Keep in good repair and beautify your homes, your yards. . . . Repair the fences. Clean up and paint where needed. Keep your lawns and your gardens well-groomed. Whatever your circumstance, let your premises reflect orderliness, beauty and happiness. Plan well and carry out your plan in an orderly and systematic manner. - President Spencer W. Kimball, April 1976 general conference
These words, spoken by President Kimball more than two decades ago, reflect the industry and vision of Latter-day Saints throughout the history of the restored Church. Such was apparent in the building up of Kirtland and Nauvoo and continued as the Mormon pioneers made the desert "blossom as the rose" in the Great Basin. (Please see Isa. 35:1.)
One of the most persistent of pioneer symbols was the beehive, according to Church History, Selections from the Encyclopedia of Mormonism, edited by Daniel H. Ludlow. The meaning of the beehive was explained in the Oct. 11, 1881, issue of the Deseret News: "The hive and honey bees form our communal coat of arms. . . . it is a significant representation of the industry, harmony, order and frugality of the people, and of the sweet results of their toil, union and intelligent cooperation."
From almost the moment the first settlers arrived in the valley, crops were planted, cabins were built and ditches were dug and lined with trees. According to Selections, by the time the railroad was finished in 1869, modern homes were replacing log and adobe homes, fences were built and well-groomed, and trees lined streets and lanes.
Members of the Church today are no less committed to beauty, order and harmony. Last year, Latter-day Saints throughout the world commemorated the sesquicentennial of the Mormon pioneers entering the Salt Lake Valley, but they continue to look to the future. The words of Elder L. Tom Perry of the Quorum of the Twelve during the April 1980 general conference well apply:
"Let us rejoice and appreciate the accomplishments of the past. Let us learn to work together to make our homes places of love and beauty, our communities clean and wholesome, our nation fit for the blessings of the Lord. . . ."
To members of the Church, orderliness, beauty and happiness in homes that President Kimball spoke of 20 years ago includes a variety of ways - from planting gardens to keeping homes clean, from beautifying with art and woodwork to spending time together, thereby finding happiness.
Such order and beauty make one's home more conducive to the Spirit of God and bring harmony to one's environment - thus, bringing happiness into one's life. On pages 8-9, five members share experiences in living such principles.
RANCHO BERNARDO, CALIF. - For some 20 years, Dennis L. and Kathryn Humberstone have involved their children in family gardening - and hoped they were gaining insight into the importance of preparation and orderliness.
Bishop Humberstone of the Rancho Bernardo 1st Ward, Poway California Stake, told the Church News that in the early years, they attempted normal soil gardening. But their yard, which is on a hill and has a retaining wall in the back, was not conducive to regular soil. Thus, the family began using a sterile soil mixture and tier gardening. He added that the mixture of the soil has to be precise or no plant growth occurs. He said this has taught the family exactness in work.
Bishop Humberstone explained that through the years, their children, ranging from 17 to 25 years old, have learned other valuable lessons from the work, such as the law of the harvest.
"On occasion, they have planted their own sections, and they were excited to see the progress of their plants," he said, adding that through this, they learned "you reap what you sow."
"If you plant peas, you get peas." he noted.
MEDICINE HAT, ALBERTA - Rod and Donna Gustafson of the Medicine Hat (Alberta) 2nd Ward realize a home with four children will never be as reverent as a temple - nor as clean. But they strive to teach their children cleanliness and orderliness.
They want their children to understand how this affects the environment of their home.
"We strive for our kids to take ownership of the messes they make, which is difficult," Brother Gustafson said, speaking of his children from 2 to 10 years old. "Saturday is chore time, and they have a list of weekly jobs, like making beds and making sure laundry is down the laundry chute. During the week, they are required to make their rooms neat and orderly before they come down to breakfast."
He added: "You can't fall into the trap of doing the work faster yourself. It's true, I can clean faster, but it's important that children have a responsibility, especially for their own areas."
SALT LAKE CITY, UTAH - Neil Schmitt is happiest with a saw in his hand and wood shavings at his feet.
For Brother Schmitt of the Salt Lake Little Cottonwood 14th Ward, creating beauty in his home using wood gives him a sense of accomplishment. His home is a testament to that love of wood work. In fact, he is currently renovating his home on his own. "I just like the natural look of wood. Wherever possible I try to use wood I can stain and bring out its natural beauty as opposed to painting it."
His wife, Connie, among others, appreciates his talents. "It's neat to say, `This is what I want,' and he'll go out and make it."
She added that he also enjoys doing projects for others, such as cutting out pieces of wood for his daughters and others to use for crafts. In addition, in the past he has been known to use three different kinds of wood to create a replica of the Young Women torch, which he has given to young women upon graduating from the organization.
AFTON, WYO. - Dianne Nevius of the Afton (Wyo.) 1st Ward doesn't remember the first time she picked up a paint brush. She just knows she has loved painting and doing crafts all her life.
And her home decor is symbolic of her gift, which she says is from her Heavenly Father.
The mother of two has an art degree from Ricks College in Rexburg, Idaho, and has continued taking art classes since. She credits her parents for encouragement by entering her in local art contests when she was younger.
"Art work is something that is so personal and so beautiful," Sister Nevius explained. "I think the art work you choose for your home can be uplifting and inspiring. This way, family members are encouraged to want more out of life - to want beauty."
But she is quick to explain that you don't have to be a trained artist to have beauty in your home. "You can enjoy your children's art work, your grandchildren's. Maybe all of us can't paint something beautiful. But we can do a flower arrangement or put some beautiful plants in our homes."
NEW YORK, N.Y. - It is not uncommon in the John and Reva Corrigan home of the Manhattan (N.Y.) 6th Branch to find two small children snuggling with their parents in the morning and reading stories.
Sister Corrigan loves these moments. "It's unrushed and relaxed," she noted. She added that spending time together as a family is one of life's greatest joys and brings great happiness. She said having time alone together helps them "appreciate each other and get to know each other better, without worrying about rushing off somewhere else."
Among favorite family traditions, she related, are taking long walks up and down Manhattan and acting out scripture stories from children's scripture books. "The kids are learning the stories, and we're enjoying time together as a family. The children sense that this is important."