September 25, 2022

Autumn is disorienting to me in Missouri.  By Sept. 25, I expect to see breathtaking evidence that Fall has arrived, but that’s not the case here.  Part of the week we were still in the 90’s and it doesn’t cool down at night here like it does in Utah.  When the wind blows,  leaves flutter to the ground, but they often don’t change colors before that.  There has been a morning or two were the air is crisp, but the 98% humidity gives that experience a whole new twist.

Despite that we have had another great week. On Tuesday President and Sister Rindlisbacher arrived from Utah.  They went to great lengths to be here and share a fireside with us featuring their experiences with North Korea. President Rindlisbacher spoke for two hours, but his stories were so gripping that no one had noticed the time pass.  What an adventure he has had serving as an instrument for the Lord in bringing hope and nutrition to the wonderful common people trapped there.

Some he shared was somewhat in confidence due to the sensitive nature of the work.  Therefore, I will just share an excerpt from what is recorded in the AOA history concerning this fireside.

“…The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints sent grain to North Korea following the drought of 1998.  42,000 apple trees were later sent, but with a population of 29,000,000 more was needed.  When their “Dear Leader, Kim Jong-un” envisioned a dairy and beef cattle project, the Church was able to step in.  Elder Rindlisbacher was asked to assist.  He has made many trips to North Korea.  First alfalfa fields were established.  Then black angus embryos from Nephi, Utah were taken in a semen tank to be implanted in the ancient, sickly, breed of cattle there.  Elder Rindlisbacher shared miracle after miracle performed by the Lord to see this project through.  We saw pictures of the first robust, healthy calves feeding in the field with their host mothers. We felt a sense of the immensity of good the Church is involved in.  We are a part of something bigger and grander than we imagined.  Of roughly 198 countries in the world, the Church has contacts and projects in 194.  The stone Daniel saw is definitely growing to fill the earth.”

I was able to go help with Missouri Star Quilt Company’s 14th birthday bash on Friday evening.  Some of the sisters were more impressed with the opportunity than me, but I did see Jenny and Ron Doan.  I greeted guest and took tickets for  a “trunk show” featuring Tammy Reid’s quilt collection.  She is the wife of  Andy Reid, head football coach of the Kansas City Chiefs.  This alone should make it clear that quilting is an expensive hobby, that is addictive with no known cure!

We were fortunate to have Troy and Trish Rindlisbacher take one of our scripture study nights this week, but our final night arrived on Thursday.  We covered D&C 138.  It had never occurred to me that there was no proxy work for the dead, and no organized missionary work in the spirit world prior to the Savior’s resurrection.  This made the excitement of the righteous gathered palpable for me.  Prior to this revelation no one really knew where Christ was while His body lay in a borrowed tomb.

“We speak to God through prayer, and He speaks to us through scripture” certainly held true for President Joseph F. Smith, who had pondered on the words of the ancient apostle, Peter for five months. (See 1 Peter 3:18-19 and 1 Peter 4:6)  What was equally exciting to understand is that seeking answers in the scriptures invites revelation, in this case a series of visions that revealed a great deal about the spirit world, missionary world beyond the veil, as well as identifying specific individuals who have qualified for the celestial kingdom in every dispensation and what they have in common.

President’s Smith saw that the spirits of the righteous “assembled awaiting the advent of the Son of God following His crucifixion into the spirit world.  While the Savior’s death was a time of grief and sorrow for his disciples on earth, His disciples in the spirit world were “rejoicing in the hour of their deliverance,” and “among the righteous there was peace.” The ministry of Jesus Christ in Palestine touched hearts and minds in a small corner of the world, but Christ’s ministry in the spirit world began a work that would eventually reach into every culture, country, and climate.  This following is a brief clip representing this visit.

Friday evening, Darrel and I met some missionary friends from the Independence Mission for dinner and then attended a fireside featuring the life of Lyman Wight.  His name is common at Adam-ondi-Ahman as he was the first saint to purchase land here.  The farm he bought from Adam Black included Tower Hill.  He also built the ferry that is still marked, and is not far from the old cobblestone road made by the saints. He was in Liberty Jail with Joseph and others for the entire time, even though he was offered a way out if he was willing to deny his testimony and betray Joseph.  He chose to endure perhaps the worst winter of his life rather than do that.  Lyman was a missionary in Jackson County and his family was driven from there by the mobs.  His wife gave birth in a quilt covered lean-to while waiting to hear if Lyman had been killed by the mob. Lyman was prominent in Far West and Adam-ondi-Ahman.  He became an Apostle at the death of David W. Patten in the Battle of Crooked River.  Yet, after all this, he led a sizable group to settle in Texas and was excommunicated.    He built a temple in Zodiak. He, like the Whitmers, was so instrumental in the early days of the restoration. I’ve wondered what happened to him and to his family.  Through the letters of his oldest son, the presenter of the fireside who is a direct descendant concluded that Lyman was a proud, determined and stubborn man.  He did not see eye to eye with Brigham Young and refused to follow the counsel of the brethren.  I was pleased to learn that many of this descendants made their way back into the Church.  His oldest son included his testimony in his letter.  He wrote: “Now you can see from what I have written that I was with the Prophet Joseph Smith most of the time from the year The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was organized to the year of his martyrdom and can in good faith bear my testimony that he was a Prophet appointed to take charge of this dispensation.  He taught by inspiration and revelation  direct from God, the Eternal Father in the name of Jesus Christ, the Beloved Son of the Father, the God of Israel.  With me there is no hearsay, my information as you can see is direct.”

Saturday night we enjoyed another evening at the beach with some other missionary couples.  The weather was kind, the hotdog was okay, and the company was completely enjoyable. 

This week we were reminded of a commandment repeated 76 times in the scriptures.  The injunction contains only two words, “FEAR NOT.”  The fear spoken of is “irrational fear” or “fear of the unknown,” a fear of future events that will not likely occur. I loved that the letters of the word “fear” itself reveal its insidious nature. FEAR: “False Evidence Appearing Real.”  This is the type of fear that Satan seeks to induce in us. It is debilitating, sometimes paralyzing, and almost always soul- and energy-sapping.

Elder Kevin J. Worthen said, “Fear is the antithesis of faith. I am convinced that just as we have articles of faith, Satan and his minions have articles of fear to aid them in their work. They might read something like this: “We believe that the first principles of despair and damnation are doubt God, doubt yourself, doubt others, and, most of all, be afraid—be very afraid of the future.”

Faith is a “principle of action. It grows and operates in our lives only when we are willing to exercise our agency in an active way. If we want to increase our faith in a way that dispels our fears, we need to act. And often the best way to act is to serve others.  Faith is not only a feeling.  It is a decision. Faith is a choice.  For the full talk google BYU Speeches/Fear Not/ Kevin Worthen.

This evening we were able to host a Parley P. Pratt cousin dinner.  Truman and Debbie Pratt came to meet Merrill and Sandra Swasey who are serving at AOA currently.  Truman and Merrill are both direct descendants of Parley whose missionary zeal has few equals.   They shared stories and we visited for two hours.  It was a lovely evening. May we chose faith and not fear each day but sharing what we have that blesses our lives so much!  

Our love, Elder and Sister Kenison

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