Thanks be given

There is not a whole lot to report on at the present.  We enjoyed a Thanksgiving here in blessed Virginia.

Amanda and I drove to Massanutten, a resort up in the hills.  We went up to spend Thanksgiving with Amanda’s Uncle and Aunt.  It turned out to be an interesting day.  I enjoyed the drive up to the area.  Gordonsville was the highlight of the day, the town having a personality completely its own.  A rare thing it seems these days.

Massanutten wasn’t anything to boast about.  They do have a very large indoor water park.  Other than that, it was just a bunch of condos in the middle of the mountains.  Don’t get me wrong, the mountains were beautiful.  How much more beautiful without the “hello, here I am” presence of the resort? 

Amanda and I have determined we will never go out to enjoy our Thanksgiving meal again.  It seems to undermine what the day is about.  Who would have ever thought it was Thanksgiving.  Where was any resemblance of Thanksgiving, other than a commercial version of the foods associated with the date? 

We went back and pretty much watched the TV for the rest of the day.  Driving home, we were relieved to leave the situation which seemed lacking so much.

Hopefully, I can pay some homage to the day here even though the day did not provide much.

This week, I discovered I am the posterity of individuals who lived at Jamestown.  Yes, next years celebration of 400 years in America, honored even by the Queen, is directly relevant to me.  Not just through this nation, but through my ancestors who lived there.  The Clark (or Clarke) family, the Summers, Lumpkin, and Thompson groups I am all related to.  There is a possibility my Clark’s even come from the famous John Clark, who was the Master’s Mate on the Mayflower.  He had been to Jamestown before, imprisoned in Spain, made the trip of the Mayflower, and eventually made his way back to live in Jamestown.  He died not too much afterwards.  I am also a descendent of the Graham Clan who settled parts of Virginia, West Virginia, and Kentucky.  They extended into Missouri, Indiana, Iowa, and Ohio as well.  I am an American very deep in some roots.  One of those Grahams was a personal friend of George Washington, and convinced him to help endow a new school he had founded.  Yep, a Graham founded Washington and Lee.  My history includes three future presidents, universities, and other numerous recorded aids to society.

My roots expand the ocean many times.  My roots run to Wales, Ireland, Scotland, and England.  My ancestors were in the court of rulers; my ancestors even ruled parts of the Roman Empire.  My ancestors come from Sweden, Norway, and the largest number from Germany.  I have family who can be traced into Russia, Australia, and a score of other nations.  The foundations I have been given are broad and inclusive.  I am so very fortunate.  Each of us have a history which began long before we were born.

Those blessings extend beyond my family.  This nation, which has its hopes in liberty and freedom are one of the greatest blessings to me.  I am very fortunate.  It may be a weakness in many ways, but is a great boon in many more ways.  I pray for the principles upon which it is founded to continue to go to the whole earth.  I pray that those principles would be grasped by other nations and be implemented into their states.  I pray our nation might return to the principles of truth and freedom for which it is founded.

I remember the lives of those who were given for this freedom I enjoy and others do not.  Two of my Great Grandfather’s were gassed in WWI and both lived to tell the tale.  Both met painful and difficult deaths due to it.  One grandfather has purple hearts to show for his wounds and success in WWII.  The other grandfather tried to enroll, but due to health issues was not allowed to be a part.

I pray for the soldiers of freedom everywhere.  I care not what nation they represent, as long as they are there for liberty, freedom, and truth.  I pray God will bless those who represent those hopes and ideals.  That those who do not represent those ideals, or those they represent, will be thwarted in their designs.

It is with gratitude I offer my thanks to He who makes death not a fear.  I thank and give adoration to the Savior of all mankind, even Christ that we might all live again.  That despite wickedness and fear, we have nothing to fear but sin.  I express my deepest thanks for the restoration of His church back on the earth and the miracles which abound about us.  The gathering of lost nations, the restoration of Israel, the building up of the kingdom in preparation for the king whose right it is to rule.  My deepest sympathies are with the restoration and furthering of eternal purposes upon the earth.  My greatest joys and delight come from this impressive, yet almost unrecognizable effort happening in our midst.

I am pleased to have been born at this time of such great blessing.  It is with a certain hope I see the future, despite all which is prophesied to come upon us.  So much pain that the Saints will barely escape with their lives.  We have seen little or nothing of what is to come.  Nations will rise up against nations and desolation shall abound on all the earth.  Those of the order of God have not need to fear though.  This I am grateful for.  For the Priesthood which shall protect those within the covert from the storm, for the Resurrection that those who will be lost; both for their own sins and for a more full judgment upon the wicked.

Most close to home I thank for those who are dearest to me.  I am thankful for those who so deeply touch the deepest parts of my soul.  Many who are now separated from me by death, but that too shall not be for long.  My dearest wife, and all her splendor for which I am a blessed soul.  My parents who fought and struggled so hard for my upbringing and their abiding love for me. 

There is a whole multitude of souls I could reference for their influence in my life.  The more I learn and contemplate, the more I realize how intricately every soul is linked to one another.  Even years later we remember the influence of another.  There are influences from childhood, influences from events far away, and even influence from beyond the grave.

My heart is full.  I am thankful for all things. 

Newport News

A few more updates for those faithful souls who still check up on me.
We just returned from a weekend in Newport News.  That is on the other side of Jamestown and Williamsburg from us.  We did not make a stop to those historic places, but hope someday in the future.
Amanda and I went out to go to church with a friend from her class.  She is a Southern Baptist and agreed to go to church with us if we would go to church with her.  So it was a deal.  We made the trek out to Newport News and spend Saturday night.  It was good to visit her home and get to know her in her own environment.  It was a little weird for me being the extra on hand, but I did okay.  Today we went to church with her.  Sunday School was about spiritual maturity.  Which I really liked, but it was like an hour on only three verses, and the guy was becoming a little redundant.  He did comment next weeks lesson was on Melchezidek and I sure did want to be there for that one.  The Bible is very lean on its teachings of that good man, and would like to see what type of whistling in the dark they would do there.  But we will not be around for that.  The main meeting was good, it was about greed.  The church made it very evident they are not meeting their budget financially.  But the talk was still very good coming from Luke 12.
Afterward, we made our way to the Denbigh ward of the Newport News Stake.  It is one of those 80′s buildings that are a bit darker with some strange designs inside.  Oh well.  We sat down and waited for Sacrament to start.  It was fast and testimony meeting, one of those meetings you came to dread and love as a missionary.  I wondered which one it was.  Well, it was one in which you had to spend considerable time with the investigator insisting we let anyone get up.  There were some powerful testimonies, and then there was the senile old lady.  One never knows what the Lord can do with adversity.  If he really wants Amanda’s friend, Jen, to come around to seeing the light, he is going to have to overcome the attending of the Denbigh Ward Sacrament Meeting.  Sunday School went pretty well.  It was from Isaiah and the teacher did a good job.  How prepared she was I do not know as she just seemed to go through the lesson without much insight.  Even the parallels which were to be drawn, or the segue between scriptures was not present.  But, I have to admit, the spirit was present and that is what is most important.  Sacrament we just squeamed for some of the talks.  Saying all that, there was a Brother Saxton who spoke directly to Jen.  Hopefully that makes all the difference.  I had a good relaxing time in Priesthood just reading the manual in class on Redeeming the Dead from Brother Wilford.  I hear that Relief Society was about the need for Living Prophets, which seems perfect for the situation and the students.  Perhaps it will have the needed influence.  Miss Jen took all types of notes in Sunday School.  I hope these things bring up questions for her that she will realize typical Christianity cannot answer.  Afterward eating dinner, she asked what happens when we die.  It was hard to tell someone who does not believe in angels, who does not believe in a Spirit World, and who believes you go directly the presence of God (What is the point of a body and resurrection if we can go directly to God?)  Anyhow, I enjoyed the Baptist Church.  Not sure I liked the worship service, the music definitely caters to emotion.  But I liked Sunday School, except for my short squatty chair that made my bottom hurt.
We came home and Amanda and I chatted.  Jen was asking what we considered election.  Amanda started explaining our definition of being born again when I realized we needed to chat about that some.  So all the way home we discussed the doctrine of election, calling and election made sure, the more sure word of prophesy, and more of those eternal, deep, mysteries of the kingdom.  It was a good chat.  I think she realized there was a whole other side to the gospel she had not even considered.  When we got home and we talked about the General Assembly and Church of the Firstborn, I think she about fell off her chair.  She insisted nobody knows about these things.  I told her as far as I knew, most missionaries did.  I think she was surprised when I showed her a few of the many scriptures that talk about these things.  Even a few in the old testament seem so vague, but taken in this light are very enlightening.
Anyhow, it was a good Sabbath Day.  If nothing else, we have come to appreciate another religion a little more.  They are good people.  We also came to realize all is not well in Zion and every ward has things they can work on.
I thought I might share a little bit from Friday night.  Amanda and I went to a company party at the Holiday Inn down Staples Mill from us.  We went in and the first person I ran into was Neil who was very happy to see me.  He started boasting about how wonderful I was doing and what great things I was going to do.  I think he sensed I had lost some of my zeal for the company.  He asked if everything was okay.  I told him pretty clearly I did not think it was all coming up roses.  He was definitely shocked by my blow to him.  The meal was more hors oeuvres (whatever) and they gave us two tickets for drinks.  The bartender thought we were a bit weird in asking for orange juice and a sprite.  Oh well.  The music was loud, a guy who was selling me Quixtar besides us, and people trying to get us to dance.  I visited with Nicole, a girl I graduated sales school with in Raleigh.  She is in the same boat I am in right now as well.  I heard that she is doing really well from Neil.  Well, things were not as peachy coming from her.  I am glad I am not the only one who struggles here.  Andy is gone.  Monica is gone.  David is gone.  Larry is gone.  I am one of the last few.  I was actually surprised Nicole made it this far.
I went to do my check in with Ted and I caught him and Neil talking in the hall about me.  They asked for my concerns and I unloaded them.  Then Neil started to tell me I just needed to take responsibility.  Somehow I thought working in the field for two months was a certain taking of responsibility.  Especially where I have done so without training.  But now it was my responsibility to do more?  Oh well.  I did my check in and Marc gave me my route for the upcoming week.  He was oblivious to the discussions and concerns I had shared with Ted and Neil.  Who knows what tomorrow morning shall bring for me?  Will they try and train me on everything in the morning?  Will Marc be upset with me because I did not tell him?  (I honestly tried, but he just ignores me and goes on talking about whatever he wants me to do)  Will I end up walking out without starting the day.  I don’t know.  We will just have to see what comes out tomorrow.
Time for me to say good night.  I think I may send out another resume or two before I crash tonight.