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Several weeks ago, a member of the stake presidency asked for input about having a special stake fast for moisture. The area where we live has been in a drought for a few years. Interestingly, not long after this discussion, the severity of the drought was highlighted in local news.
In addition to fasting, a suggestion was made that we teach the doctrines associated with the land. Specifically, for our sabbath day observance, the Lord promises the blessing of rain (see Leviticus 26). Also, we are promised that our obedience to the law of tithing will open the windows of heaven and that the devourer will be rebuked and the fruit of the land will be spared. By focusing our efforts on improving sabbath day observance and paying a full tithe, we would be entitled to the promised blessings.
I have participated before in group fasts when family or ward members had special needs. These were always positive experiences. I believe in the power of uniting our faith and prayers and fasting for a common cause. Still, for the drought, I questioned in my mind how effective a fast of a few hundred people in a relatively small geographical area would be in reversing a drought that affects most if not all of the state and probably multiple states.
Our stake’s fast for moisture was on Sunday, Jan. 26th. A few days later, a storm came through, and we were blessed with moisture. Farmers requested that people fast for moisture on Sunday, Feb. 2nd, and since then, we have had frequent rain, and more importantly, the mountains have received so much snow that avalanches are now a danger.
I am grateful that our stake leaders were inspired to hold a special fast. I am sure that many others in this area have been fasting and praying for the needed moisture. Although more rain and snow is needed in the next month or two, our prayers have been answered, weather patterns have changed, and we will have sufficient water for the coming year.
For several days, I’ve been wanting to write about Love, and what better day than Valentine’s Day? (Credit for the title goes to Howard Jones.) I will not attempt to define love but want to describe the outpouring of love that I have witnessed this past week and how that has changed me.
Since last week, my wife and our family have been overwhelmed with love. The first acts of love and kindness that I witnessed were friends and neighbors that came within hours of my father-in-law’s passing on to express condolences to my wife’s mother and family. That night, my son was about 45 miles away at college. Two friends stopped what they were doing to drive almost 100 miles round trip so that our son could be with his family.
The next day, after dealing with the funeral home and cemetery for several hours, my mother-in-law’s neighbor showed up with a crockpot of hot soup, bread, and cookies just as we returned to her house.
When we returned to our own home, a former bishop was there with hugs, flowers, and chocolate. Another neighbor brought a plant, and a good friend arrived later with rolls and stayed to visit with my wife. Someone else thoughtfully brought by lots of food that was leftover from a school event.
During the next few days, everywhere we were surrounded with love. Several people brought beautiful flowers and plants or had them delivered to our house. Messages of love and support poured in via text and social media.
A sister and her family drove a considerable distance to express their love by decorating our door with hand-cut hearts, each with encouraging words or adorably drawn pictures. The door decorating was repeated twice, once by a dear neighbor that enlisted the help of her family, and again by the beehives in the ward.
On the morning of the funeral, a visiting teacher arrived with dozens of rolls. A good family friend took half of her day to attend the funeral and cemetery with us. Another neighbor later brought homemade bread in a bag decorated with hearts. At church, a neighbor that had also lost his grandmother on the same day, expressed his sincere condolences and his love for our family. At the end of church, after a lesson about the plan of salvation, a prayer was offered for our family.
I don’t think that I have ever been the recipient of so much love from so many people. I can’t speak for others, but this outpouring of love sustained and energized me. This experience has given me a whole new perspective. I feel grateful. I feel more empathy for others and a greater desire to serve. I feel more apt to be kind.
I don’t know how else to describe it, but I feel changed and hope that this is only the beginning of such feelings.
Wow- I have not posted anything here in a long, long time. Whenever I do have ideas that I want to express, and I begin writing, one idea morphs to another, and before I know it, instead of a tidy little thought, I have a jumble of half-baked ideas, and I can’t quite muster the time or energy to concisely articulate what I sought out to say.
The last few days have been an emotional roller coaster. I want to record the experiences I have had, not necessarily for anyone else to read, but mostly for me to remember.
This past Wednesday, February 5th, at about 5:30pm, we were notified that my wife’s father had passed away. He was rehabilitating from knee replacement surgery and was recovering well. He was in good health for a 75 year old, and we were all shocked by the news. Rather than going through all of the events that transpired, I want to focus this post on my memories of my father-in-law. In a later post I hope to describe the outpouring of love that I have witnessed and how this has changed me.
My father-in-law was a kind, generous man. From the first time that I met him, he made me feel welcome and comfortable in his home and always treated me as part of the family. When I married his daughter, he insisted on giving us a vehicle to use, and I believe we are currently using the fourth vehicle that he either gave us or sold to us for a nominal price. He has done the same for his other daughters. When we purchased our first home, without our asking, he loaned us money to increase our down payment. He took my family to Disneyland more times than I can count, and he always repaid us for much more than his share of the expenses. Whenever we visited his home, we could not leave without him offering us a treat and making sure that my children had their favorite beverages. He often sent me home with rhubarb, peaches, or tomatoes from his garden.
Perhaps his greatest gift to us was his unique personality, which I don’t think I could ever quite adequately describe. He loved to record things, and kept a daily record of the high and low temperatures, rainfall, and probably other details that I am missing. He recorded the size and weight of different kinds of tomatoes that he grew. On our trips, he would record the time that we left, the time of each stop, the temperature, what we spent on food, and the gas mileage. He knew the exact the number of miles from Lehi to Anaheim, where to stop along the way, etc. He had nicknames for cars, people, and buildings. His level of frugality rivaled my own. Even though he had brand new slippers, he would wear old ones, held together by duct tape.
He was a fun, interesting man and will be truly missed.