Monday, September 8, 2014

Week Sixty-Two

WEEK SIXTY-TWO September 8, 2014

Learned from Brother Two that their son woke up with unbearable stomach cramps and pain that wouldn’t go away. So they took him to the hospital where he was diagnosed with appendicitis. They operated immediately and were able to extract the organ before it burst. So just three small scars and home the day of surgery. How times have changed. At seven years of age I was rushed to the hospital for emergency surgery, spent a week in the hospital, and left with a long scar on my side.

This was on a Tuesday and Thursday and Friday were the first two days of school. He asked for blessing so he could attend school. His father anointed and I spoke the blessing and nearly over his mom’s objections he went to school and told us he made it through both days with no pain or discomfort whatsoever expressing his faith and testimony in the power of the priesthood.

Mom sent us this note that first night still worrying about him going to school that first day: “Thanks for stopping by yesterday and bringing the kids gifts that was really nice of you. Jacob was determined to go to school today I went ahead and let him go. He doesn't carry any books but say a prayer that he's OK and that he comes home if he needs to. I just don't want him pushing himself.”

We attended the San Diego Temple with the Fifty-five family who were going through the temple for the first time. We had taught them in the temple preparation this summer. A recent convert and her husband were their escorts. Both had big smiles on their faces as we entered the ordinance room and afterwards expressed how touched they were that we changed our schedule and made the trip down.

It was good to be in the San Diego Temple again. With all the history involved in raising funds for its construction, selecting the site, serving on the Temple Open House Committee, being an ordinance worker in the temple with my folks, a son and daughter being married there, this temple has a different feel for us. I am sure it is the coloration of our history. Enjoyed a sweet experience with the Lord in the Celestial Room following the session. Didn’t get back home until after 10 p.m. and we both were reminded of our age again.

Were able also to visit with some dear friends while passing through Encinitas which was a great joy to us.

Had a good meeting with the Twenty-One family. He auditioned and was accepted into the country band and they are holding auditions for others now. He is excited. Impressed with the lead singer, songwriter, organizer. No drugs, etc. Read together 1 Nephi 2-3 tonight and discussed thoroughly as Brother Twenty-one has struggled to understand just what is going on in the Book of Mormon. We spent a hour an done-half on just those two chapters to lay the foundation for the entire book.

Visited with the Four family tonight. He wanted me to fill him in on the Bible Study class I conducted the previous week which he missed. I’d put together a several page document specifically for him entitled They Saw God, listing bible scriptures referencing the same, then latter-day scripture and revelations regarding the same. I submitted that when faced with all these scriptures many try to explain them away, but the words say they saw God. It’s as if many think language in the bible about not seeing God in John and 1 John limits what God can do, as if he is controlled by the language of the Bible. I said I believed in a God that can do whatever His will may be and the references in question refer to man’s limitations rather than God’s. Thus man cannot see God unless invited to do so by God and protected by God such as happened to Peter, James and John on the Mount of Transfiguration. Then shared scriptures outside the bible to support my position. We had a good discussion and when he tried to explain away the words of Jacob, I said, “But his words are that he saw God. We either agree to take the words of the bible as stated or we do not. And you will notice we are not talking about a few such verses but many that deal with inspired men seeing God.”

Contacted Brother Two asking him if he felt ready to confirm his daughter following her baptism Saturday. He replied, “If you don’t mind. I would like you to confirm her. It’s a privilege a true one that I will get to baptize her. It’s a privilege to have you do that for her! I know the blessing you give her will be honored of God.”

Stretched over more than a year now Brother Two was baptized, later Sister Two, later still their oldest son and now their middle children and daughter who has just turned 8 years of age. We have been with them to receive their Patriarchal blessings; to prepare him to receive the Melchizedek Priesthood and to confirm such priesthood upon him; to prepare both of them to attend the temple; to be their escorts in going through the temple. We now claim them as part of our family.

I was asked by the stake to give the talk on the Holy Ghost for the baptism service. I described the many virtues of my father and how when his arms were around me I felt strong and protected. Then described the many virtues of my mother and how when her arms were around me I felt warm and comforted. I then described how the Holy Ghost give us both strength and protection as well as warmth and comfort and suggested that commandments were but invitations from God to enjoy strength, protection, warmth and comfort through his holy spirit. That commandments are not a list of do’s and don’ts but invitations to enjoy the companionship of the Holy Ghost.

Received the following from Sister Haddock’s cousin who is now serving with her husband—

Starting a Mission is like Dying

Being on a MLS mission, as seniors, has been a unique experience. The preparation was extremely a lot of work. Leaving our house in Wyoming and everything that entailed was daunting and difficult: getting rid of “stuff,” organizing “stuff” we’ve been collecting for 39 years, packing clothes and books and a few dishes, etc., then turning our “lives” over to our daughter and her husband. It was a crazy and exhausting time for us. But then, suddenly, we found ourselves in the MTC, wondering if we should have spent more time preparing spiritually and studying Preach My Gospel. One week later, the fast pace ended. Basically, we woke up one morning and it hit us that we are full-time missionaries! The long to-do lists are now replaced with our ward lists and phone numbers.
We are living in … a little apartment with very few material things. Our belongings are a bed, a couch, a table and chairs and the basic necessities. It is very quiet.  Each day we eat together, plan and study together, exercise together and teach together. Very gradually we quit thinking so much about our former life in Wyoming. It must be a little like dying. One leaves the clamor, the noise, and the troubles behind and suddenly finds themselves in a quiet place and wonder how they got there. There is a no longer a selfish “Bucket List.” Although we never quit praying for our family, now our thoughts and prayers are consumed with the people we have met: their sufferings, their struggling’s, their desires to reach God and gain strength to overcome their challenges. About 10:30 at night, we fall into our beds with exhaustion.

When the Rubber meets the Road

When we visit people in their homes, things usually don’t turn out the way we had imagined. The husband may be late or not present at the meeting, the children may be crying or bouncing around and the dogs and cats jumping on us. Sometimes we search for a spot to sit down on the couch, covered with toys or laundry. We never know what to expect.  These are not “fake investigators” at the MTC, but real people with real lives. Amidst the situation we have a constant prayer in our hearts that we will be able to say something that will inspire or strengthen them in their lives. And then when we return back to our apartment, we always get a sweet feeling in our hearts that our Heavenly Father is pleased with our efforts. Our testimonies are growing. Our confidence is getting stronger.

When we read and ponder the scriptures we feel the peace and know our Savior is very near. It’s good to be serving the Lord on a mission at this time in our lives. Yes, our old lives have died, but we are being reborn.

Spent our 49th Wedding Anniversary in the Lake Forest ward. During priesthood opening exercises, among the missionary stories shared were two I really liked. One brother told about his six year old daughter receiving a birthday invitation from a girl in her class, the family explained to the parents of the girl that Sunday’s were reserved as a family day. The little girl undaunted asked the member’s daughter later why she couldn’t come to her birthday party. The girl replied, “It is a special day for Jesus.” To which the birthday girl replied, “Well, bring him too.” This opened an opportunity for a gospel discussion with this non-Christian family.

The other story was brother who described it as a Spam missionary experience. He said Costco had Spam on sale and he purchased a couple of cases. When checking out the cashier commented, “What is Spam?” In giving his answer he explained that his church believed in food storage for emergencies and that Spam was a great addition to that storage. And so began a brief missionary moment, “as long as one can be in a cashier line at Costco” said he.

Received a strong impression Sunday to bear my testimony today on the necessity for priesthood authority and its restoration sharing three experiences that had been mine.

Had a wonderful meeting with the Six family finishing the restoration i.e., Moroni’s visit in detail, the lost 116 pages and the result, restoration of the Aaronic and Melchizedek Priesthoods; why the book was named after Mormon, and what happened to the plates. I describing Mormon’s efforts to condense the writing of others, pointing out that experts now see that each author’s book carries each individual author’s imprint. Then to our surprise Brother Six then bore his testimony of the Book of Mormon to his adult daughter saying “In reading this book it is clear that no one person could have written it. Further that at that time things never known have now come to light hundreds of year later that are supportive of what the book says. I have always wondered about some of the stories in the Bible, many seem very farfetched. The book itself has passed through so many hands and scribes it is difficult for me to put a lot of trust in what is written. But the Book of Mormon hasn’t gone through all those things. It is here and now. We have it right in our hands as it was given by God without all those changes. The Book of Mormon bears witness of itself as it is read.” Wow, what a testimony. Hard to imagine that testimony can come from one who has yet to make the commitment to be baptized.

We had met with the One family earlier in the week, but accepted their invitation Sunday evening to have dinner with them. We got tied up a bit with an earlier appointment but they had waited for us. “Just want to visit with you. We love the spirit you bring.”

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