Monday, March 30, 2009

Scott's Spiritual Experience in Junín

I'm not sure why this special, sacred experience happened to me in Junín, a remote, wind-blown town in the high altiplano of the central Andes. This shows the LDS chapel fence on the right on a typical Junín street:

Maybe because of the inspiration I felt when such wonderful children showed up to Beverly's music lessons, four of whom are shown here:

Or maybe because of the six people who attended my Book of Mormon class, among whom were the branch president and his family; a recently returned sister missionary; and a young man who is just submitting his papers for his mission. This picture shows Beverly and me with the returned sister missionary:

Or maybe because I needed this experience as a further personal witness of the Book of Mormon, as promised in my patriarchal blessing.

Regardless of why it happened in Junín, it was a special experience:

As I was reviewing the notes I had prepared for the Book of Mormon class and meditating on the scriptures in a freezing cold classroom in the Junín chapel, I felt a warm sensation in my chest—a true burning of the bosom—which I recognized as a witness of the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon.

And then, when the class began, the eyes of my understanding were opened, and I was able to perceive the meaning of the scriptures with more clarity than perhaps at any time in my life. I mentioned to the students that the Book of Mormon was a book of covenants—nothing new there—and then I drew a diagram of one of the major themes of the Book of Mormon—the deliverance pattern, which includes captivity, deliverance, exodus, and the Promised Land—and I drew an arrow between the word exodus and the phrase Promised Land. I asked the students, "How do we have a successful exodus through the wilderness (our life on earth) to the Promised Land (our celestial reward)?" And the answer (which seems obvious in retrospect) is: we make and keep covenants. And why? Because through covenant keeping, we gain the guidance of the Holy Ghost.

The Liahona was a covenant by which the Lehites were guided through the fertile lands (blessed states of righteousness) during their exodus through the wilderness, just as we are guided through our mortal sojourn by keeping covenants and thereby receiving the Spirit. This process of exodus to the Promised Land was repeated three times—among the Lehites, the Jaredites, and the Mulekites—to fulfill the law of witnesses—so that we would understand that these three stories are our stories; they are stories of our exodus on earth.

We then re-read 1 Nephi 1:1 from the perspective of the deliverance pattern and saw for the first time that this verse is a mini-summary of the entire Book of Mormon. When Nephi says he was born of goodly parents, he refers not only to Lehi and Sariah but also to his lineage in the House of Israel. When he says that he learned the knowledge of his father, he was referring to his knowledge of the covenant between Jehovah and Abraham, which was passed down to his day, and which is renewed in our day through the Book of Mormon to the remnant of the House of Israel. When he said he endured much affliction, he was referring to his exodus in the wilderness (our sojourn on earth). When he says he was highly favored of the Lord, he is saying that he kept the covenant and received the Spirit. That’s how we become favored of the Lord.

We then read 1 Nephi 2:2-4, about Lehi’s call into the wilderness and likened his leaving all his riches to our leaving the riches of being in the presence of God to come to earth. The veil of forgetfulness causes us to come to earth with nothing, even as Lehi went into the wilderness with nothing.

In these early verses in the Book of Mormon, we are given an overview of the theme of the entire book: We succeed in our travel to the Promised Land (celestial glory) through making and keeping covenants.

I'm sure most of you reading this post knew all these things, but for me it was a personal revelation, given while teaching a Book of Mormon class to the descendants of Lehi, the remnants of the House of Israel, in a remote town in the high Andes.


Tracy said...

Thank you for sharing your sacred witness and your experience has reminded me that I too can have such experiences if I spend more time in the scriptures.

Ryan said...

Kenz and I love reading about your mission experiences! We can't wait until we one day will be able to serve together as a couple!

Ashley Thalman said...

What a life! To be in the right place with the right people doing the right thing= life eternal.

Russ said...

That's great! Thanks for your insights.

Andrea said...

Amazing Dad! Plus, you taught all of this in Spanish? You're language must be wonderful. Thanks for sharing.

Sharon said...

Scott, thank you for that inspiring and inspired witness. As you know, we are nearing the end of our New Testament study and teaching in our mission. So just this morning I decided to read the entire Book of Mormon before we leave in 34 days. Your experience has given me such perspective and insight now as I begin.

Anonymous said...

What a great experience! Thanks for sharing these wonderful insights.