Sunday, October 20, 2013

MISSIONARY EXPERIENCES

After General Conference and our following week's stake conference we realized that the theme is "Hastening the Work" -- that is, missionary work. In addition, we both just finished Clayton Christensen's book, The Power of Everyday Missionaries: The What and How of Sharing the Gospel. Yet, our assignment in the family history library actually forbids proselyting. Sure, we can and do help a lot of people who are not members of our faith, and we think that most of them have a good experience and leave with a positive opinion. If they have questions about the Church, we can answer them, but not to the extent of teaching them missionary lessons. If they express an interest, we are instructed to take them to the visitors' center upstairs where we can teach them, or better, introduce them to the full-time missionaries there, one of the six senior missionaries serving in the Visitor's Center or a pair of young sister missionaries. Nevertheless, we decided that the least we can do is pray for having missionary experiences.

We started doing this last week in our morning companion prayer. On Tuesday, we planned to go the the temple; we like to go once a week. We got off work at 5:00 and knew we needed to be to the temple for the 6:15 session. We went back to the apartment and got busy doing something else and forget to get dinner until 6:00, so we decided to eat after the session. We thought we would settle for fast food, and since we've never been to the Jack-in-the-Box, we decided to go to the one just a few blocks away. We like to go inside instead of eating in the car, but found all the parking was taken, so we went through the drive-through, placed an order, then drove ahead to pay and pick up food. As we waited, the young man at the window noticed Max's missionary name plate and with the name, "Jesus Christ" prominent. He asked us where we went to Church and we told him we are with the church that has the big temple up the street. "Oh, I know that building," he said, "My sister attends the middle school next to it. I wonder what it was, but I've never been there." He also said his mother is a member of an evangelical church and that he reads the bible every day. Max invited him to go to the temple grounds and stop at the visitors' center where he can learn more about our church. He said he would.

We know, this doesn't sound earthshaking, but it is exactly the kind of thing we are being asked to do and is, as brother Christensen says, "everyday" missionary work. And it shows that God answers our prayers when He can trust us to do what we pray for.

We are busy at the library this week, mostly preparing to teach some classes for the three day intensive course next week. Our director, Bishop McBride, asked Max to teach the first class. Then a volunteer who teaches four out of the 12 classes, called to say that a family emergency requires her to leave town for a couple of months. Our director will take two of the classes and Mary and Max will each take one of the others. We can use her PowerPoint slides, but we need to master the subjects. Mary will be doing wills and probate and Max will teach about other death records. We hope it will go well.

Among our many patrons at the library were a grandfather and his 13 year-old grandson. The grandfather came from out of state for a family visit and the grandson wanted to visit the library to see what we have. The older man said he was a Methodist and the boy is a Jew. Max sat down with the boy while the man watched and answered questions, but it was clear that this young man knew his family history. Names, dates, places in three continents, and  for three or four generations. Max showed him what is in the FamilySearch digitized historical records collections and what is in Ancestry. He also introduced him to the FamilySearch wiki and the catalog, the latter leading to microfilm. The boy know how to use the computer and was very quick to learn what was taught. He was amazed to find and view original census records for his family and to learn that he can do all of this (except Ancestry) for free at home. It was fun to see his excitement.

For our P-day Wednesday, after doing the laundry, getting a haircut (Max), and washing the car, we went again to Griffith Park, this time to go to the Observatory. It has wonderful exhibits and planetarium shows, a nice cafeteria with outdoor seating overlooking Los Angeles. We sat there for a gorgeous sunset. Then, at dark we got in line for a chance to view the moon through their 12-inch-diameter lens of the refracting telescope (The actual telescope fills the room of the dome.) The night was clear and the full moon was visible so we could plainly see the bright image of the moon with its craters with our own eyes next to the eyepiece.

LA looking south from the observatory
Looking west toward the Pacific Ocean



 The above photos were taken from the waiting line. The line ended inside the round white structure on the roof. Inside, a docent was telling about the telescope and what we would see. The photo below (from Google images) is what we saw through the eyepiece when it was our turn. But we saw a much enlarged segment of  just a fragment. It was awe inspiring.


President and Sister Weidman
This afternoon, after dinner, we attended a meeting of the committee to plan the 12th annual "Discover Your Roots" conference, sponsored by the Church and the local African-American genealogical society. We represent the LAFHL (Los Angeles Family History Library) on the committee, which also included the missionary couple assigned to public affairs, Sandy and Ken Hyer, as well as Black Latter-day Saints and non-members.  Mary and Max both expect to be asked to teach one of the classes at the conference, to be held in the Los Angeles stake center. It should be interesting.

Then, this evening at 7:00 we attended a "Why I believe" fireside at the visitors' center. President and Sis. Weidman spoke. A quartet of young elders sang the opening song and they were joined by a quartet of sister missionaries for the closing song. It was very spiritual. Afterwards, we visited with people, including a new convert, a young adult man from Iran, and an investigator and her 12 year-old son. They had watched Conference last week and were very moved by the fireside. The work continues.

Our ancestor of the week is Max's great-great-grandfather, Abel Evans. The following is from the life sketch on FamilySearch Family Tree (KWJC-W24):

Abel Evans was born on June 17, 1812 in Carmarthenshire, South Wales. His parents were Samuel Evans and Anne Hughes Evans, who were living on a farm, Castell Dragnog, when Abel was born. Abel was christened in either the Hennlan Amgoed or the Llanboidy Independent Chapel on October 20, 1812. Abel and his parents apparently moved around considerably while Abel was young. Samuel Evans was a farm laborer at the time of Abel’s birth. Sometime between 1821 and 1826, Samuel and family moved to Merthyr Tydfil in Glamorganshire. 

After the family moved to Merthyr Tydfil, Abel spent his boyhood and early life in the coal mines of the area around Merthyr Tydfil. In those days children of the working classes started to work at a very early age. In 1840 Abel heard the Gospel some place in Glamorganshire, and on February 10, 1844, he was baptized a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints by Elder William Hinshaw. Previously Abel had never joined any of the religious denominations but he was known among his fellowmen as a moral and honest man. Abel Evans was soon ordained to the priesthood and spent the following six years traveling through Wales teaching the Gospel. He was a man of great faith and during these years in the ministry he baptized over 2,000 Saints, 700 of these members in Merthyr Tydfil alone. Along with his wonderful faith, he possessed the gift of healing to a remarkable degree. 

In 1849, Abel Evans was put in charge of all the branches in North Wales and assisted President William Phillips of the Welsh Mission. He was ordained a High Priest at Liverpool, England on February 7, 1849 by Orson Pratt and Dan Jones. Abel Evans left Wales for America in 1850. 

According to the History of Lehi, while Abel Evans was crossing the ocean in 1850 he became acquainted with Mary Jones, whom he married after landing in America. They spent the next two years in Council Bluffs in Pottawattamie County, Iowa, where Abel was called as a High Councilor. 

A great many of the Saints were working to obtain an outfit for their overland journey to the valley of the Great Salt Lake or awaiting the return of fine weather before starting across the plains. In June of 1852, Abel Evans and his wife Mary left Council Bluffs with ox teams in Captain Morgan’s company. Their team consisted of one yoke of cattle, one cow and a two-year-old heifer. They arrived in the Salt Lake Valley in September of 1852 and went directly to Lehi, where they made their residence. Shortly after their arrival, Abel Evans was called as second counselor to Bishop David Evans of the Lehi Ward. In 1863 he was called to serve as the first counselor in the bishopric. Abel also served as president of the high priest’s quorum at one time. 

He married Martha Morgan some time before June 15, 1857. A son David Morgan Evans was born to them. Abel also married Jane Davis. They had one child. He was elected as a member of the Lehi City Council on March 6, 1854 and served until 1861. 

He was appointed Marshal of Lehi City in 1863 and served until 1865, when he was called to serve a mission to Wales. During his mission to Wales, he served as a traveling Elder and then as President of the Welsh District, where he labored. In May of 1866, Abel contracted a cough and cold. He struggled against this cough and cold until his death in November 1866. 

We love you all and hope you have a great week.
Love, Elder and Sister Evans