What of the
Sharing the Gospel
From the New Zealand Auckland Mission
Joanne and I have had the privilege of know Herschel and Shirley Pedersen for many years. We love them and have learned much of value from them. The Pedersens were blessed with much success when they served in New Zealand where Herschel was mission president from 1987-90. I have never met any couple that have more genuinely warm and lovely smiles.
With a gentle boldness born of love, Herschel Pedersen has been an instrument in the hands of the Lord in helping rescue many less active members of the Church. As a young missionary, mission president, mission representative of the Twelve, and as a senior missionary with his wife, he has had similar success in sharing the gospel.
Letter to Elder Glen Rudd - Part 7
In August 1987, Elder Porter, Elder Harman, Elder Hunter and Elder Young came to open up the New Plymouth area to proselyting once again. The assignment given to us in New Zealand, is to start to unite the “Three Missions of the Church.” By using genealogy and sharing with those we come in contact with about the urgent work that needs to be done for their forefathers in the temple, we are striving to assist in preparing the people of this area for the return of our Savior Jesus Christ.
A large amount of our time since arriving here has been spent with members of the Church who are less active. For one reason or the other many families who were once strong, active members of the Church here have become less active. Many members of these families once held positions of leadership in both the Waitara and New Plymouth Branches. We have been blessed so far in being able to help a few of these families back into full activity. Through this, we hope to be able to bring their less active family members back and also their nonmember relatives and friends.
Peter Huntley is a convert to the church. He and his wife have five beautiful children. Sister Huntley comes from a very strong family of the Church. Her brother serves on the Temple View Stake Presidency. Brother Huntley served at one time in the Branch Presidency and also as the Elder’s Quorum President here in New Plymouth. We had the opportunity of meeting this lovely family and spending some time in their home discussing families, genealogy and just the Church in general. After quite a long period of time of not being active in the Church, the Huntley family is now back into full activity in the Church. As temple patrons, we hope to soon see them attending the temple regularly. Brother Huntley bore a powerful testimony of the truthfulness of the gospel this past Sunday. He will soon be baptizing his eight-year-old son.
The Bailey family in Waitara is a family that is also in the process of reactivation. Brother Bailey was once the District President here. His wife and a few of their children have been coming to Church for quite a while. Next week Brother Bailey will baptize his slightly handicapped daughter. The Bailey family will be a real asset to the Branch.
Donald McDonald has been a member all his life. His wife, Violet, has been a member since just after their marriage. They have also both been through the temple. After not being active for a period of time, they are both attending regularly with their two sons. Sister McDonald is now trying to help the less-active sisters and their families back into activity. They just recently started attending the Waitara Branch after the Ward boundaries were changed. Brother McDonald is well-respected man of the community. Through his work in the Social Welfare Department, he can be of service to many people.
Samuel Ponga has been a member of the Church for all of his life. He holds the Aaronic Priesthood and he attended Church College. I knew his family in Huntly before I shifted here and though they are all less active, they all respect Sam. His wife is not a member of the Church, but we just recently got them started on their genealogy. He has been collecting names and records for years. He expressed to us how he has just recently felt as though he needed to start compiling these records and we assured him that his forefathers were praying for his help. His wife has investigated the Church before. We hope and pray that they will come to a knowledge of the importance of the temple and be able to be sealed together as a family. As he comes back to church and as she joins, they will be able to help his less active family back and also help her family into the church.
Amy Scott was baptized in November. She is very diligently trying to find out more about her family so that she can have the work done for her ancestors in the temple. Her daughter was baptized two weeks ago while she was on Holiday here from Christchurch.
One day while we were tracting, we came upon a lady who started asking some questions about families. As we shared with her about our beliefs in families, genealogy, and the Spirit of Elijah, we, were able to start teaching her the discussions. She shared her feelings with us of how, at times, she can feel the presence of her deceased grandmother. She told of times when she feels as though her grandmother is watching her and helping her along. We told her that it was a reality and on the second discussion, we challenged her to pray about baptism. As we sat there for a few minutes in silence, she started to cry and said, “I don’t need to pray about it, I have just been told.” She will be baptized in one week.
There is a lot of work to be done here. Our hardest task has been finding people who will let us into their homes. We need to increase our efforts. The Family History Library at the chapel here in New Plymouth is now being opened to the public three times a week. We have been able to invite quite a few people along where they can get help from members of the ward who are more qualified than we are. Through articles in the paper and contacting people we are trying to spark an interest for many nonmembers. As we help them to feel the Spirit of Elijah they will have their hearts turned to their fathers and be able to hear the gospel and be sealed as families in the temple.
Elder Boyce and Elder Young are now serving in Waitara. Elder Killian, Elder Vaughn, Elder Fairbanks, and myself are in New Plymouth. We are all in the process of learning more about this program and how to present it to people. We know that as we strive to help people turn their hearts to those who have gone before them, we will receive help from the prayers of those who are praying to have their saving ordinances done in the temple. As Elders, working with genealogy has helped us gain a greater realization of the responsibility we have to redeem those in the spirit world and to be sealed to them. As we return home, I am sure our desire to attend the temple and to enter names will be increased as well as our desire to share the gospel with and to strengthen those around us. (Elder Skinner)
At one ZDM in Hamilton, we were counseled to set covenant dates by which to have people baptized. Elders Waters and Robertshaw thought that if we could do it with converts, then why not do it with inactives. There was one brother who was less active and looking into another church. He was really confused, but would not take our counsel to read the Book of Mormon and pray about it.
This brother kept coming to us with questions, but wasn’t really listening to the answers. We put his name down on a card and set a date to have him reactivated by. Due to circumstances we were unable to go around to see him and try to reactivate him.
On the Sunday morning that we had set for him to be reactivated by, I was looking at his card and thought to myself, “I don’t know what I can do to help you?” We went to church that morning, and guess who showed up? It was that brother that we set the date for and he has been coming to church ever since. I would like to testify to you that setting covenant dates does work if God wills it so. We cannot do the work alone; we must include the powers of Heaven.
One day my companion and I were teaching an investigator the second discussion. The spirit was there, but for some reason nothing seemed to be getting through. He is a very religious man and started to tell us a dream that he had had. I still don’t know if it had any religious value, but I felt prompted to read to him 2 Nephi 29:3-5 and Mormon 8:22-24. As I began to read this, a spiritual power entered the room. It touched him to the very center of his heart. After this was read, I knew somewhat of what Sidney Rigdon must have felt like after seeing the vision of the three degrees of glory, for I felt so weak that I almost passed out. Anyway, the man was so touched by what the Spirit told him that he invited us back to hear more. I would like to testify to you that the dead are praying for us and for their descendents. The powers of heaven are real and must be used for the work to go forth as it should. (Elder Richard W. Waters, Elder Mark A. Robertshaw, Elder Bryan B. Hixson)
My companion and I had been working Mahia Beach for a while when a member told us her next door neighbor was a member and wanted her daughter baptized. We started to teach her. On the fifth discussion we stayed and talked with the mum for quite a while about the temple, temple marriage and getting her husband baptized. “Joseph”, she said, “never, never my Joseph. He would never get baptized.” So we started to talk to her about having faith and praying for it to happen, and believing that it can happen. I promised her that if she would do those things, then he would get baptized. She went away unconvinced.
Because of other appointments we didn’t see her for four days. When we talked to her again we were told a story that made us jump for joy. After speaking to us she went over to her husband and talked to him about what we had said, he agreed that after six children he would get married and get baptized. Our friend, Jane, went over to the active member’s home in tears, telling her what he had said. People accused her of being pregnant because they said she was glowing with that kind of look.The Spirit had done its work and a family was touched because of it, all because of the prayer of faith. (Elder Jay Fielding Swann, Elder Joseph Bruce Olschewski)