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!

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