Last week the sisters took us with them to teach a lesson to a man they had met. I will call him Fred because I haven’t asked him if I can tell his story. Fred is married to a less-active member, is about 49 years old, and is recovering from a massive stroke about a year ago.
Fred stays home all day. He loves to read, he climbs up a long flight of stairs and walks along the roadway above the apartment where they live, and he has a sweet spirit about him.
|STT Sisters, Sigler and Pinnock|
|View from Fred's deck|
|View from a road near our house, above Magens' Bay|
Fred’s wife works 14 hour shifts at a gas station. She doesn’t know until a couple of days before whether she will be working on a Sunday. She was raised in the Church but not in the traditional way. She came from a large family, with several different fathers involved in the genealogy, but they were living with the latest version. Well, he died, so the other kids in the family went to live with their own dads, but she and her sister had to stay with their mother, who was quite mentally unstable. Somehow they became acquainted with the local LDS ward, so the members of the ward took them under their wings to get them to church, get them baptized, see that they got to school, had food to eat, etc. They generally raised them. When she was old enough to be on her own, though, she sort of quit going to Church. But she has a wonderful feeling of love and respect for the Church. In fact, her membership was not even here, but one day the sisters went into the gas station and she greeted them enthusiastically and told them she is a Mormon, etc. Anyway, she is not often able to attend church or even be present when the missionaries meet with Fred. That is why thy invited us to go with them, because they are not allowed to teach a lone man without another person present.
So Fred received us in his home and accepted the invitation to come to church. He also accepted the invitation to follow the Savior and be baptized when he knows that the message we bring him is true. A date was set but I think we need to work on bringing his wife along with him first. I drove out to the other end of the island and picked him up for church last Sunday while Gaye was at the church playing the piano. We made it, but a little late. I explained to him what our meetings are like, that we meet for 3 hours, what happens at sacrament meeting, Sunday school, and priesthood meeting. I told him that the first Sunday of each month is a little different in that we don’t have assigned speakers but that everyone is encouraged to stand and bear (or bare) or share his own testimony of God’s love for him or her.
We had a return lesson scheduled with Fred on Thursday, Thanksgiving. The sisters called us before the lesson, though, to say that he had a question that had come up as he was reading Mosiah 15:1-6. They asked me to help answer that question. It goes a little beyond the normal Preach My Gospel lessons. In those verses Abinadi is telling how Jesus is both the Son and the Father. We had just told Fred that Joseph Smith had a visit from the Father and the Son, two separate and distinct beings. So I prepared for that experience, and I learned some great things from The Holy Ghost.
First off, as Elder Holland and Elder Douglas Callister said in recent conference talks, remember what you know. Abinadi was talking to apostate priesthood holders. They knew very well the real nature of the Godhead, but they were so involved in their own apostate practices that they had lost all connection to the teaching of The Holy Ghost. So in this section Abinadi is calling them to repentance, and they didn’t want to heed the call. Abinadi was also explaining that Jesus wears at least two hats, and that because Jesus and His Father are so completely united in their method and purpose that when one speaks He speaks as if he is either the Father or the Son, and that the universe will acknowledge such. That explanation was sufficient to Fred. He is excited to be reading the Book of Mormon and he is gaining a beautiful witness of its truthfulness.
So today Gaye and I drove out to pick him up. He lives at the extreme west end of the island, and the chapel is at the extreme east end of the island. That might not seem like a long way, but it takes about 35 minutes to drive from his place to the church. We made it in time. Gaye was worried that nobody would be there to play because the sweet lady who usually plays is off island, but there were some visitors, among whom was a piano player. It worked out great.
On the way in we were just visiting with Fred about how he is doing with his recovery. I asked him if he ever feels discouraged and how he deals with it. Keep in mind that this man has been active all his life. He was training race horses when the stroke struck him. He has lived in Alaska, Arizona, Oregon, been in the Navy, and was raised in Treasure Valley, near Boise. His dad is a Baptist minister, but Fred was raised more in the Seventh Day Adventist denomination. (When he was invited to be baptized he said he thought he would do it, but he has already been baptized twice and he doesn’t want to make this a habit. I told him this time it will be the best because he will be baptized by someone who holds the priesthood authority and can trace it back to Jesus Christ through Joseph Smith, the prophet of the restoration, by the laying on of hands. I used my line of authority as an example. He was impressed.) But I digress.
Fred said he has not been discouraged. He uses the example of Job. He said he has a different view of Job than the usual explanation of the events in that Old Testament story. Usually it is used as an example of Job’s faith and trust in God. He has learned since his stroke, however, that another application of Job is in how God is giving Job a chance to prove himself. It is an expression of God’s trust in Job as much as an expression of Job’s trust in God. So he said he is patiently trying to learn what God has in mind for him, and he is showing his dependability to God by letting God test him.
Every day we meet people and situations from which we can learn valuable lessons. We just need to be alert and receptive to what the Spirit is trying to teach us. Perhaps that is the most difficult lesson of all. At least it seems to be for me. But if God will continue to be patient with me, I am getting there.
|Making Thanksgiving Dinner, STT|
December is here. Let’s enjoy this season of joy and service as we think of how we can trust Jesus, and how we can show him that he can trust us.
|Threatening Clouds STT. View from Sr Apt|