Fire and Ice

CPR FLYER 2015Fire and Ice 3

Fire and Ice 1Fire and Ice 2Fire and Ice 4                                     

The Dale City ward hosted a Multi-Ward “Fire and Ice” Relief Society Meeting in the Hoadly Road Building on July 15th. Ryan Kirk, EMS Training Lieutenant for Prince William County, presented Fire Safety, CPR, and First Aid for Choking. The Dale City Ward treated the sisters to ice cream afterwards.  They also had the chance to practice CPR. 


Young Women United Through The Living Christ

“I know He lives.”

Almost two hundred young women and their leaders from the Woodbridge, Virginia stake of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints stood together at Girls Camp on Tuesday, June 30 and recited the words from Apostles of the Lord Jesus Christ testifying of Christ’s divinity. These young women had memorized the document titled “The Living Christ.”

Before the recitation fourteen presenters represented a person from the scriptures who had known and loved Jesus Christ.  They came in costume and had memorized their words, concluding with “I know He lives.” They spoke with conviction and invited the spirit. Moses, Isaiah, Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of Jesus, Nephi, Jacob, Mormon, Moroni and others shared their testimonies to the young women.

And then they watched this together.

All three events combined together were a powerful experience for the young women. Many of them talked about how memorizing “The Living Christ” really changed their lives. Amy Buongiovonni, Stake Camp Director, said that after the video, “There were very few dry eyes in the room.  Everyone was touched by the beautiful images of the Savior and the lovely music we heard.  It was so inspiring to hear young women from around the world sharing their testimonies with us through the words of “The Living Christ.””

One of the young women, Ellie Tomlinson, said, “It was such an amazing experience and I felt like my testimony grew tremendously. The Living Christ is an amazing testimony of its own and reciting with the stake was a spiritual experience and the video made the spirit stronger.”

Abigail Cragun, from the Quantico Ward, shared her feelings of the experience. “The Living Christ video was amazing. Seeing all the girls from all over the world with smiles on their faces made me want to cry. Then we all recited The Living Christ. I could see that everyone loved the Savior. Testimony meeting was so spiritual. We were all united.”

DSC_1001 DSC_1003

Michelle Hale, a Stake Girls Camp YCL Leader, spent many hours creating and editing the video. She said, “Reaching out to Young Women around the world fit with our international theme, and now I knew what to have the Young Women say to show their solidarity with us: phrases from “The Living Christ.”  We began contacting friends and family all over the country and world to invite them to join in our project.”

The events of this evening were the highlight of a week of camp activities based around the theme of “Embark All Ye Nations.” Buongiovonni explained that the Youth Camp Leaders, the older girls at camp who act as assistant leaders throughout camp, chose the theme “Embark All Ye Nations” during the pre-camp meetings.  They used the worldwide 2015 youth theme of “O Ye That Embark in the Service of God” and added their idea of an international theme by changing the title of the song “Hark All Ye Nations” to “Embark All Ye Nations.”

Buongiovonni said, “During our opening ceremony, the YCL’s marched in accompanied by the thrilling sounds of the “Olympic Fanfare and Theme,” each carrying one of the flags each ward had created before camp to represent their ward and their chosen country.  After the flags were posted, each girl came forward to share a brief history of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in each country.  For our closing ceremony, they marched out carrying the same flags.  It was pretty moving, actually.”

These wards represented the following countries.DSC_0121_2

Bristow:  Jamaica

Dale City: Japan

Lake Ridge 1: France

Lake Ridge 2: Egypt

Potomac River: Brazil

Prince William: USADSC_0909

Quantico: Morocco

Woodbridge 1: Italy

Woodbridge 2: Ireland
This international theme carried the girls through the week with a Cultural Night, Olympic Games, skits, and international food. The Olympic Games included such games such as Live Hungry Hippos, a Chinese dragon game, water balloon volleyball, sponge dodgeball, and Ultimate Frisbee.

During the Cultural Night the girls visited nine different countries represented by special guests and collected stickers in passports after they tried the food and learned a new phrase in each country’s language.  The special guests and their countries were… Greece: Helena Atwood, France: Mirielle Loosli, Germany: Anja Crawford, Uganda: David and Christine Oryang, Japan: Luke Nichols, Tonga: Louisa Wells, Philippines: Emily Roderick, Guatemala: Norma and Cesar Arana and the Czech Republic: John Prymak.

On Monday night the young women performed in the annual skit night. Each ward presented a skit they had prepared in advance which included a word from a foreign language, a journey, and a scripture.

Even the meals, headed up by the kitchen staff, Kathy Knighton, Pati Stanford, Milli Goesch, and Rosemarie Griffith, had an international flair and international activities for the girls while they waited in line. The girls colored blank flags and learned interesting facts about the various countries’ food.

DSC_0894Girls Camp was held in Prince William Forest Park Cabin Camp 4, which included cabins, a kitchen and dining hall, access to canoes, a craft lodge, a fire ring with benches around it, and a large building. Buongiovonni said that they called this large building The Hall of Nations and used it for large group activities. For the Cultural Night Ashley Cherepon decorated it. Buongiovonni said, “It was colorful and filled with life and international pizzazz!”

DSC_0545Of course Girls Camp wouldn’t be Girls Camp without passing off camping requirements, learning first aid skills, learning how to start a fire, hiking (this year through some deep water with help from two Priesthood brethren), and cooking meals outside. They also had opportunities to ride in the canoes, make various crafts in the craft lodge, or learn archery skills.

 And as Buongiovanni explains, “Being at camp away from “real” life helps the young women reconnect with other girls, their leaders, and Heavenly Father.  It’s a time to remember how beautiful the world is, but it’s also a time away from our usual creature comforts.  It’s hot and dirty, and the young women aren’t allowed to bring their cell phones. Those are all real challenges for the girls.  Overcoming those challenges takes patience and faith, and it helps them draw closer to the greatest source of strength available to them: their Heavenly Father.”

Alyssa Brimhall, a young woman from the Dale City Ward, summed it all up perfectly. “This year at Girls camp was the best year I’ve ever had. Why? Because I embarked… I have journeyed into the woods, canoed in water with dangerous animals and cute turtles, and given my taste buds an adventure from foreign food. I have walked into other nations, and cabin unit D. But I have also made new friendships and a more sincere love for others as well as my ward. Throughout all of this, Camp taught me to Embark in the service of God.”

By Camille Kerr

Writing Specialist on the Woodbridge, Virginia Stake Public Affairs Council for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

The Pathway Program Blesses Woodbridge Stake Members

pathways logoIn December 1971, Henry B. Eyring, then president of Ricks College (now called BYU-Idaho), made a prophetic statement in his inaugural address. “We must also find ways for this college to serve young people whose needs are shaped by a great variety of cultures and situations, and who may not be able to come to this campus…. We will find direct ways to move the blessing of education … from this campus out into the lives of men and women everywhere.”

Today, Pathway is the fulfillment of this promise. Pathway offers church members a low-cost educational opportunity that combines online courses with local student gatherings. Pathway is enabling the blessing of education to issue forth from the BYU-Idaho campus and spread throughout the world! This life changing program is making a difference all over the world and specifically here in our Woodbridge stake.

Consider the possible barriers to getting an education: money, time, family responsibilities, grades, fear of failing. Brother Brigham Taylor, Pathway Manager from BYU-Idaho, said, “Our goal is to lower and remove barriers to education.” With a simple application process and very few requirements, Pathway students take three semesters, over the course of a year. Each semester includes two classes – one religion class and one academic class. They take the classes online and then gather together with a group of fellow students once a week for student led discussions and active learning and, as many Pathway students shared, for an uplift. Speaking of the Thursday group Steve Krieski, a Pathway student, said, “The spirit there is unmatched.”

Once through the three semesters students have earned college credit that is eligible for transfer to BYU-Idaho and other universities and can lead to a variety of online degrees and professional certificates.

On Sunday May 31, a special Fireside introduced Pathway to interested Woodbridge stake members; the entire stake Presidency was there. President Clark Price said it is rare that they are all in one meeting together and that they were all there shows how important the Pathway program is. He said, “This program is inspired of the Lord.” He felt that already when the Stake Presidency was introduced to Pathway in the summer of 2012. He explained that through Pathway many stake members are able to seek after and obtain intelligence to help them and their loved ones return to Heavenly Father. He said, “In the last two years I don’t know of anything other than this that has brought about so much good. Hundreds of men and women have been blessed by it.”

Trent and Sherie Christensen of the Prince William ward were called as Church service missionaries for the Pathway program in November 2013.  Sherie said, “We worked really hard to get the word out so that (stake members) knew the opportunity existed.  It spoke to so many people who wanted to go back and finish. The Pathway program is such an incredible opportunity not just academically but for personal growth.”

Such a high number of interested participants signed up by the December 2013 deadline, that the Woodbridge Stake was approved to be an overflow site from the Fairfax Pathway site.  More than 50 students began their Pathway year in January 2014 in the Dale City building in the 30+ age group. The Christensens served as the facilitating missionary couple and lead the first and last meeting of the semester.  Pathway students lead all of the other weekly gatherings.  Sister Christensen said these were “spirit filled and spirit driven classes.”

In March 2014 the Woodbridge Stake was officially approved to start a regular site in September 2014.  The Christensens began recruiting again and recruited enough students to form two cohorts divided by age.  Two more facilitating missionary couples were called to lead the cohorts; the Kidbys led the 31+ cohort in Dale City building and the Worthingtons led the 18-30 cohort in the Stake Center.

Being a part of the Pathway program changed the lives of these students.   Sister Christensen said that the students often described how Pathway strengthened their testimonies.  They felt the empowerment that knowledge brings to them.  Sister Christensen said, “We saw people go through the temple, read all the way through the Book of Mormon.  Their lives changed.  We saw a lot of beautiful moments of faith.  We’ve seen people who were less active come back to church.”

Moses Conteh, a Pathway student from the Woodbridge 1st ward, said, “Pathway is not only about academics; it is about our spiritual lives. It has brought my spiritual life up to a level I had never expected.”

Jennifer Ruiz, from the Potomac River ward, is a mother of seven children. She said that Pathway is “a great blessing to improve ourselves. I can prepare myself to be a better disciple of Christ and to help others too. “

In 2009 Pathway began with 3 sites and 50 students. Today it has 314 sites in 32 countries and 9,316 students. Taylor said, “Pathway is an amazing fruit of the gospel.” And the fruit leads to other fruit of the gospel – the blessings in individual’s lives.

Steve Krieski, from the Woodbridge 1st ward was baptized in 2011. Once he started the Pathway program he really felt tremendous spiritual growth. He said, “There was so much more I could become and Pathway taught me that.”

Matt and Penny Clark shared, “This was our window of opportunity to go back to school.” They have seen the hand of the Lord in their lives as they both have worked through Pathway. Sister Clark said, “I testify that if we simply do that which we are inspired to do, the Lord will provide a way. I’m excited to matriculate and carry on with my education and hope others will pray about this amazing opportunity and have the strength to follow through with their decision. “

Brother Clark said, “Pathway is an inspired program and I hope many who don’t think they are capable can pray and act on their promptings.”

For those interested in applying for the Pathway school year that will start in September 2015 the application process is simple. There is no application fee, and no standardized scores (ACT/SAT) or ecclesiastical endorsement are required.

To apply, you must be a member of the church, have daily access to a computer and the Internet, attend the weekly gatherings, strive to live the Honor Code, pass an English assessment (for non-native English speakers) and be able to pay for your class credits. The cost of Pathway credits is significantly lower than credits at other schools; one credit is $65. For the Pathway year, the total cost is $585 for 18-30 year old students and $975 for students 31 and older.

Students must complete their application by the program’s August 24, 2015 application deadline. Visit the Pathway website to apply.

By Camille Kerr

Writing Specialist on the Woodbridge, Virginia Stake Public Affairs Council for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints




A Story of Service: Part 3

Missionary service had already been a part of James and Jerry Condie’s lives and their ancestry. Brother Condie’s father served in Arizona shortly after his marriage. After his missionary service he and his wife had seven children, the middle child being James Condie. James grew up and followed these missionary examples, serving in the East German Mission from 1950-1953. He served in the cities of Berlin, Hannover, Braunschweig, Kiel, and Husum.

And then it came time for Brother and Sister Condie to serve as missionaries together. They were called to serve in the Bangalore, India mission in 2001-2002. They were responsible for supporting up to 16 elders or sisters, by managing bank accounts and distributing weekly allowances, locating and furnishing apartments. They also managed the publicity and programs for a new chapel open house and dedication, counseled with and trained the local leadership, taught music, taught English, organized family home evenings for singles, and taught classes.

India first LDS constructed chapel India at ground breaking for Second LDS chapel

Sister Condie says of their time in India, “The branches were led and staffed by local people.  They needed help in learning how the programs of the church should be administered.   All the church members were converts of less than 10 years, but they knew the gospel!”

The Condies spoke highly of the Indian people. “The Indian people are exceptionally friendly, polite and respectful of Americans.  The saints in India have strong testimonies, love the Lord and learn the gospel quickly.  They can teach a class or conduct a meeting as well as anyone here. In the branches where we were located, there were convert baptisms almost each week. The recently formed first stake in India was organized in our first assigned city of about 5 million people, Hyderabad and we were excited to have known the new leaders.”

They related one special memory of when they introduced the gospel to a family they met while traveling on a train. They said, “We met a man who said that he was looking for a better way to worship Christ.  We introduced him, his wife and two children to the Book of Mormon and the church.  He is now a solid member and presides over the Visakhaputnam  District of the church on the East coast of India.”

India Jerry at orphanage India Jerry and little girl

They also were able to enjoy cultural events such as several weddings that had both Christian and Hindu festivities.  Other parts of the Indian culture that were a bit nerve-wracking were the auto rickshaw rides. The Condies said that these rides, “weaved in and out of traffic. That led us to say a prayer for our safety and others on the road.  We became well acquainted with bargaining with the drivers of the auto rickshaws and taxis as to what our trip would cost.  They always charged us more than anyone else.  We became accustomed to seeing cattle and goats roaming the streets, and monkeys climbing the walls.  We enjoyed the marketplaces and the fresh fruit and vegetables.  There is no mango as good as a mango from Hyderabad, India.”

After returning from India the Condies spent a few more years in their Woodbridge home and then made the move to their current home in 2007 where they now attend the Quantico Ward in the Woodbridge Stake. Their legacy of quiet dedicated service goes on and on.

Jerry 2012 James 2012

By Camille Kerr

Writing Specialist on the Woodbridge, Virginia Stake Public Affairs Council for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints