Monday, October 27, 2014

Week Sixty-nine

WEEK SIXTY-NINE October 27, 2014

We have been trying for some time to set up an appointment with the Sixty-eight Family. Following my talk last Sunday, Brother Sixty-eight came up to Sister Haddock, excited about getting together and promised to make such time concessions as necessary to make sure it worked out. The next day sister Sixty-eight called indicating two pregnant daughters would be there as well for out meeting next week. Sister Haddock told her we would pray to be directed by the Lord in our message and she promised the same.

We met again this week with the Four family. I had a prompting earlier in the day to use for our discussion Mormonism 101, the Harvard law school address given by Elder Holland in 2012. In our discussion preceding Brother Four had brought up concerns that directly led to the talk so it was easy to shift into it. Later as we were leaving I suggested sometime we review two other addresses by Elder Holland, both general conference talks, he said “Let’s tackle the first one next week.” We took turns reading paragraphs with his wife, Thomas and myself. Sister Haddock didn’t have her glasses. Every time his turn to read came up it was a subject he either had a concern, sought clarification on, or a foundation principle of the restoration. Everything was so on topic it was clear the discussion was being led by other forces than ourselves. I told Sister Haddock as we left that it was one of the best discussions ever. Seems like only a handful of such occur during a mission. I was on fire as we left and kept resetting the scene over and over in my mind. The nature of the godhead, need for priesthood authority, and the experience of Joseph Smith in the sacred grove all were highlighted. He would give his view and then me giving ours with him uttering again and again, “Oh, I see.”

Brother Four also told us that a pastor once told him, “I can teach you how to speak in tongues.” He said it came in repeating again and again the following words, “Momma got a Chevrolet. Papa got a Honda.”

We visited with Sister Two this week with her husband out of town on work assignment. She is excited about getting back to the temple, has exchanged her clothing for items that fit better, and has finished a lot of family history to generate additional names. Unfortunately they did not get to see the movie, “Meet the Mormons,” which would have been good for them But we did had five of our investigators see the movie and each enjoyed it immensely.

We also visited with the Sixty-two family for a lively discussion. They were so happy to see us. Gave them a box of BelVita crackers which overwhelmed them causing them to want to do something for us. They reciprocated against our protests by giving us some cookies she had made saying, “These won’t taste as good as what you brought us.” We assured them we needed nothing in return, it was a gift.

Also visited with the One Family, first leaving a card on their door but then running into them as we were out and about. The husband had some questions regarding finances and wanted to go to dinner with us to discuss. So we met a couple of hours later at Coco’s restaurant. We followed them after dinner to their house where we had cherry pie and ice cream. We made another presentation on family history using the relative finder with BYU to show connections with their family and other historical figures which they immensely enjoyed.

The week previous we had a little experience in leaving the One family that I forgot to include. Their home teacher called while we were there to come over for a visit. We both left about the same time. I thought they went a different direction as I didn’t see them behind me. As we pulled up to the signal to turn right on Jeronimo there was a truck in front of us with his right turn blinkers on. Of a sudden he put his car into reverse, the backup lights nearly blinding us, as if he was going to ram us. I looked in my rearview mirror and a car had just pulled up behind me so I couldn’t move. The mad man jumped out of his truck screaming obscenities, mostly starting with the F-word about how stupid I was. Then he jumped back in his truck and made a U-turn, rolled down his window and continued to scream at me. I turned right and went on my way wondering what his problem was. Later we learned from the home teacher, who had indeed pulled in behind us, that the missionaries were walking to the corner behind the fellows truck and the home teachers offered them a lift. The mad man then made another U-turn and pulled up beside the home teachers still screaming obscenities frightening the home teacher’s wife who was with him. Turns out he wanted to talk to the missionaries and he had seen them coming up the street hence his stopping and waiting in the right turn lane. The F-words continued and then he calmed down and exchanged a number with the missionaries. Hope they are safe when they meet with him.

Another investigator, I’ve forgotten which shared this story. Three churchmen were discussing how they shared the funds contributed at church with the Lord. The protestant minister said he straddled a line and threw the cash in the air, whatever landed on the right side went to the Lord and he kept the rest. The Catholic priest said he did pretty much the same thing, but drew a circle and whatever stayed in the circle was the Lord’s and the rest was his. The rabbi said he too threw the cash in the air allowing God to take whatever he wanted and the rest that fell to the ground he kept.

We sent a request to the Zone Leaders to make sure we were on the list for the meeting with the stake president in Coto de Caza which is a gated community. They keep forgetting to keep us in the loop and we have difficulty in getting through the gate. We were glad we sent the reminder for we learned the meeting had been postponed a week. Which we would have only discovered in an hour plus drive.

Received a request from the stake president about the reaction of members to the new ward alignments. I responded that “We had spoken to 20-30 families. One was ambivalent but all the rest were very enthusiastic with both the change and those in the "lower 40" with being assigned to the Trabuco chapel. Ward council in the Aliso Creek Ward had only 2 carryovers from the "former" Aliso Creek Ward and everyone was excited and ready to pitch in. Leaders told the priesthood there was no longer enough people to have some sit on the sidelines and committed everyone to pitch in at all events including social ones. Those not in the supposed "in" group have been greatly energized. To a person, everyone in the Aliso Creek Ward felt the new bishop was the one who was going to be called, so the spirit had already prepared the way, leading to a smooth transition. We came across an elderly family that needed attention, notified their bishop and the next night he had his HPGL there attending to their needs. We saw the family again the following day and they were so pleased.”

We toured the Rodger’s Nursery grounds and displays with the Six and Thirty families then had dinner and a discussion with both families.

We were running some errands before leaving at 1 p.m. to meet with the Twenty-one family in the San Diego Temple. We called to touch base with them and learned the sealing was to start at 1 p.m. So we had to hustle back home, get showered, dressed and back in the car. We arrived just before noon as the family was driving into the same parking lot. The company consisted of brother and sister Twenty-One and Sister H and I. The sealer then drafted a couple who was in the Celestial room so we would have a second witness. The sealer asked, “Why are these two missionaries here?” Noticing that we were sitting where the father and mother normally sit. Brenden answered, “Because we wouldn’t be here right now if it weren’t for them. They are our spiritual father and mother and we are so grateful they are here with us today.” Several stopped us in the temple and noticing our name tags, offered wonderful confirmation of the value of senior couples as missionaries. One of the presidency came by, “Okay you two, being here there must be a special reason.” I shared with him our experience with this wonderful family culminating today in their sealing and that of their children. The two girls were precious and so well behaved. Following the session we went outside and took pictures. I selected three of the schedules for the temple which have some beautiful pictures for their scrapbooks.

We visited on our return with some dear friends from our Encinitas days who are battling cancer. We decided our son’s comment that if we live long enough we all will deal with cancer.

Sunday with both blocks and ancillary meetings and then discussions ran up a 13 hour uninterrupted day. Making p-day on Monday a welcome relief.

A speaker in one of the wards shared the theme about choosing to be happy. One of my favorite themes. He centered it along the thought that instead of getting angry we should choose to laugh instead. Good idea. Told of being tailgated at 70 mph on the freeway when a fellow behind him got agitated and began flashing his lights and blowing his horn. He said there was nowhere for him to go he was blocked in and the car in front was going no faster. Of a sudden a truck beside him lost a ladder which slid in his lane giving him just enough time to swerve into the center divider and avoid it. Of course the tailgating car behind had no such time and plowed into it jamming his car into the center divider and following the head on crash drifting perpendicular to freeway traffic. The freeway curved and the speaker was not able to see in his view mirror what happened but, said he, “I bet he wished he had laughed rather than getting upset with me being in front of him.”

He then told of his prowess in influencing others as a youth. “For some reason I was influential on others. I had a buddy who wanted to prove he could out do me. It being St. Patrick’s Day we decided on a stratagem. Since I wasn’t wearing any green he would try to convince someone to pinch me and I would try to convince them not to. If he could get someone to pinch me he won. Well we went throughout the day to the last class and I hadn’t been pinched. He talked with a girl I hardly knew and convinced her to pinch me. Well I could see in talking to her I was not going to be able to convince her otherwise. I thought and thought and finally blurted out, “I know what you did and I’m going to tell everyone.” She overcome with guilt bolted out the door. I knew nothing about her to tell. She would have been better off just laughing than disclosing her guilt.”

“Sometimes we need to choose to laugh when those don’t work as they should. My best friend’s father was our Deacons quorum advisor. He was working on his car as my friend and I rounded the driveway. Something didn’t work as it should and I heard a stream of words I had never heard before. He was so apologetic. If must have bothered him all week because next Sunday he apologized to the whole quorum. Bet he wished he would have laugher.”

Finally he told of weighing his new born daughter by getting on the scale and then taking her in his arms and weighing again to extrapolate her weight. Well undressed she let go “it came out of everything thing it could come out of. I was covered. I didn’t laugh. I thought this must be one of those times we are exempt from laughing.”

At the ward council and missionary correlation meetings we began inviting others to take over some of the shepherding for our little flock we have loved and served these past 16 months. Told each we want to make sure that no one falls through the cracks. We received wonderful responses and detailed game plans to makes sure that doesn’t happen which greatly pleased us.

Brother Two texted me “Sacrament hour was encouraging here. A brother here gave a truly heart felt talk modeled after Thomas Monson’s Bismarck talk. The brother was very uncomfortable at the pulpit but the spirit was not. Nice small ward up here.” We were so glad to learn he had found and attended to his duties so far from home.

We met with Six family later in the week. Sister Sixty-five was feeling ill and was resting. But we had a great discussion with the Six family. Concerning the reason why priesthood authority is necessary, Brother Six said simply, “Because God has so spoken.”

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Week Sixty-eight

WEEK SIXTY-EIGHT October 20, 2014

Had a discussion on chapter 7 of Brother Four’s book and discussed opportunities for volunteer work as he gets started in his new profession. I shared with him my idea of the puzzle of life and he asked if I could send him what I had written on the subject, which I agreed to do. As we were leaving Brother Four remarked, “You bring such a special spirit with that that remains in our home long after you leave. We are so appreciative of our little Bible studies together.”

Gerald R. Haddock

It has been my experience that those who rebel against God suffer from creaking of the will, stiffening of the ego and hardening of the attitude. The remedy is and always has been, forget about yourself and serve God and others.

It appears to me that our mortal journey is in reality a puzzle. Viewing our mortal journey as a puzzle gives a method to increase understanding and a strength to overcome discouragement.

There are no straight edges in the puzzle of life, nor any corners to start putting our puzzle together. Everything at first appears random. Rather than working from the edges and corners as we do with most puzzles, this puzzle is worked from the center out. The center piece, the one we must find in mortality and through which all other connections in our puzzle are made, is Jesus Christ.

As in Paul’s illustration our desire must exert a willingness to see through a glass darkly. One piece is not enough, we can’t rest on our laurels. Our search is to find and fit each piece of our puzzle precisely, there can be no forcing of the pieces. It also appears that each puzzle is individually tailored by God to meet our personal needs.

It is only later, as we pass through the veil that we learn from the experiences of our life how they all fit together; which in turn blends mortality and eternity. The puzzle that is our life extends beyond mortal boundaries. Since mortality is but a slice of our eternal life, our puzzle here has no corners or edges.

The experiences of our life enable us to make connections between the pieces if, but only if we first center our life in Christ. Willingly surrendering ourselves to Christ allows us to connect with Him and gives us the central and biggest piece for our puzzle. It is through the multiple facets of that piece, Christ, that we are enabled to see and give order in our assembly of the puzzle.

The more pieces of our puzzle we have assembled, the easier it is to handle the things of this life. Some pieces when they are discovered have no connection to anything we have previously assembled and must be set aside until connections can be made at a later time. Otherwise, worrying about that piece perplexes us and can destroy our entire puzzle. There is a Law of Pre-Requisites.

We are still to be alert to the experiences of our lives and seek to make connections—that is what we can and must do. However, with the companionship of the Holy Ghost our ability to see and recognize connections increases as does our facility to assemble. You see, we’ve seen our puzzle assembled before and now through experience and faith we learn how to put it together as we fulfill our personal plan of salvation.

It appears that obedience to God’s will is a sort of spiritual emancipation in assembling our puzzle. Obedience itself, makes us free. Central to that freedom is the hope that disposes despair. As Satan’s object is to destroy all hope, obedience is the cure. In choosing the right way, i.e., being obedient, we are doing things that lead us closer to Christ. Anything other than Christ entices disobedience and loss of hope. Whereas not having edges or corners the puzzle of mortality can seem hopeless. However, centering our lives in the piece that is Christ, establishes a hope not requiring either edges or corners.

Viewing our mortal journey as a puzzle requiring us to be centered in Christ has fostered these additional thoughts:

1.               Our God is more intimately involved in our lives that we are prone to see.
2.               Our inability to see this intimacy in mortality is a causal factor in frustration, discouragement and eventually despair.
3.               It is God’s will that we take the time to observe and notice this intimacy–make the necessary connections among the events of our life–as doing so is crucial to our spiritual well-being, our prospering.
4.               It is necessary that we stop, look and listen to the events of our life in the context of the great plan of happiness, if we are to make necessary connections.
5.               In so doing, we will see the coincidences of our lives for what they are—expressions of our God’s love and evidence of His arms being extended toward us continually.
6.               In so seeing, our hope is increased as well as our ability to withstand faithfully the trials of mortality.

Brother Four replied, “That's pretty deep. I had to read it a couple of times and I think I have got it. In my puzzle scenario, there are pieces that are missing from the puzzle and even with the pieces that are there, often they are not in the right place after having been forced into a place that's similar, but not the same. Then there are pieces looking at other pieces and wishing they were another piece instead of seeing how they fit in just as they are, to help make the puzzle whole. When we allow the Holy Spirit to put us in position, we find that while we may not be the piece we want to be, we are needed too, and we all make a difference just as we are.”

At a previous Zone Training the sisters doing the training prepared sheets of construction paper with the name of a missionary in the zone at the top and folded accordion style at about one inch intervals. The task was to write in one of the accordion folds your positive thoughts about that missionary. It was only this week that those reflecting Elder and Sister Haddock were given to us. I notice that Jan’s principally dealt with her kindness and goodness while mine with being old and having been around the block a few times. But all in all they do show the contribution a Senior couple can bring to a group of young missionaries. Of Jan they wrote:

·       You are so great! You are such a great example to everyone in the Zone! You do so much for us!
·       You are an amazing companion for Elder Haddock! J We feel the love that you bring.
·       I love how happy you are! You are always positive!
·       Sister Haddock, you bring an “at home” kind of spirit to our zone meeting.
·       Sister Haddock you are so amazing and so inspirational. You are so strong and beautiful. Thank you for being such an example to me and all the missionaries. Keep it up.
·       Sister Haddock, I can really feel the spirit strong with you and Elder Haddock coming to our zone meeting. You are inspirational!
·       Sister Haddock, you are great. I love your sense of humor. The stories you tell are great. I really enjoy to hear about all the work you do! Keep calm, Baptize on!
·       I loved your presentation on having good table manners and have taken it to heart.
·       Sister Haddock you are a great missionary and know the gospel; and its great to be able to serve with you.
·       You care so much about what goes on in the lives of your investigators and those members you work with. I love hearing about what you teach to help the people you teach gain greater faith.
·       You know your faith and know your God and love serving Him. You’ve helped me with that love and example and I hope you know that.
·       You are amazing at being a diligent missionary. You truly try your best in tis work and are a huge example for us missionaries.
·       Such an amazing example. Powerful, yet humbler, and a great person to talk to.
·       Thanks for serving in our Zone! We know you and your husband do a lot of great work. Thanks for your service!
·       Utah all the way! You and your husband are super awesome! We love you guys!
·       Oh my gosh! We just love you so much! You are so sweet and you always have a smile on your face! It is easy to be happy around you!
·       I love to see you both at our zone meetings. Your mere presence brings a phenomenal spirit into the room. Thank you for your service and sweet smile.
·       Thank you for your kindness and sweet spirit! We love and appreciate you!
·       You are the sweetest person ever! Your spirit is so STRONG! You are so kind and you are always helping others.
·       Best companion ever.
·       Thanks for serving a mission. You’re doing great things here, and we really need you. You’re awesome.
·       I love how you are concerned about others and willing to go the extra mile for others.
·       Clearly the better half! J

Of me they wrote:

·       Cares and seeks to help with every individual’s concerns.
·       Your comments bring wisdom and maturity to our group of young missionaries just recognizing who we really are.
·       You are like a fountain of wisdom and knowledge.
·       You are such a good example of a Christ-like leader. You are full of wisdom and all of your comments are enlightening and inspiring.
·       Great man of God! That shows kindness towards all men. Thank you for serving with us!
·       You are a great example to all of us! I really hope to serve a senior mission as well. Thank you for doing so much for all of us!
·       Elder, you are inspiring and full of wisdom. I always learn so much from you.
·       Elder, you are so wonderful and so smart. Thank you for sharing an inspiring us. You are spiritually strong.
·       Elder Haddock, I appreciate your testimony and the wisdom you always have to share! You are an inspiration!
·       Elder Haddock you are so kind. I love all of your stories. You are always a pleasure to speak with. Keep up the hard work with your families. You are about a great work.
·       I’ve learned a lot from your comments at Zone Training. Thanks for strengthening my testimony!
·       You are so knowledgeable and it’s great to be able to turn to you for advice.
·       You know your doctrine and I love being able to hear your insights and to feel of the spirit you bring. You help me so much and make me want to have better studies so that I can know as much as you.
·       Elder Haddock, you are the most humble smart person I’ve ever met. You know so much but more importantly you know how important the Lord is in your life.
·       Elder Haddock you are a true genius! You have a lot of knowledge about the gospel and how we can be uplifted by Christ. Thank you for your great example.
·       An excellent, informative, interesting and rock solid teacher. Always smiling, always happy!
·       Thank you for your service in our Zone! We really appreciate the wisdom and maturity you bring to our mission.
·       Thank you for being so chill and awesome. We love you!
·       Thanks for coming on a mission. We need you here!

Further to my blog of last week in response to the bishop’s question about following the brethren I was reminded of this incident and shared with him. During the last few months of my mission as a young elder, I was living in and working out of the Mission Home. My companion and I had been teaching a single sister. We had finished the six discussions and although she was in harmony with all we taught she was unable or unwilling to commit to baptism.

So I spent some time pondering and praying and eventually constructed a seventh discussion tailored specifically for her. About the time I finished putting it together, Elder LeGrand Richards came to Washington D.C. as a conference visitor and in one of those tender mercies, chose to stay at the Mission Home instead of with his daughter and her family.

Taking advantage of the opportunity one evening following dinner I shared our experience with the investigator and that I had put together an additional discussion to present to her the following evening. I was seeking his counsel, hoping he would read through the discussion and offer me some pointers.

To my surprise, rather than doing that he offered to be my companion for the discussion and expressed no need to review my prepared discussion, having confidence in what I had done. He said, “Now Elder Haddock, you realize I will be the junior companion. It will be your responsibility to give the discussion. If I feel prompted to say something I will, but only in that event.” He then asked if I could arrange something for my companion to be doing so we could go together. I assured him that I would take care of that.

The next evening we went to the discussion. I, as I had been asked, only introduced him as Elder Richards and made no reference to him being an Apostle. Remember in my day no one wore name tags.

I gave the entire discussion I had prepared with nary a word from Elder Richards, concluding with my sure and certain testimony borne of the Spirit and experience and felt the ratifying power of the Holy Ghost as I had seen it operate many times before.

It was at this time that Elder LeGrand Richards, Of the Quorum of the Twelve chose to speak. I then witnessed a marvelous physical manifestation of the spirit that transcended anything I had ever seen during the bearing of a testimony. His words were no more eloquent than mine, nor more powerful. Yet the floor seemed to ripple in waves, the walls shuddered and the drapery moved as if a huge wind had entered the room.

Our investigator bolted straight out of her chair requesting baptism and within a couple of days we accommodated her.

Now, dear Bishop here are the two principles I learned that day. First, being a “special witness of Christ” is something far greater than knowing Jesus is the Christ. Second, the Lord sustains His special witnesses in a miraculous fashion. Not because they know more than we know, or even because their witness is more certain than ours can be, but because they have been anointed to be “a special witness.” Simple stated, the Lord sustains the Brethren, regardless of their humanity, and it is imperative that we do as well.

We visited with the Sixty-two family this week noticed some needs and tried to attend to them. Notified the bishop who the very next night had his high priest group leader in their home assisting them. It sure is great to see the Church in action doing the right things, the right way. We were so pleased. In fact the bishop thanked us for the communication saying: “the Altisima ward family has been engaged and will do what needs to be done. Thanks again.”

The next day we met with Sixty-two family again today to take them grocery shopping as neither of them can drive. It only took about an hour and one-half and it felt oh so right to be giving them this service. Had dinner with the One family who cooked us spaghetti. Had a good discussion and resolved some things that had been disturbing him.

The following day we took the Sixty-two family to view “Meet the Mormons.” They were both overjoyed and quite touched. In all five of our investigators were able to see the film and each enjoyed it immensely.

Saturday was a special day for us. Escorted the Twenty-one as they received their endowments at the Newport Beach Temple. They were so excited and prepared. Felt fully in charge and aware of what was happening about them. Spent considerable time with them in the Celestial room following the session. They had nary a question. Sister Twenty-one was in awe of just being there, something she had never supposed would happen in her life. Next week to the San Diego Temple for their sealing and that of their children. I will be blessed to be a witness for this eternal ordinance.

Sunday I spoke in the Aliso Creek ward. It was one of those special talks, the type you always hope for and dearly cherish. When it’s as if angels are speaking and you are just the conduit. One brother sent me a note which read, “Well done dear Brother! You always speak to my heart. What a blessing it has been to have you with us and to have you in our home! I will always remember your sweet spirit and matchless testimony. You have been a blessing in my life I would have missed had I not returned to the True Church of Jesus Christ! Warmest regards.”

Always when I am speaking the Lord has been kind enough to give me something specific to that congregation. Usually as I set on the stand the spirit whispers how I am to begin my talk. In this talk I found myself reflecting on our recent return to Provo for our grandson’s baptism. There with family and all it should have felt like home. But as Sister Haddock and I drove from John Wayne Airport to our little apartment I had the feeling we were home. This was the first sacrament meeting for this ward which was just created. I told them I suspect the reason we felt home was because we had been in the homes of many of you in this ward, the Altisima Ward and the Lake Forest Ward and arising out of our service have been filled with love. I promised them as they opened their hearts in service to one another their hearts would be filled with love. I then felt to speak to the single sisters who responded by cornering me after the meeting so appreciative for what was said. I told them I had learned the Lord has a special place in his heart for single sisters, particularly those who carry a huge load in behalf of others. I shared how a single sister I knew found herself with her car breaking down and needing a new vehicle. She prayed for a specific make and model and mileage and the next evening a fellow she knew called saying he and his wife were getting a new car and felt they should offer her their old one rather than trading it in. It was the make and model and mileage she requested. I told them that single sisters always have the ear of the Lord and then shared this story of President Harold B. Lee

“My Aunt Jeanette McMurrin told me this interesting story. She was widowed and living with her daughter. One morning her daughter came to her and said, “Mother, we don’t have anything to eat in the house. My husband, as you know, has been out of work. I am sorry, Mother.”

“Aunt Jeanette said that she dressed and worked around the house, then closed her door, knelt down, and said, “Heavenly Father, I have tried all my life to keep the commandments; I have paid my tithing; I have given service to the Church. We have no food in our house today. Father, touch the heart of somebody so we won’t have to go hungry.” She said she went about with a feeling of gladness, thinking all would be right.

“There came a knock at the door in a few hours, and there was a little neighbor girl with food in her arms. Choking back the tears, the widow brought the child into the kitchen and said, “Set them here, and tell your mother that this came today as an answer to our prayers. We didn’t have any food in our house.”

“Needless to say, the little girl went back and carried that message, and in a little while she returned with still a larger armload. As she brought the bags to the kitchen table, she asked, “Did I come this time as an answer to your prayers?”

“My Aunt Jeanette replied, ‘No, my darling, this time you came as a fulfillment of a promise. Fifty years ago when your grandmother was expecting a little child, she didn’t have anything to eat and she was lacking in strength and nourishment. I was the little girl who carried food into her house so that she would have the strength to bring her little baby—your mother—into the world.’ Then she said, ‘The Lord said, ‘Cast your bread upon the waters, and after many days it shall return again.’ This time you have been carrying back to me the foodstuff that I carried into the home of your grandmother so your mother could be born into the world.’” [Ensign, Feb 1972]

I told them I wanted to speak to those who, on occasion or more frequently, feel to express the Prophet Joseph Smith’s heartfelt plea—

D&C 121:1
O God, where art thou? And where is the pavilion that covereth thy hiding place?

When it seems as if the heavens are brass, when our prayers seem to be left unanswered, and we are near despair

In August 1831 the Prophet wrote of the nightmare in Missouri—“I cannot learn from any communication by the spirit to me. I am ignorant of the reasons for our plight and the Lord will not show me. My prayers go up to God day and night.” But silence met his anguished appeals


Let me offer four suggestions how to proceed when the heavens seem as if they are brass, for some this may be your Abrahamic test—

1.               Believe that God is there. Believe that He has heard your prayer. Believe that he can and will answer your prayer. Believe in His omniscience. Believe He will succor you. Believe in all His promises. Believe regardless of circumstance.

2.               Trust your Heavenly Father. Trust that He will answer your prayer in the best way possible. Trust that He knows what and when to act. Trust His love for you as His son or daughter. Trust Him enough to allow Him to take your worries. Trust that all your afflictions will be consecrated by Him for your gain. Trust regardless of consequence.

3.               Choose to joy in other’s success. Recognize the hand of God in answering prayers of others. Let you heart be filled with gratitude for others’ success. Allow God to disseminate His blessings as He sees fit. Express Gratitude for All He does. Rejoice in all such manifestations of His love. Love God and all mankind regardless of consequence.

4.               Get off your knees and onto your feet. Make a new bow. Do what you alone can do. Do what you are able to do. Exercise the limited talents you may have. Never, never surrender your hope regardless of consequence.

Elder Richard G. Scott has taught: “What do you do when you have prepared carefully, have prayed fervently, waited a reasonable time for a response, and still do not feel an answer? You may want to express thanks when that occurs, for it is an evidence of [Heavenly Father’s] trust. When you are living worthily and your choice is consistent with the Savior’s teachings and you need to act, proceed with trust. As you are sensitive to the promptings of the Spirit, one of two things will certainly occur at the appropriate time: either the stupor of thought will come, indicating an improper choice, or the peace or the burning in the bosom will be felt, confirming that your choice was correct. When you are living righteously and are acting with trust, God will not let you proceed too far without a warning impression if you have made the wrong decision.” (Elder Richard G. Scott of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, “Using the Supernal Gift of Prayer,” Ensign, May 2007, 10.)

I shared this story. A young nine-year old boy in our ward, a best friend of our son, was seriously injured when struck by a car while riding his bicycle. The injuries resulted in a coma for the boy. Several months later at the request of the distraught mother she came to me and said, “Bishop, can we seek a miracle at the hand of the Lord to restore my sons health.” We agreed to do so and requested a 48 hour fast among ward members. The bishopric fasted for 72 hours in preparation for the blessing. We left for the rehabilitative center feeling, each of us, that the Lord was going to grant our petition and we were going to see the boy arise from his bed and return home. Following the anointing by one of my counselors I proceeded to be the voice in pronouncing the blessing but after speaking the formalities of a blessing immediately my tongue was tied and I could not utter a word. We removed our hands from the boys head and went outside into a small grove of Torrey Pines and prayed as a bishopric. As voice I poured out our hearts to the Lord; rehearsing all that had been done for this occasion, the faith of the ward members, the family, and the bishopric; reminded the Lord of a prior experience raising another from a coma; highlighted the righteousness of our request and effort in doing good, etc. Feeling some comfort we returned to the boy’s bedside were I again attempted to bless this young boy. But again I became tongue tied and unable to speak. We adjourned to the Torrey Pines but this time our approach with the Lord was different becoming a “Father, what would thou have us do” pleading expressing a willingness to do His will. The answer came. We were to return and speak the words that the Lord would put into my heart. So we returned to the bedside. The words then uttered stated the boy would live for several years but remain in his comatose state; eventually he would pass peacefully to the other side; further there were things his mother was to learn and do. We left the center and drove straight to the mother’s home. As the words had so recently been spoken I was able to repeat them verbatim to the distraught mother who burst into tears. As she calmed down she expressed that she knew exactly what the Lord meant about things she had to learn and do and was prepared to make those adjustments in her life that she would be worthy of having her boy once again.

Asked them to consider this promise of the Lord when your prayers seem not be answered


1 Thus saith the Lord your God, even Jesus Christ, the Great I Am, Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, the same which looked upon the wide expanse of eternity, and all the seraphic hosts of heaven, before the world was made;

 2 The same which knoweth all things, for all things are present before mine eyes;

 3 I am the same which spake, and the world was made, and all things came by me…

7 … verily, verily, I say unto you that mine eyes are upon you. I am in your midst and ye cannot see me;

 8 But the day soon cometh that ye shall see me, and know that I am …

 9 Wherefore, gird up your loins and be prepared. Behold, the kingdom is yours, and the enemy shall not overcome…

 15 Therefore, be ye strong from henceforth; fear not, for the kingdom is yours…

 16 … for I have heard your prayers.

Brother Forty-four wrote, “Hi Elder and Sister Haddock! My wife and my dad said that you gave a talk in church today. I had to work, and I was wondering if you could email it to me, I would love to read it. They said it was really powerful.”

Following the meeting Brother Sixty-seven came up and asked to speak with me following the services that day. He shared that for 2-3 weeks now he had the impression I was to give him a blessing which he kept dismissing. Said during the talk he was convicted of not acting on the promptings he had received. “This is a hard thing to do. I don’t’ think it matters who gives a blessing. So this makes no sense to me and I don’t know what the blessing is for or is to be about.” We set an appointment for the next evening.

During our walk Monday morning we received a call from one of our senior couples who informed us his wife had tripped on a crack in the sidewalk in their walk earlier when it was dark and hurt her shoulder. He was hopeful we could return from our walk and assist in giving her a blessing which we did. Later learned she had dislocated her shoulder socket and fractured the shoulder joint. We walk the same walk!

In a discussion with our son he wanted to talk about the coma experience I had shared. I had written an account which I sent to him and then being prompted to make some changes resent it again later. Said he, “I have called you before to inquire about certain stories. I know that there are many who allow things to slide, but I just want to make sure that I've got things right. All the facts that is. I feel that the very best opportunity for the spirit to be present is going to be with truth and light. Sometimes, however, it isn't always easy. Sometimes we remember things a little differently from the way it actually happened. In fact, sometimes the spirit witnesses something to me while an event is occurring and then years later I will somehow incorporate the extra insight that the Lord gave me as part of the story when that isn't exactly the way that it occurred. It is just that the spiritual impression can become so powerful in my mind, that it in and of itself becomes part of the actual story.” I told him this was my thought. Often the experience evokes a reality born of the spirit that, although initiated by the experience may differ from the experience itself, yet becomes both the experience and the reality as the two become one in us. When this occurs in reading the scriptures it is as if we are reading between the lines

Before driving over to participate in the blessing the next night, I visited with the Lord. I expressed that this brother has had strong feelings about me giving him a blessing for some time now, although he doesn’t know what the blessing is for, and I have had no such feelings; further that I whether this direction was coming from the Lord but I would leave and go and if a course correction was required I would obey accordingly and not give him a blessing. I indicated my desire to act only in accordance with God’s will and a willingness to do whatever he directed, including laying my hands on his head as Nephi wrote not knowing beforehand the things that I should say.

Following a sweet prayer by Sister Sixty-seven, I then laid my hands upon this dear brother. The blessing was very specific and covered a wide range of topics. A special feeling transcended all the words conveying the love Heavenly Father had for him. I suppose I would characterize the blessing as one of acceptance, love and hope from Heavenly Father to His son. His wife, who had come and sat beside him so she could hear, commented, “Now I know why Elder Haddock was to give the blessing.” However as for me, “Why was I to give the blessing?” “Why not someone else?” I have no idea. There are so many to choose from in this ward. Our lives had randomly intersected for a few weeks outside of church and perhaps that was taken by him as a sign. Maybe something in the talk affected him in a way he saw it as a sign to him. Just maybe it was the Lord’s will, although never communicated to me and  for whatever reason the Lord may have had, and if so I am so happy to have been invited to participate. For us it was a sweet experience mindful of the blessings associated with doing the Lord’s will rather than one’s own and that’s good enough for me. I always feel blessed to be used by the Lord.

Week Sixty-seven

WEEK SIXTY-SEVEN October 13, 2014

We had a sweet visit with the Four family this week. Her new job is promising and exciting and both our in school, she to complete her degree and he to obtain a special certification at University of California Irvine. They continue to express their great appreciation for our visits each week.

We also met with the Twenty-one family this week and completed the last temple preparation sequence with them. They are both well-prepared, excited, and willing. He has been called to the YM presidency and she is teaching Primary. “Our whole lives have changed,” said the wife, “This is wonderful.”

We missed the first Sunday of the new Aliso Creek Ward following the ward alignment and split the week before general conference. Everyone we have talked to is excited about the change, the nearness of the new chapel assignment, and their new bishop.

I remember when Nike was branded. We didn’t know how to pronounce the word, was it Nīk or Nigh-key. They then came up with the eponymous swoosh logo. So why am I thinking about that. Let me tell you. One of our dear friends now serving as a bishop shared that during conference weekend he took his twelve year old son to the general session of Priesthood. In one of those sweet tender mercies the Lord so willing shares with those alert and listening, the young man told his father of the "woosh" that he felt as the President Monson entered the room. I too have felt that “woosh” confirming not only the Lord’s anointed, but the will of the Lord. The father truthfully averred, “The Lord is always gentle and kind to ensure that his children receive opportunities to have the confirming witnesses of the Spirit of those events and opportunities.” Such a confirming scene is gratefully also seen in the lives of those we share the gospel with as missionaries.

The bishop noticed the strong theme of conference was the blessings of living prophets. He has noticed that many, questioning their faith, conclude the Brethren have been wrong before, pointing to the Priesthood ban or the practice of polygamy following the issuance of the Manifesto), and wonder if they can follow the brethren in trust.

My reply was that I had encountered the same in the mission field and that like him and his wife, it was not something I had ever encountered in my own thoughts. Every time I see a flaw in the Brethren, including the Prophet Joseph Smith, I find myself overjoyed with the thought that since the Lord sustains them, even in their flaws, there is hope for me. Furthermore I have yet to encounter an event, a principle, or teaching of the Brethren that challenged my testimony in any way. I hear all the time these “what if’s” but have never experienced one.

I found myself considering these initial truths that I hold dear—

                  This is the Lord’s church and kingdom, not ours.
                  If anyone needs to worry about what is happening in His church it is the Lord, not us.
                  The Lord, out of His love for us, and His desire for us to receive all the joy and happiness we will allow Him to bestow upon us, not only gave us agency but sustains us in our agency.
                  He has chosen to operate His church through priesthood keys which He has generously made available through His church and kingdom.
                  Holy and sacred writ tells us He always has, does now, and always will sustain those who hold such priesthood keys.
                  Scriptures teach the flow of knowledge comes to man always in a line upon line, precept upon precept manner, here a little and there a little.
                  The Lord’s pattern of line upon line is the same for the Brethren as it is for us.
                  Likewise the principles of revelation are not any different for the Brethren than they are for the rest of us.
                  Our personal experience with revelation teaches great effort is required to be in tune with, hear, understand and implicitly follow the voice of the Spirit.
                  To protect His church and kingdom the Lord requires the Brethren to operate in unanimity which necessitates changes being much slower than would be otherwise, but also blends in the necessary protection and certainty.
                  All of the Brethren, as are we, imperfect and the Lord deals with that nonetheless and so must we.

I’ve seen a lot of changes in my lifetime in church practices and some seemingly even in doctrine. To my knowledge there has never been an occasion in which the Lord gave a comprehensive treatise on a doctrinal subject, rather again, it has always come line upon line; that is we never see the end from the beginning. If one is exposed somewhere along the line as that doctrine is being revealed, it may appear to change, but taken in total I suspect, when our perspective is perfect, it will not look so.

Since the Lord’s practice is not to give a full picture, but to guide us line upon line, to fail to sustain the Brethren, because the Lord “may” give more at a later time or because we in our foolish wisdom have a different agenda, is tantamount to casting out our confidence and depending solely on the arm of flesh. It bespeaks of someone who, at their core, doesn’t really believe the Lord is guiding the church anyway. It also invites the adversary to disrupt our happiness by sowing seeds of doubt which are happily planted and nourished to our destruction.

Members and non-members are overly agitated with fringe doctrines, i.e., doctrines not essential to the salvation and eternal life of man. It is a trap carefully developed and laid by the adversary. For some reason fringe doctrines hold great appeal, occupy much needed time, but they erode testimonies, confidence and peace.

I have yet to see an individual who struggled with faith, repentance, baptism and the gift of the Holy Ghost, the very doctrines of Christ, or enduring to the end. You know, the things that bring exaltation. It is always some fringe thing, either an event or a doctrine, not yet fully developed by the Lord or explained. We have statements in the King Follett discourse concerning Heavenly Father’s process in becoming God and Lorenzo Snow’s couplet, but that is all. So how God became God, or who was God before he became our God are unproductive fringe questions. The Lord hasn’t seen fit to reveal the answers, so why do we spend any time on them at all? They are not necessary to our salvation and that is all we have time and energy to pursue in this mortal journey.

For example, the Lord has revealed very little about the creation and yet I am asked continually about “creation doctrine” and I have to repeatedly confess we do not know but the Lord has promised it will be revealed in the future (see D&C 101). We know as Elder McConkie so astutely stated, enough about the creation to know that something had to happen for the mortal journey essential to the plan of salvation to commence. That’s it. Everything else about the creation is a fringe doctrine, i.e., unnecessary to us now. We are not now in the creation business.

The event that evoked the multiplicity of opportunities to become as God we call the Fall. What do we know about the fall? Well practically nothing. We know it had to occur, we know there was a geographic change, we know it brought about procreation and all the opportunities necessary to become as God. Everything else about the creation is a fringe doctrine, not necessary to salvation, with the sole exception, we know because of the Fall, without the Atonement of Jesus Christ there was no way to return to our Father and our God. But that is it.

What then do we know about the atonement, how was it wrought, what made it possible, how did it work, why does it work? Well we don’t have those answers… yet! Instead we use terms such as “in some incomprehensible way” or “in some way not yet known to us” or “in some way yet to be revealed” Christ was able to take upon him the sins and afflictions of all mankind.

So here we have the three pillars of eternity, just the title sounds impressive and important: the creation, the fall and the atonement. However the Lord has only shared there had to be a creation and it was necessary for a fall to occur and except for the atonement the fall would have robbed all mankind of eternity with God. That’s all we know.

Just as the Lord in answering Moses’ two questions: 1) tell me how you made all these creations; and 2) tell me about these other worlds, (“Tell me, I pray thee, why these things are so, and by what thou madest them?” [Moses 1:30]), the Lord replied: “For mine own purpose have I made these things. Here is wisdom and it remaineth in me. And by the word of my power, have I created them, which is mine Only Begotten Son, who is full of grace and truth… But only an account of this earth, and the inhabitants thereof, give I unto you.” (Moses 1:31-32, 35.) In other words, “Moses my son I know you want to know all the things you need to know about the world, the environment, in which you live, but the rest are fringe doctrines. The key for you is to learn that “My work and my glory is to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man” (Moses 1:39).

The message to me is that I cannot comport my life by guessing what is going to happen or be revealed or by what may or may not be revealed at some time in the future. To do so sounds like gambling my eternal life with no evidence to support the reasons for the risk I am taking. There is nowhere in the scriptures where the Lord says, “Guess what I am going to do and you will enjoy eternal life.” Rather He says “Keep my commandments,” “Follow and sustain the Brethren,” “Hold fast to that which I have already revealed.” Furthermore, gambling on what “might happen” seems right in line with the taunting’s spewed by the adversary. Isn’t that what he did in the pre-mortal existence? It would seem obvious that following Satan’s path to find God makes no sense whatsoever.

I never place limits on my God. I am willing to accept whatever comes, whatever God reveals, I have placed no restrictions on what He can or may do or say. But for now the path is clearly before me, I have my direction clearly defined and I am confident in the Lord accepting my humble offering, as I willingly sustain the fallible Brethren He has placed at the head of His church.

“Perhaps there are very few men now living,” Lorenzo Snow testified in 1900, “who were so well acquainted with Joseph Smith the Prophet as I was. I was with him oftentimes. I visited him in his family, sat at his table, associated with him under various circumstances, and had private interviews with him for counsel. I know that Joseph Smith was a Prophet of God; I know that he was an honorable man, a moral man, and that he had the respect of those who were acquainted with him.”

“I saw the imperfections in (Joseph). I thanked God that He would put upon a man who had those imperfections the power and authority He placed upon him ... for I knew that I myself had weaknesses, and I thought there was a chance for me. ... I thanked God that I saw these imperfections.”

“I told them I was but a man and they must not expect me to be perfect,” Joseph Smith said. “If they expected perfection from me, I should expect it from them, but if they would bear with my infirmities and the infirmities of the brethren, I would likewise bear with their infirmities.”

As bishop I felt with and for those so challenged, even to recognizing and expressing an understanding of things might look that way to them. I find myself with the same thoughts as a senior missionary. All I can offer is a simple testimony in the form of stating why I believe as I believe and why I am confident in following that path, including putting on the shelf for later exploration those things I don't understand and leaving fringe doctrines alone. I suspect when all is said and done safety is in trusting the Lord, that He is in control, that He knows what is going on, that His timing and ways are right. If we don't have that trust then there is no protection

A couple of months ago we received an unsolicited email from our missionary president instruction us to go home for our last grandson’s baptism. It has been difficult for me to contemplate doing this and even when we purchased the airplane tickets to return I was quite apprehensive. But this Friday we flew home to Provo, Utah for our grandson’s baptism and returned on Monday.

At the baptism we were greatly pleased to see Elder and Sister Litchfield, now honorable released and home from our mission, waiting at the chapel. It was good to renew our friendship with them. Our grandson had asked Sister Haddock to give the talk on baptism. She shared that our Savior walked approximately 60 miles to be baptized of John which was about the same distance driven when the family attended the Ogden Temple open house. In doing so Jesus showed us how important is baptism. She pointed out that his day today held the same authority that John had in baptizing the Savior and in being baptized he was promising to follow Jesus. That a promise with the Lord is called a covenant. Because of his love for us He also gives us a bunch of “how to’s.” These “how to’s” are commandments. A commandment is our Savior telling us, “If you want to have my spirit to guide you, keep my commandments.

If you want a blessing, Jesus gives us a How To showing us how to get it

•         If you want to be blessed in this life, pay your tithing
•         If you want best health, live the word of wisdom
•         If you want never to be alone, pray to Heavenly Father always

She then showed the pained rock that he had sent her last Christmas telling him she used it to remind her of what Jesus Christ has done for her and what He expects of her in following His example. She concluded the talk by giving the rock back to him as a reminder to always look to Jesus for safety and support.

We had a great visit. We were able to see “Meet the Mormons” with the family.

The drive to our apartment was quite strange to me. One would think going to our home in Provo would provide a comforting returning feeling and it was nice to be there, happy to see everyone, and no bad feelings at all. But strangely as we drove into Brittany Apartment Homes I felt I was coming “home.” Returning to the mission field felt like coming home. I was surprised by the feeling I talked with Jan about it for some time. I think it was a tender blessing of the Lord assuring us we are where we are supposed to be as seasoned missionaries. Also it came as an assurance that the trip had been approved by the Lord and we were being welcomed back. The final thought was that it is going to be harder to leave those we love in the mission field than it was to leave loved ones in Provo. Those in Provo were left with the assurance that in eighteen months we would be returning to them. Yet those loved ones here in the mission field we may never see again and they now hold a large place in our hearts.

The time has flown much faster than it did even as a young missionary and I thought that was quick. Our children and grandchildren can't believe 16 months have flown by and were shocked when we told them our release date. I think it has sent a message to our grandchildren that serving a mission doesn't take much time out of your life, which eliminates a substantial worry for young folks. I have shared with them that they will be the sixth consecutive generation of our family to serve full-time missions. What a joy and what a blessing.

Monday, October 6, 2014

Week Sixty-six

WEEK SIXTY-SIX October 6, 2014

Our son noted after 14 years of emergency medicine that about 95% of the accidents he has dealt with, the injured party knew before hand, or at least had a thought, that what they were doing was dangerous and should be avoided. Believing in their own skills they proceeded anyway disregarding the thought. Certainly the Light of Christ not only leads us Christ but gentle guides and directs us, if we will listen, to safe harbors. As just as clearly, we, thinking too highly of ourselves or abilities, reason that we are okay and dismiss the gentle and caring thought of a kind Heavenly Father. How wisely did the prophet Nephi conclude: “O Lord, I have trusted in thee, and I will trust in thee forever. I will not put my trust in the arm of flesh; for I know that cursed is he that putteth his trust in the arm of flesh. Yea, cursed is he that putteth his trust in man or maketh flesh his arm.” (1 Nephi 4:34.)

We shared a sweet experience together this week, our son and I, when he asked me to pray about one of his children concerning what the Lord had in mind. The answer I received I thought would not be what our son wanted to hear. But when I shared it with him it was a specific confirmation to an answer he had received earlier. I have often thought, and then heard anew at the recent general conference, that Lehi’s joy as a father was not that his son Nephi was going to obey him, but that he realized it was the Lord directing his father and therefore determined to go and do what the Lord had commanded. My joy in that experience with our son was multiplied a hundred fold as his son prayed and came to the same conclusion himself. What a fine young man. I'm proud of him and feel blessed to be his grandfather and the father of such a wonderful son.

Had a good meeting with the Four family. The wife following a blessing, received a promotion at work, the husband started school for his new profession. We spent so much time talking about the day to day and sharing in their joy, that they suggested for the lesson I give them the talk I had prepared for a week ago Sunday, but never gave. We have been trying to learn the whereabouts of a senior couple who served in South Carolina nearly twenty years ago who first introduced Brother Four to the restored gospel, but have been unable to do so. Just received word from the church membership department that it is against policy to share that information. If it necessary to happen I believe the Lord will create the opportunity.

At our district meeting I had a couple of thoughts. A discussion was had on one minute introduction lessons. For me it felt like better would be 10-15 seconds. Followed by an invitation along the lines of the introduction. So I wrote for mine: God is our Heavenly Father. He is always there. He has not forgotten you. You are not alone. May we share a message of His son with you? Invitation: Do you know others who may need to feel God’s love?

Met with Pastor Forty-two this week. They are loving their experience in New York. The meeting today was very cordial, more of a social visit than it has been in the past. It appears he may be coming to the conclusion he is not going to unseat testimonies of the truth, but still enjoys the friendship.

We met with the One family. He said he went through the script I had written for him on terminating the real estate agreement he had to lease his home and everything worked out perfectly. I told him “Either you proved that all your worries paid off, or that you didn’t need to have so much anxiety about the whole matter.” “No,” he said, “I think it was knowing how to present my case, as you showed me, that made the difference.” We began a discussion on the existence of God from a scientific perspective which will be followed up next.

The Twenty-one family had a sweet temple interview experience with a very loving stake president and called and we joined them at Distribution to select their temple clothing. They said at the interview they told the stake president “we have been hanging out a lot with Elder and Sister Haddock and he responded ‘well I can’t think of anyone better for you to hang out with.” Later he sent us a note about the family expressing their love for us when he met with them. Their littlest daughter put her face into the candy bowl the stake president has on his desk, breathed two long breaths and exhaled with a sigh. President said, “Would you like a candy?” An obvious question.

One of our daughters called and shared a sweet story about one of our grandsons who went out of his way to show love for another in his fifth grade class. When asked by his mother how the other responded, he said, “Mom, I made her speechless.” I am in the midst of preparing material for a Bible Study class next week and our topic is Christ’s ministry to the poor an downhearted. I think our grandson’s story will be part of that presentation.

We received a request from one of the young missionaries about how to respond to an investigator who is suffering such sorrow and anger over her husband’s affair that she can’t listen, think or reason. He asked if I had anything on forgiveness or handling despair. I shared with him that as bishop I noticed and pled for direction in handling those situations when ward members came feeling they were alone, God had abandoned them, their prayers were not answered, that the heavens were as brass and wondering how to maintain their faith when it appeared to them that God was no longer there. I gave him a number of articles that I had found useful in such counseling, including “In the Strength of the Lord,” by Elder David A. Bednar, April 2013 Ensign.

Sister H and I had a very enjoyable two days of conference this week. Both of us feeling unusually energized. I was able to take both Brother Two and Brother Six to the priesthood session with me. When I asked Brother Six about the theme of the first two session he said, “How to get a testimony, keep a testimony and share a testimony.” I asked him if he found himself wondering why the first two sessions of conference were tailored by the Lord just for him. He smiled, “I think I know.” He was struck as was I by the speaker who said, “Fast offerings support life, not lifestyle.” I had received from Brother Two earlier in the day, “I just read Alma chapter 7. I really think it’s very good.”

There was one young Aaronic Priesthood brother was baptized just about a year ago and although he attended the priesthood session of general conference with me in April did not accept my invitation this October. I sent him a text that he had let me down as this would be my last opportunity to attend a session with him before we return home from our mission. He replied that he had watched it on television, but while watching wished he had accepted my invitation and then shared a number of things he learned from the session including the need to nourish his own tree.

One conference observer shared with me that sometimes when the brethren speak so glowingly about the immediate blessings of faithfulness, significant pain is often felt by those other faithful sons and daughters who like Aaron of the Sons of Mosiah it is just their “lot” not to receive immediate blessings. I suggested it must be so difficult to sow seeds of hope, which is very necessary, while all the while recognizing that the lot of some will be only to maintain faith in circumstances that defy hope. But as I've gotten older it appears to me that we all have Abrahamic tests although each tailored and different, but eventually requiring each to maintain faith regardless of consequence. Looking back now over 70+ years it appears that the statement in Alma 31:38 has proven true for me that all my afflictions have in reality been swallowed up in my joy of Christ.

We watched the final session of conference with the Six and Sixty-five families and presented the Plan of Salvation discussion.