EPILOGUE April 22, 2015
Well we have now been home about four months since our full-time missionary service in the California Irvine Mission. It has only been the last few days that we have been able to feel some part of the adjustment expected upon one’s return. The first few months were extremely difficult for us feeling like a fish out of water and longing to be back with those we came to love so very much in the mission field.
This adjustment has been surprising to me. It has been much more difficult for me than in was as a young missionary returning from the Eastern Atlantic Mission in 1963. I believe I had assumed that with some expected maturity in the intervening fifty-two years that it would have been easier. But not so. Indeed we found it much easier to leave family and friends to serve as Seasoned Missionaries that it has been to leave our dear ones in Lake Forest, Aliso Creek, Altisima, Foothill Ranch, and Irvine.
Fortunately with communication avenues far broader than snail mail of my earlier mission we have been able to stay in touch, probably hearing from 2-3 families a week which has helped to ease our longings.
We received several calls for prayers in behalf of individuals and even some to pray with them on the telephone. One such was Brother Two interacting with a co-worker whose wife was at a crossroads with an addiction to alcohol. He requested our faith and prayers in her behalf. Later the co-worker sent a note that he felt our prayers have been the answer and offered his warm thanks.
So what’s happened since we have returned? Here is a brief capsule of those events.
Sister Haddock sent to the Twenty-one family, “We miss the hug and kisses! How are you feeling? Who replied, “We really miss you guys too. I have been good, I did have a little scare and was in Labor and delivery January 4th. They put me on modified bed rest and a lot of wonderful women at church have helped me. Otherwise everything with the baby is great, I get to have an ultrasound today. Shortly we were excited to learn that baby Cody was born. From Dad, “Funny thing so last night after we got into our recovery room. I decided to try and pass a kidney stone. Fun times’
Sent an Easter card to the Seventy-six family who replied, “Thanks for thinking of us! Please know our lives have been enriched by your friendship and our testimonies deepened because of your teaching. What a blessing it was to be associated with such wonderful Latter-day Saints!”
From one of our minister friends I received this question, “Are we baptized into the true church or into Christ's death?” I replied, “Actually the question you asked cannot be answered because the word "or" is misplaced. It is not an either or question between the two. Rather LDS theology teaches that we are baptized unto the death of Christ, we are also raised in the newness of life in Christ, baptized for membership into the true church, and to signify our willingness and obligation to live by the precepts of His church and kingdom upon the earth. The Apostle Paul got it right (see Romans 6:3-6).”
Brother Six, our evangelical minister following through with the Joy in Christ Christmas choir after we left, joining his congregation, Saddleback and the Aliso Creek Ward in singing to nursery homes. And operation poncho when his congregation and the Aliso creek Ward distributed ponchos to all the homeless in Santa Ana. Next up is a distribution of sleeping pads in the same area.
Shortly before we left the mission field and with a meeting being cancelled on us, Sister Haddock decided she wanted to eat dinner at In-N-Out. For some unknown reason I didn’t drive to either of the two closest restaurants but instead drove to the one in Foothill Ranch. While on the way there felt impressed to stop by and give the Six family copies of some talks, Elder Oaks, “The Only True and Living Church,” and Elder Packer, “Only True Church,”, and President Gordon B. Hinckley, “The Stone Cut Out of the Mountain.” We enjoyed a nice visit with Sister Six and the husband’s daughter. They had some questions that we were able to immediately answer. As we left we said to each other, “Well, we were in the right place at the right time.”
As we left we headed to the Foothill Ranch area but instead of going directly to the restaurant felt impressed to stop at the See’s Candy holiday store temporally set up in the outdoor mall there. We had hoped to see Brother Fifty-five who was the manager. Not seeing him we asked the cashier and she told us he was taking a break to eat dinner and immediately went behind the curtain to get him. He was overjoyed to see us. As we were paying him for our gifts his face lit up and he said, “Oh, you need to see my dad (Brother Seventy-nine) and talk to him about the temple. I’ll have him give you a call.”
We had met dad the first time we visited with the Fifty-five family as we did the temple preparation lessons in their home. He was there the first week, but work schedules didn’t permit him to attend any of the other sessions. The young couple lived in the apartment of the father. That first time Jan cleverly roped the father into staying and being part of the lesson as well. We covered the first two lessons for temple prep and the atonement as they didn’t want us to leave, so we were there nearly two hours. The father had a question about sealing that had been answered before a couple of times but so different as to cause more concerns than they solved, even pushing the son and father into inactivity for several years. As they asked the question the answer quickly came to my mind, one if living and another if dead, which I gave to them regarding sealing. There was an audible sigh of relief from both the father and the son. It was one of those occasions where you are hearing yourself answer a question but it is as if you aren’t involved in the process.
A couple of weeks later we briefly spoke with the father as he was leaving and urged him to come back to church, “The Lord needs you and you need to be in the temple with your son and daughter-in-law as they are sealed for time and eternity.” As June was ending and we rolled into July, three appointments were cancelled in succession giving us some concern. We were later to learn it was just scheduling conflicts and they had been reading and studying the many handouts we had provided to them along the way.
On 21 August we met with the couple for 1½ hours to finish their preparation for the temple. We notified the Bishop of their progress and arranged for their temple recommend interviews. They want to attend the San Diego Temple for to receive their endowment and have invited another young couple, the wife of which had been baptized about a year and one-half before to be their escorts. But they wanted to hold off on the sealing at the husband’s mother’s request who is out of state and trying to get her life in order. We cautioned them against waiting too long. Going September 2 in San Diego. They are holding off on the sealing at his mother’s request who is trying to get her life in order. Cautioned them against waiting too long. They said they had set a December deadline for her.
On September 2 Sister Haddock and I drove down to the San Diego Temple for family Fifty-five to receive their endowments. It was good to be in the San Diego Temple again. With all the history involved in selecting the site, serving on the Temple Open House Committee, being an ordinance worker in the temple with my folks, our son and one daughter both marrying here, this temple has a different or rather special feel for us. I am sure it is the coloration from history.
The session was wonderful. The couple wore blinding smiles throughout, were very appreciative of the preparation they had received and that we would come all this way to be with them. They said they were touched that we changed our schedule and made the trip down.
The next day I received an email from Brother Fifty-five. “Hi Elder Haddock, I was talking to my dad this evening and he raised a great question. As far as Temple Recommends go, do my parents need to have received their Endowment or can they attend a sealing with a limited use recommend?” I replied that they cannot witness a sealing with a limited use recommend which only allows access to the baptistry or those under 18 to be sealed to their parents.
By October the father, Brother Seventy-nine, was occasionally coming to church. The son Brother Fifty-five sent me another email in mid-October. “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.” I replied, “Absolutely I'll send it to you in the morning.”
About mid-November Sister Fifty-five told us at church, as we were r As the day drew to a close Jan said she wanted to eat dinner at In-N-Out. For some unknown reason I didn’t drive to either of the two closest restaurants but instead drove to the one in Foothill Ranch. While on the way there felt impressed to stop by and give Kay Skinner copies of two talks, Elder Oaks, “The Only True and Living Church,” and Elder Packer, “Only True Church,”, and President Gordon B. Hinckley, “The Stone Cut Out of the Mountain.” Had a nice visit with Kay and Julie.
Now back to the See’s candy store. Brother Fifty-five said his father wanted to know if he had to meet with the bishop. I told him no, only for repentance, not inactivity and wanting to come back. But would have to meet with him for the temple recommend. Said we would make whatever schedule was needed to meet his father’s needs to prepare him. As we left we both were stunned with all the changes, feeling, stops and directions we traversed to make this visit possible.
Later after attending the sealing with the Two family we, along with the Two’s and the bishop and his family went to Fuddrucker’s to get a bit. While there Brother Seventy-nine called me on the phone. I went out in the parking lot to speak with him. He told me of a matter 20 or more years ago asking if he needed to speak with the bishop and I told him he did. He then asked how a bishop handles things and I shared with him what I did as bishop. “I can do that,” he said. I told him the bishop was at the restaurant with me and did he want to talk with him right now. He answered in the affirmative. So I briefed the bishop and put him on the line. They set up a date the next night to visit.
Our last Sunday in the mission field, Brother Seventy-nine came to church and as we visited I invited him to sit with us which he consented to do. Said he had talked with the Bishop and is getting things in order even if it takes longer that his son and daughter-in-law need for their sealing. He is committed. Wanted to thank me for counseling him and getting him on the right path. I told him I wanted to know the rest of story, so “please keep us informed of your progress.”
After returning home we learned the sealing date had been moved to February 17, 2015. On the evening of February 12 I received a very excited call from Brother Seventy-nine. “Elder Haddock, this is Brother Seventy-nine. Guess what I have in my hand. I have a temple recommend. I am going to the Newport Temple on Saturday to receive my endowment and on Tuesday for the sealing of the kids. My ex-wife also has her recommend and will be at the sealing as well, coming all the way from Louisiana. I can’t thank you enough for all you have done for our family. Our lives have been changed forever.” I told him how excited we were for them and hung up the telephone nearly overcome with joy.
Part of Brother Fifty-five’s inactivity had been working Sunday’s at See’s. His wife has had some tough health issues preventing her from much activity herself. We were fortunate to be able to give her a blessing for her health. Between the time of their endowment and being sealed, her health has improved, she found employment and is pregnant with their first child. He has found a new job, at the same place as his escort, and is no longer working Sunday’s.
We have also heard from Sister Fifty-one who went to the temple the first time this month of April. She recently wrote, “Well I finally made it to the temple. 13 including me. It was great, Diane was down from San Francisco and Tania and Kent up from San Clemente. Bishop Robinson and his wife Michelle were able to come too. Will let you know when I head up your way. Thank you both for helping me. Miss your smiling faces every Sunday.”
That makes the tenth individual we served who has now been to the temple and where possible, been sealed for time and eternity. I feel like Ammon, “Blessed be the name of our God; let us sing to his praise, yea, let us give thanks to his hold name, for he doth work righteousness forever” (Alma 26:8). And to think, we were privileged to come along for the ride.