Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Advance "Praise" From The Abbottsville Fourth

To: Abbottsville Fourth Ward and my wonderful readers
From: Donna Banta
Subject: One final plug for "The Girls"

My book, The Girls From Fourth Ward, is now available in paperback! Check out the amazing cover art by Insanad:
To order click here -- eBook version coming soon.

Advance Praise for The Girls From Fourth Ward:

"Donna Banta's book is obviously the work of an angry and bitter person who no longer lives the Gospel." -- President Knightly

"Sister Banta must have been offended by a well-meaning ward member. I think I'll take her some of my wife's nut loaf." -- Brother Turley

"The Girls From Fourth Ward is FILTH!" -- Sister Loomis

"I guess I missed the point." -- Bishop Zimmerman


Hmm . . . I think the Fourth Ward is a bit miffed because I've neglected their e-mails for a couple of weeks. Can't say I blame them. No offense guys! I promise that after today I will go back to keeping everyone current with the Mormons in the Abbottsville Fourth Ward. (That is, until you delete me from your e-mail list.)


Friday, May 25, 2012

Coming Soon: Abbottsville Fourth Ward Exposed!

To: Abbottsville Fourth Ward and the wonderful people who read my blog
From: Donna Banta
Subject: Another excerpt from my soon to be released novel, The Girls From Fourth Ward

Ever wonder why Bishop Loomis was mysteriously murdered? The shocking "true crime" story begins five years earlier.

Excerpt from The Girls From Fourth Ward:

The twelve-year-old swept the wedding gown into her arms. She caressed the white silk, then held the beaded bodice against her spare chest. Her friend appeared, already dressed in a plain square-necked ivory sheath. Another twelve-year-old stood half-zipped in a generic confection reminiscent of the plastic bride atop the wedding cake. The three struck a classic pose in front of the lavish salon mirror.
Sister Carrie Zimmerman captured their image with a click of her camera. Scarcely twenty and heavy with child, her new role as Beehive teacher taxed her strength. Nevertheless, “Sister Z,” as she was known, felt buoyed by this giddy event. The girls exuded the heady excitement of their new phase. Seventh grade, Beehive class, and a glimpse of the ultimate goal in the mirror before them. The Beehive’s bridal dress-up party at Souter’s Formal Wear was an annual tradition in the Abbottsville Fourth Ward.
Jill Spencer, in the square neck, zipped Betsy Miller’s dress, while Sarah Renfro swished her beaded gown to a dressing room.
“Look happy, Jill. It’s your wedding day,” said Sister Z.
Jill possessed an incredibly fresh smile, startling to those only acquainted with her dour composure. Betsy, on the other hand, could rarely be seen without a smile. Then there was brainy Sarah, shy like a new fawn, the last one into the fitting room. Sister Z wasn’t sure which was sweetest.
Three other Beehives joined them. Debbie Mitchell and Francie Lake were eighth-graders, anxious for their fourteenth birthdays and promotion into Mia Maid class. They feigned disinterest, without even a glance at their reflections. Then seventh-grader April Newsome, who was new in the ward, emerged in a whimsical combination of antique lace and flighty diaphanous layers. Sister Z was not surprised to see April in the most sophisticated dress on the rack, nor was she surprised by how well it suited her. Her family had just moved to Abbottsville from the big city of San Francisco.
“Can I wear it with garments?” April asked the mirror.
Sister Delores Souter, a plump, effervescent sort, chortled her reply. “Yes indeedy. I’ve selected only garment friendly dresses,” she said, referring to the sacred underclothes that the girls would wear upon marrying in the Mormon temple.
“I thought we had to wear long sleeves in the temple,” said April.
“You do,” said Sister Souter. “But the temple workers can give you sleeve extensions.”
Sarah stepped from behind the curtain with arms across her breasts. “This is ridiculous. I can’t fill out this top.”
“Oh, don’t worry dear,” Sister Souter said. “You’ll blossom in no time, and be bursting at the seams.”
The girls expressed polite amusement over this. But Sister Souter, who took great pleasure in her own wit, tittered all the way to the stockroom.
Sister Z continued to play paparazzi. They have so much ahead of them, she mused from behind her lens.
“Now for the veils!” Sister Souter trotted back into the room, her hands resembling colossal gauze mitts.
The room was a squall of white mesh. The first choice was never right. They each tried several. Eventually the lace settled, and the girls gathered before the mirror, adjusting their crowns.
“Sister Z,” said Betsy, “where did you meet Brother Z?”
“At Brigham Young University.”
“See,” said April. “The best marriages start there. It’s the gold standard.”
“My LaRue met her sweetheart at the BYU,” said Sister Souter. “And,” her tone turned triumphant, “that’s where I met Brother Souter.”
Sarah nodded. “The smartest boys from the best Mormon families go to BYU.”
“And then make loads of money,” Betsy added.
“BYU,” Jill said. “It’s a no-brainer.”
“Not a no-brainer,” said Francie. “It’s super hard to get in.”
“Why not go to Utah Valley State?” Debbie asked. “They accept everybody, and it’s right next to BYU.”
Sarah yanked up her oversized bodice until it nearly met her chin. “Culturally it’s miles away.”
“Utah Valley State is for losers. Do you want to spend your eternity with a loser?” said April.
Sister Z decided to take advantage of a teaching moment. “Girls, you don’t have to go to BYU. In fact, you don’t have to go to college at all. The man you marry doesn’t need to be smart or rich or from BYU. He only needs to be worthy to marry you in the temple.”
The Beehives nodded, visibly awed by the reference to the sacred temple ceremony.
Sister Zimmerman adopted the countenance of a solemn child. “Heavenly Father’s most righteous spirits are lingering in the pre-existence, waiting to be born into the one and only true church. They are to be your sons and daughters. If you do as the Lord asks, and magnify your calling as wife and mother, you will be exalted in the eternities to the highest level of the Celestial Kingdom. This is Heavenly Father’s plan for you and it begins tonight.”
The girls looked down and fingered their gowns.
Sister Z continued. “I know Joseph Smith was a prophet, who spoke directly with God. I know Gordon B. Hinckley is a living prophet who guides and directs our church today. And I know that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the one and only true church on the face of the earth. I leave these things with you, in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.”
“Amen,” they repeated.
Sister Z brightened. “Change your clothes and we’ll go for ice cream.”
They flew like fairies to the dressing rooms. Sister Souter bustled behind to collect their gowns. But Sister Z could only sink into a chair and stare out the window. Across the street, girls worked at the barre in the Abbottsville Dance Studio. More young women practiced volleyball in the gym at Sally Ride Junior High. Some sipped milkshakes at the local Foster’s Freeze. Others were glued to TV or computer screens. For most girls in Abbottsville, the future was a mystery, a fuzzy picture that would sharpen with time. But for the girls in Fourth Ward, it was already all figured out. 

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Coming Soon: The Girls From Fourth Ward

To: Abbottsville Fourth Ward and the wonderful people who read this blog
From: Donna Banta
Subject: The Girls From Fourth Ward, a novel

Over the years on Ward Gossip I have reposted emails from Bishop Brent Loomis "whose shocking murder remains unsolved." Finally, the truth behind his mysterious devise will be revealed in my new novel, The Girls From Fourth Ward. It will be available as both a paperback and an ebook soon. Here is an excerpt:

     Bishop Loomis of the Abbottsville Fourth Ward relaxed behind the expansive mahogany desk in his church office. His volume of scripture was precisely aligned in the desk’s top left corner, telephone top center, pen and pencil cup top right. His appointment calendar lay square in the center of his fine leather desk pad, opened to today’s date.
In spite of his many obligations, the bishop felt at peace. Never in his life had he been so confident of his own opinion, secure in his relationships, and proud of his work in the Kingdom of God.
      In fact, his calm was so complete that when his office door opened, and he looked up to greet the familiar face, he did not even notice the gun that fired a bullet square into the center of the neatly pressed, starched white pocket that covered up his heart.   
More to come! 

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Brace Yourselves Sisters, It's Another Mother's Day Tribute

To: Abbottsville Fourth Ward
From: Bishop Paul Zimmerman
Subject: This Sunday's Tribute to Mothers

We live in perilous times. The Constitution is hanging by a thread, our president (who should be tried for treason) recently endorsed gay marriage, and everywhere we turn we see people putting off marriage to have "too much fun," as well as women who are taking over! Now, more than ever, it is important that we clearly define a woman's divine role. Because of the extreme urgency of the message, this special service was planned carefully in advance, then vetted and approved by the Bishop, the Stake President, the Church Correlation Committee, the General Authorities, the Romney Campaign, and God.


Below is an outline of the program along with approved excerpts from the talks:
Sacrament Meeting
Presiding: Bishop Paul Zimmerman
Abbottsville Fourth Ward -- Mother's Day Service

Conducting: Bishop Zimmerman
Pianist: Sister Peterson
Music Director: Brother Souter

Opening Hymn: #322 Come all ye Sons of God
Opening Prayer: Brother Harold

Ward Business: Bishop Zimmerman

Sacrament Hymn: #171 With Humble Heart
Administration of the Sacrament by the Aaronic Priesthood

Youth Speaker: Esther Renfro -- "The Best Mom (not) in the World."
"My friends at school like to brag that their moms went to fancy colleges to become doctors and lawyers and stuff. Then I tell them that my mom went to Relief Society to learn how to make living room furniture out of PVC pipe, hot glue and styrofoam. That pretty much shuts them up."

Special Musical Number: Primary Chorus -- Sunshine is Special 

Speaker: Sister Jeanette Evans -- "Babies are Special."
"The other day when I was changing little Jimmy's poopy diaper, he looked up at me and said 'Ga-boo-be-bah' -- just like they were his own little words -- and, oh my heck -- I told myself I wouldn't cry -- but babies are just so special!" 

Special Musical Number: Young Women's Choir -- Smiles are Special

Speaker: Brother Wilford Bromley -- "The Most Respected Role on Earth."
"Dear Sisters, you care for our children, clean our houses, cook all of our favorite meals, tend our gardens, do our laundry, buy our groceries, iron our shirts, darn our socks, are always available in bed, don't expect a dime, wait on us every waking moment, let us do all of the talking, hang on our every word, and never complain. After all of that, how can we possibly NOT respect you? Anyway, why do you care?"

Closing Hymn: Cinnamon Rolls are Special (words are on the back of the program)

Benediction: Brother Newsome

In order to show that we Latter-day Saints are a progressive, open-minded, egalitarian people, the Aaronic Priesthood will then hand out a flower to every sister in the Relief Society, even those who are single, childless, divorced, employed, "so called lesbians," or for some other selfish reason can't catch or hold on to a man.  

Upon completion of the distribution of flowers, ward members are released to the Cultural Hall for a four course Mother's Day feast, prepared and served by the Relief Society.

If you would like to stop receiving these e-mails, we'll still give you a flower.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Earning Her MRS Degree

To: Abbottsville Fourth Ward
From: Ruthie Renfro
Subject: Doing my darndest at BYU-I

Dear Abbottsville Fourth,

So it's Summer Session before my senior year at BYU-Idaho, and I know what you all are thinking: When's our Ruthie going to get her MRS? Golly, I wish I knew! All I can say is I'm doing my darndest!!

For starters, I'm taking, Economics, Algebra, Linguistics, Geography, and Logic.

...Now, I know what you're thinking, A-4, what's our dum-dum Ruthie doing with that schedule? Actually my reasoning is super smart. In every one of those classes, I'm the only girl in the lecture hall! Tee-hee! I'm joining as many sturdy groups as possible. ;-)

Also, I cook for 7 different guys' apartments, do housekeeping for 5, and iron for all the RM's I can rip the shirts off of. Unfortunately, 9 of the 27 missionaries I was writing have returned, but I keep a weekly correspondence with the remaining 18. Of course, all of this activity makes it hard to keep my grades up. But that might be a good thing. The more classes I flunk, the longer my senior year drags out!! ;-)

Speaking of those 9 missionaries who recently returned, 1 of them still isn't engaged!! Don't worry A-4, I'm on it! I just asked him to this Saturday's dance!! Oh, and guys, check out how I did it. First I sent him a super fancy invitation I handmade out of construction paper, pipe cleaners, and glitter. Then I sent him an e-vite. Then I blew up a life-sized cardboard cutout of me all decked out like Lady Gaga emerging from an egg (only modestly dressed, of course), snuck it into his room, and rigged it to play my voice singing "Don't be a drag -- let me be your queen" the minute he walked in the door. Then, just to be sure I got his attention, I spelled out "Dance Me" on his car windshield in unscrewed Oreos. Now I'm posting PLEASE SAY YES!! on his Facebook wall every 10 minutes until I hear back from him. I hope that covers my bases. Ordinarily it would, but it's senior year, and I can't leave any stone unturned! Better start tweeting him too.

Needless to say, I'm doing everything I can to make you proud A-4. The last thing I want is to embarrass or let you down. Also, it's super important to me to be an example to the Young Women. For one thing, I am happy to be the first female at BYU-I to take Logic!!!

I can't tell you how much I appreciate all of your prayers and e-mails. And that ward fast you held to help me with my weight loss is really working! As of this morning, I'm down 1 1/2 pounds!! With any luck, I'll slim down even more. -- Then maybe this time next year, I'll be filling up some maternity clothes!! ;-)

Keep praying for me guys!

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