Thursday, August 31, 2017

Remember Lot's Wife

As missionaries we have the opportunity to discuss different teachings from the Gospel of Jesus Christ with our brothers and sisters here in Belize.  One of Christ's teachings we recently discussed with a family is forgiveness.  

As our discussion progressed, we paused and viewed this video below by Elder Holland, one of the Apostles.  As we listened to the video, we were reminded to "remember Lot's wife".  

Elder Holland councils:  "There is something in us, at least in too many of us, that particularly fails to forgive and forget earlier mistakes in life—either mistakes we ourselves have made or the mistakes of others. That is not good. It is not Christian. It stands in terrible opposition to the grandeur and majesty of the Atonement of Christ. To be tied to earlier mistakes—our own or other people’s—is the worst kind of wallowing in the past from which we are called to cease and desist."

I invite you to listen to this 6 minute video and remember Lot's wife.  
You can see the above video by clicking here 
You can also see the whole talk given at BYU on their webpage by clicking here.

Remember Lot's Wife
by Jeffery R. Holland
Jan. 13, 2009 • Devotional, Brigham Young University

As a scriptural theme for this discussion, I have chosen the second-shortest verse in all of holy scripture. It is Luke 17:32, where the Savior cautions, “Remember Lot’s wife.”

The original story, of course, comes to us out of the days of Sodom and Gomorrah, when the Lord, having had as much as He could stand of the worst that men and women could do, told Lot and his family to flee because those cities were about to be destroyed. “Escape for thy life,” the Lord said, “look not behind thee . . . ; escape to the mountain, lest thou be consumed” (Genesis 19:17; emphasis added).

With less than immediate obedience and more than a little negotiation, Lot and his family ultimately did leave town, but just in the nick of time. The scriptures tell us what happened at daybreak the morning following their escape:

The Lord rained upon Sodom and upon Gomorrah brimstone and fire from the Lord out of heaven;  And he overthrew those cities. [Genesis 19:24–25]

With the Lord’s counsel “look not behind thee” ringing clearly in her ears, Lot’s wife, the record says, “looked back.”

It is possible that Lot’s wife looked back with resentment toward the Lord for what He was asking her to leave behind. It isn’t just that she looked back; she looked back longingly. In short, her attachment to the past outweighed her confidence in the future.

I plead with you not to dwell on days now gone, nor to yearn vainly for yesterdays, however good those yesterdays may have been. We remember that faith is always pointed toward the future. Faith always has to do with blessings and truths and events that will yet be efficacious in our lives. So a more theological way to talk about Lot’s wife is to say that she did not have faith. She doubted the Lord’s ability to give her something better than she already had. She thought that nothing that lay ahead could possibly be as good as those moments she was leaving behind.

There is something in us, at least in too many of us, that particularly fails to forgive and forget earlier mistakes in life—either mistakes we ourselves have made or the mistakes of others. That is not good. It is not Christian. It stands in terrible opposition to the grandeur and majesty of the Atonement of Christ. To be tied to earlier mistakes—our own or other people’s—is the worst kind of wallowing in the past from which we are called to cease and desist.

I can’t tell you the number of couples I have counseled who, when they are deeply hurt or even just deeply stressed, reach farther and farther into the past to find yet a bigger brick to throw through the window “pain” of their marriage. When something is over and done with, when it has been repented of as fully as it can be repented of, when life has moved on as it should and a lot of other wonderfully good things have happened since then, it is not right to go back and open up some ancient wound that the Son of God Himself died trying to heal.

Let people repent. Let people grow. Believe that people can change and improve. Is that faith? Yes! Is that hope? Yes! Is it charity? Yes! Above all, it is charity, the pure love of Christ. If something is buried in the past, leave it buried. Don’t keep going back with your little sand pail and beach shovel to dig it up, wave it around, and then throw it at someone, saying, “Hey! Do you remember this?” Splat!

And soon enough everyone comes out of that exchange dirty and muddy and unhappy and hurt, when what God, our Father in Heaven, pleads for is cleanliness and kindness and happiness and healing.

Such dwelling on past lives, including past mistakes, is just not right! It is not the gospel of Jesus Christ. I call out, “Remember Lot’s wife.” Faith is for the future. Faith builds on the past but never longs to stay there. Faith trusts that God has great things in store for each of us and that Christ truly is the “high priest of good things to come.”

Thank you, Elder Holland, for the reminder to ask God to "forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors".   Matthew 6:12

Sunday, August 27, 2017

Harvey and Mission Update

As you recall from our post last Monday,  tropical storm Harvey was predicted to pass through Belize on Tuesday evening with winds up to 60 mph.  We were relieved that the prediction didn't come to pass.  I was happy to take this picture of the sunset from our home Tuesday evening.  As you can see, Tuesday was peaceful in Belize City.
A couple of days later we were all alarmed to hear of predicted devastation in Texas from tropical storm Harvey.

I am grateful for our church's response to this crisis.   I got this information off of our Church's Newsroom webpage.  
“...We received a call from our headquarters, and they have asked us if we would put together some loads to go down and actually pre-position some of these supplies in that area,” said John Hopkins, manager of the Bishops’ Central Storehouse.  "These relief efforts are intended to help any who may need it, not just members of the LDS faith..."
You can also read more and see the above video by clicking here.  

We are praying for all those affected by this catastrophe.

At the Belize City District Conference this weekend, the choir's singing was inspiring and powerful.
We got together Sunday in our apartment for lunch with mission President and Sister Adams, Elder and Sister Flake, and Elder and Sister Adams.
Scott and Elder Flake are counselors to President Adams.
Paul Woods, here with his lovely family at church, works closely with Scott.  President and Sister Adams are on the right.
We continue to enjoy working with the missionaries, members, and our neighbors here in Belize.  We are blessed with health, strength, and safety as we work with and visit our brothers and sisters in Belize.

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Keeping Our Homes Protected from the Storms

We are blessed to have a prophet on the earth today to give us direction and guidance just like the prophets of the Old Testament guided the people then.   President Thomas S. Monson is our prophet today.  In our last General Conference he said: 

“We live in a time of great trouble and wickedness. What will protect us from the sin and evil so prevalent in the world today? I maintain that a strong testimony of our Savior, Jesus Christ, and of His gospel will help see us through to safety.”

As we went on our walk this morning, we were reminded of President Monson’s words. 

In Belize, due to storms and moisture, homes are constructed of concrete and cinder block. Local homebuilders use poles to sustain the forms during the pouring and curing of the concrete. 
Scott asked a worker where they get the poles. "In the bush”, was the response.
Rebar gives strength and sustains the outdoor stairways and walls, just as the gospel of Jesus Christ strengthens our homes and our lives.
A home under construction rises in the neighborhood and gives needed shelter and protection to the family.
This Belizean home is finished and is beautiful.
President Monson's words from conference continue:

"...a testimony needs to be kept vital and alive through continued obedience to the commandments of God and through daily prayer and scripture study."

We were happy for our morning walk and the reminder of President Monson's words on how the atmosphere of our homes should invite the Holy Spirit, and if so, the Spirit will protect and shelter us from the storms of the world.

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Will Harvey Come Storming In?

We are developing a new talent. We're now the mission weatherman! It's hurricane season from June - November, so the locals watch the weather closely. We're the contact to the young missionaries to keep them informed, and if need be, evacuated to higher ground inland.

On Friday, Aug 18th, we got this news about a new tropical storm, Harvey.  As you can see, the weather service predicted that Tropical Storm Harvey would pass through Belize on Tuesday with winds at 60 mph.
THEN, Saturday we got this news from National Meteorological Service of Belize:


THEN, today we read:

"Satellite images indicate that showers and thunderstorms are showing some signs of organization in association with the remnants of Harvey, but it is still unclear if the system has a closed circulation. Gradual development of this system is possible, and it could become a tropical cyclone once again...   Our National Met Service continues to monitor the system and NEMO remains on alert, but not activated."

Enough of Harvey.  Let's talk missionary work. 

We frequently accompany the younger missionaries in their lessons on this street in Belize City.  They're hard workers! 
On Tuesday we drove past the Belize sign with the sister missionaries and Elder and Sister Adams. We couldn't resist the photo op.
On the screen is the Skyped  missionary meeting where all working in Belize were participating.  The Internet is a must for communication!
We were on the program for a funeral during the week-- Kathleen at the piano, Scott teaching the Plan of Salvation. Funerals are important, gospel-centered meetings.
Seminary Super Saturday was held on.... Saturday! About 100 youth and leaders from all over Belize arrived on buses to the Santa Elena chapel. Below, they're checking in, playing scripture games, and then to lunch and volleyball. A great, inspiring, and fun day was had by all.
Kathleen has a keyboard set up on a stool in our apartment where she can practice.  She frequently is called on to play in church on Sundays, wherever we're visiting that day.
On the way home from church today we stopped to have our picture with this beautiful cloud formation behind us, along the seashore in Belize City.

Monday, August 14, 2017

Another Exciting Week in the Mission

We spent the first part of the week monitoring Tropical Storm Franklin.  Early reports said that the storm was headed for Belize.  We were preparing to evacuate the missionaries out of the areas of Corozal, Orange Walk, San Pedro, and Belize City for their safety, but with the change of the storm's path, the missionaries ended up staying put.  We were grateful to the local members and government officials who were advising us about the situation.   A year ago Belize was effected by Tropical Storm Earl with winds of 80mph and flooding.  And of course, in 1961 there was Hurricane Hattie that killed more than 400 people, left thousands homeless. demolished almost half of Belize City.
When a cruise ship ports off the coast of Belize the locals set up booths to sell their wares.  On Thursday when we dropped off a set of young missionaries to catch the water taxi back to San Pedro island, we wandered through the colorful booths. All the merchants recognized us as missionaries for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and had kind things to say about our church and our missionary efforts.  The merchant pictured below liked talking to me about our teachings of life after death.  I was happy to testify that death is not the end of our existence, and that we will continue to live as families in the hereafter.  You can read about these teachings by clicking here.
We live about a mile from the beach and we've taken several early morning walks there.  We have seen some interesting sights.  I decided to take some pictures of unusual signs we have seen along the path.    
We asked a woman who was also walking along the path to take our picture at the Belize sign.  We ended up walking and taking with her for a while. We enjoyed learning about her roots in Belize.  She was born in Belize City the year of Hurricane Hattie.  She descried her family's memory of living through the storm.  When she was a young adult she moved to Chicago and has lived there ever since.  She told us she is one of 9 children.  She and her siblings have returned to Belize this week to gather and make decisions on how to care for their aging 91 year old mother.  I told her about my experience working with my siblings as we set up care for my mom before her death last year.   Again, I testified of life after death and that I'd be with my parents again someday.

As you recall a nice fisherman gave us some lobster tails last Saturday.  I am proud to say that I researched on Youtube how to prepare and fix the lobster tails and we enjoyed them for our dinner on Monday.  (notice the third step of applying melted butter, so of course they were good)
Our official assignment is to serve as MLS missionaries or  Member Leader Support missionaries.  Yesterday we were happy to attend the Orange Walk Branch and worship with the church members there.  After church we were able to train the leadership in the different branch auxiliaries.  I met with the Primary and Relief Society leaders.  Elder Magnusson met with the Bishopric, Elder's quorum, and Sunday School leaders.  Elder and Sister Adams met with the Young Men/Young Women leaders.   

During the Primary training meeting, I was able to show Sis. Janet Checkio teaching a primary song from the Friend Magazine, Build An Ark.  She modeled principles of teaching children that everyone one us can use no matter what our assignment is with teaching children (including teaching our own children and grandchildren).    
You can also see the above video by clicking here and going to 9:20
You can find the written music to Build an Ark by Marianne P. Wilcock by clicking here

Below is the Friend Magazine's rendition of the song
You can also see the above video by clicking here.  

During our Relief Society Training we focused on the visiting teaching program.  As we met, we discussed what it means to minister in the Savior’s way as we do our visiting teaching.  I enjoyed focusing on the Savior's example of ministering "one by one".  (see 3 Nephi 11:15)

Sunday, August 6, 2017

Our Sabbath Day in the Mission

It's not everyday that one would take an airplane to church, but that's what we did today.  We attended the San Pedro Branch on the Ambergris Caye.  We got up early to catch our 15-minute flight.  Had we taken the hour and a half ferry, we would've been late to church!  
Our first small plane flight!

 We were happy to arrive safe and sound.
 We looked at the beach on the way to the chapel.
 The outside of a resort on the street, not a real Mayan ruin!
As we walked from the airport to church with Elder and Sister Adams, we met a member, also on his way.
After a 15 minute walk, we arrived at the San Pedro Church Building.
The missionaries on San Pedro teach the locals in humble circumstances, surrounded by the large resort community on the island. After church, we were happy to accompany them and join in a couple of lessons.
We were glad to return safely to Belize City and this beautiful sunset.  
On Saturday afternoon, we were in Corozal, the most northern town of Belize, and joined the sister missionaries  in teaching the Gospel message to several families.
Saturday morning, on the way to a branch service project, the branch president (right) introduced us to one of his neighbors, a retired fisherman. Notice the conch shells embedded in concrete on the fence behind us.
The neighbor shared some lobster that he caught with us after Sister Magnusson told him she'd never tried lobster.

Thursday, August 3, 2017

MTC Tour

One month ago today we entered the MTC (Missionary Training Center) to begin our mission.  You can read about our experience in the MTC on a previous post by clicking here.

The expansion of the Provo MTC had just been completed when we arrived.  The Mormon Newsroom recently made this video giving you a tour of MTC including the newly completed buildings.
You can also see the video by clicking here

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Our Testimony of The Gospel of Jesus Christ

On Tuesday, we drove out to Orange Walk to work with the missionaries serving in that city.  Throughout the day we visited with different members of the church in the area.  As we went to visit with a member dealing with some health issues, we arrived at the same time as her kind neighbors who also came to visit.   We were happy to have a wonderful discussion about Jesus Christ, share our testimonies with each other, and read some scriptures together from the Bible:

Ephesians 2:19-20
19 Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellowcitizens with the saints, and of the household of God;
20 And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone;
You can also see the video by clicking here 

We read about how Jesus Christ set up his church before his death with prophets and apostles:

Ephesians 4: ll-15
11 And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers;
12 For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ:
13 Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ.

We read the real reason that Jesus Christ continues to have living apostles, and a prophet, today:

14 That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive;
15 But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ:

You can also see the video by clicking here

We read and discussed from 2 Thessalonians how an Apostasy from the church Jesus set up was to precede the Second Coming of Christ:

1 Now we beseech you, brethren, by the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and by our gathering together unto him,
2 That ye be not soon shaken in mind, or be troubled, neither by spirit, nor by word, nor by letter as from us, as that the day of Christ is at hand.
3 Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first...

We testified that Jesus Christ restored His gospel through the Prophet Joseph Smith, as described in Acts 3:20-21, where Peter foretold the restitution of all things.

20 And he shall send Jesus Christ, which before was preached unto you:
21 Whom the heaven must receive until the times of restitution of all things, which God hath spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets since the world began.
You can also see the video by clicking here.

As missionaries we bore this testimony to the neighbors we visited yesterday:

Would God, our Heavenly Father, who loves us dearly, who promised that He would send prophets, and would call apostles, so that we be no more "tossed to and fro", and that we would have an inheritance with Him— would He leave us directionless?  

Would He continue to send His children to earth in these tumultuous times without communication, while at the same time asking us to “seek… first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto” us?

We testify that Jesus Christ continues to lead His church today.  How is this possible?  He had to restore it to the earth, with prophets and with apostles, in this, the dispensation of the fulness of times, as Paul said He would.

Jesus Christ stands at the head of His church.  We bear our testimony of this. And, He has called a living prophet and 12 apostles to administer the affaires of His church just as Paul said He would.
President Thomas S. Monson
We thank our Heavenly Father for a prophet to guide us in these latter days, and for re-sending His gospel through the Restoration.  

This restoration began in the year 1820, with the personal visit of Jesus Christ to the earth, just as the Apostle Peter said would happen in Acts 3:20-21

There has been an unbroken line of authority—of prophets—who continue to reveal God’s word.  

We know that the event that initiated this “restitution of all things” did occur. We know it, and the beauty is that all of us can know for ourselves.

We are all Heavenly Father’s children; He loves us all.  His gospel of protection and peace and inheritance is for all His children.