Saturday, December 13, 2014

Week Seventy-four

WEEK SEVENTY-FOUR December 1, 2014

We have two new WMLs, one in each ward, who really show missionary zeal and are doing such a good job with the ward members, ward missionaries, and the young missionaries. Both bishops are very supportive as well. Surely the Lord will bless them for their heroic efforts.

Visited with the Four family and finished Elder Jeffrey R. Holland’s “The Only true God and Jesus Christ Whom He Hath Sent,” (CR, Oct 2007). Brother Four has been reflective with the new information presented in opposition to long held beliefs. We have been taking turns reading paragraphs and discussing the meaning of each as we have progressed. This completes two of the three addresses of Elder Holland that we felt inspired to discuss with this family (first being “Mormonism 101,” delivered at Harvard Law School, March 2012). We have found these addresses have allowed for greater participation than the discussions which we have already completed. Next week we will start on “My Words … Never Cease,” by Elder Holland, CR, May 2008. As we finished a wonderful discussion that brought much clarity to his mind, Brother Four closed with prayer. As he was ending he felt to ask for special blessings upon us, that we would be sustained by the Spirit, led to the honest in heart, have our minds enlightened as we taught with power, and enjoy much success in bringing others to Christ. He also thanked the Lord for “bringing Elder and Sister Haddock into their lives and their willingness to accept the call to so serve and bless our life.” He is now fully at ease with us bringing the Book of Mormon, Doctrine & Covenants, and Pearl of Great Price into our discussions for needed clarification.

Brother Forty-two sent us a thanksgiving greeting from Queens, New York where he has moved. He told us he is meeting with the missionaries there. We in turn sent links to an electronic Thanksgiving message to which we received a number of well wishes in return. For example Brother Four responded, “Thank you Elder and Sister Haddock, what a beautiful greeting! We enjoyed Thanksgiving Day immensely considering it was the first one in our own home, so we know what gratitude really is. We hope that you enjoyed your Thanksgiving celebration in good company as well. May the rest of your week and weekend, be blessed and covered by the blood of our Savior, Jesus Christ.”

We enjoyed Thanksgiving at the Six family with the Thirty family also with us. As we were leaving Sister Thirty said, “You have been such good friends. We have really enjoyed the relationship with you this past year and are going to miss you. We are hopeful we can stay in touch.

We had planned for some time to take the Two family to the Newport Beach Temple for the family sealing, but the husband has been working out of town several hours away on ridiculously long shifts. So with only a day’s notice we received word he would be in town and there was a race to get all the documentation signed by the stake presidency. The president was out of the country, one counselor on a plane, and the other counselor getting ready to go to the airport. But somehow it all came together.

The spirit present was strong and true, rich and fulfilling, as the mother and father approached the altar for this sacred ordinance. Later as the children entered the sealing room they gathered with their parents and I wish I could have taken a photo. The five of them in white gathered together in that sacred room was priceless. Although I don’t have the photo to prove it, I suspect the picture has been imprinted in my mind forever. What a sweet experience to go from baptism, to Melchizedek priesthood ordination, baptisms for the dead, the endowment and then the sealing with this dear family who we have willingly adopted as our own.

We were to pick up a sweet member couple for lunch with her brother in Lake Arrowhead, where we enjoyed our honeymoon nearly fifty years ago. We haven’t seen the place since. But when we arrived the brother looked horrible. He had an impacted tooth which has now abscessed and swollen up the left side of his face something awful. Finally had to go to emergency even after his visit with the dentist. So he is home in terrible pain but was insistent we take his wife. We had a delightful visit touring the area and answering a barrage of questions about being a Seasoned couple. The brother and wife were fearful of serving but said after talking with us they were ready to go themselves. We drove around the lake, entered the beautiful and unusual Lake Arrowhead Ward chapel, and walked the lakefront stores. There is only one surviving structure from our time here. Sometime in the late 1970s there was so much infestation in the building structures they used a controlled burn to destroy all of them and rebuilt.

Sister H conducted the sharing time in the Lake Forest Ward primary using missionary work as the theme. She enlisted the help of the sister missionaries.

We had another good meeting with the Six family. I’m afraid that the three of them believe the church is true but are having a difficulty seeing it as the only true church. We have run into this conundrum repeatedly in our missionary service. The purpose or even need for priesthood authority just isn’t, other than through inference, really spelled out clearly in Sacred Writ. Even the Book of Mormon does not present the case very well.

Sister H’s cousin, also serving as a Seasoned couple missionary with her husband shared some verses in Isaiah relative to the fast. As I read them I saw a different application for Brother Four and his daily Christian service in these same verses, Isaiah 58:6-77, which I shared with him. Brother Four responded warmly, “Thank you Brother, I was feeling a little down until you sent me this message. Thanks for the reminder of He who supplies all my needs and to just give thanks. I needed that. Man, I sure am going to miss you. I deeply care for you like a close brother. God bless you and your wife for the Spirit that you guys have and display on a daily basis.”

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Week Seventy-three

WEEK SEVENTY-THREE November 24, 2014

Brother Six has mentioned a couple of times that it seems unlikely “our church could be the one and only true church with only 15M members. That statistic diminishes God. He couldn’t plan any better than to just have 15M to spread his word?” I have already pointed out to him that God has always worked with small numbers. Even the Bible that so many cherish today just relates the experiences of Israel among so many other people and “the stone cut out of the mountain without hands” in Daniel sounds like a small group to me. We also have many references to God doing his work through small means and limited number of people (see Gideon in Judges) to demonstrate to the people that He is the one they need to look to and not themselves. Had an impression today to discuss how God uses the Light of Christ to touch the hearts of all His children and to guide them. He has not left them alone. Indeed it is through the Light of Christ that others are brought to receive the Gift of the Holy Ghost. Then to use Mosiah 3:19 to show that through the atonement we are to come to His true church, and then to be enabled with power to become perfected in Christ.

John records that Jesus Christ is “the true Light, which lighteth every man [and woman] that cometh into the world” (John 1:9). Thus within each human being is this element we call the Light of Christ, given by God through His son Jesus Christ, as a sure and certain guide for all His children. Our Savior says, “I am the true light that lighteth every man that cometh into the world” (D&C 93:2). Those who love and live in truth gain further light and become spiritually enabled to discern between light and dark (see John 3:19-21).

The Light of Christ is not restricted because of beliefs, circumstance or geography. Of course, things we believe, choose and do either imbue us with additional light or allow darkness to reign within us. But “If your eye be single to my glory, your whole bodies shall be filled with light, and there shall be no darkness in you; and that body which is filled with light comprehendeth all things” (D&C 88:67).

For the word of the Lord is truth, and whatsoever is truth is light, and whatsoever is light is Spirit, even the Spirit of Jesus Christ. And the Spirit giveth light to every man that cometh into the world; and the Spirit enlighteneth every man through the world, that hearkeneth to the voice of the Spirit. And every one that hearkeneth to the voice of the Spirit cometh unto God, even the Father. And the Father teacheth him of the covenant which he has renewed and confirmed upon you, which is confirmed upon you for your sakes, and not for your sakes only, but for the sake of the whole world. (D&C 84:45-48.)

When we choose and act righteously we are filled with additional light. Eventually, as we choose to center our lives in Christ by emulating Him, He fills us with a fullness of light. Holy Writ describes the process thus: “And that which doth not edify is not of God, and is darkness. That which is of God is light; and he that receiveth light, and continueth in God, receiveth more light; and that light groweth brighter and brighter until the perfect day.” (D&C 50:23-24).

Christ was in the beginning with the Father. Those who are spiritually begotten of Christ are made partakers of the same glory as Christ and the Father. The spirit of truth is of God but it cannot be received without first keeping the commandments. Those that keep the commandments receive more light and truth until they are glorified in truth and know all things. Intelligence itself is the light of truth and is self-existent. In fact, all truth is independent in the sphere God places it to act for itself. Otherwise there would be no existence. Because of that independence given in agency, man is either glorified or condemned by whether he chooses light or dark. (See D&C 93:21-32.)

Those that believe they have enough light and need no more light, lose even the light that they first had. God gives unto his children a little at a time, then a little more if they accept and obey. Those who harken to the small portion of light first given, are blessed, "learn wisdom" and receive more and more light. However, those that say they have enough light, is taken away even what they had. (See 2 Nephi 28:29-30.)      

All the powers of God are made manifest in us through the Light of Christ, as are all the gifts of the Spirit and the workings of the Holy Ghost. The Light of Christ appears to be demonstrated in a progressive fashion, each stage derived through a greater manifestation of the Light of Christ. Thus the Light of Christ is first noticed with evidence of life itself, then with instinct in the animal kingdom, and physical light that allows us to see, increasing to awareness and conscience to enable agency, and reason in man, then discernment, inspiration, and the witness of the Holy Ghost, followed by choices that bring the gift of the Holy Ghost and the associated constant companionship of the Spirit, and finally sanctification, a complete cleansing and purification (see D&C 88:4-13).

Sister Four sent out this sweet note of appreciation, “I just wanted to thank everyone for their well wishes and support! [My husband] gave a wonderful sermon on Praise and Thanksgiving which is most appropriate during this time of year (and all year long). I want to thank especially our friends who were in attendance physically and spiritually. It was truly beautiful to see members of the non-denominational church, members from Saddleback Church and members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints come together to hear an edifying word that gave praises to our Lord and Savior. [We] … feel truly blessed to have each and every one of your in our lives and pray that we bless you in the same way. When the link to the sermon is made available to us, I will be sure to share it with you so you can watch and hope that the spirit touches you as we felt it touched us. Have a wonderful and blessed week and many, many thanks! Much love. I replied that we considered it our good fortune to be there and shared the Viewpoint editorial in the Church News 9 Nov 2014 about being a voice of gladness. Brother Four responded as well, ‘More and more you make me feel like, ‘He gets me! Here's a man who understands me’ Thanks Brother.”

We had another special mission conference to receive instruction on the Church initiative for December, He is the Gift. It will be a month-long Christmas initiative, beginning November 28, He Is the Gift focuses on God’s love for the world, made manifest in the first gift of Christmas, even the Lord Jesus Christ. The invitation is for all members of the church to flood the earth with the messages of righteousness and truth found in the He Is the Gift initiative. Visit to find inspiring content to help discover, embrace, and share the gift of God’s love for us, made manifest in His Only Begotten Son. By using the hashtag #ShareTheGift, we can sweep the earth with timeless—and timely—messages of the Savior Jesus Christ. Ads will be in Times Square, on the You Tube mast head the month of December and special pass along card, nine in the December Ensign to share with your friends.

I’m not sure as a missionary we are much of a player in the process of increasing our investigator’s faith. I have been overwhelmed with the feeling that the Lord is truly the Lord of the harvest and not us. It doesn’t appear that we have the capacity to fill someone with the desire necessary to make, let alone keep, commitments or exercise faith. We do give them doctrine to consider, testimonies to feel, and seek to set a spiritual tone that invites the presence of the Spirit, all of which are beneficial to them. Thinking along the lines of D&C 8:2-3, we assist in getting information into their mind (head) and the Holy Ghost then moves that information into their hearts. This movement by the Holy Ghost from the head to the heart seems to be the element necessary for them to be filled with sufficient desire and faith to make and keep commitments. As they make and keep commitments the Spirit bears further witness, thereby increasing their faith through powerful spiritual experiences that resonate and expand in their heart. As we bear testimony, live in harmony with the Spirit ourselves, we invite the Spirit into our discussions by our very lives, interests, and desires. Our love for the investigator encourages us to so live to enable them to feel the Spirit as we teach. But if one is to be converted, they must be filled with desire (see Mosiah 5:2) that only the Holy Ghost can produce, as our limited testimonies and teachings are brought from the head into the heart and the investigator is edified.

On our morning walk this week we came across two coyote’s that had wandered up from the river, crossed the footbridge and were startling dogs who were being walked. We gave them a wide birth and snapped a couple of pictures.

Met with the Twenty-one family who are settling in nicely. With his call as Scoutmaster and second counselor in the YM he expressed some concern about being able to handle it all. We talked scouting and of the promised blessings that whom the Lord calls he qualifies, and the additional blessings of being faithful to the Lord even with his busy schedule.

We received an invitation from the Seventy-six family for lunch at Lake Arrowhead when Sister H and I had our honeymoon. Haven’t been back since so we are quite excited about next week’s visit.

Brother Two who is out of town working sent me the following text, “Thinking of you guys and missing you too! I’m reading first Nephi. My goal is to read all of first Nephi this month along with Acts. Would you say that we were created to bring God glory? God wants all glory right? He is displeased when man wants glory here and now on earth right? Appreciate your response.” I replied, quoting liberally from Givens, The God Who Weeps—Kyle take a look at these scriptures: Ephesians 5:18–21; Hebrews 13:15–17, 20–21 and D&C 59:21 regarding praise to God and honoring him through obedience. As to your underlying question, the one not spoken, clearly, to aspire to be God is sin. However to desire to be like God, in the sense that we partake of His divine nature, is love and devotion as we are his sons and daughters. So any concept of eternal life must be framed by the invitation from God to share in the divine nature that is His. As long as it is God's nature and character we're striving to emulate, and not his power and glory, we are on safe ground.

Seeking for His power and glory is the course Satan took and we see where that got him. Peter says it beautifully in 2 Peter 1:4 remarking that the precious and very great promises given to us are that we may become participants in the divine nature of God. You see, relationships are the core of our existence because they are the core of Gods and we are in His image. That’s why the family dynamic is so crucial to us as it is the stage where we learn to emulate and put on the divine nature of God, living as He lives and making relationships paramount. We don’t acquire God’s nature by sitting on a mountain and contemplating the universe, but by putting into practice His nature, acting as He would act in our family and other relationships. God's nature and life are the simple extension of that which is most elemental and most worthwhile here on earth. It is a belonging that we crave because it is one we have always known—for we enjoyed family relationships and other sacred relationships while in His presence before we came to earth. To me that realization alone affirms that we are of divine lineage, with a home in the heavens, and sparks every hope of returning there. This sense of identity with God makes our search for the divine nature an act of filial love, devotion and emulation—a return in fullness to that which we had previously known, loved and participated in.

We stopped by to visit with Brother Twenty telling him it was probably our last visit and shared how much we had enjoyed meeting with him and he reciprocated how much he had enjoyed our “deep gospel discussions.” He had some concerns and we offered to give him a blessing which he accepted. It was one of those sweet blessings where the words just come in a rush, powerful and empathetic, and according to Brother Twenty covered every concern he had been having.

Had a nice discussion with Brother Fifteen to review his handiwork on the knives he is making for us and also to discuss the Executive Summary I prepared for him. He had not read the email version I sent but promised to read this and I said I would do another two pages each on the five points listed if he wanted. He smiled.

Attended the baptism of Brother Seventy-seven. A very spiritual baptism. Felt impressed to bear my testimony concerning Heavenly Father knowing us we knowing him, and that when we see him we will remember His face, the twinkle in his eye and a rush of love, long forgotten, will pour over us. Heard from several afterwards that the word picture resonated with them. Which was not surprising as the words were given to me before I arose to bear witness.

Met with the Two family as Sister Two had some questions about Heavenly Father and the Savior, concerning which is which in the scriptures. I shared that since the members of the Godhead seem make no effort to distinguish which among them is speaking it is difficult for us to figure it out. Then with divine investiture of authority the difficulty is compounded. The conclusion I drew is that since it doesn’t seem to matter to the members of the Godhead which of them is speaking, why should it matter to us which among them is speaking. She agreed with that assessment. “It appears to me,” I said, “that before and in the Garden of Eden the God who is speaking is Heavenly Father. That subsequent to the Fall we can come to the Father only through Jesus Christ (formerly Jehovah) and except for the limited times the Father has introduced His Son our dealings are with the Savior and our responsibility is to worship Heavenly Father through His son Jesus Christ, our Savior.”

At church was able to make connections with four different families we have been trying to visit and set up appointments.

Had some strong impression about certain questions I was to ask Brother Six on Sunday and some information I was to give him in how to proceed. So when they announced they had other things to attend to that day and had to postpone our visit I was struggling. I shared with him that I had questions to ask and some clarification to give and he shrugged, “what can you do?” But we settled on Thanksgiving Day to visit, just the two of us, while the food was being prepared, and follow up and what the Lord had directed.

Had a thought today at church during the gospel essential class. It deals with a verse that some seem to leave out. We have had many evangelicals out here quote from Matthew 28:19-20 to demonstrate belief is all that is necessary and the whole truth is contained in the Bible. But when verse 18 is included, it is clear as a result of the atonement that the Father has given all power to Christ, not to the book we now call the Bible.

18 And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth.

 19 ¶Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:

 20 Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world.

Sister H had her first physical therapy visit this week for her back pain and learned that her pelvis was out of alignment and she needed to correct that before she could work on strengthening her core. So she was given the necessary therapy and schedule to follow for the next four weeks.

Week Seventy-two

WEEK SEVENTY-TWO November 17, 2014

Had a health blessing schedule the first of the week with Brother Thirteen. We had taught the family for several months over a year ago. The husband felt the tender confirming voice of the Spirit and almost immediately confessed the truthfulness of the restored gospel. However family dynamics are such he has been unable or unwilling to make the choice to embrace the truth revealed to him. Sister Thirteen has either received no such witness or has rejected it outright, although commenting repeatedly the good feelings that are in their home, even for days after we leave, when we are there. Yet has no interest in pursuing those feelings. Brother Thirteen recently had a change in his medication that have made him feel quite poorly for some time and asked for a blessing. We have given him a couple of blessing previously. But when I called he begged off, saying it was not a good time and he would have to call me later. “Not a good time,” is usually code for his wife being there and he being unwilling to upset her.

We attended a viewing of the mother of Sister 39 at Forest Lawn taking a couple from the ward with us and meeting the bishop and his wife while we were there. We had a nice visit with Sister 39’s family and she seemed very pleased that we all had made the trip to be there to support her.

Sister H has been having some problems with her back with ever increasing pain so we saw the doctor and had x-rays and scheduled a visit with physical therapy and with an orthopedic surgeon to evaluate and treat.

Brother Four prepared a wonderful southern dinner for us and the two sets of elders in the ward. I think it was the best potato salad I’ve ever eaten and cabbage cooked with bacon that was outstanding. Before we ate Brother four said to the elders, “I don’t know what we are going to do when Brother and Sister Haddock are released. They have brought so much into our lives. We love them so much.” Elder Dehass and Deacon read a couple of scriptures and by the time Thomas and I had added to their message we were out of time for our discussion with them. We ended up taking the elders to their next appointment as the Chesley’s both had to get back to their schoolwork. As we drove they both commented “there is something special between you and the Chesley’s, a special bond, feelings of love that are really noticeable. Brother Four has been asked to preach Sunday at Reach Community Church and had invited us to attend. His subject is on gratitude and praising God so we shared some ideas he might use from the Book of Mormon.

On the appointed Sunday we attended the Reach Community Church in Lake Forest, to hear Brother Four preach. There were about 35 in attendance. Sister Four had invited some friends from the church and from Saddleback church, former neighbors. Other than the wife of one parishioner, everyone was of color but us. The music and messages were terrific. All would have fit well in any LDS congregation. They started with a welcome, a call to worship with a scripture and prayer, praise & worship standing while prayers and scriptures were offered, a family prayer on the congregation and then a welcome fellowship. Everyone got up and met 4-5 people and had a conversation with them to get acquainted. It was great. Then Brother four gave his sermon on praising and giving thanksgiving to God. He used well Ephesians 5:20 and Hebrews 13:15 and the Savior’s experience in Gethsemane and Calvary noting the Savior’s continual praise and thanksgiving to God even during his trials. “No matter what is going wrong about us, there are still things for which we can praise God. That is the sacrifice we are to make.” Worship in giving followed, then an altar call, and the benediction. Took an hour and one-half. We left to attend other meetings, but the congregation then had Sunday school class. Interesting was the fact there were no youth whatsoever in the congregation. The church is in the midst of a yearlong effort to bless families, Recover, Renew, and Reclaim – The Family Project, a Divine Reflection. Rather than a passing of a plate, with the program was an envelope which read, “Thank you for giving unto the LORD through… tithes and Offerings.” Blanks were for Tithes, Offering, Hope Box, and Other.

Following his preaching I sent a note of appreciation to Brother Four who responded, “I know that we serve the same God as you see the Holy Spirit laid the same thing on my heart about the restoration of family. The premise behind this movement is to bring about restoration to the American Family. We have family members who are estranged, have been a runaway, or family may have sent them away. These and other circumstances have resulted in the fragmentation of American families all over the world. It shouldn't take a tragedy to unite families, it only takes love and forgiveness. It takes family forgiving family members who have transgressed and done them wrong in some fashion. Some acts may have been so egregious that it may seem impossible to forgive. But if I kept a catalog of all the things I've done wrong, it would be hard for me to see what someone else has done when all the things that I have done that I needed forgiveness for is right in front of my face. I can't see the splinter in their eye because of this big old beam that's in my eye, obscuring my view. Now that the scales have fallen from my eyes, I can see things more clearly and realize the importance of family. I am proposing a large scale family picnic where everyone can attend and bring their families. Here is a chance to invite people who complete your family unit to come home and find forgiveness and restoration. We will reserve a park that is large enough to accommodate 500 families and friends and all are welcome. On this day, there is no family member who is not welcome to come home. If they don't know where home is, let's have a station where family members can look up their families and even if they can't physically get home, let's make it possible for people to call their families. Even if we have volunteers who make the call and break the ice for them on this day, the people of God connect and strive to bring about unity in the family all across America. The "Come Home Campaign" is held the first two weeks of August and on the 2nd Saturday of every August is declared "National Day of Reconciliation." where family forgives and restores missing family members. The next day will be "National Family Reunion Day" when the families who reconciled Saturday can sit down with their restored family unit and celebrate with a family meal. I believe that this is a revelation from the Lord in His beginning stage of restoring the church by first restoring the family. I need help in getting this measure put to the people for a vote. I need a lot of help. “

We took elderly Brother and Sister Sixty-two shopping again. They were so appreciative. Makes us wish there was more we could do to brighten their days. What wonderful people. Young Brother Two texted us to pray for him for a big test that he had been studying for.

We received what we read as a humorous cancellation of a meeting by the Seventy-three family, “We are not going to be able to make it at 5 today! We are going to do something important!” If they only knew.

Met with Sister Two whose husband is away for several weeks working. Our visit prompted her again to set a date for their sealing.

We gave the spiritual thought in Ward Council of the Lake Forest ward today from D&C 38:

1 Thus saith the Lord your God, even Jesus Christ, the Great I Am, Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, the same which looked upon the wide expanse of eternity, and all the seraphic hosts of heaven, before the world was made;

 2 The same which knoweth all things, for all things are present before mine eyes;

 3 I am the same which spake, and the world was made, and all things came by me…

7 … verily, verily, I say unto you that mine eyes are upon you. I am in your midst and ye cannot see me;

 8 But the day soon cometh that ye shall see me, and know that I am …

 9 Wherefore, gird up your loins and be prepared. Behold, the kingdom is yours, and the enemy shall not overcome…

 15 Therefore, be ye strong from henceforth; fear not, for the kingdom is yours…

 16 for I have heard your prayers,

Met a couple of times this week with the Six family who are struggling with the claim that his is the “only true and living church.” We discussed JSH 1:18-19, D&C 1:30 and Mosiah 3:18-19. Pointed out key differences such as continuing revelation with Christ at the head of the church, priesthood authority in performing ordinances, and the gift of the Holy Ghost. 

As our P-day drew to a close Sister H said she wanted to eat dinner at In-N-Out. For some unknown reason I didn’t drive to either of the two closest restaurants but instead drove to the one in Foothill Ranch. It just felt right. Sister H asking, “Where are you going?” While on the way there felt impressed to stop by and give the Six family three talks, Elder Oaks, “The Only True and Living Church,” Elder Packer, “Only True Church,” and “The Stone Cut Out of the Mountain” by President Gordon B. Hinckley. Then on the way decided to detour to See’s holiday candy store in ‘Foothill Ranch being managed by Brother Fifty-five who was so excited to see us he talked and talked. He decided because of our visit that he should talk to his father about preparing for the temple. We told him we would accommodate any schedule his father needed to have him prepared. As we left we both were stunned with all the changes, feeling, stops and directions we traversed to make this visit possible. Oh the continual tender mercies of the Lord.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Week Seventy-one

WEEK SEVENTY-ONE November 10, 2014

Following is a brief synopsis of our mission conference with Elder Wilford W. Andersen, Of the Quorum of the Seventy and his wife Kathleen. We met all day Monday from 9:00 a.m. to about 4 p.m. Then again Tuesday with a Senior couple luncheon and evening meeting as well.

President Lutz, of the mission presidency presented a training on “Inviting Members to Use Social Media.” Since Sister H and I are not on any social media nor have we had any experience in this area, the fact that one can learn at was about all we got out of it.

The assistants then made a presentation on the Power of Inviting, suggesting these four steps: 
1.       Lesson review before extending invitation
2.       Promise blessing of keeping commitment and bear testimony
3.       Make a powerful and bold invitation
4.       Explain why they want to keep their commitment

Sister Orgill, the mission president’s wife used Ether 2-6 to demonstrate that the process of coming to Christ requires we do very hard things. So if you have a problem
1.       Ask the Lord
2.       Follow his counsel
3.       Don’t know what your promised land may be, but keep moving forward
4.       Repent
5.       Go to work, God will show you the way
6.       Work out your problems as best you can Ether 2:23-25
7.       Trust God will direct you Ether 6:8
8.       Trust the Lord even in your distress Ether 6:4-8
9.       Express gratitude and thanksgiving continually
10.     You will arrive where God wants you to be

President Orgill then shared training they had recently received at the western missionary president’s conference under the direction of Elder D. Todd Christofferson concerning the elements of conversion. Elder Christofferson promised

          As you feast upon the Book of Mormon your conversion will deepen
          Because in our day the Book of Mormon is the instrument of conversion
          Give more time in your morning study of the Book of Mormon
          Make sure your investigators are doing the same

The following Keys to Conversion were discussed in detail:
1.       Know Jesus Christ not just about him
2.       Commit to “thy will be done”
3.       Remember no rebellion or resistance
4.       Do your own waiting on the Lord, be patient
5.       Dig deep, build your foundation on a rock
6.       Fast and pray often
7.       Be faithful and obedient
8.       Take ownership, don’t be an observer
9.       Hang on forever and always
10.     Nourish testimony consistently
11.     Exercise faith to continue in faith (Faith – knowledge – more faith – more knowledge

Sister Kathleen Andersen then spoke of the “Goodness of God,” defining good to mean “of God.” She told the missionaries “You are good. You are “of God” so feel good about yourself, draw closer to God. She then shared patterns they should be learning to feel good and to feel happy and committed them to follow those patters throughout their lives.

Elder Wilford W. Andersen presentation was on “Enlarging Your Vision as Missionary.” He wanted us to see that everything was dependent upon something, i.e., to enjoy Eternal Life one has to Endure to the End. To endure to the end one must have the guidance of the Holy Ghost. To receive the Holy Ghost one has to be Baptized, which cannot happen unless we first Repent, which as a precondition requires us to have exercised faith.

He then spoke of how to build another’s faith.  The missionaries’ responsibility is to ignite faith in another. It has to start with desire. Desire comes from the Holy Ghost. Desire leads to faith. Faith grows through obedience as you desire to repent then are baptized. Does every investigator keep their commitments? No. Why not? They don’t have the desire. Remember only the Holy Spirit can create desire in another. So our responsibility is to do things that invite the spirit. Then the Spirit an take the information the head has received and move it to the heart which instills desire. Again, only the Holy Ghost can do this, missionaries cannot. Two other things missionaries can do to invite the Spirit are avoiding contention and teaching in love and kindness

If the investigator makes a commitment without first being filled with desire, they probably won’t keep the commitment. The heart takes the knowledge and edifies, lifts, fills, and completes. Investigators keep commitments because desire has first been established. Don’t invite until they feel desire in their heart. After the confirmation of desire (Mosiah 5:5) they will enter into a covenant to do God’s will and keep it

What can you do to assist your investigators in keeping their commitments? Answers included follow up by leaving something with them and returning, texting, daily contact of some kind, prayer, reading scriptures together.

Sacrament is our renewal covenant of baptism. As we partake correctly we are forgiven and we are reborn. He shared a story while he was mission president. “I had a missionary tell me he was not feeling the spirit as he was before. I asked, Are you getting along with your companion? Yes, best companion ever. Are you obedient? Yes. Are you keeping at bay impure thoughts? Yes. I was stumped and then a thought came to me. Have you been partaking the sacrament regularly? His answer was no. They had investigators who was always running late and feeling they needed to stay with them to get them to church so they were late and missing the sacrament.

Please keep in mind we don’t have to convince anyone. We teach pure doctrine and ask them study, repent and pray to obtain a witness for themselves.

At the luncheon we were seated by the Andersen’s so I shared with him my observation as bishop with returned missionaries that I had noticed those whose presidents had focused on doctrine and Christ came back well-adjusted and able to handle whatever life threw at them. Whereas those whose presidents focused on procedures, routines, and numbers were absolutely lost when things didn’t go their way. I asked him what he had seen. Said he, “The results the Brethren have seen validate your observation.”

The evening meeting was for stake presidents, bishops, ward mission leaders and all ward missionaries. Elder Haynie, from Escondido, our Area Authority Seventy spoke first for about 20 minutes and Elder Andersen took the rest of the time.

Elder Haynie shared counsel from Elder David Bednar that this hastening of the work is being done by the Lord and not us. The Lord has said, “Behold, I will hasten my work in its time” (D&C 88:73). The question then are these, 1) Will we keep pace?; 2) Will we learn and teach in the Saviors way? We need to learn and to change if we are to press forward in faith. He asked, “What do we need to be doing today?” We need revelation to answer that question.

Said he, “I don’t think I appreciated just what priesthood keys meant regarding missionary work when I was stake president.” It is the directing authority of the priesthood and in missionary work it is the directing authority of missionary work in your stake, stake presidents, and your ward, bishops. You alone hold the keys to its success.

He asked, “What changes have you noticed in Ward Council formats?” You bishops are to speak less and speak last. The Executive Secretary is to run the council. Everyone there is responsible for everything. No one has an isolated responsibility. The primary president is responsible for missionary work and everything else at that council. The focus is to be on the work of salvation—families and individuals. Ward Mission Plan is everyone’s responsibility. Needs to be brief, simple, ordinance based and all members of the ward need to know it. WML and Assistant WML are to work seamlessly with full-time missionaries, not separately, but together. Missionaries are to be giving 20 minute lessons to al members.

What causes missionary miracles?
1.       Perception of power in those who hold the keys
2.       Lost Israel is all around us, need faith to find them
3.       They must feel something urgent about the message and the messengers
4.       Strength of the message
5.       Prepare ourselves
6.       God chooses to participate ! Thought he should have used Alma 16:16 here

In Mosiah 17 and Alma 26 we learn the Sons of Mosiah were patient in their afflictions before the hand of the Lord was revealed. They fasted and prayed for many days. We need to fast and pray more. It was revealed to Amulek to take Alma into his home in Alma 8.

At a recent meeting I asked Elder D. Todd Christofferson why we have not seen the missionary miracles here. He thought for a bit and then said, “I have the feeling that maybe you are not doing quite enough with the less actives.”

Elder Wilford Andersen told a story Elder Dallin H. Oaks shared. When called to the Quorum of the Twelve he had never served in a bishopric or stake presidency. At the time he was the gospel doctrine teacher in his ward. His first assignment was to a stake in California with Elder Boyd K. Packer. He waited patiently to hear from Elder Packer and finally a few days before they were to depart asked Elder Packer what he should prepare. Elder Packer said bring your scriptures alone and we will think of something. As the first meeting began Elder Packer said, “We have two hours. You take the first hour and I will take the second hour. So Elder Oaks decided to present the last Sunday school lesson he had given the week before. It took him 45 minutes and he sat down. Elder Packer arose and spoke for exactly one hour then said, “I asked Elder Oaks to take the first hour. He only took 45 minutes. He will now take the next 15 minutes.”

You may wonder why my wife is not sitting on the stand. The procedural rule is this: If participating in the meeting it is appropriate to sit on the stand. So were my wife to be speaking tonight she would be here beside me. But she is not, for which she is grateful, and is not sitting on the stand.

He then spoke to the “miracles” that Elder Haynie had introduced. Miracles that can only be quantified by numbers are difficult to assess. I’m not so concerned with numbers as I am with desire. If we have the desire and are doing our part, the numbers will take care of themselves. Remember it is the Lord who is the Lord of the harvest not us. So whether the numbers follow or not is immaterial if our desire and effort is right. Our job as missionaries is to ignite that desire in all ward members to be missionaries.

Let’s talk a bit about desire. The scriptures teach that eternal life will come to all who desire it. See Alma 29:4. You might say well everyone wants eternal life. But I ask, Do they? Does everyone want to home and visit teach the Lord’s way? Does everyone want to commit themselves to the Lord fully? Is everyone willing to allow their will to be swallowed in the will of the Lord? Does everyone want to spend time in family history or in the temple? The answer is no!

The rest of the world is vertically organized. Our factories are built on vertical organization, each group doing its part and a group above that takes their output and adds to the that effort. But the church is horizontally organized. The Lord→Prophet→Stake President→Bishop→Primary Teacher. Each of these has the same reasonability to the individual. The assignments are different but the responsibility is the same.  Why? Because God wants us all to learn what He does.

So I ask, How much do we really desire to participate in this work? D&C 84:19-21 we read, “And this greater priesthood administereth the gospel and holdeth the key of the mysteries of the kingdom, even the key of the knowledge of God. Therefore, in the ordinances thereof, the power of godliness is manifest. And without the ordinances thereof, and the authority of the priesthood, the power of godliness is not manifest unto men in the flesh.” The knowledge of God is Eternal life. The ordinances thereof are critical. What are the saving ordinances? Baptism/Confirmation; Melchizedek Priesthood; Endowment/Initiatory; Sealing.

Ordinances invite us to make covenants. I fear we focus too much on the ordinances and too little on the covenants. Some perform the ordinances but fail in their covenants. Without covenants there is no power to ordinances. If we focus on baptism numbers, the ordinance which can be measured, and fail to focus on the covenants which cannot be measured, we lose power. Hyper focus on measurables loses what is in the heart. When covenants are in place the harvest will come as the Lord wants them. That is our goal. How do we get our hearts right? Mosiah 5:32, spirit changed desire. It is the spirit of the Lord that is needed to change our desire.

Forgiveness changes the heart of the offended. Remission changes the heart of the offendor and only Christ can remit sins. When offended the Holy Ghost leaves. Properly partaking of the Sacrament allows us to regain the power of the Holy Ghost. We then become once again reborn, spiritually begotten sons and daughters of Christ. See Mosiah 5:7. We are the children of God, he is our Heavenly Father. When we are reborn we are the children of Christ, Christ is our father. This is a reason why they are one.

Now focus on building your desire to share the gospel. It can only be done through the Holy Ghost. We must invite the Holy Ghost into our lives, by eliminating sin, pride, immorality and lack of virtue. Embrace your covenants, think about them, and evaluate your life against your covenants. The power is in the covenants. What has the Lord promised? Let your covenants work in you, purify you, fill you with desire. The Holy Ghost moves our covenants from our head to our heart and fills us with desire. We feel the spirit, get desire, and then commit. Our investigators must be filled with desire before they can commit and do. Likewise, our members must be filled with desire before they can commit and so do. So focus on building desire in the hearts of members. You do this be creating opportunities for them to feel the spirit. When you have a thought, do it.

So I ask, what is God telling you tonight. You probably don’t hear it, but feel it. Do it! Don’t reject God’s invitations. The Lord gives us the pattern: Instruct, Edify, Act. In D&C 82:15 we read “bind yourselves by this covenant.”

The Lord says he has engraven us on the palms of his hands. 1 Nephi 21:16 “Behold, I have graven thee upon the palms of my hands; thy walls are continually before me.” This means the marks of the crucifixion are continually before him to remind us of His covenant in love.

One of the senior couples who have completed their assignment asked for some input he could use when speaking to his ward about preparation for serving a senior mission. So I prepared a little paper including sections of Preparing To Be A Seasoned Missionary, What to Expect as a Seasoned MLS Missionary Couple, and What You Will Learn or Be Reminded Of.

A brother in the Lake Forest Ward called and asked for contact information on 19th Family. We are trying to get ward members involved with these families we have been working with so as we leave there will not be a gap. In this case the husband has a firm testimony of the gospel which is not shared by his wife. The dynamics of the marriage are such that he sees no way to conform to his testimony. The brother called me back later to say the situation was exactly as I had said so he wasn’t sure just what the ward could do. Brother 19 did ask for a blessing on this coming Wednesday morning as he was having some difficulties with new medication and I said I would take care of that as it would be on a work day for the ward brother.

Visited with Sister 39 at church Sunday and learned that her mother, who has been very sick for some time, passed away at 2:30 a.m. that morning. Our sister, even knowing this was best for her mother, was visible shaken. We tried to comfort her as best we could. The next day we received an invite from her to attend the viewing of my mother next week in Cypress, California.

Met with 68, 69 and 70 families with a short lesson on patriarchal blessings in which I shared some stories from my dad and grandfather. Then spent the rest of the evening setting up church accounts on Family Search, and showing them how to use the programs, etc.

On Friday evening, at the invitation of the bishop and his wife, we had a dinner date with them and the 73 Family, at a food court in Foothill Ranch. Half of us got fish tacos at Rubio’s the other halt at an Indian restaurant. We had a very spiritual discussion in which Sister 73, the non-member, readily participated.

This week we also met with Twenty-first family. We arrived early to review with the father again the procedures for giving a name and a blessing for his five and three year old daughters. I had typed up all the pertinent information the ward clerk would need to create their records and gave that to the member of the bishopric who came. He was quite surprised at what was prepared, “I was going to ask you to write all this down. This is great.”

The girls were great. The spirit was rich. The father who had never even witnessed a name and blessing before was flawless. Both blessings were very different yet both cautioned regarding the importance of making and keeping sacred covenants. Clearly with his very young background in church things, he had heard the voice of the Lord and was giving the Lord’s blessing to these beautiful young girls.

Also met with the Six family this week. We had a follow-up lesson to knowing by prayer what is true and then answered several questions that were presented.

The concerns of Brother 15 concerning the existence and nature of God seemed to be well treated in a book I just read, The God Who Weeps. So I offered to share a copy with Brother 15 who declined asking, “Can you give me an executive summary?” I told him I could and wrote up a two page account for him to consider. Introducing five other topics, which should he be interested, I said I would write up a two page executive summary on those as well.

Attended our last Senior Couples family home evening, this time at the president’s home. We were serenaded as Jan danced the hula to the Hawaiian song they were singing. I was given the floor and spoke of our experiences with the Twenty-first family pointing out that for seasoned couples it is not only about baptizing. We will miss these folks.

Friday, November 7, 2014

Week Seventy

WEEK SEVENTY November 3, 2014

I have tried over the years to understand how grace is manifest in us, just what this “born again” process of being baptized or purified with fire really is all about. How does it work? This is what I have noticed.

The heart is the central element in our conversion from fallen mankind to becoming holy beings—for the heart reveals not the avowed man but the true man. We build a heart acceptable to God though our faith in Christ, and as we willingly come unto Him our hearts are "changed through faith on his name" (Mosiah 5:7).

As our hearts are changed within us, we become born again and our "souls [become] illuminated by the light of the everlasting word" (Alma 5:7). We then begin to see and feel—to sense, then to know, and finally to understand—the verities of eternity. The process of being born again itself causes our souls to be filled "with joy and consolation" through the redemptive power that is in Christ, which power purifies and sanctifies our hearts in an ongoing process of perfection that remains viable in us only as we continue yielding our "hearts unto God" (Helaman 3:35). 

In yielding our hearts to God we enter into additional covenants "with our God," bringing an ever refining fire into our souls which encourages us "to do his will, and to be obedient to his commandments in all things ... all the remainder of our days" (Mosiah 5:5). As the reality of these covenants empower us, we become the sons and daughters of Christ, being "spiritually begotten" of the Redeemer (Mosiah 5:7).

With changed hearts, and as evidence of the covenants we have now entered into, we willingly accept the changes that Christ works in us and the cardinal virtues—exemplified in those who live exalted lives—become part of us as well. Thus we willingly yield to the "enticings of the Holy Spirit;" putting "off the natural man" or woman; becoming a "saint through the atonement of Christ the Lord;" and becoming "submissive, meek, humble, patient, full of love." In so becoming, we begin to sense the common thread of those who are born again is a willingness "to submit to all things which the Lord seeth fit to inflict upon" them (Mosiah 3:19).

As our will becomes one with God, we are freed from the "bonds of iniquity" and the "gall of bitterness." Leaving the "state of nature" even the "carnal state" introduced through mortality at the time of the fall—a state which is "contrary to the nature of God"—we become changed in Christ and enter into a state in harmony with the "nature of happiness" (see Alma 41:11).

We begin to enjoy the "happiness which is affixed" to the atonement and are freed from the punishment affixed in opposition to the law (2 Nephi 2:10). Our hope is illuminated and brightens within us as we see and comprehend with our spiritual eyes that we will be "raised to endless happiness." We know that "endless happiness" comes only "according to [our] desires of happiness, or good according to our desires of good" which have been carefully nurtured within our heart. Thus having come unto Christ and allowing ourselves to become one with Christ, we are changed in him. We now accept of the divine within us and begin the process of becoming "redeemed of the Lord" (Alma 41:4, 5, 7) which fills us with "hope through the atonement of Christ and the power of the resurrection, to be raised unto life eternal, ... because of [our] faith in him according to the promise" (Moroni 7:41).

The words Mormon uses resonate with me as he illustrates how the Holy Spirit effected the necessary change in King Lamoni’s heart. “Under the power of God … the dark veil of unbelief was … cast away from his mind, and the light which did light up his mind, which was the light of the glory of God, … was a marvelous light of his goodness—yea, this light … infused … joy into his soul.” Light infusing joy into one’s soul certainly evokes thoughts of increased desire and understanding borne of the Spirit, and then “the cloud of darkness [was] dispelled, … the light of everlasting life was lit up in his soul” for he was filled with hope being “carried away in God.” (Alma 19:6)

Brother Two is out of town on business for the next several weeks so I have tried to stay in touch with him by text messages every day or so. Our hearts were filled with this exchange: “I read 1 Nephi 8. It was so full of truth. Godly truth. I know that repentance and baptism was when I took hold of the iron rod and began to follow the narrow path. What is it that we do that represents eating the white fruit from the tree of life? Is that in the future? I know it’s essential. Lehi’s vision with the white fruit isn’t literal is it?”

I shared my thoughts that the tree of life and its precious fruit are symbols of Christ's redemption. It is a symbol of God's love and Christ's atonement. In 1 Nephi 15:36 we see the fruit is the culmination of God’s love and Christ's atonement and they even imply eternal life being the greatest of all the gifts that God can give. Once you partake of the saving ordinances, i.e. Baptism and confirmation, priesthood, and temple ordinances, then you have partaken of the atonement and have done what is necessary to receive the gift of eternal life if you remain faithful. Brother Two replied, “Makes good sense! I just got thinking about Lehi’s vision and wanted to create a more personal sense of it.”

Sister Two in her anxiety to get back to the temple with us, obtained a reservation for the Spanish session this week, which gave me some concern how she would handle that. But because of the way she prepared the print outs, instead of participating in the endowment session she performed female baptisms for the dead and then we did the initiatory work, both male and female that she had ready. It was a sweet experience reminded us all of the importance of this work and our own sacred covenants.  

We had our last transfer meeting today before we ourselves leave and hurried over for our meeting with the Four family. When Brother four opened the door with the Laker basketball game blaring he said, “Didn’t my wife call you? She said she was going to call you” We told him she had not. Apparently she had to work tonight and was going to call telling us not to come. Brother Four invited us in anyway and turned off the TV. We shared a little pamphlet on the Book of Mormon timeline, left a copy of the Jeffrey R. Holland general conference address we are going to discuss at the next visit, and enjoyed a nice discussion, answering a number of questions. In fact as we left, I noted to Sister H. how happy I was his wife had not called as the spirit of the discussion and its direction were really positive. I offered to wrap things up after about 20 minutes so he could get back to his game. “No,” he said, “This is good. Let’s keep going.”

In the course of the conversation, I asked about the comment directed at Russell Wilson, the quarterback for Seattle, that he was “not being black enough.” Apparently, according to Brother Four, there is a little of the lobster trying to get out of the pot and being pulled back in with the black community. So if someone cleans up their language and manners they are considered being white and not black enough. “It’s a term of derision, although sometimes it arises out of jealousy and envy.” Then he said, “I could tell, just looking into your eyes when we first met, that you had no issue with my blackness. You saw me only as a man. I could see it in your eyes. I could trust you. You truly cared about me as a person.”

He also told us a story about being asked by his wife to check the oil in her car, but he had forgotten. With the need to drive to Long Beach tonight, she asked him if he had done so. He told her he had forgotten but would come right over to her work and do it. He picked up three quarts of oil. Checked the oil gauge, looked bone dry to him, added two quarts but then didn’t check the gauge a second time. Decided to add the third quart to make sure. She got a few blocks from work and called, she was smoking so badly she couldn’t see in her rearview mirror. He then realized he had put in too much oil. So they parked the car and he drove her to Long Beach arriving home just before we knocked on his door.

I sent a note to Brother Four the next day to see if he got his wife’s car taken care of or needed some help from us. He replied, “Yes, we drove it to Walmart and left it in the parking until we were able to get the oil change. Again, the Lord supplied our need. Hallelujah! Blessed be the name of the Lord. Thanks for caring. Love you both and you know what? Ain't a Thing you can do about it! Have a blessed day.” This constantly being reaffirmed in our service can get intoxicating.

Have been trying for two weeks now to set up a baby blessing, girls 5 and 3, for the Twenty-one family. But date after date didn’t work and then this week, the 3 year old got sick and we had to postpone to another week.

We have also tried for several weeks to meet with the Seventy-five family but they have never answered the door for us. We have tried mornings, afternoons and evenings all to no avail. So today I had the bright idea to go by dressed in our P-day clothes. However, even this novel idea failed. The door remained closed to us.

Tongue in cheek I sent to a granddaughter a note “the day after tomorrow you are a young woman. Isn't that a scary Halloween thought?” Missing the humor entirely she replied that “now I get to go to the temple. We already have it lined up. I’m going with my dad on my birthday.” Our grandchildren continue to be blessed in eternal ways as we serve, for which we are and will be forever grateful.

One evening we had our first meeting with Sixty-eight family. Also their married daughter and her husband, the Sixty-ninth family and another daughter, the Seventieth family. Both daughters are expecting any day now. The bishop asked us to “do what you do.” So we just sat down and had a good and fun visit. All of their eight children’s first names start with the letter “J” so they were tickled when they learned we were “Jerry and Jan.” We had a sweet discussion, uncovered some things they would like to discuss with us, and said they really enjoyed the visit and wondered if we could meet with them weekly. I sent by email some information to them on patriarchal blessings they had requested. They immediately responded, “Thank you for sending the articles, we look forward to reading them and to our next visit with you and Sister Haddock. Thank you again for visiting with us this evening. Have a great week.”

Three new families. Wow! At church Sunday we met the grandmother. She told me she had seen us frequently in the ward, but with nearly 800, we had never formally met. She too invited us to come over and visit with her.

We also met with the Seventy-three family this week. He is a member and she is not. She is from Mexico and has in the past met with Spanish missionaries. Oh did we get along well, shared a good gospel message and were invited back next week. Found no difficulty in communicating English and Spanish. In fact her answers in English were more thoughtful and reasoned than those in Spanish. She is the manager of the bakery at a Stater Brothers store.

The bishop, at ward council Sunday morning had requested that we go by and meet them. Later at the start of Sacrament Brother Seventy-three entered the chapel standing as if he was lost. I went up to greet him and he told me he was looking for the bishop’s wife and family to sit with them. Noting they were not there he asked if he could sit with us to which I readily agreed. I told him the bishop had asked us to drop by and we then and there were able to set up the appointment for our visit. Sure makes it easy when the Lord is doing the arranging.

I reported to the bishop, “We had a very nice discussion with them, discussing in detail Alma 5:6-15. I learned some Spanish words from her and she some English words from me. Her English explanations of what certain Spanish phrases meant was terrific. In fact, more thought out than hers in Spanish. I don’t think there is any problem in her learning or understanding the gospel in English. Her husband’s contribution and testimony was spot on, which I hadn’t expected. He was very vocal. I asked him to get with you to learn the steps he needs to take to be ordained to the office of a priest. He is very happy that you are his bishop. He also had some questions about patriarchal blessing and I'll get him some materials on that which I have found useful. They asked if we could get together next week and we were happy to meet their request, so we are meeting with them next Friday.”

Received a request from a brother concerned about being double-minded. His concerns stemmed from not yet being perfect and concerned over why that had not transpired subsequent to his baptism a little over a year ago. “If I was perfect, then I would be doing everything I believe and I am not.” So he has decided he is double-minded and therefore not fit to be with the Lord. I suggested that the term “double minded” only appears twice in the scriptures, both times in the Book of James. In James 4:7-8 it is used similar to the Savior’s use, describing f our inability to serve two masters simultaneously (Matthew 6:24) “Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded.”

The second reference is in James 1:5-8, indicating one cannot doubt and have faith at the same time, “If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him. But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed. For let not that man think that he shall receive any thing of the Lord. A double minded man is unstable in all his ways.”

I pointed out that neither of these definitions are reflective of the description he is applying to himself.  I suggested he forget about himself, his weaknesses and short comings. Rather he should focus on what he may someday become as promised by the Lord. For now, he needs to give himself to the Lord, patiently and willingly allowing the Lord to change and fashion him into the person the Lord wants him to be. There is no station to which he must arrive. He is in the process of becoming like unto God. No he has not arrived but neither will he arrive during his mortal journey. His mortal journey is a transformational stage of his eternal journey. His objective now is to choose to allow God’s grace to work in him. This he did when he made sacred covenants with God as he was baptized and when he received the Melchizedek priesthood. Now, I said, be patient, let His grace work in you. I asked him to study and ponder Mosiah 5:2-5 and share with me his feelings about what those verses speak to him.

At the first block we saw something in the program I don’t remember ever seeing before. Following the Sacrament it read, “Bearing testimonies of Jesus Christ.” I was reminded of a prompting I had last month when I bore my testimony and what the Lord had asked for me to do the next two Fast Sundays as well. The subject this week was to be on Christ. I arose and started by quoting 3 Nephi 5:13 “Behold, I am a disciple of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. I have been called of him to declare his word among his people, that they might have everlasting life.” This surprised me as I had not memorized that verse. I spoke only of the Savior and it was interesting to me what the Lord had me focus on. Brother Bob Adams came us afterwards and said, “Great testimony. Powerful!” I confessed to Jan as I sat down, “Well those words didn’t come from me.”

Attended the second block at the Aliso Creek ward and then off to our discussion with the Six family. They were watching the Denver Bronco’s game, his favorite team. It was near half-time and when half-time started I asked if I could share a message. They politely turned off the TV and I shared the following: PROVERBS 8:17-36, then this quote—

“There is something to predispose us to a life of faith or a life of disbelief. There is a heart that, in these conditions of equilibrium and balance, equally “enticed by the one or the other,” is truly free to choose belief or skepticism, faith or faithlessness.

“The call to faith, in this light, is not some test of a coy god, waiting to see if we “get it right.” It is the only summons, issued under the only conditions, which can allow us fully to reveal who we are, what we most love, and what we most devoutly desire. Without constraint, without any form of mental compulsion, the act of belief becomes the freest possible projection of what resides in our hearts. Like the poet’s image of a church bell that only reveals its latent music when struck, or a dragonfly that only flames forth its beauty in flight, so does the content of a human heart like buried until action calls it forth. The greatest act of self-revelation occurs when we choose what we will believe, in that space of freedom that exists between knowing that a thing is, and knowing that a thing is not.

“This is the realm where faith operates, and when faith is a freely chosen gesture, it expresses something essential about the self... If we linger in indecision, as does Buridan’s beast, we will not perish. We will simply miss an opportunity to act decisively in the absence of certainty, and show that our fear of error is greater than our love of truth….

“… [E]very time we turn our hearts and minds in the direction of giving meaning to our experiences, we are merely—and yet profoundly—arranging the evidence into a pattern—the pattern that makes the most sense to us at a given point on our journey. Evidence does not construct itself into meaningful patterns. That is our work to perform. (The God Who Weeps: how Mormonism makes sense of life, Terryl L. Givens; Fiona Givens [Ensign Peak; Crawfordsville, IN, 2012], 5-6, 9)

Then 1 KINGS 18:17-21 and ALMA 22:18. Also page 17, discussion pamphlet 3, about getting answers to prayer, testified to the young Sister Six that she could do the same and she committed to pray as we had outlined, to learn for herself. It was a wonderful discussion. I told Sister H as we drove away that the richness of the confirming witness of the Spirit today was similar to those special occasions I enjoyed as a young missionary.

During our Zone meeting on Monday I had an overwhelming feeling to send a text to Sister Six which was a follow-up to my feelings that morning as I prayed—As we had our prayers this morning we felt that we should pray with you each day this week that you might receive an answer to your prayers about the truthfulness of the restored gospel. That witness to us has brought incalculable joy and we know it would do the same for you. You will receive an answer from Him Who loves you more than you can imagine.” She replied with profuse thanks and that she has now finished the first two books of the Book of Mormon.

Monday we had Zone Conference, the entire mission as Elder Wilford W. Andersen and his wife were on a mission tour. It lasted from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Then again the next day at lunch and evening. Since the meetings transcended our week, I’ll share that in next month’s blog.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Week Sixty-nine

WEEK SIXTY-NINE October 27, 2014

We have been trying for some time to set up an appointment with the Sixty-eight Family. Following my talk last Sunday, Brother Sixty-eight came up to Sister Haddock, excited about getting together and promised to make such time concessions as necessary to make sure it worked out. The next day sister Sixty-eight called indicating two pregnant daughters would be there as well for out meeting next week. Sister Haddock told her we would pray to be directed by the Lord in our message and she promised the same.

We met again this week with the Four family. I had a prompting earlier in the day to use for our discussion Mormonism 101, the Harvard law school address given by Elder Holland in 2012. In our discussion preceding Brother Four had brought up concerns that directly led to the talk so it was easy to shift into it. Later as we were leaving I suggested sometime we review two other addresses by Elder Holland, both general conference talks, he said “Let’s tackle the first one next week.” We took turns reading paragraphs with his wife, Thomas and myself. Sister Haddock didn’t have her glasses. Every time his turn to read came up it was a subject he either had a concern, sought clarification on, or a foundation principle of the restoration. Everything was so on topic it was clear the discussion was being led by other forces than ourselves. I told Sister Haddock as we left that it was one of the best discussions ever. Seems like only a handful of such occur during a mission. I was on fire as we left and kept resetting the scene over and over in my mind. The nature of the godhead, need for priesthood authority, and the experience of Joseph Smith in the sacred grove all were highlighted. He would give his view and then me giving ours with him uttering again and again, “Oh, I see.”

Brother Four also told us that a pastor once told him, “I can teach you how to speak in tongues.” He said it came in repeating again and again the following words, “Momma got a Chevrolet. Papa got a Honda.”

We visited with Sister Two this week with her husband out of town on work assignment. She is excited about getting back to the temple, has exchanged her clothing for items that fit better, and has finished a lot of family history to generate additional names. Unfortunately they did not get to see the movie, “Meet the Mormons,” which would have been good for them But we did had five of our investigators see the movie and each enjoyed it immensely.

We also visited with the Sixty-two family for a lively discussion. They were so happy to see us. Gave them a box of BelVita crackers which overwhelmed them causing them to want to do something for us. They reciprocated against our protests by giving us some cookies she had made saying, “These won’t taste as good as what you brought us.” We assured them we needed nothing in return, it was a gift.

Also visited with the One Family, first leaving a card on their door but then running into them as we were out and about. The husband had some questions regarding finances and wanted to go to dinner with us to discuss. So we met a couple of hours later at Coco’s restaurant. We followed them after dinner to their house where we had cherry pie and ice cream. We made another presentation on family history using the relative finder with BYU to show connections with their family and other historical figures which they immensely enjoyed.

The week previous we had a little experience in leaving the One family that I forgot to include. Their home teacher called while we were there to come over for a visit. We both left about the same time. I thought they went a different direction as I didn’t see them behind me. As we pulled up to the signal to turn right on Jeronimo there was a truck in front of us with his right turn blinkers on. Of a sudden he put his car into reverse, the backup lights nearly blinding us, as if he was going to ram us. I looked in my rearview mirror and a car had just pulled up behind me so I couldn’t move. The mad man jumped out of his truck screaming obscenities, mostly starting with the F-word about how stupid I was. Then he jumped back in his truck and made a U-turn, rolled down his window and continued to scream at me. I turned right and went on my way wondering what his problem was. Later we learned from the home teacher, who had indeed pulled in behind us, that the missionaries were walking to the corner behind the fellows truck and the home teachers offered them a lift. The mad man then made another U-turn and pulled up beside the home teachers still screaming obscenities frightening the home teacher’s wife who was with him. Turns out he wanted to talk to the missionaries and he had seen them coming up the street hence his stopping and waiting in the right turn lane. The F-words continued and then he calmed down and exchanged a number with the missionaries. Hope they are safe when they meet with him.

Another investigator, I’ve forgotten which shared this story. Three churchmen were discussing how they shared the funds contributed at church with the Lord. The protestant minister said he straddled a line and threw the cash in the air, whatever landed on the right side went to the Lord and he kept the rest. The Catholic priest said he did pretty much the same thing, but drew a circle and whatever stayed in the circle was the Lord’s and the rest was his. The rabbi said he too threw the cash in the air allowing God to take whatever he wanted and the rest that fell to the ground he kept.

We sent a request to the Zone Leaders to make sure we were on the list for the meeting with the stake president in Coto de Caza which is a gated community. They keep forgetting to keep us in the loop and we have difficulty in getting through the gate. We were glad we sent the reminder for we learned the meeting had been postponed a week. Which we would have only discovered in an hour plus drive.

Received a request from the stake president about the reaction of members to the new ward alignments. I responded that “We had spoken to 20-30 families. One was ambivalent but all the rest were very enthusiastic with both the change and those in the "lower 40" with being assigned to the Trabuco chapel. Ward council in the Aliso Creek Ward had only 2 carryovers from the "former" Aliso Creek Ward and everyone was excited and ready to pitch in. Leaders told the priesthood there was no longer enough people to have some sit on the sidelines and committed everyone to pitch in at all events including social ones. Those not in the supposed "in" group have been greatly energized. To a person, everyone in the Aliso Creek Ward felt the new bishop was the one who was going to be called, so the spirit had already prepared the way, leading to a smooth transition. We came across an elderly family that needed attention, notified their bishop and the next night he had his HPGL there attending to their needs. We saw the family again the following day and they were so pleased.”

We toured the Rodger’s Nursery grounds and displays with the Six and Thirty families then had dinner and a discussion with both families.

We were running some errands before leaving at 1 p.m. to meet with the Twenty-one family in the San Diego Temple. We called to touch base with them and learned the sealing was to start at 1 p.m. So we had to hustle back home, get showered, dressed and back in the car. We arrived just before noon as the family was driving into the same parking lot. The company consisted of brother and sister Twenty-One and Sister H and I. The sealer then drafted a couple who was in the Celestial room so we would have a second witness. The sealer asked, “Why are these two missionaries here?” Noticing that we were sitting where the father and mother normally sit. Brenden answered, “Because we wouldn’t be here right now if it weren’t for them. They are our spiritual father and mother and we are so grateful they are here with us today.” Several stopped us in the temple and noticing our name tags, offered wonderful confirmation of the value of senior couples as missionaries. One of the presidency came by, “Okay you two, being here there must be a special reason.” I shared with him our experience with this wonderful family culminating today in their sealing and that of their children. The two girls were precious and so well behaved. Following the session we went outside and took pictures. I selected three of the schedules for the temple which have some beautiful pictures for their scrapbooks.

We visited on our return with some dear friends from our Encinitas days who are battling cancer. We decided our son’s comment that if we live long enough we all will deal with cancer.

Sunday with both blocks and ancillary meetings and then discussions ran up a 13 hour uninterrupted day. Making p-day on Monday a welcome relief.

A speaker in one of the wards shared the theme about choosing to be happy. One of my favorite themes. He centered it along the thought that instead of getting angry we should choose to laugh instead. Good idea. Told of being tailgated at 70 mph on the freeway when a fellow behind him got agitated and began flashing his lights and blowing his horn. He said there was nowhere for him to go he was blocked in and the car in front was going no faster. Of a sudden a truck beside him lost a ladder which slid in his lane giving him just enough time to swerve into the center divider and avoid it. Of course the tailgating car behind had no such time and plowed into it jamming his car into the center divider and following the head on crash drifting perpendicular to freeway traffic. The freeway curved and the speaker was not able to see in his view mirror what happened but, said he, “I bet he wished he had laughed rather than getting upset with me being in front of him.”

He then told of his prowess in influencing others as a youth. “For some reason I was influential on others. I had a buddy who wanted to prove he could out do me. It being St. Patrick’s Day we decided on a stratagem. Since I wasn’t wearing any green he would try to convince someone to pinch me and I would try to convince them not to. If he could get someone to pinch me he won. Well we went throughout the day to the last class and I hadn’t been pinched. He talked with a girl I hardly knew and convinced her to pinch me. Well I could see in talking to her I was not going to be able to convince her otherwise. I thought and thought and finally blurted out, “I know what you did and I’m going to tell everyone.” She overcome with guilt bolted out the door. I knew nothing about her to tell. She would have been better off just laughing than disclosing her guilt.”

“Sometimes we need to choose to laugh when those don’t work as they should. My best friend’s father was our Deacons quorum advisor. He was working on his car as my friend and I rounded the driveway. Something didn’t work as it should and I heard a stream of words I had never heard before. He was so apologetic. If must have bothered him all week because next Sunday he apologized to the whole quorum. Bet he wished he would have laugher.”

Finally he told of weighing his new born daughter by getting on the scale and then taking her in his arms and weighing again to extrapolate her weight. Well undressed she let go “it came out of everything thing it could come out of. I was covered. I didn’t laugh. I thought this must be one of those times we are exempt from laughing.”

At the ward council and missionary correlation meetings we began inviting others to take over some of the shepherding for our little flock we have loved and served these past 16 months. Told each we want to make sure that no one falls through the cracks. We received wonderful responses and detailed game plans to makes sure that doesn’t happen which greatly pleased us.

Brother Two texted me “Sacrament hour was encouraging here. A brother here gave a truly heart felt talk modeled after Thomas Monson’s Bismarck talk. The brother was very uncomfortable at the pulpit but the spirit was not. Nice small ward up here.” We were so glad to learn he had found and attended to his duties so far from home.

We met with Six family later in the week. Sister Sixty-five was feeling ill and was resting. But we had a great discussion with the Six family. Concerning the reason why priesthood authority is necessary, Brother Six said simply, “Because God has so spoken.”

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Week Sixty-eight

WEEK SIXTY-EIGHT October 20, 2014

Had a discussion on chapter 7 of Brother Four’s book and discussed opportunities for volunteer work as he gets started in his new profession. I shared with him my idea of the puzzle of life and he asked if I could send him what I had written on the subject, which I agreed to do. As we were leaving Brother Four remarked, “You bring such a special spirit with that that remains in our home long after you leave. We are so appreciative of our little Bible studies together.”

Gerald R. Haddock

It has been my experience that those who rebel against God suffer from creaking of the will, stiffening of the ego and hardening of the attitude. The remedy is and always has been, forget about yourself and serve God and others.

It appears to me that our mortal journey is in reality a puzzle. Viewing our mortal journey as a puzzle gives a method to increase understanding and a strength to overcome discouragement.

There are no straight edges in the puzzle of life, nor any corners to start putting our puzzle together. Everything at first appears random. Rather than working from the edges and corners as we do with most puzzles, this puzzle is worked from the center out. The center piece, the one we must find in mortality and through which all other connections in our puzzle are made, is Jesus Christ.

As in Paul’s illustration our desire must exert a willingness to see through a glass darkly. One piece is not enough, we can’t rest on our laurels. Our search is to find and fit each piece of our puzzle precisely, there can be no forcing of the pieces. It also appears that each puzzle is individually tailored by God to meet our personal needs.

It is only later, as we pass through the veil that we learn from the experiences of our life how they all fit together; which in turn blends mortality and eternity. The puzzle that is our life extends beyond mortal boundaries. Since mortality is but a slice of our eternal life, our puzzle here has no corners or edges.

The experiences of our life enable us to make connections between the pieces if, but only if we first center our life in Christ. Willingly surrendering ourselves to Christ allows us to connect with Him and gives us the central and biggest piece for our puzzle. It is through the multiple facets of that piece, Christ, that we are enabled to see and give order in our assembly of the puzzle.

The more pieces of our puzzle we have assembled, the easier it is to handle the things of this life. Some pieces when they are discovered have no connection to anything we have previously assembled and must be set aside until connections can be made at a later time. Otherwise, worrying about that piece perplexes us and can destroy our entire puzzle. There is a Law of Pre-Requisites.

We are still to be alert to the experiences of our lives and seek to make connections—that is what we can and must do. However, with the companionship of the Holy Ghost our ability to see and recognize connections increases as does our facility to assemble. You see, we’ve seen our puzzle assembled before and now through experience and faith we learn how to put it together as we fulfill our personal plan of salvation.

It appears that obedience to God’s will is a sort of spiritual emancipation in assembling our puzzle. Obedience itself, makes us free. Central to that freedom is the hope that disposes despair. As Satan’s object is to destroy all hope, obedience is the cure. In choosing the right way, i.e., being obedient, we are doing things that lead us closer to Christ. Anything other than Christ entices disobedience and loss of hope. Whereas not having edges or corners the puzzle of mortality can seem hopeless. However, centering our lives in the piece that is Christ, establishes a hope not requiring either edges or corners.

Viewing our mortal journey as a puzzle requiring us to be centered in Christ has fostered these additional thoughts:

1.               Our God is more intimately involved in our lives that we are prone to see.
2.               Our inability to see this intimacy in mortality is a causal factor in frustration, discouragement and eventually despair.
3.               It is God’s will that we take the time to observe and notice this intimacy–make the necessary connections among the events of our life–as doing so is crucial to our spiritual well-being, our prospering.
4.               It is necessary that we stop, look and listen to the events of our life in the context of the great plan of happiness, if we are to make necessary connections.
5.               In so doing, we will see the coincidences of our lives for what they are—expressions of our God’s love and evidence of His arms being extended toward us continually.
6.               In so seeing, our hope is increased as well as our ability to withstand faithfully the trials of mortality.

Brother Four replied, “That's pretty deep. I had to read it a couple of times and I think I have got it. In my puzzle scenario, there are pieces that are missing from the puzzle and even with the pieces that are there, often they are not in the right place after having been forced into a place that's similar, but not the same. Then there are pieces looking at other pieces and wishing they were another piece instead of seeing how they fit in just as they are, to help make the puzzle whole. When we allow the Holy Spirit to put us in position, we find that while we may not be the piece we want to be, we are needed too, and we all make a difference just as we are.”

At a previous Zone Training the sisters doing the training prepared sheets of construction paper with the name of a missionary in the zone at the top and folded accordion style at about one inch intervals. The task was to write in one of the accordion folds your positive thoughts about that missionary. It was only this week that those reflecting Elder and Sister Haddock were given to us. I notice that Jan’s principally dealt with her kindness and goodness while mine with being old and having been around the block a few times. But all in all they do show the contribution a Senior couple can bring to a group of young missionaries. Of Jan they wrote:

·       You are so great! You are such a great example to everyone in the Zone! You do so much for us!
·       You are an amazing companion for Elder Haddock! J We feel the love that you bring.
·       I love how happy you are! You are always positive!
·       Sister Haddock, you bring an “at home” kind of spirit to our zone meeting.
·       Sister Haddock you are so amazing and so inspirational. You are so strong and beautiful. Thank you for being such an example to me and all the missionaries. Keep it up.
·       Sister Haddock, I can really feel the spirit strong with you and Elder Haddock coming to our zone meeting. You are inspirational!
·       Sister Haddock, you are great. I love your sense of humor. The stories you tell are great. I really enjoy to hear about all the work you do! Keep calm, Baptize on!
·       I loved your presentation on having good table manners and have taken it to heart.
·       Sister Haddock you are a great missionary and know the gospel; and its great to be able to serve with you.
·       You care so much about what goes on in the lives of your investigators and those members you work with. I love hearing about what you teach to help the people you teach gain greater faith.
·       You know your faith and know your God and love serving Him. You’ve helped me with that love and example and I hope you know that.
·       You are amazing at being a diligent missionary. You truly try your best in tis work and are a huge example for us missionaries.
·       Such an amazing example. Powerful, yet humbler, and a great person to talk to.
·       Thanks for serving in our Zone! We know you and your husband do a lot of great work. Thanks for your service!
·       Utah all the way! You and your husband are super awesome! We love you guys!
·       Oh my gosh! We just love you so much! You are so sweet and you always have a smile on your face! It is easy to be happy around you!
·       I love to see you both at our zone meetings. Your mere presence brings a phenomenal spirit into the room. Thank you for your service and sweet smile.
·       Thank you for your kindness and sweet spirit! We love and appreciate you!
·       You are the sweetest person ever! Your spirit is so STRONG! You are so kind and you are always helping others.
·       Best companion ever.
·       Thanks for serving a mission. You’re doing great things here, and we really need you. You’re awesome.
·       I love how you are concerned about others and willing to go the extra mile for others.
·       Clearly the better half! J

Of me they wrote:

·       Cares and seeks to help with every individual’s concerns.
·       Your comments bring wisdom and maturity to our group of young missionaries just recognizing who we really are.
·       You are like a fountain of wisdom and knowledge.
·       You are such a good example of a Christ-like leader. You are full of wisdom and all of your comments are enlightening and inspiring.
·       Great man of God! That shows kindness towards all men. Thank you for serving with us!
·       You are a great example to all of us! I really hope to serve a senior mission as well. Thank you for doing so much for all of us!
·       Elder, you are inspiring and full of wisdom. I always learn so much from you.
·       Elder, you are so wonderful and so smart. Thank you for sharing an inspiring us. You are spiritually strong.
·       Elder Haddock, I appreciate your testimony and the wisdom you always have to share! You are an inspiration!
·       Elder Haddock you are so kind. I love all of your stories. You are always a pleasure to speak with. Keep up the hard work with your families. You are about a great work.
·       I’ve learned a lot from your comments at Zone Training. Thanks for strengthening my testimony!
·       You are so knowledgeable and it’s great to be able to turn to you for advice.
·       You know your doctrine and I love being able to hear your insights and to feel of the spirit you bring. You help me so much and make me want to have better studies so that I can know as much as you.
·       Elder Haddock, you are the most humble smart person I’ve ever met. You know so much but more importantly you know how important the Lord is in your life.
·       Elder Haddock you are a true genius! You have a lot of knowledge about the gospel and how we can be uplifted by Christ. Thank you for your great example.
·       An excellent, informative, interesting and rock solid teacher. Always smiling, always happy!
·       Thank you for your service in our Zone! We really appreciate the wisdom and maturity you bring to our mission.
·       Thank you for being so chill and awesome. We love you!
·       Thanks for coming on a mission. We need you here!

Further to my blog of last week in response to the bishop’s question about following the brethren I was reminded of this incident and shared with him. During the last few months of my mission as a young elder, I was living in and working out of the Mission Home. My companion and I had been teaching a single sister. We had finished the six discussions and although she was in harmony with all we taught she was unable or unwilling to commit to baptism.

So I spent some time pondering and praying and eventually constructed a seventh discussion tailored specifically for her. About the time I finished putting it together, Elder LeGrand Richards came to Washington D.C. as a conference visitor and in one of those tender mercies, chose to stay at the Mission Home instead of with his daughter and her family.

Taking advantage of the opportunity one evening following dinner I shared our experience with the investigator and that I had put together an additional discussion to present to her the following evening. I was seeking his counsel, hoping he would read through the discussion and offer me some pointers.

To my surprise, rather than doing that he offered to be my companion for the discussion and expressed no need to review my prepared discussion, having confidence in what I had done. He said, “Now Elder Haddock, you realize I will be the junior companion. It will be your responsibility to give the discussion. If I feel prompted to say something I will, but only in that event.” He then asked if I could arrange something for my companion to be doing so we could go together. I assured him that I would take care of that.

The next evening we went to the discussion. I, as I had been asked, only introduced him as Elder Richards and made no reference to him being an Apostle. Remember in my day no one wore name tags.

I gave the entire discussion I had prepared with nary a word from Elder Richards, concluding with my sure and certain testimony borne of the Spirit and experience and felt the ratifying power of the Holy Ghost as I had seen it operate many times before.

It was at this time that Elder LeGrand Richards, Of the Quorum of the Twelve chose to speak. I then witnessed a marvelous physical manifestation of the spirit that transcended anything I had ever seen during the bearing of a testimony. His words were no more eloquent than mine, nor more powerful. Yet the floor seemed to ripple in waves, the walls shuddered and the drapery moved as if a huge wind had entered the room.

Our investigator bolted straight out of her chair requesting baptism and within a couple of days we accommodated her.

Now, dear Bishop here are the two principles I learned that day. First, being a “special witness of Christ” is something far greater than knowing Jesus is the Christ. Second, the Lord sustains His special witnesses in a miraculous fashion. Not because they know more than we know, or even because their witness is more certain than ours can be, but because they have been anointed to be “a special witness.” Simple stated, the Lord sustains the Brethren, regardless of their humanity, and it is imperative that we do as well.

We visited with the Sixty-two family this week noticed some needs and tried to attend to them. Notified the bishop who the very next night had his high priest group leader in their home assisting them. It sure is great to see the Church in action doing the right things, the right way. We were so pleased. In fact the bishop thanked us for the communication saying: “the Altisima ward family has been engaged and will do what needs to be done. Thanks again.”

The next day we met with Sixty-two family again today to take them grocery shopping as neither of them can drive. It only took about an hour and one-half and it felt oh so right to be giving them this service. Had dinner with the One family who cooked us spaghetti. Had a good discussion and resolved some things that had been disturbing him.

The following day we took the Sixty-two family to view “Meet the Mormons.” They were both overjoyed and quite touched. In all five of our investigators were able to see the film and each enjoyed it immensely.

Saturday was a special day for us. Escorted the Twenty-one as they received their endowments at the Newport Beach Temple. They were so excited and prepared. Felt fully in charge and aware of what was happening about them. Spent considerable time with them in the Celestial room following the session. They had nary a question. Sister Twenty-one was in awe of just being there, something she had never supposed would happen in her life. Next week to the San Diego Temple for their sealing and that of their children. I will be blessed to be a witness for this eternal ordinance.

Sunday I spoke in the Aliso Creek ward. It was one of those special talks, the type you always hope for and dearly cherish. When it’s as if angels are speaking and you are just the conduit. One brother sent me a note which read, “Well done dear Brother! You always speak to my heart. What a blessing it has been to have you with us and to have you in our home! I will always remember your sweet spirit and matchless testimony. You have been a blessing in my life I would have missed had I not returned to the True Church of Jesus Christ! Warmest regards.”

Always when I am speaking the Lord has been kind enough to give me something specific to that congregation. Usually as I set on the stand the spirit whispers how I am to begin my talk. In this talk I found myself reflecting on our recent return to Provo for our grandson’s baptism. There with family and all it should have felt like home. But as Sister Haddock and I drove from John Wayne Airport to our little apartment I had the feeling we were home. This was the first sacrament meeting for this ward which was just created. I told them I suspect the reason we felt home was because we had been in the homes of many of you in this ward, the Altisima Ward and the Lake Forest Ward and arising out of our service have been filled with love. I promised them as they opened their hearts in service to one another their hearts would be filled with love. I then felt to speak to the single sisters who responded by cornering me after the meeting so appreciative for what was said. I told them I had learned the Lord has a special place in his heart for single sisters, particularly those who carry a huge load in behalf of others. I shared how a single sister I knew found herself with her car breaking down and needing a new vehicle. She prayed for a specific make and model and mileage and the next evening a fellow she knew called saying he and his wife were getting a new car and felt they should offer her their old one rather than trading it in. It was the make and model and mileage she requested. I told them that single sisters always have the ear of the Lord and then shared this story of President Harold B. Lee

“My Aunt Jeanette McMurrin told me this interesting story. She was widowed and living with her daughter. One morning her daughter came to her and said, “Mother, we don’t have anything to eat in the house. My husband, as you know, has been out of work. I am sorry, Mother.”

“Aunt Jeanette said that she dressed and worked around the house, then closed her door, knelt down, and said, “Heavenly Father, I have tried all my life to keep the commandments; I have paid my tithing; I have given service to the Church. We have no food in our house today. Father, touch the heart of somebody so we won’t have to go hungry.” She said she went about with a feeling of gladness, thinking all would be right.

“There came a knock at the door in a few hours, and there was a little neighbor girl with food in her arms. Choking back the tears, the widow brought the child into the kitchen and said, “Set them here, and tell your mother that this came today as an answer to our prayers. We didn’t have any food in our house.”

“Needless to say, the little girl went back and carried that message, and in a little while she returned with still a larger armload. As she brought the bags to the kitchen table, she asked, “Did I come this time as an answer to your prayers?”

“My Aunt Jeanette replied, ‘No, my darling, this time you came as a fulfillment of a promise. Fifty years ago when your grandmother was expecting a little child, she didn’t have anything to eat and she was lacking in strength and nourishment. I was the little girl who carried food into her house so that she would have the strength to bring her little baby—your mother—into the world.’ Then she said, ‘The Lord said, ‘Cast your bread upon the waters, and after many days it shall return again.’ This time you have been carrying back to me the foodstuff that I carried into the home of your grandmother so your mother could be born into the world.’” [Ensign, Feb 1972]

I told them I wanted to speak to those who, on occasion or more frequently, feel to express the Prophet Joseph Smith’s heartfelt plea—

D&C 121:1
O God, where art thou? And where is the pavilion that covereth thy hiding place?

When it seems as if the heavens are brass, when our prayers seem to be left unanswered, and we are near despair

In August 1831 the Prophet wrote of the nightmare in Missouri—“I cannot learn from any communication by the spirit to me. I am ignorant of the reasons for our plight and the Lord will not show me. My prayers go up to God day and night.” But silence met his anguished appeals


Let me offer four suggestions how to proceed when the heavens seem as if they are brass, for some this may be your Abrahamic test—

1.               Believe that God is there. Believe that He has heard your prayer. Believe that he can and will answer your prayer. Believe in His omniscience. Believe He will succor you. Believe in all His promises. Believe regardless of circumstance.

2.               Trust your Heavenly Father. Trust that He will answer your prayer in the best way possible. Trust that He knows what and when to act. Trust His love for you as His son or daughter. Trust Him enough to allow Him to take your worries. Trust that all your afflictions will be consecrated by Him for your gain. Trust regardless of consequence.

3.               Choose to joy in other’s success. Recognize the hand of God in answering prayers of others. Let you heart be filled with gratitude for others’ success. Allow God to disseminate His blessings as He sees fit. Express Gratitude for All He does. Rejoice in all such manifestations of His love. Love God and all mankind regardless of consequence.

4.               Get off your knees and onto your feet. Make a new bow. Do what you alone can do. Do what you are able to do. Exercise the limited talents you may have. Never, never surrender your hope regardless of consequence.

Elder Richard G. Scott has taught: “What do you do when you have prepared carefully, have prayed fervently, waited a reasonable time for a response, and still do not feel an answer? You may want to express thanks when that occurs, for it is an evidence of [Heavenly Father’s] trust. When you are living worthily and your choice is consistent with the Savior’s teachings and you need to act, proceed with trust. As you are sensitive to the promptings of the Spirit, one of two things will certainly occur at the appropriate time: either the stupor of thought will come, indicating an improper choice, or the peace or the burning in the bosom will be felt, confirming that your choice was correct. When you are living righteously and are acting with trust, God will not let you proceed too far without a warning impression if you have made the wrong decision.” (Elder Richard G. Scott of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, “Using the Supernal Gift of Prayer,” Ensign, May 2007, 10.)

I shared this story. A young nine-year old boy in our ward, a best friend of our son, was seriously injured when struck by a car while riding his bicycle. The injuries resulted in a coma for the boy. Several months later at the request of the distraught mother she came to me and said, “Bishop, can we seek a miracle at the hand of the Lord to restore my sons health.” We agreed to do so and requested a 48 hour fast among ward members. The bishopric fasted for 72 hours in preparation for the blessing. We left for the rehabilitative center feeling, each of us, that the Lord was going to grant our petition and we were going to see the boy arise from his bed and return home. Following the anointing by one of my counselors I proceeded to be the voice in pronouncing the blessing but after speaking the formalities of a blessing immediately my tongue was tied and I could not utter a word. We removed our hands from the boys head and went outside into a small grove of Torrey Pines and prayed as a bishopric. As voice I poured out our hearts to the Lord; rehearsing all that had been done for this occasion, the faith of the ward members, the family, and the bishopric; reminded the Lord of a prior experience raising another from a coma; highlighted the righteousness of our request and effort in doing good, etc. Feeling some comfort we returned to the boy’s bedside were I again attempted to bless this young boy. But again I became tongue tied and unable to speak. We adjourned to the Torrey Pines but this time our approach with the Lord was different becoming a “Father, what would thou have us do” pleading expressing a willingness to do His will. The answer came. We were to return and speak the words that the Lord would put into my heart. So we returned to the bedside. The words then uttered stated the boy would live for several years but remain in his comatose state; eventually he would pass peacefully to the other side; further there were things his mother was to learn and do. We left the center and drove straight to the mother’s home. As the words had so recently been spoken I was able to repeat them verbatim to the distraught mother who burst into tears. As she calmed down she expressed that she knew exactly what the Lord meant about things she had to learn and do and was prepared to make those adjustments in her life that she would be worthy of having her boy once again.

Asked them to consider this promise of the Lord when your prayers seem not be answered


1 Thus saith the Lord your God, even Jesus Christ, the Great I Am, Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, the same which looked upon the wide expanse of eternity, and all the seraphic hosts of heaven, before the world was made;

 2 The same which knoweth all things, for all things are present before mine eyes;

 3 I am the same which spake, and the world was made, and all things came by me…

7 … verily, verily, I say unto you that mine eyes are upon you. I am in your midst and ye cannot see me;

 8 But the day soon cometh that ye shall see me, and know that I am …

 9 Wherefore, gird up your loins and be prepared. Behold, the kingdom is yours, and the enemy shall not overcome…

 15 Therefore, be ye strong from henceforth; fear not, for the kingdom is yours…

 16 … for I have heard your prayers.

Brother Forty-four wrote, “Hi Elder and Sister Haddock! My wife and my dad said that you gave a talk in church today. I had to work, and I was wondering if you could email it to me, I would love to read it. They said it was really powerful.”

Following the meeting Brother Sixty-seven came up and asked to speak with me following the services that day. He shared that for 2-3 weeks now he had the impression I was to give him a blessing which he kept dismissing. Said during the talk he was convicted of not acting on the promptings he had received. “This is a hard thing to do. I don’t’ think it matters who gives a blessing. So this makes no sense to me and I don’t know what the blessing is for or is to be about.” We set an appointment for the next evening.

During our walk Monday morning we received a call from one of our senior couples who informed us his wife had tripped on a crack in the sidewalk in their walk earlier when it was dark and hurt her shoulder. He was hopeful we could return from our walk and assist in giving her a blessing which we did. Later learned she had dislocated her shoulder socket and fractured the shoulder joint. We walk the same walk!

In a discussion with our son he wanted to talk about the coma experience I had shared. I had written an account which I sent to him and then being prompted to make some changes resent it again later. Said he, “I have called you before to inquire about certain stories. I know that there are many who allow things to slide, but I just want to make sure that I've got things right. All the facts that is. I feel that the very best opportunity for the spirit to be present is going to be with truth and light. Sometimes, however, it isn't always easy. Sometimes we remember things a little differently from the way it actually happened. In fact, sometimes the spirit witnesses something to me while an event is occurring and then years later I will somehow incorporate the extra insight that the Lord gave me as part of the story when that isn't exactly the way that it occurred. It is just that the spiritual impression can become so powerful in my mind, that it in and of itself becomes part of the actual story.” I told him this was my thought. Often the experience evokes a reality born of the spirit that, although initiated by the experience may differ from the experience itself, yet becomes both the experience and the reality as the two become one in us. When this occurs in reading the scriptures it is as if we are reading between the lines

Before driving over to participate in the blessing the next night, I visited with the Lord. I expressed that this brother has had strong feelings about me giving him a blessing for some time now, although he doesn’t know what the blessing is for, and I have had no such feelings; further that I whether this direction was coming from the Lord but I would leave and go and if a course correction was required I would obey accordingly and not give him a blessing. I indicated my desire to act only in accordance with God’s will and a willingness to do whatever he directed, including laying my hands on his head as Nephi wrote not knowing beforehand the things that I should say.

Following a sweet prayer by Sister Sixty-seven, I then laid my hands upon this dear brother. The blessing was very specific and covered a wide range of topics. A special feeling transcended all the words conveying the love Heavenly Father had for him. I suppose I would characterize the blessing as one of acceptance, love and hope from Heavenly Father to His son. His wife, who had come and sat beside him so she could hear, commented, “Now I know why Elder Haddock was to give the blessing.” However as for me, “Why was I to give the blessing?” “Why not someone else?” I have no idea. There are so many to choose from in this ward. Our lives had randomly intersected for a few weeks outside of church and perhaps that was taken by him as a sign. Maybe something in the talk affected him in a way he saw it as a sign to him. Just maybe it was the Lord’s will, although never communicated to me and  for whatever reason the Lord may have had, and if so I am so happy to have been invited to participate. For us it was a sweet experience mindful of the blessings associated with doing the Lord’s will rather than one’s own and that’s good enough for me. I always feel blessed to be used by the Lord.