I like to read excerpts from missionary blogs and show missionary youtube videos to my family as part of family scripture study. I want my kids to be connected to missionary work. Reading missionary blogs is an easy and persistent voice that helps. It used to be that when missionaries returned home they would do presentations about their mission. Those images and their mission stories had a subtle but profound affect on me. Since we don’t do that anymore in the church, I read to my kids from missionary blogs and show them the pictures instead. Recently I have settled onto a blog written by a gentle soul named Quinlan Hess, whose blog I ran into back when my wife noted to me that some of her facebook friends had kids with missionary blogs.
I read this excerpt from Sister Quinlan Hess’s blog to the family tonight along with scripture study.
“I bore my testimony too. Not sure why but I started crying at the pulpit. That never happens. I bore my testimony about families and how important they are. Namimiss ko talaga ung pamilya ko (I really miss my family) but I know that missionaries leave their families for a short time so other families can be together for eternity. I’m so grateful for the chance to serve and help other families. I love the people here so much and all i want for them is for them to be together with their families forever and experience the joy I experience through the gospel. I know that this is the true church on earth. Their isn’t a doubt in my mind. I know that the Gospel blesses families and we all need to share the Gospel with our families.
Alam ko na totoo ung simbahan ni Jesucristo. There isn’t a doubt in my mind. Everyday I testify to people and strive to help them return to Heavenly Father. Shall we not go on in so great a cause?
Thank you so much for all your prayers for me. I can feel them everyday. I love you all so much. Onward, Christian soldiers, Keep going and sharing the Gospel. The end is coming and we all need to be prepared. Kaya natin yen! (We can do it!)”
I then asked my kids what principally caught my attention in that excerpt. I think some of them knew immediately what I liked about it. One child rightly answered that it was the part “I really miss my family. But I know that missionaries leave their families for a short time so other families can be together for eternity.”
I feel like there is something profound in seeing the gospel and families not as separate things, but rather, when rightly seen, family is the gospel and the gospel is family. The gospel is about a divine Father having a divine Son. That is family. Procreation and marriage, and childbirth were the means to create our redemption, as Christ was begotten of his Father through a mortal mother Mary by the same powers through which mortal children are conceived. To die is to lose that body by which family ties were created. Resurrection is not about individuals, but about restoring those bodies by which our spirits were tied together into families, for it is by our bodies that a group of spirit are forged into mortal families. To separate the resurrection from the family is to misunderstand the resurrection completely. The gift of a body is the gift of family. When we gain a body, the point isn’t us as individuals gaining a body. When we gain a body, we gain a family. That is the point of a body. We gain parents and brother and sisters and grandparents and on back for all generations. Even those whose parents abandon them still gain ancestors who may watch over them. In gaining a body we gain the potential to create families that are all our own. The gospel is about a Father offering exaltation to his children. Exaltation is about having eternal marriage and eternal posterity. Where does the family end and the gospel begin in all this doctrine? You cannot separate them. They are the same thing looked at in different ways.
I did mention to the my kids the other things I liked about the missionary blog excerpt above. They are less profound: I am happy anytime I read a scripture being read like it means something about real life. Hence, I liked the reference to “Brethren, shall we not go forward in so great a cause? Forward and not backward”. Also, more particularly, I think the bit about families is too dead-on right not to be something spoken by the Holy Ghost, which makes me think that all the sentences that followed sprang from the same source and are therefore whole hearted sincerity.
It is all good stuff for potential missionaries. Which is, of course, all of us.
The bit about not generally crying at the pulpit is actually explained by Joseph Smith. Like most truth, it is a far cry from being politically correct (pun intended). But as I rarely have such a clear opportunity to point out his teaching, I will take advantage of this one.
Joseph Smith taught “This first Comforter or Holy Ghost has no other effect than pure intelligence. It is more powerful in expanding the mind, enlightening the understanding, and storing the intellect with present knowledge, of a man who is of the literal seed of Abraham, than one that is a Gentile, though it may not have half as much visible effect upon the body; for as the Holy Ghost falls upon one of the literal seed of Abraham, it is calm and serene; and his whole soul and body are only exercised by the pure spirit of intelligence; while the effect of the Holy Ghost upon a Gentile, is to purge out the old blood, and make him actually of the seed of Abraham. That man that has none of the blood of Abraham (naturally) must have a new creation by the Holy Ghost. In such a case, there may be more of a powerful effect upon the body, and visible to the eye, than upon an Israelite, while the Israelite at first might be far before the Gentile in pure intelligence.” (TPJS page 149-150)
When we watch general conference we generally see the Holy Ghost fall “calm and serene” upon the speakers. They have the literal blood of Abraham. (Here we go, the gospel and family turning out to be intimately related again). Those that don’t have the blood of Abraham naturally must have a new creation by the Holy Ghost, and so we see a more powerful effect upon the body, and visible to the eye”.
What sort of “effect upon the body, and visible to the eye”? Do these people sprout more facial hair? Suddenly gain bigger ears or more prominent eyebrows? No, nothing like that. The visible effect upon the body is most commonly just a lot of crying. That is why we see the Holy Ghost generally settle so calmly and serenely upon the twelve in general conference, but our fast and testimony meetings are frequently full of tears. Those who generally weep when the Holy Ghost is upon them are having the old blood purged out of them and being made actually of the seed of Abraham. They need a new creation by the Holy Ghost.
It is common knowledge in the church that when a gentile is baptized into the church they are adopted into the house of Israel. But Joseph Smith gives us additional insight. It isn’t an instantaneous affair, because it isn’t really adoption. It is to obtain a new creation by the Holy Ghost. It is not like being handed an adoption certificate. Instead, it is a process, as the old gentile blood must be purged out by the Holy Ghost, and we see the visible effects of that all the time.