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Lehi and His Family, After a Long Sea Voyage, Arrive in the Americas. -by Arnold Friberg
Father Lehi and Mother Sariah and their family are counted among the ancestors of Native Americans of our day. In this painting, standing to the right of his mother, Sariah who is next to her husband, Lehi, is Nephi. The nation that came from them is called Nephites as Nephi was obedient to his father and to God.
In the Book of Mormon, Another Testament of Jesus Christ, Nephi wrote the following:
2 Nephi 10: 18 Wherefore, my beloved brethren, thus saith our God: I will afflict thy seed by the hand of the Gentiles; nevertheless, I will soften the hearts of the Gentiles, (Most of the people of our Day who came to the Americas) that they shall be like unto a father to them; wherefore, the Gentiles shall be blessed and numbered among the house of Israel.
19 Wherefore, I will consecrate this land unto thy seed, and them who shall be numbered among thy seed, (We Gentiles) forever, for the land of their inheritance; for it is a choice land, saith God unto me, above all other lands, wherefore I will have all men that dwell thereon that they shall worship me, saith God. (emphasis and clarification added)
Nephi also wrote the following:
II Nephi 33:3 But I, Nephi, have written what I have written, and I esteem it as of great worth, and especially unto my people. For I pray continually for them by day, and mine eyes water my pillow by night, because of them; and I cry unto my God in faith, and I know that he will hear my cry.
4 And I know that the Lord God will consecrate my prayers for the gain of my people. And the words which I have written in weakness (his words written in The Book of Mormon) will be made strong unto them; for it persuadeth them to do good; it maketh known unto them of their fathers; and it speaketh of Jesus, and persuadeth them to believe in him, and to endure to the end, which is life eternal. (emphasis and clarification added)
Our words to Nephi: Your tears need not now flow so freely for your descendants of our day as they did during your days on earth!
The reason this is so, is because the Lord has softened the hearts of us believing Gentiles of our day. Many blessings have already come and continue to come to your people in our day, first through the publishing of The Book of Mormon and the re-establishment of the Lord's authorized Church through which much attention is being given by its members to Nephi's descendants.
Because of the re-establishment of the Lord's authorized Church upon the earth in 1830 after all of the preparations through the instrumentality of the resurrected Ancient American prophet, Moroni and others, under the direction of the Lord Jesus Christ and His Father, things were set in motion to open the way for the fulfillment of all the promises made regarding the descendants of Israel, through Father Lehi, that we have read in The Book of Mormon, Another Testament of Jesus Christ.
The divinely authorized and divinely guided Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints knows keenly its responsibility to facilitate the recovery of the descendants of Father Lehi to the true fold.
As recorded in the Among those descendants of Father Lehi, the Lamanites, many have been blessed by the Indian Student Placement Program which was an official Church Program for a good number of years. It no longer is needed, having accomplished its purpose. I (J. Neil Birch) personally was employed in that program for about nine or ten years.
Doctrine and Covenants 49: 24 But before the great day of the Lord shall come, Jacob shall flourish in the wilderness, and the Lamanites shall blossom as the rose. (emphasis added)
Here are some evidences of special blessings that have showered down upon several Native Americans whose lives have been profoundly affected by the Gospel of Jesus Christ through The Lord's restored church, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
|Flora Dude Shorten|
"One of my earliest memories is sitting under the cotton bushes that made shade for me. My parents picked cotton in the cotton fields of Thatcher, Arizona. From what my Mom has told me, as a young child I became blind. My parents didn’t know why.
When I was about three years old the (LDS) missionaries started teaching my mom and dad in Thatcher. They asked my parents why I was always crying and my parents told them it was because I was blind. I guess the missionaries felt inspired to give me a Priesthood blessing to receive my sight back. My sight did return.
Through that experience my Mom gained a testimony that the church is true and joined the church in 1959. My dad didn’t join the church.
"One day I came home from seminary and while resting I went to sleep. I was then awakened by a black figure coming in the door and into the room. I tried not to notice but the figure came straight to me, it entered my body at my feet, and moved up toward my head. I couldn’t move and tried to yell but no sound came out. I was frightened but then remembered what I was taught in church, and in my mind I said, ‘By the power of Jesus Christ, I command you to leave.’ The spirit left my body the same way it entered—through my feet, and it then walked out the back door. I knew it was evil and wanted me in its power, but because of my knowledge I felt safe and at peace. I knew the church was true and right and I would always find peace of mind in it." (emphasis added)
Ezekiel and Pauline Sanchez
Ezekiel and Pauline Sanchez Stand on Either Side of one of their Daughters Who was Just Married. Their Entire Family is shown.
Looking back, Pauline reflects, “My biggest challenge was in spending time away from my family at home. However, the Placement Program was a gift and a blessing for me--a gift I had to work for to gain the good things that came through it. Sometimes it was hard for me to enjoy the goodness of life that came to me when I knew my own family did not have the same things. But I felt my reservation family’s love and support and felt that for their sakes, I could not fail at what had been given me.”
Pauline relates that from the beginning the restored gospel felt good to her. “I think I was born with a testimony. Everything spiritual felt good and was good for me. I just flowed into it. I enjoyed what I was being taught. The men and women who taught me these truths exemplified them. I loved the scriptures and enjoyed reading them. My foster parents encouraged me spiritually, educationally, and in developing my talents. For example, I sang I am a Child of God at stake conference.
“My testimony grew every time I attended primary class. It was like line upon line, precept upon precept. Oh yes! I readily admit, at times, I felt like I was living in two different worlds. But when I pondered my situation and realized how happy having a testimony of the living gospel made me feel, I would move ahead and my confusion would end. I knew at age ten that I had a testimony. I used to surprise my friends when we had sleeping parties together by bearing my testimony to them.” (emphasis added)
Pauline learned to rely on the power of prayer as indicated from a summer reservation experience. “I was alone herding sheep and one of the big goats got a bucket stuck on its head over its horns. It tried hard but was unable to remove the pail. I was afraid I would get hurt if I tried to help. Remembering, the prayers offered by my foster family, I decided to pray about my dilemma. I whispered a humble prayer and when I opened my eyes the pail was gone from the goat.
“Another reservation incident involved my beloved mother when I was about twelve years old. Every year just before going back to Utah my mother would have the medicine man perform the Blessing-Way ceremony for me for my protection and well-being while I was away from home. My mother had left that morning to find a medicine man. As beautiful as those ceremonies were, I loved the God I had found and His greater power of the Priesthood.
I climbed upon a hill near my home and solemnly prayed, Father, I love my mother and she wants this ceremony for me. If you feel this is okay, then allow her to bring the medicine man, but if this is not right, then don’t let her find a medicine man.
Time passed, and my mother returned alone, unable to find a medicine man. She went again the next day but he had not returned home yet. After that I don’t remember having the Blessing Way Ceremony done for me. I have come to understand the sacredness of the power of God by experiencing through His power the purer knowledge of my value to the Creator, physical and spiritual healing, the solid sense of well being and protection, and the personal guidance that has led me to make good choices.”
Pauline speaks of finding the true way while living in differing worlds, “I struggled trying to live the good traditions in these different worlds. It was difficult until I finally realized that as long as I live the gospel of Jesus Christ, no matter what culture I was in, I would be alright because the principles taught by Jesus Christ enhances and makes whole the true teachings of good traditions in different cultures.”
In obtaining her patriarchal blessing Pauline had a preliminary experience which offered perspective and understanding. In relating this happening she remembers receiving this life enhancing and guiding information a day after her sixteenth birthday and she became enthusiastic in discussing it.
“I don’t know how my foster parents arranged it, but I received my blessing in Salt Lake City from Eldred G. Smith, the Church Patriarch. In an attitude of fasting, my foster mother and I visited with him. During that time I was still seeking answers to questions concerning LDS beliefs and the Navajo beliefs, so I asked him about some of the good that tribal medicine men did.
Elder Smith said as he extended his left arm out and moved his right hand down from his left shoulder to his elbow, ‘A medicine man can only do so much; they can only go so far!’ Then he pointed to my whole arm and said, ‘But the priesthood goes all the way!’
I was impressed because he respected the goodness that I felt about some of the medicine men’s healing ceremonies. Yet it confirmed the feelings I had that the priesthood is whole and complete.
“My patriarchal blessing was wonderful! The comfort that I received concerning my parents was very important. It helped me to always strive to honor them. Living on the reservation, my family didn't have many of the conveniences. Although my foster parents weren't rich they had a kitchen with a refrigerator, stove and oven, and they owned nice cars and an ample farm. I had a room of my own.
“My foster parents were great ‘nursing fathers, nursing mothers,’ to me, but Heavenly Father made it clear to me that my parents on the reservation were of supreme importance because of who they are and because of the heritage I have been given through my parents that all the riches in the world could not give me.
“Additionally, my patriarchal blessing revealed to me that I would have an opportunity to become educated and I needed to take advantage of my learning. Secondly, I needed to be grateful for the valuable Placement experience which I was currently undertaking. Third, I would find the man to whom I would be married and I would have the opportunity of becoming a mother.
Although these promises were somewhat ordinary, they were also wonderful! It was wonderful to be open to them. “Thus the Lord had spoken to me and I was so grateful! I more fully tried to live the way my primary teachers and my young women leaders had taught, and to prepare myself for marriage and the man who would come into my life. And also, they told me, when he arrives you will know he is the one.
If I was righteous the Lord would bless me with the man I was supposed to marry.
“First and foremost, I wanted to marry a faithful priesthood holder. Secondly, I wanted to marry someone who would respect my family, whom I could take to the reservation and he would not be disappointed that we didn’t have running water, lacked electricity, had dirt floors, or lived under a tree. Third, I wanted him to be able to communicate with my mother and dad.
“As a high school senior with encouragement from my laurel leader, I had written a five-year plan for my future life. Included in my goals was to marry a Navajo in the Salt Lake Temple and to graduate from BYU when I was 24 years of age. My written goals became part of me as I carried them around in my mind and in my heart.” (emphasis added)
“Then, one morning, he surprised me by saying, ‘Pauline, I have these tender feelings for you and I want you to fast and pray with me to see if we are meant to be married and be eternal companions’ . . . Taken back, surprised, and feeling not ready for such a momentous commitment, I told him, ‘No.’ . . . I was surprised at how I felt in my heart that I had said the wrong thing!
My logic kept telling me that I had said the right thing because my intention had been to marry a Navajo and obtain my degree before marriage. I felt I was too young and had too much schooling left. However, after two weeks of experiencing unusual events and then attending a special fireside, I knew that I needed to fast and pray with him. I entered the fast logically feeling that the Lord was going to say, ‘No.’ We began our fast, and how it happened I don’t quite understand, but within 24 hours, I knew that he was the man I was to marry. (emphasis added)
There will be additional excerpts from chapters of the book, Blossoming II in yet undetermined numbers of my blog posts . The evidence of the blossoming of Latter-day Lamanites you will read from Native American Mormons will touch and inspire you.
These portions of life stories you just read were used with permission of Dale and Margene Shumway, Authors of the book, Blossoming II. which is available on Amazon.com entitled The Blossoming II: Dramatic stories in the Lives of Native Americans. Also both Blossoming books are available by contacting the Shumways by email: firstname.lastname@example.org, by mail 486 W 40 N. Orem, UT 84057, or by telephone 801 235 0986. The retail cost is for book I $12.95 and for book II $14.95 plus postage. As for the Blossoming II books. They are available on Amazon.com titled The Blossoming II: Dramatic stories in the Lives of Native Americans. Also both Blossoming books are available by contacting us by email: email@example.com, by mail 486 W 40 N. Orem, UT 84057, or by telephone 801 235 0986. The retail cost is for book I $12.95 and for book II $14.95 plus postage.
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