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Sunday, October 23, 2016

Plan of Salvation and Running

When I was in my 30's and 40's, I was a runner.  I ran between 5 and 10 miles 6 days a week. Occasionally, on a Saturday, I would enter a race.

Now how is this like the Plan of Salvation?

Before a race I would prepare.  I would run, I would make sure my shoes fit and were not too worn, I would eat the right kind of food, and be rested.  These were all choices I had to make if I wanted to have a good race.

This is like before we came to earth, the preexistence.  That was the time for us to prepare to come to earth.  We were taught the things Heavenly Father wanted us to learn so that we could return to Him.  Some received more light and knowledge because they were valiant, they worked hard and prepared.  Like here on earth, we all had our agency to choose.

Finally, race day arrived.  It was exciting.  What would the race be like?  Who would be there?  Would I know anyone?  What would the course be like?  How would I do?  Had I prepared enough for the race?

I'm sure when our time had arrived to come to earth we were excited.  We shouted for joy.  We would receive our body, we would have new experiences, and would make our own choices.  Had we prepared ourselves for what was ahead?

During the race, I would put forth my best effort.  The course was set and marked.  All I had to do was stay true to the course and look ahead for obstacles that could create a hazard.

The Straight and Narrow Path

Some of the racers would run with their heads down not realizing the dangers ahead.  They would stumble and fall. Others would be tempted to look to the right or left and see people having fun and would slow down or join them.

At times, I would feel like quitting, I was tired, or thirsty, or hurting.  But, I knew what I needed to do.  Once in awhile, I would see someone struggling to finish the race.  I could offer a word of of encouragement.  I knew I had to finish the race and wanted the same for the other runners.

That is like life.  We know the course we need to take.  Jesus Christ set a perfect example for us to follow.  We need to follow the commandments and the teachings of the Prophets.  We must not be enticed by things of the world that can prevent us from returning to our Heavenly Father.  We will have trials and feel like giving up.  The course is straight and narrow, but we can have the Holy Ghost to be with us and to guide us.

Upon completing the race, I would learn how I did.  Would I be happy or disappointed?  There was no going back to do it again if I wasn't pleased with my time.  My chance was over.

Like this, life is our chance....our only chance.  There is no "do over."  The reward is the greatest gift we can receive from our Heavenly live with Him again.

Sunday, October 16, 2016

"It's the Hardest Thing I Have Ever Loved to Do"

I was visiting with a dear friend, Paula Williams, today.  She is one of the wisest, funniest, kindest, and dearest friend I could be blessed to know.  She is always happy and positive.

At the time we were planning on going on a mission, they had a family emergency that required them to move from Payson to the Valley.   For the last year and a half they have been taking care of their daughter's children while she is completing her nursing degree.  At the time they began as permanent babysitters, the children were 9 (girl), 6 (boy), and twin 1 1/2 year olds (girls).

Besides taking care of the children, they also are the primary care givers for Paula's 90 year old mother.  Paula and I are the same age, so I know it is not easy.

Now you can understand why I admire Paula.  Paula and her husband, Morris, are true disciples of the Lord.   Elder Bednar has spoken about DOING the Lords work, but more importantly BECOMING what our Father in Heaven wants us to become.

At the end of our conversation today, in reference to her life right now, she said, "It's the hardest thing I have ever loved to do."

A Little Family Time

This last week we had two of our daughters come to New York.  We have a son in New Jersey, which is about a half hour away from us, so they first stayed with his family a couple of days.  Christi and three of her daughters came first.  Her son, Josh, in the above picture has been going to school in New York.  Then came Laura and her daughter, Savanna.  Of course, we didn't have much time to spend with them, but we did make time for a dinner out with Laura, Savanna, and Josh.  Sorry, Christi but we didn't get a picture of you and the girls.

It was nice seeing family and remembering we do have another life; that we have only 25 grandchildren instead of the 200 missionaries that we think of as our grandchildren.  But, we love them all.

A Memorable Sunday

A few weeks ago we learned that we would have an all mission conference.  This is unusual to have on a Sunday.  Of course, everyone was speculating on why and who would be coming.  About a week before, President Reynolds shared with us that Elder Holland and his wife would be coming to speak to the mission. We were all to be in our seats at 8:15 and the conference was to begin at 9:00.

Before the meeting started, the mission wanted a picture of the all the missionaries with Elder Holland.  All 220+ of us arranged ourselves for the picture.

The first speakers of the morning were Sister Reynolds and President Reynolds welcoming the Hollands to New York.  This was followed by their son, Matt Holland, who is president of Utah Valley University.  He is a gifted speaker.  He spoke of his mission and how a mission can change your life.  Next was Sister Holland.  She spoke of growing up in a small rural town in southern Utah.  She told how she was and still is a very shy person.  When she was in her early 20's she lived in New Jersey and traveled each day to New York for school.  While on the train she read her Book of Mormon.  One day she noticed a nicely dressed man sitting next to her, probably on his way to work.  That day she happened to complete the Book of Mormon and upon closing the book exclaimed, "It is true."  The man next to her looked at her with a questioned look on his face.  She explained what she was reading,why it was true, and offered him the book to read.  He did and later was baptized.  

Elder Holland is a powerful speaker!  What a missionary he must have been as a young man.  He spoke of the similarities between Lehi and Joseph Smith.  If you read the 14 pages of 1 Nephi and then compare them with the Joseph Smith story you will understand.

He said you must read THE BOOK OF MORMON!  The Church of Jesus Christ is the right church because we still receive revelations from our Father in Heaven and we have the Priesthood.  No other church can make this claim.

He spoke of Salvation and how it requires some suffering in our lives; the atonement was not easy for Christ. He suffered for all of us.  If we are true disciples of Christ we must walk His walk and talk His talk ALL of the time.  It was not easy for Christ and it won't be easy for us either.  To reach salvation we must first travel though the Garden of Gethsemane.

We were blessed to learn from Elder Holland.  He is a true apostle of the Lord.

Can you find us???

Just Like a Grade School Field Trip

Saturday, September 24, a group of the NY South senior missionaries went on a field trip on the island to Old Westbury Gardens and Mansion.  Here's a picture of our group.  We just love serving with the good people, so kind and loving. The couple next to me were just called to serve as President of the Provo MTC. They have such strong testimonies and are so kind and thoughtful.  We will miss them. Next to Richard is the mission president and his wife, President and Sister Reynolds.

After touring the mansion and gardens we enjoyed a picnic together.  It was a fun Saturday.  So nice to see the beautiful sites of New York.


That is Little China is taking over Little Italy in Manhattan.   So sad, but true. Little Italy, which I prefer, is getting smaller and smaller, while Little China keeps inching forward.

Saturday while strolling through Little Italy, we notice a visible difference. Every site, sound, and smell was Asian.  It reminded us of Flushing or Dyker Heights in Queens.  It wasn't long before we came upon Columbus Park being enjoyed by the residents.  People, mostly men, playing a card game that was not familiar to us.  People sitting on park benches and visiting.  It is a real neighborhood where families have probably lived for generations.