January 20, 2019 - Yes, it's been cold. Yes, it's been snowy. Yes, it's been windy. Yes, that adds up to -29 degrees with the windchill. So what do you do when it's that cold? You make shakes!

Sister White and Sister Black trying out Elder & Sister Spear's famous shakes.

We have the most awesome Sister Missionaries in the world. (Ok - we don't have pictures of the Elders yet - so we will talk about them when we have a photo.)

Sister Black is from Grantsville, Utah and has been out just a few weeks.
Sister White is from Meridian, Idaho. She has been out over a year. Her family lived in our son Ryan's Ward several years ago.

Did we say it was cold and snowy?

We just finished an appointment with a mom and daughter that the Sisters are teaching. Elder and Sister Spear were trying to teach them about Family History and the Sisters shoveled the driveway!

Winter wonderland at our fourplex - we're glad we don't live upstairs.

We live in number 2. Elder Spear had just finished shoveling our walk and the wind blew all the snow back in.

Ok, enough about winter - it was the big story of the week...they canceled church because the storm was so big. (We were supposed to talk, so we have another week to polish those old talks.

Gathering Israel on Both Sides of the Veil

We had a good week getting to know the members and also going on some appointments with the Elders and the Sisters. We joined the Elders in a visit to a sister named Karen that was just recently baptized and we talked about the Temple and Family History. There was such a sweet spirit in her home. She has just finished Radiation treatments for tongue cancer but continues with dialysis for kidney problems. She is doing well and has such a good attitude.

When she first found out that she had cancer, she drove home and was overcome with grief as she parked her car and walked to the door. At that very moment two Elders walked up her driveway and told her that they had a message of hope. She knows that Heavenly Father sent them to her at that moment of great need. She embraced the message with both arms and was baptized into the Restored Church.

Thus we see that the Lord provided a powerful, yet sweet spirit that testified of the need to gather Israel on both sides of the veil. Therefore, we need to share the gospel with both those that live now as well as those that have passed on.

Be Still and Know the Lord Loves You

We visited a member of the Massena Branch, Brother Elliott, who told us a story about his best friend Scott that led to Brother Elliott's conversion.

As a young man, Brother Elliott applied for a job at Village Inn in a small upstate New York town. He got hired to work in the dining room. Unknown to Brother Elliot, the owner was friends with another young man by the name of Scott and really wanted to give Scott a job, but Scott didn’t have a car to make the daily trip from an outlying community to work. Both young men lived in the same town and the owner knew that Brother Elliott had a car, so Brother Elliott got hired because he could give Scott a ride to work. The owner promised to schedule both of them for the same shift if Brother Elliott would agree to let Scott ride with him. Even though the two young men did not know each other, they were agreeable to the arrangement.

While riding together every day, they became best friends even though they didn’t have a lot in common. Brother Elliot had a strong faith in God (he was a Catholic) and Scott did not. Scott drank a lot and used drugs; Brother Elliott did not. Even so, they became fast friends.

One night Brother Elliott & Scott got into a big argument because Brother Elliott was fed up with Scott’s drinking and drug use. For several days, they drove back and forth to work in silence because of the argument. Finally Scott realized that he was wrong for trying to make Brother drink and use drugs and Scott apologized, telling Brother Elliott that he realized that he wasn’t being fair and he wouldn’t try to force his lifestyle on him any more.  And Brother Elliott told Scott that he wouldn’t push Scott to quit drinking and using drugs.

One night, Scott asked Brother Elliott if he would be willing to tell him about God. Brother Elliott was shocked to hear this request from Scott. Scott said that Brother Elliott seemed to have a special relationship with God. Scott said he recognized there was a God, but Brother Elliott seemed to KNOW God. Scott said he wanted to have that kind of relationship.

Unfortunately, Scott had been drinking and was pretty much drunk. Brother Elliott told Scott that if they talked about God right then, Scott wouldn’t remember a word that was said. Brother Elliott told him that he would be willing to talk to Scott any time he was sober. Scott went home.

The next morning Scott was tragically killed in a logging accident. For years Brother Elliott felt guilty that he had not talked about God with Scott that night. Brother Elliott was haunted by his guilt so much that he had trouble sleeping at night. One night it was bothering him so much, he asked God when these terrible feelings would be taken away. The answer came to him: When you die!

Brother Elliott decided that he couldn’t take the guilt and sleeplessness any more and decided to kill himself. He wrote a note to his parents and put it on the backseat of his car and decided he was going to run his car off the road at a particular spot in the road that had a cement wall. He was going to ram his car at high speed into this wall and end his life. When he got to this spot in the road, there were several police cars and emergency vehicles at the very spot he had picked - there had been some sort of accident. So he decided to drive around and find another spot. He remembered a friend of his had said there were 2 new ministers living above the store and so he decided to go there and ask them to deliver his letter to his parents the next day.

He found their apartment and knocked on the door at 11:30 pm at night. The door opened an inch and someone asked what do you want? Brother Elliott asked if he was one of the new ministers living in the area. The young man said he was NOT a minister; he was a missionary for his church. Brother Elliott decided that this was whom his friend was probably talking about. Brother Elliott asked if could come in and the young missionary said no. He told Brother Elliott that he was was supposed to be in bed but couldn’t sleep. (It turns out that this young missionary, Elder Terry, was brand new and this was his first day on his mission and he was anxious and he was up late lifting weights to help him calm down.) Elder Terry told Brother Elliott to go away.  Without telling Elder Terry what was in the letter, Brother Elliott gave him the suicide letter that he had written and asked him to deliver it to the address on the letter.

Brother Elliott turned to leave and went down the hall. The spirit whispered to Elder Terry that he should help this young man. He shouted at Brother Elliott to stop, but Brother Elliott took off running. Elder Terry chased him down and tackled him outside the small apartment. The spirit revealed to Elder Terry what was going on and Elder Terry said to Brother Elliott, “ You are going to commit suicide aren’t you?”

Elder Terry’s companion had been awakened and ran down the stairs while getting dressed at the same time. They took Brother Elliott back upstairs and listened while he shared what was going on.  At the end, Elder Terry invited him to hear the 6 discussions. He declined. Elder Terry said, we spent half the night listening to your story; you have to listen to at least one of our discussions.  He agreed.

Brother Elliott met with the Elders over the next months. He attended church and many weekly firesides they had. For some reason every fireside started with singing the first and second verse of I am a Child of God. And then the fireside ended with singing the second and third verses of “I am a Child of God”. Brother Elliott said for some reason he hated that song and couldn’t figure out why they sang it all of the time. He wondered: “Don’t those Mormons know any other songs?”

After about a year, Brother Elliot was supposed to get baptized but had decided that he wasn’t going to follow through. He was going to tell the missionaries after church on Sunday.

As he listened to the speaker in Sacrament meeting, the speaker said that he was planning on speaking on another subject, but the spirit told him that there was someone at the meeting that needed to hear a different message. So the speaker went on to talk about all of the things that Brother Elliott needed to hear. The speaker sat down and the Branch President stood up to give his talk as the concluding speaker. The first speaker stood up and interrupted the Branch President and said, I don’t know why, but spirit says we need to sing, “I am a Child of God” right now. So, they did.

For some inexplicable reason (since he hated this song) Brother Elliott was moved to tears as the song was sung and he knew he should be baptized.

Thus we see, the Lord knows and loves us individually. He will lead and guide us, but at the same time, we have our agency to choose our path. We may not have this same direct intervention, but doubt not, the Lord is mindful of each of us. Therefore, when a still small voice speaks to you or you receive a prompting from the spirit: Be still and know the Lord loves you and then heed what you have heard and felt.

Ok, One More Funny Cold Story.

Sisters White & Black - I think they are really Eskimos - they love the cold.

If you know us or have taken the time to read in our blog, Pre-Mission: The LONG Version...then you know we had a chance to go on our Mission to Hawaii. It didn't work out (and yes we are very happy in New York). A long time friend of ours, Brad King and his wife Tami are serving in Hawaii on a Senior Couple Mission where we would have served. When I posted on facebook earlier today, about our snow and cold weather, Brad posted: "I have nothing to say but I'm sorry!" He knew that we might have been enjoying sunny Hawaii instead of -29 degrees!! He wasn't just being empathetic - he was being funny!!! We love you too, Brad.