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A Magazine of Mesa Verde United Methodist Church

Threads of Love: Helping Preemies and Their Mothers Birds of Brazil: Some of the Most Interesting Birds You’ll Ever See Veterans Day: Honoring Those Who Served A Trip to the Beaches of Normandy: One Couple’s Walk Through History Britten’s A Ceremony of Carols: An English Composer’s Legacy Let Us Speak of Education, Not Marriage: Why Young Girls Should Go to School Things You Should Do Before You Die: Decisions That Will Help Those You Leave Behind Fruitcake, A Christmas Tradition: Some Love It; Some, Not So Much

Vol. 1, No. 2

December 2012

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There are several stock photos in this issue. Attributions are as follows: Image credit: <a href=â&#x20AC;&#x2122;â&#x20AC;&#x2122;>leoadri / 123RF Stock Photo</a>

Table of Contents 2

Threads of Love


The Birds of Brazil


Veterans Day


A Trip to the Beaches of Normandy


Brittenâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s A Ceremony of Carols


Let Us Speak of Education, Not Marriage


Things You Should Do Before You Die


Fruitcake, A Christmas Tradition

On the Cover The cover photo is of a Bare-faced Carassow (Crax fasciolata), notable for the amount of bare skin on its face. It is found in the southeastern region of the Amazon Basin. Photo by Tom Getz.

Copyright 2012 Š Mesa Verde United Methodist Church, Costa Mesa, CA. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced in any form or by any means without the prior written permission of the publisher. The magazine reflects the interests, views, and opinions of Mesa Verde UMC. It is not an official magazine of the worldwide United Methodist Church.

Photo Courtesy of Jackie McPheeters


Threads of Love


he baby weighed less than 3 pounds. Tubes wound their way into his mouth, his nose. An IV needle pierced the fragile skin on his little leg. Wires encased in plastic sheathing snaked from his little body to monitors outside his isolette. Tiny patches covered his eyes. His body spasmed fitfully. He seemed exhausted and agitated all in the same instant; he appeared to be in pain. His telemetry was off the charts. Slowly, his mother took the lovie doll she had held next to her chest between her breasts under her hospital gown and gave it to the nurse. Gently, the woman placed it in the baby’s isolette, snuggling it carefully against the child’s frail body. He quieted immediately. Several of the monitoring devices around him fell back to normal, and he slept. Jackie McPheeters tells that story over and over to anyone who will listen. “It was my first experience seeing how it really helped,” she said.


Photo Courtesy of Jackie McPheeters Lynda Wood

S. Cooley

Top: A small preemie sleeps quietly, a lovie doll draped over her. The doll carries her motherâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s scent and provides comfort to the infant. Above left: Jackie McPheeters makes lovie dolls with help from the Boy Scouts at the annual Hearts & Hands Service Day held November 8 this year and sponsored by the Newport-Mesa-Irvine Interfaith Council. The local Threads of Love chapter had four tables, and volunteers from throughout the community stopped by to lend a hand. Above right: Members of Mesa Verde United Methodist Church (UMC) have been making lovie dolls, burial gowns, tiny vests, and isolette covers for several years. They came to the service day to help Jackie teach others how to make the dolls.


Jackie runs the Orange County chapter of Threads of Love, a non-profit organization whose volunteers make items of clothing, blankets, and other articles for premature babies. They also make the lovie dolls. There are tiny crocheted or knitted caps, small vests, little flannel baby blankets, isolette covers, and the dolls, all of which are given to hospitals for use in their NICUs (Newborn Intensive Care Units). The cap keeps the baby’s head warm and often helps to hold in place things like IV lines. The vest

Lynda Wood

Lynda Wood

“It” was a doll made of little more than a piece of flannel fashioned with a cloth head and a hat. The fact that the doll soothed the child is known as scent bonding. While the science that surrounds it is still not clear, doctors are learning that a mother’s scent is of great importance to an infant. When it comes to premature babies who begin life separated from their mothers, the scent helps to settle them while still in the hospital and makes the transition easier when the child goes home. And this says nothing for how it helps the mother.

Above: Small flannel blankets are placed over a baby’s isolette to help reduce the light to which preemies seem to be hypersensitive. At Mesa Verde UMC, these coverlets are made by the dozen, especially during church work days and Vacation Bible School.


S. Cooley

The lovie doll, on the other hand, is given initially to the mother, who sleeps with it, often lactating on it. In this way she transfers her scent to the doll. The doll is then placed in the isolette, where it helps soothe the baby.

Lynda Wood

Premature babies spend the first days, weeks, and sometimes even months living in the cocoon of their isolettes, where doctors and nurses use every technique and technology at their disposal to keep them alive. Tiny preemies can weigh as little as a pound and can be held in the palm of your hand. Often their organs, including their brains, are not yet fully developed. These tiny creatures face a barrage of life-threatening problems that can include severe breathing difficulties, anemia, infection, brain damage, blindness, low blood pressure, blood sugar imbalance, jaundice, trouble maintaining a steady temperature, and difficulty coordinating sucking and swallowing. Attached to a surfeit of machines via a plethora of tubes and wires and kept in warm isolettes, they begin their journey in life just struggling to survive. Top: Threads of Love makes tiny vests with Velcro® “snaps” that do not impede the medical staff. In the sterile environment, a vest helps humanize the situation. Immediately above: For premature infants who do not survive, Threads of Love makes burial gowns.

and blanket are more for the parents; it’s a little personal touch. The larger blanket is used to partially cover the isolette; preemies, who seem to be hypersensitive to light and noise, are more comfortable when their surroundings are quiet and the light is low. Later, as the infant grows and can spend some time outside the isolette, the blanket can be used to wrap him or her in and can function as a receiving blanket when he or she goes home. 6

Jackie divides her time between fundraising, providing materials to groups who do the sewing, knitting, and crocheting, and delivering the final products to local hospitals. Each Black Friday, she organizes volunteers to help her buy flannel. Last year she bought between 3,000 and 4,000 yards of the material, and it wasn’t enough. She estimates that she has delivered somewhere in the neighborhood of 14,000 items this year. Hospitals that have requested them include Anaheim Memorial Medical Cen-

Technically, a premature infant is a baby born more than three weeks early. Statistics vary, depending on the source. According to the website, babies born at 23 weeks have a 17% chance of survival. At 24 weeks, the number is 39%; at 25 weeks, it is 50/50. It used to be that an infant who was miscarried, stillborn, or who died shortly after birth was placed in a paper wrapper and sent to the morgue almost immediately. But medical professionals have begun to realize the importance of letting a mother see and hold her child, even if the baby has not survived. In 1993, a pediatrician from Earl K. Long Charity Hospital asked the women of the First Presbyterian Church of Baton Rouge, LA, if they could provide some sort of clothing for these tiny infants. Initially, then, Threads of Love made burial gowns for premature babies.

child, a tiny baby, fully clothed and nestled in a flannel blanket. It is a much more humanizing way to help her through the grief process. Today, Threads of Love chapters can be found in all 50 states, Puerto Rico, Canada, the U.K., Germany, Australia, and Africa. The organization now also serves babies who are not necessarily preemies but are critically ill and face extended time in isolette units. Jackie McPheeters has been running the Orange County chapter for 14 years and, as she put it, she’s not getting any younger. Although Ann Katapski now coordinates the South Orange County chapter, Jackie is looking for someone to mentor. If you are interested, Jackie can be reached at toljackie@ For more information about Threads of Love, go to • S. Cooley

ter, Childrens Hospital of Orange County, Kaiser Permanente Hospital South County and La Palma, Long Beach Memorial Medical Center, Presbyterian Intercommunity Hospital, Riverview Hospital, Saddleback Memorial Medical Center, St. Joseph’s Hospital, St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, TriCity Medical Center, Western Medical Center, and UCI Medical Center.

That first group of women ended up modifying Cabbage Patch doll patterns, as patterns for healthy newborns were much too large. Threads of Love still makes burial items, including caps and bonnets, gowns, booties, and blankets. The gowns are made to fit over the baby as the skin of many tiny preemies is too fragile to touch. The mother is then given the opportunity to say goodbye to her


All photos in this story Š Tom Getz 2012


The Birds of Brazil By Tom & Carol Getz Photography by Tom Getz


razil is the largest country in South America and the fifth largest country in the world. Ranging from above the equator to south of the Tropic of Capricorn, it covers some 33 million square miles. It is the most bio-diverse country in the world. At least 10% of the worldâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s amphibian and mammal species and 17% of all bird species live within its borders. Brazil is host to nearly 1,840 species of birds, 234 of which are endemic (meaning they are native to or confined to a certain region of Brazil). This is due largely to the typography of the land and the various climates that it supports. Brazilian topography is also diverse and includes hills, plains, scrublands, highlands, mountains, and wetlands. However, the difference in elevation from sea level to the mountain ranges is no more than 4,000 feet. While many of the higher elevations can be found in the southern portion of the country, in the north the Guiana Highlands separate rivers that flow south into the Amazon Basin from those that flow north into Venezuela. In fact,


Hot and wet with short dry period Hot and wet all year (Amazon) Hot and semi-arid (Caatinga) Tropical with dry summer Hot and wet all year (Atlantic Forest) Tropical with dry winter (Cerrado) Dry winter/mild summer Dry winter/warm summer Wet all year, mild summer Wet all year, warm summer

Source: “Country Pasture/Forage Resource Profiles: Brazil,” U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization, 2002

Brazil has eight major river systems, including the Amazon River, which is the second-longest in terms of length and the largest in terms of volume of water.

Grasslands and Pastures: The Atlantic Forest runs from temperate, semi-humid in the extreme south to tropical humid farther north. It includes a coastal zone with dense forest and grasslands, as well. It has the most diverse climate of the zones and the most diverse species of birds.

Wetlands: The “Pantanal” is the largest plain to flood regularly in the world. It is mostly covered with open vegetation.

There are five main climatic zones and a number of sub-zones, as well as several micro-climates. The five main zones are: •

Tropical Forest: The Amazon Rain Forest covers much of the northern half of Brazil. It is the largest forest on the planet.

Semi-Arid: Located in the northeast, the “Caatinga” is a vast, semi-arid steppe comprising thorn scrub and dry, deciduous forests.


Savannah: The “Cerrado” has a well-defined wet and dry season.

A sampling of the rich diversity of bird life in Brazil can be found on the following pages. • Previous Two Pages: Yellow-billed Cardinals (Paroaria capitata). Found in marshes and flooded grasslands, along lake shores and river banks in a relatively small area of western Brazil, these birds actually belong in the tanager-finch genus. They are only distantly related to the cardinal family.

White-eared Puffbird (Nystalus chacuru). These birds get their name from their ability to â&#x20AC;&#x153;puff upâ&#x20AC;? when alarmed.



When most people think of Brazilian birds, toucans come to mind. One of the most colorful birds on the planet, toucans typically range in size from 111/2 inches to 29 inches. More than half of their bodies can be made up of their bills, which they use to reach for fruit and insects. (Theyâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re also known to steal eggs from the nests of other species of birds.) The bill is surprisingly light, made up of a honeycomb of small bones with a spongy inner fiber known as keratin. Page Opposite: Chestnut-eared Aracari (Pteroglossus castanotis). This is one of the most common toucans in Brazil and lives in wooded areas, particularly in the western quarrter of the Cerrado. Above: Toco Toucan (Ramphastos toco) is the largest of the toucans. It lives in wooded areas and in the area between woods and savannah (primarily those with a preponderance of palm trees). The bird can be found in about the lower two-thirds of the country.



According to some experts, parrots are the most exploited birds on the earth, primarily because of their ability to mimic sounds. Most species feed on fruits, seeds, nuts, and some plant material. Of the 350 or so living species, 130 are listed as near threatened or worse by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN); 16 are currently considered Critically Endangered. Above: Hyacinth Macaw (Anodorhynchus hyacinthinus). This is the largest species of parrot in the world. A Hyacinth Macaw can reach 40 inches in length and typically weighs just under 3 pounds. They are hunted by man for their feathers or the pet trade, where they can bring in as much as $10,000 each. Macaws are rarely found outside the Pantanal region of Brazil. Page Opposite: Turquoise-fronted Amazon (Amazona aestiva). Also known as the Blue-fronted Amazon and Blue-fronted Parrot, this bird can be known to live for 100 years. It has a special talent for singing and is a common pet. Its habitat is similar to the macawâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s, although its range is much larger; it can be found in much of the lower half of Brazil.


A number of birds in Brazil sport exceptional tails, including these three. Above: The Squirrel Cuckoo (Piaya cayana) gets it name from the fact that it tends to run along branches and leap from branch to branch like a squirrel. It can fly, but only short distances, and does so more by gliding than flapping its wings. The bird’s primary habitat covers a wide range, from sparsely wooded to semi-open areas throughout Brazil, and from sea level to the upper elevations. Left: Reaching 18 inches in length, the Crested Oropendola (Psarocolius decumanus) lives along the edge of humid forests and woodlands. The male is known to perform a “bow display,” pitching forward on a branch, tail upright and forward, while displaying its crest and vibrating its wings, until is is nearly upside-down. The tail acts as ballast; when it is lowered, the bird returns to an upright position. Page Opposite: The Forktail Flycatcher (Tyrannus savana) has the longest tail in relation to its body size of any bird on earth. Reaching a total body length of as much as 16 inches, the bird lives in open areas with scattered trees. It can be found throughout Brazil.



With eight major rivers, an eastern seaboard, and untold streams, lakes, and swamps, Brazil is home to an abundance of waterfowl. These include: Top: The Cocoi Heron (Ardea cocoi), which is the largest Brazilian heron and can reach 51 inches in height. Left: Wattled Jacana (Jacana jacana), also called the lilly-trotter because it can sprint across water vegetation, thanks to its big, splayed feet Page Opposite, Top Left: Scarlet Ibis (Eudocimus ruber), found in northern South America, where it lives along mangrove swamps, tidal mudflats, and other shallow wetlands. Coloring comes from the food it eats, primarily brine shrimp, which are red Page Opposite, Top Right: Jabiru (Jabiru mycteria), a large stork whose name comes from the Tupi-Guarini language and means “swollen neck” Page Opposite, Right: Anhinga (Anhinga anhinga). Found anywhere from the southern part of the U.S. through much of South America, also known as the water turkey or snakebird; the latter name comes from the way it swims with only its head and neck showing, stretched out flat on the water’s surface 18


Top: Swallow-tailed Hummingbird (Eupetomena macroura), named for its swallow-like tail, is one of the biggest hummingbirds, growing as large as 6 inches from tip of bill to tip of tail. It lives in much of the Amazon Basin, although not in the rain forest itself; it does not like high humidity. An aggressive bird, the Swallow-tailed Hummingbird will attack predators twice its size to protect the area where it feeds and nests. Page Opposite: The Roseate Spoonbill (Platalea ajaja), a gregarious bird of the ibis and spoonbill family, wades in shallow water with its paddle-like beak half open, moving it back and forth sideways, looking for small food items. When it detects prey, it snaps its bill shut, pulls the prey out of the water, and swallows it whole. Although no longer an endangered species, in the early 1900s, it was hunted nearly to extinction for its feathersâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;which were used to adorn ladiesâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; hats. The Roseate Spoonbill likes to nest at the tops of trees; its prefeered habitat is mangrove stands, wet woodlands, and muddy beaches. It can be found everywhere from the Gulf Coast of the U.S. through much of Sout America, particularly east of the Andes.





In addition to the many fantastical birds, there are a number of birds that are quite common in Brazil. This is just a sample: Previous Page: Tropical Kingbird (Tyrannus melancholicus), a large tyrant flycatcher, can be found extensively throughout South and Central America and even into the U.S. Living nearly everywhere in Brazil except the deep rain forests, it is known for the distinctive song it sings just before dawn, continuing until sunrise. Above: Orange-backed Troupial (Icterus croconotus) is a member of the oriole family. Found throughout Brazil, it does not build its own nest but commandeer’s another, even if it is occupied, chasing off the owner and often eating any eggs left behind. Interestingly, it is Venezuela’s national bird. Right: Yellow-chevroned Parakeet (Brotogeris chiriri). Found in much of Brazil (although not along the coast), these birds prefer savannah-like habitats or open woods. They are also common in urban parks and are often trapped for sale as pets. Page Opposite, Above: The Scaled Dove (Columbina squammata) gets its common name from the dark edges of its feathers, giving it a “scaley” look. Page Opposite, Below: Rufous-bellied Thrush (Turdus rufiventris). This common thrush, of the same family as the robin, is Brazil’s national bird. Its habitat includes woodlands and forest edges, savannahs and river-bank growth. It can also be found in parks and gardens in urban areas in eastern and southern Brazil.




Rufous Hornero (Furnarius rufus), a bird as common as a sparrow, in some ways it is more like a chicken, preferring to walk rather than fly and strutting around like a rooster. A kind of ovenbird, it is known for making an “oven nest,” which can take it up to three months to build. In fact, Hornero is Spanish for “baker.” The bird lives in any semi-open habitat in the lower half of Brazil.



With so many species of animals in Brazil, it is a veritable feast for the countryâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s birds of prey. These are just three of them. Page Opposite: Black-collared Hawk (Busarellus nigricollis). This magnificent bird is one of the larger hawks of Brazil, maxing out at a length of 20 inches with a wingspan of up to 53 inches. The bird has feet covered with quills, giving it an advantage when scooping up fish. Left: Turkey Vulture (Cathartes aura). This raptor often looks as if it is drunk, circling its prey leisurely in wobbly circles. A scavenger whose favorite habitat is a wooded (but not heavily forested) area, the bird uses its sense of smell to locate fresh carcasses. It is found throughout Brazil. Below: Ferruginous Pygmy Owl (Glaucidium brasilianum). Found in wooded areas or scrub, these birds like to nest in trees, stumps, or cacti. It is not unusual for them to move into nests abandoned by woodpeckers.

The photos for this story and their identification were provided by Tom and Carol Getz, members of Mesa Verde UMC. Carol has taken many hours of classes and field trips to learn to identify birds of the U.S. and Canada. She has also enjoyed bird watching in Costa Rica, Ecuador, South Africa, Namibia, Botswana, Iceland, Tunisia, England, Brazil, Australia, and Greece. Carol was bird leader for a Sierra Club birding trip to Alaska. Tom enjoys accompanying Carol on birding trips, domestic and foreign, and has extensively photographed birds in the U.S. and many foreign countries. His favorite birds to photograph are hummingbirds, and Tom has the patience to wait hours for a bird to return to a perch, just so he can get a better picture.



Veterans Day


n the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918, the Allies and Germany declared an armistice, a temporary cessation of hostilities. It happened in a railway car in the forest of Campiègne, in France. Although technically not a surrender, it signaled the end of hostilities and spelled out the specifics of Germanyâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s defeat and reparations. Although the Treaty of Versailles was signed June 28, 1919, in the minds of most people, November 11 remained the date that marked the end of the Great War. The first Armistice Day was celebrated in the U.S. a year later. Veterans Day, as it is now called, has changed names and dates over the years, but it has always been a day to honor our vets. While Memorial Day was originally set aside to honor those who had fallen in


Clarence Rethorst U.S. Army 1943-1946

Don Huber U.S. Air Force 1954-1958

battle or as a result of their wounds, Veterans Day is intended to recognize and thank all those who served, both the living and the dead. President Woodrow Wilson first proclaimed Armistice Day, saying: “To us in America, the reflections of Armistice Day will be filled with solemn pride in the heroism of those who died in the country’s service and with gratitude for the victory, both because of the thing from which it has freed us and because of the opportunity it has given America to show her sympathy with peace and justice in the councils of the nations.” In 1926, Congress passed a resolution that the “recurring anniversary of [November 11, 1918] should be commemorated with thanksgiving and prayer and exercises designed to perpetuate peace through good will and mutual understanding between nations.” By 1938, 27 states had made Armistice Day a


Tyler Liggett U.S. Marine Corps 2008-2011

legal holiday. That year, Congress made November 11 a federal holiday. In 1947, Raymond Weeks, a WWII veteran and native of Birmingham, Alabama, organized a parade for the city to honor all veterans for their service. Later, he led a delegation to Washington, DC, urging the name change from Armistice Day to Veterans Day. But it wasn’t until 1954 that U.S. Representative EdJune A ward U.S. Arm shton y Air C 1944-19 orps 45

H. Rees of Kansas put the proposal before Congress. President Dwight D. Eisenhower signed it into law in the same year with a speech that called on Americans everywhere to rededicate themselves to the cause of peace. In 1971, Veterans Day was moved to the fourth Monday in October. However, Congress can mandate only federal holidays; they cannot force states to change the dates of their holidays. And several states did not, resulting in much confusion. In 1978, the federal holiday was moved back to November 11. â&#x20AC;˘

The Tomb of the Unknowns Veterans Day is also the anniversary of the Tomb of the Unknowns, a national memorial to those who have died in service to their country whose remains could not be identified. November 11, 1921, the first unknown soldier, brought back from France, was interred in Arlington National Cemetery at the current site of the tomb and the monument placed over his grave. West of the tomb are the crypts of Unknowns from WWII and Korea. The third crypt originally held the remains of an Unknown from the Viet Nam War buried there in 1984. However, through DNA testing, in 1998, the remains were identified as those of First Lieutenant Michael Blasse, USAF. At the request of his family, his remains were returned to them in St. Louis, MO, for burial nearby. The crypt remains empty. The western panel is inscribed with the words:



Jim Aust U.S. Navy 1966-1970

The servicemen and women in these photos are five of the 22 surviving veterans who attend Mesa Verde UMC.


Mary Renner


A Trip to the Beaches of Normandy By Mary Renner


y husband, Dave, is a huge WWII buff, and I love anything that has to do with history. So after he retired, we decided to take a trip to the site of the Normandy Invasion. We signed up for an eight-day tour that ran June 2-9, 2012, with an outfit called Normandy Battlefields Tours. The tour guide was Carlton Joyce, an expert on the subject of the invasion.

France and England declared war on Germany in September of 1939, two days after Hitler invaded Poland. They could not stop his troops, however, and German forces had swept through the Netherlands, Belgium, and Luxembourg by May 1940. Paris fell; Marshal Petain signed an armistice and installed the Vichy government. Meanwhile, Hitler turned his attention to the Eastern Front. The Allies made headway in the Pacific, North Africa, and Stalingrad, but were stymied in much of Europe.


The invasion of Normandy, code named “Operation Overlord,” began June 6, 1944 (known as D-Day), and lasted 77 days. At the time, Hitler held the European coastline from Norway to Spain, including the province of Normandy, just a few miles off the coast of Great Britain. The purpose of the invasion was to drive the Germans back in order to establish a supply line across the English Channel, a prerequisite to pushing the Axis powers out of Europe altogether. On D-Day, 160,000 troops landed at five sites along a 50-mile stretch of the Normandy coast. The goal was to scale the seawall, disable the Germans entrenched there, and move 6-10 miles inland, taking the strategic towns of Caen, St. Lô, and Bayeux. The airborne portion of the plan poured 2,000 paratroopers behind German lines in the predawn hours of June 6. OperPrevious page: Omaha Beach looking toward Pointe du Hoc. Above: The Longues-sur-Mer site is one of the few batteries of the Atlantic Wall with guns still in place. It is situated between Gold and Omaha beaches. Right: Part of the ruins of the Mulberry Harbor at Gold Beach.


Our tour included visits to numerous battlefronts, including the five beach landings code named Sword, Juno, Gold, Omaha, and Utah. During the war, they had been fortified with what Hitler called the Atlantic Wall, a series of batteries, bunkers, and minefields designed to guard the beachheads. An Allied armada of more than 7,000 vessels moved into place in the early morning of June 6, including cruisers that pummeled the battlements above the seawalls. The amphibious landings were preceded by airstrikes that were more successful in some areas than in others. British and Canadian forces took the first three beaches; Americans took the last two. Sword Beach

Simmi Simons


ation Neptune, the naval portion of the assault, began at 7:00 a.m. and was the largest amphibious invasion in history. In addition, local French Resistance forces sabotaged German supply lines prior to the invasion; some engaged in combat during the invasion.

Mary Renner

was taken with relative ease, although forces there suffered heavy casualties as they moved inland. This was the group that was met by the only armored counterattack of the day, mounted by the 21st Panzer Division. Juno Beach was taken by the Canadians. They came ashore under heavy fire and sustained many casualties early in their deployment. However, they regrouped and pushed inland, driving deeper into enemy territory that first day than any other group. Gold Beach was taken successfully by the British. Allied casualties were heavy until tanks reached the beach area. The primary goal in this sector was to secure and hold the beach and the area directly behind the seawall itself. It was there that the manmade harbor (known as a Mulberry harbor), nicknamed Port Winston, subsequently was built near the town of Arromanches.

Above: Located at St. Côme du Mont on the road to Carentan, this house sat at the intersection of two strategically important roads. One led from the beach, and the other terminated at Carentan, a town the Allies needed to take in order to link Omaha and Utah beaches. The house initially served as headquarters for the 6th German Parachute Regiment. When the Germans pulled back nearer Carentan, the American 101st took it over as a first aid post. On June 8th, fierce fighting took place in the area near the intersection. As the first American tank approached, it was hit by a German Panzerfaust and disabled; its crew killed by the explosion. The dead commander hung from the turret for several days. The American soldiers would refer to this area as “the corner with the dead guy;” later, this was shortened to “Dead Man’s Corner.”

It was Omaha Beach that suffered the worst losses. Very little went according to plan, due primarily to the weather and the rough seas. Swimming tanks and landing craft were swamped, smoke and mist made it difficult to identify landmarks, and the heavy current pushed everything eastward. In addition, German defenses were heavier than expected. U.S. troops waded ashore in deep water, arriving soaked and heavy laden, making them sitting ducks for the Germans.

tions. Of the 2400 tons of supplies scheduled to be landed on Omaha Beach on D-Day, only 100 tons made it. Men and supplies that did make it found themselves bunched up against the seawall at high tide. The second wave of reinforcements had little better luck. At the end of the day, only two small footholds had been secured. Sadly, one of the primary reasons for taking Omaha Beach was to build another Mulberry harbor there. It was, in fact, built. Three days after it went into operation, however, a massive storm moved in and virtually destroyed the harbor. It was decided not to rebuild it. Instead, U.S. troops went after the city of Cherbourg, securing it and its port.

The seawater ruined much of their radio equipment, severely hampering communica-

Utah Beach was taken much more easily by the Americans. Although troops landed a 37

mile south of where planned, they were able to regroup and get on the beach and move inland using alternate routes. Teddy Roosevelt, Jr. was the only general in the first wave. At the age of 56, he was the oldest serving officer and walked with a cane because of arthritis. When he realized his men had not come ashore at the designated location, he said, “We’ll start the war from right here!” He died in France just over a month later of a heart attack and is buried at the American Cemetery in Normandy. There was more effective cover bombardment of enemy defenses at Utah Beach, thanks mostly to the fact that nearly all the tanks had made it onshore and the German defenses themselves were thinner there. In addition, the 101st Airborne Division and 82nd Airborne Division had been engaging the enemy on their own flank for several hours. The true cost of taking Utah beach can be found in the heavy airborne casualties—the 101st lost about 40% of its forces on D-Day. Dave and I and the others on our tour visited several other sites connected with the invasion. We stopped at Pegasus Bridge over the Orne River. It is a rolling bridge, meaning it can be rolled back and forth on curved tread plates. I was amazed to learn that the bridge was secured by a force of nearly 180 men silently sent across the English Channel just after midnight in glider planes. They surprised the Germans, who believed that no attempt would be made in such foul weather. The Germans also thought it was more likely the invasion would take place near Pas de Calais, thanks in part to Operation Fortitude, a subterfuge. The bridge and one Right: Landing cargo at low tide during the first days of the operation, June 1944. The beach was not identified.



Photos Courtesy of Mary Renner

just a few miles away were captured and held in order to keep the Germans from crossing them and attacking the eastern flank of Sword Beach. Pegasus Bridge is now part of the Pegasus Museum, located on the edge of the town of Ranville. Speaking of museums, the tour included a visit to the D-Day Museum in Arromanches. The museum is devoted mostly to Port Winston, the Mulberry harbor constructed just off Gold Beach. It includes photos, several models, and display cases full of remnants from the harbor. Although you can see where the Mulberry harbor had been if you look out towards the beach, it is mostly gone now. It was dismantled after the war when steel was in short supply; the steel was recovered and recycled. One of the most inspiring stops on our journey was at the small Catholic church in the village of Angoville-au-Plain. Early in the invasion, it was used as a first aid station by Allied troops. American medics Kenneth Moore and Robert Write, along with Lt. Edward Allworth, ran the station, tending to whoever needed their help, friend or foe. There was fierce fighting just outside the gate, and at one point the Germans retook the town. Searching it, they found the medical station. Seeing that their

own were being cared for, too, they withdrew and put up a Red Cross flag, helping to ensure that the building would not be blown to bits.

Mary Renner

One of the most touching places on the tour was Ardenne Abbey, a monastery in Saint-Germainla-Blanche-Herbe. Here the Germans captured 18 Canadians at Juno Beach and held them at the abbey. When the Germans moved out the next day, they executed the prisoners, taking each around the corner of the church and shooting them in the back of the head. Today, there is a mural of the 18 on one of the outside walls of the abbey. Above: The price of liberation. It is thought this photo was taken inland of Juno Beach. Later, it was part of a staging area for moving German POWs. Left: Dave standing in front of a German Tiger tank. On D-Day, many Panzer division commanders were not able to move because Hitler had not given the necessary authorization, and his staff refused to wake him to tell him of the invasion.


Mary Renner

Right: Me at the American Cemetery and Memorial. It is estimated that 125,847 men lost their lives in the invasion. In some cases, families chose to have their loved ones sent home. Today, 27 war cemeteries hold the remains of over 110,000 dead from both sides: 77,866 German, 9,386 American, 17,769 British, 5,002 Canadian, and 650 Polish soldiers, sailors, and airmen.

Dave and I also visited the American Cemetery and Memorial, which is just inland from Omaha Beach at Coleville-sur-Mer. The land was conceded to the U.S. government in perpetuity and holds the graves of 9,387 U.S. military men. We were surprised to learn that, prior to the development of the cemetery, the local French villagers sometimes buried our dead in their own cemeteries and continue to this day to tend the graves. In many cases, the flowers on the graves are ceramic, having been thrown during the war when fresh flowers were scarce. The British also maintain a cemetery at Bayeaux. This is their largest WWII cemetery. Interestingly, there is also a large cemetery for the Germans who fell in battles throughout Europe, particularly in France. Also located near Bayeaux, it includes nearly 21,000 graves. One of the highlights of the trip was a chance to attend a commemorative ceremony at St. Mere Eglise near Utah Beach on June 6. We hear so much about how the French look down their noses at us these days, but the inhabitants of this part of France remember us with gratitude. People dressed in period costume exhibited wartime vehicles, equipment, and uniforms. The town was decorated with memorabilia and American and French flags. It was somehow very poignant to see a number of elderly men dressed in their own WWII uniforms. Everywhere we went, people thanked us just because we were American.

We visited other sites along the tour route, too— too many to mention in detail. We stopped at Field Marshal Rommel’s headquarters in Roche Guyon, visited the British Airborne Museum, saw Pointe du Hoc, stopped by the reconstructed city of St. Lô (where nearly 88% of the town was destroyed, primarily in Allied blanket bombings), and visited battle sites from Falaise to Vimoutiers. Having Carlton James as our tour guide made a huge difference in the quality of the tour. The man is 81 years old and has spent much of his life studying Normandy and the invasion. He has spent considerable time interviewing eye witnesses and has a book out called Stand Where They Fought. As a result, he knows the area and its history intimately and knows how to bring it to life. We were pleased to get him as our tour guide and found the tour itself an altogether remarkable journey back in time. •

Mary and her husband Dave are members of Mesa Verde UMC.


Yousuf Karsh


Britten’s A Ceremony of Carols By Matthew Martinez


013 will be a notable year for many reasons, particularly to musicians; there are no fewer than three important musical anniversaries to celebrate. The oldest is the bicentennial of opera composer Richard Wagner’s birth, May 22, 1813. Next year also marks the 100year anniversary of the premiere of Igor Stravinsky’s still revolutionary The Rite of Spring, which took place May 29, 1913. If that isn’t enough to get your inner-musician excited, 2013 also marks the centenary of English composer Benjamin Britten’s birth on November 22nd. While Wagner and Stravinsky may be more familiar names than Britten, the English composer’s legacy is remarkable in its quality, breadth, and unique place among 20th century music. As we approach Christmas, Britten’s most famous Christmas piece, A Ceremony of Carols, will undoubtedly be a popular choice among all kinds of choirs. As a conductor, it presents unique challenges, but more importantly, an irresistible opportunity to reward both choir and audience with a journey through some stunningly beautiful music.


Benjamin Britten wrote A Ceremony of Carols in 1942, relatively early in his career, while at sea, traveling between the United States and England with his partner Peter Pears. Numbered Opus 28, Britten wrote it before his most enduring works, such as the opera Peter Grimes and his War Requiem. While the piece does not have a liturgical function, it is certainly a “church piece,” one that benefits greatly from such a setting both emotionally and acoustically. The modal basis for Britten’s melodies creates a piece of at once ethereal and immediate beauty that seems to have a more meaningful impact in a sanctuary.

Britten uses an unapologetically structured method for his music, and A Ceremony of Carols is no exception. The piece consists of 11 short movements, the first and last of which are a “Procession” and “Recession,” both identical, based on the antiphon “Hodie Christus Natus Est” (“Today Christ S. Cooley

But Britten’s compositional style in this earlier piece is not undeveloped or immature. One feature that he would continue to employ throughout his

career was the use of treble voices, preferably those of a boys’ choir. Britten made extensive use of children’s voices through many of his important works, including the opera The Turn of the Screw, and the aforementioned War Requiem as a means of portraying sincerity and innocence in some of the most dramatic situations. Despite being written for young voices and soloists, the music is fiendishly difficult and is often sung by adult women’s choirs or an adult mixed choir.

Above: Mesa Verde UMC performed A Ceremony of Carols as part of its Christmas Concert program December 9, 2012, using an arrangement by Julius Harrison. Brian Noel was guest harpist. Page Opposite: Counter-tenor Cody Mickelson was guest soloist for the performance. 44

One of the most novel features of the piece is the Middle-English text that Britten sets in all but the first and last movements. Taken from a variety of authors, the text is often easily intelligible, but sometimes not. What Britten recommended, and what many choirs strive to do, is sing the text in modern English as a matter of sheer practicality. Perhaps not as obvious to the audience as the text is the sheer musical difficulty of this piece. Many movements, such as “Wolcum Yole!” and “This Little Babe,” are fiercely fast with difficult canons (where one part starts and the other follows). Furthermore, while much of the harmony is triadic in nature between the parts, the transitions between harmonies are often unprepared. This results in some wonderful “surprise” moments as in the tender “Balulalow” (Lullaby). Perhaps the most difficult movement is “In Freezing Winter Night,” where there is often only a whole step separating the sustained voices, bringing to life the vivid imagery of a “tender babe, in freezing winter night.” Britten paints the shivering into his harmonies with remarkable effectiveness. Given the compact nature of the work, however, even this longest movement is barely four minutes, and it seems fleeting, giving way to the joyous “Spring Carol.”

S. Cooley

is Born”). The seventh movement of the piece is a solo harp interlude that weaves many of the previously heard themes together. The harp is the only accompanying instrument in the piece, which is certainly unusual. With its arpeggiated chords, the harp accompaniment provides a rhythmic motivation for the compact and occasionally manic movements.

Despite the piece’s difficulty, after the last strains of the “Recession,” the audience is left with a sense of majesty and wonder at the birth of the Christ child. A Ceremony of Carols is a piece that is resoundingly popular among all types of choirs, not only as a unique piece of Christmas music, but as a remarkably effective sample of what Benjamin Britten was all about as a composer—one with a unique voice whose music enriched so many of our genres from opera, to choral, to symphonic music. During Christmastime and on the eve of the composer’s centenary, we can think of no more appropriate way to celebrate than with Benjuamin Britten’s A Ceremony of Carols. •

Matthew Martinez holds a Bachelor of Music degree in Voice and a Master’s degree in conducting from UC Irvine. He has been Music Director at Mesa Verde UMC since 2009 and is also Choir Director at Congregation Shir Ha-Ma’alot. He is a classical music critic for and 45

Let Us Speak of Education, Not Marriage


n many societies, girls are not valued as highly as boys. That fact is not new; it was part of our own culture in previous generations. But the statistics today may surprise you; two-thirds of children not in school are girls. December 19, 2011, the United Nations General Assembly voted to designate October 11 as the “International Day of the Girl Child.” On October 11, 2012, its inaugural year, the U.N. sought to focus the world’s attention on child brides. Unfortunately, three days earlier in Pakistan, 14-year-old Malala Yousafzai was shot by the Taliban for promoting education for females. The new U.N. day took a back seat to the story of Malala. In truth, the stories are linked. Girls who do not continue beyond the most rudimentary educational level often cannot do so because they are married off when they are so young. The average sub-Saharan




Part of the problem lies in tradition, part in logistics, and part in economics: girls leave their families when they marry while boys do not; thus boys are a better investment in family wealth, or so the logic goes. This is particularly true in countries where schools are not free. Children cannot attend if their parents cannot pay for books, uniforms, shoes, or supplies. In addition, schools are not always close by, and a family member often has to walk a girl child to and from school to ensure her safety, which can mean several hours out of each school day. And so parents, faced with the inability to educate all their children, educate their boys.

There is an African proverb that goes, “If you educate a boy, you educate an individual. But if you educate a girl, you educate a community.” Speaking as a member of a high-level panel discussion held at the United Nations on the International Day of the Girl Child, Desmond Tutu noted, “Women reinvest more money into their family than men do—so everyone benefits from the higher earnings of girls.” He called the International Day of the Girl Child, “a day to celebrate the fact that it is girls who will change the world.” And if we think that this may all just be histrionics, we only need to look to Malala Yousafzai. Malala is from the infamous Swat District, Pakhtunkhwa Provence, in Pakistan. At age 11, she wrote a blog for the BBC, talking about her life as the Taliban tried to take control of the valley and her views on education for girls. The following year, The New York Times filmed her as part of a story about the Pakistani S. Cooley

African girl from a low-income, rural household, for example, will get less than two years of schooling; she will never learn to read or write or do rudimentary math. Instead, she will be pulled out of school at a very young age and expected to work at home or in the fields until she reaches puberty, at which time her father will give her to a man in marriage. However, chances are her brothers will complete primary education. [] The same holds true for many girls in other developing regions of the world.

Standing Up for Girls Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn, in their book, Half the Sky: Turning Oppression Into Opportunity for Women, make a compelling story for educating girls. The better educated they are, the better the chances that they will not become child brides, victims of human trafficking, or little more than chattel to their husbands. They have a better chance of getting decent health care, less chance of being abused, and more opportunity to help support their families financially. And that bodes well for their children. 48

Fourteen-year-old Malala Yousafzai was shot by the Taliban on her way home from school because she openly advocated for the right of girls to get an education.

...child marriage is considered a violation of basic human rights. It denies a girl her childhood, disrupts her education, limits her opportunities, increases her risk of being a victim of violence and abuse, [and] jeopardizes her health. It destroys human potential, reinforces gender inequality, and turns millions of girls into second-class citizens. military’s taking back the region. She was nominated for the International Children’s Peace Prize and won Pakistan’s first National Youth Peace Prize. The Taliban didn’t like it. On October 9, 2012, they swarmed her school bus on its way home, demanded to know who she was, and then shot her in the head. Ehsanullah Ehsan, chief spokesman for the Pakistani Talban, claimed responsibility for the attack, saying Malala was “the symbol of the infidels and obscenity.” [“Taliban Says It Shot Pakistani Teen for Advocating Girls’ Rights,” Richard Leiby and Michele Langevine Leiby, The Washington Post, October 9, 2012] World response was immediate. U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said, “The attack on [Malala] was abhorrent and cowardly. The terrorists showed what frightens them the most: a girl with a book.” He continued, “Nowhere in the world should it be an act of bravery for a young girl to go to school.” [Part of the U.N. Secretary-General’s remarks at the panel discussion on child marriage on the occasion of the International Day of the Girl Child, October 11, 2012]

Miraculously, the Taliban didn’t kill Malala. But they vow to try again. The International Day of the Girl Child Despite the focus on Malala, events highlighting the International Day of the Girl Child garnered considerable talk in the international community about the plight of child brides. In the U.S., in addition to taking part in the panel discussion led by U.N. Secretary General Bai Ki-moon, Desmond Tutu met with Secretary of State Hilliary Rodham Clinton and presided with Mary Robinson, a member of The Elders [see sidebar, page 51], in a live web conversation with child marriage activists and experts. The events just didn’t get the media attention they deserved. In a statement released by the U.N. for international press outlets that day, it was noted that child marriage is considered a violation of basic human rights. It denies a girl her childhood, disrupts her education, limits her opportunities, increases her risk of being a victim of violence and abuse, [and] jeopardizes her health. It destroys human potential, reinforces


gender inequality, and turns millions of girls into second-class citizens. And yet the tradition continues around the world today. In the U.N. report, “Out of Wedlock, Into School: Combating Child Marriage Through Education,” former U.K. Prime Minister and current U.N. Special Education Envoy Gordon Brown offers up a host of statistics related to child brides. Brown states that child marriage results in early and unwanted pregnancies, posing life-threatening risks for girls. Statistics include: •

1 in 3 girls in the developing world is married before the age of 18

25,000 girls become child brides every day; that’s one child every 3 seconds

Child brides are twice as likely to be beaten by their husbands

In developing countries, 90% of births to adolescents aged 15-19 are to married girls

Among this group, pregnancy-related complications are the leading cause of death for girls and contribute significantly to the mortality rate of their children, accounting for 70,000 deaths each year

ed 28 million out-of-school refugee girls and boys, displaced children in the camps, tents, and shacks of broken-down regimes and conflict zones. Yet today just $3 billion of global aid goes to education, amounting to a meager, shameful $12 per child in Africa, hardly enough to finance a schoolbook and far less a teacher or a school.” [“Why Education Is Every Human Right,” October 14, 2012] Many countries have laws against marrying girls younger than 18 years of age, but they are ignored. India, for example made 18 the legal age for marriage some 30 years ago, but today half the country’s young women are married by then. The majority of child marriages occur in South Asia (46%) and sub-Saharan Africa (38%). [Brown, “Out of Wedlock”] On a regional basis, West Africa has the highest incidence of child marriage, with Mali, Chad, and Niger recording rates in excess of 70%. But the practice is widely spread across sub-Saharan Africa, and in Bangladesh, India, Nepal, and Pakistan. The Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, Fatou Bensouda, said, “The women of the future, the young girls of the world, should not be deprived of their fundamental human right to play and learn and enjoy being children.” [ICC statement, October 11, 2012]

Combating Child Marriage with Education •

In developing countries, education is the strongest predictor of the age a girl will marry

In an interview with The Daily Beast, Brown said, “Ten million girls every year leave education to become child brides, and millions more are trafficked. And in some areas of the world we are not just stalling, but sliding backwards . . . We have neglect50

In his U.N. report, Brown writes, “Early marriage is both a cause and a consequence of girls dropping out of school.” He points to the U.N. Millennium Development Goals of 2000 as the basis for dialog on how to stop this chicken-and-egg phenomenon. Those goals came out of the Millennium Declaration, where 189 nations, including the U.S., pledged to help the

poor. The goals for 2015 include eradicating extreme poverty and hunger, achieving universal primary education, promoting gender equality and empowering women, reducing child mortality, and improving maternal health—all of which apply to child marriage. Brown lists several factors that tip the child-marriage-versus-education fulcrum one direction or another, many of which are related directly to poverty: •

Poverty drives parents to have to choose which of their children get an education.

Poverty drives parents to search early on for what they hope will be a secure future for their daughters.

Poverty drives parents to push their daughters into early marriage; they need the money child bride prices bring.

Families often live miles from schools; getting there can take an hour. Often parents do not have four hours to spare each day. They fear for the security of their daughters who are seen as fair game for rape or kidnapping if they are alone or not accompanied, preferably, by an adult male.

The Elders Changing attitudes on child marriage may seem to be an impossible task. But perhaps not, if it is championed by some of the world’s most influential people. And that’s where The Elders come in. Chaired by Archbishop Desmond Tutu, The Elders is an independent group of global leaders who work together for peace and human rights. The organization developed Girls Not Brides, a global partnership of non-governmental organizations committed to ending child marriage and enabling girls to fulfill their potential. Tutu argues that sidelining women is often a matter of tradition. “If these traditions are man-made,” he argues, “then they can be changed.” The man behind the organization is Sir Richard Branson, founder of Virgin Airways. He and musician Peter Gabriel were travelling together when one mentioned that many communities trust their elders. The other noted that the global community could use its own elders. They began by recruiting Nelson Mandela. Other members include Martti Ahtisaari, Kofi Annan, Ela Bhatt, Lakhdar Brahimi, Gro Harlem Brundtland, Fernando H. Cardoso, Jimmy Carter, Graca Machel, Mary Robinson, and Desmond Tutu. In the speech at the launch of The Elders in 2007, Mandela said of the members of the group, “They do not have careers to build, elections to win, constituencies to please. They can talk to anyone they please and are free to follow paths that they deem right, even if unpopular.” And, it might be added, they can call on almost anyone in the world and get an audience. If reaching local villages begins with a top-down effort on the part of national governments, this group has the muscle to foster that. And that’s what The Elders—and Girls Not Brides—is all about.


Adriano Leoni

This young girl is the right age for marriage, according to many in Nepal. Although the legal age for marriage is 20 in that country, more than 50% of brides are below that age. According to Stephanie Sinclaire, a photojournalist who has traveled the world documenting child brides in the hope of giving them voice, says Hindu scriptures of 400-100 BC â&#x20AC;&#x153;...enjoin the father to marry off his daughter at a very young age. These religious texts indicate that the best age for a girl to get married is between 8 and 10.â&#x20AC;? While programs to educate the populace about the dangers of early marriage do exist, the fact remains that, in many cases, it is a decision based on economics. Grooms pay bride prices and brides leave their homes, thus lessening the number of mouths that family has to feed. Parents marry off their girls early out of necessity.


In some societies, tradition and sometimes religious mandates make the practice of child marriage common, even when it is against the law.

girls’ schooling, and the health problems that early marriage can bring. “The problem [with programs like these],” Brown says, “is one of scale and policy fragmentation.

Schools often do not allow married girls, especially if they’re pregnant, to return to school.

“A global campaign on child marriage and education that brings the issue from the sidelines to the centre of the international development agenda is needed. Over the past decade, global campaigns have achieved breakthroughs in areas ranging from debt relief to HIV/AIDS and child immunization. The time has come to put the hidden crisis of child marriage on the map. [Brown,”Out of Wedlock”]

In the 2012 U.N. Population Fund report, “Marrying Too Young,” the authors noted, “Setting to one side for just a moment the matter of the human suffering involved, it is simply true that the world can ill afford to squander the well-being, talents, and contributions of the 25,000 girls who are married each day.” Former Prime Minister Brown offers several practical strategies to address the poverty issue, including making available grants for school fees, uniforms, and supplies and providing monetary incentives to parents who keep their daughters in school. (Interestingly, the authors of “Marrying Too Young,” state flat out that schools ought to be free and compulsory.) Brown believes that, combined with programs aimed at changing attitudes, these interventions will go a long way to turning the tide on child marriage. Brown mentioned small, local programs that have worked to date and noted, “There is no shortage of good practice—and there is a growing body of evidence documenting what works.” In Senegal, for example, the Tostan community empowerment project has reportedly reduced early marriage through a process of intensive and continuous dialogue across districts and villages. The dialogue includes education on human rights, the value of

“‘Never, never, will we desist till we have wiped away this scandal.’ These words are from a speech by William Wilberforce made to the English Parliament of 1791—and it had to do with abolishing slavery. Ultimately,” Brown notes, “abolition happened because campaigners came together . . . to combat indifference, raise public awareness, appeal to human decency and morality, win the argument, and act as advocates for change. We need to bring the same armory to bear against child marriage.” •

One of the ways The United Methodist Church is involved in the issue of child brides and the education of girls is through the Louise & Hugh Moore Population Project, whose mission is to work with and on behalf of women around the globe, particularly those marginalized, by advocating for the passage of just policies by the U.S. Congress and the United Nations. 53


Courtney K.

Things You Should Do Before You Die By Becky Cote


aving been a paralegal for 30 years, I’ve seen a few estate planning mistakes that people have made. It’s understandable. People don’t want to deal with lawyers, taxes, and decisions regarding death and illness. The simplest mistake I’ve seen again and again is where people do not have a Trust. They think, because they have a Will that states who is to inherit their estate, that their matters are in order. This may be true, but more often than not, the person should have had a Trust in addition to their Will. A Trust serves several functions, but one important aspect of a Trust is that it avoids probate. Probate is a court proceeding that is required when one dies with or without a Will and without a Trust. Probate is a matter of public record—and probate is expensive. If you complete the worksheet on page 59, you will see what your estate would cost to


probate. Remember that, for probate fees, it doesn’t matter what you owe on your house or what your equity is. The formula the court uses is the amount your house would sell for on the date of your death. Also keep in mind that the Executor is entitled to a commission in the same amount as the attorney’s fee, which is why the worksheet shows the doubling of the amount. The following are some examples of real life estate planning issues and things to think about. The Case of the Young Deceased Father One of my husband’s clients, Michael, died at a young age from a heart attack. He was in his 40’s and had a wife, Maggie, and two children, ages 7 and 9. Because of cultural tradition, all of the major assets of the marriage were in the husband’s name alone. Because Michael had no Trust, his estate was probated. Had the assets been held jointly with his wife, Maggie would have become the sole owner on Michael’s death. However, because Michael owned everything in his name alone, the court said that Maggie was only entitled to one-third of the estate. The children were entitled to the other two-thirds. The probate process took a year-and-a-half because of some complicated real property issues. During that time, Maggie’s access to the assets was limited, and her actions as Administrator were under the supervision of the court until the probate was closed. Maggie was required to provide a detailed accounting of all assets, income, and disbursements, and the accounting could not be waived because minor children were involved.


It gets still worse—because the children were minors, Maggie was required to file another court action to set up guardianships of her own children! The court would not allow her to be responsible for the children’s money on her own. Instead, she was required to keep the guardianship proceedings open until the children were 18 years old. During that time she was required to provide annual detailed accountings of the children’s twothirds share of the estate, and any expenses paid on behalf of the children required court approval. When the children reached 18 years of age, Maggie was ordered to distribute the children’s money to them rather than to wait until they were more mature at perhaps age 25. When the funds were released to the children, there was no provision that required them to use the money for college. They were free to spend the money in any way they pleased. Because she only received one-third of the estate, Maggie barely had enough money to make the house payments and eventually had to sell the residence and find a job. Had Michael had a Will, a probate still would have been required, but the assets would have gone to his wife (or whoever he designated in his Will). With a Trust, Michael’s entire estate would have avoided probate and he could have designated his wife to receive his entire estate free from court supervision. William’s Special Needs An older man died, leaving $100,000 in an irrevocable annuity to his son, William. Because the man designated his Trust as the owner of the annuity, and because the annuity was irrevocable, the attorneys could not change the terms, and it was

Yuri Arcurs

the Trust rather than to William. The family hired me as a private Trustee. As Trustee, I received $437 a month on behalf of William. However, in order to pay the expenses of the Trust (including saving for attorneyâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s and tax preparation fees), I deducted $50 a month from the $437 received and then paid William the balance of $387. This seemed like a good plan at first, but then I was informed that William received public assistance. Because of Williamâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s life-long history of bipolar and attention deficit disorders, he was unable to work. He lived with his girlfriend and they had a twoyear-old daughter with Down Syndrome. As a family, they received welfare and food stamp assistance. The problem? William was required to report all income he received, including the full amount of the annuity payment in the amount of $437. Be-

cause of that $437 income, the government reduced his monthly benefit by $437. However, since William was actually only receiving $387 from the Trust, he was losing $50 of much needed income every month. Had Williamâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s father set up a Special Needs Trust, the problem would have been eliminated. A Special Needs Trust allows one to leave money in Trust for someone who receives public assistance. Then the Trustee is able to make payments for certain things that the beneficiary needs without the beneficiary being disqualified for public assistance. There are some things a Special Needs Trust may not pay for, such as food or housing; but other things such as clothing, household items, computer equipment, and even recreation may be paid for, again, without the beneficiary losing public benefits.




No Trust Allocation Having a Trust is not without need for maintenance through the years, and especially needs work on the death of the first spouse, as Mrs. Edson learned after the death of her husband in 2002. She was advised by her attorney that she should work with her tax advisor and the attorney to “allocate” the Trust based on date of death values of their estate. (Simply put, allocation in this case was a matter of dividing the assets into the deceased husband’s share and the wife’s share.) Mrs. Edson was in grief and was overwhelmed at the time and just didn’t want to deal with the task, so she refused to do the allocation. In the end, Mr. Edson’s half of the estate was subject to estate tax for 2002. In that year, the estate tax exemption amount was $1 million. The estate paid tax on half of the amount over $1 million at the rate of 49%. In 2012, the exemption amount is $5.12 million, but beware—the exemption will be lowered to $1 million and the tax rate will be 55% unless Congress enacts new legislation. Joint Tenancy vs. Community Property There is a difference. In joint tenancy, when one spouse dies, only that person’s half of the property steps up for capital gains purposes. In community property, on the death of one spouse the entire property steps up. This may not be a problem for most of us because there is a $250,000-per-person exemption. However, if your home is titled in joint tenancy and you have a large amount of equity in your home, speak to your attorney or CPA. It is a simple matter to transfer title of your home to community property. Of course, it is probably bet60

ter to transfer title to a Trust, but talk to an attorney either way. Advanced Health Care Directive Enough? Most of us have prepared Advanced Health Care Directives (sometimes confusingly referred to as “Living Wills”) and, hopefully, we have designated an agent and alternate agents to make health care decisions for us should we not be able to do so for ourselves. Something to check: Did you name a Conservator? A Conservator is sometimes necessary when we need to be taken care of either because of severe health problems or dementia. Should you need a Conservator, the Court will appoint one for you, but why not choose the person you would like to act on your behalf? And have you talked to your doctor about a POLST (Physician’s Orders for Life Sustaining Treatment)? This is a document that serves as an adjunct to the Advanced Health Care Directive. It is prepared with your doctor and becomes a permanent part of your medical records. In the POLST [see pages 62 and 63], you advise what your wishes are specifically and in more detail than in your Health Care Directive, and it helps give older and seriously ill patients more control over their end-of-life care. More information on POLST may be found at Yes, seeing a lawyer or CPA can be expensive. Thinking about illness and death can be depressing. But, not getting advice from your lawyer, CPA, or doctor can cause more expense, confusion, and anguish than we or our loved ones deserve. • Becky and her husband, George, are members of Mesa Verde United Methodist Church.

Planning Your Funeral By Pastor Mark Wiley As important as it is to have your legal affairs in order prior to your death, it is just as important that you have spelled out in some detail your desires for your funeral or memorial service. I tell people that there are three rules you should follow: Rule 1: Funerals are not for you. Whatever you tell people you want in your funeral/memorial service, they will try to arrange. They will feel honor bound. But there’s a catch; sometimes how you want things to be arranged and what the family needs to have arranged for their grieving may not be the same. Your family will be helped if you say, “This is what I prefer, but do what you think is best for you.” Rule 2: Usually, there is no mandated style of service—funeral or memorial, casket or cremation, open or closed casket. So do it the way you want. Make burial arrangements with a mortuary and provide contact information. Do you want to be buried or cremated? Where do you want your ashes scattered? Rule 3: Write down your desires and make sure everyone has a copy. Frankly, I have seen more than a few families torn apart because of differing opinions when wishes have not been clearly defined by the deceased. If you want to be cremated and your ashes scattered somewhere specific, let people know. If you have a burial spot picked out, tell folks. If you have already paid for the plot, keep the documentation where people can easily find it. Be aware of the costs. If you want to be buried, a casket runs from $3,000-$5,000. Cremation costs

are less. Burial plots are not free and neither are headstones. Newspapaers charge advertising rates for obituaries. The county will provide a set number of death certificates; you will have to pay if you need more. There are usually some costs associated with the church, temple, mosque or mortuary where the funeral or memorial service is held, as well. There are some other decisions you should make and convey to those who will be responsible for your funeral or memorial service. What kind of music do you want played? Background music is often played as people gather or at the reception. Congregational music is music everyone sings. Performance music is performed by a choir, organist, or soloist. List your favorite style of music. List any songs you want played or sung. Decide if you want a pianist or organist. Would you like a choir or soloist to sing? And what do you want them to sing? There can be scriptures, poems, and/or prayers read at the service. If you have any favorite Bible verses, be sure to write them down. Same goes for a prayer or poem. Decide who you would like to do the readings. Prepare a biography of significant events, memories, and history. The best stuff is the funny stuff. If you want someone to speak, you might want to give them fair warning.

Taken from, “Saving Your Funeral From Being Deadly: How to Plan a Good Funeral,” by Pastor Mark Wiley, senior minister, Mesa Verde UMC.




Fruitcake, A Christmas Tradition


ruitcakes are a tradition here in America, despite the fact that any number of people hate them. Perhaps that’s because most fruitcakes sent as gifts are baked commercially and contain no liquor. In general, fruitcakes are made of cake with chopped fruit (candied or dried), nuts, and spices. Soaking them in spirits is optional. In the U.S., they are usually available only during the Christmas season. The earliest known recipe is Roman and includes pomegranate seeds, pine nuts, and raisins mixed into barley meal. In the Middle Ages, honey, spices, and preserved fruits were added. In Europe, butter could not be added to fruitcake until 1490, when Pope Innocent VIII granted permission in a document known as the “Butter Letter” or “Butterbrief.” In America, December 27 is Fruitcake Day and December is National Fruitcake Month. Interestingly, if a fruitcake contains alcohol and is wrapped in alcohol-soaked linen before storing, it should remain edible for several years. Not a happy thought for those who hate fruitcake. •


65 Jodie Coston

Mesa Verde United Methodist Church Mesa Verde United Methodist Church (MVUMC) is a part of the worldwide UMC. Built in Costa Mesa, CA, on land originally called Goat Hill, it is now part of Costa Mesa proper and has been part of the community for more than 50 years. There’s an old joke about a group of elementary students who are asked to bring symbols of their religion to school for show-and-tell. The first child stands up and says, “I’m Jewish, and this is a Torah.” A second child stands up and says, “I’m Catholic, and this is a crucifix.” The third youngster stands up and says, “I’m Methodist, and this is a casserole!” Potlucks are a great symbol for Methodists. Everyone brings something to the table. You won’t like everything, but you will find something new that is wonderful. The conversation is good. The plates are always full, and desserts are free. Methodists like to get things done. We love the Bible and love to worship together. But spirituality isn’t just what we do for ourselves but what we do for others. Our founder, John Wesley, had a saying that has become our motto: Do as much good as you can With all the people you can In all the ways you can In all the places you At all the times that you can. Faith means making a tangible difference in the world. If you’re ever in the neighborhood, feel free to stop by. Everyone is welcome!


A Magazine of Mesa Verde United Methodist Church, Costa Mesa, CA