It sounds like you had a good time at the pumpkin patch. The cool thing is, I did too! The Second Ward went to a pumpkin patch Wednesday night for the ward activity and we had a blast! So many less actives and non-members came and were able to make friends! I especially loved seeing Wally and Dale, our two recent converts from the nursing home, there in their wheelchairs. They usually bicker or complain, but they sat by eachother the whole night, talking with other members and watching the little kids have all kinds of fun. I even got roast a couple marshmallows for the first time in a long time. We really enjoyed it.
This weekend I gained a lot of insight about the power of covenants. In both wards the talks were all about temples, and then after church we went to see Bro. Hornbacher. He's about 60 and started coming back to church when his 11 year old daughter decided to get baptized a few years ago. He used to feel guilty going to church, but when he promised her he would support her, he didn't feel so guilty because he was just coming for her. Well, naturally the talks and classes started sinking in and he is realizing that he can't sit on the fence, that he needs to change so that he can be truly happy. He's tired of being pulled in two directions, tired of fighting. As he was sharing these things, I realized that true peace comes from keeping promises, especially promises with God because He is bound to bless us when we keep them. This led me to read Elder Christofferson's talk "The Power of Covenants" from the May 2009 Ensign. I love this talk. In it, he points out that keeping covenants strengthens us in three important ways: it brings blessings, it increases our faith, and it permits Heavenly Father to let his power flow into our lives. My favorite quotes are "In times of distress, let your covenants be paramount and let your obedience be exact" and "Come what may, we can face life with hope and equanimity, knowing that we will succeed in the end because we have God's promise to us individually, by name, and we know He cannot lie." Re-reading that talk was a huge reminder that all we really need to do is make and keep covenants so that we can receive the Holy Ghost and the many blessings that come with that precious gift. That is the essence of the gospel. We exercise faith, repent, and keep covenants so that we can have the Holy Ghost as our constant companion to guide and strengthen us in keeping God's commandments and serving others. It is "beautifully simple and simply beautiful" (I think Elder Nelson used that phrase to describe temple ordinances). I know that Heavenly Father will continue to bless us, not only with the direction we need, but with the power we need to follow it, if we will just keep our covenants with Him.
I'm not sure if I've told you yet, but I'm planning on extending my mission. That means I'll come home mid-April rather than early March. Also, I propose that we have a family temple trip when I come home. Clark will be old enough to do baptisms then so we can all go as a family! I can just picture all of us together in the temple and it makes me smile with tears in my eyes. What a wonderful experience that will be! Please prepare so we can enjoy it together. If you feel really ambitious, we could even do our own family names! I know that preparing and then attending the temple together would strengthen our family so much.
Jerome is amazing! He drove the 50 or so miles to church yesterday and ended up staying for over four hours. He came at 9am to attend the second ward (since that's where he lives) but after Sunday School he wanted to go to the first ward with his friend, Bro. Whitehead. So he ended up staying for 2 sacrament meetings and 2 sunday school classes. What a trooper! He has strengthened my testimony that the elect really are out there just searcing for the fullness of the gospel and when they find it they live it.
Ezra (9) and Angel (11) are now both set for baptism on November 20th. They are both just wonderful kids that understand the gospel and are excited to get baptized. They are also both the oldest in their less-active families. As long as their parents really do support them and bring them to church they will grow strong in the gospel and continue to be great examples. I love teaching families with kids because they understand the simple principles of the gospel right away.
Well family, I love you very much. I pray that you are healthy and happy and living the gospel 'cause that is the key to true happiness.
Sister Bailey Mortensen