In the Old Testament in Malachi 4: 6 it reads:
“And he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers, lest I come and smite the earth with a curse.”
This past week we celebrated Father’s Day and so naturally my thoughts turn to my father, Don Zollinger. My dad passed on several years ago, but his influence will always be there in my life. He, along with my mother, taught me to work, and they taught me the value of education. My father returned to the university at age 38 and earned his undergraduate degree at the age of 40. In so doing, it changed our family completely when we moved from rural Utah to the San Francisco Bay Area in 1970. Our family’s future and fortune changed on that decision. My mother who graduated from high school never had an opportunity to attend college, but she is the smartest person I know. A self-taught computer programmer, she blazed the path for several of us to get into the “family business.” Information technology has served the Zollinger family well.
What has this to do with our mission? I know you are asking this question. Let me explain my thinking. This past week we were able to visit Topsfield, Massachusetts, the ancestral home for several generations of the Joseph Smith, Jr family. Robert Smith was the first of Joseph Smith, Jr’s ancestors to come to America. After serving as an indentured servant in Boston, he purchased a farming homestead in Topsfield. His children and grandchildren were born there, including Joseph Smith, Sr the father of Joseph Smith, Jr, the American Prophet. His father, grandfather, great-grandfathers were farmers. Recently a monument was dedicated by President Russell M Ballard to the Smith Family Ancestors in the small cemetery in Topsfield. This is now standing next to an original monument from 1873 in the same location. Sister Zollinger and I traveled to see this monument. Here are a few pictures:
We also took a short trip to Portland, Maine, about two hours from where we are and visited the cost. There is no other adjective to describe Maine other than spectacular! It is simply beautiful to see. We enjoyed seeing a few lighthouses, which remind me of my favorite hymn, "Brightly Beams our Father's Mercy." Here are those lyrics and then some pictures to put them into perspective:
We all have a need for a "lighthouse" in our life to show us the way past danger, and to light the right way to go. Many have provided that for me in my life, parents, teachers, church leaders, co-workers, managers, etc. And even now I have great examples for me in the way of the young missionaries of our Lowell District. I will close with a picture of them.
These has been an eventful few days since our last entry.
First, we’ve been able to continue teaching our Temple Preparation Class that will soon be drawing to a close with two members of that class. Both are eager to attend the temple and make sacred covenants there. We are also eager for them to be able to attend and hope to go with them. We also had the opportunity to attend the stake conference of the Nashua New Hampshire Stake this past weekend. Nashua is only about ten miles from Lowell. We were able attend with a member of our temple prep class and her young son. She also had the good fortune to receive her patriarchal blessing that same day and it was a choice thing to help her receive it.
Secondly, we hosted our first family history workshop and had a friend of the young sister missionaries attend. This young man was very happy to see that in FamilySearch there were records of his grandparents and great-grandparents. He later reported that he stayed up until 2 AM viewing what he could of his ancestors. The next day he was able to show them to his father, who was amazed at the records that were available. The spirit of Elijah is very strong with respect to genealogy work, and it is a great service that church performs in making these records available for free to anyone who wants to be able to see them.
Lastly, we were able to visit one of the great historical sites of the American Revolution in Concord, Massachusetts. The Minuteman Historical Park is just a short drive from us. The park is beautiful with trees and the river. Near Lexington, is the site where the British forces fired the first shots at colonial militiamen. Five miles north at the North Bridge at Concord, is where the “shot heard round the world” was fired when the colonial minutemen first fired at the British Army on April 19, 1775.Ralph Waldo Emerson in his 1837 poem "Concord Hymn" says in the opening stanza:
“By the rude bridge that arched the flood/Their flag to April’s breeze unfurled/Here once the embattled farmers stood/And fired the shot heard round the world.”
At the visitor center we met member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints from Heber, Utah. They are friends of some of our fellow senior missionaries serving in Romania that we came to know in the missionary training center. It is a very small world in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. We meet people that we connect to in someway all around the world.
The American Revolution is a watershed moment in the history of the world, and we are blessed to be serving our mission in a place of such historical significance. It is also not lost on me that Joseph Smith, the prophet of the restoration was born in Sharon, Vermont just 30 years after the “shot heard round the world.” His life was just as revolutionary in terms of Christian doctrine as the early patriots of the American Revolution were in terms of democracy. Those revolutionary teachings included the nature of the godhead, the principle of ongoing modern revelation, the restoration of the priesthood, the translation of “The Book of Mormon: Another Testament of Jesus Christ”, the need for temples and the restoration of temple covenants, and the doctrine of eternal families. These are just a few examples of the revolutionary teachings of Joseph Smith. There must be something in the soil and air of New England that produces such extraordinary men and women.
Here are some pictures from that day:
We ended this week with our district preparation day. We love spoiling these young missionaries! We had a BBQ in a park in Nashua. They ate and then finished the day with pickle ball. These young people have become our adopted grandchildren to some degree.