Wow. Church today was just about as beautiful as it could be. I personally felt the presence of the Holy Ghost during every congregational hymn, musical number, and talk given. That beautiful spirit, often manifested by involuntary tears, continued into Relief Society (a class for our church’s women’s organization). The main theme of the day centered around gathering Israel on both sides of the veil, most specifically through sharing the gospel and doing temple and family history work.
Our Bishop made the wise remark that nothing we do in our church, whether a mission, assignment, or calling, is about us. It’s about the people we serve. It’s about loving God and serving His children. I thought about this verse:
Wherefore, be not weary in well-doing, for ye are laying the foundation of a great work. And out of small things proceedeth that which is great.Doctrine and Covenants 64:33
He also spoke about the paradox of losing verses finding our lives, mentioned several times in the Bible. Here is one version from the book of Matthew:
He who seeketh to save his life shall lose it: and he that loseth his life for my sake shall find it.Matthew 10:39 (WITH JOSEPH SMITH TRANSLATION)
The purpose of life is not just to have fun and do whatever we please for personal pleasure. Rather, it is making sacrifices of our time, talents, and heart in order to do God’s work will help us find out who we really are and who we have the potential of becoming.
The tears really flowed when our Relief Society President, Dori, got up to present her talk. Jad had sent her a very sacred experience surrounding the recent illness and death of his uncle. She didn’t have time to present her entire prepared message, but she made sure to share all of Jad’s story. That was what she felt was most important to share. There were many sniffles and tears in the congregation, including our own. Here is that story completely in Jad’s own words, written on May 16, 2021:
Due to COVID-19, My uncle William was admitted to a nearby hospital on Monday, April fifth. I would call him every other day to check on him when I am driving to work, and on the weekend I give him the chance to talk to my family. He has been asking to talk to the kids a lot lately those days. On April 17 Kamren spent more time talking to my uncle about his upcoming soccer game. at that time he took a selfie with my uncle that I did not know till later. later on, on the same day, my mother said that she had a bad dream about my uncle dying but I stopped her and I told her everything would be fine, don’t worry mother.
Mother came for a quick unexpected visit on Monday, April 19 and as soon she walked into our home she starts crying and we said what is wrong Teta “Grama in English”. your uncle William in the ICU. We all comforted her and said he is not going to die. And I assured her that he will be just fine. I didn’t think that he will die at all.
My mother left with my brother back to his house, and that night I had some bad dreams, that I was in Jordan near my uncle hospital and there was broken glass from the hospital windows everywhere, it was at unease all the time, and then I walk up to my brother calling me around at 1:30 AM. I had a feeling of very bad news. my brother said that our beloved uncle William died. I cried and cried for 2 hours then around 4 AM I drove to my brother’s home so I can be there before my mother walk up, but I soon parked by the home I can hear my mother screaming and crying from outside. I stayed beside almost all day to comfort each other.
A week later on May 1st after my mother spent the day with us, I drove here back to my brother’s home and on the way there she asked me Jad where is your uncle William now. For a moment I was wow I never thought my mother would ask me this question, I felt the spirit so strong and I took this opportunity and talked about the plan of salvation, She felt comforted knowing my uncle is still there and he is doing he learning the true gospel and eventually once his work is done in the gospel he will be helping the lord in his work. She may think this is to be good to be true but at least it makes her feel happy knowing so. In my mind what she did not ask her Brother in law or her sister who are preachers and study the religion for years or any other preacher from back home. See at one time in my life around 9-10 years old I asked my mother what are those feeling that I have about life and earth and our souls and what will happen to it the afterlife, and she did not know and referred me to the priest which he told not to think about such things, it will make you crazy.
after that on my mother said, “Jad I have not told you this, but 3 days before your uncle died I had a dream that I was at our old home overseas and I was looking for my brother everywhere and I can’t find him, then your deceased grandmother appear to me, so I asked her mother where is my brother William, and she said go ask Jad, and she repeated three times.”
That is why she asked me.
I and mandy did the work for my both of my grandparent from my mother side. and the spirit was so strong when we baptize and seal them together later.
My Uncle William was kind and charitable and very giving to all. a stranger will love and feel peace and trust him after they meet home. he was a father for us since our dad left us when we young and we forced to leave our home and live with my grandparent and our uncle and aunts.
He treated me like a son and reward me when I do great at school, took us to nice places, and taught us how to swim.
He was married late in his life and left behind a 10-year-old girl name Yara and a 12-year-old boy, Yousef “Joseph”. His kids are having a really tough time now, Mom arrived today to Jordan to comfort them.
I had several people come up to me at church telling me how touched they were by Jad’s experiences. Dori told me she felt this was perfect representation to her of gathering Israel on both sides of the veil, and the miracles that can ensue. She said Jad’s story is now a part of her life, which really meant a lot to me.
Our Relief Society lesson helped continue this beautiful conversation as we focused on the phrase, “every nation, kindred, tongue, and people.”
We spoke about each word. It was emotional for me having a husband who is from Jordan – a country that is not open to the preaching of the gospel yet. I shared that I know with all my heart that Jad was sent to the United States when he was and how he was so he could find the Church and help his kindred also embrace it when they are ready. God cares about each and every family and wishes for them to be united eternally. He will and does provide a way for that to happen.
I read over Elder Gong’s talk (the talk we discussed in the lesson) after coming home, and these words hit me the most:
Our 2020 bicentennial proclamation begins with the profoundly inclusive promise that “God loves His children in every nation of the world.” To each of us in every nation, kindred, tongue, and people, God promises, covenants, and invites us to come partake of His abundant joy and goodness…
In the household of faith there are to be no strangers, no foreigners, no rich and poor, no outside “others.” As “fellowcitizens with the saints,” we are invited to change the world for the better, from the inside out, one person, one family, one neighborhood at a time.Elder Gerrit W. Gong
Elder Gong also wisely said:
By small and simple means—in which we are each invited to participate—great things are brought to pass.Elder Gerrit W. Gong
God has been refining me over the years in many ways, and one way He has done so is by helping me see goodness in all people – to help me realize and honor that all people on this planet, regardless of choices, beliefs, circumstances, or any other defining factor, are children of God and beloved by Him. There is nobody who does not need Christ and there is nobody that does not deserve to partake of His goodness and love. We have a choice as Saints to either push others away because we don’t think they are good enough, or realize none of us are good enough, but God loves us perfectly anyway, and wants us all to come unto Him. We then take that to action through our kindness, encouragement, service, compassion, and understanding.
I left church feeling so uplifted and inspired. On the way home, I got really emotional as I was talking to Jad. I have felt for many years that God has a very special purpose for my husband. It is so clear to me just how much God has been with Jad every step of the way in his life. There have been countless direction, miracles, and interventions that there is no doubt in my mind Jad has a very important mission to fulfil on this earth to help gather Israel. I choked up as I wondered why I was chosen to be his wife – his companion – on this earth and for eternity. It was a really sweet conversation as Jad shared clear examples with me of how I had been such a crucial part of his life in helping him make the best decisions, as well as accepting him and loving him in his circumstances early on.
When I got home from church, I felt prompted to share this to Facebook:
The best tears are those that freely flow when feeling the presence of the Holy Ghost all around you. As they wet your face, they cleanse and refresh your soul.
I really felt that. But it wasn’t only thinking of Jad’s experiences that brought so much emotion to my soul today. It’s also because I feel like God has been nudging me a while on this subject. I actually got really passionate about family history a year or so ago. I loved doing it so much, but because I have been so busy and distracted with things related to selling, renting, and building homes (among many other things), I have pretty much let it go, and have felt guilty about it. I have been passionate about some good things since, but not that.
The first nudge came in early June of this year as Jad and I sat together to watch a church broadcast about supporting children and youth. The most important part of the broadcast (to me) wasn’t even the main message, but it struck me like an arrow to the heart. It was a clip of President Russell M. Nelson saying this:
These surely are the latter days, and the Lord is hastening His work to gather Israel. That gathering is the most important thing taking place on earth today. Nothing else compares in magnitude, nothing else compares in importance, nothing else compares in majesty. And if you choose to, if you want to, you can be a big part of it. You can be a big part of something big, something grand, something majestic!President Russell M. Nelson
He said “nothing else” three times! It hit me so hard. I had been focusing on several good things, but I had let the most important thing, where nothing else compares to it in importance, slip.
Then, I got two more nudges this past Friday. I was going to be able to go inside the Raleigh Temple for the first time since February 2020 (pre-pandemic) for a baptism trip. I wanted to bring family names, so I printed some female names off of my account and some male names off of my son, Casey’s account. But I couldn’t stop there. I kept printing and printing and printing names. I couldn’t help it – I just felt that there were so many ancestors waiting to receive their ordinances and make covenants with Heavenly Father. I printed as many as I could until Jad reminded me probably not all would be able to be completed that night.
Then the time came to go. I was going as an observer and helper, specifically for a new member of the church, Kourtney, who has become my good friend. I rode with her on the way to the Temple, and she couldn’t contain her excitement. I knew she was ready to be there. We walked the Temple grounds first, and I could tell that she and the other two new members (such sweet sisters as well) were so at peace looking at the temple and breathing in the beauty and peace that was there.
Kourtney was nervous about doing something wrong or not knowing what to do at first, and she made sure I would be with her or within her sight at all times. I saw a shift, though, as the baptism session went on, and I could tell she didn’t really need me anymore. She was just really loving the spiritual experience she was having.
I also loved being able to sit in the Temple and watch the youth and new converts help those who had not previously had the opportunity, to be baptized. I loved hearing names called out that I knew were from my ancestry.
As we left the Temple, there was a lasting peace and calm. I turned to Kourtney and asked her what her favorite part of the session was, and she said that as she was watching the first several young men be baptized on behalf of deceased persons, she realized that those were not just names – they were real people who had been hoping and praying for a long time that they could receive these ordinances. That rush of revelation prompted her to volunteer to be baptized next, but not before she studied each name in her hand and felt of their righteous desires. She said that she felt very strongly after being baptized and confirmed for them, that each of those sisters accepted their baptismal covenants.
I was amazed at her wisdom and I knew what she said was true. I was even more grateful because the women who she had been baptized for were all ancestors of mine.
The Holy Ghost has been giving me gentle nudges for a while now about how I need to refocus my greatest efforts on gathering Israel. That is the most important thing I can do on this earth. It’s the most important thing any follower of Christ can do. I’m grateful for those nudges as they have strengthened my testimony greatly.
I pray that I will be able to keep my sights in line with God’s will for me. I know that by doing this I will be happier and holier, and that I will find myself by losing it for His sake.
Oh Mandy, I am so thankful you shared all of this. I miss you and your sweet family. I’m so glad to be your sister and friend.
I just saw this a very long time later. So sorry, Erin! I miss your family so much too. I know God put you guys in our lives when He did for a reason!