Monthly Archives: March 2015

Guard dog — March 30, 2015









The dog started barking in the back yard. Elder Hall got up to tell the dog to be quiet. Missionaries are not supposed to have pets. The dog is not a pet. It is a guard dog. A member brought him to live in our yard to discourage unauthorized entry.

The dog started barking again. Elder Hall got up again to tell it to be quiet.

When it started barking the third time, Elder Hall went outside.

Sister Hall, bring the flashlight! Shine it under that rock by the wash shed.

I see claws

Elder Hall started poking a stick into the hole under the rock. He tried to get the thing to grab the stick with its claws. No luck.

Finally he dragged it out with his stick.

Have you got something we can put this in?

I brought out an empty Kirkland mixed-nuts jar. Elder Hall carefully put the crab into the jar. It filled the jar. Since we live so close to the ocean, we often see crabs crossing the highway. Apparently they like our yard, too.

Take a picture. Be sure to get its eyes in the picture.

Then Elder Hall shook it out of the jar onto the floor.

Do we have some string?

Elder Hall led the crab around the room, then draped it over the back of a chair.

What are you going to do with it?

I guess I’ll put him outside the gate.

Elder Hall carried the crab down to the gate, released the string, and carefully slid it under the gate. The dog supervised.

Elder Hall came back into the house and left the dog to guard the gate.

He did his job well. The crab has not returned.

The Greatest Memorial — March 25, 2015


We received a text.

Elder and Sister Hall, did you hear about Sister Keller?

Sister Keller was a senior missionary assigned to the Self Reliance Center in Cebu. President Schmutz fondly called Sister Keller and her companion “the tennis-shoe sisters.” They were notable for their shoes and smiles, and for their adventurous spirits as they explored the city on foot during their off times.

We were privileged to have the sisters come to Toledo to give Self-Reliance Training. Sister Keller had retired from a long and successful career teaching children and adults with disabilities, and then had chosen to serve a mission.  She and her companion cheerfully and patiently helped many, many people. They finished their missions in January.

When we were in the mission office a while back, the office missionary handed us a paper from the copy machine.

Sister Keller sent an e mail. I thought you would like a copy.

We read the title of the e mail.

Sister Keller’s Latest Adventure

Upon my return from the Philippines, I had some health issues that indicated that I would need to have my gall bladder removed. Unfortunately, following rather lengthy additional testing, on Monday, February 16, 2015, it was confirmed that I have stage 4 gall bladder cancer, incurable. I know that nothing is incurable to the Lord, but I feel that at this time He has called me to at least prepare for this challenge. Please feel free to share this with others, especially our beloved “ward family” in the Philippines.

In the Philippines I learned an increase of love, faith, and service. I am so grateful that the Lord gave me the gift of the Philippines to prepare me for the challenge of cancer.

I have learned some important things from cancer already. First and most importantly, is that the Lord through the grace of His Atonement, eagerly waits for us to ask so that He may help us carry our burdens. Second, there is pain in this world that is beyond our comprehension- and He has willingly taken it upon Himself for each of us individually. But pain, no matter how severe, is finite- it has a beginning and an end and can be measured. Love, on the other hand, is infinite- beyond measure and lasts forever. Faith in the Lord Jesus Christ can help us get through any kind of pain to a place of love and peace.

I have been promised some space and time in which “to accomplish all the Lord’s purposes” for me, so please remember that while I have limited time and energy at present, I have much love for each or you. Remember also that while the Lord wants us to be prepared and the world wants us to be afraid, death is really only a door to a new and better life.

Know also, that I consider the love and service that I have shared with each of you the greatest memorial I shall have to place upon the altar of His love when I pass through.

(Sister) Cheryl Keller

The text indicated that Sister Keller had “passed through” on March 18, 2015.

Thank you, Sister Keller, for sharing your “greatest memorial” with us. We are so glad that you took “the gift of the Philippines” that the Lord offered to you before it was too late. What an inspiring finale to a life well-lived!

You have gone through the “door to a new and better life” crowned with the love of multitudes of people who have been touched by your service.

We love you. We are looking forward to meeting you again.


Pay every Day — March 20, 2015



We had gone with the District President and a Branch President to visit a family in very difficult circumstances.  As we drove home through the night, the District President began talking.

Our people don’t really lack resources. What they really lack is knowledge about resources.

We thought of a young lady that we met shortly after we arrived here in the Philippines. She told us about her early life.

My family was poor—but not really poor. We could still eat every day.

We thought of a young mother with a baby in her arms and another child holding to her skirt.

We have a big problem, Elder. We have no food.

The District President continued to talk.

Our people need to look ahead. They need to set goals and plan.

It is difficult to believe what we cannot see. Prophets have told “great and marvelous things unto the people, which they did not believe, because they saw them not.”[i]

People just need two 5-kilo rice containers and two money containers. They can eat the rice from one, then rotate to the other while they refill the first.

How will that help?

Well, that will keep their rice fresh.

That is a good thing…

But the money jars are important. One is taped shut. It holds 170 pesos. That is enough to buy 5-kilos of rice. The other is empty.

How is empty important?

The first money jar is disaster insurance. It is only to be opened when there are absolutely no other resources for an extended period. The “empty” jar is where the family puts money enough to replace the rice they use each day. If they use 2 kilo of rice, they put 80 pesos in the jar.

Two kilo only cosst 78 pesos.

See, they are learning to save a little extra, too. The time to prepare is every day. If the money has not been replaced at the end of the day, that is the time to counsel with the family, find to something to sell, to find some work to earn a little money, to cut expenses, or even to cut rations. It is an emergency until the 80 pesos has been placed in the jar.

So the emergency is only a little, temporary emergency?

If problems are solved every day, they never become big problems.

Is that why it is important to pray and read the scriptures every day?

We need to refill our spiritual “money jar.”

“…treasure up in your minds continually the words of life, and it shall be given you in the very hour that portion that shall be meted unto every man.”[ii]

We can receive exactly the knowledge and understanding we need to solve our problems each day.

Pay every day. I am beginning to see!

[i] Ether 12:5

[ii] D & C 84:85


The Parable of Poisons — March 16, 2015


How can I pray? I don’t have a loud voice.

What could we say to this man?

A few days ago we talked to our son. He was 14,000 miles away. Do you believe that?

We might imagine the man nodding.

This little plastic thing made a noise, so we pushed a button here and said, Hello, and he started talking to us. We heard every word he said even though he was 14,000 miles away. How can that happen?

Through cell towers, satellites?

Cell phone towers and satellites were made by men, mortal men here on the earth. If mortal men can make something like cell phone towers and satellites, do you think that our Heavenly Father, who is immortal and the greatest of all, could have a way to talk to His children while they are away from home here on this earth?

Another nod.

I testify to you that not only does He have a way, he does talk to His children here on the earth. Instead of cell towers and satellites, He talks spirit to spirit, His spirit to your spirit, through something called the Holy Ghost. We call that revelation.

The man might look down and speak so softly that it is almost a whisper.

I don’t think He talks to me.

Brother, are there times that your cell phone does not work?

A nod.

If you do not believe that a cell phone will do anything, then it is just a piece of plastic. You probably won’t pick it up or push the buttons, right?

A nod.

You have to believe, or have faith, and you have to do something. To have spiritual communication, you have to have faith and do something, too. You have to pray. It is best if you find a quiet place where you can be alone, kneel down, and use your voice. Do you think we had to talk really, really loud for our son to hear us, even from 14,000 miles away?

He might move his head slightly from side to side.

Neither do you need to talk really loud for the Lord to hear you. Your cell phone won’t work if you don’t charge the battery, will it?

Another move from side to side.

We keep our “spiritual battery” charged by pray, reading the scriptures, and going to church. Now, Brother, if we open this cell phone up and pour “tuba” or coconut wine, inside, will the phone still work?

Hopefully, a little smile will break through.

Cigarettes, chew, alcoholic drinks in all their varieties, coffee, tea—they all put poison in your body. The poison makes your body “unclean.” God cannot dwell in unclean places. The Holy Ghost, who is a member of the Godhead, is a God. The Holy Ghost cannot come into an unclean body, and so cannot communicate with your spirit.

Maybe he will look down.

The commandments that we have been given are blessings. Selfishness, anger, depression, addiction—they make our body “unclean” too. The commandments help us to love and serve others, to feel joy, and to develop self-control. Then we can know the wonder of communicating “spirit to spirit.”

After a pause, the man might lift his head.

Brother, there is a wonderful way that your body can be perfectly clean. When you stop putting poisons and negative emotions into your body, then through the miracle of repentance, the power of the Atonement can clean everything away. You will know who you really are: a son of God. And through the power of the Holy Ghost, you will be able to talk to your Father.

He will hear you. And you will be able to hear Him.


Hold the Wild Horse — March 8, 2015

Bathing essentials the classic timba (pail) and tabo (dipper) way

Bathing essentials: the classic timba (pail) and tabo (dipper) way

"Double-decker bus" --  .three cows and five pigs on lower level, four people on upper level.

“Double-decker bus” — .three cows and five pigs on lower level, four people on upper level.

House on the water for sale--any offers?

House on the water for sale–any offers?

Elder Hall had been asked to talk in sacrament meeting.

Why did you come to sacrament meeting today? Did you come to find out who the new Branch President would be? Did you come to hear the missionary give his last talk before going home?

Those are good reasons to come to a meeting, but not the reason to come to sacrament meeting.

We come to sacrament meeting to confess our sins and to put ourselves under covenant as we partake of the sacrament.

Elder Hall paused and looked ruefully at the audience.

I probably have more need to repent of my sins than most. I remember something Brigham Young said:

“I will say, there is not a man in this house who has a more indomitable and unyielding temper than myself.”[i]

I can relate to that. I was a carpenter, a “panday”. Sometimes my tools would not be where I thought they should be, and I would get very angry. I would raise my voice to demand of my boys what they had done with the tools. But sometimes it was me who had misplaced them.

A while back, a man, an Australian I met on the street, started yelling at me. Soon we were nose to nose yelling at each other. I was not very dignified.  I still feel the anger when I think about it. It took me a long time to follow Brigham Young’s advice and say “Knees, get down there”; it took a long time to make them bend; and it took a long time for me to make them remain there until I obtained the Spirit of the Lord.[ii]

I needed to do that before I could come to church and partake of the sacrament.

Each week, before Sunday comes, I have to think about my week, and to confess, and to recommit myself through the sacrament.

As Brigham Young said,

“I am trying to civilize myself.”[iii]

He also said,

“When my feelings are aroused to anger by the ill-doings of others, I hold them as I would hold a wild horse, and I gain the victory.[iv]

Then Elder Hall told a story:

My father worked with horses all his life. When he was past seventy years of age, he bought an untrained horse, a two-year Arabian. He worked with it until he could put a halter on it and lead it. He worked with it until he could put a bridle on it, and finally a saddle. Then it was time to ride the horse. My father and I saddled two horses, got a rope, and rode with the Arabian between us to the place my father had picked out.  My father told me to hold the rope and keep the Arabian close my horse while he stepped from his horse to the saddle of the Arabian.

The rope was very strong. But there was one problem. It was made from nylon—and nylon will stretch. As my father stepped into the saddle, the Arabian began to fight, and the rope stretched enough that I could not keep my horse close enough to control the Arabian.

The Arabian began bucking, and threw my father off onto the hard, rocky ground. My father was past seventy years of age. It hurt when he landed. He lay there a few moments, then forced himself to get up. He tied another  rope, and we started again.

When he stepped from his horse to the saddle of the Arabian, I was able to hold the rope tight, and my father rode that horse.

Elder Hall thought a moment as he finished his story. Then he spoke again.

When we are not able to hold tight to our feelings of anger, they break loose like a wild horse. People get hurt.

If we lose control of our anger, there is nothing to do but get back up on that horse, and ride it until we are in control.

If the spirit yields to the body, it becomes corrupt; but if the body yields to the spirit it becomes pure and holy[v].

My disciples, in days of old, sought occasion against one another and forgave not one another in their hearts; and for this evil they were afflicted and sorely chastened.[vi]

[i] DBY, 267

[ii] See Ibid

[iv] DBY, 266

[v] DBY, 267

[vi] D&C 64:8


For All Eternity — February 26, 2015




Elder and Sister Hall, did you go to the wedding?

We were in the temple complex, and we heard the story that one of the office missionaries told.

What did she say?

The senior sister was laughing as she told her story.

“I was on the second floor of the Patron House with a sister who had finished her mission and was preparing to go home. We watched the handsome bridegroom carefully help his bride navigate the stairs in her regal floor-length bridal gown. Then my young companion sighed.

She is such a lucky bride!

How so?

Everyone in the Cebu Mission knows what a wonderful missionary he has been. Everyone loves him. And he loves everyone so much.

We paused as we thought of the transcendent joy of that day.

Did you get to see the wedding?

No, we waited with some others in front of the temple. The sealing room was filled with family and close friends.

What could you see?

We saw the tall, elegant, etched-glass, marble-framed doors, capped by an engraved inscription.

 Holiness to the Lord

The House of the Lord

 Why does the Lord need a house here on earth?

It is because He truly is our Father, and He needs a place to gather His children to Him. Do you want us to tell you what happened inside the temple?


We thought of a talk given a number of years ago.

God is the Heavenly Father of the human family. He is obviously concerned with families. If you doubt it, look around you. We are all his children—we belong to him. For this reason, he has commanded that a house be built for his family.[i]

What happens in the house of the Lord? It is where families are created.

“I have, many times, seen the Spirit lift choice young people who had come to the temple to become a family; and it seemed to me in these instances that the temple became a “heavenly family house,” the sealing room became a “heavenly family room,” and the altar of the temple became a “heavenly family altar.”[ii]

In a gloriously beautiful room, surrounded by excellently-attired family and friends, an officiator, who had been given authority both through the laws of the land and through the laws of God, performed the solemn sacred marriage ceremony.

“…as they knelt there, they were joined by the Lord through his priesthood for all eternity and thus were made “one,” a family, in the Lord.” [iii]

Theirs was not a temporary marriage “until death do you part.” It was a permanent marriage “for all eternity.”

She was, indeed, such a lucky bride. And he was, indeed, such a lucky bridegroom. They were sealed as a family, and will be together throughout all eternity.

Wherefore they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man put asunder.[iv]

[i] Hartman Rector Jr, “Success-A Journey or a Destination,” July 1973

[ii] Ibid

[iii] Ibid

[iv] Matt 19:6