Happy Mother’s Day to wonderful mothers everywhere! I mentioned to our family this morning something I have learned over a lifetime. Being surrounded by good mothers is a blessing and source of joy no matter where you are or how old you are. They make the best friends, best daughters, best sisters and best companions. Their influence is more powerful than miles of separation and even death. How grateful I am for my Mom and the blessed childhood that was mine because of her.
It’s hard to imagine a Mother’s Day program without the primary children singing. In that spirit, the Elders sang a medley of favorite Mother’s Day songs from the Primary book as a special musical number in sacrament meeting. Then they had a nice lunch prepared following our block, complete with table decorations and napkin holders. They each made their wife a wooden lazy Susan, too. We all felt loved and pretty special.
Monday I went to a knee surgeon in Kansas expecting to have little choice other than surgery. He considered my range of motion and the condition of the outside of the knee joints and suggested a gel injection that will hopefully buy time for us to return home. It felt right, so I am currently getting pre-authorization and have that procedure scheduled for mid-June. Our two oldest grandchildren and their spouses flew in that evening. (Ben and Sariah Mitchell, Amy and Cody Hayward)
We had Elder and Sister Walker here at the beginning of the week, so our grandkids had to venture on their own to Liberty Jail and the Independence Visitor’s Center. They were able to get an impromptu tour of the Old Rock Church that belongs to the Community Church of Christ. We haven’t had that opportunity yet, so I felt they were blessed and watched over.
Sister Walker didn’t give a message this time. She is struggling with Alzheimer’s and just being here was a sacrifice for her. That evening Elder Walker shared some tender feelings about what an amazing, faithful companion she has been through their lifetime. He spoke of her childhood in Provo, their meeting at BYU, their marriage by Marion D. Hanks in the Salt Lake Temple, his career moves and their multiple callings in that Church. She followed him to Japan when he served as mission President even though she knew no Japanese. She’s traveled all over the world at his side as he served as head of the Temple Department for seven years. We all sensed that we were part of a beautiful experience as he honored her and expressed heart-felt gratitude that she was still with him.
The heart of his message was pointed towards the new couples. This was their first experience with him. He expressed deep love for the prophet Joseph Smith and the faithful saints who endured the refiner’s fire here in Missouri in order to qualify to lay the foundation for this great latter-day work. Elder Walker mentioned that he was born with the gift of testimony and the gift of faith from childhood. He said his testimony grew every time he shared it in Japanese! He quoted Brigham Young as saying, “We have a prophet or nothing, and having a prophet we have everything!”
As controversies continue to arise regarding the prophet Joseph, he reminded us of another powerful message from Brigham Young. “I never let an opportunity pass to be with and learn from the Prophet Joseph, whether in public or in private. Such moments are more precious than all the wealth of the world…It is none of my business to look after his faults. Joseph Smith is God’s servant, not mine.”
He invited us all to use our time here to strengthen our testimony that God is our Eternal Father, that Jesus Christ is His son and our Savior, that Joseph Smith is the prophet of the restoration who restored the keys of the priesthood, and that those keys have been passed in secession from Joseph to President Russell M. Nelson. He concluded with his testimony regarding the past and future of this sacred land quoting the words of Joseph Fielding Smith. Indeed this land is pivotal in the destiny of this earth!
Wednesday, our grandchildren and I went on an adventure to Hawn’s Mill and Far West. We’ve had a tire with a slow leak for a few weeks, but by the time we got to Far West, we had a tire that was chewed to pieces. ☹ Some say a small leak can sink a ship, but I would add, a small leak unchecked, will lead to a costly tire replacement. Gratefully, an Elder serving at Far West jumped in and helped us get our spare on. Gratefully we had one, and it was full of air.
That day we experienced the fruition of an AOA miracle. Our current flower coordinator has had a rocky road health wise this winter and spring. She had felt it was not necessary to start all the needed plants in our little greenhouse this year, especially where several existing flower beds are being taken out, and we weren’t certain what we would need in the large, new beds at Tower Hill. One of the new sisters had a connection with the arborist in Nauvoo. On a prompting she contacted him and asked if there was any possibility they had a few flowers they could share. As it turned out, he and his 11-year-old son arrived Wednesday with an entire trailer load of flowers. He helped place the plants and all the sisters dove in and planted them. By the end of the day, all the flower beds looked wonderful, and we suspect that in a month, they will resemble the Garden and Eden. The Lord had a plan in place for the flowerbeds here. That plan came together in one day!
Thursday we joined our good friends, Andrew and Celeste, for an endowment session in the Kansas City Temple. There is little more satisfying that being in a prayer circle with good friends and cherished grandchildren. That evening Darrel and I finished up our scripture study sections. Both Ben and Amy assisted us with reports on Zion’s camp.
I appreciated comments made by Elder Oaks. He said, “According to its ostensible purpose, the expedition of Zion’s Camp was a failure. But most of the men who were to lead the Church for the next half-century, including those who would take the Saints across the plains and colonize the Intermountain West, came to know the Prophet Joseph and received their formative leadership training in the march of Zion’s Camp.
As Elder Orson F. Whitney said of Zion’s Camp: “‘The redemption of Zion is more than the purchase or recovery of lands, the building of cities, or even the founding of nations. It is the conquest of the heart, the subjugation of the soul, the sanctifying of the flesh, the purifying and ennobling of the passions.’”
The majority of couples went to Pella, Iowa to the tulip festival on Friday. Darrel took the grandkids to Lamoni and then spend the evening fishing in our own private pond down the road. I stay home to get the men’s work report and April history ready for submission to the General Authorities and have some much needed quiet, down time.
Yesterday we the Amish Hickory Hills School Auction in Jamesport. It is an annual fund raiser to meet the needs of their little school. It is fun to be a part of the organization, energy, and total community participation of that event. I was able to pick up a few beautiful rugs and quilts, while Darrel gave the grandkids a chance to sleep in and then enjoy a few essential Jamesport experiences. They left for the airport in the afternoon and flew out in the evening.
Here’s a thought to ponder this week from our sacrament meeting speaker today. “Happiness is an emotion or feeling. Joy is a state of mind! Joy is an attitude!”
In spite of life’s ups and downs, confusion and complexity and general unfairness, joy can be ever bubbling in the background because it is founded on the Savior whose promises are sure and who is the true source of all joy. May we each experience a measure of joy each day this week!
This video link should bring all a measure of joy and make it very clear that we are blessed to live in the land of promise with the responsibility to take the light of the gospel to all the world.
Sincerely, Elder and Sister Kenison