In preparing a lesson for this Sunday, we had the opportunity to review some stories from our family histories. The theme of the lesson was sacrifice. What had our ancestors sacrificed to join the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints and continue faithful? In turn what would we be willing to sacrifice?
We remembered our visit to enchanting North Vinal Haven, a green and rocky island in Penobscot Bay, Maine. It was there that we found in a small history library the record of Henry and Mary Pierce McMullin. They joined the new faith in 1841, four years after Wilfred Woodruff had first come to the Fox Islands preaching the message of the restoration. Eventually, in 1855, the McMullins decided to leave behind the persecution that affected his business as a carpenter and shipbuilder, and go to Zion. We thought it would have been devastating to leave that beautiful place to travel to a desert, when all they had ever known was island life.
The story of Stephen Winchester, another ggparent, is typical of early Mormon pioneers who sacrificed everything to join the Church and follow the prophet. Stephen was baptized in Erie County, PA in early 1833 and soon moved to Kirtland, OH. In 1834 he and his son Benjamin joined the 1000 mile Zion’s Camp march to bring relief to the saints in Missouri. In 1835 he was ordained to the First Quorum of the Seventy and in 1837 he moved from Kirtland to the prairie south of Far West, MO. It was to his farmhouse that Apostle David W. Patten was carried and died after being wounded in the Battle of Crooked River in 1838. Stephen himself was for a time held prisoner by a mob. With his family he was forced to flee in the harsh weather to Illinois, where he helped in building the city of Nauvoo and the temple. Again, in 1846 he was forced by the mobs to leave behind his home and possessions there and eventually reached the Salt Lake Valley in 1849. He died in Salt Lake in 1873. As children we asked our mother why his photograph as an old man showed him grim and wary. She replied that his face simply reflected the trials he had suffered during his life to be true to his faith.
We met a wonderful young Ghanaian man this week in the temple who had recently received a mission call. We were very surprised and excited to hear him say that he was going to serve in the Canada Calgary Mission. Tom was raised in Cardston and I in Raymond. Both towns were established by church members in the late 1800’s. Both are within the boundaries of his mission. He will experience real cold there for the first time but we hope he will feel warmth in the stability of the saints. It is thrillng to us that as we are building the church here he will be doing the same there.
Tom and I have been running the temple office since Sister Webster left three weeks ago. We have learned all the procedures, the schedules, and know where most everything is and where it goes next. We feel needed and are grateful to assist our exceptional Presidency while a new assistant recorder, office manager and secretary are called. This week we look forward to another large group from Cote D’Ivoire with 39 French language own endowments on Tuesday and 15 sealings on Wednesday. We will also welcome 30 new missionaries who have recently entered the Ghana MTC. They will be the last group who will come from Tema. The next missionaries we process will be living next door in the beautiful, new Mission Training Center. It is miraculous to witness the expansion of the Lord’s work right before our eyes.
This Saturday Elder Renlund (of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles) and his wife will be in Accra to broadcast Face to Face (a Q & A with youth) from Africa. I would be satisfied to just catch a glimpse of him. He has become one of my favorite speakers in the church. I am inspired by not only what he says but how he says it.
Tom estimates that we have 32 weeks left in Accra. I hope it is long enough to learn what the Lord needs us to learn here. We send our love and may God bless you in all you do that is good.