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.