Wednesday, June 22, 2016

The Italian Gardener

Thanks to James Ritchie for sharing - it's an oldie, but still a goodie:

An old Italian gentleman lived alone in New Jersey . He wanted to plant his annual tomato garden, but it was very difficult work, as the ground was hard. His only son, Vincent, who used to help him, was in prison. The old man wrote a letter to his son and described his predicament: 

Dear Vincent, 
I am feeling pretty sad because it looks like I won't be able to plant my tomato garden this year. I'm just getting too old to be digging up a garden plot. I know if you were here my troubles would be over. I know you would be happy to dig the plot for me, like in the old days. 
Love, 
Papa 

A few days later he received a letter from his son. 

Dear Papa, 
Don't dig up that garden. That's where the bodies are buried. 
Love, 
Vinnie

At 4 a.m. the next morning, FBI agents and local police arrived and dug up the entire area without finding any bodies. They apologized to the old man and left. That same day the old man received another letter from his son. 

Dear Papa, 
Go ahead and plant the tomatoes now. That's the best I could do under the circumstances. 
Love you, 
Vinnie

Saturday, June 18, 2016

Speechless. . . and Clueless

I don't know how many people have noticed, but I'm getting this question a lot recently: "Why haven't you been writing about this election?" A close second in popularity is: "Who are you voting for?" Forgive my rant, but I will lay it all out.

In answer to the first, my response has been, "This election leaves me speechless." And it's true. What do you say that hasn't already been said? The two major political parties have been through a bruising primary season, eventually settling for their respective nominees on the two candidates with the highest negatives in terms of popularity in modern history. Right now, I am conflicted.

Which leads me to the answer to the second question. Ask me in November who I'm voting for, because right now I haven't got a clue. The electorate is woefully fragmented. The hashtags #nevertrump, #neverhillary are everywhere. As never before, this election looms as a vote AGAINST someone, rather than FOR someone. I talk to people every day who say they will NEVER vote for Trump and NEVER vote for Hillary. One thing is clear - they are both loathed in record numbers, and apparently loved by enough to grab their respective parties' nominations. Mind-numbing, right?

You Be The Judge, Make Your Choice - November Looms

On the one hand, we have a serial adulterer, working on wife number three, the owner of hotels, golf courses, casinos, escort services, a multi-billionaire with really bad hair who has built an empire on the foundation of his father's fortune, and a newcomer to the political scene who changes policy positions like you and I change our socks in the morning.

His demise has been predicted repeatedly for over a year because he has violated every pundit's political playbook of rules multiple times.

He's managed to offend nearly every ethnic group in America on a "platform" of building a wall on the Southern border, excluding Muslims from immigrating to America, and then touting a long list of populist conservative agenda items sufficient to win over Sean Hannity, among others. And by the way, Fox News is nearly unwatchable now. He played "bimbo" Megyn Kelly like a fiddle.

He personally attacked each Republican candidate along the way. His rhetoric against them was over the top. And everyone ate up his politics of personal destruction. Apparently, while we denounce bullies publicly, we embrace a "tough guy" with our votes. In the Utah primary, I voted for loser John Kasich, the obvious "protest" vote I could find against Trump and Cruz.

Despite the deep divisions within the party, Trump went on to secure the requisite number of delegates to win the nomination on the first ballot at the upcoming Republican convention.

Give him this - he has succeeded in a tough New York real estate business where few do. Were there ethics violations involved? Probably. Were bankruptcies the result in some cases? Who cares?

Despite Mitt Romney's protestations to attempt to wreck his chances, he has survived even the most blistering attacks from inside his own party. Romney called him "a fraud," "a con man," and worse. It  didn't matter in the least. Take a principled stand against Trump and he gains strength.

His reckless abandon in making his spontaneous and seemingly irresponsible comments is somehow appealing to the voters who have stoutly supported him and rejected every one of his opponents from among what appeared at the outset to be the strongest field ever assembled on the Republican side. Now as they coalesce around him, it seems beating Hillary is enough to unite the majority at any cost.

On the other side, we have a serial politician, dishonest lawyer, driven by power, greed and amassing a fortune based upon trading influence for contributions to a specious "foundation." The list of donors and their contributions to the Clinton Foundation and the favors obtained in exchange will be fully documented before November. Who cares?

She's the wife of an inveterate and skilled politician who enabled her husband's sexual exploits, then mercilessly berated and publicly humiliated all his accusers. Some voters in this election cycle are simply too young to remember. They will get a list of particulars from her opponent, no doubt. But will anyone really care?

The list of her political scandals is as long as a career criminal's rap sheet, spanning a period of well over forty years. She makes Ronald Reagan's "Teflon" moniker laughable. Reagan was around when character mattered, and his character was so well-documented nothing seemed to stick that was critical. These days nothing critical seems to stick to the Clintons, even suspected criminal activity. In that sense she and Trump have a lot in common.

Her record is clear, and her self-inflicted e-mail server debacle of handling sensitive classified documents while she was serving as Secretary of State under the Obama administration is only the latest in that long line of scandals. Is she guilty of felonies? Who knows? What she is guilty of is poor judgment on a host of issues. And setting all that aside, this qualifies her to serve? Go figure.

Somehow, her supporters have looked the other way in their enthusiasm for her candidacy. When pressed to name even one substantive accomplishment of this woman, those who are interviewed are routinely stumped by the question.

She has been opposed by only one seemingly weak candidate - an over-the-hill and underwhelming self-proclaimed Democratic Socialist whose honesty creds are at least legit, who prolonged the primary contests to the very last voter, even longer than it took Trump to vanquish the large Republican field. And what has been his platform? That Hillary Clinton wasn't liberal enough, not socialist enough, not progressive enough.

And finally, after setting aside his bruising and prolonged opposition, Clinton has enough votes for delegates, "super" or otherwise, to become the first woman from a major party to win her party's nomination. Being the first woman in politics may be her only achievement, but it is sufficient, it seems, in the minds of many.

And, Trump-like, that accomplishment in a tough game of politics may in fact be an achievement. If an upstart Senator from Illinois can win two terms in the White House, why not her? Why not Trump? There are many who love the narrative of the first black POTUS followed by the first woman POTUS, qualifications for the job notwithstanding. Elections have turned on less. Whose resume was thinner than Obama's?

Morality, it would seem, has taken a permanent holiday in American politics. If making America great again were to include a return to morality, I would be on board with it. However, the American psyche, it would seem, now favors looking for a departure from the politics of the past at almost any price. Bernie Sanders has made outrageous proposals for socialism on steroids. Give him points for sincerity and honesty. You can judge for yourself if he's credible. However, the fuzzy math associated with how to pay for it all is mind-boggling, and yet his appeal even here in redder-than-red Utah is stunning. He turned out BY FAR the largest crowds for his rallies of any and all competitors in Utah.

One has to suspend all reason and all rational thought to suppose that his foolishness in American politics is sustainable to any degree. We are living on borrowed money, and yet there is no serious debate any more about a balanced budget. Both political parties are spending us into oblivion. Does anyone believe either Trump or Clinton will curb the spending? They aren't even talking about it. The military leaders are warning that our national debt is our biggest security threat. Oh really? You don't hear politicians echoing that warning at all. They can't even agree on whether the attack last week in Orlando on defenseless gays and lesbians that killed 49 innocents in a bar was carried out by a "radical Islam" adherent or a "deranged madman." Are we at war with the Islamic State that has sworn to destroy America, or is what happened in Orlando merely a police matter?

The sad reality for me is that we have brought our current state upon ourselves, and we have no one else to blame.

Both Sanders and Trump have struck a raw nerve of discontent that has overthrown all the conventional wisdom traditionally ascribed to politics. All the enthusiasm in this cycle has been for Trump and Sanders. Trump logged more votes in the Republican primary season than anyone in history! No small feat. He claims that's because he's added Independents and Reagan Democrats to the mix. How or if that will translate into a win in November remains to be seen.

If I take my cues from the prophetic Book of Mormon, I would not be remiss in sizing up this election as unfathomable. Likening the years preceding the coming of our resurrected Lord among the Nephites on this continent to our day, there are ample precedents to suggest things are going to get a lot worse than better. Begin your reading in Helaman 1 through 3 Nephi 9. Consider these chilling insights:

. . . they did destroy the government of the land. . .  and all this iniquity had come upon the people because they did yield themselves unto the power of Satan. And the regulations of the government were destroyed, because of the secret combinations of the friends and kindreds of those who murdered the prophets. (3 Nephi 7:2; 5-6).

There are many ways to murder the prophets without killing them outright. One of the most effective is to simply ignore their warnings. Few people I know outside the Church care much about the contents of the Book of Mormon, nor the prophets, ancient and modern, who have given specific counsel about the days in which we live.

I've abandoned all hope of coming up with a palatable scenario to my liking at this point, and remain simply speechless and clueless about how all this turns out in November.




Monday, May 2, 2016

Powerful True Story from World War II

There are many people in life who struggle with their circumstances, pondering repeatedly how hard their life seems to be in so many ways. I have a good friend, Jim Ritchie, who passes along his wisdom on a regular basis. I am fortunate to be in his e-mail distribution list. Here's a recent e-mail he sent out that I felt was inspirational, especially for folks like me who make up what later became known as the "baby boom generation" who missed the events of World War II - events that would change the lives not only of my parents, but also the lives of everyone on planet Earth. We sometimes forget it was young men who fought to preserve freedom, as this story clearly depicts. May we never forget the true heroes who died and never came home. I hope you enjoy:

True story.....

Each year I am hired to go to Washington, DC, with the eighth grade class from Clinton, WI, where I grew up, to videotape their trip. I greatly enjoy visiting our nation’s capital, and each year I take some special memories back with me. This fall's trip was especially memorable.  

Iwo Jima Memorial,
Arlington Cemetery, Washington D.C.
On the last night of our trip, we stopped at the Iwo Jima memorial. This memorial is the largest bronze statue in the world and depicts one of the most famous photographs in history -- that of the six brave soldiers raising the American flag at the top of a rocky hill on the island of Iwo Jima, Japan, during WW II.  

Over one hundred students and chaperones piled off the buses and headed towards the memorial. I noticed a solitary figure at the base of the statue, and as I got closer he asked, "Where are you guys from?"

I told him we were from Wisconsin. "Hey, I'm a cheese head, too! Come gather around, cheese heads, and I will tell you a story."

It was James Bradley who just happened to be in Washington, DC, to speak at the memorial the following day. He was there that night to say goodnight to his Dad, who had passed away. He was just about to leave when he saw the buses pull up. I videotaped him as he spoke to us, and received his permission to share what he said from my videotape. It is one thing to tour the incredible monuments filled with history in Washington, DC, but it is quite another to get the kind of insight we received that night.

When all had gathered around, he reverently began to speak. Here are his words that night:

"My name is James Bradley and I'm from Antigo, Wisconsin. My Dad is on that statue, and I wrote a book called Flags of Our Fathers. It is the story of the six boys you see behind me.  

Iwo Jima Memorial
"Six boys raised the flag. The first guy putting the pole in the ground is Harlon Block. Harlon was an all-state football player. He enlisted in the Marine Corps with all the senior members of his football team. They were off to play another type of game. A game called 'War.' But it didn't turn out to be a game. Harlon, at the age of 21, died with his intestines in his hands. I don't say that to gross you out, I say that because there are people who stand in front of this statue and talk about the glory of war. You guys need to know that most of the boys in Iwo Jima were 17, 18, and 19 years old - and it was so hard that the ones who did make it home never even would talk to their families about it.

(He pointed to the statue) "You see this next guy? That's Rene Gagnon from New Hampshire. If you took Rene's helmet off at the moment this photo was taken and looked in the webbing of that helmet, you would find a photograph, a photograph of his girlfriend. Rene put that in there for protection because he was scared. He was 18 years old. It was just boys who won the battle of Iwo Jima. Boys. Not old men.  

"The next guy here, the third guy in this tableau, was Sergeant Mike Strank. Mike is my hero. He was the hero of all these guys. They called him the 'old man' because he was so old. He was already 24. When Mike would motivate his boys in training camp, he didn't say, 'Let's go kill some Japanese' or 'Let's die for our country.' He knew he was talking to little boys. Instead he would say, 'You do what I say, and I'll get you home to your mothers.'

"The last guy on this side of the statue is Ira Hayes, a Pima Indian from Arizona. Ira Hayes was one of them who lived to walk off Iwo Jima. He went into the White House with my Dad. President Truman told him, 'You're a hero.' He told reporters, 'How can I feel like a hero when 250 of my buddies hit the island with me and only 27 of us walked off alive?'

"So you take your class at school, 250 of you spending a year together having fun, doing everything together. Then all 250 of you hit the beach, but only 27 of your classmates walk off alive. That was Ira Hayes. He had images of horror in his mind. Ira Hayes carried the pain home with him and eventually died dead drunk, face down, drowned in a very shallow puddle at the age of 32 (ten years after this picture was taken).  

"The next guy, going around the statue, is Franklin Sousley from Hilltop, Kentucky, a fun-lovin' hillbilly boy. His best friend, who is now 90, told me, 'Yeah, you know, we took two cows up on the porch of the Hilltop General Store. Then we strung wire across the stairs so the cows couldn't get down. Then we fed them Epsom salts. Those cows crapped all night.' Yes, he was a fun-lovin' hillbilly boy. Franklin died on Iwo Jima at the age of 19. When the telegram came to tell his mother that he was dead, it went to the Hilltop General Store. A barefoot boy ran that telegram up to his mother's farm. The neighbors could hear her scream all night and into the morning. Those neighbors lived a quarter of a mile away.

'The next guy, as we continue to go around the statue, is my Dad, John Bradley, from Antigo, Wisconsin, where I was raised. My Dad lived until 1994, but he would never give interviews.

"When Walter Cronkite's producers or the New York Times would call, we were trained as little kids to say 'No, I'm sorry, sir, my Dad's not here. He is in Canada fishing. No, there is no phone there, sir. No, we don't know when he is coming back.' My Dad never fished or even went to Canada. Usually, he was sitting there right at the table eating his Campbell 's soup. But we had to tell the press that he was out fishing. He didn't want to talk to the press.  

"You see, like Ira Hayes, my Dad didn't see himself as a hero. Everyone thinks these guys are heroes, 'cause they are in a photo and on a monument. My Dad knew better. He was a medic. John Bradley from Wisconsin was a combat caregiver. On Iwo Jima he probably held over 200 boys as they died. And when boys died on Iwo Jima, they writhed and screamed, without any medication or help with the pain.  

"When I was a little boy, my third-grade teacher told me that my Dad was a hero. When I went home and told my Dad that, he looked at me and said, 'I want you always to remember that the heroes of Iwo Jima are the guys who did not come back. Did NOT come back.'  

"So that's the story about six nice young boys. Three died on Iwo Jima, and three came back as national heroes. Overall, 7,000 boys died on Iwo Jima in the worst battle in the history of the Marine Corps. My voice is giving out, so I will end here. Thank you for your time."

Suddenly, the monument wasn't just a big old piece of metal with a flag sticking out of the top. It came to life before our eyes with the heartfelt words of a son who did, indeed, have a father who was a hero. Maybe not a hero for the reasons most people would believe, but a hero nonetheless.  

One thing I learned while on tour with my eighth-grade students in DC that is not mentioned here is that if you look at the statue very closely and count the number of hands raising the flag, there are 13. When the man who made the statue was asked why there were 13, he simply said the 13th hand was the hand of God.  


Sunday, March 20, 2016

Memo to Glenn Beck: No "White Horse Prophecy"

Getty
Glenn Beck at Cruz Rally in Utah, March 19, 2016


Yesterday in Utah at a political rally for Ted Cruz, Glenn Beck stepped up to the stage with mic in hand and admonished the predominantly Mormon audience to rise up and fulfill the "prophecy" allegedly uttered by Joseph Smith that someday the Constitution would "hang by a tread" and needed to be rescued by the "body of the priesthood." Memo to the people of Utah and to Glenn Beck - the informed priesthood will continue to look to their priesthood leaders for direction, not to you.

Beck fancies himself as a reliable historian, but in this instance he demonstrated his lack of understanding. He certainly didn't do his homework, or he never would have pulled out that card and played it. Or, maybe he knew full well what he was doing in the heat of the presidential campaign and was pulling out all the stops in his strident advocacy for Cruz among Christians whom he had criticized in other places for not rising up in support of Cruz. Whatever his reasons, he got this one dead wrong.

As reported by Breitbart, Beck said the following: “I want to speak to you about something that may be controversial. And it’s not something that I have said when I have been out for Ted [Cruz] and now Mike [Lee]. But it’s something that this crowd needs to hear – that Utah needs to hear. The body of the priesthood is known to stand up when the Constitution hangs by a thread,” Beck said.

“I am a convert to the Church of Jesus Christ Latter Day Saints,” he explained. “What attracted me was not only the truth of the message, but also the people like President [Harold B.] Lee and President [Ezra Taft] Benson who knew exactly who we were – knew who we were as a country,” Beck said, naming prominent past presidents of the LDS Church.

“I joined many times. What held me through was the prophesy that the Constitution will hang by a thread, and this People would remember what our Founders did. It is our responsibility to stand for the Constitution,” Beck said.

At this point, Ted Cruz and the audience gave Beck a standing ovation.

Now, before the hate mail pours in, let me make it clear that standing for the Constitution is something I believe we must do. But I guess this is what I hate most about political speeches. The ones we hear directed at Mormons often seek to blur the distinctive line between the Church and the political arena which the Church assiduously attempts to keep separate. Political speech is often drenched in emotional and often hyperbolic sentiment that crosses the borderline of fact and truth in the name of whipping up an audience into a silly patriotic frenzy that is more often than not misguided. 

I wrote about "The White Horse Prophecy" when Mitt Romney was ramping up his run against Obama in the 2012 election, and nothing has changed since my first post about it in 2010.

Most members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints have heard about something called "The White Horse Prophecy," but few understand its origins and implications.

Beck forgot to look into the most recent invocation of this specious "prophecy" when an unwise Idaho gubernatorial candidate, Dr. Rex Rammell, the Tea Party's darling, was forming groups encouraging others to study "the White Horse prophecy" in depth. Only priesthood brethren were invited and were instructed to go home and tell their wives.  

In advance of the primary election, on January 6, 2010, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (the Mormons) to which Glenn Beck belongs, was compelled to clarify the matter with this statement:

Two weeks ago The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints issued a statement regarding the so-called "White Horse prophecy" in response to news inquiries regarding comments made by an Idaho politician. The matter has received additional coverage in the news media of late and so we reiterate that statement here: 

"The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is politically neutral and does not endorse or promote any candidate, party or platform. Accordingly, we hope that the campaign practices of political candidates would not suggest that their candidacy is supported by or connected to the church.
"The so-called 'White Horse Prophecy' is based on accounts that have not been substantiated by historical research and is not embraced as Church doctrine." 
  
Rammell's candidacy did elicit some support, if not entirely because of the controversy.  In the 2010 Republican gubernatorial primary, he lost, but the veterinarian was successful in beating incumbent, C.L. "Butch" Otter in two counties and tying him in another.
  
So fast forward to yesterday in Utah. In the topsy-turvy world of national politics this year, Beck continues to fan the flames of rumor that persist that Joseph Smith purportedly said something to the effect in a private conversation with two Church members that the day would come when the Constitution of the United States would "hang by a thread," and the "elders of the Church would be called upon to rescue it."  
  
Beck needs to read this page, however, and he would learn the veracity and accuracy of the report of that conversation has always been in question because the recollections of the two men, Edwin Rushton and Theodore Turley, were not recorded in a diary by their friend, John J. Roberts, until ten years later when they were old men. Roberts first heard about it in the 1850s. As far as we know, the Prophet Joseph never taught anything like that publicly.
  
I believe the best in-depth treatment of this topic, if you're interested, is available here.  
  
It is clear there are numerous historical statements in support of the ideas expressed, but for the most part they are no better than the foundation upon which they rest -- the journal entry of a man who heard what two other men heard Joseph Smith say ten years earlier. Not exactly reliable and sound investigative journalism.
  
This isn't the first time this has happened. Besides the incidents surrounding Rammel's ill-fated gubernatorial race in Idaho, it surfaced in the presidential campaign of Senator Orrin Hatch, and then when Mitt Romney ran for Governor of Massachusetts, and then again when he ran for the presidency in 2012. Both were also Mormons (yes, Donald J. Trump, Mitt Romney IS a Mormon). However, to their credit, both disavowed the so-called "prophecy" then and so did the Church. Senator Mike Lee (R-UT) would do well to immediately disavow what was said in his presence yesterday and put himself on the side of the Church and a more accurate accounting of the history. 

Politically, it's a negatively charged idea that the Church and/or its elders and/or an elder riding on a white horse (there are many possibilities) is somehow going to swoop in and take over a contested national Republican convention in Cleveland, or eventually the federal government that needs rescuing in a time of trouble. Like most faith-promoting rumors, this one is lacking in substance when the facts are examined in depth.  
  
That we believe as a Church the Savior will return and reign as King of kings and Lord of lords is indisputable (see Revelation 17:14; 19:16 for example), but to say the Church is going to set up a replacement government before that time is irresponsible and unfounded on all fronts.

Once again, Glenn Beck fails to pass the accuracy test and reveals himself for what he is - nothing more than yet another false prophet, however well-intentioned.


Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Converting Power of The Book of Mormon

As is his custom, my father continues to write his "Heart Lines" message to his former missionaries in the California Arcadia Mission at General Conference time. Dad is now in his 95th year and continues to function well even with his physical limitations. I am happy to publish his latest missive on this page, believing it might be helpful and insightful to a wider audience:

April, 2016

At this season, Dear Friends –

- When all Mormondom is unitedly and simultaneously studying The Book of Mormon, I have some persistent observations. One pearl is that when properly approached, this amazing book has enormous powers of conversion. Without any embellishments or consultant commentary, the book’s powerful truths shine forth and are plainly evident.

Parley P. Pratt
This has always been true. In the earliest days of the restored Church, a young itinerant preacher, Parley P. Pratt, left his home for good to embark on a self-appointed mission to share the light he had received from his own personal search of the Biblical scriptures. It was the beginning of a marvelous ministerial career for him.

Amid his journeyings he paid full passage for his wife and him to travel by boat to Albany, New York. Midway, at Rochester, however, Parley had a spiritual nudge which changed his direction and his life. He wrote:

I informed my wife that, notwithstanding our passage being paid through the whole distance, yet I must leave the boat. . . Why, I did not know; but so it was plainly manifest by the Spirit to me. I said to her: “we part for a season; go and visit our friends in our native place; I will come soon, but how soon I know not; for I have a work to do in this region of country, and what it is, or how long it will take to perform it, I know not, but I will come when it is performed.” (Autobiography of Parley P. Pratt, pp. 18 – 20).

Parley went ashore and walked from village to village successfully imparting his convictions as he understood them from the scriptures. One day in his travels, a Baptist deacon introduced to him a strange and unusual book, The Book of Mormon, which made claims that were stunning and appealing to Parley. He wrote:
     
I opened it with eagerness, and read its title page. I then read the testimony of several witnesses in relation to the manner of its being found and translated. After this I commenced its contents by course. I read all day; eating was a burden, I had no desire for food; sleep was a burden when the night came, for I preferred reading to sleep.

As I read, the spirit of the Lord was upon me, and I knew and comprehended that the book was true, as plainly and manifestly as a man comprehends and knows that he exists. My joy was now full, as it were, and I rejoiced sufficiently to more than pay me for all the sorrows, sacrifices and toils of my life. I soon determined to see the young man who had been the instrument of its discovery and translation. (Ibid.)

We were assimilated into this fabric-truth during our missionary days in California, 40 years ago. The identical story-theme we found true was represented by the conversion stories we were telling in those days. I repeat it now to demonstrate that the power is still in that awesome book, which when approached with humble sincerity and desire to love and live its truths still has its capacity to convert.

On a Thursday night, far across the world from here and many years ago, another conversion story materialized, as related by Elder J. Thomas Fyans, First Council of the Seventy, at a stake conference of the LaPuente Stake on May 28, 1978.

A chance encounter on a bus between a Mormon elder and a Methodist minister unfolded. The young elder spoke of a strange book, The Book of Mormon, and the minister, a graduate of Northwestern University, went home with the book determined to prove it false. The words, “prove it false, prove it false” were riveted in his mind, challenged to do so by his seat companion on the bus.

At home that night, he said to his wife, Betty, “I’m on a special project. I want complete solitude and no food. I’ll be fasting.” He pleaded with the Lord on Friday, and he listened to the town hall clock peel off hours of the day until it struck 6 p.m. Then he returned to the elder’s apartment and boldly stated: “I want to talk about baptism, and don’t get out your flannel board. I want to be baptized now!”

Amazed, the elders phoned their mission president and said, “He’s back! What shall we do with him?” President J. Thomas Fyans, president of the Uruguay Montevideo Mission, answered, “Baptize him privately, then bring him to the mission home to see me.” Ninety minutes later the font was full and the elder baptized him.

On Saturday night, the minister phoned his wife, Betty, and announced, “I’m a member of the Mormon Church!” She laughed, unbelievingly. “It’s true,” said her husband. “I was baptized last night.” She asked so many questions and cried and cried. It was 3 a.m. before she settled down to seriously listen. It was agreed that he shouldn’t tell anyone until he reported to his superiors. So when he arose the next morning, Rev. Whitlock read in John 3:5 about Nicodemus’s visit with Jesus. He quoted that passage to his church leaders, saying, “Please study this passage, and next week I will come back and I’ll tell you the truth of this verse.”

The troubled couple then came to the mission home. Betty said, “I just can’t face our friends from our church.” They went as husband and wife into the President’s study to talk out their problems. Lunch intervened, and President Fyans opened the door and said, “I’ll not mention anything about the Mormon Church if that will make you feel better. But first, Brother Whitlock, would you like to hear the missionaries teach the gospel in the organized fashion we regularly do?” His wife, Betty, quickly answered, “You bet I would,” with her jaw defiantly set.

So the Whitlocks had one lesson taught to them every day. The plan of salvation brought happy resonance to Brother Whitlock all week. When the elders quoted 1 Corinthians 15:29, Brother Whitlock exclaimed, “Betty, I’ve wondered all my life about baptism for the dead, and they know the explanation!”

At the traditional Saturday night farewell for departing missionaries, this inspired elder tried to testify for the last time in the mission field, but he was overcome by his tears. In the presence of his converts, Brother and Sister Whitlock, he was without words. He couldn’t speak because of his joy. This was the elder, who on the bus had challenged Rev. Whitlock to prove The Book of Mormon false.

And so we say – The Book of Mormon is true! It will stand up to any scrutiny, even from those who are learned and think themselves wise, who want to disprove it.

Powerful witness also comes from Christ, himself, that the book is true (D&C 19:26), and that those who receive, read and believe the book shall receive eternal life (D&C 20:14).

Faithfully, your friend,

President L. Brent Goates