Monday, December 23, 2013

Week Twenty-Five


  It has been written that it all began with a new star in the heavens, heralding the advent of the sacred babe in Bethlehem. Yet a record of this event predates the star by thousands of years, when the Firstborn of the Father fully accepted and covenanted to fulfill the role critical to the whole of the Plan of Salvation and to become the Savior of the world. We find ourselves this Christmas season wondering about those animals privileged to be there as the only witnesses, other than Joseph and Mary, of this sacred event. Were they too selected for their role and will they someday bear witness of the wonders of what they saw as we ourselves, wonder and give reverent thanks to the joy that swells our souls in recognition of this seminal event.

The London family, members of the Lake Forest ward brought to our attention a story appearing in the Meridian magazine about a young boy in Eastern Europe being adopted by a Haddock family in Lindon, Utah. At eighteen and following some very special dreams, he receives his mission call to the country from which he came and is assigned unknowingly to the very town where his mother and other relatives are living. I told them we were not related to our knowledge and we marveled at the many “coincidences” that brought this story to fruition.

Brother David Bass also of the Lake Forest ward has been appointed to the role as City Councilman in Lake Forest and we along with many members of the ward attend the city council meeting for the ceremonial swearing in performed by another member of the ward who is a sitting Superior Court judge. I mentioned his all dressed up in his robes and he said, “They are good to hide food stains.” The Mayor announced the program beginning with the swearing in and then a five minute recess to allow family and friends of Dave Bass to leave. Nearly the whole crowd got up and left during the recess.

We had lunch with the Lake Forest elders at Chipotles, our first visit there, both the salad and tacos we had were delicious. We then took them over to meet  the One family as Elder Marrs’ home is very close to where Brother One was raised and he wanted to meet this new elder. We had a pleasant visit with Brother One explaining how the hundreds of Christian faiths were designed to meet the needs of their members but he is unwilling so far to draw the conclusion that the very thing he describes is reason for the restoration.

A mission wide Christmas Party was held on Thursday with each zone doing a skit, two stories from a professional story teller and Christmas music from the mission choir. The event lasted nearly five hours but we didn’t.

Elder and Sister Johnson, who live in Nellie Gail, a posh area here in Laguna Hills, invited fellow Senior Missionaries to dinner Friday evening. A house across the street and down two or three homes was in the ABC Battle of Christmas Lights and is drawing big crowds. So they also invited one-half of the Missionary Choir (40 members) to carol in their driveway for about one-half hour. Several stopped briefly on the way to and fro but a man and woman lingered, joined in the singing and remarked that I had a good base voice and was standing on the wrong side of the sidewalk. Of course Jan had been talking with them for about 15 minutes already even though nary a one of the missionaries in the crowd, probably 20 or more, had spoken with a single individual. They were Mike and Elaine Gold, she from Bristol, England and working as a Nanny just down the street on Mustang Drive and he from the Bronx, strong accent and all. We had a nice friendly visit. She asked, “I can’t believe this family would organize a choir to sing in their driveway.” We explained we were missionaries, what we did and what Church we represented. They attend the Basked of Life Church. Elaine also said that the used to love to carol in England. They would knock at the door first and ask if they could sing a carol. When invited to do so they would commence to sing. They took one of our cards and as they were leaving we noticed the choir, the watchers, and all the other missionaries were gone. It was exciting that we alone had made the only contact and that only happened because of Jan’s perpetual willingness to open her mouth as the Lord as directed.

We learned there was a possibility with a new set of Seasoned Missionaries coming out that we could relocate to an apartment closer to the wards we are serving but after giving it consideration with all the trouble we had in lining us doctors the thought of moving seemed too daunting.

Spent considerable time in discussion with Jan as to why the area has not been more productive missionary wise. We have two very missionary minded bishops, two WML who are terrific, a gang of ward missionaries in each ward who are doing everything they can and three sets of young missionaries who faith, diligence and effort seem outstanding. Yet the results are sparse. The idea that the Lord won’t touch the hearts of those who are ready because the members are not ready to receive and bless them doesn’t seem to hold water. Is it a fact that there are no people, families particularly, in this area who are ready? In other words it doesn’t matter what is being done. Do I have the right to importune the Lord in this matter? How come investigators are not coming to the door asking for baptism as I had so often happen on my mission? Lots of questions as our hearts begin to yearn for these young missionaries.

In meeting with the Six family Sister H mentioned that she had spoken with our grandson Trajan who moaned when he learned we still have another year to go. To which Brother Six said, “Well, next time you talk with him tell him there are people here who are sad that you only have another year here.”

We called and set up an appointment for us to visit the Fifteen Family and share a Christmas message with their two children, Audrey and Nathan. I read the Little One Christmas story book and they were so touched by the story we felt to give the book to them.

About twenty minutes before church Sunday, the WML called and had an emergency necessitating him taking his oldest daughter to urgent care. He asked if I could take the Gospel Essentials class for him. I said certainly what did he want the message on and he said Joy. So I was able to teach the class with Brother Two in attendance for the first time I had taught a class. He called to tell express his appreciation. “As you began to teach a special spirit came into the room. It made me at ease so I felt I could comment and participate. I think Jesus was with you because you were so confident and at ease.” I told him I suspect that He was teaching him rather than me.


Week Twenty-Four

WEEK TWENTY-FOUR December 16, 2013

We were invited to breakfast with the One Family a little bump in the road whose sign didn’t even carry all the letters of the name, yet inside was a nice clean diner whose patrons were mostly police, fire fighters, city workers and school teachers. Sister H and I shared French toast (best I’ve ever had) and a plate of eggs, bacon, and potatoes. Just proves you really can’t tell a book by its cover AND the importance of checking with “locals” to find where to eat. We enjoyed a nice gospel discussion together and have gone from “why are you here” to “can you come over” in our relationship. We haven’t been able to pull of the Elder and Sister though, we are Jerry and Jan to them. The relationship has been so warm both Brother One and I have wondered if our paths crossed when I was serving in Erie, PA and he was attending Edinboro State.

Had another Melchizedek Priesthood preparation discussion with Brother Twenty who is shooting for January to visit with the Bishop. He seems very earnest.

We invited the Elders Quorum president of the Aliso Creek Ward to visit with us with the Twenty-first family. Although baptized nearly a year ago in Elsinore, the ward was divided and the new bishop suffered a stroke leaving this young family largely on their own. They then moved to Irvine and with the last couple of weeks into this ward. President Miner had asked if he needed to prepare anything as we were going to discuss the Plan of Salvation and I told him no. But as we all sat together visiting I felt impressed to change the subject and told Brother Twenty-One that we were going to quiz the Elder’s Quorum President. So I asked him what he did for a living, how he met his wife, about his family, then did the same with his first counselor, second counselor and secretary. Asked for quorum objectives, how welcome Brother Twenty-One would feel in the quorum, whether he would be receiving a HT assignment quickly and whether a HT would be assigned to their home. In nine months in Elsinore he had never been asked to HT and their HT had only made one visit. The President was terrific, very warm, caring and supportive. I think if was a better visit than discussing the Plan of Salvation as this was that plan in action.

We have been working with Brother Two to receive the Melchizedek Priesthood when it occurred to me that when older brethren receive the Aaronic Priesthood following baptism they miss out on the opportunity of administering the Sacrament. So with the permission of the bishop I contacted the elder’s quorum president, the same who had visited the TwentyOne family with us, who just happens to be the home teaching companion of Brother Two, to see if he would assist by sitting at the Sacrament table with Brother Six. He gladly accepted and got with Brother Two regarding the format and particulars. Sunday he performed the ordinance of the Sacrament. The bishop told me, “He did it like an old pro. I looked over to him and nodded when he finished and he gave me a thumbs up sign with a big grin.” Sister H and I were in the other ward so missed out on the experience but when I sent him a text of what the bishop said his response was “I was quite anxious. So the power of prayer was demonstrated.” Left me to wonder if anyone before has ever given a thumbs up sign after speaking the Sacrament prayer. Wish I had been there to see it. I’m quite confident the Lord was pleased.

One of the young missionaries in the Aliso Creek ward asked me how one could tell the difference between their own thoughts and promptings of the Holy Spirit. He was particularly interested in how to act when there seemingly is no answer. I told him experience had taught me he was asking the wrong question, i.e., is it the Lord or me? So proceeding along that path would only lead to further confusion, self-doubt, and worry over something that is meaningless. In other words his question just didn’t really matter.

The proper questions one needs to ask may include: Am I living worthy to enjoy the companionship of the Holy Spirit? Have I sought the Lord in the way He has appointed? Do I have the requisite real intent, i.e., am I fully committed to follow whatever direction the Lord gives, regardless of consequence? Have I committed the appropriate effort to determine for myself the answer to my question? Have I reached a conclusion that fits my experience and common sense? Is my decision in conformity with the Holy Scriptures and living prophets? Is this decision within my realm of stewardship? Does this decision lead me toward Christ? Am I willing to patiently wait upon the Lord, both as to His timing and as to His method of answering me?

If the answers to those questions are positive, then he should proceed, trusting the Lord and giving Him the credit for everything. You have chosen to live so the Lord can trust you and are willing to act regardless of consequence. Should such honest actions be in error the Lord will gently intrude, when the time is right, and you will be given course corrections enabling you to be and stay on the path the Lord directs.

We had lunch with the Two family and Dinner with the King family of the Lake Forest Ward and met several new couples. All on Jan’s birthday. What a way to celebrate.  

We also attended a dinner with many from our Bible Study group and we were going to see the Follow the Star program but got interrupted with some other visits that needed to be made. But the next night we took the Thirty family, the ones who decided we weren’t weird and the Six family to Follow the Star. A Live manger scene complete with animals sponsored by the Santa Margarita Stake and a crèche exhibit of several hundred manger scenes. The presentation was about twenty minutes and excellent. They welcomed the community to this gift from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The Thirty family asked for us to wait as they went back to pick up a picture of the Savior that was being presented. They were very impressed. Then the six of us had dinner at Macaroni Grill in Irvine.

One of the home teachers arranged for us to visit along with them to a single sister, the ThirtyThird family, who had joined the church in Menifee but has not progressed very much. We got well acquainted. She told how she has trouble understanding the Book of Mormon and accepted our invitation to visit regularly to discuss the Book of Mormon. We promised to get a couple of books for her and come back for another visit.

We held Family Home Evening with the Six family as they hadn’t “gotten around to it” yet. We brought the treats, a game, and the lesson and had their seven year old daughter conduct. Everyone seemed to have a good time. There was so much laughing Brother Six called the next day to apologize and I told him that was how all our family home evenings went. In fact, I told him, we pulled the drapes as we didn’t want neighbors to see just how much fun we were having. I think we gave them a new vision of what FHE could be. Brother Six said he was having a hard time with “this becoming God’s” stuff. As I question him the concern was how we could ever displace God. I told him, “Whatever it is you attain unto beyond the veil, God will always be the boss.” “Oh,” he said, “Now I understand.” His wife called the next day to tell us that little comment had made a big difference for both of them.

Sister H had a nice visit on the telephone with Sister Sondra Jones, our good friend back home and learned about their family. She also sent Sister H a happy birthday message (as did the Relief Society) that was appreciated.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Week Twenty-Three

WEEK TWENTY-THREE December 9, 2013

Each day fly’s by so fast I’m beginning to wonder if we will be able to accomplish anything when we get home. There just isn’t enough time in a given day. We are sure having a hard time shoehorning in everything we need to get done out here. Seems we get up, then its lunch, and dinner and we’re off to bed.

We’ve been meeting with the Nineteen Family seated around a table as I keep finding myself drawing what I am trying to explain. Each time one of the dogs sniffs around Jan’s purse which is on the floor. They told us that one night on the dog’s bed was a rubber band bracelet the 11-year old daughter of the Fifteen Family had made for Jan and 4 unwrapped but uneaten cough drop all from Jan’s purse.

We had our first discussion, a very engaging one on the godhead, with the Twenty-first family this week. In asking whether they we had covered the subject thoroughly enough for them, the both remarked, she a lifelong member and he recently baptized, that they had learned more about the godhead than they had ever been exposed to before. Next week we are going to review the testimony of the living apostles and prophets of Jesus Christ. We encouraged them to write up the inspiring story of the two dreams that led to Brother Twenty-first’s baptism.

Meeting with Brother Twenty he was anxious for more information from the Bible as the need for authority in Christ’s church. That has been a recurring theme. In fact I had a bible study meeting scheduled this week to cover that topic but it had to be postponed to later in the month. Holiday season no matter how often I hear (I heard the same thing as a young missionary) that Christmas is such a wonderful time to share the gospel I have not found that to be true. People are just too busy and have little time for anything other than family. Made a suggestion to the bishop that this brother who is unable to work be considered for some volunteer duty at the Bishop’s storehouse to keep him busy and engaged and the bishop said he would follow up on that.

At their request we had a wonderful meeting with the One Family. The change in our reception has been remarkable as they have actively been seeking us out to share gospel messages with them.

Our scheduled meeting with the Nineteen Family was cancelled and they didn’t accept our invitation to come with us to the Sing Noel Christmas presentation of the Santa Margarita Stake on Saturday evening, just too busy. Wow, what a presentation. The quality of the musicians, the singing the orchestration and presentation itself were beyond anything we could compare it with. What a wonderful experience we were absolutely thrilled with it all. As a nice side note we have the Six Family and the Thirty Family there with us. The Thirty Family are friends of the Six Family who when they were invited had a very unflattering view of “senior missionaries” imaging us in dowdy clothes and pulling a wagon filled with Bibles. After the visit and presentation they told the Six Family, and maybe the best compliment we have ever received, “They are not weird at all.” We also received an invitation from them for dinner this holiday season. They live outside our mission in Anaheim Hills. So remember friends, we are not weird at all.

I have tried to enlist the support of home and visiting teachers to set up appointments for us with families they feel we could bless with our special talent of “time.” This week a home teacher in the Aliso Creek arranged for us to visit a sister with them, the Thirty-First family who is an enforcement officer with IRS. She had two large cats and by large I mean close to mountain lion size so I found myself silently praying that I could survive the allergic reaction I have to cats, praying that my throat would not well shut as has normally happened. I was wise enough to locate a sit far from any perch. We had a good visit, not sure how often we can visit there however although we would be welcome. When we got home I hung my clothes outside our room for a couple of days and immediately took some Benadryl and other than some coughing, congestion and tiredness for a couple of days, made it okay thanks be to God.


1.    Jesus Christ organized His church with priesthood authority during His mortal ministry
2.    He continued to direct His church through the priesthood after His resurrection
3.    The apostasy and loss of priesthood authority was foretold
4.    The need for a subsequent restoration was prophesied

Jesus received His instructions from His Father in Heaven and personally instructed and directed the leaders of the church

HEBREWS 1:1-3               Instructed by the Father

MATTHEW 16:16-19         Church to be directed by revelation

MATTHEW 28:19-20         He would guide church leaders from heaven

JOHN 14:26                      Holy Ghost sent in fulfillment

ACTS 10                           Peter directed to teach gospel to the whole world

The ordinances and principles of the gospel are only administered through the priesthood

HEBREWS 5:4-6               God have this authority to Jesus Christ

Christ ordained apostles and gave them power and authority of the priesthood

JOHN 15:16                      I have chosen and ordained you

To maintain order in the church, Jesus gave the greatest responsibility and authority to the Twelve Apostles

EPHESIANS 2:19-21         Church was carefully organized and compared to a building, its sure foundation being prophets and apostles

MATTHEW 16:19              Peter was appointed the chief apostle

LUKE 10:1                         Seventies appointed in pairs to assist the Twelve

The pattern and appointment continued after Christ was resurrected

ACTS 1:1-2                       Gave commandments to the Apostles through the Holy Ghost

ACTS 1:23-24                    Revelation from heaven designated who was to be called
The priesthood was necessary to do missionary work, perform ordinances, instruct and inspire Church members and maintain order and consistency, until—

EPHESIANS 4:12-13         Come to a unity of the faith, unto a perfect man

The organization of the Church was intended to continue

ACTS 13:1-3                     Priesthood ordination by the laying on of hands following revelation

EPHESIANS 4:4-6             One Lord, one faith, one baptism

The Bible predicts the great apostasy

ISAIAH 24:1, 3, 5-6            Transgressed laws, changed ordinances, broken everlasting covenant

AMOS 8:11-12                   Famine from hearing the word of the Lord

ACTS 20:29-30                  Apostasy within the church established by Christ

2 THESS. 2:1-3                 Christ will not return until after there has been a falling away first

2 TIMOTHY 3:1, 5             Apostasy will come because people deny priesthood authority

Paul’s letters are perhaps one of the best witnesses of the eroding forces washing away the foundation of the Church as he spends considerable energy trying to smother the flames of apostasy

GALATIANS 1:6-7             Marvel you are so soon removed from the gospel of Christ

Since God loves all his children in all ages, His gospel, including ordinances and authority, was introduced in the beginning of time

Moses 5:58-59                   Gospel preached from the beginning by an holy ordinance

Alma 13:2-7                       Ordained unto the high priesthood, which order was from the foundation of the world

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day is the Church of Jesus Christ, re-established 6 April 1830

D&C 1:30                          The only true and living church
D&C 115:3-5                      A standard for the nations

Monday, December 9, 2013

Week Twenty-Two

WEEK TWENTY-TWO December 2, 2013

Had another visit with the eye doc for Jan and learned we had some hemorrhaging on optic nerve in her right eye. We think this came from the visit with Dr. Normand in Newport Beach. She is also noticing some vision changes. So there is some concern. But later in the week, on Friday evening, with my brother Rick in town and nephew Nick we gave Jan and blessing and the Lord seemed to say “don’t worry” which caused our daughter Kerri to text that we need another blessing to keep her from worrying. It was really a nice blessing to have my brother in town at the right moment to add his faith to the process.

Attended our first transfer meeting. Never had anything like it in my mission as a young elder. On Saturday evening those involved were told they needed to be to the meeting but not where or who was going. At the meeting a name was called and the new companion and area with each assignment apparently required to show more enthusiasm than any previous. Quite a wild event. I’m glad we just got a phone call of letter telling us to be somewhere at a certain time. Members have to bring the missionaries to the transfer meeting and sit there about two plus hours for it all to unfold. Told the mission president if he was considering changing my companion I was going home. He laughed.

At the transfer meeting one of the zone leaders asked me "What is the Priesthood? I know what it does and why it is necessary but what is it? For example, I know what gasoline does but I also know the chemical composition of gasoline, that's what it is." Mom asked him if he wanted me to send him something and he said, "No my mind is already too jumbled up." As I thought about the question I think that only as resurrected beings can we enjoy the power and glory that God has but a portion of that power and glory is given to us on the earth to prepare us to receive the fulness as resurrected beings in the world to come, and that portion we call the priesthood. So I suggested this definition which seemed to come to me—The Priesthood of God is a manifestation of the power of God, being a portion of the light and glory God possesses and the “channel though which all knowledge, doctrine, the plan of salvation and every important matter is revealed from heaven” (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, 166-67) and is delegated to and becomes operational in man only through faith, righteousness and the will of God.

We received an invitation for Thanksgiving dinner on Thursday, turkey gumbo and another dinner on Friday and a third thanksgiving dinner on Saturday. We were well taken care of as we had three more dinner offers that we couldn’t accept. As a young missionary had back to back thanksgiving dinners once and thought I was going to suffer a slow death by bursting of the stomach.

At the Thursday dinner me a sister from England who shared with us a lot about Yorkshire and the North Riding. She believed the name Haddock came from that area. When I looked at the letter my great-grandmother Haddock wrote to my grandfather describing there conversion it was in Middlesbrough, North Riding, Yorkshire. Even though the family had lived in Wales for two hundred years, at the time of their conversion, they and her parents, all born in Wales, were living in Middlesbrough. It was fun to hear about the area, the people and the things to see there. I was able to present a message at the gathering.

Friday we shared turkey gumbo with a member family and non-member relatives the Twenty-ninth family, and a message about Christmas. Must have hit the right notes as there wasn’t a dry eye in the house. A very sweet spirit prevailed. We first looked at the video Christmas is Christ. I shared that the focal point in human history was the birth of the Savior which was represented by a new star in the heavens. The birth was witnessed by the young Joseph, a beautiful virgin mother and animal who had not the power to utter the sacredness they saw. I pointed out that shepherds would soon arrive and sometime later wise men. Eventually there would come Santa Claus and Frosty and Rudolph—and all would be welcome according to Elder Holland. Just a little family No toys. No tree or tinsel. That was how Christmas began. Then shared President Hunter’s suggestion for a new star—“ This Christmas, mend a quarrel. Seek out a forgotten friend. Dismiss suspicion and replace it with trust. Write a letter. Give a soft answer. Encourage youth. Manifest your loyalty in word and deed. Keep a promise. Forgo a grudge. Forgive an enemy. Apologize. Try to understand. Examine your demands on others. Think first of someone else. Be kind. Be gentle. Laugh a little more. Express your gratitude. Welcome a stranger. Gladden the heart of a child. Take pleasure in the beauty and wonder of the earth. Speak your love and then speak it again.” Following that visit we made contact with my brother and his son and their family.

Saturday morning we helped clean the Lake Forest chapel which surprised everyone. Had dinner with the 6th Family and another discussion with them Sunday.

The Two family had some needs and called asking us to pray for them. We were happy to receive a note of appreciation thanking us for “all your prayers great day today. Apparently that went so well, a few days later we were invited to pray for Sister Two’s sister who was also in need. While Sister Two was away we had hot dogs with the rest of the family and continued our discussion on preparation for the Melchizedek Priesthood.

Had a number of meetings cancelled this week again with the respiratory virus taking the area by storm. The 21 Family hoped to be over things by the week after Thanksgiving. We are still laboring under this as well. We placed a thanksgiving card on the doorstep of the 19th Family who were also unavailable, which read “Two wonderful examples of Thanks-living” and shared the following quote from Harold B. Lee, “Gratitude is expressed in prayer and thanksgiving; but more so in living lives of honor and integrity, of kindness and compassion, in awareness of others and their needs, and an honest expression of gratitude for all those who bless and affect our lives for good. Thanksgiving is best expressed in thanks-living—in lives of goodness and obedience and love and service.” (Harold B. Lee, Ye Are the Light of the World (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1974).

Shared with our ward mission leaders my thoughts on our skill as senior missionaries. The one thing we can offer that no one else in the ward can offer is time. Even retired couples don't have the time that we have just because of the demands of everyday life that we have left behind. It occurs to me that using that "skill" we might be able to accomplish the objective of Hastening the Work (members and missionaries working together) by encouraging Home and Visiting Teachers to be on the lookout for needs that "time" can address and coordinating with us to set up appropriate appointments with those families.


Saturday, November 30, 2013

Week Twenty-One

WEEK TWENTY-ONE November 25, 2013

This was the second tough week due to illness. There is a viral respiratory illness going around that both Sister H and I have been fortunate to participate in. As a consequence several meetings were canceled this week by folks who were similarly afflicted and some more because the families didn’t want us in their homes sharing our condition with them. So we have had lots of time for study, contemplation, planning and sleeping. That last one was something I didn’t participate in frequently as a young missionary and now it seems invaluable.

In reflecting on our Seasoned Missionary experience we’ve determined that we are pretty good at going around making friends and giving comfort. So far we’ve had several express their appreciation for us being here how their lives have been touched as a consequence. Sister Nineteen told us, “I was on the telephone with  a fellow school teacher I worked with for years, she is a Mormon and I was sharing with her our progress working with you a commented that you were truly Saints. She said to me that all members of the church are saints and I had to tell her, ‘Now Brother and Sister Haddock really are Saints.” Brother Two said, “I don’t know why you got called to this mission but as far as our family is concerned we think it was just for us.” Such comments remind us again that when one is in the service of their fellow man they are only in the service of God. We are continually amazed that the Lord has been able to make us appear in such a manner to others to accomplish His purposes.

I was asked to do a followup by our District Leader to the mission conference presentation I have on Adjusting to Missionary Life. I prepared a handout sharing with them President Boyd K. Packer’s comment that “Lehi’s dream or vision of the iron rod has in it everything a young Latter-day Saints needs to understand the test of life” (BYU Devotional address, 16 January 2007; BYU Speeches) suggesting that the resource booklet is about handling the ups and downs of life by learning to apply the Atonement thru Self-Help. Treatment, and Atonement giving them ten of the things I have learned about applying the atonement:

1.       In the mists of our darkness the Savior does not merely point the way or shout encouragement from the shade of the Tree of Life, He is the means to get there

2.       As the iron rod, He is the only way to our desired end and also our protection against the mists of darkness and the taunts of the world (See 1 Nephi 15:24; Helaman 3:29-30; 5:12)

3.       Not a single person makes it to the tree of life without taking hold of the iron rod.

4.       No one makes it on their own, no matter how hard they tried

5.       Everyone that let’s go becomes lost, even after partaking of the fruit

6.       Gritting your teeth and bucking up and pressing forward is not enough

7.       Because Christ is both the means and the end we need to see the iron rod not as a railing along a narrow path, but as the Savior whose outstretched hand and arms of mercy are open wide to receive us.

8.       With you hand in the Savior’s, only then does your pressing forward lead you to the tree.

9.       You don’t have to find your way to the tree. In fact, you can’t. You just need to find your way to the rod, reach up, take hold, and hang on.

10.      This is the pressing forward with a “steadfastness in Christ” and a “perfect brightness of hope” which enables you to endure to the end.

When the Nineteen family cancelled because of an emergency and then again because then didn’t want our affliction I felt remiss in not shoehorning in the elders to pick up for us. Having never served in an area as a young missionary where we were even within driving distance of other missionaries the thought never came to my mind. Trying to rectify the situation I called the missionaries encouraging them to drop by. They did call but could only leave a message and there was no response from the message left.

Had a nice meeting with the Six family in which some requirements that might prove tough for them regarding baptism came up quite naturally in a discussion about how a bishop handles certain matters. Their questions allowed us to present examples in many different instances that were helpful to them. On our way home Jan commented about how many things had arisen in our discussions that had I never served as a bishop we might not have had the answers the individuals were seeking. To her it was a testimony of how the Lord prepares each of us for experiences that don’t arise for many years down the road.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Week Twenty

WEEK TWENTY November 18, 2013

We are in the process of assisting four brethren in preparing to receive the Melchizedek Priesthood. In fact, as the number expanded I felt the need to create a teaching schedule and outline for them to follow. Right on cue the number of priesthood blessings has risen as well this week; two for comfort which were immediately answered; one for a medical procedure that caused great dread in the sister but worked our “miraculously” for her, and another for a little boy hurt in an accident whose facial wounds were healed within the week to the delight of his parents. So the Lord in His goodness was a special blessing to four individuals in need this week and we were blessed to witness His comfort and aid.


1.             Godhead
Doctrine of the Priesthood
2.             Plan of Salvation
Journey of Mortality
3.             Atonement of Jesus Christ
Justice and Mercy
4.             Dispensations, Apostasy and Restoration
Priesthood Keys
Reestablished not Reformed        
5.             Revelation
6.             Priesthood
What is the Priesthood?
What are Priesthood Keys?
Oath and Covenant of the Priesthood
Difference between Power and Authority
Ordination and Setting Apart
Performing Ordinances
Role of Priesthood in the Family
Patriarchal Order of the Priesthood

In fact this has been a week of blessings. In the Newport Temple this week on a ward assignment felt a prompting to put the names of one of our grandchildren on the temple prayer roll. Seemed like a strange request to me but I so enjoy praying about those the Lord has asked me to pray for and this was very similar. So I entered the name. When I got home I told Jan what I had done and how surprising it was to me. She said, “Call his mother and you’ll know why.” I did and learned that I had a grandson in need. To think that the Lord in His caring style would prompt me to do something for him in his behalf without me even knowing about the situation was nearly overwhelming and as I have thought about it since the personally seeing the touch of the Master’s Hand has taken on even a greater meaning to me.

Sunday the Nineteen family had promised to come to church. We stopped by on Saturday and reconfirmed with them and I gave them a little write up I had prepared for them entitled the Oneness of the Father and Son. Well Saturday night I found myself transported back to a 19 year-old missionary. Praying feverishly, awakening several times during the night asking such questions as: will they come, will the talks be right, will the meeting schedule work, will they relate well to the ward members, will they fit it, etc. We had ward council early that morning so I apprised every one of their attendance. Right as the meeting was to start they came walking up the aisle. Jan had saved some seats in the chapel and we sat with the two of the between us. They have expressed a concern about the lifestyle changes required for membership in the church. The speakers were from the high council. The first spoke about the demands the Church places on us and used several of the ten commandments showing their modern application for us today. The next high council speaker spoke about his neighbors who into three discussion bailed because they weren’t ready to take on the time commitments but then explained how what the family had missed was how much he enjoyed being active in the Kingdom and serving others. Sunday school the same issue came up and several in the class shared their ideas and how easy it had been whereas prospectively it had appeared daunting. During Priesthood meeting it came up again and the group leader explained how the Holy Ghost modifies and changes ones feelings, likes and desires as we come unto Christ. A couple of brethren came up to Brother Nineteen and introduced themselves saying they had been in his home when he had first investigated the church ten years or more ago. They participated in Sunday school and Jan said the sister did in Relief Society as well. After the block I took them on a tour of the building and the bishop graciously invited them into his office to visit with them. Sister Nineteen was in tears several times throughout the day and told me “every talk and meeting was directed to us.” Brother Nineteen said, “Everything felt just right. I loved being here. Felt at home. There is a special warm feeling here.” They decided not to go home immediately to their yapping dogs as they wanted some quiet time to talk together. Priesthood opening exercises were a little rowdy especially with one of the bishop’s sons putting on a performance so Brother Nineteen leaned over and whispered to me, “I remember it being more serious before.” During the high priest meeting he leaned over again, “This is how I remember it.” So all my concerns and anxiety and everything turned out better than I could have even hoped for.

Met with Nineteen family early in the week and had a discussion on the Book of Mormon. Had given them Helaman 5 and 2nd Nephi 31 to read which they had done and came prepared with written outlines and questions from each chapter. She pointed out verse 14 in 2nd Nephi with its warning that if one falls away after baptism “better for you that ye had not known me,” and said, “Years ago when I had looked into the Church, I remember this verse and it frightened me. I wasn’t ready then. I told the Lord I wasn’t ready. But now it’s different. There is a different feel about it.” Brother Nineteen again born testimony to the truthfulness of the gospel and said, “I know I’ll be baptized sometime before I leave this life.” The difference even he recognizes is that this time his wife is serious about investigating which is the thing he had apparently wanted all along.

Found an excuse to go by and visit with the Fifteen family and were warmly welcomed. She shared the joy and tears she felt when her children walked up to the front of the chapel to participate in the Primary children. It came rushing out with such force I believe the husband was touched as well. Hope to get him to church someday. He would be such an asset to the Lord.

Brother Twenty told us at our meeting that he had set a goal of January to be ready to receive the Melchizedek Priesthood, his two year anniversary since being baptized.

Zone Training focused on planning the last half hour of each day and made it sound like drudgery and a great sacrifice. We even heard the suggestion that the Lord wanted it done than because that was the hardest time to do it and therefore the greater sacrifice. Throughout the training I received powerful promptings using the creation as a pattern for effective training. So the next morning in my personal study time I put together this little outline on the thoughts that came to me during the zone meeting.


Gerald R. Haddock

Heavenly Father taught us the importance of planning and the pattern we should follow in our planning, when He shared experiences relative to the creation of this earth.

1.             Counsel together. They counseled among themselves. (Abraham 5:1-3)
2.             Establish our principal objective. To bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man. (Moses 1:39)
3.             Review prior plans and performance. The grand councilors sat at the head in yonder heavens and contemplated the creation of the worlds which were created at that time. (TPJS 348-349)
4.             Visualize the objective being accomplished. All things were created spiritually before they were naturally upon the earth. (Moses 3:5)
5.             Set deadlines. On the seventh time we will end our work. (Abraham 5:2)
6.             Make Decisions. Thus were their decisions at the time that they counseled among themselves. (Abraham 5:3)
7.             Covenant and act according to the plan. The Gods acted according to all that which they had said. (Abraham 5:4)

There are at least two critical reasons missionary daily planning is done the evening before.

1.             A careful review of the current day, comparing that day’s plan with performance, measures performance and enables tools necessary to make adjustments in our planning and performance the following day.

2.             It opens the windows of heaven allowing the whisperings of the Spirit and dreams of the night to settle upon us as the dews from heaven, bringing to our understanding such minor corrections, as may be necessary, enabling us to effectively implement our plan the Lord’s way.

Planning the evening before is not a sacrifice, rather an opportunity the Lord extends to increase our efficiency and prepare His way. Such planning increases our sensitivity to the voice of the Spirit and recognition of the will of the Lord, and instills confidence in our plan and power in our actions.

In fact during this week also wrote articles on Oneness of the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost as well as Priesthood Authority Necessary. All little bite size pieces four pages or less.

Received a call from the One family. He being worried that they had missed us last week. We hadn’t come by because of her recent knee surgery and Jan’s infectious coughing. But it was nice to hear they had missed us. Said Sister One, “My husband so enjoys visiting with Elder Haddock. He felt so badly that he may have missed a visit this week because he didn’t get to the door fast enough. On Sunday, Sister Four had similar comments asking us to come to dinner with them and begin teaching her husband.

We had dinner this week with Elder and Sister Litchfield from Payson, Utah. He is the Finance person for our mission and she the secretary. Great couple. Fun to be with them. We’re both hoping we can make a visit to Los Angeles Temple Christmas decorations this season.

Met with the Six Family. I think we became acquainted and friends with them in the pre-earth life. Hit it off with them marvelously. Had quite a discussion of marriage and divorce, what a bishop does when he counsels, how he treats things, what causes divorce, when proper, etc.

Finished the week after church visiting with a Sister Twenty-three in a nursing home. After some time were able to communicate somewhat with her and she accepted an invitation for us to visit with her frequently. She is in a sad situation physically and Jan was stunned to learn she was our age. Reminded of many of the things we saw in Jan’s mom when she was in her mid-nineties.

One of the finest missionaries I knew in the mission field as a young man was Elder Paul Searle who recently wrote "I am enjoying your mission tremendously." If this blog is useful to him as our son-in-law Mark Wadsworth has said it is useful to him, then I guess it is not much of a sacrifice to take the time to record these thoughts.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Week Nineteen

WEEK NINETEEN November 11, 2013

I think I’ve figured out what a Member and Leadership Support (MLS) missionary (the senior missionary couple version of a proselyting missionary) is, and it all has to deal with time and friendship. First, what Sister H and I have that no one in either of the two wards to which we have been assigned has, is time. Even the retired couples do not have the time we have because they are still shackled by the day to day cares from which we have been freed in accepting this call. Second, our assignment in a nutshell is going around making and being friends. It’s almost like being continual home and visiting teachers. Not having the same restrictions on visits that the young missionaries have, we can spend the time developing friendships, supporting members and nonmembers, and just being there to serve whatever the need.

The Nineteen family made an interesting observation relative to the above as we went out to dinner with them this week in celebration of Sister Nineteen’s birthday. Said she, “We’ve been talking about something we observed last night at the restaurant. When the two of you are teaching us the gospel, Jerry takes the lead and Jan chimes in with interesting and heartfelt observations, always very timely. When we were at dinner last night, Jan took the lead in our conversations. We thought it was interesting how the two of you work so well together.” As Sister H and I gave consideration to their observation we concluded they were right on all counts.

We shared the Restoration lesson with the Nineteen family this week. He bore testimony that Joseph Smith was a prophet of God and Sister Nineteen offered her first prayer, a heartfelt prayer of thanks for the atoning sacrifice of the Savior which had all of us teary-eyed. We also watched a short video together. They shared their enthusiasm for the mini-MTC visit and the teaching of Sister Smith and Toomey. They still plan on coming to church with us next Sunday.

This has been a tough week for Jan suffering from a virus which has induced spasmodic and to her, embarrassing coughing which has limited our activity. Those people we did meet with continually asking her if she is alright, what can we do, do you want a drink of water, is there something we can get for you. To spare our district and zone missionaries we skipped the district meeting this week as well as the zone meeting with the stake president Saturday morning. I saw him at church Sunday and he asked about Jan’s health and when I told him it had slowed us down this week he said, “You both probably needed the rest anyway.” Probably true!

Sister H sat in the car as I continued our instruction with Brother Twenty in preparation for him receiving the Melchizedek Priesthood. I noticed at church Sunday that our visits with him the last four or five weeks has opened a friendship with him which he demonstrated in greeting and sharing some things with me at church Sunday.

Also this week I led the discussion in our bi-monthly bible study group in Aliso Creek on the Resurrection. We had four non-members in attendance and some informative one-on-one time with each following the study group.

We were given the name and contact information later in the week for a non-member who had called one of the bishops wanting to participate in the church welfare program. He said under the circumstances he thought contact from a former bishop such as myself might be better than turning it over to the young missionaries. So we plan to visit him early next week when Sister H is not infecting people.

We met with the Twenty-First family for the first time. He just joined the Church a little over a year ago and she a lifetime member. They just moved into the ward and have 4 and 2 year old daughters. They accepted our invitation to prepare him to receive the Melchizedek Priesthood and prepare to enter the temple, so we will begin meeting with them on a weekly basis starting next week. When they were getting serious her mom told her she would rather she remain single throughout her life than marry a non-member so she broke up with him and spent several days in tears. He had a remarkable vision finding himself in a wasteland which he had to pass through to get to her and a city of light and color. So they got back together and married. Nearly a couple of years ago the dream or vision was renewed only this time he was part way through the wasteland and he knew he needed to be baptized. About the third missionary discussion his vision cleared and because of the humility of the missionaries whose interest seemed to be in him personally and not his getting baptized, he opened his heart and received the confirmation of the Holy Ghost.

We met with the Two family Friday night to complete our discussion on receiving the Melchizedek Priesthood and noticed how much more accepting their little children, ages 7 and 5 are to us. On our first few visits they wouldn’t come near us or even talk to us. I guess we have been in their house enough to be accepted. Sunday we visited again to give a blessing and the 7 year old ran up to me and gave me a hug, welcoming me to the home.

Brother Two has a step-brother who has had some long term issues and he felt a blessing would be helpful for him. As we were arriving at our Sunday Ward Council meeting my phone rang and it was Brother Two. He had gone and picked up his brother and mother and they were at his home. He wondered when I could come by to give his brother, a non-member, a blessing. I told him I had some time between the meeting and the start of the meeting block and asked the WML to go with me. As I entered the house while the WML was talking with Sister Two outside, the 25 year old brother greeted me with, “Are you the one who is going to give me a blessing?” We talked for some time as I asked him questions to see where he was about receiving a blessing, helping him to understand the importance of both a blessing and choices he had to make in giving up certain things that were afflicting him. He told us he had been an atheist but all that gave him was a face full of dirt and he wanted to find God. We shared with him how to do that encouraging him to meet with the missionaries where he lived and I then asked his mother, a Jehovah’s Witness, if she would support him in visiting with the missionaries. I had to ask her 7 or 8 eight times as she kept dodging the questions. The last few times the young man pleaded, “Mom can’t you see he is trying to help me and I need the help.” Finally she said, “Yes, I will support him. Whatever he needs to get better I am all for it.” The WML then did a wonderful job of explaining the priesthood and a blessing. I talked about the two parts, anointing and blessing. When the spirit confirmed we were ready we proceeded with the WML anointing and I sealing the blessing which was warmly received by the young man, the mother, and the brother. I later received a text from Brother Two which read, “Your work here today was much needed and very much appreciated. My brother has never in his life received any thing as loving as was done for him today.”

In the Gospel Essentials class I was privileged to teach about our Heavenly Father and bear my own humble witness of him.

We had another visit with the Six family which, because of some of his questions regarding priesthood lineage, ended up with a portrayal of what his priesthood lineage would look like should he be baptized and I bestow the priesthood upon him. He seemed genuinely pleased that it traced back to Joseph and the Savior. I asked what we needed to do to make this happen for him as we both wondered when he received the Melchizedek Priesthood would the Stake President choose to ordain him an Elder or a High Priest as he has been meeting with the High Priests the past seven years. I had hoped this would open the final door for him by asking him “Let’s find out?” but again that moment passed without him accepting the invitation.

Found a convenient excuse to visit the Fifteen family and seem with the non-member father who warmly accepted us into the home and visited with us in a very open manner. Sister H commented “I think we are now welcome in this home anytime.” Sister Fifteen found herself crying in the primary Sacrament meeting today and said to us and her husband, “I have never been so affected by seeing my children participate today.” Their daughter who has a budding pen pal relationship with our granddaughter told us she had sent her a necklace that she had made.

After Sacrament meeting a brother and sister approached us asking if we would come to their home the Friday after Thanksgiving for some turkey gumbo and meet with a non-member couple. We said yes and they said, “Great we will get back in touch with you in a few day to work out the details,” and then left, neither Sister H or I knowing their names. During the priesthood opening exercises I spotted the brother and asked the fellow beside me who he was. He told me he couldn’t remember his name. That sequence was repeated three more times, no one knowing the brother’s name. I then asked one of the ward missionaries we work with and he gave me a name but sounded so unsure I didn’t trust what he said. Later I described the fellow to Sister Jackson, one of the sister missionaries in the ward, asking he if she thought that was Brother Jacobson, not the name I had been given. She and I felt pretty sure it was and in the ward correlation meeting I described the fellow and asked the WML who confirmed our suspicions to which Sister Jackson gave me knuckles which thrilled her trio companionship when I responded.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Week Eighteen

WEEK EIGHTEEN November 4, 2013

As we serve I continue to see many differences between our service today and mine as a young missionary. To prepare myself then I memorized over 2,000 scriptures and developed considerable facility in using them effectively. However, the mental ability to memorize and retain at this age I find to be very different but also different is the lack of fear afflicting us “seasoned” missionaries. Should the spirit be kind enough to bring to my memory scriptures important to the discussion at hand I happily use them. But when that is not the case I don’t fret and simply bear testimony to what I know to be true and allow the Holy Spirit to teach our investigators directly. I have also noticed that making simple comparison like parables enables one to teach effectively, for example, “If you were Heavenly Father and wanted all your children to enjoy the same joy and happiness that you enjoy, what principle would you find to be important?”

We met with the Nineteen family and presented the first half of the Restoration discussion and showed the DVD on the same. Again another wonderful discussion in which they expressed appreciation for our visiting with them, what they were learning, and her experiences with prayer, something she hadn’t done before. Although brother Nineteen already has a testimony of the Prophet Joseph Smith this is sister Nineteen’s first foray into studying the gospel and boy has seen been diligent in completing her “homework.”  We gave them a copy of Elder Nelson’s book, “The Gateway we call Death,” for her to review and share some comfort with neighbor Sharon who passed away with Cancer and her memorial service is next Sunday. They asked to keep the Restoration DVD to show to their niece so we left that with them and had to hightail it to the mission office to pick up another copy for a different family.

As we were leaving we received a text from the WML asking if the Donatos’ would participate in the mini-MTC on Saturday evening at 6 p.m. Sister H wasn’t anxious to make the call fearing it might upset the applecart. But she finally did and sister Nineteen was most gracious and said yes they would entertain some priests or laurels teaching a discussion to them on Saturday. Since Bishop Smith had been very receptive to the family’s needs a few years ago at a trying time and since the husband had such a sweet experience studying with sister missionaries several years ago I suggested to the bishop that if he could engineer his daughter being assigned her with another Laurel we would make both the family connection and the sister missionary connection. He said he liked the idea and would make the recommendation.

On Saturday evening we picked up Sister Toomey and Sister Smith fresh from their MTC experience that day to teach the Restoration to the Nineteen family. They were so poised and confident, so earnest and engaging that although the husband had been told differently he felt to ask, “How long have you sisters been serving?” Sister Toomey in her presentation had mentioned Christ as being our Elder Brother which caught the wife’s fancy, saying she had never considered that, “but it’s true isn’t it.” When the family shared that as they have progressed it is dawning on them that the Church requires a total commitment and a total life style change for them that has given them some pause, Sister Smith said ever so sweetly, “Well to me I don’t think of it as given up things so much as I see giving back.” To which the wife said, “Yes, you are right.” When the husband commented that tithing might be tough for his wife, Sister Smith countered that she had learned that she is able to do so much more with her 90% than she ever could with her 100%. The wife paused and said, “I had not considered that. That’s right I would still have 90%. That’s a good way to look at it.” The husband bore testimony to Joseph Smith being a prophet of God and expressed concern that these two pretty innocent girls will soon have to go out in a very evil world and warned them accordingly. The wife said should they serve missions they will probably experience many slammed or shut doors but not to give up. The together shared testimony that their relationship has noticeably been better since they have been meeting with us, their focus is much more consistent, and they have felt a sweet peaceful feeling in their home that was not there before.

Monday evening we took the Nineteen family out to dinner to celebrate her birthday which was Sunday. That’s another difference with a young missionary, never got to do that before.

We had our third Melchizedek Priesthood discussion with the Twenty family in preparing him to receive the Melchizedek Priesthood.

At In-N-Out for a quick bite we ran into the Twenty-Two family. He a former disc jockey in Los Angeles on KPOL and a recent author of several books written in news clip style. As we alighted from the car he pointed to our Utah license plate and with pride told us of his relationship with Dick Evans of the Tabernacle Choir who he featured regularly on the radio. He was 84 years of age. I commented that my grandfather was on KMPC in the San Fernando Valley. He is a faithful Christian, graduated from the Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena. We enjoyed a very pleasant discussion. I asked him if he remembered the gardens where Korla Pandit used to play the organ which I had mentioned to Sister H visiting as a youth. He did, it is Descanso Gardens in Flintridge, just north of Glendale. We need to get that on our calendar.

We had another nice productive discussion with the One family. She just had knee replacement surgery and is only a couple of days into therapy. He being surprised at the time it is going to take for her to be up and going. We tried to view a video they wanted to see but their equipment wasn’t working. It seems when the carpet was cleaned all the equipment was moved, then moved back, but all the cords are disconnected. I saw nine different ones in back of the TV. Her sister was there helping both of them.

We had lunch with Brother and Sister Two and later met with him for his next to last discussion on receiving the Melchizedek Priesthood. They again told us how much their lives have changed with the gospel and how important our serving here has been in their adjustment. Said he, “I’m thinking the reason you were called to this mission was for our family.”

A special stake priesthood meeting was called as the first counselor in the stake presidency was released and needed to be reorganized. I drove Brother Six to the meetings praying that the Lord would direct the conversation so I could learn what was holding him back from being baptized. On the way over we discussed the value of the church to parents in raising a family. The new counselor had shared some experiences his missionary son had recently both in following the promptings of the spirit and not following them. As we were driving home I told Brother Six that of all the wonderful blessings in the Church I think the gift of the Holy Ghost is the one I prize the most and then shared a number of experiences both in physical safety and being in the right place at the right time in being directed by the spirit. He said a number of audible wow’s. I then suggested that what we needed to do was get him in a position to receive the Gift of the Holy Ghost, that he needed that gift. “Yes I do,” he responded. Unfortunately that coincided with the end of our journey. He thanked me profusely for the ride and for spending  some time with him.

When we met later that evening for our weekly discussion I noticed he was much more engaged in the discussion. Between our trip this morning and the discussion this afternoon I received this text from our son Chip about our grandson Chase which seemed so appropriate to share with Brother Six tonight further to our discussion regarding the Gift of the Holy Ghost. “Chase saw himself testifying of the Book of Mormon in testimony meeting during a dream last night. So, in obedience, he gave his testimony today in sacrament meeting and it was wonderful. Shared 2 Nephi 32:3 and that he used to read, just to read. This summer, he has started to pray each time before reading to invite the spirit (something he and I had talked about) and that the words have come alive and many spiritual experiences have followed. He then told how he knows of the books' truth. It’s a typical Haddock experience, no great sign or miracle, but a powerful burning knowledge. How could a father be more proud of any accomplishment in life of a son than this?” When I finished reading the text to Brother Six who was clearly impressed both with our grandson and the experience the Lord had given him also remarked, “What a wonderful experience? That boy is certainly on the right path.” To which I replied, “And that is the path we see you on.”

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Week Seventeen

WEEK SEVENTEEN October 28, 2013

In the course of a discussion on receiving the Melchizedek Priesthood, Brother Two who has used his lesser priesthood to bless his family already, wanted to know what the difference was between giving a blessing as a priest or as an elder. That initiated a discussion of the difference between a prayer of faith and speaking in the name of the Lord. Later in the week we had another discussion on the Melchizedek Priesthood in which I asked the questions I would have asked as bishop and we discussed his answers. At the end of the week on Sunday we met again to finalize things and were invited to dinner. We had eaten at 6:30 a.m. and then been involved in meeting all day until 7 at night without a thing to eat so the invitation was eagerly accepted. Thank goodness for Sundays because on our schedule I think I’ll pack on 10 pounds this mission just from In-N-Out.

We also had a discussion with Brother Twenty regarding receiving the Melchizedek Priesthood, who having read the 84th Section of the Doctrine & Covenants as requested, greeted us with the questions, “What if I change my mind?” So our planned discussion went out the window as we attempted to answer the question he felt in his heart. We invited him to attend a Bible study cottage meeting the coming Thursday which he did come to. Our discussion that night was on the final words the Savior spoke as he hung on the cross. This brother added some very insightful comments.

As we entered for our meeting with the Nineteen family the wife was in tears as that day the ambulance had picked up her neighbor, the one who had cancer and for whom we had been praying. We had another wonderful meeting with the Nineteen family thinking we were moving on to a discussion about the restoration, but instead we spent another 1 ½ hours on the Plan of Salvation as the sister had thoroughly digested the pamphlet and marked a number of items she want to review with us. They shared some powerful stories about their life even one very dark time when she found her face pressed against the glass doors on the Lake Forest Chapel, her arms outstretched and palms against the glass as well as tears cascaded down her face. In great distress the noticed a small sign on the door which read, “In emergency call Bishop Smith.” So she did and he came and cared and offered hope. A decision was made sitting in the parking lot of the chapel a week or so later that put to rest the darkness and charted the future.  The husband who is retired good naturedly said, “I’m not sure she could ever pay tithing.” This caused the wife to tear up and say, “When I consider all the blessings God has given me how could I begrudge Him 10%.”

Had our first meeting with the Seventeen family and shared a number of techniques in handling stress and letting go of overpowering thoughts. When we got home there was a message on our telephone thanking us for coming and for the beautiful and thoughtful prayer Jan offered, which, she said, showed you understood my concerns and all that is happening to me. She mentioned how Sister H had pled for her in her behalf. She was also impressed by the sweet and caring spirit we brought with us and looks forward to further meetings with us.

The Nineteen family called to inform us, at our request, of the passing of their atheist neighbor at 2:00 p.m. the day before. Said she, “But fortunately I was able to be with her at 8:30 and I prayed for her the way you taught me to pray to Heavenly Father and there was a sweet spirit of peace.”

Brother Two had called earlier in the week to see if we could do a baptism for the dead for his father on Saturday. When I called the temple they told us Saturdays are assigned to stakes for their purposes and she didn’t know which stake had it or whether they were coming and encouraged us not to come adding that if we didn’t have names there would be nothing for us to do anyway. I called again to see if I misunderstood. Is there really nothing we can do for a recently baptized individual who wants to perform temple work for his ancestors? No, I was told, short of bringing 7 brethren with us to take care of manning the ceremony. I was about to call the brother to apologize when I decided to call again. This time a different part answered me informing me that they did baptisms for the dead for the YSA every Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday mornings at 8 a.m. I told her we only had one name to do and called the brother who to my surprise told me he could make it Friday morning. So I called back and schedule the baptism. Jan wasn’t feeling well so I drove to the Temple alone feeling vulnerable all the way until Brother Robinson, the WML of the Aliso Creek Ward pulled in behind me and escorted me to the Temple. Brother Two arrived and I learned he was just going to miss work for a few hours because “getting docked a paycheck was certainly worth performing this work for his father.” We had different workers than the week before who were much more accommodating and more pleasant to work with. I was asked to offer an invocation for the service and as I prayed it was as if the veil was lifted and I saw and felt the presence of those on the other side. The words I spoke were not my words as a sense of destiny and power fell upon me. One other sister had arrived to participate and I was to perform the baptisms. First we did 10 confirmations each waiting for Brother Two’s wife and son to arrive and then I performed 10 baptisms for the sister and ten for Brother Two and then his father. For some reason the feeling was very different as a took hold of Brother Two for his father. My voice even sounded different to me. The spirit was nearly overwhelming and as we concluded we hugged for some time in the water before confirming him in behalf of his father. As we left the temple he commented that his father had always wanted to be baptized and he had converted to the Jehovah’s Witness faith when he married but they didn’t allow him to be baptized. And now he was not only baptized but by the proper authority as well. It was a thrilling experience. I found myself thinking as I drove home, just how much the attitudes and actions of temple workers contribute to such rich experiences. I wonder if they appreciate the role they play. I tried to think of that all the time we served as ordinance workers. Had we had the workers of a week ago I’m not sure we would have enjoyed the same experience but those today were so kind, so gentle and accommodating that the Two family was on top of the world. Also I learned that contrary to what I had been told they do have a temple baptism file and could have accommodated Brother Two’s wife as well.

We had another attempt to finish “The Great Plan of Happiness” with the Six family, but only managed about one other page as more questions arose. He did agree to go with me to Stake Priesthood Meeting next Sunday.

On our preparation day Sister H and I drove to Long Beach, Terminal Island and Ports O’ Call in San Pedro. There was a restaurant we enjoyed eating at there in the parking lot back in the 1960s but alas it has gone under and the building demolished. But we had an excellent meal and watched the busy harbor activity. While there we saw two of the dredges that Brother Two works on and called and talked about his work and the operating of that huge machinery. Sister H thinks the trip was so we could share in his occupation with him. Maybe so!

Monday, October 28, 2013

Week Sixteen

WEEK SIXTEEN October 21, 2013

This week had Sister H and I again wondering whether we would ever present a “traditional” missionary discussion while on our mission. So far we have given discussions upon such matters as comparing the theology of Jeremiah with Joseph Smith; the organization and structure of the quorums of the seventy; the function of area authority seventies; the various offices of Melchizedek and Aaronic priesthoods; preparing to receive the priesthood; keeping the Sabbath holy; why we believe the children of God can become as He is; how to pay tithes and offerings; death; how to pray; hearing the voice of the Lord; finding balance in life; 2 Nephi 31; raising children; many different marriage and relationship issues; how to deal with stress, anxiety and depression; patriarchal blessings; performing of priesthood ordinances; how to hold family home evenings; family history; temple preparation; developing a family mission plan; forgiveness of others; California’s Prop 8; and the position of the Church on gays, blacks, and polygamy.

In a Patriarchal discussion with the Two family when we got to being sealed up against the power of the destroyer, the husband exclaimed, “I’m ready to get my patriarchal blessing right now. That being sealed against the adversary is what I need.” He also shared with us his experience in giving blessings to his children as a priest, “My wife said she could immediately notice the power of the spirit that was present.

At the request of the mission president I put together an introduction for the mission on the new resource booklet “Adjusting to Missionary Life.” He asked me to take 40 minutes and I told him I thought I could cut it down to that, whereupon he said, “Take an hour or whatever you need.” Two days before the meeting I met with his counselor who was anxious to orchestrate a much more programmatic approach than I had envisioned including leaving the Atonement out of the presentation entirely. But the whisperings of the Spirit were otherwise and the presentation was based on the Atonement using the experience of Peter’s failure to walk on the water along with his willingness to take the hand of the Savior and allow himself to be lifted up as the focal point, drawing upon self-help techniques along with the Atonement and recognition of the need perhaps for medical assistance through counseling and medication as well. I felt as my presentation concluded that I had shared what the Lord wanted them to hear which was more important that the office brother who said, “That was like listening to a general authority.”

We began meeting with the Twenty family and preparing him to receive the Melchizedek priesthood discussion in depth the 107th Section of the Doctrine & Covenants for over an hour.

Jan continues to have therapy on her leg. Our son-in-law Mark Wadsworth was in town on business with his associate Nick Ludwig and we had dinner with them at the Rusty Pelican in Newport Beach. Terrific garlic bread. Two nights later Mark accompanied us as we met with the Fifteen family to develop a project. I introduced Mark to their daughter as the father of the other 10 year old granddaughter I had asked to write her. She told me she had received a letter from Whitney Sheffield and was very excited as she had already written her back. Mark said that all the grandkids were excited about him doing missionary work with granny and grandpa. Made our day, week and several months. Then he said, “I am really proud of you and all you are doing.” When something you are doing for the Lord means as much to your family, how can you top that in missionary work?

During the dinner, Jan and I had our badges on of course, and after several minutes an extremely cute waitress came up bubbling over with excitement to see some missionaries from “her church.” Her name is Britney and she is from Atlanta and is now living here and attending Orange Coast YSA as she was baptized just a year and two days ago. She said, “One of my fellow workers came to me and asked if I saw the badges. I told her no, what badges. She said that couple from your church. So I had to come over.” Her spontaneous enthusiasm, sweetness of spirit and honest to goodness thrill she felt in seeing us really touched both Jan and I. It was emotional powerful to be in her presence and feel her spirit. Maybe she was one of those tender mercies from Heavenly Father to get my mind off extraneous matters I had been dealing with the last couple of days and get in the proper spirit for my presentation the next day at the mission wide conference. Her presence released a flood of emotions in me and I felt like I wanted to jump right up and give her hug for the lift she had given us. I found myself silently praying that she find a good, good man and enjoy the blessings of eternity with her family.

We participated in our first baptism for the dead in the Newport Temple with some of those who have been recently baptized. I was able to baptize four sisters each for five patrons and two brethren for five each themselves. Eligible family members were present as well to experience in preparation for they own baptismal work. Sister H served in the women’s side. During the men’s baptisms a number of Spanish names appeared which I did my best to pronounce in the proper Spanish accent which according to Sister H impressed the two witnesses who commented, “He must know how to speak Spanish.”

This week we gave our first sort of traditional lesson, The Plan of Salvation, to the Nineteen Family. I say sort of traditional as the discussion lasted for 2 ½ hours. It was without a doubt the most positive, enriching, and spiritual plan of salvation discussion I had ever participated in. The questions and spirit present were outstanding. The tone of the meeting could not have been better. The willingness to learn and the desire to understand was as good as anything I have ever participated in. I asked the husband to offer the closing prayer and he deferred to me. I gently insisted and the wife said, “Honey, I think he wants you to offer the prayer.” Which he did, a heartfelt appreciation for the message they had heard this day and an impassioned plea that they would believe and accept all that they had been taught. We set a next appointment to discuss the Restoration. We learned that over fifteen years ago the husband had studied with some sister missionaries and a number of missionaries dropped in over the years always bringing a sweet spirit with them, but “questions have been answered today that we had never received answers to before.”

We enjoyed another discussion with the Six family regarding Elder Dallin H. Oaks conference address, “The Great Plan of Happiness.” We also had purchased and presented scripture rulers, my famous Prismacolor 922 soft lead red pencils, and scripture markers following their comment of the previous week that they didn’t have anything nor did they know how to mark scriptures. I explained my marking system along with a disclaimer that there was no one way to do it but here was an example.

On our preparation day we received permission and drove to Santee to visit with our dear friend Joyce Broadhead and her daughter and son-in-law. We had a wonderful visit and breakfast. It was so good to see Joyce again, to hear her sweet voice and laughter and feel many memories rekindled of the time she and Don and Sister H and I had together in Provo, Utah for twenty years.