May 23-June 29, 2014

We are still working with the many inactive families.  Even if we get them to come out it is very hard to keep them attending.  We now have about ten young people in our class each week--but had twelve last Sunday.

We have been working with a family with four children who should all be attending our class.  The parents are separated and the wife, who lives in our ward, now has the kids on the weekends.  When we drop by to see her during the week we beg her to encourage them to come to church.  On the weekend one boy, a twin,  seemed interested but the mother gave him no encouragement--she is so passive. We offered to pick them up, as she works Sunday mornings, but we as yet have received no phone calls from her requesting that we pick them up.  We do pick up some people and take them home just to get them to church.  We know now how smart it was to bring the van.

We are still working with several inactive families the Bishopric has asked us to contact.  They do not have kids in our class.  They seem to enjoy our visits, are very friendly but it's slow going to get them to come out.

Paul, on occasion, has been asked to help the Elders teach an investigator who is quite skilled in his knowledge of the Bible.  He is often asked by the missionaries to help them with difficult or unusual questions.  On June 19th we had our district over to the apartment for breakfast and a question/answer session with Paul.  They wanted to know more about how the Book of Mormon was translated,  about the temple,  about Emma, about Joseph Smith and the Masons, etc.  We are amazed at how sharp these missionaries are and how skilled they are in working with people.

The missionaries  thoroughly  know and use the "Preach My Gospel" manuel.  (Hint:  It is a great tool for FHE with the grandchildren.)  We do a lot of role-playing in our zone and district meetings and we are so impressed with how well the young people express themselves. (That is another suggestion for FHE--role play).   They are taught to talk to everyone,  to have 10 meaningful conversations with people everyday, to invite everyone to pray, to read the Book of Mormon,  to come to church, and to be baptized,

On Memorial Day we took a picnic lunch and went sight-seeing.  We wanted to go to Donner  State Park, where the Donner party was stranded with twenty-two feet of snow on the ground in the top of the Sierra Nevada Mountains and where many died.  We went to the visitor center and watched a video--Brandon, they could have used your expertise.  It SORELY needs an update. Then we took a nature hike to one of the cabin sites.  We then drove to Donner Lake--a lake much smaller than Lake Tahoe and very beautiful.  There were many parks, picnic areas, boat docks and a swimming resort.  It was inhabited by many large lake side homes--we guessed summer homes, as it would be very difficult to get to them mid winter.  There was a lot of activity on the water and in the picnic areas but these pictures don't indicate that.

Gail was asked to work in the mission office one day substituting for the secretary who was sick.  She answered phones, took referrals, forwarded mail, and worked on the Area Book, a book each companionship has of their mission details.  It passes on to the next set of missionaries as transfers occur but in our case it will go to the ward when we leave after a year, unless a couple replaces us.

We had all the local missionaries for dinner one night and the next day we both got very sick.  Gail just knew we had given all the missionaries food poisoning.  But, come to find out,  we had a little stomach flu and was better a few days later.  Paul missed a presentation he was to do in a Zone Conference Training Meeting. (In talking to the missionaries later, none of them got sick, thank goodness.)

We took our Sunday School youth to the Temple again for baptisms June 11th.  Only five of our girls attended this time.  We were assigned with another ward who had boys there, so Gail got all 29 male and 40 female ordinances completed.  Because many of the youth and the Priesthood were Hispanic many of the ordinances were done in Spanish.

Tendra O'Mealy, Rylie Solorio, Monica Perez, Perla Perez, Anna Lui

Geri and Ennis Gibbs came to see us last weekend.  They were in California for Ennis' daughter's wedding and stopped by on their way home.  We invited them to spend the night so we could enjoy a good long visit and catch up on everything.  We were planning to take a new convert to an Investigator/New Convert Fireside Sunday night so Gail and Geri went to the fireside with Barbara Summers and Paul and Ennis stayed home to talk.  Elder Tiaou was at the fireside and met Geri.  He and his family are from New Caledonia and knows Eva and Mike Syphus who served a mission there.   He has just been made an Assistant to the President.

Elder and Sister Huff, a couples from New Mexico completed their mission and left to go home.  We all got together for a bar-b-q at their home in Washoe Valley.  That leaves the mission with four couples total, that are not locals.   We are, however, getting two more couples this summer--one is Tongan speaking, requested by the mission president to serve in the Tongan Branch.

Back: Smiths,  Smedleys
Middle: Huffs, Zappes, Hermansens
We help out a lot in the ward.  Paul plays the piano each Sunday for the opening exercises of priesthood meeting.  Gail directs Relief Society music. ( On Fathers Day we did the Primary Music and the young people sang in Sacrament Meeting too). Today we also did the 5th Sunday presentation for Relief Society and Priesthood.  The Bishop suggested we encourage the older couples to go on missions so we talked about our mission and tried to inspire them to go.  We also taught our SS class. Later today Paul will give a presentation to the youth who just got back from pulling handcarts in another ward.  He is talking on the Martyrdom, our time at Nauvoo and walking to Carthage and is telling a good story about two boys that were spies for the Prophet Joseph.  The boys attended meetings where the mobs were planning to kill the prophet

Paul's presentation to the handcart youth is entitled: High Adventure in Nauvoo!

Paul pointed out that just as the Savior knew that He would sacrifice His life on the cross in Jerusalem, Joseph Smith likewise knew that he would die as a martyr at Cartage Jail, but not before his mission was complete.  Joseph of Egypt said: "Behold, that seer (Joseph Smith) will the Lord bless; and they that seek to destroy him shall be confounded"(2 Nephi 3:14)  that is, until June 27th, 1844.

Friday the 27th of June was the 170th anniversary of the assassinations of Joseph and Hyrum.  There is a remarkable story associated with that event.  Early in 1844, some of Joseph's best friends turned on him and created a secret organization with the goal of taking the Prophet's life.

Austin Cowles, one of the leaders, was a neighbor to Emer Harris and his family.  Emer was a brother of Martin Harris, and a very faithful man.   One day, Austin approached Emer's son Dennison, age 19, and asked if he would attend a meeting next Sunday.  He was to tell no one of the meeting.  Austin failed to mention its purpose.

After Cowles left, Robert Scott, one of Dennison's best friends, came by and both sat together on a woodpile.  They had known one another for years.  They decided to trade secrets.  They were surprised that both had received invitations to the same meeting.  Something didn't seem right, so they went to Emer Harris and shared their story with him.

Emer immediately went to the Prophet Joseph and explained all he knew.  Joseph counseled Emer to have nothing to do with the meeting, but he wanted Dennison and Robert to attend.  Before they went, however, they were to received his counsel.

The next Sunday, shortly before the meeting was to begin, Joseph told the boys to listen very carefully, say nothing, and report back to him.

The meeting was held at the home of William Law, once one of Joseph's counselors and now an enemy.  The boys recognized many people in attendance.  Most of the meeting was taken up with people venting their anger against the Prophet.  Many lies were spoken.

The meeting ended with the announcement that another meeting would be held the following Sunday. Joseph listened with great interest as the boys gave their report and identified those present.  Joseph counseled them to attend the second meeting.

During the second meeting, many more people were in attendance.  Once more the air was filled with lies and accusations against not only Joseph but his brother Hyrum as well. Some planning began to take place as to how they were going to kill the brothers.

When Robert and Dennison reported to Joseph, he counseled them to attend the third meeting.  He said that it would be the last meeting they would hold.  During that meeting they would agree regarding their plans.  He warned the young men not to make any agreements of any kind.

Joseph told the boys that they might be killed.  He said it was unlikely, since they were young, but the possibility was there.  If so, he told them to die like men, and they would be crowned in heaven.

As the boys approached the Law home, they were surprised to find armed guards at the door.  They brandished muskets and swords.  After being carefully frisked, they were allowed to enter.

There was a great deal of confusion as to exactly how Joseph and Hyrum were to be killed.  Some of the men came to realize that for three meetings, Dennison and Robert had said nothing  William Law put his arm around Robert Scott, since Robert had spent some years with the family and was practically a foster son.  Austin Cowles did the same to Dennison Harris.  But the boys said that they didn't understand the arguments and plans and they personally had nothing against the Prophet Joseph.

The meeting continued.  Then it was announced that an oath would be administered to each person.  Francis Higbee, a justice of the peace, sat at one end of the room.  Each person was to step forward. hold a Bible in his left hand, and raise his right hand to the square.  Once the oath was given, the individual signed his name next to a copy of the oath in a book.  Higbee countersigned as well.

Three mysterious, veiled woman likewise took the oath, one of them in tears as if she did not want to.

When it came time for the boys to sign, once again they explained that they didn't understand the charges, and that the Prophet had never done them harm.  "But you know all of our plans!  You've got to take that oath, or you'll never leave here alive!"  The boys calmly said that they would not take an oath against the Prophet Joseph.

Since William Law's home was near a street, it was decided to kill the boys in the cellar.  Suddenly someone called out, "Hold on!  Hold on!  Let's talk this matter over!  The boys' parents very likely know where they are, and if they do not return home, strong suspicions will be aroused, and they may begin a search that would be very dangerous to us.  It is already late, and time that the boys were home."

Everyone reluctantly agreed.  A strong guard escorted the boys from the home some distance away. They were repeatedly warned that should they say a word about the meetings, a member of the secret conspiracy would kill them.

As they neared the Mississippi River, one of the boys saw a hand appear and motion to them to come that way.  One of the boys then said, "Let's go down to the river!"  The guards agreed and left them. The hand belonged to the Prophet Joseph, who had concealed himself behind a riverbank.  He had become alarmed when the boys had not appeared to make their report.

They walked along the river to a secluded place where Robert and Dennisen gave their chilling report. The Prophet listened carefully and said, "O brethren, you do not know what the plot will lead to!" After a long silence, Joseph said, "Brethren, i am going to leave you.  I shall not be with you long; it will not be many months until I shall have to go."

In the rest of the presentation Paul shared some remarkable dreams given to the Prophet Joseph that provided strong evidence that his oppressors would eventually lose power and be punished for their sins.  He also received strong reassurance of a place in heaven for himself, his brother Hyrum, and for their brother Samuel.

Thanks for all you did for Gail's birthday and Father's Day.  We just went out to dinner and came home for cake and ice cream on Gail's day and a couple from the ward invited us for bar-b-q ribs on Fathers Day.  We're both a year older and certainly look it, but are trying to walk every day to stay moving. Dad's hip and knee ares doing great!

We love and miss you all.

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