HAPPY FATHER"S DAY! How blessed I am to be married to Elder Hawley--a loving husband, father, and priesthood holder. This blog is for you, our four sons, and all the exemplary fathers in our lives. We are so thankful for our earthly fathers and Heavenly Father. I think of hymn 84, Faith of Our Fathers as we honor the many fathers who have prepared the way for us. We love you.
SHIPWRECK: TO THE RESCUE—Elder David S. Baxter is the Area President of the Pacific. We senior missionaries were invited to President and Sister Shumway's home (President and matron of the Nuku'alofa temple) for a fireside with Elder Baxter. He shared wonderful stories with us of the faithful people of the South Pacific and of President Monson.
It seems that in a meeting with the brethren, President Monson spoke of a painting he viewed in a London museum called Shipwreck by Joseph Turner. It depicted people battling the waves in their small boats to rescue the men at sea in a terrible storm. Then, President Monson looked directly at each of them and asked, “Who have you rescued personally recently?” We should all be engaged in rescuing others. Elder Holland was reminded of one Sunday when he was 10 years old and his bishop, Sunday school president, and elders quorum president came knocking at the door. His father answered the door with a cigarette in his hand. They told him the Lord was calling him to teach Sunday School for the 10 year olds. He thought for a moment and then said, “Well if I do this when will you want me to start?” He took his Camel cigarettes out of his shirt pocket and threw them into the fire. Elder Holland’s mother in the kitchen dropped her dishes in astonishment. The next Sunday, before he taught the class, he went to church early to pay his tithing. The bishop may have thought he was getting a Sunday School teacher, but he also got a husband, a father, a patriarch, a family. [Joseph Turner's Shipwreck:] Elder Baxter then said, “ Don’t write people off. Get down on your knees and pray over every person. Never think, “There is no hope." The Lord is more concerned about your future than about your past—not where you’ve been or what you’ve done but what you’ll be in the future.
As members of the Restored Gospel of Jesus Christ, we all need to have that same perspective. How can we help those sons and daughters of God, men and women who need to be rescued? We need to be in those boats; whom have we rescued lately who was lost?
PAPUA, NEW GUINEA: 102 PEOPLE and 11 CANOES: Elder Baxter told of a remote branch in Papua, New Guinea where there are no proselyting missionaries. One Sunday after their meetings, 102 people climbed into 11 canoes and journeyed 4 1/2 days on the ocean to so they could attend at least one district conference meeting. They were their own missionaries and had brought investigators with them so that the missionaries at the conference could teach and baptize them. Before they returned home, 18 were baptized and confirmed. It is one of many pioneer stories of humble, devoted people on the islands throughout the South Pacific. And sometimes we moan and grumble about an hour’s worth of travel to get to the temple?
Elder Baxter calls the South Pacific a “heaven kissed part of creation” with people living in the most humble of circumstances; they pray for miracles and miracles occur. It is a gift for Elder Hawley and I to serve here and feel their devotion. We hope you’ll be able to feel the spirit of this place and its people and their love for the Savior as we share our experiences with you.
AUSTRALIA AND THE OUTBACK: A TRUCK? A BOAT? A MIRACLE!
Elder Baxter attended a District Conference in Australia that included an area 900 miles north to south and 600 miles east to west from Adelaide to Alice Springs. That is a lot of outback! He related the story of Gary Bird, the first aboriginal member of the LDS church to give a talk at a district conference. He would say a sentence or two and then take a very, very---long---pause, speak another sentence or two and again take a very, very--- long---pause. This continued throughout his talk. He concluded by saying, “Thank you for hearing my voice.” Later, he told Elder Baxter that he must think first before he spoke. It seems to be the aborigine way. (My, if more of us would do that!)
Gary Bird and his passengers left Alice Springs after the meetings to return home. They were traveling in an extremely remote area when his truck broke down. He and the other members of his branch with him decided they’d have to push the truck home; he was concerned because he also had a badly sprained ankle. So, he prayed for heaven’s help. And, he received that help. They got out and began to push the truck and it moved forward like a boat floating on the ocean rather than an old truck on a desert road. They guided it all the way home as if they were pushing only with their finger tips. Yes, people out here have that kind of faith!