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Painting: Heinrich Hofmann
Ether 12: 27 And if men come unto me I will show unto them their weakness. I give unto men weakness that they may be humble; and my grace is sufficient for all men that humble themselves before me; for if they humble themselves before me, and have faith in me, then will I make weak things become strong unto them.
Those words of the Lord Jesus Christ written by the prophet, Moroni, can cause each of us to realize that those weaknesses we may recognize in ourselves which sorely bother us and can even make us feel unworthy, can actually, when we admit we have them and then turn to our Savior in faith and humility for support and strengthening, can cause something amazing happen to us. We begin to see that those weaknesses have actually become strengths!
I believe the life history summary of the dear lady you will learn about in today's post will provide you with examples of how the Lord's true promise quoted above, will be fulfilled when His humility standard is fully met.
Just in case you would like to read the complete chapter of the Book of Mormon, Another Testament of Jesus Christ from which TODAY'S THEME is taken, I have provided a scriptural reference below so you may read it from your own Book of Mormon either now or after you have finished reading the rest of this blog post.
Ether 12: 1-41
In my just previous post, 38i - Part 1 we got to know John C. Begay. In this post we will enjoy getting to better know his dear wife, Ilene Touchin Begay.
Ilene Touchin Begay
John C. Begay found these words of Elder Boyd K. Packer very true just like other teachings of Brother Packer that he had incorporated into his being,
“When you see the right girl for you to marry, you will know it.”John and Ilene grew up in the same area and had eyes for each other, and when the time was right, John knew where to look for his bride.
Ilene was born May 5, in Coppermine, Arizona, the sixth of thirteen children born to Alma and Kenneth Touchin. She was that child whose sweet spirit crept in and touched her parents’souls in a unique way. Her joyful countenance and devotion uplifted them. Ilene truly loved and honored her parents. When it was apparent that the family needed help at home, it was natural that Ilene would volunteer for the home duty, allowing the other siblings to go off to school and to other pursuits.
Ilene had no formal schooling, but was mentored by her parents in herding and caring for their large herds of sheep and cattle, weaving rugs, cooking, helping relatives, and other tasks necessary to sustain life on the reservation. She and her brother John were the main caretakers, alongside their parents, of the homestead and ranch that kept the family going.The Navajo language is still her only manner of speaking. (The individuals and settings in the photos I've used here only represent Ilene Begay and a few things she has done and where she has done them. Neither Ilene nor her home are pictured in them.)
Prayer and faith were also natural to Ilene. Her husband tells about a technique Ilene used in herding the sheep to keep them going in the right direction. She would attach a bailing wire handle to a tin can filled with rocks and then swing the can and fling it to a vital spot near the sheep to scare them into the desired direction. About 20 years ago while she was with the herd, she threw such a can and when she went to pick the can up, she had a strong prompting, “Don’t pick it up!” She then backed away as a rattle snake crawled from under the bush on which the can sat.
Ilene was baptized in 1965 in Tuba City by Elders Court and Robert.
Mesa, Arizona Temple
Ilene and John were married in a traditional Navajo ceremony in 1966 and later were married for time and eternity in the Mesa, Arizona Temple. They have reared a righteous posterity--four children, all active in the church and successful in their careers.
The extended family says she is the one in the family that regularly visits her relatives. She is the one most likely to show up in time of need, and the one who brings treats and feels comfortable eating with or staying over with her extended family. By family members, she is characterized as so good, helpful, and friendly. Her husband describes her as a woman of strong faith who lives up to her beliefs.
The stake center building and fourth ward buildings in Page, Arizona have a special luster and polish under the loving custodial care of Ilene Begay. This has been part of her stewardship for 20 years. She also has worked in the laundry room at the St. George Temple for eight years, and each Friday, after completing her job in the laundry, she does temple proxy work.
Ilene’s current ward calling is teaching in the Relief Society, an assignment she has had for six years.
In a recent mission conference after John C. had accepted a call as a counselor in the Arizona-Phoenix mission presidency, John and Ilene spoke to the missionaries. It was reported that Ilene spoke in her native tongue, and the spirit was so strong that those who could not understand her words, knew of her testimony and were deeply touched.
Ilene and John are an eye-catching pair, Ilene, a slim figure with a poised manner in immaculate traditional dress and tasteful turquoise and silver jewelry, smooth hair pulled back from her lovely classic face, walking next to her husband, wearing western-styled shirt and jeans, cravat tie, turquoise buckle, high-topped boots, and wide-brimmed hat.
Ilene’s older siblings starting with the oldest are John, Rex, Mary, Sue, and Patty. Ilene is next, followed by James, Charlie, Leona, Priscilla, Kenny, Julius, and Jeanne.
As the Blossoming Roses the Lord Mentions in D. and C. 49:24
Children of John and Ilene Begay (Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is standing to the left of John and Ilene in the above photo.)Tamari Begay, born in 1967: attended UVSC for two years; served a mission in Spain; Is employed as a manager at the Wild Horse Pass Resort in Phoenix, Az.
Sarina Begay, born 1970: served a mission in Ohio; is a social worker for Maricopa County in Phoenix AZ.; plans to marry in September of 2007 in the St. George Temple where her father will officiate.
Justin Begay, born in 1972: served a mission in Honduras; married to Shandiin Ridpath; has three children: Kimball Jared, Mikaye Sariah, and Rigdon Kenneth; recently re-located back to Page and secured a job at the Navajo Generating Station.
Matthew Begay, born in 1980: served a mission in Guam; works at Page Steel.
I now give each of you readers of my blog post the opportunity to read again TODAY'S THEME. Then I will summarize for you why I feel so strongly that this scripture applies to Ilene Touchin Begay:
Ether 12: 27 And if men come unto me I will show unto them their weakness. I give unto men weakness that they may be humble; and my grace is sufficient for all men that humble themselves before me; for if they humble themselves before me, and have faith in me, then will I make weak things become strong unto them.The Following is Blogger Neil Birch's Review of Incidences in Ilene's life where it can be seen that her weaknesses became her strengths.
Possible weaknesses the Lord had "blessed" Ilene with:
She was the sixth of thirteen children. Life could be quite challenging to a middle child in such a large family. She might have become very dependent on her older siblings and domineering over the younger ones and even rebelled against her parents. One Behavioral theory that is widely held is that middle children often have lots of problems.
Instead: She was that child "whose sweet spirit crept in and touched her parents’ souls in a unique way. Her joyful countenance and devotion uplifted them. Ilene truly loved and honored her parents. When it was apparent that the family needed help at home, it was natural that Ilene would volunteer for the home duty, allowing the other siblings to go off to school and other pursuits."Speaking only Navajo could have made her feel inferior to those in her family and others who spoke both Navajo and English. Three of their children even learned another language while serving missions for their church.
Instead, Ilene was capable of communicating her deepest feelings, such as her testimony of the Restored Gospel in Navajo to others who didn't comprehend her words. But they did feel the power of her testimony when she bore it. It was obvious to those who knew Ilene that she loved the Lord.Your having read her husband John's life story already, you may have thoughts that he was the strong one in this marriage. He spoke English. He achieved an education and became a member of the Lord's true church and served in many important church capacities. John even was blessed by a strong confirmation of the Spirit that Ilene was the one he should marry (just as Elder Boyd K. Packer had promised would happen.)
She served in important church assignments too. However, her superb strength that she brought to their marriage was shown by the following which you would have read in the previous post. Because of how strongly John was letting Ilene down, she could have divorced him:
While the marriage was mostly wonderful, John C. continued to drink occasionally through the second year of marriage much to his new wife’s disgust. She expressed disappointment and anger to her parents and even vowed to leave him if he didn’t stop the behavior. In the winter of 1967, after a short drinking binge he wrecked his pickup in the snow and totaled the vehicle. He was fined and jailed overnight. Coming home in deep despair he promised he would never drink again. Instead of not trusting his promises and refusing to forgive him, Ilene trusted John. The next Sunday he was back in Church with his wife and little daughter armed with a personal commitment that he never broke.
(A note to) Elder Packer from this Church Member blogger: "I enjoyed so much reading how you, through the inspiration of the Lord, told John C. Begay that he would know from the Lord who he was to marry!
( Neil Birch's note to) John: "Congratulations on your following the inspiration from the Lord that you should marry Ilene. You know very well how much strength the Lord gave Ilene despite some of the weaknesses she may possibly have had. John, I don't think you think of her having weaknesses! I tend to agree with you! In any case, The Lord has made any weaknesses she may have had, into strengths as He promised through His prophet, Moroni!Here is a follow-up on the just previous strength I mentioned: Ilene, if you hadn't stood up to John fearlessly as he was continuing in his drinking, it wouldn't have been possible for you (and John and others of the family who might have been there with you) to feel great joy as you watched him in his capacity as a temple sealer, seal a dear daughter to her husband for time and all eternity in the House of the Lord!
Here is a summary of several other strengths that the Lord developed in Ilene despite her potential weaknesses:
The Lord inspired her to not approach the bush where her "sheep herding can" had lodged on top of it, thus avoiding being bitten by a poisonous snake that was hidden in the bush.
Serving as a Relief Society teacher for at least six years in a row says much for the strengths the Lord God gave his dear Ilene Touchin Begay.
He also appears to have given her sufficient strength, energy and desire sufficient to both serve in the Temple laundry room and to do temple ordinances on behalf of the dead also.
Then I can see that despite your having been most likely raised in a Navajo hogan that had a dirt floor, that when, at least, for twenty years, you Ilene, were in charge of keeping the Page Stake Center and Fourth Ward LDS Chapel clean, they always had a "special luster and polish to them." That says so much about your dedication to serving the Lord and His Church with all your heart, might mind and soul as He asks of us.
This life story you just read was used with permission of Dale and Margene Shumway, Authors of the book, Blossoming II. which is available on Amazon.com entitled The Blossoming II: Dramatic stories in the Lives of Native Americans. Also both Blossoming books are available by contacting the Shumways by email: firstname.lastname@example.org, by mail 486 W 40 N. Orem, UT 84057, or by telephone 801 235 0986. The retail cost is for book I $12.95 and for book II $14.95 plus postage. As for the Blossoming II books. They are available on Amazon.com titled The Blossoming II: Dramatic stories in the Lives of Native Americans. Also both Blossoming books are available by contacting us by email: email@example.com, by mail 486 W 40 N. Orem, UT 84057, or by telephone 801 235 0986. The retail cost is for book I $12.95 and for book II $14.95 plus postage.
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