Sunday, 30 October 2016

October 2016 every 3 months

Over the last couple of months our family has received a common inquiry from many in the community as well as visitors to the home. It usually goes something like this..."so do you feel like you finally know what you are doing as a mission president and wife?" 

The answer is an unequivocable NO. 

Nor do I think we shall ever "really get it." Sometimes In our lives we are called to a ministry so dynamic, challenging, rich, rewarding and growing that we have no choice but to become as the scriptures say..."a tabernacle of clay." We are given responsibilities in the ministry to be shaped and molded. Our Savior is helping us change. I believe it's not just the calling we are engaged in right now, it may be any calling. Each calling helps us grow and there is a reason why we never feel truly adequate.  

One of my favorite books written by CS Lewis (Mere Christianity) says the following...

"Imagine yourself as a living house. God comes in to rebuild that house. At first, perhaps, you can understand what He is doing. He is getting the drains right and stopping the leaks in the roof and so on... But presently He starts knocking the house about in a way that hurts abominably and does not seem to make any sense. What on earth is He up to? The explanation is that He is building quite a different house from the one you thought of...You thought you were being made into a decent little cottage... but He is building a palace..." 

Our missionaries and our children are trying to follow the Savior Jesus Christ and his admonition to submit our will to the father as Jesus did so that we can become what He wants us to become. 

 ..."And now it came to pass that the burdens which were laid upon Alma and his brethren were made light; yea, the Lord did strengthen them that they could bear up their burdens with ease, and they did submit cheerfully and with patience to all the will of the Lord." 

Amy and I dropped Mackenzie off at BYU in late August. She was excited and nervous. She has done wonderfully in her start there. She said, "dad, they start many of the classes with prayer." I contrasted her experience with my own first day in an anthropology class at the University of Utah. The professors first words were..."this is not Sunday School." Though I was grateful for my liberal education at the U, I'm grateful for my daughters newfound experience at the Y. I am also grateful for the U sports program. ;)  Mackenzie is providing for herself by working a catering job. She loves her nutrition and English classes most. 

Emma is feeling the "heat" of her junior year of high school. She is taking difficult classes, preparing to take the ACT, working at waffle love, running cross country, singing and dating. She is our busy-body. We love our brief visits with her late at night and watching her become her own person. She is diligent. Her friends love to go to the beautiful Ogden temple for group dates. 

Our church's founder Joseph Smith said around 1840, "teach them correct principles and let them govern themselves." I believe that most of what we can teach our children occurs before their 15th year of life...then they govern themselves according to the principles we have or have not taught them. Without question our influence goes into their 16th, 17th and 18th years of life before they leave home, but a majority of their persona, belief system and values are formed before then. 

Joshua scored another goal in his soccer game Thursday. He loves soccer. He misses the competition level in California but we like the Ayso practice and game schedule. :) He is not keen to practice the piano, but does so daily at the behest of his parents. One of my greatest regrets I have was not learning to play the piano. He won't have that regret. He was proud to bring home an excellent report card last week. He enjoys time with mom and dad most and we are happy he likes that. 

Eliza Rose is our kind and gentle soul. On Amy's birthday this past week she "heart attacked" our bedroom door. (Cut outs of hearts and hand-written notes) She is an extraordinary helper in the home. She played soccer this fall for the first time in 5 years. We are so proud of her for trying new things. She wants to try basketball this winter. 

We were privileged to be with several members of the "Seventy" (Numbers 11:16-17)  this past week. We, like our missionaries were richly edified and uplifted by them. I'm amazed that these good brothers who are called to the ministry in their late 40's or early 50's will serve till they are seventy years old. 20+ years of full-time service to God is astounding. We pray for them and are grateful for what they have done for us. 

We have Heavenly parents who live and love us. When we pray to God, our Father in Heaven, we know that we are His children and that all of us...all people on earth are Brothers and Sisters. God sent His Son Jesus Christ "to atone for the sins of the world." He is our Savior and Redeemer. They have called prophets and apostles to lead and guide us. The first prophet they called after a great falling away from the truth was Joseph Smith in 1820. How do I know Joseph Smith was a prophet? By his fruits. He translated a Book of scripture...the Book of Mormon, another testament of Jesus Christ. When used as a companion to the Bible, we can know "the truth of all things." Prophets and apostles are on the earth today. They lead and guide The Church of Jesus Christ. 

We love you. We miss you our dear friends and family. 

Saturday, 16 July 2016

Jaggi Family Year 1 Summary

1st Year Summary 
(New missionaries and their trainers) 

It has been awhile since we have written. As stated earlier, the time seems to fly by ever faster and the work progresses at an exponential pace. It is a privilege to be a part of it. 

Some highlights of year 1 from our family. 

Mackenzie - creating whole food / plant-based cuisines that even her siblings will try. Singing and dancing. Making new friends in choir. Simplifying my life. Working at Living Scriptures almost full time. Finishing my book. (Almost!) Getting accepted to BYU.  Hiking in the mountains. Traveling to Europe for my senior trip. 
(Kenzie petting her favorite animal in Switzerland) 

Emma - Mary Poppins performance, running Cross Country, lots of new friends. Turning 16 and going on lots of dates. Driving. Hammocking in virtually every tree-lined place available. I also love having 150 older brothers and sisters (missionaries). 
(Emma and Gwen just getting back from EFY in Provo) 

Josh - Fun with cousins. Settled in more quickly and comfortably than I thought. More friends than I thought. I like Shadow Valley Elementary. Skiing at Snow Basin is awesome.  I love seeing missionaries every Sunday. I love doing Pday activities with missionaries in the summer. 

(Not a missionary Pday activity, but fun on a lake) 

Eliza - I love Lagoon, especially the ride Canibal! Learning to ski. Musical firesides with missionaries. The Book of Mormon readathon with missionaries. We read the whole thing in like a day! I love playing with the Assistants in the mission on Sunday's. I love all the new friends I've met. I love my little cousins. 
(Pday activity at a lake) 

Amy - I love, love reading and studying the gospel of Jesus Christ. Realizing the depth of love God has for all of his missionaries that serve here from all over the world and that have prepared and sacrificed much to be here. Witnessing the devotion, love and consecration of Senior Couple Missionaries, a mission nurse, physician and LDS family services professionals. Attending the Ogden temple regularly. (It's just 15 minutes away!) Reading the Book of Mormon in 30 hours. The Mission President's Seminar last year (and this year) and being instructed by prophets and apostles. Learning from so many people who love the Lord and want to share His gospel which has brought them happiness. Attending and feeling the spirit at 36 stake conferences. (She spoke at each as well). Recreating with our children on Preparation Day (Pday) with intention to create special memories with them. We love the mountains around Ogden. They are green and majestic. 

A few data tidbits of note in year 1
27 family home evenings hosted at the mission home. 
71 dinners hosted (that's a lot of ham) 
Attended 77 baptisms. (859 have happened since July 1 of last year). 
Missionaries conducted 3 musical firesides at the tabernacle with over 4500 attendees. 
117 missionaries departed for home. 131 arrived. 
Spoke at 43 firesides. 
Tested Samsung notebooks for missionaries. 
Launched Facebook for missionaries. 
Set up a monthly temple day for recent converts to attend the temple with their missionaries. 
Set up a monthly missionary health meeting with mission physician, family services, nurse etc to attend to missionary spiritual, psychological and physical needs.  

Most importantly however are the relationships we have established with the magnificent missionaries and people in the greater Ogden area. Our friends here are humble, diligent, smart, creative and service-oriented. They genuinely love their neighbors and do their best to uplift, inspire, set an example and serve. They emulate the Savior and have taught us so much. 

Thank you for your love and support during our 3 year ministry. We feel the faith and prayers of many. 

Sunday, 1 May 2016

Lessons learned through Joseph Smith's First Vision experience and other Jaggi Experiences

The first place Elder Shawn P. Murphy took me when he picked me up from the mission home my second day in the mission field in late May 1994 was the Newell K. Whitney store, School of the Prophets. It is an historic place in LDS Church history. It was not the Kirtland Temple although we frequented that historic edifice many times the next 7 months. 

As we ascended the stairs to a simple room with wooden floors, a few wooden benches and a table, I was unimpressed with the simplicity of it. Then Elder Brewer, our tour guide and full time missionary commenced telling us the story of Joseph Smith and his first vision. As he spoke, I felt warm...I felt though I were being lifted out of my shoes. The warmth coursed through me and the tears started to flow. I was feeling the spirit of God and the truth of the things which I was hearing. 

"But the comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in My name. He shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance. Whatsoever thing I have said u to you." John 14:26

Joseph Smith shared and documented the "First Vision" where he saw our Heavenly Father and His Son Jesus Christ standing side by side in a pillar of light. The experience occurred in 1820 when he was fourteen years old. (He asked that his experience be documented in 1832, 1835, 1838, 1842) He wrote or assigned scribes to write four different accounts of the vision. He published two accounts of the first vision during his lifetime, the first, known as Joseph Smith History was canonized as scripture in the Pearl of Great Price. The various accounts of the First Vision tell a consistent story though they differ in emphasis and detail. Because it is the account most read and canonized by prophets of God as scriptures, I share a portion of his account here. 

JSH 1:13 At length I came to the conclusion that I must either remain in darkness and confusion, or else I must do as James directs, that is, ask of God. I at length came to the determination to “ask of God,” concluding that if he gave wisdom to them that lacked wisdom, and would give liberally, and not upbraid, I might venture.

14 So, in accordance with this, my determination to ask of God, I retired to the woods to make the attempt. It was on the morning of a beautiful, clear day, early in the spring of eighteen hundred and twenty. It was the first time in my life that I had made such an attempt, for amidst all my anxieties I had never as yet made the attempt to pray vocally.

15 After I had retired to the place where I had previously designed to go, having looked around me, and finding myself alone, I kneeled down and began to offer up the desires of my heart to God. I had scarcely done so, when immediately I was seized upon by some power which entirely overcame me, and had such an astonishing influence over me as to bind my tongue so that I could not speak. Thick darkness gathered around me, and it seemed to me for a time as if I were doomed to sudden destruction.

16 But, exerting all my powers to call upon God to deliver me out of the power of this enemy which had seized upon me, and at the very moment when I was ready to sink into despair and abandon myself to destruction--not to an imaginary ruin, but to the power of some actual being from the unseen world, who had such marvelous power as I had never before felt in any being--just at this moment of great alarm, I saw a pillar of light exactly over my head, above the brightness of the sun, which descended gradually until it fell upon me.

17 It no sooner appeared than I found myself delivered from the enemy which held me bound. When the light rested upon me I saw two Personages, whose brightness and glory defy all description, standing above me in the air. One of them spake unto me, calling me by name and said, pointing to the other--This is My Beloved Son. Hear Him!

What do we now know about theology through Joseph Smiths experience in these last 5 verses? I list but a few that are poignant to me. 

1) God our Heavenly Father and His Son Jesus Christ are separate and distinct individuals, thus dispelling the notion of a trinitarian godhead. Indeed, the trinitarian notion is "incomprehensible" and false. 
2) Like our God is real, The Son of the Morning, Satan is real
3) Satan doesn't want us to pray 
4) God is more powerful than Satan
5) God and Jesus are full of light
6) Praying "vocally" (out loud) may make a difference in our prayers
7) Reading scriptures leads us to do good things 
8) God hears and answers our prayers
9) God and Jesus have perfect bodies, they point and they speak verbally
10) Jesus has been resurrected 
11) Quiet places are good places to pray 
12) Sometimes the answers to prayers only come in our most desperate hours
13) When we have "anxieties" we should turn to God
14) God knows us by name
15) Jesus knows us by name
16) Darkness may surround us but the light always cuts through the darkness 
17) God commands us to listen to His Son
18) We are always given agency or choice to pursue the path we deem appropriate 
19) If the first President of a now 15 million member church "lacks wisdom" and turns to God; oh how much more need have I to be humble and turn to God
20) "Determination" is a part of the process to receive answers to our prayers

Well, the list of learnings from Josephs history could go on and on. I share but 5 verses of his history; however, there are many more. I am so grateful for the experience of this uneducated farm boy. This experience preceded the translation of the Book of Mormon, Another testament of Jesus Christ. Having these other works of scripture helps us understand biblical teachings more fully. 

Some family side notes: It was an amazing week. Amy and I spent 2 days with President Christiansen, Elders Ringwood and Wilson at the mission presidents seminar. We were taught by the spirit. We were instructed how to be better leaders. We understand better how to help our missionaries. 

We came home from the seminar and Josh and I went on an overnight scout camp in Huntsville. It was beautiful but tiring. (It rained on us all night) I forgot how much I dislike sleeping on the ground in a tent. 

We returned from scout camp Saturday morning and I baptized Joey Morton, a friend we have come to know the last few weeks. 

Last night we experienced a powerful windstorm that felled many trees in our neighborhood. The power is out in several neighborhoods still. One fell on our roof but didn't break it. We are grateful all the missionaries are safe. 

Sunday, 10 April 2016

Springtime in Utah

We have experienced a beautiful spring here in Utah. The weather has been what the Utahns call a "typical spring." Abundant sunshine and warm temperatures for several days, then snow and rain for a couple days. The contrast is dramatic. Having never experienced such contrast, the kids think it's fun. Their friends keep telling them..."wait till next week when we get real thunder and lighting storms." On our preparation day yesterday we got one last day of spring skiing in. It The weather changes keep us on our toes and the blossoms and annual flowers coming up help us move forward in faith. It makes me think of how steady the weather at home in California has always been. 70-80 degrees and sunny over 300 days a year. I will never take for granted the blessing of Southern California weather. It really is unique in the world. I under appreciated the regular and steady sunshine and warmth of our home. I hope we all appreciate and express gratitude to our Heavenly Father for the circumstances in which we live, whatever they may be. 

The last several weeks of our spring has provided a fruitful spiritual renewal as well. In January we visited the Provo City Center Temple open house. The restored building which is now an ordinance house maintains its original beauty; however, the added rooms that provide saving ordinances for us and our ancestors provide an even deeper connection to our brothers and sisters in this world and in the next world.  Through Gods holy temples, He is uniting the entire family of Adam and Eve. 
Our tour of the temple was wonderful, but it paled in comparison to the dedication ceremony that occurred March 20th.  Several speakers including temple presidency counselors and their wives, Elder Larry Wilson and Apostle Ballard spoke about the sacrifice of the pioneers to build that edifice and the temple "rising from the ashes" as the building had previously been burned by fire. It was a spiritual feast. All of the congregations in Utah were able to participate in the temple dedication. There were no other meetings scheduled during that Sunday. Even sacrament meeting, our most sacred weekly ordinance was suspended one week for the temple dedication. Everything in the temple leads us to a greater understanding of Jesus. Elder Oaks of the quorum of the twelve apostles gave the dedicatory prayer. The spirit was abundant.   The words at times sounded as if "they were the sounds of the rushing of great waters." God was present. I love the 150 temples of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. 

March 27th was Easter Sunday. For the 3 weeks leading up to Easter, our mission shared the #hallelujah video - find new life. The video enlightened our minds about the real expanse of the Saviors atonement that can save us from our sins, save us from death and bind our families with us together for eternity. There will not be a "sting of death" because the Savior has overcome it. We hid eggs and Easter baskets, we played games and we listened to scriptures about Jesus. It was a great family day.  

Last week was the 186th General conference of our church. We listened to Apostles and Prophets speak about how to be better husbands and fathers. How to hold family councils. How to understand the purpose of our lives, where we came from, why we are here and where are we going after this life. We learned how to be more humble, obedient, strong and powerful. We learned how to tackle adversity not by asking why me? Rather, what can I learn, who can I help? How can I trust more deeply? We learned that we need to love and find ways to serve the 60 million refugees in this world. That Jesus commission to "love they neighbor as thyself" is a commandment very much still in force. Jesus lives! He sacrificed to help us. We love and miss you all! 

Sunday, 28 February 2016

God is Love

I remember a phrase uttered by a brother at a church meeting in Toledo Ohio in 1993. He was praying and he prayed for "an increased capacity to love." It was the first time I ever heard that phrase. It impressed me enough that I have never forgotten it and I have since said it many times in prayer. 

1 John 4 
"7 Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God.
8 He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love."

If our Heavenly Father and Savior Jesus Christ are the very embodiment of love, should not we invite more love into our lives? 

I've reflected on love a lot this month. Isn't it after all the month of cupids and cherubs? We had a fairly uneventful Valentines Day. A sweet sister provided sugar cookies for our family and all of the missionaries. Sister Jaggi and I took a few hours on the missionaries preparation day that week and skied together, enjoying the mountain air and a brief solace from a hectic pace. I love my bride. She is an amazing woman...resilient, strong, faithful, musical, spiritual and yes, loving. She left behind her beautiful new home, wonderful neighbors and friends, her music children and their families to serve an unexpected 3 year mission. There is no doubt that we are learning to love more fully and deeply here. We love the missionaries, the people, the work of the Lord, the changes taking place in our family. Because of our experience, I'm left pondering the following....Is learning to love like God loves commensurate with increased sacrifice? 

It's been a few days since I began this blog post. The intermediate hymn of the Ogden Stake Conference was also from the Book of John. Read these wonderful words. 
"As I have loved you, love one another. By this shall men know, ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another." It is not a coincidence that as I've been pondering the importance of love, that the song epitomizing love is sung. God is in the details  of our lives. There is no such thing as happenstance...we are in our circles of friends, in our neighborhoods and churches for a purpose. God has placed us together at this time to learn from one another and to love one another. 

So how can we love more fully? When we align our will with the Lords and become "one" we understand what he wants for us and our love deepens for our fellow men and women. I find it interesting that the first words Jesus declares after he introduces himself to the people in the ancient Americas after they had waited for Him for thousands of years are the following in 3 Nephi 11 in the Book of Mormon, another Testament of Jesus Christ...

"11 And behold, I am the light and the life of the world; and I have drunk out of that bitter cup which the Father hath given me, and have glorified the Father in taking upon me the sins of the world, in the which I have suffered the will of the Father in all things from the beginning." 

Jesus immediately aligns himself with His father. He drunk of the cup which the Father had given him, he glorified the Father, he suffered the will of the Father. Later in verse 27, he declares that He and the Father and the Holy Ghost are one. If Jesus, who is the embodiment of perfect love declares He is doing His Fathers will, oh how much more need have we to do what our Savior and redeemer ask of us...commands us. When he was asked in Matthew 22 
"36 Master, which is the great commandment in the law?
37 Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt alove the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.
38 This is the first and great commandment.
39 And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.
40 On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets."

We can, we must love one another better. I love my wife. I love my wonderful children. The blessings of missionary service are certainly being made manifest in our lives. Some of those blessings are simple. Mackenzie was accepted to BYU, Emma passed her drivers license test on the first try. They both were asked to Prom last week. Josh scored 17 points in a basketball game and Eliza got straight A's on her report card. They recognize the blessings and I love them for that. 

I love the missionaries of the Church. We say goodbye to another group of missionaries this week. With each group that leaves, a piece of our hearts go with them. I am amazed at how much love I have for these young men and women. It is a fierce love, a deep love and an abiding love. 

May we all pray for and apply an increased capacity to love. 

Sunday, 21 February 2016

Apostles and Prophets of Jesus Christ

Ephesians 4:11 And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers;

12 For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ:

13 Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ:

We were privileged to spend time with A member of the quorum of the Twelve Apostles last Saturday.  This apostle grew up in Cache Valley, (Logan) Utah. He served a mission to Japan as a young man and was called to preside over the Nagoya Japan Mission from 2005-2008. He was called to the first quorum of seventy at age 53 after returning home from his mission, thus dedicating the next 17 years (seventies receive emeritus status at age seventy) of his life to God. However, at age 60, last October after serving in the church as the presiding Bishop for 3 years, he was called as an apostle, a lifelong calling. 

Before our morning meetings started, The apostle was getting acquainted with a stake president and some of the brothers in the small room when he asked me, "are you a part of the Jaggi family from Logan?" I said that I was, however my grandfather moved from Cache Valley to Salt Lake City after World War 2. He asked who my grandfather was, and I said Stanley Jaggi. He didn't know a Stanley, but he said the following... And I'm paraphrasing and praying to capture the essence of what this wonderful apostle said so you can feel what he feels about the Jaggi family and by extension, all of your families. He said that for about 10 years, what he considered the most formidable time in his life, Brother Jaggi and Brother Schmidt came to his home.  He was probably about 6 when He first remembered their visit. He said they were older High Priests with gray hair and thick Swiss accents. They seemed like heavenly beings to him at the time. They were faithful and came every month. They brought a spirit of power, authority and love. They served his family by helping in the yard or with house projects. He said he wished he had the information and understanding of the gospel that he has now, because he remembers "being taught" by Brother Jaggi. He remembers the feeling more than anything. As he spoke, I felt our progenitors near. The spirit bore witness as he spoke of the sweetness and joy the gospel brought to the Gottfried Jaggi (my great grandfather) family. I cried with appreciation and told the apostle, "Thank you." He said the Gunnell family was also valiant and he remembers one of the Jaggi's marrying a Gunnell and he couldn't think of a more celestial union in all the world. He said "there aren't any better families anywhere." 

As I look at our family tree and timing, (This apostle was 6 in 1961) he had to be referencing the great patriarch of our family, Grandpa Gottfried who was in his 70's at the time. Thinking of great grandpa on an apostles couch makes my heart soar. 

Why am I so grateful for this experience? My family was not a "pioneer" family. My grandfather Stanley was a beer-drinking, chain-smoking, tattooed covered World War 2 veteran. I didn't know till later in life that my father, who is now a very faithful man had his "epiphany" moment sitting in the back of a police car with 2 broken hands. Then and there he decided that there had to be something better in life than stealing, fighting and cars. He walked into an LDS church the next week. His bishop befriended him and he was on a mission in Africa 2 years later. 

How grateful I am to be the son of Robert and Judy Jaggi, the brother of Mark and Elizabeth, Kelli and Matt, Tim and Liz, Chad and Stephanie and Kristen. How grateful I am to be the husband to Amy Anne Stewart. Our ancestors made great sacrifices for the Gospel of Jesus Christ, but the blessings our immediate and extended families have realized have been "an hundredfold." May God continue to bless my family and the families of the missionaries of the Utah Ogden Mission as we journey on the strait and narrow path which leads to eternal life. 

The missionaries of the church are in the right place at the right time doing the right things. The  graphic below represents how a missionary facilitates the reception of the Holy Ghost by their investigators. They cannot push the Holy Ghost or the message of the restoration to anyone, they just create an environment where the spirit may come and teach. This was given to us by a general authority. I love their simple practical teaching. 

Saturday, 30 January 2016

Weeks 29-30 in The Utah Ogden Mission


  1. 1. I have a fam'ly here on earth.
    They are so good to me.
    I want to share my life with them through all eternity.
    2. While I am in my early years,
    I'll prepare most carefully,
    So I can marry in God's temple for eternity.

  2. Chorus
    Fam'lies can be together forever
    Through Heav'nly Father's plan.
    I always want to be with my own family,
    And the Lord has shown me how I can.
    The Lord has shown me how I can.

    I love this song we sing with our children. Though most marriage ceremonies say "till death do you part" God has provided a way for us to be sealed for time and all eternity in one of His Holy Temples. I am grateful for His mercy and love for all of us to have that opportunity. 

    Serving a full time mission with our family is a unique experience. We still carry on with family and individual activities but with a spirit of the work of God always a part of us. The work and the mission never stops, but our children are growing and flourishing in Utah. 

    Mackenzie is busy as a senior at Bonneville High School in South Ogden. She spent the entirety of December singing with the small group choir Tapestry. She has even learned how to dance as they are more of a theatrical small choir. She is getting straight A's taking Utah required classes like computer literacy, financial literacy and nutrition alongside her English and Mathematics classes. She applied to Brigham Young University Idaho and Provo. She is getting to be a great skier as we spend almost every Saturday morning on our "day off" (Friday at 4pm - Saturday at 4pm) on the slopes of Snowbasin. She is finishing writing the fantasy novel she started when she was 12. She is applying for scholarships. She and a few friends love shopping at thrift stores and going to Cafe Rio for lunch. We love her and are so grateful her senior year is going well. 

    Emma is a cross country athlete. She loves running and she loves the boys (especially the seniors) that run everyday after school. She is counting down the days till she turns 16 (53 days) so she can go on a date and drive. We are cheering for her opportunity to drive but not so much to date. She is doing great in school, passed drivers ed and will be performing in the upcoming school musical, Mary Poppins. She thinks the missionaries are cool. 

    Joshua turned 11 a few weeks ago. He will receive his webelos and arrow of light awards next week. That was tough to finish. We crammed. He is doing gymnastics twice a week and playing basketball twice a week. His passion right now is his freshwater fish and tank he received for Christmas. He watches them and takes notes on their interactions. Yesterday he brought home an eel. Yuck. He loves playing Star Wars battlefront with dad as well as watching Ute basketball games. 

    Eliza said yesterday, "do you know one of our missionaries is getting married?" She feels a real connection to them like they are her siblings. She loves the snow, especially sledding and skiing at Snowbasin. She will share a scripture or a song at a fireside that brings the spirit to the meeting quickly. She is genuinely kind, caring and compassionate. We meet people from all walks of life and she doesn't judge. She loves like Jesus loves. 

Weeks 27-28 The Utah Ogden Mission

A stake president and his counselors were released this past Sunday. A stake is a collective group of 6-12 congregations of 300-400 people or "wards." Our mission covers 59 stakes and 387 wards. Stakes have been discussed since the earliest days of the bible. Isaiah 54: "Enlarge the place of thy tent, and let them stretch forth the curtains of thine habitations: spare not, lengthen thy cords, and strengthen thy stakes;" 

As I consider the transition that took place I am amazed at the Lords succession plans. There is no campaigning, no politicking, no negotiation or favors. Mans ways are not Gods ways. A letter is issued by the first presidency indicating a change will take place. They choose two men who are in the quorum of the seventy to go to the stake and interview between twenty and thirty men. The quorum of seventy has also been a part of the Church since its earliest days. Numbers 11:24 "And Moses went out, and told the people the words of the Lord, and gathered the seventy men of the elders of the people, and set them round about the tabernacle. 25 And the Lord came down in a cloud, and spake unto him, and took of the spirit that was upon him, and gave it unto the seventy elders: and it came to pass, that, when the spirit rested upon them, they prophesied, and did not cease." The key phrase is "...the spirit rested upon them, and they prophesied." 

Through the keys delegated by the president of the quorum of the twelve apostles, these two seventies choose, through the spirit of prophecy and revelation, a new stake president, who within hours chooses two counselors who are also called. They don't review a resume or pedigree. They interview the person for about 10 minutes and follow the promptings of the spirit. In the most recent case, an elderly gentleman was released and a young man with a young family was called. The transition was completed within a day. The 3000 people that they lead ratified the decision by raising their hands in ascent and approval of the choice. D&C 26:2  "And all things shall be done by common consent in the church, by much prayer and faith, for all things you shall receive by faith. Amen." And now it is done, and the work moves forward with average men and women who do their best and the Lord qualifies their work. 

After they were called, these brethren and their wives shared their love of God through testimony. I was impressed with their humility. They didn't choose this. No doubt they would rather spend more time at home. They will work for the next 10 years furthering the work of God through their service. There is no compensation for their 30-40 hours of service each week. They work and serve above and beyond their current vocation. One of the brothers is a software engineer, another a physician and the last a plumber. 

Every member of the LDS church is "called to serve" in some capacity as a volunteer in the church. Some serve the toddlers in the nursery, others as Sunday school teachers, others as shepherds of young men and women or adult men and women. Sisters serve in the relief society and various councils in the church. The Relief Society is one of the oldest women's organizations in the United States. These volunteers receive no compensation but serve with all their "heart, might, mind and strength." I am amazed at the capacity of these good brothers and sisters to serve. They do so because they believe in Jesus Christ, the son of God. We love serving Him as well.  He Lives! 


Tuesday, 5 January 2016

Weeks 22-26 in the Utah Ogden Mission

As I interviewed 7 departing missionaries the first week of December  I found the direction of their questions and my responses going naturally to relationships and the goal each of them had to develop healthy relationships and be married to someone for time and all eternity in one of God's Holy Temples. 

I believe one of the challenges of a lifetime is to develop healthy relationships that are built upon a foundation of unconditional love and selflessness. Of course selfishness is the antithesis to love and the primary root of unhealthy relationships, divorce, conflict in the world and many other self-inflicted difficulties in life. 

Jesus taught in Matthew 5:43 ¶Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy.

44 But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you;

45 That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust." 

Jesus challenge to us then is to love like he does. How does He love? What is His love? Moroni, the great last Nephites prophet in the Book of Mormon wrote in Moroni 7 taught...

"45 And charity suffereth long, and is kind, and envieth not, and is not puffed up, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil, and rejoiceth not in iniquity but rejoiceth in the truth, beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things.

46 Wherefore, my beloved brethren, if ye have not charity, ye are nothing, for charity never faileth. Wherefore, cleave unto charity, which is the greatest of all, for all things must fail--

47 But charity is the pure love of Christ, and it endureth forever; and whoso is found possessed of it at the last day, it shall be well with him." 

Many young missionaries come to the mission field  and don't understand how to communicate their feelings or to build healthy relationships through love. They have spent an abundance of their pre-mission lives in media. The artificial entertainment that comes when too much time is spent on Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, Xbox, PlayStation, television or movies creates a void of personal love that is difficult to fill without significant practice. They practice here in the mission field. 

As the young missionaries come to understand who Jesus is and how to feel of his love, they convey that same love to others.

 One of my favorite books that Amy and I read early in our marriage that helped us to communicate and love in a more selfless way was Gary Chapmans, The Five Love Languages. He gives practical advice to those who want to love more deeply. Based on years of research he categorizes the way we like to be loved into five languages. 
Receiving gifts 
Physical touch
Words of affirmation 
Quality time
Acts of service 

God bless you if you are in a relationship with one who's language is "receiving gifts." ;)
I have learned that Amy is receptive to words of affirmation and feels more loved when I offer those words freely. What is your language? I'm grateful for simple and 
practical guides, books, articles etc. 

The week before Christmas, Sister Jaggi and I gave a gift to the missionaries that we received many years ago...A Book of Mormon Read-A-Thon. We personalized a hard copy of the Book of Mormon with a picture of the Ogden temple in the front. We gave them 5 highlighters. One for each of the principles in the missionary purpose. "My purpose is to invite others to come unto Christ, by helping them receive the restored gospel through faith in Jesus Christ and His atonement, repentance, baptism, receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost and enduring to the end." And we read... We started at 8:00am and read till 9:00pm one day...we started at 8:00am and read till 5:00pm the next day, missing only the book of Ether along the way. 33 hours of intense reading, pondering and praying. We were uplifted and edified and we rejoice together in the knowledge that God loves all of His children. God had prophets in the Jerusalem area and they wrote books in the bible. God also had prophets in the Americas anciently and they wrote books in the Book of Mormon. What a blessing to know God is the same yesterday, today and forever. We testify He is real and He lives! 

Christmas time on a mission is wonderful. We were far less focused on ourselves and more focused on the Savior, His birth and what He has done for so many. We were also focused on our missionaries. More than half of them had never been away from home for Christmas. For some it was hard, for most it was sacred. Time spent in the service of our fellowmen and women, teaching what Jesus taught is precious. About 40 of our missionaries received very little for Christmas from home, especially those who came from foreign lands. We were blessed by local Utah members who provided anonymous gifts and gift cards for our indigent missionaries. The Saints in Utah provide so much to our missionaries as well as to the rest if the world. My eyes have been opened to their charity and love. I'm stunned when I contemplate their contribution to the growth of the church in every way. The Members here in Ogden are so committed, hard-working and humble. We truly love them. 

Happy new year to our friends and family. If you are ready for change, embrace and set simple goals. We use the SIMPS model. Goals that are 
All our missionaries wrote their SIMPS goals to me yesterday. Moms and Dad's...ask them about their goals. 

We love you.