So much has happened since I last posted, that it is more than a single post can cover, but I plan to try.
This morning a delegation of sisters from AOA attended the funeral of a young man from the Gallatin Ward who was killed a week ago. This tragedy has rocked the whole area and although we don’t attend the ward, we felt it would help for the family and others to know that we care and know that families are forever. The accident happened after a youth activity and involved three young men. The car was T-boned on the way home, and the driver was killed. He was the R.S. President’s youngest son and everyone in the ward knew he and the Bishop’s daughter were forever sweethearts. He had just turned in his mission papers and was waiting for his call. A second young man had a broken femur, pelvis and jaw. He was life-flighted to Kansas City. Following two surgeries, he is miraculously home. We sat behind the 3rd young man who essentially walked away with only a broken sternum. We know his mother quite well and were grateful his life was divinely protected. Studying the life of Job in “Come Follow Me” last week was a blessing to many struggling to make sense of this tragic situation. I loved Elder Renlund’s article in the August 2022 Liahona. Amid Job’s darkest days, and after weeks of discussion with this friends, the Lord finally answer’s Job’s pleading with a series of 66+ questions which he couldn’t answer. He also chided Job for the lengthy discussions that proved to be more hurtful than good because they lacked knowledge, wisdom and perspective that only God has. Elder Renlund concluded, “It was as if God patiently and kindly said to Job, ‘If you cannot answer even one of my questions about the earth that I have created, is it possible that eternal laws exist that you do not understand? Are there assumptions you have made that are invalid? Do you understand my motives and how the Plan of Salvation and Exaltation works? And can you foresee your future destiny?’ God in His wisdom knows that a vital part of our mortal experience is to NOT know everything. There is something about trusting Him that allows us to progress to become like Him.”
Darrel and I enjoyed a Zoom fireside last Wednesday evening discussing the new Daguerreotype photo found in a locket of one of Joseph Smith’s direct descendants. It featured the scholarship of Dan Larsen and Lach Mackay who are prominent members of the Community Church of Christ. We met Lach in Nauvoo in July. We found their research interesting and well done. It was most interesting that the Smith women photos available show them wearing a locket that was likely the one recently opened. Emma wore it the day she married Lewis Bidamon. Photos of her daughter-in-law and oldest granddaughter featured this or a similar locket. Their research included both subjective and objective facial analysis using face recognition technology of today. It compared the photo with the death mask and portrait that Joseph Smith III felt most captured his father’s likeness. Nineteen of the 21 points considered fell into the 95% confidence range that this is an early image of Joseph, likely produced just weeks prior to his death. Although it makes no difference whether it is authentic or not in validating all that Joseph gave his life for, we did find it fascinating, and each came to the conclusion that it is very likely Joseph.
Kathy and Lamar Losee made it to our house on Friday evening. We took them on a drive of Adam-ondi-Ahman first thing and found great satisfaction in them seeing how the work of maintaining, improving and beautifying the land has moved forward since they were released in Sept. 2018. They stayed through Monday morning, and we loved every minute of it.
Saturday was the Jameson parade, picnic and auction. Our float was one of two this year and shared a message of generational families being tied together for eternity. I got to be the photographer along the parade route this year and that put in my comfort zone! The quilt the AOA sisters pieced together sold for $1000! The Jameson auction brought in more money this year than any previously. That brought us a measure of joy.
Sunday evening we had a fireside featuring Odell Burton. He is a fine black man who was born in St. Joseph, Missouri and raised by a 7th Day Adventist Minister. He joined the Airforce at age 17 and never returned home. He knew the Book of Mormon was true long before he joined. Two missionaries found in while serving in the military in Hawaii, but he wanted the priesthood. He pursued two other careers while waiting for word that the priesthood was available to every worthy man. In September 1977 he sat pondering his desire for membership and God’s power at a point in his life when he was near rock bottom. He heard a voice whisper, “Don’t worry, soon you’ll hold the priesthood and be a member.”
He recalled he was watching a baseball game in June 1978 when the news was flashed on a ribbon at the bottom of the screen. He went immediately to the yellow pages and called the first LDS Church he found. It took them two weeks to get together. He was a golden contact and was baptized and received the priesthood one year to the month of his personal revelation. He was among the first of his race to receive the priesthood and go to the temple. He shared some amazing and heart wrenching stories from his life. He turned 85 on Aug. 8, 2022. His conclusion was that 98% of honest prayers are answered. He was born knowing there was a supreme bearing and when he heard His voice, he hung on to is and never let go!
Monday for FHE we enjoyed hearing from Kathy Black, a former AOA missionary with a masters in archeology. She shared her experiences with archeological digs in Nauvoo as well as how archeology in Central America has added external evidence that the Book of Mormon is true. Elder Schwitzer was here that evening and mentioned his gratitude for the work of archeologists. He mentioned that one of the great stumbling blocks in the Church today is members digging up things of the past and then judging them by today’s context. Work to help us discover and understand the past, reminds us again and again that things of the past must be viewed through the lens of that day, or they will lead us away from truth.
With our GA here, we were blessed to hear from both Elder and Sister Schwitzer. What I loved most about Sister Schwitzer’s counsel was “Do what you do the best you can, but rejoice in others who can do it better!”
Elder Schwitzer spoke of Adam and Eve and their role in God’s plan. He mentioned Adam’s role as Michael in he pre-existence as found in Revelations 12: 7, 9-11. He pointed out three weapons used to defeat “the dragon” in the war in heaven as outlined in Rev. 12:11.
- The Blood of the Lamb (Clearly the Atonement of Jesus Christ that frees us from the bondage of sin.)
- The word of their testimony (The process of identifying, receiving and aligning our lives with truth.
- Loving not our lives unto death (Entering and abiding in the Law of Consecration as we learn to submit our will to God and allow Him to prevail in our lives)
He concluded that those same weapons would serve us well today as we face the challenges leading up to the Savior’s return. He challenged us to study the 2nd verse of Hymn # 48 looking for principles that offer the promised of peace and health. He counseled us to never forget that Adam, who the Savior called a prince and archangel in D&C 107:54-56, will also return spoken to Spring Hill and Adam-ondi-Ahman.
How we love this land, the good people here, and our hope of being here one day with the faithful of all ages. May God bless us all to that end! Sincerely, Darrel and Karen K