14 February 2016 Report
We have both been feeling better this week and as a result, we have been calling on people. We always pray the Lord will direct us to call on people He has prepared for the Gospel message. This week has been a great example of how the Lord has directed us.
Tuesday we called at the home of a young man who has just been released from the Purgatory Correctional Facility (Jail). He was not there, but his grandmother, with whom he lives, visited with us about him. She said he was not home – he was at a mandatory meeting on anger management. We left our calling card and a plate of brownies. While we were in the neighborhood, we stopped at Costco. While there, we received a phone call from the young man and he said he wanted to talk to us. We went back to the home and had a great visit. He said he had been a gang member and a drug user in his youth (he appears to be in his 20’s). While he was in jail there were two Church service missionaries that taught the prisoners about Christ’s atonement, repentance, and forgiveness. He was motivated to read the Book of Mormon and to change his life. Whoever the missionaries at the jail were – they had a tremendous influence on this young man. He said he used to be in something comparable to the Gadianton Robbers and the dark side of life. He said he now wants to live on the light side of life. We told him we would be on his support team and would do all we could to help him. Elder Elkington then gave him a blessing. When we left that home, we felt we had been with a very enthusiastic young missionary. Our Father in Heaven must be very happy –a prodigal son has returned.
Wednesday we called on a man whose 24 year old son died in October from a drug overdose. We had a friendly visit and then told him he needs to bring his family and come to Church. We told him they need the Church in their lives and the Church needs them. He said he knows that is true and that he and his wife need to set the example for their unbaptized 17 year old son. We told him they could be sealed in the temple as a family in less than a year, if they started preparing now. We told him he could have his two deceased children sealed to them so they can be an eternal family. With emotion he told us that when their young daughter died many years ago, he and his wife were walking outside the hospital (between the hospital and the temple) and heard their daughter’s voice say, “temple”. We told him we would like to visit when the family can all be there so we can help them prepare for the temple. We could feel God’s love as we joined in prayer.
Many of the families we contact have unbaptized children over age eight. But the parents are members of the Church – they have just drifted away from activity. It reminds me of a verse I learned when I served a mission about fifty years ago.
TWAS A SHEEP, NOT A LAMB
Twas a sheep, not a lamb,
That strayed away in the parable Jesus told.
A grown-up sheep that had gone astray
From the ninety and nine in the fold.
Out on the hillside, out in the cold,
Twas a sheep the Good Shepherd sought.
And back to the flock, safe into the fold,
Twas a sheep the Good Shepherd brought.
And why for the sheep should we earnestly long
And as earnestly hope and pray?
Because there is danger if they go wrong,
They will lead the lambs astray.
For the lambs will follow the sheep, you know,
Wherever the sheep may stray;
When the sheep go wrong,
It will not be long till the lambs are as wrong as they.
And so with the sheep we earnestly plead,
For the sake of the lambs today;
If the sheep are lost,
What a terrible cost the lambs will have to pay
We see children who have not been taught the gospel and who have no reason to want to be baptized because they have not been taught that they have a Father in Heaven who loves them, and that they have a Savior who atoned for their sins if they would but accept him as their Savior and follow his commandments. Then the parent will tell us, ”I’m leaving it to the child to decide if they want to be baptized.” Years ago, as a young bishop, I asked a less-active (inactive would be more accurate) father about his eight year old son being baptized. He said he was going to let his son make that decision. I told him his son would want to be like his father if he was not taught the gospel. The father looked at me and said, “Is that bad?” I told him I could not answer that, he would have to.We know God loves these Native American children and they do not have much of a chance staying active in the Church if their parents do not go to Church. We see people we have fellowshipped, attending Church – we pray they will retain the Spirit in their lives. (Today three children and a mother from the Reservation were at Church). We know we will always remember and love them.