Much Needed Snow

24 Feb 2018

We heard on Monday, that one of our granddaughters, Sophia, broke her leg in her karate class. We're praying for a swift recovery. . .

It was fortunate, for us, that Monday was a holiday – since we had a big snow storm that day. We weren’t required to be out in it, so it was lovely.

Yesterday, though, was a different story. The forecasters seriously underestimated the amount of snow we’d get. The prediction was for 1-2 inches overnight – however, it snowed, big, wet flakes, all day long. As I walked to and from the temple yesterday, and later, to the Family History Library, I was grateful for a good coat and boots!

We had an AWESOME mission conference this week. Elder Kevin R Duncan, a general authority Seventy, and his wife, Nancy, were the guest speakers. They said that for the past five years their assignment has been in Central America.

Sister Duncan told a story about a time when she experienced miracle after miracle while trying to complete an assignment she’d been given for an upcoming conference. Everything she needed to know and every person she needed to meet seemed to just drop in her lap. (She said the best way to describe it was that it was as if someone else was driving the car and she was just along for the ride!) She was given a task that she was uncertain about, and the Lord put everything she needed in her path. And, she testified that Heavenly Father knows and loves each of us and he wants to bless us as we serve and follow Him.

Elder Duncan related an account from when the Honduras Temple was completed. During the open house, many area dignitaries were invited to view the temple. One day, the President of Honduras and his wife came for a tour. As they took them through each of the rooms, and explained about the purpose of the temple, they were very quiet. When they got to the celestial room, they didn’t want to leave – and sat in that room for 45 minutes, saying nothing. Then, as they proceeded on to a sealing room, the president said, “If only the people of my country could feel the kind of peace that is here, it would make all the difference.”

When they reached the sealing room and heard about families being sealed together for eternity, the president’s wife immediately knelt at the alter and said, “I want you to seal me to my husband right now!” Of course, that wasn’t possible, but it was impressive to hear their response to being in the House of the Lord.

The country of Honduras is filled with violence, and is fundamentally run by many different gangs (who are connected to the drug cartels and are at war with each other) rather than the government. Elder Duncan told of traveling with a stake president to visit some church members. On the trip, they crossed one of the invisible boundaries between gang turfs and the stake president told him, “Hurry. Roll down your window. Because they don’t know us, they will shoot and kill us if we don’t stop and talk to them.” Two men with weapons approached the window and asked what they were doing. The stake president explained that they were LDS and were going to visit church members. Whereupon, one of the men said, “Let me see your temple recommend.” Once they showed them, they were allowed to drive on. Elder Duncan said that sometimes, these “guards” have even felt along the chest area of people’s clothing to check for the line of a temple garment to determine if someone was telling the truth. (Evidently, they had learned to trust LDS travelers once they could prove they really were of our faith.)

What a blessing to have the peace the gospel brings! And, especially the peace of being in the Lord’s holy temple.

Transitions and Tender Mercies

17 February 2018

We were reminded this week of the many tender mercies we (and others) have experienced over the years. I decided to look up the term “tender mercies” in the scriptures and was surprised at how many places it is used. It's such a sweet term. Not only does our Father in Heaven have mercy upon us, he does so with all the tender love of a kind father to his children.

We were sorry to hear that our friend, Penny Oman, has been diagnosed with stage 3 endometrial (uterine) cancer, and is undergoing chemotherapy. The goal, at this point, is to shrink the tumor enough to remove it surgically – with more treatments after that. We are praying for her and hoping for many tender mercies in her behalf.

There is a brother on a mission here, Elder Larry Faria, who spoke at a fireside this past Sunday — and he has the most AMAZING conversion story. He was raised in the Jewish faith and became a Latter-day Saint when he was in his early 20s. Of course, initially, he wanted nothing to do with the Church. Nothing. And, because of his upbringing, he thought it was a sin to even say the name of Jesus Christ (and to profess any belief in Him.) But, after a series of events, with him fighting against it all the way – he came to know it was true. (The way he tells it, the Holy Spirit pretty much nagged him into the Church.) His wife (who was raised Baptist) was baptized the same day he was, but, once his family of origin learned of his baptism, they would have nothing more to do with him. He was treated as if he was dead to them. Any of his belongings that remained in their home were buried and no one was allowed to speak of him or to him. But, he said, he couldn’t turn back no matter what, because he had such a sure witness of the truthfulness of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. (i.e. Even as he was baptized he was filled with a degree of skepticism, and was thinking, “Alright, I’ve done this initiation ritual. I don’t see the point.” Then, as the water dripped off him in the changing area, he saw a vision open on the floor beside him. In the vision, he could see, in detail, every sin he’d ever committed — and at the same time, he saw each of those sins literally being washed away. He, then, understood to his core that baptism was a valuable, saving ordinance and he never doubted again.) Remarkable!

Now that we are in the 18th month of our mission, quite a few missionaries we’ve gotten to know are going home. Three other zone leader couples are leaving this month, as well as one of the young elders, Elder Kellogg (who, btw, is from Battle Creek, Michigan).

We can tell that our thoughts are beginning to turn toward home, also. We’ve begun to make lists of things we need to do, as well as sites we want to see before we leave – and have put a few of those on the calendar since that seems to be the best way to insure we get it done.

Because Bob is a zone leader, we’re invited to a special luncheon next week where we’ll have the opportunity to receive instruction from Elder Kevin R Duncan, who is a General Authority Seventy. Then, Elder Duncan will also speak at our Mission Conference.

At the end of the month, and the first three days of March, we get to attend the big RootsTech Conference at the Salt Palace. Last year, I went to a lot of different classes, but, after a while, I was kind of over-saturated, and didn’t remember much. This year, I decided to focus my class choices on only two things: a.) improving my research and documenting skills, generally, and b.) learning more about British research, specifically. 

Elder Dallin H. Oaks and his wife, Kristin, will present at the conference, along with several guest speakers. Olympic skater Scott Hamilton will speak one day. Another day we’ll hear from Brendon Stanton (creator of the photoblog “Humans of New York”) and, on Saturday, the featured speaker will be Henry Louis Gates, Jr., director of African, and African-American Research at Harvard, and host of the PBS series, “Finding Your Roots.” We’re really excited to hear from all of them!!

Salt Lake Temple Reopened

10 February 2018

The Salt Lake City Temple reopened this week (after being closed for three weeks for winter maintenance) and about half of our zone attended a session together on Tuesday. It was lovely.
Back Row: Elder Peacock, Elder Keeley, Elder Jarvis, Elder Gale, Elder Sparrow, Elder Blamires, Elder Clark, Elder Barry, Elder Crenshaw
Front Row: Elder Durrant, Elder Howes, Sister Tilley, Elder Jacobsen, Sister Sparrow, Sister Blamires, Sister Clayton, Sister Eastman, Sister Barry, Sister Crenshaw, Sister Boyter
(Can you tell which of our sisters used to be an elementary school teacher?) :-)

President and Sister Fenn visited our morning, zone devotional on Thursday. It’s the first time they’ve done that. He is such an interesting speaker. I wish I had his recall for scriptures!

His topic was unusual in that he spoke about death — and how the death of the righteous is precious unto God. (“Precious” being something of great worth.) He spoke of the Savior and his apostles participating in the Passover feast just before the Savior’s death and resurrection. New Testament accounts tell us that they sang a hymn and then they “went out.” Because it was Passover, the hymn they sang would have been the Hallel – which is Psalms 113 – 118. One of those verses, Psalms 116:15, says, “Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of the saints.” So, the Savior would have sung those words just prior to his own death.

President Fenn has often commented that the Lord customizes the experiences of the righteous – of those who follow Him and desire to serve Him. Of course, the Savior had a perfect understanding of what he would be experiencing. For me, however, it’s sometimes difficult to see why we have some of the experiences we do. It’s hard to see some experiences as being “customized” for me – and yet, I can also see how some of the more difficult ones have strengthened me and helped to shape who I am. And, ultimately, it’s faith in the Lord, Jesus Christ, that is the foundation that sees us through.

I am grateful that we have the scriptures to guide us, and for the restored gospel of Jesus Christ to help us navigate through this earth life.