Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Happy Halloween!!!

Marcia decorated our door to scare off trick or treaters!!
Today is the end of the work week here in Metro Manila. Schools have been out all week. Tomorrow is All Saints' Day and as all good governments do- the Friday after a Thursday holiday is a federal day off!

To close out October than some pictures to share...

Our very own Bat!! Go Sister H!!

The three pictures on the right are from a Senior missionary excursion to the outer edges of the Quezon City mission. It took us two hours to get there. Once there we were able to have a great lunch with Elder and Sister Miller, who had just moved into the mountains. They live in a nice house with a running stream behind it. We were able to see the local swimming pool a little upstream from their house and saw kids jumping off of a tree into the stream.

Two youngsters-50 y/o-with feet in mountain stream
After we left their one of the couples asked to stop at a local resort that was owned by a friend of theirs. The owner is a retired Philippine army general who served with Elder Fonbuena in the Philippines. He has a very nice resort. It has three swimming pools, zip-lines, rope bridges, rappelling, Stations of the Cross, and even is building a chapel. Although he is not a member of our church his resort does host a number of activities their. This weekend there is a young single adults retreat with about 400 or so singles gathering for the weekend.

Durian Fruit from Mindanao 
 Trying new food is always an experience for missionaries. Elder Jackson and I were invited to try a native Mindanao fruit called Durian. The container on the left actually has two varieties in it. One of the medical employee's sister came to the Metro area for the long holiday and brought the fruit from Mindanao.  In order to eat this fruit you have to go outside. Why? Well because it rather stinks!! Rumor has it that Singapore has banned it because of its smell. The
saying go that it smells like h... and tastes like heaven. Elder Jackson and I are waiting to taste the other 9 varieties to see which one actually tastes like heaven!!

Elder Jackson and myself experiencing Durian
Have a great Halloween...


Sunday, October 28, 2012

New look, additional tabs

For those of you who have been following this blog you will notice that there has been a change to the home page. I have done so to provide some ease of navigation through the blog. The first tab will return you to the main page where you 'land' on. The next tab is one that I added just this past week. For those who have been following you may have noticed the tab "We Believe..." This has been an ongoing post regarding the 13 Articles of Faith which summarize the basic tenants of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. I have 4 or so posts remaining on that series. Once it is completed I will have all of the posts related to the Articles of Faith on its own page which will allow readers quick access to it.
Marcia on rope bridge

In the near future I will be adding a page for Marcia. She is a very busy woman here as she is on call 24/7. For an example: as soon as we got back to our home in Manduluong from church Marcia received a crisis call from one the mission presidents here. Always busy, always on call.

The other page that I will launch in mid-November will be titled "Third Stage." More details to follow.

Waterfall at Sierra Madre Resort
Yesterday we had a senior missionary outing to Elder and Sister Miller's new home in the mountains. They were transferred their to begin a new group (small church congregation) for our church. It was a wonderful time and it was great to relax for a short period of time. I will discuss it in further lengths sometime in the future.

Have a great week....


Thursday, October 25, 2012

Learning from family...

Today, in Philippine time, is Thursday- October 25, 2012. Today, according to the United States Government we are no longer official responsible for youngest son's health insurance. Mind you he's been on his own since he graduated from high school. Before I delve into the this particular topic (and in those three sentences there is so much I could discourse on so you may be surprised) I need to clarify some things regarding our family.
Happy Birthday Harli!!

After 53 years I have a confession to make. Marcia and I had an absolute rule regarding children and sleeping. Children were not allowed to sleep in our bed when it was time for bed. It didn't matter if the child was sick, green or scared. I did have compassion and if a child was sick they could either sleep on the floor next to the bed or I would go into their bedroom and sleep on the floor next to them. As it was boy's job (another blog post on that topic later) to clean up vomit it was best to be holding the pan instead of cleaning linen and clothing later on. As our kids grew up they would sneak in and watch TV from our bed or even take naps. Never at night though. They tried and some tried more than others. Actually once the rule was laid down there wasn't much of an issue until our last 'child' came along. She was a surprise 'child' which arrived via two of our older children on December 24, 2009. Harli and mom soon adapted to each other. It took some coaxing from children and playing certain family cards but Harli was accepted into the family that particular Christmas. I tried to explain the rules to her regarding sleeping in our bed but for some reason it never quite sank in. She never was allowed but she was very persistent in her attempts. It didn't help that we had older children who thought it was OK for her to sleep with them when they came home to visit.

(R-L) Elder French,  New Member of the Church, Mission Companion
The other thing that I will admit during this particular post is the family rule that was reiterated over and over regarding what they were to do following high school graduation. I'll admit it was more my rule than Marcia's. The rule was that as soon as you graduate you are on your own and off to college. Fortunately for me I came to a realization that the rule wasn't quite compatible with the pattern that Heavenly Father has given us. Most people think one of the big questions is- where do I go after I die? Most people that I know, whether or not their particular faith teaches this concept, think that they will be going to someplace referred to by most as Heaven. Some people also think another big question is- where did I come from? Without mentioning the obvious of parentage- where does our 'soul' come from? Without going deeply into the topic I'll just mention that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints believes in something that is called the 'pre-existence.' We believe that before we were born we were spiritual children of our Heavenly Father. The Old Testament Prophet Jeremiah touches this:

     "Then the word of the Lord came me, saying, Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee; and before thou camest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee,and I ordained thee a prophet unto the nations." (Jeremiah 1:4-5)

Thus the pattern has been set. Our Heavenly Father sent us into the world to learn and grow and He has expectations for us to one day return to Him again. When we moved to Indiana I realized I was wrong in teaching our children regarding their leaving the house after graduation. I realized that they should and would be welcome home at anytime, just as our Father in Heaven is waiting for us to return. Currently with Marcia and I selling our house it may be hard for our kids to return home but the thought is there!

So what does all this have to do with our youngest son? As he grew up we knew he was a smart kid. High school bored him to death. When it came time for his graduation he didn't want to attend the ceremony. We thought "great! That's three hours we don't have to sit through!" Then we got to wondering- did he...graduate? We were both excited when the Kathy, our mail lady, brought his diploma to our home. Later that summer he took off to venture on his own. And venture he did!
Brig with walker and cast following 2007 accident

After graduation he surprised all of us as he was accepted into the University of Wisconsin at Parkside. He realized that wasn't quite the school he expected so he went west and became a craftsman. He was taught by a stone mason how to work with brick and mortar. If you have seen our house you have seen Brig's handiwork has he re-did our fireplace the summer he was recovering from his near fatal motorcycle accident (another story!).

I will not drag this on anymore and will wrap it up from where I started. Brig has never been on the family dole. He has shown his independence from birth. From borrowing dad's T-Bird at a young age to being his own person in high school by not allowing others to cater to him because he was a French. Brig is, like his siblings, a giant in what ever he does. As he continues his education in astrophysics (thank heavens he got his brains from his mother!) he continues to amaze us.

Lock and Load, Pull! Christmas 2011
Happy #26!!

Love ya....mom and dad

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Patterns in all things...

Sunset coming home from Bagio
Our lives are unique. When the dust settles (literally) on what we call life we can look back and come to the knowledge that our shared experiences are only the two mentioned previously- birth and death. These are what I call the Thresholds of Life. Just like a door or a gate you can stand on one side and try to peer into the other side. It is my opinion that those who are more spiritual 'in-tune' have a better view as to what is on the other side.

Even though we are limited in our shared experience we can still learn from the experiences of those around us. Learning from others, applying that knowledge of trial and error, to our lives is one of my definitions of wisdom. How many of us, as we grew up, listened to our parents one hundred percent of the time? We had to learn on our own. Our parents could tell us fifty times that we would burn our hands if we touched the burners on the stove after food had been cooked on it. We didn't learn until we burned our hands. Trial and error...

Who can we turn to for that perfect example? There are those around us who we think are great or even perfect in some small area of their life. T, the tool man, has been our neighbor for fourteen years. His lawn is IMMACULATE!! If I want to have a perfect lawn he is my go-to guy. That is only one aspect of life though. Where do I turn for the other areas of my life which need improving?

It is natural for men and women to look around and find examples or mentors to learn from. I would like to share an experience from our life that shows that we can learn from others no matter what the subject or life challenge may be.

In the 1980s a young man, M, met a slightly older woman, S, and fell in love. It didn't bother him the least that she had an eleven year old daughter and a three year old son. Their marriage, like most marriages, had its ups and downs. It wasn't easy becoming an instant father to an almost teenage daughter and a young son but they were happy. His new daughter, as she grew, was rebellious. As a teenager she refused to listen and often wouldn't obey. She had to experience things on her own without the assistance of her parents. I am sure at some point, during arguments with her parents, that she played the "you're not my father" card. Eventually the teenager, still somewhat rebellious, grew up. She got married and had three children of her own.

During the early 90s mom developed cancer. It was a battle that required surgery, radiation, and chemotherapy. Eventually her cancer went into remission. A few years after her battle her rebellious daughter developed cancer- the same type as her mom's. By the time that the doctors diagnosed her they realized that they had caught it too late. It had spread and the prognosis for her was not good. It wasn't a question whether or not she would live- it was a question of how long would she live. She was 25 or 26 when they discovered her cancer.

Mothers, good mothers, know that by their example, by their sayings, and by their love they can influence their children and those around them. In most cases they teach their children how to live and hopefully how to live well. In rare cases does a mother teach their children how to die and how to die well. S, who had gone through everything to have her cancer go into remission, witnessed the diagnosis of a daughter who would not have the same outcome as what she originally had. Unfortunately for her, the cancer that was in remission came back and did so with a vengeance. The cancer that came back for S was much more aggressive then her daughter's. S knew that she was not going to win this battle. She did know that the example that she was setting might leave an impression with her daughter who would shortly cross that particular Threshold of Life herself. S died in 1999.

Grandma and Grandpa Mount with Grandkids (circa 1990)
As I write this I can't help in noticing the irony of S's life and that of her daughter's. S was a great seamstress. She made costumes for her children in plays, for Halloween, and for clothes to wear at any time. She used patterns to do so. As she approached her Threshold she created a pattern for her daughter to follow. During the year that followed S's death Marcia and I saw a change in her daughter. Even though she knew what her outcome would be she now had a pattern to follow- the pattern that her mom laid out for her. S's daughter crossed her own Threshold almost one year after her mom...

Next...the perfect example...


Monday, October 22, 2012

We believe...Article 6

"We believe in the same organization that existed in the Primitive Church, namely, apostles, prophets, pastors, teachers, evangelists, and so forth."

Resurrected Christ with His Apostles

This particular Article comes directly from the New Testament where it is found in a letter from Paul to the Ephesians as well as a letter to those in Corinth:

     "And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets;
     and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and
     teachers; for the perfecting of the saints, for the
     work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body
     of Christ..." (Ephesians 4:11-12)

Jesus had set up, by example and by pattern, how He expected His Church to be run. Their were definite positions and roles that were to be issued and to be carried out.

What happened to the twelve apostles once the Savior ascended? That was one of my primary questions as I grew up in another faith. Jesus hand picked 12 men to become leaders of His Church. One of them, Judas, betrayed Him. This left only eleven. Was Judas replaced or did the remaining apostles stumble along?

In reading the Book of Acts one finds out that Judas was replaced by another. In so doing the Apostles had their full complement again. In chapter 1 of Acts it details the replacing of Judas by a man named Matthias. Was this the only replacement that occurred during this time? Not necessarily. In reading the New Testament I have been able to read that their were others who were referred to as apostles. One of those was Saul/Paul who was referred to as the apostle to the Gentiles. It would seem then that their was a continuation of the Lord's Church in a manner that He had set up.

What of today? Are there apostles, prophets, pastors, teachers etc. today? One of the premises of the Church of Latter-Day Saints is that the Church that Jesus set up during his life became corrupt shortly after the death of the Apostles. This corruption came from several sources. One source was outside persecution from Rome and also the Jewish Hierarchy. Another major issue was division and false teachings that infiltrated the Church, especially when the Apostles were no longer around to correct false teachings. As you read Paul's letters you can get a sense of some of these false teachings as he writes to correct the teachings that he sees creeping into the Church. Paul continues the above writings:

     "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: 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 conning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive." (Ephesians 4:13-14)

The Church that Jesus set up no longer existed. Eventually it became corrupt and over the years has splintered into various different churches. Most have evolved from the Catholic Church. Martin Luther and others tried to reform the Catholic Church. In their attempts to do so other Churches were created. In the early 1800s the Lord stepped in and began the process to restore His Church as He had originally meant for it to be. Part of that restoration was the return of "...apostles, prophets, pastors, teachers, evangelists, and so forth."

Current LDS Prophet- Thomas S. Monson
Today the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints has prophets and apostles. The Church is guided and directed by the Person whose name it bears- Jesus Christ. He does so through a living prophet-Thomas S. Monson- who is assisted by  the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles...


Current 12 Apostles

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Thresholds in life...

Life is an exciting adventure.

NYC from the Brooklyn Bridge
We have shared moments and we have unique experiences. If you believe in God, and if you have been reading this blog you know I do, our ultimate destination is to return back to Him.

One of our friends in our office described a conversation that he had with one of his young adult sons. He used an analogy of having New York City as a destination for a vacation. Knowing what our destination is part of our growing process. Agreeing with others about that destination might be another struggle we may have to overcome. When this particular parent talked to his son, using New York City as an example, the destination was easily agreed on but the route to travel on was not as easy. The son didn't want to travel with or anywhere near his father. The road the son chose to travel on wasn't smooth nor direct. In fact, at times, it even appeared circuitous. Although my friend tried to show his son a better route, one that he knew would be more direct and less hazardous, his son chose to pick his own way. This wise father realized that it was time to back away and let his son experience and grow from his own choices. He understood that his son would make his own way but also understood that his final destination, if he successfully completed his road, was the same as his.

Each of our roads are different. In this case a comparison to fingerprints is appropriate as no two fingerprints are alike neither are two roads alike. The only two guaranteed shared moments that we have had and will go through is birth and death. These are our thresholds in life.

Why do I refer to them as thresholds? When you ponder those two events the only real experience is the precise moment of birth and the precise moment of death. All experiences prior to those two moments are quite different for each individual. In one of my 'past lifes' (work experiences) I was a director of maintenance for a skilled nursing facility- a nursing home. The last one I worked at had two "memory care" wings for those who had some form of dementia. While their I witnessed the onset of dementia and the sometimes slow debilitating route that it takes as it goes through someones mind and body. In those situations the process of dieing was sometimes long and drawn out. In another situation I had an elderly friend who was in his early to mid 80s. K was a hard working man who still put in a good work week while taking care of his wife who was ill with a myriad of issues. One Sunday, after church, K had a nice steak dinner. Following his steak dinner he sat in his recliner, turned on the TV, and fell asleep... for the last time.

I mention these two examples in pointing out that although the process is different the very moment when they approach and cross that particular threshold- it is the same....

Next- Examples in all things...


Wednesday, October 17, 2012

We believe...Article 5

"We believe that a man must be called of God, by prophecy, and by the laying on of hands by those who are in authority, to preach the Gospel and administer in the ordinances thereof."

Does man call man to tend to the affairs of God? Or does God have input into how He would like things done here on earth? Before I list some examples from the scriptures I would like to make some simple observations that I have noticed from my studies of the scriptures and from some thoughts that I have had over the years.

John the Baptist
One thought that passed through my younger mind was regarding the requirement that some religions place on those who may have a desire to serve in their respected religion. In many faiths their is an education requirement necessary for them to become a minister, pastor, or priest. In some cases the requirement is beyond a bachelor's degree and towards some type of graduate degree. As I grew up that was something that particularly bothered me especially as I read the New Testament. In the New Testament I read about Peter, James, Andrew and John and found out that their occupation was that of fishermen (see Matthew 4). Moses, who grew up in the shadows of Pharaoh, wasn't called from the influences of wealth and prestige. He was called at a much older age while working for his father-in-law as a shepherd (see Exodus 3). David, the youngest of several sons and also a shepherd, wasn't chosen because of his skills with a sling. It is found in the Old Testament that David was actually chosen before his confrontation with Goliath (see 1 Samuel 16).

In the case of Peter, Andrew, James and John the Savior directly called them to serve. The Savior, who Paul refers to as being the "Apostle and High Priest of our profession" (Hebrews 3:1) ordained them as Apostles. David was anointed by the prophet Samuel. Moses had direct contact with the Lord on more than one mountain.

These were humble men who the Lord chose to establish His Church. It is the same today. In the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints young men, beginning at 12, are interviewed, and if found worthy, are ordained to the Aaronic Priesthood. This is the same Priesthood that John the Baptist held and it was by his hands, as a resurrected man, who restored this Priesthood to Joseph Smith, Jr., and Oliver Cowdery:

     "Upon you my fellow servants, in the name of the Messiah I confer the Priesthood of Aaron,
     which holds the keys of the ministering of angels, and of the gospel of repentance, and of
     baptism by immersion for the remission of sins; and this shall never be taken from the earth,
     until the sons of Levi do offer again an offering unto the Lord in righteousness."
     (Doctrine and Covenants 13)

This Priesthood is sacred. It is through the higher priesthood, the Melchizedek Priesthood, where the Gift of the Holy Ghost is administered. In the book of Acts a man by the name of Simon saw Peter and John exercise this Priesthood in administering the Gift of the Holy Ghost. He then tried to offer them money for the privilege to do the same. Peter admonished him and through the Holy Ghost was able to discern this man's heart and intent (see Acts 8).

It is a privilege to have this Priesthood. It is such a privilege that I have had for 30 some years. With this Priesthood I have had the privilege of baptizing my children and giving them the Gift of the Holy Ghost. It is through this Priesthood that I was able to ordain my sons to the Priesthood. It is through this Priesthood that I have been able to bless my children and wife when sick, prior to the beginning of school years, and to give them comfort as a father. It is a privilege worth having and keeping...


Sunday, October 14, 2012

Being a More Christian Christian (part 2)

Jesus finding the one
The following is the conclusion of Elder Hales' address from Sunday October 7, 2012:

"To be who Heavenly Father wants us to be, we follow Jesus Christ. I testify that He is continually calling us to follow Him. If you are just learning about the Christian commitment of Latter-day Saints or if you have not been fully participating in the Church and want to follow Him again—fear not! The Lord’s first disciples were all new members of the Church, newly converted to His gospel. Jesus patiently taught each one. He helped them fulfill their responsibilities. He called them His friends and laid down His life for them. And He has already done the same for you and for me.
I testify that through His infinite love and grace, we can become more Christian Christians. Consider the following Christlike qualities. How are we doing in strengthening them within ourselves?
Christian love. The Savior valued everyone. Kind and compassionate to all, He left the ninety and nine to find the one,12 for “even the very hairs of [our] head are … numbered”13 to Him.
Christian faith. Despite temptations, trials, and persecutions, the Savior trusted our Heavenly Father and chose to be faithful and obedient to His commandments.
Christian sacrifice. Throughout His life the Savior gave of His time, His energy, and ultimately, through the Atonement, gave Himself so that all of God’s children could be resurrected and have the opportunity to inherit eternal life.
Christian caring. Like the good Samaritan, the Savior was continually reaching out to rescue, love, and nurture people around Him, regardless of their culture, creed, or circumstances.
Christian service. Whether drawing water from a well, cooking a meal of fish, or washing dusty feet, the Savior spent His days serving others—lifting up the weary and strengthening the weak.
Christian patience. In His own sorrow and suffering, the Savior waited upon His Father. With patience for us, He waits upon us to come to ourselves and come home to Him.
Christian peace. Throughout His ministry He urged understanding and promoted peace. Especially among His disciples, He taught that Christians cannot contend with other Christians, notwithstanding their differences.
Christian forgiveness. He taught us to bless those who curse us. He showed us the way by praying that those who crucified Him would be forgiven.
Christian conversion. Like Peter and Andrew, many recognize the truth of the gospel as soon as they hear it. They are instantly converted. For others it may take longer. In a revelation given through Joseph Smith, the Savior taught, “That which is of God is light; and he that receiveth light, and continueth in God, receiveth more light; and that light groweth brighter and brighter until the perfect day,”14 the perfect day of our conversion. Jesus Christ is “the light and the Redeemer of the world; the Spirit of truth.”15
Christian endurance to the end. In all His days, the Savior never gave up doing His Father’s will but continued in righteousness, goodness, mercy, and truth to the end of His mortal life.
These are some of the characteristics of those who hear and heed the Savior’s voice. As one of His special witnesses on the earth, I give my Christian testimony that He is calling to you today, “Come, follow me.”16 Come walk the path that leads to eternal happiness, joy, and everlasting life in the kingdom of our Heavenly Father. In the name of Jesus Christ, our Savior and Redeemer, amen."
For a full text or video of Elder Hales address, or for the footnotes,  follow this link.

Next: We believe...Article 5...


Being a More Christian Christian (part 1)

Elder Robert D. Hales
As I had mentioned earlier in the week The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints held their semi-annual conference the first weekend in October. Tradition in the Philippines, also because technology isn't quite up to speed, is to watch conference the following weekend. This weekend Marcia and I were able to watch conference with the other senior missionaries that are located in the Quezon City mission. The following is an excerpt from a talk given by Elder Robert D. Hales, a member of the Quorum of the 12 Apostles.

Being a More Christian Christian

"What does it mean to be a Christian?

A Christian has faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, that He is the literal Son of God, sent by His Father to suffer for our sins in the supreme act of love we know as the Atonement.

A Christian believes that through the grace of God the Father and his Son, Jesus Christ, we can repent, forgive others, keep the commandments, and inherit eternal life.

The word Christian denotes taking upon us the name of Christ. We do this by being baptized and receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost by the laying on of hands by those holding His priesthood authority.

A Christian knows that throughout the ages, God's prophets have always testified of Jesus Christ. This same Jesus, accompanied by Heavenly Father, appeared to the Prophet Joseph Smith in the year 1820 and restored the gospel and the organization of His original Church.

Through the scriptures and the witness of Joseph Smith, we know that God, our Heavenly Father, has a glorified and perfected body of flesh and bone. Jesus Christ is His Only Begotten Son in the flesh. The Holy Ghost is a personage of spirit whose work is to testify of the Father and the Son. The Godhead is three separate and distinct beings, unified in purpose.

With these doctrines as the foundation of our faith, can there be any doubt or disputation that we, as members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, are Christian? Yet for every Christian, a simple question remains: what kind of Christians are we? In other words, how are we doing in our quest to follow Christ?"

Next- Christlike qualities in becoming a more Christian Christian...

(To watch Elder Hales or obtain a full copy of his talk follow this link. His talk is the first one in the Sunday afternoon session.)


Friday, October 12, 2012

The things we carry on...

And you think your confused?
 My personal rule is never leave home without my camera. You just never know when opportunities arise which will give you great 'Kodak' moments. So the following are just some pictures over the last few weeks that I thought might be fun to share. Enjoy.....

Teresa branch building, Marcia, motorbike coming down sidewalk
Transporting new furniture home

Leaving church on a trike

On the road home from church-These little piggies went to the market!

Traffic, trike near our condo in Mandulyong City

We believe....Article 4- The Holy Ghost

Jesus with His apostles
 This particular post focuses on the last part of Article 4. Specifically- "...Laying on of hands for the gift of the Holy Ghost."

In a wonderful teaching moment Jesus has an opportunity to teach Nichodemus, a Pharisee, about baptism by water and by the Spirit: "Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God." (John 3:5)

What is the gift of the spirit that we refer to as the Holy Ghost? In the New Testament the Savior  speaks of "the comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you." (John 14:26)

Again in John the Savior speaks of the Holy Ghost: "But when the Comforter is come, whom I will send unto you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, which proceedeth from the Father, he shall testify of me..."(John 15:26) 

These few verses show some of the role or responsibilities of the Holy Ghost. It's a teacher, a reminder, a comforter, and a testifier.

Following the Savior's resurrection He spent time with His apostles, continuing to teach them regarding the affairs of His church on earth. He reiterates the promise of the Holy Ghost that is to come: "And, being assembled together with them, commanded them that they should not depart from Jerusalem, but wait for the promise of the Father, which, saith he, ye have heard of me. For John truly baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost not many days hence." (Acts 1:4-5)

Chapter 2 of Acts shows the tremendous power that comes with the gift of the Holy Ghost. Personally I like the change that shows in Peter, the senior apostle. Here is a man who denies knowing the Savior three times to common workers- three different individuals- prior to Jesus's trial and crucifixion. After receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost he is at the temple testifying of the Savior in front of hundreds, if not thousands, of people.

How is this gift administered? It is done by the laying on of hands by one having authority.

Laying on of hands for the gift of the Holy Ghost
"Now when the apostles which were at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent unto them Peter and John: Who, when they were come down, prayed for them, that they might receive the Holy Ghost: (For as yet he was fallen upon none of them: only they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.) Then laid they their hands on them, and they received the Holy Ghost." (Acts 8:14-17)...

Next- The things we carry on....


Thursday, October 11, 2012

We believe...Article 4

"We believe that the first principles and ordinances of the Gospel are: first, Faith in the Lord Jesus Christ; second, Repentance; third, Baptism by immersion for the remission of sins; fourth, Laying on of hands for the gift of the Holy Ghost."

The first two aspects of this Article, in my opinion, are self-explanatory. The third and fourth parts may need some further explanation.
John the Baptist and Jesus are portrayed in the picture to the right. Why would the Son of God, He being the example for all mankind, have the need to be baptized  The other question that comes to my mind is why did He go to His cousin, John?

It is interesting that at this point of Jesus's life, the beginning of His ministry, He does go to John. Many things occur during this occasion making it very, very eventful. I will try to point out the things that I feel should be explained further.

When Jesus shows up at the Jordan river it would appear that He may have somewhat surprised John.  Matthew gives some details regarding this exchange:

"Then cometh Jesus from Galilee to Jordan unto John to be baptized of him. But John forbad him, saying, I have need to be baptized of thee, and comest thou to me? And Jesus answering said unto him, Suffer it to be so now: for thus it becometh us to fulfil all righteousness. Then he suffered him." (Matthew 3:13-15)

Why would He go to John? Was it because of the family relationship? Or was it because John had the authority to baptize?  Zacharias, who was John's father, held the priesthood of Aaron. A review of the Old Testament will show that this priesthood was an inherited priesthood- one that was passed down from father to son. The first chapter of Luke details some of the duties that Zacharias performed specifically because he was of the tribe of Levi. Thus John was ordained to this priesthood which then permitted him to fulfill the tasks that he was to perform. If John had not had the priesthood the Savior would necessarily had to have gone to someone who did. John being His cousin was an aside.

Jesus Christ, the Redeemer of the world, led a perfect life. Perfect doesn't necessarily mean easy. He was tempted but never succumbed to temptation; He loved and cared for those around Him. Why would a man such as He need to be baptized?

An ancient prophet by the name of Nephi teaches his people regarding this specific topic of why would the Savior need to be baptized.

     "And now, if the Lamb of God, he being holy, should have need to be baptized by water, to    fulfil all rightousness, O then, how much more need have we, being unholy, to be baptized, yea, even by water!...Know ye knot that he was holy? But notwithstanding he being holy, he showeth unto the children of men that, according to the flesh he humbleth himself before the Father that he would be obedient unto  him in keeping his commandments. Wherefore, after he was baptized with water the Holy Ghost descended upon him in the form of a dove. And again, it showeth unto the children of men the straitness of the path, and the narrowness of the gate, by which they should enter, he having set the example before them." (2 Nephi 31:5,  7-9)

He was and is our examplar. He is the trailblazer and it is His path we need to follow...

Next....Article 4- Laying on of hands for the gift of the Holy Ghost....


Wednesday, October 10, 2012

We believe...Article 3

"We believe that through the Atonement of Christ, all mankind may be saved, by obedience to the laws and ordinances of the Gospel."

What is this thing called "Atonement"? Growing up in another faith I didn't know anything about this word. The concept that I was taught was that Christ died for our sins on the cross. Sure He spent time in a garden called Gethsemane before His betrayal, His trial, and His crucifixion. That's all I knew. It wasn't until I started being proactive did I learn more about this thing called the "Atonement."

I didn't know or understand that the Old Testament was showing us that the Lord was preparing the children of Israel for the coming Messiah. For example the various forms of sacrifices that were instituted pointed Israel to the Messiah. There were also examples found in the lives of ancient prophets.

Abraham and his son Isaac is the classic example. Here you have a father who has been commanded of the Lord to sacrifice his only son- the very child in which Abraham had been promised his posterity would flow and number "...as the stars of heaven, and as the sand which is upon the sea shore..." (Genesis 22:17). Abraham's commitment to the Lord was firm; he wouldn't even hold back his own son.

Sound familiar. Here in a very small way we are able to glimpse what Heavenly Father must have been going through as His only begotten Son was spat upon, whipped, slapped and then hung on a cross to suffer even more. As He hung on the cross He was mocked by those who hung Him their; one of the "malefactors which were hanged railed on him saying, If thou be Christ, save thyself and us." (Luke 23:39). As a parent could you sit back and see this happen to your only son? There is more discussion here then just these few paragraphs allow. Suffice to say Jesus not only took upon Himself the sins of the world but He also did much, much more. An ancient Book of Mormon prophet by the name of Alma speaks in depth to what extent this Atonement is:

     "And he shall go forth, suffering pains and afflictions and temptations of every kind; and this that
     the word might be fulfilled which saith he will take upon him the pains and the sicknesses of his
     people. And he will take upon him death, that he may loose the bands of death which bind his
    people; and he will take upon him their infirmities, that his bowels may be filled with mercy,
    according to the flesh, that he may know according to the flesh how to succor his people accord-
    ing to their infirmities." (Alma 7:11-12)

Few other thoughts regarding this particular article. Did you notice the word may? It doesn't state will be but states may. There is also a contingent- it is based on obedience to the laws and ordinances of the gospel. To some it may be an interesting thought- to me it rings true...   

Next...Article 4...


Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Fishing anyone? (Gross alert!!)

This I had to post.

I grew up in Southern Minnesota. My Aunt Helen and Uncle Dave lived on the Mississippi river in Northern Minnesota. It was often that we would go fishing for Walleye and Northern Pike. Back then it was fun to fish when you had a fish on the other end of the pole. Any other time it was rather boring. My Uncle mentioned to me at one point that I was probably more interested in girls than I was in fishing. I think there may have been some truth to that. Although if there had been a fish on the other end of the line all the time I think I would have enjoyed fishing more.

Fishing Anyone!
Now, unfortunately, when I have the patience I don't have the time...that is the way the life is sometimes. So what does all that have to do with a mission in the Philippines? Let's talk bait...in Minnesota when we were fishing for Northerns and Walleyes we would use minnows as bait. Occasionally we would use a lure to try a catch a monster fish. In the town I grew up in, Hammond, we would either hunt for night-crawlers at night or use electrical means to extract the worms from the ground.

Here in the Philippines they grow their own....that's all I have to say 'bout that....


Friday, October 5, 2012

We believe...Articles 8, 9

8- "We believe the Bible to be the word of God as far as it is translated correctly; we also believe the Book of Mormon to be the word of God."
9- "We believe all that God has revealed, all that He does now reveal, and we believe that He will yet reveal many great and important things pertaining to the Kingdom of God."

I apologize for posting these two articles out of order and at the same time. I feel prompted to do so for a number of reasons:

  • As I reviewed the history of the Bible I came to understand that the Bible was not a book that was written over a short period of time by a single author or even a single editor. Variations of the Bible have come forth over periods of time. Catholics have a version that isn't quite consistent with that of the Presbyterians. 
  • Another issue that constantly comes up is the Book of Revelation. It is common to hear from people when discussing the Bible that "according to the Book of Revelation 22:18 '...,If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book." If further investigation is done regarding the Bible a diligent and thorough student would realize that:
  1. The Bible as we know it wasn't written in one sitting or even a short period of time. It was written by many men and women,over many centuries, then compiled into one around the third century. According to one website, biblestudytools.com, there were at least 4 books or letters written after Revelations and there may have been more. 
  2. The Old Testament has a similar scripture found in Deuteronomy 4:2 "Ye shall not add unto the word which I command you, neither shall ye diminish ought from it..." If the same logic is equally applied anything after Deuteronomy would be null and void. Using Revelations as a discussion point is a weak one.
Regarding Article 9- "We believe all that God has revealed, all that He does now reveal, and we believe that He will yet reveal many great and important things pertaining to the Kingdom of God."

One of my fundamental questions that I had growing up was why weren't there prophets now as there were up to the time of Jesus? In fact even during the time of Christ, John, called the Baptist, was considered a prophet. Jesus even states in Matthew 11:11 "Verily I say unto you, Among that are born of women there hath not risen a greater than John the Baptist..." Following the death, resurrection and ascension of the Savior, the Apostles carried on the work of the Savior. Miracles continued to be wrought. Jesus continued to play an active part of guiding His church through the twelve Apostles. He also had direct involvement in giving Saul, later to become Paul, a course correction.

Does a loving Heavenly Father want to leave us on our own or does he have a life-line for us to grasp? Are we too arrogant as the human race to think that we can do it on our own with out the help and love of a Heavenly Father? Is there a Prophet today he directs His church as did Peter of old?

To read a previous post relating to this discussion read "A light shining in darkness..."

To hear a modern day Prophet speak this weekend is the semi-annual General Conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. It is broadcast on cable networks around the country, normally on the BYU channel, and carried live at the www.lds.org. It's on Saturday and Sunday 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. MST. As it was to listen to Peter as he taught at the temple following the day of Pentecost, it will be exciting to hear a Prophet's voice...his name is Thomas S. Monson...


Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Daddy-Daughter Time

This is why I always have a camera on me as we travel around. I took this picture returning from grocery shopping at MegaMall. Yes...that word is self-descriptive. It is BIG! From what we've been told it is not the biggest mall in the area. The title goes to Mall of Asia which is about 20 minutes from our condo.

We were wondering how long she would be able to keep her flip-flops on...


Monday, October 1, 2012

We believe....Article 2

"We believe that men will be punished for their own sins, and not for Adam's transgression."

Adam had a choice to make. What was he to do? On one hand he was commanded not to partake of the fruit of tree of the knowledge of good  and evil; on the other if he did not choose to do so he would remain in a state of innocence not knowing between the two. He had his agency to choose. God told him what the consequences would be if he did partake..."...for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die" Genesis 2:17

As men and women we make our own messes. That tends to be our nature. We will be responsible to clean up our own messes. We will be held accountable for that which we do wrong. It is not easy but it is possible to do. Adam knew the consequences of his action. The Lord told him that he would die if he partook of the forbidden fruit. That is what happened. Mortality became part of man because of Adam's transgression. Adam was banished from the Garden of Eden for his transgression. We will have to answer for to the Lord for our own shortcomings and ours alone....

Next- Article 3...