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Individual Worth

Conference of the Carpenter's Tools

One Blade of Grass
by Roger K. Denison

Spencer W. Kimball Learns From a Friend

Who? Mx?

The Value of One Member

The Littlest Screw

Curriculum Fable

Conference of the Carpenter's Tools

One day, the carpenter's tools had a conference. Brother Hammer was in the chair. Upon bringing the meeting to order, he said he understood that there were complaints among his fellow tools and he thought it would be good to discuss it openly together.

"Yes, Brother Saw, what is your complaint?"

Brother Saw stood up and said, "It's that little Bro. Pencil. He gets on everyone's nerves, he is so small. He can't be found when he's needed and when he's doing service, he is so blunt at times that he makes very bad impressions. He certainly needs to be sharpened up a bit around here if he expects to be of any use!"

Little Brother Pencil slowly rose to his feet and said "All right, perhaps I am a little blunt at times. It's only when I spend too long a time in service that I'm like that, but at least I'm not like Brother Drill and his family of small bits. They are always going around in circles, and really, Bro. Drill seems just a bit boring."

Brother Drill and his family of small bits stood up and replied, "Yes, I know we have a reputation for going in circles, but at least we are not like Bro. Plane. You really have to push him to get him to do anything at all. And then, all of his work is on the surface. There certainly is no depth to his work like there is to ours."

All eyes turned to Bro. Plane to see what he would say. Quickly Bro. Plane spoke up.

"Brothers, I guess I'm not the only one around here that has to be pushed to do anything or that has no depth to his service. Brother Sandpaper is worse than I am."

Brother Sandpaper was somewhat new in their midst. "Besides, look how rough he is. I just can't stand being next to him. He just rubs me the wrong way. How he could accomplish any good in his service being so rough, I'll never know."

That remark made Brother Sandpaper really angry. "Brother Plane is just jealous, that's all! And while everyone is complaining, I'd like to complain about Brother Rule. He makes me grit my teeth; always measuring others by his standards as though he's the only one who is right around here. How about Bro. Level? He is so exacting! And there's Brother Compass and Brother Tape Measure and that Brother Punch doesn't finish what he starts most of the time."

Well, the tools were really getting hot. Their tempers were flaring. All seemed to have legitimate complaints against one another, but just then, when some were even getting ready to walk out of the carpenters hall, some thinking that they were not useful or needed, who should walk in but the Master Carpenter from Nazareth. He had come to perform his work for the day. His Father had asked him to build a house that they could both dwell in and he was now almost finished with it. He put his work clothes on and started to finish the work his Father had given him to do. He used every tool.

Now someone else appeared on the scene. It was the carpenter's Father. How thrilled and pleased He was to see what His Son had accomplished. "How did you do it, my Son?" asked the Father.

"I put to good use all of the tools that I bought and how I love every one of them. I paid a high price for them, Father, but they are well worth it. See the hammer over there? He is so useful for both the work of tearing down and building up. He is very effective in service because he really hits the nail on the head. He's a very solid worker, I must say. Then there is the saw. He's really pretty sharp and puts his teeth into the work, constantly going back and forth in one area at a time for very effective service. I am certainly happy to have my pencil. Although he's not very big and I have to sharpen him from time to time, just like some of the other tools, he is very useful in the correcting and marking work.

"Father, here is another tool I just couldn't be without. Big drill and these small bits of his family. They are all so good at reaching deep into the heart and are always leaving the way open for additional work. And just look at this plane. He is so handy to have around in service. He's such a smooth worker and doesn't bite off more than he can handle at one time. He is certainly good at overcoming obstacles as well. And do you see Brother Level over there? He has a good eye for balance and is very levelheaded. And although little Bro. Punch is very small, with the assistance of Brother Hammer, he does an excellent job of driving his point home. Although Brother Tape Measure is small in size, he is always extending himself to meet various circumstances and, like Brother Rule, is accurate in his statements. Even my new tools, like Brother Sandpaper, I wouldn't want to do without him. Although there is a certain roughness, he will wind up with smooth results. So you see Father, I’m thankful because I have this variety of tools. With their service, I will finish your house. Let me show you around the rest of the building."

Well, upon their leaving, all of the carpenter’s tools started rejoicing because each received compliments from the Master and saw how pleased his Father was with what they all had accomplished together.

Brother Hammer now again rose in the midst and said, "Brothers, I perceive that all of us are needed. For although we all may have our weak points at times, and we do not do things exactly the way others think we should, whether we are old or new, large or small, we are all important tools in the hands of the Master Carpenter."

One Blade of Grass
by Roger K. Denison

We live in a new subdivision and our house is on a short street. We have one neighbor across the street and another neighbor who lives kiddie-corner on the adjacent street. The rest of the lots are still vacant. About 100 yards north is a large ranch pasture.

Now that you have that picture, my 6-year-old son was out flying his kite yesterday. It was a warm, breezy day and the kite was flying great. My son decided to sit down in the street and hold the kite handle between his legs. I was standing along side holding my 3-month-old boy (3 months to the day, as a matter of fact :). A gust came along and blew the kite, handle and all, out from my son's legs and off it went. I couldn't run fast since I was holding the baby.

I watched the kite drift over our house and thought, "Surely, that string and handle will get snagged on the roof and then I can climb up later and get it." But no, the handle went straight up the wall and over the roof. As the kite continued its great escape, the handle danced across the front yard (we have a big front yard). "Surely, that handle will get stuck in the crepe myrtle bush," I thought, "then I can catch up to it." But no, it kept right on going. The kite was home free, over across the vacant lots, over across the adjacent street, on its way to greener pastures :). I would have continued but none of us had shoes on.

I took the baby inside, grabbed my rugged sandals and dashed out the door and up the street. By this time the neighbors were out watching the chase. The little girl next door helped me chase the handle before it drifted into the pasture. There was a big tree and some telephone lines that ran along the pasture fence. Finally, finally, the handle got stuck. But it was stuck waaaayy up in the tree and there was no way to get it down, especially with the wires running through the tree. We all watched the kite fly happily over the pasture, being guided by the big tree.

My son was heartbroken. His mom and I consoled him. My 3-year-old daughter said that the kite was going to see Jesus.

Everyone went inside and I stayed out to set up sprinklers. Every once in awhile I would see how the kite was doing. I finished setting up the sprinklers and looked again. The kite seemed farther away now. I walked back up the street and sure enough, the tree had lost its grip, too, and the kite had continued its northward trek to Jesus.

Since I still had my sandals and didn't have the baby, I hopped the fence and sprinted across the field. The grass was tall so I had to dodge 12 ft rattlesnakes, 20 ft crocodiles, hordes of piranha, swarms of killer bees . . . Hey I live in Texas! It's possible. Anyway, I ran across the field, hoping to catch up to the kite handle. Do you know what grabbed it? A blade of grass.

A single blade of grass! Not a roof top. Not a crepe myrtle bush. Not an enormous tree or telephone wire, but a small blade of grass. Apparently the string and handle wound around the seedling stem and the blade on grass held on tight. I reeled the string back on to the handle and made my way home, again dodging the snakes, crocs, piranhas, and bees (okay, the only thing I had to dodge were the cow pies) and returned the kite to its exuberant young owner.

What's the lesson? People can have various events or people (even great people) have an effect on their lives and yet they drift on. What it takes to finally reach these people is to be in the right place at the right time. That blade of grass was in the right place at the right time. It could do what the rooftop, the bush, the fence, the tree, the wire failed to do. Potential missionaries (who, hopefully, are attending seminary classes now) need to realize that they will be called to touch the lives of investigators who may never be drawn to the Gospel in any other way. But simply, they (the missionaries) were in the right place at the right time. It happened to Ammon and King Lamoni. It happened to Phillip and the eunuch.

We may not be General Authorities or stake presidents or bishops but we can influence others in significant ways. Ask Heavenly Father for guidance to be in the right place at the right time. By small and simple means are great things brought to pass.

Spencer W. Kimball Learns From a Friend

Harold B. Lee and Spencer W. Kimball had much in common and were close friends. Elder Kimball followed Elder Lee in joining the Quorum of Twelve Apostles, so they were always next to each other in seating and in seniority, which helped develop the kinship. They even shared the same birthday; Elder Kimball was actually four years older than Elder Lee, but had great respect for the man who was his senior in the Quorum.

The following story was told by Sister Norma B. Ashton, wife of Elder Marvin J. Ashton:

"President Kimball said he always admired this friend so very much; in fact, he almost envied President Lee for his talents. He took every occasion to tell Elder Lee how he felt. Often he would say, 'Harold, I wish I could play the organ as you do.' 'Harold, you speak so well. I wish I could do as well.' 'Harold, you can see the gist of a problem in such a short time. I wish my mind were so clear.' Then, related President Kimball, in one of their weekly meetings in the temple President Lee made a fine presentation to the other members of the Twelve. As they walked out of the temple together, again President Kimball turned to his friend and said, 'You did a magnificent job with your report this morning. I wish I could do as well as you do.' 'Well,' said President Kimball with a twinkle in his eyes, 'I guess Harold had had enough. He stopped, put his hands on his hips, and, looking me straight in the eye, said, 'Spencer, the Lord doesn't want you to be a Harold B. Lee. All he wants is for you to be the best Spencer W. Kimball you can be.' With a smile on his face, President Kimball said, 'Ever since then I have just tried to be the best Spencer W. Kimball I can be.' And would you say that he has been very successful doing that? That is an answer for all of us. All the Lord asks of us is to be the best we can be with what we have."

("For Such a Time as This", talk at BYU Women's Conference; reprinted in Woman to Woman, Deseret, 1986, pp. 16-17)

Who? Mx?

Xvxn though my typxwritxr is an old modxl,
It works quitx wxll, xxcxpt for onx of thx kxys
Thxrx arx forty-onx kxys that function, but
Just onx kxy not working makxs thx diffxrxncx.
Somxtimxs it sxxms that a Branch is
Likx my typxwritxr--that not all thx kxy
Pxoplx arx working propxrly.

You may say, "Wxll, I am only onx pxrson:
I don't makx or brxak a Branch."
But a succxssful Branch, to bx xffxctivx,
Rxquirxs thx activx participation of xvxry mxmbxr.
So thx nxxt timx you think your xfforts arx not
Nxxdxd, rxmxmbxr my old typxwritxr and say to
Yoursxlf, "I am a vxry kxy pxrson in our Branch,
And I am nxxdxd vxry much!"

The Value of One Member

Ten little members standing in a line.
One disliked the president
Then there were nine.
Nine ambitious members
offered to work late.
One forgot her promise;
then there were eight.
Eight creative members had ideas
good as heaven.
One lost enthusiasm,
then there were seven.
Seven loyal members got into a fix
They quarreled over programs,
and then there were six.
Six members remained with
spirit and drive.
One moved away,
then there were five.
Five steadfast members
wished there were more.
One became indifferent,
then there were four.
Four cheerful members
who never disagree -
Till one complained of meetings,
then there were three.
Three eager members!
What do they do?
One got discouraged
then there were two.
Two lonely members
our rhyme is nearly done
One joined the bridge club,
then there was one.
One faithful member was feeling
rather blue.
Met with a neighbor,
then there were two.
Two earnest members each
enrolled one more.
Doubling their number,
then there were four.
Four determined members
just couldn't wait,
Till each won another,
and then there were eight!
Eight excited members
signed up 16 more.
In another six verses, there'll be
a thousand twenty four!!!

The Littlest Screw
Author Unknown

There was once upon a time a village that was beautiful and well kept. The people were very proud of their village and loyal citizens. They held a meeting one day to decide what type of monument could be erected on the town square -- a final touch -- something both useful and lovely. They thought for sometime and finally decided to erect a beautiful, impressive clock.

They sent for the best materials -- for they wanted the finest clock they could have. The materials needed should be able to stand all kinds of weather and not tarnish, rust, or warp -- the very finest of clock makers was brought to the town to do the work.

Finally, it was finished and all the people came to see the clock and as each went around the clock looking at the exquisite workmanship, they each commented on the huge, impressiveness of the main spring that made the clock run. And each time something was said about the big spring a little screw located just above the spring wiggled and twisted and in envy said, "I'm not important, I'm not needed. No one notices me." The day went on and more and more people came to see the clock and over and over again the little screw would comment and wiggle and twist and feel very much unnecessary and unhappy.

Toward the end of the day just as the last few people were viewing the clock, someone made a remark about the main spring. And it was the last straw for the little screw-- it gave a twist and jerk and came right out of its place and as it fell to the base of the clock said, "No one notices me -- I'm not important." But when the screw came out, the big main spring also fell our of place. You see, the whole clockwork depended on the little screw.

Curriculum Fable
Author Unknown

One time the animals had a school. The curriculum consisted of running, climbing, flying, and swimming, and all of the animals took all of the subjects.

The duck was good in swimming. Better, in fact, than his instructors; and he made passing grades in flying but was practically hopeless in running. Because he was low in this subject, he was made to stay in after school and drop his swimming class in order to practice running. He kept this up until he was only average in swimming. But average is acceptable, so nobody worried about that. Except the duck.

The eagle was considered a problem pupil and was disciplined severely. He beat all the others to the top of the tree in the climbing class, but he had used his own way of getting there.

The rabbit started out at the top of the class in running, but he had a nervous breakdown and had to drop out of school on account of so much made-up work in swimming.

The squirrel led the climbing class, but his flying teacher made him start his flying lessons from the ground up instead of the top of the tree down, and he developed charley horses from over-exertion at the take off and began getting C's in climbing, D's in running.

The practical prairie dogs apprenticed their off-spring to a badger when the school authorities refused to add digging to the curriculum.

At the end of the year an abnormal eel that could swim well, and run, climb, and fly a little, was made Valedictorian.

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