Monday, June 23, 2014

Week Fifty

WEEK FIFTY   June 16, 2014

This week I made a missionary donation to the Red Cross blood bank and was treated like royalty. Have often thought what an easy thing this is to do and apparently very useful.

We enjoyed lunch this week with one of our Ward Mission Leaders and his dear wife at Empanada Man. He had served in Argentina as had one of our daughters and son and all three have raved about empanada’s so we tried the beef, spinach & cheese, and saltena empanadas. As well as gnocchi, all of which were delicious.

Heard a message each day this week from the son of the Two family and his observations in reading the Book of Mormon. One of which was about
3rd Nephi chapter 4. “It was talking about before the Nephites went to war they prayed to God for his protection and his mercy upon them for their sins. There was a great slaughter during the war it says it was one of the biggest ever. The Nephites destroyed the leader of the robbers and drove n them out the land. The robbers had chosen a new leader. The new leader was hanged and more of the robbers were killed. Great chapter. It was only by God’s grace and the people repenting for their sins. Awesome Ch.”

Had a meeting with Brother Forty-Two who is leaving for two weeks to preach at the Church of God in Queens, New York on Daniel and Revelation and is very excited about it. The discussion was very positive and uplifting. Again he referenced that he needed to know the truth if he was going to get baptized. That comment almost seemed out of context with his joy for leaving. He did share three more anti-Mormon DVDs he wanted me to watch and explain to him when he returns. While he was away he sent the following: Received from Paul Jung, our Church of God minister—“What name Elohim?” I replied, the Hebrew plural noun Elohim is translated as gods. Sometimes used as a name – title for God the father with the plural sense understood as a payroll of majesty or excellence reflecting all of the qualities and characteristics possessed by God the father. Often it is impossible to know where the term Elohim is referring to God the father or to Jehovah. At other times it is clear that Elohim is intended as a simple plural noun meaning gods. By attaching “El” the Hebrews were reminded of their dependence upon God and his importance in their lives.

Had a very sweet meeting with the Twenty One family tonight in preparation of his ordination Sunday. What a joy it has been to associate with them. We shared a very animated discussion about how to mark scriptures showing them my study version and others as well, my reasoning for what I did, and reminding them they do it doesn’t matter. We also gave them marking pencils, rulers, and color markers which they were grateful to receive. With his earlier struggles with Isaiah, we suggested he start in Mosiah and end with Nephi.

Father’s day was a first for me. I think it was the first time I have ever conferred the Melchizedek Priesthood and ordained a brother an Elder on this glorious day. So Brother Twenty One is now Elder Twenty One. We had renewed there a truth we have learned as Senior Missionaries. We may not be the youngest, the fastest, or even do all the things we once did as young missionaries over half a century ago, but there is still a vital place in the Lord’s work for us old codgers to get out of our easy chairs and venture forth as Nephi, not knowing beforehand the things we are going to do. At the ordination the Bishop noted, “Elder and Sister Haddock have been like lightening from heaven. Just as lighting brings clarity in a dark forest glade, they have brought spiritual clarity to your lives. It’s as if they have become your spiritual parents now.” When Elder Twenty One was asked to share his testimony he said, with great emotion, “We are so grateful for Brother and Sister Haddock. They are the parents we never had and the grandparents our children never had. What a great blessing they have become in our lives. We will never forget them.” Wow, how can you resist the impression to get up, get out, and get going?

We also picked up a copy of Elder Richard G. Scott’s book, Finding Peace, Happiness and Joy and gave it to Brother Fifty-four who has made a complete turn around and is entering the MTC shortly on his way to Ecuador. I told him this book was one of the most profound I had ever read, save on the scriptures and that reading it in preparation for his mission would broaden his understanding of just what the Savior is offering to all who come unto him and just what it means to be a disciple of Christ and in turn help him to receive the peace, happiness and joy a loving Heavenly Father and His Only Begotten Son have in store for him.

Brother Six left for a week to pick up his daughter in the East and was appreciative that we would be looking in on Sister Six in his absence. We met with Sister Six alone in his absence. She brought us up. We shared a video on father’s doing things with and for their children but really showed our need to trust in the God that he is there even when we don’t see him providing for us. Tried and tried, almost to the obnoxious stage to get her to let us serve her and all we could get was an invitation to call her each day and to have lunch together on Wednesday. How often it seems that those who are so great at serving others have such difficulty in being served themselves.

Received some sweet notes and remembrances on Father’s Day this week and then forget to wear the hand-printed tie my grandkids had given me. We have had a family saying, “Remember Who You Are” that our children heard as they were growing up and in each letter I wrote them on their missions. Kelly send me a card that read, “Remember who you are!” Then in small print below read: “Otherwise they’ll take you to the hospital and check for brain injuries.” Kelly opined that the card makes “your saying more applicable to your age.”

Monday, June 9, 2014

Week Forty-nine

WEEK FORTY-NINE June 9, 2014

As a young missionary I noticed and even warned investigators of the coming onslaught of anti-Mormon literature that would seemingly, from nowhere, begin to fill their mail box. If happened again and again, often with no return address, just someone stuffing it in the mail box and driving off. It caused me deep reflection then as it does now, as to the causal factors behind such an effort. I concluded the very fact of this onslaught was itself a further witness to the truthfulness of the restored gospel as no reasonable person would react so bitterly and ostentatiously regarding beliefs of another than in no way infringe upon your own beliefs.

This week the onslaught has come to Sister H and me. We received five different DVDs of that ilk, several tracts and articles each containing the same hackneyed braying I saw as a young missionary. Also a number of calls from missionaries in our mission regarding appropriate responses to the same, requests to sit in with them to respond which we have done, but which is seeming less and less prudent to me. At best we offer some truths to reinforce the testimonies of our young missionaries caught unawares and having neither the insight nor understanding necessary to counteract such rude blasts.

We met with Brother Fifty in an exchange with a young missionary excited about the prospect of laying out the truth in an earnest and straightforward way causing me to reflect on our last visit with this individual and thinking he will have no chance to do so. This brother, who I believe has no interest whatsoever in discovering truth, would deny he is married and the father of four if it would lead credence to his argument. He comes from no established base, there is nothing to talk to him about, and draws conclusions from meaningless words purposely to obfuscate truth. He, as is his wont, had a number of slightly irritating questions, a screwed up scenario of worlds and kingdoms both now and in the hereafter, all based on his belief that Adam was the first Adam and Christ is the last Adam (or course, the scripture doesn’t exactly say that, which he didn’t want to hear; 1 Corinthians 15:45 “And so it is written, The first man Adam was made a living soul; the last Adam was made a quickening spirit”]. We worked through it from the scriptures parrying each concern and establishing a pattern of truth, none of which made a dent in his mind. Not a good experience for the missionary who didn’t know the scriptures well enough to keep up, said he didn’t understand what was even being said, felt unease and wondered about his competency. It ended with the young missionary asking for an email for the brother to express his concerns. I warned the missionary as we drove away that what he had asked for won’t be forthcoming, rather the brother would be sending him a diatribe condemning his testimony and beliefs. A few days later the missionary called to tell me he hated to admit that I was right. Concerns weren’t expressed rather an attack given. When asked what they can do I suggested he be asked to give you five minutes to present in simple terms your belief, not scriptures or quotes, just what you feel in your heart. And go with a young priest so there is no one there for him to contend with. His response to you will indicate whether you are to proceed with him and leave him to himself.

Gratefully we spent most of the next day in the Newport Beach Temple fulfilling assignments in the baptistery for walk ins that the Lake Forest Ward was unable to fill during the day time hours. We both experienced a wonderful peace and sense of well-being in sharp contrast to the night before and felt blessed to be given such a wonderful service opportunity. Sister H had to fill in for one sister who was baptized for 15 of her names but wanted the confirmation’s done while she was changing. Fortunately I was in charge of performing the confirmation and was able to do that for each name, after which I kissed her. Maybe a first for one performing confirmation ordinances in the temple.

Met with the Four family who shared a poignant message with us about how much he appreciated meeting with us each week and discussing the gospel, that since he is no longer preaching he had really missed such activity and wanted us to know just home much he has appreciated us going through his book “A Preachers Read Confession” with him. This week we discussed the chapter entitled “To God be the Glory.” As before I share additional light and knowledge received through the restored gospel of Jesus Christ.

We finished two meetings with Brother Forty-Two this week. He is leaving Monday, June 9 for a ten day preaching tour with the Church of God in Queens, New York exclusively on Daniel and Revelation. We finally completed 2 Nephi 2 which is such a clear and concise explanation of the plan of salvation that he just kept saying “wow” as principle and truth after truth was given. He told us he needed to know it all we were telling him was true. “I don’t want information. I need to know if it is true. If it is I have to change my whole life.” He then shared a number of concerns he had come across in an internet review which we answered. As we were leaving he asked me to review a couple of DVDs from with Brother Forty-Two, The Bible vs. The Book of Mormon, 2005, by Living Hope Ministries, in Brigham City, Utah. The other one by Pastor Fran Sankey, entitled the Mormon Jesus: B. Jesus According to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormons): Jesus is the first spirit child begotten in heaven by Elohim (God) and one of Elohim’s wives. However, he is not the only begotten son since Jesus’ brother, Lucifer (who became Satan), was also begotten by Elohim, in addition to billions of other spirit children. When it was time for Jesus to come to the world to redeem mankind, Elohim came to earth, married the Virgin Mary and had sexual relations with her to produce the baby Jesus. Jesus grew up, married Mary, Martha and Mary Magdalene, and paid for our sins in the Garden of Gethsemane before being crucified. [Fran Sankey]

For which I wrote up the following on our return visit later in the week: Poppycock!!! Fran Sankey’s characterization is not only untrue but an apparent purposeful distortion of LDS theology. To do it so blatantly, suggests her own credentials be examined. Following is a more accurate description of the Mormon belief of Christ, and in the words of God Himself:

Of Jesus Christ, God the Father hath said, “mine Only Begotten is and shall be the Savior, for he is full of grace and truth; but there is no God beside me” (Moses 1:6). “Worlds without number have I created; and I also created them for mine own purpose; and by the Son I created them, which is mine Only Begotten” (Moses 1:33). “He offereth himself a sacrifice for sin, to answer the ends of the law, unto all those who have a broken heart and a contrite spirit; and unto none else can the ends of the law be answered” (2 Nephi 2:7). “No flesh can dwell in [my presence], save it be through the merits, and mercy, and grace of the Holy Messiah, who layeth down his life according to the flesh, and taketh it again by the power of the Spirit, that he may bring to pass the resurrection of the dead, being the first that should rise” (2 Nephi 2:8). “He shall make intercession for all the children of men; and they that believe in him shall be saved” (2 Nephi 2:9).

LDS theology teaches that the phrase “Only Begotten Son” refers only to Jesus Christ (John 1:18; 3:16; Jacob 4:5, 11; Alma 12:33-34; D&C 20:21; 29:42; 49:5; 76:13, 25) and is both a description of his lineage as well as a name-title. All individuals who ever live on this earth are spirit children of our Heavenly Father (Numbers 27:16; Hebrews 12:9), but Jesus alone is the Only Begotten of the Father (Moses 5:9), meaning the Only Begotten in the flesh, because God is his Father (Luke 1:31-32) on earth as He is in heaven. How this was brought to pass has yet to be revealed. But as God affirmed, in His own voice, on the day of the Savior’s baptism, “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased” (Matthew 3:17).

On our second visit we reviewed the above, answered a number of questions he had and learned some details about his upcoming 10-day preaching tour. This time he said, “If I am going to be baptized I need to make sure this is true” and proceeded to give us three other DVDs, Mormonism, by Charlie H. Campbell, from the Apologetics Ministry; Mormonism uncovered from the Tower to Truth Ministries, another Pastor Fran Sankey and Mormon Temples and Book of Mormon, two others from the same source. He asked that I be ready to review them upon his return in two weeks. Havling seen the book of Mormon one previously which claims archeology supports the Bible but not the Book of Mormon, I told him with respect to biblical archeology there remains widespread dispute, among competing experts, as to the existence of the following, to name just a few:

The Flood
The Tower of Babel
Did the great patriarchs Abraham, Isaac and Jacob ever exist
Joseph in Egypt
The Exodus
The conquest of Canaan
Kingdom of David
Kingdom of Solomon
The Temple of Solomon

Further, the purported argument from silence put forth to discredit the Book of Mormon is equally as damning to the Bible yet, if fails for another larger reason—the absence of evidence is not evidence of absence, a truth that seems to have been conspicuously missed in all efforts to undermine the Book of Mormon through the absence of archeology. If archeology alone is the sole arbiter establishing truth or error, both books fail the test. Perhaps that is an indictment of archeology rather than the Bible and the Book of Mormon.

Brother Forty-Two did accept an invitation to learn when the Book of Mormon is true by giving it diligent study and pondering and then asking God in the name of Jesus Christ if it is true. We told him that there is no better witness than God himself as to whether the book if inspired and contains the word of God and to rely solely on man’s collective wisdom is a serious mistake if he wants to knows truths of God—there I simple no better source than God himself, which he agreed was true.

As out Bible Study this week we discussed doing hard things from the Bible and the Book of Mormon. I made a presentation of overcoming fear using Alma 58:9-13 and enjoyed one of those rare experiences where it feels as if the spirit is doing the teaching and you are a listener along with everyone else. Have not had that experience nearly as often as I did as a young missionary. Brother Forty-five, our Catholic investigator turned to me and said, “Brother Haddock, your words were very inspiring.”

We also met with Brother Forty-One this week. He has not been to church in over 25 years and told us the longer you are away the harder it is to get back. We discussed the needs of his family and presented the idea that perhaps needed blessings would come their way if he gave back to the Lord as he had promised. He said he would consider it. Sister H asked about a blessing suggesting his oldest son who is active. He thought should he do it he would ask for one from his home teacher. Later in the week I alerted the home teacher to our discussion for which he was grateful for that night he was going to be visiting with him.

Our meeting with the Twenty-One family was cancelled due to family illness. For the same reason they did not attend Sunday either. But he did have his final interview with the Stake President and on Sunday, June 15 he has asked me to confer upon him the Melchizedek Priesthood and ordain him to the office of an elder. With the evening free we accepted the invitation to attend a baseball game with the 13-year old son of the Two family. They won the playoff game into the season ending tournament, then blew out one team, beat in thrilling fashion another along the way and were playing in the championship game. They lost 23-1. The starting pitcher walked the first 6 batters, then hit after hit and by the end of the top of the first they were down 8 runs. Emotionally they were shot, couldn’t make a single play in the field nor get a hit. In a five inning game our boy only got to bat twice. The first time he walked, stole second and third and scored their only run on a groundout. The second at bat he hit a scorching line drive that went right into the glove of the pitcher without him even knowing it.

Sister H had called Sister Six about some sensitive matters and a question I was going to ask her husband. She gave us some insight but in praying about it I felt it was not het the time. So when she called a few days later and I told her that she was thrilled. Not for the information but because she had the same feeling and was worried it had come because of her fear. So she was extremely grateful to learn another had the same impression.

Sunday morning I took Brother Six to Stake Priesthood meeting and we had a good talk about his visit this week to pick up his daughter in the East and bring her back to live with them as she battles cancer. They will be able to have dinner together on Father’s Day which he sees as a real treat. Later in the day we discussed Elder Packer’s April conference address on how he received his witness the gospel was true and compared it with me always knowing the same. We shared ideas relative to such answers and confirmation come in a myriad of ways and the danger of determining one way in advance as opposed to a willingness to receive whatever the Lord gives, in whatever way He gives it.

In answer to a question one of the missionaries asked me, I sent by email a couple of paragraphs from Elder Bednar’s April conference address that answers his question beautifully:

The Savior Succors His People

Alma explains why and how the Savior can enable us: “And he shall go forth, suffering pains and afflictions and temptations of every kind; and this that the word might be fulfilled which saith he will take upon him the pains and the sicknesses of his people. And he will take upon him death, that he may loose the bands of death which bind his people; and he will take upon him their infirmities, that his bowels may be filled with mercy, according to the flesh, that he may know according to the flesh how to succor his people according to their infirmities” (Alma 7:11–12).

Thus, the Savior has suffered not just for our sins and iniquities—but also for our physical pains and anguish, our weaknesses and shortcomings, our fears and frustrations, our disappointments and discouragement, our regrets and remorse, our despair and desperation, the injustices and inequities we experience, and the emotional distresses that beset us.

There is no physical pain, no spiritual wound, no anguish of soul or heartache, no infirmity or weakness you or I ever confront in mortality that the Savior did not experience first. In a moment of weakness we may cry out, “No one knows what it is like. No one understands.” But the Son of God perfectly knows and understands, for He has felt and borne our individual burdens. And because of His infinite and eternal sacrifice (see Alma 34:14), He has perfect empathy and can extend to us His arm of mercy. He can reach out, touch, succor, heal, and strengthen us to be more than we could ever be and help us to do that which we could never do relying only upon our own power. Indeed, His yoke is easy and His burden is light. (Elder David A. Bednar, “Bear Up Their Burdens with Ease,” Ensign, May 2014, 89-90; CR, Apr 2014.)

Monday, June 2, 2014

Week Forty-eight


Have given a lot of thought to “distractions” the past couple of weeks as I have compared our current missionary experiences with those I had in the mission field 53 years ago. As we concluded a meeting back then, say on a Tuesday evening, we would ask something like, “Would Thursday or Friday work best for our next meeting?” The family would then pick one of those two dates. We in turn would find some excuse to drop by each of the intervening days to drop something off for them spending just a few minutes mostly on the doorstep. But today, people of all walks of life are so distracted by all that is going on the ability to set aside to do something, even something one wants is tragically limited. The crush and demand of conflicting events is real. I noticed at church the other day two sisters trying to schedule a play date with their children. The scene would be laughable if it wasn’t so sad, day and time after time was reviewed on their respective smart phones but they were unable to find a time that could match. In missionary work the ability to meet frequently, to build on the initial blush of inspiration is compromised by distractions that are very real. As a result of the distractions, many of which are good, the things that are eternal are being held hostage. I have been unable to come up with a solution to the dizzying disarray of distractions. Clearly the adversary has come up with a plan that appears nearly foolproof. Not sure how anyone can find the time to discover eternal truths let along make and keep covenants essential thereto.

Shared with one of our bishops some materials I had used with those seeking to know whether the Lord had forgiven them and to some to prepare members of record for baptism. Also sent him copies of the temple preparation articles (11 in all) that we handed out to our 12 participants. His response: Like manna from heaven! Please continue to shower these blessings and insights on me.”

Enjoyed a number of conversations this week with Brother Two relative to the Book of Mormon. Coming from another faith is which the Bible was preeminent he has had some difficulty in getting into the Book of Mormon almost as if he would be offending God to read the book. But it looks like we have turned the corner there as he has shared his insights throughout this week in his reading. He is also watching each morning one of the April General Conference addresses. Following one he texted me: ‘I’ve been watching Elder Zwicks talk every morning before work. I could almost give it if I had too, but that’s good because I need to engrain the words he spoke and let it pierce my heart. I decided I would start my morning every morning before work watching a general conference talk. I’m excited to see them all.” Later in the week he shared some thoughts about Elder Nelson’s talk to which I replied “There were several things in that talk that appealed to me. One was keeping divine commandments brings blessings every time and breaking divine commandments brings a loss of blessings every time. Also as you practice your religion you're exercising your faith. He also spoke about what we were talking about the other day. If one tries to segment his life into separate compartments you never can rise to the full stature of your personal integrity. The closing thought too: I pray that you'll be securely tied back to God that is eternal truths will be etched on your heart forever. I just love that thought.” He replied, “You’ve sure got a good memory.” To which I had to confess I that my memory was okay but I also had the Ensign.

At our cottage meeting with Four Family, we discussed his chapter on “Getting to Know the Enemy.” I shared a quote from Elder Dallin Oaks about the “vain things of the world,” which he said “includes every combination of that worldly quartet of property, pride, prominence and power.” (CR, Apr 2001) He loved the quote. We talked about three powerful enemies we all had to deal with: the devil, the worldly system we live in, and conquering our own flesh in which I introduced him to the concept of the “natural man.” I also shared an old Pogo cartoon (he had never heard of Pogo) which said “We have met the enemy and he is us!” He laughed at that. Our meeting seemed productive. He requested me to take the lead this time, “You come every time with my chapter all marked up and written on and I wonder if we ever get through the things you have prepared.” Jan thinks they are taking notes for a rewrite of his book. She may be right as they also take a copy of the notes I bring on each chapter. I also shared with him the following two quotes—“Mortal man is a dual being, a spirit child of God tabernacled in a physical body.  Endowed with agency, he is placed here in mortality between opposing forces. The influence of God on the one hand inspires, pleads, and urges him to follow the way of life. On the other hand is the power of Satan tempting him to disbelieve and disregard God’s commandments. The consequences of his choices are of the all-or-nothing sort.  There is no way for him to escape the influence of these opposing powers.  Inevitably he is led by one or the other. His God-given free agency gives him the power and option to choose. But choose he must.” (Marion G. Romney, Conference Report, October 1962, 94.)  C. S.: “There are two kinds of people: Those who say to God, ‘Thy will be done,’ and those to whom God says, ‘All right, then have it your way.’” (Great Divorce, 75.)

Also a quote from President Harold B. Lee applicable to spiritual welfare including the following: “The adversary has charted our weaknesses. Using words that are common to modern warfare, we might say that there are in the world today [spies] who are seeking to infiltrate the defenses of every one of us, and when we lower those defenses, we open avenues to an invasion of our souls. There are carefully charted on the maps of the opposition the weak spots in every one of us. They are known to the forces of evil, and just the moment we lower the defense of any one of those ports, that becomes the D day of our invasion, and our souls are in danger. (49-04, 711, 737)” When I read this one to him, even though it was written many years before his book Brother Chesley couldn’t help exclaim, “Hey, he has plagiarized me.”

Met with Brother Forth-two who had so many questions we didn’t get to 2 Nephi 2 as we had planned to discuss. Since the past couple of discussions have centered around the church that Christ established being far different, doctrinally and administratively, from the post Nicene church in the 4th century AD, we had picked up a copy of Elder Tad Callister’s “The Inevitable Apostasy,” and zeroed in on Chapter 14, “Sixth Evidence: Many Teachings were perverted.” He seemed surprised when we told him the book was for him to keep so feel to write notes and comments which we can discuss together later.

Received from a sweet note from the Burningham’s on their senior couple mission in Guatemala. Made me want to be there too.

Met with Brother Forty-one this week. He seemed very pleased to see us again. It has been about 8 weeks so he had concluded we had gone home already. We had a good discussion about getting him back to church again. He said, “You know the longer you are away (it has been 26 years for him) the harder it is to go back. I still believe everything but going back is hard. It will be embarrassing.” We shared ideas that might assist him in making the transition and at least got him thinking. Sister H suggested he get a blessing from his son and he said, “That’s an idea. But if I get a blessing it will get it from Rich, my home teacher.” We encouraged him to ask for one suggesting that coming back may be just the ticket for the Lord to bless his family with the unity he has been longing for.

Had our second meeting of the week with Brother Forty-two. Never did have time to get into Elder Callister’s book although he had it there, but we did get through 18 verses of 2 Nephi 2 with him nodding assent with every verse. He said, “I have to find out if this is true because if it is I have to follow this the rest of my life.” We also learned that after working as a minister in Indonesia for the past 29 years, he is spending his time just studying now with his wife doing the work. “She is a counselor and healer for which she gets paid. We have a handful of people that come to our apartment every Sunday at 11 a.m. that she ministers too.”

Taught the gospel essentials class in the Lake Forest Ward on families; then to the Aliso Creek Ward for our final Temple Preparation class and on to our discussion with the Six Family for our discussion with them. From the time we left home, attended Ward Council, the Lake Forest block, Missionary Correlation Meeting, the meetings at the Aliso Creek building and the discussion, rolled into home 11 hours later. Which has been pretty normal for Sunday’s, which are long, long days for us covering two wards.

We had a good discussion using several scriptures from the Doctrine & Covenants to teach the importance and purpose of temples with the Six family. Brother Six kept saying things like “our beliefs,” “attending our church,” and “we believe.” He and I are going to go to Stake Priesthood together early Sunday morning next where I plan on asking him what we told him we would ask, “What do we have to do for you to receive these blessings?” Earlier the Lord had told us to just present the temple and then to ask this question at the end.