Our rent was due on July 1st, and as I wrote at the check I realized there will only be three more checks of that kind to write. It brought a twinge of sadness that is hard to explain. But rather than dwell on that, I’ll share some highlights of another beautiful week here at Adam-ondi-Ahman and our intend to glean every bit available each day that remains as we serve.
At the first of the week I was still on Covid-caution restrictions, so Monday I just attended prayer meeting and then came home. I spent the entire day connecting the empty pages in the sequel I’ve felt directed to compile to the conclusion that I already knew I needed to make. When I put the last picture in it was pretty thrilling for me. The book is in the editing phase, and I hope to have it completed soon. I also scanned the first book so it will forever be accessible digitally to any who might benefit from it.
Thursday I received a text from Steve Smith, a faithful member of the Community of Christ Church and guide at Liberty Hall in Lamoni. He indicated he’d like to stop by AOA the following day. I had extended an invitation to him three times with little hope that he would ever come, but this week it happened! There aren’t words to describe how we felt to be instruments that allowed him to experience this blessed land. At times he was deeply reflective and seemed to be processing thoughts and feelings. No one has asked more poignant or deep questions. As host to an expert historian, I was so grateful that the Spirit brought to remembrance details to fill in the puzzle pieces he was examining for the first time. He commented as he left, “I had no idea what a sacred future this place holds for latter-day saints.” He left with a token of two of his time here that we hope will tie him in a tangible way to this place and invite his feelings and thoughts to the forefront again and again. We feel the story featuring Steve Smith is not over.
Because of his last-minute visit, we had to move our temple sealing assignment from 2:30 to 6:30 p.m. that day. As we knelt at the altar, another couple entered. It was our dear friends Truman and Debbie Pratt from Cameron. As we both comprehended the presence of the other—an electrifying surge of joy filled the entire room. Hugs and quiet greetings were spontaneous and definitely made the sealer smile. I’m don’t suppose he’s witnessed couples so grateful to see each other that it superseded their consciousness of others gathered in the room. From that “chance” meeting came an invitation to dinner the following night for us and the couple who arrived before we made it home that night.
Ken and Jill Davenport were enjoying our view of the valley when we pulled in. Jill has anticipated visiting Adam-ondi-Ahman for years. Her preparation definitely enhanced her visit and made it a singular experience for both couples. The next morning we gave the Davenports the grand tour version. It was such a blessing to watch Jill’s response as a life-long righteous desire was fulfilled. It touched our hearts and rekindled our feelings of all that has happened and all that will happen here.
That evening, the Davenports joined us for dinner with the Pratts. What a treat! Pratts had felt impressed to invite new members of their ward to join us. We soon learned my brother, Kent, had been this family’s bishop in Payson years ago. Truman’s brother-in-law, also in attendance, had been neighbors to Darrel’s first cousin out in the Uintah Basin. Ken and Jill made connections as well. We all felt blessed to be guests in the home of Parley P. Pratt’s great-great grandson. The meal was tasty, but the after-dinner discussion was even better. Our connection with the Pratt’s seems to have started long before we met for the first time. I love being with people who have had rich gospel knowledge and experience and who know how to express love and interest in such ennobling ways.
Ken and Jill attended sacrament meeting with us. It was a beautiful finale to a trip that exceeded Jill’s expectations because this is a land that is far more significant than a quick visit reveals. The longer you stay, the more clearly one feels and understands. Interestingly the sweet reunion with Pratts was added to after sacrament meeting when we learned that we are serving with another great-great-grandson of Parley P. Pratt. We plan to get these cousins together soon and marvel how the descendants of the faithful early saints have been divinely brought together in an area they knew and loved.
Since tomorrow is July 4th and I have been preparing to speak in sacrament meeting in July, I think it good to share a quote of two that I have been led to in that preparation.
Elder Holland taught, “The most sacred of places on earth will always be those locations which God has designated for holy and eternal purposes. America is such a place.
The choicest part of this earthly creation was a garden “eastward in Eden” where God placed our first parents, Adam and Eve. This resplendent place filled with paradisiacal glory was located on that part of the land mass where the city Zion, or the New Jerusalem of the earth’s last days, would eventually be built. (See D&C 57:1–3, D&C 84:1–3.) After Adam and Eve were driven out of the Garden, they dwelt at a place called Adam-ondi-Ahman, located in what is now Daviess County, Missouri. In that region this first family lived out their days, tilling the soil, tending the flocks, offering sacrifices, and learning the gospel of Jesus Christ from on high. There Adam prophesied concerning all the families of the earth and, three years before his death, called together the righteous remnant of his posterity and bestowed upon them his last blessing. The Lord appeared unto this faithful group and Adam’s family rose up “and blessed Adam, and called him Michael, the prince, the archangel. Never before had one spot of earth been favored with such a meeting, nor provided the stage for such sacred scenes from the drama of man’s ultimate destiny.”
“Holy scripture records that “after the waters had receded from off the face of this land following the Flood of Noah, this land became a choice land above all other lands, a chosen land of the Lord… Such a special place needed now to be kept apart from other regions, free from the indiscriminate traveler as well as the soldier of fortune. To guarantee such sanctity the very surface of the earth was rent. In response to God’s decree, the great continents separated, and the ocean rushed in to surround them. The promised place was set apart. Without habitation it waited for the fulfillment of God’s special purposes.”
After meticulous preparation and precise timing. The cultural freedom of the Renaissance and religious freedom of the Reformation underscored the strong sense of personal freedom espoused in the Enlightenment to provide the ideal attitudes and environments for the beginning of this new American nation.
Our founding Fathers likely did not know the full import of their work. Indeed it was a beginning, but it was a beginning of the end. The work of pilgrims and Puritans, patriots and politicians had been to prepare the way for prophets of the living God…Less than a score of years after the Constitutional Convention had concluded its work and freedoms of conscience, speech, press, and worship had been guaranteed in a historic Bill of Rights, the Prophet Joseph Smith was born.”
Elder Hartman Rector Jr. taught, “Benjamin Franklin understood America’s role in some measure. He told his colleagues, ‘Our cause is the cause of all mankind and Patrick Henry echoed that truth when he said, America had “lighted a candle to all the world.’ Indeed that cause and that candle consists of living Christian virtues and defending Christian values.”
Elder Rector offered this example. “Japan was placed under the occupation of American forces after World War II. It took the best blood of this nation to subdue that nation—for sure. But because the Japanese were placed under domination of the United States, they were made free—free for the first time in the history of that country. With that new freedom, everyone knows what has happened. Japan has become an economic power second perhaps only to the USA. And its economy is growing all the time.
When the troops moved out, the mission president and the missionaries moved in. Why? Because, wherever Old Glory flies, there the kingdom of God is established…I’m convinced that the stars and stripes is God’s flag because of what happens when it flies. It works the same way wherever you look.”
The whole world can feel that touch of the Master’s hand through what goes out from this land, choice above all others. May we accept this challenge and may we love it. It’s not enough just to be good. We have to go the second mile. It’s not enough just to be good; we’ve got to feel good about it. It’s not enough just to be good; we’ve got to be good for something… We need to be good for everybody that we touch.”
Have a wonderful Fourth of July! We send our love, Darrel and Karen Kenison