Utah Women Assemble Feminine Hygiene Kits


Hundreds of Utah Women Assemble Feminine Hygiene Kits for Girls in Ethiopia

On Thursday, women in Utah County gathered to make materials for feminine hygiene kits to be shipped to Ethiopia at the beginning of November. Throughout the day, 150 women, including Brigham Young University students from 13 wards, gathered around sewing machines, sergers, and cutting tables to prepare items for the kits. On Saturday, contestants in the Distinguished Young Women Scholarship Pageant  assembled and packed the kits into boxes. In less than an hour, they assembled 200 kits.

Distinguished Young Women gather to assemble Days for Girls kits in Utah

These events are part of an ongoing effort by the nonprofit organization Days for Girls, which promotes education and dignity throughout the world by providing girls with access to feminine hygiene products. This service allows girls to attend school every day, whereas before they were forced to isolate themselves and stay in their rooms during their monthly period.

Founding of Days for Girls

Celeste Mergens, a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, founded Days for Girls in 2008. Mergens had been searching for years to know how to reverse the cycle of poverty and hunger when she came upon the idea of providing hygiene kits for girls in developing countries. As she was preparing to visit an orphanage in Uganda, she prayed to know how to help feed the children there. She told God she was ready to do anything required of her. After an evening of tears and pleading, she went to bed. At 2:30 in the morning, she awoke to a question: Celeste, have you asked the girls what they are doing for feminine hygiene? “They need food and water,” Celeste said as she related her experience, “Imagine receiving the answer, ‘Have you asked about feminine hygiene?’” She sat stunned, as she realized that this revelation was an undeniable answer to her prayers. Later she would realize that this was not only an answer to her prayer, but an answer to the prayers of women all over the world who were searching for a way out.

As Celeste talked to the girls in the orphanage about their needs, they were anxious to tell her of the difficulties they experienced. They had no resources available to them, unless they were willing to exploit themselves. When Celeste set out to fight  poverty, she could not have imagined that these kits would allow many women and girls to attend school, have their own businesses, and avoid isolation, infection, and exploitation, which in turn has allowed them to gain the skills necessary to support themselves and their families. For the recipients of these hygiene kits, this means ending poverty in a very real way.

Orphanage-outside-Nakuru-with-kitsGirls in an orphanage in Kenya receive their Days for Girls kits, image via seattleglobalist.com

Along with hygiene kits, the girls receive education about their bodies and are trained how to make their own kits and educate others in their communities. It is an empowering experience for all who are involved.

People started to recognize their individual worth. They started to stand up to violence, exploitation, and trafficking.

She tells of a young orphan, who, after attending a workshop with Days for Girls, went on to educate hundreds of others. When she came back to report on her progress, she said, “I am no longer an orphan. I am a leader of women.” Because of a willingness to respond to a simple question in answer to prayer, women all over the world now understand their worth and have been empowered to help themselves and others. This experience taught Celeste that “we must be a set of hands that can answer prayers. We have to ask with all our heart, and He will make available the knowledge of how we can be of the greatest service.”

Global Growth

Opportunities for service have grown exponentially since Celeste’s prompting. As Days for Girls has grown, chapters have opened across the country, and Latter-day Saints have played a significant role in helping these efforts move forward. The Utah Valley Chapter is the most active Days for Girls chapter in the world. They will be celebrating their one-year anniversary this November and have assembled over 7,000 kits in 11 months through a series of events held each week.

Ann Lewis in MaliAnn Lewis, Co-Director of the Utah Valley Chapter of Days for Girls, in Ouéléssébougou, Koulikoro, Mali

Church members and communities have come together elsewhere to participate in Days for Girls. Cindy Ellsworth, a Latter-day Saint in San Antonio, was able to involve her Stake Primary, Young Women Group, and Relief Society, as well as her community members from other faiths. “I felt directed,” she said. “I knew people in each of these organizations that I could connect with, and it felt so very right.”

The lessons that have been learned through this experience have touched those involved in these efforts to help women across the world. Celeste provided a beautiful summary of her involvement,

Heavenly Father’s love is truly universal. It has no boundaries. He will answer prayers from wherever to wherever, whatever it takes. That is more clear to me than it ever was before.

For more information about Days for Girls and how you can get involved, visit daysforgirls.org. For information on the Utah County Chapter, you can visit their Facebook page.

Kimberly Madsen

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“Still moving.” –Henry Clegg Jr.

Clegg, Henry Jr. Wives 1

Here is the story of Henry Clegg, a man I’ve come to love and admire, as told by one of his descendants, Gayle M. Clegg:

“My husband’s great-grandfather Henry Clegg Jr. was a finisher. He joined the Church with his family when the first LDS missionaries went to Preston, England. Henry had a view of his destination in his mind as he and his wife, Hannah, and their two young boys immigrated to Utah. Henry left his older parents, who were too feeble to make such a long and arduous journey, knowing he would never see them again.”

“While crossing the plains, Hannah contracted cholera and died. She was laid to rest in an unmarked grave.  The company then moved on, and at six in the evening, Henry’s youngest son also died. Henry retraced his steps to Hannah’s grave, placed his young son in his wife’s arms, and reburied the two of them together.

Henry then had to return to the wagon train, now five miles away. Suffering from cholera himself, Henry described his condition as being at death’s door while realizing he still had a thousand miles to walk.  Amazingly he continued forward, putting one foot in front of the other. He stopped writing in his journal for several weeks after losing his dear Hannah and little son. I was struck with the words he used when he did start writing again:

“Still moving.”

“When he finally reached the gathering place of the Saints, he began a new family. He kept the faith. He continued his story. Most remarkably, his heartache over the burial of his sweetheart and son gave birth to our family’s legacy of moving forward, of finishing.”

“. . .We each must find and finish our own story, but how much sweeter the telling when encouragement is called out, when arriving at our destination is valued and celebrated, however long ago the journey commenced.

“. . .The greatest mentor and advocate we have said: “I will go before your face. I will be on your right hand and on your left, and my Spirit shall be in your hearts, and mine angels round about you, to bear you up”  (D&C 84:88). Can any of us afford to leave this piece out of our individual journey?”

“Henry Clegg was still moving forward to live among the faithful Saints, to take his place, to raise a righteous family, to serve his neighbor. He had that picture in his mind even when his heart was breaking. . .

“. . .With the Lord, nothing is impossible (see Luke 1:37), but we each have to finish our own story. He sends His Spirit, we call out encouragement to each other, but we have to keep writing, keep walking, keep serving and accepting new challenges to the end of our own story. “Still walking” is the fundamental requirement in the journey of life. He wants us to finish well. He wants us to come back to Him. I pray that each of our stories will end in the presence of our Heavenly Father and His Son, our Savior Jesus Christ, the authors and finishers of our faith.”

- Excerpts from Sister Gayle M. Clegg, The Finished Story, General Conference April 2004

Clegg, Ann Lewis Headstone

Part of the reason I love this story is because it is a story of my husband’s ancestors.  After Henry Clegg Jr. lost his wife, Hanna, he crossed the plains and came to Salt Lake City where he married Ann Lewis from Cardiff in 1857.  She is the daughter of John A. Lewis and Ann John.  Their headstones are in our back yard right now.  John A. Lewis is my husband, John’s Great-great grandfather.  When their headstones needed to be replaced in the Spanish Fork Cemetery, I spoke up for the original stones.  Ann Lewis’s headstone is in several pieces and very difficult to read anymore.  From what I remember, the epitaph on her stone said something like this:

She left her home and friends
And crossed the mighty deep
. . . and kept the Faith
And now at last has gone to sleep.

And his reads:
Here lies our Father
A noble sire
A man of God,
A freind to the poor.

“Still moving.”  I love his words, I love that he just kept going and that he cared enough to tell us so.  And I love that the paths of our families crossed then and his influence continues still.

Today is John’s father’s birthday.  John Dean Lewis was born 22 Oct 1916 in Spanish Fork, Utah.  He would have been 98 years old today.  His father was Frederick Lewis b. 1880 in Spanish Fork.  His father was Frederick Lewis b. 1844 in Cardiff, Wales.  And his father was John A. Lewis b. 1814 in Llandaff, Wales.

Lewis, John A. Headstone Lewis, Ann John headstone. 1 Lewis, Ann John headstone. 2


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Harriet Matilda Barker b. 23 September 1859, my Great-grandmother!

Barker, Harriet b. 1859

Something Wonderful just happened.  I am looking into the face of my Great-grandmother, Harriet Barker for the very first time!  What a thrill.  I’ve never known what she looked like.  She is the mother of my Grandpa Franklin Smuin who was born in 1896.  Tonight I found a photo of her posted on FamilySearch.  She married John M. Smuin on 25 July 1878 in the Endowment House in Salt Lake City.  She died on 7 December 1918 at age 59.  I know very little about her, but I know now that she was beautiful and when I look into her face, I love her immediately.  She feels familiar to me.  She feels dear.  I am thrilled to see you, great-grandma.

Please, if you know anything about Harriet, I would love to know more.

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Cocoa Puff Treats–A Sunday Afternoon Treat

2014-10-19 Cocoa Puff Treats (2) Cocoa Puff Treats

Melt together until smooth in sauce pan:
1 c. Sugar
1 c. white Karo syrrup

Add: (stir in and let melt until smooth and creamy)
1 c. Creamy Peanut Butter
1 c. Crunchy Peanut Butter

Add: (stir together until coated)
4 c. Cocoa Puffs
1 c. chopped pecans

Drop by spoonfuls onto wax paper, let cool

*  *  *  *  *
Several years ago when the boys were younger we went to lots of Cub Scout and Boy Scout events.  At one of those events, a neighbor brought a tray of odd-looking pud-like cookies.  They didn’t look too appetizing, but after popping one into your mouth, you went back for more.  They became our family’s favorite ugly duckling go-to treat.  John whipped up a batch this morning to take to a family dinner after church this afternoon.  It’s a recipe worth throwing out there.  We’ve called them many things, which I won’t mention.  You can come up with your own name–but please, do try them.  They are a sure winner with kids and just about everyone else!

2014-10-19 Cocoa Puff Treats (4)

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October DfG Schedule of Events!

Mali.2014.Feb (1092)
Here’s what our month is looking like.  Come join the fun at an event near you:
 1 Oct Orem, Aspen 6th Ward Aubrey Henrie
1 Oct Mountain Green Julie Treadwell
7 Oct Bountiful 9-12:00 302 Bogey Cir Heather Maxwell
7 Oct Alpine 4th Ward RS/YW Celeste Lewis
7 Oct SLC Stake YW Combined Melissa Phillippi, Julie Gray,
8 Oct Bountiful, 1500 So. 600 E. Heather Maxwell
8 Oct Lehi 4th Ward Jean Edwards
9 Oct Draper, Corner Canyon 1st Ward Addie Fuhriman
9 Oct Provo Parkway 5th Ward Becca Kayne
9 Oct Salt Lake Grandeur Peak Ward Carol Crosby
11 Oct Spanish Fork YSA Stake Chantal Thompson
11 Oct Lindon 23rd Ward Super Saturday Kristin Timms
11 Oct Bountiful 9:00-2:00, 1400 S. 100 E. Heather Maxwell
14 Oct Bountiful 1250 So. Main, 7:00 p.m. Heather Maxwell
14 Oct Alpine RS Group Valorie Goodridge
14 Oct Pleasant Grove Mt. Mahogany 4th Ward Julie Cook
14 Oct South Jordan Spanish Branch  Kim Wu
16 Oct THIRD THURSDAY 9:00-12:00, 6:00-8:00 Orem
18 Oct Distinguished YW Juan Diego HS Draper
21 Oct Pleasant Grove, Grove 3rd Ward Melanie Hiatt
21 Oct Mapleton 23rd Ward Melissa Clark.
22 Oct Orem 7th Ward RS/YW Sandy Clark
23 Oct West Jordan Sr. Citizen Center 1:00-4:00 Kim Wu
23 Oct Orem, Northridge 4th Ward Lysa Rytting
25 Oct Highland Super Saturday Irene Black
25 Oct Payson, BYU Married Ward Chris Riley
25 Oct Centerville 9:00-2:00 Nedra Johnson
28 Oct SLC, Crescent Ridge 6th Ward Jan Wilden
4 Nov Bountiful 9:00-12:00, 302 Bogey Cir Heather Maxwell
5 Nov Bountiful 9th Ward 4:00-9:00 Heather Maxwell
6 Nov Farr West 6:30 Training Meeting Heather Maxwell
8 Nov Payson Lois Knutsen
11 Nov Salem Ann Shumway
12 Nov Cottonwood Heights Lisa Adams
12 Nov Centerville Heather Maxwell
12 Nov Sandy Betsy Chamberlain
15 Nov Pleasant Grove Mt. Mahogany 5th Ward Wendy O’Keefe
18 Nov Saratoga Springs Stake YW Caren Winters
20 Nov Third Thursday Morning Only
22 Nov Utah Valley Chapter’s 1 Year Anniversary!
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My house is covered with lint, the world is filled with words.

2014-10-14 Washing Flannel (6)A few weeks ago we found some flannel fabric on a clearance sale for $1/yard. We bought 471 bolts with our sacred donated DfG funds. What a thrill to find good flannel at that price! The shipments have been coming in last week and this. Last Friday 28 very large boxes were delivered to my front door. After the UPS man left, I hefted all of them out of sight so John wouldn’t freak out when he saw them stacked and barricading us in the house.

2014-10-12 UPS Boxes of Flannel. 1 2014-10-12 UPS Boxes of Flannel.2 2014-10-12 UPS Boxes of Flannel

I’ve been washing that flannel, bolt after bolt. Two at a time. Solid colored ones and printed ones. My washing machine and dryer are churning and drying almost around the clock. The trash can in the laundry room fills with dryer lint. The surfaces in the laundry are dusted with lint. There are dust bunnies on the floor and in the corners.

2014-10-14 Washing Flannel (6)  2014-10-14 Washing Flannel (3)2014-10-14 Washing Flannel (5) 2014-10-14 Washing Flannel (4)

Today I picked up the threads on the carpet down the stairs to the kitchen and noticed lint balls on the kitchen floor and a fine dusting of lint on the counter tops. I noticed lint just about everywhere upstairs and downstairs in our home. Wow. It’s in the air, and it goes everywhere.

As I noticed lint everywhere in my house, it made me wonder about what parts of me are floating around out there. First I thought of picking a fallen hair off my sweater and dropping it to the ground. Then I thought of clipping fingernails and not sweeping every piece up. I thought of my physical body lint like the rough summer skin I filed off my heels last night before I went to bed. Parts and pieces of me are shed, like lint.

Then I thought about other ways we leave ourselves behind. My first thought was Words. I teach, I speak, I write. I leave Words out in the world. I thought about my influence. Is it for good, or is it like lint–something to be swept away? This afternoon between teaching my Family History classes I had a phone call from a lovely women named Janette in Glendora, California. “Is this Ann Lewis?” I told her, yes, I am Ann. She said, “Are you the lady who does Days for Girls?” I told her “Yes! I’m that Ann.” She said she has been hearing about me and reading about me. She knew people there who read this blog. She has a sister in Alpine I met last week at an event. My words somehow reached her, like lint flying out into the world. We visited for an hour or so, and could have talked much longer.

Before returning to my evening class, I put another load into the dryer and emptied the lint form the lint catcher, thinking about what I am leaving behind, what words I am speaking and writing and putting out into the world. I hope they are positive and good. I hope they motivate others to be good and do good things. Lint and words are small things, but they travel far. Something to consider as I am writing my fingers to the bone.


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Remembering Mary Payne/Pain d. 14 October 1844, my 3rd Great-grandmother

Pioneer Quote

Mary passed away in the Winter Quarters area, 5 miles west of Kitchens Settlement. She and her husband James were among the exiled Mormons, from the state of Illinois. Starvation and disease ran rampant among these new communities and Mary fell victim.  James states in his autobiography that he lost his wife and youngest son very soon after. Two more children would die.  You can feel the fear in James’s writing, when he talks about ‘this place will kill the lot of us.’

Today I remember the sacrifice Mary made.  She gave all she had.  I am grateful to her for that gift.  I am here today because she came first.
Pioneer Burial

A blanket wraps your lifeless form,
As if it’s presence can make you warm.
We cannot stop our freezing tears,
Nor think of future, empty years.
Nor even take the time to grieve,
For we must surely take our leave.

The wagons slowly move along;
We, among the tattered throng.
We trudge behind, as journey starts;
Choking sobs, with broken hearts.
Blinding sleet now numbs our pain;
Our only hope, “We’ll meet again”.

~Shirleen C. Farley 2011

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