Our sacrament meeting program today was one that I will long remember. Brother and Sister Steve Brown, who have served a mission at Martin's Cove in Wyoming, gave us a spiritual treat today. Recounting their own experience of being out in Martin's Cove in freezing weather, they helped us appreciate the extreme weather conditions those handcart pioneers endured. They also shared with us some other details they had learned through study of that great epic in history of the Church. I shall never be the same. I had seen the video "Seventeen Miracles," but even that could only partially enable me to appreciate what it was like to be there. One of the great lessons taught by the survivors of that great experience is that they remained faithful throughout their lives and chastised others who criticized the church leaders for ever allowing it to happen.
Yesterday I received a phone call from a cousin in Oregon who grew up in a home without the influence of the Church. Some high school friends introduced him to the true Gospel, and he soon made the decision to serve a mission. After completing his mission to New Zealand, he came home, married in the temple and had three children before his wife "flipped," got a divorce and ( I gather) did not give their children the training that one would expect from an LDS member. Some of you missionaries who have been serving many months have read in my previous letters how I had been looking into a phone book of my mother's side of the family and noticed Jim;s phone number in Portland, Oregon. I decided to give him a call, and I'm glad I did. While I had little previous contact with him, I did meet him when he was on his way to the mission field. My phone call to him turned into a very close relationship. He came to visit me two years ago, and he brought a young man who was not LDS, but came from a dysfunctional family. The young man went to church with me during our visit, and I hear he is now being taught by the missionaries.
But back to Jim--when he phoned yesterday, he had a tale of woe to share with me. He had gone to visit a family member, placed his complete family records into a duffle bag and threw it into the back of his pickup, and drove away. Somewhere along the trip he left his pickup for awhile. When he returned, he found someone had stolen his duffle bag with its precious contents. Jim is not computer literate, so the records were all handwritten. He and I have spent almost two years together trying to complete his family data. Since he does not use a computer, I am trying to figure the best way to share my family records that I have on my computer. To create my family record I had used the old PAF program, which the Church has now discarded in favor of more modern software. My grandson who is serving an internship with the Church History department, indicates it is not as simple a matter as I had at first assumed. Since he is a software specialist, I feel sure he will figure out a solution to the problem. But this whole experience has taught me to treat my extensive family records as some of my most prized possessions (which they are).
In closing I would like to refer to some results of our joint Relief Society-Priesthood class today--primarily for the benefit of the younger members of our ward missionary "corps." Men and women were asked to share their opinions about the most important ways of using the priesthood to "bless" the marriage. For the benefit of you younger missionaries, I must say that before you ever go to the temple and make those special covenants, please STUDY D. & C. Section 121. Then remember that to have a successful, eternal marriage, act as if everything depends on YOU, not on your companion.
How very fortunate you are to be WHERE you are and DOING what you have been called by the Lord to do.