Monday, November 11, 2013

Week Nineteen

WEEK NINETEEN November 11, 2013

I think I’ve figured out what a Member and Leadership Support (MLS) missionary (the senior missionary couple version of a proselyting missionary) is, and it all has to deal with time and friendship. First, what Sister H and I have that no one in either of the two wards to which we have been assigned has, is time. Even the retired couples do not have the time we have because they are still shackled by the day to day cares from which we have been freed in accepting this call. Second, our assignment in a nutshell is going around making and being friends. It’s almost like being continual home and visiting teachers. Not having the same restrictions on visits that the young missionaries have, we can spend the time developing friendships, supporting members and nonmembers, and just being there to serve whatever the need.

The Nineteen family made an interesting observation relative to the above as we went out to dinner with them this week in celebration of Sister Nineteen’s birthday. Said she, “We’ve been talking about something we observed last night at the restaurant. When the two of you are teaching us the gospel, Jerry takes the lead and Jan chimes in with interesting and heartfelt observations, always very timely. When we were at dinner last night, Jan took the lead in our conversations. We thought it was interesting how the two of you work so well together.” As Sister H and I gave consideration to their observation we concluded they were right on all counts.

We shared the Restoration lesson with the Nineteen family this week. He bore testimony that Joseph Smith was a prophet of God and Sister Nineteen offered her first prayer, a heartfelt prayer of thanks for the atoning sacrifice of the Savior which had all of us teary-eyed. We also watched a short video together. They shared their enthusiasm for the mini-MTC visit and the teaching of Sister Smith and Toomey. They still plan on coming to church with us next Sunday.

This has been a tough week for Jan suffering from a virus which has induced spasmodic and to her, embarrassing coughing which has limited our activity. Those people we did meet with continually asking her if she is alright, what can we do, do you want a drink of water, is there something we can get for you. To spare our district and zone missionaries we skipped the district meeting this week as well as the zone meeting with the stake president Saturday morning. I saw him at church Sunday and he asked about Jan’s health and when I told him it had slowed us down this week he said, “You both probably needed the rest anyway.” Probably true!

Sister H sat in the car as I continued our instruction with Brother Twenty in preparation for him receiving the Melchizedek Priesthood. I noticed at church Sunday that our visits with him the last four or five weeks has opened a friendship with him which he demonstrated in greeting and sharing some things with me at church Sunday.

Also this week I led the discussion in our bi-monthly bible study group in Aliso Creek on the Resurrection. We had four non-members in attendance and some informative one-on-one time with each following the study group.

We were given the name and contact information later in the week for a non-member who had called one of the bishops wanting to participate in the church welfare program. He said under the circumstances he thought contact from a former bishop such as myself might be better than turning it over to the young missionaries. So we plan to visit him early next week when Sister H is not infecting people.

We met with the Twenty-First family for the first time. He just joined the Church a little over a year ago and she a lifetime member. They just moved into the ward and have 4 and 2 year old daughters. They accepted our invitation to prepare him to receive the Melchizedek Priesthood and prepare to enter the temple, so we will begin meeting with them on a weekly basis starting next week. When they were getting serious her mom told her she would rather she remain single throughout her life than marry a non-member so she broke up with him and spent several days in tears. He had a remarkable vision finding himself in a wasteland which he had to pass through to get to her and a city of light and color. So they got back together and married. Nearly a couple of years ago the dream or vision was renewed only this time he was part way through the wasteland and he knew he needed to be baptized. About the third missionary discussion his vision cleared and because of the humility of the missionaries whose interest seemed to be in him personally and not his getting baptized, he opened his heart and received the confirmation of the Holy Ghost.

We met with the Two family Friday night to complete our discussion on receiving the Melchizedek Priesthood and noticed how much more accepting their little children, ages 7 and 5 are to us. On our first few visits they wouldn’t come near us or even talk to us. I guess we have been in their house enough to be accepted. Sunday we visited again to give a blessing and the 7 year old ran up to me and gave me a hug, welcoming me to the home.

Brother Two has a step-brother who has had some long term issues and he felt a blessing would be helpful for him. As we were arriving at our Sunday Ward Council meeting my phone rang and it was Brother Two. He had gone and picked up his brother and mother and they were at his home. He wondered when I could come by to give his brother, a non-member, a blessing. I told him I had some time between the meeting and the start of the meeting block and asked the WML to go with me. As I entered the house while the WML was talking with Sister Two outside, the 25 year old brother greeted me with, “Are you the one who is going to give me a blessing?” We talked for some time as I asked him questions to see where he was about receiving a blessing, helping him to understand the importance of both a blessing and choices he had to make in giving up certain things that were afflicting him. He told us he had been an atheist but all that gave him was a face full of dirt and he wanted to find God. We shared with him how to do that encouraging him to meet with the missionaries where he lived and I then asked his mother, a Jehovah’s Witness, if she would support him in visiting with the missionaries. I had to ask her 7 or 8 eight times as she kept dodging the questions. The last few times the young man pleaded, “Mom can’t you see he is trying to help me and I need the help.” Finally she said, “Yes, I will support him. Whatever he needs to get better I am all for it.” The WML then did a wonderful job of explaining the priesthood and a blessing. I talked about the two parts, anointing and blessing. When the spirit confirmed we were ready we proceeded with the WML anointing and I sealing the blessing which was warmly received by the young man, the mother, and the brother. I later received a text from Brother Two which read, “Your work here today was much needed and very much appreciated. My brother has never in his life received any thing as loving as was done for him today.”

In the Gospel Essentials class I was privileged to teach about our Heavenly Father and bear my own humble witness of him.

We had another visit with the Six family which, because of some of his questions regarding priesthood lineage, ended up with a portrayal of what his priesthood lineage would look like should he be baptized and I bestow the priesthood upon him. He seemed genuinely pleased that it traced back to Joseph and the Savior. I asked what we needed to do to make this happen for him as we both wondered when he received the Melchizedek Priesthood would the Stake President choose to ordain him an Elder or a High Priest as he has been meeting with the High Priests the past seven years. I had hoped this would open the final door for him by asking him “Let’s find out?” but again that moment passed without him accepting the invitation.

Found a convenient excuse to visit the Fifteen family and seem with the non-member father who warmly accepted us into the home and visited with us in a very open manner. Sister H commented “I think we are now welcome in this home anytime.” Sister Fifteen found herself crying in the primary Sacrament meeting today and said to us and her husband, “I have never been so affected by seeing my children participate today.” Their daughter who has a budding pen pal relationship with our granddaughter told us she had sent her a necklace that she had made.

After Sacrament meeting a brother and sister approached us asking if we would come to their home the Friday after Thanksgiving for some turkey gumbo and meet with a non-member couple. We said yes and they said, “Great we will get back in touch with you in a few day to work out the details,” and then left, neither Sister H or I knowing their names. During the priesthood opening exercises I spotted the brother and asked the fellow beside me who he was. He told me he couldn’t remember his name. That sequence was repeated three more times, no one knowing the brother’s name. I then asked one of the ward missionaries we work with and he gave me a name but sounded so unsure I didn’t trust what he said. Later I described the fellow to Sister Jackson, one of the sister missionaries in the ward, asking he if she thought that was Brother Jacobson, not the name I had been given. She and I felt pretty sure it was and in the ward correlation meeting I described the fellow and asked the WML who confirmed our suspicions to which Sister Jackson gave me knuckles which thrilled her trio companionship when I responded.

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