Santa Rosa, California

Last weekend I was able to travel with Mormon Newsroom to cover stories in Santa Rosa and Napa, California. These two areas have recently been hit by devastating fires that destroyed thousands of homes and structures. We visited two local Mormon congregations, one of which had opened their church up to locals who had last or been evacuated from their homes. I was inspired to see church members there form their own ministry and open up their hearts and church to people they didn't know. Throughout the day I watched volunteers bring in bedding, toiletries and home cooked meals for people staying at the church. Here are two stories we produced on the trip and a few photos.

Most of the areas destroyed by the fires were still closed to the public and home owners. One afternoon we were given media access to visit a Santa Rosa neighborhood. It was unbelievable to walk through an area where hundreds of homes had been completely destroyed. All that remained were burnt out vehicles, large metal appliances and fireplace shafts that resembled cemetery headstones.

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 Images courtesy Mormon Newsroom

Images courtesy Mormon Newsroom

Accra, Ghana

I spent the last two weeks in Freetown, Sierra Leone and Accra, Ghana capturing stories for Mormon Newsroom. The first story covered the community open house for the new Ghana Missionary Training Center. The new building can accommodate up to 320 missionaries who will be serving in west Africa.

 The Missionary Training Center has several beautiful indoor and outdoor spaces designed to provide a good learning environment for missionaries. (Images courtesy Mormon Newsroom)

The Missionary Training Center has several beautiful indoor and outdoor spaces designed to provide a good learning environment for missionaries. (Images courtesy Mormon Newsroom)

 The Missionary Training Center sits on the same campus as the Ghana Temple, Accra Stake Center and West Africa Area offices. The mayor of Accra commented that this campus is one of the most well kept areas in the city. 

The Missionary Training Center sits on the same campus as the Ghana Temple, Accra Stake Center and West Africa Area offices. The mayor of Accra commented that this campus is one of the most well kept areas in the city. 

The second story covered a "Face to Face" broadcast in which teenage youth were given the opportunity to ask questions to an Apostle from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Elder and Sister Renlund answered questions on two broadcasts, one in English and a second in French. 

 The broadcast was recorded in the cafeteria of the new Missionary Training Center.

The broadcast was recorded in the cafeteria of the new Missionary Training Center.

 Youth from Ghana and neighboring countries traveled up to twelve hours by bus to attend the broadcast in person.

Youth from Ghana and neighboring countries traveled up to twelve hours by bus to attend the broadcast in person.

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 Two hosts presented youth submitted questions to Elder and Sister Renlund.

Two hosts presented youth submitted questions to Elder and Sister Renlund.

Eyes Toward the Past

Next week I have several documentary shorts that will be featured in an art exhibit held at the Union Station Museum in Ogden, Utah. The exhibit, called "Eyes Toward the Past," features twenty paintings that were commissioned forty years ago for the United States bi-centennial celebration. The paintings showcase imagery of events in the history of Northern Utah. The exhibit runs from July 24th to the 28th. 

Here are a two of the paintings that will be featured along with their accompanying short documentaries. 

 "Chief Pocatello at Brigham City" by Gary E. Smith  (Image courtesy Weber State University)

"Chief Pocatello at Brigham City" by Gary E. Smith  (Image courtesy Weber State University)

 "The Goodyear Horse Drive" by Farrell R. Collett (Image courtesy Weber State University)

"The Goodyear Horse Drive" by Farrell R. Collett (Image courtesy Weber State University)