Friday, 27 November 2015

Week 21 in the Utah Ogden Mission

Week 21 in the Utah Ogden Mission 
The Atonement of Jesus Christ 
When I as a young missionary serving in my first area in Ashtabula Ohio, my companion and I taught many people the gospel of Jesus Christ. Most of those that we taught experienced great hardship and trials in their lives. Many were physically and sexually abused. Many struggled with drug, alcohol and pornography addictions. Many were financially destitute and devoid of hope. I observed and felt a small portion of their pain. 

Nine years later, living in Henderson Nevada with my wife and two daughters (Mackenzie 4, Emma 2) we rushed to the hospital as our third child Stewart wanted to come to this earth...too soon. We prayed and prayed for a miracle...I pled with God to spare my wife and son, finding out that her body was in a state of significant infection. I felt acute and exquisite mental and spiritual pain thinking about the potential loss of life or debilitating effects of infection. That evening as I cried and prayed for hours, I told the Lord I would accept His will, whatever that was. I was immediately overcome...rescued...revived by a warmth and peace that engulfed my body. I knew things would be ok. I returned to the hospital where my wife delivered a bruised and beautiful baby boy. He took a few breaths and went "home to that God who gave him life." 

The atonement of Jesus Christ helped me then and continues to help me during life's struggles. It helped my family understand that this life is brief but important. What we do here makes a difference in where we will go when this life is over. Without Jesus Christ atonement and resurrection there would be no opportunity for my son to "come forth in the morning of the first Resurrection...that both spirit and body shall be reunited in a perfect frame." 

The great convert Amulek before Jesus came said this about the Atonement of Christ in about 74 BC 
Alma 34
8 And now, behold, I will testify unto you of myself that these things are true. Behold, I say unto you, that I do know that Christ shall come among the children of men, to take upon him the transgressions of his people, and that he shall atone for the sins of the world; for the Lord God hath spoken it.
9 For it is expedient that an atonement should be made; for according to the great plan of the Eternal God there must be an atonement made, or else all mankind must unavoidably perish; yea, all are hardened; yea, all are fallen and are lost, and must perish except it be through the atonement which it is expedient should be made.
10 For it is expedient that there should be a great and last sacrifice; yea, not a sacrifice of man, neither of beast, neither of any manner of fowl; for it shall not be a human sacrifice; but it must be an infinite and eternal sacrifice.

The gospel writers in the New Testament each gave a bit of a different summary of the atonement of Jesus Christ. 
Matthew said this in Matthew 26
39 And he went a little further, and fell on his face, and prayed, saying, O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt.

Luke the physician described it in Luke 22
42 Saying, Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me: nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done.
43 And there appeared an angel unto him from heaven, strengthening him.
44 And being in an agony he prayed more earnestly: and his sweat was as it were great drops of blood falling down to the ground.

And Mark described most tenderly the suffering of Jesus. His suffering was so intense he called out to his "daddy" (Abba) Mark 14 
36 And he said, Abba, Father, all things are possible unto thee; take away this cup from me: nevertheless not what I will, but what thou wilt.

I've thought about "bitter cup." Isaiah called it the Cup of Fury. Everything that is not joyful, sublime, peaceful and perfect was in the cup...and that's what Jesus symbolically drank. He did it for all of us...every person who has lived, does now live and will ever live...he did it for us. If we accept him he can take away the pain my family and I feel for my 
Special needs sister, Mental illness in our family, an alcoholic uncle, the pain my gay cousin has felt since our youth, the loss of my son 14 years ago, loss of Amy's father 5 years ago, all my sins 

Pmg plan of salvation
As we rely on the Atonement of Jesus Christ, He can help us endure our trials, sicknesses, and pain. We can be filled with joy, peace, and consolation. All that is unfair about life can be made right through the Atonement of Jesus Christ.

D&C 19
how sore you know not, how exquisite you know not, yea, how hard to bear you know not.
16 For behold, I, God, have suffered these things for all, that they might not suffer if they would repent;
17 But if they would not repent they must suffer even as I;
18 Which suffering caused myself, even God, the greatest of all, to tremble because of pain, and to bleed at every pore, and to suffer both body and spirit--and would that I might not drink the bitter cup, and shrink--
19 Nevertheless, glory be to the Father, and I partook and finished my preparations unto the children of men.

Last week Elder Ringwood of the first quorum of the seventy toured our mission. He instructed our leadership, conducted interviews, took our family to dinner and gave an amazing sermon on faith. I learned that desire, belief and hope are "particles of faith." I learned that the best definition of faith is simply "action." If we can have particles of faith, we can have an "eye of faith" which leads us to "act in faith." I love these concepts taught by a servant of the Lord. 

Sunday, 15 November 2015

Week 20 in The Utah Ogden Mission

Week 20 in The Utah Ogden Mission
We can do hard things. I was reminded of that while reading about the passing of a mission presidents wife in Africa last week. She went to a hospital for a minor procedure and passed away while there. She taught her missionaries the magnificent principle that they could do hard things. I naturally contrasted the experience we and our young missionaries are having serving in Utah with the experience of those that serve in Africa. Certainly not having running water, sleeping in huts, traveling everywhere by foot, not seeing other missionaries for weeks is hard work in Africa. Our missionaries certainly don't have those challenges.

 The challenges of our missionaries are very different. Serving in the heart of Zion is a privilege. But with that privilege comes the responsibility of living the standards of the gospel in word and deed on a different level. Each week a general authority visits a different stake conference in our mission. Frequently the young missionaries are asked to spontaneously share their testimonies or a first discussion in front of 1500 people. How is that for pressure? 

The missionaries have a saying..."every member a mission president." Everywhere they go, they are being watched. At least 3 times a week I receive an email or a phone call about various and sundry mistakes the missionaries make. Examples of some of these... "they were riding their bikes too close to the traffic and they didn't have any lights." "I saw them at the bowling alley on Tuesday. What are they doing there on Tuesday?" (It's their pday) "The missionaries hung out at the family history center all afternoon." (I ask them to do family history for their investigators and less actives every week). 387 Bishops and ward councils expect a deep spiritual thought and advice to hasten the work in ward councils weekly. The missionaries are expected to teach 21 lessons a week, baptize every month and take recent converts or recently activated members to the temple every month. They are expected to smile and be happy everywhere they go. (Even in the snow and rain) They enter smoke-filled rooms and work with disaffected members daily. The local members have the best intentions in mind, but consider the scrutiny the missionaries face. I love these missionaries. I love their commitment. I love them in all of their 18 and 19 year old weakness.  I love that they can do hard things. 

As Gods children we can all do hard things. Why? Because our greatest exemplar and Savior did hard things and set the example of how to endure difficulties. 

He endured and "drunk out of the bitter cup which the father hath given..." What was in the bitter cup? Isaiah called it the "cup of fury." What was in the cup? All that is painful, all that is harmful,  all that isn't perfect. He made all that wasn't right, right. 

 Consider the following scriptures in D&C 19:15-19
15 " sore you know not, how exquisite you know not, yea, how hard to bear you know not.

16 For behold, I, God, have suffered these things for all, that they might not suffer if they would repent;

17 But if they would not repent they must suffer even as I;

18 Which suffering caused myself, even God, the greatest of all, to tremble because of pain, and to bleed at every pore, and to suffer both body and spirit--and would that I might not drink the bitter cup, and shrink--

19 Nevertheless, glory be to the Father, and I partook and finished my preparations unto the children of men.

If Jesus can give glory to His Father after doing the hardest of ALL things, so can we give thanks in doing our own hard things. 

We thank you for your love, support and prayers. We need it and feel it! 

Love, Jeremy, Amy and Family 

Week 19 in The Utah Ogden Mission

Week 19 in the Utah Ogden Mission 
Our children are in Newbury Park, California visiting their friends this weekend. Watching the four of them get on that plane without us was sobering. In just 9 years, Amy and I will be "empty-nesters." I asked myself the question on the way out of the airport, "Am I doing all I can to be the best husband and father I can in the time that I have with my family?"  My recent experience counseling missionaries who have lost loved ones to death led me to the following scripture in D&C 29:43 "And thus did I, the Lord God, appoint unto man the days of his probation--that by his natural death he might be raised in immortality unto eternal life, even as many as would believe;" 

What are we doing with our days here upon this earth? I marvel at the young men and women and senior couples who take 2 years or 18 months out of their lives to serve full time missions for the LDS Church. They labor during their tender years of life and learn how to love. They learn that no matter who they come across, (and they come across a wild variety of people) that they are all children of Heavenly Parents and as such have a capacity for the infinite and eternal. The missionaries teach about the capacity of their brothers and sisters. They teach that they have a Savior, that God has a plan for them and that they can recognize Gods hand in their lives through the power of the Holy Spirit. Many receive that message with gladness. Many do not. 

Those that receive the gospel express deep gratitude towards God and the missionaries who taught them. Their gratitude has also caused me to pause and reflect on the spirit of gratitude.  I have determined to study the virtue of gratitude in depth. Cicero said, "Gratitude is not only the greatest of all virtues, but the parent of all others." 

Some scriptures that cause me to pause and think on the commandment to be grateful include...

“Thou shalt thank the Lord thy God in all things." 
“And in nothing doth man offend God, or against none is his wrath kindled, save those who confess not his hand in all things.” 
“live in thanksgiving daily, for the many mercies and blessings which [God] doth bestow upon you.” 

President Thomas S. Monson said, "Regardless of our circumstances, each of us has much for which to be grateful if we will but pause and contemplate our blessings." 

Universities have studied gratitude and have found that those who either 1) write a note of thanks to someone daily or 2) write 5 things they are grateful for in a journal daily are more productive citizens, have more fruitful relationships, earn more money, experience more peace and happiness over time etc. 

My prayer is that we will be grateful and express it frequently to our maker and to each other. That we will love our children, parents and siblings more deeply and fully. Love = time. I hope we will forgive and experience forgiveness. 

We love the Lord. We love serving him full time. We thank all for their support and prayers while we serve. 

Sunday, 1 November 2015

Weeks 11-18 in the Utah Ogden Mission

Weeks 11-18 Utah Ogden Mission - Death is overcome by Jesus Christ:
This morning a mother from California called to let us know her husband had passed away. One of her sons is serving in our mission, the other son is serving in the Pocatello Idaho Mission. Our missionary still has 11 months left on his mission. His brother was due home just after Christmas. Both are staying to finish their missions. As our missionary stated after I let him know his father had died, "I know that the plan of salvation is real, and where my father is, I need to stay out here and teach more people  about it." He further stated that this past week he has been the best missionary of his mission, buoyed up by the spirit and his personal knowledge that Jesus Christ, the Savior of the World made it possible for all of us to overcome sin and death. This Elder is an amazing human being. He is resilient in Christ. He is elect! 

My mind went immediately to the acts of the apostles of old who withstood persecution, physical ailments, doctrinal challenges, death of loved ones etc...yet they endured. Paul wrote to the Romans about this experience.
Romans 8
 33 Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God’s elect? It is God that justifieth.

34 Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us.

35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?

36 As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.

37 Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us.

38 For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come,

39 Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

The state of Utah sends thousands of missionaries out to the rest of the world every year. Some of the prospective missionaries may have a slight mental or physical disability which may limit them serving outside the states. When a stake president has a concern over their ability to serve, these missionaries are called to serve in one of Utah's 11 missions as "two-transfer" missionaries. They come to our missions to serve for 12 weeks. Some go home after 12 weeks having completed their missions with honor, some get called to serve for 21 months after their 12 weeks here in Utah. 

This week was special. One of our "two transfer"  missionaries received her endowments. She served for 12 weeks and touched many lives. She came to Ogden to receive her endowments with her family and her companions and those she got to know here. 

Two other missionaries received full time mission calls Thursday night. Their families came to the mission office and we opened their calls together. Tears were shed, gratitude offered. One was called to serve in our home mission...Ventura California. He was excited and so were we. The other was called to serve in our mission. We were all surprised. I believe he was a bit disappointed but we are glad to have him. 

We are also associated with many young service missionaries who aren't able to serve full time missions. They labor in the canneries, Deseret industries, family history centers etc. we had a combined missionary meal and devotional with them which was such a sweet meeting. The spirit was profound as we joined with the disabled to share testimony, sing praises to God and worship our Savior Jesus Christ. 

Days are becoming weeks, weeks are becoming months. The past couple of weeks our family felt the pangs of homesickness. We love our mission, but we miss our neighbors, friends and ward family in Newbury Park.  More than a few tears have been shed by the Jaggi family as we contemplate the blessing so many people are in our lives. 

We love the 142 young missionaries and 100 senior missionaries in the Utah Ogden Mission. The senior missionaries especially have been angels in the field. Many are serving their 2nd or 3rd missions. They work from home and serve in so many ways. We are amazed at their faith, perseverance and dedication to preaching the restored gospel of Jesus Christ. 

We've welcomed many new missionaries, said goodbye to a few. The work is hard and fun. We love Ogden!