Sunday, June 22, 2014

Turning the corner

In every race, the racers "turn the corner" and enter the "home stretch".  As we approach our final month we feel like that is what we are doing.  In the Book of Mormon, Jacob said these words:  

"And it came to pass that I, Jacob, began to be old; (we, Greg and Debi also feel old!) and the record of this people being kept on the other plates of Nephi, (our personal journals) wherefore, I conclude this record (our blog), declaring that I have written according to the best of my knowledge, by saying that the time passed away with us, and also our lives passed away like as it were unto us a dream, we being a lonesome and a solemn people (only Greg is loathsome) , wanderers, cast out from Jerusalem (Hooper), born in tribulation, in a wilderness, and hated of our brethren, which caused wars and contentions; wherefore, we did mourn out our days."

Well, we don't know about the mourning out our days, but we have wandered a bit these past 23 months. Soon we will "settle down" but not yet!

And this is not our last post.

By Debi:

Greg and I have a lot of different assignments in the office and one of them is the supplies for the office and whole mission.  This is a picture of our supply closet.  It is full of Books of Mormon in English and about 20 other languages.  We have shelves full of all of the pamphlets the Church produces, DVD's the missionaries show to their investigators and the daily planners that the missionaries us everyday.



These three Elders are assigned to the Independence area.  They live close to the office and we see them often.  Starting in the back they are: Elder Brasseaux, Elder Elwood, and Elder Huston.  They are great missionaries and very excited about preaching the gospel to the world.  They found out that President Keyes holds the mission record of handing out 323 Books of Mormon in a month when he was here as a young Elder.  These three decided to accept the challenge and are on their way to breaking his record. (Notice the picture above.  Those are cases of Books of Mormon. The picture below we are almost running out!)




There are some rules they have to follow.  It has to be a good contact and a promise that they will read the book.  They can't go to a home and hand out five books to one family.  They have to stay in their area.  So far when I saw them on Friday they had handed out 275 books. If they continue they will reach their goal.  We are all cheering for them.  They are getting exhausted but still have the fire!


Last week President and Sister Keyes sent their last group of missionaries home.  Each transfer the President and Sister Keyes takes the Sisters and Elders to the temple on their way to the airport.  It is a very special day for all of them. This is a picture of them just coming out of the Kansas City Temple. This is a very special group.  One that will be remembered by all.  Some of the best of the best are in this group.  It was a very emotional day for the Keyes.  They are very involved with each missionary and love them with a pure love. We have all been blessed by their leadership and love.


In the middle of May we had a very special two days.  President and Sister Keyes had all of the missionaries of the mission come to the temple.  The missionaries were divided up into 4 groups.  The President and Sister Keyes went with each group through the temple.  This is a picture of one of the groups entering the temple.  What a picture of a magnificent group of young men (the Sisters had already entered the temple before I could get my camera ready).  As I watched them enter the temple I was over come with gratitude to be able to have the experience of seeing the strength of the youth in this Church in action.  We love these missionaries.




Even though I am so excited to see my children and grandchildren and to have them in my arms I will always cherish the memories of this mission and the blessing it has been in my live.

By Greg:

I still am amazed at this area.  Independence has so much history.  There are old neighborhoods that seem to speak out to me.  Also, the greater Kansas City area is so cool.

Debi had an assignment a couple of  Saturdays ago and I had some time alone.  I went to the annual Independence Strawberry Festival, which wasn't that great, and they did not really have any strawberries, but it was at this old mansion, and that was pretty great.



There is a lot of what some people call "Old Money" around here.  Some of that money was used to build nice houses.  This mansion is on the road that used to come from the docks on the Missouri River to the center of Independence, which is about 2 miles long, up hill from the river.

Independence claims to be the trail head for three trails: the Santa Fe, the Oregon, and the California. The Mormon Trail west did not start here, but rather from here  went to northern Missouri, then to Nauvoo, then to Winter Quarters Iowa, and then west.  But the three trails got their supplies and goods from the river, and then loaded them on wagons and off they went.  Thousands and thousands of men, mules and wagons, and wealth.  Hence, Josiah Steed. Later, the main port moved west a few miles to Westport, or really, Kansas City.

Last Saturday we went on a bike ride back to the river park by the plaza.  They were having a Dragon Boat Festival, like a Chinese New Year.  It was cool.  We cheered on the local Rotary team as they went on to victory.  None of them were Chinese, but hey, I used to be a Rotarian!




One more thing about Independence.  This is a "Latter-day Saint" town.  I have come to love and admire the sons of Joseph Smith, the Seer.  I am not happy about the "restoration movement" and I wish Emma had gone west with Brigham, but her sons were good, kind and gentle men who sought to establish Zion through preaching peace.  I hope this story has a happy ending.

The RLDS established a college here, lots of churches, a hospital, and a cemetery.  We drove through it and realized it is the final resting place of more people than just deceased RLDS, but it contains the bodies of a lot of RLDS people. Here we found the "Sons of the Prophet".

This is the grave of Joseph Smith III, 1st President of the RLDS Church (that is me on the right)
Frederick Madison Smith, son of Joseph III, was the 2nd President He died in 1946
Israel A. Smith was the younger brother of F. M. Smith and was president until 1958

In 1958, (I was 6 years old) William Wallace Smith, half brother to Israel became president. He served until his son made him emeritus and assumed the role of president.  He was Wallace B. Smith.  In 1996, he ordained W. Grant McMurray as prophet and president, and all the hoop-ta-la about lineal succession seemed not as important as it once was.

We attended a baptism yesterday.  A young adult, who will be part of the branch was baptized.  A lot of the branch was there.  Six sister missionaries, one set of Elders, us, a bishop and the branch president.  It is so important that people come into this Church with support.  We saw it yesterday.

Oh, that many more, hundreds, even thousands, perhaps millions, will hear this call to "Come unto Christ".

"In the Missouri Independence Mission we find, teach, baptize, confirm, retain and activate."  That is our motto.

Our purpose as missionaries is to "invite others to come unto Christ by helping them receive the restored gospel through faith in Jesus Christ and His Atonement, repentance, baptism, receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost, and enduring to the end."

As we approach the end of our mission, we feel to join with Moroni and declare:

"Yea, come unto Christ, and be perfected in him, and deny yourselves of all ungodliness; and if ye shall deny yourselves of all ungodliness, and love God with all your might, mind and strength, then is his grace sufficient for you, that by his grace ye may be perfect in Christ; and if by the grace of God ye are perfect in Christ, ye can in nowise deny the power of God.
 And again, if ye by the grace of God are perfect in Christ, and deny not his power, then are ye sanctified in Christ by the grace of God, through the shedding of the blood of Christ, which is in the covenant of the Father unto the remission of your sins, that ye become holy, without spot.
 And now I bid unto all, farewell. I soon go to rest in the paradise of God, until my spirit and body shall again reunite, and I am brought forth triumphant through the air, to meet you before the pleasing bar of the great Jehovah, the Eternal Judge of both quick and dead. Amen."

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