Well, time for the reunion got closer and closer and I never got around to canceling. Finally, I told myself that I needed to do it. I went into my email account . . . . . . . . . and couldn't write a cancellation email.
Long story short, God opened the way for me to go. I got back today between 4:30 and 5:00 p.m. I'm glad I went.
(Note: it is on purpose that I am leaving out most last names in this post.)
It took us a couple of hours longer to get there than anticipated. When we got there, we were shown the room we were to stay in (in the most awesome house I have ever seen in real life!), and I crashed for a couple of hours.
Originally, I had intended to only go to parts of the Friday night meeting, and to the Saturday meeting long enough to get the agenda for the day. But it was rainy, so playing tourist didn't seem like a good idea.
Rock was the first speaker. My daughter immediately thought he would be worth listening to because of his hair (one doesn't usually find hair like that on a typical LDS speaker at any LDS Church meeting). (Pardon the quality of the photo below. I wasn't very close.)
Before Rock, a man named Jon sang "How Great Thou Art." I have never heard it sung like that (can I say "awesome" again?). It was easy to tell that this man meant every word he sang.
After Rock, a woman named Marti talked, incorporating music and song into her talk - then she had anyone who wanted to, come up on stage to dance. Too many people. Some had to wait for a second round. (There were three circles, inside each other, for the first round.)
Well, to be honest, I was torn between wanting to go up and feeling inhibited. My friends who were sitting next to me, Angelina and Daryl, convinced me to go up there with them - but we were part of the "too many." By the time the second round came, both of them had deserted me. Totally disappeared. I briefly thought about going up, changed my mind, and sat back down by my daughter. Later, I saw Angelina up on the stage, but not Daryl.
I really wish I had written all that happened after I got back to the place I was staying, but I didn't even think of it. (It would have helped me to sleep, and I would have more to report here.) Consequently, I don't remember enough about Jacqueline and Larry's talks, except that they were good and Larry has a beautiful voice (he sang a song). Tim gave the closing prayer.
After the meeting, I met Connie (Rock's wife). She is very beautiful.
I was so wired after I got "home" that I could not sleep. I felt incredible spiritual energy. I wondered how much was spiritual and how much was simply an emotional high but, to tell you the truth, all of it felt spiritual.
I spent a lot of time praying. Telling God what I wanted out of the weekend, and what I hoped for. At the time, I thought "the lodge" on the Grand Mesa was a building we could go inside, and I put a great deal of energy into what might happen at the testimony meeting there. I craved a spiritual experience on the order of angels or power from God. I was convinced that the powerful energy of so many people seeking God would bring blessings upon my head. (I did not get the experiences I visualized, but I did get something.)
The next morning, the congregation was asked to sing, "Praise to the Man," and it was suggested they (the congregation) stand. I could not stand and I could not sing the song. I had not come there to praise a man. I don't know if anyone else stayed seated and did not sing. Bret did address that after the song, to attempt to explain that he was not trying to praise men.
In the dedication prayer, the devil was cast out of the place three times. Interestingly enough, I felt all criticism and negativity leave me. (Being critical and judgmental is one of my many, many defects. Ugh.)
Then, I found out that "the lodge" was actually outside. Thus far, the weather had not been as bad as promised (by the weather services). Still, it seemed to me that it would be too cold. Ever since I nearly froze to death a few years ago, I find I have a revulsion for any really cold weather that I can avoid.
Scott spoke first and I kept thinking, "I know this man." When he mentioned that Jules was his stepdaughter, I was like, "Duh." Some of the things he said at the beginning really hit deep (in a good way).
Rob spoke next. He was adamant that the Lord had given him this talk. I was all for it after the spiritual uplift I had just tasted.
Perhaps I didn't quite get what it was he thought the Lord wanted him to impart, because what I got out of the sermon was that - even if we reached the highest level possible (like Jesus is now) - we would still be miserable. The only difference between devils and Gods is that Gods stay happy when being sawn asunder and watching loved ones being tormented. We will probably be right there in the midst of the death, disease, armies, hell, and horror promised to those who reject Jesus and His prophets instead of in a place of safety (like Zion).
In fact, his talk had such an impact on me that I began to tune out and wrote a list of some of the worst nightmares I had lived through (beginning when I was 3 years old). Then I began to write exactly what I thought of what he was saying. As I was writing, God began speaking in my mind, reminding me that a Zion person allows others to have their beliefs. Later, it came to my mind that I may have misunderstood what he was really trying to say (I don't think I did, but I could have). In any case, the Lord imparted comfort to me, and explanations.
You see, going through more hell seems more than I can bear. Back when I was around 27-28, I took an institute class on teachings of the prophet Joseph Smith. That was the name of the class. The concentration was on having one's calling and election made sure. This was in the mid-1980s, when it was still okay to teach such things.
As a result of that class, I fervently asked that my calling and election would be made sure. I liked the idea of seeing Jesus, wanted to see Him, have seen Him in dreams, but wasn't particularly interested in the Second Comforter aspect (I forget why). Little did I know that asking such a thing would call into my life trials beyond what I could bear. Ouch. (You bear them because you have no choice, not because you can actually survive or endure them.) I didn't even see the connection between the nightmares and my request until years later.
But none of my trials brought me to a calling and election. At one point, I thought I'd received it. But it is supposed to be an audible voice telling you and I've never had that, so I dropped that belief.
Well, as usual, I veer off topic. Where was I?
When everyone began to split up, we went to a store to get something we could eat (three of us) and to a chocolate store a couple of towns away (the towns are small and very close together - it didn't take long), then we went to the high school where the women were. I wasn't really very interested in that, sad to say. It was there, though, that I first heard that Candice needed prayers. (The connection between her and the online user name I knew her as didn't sink in, though.)
Then we had a little something for Meili, who is expecting a baby next month. Then my daughter and I went "home" while everyone else went up on the mesa for testimony meeting.
Still concerned that, no matter what I did, I would never have a place of safety to live, I asked God in all sincerity to please -this time- give me scriptures that apply with me just opening my quad (that happens like .0000000001% of the time I try it).
When I opened the book, I discovered that I had been holding it upside-down. Sections 125 and 127 (126 did not apply). Verse 2 of the former and verse 1 of the latter. The one was the Lord mentioning building cities unto His name so "that they may be prepared for that which is in store for a time to come." (In other words, a safe place.) The other was talking about leaving the place "for my own safety and the safety of this people."
I was also concerned that I had somehow displeased God by being too much of a wuss to go up to the mesa. Obviously, I was going to miss the great outpouring of the Spirit that I'd expected to be there (and Bret had emphasized that the Lord had wanted the testimony meeting; that was apparently the most important part of being there). And, I would miss the sacrament they were going to have on Sunday, because my daughter and I were going to leave in the morning. What a bust. Ugh.
When Meili came back from being up on the mesa, she said there was a barbecue and invited us to go. I accepted the invitation. The idea was to go there and eat a little, then go to the family dance.
Meili got the address and put it into the gps on her phone. It took us to the middle of nowhere and said, "Your destination is on your left." Nothing. No house. No driveway. The nearest houses didn't have numbers that matched.
We drove around a while, then decided to just go to the dance (stopping off at "home" so she could grab something to eat).
The dance hadn't started yet. Lisa was there. We told her we had not been able to find the place. She said she could draw a map for me and asked if I'd like her to do so. (I was the driver.) I said yes. She did, and I saw where the gps had led us astray.
The place was easy to find. Meili and I left and went to the barbecue. It was still going on.
The aforementioned Tim was there. I told him I appreciated the interview he'd done with Denver and we talked a bit.
The host (we'll call him Joseph) was very friendly to everyone. At one point, he began bringing out wine. I asked if he was going to have the sacrament. He said yes. I gave a thumbs up.
He told me that everyone who had come was supposed to be there, that he had dedicated his home before the weekend activities for those who would come. He reiterated that to the group in general.
He blessed the bread and the wine. He bore his testimony, said he'd borne it before (I'm sure he meant on the mesa). Then, more people came and we were going to run out of bread and wine, so he brought out more and Tim blessed it this time.
Joseph bore his testimony again, but a little differently.
He had not intended to have the sacrament, but felt he should do it. Tim seconded the idea (this was before we had gotten there).
A few more people bore testimony. In fact, one young man did because he was going to leave and wanted to do it before he left. But, when a young lady began telling her story, he did not leave but stayed until the end.
At the end, Tim gave a blessing upon the people who were there, then Joseph did. Before he did, though, Joseph said that for the blessing to be binding upon us, we needed to write down what he was going to say at the end. When I sought him out to say goodbye, he reiterated to me that I needed to write the words for them to be binding - that writing the words made it so that I owned them so to speak.
This is what I see: God knew I wanted to be part of the outpouring of the Spirit. He knew I needed the opportunity to be part of the power of the Spirit that was being poured out, part of the blessings that were promised, and to partake of the sacrament. That is why, when the gps didn't work for us, He made it possible for us to get there anyway. That is why He told Joseph to do and say what he did (blessing and sacrament).
There are not too many men who I believe to be prophets of God, to speak for Him with power. Denver is one. Joseph was another. At least at that time, on that day.
And I must say (yes, I must) that I was impressed with Tim. For being such a popular blogger, he is a very unassuming man. That means he does not walk around as if he is important or bloated up in pride. Very humble. Very meek.
None of the bloggers I saw there gave an aura of self-importance. They were just people. I mention Tim specifically, because his meekness and humility were so obvious to me.
And I thank both Tim and Joseph for the blessings they gave to us. I believe the Lord honors and will honor both blessings. (Tim's was short, Joseph's was long.)
And I must add a note about Candice. She died. We found out last night, while at the sacrament/testimony meeting. It sounded as if it was her time, but she leaves behind a husband and small children. Any prayers any reader wishes to offer up in behalf of the grieving family will be greatly appreciated, I'm sure. I don't know if they need any concrete help (like donations), though if anyone knows them in "real" life, hugs and tears might be appreciated.
Had I power, I would leave a blessing upon the heads of the husband and children left behind: May God bless and comfort you. May you feel His loving hand. May you have experiences beyond the veil of conversing with Candice. May you understand why this thing has happened. May God seal you His, along with this loving mother and wife.