WEEK FIFTY-ONE June 23, 2014
This week Brother Six flew back east for his adult daughter recovering from extensive cancer surgery. She has sold her home so he will help pack up things for her and then spend some time with his brothers and sisters before the two of them will travel cross country to return to southern California where she will stay with them throughout her recovery. Brother Six has always stated what low maintenance Sister Six is so she was surprised when we shared with her the following text messages: “Our prayers are with you that you have a special and safe journey with your daughter. Elder and Sister Haddock.” He replied, “Thank you very much. I am in Chicago waiting for the next plane. She would be very happy if you stopped in to see her during the following week. Have a good day.” I wrote, “We've put your sweetheart on our calendar for regular visits starting with tomorrow. And have arranged with young elders to do some heavy lifting when needed.” Said Brother Six, “I feel much better knowing you are there for her.J”
The next night we called on Sister Six and offered to help. She refused being able to do what she needed but did accept our invitation to call or visit each day during the week and to have lunch with her as well. We followed through and on Thursday had lunch at Mimi’s. The last time Sister H and I had been there we learned they had changed the entire menu and virtually everything that I had liked there had been deleted. I bemoaned this fact to the server as we set down whereupon she produced the menus saying, “These new ones were just printed this week and have all the old items restored.” To which Sister Six looked at me and said, “So what have you to say now?”
On Tuesday evening we visited with the Twenty-One family. This was his first time to use the Melchizedek Priesthood and after some instruction he consecrated oil which we had brought along for the occasion and we had a further discussion on Priesthood ordinances. Later along with the WML we called on the Four Family. Brother Four, our preacher, who has been unwilling to pray about the need for authority, accepted my invitation to give him a blessing for his surgery tomorrow. This will his first time to undergo surgery and I felt he must be feeling a bit apprehensive. Judging by his quick acceptance of the invitation a couple of nights ago I presume that was the case. We talked a bit about blessings using James 5, had a word of prayer which he asked me to offer, he telling us he was taking this very seriously, then WML anointed and I sealed the anointing. He was told he may have to spend a night in the VA hospital in Long Beach, but it turned out to be two nights so the second night Sister H and I went up to Long Beach to visit with him and had another prayer which he offered. Both he and his wife seemed genuinely surprised we would drive up that far to see him.
Sister H volunteered us for participation in a skit the senior missionaries put on for a zone conference, two performances, Thursday and Friday to accommodate all six zones of the mission. The theme of the skit was on etiquette and Elder Litchfield, Elder Lloyd and I were “students” of an etiquette school who were there to demonstrate what we had learned as we ate a meal. Of course we were to do everything wrong which seemed to come naturally for the three of us. Many told Sister H and I it was the best part of the conference. Our wives, dressed as chiefs, stood behind us and hit us over the head with spoons when acted improperly. The skit ended with us bowing to our chiefs, thanking them for the wonderful meal and exposing big signs on our rear ends reading The End.
Met with the Sixty Family for the first time. They are about four years older than we are and because of health and other issues have not been to church in years. He was a former field manager for a drug store chain and quite a talker. We visited for about an hour and one-half and just seemed to hit it off together. We have visited the first time and they were not home so we left a card on the door. He is only the second person in our entire mission to call us from the card. We talked about family history and some work that is needed as a couple of his brothers had passed away. Said he, “To take care of that I will have to begin paying my tithing and take care of a couple of matters.” However he accepted the invitation to make that a priority. Sister Sixty is dealing with some equilibrium and dementia problems. So when we got to church Sunday I met with the bishop and their home teacher to arrange for them to receive the Sacrament, which they had missed now for several years. So you can imagine my surprise when they both walked into Sacrament meeting. The bishop said later, “Can you visit every family in our ward?” Jan rushed up to Sister Sixty and gave her a hug and had them sit by us. Somehow word got to their married daughter sitting sat the front of the chapel and she came back after the sacrament and set with them as well. I greeted Brother Sixty saying how great it was to see them here to which he replied, “Your visit was the final push.” I could see she had some need just before the Sacrament for a tissue so I scrambled out of my seat and went searching the building and found some in the Library which seemed to overjoy both of them when I returned and offered it to them. After sacrament he said, “I guess you have to go to the missionary class?” Which like a dolt agreed and afterwards was left wondering why I didn’t accept his implied invitation to join them in the gospel doctrine class. She feeling a little worn out after Sunday school, they left for home without going to Priesthood and Relief Society.
We also visited a single sister Sixty-One for the first time. All her children are thirty or more and this week was the anniversary of the death of her son. She has had nearly thirty surgeries on her eyes and then more surgeries to boot. Husband bailed and more problems than I could count, yet in all this very upbeat and appreciative of all the blessing she has received. Earlier in the week we heard a story about a sister whose whole life was falling apart as she burst into tears because she had to teach a Relief Society lesson with a cold sore just beginning to blossom. The contrast between the two sisters was so extreme it probably fueled the love we felt for this dear sister. She accepted my invitation to give her a blessing which I did and again she was so appreciative.
Later that day we participated in split with the young elders meeting with a single sister, Sixty-three, who has a daughter just graduating from high school this week. She belongs to a local evangelical church and made sure we knew she only believes what her pastor tells her to believe. I nodded to the young elder to start and he mumbled he didn’t have anything specific prepared so I felt free to give the discussion. It was a wide ranging discussion concerning mostly things she had heard we believed and which I was able to correct her on. The discussion took us through every book of scripture, Old Testament, New Testament, Book of Mormon, Doctrine & Covenants, and Pearl of Great Price. For the first time on our senior mission I felt like I did teaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ as a young missionary fifty-three years. Everything came back to my mind including the same joy, out-goingness and affirmation of those long ago years. I didn’t want it to end. I felt like I was back in my element. Unfortunately, as is often the case, she was not dissuaded from her pastor’s belief’s but we left with her thinking much differently about “the Mormon’s” she said. The young elder kept shaking his head as we were walking back to the car. “Elder Haddock, I am overwhelmed with your facility with all the scriptures. No matter what she brought up or asked you had scriptures after scripture that resolved the issued for her.” I told him in another fifty-three years of study he would be there too. I found myself on my knees that night expressing my deep felt appreciation for the experience the Lord had given me and the flashback memory that was so rich and full.
Our bible study group this week was on forgiveness. Brother Four was the first to speak followed by the young elders then sisters before it came my turn. Brother Four used an application from 2 Corinthians I had never considered before which prompted me to change my scripture to fit in with his. His focus was chapter 2, verses 4-11, pointing out that in an earlier setting one was blamed for acting improperly and Paul thought he had suffered enough that now he should be forgiven and that forgiving includes giving him comfort and confirm our love towards him, illustrating if we don’t forgive in this manner we give Satan an advantage over us. So I chose to use Ephesians 4:29-32 being kind and tenderhearted toward one another, forgiving all, “even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven [us]”.