Saturday, March 8, 2014

President's Weekly Letter #78

I love airplanes.  As a young boy growing up, I spent hours building and flying model airplanes.  I studied airplanes and dreamed of airplanes.  My cousins and I would even fly our model planes for air shows several times a year for interested groups.  I visualized myself starting a flying career in the military.  After my first mission that plan did not seem attractive to me anymore.  My love for flying was still there but my need for different career dominated my mind.

On 25 May 1976, 2 years after graduating from Utah State University in civil engineering, my wife gave me a unique birthday gift.  She went down to the local municipal airport and purchased for me a flight school and training package to solo fly a private aircraft.  The package deal included some class room instruction and 10 hours of flight training with an instructor plus a solo flight.  During the following 13 years I took every opportunity that I could find to fly airplanes.  I currently have about 1200 hours with a private pilot license, single-engine, land category and instrument rating. When I quit flying, I owned and flew a Cessna Turbo 210 in my business and have flow across most of the USA.   

Over those years as pilot in command, I had many memorable flying experiences. But, the one experience never to be forgotten was my first solo flight.  I remember every minute of my boarding the Piper Comanche aircraft for the first time without Dick Mumford, my instructor, taxiing, take off, flying around Utah Valley for 30 minutes, landing and taxiing to the tie downs.  That experience is indelibly engraved in my mind. 

We all experience those life changing moments that we never forget.  For example, a few other, never to be forgotten, memories for me include:  kneeling across the alter in the Manti Temple with my wife to be sealed for time and all eternity, receiving my mission call to serve as Mission President, the day my father passed away, returning from my first mission, being baptized, baptizing my children, my confirmation ordinance to receive the Holy Ghost, etc. 

I remember where I was at my baptismal service.  I was 8 years old, my uncle baptized me, I remember the feel of the water and I remember the baptismal service.

The ordinance of baptism is huge to this existence and is founded on the 3 pillars – The Plan, The Creation and The Fall.  The Plan was devised by our Father in Heaven to allow you to receive a body in this earth life where you can learn and grow to become more like Him in ways impossible to do in the pre-existence.  Through the Atonement you would be able to return to live with Him.  The Creation prepared this wonderful earth where you are exposed to opposition and adversity with free agency to choose your actions.  The Fall gave you the opportunity to receive a body of flesh and bones and be tested.  We all make mistakes plus our physical bodies will die.  These 2 obstacles would have keep us from returning to live with God but the atonement overcame them.  The atonement of Jesus Christ is the center of the Plan and provides the resurrection, forgiveness of sins stemming from inevitable wrong choices and comfort and relief from pain and sorrow. (Alma 7: 11-13)  Therefore, in this life, trials and adversity are mandatory; misery is optional.

To receive exaltation you must believe in and accept Jesus Christ as your Savior, repent of your sins, receive saving ordinances and keep your covenants, referred to in the church as enduring to the end.  Baptism is the first saving ordinance.  The other saving ordinances necessary for salvation are:  the gift of the Holy Ghost, weekly sacrament, priesthood ordination, temple endowment and temple marriage.

Since the world began, all the prophets and later the Savior himself, spoke of the importance of Baptism:

“32 … Father commandeth all men, everywhere, to repent and believe in me.
33 And whoso believeth in me, and is baptized, the same shall be saved; and they are they who shall inherit the kingdom of God.”  (3 Nephi 11:32-33)

9 And again, it [baptism] showeth unto the children of men the straitness of the path, and the narrowness of the gate, by which they should enter, he having set the example before them.” (2 Nephi 31:9)

“21 And now, behold, my beloved brethren, this is the way; 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...”  (2 Nephi 31:17-21)

The ordinance of baptism is a memorable, life changing experience for everyone.  It is someone’s solo flight.  A personal bond between the one performing the ordinance and the one being baptized is always created.  But, missionaries who perform the ordinance are soon transferred and eventually return to their home and post-mission life.  It is a great blessing to the one being baptized if that bond stays in Holland and Belgium.

Consider the one performing the ordinance of baptism.  Ideally, he may be the home teacher to the newly baptized, he may be a new convert himself, a newly reactivated member or a priest age boy who needs to experience performing the ordinance.  With a little forethought, the one performing the baptism could already have been on joint teaches to the one being baptized so a relationship has been established before the ordinance.  It is a great blessing to the one performing the baptism to strengthen his testimony and reinforce his faith and commitment.

It is now a new mission rule; the ordinance of baptism must be performed by a member not the missionary.  Missionaries must diplomatically explain the importance of this protocol to investigators who will usually ask the missionary to baptize them because of their special relationship with the missionary.  Missionaries must also explain this protocol to the Ward or Branch Mission Leader so they can make the best assignment for a member to perform the ordinance.

We are following here the example of Jesus Christ.  He understood the value of the ordinance and the importance to allow others to perform the ordinance:

“1 When therefore the Lord knew how the Pharisees had heard that Jesus made and baptized more disciples than John,
2 (Though Jesus himself baptized not, but his disciples,)” (John 4: 1-2)

Sister missionaries have never performed the baptism ordinance yet their relationship with newly baptized members is not diminished.  Elders will have many opportunities to perform baptisms with their own children, relatives, missionary work in their home ward and as young men leaders at youth temple trips to do baptisms for the dead.  In the meantime this new mission rule will bless the Dutch and Belgium members.  I recently attended a baptism where a member did the ordinance.  From time to time during the service the member explained things and answered questions to the young woman being baptized.  After the service he talked to me about his wonderful experience and then said, “I am committed to give her the support she needs to prepare to go on a mission in one year.”  That is what I am talking about.

President Robinson

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Spring has Arrived

It's beginning to look a lot like Spring, everywhere you go!
The Netherlands is 'Flower capital of the World', and it is just beginning.

The medians in the streets and the road sides are covered with crocus and daffodils right now.  It is beautiful, cheerful and reassuring that Spring is here!
The grass has been green all winter. We have had a mild winter--no snow and only a few days when we had to scrape frost from the car windshield.  But to see flowers is wonderful.  Last spring was so cold, we didn't see flowers like this until late April.  So, this year we are celebrating Spring!!

The great thing is--it isn't just on one or two streets in one or two towns or cities--it is all cities and towns, all streets and gardens.  

Another Elder Finishes the Race

March 5, 2014, we met Elder Sosa at the Mission Office.  It is time to check him out of the mission and out of the country. He has crossed the finish line and finished the race with success. He has served The Lord faithfully and well in the Belgium Netherlands Mission.  He spent two transfers at the beginning of his mission serving in Santiago Chile Mission waiting for his visa.  Thank you Elder Sosa for your service to both missions--it is all the Lord's mission.

  President Robinson, Sister Robinson, Elder Sosa

 We had a wonderful evening in the Mission Home.  Dinner and a Fireside, ending with testimonies.

 Elder Lewis, Elder Sosa, Elder Sumter

 Elder Sosa's last area of service was Amsterdam.  He and his companions are roommates with the Assistants to the President.  So, Elder Sosa is saying goodbye to another two great companions.

 March 6, 2014 we get all the bags checked and everything is in order, just waiting to walk through security.  We say goodbye at this point.

 President Robinson, Elder Sosa, Sister Robinson

 Goodbyes are hard, especially if I am not sure I will ever see them again.  Elder Sosa is returning to Santiago Chile.  His family is talking of moving to Canada, so maybe we will see each other soon.  We are planning on the Mission Reunion in October 2015.

 Like a mom, last minute council. 

 But he asked me for it!  :)

 President Robinson feels the same emptiness I feel as we say goodbye.  We feel sad, but we know that there is a WHOLE family waiting on the other end of this journey to welcome him home.

And apparently for Elder Sosa, the reunion is going to be a
 huge BBQ, Chilean style!

 Last council and expressions of love.

 Goodbyes to the AP's

There is a 'band of brotherhood' in the mission.  When even one missionary leaves, we feel a loss.  Success Elder Sosa.  We love you.  Tot volgende keer!

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

President's Weekly Letter #77

When I was 18 years old my father bought a new Mercury Cougar automobile.  In 1967 Ford rolled out the Cougar with hopes to parallel the amazing success of the Ford Mustang.  The dealership needed a few days to receive delivery and prep the new car but took in my father’s previous car as trade and provided him with a used car in the interim. The used car was not much to look at but was fast.

Late one night while driving home along a deserted, straight country road with a dry canal running parallel along the right road shoulder, I decided to ‘see what the used car could do.’  When I reached 120 mph and climbing, a voice in my mind, so literal it was like a spoken word, said to me, “Slow down.”  I was losing my nerve anyway so I did what I was told.  The next morning as I went out to do morning chores on the ranch, I saw something hanging on the right front tire.  The retread (a new rubber tread that with heat and glue is bonded to an old tire) was partially peeled off.  I was horrified and remembered the voice and the canal and have often wondered what if I had not slowed down.

There is no question in my mind that I was warned by the spirit and/or guardian angels that night.  I have, also, over the past several years frequently woken up from sleep with a start clearly remembering and realizing that I was protected in various other close calls during my life.  It is strange because I had essentially completely forgotten about those memories.  My motto now is safety first, safety always.  I believe we are all watched over and somehow influenced among to safety and other things by the Lord through the Holy Ghost and maybe sometimes through the influence of angels.

The Bible Dictionary teaches that angels are messengers of the Lord who serve God in heaven and who do God’s will and minister to men on the earth.  Angels are spirits who are yet to receive bodies of flesh and bones, spirits who have once had bodies and await the resurrection, or resurrected persons.  Jesus frequently spoke of angels and they attended on our Lord throughout his life on earth.  Angels are heavenly messengers sent forth to minister to the inhabitants of the earth.  We are also warned not to worship angels and those spirits who followed Satan are the devil’s angels.

The Prophet Moroni stated ministering of angels is common on earth, ministering of angels is a gift of the spirit and their main function is to call men to repentance:

“29 … have miracles ceased? Behold I say unto you, Nay; neither have angels ceased to minister unto the children of men.
 30 For behold, they are subject unto him, to minister according to the word of his command, showing themselves unto them of strong faith and a firm mind in every form of godliness.
 31 And the office of their ministry is to call men unto repentance, and to fulfill and to do the work of the covenants of the Father, which he hath made unto the children of men, to prepare the way among the children of men, by declaring the word of Christ unto the chosen vessels of the Lord, that they may bear testimony of him. (Moroni 10: 27-31)

8 … deny not the gifts of God, for they are many; and they come from the same God… and they are given by the manifestations of the Spirit of God unto men, to profit them…
14 …to another [is given], the beholding of angels and ministering spirits;” (Moroni 10: 8-14)

President Kimball observed a truth about the nature of life as it relates to God’s handling of his children on earth.  Also, Joseph Smith confirmed angels who perform God’s work on earth are or were persons on earth.     

“God does notice us, and he watches over us. But it is usually through another person that he meets our needs.”  (Pres. Kimball, Small Acts of Service, Ensign, Dec. 1974)

“5 … there are no angels who minister to this earth but those who do belong or have belonged to it.”  (DC 130:5)

Thus, a big part of God’s work comes through His children in this world as humans serving one another.  Since angels have not ceased to minister unto man, it appears logical that angels are also His children through whom God may meet our needs.  For example, we normally do not see God personally come on earth to take care of business himself.  He apparently sends messengers, angels belonging to this earth, who call men to repentance and to do the work of the covenants of the Father or other assignments angels may have.

Angels do not affect our free agency just as Satan’s helpers cannot.  Also, we know that faithful elders when they depart from mortal life also continue their labors in the preaching of the gospel among those who are in the great world of the spirits of the dead. (DC 138: 57)

The scriptures relate frequent occurrences of ministering angels.  To name just a few:  Christ told his apostles, “Thinkest thou that I cannot now pray to my Father, and he shall presently give me more than twelve legions of angels?” (Matt 26:53)  Joshua saw the captain of the host of the Lord with a drawn sword prior to the battle of Jericho. (Joshua 5:13-14)  King Herod killed James the brother of John with a sword and imprisoned Peter to do the same to him.  Peter was rescued from prison by an angel. (Acts 12:7)  When facing seemingly overwhelming opposition, Elisha prayed to open the eyes of a young man to see the horses and chariots of the angels proving, “they be with us are more than they that be with them.”

Ministering of angels has much to do with you here now serving as a missionary. 

1 - Angels sometimes refers to living human messengers. (JST Gen 19)  In that sense, you are symbolically an earthly angel serving the people here declaring the word of Christ.

2 - You can receive ministrations from angels yourself.  Contained in DC 13 is the ordination of the restoration of the Aaronic Priesthood.   McConkie stated:  “It holds ‘the keys of the ministering of angels,’ meaning that those who hold it and are faithful have the key whereby they can open the door to the receipt of visitations from heavenly messengers… whenever men have had sufficient faith, angels have ministered unto them.”  (Mormon Doctrine, p.11)  Wilford Woodruff stated:  “I had the administration of angels while holding the office of a priest.  I had visions and revelations.”  (Discourses of Wilford Woodruff, p. 298)

 “25 How oft have I called upon you by the mouth of my servants, and by the ministering of angels, and by mine own voice…and would have saved you with an everlasting salvation, but ye would not!” (DC 43:25)

The Lord also said the Book of Mormon, “…was given by inspiration, and is confirmed to others by the ministering of angels, and is declared unto the world by them.”  (DC 20:10)  This obviously refers to the 3 witnesses but might also refer to the task of angels declaring to investigators.  It might refer to yourself as you read the Book and angels declare its truth  to you.  It might also refer to you as the earthly angel declaring the truth of the Book to the world.
President Robinson

Missionaries Go…….we will miss you!

Transfer week is wonderful and fun and it is exciting to see new missionaries arrive from the MTC, or after delays because of visa issues.  What an enthusiasm and burst of spiritual energy!!

After new missionaries arrive, however, we always say goodbye to our best missionaries and send them back to their families. 
We are always very happy for the families.  We know they are planning great reunions and their hearts are so full of love and appreciation for the opportunity their son or daughter has had to serve the Lord for these many months.  
This transfer we said goodbye to ten wonderfully great missionaries.  
Two Sisters and eight Elders.  

 Elder de Bisschoop, Sister Robinson, President Robinson

Elder de Bisschoop has served two transfers with us in the Belgium Netherlands Mission.  He has now received his mission call to London South.  He enters the MTC in Preston England on March 3, 2014.  

 We love Elder de Bisschoop and we would have loved to have him stay and serve with us, however, the Lord has called Elder de Bisschoop to the right mission.  We wish him the best.

 We love you Elder de Bisschoop, you will be in our prayers.  Success!

 Bishop de Bisschoop, Elder de Bisschoop, Sister Robinson, 
President Robinson, Sister de Bisschoop

 We say goodbye to seven Elders and two Sisters 

Back row:  Elder Stanley, Elder Thueson, Elder Farmer, Elder Hansen, 
Elder Sanderson, Elder Christensen, Elder Nish
Front row:  Sister Omozopkia, Sister Robinson, President Robinson, 
Sister Rigdon

I love these missionaries.  I really cannot even imagine what Zone Conferences or Trainings are going to be like without these Elders and Sisters.  I will definitely miss my hugs from Sister O. and Sister Rigdon.

 Early in the morning at the train station.  This is such a common, everyday experience to be at the train station early in the morning, however, today is the last trip--the train is pulling in and it is time to head to Schipol airport. 
Elder Farmer, Elder Stanley, Elder Nish

 Elder Sanderson, Elder Hansen, Elder Thueson

 President Robinson, Elder Sumter, Elder Lewis, Elder Christensen

 We first drop of Elder Nish, who is flying home to Canada.  We will miss you.
President Robinson, Elder Nish, Sister Robinson

 Then the huge group of Elders--all going back to America.
Elder Farmer (to Indiana),   Sister Robinson, President Robinson, Elder Stanley (to Utah), Elder Hansen (to Utah), Elder Thueson (to Utah), Elder Christensen (to Idaho), and Elder Sanderson (to Idaho).

 We love you Elders and wish you success in this next chapter of 
'Life's Book of Adventures'.  We are confident it will be an outstanding chapter.

 The real goodbye are the hardest.

 Love you, Elder Stanley

 I will miss the humor and love from these Elders.

 Love you Elder Sanderson, thank you for everything.

 Tot zien to Elder Thueson, we love you.

 I feel like I am sending my children far away and I am not really ready to that to happen.  So, I fight back tears to be happy for them and their families.

 Back at the Mission Office we say goodbye to Sister Omozopkia.  We love you Sister O., but we know your mother is SOOOOOOOO happy to have you home. You are not too far away, we will see you now and again.
Partick, President Robinson, Sister Robinson, Sister O. and her mother.

 And goodbye to Sister Rigdon.  Her mother and sister flew to the Netherlands to pick her up.  They will be spending 
time in the country before they return home.  
Sister Robinson, Sister Rigdon's sister, Sister Rigdon (mother), 
Sister Rigdon and President Robinson

Well, another transfer ends.  Everyone--all 155 missionaries are delivered to parents, on an plane homeward, in a new city with a new companion, same city with a new companion, same companion in the same city, or new in the country, fresh and green just out of the MTC.  

All is safe, all is well, all is as the Lord would have it for another transfer.
We testify that the work is the Lord's work, and we are humbled 
with the opportunity and blessing that is ours to be stewards in this 
quant corner of the Lord's vineyard.