We had a Zone Conference in the few two weeks, and we are constantly amazed at the ability of these young missionaries. They are awesome! We are also amazed at our mission leaders, President and Sister Hayden. They are incredible! The amount of work and effort they put in for this calling is incalculable. They are always on the go traveling to all corners of the mission. We respect them so much!
There is a scripture in the Book of Mormon in Mosiah 18: 8 that has always had great significance for me. It reads in part, “… and now, as ye are desirous to come into the fold of God, and to be called his people, and are willing to bear one another’s burdens, that they may be light …”
When I think back on my life; I have been aided in good measure by those who were willing to “bear one another’s burdens that they may be light.” When we lived in California I was called as a bishop of the Oakley Ward. We had four children at the time and the pressures of a demanding job, being father, and those of a bishop were crushing at times. We had a small home that needed some additional soil brought in for the back yard to fill the flower beds along the back fence. My wife arranged for soil to be delivered to our driveway so we could use a wheelbarrow and move it to the back. Then we had some emergency and she needed to leave town and I stayed at home to take care of the boys. We had forgotten about the delivery of the soil until it was dumped in front of the garage door effectively sealing our car inside. When I looked at the pile of dirt in the driveway it seemed to grow larger and larger before my eyes. How could I ever move this mountain on my own. The pile seemed to represent all the pressures in my life, my job, my family, and my calling as bishop. I felt paralyzed as how to even begin to move this mountain. Then I heard the sound of a wheelbarrow coming around the corner. It was our home teacher (ministering brother) Rich Tumin coming toward me. “Bishop, I saw this pile of dirt and thought you could use some help.” Together we visited as we moved the dirt to the back yard and into place. It seemed that it was done in no time at all. The emotional mountain in my mind was also lifted and removed and my burdens seemed to be bearable once again. Rich was willing to bear my burdens and make them light. He probably had no idea of the other burdens that were pressing so heavily on my mind when he came to help. But I knew he had been sent to help me. In my time as a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints we have had many earthly angels who have lifted burdens. Rich Tumin is one and Ed Kettering the other. Ed Kettering became our home teacher in Los Alamos, NM during a time with other heavy burdens. He and his wife Barbara became adoptive grandparents to our children. Ed solved innumerable handyman catastrophes and is another great example of lifting burdens on too many occasions to describe. They are great men who I love immensely.
We have now been on our mission for nine months. Last night we had the first snowfall in Lowell, MA. But it was all gone by morning with a steady rain washing it away. It is getting colder, and I have finally broken down and started wearing a jacket outside. The fall colors are gone, and the leaves are now brown or on the ground.
“What do member and leader support missionaries do?” That question often comes our way. Last Sunday evening we were invited to attend an adult fireside in the Worcester Massachusetts Stake and participate in a panel discussion about senior adult missionary service. To answer that question, we shared what our normal day was like. We teach English on MWF evenings. In the mornings we study and then take time to look for members who have not been contacted in a while. But our daily activities vary. For example, on 10/31 we received a call from a member who had been referred to us by the elder’s quorum president. This member was going to have a job interview via Zoom but had some trouble with his laptop and needed assistance doing the interview from the church. He is a native Spanish speaker and asked if I could help him. I said yes and drove to the church and stayed there during the interview at his request in case technical issues developed. While I was at the church Lynn received a call from a member in Arizona who had somehow gotten our phone number. They wanted us to check on a family member in Lowell because their father had died, and they were not answering the phone so that the family could inform them of his passing. We went to the house but could not get anyone to come to the door. When we reported this to the family member, we were requested to call the police to do a welfare check on the individual. There were concerns that they might be incapacitated. This we did and the police came, and the individual was seen and evaluated. In this example you can see that we do whatever might be needed.
We have many covered bridges in New England. They too serve as an example of helping us cross over difficulties in life. Rivers of trial and rapids of chaos. Here are pictures of the shortest bridge we’ve encountered; and the longest dual carriage covered bridge in the United States.
One of our weekly pleasures is to give a ride to Mutual to a young man named Francisco Nerio in our Spanish Group. A few weeks ago Francisco asked me to ordain him a teacher in the Aaronic Priesthood. He is an outstanding young man and has a wonderful family. It was a privilege to ordain him. Something I have not done since my boys were teenagers.
Thanksgiving is next week. I have to remind myself that we are in New England, the birthplace of the Thanksgiving celebration. We have much to be thankful for and more blessings than we deserve. We hope that you have a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday!