This week has been an adventure; from completing the task of moving apartments to English lessons with the refugee family in the ward.
A beautiful shot of the apartment exterior from the courtyard
Elder Tippetts and I are excited to report the "most receptive family" from last week is progressing as well as could be. The name of this family is McDonald-Saunstaire (sauna - stair). Billy is the father, Amie is the mother. They have three children: Anna (15), Lily (13), and Vaida (10). They also have a dog named Roxie! Tuesday Elder Tippetts and I taught the Plan of Salvation as we had covered the Restoration last week. Amie was so excited to share she read the Book of Mormon and felt it was true! Throughout the lesson, Lily was glued to the Plan of Salvation pamphlet, Anna remarked how it felt her heart was getting a hug, and Vaida offered insight to be a part of the conversation. A tour of the church was set in order for Thursday.
On Wednesday Elder Tippetts and I carefully planned for the church tour in the afternoon. Come evening, the Cox family invited us to dinner and allowed Kay Fralin to join us. Sister Cox made the very best imitation Cafe Rio sweet pork I have ever tasted. It was so good, I wanted to cry. When dinner was finished, we began a lesson about Joseph Smith being called of God to be a prophet and restore Jesus Christ's church to the Earth. As it turns out, a forefather of Brother Cox was very close with Joseph Smith, and journaled about Joseph's character. The same great grandfather also recorded his own great lamentation following Joseph Smith's martyrdom at Carthage Jail.
Thursday brought the time for zone conference once again. The most powerful message to my heart was a story from Elder Jeffrey R. Holland addressed to new mission presidents and their wives. I will include it at the conclusion of this message in addition to my observations and thoughts. Elder Holland shared too a perspective on the Prophet Moses in chapter thirty-three of Exodus.
"The Lord said unto Moses, Depart, and go up hence, thou and the people which thou hast brought up out of the land of Egypt, unto the land ... flowing with milk and honey: for I will not go up in the midst of thee; for thou art a stiffnecked people: lest I consume thee in the way." [v. 1,3]
"That can't have been a message received enthusiastically," remarked Elder Holland.
Verses twelve and thirteen tell of Moses' pleading to the Lord to lead His people. The Lord's response is this, verse fourteen: "And he said, My presence shall go with thee, and I will give thee rest."
Elder Holland continues, "Moses then said, 'Good! Because if you won't be leading us, I don't want to go!'" and jests, "Actually, he said, 'If thy presence go not with me, carry us not up hence,' but I prefer the looser Elder Holland translation."
Elder Holland concludes with the story highlighting the importance of the divine companionship of the Holy Ghost he parallels to Exodus 33. You won't regret reading it, that's a promise.
After zone conference finally came, the opportunity to tour the church with Billy, Amie, and Vaida arrived! We showed them to the chapel and the classrooms explaining what they will be doing for three hours on a Sunday. All of them were so happy and excited!
The baptism of Ramona Jarvis, a day anticipated by so many, arrived. Brother Cashman, Ramona's son, has been waiting for her to make this decision for thirty long year! Brother Cashman performed the ordinance. It was such a happy thing to see and certainly such a privilege to be there.
The following day Ramona was confirmed. Elder Tippetts and I were invited to stand in the circle and what an honor that was to be so close to the powers of Heaven reaching to Ramona allowing her the constant divine companionship of the Holy Ghost, the third member of the Godhead. Billy, Amie, Anna, and Vaida were there to see it! As well, Elder Tippetts and I were surprised to see Brother Crockett again provided Brandon Williams a ride to church again. Happy day!
Sunday brought the unique experience of dinner with the Evan's family. After a wonderful meal of Enchiladas a watermelon-eating contest ensued between Elder Tippetts and one of their adorable young daughters.
Check out link below for the video!
Elder Tippetts and I are having a great time. After all Elder Tippetts has until the 27th of this month and he is going home! We are living it up!
A message I received last night from Elder Tippetts. He claims it reads, 'Help'. It is strikingly similar to the scene of a shipwrecked distraught lion on the coast of Madagascar seeking rescue in vain. Name that movie anyone?
I sure love all of you. Thank you a million times for prayers, love, and support. Miracles are happening in Wi-Chee-Tuh!
"Elder Holland closed by relating a story—being careful to protect the privacy and anonymity of the participants—of a young man from southern Idaho. One night the young man stormed out of the house and set off to join an infamous motorcycle gang. He succeeded in that resolve and for 20 years became immersed in a culture “of temptations yielded to and degradations explored,” never contacting his parents, who feared that he was dead. Eventually ending up in Southern California, he one day was sitting on the porch of a rented home when he saw two LDS missionaries making their way up the street. “With a rush of memory and guilt, regret, and rage, he despised the very sight of them,” Elder Holland recounted. “But he was safe, because he kept all visitors at bay by employing two Doberman pinschers, who viciously charged the gate every moment that anyone came near.” The dogs startled the missionaries as they passed by and continued on, “our man on the porch laughing at the lovely little drama he had just witnessed, wishing only that the gate hadn’t restrained his two dogs.” Then, the two elders stopped, looked at each other, conversed a little, “likely said a silent prayer,” then turned around and approached the gate. “The Dobermans on cue charged the gate again, hit it, snarling, frothing, and then stopped in their tracks,” Elder Holland said. “They looked at the missionaries, dropped their heads, ambled back to the front steps, and lay down.” The man on the porch was speechless as the missionaries opened the gate, walked up the path, and greeted him. “One of the elders said, ‘Are you from this part of California?’ “The man said, ‘No. If you want to know, I’m from Pocatello, Idaho.’ “There was a pause. ‘That’s interesting,’ the elder said. ‘Do you know the [such-andsuch] family in Pocatello?’ “With a stunned look, our biker paused and then, in very measured words said, ‘Yeah, I know them. They are my parents.’ “‘Well, they’re my parents too,’ the missionary said. ‘God has sent me to invite you to come home.’” The younger brother had been born after the older boy had left home. The elder brother did not even know of him. “Mom and Dad have been praying for you every morning and night for 20 years,” the younger brother said. “They were not sure you were alive, but they knew if you were, that someday you would come back to us.” The wayward son invited the two in, and they talked for the rest of the day and some of the night. He did return home, returned to Church activity, and, in March 2015, was married and sealed in the Boise Idaho Temple. Elder Holland said the young elder, without realizing it, gave the missionary speech of all time, when he said to his brother, “God has sent me here to invite you to come home.” “We are sent by God to invite His children home,” Elder Holland concluded. “We do that through the Holy Ghost, the Comforter, the Spirit of Truth, on the strength of the Atonement of Jesus Christ. Welcome to the divine companionship" (Lloyd).
Elder Holland also remarked, concerning the nature of the love the spouse has for this man, "she loves him not for who he was, but who he is."
Elder Holland teaches, "This is a story of the role of Almighty God, the Savior of the World, and the Holy Ghost involved in the work of the ministry to which we’ve been called. “The Holy Ghost prompted those parents to keep praying, to keep believing, to keep trusting. … The Holy Ghost inspired that rebellious boy to come to himself like the prodigal he was and to head for California. … The Holy Ghost influenced that younger son to serve a mission and be willing to accept a call to Southern California. … The Holy Ghost inspired one of my brethren in the Twelve, who was on the assignment desk that Friday, to trust his impression and assign that young man for service not a great distance from his native-born state. The Holy Ghost inspired that mission president to assign that young missionary to that district and that member unit. The Holy Ghost led those missionaries to that street, that day, that hour, with big brother sitting on the porch waiting, and, with Doberman pinschers notwithstanding, the Holy Ghost prompted those two elders to stop, talk, and in spite of their fear, to go back and present their message. … “And through the elders, the Holy Ghost taught repentance and brought true conversion to one coming back into the fold.”
Amazing, I say. Don't tell me there is no God and this work isn't inspired.
Fun fact: the motorcycle gang referenced in this article was declared by Elder Holland to be the Hell's Angels.
Lloyd, R. Scott - Church News staff writer; Elder Holland Shares Account of “Missionary Speech of All Time” with New Mission Presidents; 30 June 2017;