HAPPY EASTER! “Of all the victories in the chronicles of humanity, none is so great, none so universal in its effects, none so everlasting in its consequences as the victory of the crucified Lord, who came forth from the tomb that first Easter morning. . . .” President Gordon B. Hinckley
Today was perhaps the most wonderful Easter Sacrament meeting we have ever been a part of. It consisted of the testimony of a few of the missionaries and several Easter Hymns. It is so wonderful to have a pianist again! We learned today that her husband has a crystal-clear tenor voice. For my last “Come Follow Me” lesson, I shared material I’ve gathered through the years regarding the last week of the Savior’s life. It was designed to be an adult version of a primary program where everyone had a part. The sweet Spirit suggested it went well and that what was shared and reviewed was true.
Today wasn’t the only glorious part of the week. We’ve had Laura and Jason, and Anna and Ethan with us most of this week. Last Sunday, Anna played a flute solo during our first sacrament meeting with the new missionaries. Laura accompanied her on “O Lord, My Redeemer.” In this setting—with a portrait of the Savior as their backdrop, it was deeply touching. I felt Anna did it as a personal favor to me.
That afternoon we visited Hawn’s mill. While there we met a man whose ancestors owned a farm adjacent to Jacob’s Hawn’s property. They were eyewitnesses of the horrific event known as the Hawn’s Mill Massacre. Some survived to record it in journals. A church historian helped the descendants combine those journal accounts into one and it included a map of Hawn’s Mill based on those records. I’ve never seen a map of the settlement there and felt our meeting was more than coincidence. I asked for a copy of the map, but he shared the entire 260 plus page document with me. The chapter on the Hawn’s Mill attack and aftermath revealed details I had imagined but grossly underestimated.
Laura and Jason took the twins to visit Winter Quarters on Monday and Tuesday, so we could take care of our responsibilities with Elder and Sister Schwitzer visiting. Sister Steffensen and I were in charge of the meal for the GA dinner. Everything fell into place with the help of the other sisters. It was beautifully simple and very yummy at the same time. The fireside that followed was the best part. Sister Schwitzer shared what she learned being raised by a Canadian Mountie father who lived in a hardline black and white world. Her mother was a member, but her father was not for years. He learned of the gospel without the knowledge of his family. They learned of his upcoming baptism from ward members. Once he converted, he was rock solid. One day Sister Schwitzer informed her dad she wasn’t going to attend church that day when she was a teen-ager. He said, “You must decide whether you are in or out. If you’re in get on with it! If you’re out have your name stricken from the records of the church.” She was angry about his response but through the years has come to appreciate the critical principles of being all in and avoiding the mistake of being lukewarm. Being “all in” has made all the difference in her life. The service she and Elder Schwitzer have given together is inspiring.
Just as the fireside was to begin, Elder Dunford said we needed to quickly select an opening hymn. Immediately “I Am a Child of God” came to my mind. It happened so quickly and naturally that I didn’t recognize it as inspiration until Elder Schwitzer mentioned it was the perfect prelude to his message. He was raised half Lutheran and half LDS. He had only read the Book of Mormon once prior to his mission but he knew and loved the Bible stories.
Elder Schwitzer highlighted the five specific actions we can take to help us obtain and maintain positive spiritual momentum as shared by President Nelson in April 2022 General Conference.
First: Get on the covenant path and stay there.
Second: Discover the joy of daily repentance.
Third: Learn about God and how He works. Fourth: Seek and expect miracles.
Fifth: End conflict in your personal life.
Elder Schwitzer spoke of what we learn in the temple from Adam and Eve and what he has learned of God and how He works over his lifetime. He suggested that the best way to learn of God is to learn of His Son. To know one is to know the other. He described the gospel as “symmetrical.” I’ve pondered what he meant. I know that those whose faces are most symmetrical are considered the most handsome or beautiful. Perhaps he meant our Father’s plan is perfectly beautiful and the possibilities it offers are available to all His children.
He mentioned that keeping the commandments in a prelude to making and keeping covenants. Making and keeping covenants is a prelude to exaltation.
His testimony was powerful as he concluded. He confided that when called as a General Authority Seventy he was formally charged with the responsibility to be an especial witness of Jesus Christ. To him that meant that of all he could share while serving in this capacity—it was “especially” important that he shared his unique testimony of the Savior. He expressed his love for the Savior as his friend. He witnessed that he was confident in what Jesus Christ can do for each of us. He witnessed with emotion that Christ lives and promised as we keep His commandments He will manifest Himself to us. His Atoning sacrifice was the combined sacrifice of both the Father and the Son.
Laura’s family returned late Tuesday evening after doing baptisms in the Winter Quarter’s Temple. They were held there briefly because of tornado like activity in the area. The first several miles of their trip back was extremely windy, but they arrived safely. Our area was spared the severe storm predicted.
Wednesday through Friday we visited Adam-ondi-Ahman, Gallatin, Jamesport, some good Amish friends in Lamoni, Iowa as well as the mansion of Joseph Smith III, Liberty Jail, Independence Missouri, and the Kansas City Temple. Laura’s family was here for an impromptu fireside with the Weaver Family, who were the first of three Amish families to join the Church ten years ago. I’ll include a link to their story for those interested.
Gratefully, they were able to meet Elder and Sister Schwitzer as well. Laura and family flew out yesterday, but stayed long enough to be a part of the annual Earth Day cleanup project in Jameson. Last night all the missionaries met for our first “beach party” of the year. As usual, Darrel and I were in charge of the fires!
There is nothing that gives us more joy than having those we love here with us. Each has had unique opportunities during their time here to set it apart from the others. Our time is racing along, and we feel there is more we need to accomplish before heading west. It is our intent to run a good race, keep the faith and finish our course. (Heb. 12:1-2/ 2 Tim. 4:7) May we all do the same! Our love, Elder and Sister Kenison