I realized after seeing a few comments from some of you that we haven't updated or posted to this blog for some time. Thanks for being patient and as always, thank you for your thoughts, prayers and faith. It is so wonderful to hear from you and to receive your kind, inspiring comments.
I wanted to post a note on this blog to try to capture and express some thoughts that I have had for some time. So often during this trial I have found myself pondering various questions and praying about very specific things. And often times it is the case where I have something constantly on my mind and then begin to feel frustrated because the answer to my prayer does not come. Or, more correctly, I should say, it doesn't come when I think I am ready to receive it. But it does come when Heavenly Father knows I am to receive it. In other words, the Tender Mercies of the Lord, or answer to prayers have been so evident and, as I now look back on some of them, so very timely. And when they do, and when I once again become impatient, I need to do as we read in the scriptures and "Remember, remember..."
Let me provide an example or two. Last summer just before Sarah's baptism I was in Deseret Book getting her a set of scriptures. While I was waiting for her name to be embossed on the book I thought I would brose around a bit, but I usually don't like to just pick up any old book at Deseret Book. I usually like to read a chapter of Hugh Nibley or Neal A. Maxwell or Boyd K. Packer or one of the "older" type books. I'm not a big fan of some of the newer books that seem to be published without a lot of thought. Anyway, on this particular day I was not feeling very well and didn't really want to read anything. I was discouraged. I wandered around for a bit and for some reason picked up the book entitled "Signature Blessings" (some of you have mentioned this book before.) It was the only book that I looked at that day and it was a type of book that I normally don't pay much attention to. But for some reason, I picked up the book and read one and only one story. It was a story of a man who had a bike accident and severely injured his neck and brain. In summary, after months of therapy he was visiting his doctor who basically told him that there was no medical reason as to why he was able to walk and talk. The damage done to his nerves and what the x-rays showed was just too severe. The doctor said something like, "I don't believe in God, but whatever God you believe in, you should go home and thank Him because there is no explanation for your recovery." I read that story and wept and stormed out of Deseret Book in tears. It was the very scene that I had pictured in my mind that would happen for Stephen and now I was reading a witness of it. I thought it was curious that it was the only book that I even looked at that day and the only story in the book that I read. In short, it was a reminder to me.
Another quick example. Last Sunday we had a very nice lesson in Sunday School about 1 Nephi. The lesson was presented very well and I had many thoughts from the Holy Ghost during the lesson. At the beginning of the lesson the question was asked, "What did the Liahona do for Lehi and his family?" There were many good answers given. It did many practical and miraculous things but the thing that came to my mind that it did for them was that it was a witness, or reminder to them, like the burning flame for the Israelites, that God was still with them. It was a reminder that they were on the right path, they were doing the right things. It was hard. In fact so hard that they cried to the Lord and asked for His help and His help came in the form of the Liahona. There is more to that lesson, i.e., the Liahona provided a means to constantly remind them to live worthily, etc., but I thought of how relived Lehi must have felt to know that God is with him, loves him, and is guiding him. It must have been a tremendous re-assurance and it reminded me of an answer to prayer that I had received just a few days earlier. And, like Lehi, it reminded me that God's plan is on track, His purposes are in force and will be accomplished.
One last example and then I'll close this loooong post. I recently started reading Neal A. Maxwell's book, Not My Will, But Thine. Genny had read it some time ago and I just picked it up last week. I opened it up when I was considering reading it and read this story,
"President Thomas S. Monson has shared this illuminating illustration with us: While serving in Guatemala as a missionary...Randall Ellsworth survived a devastating earthquake that hurled a beam down on his back, paralyzing his legs and severely damaging his kidneys. He was the only American injured in the quake, which claimed the lives of some eighteen thousand persons. On his return to Guatemala, Randall Ellsworth supported himself with the help of two canes. His walk was slow and deliberate. Then one day, as he stood before his mission president, Elder Ellsworth heard these almost unbelievable words spoken: "You have been the recipient of a miracle," said the mission president. "Your faith has been rewarded. If you have the necessary confidence, if you have abiding faith, if you have supreme courage, place those two canes on my desk and walk." After a long pause, first one cane and then the other was placed on the desk, and a missionary walked. It was halting, it was painful--but he walked, never again to need the canes."
I want to testify through the use of this blog, that the Lord is with us. The Lord is with Stephen. And because of the prayers of you, He provides tender mercies of reminders to us from time to time, when we seem to need them most that He is there, that we are on His path and that we are moving according to His will. Some may wonder about the blessings given to Stephen. Some may say, "there were promises given and nothing has happened." I would tell them that that is not the case. Much as happened. Prayers have been answered and much comfort has been received that has allowed us to get to this point. And, most importantly, assurances have been given that just like Elder Ellsworth, there will be another missionary that will walk. With God as my witness, I testify that it will happen because it is according to the will of the Lord.
My constant thanks and love to all of you.