Sunday, May 31, 2009

Discusion 2: Discerning of Spirits

Well, let's try this again. Last week's lesson ended up being a little bit boring. Thank you to those of you who threw some insight in there! I think this next one has a bit more potential...

A couple of weeks ago in Relief Society, we had lesson #33 from the Joseph Smith manual about gifts of the spirit.

At the end of the lesson, the teacher put considerable emphasis on the gift discerning of spirits, and the lesson talked about how many will not be able to discern messages from evil spirits as being evil and instead will think that they are in fact the Holy Ghost. As usual, my mind seemed to wonder if there are those around us in our ward and family that feel we are being lead astray by these evil spirits.

Here is the portion of the lesson on the subject:

The gift of discerning of spirits allows the faithful to distinguish between the influence of good and evil spirits.

In the early days of the restored Church, members of the Church, as well as members of other religious groups, sometimes acted upon influences from evil or false spirits, believing they were under the influence of the Holy Ghost. The Prophet Joseph Smith taught: “Recent occurrences that have transpired amongst us render it an imperative duty devolving upon me to say something in relation to the spirits by which men are actuated.

“It is evident from the Apostles’ writings [in the New Testament], that many false spirits existed in their day, and had ‘gone forth into the world,’ and that it needed intelligence which God alone could impart to detect false spirits, and to prove what spirits were of God [see 1 John 4:1–4]. The world in general have been grossly ignorant in regard to this one thing, and why should they be otherwise—‘for no man knows the things of God, but by the Spirit of God.’ [See 1 Corinthians 2:11.] …

“There always did, in every age, seem to be a lack of intelligence pertaining to this subject. Spirits of all kinds have been manifested, in every age, and almost amongst all people. … All have their spirits, all have a supernatural agency, and all contend that their spirits are of God. Who shall solve the mystery? ‘Try the spirits,’ says John [1 John 4:1], but who is to do it? The learned, the eloquent, the philosopher, the sage, the divine—all are ignorant. … Who can drag into daylight and develop the hidden mysteries of the false spirits that so frequently are made manifest among the Latter-day Saints? We answer that no man can do this without the Priesthood, and having a knowledge of the laws by which spirits are governed; for as ‘no man knows the things of God, but by the Spirit of God,’ so no man knows the spirit of the devil, and his power and influence, but by possessing intelligence which is more than human, and having unfolded through the medium of the Priesthood the mysterious operations of his devices. …

“A man must have the discerning of spirits before he can drag into daylight this hellish influence and unfold it unto the world in all its soul-destroying, diabolical, and horrid colors; for nothing is a greater injury to the children of men than to be under the influence of a false spirit when they think they have the Spirit of God. Thousands have felt the influence of its terrible power and baneful effects. …

“As we have noticed before, the great difficulty lies in the ignorance of the nature of spirits, of the laws by which they are governed, and the signs by which they may be known; if it requires the Spirit of God to know the things of God; and the spirit of the devil can only be unmasked through that medium, then it follows as a natural consequence that unless some person or persons have a communication, or revelation from God, unfolding to them the operation of the spirit, they must eternally remain ignorant of these principles; for I contend that if one man cannot understand these things but by the Spirit of God, ten thousand men cannot; it is alike out of the reach of the wisdom of the learned, the tongue of the eloquent, the power of the mighty. And we shall at last have to come to this conclusion, whatever we may think of revelation, that without it we can neither know nor understand anything of God, or the devil; and however unwilling the world may be to acknowledge this principle, it is evident from the multifarious creeds and notions concerning this matter that they understand nothing of this principle, and it is equally as plain that without a divine communication they must remain in ignorance. …

“A man must have the discerning of spirits, as we before stated, to understand these things, and how is he to obtain this gift if there are no gifts of the Spirit? And how can these gifts be obtained without revelation? ‘Christ ascended into heaven, and gave gifts to men; and He gave some Apostles, and some Prophets, and some Evangelists, and some Pastors and Teachers’ [see Ephesians 4:8, 11]. And how were Apostles, Prophets, Pastors, Teachers and Evangelists chosen? By prophecy (revelation) and by laying on of hands:—by a divine communication, and a divinely appointed ordinance—through the medium of the Priesthood, organized according to the order of God, by divine appointment. The Apostles in ancient times held the keys of this Priesthood—of the mysteries of the kingdom of God, and consequently were enabled to unlock and unravel all things pertaining to the government of the Church, the welfare of society, the future destiny of men, and the agency, power and influence of spirits; for they could control them at pleasure, bid them depart in the name of Jesus, and detect their mischievous and mysterious operations when trying to palm themselves upon the Church in a religious garb, and militate against the interest of the Church and spread of truth. …

“… Our Savior, the Apostles, and even the members of the Church were endowed with this gift, for, says Paul, ‘To one is given the gift of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues, to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another the discerning of spirits.’ [See 1 Corinthians 12:10.] All these proceeded from the same Spirit of God, and were the gifts of God. … No man nor set of men without the regularly constituted authorities, the Priesthood and discerning of spirits, can tell true from false spirits.”

“Lying spirits are going forth in the earth. There will be great manifestations of spirits, both false and true. … Every spirit, or vision, or singing, is not of God. … The gift of discerning spirits will be given to the Presiding Elder. Pray for him that he may have this gift.”

What do you think about this quote? How can we truly recognize when a prompting is from God and when it is not? How can we make sure that we are not being lead astray?

Again, I would love to see a discussion on this in our virtual MoHo ward!

Monday, May 25, 2009

Discusion 1: Unified in a plan

As you know, we have been discussing how fun it would be to have a MoHo ward, and wondering if we could do so virtually. Also, we have discussed having some sort of Family Home Evening type of gathering in our home once a month or so.

I'm afraid we have been too busy working in our yard and (for me) wrapping up the school year, so we have not made any definite plans yet for the latter.

However, it occurred to me the other day that we often discuss gospel topics through commenting on each others' blogs. I have a couple of gospel topics that I have wanted to present to this community for comment, and so I am going to start with those and we can get a virtual Sunday School class started right here!

So don't be shy! Give your first impression, or ponder it first and then post later, or think about it and keep your thoughts to yourself. But like a regular Sunday School class, I hope we can all benefit from each others' thoughts and experiences.

I would like to start with a quote from George Q. Cannon.

Several months ago in Sunday School (I believe it was in October or November, right around the time of the election, and we were studying the Book of Mormon)--I don't even remember what we were discussing--someone summarized the quote I am about to share with you. I asked him more about the quote right after class, and the following week he brought a copy of the quote for me to have.

Here it is. What do you think? What comes to your mind? How does this quote apply to your own ward or stake or the church in general?

"It is better to carry out a plan that is not so wise, if you are united on it. Speaking generally, a plan or a policy that may be inferior in some respects is more effective if men are united upon it than a better plan would be upon which they were divided...When they carry that counsel out unitedly...God will supplement [their] weakness by His strength." (Gospel Truth, pp. 207-8.)
I personally, of course, thought of the church's involvement in Proposition 8 in CA, and the division that it has caused amongst the members of the church. Please enlighten me with your own thoughts!

(Speaking of Proposition 8, tomorrow is the big day, isn't it? I wonder what will happen. Whatever decision is made, it will be huge either way, and will lead to greater efforts by gay rights activists, don't you think? Somehow I believe that gay marriage will not be illegal forever in CA, regardless of what happens right now.

I do believe that God has a hand in it, and I pray that a decision will be made according to his will at this time, whatever it may be.)

Okay, sorry for the tangent (I am a math teacher after all, and tangents come naturally :) ... but what do you think of the quote?

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

14 years ago today...

...Scott arrived home from his mission.

But who's counting?

I have been walking down memory lane the last few months, perusing a plastic canvas box (that I stitched myself) which contains all of Scott's letters, tapes, and cards to me from his mission, a 16-year-old ring-pop "promise" ring (still in the original wrapper, although slightly melted), other small miscellaneous memories from Scott, and about 50 strips of construction paper in all of the colors of the rainbow...

A couple of months before his release date, I decided I wanted something special to count down the days until his arrival. I decided to make a construction paper chain (like the one you might make to count down to Christmas), but this one included all colors, strung in rainbow order, and on each link I wrote something that reminded me of him. As I tore off a link each day, I would read what I wrote, savor the memories, and tape it to my closet door where I could read it over and over. At the top of the door was a sign that read, "I love Scott because..."

Remember, these are all from a pathetic 21-year-old college student. Really cheesy, to say the least, but mostly sweet and fond memories. It is interesting to read through them and realize how our relationship has changed over the 14 years. But what I find particularly interesting is that some of them seem to contain OGTs (or Obviously Gay traits). Where is that pink notebook...?

  1. He blushes when teased about me.
  2. He is a good cook (like making chocolate chip cookies!)
  3. He always sees the best in things--has a positive outlook.
  4. He is wonderful with kids (like his younger siblings and my nieces and nephews)
  5. He cares about keeping me warm and safe (like at early morning choir rehearsals in the football stadium).
  6. He buys me popcorn even though it is not his favorite (2nd date--movie "Robin Hood")
  7. He is extremely musically talented.
  8. He waited for me from 3 to 11 p.m. (while I was on a date with someone else) before opening his mission call so that I could be on the phone with him when he did. (His parents were pretty frustrated, I think.)
  9. He keeps me from stressing out while driving through snowflakes. ("...imagine flying through stars, like in star wars...")
  10. He gives me support from 2,000 miles away.
  11. He brings out the best in me.
  12. He spent lots of time helping me with my sterling scholar portfolio.
  13. He is always happy! :)
  14. He even cares when my contacts are bugging me.
  15. He brings me flowers when I am sad.
  16. He brings me flowers when I am successful.
  17. He listens to me babble.
  18. He spends money on me (like taking me to Les Miserables)
  19. He knows when it is time to tease and when it's not.
  20. He even loves me when I am weird.
  21. He's good looking (big beautiful blue eyes!)
  22. He makes me laugh ("You know, you can say it backwards, which is docious ali expi istic fragi calli rupus, but that's going a bit too far, don't you think?")
  23. He can keep me from stressing out when no one else can.
  24. He loves me.
  25. He believes in me.
  26. He isn't intimidated by smart girls.
  27. He is a good example.
  28. He wants me to date other people.
  29. He loves Christ more than me.
  30. He's been good at writing to me.
  31. He honors his priesthood.
  32. He wants me to be happy above all else.
  33. He loves missionary work.
  34. We are always on the same wavelength.
  35. He can see the best in my parents and family.
  36. He is Christlike.
  37. He encourages me to try out for things, even though I am scared or think I won't make it.
  38. He taught me to like Chinese food.
  39. He is intelligent.
  40. He stays up late typing camp songs for me.
  41. He likes to hike (even in the rain!)
  42. I can talk to him about anything.
  43. He thinks I have a pretty voice. (even make me sing a duet with our choir teacher at his farewell--how intimidating!)
  44. He is my best friend.
  45. He goes to dances with me even when he is sick.
  46. He always knows what to say to make me feel good ("You are both pretty and intelligent.")
  47. He doesn't judge others.
  48. He likes to cuddle.
  49. He likes cats.
  50. He likes to sit by the piano and sing with me.
  51. He likes to knit and crochet.
  52. His family has accepted me.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Misery loves company

Last week my daughter was telling me about how one girl told her that another girl didn't like her because she is too bossy. She was mad at this girl for talking badly about her. I found myself sounding like my mother (not sure if that is bad or good...) as I tried to comfort her. I explained to her that she should try not to worry about it, forgive the girl (realizing that junior high is a difficult age and often filled with this exact type of drama) and maybe use the information to evaluate her own actions and determine if the other girl's complaint was warranted. Has she ever done anything that this girl would perceive as bossiness without realizing it? And besides, is telling me this stuff about the other girl any better than said girl talking about my daughter in the first place? I reminded her to think about WWJD (What would Jesus do?) when she reacts to things like this. Then I started to sing, "I'm trying to be like Jesus" (because I have a habit of breaking into song when anything reminds me of a song.)

I really thought that my words were kind. I tried to empathize with her, sharing similar frustrating experiences from my own 7th grade year, and then adding some advice for how to make it more bearable.

Right after I started to sing, I heard my daughter make a weird growl and literally stomp her feet. Then she preceded to tell me (or yell at me, rather) about how she hates it when I try to make her feel better, especially when doing so causes me to burst into song. (She will be a teenager in less than a month, after all. It is at this age that my dad always said he would prefer that the child act their shoe size as opposed to their age. :)

Anyway. I stopped singing and stopped saying anything. We were walking together to pick up the youngest child from daycare, and we continued the last stretch in silence.

During the silence, I thought about what she had said. She didn't want me to try to make her feel better; she wanted me to be mad at this other girl with her.

Then I realized that I frequently do that on my blog. I often use it to vent about something that has upset me, and it always makes me feel better when the comments tell me I reacted the right way or that I had a right to be angry.

But when someone tries to put things in perspective for me, tries to help me feel better by analyzing what I could have done/could do differently to make life easier for everyone involved, I clam up and disable comments on my blog, because I don't want to read the comforting advice.

At times like this I must be chaneling some inner teenage Sarah that has never grown up. Why else would I so enjoy living high school over and over and over as a teacher? :)

Hm, thoughts to ponder.

Anyway, I guess a quote from my brother's wife's father (a navy man) is appropriate for me (and my daughter) sometimes . . . "A bitchin' Sailor is a happy Sailor." The problem is, no one else enjoys being around such a Sailor.

You know how parents sometimes say, "I hope you get a child just like you so that someday you will understand what you put me through." I think maybe I am beginning to understand. My poor parents. Poor Scott. Poor Hidden. (At least Hidden is not afraid to tell me when I need to shape up.)


Sunday, May 10, 2009

Reflection on Mothers

Yesterday as I was sitting in Relief Society, I reflected on how I am grateful for the mothers in my life for different reasons this year than in past years.

I have always been grateful to Scott's mother for whatever part she played in making him such an incredible person. But now my gratitude goes much deeper. I am grateful that I have felt her attending me in spirit over the last few months (she passed away when he was 13, and I have never met her in person, at least not in this life). I attribute at least some of my strength and acceptance last summer to her, to feeling her presence with me, and to feeling truly how much she loves and accepts Scott for who he is.

I am grateful for Scott's step-mom, for her acceptance of our situation as well, for her willingness to ask me about it and listen to me without seeming uncomfortable or judgmental; for reading No More Goodbyes immediately at our recommendation, for telling me she was proud of me when I told her about the anonymous letters I sent, for letting me know that she was praying for me and putting my name on the temple roll, for sharing what Scott and I are doing with her own friends. I am also grateful to her for raising children who are not blind to true love and tolerance, who have been incredibly supportive of Scott when his biological siblings haven't.

I am grateful to my mom, for teaching me that sometimes the leaders of the church make decisions based on "desperation rather than inspiration." But I am also grateful that regardless of how much I heard her complain about this or that regarding church policies, both general and local, I still saw her example of faithful church attendance and service, and I felt frequently of her spirit and testimony. I believe that without this background in my life, I either would be having a much harder time staying in the church right now, or I would be less flexible and less supportive of Scott and gay rights in general.

I am also grateful for the opportunity God has given me to be a mother and also a mother-figure in the lives of others. When I took a full time job teaching in a high school, I struggled at first with making that decision. I had an infant and a toddler at home and had always planned to be a stay-at-home mom. But early in our marriage with 2 young kids, Scott lost his job and was trying to start a business; we had no money, we were both home getting on each other's nerves, and so I took a leap and applied for a job. I actually applied to be a substitute, assuming that August was too late to find a teaching job for the year. Within a few days, a local high school called, saying they had just had a math teacher quit, and they were scrambling to fill the position before the school year started--would I PLEASE come interview. They wanted me full time, and I tentatively accepted, but was stressed at doing so. Within a couple of days, Scott and I attended the temple, and I had a strong thought come to my mind, "Your children will be fine, but someone else's children need you." I had never before or since been so sure of a message directly from my Heavenly Father.

I shared that experience with an LDS parent of one of my students a couple of years later, and she cried and said, "My daughter needs you." I shared that experience again with a lady a couple of weeks ago, a lady who was one of the administrators who hired me, that has since been a principal at another high school and is now retired and helping to mentor teachers in her spare time. (She has been coming once a week to help me remember and learn some techniques to keep my hellish algebra I classes under control.) She also felt the spirit of my experience 11 years ago as she and I reminisced of the circumstances at that time.

Yesterday in Relief Society I shared the experience with the sisters in my ward.

The lesson was given by my "favorite" teacher (or rather, the one whose lessons I am afraid to attend) and it was the same lesson that Abelard had the opportunity of listening to during Priesthood yesterday: "Responding to Persecution with Faith and Courage" (lesson 32). My experience, fortunately, was nothing like his.

The teacher began her lesson with this thought: “At first I thought this was not a good lesson for Mother’s day because it seems so depressing, but then I realized it is actually very appropriate as I thought about how the role of mothers and of women is being attacked by the adversary and the views of the world."

She enjoyed emphasizing this quote from the lesson: "All Saints! Profit by this important key--that in all your trials, troubles, temptations, bonds, temptations, afflictions, bond, imprisonments and death, see to it, that you do not betray heaven; that you do not betray the revelations of God, whether in the Bible, Book of Mormon, or Doctrine and Covenants, or any other that ever was or ever will be given and revealed unto man in this world of that which is to come. Yea, in all your kicking and floundering, see to it that you do not this thing, lest innocent blood be found upon your skirts, and you go down to hell."

I have this problem that I always read into what she says, even if she does not specifically mention people like me supporting gay marriage. :( And I sit there uncomfortably staring at my hands in my lap.

Anyway, another thing she began to focus on in the lesson was about how more and more women are finding it necessary to work outside the home. "How sad that is for them, because I know they would choose to be home if they could. But if they attend the temple and do what is right, Heavenly Father promises to bless their children."

At this point I raised my hand to agree, that God has indeed blessed us and our children as I have followed a path of working outside the home. But I hope that I also got the subtle message across that it is not always a sad situation, that sometimes God needs us somewhere other than home.

This is another issue that goes back to a quote from Joseph Smith/Elder Oaks early in the history of my blog, something to the affect of “We teach general principals and let the individuals govern themselves.” People assume that because the leaders of the church say it is best for children to be raised by a stay-at-home mom (which I do not disagree with—I am grateful that my mom was home with me and I believe that is often the case. I see first hand as a teacher the results of children that are neglected by their parents) that it is undeniably the best thing for everyone.

I, however, don't think it is the best thing for my children. I guess it might be if their mother were someone other than me, but there is a reason that I teach high school and not elementary. At the time I took the teaching job, I was literally going crazy dealing with little kids. Don't get me wrong, I love my kids, but I am not as patient as they deserve me to be. I am painfully reminded of this fact every summer when we are home together for 3 months and I pretend to be a stay-at-home mom. Let's just say that in August we are all very glad to be going back to school!

At one point Scott met with a member of the stake presidency (7 or 8 years ago) as they were interviewing men in our ward to assist them in calling a new EQ president. He was somewhat chastised for working from home (at the time) and tending the children while allowing me to work outside the home.

Why? Why are we criticized for doing what we feel is right for us, regardless of whether it is the "church" norm or not.

So, as I was saying, I raised my hand in Relief Society and shared my personal experience in the temple, and how I have seen that impression come to pass over the past 11 years I have been teaching. I mentioned how every situation is different and what is right for one person may not be right for someone else.

Later another lady thanked me for sharing my experience. She is a nurse and said she always felt guilty leaving her family to care for the family of others.

A few years ago, I would have sat there quietly and felt guilty. This time I decided to be vocal about how we each need to follow our own paths and do what is best for us and our families.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Family Home Evening

Suppose we were to have some sort of "Family Home Evening" on, perhaps, the second Saturday of the month, would any of you be interesting in attending, and if so, how would you like it to work? How soon should we start? Would Saturday be best, or would another night be better? Could we include our children, or would we want it to be something with a more mature atmosphere? Should it be...

  • A speaker or presentation, like at the Matis firesides?
  • A traditional FHE lesson, where different people might be assigned different items on the agenda, like song, scripture, prayer, lesson, activity, and treat?
  • A topic to be discussed and researched in the scriptures together?
  • Any other ideas?
It has been suggested to us that this might be a good next step in what we are doing. We already have our parties, which have been very successful in helping our friends feel comfortable being accepted for who they are in our home, surrounded by friends, food and fun. We have learned so much from all of you that have come and we love having you here!

So what about a night for those who have a testimony of the gospel of Jesus Christ and still yearn for spiritual enlightenment, and yet have maybe become uncomfortable attending church meetings, or no longer feel the spirit at church meetings because they sit there in fear of what might be said that will make them uncomfortable.

We would like to provide the same comfortable atmosphere that you have come to expect in our home, and therefore anyone is welcome to come without fear of judgement or intolerance.

I am not suggesting this as a substitute for my own church attendance. I am getting more and more comfortable (and determined!) with continuing to attend, and I know that I need that spiritual stability in my life. But I also love reading/hearing your testimonies, and I feel like I could be so enlightened by all of you! I know you have so many experiences, so much insight to offer. I guess this idea kind of stems from the thought of what it would be like to have a MoHo ward. Why not try our own "Sunday School" once a month and see how it goes?

We value your input! Oh, and for those who can't be here in person, maybe we could do some kind of webcam or skype thing, or at the very least, post a transcription of what was said and discussed, maybe on a new blog by invitation only? I don't know, I am brainstorming here. Help!

Sunday, May 3, 2009


Today the lesson in Relief Society was on Truth and Integrity.

A lot of my thoughts in this post are things I have blogged about before, but today's lesson brought some of my past thoughts about truth and melded them together with the idea of integrity.

Integrity is the quality or condition of being whole, complete, unbroken, and undivided. The word integrity is related to other words with the same root such as entire and integrate. These expressions share the notion of being intact, sound, uncorrupted, and perfect. (Elder Bednar, New Era, October 2005)

My changed view on gay marriage has divided or broken my soul between what I feel in my heart and what the leaders and "righteous" members of the church are saying. My spiritual integrity has been broken.

I have therefore sought to know the truth in the hopes of finding peace. The first time I finally felt some sort of peace on the issue was last October when I was particularly struggling (prior to the election) and words from my patriarchal blessing came distinctly to my mind, "You have been blessed with the ability to believe and accept truth." Clarity came to my mind and heart. If I have the "gift" of accepting truth, and my heart won't let me accept a ban on gay marriage, then I felt like God was telling me directly that gay marriage could possibly, someday, be a true principal.

The 9th Article of Faith says that we believe God continues to reveal truths to us. Those truths come when the time is right. Sometimes we have to have patience for years to hold out for those truths we feel in our hearts to be revealed through leaders of the church (like blacks and the priesthood, for example.) Many argue against gay marriage with the proclamation on the family (including my sister during this past week):

"Marriage between a man and a woman is ordained of God."

My sister has been amazing through all of this. She patiently listens and takes it all in. We share with each other our day-to-day struggles and triumphs, and most of mine seem to be gay-related, and she has not seemed uncomfortable at all with me sharing them with her, usually listening without comment. But this week as I told her of the some of the plans we have in the works to help gay Mormons (or ex-Mormons) on more of a spiritual level, something I said helped her realize that I not only agree with gay marriage as an equal right, I actually embrace the idea that God might not disapprove of it. So she then interjected a "but" with the above quote. I'm not sure what she thought of my subsequent interpretation.

Most Mormons (myself included, a year or more ago) feel that there is no way there could ever be an additional revelation to the proclamation that "marriage between two people of the same gender is also ordained of God," but I think it is possible, since the word "only" does not appear in the above quote. I shared this thought with my sister, that the proclamation is open to interpretation in this way and that the Lord continues to reveal truths, so who are we to say that it is impossible?

Anyway, back to integrity. Part of today's lesson about integrity is that it also means being true to ones self, being true to what we each know individually is true and right.

For me, then, if I am to be a woman of integrity right now, true to myself and what I feel in my heart is right, then I must stay on this path, speaking out in favor of gay marriage, in favor of love and tolerance and Christ-like acceptance of all of God's children.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Help Wanted

Wanted: energetic and/or willing friends to help finish landscaping our yard, which includes moving some dirt around, building a deck and patio, perhaps laying a bit of sprinkler pipe and a minimal amount of sod, among other things.

Education required: none. On the job training will be provided if needed.

Terms of payment: a standing invitation to awesome parties once a month, including the use of wonderful deck and patio facilities throughout the remaining spring, summer and fall months (and in years to come), fabulous food, excellent entertainment, company of good friends, lots of smiles and heartfelt thank-yous, and unlimited lifetime hugs.

Time: almost any evening, or anytime on Saturdays when the weather cooperates, between now and May 30th, 2009.

Interested parties should show up with work gloves and grubby clothes. Some advance notice of arrival would be appreciated. Meals, beverages and entertainment will be provided as needed.