Monday, February 22, 2016

Things that don't change, Stay the same.

We have been having a lot of graduations from Self-Reliance Groups lately.  The work of the past 9 months is being reflected in the smiles of members as they receive certificates of completion from LDS Business college.  They are so proud of themselves, and rightfully so.  They have worked hard to complete one of three paths of study.  Education for Better Work, My Job Search or Starting and Growing My Business.  They have also completed My Foundation, Principles Skills and Habits.  They have changed!  

3 Nephi 27:27 What manner of men ought ye to be?  Verily I say unto you, Even as I am.

The key word here is "be".  Be Like Jesus.  This should be our goal.  This is the goal of Self-Reliance.

Elder Packer said, "things that don¹t change, stay the same" he also said, "When we are through changing, we are through" Self-Reliance is about change.  We continue to change as we strive to be like Jesus.  If you want to be better today than you were yesterday you need to change.  You need to keep working.  You need to do something.  If what are you doing is not making your better each day then you need to change and do something different, something more.  You cannot sit and do the same things and expect to receive a different result.  This is true in everything in our lives.

Our mission in the Philippines is also a time of change for Cathy and I.  We miss our family, especially our grandchildren.  We miss seeing them swim and dance and play ball and sing and a hundred other things they do every day.  I miss sitting with them, reading a book together or listening to them tell of books they are reading or adventures in learning at school.  I miss family dinners and outings together, but the things that I am learning here, the changes that I am making will make me a better Dad, a better Grandpa, a better home teacher and a little more like Jesus.  I also hope, that in some small way, it helps others to also be a little bit better. If that happens also, as Elder Bednar says, it will be enough. 

Patience is the goal word for me.  Everyday, in most everything I do and say, I find the need for this virtue in my life.  Heavenly Father knows me personally and knows that I need to increase my patience in so many ways.   And so it begins with an awareness that this is something to work on.   And then it grows into an awareness that Patience is something that needs to become who I am.  It doesn¹t happen at one time and it certainly is not complete now.  Nor will it be complete in 9 more months.  It is just one trait to improve in the eternal pursuit of trying to be like Jesus. 

On Monday we had our Mayor visit with Rosales.  This is where we live, this should have been the easiest to get an appointment but it was not.  Finally it was here.  Brother Costales made the appointment for us and agreed to come with us and President & Sister Deyro.  President Deyro is never late for anything but this morning the Mayor was early and President had a pressing matter that delayed him.  Sister Deyro suggested we go on without them and for once in my life, I found patience and said, "no, we will wait". 

When President and Sister Deyro arrived, we had our best Mayors visit.  One of the council members attended our meeting and sat by me and we talked about Self-Reliance.   He wants to bring it to all the businesses in the market.  He said, "They need it!"  I told him if he would provide the venue and the facilitators we would train them.  We talked with the Mayor about Self-Reliance and about families and wanting to be part of the city and to participate in any activities that promote the family or any interfaith activities.  She told us that on the 25th they are having a group wedding.  There will be 137 couples married.  The Mayors office will provide all the wedding rings and cake and other things for the wedding.  They will have drawings and give away a honeymoon and other gifts.  Then she told us that there is a requirement of the government, for the couple to have 1 hour of counseling from clergy before they are married.  She asked President Deyro if he would come on the 24th and talk to them for 1 hour about marriage and family and fulfill that requirement.

What if we had not been patient and had gone ahead without him.  Cathy is normally the patient one but she was worried about us keeping the Mayor waiting.  I was as calm, and said it will be alright and just kept patiently waiting.  It was as though I had been given a gift of patience as that very moment when I needed it.  Later that day was I patient with drivers on the road, probably not, but I did receive that gift when I needed it, when we needed it Monday morning.

So I learned that just because we receive a blessing by the laying on of hands, does not mean that we have that gift at every moment and that we are instantly changed.  It means that we have the power from that blessing the gift from that blessing and if we listen it will be there when we need it, to make us a little be better today than yesterday, and that is enough.

It is the same for all the graduates of Self-Reliance.  Are they through changing?  Certainly Not.  Are they to where they want to end up or just beginning this new journey of Self-Reliance.  Everyday for the rest of our lives we need to try to improve.

2 Nephi 31:20  Wherefore, ye must press forward with a steadfastness in Christ, having a perfect brightness of hope, and a love of God and of all men.  Wherefore, if ye shall press forward, feasting upon the word of Christ, and enduring to the end, behold, thus saith the Father: Ye shall have eternal life.

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Press Forward Saints

I love the hymns of the church.  When we sing the songs of the gospel it is important that we know the words and understand what we are singing.  When we sing with understanding there are lessons we learn and our testimonies are born. 

The theme for Urdaneta Stake Conference today was "Press Forward Saints".  In hymn 81 we sing press forward, Saints, with steadfast faith in Christ. Press forward, feasting on the word of Christ. Press on, enduring in the ways of Christ.

In 2 Nephi 31:20.  We are instructed “Wherefore, ye must press forward with a steadfastness in Christ, having a perfect brightness of hope, and a love of God and of all men. Wherefore, if ye shall press forward, feasting upon the word of Christ, and endure to the end, behold, thus saith the Father: Ye shall have eternal life.”

Who is a saint? How do we become a saint? The word is a translation of a Greek word for someone that is holy, or the idea being that one is consecrated or set apart for a sacred purpose; and that what was set apart for God must be without fault.  It is to be pure, to be clean.  In the New Testament we learn that the saints are all those who by baptism have been made clean, pure, or without fault and entered into the Christian covenant.  We also become saints as we make covenants with the Lord when we enter into the waters of baptism.  We become clean, we become pure. 

We must be steadfast in our faith to remain clean and pure. To be steadfast is to be solid, unwavering, or unchanged.  We must stay solid in our faith, but we must also be willing to change. We need to change our ways and make them the Lord's ways. We need to change to become more of what the Lord wants us to be.  

Life brings many challenges for every member of the human family. Some challenges are the result of unwise choices that all of us make from time to time. Some challenges may have nothing to do with our choices at all. Many of our challenges are the results of other people’s actions.  But in every circumstance, with steadfast faith in Christ, hope and peace can be found.  It can be found in the Gospel of Jesus Christ and in the infinite Atonement of Christ.  He understands our burdens.

Press forward Saints! In all things.  We cannot press forward in our temporal needs and let our spiritual needs wait.  Also we cannot press forward in seeking spiritual blessings and not provide for our temporal needs.  Our Heavenly Father has said "unto me all things are spiritual for never have I given you a law that was temporal."  D&C 29:34.

There are great needs among us. Many lack the ability to "provide the spiritual and temporal necessities of life for their self and their family. Our modern-day prophets have counseled us to become self-reliant.  They say “Self-reliance is a product of our work and is the support or the foundation for all other welfare practices. …

Pres. Thomas S. Monson quoted Marion G. Romney when he said ‘Let us work for what we need. Let us be self-reliant and independent. Salvation can be obtained on no other principle’.
Relying on the Lord, having steadfast faith in Christ, helps us on our path to spiritual and temporal self-reliance. Press forward saints, with hope burning bright in heart and mind, and with the love of God.

Press forward, feasting on the word of Christ.  Do we really feast on his words?  Do we let the words enter into our hearts and minds and give us nourishment and strength.  When we feast on the word of Christ we are obedient to his words.  We do all that we can to follow his words and follow the path he has prepared for us. 

Jacob 2: 18-19 tells us "But before ye seek for riches, seek ye for the kingdom of God."And after ye have obtained a hope in Christ ye shall obtain riches, if ye seek them; and ye will seek them for the intent to do good--to clothe the naked, and to feed the hungry, and to liberate the captive, and administer relief to the sick and the afflicted.

We do this by setting self-reliant goals both temporal and spiritual.  We decide how we will become self-reliant.  When we develop spiritual habits we build a better foundation of the Gospel and then we develop habits that will strengthen all aspects of our lives.  When we act in greater obedience and faith in the Lord we receive His promised blessings both temporal and spiritual.  We become nourished both temporally and spiritually.  When we are well nourished, we grow closer to God.

Press on, enduring in the ways of Christ. To endure does not mean to continue or to exist in the same state or condition. It is to endure as Christ did. To live the way he lived, with love of God and love of all mankind.  There is no way "endure to the end" can be defined.  Because of Christ's atonement and resurrection there is no end. We must endure to eternity. Through our faith and trust and obedience changes will take place.  President Uchtdorf says we must be patient.  Patience means active waiting and enduring. It means staying with something and continue doing all we can. Working, hoping, and exercising faith; bearing hardship with fortitude, even when the desires of our hearts are delayed. Patience is not simply enduring, it is enduring well.

Elder Orson F. Whitney wrote: “No pain that we suffer, no trial that we experience is wasted. It ministers to our education, to the development of such qualities as patience, faith, fortitude and humility. All that we suffer and all that we endure, especially when we endure it patiently, builds up our characters, purifies our hearts, expands our souls, and makes us more tender and charitable, more worthy to be called the children of God”.  We become saints, as we press forward. We remain steadfast, and we endure patiently.

Patience is tied very closely to faith in our Heavenly Father says Neal A. Maxwell. Actually, when we are unduly impatient, we are suggesting that we know what is best—better than does God. Or, at least, we are asserting that our timetable is better than His. We can grow in faith only if we are willing to wait patiently for God's purposes and patterns to unfold in our lives, on His timetable.

One day I was stressed over a something that I was working on and President Deyro counseled me to slow down and wait.  Wait for God to do his miracles.  And then press forward to become the blessings in someone else’s life.

Saturday, February 13, 2016

My Valentine

Catherine Elizabeth Baker Anderson

For more than 45 years you have been my Valentine.  You have been my sweetheart, the one that can make me smile no matter what else is going on the world around us.

For Forty Three Years you have been my Eternal Companion.  Forever is a long time and I am so thankful that you said YES and we will always be one.

When I told you I was going to post this beautiful picture of you on our blog, you said something that I don't exactly remember.  I don't recall you telling me that I could not, but I do recall you telling me that the picture was "Cheesy".  

I do not know exactly what that means.  I know that I love a good Cheesy Pizza.  Lasagna was Cottage Cheese, Ricotta Cheese, Mozzarella and Parmesan Cheese always gets my attention.  And of course my favorite is a Cheese Enchilada from Rio Grande Cafe in Salt Lake City.  (I make pretty good ones too!)

With those and other cheesy favorites in mind, I see nothing resembling them in this picture of my beautiful wife.  So I decided to go to my favorite dictionary, sorry Becky, it is not  No my favorite is the same as the ones printed on paper and bound with a hard cover.  Merriam-Webster.  As their logo says, since 1828 (I only remember them since about 1957 or so).  In any case I sent to the dictionary to see if there was another definition that my mind may have overlooked or forgotten.

This is what I found.  First definition is definitely covered by my favorite foods but definitely not by this photograph of Cathy.

The next definition, same thing.

Third definition?  What is she thinking?

Poor Quality -- that definitely does not describe the girl I married.  Not does it describe the best Mom, the Mother of our four children.  I can only imagine how they might have turned out if they had only had me to rely on for training, teaching, and motivating them.

There are a number of reasons that children need to have two parents and one of them is to compensate for what the other one lacks.  In this Cathy is anything BUT Poor Quality.

Lacking in Style?  Have you seen any of the things my wife can make?  I will show you a few pictures of Jessica's Wedding Dress.  That should settle any questions about whether she has style or good taste.  There are lots of Blessing Dresses and outfits, Baptism Dresses and other fun things this talented and "Stylin'" woman has made.

And finally what can I say about good taste?

I am a very blessed man with a wonderful sweet wife and family to prove it.  I am so thankful for the opportunity that we have to serve together in the Philippines teaching Self-Reliance Principles.  These are principles that my Mom and Dad taught me, and that Cathy's Dad and Mom taught her.

I am thankful for our family that loves us and sustains us with letters, pictures and video calls.  We are two happy missionaries!


Role of Self-Reliance

In 1970 I was called to serve as a missionary in the England North mission.  I often shared a movie with investigators called Man’s Search for Happiness. The movie’s depiction of the plan of salvation, had a significant impact on many.  You can still watch it today on YouTube.  I quote a portion of the video for you here.

“Life offers you two precious gifts—one is time, the other freedom of choice, the freedom to buy with your time what you will. You are free to exchange your allotment of time for thrills. You may trade it for base desires. You may invest it in greed. You may purchase with it vanity. You may spent your time in pursuit of material things.

“Yours is the freedom to choose. But these are no bargains, for in them you find no lasting satisfaction.

“Every day, every hour, every minute of your span of mortal years must sometime be accounted for. And it is in this life that you walk by faith and prove yourself able to choose good over evil, right over wrong, enduring happiness over mere amusement. And your eternal reward will be according to your choosing.

“A prophet of God has said: ‘Men are that they might have joy’—a joy that includes a fullness of life, a life dedicated to service, to love and harmony in the home, and the fruits of honest toil—an acceptance of the Gospel of Jesus Christ—of its requirements and commandments.

“Only in these will you find true happiness, the happiness which doesn’t fade with the lights and the music and the crowds.” 

“Be assured that you are here, not by accident or chance.  But as part of a glorious, everlasting plan.  By a still small voice within you, and through revelation to his appointed prophets, God, our Eternal Father, guides the affairs of his children today as in the past.”

President Boyd K Packer said, “Things that don’t change, stay the same”

President Joseph Fielding Smith said, “It is my duty, it 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.”

It is the principle of your choice, your accountability, your self reliance that I write about today.

I recall the Prophet Joseph Smith’s simple statement: “By continuous labor [we] were enabled to get a comfortable maintenance” (Joseph Smith—History 1:55)

In 1945 my Dad and Mom purchased 1 acre of ground and built a small home.  That first summer Dad Planted a garden and fruit trees, and in the Fall Mom canned all the vegetables for use during the winter and spring.  The next summer he did the same thing.  Everyday he went to work as a printer and when he came home in the afternoon, he worked in his garden until time for bed. The only day my Dad did not work was Sunday.  For 40 years my Dad did the same thing. 

Every summer and fall Mom filled and sealed hundreds of bottles of tomatoes, beans, corn, fruit, jams and pickles. When we were old enough to work, we had responsibilities to help with all of it.  We worked during school vacations and after school. Most of what we would eat for the next year was produced by our family. As the Prophet Joseph Smith said of his family, I can say of mine, “by continuous labor we were able to have a comfortable living always having enough good food to eat.

In April 1986 my Dad passed away two months before retirement and without planting his garden.  After that every spring and summer my mother looked to me and my family to provide her with vegetables from our garden.  Sister Anderson and I still plant a garden every year and store the abundance for use during the winter and spring.

Growing a garden every year and storing the abundance, is just one of the principles of self-reliance that I learned from my parents.

Another Principle of Self-Reliance that parents taught me was NO DEBT.  My parents built a small home with money from savings.  As our family grew they saved and expanded the home.  Never did they borrow money and go into debt for these things.  

Everyone faces financial challenges in life. Through wise budgeting, you can control your real needs and measure them carefully against your many wants in life. Too many have incurred too much debt. To be Self-Reliant we should have no consumer debt.  It is alright to have modest loans for our housing and for Education, however, consumer loans should be avoided.  A consumer loan is one where the items you borrow money for, are often used up or consumed long before we have paid for them.  It is much easier to borrow money than it is to pay it back. Debt puts you in bondage to the lender and many find themselves working for a stranger rather than for their own family.  The so-called five six loans (20% interest per month), prevalent in the Philippines are the worse example of such bondage.  If you are tempted to take one, Don’t!  If you already have one, make the necessary sacrifices and pay it off, NOW.  If you are offering these loans, STOP.  Heavenly Father does not want you in bondage to others, nor does he want you placing others in bondage to yourself. 

These two principles of Self-Reliance, Growing a Garden and food storage and Staying out of debt may sound like temporal principles, however their foundation is spiritual.  Let me share a scripture with you.

 D&C 29:34 Wherefore, verily I say unto you that all things unto me are spiritual, and not at any time have I given unto you a law which was temporal…
 35 Behold, I gave unto him that he should be an agent unto himself; and I gave unto him commandment, but no temporal commandment gave I unto him, for my commandments are spiritual; they are not natural nor temporal…

This scripture tells us there is no such thing as a temporal commandment. It also tells us that man is to be “an agent unto himself.” Man cannot be an agent unto himself if he is not self-reliant. Independence and self-reliance are critical to our spiritual growth. Whenever we get into a situation, which threatens our self-reliance, we will find our freedom threatened as well. If we become more dependent, we will decrease our freedom or ability to act for ourselves.

There are many things you can do to become more self-reliant.  I am only addressing a few of them here.  As you strive to become self-reliant you will learn more about service to God and your fellowman and you will become a consecrated member of the church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.

Consecrated Members do whatever is necessary to magnify their callings, pay a full tithe and generous fast offering, keep the Sabbath day holy, hold family home evening, study the scriptures and serve their neighbors.

Mosiah 2:17 And behold, I tell you these things that ye may learn wisdom; that ye may learn that when ye are in the service of your fellow beings ye are only in the service of your God.

Tuesday afternoon as Sister Anderson and I left the Self-Reliance Center we observed many of the Youth of this stake cleaning and polishing the Urdaneta Stake Center.  I do not know if it was by assignment or their own choice and it does not matter.  What matters is that they were cheerfully serving each of us by cleaning and caring for this beautiful building. 

Jesus demonstrated that a consecrated life is a life of service. Hours before the agony of His Atonement began, the Lord humbly washed His disciples’ feet, saying to them:

 John 13:14-16 If I then, your Lord and Master, have washed your feet; ye also ought to wash one another’s feet.
 15 For I have given you an example, that ye should do as I have done to you.
 16 Verily, verily, I say unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord; neither he that is sent greater than he that sent him.

Consecrated members keep the Sabbath day Holy and make preparations for the Sabbath on Saturday. Some consider this impractical and choose to shop and prepare for the Sabbath on Sunday.  Let me explain,

If you knew a typhoon was coming on Tuesday and you knew you would not be able to get food or water for 5 days, what would you do on Monday?

The Sabbath comes every Sunday, what are you going to do on Saturday to prepare for the Sabbath?

San Isidro Group

Last week we were working with members and investigators in San Isidro Group from Rosales 2nd Ward.  

They have a hard time attending church because it is so far and transportation costs so much. We challenged them to ask their friends and neighbors if they could get someone to drive them and they could all help pay for gas. I even suggested that they might come on a kuliglig and told them how I drove a kuliglig and how we have seen others attend church on one.

On Sunday 11 of them came to church on a kuliglig. 

And they experienced a miracle on the journey.

At the next barangay from theirs they had a flat tire. One of the sister offered a prayer asking that they would have a miracle and be able to attend church. 

They used a hand pump and filled the tire with air. They then drove all the way to church without it going flat again. They stayed for church and afterwards, filled the tire again and drove all the way home without a flat.

One who lives a consecrated life does not seek to take advantage of another but, if anything, will turn the other cheek and, if required to deliver a coat, will give the cloak also (see Matthew 5:39–40). 

A consecrated life is a life of integrity.  We see it in the father and mother whose demonstrated first priority is to nourish their marriage and ensure the physical and spiritual welfare of their children. We see it in those who are honest.  

We show our honesty to the Lord by the tithes that we pay.

If you want more blessings, pay a full tithing.  Pay it every week.  Pray daily with your family and tell Heavenly Father that you are paying an honest tithing and that you need His promises to be fulfilled for you and your family.  

 Malachi 3:10  Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith the Lord  of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall  not be room enough to receive it.

Pray daily with your family that the windows of Heaven will opened that you will receive these promised blessings.  Tithing is a principle of Faith.  Tithing is a principle of Self-Reliance.

Next, pay a generous Fast Offering

Fast Offerings are another key to self-reliance.  When we pay fast offerings we allow the blessings of God to flow to others and our lives will also be blessed.

Allow the words of the Hymn, Because I have been given much, to become who you are.

Because I have been given much, I too must give
Because of thy great bounty, Lord, each day I live
I shall divide gifts from thee
With every brother that see
Who has the need of help from me

Because I have been sheltered, fed by thy good care
I cannot see another’s lack and I not share
My glowing fire, my loaf of bread,
My roof’s safe shelter overhead
That he to may be comforted

In My Path to Self-Reliance there is a self-assessment that we should all review periodically.  These spiritual principles include feeling and following the promptings of the Holy Ghost, Reading and Studying the scriptures daily, daily prayer, partaking of the sacrament every week, being worthy of the temple recommend.  Finally, “we sacrifice to serve others”, makes it clear that Self-Reliance is an eternal pursuit.  

I add a quote from Elder Bednar to help keep perspective:

“If today you are a little bit better than you were yesterday, then that's enough. And, if tomorrow you are a little bit better than you were today, then that's enough.”― David A. Bednar

That is what our pursuit of Self-Reliance is all about.  Progress!  Do a little more each day.  Work a little harder.   Try new things.  Trust in the Lord and remember that Faith is an Action Word.  You cannot simply say “I have faith, now bless me.”  You must give our Father in Heaven something to work with.

We have been given a wonderful gift recently in the Self-Reliance Program.  I testify to you that it is inspired and that if you will accept it and do all you are asked you will progress.  I promise that this is the key to you having greater Hope, Peace and Progress.

Is it easy?  No it is not!  It is not supposed to be easy.  It takes work, a lot of work.  I promise you that if you will work at it you will be blessed.  I promise you that you can have the necessities of life.

2 Nephi 31:20 Wherefore, ye must press forward with a steadfastness in Christ, having a perfect brightness of hope, and a love of God and of all men. Wherefore, if ye shall press forward, feasting upon the word of Christ, and endure to the end, behold, thus saith the Father: Ye shall have eternal life.

Work Hard and Endure to the End!

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