We just returned from Sacrament meeting. The Spirit that pervades this land seems to descend upon the Diahman Center as we gather and it’s always a rich experience. A message from our gathering this morning was shared by Sister Snow. She mentioned that when we purchase something and then give the cashier more than is costs, she gives us back some change. She suggested that we frequently consider the infinite price the Savior paid for us to have the opportunity to return to God. The cost was more than we can comprehend! Might we at least offer Him some change in return? This kind of change comes intentionally and incrementally over a lifetime as we choose to follow Him and do as He did. In this way we become new creatures, with a new heart, no disposition to do evil, and an increased ability to serve and abide His presence. That is what He desires for us. Yet, in the end He insists that we “keep the change,” and become joint heirs with Him. I loved her thoughts!
Our hearts have been a little tender this week with the news of a great-niece being tragically killed in an automobile accident on State Street in Orem. She was a BYU student and our main exposure to her delightful personality was when Aaron and Marie York brought their family to visit AOA for a few hours on July 10th. Looking back, I realized that I had been part of a tender mercy during that visit that has offered some comfort and peace. As we were sharing our favorite locations, I felt a prompting to stop the Rangers, unload and get a family picture in front of the tall corn near Little Valley. It was a gorgeous day, and the picture was great of them all. That was likely their last family picture with Hailee in mortality. Having a canvas print made for the family was deeply satisfying.
Looking back on our week I feel a bit like Mormon, in that I can’t include 100th part of all we’ve experienced and learned. Elder and Sister Schwitzer arrived on Monday. We had our interviews Tuesday morning and our dinner and fireside that evening.
Sister Schwitzer summarized her message with her testimony of these truths.
- The Lord truly love us.
- He wants to bless us.
- But there is an element of agency that belongs to us that will determine if we will be where He needs us to be, when He needs us to be to bless us in the ways He desires. That’s why letting God prevail in our lives is so important! This is the way the right people are in the right place at the right time to accomplish His purposes.
As an example, she mentioned their 50th anniversary celebration. Their whole family was headed to St. George. They hadn’t gone too far when their son, Josh, contacted them to report that his family was having car trouble in Fillmore. Elder and Sister Schwitzer returned to help out. There were no repair shops in Fillmore that could fit them in, so the family went with Sister Schwitzer and Elder Schwitzer and Josh limped the car on into St. George. There Elder Schwitzer scrolled through a directory on his phone and felt impressed to call one of the local shops. He learned that there had just been a cancellation at 10:30 a.m. the next morning that they could have. While at the shop the next day, Elder Schwitzer chatted with the mechanic working on Josh’s car. He mentioned that his father had started the business and was over working on another vehicle. He walked over to greet Brother Hummel. In their conversation Brother Hummel mentioned that he and his wife had been praying about serving a mission and felt they may serve at Adam-ondi-Ahman. The dilemma was he had no idea how calls were made for that mission or where to begin. Elder Schwitzer introduced himself and said to this good man, “Remember my name, because I will be extending a call to you to serve in that mission.” They will be arriving next April, and we are excited to meet them and serve with them.
Elder Schwitzer spoke to us about The Second Coming. He spoke of the missionaries who are helping prepare a people to receive the Savior through teaching the gospel. He mentioned that The Church will be small when the Savior returns in comparison to the world population. He reminded us of our unique calling to help prepare and maintain this sacred site in anticipation of His return.
With all we are doing as a Church to prepare for His coming, Elder Schwitzer asked us to ponder for a moment what God has done and is doing to prepare for that event. He suggested that preparation is a cooperative two-way street. His preparation began in the counsel in Heaven when the Father offered His Son to atone for the sins of the world. Elder Schwitzer asked, “If either you or a son were required to give his life, which of you would not rather give up your own life rather than lose a son or watch him suffer?” Yet what most would choose was not an option for The Father, suggesting the magnitude of His sacrifice.
With the Atonement in place, preparations to prepare Mother Earth to become the Celestial Kingdom began. Elder Schwitzer focused on three areas that God has focused on in our day to accelerate His preparations.
TEMPLES: God desires all of His children to have the blessing of covenants to help them access the Savior’s redeeming/enabling Atonement. That is not possible without temples. The number of temples announced and/or underway during the pandemic is astounding. He spoke in detail about the renovation of the Salt Lake Temple. It is designed to handle over 6000 endowments per day rather than 1500 as before. He said that the Lord has created a greater desire in His people by taking the blessing of temple worship away temporarily. As the opportunity reopens, the faithful are more committed to claim those blessings for themselves and others. Many temples are at capacity under phase 3 restrictions. They anticipate that trend to continue as temples return to full operation.
MISSIONARY WORK: Elder Schwitzer pointed out that the pandemic has injected a whole new level of creativity in missionary work. Reaching out in these new ways has been and will potentially be more effective in the future. The challenge of missionary work has long been finding the few among many who are ready to accept the gospel message. Using Face Book data, it is possible to access the habits of users and identify those who are truly interested. He spoke of being in Turkey and realizing that 15,000,000 people in that country have satellite dishes on their dwellings. Sincere seekers are increasingly able to find their own way to our missionaries’ message and the ordinances of the temple.
PREPARING FAMILIES: The accelerated preparation began with the Proclamation on the Family. Then came the focus on home centered worship and the Come Follow Me Program. This program allows members to find the lessons they individually need to prepare for the Savior’s Coming. Parents have been counseled to make their homes places of refuge and safety. The on-line sources available to assist them are only a few clicks away on any topic they presently need. Elder Schwitzer challenged us to prepare our hearts for the exultant moment of the Savior’s Coming. As we prepare, our confidence in the reality of that event will increase as well as our confidence in being in the presence of the Lord.
That same evening new directors were called and sustained. Elder and Sister Dunford accepted that call and will be wonderful. The Elders each received new assignments as well. Darrel will be the new mowing and fencing organizer. He will be over the fertilization program at AOA, as well as the assistant over all sprinkling systems here. Together we’ve been asked to prepare to give guided tours for missionaries serving at Church History Sites in Missouri. We will have our first opportunity to host a group the first week in November and feel very inadequate. I was asked today to assume the responsibilities of Mission Historian. I was not at all surprised but truly humbled.
Friday evening, we had a going home party at the beach for Elder Seth Bastian (Grandson of Tim and Doris Bastian) who has been here for a week. I shared this story earlier, but in a nutshell, Seth is a special needs young man whose best friend growing up was called to the Independence Missouri Mission. This was the last week of his mission and he wanted to finish it with Seth. Things fell into place and Seth was called to serve for one week. He stayed with his grandparents at night. It was wonderful to celebrate the end of perhaps the best week in Seth’s life.
Saturday we joined a tour sponsored by the Missouri Mormon Frontier Foundation. (MMFF) We visited four places in memory of four events that occurred in 1838 near Far West. The anniversary of each is between Oct. 25-31. We heard hours of details and stories associated with each. I will share a bit of history from each in coming editions in the interest of space and time.
- We visited the location of the Battle of Crooked River where David W. Patten, an apostle was killed and became the first martyr of the restoration.
- We visited the site of the Winchester Cabin where the nine men wounded were taken following the battle. This is where David Patten died.
- We visited Eminence, about ¾ miles south of the temple site in Far West. This is where Joseph and some other brethren where betrayed by Colonel Hinckle under a flag of truce. It was near there that they were arrested, sentenced to be shot at 9:00 a.m. in the Far West Town Square the following morning. Through the intervention of General Alexander Doniphan their lives were spared but they were taken to Richmond Jail and then on to Liberty Jail.
- We last met at the temple site in Far West. Here a flag that was flown over the Missouri State Capitol in honor of Alexander Doniphan’s 200th birthday was raised. Then a local non-member historian shared some details of this great man’s life.
It was a chilly afternoon, but we felt every hour was worth it. How grateful we are to be here where so much history surrounds us. As pieces begin to fit together, I am left in awe. Having been here has already changed us in many good ways. Our hope is to “keep the change” forever. Best wishes for a great week! Our Love, Elder and Sister Kenison
P.S. We just experienced our first tornado warning. We went to the water plant and within seconds I could tell the strong chlorine smell was causing an immediate headache, so we moved to the HighTree House with the Browns. I watched the storm front split around AOA, meet east of here, channel back together and move on. We had blue sky and sunshine within 30 minutes.