Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Mourning with those that mourn

We were startled to see the news a few days ago that Jon Schmidt's daughter was missing in the Columbia River Gorge.  We've loved Jon and the rest of the Piano Guys for years now and this was so sad for all of us.  For a couple of days there was a big search and rescue operation with planes and drones and dogs, but nothing was found.  Two days ago her mother announced that they thought she must be dead. (She had been missing a week at that point, a week with lots of rain and cold night temperatures.) The official search was called off but now an unofficial search is looking for her body. 

Yesterday I happened to get an email from someone who knew someone who was collecting food donations to take to the search location.  I often wish I could help when there is a tragedy, esp when it touches someone I know or admire.  This seemed like a great opportunity and we had just a few hours available to do something for family night last night. 

First I forwarded the email to the women in my ward to see if anyone else would want to contribute.  Then Russ, Rachel, and I started cooking while Jenna and Jared did homework.  Russ made a batch of homemade wheat bread.  Rachel made a batch of chocolate chip cookies and a batch of my recent favorite, chocolate chocolate chip cookies.  I made a triple recipe of chili to cook overnight in the crock pot.  We worked for several hours while women in our ward also came and dropped things off. 

In the end no one will ever know what we did.  But what matters to me is that we know.  We know that there was a real need--their need to have supplies and our need to show love.  I feel great about having taken time out to do something for them.

[I've had this glass gallon jar sitting around the house for a long time.  I used to use it for sugar but we sized up to bigger containers (so many cookies being made!!) and didn't need it.  I couldn't just get rid of it because my parents used to use this jar to get milk when they got milk from a local dairy.  (Back when my dad used to say that they drank skim milk because they skimmed the cream of the top!) The chili was still really hot when it was time to take it and so my idea for transport wouldn't work.  Then I thought of mom's gallon glass jar and it seemed the perfect use.  💙]

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Jenna's sacrament meeting talk

"How can connecting with past generations help me understand my mission in life today?"

So many of my ancestors have been great examples in my life, and I can learn a lot through stories that I’ve heard about them.
Like a lot of members of the church, I have pioneer ancestors. One of my pioneer ancestors is known in my family as handcart Mary. I recently read her short autobiography and felt that I had come to learn so much more about her. Her real name is Mary Ann Powell, and she was born in South Wales in the year 1844. She was a pioneer who joined the church because of her parents. Her father first become interested in the church through a neighbor who had the Book of Mormon and the Doctrine and Covenants. In her autobiography, Mary tells the story of how one Sunday when she was six years old, her father said that he had to go to an appointment in the village, and nobody knew where he was going. When he finally came back his hair was wet, and he said that he had just been baptized in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter day Saints. She said that this news was very shocking to her mother, who was a devout methodist, and that there was a lot of crying and scolding from relatives that were visiting them. When their relatives left, her mother tried to get him to see the “error” of his ways, and begged her father to relinquish his membership of the church. However, Mary and her brother were impressed by their father and told their mother "Never mind, mother. We´ll tend the baby while you go and get baptized as father did."  At the time her mother was annoyed by this, but later she was taught about the gospel and was baptized within six weeks. Mary stated that she “[and her brother] tended the baby just as [they] said [they] would in the first place.”

Joining the church led her family to want to go to Utah, which led them to sail to America, and eventually cross the plains as part of a pioneer handcart company. Their journey as part of a handcart company was very hard. They would get up at day break each day, have prayer, eat a small breakfast, then start on their way.
At ten they’d have a half hour break, and then would travel again until they reached water. Mary wrote that most nights they wouldn’t eat dinner because they were all too tired, or simply didn’t have enough food to cook. She also wrote that some days they’d travel more than thirty miles to reach water. Through all their trials however, they pushed on and made it to Salt Lake City. In her autobiography, Mary wrote that her and her father would take turns pulling one of their handcarts. She stated “when I was not pulling father’s cart I was helping to pull someone else’s. I walked every step of the way. I was lighthearted and glad and had no self pity.”

In 3rd Nephi, chapter 15, verse 9, it states “Behold, I am the law, and the light. Look unto me, and endure to the end, and ye shall live; for unto him that endureth to the end will I give eternal life.” Mary Powell, and all pioneers, are great examples of people who look unto Christ and endure to the end. Because of their desire to reach Zion they pushed through their hardships and trials to get there. What I have learned from Mary’s story is that even if I’m going through a hard time that, like Mary who endured through that hard journey to reach her goal, I can push through my hard times so that I can reach my goals.
Another ancestor of mine is my grandma Cindy, who died before I was born. In her own way, she was a pioneer too. She grew up in South Carolina, and her family was very poor. When she was a teenager her mom died, and because of that she felt that she had to be responsible for her younger siblings. When her younger brother started taking discussions from the missionaries, she worried about what they might be teaching him, and so decided to go to one of the discussions. Well, she ended up listening to them, and she and her brother became the only members of the church in her family.
A couple of years later she was attending BYU and was feeling very homesick. She wanted to go back home for Christmas break, but only had enough money to either pay for a bus ticket home, or to pay tithing. Not sure of what to do, she went to her bishop for help.
He told her that he couldn’t give her any advice, because whether or not she paid tithing was between her and Heavenly Father. So she paid tithing, despite how badly she wanted to go home to her family.
A few days later, she received a letter from her aunt in the mail. In it her aunt said that she had saved some money and had sent it to her with hopes that it would help pay for her to go to South Carolina for Christmas. She had sent fifty dollars, which my grandma was very thankful for, but wasn’t enough for a bus ticket. Eventually she thought to check the BYU ride board to see if there was anyone going to South Carolina. She found that there was someone going from BYU to South Carolina, and that they were offering a ride to anyone for fifty dollars. That person who offered the ride is my grandpa.
Doctrine and Covenants, section 104, verse 42 states: “And inasmuch as he is faithful in keeping my commandments, which I have given unto him, I will multiply blessings upon him and his seed after him, even a multiplicity of blessings.”That decision my grandma made to pay her tithing not only blessed her, but has blessed my mom as her daughter, and even me as her granddaughter. My grandma’s great example of obedience has taught me about the wonderful blessings we can earn from keeping God’s commandments, and helps me to know that I can receive blessings if I follow the commandments that Heavenly Father has given us.

When I think about my ancestors, both my grandma cindy, and my 3rd great grandmother handcart Mary, I can remember their great examples of following the commandments and enduring to the end. They help me keep holding on to my mission in life, to follow God’s commandments and endure through the world's challenges and trials, so that I can be resurrected and live with God again.
I’d like to bear my testimony that I know that we can receive blessing if we keep God’s commandments and if we endure. I know that the gospel is true, and that Heavenly Father wants us all to be able to return to live with him again.
I say these things in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.



Friday, October 7, 2016

My Free Cell life

For the last couple of weeks my spare moment game has been Free Cell.  You know, the solitaire game that you played on your computer back in the early days of Windows?  That one.  I used to play a word boggle game and tell myself that I was keeping my brain sharp by playing it.  (Brains that have experienced mild traumatic brain injury might need to be exercised more.) This year, though, I grew tired of that game and started playing this one once or twice a day. 

At first I could always solve the game and send the cards automatically to their decks on top.  But then I hit one that I couldn't solve.  I could have gone on to a new deal, but instead I told the game to replay the deal and I tried it again.  And that time I figured it out.  Every now and then I have to replay a game now, and a couple of times I've had to replay one 5 or 6 times.  Eventually I've gotten it, started on a different side and worked a different way and then it finally works.

It strikes me that this is like life.  Some things don't have to be totally specific, they can go however you want them.  But some things have to be more precise, and so you have to try again and again until you get them right.  Sometimes things don't work out right and you just need the replay button, a step back to examine another way to handle a difficult problem.  When I'm playing Free Cell I don't get upset when I have to hit the replay button, I actually become more interested in the game, curious to see if I can see a new way to do it the next time.

I think I'm going to try to see if I can think of my life a little more as if it were a free cell game--less stress when I don't manage to do something the way I wanted to, more curiosity about the opportunity to try it again.  Who knows--the game could be good for my brain and my life as well.