Our week was so full that I’ve struggled to find time to record it. That’s a sign that life is good! Our favorite week of every month is when one of our GA directors visit. Elder and Sister Walker were here at the beginning of last week. It was our privilege to have them here for lunch on Monday. I remember the first time we had them for dinner when we lived in the 4-plex. Our experience Monday was vastly different. They have become dear friends and we are grateful for that association. No one has more stories than Elder Walker! His experience and associations in the Church have been broad. He is quick to share them. Some make us smile, most strengthen our testimony, and all make us grateful our paths crossed.
Tuesday evening Elder Walker shared 30 things he learned from President Boyd K. Packer through the decades of their association. Each was like a proverb and their scope was wide. My admiration for both men increased.
We’ve completed the first night of our last assignment to lead the scripture study discussion. D&C 137 and 138 were our focus. Men throughout the ages have struggled to understand the redemption of the dead. We aren’t equal at birth. We don’t face the same challenges. We don’t have equal opportunities. Most of Heavenly Father’s children have lived and died on this earth without learning about the gospel of Jesus Christ and receiving saving ordinances. We aren’t equal when we die. Our study was to understand how this can all be fair beyond the grave using these two inspired sections. Most here remembered 1976, when President Kimball announced these sections would be added to the 1981 edition of the Doctrine and Covenants. Members world-wide were invited to sustain that action and soon little inserts were available to add to our scriptures until the new edition came out. Elder Packer prophesied concerning that event, “We will live to sense the significance of it. We will tell our grandchildren and great-grandchildren, and we will record in our diaries, that we were on the earth and remember when that took place.”
Although these sections are separated by over 80 years and 1,500 miles, They both answer questions about the destiny of God’s children in the next life. How blessed we are to know that judgement beyond the veil is based on our knowledge and opportunity, (D&C 137:7) our works and desires, and the intent of the heart.(D&C 137: 9) Scriptures also teach that our words and thoughts affect that judgement,( Alma 12:14) as well as the records kept on earth and in heaven. (D&C 128:6-8) God’s plan provides for perfect justice and perfect mercy to exist side by side only because of the Savior’s Atonement. I like Nephi do not know the meaning of all things, but I do know that God loves all of His children.
Friday (Sept. 16) we attended our last session at the Kansas City Temple. The temple is now closed for three months and our time in Missouri will be over before then. This “last” was bitter-sweet. We’ve become so familiar with this temple that it feels like home and in many ways will always be “our temple.”
Saturday morning, Darrel and I went to a play performed by the Gallatin Theater. The title was “Return to the Past.” The script was original, and the entire production was hilarious and fun. We’ve been charmed by this little hometown theater and the kind of talent residing in this small community.
That afternoon we had a group of past Nauvoo Missionaries arrive. Three of the couples served together during Covid. Only four couples were allowed to remain in Nauvoo during that time. With little to do, no place to go, and no guests coming, the question was raised, “Why are we here? What does God want us to do?
One was a cowboy poet, and one was a musical composer. The group decided they would identify some highlights of Nauvoo history and the poet and composer would put them to music. The result was an amazing musical fireside that they have shared in multiple states. It has evolved to include sub-titles and slides for the songs in the right venue. We received two inches of rain the morning they arrived, so their performance for the missionaries at Preacher Rock was postponed until Sunday. Because three of the couples were staying with us, we were invited to hear Elder Bonnett speak to them about Adam-ondi-Ahman under the new pavilion. I can’t say he said anything really new, but he capsulized the spiritual essence of this “outdoor temple’s” past and future.
Some come here hoping to have the location of the two altar sites revealed by the prophet Joseph identified. Several brethren recorded details of being shown the remains of Father Adam’s altar, as well as one Joseph described as a Nephite altar on or near the present-day Tower Hill. The exact location of neither has been identified, although I believe they could be from records kept. Their sacred nature is enough reason for me. It may be that highlighting them would invite curious tourists, rather than faithful saints who understand that this land has been sacred to the faithful of all ages. Just standing on Tower Hill allows one to feel the Spirit connect the past, present and future. Knowing one stands near where many valiant and noble men and women since the beginning of time have stood to worship the Great Jehovah and contemplate His triumphant return is surely enough.
We took our Nauvoo guests on a quick visit to Tower Hill and then Darrel and I came home to experience a miracle of our day. We were able to be part of Karrie’s sacrament meeting and see our grandchildren participate in the Primary Children’s Program. We joined their meeting at 7:00 p.m. our time because it was already 9:00 a.m. Sunday morning in Japan. It was a thrill for us to be a part of that while our guests had dinner in Jamesport.
The Far West Stake needed the Diahman Center for some special training, so we postponed our sacrament meeting until 1:00 p.m. We took our Nauvoo performers to the settlement area on Spring Hill, and they then shared some highlights of their program at Preacher Rock. That is where there is a natural amphitheater. We sat in the Pecan Grove and enjoyed the power of the message and the music. I loved the song about Hyrum. The conclusion is that he followed his brother in every point in life, but Hyrum was able to lead his noble, younger brother in death and take him home. That was a tender thought to me.
Some wonderful members in the area spoke in our sacrament meeting. Brent and Tina Hancock feel like part of our AOA family. We love them! Sister Hancock reminded us that the Holy Ghost will not only help us identify pure truth, but He will also help us identify pure nonsense.” That truth made me smile, but it also filled me with deep gratitude as I recalled the words of Elder Cook. “Sometimes it feels like we are drowning in frivolous foolishness, nonsensical noise, and continuous contention. When we turn down the volume and examine the substance, there is very little that will assist us in our eternal quest toward righteous goals.”
Our sacrament meeting attendance that day was over 60! We had to haul chairs from our home to accommodate all our guests. We had a potluck luncheon following and it went so well that we were all surprised. That evening we had the Nauvoo Performers full fireside in the old Baptist Church in Jameson. It was a touch warm, but we felt it being there was divinely appointed. One resident from Jameson said she and her husband had lived in Jameson for 8 years and do not remember an event there during that time. This beautiful old chapel was the perfect backdrop for the spirit and message of the early saints experience in Nauvoo. We felt it was well attended. Seeds were planted and we are confidence that God will bid His angels guard the furrows where the precious seeds were sown.
Last evening we were able to share the “full” Adam-ondi-Ahman experience with Truman and Debbie Pratt’s family. We’ve shared it with them before, but this time they had Debbie’s parents with them. It is rewarding to watch truly faithful saints experience the spirit, history, and beauty of this special place. Our week ahead looks as full as last. That makes the time go much faster than we want. We are being forced to consider plans to move home. We even know we will be reporting our mission in the Levan 2nd Ward, November 20, 2022, at 9:00 a.m. That reality is bitter-sweet. Have a wonderful week! Our love, Elder and Sister Kenison