Follow Him: A Come, Follow Me Podcast - Mosiah 18-24 Part 1 • Dr. Melissa Inouye • May 20-26 • Come Follow Me

Episode Date: May 15, 2024

Why does Mosiah 18 hold such significance? Dr. Melissa Inouye’s profound insights of Saints around the world keeping their baptismal covenants.GOFUNDME LINK FOR MELISSA'S FAMILY NOTES/TRANSCRIPTSEnglish: EPISODES/SHOW NOTESfollowHIM website: https://www.followHIMpodcast.comFREE PDF DOWNLOADS OF followHIM QUOTE BOOKSNew Testament: Testament: NEWSLETTER MEDIAInstagram: Special Announcement - Dr. Melissa Inouye - Part 100:42 Background to this week’s reading02:40 Introduction of Dr. Melissa Inouye05:21 Covenants with God07:26 Mosiah 18:8-10 - Abinadi’s words coming to fruition 09:14 Saints making baptismal covenants in Nigeria11:47 Elder Chrisofferson’s “Why the Church?”13:19 John attends a ward that speaks Spanish15:32 President Hinckley in Honduras16:46 Church History Department’s 500-word stories 18:31 A Saint in Guatemala21:06 Saints in the Democratic Republic of the Congo23:30 A Saint in Angola 27:55 John’s house burns29:54 Dr. Inouye’s ward and cancer34:04 A Saint in Rwanda35:58 Mosiah 18:9 - Personal redemption37:19 God never abandons us40:50 Dr. Inouye’s Sacred Struggle: Seeking Christ on the Path of Most Resistance43:39 Nine things to fix our culture46:58 Mosiah 18:20 - How do we create a global church?49:14 It is always 1830 somewhere51:27 The Soweto Branch57:01 End of Part 1 - Dr. Melissa InouyeThanks to the followHIM team:Steve & Shannon Sorensen: Cofounder, Executive Producer, SponsorDavid & Verla Sorensen: SponsorsDr. Hank Smith: Co-hostJohn Bytheway: Co-hostDavid Perry: ProducerKyle Nelson: Marketing, SponsorLisa Spice: Client Relations, Editor, Show NotesJamie Neilson: Social Media, Graphic DesignWill Stoughton: Video EditorKrystal Roberts: Translation Team, English & French Transcripts, WebsiteAriel Cuadra: Spanish Transcripts"Let Zion in Her Beauty Rise" by Marshall McDonaldhttps://www.marshallmcdonaldmusic.comSend us a comment.

Discussion (0)
Starting point is 00:00:00 Hello, Follow Him listeners. Before we begin this episode with Dr. Melissa Inouye, we wanted to let you know that sadly, just a few weeks after this recording, Melissa passed away from cancer. We hope this episode honors her unshakable testimony. Melissa's friends created a GoFundMe campaign to help Melissa's husband Joseph and their four children. You can find the link in the description below. And now we are happy to present Follow Him with Dr. Melissa Inouye. Hello my friends, welcome to another episode of Follow Him. My name is Hank Smith. I'm
Starting point is 00:00:46 your host. I'm here with my cheerful co-host, John, by the way, and our guest, Dr. Melissa Inouye. John, Mosiah 18-24. Mosiah 18 is one of the most pivotal chapters in the Book of Mormon. Alma the Elder, tell me what you're thinking today. Ever since Zenef decided he wanted to go back to the land of Nephi, we've got these different groups who kind of need deliverance. The storylines in here are so fascinating. The doctrine is really strong as they try to get back on track since King Noah and then get back to Zarahemla. So it's kind of a fun storyline. Yeah. I love the community that's created in these chapters. Dr. Inouye, what are you looking
Starting point is 00:01:33 forward to today? I know that when you and I discussed this earlier on, you said, Hank, this is one of my favorites. For me, this is one of the kind of pivotal chapters or passages in the whole scriptural canon. As Latter-day Saints, we have this unique idea of what baptism is, which is informed in large part by this chapter and by the description of the people and the church. The passages talks with such affection about the waters of Mormon, like this place that was so beautiful, the people, just because of what they did there. All over the world there are places like that, Waters of Mormon. You know, places where people were baptized, places where people came
Starting point is 00:02:11 together for the first time. I work in the Church History Department and we have a whole division dedicated to historic sites, so you know, famous places. A lot of those sites aren't famous, they're just famous kind of locally to the people who know what happened there They're really special there. So love this Chapter 18 in particular and this larger section in general We are looking forward to learning from you today and having a lot of fun John dr. Inouye has never joined us on our podcast before, but she comes highly recommended by her peers. Can you introduce her to our listeners?
Starting point is 00:02:50 Oh, I would love to. And I think for those who are watching today, they're saying, oh, she's on Come Follow Up sometimes on BYUtv. We're so glad to have Dr. Melissa Inouye. She's a historian, as you said, at the Church History Department, and a senior lecturer in Asian studies
Starting point is 00:03:05 at the University of Auckland. And I wanna be careful, my former companion, Elder Burgess, wants to make sure I say this right, Auckland, New Zealand, the University of Auckland. She's the author of numerous books, including A History of Christianity in Modern China, published by Oxford University Press. And she's got a couple of recent books, Every Needful Thing, Essays on the Life of the Mind and Heart,
Starting point is 00:03:29 and Sacred Struggle, Seeking Christ on the Path of Most Resistance. What a great title. Melissa, thank you for being with us today. It's such a pleasure. Thanks for having me. I have to ask real quickly, Melissa, as someone goes to read your name for the first time, I-N-O-U-Y-E, what have you heard? How do people read my name? Yeah.
Starting point is 00:03:53 E-N-O-U-A. You know, it's not their fault. It's a weird Romanization that was used at the early 20th century. But since then, it's much simpler. It's I-N-O-U-E. The Y gets in the way and people are like, what do you do with the Y? You don't actually do anything with it. I can't imagine you a substitute teacher in school going, oh no.
Starting point is 00:04:18 Well, actually, this is very significant for our topic today because I would like to talk about the global histories of the church. And so often we have these records that have problems because they were being kept by people who didn't speak that language natively, like missionaries. And so we'll have all sorts of different names and different spellings. It can be quite hard to find people in the archives. The work that the church has been doing in the church history department to kind of bring out those better sources and the kind of original voices of Latter-day Saints is really inspiring. And it brings to mind all the time for me just seeing Alma is gathering the church and forming
Starting point is 00:05:03 a really intentional church community for the first time. That's happening all over the church. My friend, Tonalyn Ford, the church history department says it's always 1830, similar in the church. And that's the same thing for the Book of Mormon as well. For someone, there's always the Waters of Mormon. I love that. Let me read from the Come Follow Me manual. And then Melissa, let's see where you want to go with this. The lesson is entitled, We have entered into a covenant with Him. And it opens up with this, the account of Alma and his people in Mosiah 18 and 23 and 24 shows what it means to come into the fold of God. When Alma's people were baptized, they made a covenant
Starting point is 00:05:43 with God to serve Him and keep His commandments. While this was a personal commitment with God, it also had to do with how they treated one another. Yes, the journey back to Heavenly Father is individual and no one can keep our covenants for us, but that doesn't mean we are alone. We need each other. As members of Christ Church, we covenant to serve God by helping and serving one another along the way, bearing one another's burdens. Alma's people definitely had burdens to bear, just as we all do. And one way the Lord helps us bear up our burdens with ease is by giving us a community of saints who have promised to mourn with us and comfort us just as we have promised to do for them. This is close to my heart when you start
Starting point is 00:06:25 to think of those who have lifted you along the way, those memories come flooding back. With that, Melissa, where should we go? Should we jump right in? Do we have some background we want to do? Well, if we start right at Mosiah 18, we are jumping right into that story. Before the chapter we had a kind of a downer which was that Abinadi sealed his words with his own life. But then in this coming chapter, chapter 18, we have a sign of the seeds that Abinadi planted coming to fruition. So Alma was a priest who believed Abinadi and who went about teaching what a Binedi had taught.
Starting point is 00:07:07 And not only did he teach, he was widely listened to. People began to gather around him. They began to form a community. And we have this beautiful scene in chapter 18, verses 8 through 10, that's kind of a key to this covenant that we're discussing today. Should we shake it up? Does someone else want to read it? Okay, Mosiah 18, starting in verse 8. and to be called his people, and are willing to bear one another's burdens that they may be light, yea, and are willing to mourn with those that mourn, yea, and comfort those that stand in need of comfort, and to stand as witnesses of God at all times and in all things and in all places that you may be in even until death, that ye may be redeemed of God and be numbered with those of the
Starting point is 00:08:02 first resurrection that ye may have eternal life. Now I say unto you, if this be theemed of God and be numbered with those of the first resurrection that ye may have eternal life. Now I say unto you, if this be the desire of your hearts, what have you against being baptized in the name of the Lord as a witness before him that he have entered into a covenant with him, that you will serve him and keep his commandments, that he may pour out his spirit more abundantly upon you." This is such a beautiful scripture. At the end of verse 10, it says, baptism is a witness that we have entered into a covenant with the Lord. The content of the covenant is expansive, right?
Starting point is 00:08:36 It's kind of laid out in 8 and 9. What I think is beautiful is that we have both this vertical covenant team with the Lord, but the covenant also involves these horizontal connections to others, to be one people, to bear one another's burdens, to mourn with those that mourn in comfort, those that stand in need of comfort. I see it as this really kind of beautiful tie between, you know, what's in heaven and what's on earth. What's really beautiful are stories of Latter-day Saints everywhere who are entering into this same covenant. So this is beautiful picture of the first baptisms in Nigeria. People have been pleading for the church to send missionaries and to have formal church organization for decades. Shortly after June 1st 1978 when the church's policies regarding racial restrictions
Starting point is 00:09:30 on priesthood changed, then members in Africa were able to organize officially and there's this beautiful picture which you can see showing this long line of people waiting to be baptized in this spot in the river. Such a beautiful, peaceful place and this feeling that like we've waited long for Thee. That leads to this big question. Well, I think it's a big question. When we do missionary work, you know, we're like, go out there and convert the whole world and bring them all in. We kind of have this idea that people are gonna, the missionaries will go out there and find a bunch of people and then those people all be kind of just like us. They'll all be like the
Starting point is 00:10:15 church that we recognize. But actually when missionaries go out into the world with a ton of different kinds of people, different political views, cultural views, views on honesty, views on marriage, views on charismatic experiences like whether angels or spirits appear to people nowadays and so on. So much difference and then people come into the church, they come in as they are. We are then in a covenant to bear their burdens. Also, if anyone can think of someone in their local congregation that they find hard to get along with, you don't have to say it out loud or anything, but you just imagine someone in your neighborhood, a congregation who is hard to get along with, and then imagine how that is on a worldwide scale.
Starting point is 00:11:04 So many other personalities that are really hard to get along with. Just in terms of where we come from and what our different expectations are, I find this covenant in this scene so universal and also so intimate because in order to understand people, to mourn with them, you have to know them and to comfort people. You have to have love in your heart to give to them for comfort. I was thinking of people in my ward community that our personalities are so different, it's difficult to get along. And if you can't think of anyone, by the way. It might be you, right? That people can't get along with. But, John, I think it was Elder Christopherson, right? That we brush up against each other with our idiosyncrasies? Yeah. He gave a talk called Why the Church in 2015. And he said one of the purposes of the church is to facilitate the application of divine doctrine.
Starting point is 00:12:08 We learn about forgiveness and repentance and now we get to experience it with each other. But in the talk he said we come up with each other's idiosyncrasies and then he said, or as President Packer used to call them, our idiot synchrosies, if you remember that. That's exactly right. There can be friction there, but that's not a bad thing. Yeah, this question of come into the fold of God and be called one people and to bear one another's burdens. What does that even mean, you think, in a church where we're global, we exist in different parts of the world, maybe you'll serve a mission to one country, but then what does it mean that you don't know
Starting point is 00:12:51 everybody? In the early church, for example, we see they went through some really hard times and we'll see times when someone will say, Jane Manning James gave me some flour, which is about half the flour that she had left, and I was able to feed my family. So those were face-to-face relationships. But do you find it hard to identify with saints who are not in the same country, who don't speak the same language, who you don't see all the time? My wife and I were in Texas going on a trip on Sunday, got on the church's website and found a ward
Starting point is 00:13:26 to go to and we ubered our way there. And it didn't take us very long to figure out it was a Spanish speaking ward and neither one of us speaks Spanish. But I was thinking about this discussion and thinking how at home we felt and how many happy smiles we saw and how many extended hands with handshakes and I love this, what you emphasized, this group. The things that he says in verse 8 about being God's people, we didn't get to converse very much with anybody but I just felt so at home.
Starting point is 00:14:06 Now that's super. It's an incredible feeling when you can go into a meeting and not speak the language and just feel totally at home. So then I just push you on this a little tiny bit. Would you know how to bear the burdens of the people in that ward as well as in your own congregation? Probably not. I would need to know the people. We were listening to the talks. They were expecting some sort of cold front to coming through. And for us, we were kind of laughing because their cold front meant they'd be in the thirties. In Salt Lake City, we go well below the thirties during the winter, but they were talking about food storage and does everybody have enough of this? It was a very practical sacrament meeting and we were watching on Google Translate to see what these talks were about, which was amazing to see what they were about.
Starting point is 00:14:54 But yeah, they were looking at something that we've dealt with a lot differently than we were. I can see what you're saying. How do I help them when I don't even know them and what their trials are the same way? I know what my community of saints trials are. And it's so tricky because as the church gets bigger and bigger, that's the reality for all of us. We have our local communities, our local wards or branches, people we know well, and then beyond that are people that we don't quite know as well. I think it's
Starting point is 00:15:24 a huge challenge for us in the 21st century, coming to terms, getting a grip on what it means to be a global church. Yeah, one thing that came to my mind, I remember being a teenager and watching President Hinckley go to, I think it was Honduras, after an earthquake or a hurricane, and watching him grab a mop, right, and clean the church. And here's me, who hadn't left Utah very often. I remember being impressed by that, about how, wow, there's people all over the world that need help. And then today, with different social media, I can become friends with or follow Latter-day Saints in Africa,
Starting point is 00:16:07 in the Philippines, in Asia, and I get to at least get a glimpse into the struggles and what their lives look like every day. So it's getting a little bit easier to understand even though we're far from truly understanding. Yeah, I think so. It's really exciting actually. The Tabernacle Choir has this new program where they'll have guest singers from around the world come in and sing at conference with the Tabernacle Choir. That's fantastic. And I think again, an attempt to kind of help all of us
Starting point is 00:16:39 get a grip on what it means to be a kind of global congregation, global community. Melissa, give us a little bit of your background then. Where do you collect all these stories? At the Church History Department, I'm in charge of the global histories. They are the Church's short 500-word or less stories of Latter-day Saints all around the world. The great thing about being 500 words or less is that you could use a whole story in its entirety in a talk, in a lesson. We also found out that none of Jesus' parables were longer than 500 words. So we feel like it's a good story length. It's good enough for Jesus, it's good enough for us.
Starting point is 00:17:22 I like that. What's really interesting about these stories is they let us know that for a long time the church was founded in the United States but even from the very beginning it's depended very heavily on people from outside the United States. So for example at the time of the Nauvoo, the end of the Nauvoo era, when people were beginning to gather and to go west, there were far more Latter-day Saints in England than there were in the United States. In those early days, you know, we had Saints from Wales, from Scotland, from Scandinavian countries, and they really also made a mark on the church. My
Starting point is 00:18:05 ancestors, my grandparents, are from Gunnison, Utah and that's in Sanpete County. And in Sanpete County there's like still a pretty heavy Scandinavian influence. It comes from people's last names like there's you know Christiansons and Johansons and but it also comes through kind of like in the local culture and like the local treats. They still have Swiss days in some Latter-day Saint communities. And then the church outside the United States has often affected the church inside the United States.
Starting point is 00:18:37 So for example, there was this woman in Guatemala in 1942 and she was playing ping-pong at this ping-pong place and a friend called her over and says, hey Carmen, come here, this gringo wants to meet you. She said in Spanish and she says like, why in the world does a woman have to go to a man in Spanish thinking that he wouldn't understand? She said, if he's a gentleman, he can come and meet me. And so then he like walked across the room and replies in perfect Spanish, where in the world have you been? And after that, they like began dating. Eventually got married and Carmen joined the church.
Starting point is 00:19:17 She was actually the first member to join the church in Central America. And she noticed some things as they were trying to implement the church in this new place. People from indigenous communities were coming in a long way, coming and driving for hours to attend these different meetings which were on different days like primary, Sunday school, sacrament meeting, and so on. She's like, this is just not working. In the 1970s then, there now kind of an established Latter-day Saint family, Carmen came up with a number of ideas which she suggested to leaders at church headquarters, like could we have a
Starting point is 00:19:52 consolidated meeting schedule? That was a three-hour block which was then piloted in Guatemala. That way people can come in, make that long journey only once. And can we have smaller meeting houses? We don't have to have these massive meeting houses that cost a lot of money and look like they come straight out of bountiful Utah. We can have smaller meeting houses that fit the needs of our people here. Those kinds of things. Also, the simplified Sunday School lessons, which we now call Gospel Essentials, that was also a Carmen O'Donnell idea. As the church becomes this more global church and grows, we all influence each other. It's not just this flow of culture and influence from the United States outwards.
Starting point is 00:20:33 It's like the whole world is kind of mixing up and flowing in together. And I love that because I think it really exemplifies the kind of horizontal movement in these verses, come into the fold of God, be called his people, and are willing to bear one another's burdens that they may be light. Sometimes if something is a burden for people in Guatemala, maybe that's a burden for people in other places too. Maybe we can change this. There are some macro level changes that have happened. And then also,
Starting point is 00:21:06 I think another trend that we've seen in the church is adaptations to local situations. So, for example, in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, where I visited the church once, I noticed that Sunday school, like the Sunday school classroom was like underneath the mango trees. It was a great classroom and a great place to have that gathering, but it didn't have to be in a building. In the Relief Society room or something. Yeah, that's the beauty of the Global Church is you see all these different ways that people are trying to fulfill their covenants. We also see different ways that people are living the gospel. When was it that they
Starting point is 00:21:43 announced that there are more members outside of North America than within North America? I believe that was February 1992 or maybe 1994. Yeah, it was a long time ago. I suppose those trends are continuing. Yeah, ever since then there's been more members outside North America than inside North America. The fastest growth is taking place in Africa, though currently that's still only about a small single-digit percentage of our membership. A lot of French speakers too in Africa. That's what I've heard. Is most of the church speaking Spanish? Is that a fair statement? The most spoken language in
Starting point is 00:22:24 the church is English. After that I believe it's Spanish. After that I believe it's Portuguese. If you get English, Spanish, Portuguese, you get about 90% plus of the entire church membership. It's actually impressive that we invest the resources that we do in trying to get German and Russian and Chinese and Thai and all of these different languages. We're really trying to be a global church. Something standing out to me is you're telling us these stories and that is the simplicity of Mosiah 18 of what it means to be a church community.
Starting point is 00:23:05 We don't get a lot of the complicated policies that you might need to run a global church, but what are we really about as a community? We're about mourning with those who mourn, comfort those who stand in need of comfort, bear one another's burdens, and stand as a witness of God. If you took a church community and they did those things, you're gonna be successful. Okay, another story talking about Maria de Silva. She was pregnant with her first kid when they fled from Angola and went to Portugal as refugees. They lived in Lisbon for a while and got on their feet, got jobs and had a new life.
Starting point is 00:23:48 During that time, decades in Portugal, Maria kept on having dreams of herself and something churchy in Angola. So like she dreamed about Spencer W. Kimball, two sister missionaries and herself somewhere in Angola. Or she dreamed about another missionary and herself in Angola. So she kept on dreaming about herself in the church, so she decided to go back to establish the church there. So she filled up her suitcase with manuals from the Lata Awards building and brought
Starting point is 00:24:21 all the manuals to Angola. And when she got to Angola, she started holding meetings in her house. So people would come to her house. They would worship. They would sing. Maria taught all the lessons. She taught primary. She taught Relief Society. She taught priesthood. She organized a choir. They were singing hymns, Latter-day Saint hymns. Finally, like in 1992, I believe, a general authority was passing through Angola and was just astonished to see this group of 100 Latter-day Saints meeting in Angola.
Starting point is 00:24:53 They met him at this for a conference at this hotel and the choir was in these special choir shirts and skirts and everything. And she had told all the men to wear an undershirt. So at first he thought they were all members because he thought they were all wearing garments. Endowed. Just kind of funny. Yeah. He was astonished that they had so many people. He said, wow, will you please organize a church in Angola? She's like, can I do that? He's like, yeah. He gave her a blessing. He said, this is a very solemn and sacred process. We don't go
Starting point is 00:25:26 in through the back door. We don't give bribes. Maria set out and she prepared all the paperwork with help from the area office in Johannesburg. All the paperwork was required to get the church officially registered with the government. And that would make it subject to civil protections, to religious freedom protections, and so on. They'd be allowed to meet officially and be recognized as a legitimate group in Angolan society. She gets the papers together and the day comes when she's ready to take the papers right at this time. Unfortunately, there's this huge flare up in violence that becomes known
Starting point is 00:26:00 later on as the Halloween Massacre. And in the course of three days, about 20,000 people in the capital of Luanda where she lives are killed. They're fighting in the streets, people go house to house pulling people out of their houses, some people just disappear. In the midst of this huge civil unrest, you know she doesn't know how long it's gonna last, she takes the papers, there's no postal system, and she marches from her home to the government building and as she's walking there all along the road she's walking past the bodies of the dead. So she goes to the government office and she says, here's the papers
Starting point is 00:26:35 that the Church of Jesus Christ, we need permission for the church to operate here. And the government official says, forget it, you got to get in line and it could take a long time. And she's like, well, you know, I need these now. Lady, people have been waiting for this. Some people have been in line for 20 years. She says this little prayer to God. So they know, what should I do?
Starting point is 00:26:56 And God says, I'm better than all of them. Go ahead, submit the papers. So she's like, okay, here, here's my papers. And she turns them in. And then it turns out about two weeks later, there's this announcement from the government, which is that all of the religious organizations that were waiting for approval have been approved. So we don't know exactly what's going on behind the walls of the bureaucracy in Angola, but we know that Maria's story and her courage played a role
Starting point is 00:27:26 in a 20-year wait becoming a two-week wait. And it blessed not only the Latter-day Saints, but just all the people who wanted to worship God in that country. Hank, you were talking about how simple the church community can be. I think in that story of Maria da Silva and the congregation that she brought together in Angola and then like brought into legal existence as well, it really shows us how it's not that complicated. We just have to have people who are joined together in love. John, has it been 10 years now that you needed your ward to come to your rescue? You were serving as bishop and you went to what a Pinewood Derby? Yeah, you've got a good memory. I was sitting right here at this desk and I got on the intercom and
Starting point is 00:28:12 said, hey, what time is Pinewood Derby? And then I checked online. Oh, it's right now. Everybody get in the car and I should have walked past the stove, but I didn't. My kids had been watching Food Network and wanted to see if they could deep fry chicken wings. I should have checked the stove. I'm not throwing my kids under the bus. I'm the dad. I should have looked at the stove. But a little while later my first counselor called me and said, Bishop, you've got five fire trucks in front of your house. What's your garage code? Long story short is this ward family showed up people coming in and taking things out of the house to secure them and put them in a safe place. Somebody found my suit, took it to the dry cleaners, my Luskorn present
Starting point is 00:29:02 running around with a clipboard. And I could overhear this, who's sitting in Bishop's driveway from 2 a.m. to 4 a.m.? I'll take that. It was amazing, Hank. People handing us money, people taking care of our kids' missions. And then you walk into the chapel and you don't know who to thank, but you just love everyone because they are serving, they are helping us bear our burdens. It was an amazing experience where I fell in love with my ward family. That took a while to rebuild.
Starting point is 00:29:35 Nine months. A little bit of a charred house. Yeah, it was a lot of smoke damage and that was the most amazing thing that happened was my ward family. I just thought, wow, this was a very Zion thing that just happened here. And it was humbling, extremely humbling to see how people were willing to help a neighbor. Well, that reminds me of a time when our award really came through for us. So I've been a cancer patient since about 2017. At every kind of wiggle in my
Starting point is 00:30:07 family's path, you know, our wards have always been there to help us. Most recently, we were on a family vacation in the summer. That was last summer. We came back, it was late at night, and I noticed that there were bark chips leading up to our front gate and we had never had bark chips there before. We're also like in the middle of some summer landscaping so everything looked kind of weird. I was like, that's weird. I like walked in the bark chips and I opened the door into the backyard and our ward had gone through our crazy overgrown garden. The raspberries reaching
Starting point is 00:30:47 everywhere and snagging everywhere. They tied them all up, they pruned them all back, they had put down barge chips between the paths of the garden beds, made it this really beautiful peaceful space. I do a lot of outdoor yard work and I was just calculating in my mind the number of wheelbarrows of barge chips that would have been required for this and I was like whoa this was like a multi-day task with like a lot of people they tried to remain secret we figured out who some of them were but it's just like you said John sometimes you you don't know and you don't know how to say thank you and then that makes
Starting point is 00:31:20 you feel bad because you can't like repay it in the kind of personal way but you can keep putting things into the universe that are good and that's why I have this cough there's like something pressing on my diaphragm or something is really annoying so sorry please don't apologize seven eight years being treated for cancer yes a long time it's getting really old actually. It's getting really old. I think our listeners would love to hear how others have helped you bear that burden. That is a heavy burden. Well, when I've had, you know, big surgeries, my family members of the ward have always come and helped me. I think it's also just really important. I mean, sometimes you can't take away pain from someone,
Starting point is 00:32:14 right? Let's just, you just can't do it. What I think the next best thing is just to be a witness, to just kind of sit with them and say, this is really hard. And then it gives the person who's in pain or who's going through a hard time. Just that recognition, you know, yeah, I'm making this up. This is a real challenge and you're tackling it. So I think that's really helpful. People who have cancer often talk about how their friends kind of vanish. That hasn't happened to me, but I think it's because people just don't know what to say anymore.
Starting point is 00:32:51 They feel like it will be awkward. They don't know what to say. They don't know how to help. And so they don't come. powerful to have people come and just say, this is really hard for you. And you say, it's really hard. And they say, it looks like it kind of sucks. And you're like, yes, it sucks. And it's just nice to have someone there with you that way. I mean, I think that's why Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane asked the apostles to come to witness. It was hard for them. But I think that's what He wanted. He didn't want to be alone during that time. Very beautiful. Very, very touching. And we're grateful you made the trip to be with us on Follow Him. We have listeners all over the world who you're helping to bear their burdens with what you're
Starting point is 00:33:52 teaching us today, at the same time struggling with your own heavy burdens. It's a beautiful thing, this church community. I really think it is and what really helps me also is when I think I have problems I think my life is hard and then I'll read some stories of fellow Latter-day Saints who are just have shown so much strength and fortitude in the face of this unimaginable difficulty that I'm like actually Melissa like stop whining you know get over it for example in Rwanda during the Rwandan genocide there was a young girl named Agnes Tua-Ger-Maria and she was about 11 and she saw her neighbors
Starting point is 00:34:37 slaughter her parents her siblings and a bunch of her cousins. She grew up with this horrible feeling of depression and this anger in her heart and she said she just didn't have any peace which you can totally imagine why. She kind of struggled through it and later on she was a student at the university and her cousin had become a member of the church. So her cousin asked her to come with her to church and so she went with her to church. And she just loved the people. She found it to be a really warm and welcoming community and she said they behave like children of the Lord. So she eventually joined the church
Starting point is 00:35:20 and eventually was able to get a temple recommend and to go to the Johannesburg temple to be sealed to her family members who had been killed during the genocide. And she said that encountering the gospel of Jesus Christ gave her the ability to forgive the people who had done this to her family, and that forgiveness brought her peace. So, inspiring to me that we're part of a community of people who have gone through really hard things all over the world, and we can learn from each other that way. Yeah. I'm struck by verse 9, where Alma teaches where we do all these things. We bear one another's burdens, we mourn with those who mourn, we stand as a witness of God, and then there's this phrase after this list that you may be redeemed of God. So at least
Starting point is 00:36:18 in these verses something that leads to our own personal redemption is blessing each other's lives. There's something redemptive for me personally when I go and serve and help and bless and uplift my church community and even the community at large around me. Yeah. It's like a list of qualities that are the opposite of what's described in another Book of Mormon passage are the opposite of what's described in another book of Mormon passage on the natural man. The natural person, I'll say to be inclusive of me as a woman. The natural person is an enemy to God, says the scripture, because, you know, we're selfish,
Starting point is 00:36:57 we're heart-hearted, we only want to do our own thing, we don't want to listen to God. And here in the scriptures, we have kind of opposite thing. People are not going off as lone wolves. They're coming together. They're not being selfish. They're burying one another's burdens. And they're all together to witness of God, as opposed to pretend that God doesn't exist. Melissa and John, also you can answer this question. Why do you think there's a difference, at least there seems to be in these verses, a difference between bearing someone's burden,
Starting point is 00:37:32 mourning with someone and comforting someone? You could say those all together as one construct, help each other, but he seems to delineate between these items as if there's differences between them. Do you see any differences? I think you said earlier, sometimes you just need to sit with someone, perhaps trying to comfort them. I see levels of intimacy in that tier. You could think about, for example, some people sometimes say that being a member of the church is just like being a member of a moving collective. We do plenty of like physical
Starting point is 00:38:07 labor in the church where we help people move, we clean out houses that have been destroyed by hurricanes, we bring food to each other. It's even more intimate to mourn with someone. To mourn with someone you have to, I don't know if you have to know the person you're mourning with, but I, you have to, I don't know if you have to know the person you're mourning with, but I think you have to know about their circumstances and put yourself with them in that really dark place. And then to comfort those that stand in need of comfort, I think of like a hug or physical touch.
Starting point is 00:38:40 And, you know, you don't do that to everyone. You have to know people first. Someone tell Brad Wilcox that you got to know him before you hang out with Brad before yeah maybe giving that menu of examples hits the ways that we do things like there's physical service or practical service, finding solidarity with people that are mourning, and then last of all, comforting people. That's quite intimate. You have to really know someone in order to be there in that space with them. Sometimes we want to comfort we don't know how, and I love the example of Job's friends who sat with him, just were there. When they started to open their mouths, it got worse because they tried to start explaining,
Starting point is 00:39:32 I think God is doing this or, oh, I think God is doing this or, well, actually, I think God is doing this. And that's when it got worse. Right, right. They should have just kept their mouths shut. Yeah. Sometimes just being there is comfort. Just being there, maybe that's also part of what it means to stand as a witness of God at all times and in all things and all places, because most of the time we don't see God.
Starting point is 00:39:58 God's presence isn't something that you can easily observe in the environment. I think at times when you're going through a really hard thing and you feel like you've been abandoned by God, when there are a bunch of people around you who share that faith in God, they in a way, I'm not saying they're stand-ins for God, but they're witnesses for the reality of that power and that presence and that love. Wow. That is fantastic.
Starting point is 00:40:32 I've never thought of it that way. Someone's thinking, I've been abandoned by God and the fact that my friends are standing there, that's a witness that God is still with me. Because he sent them. That's a beautiful insight. Now, John, Melissa did not ask me to do this, but I was looking at her book that you mentioned earlier, Sacred Struggle, Seeking Christ on the Path of Most Resistance. I was quickly looking at some of these reviews. Melissa, even in her book, here she is dealing with cancer, she writes this book. Here's what one reader said, I don't know why I picked this book to read other than to provide
Starting point is 00:41:17 a balance to other books I read. I'm a bitter member of the church who still attends church and is trying to navigate how it fits in my life. I'm struggling spiritually, physically, emotionally, and mentally, and I found so much to love about what Melissa shared. I love and embrace what she shared about how to still be part of this church, embrace diversity, foster inclusion, and follow Jesus' path. I'm inspired to be better, to move forward rather than stagnating in the indecisive stalemate
Starting point is 00:41:55 I found myself in. I'm inspired to approach my struggles with less resistance and with a more outward-focused how can I find growth and strength that will support others in this struggle approach? Wow. Yeah. That is a beautiful testimony to that Melissa is living what she's teaching here. It's always hard to read your own books and where you're saying like the struggle is sacred stop complaining you know embrace it when when you're having a bad day but I think we're allowed to do that too a lot of my life has been really idiosyncratic I guess since we already use that word earlier on I have lived in a bunch of different places and
Starting point is 00:42:42 had a bunch of weird health conditions and I've experienced church in a bunch of different places and had a bunch of weird health conditions And I've experienced church in a lot of different places as well What often happens? especially with younger people is that when younger people are looking at the church as an institution and as a global community if you will and wondering like is there a place for me here? They often make that judgment based on the political and social and cultural values of their place. And I'm not saying that we're completely shaped by our environments and no one has any agency and no one can ever think their own thoughts or whatever.
Starting point is 00:43:26 But we do know that where you grow up has pretty significant impact on your experiences, which has an impact on your ideas about the world, your assumptions, your politics, everything. A lot of times I see people who are struggling with the church because they want to be like Christ. They want to be part of a global community that follows Christ. And they see that some of the church's institutional policies look to them from their political cultural perspective as they exist on a spectrum, on a political spectrum. And sometimes they're conservative. Based on that kind of political morality, developed post-industrial countries often tend to have more liberal views than
Starting point is 00:44:13 the previous generations. Like just imagine, like think about like, you know, your political platform in your head, whatever it is, everything that you would do if you were put in charge of America like here's America fix it do like nine things nine things so everyone would have different platform but what is the probability that you would be correct that like what you wanted and what you thought was the best was indeed what 300 million people America needed. The probability is pretty low, right? Yeah.
Starting point is 00:44:48 And we can apply that same thing to ourselves more broadly. My views are very different from like a Latter-day Saint woman, you know, working class family in Mexico. Or my views are really different from a Latter-day Saint man in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Rather than not let people who don't fit our views into our club, we have to remember that Team Jesus, as it were, is everyone who wants to be on Jesus' team. It's not about us defeating other groups. Some people feel like from a certain point of view, like in post-industrial westernized countries where on a global scale it tends to represent the more liberal social side of how people do things globally, there's also a huge part of the church that is on
Starting point is 00:45:38 the opposite end of that scale. People in developing countries tend to be more socially conservative than people in these wealthy countries. If people want to be disciples of Christ and want to serve the whole world, then we have to be okay with serving people whose political views are really different from ours. A global perspective, while not a cure-all or a silver bullet for faith crisis, I think a global perspective is really helpful because it helps us zoom out from our narrow political and cultural settings background and just see that actually probably from Jesus's point of view, politics really doesn't matter that much.
Starting point is 00:46:26 And the most important thing is to be one people and to be witnesses of God. And sometimes our ideas of what it means to witness that way can come into conflict. But the most important thing is if we can do that lovingly and we can do it in the same room as it were, we can still be together. and we can do it in the same room as it were, we can still be together. Look at the global picture. It's a lot more complex. You know, the church is not an automatic reactionary horrible thing. That's what I was trying to say. No, it was, it was awesome.
Starting point is 00:46:58 Later on in verse 20, he commanded them that there should be no contention one with another, but that they should look forward with one eye, having one faith and one baptism, having their hearts knit together in unity and in love one towards another. I'm just one guy here living where I live. How do I do that in a global church? How does an individual try to accomplish that in a global church? Or do I just have to begin where I am? I mean, what are your thoughts on that? That's a great question. You know how Jesus says, how can someone know a master that they haven't served? How can we serve fellow saints that we don't know? So a great thing is to go to your Gospel Library app
Starting point is 00:47:46 and open the Church History section and go to the Global Histories. There's stories there from basically every place where we are with a few exceptions because of sensitive politics and so on. I'm sure you can imagine. And just start using them in your lessons, in your talks, especially to youth, to help them see, yeah, here's someone who worked really hard to go to the temple. Youth often go on temple trips. In the United States, certainly in Utah, we're a little spoiled when it comes to proximity to temples. But you would have these people leaving Cameroon in their church clothes, wearing their temple clothes, originally supposed to go in
Starting point is 00:48:27 three buses, but then later stuffed into two buses because the third bus didn't work. And taking basically 24 hours to get from their starting destination to the temple. At times they were pushing the bus through the mud in their church clothes. Someone would like have to walk ahead of the bus through the mud in their church clothes, someone would like have to walk ahead of the bus to find out where the deep holes were, and they pushed the bus through that. They finally show up at the temple in Nigeria, local saints receive them and they help them get cleaned up and wash their clothes and they have a beautiful couple of days at the temple and they really, you know,
Starting point is 00:49:02 appreciate being there because of the work that it took to get there. But just a story like that, it's such a blessing and when we work for things, it feels like even more of a blessing for some reason. What you said earlier that I can't stop thinking about is that it's always 1830 somewhere. I love those kind of stories because you can't help but compare when you have really blessed circumstances to what someone else is willing to go through for the temple. I remember a story that Elder, I read about it, Elder Ballard, I think it was Bolivia, but he came there to participate in these training meetings. He said that there were a group of brethren from
Starting point is 00:49:46 here up, their shirts were white and clean and from here down they looked reddish brownish. And that he approached these brothers and, you know, how are you? And they explained that they had to get up some hour, like three or four in the morning and travel across a couple of rivers to get there and they held their books above their heads and the rivers came up and stained their shirts. Elder Ballard was visibly moved. These brothers said, oh, Elder Ballard, you are an apostle. We would do whatever was necessary to be taught by you. You know, I read that kind of a story and I think,
Starting point is 00:50:25 am I going to complain when the alarm goes off at 7 a.m. for stake priesthood? And that's why I love that idea of it's 1830 somewhere. Somebody is going through that kind of sacrifice and devotion and it teaches me and informs me. Yeah, and they're also figuring things out. Sometimes as a people we're too hard on ourselves. If our church community isn't perfect or we have problems or we don't feel united, we kind of throw up our hands or things, no it's not true, it's not working. When something is hard, it's a feature not a bug of reality and the kind of life that we chose
Starting point is 00:51:07 under the plan of salvation. Jesus said, like, love your enemies, but better place to find enemies than in your local ward, you know, and to learn how to love them. Lots of enemies, one convenient location, right? That's right. lots of enemies, one convenient location, right? Well I thought about the members of the first racially integrated branch in South Africa called the Soweto branch. I don't know if you ever heard of like Soweto riots before. Soweto was a kind of township outside of Johannesburg. So during South Africa during
Starting point is 00:51:43 apartheid, Johannesburg was largely for white people and these townships outside were the areas that were reserved for black people to live and there was strict racial segregation. There were enough black members of the church who wanted to meet. They would travel to Johannesburg but it would take them hours. They'd have to get up really early and take buses for a long time and walk for a really long time to get to this meeting house in Johannesburg. Finally, the church leaders decided to set up a branch in Soweto, the township, and members of a Johannesburg congregation were brought in to attend this branch and to help train
Starting point is 00:52:29 the newer members on how to run a church congregation. But it was so hard because this is like before apartheid has been lifted and there's all these racial stereotypes that people have and there's also the political history of just violence. These two groups really feared each other physically. They worried that they could come to harm and they were in the wrong place at the wrong time. In 1981, they organized this branch in Soweto and it was this beautiful opportunity for the members of the church to really grapple with what does it mean to be one people? What does it mean to worship together? One anecdote was told by the Relief Society president, Maureen Van Zyl. She was white. She came from Johannesburg.
Starting point is 00:53:18 And she said, well, we thought that in Relief Society, we should do something unifying, like sing the national anthem or something. So they sing the national anthem in Relief Society, we should do something unifying, like sing the national anthem or something. So they sing the national anthem in Relief Society, but what they didn't realize was for black members of the church, the national anthem was seen as a kind of hate music, the kinds of things that like white supremacists would sing as they were marching off to persecute black people. That was a big learning experience. This other experience was where these young men in the ward were about to attend a church conference and the branch president, who was also white, wanted to make sure that
Starting point is 00:53:55 they didn't stick out in a weird way, that they kind of fit in. He went to his own closet and he got his own Sunday clothes and he passed them around to all the young men. One of the young men noticed, you know, after the conference and they have given all the clothes back, he noticed that the branch president was wearing the same clothes that he had been wearing. And he thought like there's no way that he was just so touched that the branch president had shared his actual clothes with him and he didn't think that was something that most people in his society at that time would do, do something
Starting point is 00:54:31 so personal and intimate. I just can't imagine how difficult, how much social pressure there was, how much political pressure there was, how frustrated they must have been, both the black and the white members of the Soweto branch, just trying to figure each other out like these two groups of people who hadn't interacted at all for years. In this setting, I think it's really impressive, and I think it speaks to the power of the gospel to overcome all of those hurdles and to continually push us towards that ideal that's expressed in the baptismal covenant. We're not always perfect and we often mess up.
Starting point is 00:55:09 The Church and the Gospel push us. Coming up in part two of this episode. Pretty soon thereafter, she is doing laundry or in the middle of some sort of task. When she has this prompting to call this woman, she's like, okay, well maybe I'll finish my task. And then she's like, no, no, no, no, I'm gonna do it. So she jumps on her phone, she calls the person.

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