With General Conference yesterday, our hearts are full of gratitude. As the world becomes increasingly regulated—inviting dependency and discouraging personal choice common sense problem solving—the trend in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is polar opposite. There is clear emphasis on each individual accessing power from the Savior and developing greater spiritual self-reliance with an increased ability to seek, understand, and follow divine direction. The changes in the Youth Program are evidence of our need to understand correct doctrine and principles so we can govern ourselves in more holy ways despite living in an increasingly chaotic, dark world.
We paid our last rent payment this week and I indexed my first record that was clearly a same gender marriage certificate. Darrel and Elder Steffensen began breaking ground for a new restroom at Tower Hill. The footings will be poured tomorrow. He also helped remove layers of old shingles at the 4-plex in preparation for a new roof. The 14 men serving do an amazing amount of work in a week. Those visiting the East Entrance now have a more open, beautiful view of the Adam-ondi-Ahman valley, with two magnificent rocks exposed that remind us all of Preacher Rock.
We have come to love the people here. Of course the Amish are easy to admire and appreciate because their devotion to God prompts them to live simple, exemplary Christian lives. Their priorities are evident. Their disciplined lives, love of family, and devotion to what they believe are a fascination to most. We came across a video entitled “Amish Grace” that depicts a tragedy among a congregation in Pennsylvania that I recall very well. President Faust made it the focus of his conference address in April 2007. A link to both as included below.
We have also come to love the people common people of Missouri. Heather Burke Cody beautifully described a community similar to what we’ve found prevalent here. The core of the following are her words. We have lived in a rural town of blue-collared workers and kind-hearted people. The backdrop is dirt roads and chicken houses and old cars atop cinder blocks. Here are your everyday good people who work in fields and factories and farms. The kind of people who tote babies and Bibles and share open smiles at Walmart. The kind of people who drink a little beer on Saturday night, but love Jesus and know He is a friend. The kind of people who may not attend church regularly, but live by the Golden rule and manifest fierce loyalty to God, family and country. The kind of people who fly the U.S. flag with pride, whose political persuasions are evident on bumper stickers and original yard signs. The kind of people whose lives center on youth sporting events, who not only cheer but often coach league teams. The kind of people whose word is their bond, who respect closed gates, and would give you the paint-splattered t-shirt right off their back if you needed it. We will truly miss the dear friends we have made here.
Last Monday we had the opportunity to share AOA with Kaye Mitchell’s sister, Rachel Dansie and her group. (Kaye is a dear friend from Levan.) It’s amazing that in less than three hours shared together in this sacred land complete strangers become dear friends. This was a group of adults traveling to see Church Historical sites with a five-year-old. Realizing this, I felt a need to make Emmalynn’s visit here one she would always recall with fondness. That is difficult as children in general don’t comprehend the spiritual significance of this place, nor are they overly impressed by beautiful gardens. We have what we call our “Keebler Tree” here, because it is completely hallow with a small elf-sized entrance into the trunk. I had the thought to gather, from what I already had on hand, a surprise for Emmalynn to be placed inside. What a delight it was to watch her discover the bright yellow bag with her name on it tucked inside. The wonder of her parents’ faces, and quick glances of gratitude convinced me that it was an inspired plan.
Friday we decided to take a “Fun Bus” tour of Kansas City with three other couples. The history of this city is colorful and tales of the wild west at the turn of the century were real life for those living here. I was surprised at the number of influential people who found Kansas City their home, including Walt Disney, Walter Cronkite and Harry Truman. It is a city of beautiful fountains, second only to Paris in number. I was most impressed with the rich art, wonderfully preserved history and prestigious medical campuses and facilities. Of course, I never tire of crossing the Missouri River. There is a power and rugged beauty that captivates me.
We attended a fireside on Friday evening on the different editions of the Book of Mormon. The presenter was Ryan Daley, who is a local member. There have been 180 editions of the Book of Mormon since it’s translation, (five within Joseph’s lifetime) and over 800 printings! We got a glimpse of our history we had not been aware of. It proved a witness of the divine origin of the Book of Mormon and its God-governed success. Here’s one example. Most are aware of the struggle to determine property ownership between Brigham Young and Emma following Joseph’s death. Joseph took out a copyright on the Book of Mormon as a man, not as a prophet. The copyright was obtained before the Church was organized and therefore all rights to that book and its future printing belonged to Emma. I was not at all aware of this fact! The JST work was recorded in the Smith family Bible, so rights to that work remained with Emma as well.
History assures that successful religious movements of all ages depend on availability of the holy texts that binds them. Nephi and his brother’s return to Jerusalem for the Brass Plates is evidence of this.
Or course the property rights disputes were no surprise to the Lord. It was inspiring to see what He did to assure accessibility during the decades that followed. When Parley P. Pratt, Brigham Young and Heber C. Kimball were sent on a mission to England in 1841, Joseph admonished them to obtain a copyright of the Book Mormon for the Church in Liverpool. Using the 1837 edition, they did as counseled. Thus, the Church still had access to this sacred text through books printed in England and shipped to the Rocky Mountains. This pattern continued until Joseph’s original copyright expired.
With conference fresh on our minds, there is probably little need to share any words of inspiration, but I there’s a thought or two that touched me this week. The first was shared by our daughter and is a powerful video clip put out by the Church. It’s theme aligns perfectly with the over arching theme of conference thus far, so I’ve included it.
A second thought came from an article by Elder Andersen in the June 2012 Ensign. One of the Sisters shared it in a morning prayer meeting this week.
Elder Anderson said, “Our spiritual journey is the process of a lifetime. We do not know everything in the beginning or even along the way. Our conversion comes step by step, line upon line. We first build a foundation of faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. We treasure the principles and ordinances of repentance, baptism, and receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost. We include a continuing commitment to prayer, a willingness to be obedient, and an ongoing witness of the Book of Mormon…
At times, the Lord’s answer will be, “You don’t know everything, but you know enough”—enough to keep the commandments and to do what is right….We each have moments of spiritual power, moments of inspiration and revelation. We must sink them deep into the chambers of our souls. As we do, we prepare our spiritual home storage for moments of personal difficulty…Through the years we take these important spiritual steps over and over again. We begin to see that “he that receiveth light, and continueth in God, receiveth more light; and that light groweth brighter and brighter until the perfect day” (D&C 50:24) Our questions and doubts are resolved or become less concerning to us. Our faith becomes simple and pure. We come to know what we already knew.”
This week will find us at Winter Quarter’s again. May this week find us all remembering and reviewing the moments in conference and each day when we “hear” His voice.
P.S. We are so grateful Hurricane Ian swung wide and the main storm missed Jake’s home and family in Florida. There was a high storm surge, but his home was protected, although he had a temporary lake in his yard.