August 20, 2022

This post will have a different favor as our time since I last posted has not included lots of activities—although we did take a Sunday drive to see the ten acres of sunflowers in full bloom near Richmond last week.   This blog will feature other experiences and impressions that come frequently while serving in this sacred place, particularly when we have fewer distractions.

We learned at our recent counsel that our farmer’s leases were extended for four years following the annual farmer’s dinner. One farmer noted that this gathering and the offer made is unprecedented in this industry. Clearly having the right farmers is far more important than any income generated. We don’t know where we’d find better farmers than we now have.

We also learned that the Adam-ondi-Ahman mission will be an 18-month mission going forward. We are among the last group blessed to stay for 20 months!  We also found that we have likely had over 100 tour buses visit this summer!  We were delighted!

Partaking of the sacrament in this setting is always a choice experience.  Our speakers, the Ellsworth’s, shared some things that touched me— such as this reminder from Elder Holland in regard to the sacrament.

 “We are to remember in as personal a way as possible that Christ died from a heart broken by shouldering entirely alone the sins and sorrows of the whole human family. Inasmuch as we contributed to that fatal burden, such a moment demands our respect…It is in memory of Him who asked if the cup He was about to drink could pass, only to press on because He knew that for our sake it could not pass…We might be more successful in our contrition if we are mindful of the other broken hearts and sorrowing spirits that surround us. Seated not far away are some who may have wept—outwardly or inwardly—through the entire sacramental hymn and the prayers of those priests. Might we silently take note of that and offer our little crust of comfort and our tiny cup of compassion—might we dedicate it to them? or to the weeping, struggling member who is not in the service and, except for some redemptive ministering on our part, won’t be there next week either? or to our brothers and sisters who are not members of the Church at all but are our brothers and sisters? There is no shortage of suffering in this world, inside the Church and out, so look in any direction and you will find someone whose pain seems too heavy to bear and whose heartache seems never to end. One way to “always remember him” would be to join the Great Physician in His never-ending task of lifting the load from those who are burdened and relieving the pain of those who are distraught.”

This insight from Elder Bednar indicated to me that partaking of the sacrament each week is not merely an opportunity to renew covenants, it is a weekly opportunity to make new a covenant with God.

 “The sacrament is the third ordinance necessary to obtain access to the power of godliness… Please consider that the emblems of the Lord’s body and blood, the bread and the water, are both blessed and sanctified…To sanctify is to make pure and holy. The sacramental emblems are sanctified in remembrance of Christ’s purity, of our total dependence upon His Atonement, and of our responsibility to so honor our ordinances and covenants that we can “stand spotless before [Him] at the last day.”  The ordinance of the sacrament is a holy and repeated invitation…to be renewed spiritually. The act of partaking of the sacrament, in and of itself, does not remit sins. But as we prepare conscientiously and participate in this holy ordinance with a broken heart and a contrite spirit, then the promise is that we may always have the Spirit of the Lord to be with us. And by the sanctifying power of the Holy Ghost as our constant companion, we can always retain a remission of our sins.

We truly are blessed each week by the opportunity to evaluate our lives through the ordinance of the sacrament, to renew our covenants, and to receive this covenant promise. 

Some may remember President Nelson’s challenge to study “Jesus Christ”  topically through all 57 sub-topics in 2017.   He said, “ I gave that challenge because I had already accepted it myself. I read and underlined every verse cited about Jesus Christ…When I finished that exciting exercise, my wife asked me what impact it had on me. I told her, “I am a different man!.

He continued with these promises, “There is nothing easy or automatic about becoming powerful disciples. Our focus must be riveted on the Savior and His gospel. It is mentally rigorous to strive to look unto Him in every thought. But when we do, our doubts and fears flee…When you reach up for the Lord’s power in your life with the same intensity that a drowning person has when grasping and gasping for air, power from Jesus Christ will be yours. When the Savior knows you truly want to reach up to Him—when He can feel that the greatest desire of your heart is to draw His power into your life—you will be led by the Holy Ghost to know exactly what you should do.  When you spiritually stretch beyond anything you have ever done before, then His power will flow into you.

Pres. Nelson reminded us in that same address, “The Creation required the Fall. The Fall required the Atonement. The Atonement enabled the purpose of the Creation to be accomplished. Eternal life, made possible by the Atonement, is the supreme purpose of the Creation….I weep for joy when I contemplate the significance of it all. To be redeemed is to be atoned—received in the close embrace of God with an expression not only of His forgiveness, but of our oneness of heart and mind. What a privilege!…His Atonement is infinite—without an end.  It was also infinite in that all humankind would be saved from never-ending death. It was infinite in terms of His immense suffering. It was infinite in time, putting an end to the preceding prototype of animal sacrifice. It was infinite in scope—it was to be done once for all.   And the mercy of the Atonement extends not only to an infinite number of people, but also to an infinite number of worlds created by Him. It was infinite beyond any human scale of measurement or mortal comprehension.” 

In a thought during a prayer meeting, Sister Nielson’s visiting teen-age grandson spoke of Peter asking to come to the Savior, walking on the water,  when the storm threatened to capsize their boat. He suggested something I had never considered.  He said it thought Peter was allowed to sink a bit in order to see where he would turn first…back to the sinking boat from whence he came, or to the Savior who stood with outstretched hands to answer a plea to save.  Perhaps when we feel ourselves sinking for whatever reason the Lord awaits a similar decision from us.

During our recent GA visit we were challenged to find a couple project and accomplish it together. With my current knee situation it couldn’t be very demanding physically. We felt directed to locate and clean the gravestone of John Cravens as a couple project.  He died Sept. 2, 1851, and is buried in the Everly Cemetery. We cleaned two others before we found it.
 It’s the tombstone of Dr. Craven, who was instrumental in expelling the saints from Adam-ondi-Ahman in 1838, then bought their developed property and named his new town after himself…Cravensville.

When we discovered it had an epitaph I felt it might be important to decipher. Between the sisters serving here and a few of our amazing daughters, we think we cracked the case. It was a challenge, but I think we conquered. Once we filled in most of the blanks, our daughter, Katie  located a similar epitaph used on a tombstone in Grundy County, Missouri around the same time.  We enjoyed the project so much, we are already looking for another one.

Rest lov’d one rest, our footsteps wake thee not.
Still is thy grave a consecrated spot.
Sweet be thy slumbers in the narrow cell.
And soft thy pillow dearest one, farewell.

Yesterday, Darrel and I visited the Harry S. Truman Library and museum in Independence Missouri.  That was his birthplace and where he did much of his work as President when fate thrust it upon him after less than three months of winning the election with Franklin D. Roosevelt as President.  I found it interesting that Harry began as a farm boy, then entered WWI as a military leader of Company D.  He didn’t loss a single man or horse.  The weaponry of the time became a science to him and his accuracy on his target was unprecedented.  He married his childhood sweetheart, Bess and they were the parents of one daughter.  He’s call as president left the world wondering if he had what it would take to carry on after losing President Roosevelt.  That fact that he was even a running mate felt divinely orchestrated to me.  Certainly he was born for the dark time of WWII, the holocaust, the atomic bombs, and the rebuilding that followed.  We enjoyed our visit and were grateful to study the life and service to not only our country but the world, of this extra-ordinary president.

The Truman Family burial spot.
The oval office of Harry S. Truman in Missouri.

Hopefully this post represents what we are learning each week.  The Spirit is so active here and I love it when He highlights something for our pondering and consideration that we need right now.  We are praying we will be able to retain all we are learning and bring it home with us.  Thanks for your interest in our mission!

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