Saturday, August 8, 2009

Michigan Summer - August 8, 2009

For years I watched our children finish the school year, June saunters by, we celebrate the 4th of July, and the next thing you know the children are headed back to school and the summer is over. Of course, with school not dictating our lives, we are not ordered quite that way now. Except, of course, that we happen to be serving as Church Education System missionaries. And once again, our lives are dictated by the school year. In just two weeks we will finish the summer semester and begin the fall semester on September 2.

For the summer semester John has taught a class on the Pearl of Great Price. My subject has been Teachings of the Living Prophets which has been a wonderful experience. After a few basic "learning-how-to-study" classes, the remainder of the classes have been based on talks by the First Presidency and members of the Quorum of the Twelve from the April General Conference. I have loved my teaching experience and though student attendance has varied from week to week, those attending have had much to contribute and we have all been edified. I am amazed at what I personally have gained from this indepth study. The Prophets and Apostles of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are truly directed by our Heavenly Father and what they teach us will bring joy and progress to our lives as we integrate those principles.

From early spring through the end of August, the Student Living Center (which is owned by the Church) where we live has been undergoing a great deal of renovation. It has been a bit intrusive, but we are almost finished. We have new windows, new furniture, new paint, new carpet, new doors and by the first of September, we will have a full residency in both buildings.

The summer has not been all "work and no play." In May we enjoyed Muncie company (the Hobans and Ryan and Betty Jo Shrack). The end of May we traveled two hours northeast to meet with the other Senior Missionaries for part of a day in Midland. We spent the 4th of July weekend in the far north (Mackinaw area) with two other couples from Lansing. And two weeks ago another of our "Muncie children," Stephanie (Baker) and Tim Turner, came to visit us. We saw them off to their home in Ohio on Friday morning and immediately boarded vans with 18 other people from the University Ward on a very short trip to Nauvoo. John recently elaborated on that wonderful experience, but I have been caught up in the "thick of thin things" and haven't taken the time to write. Nauvoo was a different experience for me than other times when I have been there. We saw the pageant, City of Joseph, on Friday night, plus other entertainment programs presented by the senior missionaries and summer youth missionaries serving in Nauvoo. In the pageant, the story of Nauvoo was retold by the characters who lived it in the 1840's. The pageant ended with the main characters coming forward to speak to us in this current day to remind us of our heritage and responsibility. Having at least four of my great-great grandparents (the Knights, the Averetts, and the Bairs) driven from Nauvoo in 1846, this touched me very deeply. I went to the Lands and Records office Saturday morning and was able to come out with many records, dates, newspaper articles, etc. recorded on a CD pertaining to these ancestors. What a privilege it was to make this trip to Nauvoo with the young single adults and the bishopric of the University Ward.

Today, August 8, we have spent the day in Grand Rapids, Michigan, in a training program for seminary and institute teachers in the three stakes for which our supervisor (Brother Draut) is responsible. We speak in Sacrament meeting tomorrow morning and in the weeks ahead will have speaking assignments in other wards in the Lansing Stake.

It was just one year ago today that John underwent the extensive surgery to correct the massive injuries he received as he was loading a large cherry log. While that was a most traumatic and intrusive experience, we have been able to continue in life with less disruption than one would suppose. We have been greatly blessed!

We are well, busy, and very happy. John recently said: "We give a little, and ten times that comes back to enrich our lives." We commend each of you to serve the Lord to the fullest extent possible in your individual circumstances.

We appreciate your comments and emails. If you desire to write, our email address is, our mailing address is 4912 South Hagadorn Road, #26, East Lansing, MI 48823, and our phone number is 517-862-4805. Ranelle

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Lessons in Sainthood

One mark of True Religion is that God exacts covenants upon those who occupy His church. Really! God personally sees to it that one does not just fall into full membership/fellowship in His kingdom with mere consent, and passive attendance. It's that same way with serving God--one actually pays for the privilege!

Outrageous? Check it out! God is not looking for a cadry of applauders, but a team-ful of beefy players, and a full count of second- and third-stringers who can--and do--freely substitute!

This reality became clear, last week, as Ranelle and I stepped out of the van that drove us to old Nauvoo. Upon realizing the magnitude of where we were, we suddenly saw the vast irony involved. You see, just six months earlier we had laid on the line not only our wealth, but also our Eternal security should we not do the job! No hint of anything in return--nothing. And now this: a free trip to Nauvoo, and Carthage. Suddenly, there at the van's doorway we glimpsed the generosity of our kindly God.

So for part of two days we walked the streets of that wannabe City of the Saints, and there we sensed the screaming and hateful mobs that once trampled the very turf upon which we stood! Our presence there was an unbelievable gift, and we wore ourselves out just walking and looking!

Then at second days' end, Sister O and I re-entered the van, and with our group hauled off to nearby Carthage. There, we visited the jail. In the tour, Elder O'Dell stood for twenty minutes at the very window where God's Latter-day Prophet Joseph Smith received two bullets. As his riddled body crashed through that very window, he received two more bullets from the courtyard below, then another as he lay dead where he landed.

Me, I was sobered. Sobered at being there, and sobered to think that not one lawful finger was ever pointed at the 150 "brave" mobsters who did it.

Leaving Carthage at 6:30 p.m., our group of 13 hunkered down for an eight hour drive back home. Wonderful trip!