Us Seniors

Elder et Soeur Arn & Jody

Friday, October 19


We just got the go ahead to go to Paris. We leave on Monday or Tuesday and could be there through Christmas. The mission is getting 17 new missionaries who arrive next week and we are only losing 2, and so they have asked us to let them use our apartment while we are gone. It looks like we are staying with some members and we have no idea what kind of room we will have there, so we are only taking the bare necessities.

We met a man at McDonald's who was very interested in what we were doing there on computer. He was interested in the church and in Genealogy. We explained what we were doing and then we asked him if he would like to be taught by the missionaries. Well, we had a meeting with him at our apartment last Monday. He came with a large folder of papers that he had gotten off the internet about the church. He had them bound and everything. They were written by a disgruntled ex-member. As it turns out he was an Ex-T.J. Temoine-de-Jehovah (J.W. or Jehovah's Witness). He started off saying that he didn't want to change anything and just wanted to learn more about other religions and talked and talked and didn't let anyone say or teach anything. The Elders were disappointed you could tell. They told JoAnn in English that we would just bear simple testimonies and call it good. They had her give her testimony of how and when she knew the church was true and they translated. Everything began to change after that. He seemed to start to feel the spirit. Then after we had all finished and we were ready to say a closing prayer, he asked Arnold to say the prayer. After the prayer, he had tears in his eyes. He had really felt the spirit and even said that he had. He said Arnold reminded him of how his father used to pray - very powerfully. During the course of the discussion, Elder Downs (one of our Zone Leaders) asked him if he prayed and found that our church was true, would he be baptized. He said he would, but he wanted to be baptized by a perfect person. Assuring him that he would never find a perfect person in this life until the Savior returns, we asked him to pray about the restored gospel and the Book of Mormon and he said he would. His name is Jean-Claude Caid.

The next day, we were again working at McDonald's and he and his wife (?) came in. He came up to us and said that he had prayed as we had asked and had gotten an answer and it was incredible. He knew we were going to Paris in a few days for 2 months or so and he told us, with tears in his eyes, as he left that he wanted to be baptized in two months and he wanted Arnold to baptize him.

We are meeting with him and the Elders at our apartment again on Saturday. Arnold says he will remind Jean Claude that he is far from perfect, but he’s sure he knows that. What miracles the Lord works! We have been waiting somewhat impatiently to go to Paris and because the Archives were closed we have been doing indexing at McDonald's. If we had gone to Paris when we were originally supposed to go, we never would have been indexing at McDonald's when Jean Claude happened to come in and see us and start to talk to us - the new missionaries would not have had a place to stay while the Mission goes to work finding them a new apartment. We are amazed at how things ALWAYS work for the best, even when they seem to be going against what we think things should be.

Tuesday, October 9


One of the most difficult parts of being a senior missionary is the feeling of missing out on the growth and development of your grandchildren, even the addition of new grandchildren. The Lord has provided counsel and solace for those who place Him first in priority.

Shortly after we arrived in Paris we drove to where we had been told the church building was located in the community of Torcy. Arriving there we did not find a typical LDS chapel as we had been told not to expect one because a local ordinance had been passed dictating that churches could not be conspicuous in their appearance. We found instead what appeared to be an office building with shops on the ground floor. Driving to the rear of the building we found ourselves in a parking lot and stopped to take a few pictures. As Arnold paid more attention to the subject matter than what was happening, JoAnn exclaimed, “Look at that bird… watch what he’s doing.”
There was a large crow or raven pecking on what appeared to be a large black nut of some sort. JoAnn said, “Watch what he does with it.” To our amazement the large black bird picked up the nut in his beak and took off, flying to a high altitude and, while diving toward the ground, dropped the nut on the pavement of the parking lot. Landing next to it he pecked at it a few more times then repeated his aerial display. This continued three or four more times until he finally succeeded in cracking open the nut. Just then another raven,who had been a witness with us to the genius of his cohort, dove from his vantage point atop the roof of the church building, attempting to steal the prize revealed by the display of intelligence of the first. Seeing his diving friend from the corner of his eye, the one who expended the effort grabbed his prize and flew off to enjoy the fruit of his labors. We were astounded by the display of intelligence of not only the first but even the second bird who seemed content to let his friend do all the work. Later, when we reviewed our photographs we discovered that we had inadvertently captured both of the ravens of Torcy.
Later that night as Arnold was reading the New Testament he came upon an appropriate verse in Luke. We had also recently viewed via the Internet our daughters' Internet blog sights marveling at the rapid growth rate of our grandchildren…thus adding to depth of the meaning of these verses. See Luke 12:24-34

“Consider the ravens: for they neither sow nor reap; which neither have storehouse nor barn; and God feedeth them: how much more are ye better than the fowls?”

“And which of you with taking thought can add to his stature one cubit?
If ye then be not able to do that thing which is least, why take ye thought for the rest?”

Then more recently our daughter Susan posted this very meaningful and appropriate picture on her blog… calling attention to the next verses of that passage in Luke.
“Consider the lilies how they grow: they toil not, they spin not; and yet I say unto you, that Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. If then God so clothe the grass, which is to day in the field… how much more will he clothe you,”

Then the entire meaning of these verses is summed up in verse 29 through 34

“And seek not ye what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink, neither be ye of doubtful mind. For all these things do the nations of the world seek after: and your Father knoweth that ye have need of these things.”

“But rather seek ye the kingdom of God; and all these things shall be added unto you.
Fear not, little flock; for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom…”

“For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.”


Dear Family and Friends, October 8, 2007

General Conference was another spiritual high for us. I got so much from every single talk that we can’t wait to download them from the Internet.
And who can forget that image of 90-year-old Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin shaking at the pulpit with Russell M. Nelson steadying him by his side while Elder Wirthlin continues talking on, of all subjects, service and love. It truly amazed me that he kept on talking and delivered his entire message, then as he turned to leave the pulpit we all heard a little thank you to his dear friend, colleague, and probably his physician, on the Quorum of the Twelve.
The messages by President Henry B. Eyring indicate another strong voice in the First Presidency. His counsel on how to prepare for a new calling is priceless. Taken to heart by me personally was his comment in his second talk that he received the prompting as a young man to write down daily experiences. The spirit spoke to him, “I am not giving you this experience for yourself— write it down.” Then the follow up thought to write down… “How the Lord has touched your life today?”
We’ll never forget the newest member of the Twelve, Quentin L. Cook ,and his visit to our stake in North Las Vegas (not too long before we turned in our mission papers) with his enthusiasm and dedication to missionary work. We read recently that he had been named to the Presidency of the Seventy and before he had a chance to get his feet wet in that assignment, the Lord calls him to the Quorum of the Twelve. What a great example of service.

Who can forget the images of the humble Hispanic member of the Presidency of the Central America Area, Elder Enrique R. Falabella, and his father polishing his old worn out shoe, but with the toe still showing through the hole, how he put polish on his toe. What a great way of saying that he came from humble beginnings without bragging about it. and how he learned early in his life that happiness does not depend on money.
Who can forget the conversion story of Elder Uchtdorf in ruins of postwar Germany and the healing message of hope brought by the gospel of Jesus Christ to his family in their hour of need under the most devastating of conditions.
Then there was our old friend from Irvine, L. Whitney Clayton, whose wife Kathy served as JoAnn’s counselor in what later grew to be one of the largest Primaries in our memory with over 200 children. His comments were so timely in the priesthood session about pornography, and the Internet, and bad movies and television, “If it isn’t too bad then it can’t be too good either.” His closing comment… “The healing power of the atonement reaches all afflictions even this one” are powerful indeed.
The talk by our childhood friend David L. Bednar with his beautiful explanation of the true meaning of what it is to have “a Broken Heart and a Contrite Spirit” with his explanation of how it means “doing good and being good” show his deep wisdom and insight.
The talk by President Monson about his neighborhood friend Arthur Patton’s joining the Navy at 15 and getting killed just before his 19th birthday, how he felt moved as a young man to comfort Arthur’s mother, and years latter remembering that experience in a conference talk and addressing that talk to her not knowing if she would hear it. That Arthur lives. How she was invited to a neighbor’s home to hear conference and heard that talk… not by chance but by the Lord’s intervention. His words to her that she could say to Arthur “goodbye until we meet again” caused me to lean over to my companion seated beside me and say… “That talk was meant for Ryan’s family in their need to be comforted at this time.

Last Tuesday we had our Zone Conference. In one of the discussion sessions, one of our Zone Leaders asked the question. What is doctrine? We received an e-mail letter from our daughter, Susan, a few days ago that answered that question most effectively. Susan’s husband Ryan’s uncle Kent, who was paraplegic in an electric wheelchair most of his adult life, had fallen into their swimming pool unnoticed and drowned last week. His death came as a sudden shock to all of his family since he was able to take care of himself adequately except in this particular circumstance. Susan’s children knew Uncle Kent very well as they are a close family and live not far from where he lived. It was particularly difficult for their five-year-old Emma who has not had to deal with death in her short lifetime. As they were discussing it in family home evening, Emma sat in her mother’s lap and began to sob, saying she missed Uncle Kent. Then her seven-year-old sister, Sarah, reached over and touched her and said with tears in her eyes, “In church I learned about the second coming and when Jesus comes again those people who died will come with him.” There she was, trying to assure her little sister that they will see Uncle Kent again. That a seven-year-old would comfort her little five-year-old sister with doctrine, gave the perfect answer to what our Zone Leader had asked. And it was so beautifully touched on by Elder Monson in his talk about Arthur’s death and the comfort he was able to give to his mother.
D&C 133:56 And the graves of the saints shall be opened; and they shall come forth and stand on the right hand of the Lamb, when he shall stand upon Mount Zion, and upon the holy city, the New Jerusalem; and they shall sing the song of the Lamb, day and night forever and ever.

Mosiah 18:9 Yea, and are willing to mourn with those that mourn; yea, and comfort those that stand in need of comfort, and to stand as witnesses of God at all times and in all things, and in all places that ye may be in… that ye may be redeemed of God, and be numbered with those of the first resurrection, that ye may have eternal life—

Revelation 21:4 And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain…

We have been treated to a veritable feast of spiritual experiences here in France over the last three weeks. Elder Richard G. Scott visited our mission and took five hours out of his busy schedule to teach and edify us with his rich experiences and wisdom as a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. He promised us that if we will put into practice the teachings he would give us, it will change our lives forever. One teaching that he gave us that sank deeply into my soul was that if the spirit prompts us to do something and we fail to act on it then the spirit will withdraw. On the other hand every time we act on a prompting of the spirit it strengthens our ability to receive promptings in the future.

The next day I had such an experience that has changed my life and especially my outlook on serving others, especially those in need. As a tall American working as a missionary in France, I am occasionally stopped in supermarkets by short French women asking for my assistance in reaching some package that is beyond their grasp. I suppose as a senior missionary my gray hair makes me less threatening to them as some other tall men that might be around. It usually pleases me that they would stop me and ask for my help and I regard it as a privilege. It flatters me that they ask, or is it just my height? Perhaps they see my missionary badge, which is somewhat different from that of the other missionaries in that it is white with the Family Search logo of our calling to serve a Family History mission, which causes these cute little old ladies to mistake me for a store employee.

That day in particular however, it was a different kind of experience that made me appreciate the opportunity to be of service to someone in need. My sweet missionary companion and I were in one of the large supermarkets that have sprung up all over France since my first mission here some 46 years ago. We were near what in America might be loosely defined as the Deli section. I came near a group of people that seemed at first to be with this little lady in an electric wheelchair, then they all turned from her in what could be termed a gentle but obvious move of avoidance. I looked in her direction then her eyes met mine. It was then that I realized that she was acutely handicapped as she appeared to be suffering from what we might term as muscular dystrophy or perhaps cerebral palsy. I also turned from her gaze, uncomfortable by that intense look. Those eyes were wide in her sunken thin face. It then occurred to me that she was pleading for some kind of help. Remembering Elder Scott’s comments about recognizing the promptings of the spirit and acting on them, impulsively, and I would like to think that it was the spirit of what he had said that prompted me to turn once again and face the little lady in the wheel chair and mutter “Puis je vous aider?” - May I help you? Her condition made it impossible for her to answer in words. But her eyes gave the non-verbal response in the most pleading way, yet in relief… “Oui, s’il vous plaît!” - Yes, please! Then her thin bony hand moved slowly yet deliberately upward with an outstretched finger she touched a package that she could not quite grasp. I reached out and took hold of the package asking if that was what she wanted half expecting a verbal confirmation but her eyes once again spoke as she looked down into the large shopping bag in her lap that most people carry here, since French supermarkets do not provide free bags in their concern for the environment. So I gently placed the package in her bag and looked back in her face for some confirmation that I had done what she wanted. I felt her approval but again no words escaped that tongue long bound by her condition. The look of gratitude on her face was sufficient to let me know that I had not made a mistake. As I turned to find and follow my companion, the thought poured over me that, as trying as her condition is to her, it is not she who is being tested but in some way it is we who are whole and able that are being tested by her circumstance. She has come to deal with her state but we, those around her are the ones being tested by our reactions to her. I felt a little ashamed at my first reaction to her pleading gaze but then grateful for the promptings of the spirit that caused me to turn and say, “Puis je vous aider?” May I help you?

I’d like to end this epistle on a note that I hope will make you smile…

We got the cutest story from our daughter Susan. She told us about their three-year-old, Joseph and his particular insight into the English language. As they were walking down the hallway in church they heard a man’s voice coming from behind a curtain. Joseph looked up at his mom and said “Whobuddy?” Susan said “What?” He repeated. “Whobuddy is that?” Then she thought about what he had said and realized what he was asking. We say Somebody, Anybody, Nobody… so why not “Whobody.” Well, thinking about it, that makes sense to me.

Always remember that Heavenly Father loves you and so do we,

Elder et Soeur Miller / Mom and Dad / Arn and Jody

Monday, October 8


ELDER RICHARD G SCOTT, OF THE COUNCIL OF THE TWELVE APOSTLES, was in France to speak at a Stake Conference. When he talked with President Merrell, he said that he would have to speak with the missionaries. They made an impromptu Zone Conference and arranged for missionaries from 3 zones to attend. He was supposed to speak to us for about 4 hours but extended it to 5 ½ hours. He then had all the stake and ward officers of the Toulouse Stake (not the stake he was visiting originally) meet with him directly after that. He asked President Merrell if he would be able to speak to the other missionaries in our mission who were not at the Zone Conference. President Merrell said the only way would be for them to get up at 4:00 a.m. to fly to Nice. Elder Scott said, “Let’s do it.” So they got up at 4:00 the next morning (after a complete day in Toulouse) and flew to Nice, where he spoke to the missionaries there, then added a few more meetings before he held meetings for the stake he was supposed to speak at. He then asked the stake president if they could meet with the leadership of the stake. The stake president said it would have to be at 7:00 in the morning. Elder Scott said, “Let’s do it.” After all the Sunday meetings he decided to have a fireside with all the young adults that evening. Then late to bed and off at 4:00 am the next morning.

Sarah, Anna, Joshua Merrell and Elder Scott
We’re not sure of the timing, but after a long day of meetings, etc., they went back to the mission home and Elder Scott told President Merrell’s 3 children that as soon as he took care of a few things he would have some time to play games with them. So after an exhausting schedule that would kill most young men, this elderly gentleman took the time at the end of the day (knowing he had to get up at 4:00 a.m. the next morning) to play Pictionary with 3 teenage children.

He was amazing at our meeting. We were so impressed that with his huge schedule and at his age, he seemed so calm and unhurried. He did not seem tired or put out at having to do so much. He seemed so at ease. And you must remember that most of these were impromptu meetings that he had to conduct, teach, instruct, speak at, etc. We kept wondering how and when he prepared for them. At the end of the meeting, Elder Scott insisted on shaking the hands of everyone there. Our favorite missionary, Elder Childress, was playing the piano quietly while Elder Scott shook all the hands. JoAnn was beginning to worry that Elder Childress was going to miss out on this marvelous opportunity, but after shaking all the missionaries' hands, he turned and went up on the stand to personally talk to and Elder Childress and shake his hand. We were so impressed by his sensitivity to each and every one of us.
After our zone conference, several Elders said that he had answered questions that they had had – that he seemed to be speaking just to them with what they needed the most. It was incredible.

As a member of the Council of the Twelve Apostles, his main object is to testify of Christ to the world. He had someone read DandC 93:1 and said, “I know this scripture is true.” He said it was too sacred to go into details, but he wanted us to know that he knows that Jesus lives. He gave a beautiful testimony of the atonement. He said that all of the 12 know just as assuredly as he knows. They have not talked about the details of how they know, but they testify strongly that they indeed do know.

He taught us something that he said would change our lives if he would follow it. It was:
“Throughout the remainder of my life I will consistently strive to learn by what I hear, see and feel. I will write down the important things I learn and I will do them.”
“To be inspired is to know what to do. To be endowed with power is to have the capacity to do.”

Good ideas we have when we are doing what is right are always or nearly always of the Spirit. Write them down so you don’t forget, so you show that they are important to you. Often as we write down our impressions of the Spirit, He will give us more as we write.
When taking notes of meetings, lessons, etc. use brackets [ ] to put our impressions. Often they will come and even may not be regarding what we are hearing, but the spirit is talking to us nevertheless. Then later write them down somewhere so that you can act on them.
He has a journal and then he has a special journal on his computer that is password protected for the things that are too spiritual for everyone to read. He puts those special things there.

Elder Scott says he sometimes goes back to read his journal and reads things that he has forgotten. He says, if you write them down they may be forgotten but they are not lost.

He told us that Elder Eyring has for years taken a small tape recorder when he speaks and puts the small microphone up next to the large one and when he starts to speak he turns on the tape recorder. He has said that when listening to the talks later he often learns things he did not know (things that the Spirit had him say in his talks).
Elder Scott told a story of how he learned to be a counselor. In a meeting with the first presidency and the 12, Spencer Kimball was going over some important material. He inadvertently left out an important part. Instead of bringing it to everyone’s attention, his counselor Nathan B. Tanner, every so slightly moved his little finger over to touch President Kimball’s hand. President Kimball then looked over his notes again, found the section he had left out and then presented it to the group.,