Stepping into the Darkness

"You must learn to walk to the edge of the light, and then a few steps into the darkness, then the light will appear and show you the way before you."

Monday, December 28, 2015

I-5 Miracles (again!)

It seems the opportunities to grow and learn, at least for us here in Oregon take place on I-5. This past week was no exception. We got the opportunity to take Christmas packages that have been collecting at the mission office for missionaries, to many of them in four of the zones. We counted somewhere in the neighborhood of 200 presents.  On Christmas eve, we transported Christmas to Roseburg, Grant’s Pass, Central Point, and Medford. It was fun to meet with the missionaries at each location and share in their joy and excitement of the holiday. Weather was a concern and we had lots of rain, and some snow going over the passes along the way south.

Heading home, we encountered increasing snow/rain going over the pass between Medford and Grant’s Pass. Between Grant’s Pass and Roseburg there are three passes to cross. We made the first two okay, but the third, the snow was coming down very wet and heavy. With about 2 inches of wet slushy snow, traffic began to slow and finally came to a stop about a mile from the summit where two trucks had jackknifed and blocked the road. Where we were, left us going uphill into a curve with a fairly tall super. As you can guess, when we tried to move forward in our rear drive van, the back end slid around toward the guardrail. We had been there for about 30 minutes when the snow plows arrived and had us move out of the way by backing up a few feet. This resulted in our rear bumper being about six feet from the guardrail and a drop-off.

Most of the other drivers were putting chains on, but the van we were driving didn’t have any and we figured we would have to wait until the plows came back around and could put down some sand for us. Over the next 30 minutes we watched as one after another, the cars around us slowly pulled out and disappeared over the pass. At last, the back log of cars were all gone and we were alone.

During the wait, we said a prayer and asked for help and safety. Looking back in the side mirror, I could see a “line” that traveled level across the road and onto the plowed and sanded lane. The thought occurred to me that the best thing to have in snow is a front wheel drive vehicle. I also realized that in reverse, my rear wheel drive van would have “front wheel drive”. It was one of those light bulb moments. We decided to try to go in reverse, downhill across the super and onto the plowed, sanded lane. In just a few seconds, we were back on the road and driving forward over the pass.

A scripture came to mind regarding the Holy Ghost. It teaches that the Holy Ghost will bring all things to our remembrance. I was shown the “line” to follow and reminded that in reverse, I would have the traction I needed. As we drove away, I also remembered several scriptures that command us to ask for what we need. I wonder if the apparent increase in miracles has to do with the increase in my asking. Joseph Smith taught that we should “ask for something better” when lead by the spirit. We have done this while we have served and have been astonished at the answers that have come. The Lord hasn’t done it all for us, but continues to remove the obstacles and make easy the way.
Nephi said, “…the Lord giveth no commandments unto the children of men, save he shall prepare a way for them that they may accomplish the thing which he commandeth them.”

In the end, Laurie and I had a wonderful day together. We saw breath taking scenery, enjoyed the company of many wonderful missionaries and were privileged to bring some joy and happiness to them. We witnessed again the blessing of the Lord and miracles he brings to pass for our benefit. We were taught and reminded of blessings and lessons. We also walked in the door of our apartment right on the dot of 9:00 PM just as the mission wide teleconference devotional started and were able to dial in and listen with our fellow missionaries.

We are grateful for this experience of being missionaries, for the opportunity to be part of this great work and to spend full time in the service of others. It brings indescribable joy and happiness. Our testimonies have grown and our understanding of the gospel has increased. We know that God lives and that He loves us. We know that this is His work and it is a privilege to be a part of it.

Sunday, December 6, 2015

Transfers, Arrivals, Departures, Training, Oh MY! ! !

I know we have mentioned miracles and tender mercies before, but lately it just seems they are an everyday occurrence. This week there were three that deserve a mention here:

This last Tuesday as our 22 departing missionaries got to the airport (late) the agents in trying to get them all on the plane tagged all the baggage to Salt Lake City under the names of 3 missionaries.  The unfortunate thing was 4 were going to Phoenix, 1 to Saint George, 1 to Houston and 1 to San Francisco.  And President had given me their bag tags.  I was able to work with Delta and Alaska Airlines to locate most of it and by Wednesday morning everyone but our Elder from San Francisco had their bags.  He called me on Thursday and was beside himself.  English is his second language - Chinese being his first.  My 12 years in the airline industry came in handy and with some prayer and a mention to a couple of agents about how many TSA violations were involved in them mis-tagging that many bags, Alaska Airlines was able to locate the bags and deliver them to our Elder.  Whew!

Thursday while the missionary choir was singing in the choir loft at the Stake Center a light fixture from the very high ceiling suddenly fell.  This was probably a 40 pound acrylic fixture handing above our new missionaries.  It feel, shattered and not one piece touched a single missionary.

After training on Thursday Greg and Elder P had a van load of missionaries going south.  About half way between Roseburg and Grants Pass it started raining - HARD - and continued all the way into Grants Pass.  Greg was thinking what a mess that was going to be when they got there and needed to get the missionaries out with all their luggage that was in the trailer.  They pulled into the parking lot and the rain stopped.  Everyone got unloaded and on their way and the rain started right up again.

Some may say that we were "lucky" or that those were just coincidence, but I KNOW better - I know that "the tender mercies of the Lord are over all those whom he hath chosen, because of their faith, to make them mighty even unto the power of deliverance"  (I Nephi 1:20)  These wonderful young missionaries are so often watched out for and protected, it's humbling to behold.

This last week was "transfer week" - our busiest week of the 6 week cycle that is a mission in the office. Here's a rundown so you can see what we do.

Monday is transfers - this means that at least 2 or the Elders in the office are gone ALL day diving missionaries from one end of the mission (Corvallis) to the other (Medford or Klamath Falls) and back to Eugene.  Meanwhile, the sisters in the office hold down the fort and also shop for the 8 meals that will be provided during the week for 12 - 40 people. That night is a dinner for the departing missionaries at the mission home - we don't attend or cook - just shop.

Tuesday is departure day for those missionaries going home at the end of their 18 months or 2 years.  It's exciting and sad all at the same time.  We're excited to see them go on to the next phase of their lives - school, marriage, etc.. but some of these young people walk into our hearts and stay and it's hard to see them go!  We truly love them and are grateful for the time we get to spend with them.

Wednesday is arrival day - the new missionaries fresh from the Missionary Training Center.  We fix them lunch and greet them.  I always feel like I know them already since I receive their information in the office and communicate with them with a welcome packet, answering questions, and preparing their notebooks for training.  They spend the afternoon training and then there's a dinner for them that night.  Meanwhile the office staff are feeding their trainers dinner.

Thursday begins with breakfast bright and early for the trainers and any other missionaries who come to sing in the welcoming ceremony choir (usually about 40-60).  This is one of my favorite times.  The choir is always amazing!  They sing the same song for each group - a medley of "As Sisters in Zion" and "We'll Bring the World His Truth".  After the ceremony the office staff does our training.  Then the moment they have all been waiting for - who is my trainer and where is my first area.  It's always fun and entertaining to watch this process.  So much energy and enthusiasm!  Often on Thursday after training the brethren again hit the road to Corvallis and Medford to deliver missionaries to their areas.  It's a long day, but a wonderful experience.

Friday we play catch-up to all the work that we didn't get to during the week.  And then we drag ourselves home to collapse!

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Teaching and Inviting

We continue to be very busy in our missionary work. There doesn’t seem to be an end to the problems that need solving in the administration of the mission and taking care of the missionaries. With the seemingly constant travel needs to get missionaries and necessary supplies around the mission, we are often traveling around the state of Oregon.

The amazing thing is that as we are going about our duties, there is a constant stream of miracles taking place. We are awed to be a witness to the many miracles the Lord has brought to pass. When we first started attending the Springfield 2nd ward, I met with the husband of an inactive member. He was dealing with problems with his foot and so I gave him a cane to help him as he went through surgeries and recoveries. We have taught him, and he finally healed enough to be baptized. That took place last Saturday. His name is Curtis.

Sunday, we were teaching another of our investigators (Frank), with the Elders in our ward. Frank was at the baptism. As Elder Chapman was teaching, he inadvertently called him Curtis. Elder Chapman was embarrassed, and apologized. A few minutes later he did it again, and again apologized. When it happened a third time, Elder Chapman was beside himself. It was then that Frank spoke up. He said, “I was waiting to see if you would say Curtis a third time. Then I would know.”

It seems that Frank had a cousin named Curtis who was killed a couple of years ago. Frank indicated that Curtis has been on his mind since learning about Temple work, and he felt Curtis wants his work done and so Frank took it as a sign when Elder Chapman said his name three times. After that exchange, Elder Chapman didn’t call him Curtis again.

It is exciting to witness the changes that come into people’s lives. I first met Frank about 4 months ago when the Sisters asked me to sit in on a lesson. Frank is coming from 25 years of drugs and alcohol and rough living. He is untangling himself from a lifetime of bad associations. Lessons were difficult and often got off track when he talked about issues and people trying to oppose him. 4 months ago, while he wanted to talk, he stated he wasn’t interested in baptism. At that point I took over with him. Not long after that, even though we had appointments, he would always cancel. He did however, continue to text and call me. Then two weeks ago, he called and said he was finally ready to learn about the church, so we scheduled a lesson. I had the Elders with me to teach him. He was still quick to get off topic, but we listened to him, and kept moving him back to the gospel discussion. During that lesson, we invited him to be baptized and he accepted. We set the date for January 9th, and told him that at our next meeting we would go over the requirements for baptism so that any problems could be dealt with. That lesson was the one related above and went very well. It was the first lesson we have taught that Frank stayed focused on the topic at hand and didn’t wander all over the map. Frank is on track for his date of January 9th and we are all working to get him there.

Being a missionary is one of the greatest things you can do. Being a senior missionary is even better. Besides the time in the office, we work with members and investigators as well as helping missionaries. Sister Christensen spends time sewing and mending clothes for missionaries and cooking for lots of people. I make and share my canes around the state. I am up to 135 canes placed and at least one baptism that I know of. We love the work and the Lord, and plan to repeat the mission experience again in the future.

Friday, October 23, 2015

Coasting Uphill

During the transfer on October 22, 2015, we experienced the continuing blessings the Lord sends to his missionaries. Driving north on I-5 about 3 miles from Grants Pass, OR, we ran out of gas. The van, pulling the mission trailer, came to a stop as far out of the lane as the road allowed. This resulted in a distance of 5 to 7 feet from the many semi’s and tractor trailer rigs that were zooming past at 65 miles an hour.  We contacted missionaries in Grants Pass to bring us some fuel, and when it arrived we thanked the missionaries who volunteered to put the gas in but declined and Elder Phipps, one of the senior missionaries took the gas can and made the attempt.

In order to access the gas cap, you have to have the driver’s door opened, so I held the door against the constant pull of the wind created by the traffic as Elder Phipps tried to get the gas poured into the tank. It seems with this late model van, there is a special funnel that you need to get the gas in the tank. We couldn’t find it, but we tried as best we could, and despite our efforts, the gas only ran back out and onto the ground. Giving the can back to the elders, Elder Phipps asked them to get more gas, and suggested to me that we try the engine. It started and we moved back onto the road way, almost immediately we ran out again. We were coming around a corner and I decided to just let the van coast until it stopped, hoping to find a better place to work on the problem.

When the van finally came to a stop, I turned to Elder Phipps and asked him if he had just seen what happened. He had, and was trying to process it. The van stopped running as we came around the corner, but continued to roll, uphill pulling a trailer for about 300 yards. It coasted at a constant rate until it arrived at a wide area where we could safely work. As I sat there, I had the impression, almost hearing the words, “okay, you are now safe, solve the problem.”

While Elder Phipps worked on the problem of how to get the gas in the tank, I contacted the missionaries in Medford and asked them to come and get the two sisters we were trying to deliver there, and we already had missionaries from Grants Pass to help with the Elders going there. Elder Phipps discovered a method that opened the access pipe to the tank, and when the gas arrived, was able to slowly get some gas in the tank. The Medford elders arrived, baggage was transferred and we were all on our way, humbled and amazed at what had just transpired.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015


Hindsight is often a curious perspective. As I look back over the past three or four weeks with the available information that I now have, I am struck by the magnitude of the miracle that has taken place. I am reminded of an experience many years ago when they were building a Walmart in Anchorage, Alaska. They had to over excavate the building pad site by 10 to 15 feet due to the nature of the soil. They backfilled with select fill that was composed of rocks and sand. It was compacted and tested and declared to be sound. As the construction proceeded, the footings in one area appeared to be slightly depressed by an inch or so. Not a big deal, they just corrected in the next phase. The next phase noted a small difference in the height again in that area, but again, they just corrected in the next phase. When the precast walls were stood up, the walls in that area were a little lower, so they shimmed to compensate. When the roof was placed, they again noted the problem, but they relocated the attachment points and all was good.

It wasn’t until the finish work inside started and someone added up the corrections made in the area, and were alarmed by the total amount and felt there was a problem. We were called and at great expense conducted an exploration of the soils under those walls. It was discovered that while the excavation stopped at what appeared as the same material as the surrounding, it was in fact very different. Those walls were built over an ancient lake that had been filled in with volcanic ash from a long ago eruption. Over time the ash decomposed into a collapsing silt, and as the building was built, the silt would compress. The greater the load placed on it, the more it collapsed.

Small things individually may not seem like much, but when they are all connected and the total effect measured, it is incredible. This is where I find myself now.

In the end (or at least the end at this time), what seemed like a small “episode” was anything but. At the time, it wasn’t even close to the experience I had with the mild heart attack I experienced in Alaska six years ago. It did seem to be a warning though and one that should be attended to. I was relieved when Laurie called and said we had someone else to drive. Before leaving the office I had a couple of missionaries give me a blessing. The ER staff didn’t seem to be too alarmed by what was going on with me, to the extent they wouldn’t put a name to it. It didn’t rise to the level of a heart attack, and may have been something else.

They suggested I should see my doctor. Meanwhile, President Russell and Laurie were seeing to it that I didn’t overdo it and were constantly asking for updates on how I was feeling. I rested over the weekend and only felt a little discomfort when climbing the two flights of stairs up from the basement we call a mission office. That only showed for a couple of days and by the time we went to the appointment, I hadn’t experienced any more.

The cardiologist listened to my heart and said he normally would do a stress test first, but he wanted to go straight to the angiogram and scheduled one for the next week. On the evening before the angioplasty, I asked President Russell for a blessing and we had a rich experience under his voice. A lot of the things he said one would expect. The procedure would go well, the doctors and surgeons would be guided, and I would fulfill my mission. In practice, when the cardiologist got in and looked at what was there, he went out and talked to Laurie. He told her that there was significant blockage and they had called in the expert surgeon. The surgeon had just finished up with another case, and walked right in from that, just as the cardiologist got back to me. He went in and removed approximately 3 inches of blockage in the Right Coronary Artery that was at 100%. They had to use two of the longest stents to open the artery (a total of 3”). It all went smooth and with no problems. It is note worthy that this surgeon is the only one in the State of Oregon who is authorized to do this particular procedure, and he just happened to be there ready to go when I needed him.

When they reported to Laurie, and the next day to me, they used the exact words President spoke that night before. They also commented on how they didn’t know how I survived the warning, it should have been a widow maker. Because of the high dose of blood thinners, they had to close the hole in the artery in the groin the old fashion way. They put a huge C clamp on the spot, and over the next two hours, the nurse slowly backed off on the pressure. They then required me to lay still on my back as they monitored to spot for the next two hours for any leakage. Finally they allow me to move, and eventually to sit up and then stand up.

As I consider all that happened over the past weeks, I have come to realize the magnitude of the love we receive from our Father in Heaven. The mercy He shows to us and the care we receive from Him. I am grateful for all that had transpired, the priesthood and worthy bearers, and grateful to be able to continue and complete this mission with my sweetheart. There is no doubt there is a loving God and He watches over us.

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Answered Prayers

Image result for lds missionaries praying images

"Nevertheless, after much tribulation, the Lord did hear my cries, and did answer my prayers, and has made me an instrument in his hands. . . "

We posted earlier in our mission about a conference call and the whole mission praying for one of our missionaries.  It was a powerful, wonderful experience.  This week we experienced that same powerful prayer in our behalf.  It was humbling, comforting and amazing!  Greg had a heart "episode" about 10 days ago in the middle of transfer week.  We were scheduled to drive a van full of trainers and their new companions to their new area - Medford.  I was at the office trying to get some last minute work done before leaving.  Great was at the Church where the new missionaries were getting the last of their training from the Assistants.  Nothing worked for me - my computer mouse died, the computer keep freezing up,my pictures I was trying to download kept disappearing, etc.  I was getting more and more frustrated and even a bit "frantic".  I felt over-whelmed, oppressed even.  I decided that we just couldn't do the run to Medford, I HAD to get the work done.  I asked another couple in the office if they would mind going instead.  They were wonderful and quickly agreed.

Meanwhile at the Church were Greg was sitting in the van while the missionaries loaded their belongings - he was experiencing chest pains and pressure, trouble breathing and all the other typical heart attack symptoms. He began the drive to the office to pick me up. Right after he prayed for the ability and strength to do what was planned, I called him and told him we weren't going after all. Long story short - we were soon in the emergency room of the hospital hooked up to an EKG. President and Sister Russell nearly beat us there!  Them being there so quickly for us (when they have so much to do) - was such a comfort!  All indications were he had a mild heart attack.  We were told he would be there for several more hours while they observed him.

Soon after we were told that there was another conference call out for the mission.  This one was for us.  We both shed many tears as we listened to our wonderful Mission President and his sweet wife pray for us, knowing that nearly 200 missionaries around the state were on their knees adding their faith to that prayer!  The result - the Lord heard our cries and our prayers were answered!  We were released from the hospital soon after.  A follow-up with the cardiologist and he will be receiving an angiogram on Wednesday.  We feel calm  and comfort.  Our mission is not over and so many are praying for us.

The faith of these young missionaries is awe-inspiring.  They sacrifice so much to serve the Lord and they do it with so much joy.  We love them and are continually grateful for their example and enthusiasm and love.

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Moving, Car-jacking and Tender Mercies

It was an eventful week.  We moved last week-end to a new place here in Eugene.  One of the other office couples went home (insert sad face) and we moved into their apartment.  It's larger, has a garage and a washer and dryer (insert happy face)!  We are now off the busy, noisy street and in a quiet neighborhood in a duplex.  I told the missionaries that helped us move that I now have a whole new appreciation for transfers!  We are settled and enjoying the new surroundings.  The best part is we didn't change what ward we attend.  We love our ward - it's so much like our home ward in Alaska and the members are just so kind and friendly toward us.  

We also had some excitement in the Mission this week.  Monday afternoon two of our young sister Missionaries experienced a car-jacking.  There were so many tender mercies involved in this one that I am still amazed and grateful.  They were going to move their car while at the Institute just off University of Oregon campus when a man approached the car and told the sister in it to get out that he needed it.He was insistent so she quickly got out.  He got in and drove off leaving the two sister shaken but safe.  The car was recovered within a few hours because it was equipped with a TIWI which has a GPS in it.  All it took was a phone call to Salt Lake for them to locate the area the car was in and direction they were headed.  The driver had a passenger by this time and they had side-swiped another car in the mean-time.  The police were called from a gas station when they tried to use the gas card from the glove box.  They didn't know the pin.  When the police arrived they took off running.  Both were caught and arrested.  The car sustained little damage and was soon returned to the sisters.  This could have gone wrong on so many levels. No one can tell me that these young missionaries are not watched over and protected by a Loving Heavenly Father.

We have come to know many of the missionaries of the Mission and they are amazing!  We are sometimes also very aware that they are still just teens and young adults trying to figure out life.  But more often they show maturity beyond their years.  I know how hard it is for me to be away from home and family and here they are in the same place.  Many have never been away from home before.  And the sisters!  Wow!  They are leaders who love the Lord and want to serve and they do! What an honor it is to be here at this time and in the association of these young people who are willing to sacrifice 18 months to 2 years of their life because they know that the message they share is true.  It's a little mind-blowing some days.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

...Needs Be Opposition In All Things

Many years ago, I read the scripture in 2 Nephi 2:11, “For it must needs be, that there is an opposition in all things.” I noted that it wasn’t ‘there is’ opposition, but the scripture said ‘needs be’. Opposition is a need. About the same time, I read a quote from Joseph Smith that said something like, in order to raise up a generation to meet the Savior at his coming, they would need to be righteous to the extent they would have the faith necessary to greet him at his coming. That would mean they need to choose righteousness.


Often choices are made in part because it is what society expects. When society expects good behavior, we tend to follow that expectation. But is that a choice? Did we choose that righteousness?  These thoughts occurred when society was rejecting additional righteous behavior as the norm. Society was allowing additional unrighteous behavior as acceptable. The thought occurred to me that this trend would continue, until a generation would have to choose righteousness in all its aspects even in the face of opposition from society. Being placed in this position to make these choices would require great faith and this would elevate them to a position to greet the Savior.


I don’t know where we are in this trend, but there is getting to be fewer and fewer things that aren’t accepted, even promoted by society. Even some of the most basic positions, like gender and family are open for reinvention at a whim. In light of this opposition, we must choose righteousness over wickedness and this takes and builds faith.


We are in the last days as the work of the Lord hastens and as the wickedness of the world accelerates. It is such a joy to be here in the mission field, to be a part of this great work at this time in history. There isn’t anywhere else we would rather be, despite the longing for friends and family. The plowing and harvesting must be done, and the Lord needs willing hands to carry it forward. Even if that work is administrative in nature. God’s house is a house of order. In that order, records must be kept and business done to keep it moving forward. Thousands of years ago, man discovered that an army moved forward on their stomachs. That hasn’t changed, and the Lord’s Army is no exception.


While talking about this, this morning, it occurred to me that as we age, the physical and mental processes meet greater and greater opposition as well. The great physical deeds of the past are gone. But even in trying to do some simple things, the tasks seem daunting. Again, we choose righteousness in the face of opposition to accomplish the work of the Lord.

We love this work. Grandma and I are blessed beyond measure to be here in Oregon and to be a part of it. We appreciate everyone’s prayers in our behalf. They are needed and welcome. We also like to hear for everyone and know how your lives are being blessed. This work is great and the gospel is true. Of that this is no doubt.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Joy in Our Afflictions

In my reading this morning, I came across a reference in James chapter 1. We are often quoting from this chapter, but we normally start with verse 5 that Joseph Smith has made so well known. This reference is to verses 2 thru 4. I have included the change (italicized) that Joseph Smith made in his translation. It reads:
“2 My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into many afflictions;
 Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience.
 But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing.

I can attest to the truth of this in my life. While serving a mission in Australia many years ago, I struggled with health problems. About 7 months into my mission, I got sick with an upper respiratory infection. I struggled to work with it, but it only got worse. At one point my companion looked at me and said, “You don’t look well. Let’s get you to a doctor”. That visit with the doctor resulted in my being put to bed for three weeks.

I struggled with that. In the mission at that time, there was a prevalent attitude that if you are sick, you are not exercising enough faith, so I pushed through the illness rather than taking care of it. Being put to bed by the doctor only added to the emotional burden. The thing that started to change my perspective was that with all that time with nothing to do, I read. I read the scriptures, I read Jesus the Christ, the Articles of Faith, and other church works. I felt, and was fed by the spirit. I was comforted in my afflictions.  I was reminded that when we engage in sinful practices, we cannot feel the spirit. I felt the Spirit and decided mine was not a lack of faith. Maybe the attitude so many of my fellows had was wrong because it denied the will of the Lord.

During the course of my mission in Australia I was sick in bed a total of six or seven weeks. Later in life in Arizona I struggled with recurring pneumonia and that resulting in a great blessing of being able to move to Alaska. Yea, I know that sounds strange, but Alaska was a blessing. That blessing included a car accident just a year and a half after arriving. That accident had me off work for nineteen months, and learning to live with a lifetime of pain. It created additional metabolic malfunctions in my body and the attending health issues. It resulted in back surgery and hobbling around as a cripple. Through it all I learned patience. I worked for years with the problems. I was blessed financially. I was able to change work, and that change allowed me to retire at sixty. Those changes gave me the financial means to serve a mission at sixty instead of later in life. During all those years I was able to serve in the church.  Six years in three different Bishoprics, five years as a High Priest Group Leader, seven years on the High Council of the Stake. The scripture in D&C 122:7 took on new meaning.  

“…know thou, my son, that all these things shall give thee experience, and shall be for thy good.

I learned that very few outcomes are under my control. I have control of me. I can do only the things I can do. Those things I must do. Many of them come by way of either obedience or prompting from the Spirit. In that, I am reliant on the Lord. I do the things He asks of me, and the outcomes are according to His will. I wait on the Lord and His time. Life goes much smoother that way. I have fewer disappointments. By listening to the Spirit, I also am often privileged to see His hand doing His work. He is much better at it than I am.

By doing this, I have noticed my afflictions seem to dissipate. I notice them less, and the miracles of God’s work expand. I would recommend this to all for we all suffer in our afflictions.  Remember 2 Nephi 2:25:

“Adam fell that men might be, and men are that they might have joy.”

My life is full of joy as I serve Him in whatever capacity He asks.

Friday, July 10, 2015

The work is Hastening

I must apologize for the length of time between posts. We have been busy with the work and time gets away from us. We asked President Russell to find us a ward where we were needed, and he has done a tremendous job. We told him we would go anywhere he wanted us to go, so he spoke with the Springfield Stake President who thought we should be in his ward. In a lot of ways, they remind us of the Settlers Bay ward. You have all kinds of people including some great ones.

We have a pair of Sister Missionaries who are very hard workers. The ward mission leader is the past Bishop, and he loves missionary work. We go on splits with him and the sisters on Thursdays. They have been very productive, especially in light of the process that was begun the second week we were in the ward.

It was the fifth Sunday in May. The combine meeting was conducted by the Sister Missionaries and the ward mission leader. They showed a video clip that was used in a meeting held by a member of the 70. He taught the Bishops and Stake Presidents the concept of how the spirit works for us in this work. He asked them to blank their minds, and then asked the question, who do you know who is prepared to hear the gospel? He instructed them to write down the first name that came to mind. That name was placed there by the spirit. That is the name to start with. We did the same thing with the members and had them then write down that name on the form they passed out. They wrote down as many as came to mind. At the end of the hour, we had 187 referrals. Sister Christensen and myself, the sister missionaries and the ward mission leader are contacting each of the members who participated that day and ask them for a commitment to take an action with that person and have them write a date down.

We follow up and encourage them. The actions have gone from “pray daily for their hearts to soften” in the case of a friend who was having some struggles in life and had backed away from all contact, to making brownies tonight and delivering them to the neighbor downstairs, to setting up a lesson for the missionaries to teach this week. The members are busy participating in missionary work, the sisters are keeping busy teaching. They have a member at almost every lesson they teach. (President Russell has stated that every lesson has a member present. Senior missionaries can be used in a pinch, but the members are to provide the bulk of the assistance.) There are a few that have hard baptismal dates and are progressing toward them.

In our meeting with members, we were led one night to the wrong door. The member had moved to a different apartment, but the man who answered said he was just thinking about religion and his faith when we knocked on the door. We arranged for the sisters to return with some literature and begin teaching him. We then remembered that the member had moved and we went to visit with them.

On another note, I am up to 50 canes placed. I left one with a man, whose wife, when we knocked on the door, told us to go away, they didn’t want to talk any religion. Our response was that we had dropped by to leave a cane, and we would like to do that if they wouldn’t mind, so another person who needed cane now has one despite that animosity, and I think they soften slightly for the effort.

It would be an understatement to say that we are constantly amazed at the intensity and frequency of that help from the Holy Ghost in doing this work. You can feel the hastening that is going on, and it is on both sides of the veil. It is such a blessing to be here at this time of the world’s history to witness this awesome work close up. This work and the Gospel are true.

We love and pray for you all. The gospel is true, God lives and His Son Jesus Christ is the head of this church. We have a Prophet leading us, and we have but to follow. As we heard this morning in President Packer’s funeral, we should each of us, make the decision to surrender our agency to the Lord and follow what He wants us to do. When you do, you will find happiness and blessings beyond measure.

Elder and Sister Christensen

Thursday, May 7, 2015

The Lighthouse on the Hill

Last week-end we went to the Oregon Coast.  It was a beautiful sunny day.  A perfect day to take a hike.  We chose the Heceta Head Lighthouse as our destination.  It's about 1/2 mile up the headland from the parking lot.  1/2 mile may not sound like much to most of you that routinely run/walk 3+ miles at a time.  Since Greg's back surgery those kind of hikes haven't been realistic for him .  But he did it!  Slow and steady and with a lot of encouragement from the two little grandsons that were with us.  It was a good day. 

I've been thinking about that lighthouse a lot this week.  It was built in 1893.  For more than 100 years it has stood strong on that rocky, wind battered headland shining light in the darkness, helping ships triangulate it's position, keeping others from crashing on the rocks.  The light from that lighthouse can be seen 21 miles out to sea.

Matthew 5 says:  "Ye are the light of the world.  A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid."   Our guide in the lighthouse said that some wonder about why this lighthouse is built where it is.  Just a few miles down the road there is another lighthouse that sits on a much higher hill,  The light from that one can only be seen about 12 miles out.  The difference is the curvature of the earth.  The Heceta lighthouse can be seen farther BECAUSE it isn't set as high.

How can we let our light shine in a way that will lead others to "glorify our Father?"  I think we do it by our good works, by living the Gospel, by keeping our covenants.  We don't have to be higher to than those around us, in fact, we might be more efficient if we aren't.  To lift others we have to be able to reach them.  We can't do that if we put ourselves way above them. 

Everyday I see young, humble, unlearned missionaries shine their lights so that people see them from afar.  They do that by loving, serving, teaching and walking among those they want to share the gospel with.  And they SHINE so bright that you can pick them out of a crowd.   They are a great example to me.  I watch them teach others - help them triangulate their position in the world.  They teach them to avoid the rocky shores and set a course of safety.  It is amazing!  and Wonderful!  I hope I can be a lighthouse too!

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Image result for light images
Light and color are interesting things. When you mix colors of paint, at first they make varying shades and new colors. As you continue to add paint, the colors will get muddy and dark. When you mix colors of light, the light will shift colors and get brighter until with all colors of light, the light will be blindingly white and show everything with clarity.

When you look at sheet of white paper, you are seeing a blank slate. The absence of all color. When you walk outside in the bright light of day, you are seeing a combination of all colors. If our lives are the clean white page, what will we put there in the bright light of all color? In the presence of all light, we can better see the effect of our actions. The scriptures talk about light, truth, and knowledge together and interchangeably. They also talk about letting our light shine.

The eye adds a different dimension to this story. Light shines on an object and absorbs the color it is, reflecting all other colors, as light enters the eye and interacts with the nerves in the retina, the brain detects the missing color and reports that to the cortex as the color of the object. This is why the mixing of paint which with all colors added, absorbs all light and only darkness is reflected. A mirror on the other hand is a surface designed to reflect rather that absorb, and we can then see by it. I think of the words of the song, “Have you received his image in your countenance? Does the light of Christ shine in your eyes?”

In life, the knowledge, the truth, even the light we gain, shines in our eyes. The truth, the spirit acts as light and as more is combine, the brighter we become. Lies, errors, deceptions are the paint on the page, and the more we add, the less we can see. The knowledge (truth) we gain, the more light we have to share. It is in the sharing (reflecting light) that we can become like our Savior and our Father.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Pete's Story

Tonight, Sister Christensen and I were privileged to attend our first baptism. When we arrived here two months ago, we were told that the Assistants had recently found and began teaching an investigator. President assigned us to attend the same ward as the assistants and we were introduced to Pete. He is a tall slender gentleman in his mid-forties. He seemed like his interest was genuine and sincere. After Gospel Principles class that first Sunday, Pete stopped and asked me a couple of questions that I answered and then gave him my phone number and told him to feel free to call me anytime if he had more questions. Over the next several weeks, Pete would call two or three times a week, sometimes with questions, and sometimes just to say hi. Pete called and asked us for a ride to church. He didn't have a car, which is not unusual here in Eugene. They have excellent public transportation. I soon learned that he was living with a girlfriend and she had no interest in the church. She also had no interest in marriage. He was left with a choice he didn't want to make.

Tonight, we learned more of his story. He had been best friends with two other boys since junior high school. One of them was a member. Through their association, one other had joined the church in high school. Pete wasn’t interested, but they continue to be friends to this day. He continued to read the Book of Mormon, he studied what the missionaries gave him. He prayed. He even got on the train and went to Salt Lake, because, as he told the elders, he wanted to see the temple. The temple square missionaries taught him, and he returned to Eugene. He made the decision to be baptized. It meant he had to move. In the process, he also had to find a new job.
Through it all, Pete continued to read and study, talk to the missionaries, the members in two wards now, and to pray. He made the commitment to be baptized. He moved with the help of two wards. Over the past few weeks, by my count, he has been taught by nine elders, two senior couples, the mission President and his wife, and a general authority who was in town for training, and went with the assistants and another senior couple to teach Pete when he was struggling a couple of weeks ago. Pete watched all five sessions of conference at the chapel. He attended two wards, that’s six hours of meetings for the past six weeks. He would ride to church with us, and then home with someone from the other ward. Tonight, in company with two wards and around 100 people who have come to love this gentle spirit, Pete was baptized by one of his best friends who flew out from Utah to be a part of it all.
I have been thrilled, humbled, and impressed at all the Lord has done for this good man. I am glad we were able to be here to be a small part of it. There is no where I would rather be. I love this work. I love this church. I love my Savior and being able to be a part of His work. I can’t wait to see what is next.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Mexican Pozole and the Gospel

We've had an eventful week-end.  I'll cover Saturday and let Greg talk about Sunday.  Since Saturday is our "P" day, I usually spend some time in the morning getting the laundry done for the week.  Usually the laundry room at our apartment complex is empty and it's a pretty quick process - throw in 2 loads of clothes, go back in 30 minutes and put them in the dryer.  This week, when I got there our next door neighbor was just putting her clothes in the dryer.  I met her last week as she was leaving her apartment to go to the broadcast of General Conference with a member from the Spanish Ward.  The Elders assigned to that ward have been teaching her, but we hadn't met yet.  I said "Hi", she said "Hi" and then she went on her way.  When I went back a little later to move my clothes to the dryer, hers were still going, I checked back a couple of times and then finally happened to catch her there finishing up.  As we both worked on our laundry I asked her how she enjoyed Conference.  That started a conversation that allowed her to ask some questions.  One thing she wanted to know was why these young missionaries are making the sacrifice of time away from their families and schooling to serve missions.  Because her first language is Spanish and mine isn't - I try to keep my answers fairly simple and to the point. She seems to understand better that way.  In short I told her that we serve missions because we believe the message we have is true and we want to share it.

Fast forward a few hours.  As we were getting ready to sit down to dinner and thinking about maybe going to a movie after, the Spanish Elders called and said they had an appointment to teach our neighbor, the couple from the ward that was supposed to go with them had cancelled at the last minute - would we be available in about 15 minutes to go with them?  Of course we said "YES!!"

It was so interesting to listen to a discussion in Spanish.  I took a couple of years of Spanish in High School and wouldn't even pretend to say that I can speak it - the best I do is "How much does it cost? and "Where's the bathroom?" (important things to say when traveling in Spanish speaking countries!)  But I do recognize words and can generally follow the basics of a conversation.  But the Spirit speaks in a voice that is often felt but not heard.  The Spirit was there and it was wonderful.  Rosario had the Elders ask us some questions because of our "life experience" (a polite way to say "Old").  Our different teaching styles were evident - I give Primary answers and my companion expounds on the gospel.  It was fun!  And we were able to assist the Elders in answering questions she had.  When the lesson was over, she asked if we would all like to stay and have some Pozole that she had made for us.  There was no hesitation is our answer, "Yes!"  That simple meal gave us a chance to connect on a different level.  I left feeling that we were now friends.  We talked about food and connected because I spoke her language - tamales, chili, pozole, etc.  And Elder Christensen loved her VERY hot, but delicious salsa (some of it even came home with us.)

Teaching the Gospel is what we thought we would be doing on our mission until we got our calls to work in the mission office.  It is so exciting to have these opportunities to share our testimonies and the Gospel of Jesus Christ with those around us.  We love the missionaries and any opportunities we have to support and help them.

Saturday, March 28, 2015

"Angels Round About You"

Thursday, March 26, 2015
"Tonight, grandma and I have been blessed to participate in a remarkable event. At 10:35 PM our phone rang. We were asked to join an emergency conference call to take place at 10:45 PM. We were very curious as we waited and the dialed into the conference.
Elders Hyde and Boyd, assistants to President Russell and acting under his direction, first explained the event that triggered the conference and then led some 210 missionaries in a mission wide prayer.
One of our fellow missionaries had just received word about the unexpected passing of his father. President and Sister Russell were with him as we joined in prayer. We sat transfixed and amazed as we participated in this event. We marveled at the blessing and strength that was brought together. We are so blessed to be in the mission field at this time, to have tools and technology that allows this joining together possible. We are blessed beyond measure to be privileged to have these choice experiences.
We find ourselves naturally drawn to any possible avenue to move this work forward. These are truly the last days, and we have been sent forth, clothed in the spirit with power and light to share.
Join with us in constant prayer for ourselves, this great mission, even all the missionaries who labor in missions around the globe.
To our grandchildren, we invite you to strive to prepare. Learn to seek the spirit, even the Holy Ghost as your constant companion. Learn to submit yourselves to the will of the Father. He will teach and guide you. You will experience joy beyond anything you have yet or even that you can imagine.
We love you all. We think of you often and pray for you always. We miss you all terribly, and as a testament to the nature of this work, know that this service to our God is the only thing that could separate us from you at this time. Know that Grandma and I KNOW that this Church and this work are true. We have felt the heavens open. We have seen the miracles with our eyes. Our spiritual eyes have opened and we have witnessed the magnitude of this work. We pray for God's hand to be over all of you".

Greg wrote the above Thursday night I'd like to add a few thought of my own now.  What we experienced was an amazing and wonderful even though it was born of tragedy.  I was reminded tonight that joy always follows sorrow.  The  joy we felt was the power of prayer and the presence of the  Comforter as 200+ missionaries all knelt together all over the State of Oregon. Even though we were alone in our living room it was as if we were in the same room as all the other missionaries.  In my minds eye I could see angels surrounding our dear Elder who had so recently learned of the  passing  of his father.  He has made the decision to stay in the mission and continue the work.  I don't know this Elder but I love him and his valor.  We are so blessed to be here at this time.