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.