Sunday, July 27, 2014

Faith of Our Fathers - Pioneers Past and Present

This week in Utah we celebrated a state holiday that is unique to Utah. July 24th was “Pioneer Day” in celebration of the arrival of the first group of pioneers that entered the Salt Lake Valley on July 24, 1847. They were refugees, driven out of the State of Illinois because of their religion.

The Mormon People had a history of hatred and misunderstanding by their neighbors that started in the State of New York (Where Joseph Smith organized the church in 1830) when they left to flee persecution and went to Ohio in 1831. They settled in Kirtland, Ohio and lived in peace for a few years when persecution drove them out again and they fled to Missouri. They developed several settlements in Jackson County, and Far West and Clay County before the Governor of Missouri issued the extermination order to drive the Mormons out or exterminate them. In a Wikipedia article about the extermination order it says:

“Missouri Executive Order 44, also known as the Extermination Order in Latter Day Saint history,[1][2] was an executive order issued on October 27, 1838 by the governor of MissouriLilburn Boggs. It was issued in the aftermath of the Battle of Crooked River, a clash between Mormons and a unit of the Missouri State Guard in northern Ray County, Missouri, during the Mormon War of 1838. Claiming that the Mormons had committed "open and avowed defiance of the laws", and had "made war upon the people of this State," Boggs directed that "the Mormons must be treated as enemies, and must be exterminated or driven from the State if necessary for the public peace—their outrages are beyond all description". (

They once again had to flee leaving their property behind and start over in Illinois. Brigham Young talks of the time they lived in Nauvoo and how persecution eventually drove them out again:

“We lived in Illinois from 1839 to 1844, by which time [enemies of the Church] again succeeded in kindling the spirit of persecution against Joseph and the Latter-day Saints. Treason! Treason! Treason! they cried, calling us murderers, thieves, liars, adulterers, and the worst people on the earth. … They took Joseph and Hyrum, and as a guarantee for their safety, Governor Thomas Ford pledged the faith of the State of Illinois. They were imprisoned [in Carthage, Illinois], on the pretense of safekeeping, because the mob was so enraged and violent. The Governor left them in the hands of the mob, who entered the prison and shot them dead. John Taylor, who is present with us today, was in the prison, too, and was also shot, and was confined to his bed for several months afterwards. After the mob had committed these murders, they came upon us and burned our houses and grain. When the brethren would go out to put out the fire, the mob would lie concealed under fences, and in the darkness of the night, they would shoot them.” (“Teachings of Brigham Young”, Chapter 15)

After the death of the Prophet Joseph Smith and his Brother Hyrum on June 27, 1844, the pioneers once again were forced to flee because of mobs and hatred towards them. Brigham Young then tells of their trek to the Rocky Mountains and the faith of those pioneers that began that historical trek in February 1846:

“We arrived here, where we found a few … Indians, a few wolves and rabbits, and any amount of crickets; but as for a green tree or a fruit tree, or any green field, we found nothing of the kind, with the exception of a few cottonwoods and willows on the edge of City Creek. For some 1200 or 1300 miles we carried every particle of provision we had when we arrived here. When we left our homes we picked up what the mob did not steal of our horses, oxen and calves and some women drove their own teams here. Instead of 365 pounds of breadstuff when they started from the Missouri river, there was not half of them had half of it. We had to bring our seed grain, our farming utensils, bureaus, secretaries [desks], sideboards, sofas, pianos, large looking glasses, fine chairs, carpets, nice shovels and tongs and other fine furniture, with all the parlor, cook stoves, etc, and we had to bring these things piled together with some women and children, helter skelter, topsy-turvy, with broken-down horses, … oxen with three legs, and cows with one teat. This was our only means of transportation, and if we had not brought our goods in this manner we would not have had them, for there was nothing here…

“There never has been a land, from the days of Adam until now, that has been blessed more than this land has been blessed by our Father in Heaven; and it will still be blessed more and more, if we are faithful and humble, and thankful to God for the wheat and the corn, the oats, the fruit, the vegetables, the cattle and everything he bestows upon us, and try to use them for the building up of his Kingdom on the earth…

“We wish strangers to understand that we did not come here out of choice, but because we were obliged to go somewhere, and this was the best place we could find. It was impossible for any person to live here unless he labored hard and battled and fought against the elements, but it was a first-rate place to raise Latter-day Saints, and we shall be blessed in living here, and shall yet make it like the Garden of Eden; and the Lord Almighty will hedge about his Saints and will defend and preserve them if they will do his will. The only fear I have is that we will not do right; if we do [right] we will be like a city set on a hill, our light will not be hid.” (“Teachings of Brigham Young”, Chapter 15)

That first trek lead by Brigham Young, has been compared to a modern Israel wilderness trek lead be a modern Moses. By 1869 80,000 pioneers had made the journey west to Salt Lake City by wagon, hand cart and ships from the east coast to the west coast and then by land to Salt Lake City. From Salt Lake City Brigham Young sent other pioneers to settlements in other cities in Utah, Idaho, Arizona, Nevada and many other areas of the western United States, Canada and Mexico. Isaiah prophesied that in the last days a temple would be built in the tops of the mountains and that all nations would flow unto it:

And it shall come to pass in the last days, that the mountain of the Lord’s house shall be established in the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills; and all nations shall flow unto it. (Isaiah 2:2)

On April 6, 1893 Wilford Woodruff, fourth president of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, dedicated the Salt Lake Temple. Salt Lake City is located in the tops of the mountains and today all nations do come to see the temple and to learn about The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. In 2022 Salt Lake City hosted the Winter Olympics and people from all nations came to the games and learned about the LDS Church and it’s people in fulfillment of Isaiah’s prophecy.

Every year on July 24th the “Days of 47” are celebrated in Salt Lake City where one of the top 5 parades in the country for its size celebrate the coming of the pioneers to the Salt Lake Valley. In every area of the church a celebration is held to remember and honor our pioneer heritage. Last week my family was in Washington State and the stake there held their “Pioneer Day Celebration” on Saturday, July 19th where hundreds of church members gathered to enjoy food and pioneer games.

My parents were converts to the LDS Church and as such we don’t have any members of our family (that we know of) that participated with those first pioneers that left their homes and journeyed to Salt Lake City, but they were pioneers because they were the first in our family to leave their churches, family and friends and join with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. President Dieter F. Uchtodorf, Second Counselor in the First Presidency spoke about those early pioneers and how pioneers today can claim a heritage with the first pioneers:

 “The faith of our fathers—I love that phrase,” says President Dieter F. Uchtdorf, Second Counselor in the First Presidency. He explains that for many Latter-day Saints, these words are reminders of valiant pioneers who traveled by wagon, by handcart, and on foot to settle in the valley of the Great Salt Lake. But with today’s worldwide Church membership at more than 14 million members from various backgrounds and origins, how do Church members share in a common pioneer heritage? And what does it mean to be a pioneer today?
“I love and honor the faith and courage of those early pioneers of the Church,” President Uchtdorf continues. “My own ancestors were living an ocean away at the time. None were among those who lived in Nauvoo or Winter Quarters, and none made the journey across the plains. But as a member of the Church, I claim with gratitude and pride this pioneer legacy as my own.”
“I claim the legacies of today’s modern-day Church pioneers who live in every nation and whose own stories of perseverance, faith, and sacrifice add glorious new verses to the great chorus of the latter-day anthem of the kingdom of God.” (“We All Share Pioneer Legacy”,

Elder Dallin H. Oaks, of the Quorum of the Twelve, spoke about a talk by President J. Reuben Clark titled “Them of the Last Wagon”. President Clark talked about the leaders of the wagon trains going west and how they were always in the front where the air was clear and they had a vision of the where they were going. But in the back was the last wagon where the dust of the other wagons clouded their vision and they had to travel with faith trusting in those at the front. Elder Oaks says:

“President Clark’s words of tribute also apply to the membership of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in our day. In every nation, in every worthy occupation and activity, members of this church face hardships, overcome obstacles, and follow the servants of the Lord Jesus Christ as valiantly as the pioneers of any age. They pay their tithes and offerings. They serve as missionaries or as Church Service volunteers, or they support others who do so. Like the noble young mothers who postpone the pursuit of their personal goals in order to provide the needs of their children, they sacrifice immediate pleasures to keep commitments that are eternal. They accept callings and, in the service of others, they willingly give their time and sometimes their lives.
“They do as the Savior taught: They deny themselves; they take up their crosses daily; they follow Him. (See Luke 9:23.) These are those the Savior likened to the seed that fell on good ground: “in an honest and good heart, having heard the word, [they] keep it, and bring forth fruit with patience.” (Luke 8:15.)

“The fruits of the gospel issue from every honest and good heart, without regard to past origins or current positions in the Church. As President Clark declared, “There is no aristocracy of birth in this Church; it belongs equally to the highest and the lowliest.” (J. Reuben Clark: Selected Papers,p. 73.) (“Modern Pioneers”, Dallin H. Oaks, General Conference, October 1989)

Members all over the church are pioneers, whether they are the first members or have generations of members in the church. They are forging the trail that their descendants will follow. They are the ones with the clear vision of where they are going and the blessings that await them. They will teach future generations by example what it means to be committed to the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Many have left other family and friends behind to strike out on their own for the sake of the Gospel.

We must always remember the sacrifices that those early pioneers made so we could enjoy the blessings of the Gospel of Jesus Christ today in peace. We must also recognize the modern day pioneers that are forging their own wilderness trek where they are leaving their own Babylon and entering into their own promised land. They truly are blessed pioneers.

Your comments are always welcome.

Sunday, July 20, 2014


Last week I talked about our 39th wedding anniversary; today I would like to talk about a few other anniversaries. For starters it has now been one year that I have been doing this blog (started it on June 28th, 2013) and I have loved doing it. I hope that what I have posted has been of value to those that have read the posts. The topics have covered subjects like “The Tender Mercies of the Lord”,  “The Faith of a Child”, “Achieving Happiness in Our Marriages”, Faith, Prayer, Revelation, Latter-day Prophets, Christmas, Eternal Families, Priesthood Keys, “Called to Serve”, Motherhood, Fatherhood, Agency, and many more. You can read past blogs by clicking on the Archive menu to the right.

Another anniversary that our family celebrated not long ago was the first birthday of our grandson Mason (April 28th). His due date was supposed to be on July 3rd, but do to some complications he was born at 29 weeks and weighed in at 2 lbs. 11 oz. He was in the NI-CU for almost two months before coming home. Today he is healthy and learning to crawl and loves playing with his big brother. What a miracle he is and a testimony to the blessings of great doctors and nurses at the NI-CU where he spent his first couple of months struggling to survive.

Mason in NI-CU
It is also a testimony of the tender mercies of the Lord in our lives (read the post on this topic that was posted on July 7, 2013). One of the nurses told us that because his mother was having complications due to the condition called “HELP” (high ensigns, low platelets) it caused Mason to develop faster. When our daughter, Michelle, was first admitted to the hospital they put her on medication to help her condition and also help Mason prepare for birth. With the advances in medicine the doctors were able to tell how Mason was developing and when it was safe for him to be born. 48 hours after she was admitted they induced her and Mason was born shortly after. Although he is still behind in his development, he is healthy and full of life. I know that he has been blessed by the Lord and is a blessing to us as well.
The last anniversary that I want to mention is one that has changed my life. Ten years ago this month I was
Nathan and Mason at 1 Month
struck with pancreatitis and for a while the doctor did not know if I would live or not. I spent 21 days in the hospital – 11 days in intensive care. The doctor told my wife to call our children and let them know that it was a possibility that I would not recover.

My bishop gave me a blessing and in that blessing he said that it was not my time to go and the Lord had other things for me to do.  After three surgeries and six months of being in and out of the hospital I finally recovered and have not had any problems since. The blessing from the Lord has been a great comfort to my family and me.

Since that blessing I have often wondered what the bishop meant when he said that the Lord had other things for me to do. There have been many things that could be a fulfillment of that prophecy, but I do know that one of them is my calling as a bishop over an LDS married student ward here in Logan.  The stake president that called me to serve as the bishop over that ward was the same person who was my bishop that gave me the blessing. I asked him when he set me apart as the bishop if he knew then what the Lord had in mind for me when he gave me that blessing. He said: “not
Nathan and Mason July 2014
only did I not know, but I did not know that I would be the one calling you to be a bishop”.  Looking back over the past ten years I can see that the Lord did have many things for me to do. Four months after I first got pancreatitis, my daughter had her first son and I have been able to be a part of helping him grow and develop a testimony that his Heavenly Father loves him and now he has a little brother that has had a hard start to his life, but he loves his little brother and is always there to help him.  I have had the blessing of participating in the ordination of another grandson to be a Deacon and a granddaughter graduate from primary and enter the young women’s program of our church. Ten years ago we had two grandchildren and now we have nine. I have had the privilege of standing in the circle as they were given a name and blessing in church.

I am grateful that the Lord saw fit that I was not ready to go then and I am certain that there is much more for me to do both in serving in the church and with my family. I am grateful for his tender mercies in my life.

Your comments are always welcome.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

The Wife of My Youth

This past Wednesday was my wife and my 39th anniversary. We were married on July 9th, 1975 in the Washington D.C. Temple. We are the result of an arranged marriage. When I first met Sue I had six months left in my service as an LDS Missionary in the Alaska-British Columbia Mission. My companion and I were teaching two young children in the Rapin’s home and Susan was sister Rapin’s daughter. One day she made the comment that she wanted to go to Washington D.C to the temple there. I told her that my parents and I were planning on going there when I got home from my mission and if she wanted to go with us she was welcome. Not long after that I was transferred to Northern British Columbia and finished my mission there. Just before leaving the mission to go home, I received a letter from Susan (she had asked the mission president if she could write me and he said she could) asking if my family was still planning on going to the temple in Washington D.C. I wrote back (again with permission from the mission president) to tell her yes we were and she was welcome to come with us.

I left the mission field on Friday June 20, 1975 and flew back to Indiana. Early that next week Susan flew into Indianapolis and then my Mom, my Dad and Susan and I left for the 15 hour drive to Washington D.C. We spent a couple of days there at the temple and the temple workers kept calling us Brother & Sister Potter and we kept telling them we were not married. After those few days we went back home to Indiana and a couple of days later Susan and I went for a walk and ended up in a park where we were sitting on some swings talking. I asked Susan if she would like to go back to the Washington D.C. Temple and do what everyone there were saying. She asked if I was proposing and I said yes. She told me to get down on my knees and do it right, so I did. We then went home and told everyone were wanted to go back to Washington D.C and get married. They were in shock.

On Monday, July 7th Susan & I along with my Brother as our chaperone drove back to Washington D.C and made arrangements to be married on Wednesday, July 9th. On Tuesday, my mother, father and little sister joined us.

The next day on July 9, 1975, only 19 days after I left the mission field we were married in the Washington D.C. Temple. That was 39 years ago. But that is not all of the story. After we were married I found out Susan’s side of the story. Many of you probably don’t know who Paul Harvey is, but those as old as I am know who he is. He used to tell a short story about someone and at the end he would say: “and now you know the rest of the story”. Well here is the rest of the story.

Hal & Sue July 1975
After I was transferred from Duncan where Susan lived to Prince Rupert, B.C. Susan was trying to decide if she should go to Europe with her mother or go to the Washington D.C. Temple. While she was working as a nurse in Vancouver, B.C. she became close friends with the stake Patriarch and his wife. He was like a father to her since her father had died when she was 14. She went to him and asked if he would give her a father’s blessing. She explained the situation and she wanted to know what the Lord would have her do. Patriarch Dawe said he would love to give her a blessing, but before doing that he wanted to give her some advice. He told her she should not go to Washington D.C. because it looked as if she was chasing a missionary and good Canadian girls would never to that. But as he laid his hands on her head and gave her a blessing the Lord said she was to go to Washington D.C., get married in the temple and become a mother in Zion. Patriarch Dawe told her to ignore the advice he had given her and do what the Lord said. So she decided to go to Washington D.C.

After we were married we drove across Canada to meet her family in Saskatchewan and then more family in British Columbia. When we got to Vancouver, B.C. we stopped at the mission home and visited with the Mission President and his wife. It was now just over a month since I had left the mission field and here I was back with my wife. Susan was talking with the mission president’s wife and was saying she was not feeling well. Sister Preece said she was probably just pregnant and Susan said no way. Yes, way she was. So within a month she had gone to Washington D.C., gotten married in the temple and become a mother in Zion, just like the patriarch said would happen.

That is how the Lord managed to bring us together and 39 years, four children and nine grandchildren later we are still married and loving every day we have together. We are growing to love each other more and more as time goes on. It has not been easy and there have been many bumps, bruises and difficult time for us. Marriage is not easy but when we knelt across the alter in the temple and joined hands we made covenants with each other and the Lord that bound us together not just during this life but after death. Marriage takes work, patience, and forgiveness and both husband and wife need to be 100% committed to get through the trials that come, and they will come.

Elder David A. Bednar speaking on the divine nature of marriage said:

In “The Family: A Proclamation to the World,” the First Presidency and Council of the Twelve Apostles proclaim “that marriage between a man and a woman is ordained of God and that the family is central to the Creator’s plan for the eternal destiny of His children.”   This keynote sentence of the proclamation teaches us much about the doctrinal significance of marriage and emphasizes the primacy of marriage and family in the Father’s plan. Righteous marriage is a commandment and an essential step in the process of creating a loving family relationship that can be perpetuated beyond the grave. (“Marriage Is Essential to His Eternal Plan”, Elder David A. Bednar, Ensign, June 2006)
After explaining the purpose of marriage and the roles of the husband and wife in his talk, Elder Bednar then speaks on how marriage and family are being attacked today:

The Father’s plan is designed to provide direction for His children, to help them become happy, and to bring them safely home to Him. Lucifer’s attacks on the plan are intended to make the sons and daughters of God confused and unhappy and to halt their eternal progression. The overarching intent of the father of lies is that all of us would become “miserable like unto himself” (2 Ne. 2:27), and he works to warp the elements of the Father’s plan he hates the most. Satan does not have a body, he cannot marry, and he will not have a family. And he persistently strives to confuse the divinely appointed purposes of gender, marriage, and family. Throughout the world, we see growing evidence of the effectiveness of Satan’s efforts.
Hal & Sue 2009
The reason our marriage has lasted this long and will continue beyond this life is because it is founded on gospel principles, because we were sealed by priesthood keys and we each honor those covenants and work to keep all the commandments the best that we can. We also rely on the grace and atonement of Jesus Christ when repentances and forgiveness is needed. We know that it is through the Gospel of Jesus Christ and his grace that we are perfected and overcome the natural man and become born again as his sons and daughters.

My journey through this life has been an experience of the greatest joy and sorrow that every parent has but I am grateful that my wife has been by my side the entire way. The best way I can describe my feelings is through the words of the Prophet Joseph Smith as he described his wife Emma:

“With what unspeakable delight, and what transports of joy swelled my bosom, when I took by the hand, on that night, my beloved Emma—she that was my wife, even the wife of my youth, and the choice of my heart. . . . Again she is here, even in the seventh trouble—undaunted, firm, and unwavering—unchangeable, affectionate Emma!”3(History of the Church, 5:107.)
To my wife I express my love and devotion. I hope that the next 39 years will see us more in love and still best friends. Happy Anniversary to my wife who is still the wife of my youth.

Your thoughts and questions are always welcome.

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Wise Men Whom God Raised Up

This week we celebrated the 238th anniversary of the birth of The United States of America on July 4th, 1776. The establishing of this country with its unique constitution was not something that happened by chance but by divine design and it was prophesied of more than 2600 years ago. The Lord Jesus Christ speaking to the Prophet Joseph Smith in 1833 said that the founders of our nation were brought forth at this time to inspire the birth of a nation:

And for this purpose have I established the Constitution of this land, by the hands of wise men whom I raised up unto this very purpose, and redeemed the land by the shedding of blood. (Doctrine and Covenants 100:80)
In the Book of Mormon the Prophet Nephi foretells of Columbus’s journey, the pilgrims and the revolutionary war and God’s hand in preserving this nation.

12 And I looked and beheld a man among the Gentiles, who was separated from the seed of my brethren by the many waters; and I beheld the Spirit of God, that it came down and wrought upon the man; and he went forth upon the many waters, even unto the seed of my brethren, who were in the promised land.

15 And it came to pass that I beheld the Spirit of God, that it wrought upon other Gentiles; and they went forth out of captivity, upon the many waters.

16 And it came to pass that I, Nephi, beheld that the Gentiles who had gone forth out of captivity did humble themselves before the Lord; and the power of the Lord was with them.

17 And I beheld that their mother Gentiles were gathered together upon the waters, and upon the land also, to battle against them.

18 And I beheld that the power of God was with them, and also that the wrath of God was upon all those that were gathered together against them to battle.

19 And I, Nephi, beheld that the Gentiles that had gone out of captivity were delivered by the power of God out of the hands of all other nations. (1 Nephi 13:12, 15-18)

All this was done to prepare a country where laws would be established with religious freedom so the Gospel of Jesus Christ could be restored. President Benson testified of this truth:

"The Constitution of the United States was ratified in 1789. The priesthood of God was restored in 1829. Between those two dates is an interval of 40 years. It is my conviction that God, who knows the end from the beginning, provided that period of time so the new nation could grow in strength to protect the land of Zion," President Benson said in a November 1979 Ensign article. "Thus, in that four-decade period the United States had grown to sufficient strength that she was able to provide a cradle of liberty for the restored Church of Jesus Christ."(“Founding of American and LDS gospel Restoration and divinely connected”, Deseret New Article, July 3, 2013)

These wise men included Thomas Jefferson, John Hancock, Samuel Adams, Benjamin Franklin, John Adams, Benjamin Harrison and fifty others who signed the declaration of Independence. It included George Washington, the leader of the Continental Army that defeated the greatest army at the time and they knew it was through God’s blessing that they succeeded. Elder L. Tom Perry spoke in this subject when he said:

The success of the Declaration of Independence and the Revolutionary War came about through men who were raised up by God for this special purpose. You must read the Declaration of Independence to feel its inspiration. You merely need to study history to recognize that a group of fledgling colonies defeating the world’s most powerful nation stemmed from a force greater than man. Where else in the world do we find a group of men together in one place at one time who possessed greater capacity and wisdom than the founding fathers—Washington, Jefferson, Franklin, and others? But it was not to their own abilities that they gave the credit. They acknowledged Almighty God and were certain of the impossibility of their success without his help. Benjamin Franklin made an appeal for daily prayers in the Constitutional Convention. In that appeal he said, “If a sparrow cannot fall to the ground without His notice, is it probable that an empire can rise without His aid? I believe without His concurring aid we shall succeed in this political building no better than the building of Babel.” (Mark E. Petersen, The Great Prologue, Deseret Book Co., 1975, p. 88.) (“God’s Hand in the Founding of America”, Elder L. Tom Perry, Ensign, July 1976)
We are a blessed land because Heavenly Father wanted it to be free, free from tyranny, free from oppressors that would enslave, free to worship according to the dictates of our conscience. It was to be free so he could restore the Gospel of Jesus Christ again on the earth to prepare the world for the second coming of his Son. When we sing our national anthem it is the first verse that is sung the most. My favorite verse is the last one:

Oh, thus be it ever, when free men shall stand
Between their loved homes and the war's desolation!
Blest with vict'ry and peace, may the heav'n-rescued land
Praise the Pow'r that hath made and preserved us a nation!
Then conquer we must, when our cause it is just,
And this be our motto: "In God is our trust!"
And the star-spangled banner in triumph shall wave
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave!

If we put our trust in God and keep his commandments we will always be free, that is his promise:

Behold, this is a choice land (the American Continent), and whatsoever nation shall possess it shall be free from bondage, and from captivity, and from all other nations under heaven, if they will but serve the God of the land, who is Jesus Christ, who hath been manifested by the things which we have written. (Ether 2:12)

There is another patriotic hymn that testifies of the hand of God in establishing this great country we live in “My Country, ‘Tis of Thee”. The fourth verse says:

Our fathers' God, to thee,
Author of liberty,
To thee we sing;
Long may our land be bright
With freedom's holy light.
Protect us by thy might,
Great God, our King!

Thomas Jefferson, who is credited as having written the Declaration of Independence, and the third president of the the U.S., and John Adams, second president, both died on July 4, 1826, the 50th anniversary of the vote to approve the Declaration of Independence. Is the a coincidence? I don't think so. These great men were brought for by God for this purpose and they died on the day we celebrate their work.

I am grateful that we live in this choice land; a land of liberty, a land of God given freedoms. I am grateful for the wise men that God raised up at the right time to bring forth this country. Will we be wise enough to keep it free and blessed? I pray that we will be able to do so.

Your comments and questions are always welcome.