WEEK EIGHT August 26, 2013
Jan and I are beginning to wonder if the missionary program is missing out on a terrific opportunity to introduce people to the missionaries. Virtually whenever we have been out and about in missionary attire, eyes are averted and the ability to make contact is seriously curtailed. But when we are out in P-day attire with our tags on, time after time people come up to us and inquire as to who we are, why we are there, or to ask questions about the church. One wonders if the formal attire actually dissuades some from engaging us.
Encountered another connection when at the Aliso Creek chapel for our Missionary Correlation meeting, when who should come walking down the hall but Brother and Sister Bartlett from Provo. Brother Bartlett served as first counselor to Bishop Anderson in the BYU 41st Ward when I was assigned to that ward as the HC representative for the BYU 21st Stake about 2006-2008. They are serving a Family History mission in Provo and he had to come here to renew his visa, he being from Australia and they were staying with their best friend Bill Shuman and his wife. Brother Shuman lives in the Aliso Creek ward and is also the HC representative for the Lake Forest ward so we see him virtually every Sunday.
We visited the Seven Family, a single sister and mother of the primary president who asked us to drop by saying, “She is a very proud lady and you will think she is extremely active. Knowing her inactivity I told her we were new to the ward and wondered if she could bring us up to date on the ward. She hung her head and declared that she has not been active. She was very sweet and very forthcoming. One thing I’ve noticed different than being a young missionary, people are much more forthcoming in expressing themselves. We learned all about the family history, dissolution of marriages, in and out of the Church and one in prison and the reason therefore. When Jan spoke with the primary president the sister was stunned that we had gathered so much information. It was a very pleasant visit with Seven but she doesn’t currently have any inclination to become involved, recently had a small stroke, the crowds frighten her and “its just been too long.” She was not sure if she had been sealed to her parents nor whether she had ever received a Patriarchal blessing so her daughter said she would follow up on those things and was appreciative for the heads up.
At our district meeting I was presented with a Happy Birthday card from all the elders and sisters in the district together with a Snickers bar. Kerri called as did Kelly and Chip, but Kerri said one of her kids asked, “Do Grandpa and Grandma get a day off because it is his birthday?”
We called on the One family to learn the result of the accident an paralysis that left her brother paralyzed in Georgia and learned that he mercifully passed away and the sister had stayed behind to attend the funeral and had just arrived last night rather than last Thursday. We spent some time as she filled us in on the funeral and the mercy of Jimmy D being taken as he would have been on a ventilator the rest of his life and fed through a feeding tube unable to communicate with anyone. We got her set up with an account on Family Search which she wanted. Also had a terrific visit with Brother One who seems to really enjoy our visits and conversation. He said everyone was taking good care of him in his wife’s accident and that one of the sisters had even volunteered Jerry and Jan to lend him a hand. “I told her she was late that you had already made the offer personally.”
Thursday we took Sisters Jackson and Moss, assigned to the Aliso Creek Ward to lunch at Baja Fish Taco and had a good talk on my birthday. With them was one of the two Sister Trainers in this mission and another connection. Sister Drinkwater is the Cherry Hill Stake and lives near the Pitman, New Jersey area which now houses a YSA Ward and a family ward. We have two connections here: 1) While on my mission we were living in Haddon Heights, New Jersey. On a split with the elders in Gloucester we came across this amazing golden family who were almost immediately baptized. At the time the only ward in south New Jersey was the Camden Ward in Audubon. Well it turns out this family and another 8 or 10 families in Pitman that they fellowshipped and before you know it the Church had to organize a dependent branch in Pitman. 2) Sister Drinkwater’s father is a counselor in the Pennsylvania Philadelphia Mission and frequently travels to Doylestown where Scott and Kelly and family live.
We finished the day with a birthday dinner at Outback which turned out not to be worth all the fuss it was finding the place. Our GPS having dropped us off at an outdoor mall with the words, “You have now reached your destination.” Turned out it was two blocks away and on the opposite side of the mall.
We were finally able to meet with the RS President of the Aliso Creek ward, Judie Clark, who was very helpful filling us in on a number of people our visiting could be a blessing. She is going to get with her counselors and get back to us with greater detail on a friendshipping program. She asked for help in getting sisters to remain for the last hour to attend Relief Society. I suggested encouraging those who do attend to personally invite someone right after Sacrament meeting to come with them to SS class and RS. Jan suggested for the bishopric to treat the importance of attending RS at a Sacrament meeting. She said she liked both idea and we noticed at ward council the following Sunday she suggested both to the council and received approval on both.
We had dinner with the Two Family. The son and father had read Helaman 5 together and as we discussed it, were able to draw a great deal of information from the reading. The son announced that he had settled on 7 September for his baptism date. I told him we would be happy to pray about that with him as we had promised. Said he, “I don’t ever want to turn down any prayers but I’ve already made my decision and had it confirmed.” He gave me a high five when I told him that 7 September was our wedding anniversary. His mom chimed in that she had to do some juggling if the baptism was the 7th and asked he son to pick another date but “he told me he already had that date confirmed by the Lord and he couldn’t change it.” Sunday at church I attended the Deacon’s quorum meeting with him.
On Saturday we attended the temple sealing of the Thirteen Family. She baptized almost one year ago to the day and he activated. Huge family turnout at the Newport Beach Temple and a sweet spirit. She was just charming she was so excited.
This week on P-day while at Deseret Book picking up some copies of True to the Faith, a fellow came up to us noticing our tags, the 14 Family and asked if we could point him to the SS manual for this year. Unfortunately they didn’t have a copy there, but in our visiting we learned he had fallen away from the Church years ago, still believes, but can’t handle the members of the Church, says he. We were able to have an impromptu discussion on the danger of allowing others to determine his eternal reward. He said he had not thought of it that was before. We then showed him a copy of the book True to the Faith and he decided to purchase one for him and the non-member sister who was there with him. He promised to come back with an attitude of what can he do to bless the lives of others rather than waiting for someone to bless his life.
At lunch we found ourselves being eyeballed by a lady and three kids at In-N-Out. Turns out she is Sister Rasmussen, wife of the stake president Irvine California stake. We were able to tell her that the missionaries rave about her husband and his dedication to missionary work. She seemed pleased indeed.
We had dinner with the Two’s, went through the Plan of Salvation as it applied to some questions they had about the laws of Justice and Mercy. The father told us that our coming into their lives was the best thing that has happened to them. I cautioned him that we were glad to be of help and share some of our experience, but the best thing was their baptism. “Yes I agree, but there is a light in your eye that is different and our testimony improves with every visit, every time you come into our house.” Jan and I have reflected on our privilege to be there at this time in their lives and for the Lord to bless us so. Clearly the glory is the Lords. Although Jan said, “If this is the only thing we do on our mission, it will have been successful.” He is thrilled with the prospect of baptizing his son which will be his first priesthood act.
At the Lake Forest Ward today we attended the class of Brett London who quoted Brigham Young that screaming babies are like good intentions and should be carried out. He also expressed the fact that he was double minded. If the animal is fat and furry we need to protect them. If the animal is thin and slimy eradicate them. Also learned from a brother that had been down in Encinitas that when his mother left his father, he was devastated and lonely and went with some LDS people for friendship and later investigated and joined the church, then remarried in the temple and now has a rich posterity of faithful members. Said he, “You just never know when a seeming tragedy will prove to be a major blessing.”
We had our third temple discussion with the Six family during the course of which we were speaking about the blessing we receive as we forgive. Immediately they brought up marriage again with the woman stating that divorce makes it difficult to forgive but unless we do it our lives are forever ruined. He joined in as well. That’s twice now the Lord has engineered a marriage theme to a temple discussion among a couple who has never before considered marriage as something they needed. She had been feeling punk all day and called our home and cell phone trying to cancel the meeting, but since I keep the cell phone off at church and during visits, it had been off all Sunday and fortunately we were able to have the meeting.
Our final stop for a grueling 14 hour Sunday was dinner with the 4 family. We enjoyed a spirited discussion with this evangelical, former minister of the AME Zion congregation in Baltimore, Maryland. At the beginning he asked for my thoughts and I told him I had two. I reminded him of his comment the previous visit that the Book of Mormon stories sounded like the Bible stories only the names had been changed. I told him I was even more confident in what I had told him then, that since we are dealing with the same God teaching his children in both cases, things should sound the same. He agreed that made sense. Secondly, I told him I have a number of experiences where I thought the decision was between A or B and drew out a diagram for him. That after study and prayer in determining one of them, and getting a confirmation I had started out. I pointed out that even God could not steer a parked car, I had to get up and get moving. Yet frequently on the way to, let’s say A, the Lord has required a course correction for me which led me to something totally different, C for example. Something I had never considered previously. I again reminded him of his comment that the Lord had led him from his way of life to Jesus, so he knew he was going in the right direction. I then suggested that it could well be that from where you were, God had to lead you to Christ first and then you could move on to the ‘more’ offered by God’s restored church upon the earth.
I shared with him the discussion I had prepared showing the parallel teachings of Jeremiah and Joseph. He seemed genuinely touched that I would take the time to put that together for him and mentioned that gratitude a number of times. But he turned the papers back to me and asked if I could jot down some references from the Doctrine & Covenants to support Jeremiah and Joseph Smith which I did my best to do as he never ceased from asking me questions the entire time I was trying to do so. Hope the Lord guided me there as I was having a difficult time being involved in two conversations.
As we discussed a number of scriptures, Jan noting afterwards that it was a very tense conversation, with the fellow trying to carry the conversation to extremes and to other points, we seemed to always bring things back and unpeel the onion so to speak to determine what really mattered. We had talked about the desire required for someone to truly investigate, which he admitted was so, and grudgingly agreed to put to the test. It was then the impression came that authority and ordinances was the hurdle. When I asked him if he would study the materials I had prepared and prayerfully ask God if authority and ordinances were necessary he agreed to do so. I suggest his prayer could be something like this, “I don’t know if anything Elder Haddock has told me is true but if priesthood and ordinances are necessary I want to be right with you on this.” He agreed to ask with real intent, determining to do what every the Lord should tell him. I then asked, “You’ve been married a year now, how is it living with this wonderful woman?” He said that it was wonderful. So I asked, “What if you could be with her for eternity?” He liked that idea and laughed when I told him we could tell him how to make that happen. Then I said, “How about appending this to your prayer as well. Again noting that you don’t know if Elder Haddock is telling the truth or not, but that you would like it to be true that you and she could be together forever.” He got a catch in his throat and said he would do that as well. He walked us out to the car and expressed his appreciation for our visit. “Every time I meet with you Mormon’s I feel better.” I reminded him of the point I had made early in our conversation tonight, that we would either be coming back to add to the “more” of the Gospel of Jesus Christ or friends discussion the Bible together for the next 18 months.
We notified all our children of our meeting with the 4 family and requested their earnest prayers in behalf of him clearly hearing the voice of the Lord. I have had on occasion the blessing of the Lord sharing with me what he has told those praying to him and how they felt at the time, which when visiting with the later has proven to be a sweet witness of their experience, so I have asked for that as well, but realize such matters are wholly in the hands of the Lord.
Monday was my first Institute Class of the five I had prepared and guess what. No one showed up. I always started mine a week after school began so they could get into a rhythm and sort out their classes and such. Might had made a difference here. In the afternoon, being our P-Day we went with Elder and Sister Moyes, senior couple in the Anaheim mission who are from Sandy.