Saturday, April 20, 2013


Tonight was the first session of our Stake Conference.  There was so much of it that I enjoyed, but I want to share one story in particular that touched my heart.  The Second Counselor in our Stake Presidency, President Funk, shared this story.  He was mission companions with Elder Gordon Smith, who mentioned during their service together as missionaries that one day he might like to be involved in politics.  Years later he did as he was elected as a US Senator from Oregon.  As happens with many LDS members who are involved in politics, he was invited to accompany President Uchtdorf and others during a meeting with government officials in Italy where they were going to petition for tax exempt status.  (I'm assuming that Bro Smith related this story to Pres. Funk in a personal correspondence) Before their meeting, a secretary informed them that there was no way they would be granted to be tax exemption, as Italy had never granted that for any church other than the Catholic church.

The meeting started and President Uchtdorf presented their case to the one person who had authority to make it happen.  After President Uchtdorf was finished, this person asked "Is your church headquartered in Salt Lake City?"  He replied yes.  Then this person told them that in preparation for their meeting, he had taken a trip with his family to the United States and had visited many of our large and famous cities including Salt Lake, and said that their visit to Salt Lake City was the highlight of their trip.  They had visited Temple Square where two Sister Missionaries from Italy gave them a tour of the grounds and also a tour of the city.  He said "Because of your presentation, but more because of the deep impression these two Italian missionaries had on me, I am prepared to grant you tax exempt status, on one condition."  The church officials looked at each other with some uneasiness and said "And what would that one condition be?"  "That you build a temple and a visitors center here in Italy."  "I think we can agree to that!"  (Another story of that meeting related here about 3/4ths of the way down)

Anyway, then President Funk shared these thoughts which touched me deeply - "That is the way the Lord works..."  I'm sure that those humble missionaries didn't know they were going to have influence in that governmental meeting, and they surely they don't know the profound effect they ultimately had - not only tax exempt status for the Church in Italy, but a TEMPLE!  And a visitor's center!  Because of their righteous example, look at what was achieved! Their influence from that one day will have no end really in the work that will be done for many souls in the Rome Temple, but for the people from all over the world that will visit the grounds there.  Just amazing and inspiring.  I hope that I, like those missionaries, can be an influence for good, to build His kingdom and help further His work.  Do all that you do with an eye single to his glory.  We may never know in this life the influence we have, but if we are doing our best and trying to follow the Lord, He can and will use us.

28 May 2013 - Update: Corey met with President Funk on Sunday and Pres Funk emailed his talk to Corey, so here's the exact story in President Funks words, quoted below:

On one such trip Senator Smith went with President Uchtdorf to meet with a high official in the Italian government. The purpose of their visit was to ask for a tax exempt status for contribution made to the LDS Church. You see, the only church in Italy that has been granted a tax exempt status is the Catholic Church. 

They had made an appointment with a man in the government who had the authority to make a decision on this matter. Before meeting with this lady, they met with one of his assistants who in essence told them there was no way they would be given a tax exempt status because no organization or religion besides the Catholics had ever had this granted to them. 

They were finally able to meet with the man in charge. President Uchtdorf made his beautifully articulated presentation about the beliefs of the Church and why they should be granted a tax exempt status. When Pres Uchtdorf was done the man asked him if the headquarters of their Church was located in Salt Lake City, Utah. The answer of course was yes. Then he said; I must tell you of an experience my family had in your city. 

When I found out about the meeting that was scheduled for today, I and my family took a trip to Salt Lake City to find out what I could about your Church. While we were in the United States we also visited other cities, but the highlight of our trip was our visit to Salt Lake City. While we were there, we visited the temple square. Two lovely Italian young ladies guided us through the beautiful buildings there, we walked around your temple. They even showed us much of the city. They spent a good part of the day with us. We were so impressed with your city, the beauties of your visitors center, but especially with those two young missionaries. We felt such warmth and love from them. 

Based on the presentation you have given me today and on my families experience with those lovely young missionaries, our government will grant the LDS Church a tax exempt status for contributions made to your Church, but I will do this only on one condition. 

President Uchtdorf and Senator Smith looked at each other, gulped a little and said; Ok, what would that be? Then he answered, I would like your Church to build a temple and visitors center here in Rome similar to the one you have in Salt Lake City. President Uckdorf said without hesitation; I’m pretty sure we can do that! 

Those sister missionaries probably don’t know what effect they had on this Italian family or what resulted because of that day spent with them. But I think this is a great example of the way the Lord works though each of us to move his work forward here on earth. Those humble missionaries teaching, testifying and showing love was the means whereby a great work was accomplished, not only achieving a tax exempt status for Church members in Italy, but also in securing permission for the temple and visitors center that is now being constructed in the suburbs of Rome. 

We as members of the Church can, by the goodness of our lives and the strength of our testimonies, share the gospel message and help prepare family members, friends and other acquaintances who are not latter day saints to be taught by the full-time missionaries.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

More Obedient

I was reading an ebook yesterday (learned about it on this blog post) and I was reading the section titled "How to Obtain Knowledge" and it's talking about Obedience, and I was thinking about President Monson's and Elder Perry's talks from conference, both of which I absolutely loved, and as I read I was thinking to myself if there is anything that I am not obedient in.  So I'm pondering my obedience as I read these scriptures he references and some of the authors quick thoughts about them:

“Whatever principle of intelligence we attain unto in this life, it will rise with us in the resurrection. And if a person gains more knowledge and intelligence in this life through his diligence and obedience than another, he will have so much the advantage in the world to come” (D&C 130:18-9).
We lose knowledge if we become complacent. Wo be unto him that shall say: We have received the word of God, and we need no more of the word of God, for we have enough! . . . unto him that receiveth I will give more; and from them that shall say, We have enough, from them shall be taken away even that which they have” (2 Nephi 28:29-30).
We lose knowledge if we become disobedient. “Who am I that made man, saith the Lord, that will hold him guiltless that obeys not my commandments? Who am I, saith the Lord, that have promised and have not fulfilled? I command and men obey not; I revoke and they receive not the blessing. Then they say in their hearts: This is not the work of the Lord, for his promises are not fulfilled. But wo unto such, for their reward lurketh beneath, and not from above” (D&C 58:30-3).
“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge . . . if thou criest after knowledge, and liftest up thy voice for understanding; If thou seekest her as silver, and searchest for her as for hid treasures; Then shalt thou understand the fear of the Lord, and find the knowledge of God”(Proverbs 1:7, 2:3-5).
“And it is the faith which we have had on the things which our king has spoken unto us that has brought us to this great knowledge, whereby we do rejoice with such exceedingly great joy” (Mosiah 5:4). “Faith leads to obedience, but knowledge follows obedience” (Orson Pratt, The Essential Orson Pratt, 217).
“I, Nephi, cannot say more; the Spirit stoppeth mine utterance, and I am left to mourn because of the unbelief, and the wickedness, and the ignorance, and the stiffneckedness of men; for they will not search knowledge, nor understand great knowledge, when it is given unto them in plainness, even as plain as word can be” (2 Nephi 32:7).
“And a portion of that Spirit dwelleth in me, which giveth me knowledge, and also power according to my faith and desires which are in God” (Alma 18:35).
“God shall give unto you knowledge by his Holy Spirit, yea, by the unspeakable gift of the Holy Ghost, that has not been revealed since the world was until now” (D&C 121:26).
“I say unto you, were it not for these things that these records do contain, which are on these plates, Ammon and his brethren could not have convinced so many thousands of the Lamanites of the incorrect tradition of their fathers; yea, these records and their words brought them unto repentance; that is, they brought them to the knowledge of the Lord their God, and to rejoice in Jesus Christ their Redeemer” (Alma 37:9).
“And all saints who remember to keep and do these sayings [the Word of Wisdom], walking in obedience to the commandments, shall receive health in their navel and marrow to their bones; And shall find wisdom and great treasures of knowledge, even hidden treasures” (D&C 89:18-9).

And so when I read that last one, a major light bulb went off - it reminded me of this over-veggie packed grocery list (and me kinda scoffing as I think about me actually eating like this, thinking "no way" - this is a little too healthy) and eating healthy in general (I'd made some chocolate chip cookies and had eaten too many of them and was feeling gross, excusing myself that it was okay cause I was going to start being healthy on Monday)  But a little voice in my head said "hello!!  Here's a place where there's lots of room for you to show improvement obedience-wise." And I thought "I wouldn't have thought that I wasn't obedient to the word of wisdom, but yeah, maybe I'm not!"  I mean how many times do I have to make little half hearted resolutions to eat better cause I think it will help me lose weight and feel better?  Sure, those are reasons, but self, this is a commandment, and if I am more obedient to this commandment, just look at those promises!  Health, being more full of happiness and light, which will lead naturally to finding wisdom and great treasures of knowledge!  Even Hidden treasures!  Am I willing to be obedient?  Well sure, I'd like to understand the mysteries, but I've been pondering it and seeking it and nothing much is happening.  Well, those things are blessings that come from obedience to law.  Am I willing to be obedient to prove myself and earn them, it's just a basic law of obedience, and if I'm obedient, I'll receive - am I willing to try the word?  

More obedience give me.  More strivings within.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

War & Peace

From Understanding the Book of Mormon by Grant Hardy, page 107:
(Mormon's) choice to dwell on dysfunctional eras seems odd in a book whose point is to urge readers to embrace the Christian gospel.  We might expect inspirational accounts of the glorious existence possible for nations who repent and come to Christ; instead we get extensive narratives only from contentious and self destructive periods of war.  The bulk of the text is devoted to the two hundred years that precede Jesus' visit, ... while the two centuries of peace that followed Jesus' appearance among the Nephites is dispensed with by Mormon in just twenty-one verses.  Either Mormon is not interested in the economy, politics, sociology, or religious practices of these periods or he doesn't think this is what his readers most need to hear.

It is interesting how we seem to learn better by negative experiences than through positive ones.  I was thinking of that as I listened to Elder Cook's General Conference address from this past Conference weekend.  Can we really learn peace through tragedies like 9-11 and the Newton School shooting?  They do offer powerful examples of wickedness and evil, and I guess do give us opportunities to lean on the Savior and forgive our fellow man.

We had a FHE lesson with the kids last week where we shared the tragedy of this murder of a member of the Church as part of our teaching the importance of the law of chastity.  It appears to me that the whole terrible affair could have been avoided by obedience to that eternal law.  I was thinking of that during President Monson's and Elder Perry's talks.  Powerful, lots of talks about peace.  Wonderful messages were given during conference by all the speakers, I hope to learn how I need to apply them to my life.

Friday, April 5, 2013

The Lord's Prayer

Absolutely beautiful ~

I want to get this for my ipod, I can imagine just laying down and closing my eyes and listening to it over and over again.  A heavenly prayer indeed.
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