When the phone rang it seemed as if I was still lying on the bed, half-conscious, eyes closed, urging myself to get up and take out my contacts before I went to sleep so I didn’t have a headache in the morning. But, I wasn’t. It was 4:45 am the next morning. The voice on the other end was President asking if I was coming to Springfield. I had been vacillating between staying home because Neal didn’t have school, Emily was coming, and the largest craft fair in the nation was in Bentonville, which meant there would be lots of people the Lord could place in my path. (I must admit the fair sounded fun too.) I told him I was going to stay.
A few minutes later, as I knelt to pray, I began to go over my decision with the Lord. I told him my plans and asked Him to help me be able to determine if there was anything else He would like me to do with my time. The usual inspiration to contact a couple of missionaries came to mind, but that was it. I got off my knees and settled into my favorite chair for study. A few minutes later, the familiar sound of rain pounded on my window. Immediately, I knew more people would benefit from me going to interviews than staying home. Springfield it was! There was only one problem. I needed to leave right away if I was to get there in time. I interrupted my sprint past the bathroom mirror with a pause that revealed my hair wasn’t too bad so it would take considerable less time to complete my morning routine. I was delighted.
As I slipped my arm into my sleeve, I had the sense that someone had prayed me to Springfield. I had often listened to President Monson say he had gone somewhere and then found out that people had been praying he would come, but that certainly hadn’t happened to me before – at least - that I’d recognized. With the surety that comes when you know you’re doing the Lord’s business, I set out. The steady sound of the windshield wipers seemed to say. Someone is waiting for you, someone is waiting for you.
The darkness of the early morning hour didn’t matter. The wet roads didn’t matter. The two hour drive didn’t matter. The only things that mattered was the knowledge I was on God’s errand.
When I arrived I was greeted by a zone of Elders and Sisters whose dedication and love for the Lord had often served as an example of what true disciples do. Our prayers and the experiences we shared with each other while President was interviewing was a huge blessing to me.
So six hours later, I retraced my route. It was still raining, but I could see. And I was basking in the reminder that, “the object of prayer is not to change the will of God but to secure for ourselves and for others blessings that God is already willing to grant” (BD-prayer).
There is something wonderful about being a fellow-shipper.
There are many, many things I love about being a missionary. I must admit one of my favorites is the opportunity I am having now of being a fellow-shipper to a beautiful, intelligent, 20 year-old, young woman. I first met Jill (the name is changed) at the home of a member in our ward. It wouldn’t be until a couple of weeks later that we would meet again. The missionaries called asking if I was available because the member who was going to go with them had cancelled. Little did I know what a fateful call that would be.
Jill had decided that it was time to know for herself if the religion of her friend and his family was really Christ’s true church. This took incredible courage. The tears and the agony in which she explained how much she loved her parents and didn’t want to disappoint them or even worse, have them push her away; was witnesses enough that she had put a lot of thought into this decision. She also explained she didn’t want to join just because of her friend. She wanted to know for herself. For someone brought up in the Catholic church, the idea of the restoration was hard to accept. The truths taught in the plan of salvation and the gospel of Jesus Christ lessons rang true to her, but the need for a restoration was pretty tough pill to swallow. In exasperation she observed that if you read something written by a Catholic person there is no need for a restoration, and if you read something by an LDS author there was a need for a restoration. How was one to know?
Like an echo of Joseph Smith’s past. She posed the same question, “How was someone to know?” Only divinity can answer such a serious question. In response to Joseph’s question he was visited by the Father and the Son. For Jill and every other investigator, the answer is also found through divine revelation. God has promised that if one reads “The Book of Mormon Another Testament of Jesus Christ,” with real intent, He will answer so that one knows.
Trusting this promise resolves a lot of, “Who’s opinion is right?” questions. Because if the Book of Mormon is true, then Joseph Smith is a prophet of God, and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is Christ’s Church on this earth. God in his infinite wisdom has set in place the promise that “He will manifest the truth of it by the power of the Holy Ghost .”
I love that about our message. Don’t believe us. Believe God.
Because Jill is a person of great faith. She chose to act. She committed to read the Book of Mormon on a daily basis. She also chose to add fasting to her prayers.
“It was harder than I thought it would be, and I’m not sure it worked,” was Jill’s comment after fasting. As I listened to Jill talk about the internal battle of fasting. I was pretty sure every member of the Church that had ever fasted could relate. At three she told herself that some people eat dinner early so she should be okay to end her fast. Her determination would not be daunted. She was going to fast ‘til 5. She did finally resort to a trick many a member has used. I’ll just take a nap until it’s time to eat. Because I’ve had many experiences with fasting, I could confidently assure her that the Lord would give her an answer. She just needed to watch with spiritual eyes.
Two weeks later, Jill finds out the how the Lord answers fasting and prayer. At an unexpected moment, and in response to the scripture, “Press forward with a steadfastness in Christ, she courageously asked her mom to go for a walk with her. She then shared that she was having the discussions. Is it all wonderful? No, but the all-knowing God gave her an assurance that He was there to help. Several times she had asked the Lord if he would just send the missionaries by her home and that her mom would listen. In the middle of their conversation her mom shared that the missionaries came by and that she let them in. They taught the apostasy.
Did the lesson for her mom go anywhere? Time will tell, but for a humble, courageous, 20 year- old, It helped propel her on her path
I talked with my oldest daughter tonight. Usually we would be doing something together while the men are at conference. She called to say she wished she was not home doing the dishes and laundry, but celebrating with the Loveland women. Instead she had stayed home, harvested potatoes all day, and now had the house to contend with.
General Conference has always been a tradition in our family. To help Kevin be able to focus, we went to Salt Lake City. If we were in Salt Lake and there was problem on the farm, they couldn’t interrupt conference with a call for help. It was a great tradition.
All traditions have a beginning, and ours started when Rebecca was about five. For weeks leading up to Conference the two of us, would pray it would rain so we could go to Conference. At that time in my life, I didn’t think about what kind of a request we were making. But seriously, almost every General Conference had some kind of rain. It did help that traditionally around the first week of October and April, Southeast Idaho gets rain. But for Rebecca and I, it was just that our prayers were being answered, and off to General Conference we went. Soon enough, it was a family tradition. I remember one time after her dad said we couldn’t go to General Conference, Rebecca disappointedly saying, “Dad, I’d rather go to General Conference then have Christmas.” It seemed a little dramatic, but to Bec that was just how it was.
Fast forward to this weekend. Rebecca didn’t feel like she could go to General Conference. There are still 700 acres to harvest and when you get into October you are racing against the weather. This left her with the quandary of how to listen to conference. There are several recently, returned, sister missionaries and two preparing missionaries who are working on her crew. As their boss, she felt an obligation to allow them the opportunity to listen to Conference. They couldn’t be given the day off. Their help was too needed. Of course, they could listen to or read it later, but the reason she is involved in farming in the first place was her deep conviction that no sacrifice is too great to ensure that others have the opportunity to listen to a prophet’s voice.
Finally, she decided she would get the boom box that had been in the shop for years, and take it to the field. She did. It didn’t work. A quick scramble found her at Walmart buying speakers for her phone. She then dashed back to the field, set it up on the transloader and let anyone who wanted to listen come pick spuds.
It has been my experience that in the mist of the action, is not when we feel satisfaction, but when we see how our actions affect others. For Rebecca it was the same. A young man, preparing for a mission, stepped on to the transloader, looked her in the eye, smiled, and then bent his head down to start picking out the clods and vines.
The exclamation point came later in the session when the missionary choir sang, “I’ll go where you want me to go.” Accompanying the opening lines was the Spirit’s acknowledgement that her “go” was to make the sacrifice to “stay”. Her “go” would be in a field with dirt, spuds, a speaker, and a small band of followers of Jesus Christ.