The last couple of weeks I had the opportunity to document part of the Global Ministry Tour by Russell M. Nelson, President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. As a newly installed leader of the church, Nelson visited a number of nations across the globe, meeting with church members and speaking at devotionals attended by thousands. I was asked to record stories for Mormon Newsroom in Harare, Zimbabwe, Bangkok, Thailand and Laie, Hawaii. It was an exhausting trip, but also a special experience. Here are some of the stories we produced.
I just completed a second volume of short documentaries for the Weber State University Storytelling Festival. Last year we produced 20 videos that told the stories of historical people, places and events in northern Utah. The ideas for the stories came from a series of paintings done by Utah artists commissioned in 1976.
One story I enjoyed puting together in this volume was of a prisoner of war camp that operated in Ogden during World War II. Many Italian POWs were sent there, but after Italy announced its surrender, the men were made part of the Ogden community before returning home.
I also enjoyed learning about the Moench Building that was built on the original Weber Stake Academy campus in Ogden, Utah. It was named at the founder of the school, Louis F. Moench.
An exhibit featuring the short videos and the paintings they are based on will be on display during the Storytelling Festival on February 26 and 27 in the Hetzel-Hoellein Room of the Weber State University Stewart Library.
My mom, Jeannine Goeckeritz, recently recorded a solo flute album titled "Come Dream with Me." The music is classical crossover with arrangements and an original song from several composers. During the production of the album my mom asked me to create a few social media videos and shoot the photography for the album artwork. Here is a behind the scenes video I recently finished, plus a few raw video clips showing the rehearsals and recording at HUGEsound in Salt Lake City.
On Sunday I helped Mormon Newsroom cover a story on a Worldwide Devotional held for Young Adults at the Conference Center on Temple Square in Salt Lake City, Utah. Speaking at the event were Dieter F. and Harriet Uchtdorf. Elder Uchtdorf is an apostle of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Both he and Sister Uchtdorf shared messages telling those in attendance that God has an active interest in their well being and challenged everyone trust in God and he "will make more of you than you can make our yourself." Here is a short video I worked on about the event.
This past week I have been assisting Mormon Newsroom with media content related to the death of Thomas S. Monson, President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. President Monson served as a General Authority in the church for several decades and was loved by many individuals around the world.
In the course of putting together several stories this week I enjoyed learning about the life of President Monson. One of the his quotes that I inspired me was "Never let a problem to be solved, become more important than a person to be loved." In the few instances where I was asked to film President Monson he preached that sermon by example.
I remember several years ago when I covered the dedication of the Mormon temple in Phoenix, Arizona and President Monson took part in a cornerstone ceremony. It took several extra minutes for the ceremony to begin because President Monson left his post on the podium and started introducing himself to all the little children in the audience. "What's your name?" he'd ask them. "I am Tommy." It was inspiring to see someone who was always concerned about the well being of everyone around him.
Here are two stories we produced and a few photographs from the funeral services.
Last week I was able to create a Holiday E-Card for Weber State University. This year the University wanted to do a story that showed their mascot "Waldo" baking sugar cookies. For the shoot, we used Weber State University themed cookies created by my sister, Keisha Goeckeritz. The cookies were shaped as Weber State University logos, wildcats and campus architecture. They were incredible.... and edible! I was able to take a few home to enjoy later.
This week I was asked by Mormon Newsroom to capture a visit by President Trump to Welfare Square in Salt Lake City, Utah where he met with leaders of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. This visit extends a tradition of US Presidents meeting with Church leadership as they travel through Utah.
Welfare Square is one of dozens of locations across the world that provide food at not cost to needy families and individuals. Volunteers and some employees at these facilities produce bakery, dairy, pasta and canned goods.
One of the unexpected highlights of the day was meeting the White House videographer. The White House has two full time videographers that follow the President daily. This work dates back to the Reagan Administration and I've research and used the footage in the past for documentary projects. It was interesting to talk to the videographer and learn about the process they have in place to capture, log and eventually deliver the footage of the President to his future Presidential Library.
Here is the video news release I put together with Mormon Newsroom and a few photos from the visit.
This past weekend I had the opportunity to travel back to California to do another story on the recent fires. Once again we visited the destroyed Coffey Park neighborhood in Santa Rosa, then drove a couple hours north to the small community of Loma Rica, where homes had also burned. We were in California to accompany Elder Ronald A. Rasband and Sister Joy D. Jones, both from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. It was inspiring to watch these two individuals minister to those effected by the recent fires. They have very caring hearts as you will see in this video. You can read the print story at mormonnewsroom.org.
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.
Last Thursday I had a last minute shoot come up that took me to Puerto Rico and Saint Thomas in the U.S. Virgin Islands. I was asked by Mormon Newsroom to gather footage and produce a short news story on a visit President Henry B. Eyring, of the First Presidency of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, was making to members of church affected by Hurricane Irma.
Flights to and from the Caribbean are super scarce so after a red-eye flight with two connections I finally made it to San Juan at 11:30 on Friday morning, then flew on a chartered Cessna flight with President Eyring and others to Saint Thomas.
The island was hammered from the hurricane. Trees and power lines were down, buildings destroyed and debris were everywhere. President Eyring was taken to a local church where he gave a short devotional. It was inspiring to watch his care for the people there. As I was getting ready to begin filming he commented to me, "Now remember, we are not here for the news, we are here to help the people here." I appreciated that, because it made me feel like a part of the relief team.
After only a couple hours in St. Thomas we got back on our plane and returned to San Juan, Puerto Rico, where President Eyring gave another devotional that evening.
Here is a short video that was created for the press release put out by Mormon Newsroom. You can read the entire press release at mormonnewsroom.org.
Since 2004, I've had the opportunity each Fall to produce a short documentary for the Cathedral of the Madeleine's Bishop's Dinner. The films have been used at the annual event to raise funds for the Cathedral's upkeep and maintenance.
This year the Diocese celebrated the arrival of a new Bishop, The Most Reverend Oscar A. Solis. As a subject for this year's video, I focused on the Cathedral's role as the "Mother Church" for the Catholic Diocese of Salt Lake City and the greater Utah community. During production, I had the opportunity to travel with Bishop Solis to two Catholic Parishes, one in Salt Lake City and another in St. George, Utah.
It was a joy to watch the Bishop interact with parishioners! Before celebrating a confirmation mass for teenagers at Sacred Heart Catholic Church, the Bishop asked if the youth knew the rules during the Mass. Several teens shouted "Don't be on your cell phone!" The Bishop replied, "Yes, that would be nice, but the most important rule is don't fall asleep! And if you do fall asleep, don't snore." He has a fun sense of humor that the Parishioners enjoy.
Here is a clip from this year's Bishop's Dinner video that shows the Bishop's travels along with a few images of the Bishop's visit to Sacred Heart Catholic Church.
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 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.