WEEK THIRTY-SIX March 10, 2014
We were notified of a zone training this week to be held from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. But we already had four discussions set for the day which interfered with the afternoon session so were excused at noon when they broke for lunch. Heard later from a number of the missionaries that the training exercise President Orgill presented in the afternoon was “the best training we have ever had.”
Received a request from our recent convert Brother Two who is out of town on business requesting some good scriptures about the three degrees of glory including Paul’s reference to knowing a man caught up to the third heaven which I provided for him. He wrote, “My friend up here is anti-Mormon and was making fun of the 3 degrees of glory so I wanted him to read of this in his own bible and set him straight! He does believe the Bible. I shared with him Paul’s discussion of the three degrees of glory in first Corinthians 15:40–41 comparing them in glory to the sun and the moon and the stars. Also speaks in second Corinthians 12:1-3 about being called up to the third heaven. Then wrote: “Another one that strikes me is John 14:1–4 which the Savior refers to many mansions [which Joseph Smith translated as “kingdoms”] that have been prepared of the father for those that love him. Brother Two has had a hard time using the LDS study guides as he had not been a reader of the King James version previously and doesn’t care for that working. I keep showing him the study advantages of the vast array of footnotes the LDS version contains prompting him to say, “I guess I’ll have to go to the Deseray Book store and get me a copy.”
Had a full physical this week with everything looking better than pre-mission except weight. Eating out on the run and with members is a killer on a good diet.
Taught gospel essentials classes in both the Lake Forest Ward and in the Aliso Creek wards. Aliso Creek was on that four letter word WORK which ended up discussion missionary and family history and temple. Several class members said they were really touched by the spirit. In Lake Forest the lesson, although also on Work, went an entirely different direction. We weren’t surprised as I had told Sister H when preparing the lessons I felt impressed it was going to be two different lessons. Then I did something to help that become a self-fulfilling prophecy when someone took the lesson materials to Aliso Creek from under the bench I was sitting on. I mentioned that to Sister H but she thought I didn’t have my glasses and went looking for them. When she returned to the class and announced she couldn’t find them and I responded that it was the lesson, the cat was out of the bag, and everyone there knew I was faking it.
Learned from Elder and Sister Litchfield about some opportunities to provide assistance for black children in Africa which we are looking into. Shared the websites with our children as well.
Received a note from my brother, “Nothing feels so right after spending the morning in the temple. It certainly puts things in perspective. We were fortunate enough to be the witness couple. It was just a wonderful time. Hope things are going well for you. Have a great day.” We too can bear testimony to the sublime truth of the temple. We are looking forward to starting our temple preparation class in the Aliso Creek ward next week.
Brother Six has been out of town in at the China Lake Naval proving grounds outside of Ridgecrest. The area my aunt and uncle used to live and near three water districts that I used to represent in another life time. I asked him to look up Searles Lake out near Trona. It is from Searles to San Pedro that the 20 mule teams hauled Borax 175 miles before the railroad was built to Mojave.
We have continued to correspond with Brother Two regarding the Book of Mormon by text while he is away from home and with his son as well, who wrote, “I just read Mosiah chapter 24. I think it's one my new favorite chapters in the Book of Mormon. My favorite part was when the Lord delivered them from the Lamanites.”
Continue to receive multiple texts each day from Brother Forty-Two, our evangelical minister, this week most focused on the Spirit prison, whether those there could escape during the Millennium, what their suffering was like, what happens when they are released, and the fact that he can’t find Telestial in the Bible. I responded in part that at death we pass instantaneously into the post mortal spirit world. There we undergo a kind of partial judgment, after which our spirit goes either to spirit prison or to paradise. Spirit prison is a temporary abode of disembodied spirits at various levels of preparation, knowledge, and goodness who are given an opportunity to acknowledge their wrongdoing on earth, repent of sin, learn the principles of the gospel of Jesus Christ, choose whether they will receive the Gospel, and prepare for resurrection. Paradise is a temporary sphere of existence into which the faithful and obedient are received at the time of death, a world in which their spirits continue to grow, expand in understanding, become more refined, and prepare for the resurrection of the just. As far as has been revealed the suffering is reserved for the thousand year period of the millennium. I suspect they still have a chance to accept Christ after they die but it appears they are in the hell portion of Spirit Prison throughout the 1000 years. (See D&C 76:81-85, 99-106.)
The High Priest group leader in trying to set up a date for a fireside after many frustrations in securing a date, wrote to the ward council by email with a new suggested date: “Let me know ASAP if this is a problem for any of you, so we can leave you off the invitation list.” I thought that was a great response.
We had dinner with our nephew Nick Haddock and his family. Great to have them in our mission and to see them from time to time. Gives us a needed taste of home I’m thinking.
Brother Twenty-One is looking for a new job opportunity so I sent his resume off to one of the best men I know who has extensive contacts in the environmental area. Brother Forty-One our fellow who is “not inactive, I just haven’t been to church in twenty-six years” came through in a big way for a sister in the Aliso Creek ward who teaches third grade and was looking for information on the Juaneño Band of Mission Indians. He cooks pinto beans weekly which he stores in the fridge for use each day. We took him by a ten pound bag of pinto beans to enjoy. Spoke with his home teacher who told us Brother Forty-One was overjoyed with our visits and looked forward to each one.
Sunday evening we enjoyed a readers theater about the blacks in the church. It was very well done and some spectacular singing. Black members of the church represented early black Saints telling their story dressed in the garb of the day. A nice booklet was prepared which had insights, references, and websites to additional information. A member of the bishopric in the Lake Forest ward shared a heartwarming story that he said never would have happened had he not attended the event. I requested a brief write up from him:
“On Sunday my family was able to attend the Black Latter Day Saints presentation at the Stake. We gained a lot of information and learned many new stories about early black LDS people. On Monday my daughter said they were learning about the Mormons this week at school. On Tuesday my daughter had a complaint about the text book. I took a look at the book and it said that the Mormons failed at setting up three communities, mentioning Missouri by name. There was no context as to persecution, mobs, or Gov. Boggs executive order 44 of extermination which contributed to this failure. It gave us a chance as a family to teach our kids once again as to what happened and we went on with our week. Thursday came and I got home from work at 3:30 that day. The teacher was summarizing the chapter in class and went off the text, telling the class that no black people were allowed to be baptized until 1978. Something in me said you have to say something, this is not okay. I never would have done this had I not been to the black presentation earlier in the week. It's not my character to go complain the program on Sunday was driving me out the door. The school office closed at 4:00 so I got there with fifteen minutes left. I was able to meet with the vice principal and explain the situation. I told him my daughter was upset at what the teacher had said and told him we had just attended the event on Sunday as part of our church celebrating black history month. I told him what had happened in class and since I was there told him that the textbook was incorrect. He wrote all my concerns and facts down that I had given him. Then he copied parts of the program pamphlet including the back page that had all the links for someone that would want to know more or had questions about blacks and Mormons. He said he'd give them to the teacher. He also stated he had never heard of executive order 44 (put in place to drive the Mormons out of Missouri). The teacher e-mailed me on Friday and acknowledged that the textbook was incorrect. She did stand her ground that it was her understanding that blacks could not join the church prior to 1978. I did explain to the VP that she is confused with blacks not being able to hold the priesthood until 1978. She received copies of the program and links from the VP. Monday came and she did take some time in class to say a few nice things about Mormons. The thing that drove me to take this action is that this may be told to hundreds of students year after year, and that is just not okay.”
We receive a welcome email from a member of our home ward back in Provo, “Brother Haddock, I’m calling for two reasons. First I listened to your granddaughter Natalie and it was the best youth talk my wife, my mother of I have ever heard. She gave a fantastic youth talk and did a wonderful job. We thought it sounded like a graduate commencement speech rather than a 16 year old.” The second reason was an offer to trim our trees while we are gone. What a great blessing for our family to be surrounded by such good people.
We enjoyed a family home evening as the week concluded with our fellow senior couples. Our discussions this week seemed, if possible, more directed by the Lord, as a number of important insights were exposed and remedies discussed. Many of these families, who barely let us in the door on our initial visit, are not only calling for return visits but are becoming life-long friends. The thought is, I suppose, that the doctrine of the kingdom is what people want to hear, but time and again, we find it is the peace and happiness, even the joy infused by the light of the divine, that really seems to pique the hearts of those we visit. As one brother said, “This really makes you happy doesn’t it?” Or, “I can tell how much this means to you.” Or, “Your face lights up every time you begin talking about the gospel.”