Len & Kit's Missionary Adventures in California

Monday, December 26, 2016

Thoughts on Christmas Day

Over the past weeks, I have found myself thinking of several scriptures that were formerly not at the forefront of my mind:

And it came to pass, … He sent two of his disciples, Saying, Go ye into the village over against you; in the which at your entering ye shall find a colt tied, whereon yet never man sat: loose him, and bring him hither.  And if any man ask you, Why do ye loose him? thus shall ye say unto him, Because the Lord hath need of him. And they that were sent went their way, and found even as he had said unto them.  And as they were loosing the colt, the owners thereof said unto them, Why loose ye the colt?  And they said, The Lord hath need of him.  And they brought him to Jesus: and they cast their garments upon the colt, and they set Him thereon. (Matthew 21, Luke 19, and John 12)
his disciples said unto him, Where wilt thou that we go and prepare that thou mayest eat the passover? And he sendeth forth two of his disciples, and saith unto them, Go ye into the city, and there shall meet you a man bearing a pitcher of water: follow him into the house wheresoever he shall go in.  And say ye to the goodman of the house, The Master saith, My time is at hand.  I will keep the Passover at thy house. Where is the guest-chamber, where I shall eat the passover with my disciples? And he will shew you a large upper room furnished and prepared: there make ready for us. And his disciples went forth, and came into the city, and found as he had said unto them: and they made ready the passover. (Matthew 26, Mark 14 and Luke 22)

The owners of the colt and the goodman of the house were given the great privilege of playing a part in the mission of Jesus Christ.  They may have known Jesus, or had dealings with Him during which they were instructed by Him in person, or perhaps in a dream or a vision as it later happened with Ananias when he was sent to Saul in Damascus (Acts 9). Christ’s direction to his disciples to say to the colt’s owners, “Because the Lord hath need of him,” and to tell the goodman, “The Master saith, My time is at hand,” suggest to me that those involved were followers of Jesus Christ.

In our missionary callings we are certainly not in charge of running the mission.   Neither are we out there searching directly for those who need some help or those who want to know more about our Savior.  We are more like the man who furnished and prepared the upper room.  Our part is to help lighten the burdens of the Mission President by providing the ones who are out there serving and seeking with reasonable places to live, beds to sleep in, and other furnishings they require, heat, electricity, telephones, access to their funds, teaching materials and scriptures, encouragement, help and comfort when they have problems.  We feel privileged to play a role in following the Lord’s charge to “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature.”   Our work keeps us busy, and we hope we are useful and profitable servants.

On this Christmas Day, we miss our dear family and friends, but we are very grateful for this opportunity to serve.

With our love,

Len and Kit

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

All Sorts of Gifts

Someone in our church ward brought bags of lemon-oranges or orange-lemons last week.  Apparently two trees joined in his yard, and while there are some yellow lemons on the tree, there is also fruit that looks more like a large lemon, but is orange. In the photo you can see an orange beside the dish.  The rind is a smoother texture than the ones in the dish which also have an end like a lemon.   I guess the fruit tastes like a sweet lemon.  I look forward to making a lemon pie soon.

Tis the season for packages!  Sister Bradshaw is the chief mail person, but right now she needs help.  Mondays are the worst and the USPO mail lady hopefully asked me last Friday if we would be open Saturday.  I knew she was dreading the weekend pile-up because she really knows the office is closed for the weekends.  We have to list each package by recipient, sender and area where the missionary serves.  Then we sort all mail to the designated shelves and the Zone leaders for each of eight mission zones pick it all up weekly, signing for each package, and deliver it.  Right now there are extra packages accruing in the less used offices where they can be locked up when we aren’t there.  The arrangement is still more efficient than having mail sent to the apartment addresses since the missionaries are reassigned to various places during their missions. Forwarding all the mail would be truly crazy.

Last Sunday I was the first speaker and my first priority was to make sure I stayed under time because there were four speakers plus special music.  Like Len, my topic had to do with peace. I ended with the following account from an experience I had long ago:

It was October of my last year in college and I was doing my practice teaching at a small school 100 miles away.  I didn’t have my own car but was able to get a ride home for the weekend with a young teacher at my school and her brother. I wanted to visit my family and was working on wedding plans since Elder Gunderson and I were planning to be married during Christmas break. 

As we were returning from our weekend activities, it was a beautiful autumn afternoon. There was a fourth passenger who was pitching in to pay for gas in exchange for a ride part way.  Our route wound over a lovely mountain pass.  LeAnn was a careful driver and followed the lowered speed limit on the mountainside road as we reached the top.  As we came around a curve at that altitude, we unexpectedly hit a patch of black ice and the car went out of control.

We slid across the two-lane road toward open space. We knew it was a long way down.  Fortunately there was no other traffic at the moment. The other two girls were screaming.  I felt confident and thought, “Of course we will not go down.  I have been given blessings that have not been fulfilled.”  The car stopped as its side hit one of the wooden safety posts that edged the road at 15 or 20-foot intervals in lieu of a full railing, and leaned on it heavily.  We could feel the wood gradually giving way. Then I thought, ”It’s possible I cannot qualify to claim the promised blessings because it really looks like we are going over.”  My mind was working at high speed and I considered a plan of hunkering on the floor with my arms grasping the seat in front of me. But I wasn’t actually moving as we balanced precariously and I knew the plan could not succeed, even though I still felt calm and more like an observer than a participant.  LeAnn’s brother was in the passenger seat.  Suddenly, he reached across and grabbed the top of the steering wheel giving it a hard pull.  The motor was still running of course, and in slow motion, the front of the car swung around ninety degrees and we were propelled toward the now very inviting stone mountainside that rose up on the opposite side of the road.

Though it seemed we were going slowly, on impact LeAnn hit the steering wheel, breaking off her front teeth.  Her brother was knocked out and had lacerations from breaking the windshield with his head.  I had never been confident that I would be of any use in a crisis, but the peacefulness lasted and I was able to help with some clumsy efforts at first aid. Cars quickly arrived and various people soon took the other passengers to the nearest emergency room while I remained and waited for the highway patrol. Before leaving the site, I walked over and took a last look at the leaning post, the tire tracks which were clearly below the level of the road, and the rocky mountainside dropping steeply for a long way.  As I healed from a couple of sprained ribs, I rejoiced in Heavenly Father’s great blessings and gift of peace to me in time of need.

Monday, December 12, 2016

Peace I Give Unto You

These are notes from the talk Len gave in church December 11, 2016:

John 14:27:  Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you.  Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.

John 14:2-6.  In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you.  3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also. 4 And whither I go ye know, and the way ye know. 5 Thomas saith unto him, Lord, we know not whither thou goest; and how can we know the way?  6 Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.

Finding Peace     President Thomas S. Monson; Ensign, MARCH 2004
     In a world where peace is such a universal quest, we sometimes wonder why violence walks our streets, and family quarrels and disputes mar the sanctity of the home and smother the tranquility of so many lives.
     The struggles across the globe remind us that the peace we seek will not come without effort and determination. Anger, hatred, and contention are foes not easily subdued. Their sphere of influence is not restricted to the battlefields of war but can be observed altogether too frequently in the home, around the hearth, and within the heart.
     The statesman William Gladstone described the formula for peace when he declared: “We look forward to the time when the power of love will replace the love of power. Then will our world know the blessings of peace.”
     World peace, though a lofty goal, is but an outgrowth of the personal peace each individual seeks to attain…not the peace promoted by man, but peace as promised of God (ie peace in our homes, in our hearts, in our lives). Peace after the way of man is perishable. Peace after the manner of God will prevail.  May I suggest three ideas to prompt our thinking and guide our footsteps (to peace): 1). Search inward, 2) Reach outward, 3) Look heavenward.

Len’s Personal  Stories (life after death/peace in spite of borderline prognoses):
1) Dad:  My visit home prior to his death; some tender moments including a discussion of our knowledge that we will be together again (I was raised in a strong Lutheran family)
2) Cousin Monte:  Aunt Ruth-Uncle Fred’s comments during my personal visit to their home in AZ about being w/ Monte again; more certainty w/ passing years (active Methodist family)
3) Val:  Knowledge of eternal families softened the blow of her premature death @ age 17 ¾
4) Len’s subarachnoid hemorrhage (2003):  Uncertain prognosis w/ 2 probable surgeries; priesthood blessing ‘all would be well’; people were surprised at how calm & peaceful we were

Message of Peace (President Monson’s closing comments)
     The darkness of death can ever be dispelled by the light of revealed truth. “I am the resurrection, and the life,” spoke the Master. “He that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die.” (John 11:25-26)
    Such is our message. He lives! And because He lives all shall indeed live again. This knowledge provides the peace for loved ones of those whose graves are hallowed resting places in countless locations.

Len’s Closing Remarks/Testimony 
Christ’s birth, life, atonement & resurrection relative to eternal families