April 20, 2014
Dear Family and Friends,
He is Risen
As Sister Gibbons said in her talk today, “He is Risen” is a salutation for Easter Day in Eastern Europe where she lived for a time.
We had a very nice Easter service during Sacrament Meeting today. The mission choir sang three numbers. President and Sister Gibbons spoke between the numbers. The choir sang, “Jesus Once of Humble Birth (Sally DeFord),” “I Stand All Amazed (Sally DeFord),” and “This Is the Christ.” We added the Young Sister Missionaries, making the choir members total over 54. We had to bring in extra chairs again to accommodate us all. Everywhere I went afterwards people commented about the choir, the wonderful sound they produced, and the spirit they brought in. I was very happy with it, especially that they once again followed me to a tee. I do believe that we have had angels helping us all along. I must say add that our accompanist, Sister Peterson, has been great to work with. Now I can relax a bit and not have to worry about the next rehearsal, since choir is over until next fall.
On Friday I served in the Visitor’s Center. I had set a goal to get one guest card filled out by the end of the week. So far I had none. So with that goal prayerfully in mind all that day, I stayed out on the floor so that I could greet visitors as they came in. Two brand new sisters were working with me and doing a great job of greeting people, too.
Towards the latter half of my shift I saw in the doorway a stream of visitors coming in. They came in couples. They were all quite young. The girls wore longer-than-usual dresses. Many of the boys wore shirts that matched the dresses. As they walked in they split off into pairs. I, as well as my companions, walked up to some and greeted them. They were Mennonites, as evident by the white beanie hats some of the girls wore. I introduced the displays to one couple and shared a little about Joseph Smith’s First Vision. I explained about the relief map of Nauvoo and was able to tell them how the people were forced out of Nauvoo. I told them how for a time some were able to cross the river on ice, which was a great blessing to them. They were polite and somewhat interested. Then they had to go so that they could visit some of the other places in Old Nauvoo. I figured that was it, and was as close as I would come to giving out a guest card that day.
But thirty minutes to closing another group came in, a class from Principia College in St. Louis. Their instructor introduced them to one of the new missionaries. He explained that they were studying various religions and we were on their list. They wanted to spend thirty minutes in our visitor’s center. He wanted us to show them what there was to look at here. The new missionary looked at me, as she wasn’t sure how to handle that. So I took them to the First Vision statue and walked them around the center, pointing out various displays that they might be interested in. I mentioned the Book of Mormon/Bible display, stating that the two books go hand in hand. We ended at the Christus Statue. Some went outside to view the Women’s Gardens.
Two young girls lingered so I played for them the audio for the Christus Statue. I felt like I was guided by the spirit as I asked them how it made them feel. They said it was peaceful. Then one started asking me sincere, heartfelt questions about our religion. Just she and I sat for a time and I was able to answer them all reasonably well. She wanted to know how we pray, and many other things, including what the women’s role is in the church. Another girl came over and asked more articulate questions, one in particular was about the Proclamation to the Family, which she had picked up and was reading. She wanted to know about God and if he was always in the form of a man. There were many questions. Finally, I said that they needed to fill out a guest card so that someone could come and teach them more about our religion. They were both much interested and went with me to the information desk to fill one out. Instead of the one guest card I had set for my goal, I had two! That was the coolest missionary experience I have had! I won’t know the rest of the story, but I hope they will accept the restored gospel and become members of this wonderful and true church of Jesus Christ.
Elder Campbell would like to share a portion of this talk by President Howard W. Hunter from an address he gave in 1993.
In this lovely springtime season of the year, this annual awakening when, in the northern hemisphere, the world is renewed, blossoms, and turns green and fresh again, we instinctively turn our thoughts to Jesus Christ, the Savior of the world, the Redeemer of mankind, the source of light, and life, and love.
As a Palm Sunday and Easter season message, I have chosen for my brief text this morning the words of an ancient and sacred hymn, which are attributed to Bernard of Clairvaux and estimated to be nearly nine hundred years old. With the rest of the Christian world, the members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints sing reverently:
Jesus, the very thought of thee
With sweetness fills my breast;
But sweeter far thy face to see
And in thy presence rest.
On Palm Sunday, and next week on Easter Sunday, our minds turn very naturally to wonderful thoughts of Jesus. Indeed, Easter, along with perhaps Christmas, may be the only time in the whole year that some of our brothers and sisters in Christ’s flock find their way to church. That is admirable, but we wonder if thoughts of Jesus, which “with sweetness [fill our] breast,” ought not to be far more frequent and much more constant in all times and seasons of our lives. How often do we think of the Savior? How deeply and how gratefully and how adoringly do we reflect on his life? How central to our lives do we know him to be?
For example, how much of a normal day, a working week, or a fleeting month is devoted to “Jesus, the very thought of thee”? Perhaps for some of us, not enough.
Surely life would be more peaceful, surely marriages and families would be stronger, certainly neighborhoods and nations would be safer and kinder and more constructive if more of the gospel of Jesus Christ “with sweetness” could fill our breasts.
Unless we pay more attention to the thoughts of our hearts, I wonder what hope we have to claim that greater joy, that sweeter prize: someday his loving “face to see/ And in [his] presence rest.”
Every day of our lives and in every season of the year (not just at Easter time), Jesus asks each of us, as he did following his triumphant entry into Jerusalem those many years ago, “What think ye of Christ? whose son is he?” (Matt. 22:42.)
We declare that he is the Son of God, and the reality of that fact should stir our souls more frequently. I pray that it will, this Easter season and always.
Nor voice can sing, nor heart can frame,
Nor can the mem’ry find
A sweeter sound than thy blest name,
O Savior of mankind!
We testify as the ancient prophets and Apostles did, that the name of Christ is the only name given under heaven whereby a man, woman, or child can be saved. It is a blessed name, a gracious name, a sacred name. Truly no “voice can sing, nor heart can frame, a sweeter sound than [that] blest name.”
We testify that we know President Hunter’s words to be true: that Jesus is the Christ, that the resurrected Lord is the Lord of all the earth.
Elder and Sister Campbell
-Helping Elder Campbell with a training packet at Land and Records as we served together on Easter Sunday. Several guests came in a little later.