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Elder Dale G. Renlund
Story from ’Doctor’s Orders: A Blessing’ on africase.lds.org
When serving as the Africa South East Area President, Elder Renlund learned that one of the incoming senior missionaries was also a patriarch.
President Renlund, well aware that there were many leaders, missionaries, and members who had never received their patriarchal blessings, got things in motion. Permission was granted by the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, who oversees the work of the patriarchs in the Church.
Throughout the approval process, the Hoffmans continued to deal with missionary medical issues, until Jan 26, 2013, when Elder Hoffman began to give patriarchal blessings. By the time the Hoffmans completed their mission in April of 2014, he had given 179 blessings. Elder Hoffman recalls, “Those blessings were given solely to members who generally did not have access to Stake patriarchs. Our medical travel allowed us to have contact with members from Addis Ababa, Ethiopia to the cities along the southern coast of South Africa to give [members] their blessings. Many other members, who came to the temple for their temple blessings, were able to receive their patriarchal blessings at the same time.”
Sister Hoffman remembers the event that changed the way they conducted the blessings. One day, Elder Hoffman was prepared to give a blessing to a man who had ridden his bike many kilometres to receive it. To his surprise, the member asked Elder Hoffman if he could delay the blessing a bit longer, because his wife was on her way and he wanted her to be present. While they waited, Sister Hoffman started chatting with the man about his conversion to the gospel. His story was simply amazing. He had nine children, and when asked what he did for a living to support them, he replied, “I dig.” Puzzled, Sister Hoffman asked for more information. He explained that he went out every day with a pick and a shovel, and if somebody needed a hole dug, he offered his services. Sister Hoffman then turned her IPad tablet onto some Mormon Tabernacle Choir music, to help pass the time and invite the spirit.
This good brother cradled the tablet carefully in his hands, listening to the music with reverence. He asked Sister Hoffman, “Do you think I might ever hear this choir sing in person? That would be so wonderful.”
Then his wife arrived. She had paid for someone else to give her a ride on the back of a bike. Not only that, she had their eight-week-old baby with her. Sister Hoffman remarks, “Sometimes we forget the sacrifices people must make to simply get a blessing. We never wanted to forget these amazing people.”
October 2015 General Conference
Something wonderful happens in a missionary’s service when he or she realizes that the calling is not about him or her; rather, it is about the Lord, His work, and Heavenly Father’s children. I feel the same is true for an Apostle. This calling is not about me. It’s about the Lord, His work, and Heavenly Father’s children. No matter what the assignment or calling is in the Church, to serve capably, one must serve knowing that everyone we serve “is a beloved spirit son or daughter of heavenly parents, and, as such, … has a divine nature and destiny.”
April 2015 General Conference
Some years ago a wonderful young man named Curtis was called to serve a mission. He was the kind of missionary every mission president prays for. He was focused and worked hard. At one point he was assigned a missionary companion who was immature, socially awkward, and not particularly enthusiastic about getting the work done.
One day, while they were riding their bicycles, Curtis looked back and saw that his companion had inexplicably gotten off his bike and was walking. Silently, Curtis expressed his frustration to God; what a chore it was to be saddled with a companion he had to drag around in order to accomplish anything. Moments later, Curtis had a profound impression, as if God were saying to him, “You know, Curtis, compared to me, the two of you aren’t all that different.” Curtis learned that he needed to be patient with an imperfect companion who nonetheless was trying in his own way.
Story from ‘Louthans in Africa’
Story from the mission blog ‘Louthans in Africa’ about meeting the new area president and his wife:
“District Conference with Southeast Africa Area President Renlund and his wife Ruth was wonderful to attend. We also stayed in the same lodge so we were able to visit with them. What great people….we listened and are still contemplating things that we learned.
“When asked if it was hard to give up their practices (President Renlund was a heart surgeon doing transplants, and Sister Renlund an attorney) they said no, they had already made that decision. The decision to always do what was asked of them. When called by a prophet there was no vacillation, no regrets, they just said yes and started to prepare to leave. We are blessed to have them here!”
Excerpts from ‘Hastening the Work of Salvation‘ on africase.lds.org
No injunction is as frequently associated with the forgiveness of sins and personal salvation as is missionary work. Doing so in the right way allows us to have our sins forgiven (D&C 31:5; 36:1; 60:7; 62:3; 84:61), stand blameless before God at the last day, bring salvation to our souls (D&C 4:2, 4), and to be made holy (D&C 60:7). Think of it! By joining the Savior in His work, the power of the Atonement is brought to bear on us individually in a focused and magnified way.
Many come up with gimmicks or standard patterns or approaches to create a missionary opportunity or react to it when it presents itself. The specific approach one uses is one of those things about which the Lord would say, “it mattereth not unto me,” so long as we do it (See, for instance, D&C 61:22; D&C 62:5; and D&C 80:3).
Here are three simple approaches to consider:
1. Accurately report your activities to co-workers and friends. When you go to work or other activities on Monday morning, how often do you respond to the question, “how was your weekend?” with the statement, “Oh, fine,” and leave it at that? What would happen if you instead accurately reported on what you experienced? For instance, what would happen if you said, “We had an amazing meeting in our Church where all of the congregations came together for a conference. Two young women were called on extemporaneously to share their thoughts. They were outstanding!” Or, “it was great. We had a new missionary from Ghana who is giving his full-time for two years to work in our congregation. He shared his humble circumstances and thoughts and it made a big impression on me.” Or, “we had a great activity in our Church where we used a pamphlet to record the names and stories of our ancestors. It helped me understand the sacrifices my distant relatives made so that I could be well-born.”
Responses such as these will act as filters for co-workers and friends. Some will respond with no interest. Others will inquire further. As they do, the dialogue will be natural.
2. Offer an invitation to “come and see.” If someone asks anything about the Church, even if it is negative, respond, “come and see” John 1:39. If there is a baby blessing, baptism or confirmation, ordination, or any such event occurring in your life or in the life of one of your family members, invite a friend or co-worker to “come and see.” If someone asks how you are able to raise your children to be so respectful, invite them to “come and see.”
3. Carry Church materials with you. Be observant. Be ready to obtain contact information for those you meet. Many are the successes of those who carry copies of the Book of Mormon, pass-along cards, and For the Strength of Youth pamphlets to share. Take down names and contact details of those who express an interest to give to the full-time missionaries.