Sunday, August 12, 2012

Tripling Down

Today I got to teach the Relief Society lesson in church.  It was Lesson #15 in the Teachings of Presidents of the Church, George Albert Smith Manual, titled "Advancing the Work of the Lord". 

From the beginning of the chapter, it reads:
When George Albert Smith was called to the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles in 1903, Church membership stood at just over 300,000.  By the end of his service as President of the Church, it had surpassed 1 million.  President Smith rejoiced in such growth because it meant that the message of salvation was reaching more and more people.  "How happy we should be," he said to a general conference audience in 1950, "not that we have increased in numbers in the organization that we belong to, but that more of our Father's children, more of his sons and daughters, have been brought to an understanding of the truth, and are coming into his organization that he prepared to teach us the way of life and lead us along the pathway of eternal happiness."  (p.157)
That set the scene for the lesson.  Later this evening, I came across this really great quote, by President Spencer W. Kimball.  I love it.
The Spirit of the Lord is brooding over these nations under a new regime that is certainly more open and more receptive to western ideas than ever before.  Such cultural and educational interchanges will offer opportunities for exposure to the gospel.  We must be prepared.  The Lord is doing his part and is waiting for us to open the doors.  There are almost three billion people now living on the earth in nations where the gospel is not now being preached.  If we could only make a small beginning in every nation, soon the converts among each kindred and tongue could step forth as lights to their own people and the gospel would thus be preached in all nations before the coming of the Lord.  I believe the Lord can do anything he sets his mind to do.  But I can see no good reason why the Lord would open doors that we are not prepared to enter.  Why should he break down the Iron Curtain or the Bamboo Curtain or any other curtain if we are still unprepared to enter?  God will bless expanded effort to teach all nations.  If we do all we can, and I accept my own part of that responsibility, I am sure the Lord will bring more discoveries to our use.  He will bring a change of heart into kings and magistrates and emperors, or he will divert rivers or open seas or find ways to touch hearts.  He will open the gates and make possible the proselytizing.  Of that, I have great faith. (Spencer W. Kimball, The Teachings of Spencer W. Kimball, edited by Edward L. Kimball, p. 584; from Denver Snuffer's Nephi's Isaiah, Kindle copy, 37% mark).

(photo source)
In the lesson today, I questioned why the growth of the church seemed to triple in the nearly 50 years of George Albert Smith's presidency, but it isn't tripling now.  I think my math abilities shows their ugly faces, because the church membership is around 16 million at present.  If we were at 1 million in the 50s, and we're at 16 million now, I do believe that is more than tripling the rate.

I really love the above quote, because it illustrates many things.  One, are we ready to enter doors of other countries to share the gospel of Jesus Christ?  Are we even willing to sacrifice our time for a night out with the missionaries, much less give up prosperous living conditions to drudge through the deserts of Iran, or the jungles of North Korea?  I'm not sure.  Are we willing to take to teaching among a somewhat hostile people, just to find the select?   (I say "hostile" because due to current media portrayals, Christians are not well received in those countries.  That doesn't mean my interpretation is correct.) 

I love the it indicates that the Lord will change hearts of kings, magistrates, emperors.  He will divert rivers, open seas (perhaps via tsunami, as in 2004?), and open gates.  I never thought to ask Him to do that, but why not?  And why not pray that we can be ready and prepared to take on such challenges?  It may not necessarily mean the folks with nametags are going in, but as I see it, once uncensored internet access is allowed in many of these countries, there's no stopping the message.

Definitely an awesome, prophetic quote! 

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Family History Bus: I Found Her!

Many months ago I wrote how I was looking for information on one of my ancestors.  It's my great great great grandmother, Kate Clouser.  I was looking for her supposed husband's name, who was the father of her son, George.  Searching high and low, I have come no closer to finding anything about him, besides the fact that his information is elusive.

Today, however, I took a trip to the Lebanon County Historical Society.  The place rocks!  The historian, Brian (?) was so very helpful in leading me to the information I needed to solve some pieces of the puzzle.  He spent hours helping me dig for information, and I am so thankful for his time and expertise!  While we were not able to find anything about George's biological father, we did find that Kate got married in 1885, when George was about 18 years old.  He (Brian) found the name of the church she attended, the marriage information – to whom, and when.  He found where she's buried, and even a copy of a last will and testament of her father.

It turns out, her father bequeathed (nice word, eh?:) his entire estate to her.  I assume this is where she lived out the rest of her life.  Who would give up something like that?  When I put these two pieces of information together – that she received his estate, and that she married Andrew Hasser – I was able to clearly see her information on the census records I already have printed for George Shindel, post-1885.  There she was, on ALL my print outs.  Right next to her son, living in the same house my parents now own, was Andrew and Catherine Hasser.

I don't know why I never noticed there were more people living in the house before.  It's as if their names were invisible, but right there in front of my face.  How wild is that?  I can't quite get over it.

So months and months of searching have finally brought me some awesome information.  The house that my parents are currently trying to sell has been in my family for generations and generations and generations.  How far back, I have yet to explore.  Ever since I have been searching for information on Kate and her family, I have been drawn to this house, particularly with the idea that I'd like to use it for my private facilitating work. I'm not entirely sure how that will work, but I'm still drawn to it.  I hope it can be a place not only for healing within my own family, but perhaps for others as well.

Awesome find!  

Monday, August 6, 2012

1 Nephi 1:16 - A Partial Account

1 Nephi 1:16 reads:

And now I, Nephi, do not make a full account of the things which my father hath written, for he hath written many things which he saw in avisions and in bdreams; and he also hath written many things which he cprophesied and spake unto his children, of which I shall not make a full account.

Nephi starts by reminding us that it's still him writing.  This serves as both a witness, and also clarification, since he had been referring to what happened to his father thus far.

(photo source)
Nephi points out that what he has written thus far is not a full account.  There is more.  Much more!  He wrote many things, which he saw in visions.  Have you ever seen a vision?  Denver Snuffer wrote a very interesting blog post on how information is passed along in such visions.  It is often not communicated using language or words which carry a vibrational frequency, but loads of information is passed from one being to the mortal.  It's fascinating.

The same principle applies in dreams, which Lehi also wrote many things regarding.  Have you ever tried recording a dream?  I have a journal dedicated to my frequent dreams, but it is one of the most difficult thing to do - to write about the contents of a dream.  How do you write, describe, or properly communicate in writing the things which are so visual, so abstract, or so unclear of their meaning?  This must certainly have been challenging for Lehi, and Nephi to repeat or abridge.

Lehi also wrote many things which he prophesied and spake to his children.  Have you ever tried to record the important events of the day with clarity?  I cringe to think what my children or descendants will think of me, when they read my abstract journal entries.  They are so vague.  I refer to people and places, with no real allusion even to who or what these places are.  I travel to other states, and visit people in random places, but I never really explain full details in my journal.  So very abstract it is.

But it had to be different for Nephi, to re-record Lehi's visions, dreams, prophecies and preaching.  He had to be inspired to know what to share.  What's worth repeating?  Surely God directed him, because each and every verse is so loaded with meaning.  The trick is taking the time to decipher, understand, ponder, and ask even more questions about what these important verses mean.  God does, indeed, reveal mysteries about these verses to those who take time to sincerely search, ponder and pray sincerely over them.