Baton Rouge Louisiana Temple

Baton Rouge Louisiana Temple

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Learning to Live by the Spirit

I'm writng today's blog backwards in an effort to fit in text and pictures the way I want them and not the way the computer wants them.  After church we drove through the sleepy litte town of Plaquemine. Maybe it's only sleepy on Sundays.  I don't really know. We'd seen something that said the largest Catholic church in Louisiana, St. John the Evangelist, is here. We actually found it with no problem--kind of hard to miss! Unfortunately it was locked up tighter than a drum. I guess they don't hang around and have more meetings and visit like we do.  Anyway, we'll absolutely make a point of visiting there at Christmas. The rectoy was beautifully decorated with the nativity, shepherds, wise men and everything you'd expect to see in Bethlehem at that sacred time of year.  I wanted to see the 150' aisle so that's when I found a picture on the internet. It'll have to do for now.

I just love going to our little branch.  Apparently the past 2-3 have been unusually "crowded" with visitors, but today it was more just the usual local members. And I was beginning to think that it was a pretty big branch.  It was High Council Sunday and the Brother Hansen brought his daughter, Ryland, as his companion speaker.  What a delight she was!

Ryland hadn't been given a specific subject, so she chose her own--something she said she needed to work on--patience. She had my attention from the start! Ryland said that patience is a virture and necessary to attain all of the Young Women Values.

Sister Thornley, one of the sister missionaries, also spoke. She said that each week their district works specifically on a Christlike attribute and shared a personal story from a few months ago about learning patience with a new companion. But her principal message was listening to and understanding the Spirit.  She had some outstanding things to say and, of course, used scriptures, but I want to try to pen a personal experience that shared.  It happened when she was about 10 years old.  She'd gone with an older sister to pick up her sister's paycheck. Her sister asked if she'd be okay waiting in the car while she ran in to Taco Time.  Sister Thornley said yes, and was waiting in the back seat of the car with the engine running when something told her to get down and stay down.  She didn't even look around but immediately leaned over, probably with her little heart pounding, when she heard a car pull up by her and a very vocal man got out.  She didn't know why he was so loud but thought he might be drunk. After a few minutes the noise stopped a she again felt something telling her that it was alright to get up.  She did and saw nothing.  She said she cried all the way home but was so relieved.  Quoting from her words, she said, "Trust me. I don't want to know what would've happened."  That's such a good lesson--not needing to know why she listened to the Spirit.  She just did and was blessed!

Brother Hansen's assigned topic was self-reliance and emergency preparedness. Much of his talk was taken from Elder L. Tom Perry's conference talk, October 1995, "If Ye Are Prepared Ye Shall Not Fear."  I can refer to that at any time, so what I'm posting is something he largely quoted from about an experience that happened in Santiago, Chile in 2010.  I'd read this before and asked Brother H where to find it as it's not on but was in the Church News in March, 2010.  It's somewhat lengthy but well worth reading and brought tears to my eyes as it refers to two things I'm becoming well acquainted with--missionaries and earthquakes.

Sister Lisa Laycock, wife of Chile Santiago East Mission President Larry Laycock, sent an e-mail to family and friends about the earthquake that hit the country on Feb. 27. She asked that her message be shared "in hopes it may inspire others." Here are excerpts from her e-mail:

"I am writing to let you all know how very grateful we are for your prayers, concern, and love. Please keep praying! We need the Lord's help and guidance in order to do all He would have us do to learn what He would have us learn from this earthquake tragedy, and to minister in the way He would have us minister. During the past few days, we have witnessed many events which serve to remind us that the Lord is in charge and that as missionaries and members of His church, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, we are performing His work, and as President [Thomas S.] Monson teaches, 'When we are on the Lord's errand, we are entitled to His help.' I want to share with you a few miracles that will help you to understand our profound feelings of gratitude.

"When we were set apart for this calling, Elder [Richard G.] Scott of the [Council] of the Twelve Apostles taught us many important lessons. He spoke from personal experience when he was a mission president in Argentina. One message that he shared with us is this: 'At times, during your mission, you will be awakened in the middle of the night or the early morning hours with thoughts of specific things you should do for certain missionaries. Do not ignore these thoughts. They are promptings from the Holy Ghost who will communicate with you in the stillness of the night or the peace of the early morning hours. He will speak to you then because that is when you are still enough to hear.' Elder Scott further instructed us to keep a notebook beside our bed so that we could record these precious promptings. He said that by the next morning, we would be likely to forget the promptings if we didn't write them down.

"We have been astonished at the fulfillment of Elder Scott's prophetic words. We have received many promptings in the exact manner that Elder Scott described. We are so thankful that Elder Scott taught us how to recognize and act upon these precious promptings. Had he not taught us, we may not have given these promptings the attention they require.
"Nearly two and one half weeks [before the earthquake], I was awakened at around 4 a.m. by just such a prompting. I did not hear a voice, but the thought was as clear as if it had been in the form of spoken words: 'There is going to be an earthquake. Prepare your missionaries.' I sat up in bed and immediately remembered Elder Scott's counsel. That morning I told Larry what had happened. He immediately set to work organizing our missionaries to prepare for an earthquake.

"In talking with our office missionaries to arrange for them to put together a list of everything we would need to both Spanish and English...we discovered that the Lord had also let two of our office missionaries know of the possibility of an earthquake (in the form of dreams) and the need to prepare our mission. We set a goal and arranged our schedule so that we could visit every apartment in the mission to check for safety and to review with our missionaries what to do in case of an earthquake. What a wonderful experience we have had as we have met with them and shared scriptures with them about being spiritually and physically prepared. '...if ye are prepared, ye shall not fear' (D&C 38:30). We instructed every missionary to have a "go-bag" (36 hour kit). We reviewed our emergency action plan with them of where to go and what to do if they had phone service and in case they did not. We gave everyone a paper with all instructions in English and Spanish, and we reminded them that 'this life is the time to prepare to meet God' (Alma 34:32-34). We shared with them our thoughts and feelings about the need for spiritual and physical safety. Some of them became frightened and asked us if we knew something they didn't know. We smiled and repeated '...if ye are prepared, ye shall not fear.' We didn't want to unduly alarm them, but we did want to impress upon them the need to be prepared. We tearfully reminded them of our recent transfer conference where we had shared our feelings about our dear Elder McKay Burrows who was unexpectedly called home in January while serving his mission in he was prepared in every way to meet God. We reissued our challenge to 'be prepared' in every way. Then we knelt with them in their apartment and dedicated each apartment, asking for a blessing of safety and security to be upon every apartment.

"When the earthquake came, we were prepared. We did not experience the panic that many felt. We knew we were prepared. Because of the words of the Lord's chosen apostle, Elder Scott, we had listened and heeded the quiet, but clear promptings of the Holy Ghost. We were blessed with peace in the midst of chaos. We learned an important lesson: our preparation helped us to avoid panic and fear, but the Lord, in His wisdom, allowed us to experience enough discomfort to know that He has all power. He is in charge. We are nothing without Him. We are dependent upon Him for every breath we take. Only He can save us from death and destruction. He is the way, the truth, and the life. He is our perfect example. If we follow Him, we will be saved through obedience to the laws and ordinances of His Gospel.
"As the earthquake became more violent, the mission home groaned and wailed. The power died, so the whole city was black. The windows made a hideous screeching sound, and flying objects banged against swaying walls. The printer/fax machine, books, book ends, and fifty-pound television burst from the entertainment center and crashed to the floor, cabinets emptied, drawers flew open, the refrigerator moved, water sloshed out of the toilets, the floor jolted up and down as we ran across it trying to hold onto the walls to keep from falling down, and the piano toppled over like a small toy. As we made our way to the back yard, I remember thinking, 'God is all-powerful. He is our only refuge from this horrible mess.' I prayed and prayed for Him to still the earth. When we reached the back yard, we watched in terror. By the light of the moon we could see the swimming pool water form giant waves and crash out onto the rocks. House and car alarms screamed into the night...some from being crushed by falling debris and others I guess from the bizarre movement of the earth. I am not sure if the intense rumbling sounds came from the earth itself or from everything else that was shaking so violently. Finally, it stopped. When the calm came, we had to sit down because our legs were weak and unstable. My legs stayed wobbly all day and night yesterday. Today (Feb. 28) the muscles in my legs hurt like I ran a marathon. The aftershocks have been extremely unsettling. Each one begins like the one last night started. We just close our eyes and wait to see if it escalates or dies down. I have never experienced anything like this!

"We were awakened this morning by a very strong after shock....

"Today, we attended a strong ward where [President Laycock] was invited to speak. The entire chapel and beyond was filled. People were so humble and so teachable. [He] taught the importance of doing the small things. He taught about Jesus Christ and the opportunity we have to love one another and to share what we have with others. It was a great blessing for us to be with these beautiful Chilean people. Some have lost their homes...or at least parts of their homes. But they are strong and they want to serve the Lord. He taught of the scripture in Luke 21:11, 13 which says, 'and great earthquakes shall be in divers places...and it shall turn to you for a testimony.' He also welcomed the sweet young woman who was in the congregation with the missionaries...her first time attending church...and then [from the pulpit] he invited her to be baptized. He asked her to please invite us to her baptism, and she said, "I will." The Lord always knows what His people need. [Our son] Landon was reading in Alma 15:17 today. He said, 'Mom listen to this. This is what is happening here in Chile just like in happened in Ammonihah. The people were humbled and "checked as to the pride of their hearts and began to humble themselves before God, watching and praying continually that they might be delivered from Satan, and from death, and from destruction."'

"Our hearts are filled to the brim with gratitude for all of the blessings we have received in the Chile Santiago East Mission. We see miracles every day. In the midst of great pain and suffering, we can always find our Savior. He stands with His arms open, pleading for all of us to humble ourselves and come unto Him. He loves us. He invites us to accept His gift...the Atonement. He invites us to repent. He wants us to love one another and to serve one another. He wants us to bring our families and those we love to Him. We can do it. We can do all that He asks, no matter how difficult it may

"We are having a devotional tomorrow (March 1) for all of our missionaries to talk about the last week of Christ's life in preparation for Easter. We want to remind our missionaries to teach and preach with increased vigor and 'animo' of Christ. ..."seem. 'With God all things are possible.'...

 Published in The Church News, Wednesday, March 3, 2010

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