August 3, 2022
We haven’t had any visitors this week and we actually feel a bit lonely. We look forward to having my cousin Kathy, and her husband Lamar, come in a few days. They recommended us to serve here. It’s hard to describe the gratitude we feel that they were an instrument in us having this opportunity. Only the spirit can express that kind of gratitude.
Miracles happen at AOA. This week the life of one of our Elders was spared twice. He was protected from a large pipe that came loose from a well drilling rig, crashed onto the trailer beneath and landed at his feet. Two days later, he felt prompted to respond to some chest discomfort and doctors found his “widow maker” artery was 95% blocked. Two stents were put in his heart, and he should be back in the saddle soon. We know the Lord takes care of His missionaries. This is the evidence for this week.
Mike, Jody, and Jed Denning, from Idaho, were at AOA last year hoping to find a water source that is not in the flood plain nor dependent upon the flow of the Grande River. They drilled seven wells last year but ended up only finishing and sealing two. Each produced 20-25 gallons per minute. This year they wanted to find a deeper source, so they brought additional drill rod. They decided to go with an old well near the water plant. As they drilled they found the shaft was unstable, so concrete was poured down the hole and allowed to set up. Then they drilled through the concrete. At 1000 feet they located a source that produced 30 gallons per minute. Because the source was under pressure, the static level in the well quickly rose to 125 feet. The clarity and quality of the water is still to be determined but at the current usage of roughly 4500-5000 gallons per day, this source alone would met the working needs of AOA. It was a day of celebration for us all. The Dennings brought their equipment and donated their time and expertise for two summers. Mike and Jody each had to license through Missouri to drill here. Their consecrated efforts have added to the holiness of this place.
Our group was asked to help clean the old Jameson Baptist Church in case of rain during the upcoming Jameson Picnic Auction. It hasn’t been used for years and to say it was dusty was an understatement. Roughly two dozen missionaries worked for nearly two hours and the transformation was super satisfying. We found that they old organ still worked, and we just happen to have an organist serving. We sat in the clean pews and sang “Nearer My God to Thee” before leaving. It was the perfect finale.’ Because the weather was more moderate that day, we had a last-minute party at the beach in the evening.
Sunday we attended our sacrament meeting as well as a mission report in Cameron. Angelina Pratt, great-great-great granddaughter of Parley P. Pratt was the missionary reporting, and it was a treat to hear her story. She served eights months in Australia before COVID, was sent home and completed 18 months of school. Then she was called to Ventura California to finish her mission. We love being with the Pratt family. They have become very dear to us.
Sunday evening we had a fireside at the pavilion featuring two bagpipe players who have been serving in Nauvoo. The music was delightful, and their message touched our hearts in a powerful way. We never tire of opportunities for the Spirit to witness anew that God lives, He is all knowing and all powerful, and He has a plan for the exaltation of each of His children. Each has a different journey designed especially for them, but the final destination is the same.
Most know I’ve been working on abridging the volumes of AOA history for the years 2000-2022. Our last wave of COVID opened the way for me to finish that effort and the first two copies came this week. I felt more than satisfaction as I held them in my hands. I felt Heaven smile and I knew my effort had been guided and was acceptable. It was a sweet moment for me.
Darrel has done a lot of mowing and bat winging this past week. He also made a BIG barn quilt star for our barn at home. The wood came from two old barns that have stood on this sacred ground for decades. Darrel helped a guy move his old trailer house out of Jameson. It was fun to learn that he was born at the Barlow House on AOA. The foundation is still visible.
I was able to get the monthly men’s work report and brief history report pulled together today. That’s a record! I’ve never had it completed by the 3rd of the month. It’s a task that has been a bit tedious and I’ll admit I did it out of duty because I found little pleasure in it. But I found this month that in repeating the process over and over I’ve become better at it, become more efficient, and actually felt some enjoyment. It reminded me of what Elder Renlund taught in a recent BYU devotional. He said as we endure to the end by repeatedly and iteratively relying on the doctrine and merits of Christ we are not spinning in circles like on a merry-go-round. “Iteratively” means that we change and improve with each cycle. As we cycle through the elements of faith, repentance, covenant making and keeping, hearing and heeding the Spirit directing voice again and again, we arrive at a higher plane each time. This ascent provides new vistas and perspectives and brings us closer to the Savior. And we eventually return to the presence of our Heavenly Father as an heir to all that He has.
In closing I’ll just share a message from a conference address from October 2019 by Elder L. Todd Budge. Our daughter shared it on our family “inspirational” link as part of our study of the Book of Job this week. Elder Budge said, “In a paradoxical way, afflictions and sorrow prepare us to experience joy if we will trust in the Lord and His plan for us. This truth is beautifully expressed by a 13th-century poet: “Sorrow prepares you for joy. It violently sweeps everything out of your house, so that new joy can find space to enter. It shakes the yellow leaves from the bough of your heart, so that fresh, green leaves can grow in their place. It pulls up the rotten roots, so that new roots hidden beneath have room to grow. Whatever sorrow shakes from your heart, far better things will take their place.”
May the blessings of discipleship find you this week and may you recognize them! We love and appreciate you all!