Friday, December 29, 2023

Confessions of a Primary Music Leader: Giving Machine Meets Primary Singing Time

Guess what's awesome? Back in November, I (Lani) got a new calling as the Primary Music Leader at church! I knew that my calling as Stake Relief Society President was coming to an end soon, and the week that I was getting released, I was asked to sub for the primary music leader. I gladly accepted. The Friday before church, I was outside when I was hit with a spiritual message in my mind- "You're going to be the next Primary Music Leader!" With that message came a surge of excitement and happiness. Then I felt a little bad because I knew then that Steve wouldn't be able to call me into the Sunday School like he was considering. I felt bad for Steve because he seems to often have to find new teachers and it's a tough thing to do. 

Anyway, the following Sunday I was indeed called to the position. I accepted my new calling and got to work immediately. I have pondered the purposes of primary and music. I have tried to use the spirit to guide my leadership. I have felt led. One of the first things I felt led to do was a service project during singing time. It all came together in my mind, I submitted the idea to our primary president, she got bishop approval, and we pulled off a really cool giving machine for the kids to create kits for refugees. 
my reference photo
The project mid-way through

Amara hiding behind the finished project.  She helped make it!

Set up in the primary room
Wide angle
Amara made pockets to catch the paper hearts that the kids would be inserting into the machines when they sang with all their hearts
Back view.

Other Giving Machines...

I felt to share this idea on Facebook.  This is what I posted:

For the next few weeks, as the children sing with all their hearts, they’ll earn paper hearts they can put into the giving machine that day. Then they may select a card with a picture of a hygiene item or a winter item to place in the container to donate. The primary president will purchase the actual items, and the week before Christmas, the children will each assemble their own hygiene kit or winter kit for donation to the refugees! I’m excited for the kids to focus on Christ and giving as they “Give as He Gave.” #LightTheWorld

We purchased enough items for every child to make one kit each in a few weeks. We’re not keeping track necessarily of how many of each item the children choose. It would just be too much to organize for us. The giving machines are just a fun way to let the kids be involved and take ownership in the giving. It also keeps the spirit of giving going for the next few weeks. 

The lists for the Hygiene kits and winter kits are on the website for Lifting hands International. There’s links to it on 


 • 1 Winter hat/beanie

 • 1 Pair of socks

 • 1 Pair of knit gloves

 • Place items in a ziplock type bag. Please label bag to indicate whether the kit is for a man, woman, boy, or girl.


 • 1 Shampoo

 • 1 Deodorant

 • 1 Toothpaste

 • 1 Toothbrush

 • 1 Hairbrush or comb

 • 1 Bar of soap

 • 1 Washcloth

 • Place items in a 1 gallon ziplock type bag.

~ Service ideas from

~ If making a machine is too much work, you could just place pictures on your chalk board. 

~ Our giving machine was made from a large washing machine box sourced for free from the local furniture store. 

~ To maximize singing time, the box was made into 3 machines so several kids could go at the same time. We cut one side of the box down the middle and opened it up for 3 full panels.

 Something I didn't expect was how this idea would spread and inspire and affect so many other primaries. After I posted the idea, over the next few weeks I saw several other wards post their take on the idea. That means that there was a lot of other primaries that got to serve and make a difference as they sang.  I LOVE THAT!

Tuesday, December 19, 2023

Saturday, December 9, 2023

Ready to Receive Her Endowment

"Are you going on a mission or something?  Is that why you want to go through the temple?"  This was the common question Lily got asked as word spread that she would be receiving her temple endowment.  The answer to that is, although she's considering a mission, it's not the reason. She just felt it was the right time for her.  If you were to ask me as her mother if I think it's the right time, I'd boldly say YES!  Lily has always been mature in her understanding and responsible.  I'm so happy for her to be able to experience the blessings that come with temple covenants and service.
Provo, Utah temple
Lily chose to receive her endowment at the Provo temple on the weekend of Thanksgiving.  This temple won't be around much longer.  It was the first temple I ever went to.  I did proxy baptisms here the day I turned 12.  I remember as a child, looking out the window of our van and seeing this temple in the distance.  Its orange glowing spire could be seen across the valley.  I'm pretty sure it doesn't glow orange anymore, though I'm not sure.  When I was young, my dad said the shape of this temple reminds him of God's thumbtack.  When I was a youth, I was told the shape actually represented the pillar of fire by night and the cloud by day that the children of Israel were led and protected by as they wandered in the wilderness.  I think that's cool.
The morning was quite brisk and a light snow had fallen overnight. It made for such a beautiful scene.  The morning sunlight couldn't penetrate the cloud against the mountain, but it had come up and in places where the mountain or clouds weren't blocking it, the rays poured over places in Utah valley.  That glow was reflecting in the front windows of the temple as we arrived. WHAT A WELCOME!
There was limited seating available online, but those family members who could, got on and made the 9am appointment. The experience was beautiful and I've journaled about it twice.  And I still feel I didn't adequately describe my joy of this wonderful occasion.  

Lily is a VERY special and elect daughter of our Heavenly Father.  I've always considered her an angel God sent me.  I'm proud of her for the life she's choosing to live, one with God guiding and directing.  I'm thankful for the witnesses of the Holy Ghost that she has received of God's reality and love.  I relate to her in one of her spiritual gifts of understanding God's love as it is portrayed in His creations, in nature and in people.  During our time in the Celestial Room of the temple, a place which is symbolic of the presence of God, I pointed out to Lily the picture of Christ and how he's visually represented there.  Then I told her my mind asked the question "Where's Heavenly Father's picture?  Is He represented here?"  That's when the Holy Ghost brought my eyes to the crystals glistening, the colorful flowers, the golden scrolls in the decor.  I could see God's majesty and glory, and love through those things, even though they weren't necessarily symbols of Him.  After I shared that with Lily, she added, "Yes, and His children."  That was the most prominent thing in that room.  His children.  They were everywhere.  In fact the celestial room was so crowded, there was standing room only and even then we were grouped pretty heavily.  God's children, though.  What an insight!  What truth!  We are created in His image.  He endows us with His power.  We are representation of His love as we live the covenants we make, as we serve and bless.  Since then, it's been a good reminder to me to see people as children of God, and in that way, I see God in them!  Even those who publicly shame the divinity within them, God loves them and in them there is still a reminder of God, the creator of all.  And there's another reminder too- Christ paid the price for all to have the opportunity to return to God in this life or one day. There's always HOPE thanks to Christ and the perfect plan of Heavenly Father.  And thanks to temples we get to be reminded of that!

April carrying everyone's temple bags

Afterward, my dad and Deb paid for us all to go to Chuck-A-Rama!  


Amazing August! Birthday, New Driver, FSY, 20th Anniversary, Guting Reunion

Amara's 16th Birthday

Amara is a joy to have in our lives!  She's always loved to play games, and she really enjoys gaming on Roblox, Rocket League, and Star Stables. Her hard work with online driver's education earned her a driver's license shortly after she turned 16.  She never speeds because she knows she looks underage which makes her more of a target to pull over.  

Her focus for self-directed homeschool is preparing for the ACT.  She also attends several classes at Alliance Learning Center (taught by me).  She hopes to go to college in the future. She continues to dance with Miss Heather at the Cynthia Center.  Her grace is truly beautiful as she dances!   She works occasionally doing filing for a local insurance company and she recently got hired to babysit a 7-month old girl a couple times a week.  She looks forward to getting more money.  She loves to shop.

Amara got several fun little gifts and a big gift of getting the hamster she's always wanted, though she would need to pick it out herself.  She ended up getting it a few weeks later at Petco.

Grandma Bobbie got her a new comforter for her bed.

She chose to eat at McDonalds.  Her favorite things there are the cheeseburger and nuggets with sweet and sour sauce.
One of the best things that happened was that Amara's friend group secretly planned to surprise her when she got home from her Young Women's activity.  Mandi and Lily are no longer in Young Women's so they decorated the house with balloons and other cute banners.  When the rest of the girls were done at their activity, they offered to drive Amara home.  When Amara got out of the car, and turned the corner to the front door, she was stalled because the door was locked.  All the girls quickly filed through the back door and then I opened the front door for Amara.  She was greeted with a big SURPRISE!  It wasn't a very long party, but it was perfect for everyone's schedules.  We had cake and ice cream with everyone there. 

Amara's favorite cake- tres leches!

We bought a special candle that sings and rotates and opens like a flower to reveal 16 lit candles!  Worth every penny ($7)!

Her hamster is named Toffee.

Ballard Ward Relief Society Women's Campout

What a pleasure it was for me to be invited to attend the Ballard Ward's Women's Camp.  It was 3 days and 2 nights up Whiterocks Canyon. I had never camped there before, and it was beautiful.  I invited my mom along and we had a fantastic time with the sisters from Ballard.  
As we drove up, we opened the windows and the smell of pine filled our car!  It was magical.  The breeze was as fragrant music to the soul.
They had set up 2 Giant 16-man tents for those who didn't bring a camper along.  We only used 1 of the tents, and it fit 8 of us with our gear.  I think 16 people in there would be really tight and no room for gear.

The nights were FREEZING. I was so glad I brought a fleece onesie and my winter coat and an extra blanket. After the first night it was apparent to me that I should have brought a beanie and another sleeping bag.  I was so cold I couldn't sleep.  I was so blessed by another sister who had lots of extra blankets for my second night.  I was warm but got so warm I had to actually shed my coat and unzipped my sleeping bag to cool off.  I was sweating.  haha!  I slept much better on night 2, though.  
Our mid-morning service project on day 2 was tying quilts to donate.  That was a first for me.  I've never tied a quilt in the forest before!  

When we didn't have a planned activity, there was always a fire going and a circle of camp chairs to engage in some good conversation.

Our meals were always yummy and no one went hungry.  Our camp cooks did such a good job feeding us.
another quilt
We had another activity of washing one another's feet, an act of our Savior to his apostles.  We were given a small chunk of pink soap, a new washcloth, and a disposable pan with warmed water to wash one another's feet.  Then we were also given a new pair of soft socks.  I was so glad my mom was there to be my partner because it's already uncomfortable for me to touch someone's feet and to let anyone touch my feet.  At least I had my own mom there to take that stranger discomfort away.

Our final night we had dutch oven parmesan chicken, a camping tradition for the Ballard RS president. It's not the Italian Chicken Parmigiana.  It's breaded and baked chicken breasts.  

FSY for the Girls

Lily and Amara went to Provo for FSY conference and got to share a dorm room.  Steve and I dropped them off on Monday and came back for them on Saturday.  

They had a lot of fun with their company and stayed plenty busy.

While they were there, Steve and I took our 20th anniversary vacay to Moab and Telluride.  I took so many pics but my time to blog seems to be slim.  Just know I journaled everything and here's a few tips for if I ever plan a similar trip:

20th Anniversary Vacation


We wanted a more quiet experience, not the touristy attractions, and we got just that.  We stayed at the Moab Resort in a 1 room suite with full kitchen.  I give it 5 stars. The room was clean, beautiful, and bigger than we needed, but would be great if we had brought our girls. It comes with breakfast (give yourself plenty of time to get it because it's restaurant style where you order and wait for your food).

We planned indoor activities during the heat of day and outdoor activities for the early morning and evening.  
  • Morning helicopter tour (20 min)- ride of a lifetime.  
Gorgeous views and somewhat bumpier than you'd expect.  Fantastic picture views.  Took my nerves a few hours to recover from all the shaking. Still worth it.
  • Evening cafeteria-style chuckwagon dinner with river boat tour- 
Do this!  It's romantic to be on the water under the stars among towering red rock. We saw beavers working on the side of the river, too.  Learned a little about the area.  The recorded program was a bit cheesy, but the audio quality on the boat was on point.  I enjoyed watching the light show on the mountains as we floated back to the dock.
  • Morning hike to Corona Arch- 
Do this!  It's about a mile there and just a peaceful, beautiful experience.  We went a little before sunrise and had the trail to ourselves in perfect hiking temps.
  • Hole in the Rock tour- HA!  

 I loved this place.  It was so quirky but so unique.  It's a 5000 square foot home that was blasted out of the mountain.  We had ice cream while there and liked looking at the sculptures and various things.  Do the tour.  It's worth the $9 to visit.  I even bought the little book for sale in the gift shop and enjoyed the story behind the people that lived there.
  • Doughbirds Donuts-This place has lots of interesting flavors and charm. I had the spicy chicken sandwich which was good and very messy and spicy.  I wish I could've eaten it indoors because it was HOT in my mouth and HOT outside, and sitting in the shade was ok except the garbage can out there reeked.  
  • Quesadilla Mobilla Food Truck- the quesadillas are good, but next time, I'd share one.  It's a lot.
  • Grocery store has some good cheaper and healthier options for ready-made food.  And we liked it because we had a full kitchen we could use to cook.  If I bring my family to Moab one day, I'd hit up the grocery store for our food and enjoy it in the air-conditioned hotel room.


I knew it would be an expensive tourist town, and it sure was.  There is nary a parking spot anywhere to be found, though there are a couple free lots.  We stayed 24 hours here and here's my tips-
  • Stay in Norwood, go to Telluride in the day.  Norwood is an hour away, but a cute tiny town with a delicious diner called The Divide (better food than the expensive, crowded restaurants in Telluride).  You'll save hundreds in lodging. Plus the motel there is not scary or trashy.  It's not posh, but feels safe.  There was a cute farmer's market across the street (Thursday).  And there is a grocery store if you want to grab food that doesn't cost bars of gold.
  • If you do stay in Telluride, the Camel's Garden is a good place. It's super close to the free gondola, offers a paid private parking garage, has nearby bike rentals, and an elevated continental breakfast.
  • Go to Bridal Veil Falls and take the jeep tour up there to save yourself the hike.So pretty! (also crowded) That was way fun. Super bumpy, but great views, and a good way to get to know the history and local tips from the tour guide. 
  • GONDOLA- ride that over and over.  It's free with gorgeous views.
  • If you're feeling adventurous- Mountain Village Bike Park-Rent helmets and bikes, get a lift ticket and go to the top of the mountain then ride down on the 5 mile trail.  It's freaky and fun.  Take it slow like I did and get off your bike and walk the really steep turns and such.  Take the pull offs if there's someone behind you and let them pass.  This says it's a beginner trail but it is intense for a beginner. Even my second time down when I was more comfortable with managing the bike, I scared myself on a couple occasions where I was glad my guardian angel helped steer me in just the nick of time. Tips: Don't get cocky. Wear long pants and a jacket and gloves, it's chilly in that altitude. My hands were buzzing from the constant bumps and vibrations. This, though, was a favorite memory of mine.  Steve and I were kids again, except with a better appreciation for life and the beauty of nature.  It was so pretty weaving down the trail in the forest!
  • The disc golf course in Mountain Village is all kinds of confusing, so I'd say skip it unless you're a die hard and can figure it out.

Guting/Ng Family Reunion In Utah!

We had so much fun for the Guting Reunion!  Mom's siblings stayed with her at her house and my sibling's (April, Micah, and families) stayed at mine.  It was awesome that all of my mom's siblings were able to make it!  Aunty Raz and Uncle Ray even brought their dog, Colbee, with them as they drove across several states in their RV with Aunty Nani.

We went to the Uinta County Fair and Aunty Nani rode rides with Lily.  It was her birthday!  Then it started raining, so we went out to eat at 7-11 Ranch Restaurant.  She wanted steak.

Aunty Kathy showing Alexa and Bridger something
Dinosaurland!  We spent an afternoon at Dino National Monument and got to see the bones in the quarry and Josie's cabin (where we made picnic sandwiches and chips for dinner).

We also saw the Octane Motocross show which was amazing!  Though all our voices got  tired from cheering so much.  And a couple of our group got puked on by a little girl who had too much sugar behind us.

fireworks after the show
We did our own family talent show and ham dinner.  It was great to see everyone's variety of talents!  Everything from catching a stuffed animal to Mom's siblings singing Sweet Caroline!
Jay's artistic drawings.  He's really good!

Alexa catching a stuffed animal

Amara's mini houses she builds

Micah playing his clarinet

Our family of spectators

Uncle Kaiama playing ukulele

He sings too.

Aunty Kathy teaching us Korean phrases

The crew singing Sweet Caroline.  "Hands...Touching Hands..."

"...reaching out..."

Colbee is such a sweetheart!

Lani girl was able to fly in and join us for a day!

Sisters taking a walk from my house up to mom's house.

One last pic before heading home!