March 6, 2022
We’ve had a RED week at AOA. Our elders are Retired and Extremely Dedicated! Tower Hill is not the same place it was a week ago. Hundreds of honeysuckle bushes have been removed and hauled to the burn pile. Paths were widened and the teardrop trail area expanded. The cleared areas were hand raked and leveled. The sisters enjoyed the first day back in our beautiful new indexing room on Monday. One Sister remarked that it is a “happy room.” Because we are engaged in harvesting the records of the world in an effort to help gather Israel it is not only a happy room, but a holy one as well. Although we loved being back together to index, went out a couple of times for a few hours to assist the elders in preparing the ground for seeding. The cleared areas have been hydro-seeded and the paths paved with a layer of new sand and fine gravel. A few trees were removed, and several were pruned to lift the canopy and open a better view of the valley floor and offer a more pleasant and sacred experience for those who visit. The transformation in that area this past week is nothing short of a miracle. The results coupled with thoughts of the great unified effort brings joy to my heart.
This is Tower Hill today. The week’s effort was a miracle.
Much of the focus this week was on preparing for Elder and Sister Walker’s visit. I had the assignment to help clean and prepare the trailer where they stay while here. They have been unable to come since November, so our anticipation was high, and every effort a pleasure. When I heard the Walkers would be here over Sunday, I was a bit alarmed as it was my scheduled lesson. Thus I’ve spent more time than usual preparing and it has been satisfying to feel the Spirit directing me in that effort. With such an opportunity, the thought came to invite Elder Walker to be a part of the lesson. It was delightful and definitely an inspired choice. He shared some thoughts on what Jacob’s Ladder teaches us about the temple, and how it reminds us of the blessings we receive because of temple covenants? Having been director of the temple department for the Church for years, and being a patriarch, his understanding is deep. Best of all he has the best temple stories of anyone I know. None of us will forget his insights.
Since I last posted, we had a fireside featuring Kevin and Laurie Smedley who were on their way home from serving a mission in the Washington D.C. south mission. Serving in that area during the COVID pandemic was a challenge in multiple ways. Laurie is the niece of Kreston and Carol Ann Snow, currently serving. Elder and Sister Smedley shared stories of evidence that we see almost daily. The Lord is aware of His missionaries and His tender mercies are often perfectly timed and very evident. Sister Smedley spoke of what she called “nuance” gifts of the Spirit. These include an acute awareness of our tone of voice, our facial expressions and body language, our words, our touch and our ability to truly listen and communicate love to those who serve. Hearing their stories fanned that flame of our own missionary spirit.
I found the material in Come Follow Me this week to be a study in the process journey Jacob made to make the God of Abraham and Isaac his God as well. The people in the story became very real to me and I felt in my heart some of what Leah and Rachel likely felt, as well as evidence that Jacob’s integrity was impeccable and he, like his grandfather and father before him was a peacemaker among men. Perhaps the most touching scene to me is when Jacob and Esau met after being separated for twenty years. Jacob fled knowing that Esau intended to kill him those many years ago, yet their reunion was tender. It embodied a pattern of love that is most effective in inviting reconciliation with those we have wronged or who have wronged us. Psalm 85:10 describes the conditions of reconciliation: “Mercy and truth are met together; righteousness and peace have kissed each other.” Jacob and Esau’s act of peacemaking meets the conditions found in Psalms.
It took courage for Jacob and Esau to acknowledge the truth that they were not enemies—they were brothers. It took mercy to forgive each other. It took righteousness—the kind that makes right what we or others have made wrong—for Jacob to offer Esau a generous portion of what he had been blessed with. All three elements were present. Esau’s heart, once set upon killing Jacob, was softened; mercy and peace flowed back in return. Christlike love created space for them to truly see each other in a way that changed them both.
In a world filled with contention and angry, hurtful actions and rhetoric, I felt this message was important for us all.
Our weather has been interesting this week. We had temperatures in the high 70’s and temperatures in the low 20’s. Yesterday we had a severe thunderstorm and tornado watch with the most amazing display of cloud-to-cloud lightening that I’ve ever seen.
It will be our pleasure to have Elder and Sister Walker here for dinner this evening and we learned a few days ago that Elder Gong will stop by for a short visit in the morning. He will be the first apostle to visit with time to mingle with us. Next week promises to be highlight of our mission. Our Love: Elder and Sister Kenison