Meet a Mom of the Year

Miriam Storey

 

Meet Miriam Storey, from the Bristow Ward of the Woodbridge Stake of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

She was honored as one of twelve Moms of the Year in the May issue of Washington Family magazine.

From her perspective as a mother and grandmother she gives this advice to new moms, “There are two things you give your children: One is roots, the other is wings. Instill a love of God and for all mankind in their hearts and respect in their actions.”

Her husband, Craig, says “She is rather modest about it, but I like to brag on her.”  Check out her story in the Washington Family magazine.

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A Story of a Journey

By Camille Kerr

“What started as a chat on the doorstep with the two sweet Sister Missionaries became our story,” remembers Christina Leasure Ferrell, a member of the Quantico Ward, in the Woodbridge Stake.

“My fiancé came home after a long, hard day while I was chatting with the Sisters,” explained Christina, but that initial contact with the missionaries must be seen through her then fiancés eyes.

Curtis Ferrell told his side of the story.  “I was tired and had just stopped by the grocery store and was really in no mood to talk to anyone, especially missionaries. After I parked in the driveway, I took in part of the groceries through the garage and then came back out through the front door. The sister missionaries picked up very quickly that I did not want them there, so they prepared to leave, but as I went back out to the truck one of the sisters asked me, “Can we help you with your groceries?” I was astonished and could not believe what I’d heard – especially after the day I had just had… My demeanor immediately changed and I said to her, ‘No thank you, but that is the nicest thing anyone has said to me all day.’  We then spoke for a few minutes and they asked if they could come back sometime. I said of course. ”

“This began our journey to being married and baptized all in a weekend!”  said Christina.  The sister missionaries, Sister Natalie Seegmiller and Sister Macee Armstrong and later Sister Kaitlyn Johns, began visiting them regularly and teaching them about the gospel of Jesus Christ, the message of the restoration and the commandments and ordinances of the gospel.

Christina said, “My testimony is more of a journey than a single event. Through many specific prayers asking Heavenly Father to let me know if the Book of Mormon was true, if Joseph Smith really was a Prophet of God, and if this Church was the right thing for me, I just started to feel like what I was doing was what I should be doing and where I should be focusing my life – on Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ.”

Curtis recalls, “The more we read The Book of Mormon, the more we came to know this church is true. A few months later we were married on a Friday (after being engaged for several years), then baptized on Saturday and confirmed on Sunday. I’m so very grateful for our missionaries and all of the peace and joy they have brought into my life.” On that life changing weekend of February 6, 2015 they stepped onto the path of membership in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

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Curtis and Christina Ferrell at their wedding on February 6, 2015

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Curtis and Christina Ferrell with Sisters Seegmiller, Johns and Armstrong

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The Ferrell’s baptism on February 7, 2015 with Sisters Seegmiller, Johns and Armstrong

They were immediately put to work in callings which helped them learn and grow in the gospel.  Christina served on the committee for the midweek Relief Society meetings and then as the secretary for the Primary, the young children’s program.  Curtis served first as the Assistant Ward Mission Leader and then later he was called to be the Ward Mission Leader.  Christina said, “We help each other with our callings. We often join the missionaries in lessons with people learning about the church. We love to have the missionaries over for dinner as it brings such a wonderful spirit into our home!”

A year later on February 11, 2016 Natalie Seegmiller and Kaitlyn Johns were blessed to be able to come back and be a part of the Ferrell’s journey again as Curtis and Christina went to the Washington, D.C. temple to receive their endowments.  Two days later on a frigid Saturday, February 13, 2016 they were sealed for time and all eternity in the temple, adding even more joy and lengthening their journey together.

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February 13, 2016 at the Washington, D.C. temple

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Kaitlyn Johns and Natalie Seegmiller sharing in the joy of the temple with Curtis and Christina Ferrell

Aloha!

By Camille Kerr

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

Aloha!  The Polynesian culture is alive and well in the Woodbridge Stake.  Saturday evening, April 30th, the Quantico Ward hosted a Luau complete with a roasted pig, Polynesian entertainment and a Samoan fire knife dance.  This incredible Luau was thanks to members with Polynesian background from not only the Quantico Ward, but also the Woodbridge 1st ward and the Young Single Adult Branch.

Tahiti Dance

Quantico Ward families with Polynesian background include the Travis family, the Brash family, and the Anakalea family. The Travis family was integral in the planning of the Luau, putting together decorations and cooking food.  Brother Maui Travis is from Kaneohe, Hawai’i and his wife Patricia was born in Kahuku, raised in Hau’ula, Hawai’i, and is Filipina (Visayan-Ilocano).

Luau decorations

The Brash family also helped, providing food and decorations and their daughter Sulieti performed the Tongan tau’olunga as part of the entertainment.  Sister Tita Brash is from the island of Tonga, the only remaining monarchy in the South Pacific.  She explained that Tonga became known as the friendly islands because of the warm greetings received by Captain James Cook back in 1773.

She said, “We are a very proud people. Not in the material riches of the world but in our heritage and culture. And I believe Sulieti lived up to that as she has been sick the last few days and still wanted to perform and share a part of her Tongan culture with her ward family. And it was her very first performance ever.”

Sulieti

Crowning the Luau feast was a whole roasted pig, along with authentic Polynesian dishes such as Chicken Long Rice, Huli Huli Chicken, Hawaiian Mac Salad, Banana Bread, & Ambrosia Salad, which were provided by Quantico Ward Relief Society members thanks to recipes from the Brash, Travis, and Anakalea families.  Each of these families also cooked and shared food from their islands; the Brashes made Haupia, the Anakaleas made Pork Pimientos and Chantilly Cake, the Travis family made rice and the Brash & Faumuina families made Lupulu.

The highlight of the evening was the entertainment provided by the Polynesian Fusion Entertainment.  Sister Lagi Faumuina of the Woodbridge 1st Ward, the director of the group, began the entertainment with a hula hoop contest for various groups: Primary girls, primary boys, Young Women, Young Men, Relief Society Sisters, Elders Quorum, and the Quantico Ward Bishopric along with Stake Presidency members President Clark Price and President David Oryang who arrived just in time for his part in the contest.    A primary girl, Lauren Basham, beat them all with the longest hula hooping of all the groups.  The most entertaining group was the Bishopric and Stake Presidency members.

Hula Hoop Contest

Faumuina as director of Polynesian Fusion Entertainment introduced and participated in a myriad of dances native to the islands of Tonga, Hawaii, Samoa, Tahiti, and Fiji.  She said that she formed the group in 2015 with her friend Siela Ulugalu-Shirley, who is Samoan, from Manu’a in Am Samoa.  Their goal is to, “try and keep our culture alive and blend other cultures to come together as one. Being that we are a long ways from home, we feel it is our duty and responsibility to teach our children where they come from and who they are.”

Polynesian Fusion Entertainment

Faumuina was born and raised in Hawaii and grew up on the North Shore and experienced the life at the Polynesian Cultural Center. She said, “I’m from Oahu and pretty much spent most of my life around BYU-Hawaii because my grandfather and mother attended school there.  Today, I still have family members that are employed with PCC.  I come from a long line of dancers and entertainers so it’s really in my blood.”

Samoan Dance

Several of the dances were performed by Faumuina’s daughter and Ulugalu-Shirley’s daughters.  Pictured below are the girls at the Luau from left to right: Myrah Ulugalu-Shirley (12), Leilani Faumuina-Carr (11), Natalia Ulugalu-Shirley (10), and Serenity Ulugalu-Shirley (8).  Wearing native costumes to represent each dance, they performed dances from Tonga, Hawaii, Samoa, Tahiti and Fiji.

 

PFE girls in Hawaiian dress

The men of the group astounded the audience with their warrior dances: a solo dance by Faumuina’s son, Darrell Posten, and a group warrior dance with Darrell; Dwight Ulugalu-Shirley, who is Siela’s husband, the father of the 3 girls and from Jamaica; and Phetta Konelio, who attends the Young Single Adults branch in the Quantico Ward.

Warrior Dance 2

Phetta’s full name is Fetalaigalelei Pupu Konelio and he was born in Tahiti.  He said that he is “of Samoan, Tongan, Hawaiian, Tahitian, and Bulgarian heritage.” Faumuina explained her connection with him.  “I sent for him to come to Hawaii to have a better opportunity at life. Life adventures had us ending up in the East Coast.” He is a convert to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and served as a missionary in Arizona, speaking fluent Spanish.

Sulieti Brash is new to the group and she is 8. Missing from the group on the night of the Luau were Faumuina’s 2 sons Joseph Poston (16) and Cory L. Faumuina-Carr (12) and her business partner Siela Ulugalu-Shirley.

The Polynesian Fusion Entertainment group has performed at birthdays, corporate events, and luau parties.  They even performed at Montclair Day last year with another group. They are looking forward to being a part of the Around the World Cultural Food Festival at the Washington D.C. Mall in June and they have a performance this month at the Fiesta Asia.

Phetta blowing the conch shell

Konelio opened the entertainment with the traditional blowing of the conch shell and concluded the evening outside the building with an amazing Samoan fire knife dance called “Siva afi”, tossing, twirling and dancing with fiery flames. The Quantico Ward members extend a huge thank you to all those who put together the Luau and provided the entertainment. Dance

A Story of Hope and Light

Lindsay Heaton is a member of the Quantico Ward of the Woodbridge Stake of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. In the past six months she traveled twice to Greece to volunteer with organizations helping refugees. In November she worked with an organization called Mercy Worldwide, a U.K. based organization run at the time by a friend of hers. In January she returned, this time volunteering with We Are You, an organization begun by an inspiring Swedish musician and former refugee. Lindsay was willing to share her story, which is best told in her own words as answers to my questions.

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Here’s one of the teams I worked with.  (Three of us are LDS.)

CK: What led you to the decision to go over to Greece?

LH: Growing up in Egypt, I’ve had friends who’ve experienced life as refugees and others who claim as home the regions of the world where many of the wars and refugees are now coming from. Thus, when I read about the escalating crisis last summer I yearned to be of help. So I studied, pondered, and prayed, and on the way to the temple one day I received the strong impression that I needed to go to Greece with a friend’s organization and help the people crossing the Aegean Sea from Turkey. This prompting was reconfirmed a couple of Sundays later during the Primary program. As the children sang about being wrapped in the arms of their Savior’s love, I felt the Spirit whisper that my purpose in Greece was to help these beloved children of our Heavenly Father to feel of His love. So I went.

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A little boy in the refugee camp

 

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Getting ready to stand in the registration line (usually for four days or more) so they can go to Athens.

CK: Could you share what some of the specific things are that you do when you are there?

LH: First and foremost, I try to convey God’s love. If not in word, at least through the way I interact with people: with compassion and respect. Most of the tasks consist of things anyone could do: handing out food to the hungry, water to the thirsty, and clothes, blankets, and tents to the cold. Occasionally I assist medical personnel in treating refugees for shock, hypothermia, and other medical conditions. Finally, I tend to those who have recently lost children, parents, siblings, or friends to the conflict at home or in the dangerous water crossing from Turkey.

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People sleeping outside the camp.

 

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Inside the refugee camp. The lit room behind the trash is where the makeshift doctor’s office was for a time.

CK: Could you tell of some of the conditions you have seen?

LH: I have seen some truly heart-breaking scenes: husbands sobbing for wives, mothers weeping for children, children wailing for parents and siblings. I’ve seen the devastation brought on families and civilizations by war and hate and greed. However, I have also seen God-given hope in the eyes of a child as he extends his arms to me from a rubber raft.

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Boat rescue (heading for the little one in back)

I’ve seen angels of mercy safely reuniting families assumed lost in the capsizing of a boat. I’ve seen the spirit of peace descend on people from traditionally warring factions as they have helped each other escape the perilous sea or joined in an impromptu game of soccer. I’ve heard the grateful prayers of people reaching shore and immediately praising God for His goodness. Finally, through it all, I’ve felt the love of God as I’ve wept, prayed, served, and even sang with these humble people. I have gained a true testimony that “all are alike unto God” and that He cares for each and every one of us.

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Refugees leaving the camp

CK: Do you have a particular story you would like to share about anyone you have helped?

LH: I had one tender experience at the port in Mitilini, where other volunteers and I played some games and handed out lollipops and balloons to families waiting to board a ferry that would take them from Lesbos to Athens. In this group I noticed one quiet girl hanging back from the rest and I went out of my way to give her attention and make her smile. After an hour or so, she and her father walked away. I presumed it was to board the ferry.

Later on that evening, however, I was surprised to see her again elsewhere, sitting in the grimy corner of a rundown shop with her father and two other men. They were covered in dust and I realized that while they’d made it this far from their bombed out home in Syria, they had no money for the ferry crossing. They were truly homeless. As I watched, feeling distraught, this young girl looked up, saw me, and ran up, giving me an enormous hug around my waist. I had already given my money away, so I had nothing much to offer besides more lollipops. I gave her all I had. Then her father took our picture and I reluctantly left to find my group.

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As I turned away, I remember my heart feeling especially heavy. I thought, “How is this young girl to have any chance in such a tumultuous world?” I still ponder that question. But I also I think of her big smile when I pulled out those brightly colored lollipops for her in front of that dirty, broken down shop. It is then that I remember that she is a daughter of a Heavenly Father who loves her very, very much and feel grateful that I could help share some of that love with her, if only for a few small moments.

To be honest, I have done very few things in Greece that someone else couldn’t have easily stepped in and done in my place. But, I’m glad that I could do them. For as a member of this church I truly believe that we are all children of God, of infinite worth because of the atonement of Jesus Christ, and thus bearers of both the responsibility and the privilege of helping each other in whatever way we can.

 

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The single light we were allowed to use to attract boats safely to shore at night.

 

 

A Story of Thanksgiving: Part 4

By Camille Kerr

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

The Oryangs

1994 ended up a very busy and life changing year for the Oryangs. Christine was baptized in April, David proposed to her in June, they got married in September and just a week or so after their wedding David was called to be the Branch President.

Of that time as Branch President David said, “That was a choice experience to minister to many many individuals in the community who had many needs and seek for inspiration to know what to do. I don’t think I’ve felt that much in tune with the spirit ever since, being branch president in that branch.”

He explained that in that small branch there were only three priesthood brethren to minister to about one hundred single sister families with their children. David said, “And so you have to give blessings and you have go visit and help take care of issues.”

David explained the result of all of that work: “It was a choice time to be able to counsel with them, pray with them, cry with them, and just help them to progress in their lives spiritually and temporally.”

The Oryangs were also feeling the spiritual and temporal blessings of their service. At the time David was busy working at Tuskeegee University in the Veterinary School writing proposals to get grant research funding in the field of computational epidemiology. He was trained as an engineer, but found a home computationally modeling epidemiologic systems, modeling the dynamics of disease in populations of animals, people, cells, and plants.

He says, “I know that my mind was quickened and my abilities were improved because I knew I had to go and perform all the church work so I had to be efficient. Many times I’d just get on my knees and ask Heavenly Father to help me with this work related issue. Sometimes I’d stay at work all night just to fix problems so that I could have all weekend to do church things. And that was going on all the time. I know that many times I just received enlightenment to help me think of ways to fix things that otherwise wouldn’t have come. All I can say is that all the blessings that I received temporally are a direct result of consecrating my life to the gospel.”

He and his team developed a model of the cardiovascular system of a dog which could be used as a simulator for the vet students to practice on before doing actual work on a real dog. This model ended up saving the lives of many dogs and cats. David says, “It was a great success. I know that it was all because of prayer and asking the Lord for help in that specific job.” His success led him to a promotion and eventually to a new job at the USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service as a Risk Analyst. This brought the Oryang family to the Washington, D.C. area.

They lived in Maryland, in the Silver Spring Stake, the White Oak Ward, from July 2001 until November 2003 where David served as counselor in the young men presidency, counselor in the bishopric, stake young men president, and a member of the stake high council. He also served as Bishop of the White Oak Ward from June 2003 till March 2004.

In November 2003 they moved to Southbridge in Dumfries and became members of the Quantico Ward in the Woodbridge Virginia Stake. He continued serving as Bishop of the White Oak Ward in Maryland even after their move, until March of 2004. In the Woodbridge Stake, President Oryang has served as primary teacher, 2nd counselor in the stake Young Men presidency, 2nd counselor in the Quantico Ward bishopric, member of the stake high council, and he has been serving as the 2nd Counselor in the Stake Presidency in Woodbridge Stake since June 2009.

Their experiences have led them to be able to share a strong witness of the truths they have come to know in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

President Oryang says, “I’m just so thankful that I joined this church and was able to exercise my faith through being challenged in so many ways, just being made a branch president when I really knew almost nothing, and all these different callings, that I’ve been pressed into. It’s just remarkable. I always have asked, ‘Why me? I’m not worthy to do that. There are so many other people who know so much more than me. Why should I be selected for this?’ Every once in awhile I receive a revelation even before I receive a calling that I’m going to receive it and that has further converted me to know that the Lord is mindful of all of us and knows what he wants for his people and for us individuals. This gospel is true and there is nothing else that can help us more than truly turning ourselves over to the Savior and His will so that we can become what he would have us be, and qualify to have all that the Father has.”

Christine adds her thoughts and testimony, “I know that God is real and that He loves me deeply. I know that He sacrificed His only begotten son to accomplish the atonement for each of us individually so that we can have joy and peace in this life and eternal life to come. I know that Joseph Smith was called to be the prophet of the restoration and I am thankful for the teachings of restored gospel, I deeply treasure the insights of eternal progression and personal revelation and agency. Because God loves us He gave us instruction in scripture (the Bible and the Book of Mormon) on the ways we should conduct ourselves in order to live with Him once more. I know there is a prophet on the earth today. I know that we are all ambassadors of Christ if we chose to be. I love and believe in my Father in Heaven and in His son Jesus Christ who is my personal savior and redeemer.”