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."

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.