Sunday, June 19, 2016

Faith of My Fathers

Halford Francis Potter, 1919-2006
Today, June 19, 2016, is Father’s Day in the U.S. and a few other countries. I have been thinking  of my father and the faith that he and some of my other ancestors had in the Gospel of Jesus Christ. My father, Halford Francis Potter, was a convert to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He along with my mother and two older brothers were living in California. My father drove the city bus and one day the LDS missionaries got on his bus. They rode to the end of the line and talked to him for a while. My father asked them to dinner and he took them home that night and the rest is history. My father was baptized on March 18 1949, my mother chose not to be baptized at that time. Dad moved his small family to Provo, Utah so he could attend BYU. While there my mother was baptized on February 25, 1951. Normally couples not married in the temple have to wait one year before going to the temple to be sealed. The ward my parents attended would go by bus from Provo to the Salt Lake Temple (about 45 miles) once a month. Those with children would trade months baby-sitting while the parents took the bus trip to Salt Lake City. My mother was pregnant with me at the time, and they wanted to be sealed before I was born. Because they did not know when they would be able to go to the temple, permission was given for them to be sealed two weeks before mother’s one-year anniversary. On February 11, 1951 my father took his small family to the Salt Lake Temple and were sealed as an eternal family.

After graduating from BYU, my father moved his family to Argos, Indiana where he worked as a teacher until he retired. While in Argos, three other children were added to our family. We were the only members of the LDS Church in Argos and had to drive about 30 miles to South Bend. We attended as a family and I was baptized when I was eight years old but shortly after baptism my parents stopped going to the LDS Church. They attended the Methodist Church all through my teenage years and for a few years after I left for college. Sometime in 1974 my family moved from Northern Indiana to Southern Indiana. There was a branch of the LDS Church in their town and they started going again.

In July 1975 I was married to my wife in the Washington D.C. Temple and my mother and father were with us. From that time until my father’s death on August 29, 2006 my father was an active, faithful member of the LDS Church. My parents served a mission to South Africa in the mid 80s. My parents were modern day pioneers that now has four generation of members that have served as missionaries, bishops, temple workers and many other callings.

Faith in Jesus Christ did not start with my family, but we have a rich history of believers in Jesus Christ. My great- grandfather, Arthur Elmer Potter (born 1880) was a member of the Salvation Army. My mother’s family were members of the Christian Scientist Church. One of my relatives was Governor William Bradford, who came with the pilgrims on the Mayflower, he was the Governor. of the Plymouth Colonies.  My tenth great-grandfather was Elder John Strong a minister in the Universal Church in the 1600s. My sixth-great grandfather, John Gill, was a contemporary of John Wesley and was a minister for the Church of England but was kicked out of the church because he read the bible in English to his congregation. He also wrote several books on religion and in one of them he wrote about the Trinity and how God the Father and Jesus Christ have physical bodies and that the Holy Ghost is a personage of spirit. That got him in trouble with the Church of England as well. My great-great grandfather John Lorimer Gill was one of the wealthiest families in Cincinnati Ohio, he sent two train loads of food and supplies to help Chicago recover from the great Chicago fire on October 8, 1871.

What a blessing it is to know that I have many ancestors that were faithful believers in Jesus Christ and withstood persecution for their beliefs and followed the example of our Savior to minister to the poor and relieve the suffering. Knowing the faith of my father’s gives me the courage to stand for the truth and minister to those in need around me.

Your comments and questions are welcome.

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Light The Fire Within

I have been working on a project to convert the few VCR tapes I have left to DVDs. Yesterday while working on that project I came across the opening ceremony for the Salt Lake 2002 Winter Olympics. I was a volunteer for those Olympics and was at the opening Ceremony. It was an experience that I will never forget. The 2002 Olympics were only five months after the horrible experience of September 11th, 2001. There were some that thought the Olympics should have been cancelled. In an interview at the opening ceremony, President George W. Bush said that he never thought (nor the Organizing Committee) that the games should be cancelled because we needed to show the world we could bring the countries of the world together and compete peacefully. He also said that if the games were cancelled the terrorists would win and he did not want that.

As the athletes came into Rice Eccles Stadium many of them not only had flags of their county but they also had an American flag to show their unity with our country. The flag that flew at the World Trade Center and was found in the rubble that was left (and raised up by those there) was carried in by several U.S. Athletes and some of the 1st Responders on September 11th. As you can see by the picture the flag was damaged and torn but they held it with the reverence it deserved. As the Mormon Tabernacle Choir sang our national Anthem there was hardly a dry eye in the Stadium, they sang: Oh, say does that star-spangled banner yet wave O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave?”

On the shore, dimly seen through the mists of the deep,
Where the foe’s haughty host in dread silence reposes,
What is that which the breeze, o’er the towering steep,
As it fitfully blows, half conceals, half discloses?
Now it catches the gleam of the morning’s first beam,
In full glory reflected now shines in the stream:
‘Tis the star-spangled banner! Oh long may it wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave!

And where is that band who so vauntingly swore
That the havoc of war and the battle’s confusion,
A home and a country should leave us no more!
Their blood has washed out their foul footsteps’ pollution.
No refuge could save the hireling and slave
From the terror of flight, or the gloom of the grave:
And the star-spangled banner in triumph doth wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave!

Oh! thus be it ever, when freemen shall stand
Between their loved home and the war’s desolation!

Blest with victory and peace, may the heav’n rescued land
Praise the Power 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!

The Theme of the 2002 Olympics was “Light the Fire Within”. Even though that theme was planned years before the tragedy of September 11th, it became the anthem of all the participants and spectators that were there. Though they were from many countries and were there to compete against each other, they were united as brothers and sisters, children of our Heavenly Father, to show the world we could compete in peace and set aside hatred and prejudice.

In the opening ceremony one child stood against the storms of life searching for the fire within to keep him safe. Finally, when he found it, other children each with their own lanterns entered the stadium and drove out the storms. Then LeAnn Rimes sang the theme song. Check it out.

It was an amazing experience to be part of those Olympics and the feeling of unity as a country and the Olympic spirit. The Prophet Alma speaking to the members of Christ’s Church that had been converted by his father asked those that had experienced a change of heart that if they could still feel that change? (Alma 5:26) What about those of us that were there at the 2002 Olympics or watched it on TV and felt the fire within us ignited; do we still feel that burning in our hearts? Are we still united as a country against evil and those that promote it?

The war against terrorism goes on today. Our country is in the midst of one of the most divisive presidential elections in my life time. We see violence in our schools, against our police and military. Our own media promote these things by the way they sensationalize them in the news. Just today (Sunday, June 12, 2016), the deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history took place in Orlando, Florida when a gunman walked in and killed 50 and injured many more (Desert News). Wickedness and sin are growing. Evil is promoted as good and good is now evil. The scriptures are being fulfilled that of the conditions of our day.

At the end of every Olympics the IOC President calls upon the youth of the world to assemble in four years at the next Olympics. I believe that it is time for the true believers of Jesus Christ, those that have felt the fire within, to come out of hiding and stand for the truth. We are the children of light that must shine forth in the darkness and chase away the storms that rage around us. We must be willing to stand alone just as that one child of light stood against the storms of life. He stood as a beacon of light to all the youth who finally joined him and drove out the storms. May we light the fire within and stand against the evils of our day.

Your comments and questions are welcome.