What an amazing experience!
Esther Fleece, remember that name because you will see it again. She is one of the most amazing people you will ever meet. A few months ago she was at our home talking about, among other things, her vision for the Mormon Church. My family and I were members of the Mormon Church in Mesa AZ when I was in the 1st through the 5th grade and was baptized in the temple in Mesa. I don’t remember specifics of the religion other than they were there for us when we really needed them. So I expressed my heart for the church to her at that time.
A few weeks later she called and invited me to go on this trip and I told her I would pray about it. Later I wondered why I needed to pray this was an opportunity I couldn’t pass up. I told her that if we were going to go to tell them they were wrong and we had the answer I wasn’t interested. She told me her heart was to be the aroma of Christ. Now that is something I can get behind!
The trip was so far and above what I expected it honestly humbled and amazed me time after time. On Thursday we spent the day volunteering at the Salt Lake City Dream Center. Pastor Alfred has such a passion to serve the poor and needy, specifically refugees that have come to Salt Lake from the most horrible conditions including slavery and polygamous families. We were blessed to take about 100 of these children to the zoo. In spite of the weather, 50 degrees and raining, we were so blessed. Over 90 languages are represented with roughly half of them Muslim and many do not speak English. In the afternoon we sorted donated clothes and household items. Every week they supply fresh food, clothing, and other necessities to hundreds of people in desperate need. Pastor Alfred said “feed them fresh food and they will come. Anyone can give away canned stuff we only give the best”. He was talking about physical needs but he had that twinkle in his eye that said there was a spiritual parallel. What an amazing privilege.
I was so amazed at the unity in the body of Christ in that city. Everyone was working together to further the Kingdom. To meet physical and spiritual needs. God has the right people there leading these ministries.
On Thursday night we were on our way to a high place above the city to pray when Esther received a phone call telling her that our meeting with the LDS leaders was cancelled. She was not convinced. We had prepared ourselves and God had given us such a unity in the team and a passion to be His aroma that we knew God had other plans. So we prayed until very late believing that He would bring things together. We got up in the morning and prepared for the meeting, you know the one that was cancelled and on our way to the tour of temple square the phone rang again this time saying the meeting was on!
We were met at temple square by Cody, who is in Public Affairs/Relations for the LDS church. I was blessed to really connect with him. He is a very good man. After the tour we were welcomed into the parlor of the Lion House to meet with Dr. Bob Millet (Dean, Professor at BYU), Elder Todd Christofferson, who is in the First Presidency of the 70, three other members of the Public Affairs/Relations team, as well as Rev. Gregory C.V. Johnson, director and two of his team from Standing Together who’s vision is to unite Christians for greater spiritual impact.
It was such an amazing meeting I felt as if we were with old friends. We laughed and talked about where there is common ground without ignoring the major differences in theology. I have never been in such a meeting in my life. What a great God we serve.
On Friday night and Saturday we were privileged to attend The Truth Project, an initiative of Focus on the Family led by Dr. Del Tackett. Dr. Millet attended the conference with us and I was stunned by his desire to sit with our team. I expected him to come Friday out of courtesy and then not come back on Saturday. However he was in his seat waiting for us before every session. I have such a deep love and respect for him.
On Saturday we attended K2 the church and heard a great message entitled “What does God do all day?” and then helped feed the homeless in the park before heading home.
I know that I will be back to Salt Lake City. God has birthed something in me. I’m still working it out but I am confident that God is at work and I don’t want to miss a thing!
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There are some pictures here.