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Front Page » June 22, 2004 » Opinion » Harriet's World
Published 4,633 days ago

Harriet's World

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I suppose you have all heard the song, "They The Builders of The Nation?" We sing it sometimes in our church services. I consider myself a builder of the nation and I will tell you why.

I was born in l940 just before the end of the second world war and I lived in the same place for 32 years. Now that is not so significant but when I tell you that I cannot remember a time in my life when my family was not sacrificing in someway to help build a chapel, stake house, or a temple for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, my statement is self explanatory.

Then there is the war itself where everybody was building something for the war effort. Not to minimize the war but lets put that aside because I think that the song Builders of the Nation means the church nation. Well, we certainly did do that.

We were a little branch of the church in Southern California. San Fernando Valley to be exact and we met in the Mason meeting hall over the pool hall in Reseda, Calif. I can remember climbing lots of stairs to get to the rooms and sitting in a huge room with comfortable theater seats built around the edge of the walls with pictures of all the "grand op paws" and such of the Masons staring down at us.

We weren't allowed to sit in those seats around the walls. However we sat in uncomfortable metal chairs put up for us the night before in rows in the center of the room. Before we left we had to take down those chairs and stack them and put them away for next time. Little did I know it was the beginning of sitting on hard, old, metal, collapsible chairs most of my life. Most of you know what I am talking about. To this day I hate sitting on those chairs.

Now we have those lovely cushioned chairs in the Relief Society rooms and when I go to a dinner or a function I get one of them to sit on. I figure I've earned the right and so has my back.

Anyway, to get back to what I was talking about. When we became big enough to be a ward we had to build a chapel. We were the builders of the first chapel in San Fernando Valley. My parents lived in the same place for 45 years and we built three chapels, two stake houses and a temple. The chapels were built on spaghetti dinners. That is to say, every time the Bishop needed more money for the building fund we would have a spaghetti dinner. Everybody would bring something such as the already fixed spaghetti and green salad fixins and garlic bread.

We would then throw it all into a big pot or bowl and eat at least once a month around the chapel site. Like pot luck but we were only allowed to bring spaghetti.

We put the saw horses together and threw up some wood to make a table and sat on what ever we could and had dinner. Then Bishop Peel would get up and tell us that we needed money for this item or that wall or whatever and ask us to please put up more money.

I can remember lots of times my father calling a family meeting and telling us we were going to sacrifice this vacation or that because we had given our money to the church building fund. I don't ever remember regretting it.

My older sister was the first to have her wedding reception in our not ready yet cultural hall. As a matter of fact, the stage was supposed to be finished for it and it wasn't so we put crepe paper streamers, floor to ceiling, in front of it to hide all the building going on there. Her wedding pictures, unfortunately, have a NO SMOKING sign above all our heads where the photographer accidentally got it in the picture. However, the reception came off beautifully and wonderfully because it was our chapel and we had helped to build it.

We built three chapels on those kind of ward dinners. The San Fernando Stake House was built with the Hawaiian luaus.

The Los Angeles temple had a little more class because we had more people involved. However, we all had a hand in sacrificing something. If you have ever seen the Los Angeles Temple you know that it has that beautiful sweeping hill in the front. The olive trees there were imported from Jerusalem. We helped pay for those trees. That sweeping hill was once a green onion field. How do I know? Because as a young woman, one Wednesday afternoon after school they bussed a bunch of our youth into the area to sit in the mud on the side of that hill and pull green onions with our bare hands until it got so dark we couldn't see anymore. We were muddy from head to toe. We cleared that big old hill so they could plant and landscape those beautiful olive trees. Did we mind it?No, because we were the builders of the nation.

Not two many years ago the church announced that there would be no more building fund here on the North American continent. That was very significant to me. My children and my grandchildren have no idea what it is like to sacrifice to build a chapel. When the church built the new conference center, we didn't have to put forth any money. We had sufficient funds in our tithes to build that center. Wow, quite a difference when you consider what our ancestors went through to build the Salt Lake Temple and Tabernacle.

So whether you are of the Mormon faith, the Catholic faith, the Baptist faith, a Buddhist or any other, and if you have ever helped to build a place of worship, then I think you can consider yourself to be a builder of the nation.

Well, that is my world. Until next time remember the words of George Burns, "The secret of a good sermon is to have a good beginning and a good ending and having the two as close together as possible."

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June 22, 2004
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