Showing posts with label prophets. Show all posts
Showing posts with label prophets. Show all posts

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Blessings from Following the Prophet's Counsel

I know our prophet is a seer. In the Book of Mormon, the missionary Ammon explains this beautifully to King Limhi  "A seer can know of things which are past, and also of things which are to come, and by them shall all things be revealed ... and hidden things shall come to light, and things which are not known shall be made known by them." (Mosiah 8:17)  We cannot foresee things to come but our prophets can.

The prophet’s admonition for mothers to stay home where circumstances would allow was a counsel my husband, Chuck, and I had decided to follow long before we were ever married. But now that we would soon be having a baby it didn’t seem like such a good idea. We had just purchased a new home which I wanted to pay off as quickly as possible, so staying home just wouldn't work. Conflicted in how to proceed, we prayed for guidance. The answer came clear to both of us, “Follow the prophet's counsel. Stay home.” I questioned, how would we make ends meet? How would it all work out? Not knowing the answers to these questions was unsettling, but we didn't hesitate to follow the counsel we had received.

I quit my job which cut our income in half. My husband got a second job to make ends meet. I remember living off what little food storage we had and what seemed like many, many, macaroni and cheese, ramen noodle nights. We welcomed our first baby boy, Bradley, into the world shortly after and things did not get any easier. With only one car, I would drive my husband to and from work with newborn baby in tow. He worked from 6:00 am - 4:30 pm and then from 5:00 pm - 10:30 pm. I wondered how in the world the prophet’s counsel for me to stay home was truly blessing my life at this time, when all it was doing was making it miserable for both of us. I felt guilty staying at home as I watched my husband work two jobs. I was spending all this time at home enjoying my baby while my husband sacrificed time, energy and sleep. This could all easily be resolved if I went back to work; after all, our baby was so little, he would never remember if I was home with him or not. I prayed again and the answer was the same.  “Listen to the prophet, stay home”.

We obeyed, but still things did not improve. In time, we ended up having to sell the home we thought we would grow old in. We moved into an extremely humble apartment not too far from my husband’s work. Defeated and discouraged, we clung on to the promise that we would be blessed for following the counsel of our prophet.

Everything would come to light just a few weeks after moving into that apartment. My baby was now 22 months old and during a doctor’s visit, for what we thought was a knee sprain, we were told that our son had terminal stage 4 neuroblastoma. In an instant our world was turned upside down. For the next 15 months our dear son would endure aggressive treatments and surgeries that made him extremely ill and frail. Now I knew why I needed to stay home. Because of the changes we had made, I was able to stay at the hospital with our son and care for him as long as it was necessary. As time continued, no amount of praying, fasting, or pleading would save our son. Three weeks before his 3rd birthday, while I held him in my arms and expressed our deepest love for him, he returned back to our Father in Heaven. Our hearts shattered into a thousand pieces that day.

During one of many difficult nights that would follow after our son's passing, I was impressed to read from the Book of Mormon in 3 Nephi Chapter 17.


As I read through the account of Jesus Christ’s visit to the Nephites, I was impressed by how much he loved them, and blessed them and their little children. I felt that same love from our Father in Heaven and our Savior Jesus Christ at that very moment. It was such a personal witness to me that our Savior knew of our circumstance, loved us and loved our son deeply. The Spirit bore witness that our son was happy, free from sorrow, sickness and pain, and that he was not alone but surrounded by angels just like the Nephite children were so many centuries ago.  I was brought to remember that our temple marriage made us a forever family and we would see him again. I was brought to remember the blessings that came from listening to the prophet’s counsel for me to stay home. I had truly been given a gift I could never replace: time with our precious son! I was able to enjoy every minute of every day of what would be our son’s very short 3 years here on earth. I could see all of the pieces come together at that very moment and I was truly grateful for listening to the prophet’s counsel.

Jacqueline

Thursday, October 1, 2015

20 Years with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir

I was blessed for 20 years to sing with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir.  This time of year, as we approach the October General Conference of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints,  brings back wonderful memories and feelings.  I loved singing for 3 sessions of every General Conference. I loved the overwhelming Spirit of God that permeated the Tabernacle and later, the Conference Center.  Each building was filled to overflowing with faithful Saints who had come to hear the word of God taught by modern day Prophets of God.  And that is what we heard.  We were taught at the feet of Prophets and heard their sacred witness of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.   They know the Savior!   I was amazed how often our music fit in perfectly with the talks for a particular session.  I could see the Lord’s hand in the proceedings of each Conference.  I felt very humbled to partake of those blessings.

Each member of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir is set apart as a musical missionary.  We get to bear our testimonies through song as we sing the weekly broadcasts of Music and the Spoken Word.  The Choir also travels the globe giving concerts that bring the Spirit of the Lord to thousands and thousands of people.  We sing so people can feel the Holy Ghost.  The Holy Ghost brings peace and happiness and bears witness of the Lord’s love for His children.

The greatest missionary tour that the Choir ever took was a three week tour to Eastern Europe and Russia in 1991.   We traveled to 8 countries:  Germany, France, Switzerland, Austria, Hungary, Czechoslovakia, Poland and Russia.   Four of these countries had been behind the Iron Curtain until shortly before our visit.  But then Velvet Revolutions occurred and the Berlin Wall fell.  We were there to sing to people who had lived for 40 years under oppression and hardship and finally had a new-found freedom.  We could tell as we watched these people that they were hungry and we brought them food—not meat or fruit, but the bread of life—the light of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. The audience response was incredible. We were given standing ovations at every concert and in many of those country’s audiences never give stand ovations.   Many people had tears in their eyes and enthusiastically applauded us and waved until every choir member had filed off stage at the end of our performances.  They didn’t want to leave the concert halls and the special Spirit or feelings they felt there.  We knew that for most of these people, it was the first time they had felt the Holy Ghost.  They didn’t know what they were feeling and they didn’t have a name for it, but they felt it just the same.

My husband accompanied me on this tour and he would always take the opportunity to speak to people when he attended our concerts.  He spoke German, thanks to serving a 2 year mission for our Church in Germany as a young man.  He befriended a couple in Dresden, Germany and gave them a tape of Choir music. They corresponded with us for a while.  This is from their first letter we received after we returned home.  “Your concert was for us a big experience.  The whole auditorium and the choir was like a family and we went home with a good feeling and were very happy.  With great enthusiasm we told our friends about this event.  Thank you for this marvelous evening.  Often we listen to the choir—music from the cassette, this nice gift from you.  Enclosed you will find the criticism from our newspaper.  It is full of praise, not only about the high quality of the performance, but also about the special human atmosphere.”  They were describing the Holy Ghost.

We spent a week in Moscow and St. Petersburg and the strongest impression I had as we traveled through those cities, was that the people never smiled.  I guess there wasn’t a lot to smile about in their lives.  I felt that they were spiritually dead.  I kept thinking to myself, “They need the light of the gospel.”  When we had a chance to talk to the people one on one, I could see that I was wrong.  They had wonderful strong spirits and were beautiful people, but they had been kept in a spiritual prison by their government.  The Choir gave firesides for church members along with our concerts, because many of them couldn’t afford tickets to our concerts.  Steve’s ticket to our St. Petersburg concert cost the equivalent of 18 cents in our money, but the local members still couldn’t afford that much.

We met a beautiful young woman, in her late 20s, after the fireside in St. Petersburg.  She was standing alone and so we approached her and luckily she spoke English.  She had heard about the fireside the night before at our concert and had decided to come and see what the Church was all about.  She said, “What is it about you people?  I feel so warm and good when I am around you.”  I gave her a hug and told her it was because we love her.  She replied, “ You are so entirely different from what I was taught about Americans in school.  What makes you so different?”  At this point I spotted a pair of sister missionaries standing close by.  I pulled them over and said,  “You have to meet her.  She’s golden.”  I was reminded of the Savior saying, “My sheep know my voice.”

Five hundred people traveled on this tour and every one of us had different experiences and opportunities to touch people’s lives.  In Alma 5:7 we read, “Behold, he changed their hearts; yea, he awakened them out of a deep sleep, and they awoke unto God.  Behold they were in the midst of darkness; nevertheless, their souls were illuminated by the light of the everlasting word…”  I am so grateful that I  had the opportunity to participate in these miraculous experiences and see Light come into people’s lives.

Jan