Monday, November 10, 2014

The Lord foresaw the need to honor the sacrifice of Sister Han

Recently I traveled to Hong Kong and into China for my work.   I went there to visit a factory that is making some fancy woodwork for my construction project. We spent a day in Hong Kong and then went to the factory which is about 40 miles north into the People's republic of China.  After working there all day and spending the night at the factory, I wanted to get back to Hong Kong to attend the Temple there. It seemed a unique opportunity.

I had to insist on leaving earlier than my hosts were used to getting going in the morning. I wanted to arrive at the temple for the 9 am session.  They drove my companion to the airport and then myself to the train station. Along the way were pickups of other people and stops to get gas that seemed to last forever. I began to grow uneasy about making the session at the temple. Delays continued when I got to the train station at the border crossing. I walked across an enormous pedestrian bridge over  the river that marked the boundary between Hong Kong and the PRC. Then it was time to go through an immigration checkpoint. There were already 100 people in line and only 2 people checking passports. At that point I realized it would be impossible to make the 9am session at the temple.

I reset my objective to attend the 11 am session instead. I successfully rode the train from the border back to the Kowloon area of Hong Kong. I donned my tie on the street and walked from the train station to the temple. It was extremely hot & humid so I was looking forward to simply sitting in an air conditioned waiting room while I waited for 11 am. At this point I was quite early for that session.

As I walked into the front courtyard, I saw the white suited figures inside notice my arrival through the windows. As I passed through the doors, the temple president (Pres. Wong from Brisbane) immediately asked me: " can you help us with baptisms?"  When I said yes, it would be a great way to wait for the 11 am session, they flew into action. I had to remind them to check my recommend they were so relieved to have me help. They grabbed my luggage and threw it in a closet and hustled me down to the baptistry.

The situation they had there that morning was that a young lady named Sister Han had traveled by train from Hangzhou in China by train, which is a distance of 1400km.  She had only a limited time available to be at the temple before she had to board a train to get back home. The problem was that she showed up right as the temple workers were conducting a special session in Mongolian for a whole bustle of Mongolian saints. So they did not have enough priesthood brothers to do the session, plus baptize, record and witness. So they pressed me into service.

I did my best at pronouncing the Chinese names on the cards, which thankfully had English versions on them. After doing several baptisms, I dressed and waited a few minutes for the 11 am session to begin, sitting beside a young man from Beijing.  This experience was eye opening in that I did not realize that we have thousands of members in the PRC.

But what I took away from this experience was a witness that The Lord loves us and knows us individually.  And of His omniscience, as manifested in my arrival within literally minutes of when it would have been too late for sister Han to do baptisms. My trip had been scheduled weeks in advance and I came from the other side of the world. The Lord foresaw the need to honor the sacrifice of sister Han in going to the temple and acted by influencing someone to travel halfway around the world at exactly the right date & time to meet the need. He delayed me just enough that morning to ensure I did not go into the 9 am session and put myself out of reach. I marvel at the Lord's ability to foresee and gently influence events and people to achieve his ends. I felt blessed to see his individual concern for that sister, and blessed to have been an instrument in serving. I know our Savior knows and loves us individually.

By: Mark Robins

Saturday, November 1, 2014

The Spirit and spiritual stories from two Deacons

My name is Alex Trottier

I belong to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. I have had many spiritual experiences in my life. Me and my sister were adopted from Russia, and the spirit led my parents to us.  They had many obstacles in their way, but they persevered, and they were led to my sister and me. We have had very little blessings such as blessings of food, money, and air. My name is Alex Trottier I am a soccer referee, a writer (I like writing songs, and stories mostly) and I know that blessings exist as the tiniest things sometimes. I say these things in the name of Jesus Christ Amen.

My name is Jonathan Evans

I'm 13 years old. I know the spirit can teach to you in many ways. One time when I was on a 20 mile hike with my scout troop in Boulder, Utah, we got kind of lost. The trail started to dissipate a few mile in and we had to try and go through thick plants. We were not prepared and we ran out of water. One of our troop members started to get bad heat exhaustion. Basically we were out in the desert with no water, no trail, but we did have a gps. We split up into a couple of different groups. One group helped the kid with heat exhaustion and my group went on ahead to try and find water to filter. We all said a prayer. I said many personal prayers throughout that day. The only water we could find was a dirty nasty puddle and we tried to filter it as best we could and we were all so grateful for that water. I felt the Holy Spirit telling me that everything was going to be okay. We started at 8am and ended the hike around midnight. During that time the Holy Ghost was testifying to us about faith.

One time on a different campout we just looked at the stars. I just got the impression that Heavenly Father is always watching over us. This was another example of the Holy Ghost teaching us but in a different way. I have a testimony that I'm a member of the true church and that Jesus Christ atoned for our sins so that we can be with Him and God again. I know that Joseph Smith restored the true church. I have prayed about it and it all just feels right to me. Thomas S. Monson is a true prophet. The Holy Ghost can teach us in different ways that God is always watching over us.

The Role of the Deacon

By: Vaughn J. FeatherStone 

Several years ago I heard a story that I shall not soon forget:

A young man, climbing in some rugged, high mountain peaks, came across an eagle’s nest. The nest contained several eggs. He took one and gently carried it back to his home. He then put it with several eggs an old hen was setting over. In due time all of the eggs were hatched, and there came forth the eaglet with the baby chicks. During the next several months the baby eagle grew along with the chicks. He scratched in the barnyard for his food like chickens do. Although he grew to full size, he still never flew. The young man watched the process with great interest. He wanted the eagle to fly. So one day he took the eagle up on top of his house and said, “Thou art an eagle, fly.” But the eagle just flew down to the barnyard and commenced scratching like the chickens. A few days later, long before sunlight, the young lad took the eagle to a lofty crag high among the mountain peaks. Then, as the first streaks of sunlight burst over the mountain range, he said, “Thou art an eagle, fly.” The eagle began to stretch its wings; its eye caught a shaft of sunlight; a sensation swept through it from wing tip to wing tip. The fresh, cool air, the smell of pine trees, and an exhilaration it had never known coursed through the great bird. Its wings spread wider; power swept through its entire frame. It began to lift off the arm of the young man. Soon it was lifting and soaring hundreds of feet above the high peaks. It lifted higher and higher and soared farther and farther into the endless sky. It saw more in an instant than its earthbound chicken companions saw in a lifetime. From that time forth the eagle was never more content to be a barnyard fowl.

Once a deacon has felt the power and exhilaration of truly magnifying his priesthood and lifting to the endless bounds of service, he too will no longer be content to be a barnyard fowl, an ordinary boy. He will want to represent God on the earth and be one of his holy and choice servants.

A deacon “is to be ordained according to the gifts and callings of God unto him; and he is to be ordained by the power of the Holy Ghost, which is in the one who ordains him.” (D&C 20:60.) “No person is to be ordained to any office in this church, where there is a regularly organized branch of the same, without the vote of that church.” (D&C 20:65.)

A deacon’s duties include passing the sacrament, visiting homes of members and receiving fast offerings, providing messenger service for the bishop and his counselors, and home teaching as a junior companion when there are not sufficient priests and teachers. These responsibilities are commonly known by almost every deacon.

The deacon also has other responsibilities that are a little more subtle but vitally important.

Dress Standards: Every deacon is expected to be appropriately attired as he performs his duty. When passing the sacrament he should be dressed conservatively with a dress shirt and tie. Loud or gaudy patterns of dress attract the attention of the Saints and take their minds off the sacred sacramental service. No young man would deliberately violate his priesthood ordination by causing this distraction. His hair length should be such that it does not give a feminine appearance or distract members’ concentration.

When a young man is a messenger for the bishop he should be neat and clean in appearance and be one in whom the bishop could feel justifiable pride. As the deacon visits the homes of members he should be neatly dressed to function in his priesthood assignment. In some few cases the only contact inactive members have with the Church is the monthly visit of a deacon to receive a fast offering contribution. That brief visit may have a powerful influence on our inactive members. Deacons should be neat and clean and their conduct should be dignified with warmth and friendliness. A genuine smile and firm handshake by a young deacon might well cause serious reflections by inactive members. A home teaching assignment ought to be carried out in the same dignified manner. A deacon should always be prepared to bear his testimony to a family should his senior companion invite it.

Conduct: A deacon must conduct himself properly in all things. This is, however, especially true in his conduct at the sacrament table. We have all seen immature deacons who play, make faces, laugh, push other deacons, and in general are very light-minded about this sacred ordinance. Such a young man should be taught that he is violating the sacred trust that the Lord has given him to assist in the ordinance. A deacon should conduct himself following a single standard. We do not have a double standard in the Church. A deacon should refrain from telling dirty stories, reading pornographic material, using profane language, or being abusive or rude. It takes maturity to live the standards, and those deacons who do will find success in the world and great opportunities for service in God’s kingdom.

Worthiness: All of our priesthood assignments should be determined by our worthiness. A deacon should be honest in all of his dealings. The truth must be part of his conduct and expression. Never would he violate this by lying or cheating at home, school, or a place of entertainment. A deacon must be morally clean and pure in thought. He would never violate the Word of Wisdom or be involved in drug abuse. His concern should be to prove himself worthy every day of his life. As he does, growth, development, and success will be his. One of the greatest goals we can have as individuals is to become pure in heart. As we faithfully strive to live worthily, we become pure in heart.

Service: Many years ago I attended a conference with President Marion G. Romney. During the break between sessions of conference, we went for a short walk. One of the things he said to me was, “Brother Featherstone, do you think the brethren of the priesthood will ever come to understand that they were born to serve their fellowmen?” In one sentence he gave me a concept that has been a great motivating factor in my life. I commend it to you.

I earnestly pray that every deacon will come to understand that he was born to serve his fellowmen.