A few years ago, some friends from London (shoutout to the Swensons) explained their term, “peak moment” to us over dinner. It refers to a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that cannot be missed. Today was one of those for our family…a peak moment for sure. Elder Bednar and his sweet wife, Susan, came to our church for a visit during district conference. Jerusalem was their last stop on a two-week tour of the area that Elder Bednar presides over.
There were two sessions held, one in the morning before lunch and one right after. Our yummy meal was served in the Oasis, where BYU Jerusalem students eat every day they are in town. This day was stunningly gorgeous and perfect temps- despite the snow that happened here just a few days before. After lunch, we went on the patio to take some pictures and enjoy the warm sunshine.
Artwork ala Brian (above). A sketch of the Jerusalem Center from our seats. Below is the view of the Old City from the Oasis patio.
Brian and I have gone over the notes many times from Elder Bednar’s two talks he gave that day. While the feeling cannot really be described, we can always look back and remember the counsel he gave to our small group. It was such an incredible feeling to be there and to hear the power of his testimony and the words he spoke so eloquently and with so much intention. Seriously, it was nothing short of life-changing…and I know that can often sound trite, but we really mean it. It was that amazing. Here are the notes we compiled:
“I have learned for myself” - Joseph Smith after returning from the grove. Some of the most powerful words in scripture.
First, it’s important that we “look forward” when reading the scriptures and learning from the prophets. They weren’t exactly written for the people of that time. Remember when “The Family- A Proclamation to the World” was shared by President Hinckley? We were all like, yeah, duh. But today, the definition and role of the family is attacked every day. President Hinckley was looking forward.
… Family Home Evening was instituted back in 1915
… The Family, A Proclamation to the World in 1995
… The many battles between the Nephites and Lamanites we read about in the Book of Mormon (as detailed below)
Second, know the intent of the enemy
Alma 2:7, 10, 12
And it came to pass that the voice of the people came against Amlici, that he was not made king over the people.
Now when Amlici was made king over them he commanded them that they should take up arms against their brethren, and this he did that he might subject them to him.
Therefore the people of the Nephites were aware of the intent of the Amlicites, and therefore they did prepare to meet them; yea, they did arm themselves with swords, and with cimeters, and with bows, and with arrows, and with stones, and with slings, and with all manner of weapons of war, of every kind.
As someone that is damned, Lucifer hates:
… that we have a physical body
… that we can live in families
… that as husband and wife, we can procreate and bring families into this world and for the eternities
Know the intent of the enemy. What does Lucifer attack? These very things.
But behold, I say unto you that if ye persist in your wickedness that your days shall not be prolonged in the land, for the Lamanites shall be sent upon you; and if ye repent not they shall come in a time when you know not, and ye shall be visited with utter destruction; and it shall be according to the fierce anger of the Lord.
The goal is for us to to be prepared at the time of their coming. If we are not righteous, we will not know the time.
And now, as Moroni knew the intention of the Lamanites, that it was their intention to destroy their brethren, or to subject them and bring them into bondage that they might establish a kingdom unto themselves over all the land;
Third, “preparing your places of security”
And now it came to pass in the eleventh month of the nineteenth year, on the tenth day of the month, the armies of the Lamanites were seen approaching towards the land of Ammonihah.
And behold, the city had been rebuilt, and Moroni had stationed an army by the borders of the city, and they had cast up dirt round about to shield them from the arrows and the stones of the Lamanites; for behold, they fought with stones and with arrows.
But behold, how great was their disappointment; for behold, the Nephites had dug up a ridge of earth round about them, which was so high that the Lamanites could not cast their stones and their arrows at them that they might take effect, neither could they come upon them save it was by their place of entrance.
The place of entrance has changed over time … it’s not just our front door anymore … it’s our phones, it’s the TV, etc.
Now at this time the chief captains of the Lamanites were astonished exceedingly, because of the wisdom of the Nephites in preparing their places of security.
Now the leaders of the Lamanites had supposed, because of the greatness of their numbers, yea, they supposed that they should be privileged to come upon them as they had hitherto done; yea, and they had also prepared themselves with shields, and with breastplates; and they had also prepared themselves with garments of skins, yea, very thick garments to cover their nakedness.
And being thus prepared they supposed that they should easily overpower and subject their brethren to the yoke of bondage, or slay and massacre them according to their pleasure.
But behold, to their uttermost astonishment, they were prepared for them, in a manner which never had been known among the children of Lehi. Now they were prepared for the Lamanites, to battle after the manner of the instructions of Moroni.
And it came to pass that the Lamanites, or the Amalickiahites, were exceedingly astonished at their manner of preparation for war.
This, Elder Bednar explained, is the ultimate purpose of home-centered, church-supported learning. To be aware of the intent of the enemy (Satan), diligently prepare so that he cannot come through our place of entrance, and that he will be astonished at our preparation and we have the power to actually bind him in our homes. He also explained that Satan is waiting and watching for us to get casual with our obedience- like a cheetah stalking its prey.
Home church is a program that has been in the works for years because the Brethren knew that it would have a huge strengthening purpose for families in the last days, when they’d need it the most. Elder Bednar bore testimony of this and the revelation that has come and will continue to come for the church. He also spoke of how amazing it was for him to speak at this pulpit and compared it to other pulpits he’s been privileged to be at. He turned around at the end and looked at Jerusalem and then turned to us and bore one of the most powerful testimonies I’ve ever heard of the reality of the Savior.
We were sitting near the front, so after the meeting closed, our girls hurried up to shake Elder Bednar’s hand. He and his wife were so gracious with them and he even reached out to touch Tessa’s cheek. I hope they never forget this day and the way it felt.
After church, we changed and then drove to Ein Kerem a few miles away. Here we visited The Church of St. John the Baptist, the purported site of the cave where John the Baptist was born. We ate a small dinner in the courtyard right outside and then explored inside, where the cave has been enshrined. From there, we walked to The Church of the Visitation, where Mary is said to have visited Elizabeth, when the two were miraculously pregnant.
We found a perfect spot for our home church in the cemetery garden off of the Church of the Visitation, and overlooking the hills and valleys of Ein Kerem- seriously gorgeous place and perfect to watch the sunset.
We were still reeling from the meeting we just sat through, so we took a few minutes to discuss our favorite parts. Then, we talked about John 1.
Cannot top this day and couldn’t be more grateful for these girls, this gospel, our shared testimonies and this country that we have fallen hard for as we’ve learned about the life of the Savior. I wish I could rewind it again and again-whenever I need a spiritual boost.