Monday, March 17, 2014

Week Thirty-Six

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 JuaneƱo 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.”

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Week Thirty-Five

WEEK THIRTY-FIVE March 3, 2014

We enjoyed another rich and wonderful week with Brother Two traveling together through the sacred words recorded in the Book of Mosiah. When the terrific storms for which the members of the church have been praying struck Thursday through Sunday, I immediately sent a text message, as Brother Two was on the ocean and was happy to learn that they had come into the inner harbor to wait out the storm.

A tremendous storm has rocked California Thurs through Saturday. Fast Sunday in February and March has been about relieving the California draught conditions. The state had only received 1 inch of a normal rainfall this year and this storm has now raised that total to 5 inches already with increasing snow pack in the Sierra’s as well.

Now the negative side of texting. Our minister friend had begun barraging us with text questions several times a day. Even though he has told Sister H that her husband is very smart and a doctor of theology, he is time consuming. So we are doing our best to respond appropriately and still keep some order. His last questions dealt with the gender of certain angels and the names we will be known by the other side of the veil.

We were able to attend a baptism of my brother’s granddaughter. It was great to see so many family members, some of whom we have not seen in years. We were surprised that in the trio she sang in was another little girl who was the granddaughter of our Mission President and his wife. At the baptism one of the speakers shared a story about her own baptism at the age of 8. In her mind this was her special day and at the close thereof when her older cousin and the adults had ice cream while she and a ten year old cousin were sent to bed, she complained to her cousin that it wasn’t right, “this is my day.” Her ten year old cousin, “being wiser than I” said, “No this isn’t your day. This is the day you committed to follow the example of the Savior. It’s about the Savior, not you.”

Spoke to the daughter of the Fifteen family who has not decided to prepare for baptism because of the letters she has been receiving from our granddaughter in Pennsylvania. I was telling her our granddaughter was moving out to Utah and she said, “Oh I already know. She told me she is coming out here this summer, going to Disneyland, and we are going to get together. I’m so excited.”

Sunday morning after I had gotten ready for our early ward council meeting and as I was meditating and pondering on the message I had prepared, it was if a vision was opened to my mind. It referenced the Savior’s counsel (Matthew 5:15) not to light a candle and place it under a bushel but to put it on a candlestick that if might give light to all. In this version I saw the candle as being us and the light as being the Lord. In our missionary efforts as members of the church the Lord is seeking a change in us. We need to understand it isn’t about us, it is about the Lord. We don’t know who His elect are and may never know. In fact it isn’t our job to discover His elect. But He does know. When we place the candle (ourselves) under the bushel, His light cannot shine and bear witness to His elect. We are to invite all, so God can bear witness to those who He has prepared. It just isn’t about us so there is no reason for us to fear. I’m not sure it really matters what we say. It certainly doesn’t matter how much we know or how erudite we are in explaining or teaching the gospel. It’s really about putting ourselves in a position that His light can be seen and felt.

We had noticed an article in entitled Seven Simple Suggestions for Sharing the Gospel that I found on


Sharing the gospel should be a natural part of life as a Latter-day Saint. As the Church grows, more and more people will ask questions, and it will be easier to respond with confidence if we pay attention to some basic principles. One of those principles, Elder David A. Bednar of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles teaches, is that the gift of discernment operates best when we are listening. So while talking about the Church, remember that it may help to ask clarifying questions and to do as much listening as we do talking. With that principle in mind, here are seven simple suggestions:

1. LIVE YOUR RELIGION. A Latter-day Saint’s life is his or her best sermon. Our conversations ought to be open, genuine, and engaged in with a spirit of kindness. As followers of Jesus Christ, we are most believable when our actions are in harmony with our beliefs.

2. ESTABLISH A FOUNDATION. Rather than responding to random questions, it might be helpful to establish a foundation—explain that we embrace Jesus Christ as our Savior and accept the Bible’s teachings, but believe that the Christian world departed from basic truths, and so Christ needed to restore His Church.

3. CONNECT THE DOTS. Try to discern the gospel principle at the heart of a question, and connect the answer back to the Savior. We do not need complicated, sophisticated arguments when the principles we try to live by come from the Son of God.

4. SHARE EXPERIENCES. Answering questions is not about reciting memorized answers. Sharing genuine, personal experiences can invite the Spirit to bear witness and carry the message into the listener’s heart.

5. UNDERSTAND YOUR AUDIENCE. The same conversation isn’t going to work for everyone—we all have different backgrounds. And remember that a casual question doesn’t require a half-hour lecture as a reply. Be sensitive to interest, comfort, and level of understanding. Signal that sensitivity so that those who are curious can feel at ease.

6. USE RESOURCES. The Church has created online resources that can be helpful for members to share with those who have questions. Church magazines are available online and in print, and items available at distribution centers may be helpful. Sharing a copy of the Book of Mormon may also be appropriate. You can also create an online profile on

7. BE A FORCE FOR GOOD. Members of the Church can help clear up misconceptions and increase understanding of who we are and what we believe. People may see differences between what they believe and what Latter-day Saints believe, but they may also find common ground on which to build better relationships.

As we were preparing I came across this quote from President Howard W. Hunter: “Those of us who have partaken of the Atonement are under obligation to bear faithful testimony of our Lord and Savior. (D&C l84:60-61) [President Howard W. Hunter, "The Atonement and Missionary Work," (New Mission Presidents' Seminar 1994, Tuesday, 21 June 1994), 2]. The other quote that has forcible struck me in this labor, which I think requires a complete cultural change in the membership, is: “The invitation is the mark of success, not whether people get baptized or become active in the Church.” [Hastening the Work, Ensign, Oct 2013, 39]

Brother Two got away for Sunday and was able to come to church. We met with him on Monday. It was good to meet with him. He is being diligent in his Book of Mormon reading and the Lord is blessing him with a great testimony both concerning that book of scripture and also concerning His Savior. He was touched by Abinadi’s encounter and the references to the Lord extending his arms wide to receive those who are willing to become his spiritual sons and daughters.

We enjoyed meetings with Brother Twenty on the differences between an ordination to an office and being set apart to a calling; with Brother Forty and the Doctrine of Christ; Brother Forty-Two regarding the plan of salvation; and Brother Forty-One on being a patriarch in the home. We also visited with the One Family sharing our testimony of the restored gospel of Jesus Christ.

Because of some questions our son has considered in preparation for a talk he is to give, and some questions being asked us by two or three of our investigators, I have been reminded of the normal focus on the remission of sins through the Atonement almost to the exclusion of the power of the Atonement to bless and sustain us daily. The Savior not only satisfied the demands of justice through His incomprehensible offering but willingly, as a result thereof, takes upon Him our grief, sorrow, problems and concerns. Somehow we tend to miss the promise contained in the invitation to “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-29).

Elder Neal A. Maxwell wisely counseled, “Since not all human sorrow and pain is connected to sin, the full intensiveness of the Atonement involved bearing our pains, infirmities, and sicknesses, as well as our sins. Whatever our sufferings, we can safely cast our ‘cares upon him; for he careth for [us]’ (1 Peter 5:7)” (“Not My Will, But Thine”)

And from Elder Bruce R. Hafen, “Some Church members feel weighed down with discouragement about of their personal lives, even when they are making sustained and admirable efforts. Frequently, these feelings of self-disappointment come not from wrongdoing, but from stresses and troubles for which we may not be fully to blame. The Atonement of Jesus Christ applies to these experiences because it applies to all of life. The Savior can wipe away all of our tears, after all we can do… The Savior’s atonement is … the healing power not only for sin, but also for carelessness, inadequacy, and all mortal bitterness. The Atonement is not just for sinners.” (“Beauty for Ashes: The Atonement of Jesus Christ,” Ensign, April, 1990)

I believe even members of the Church, by minimizing the effects of the Atonement, unwittingly minimize both the Atonement itself and our beloved Savior. We do that partially by thinking its cleansing effects upon us are the only reason for the Atonement or seeing the Atonement as the last blessing or gift necessary to bring us into the presence of the Lord. In so doing we resist, fail to claim or refuse to receive the Atonement as our daily source of power and change, even when circumstances may not change. In speaking of the second coming we read in D&C 133:52-53 that there will come a realization that that Lord was ever with us, bore us, and carried us all the days of our lives. I truly believe that.

"The Atonement of Jesus Christ and the healing it offers do much more than provide the opportunity for repentance from sins. The Atonement also gives us the strength to endure 'pains and afflictions and temptations of every kind,' because our Savior also took upon Him 'the pains and the sicknesses of his people' (Alma 7:11). Brothers and sisters, if your faith and prayers and the power of the priesthood do not heal you from an affliction, the power of the Atonement will surely give you the strength to bear the burden." (Dallin H. Oaks, "He Heals the Heavy Laden," Ensign, Nov. 2006, 9)

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Week Thirty-Four

WEEK THIRTY-FOURTH February 24, 2014

This texting is kind of magical. I remember our son telling us when he was the Young Men’s President in San Antonio how he was able to stay in touch with the young men throughout the day with texting. Well Brother Two has now been gone away from home for over a week and we were able to stay in contact with him on a daily basis encouraging him in reading the Book of Mormon. Thus we have seen his testimony begin and prosper through these daily exchanges as we have been reading the Book of Mormon starting with Mosiah 1, together. His son is following along as well and has willingly shared his thoughts.

Several months ago one of the elders shared with me the tie he was wearing was a gift at his father’s third wedding so Sister H and I picked up one at Mens Warehouse and presented it to him as he was leaving for home so he could have a tie to memorialize his mission.

We had a good discussion this week with Brother Forty on the plan of salvation which is always a rich and rewarding discussion to have with those seeking the truth. But the best part this time, as we have been meeting with him for a couple of months now, was his decision to offer the closing prayer himself. A very heartfelt and spirit-filled prayer.

We have been holding a bible study cottage meeting in the Aliso Creek ward ever since we came out, on every other Thursday, but this week was the first for the Lake Forest ward. Our plan for the first meeting was to share conversion stories of those present. In preparation Sister H asked our granddaughter Natalie to look up some information on her line that came through Prince Edward Island as the host for the bible study is from Prince Edward Island. Sister H’s 2nd ggrandfather left England and came to Prince Edward and married there. Later they moved to Ohio to farm and family history records, his wife was "the dominating religious influence in the family and it was her faith and courage that kept the family together. She implanted in them trust in God and loyalty to their church." The book continues talking about their oldest son who was 14 when missionaries were preaching in the county and he went with his mother, who was a religious women, to hear them preach. The mother was impressed with the sincerity of the elders and influenced the other members of the family to go to meetings. Their second son James wrote, "Previous to Mormonism coming there I made it a matter of prayer, though then about nine years of age. I went into the woods every day and prayed to the Lord that if he had a people upon the earth that I might belong to His people. I afterwards went to hear the first Latter Day Saint sermon I ever heard. I believed every word of it. I do not remember that I have ever doubted it since." After they were baptized they decided to go West, selling their farm to buy a wagon and two cows and going on to Winter Quarters.

At the bible study we had only four ward members and one non-member, Brother Six, but it is a start. We learned we were the only missionaries, stake or full-time, to invite anyone to the meetings. We had invited five and two where there. Some very sweet and tender stories of conversion were shared including one of their own conversion.

We learned this week that the Aliso Creek bishop has already extended invitations to four couples and two single individuals for the temple preparation class we will begin to teach in that ward commencing March 16. Two of the families, the Two and Twenty-One families were invited and both told the bishop how happy they were that Elder and Sister Haddock would be teaching the class.

We attended the Mission Choir community performance at the Laguna Niguel stake center and we fortunate to be seated next to, meet and visit with Sister 47 and Brother 48. They are about our age. After getting acquainted I extended an invitation to meet with them saying, “If you want to learn more from some old people, we would be happy to visit with you.” Sister 47 said, “We live in Laguna Woods all we talk to are old people.” Brother 48 is from Boston and as an eighteen year young man visited Salt Lake City and came away feeling strongly impressed with the friendliness and kindness of the “Mormon people.” Sister 47 is on 18-month assignment teaching church and social groups about women’s cancer awareness. In that assignment she has spoken to a number of ward relief societies and knew something about the church. They are neighbors. When they learned of the performance they both decided to some and of were they delighted and impressed “with all these young people doing so well.”

We enjoyed another wonderful week together serving in the work of the Lord. Had a meeting with Brother Twenty who is blossoming before our eyes and with the cajoling of Sister H has now acquired a pair of reading glasses. We also met with Brother Forty-Two again answering a bevy of questions very much on the fringes of needed gospel knowledge. He tells us he has been given insight in these areas by some other individual who brings them up for him to consider. We now have four brethren preparing to receive the Melchizedek Priesthood, eight non-members, and soon 10 participating in temple preparation.

We also attended a readers theater production of Early and Modern Day Black Latter-day Saint pioneers was presented under the direction of Sister Four and her husband, both of whom participated. Later we learned that the handout distributed gave a counselor in one of the bishoprics we serve with the information they needed to confront their daughter’s middle school and set them straight on Church history and doctrine regarding the Blacks. The brother told us he had never attended anything like the performance before and was certain had he not been there and not received the handout, he would not have been a position or have the courage to do what he did.

This got us thinking of the many interesting intersections of lives a loving Father in Heaven willingly orchestrates to accomplish His purposes. How blessed we are to be participants in His work, to bear witness of His gory and majesty, to sing the praises such experiences have so deeply rooted in our hearts.