Hello Missionary Friends! May 28, 2016
Happy Memorial Day! This is one of my favorite holidays, mainly because in Rexburg, where I grew up, it generally signaled the end of winter. There were sometimes more days of frost, but generally it was okay to put out the tomatoes by the end of May. Anyway, I hope you are having a wonderful holiday of remembering those who have blazed the trail, paved the way, and set the road signs for us, the followers. That’s why we remember them.
I have been reading the essays at lds.org that the Church is publishing to help clear us some misconceptions about who we are and what we believe. They have some appeal to the honest and humble out there who really want to learn the truth. Some of the sectarians still don’t get it, though. For instance, this guy, head of a large and prosperous seminary (which gives a good hint as to why he can’t change his tune) had this to say:
"The foundational doctrine of Mormonism is that God is eternal but Jesus is not,” Land told OneNewsNow. “Until they get that doctrine right — the doctrine of the Trinity — how can they be approaching orthodoxy?"
"The Mormon Jesus is not our Jesus, and the Mormon God is not the Father of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,” he contends. “It's that simple — Mormonism is another religion."
It makes me want to say, “Ah, come on! You are standing in darkness and you can’t even comprehend the light.” But that is what the Lord told Joseph Smith, too. (D&C 6:21; 45:7; 88:49.)
Susa Young Gates in a great article entitled “The Apostate” in the April 1905 Improvement Era, wrote: “One apostatizes only from truth, not error.” That explains why people can leave the Church but they can’t leave it alone. Interesting concept, don’t you think! The essence of being able to see and comprehend the light, and to tell the difference between light and darkness, is contained in the power and gift of The Holy Ghost. The pride of the world, represented by the Great and Spacious Building without a foundation so powerfully portrayed in Lehi and Nephi’s Vision of the Tree of Life, is what prevents people from comprehending the light. Everybody, LDS or not, has to deal with that issue.
I really enjoy working in the Twin Falls temple every Wednesday morning, as I have said many times. I have noticed, however, that something has been missing, and I identified it as my own regular temple worship. Since I retired Gaye and I have gone weekly to do endowments or initiatory, but since we have been officiating, that regularity has dropped off. So I got up Thursday morning, skipped breakfast, and drove the 5 minutes to the temple to attend an endowment session. (Gaye couldn’t go with me.) WOW! What an experience I had! It felt like I had not been to the temple in a long time, even though I am there for 8 hours every Wednesday, officiating in everything but sealings. (We get to participate in sealing sessions as patrons a couple of times a month during our temple shift, and that is a remarkable experience, too.)
One of the things I learned from this temple experience is that Satan loves to mock God. He tells lies as if they are truths. Sometimes the words really are true, as in saying that there really is no other way, but the circumstances and the intent are false. Sometimes people say that Satan tells half-truths. Really? There is no such thing as a half-truth. He is a liar from the beginning, and we would do well to stay out of his employ. Anyway, I felt light and warmth glowing into my soul until I thought I would burst. That is the kind of experience we pray for our friends and investigators, our home teaching families, our visit teaching families, our students in our Primary and Sunday school classes, and especially our families to have in every context associated with this marvelous Gospel. We want to see the light, comprehend the light, and enjoy the safety the light brings to our lives.
I remember so well how I felt the first week I was in South Africa as a young missionary. We had spent one week in the Missionary Home in Salt Lake before flying for three days to get to Johannesburg. Everything was out of whack in my biological clock. The sun came up in the wrong place, the people were culturally and racially very different from anything I had ever experienced, the language was completely uncomprehendable, the food was weird, I had to wear a suit and tie all the time, you know the feeling. Two days later I was on a train for a 24-hour ride to my first area, where I was with a South African elder who had not even been able to go to the temple before his mission service. The nearest temple was in London, England. I was so home sick I could not even think straight. The idea of another 2 ½ years of that, with no opportunity to ever speak with my family over that whole time, was almost more than I could bear. I wanted to die every night, and getting up was painful as I realized that I was still there. Until, that is, I had a dream that I had gone home and had to face everybody. Boy, I was glad to wake up in South Africa after that! The 2 ½ years in front of me that had appeared to be forever from the front passed too quickly, and I was on my way home.
I love reading your letters, you who share them with me. For you who don’t, I also feel your spirit and enthusiasm as I visit with your parents about how you are doing. It is such a strengthening experience for me to read how you are out there tackling your own demons with faith and commitment. And I love to learn of the lessons you are gaining as you serve and grow. Keep it up! You are all awesome!
Tons of smiles and love to you,