Monday, September 30, 2013

Week Thirteen

WEEK THIRTEEN September 30, 2013

Jan has been having some difficulty with pain behind her right knee for several weeks not and this week she began physical therapy to relieve the problem which appears to be centered around where both the calf muscle and the hamstring attach behind the knee. Hopefully this will resolve the problem.

While waiting for Jan’s session to end I continued my reading of Brad Wilcox’ book, “The Continuous Atonement” in preparation for a new assignment. While pondering what I had read I was impressed to visit with a non-member family the elders have been teaching, the Fifteen family, and share a conversion experience a fellow from Mexico told me during my Spanish immersion week at the MTC, three months ago. I told the Lord I don’t remember the story and if I was to give it He would have to bring a lot to my memory. The answer seemed to be, just open your mouth and begin. So I texted the elders to get the families address.

Sister Two called and asked if she could line us up with the Sixteen Family. They have two sons coming up for baptism, their father is a recent convert, and said she, “You were so helpful in assisting our son in preparation for his baptism and my husband as well that I think you would be a great blessing to this family.” We consented readily and were able to meet with the Sixteen family and teach their twin boys about baptism and the sort of questions a bishop would ask. We have a return visit coming up next week.

We also visited with the Fifteen family and got better acquainted and set up an appointment with them for next week as well as the Twelve family. Hopefully we will be quite busy next week. On Thursday this week had our best visit day yet, meeting with four different families.

Went to dinner at the King Fish House in Laguna Hills with the Four family who paid us a nice compliment, “We hope when we are your age people will notice the same goodness, spirit and special experiences in us as we do in you.” Also had dinner this week with nephew Nick Haddock, his wife Kim and family. Sure is nice to have family around during a mission. Had dinner with a member family who invited Nick and Kim and family too.

Spent a good part of one day this week, picking up 13 Chevy Cruze automobiles for the mission from the dealer in Santa Ana. Almost got clocked by a white van who decided my lane was too inviting whether I was in it or not and just started moving over.

Attended the baptism of the Seventeen family that the Sister Missionaries have been teaching. Apparently she has some needs that a Senior Couple may be able to assist in and following the baptism Jan and I spoke with her offering to be of help and secured an appointment for next week.

I was fortunately asked to teach the Gospel Essentials class in the Aliso Creek Ward this week on the gathering of Israel. Which followed an excellent program on the 5th Sunday on the Ward adoption of the hastening the work principles of 23 June. The ward members seemed to universally approve of those principles so it should be interesting to see what happens in the coming months.

We had another discussion with the Six family spending a couple of hours on 2 Nephi 31 and the baptism of the Savior and the same needed for all of us. It looks as if we have someone who believes everything stated therein yet is unwilling to rush to the font to “fulfill all righteousness.” I told Jan I have never seen anything like it.

Week Twelve

WEEK TWELVE September 23, 2013

This week, as companion to Sister Haddock and with the blessing of the Stake President, I was able to spend an evening with Sister Elaine Dalton and her husband as they spoke to the young women and sisters in the Rancho Santa Margarita stake. It was a wonderful evening as the Dalton’s heaped confidence upon the sisters present as to their worth and possibilities. One of the statements Sister Dalton made was “A faithful women and the Lord can change the world.” Included their remarks was an experience they both referenced. When Elder Gordon B. Hinckley sealed them as husband and wife forth-five years ago in the Salt Lake Temple, he said to them: “Always live in such a way that when you need the Lord’s blessings, you can call upon Him and receive them because you are worthy. There will come times in your life when you will need immediate blessings. You will need to live in such a way that they will be granted—not out of mercy but because you are worthy.” What a wonderful thought and objective for all of us.

We received a sweet expression of thanks from the Two family mother to the letter we had sent their son: “Hi, we just wanted to thank you for your thoughtful, kindhearted letter. We all really enjoyed reading it especially our son;” and from the father “Our son got your letter. He loved it. In fact all of us did too. Jakob was really glad to get it from you. He wanted me to reread it to him about three or four times. I can sense God’s spirit and power. Thank you for leading us in Gods way. I’m realizing that you guys are literal answers to prayer and that the Church of Jesus Christ is literally and truthfully his church.” You can imagine the feelings of joy that welled up in us over this dear family. Isn’t that the continuing blessing we received when engaged in missionary work—joy?

We had presented the Family Mission Plan to John and Jalane Hong about two weeks ago. Our followup consisted of one hour of sailing on Lake Mission Viejo, my first time at the helm of a sailboat which brought some exciting moments as the wind caught me unawares and I was too slow in easing the tension on the sail. Made me think of life and the importance in keeping a balance if we are to keep our direction where we want to go. We ended the event with a picnic and brats!

We had a quickly arranged Mission Conference at the Irving Stake Center with Elder Kent Richards who serves as a counselor in the Area Presidency on his way for a mission tour of the California Riverside Mission. It was apparent, at least to us, that the purpose of his message was to remind the missionaries that their current mission president holds the keys to revelation for the direction of this mission, not former presidents, and the missionaries would be mindful to listen and obey President Orgill if they wanted to be blessed in their missionary endeavors.

We were unable to meet with the Two family this week because of work complications but we did have another positive discussion with the Six family and following some expression by Jan concerning the wonderful qualities she has seen in them, noticed some tearing in their eyes. In the next visit or two the discussions I have prepared for them will run head long into an issue we were told previously they would not be able to handle. So there is some apprehension there but four of the previous discussions, with no direction from us at all, have touched on the “forbidden” subject already and this week, at length. The brother said he enjoyed by lesson in Gospel Essentials on Prophets of God but enjoyed more the third hour which was a discussion in priesthood on the light of God. He mentioned some serious tragedies he has experience recently, including some deaths, and felt he needed to hear the message given in priesthood today. That conversation opened the door for a positive response when we asked if we could close our discussion with prayer in behalf of those in need.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Week Eleven

WEEK ELEVEN September 16, 2013

Well the Lord has been protecting us. This week I unlocked our apartment door then stepped aside to allow Jan to enter first. Shut the garage and locked the door. The next morning I couldn’t find my keys anywhere. So I went to the front door which had been left unlocked all night and there in the outside lock were my keys dangling from the lock.

Attended a FHE ward picnic and got to meet an investigator family, the Fifteen family. The husband has not shown the same interest as the wife nor attended church yet. As we spoke he mentioned a family name and I remarked I only knew one person with that name and gave him the name telling him the fellow had set up our phones at the plant in Orem. “That’s my cousin,” he exclaimed. Another connection that hopefully will prove useful. Had a long talk with the wife who wondered just what senior missionaries do.

We stopped by in the afternoon to visit a sister who was indifferent if not cold on our first encounter. She was to have shoulder surgery and Jan suggested we purchase an exercise stress ball like I used to help her with her rehabilitation. I had prepared quite a bit of family history for her. When we arrived she was outside and as we walked up quickly told us she had no time to visit but had to pick her grandson up from school. We presented her with the ball, telling her how to use it. I she squeezed it she said, “Oh I can feel in my shoulder.” Then gave her the family history, which she clasped and gave Jan a big hug. We’re thinking there is a possibility she will meet with us next time.

At invitation of the MP, along with the mission finance man and first counselor Dave Ellis, attending a briefing from Salt Lake on a new missionary resource booklet for distribution in all English speaking missions, entitled “Adjusting to Missionary Life.” So I obtained a copy in advance with permission of the MP and devoured it over several days, making it my own. The booklet was prepared to help missionaries handle and deal with stress. Following I shared my suggestions on how to implement the same along with these thoughts: 1) Make sure we do it in a way that avoids a stigma in the mission for using and following the guidelines set forth in the booklet which could be solved by using the booklet with all missionaries; 2) selling the booklet and its function as using their missions to develop the patterns for how to deal with problems through their lives; 3) additionally teaching them how to use the Atonement and take hold of the Savior’s outstretched arm, i. e. how to apply the atonement to their own lives.

It seems to be there are skills to be learned during a mission that will bode well for them eternally and the mission offers rich opportunities for practice in a sacred protected environment that is unique, teaching them how to truly come unto Christ with a transfer of their burdens to Him. Thus I suggested to the MP the initial focus should be positive and powerful, centered on what Christ can do for them if they come to Him and offer up all their burdens with the booklet being a companion to assist them with skills and practices that will prove helpful in throughout their mortal journey. He asked me to put together a presentation as an introduction to all new incoming missionaries that introduces them to the booklet, which I have done in outline form and submitted to him.

Walking through Ralph’s market when a fellow hollers at me, “Hey, is anyone working behind the fish counter tonight?” I replied that I didn’t work here to which he said noticing my slacks, white shirt and tie, “You look great though.”

We have been visiting families sharing with them the outline for a Family Mission Plan based on the idea that this is their plan and should be prayerfully developed on their own. We have received very warm receptions. The theme being an application of the parable of the ten talents, with the talents representing the gifts of the spirit we enjoy with membership in the church and if we just bury them to make sure they are lost, there is no way those blessing can be multiplied throughout the world. So the idea we present is that the “invite” others to enjoy those same spiritual gifts they enjoy for the Savior not only gave everything for them, but also gave everything for those they encounter in their walk of life.

Presented to the Six family the following pattern to bless their marriage:

1.       Find a quiet time each day, when you are alone, and pray out loud to Heavenly Father, listening inside yourself for ideas, words, sentences, thoughts and especially the peaceful feeling inside your heart that comes as if the Spirit of God went inside of you and gave your spirit a warm hug.

2.       Pray vocally as husband and wife each day while kneeling together, before you go to bed, sharing with Heavenly Father those things that are of concern to your marriage and your family.

Spent considerable time with Brother Six preparing him to confer the Aaronic Priesthood upon his son and ordain him to the office of a Deacon. When the time came the father did it masterfully with the counselor in the bishopric commenting with great surprise in his voice, “Brother Six, you did that like a seasoned veteran.” Made me think as a senior couple that is one thing we can do for new converts, provide a kind of mentor that they don’t have without family or parents in the gospel to enlighten, love and assist them. I was truly proud of him. Even the blessing was thoughtful and full of meaning and spirit. What a blessing for a son to receive the priesthood from his father and to have it done flawlessly. Sent a letter to the son, as a grandfather might, pointing out his strengths and suggesting blessings that may await him in the future

Jan has been having some pain behind her right knee. They have ruled out a blood clot and structural damage to her knee replacement so the ortho doc has suggested she undergo four weeks of physical therapy and see if it is some form of hamstring tendonitis.

We had given a copy of “True to the Faith” to the Six family and during the week her sister called with a question about “Mormon belief.” Said she, “I was able to go right to the book and read it to her. We had our fifth discussion on temple preparation with them this week.

Also met with the One family and discussed in detail the apostasy. Interestingly the non-member in the family felt great about it, the member with many questions.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Week Ten

WEEK TEN September 9, 2013

At Costco pharmacy we noticed the cost was much less than expected so I asked the clerk to double check. He came back, no the price was right. However when we got home we learned we had received a 90-day supply but had only been charged for a 30-day supply, a difference of over $100. So the next day we went back to Costco and ended up speaking with two different people before we could get it straightened out. A different clerk was at the cash register this time and said, “You’re a better man than I am. If it were me I wouldn’t have come back. This will cost you an additional $100 or so.” I told pointed to the tab on my shirt pocket and said, “Well, I couldn’t very well do that wearing this, could I?” He studied the badge then reached across the counter and shook my hand. Said he, “God bless you brother. May He be with you in all you are doing.”

Had a very productive meeting with the Two family on Tuesday as they both opened up wanting to discuss marriage relationships. So we shared our philosophy about choosing to make every decision in our marriage based on whether the choice contributed to building an eternal relationship. We also went through the procedures the father needed to know in preparation for baptizing his son on Saturday.

We met with two families to introduce and help them to develop a family mission plan. Shared our feelings that this should be a spiritual experience between them, the key being a mindset change that allowed them to engage others with a focus just on inviting. The trust being to allow others to share in the same first-hand spiritual experiences we are enjoying. Christ has given His all for us and He has done the same for those we encounter in our walk through life.

The bishop of the Aliso Creek Ward holds a missionary meeting with the WML and all fulltime missionaries on the first Wednesday of each month. We each shared what we were doing and I shared a couple of observations regarding family missionary plans: 1) When thy say “We just don’t have any time,” that is code for sharing the gospel of invited others to share is just not that important to me yet;” 2) When they say, “I just have a small circle of friends, basically church and family,” that is code for “I’m not willing to leave my comfort zone.”

We have been taking each set of missionaries in our district to lunch. This week the Aliso Creek elders expanded from 2 to 3 and they wanted to bring GG an investigator along as well. So with six of us they choose Round Table (a chain we had on the corner of Encinitas Blvd. and El Camino Real when we lived there) for a lunch buffet. Well our group was so big we stood for some time trying to find where we could sit six. Paul, a fellow near 90, came up and introduced himself to us. He was there eating with a good friend John and they had two empty seats at their table and he invited Jan and I to sit with them. We accepted the invitation and had a delightful conversation although being unable to visit with our intended missionaries. Paul’s wife had passed away due to a massive and unexpected stroke at the age of 92 within the week. In going through her things he had found a $20 bill and told friend John that she must have wanted them to go to lunch together. We had a good talk about the afterlife and the gospel of Christ. They felt all churches did well in bring people to Christ and the “particular congregation you belong to doesn’t matter.” We very much enjoyed both visiting with them and their hospitality toward us.

Saturday morning we participated in the baptism of the oldest son of the Two family. He had asked me to be the speaker at his baptism, held at the Santa Margarita Stake Center. Jakob cultivates hot peppers and so I chose to tie that into my talk on the Holy Ghost.


Jakob is already at his young age quite an expert in the cultivating of pepper plants. He demonstrated to me considerable expertise in pepper cultivars as he explained these amazing plants. The hotter the better, as Jakob says.

Although as Jakob knows and you may not, heat is really not a factor, at least not caloric heat, rather it is pungency of the pepper.

Those burning and painful sensations we feel result from a chemical interaction called chemesthesis, between the capsaicin found in the pepper pith and the sensory neurons in your mouth, which send a signal to your brain producing sensations similar to those of excessive heat or abrasive damage. It is your brain telling you it is hot.

Similarly, when the comfort and peace of the Holy Ghost is felt, it is manifest as a warmth inside us, that the mind and heart confirms as truth.

Sometimes the manifestations of the Holy Ghost are felt when thoughts, words and even whole sentences come into our mind, but most often it is as if the Spirit of God has come inside us and given our spirit a warm hug, confirming our chosen direction.

Jakob knows how finicky the Habanero is as a tiny seedling. He also has learned how with proper care, it grows into a sturdy plant, robust and strong.

In like manner, the Gift of the Holy Ghost, again with proper care, will grow into a constant companion and comforter for Jakob, both robust and strong.

Jakob has already demonstrated a remarkable ability to feel the voice of the Holy Ghost both in the conversion process and in the selection of this very date for his baptism. I then spoke to the sacredness of the occasion and the rest of us as visitors not intrude nor distract Jakob from receiving such gifts of the spirit and manifestations as He chooses to bestow upon Jakob.

Here is a picture of us with Jakob.

Afterward we celebrated our 48th wedding anniversary with a dinner at The Cheesecake Factory in the Irving Spectrum. After a mile or more hike in 100+ weather we got into the establishment and were served by Janae F. who said, looking at our tags, “Oh you must go to church. I don’t like it when my shift doesn't allow we to go to church and I won’t be able to tomorrow.” Another visit, several in fact it was hard to eat. Finally, “I have not been baptized Christian yet and I want to do that.” I told her we could take care of that but she countered that the Saddleback church did that every Saturday and she would probably go there. Other visits to the table followed one in which she recounted how hard it was to find a guy who had moral standards etc. so we talked to her about the institute program at Saddleback Community College. She took our card promising to email us to get the contact information but was unwilling to give us her contact information. Jan feels there must have been something more we could have done.

That afternoon I sent a lengthy email to the Two family, feeling that maybe they were approaching overload. I told them “there is a lot on your plate that has come up ever so quickly, and we want to be sensitive to your family needs, so I am going to leave the following items with you to sort out calendar wise and let us know when you would like to schedule some time to address them. (The list totaled six discussion items.) “When I put all that in a list it seems pretty overwhelming, even to me. Obviously everything does not have to be done at once. We aren't dealing with any time constraints here for the most part. Clearly there are family obligations that need to be attended too in addition to these matters. And these things shouldn't consume your entire life or even feel like they are doing so. So, taking those cautions into consideration, would you and Kyle discuss what order you want to take on these items and how you would like to schedule them and Sister Haddock and I will fit things in around your needs and work schedules.”

That night we enjoyed the adult session of stake conference with Area Authority Reuben Acosta, a very humble servant of the Lord. At 8:30 the following morning a special new member meeting was held prior to general conference session. He shared his conversion story and we had three families there that we have been working with and each of them was very impressed with his spirit.

Sunday evening we enjoyed another discussion with the Six family although they had so many questions we never got to the temple.

We hadn’t heard from the Six family since our discussion a week ago in which he promised to pray about the need for authority and ordinances. Not hearing anything from them I sent this text message—It occurs to me, to discover whether authority and ordinances are necessary, one must consider the real message of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints: Simply put the message to the world is that Christ’s church has been reestablished on earth. MT 16:18, Eph 4:11 and Acts 2:47 refer to His church having been organized and JN 15:16 to authority through ordination. He responded with a long text admitting he had not done what he had committed to do. Wanted us to know how much he respects the Church and its people but wants to remain non-denominational doctrine wise. I responded that friendship was non-denominational and invited them to dinner with us at Lucillle’s, which they accepted. All of this before the Saturday and Sunday meetings, all of which the Six family attended. In fact, during the Sunday new member meeting, I had a very strong feeling that the Spirit was making an impression on Brother Six. They sat behind us at the general session and when a stirring talk was given on helping and assisting others, Brother Six tapped me and the shoulder and whispered, “That is what I have been preaching for the past six years,” and seemed genuinely pleased with the proceedings.

Monday evening we attended a FHE in the park for the Lake Forest Ward and encountered the Mission President and his wife. Me in Levi’s, a sport shirt and tennis shoes and he in a suit Said the President, “You look a lot more comfortable than I am.” I told him it was even worse as we were going out to visit two family that night to share how to put together a family mission plan dressed as we were. He told me he was going to give me a call seeking some counseling assistance. Which is in line with what his wife told Jan, she being concerned her husband was being burned out on counseling and not being able to function as a mission president.

Another connection at the FHE. The elders have been teaching the Fifteen family. The wife has been very receptive and one of the children. Jan and I had never met them. I was able to speak for some time with the father who turns out to be a cousin of Roland Astorga who set up our phone system at work. The wife asked what we did as senior missionaries and I shared that and our willingness to do what we could to help in any way.

Maybe the dress was the key, but the two families we met with were very receptive regarding a family mission plan and we set appointments two weeks hence to followup with them.

Saturday, September 7, 2013


WEEK NINE 2 September 2013

Another connection: Jan and I were in Sam’s Club in Fountain Valley. I had walked through the line because to read a text message while Jan was checking out. This lady came up shyly from behind me asking, “Are you a Mormon missionary?” I told her I was and asked her name. She said, “Lucille Wihongi.” Said I, “I knew a Jono Wihongi from Vista …” I then recognized Jono walking toward me. What a happy reunion. I worked in the Vista Ward almost the entire year of 1976 on assignment from President Packard. Their family has done well, growing up in truth and righteousness. They spent 14 years working with the YSA and another number of years with the 30-45 group. It was wonderful to see them and another tender mercy of the Lord. We figured it had been 35 years since we had cast our eyes upon one another. Back in the day Jono had given work to my brother Rick and Jono asked about him.

Another day at Institute with no one showing up for class. That is now two days in a row. The other two instructors there are embarrassed no matter what I say to them about it. The next day one of the called saying they had spoken with a number of students and none of them are planning on attending this week so suggested we not come down the next two days that he would cover if someone should show up. Well at least I had the privilege of preparing for five classes. And any excuse to spend multiple hours in the scriptures is a blessing indeed.

This week we heard from Chip that our grandson Brandon the first day of 7th grade had an upset stomach, vomiting during his first class which was immediately followed by an emergency appendectomy. It came up so quickly Chip was unable to get from his hospital to the Children’s Hospital where the surgery was performed.

We’ve had our own medical problems, all administrative, from making the change from Utah to California. For Jan’s glaucoma checks every two months, here she has to go to a family doctor for an examination and referral, then to an ophthalmologist for an examination and a referral, then to a retina specialist for an examination and referral, and then to the glaucoma specialist. Her checkup was needed the first of August and here we are a month later and we still haven’t gotten into the glaucoma doc.

This week at the Aliso Creek Bible Study group, I led the discussion. One of the non-members present was a young man from the Birmingham, Alabama area but he didn't know thee McChesney’s.

The discussion went as follows: I suggested the Atonement simply means WITH YOU, in two senses—

1ST it overcomes anything that separates me from my Heavenly Father, so I can be With Him; and so Christ’s Spirit can be with me—each day and forever.

2nd it overcomes anything that prevents me from being with my family members and friends forever. I then defined Grace as the manifestation of Christ’s love in me, through the atonement, enabling me to become as my Heavenly Father and our Savior are—Unearned Divine Assistance. I asked them to keep a couple of points to keep in mind:

                The extension and receipt of Grace is not a onetime event, but a process of becoming
                Mercy and Grace are interchangeable terms
                Grace fits into two broad categories

One of those categories is Redeeming Grace – a unilateral gift, completely unconditional and used such examples as Physical Death with the Resurrection wrought and given by the grace of Christ, as was Spiritual Death to Salvation and our very moral existence itself (see MOSIAH 2:20-21).

The second category I termed Perfecting Grace – A responsive or partially conditional gift required effort on our behalf but a gift nonetheless.

We then reviewed some references to Grace to illustrate these two categories

Acts 15:11               Unilateral                 2 Nephi 2:8
Romans 3:24           Unilateral                 Alma 4:15
Romans 2:1-10        Responsive             2 Nephi 2:7-8
Hebrews 5:8-9         Responsive             Mosiah 15:26-27  

We reviewed together MORONI 7:42-48, rereading 7:45-46 by substitute Christ for charity after which spontaneous sharing of experiences and joy over grace were offered.

The Lake Forest missionaries asked us to visit Twelve family with them. She a member but never any activity, he a non-member and a second marriage of about 27 years for both. Turns out he and I shared a number of experiences at The Pike in Long Beach and POP as well. In fact we got so taken up in shared memories that Jan felt after the wife was getting put out that we had so much in common. She had a family member in the Mormon Battalion and we offered to take them to San Diego to see the presentation there. They were receptive, he more than she. Also wanted some assistance with Family History as soon as they get a new computer. The missionaries brought by a copy of the Book of Mormon and some videos which we plan on seeing with them when their TV gets fixed. So some followup needed here for sure, but clearly a possibility.

Spent a pleasant time with the Thirteen family, a sister married to a less active husband. She is the manager of a local bank and she and Jan hit it off, with Jan offering to assist in doing some Chinese family history. Got her set up and learned she had visited a Mormon congregation the preceding Sunday with her husband and his friends. We have already spoken with the Chinese missionaries and she said they were welcome to drop by, so we gave them the word through the referral secretary to followup on that.

Had our meeting block this week with Lake Forest Ward. Even with the every other week rotation, we are beginning to know some names and faces finally. Had our third discussion with the Six family. She had some creation questions which we answered and he wanted to know, “If this is the true church why is it so small, 13 M of so.” I told him I didn't know the reason for that but historically that has always been the case. The children of Israel were a small group among many and even most of them weren't keeping their covenants. Daniel had prophesied I small group in the last days comparing them to a stone being cut out of the mountain without hands. We discussed how much “easier” it is to do what you want rather than what the Lord wants and he seemed satisfied.

Got a call the afternoon of our P-day from the husband of the Two family. Said he had some problems and couldn't wait for us to come by the next day. So we quickly drove over there. His wife was down south visiting her sister and he had their 12 years old son watch the children while we went out behind his unit and sat at a table in the park. He had come home from work, saw something that upset him, tried to talk about it with his wife when things escalated and spilled into bad feelings. So we had a marriage relations discussion including how to repent by first clearing things up with his wife. While we wer talking an elderly couple, he in a wheelchair walked past saying. “Jesus is the answer. Look to Jesus.” On their return trip we heard, “Stay with the scriptures. They will lead you to Jesus.” He husband seemed satisfied with the discussion, suggestions etc. that we offered and told us how much he appreciated us taking the time. Said he, “I don’t know why you came on this mission and the Lord brought you here, but I’m thinking it was for our family.”