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Mormons new to Yellowknife

Dorothy Westerman
Northern News Services

Yellowknife (Dec 16/05) - The life-altering vision of a young New York state man 185 years ago lives strong and thrives as Mormonism across the world.

For Sister Carol and Elder Earl McDaniel, newcomers to Yellowknife, living in the Mormon faith is a joy.

"That's our primary purpose for being on a mission. It has brought a lot of joy to us personally, individually and also it has served us well in our family," Earl said.

"The gospel has been a focal point of our family life and it has helped us teach our children principles," Earl said of the religion which was started in 1820 by Joseph Smith Jr., after being privy to a vision of God and Jesus telling him not to join any of the world's churches.

The McDaniels recently moved to Yellowknife from Sacramento Valley, California, for a 1 1/2 year mission with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, more usually called the Mormons.

They have four grown children and 12 grandchildren.

They join the weekly congregation of about 50 members.

"Our primary purpose (their mission) is to share the message of the gospel. We are Christians and believe in the Bible as other Christians do, but we believe other things have been revealed to prophets and the Book of Mormon is another witness for Christ," Earl said of the teachings of Mormonism.

Several years ago, the couple spent time in both Germany and Austria on a mission for their church.

When they found out they were travelling to Canada's North, they were up for the challenges of the cold climate.

"I thought, the Lord is testing me," she laughed.

"I am not used to the cold. But I can do anything for a year and a half," Carol said.

"But we are excited, it's not someplace we would have chosen on our own, so we are excited to be here a it will be an adventure," Carol said.

Upon arriving in the city, the McDaniels had a bit of a surprise.

"There were big, tall buildings. We thought there would be just a few buildings here and there.

"Before we came up here, people kidded us about living in igloos," Carol said.

"We were surprised with the modern buildings and the friendliness of the people," she added.

The Yellowknife branch of the church covers the entire Northwest Territories, with referrals also being received from the Nunavut region.

"We will try to make the connections to share the things they request within," Earl said.

The McDaniels replace Elder Redden and Elder Simonson.

"They are big shoes to fill because they were well-liked," Carol said.

There is a Yellowknife branch of the church which provides leadership within the church, Earl said of the churches' internal structure.

"We are supplementary in helping them, but our primary purpose is to share the gospel and the Plan of Salvation," Earl said.

Mormoms celebrate both Easter and Christmas in the traditional way, the McDaniels said.

Leading up to Dec. 25 is a satellite broadcast on Dec. 4 from the president of the church, Gordon B. Hinckley.

"It starts the season off good by hearing a message from the prophet. The tabernacle choir also usually sing," Carol said of the event, which Yellowknifers are able to watch at the church.

On Dec. 10, the branch had a party at the church with dinner and a short program including Santa.

"We do celebrate Christmas like many other religions do," Carol said.

"But the message is primarily on the message about Jesus Christ and we try as a church to keep the focal point on that, although we enjoy peripheral celebrations," Earl said.

While the wooden cross is an accepted symbol of the execution and resurrection of Christ, Carol said Mormons do not use the symbol.