Judy & Willie's talk October 27, 2013 Sacrament meeting.
Before I start rambling, I need to thank some people, from both of us. Rita and Shanna for taking care of our finances and other things while we were gone. Joe and Nancy, and Morgan and Kenna for taking care of our home. Cecil, Shane, and James for fixing up our home. Willie is going to touch on Walter’s help to us so I’ll leave that to him. Sharon for a monthly card. Bishop Brian Taylor for his weekly missionary letters; they were very inspiring. And all of you for your prayers.
OK! Here goes.
I went to the doctor the other day to get a flu shot. After the nurse put me in a room, we of course started talking. In the course of talking, I mentioned that Willie and I had been on a mission in Nauvoo for 18 months. She didn’t give the usual response to this statement that I’ve come to expect from most people. I asked if she knew what Nauvoo was and she said no. Come to find out she isn’t a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day-saints. She did know what a mission is and said she knew a little about The Church.
Then the doctor came in. She was delightful. I don’t know why, but she kind of poured her heart out to me. We, mostly her, talked and talked and talked. She said she is a member, but doesn’t attend meetings very often. She said her bishop asked her what it would take to make her a full-fledged active member in their ward. I asked her why he would say that to her. I mean, look at what she is doing. Her profession is of such great service. She said she saw him a while later somewhere and she told him he wouldn’t believe what she had just been doing. She said she was giving a talk at the baptism of one of her colleagues. I couldn’t help but think that she might be talking at another baptism of her colleagues; the nurse. But, not to get side tracked from the reason I’m telling about this experience. She talked more of her inactivity in the church. She said she told her bishop that she just wants to be a nameless face in the crowd at church. I kind of relate to that statement, in a way. Giving talks and stuff like that. Well, I always say, “I cause earthquakes.” Finally she said that, if the bishop would have got a little more forceful, she probably would start going again. You know, if we were to try to figure out the meaning of this experience, we could go in at least ten different directions. So to avoid judgment, I’ll just move on. I just want you to know “the field is white already to harvest” right where we stand. As Elder Edward Dube of the Seventy said in his conference talk, “My dear brothers and sisters, the covenant we made with the Lord when we were baptized, as found in Mosiah 18:9, to stand as witnesses of God at all times and in all things, and in all places that ye may be in, is a lifelong commitment.”
Right where we stand is probably the thing we need to dissect.
Whether we are “on a mission” or at the grocery store or at the doctor’s office, as President Monson put it in this month's first presidency message, “May we reach out to rescue the lost who surround us: May we extend to them the hand that helps and the heart that knows compassion. By doing so, we will bring joy into their hearts, and we will experience the rich satisfaction that comes to us when we help another along the pathway to eternal life.”
President Monson also said, “Amid the storms of life, danger lurks. Men and women, boys and girls find themselves stranded and facing destruction. Who will guide the lifeboats, leaving behind the comforts of home and family, and go to the rescue? Our task is not insurmountable. We are on the Lord’s errand; we are entitled to His help. During the Master’s ministry, He called fishermen at Galilee to leave their nets and follow Him, declaring, “I will make you fishers of men.” May we join the ranks of the fishers of men and women, that we might provide whatever help we can.”
One thing I learned while in Nauvoo, I mean, I always knew it, but it was brought to the forefront of my mind is that our Heavenly Father, Jesus Christ, and The Holy Ghost are always right by us to help and guide us.
Like I said, I cause earthquakes when I have to talk in front of people. But in Nauvoo it was, like, a miracle. I could stand in front of people, sometimes lots of people, in those sacred historic sites and give tours and I didn’t even feel that quaking inside. Oh, I admit, one time I did. I was serving in Scovil Bakery and 3 people, 2 men and a woman came there. Well, I had to look at one of them 3 or 4 times before I would believe that he was Elder Dallin H. Oaks sitting in front of me. There ended up being 4 of them. Elder Oaks, his wife and another couple. I have to admit, I was a little shaky that time. It was a miracle that I could even give that tour. You know, miracles happen to us all the time. We just have to open our hearts and minds to the fact that they are miracles and give credit to their source.
We’ve seen many miracles in our lives, especially while we were in Nauvoo. I think Willie is going to tell about some of the others, so, as we would say in Nauvoo, I better not steel his thunder.
I think the thing I had to learn there that was hard to accept was this: We didn’t get to see the rest of the story when we felt like we had maybe planted a seed or two in someone who came on a tour. I just had to come to trust Heavenly Father more; to realize He knows the rest of the story and is guiding the work, His work! He knows exactly who and when and where each of us need to be and what we need and He is over it all. All we have to do is put our faith and trust in Him, open our mouths and let the Holy Ghost guide us. Then we can be a part of what the theme of General and Stake Conference was about, “Hastening the Work of Salvation.”
Like Elder S. Gifford Nielson of the Seventy said in General Conference, “What would you do if the prophet of the Lord really called you? Well, he has! President Thomas S. Monson, as he did once again this morning, has called each one of us to a very important work. He said, “Now is the time for members and missionaries to come together, to work together, to labor in the Lord’s vineyard to bring souls unto Him” (“Faith in the Work of Salvation” [worldwide leadership training broadcast, June 2013]; lds.org/broadcasts). Have we been listening? All over the world, stakes, districts, and missions are experiencing a new level of energy, as the Savior’s declaration to Joseph Smith in 1832 is being fulfilled: “Behold, I will hasten my work in its time” (D&C 88:73). Brothers and sisters, that time is now! I feel it, and I’m sure you do also.”
This past 18 months has been great. I can’t say it was a vacation, it was work, but I can say it was worth it.
I invite each of you to take a step forward from whatever place you are in your lives to come or to come back to Christ. Learn of Him and as Elder Dube said, “follow steadily and fully in the footsteps of our Savior. In the sight of the Lord, it is not so much what we have done or where we have been but much more where we are willing to go.” I loved Elder Edward Dube’s talk. I invite you to access it on LDS.org and listen to the whole thing. He said, “Our dear prophet, President Thomas S. Monson; his counselors; and the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles have extended an invitation for us all to participate in the work of salvation. The new converts, youth, young adults, those who have retired from their professions, and full-time missionaries need to be equally yoked in hastening the work of salvation."
I testify that our Heavenly Father and our Savior are aware of each of us, our needs and wants, and waits longingly for us to unlock the door so he can help us. He has given us our free agency and will not step on that, but will jump at the chance to help us if we humble ourselves and ask through prayer, that great key to unlock the door.
It humbles me to, like Elder Neilsen did at the end of his Conference talk, “add my testimony to that of the Prophet Joseph Smith: Quote; “And now, after the many testimonies which have been given of him, this is the testimony, last of all, which we give of him: That he lives!” Unquote. (D&C 76:22). In the sacred name of Jesus Christ, amen.Willie's talk:
Just as the scriptures apply to the past, present, and future, so do these words so eloquently shared by our Prophet, President Thomas S. Monson. “Missionary service is a priesthood duty – an obligation the Lord expects of us who have been given so very much. Keep yourselves clean and pure and worthy to represent the Lord. Maintain your health and strength. Study the scriptures…we need many, many more senior couples.
Last week, I was impressed with Elder Vanworkem’s direct call for us to repent. So, I begin my talk with a direct statement.
A lot more senior people CAN go on missions. There is a way if you are prompted. Stumbling blocks that are keeping you from a mission can be overcome with the help of your Bishop and through your faith. Your mission may not look like what YOU had planned, but it WILL be what the LORD had planned for you.
A few of our stumbling blocks were:
· Leaving our home
· Leaving our family
· Not feeling spiritually prepared
· And, my health.
Sister Scott and I experienced so many of what we referred to as “Nauvoo Miracles.” They began before we were even called to serve.
We overcame the stumbling block of money. One of the items on my bucket list was to serve a mission to Nauvoo and give rides on the wagons and carriages. I was blessed to go to Nauvoo, but I was a teamster for only a short period. Later, I’ll talk about how the Lord realigned my priorities to match His.
But back to the issue of money…On-line, it said the Nauvoo mission was $2,700 per month. We didn’t think we could afford that. We talked to Bishop Chugg and he thought that sounded high. He called Nauvoo and they said it would cost about $700, so we put in our paperwork, having complete faith in the Bishop’s guidance. By the time we left, the cost of senior missions was standardized, reducing the cost even further.
A Nauvoo Miracle occurred when we both fell asleep while I was driving. We woke up in the medium going 65 miles per hour. I testify to you that angels were helping me at the wheel. What could have been a financial and health nightmare became a testimony building experience. The car was not damaged at all.
In our absence, each of our family contributed. I say its repayment for all the cornflakes. We came home better off financially than when we left.
So, if any of you seniors, and by that I really mean old people, are struggling financially, I suggest that you talk with your Bishop about going on a mission.
We also faced the stumbling block of leaving our home. You know how I feel about my garden. Even though we don’t have a lot economically, our home is our castle.
In Nauvoo, we found a new castle when we gazed upon the beautiful Nauvoo Temple. I learned to deeply love the Saints who sacrificed so much. They were common people who kept building the Temple when things got tough, knowing they would have to leave it.
I loved to give tours in the Jonathon Browning Home and Gun Shop. It wasn’t because I love guns; it was because of the Spirit that was felt when taking the visitors in the backyard.
The view of the Temple there was perfect. I would call attention to a small grave in the garden, that of their six-week-old baby daughter. Then, I shared my testimony that because of their Temple ordinances, they are with that daughter today.
We had a nice home in Nauvoo. There was only one problem. I would put the garbage out Friday morning. When I came home, I found the can put away. I asked our neighbor if he was doing it. He said, I think the squirrels are doing it. We took a picture of the can and emailed it to our son Walter.
He generated a squirrel with a harness pulling our can. Our neighbor, Elder Hiel, really chuckled when he saw it. He admitted that sometimes he was the squirrel.
Our concern has melted into thankfulness to the Lord and our family. Our home will be nicer now than when we left.
I think family is a stumbling block that concerns a lot of seniors. When we opened our mission call, I started thanking everyone for coming to be there with us. Our youngest son Walter said, “Well, it’s not every day that we get the chance to get rid of you.”
You would think that would have helped, but we still missed our family. However, senior missionaries don’t have the same rules as young missionaries; we were frequently in contact with our family through cell phone and the internet.
As for spiritual preparedness, the MTC gave us an excellent beginning, but we soon learned that nothing will prepare you for everything. We learned to act on our promptings. If you think you are weak and can’t do it, the Holy Ghost will guide you.
It amazed me to find out how easy it is to share the gospel, as easy as telling one of my stories. If you think you can’t do it, pray, take faithful actions, and there won’t be a stumbling block that won’t be overcome.
Fear was a big stumbling block for us. It really was at the root of our concerns.
At our farewell, President John Watson quoted D&C 1:17-23. Verse 23 says, “That the fullness of my gospel might be proclaimed by the weak and the simple unto the ends of the world, and before kings and rulers.” Then he said, “They will have this opportunity while on their mission.” Judy said, “Did you feel it when he said that?” She said she felt the Spirit go through her from head to toe, making every part of her body tingle with the truth of his words.
We were promised courage when set apart. We felt this as we asked questions and imparted knowledge according to the Spirit. I testify to you that the Spirit helped us do things we would not have previously been comfortable with.
One of those times happened while I was getting my hair cut. I asked the hairdresser a few questions, including if she knew anything about The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.
A little ways into our discussion, she said, “I really need something.” I told her, we have that something. Will you allow the missionaries to come to you?
She explained that she lived with a man and had 3 children by him. The Spirit guided and I testified strongly to her that she needed to change to have the Lord help with the problems she faced. She agreed and I completed a referral card with her.
The referral card went through normal processes and another Nauvoo Miracle happened. It ended up in the hands of my great-nephew, Elder Parry. Elder Parry and his companion were invited into her home and began teaching her and her family.
I also overcame fear and listened to the Spirit when serving at the Post Office. I was prompted that a family had a problem. I asked, “Do you have a problem?” They then told me that they locked the keys in their vehicle.
While the parents with me to unlock their vehicle, the children sat in the warm car with Judy. When she found out they were from Quincy Illinois, she told them how the saints were cared for by the people of Quincy. I know the Lord wanted them to hear it.
My health was a huge stumbling block.
As promised, I’ll explain how I finally got the message that the Lord had different plans for me. I started my mission as a teamster, skills that are so needed. I loved working with the horses and giving rides.
One day, I was standing on a platform to harness the team and fell off, tearing my rotary cuff. I was reassigned to give tours in the sites. I worked diligently to heal to get back to the horses.
Then, I fell again in the Family Living Center, reinjuring my shoulder. The doctor said I required surgery to regain use of that arm. I didn’t want to come home, but wasn’t given a choice.
The doctor in Ogden said I wasn’t a candidate for surgery. Even though I could hardly move my arm, we knew we needed to go back. With faith in our hearts and prayer on our lips, we returned to Nauvoo. I worked hard and many prayed for me. Today, I have full motion in that shoulder.
During our last month, my friend Elder Dr. Miller, two other Elders, and I walked the 22 mile Martyrdom Trail between Nauvoo and Carthage.
Dr. Miller man is my dear friend. His encouragement alone has healing power. He makes house calls with not just a medical bag; he brings a vial of consecrated oil and healing priesthood in his hands. He wrote that there were 2 miracle missionaries in the mission. I was one of those 2. He is one of my Nauvoo Miracles.
The Mission President and Sister Gilliland said, we can’t believe it. Aren’t you the person we sent home because you needed surgery and didn’t have the health to have it here, and you’re walking to Carthage?
I testify to you that I am deeply blessed.
In the Stoddard Tin Shop, I showed a gingerbread cookie cutter last. I’d say, go to Scovil Bakery. He was a good man and they’ll tell you a good story. I teasingly told the children, they’ll give you a gingerbread cookie. Be gracious and accept it, but it’s not good for you. Bring it back to me and I’ll take care of it.
One day, I was the one surprised when a little girl was back with her cookie in hand, her family waiting for her and watching from the sidewalk. The Christ like love of many left us with special memories of our mission.
The Prophet asked us to hasten the work of salvation. So, go on a mission when it’s right. Share the gospel whether you are on a mission or not. The saints of old did many hard things and we can do this thing that our Prophet asked!
I want to end by asking for your help. We met the dearest waitress there. We felt of her strong spirit as we grew to know her. We asked her if she would like the missionaries to come. She said yes, but she was busy with children, home, school, job, and so forth, and couldn’t find the time.
I ask YOU to pray for “Judy and Willie’s waitress to find the time and enough desire to have the missionaries come to her home and teach her and her family.”
You will join us in not knowing the rest of this story, but in trusting the Lord in her behalf.
Our lives are testimonies that if you commit to serve the Lord, He will provide a way. I know that He will strengthen your weaknesses. I say these things in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.
4:36 PM (2 hours ago)