June 27, 2021

June 27, 2021

Today is the 177th anniversary of the martyrdom of the Prophet Joseph Smith.  Contemplating the conditions of the saints and the Church at that time burdens any heart.  That vision dims with the thought of what the foundation he laid has allowed the Lord and His saints to accomplish since that day. I recently read a talk given by President Hinckley.  He gave words to the feelings in my heart as I walk this land where Joseph walked.  At times it seems I can feel him near and my gratitude for him has grown as I have visited the historic sites nearby and studied his pivotal part in each one.

President Hinckley said, “Great was Joseph’s vision. It encompassed all the peoples of mankind, wherever they live, and all generations who have walked the earth and passed on. Joseph Smith, the Prophet and Seer of the Lord, has done more, save Jesus only, for the salvation of men in this world, than any other man that ever lived in it” (D&C 135:3).

He was and is a prophet of God, raised up as an instrument in the hands of the Almighty to usher in a new and final gospel dispensation…When a man gives his life for the cause he has advocated, he meets the highest test of his honesty and sincerity that his own or any future generation can in fairness ask. When he dies for the testimony he has borne, all malicious tongues should ever after be silent, and all voices hushed in reverence before a sacrifice so complete. Great is his glory and endless his priesthood.
Ever and ever the keys he will hold. Faithful and true, he will enter his kingdom, crowned in the midst of the prophets of old.”

As this Sunday comes to an end, I can’t imagine any Sunday being more a day of joy and delight.  We participated in our grandson, Taylor’s mission report via ZOOM.  His brother, Elder Andrew Smith, was among the first group to return to the Provo MTC for training this week.  How grateful we are that their mission assignments allowed them to reconnect for a few days.  I was deeply touched by Taylor’s message, but equally humbled by what he did NOT say. I know of the struggle of missionaries who stayed in the field during the pandemic. Yet, there was not one mention of COVID. He lived what he taught today, “True doctrine understood changes behavior and attitudes.” Clearly he has carefully studied in search of principles and the blessings associated with obedience to them. He has patiently sought to know the Lord’s plan for him and found opportunities to grow with a happy heart.  Taylor suggested that the distance between our will and God’s will mirrors the distance between our current state and that of God. That was insightful to me.  He invited all to join him in accepting the five invitations extended by President Nielson in our recent conference.  I for one will need to review those first.  I invite you to do the same.

This is us with Truman, his wife Debbie and their 4 youngest children.

Elder K and I were in charge of the fireside this evening.  It was our pleasure to have Truman Pratt, a direct descendant of Parley P. Pratt, here to speak.  Finding him was somewhat of a miracle, because when we arrived we had never met him.  But we knew and loved his sweet Aunt Rebecca Tollefson, who emphatically told me to find him.  I’m so glad we did.  His opening quote will be long remembered.  He said, “Faith is the power by which the unlikely is able to accomplish the impossible.” He presented evidence of that truth in the lives of Joseph Smith and Parley P. Pratt.

The AOA Sisters at the Joseph Smith III mansion.

The Sisters traveled to Lamoni on Wednesday to visit a sweet Amish lady named Ada, and her mother Lavina. Being in their presence makes it clear you are in the presence of noble and valiant spirits. They invited us into their shop and home and spoke to us as if we were close friends or family. There is excellence in every corner of their lives that is inspiring. Lavina reported that her posterity numbered over 300!

Our adventures didn’t take us away from AOA this week.  But they were wonderful just the same. No matter where we go here and regardless of the time, we meet individuals, families and large groups who have come in faith. Some come for healing or to find peace or answers to prayers. Some are here for reassurance that what we believe happened here—really happened, which carries a hope that the prophesied events of the future are equally sure.  Whatever the reason, lives are blessed for having been here. It is for certain that ours have.

Our neighbor’s, the Barkers, returned to Utah this week for a funeral.  Elder Barker’s family gathered here just a few weeks ago and had a wonderful reunion.  We knew his father was not well, but all were surprised how quickly he was called home following their time here. We will be grateful to have them home sometime Monday.

We survived our first ever “tornado watch,” which I learned is different than a “tornado warning” which requires us to head for the storm shelter. We also experienced our first severe Missouri thunderstorm. It is an amazing light show for hours! (I learned to love lightening from my mom.) 😊 Our area received 3.5 inches overnight! As the Grand River’s banks bulge, eventually carrying runoff to the Gulf, we wish we could share some with our loved ones back at home. Our prayers join yours in asking that your fields, yards, and gardens will somehow prosper.

The men got the mowing for the week done just hours before the rains came.  It refreshed everything!  The corn leaves are open, and the tiny soybeans are peaking out in little rows. Darrel also did some more tree removal at the Pecan Grove.  They removed 11 trees with 19 more identified to remove. Thursday Darrel helped clean and organize the sawmill.  I was amazed to see each kind of wood stacked neatly and identified by name and date of harvest. Friday was essentially a day off due to weather.  We used a Ranger to go in search of the river.  It wasn’t hard to find and was as impressive as I imagined!

 Fun facts:

  1. Parley P. Pratt was instrumental in the conversion of Sydney Rigdon and his entire congregation as well as the future prophet, John Taylor.
  2. Parley P. Pratt was in the Richmond Jail with Joseph when he rose in chains and rebuked the guards.  The account we are so familiar with was penned by him.
  3. Parley P. Pratt was also a martyr of the Restoration.  He was killed while serving a mission in Arkansas by someone who had followed him there for that purpose.
  4. Parley P. Pratt penned the words to 10 hymns in our hymn book.

We’ll be back in the temple this next week and feel so blessed to attend. May the Spirit of Patriotism feel our hearts are we prepare to celebrate the Birth of our great country.

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