Sunday, June 29, 2014

Blessings of the Temple - Learning about Ancestors

I know what you're thinking,...there's no temple in Guam...yet. Sister Martin and I were asked to speak in church today and the topics we were given to speak on are "Learning about our Ancestors" and "Blessings of the Temple".

Over the past couple of months we've hiked on some beautiful trails, seen caves, waterfalls and sunsets. These are all of God's amazing creations. The temple is man's creation, under the direction of a living Prophet under the direction of the Lord Jesus Christ.

 Finding our Ancestors - These are some screen shot examples of our family trees on familysearch.org

Farrell Kirk Sparti Family Tree

Michael John Martin Family Tree

Laura Lynn Henderson Martin Family Tree


Terry Lee Sinclair (Sparti) (Martin) Family Tree

Here's Sister Martin's Talk:

Learning About Our Ancestors    
Sister Martin’s Talk - Barrigada Ward, Guam, - 6/28/2014

Good Morning, brothers and sisters. I’m Sister Martin.  Elder Martin and I came to Guam a few months ago to serve in the Micronesia Guam Mission Office. We feel so welcomed here and appreciate your warm hearts and the friendliness around the island. We are loving our experience here.  

I've been asked to talk about “Learning About Our Ancestors.” I have a great love for family history. However, sometimes I feel like a saying I found, “I trace my family history so, I will know who to blame” -------or who to thank.

Why do we talk so much about doing family history work?

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day-Saints is the only church on the earth today that builds temples to perform ordinances for the dead. Faithful members of the Church research and prepare family histories to determine their family names so that saving ordinances may be performed for them.

I have found that when I search to find out about my ancestors lives, what their life was like and how they lived, they become more meaningful to me. I learn to love them because I know more about them.
Have you ever wondered who your ancestors were and what life was like for them? What do you know about them in addition to their name or when they were born or died?

You may think “I don’t know where to start or how to do genealogy.”

A good place to start is to write down what you know about you and your family. Then ask your parents, grandparents or other relatives about the names and stories that they know about your ancestors. Then write them down. Stories are the gems that make family history exciting as we connect with our ancestors.

My mother used to tell me about our pioneer ancestors. One of them is Elizabeth Walker. She joined the church as a teenager in England. She was the only member of her family who sailed on the ship to America. She joined the Saints and came across the plains of America with a handcart. She and her friends pulled their handcarts, they waded through rivers with their clothes on and let them dry on their backs.  At night, when the company camped for the evening, they would sing and dance. She didn't complain about her hardship.  She focused on going to Zion and that’s all that mattered.  I have learned from her to find joy in my journey and to keep focused on the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

By Learning about my ancestors I have learned to understand and have empathy for others trials.
My father was raised in the Catholic faith. He never knew his father and his mother grew up in an orphanage. He had two brothers and one sister. One brother died at the age of 7 and the other was given up for adoption. When my father was about 3 years old, he was standing on the corner with his brother. His brother was hit by a truck and died as a result of it. He told me when he was about 5 years old a couple came to his home. They wanted to take him and his baby brother. He begged his mother to please let him stay. She said she had no food for him, but he clung to her and he stayed while the baby brother was taken by this couple. He never saw him again.  Later he had a sister. This sister never married. She was my Aunt Mary. (My father later converted to the Church after he married my mother.)
My grandmother was very faithful in the Catholic faith. Despite her trials, I learned from her that if I have faith in God, I can make it through my trials.

Sometimes learning about our ancestor’s stories is like putting together a big jig-saw puzzles and finding the pieces that fit together.

 One time my mother was telling about the difficulty of finding information about this family.  My husband had cancer and we knew he would die soon. He told my mother, “Bonnie, when I get on the other side, I will help you.” Shortly after he died, my mother planned to go to New York to do family research. She had a dream. In the dream she saw the cemetery and graves of my great-grandmother and one of my great aunts. When my mother went to the cemetery, it was pouring rain. But she recognized this as the place in her dream and she went directly to the tombstones. On that same trip, she went to the courthouse, to look for a name. The man at the desk told her there was no was no one with the name she was looking for in their books. She asked if she could see the book. She turned the page and took her finger running down the page and stopped, she found the name she was looking for. I testify to you that this work is real and it is part of our Heavenly Father’s plan and we will receive help, it we just start doing the work. He will help us put the pieces together.

By learning about my ancestors I have gained a testimony of the Spirit of Elijah. Elijah was a great prophet who at the end of his life did not die, but ascended into heaven in a chariot of fire.” He held the priesthood keys of the sealing of families together forever. In D&C 110:13-16. He appeared to Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery in the Kirtland Temple on April 3, 1836, to restore the keys of the sealing power. The spirit of Elijah is refers to the workings of the Holy Ghost upon individuals that causes a desire to be involved in the work of family history. This Spirit is on the earth today, it is all over the world, people young and old are having their hearts turned to their fathers and they don’t even know why. But we do.

My husband was the only member of the church in his family. So, after he died, I decided to devote myself to finding the ancestors on his side of the pedigree. I have found  relatives that are not members of the church who I have exchanged family history information with. One of them was a retired minister who just found a passion for family history. We exchanged information. The spirit of Elijah is real. 

 I made temple cards from my family research, and our family, worked on doing temple baptisms and endowments for the family names until we had a stack of family names that all needed to be sealed. Our family planned to go to the temple before a family reunion and do all the sealings. Our children and two nieces met at the Jordan River Temple. We filled two sealing rooms with all of our children and their spouses. What a glorious experience to be there in the temple and to know about the names of those who we were about to seal together as families. I would tell them, this one was blind, or this one was a fire chief, or this one owned a farm. There was this connection of great love towards all of them. We also took the name of my aunt Mary.

My aunt made my mother promise that she would never do temple work for her. A few years ago my aunt passed away. I said, “I never promised her that. So Elder Martin got a temple card made for her. And her temple work was done at this same time. This same aunt appeared last year to my nephew who was serving a mission and she told him all about my grandmother and cleared up some questions we have. I’m anxious to talk to him as he came home from his mission just after we arrived in Guam.

By learning about my ancestors I have gained a love and appreciation for them; for I would not be here without them. I find joy in doing something for them that they can’t do for themselves.

By learning about my ancestors, my faith has grown, my love has grown and my testimony of Heavenly Father’s plan. It is a blessing of take their names to the temple.


In closing I want to share a promise that David A. Bednar gave regarding Family History work: “Your love and gratitude for your ancestors will increase. Your testimony of and conversion to the Savior will become deep and abiding. And I promise you will be protected against the intensifying influence of the adversary.”


Here's Elder Martin's Talk:

Blessings of the Temple
Elder Martin’s Talk - Barrigada Ward, Guam, - 6/28/2014

It’s interesting that I would be given the topic, “Blessings of the Temple” while serving as a missionary in Guam. There is no temple within our mission boundaries...yet. I miss the temple.

That’s one mission rule I’ve been tempted to break…just take a long weekend, and catch a quick flight to Manila or Tokyo and back.

I love going to the temple.

That’s where my wife and I were sealed for time and all eternity. About 7 years ago at age 40, my wife was taken home to our Heavenly Father. I believe and I know that the sealing ordinance performed by the priesthood in the Salt Lake Temple on July 11, 1986 is still in force, and will be forever. The only thing that would keep me from being sealed for all eternity is unworthiness or not repenting of my sins when I make a mistake.

Jesus told his apostles the following, in Matthew 16:19,

And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.

That same Priesthood authority that Jesus gave to his Apostles to bind on earth and in heaven has been restored to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, and is administered in the holy temples today.

Several years ago, Sister Martin and I began dating. We had previously been in the same ward, our daughters were good friends, and both of us lost our spouses to an earlier than expected death.

We both agreed that one major goal that we had made with our late spouses was to someday serve a couple mission. We set this as our goal together that after about 10 years, we would go. Well, we were blessed to come 4 years earlier than planned. I am convinced that when you set righteous goals, God helps you figure out how to reach that goal. If you decide today that you want to go to the temple someday, God will help you figure out how to make it happen.

Before we left on our mission there was a popular song called “Happiness”. In the song he sings, “Here come bad news…I’ll be just fine…don’t waste your time, here’s why…Clap along if you feel that happiness is the truth…and so on…”

What makes you happy? Some may say…If I just had that new car, or that truck with massive mud tires, I would be so happy.

Jesus said in Matthew 6: 19-21

19 ¶Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal:

 20 But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal:

 21 For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.

RUST. I've seen some pretty rusted out vehicles that have almost become landmarks on some of the outer islands. When Sister Martin and I went to the Joy Hotel on Pohnpei, we got a little lost while driving. Elder and Sister Chandler, the senior couple there, told us to remember to turn off Main street at the rusted out fork lift, and you’ll find the hotel.

One thing that makes me very happy is going to the temple. When we enter the temple doors, the “bad news”, as the song goes, is somehow left outside. I feel peace, happiness and joy in the temple.

I've had the opportunity of doing family history research and then doing ordinances for many of my ancestors in the temple. They of course may choose to accept it. But the peace I've felt there so many times is unforgettable.  

Elder Russell M. Nelson of the 12 Apostles said,

 “Every activity, every lesson, all we do in the Church, point to the Lord and His holy house. Our efforts to proclaim the gospel, perfect the Saints, and redeem the dead all lead to the temple. Each holy temple stands as a symbol of our membership in the Church, as a sign of our faith in life after death, and as a sacred step toward eternal glory for us and our families.

President Hinckley said that “these unique and wonderful buildings, and the ordinances administered therein, represent the ultimate in our worship. These ordinances become the most profound expressions of our theology.” Click here for Elder Nelson's complete talk

To enter the temple is a tremendous blessing. But first we must be worthy. We should not be rushed. We cannot cut corners of preparation and risk the breaking of covenants we were not prepared to make. That would be worse than not making them at all.” Close Quote (April 2001)

My fondest memories were trips that included the temple in the schedule. For my work, I had the opportunity of traveling around the world. If the state or country I was visiting had a temple, I would do my best to work it into my schedule. Sometimes, I could take my family on these trips. Whenever I did, we would try to go to the temple. We did many times and the memories and experiences are priceless. Heavenly Father helped us to make this a priority because I knew the blessings of the temple. My favorite was doing baptisms for the dead with my daughters.

Remember in the N. T. it mentions Baptism for the dead, 1 Cor. 15:29.

 29 Else what shall they do which are baptized for the dead, if the dead rise not at all? Why are they then baptized for the dead?

Temple blessings are many…and I testify that they are eternal and real.

President Monson Said,

“The temple provides purpose for our lives. It brings peace to our souls—not the peace provided by men but the peace promised by the Son of God when He said, “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you.” Click here for complete talk by President Monson

One of my favorite scriptures will help us stay focused on reaching goals such as the temple, and never give up:

2 Nephi 31: 20-21

20. Wherefore, ye must press forward with a steadfastness in Christ, having a perfect brightness of hope, and a love of God and of all men. Wherefore, if ye shall press forward, feasting upon the word of Christ, and endure to the end, behold, thus saith the Father: Ye shall have eternal life.

 21 …and there is none other way nor name given under heaven whereby man can be saved in the kingdom of God. And now, behold, this is the doctrine of Christ, and the only and true doctrine of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, which is one God, without end. Amen.

The Gospel of Jesus Christ that has been restored is true. We have living prophets on the earth today, receiving revelation from God for our benefit and opportunity for eternal salvation. President Thomas S. Monson is a true and living prophet. The Lord loves us and wants us to serve each other, love each other, be patient with each other and forgive each other. May we align our thoughts and actions with God, is my prayer and faith in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Ants, Tarzan Falls, and "Coming unto Christ"

Our apartment has ants...no food, no crumbs, very clean...but still ants.

Even the outside of our car was covered in ants today while driving. Ant killers slow them down for a while but they keep coming back.

They are tiny scouting ants. All at once you think you feel them crawling up your leg, but look down and nothing is there. I think they must be traveling between the neighboring apartments. Perhaps we'll try caulking. Quite the different climate in Guam with different bugs. We're glad we haven't seen any cockroaches yet.









Saturday morning we headed out for Tarzan Falls. The sign at the trail-head said 1.4 miles. Looks like a Boy Scout Troop was involved in fixing it up or something.

This hike started down hill. Part way down we came to an overlook. Bishop Davis mentioned all of things in the distance including: channel 10 antenna array on top of a mountain, Sigua Falls, Alutom Falls, a tank farm (a place where you can hike to see a bunch of WWII tanks), a huge Japanese resort called Leo Palace with a full size soccer field, and much more.
 We could see the ocean and also buildings near our apartment from the lookout.


Many of the sights, like the tank farm, were hidden by the trees so we'll have to take another hike out there someday.

View at the top of Tarzan Falls looking down
About another 15 minutes and we made it to the top of Tarzan Falls.
Sister Martin at the top
video

Marthalina also came with us.
Marthalina

Within the week she said she was very excited to travel to Hawaii, Utah and Idaho with ward members on a trip. The main purpose she said was to go do baptisms for the dead in the temples.

There was an old rope to help you to the bottom (perhaps that's why they called it "Tarzan") but we decided to take the trail down. Agile Marthalina used the rope.

video

There were large pools of water at the bottom that were a little slimy, so we decided not to swim.
Elder and Sister Martin at Tarzan Falls

Bishop Davis, Marthalina, Sister Martin

After drinking our bottled water and talking for a while by the water fall we headed back.

video


Another fun hike.

Sunday was a beautiful day. We headed down to the Talisay Ward, the ward with a view of the ocean. Another great day.
Micronesia Guam Sister Missionary apartment - Left, Talisay Chapel and ocean in the background

Last year the missionaries made a goal to find, teach and baptize 1000 people in 2014. They called it the year of mighty miracles. As of May the number had reached 429 year-to-date. There is a great sense of focus on this goal and an amazing love for the people to share the greatest message the world...that God loves all people, we are his children, and the true Gospel of Jesus Christ has been restored.

Below are a couple of examples of what is happening in June: Two Sundays ago, two of the younger missionaries, Elder Walters and Elder Seguin, asked us to try and reserve a full bench for a family of 10 that was on there way to church. We moved forward a row and just then President and Sister Mecham sat there. We mentioned to them that a family of ten was just walking in the door, and they gladly moved to different seats as well. A beautiful family sat down, all dressed up. We found they were originally from Chuuk and were investigating the church.

Update...Last Sunday we found out that they nine of the ten had all committed to be baptized in July.

I was randomly looking at different areas of the mission and noticed that on one day, 12 people were baptized in Nett, a small village on the island of Pohnpei (this is the place mentioned earlier in our blog that had a shelter for their chapel). I asked around and was told two families had come to Christ and were baptized in that village.

We love the work. It's amazing that all 112 younger missionaries and the nearly 20 senior missionaries in the Micronesia Guam Mission don't get paid to do missionary work. Most have saved for years to afford to pay for all of the expenses themselves. This also goes for the nearly 80,000 other missionaries for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, who are serving around the world.

A fun way to end this blog...Last Friday, Sister Martin enjoyed a Relief Society, Ice Cream Social. A fun event for the sisters in the Barrigada Ward.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

"Oh Happy Day" - When we get to see and listen to family

One fun evening about 11pm, 7am in Utah, we talked to the Jones family.



Starting out was little baby Jack...what a cutie.


He was smiling and talking and wide awake.






Next, Drew told us he was happy to have graduated from Kindergarten.










Then Henry showed us his Monster truck he received for his 4th b-day. Wow.


It was also a Lego party. Heather said they had about 20 kids over.


Henry then said he gave his friend Star Wars Play dough at a friend's party.


Drew told us he caught two fish.


Henry and Drew then both started showing us their gymnastic back flips using Heather's exercise ball.



And because they both swim good they told us about jumping off the high dive.



Too much fun. But then we had to say goodbye...They were off to Drew's swim team practice.

Then we talked to the Winterton family.


When Xadrian finally woke up he started telling us about their fun camping trip to Topaz mountain.


He said he found Obsidian rocks.


 But hurt his knee falling out of his toy John Deer 4 wheeler.


He said he was going fast.


Christian showed us their yard with an Iris and tree they planted, fire pit, garden, etc. He talked about the great feeling of finishing the yard...for now.


And then showed us his College Associates Degree certificate...Yea!


Then Xadian wanted to give little Kendrix a hug.


Debbie talked about their fun time at Topaz, camping. She then mentioned about having to leave town for work again soon.


Then little Kendrix had to tell us all that is happening in his busy life.





Like learning to walk...yes, walking. We thought he wanted to say he was ready to go places.





That was really fun to see them all. A beautiful family. The Wintertons.

We enjoyed this great video that Kristine and Newell put together about Newell's elementary school music classes, showing all the great kids he had the opportunity to teach.


Check out the video  Newell Bullen, Music Teacher, Composer, Choral Conductor


Of course we talked to the Bullen's and had fun with them.



Baby Ginny was doing OK but a couple of weeks go had to go back to the Hospital for more tests and procedures. We keep praying for her.

Newell mentioned going to interviews for various music related employment opportunities.



Sleepy Laura Klein was slower to join in on the conversation.

She talked about her friends and having fun.

Kristine talked about playing her oboe and Newell talked about getting involved in the Heber Utah Stake for music.


We had a lot of fun talking to the Bullen's...a wonderful family.


Wednesday, June 11, 2014

LDS Missionaries helping out in Mangilao, Guam

About a two minute walk from our Bel-Air Gardens apartment on Corten Torres Street, Mangilao, Guam, lies a bus stop in need of the "right kind" of attention. Sister Carla McClellan, pictured left, put together a service project to revamp this school bus stop.
Sister McClellan, Elder Meyer, Sister Martin, Sister Roberts, Sister Orrock, Elder Waimila, Elder Walters, Elder Seguin
Her plan was to involve the Micronesia Guam missionaries of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, who would be arriving on different flights, days before a Leadership Training Conference, held at President and Sister Mecham's home.

Elder Walters scraping off old paint and graffiti

When the missionaries arrived and began removing the graffiti, many local residents and school students thanked them for working on it.

Sister McClellan mentioned that the government coordinator overseeing projects like this, didn't even want a "before" picture posted on their Facebook page because the Graffiti and swear words were so bad. They usually post the "Before" and "After" photos to let the community know what's going on.

The initial scraping and cleaning lasted about two days. Different teams/groups would go at different scheduled times to help out. This ended around noon on May 31st.


Elder Lyman, Sister McClellan, Elder Holt, Elder Malais, Elder Cook


Later that day they began painting the base coats. As they were painting the fresh new look, many more people came by to tell them how much better it looked than before.

Elder Obray, Elder Selander, Elder Hansen, Sister McClellan, Elder Cook,
Elder Holt, Elder Gardner, Elder Malais, Elder Bowers

Sister Norgrant(top left), Elder Jeppesen & Elder Land(top right), Elder Obray and Elder Selander(middle),
Elder Bowers(bottom left), Sister Whipple, Sister Ande and others mentioned before(bottom right)


During the few days that followed, Sister McClellan continued to paint the family and the song title, "Families Can Be Together Forever".

Members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints literally believe this, as couples are married and families sealed by God's authority for time and all eternity in holy temples. For more information, see lds.org or click this link LDS Temples (Mormon Temples) - The House of the Lord.
Sister Martin and Sister McClellan,
just about to paint some more.

 Sister McClellan, the Micronesia Guam Mission nurse, missionary, and free lance artist, enjoys painting landscapes on canvas in her free time. She has had very little free time however. As the nurse for over 100 missionaries, on over 10 islands from Palau to Kosrae, she hardly gets a breather.




This bus stop was painted by missionaries in June of 2013.

One year ago she organized another group of over twenty missionaries to help her paint another community eye sore that turned into this beautiful bus stop. This one had the song title "Love at Home", another family oriented theme.











After a few more hot summer days and a few mosquito bites, the project was finally completed.

Congratulations to all who helped!

The final pics.



Family painted by Sister McClellan
Helpers included Elder Lyman and Elder Hansen who traveled from Awak, Pohnpei. Elder Holt and Elder Bowers came from Saipan. Elder Malais and Elder Dopp flew in from Palau. Elder Cook and Elder Gardner from Palikir, Pohnpei also pitched in. Elder Waimila and Elder Meyer traveled in from Yap. Sister Martin and Sister McClellan live in Mangilau. Sister Roberts and Sister Orrock currently live in Sokehs, Pohnpei. Elder Walters and Elder Seguin and Elder Walters who live in Harmon, Guam. Sister Norgrant who just flew in from Saipan. Elder Jeppesen and Elder John who drove down from Dededo north area. Elder Obray and Elder Selandar are from Nepukos, Chuuk. Sister Whipple and Sister Ande who also drove down from Dededo to help out. Elder Despain and Elder Land also traveled all the way from Kosrae for the weekend.