Snapshots of Life

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Merry Christmas

It is now about 1:25 am MST. Yet another graveyard. The time is passing rather slowly, mostly because I don't have the normal homework to keep me busy in between my rounds every couple of hours. Tonight I have been mixing a little reading with some movie-watching. In the midst of my reading I came across an encouraging quote by C.S. Lewis.

"No amount of falls will really undo us if we keep on picking ourselves up each time. We shall of course be very muddy and tattered children by the time we reach home. But the bathrooms are all ready, the towels put out, the clean clothes in the airing cupboard. The only fatal thing is to lose one's temper and give it up. It is when we notice the dirt that God is most present in us: it is the very sign of His presence."

This quote reminded me of another statement, which is part of an incredible talk, made by Elder Bruce C. Hafen of the Quorum of the Seventy.

"So if you have problems in your life, don't assume there is something wrong with you. Struggling with those problems is at the very core of life's purpose. As we draw close to God, He will show us our weaknesses and through them make us wiser, stronger. If you're seeing more of your weaknesses, that just might mean you're moving nearer to God, not farther away."

Generally I am a bit discouraged as I see - and begrudgingly acknowledge - my innumerableable weaknesses. I get pretty stressed out over the slightest amount of dirt. My uncle used to say that I could play in a pool of mud and come out clean. While I certainly don't want to be playing in any figurative mud pools, I can be encouraged by my muddy tatteredness at times. Discovering another spot of dirt or a deeper stain can be viewed as an invitation to climb higher. There's no way I can keep "picking [myself] up each time", except that warm towels and clean clothes await.

Merry Christmas to everyone in the blogosphere!

Thursday, December 08, 2005


14 hours. 840 minutes. 48,400 seconds.

Boredom. Freezing.

Eyes are heavy. Hair is greasy. Body is tired.

Have to drive to Provo to learn about Isaiah.

Nice, warm bed!

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Care for a swim? Beware of drowning!

Recently I have been tempted to go for a swim. Nothing wrong with a little swim, right? Except that the pool that is pulling me is called self-pity. There are no benefits from exercise in this body of water, only drowning. So, I am trying to count my blessings and open my eyes to the tender mercies of God. Sometimes I forget to appreciate the little things that are seemingly insignificant. Consider for example a clear crisp winter day after the inversion has lifted. How about a new haircut and being able to feel the cold air on your big 'ole head! My personal favorite are the moments that you briefly glimpse that you are in the right place - and that it's a good place. The other night while walking over to campus at a very late hour to finish an assignment I had procrastinated for far too long, I had such a moment. The night was dark and the ground was wet from the rain and snow. Few people were on campus and all was very still compared to the rush of activity that is such a part of this place during the day. The clouds were parting after the storm and the stars could be seen above the snow covered mountains that surround this little "Happy Valley". As I walked toward the library, hands in my pockets and eyes toward heaven, I felt something. I felt that subtle and gentle feeling that I have come to recognize as the Spirit of God. I sensed that the feeling is always present in this place, but it took the quiet wintry night to allow it to touch me. In that moment I knew that I was in the right place - and that it is a good place to be!

Friday, November 18, 2005

The Village

Wow. I just noticed that I haven't posted in well over a month. I guess the demands of school have kept me busy. Things are beginning to wind down a bit now, which is very nice.

The other night my roommate bought like 10 movies from Walmart because apparently they were cheap. One of the films was a movie I had never even heard of called "The Village". My roommate told me that I had to see it. I am not one for the scary movies, I'm too darn jumpy for them, but last night he wanted to put it on and so I decided, "what the heck!"

For the sake of those who have not seen it I won't give away the plot. It is an "okay" movie, a bit far fetched, but I'm not too picky. I was mostly impressed with the symbolism and underlying message. In life it seems that we often experience things that at worst hurt us deeply and at best make us rather vulnerable. Inherently we have extraordinary mechanisms to protect ourselves. There are a number of them really: denial, compulsive behavior, pride, conceit, isolation, dishonesty, etc. It's all rather Freudian, but there is truth to it. I have come to realize that for many of us our primary mechanism of choice, though I don't think deliberately, is fear. At its foundation fear is really just self-protection. We desire to be safe, secure, and at peace, so we construct intricate borders of fear to keep us out of harm's way. We are convinced of dire consequences if the borders are breached. Occasionally we may take courage and "call on" our fear, venturing a foot or two beyond the boundary, only to be jolted back to our place of refuge. Yet another proof that the fear is ligitimate and we are better off inside the fence.

Life has a way of teaching us. We have additional experiences that allow us to see how much the borders of fear are not helping us, they are hurting us. In our attempt to make ourself strong we have only made ourself weak. In our desire for freedom from pain we have only found slavery. If we are honest with ourself we begin to see that fear is counterproductive and above all - NOT REAL! It is our perception that has made us so afraid, not reality. Do I mean to say that the intense feelings of anxiety or dread really don't exist? No, of course not, the feelings are real but the fear itself is of our own creation. If we are always running from it, hiding from it, cowaring from it, we will never know what the truth is. So, I assume that we must face it. I am learning that courage is not an absence of fear. No, courage is acting despite fear. So, we step outside the boundaries of safety and all the forces of our perceived universe it seems, push to legitimize the fear and send us running - but we can't! We simply put one foot in front of the other, we force ourself if we must, until we have overcome. The intensity of feeling and experience will surely be almost more than we can bear, but before long reality is on the horizon and we discover that it is not so bad after all. Sometimes baby steps are required.

Thursday, October 06, 2005

The river of life

There are bumps-in-the-road challenges and then there are enduring challenges. Throughout life factors combine to form the people we are and the people we will become. Our perception guides our feelings and then our behavior. Strengths develop and so do weaknesses. It seems that we generally wear our strengths on our shirt sleaves. Most of the time we are not too afraid, or too reluctant to show the part of us that is healthy, vibrant, and strong. On the other hand, we tend to hide our weaknesses. We privately tuck them away, often appropriately so, to protect ourselves and those around us.

Life carries us along like a rushing river. Sometimes we recognize that we are simply too weak to swim in rough and deep water. The current is overwhelming and we will drown...unless we fight! We swim hard even though the current is pulling us down. We draw on our strengths to stay afloat. We accept the fact that the current never weakens and neither can we. We pray for a life preserver but it doesn't come. We realize that our strength alone will not be enough, our weakness is weighing us down. Perhaps it is not so much our weakness that weighs us down as it is our fear that induced the weakness. Fear creates drag like a heavy anchor. When we face it, panic and pain try to drown us in the torrential stream. We gasp for air, we struggle to stay afloat, and time slows to a virtual standstill. Finally...we emerge. The fighting has made us stronger and the fear is gone.

Thursday, September 01, 2005


In the past week I have undergone some very significant changes in my life. New home, new school, new work, new ward, new city, new people to name a few. In truth it is all kinda scary! There has been more than one time in the last few days that I have asked myself, "what am I doing"? Scrubbing the black tub (yeah, it should be white) and nasty toilet with bleach, looking at my bank statement, looking for a job, and sitting in a 3 hour class were some of those moments. I've never been a huge fan of sweeping change. I like comfort zones and status quo. Perhaps that is why this is all necessary for me - to shake me up and help me grow. Like many times before the first few weeks of anxiety and discomfort will pass and the experience will open up to all that I hope it will be.

Monday, August 15, 2005

ATTN: Mr. Devil

One of my favorite stories of President Grant, 7th President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, recounts a small exchange he had with temptation. One day he went to his meat cellar to pick a ham that was to be donated to his ward for some type of function. It was Pres. Grant's policy to always give the best to the Lord. As he began to look over the hams to determine which he might give, he had the thought (surely initiated by "Old Nick" as he called him), that he could give the smallest and poorest ham. Afterall, this was a donation and no one would really know, or for that matter care. Just as the thought crossed his mind, he immediately recognized it for what it was and said aloud, as if there was someone there with him, "Shutup Mr. Devil or I'll give 'em two hams!"

I would not be so stupid or presumptuous as to call the devil on. Heaven knows I don't need more influence from the "dark side". But, I'm feeling a bit like President Grant in wanting to tell Mr. Devil to shutup! So, Mr. Devil I put you on notice. Let it be known you ugly, miserable, piece of crap that I hate you! You are a sly one, that's for sure, and you might get me here and there but I am not coming to your side. Your cunning trickery can be clever and at times tempting, and you may even be smarter than me, but you've been exposed by One smarter than you. You can trip me up and prompt me to fall all you want, you cursed beast, but I will continue to get up every time and turn to my Master. I chose Him once and I will choose Him again, and again. I know your plan, you want me to believe that I am a piece of crap like you, and that you don't really exist, but I know better. Just know Mr. Devil that when you bring on the darkness I will go to The Light. When I am deceived, I will try to find sight. When I am bruised, I will seek healing succor. You, my enemy, are not invited to be a part of my life. So, get lost and shutup, you pathetic, evil, loser or I will double my efforts to do good. That's all I have to say to you.

Monday, August 08, 2005

A tip of the hat

This past weekend was great! I had a chance to reflect a bit on the good things about life. It was a busy couple of days, but they were spent in the company of friends. I've had other weekends like it in the past month or so. Some of the friends I haven't spent a lot of time with in way too long, others have been closer lately, all are true friends. The company and laughter of friends is like a Sunday nap - it just feels good (Church at noon does not provide for Sunday naps by the way). Whether it's time spent at a movie, or a concert, or hiking, or talking, or making dinner - it doesn't really matter because I'm with people who have touched my life for good. I am certain that God has had a generous hand in placing great people in my life. I am therefore grateful to God and to my friends for their presence. Most would agree that I am generally a man of few words. What I do say, I try to make count. Perhaps I make up for what I don't say in what I feel. Have you every felt like you couldn't really express how you feel because it would make people feel awkward or uncomfortable? Sometimes that's how I feel toward my friends. There have been times when I have attempted...hopefully it has been enough. People come and people go, things change. I trust that someday I will be able to again meet all those who have touched my life in a place and setting where spirit can communicate to spirit perfectly. Then they will see and know, as I see and know, how they have acted as the hands of God when they were friends to me. So, a tip of the hat to a kind Father and to good friends!

Tuesday, August 02, 2005


It has been a while since I last posted and since I don't have anything profound, funny, or secretive to say, I think I will share something that was really exciting for me. Some of you may know that I got tickets at the last minute to President Hinckley's birthday celebration. The tickets came from my sister, who is married to my brother-in-law, who has connections with President Monson. We carpooled to the Conference Center together with my brother-in-law's family. As we got close I heard his mom say something about meeting President Monson. Next thing I knew we were driving down into the garage under the Main Street Plaza - right past security! We parked in front of a beautiful lobby that opens up into the parking garage. This lobby, I discovered, is connected to the Church Administration Bldg. As we walked up to the lobby I recognized President Monson and his wife Francis waiting to greet us. He shook each of our hands and greeted us warmly. We started to load up onto the general authority golf carts that would take us up to the Conference Center, but we soon discovered that there wasn't enough room for everyone. My brother-in-law, sister, and I volunteered to stay back for the next carts. Pres. Monson instructed us to "just tell them you are my guests".

Off went the cart and we stood waiting. Soon the lobby doors opened and people started to come out. First I noticed Bishop H. David Burton and his counselors and their wives, then Elder Oaks, Elder Bednar, Sister Parkin, Sister Menlove, Elder Christopherson, President Faust, and others. This was what I had always dreamed of happening when I would go early to the Salt Lake Temple on Thursday mornings all through High School (knowing that the brethren meet every Thursday on the 4th floor and take the hallway through the baptistry). I couldn't believe my eyes! More carts began to arrive, but who are we to go on a cart before President Faust! Needless to say we stood back quietly to let the authorities go ahead. Elder and Sister Oaks got on a cart and began waving us over saying, "come on, climb on." Who was I to argue? There was very little room, so there I was scrunched up to Sister Oaks and only about a foot away from Elder Oaks' shiny head! I had actually met Elder and Sister Oaks on my mission (another story that is very cool). So, when they asked where I had served my mission I was excited to tell them. Elder Oaks was very nice and said, "no wonder you look familiar." They have a son and a son-in-law that served in Italy so it was fun to talk about how the work is moving forward there.

When we got close to the Center Sister Oaks turned to Elder Oaks and asked, "Do you have the tickets?" To which he replied, "No, I don't, and I'm not sure what they do to people who have forgotten their tickets." I thought to myself that somehow it would probably be alright! Anyway, it was really neat to be so close to these good people and to talk with them a bit. That will probably be as close as I ever come to so many prophets, seers, and revelators.

What made the largest impression on me however, and what I wanted to comment on the most, was seeing Elder Bednar. He walked out and went to his car and then returned to the line to wait there with his wife. I think he caught me looking at him. I didn't mean to be gawking or anything, but I was amazed at his countenace. There was a light about him, a glow, that I have rarely seen before. It was impressed upon me then, more than ever before, what it means to have His image in your countenance.

Monday, July 18, 2005

Junk Happens

Saturday afternoon, just an hour before my scheduled blind date, I was sitting at the computer working on some stuff for the upcoming school year when I heard the skid of tires and a crash. This is not too uncommon, as I live close to two fairly major roadways, so I didn't think much of it. Then my brother came in the house and had that look. You know the look, his face and body language suggested that something was not right. He was livid.

My mom asked, "what's wrong?"

To which he replied, "I just crashed!"

I of course jumped up from the computer and started to make my way outside with the rest of my family. My brother began to recount what had happened. In short, he was pulling away from the curb and was hit by an old lady in an SUV, who was far too old and far too blind to be speeding around the corner. She was going so fast that when she slammed on the breaks and gas at the same time (yeah, that was dumb too), she slid into my car, which was innocently parked in front of the house. My poor car, and worse, my poor brother! He felt awful and apologized profusely, even sending me a text message while I was on my date. It is horrible to get in an accident - the initial shock, the embarassment, the police, the tickets, the onlookers, the damage, the insurance, the bills, not to mention the potential for injury. I feel more bad about him being in the accident than I do about my car. Life's too short to get bent out of shape about a car that's bent out of shape. I'm just grateful that it wasn't any worse than it was. So, when ya'll see my crumpled hood and broken headlight - that's the story!

Thursday, July 14, 2005

To see clearly

There was once a little boy. The boy was a little bit different than the other kids on the block and they didn't always understand him, but he was a good kid with a good heart. He always did the best he could, though sometimes it was perceived wrong. One day there was a fight between the boy and his friend - it was a stupid fight, but at the time it was everything. The boy was partly in the wrong, even though he didn't mean to be - he couldn't see the whole picture. There was no way for him to understand the hidden pain felt by the friend. The boy wasn't at the top of the popularity pole of the neighborhood at the time and so the kids on the block rallied to the friend to defend at all costs. The boy was left alone to the viciousness that sometimes comes out in kids. They teased him, they roughed him up, they poked at him in ways that were intentional, and on one occasion they even threw things at him while they laughed and taunted. These were really good kids who were partly right in their claim, and justified to defend their friend. Afterall, they had been hurt too - but they didn't see the whole picture either. They didn't really mean to hurt anybody. They never did see the secret sobs of a little boy caused by kids who he needed to be his friends.

I've thought about this scenerio from time to time and I realize that the playground can be pretty rough for everyone. I won't say what side I was on in this situation, but it kills me to think that it didn't have to be that way. If only I could have seen more clearly when I was so convinced that I knew what was going on and that I was right.

Thursday, June 30, 2005


Recently I was explaining to someone a very serious dilemma I was experiencing and the anxiety and frustration that accompanied it. I shared all the details, which were far from trivial or superficial. My friend paused for a moment and responded, "Silent Thunder, have you ever tried laughing at it?" I replied, "NO, it isn't funny!" My good friend then taught me a great lesson. There are people and circumstances in life that want us to fear. Though dilemmas and feelings may be anything but humorous, laughter is a weapon that disarms the enemy. Besides, laughing feels so good! I have always laughed at little problems, but I've never felt like or tried laughing at the monster ones that are super serious. Why not give it a try?! Afterall, we all know I could stand to be a tad bit, okay a huge bit, less serious.

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Happy Birthday

Happy birthday to President Gordon B. Hinckley! He was born 95 years ago today. I was reminded of how much I love Pres. Hinckley when he was interviewed by all of the local media a couple of days ago in anticipation of his birthday celebration. What a great example he is to all of us of faith and optimism. I couldn't believe - well, actually I could believe but thought it was amazing - that in a couple of months he will be taking a worldwide trip to visit Alaska, Asia, Africa, and Europe! While in Europe he will make a stop in Rome, which I am particularly excited about. The love we all feel for Pres. Hinckley was evident to me from an experience I had on Saturday. Tickets for his birthday celebration, to be held July 22 in the Conference Center, went online last Saturday at 10:00. I figured they would go fast so I logged on at 10:55, and guess what?? They were already completely gone! That is 21,000 tickets gone in less than an hour. Well, he truly is a prophet of God and I am grateful to be one of his "associates" as he so often refers to us. Indeed, "we thank thee, O God, for a prophet"!

Monday, June 20, 2005

Crossing the Bar

It has been far too long since I have posted! Today was somewhat of a somber day. The father of one of my good friends from high school passed away on Thursday due to renal cancer at the age of 58. Today his funeral services were held and he was laid to rest. As I talked to my friend, who was there when his father finally slipped through the veil, he expressed mixed emotions. The cancer had been taking its ugly toll for the past 2 years, the past 6 months allowing no normal function or mobility. With death came the end of considerable pain and suffering, but also the life and personality of a husband, father, and friend.

As I sat through the service today, which was presided over by Elder Richard G. Scott of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, I contemplated this phenomenon we call death. To be honest I am fascinated by it all; not in a weird, morbid, psycho way, just in the process and what it all means. I looked over at my friends little baby girl who arrived just under two months ago and thought about what it must be like to come into the world and what it must be like to leave it. I was grateful for the knowledge we have through the gospel that life continues beyond death and that the resurrection is a reality! In some ways I view death with anticipation - I mean who can wait till there's no more temptation, pain, sickness, etc? Who can wait to meet those who have gone before and be reunited with those we've lost? In other ways I fear separation from my family and loved ones, and being taken before I am prepared.

That thought led me into contemplating the question. Am I prepared? Well, I will spare you the internal dialogue, but I think it is a good question to ask every once in awhile. I was touched as Elder Scott spoke to the family of this very good man. He promised them that their husband and father would be near to give guidance, support, and comfort when it was needed. He taught that he is closer and more aware than we would tend to recognize. I think about times, sacred times, when I have felt that closeness to those I love who are on the other side. I know that what Elder Scott taught is true! As a missionary I taught that "death is an essential part of the plan of happiness", and so it is. I hope when the time comes for me, preferably in my sleep when I am like 90 something, I will be as prepared as the man we honored today.

Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Memorial Day

On Saturday I took the morning to go for a bike ride along the Jordan Parkway trail. I have gone running along the corridor that stretches from 35th South to 41st South on a few different occasions, but being on a bike I decided to continue south until I was too tired, or until I got a flat tire. It was a beautiful sunny day with very few people on the trail. Just past 45th South along the trail is a lonely monument erected by the city of Taylorsville called the "Freedom Shrine". Being unable to resist the pull of history, or miss a monument, I pedaled over to take a look at the cement wall plastered with replicas of historical documents on golden plaques. In the center of the wall was the Consititution of the United States and the Decleration of Independence. Surrounding those sacred founding documents were various reminders of events in our nation's history that define who we are. There was the Gettysburg address, JFK's inaguaral address, the 14th amendment, the treaty of Paris, and the letter containing the famous response to the German call to surrender at Bastogne - "Nuts". It was fairly clear that the memorial is not the most popular attraction on the trail, grass and weeds grow up through the bricks that lay neatly in the earth to form a small plaza from which to view the monument, but it was all the better for me. For a time I was lost in the story of America. I felt a sense of gratitude to God and to all those who have paid the price of freedom for me. I wonder what I did to deserve the extraordinary blessing of being born in the land of the free and the home of the brave?
Yesterday, I awoke early to the loud claps of thunder that shook my house. I looked out my bedroom window to see the sheets of rain that poured down on our already saturated lawn. For a moment I thought this just might be the first time in a long time that we would not perform our annual Memorial Day ritual, but I underestimated the determination of my mother. It has become a family tradition come rain or shine. We cut the roses and the irises from the backyard and load the trunk of the car up with crysanthimums to overflowing. We visit 4 cemetaries and literally close to a hundred graves. We stop briefly at each one and someone takes the initiative to tell the story and refresh our memories of this ancestor or that. We hear of the generosity of my grandpa, we learn about little Nola who was hit by a fire truck outside the family backery. We laugh as we remember the story of my great grandpa being arrested at 82 for driving his laundary truck with an expired license, only to be sent home from jail because he kept asking what he could clean next. We recall searching the cemetary a few years back for the resting spot of young Heber who lived only a day, and then purchasing a headstone to mark his grave. We try to figure out the family secrets that are now lost to time. We contemplate the sacrifices of those who left their homelands to come to Zion and gather with the Saints, and of those who paid the ultimate cost in struggles for freedom. Despite the pouring rain and freezing temperatures as we traveled about I felt a deep sense of gratitude to God and to those who have gone before me that have established a legacy of faith. I wonder what I did to deserve the wonderful blessing of being born to a good and fortunate family?
At this time of year as we honor those who have paved the way before us and now watch to see where we will go, I express my appreciation and praise to them, and pledge to carry on in their tradition of freedom and faith!

Thursday, May 26, 2005

Some Thoughts

A few thoughts from nowhere in particular....

Time off! I don't have to work tomorrow and I couldn't be more happy! To those who have to work - my sincerest apologies, I will be chillin' at home. Breaks are great!

Interesting people. You know those people that are just a bit different than the norm? They're great and you like them just fine, but there is just something that's unique about them? You know, the ones where they do something or say something and you just are not quite sure how to respond? Such is a kid I know from work. He always sings little songs and cracks jokes while we are working. See, I can see from the corner of my eye that he is laughing his face off and looking in my direction to see if I will do the same. The problem is he's usually not very funny, so I don't know whether to give a fake courtesy laugh, or to smile, or to just ignore. Generally I just pretend I'm not paying attention and keep working intently as his laugh slowly fades. Really nice kid, but I don't know how to act with the guy.
Oprah Winfrey. So I was logging on to the internet the other day and one of the pop-ups from the internet provider was an article about one of the guests on the Oprah show. Perhaps some of you Oprah fans got to see this episode. The guest was a doctor. This was no ordinary doctor...he is an expert in human waste, that's right he is a pooh specialist. I admit I read the whole article, and laughed the whole time! I had to share it with my family too. Who on earth would go in to such a profession, and why did Oprah have him on her show?! It was too funny.
Summer weather! Hallelujah for this nice weather we are having in the blessed land of Utah. I love warm, sunny days. May they last for a long time.
Singing. Today at work I was busting out in song and doing a little head dance to the radio in my back room at work and one of my co-workers caught me. I turned and realized she caught me and felt my face go red as she laughed. I think she thought I was pretty weird, but it was a good song!
Sheri Dew. This woman is incredible! I am reading a book that she wrote and I am amazed at how she has gone from being a shy, unconfident, Kansas farm girl to one of the most influential women in the history of the church. That is cool. So Sheri, if you're out there, if I were 30 years older I would totally marry you! Where is my Sheri Dew??

Saturday, May 21, 2005


In just a few hours the first stake of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints will be created in Rome, Italy! I had the wonderful opportunity to serve and teach the people of Italy for 2 years as a missionary. I grew to love that country and those people with all of my heart, hence the name of the site. I miss them and pray for them all the time.
Day after day, and month after month during my time as a missionary, and since, I have prayed that miracles would occur in the work of the Lord to bring about a stake in Rome. Why is a stake so important? Because, a stake is one of the first signs of strength and growth that will pave the way to a temple in Italy!
Isn't it interesting that just last month a bishop was elected in Rome in the view of the whole world. I confess I was caught up in the historic occasion. The tradition and fanfare was broadcast to millions across the globe as hundreds of thousands looked to the great Basilica designed by Michelangelo from the great square of Bernini's making to see the sign of white smoke, to hear the bells, and to receive the word "habemus papum". Pope Benedict, which is the Latin for "blessed", appears to be a wonderful man; devoted to his faith for several decades, he is a man of great learning and sophistication. He was entrusted with leadership as he received the support of the electors and the acceptance of the people. The process was fascinating.
In contrast, a group of humble saints will meet tomorrow in the conference room of a local hotel. There might be a few thousand at most. There will be no secret election, no media coverage, no fanfare; but there will be the "power of God in great glory"! Most likely, few in the world will be aware or even care about this little gathering, but to those of us who know and believe, it will be a day of miracles. Tomorrow the prayers of hundreds of missionaries, thousands of faithful saints, and many spirits beyond the veil over many years will be answered when an Apostle of the Lord Jesus Christ organizes the Rome, Italy Stake of Zion! For the first time since the 1st century there will be a bishop and patriarch in Rome, called of God with proper authority. They will be ordinary men, but they will be part of an extraordinary event. They will be chosen by revelation and sustained by the people. The process will be inspiring. The meeting will close and they will quietly go forward to build the kingdom of God, with little commentary from CNN.
See, they know the prophecy of Lorenzo Snow, "O Italy! Thou birthplace and burial ground of the proud of literature and arts, and once the centre of the world's civilization. Who shall tell all the greatness which breathes in the story of thy past?...Here reposes the dust of millions that were mighty in ages gone by, and flooded the earth with the fame of their deeds...But is there nought here save the tomb of the past? O, Italy! Hath an eternal winter followed the summer of thy fame, and frosted the flowers of thy genius, and clouded the sunbeams of thy glory? No: the future of thy story shall outshine the past, and thy children shall yet be more renowned than in ages of old...Truth shall yet be victorious amid thy Babylonish regions. Where triumphant warriors were stained with gore, and princes reigned in the pomp of tyranny, the sure, though tardy working of the Gospel, now weaves a fairer wreath, and will wear a brighter crown. I see around me many an eye which will one day glisten with delight at the tidings of eternal Truth - many a countenance which will adorn the assemblies of the living God."
I am reminded of a scripture that brought me great comfort as I attended a meeting one Sunday in a little town called Carbonia on the beautiful island of Sardegna...with a congregation of 5. Two of us were the missionaries. "And it came to pass that I beheld the church of the Lamb of God, and its numbers were few...And it came to pass that I, Nephi, beheld the power of the Lamb of God, that it descended upon the saints of the church of the Lamb, and upon the covenant people of the Lord, who were scattered upon all the face of the earth; and they were armed with righteousness and with the power of God in great glory." (1 Nephi 14:12,14).
I have felt the power of the Lamb of God, I have seen those glistening eyes, and I have witnessed the miracles in Italy. I am so grateful that God has allowed me to be just a tiny part. How I wish I were there now!