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.

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