Friday, March 30, 2012

Forgiveness is Freedom

Trivia: Tomatoe Pie Is What?

In Jersey (locals don't use 'new'), a pizza is called many things. Pictures on left are proof--see "tomato pies" sign. You don't order "pepperoni pizza"--you order "pepperoni PIE." Just telling ya'! ;)

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Tuesday Night Institute Class

Isaiah 29: 4 "And thou shalt be brought down, and shalt speak out of the ground, and thy speech shall be low out of the dust, and thy voice shall be, as of one that hath a familiar spirit, out of the ground, and thy speech shall whisper out of the dust." [The Book of Mormon came "out of the ground" and in it, the Nephites, our dead Israelite "relatives" who came from Ariel; in other words, Jerusalem, speaks to us as from the dust.]
Isaiah 29:11-12, 14 "And the vision of all is become unto you as the words of a book that is sealed, which men deliver to one that is learned, saying, Read this, I pray thee: and he saith, I cannot; for it is sealed: And the book is delivered to him that is not learned, saying, Read this, I pray thee: and he saith, I am not learned. ...Therefore, behold, I will proceed to do a marvellous work among this people, even a marvellous work and a wonder: for the wisdom of their wise men shall perish, and the understanding of their prudent men shall be hid." [Isaiah gives prophecy about the coming forth of the Book of Mormon in the last days. He gives specific detail which has been fulfilled.]

Joseph Smith--History 1:63-65 "Sometime in this month of February, the aforementioned Mr Martin Harris came to our place, got the characters which I had drawn off the plates, and started with them to the city of New York. For what took place relative to him and the characters, I refer to his own account of the circumstances, as he related them to me after his return, which was as follows: "I went to the city of New York, and presented the characters which had been translated, with the translation thereof, to Professor Charles Anthon, a gentleman celebrated for his literary attainments. Professor Anthon stated that the translation was correct, more so than any he had before seen translated from the Egyptian. I then showed him those which were not yet translated, and he said that they were true characters. He gave me a certificate, certifying to the people of Palmyra that they were true characters, and that the translation of such of them as had been translated was also correct. I took the certificate and put it into my pocket, and was just leaving the house, when Mr Anthon called me back, and asked me how the young man found out that there were gold plates in the place where he found them. I answered that an angel of God had revealed it unto him. He then said to me, 'Let me see that certificate.' I accordingly took it out of my pocket and gave it to him, when he took it and tore it to pieces, saying that there was no such thing now as ministering of angels, and that if I would bring the plates to him he would translate them. I informed him that part of the plates were sealed, and that I was forbidden to bring them. He replied, 'I cannot read a sealed book.' I left him and went to Dr Mitchell, who sanctioned what Professor Anthon had said respecting both the characters and the translation."" 

Friday, March 23, 2012

Friday Night Cleaning Crew

Our turn to clean our Stake Center with the help of four AWESOME YSA! Six of us did the job in 60 minutes--including carpets, trash removal, 5 bathrooms, moping, etc!  Thanks, Guys!

Thursday Night YSA Institute

YSA Branch visiting teaching

After-Institute munch & mingle

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Quest for Humility

"When obedience ceases to be an irritant
and becomes our quest,
in that moment,
God will endow us with power." 
--Ezra Taft Benson

Best Places to Live in USA

Driving to our CES Inservice training this morning we spotted this sign near our mission apartment for the first time and did some research.

Money Magazine's 2008 Top Ten Best Places to Live included: 1) Plymouth, MN, 2) Fort Collins, CO, 3) Naperville, IL, 4) Irvine, CA, 5) Franklin Township, NJ, 6) Norman, OK, 7) Round Rock, TX, 8) Columbia/Ellicott City, MD, 9) Overland Park, KS, 10) Fishers, IN

Criteria in 2008: 1) plentiful jobs, 2) excellent schools, 3) affordable housing

Money Magazine's 2011 Top Ten Best Places to Live are: 1) Louisville, CO, 2) Milton, MA, 3) Solon, OH, 4) Leesburg, VA, 5) Papillion, NE, 6) Hanover, NH, 7) Liberty, MO, 8) Middleton, WI, 9) Mukilteo, WA, 10) Chanhassen, MN

Criteria in 2011: 1) great job opportunities, 2) top-notch schools, 3) safe streets, 4) economic strength, 5) nice weather (Are you kidding me? Really?!?!), 6) plenty to do

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Another Round of Apartment Inspections

Every 6 weeks there is mission "transfer conference" and following that senior missionary couples are assigned to check apartments. Yesterday we got to visit with Sisters Wright (California) and Barrett (Alaska). Next week we have 5 other apartments to visit.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Worth of Souls

Remember the worth of souls is great in the sight of God. D&C 18:10

An old man had a habit of early morning walks on the beach. One day, after a storm, he saw a human figure in the distance moving like a dancer. As he came closer he saw that it was a young woman and she was not dancing but was reaching down to the sand, picking up a starfish and very gently throwing it into the ocean.

"Young lady," he asked, "Why are you throwing starfish into the ocean?"

"The sun is up, and the tide is going out, and if I do not throw them in they will die."

"But young lady, do you not realize that there are miles and miles of beach and starfish all along it? You cannot possibly make a difference."

The young woman listened politely, paused and then bent down, picked up another starfish and threw it into the sea, past the breaking waves, saying, "It made a difference for that one."

-adapted from "The Star Thrower" by Loren Eisely (1907-1977)

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Missionaries Publish Peace

And they traveled throughout all the land ..., and among all the people ..., zealously striving ..., and publishing all the things which they had seen, and explaining the prophecies and the scriptures to all who desired to hear them.
And thus they were instruments in the hands of God in bringing many to the knowledge of the truth, yea, to the knowledge of their Redeemer.

And how blessed are they! For they did publish peace; they did publish good tidings of good; and they did declare unto the people that the Lord reigneth. -Mosiah 27:35-37

Friday, March 16, 2012

Miracle of the "Wall Sit"

 A few blogs ago, I wrote about our mission president's health challenge. Here's the rest of the story written by his daughter, Julie:

     I have always envied converts to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I was born and raised in the Mormon faith — which is a great blessing, don't get me wrong — but I never knew what it was really like not having the spirit in my life. Converts come into the LDS Church excited, with a renewed sense of hope and light and a desire to change. They feel the spirit literally transforming them as they draw closer to God, and I envied that I didn't feel I had the ability to do the same.
     I wanted to witness miracles, see prayers answered and be a recipient of a tender mercy or two, but I could barely understand how the spirit worked, let alone feel a "burning in my bosom." Seeing prayers answered were obviously way out of my reach. And witnessing a miracle? Forget about it.
     But I've come to understand that I witness these things every day. Elder David A. Bednar, of the Quorum of the Twelve, said, “Sometimes as Latter-day Saints, we talk and act as though recognizing the influence of the Holy Ghost in our lives is the rare or exceptional event. We should remember, however, that the covenant promise is that we may always have his Spirit to be with us.”
     What about all the unseen answered prayers, or the whispers of the Spirit that are sometimes too soft to recognize, or the tender mercies granted that we define as "luck?" When it comes to my dad, he is not lucky. He is a living, breathing tender mercy, and an answer to my prayers.
     My father, Jon Jeppson, is the president of the New Jersey Morristown Mission, and has been for the last eight months. While attending a district meeting recently, he was challenged, along with all the missionaries, to a wall sit. A wall sit, you might ask? It's where you sit with your back against the wall as though you had an invisible chair beneath you. The district leader spoke about endurance, perserverance and goal setting and explained to the missionaries how enduring a wall sit could be compared to missionary work. They’re both tiring, grueling at times and make your legs burn. They also both take focus, determination, willpower and skill.
     My dad wanted to win the wall sit competition. Unfortunately, he was competing against 19 and 20-year-old machines, and being a senior citizen, well, he lost.
     Not only did he lose miserably, he herniated a disc in his back in the process. It caused enough pain that he scheduled an MRI, which indeed show a herniated disc. But it showed something else: It showed a large mass in his right kidney the size of a fist.
     A tumor.
     How can this be? My dad is already a cancer survivor and lost his leg to bone cancer when he was 19. At the time, he had just received his mission call to Bristol, England, and was told the leg needed to be amputated immediately and to forget the mission. Even with the surgery, doctors couldn’t guarantee his life. This didn’t stop my dad. He went ahead with the surgery, and still served a faithful mission a year later in Boston. He has been cancer-free ever since — but cancer decided to show its ugly face again.
     After the MRI, my dad was diagnosed with kidney cancer — 46 years after having bone cancer — and was told to have surgery to remove the kidney immediately. At this point, we had no idea how far the cancer had spread throughout his body and if he caught it too late. After all, he had had no symptoms or pain of any kind. So he flew home, leaving 150 missionaries behind, hoping to return to his mission once again, cancer-free.
     The surgery was a success. Doctors lifted the infected kidney out and informed us that no other organs were affected, and that the cancer was contained in the kidney only.
     If it hadn’t been for the challenge of the wall sit, my dad never would have hurt his back. And if he hadn’t hurt his back, he wouldn’t have had an MRI. If he hadn’t had the MRI, we may have never known about the tumor, and by the time it would be found, it may have been too late.
     Sometimes we don’t know why the Lord works the way he works. I kept asking myself, “Why, of all people, is my dad struggling with his back and hobbling around on crutches when all he wants to do is serve Heavenly Father and help those missionaries?” I did not realize that, thanks to a tender mercy, the backache led to a life-saving miracle.
     My dad was sent to share the gospel the people of New Jersey, but didn’t know he would be sent to save his own life. With five stakes fasting for him in addition to countless family and friends at home, we witnessed a miracle. I witnessed a miracle. I know my prayers were heard. I felt a renewed sense of hope and light, just like the converts I had longed to relate to.
     The Lord knows what he’s doing, and the evidence will speak for itself later down the road. Or maybe it never will. But you can always remember that determination, willpower and faith can remove all doubt and fear — and, in this case, a kidney.
     Here’s to a successful two-and-a-half more years in the mission field to my dad, the wall sit wonder.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Job Testifies--Even in His Afflictions!

"Oh that my words were now written! oh that they were printed in a book! That they were graven with an iron pen and lead in the rock for ever! For I know that my redeemer liveth, and that he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth: And though after my skin worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God: Whom I shall see for myself, and mine eyes shall behold, and not another..."
-Job 19:23-27

Puts me in mind of hearing Bruce R McConkie's final testimony at General Conference April 1985: "...And now as pertaining to this perfect Atonement, I testify that it took place at Gethsemane and at Golgotha. And as pertaining to Jesus Christ, I testify that he is the Son of the Living God who was crucified for the sins of the world. He is our Lord, our God, and our King. This I know of myself independent of any other person. I am one of his Witnesses. And in the coming day I will feel the nail marks in his hands and in his feet and shall wet his feet with my tears. But I shall not know any better then than I know now that he is God's almighty Son and he is our Savior and Redeemer and that Salvation comes in and through his atoning blood and in no other way." (Elder McConkie died 13 days after giving this testimony.)

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Latter-Day Prophets on the Resurrection

“We are in possession of all the ordinances that can be administered in the flesh; but there are other ordinances and administrations that must be administered beyond this world. I know you would ask what they are. I will mention one. We have not, neither can we receive here, the ordinance and the keys of the resurrection….They will be ordained, by those who hold the keys of the resurrection, to go forth and resurrect the Saints, just as we receive the ordinance of baptism… This is one of the ordinances we cannot receive here, and there are many more.” (President Spencer W Kimball quoted these words of Brigham Young at the re-dedication of the Mesa Arizona Temple).

“The Lord Jesus, who was the firstfruits of the dead, the firstfruits of them that sleep, and who holds the keys of the resurrections, will bring to pass the resurrection of the [righteous], and will set them to work in bringing about the resurrection of their brethren as He has set them to work in all the other branches of the labor from the beginning…

            “True, we have, in our limited understandings, perhaps imagined, many of us, that this glorious resurrection was to come upon us and upon the whole world suddenly, like the rising of the sun. But you must remember the sun does not rise the same hour and the same moment upon all the earth. It is twenty-four hours in rising and twenty-four hours in setting. So with the resurrection. There is a day appointed for the resurrection of the righteous. And it is sealed upon the heads of many that if they are faithful and true, they shall come forth ‘in the morning of the first resurrection’; but the morning lasts from the first hour of the day until mid-day, and the day lasts till night…

            “But this ‘morning of the first resurrection’ is nigh at hand, and blessed are those who, through their faithfulness, shall be counted worthy to have part in it; for they shall be crowned kings and priests with God and the Lamb—they shall reign with Christ and in the midst of his people, and carry on the work of redemption and resurrection of the saints of God.  (Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses, vol. 25, pp 33-34).

 “If we ask who will stand at the head of the resurrection in this last dispensation, the answer is—Joseph Smith, Junior, the Prophet of God. He is the man who will be resurrected and receive the keys of the resurrection, and he will seal this authority upon others, and they will hunt up their friends and resurrect them when they shall have been officiated for [meaning when all the ordinances of salvation and exaltation have been performed for them vicariously or otherwise in the temples], and bring them up.” (Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses, vol. 15, pp 137-139).

“[Joseph’s] spirit is waiting for the resurrection of the body, which will soon be. But has he the power to resurrect that body? He has not. Who has this power? Those that have already passed through the resurrection—who have been resurrected in their time and season by some person else, and have been appointed to that authority just as you Elders have been with regard to your authority to baptize. You have not the power to baptize yourselves, neither have you power to resurrect yourselves…” (Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses, vol. 6, p 275).

“Some person holding the keys of the resurrection, having previously passed through that ordeal, will be delegated to resurrect our bodies, and our spirits will be there and prepared to enter into their bodies. We want a house, and when we get it and our spirits enter into it, then we can begin to look forth, for what? For our friends. We want them resurrected. Here is this friend and that friend, until by-and-by all are resurrected. (Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses, vol. 9, pp 139-140).

“The body will come forth as it is laid to rest, for there is no growth or development in the grave. As it is laid down, so will it arise, and changes to perfection will come by the laws of restitution. But the spirit will continue to expand and develop, and the body, after the resurrection will develop to the full stature of man” (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, section 4, footnote #4, p 200).