September 24, 2016 – Daniel My Brother …
Verily I say unto you, Whosoever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a little child, he shall not enter therein. And he took them up in his arms, put his hands upon them, and blessed them. – Mark 10: 15-16
Now God had brought Daniel into favour and tender love … – Daniel 1:9
We became grandparents again after the arrival of Daniel Hyrum Jex on Sunday, Sep 18 to Asenath and Jeffrey Jex. As you can see, he is a big infant at 8 lbs 12 oz and 20 inches long – quite a handful for his big sister, Hazel. We are excited to attend his baby blessing in Fort Worth at the end of October.
Wanted to share a story. In a care center we rode the elevator with a nervous man who was hesitant but asked if we could give a blessing to his ailing mother-in-law. She had been transported 200 miles from Pocatello, ID to SLC for specialized help with her post-operation leg infection that had spread up and down her leg. They were a long ways from home and quite nervous. During the blessing we all could feel the spirit strongly. They were extremely thankful and happy that we happened to be there and that she had gotten a blessing just before leaving for her operation.
It’s amazing to think that we were at the right place just at the right moment to meet the man in the elevator. Otherwise he wouldn’t have met us and wouldn’t have asked for a blessing. If the young elder with us hadn’t left his apartment late because the fridge froze his eggs for lunch, or if we hadn’t been at the care center looking for a sister we knew had already left, we would not have met him on the elevator. Everything has a purpose.
September 15, 2016 – Anger and Contention are not of Me
For verily, verily I say unto you, he that hath the spirit of contention is not of me, but is of the devil, who is the father of contention, and he stirreth up the hearts of men to contend with anger, one with another. Behold, this is not my doctrine, to stir up the hearts of men with anger, one against another; but this is my doctrine, that such things should be done away. – 3 Nephi 11: 29-30
We have been in the Salt Lake City (SLC) mission for about 3 months. Transitioning to SLC was a cultural shock, like transitioning to the Philippines. We knew we would have running hot water, but we’d forgotten how big U.S. stores are! Like the Philippines, we stand out and are watched a lot. There, it was because we were light colored Americans. Here, it’s the name tag. People often come up to us saying, “My brother just left on a mission,” “I know someone else named Jex,” or “I love missionaries.”
The Salt Lake City (SLC) Mission (not to be confused with SLC East, SLC South, or SLC West Missions) is shaped like a donut with the Salt Lake City Temple Square Mission in the middle. We serve in an neighborhood called “The Avenues” with streets labeled A, B, C Street and 1st, 2nd, 3rd Ave. It’s the foothills between the SLC temple and University of Utah.
At first we thought it was a poor area because the streets are narrow and the blocks are small, by SLC standards. Many houses are old Victorian style. However, it’s quite the opposite — it’s SLC’s first neighborhood, an expensive historical district. In the Avenues about a third are strong members, previous Stake Presidents, Bishops, Mission Presidents, and relatives/children of Prophets and Apostles. We spend most of our time with the third that is not as valiant and another third that are not LDS.
Rather than focus on differences between the thirds, the residents here try to work together and have community pool and taco nights, ice cream socials, movie night at the church green, neighborhood breakfasts, and all-invited yoga classes. The photo shows the Avenues Annual Fair we attended with our son Jeremy, where five blocks were sectioned off for local artists and merchants to share their foods and wares. To make it happen everyone worked together: homeowners on the streets, nearby residents were cars were parked, the local store giving away free food and water, local hospitals and medics giving aid, and clean-up and sanitation volunteers.
They embrace what they have in common. Maybe that is why many we meet here have always lived in the Avenues and don’t want to go anywhere else. Maybe that is what we as a nation, we as a state, and we as a community should be doing.
September 3, 2016 – First time at Temple Square
This week we took Barbara for a lesson at Temple Square since her house was being remodeled. She was overcome and cried as she entered the JS building. There were so many intriguing displays and she had lots of questions that were answered along the way. She also cried when she realized that she’s live most her life in Salt Lake City and this is the first time she has been to Temple Square. She has progressed a lot the last few weeks. At first she didn’t want to visit with the young missionaries because they may try to baptize her before she’s ready but Sister Jex persuaded her to continue talking with us older ones. After the Temple Square lesson about faith, repentance, and baptism she understood a lot more and got a lot of questions answered. She has been praying and studying the Bible and pamphlets about the Gospel of Jesus Christ we’ve given her. Now she is OK with the younger missionaries. The photo shows us three and Elder Castro, one of an Elder three-some that visit around the Avenues with us a lot.
Barbara’s family has lived in SLC for many generations. Her grandfather left the church because of comments about a picture in his house. Her parents and siblings have continued living in SLC, the Mormon headquarters, but not wanting any part of it. Now that she sees what it’s all about she is pretty excited but sad that she has ignored it for so long.
She has helped us realize three things: 1) One’s actions (i.e. her grandfather) can affect many generations to come. Be careful what example you set. 2) Things right in front of us are often taken for granted or treated inferior (SLC temple & Temple Square for locals, our family). 3) Things we work hard for (i.e. traveling from WA to visit Temple Square) are appreciated more because we had to work for them.