How is that great city of Van Nuys? Glad you have been safe so far. We are praying daily for your safety and success.
This week has been a whirlwind for us. Our last letter came to you from Sparwood when we were down for Thanksgiving. We had just seen our house be put on the foundation the Thursday before and we were excited about the progress.
When we got home and started on the next steps (e.g. electrical) I made a visit to the home to meet the electrician and help him know where to put everything. When we were scoping out the place where the electrical would come into the house, we noticed that the house was not exactly lining up with the basement and came to realize that the basement wall on both sides of the house were bowing in from the pressure of the earth and house. That was quite alarming! After frantically calling the different contractors involved, we realized we had a problem and quickly dug out the back fill and started looking for answers. As often happens, things quickly became a finger pointing exercise about who was responsible and we felt quite a bit of concern and anxiety of the state of things.
At the same time, we had to take our van into the dealership to be serviced because it has had no power and has been choking when changing gears. Came to learn that it would cost $1600 to fix!
As I was pondering these trials and contemplating what actions I could take, I realized that though there were some things I could do and follow up with, we were not able to solve this ourselves. I felt a strong feeling that I needed to do something more to invoke the Lord's blessings upon our family and situation.
Interestingly enough, I was also preparing a talk for Sunday on the Law of the Fast. Ever since last Fast Sunday I have been pondering and feeling that my fasts have lately been half hearted and last minute affairs. As is often the case, it is in when we are feeling opposition, trials and concern that we find ourselves and our hearts crying out to the Lord for his tender mercies. I talked with your Mom and we decided to fast together starting Saturday at noon. I felt good about that and I felt a lot of comfort and power from what I was studying about the blessings of the Law of the Fast (e.g. Isaiah 58).
Wednesday I had to head out to a last minute customer visit to Spokane Washington, so when I got back on Friday, not much progress had been made on the house. After some hard conversations on the phone with the builder and foundation contractors, we kept praying and breathing :).
Saturday morning, the boys and I borrowed Cal Carlson's trailer and went to pick up the insulation for the in-floor heating and on the way there, had a couple of scary experiences with the trailer jumping off the hitch on the highway and riding on the chains. We finally figured out the way to lock in the ball, but it was some panicky moments as I contemplated the cost of the trailer we were pulling.We took the insulation to the acreage and Sam and Ben were a great help unloading. It is a blessing to me to have such helpful and willing sons.
When we arrived home, we went downstairs and Ben stepped in a puddle of water at the bottom of the stairs. We realized that there was flooding in the storage room! At first I thought it was due to the melting snow (yes, we already have a bunch of snow on the ground!), but soon realized that there was water flowing from somewhere. I shut off the main water valve and the boys and I "cheerfully" spent an hour mopping and wringing water with towels and buckets. We hauled out 25-30 gallons of water out of the basement. After a few tests we determined that our hot water tank had died. Can you just see the blessings flowing? :)
Thankfully, Bro. Mike Lawrence was available to come by and within the next 4 hours we had a new hot water tank! That was truly a blessing. We had to drain the water storage tank and tear the corner out of the little room under the stairs to make it work but it was worth it to have hot showers again.
Meanwhile, the washer stopped working and so we fell into bed exhausted and wondering why the world was crashing down around us even as we fasted for help.
Just before bed, we got a tender mercy with a phone call from Sunshine homes telling us that the contractors had agreed to come together and find a solution starting Monday morning. This gave us some relief and allowed us to feel a measure of calm and assurance that all things would eventually work together for our good.
Both Mom and I, though anxious, believe strongly in the promises of the Lord and trust that all these things will work together in the long run for our good.
Sunday was a wonderful break. I was able to give my talk and felt a lot of strength from that process and felt a strong spirit come into the meeting when Abby and Mia sang the song "Miracles" with Ben playing the piano.
So I'll end the epistle of our crazy week with my testimony that the Lord is over all and is watching over us. We are looking forward with an eye of hope and faith to see our house be repaired and back on track this week. We will keep you updated!
Trust in the Lord and watch for his hand as he directs the great work you are doing. Please share with us if you can some of your experiences overcoming challenges and we always love hearing about the people you are working with.
Have a great week, my son.
I was thinking a lot about challenges and trials lately, and I kept thinking of a quote I heard, though I don't know who said it.
"God gives the hardest trials to his strongest children"
and I have had to think about that a lot, on my mission I have experienced more trials then I have ever had in my life, we went to the temple on Friday for Elder Orchards birthday, and while in there I felt an overwhelming feeling of peace and love, and I felt as well that I never wanted to go back out into the world, because it is exhausting, it is hard dealing with people day in and day out, the people here range from super nice to super mean, and even members of the church aren't exempt, there are so many less actives because people repeatedly get offended and angry at others, people gossip and back stab, and it saddens me to thing that because of pride and neglect people leave this wonderful gospel and miss out on so much, and I continually ask myself what I can do more to help.
We went on an exchange with our district leader Elder Green and near the end of it we were biking to district meeting and this guy shouted at us to stop, and he said he had a question. So we stopped and listened. "Why would you name a school after an adulterer?" that is something that I had never heard of before, asking for clarification he said stated that Brigham Young was an adulterer because he had many wives, now this question was interesting and I felt like there was some understanding we needed to get to to explain it, we asked if he believed in God, and he shouted that that didn't matter and we should answer his question, we told him that polygamy was something that God had established in that time, we related it to Abraham who had multiple wives and he disregarded it saying it was the old testament. We finally told him that we don't know why it was named after Brigham Young, but we believed him to be a prophet and that if he read the Book of Mormon he would be able to find out for himself, he told us he had nothing against us but that we were not in the right, and needed to check for ourselves whether God has a Prophet on the earth or not. and walked away.
There are times when it is hard not to be rude back to these people, sometimes I want to yell back but what would be the point? what would it prove? it would prove that I am no better then he is, that I have not self control but anger issues. The knowledge I take comfort in is that I know that there is a Prophet of God on the earth today that he lives and presides as senior Apostle on the earth and president of the church, that Christ is at the head, he is behind all we do in this great work and I need to live up to the call that I have been given. We all need to live up to the call we have been given.
We have been teaching a lot of less actives who are also recent converts, they have a testimony but are confused because they think that baptism is the final step, but it is only the beginning, I feel like that is a trap all missionaries get into that they teach like baptism is the end, but it is only the beginning, its a spring board to greater things, the temple is proof of that, we make covenants with God in each ordinance, baptism is when we covenant to take upon us the name of Christ meaning to be an example and to keep ourselves checked to be always like Jesus Christ, we covenant to stand as witnesses of him at all times and in all places... what are you doing to be a witness in every moment where ever you are?
There is something called the law of consecration, which means we give of everything we have to the Lord and expect nothing in return, It looks like all the trials that have happened so far have to do with temporal things, and something I have learned, especially in California where people have everything that the world can offer, that the world offers nothing that is eternal, and with the basement breaking apart and the house flooding, it shows that we should never put too much of our focus on the physical things and lay up treasures in heaven. Of course it is super important to take care of the things we have on earth but as Paul put it, "the LOVE of money is the root of all evil" the money itself is not evil, but when we start loving it more then God then that is when it becomes evil. So with our house, the new house and the car all these trials serve as a reminder that one day we will not have these things, but what counts is the relationships we develop, the love we have for each other and most importantly the love we have for God and the service in his kingdom, these are the last days and the time to prepare for Christs coming is now.
Trials are to help us learn, they suck but something I remember is that "profound change comes from profound heartache"
and in Ether 12:27
And if men come unto me I will show unto them their weakness. I give unto men weakness that they may be humble; and my grace is sufficient for all men that humble themselves before me; for if they humble themselves before me, and have faith in me, then will I make weak things become strong unto them.
Let us remember to always look to God and be humble.
I love you Guys and hope all turns out well
Passing by the homeless every day
Me at the temple.