Sunday, January 4, 2015

What Can We Learn from President Ezra Taft Benson?

So as my regular readers will know, I am a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I will often refer to my experiences with my faith and beliefs on the blog.  Today I thought that I would start 2015 off with some of my favorite things that I learned today about President Ezra Taft Benson.

President Benson was the 13th prophet and president of the restored Church.  Members of the Church believe that a prophet is God's spokesman on the Earth here for us.  In our third hour meetings this year, we will be studying some of the topics that President Benson discussed during the time he was an apostle and prophet.  An apostle, like those of old, are special witnesses of the Savior.  I will be spending a lot of time getting to know President Benson as I teach these lessons to the sisters of our congregation.  I am especially excited for this year because I actually remember a bit about President Benson.  He is the first prophet that we have studied that I was actually alive for!

The beginning of the book always starts with a biographical sketch of the prophet and that was what our lesson was on today.There are so many stories I could share. Here are three inspiring quotes and facts about this Idaho farmer boy for today and I will share more on a different day.
  • He was born 11 3/4 lbs.--that is huge! They weren't sure if he was going to live because of his size either. 
  • He really does look like a big baby! This was taken in 1900, he was born in August 1899.
  • His father was called away to a mission when he was 12.  As a result, young Ezra kept up with the family farm.  He later reflected, 
“I suppose some in the world might say that his acceptance of that call was proof he did not really love his family. To leave seven children and an expectant wife at home alone for two years, how could that be true love?
“But my father knew a greater vision of love. He knew that ‘all things shall work together for good to them that love God’ (Romans 8:28). He knew that the best thing he could do for his family was to obey God.
“While we missed him greatly during those years, and while his absence brought many challenges to our family, his acceptance proved to be a gift of charity. Father went on his mission, leaving Mother at home with seven children. (The eighth was born four months after he arrived in the field.) But there came into that home a spirit of missionary work that never left it. It was not without some sacrifice. Father had to sell our old dry farm in order to finance his mission. He had to move a married couple into part of our home to take care of the row crops, and he left his sons and wife the responsibility for the hay land, the pasture land, and a small herd of dairy cows.
“Father’s letters were indeed a blessing to our family. To us children, they seemed to come from halfway around the world, but they were only from Springfield, Massachusetts; and Chicago, Illinois; and Cedar Rapids and Marshalltown, Iowa. Yes, there came into our home, as a result of Father’s mission, a spirit of missionary work that never left it.
“Later the family grew to eleven children—seven sons and four daughters. All seven sons filled missions, some of them two or three missions. Later, two daughters and their husbands filled full-time missions. The two other sisters, both widows—one the mother of eight and the other the mother of ten—served as missionary companions in Birmingham, England.
“It is a legacy that still continues to bless the Benson family even into the third and fourth generations. Was not this truly a gift of love?
I just loved that quote because it really shows how one event--especially particularly trying events--can bring so many blessings and sometimes blessings we don't even know are possible until we see the after affects.

  • Another story from President Benson that I loved was his account of working with the young men and with Scouts.  He commented,
“One of the joys of working with boys is the fact that you do get your pay as you go along. You have an opportunity to observe the results of your leadership daily as you work with them through the years and watch them grow into stalwart manhood, accepting eagerly its challenges and responsibilities. Such satisfaction cannot be purchased at any price; it must be earned through service and devotion. What a glorious thing it is to have even a small part in helping to build boys into men, real men.”
This is a real reason that I love work with the youth--you really feel like you can shape their lives and they are so receptive to it!  President Benson visited the ward again much later in life and asked after the 24 boys that he instructed.  22 of them had remained in the Church--he tracked down the other 2, helped them come back to the Church, and sealed them to their spouses--how cool is that!

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