Friday, September 5, 2014

Week Sixty-One

WEEK SIXTY-ONE September 1, 2014

Received a call from Sister Two late Monday afternoon saying they wanted to go to the temple the next day. I suggested it was going to be pretty rushed but she brushed that aside. Learned later Brother Two is going out of town on a six-month work assignment and she wanted to have this done before he left. She had yet to make an appointment with the temple, they didn’t have clothes yet etc.

Early the next morning she made contact with the temple and arranged a session at 3 p.m. We were to meet in the morning to finish the temple preparation but they didn’t thing they had time for that. Again I mentioned the rush and my concerns which were brushed aside. The went to Distribution and picked up clothes and we all got to the temple at the appointed hour of 1:30 p.m. I was still concerned.

The temple workers were very solicitous. We first went in with them for a visit with the Temple Recorder and learned the bishop had written in her married rather than her maiden name. All was completed and we separated, Jan and I had been their escorts in the Celestial room. Brother Two was so enthusiastic about the experience as we walked back the dressing room expressing a combination of wonder and fulfillment. We only had but a few minutes after the session to briefly visit as we walked to our respective cars. All the while hoping there would be no fallout from the rush.

So I was overjoyed when I received from Brother Two: “That was truly a time to embrace we had the privilege of sharing with you today! It was a wonderful experience!” I replied, “Thank you so much for inviting us to share that wonderful opportunity with you. It was a great experience for us as well. We think so highly of you.”

But that euphoria was doused when Sister Haddock heard from Sister Two who confessed to being overwhelmed, particularly about the sacred garment. She did agree to meet with us that day so when our schedule opened up we hotfooted it over there.

A number of concerns were expressed which can be summarized as follows: None of the members of the church are perfect; The Lord is asking a lot; So much is required I need time to assimilate it all; I’m just barely holding on. “It is just asking too much. I’m thinking I may need a break.” As we talked and bore witness the crisis of the last sentence dissipated and she agreed to give everything a try. I shared with her a talk given by Elder Carlos E. Asay, “The Temple Garment,” when he was president of the Salt Lake Temple in August 1997.

Brother Two responded “Hey there! I read the meaning of sacred clothing handout you gave us. Really appreciated the message it contained! I feel grateful about the endowment and temple clothing! It’s like having a small part of the temple always by your side and a continual reminder of the covenants set with our Lord. Much thanks!” So back to euphoria again.

Then a couple of days later to our daughter, Sister Two shared all the same concerns she had raised with us earlier but mindful of her promise to give these things time. “Yes, some things are a stumbling block to me. I am just trying to give myself time to work through them. There are lots of changes, we never envisioned making before joining the church… When I got my recent recommend I told the stake president that I was feeling like I needed a break from it all with some of the things going on. … Feeling like a constant song and dance of trying to fit in… Still I know Heavenly Father will make it clear. I am trying to give myself time as I said before.”

Received another message on Sunday from Sister Two which Sister H found ominous, “Sister Haddock, are you free at any time today? Could you come by the home?” All the worries of a missionary surfaced in Sister H’s mind. We got over there first thing in the morning just after receiving her message. There had been a marital relation flare up and Brother Two had walked out. She didn’t know where he was. We talked for a long time and I gave her a blessing which Sister H said was “very sweet, powerful and positive.” I was finally able to make contact with Brother Two late Sunday night and visited with him alone for a couple of hours. He was tired and frustrated. I told him they were suffering from the “unless illness”. Both had drawn a line in the sand saying unless the other does something first they weren’t going to do their part. He left uncertain if he was going to follow my counsel and get back together. How I love this family. I dragged back home exhausted and reminded of just how much marriage relation counseling drained me as bishop.

Took the time to apprise Sister Two that “I believe that every issue is solvable but you need to get together and talk about it and work through the issues. We continue to pray for you both and your sweet family” The next morning she replied, “We did manage to talk on the phone last night. We really appreciate your help.” Later I learned the following day he returned home.

Had a nice meeting with the Four family where we discussed some of the discord expressed by the Church of God minister we had met with who stated if I had received impression concerning the truthfulness of the gospel they had to come from Satan. To which I replied that I was in good company as that was what the Jews said about our Savior. Brother Four a former pastor himself, was surprised that a man of God would be that dismissive of another man of God. We reviewed again the introduction Joseph Smith’s statement regarding the Bible that brother Four found offensive. In fact he has not yet, after two weeks, read a single page of the Book of Mormon although he has promised profusely. The statement offending to him because of his love for the Bible: “I told the brethren that the book of Mormon was the most correct of any book on earth, and the keystone of our religion, and a man would get nearer to God by abiding by its precepts, than by any other book.” I offered several reasons why he would make such a statement including that the transformation from ancient record to modern language was shorter and simpler and perhaps led him to believe less apt to include error. When we got home I sent to Brother Four the following additional quote, this one from Joseph Fielding Smith, "The Bible has had a greater influence on the world for good than any other book ever published." But he didn’t respond.

Received request from the stake to speak at the baptism Saturday for the daughter of the WML in the Aliso Creek ward and the Two families daughter, which I accepted and is on the Holy Ghost.

Tried to shut things down with Brother Forty-two this week on Wednesday. Pointed out that he was getting so hostile I could see no point in us having further discussions so this would be our last meeting. I prayed for him as we left thinking that was the end. Then to my surprise I received a note, Elder Haddock, I need to know more thoroughly. Even different faith, you are the best! You are my friend.” And asked if we could meet again Friday at 9 a.m. he had flown out from New York for the two meetings. I sent him the quote as well from Joseph Fielding Smith as Brother Forty-two is of the opinion that all truth is contained in the Bible and it is the final authority. If anything varies from it, well that thing is wrong. “The Holy Bible has had a greater influence on the world for good than any other book ever published. It has been printed in more editions and translated into more languages and read by more people than any other book. No other publication has been more severely and critically examined. The reason for the Bible's great influence for good is because it is inspired and contains the word of the Lord delivered to his prophets, who wrote and spoke as they were moved upon by the Holy Ghost, since the world began. (Doctrines of Salvation, 3 vols., edited by Bruce R. McConkie [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1954-1956], 3: 184)

Met a couple in the neighborhood of the Nineteen family who were willing to come and meet them but the Nineteen’s were not home.

Met with the One family with whom we are becoming fast friends. I am thinking one of the sweet blessings of a senior couple is getting out among other people and developing relationships that would never have come about without such exposure. One of the choice blessing of being a senior couple.

Asked Brother Four if he wanted to come to Bible Study with us on Thursday as his wife was busy and he replied, “Good news, bad news. Good news first. I had an appt. in LA this morning and my car actually got me there. On my way back... As soon as I got on Bake Hwy going to make my right turn onto Trabuco, I got a flat tire. I drove on it until I turned onto my street. I don't have a spare. I don't have the ability to buy a used tire and I have appointments tomorrow. I have to try to get my tire situation straight while I still have daylight and at present, I don't have a viable plan as I don't have the ability to fix my situation and I am talking to God about it. I'll have to get back to you about the bible study.”

As Sister H and I were driving to appointments, with a booked afternoon and evening we decided to stop and offer some much needed cash so the situation could be remedied. I called as we approached their apartment and asked him to come down and meet me. When I told opened my wallet and pulled out the money he was overwhelmed. “I had just been praying to God asking for help as I had no way to turn. You are the help he is providing me. You are God’s answer to my prayer.” We hugged and got on our respective ways. Later he sent us this text message, “I would have never asked for your help because I know how your church feels about individual benevolence from fulltime missionaries, so I am truly grateful for your generosity. I asked God, how? Apparently, the answer was you. God bless you, my friends.” I told him I’d learned it was never wise to hold the Lord’s direction subject to rules. He replied, “You mean you looked past church bylaws and traditions and followed the prompting of the Holy Spirit? Wow, that single act showed me that you are committed to serving the people of God... sometimes in spite of church tradition. Thank you. This means so much to me. It reminds me of when Jesus fed His disciple’s with bread from the altar. Why? Because they were hungry and they needed it. Again, thank you. You are a true man of God and I am blessed to have met you both. Sorry I didn't make it tonight, but let's do your lesson Tuesday at the bible study. AMEN? AMEN!!!” He was able to purchase two tires, make his appointments the next day and all is well. The Lord did a good thing here.

At our Bible study I made a presentation on the many versions of the First Vision suggesting that when someone brings them up to say, “Yes isn’t it wonderful and each provides another nugget of truth that we would otherwise not have, all of them completing a magnificent experience. My introduction was discussing various parts of our granddaughter Mya’s huff and puff hike from which they drew conclusions then when I said it was all the same experience they were really surprised. Each portion I told them was true but together it sounded different.

Sister Four wrote to our daughter, “Your parents have indeed brought a very special light into our lives and by extension so have you and your amazing family. Spending time with you and the rest of the family brought back such tender memories of raising my own children with all the laughing, joking, irreverence and love. I believe my husband has grown to love the time he has spent with Elder and Sister Haddock not just for their ability to share the gospel but for the character they have exemplified as God's hands and hearts walking, living and praying with us on earth. What a true reward to have been raised by such goodly parents. Thank you for sharing them with us!”

One of our granddaughter shared this experience “The weirdest thing happened in seminary today. I totally disagreed with someone. Which probably happens to you a lot, but there have only been a few situations where I thought someone was saying false doctrine. And I feel bad, because the person who said it I already didn't like because he just texts during class, and he never talks to me even though we are supposed to be partners because we sit next to each other. He also has huge sideburns and wears maroon skinny jeans... anyway, I felt my judgment was a little clouded and I do not entirely understand this particular doctrine, so I wanted to ask you about it. The discussion started when we were reading in the first chapter of Doctrine and Covenants in verse 16, "every man walketh in his own way, and after the image of his own god...and whose substance is that of an idol." My seminary teacher, asked us what the difference was between doing this scripture and being independent. We started talking about getting educations and making good decisions, which are all good. I remember mom telling me about HIP, being Happy Independent Productive people, and I thought the first part of our discussion covered that nicely. We should be getting jobs and an education, working hard, and making our own choices. I raised my hand and paraphrased 2 Nephi 7:11, which reads, "Behold all ye that kindle fire, that compass yourselves about with sparks, walk in the light of your fire and in the sparks which ye have kindled. This shall ye have of my hand- ye shall lie down in sorrow." I compared that scripture to what we were talking about, how when we walk in our own paths and do things not of the Lord, we are not making the correct choices. We have to be careful when we say "independent" because we should always be reflecting Christ's light. But then this kid, the one I described, stood up and said that he disagreed. He said that he thought we should be creating our own light, and that on earth we prepare to be self-reliant so that when we go to heaven we do not have to rely on God for light. Which was really weird to me, and it felt wrong. So I wanted to ask you about light. How do you feel about light in this sense? In my patriarchal blessing, it describes being filled with light and radiating goodness. I do not know if it is possible to create light, or even helpful to think that we do not need to rely on the Lord. Even the word "independent" in this sense seems wrong because we are so dependent on the Lord. It was just a super weird conversation.”

I replied, “You are absolutely right. He is dead wrong. We are and always will be dependent upon God for our light which is another word for glory. It is only because of him that we receive any light at all. He is the source we receive from him. Our doing good allows us to receive of his light. We don't create light. We are the candlestick, God and Christ are the light. We carry the light, are infused with the light, but we are not the light. If you want to visit further about this I would be happy to. It’s that sort of independent thinking that gently leads us to "I don't need God I can do it myself" which is never true nor ever will be true. Love Grandpa”

At our meeting today with Six family, Sister Six made a wonderful presentation on the scriptures I had left her to overcome her guilt and anguish over the actions of others. (Ether 12:34-37; Alma 8:14-15; D&C 123:17; 17:12-13) When I came in she said, “Well this lesson is going to be easy for you. I did all the work” and that she did. Later she sent us this sweet note “Just wanted to say that I cannot remember when you two were not a part of our lives - it seems like we've always known you both. You are both such gifts to us.” We enjoyed Labor Day celebration with them and some friends of theirs Turns out their friend’s dentist of 30 years was LDS and just retired, moved back to Utah and is waiting for a mission call with his wife.

Prepared some family history for Brother Four who wrote, “I didn't truly appreciate the enormity of the information you gathered until I read it all. I am overwhelmed with gratitude for this work. It actually looks like I may be able to track my family's foot print at least to slavery in this country. Is that possible? Is it possible to go even further back to my roots in Africa?”

One of our grandsons was dealing with confidence something I guess about all of us have to deal with, often repeatedly, as it seems one of the chinks the Adversary takes the most advantage of. Sent the following poem I had shared with his dad when he earlier faced the same issues.

The Race
attributed to Dr. D.H. "Dee" Groberg

Whenever I start to hang my head in front of failure’s face,
    my downward fall is broken by the memory of a race.
A children’s race, young boys, young men; how I remember well,
    excitement sure, but also fear, it wasn’t hard to tell.
They all lined up so full of hope, each thought to win that race
    or tie for first, or if not that, at least take second place.
Their parents watched from off the side, each cheering for their son,
    and each boy hoped to show his folks that he would be the one.

The whistle blew and off they flew, like chariots of fire,
    to win, to be the hero there, was each young boy’s desire.
One boy in particular, whose dad was in the crowd,
    was running in the lead and thought “My dad will be so proud.”
But as he speeded down the field and crossed a shallow dip,
    the little boy who thought he’d win, lost his step and slipped.
Trying hard to catch himself, his arms flew everyplace,
    and midst the laughter of the crowd he fell flat on his face.
As he fell, his hope fell too; he couldn’t win it now.
    Humiliated, he just wished to disappear somehow.

But as he fell his dad stood up and showed his anxious face,
    which to the boy so clearly said, “Get up and win that race!”
He quickly rose, no damage done, behind a bit that’s all,
    and ran with all his mind and might to make up for his fall.
So anxious to restore himself, to catch up and to win,
    his mind went faster than his legs. He slipped and fell again.
He wished that he had quit before with only one disgrace.
    “I’m hopeless as a runner now, I shouldn’t try to race.”

But through the laughing crowd he searched and found his father’s face
    with a steady look that said again, “Get up and win that race!”
So he jumped up to try again, ten yards behind the last.
    “If I’m to gain those yards,” he thought, “I’ve got to run real fast!”
Exceeding everything he had, he regained eight, then ten...
    but trying hard to catch the lead, he slipped and fell again.
Defeat! He lay there silently. A tear dropped from his eye.
    “There’s no sense running anymore! Three strikes I’m out! Why try?
I’ve lost, so what’s the use?” he thought. “I’ll live with my disgrace.”
    But then he thought about his dad, who soon he’d have to face.

“Get up,” an echo sounded low, “you haven’t lost at all,
    for all you have to do to win is rise each time you fall.
Get up!” the echo urged him on, “Get up and take your place!
    You were not meant for failure here! Get up and win that race!”
So, up he rose to run once more, refusing to forfeit,
    and he resolved that win or lose, at least he wouldn’t quit.
So far behind the others now, the most he’d ever been,
    still he gave it all he had and ran like he could win.
Three times he’d fallen stumbling, three times he rose again.
    Too far behind to hope to win, he still ran to the end.

They cheered another boy who crossed the line and won first place,
    head high and proud and happy -- no falling, no disgrace.
But, when the fallen youngster crossed the line, in last place,
    the crowd gave him a greater cheer for finishing the race.
And even though he came in last with head bowed low, unproud,
    you would have thought he’d won the race, to listen to the crowd.
And to his dad he sadly said, “I didn’t do so well.”
    “To me, you won,” his father said. “You rose each time you fell.”

And now when things seem dark and bleak and difficult to face,
    the memory of that little boy helps me in my own race.
For all of life is like that race, with ups and downs and all.
    And all you have to do to win is rise each time you fall.
And when depression and despair shout loudly in my face,
    another voice within me says, “Get up and win that race!"

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