Monday, November 23, 2015


I begin this post with a scripture from the New Testament. The Apostle Paul wrote the following to the Colossian Saints while he was imprisoned in Rome.


5: For though I be absent in the flesh, yet am I with you in the spirit, joying and beholding your order, and the steadfastness of your faith in Christ.
6: As ye have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye in him: 
7: Rooted and built up in him, and stablished in the faith, as ye have been taught, abounding therein with thanksgiving. 

Cathy and I are certainly not imprisoned in the Philippines. The exact opposite would be our description of this beautiful land filled with kind and loving people. We have had our hearts touched and our testimony strengthened so much in the 6 months that we have been here. What a blessing they are to us and how thankful we are for having all these people in our lives.

We are, however, absent from our family and friends back home in America. And so this scripture is applicable to us and to our relationships with family and friends from the Philippines, to New Zealand and Australia, to England and many places in America and other parts of the world.

Many years ago my brother Boyd told me that Thanksgiving was his favorite holiday. I had never thought about what my favorite was until he told me and explained why. Thanksgiving is a holiday where there are no gifts, no work or social expectations. It is a time to spend with family and reflect on all the blessings we have been given from our Heavenly Father. It is a day to share favorite foods, stories and memories. It is a day to simply enjoy the bounties of life, the blessings of family and the love of all the family past and present.

I have so many memories of Thanksgiving through the years. I have so many memories from my childhood of going to Idaho for Thanksgiving. All the cousins would be there and we would run and play and have so much fun together. We always had our own table in the kitchen and the grownups had their table in the living room. That was heaven for us kids. I have wonderful memories of having thanksgiving dinner with my Mom and Dad and my Brothers and Sister. After we got married we often shared thanksgiving together in one of our homes. What good times we all had. Recent years we have had thanksgiving at our home and the homes of our children. We always have a large group and we always have a wonderful time. This year will be the smallest group we have every had, just two missionaries in the Philippines.

Thanksgiving is not a holiday celebrated here and so will be a work day for us. But that is perfect for us because there is no better way to show our gratitude to Heavenly Father than to serve Him by serving the people we love in the Philippines.

Two weeks after we arrived in the Philippines I received this email from my grandson Parker.

Hi Papa!  
I love you so much! :) 
I'm glad you went on a mission because we are a family that serves.  
p.s. please write back!! 

This is just one of many sweet messages we have received from family while we have been away from them. Read the scripture above one more time and I hope you will see why I chose it today.

I am so thankful for my family. I had the best parents I could imagine being blessed with. I grew up with 3 brothers who taught me so much and continue to teach me what is important in life. My brother Wayne passed away almost 10 years ago but I often think of things he told me and learn new lessons from them still today. I was blessed with one sister, Karen Mae who was the apple of her Daddy's eye and my best friend growing up. Our family has so many good memories of all the fun times we have shared.

Our four children are the best in the world and they each married the perfect partner for them. Together they have given us 14 grandchildren that light up my life.

I am thankful for the Gospel in my life, for my Savior Jesus Christ and his Atonement which reaches everyone who has ever been born.

I wish you all a wonderful Thanksgiving Holiday and send my love around the world to each of you.

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Isaac Takes Grandma & Papa to Nathan's Baptism

This is our Grandson Isaac Horstmann. On 31 October, 2015, his big brother Nathan Broch Horstmann was baptized. Isaac knew that we wanted to be there but could not because we are Missionaries for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, Servicing for 18 months in the Philippines, Urdaneta Mission.  

When they all arrived at  the church, my daughter Rachael noticed that he had put us in his back pocket and taken us to the Baptism Service. When he got home he returned our picture to it's place in his room. He has never taken this picture to church before but he was thoughtful of his actions on this special day.  

We are so blessed to have 14 grandchildren who love us and pray for us.  This is a special boy!

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

What Lack I Yet?

In General Conference for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints last month, Elder Larry R Lawrence gave a talk entitled What Lack I Yet?  This talk touched my heart and caused me to do a lot of reflecting on things that need improvement in my life.  Those of you that know me intimately will have not trouble helping me create a long list of items and traits that need improvement or total and complete change.

In the Sermon on the Mount the Savior taught “Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect”. [Matthew 5:48]

President Joseph Fielding Smith said It is my duty, it is yours, to be better today than I was yesterday, and for you to be better today than you were yesterday, and better tomorrow than you were today. 

The above scripture is a beautiful goal but one that seems out of reach.  However, the statement by President Smith helps me to keep perspective.  I am capable of improvement.  I am able to be better today than I was yesterday.  I am able to recognize the poor choices I have made and strive to make better ones today and in the future.

When President Sorenson, my Stake President set me apart almost 6 months ago as a missionary he gave me a blessing.  I know this blessing came from my Father in Heaven.  President Sorenson knows me quite well but I don’t think he knows that I am a very impatient man.  God knows and the blessing of patience from him came not one time, not two times but 5 times.  My Father in Heaven knew that I would need to exercise patience in everything from the speed of the internet to the traffic in the Philippines.  From my ability to do things as quickly as I want to having people understand what I am trying to teach them and then to accept it and make the changes necessary to improve their lives.

When I was home, working and enjoying my family I was not focused on one task like I am in the Philippines.  Cathy and I work 7 days a week with regard to Self-Reliance.  We study, we pray, we visit, we teach, we listen and we pray some more.  All day and all night we think about ways to help people become self-reliant.  We worry about those that don’t have good clean drinking water. We worry about those that don’t have enough good food to eat.  And then we go to work and try to help them find ways to improve and get more income for the necessities of life.

So now we come to “What Lack I Yet”  I am working hard, I study, I pray, I serve and I pray some more.  I ready my scriptures, I study them and I pray some more.  So why do I have troubles.  Surely the Lord wants me to be successful.  Surely He wants all his missionaries to be successful.  So I took the challenge from Elder Lawrence.  “What do I need to change?”  “How can I improve?”  “What weakness needs strengthening?”

I have some family members very close to me that have been upset with me for some time and choose to not include me in their lives.  This hurts me deeply.  I try to make things better but nothing seems to bridge the gap.  This too is part of my question “What Lack I Yet”.  The son of my brother Wayne who passed away almost 10 years ago told me that it was up to me to help keep our family together after my Mother died.  This motivated me to try even harder.  I took his words seriously and continue to try and pray for inspiration of what I can do. 

All of this and more is part of my personal quest to improve and find what flaws I can work on to improve. 

I have a small book that a good friend recommended to me several years ago called TO DRAW CLOSER TO GOD by President Henry B Eyring.  It is a collection of discourses and is full of insights.  I picked it up this morning and started reading again.  Not really considering what I have been praying for and not really looking for any answers, just a good book to read for a while in my morning studies.

The second discourse is entitled Listen Together.  Here is the part that really touched my heart and I thought of what I have been praying for, “What Lack I Yet”

What the scripture calls a “humble and contrite heart” has always been exemplified for me in two paragraphs from the autobiography of Parley P. Pratt. Perhaps it touched me because I admired so much the strength of Elder Pratt and also because I like so little to be rebuked. Here is the first paragraph of the two—I will have to break between the two because you need a little background.
After journeying for several hundred miles up the Platte, we at length met two messengers from the pioneers under President Young, from Salt Lake Valley. These were P. Rockwell and E. T. Benson; who had been sent out to try to find us and report our progress and circumstances. Having visited all the camps, they returned to the valley, or rather to where they met the President and pioneers, on their way back to Winter Quarters on the Missouri. I accompanied them back nearly one days’ ride on the way, and then bid them God speed, and returned to my own camp. Soon after this our fifty met the President and company of pioneers and camped with them one day.
Now this is where you need a little background. For a moment, think of yourselves as Parley P. Pratt. He was leading a hard, hard march. He was doing the best he knew how. He was an apostle of the Lord Jesus Christ. He was meeting his leader, one with whom he had been in great difficulties. Elder Pratt saw himself as an experienced man, as indeed President Young was experienced.
Can you young men now picture yourselves having a priesthood interview with your elders quorum president? He is going to talk to you about what you have been doing. You have been working hard. Aren’t you prepared for a little praise? Wouldn’t you like him to tell you how wonderful you were?
Parley P. Pratt had arrived in Winter Quarters after President Young and the Quorum of the Twelve had made some very specific arrangements. Elder Pratt had taken a look at the plans and thought he could do better. He changed the arrangements. He did not know that—at least according to one of the other members of the Twelve who had been there—they were a decision of the Council and were revelation. Listen to Parley P. Pratt’s description of that day with his priesthood leader.
A council was called, in which I was highly censured and chastened by President Young and others. This arose in part from some defect in the organization entered into under the superintendence of the President before he left the camps at Winter Quarters; and of variously interfering with previous arrangements. In short, I was severely reproved and chastened. I no doubt deserved this chastisement; and I humbled myself, acknowledged my faults and errors, and asked forgiveness. I was frankly forgiven, and, bidding each other farewell, each company passed on their way. This school of experience made me more humble and careful in future, and I think it was the means of making me a wiser and better man ever after.[Autobiography of Parley P. Pratt (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Company, 1985), pp. 330–31]

I have learned a lot from my study today.  My prayers and my desire to be better today than I was yesterday and better tomorrow than I was today motivate me to work hard and improve relationships with family, to have more patience, and to be a better servant of the Lord.

Monday, November 2, 2015

Every day we learn something new about being self-reliant.  Yesterday  I heard a little story that reinforced the importance of developing our skills and talents.

One day a flock of ducks went up the mountain and spent the day learning to fly.  After they had learned this new skill they were all seen returning home, walking down the street carrying their shoes.

It is important to identify and use the skills and talents that you have been blessed with.