Saturday, January 24, 2015

"What's different about you?"

One of our new branch members was asked that question by someone at his place of employment.  A co-worker has noticed a difference in Larry's demeanor since he was baptized last Spring.  Larry told him that he had been baptized into The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  He took the man into his office and explained what it has meant to him.  I hear stories like this all the time.

I remember Brother Howe, of the WC Stake High Council telling us in a talk at the Branch that when he walked into his work the Monday after he was baptized, a co-worker exclaimed, "You're as shiny as a new penny!  What's happened to you?"

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Unlikely referral source for the Chapin Elders...

We did an apartment inspection in Chapin tonight before we took the Elders to dinner.  As I was checking out the kitchen, I noticed two cool bowls in the dish rack.  "I love your bowls!"  Elder Arnoldsen said, "Those are actually Diane's bowls."  "Diane?"  You know Bill and Diane?  They came to church with us a while back."

The Elders had made a deal with Bill and Diane - if they came to our church, the Elders would go to their church with them.  :o)  They have continued to have them over for dinner and have listened to some of the missionary discussions as well.  When the Elders finish up a discussion, they ask, "Who do you know that might benefit from this discussion?"  Bill and Diane pull out their church directory and give the elders names.

Several members of the congregation have asked about "those two young men who came to church with Bill and Diane."  They've asked, "Are they going to come back?"  :o)

One night the Elders shared a discussion and a song with Bill and Diane.  They were telling people at the church about it and the choir director said, "Bring them to choir practice and we'll have them sing for us."  So they did!  The two sang, "Brightly Beams Our Father's Mercy."  The people loved it. Some of them sang along.  One man said, "I haven't heard that song since I was a Baptist!"  A 93-year-old lady cried.

The Chapin Elders are great!  Whether or not they get any baptisms out of the Methodist congregation - they are spreading a lot of good will!   I'm not sure about Bill and Diane.  As Diane said, "I am way too entrenched in our church to change."

He called the temple...

A brother from the South Carolina Columbia Temple called the office a few weeks ago.  He said a young man had called the temple, wanting to know where he could go to attend our church.  The temple worker took his name and address and told him that missionaries would contact him within 24 hours.

I am the Referral Manager for our mission, so I put the information in the system, noting that the man's address was in the same apartment complex - even the same unit - as our WAS Sisters.  WAS stands for Women's Auxiliary Specialists.  Sister Barton and Sister Munson are senior missionaries like we are, only they serve as single sister because they have both lost their spouses.

When President Holm was over the mission, he assigned Jack and me as the WAS Sisters' home teacher and visiting teacher.  We watch out for them, assist them in any way we can and meet with them at least every month to give them the HT and VT lessons.

Last night, they invited us for dinner in conjunction with our monthly visit.  They also invited the West Columbia Zone Leaders, who have been teaching the man who lives in their complex.  They said that he is soon getting baptized and is very excited about it.  :o)

At dinner, we learned a little more about the young man.  He had first searched out the church on and was taught on-line for a while.  Then he saw missionaries in Charleston.  A while after than, he lost contact with the church and the missionaries.  Three years later, he once again found himself drawn to the church and that's when he called the temple.  He said, "I don't know why, but something just drew me to the Mormon Church."  Of course, it was the Spirit that prompted him to investigate once again.

He is getting married soon and his fiance  is not interested in the church at all.  In fact she's not very excited about him getting baptized.  He said, "It's just because she doesn't know anything about it." He thinks that someday she'll accept it and be baptized too.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Mayor of Columbia on board to welcome new recruits...

We left the mission last Friday and flew to OKC so we could go to the blessing of a 2 month-old-grandson.  We flew back Monday night 

A great majority of the passengers on our flight from Atlanta last night were new recruits, headed for basic training at Ft. Jackson. Just as we were about to land, a flight attendant came over the intercom and asked us to stay in our seats for a minute after the captain turned off the seat belt lights. She said that the Mayor of Columbia, SC had a message for us having to do with our national security. We all wondered what that was all about.
When the lights went off, a passenger just a few rows behind us stood up and introduced himself as Stephen K. Benjamin, Mayor of Columbia, SC He said that there were many young men and women on our flight who had chosen to serve our country and were coming to Fort Jackson for training. He welcomed them to Columbia and thanked them for their choice to serve. Everyone applauded. It was great! Jack snapped this shot of the mayor and one of the recruits as they stopped in the aisle beside us for a photo opportunity. Love my country and love the young men and women who have the desire to keep it free. God bless 'em! :o)

Friday, January 16, 2015

A Preisthhod blessing for a preemie...

Two of our Elders were telling us about a Preisthood blessing they gave the baby daughter of an investigator Wednesday night.  She was born at only 23 weeks of gestation!  She weighs just over a pound and the Elders said she would have fit in the palm of their hands.  They said that the woman's doctors were trying to convince her to have her baby taken off life support.  "But," they said, "That is not what the blessing said!"  The Elders were inspired to bless this baby that she would live and be an instrument in bringing her mother closer to The Lord.

I am thankful for faithful Elders who bear the Priesthood of God and are worthy to give such blessings.

Saturday, January 10, 2015

He is somebody's son...

This post doesn't really belong in my mission blog, but I've got something I want to say.  A couple of days ago a convicted sex offender was arrested and sent back to jail for lurking around the parking lot of our elementary school back home.  This is a good thing.  He was clearly in violation of his parole.  I hate what he has done!  I hate the darkness in people's minds that drives them to crimes against children, or anyone else for that matter.

I hate what this man has done and totally agree that he should be off the streets, but as I read  a few of the comments about his arrest I felt sad.  This man is somebody's son.  He is somebody's brother.  He could be somebody's husband or even somebody's father.  Surely what he has done has hurt all of those who love him.  He needs to be stopped and should be rehabilitated if that is possible.  He should probably be kept away from children for the rest of his life.

I guess what I'm trying to say is this... Can we hate the sin, but still love the sinner?  Could we think of the pain he has already caused those who love him or who raised him or grew up with him?  I know how horrible I have felt in the past when one of my own children has done something to hurt someone else, even something as simple as a high-school-breakup.  Parents feel the pain every time their children fall, at least I do.

A short while ago, a young man was arrested for sexual abuse of a minor, dealing harmful materials to a minor, sexual exploitation of a minor, obstruction of justice and seducing or luring a minor through text or Internet.   This young man had attended school with some of my grandchildren.  They were friends with him and with his sister.  My daughter's family knows his family well.  Although not closely related, we share the same last name.  When this arrest happened, I thought, "How does his mother feel?  How is his family going to deal with this heartache?"  

What happens in people's minds to cause this behavior?  How can we fix it?  How can we prevent it?  I wish I knew!  I will pray that's these people get the help they need to turn their lives around.  I will pray that I will not do anything to rub salt in the wounds of those who love them.  These people have done bad things, but they are all somebody's sons or daughters.