August 8, 2021
We’ve had a super busy week and it felt so good to be back in the saddle. Our directors have each had COVID and been laid up for two weeks. It was their cleaning week, so we traded them to allow them some time for healing. Cleaning public restrooms isn’t my preferred mode of serving, but this week felt different. It felt good to be anxiously engaged in anything after last week. The cleaning assignment requires a couple of extra hours a day but being able to do something that was significantly helpful to Elder and Sister Hobley, changed our whole perspective. We actually felt a twinge of joy. (I have to admit that we’ll breathe a sigh of relief when we clean the restrooms one last time this evening.)
Darrel was back on full work schedule. He mowed one day, cleaned up some storm damage, ground some stumps and spend the rest of his time at the duplex helping with the finishing details so it’s ready to be lived in.
My week literally “floated” by. Jameson has an annual picnic that the AOA missionaries are very involved with. It is a fund raiser for their little community of just over 100 residents. Their annual village budget is $1500! Our Elders keep their park lawns mowed because they can’t afford to hire someone to do it. Their parade is only four blocks long, but AOA puts together a float each year to support them. It took hours of work in addition to our indexing, but with Sister Snow leading the effort, it had the AOA mark of excellence. Plus, I got to ride on a float for the first time in my life! I’ve walked or marched in a lot of parades, but this was my first chance to ride and throw candy. I liked it a lot!
Jameson also has an auction which missionaries are encouraged to contribute to and then attend and support that effort on the buying end. Darrel made two nice hard wood candle sticks that sold for $44! I had little to contribute so we drove to a local business called “Beechy’s Bargains.” We found some items I could clean up and touch up to donate. The $32 bent wood rocker we found sold for $75! We were pleased to invest $50, some elbow grease, and fix-up time and return 3 times our investment to this little community that we have become so fond of.
We smiled as over 100 side-by-sides made their way around AOA on the First Annual Jameson Poker Run during the celebration. I’m guessing most had never been here, and I pray some felt something that will lead them to return.
We helped with the food stand at the park yesterday. It was 90 plus degrees with sticky humidity. The heat index was 99! But as promised in my blessing, I was able to give the service I was asked and was amazed that I enjoyed it and had few of the usual side effects.
I loved being back with the other missionaries for sacrament meeting today! We had a testimony meeting since we missed it last week. The Spirit was sweet and tangible. A visitor shared that she had felt a strong need to come, so they made the long trip from Texas. This morning she felt a desire to be alone to meditate and pray. As she did, her phone vibrated. Seeing it was her mother, she answered and received the news that her father had passed away. The family had expected this news for a long time but being at Adam-ondi-Ahman made her sorrow sweet rather than bitter. It offered a sacred time to express her feelings and emotions with God. She was able to feel the love of both her earthly and Heavenly Fathers.
I want to share one statement by Brigham Young from our Sunday School lesson this morning. He said, “I hear the Spirit’s voice more often on my feet than on my knees.” It reminded me of the following story that I have reflected on again and again since first reading it in the Ensign years ago. I tried to condense it. 😊
A story is told of a group of smoke jumpers who parachute to the ground above a fire to aid in fighting it from the top down, while others fight it from below. During a particularly large forest fire, an elite team assembled for a briefing before taking off. They were informed that things were so volatile that precise instructions could not be given. They were to contact the dispatcher by radio once they were on the ridge above the fire. The smoke jumpers boarded their plane and took off, parachuted onto the ridge above the raging fire, and assembled themselves for action. They could see half a dozen possible paths they could take to begin their work. But according to instruction, felt it best to wait until they heard from the dispatcher. The team leader took out a handheld radio, found the proper frequency, and called the dispatcher to request instructions as to which path to take. Static was the only reply.
They decided to wait ten minutes and try again. They received the same results. The smoke jumpers conferred with each other. They could easily see several paths down the mountain that would put them in a good position to fight the fire, but they were concerned that they didn’t have any direction from the dispatcher. They worried that if they started moving down the path that looked best to them, they might actually be moving counter to the course the dispatcher wanted and they would be forced to retrace their steps. So, they decided to wait on top of the ridge. Fifteen minutes later they tried the dispatcher again. Nothing. They took off their backpacks and found a place to sit. Thirty minutes became an hour; an hour became two hours. They regularly tried to contact the dispatcher. But as before, they received only static in return.
The smoke jumpers decided to eat lunch and then they reclined on their backpacks for a short nap. They were frustrated, but they had decided that they weren’t going to move without the dispatcher’s directions.
Seven hours after the smoke jumpers arrived at the top of the ridge, a weary crew chief from the group fighting the fire farther down the mountain came up the trail and found the smoke jumpers. He was flabbergasted to see them lounging about. He asked “What are you doing? The fire almost got away from us because we didn’t have your help to contain it, and all this time you’ve just been relaxing up here on the ridge?”
The lead smoke jumper explained their predicament to the crew chief. They had been vigilant in trying to obtain those instructions, but the dispatcher had ignored them, never responding to their calls. True, they could see several paths down to the fire, but they were afraid they would take the wrong one. So, they decided to wait until they had the promised instructions from the dispatcher.
The crew chief held out his hand and took the small radio the smoke jumpers had been using. He then walked about 50 yards down one of the paths that led toward the fire. He stopped and tried the radio. The dispatcher’s voice came through loud and clear. The crew chief then walked back to the top of the ridge, tossed the radio to the leader, saying, “You are in a dead spot. All you had to do was start moving down one of the trails, and the dispatcher could have easily given you course corrections and brought you right to the spot where we needed you. Instead, you sat up here, and were totally useless to us.”
Often in our need for spiritual guidance and direction, we can be tempted to do exactly what the smoke jumpers did. We find ourselves in unfamiliar territory. We see several paths available to us, and we’re not sure which one to take. We have been promised inspiration and help from our Heavenly Father. But it doesn’t always come immediately. We grow frustrated and decide we are simply going to sit down and wait until the promised guidance comes. We wait and we wait, and we wait, wondering why the divine Dispatcher doesn’t help us with our course.
In so doing, we ignore an important principle of revelation. Our Father in Heaven expects us to use our own intelligence, ability, and experience to chart our initial course. As we press forward along the path we have chosen, we are in a much better position to receive the course corrections He may have for us. But if we simply plop down on the ridge and recline on our backpacks until He gives us instruction, we risk finding ourselves in a spiritual dead spot.
We are grateful to have life here at AOA mostly back to normal. We haven’t had a GA visit since early June but hope that changes soon. We are becoming more familiar with how the Spirit speaks to us personally and encourage all to do the same.
President Nelson (April 2020 GC) “It has never been more imperative to know how the Spirit speaks to you than right now…I renew my plea for you to do whatever it takes to increase your spiritual capacity to receive personal revelation. Doing so will help you know how to move ahead with your life, what to do during times of crisis, and how to discern and avoid the temptations and the deceptions of the adversary…I promise that you will be blessed with additional power to deal with temptation, struggles, and weakness. I promise miracles in your marriage, family relationships, and daily work. And I promise that your capacity to feel joy will increase even if turbulence increases in your life.”
Love and Best Wishes! Elder and Sister Kenison