Just Do It!

I had a dream last night that I was planning a meeting with some non-members and felt prompted to tell them a story I heard while in the MTC. When I woke up I realized I hadn’t actually recorded that story in my journal, so I guess the dream was a prompting to write the story down so I’d remember it for future reference. It is a great illustration of the principle of following promptings, even if you are not sure whether it it a prompting from God, or just a “good thought” from your own mind. The incident is related by Elder Bednar of the Quorum of the Twelve and it was shown to us on a video during our Preach My Gospel training. Elder Bednar had learned “the rest of the story” from Elder Packer many years after the incident took place.

Here is the story in Elder Boyd K. Packer’s words:

We were assigned to go to Berlin to a stake conference. We needed to get from Berchtesgaden high in the Alps down to Munich to the airport.

We got to the airport in ample time for our plane, which as I recall left at about 10:00 in the morning, but it was fogged in. We sat there listening to the announcements for nearly 12 hours. They kept saying they thought the fog would clear. It did not clear.

That night near 10:00, two missionary elders came to the airport. We knew then that the planes would not fly. They told us there was a train leaving Munich for Berlin at midnight. They took us to the mission home. My wife rummaged through the kitchen, found some canned soup, and made us a quick supper. The elders took us to the train station, bought our tickets, and saw us aboard the train which would take from about midnight until about 10:00 the next morning to arrive in Berlin.

As the train was pulling out, one young elder said, “Do you have any German money?” I shook my head, no. He said, “You better have some,” and, running along side, pulled from his pocket a twenty-mark note. He handed that to me.

At that time the Iron Curtain was very “iron.” The train stopped at Hof on the border between West Germany and East Germany, and they changed crews. All of the West German crew members got off the train, and the East German Communist crew got on the train. Then it set out across East Germany toward Berlin.

They had just begun to issue five-year passports. I had a new passport–a five-year passport. We went to have my wife’s passport renewed. They sent it back saying that the three-year passports were honored as a five-year passport, that she still had more than two years left on her passport.

About two o’clock in the morning, a conductor, a military-type soldier, came and asked for our tickets, and then, noting that we were not German, he asked for our passports. I always hate to give up my passport. I do not like to give up my passport, especially in unfriendly places. But he took them. I almost never dislike anybody, but I made an exception for him! He was a surly, burly, ugly man.

We spoke no German. In the car, the compartment, there were six of us–my wife and a German sitting to the side of her and then almost knee to knee in a bench facing us were three other Germans. We had all been conversing a little. When he came in, all was silent.

The conversation took place, and I knew what he was saying. He was denying her passport. He said, “Drei Jahren!”

And I said, “Five Jarhen!”

He went away and came back two or three times. Finally, not knowing what to do, I had a bit of inspiration and produced that twenty-mark note. He looked at it, he took the note, and handed us our passports.

The next morning when we arrived in Berlin, a member of the Church, who was the head of the Central Intelligence Agency for the United States in Berlin, met us at the train. I rather lightly told him of our experience. He was very sober, very suddenly. I said, “What’s the matter?”

He said, “I don’t know how to explain your getting here. East Germany right now is the one country in the world that refuses to honor the three-year passport. To them, your wife’s passport was not valid.”

I said, “Well, what could they have done?”

He answered, “Put you off the train.”

I said, “They wouldn’t put us off the train, would they?”

He said, “Not us, her!”

I could see myself having someone try to put my wife off the train at about two o’clock in the morning somewhere in East Germany. I am not sure I would know what to do. I am glad that passed.

I did not learn until afterwards how dangerous it was and what the circumstances were, particularly for my wife. I care a good deal more about her than I do for me. That intelligence officer convinced us that we had been in very serious danger. Those whose passports they would not accept were arrested and detained.

All of this comes to this point: the elder who handed me the twenty-mark note was David A. Bednar, a young elder serving in the then-South German Mission, who sits here on the stand as president of BYU-Idaho.

So, why was it that this young elder from San Leandro, California, handed me the twenty-mark note? If you understand that and understand what life is about, you will understand really all you need to know about life as members of the Church. You will understand how our lives are really not our own. They are governed; if we live as we should live, then we will be taken care of.

I do not think Elder Bednar knew the consequences of what he was doing. That twenty-mark note was worth six dollars, and six dollars to an elder is quite a bit! But at any rate, it happened.

As you go through life, you will find that these things happen when you are living as you ought to live.

(You can read the entire story here: http://www2.byui.edu/Presentations/transcripts/devotionals/2002_03_12_packer.htm)

My take-away is not to doubt when I feel “inspired” to do something, second-guessing if it is a prompting or not…JUST DO IT! and if I never learn why, that’s okay too. I will have done my part, all that I can do, and that is enough.

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Men are that they might have joy 

Sister missionaries at the MTC

In Church today one of the speakers (called up out of the audience of missionaries– they each are warned to have a talk prepared every Sunday, as they may be asked to speak) was a young sister from Poland, learning English to serve in the London Visitors’ Center. She is a convert who joined the church a few years ago. When she first was given a Book of Mormon, she didn’t want to read it. She thought it would contain strange things…but she did read it, and as soon as she began, she felt a spirit of happiness and joy overtake her. She knew it was the word of God. She read from the Book of Mormon (2 Nephi 33:10) on page 116-117 Nephi’s testimony at the end of his writing:

And now, my beloved brethren, and also Jew, and all ye ends of the earth, hearken unto these words and believe in Christ; and if ye believe not in these words believe in Christ. And if ye shall believe in Christ ye will believe in these words, for they are the words of Christ, and he hath given them unto me; and they teach all men that they should do good.

And if they are not the words of Christ, judge ye–for Christ will show unto you, with power and great glory, that they are his words at the last day…

She added her testimony with Nephi’s that the Book of Mormon is the word of God and will bring a man (or woman) closer to God than any other book.

The second speaker was a young Vietnamese man on his way to serve the Vietnamese people in California, who told us about his uncle’s conversion to the gospel. The uncle lived a life of the world, indulging in all it had to offer, but wasn’t a happy person. Soon after he was diagnosed with cancer he accepted an invitation to come to church. He read the Book of Mormon and accepted the gospel. His last six months of life were his happiest, as he lost himself in service to others.

This reminded me of something I learned recently when I had occasion to meet up with the missionary who taught the gospel to me over 40 years ago. He took us to lunch and I asked him what he remembered from that time of my conversion. He remembered that I wanted to be baptized, but as I was a minor, I needed parental permission, which my mother was reluctant to give. The missionaries invited our family to a meeting with a visiting church leader and right after the meeting, my mother gave permission for me to join the church. Elder West asked her what the speaker had said to convince her to give permission. She replied that it wasn’t anything the speaker said. As she had looked around her, she saw how happy all the young people in the audience seemed. If being a part of this church made them so happy, and I could be that happy too, then she wanted that for me.

Mom was right: being a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was the best thing I ever did to ensure not only my happiness in this life, but eternal life with my Father in Heaven. It is a joy and privilege to serve Him full time now in England.

 

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Resilience

Today we are learning about resiliency training and were directed to this video. You can see it via YouTube:

So…when you are buffeted by life’s turmoils, get up, shake yourself off and continue to follow your Leader.

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Pelicans, Puffins and Toucans…oh, my!

I had some free time the other day and decided to check out the Highway Code for UK 2015. We can drive on our USA license for a year, but after that will need to take the driving test and get a UK license for the second year in country. The Code is 164 pages long and extremely detailed. It will take us a year just to read through it. And even though the language is “similar” to ours, the vocabulary takes some getting used to. For instance, I can understand the concept of a Zebra Crossing (those white stripes on the black asphalt to indicate where one should cross) but in the UK there are Pelican, Puffin and Toucan crossings as well…

This is what you’ll see at a Pelican Crossing:

Screen Shot 2015-07-12 at 8.25.21 AM

Toucan Crossings are for cyclists and pedestrians, and look like this:

Screen Shot 2015-07-12 at 8.27.45 AM

Don’t get me started on the rules for equestrian crossings…and then there’s “Staggered Pelican and Puffin Crossings…”

Combine all this with driving on the “wrong” side of the road with a car that steers from the “wrong” side of the car…

Watch out, UK drivers, here we come!

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Making Connections

Since this blog was initially dedicated to the synchronicities or coincidences in my life (I call them “God-winks”), I’ll share a few we’ve experienced on our journey to England thus far.

We took the Shuttle from the Salt Lake City airport to the Mission Training Center in Provo, which was about an hour’s drive. We were the only passengers and our driver happened to be a British expat who, when he learned our mission assignment, spent the whole drive filling us in on what to say/not say to a Brit (don’t make comparisons to the U.S.A., ie., “Your refrigerators/stoves/cars/etc. are so much smaller than the ones we have in America…”); the best sweets to get in Britain (Thornton’s Toffee; anything by Mars or Cadbury); the way to find the best fish and chips (NOT at a pub! There is actually an annual contest to locate the best fish and chips shop by region. Here’s the list. Looks like we’ll be taking an excursion to Milton Keynes for a visit to Broughton’s Fish and Chips); and how to find the best curry (There’s actually an annual publication called the Good Curry Guide. Brits take their Tikki Masala very seriously).

Everywhere we go, we find people with some connection to us. Most know someone who was/is serving in England. Others wish they were going to England…Today we walked down to the BYU Creamery and were served our Coconut Joy and Bishop’s Bash scoops of ice cream by Julie A, from Olympia, WA. We compared notes and discovered people we knew in common. Mormondom is such a small world.

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Called to Serve

Called to Serve

Called to Serve

Five months ago I suggested to my honey that he call and see what service options may be available to us for a Military Relations mission in Europe (we were thinking Germany) for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. We were planning to be retired by the end of 2015 and were hoping to serve a mission at that time. The news was that no openings were available for that type of mission until Spring of 2016. We were disappointed, as we didn’t want to put it off that long, so he asked if there was anything available sooner overseas at all?

“Funny you should ask…just an hour ago the couple who were supposed to serve in the England London mission withdrew for health reasons….Could you be ready to go to the UK in June?”

Thus began an intense scramble of activity to get passports, visas, driver’s licenses renewed, medical tests and immunizations and a myriad of other requirements to be able to leave for two years. It all seemed overwhelming at first, but throughout the process the way was cleared and miracles occurred to make it all possible.

We enjoyed a couple weeks of fabulous family time with our loved ones whom we will sorely miss over the next two years; I bade farewell to my career as a Library Manager on July 2nd; and on our Nation’s birthday we were on our way to Provo, Utah to enter the Missionary Training Center.

I will be using this space to document our experience and hope you will stop by periodically to see what we are up to as we serve the Lord and his children in the UK over the next two years.

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Writing Update

My writing goal, to be finished by July 3rd (before we left on our LDS Mission), was to complete my personal history. I am happy to report that not only did I finish writing, but I am almost finished with the editing process. I’m now turning it over to my daughter to look at it with fresh eyes and a different perspective, to ensure that nothing I’ve written offends any of my loved ones…My purpose is to leave my children and grandchildren (okay, my posterity…) with a record of my life, with an emphasis on the importance family has and does play in my life as well as the many spiritual experiences I’ve had that affirm to me not only the existence of God, but His ever-watchful eye over me and those I love. I have truly been blessed! Now it’s time for a major payback (although that is never actually possible, as no matter what we do, we are always in God’s debt…) by serving a two-year full-time mission with my husband.

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Zuzu’s petals (or the past returns)

Z
While we were living in Brussels, Belgium, my younger sister came for a visit. She was in college and taking a break to visit us and our new baby. In church one Sunday she met a young returned missionary* who was stopping in Belgium to visit an aunt before returning home to Australia.  The young man’s name was Sebastian** and they hit it off right away.  They spent about a week together sight-seeing places in Belgium, and also accompanying us on a visit to Paris. It became apparent that Sebastian was getting quite attached to my sister (chalk it up to two years not being around anything resembling a female.) She liked him a lot but was in no way in love and didn’t want to be more than friends. When it came time for my sister to go home, Sebastian suggested that they continue to keep in touch and then suggested she fly to Australia to meet his parents. She said she didn’t think they really knew each other well enough, after only a week, to be making those kinds of plans, but she’d be happy to stay friends and write once in a while. That was that. She went back to BYU and was working and going to school and pretty much forgot all about it. Several months later a girl who worked with her in the lab she ran asked for some time off. She explained that she was going to her best friend’s wedding. Of course they casually chatted about her friend and how she had met her fiance etc. The girl said  it was a long, sad story. She said that her friend had met this guy who had been heart-broken when the girl he loved had just about dumped him at the altar. My sister commented on what a slimy woman she must have been, leading him on and dumping him etc. The girl agreed and went on to talk about how horrible this former girlfriend had been, how cruel and unfeeling and how much she had hurt her friend’s fiance. My sister was casually nodding and commenting on what witches some girls could be. As the girl  went on with the story it started to occur to her that some parts of this story sounded very familiar. The fiance had just gotten off his mission, was visiting an aunt in Belgium when he met this wretched girl, they had a whirlwind romance in Paris, they were pretty much engaged and she dumped him when he wanted her to meet his parents etc. My sister stopped the story at this point and asked the girl what the fiance’s name was. You guessed it, Sebastian. So she had spent the whole time disparaging herself until she recognized the story that had been built up by this fiance around her non-existent relationship with him!
What are the odds? Has your past ever come back to haunt you?
* Mormon jargon for a young man just finished his 2-year service as a missionary
**Name changed to protect privacy
Paris, the city of love!

Paris, the city of love!

Day 26 of the A-Z Challenge!

Posted in A-Z Challenge, Family, Good Old Days, memories, Synchronicity, Travel | Tagged , , , , , | 4 Comments

Yankee Frugality

Y

 

We had a catered meal at work and the caterer left a mound of butter, which I confiscated and put in our staff refrigerator for later use. Soon after, I found it dumped in the organics recycle bin. I guess another staff member (responsible for keeping the refrigerator tidy) doesn’t have my Yankee Frugality gene, wherein I was taught, “waste not, want not.”

In what corner do you stand–frugality or “throw-it-out” tidiness? Do you think I am being OCD about this??

Butter in the bin

Butter in the bin

Day 25 of the A-Z Challenge!

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X-file (Unexplained phenomena)

X

 

(Dream & Reality)

[The dream part] My Honey and I and our young daughter were on a Triumph motorcycle. Our progress was slowed because our daughter kept getting off the motorcycle to pick up bunnies along the road. Suddenly, we came across a field of thousands of rabbits, many of them dead in heaps. Our daughter found one baby bunny alive among the heap and put it in her pocket.

[The reality part] Five days after I had the above dream, an article appeared in the Life Section of USA Today:

Rabbit Rescue Ends Some Bad Hare Days–Washoe County, Nev. Bunnies in the bedrooms, hares in the hallway…cages and cages of cottontails…and that’s just inside this house rented by the Best Friends Animal Society…Outside, rabbit runs house close to 1,700 bunnies rescued from a Reno woman whose obsession with rabbits led to hoarding. The stench. The feces. The dead bunnies in heaps…It was just terrible…” (Wednesday, August 9, 2006)


Can anybody explain this to me? What is going on here? Have you ever had a premonition dream?

Bugs Bunny image from Looneytunes.wikia.com

Day 24 of the A-Z Challenge!

Posted in A-Z Challenge, Dreams, Family, Spirituality, Synchronicity | Tagged , , , , | 11 Comments