess and then leave without cleaning it up, would it? Did you know that the church is Jesus' house?"
She studied me for a moment, wondering if I was teasing, but finally decided I was serious.
"I didn't know this was Jesus' house," she marveled. "Who locks the doors when we go home?"Submitted by Beth Stephenson, Edmond, Okla.
My daughter, Rachel Williams, is blessed with a wonderful 5-year-old son who had a heart transplant when he was a few months old. From time to time Dallin has perfectly exemplified the scripture found in 3 Nephi 26:14 that says the children "did speak unto their fathers great and marvelous things."
One Sunday, some Melchizedek Priesthood holders were blessing the sacrament in Dallin's ward. In response to a deep-voiced sacrament prayer and too short to see the sacrament table, Dallin whispered in his dad's ear, "Dad, was that Jesus saying the prayer?" His dad whispered back, "No" A half a minute later, and
deep in thought, Dallin asked in a more serious tone, "Was it Heavenly Father?"
Out of the mouth of babes.
Submitted by Kevan Blair, South Jordan, Utah
Reported to have happened in an older church building in a Salt Lake stake:
Near the conclusion of a sacrament meeting, the ward's bishop heard the organist and chorister chatting behind him, and then the chorister leaned forward and handed the bishop a folded piece of paper. This has happened occasionally before, the organist deciding she couldn't play the planned closing hymn, so the chorister suggests a different hymn. Assuming this was the case again, the bishop held onto the folded note and planned to announce the song change when he stood up to close the meeting.
After the final speaker concluded, the bishop stood at the pulpit, thanked the meeting's speakers, and then said: "We have a change in the closing hymn. It now will be," and he opened the note and read aloud, "Bishop, there's a mouse in the organ — what should I do?"
Submitted by Jay A. Schneider, Taylorsville, Utah
Here is a direct quote from a letter I received from my niece. I thought it was interesting.
"(A relative) shared an interesting story about some of the protesters (at the Twin Falls Idaho Temple open house). Apparently they are hired by some opposing church to stand there and chant. One day one of the protesters said to one of the ushers directing traffic that he needed to use the restroom and could he possibly go inside the church to do so. The usher said, 'Sure, I'll even hold your sign.' The man returned and said, 'I don't assume I would be allowed to go inside the temple.' The man said, 'Sure you can. I'll hold your sign while you go through the tour,' and told him where to go to join a tour group. A little while later the man returned to the usher and said, 'It's not what they told us it was. You can keep the sign,' and he got in his car and drove away.
Here's one in the same letter, from a nephew:
"There was a boy in the Raft River Ward who did not want to speak on his assigned topic, so spoke instead on the topic of obedience."
Submitted by Berneice Neeley, Salt Lake City
Years ago we visited friends in Charleston, Wasatch County, during the winter. Our son, who was about 3 years old, had never been in the cold weather. We were just getting out of church when our son ran outside. He then came running back in and yelled, "the cows are smoking." This of course got those around laughing. He did not know what happened when you breathe hot air into the cold air.
Submitted by Norm Rasmussen, West Valley, Utah
My 5-year-old grandson and I were playing with Legos. He was building a garage. I was building a temple. He looked at mine and said, "I will finish it for you, Grandma."
He found a yellow Lego and put it on top. That is "Romoni!" he said.
I spelled it out for him to get the proper name. We were both happy.
Submitted by Carol Searle, Midvale, Utah
Do you have your own story to tell? Send it to firstname.lastname@example.org. Please include your name and contact information.