July has been a glorious month in most ways. It brought opportunities, experiences, and visitors that we will long remember. However, this past week has been a painful finale to all those wonderful events. We were still basking in the spiritual high of being in Nauvoo for a three days when a few missionaries became ill. Testing confirmed it was COVID, although only one has been really sick. Shortly afterwards, Darrel and I received word that all eight of Karrie’s family tested positive for COVID as well. That cancelled their travel arrangements to Japan and left them quarantined in Lehi with the Janna and Katie’s families, without any promise of a timely alternative flight. Of course, the infection spread! Gratefully no one’s symptoms have been concerning. In fact, there has been an amazing amount of partying in spite of it.
By Tuesday, much of what I love about AOA was cancelled. There were no prayer meetings each morning, no indexing as a group, no group scripture study, no visit from our General Authority and no sacrament meeting. With heat indexes as high as 113, finding peace and comfort in my usual sacred places was not advisable. Our instructions were to self-isolate to prevent more spreading and let the situation play out. Having enjoyed the blessed relief of COVID restrictions here at AOA for a few months, it was difficult to find purpose or patience for them here currently when by far the majority of missionaries are fine and have been vaccinated.
Darrel was involved in a more regular schedule. He helped Elder Steffensen (his cousin) at the Duplex. They finished laying the flooring, installed the microwaves and set the toilets. He also helped with some storm clean-up after high winds took a couple of trees and several big limbs down.
I enjoyed the increased time for personal study. D&C 84 was a great section for this week. President Nelson has specifically asked us on two separate occasions recently to study it looking for insights about priesthood power for men and women alike. It is more clear now that part of the struggle of the past has been a lack of understanding by members and society in general. Clearly, the Lord revealed His purposes regarding the priesthood early on, but it has taken nearly 190 years to catch up. When He speaks of the Highest Order of the Priesthood, it seems clearer to me that He is referring to Patriarchal or Familial Priesthood Power available only in temples through ordinances that involve a man and his wife. The Administrative structure of the Priesthood that outlines church government hierarchy and the necessity of priesthood keys is something different. In reality this administrative Priesthood provides the “scaffolding” needed to strengthen marriages and families so they can reach exaltation. I loved the new understanding from D&C 84:19-22, that the key to the mysteries of the Kingdom and the key to the knowledge of God are equally available to both men and women through temple ordinances. Access to priesthood power will always mirror the faithfulness of the one seeking it regardless of gender. The celestial kingdom is a family kingdom of exalted men and women. Without temples and temple ordinances that would not be possible. That is God’s work and glory and His power is available to all.
I would recommend that all revisit President Benson’s address entitle, “What I Hope You Will Teach Your Children About the Temple,” found in the August 1985 Ensign.
I had more time for scanning AOA history pages this week. I’m now working on the 2001 volumes, well over 1/3 of the way through the project. I also made great progress on some history projects I’m working. However, with family gathered in Utah and much less going on here, the isolation left me feeling homesick on a level I haven’t before.
Under these conditions I’ve found occasion to consider the wisdom of the following quote by Rene Daumal.
“You cannot stay on the summit forever. You have to come down again. So why bother in the first place? Just this: What is above knows what is below, but what is below does not know what is above. One climbs, one sees. One descends, one sees no longer, but one has seen. There is an art of conducting oneself in the lower regions by the memory of what one saw higher up. When one can no longer see, one can at least still know.”
I guess this week was an opportunity to learn the art it speaks of. I still knew I was in the right place and that there is much for me to learn and do here. I know the restrictions are temporary and even now I can see some blessings from what transpired. The best is that Karrie is still in the U.S. and has been given more time to enjoy family and allow cousins to bond more deeply. The memories of our past experiences do bring solace and I know that the best is yet to be because it has been promised.
This morning we joined our ward in Levan for fast and testimony meeting. That was a treat to see a few and feel the strength that is there. We were delighted to hear that the prayed for rains have come to them. Darrel and I invited Barbara Morgan Gardner, author of “The Priesthood Power of Women” to be our Sunday School instructor via the internet. We missed taking the sacrament, but we were definitely fed spiritually and had a rich opportunity to feel the Spirit.
We’re counting on next week moving back towards “the Summit” and we hope to soon be back in the temples (on demand) as we once enjoyed and likely took for granted. We love and miss you all! The gospel is true. Enjoy a great week!
Elder and Sister Kenison