November 7, 2021
This week brought some “lasts” and the promise of some “first” next week. It was the last full week with our mentors and the torch has essentially been passed. I sense a vision for our group emerging. We’ve been here for about eight months, which is how long the early saints were here. It has become clear that the sacrifice and service of many from the beginning of time have helped sanctify this land and make it the holy place it is. Our hope is to do our part to beautify, maintain and improve it for those who follow.
Our focus this week didn’t lead far from home. It was our week to clean and my week to serve at the 7th Center. I spent extra time scanning the final pages of the AOA history volumes. My goal was to complete the task soon enough to share it with the 2020 missionary couples. It was a moment of triumph when I scanned the last page of the 47 volumes on Friday. There were 8184 pages of history scanned. I usually scanned alone at the office, but I finished while several sisters were at the work center. They celebrated with me. I’m guessing the time investment has been 130 plus hours over 6 months. That time helped me find my purpose here and has enriched it in ways hard to explain. Our “Come Follow Me” study this week impressed on me the importance of the recorder in the Lord’s work in the temple. I read in D&C 127: 9, “..let all the records be had in order, that they may be put in the archives…” I remembered how often Adam-ondi-Ahman is referred to as an outdoor temple. In some ways the sisters have been the recorders of what has happened here for the past 40 plus years. Now those records can join other sacred records in the archives of the Church. As I read, the Spirit spoke to my heart that this assignment was important, and my efforts had Heaven’s approval. No other approval is necessary.
Each of the sister brought their 9-patch quilt to the work center early in the week. Shelley, the lady who quilted all our quilts, wanted a picture with us and them all together. She is not a member, but she has become confident in the friendship of the sisters and felt comfortable to stay and visit for over an hour. Her life has been an uphill grind and it has hardened her. Few have paid much attention to her creative genius and shear ambition. When the first sister went into her shop a few months ago, there was an almost tangible wall. But that wall has definitely come down through the months. Love, kindness, trust, and appreciation work like magic when they are sincere!
The elders started putting the trusses up on the pavilion. Darrel helped Elder Dabb with tours for small groups of senior missionaries from Nauvoo twice this week. That was a rewarding experience and several dots of the AOA history puzzle came together for him. He helped Elder Barker locate and mark underground power and control lines with a new instrument AOA purchased. For a couple of days, he was on the regular mowing crew and then he took over the batwing mowing effort. The batwing is pulled behind the tractor. We wanted everything to look especially good when Elder and Sister Walker arrived. They haven’t been able to come since early June so there’s been an extra stir of excited anticipation as we have prepared.
We had our last scripture study all together on Thursday. That was the day our beautiful, little granddaughter DeEste Emma Silotti was born. (Nov. 4, 2021) We now have 40 grandchildren and we’ve been extra grateful for the technology which allowed us to feel more a part of this wonderful event.
Rather than study the D&C as usual, our new director suggested we take the opportunity to share ways this mission has blessed us. As missionaries are called here, they are promised, “Your service at Adam-ondi-Ahman will be a blessing to you. Your immediate and extended families will also be blessed because of your service. You will grow in testimony and in appreciation for present and early leaders of the Church. Your love and gratitude for our Heavenly Father and His plan for us will increase. You will gain a greater love for His Son, Jesus Christ, as you prepare this land for His glorious return…You will experience an increase of the Spirit of the Lord in your life…You will draw nearer as husband and wife. You will create friendships that will last forever…”
The 2020 missionaries shared tender, specific ways that promise has been prophetic for them. One mentioned the awe of every sacrament meeting attended here— in the place where Adam first partook and where the faithful will gather at the Savior’s coming for a glorious sacrament meeting. One mentioned a frequent assurance that the Lord was aware of and had accepted their offering here. I certain felt a similar assurance as I pulled the last page of AOA history from the scanner. Another spoke of being “bathed” in the Spirit daily bringing an opportunity to “feel the Savior’s love in a pure way.”
Others spoke of the blessing of growing spiritually together as a couple, and of small miracles in the lives of their children, both active and inactive, during the time of their service. I know that immersed in the history of The Church both by study of the Doctrine and Covenants and by proximity to the crucible of many refining events in Missouri has changed me. The sacrifice and valiant hearts and lives of many who have passed through this land have left a Spirit that can still be felt. The bottom line of that evening was that each missionary leaving is a different, better person from the one who arrived 20 months ago.
It was a sweet experience for those of us with a year left to see how those promises are already being fulfilled for us as well. The Nielsons have a grandson who has suffered with a rare condition that has baffled the rural doctors where he lives. During an interview, Sister Schwitzer mentioned one of their grandsons who miraculously has the same condition. That interview resulted in the Nielson’s grandson being referred to a skilled specialist and their grandson is doing much better.
Our anticipation for the coming year increased that night. Without doubt this mission has put is in a close relationship with people we would not have met otherwise, and those friends have become the kind that last forever. Their strength, testimonies, examples, and goodness have woven beautiful threads in the tapestry of our lives. This time together has become a part of who we are and assisted us in our effort to be better than we were. We are grateful!
Yesterday we took our mentors and friends, Tim and Doris Bastian from Aurora, Utah, out to breakfast for a last farewell visit. We are careful where we admit that we had the best mentors of all. They are the salt of the earth and as we mentioned in our written tribute to them, if they “are not in heaven, it will only mean there wasn’t one after all.” We have come to love and appreciate them with an affection that is usually reserved for family.
We have much to be grateful for this Thanksgiving season. By next Sunday we will be moved into our new home and have full responsibility for our new assignments. Your prayers are a strength to us as we move forward. Thanks to all! Darrel and Karen Kenison
P.S. Our new address is 21228 Kodiak Rd. Jameson, MO. 64647