Friday, April 24, 2015

Week Seventy-six

WEEK SEVENTY-SIX December 16, 2014

Young Brother Two replied to my question in 1 Nephi 8 about why only one of the four groups got to the tree and stayed there. “Sorry it took so long for me to respond. I had lots of school work and other crazy things. It was Lehi whose group made it and remained. Because when they had partaken at the fruit they were not ashamed of it but the other group who made it to the tree were. The people in the big and spacious building were making fun of those who had partaken of the fruit. Lehi’s was the only one not ashamed of it.”

We attended our last Transfer Meeting this week. Sister Haddock and I were both asked to share our thoughts and testimonies. I addressed the thought that as young faithful missionaries they had spiritually captured sacred ground during their missions and the plea to commit that they would never give it back but continue growing in the gospel and their commitment to Christ as their Lord and Master.

During the meeting I received a text from Brother Seventy-three so after out testimonies we left the meeting to meet with he and his wife. We began with a discussion on 2 Nephi 2 and were led by the Spirit to transition seamlessly into a discussion of marriage relationships, sealing in the temple, and the obligation of each party to make the relationship work. Sister Haddock and I shared many of our own experiences which provoked a lot of laughter and engaged both of them fully. Everything seemed to be guided by the spirit and fit together so well. We were excited as we left as were they. We knew they had some marriage issues but were urged to be careful in treading there. But tonight the Lord directed the discussion and it was seamless and smooth.

Later I sent a note to the MP, “President, we apologize for leaving the transfer meeting early tonight but we had a discussion with two part member families, one at 5:30 and the other at 7 p.m. We are already finding it difficult to get everything in as time marches on. Years ago in a priesthood training session with Elder Harold B. Lee he placed the emphasis on "let" in D&C 107:99, "Wherefore, now LET every man learn his duty, and to act in the office in which he is appointed, in all diligence." We so appreciate your "Letting" us serve as MLS missionaries to interact freely with the four bishops and four ward missionary leaders we have served. Not being overwhelmed with administrative matters we were blessed to concentrate on the voice of the Spirit and allow the Lord to accomplish His purposes through us. What a great blessing it has been. Thank you for listening to the Lord and placing us with such wonderful and faithful servants of the Lord. Elder and Sister Haddock”

The MP replied, “Thank you and Sister Haddock again for your beautiful testimonies last night and for your constant and continued faithful service. I'm grateful that you were positively engaged last night after the Transfer Meeting with teaching two part-member families. You were at the right place doing the right always! I've known few who have been so totally prepared, so completely dedicated and so energetically willing to serve in whatever capacity or assignment might come.  You both have been a blessing to us all ... and to the wards and people where and with whom you've served. Thank you...thank you! I appreciated your comment about Pres. Lee's teaching on "let" as found in D&C 107:99. I've not heard that previously. I like it! God bless you both...always! With deepest respect and gratitude,”

Had a special meeting with the Four family. He asked his wife if Joseph Smith was saved when the Savior told him his sins were forgiven in the first vision. She said yes. He then said. “That’s my whole argument. If Joseph Smith could be saved without the Book of Mormon, why do we need it?” I suggested it was needed to provide clarity through additional revelations from God then I added. “Were the disciples of Christ saved.” He said yes. “So according to your logic we don’t then need the New Testament as if didn’t come to be until centuries after the time of Christ.” Then I asked, “Were the people in the City of Enoch saved when he and his people were taken up to heaven?” He again said yes. “Well, again according to your logic there is no need then for the Old testament which came many hundreds of years afterwards. Yet each adds clarity and completes the picture of God’s dealings with his children. Also there is something in common with all three. That commonality is living prophets. Enoch was a living prophet, the Savior was the greatest of all prophets. And Joseph Smith is a prophet. The Lord saves his children through living prophets. They are more important than the written text because living prophets receive revelation for their time and circumstance. ” When it came time for the closing prayer, as he was ending the prayer he made a special effort to “pray for Elder and Sister Haddock that their message of salvation may be heard and accepted by those they meet.” We also confirmed the lunch tomorrow but said he didn’t know how to reach the bishop. I told him I would take care of that.

Brother Two called from Ventura wanting to know the condition about the executive secretary. I told him they finally pulled the tooth pulled and later put in a bridge to fill the gap. “I want to see you before you go. In the Laundromat the other day one Christian was railing against other Christians. But more of his attack was on Mormons and Jehovah’s Witnesses. I didn’t say much to him but finally quoted Romans 8:1, “There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit,” which quieted him down for a time. Say I am going to be home tomorrow for a couple of hours in the afternoon. Can you come by so I can see you?” I told him we could.

The next day we had a nice visit with the Two family before the husband had to leave to return to work. His wife made an interesting observation about their little four year old.  She said, “You know, he has calmed down considerably since the sealing.” Which surprised her considerably.

Had an observation that as Seasoned missionaries we have been given a large basket of 75-100 families during our service. A dozen or so of those we really connected with. This included active and inactive families, and non-members. Shared experiences were identified through common needs, geography, skills and abilities, acquaintances and long tailed entanglements that were surprising. For example, the Two family and Encinitas, the Six family and Edinboro University outside Erie, Pennsylvania where I served on my mission. Experiences seemed to match both interests and questions asked. As a result there developed a mutual feeling that we alone, above all others, were there at the right place and time.

I had lunch with Brother Four and the Bishop, introducing them both to California Fish Grill. Brother Two had called said he wanted to discuss something. His idea was to have an interfaith caroling sing at nursing homes in the area. Both the bishop and I liked the idea and December 22 was set for the date with Brother Two turned loose to arrange the locations. But something seemed amiss.

That night Brother Four called in some distress. Wanted to talk. Asked if I had some time. The caroling project was not what he wanted to talk about at lunch today but just couldn’t bring himself to mention what was really on his mind. He said his marriage relationship seemed to be falling apart and leading to divorce. However all the “facts” he told me didn’t lead to the conclusions he was drawing so I encouraged him to speak with his wife and tell her of his fears and work things out. He asked about counselling. I said no, talk with her first. He expressed his appreciation for listening. I emailed a copy of my little Marriage Beatitudes for him to review with her.

The next morning Brother Four wrote me, “Good morning Brother Jerry. I am so glad that we sat down and had a good talk last night. I'm sorry to have lain so much on you yesterday, but I was being crushed inside and I needed to vent to keep from imploding. After much prayer and open communication, I am optimistic about where we're going. Thank you for an open heart, a listening ear and praying hands. God bless you and thank you from the bottom of my heart. I enjoyed your Marriage Beatitudes and I just forwarded it to my wife. We plan to spend some quality time together this weekend and we will be focusing on your counsel through these beatitudes. Thank you very much my friend.”

On our last visit with the Twenty-one family I gave them a copy of the book LDS Beliefs Wrote in the flyleaf, — “Hope you get good use from this collection of LDS doctrines. Thank you for bringing us such joy and happiness on our Seasoned Couple missionary service. We truly love your family. Jerry and Jan (Elder and Sister Haddock) How we love this sweet young family and are going to miss them terribly. Also gave them the video, The Lamb of God and the children’s book, “The Light of Christmas” by Richard Paul Evans. We also brought over a huge chocolate chip cookie and ice cream which we all shared and bid our sad farewells.

Later in the week met with the Ward Mission Leader in Lake Forest to discuss all our investigators, their needs, and possible assignments. Sent an email to the ward mission leader in the Aliso Creek Ward detailing the same.

Sister Haddock and I met our niece and her daughter at El Cholo restaurant. We had a really nice visit. She is a very sweet mother. It has been special being in a mission where two nephews and one niece reside. We have been able to share things that probably would never have been shared had we not been called to this particular mission.

Sister two sent us this note, “Do you guys need any help cleaning your apartment? I’d be happy to help. Our oldest jammed another finger catching a football and has a hairline fracture. Never a dull moment. I’m taking him to an orthopedic specialist. I don’t think this one is very bad like the last one. I really hope they don’t have to keep his finger in a splint forever and it’s not that bad. Say a prayer if you can. Do you have plans Sunday after church?” We replied that Sister Haddock was speaking at Sacrament and that we had a meeting at 4:30. “Well we would love to have you over for dinner. Kyle should be home. If you guys can’t make it it’s not a big deal. We’re planning on coming to your going away party too. Whatever is the least stressful for you!”

Sent to Brother Six “I don't know what your schedule is this coming Sunday or when your wife is returning. Noting this will be our last Sunday, if possible we would like to move our meeting time back to 4:30 to enable us to say our goodbyes to members of the Aliso Creek Ward whose block is 1-4 p.m. Let us know if that will work for you.”

Sister Sealy called and asked if we could rush over to the church. They are putting up the decorations and wanted to run through the son Blue Christmas with me. So we went over and sang it through a couple of times with some suggestions from her. Tonight we went with Brother Six and his daughter sitting at the same table. Told them along with singing with the bishopric I was going to sing my first solo. Shared what my grandfather and father had done. They were surprised I wasn’t scared to death. I suspect it comes from being a missionary. We sang as a bishopric and later my solo which I was able to end still standing. Everyone seemed to get a kick out of it.

The former RS president said to Sister Haddock at Ward Christmas Party, “One of the things I miss most about being released is rubbing shoulders with the two of you at the Ward Council meetings.” Sister Sealy, “I think your solo was the best part of the program tonight.”

Sent pictures of the fantastic decorations at the Lake Forest party to Sister Six who is in Indiana—Oh my gosh. The stage is beautiful. Who did the decorations? Hope you all had a wonderful time! Thanks for the picture. [Mark Phelps and his son did the spectacular decorations] Wow. Amazing. Goodnight.

Sister Haddock and I visited with the Sixty-two family this afternoon. What a wonderful couple. We think the world of this 90+ year old couple. We visited and laughed, heard stories and adventures of their life together. We brought them some white chocolate truffles from See’s Candies. We said our farewell. They are so appreciative for all that we have done for them and said they would miss us so.

Returning from their home we were going to visit Brother Forty-one but Jan’s eyes have become so inflamed we had to head home. Driving down El Toro we saw the three elders serving the Aliso Creek Ward and offered them a ride. They demurred as they were close to their dinner appointment and were hopeful they could encounter someone while walking there. The district leader said, “You two are so going to be missed.” One of the other elders chimed in, “Everywhere we go we hear about the service of Elder and Sister Haddock.” Then the other elder, “I’ve only been out seven weeks now and all I’ve heard about is the Haddock’s. People in the Aliso Creek ward certainly think a lot about you.”

After our ward council in the Lake Forest Ward this morning, a Brother and Sister who both attend ward council, came up to us, “It has been so wonderful being around the two of you. You have been such an inspiration to us. We want to be like you.” Another brother and sister, also in ward council said, “You have no idea how many you have influenced here. Members and non-members alike. You may have some inkling as the years unfold, but you will never know your influence among those you serve as a Senior Couple.”

Gave the book Spiritually Anchored in Unsettled Times, Bruce R. Hafen to the Six family with this note “Thank you for the great gift of friendship, love and understanding. It is one of the highlights of our mission. We truly believe the Gospel of Jesus Christ is all about relationships and pray ours will be eternal. We await your call to schedule a return trip.”

During the Lake Forest Ward Council, the high council shared a story about a friend of his for over 20 years, “we talk every week at least.” He is Jewish and a law dean professor in Orange County. He called saying he wanted to get baptized. The brother told him he would have to check to see if “we have any room available.” His message to us was that sometimes it takes longer than we anticipate. Twenty years before it came to fruition. The friend asked, “Have you been praying for me. Things feel different. I believe something is going on.” The brother explained the temple prayer roll and that many were praying for him. “I thought so,” he said, “I could feel it.”

The brother also told us about Friday’s Follow the Star. It was pouring all afternoon as they were praying for relief. “We thought this must be confusing to the Lord with us praying for months for rain and now asking it to abate over the Altisma building. Well about 4 p.m. it stopped, the sun came up and we were able to dry off the chairs. The final performance ended at 9 p.m. and immediately it began pouring again.”

During the Sacrament in the Lake Forest ward today, I had an impression to add to my little routine of saying “Yes, I will” as I partake of the sacramental emblems. The thought was to include thereafter, “Help thou mine unwillingness.” In parallel with Mark 9:24.

In Sunday school, Lake Forest, the gospel essential instructor shared a story of Elder Marion G. Romney who was a conference visitor here years ago. He had a prior engagement in the Mt. Roubideaux Stake and the stake president here picked him up. As they were driving the stake president took one hand off the wheel to point out the huge welfare orange grove in Riverside. Elder Romney said, “President, put you hand back on the wheel. You stake presidents are a dime a dozen but we are only 12.” He expressed his profound appreciation for us being here and for becoming acquainted with us.

Sister Haddock spoke on how ordinances deepen or discipleship at our last Sacrament meeting as Seasoned missionaries.

Brother Seventy-nine came up to me and we visited before the meeting and 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.”

Following our second block, we sent and gave a discussion to the Six family around R. Burton Howards address at BYU-Idaho on “How Do We Know” and reviewed with what they needed to do to know the Book of Mormon is True.

Then to the Two family for dinner and another farewell. After dinner we were treated to some cheesecake that their oldest son who is quite the cook had made. All of the children were so happy to see us it made it special. They gave us a sweet little card, with a note for each of them.

Following that we picked up the One family and took them to Follow the Star at the Altisima building gratefully wearing some coats they had as it began to get quite chilly. We also attended the Crèche exhibit and then back to their house for some pie and ice cream. By the time we got home it was a 14 hour day. Most Sunday’s it is 10-11 hours, still a long day for us. Several members in both wards, and both bishops, asked if we would consider moving into their ward.

We received a cute card from a brother and sister in the Lake Forest Ward, it read: “One thanks, Two thanks, Big thanks, True thanks. Thanks from Near and Thanks from Far, Thanks for being who you are. Thanks for everything you do… so full of thank-yous thanks to You. We will miss you! Love”

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