Friday, April 4, 2014

Week Thirty-Seven

WEEK THIRTY-SEVEN March 17, 2014

We have gotten into a bit of a hole with being too busy and are now trying to recreate nearly four weeks of work so this may be a bit sketchy. We had our third Senior Couple family home evening this week, with some delicious dishes, delightful conversations, and hilarious stories! 

We stopped by the Nineteen family again today. It has been four months since we have been able to meet with them. Our visits were so cordial and faith promoting we have been at a lost to figure out what has happened. We have met Brother Nineteen three times in the yard or street and have dropped off myriad of things but never gotten into the home or have been able to set up an appointment. Brother Nineteen has always been cordial and in response to our questions “is it us” or “did we do something wrong” keeps assuring us that it has nothing to do with us. “I keep telling my wife to call the missionaries and set up an appointment.” Well this time something clicked with Brother Nineteen and he invited us in. For an hour plus he shared a number of personal concerns, none of which was related to the church in any way, but issues at home, decisions being made, all of which have caused him concern and worry. As he finished Sister H asked him if he would like a blessing and he said that he would very much like one. 

So I proceeded to give him a blessing and was pleased at the promises a loving Father in Heaven extended to this son of His, one who already has a testimony of the truthfulness of the gospel of Jesus Christ. I could feel his head and entire body twitching throughout the blessing and as I finished noticed deep rivulets of tears cascading down his face. He embraced me warmly and with deep emotion and thanked us profusely for our visit. We set up an appointment (finally) for the following Friday.

One can imagine the feelings of euphoria we felt as we left. The reason for our missing four months was basically they got too busy and just haven’t had time for anything, including friends of theirs with all the medical, family, legal and estate planning issues that have arisen. The tenderness with which the Lord spoke to Brother Nineteen was a very sweet thing to behold. Clearly the Lord has not lost track of him and knows him by name.

Spent some time with the bishop of the Aliso Creek Ward planning the Temple Preparation class and the presentation I want him to give in week four. The bishop has been very supportive and appreciative. Also visited a nonmember seeking assistance at the bishop’s request acquainting the brother with how fast offerings and welfare assistance work in the Church as well as obtaining his commitment to do a number of things that it be not a dole. Which he willingly accepted including allowing the young missionaries to come by and teach him. I had explained to him that 1) Only the bishop can make decisions regarding the Lord’s sacred funds; 2) Church assistance is for temporary situations only and not long term needs so he would have to have a long term game plan if assistance should be provided; and 3) The Church does not believe in the welfare dole and that some work would be required on his behalf for his one self-worth which he said he would be willing to do.

Brother Forty cancelled his appointment feeling sick. I reminded Sister H of the experience we had when I served as a young man. The living room light was on as we knocked on the door for our appointment and with the knock immediately flicked off. The front door had a couple of glass panels at the top and fortunately I had a tall companion who regaled me with what he saw—the parents and children on their hands and knees crawling out of the room. Sometimes they don’t want to hear more but we have no reason to believe that is the case here.

Brother Two, who we have committed to read the Book of Mormon, is coming along. He has been a lifelong student of the Bible and it has been difficult for him to disengage with the limited time he has. This week we received a text that he had just finished Mosiah 25. Said he, “The people of Limhi were badly brought to their knees three times and the Lord slow to hear their cries. Then in ch.24 the contrast with Alma and his faith and obedience and the Lord being quick to intervene! It was just like you said.”

Later in the week he wrote: “Remember that Book of Mormon you gave me to read? I baptized it today! I learned a lesson from this. Don’t take a bath with a book you want to stay dry. Especially when you needed a nap. Today I didn’t take one!”

As part of a forty day fast for the Lake Forest ward (each family fasting for a day with a pre-fast meeting with the missionaries and a break the fast dinner with them for missionary work) also had a Car Wash to draw members from the community coupled with chapel tours. Eight non-members participated in the tour.

Had a wonderful meeting with the 21st family and their two “shy” children, who surprised both us and the parent by rushing to the door to hug us as we entered and left. As Sister H was visiting the oldest of their daughters and I rolled a ball back and forth before we began our discussion on preparing the father to receive the Melchizedek Priesthood. We were happy to learn that he has also scheduled an appointment with the Patriarch to receive his blessing. He has been having some issues at work that were overwhelming to him and asked for a blessing which I gave to him. He called the next day to say although the issues are still there, the negative feelings that were so debilitating were gone completely.

Sister Nineteen called all cheery but to inform us there were some other appointments that her husband had been unaware of and they couldn’t make the appointment the following day. So we had to reschedule for Wednesday next week. At least no one was crawling on hands and knees. But these things still hurt nonetheless. I suspect as missionaries we get so invested in both the message and the families that we can’t tell one from the other.

Had another two meetings with Brother Forty-Two finishing the Plan of Salvation and Joseph Smiths writings on Adam and the priesthood. He kept saying, “Oh, I see, yes, yes.” Later in the week he reverted to his trinity concerns and I sent him about thirty scriptures to consider. When his response was received I had to ask,” tell what point you are trying to make. It isn't apparent to me.” He replied that to him Jehovah and Elohim were the same. I replied, “To come to that conclusion one must discard the myriad statements of Christ himself and choose to believe that God has stopped speaking to his children since the Bible. I am unwilling to do that. My personal experiences with God and Christ precludes me from making that choice. Elohim is our Father in Heaven and is God overall. His firstborn son was Jehovah in the OT and Jesus Christ in the NT. He is my Savior and Redeemer and a God. The Holy Ghost is a personage of spirit and the witness of both the Father and the Son and a trusted companion of mine who is also a God. Let me ask this question in Genesis 1:26 to whom is God speaking when he says let “us” or “our” image? Then take a look at Moses 2:1 and then Moses 2:26-27 and consider whether that is a reasonable explanation. All I can say is go to God and ask in all humility and follow what he reveals to you about his son, the Holy Ghost and himself.” Brother Forty-two replied, “Yes I will pray.”

One of the counselors in the Lake Forest ward bishopric shared a missionary moment which I asked him to write up for me: “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 book. I took a look at the book and it said that the Mormons failed at setting up three communities and mentioned Missouri by name. There was no context as to persecution, mobs, or Gov. Boggs executive order 44 contributing to this failure. In my opinion this is just not the truth without including the context. 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, (United States History - Independence to 1914, William Deverell and Deborah Gray White, Holt, Reinhart and Winston a Harcourt Education Company) and told the class that blacks were not allowed to join the Mormon church until 1978. Something in me said you have to say something this is not okay. It's not my character to go complain but what was driving me out the door was Sunday’s presentation and with the program in my hand I left. 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 (FEB). 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. He copied parts of the program 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 she felt 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. If you have any questions give me a call or reply here. We are truly grateful for you and Sister Haddock, I wish more senior missionaries were called at the ward levels. You both have been an example to me.”

During the week the young Deacon age son of the Two Family, who is also reading the Book of Mormon, wrote me, “Alma Ch 1 one was wonderful? Nehor did a bad thing to kill a righteous man and to teach false doctrine. It says that he suffered and died on a hill. I can't wait to get more into the Book of Alma.” Then the next day wrote: “Wow alma Ch 2 was the best yet. With very little people the Nephites destroyed almost all the Lamanites and the Amlicites. It said that the Lamanites army was so big I was like that the sand of the sea. It was something else that Amlici joined forces with the Lamanites. It’s good to keep the commandments like the Nephites did what would happened if the Nephites weren't keeping the commandments of god? Had a nice meeting with the Two family this week, as the father had been out of town on business for four weeks.

Started our first Temple Preparation class for the Los Alisos Ward with 6 of the 10 in attendance. Those there said they were really excited to be there. We started with the question, “So What do we thing we Know about the Temple?” Which led to some wonderful discussions. This has changed our routing a bit. For the next two Sunday I am also teaching the Gospel Essentials class for Brother London in the Lake Forest Ward. So we have LF Ward Council at 7:30 a.m. on Sunday, Sacrament there at 10 a.m., then the Sunday School class, then up to Aliso Creek for Missionary Correlation at 12:24, then Sacrament at 1:30 followed by Temple Preparation, then our discussion with the Six Family at 3:45. When the Gospel Essentials class is done, then it will be Sacrament 1st and 3rd Sundays at LF and 2nd and 4th at AC, with ward council LF on 1st and 3rd and LF 2nd and 4th, and because of Temple Preparation, no Priesthood/Relief Society for the next couple of months until we finish the course.

Showed a video from with the Six Family which they really appreciated and had another good gospel discussion.

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