Monday, May 5, 2014

Week Forty-two

WEEK FORTY-TWO April 21, 2014

Visited or called all our families this week encouraging them to watch the video on, “Because of Him” which is a wonderfully well done Easter message. If you have yet to see it take the time it is less than 3 minutes in length. In our temple preparation class we discussed Love (our Heavenly Father’s and our Savior’s), Death (the complete conquering of death that the Savior’s rising from the dead accomplished), Sin (conditional cleansing from sin through the atonement), and Change (willingly allowing the Savior to change us into someone who when we get “home” will feel comfortable being there. It’s clear that we are not “made” God’s but “become” God’s through allowing Christ to change us. I believe our Heavenly Father gives us all the joy and happiness we allow Him to give us.

Good Friday this week found us in the Newport Beach Temple. As far as we can recall it is the first time we have been in the temple on a Good Friday. We found ourselves again praying for the missionary movement and for us to get back into that missionary spirit following our wonderful visit with our daughter Kelly and her family. We are so pleased that they have fit so well into our home ward which was confirmed by this email: “Kelly and family are a great addition to the ward! You may need to buy another house in the ward when you return, as we don’t want them to go anywhere! Hope all is well, we think of you often and pray for you every day!” We have shared that email with everyone this week.

We picked up an office senior couple, and drove over to the Newport Stake Center adjacent to the Newport Temple. Although the meeting was not to start until 8:30 the place was already packed with missionaries from the Irvine and Anaheim Missions about 400 strong. Elder Neil L. Anderson of the Quorum of the Twelve and Elder Stanley Ellis of the First Quorum of the Seventy and their wives came about an hour and one-half after they were to be there so there was a long, long wait. When they arrived they organized the crowd and shook hands with all present in less than 15 minutes. Elder Foster, one of the ushers from our mission, was standing near Elder Anderson and I shook his hand first though he was reluctant, “I’m not supposed to shake hands,” he whispered. Later when the hand shaking ended and the ushers came up to shake hands, Elder Anderson played refused to shake Elder Foster’s saying, “I heard you say you weren’t supposed to shake hands,” which had everyone laughing.

Saw Carl Morrison there, an attorney I knew when we lived in Encinitas. He is the Executive Secretary for Elder Haynie the Area Authority Seventy and former stake president in Escondido. Sister Ellis used the last 7 statements of the Savior to apply to missionary work forgive those who persecute you, look for the good in all, expect to look out for your companion, you are not alone, pray for the comforter, trust for righteousness, complete mission with honor and finish strong. Commend your spirit to the Lord every day.

I am never surprised at the variety of truths we all see in sacred writ. Elder Ellis’ talk was about aligning ourselves with the Apostles and Prophets to receive power and used Nephi 3-4, from which he concluded Nephi and his brothers failed trying to do it themselves then decided to rely upon the Lord. It reads to me that they were praying all along and not sitting there waiting for direction, but got up and did the best they knew how, and then received the blessed direction as a result of a combination of their faith and effort.

Sister Anderson then spoke about general conference and the importance of the messages delivered there and testified as to their inspiration.

Elder Anderson spoke about a missionary and the atonement. He asked why did we shake hands? To make it personal, one on one. You have to establish what you really believe and bear testimony to those things. I was surprised that he did not offer an apostolic blessing upon the missionaries.

On our first Easter Sunday, we were in the Lake Forest ward where the congregation was treated as the ward choir and opening and closing hymns selected to encourage a robust response, which the congregation delivered on. Both the piano and organ were used which added to both the music and the spirit. Two families had filled the front of the chapel with flowers and the primary children, instead of singing a primary song, sang “I Know That My Redeemer Lives,” all of the verses. As soon as the opening hymn began the spirit of the meeting intensified. The 6 Family was great taken by the effected as were we. It made quite a contrast to the succeeding Sacrament meeting in the other ward with no flowers, no special music etc.

Because of Easter Sunday the ward council in the second ward was not held so we were able to stay for Sunday school and Priesthood and Relief Society in the first ward. During the discussion in High Priest’s group several, for some reason, chose to share stories of bishops and other “church leaders” abandoning their testimonies and leaving the church altogether. I was concerned of the effect this would have on Brother 6 and shared some feelings with him who responded “What is wrong with these people?” Later when we went by for our discussion with the 6 Family he shared with his wife what had happened in HP without going into the actual stories. He became very animated wondering how someone could throw a testimony away because something couldn’t be explained. “It seems to me that when you know by the spirit something is true, the fact that you many not yet understand or know something else is no reason whatsoever for giving up that which you don’t know. I’m at a lost to understand.” This from a non-member of the church. As you can imagine, dear reader, we had a wonderful discussion of the truths of the gospel, the power of the spirit to learn and to know, and the importance in not casting away one’s confidence just because there is something you are yet to understand. In Preach My Gospel there is a quote from President James E. Faust, page 91, that reads, “The Holy Ghost bears witness of the truth and impresses upon the soul the reality of God the Father and the Son Jesus Christ so deeply that no earthly power or authority can separate him from that knowledge.” Apparently you can willingly give it away if you choose too.

As Easter Week drew to a close we were reminded of the reality of our Savior, His life and mission as reflected in the words of the Prophet Joseph Smith: “And now, after the many testimonies which have been given of him, this is the testimony, last of all, which we give of him: That he lives! For we saw him, even on the right hand of God; and we heard the voice bearing record that he is the Only Begotten of the Father. That by him, and through him, and of him, the worlds are and were created, and the inhabitants thereof are begotten sons and daughters unto God” (Doctrine & Covenants 76:22-24).

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